SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  17-23.3.12, No. 415  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China supports Annan's Syria mediation efforts (China Daily)
2012-03-17
Chinese ambassador to the UN Li Baodong said here Friday that China supports Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan's mediation efforts concerning the Syrian crisis, calling upon the international community to support Annan's efforts and create conditions for his mediation. Li made the remarks after attending the Security Council informal consultation and hearing Annan's briefing via video-link from Geneva. Li said the Security Council had an in-depth exchange of views with Annan on the situation in Syria. "Mr. Annan highly appreciated China's position on Syria and said he valued China's constructive role in addressing the Syrian issue. He also expressed his willingness to visit China at an early date," Li said. [...] The ambassador said China hopes that all relevant parties in Syria will cooperate with and support Annan's mediation efforts, stop violence immediately, show political will and flexibility, and launch the process of political dialogue at an early date. [...] "I think we need to deal with the Syrian situation very carefully," Annan told reporters in Geneva after his briefing at the Security Council. Annan said the killing in Syria must be stopped immediately for the sake of the Syrian people and the mankind. ^ top ^

Chinese vice president calls for closer ties with Israel, peace in Mid-East (Global Times)
2012-03-18
Vice President Xi Jinping on Friday called for closer exchanges and cooperation with Israel, as well as "comprehensive and long-term" peace between Israel and Arabic countries. During a meeting with visiting Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, Xi hailed the progress of China-Israel relations since diplomatic ties were forged in 1992. He asked both sides to deepen political trust and boost friendly exchanges in order to further bilateral ties. Xi said China has always strived for a comprehensive, fair and reasonable solution to conflicts in the Middle East. China believes Israel, Palestine and other Arabic countries should settle disputes and achieve reconciliation via political discussions, he said. Xi highlighted existing principles and agreements as a foundation for the discussions, including United Nations resolutions, the "Land-for-Peace" principle, the Arab Peace Initiative and the "roadmap for peace" outlined in a 2002 speech by former U.S. President George W. Bush. When discussing the state of Israel-China ties, Lieberman said the Jewish and Chinese people share a "traditional friendship." Israel attaches great importance to its relations with China and will work to promote bilateral ties, he said, adding that Israel hopes to realize peaceful co-existence with Arabic countries. ^ top ^

China patrols S China Sea to fight illegal exploration (China Daily)
2012-03-20
A China Marine Surveillance (CMS) patrol team recently finished its third mission targeted at the illegal exploration of oil and gas in the South China Sea, a maritime official said Monday. The team included the Haijian 83 and Haijian 75 patrol ships from the South Sea fleet of the China Maritime Surveillance Force in the southern city of Guangzhou, said a source with the South China Sea branch of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA). The team focused on searching for and monitoring illegal offshore oil and gas extraction platforms, discovering more than 30 illegal platforms in total, the SOA source said. The CMS has been sending patrols to the South China Sea and other Chinese territorial waters since 2007. The South Sea fleet of the China Maritime Surveillance Force has intensified its patrols in the South China Sea in recent years, conducting nearly three times as many missions in 2011 as it did in 2008. ^ top ^

China supports extension of UN mission in Afghanistan (China Daily)
2012-03-21
China supports the recommendation of the UN secretary-general on extending the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for another year and calls for more attention to the economic reconstruction in Afghanistan, Chinese UN ambassador Li Baodong said here Tuesday. Li told a Security Council open debate on UNAMA that peace- building in Afghanistan is at a crucial juncture. [...] China welcomes the positive work done by the Afghan government for national reconstruction, and supports Afghanistan in strengthening efforts in political, rule of law, security and development fields, promoting national reconciliation and Kabul process, and implementing the peace and reintegration program, the ambassador said. [...] He said China hopes that the international community would fully respect the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the country, adhere to the principle of Afghan leadership and ownership, develop in-depth partnership with Afghanistan and provide constructive help for its national reconciliation and reconstruction. [...] "We call on the international community to give greater attention to economic reconstruction in Afghanistan, effectively honor the relevant commitments and increase assistance according to national priority programs formulated by Afghanistan so as to promote the sustainable development of the country with a view to solving the root causes of the turbulence in Afghanistan," he added. [...] "China appreciates the active efforts of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan to push through the Afghan peace and reconstruction process," Li said, adding that China supports the United Nations in its continued leading role in coordinating aid to support the Afghan peace and reconstruction. ^ top ^

China provides Nigeria with satellite (People's Daily Online)
2012-03-21
The China Great Wall Industry Corporation has given the recently launched NigComSat 1-R to its Nigerian counterpart at the Oba-sanjo Space Center in Abuja. The NigComSat 1-R, which was launched on December 20th, 2011 has completed the in-orbit test and is ready for commercial operation. The CGWIC is also prepared for the immediate take-off of the satellite programs NigComSat 2 and NigComSat 3. Nigeria's communications satellite NigComSat 1 was successfully launched in 2007 in China but de-orbited in November 2008 due to malfunction of the solar array deployment assembly. China decided in 2009 to build NigComSat 1-R to replace the defunct one without adding additional costs for Nigeria. NigComSat-1R will be mainly used for communications, broadcasting, tele-education, broad-band multimedia service and navigation service. ^ top ^

Chinese vice president vows closer ties with Eygpt (People's Daily Online)
2012-03-22
Vice President Xi Jinping met with visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr in Beijing on Wednesday, vowing to boost bilateral ties. Xi said relations between China and Egypt have withstood the test of a fluctuating international situation since the forging of diplomatic ties 56 years ago. China is satisfied with the growth of China-Egypt relations, he said, adding that his government has attached great importance to developing ties with Egypt. China hopes to work closely with the country to further consolidate political trust and enhance coordination in global affairs, Xi added. He expressed willingness to share experience with Egypt in reform and development, adding that China will encourage its companies to invest in Egypt, promote the creation of the China-Egypt Suez economic and trade cooperation zone and cement bilateral cooperation in multiple areas. In response, Mohammed Amr hailed the remarkable achievements of Egypt-China cooperation over the years, adding that his government highly values its relations with China and hopes to boost the development of bilateral cooperation [...] Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held talks with Amr, with both calling for adherence to a political solution to the Syrian conflict. The two ministers said the international community should respect the choice of the Syrian people and support mediation efforts made by joint UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, according to a press release from the Foreign Ministry. They also called for safeguarding peace and stability in Syria and the Middle East and promoting an early resolution to the conflict. The two sides said relevant parties in Syria should put an immediate end to violence there and begin political talks. [...]. ^ top ^

China calls for dialogue on Iranian nuclear issue (China Daily)
2012-03-22
China on Wednesday called on all parties concerned to adopt constructive measures and start sustainable dialogue on the Iranian nuclear issue as soon as possible. The statement came as Wang Min, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, spoke to a Security Council meeting on the Iran nuclear program. Thanks to the joint efforts of all parties, the P5+1 countries, namely the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain as well as Iran have expressed their willingness of faithful dialogue. The process of solving Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue has shown positive momentum, Wang said. "China hopes all parties concerned will narrow down their differences, adopt constructive measures, launch sustainable dialogue at an early date, actively explore comprehensive, long- term and proper solutions for Iranian nuclear problem," he noted. The current situation in the Middle East is undergoing profound changes, Wang said. Safeguarding regional peace and stability and avoiding bigger turbulence in the region is in line with the common interests of all parties. [...] "Against such backdrop, it is of more pragmatic importance to be firmly committed to dialogue and negotiations in order to properly solve the Iranian nuclear issue," said Wang. [...] China always believes that the Security Council resolutions should be implemented in an earnest, comprehensive and accurate way. However, sanctions are not the purpose of resolutions. Only through dialogue and cooperation can the Iranian nuclear issue be properly solved, Wang said. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese, U.S. officials discuss bilateral ties, Korean Peninsula (People's Daily Online)
2012-03-23
Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo talked about bilateral relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula with U.S. National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon by phone Thursday. The two sides said they are ready to make joint efforts to implement the crucial consensus reached by Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Barack Obama and solidify the achievements made during Vice President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States in February. Both sides expressed the will to keep forging ahead along the right track of building a cooperative partnership of mutual respect and mutual benefit. Dai said the recent important headway carved in the negotiations between the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was hard-won. He said relevant parties should keep calm and exert restraint in light of the current overall situation and long-term benefits and act cautiously to maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula, which is in line with the common interests of all sides. ^ top ^

China calls for dialogue, cooperation in human rights disputes (Xinhua)
2012-03-23
China said Thursday that dialogue and cooperation are the proper methods for resolving disputes over human rights issues. "We oppose countries exerting pressure on a certain country through the resolution of human rights issues," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing, commenting on a resolution concerning Sri Lanka to be voted on by the UN Human Rights Council. The resolution calls for Sri Lanka to properly investigate alleged war crimes during the final stages of its 26-year conflict with the Tamil Tigers. Hong spoke highly of the "great progress" Sri Lanka has scored in promoting human rights and realizing national reconciliation. China believes that the government and people of Sri Lanka have the ability to handle the country's domestic affairs. The international community should create favorable conditions for Sri Lanka to stabilize its domestic situation and develop its economy, instead of measures that may further complicate issues. ^ top ^

China, Japan and ROK move closer to trilateral investment treaty (Xinhua)
2012-03-23
Delegates from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have concluded negotiations over an investment treaty, and the three countries promised to go through domestic process as soon as possible, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Thursday. After three days of talks in Beijing, the three countries reached a "substantial consensus" on issues concerning the treaty and signed a protocol based on the negotiations, the MOC said in a statement posted on its website. Negotiations over the trilateral investment treaty began in 2007. It was regarded as the foundation for the building of a free trade area between the three countries. The MOC previously said that it hopes to start negotiations on the free trade area at the fifth trilateral leaders' meeting in May. ^ top ^

Stopping Vietnam's fishing boats 'lawful' (China Daily)
2012-03-23
China's recent decision to intercept Vietnamese fishing boats, which were fishing illegally in Chinese territorial waters, is legitimate and lawful, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. Recently, more than 100 Vietnamese fishing boats entered the adjacent territorial waters of China's Xisha Islands and started fishing illegally, ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news conference in Beijing. On March 4, China's related governing bodies intercepted 21 Vietnamese fishermen and two Vietnamese fishing boats, which entered the internal waters of China's Xisha Islands, undertook illegal operations and did not leave after being warned. [...] The Vietnamese fishermen's fishing piracy in the waters of the Xisha Islands violated China's sovereignty and due maritime rights and interests, Hong said. "The related governing body's decision to intercept and investigate the vessels and crews is a justified law enforcement activity." [...] Beijing demands that Hanoi take feasible measures to strengthen the education and management of its fishermen and stop illegal fishing, Hong said. Vietnam is "asking for an immediate and unconditional release of the fishermen and the vessels", Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi said in a statement earlier in the day. The incident is the latest in a string of maritime skirmishes between the neighbors over islands in the South China Sea. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Microblog users on net after deadline (SCMP)
2012-03-17
Microblog users who had not submitted real names could still put up posts on Beijing-based services yesterday, the deadline set last month banning users who fail to register real names and identity card numbers. Internet users' tests found that existing users and some newly registered ones could still post on popular microblog services at Sina.com, sohu.com and 163.com, as well as Shenzhen-based Tencent.com, which was ordered to implement the real-name system in December. Jason Ng, a Beijing-based blogger, said the move was likely to suffer the same fate as the content control software Green Dam Youth Escort, which officials wanted installed on all computers. It never happened. [...] The mainland has more than 300 million microblog users, more than half of its 517 million internet users, although many people have more than one account. [...] Analysts said authorities wanted to use the real-name registration system to better monitor and control public opinion, while using government microblog accounts to guide views. It would also make it easier for police to track people who posted "unharmonious" content. Major microblog operators have tried to encourage their users to provide details since January by alerting them with private online messages and offering video VIP membership for 60 days or lucky-prize draws. [...] Microbloggers complaints cover inequality, official corruption and man-made disasters, rivalling the influence of state-controlled media. Officials acknowledge that microblogs provide useful outlets for critical public opinion, but repeatedly accuse microbloggers of spreading unfounded rumours and vulgarity. [...]. ^ top ^

Top leaders meet civil affairs staff, urge progress (Xinhua)
2012-03-20
President Hu Jintao and other top leaders on Monday met and extended regards to staffers who have worked to advance China's civil affairs programs. Hu shook hands with representatives from civil affairs organs and congratulated their staff members for outstanding achievements at a national civil affairs conference held in Beijing. Premier Wen Jiabao said at the conference that China has attached greater importance to improving societal well-being and promoting social fairness in recent years. "Groundbreaking achievements" in civil affairs have been made, Wen said, adding that social assistance systems to aid low-income urban and rural residents and disaster-affected people have been established, as well as insurance systems for orphans and soldiers who have returned to civilian life. Wen said China's social management and public service facilities "have not lived up to the people's expectations" because of laggard reform in both fields. Wen suggesting improving China's civil affairs undertakings by integrating government management with social self-governance. He said the government should advance democracy in grassroots communities, develop China's social welfare system and encourage social organizations and individuals to engage in charitable activities. The premier urged the Ministry of Civil Affairs to play a leading role in social construction and take policymaking and the results of civil affairs inspections into consideration when assessing the performance of local governments. Disaster, poverty relief and social welfare programs, as well as insurance for low-income people, should be the first target for local governments' financial input, Wen said. Vice President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Li Keqiang attended the conference, which was presided over by Vice Premier Hui Liangyu. ^ top ^

Rail link's saga of waste and fraud goes on (SCMP)
2012-03-20
Evidence of yet more fraud, waste, mismanagement and irregular accounting and procurement worth billions of yuan was uncovered in the construction and running of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, according to a report by the National Audit Office yesterday. Irregularities included 491 million yuan (HK$600 million) misappropriated or embezzled by local officials. Serious problems and irregularities related to the project dated back to the bidding process in late 2007, with auditors finding the Ministry of Railways had not followed standard tendering procedures for civil engineering work and contracts for construction materials. In some cases, civil engineering companies were given just 13 hours to place their bids, rather than the minimum of five days stipulated by regulations. The report, the audit office's third investigation into the high-profile rail link, also found there had been difficulties in making payments for the construction work. At the end of May last year, the line had debts of more than 8.25 billion yuan owed to 656 materials suppliers and 1,471 construction contractors. There were also unnecessary costs incurred through mismanagement of the construction process. [...] The report also found that though construction of the flagship project had been completed on time, it had run almost 20 per cent over budget. [...] However, the auditors' report said there had been a marked improvement in the situation compared to the previous investigation - released in March last year - which had found financial irregularities totalling almost 5 billion yuan. "Up to late September 2011, correction of problems found in the 2010 audit had basically been fully implemented," the report said. ^ top ^

Cyber attacks against China remain severe: report (Xinhua)
2012-03-20
A computer security official said China has become the world's biggest victim of cyber attacks, with a report from a national computer monitoring center revealing that many domestic computers were controlled via overseas-based Internet Protocol addresses (IPs) last year. A total of 47,000 overseas IPs were involved in attacks against 8.9 million Chinese computers last year, compared to nearly 5 million affected computers in 2010, according to a report issued Monday by the National Computer Network Emergency Response Coordination Center of China (CNCERT/CC), China's primary computer security monitoring network. Most of the IP addresses originated in Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK), according to the agency. "China has become the world's biggest victim of cyber attacks," said Zhou Yonglin, an information security official from the Internet Society of China. In terms of website security, a total of 1,116 domestic websites were tampered with by overseas-based hackers; in addition, 95.8 percent of the server IPs that maliciously falsified the websites of domestic banks were also based overseas, according to the report. [...] Zhou said the CNCERT will deepen its cooperation with other countries in computer security. The CNCERT has established cooperative relations with 40 countries and 79 organizations thus far. ^ top ^

Plug pulled on dissident artist Ai's microblog (SCMP)
2012-03-20
For nearly two hours on Sunday, dissident artist Ai Weiwei was able to maintain a Twitter-like microblog account, briefly raising hopes the central government had relaxed some of its tight control over online expression. Ai's first microblog post said: "Testing. Ai Weiwei. March 18, 2012." His account on Sina, the operator of the country's most popular microblogging platform, drew 10,680 followers in that brief period, he told Reuters on Monday, including the jubilant-sounding comment: "The moment has come. The skies have changed in China." Shortly afterwards, however, the account was inaccessible, apparently deleted by government censors. Ai [...] said he used his social security number to register the microblog account after discovering that his name was unexpectedly no longer blocked. "The controls are very strong," Ai said by telephone. "They [the government] are very insecure, they are not ready for any kind of change." It was unclear what caused the crack in the "Great Firewall" as microblog operators such as Sina comply with government orders and monitor content, blocking and removing comments deemed unacceptable or too sensitive. [...] Ai said his account was deleted just past midnight on Monday, replaced with a message that read: "Error. Invalid Weibo user". He said this was the first time he had succeeded in creating a weibo account. Ai is active on Twitter and has more than 131,000 followers. ^ top ^

CPC officials urged to uphold moral standards (Xinhua)
2012-03-21
A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Tuesday called on communist cadres to maintain purity of minds and uphold social ethics so to be role models to others. Li Yuanchao, head of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at the ceremony to mark the beginning of spring semester held for three Communist Party official schools: China Executive Leadership Academy, Pudong; China Executive Leadership Academy, Jinggangshan; and China Executive Leadership Academy, Yan'an. Li said Party officials, with far-reaching social influence, should play exemplary roles in practicing socialist core values. Li also urged party officials to feel empathy for the general public, to be concerned with their life difficulties and to try to solve their problems. Additionally, Li encouraged Party officials not to pursue personal gains, but give themselves to the country and to resist money-worshiping and hedonism. ^ top ^

Number of NGOs in China grows to nearly 500,000 (China Daily)
2012-03-20
The number of legitimately registered non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in China has grown from 354,000 to 460,000 over the past five years, the Minister of Civil Affairs said Tuesday. Li Liguo, the minister, announced the figure at the national meeting on civil affairs, which is held every five years. At the meeting, Li also said that the ministry will delegate local authorities to examine and approve non-public funds across the nation, aiming at improving administrative efficiency, with some non-public funds already approved by local authorities. The functions of civil affair offices at central and provincial levels should be policymaking, supervision, investigation and assessment, and specific matters should be handed to NGOs including training and scientific research, Li said. "China will further the innovation of the administrative system of managing civil affairs and will deepen its reform," Li added. The ministry will also encourage local civil affairs offices to positively carry out non-profit services for the public such as community services, donation services, pension services and charitable services, Li said. At the meeting, Vice Premier Hui Liangyu praised the hard work done by staff working in civil affairs posts and encouraged them to carry forward the spirit. Hui also urged relevant departments at all levels to strengthen cooperation and increase the investment in national cause of civil affairs in order to promote its development. ^ top ^

State sounds battle cry against pollution (China Daily)
2012-03-21
China closed most of its lead-acid battery plants last year, and it vows to continue fighting heavy-metal pollution. The Ministry of Environmental Protection said it checked nearly 2,000 lead-acid battery enterprises in 2011 and 81 percent of them were shut down for not meeting environmental standards, leaving only 315 in operation. "The crackdown has made the industry upgrade its production techniques for better pollution prevention," said Zhou Shengxian, minister of environmental protection, at a national video and teleconference on Tuesday. [...] Nine cases of lead poisoning were reported from January to August last year. [...] "Preventing and controlling heavy-metal pollution, and strengthening supervision of such enterprises will remain as the most important part of this year's environmental protection campaign," Zhou said. [...] "Stricter measures must be taken this year," Zhou said. In January and February, four incidents of lead poisoning were reported in Guangdong and Henan provinces, and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [...] Zhao Jiarong, deputy secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that a total of 28 billion yuan ($4.43 billion) has been allocated this year to improve sewage and garbage treatment in urban and rural areas and for the prevention of heavy-metal pollution. ^ top ^

Lawyers must swear loyalty to the party (SCMP)
2012-03-22
To become a lawyer on the mainland one must now swear an oath of support to the leadership of the Communist Party. The Ministry of Justice recently set up the oath system for new lawyers, the Legal Daily reported yesterday. The oath reads: "I wish to become a lawyer of the People's Republic of China, and I guarantee to fulfil the sacred mission of a law worker of socialism with Chinese characteristics, be loyal to the country, be loyal to the people, support the leadership of the Communist Party, support the socialist system, protect the constitution and the authority of the law." The All China Lawyers Association had put an oath system in place in 2000, but it was not effectively implemented, a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying. The new system would help a lawyer "strengthen his commitment" to the profession and help "concretely elevate the political standards and professional ethics" of the mainland's lawyers. A notice issued by the ministry said that swearing-in ceremonies would be held collectively for anyone who had obtained their permit to practice in the past three months. Beijing lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said although the city's lawyers' association had held swearing-in ceremonies for new lawyers since 2000, the oath upheld the constitution and a lawyer had to promise to abide by the rules of the association. Liu said it was the first time "political requirement" had been included in the oath. And the body responsible for enforcing it is now a government department. [...]

Since 2008, when Wang Shengjun became president of the Supreme People's Court, the courts have been asked to support the interests of the Communist Party, the people and the law. Law firms have been required to set up Communist Party offices if they have more than three party members. [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese VP stresses Party role in non-public sector (Xinhua)
2012-03-22
Vice President Xi Jinping on Wednesday stressed the importance of the role played by the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the country's non-public enterprises. Non-public enterprises, including private companies and businesses controlled by overseas shares, are an "important force in the development of the socialist market economy," said Xi, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the CPC's Central Committee. "The multitude of non-public enterprises and their role have determined the increasingly important nature of party-building in the non-public sector," he told a national meeting. Party-building is still new to non-public enterprises and many problems have emerged, Xi said, adding that more efforts should be made in recruiting party members and enhancing the CPC's influence. Party activities organized in non-public companies should center on implementing CPC guidelines and policies, safeguarding workers' rights and interests, building an advanced corporate culture and promoting enterprises' development, he said. [...]. ^ top ^

State Council meets on transport safety, quality (China Daily)
2012-03-22
Safety and quality are the top priorities for China's transport infrastructure construction, the State Council said on Wednesday. A strict mechanism for transport safety supervision and quality management should be established in coordination with the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), according to a statement issued by the State Council, after an executive meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao. The mechanism should cover every stage of the construction from planning, design and construction to operation, it said. [...] The meeting, which discussed and adopted the 12th Five-Year Plan for building a comprehensive transport system, also agreed that transport infrastructure can be "moderately advanced", and private investment is encouraged in the infrastructure construction. China aims to form a comprehensive transport network by 2015, which has five east-west arteries and five north-south arteries as the backbones. [...] The emphasis on safety and quality at the State Council's executive meeting is in response to growing public worries over the safety of the country's sprawling transport network. [...] The meeting also discussed and passed the 12th Five-Year Plan for the national project on safe drinking water in rural areas. Further efforts are required to guarantee the safety of drinking water for the 298 million rural residents and 114,000 rural schools, while supplying 80 percent of the rural areas with water. [...] A prevention and governance system for water quality is also necessary to curb water pollution. The conference also emphasized the importance of encouraging the participation of farmers while promoting water conservation. ^ top ^

Massive Chinese water diversion project accelerates (Xinhua)
2012-03-22
Construction on a project to divert water from south China to the arid north has been accelerating, with some diversion channels set to go into operation soon, an official leading the project said. The resettlement of residents affected by the project has been proceeding smoothly, Vice Premier Li Keqiang, also director of the committee in charge of building the water project, said Tuesday. Upon completion, the project will feature three primary diversion channels: an eastern channel, a central channel and a western channel. Li noted that a countdown has begun for the opening of the eastern channel, while the central channel will go into operation in 2014. The project will be helpful for the dry north, which in recent years has been hit by frequent droughts. Beijing and its neighbor Tianjin have received about 40 percent less precipitation this winter than in previous years, Li said. Construction on the project was launched in late 2002. Investment in the project was 57.8 billion yuan (9.2 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011, with the accumulative amount spent reaching 137.6 billion yuan. ^ top ^

SW China forest fire extinguished (Xinhua)
2012-03-22
A forest fire that has raged since last Sunday in southwest China's Yunnan province was extinguished Wednesday morning, local firefighters said. The forest fire was extinguished around 10:30 a.m. with the help of 2,500 fighters and local citizens, the provincial forest fire prevention headquarters said. Firefighters are still on the scene to make sure the fire doesn't reignite, the headquarters said. The fire broke out at 5:25 p.m. Sunday in Yimen county. It spread despite overnight firefighting efforts, reaching Caopu township in Anning, a county-level city on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Kunming, on Monday. Police have arrested a suspect who was charged with littering cigarette butts while performing electrical maintenance work in the forest. A severe drought has lingered in Yunnan for three consecutive years, causing water shortages for several million residents and creating fire risks. Yunnan is China's second most heavily-forested province, with a total forest coverage of 47 percent. ^ top ^

China border province makes record drug seizure in 2011 (Global Times)
2012-03-23
Police in Yunnan said they seized 13.5 tonnes of narcotics last year, the largest annual seizure reported by the drug-plagued border province in southwest China. The record seizure shows that effective strategies were put forth in the five-year campaign that kicked off last year to target drug trafficking in the province, said Yan Shangzhi, vice head of the Department of Public Security of Yunnan. The campaign led to the busts of several cross-border drug trafficking gangs and the arrests of 17,000 suspected drug dealers last year. In the same period, police apprehended 167 people for producing drugs and confiscated 525 tonnes of materials used in the drugs' production. Yunnan province is among the Chinese regions most affected by drug use, due to its proximity to the opium-growing Golden Triangle in neighboring Southeast Asian countries. [...]. ^ top ^

China to modify more rules in line with criminal procedure law revision (Xinhua)
2012-03-23
The Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) will draft or modify more rules in accordance with the newly amended Criminal Procedure Law in a bid to ensure effective law enforcement at the procuratorate level. The revised law, adopted earlier this month during China's annual legislative session, includes the phrase "respecting and protecting human rights" in its first chapter on basic principles. The revised law stresses protecting suspects and defendants from illegal restriction, detention and arrest. "In order to ensure effective law enforcement during the procuratorial stage, the Supreme People's Procuratorate will map out new rules and modify current explanatory documents to accompany the newly revised law," said a statement released Thursday after a meeting of the SPP. According to the statement, the new rules and modifications will concern issues such as technological investigative methods, home surveillance for occupational crimes, information sharing and cooperation among procuratorates, courts and detention centers, the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence and simplified court hearing procedures. The statement urged procurators across the country to "adjust their law enforcement efforts accordingly and ensure a smooth transition" for the newly amended Criminal Procedure Law. [...]. ^ top ^

China to abolish transplanting organs from condemned prisoners within 3-5 years (Xinhua)
2012-03-23
China has pledged to abolish the practice of taking transplant human organs from condemned prisoners within three to five years, a senior health official said Thursday. China is creating a national organ donation system to reduce its reliance on organ donations from death row inmates and encourage donations from the public, Huang Jiefu, vice minister of health, told a conference in east China's city of Hangzhou. To achieve this goal, trial systems have been launched in 16 of the Chinese mainland's 31 provincial-level regions, Huang said. "The pledge to abolish organ donations from condemned prisoners represents the resolve of the government," he said. Health officials have said insufficient organ donations by the public mean that the majority of transplanted organs in China come from executed prisoners -- but only with prior consent. Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that about 1.5 million people in China need transplants, but only some 10,000 transplants are performed annually. [...] China has been making efforts to improve its regulations on organ transplants. Earlier in 2007, China's State Council, or cabinet, issued its first regulations on human organ transplants, banning organizations and individuals from trading human organs in any form. A revision to China's Criminal Law, which the top legislature adopted in February of last year, marked the first time for authorities to single out criminal activity related to transactions involving human organs. Criminals convicted of "forced organ removal, forced organ donation or organ removal from juveniles" could face homicide charges as a result of the revision. People who are convicted of organizing illegal organ sales could receive a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine, while more serious cases could result in longer sentences. ^ top ^

China faces battle against antibiotic resistance (China Daily)
2012-03-23
Research by the Ministry of Health indicates that antibiotic resistance in China may be a threat to public health, an official from the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology at Peking University said Thursday. In 2010, the ministry collected more than 270,000 isolated bacteria samples from 128 hospitals across the country to study antibiotic resistance. The results showed that resistance rates for some bacteria have reached nearly 80 percent, creating a severe situation for medical health professionals, said Lu Yuan, head of the institute. Lu said the resistance rate in China is higher than in other countries, but no effective treatments have been established to counteract the resistance. Antibacterial drugs have been in clinical use for about 70 years and have saved millions of lives. However, they have also given rise to new strains of hardy bacteria that can live and even thrive despite the use of the drugs. "The inappropriate use and abuse of antibacterial drugs are the main reasons for the increase," said Lu. The ministry said that the government has paid great attention to the usage of antibacterial drugs, adding that resistance rates should be decreased by "strengthening administration" and seeking international assistance. China and the European Union launched the China-EU antibiotic resistance project on Wednesday, hoping to tackle the global issue together. [...] The Ministry of Health has made some efforts to study and reduce antibiotic resistance in recent years. [...]. ^ top ^

PLA Daily commentary calls for Party members to observe discipline (Global Times)
2012-03-23
A commentary published yesterday in the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the People's Liberation Army, has called on all Party members to "oppose and eliminate" indiscipline. It said the Communist Party of China always opposes indiscipline, quoting a celebrated article by late Chairman Mao Zedong that argues that indiscipline would undermine the rigorous organization of the "revolutionary forces." Party members must unequivocally oppose indiscipline, to consolidate their political ideology but also to abide by and respect the Party's political discipline, added the commentary. The piece singled out a few cases of indiscipline for criticism, including taking an egocentric attitude toward the organization, and believing in self-centered utilitarianism rather than the Party's theories. The commentary urged all Party members to study Mao's article. "To resolutely do what the Party asks, and not to do what the Party asks not to do, is the most straightforward measure to oppose indiscipline," said the commentary. It followed another commentary in the newspaper on Monday, which called for opposition to the "erroneous views" of military nationalization, military de-politicization, and non-party affiliation of the army, and putting ideological and political construction first. "Historical experience shows that when the Party and the country are facing big issues, hostile forces at home and abroad always stir up trouble, noises in society also increase, and the people's thinking becomes more active," said the commentary. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Court denies release of fire info (Global Times)
2012-03-21
A court in Shanghai has again rejected a request from the families of victims who died in a high-rise fire two years ago to release information that a government work group had gathered about the case. Family members demand Jing'an district government provide more detailed findings about the fire, and insist the Shanghai construction authority take responsibility for the blaze instead of punishing a few individuals. The judge with Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People's Court ruled yesterday that the victims' requests were either unclear or not related to government information, hence it was reasonable for the district government to deny them. A total of 21 family members of the fire victims received the verdict after a two-hour-long hearing. It was the 14th time they were denied over the release of such information in the last six months. In November 2010, a 28-story apartment building at Jiaozhou Road of Jing'an district caught fire after sparks from welding work ignited nylon netting, killing 58 people. [...] Fu Shengyan, one of the plaintiffs, said at the court that "the group will be persistent in its fight for the release of government information." After the fire, authorities had granted relatives of each victim 960,000 yuan ($144,500) in compensation, the Xinhua News Agency reported. As the investigation deepened, 26 people were later found criminally guilty in connection with the fire and have been sent to judiciary institutions for punishment. Another 28, including Vice Mayor Shen Jun, received administrative penalties or demerits. ^ top ^

Bank of China sets city as yuan-trading center (People's Daily Online)
2012-03-21
The Bank of China officially opened its national headquarters for yuan operation in Shanghai yesterday to support the city's goal of becoming a trading center of the Chinese currency. "The inauguration of Bank of China's yuan trading headquarters has a strategic importance of promoting Shanghai as a global center in yuan trading, pricing and clearing by 2015," said Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng at a ceremony marking the occasion. Xiao Gang, Bank of China's chairman, said setting up the yuan trading headquarters is an important step in the bank's restructuring and cross-border development. The headquarters in the Pudong New Area offers yuan trading, financial institutions and cross-border yuan settlement services. [...] Shanghai aims to be the global center of yuan trading, pricing and clearing by 2015 as part of its 12th Five-Year Plan, which is a major step toward becoming a global financial center by 2020. [...] China's big four banks, all based in Beijing, reportedly aim to establish their second headquarters in Shanghai to ride on the city's plan to be an international financial center. The Bank of China is the first and only big-four state-owned bank to open its second headquarters in the city. The others - the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China and China Construction Bank - have not announced such a plan. China Minsheng Bank, China Postal Savings Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China are also said to be considering setting up their second headquarters in Shanghai. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangdong police repatriate 115 Vietnamese for illegal entry (Xinhua)
2012-03-21
Border police in south China's Guangdong province have repatriated 115 Vietnamese job seekers after they were nabbed for illegal entry into China. The illegal immigrants, including 88 males and 27 females, were arrested on Feb. 8 at three different places in Guangdong after they sneaked across the border into adjacent Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region three days earlier, sources with the Guangdong frontier defense forces said on Tuesday. [...] The Vietnamese, aged between 17 and 28, traveled to Guangdong to look for work opportunities, according to the police. [...]. ^ top ^

'Jury' used for debt trial in province (China Daily)
2012-03-22
A debt dispute in Guangdong province has attracted widespread attention, not because of the intricacies of the case itself, but because the court hearing introduced a "jury system". Seven "jurors" along with the defendants, plaintiffs, lawyers and judges, were present at the Dongguan Intermediate People's Court on Friday. The presence of the jurors was to promote interaction by inviting residents to witness trials, according to a top judge of the court. Du Zhiqiang, a senior judge from the court, said the new system requires judges to consult jurors before issuing a verdict. However, in this system, jurors do not have the right to pronounce the suspect guilty or innocent, unlike their counterparts in the West. The move marks progress "in demonstrating the principle of fairness, justice and openness in handling court cases", said Liang Zhonghua, one of the jurors. Friday's jurors consisted of four businessmen, one law professor, a lawyer and a journalist, Du said. "People from all walks of life are welcome to apply for or be recommended to join our bank of jurors, once they are older than 23," he said. [...]. ^ top ^

China NCSSF to manage Guangdong's $16 billion pension money (Xinhua)
2012-03-22
China's National Council for Social Security Fund (NCSSF) said Wednesday that it will manage 100 billion yuan (16 billion dollars) of pension funds of China's south Guangdong province, the first such management case in China. To maintain and increase the value of the pension funds, NCSSF said that it will be more prudent in its operation, adding that the agreement is initially set for two years and more of the fund will be invested in fixed-income products. Approved by the State Council, the Guangdong provincial government has entrusted 100 billion yuan of its funds in local pension accounts to NCSSF for investment, and the two parties signed the entrustment agreement on Monday, it said. According to statistics, by the end of 2011, the pension funds managed by the local governments in China was close to 2 trillion yuan. However, as the funds can only be deposited in the special financial account, the average annual income of the funds in 10 years was negative after deduction of the inflation rate. [...] Official data from NCSSF revealed that from 2001 to 2011, China's national social security fund earned 284.7 billion yuan in investment income, which equates to an annualized rate of return of 8.41 percent, 6 percentage points above the average rate of inflation over the same period. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet farmer's funeral turns into protest against rule (SCMP)
2012-03-19
Thousands of Tibetans gathered to mourn a farmer who died after setting himself on fire to protest against Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, a US broadcaster said. A London-based rights group said Saturday's funeral turned into a protest march, with thousands calling for freedom and the return to Tibet of the Dalai Lama, their exiled spiritual leader. The incident, as with most reported unrest in Tibetan areas, could not be independently verified. Nearly 30 Tibetans have set themselves on fire over the past year to protest over the suppression of their religion and culture and to call for the return of the Dalai Lama [...]. US broadcaster Radio Free Asia said in an e-mailed statement that Sonam Thargyal, a 44-year-old farmer and father of four, fastened cotton padding to his body with iron wire and doused himself with kerosene before setting himself on fire on Saturday in Tongren, a monastery town in Qinghai province, which lies to Tibet's northeast. [...] Sonam Thargyal called out for an end to Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated areas, the Dalai Lama's return and Tibetan language rights, RFA said. As many as 7,000 Tibetans took part in his funeral and cremation ceremony, the broadcaster said. The London-based rights group Free Tibet posted photos on its website of what it said was Sonam Thargyal's charred body covered in ceremonial yellow silk scarves and hundreds of people marching up a hill to the local cremation site. Phone calls to the Tongren county government and police rang unanswered yesterday. A man who answered the telephone at the government office of Huangnan prefecture, which oversees Tongren, said he had not heard reports of an immolation or a protest. "All things here are fine," said the man, who, like many mainland bureaucrats, refused to give his name. ^ top ^

Tibet to spend heavily on road construction (Xinhua)
2012-03-20
Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region will spend 9.5 billion yuan (1.5 billion U.S. dollars) building new roads and repairing old ones this year, a local government official said Monday. The regional government has prioritized 13 key projects this year including renovation of a landslide-prone section along the plateau highway linking Tibet with the neighboring Sichuan province and extension of at least three pivotal highways to remote counties, said Tashi Gyatso, a senior official with Tibet's transport department. Meanwhile, Tibet plans to build more blacktop roads into 411 remote villages and 17 townships, he said. New roads will also be built to remote monasteries which had little access to traffic, said Tashi Gyatso. "A total of 300 million yuan has been earmarked for these roads." Last year, Tibet spent 8.5 billion yuan on 15 road projects, extending the region's highways by 4,600 km and building blacktop roads into 20 townships and 273 villages. Tibet now has 63,000 km of road. According to Tibet's 12th Five-Year Plan on social and economic growth, it will spend 46.174 billion yuan on the road system between 2011 and 2015. ^ top ^

Tibetan officials forbidden to follow Dalai Group (People's Daily Online)
2012-03-21
Stability in the Tibet Autonomous Region is of utmost priority. The message was sent at a special panel dedicated to Tibet during the NPC and CPPCC sessions that just concluded. All Chinese Communist Party members have been asked to follow the party disciplines, and ignore illusions surrounding the Dalai Clique. That's according to Lhasa based Tibet Daily. It also says anyone who follows Dalai and jeopardizes the unity of the Chinese nation will face consequences. During the National People's Congress earlier this month, officials from the Tibet Autonomous Region have condemned those who encourage self-immolation in the past few months in Tibet, and pledged to improve the life of Tibetan people. ^ top ^

Jets training over Tibet (Global Times)
2012-03-22
J-10 fighters of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force have conducted ground attack training over the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the first operation of its kind for the air force of the Chengdu Military Region. According to a report and photos released by the PLA Daily yesterday, the ground crew of the J-10 regiment fueled the fighters and loaded ammunition on the 3,500-meter-high plateau at temperatures below -20 C. The fighters scrambled and attacked the targets with conventional bombs and laser-guided bombs. Sorties were made both during the day and at night. [...] In a joint massive live fire drill in October that incorporated air forces and air defense units as well as armor and artillery units, also held in Tibet Autonomous Region the J-10 also showed off its precise ground attack ability, the Ministry of Defense said on its website. [...] The J-10's activities on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau have been relatively frequent in the past months. "Operations on the plateau are a routine for the air force. The main obstacles for plateau operation are thin air, complicated weather conditions faced by ground crews and low oxygen density, which makes igniting the engines much harder," Bai noted. On January 31, J-10 fighters made their first flight during the Chinese Lunar New Year on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with a typical air combat patrol payload, namely two mid-range air-to-air missiles, two short-range air-to-air missiles, and three external fuel tanks. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Race for HK's leader down to the wire (SCMP)
2012-03-23
Front runner Leung Chun-ying yesterday frantically lobbied his supporters ahead of Sunday's Election Committee vote for the city's next chief executive, possibly coming within at least a dozen ballots of avoiding an abortive result. Leung, now widely seen as Beijing's preferred choice, is apparently still short of the 601 minimum votes needed for an outright win, after securing only 510 to 590 votes by late yesterday - many at the expense of chief rival Henry Tang Ying-yen - according to the latest count by the South China Morning Post [...]. Whoever wins will need to secure more than half of the maximum of 1,200 votes, with a second round of balloting scheduled for Sunday afternoon if the first fails to produce a clear winner. But only 1,193 votes are available, due to vacancies. Should that fail, a run-off will be held on May 6 after a fresh round of nominations. The number of votes pledged to Leung could rise by Sunday if members in subsectors like engineering and accounting, many of whom have yet to make their intentions public, back Leung, the former Executive Council convenor, who last month had 305 votes pledged. Yesterday, Leung saw the number of his declared supporters climb steadily as the Federation of Trade Unions decided that all 60 members would back him. About a third of them have nominated Leung, while none have nominated Tang. With the uncertainties, it remains unclear whether Leung can beat his rivals Tang and pro-democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan, with some electors considering blank ballots. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan raises investment ceiling for mainland investors (Xinhua)
2012-03-21
Taiwan will open 97 percent of its manufacturing and more than half of its service and infrastructure sectors to Chinese mainland investment by the end of this month, according to its economic authority. Mainland investors will be allowed to own a maximum stake of 50 percent in five key manufacturing industries, up from the current 10 percent, local media reported. The five key sectors include liquid crystal displays, semiconductors, integrated circuit assembly and testing, metal equipment manufacturing, and machinery used for the production of electronics and chip. Mainland investment in Taiwan has brought positive result, as it has injected capital into the island's industrial and financial markets and expanded the island's exports, according to Taiwan's economic authority. Mainland enterprises have invested about 272 million U.S. dollars in 217 projects since first being allowed to invest in the island nearly three years ago, official figures show. ^ top ^

Hu reiterates opposition to "Taiwan independence" (Xinhua)
2012-03-23
Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Thursday reiterated the opposition to "Taiwan independence" and the recognition of the "1992 consensus." Hu made the remarks during his meeting with a delegation led by Wu Po-hsiung, honorary chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) party, in the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing. [...] Both sides should develop "along the correct path" to "consolidate achievements, deepen cooperation, push forward cross-Strait development and strive to make new breakthroughs for the revival of the Chinese nation," Hu said. [...] Cross-Strait relations have realized "a historical transition" over the last four years and seen a series of achievements, Hu said. Practices have shown that the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations has been recognized by more and more Taiwanese and received positive responses from the international community, Hu said. [...] Cross-Strait cultural exchanges should be increased to enhance Taiwanese' identification with the Chinese and their recognition of the Chinese culture, he added. [...] Both sides should actively promote follow-up negotiations of the cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), signed in June 2010, accelerate progress in cross-Strait industrial cooperation, and expand financial cooperation, Hu said. [...] Wu Po-hsiung greeted Hu on behalf of KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou. Wu said the past few years have witnessed historical changes in the development of cross-Strait relations and became "the most peaceful period" during the past six decades, a time that should be "cherished and consolidated by both sides." [...] Adhering to the "1992 consensus" is an important form of political mutual trust between the CPC and the KMT, Wu said. "It is not a country-to-country relation between the two sides of the Strait," he said, adding that "both sides uphold one China, based on which we seek common ground while shelving disputes." [...] The historical and cultural connection between Taiwan and the mainland cannot be severed, Wu said, calling on the two sides to increase cultural and educational exchanges and jointly promote Chinese culture. [...] The KMT delegation includes three KMT vice chairpersons -- Lin Feng-cheng, John Chiang and Hung Hsiu-chu, among other KMT officials. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China becomes world's largest art, antiques market (China Daily)
2012-03-17
China overtook the United States as the world's biggest market for art and antiques last year, ending decades of American domination, according to a report published on Friday. The historic turning point is also an important indicator of seismic shifts in the wider global economy, said "The International Art Market in 2011," released by the European Fine Art Foundation, organizers of the European Fine Art Fair. China's share of the global art market rose from 23 percent in 2010 to 30 percent last year, pushing the United States to second place with a share of 29 percent, it said. [...] Fast growth in China's art market, particularly in the modern and contemporary sectors, led a continuing strengthening in the art and antiques market worldwide in 2011. Sales of art and antiques at auctions in China saw a dramatic rise of 177 percent in 2010 and a further 64 percent increase in 2011, with the modern and contemporary sectors accounting for nearly 70 percent of the market. [...]. ^ top ^

China becomes 3rd largest tourist desination (China Daily)
2012-03-17
China has become the world's third-largest tourist destination, receiving 135 million inbound travelers in 2011, said a tourism official. Shao Qiwei, head of the China National Tourism Administration, also said Friday that China has seen a rapid growth in outbound travel and has become highly significant in sustaining the growth of global tourism. Chinese people made a total of 70.25 million visits to other countries or regions in 2011, making it the biggest source of outbound tourists in Asia, according to Shao. ^ top ^

Growth momentum on track amid change calls (Xinhua)
2012-03-19
China's growth momentum remains strong as fundamentals that help sustain its stable and fast development have not changed, a wide consensus reached by government officials and economists attending a development forum held Sunday in Beijing. China currently has continued to maintain a rapid growth rate and that the economy on the whole is running steadily, Vice Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech delivered at the China Development Forum 2012. [...] Recognizing China's leadership role and adept policy skills when the recent global crisis hit, visiting chief of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde said that the world's economic situation might have been more "calamitous" had it not been for the impetus that China provided to growth and stability. [...] The nation is currently undergoing fast urbanization and industrialization, which are the two elements among the drivers for long-term and sustained growth, said Ma Jiantang, chief of the National Bureau of Statistics. Ma said that with the increasing urbanization rate, which surpassed 50 percent last year, more people from the rural areas will migrate to towns and cities, leading to a stronger demand for consumption. [...] As the world's largest developing economy, the country still faces the problem of imbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development at home and uncertainties of a faltering global recovery. "China is now at a critical stage on its course to transform the growth pattern, which should be addressed without delay," Li said. Therefore, the government should work to keep steady and fast growth and stabilize consumer prices, while making breakthroughs in growth mode transformation, reform and opening up, as well as improving people's livelihood during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), Li said. Li called for system and mechanism reforms, saying the government should deepen reforms on taxes, the financial sector, prices and income distribution, while seeking progress in key areas to let the market play a bigger role in resource allocation. To speed up the transformation, the country should expand its domestic demand by unleashing potentials in the urbanization process, he said. Ma Jiantang said that the edges of China's rich labor resources are beginning to wane as China is increasing confronted with the aging problem. Meanwhile, constraints from natural resources and the urgency for environmental protection are raising the downward pressure on growth. [...]. ^ top ^

China to be world's biggest importer soon: commerce minister (People's Daily Online)
2012-03-19
Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said Sunday that China, now the world's second largest importer, will become the biggest in a few years. China not only provides the world with high-quality products at low costs, but also buys high-end goods supplied by global brands, Chen said at the China Development Forum 2012. The growth rate of China's retail sales stayed between 16 percent and 18 percent over recent years, higher than its GDP growth, indicating the country's huge purchasing potential, the minister said. Chen said many Western politicians blamed China for global trade imbalance, but they seldom mentioned that China, with its population only accounting for 19 percent of the world total, is also the world's second largest importer. Trade remedy measures adopted by some developed countries are undesirable, because they are neither fair to other economies, nor just to domestic citizens and enterprises, Chen added. Chen said emerging countries should base their growth on domestic demand so as to balance its growth, while opening their markets and facilitating trade in line with national conditions. China's trade surplus narrowed 14.5 percent year-on-year to 155.14 billion U.S. dollars in 2011, with imports up 24.9 percent to 1.74 trillion U.S. dollars, customs data showed. [...]. ^ top ^

Home prices in most Chinese cities stop growing in Feb. (Xinhua)
2012-03-19
New home prices ceased growing in most of 70 major Chinese cities in February, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Sunday. In February, 45 cities out of the statistical pool of 70 major cities saw drops in new home prices from January, while new home prices in 21 cities remained unchanged, the NBS said in a statement on its website. Only four cities saw gains in new home prices over the Jan.-Feb. period, the NBS noted. On a year-on-year basis, 27 cities saw new home price declines in February, up from 15 in January. [...] In first-tier cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, new home and resold home prices fell or stayed flat on both monthly and yearly bases in February. NBS data showed that new home prices in all 70 cities stopped gaining in January as a result of government persistent cooling efforts. China started adopting measures to calm property prices since 2010. Those measures included tight credits, higher downpayments, a ban on third-home purchases, property tax trials and the construction of low-income housing. ^ top ^

Chinese senior bankers face more controls (Xinhua)
2012-03-19
More controls will be placed on the senior management of China's financial enterprises that fall under the central government. According to a government news release Sunday, the regulation will guide financial enterprises under the jurisdiction of the central government to attach equal importance to both profit-generating and risk-control, and to increase the number of "high-quality socialist bankers." The regulation makes explicit provisions on the qualifications, appointment, promotion, performance evaluation of senior bank managers, and supervision over them. The regulation states that performance evaluation will be a key element in appointing and promoting senior managers. China will strictly standardize supervision of pay and bonuses for senior management in financial institutions as a measure to narrow the income gap, Premier Wen Jiabao said at the just concluded annual session of the National People's Congress, China's parliament. ^ top ^

China raises fuel prices amid easing inflation (Xinhua)
2012-03-20
China will increase gasoline and diesel prices by 600 yuan (95 U.S. dollars) per tonne beginning Tuesday, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced Monday evening. The adjustment will raise the benchmark retail price of gasoline by 0.44 yuan per liter and diesel by 0.51 yuan per liter, the country's top economic planning body said in a statement on its website. The latest decision to raise the prices came after international crude oil prices climbed more than 10 percent since Feb. 8, when the retail prices of both gas and diesel was raised by 300 yuan per tonne each, according to the statement. Since then, international oil prices have registered large increases due to the impact from the nuclear crisis in Iran and other factors, the statement said. The Chinese government adopted an oil pricing mechanism at the start of 2009 that allows the NDRC to adjust retail fuel prices when international crude oil prices change by more than 4 percent over 22 working days. Analysts say the necessary price changes have finally come, although at a delayed date. [...] Analysts say the size of the price hikes is largely in line with market expectations. [...] The NDRC said the government will provide subsidies for people working in the fishery, forestry and public transport sectors, as they will likely be heavily impacted by the hikes. To maintain prices, the government has also ordered railway and urban public transportation administrators not to hike prices. Analysts say the impact from the price hikes will be limited to pushing up inflation, as product oil only accounts for 0.5 percent of the basket of goods used to calculate China's CPI. [...]. ^ top ^

LAC interested in trading with China in yuan: IADB adviser (Xinhua)
2012-03-20
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has strong interest in using the Chinese yuan as currency of settlement in bilateral trade, a senior Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) adviser said here on Sunday. As the LAC has been trying to diversify its foreign reserve and currency of settlement in trade, the region is eagerly looking forward to the use of yuan as currency of settlement in trade with China, Andrew Powell, IADB's principal advisor, told Xinhua. It will be a win-win situation for both sides if China actively promotes the use of yuan as currency of settlement in trade with the LAC, Powell said in Montevideo, where the 53rd annual meeting of IADB's Board of Governors is going on. He said there would be little technical barriers in operation. [...] China has become the third largest foreign investor in the LAC after the United States and the European Union, Powell said, citing a latest report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). [...]. ^ top ^

Premier Wen signals way to yuan internationalization (People's Daily Online)
2012-03-21
Maintaining steady economic development and further strengthening financial regulations are basic to the internationalization of Chinese currency, and have consolidated the government's stance to speed up relevant reforms, Premier Wen Jiabao told global business leaders at a forum on Monday. The government is pushing forward policy innovations and regulations to make the yuan float more freely, and the currency will be freely convertible "at the right time", the premier said to delegates at the China Development Forum 2012. "The direction of our economic reform and policies will not change or stop," Wen said, encouraging foreign company executives to strengthen confidence in the country's future. China's gigantic global trade volume has driven the government to approve yuan-denominated cross-border settlements on deals. The premier also called for long-term solid trade relationships with foreign partners, which needs help from a more freely convertible yuan. [...] International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Sunday that further economic reform could help China's currency to become a global reserve currency. In order to boost the internationalization of the currency, China has designated Hong Kong as the offshore center for yuan trading, where companies can directly raise funds in yuan. Singapore and London are also seeking to be yuan trade centers. Currently, the People's Bank of China, the central bank, is revising regulations and waiting for the right time to open a capital account system, which is key to freeing up the exchange rate. ^ top ^

U.S. e-payment giant PayPal plans to enter China (Xinhua)
2012-03-21
EBay Inc's PayPal is one of the largest names in the online payment industry. Now the company is planning to tap the Chinese markets. PayPal services are already used by merchants in the country to facilitate cross-border international payments. The company's plan is to make its online payment services available for domestic use as well. "We are currently applying for a domestic payment license in China," said PayPal spokesman Dickson Seow on Monday. [...] China has a big online market with 193 million e-commerce users, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. China's e-commerce is expected to surpass 750 billion yuan (118 billion U.S. dollars) this year and it is set to become the world's largest e-commerce market in 2015, according to a Reuters report citing industry figures. In China, PayPal will potentially face off against AliPay, a payments company under local e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. Alipay currently has the largest share of China's online third-party payment market, at 46.9 percent, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International. [...] "If PayPal focuses on entering China's Internet online payment market, the competition will be fierce," said Zhang Meng, an analyst with Analysys. "The domestic companies have already established themselves.". ^ top ^

China allocates new subsidies to support spring farming (Xinhua)
2012-03-22
The Ministry of Finance (MOF) said Wednesday that it has earmarked 24.3 billion yuan (3.86 billion U.S. dollars) as subsidies for farmers to support the upcoming spring farming work. The move aims to ensure that farmers' incomes will not be dragged down by recent oil price hikes and possible price rises for agricultural materials later this year, the ministry said in a statement on its website. The ministry urged local governments to distribute the subsidies to farmers before spring plowing in order to boost agricultural production. The country on Tuesday raised gasoline and diesel prices by 600 yuan per tonne, the second hike in less than six weeks. So far this year, the MOF has allocated 107.8 billion yuan in subsidies to help farmers buy agricultural materials such as equipment to plant seeds and reapers, an increase of nearly 30 percent year-on-year, according to the statement. Meanwhile, the ministry said it has earmarked 67.4 billion yuan in oil subsidies for the fishery, forestry, public transport and taxi industries to minimize the impact of oil price rises on the sectors' earnings. ^ top ^

China hits West with anti-dumping paper tariffs (Global Times)
2012-03-23
China has imposed anti-dumping duties on imported photographic paper and paper board from the US, the EU and Japan starting today, after the US set countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Chinese products Tuesday. "The final ruling found that during the probe, dumping of the investigated goods occurred, and China's domestic photographic paper industry suffered substantial harm due to that dumping," the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said in a verdict of a probe into the matter. Companies from the EU and the US, including Kodak Ltd, FujiFilm Manufacturing Europe BV and FujiFilm Manufacturing USA Inc, are required to pay tariffs from 16.2 percent to 28.8 percent, it said. All Japanese goods will be subject to duties of 28.8 percent. The anti-dumping duties will expire five years after the date of imposition. The MOC launched the anti-dumping investigation on December 23, 2010 after receiving an application from domestic photographic paper companies. [...] The final ruling came after the US announced preliminary duties of between 2.9 percent and 4.73 percent on Chinese solar panels Tuesday, after it adjudged that Chinese exporters have received countervailing subsidies. On the same day, the US also slapped anti-dumping duties on brightening chemicals, galvanized steel wire and silicon metal imported from China. [...] Separately, to further complicate already tense trade relations, the EU is seeking new powers to block foreign companies from winning lucrative government contracts unless their home countries open their own public-sector deals to European firms. The AP commented that the proposals unveiled yesterday appear to be mostly targeted at China, whose companies have obtained public projects in Europe. [...]. ^ top ^

China, Australia sign currency swap agreement (Xinhua)
2012-03-23
The central banks of China and Australia signed a 200-billion-yuan (31.74 billion U.S. dollars, or 30 billion Australian dollars) currency swap agreement on Thursday. The agreement is for an initial three-year period and could be extended with the consent of both sides, said a statement released by the People's Bank of China, China's central bank. The statement said the agreement aims to help strengthen financial cooperation between the two sides, boost bilateral trade and investment and promote regional financial stability. Since the outbreak of the global financial crisis, China has signed currency swap agreements worth 1.5 trillion yuan with 17 countries and regions to support its trade and investment with these economies. ^ top ^

Chongqing consolidating IT role: Party chief (Global Times)
2012-03-23
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang, newly appointed Party chief of Chongqing, has promised unremitting efforts to consolidate the municipality's role as a global leader in information technology. Zhang told visiting Acer President Jim Wong on Wednesday that Chongqing would ensure "continuity and stability in its reform and opening-up policies" so as to make the drive. Zhang was appointed Party chief of Chongqing, replacing Bo Xilai, under a decision by the Communist Party of China Central Committee last Thursday. "Chongqing will diversify and optimize its policies to improve its opening-up," Zhang said, while emphasizing the importance of upgrading vocational and technical education to train high-quality professionals for foreign-funded IT firms in Chongqing. Wong and hundreds of other senior executives from the world's leading IT firms including Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Intel have gathered in Chongqing to attend the China International Expo of Cloud Computing, which opened here Thursday. [...] Wong said Zhang's reassurance helped enhance investors' confidence. [...] He said the company plans to build Acer's manufacturing base in Chongqing into the world's largest communication technology research and manufacturing center in two to three years. [...]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

DPRK defends legitimate right of satellite launch (Xinhua)
2012-03-19
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has asserted its legitimate right of launching satellites, saying "double standard is intolerable," the official news agency KCNA said Sunday. It said that countries, including the United States, Japan and South Korea that have criticized the satellite launch as a "missile launch," are continuing their hostile policy toward the DPRK and encroach upon its sovereignty. The three countries have dubbed the DPRK's planned satellite launch as "a serious provocative act threatening peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia." [...] According to the KCNA, the peaceful use of space is a universally recognized legitimate right of a sovereign state. The satellite launch for scientific research can "by no means be a monopoly of specified countries," it said, adding that it is intolerable to use the satellite launch as "a lever for political, military and economic pressure upon the DPRK." The KCNA also said that the two previously launched experimental satellites, Kwangmyongsong-1 in 1998 and Kwangmyongsong-2 in 2009, had strictly abided by relevant international regulations and practice. The DPRK has also expressed its readiness to invite experts and journalists of other countries to visit the Sohae Satellite Launching Station. Shortly after the DPRK announced the planned satellite launch, the United States said it will be hard to provide food aid if Pyongyang moves ahead with the launch. [...]. ^ top ^

DPRK law encourages investment in economic zone (Xinhua)
2012-03-19
Investors may "freely conduct economic activities" in the newly-established Hwanggumpyong and Wihwado Economic Zone in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), according to a law published Saturday by the official KCNA news agency. Investors could establish companies, branches, and representative offices in the economic zone and their legal rights will be protected, the KCNA said. The state shall not "nationalize or expropriate the property of the investors," and if such measures should be taken in the interests of the public, those affected investors would be notified in advance and also receive compensations in accordance with legal procedures. The Law on the Hwanggumpyong and Wihwado Economic Zone, with seven chapters and 74 articles, was approved by the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) on Dec. 3, 2011. According to the law, the Hwanggumpyong area shall focus on the information technology, light industry, agriculture, commerce and tourism, and the Wihwado area shall be developed according to the Wihwado development plan. The KCNA also published Saturday the text of the Law on the Rason Economic and Trade Zone. The law was amended by the Presidium of the SPA on Dec. 3, 2011. ^ top ^

China expresses concern over DPRK satellite launch (Xinhua)
2012-03-21
A senior Chinese diplomat said China has conveyed its concern over a plan of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to launch a satellite in April. Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Luo Zhaohui made the remarks at a press briefing here on Tuesday. According to Luo, China's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs Wu Dawei met with DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho on Monday. Senior diplomats Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun and Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu have also kept in contact with all relevant sides. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said senior diplomats also exchanged views with ambassadors from DPRK, Russia, the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan. "China has expressed its stance and concern to all sides, and urged them to keep calm and restrained," Luo said, adding the stability of DPRK is in all sides' interests. Luo also called on the United States and DPRK to cherish the consensus they reached in February, saying that is the "dawn of peace" on the Korean Peninsula. [...] "It is in all sides' interests to maintain the peace and stability in Northeast Asia and along the Korean Peninsula. This is also their common responsibility," Hong said. He added that China will keep close communication with all sides. [...]. ^ top ^

IAEA says invited to visit DPRK (Xinhua)
2012-03-21
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Monday that it has received an invitation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for a visit. The UN nuclear watchdog received the invitation on Friday, IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said in a statement, but declined to elaborate. "We will discuss with the DPRK and other parties concerned for the details of the visit," Tudor said. "Details will be discussed. Nothing has been decided yet." If made, the visit would be the first of its kind since the DPRK suspended its cooperation with the IAEA and withdrew from the six-party talks on nuclear disarmament in 2009. Late last month, the DPRK said it would suspend nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and uranium enrichment activities as part of an agreement reached with the United States. [...] Ri Yong-Ho, the DPRK's vice foreign minister and chief negotiator to the six-party talks, said late Monday in Beijing that his country would implement its deal with the United States in full. He also said if others were practicing double standards or inappropriately interfered with the DPRK's sovereign rights, Pyongyang would be forced to react to it. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called the DPRK's invitation to the IAEA "positive," saying: "Obviously there's benefit for any access that the IAEA can get." She also said Washington still believed that the satellite launch plan was in violation of the DPRK's UN obligations and commitments under a U.S.-DPRK agreement late last month. [...]. ^ top ^

Ban Ki-Moon engages regional leaders to push against Pyongyang's satellite launch (Xinhua)
2012-03-23
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said Thursday that he had been engaging major countries in Asia to influence the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) into abandoning its plans to launch a satellite next month using a long-range ballistic missile, which Ban said was a violation of UN Security Council resolution. [...] His comments came ahead of a scheduled March 26 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, where President Obama and his allies in the region are expected to discuss ways to discourage Pyongyang's satellite launch and nuclear programs. The DPRK government insisted that its Earth-observation satellite launch is for peaceful purposes, warning that any criticism of its nuclear programs in Seoul's nuclear summit would be considered a"declaration of war". [...]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

About implementation of activity program of cabinet (Montsame)
2012-03-21
Implementation of the governmental activity program for 2008-2012 was done at 82 per cent by 2011, and it might reach 87 per cent by beginning of this year. It was reported on Wednesday by Ch.Khurelbaatar, a head of the Cabinet Secretariat of Government at a cabinet meeting. According to a report of him, it is considered that the cabinet has overcome successfully the financial and economic difficulties of 2010, and could strengthen the economic, investment and financial basis for realizing targeted goals. Also, the cabinet has managed to improve the economic capacity by ensuring the macro economic growth and supporting the infrastructure, the great construction, small- and middle-sized productions and agriculture. Based on these achievements, the cabinet has reached some successes on increasing job places, reducing the unemployment rate, augmenting real income of citizens, improving the social welfare and backing the disabled, youths, elders and children. Ch.Khurelbaatar has underlined that the cabinet made last year foundation stones of the biggest works, and also the cabinet needs to implement goals of increasing volume of the industrial and service sectors at the Gross Domestic Product's size, erecting complexes of small- and middle-sized productions and technologies, implementing projects on processing oil and making liquid fuel by coal in order to provide the country with fuel. The cabinet has decided to submit to parliament implementation of the program, reflecting proposals from ministers. ^ top ^

Senior police officials taken to detention center (News.mn)
2012-03-21
Senior police officials who have a treatment at Sukhbaatar district hospital taken to Detention Center's hospital yesterday (on March 20, 2012) around 5 pm. The Sukhbaatar district court ordered to arrest Ch.Amarbold, former Chief of the General Police Department, D.Zorigt, former Chief of Ulaanbaatar Police, and Sh.Batsukh, former Chief of Law and Order Department on March 14 who connected on July 1 case. ^ top ^

Coal prices set to retreat as supply surges (News.mn)
2012-03-21
Contract prices for coal burned in power stations may drop 37 per cent by 2017 because of a rise in shipments from countries including Indonesia and Colombia, according to Australia's government forecaster. Thermal coal prices may slip to $82 a metric ton for annual supplies starting April 1, 2017, the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics said today in a report. Japan"s electricity producers agreed to pay a record $129.85 a ton for coal last year. Production increases in Australia, the world"s largest exporter of coal, Mongolia and Mozambique will also contribute to the increase in exports, according to the report. Overall, Australia's export earnings from minerals and energy will be $199 billion in the year ending June 30, 3.2 per cent less than its December forecast, the bureau said. Average contract prices for coking coal, used to make steel, are forecast to decline 23 per cent this year to $221 a ton amid weaker import demand and an increase in output from Australia, the report said. Prices are projected to moderate by 2017 as exports from countries including Mongolia, Canada and Mozambique climb, according to the report. Coking coal contracts are usually agreed on a quarterly basis, while thermal coal pacts are settled on a 12-month period starting April 1 for the Japanese fiscal year. ^ top ^

Working groups set up to distribute smart ID (News.mn)
2012-03-22
The government regular meeting, held on March 21, decided to set up a working group to organize nationwide a distribution of new ID cards and to provide this work with a unified management. This group is chaired by Ts.Nyamdorj, the Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs. Sub-working groups of aimags, soums, bagas, the city, its districts and khoroos will be headed by their governors. The ID cards will be distributed through 496 points. Printing machines and facilities are ready, the ID cards" samples will be imported from Finland. As expected, people will receive the new ID cards from April 6 to June 11, prior to the parliamentary election. The Minister Ts.Nyamdorj and leaders of the sub-working groups have been also obliged to report to the cabinet on a process of the work. ^ top ^

 

Gregor Muischneek
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
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