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
  31.3-5.4.12, No. 417  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China, Italy pledge closer cooperation (People's Daily)
2012-03-31
Premier Wen Jiabao and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti held a talk in Beijing on Saturday, pledging to boost bilateral ties. "As strategic partners, China and Italy have enjoyed a sound political relationship and mutually complementary economies, which have served as a good foundation for bilateral cooperation," Wen said during his talk with Monti. Wen said China attaches great importance to Italy's leverage in European and international affairs, adding that both nations share broad prospects for bilateral relations. "As a major exporter and manufacturer, Italy is capable of achieving sustainable economic growth through reform," Wen said. [...] The Chinese side is ready to start creating new cooperative programs with Italy and hopes to give full play to the China-Italy Governmental Committee, which was launched in 2004, to deepen coordination on economic matters, Wen said. "The Chinese government has encouraged domestic enterprises to expand their investment in Italy and hopes that the Italian side will push the European Union to create a more open and convenient investment environment for them," Wen said, adding that Italian enterprises are welcome to expand their market share in China. [...] Wen said China and Italy should continue their efforts to boost cooperation and trade between medium- and small-sized enterprises and provide guidance for competent enterprises to cooperate more proactively in the areas of advanced technology and environmental protection. The premier also called for more financial cooperation between the two nations and more communication regarding the reform of the international financial system. [...] Monti echoed Wen's remarks on bilateral relations and agreed to the premier's suggestions for further cooperation. [...] Monti said the Italian government is working hard to carry out fiscal reform to realize financial stability and achieve economic growth. Monti said Chinese investment in Italy is of great importance, adding that the Italian government will make more efforts to create a more favorable environment in Italy, as well as the European Union. [...] Monti arrived in Beijing Friday afternoon for an official visit to China at Wen's invitation. He is scheduled to attend the 2012 conference of Boao Forum for Asia in south China's Hainan province. ^ top ^

President Hu concludes three-nation Asia trip (People's Daily)
2012-04-02
Chinese President Hu Jintao left Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, for home Monday, after a state visit to the southeast Asian nation. [...] Hu and Cambodian leaders discussed further development of the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation and exchanged views on major regional issues. [...] During their meeting Saturday, the Chinese president and Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to expand all-round bilateral cooperation and double two-way trade between the two countries to 5 billion U.S. dollars by the year of 2017. [...] The two-way trade between the two countries increased to 2.49 billion U.S. dollars in 2011 from 1.44 billion dollars in 2010. Cambodia holds the presidency of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2012 and plays an important role in East Asian cooperation and China-ASEAN relations. Before his Cambodia visit, the Chinese leader attended the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit in the South Korean capital and a leaders' meeting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known as BRICS, in New Delhi. ^ top ^

Asean struggles with South China Sea code (SCMP)
2012-04-02
Southeast Asian foreign ministers wrangled on Monday over a proposed code of conduct aimed at easing dangerous maritime disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea. But Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) foreign ministers meeting in Cambodia said they still hoped to narrow their differences and sign the code with China by the end of the year. The Philippines is urging its Asean counterparts to first agree on a common position before meeting with China, but others argued Beijing should be involved from the start, diplomatic sources said. [...] During Indonesia's chairmanship of the regional bloc least year, Asean and China agreed on a set of guidelines for the proposed code, ending a nine-year impasse. [...] Asean members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam along with China and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, a conduit for more than one-third of the world's seaborne trade and half its traffic in oil and gas. [...] The Philippines and Vietnam accuse China of aggressively asserting its claims in recent years, leading to minor clashes that diplomats and military commanders fear could quickly escalate into more significant conflicts. ^ top ^

Beijing drawn into crisis between Sudans (SCMP)
2012-04-05
China is being pressured to pick sides in a dispute over oil between Sudan and South Sudan, the International Crisis Group has reported. China is finding it increasingly difficult to balance its interests between the Sudanese government in Khartoum and the newly independent south, the Brussels-based organisation said yesterday in a report. [...] China lost 260,000 barrels a day of supplies when the authorities in Juba, South Sudan's capital, halted output in January because of a dispute with Sudan over borders and oil transportation fees, New York-based Eurasia Group said in February. [...] Negotiations since the South's secession have failed to yield an agreement on how much it should pay to transport its oil through a pipeline running across Sudan to the Red Sea. South Sudan ordered the production shutdown after it accused Sudan of stealing its oil. Sudan said it confiscated the crude to make up for unpaid fees. Since the beginning of the dispute, Chinese diplomats have visited both countries, urging them to resolve their disagreements. Li Yuanchao, the Communist Party's Organisation Department head, led a delegation to Juba in January that discussed loans and pledged aid. Chinese diplomatic overtures haven't entirely won over southern politicians, for whom "China's historical support for Khartoum has left a sour legacy", according to the report. Much of that support came during Sudan's two-decade civil war, when China played a large role in the development of the oil industry, which human rights groups said was accompanied by wide-scale abuses. China also continues to supply weapons to President Umar al-Bashir's government in Khartoum, including Weishi 302mm rockets, according to Amnesty International. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China to deepen reforms to drive growth: vice premier (Xinhua)
2012-04-02
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang said Monday that China will deepen reforms and opening-up to remove obstacles on its course to transfer growth mode and drive economic and social development. Li made the remarks when delivering a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2012, which runs from Sunday to Tuesday in Boao, a scenic town in south China's island province of Hainan. [...] Noting that the country has entered a critical stage of reform, Li said China will deepen reform of the fiscal sector, taxation, finance, pricing, income distribution and enterprises. The country will endeavor to make breakthroughs in key areas and key links, and bring into better play the market's role in resource allocation and advance institutional, technological and management innovation so as to increase the internal driving force and dynamism of development, Li said.

Li said the country will adopt an even more proactive opening-up strategy and attach equal importance to export and import so as to boost balanced development of foreign trade and raise the level of an open economy. [...] More than 2,000 government, business and academic leaders from around the globe attended the meeting, which this year adopts the theme "Asia in the Changing World: Moving toward Sound and Sustainable Development.". ^ top ^

Critics snared in microblog crackdown (SCMP)
2012-04-02
A prominent mainland political commentator's microblogging accounts on three popular platforms were shut down on Saturday in the wake of an unprecedented clampdown on "rumour-mongering" via Twitter-like weibo services. The Sina, Tencent and Sohu weibo accounts of Beijing-based political scientist Zhang Ming were closed on Saturday following "directives from higher authorities". Zhang, who has 250,000 followers on Sina weibo, said he assumed he had fallen victim to the clampdown, which came after online rumours suggested a military coup was imminent in Beijing following the sacking of former Chongqing Communist Party boss Bo Xilai. The two biggest weibo sites, Sina and Tencent, stopped all users from commenting on posts from 8am on Saturday until 8am tomorrow after Xinhua said six people were detained for posting or circulating entries about tanks on Beijing streets, gunshots or plans for a coup. Sixteen websites were also shut down for allegedly spreading rumours. [...] The crackdown revealed a state of anxiety among the authorities. State propaganda mouthpieces ramped up the rhetoric on Saturday with warnings about how microblogs could be converted into cheap tools to instigate public disorder. [...] Xinhua warned: "Internet users will distrust and desert unreliable websites, and website operators would face 'legal consequences' if they let rumours fly." [...]. ^ top ^

China's urban population to reach 70 pct by 2030: World Bank (Xinhua)
2012-04-03
China's urban population is expected to reach 70 percent by 2030 and the country needs to handle its fast urbanization right, as it could create difficulties, especially environmental problems, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Tuesday. If it is done properly, urbanization can be the foundation of future growth, Zoellick said at the 2012 annual meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA). The three-day forum is scheduled to end late Tuesday in Boao, a scenic town on the eastern coast of China's southernmost island province of Hainan. [...] Each additional percentage-point increase in urbanization means over 10 million more rural residents becoming city dwellers, Zheng Xinli, vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchange, told Xinhua earlier. He went on to state that each city dweller will spur at least 100,000 yuan (15,873 U.S. dollars) in investment in infrastructure. However, people moving into cities also present huge issues, such as infrastructure, water and sanitation needs, said Zoellick. [...] People in cities near the oceans will also face rising water levels, he said. China's urbanization rate exceeded 50 percent for the first time at the end of last year, while the average level in developed economies stays at 70 percent, according to Zheng Xinli. ^ top ^

Microbloggers back in action (SCMP)
2012-04-04
Microblogging returned to normal on the mainland yesterday morning after an unprecedented three-day clampdown on "rumour-mongering" via Twitter-like services. The suspension was lifted on the two biggest microblogging sites, Sina and Tencent, which had been forced to stop their estimated 700 million users from commenting on posts made by others. The clampdown, in effect from 8am on Saturday until 8am yesterday, came after Xinhua announced that six people had been detained for posting or circulating rumours about "military vehicles on Beijing streets" and other rumours related to an alleged coup in the capital. Sixteen websites were also reportedly shut down for allegedly spreading rumours. While most internet users hailed the end of the suspension, others noted that they didn't regard their fundamental right to free speech as an act of charity to be granted by authorities. [...] Following the government's campaign to "cleanse harmful information and rumours", Sina and Tencent still prevented users yesterday from posting comments containing words and phrases such as "coup", "military vehicles", "Changan Avenue curfew" or "gunshots on Changan Avenue". [...] Chen Ziming, an independent political analyst based in Beijing, said the recent clampdowns on internet speech demonstrated it was still unrealistic to expect the government to loosen its grip on controls any time soon. "There is still a tug of war [among different political factions]," Chen said. ^ top ^

President Hu stresses tree-planting for greener growth (Xinhua)
2012-04-05
President Hu Jintao on Tuesday called for more efforts in promoting a voluntary tree-planting campaign to provide ecological support to China's scientific development. Introduced in 1981, the campaign remains effective in coping with climate change, improving ecological environment and achieving greener growth, said Hu at a high-profile tree-planting activity featuring the entire Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. [...] Chinese volunteers have planted about 61.4 billion trees across the country over the past three decades, statistics from the State Forestry Administration (SFA) show. Hu also urged the municipal authority of the Chinese capital to speed up the building of a greener Beijing and improve the quality of environment in an all-round way. Beijing has to pioneer in the national drive towards ecological development, Hu told Beijing municipal officials. The central government has invested heavily in key shelterbelt construction in northern China to control sandstorm in Beijing and adjacent port city Tianjin. [...] The country's forest coverage reached 20.36 percent in 2010, up from 18.2 percent in 2005, and is expected to further increase to 21.66 percent by 2015. ^ top ^

Record crowds swell nation's cemeteries (People's Daily)
2012-04-05
China's Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) said Wednesday that an estimated 520 million people mourned the deceased at graveyards or cemeteries during the three-day Qing Ming, or Tomb-sweeping Day, holiday, up 15 percent from last year. [...] No major accidents or large-scale traffic jams were reported during the holiday, said the statement. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai ranked as China's most open city (China Daily)
2012-04-02
China's eastern economic hub of Shanghai is the most open city in the country for its deep involvement in developing an export-oriented economy, according to a report released by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner. Beijing and the southern coastal province of Guangdong ranked second and third, respectively, in terms of their degree of openness, which was measured using three primary indices for economic, technological and social development, the report said. The report marked the first time for China to release an openness index for its 31 administrative areas on the Chinese mainland. The move will help identify regional economic differences and serve as a reference for the country's policy choices, said Wei Jianguo, secretary-general of the China Center for International Economic Exchange and former deputy minister of commerce. The southwest province of Guizhou ranked the lowest after Northwest China's Qinghai province and the Tibet autonomous region, the report said. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet to expand rural highway network (Xinhua)
2012-04-03
Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region will invest heavily in constructing rural highways to provide road transportation to remote villages, local authorities said. A total investment of 3.11 billion yuan (494.2 million U.S. dollars) will be made, and 13,385 kilometers of rural highways will be built in three years, according to a statement issued by the regional department of transportation. The extended network will end the state of seclusion in 669 villages by linking them with highways, the statement said. Heavy investment in Tibet's infrastructure has expanded the region's network of highways to cover about 90 percent of villages as of 2011, but officials said 714 Tibetan villages still lacked access to road transport. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Graft arrest 'an isolated case' (SCMP)
2012-04-01
Three days after two of Hong Kong's richest tycoons and a former top government official were arrested on suspicion of corruption by the ICAC, the government has broken its silence on the unprecedented probe, describing it as an "individual incident" that will not affect the morale of the civil service. With the chairmen of property giant Sun Hung Kai, Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, 60, and his brother Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, 58, along with former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, 62, all out on bail following their arrest, a senior official yesterday responded to questions on the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation that has rocked the city. Secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen described the arrest of Hui - who masterminded outgoing leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's re-election campaign - as "an individual incident". [...] No one has been charged in connection with the probe as yet, but the arrests in connection with allegations of bribery and misconduct in public office have been interpreted by some as an attack on the city's influential property tycoons. [...] Claims of collusion have intensified the debate over "developer hegemony", in which property developers are accused of maximising their influence by building up land banks and dominating business in various sectors, according to Lawrence Poon Wing-cheung, an estate specialist teaching at the City University. [...]. ^ top ^

Quiet start to building crackdown (SCMP)
2012-04-02
The government started its crackdown against illegal building work in the New Territories yesterday, but there were no officials to be seen in villages rumoured to be on the list. The Buildings Department is to send removal orders to owners of village houses that seriously breach the standard three-storey format. However, under a new system, villagers who own homes with lower-risk illegal structures must now register with the department within the next six months and appoint a professional to carry out regular inspections of the add-ons. Once registered, these structures can be kept for at least the next five years. The government has targeted nine villages in nine districts of the New Territories in its crackdown, but it has not named the villages. [...] Although the government promised to offer loans to people who were forced to demolish structures, village representative Choi Kin-sun said removal costs would remain a burden for them. He said the government should also rehouse affected people. [...] As of February 14, some 866 removal orders previously issued to owners of village houses in the New Territories had not been complied with by their expiry date. Sixty-nine of these were four years overdue. On the other hand, the new registration system could also prove to be ineffective, as rural powerhouses refuse to endorse it. [...] Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, chairman of Tuen Mun Rural Committee and president of the Law Society, called on villagers to boycott registration. "It is absurd for a law enforcer to offer a grace period for rule-breakers who offer to sign up," he said. "And it is illogical to ask someone to admit to law-breaking behaviour with no guarantee of what will happen after the grace period." [...]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Vice premier calls for boosting cross-Strait relations (Xinhua)
2012-04-01
Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday called for boosting cross-Strait relations, promoting economic cooperation between the mainland and Taiwan and letting the people of both sides share the fruits of development. Li made the statement while meeting with a delegation from Taiwan at this year's Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in China's southern island province of Hainan. [...] Li said the mainland will consolidate a common political foundation by opposing "Taiwan independence" and recognizing the "1992 consensus," and continue to implement policies that promote cross-Strait relations. [...]. Efforts should be made to accelerate follow-up negotiations for the cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), signed in June 2010, as well as promote other cross-Strait talks and agreements, Li said. A cross-Strait monetary settlement mechanism, as well as a mechanism for jointly supervising the banking, security and insurance sectors, should be put into place, Li said. [...] Li said he welcomes the approval of individual tourist visits for ten additional mainland cities this year, as this will be conducive to "enhancing cross-Strait understanding and promoting Taiwan's tourism development." [...] Wu said he hopes both sides will seek common ground, shelve disputes, uphold cross-Strait harmony and emphasize the livelihoods of their respective populations. ^ top ^

Taiwan doubles quota for solo mainlanders (SCMP)
2012-04-02
Taiwan will double its quota of independent tourists from the mainland to allow up to 1,000 visitors a day, the government announced on Sunday less than a year after lifting a total ban on solo travellers from across the Taiwan Strait. The move, effective from April 28, will help promote friendship and tourism, the Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement, adding that it “to some extent, will also help stabilise and facilitate ties between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait”. Travel between Taiwan and the mainland stopped at the end of a civil war in 1949. But the ban on solo travellers was lifted in June last year in a sign of warming ties between the two bitter rivals. Previously, mainland tourists had only been allowed to visit Taiwan as part of official tour groups amid fears they might overstay their visas to work illegally on the island. [...] While currently only people from Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen are allowed to visit, under the new measures independent travellers from six more cities will be admitted, with another four cities to be added to the list later in the year. [...] In 2011, more than 1.78 million mainlanders visited Taiwan – most of them on organised group tours, the rest on business, family and study trips – a rise of 9.4 per cent from a year before, making China the biggest source of visitors to the island, according to the Tourism Bureau in Taipei. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China to maintain prudent monetary policy (People's Daily)
2012-04-01
China's central bank said Saturday it will ensure a reasonable level of social financing, a measure of funds raised by entities in the real economy, as it maintains a prudent monetary policy this year. The People's Bank of China said it will balance efforts on ensuring stable and relatively fast economic growth, maintaining the overall stability of prices and preventing financial risks. It will continue moving forward to enhance the pertinence and flexibility of its monetary policy, according to a statement issued after its first-quarter monetary policy report.

Although uncertainties remain, the country's economic development and financial system are both in line with the expectations of macro-economic regulation, it added. The central bank said it will gradually promote the liberalization reform of interest rates and improve the formation mechanism of the yuan's exchange rate to promote greater two-way flexibility and ensure its stability. ^ top ^

Chinese securities regulator launches new IPO reform (Xinhua)
2012-04-02
The Chinese securities regulator announced here Sunday that it has started to seek opinions on proposed new rules on the initial public offering (IPO) system, in a move to solve high initial pricing and curb speculative trading. China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said in a statement on its website that the reform aims to make the pricing of new shares reflect the real value of enterprises and protect investors' rights and interests. The CSRC said it is considering increasing scrutiny of IPOs with higher price earning ratios than their listed industry peers, especially when it is more than 25 percent higher, and exposing possible risks to investors. [...] The regulator might also remove a three-month lock-up period for institutional investors that have bought new shares to increase the number of circulating shares in the market, according to the statement. The CSRC has promised to boost supervision on IPO speculation and give more severe punishment over irregularities like disclosure of false financial information and price manipulation. The new rules will be further improved after collecting opinions, and gradually implemented and adjusted according to market conditions, according to the CSRC. ^ top ^

Wen says China's economy continues to grow as anticipated (Xinhua)
2012-04-03
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Tuesday that despite the decline of a few major economic indicators, China's economy as a whole continues to grow as the government anticipated in its exercise of macro-controls. Despite the falls, major economic indicators are still at reasonable levels, and confidence should be maintained on the country's economic work, said Wen during a three-day inspection trip to the southeastern Fujian Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south China. [...] The government should carefully deal with pressures on enterprise operation from weak domestic demand and rising export costs by ensuring financial liquidity, stabilizing export policies, helping reduce production costs and encouraging more imports, he said. Wen also held talks with representatives from Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Shanghai on current economic situation on Tuesday. He said China should pay close attention to changes in both domestic and external markets as the global economic condition is still "grim and complicated." [...] Chinese authorities will bring out prompt pre-adjustments and fine-tuning on current policies according to the changing situation, get prepared and leave enough room for policy adjustments, he said. One of the priorities of the pre-adjustments and fine-tunings is to ensure sufficient fund to continue the construction of unfinished projects, especially the country's key projects, according to Wen. Wen also stressed further supporting agricultural production, ensuring steady foreign trade growth, and firmly regulating real estate market by actively promote the construction of affordable housing. ^ top ^

Diseases threaten economic growth (China Daily)
2012-04-03
China, the world's biggest cigarette market, may suffer slower economic growth because of cancer and other chronic diseases that are hurting the labor force, Minister of Health Chen Zhu said. Non-communicable diseases which cause prolonged sickness are responsible for four out of five deaths in China, compared with about 63 percent globally, and absorb about 70 percent of the nation's health spending, Chen said in an interview on Monday. Fighting the threat requires tighter scrutiny of the tobacco industry, linked to 1 million deaths in China, he said. [...] The same time, the country now counts more than 90 million diabetes and 120 million chronic kidney disease sufferers - the most in the world. "If we don't curb the fast rise of chronic diseases in China, it will have an impact not just on people's health, but also on society and the economy," Chen said in Hainan province, where he is attending the Boao Forum for Asia. [...] Unless preventative steps are taken, early deaths from so-called non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer will crimp China's national income by $558 billion in the decade ending 2015, according to the World Health Organization. [...] China will consider expanding its healthcare workforce and increasing resources near major cities to improve access, Chen said. The government will also look at introducing standards to ensure quality isn't compromised amid a new tendering system tested in East China's Anhui province that encourages drugmakers to compete for State contracts to supply essential medicines. [...] Tobacco also presents another dilemma in China, the world's biggest producer and consumer of the aromatic leaves, accounting for 38 percent of cigarettes smoked worldwide in 2009. "The commercial activities of the tobacco companies should be totally separate from administrative supervision," Chen said. [...]. ^ top ^

Banking monopoly by State sector targeted (China Daily)
2012-04-05
A consensus has been reached among Beijing's top leadership to reduce, if not break, the State sector's banking monopoly, Premier Wen Jiabao said. This was the first time that Beijing acknowledged the monopoly of State-owned banks following last month's announcement of a pilot project to reform the financial sector in Wenzhou, an eastern coastal city with a tradition of entrepreneurship. [...] Economists have long complained about a lack of progress in reform of the State-dominated banking and financial industry and of inadequate service for the country's large number of small and medium-sized enterprises. "Regarding raising funds for your businesses, I think it has been too easy, quite frankly, for our banks to make profits,'' Wen told businessmen during his visit. [...] "This is why we've now come to make way for private capital to enter the financial services sector, which ultimately requires breaking monopolies. There is already a consensus among the central leadership, which is reflected, as you can see, by the pilot reform in Wenzhou. [...] The Wenzhou reform was announced by a State Council executive meeting on March 28. It allows private financial services, including setting up village banks and rural financial cooperatives. [...] Under the current system, State-owned banks live off an effectively guaranteed spread between deposit and lending rates that are set by the central bank. The spread now stands at around 3 percentage points. The so-called Big Four banks — Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China — raked in a combined profit of about 630 billion yuan ($100 billion) last year against a backdrop of slowing economic growth. [...]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

DPRK to open Mount Kumgang to int'l tourists (Xinhua)
2012-04-01
The Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) is about to open the scenic Mount Kumgang to international tourists later this month, the official KCNA news agency said Sunday. Preparations for international tours to the mountain are "making brisk headway" and many foreign tourists and companies have expressed willingness to participate, a spokesman for the Guidance Bureau of the Special Zone for International Tour of Mount Kumgang was quoted as saying. [...] Tours to Mount Kumgang, launched in 1998, had been run by Republic of Korea (ROK)'s Hyundai Asan Corp. before the project was halted in 2008 after an allegedly stray ROK's female tourist was shot dead by a DPRK soldier. [...] Seoul then suspended the program and conditioned its resumption on a proper investigation into the shooting and safety guarantees, while Pyongyang said it had done enough. In 2010, the DPRK seized ROK's properties at the resort in response to what it saw as the latter's reluctance to reopen the tours. Citing the regulations of a new law, the KCNA said that the ROK's business "was deprived of the monopoly" over the tour of Mount Kumgang and that relevant ROK's properties are no longer controversial "as the work has already begun to dispose of them by law according to relevant procedures.". ^ top ^

North Korea party to meet before rocket launch (SCMP)
2012-04-02
North Korea said on Monday its ruling party would hold a special conference on April 11, cementing the power of its young leader just before a major anniversary and the planned launch of a long-range rocket. The meeting is expected to wrap up the power transfer to Kim Jong-Un before the 100th anniversary on April 15 of the birth of founding president Kim Il-Sung – the present leader's grandfather. The rocket launch, purportedly to put a satellite into orbit, is set for sometime between April 12-16 to commemorate the anniversary. [...] Analysts say the Workers' Party of Korea meeting is likely to appoint Jong-Un to the post of party general secretary previously held by his father Kim Jong-Il, who died in December of a heart attack. Jong-Un has been proclaimed “great successor” but has so far been formally appointed to only one of his late father's posts, that of supreme commander of the 1.2 million-strong military. Separately, the North will convene an annual session of its rubber-stamp parliament on April 13. The parliament has the power to appoint a chairman of the National Defence Commission, the top decision-making body in the highly militarised state. Kim Jong-Il previously chaired the commission. It was unclear whether his son would take over the post. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Relics of ancient nomads on exhibit in Mongolia (Xinhua)
2012-04-02
The National Arts Gallery of Mongolia is exhibiting cultural relics of ancient nomadic tribes. The event features more than 550 precious artifacts recently unearthed by a joint Mongolian-Kazakh archaeological team from a Tujue-era tomb in Mongolia's northern Bulgan province. According to the gallery, the tomb was the most intact one of its kind ever discovered in Mongolia and the excavated relics were rarely-seen in Mongolia and even in the Central Asia region. This exhibition, which runs through April 9, was organized by Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and Science Academy of Mongolia in a bid to show Mongolians the precious ancient works of art and let them know better about ancient cultures. ^ top ^

Mongolia hosts UNDP conference on women's political participation (Xinhua)
2012-04-03
Representatives from 11 Asian countries met here Tuesday to draft strategies aimed at increasing women's participation in politics. The regional conference, organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Mongolian government's National Committee on Gender Equality, discussed reforms to current electoral and political party systems to boost the number of women members. [...] According to a UNDP report, the Asia-Pacific region ranks second from bottom in terms of women's political participation globally, with women holding an averaged 18.2 percent of legislative seats. Present at the conference were about 80 delegates from China, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Timor-Leste, as well as UNDP officials and experts. ^ top ^

 

Vincent Laurent
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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