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
  6-12.10.12, No. 444  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Bilateral Issues

China pledges closer ties with Switzerland
2012-10-11
Top Chinese political advisor Jia Qinglin on Thursday pledged that China will work with Switzerland to boost all-round ties. The pledge came as Jia met with Bruno Zuppiger, president of the Switzerland-China group of the Swiss National Council, who is leading a 12-member delegation on an 11-day visit to China. Switzerland is among the first Western countries to recognize and establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, Jia noted, recalling rapid progress in bilateral diplomatic relations over six decades. Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body, described Switzerland as China's important partner in Europe and stressed the importance China has placed on developing ties with the Swiss side. "China would like to work with Switzerland to understand and take care of each other's interests and concerns in a bid to seek new progress of bilateral cooperation in all fields," the senior political advisor said. Jia said that, as the international situation is undergoing profound and complicated change and the world economy is confronted with instability and uncertainty, "it is in the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples to develop China-Switzerland relations." He called on the two countries to consolidate political foundations, seek mutual benefit, tap potential, upgrade the level and quality of cooperation and promote common development. Jia told his guest that the CPPCC would like to advance ties with the Swiss National Council and learn from each other on how to run the state, work for national economic and social development and contribute to China-Switzerland relations. Zuppiger spoke highly of China's economic and social development, arguing there is huge potential for the two countries to work together. He said the group he heads is committed to providing all-round objective information on China for the Swiss and promoting economic and cultural exchanges. It will continue to make positive efforts for the growth of bilateral relations, vowed Zuppiger. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China continues fishery patrols near Diaoyu Islands (Xinhua)
2012-10-06
China's fishery authorities said Saturday that five fishery patrol ships were in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands during the National Day holiday to continue their patrol and protection missions. It is the second routine patrol for the ships after the summer fishing moratorium in East China Sea ended in September, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement issued on Saturday. The five ships, setting sail on Oct. 1, are responsible for ensuring the safety of Chinese fishermen and safeguarding the fishing activity which resumed in the area after typhoon Jelawat abated, the statement said. [...]. ^ top ^

China banks to skip World Bank, IMF talks in Japan (SCMP)
2012-10-09
Major Chinese banks will skip World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings this week in Japan, China's state media said, in apparent protest over a territorial dispute between the two countries. [...] Four state-owned banks – the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Agriculture Bank of China – will not attend the meetings, Xinhua news agency reported late on Monday. The dispute between the world's second and third-largest economies, which escalated last month after Tokyo nationalised three of the islands, has raised fears it could further drag down the already struggling global economy. The world cannot afford for the two economic heavyweights to allow the dispute to drag on, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said in an interview published last week. Japan's top three carmakers Toyota, Honda and Nissan plan to scale back production in China – the world's biggest car market – as anti-Japanese sentiment has hit sales, Japanese media reports have said. Other Japanese factories and businesses in China closed or scaled back operations in September for fear they or their employees could be targeted by mobs after Tokyo nationalised the islands. ^ top ^

US allowed to observe Chinese audits (China Daily)
2012-10-09
China and the United States have reached an agreement that will allow US authorities to observe official Chinese audits, Securities Times reported on Friday. The agreement is meant to help US authorities understand Chinese audit procedures and methods, which is an important part of the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Observers will not have access to detailed results of specific audits, Securities Times said.The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board in the United States announced in May that it was close to an agreement with China to observe audits. Reuters claimed that US companies have lost billions of dollars on US-listed mainland companies since 2010 due to questionable financial reports. ^ top ^

China "strongly opposes" U.S. report about Chinese telecom firms (Xinhua)
2012-10-09
China's Commerce Ministry announced Tuesday it "strongly opposes" a report that alleged Chinese telecommunication companies Huawei Technologies Inc. and ZTE Corp. posed national security threats in the United States. The U.S. report, based on "subjective guesswork" and "untrue evidence," used national security as an excuse for blocking Chinese companies from fair competition in the U.S. market, said Shen Danyang, a ministry spokesman. A U.S. congressional investigation report released Monday said Huawei and ZTE were potential security threats and recommended the U.S. government not use any equipment from the two firms in its computer systems. Shen said the move by the U.S. side violated its long-held free market principle and would undermine investment and cooperation between the two countries' companies. "We hope the United States can make concrete efforts to create a just and fair market environment for the two countries' companies and promote a sound development of bilateral economic and trade ties," Shen said. [...] Huawei and ZTE, both based in Shenzhen in southern China, denied the allegations and accused the United States of obstructing Chinese companies from entering the overseas market. ^ top ^

Officials say no Japan maritime deal in place (China Daily)
2012-10-10
A Japanese media report accusing the Chinese navy of "ignoring" a requirement to inform Japanese counterparts of their presence in certain areas of the East China Sea was "not in accordance with the facts", a source within the Chinese Ministry of National Defense told China Daily on Tuesday. Seven Chinese navy warships sailed through the Miyako Strait between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture on Oct 4, according to the Kyodo News Agency, quoting the Japanese Defense Ministry. The Chinese vessels were actually passing through international waters en route to the Pacific Ocean. But leading Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun claimed on Monday the Chinese ships had not informed Japanese officials beforehand, and the move ignored an agreement between the countries to inform each other of any military movements through the strait. Sankei said defense authorities on both sides this summer had reached an overall consensus on a "crisis management mechanism". But a Ministry of National Defense official, who is familiar with the issue but declined to be named, denied the two countries' defense authorities had established such a mechanism, and said there is no agreement in place to inform each other of military traffic. [...]. ^ top ^

China sets up new department to flex economic muscles for global goals (SCMP)
2012-10-10
The Foreign Ministry has set up a new agency to manage "economic diplomacy" in yet another sign that China intends to continue flexing its economic muscle to pursue its international goals. The newly established department of international economics is to "ensure China will be better involved in global co-operation and governance in a bid to safeguard national interests and economic security", Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said at the agency's inaugural meeting in Beijing yesterday. State Councillor Dai Bingguo told the meeting that economic matters were becoming ever more important to China's overall foreign policy. Until now, overseas economic affairs had been shared by the ministries of agriculture, commerce, finance and others. Analysts said the move, which comes at a time of increasing territorial disputes between China and its neighbours, showed that its leaders intended to keep leveraging on the country's status as the world's second-largest economy in international conflicts. Japanese carmakers reported tumbling Chinese sales last month after Tokyo bought the disputed Diaoyu, or Senkaku, islands, leading to calls for boycotts of Japanese products. Both Toyota and Suzuki saw monthly sales drops of more than 40 per cent from a year earlier, leading to concerns that the market share of Japanese brands in the world's biggest car market would continue to shrink. Shi Yinhong, an expert on foreign relations at Renmin University, said China had used economic weapons to punish some countries in the past, but "they were mainly ad-hoc reactions instead of a conscious strategy". For instance, China blocked imports of Philippine bananas during a flare-up in the country's territorial dispute in the South China Sea earlier this year. Analysts said Beijing had adopted a more aggressive approach because its economic sweeteners, such as foreign aid and favourable trade policies, failed to achieve desired results. ^ top ^

China central bank chief pulls out of IMF meeting amid Diaoyu row (SCMP)
2012-10-10
The International Monetary Fund confirmed on Wednesday that China's central bank governor will not lead the Chinese delegation at the IMF's semi-annual meeting this week, in what appeared to be a snub to host Japan. The IMF cited Zhou Xiaochuan's schedule for his failure to attend but the decision follows a deterioration in relations between China and Japan over their competing claims to sovereignty of some islands in the East China Sea. [...] “We were informed two days ago that Governor Zhou's schedule might require him to cancel his lecture in Tokyo,” an IMF spokeswoman said. “It has now been confirmed that his deputy Yi Gang will represent him.” Zhou had been set to deliver what amounted to a closing keynote lecture on Sunday. The IMF comments confirm a report on Tuesday by Xinhua that China's delegation will not be led by its most senior finance officials. According to Chinese protocol, only the most senior officials usually lead such trips, but the report said China's deputy central bank governor and vice-finance minister would be leading the central bank's delegation instead. [...]. ^ top ^

Japan's plan to 'compromise a little' over islands fails to impress Beijing (SCMP)
2012-10-11
Japan is reportedly considering an attempt to calm rising tensions with China by "acknowledging" Chinese claims to the disputed Diaoyu Islands, but Beijing has responded to the plan with indifference. Kyodo News, citing Japanese sources close to the matter, reported yesterday that Tokyo was making plans to "compromise a little" with China after widespread anger sparked by the Japanese government's purchase of three of the islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkakus in Japan. Tokyo would only "acknowledge" Chinese claims to the islands, Kyodo reported, but would not give in to Beijing's calls to recognise that the sovereignty of the islands was in dispute, the report said - a self-contradictory signal interpreted by mainland analysts as a mere diplomatic gesture rather than a concession that could alleviate tensions. [...] But Japan had refrained from saying it "fully understands and respects" Chinese claims to the islands, fearing such a remark might be interpreted by Beijing as an acknowledgment of the existence of a territorial dispute. In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not say if Beijing approved Tokyo's plan and called on Japan to admit the existence of a bilateral territorial dispute and settle the issue through negotiation. [...] "This is not a major concession by Tokyo," said Da Zhigang, a Japan specialist at Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences. "It will put Beijing in a difficult position in claiming sovereignty over the islands if it makes an enthusiastic response to such a minor step by Tokyo. "It is just a gesture to calm tensions. When the situation has improved, Tokyo may take a tough stance again." [...]. ^ top ^

China slams U.S. report on human rights (Xinhua)
2012-10-11
A foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday slammed a U.S. report involving China, urging the U.S. side to stop issuing such "groundless remarks" against the nation. Spokesman Hong Lei made the appeal at a regular press briefing when commenting on the annual report issued by the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China. China hopes the commission would respect facts, forsake prejudices and stop behaviors and words that interfere with China's internal affairs and harm bilateral ties, Hong said. [...] In regards to China-related issues touched on by U.S. presidential candidates in the process of their campaigns, Hong said China has noted relevant remarks. The U.S. side should truly respect and objectively view China's development, and do more things conducive to creating closer mutual trust and cooperation in a responsible way, Hong said, noting that such moves will also be in the fundamental interests of the United States. [...]. ^ top ^

China condemns US solar ruling (China Daily)
2012-10-11
China's Ministry of Commerce on Thursday condemned a US ruling to slap duties on billions of dollars worth of Chinese solar energy products, claiming the decision signals protectionism and hinders the development of new energy. Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said the US Commerce Department had ignored reasoning from the Chinese government and enterprises by imposing duties on solar cells made in China. The US decision runs counter to global efforts to jointly combat the challenges of climate change and energy security and breaks the country's promise not to take fresh protectionism measures, which was made at the G20 summit, Shen said. [...] Shen made the remarks after the US Commerce Department affirmed steep tariffs on Chinese solar panel imports on Wednesday, ranging from 18.32 percent to 249.96 percent, after judging that solar panel production was being made artificially cheap by unfair subsidies from the Chinese government, resulting in dumping in the US market. [...] The tariffs only apply to solar cells and modules made in the Chinese mainland. Aaron Chew, a senior analyst at investment firm Maxim Group in New York, said the tariffs will have a minor impact on Chinese manufacturers. The irony is, all the major players in the Chinese mainland solar industry, such as Suntech Power Holdings, have figured out a way to work around the tariffs. They are going to buy cells from Taiwan, Chew said. [...]. ^ top ^

Mo Yan wins Nobel Prize for Literature (SCMP)
2012-10-12
Author Mo Yan made history yesterday by becoming the first Chinese national to win the Nobel Prize for literature. Although mainland-born Gao Xingjian won the literature prize 12 years ago, he was by then a French citizen, after moving to France in 1987. The Swedish Academy, which oversees the 111-year-old prize, hailed Mo Yan for his "hallucinatory realism" which merged "folk tales, history and the contemporary", when it announced the 8 million Swedish krona (HK$9.25 million) award in Stockholm. "He has such a damn unique way of writing," the academy's permanent secretary, Peter Englund, told Swedish television. "If you read half a page of Mo Yan you immediately recognise it as him. He was at home with his dad [when told he had won the award]. He said he was overjoyed and terrified." Certainly he is outstanding enough to be the vanguard of Chinese literature on the world stage Mo Yan is a pen name which means "don't speak". His real name is Guan Moye. The award citation said Mo Yan, 57, used a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives to create a world that was reminiscent of the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Mo Yan also found a "departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition", it said. The announcement capped days of media frenzy on the mainland about Mo Yan's chances of winning the award. Mo Yan chose to stay out of the public eye for the past few days, but yesterday told the press at a hotel in his home town, Gaomi in rural Shandong province, that he was "very surprised" and was having dinner when received the news. "A writer should tell the world about himself via his works, not awards," Mo Yan later told state television CCTV. [...] However, Mo Yan has been criticised by those who see him as bowing to censors and failing to show solidarity with dissident writers in order to remain on good terms with the Communist government. But Sylvia Li-chun Lin, an associate professor of Chinese at the University of Notre Dame in the US, said most people who criticised Mo Yan for "co-operating with government censors" did not understand how censorship worked on the mainland. She said the government did not examine every book before it was published and so writers could not really be accused of editing their works in order to pass the censor. "Mo Yan has published several of his novels in Taiwan, in anticipation of disapproval from the Chinese government," she said. "Certainly he is outstanding enough to be the vanguard of Chinese literature on the world stage.". ^ top ^

China, Germany hold third foreign minister-level strategic dialogue (Xinhua)
2012-10-12
China and Germany held their 3rd foreign minister-level strategic dialogue in Beijing on Thursday, pledging to work together to promote China-Europe ties. "This year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of China-Germany diplomatic ties. The two countries have made tremendous progress in their relations over the past 40 years," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said at the meeting. Noting that both China and Germany have great influence in the world, Yang said cooperation between the two countries was significant and promising. [...] Yang proposed that the two sides should increase high-level contacts and communication in all fields and strengthen political mutual trust. He also said the two sides should implement the results of the second round of Sino-German government talks, expand mutual investment and the scale of bilateral trade and make joint efforts to fight against trade protectionism. [...] German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle hailed the progress of bilateral relations over the past 40 years during the dialogue. "Germany attaches great importance to the relationship with China and regards it as important strategic partner of cooperation. Germany hopes to work with China to plan the future for bilateral ties by enhancing political dialogue, promoting cultural exchanges and strengthening cooperation on major issues," he said. [...] During their meeting, Yang expressed deep condolences over the death of German citizens in a recent traffic accident in China and extended sincere sympathy to their families. Westerwelle thanked China for its rescue efforts and careful treatment of the injured. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Foxconn denies workers went on strike at plant (China Daily)
2012-10-07
A major supplier for tech giant Apple on Saturday denied reports that thousands of workers components for the iPhone 5 went on strike at the company's plant in Zhengzhou, Henan province. New York-based labor group China Labor Watch had said 3,000 to 4,000 workers walked out of the factory on Friday afternoon, angered by the stricter quality-control demands for Apple's iPhone 5 assembly line and not being permitted to take vacations during the week-long National Day holiday. The strike was said to have started at 1 pm Friday and continued to 11 pm, involving workers mainly from assembly lines and quality-control inspectors. "Foxconn raised overly-strict demands on product quality without providing worker training for the corresponding skills. This led to workers turning out products that did not meet standards, and ultimately put a tremendous amount of pressure on workers," China Labor Watch said in a statement. [...] The statement also said that many iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were paralyzed for a whole day because of the large-scale strike. But Foxconn Technology Group, an electronic giant assembling Apple's products, denied the report of a large-scale strike on Saturday, saying the plant suffered only two brief and small disputes during Oct 1 to 2. [...] "Any reports that there has been an employee strike are inaccurate. There has been no workplace stoppage in that facility or any other Foxconn facility and production has continued on schedule," the company said in an e-mailed statement. Foxconn also said that employees who worked during the National Day holiday did so voluntarily and were paid three times their usual hourly compensation, as demanded by law. [...]. ^ top ^

China spends heavily in afforestation efforts (Xinhua)
2012-10-07
The Chinese government allocated 46.2 billion yuan (7.22 billion U.S. dollars) from its central budget to the return-farmland-to-forests plan during 2008-2011, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). As of the end of 2006, around 9.3 million hectares of farmland had been converted to forests since the government launched a national campaign in 1999. Around 15 million hectares of hillside was closed to facilitate afforestation during the period, according to the NDRC. Under the plan, farmers received grain and cash subsidies if they returned their farmlands to woodlands to combat soil erosion. By 2006, some 124 million farmers had been subsidized and the ecological environment had seen significant improvements, the NDRC said. The emphasis on boosting forest coverage came amid the country's efforts to increase its "forest carbon sink capacity." This means using forested areas to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thereby helping address global climate change. China'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 ^

Anti-graft boss He Guoqiang touts Bo case (SCMP)
2012-10-09
The Communist Party's anti-graft chief pointed to the aggressive investigation into the crimes of former Politburo member Bo Xilai as a clear indication of the success of the anti-corruption drive over the past five years. He Guoqiang, head of the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, told a recent meeting of the party's anti-corruption co-ordination group that no effort would be spared in eliminating rampant graft. "We should maintain strong momentum in our fight against corruption," a Xinhua report yesterday quoted He as saying. "The corrupt elements, no matter who they are, will be resolutely dealt with without mercy. Never let them get away from the punishment of party discipline and state laws." He became the party's anti-graft chief in 2007 and is expected to step down after next months' party congress. In reviewing the past five years of work, He said more than 660,000 officials found guilty of disciplinary violations had been punished, and more than 24,000 officials suspected of committing crimes had been handed over to government judicial agencies for prosecution. He singled out the cases of former Chongqing party secretary Bo, former railways minister Liu Zhijun and former Shenzhen mayor Xu Zongheng. Bo was accused by the commission of corruption and having affairs with a number of women. He was expelled from the party and Chongqing's people's congress last month. [...]. ^ top ^

Experts call for scrapping of mainland 'golden weeks' (SCMP)
2012-10-09
As millions of mainlanders returned to work yesterday after an eight-day holiday, the debate over whether to scrap such "golden weeks" is raging on the mainland, with some holidaymakers recalling horror stories from the past week. Many experts have called for the introduction of more paid leave to replace the second golden week holiday of the year, but others say the existing holiday arrangements can stimulate consumer spending and better protect workers rights. State media described the just concluded eight-day golden week holiday, a day longer than usual because the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday fell on September 30, as the worst holiday week in recent years despite a drop in casualties from traffic accidents and a rise in tourism revenue. During the week, there were 68,422 traffic accidents, killing 794 people - a 46.4 per cent drop in fatalities from last year's National Day holiday week. More than 34 million visitors were received by 119 tourist spots.[...] The golden week arrangement, which sees millions of mainlanders take their holidays at the same time, was introduced in 1999, when the authorities wanted to boost economic growth following the Asian financial crisis. But Cai Jiming, director of Tsinghua University's Political Economy Research Centre, said the holiday arrangement had resulted in more drawbacks than benefits. "The authorities only focus on short-term economic gain, without realising the negative impact caused to citizens," Cai said.[...] Cai said the National Day holiday week should be replaced by more paid leave, which would allow workers to take days off whenever they see fit, and statutory holidays to celebrate traditional Chinese festivals. [...] But Liu Simin, a tourism researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the golden week arrangement should be kept because many workers on the mainland were still not entitled to paid leave, and the golden week could ensure that they get time off work. ^ top ^

Over 660,000 officials get punished for corruption (China Daily)
2012-10-09
The Communist Party of China's anti-corruption agencies have punished more than 660,000 officials found guilty of disciplinary violations in the past five years, senior leader He Guoqiang announced on Monday. More than 24,000 officials were transferred to the judicial system for suspected crimes, said He, head of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Procuratorial and discipline inspection authorities across the country investigated in excess of 640,000 corruption cases from November 2007 to June this year. More than 630,000 of the cases have been resolved, according to He. [...] He urged institutions to put the "handling of disciplinary violation cases" at the top of the agenda and to always crack down on corruption. [...] The head of the commission said improvements have been made in the way departments cooperate to prevent corrupt officials fleeing to foreign countries and to make it easier to return people who have done so. [...]. ^ top ^

Pollution blind spot in the textile industry (China Daily)
2012-10-09
The textile industry continues to pose environmental challenges for China despite the total number of factories operating in the country shrinking, according to a report released on Monday by five NGOs. Adidas announced plans to close its last factory in China in July and many other international brands have gone the same way. "But if we look deeper into the problem, we'll find that what we've lost in share of exports was mainly concentrated in the garment processing sector of the textile industry, which provides large amount of jobs with relatively low water and energy consumption and pollution discharges," said Ma Jun, executive director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, one of the five NGOs that released the report named Sustainable Apparel's Critical Blind Spot. In raw material processing sectors such as dyeing and printing, which are responsible for more than 80 percent of the textile industry's pollution discharges, China is still in pole position. [...] The mass production of raw materials in China has resulted in the industry being one of the most severe water polluters in the country. [...] To push brands to go greener, the five NGOs released a report in April, listing environmental problems caused by the material suppliers of 46 domestic and international fashion brands. Over the past half year six of those brands have taken positive action, establishing regular screening mechanisms to identify polluters in their supply chains and forcing more than 200 suppliers to explain their poor records on pollution. H&M, Adidas, Nike and Levis have gone a step further and extended their management to dyeing and printing suppliers, Ma added. But the majority of brands have made no changes. [...]. ^ top ^

CPC recruits 26 mln members from 2002 to 2011 (Xinhua)
2012-10-09
The Communist Party of China (CPC) recruited more than 26.66 million members from 2002 to 2011, a figure almost equal to the size of the population of Venezuela, according to the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee. By 2011, about 4.03 million community-level CPC organizations had been established across China. The country also has another 11,000 mobile CPC organizations and 441,000 service centers for CPC members, it said. The total number of CPC members currently exceeds 82 million. In the last decade, the CPC has been swiftly expanding its presence in the private sector, establishing CPC organizations in 99.7 percent of qualified non-public enterprises, it said. [...] More educated CPC members were elected to head township-level CPC committees in 2011. The average age of township CPC chiefs is 41.1 years and 94.2 percent of them have received higher education, according to the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee. ^ top ^

Paper praising China's legal reforms 'is whitewash' (SCMP)
2012-10-10
China released its first white paper on legal reform yesterday, touting accomplishments in improving the legal framework during the past five years, ahead of the key Communist Party congress next month. But some legal experts said the accomplishments did not serve as convincing proof that the legal system was on the right track. They said the paper merely made it appear that leaders had done a good job, before some of them stepped down in the leadership reshuffle. "The paper does not lay out a concrete path directing the future of legal reform of China. It is an attempt to praise the current leaders," said Professor He Weifang, who teaches law at Peking University. He added that, as the legal system still operated under the party central committee's Political and Legislative Affairs Committee, it lacked the apparatus to implement reforms. [...] The white paper released by the State Council yesterday said legal reform had been strengthened since 2008, with improved transparency of the legal system. Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law that were passed by the National People's Congress in March had safeguarded human rights and lawyers' rights to defend for their clients, the paper said. But the amendments triggered controversy by permitting surveillance at a location other than the detainee's usual residence if he or she does not have a fixed home, or if the case is said to concern state security or terrorism. [...] The paper also claimed courts had heard more witness testimonies, but the expedited hearings for Bo's former right-hand man, Wang Lijun, and Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, have raised concerns that their trials did not follow due process. "In addition, many lawyers are barred from taking sensitive cases. They have to report to judicial authorities before taking such cases," said Beijing-based lawyer Li Fangping. Liu Xiaoyuan, another Beijing-based lawyer, said China had passed several new laws over the years, "but many were not properly implemented". [...] But Jiang Wei, the head of a government committee on judicial reform, said during a press conference on the white paper that there would be "adverse consequences" if China blindly followed the legal systems in use by other countries. ^ top ^

Li Ruihuan the latest retired party heavyweight to appear in public (SCMP)
2012-10-10
Former top party official Li Ruihuan made a rare public appearance in Beijing at the weekend, joining a long list of retired political heavyweights who appear keen to reassert their influence ahead of next month's once-a-decade transfer of power. [...] The reappearance of Li - who ranked fourth in the party hierarchy for a decade until his retirement in 2003 - at the China Open tennis-singles finals on Sunday raised eyebrows. He was accompanied by former vice-premier Wu Yi, but what made Li's appearance different from the recent resurfacing of other party elders, including former president Jiang Zemin, was that he was accompanied by incumbent officials. They included Beijing party chief Guo Jinlong, a close ally of President Hu Jintao, and the capital's mayor, Wang Anshun. Analysts said Li, 78, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference between 1993 and 2003, had also received unusual treatment from the semi-official China News Service, which ran a photo of Li, Guo and Wang together at the finals. By contrast, when Jiang, 86, showed up last month at a concert at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, no incumbent officials were seen around him. And the public did not learn about the appearance of the former president and party chief, who appears to have recovered from a serious illness last year that fed rumours about his death, until overseas Chinese websites broke the news two days later. [...] Many analysts say that incumbent and retired leaders may not have finalised key decisions on the new leadership line-up, the broad outline of the future or, arguably most importantly, how to deal with the trial of ex-Politburo member Bo Xilai. ^ top ^

Shaanxi to set up crowd-control measures (China Daily)
2012-10-10
Shaanxi province plans to implement crowd-control measures to curb the number of tourists visiting scenic mountain spots in the wake of overcrowding incidents last week, local authorities said. The announcement comes after 39,000 tourists flocked to Huashan Mountain on Oct 2 during the eight-day National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holidays. The incidents resulted in the stabbing of a couple from North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Experts will be consulted over the maximum capacity of the scenic spots, according to Zhao Zhengyong, the governor of Shaanxi province. "The safety and enjoyment of the tourists are the most important things," Zhao said.Turning his attention to the injured couple, Zhao said that he has asked the relevant departments to investigate the case. Dong Xianmin, director of the province's tourism administration bureau, said that tourism administrations at different levels in the province will set up an early-warning mechanism to control the number of tourists and will try to improve management and service levels. [...] The limitation of the number of tourists is necessary in steep and narrow scenic spots, such as Huashan Mountain, said Xu Jinli, an expert with the province's tourism association. "I think that the limitation of the number of tourists in Huashan and in similar scenic spots is feasible with fewer ticket sales," Xu said. [...]. ^ top ^

Liu Xiaobo still hidden behind veil of silence two years after Nobel Prize (SCMP)
2012-10-12
Two years after his Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo remains imprisoned, relatives are under house arrest or cowed into silence and, supporters say, the democratic change he sought seems further away than ever. As the Nobel committee in Oslo prepares to award this year's prestigious prize today, the dissident writer remains the world's only jailed Nobel peace laureate, with more than seven years left to go of a sentence for subversion. The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, a Hong Kong-based rights group, said yesterday that Liu's elder and younger brothers, Xiaoguang and Xiaoxuan, had visited Liu at his prison in Jinzhou, Liaoning province, on September 26, the first time since the three had met last September. Citing Liu Xiaoguang, the group said Liu's heath and spirit appeared good. But Liu's wife, Liu Xia, remains under house arrest at their home in Beijing to prevent her speaking about her husband's case, while his brothers continue to decline media interviews for fear of losing their occasional visitation rights to him. "I don't have any information about Liu Xiaobo and I have been unable to reach Liu Xia," said Dai Qing, a fellow activist who is close to the couple. [...] Hu Jia, another activist who spent three years in jail on subversion charges until his release last year, said he was worried about Liu Xia's health. He was one of the few people to have seen her recently, he said, after visiting the Liu home in eastern Beijing at night to find it under heavy guard - as it has been since the Nobel award in 2010. [...]. ^ top ^

Injured worker more bad press for Foxconn (SCMP)
2012-10-12
In the latest labour rights furore to hit Foxconn Technology, Apple's largest contract manufacturer, the Taiwanese firm is pushing for a worker who was brain-damaged in an accident at one of its Shenzhen factories a year ago to be removed from hospital. Zhang Tingzhen, 26, had nearly half his brain removed after receiving an electric shock and falling four metres while repairing a spotlight at a Foxconn factory. He remains in hospital under close observation, unable to speak or walk properly. Foxconn has been sending text messages to his family since July, demanding they remove him from hospital and threatening to cut off funding for his treatment. The company, which is paying Zhang's hospital bills, confirmed it had sent the messages, saying that under mainland law a worker must submit himself to a disability assessment. In Zhang's case, this would require him to be discharged from Shenzhen's No 2 People's Hospital and travel 70 kilometres to Huizhou, where he was first hired by Foxconn. The firm said it would be prepared to return Zhang to the hospital after the assessment, though his father said Zhang was unfit to travel and doctors felt he remained at risk of a brain haemorrhage. [...] Labour activists say Zhang is just one of many thousands of mainland workers who are left permanently disabled or chronically ill by workplace accidents, at the mercy of a system that often requires them and their families to fight degrading battles for treatment and compensation. [...] Zhang is actually one of the lucky ones, social workers say, pointing out that Foxconn has at least been paying his hospital bills and the living expenses of his family, which has moved to Shenzhen from Henan to be with him. They estimate that at least four out of 10 mainland workers are not covered by any kind of insurance, despite laws requiring all employers to insure their workers. ^ top ^

Green activist Liu Futang in court over books he gave away (SCMP)
2012-10-12
A vocal environmentalist faced charges of "illegal business operation" in a court in Hainan yesterday for self-publishing books on environmental conflicts caused by government-backed projects. The prosecution of Liu Futang, a former forestry official, is aimed at stifling dissent over widespread pollution on the mainland, analysts said. Prosecutors accused Liu, 63, of printing and distributing 18,000 copies of books worth 464,000 yuan (HK$568,000), and illegally obtaining 78,000 yuan. [...] Most of the books were sent as gifts to environmental groups, government officials and Liu's friends. But prosecutors said Liu had accepted money from some recipients, and his daughter sold 14 copies of one book through an online store. Zhou Ze, a lawyer who attended the three-hour trial at Longhua District People's Court in Haikou, said a woman from Sanya told the court she had only offered Liu money as compensation to cover printing costs. [...] No verdict was handed down yesterday but some legal experts said the charges could result in a jail sentence of two to five years. Zhou said the charges were groundless because Liu did not print the books with the intention of making a profit, and called the case "retaliation by local governments and interest groups" against Liu's harsh criticism of several big projects that destroyed valuable forests and disrupted people's lives. Zhou also said there was a procedural problem with the trial because the exchange of evidence was carried out privately on Wednesday, showing that the court was reluctant to open the case to the public. Liu has won several environmental awards in the past decade for exposing environmental conflicts through blogs and microblog postings. He landed in trouble after becoming involved in protests against a planned coal-fired power plant in Hainan's Yinggehai township. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Air monitoring system comes under fire (China Daily)
2012-10-07
The capital's environmental monitoring center, which has 35 stations citywide, began releasing hourly updates on PM2.5, or particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, on Saturday, along with its usual reports on sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and PM10. However, air quality readings on its website — bjmemc.com.cn/g356.aspx — are only available for the previous 24 hours. Even academic researchers cannot access historical data, said Li Jinfeng, a PhD student at Peking University's College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. [...] The government must develop more direct public information channels and straightforward descriptions of air quality, said Wang Qiuxia, a researcher at Green Beagle, an environmental protection NGO in Beijing. The environmental monitoring center could not be reached for comment on Sunday. [...] According to the city's environmental protection bureau, the density of PM2.5 has decreased over the past 10 years, with the average annual density falling from between 100 and 110 micrograms per cubic meter of air in 2000 to between 70 and 80 mcg/cu m in 2010, due to pollution reduction measures, including a policy to encourage the scrapping of old cars. City officials are determined to cut the concentration to 60 mcg/cu m by 2015 and by a further 10 mcg by 2020. [...] According to Beijing's environmental protection bureau, 24.5 percent of PM2.5 pollutant comes from neighboring provinces. [...]. ^ top ^

'Severe' pollution recorded as smog shrouds Beijing (SCMP)
2012-10-09
High levels of tiny airborne particles were recorded at Beijing's 35 pollution-monitoring stations yesterday as the capital was blanketed by heavy smog on the first working day after the eight-day National Day holiday. Beijing's environmental authority said on Saturday that the city had completed upgrading the monitoring network so that it could give a more accurate measure of the city's air quality, with all 35 stations now releasing real-time data on cancer-causing respirable suspended particulates - known as PM 2.5. The monitors, scattered in central Beijing and its suburbs, will run for a three-month trial, before the city's environmental authority formally begins using PM2.5 as a gauge of the city's air quality, rather than the larger particles it currently measures. The smaller particles are considered more critical because they can embed themselves deep in the lungs and the bloodstream. Concentrations of PM2.5 reached 274 micrograms per cubic metre at 6pm yesterday, with air quality officially rated "severely polluted". [...]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Chinese official under graft probe for owning 21 houses (Xinhua)
2012-10-11
An investigation is underway into an urban management official in south China's Guangdong Province after muckrakers in cyberspace found he and his family members own 21 houses. Cai Bin, a senior official with the Panyu District Branch of the Guangzhou Municipal Urban Management and Law Enforcement Bureau, is being investigated for corruption, Guo Xuanyu, spokesperson with the discipline inspection watchdog of Panyu told Xinhua on Wednesday. The scandal emerged after netizens posted pictures of Cai's properties onto Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblogging site. "It is basically true that Cai has 21 houses according to our preliminary investigations," said Guo. The number is much more than Cai previously declared to superior authorities. [...] Of the 21 houses, 19 are under the name of his wife Shi Liying and his son. One is jointly owned by Cai and Shi and the other is under the name of Cai. Among the houses, with a combined floor space of over 7,200 square meters, are a 240-square-meter multi-storey house and a 3,405-square-meter factory building. A real estate agency estimated that the total market value of the houses could be 40 million yuan (6.3 million U.S. dollars). Cai's monthly pay is around 10,000 yuan. [...]. ^ top ^

Cross-border trade essential to HK growth, governor says (SCMP)
2012-10-11
Guangdong Governor Zhu Xiaodan has urged Hongkongers to consider how economic reform on the mainland has affected the city's development. Responding to growing anti-mainland sentiment in Hong Kong, Zhu told a news conference in Beijing: "I guess it is normal to hear different voices from different parts of Hong Kong over cross-border collaboration. "I believe that most Hong Kong people welcome fostering collaboration with the mainland because this is good for both sides. "But if Hong Kong is to maintain sustainable development, it will need a greater hinterland. "We can [ask] whether Hong Kong's pace of development is determined by the mainland slowing down reform or speeding up reform? "This goes without saying if we cite statistics." He urged the Hong Kong media to view cross-border collaboration with objectivity and impartiality. Zhu also presented a development blueprint for Guangzhou's Nansha district which describes it as a new national strategic development zone to transform the delta region and deepen cross-border collaboration. The nation's 12th five-year plan sees Nansha, Qianhai in Shenzhen and Zhuhai's Hengqin island, adjoining Macau, as three keys to upgrading Guangdong's economy and turning the major cities of the Pearl River Delta into a globally competitive cluster. [...] He said Nansha was authorised under national policy to launch pioneering projects and administrative measures, as well as to enjoy taxation benefits." There will be additional through trains connecting Nansha to Hong Kong and Macau," Zhu said. "Medical service providers with licences issued by Hong Kong and Macau will be able to set up business in Nansha." He added that Nansha would be allowed to operate pilot offshore electronic database services and offer financial services such as futures trading, credit insurance and financial leasing. The area would also run an experimental education policy by exploring collaboration among mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and international providers. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet to receive 80,000 tourists daily during holiday (Xinhua)
2012-10-06
Tibet Autonomous Region in southwest China is expected to receive a daily average of 80,000 tourists during the ongoing National Day holiday, local tourism authorities said. Tourists visiting from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7 will bring estimated revenues of 30 million yuan (4.7 million U.S. dollars) per day to the region, according to a press release issued by the region's tourism bureau on Saturday. It said more than 79,000 domestic and foreign tourists visited Tibet on Friday, up 24 percent year on year. Tourism revenues for the day jumped up more than 33 percent year on year to 35 million yuan, the press release said. [...] Tibet on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is emerging as one of the most popular travel destinations in China, particularly after more air and railway links were opened to make the high-altitude region more accessible for tourists. [...]. ^ top ^

Tibetan man dies in latest self-immolation protest (SCMP)
2012-10-07
A Tibetan man has died after setting himself on fire to protest Beijing rule over the Himalayan region, a rights group said, the latest in a line of dozens of Tibetans to use self-immolation as a form of dissent. Sangye Gyatso, a 27-year-old father of two, called out for freedom of religion and language in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans' exiled spiritual leader, before setting himself on fire on Saturday in northwest China's Gansu province, Free Tibet said in a statement. The incident happened around midday near a monastery outside the city of Tsoe, known as Hezuo in Chinese, the London-based group said. A man from the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture propaganda office said he had no information about the reported incident. Calls to the local police rang unanswered. [...] According to Free Tibet, more than 50 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in China since 2009 to protest Chinese rule. The group said Sangye Gyatso's body was carried to nearby Dokar Monastery, where monks prayed for him, and was then taken a short distance to Dzeruwa village, where his family had gathered. He had a 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter, according to Free Tibet. There was a large military presence at the monastery and the village following the self-immolation, Free Tibet said. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

CE shelves national education guidelines after panel report (SCMP)
2012-10-08
After months of controversy, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced on Monday afternoon he would not withdraw the national education curriculum but would shelve a set of guidelines on national education. Leung said the subject of national education was important - and schools were free to choose whether to teach it. Earlier on Monday, Anna Wu Hung-yuk, chairwoman of the Committee on the Implementation of Moral and National Education, said she would recommend to the government that the national education curriculum should not be cancelled, the course guidelines should be shelved. [...] The committee members agreed that national education was an important subject that should be taught in schools, she said. There was no need to scrap it because the government last month gave schools the authority to decide for themselves whether to teach the course. “This change in policy gives schools the autonomy on whether, when and how to teach the subject,” said Wu. “With this in mind, our committee members think it is not appropriate to withdraw it. “Members agree that the set of guidelines cause much anxiety [in the community] and therefore we will recommend to the government that it should be shelved.” [...] A spokeswoman for the Civil Alliance Against National Education, Yip Po-lam, welcomed Wu's comments, saying: “The result of the committee's meeting marks progress for our anti-national education movement.” Yip said she hoped Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying would follow the committee's advice and throw out the course guidelines – removing them from the Education Bureau's online resources site. [...]. ^ top ^

'Tough task' to set limit on tourists to Hong Kong (SCMP)
2012-10-08
Tourism veterans say it will be extremely difficult for the government to determine the maximum number of tourists Hong Kong can accommodate, as officials try to calm public anger at the influx of mainland visitors. Last month authorities on both sides of the border reached a consensus on a plan allowing 4.1 million non-permanent residents of Shenzhen easier access to Hong Kong through multiple-entry visas. The Hong Kong government said it would set up a mechanism to assess the city's potential to receive more travellers, while Shenzhen agreed not to change its permit rules until the assessment was finished. While Chief Executive Leung Chung-ying has yet to reveal how the assessment will be done, two veterans who took part in the latest South China Morning Post debate warned it would be extremely difficult. [...] Caroline Mak Sui-king, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association, said that the price inflation linked to the rise in visitor numbers reflected an acute shortage of retail space and lack of tourism planning. ^ top ^

Thousands apply for kindergartens as mainland kids born in Hong Kong return (SCMP)
2012-10-10
Thousands of applications from mainland parents are expected by Sheung Shui kindergartens as children born in Hong Kong to parents from across the border in recent years return to be educated. Applications received by just two of the 17 kindergartens in the town bordering Shenzhen may already have exceeded the total number of places available. At Fung Kai Kindergarten yesterday, hundreds of parents, many speaking Putonghua, formed a queue that stretched across the road outside. "It is scary," said a Hong Kong parent who waited four hours to get an application form. The pressure on northern kindergartens is expected to grow as more children born in Hong Kong to mainland parents reach school age. [...] The number of such births increased steadily until the government stepped in to curb the influx. By noon, Fung Kai Kindergarten had received 500 applications for the 240 places available for the next school year. Principal Leung Man-shan said the school expected at least 1,400 applications. [...] "As educators, if children come with a Hong Kong birth certificate, we need to enrol them," Leung said. But she added that a third of the school's current pupils travelled from Shenzhen every day. At Sheung Shui Wai Chow Kindergarten, principal Wong Shuk-chun said the school had received 800 applications in an enrolment exercise late last month, although it had only 120 places for next year. [...] Despite possibility of multiple applications, demand for the two kindergartens alone is likely to have surpassed the 1,465 new places offered by the 17 non-profit Sheung Shui kindergartens. [...] The number of children born in Hong Kong to mainland parents rose to 33,000 in 2010 and to 35,000 last year, after which the government imposed new rules at borders and hospitals. [...]. ^ top ^

Pro-Beijing lawmakers take three top posts at opening Legco session (SCMP)
2012-10-11
Pro-establishment lawmakers grabbed all three major posts up for grabs in a rowdy first session of Legco yesterday, then quickly challenged the legality of the halting oath given by radical member Wong Yuk-man. Jasper Tsang Yok-sing won the Legco presidency and two other pro-government lawmakers gained the chairmanships of key committees. In one of his first acts, Tsang pledged to seek legal advice on the validity of Wong's oath of office. The People Power lawmaker interrupted his loyalty pledged at key points with coughs, eliminating words such as "Republic" from the People's Republic of China and "Special Administrative Region" after the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. Wong could lose his seat if he is ruled to have declined or neglected to take his oath. [...] Tsang received 43 votes for the presidency, beating challenger and Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit with 27. The candidates' vote shares matched exactly the division of seats between the Beijing loyalist and pan-democratic camps. Radical pan-democrat lawmakers tried to delay the voting, demanding that Tsang reveal whether he is a member of the Communist Party. [...] While Tsang's re-election was no surprise, the election of the Liberal Party's Tommy Cheung Yu-yan as chairman of the finance committee was the clincher for the pro-establishment camp's sweep of the key posts. Cheung won 40 votes to 24 for Emily Lau, who will now serve as his deputy. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taipei welcomes Japanese statement on territorial dispute (SCMP)
2012-10-07
Taiwan yesterday welcomed the Japanese foreign minister's statement that "isolated problems" - a thinly veiled reference to the East China Sea territorial disputes - should not damage relations between Tokyo and Taipei. Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba issued a statement through Japan's de facto mission in Taipei on Friday, calling for calm over "pending issues" between the two sides, although he stopped short of mentioning the disputed Diaoyu, or Senkaku, islands by name. In response, Taipei's Ministry of Foreign Affairs lauded the demonstration of goodwill by Tokyo, but stressed that Taiwan would continue to defend its sovereignty over the Diaoyus. [...]. ^ top ^

Frank Hsieh breaks ice with warm mainland visit (SCMP)
2012-10-09
Former Taiwanese premier Frank Hsieh Chang-ting's just-concluded mainland visit was viewed as an icebreaker in establishing better relations between the mainland and the island's main opposition party. But analysts warned about reading too much into its significance. While some believe Hsieh's visit was a positive step towards influencing the Democratic Progressive Party's policy on Beijing, others say it will fuel tensions in the opposition ranks. Hsieh, the most senior politician from the Beijing-wary DPP to visit the mainland, yesterday concluded his five-day visit that included meeting high-level officials such as State Councillor Dai Bingguo, State Council Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi and Chen Yunlin, director of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait. The meetings, though basically still limited to exchanging views without reaching any consensus, showed that Beijing took special interest in Hsieh's visit, hoping it could help open the door to better communication with the pro-independence DPP in the future, analysts said. [...] The visit "showed the mainland considered Hsieh's visit to be rather significant", said Liu Guoshen, of the Taiwan Research Institute under Xiamen University. Liu also said Hsieh's visit had helped pave the way for contact between the mainland and the DPP. "Though the opinions of Hsieh are still different from those of the mainland, there are still some overlapping points," Liu said. He was referring to the "constitutional consensus" that Hsieh proposed to replace the so-called 1992 consensus, which says there is only "one China", with respective interpretations of what that means. […] By "constitutional consensus", Hsieh means a framework that highlights agreements between Taiwan's ruling and opposition parties regarding democracy, human rights and other constitutional issues, even though they may not all agree on every element of its constitution. Taiwan's constitution stipulates there is only one China, though this refers to the Republic of China - the island's official title. Beijing has insisted the recognition of the "one China" principle is the basis for the two sides to hold talks. […] Analysts, however, said that although Hsieh opened the door for future talks, that scenario can play out only if what he said in Beijing was backed by the DPP and became cross-strait policy. [...] DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang and ex-chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen noted Hsieh's visit as a private trip, meaning he was not representing the party. Several other DPP heavyweights questioned Hsieh's proposal, saying the island's constitution had long been revised to exclude the mainland, so there was no "China substance" within the constitution. ^ top ^

Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou seeks to make cross-strait ties easier (SCMP)
2012-10-11
Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou promised to continue his Beijing-friendly policies but made no mention of possible cross-strait political dialogue as the island celebrated the Double Tenth national day yesterday. In an address to hundreds of foreign and local dignitaries, Ma promised to expand interactions with Beijing by pushing for the revision of a law that would allow the two sides to set up representative offices in each other's territory. Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, the island's top planning body for mainland policy, has been given the task of revising the relevant law, the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, to enable such offices to be set up. The revisions will then be sent to the island's legislature for review and approval. Ma said the establishment of representative offices would help serve the needs of businesses, students and the general public on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. "This will be the key focus of our work on cross-strait relations as we move forward," Ma said. He said his government would continue efforts to expand interactions across the Taiwan Strait on the basis of the "1992 consensus", whereby each side acknowledges the existence of "one China", but maintains its own interpretation of what that means. [...] His support of the "1992 consensus" has facilitated talks between the two sides, leading to the signing of 18 bilateral agreements covering non-political co-operation in areas such as trade, travel and transport. [...] Ma also reiterated the island's sovereignty over the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, which are also claimed by Beijing and Tokyo. He also upheld Taiwan's sovereignty over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, claimed wholly or in part by Taiwan, the mainland, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Ma called for peaceful negotiations on the territorial disputes and co-operation by all claimants in exploring for resources in affected waters. The main focus of Ma's address yesterday was on his pledge to greatly improve the island's economy. Taiwan's economic growth is limping along at about 2 per cent a year, far short of the 6 per cent Ma promised when campaigning for his first term. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

"Made in China" sweeps world in past decade (Xinhua)
2012-10-06
Over the past decade, China has extended its dominance in exports of textiles and clothing, shoes, suitcases and other labor-intensive products, while building up new competitive edges in exports of products featuring high technology and added value. Official figures from China's commerce authorities show that the country's foreign trade enjoyed an average annual increase of 21.7 percent from 2002 to 2011. Over the same period, the world average level of foreign trade growth stood at just 10 percent. Data also show that in the first seven months of this year, 38 percent of the U.S. textile imports came from China. More than 71 percent of Japan's and 38 percent of the European Union's textile imports also came from China. [...] A decade of rapid development has made China increasingly important in the global production system. Some made-in-China products such as laptops, copier devices, microwave ovens and tableware took up over half of the global export market's share. The country's merchandise exports increased more than fourfold between 2002 and 2011, reaching 1.9 trillion U.S. dollars last year. And its proportion in global exports has increased from 5 percent to 10.4 percent over the past decade, according to figures from China Customs. Meanwhile, China has been reinforcing its import strength. Statistics show that China's imports have ranked the second in the world since 2009, narrowing the gap with the United State by 77.6 billion U.S. dollars from 2009 to 2011. ^ top ^

Use of RMB as settlement currency on the rise (China Daily)
2012-10-09
Around 12.3 percent of China's trade was settled in renminbi in July and August, up from 10.7 percent in the first half of the year, a research note from Standard Chartered said on Tuesday. The increase was driven by real corporate need rather than arbitrage opportunities, according to the research note. "We see many European and Asian clients shifting away from settlement in US dollars," said Stephen Green, an economist at Standard Chartered. Since the first quarter of 2012, Europe has overtaken Asia Pacific, excluding Hong Kong and China, in terms of the value of settlement in yuan. The United Kingdom leads the rest of Europe. Meanwhile, settlement in yuan across the Taiwan Straits has also grown since late 2011, and the imminent appointment of a settlement bank in Taipei will be a further catalyst, according to the note. ^ top ^

Chocolate makers seek sweet success in China (China Daily)
2012-10-10
As global cocoa prices become more stable, foreign chocolate makers are expanding quickly in China. [...] "We opened our China company last month to better support the company's development in the country," said Thomas P. Meier, managing director of Lindt & Sprungli (China) Ltd, a maker of premium chocolates. He said the Chinese market is very important to the company, even more so than the Japanese market. The company has established more than 3,000 points of sale and duty-free outlets in China, mainly in cities. [...] "Generally, we believe that in China people consume 200 grams of chocolate a year each on average, while in the United Kingdom the corresponding figure is 12 kilograms and, in Japan, it is about 2 kilograms," said Katherine Zhou, regional director of Ipsos, a market research company. "The market is steadily expanding, and Chinese people do trust and prefer European chocolate brands," Zhou said. [...] But fewer and fewer people are expressing satisfaction with sweets that they already know and have tried. "Compared to other chocolate brands, we came to China later, but right at the time when Chinese people began to crave premium chocolate," Meier said. [...] The US brand Mars is now the most successful among them, controlling 40 percent of the country's chocolate market with its Dove brand. Following it were the Swiss brand Nestle, with 11 percent of the market, and the Italian brand Ferrero, with 9 percent, according to Euromonitor data from last year. Behind them were Cadbury and Hershey's. [...]. ^ top ^

Japanese carmakers report Sept sales as 'disastrous' (China Daily)
2012-10-10
Japanese automakers reported a "disastrous" decline in sales in September in the world's largest vehicle market as rising anger over Japan's illegal "purchase" of China's Diaoyu Islands kept consumers away from their showrooms. Toyota Motor Corp said on Tuesday that its September sales in China dropped 48.9 percent year-on-year to 44,100 units, the biggest decline since January 2008. Honda Motor Co also reported that its monthly sales dived 40.5 percent year-on-year to 33,931 units in September, the lowest figure since May 2011. According to Dongfeng Motor Corp, the Chinese partner of Nissan Motor Co, sales of the Japanese brand's made-in-China vehicles decreased 34.6 percent from a year earlier, while Suzuki Motor Corp said its sales in China dropped 42.5 percent year-on-year. On Friday, Mitsubishi Motors Corp announced a sales decline of 63 percent in September, while the month saw Mazda Motor Corp's China sales drop 36 percent. [...] Nissan, Toyota, Suzuki and Mitsubishi had all previously been enjoying sales growth in China, but the next few months are likely to see severe declines which could seriously harm their prospects of meeting their 2012 sales targets. [...] For the first time since 2005, Japanese automakers have lost their leadership in China's automobile market. German luxury vehicle brand BMW AG reported 55 percent year-on-year sales growth in September, with sales of its lifestyle brand Mini surging by 121 percent. Also from Germany, Audi AG's sales in China increased 20.5 percent year-on-year in September while Mercedes-Benz sold 10.6 percent more vehicles than last year in the country. [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese Vice Premier urges talks to tackle EU trade disputes (Xinhua)
2012-10-11
China and the European Union (EU) should resolve their trade disputes through talks and cooperation, according to Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang. During his meeting on Thursday with the visiting German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Li said, "I hope Germany will actively work to facilitate the EU to handle its trade disputes with China through consultation and cooperation." Li told Westerwelle: "Trade protectionism is sure to fail in the end with no way out." [...] Li stressed that the development of China's solar product industry helps address global climate change and maintains international sustainable development. He added that his country's exports of solar products to the EU help promote the region's green growth and benefit both sides. China is a very important trade partner both with Germany and the EU, Li noted, calling on the two sides to work against trade protectionism. Li also reiterated China's support for the EU to combat the sovereign debt crisis, expressing the hope that the recently-launched European Stability Mechanism (ESM), largely funded by Germany, would play a bigger role of facilitation and coordination. Westerwelle, visiting China from Thursday to Saturday at the invitation of Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, expressed Germany's commitment to working with China at a higher level. He thanked China for supporting the EU on the sovereign debt issue, and voiced Germany's stern opposition to trade protectionism. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

DPRK says U.S. mainland within its target range (Xinhua)
2012-10-09
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea(DPRK) said Tuesday that the U.S. mainland is within the target range of its strategic rocket forces, the official KCNA news agency reported. A spokesman for the National Defense Commission of the DPRK announced that the country is equipped with strategic rocket forces now able to place the U.S. mainland territory, South Korea, Japan and Guam within its target range. "We are well prepared to fight with nuclear (weapons) against any nuclear (attacks) by the U.S. and its followers," said the spokesman, vowing to launch all-out efforts to match the United States and South Korea. "Nuclear for nuclear, missile for missile," he said. [...] The announcement came after the South Korean presidential office said Sunday that under a revised pact with the United States, Seoul planned to develop ballistic missiles with a tripled range of 800 kilometers, which could cover the entire peninsula, as part of its efforts to better respond to perceived missile threats from the DPRK. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Parliament discusses monetary policy (Ub Post)
2012-10-05
Parliament discussed the proposed revisions to the 2013 general budget during a session yesterday. N.Zoljargal, the president of Mongol bank, introduced the proposed revisions. Mongol bank prioritizes to maintain economic growth, reduce the loan interest rate and keep the inflation rate no more than 8 percent in 2013. N.Zoljargal said that Mongol bank will take measures to improve the macro economy, and stimulate the real economy in the coming years. And Mongol bank will also stabilize the currency rate and keep it flexible by upgrading its competitiveness. In past years, Mongol bank failed to keep the inflation rate lower than eight percent. Newly appointed President of Mongol Bank, N.Zoljargal said that the bank can potentially fulfill its promise with Government. MP S.Odontuya recalled that the banks risk managements have been false during the session. However B.Javkhlan, the Vice President of Mongol Bank, said that the bank's risk managements is good-enough and has been reviewed every month. Afterwards, the monetary policy was sent to the Standing Committee to be brought in to the first discussion. ^ top ^

Experts gather in Mongolia to discuss big cities' problems (Xinhua)
2012-10-11
Experts and policy makers shared research and experience on pressing issues facing big cities in Asia at a forum held here Wednesday. More than 70 experts and scholars from 16 Asian countries attended the 11th International Symposium on New Technologies for Urban Safety of Mega Cities in Asia. Ulan Bator Mayor E. Bat-Uul told the forum nearly half the Mongolian population now lived in the nation's capital. The excessive concentration of population had led to problems with power, heat and water supply and garbage treatment, and serious traffic congestion, he said. Meanwhile, about 60 percent of Mongolian citizens were living in Mongolian Ger and shanty towns and were constantly at risk from floods, earthquakes, extreme cold weather and infectious diseases caused by air, water and land pollution, he said. The forum discussed topics including city planning and construction and disaster prevention. [...]. ^ top ^

Mongolia's president visiting in Sweeden (News.mn)
2012-10-11
Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj visits Stockholm for talks with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt. The visit focuses on democracy and rights issues, economy and trade issues, and also sustainable urban development. President Elbegdorj is travelling with his wife and a delegation that also includes Minister for Foreign Affairs Luvsanvandan Bold. In addition to talks with Mr Reinfeldt and Mr Bildt, President Elbegdorj visited the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), the Supreme Court, Global Water Partnership and Hammarby Sjöstad. President Elbegdorj was accompanied by a large business delegation and took part in the opening of a Swedish-Mongolian business forum together with Minister for Trade Ewa Björling. The programme also included an audience with the King and Queen, and a dinner with the Speaker of the Riksdag. ^ top ^

Ts. Elbegdorj meets Mongolians in Sweden (Montsame)
2012-10-11
In Sweden with the official visit, the State Head Ts.Elbegdorj has held a meeting with the residing there Mongolians. Mr Elbegdorj told the Mongolians about purposes of his visits to Norway and Sweden, present political and socio-economic situation in Mongolia. He also heard opinions and views from the Mongolians on tackling urgent problems, such as traffic jam, and on improving the education and health services. The President expressed satisfaction with those abroad-living Mongolians who think that they must take part in a development of Mongolia, and wished them to bring to the motherland new ideas and the best technologies. Present at the meeting were L.Bold, the Minister of Foreign Affairs; Ts.Davaasuren MP; B.Enkhmandakh, the Ambassador of Mongolia to Sweden; L.Purevsuren and Ch.Sosormaa, advisors to the President. ^ top ^

OyuTolgoi watch needs to be improved (News.mn)
2012-10-11
Twenty MPs submitted a petition to the Prime Minister to change the OyuTolgoi Investment Agreement. Afterwards, OyuTolgoi's operation activity was presented to the Standing Committee on Economy by Ya. Dolgorjav, the executive director of Erdenes MGL LLC, and N.Batbaatar, the director of Erdenes OyuTolgoi LLC. After the presentation, MP S.Ganbaatar questioned the representatives about the latest advertisement 71/29 o finvestment agreement of OyuTolgoi. Ya.Dolgorjav said that “shareholders are managing the development the OyuTolgoi massive gold and copper project in partnership with foreign investors and only time will show if the project will be successful. People say the OyuTolgoi agreement went wrong but we actually made four contracts on OyuTolgoi and we did publicly announce this and show it. Erdenes OyuTolgoi LLC is 100 percent responsible for the project management.” Despite this, many MPs agreed that OyuTolgoi Watch should be stronger. ^ top ^

Power link delays Rio project (Ub Post)
2012-10-11
RIO TINTO insists ancient Mongolian-Chinese rivalry is not contributing to delays on a crucial power link for its most important growth project. Negotiations to supply Chinese electricity across the Mongolian border to help run Rio"s massive Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine have been under way for more than a year, and are still incomplete despite first production from the project expected in coming weeks. The power link is needed if Rio is to achieve commercial production from the project in the first half of next year, and fears of a international stoush have grown as the impasse has continued. But Rio's head of copper, Andrew Harding, said the impasse was entirely commercial. "I can guarantee there is nothing of a geopolitical nature that is actually infiltrating itself into the negotiations it is absolutely about the commercial terms in the contract," he said. Rio is currently dominated by its iron ore business, which supplies about 80 per cent of the company's revenue. Despite the sector taking a beating in recent months on the back of a stunning price slump, its chief executive, Tom Albanese, said he had no concerns about the bias. "I'm regularly asked if we are truly a diversified company with such a heavy weighting in iron ore … we are realistic about the weighting but at the same time I will never be apologetic about our iron ore business, nor do I intend to subsidise non-iron ore investments to force a balance," he said. Mr Albanese said iron ore"s quick rebound to test $US118 a tonne yesterday was a sign the market was working well. In a swipe at BHP Billiton and Fortescue, Mr Albanese said recent decisions to defer "marginal projects" would benefit Rio"s position in the market. ^ top ^

 

Fabian Eng
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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