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
  13-19.10.12, No. 445  
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DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China's first aircraft carrier begins flight training exercises (SCMP)
2012-10-15
China has begun flight training on its first aircraft carrier, with photographs posted on websites Monday showing navy pilots practicing touch-and-go landing exercises. Military enthusiast websites posted pictures of a J-15 fighter-bomber executing the manoeuvre, in which the plane makes brief contact with the flight deck before flying on. It wasn't clear when the pictures were taken, and they did not appear on the Defense Ministry's website or in official media. The exercises are the latest move to provide a combat capability for the carrier, which was launched last month without aircraft or an accompanying battle group. The next step would be the launching and recovery of aircraft, a much trickier process that may be years away. Chinese-produced Z-8 helicopters have also been practicing take-offs and landings on the carrier. Both aircraft are based on Russian and French designs. Chinese pilots are believed to have been practicing carrier operations on mock flight decks located inland. [...]. ^ top ^

Rocket launch set to complete regional 'GPS for China' (SCMP)
2012-10-16
China is likely to launch its 16th Beidou satellite later this month, completing a crucial stage in the construction of its home-made satellite navigation system. The Beijing News, quoting an anonymous source, said yesterday that the satellite would enable the system to extend its signal coverage over the Asia-Pacific region from Afghanistan to the Western Pacific, and from Mongolia to Australia. An official from the Beidou Navigation Satellite System Management Office in Beijing said yesterday that the launch schedule was subject to change. "It is in our plan but many factors, such as weather, can cause postponement," he said. "In a sensitive period, before the party congress [next month], we are not allowed to disclose the launch date until we receive the instructions from higher authorities." [...] The first stage, an experimental network consisting of three satellites covering China, was completed in May 2003, six months after Hu Jintao became Communist Party general secretary. It was begun under his predecessor, Jiang Zemin. Hu is expected to hand the position on to Vice-President Xi Jinping next month. It has been widely speculated by people in China's space industry that the second stage of the system, covering the Asia-Pacific region, would be finished during Hu's term, becoming one of his political monuments. Construction of the third stage, with global coverage, is scheduled to be finished by 2020, within Xi's term in office. [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese military delegation attends Tokyo talks (SCMP)
2012-10-16
China has sent its first military delegation to Japan since the Diaoyus dispute boiled over last month, suggesting signs that the recent strains on relations may be easing. Several naval officers from the People's Liberation Army attended a regional co-operation meeting hosted by the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force in Tokyo yesterday, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK and ribenxinwen.com a Japan-based Chinese news portal. The gathering followed news over weekend that Beijing and Tokyo were preparing for subministerial diplomatic talk aimed at easing tensions that escalated after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda moved to buy some of the East China Sea islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan. At the 10-day military meeting at MSDF Staff College, 20 young officers from 19 nations, including China, Australia, Canada, South Korea and the United States, were expected to discuss joint rescue operations and maritime safety collaboration, NHK reported. [...] Antony Wong, president of the Macau-based International Military Association, said the exchange "has proved that there is no military confrontation between the two neighbouring countries, though the atmosphere has long been tense at the civilian level". [...] Meanwhile, Xinhua issued a signed commentary yesterday saying the prospect of new talks between Beijing and Tokyo "brings hope to the current quagmire dragging the two countries down in the disheartening global economic outlook". ^ top ^

China leads rise in Asia military spending (SCMP)
2012-10-16
Defence spending in China and four other Asian countries doubled over 10 years and will surpass Europe's military expenditures this year, said the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank, on Monday. Asia's arms race still leaves it trailing US defence spending, but it will ensure the United States likely will stick to its plan to shift the country's strategic focus towards the Asia-Pacific region, it said. Defence spending in mainland China, India, South Korea and Taiwan reached a total of US$224 billion last year, which “equates to almost twice the amount spent by these five countries in 2000”, said the CSIS study. [...] Among all countries, China now ranks second behind the United States in total military spending, though the Pentagon budget still dwarfs Beijing's defence spending at more than US$600 billion year. [...] China's total defence budget grew from US$22.5 billion to US$89.9 billion between 2000 and last year, said the report, citing official figures from the Beijing government. But the study acknowledged that independent estimates put Chinese spending at a much higher level, with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimating Beijing's last year defence budget at US$142.2 billion. [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese warships cross waters near Japan's Okinawa islands (SCMP)
2012-10-17
Chinese naval flotilla passed through waters near islands in Okinawa, Japan, yesterday, further stoking tensions between Beijing and Tokyo already inflamed over a territorial dispute in the East China Sea. The seven warships from the People's Liberation Army Navy's North Sea Fleet included destroyers, frigates, a refuelling vessel and submarine rescue vessels were spotted 49 kilometres from Yonaguni Island in Okinawa prefecture, Japan's defence ministry said, adding that it believed they were returning from an exercise in the Pacific earlier this month. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Tokyo had demanded that Beijing take care of Sino-Japanese ties. But China's Ministry of National Defence said the ships had been on a routine training exercise and were passing through the area in an "appropriate and legal" manner. "Japan has deployed military aircraft to areas around the Diaoyu Islands, and this seriously violates China's territorial rights," the defence ministry said. "We are closely following the moves by Japan, and call on Japan to stop any moves that will complicate and exaggerate the situation." Chinese vessels must pass near the islands of the Okinawa chain to move between the Pacific and the East China Sea. But there are gaps between the islands that allow vessels to avoid Japan's contiguous zones, an area that extends another 12 nautical miles beyond its 12 nautical miles of territorial waters. Japan's defence ministry spokesman said the Chinese vessels had "passed through a wider space between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island on their way out" on October 4. "They passed through the narrow strait on the way back, and this is the first time we have confirmed that they passed through the gap," he said. The Chinese vessels were about 200 kilometres from the disputed Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan. [...] There have also been reports suggesting that Japan and the US are considering a joint military drill to simulate the retaking of a remote island next month. [...] Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda called last week for bilateral talks to contain the economic damage resulting from the diplomatic row, and both countries agreed to hold vice-ministerial-level talks to resolve the dispute. [...]. ^ top ^

China's maps to be closely monitored for more accuracy (Xinhua)
2012-10-17
China's mapping authority will apply strict measures to prevent the distribution of maps that contradict the country's territorial stance. Maps have been found that contain a number of mistakes relating to Chinese territory, including marking the wrong borders, or identifying sensitive or classified geographical information. The map information should be regulated in accordance with the law, a notice issued by the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geo-information has stated. The publication of maps will be more strictly overseen by the mapping authorities, and publishing houses will be required to have the relevant qualifications before they publish maps, said the notice, which was posted on the website of the administration on Friday. Online maps that incorrectly show China's territory will be banned and websites uploading incorrect maps will be shut down. Maps brought into the country from overseas will be strictly monitored to prevent territorial misinformation and the distribution of classified information, said the notice. Customs will confiscate any products with incorrect maps, and any devices or books that contain maps, such as GPS systems, road maps, atlases and travel guides, will be strictly checked before they are imported or exported, according to the notice. [...] In May 2011, customs at Shanghai Pudong International Airport stopped the export of a batch of uncensored 14-inch world globes. The maps on the globes did not mark the islands in the South China Sea, the Diaoyu Islands, and the Chiwei Islet as Chinese territories, the administration said in a statement. [...] In a separate case, the Chinese edition of National Geographic magazine published maps that did not mark the islands in the South China Sea, the Diaoyu Islands, and the Chiwei Islet as Chinese territory. [...] Li Qinggong, deputy secretary-general with the national security policy commission of the China Association of Policy and Science, said mapping geographical information should be strictly regulated because it is a kind of State practice as opposed to an individual activity. "Problematic maps with wrong information about borders could trigger diplomatic disputes, or even diplomatic protests," he said. "It would cause grave effects if some of the territories were missed in the maps." [...]. ^ top ^

Japan's Abe stirs anger with war shrine visit (SCMP)
2012-10-18
Shinzo Abe, president of Japan's opposition Liberal Democratic Party and a front runner to be the next prime minister, made a visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo yesterday, adding to the strains in Sino-Japanese relations. Abe, a former prime minister, said he went to Yasukuni in an official capacity. "As the autumn festival has started, I visited as the president of the Liberal Democratic Party so as to express my respect to the heroic spirits who sacrificed their lives for the country," he said. Abe's shrine visit triggered fresh outrage on the mainland, already the scene of protests following the Japanese government's purchase of three of the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea early last month. In Japan, the islands are known as the Senkakus. A strongly worded commentary by the official Xinhuanet.com yesterday attacked Abe, saying his high-profile "ghost-worshipping" visit was a challenge to the conscience and common sense of human beings and an attempt to shatter the post-war international order. The visit also triggered an outpouring of angry internet postings on the mainland. [...] When asked to comment on the visit, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei called on the Japanese side to stick to the spirit of "learning from history and facing up to the future". Meanwhile, after meeting Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Executive Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun in Beijing yesterday, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns reiterated that the US wanted all sides involved in the East China Sea issue to use diplomacy to manage disagreements without coercion or the use of force. He said the United States "does not take a position on the competing sovereignty claims of the parties". [...]. ^ top ^

Flags lowered to mourn former Cambodian king (Global Times)
2012-10-18
Chinese national flags flew at half-mast Wednesday to pay respect to Cambodia's former King Norodom Sihanouk, whose body was being brought home from Beijing. Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, Sihanouk's widow Queen Monique and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen were on a special Air China flight that was returning the former King home. Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo also escorted the coffin to Phnom Penh. State leaders, led by President Hu Jintao, participated in a farewell ceremony at Beijing Hospital on Wednesday, before Sihanouk's departure. China's national flags were at half-mast along the route to the airport. The front gate of the central government, the foreign ministry and Tian'anmen Square also saw flags fly at half-mast, China Central Television reported. It was the first time that Chinese flags had been lowered to half-mast to mourn a late foreign leader in 18 years. China lowered its flags for foreign leaders including Joseph Stalin, Charles de Gaulle and Ho Chi Minh prior to the 1970s. The last time it had lowered its flags was in 1994, when North Korean leader Kim Il-sung died. On Sina Weibo, a post questioning the lowering of the flags has been reposted by Web users nearly 16,000 times, and followed with more than 3,000 comments. The post argued that the government didn't lower its flags to mourn the victims of a Beijing rainstorm which killed 79 this year, nor for those who died in the train collision in Wenzhou last year. It said that the government instead did that for an exiled foreign leader, and that this action alienated the Chinese public. [...] According to the current law, flags should be lowered to half-mast for those who made great contributions to the country, world peace and the cause of human progress. It also stipulates that the flags could fly at half-mast for accidents or natural disasters that caused heavy casualties. In recent years, flags were lowered to half-mast to mourn victims of the Yushu earthquake and the Zhouqu landslide in 2010. ^ top ^

US envoy allowed by Beijing to visit restive region (SCMP)
2012-10-18
America's ambassador to China, Gary Locke, has visited a restive region in Sichuan where ethnic Tibetans have set fire to themselves to protest against rule by Beijing, the US State Department has confirmed. Locke visited Aba county last month while on a tour of Chongqing and Sichuan aimed at boosting Sino-US trade and met some residents, including ethnic Tibetans, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington. Aba, home to the Kirti Monastery, has seen many self-immolations by monks and other Tibetans, with activists reporting 55 such cases since February 2009. Beijing does not usually allow foreign dignitaries to visit Tibetan settlements, but Locke went to villages and monasteries to learn more about the lives of Tibetan people and to have the chance to talk to them. The visit is being seen as a sign that Beijing wants to show it is being more open in dealing with ethnic issues. A photo posted on Twitter showed Locke shaking hands with a Tibetan monk. Nuland did not say how long Locke spent in the county and did not reveal his views about the trip, reiterating only that the US had grave concerns about self-immolations among Tibetans. "We have consistently urged dialogue between the Chinese government and the Tibetan people with regard to those grievances," she said. [...] Analysts said they believed Locke's trip to Aba was made with Beijing's tacit approval, or at least the approval of the foreign ministry, and signified that Beijing wanted to adopt a more flexible approach in dealing with Tibetans. Beijing may not drastically change its Tibetan policies, but could use the trip as a propaganda tool to subtly deny criticism of them. "It may be that the Chinese government has the idea that things there are relatively calm at present," said Professor Barry Sautman, a social scientist at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, who studies Tibetan issues. "If Locke went there, he would see that things are calm and would say something about his trip that was not entirely negative. "Perhaps the Chinese government is just thinking that perhaps Locke would come away with some conclusions that are different from Tibetan exile groups'." Zhao Gancheng, the director of South Asia studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said: "The Chinese government wants to narrow suspicions towards Beijing, especially in the US.". ^ top ^

China to conduct exercise in East China Sea (Xinhua)
2012-10-18
The Chinese navy will conduct a joint exercise in the East China Sea with the country's fishery administration and marine surveillance agency on Friday, navy sources announced on Thursday. A total of 11 vessels from the Donghai Fleet of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, the fishery administration and marine surveillance agency will take part in the exercise along with eight aircraft, according to a statement from the fleet. The exercise is aimed at improving coordination between the navy and administrative patrol vessels and sharpening their response to emergencies in missions to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime interests, the statement said. When carrying out missions in disputed waters, patrol vessels of the fishery administration and marine surveillance agency have been stalked, harassed and even intentionally interfered with by foreign vessels, greatly challenging their duties, it added. During the exercise, administrative vessels will practice patrol voyages with the backup of the navy vessels, and contingency plans will be tested. [...]. ^ top ^

China, Cambodia agree to further advance ties (Xinhua)
2012-10-18
China and Cambodia agreed on Thursday to further advance their comprehensive relations of strategic cooperation and partnership in accordance with the will of late Cambodian King-Father Norodom Sihanouk. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told visiting Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo on Thursday morning that Cambodia "will firmly adhere to a friendly policy toward China and push the comprehensive relations of strategic cooperation and partnership between the two countries up to a new high along with China." Dai arrived here on Wednesday afternoon for escorting the coffin of Sihanouk back home. Hun thanked China's meticulous arrangements for Sihanouk. "China's care for King-Father Sihanouk during the past years has erected a monument of Cambodia-China friendship in the hearts of the Cambodian people," he said. He also told Dai that Cambodia attaches importance to cooperation with China on regional and multilateral affairs. Cambodia will host a series of meetings of East Asian leaders next month. "Cambodia is willing to work closely with China for the success of the meetings," he said. Dai again expressed condolences and sympathy over the death of King-Father Sihanouk, commending the late king as "a great friend of the Chinese people."h He said the Chinese people will firmly stand side by side with the Cambodian people and believes that the Cambodian people can build up a better country by inheriting King-Father Sihanouk's will. [...] Dai also met with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong and exchanged views with him on bilateral ties and regional issues of mutual interests. ^ top ^

Chinese minister to start talks with Philippines over Scarborough Shoal (SCMP)
2012-10-19
Vice-Foreign Minister Fu Ying will arrive in Manila today for talks on the territorial dispute over Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, amid rising tension between Beijing and Tokyo over another dispute in the East China Sea. The high-level dialogue between Beijing and Manila over the shoal - known in China as Huangyan Island - comes after Beijing expressed its intention to ease tensions. Philippine President Benigno Aquino said he had high hopes China's new leaders, who would take over next month, would improve bilateral ties. Analysts said Fu's visit and Aquino's positive remark suggested some progress had been made in cooling down tensions. "There must have been some consensus and progress reached between the lower-level diplomats before such high-level talks were arranged," said Professor Zhang Mingliang, an expert on South China Sea affairs at Jinan University. Professor Fan Hongwei, an expert on Southeast Asian affairs at Xiamen University, said the talks, coming amid rising tension between Beijing and Tokyo over the Diaoyu Islands - known as the Senkakus in Japan - "suggested that both China and the Philippines want to avoid a similar stand-off". [...] Fu, a former Chinese ambassador to Manila, will arrive in the Philippine capital today for the 18th Foreign Ministry Consultations, the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs said. [...]. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese leader, Pakistani president vow to boost ties (Xinhua)
2012-10-19
Visiting Chinese leader Li Changchun held talks here on Wednesday with the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, calling on the two sides to further implement the important consensus reached between the heads of the two states with the aim of stepping up bilateral relations to a higher level. "The purpose of my visit is to enhance the strategic mutual trust and promote the bilateral cooperation with mutual benefit," Li told Zardari. Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), noted that the bilateral cooperation on trade was a very important component for China-Pakistan strategic cooperation, promising that China would encourage its companies to establish business and increase investment in Pakistan and continue to provide the assistance to help Pakistan's social and economic development. "I hope the two sides would work together to expand their exchange and cooperation in fields such as culture, education and media, intensify the interaction among the youth, women and local governments between the two nations and better coordinate on international issues to safeguard the common interests," Li said. [...] As for the party-to-party relations, Li stressed the ties between the Chinese and Pakistani political parties have formed an important part of the bilateral relations and CPC welcomes leaders and young politicians of the Pakistan People Party (PPP) to visit China. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Hunan milk firm shuts plant over contamination concerns (SCMP)
2012-10-13
The Hunan-based dairy company forced to recall 31 tonnes of infant milk powder in July because of contamination concerns has closed the plant that produced the product. Ava Dairy insisted that cost - not safety - concerns were behind its decision to shut the facility in the Chengbu Miao autonomous county, which is believed to have been the source of the potentially cancer-causing aflatoxin found in five batches of the company's Nanshan Bywise baby formula. The company said in a statement posted on its website on Thursday that the plant used a "wet-processing" technology that made it harder to prevent such contamination. Ava Dairy's milk powders will now be produced by the company's one-year-old Changsha factory, which uses "dry processing". "Compared with wet processing, in the dry processing it's easier to control the products' quality," the company said. "What's more, with this method we will have more convenience in processing milk powder with raw milk purchased from both home and abroad." Alfatoxins, which can cause liver cancer and disease, are naturally occurring chemicals produced by fungus and often found on spoiled food. The company said the contamination resulted from mouldy food fed to its production cows. The Administration of Industry and Commerce of Guangzhou discovered the contamination during a regular safety inspection in July. Hunan authorities and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine ordered the company to recall the product and suspend production at the plant. [...]. ^ top ^

Blind activist Chen Guangcheng says nephew unlikely to get fair trial (SCMP)
2012-10-14
Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng said yesterday that Chinese police had sent the case of his nephew, charged with intentional infliction of injury, to the state prosecutor, paving the way for what he expects will be an unfair trial. The case of Chen Guangcheng's nephew, Chen Kegui, has renewed international focus on China's human rights and legal system. Chen Kegui was initially charged with "intentional homicide" for using knives to fend off officials who had burst into his home on April 27 after they discovered that his uncle, who was under house arrest, had escaped. Chen Guangcheng said he believed the police downgraded the charge because they had no evidence to build a case of "intentional homicide" against his nephew. [...] Chen Guangcheng said the central government had failed to live up to its promise in May to investigate officials in Shandong whom he accused of engineering "years of illegal persecution" against him and his family. "It's been five months, I haven't heard any news about the investigation against Shandong," he said. "Instead I hear that Chen Kegui's case has been sent to the prosecutor. This piece of news in itself is problematic. So how can I not feel that my confidence has been lowered?" [...] Chen Kegui's family-appointed lawyer, Ding Xikui, said he would travel to Yinan this week to meet his client. He added that he could not say for certain the maximum sentence that Chen Kegui faces as he had yet to see his client or review the case. ^ top ^

China writers praise Mo Yan for dissident release call (SCMP)
2012-10-14
An independent Chinese writer's group has welcomed calls by Nobel prizewinner Mo Yan for the early release of jailed fellow laureate Liu Xiaobo, but questioned his stance on freedom of speech. Some dissidents accused Mo Yan of being a communist stooge after he won the literature award on Thursday. But overseas supporters of Liu have welcomed comments by the 57-year-old writer, that he hoped the jailed dissident and 2010 peace prize laureate would be freed as soon as possible. The Independent Chinese PEN Centre – run by exiles and domestic writers outside state control – made a statement on its website on Saturday backing Mo Yan's support for Liu, who is the honourary president of the organisation. “Our organisation thanks Mo Yan for calling for Liu Xiaobo's freedom,” the statement said. It also urged Mo Yan to join the organisation in “focusing on freedom of speech and writing in China, especially with regards to other writers like Liu Xiaobo who have been jailed, and help them to recover their freedom as soon as possible”. [...] The Independent Chinese PEN Centre “noted with regret” that Mo Yan had been “neglecting for a long time the PEN Centre's purpose of safeguarding the freedom of speech for writers”. It added: “There's a big contradiction between the realist tendencies of his works and the political personality of an official writer, and this has caused wide controversy after his winning of the Nobel Prize.”. ^ top ^

Series of hoax bomb threats disrupts China flights (SCMP)
2012-10-15
Mainland air travellers are dealing with disruptions caused by an increase in hoax bomb threats. On Tuesday, Air China received fake bomb threats about two flights to Beijing - one from Lhasa, Tibet, and the other from Nanchang, Jiangxi - that were phoned in by a mentally ill man just before they were about to take off, causing hours of delay to hundreds of passengers, state media reported. They were the fourth and fifth hoax bomb threats targeting mainland airlines in less than two months. [...] China Southern Airlines spokesman Su Congyue said bomb hoaxes had a negative impact on normal operations. "It's definitely a headache," he said. Chinese airlines have long been criticised by passengers for frequent delays due to bad weather and poor management. An industry expert, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said a sudden increase in bomb hoaxes could create a bottleneck that could force nationwide air traffic to a standstill. Su said the government's emergency response capabilities could be exhausted by frequent bomb threats. [...] Hundreds, if not thousands, of government agents were mobilised each time a hoax triggered an alert, dealing with such things as bomb tracking and disposal, intelligence and counter-terrorism operations. [...] However, those who make hoax bomb threats receive relatively mild punishment on the mainland. Most are jailed for less than two years and are not fined, while the same crime in the United States could result in up to 10 years in jail and a maximum fine of US$250,000. [...]. ^ top ^

Millions seek government jobs (Global Times)
2012-10-15
Registration for the annual central government employee exam, which begins Monday, is expected to attract some 2 million applicants who will vie for up to 20,839 jobs, the most in recent years. The exam, which is set for November 25, is the only way to be hired for a job with the central government and its agencies. This year the job descriptions for available grassroots positions provide much more detail clarifying the rigorous nature of the work that successful candidates are expected to endure. "Revealing the hard condition will debunk the traditional notion that government employees have higher social status, a stable home life and fixed working hours," Chu Zhaohui, professor at the National Institute of Education Sciences, told the Global Times. [...] According to a survey of college graduates, 60 percent of 2011 grads who work in government said they feel happy, the highest among all types of jobs, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Chu also noted that the clearer job descriptions may scare away many candidates. However, Yuan Dong, head of the Beijing School of the Huatu Education Group, a Chinese education company specializing in the national civil service exam, disagreed. "Hard conditions are not the most important factor affecting a candidate's choice. Term limits on jobs matter more," Yuan said. [...]. ^ top ^

Survey: Many bosses don't pay holiday overtime (China Daily)
2012-10-15
Many employees who worked over the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday failed to receive their overtime pay, an online survey has found. The survey, conducted by micro-blogging platform Sina Weibo, polled 9,224 netizens, and found 73 percent of respondents claimed they worked from Sept 30 to Oct 7 but did not receive overtime pay. [...] Chinese law stipulates that workers should receive overtime pay, or three times their regular pay, if they work each day of the State-mandated holiday. Workers can receive twice their regular daily pay if they work over the weekend. [...] Chinese law allows workers to report labor rights infringements, such as wage delay or not getting overtime pay, to labor authorities. But to report such incidents to labor authorities, workers must give their real names. Experts said this discourages people from reporting their employers as they are afraid of losing their jobs. [...]. ^ top ^

NPC panel prepares to remove Bo Xilai from post, setting up trial (SCMP)
2012-10-16
The National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee is expected to strip disgraced politician Bo Xilai of his NPC membership next week, paving the way for the former high-flier's trial. Xinhua reported yesterday that the NPC Standing Committee would meet from October 23 to 26 and members would review "the membership status of certain delegates". [...] A decision to kick Bo, a former member of the Communist Party Politburo, out of the NPC would be put to a vote at the end of a four-day session, analysts said. They added that stripping the former Chongqing party secretary of his NPC membership was constitutionally required to pave the way for criminal proceedings against him. That's despite rumours that his trial was already under way, with some reports saying it began just yesterday. "It is the final move to wrap up the administrative procedures that enable criminal charges against him, because under the Chinese constitution NPC deputies are immune from criminal prosecution," said Gu Su, a constitutional law expert at Nanjing University. [...] Meanwhile, Bo Guagua, the son of Bo and his wife, Gu Kailai, denied reports that he was back in China. "Just as most of the news reported on my family today, the news that I arrived back in China is completely without basis," Bo Guagua, who graduated from Harvard University in May with a master's degree in public policy, told The New York Times yesterday. [...]. ^ top ^

Corrupt boss of mainland precious metals firm sentenced to death (SCMP)
2012-10-17
The former head of a precious metals refinery - held out by party leaders as an example of the corruption crisis in state-owned enterprises - has been sentenced to death for stealing more than 85 million yuan (HK$105 million). Song Wendai, the disgraced chairman and general manager of the Qiankun gold and silver refinery in Inner Mongolia, was convicted by Bayannur Intermediate Court on Monday for misappropriating some 65 million yuan in company property, including hundreds of kilograms of gold and silver, Xinhua reported. He was also found to have embezzled more than 21 million yuan in company funds. The court seized all of his personal property, including 2.7 million yuan in cash, 134kg of gold, 995kg of silver, four flats and four cars. Song told the court that he would appeal against the verdict. The harsh sentence came as little surprise as Song's case was cited in a June article by Communist Party anti-graft chief He Guoqiang in the party journal Qiushi, or "Seeking Truth", to illustrate the urgent need for a crackdown on corruption. Mainland media had earlier reported that the stolen gold was recovered from the boot of an abandoned car at an underground car park in Beijing. [...]. ^ top ^

Foxconn flouts labour law with under-16 interns in Shandong (SCMP)
2012-10-17
Foxconn Technology has admitted that interns as young as 14 have been found working at a subsidiary in Yantai, Shandong province. "Our investigation has shown that the interns in question, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, had worked in that campus for approximately three weeks," Foxconn said yesterday. "This is not only a violation of China's labour law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions." The company's admission confirmed international labour advocacy group China Labor Watch's reports that under-age interns had been forced to work at Foxconn's Yantai subsidiary. The group placed most of the blame on the schools involved. But a publicity official at Yantai Engineering & Technology College, one of the vocational colleges implicated, said yesterday that it had sent more than 2,000 students to a Foxconn factory for a one-month internship programme earlier this month in response to an appeal from the city government. She admitted that some of the interns were under the age of 16, but said that was because there was no official age restriction for "social practice activities". She added that the college had taken up labour issues with Foxconn after students complained about long working hours and frequent overtime. A news report on the college's official website on September 19 said interns from the college had been working at the Foxconn factory since 2010 as part of a government initiative to help ease a labour shortage. "We know that internships are critically important for vocational schools like us, however, we didn't approach Foxconn for such an internship arrangement, but simply followed an order from the government," the official said. [...] The Beijing Times reported yesterday that Yantai's education authorities had sent a division head to sort out the internship programme at Foxconn. An official from Yantai's education bureau said yesterday that it had taken notice of media reports and was looking into the alleged violations. [...]. ^ top ^

Mourners gather on birthday of late Zhao Ziyang to salute spirit of reform (SCMP)
2012-10-18
Dozens of mourners gathered in a small alleyway just off Beijing's premier shopping street, Wangfujing, yesterday to pay tribute to late Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang on the 93rd anniversary of his birth. Mostly retired officials and teachers, they arrived at No 6 Fuqiang Hutong, Zhao's former residence, yesterday afternoon to pay respects to the renowned reformer, who became party head at its 13th national congress in 1987 but was ousted in 1989 for sympathising with student democracy advocates who occupied Tiananmen Square. "I wish the party's new generation of leaders could carry Mr Zhao's spirit of reform," said one retired official who declined to be named, adding that political reform was urgently needed because the corruption of party members was undermining social stability. Wang Fanghui, a private business owner, said it was the first time he had paid tribute at Zhao's house. "I don't know much about him, as we can only receive government censored information, but I feel fortunate enough to have my own business and I want to show my admiration to this reformer. I hope the country has the rule of law and democracy under its new leaders." Mourners appeared with flowers, pictures of Zhao and a large red banner reading: "Cherish the memory of the 13th; look forward to the 18th." The party said last month that its 18th national congress would begin on November 8 in the Great Hall of the People, not far from the house where Zhao was kept in near-isolation for 16 years until his death seven years ago. "The party can rule the country, but it does not inspire mass support any more," said Cheng Qingyu, the chief engineer of the China Millennium Monument, a memorial building in Beijing. "The new generation of leaders will have to be very different to rebuild the public's faith in the party. "To be honest, I don't see that happening. The communist regime is a dictatorship." Zhao Wujun, Zhao's youngest son, said the authorities had not given them any warnings or tried to stop them from receiving mourners. No armed police or undercover security guards were seen patrolling in front of the house yesterday, although their presence has been normal on sensitive occasions in the past. [...]. ^ top ^

China plans to spend 80 billion yuan on nuclear power plant security (SCMP)
2012-10-18
Beijing moved a step closer to ending its ban on new nuclear projects when it unveiled a plan to spend nearly 80 billion yuan (HK$99 billion) by 2015 to upgrade security standards at nuclear facilities. A five-year nuclear safety plan, approved by the State Council in late May and released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection on Tuesday, has prompted another round of speculation that Beijing may resume its ambitious nuclear expansion plans soon. But experts have cautioned against such optimism, saying the suspension of new nuclear project approvals, imposed in the wake of Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, is unlikely to be lifted until the completion of a once-a-decade leadership transition next month. [...] The safety plan, which lays out a road map for China's nuclear safety to reach international standards by 2020, says that between 2011 and 2015, 79.8 billion yuan would be earmarked for upgrading security measures and promoting technological innovation to improve nuclear safety. It evaluated the safety of China's nuclear-power industry and recommended phasing out older reactors sooner, sharing and improving access to information, enhancing research and development of safety and improving the handling of radioactive waste. "The current safety situation isn't optimistic," it said. "China has multiple types of nuclear reactors, multiple technologies and multiple standards of safety, making them hard to manage." [...] Experts said the safety plan indicated the government was moving closer to restarting the approval process for reactor expansion. "The plan is good news for existing nuclear facilities, including those already approved and under construction, because it virtually means the end of the safety reviews and they get the go-ahead now," said Lin Boqiang, director of Xiamen University's Centre for Energy Economics Research. [...] Despite rumours about an imminent resumption, it remains unclear when Beijing will actually lift the suspension on new nuclear project approvals because the government has yet to unveil its much-anticipated long-term development plan for nuclear power, running to 2020. ^ top ^

Survey shows Chinese workers stressed out (China Daily)
2012-10-19
Nearly eight out of 10 Chinese workers became more stressed in the past year, a new survey has found. The survey by Regus, a global workplace-solutions provider, recently polled more than 16,000 workers in 80 countries. Seventy-five percent of Chinese workers polled said that their stress levels had risen in the past year, according to the survey. It found that 48 percent of workers globally felt growing pressure in the past year. [...] Chinese workers' stress mainly comes from work, individual financial status and clients, the survey found. In China, workers in Shanghai and Beijing felt the highest rise in stress in the past year, it said. In Shanghai, 80 percent of workers said their stress levels rose. In Beijing, the figure is 67 percent. [...] A recent survey by Insight China, a State-run magazine that looks into Chinese people's welfare, showed that nearly 70 percent of Chinese are overworked and more than 40 percent spend less than 10 hours a week on leisure. Wei Xiang, an expert in the leisure economy at Beijing International Studies University, said China's current economic development stage as a labor-intensive economy has made most Chinese people want to earn money instead of take leisure time. Xia Xueluan, a sociologist with Peking University, said Chinese people, especially young workers, always consider how to acquire material resources as quickly as possible as the country rapidly develops. "A booming desire for material easily transfers into stress," he said. [...]. ^ top ^

Traditional means of controlling public no longer work (China Daily)
2012-10-19
Traditional means of exerting control and pressure on the public have lost their effectiveness in stabilizing society, the Party chief of Weng'an county has said. Sha Xiangui, Party chief of Weng'an county in Southwest China's Guizhou province, was speaking to China Daily about the lessons learned from the violent protests in the county in 2008, when the government was attacked by thousands of angry locals. "The traditional means (of exerting control and pressure) neglect the appeals of the disadvantaged and ignore the power of social groups," Sha said to China Daily. "Failing to negotiate and coordinate will foment small issues into big ones, and make big issues explode." Sha said the crux of the problem in 2008 was that the government had failed to improve people's livelihoods despite the county's remarkable economic development prior to the unrest. Statistics show that the county's gross domestic product nearly doubled in eight years to 2008. "Developing the economy is a way (to address problems), but the object is to develop the society," Sha said. About 30,000 people took part in the Weng'an protest on June 27, 2008, torching government buildings, police stations and cars, and injuring at least 150 people. The violence started with 300 people protesting against the contents of a police report on the death of a 17-year-old girl. The police report stated that the girl had drowned, but the girls' family alleged that she had been raped and murdered by the relatives of local officials. China Newsweek has reported that on June 21, 2008, police refused to remove the body of the girl, Li Shufen, from the river, claiming it was too dark to see. When Li's father, Li Xiuhua, asked police to inspect the scene at dawn, they told him they would go in the daylight. Li Xiuhua then disagreed with the second autopsy report but said police warned him on June 27, 2008, that if he appealed to higher authorities in Beijing, he would be driven out of the city because the capital was preparing for the Olympic Games at the time. The local government then decided to bury the girl's body the next day, despite objections from the family. [...] "The incident was the culmination of problems, including a drain in confidence in the government and rising tension between officials and the public," Sha said. "We learned from the incident that the most fundamental and most effective way to stabilize society is to protect people's rights." [...]. ^ top ^

20 detained for Sichuan riot sparked by rumour (SCMP)
2012-10-19
At least 20 people were detained following a riot in Sichuan on Wednesday sparked by rumours that a man had been beaten to death by traffic policemen, state media reported yesterday. Gan Junyuan, 58, died from a pre-existing medical condition in central Luzhou on Wednesday afternoon, and not because of a scuffle with police, Xinhua reported. Local officials told a press conference yesterday morning that Gan had refused to move his illegally parked truck at around 5.30pm when asked to do so by two auxiliary traffic policemen and had shouted abuse at them. The policemen and Gan jostled each other before Gan became ill and yelled that he needed medicine that he kept in his truck, the report said. Gan's condition worsened after he took the medicine and he was pronounced dead after an ambulance arrived at the scene. The official version of events was essentially in line with a report in this newspaper yesterday quoting a young woman who witnessed the incident. Hundreds of passers-by gathered nearby during the incident and rumours that traffic policemen had beaten Gan to death began to spread rapidly on the internet from about 6pm. Some of those in the crowd overturned seven police vehicles and set fire to two of them. Others hurled stones, bricks and glass bottles at scores of police sent to deal with the rioting. Gan's relatives disputed the official account of events and prevented his body from being removed from the scene as fighting between hundreds of protesters and policemen went on deep into Wednesday night. Local official said Gan's relatives eventually consented to move his body to a nearby funeral home at about 2.30am after hours of negotiations. The crowd was dispersed by about 4am. Police took 20 suspects from the scene, the report said. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai home purchase limits to continue (Xinhua)
2012-10-17
A top Shanghai housing management official said on Wednesday that the city will continue to restrict home purchases despite a slowing economy. The property market's operation in Shanghai has been within expectation since the beginning of the year, Liu Haisheng, director of the Shanghai Housing Guarantee and Management Bureau, told a press briefing. "Currently, the controls are in a critical period and Shanghai will continue to strictly enact housing purchase limits," Liu told reporters. New home sales rose only 2 percent year on year in the first three quarters of the year to 10.8 million square meters as purchase restrictions curbed investment demand, he said. The housing price index in Shanghai stayed flat in August from a month ago. Earlier, the index rose slightly for two months in June and July, when two lending cost cuts drove more prospective buyers into the market after it fell month-on-month for eight consecutive months from October last year. The authorities will continue to use inspections to curb speculative and investment housing purchases and to support residents' reasonable home purchases to promote stable and healthy growth in the real estate market, Liu said. [...]. ^ top ^

Find a bad bus driver; get a 50-yuan transit credit (Global Times)
2012-10-19
Commuters in Shanghai are being offered a 50-yuan ($7.99) reward for reporting their bus driver's bad driving and bad habits, the city's bus operator said. The Shanghai Ba-Shi Public Transportation Group said it welcomes public supervision over its 570 routes citywide starting Thursday. The company said they want to hear from commuters who have witnessed bus drivers commit traffic offenses such as running a red light or straddling two lanes of traffic. They also want passengers to snitch on drivers who smoke or use their mobile phone on the job. "We will reward the passengers 50 yuan by charging their public transportation card as soon as we confirm the infraction," said a bus company staffer surnamed He. "Such infractions tarnish the city's image and put passengers' safety at risk," He added. Video or photographic evidence has to be submitted to the company within three working days of the alleged offence. No complaints had been received as of late Thursday. "It's a long-term policy, the complaints may come to us soon," said He. [...] The videos or photos must clearly show the infraction along with other information including the bus route, bus plate number and the time of the infraction. Some netizens worried that the measure would attract professional infraction finders. "If that happens, it means there are a lot of violations and a huge space for us to improve," He told the Global Times. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangdong vice-governor scotches talk he fled graft probe (SCMP)
2012-10-15
Guangdong vice-governor Chen Yunxian - accused of defecting to the US to avoid a corruption probe - caused a stir last week when he not only resurfaced, but gave a rare public speech in English. After dropping out of view for more than a month, the vice-governor re-emerged for a series of interviews and public appearances, including a speech in which he expounded on the United States' response to the financial crisis. In a lengthy interview with the Nanfang Daily published on Tuesday, Chen said he had not absconded. Rather, he said he had been sent to Yale University by Beijing to study what Washington had done to repair the country's financial system. "Three officials and I were sent to Yale University by the Organisation Department of the Communist Party's Central Committee for a six-week study," Chen said, adding that he was at the university's campus in New Haven, Connecticut, last month, when rumours about his disappearance began. Chen found himself thrust into the spotlight after disgraced billionaire Gu Chujun emerged from a seven-year prison stint to accuse the vice-governor and three other high-ranking officials of graft and trumping up charges to frame him. In a press conference after his release, the former chairman of the Kelon appliance manufacturing firm said Chen had fled to the United States to evade responsibility over the case. [...] Chen raised more eyebrows when he made a speech at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies on Wednesday about the White House's efforts to cope with the financial crisis. Officials rarely give such speeches in English for fear of appearing too Westernised and jeopardising their political careers. [...] Chen, who holds a PhD in economics from Peking University, rose from vice-mayor of Foshan to vice-governor of Guangdong in just eight years. Drawing on his experience in the US, he urged Beijing to reform its financial supervisory system to better fit the international market and start an Asian monetary fund to increase China's power in the global economy. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Ferry collision triggered a collision of cultures (SCMP)
2012-10-15
The day after Hong Kong's worst ferry collision in four decades, the top story on China's primetime state television news, CCTV's 7pm Xinwen Lianbo, caught the eye of many in the city. It was about the Lamma ferry tragedy in which 39 people died. The activities and edicts of state leaders are the usual CCTV headlines, but viewers soon realised why this was the top story. President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and leader-in-waiting Vice-President Xi Jinping had all made phone calls to Hong Kong expressing their condolences to the families of victims and "gave instructions" to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his team to spare no effort in the rescue work. Some viewers were puzzled about why on earth Leung and his administration needed to be "instructed", since efforts were already under way. Some complained that, while it is true the central government is responsible for the foreign affairs and defence of Hong Kong according to the Basic Law, rescuing victims of a ferry accident did not fall into either of these two categories. But were the critics being too sensitive? [...] Instructing local governments in disaster relief is common on the mainland and these "instructions" always get prominent news coverage. The CCTV headline news coverage on the Lamma ferry tragedy was just a typical news item "with Chinese characteristics". Yet that does not make it well understood and accepted in Hong Kong. [...] Such a clash of political cultures was even better illustrated by the controversy caused by the comments of Li Gang, deputy director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, after visiting victims at Queen Mary Hospital. Accompanied by Leung, he told reporters that a Guangdong salvage vessel was on standby and "can come to Hong Kong waters any time". Isn't offering help in a disaster something natural and shouldn't it be appreciated? The offer of assistance caused heated debate in town. Some Hongkongers said their uneasiness came from the setting more than the words, with Li the first to speak, while Leung stood there looking like his subordinate. [...] It seemed neither Leung nor Li realised this particular scene - the chief executive standing behind a Beijing official speaking eloquently to the press on live TV - might upset people. They appear not to have realised the unease in Hong Kong over fears that Beijing may be trying to strengthen its influence on local affairs. [...]. ^ top ^

700,000 slip through Hong Kong's welfare net (SCMP)
2012-10-16
About 700,000 people living in poverty in Hong Kong are slipping through the social welfare safety net. According to welfare department figures, Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) - a payment for those who cannot support themselves financially - covers only 40 per cent of the 1.15 million identified as living in poverty by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, using 2011 census statistics. The figures show the number of CSSA recipients remained constant at 450,000 to 460,000 per month in 2011. The numbers expose the wide gaps in Hong Kong's "all or nothing" welfare system, where there are few other supplements apart from the CSSA, with only limited public housing and small subsidies for children's schooling. "If they are not on the dole, there is next to nothing between the poor and the stone-cold hard floor," said Hong Kong Oxfam's director general, Stephen Fisher. [...] Experts say the city needs an official and internationally recognised poverty line to allow it to identify and quantify the poor, as well as expose holes in the social security and welfare system. They welcomed an announcement by the preparatory group for the Commission on Poverty that establishing a poverty line would be top of the new commission's agenda. "A poverty threshold is a headline measure - it's an objective measurement based on income statistics," said Fisher. "It's a practical and straightforward way of identifying who is poor." He said no government in the world liked having an official poverty line, because it monitored the growing or shrinking number of poor, and also gave the public, legislative bodies and the media hard facts to judge how effective a government's poverty-reduction measures were. [...] The social stigma surrounding welfare had also made many of the city's needy reluctant to apply. This especially applies to Hong Kong's growing elderly, and also increasingly poor, population. The council identified 288,000 older people living in poverty, while government figures show that roughly 153,900 received the old-age CSSA. "You have elderly people who have no income, but maybe own an old and decrepit property and this may keep them from receiving welfare, even though they are barely hanging on," Fisher said. [...]. ^ top ^

Chief executive to scrap government revamp to prioritise poverty and housing (SCMP)
2012-10-17
Leung Chun-ying's administration was preparing last night to sweep its embattled restructuring plan under the carpet for the time being as it seeks to deal with pressing livelihood issues such as poverty and housing. It means the existing government structure, which the chief executive was once so keen to revamp, even before he took office, will remain. And he will continue without the previously planned new deputies for the chief secretary and financial secretary and the two new policy bureaus in technology and culture. Leung said yesterday he would announce his decision on the revamp in the Legislative Council today. [...] A government source said the chief executive would tell legislators the restructuring would not be launched in the near future. "The government needs to prioritise its work. You have to decide where you put your efforts and energy," the source said. "Compared with other burning issues such as housing and poverty alleviation, revamping the government structure is not the top priority at this stage." The source said even a scaled-down version, creating a new policy bureau like the technology and communications bureau, would unnecessarily spark another round of controversy. This was criticised by pan-democrat Charles Mok, of the information technology sector, who said Leung had failed to deliver on his election pledge to set up a technology bureau. "There are always burning issues and [the decision] just demonstrates how impotent the government is," he said. [...] Sing Ming, a political scientist in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the public was not keen on the revamp plan and it would be too costly for the government to force it through. "The fundamental problem is the public mistrust towards Leung's administration," he said. ^ top ^

Police urge calm in national education showdown (SCMP)
2012-10-18
Police called for calm yesterday as supporters and opponents of national education began gathering for a showdown outside government headquarters. Thousands of protesters were expected in the square outside the complex in Admiralty, where the two camps were separated by fences and policemen amid fears of clashes. The group in support of the curriculum - the China-Hong Kong Federation of Youth Culture - called on supporters to dress in white, and expected 1,500 people. The Civil Alliance Against National Education, which encouraged its participants to wear black, said about 4,000 would attend. Early yesterday evening the number of opponents came to about 800, while supporters had less than a quarter of that. Police said officers would take "appropriate measures" to assist the demonstrations and appealed to participants to express their views in a peaceful and rational manner. The force said it had suggested the groups change the venue, but no consensus could be reached. [...] "We announced that we would be back on the 17th, and the other party announced the next day, and applied for the same spot, with basically the same agenda," Joshua Wong Chi-fung, convenor of student group Scholarism, said. [...] The group described last night's demonstration as "a return to the civic square", just one month after its 10-day siege of the government headquarters ended. [...] On the supporters' side, a student from St Joseph's college said he did not like the way Scholarism handled the issue. "I think that there is still much room to negotiate on how national education will be," said Form Five student Jason Lee. "They are just against it for the sake of being against it." [...]. ^ top ^

Wong Yuk-man retakes oath of office to Legco (SCMP)
2012-10-18
People Power lawmaker Wong Yuk-man has finally taken his Legislative Council oath of office - after a second attempt. Instead of skipping key words in the oath by coughing at strategic moments as he did the first time, Wong started by praying "for God to forgive him for making a dishonest oath", but was stopped by Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. Wong then proceeded to read out part of his oath in different tones of voice. For example, in the Cantonese phrase yan man gung wo gwok, which means "People's Republic", he read out some words in an unusually loud voice while pronouncing the others in a hushed tone. When he had completed the oath, he went on to shout slogans: "Down with the Hong Kong communist regime, down with [Chief Executive] Leung Chun-ying." He was again quickly stopped by Tsang, who asked him to return to his seat. But Wong's second attempt at taking the oath was not without controversy. Independent pro-government lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun criticised Wong's manner of oath-taking, asking Tsang to judge whether Wong had legally completed the oath. "Wong was taking his oath in an unwilling manner," said Tse. "He held the Bible in his hands and [tried to] ask God to forgive him. It was completely insincere. It will seriously hurt the integrity of the legislature." But Tsang ruled that Wong had legally completed his oath. "If there are those who think that Wong's oath-taking was against the law, then the person can challenge it according to the Basic Law and the law of Hong Kong," he said. Wong is the first lawmaker since the handover to take his oath of office twice because the first oath was considered invalid. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's new SEF chief makes first visit to mainland (Xinhua)
2012-10-16
Lin Join-sane, Taiwan's new top negotiator on cross-Strait affairs, arrived in Beijing on Tuesday morning to kick off his first visit to the Chinese mainland. Lin, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chairman, is leading a 13-member delegation. He will meet with the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi and his mainland counterpart Chen Yunlin. According to his schedule, Lin will pay a visit to Dr. Sun Yat-sen's cenotaph at suburb Beijing. He will leave the capital city to visit Wudang Mountain, a world-renown Taoist holy site, in central China's Hubei Province on Thursday. On Friday afternoon, Lin will fly to Shanghai. Over the weekend, he will visit the city of Kunshan in Jiangsu Province and meet with business executives from Taiwan. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's 9.9pc export growth eases fears of sharper global downturn (SCMP)
2012-10-14
China's exports grew more than expected in September, temporarily easing worries of a sharper downturn in the global economy, though analysts warned the pickup might not be sustainable. Exports totalled US$186.35 billion last month, up 9.9 per cent year on year, figures from the General Administration of Customs yesterday showed. The growth was higher than the 5.5 per cent median estimate tipped by Bloomberg and the 4.5 per cent predicted by HSBC. Exports only grew 2.7 per cent year-on-year in August. HSBC analysts Sun Junwei and Qu Hongbin said September's exports rebound was probably due to the increase of Christmas orders and the front-loading of shipments before the eight-day-long National Day holiday, which lasted from September 30 to October 7. While the stronger-than-expected rebound could help alleviate concerns of a sharper slowdown in the Chinese economy, the analysts said it was unlikely this growth would be sustained in the coming months. [...] On the import side, the figures were in line with market expectations, recording moderate growth of 2.4 per cent year on year in September after a contraction of 2.6 per cent in August. The trade surplus rose slightly to US$27.7 billion last month from US$26.7 billion in August. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing says yuan has reached equilibrium against US dollar (SCMP)
2012-10-15
Zhou XiaochuanChina says its currency has approached its equilibrium rate against the US dollar, indicating chances are slim that the yuan will continue rising significantly. People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan, in a speech delivered in Tokyo on his behalf by one of his deputies, stressed the yuan's valuation is mainly determined by the market, not government intervention. It was an apparent response to vocal concerns among US politicians, including Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, that the currency is deliberately undervalued. Zhou said the central bank had refrained from intervening in the market in the past year, while the exchange rate had remained at around 6.3 yuan per dollar. "The rate, the spot rate and future rate, determined by the market supply and demand, basically are very close to the equilibrium rate," Zhou said. The yuan had risen more than 30 per cent against the US dollar in nominal terms since 2005, he said. The speech was delivered yesterday after the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Tokyo, at which Zhou was represented by his deputy Yi Gang. [...]. ^ top ^

China 7.4 per cent GDP growth misses official target (SCMP)
2012-10-18
China's economy slowed for a seventh straight quarter in July-September, missing the government's target for the first time since the depths of the global financial crisis. The National Bureau of Statistics said GDP grew 7.4 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier - in line with forecasts from economists polled by Reuters - the first miss of the official target since 6.5 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2009. “This is within expectations, the economy is showing signs of stabilising, that is good news,” said Dong Tao, an economist at Credit Suisse in Hong Kong. “We think that with rebounding property markets, stabilising export orders, resuming consumption, we probably have seen the bottom of the economy. The economy can bounce back quickly.” While GDP growth at 7.4 per cent would be cause for joy in recession-stalked developed economies, it represents a sharp slowdown for China, where GDP grew 9.2 per cent in 2011 and has averaged an annual rate near 10 per cent for three decades. The government targets growth of 7.5 per cent for the full year - reduced in 2012 from the previous 8 per cent target - and the consensus forecast of economists polled by Reuters is that it will deliver on it, with an expansion of 7.7 per cent. Indeed, Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted by local media as saying on Wednesday that the economic situation in the third quarter was relatively good, and the government was confident of achieving its goal. [...]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

DPRK seeks Chinese tourists (China Daily)
2012-10-17
Hong Yin-chel, head of the publicity bureau of the DPRK national tourism administration, noted that the DPRK offers a wide variety of tourist attractions ranging from its spectacular natural beauty to cultural and religious heritage. He made the remarks at an economic, trade, culture and tourism exhibition held by China and the DPRK in the border city of Dandong in Liaoning province. "We are trying to promote the modernization of tourism facilities and have achieved great results. We welcome tourists from the whole world and especially from China," he said. The number of Chinese tourists traveling to the DPRK has shot up over the past two years. Around 60,000 to 70,000 Chinese tourists visited the country last year, according to Sin Kyong-jin, head of the DPRK national tourism administration's Dandong office. "The turning point in the tourism market appeared in 2010, when China listed the DPRK as a tourist destination country. As a result, many travel companies started to explore this mysterious market," said Yang Chunkai, manager of China International Travel Service in Dandong. [...] He added that he expects his company to send 40,000 tourists to the DPRK this year, up from 20,000 in 2010. [...] "The tourism industry needs low input but makes quick profits. This is in line with the DPRK's desire to make safe money as soon as possible," said Lu Chao, a specialist in Korean Peninsula studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences. He said the cross-border tourism industry accounts for around $200 million to $300 million of Sino-DPRK trade, a figure that keeps rising. China is the DPRK's biggest trade partner. Statistics show that bilateral trade increased 62.4 percent year-on-year to $5.64 billion last year. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

MPs in MPP announcend not to attend in session (News.mn)
10-18-2012
MPs in MPP, the opposition political party hold slogan signs in parliament hall while supporters and members of MPP protesting and demonstrating outside of the Government house. MP S.Batbold, former Prime Minister said that as an ruling party, all political parties should keep maintaining to strengthen democratic culture. But now it seems we should strongly keep the values of democracy further. Until now we have believed that the foundation of democracy had already installed. But this action seems to be misstep of our democracy. People`s choice must be one of the values for democracy. Despite it Election General Committee made a decision weighted on DP not respecting voters of Uvurkhangai province. That`s why we are protesting. MPs in MPP announced not to attend session and left parliament hall after put slogan signs written “DP destroyed democracy”, “Respect people`s choice” against Election General Committee`s decision on their table. ^ top ^

Ulaan Baatar to build railway to ease traffic (News.mn)
10-18-2012
The government will build a railway to ease the capital's worsening traffic congestion and air pollution, local media reported Wednesday. Roads and Transportation Minister A. Gansukh said the new Bogd Khan railway would run along the foot of Bogd Khan mountain south of the city and go through Ulaan Baatar to Tuv province. Unlike the old railway in the capital, the 170-km line will not affect the already heavy city traffic as it will pass through the sparsely populated areas of Ulaan Baatar. It is expected to ease traffic congestion by diverting passengers and cargo from the old railway. It was estimated passengers will be able to cross the city in only 15 minutes once the line is built. Ulaan Baatar's population has doubled from about 600,000 people in 1989 to more than 1.2 million in 2010, while the number of registered vehicles has increased 4.4 times from 1998, causing severe traffic congestion and air pollution. The government has intensified its efforts to ease the jams, including massive road construction and renovation and driving restrictions based on car plate numbers since Aug. 27. ^ top ^

Parliament will be added by two soon (Montsame)
10-17-2012
A head of the General Election Commission (GEC) Ch.Sodnomtseren presented on Wednesday to the Speaker the #148 resolution on a result of the parliamentary election held in the 10th constituency in Ovorkhangai aimag. Issued in accordance with the laws on the election of State Great Khural and central body of election, this resolution says that G.Batkhuu and D.Zorigt from the Democratic Party (DP) who competed at the 10th constituency this June have been considered as being elected the MPs having collected 40.39 and 34.02 per cent votes, respectively. It has been considered that their rivals from the Mongolian People's party N.Tomorkhuu and S.Chinzorig have violated the election law. Their temporary licenses of MP have been taken from them. The elected G.Batkhuu and D.Zorigt will take their oaths soon. Apart of this, re-voting will run in the constituencies of the city's Songinokhairkhan and Bayanzurkh districts for one mandate each on November 21 together with the election of the Citizens Representative Khural of aimags, soums and the city's districts. ^ top ^

About projection of Mongolia's economic growth (Montsame)
10-17-2012
The projected 15-16 percent economic growth of Mongolia may worsen down to eight percent due to a delay of the economy of China. It was reported on Tuesday by O.Mashbat, the scholar-secretary of the Institute of Strategy Studies at a conference of the sub-council on finance and economics. He said China's economy is in delay, even it is expected to continue until next year. Probably, it will be caused by the country's steel production, which means the needs in coke coal will reduce, due to this, the coal export of Mongolia will decrease, the scholars underlined. According to statistics, the export of Mongolia, especially of coal export, has been successful, for example, we supplied to China 32 per cent of a total coke coal in 2010, and 46 per cent--in 2011. The construction sector is considered as the largest consumer of copper, only China consumes 40 per cent of copper of the world, but this sector in China is in recession either, thus it is expected it will give negatively influence on Mongolia's copper export. China's policy on credit supporting might lead to an increase of the inflation rate in this country. We import a majority of consumer goods from China, and the World Bank has made a conclusion that China's inflation will repeat in Mongolia in three months, a director of the Institute of International Studies L.Khaisandai said. He warned that Mongolia's export might get in difficult situation because China is making a contract with Russia to import coal and natural gas through its Far East and the western side. The market for Russia depends on Europe, so Russia is maintaining a policy to expand its market to Asia with a purpose of increasing the productions of gas, oil and coal, the scholars said. ^ top ^

Sun bridge became operational at 3 pm today (News.mn)
10-17-2012
The opening ceremony for Sun Bridge was held today and delegates cut the ribbon. The Sun Bridge was built by Japanese free Aid became operational starting at 15:00 o`clock today. The coordinators of the Bridge project said that the Bridge will reduce traffic by up to 30 percent from now on. Participants of the opening ceremony included Prime Minister N.Altanhuyag, Ulaanbaatar City Mayor E.Bat-Uul, and Minister for Road and Transport A.Gansukh, Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia Shimizu Takenory, delegations of JAICA international organization, and project manager B.Mandat. The Japanese Government donated 3.7 billion Yen to invest into the bridge construction project. The project started in 2009 and was scheduled to be operational on November 30th but was commissioned to open 45 days early. ^ 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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