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
  27.10-2.11.12, No. 447  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Chinese peace-keeping police set off to South Sudan (Xinhua)
2012-10-27
China sent off the second batch of policemen on Friday night to the Republic of South Sudan for United Nations (UN) peace-keeping missions. The 13-member team was composed of policemen in a range of sections, including anti-terror department, entrance and exit administration, regimental and patrolling police, border checking, and fire case investigation. All of them came from the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south China. Four members had participated in previous UN peace-keeping missions, and the team leader, Wen Long, had served in three peace-keeping missions before the current one. After passing examinations by local and central public security authorities, the team had received training on international laws, first aid know-how, driving, English, shooting as well as orientations on the situation of the task region. The first team of policemen from southwest China's Chongqing Municipality began their peace-keeping mission in South Sudan on Nov. 11, 2011, and they were scheduled to return on Nov. 13 this year. Since 2000, China has dispatched 1,786 peace-keeping policemen to eight task regions, including Timore-leste, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Liberia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Haiti, and South Sudan, according to the Ministry of Public Security. ^ top ^

China at heart of Australia's Asian Century White Paper (Xinhua)
2012-10-28
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has finally released the "Australia in the Asian Century" White Paper here Sunday, placing China at the center of Australia' s Asian century. The long-delayed White Paper lays out an ambitious plan to guarantee Australia can take a hold of the opportunities offered by the Asian century by becoming a more Asia-literate and Asia- capable nation. The prime minister said that the scale and pace of Asia's rise is staggering, and there are significant opportunities and challenges for all Australians. "In this century, the region in which we live will become home to most of the world's middle class and will be the world's largest producer of goods and services, and the largest consumer of them." However, Gillard encouraged Australians to determine their own future and not rely on the fortunes that have made resource-rich Australia an economic success story. [...] J.W. Neville Fellow and former Austrade Chief Economist Tim Harcourt told Xinhua that Australia is entering its fourth wave of engagement with Asia and the Chinese engine remains at the heart of Australia's economic evolution. "In terms of trading partners, just as China superseded Japan which had previously taken over from the UK so further realignment of the global economic order will again alter Australia's trading patterns. The emergence of several ASEAN states, in addition to the new Asian giants China and India will take us through this new phase of engagement," he said. As Australia's leading trading partner and the first customer when it comes to marketing Australia's massive natural resources, China and China literacy is a key platform of the White Paper. [...] Studies of Asia will be a core part of the Australian school curriculum. All Australian students will have continuous access to a priority Asian language--Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese. [...]. ^ top ^

Wen Jiabao's family says claims of hidden fortune are 'lies' (SCMP)
2012-10-28
Premier Wen Jiabao's family hit back last night at The New York Times for its explosive exposé about his family's wealth, rejecting several of the article's central claims as "untrue". In an unusual step, two lawyers released a statement on behalf of Wen's family shortly 8before 11pm denying, among other things, that the premier's 90-year-old mother ever held a US$120 million investment in Ping An Insurance, as the paper had reported. In fact, the lawyers said, Wen's mother, Yang Zhiyun, had "never had other income or property" except for her government salary and pension. The claim was a critical element of the newspaper's article - published on its website on Friday morning - which estimated that Wen's extended family controlled a fortune of at least US$2.7 billion. "The so-called 'hidden riches' of Wen Jiabao's family members in The New York Times' report does not exist," said the statement, first obtained by the Sunday Morning Post. It is the first time a Chinese leader has issued a statement rebutting a foreign media report. The lawyers, Bai Tao and Wang Weidong, said they would continue to "make clarifications regarding other untrue reports" by the newspaper and reserved the right to hold it "legally responsible". The lawyers' statement also denied that the powerful premier had ever intervened on behalf of the business interests of family members. Nor had his family members engaged in illegal 8activities, it said. "Some of Wen Jiabao's family members have not engaged in business activities," it said. "Some were engaged in business activities, but they did not carry out any illegal business activity. They do not hold shares of any companies." [...]. ^ top ^

China, ROK sign social insurance agreement (Xinhua)
2012-10-29
China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Monday signed an agreement on social insurance to avoid dual payment of premiums for pension and employment insurance for Chinese and Korean employees working in either country. It was the first bilateral agreement on social insurance signed between the Chinese government and a foreign government since China revised its social security law last year to require all foreign workers to make contributions to a pension fund as well as health, employment, industrial disaster and birth insurance. Yin Weimin, Chinese minister of human resources and social security, and Lee Kyu-hyung, the ROK's ambassador to China, signed the agreement in Beijing on behalf of the Chinese and Korean governments, respectively. Both sides agreed to exempt employees dispatched from either country, locally hired workers and public officials from pension and employment insurance payments for up to 13 years to prevent dual payment of social security between the two countries. The bilateral agreement came after eight months of talks between the two countries. China has launched bilateral talks with a dozen countries on social insurance agreements following the implementation of the Chinese social insurance scheme, which took effect Oct. 15 last year. The scheme allows foreigners with work permits in China to receive retirement, unemployment, medical, work injury and maternity benefits just like Chinese citizens. ^ top ^

China to boost military talks with countries (China Daily)
2012-10-30
China's military exchanges with other countries will see a small upsurge at the end of 2012. The only exception is Japan, which is involved in a dispute with China over the Diaoyu Islands. Experts said China can deepen understanding with other countries by increasing military exchanges and cooperation. [...] Increased military communication can also help China ease concerns from other countries who claim Beijing's military is "not transparent enough", said Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies. [...] The first joint-exercise on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief involving China, Australia and New Zealand began on Monday. Seven New Zealand Defense Force staff participated in the Exercise Cooperation Spirit 2012, which is being hosted by the Australian Defense Force from Monday to Thursday in the Australian coastal city of Brisbane and Enoggera Barracks, according to Xinhua. The exercise aims to further develop relationships, interoperability and is focused on responses to humanitarian crisis. Meanwhile, heads of defense universities and colleges from China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will meet in Beijing from Nov 4 to 8 under the framework of the 16th ASEAN Regional Forum. The theme of the meeting is national security strategy in a changing world. It aims to strengthen communication among members of the ARF in the defense and security sectors, and promote military education exchanges between China and other countries, said Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense. In late November, China and the US will hold a joint drill on humanitarian rescue and disaster relief in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in Southwest China. [...] The two countries will also hold the 13th defense consultation between defense ministries. Meanwhile, China and Japan have shelved a plan to build a maritime liaison mechanism between their defense ministries. [...]. ^ top ^

China's former Japan envoy accuses US of exploiting territorial rows (SCMP)
2012-10-31
A former Chinese ambassador to Japan has accused the United States of using China's territorial disputes to expand its own influence in the region. Chen Jian, who was posted in Tokyo between 1998 and 2001, said yesterday that the US had been "exploiting contradictions among countries of the region" as tensions run high between China and its neighbours, especially Japan, with which Beijing contests islands in the East China Sea. "It is no longer a secret that it is in the US interest for countries in this region to quarrel with China, but not to fight with China," Chen, who is dean of Renmin University's school of international relations, said during a talk at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong. His remarks come amid continued sabre-rattling between Beijing and Tokyo over control of the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan. [...] Yesterday four China marine surveillance ships were again spotted near the islands. The State Oceanic Administration said they were carrying out "expulsion measures" against nearby Japan Coast Guard ships. One of the ships displayed an electronic message board informing the Japanese ships they were in China's territorial waters and ordering them to leave, Kyodo News reported. A Japan Coast Guard spokesman said ships from each side flashed signs at the other demanding they leave. [...] Chen blamed the US, which administered the Diaoyus for a quarter century after the second world war, for setting a "time bomb" in 1971, when it handed control over the islands to Japan. Washington was now using the resulting tension to aid its military "pivot" towards the region. [...] He said the US was trying to restrain China's growing influence and warned Beijing to be cautious because the perceived backing from Washington could cause some countries to "carry their quarrel with China too far". [...]. ^ top ^

China to seek closer cooperation at Asia-Europe Meeting (Xinhua)
2012-10-31
China hopes to achieve more common understanding and closer cooperation at the ninth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said on Wednesday. Ma made the comments at a press briefing prior to Premier Wen Jiabao's attendance of the summit to be held in Vientiane, Laos on Nov.5-6. Themed "Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity", the meeting will focus on the global economic and financial situation, social and cultural cooperation between Asian and European countries, and the future direction of the ASEM. It will also focus on global and regional issues, Ma said. Bangladesh, Switzerland and Norway will join the group at the upcoming summit, bringing the total members of ASEM to 51. Meanwhile, a presidential declaration of the ninth ASEM Summit and the Vientiane declaration on strengthening peace and developing partnerships is set to be issued during the meeting, according to Ma. [...] "The Chinese side hope the meeting can achieve results on the following four aspects," Ma said, "That is, firstly, to consolidate the closer Asia-Europe economic partnership and promote the comprehensive, persistent and balanced development of the global economy and economy in Asian-European countries; "Secondly, to build more stable strategic mutual trust so as to lay a good foundation for Asian-European countries to deepen cooperation and tackle common challenge; "Thirdly, to deepen pragmatic cooperation in various areas in order to increase the role and influence of the ASEM; "Lastly, to focus on the future of the ASEM so as to lay the foundation for the ASEM of a higher level." [...]. ^ top ^

China's stealth fighter in flight test (SCMP)
2012-11-01
China has successfully tested its second stealth fighter, a smaller, twin-engine jet that military analysts said could potentially allow it to one day fly missions from an aircraft carrier. In-flight photos of the new fighter - which has been dubbed the "J-31" by military enthusiasts - were posted on Chinese military forums and picked up by the website of Global Times, a newspaper published by People's Daily. The photos showed a black Shenyang Aircraft Industry-designed jet flying alongside China's indigenous J-11B. The code J31001 was written on its nose. The trial by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic) subsidiary makes China only the second nation after the United States to test successfully two fifth-generation, advanced, multirole fighters. The development is likely to stoke discussion about the budding military rivalry between the two nations. [...] Military analysts said the new jet's design suggested the People's Liberation Army might use it to arm and escort aircraft carriers like the Liaoning, which was officially deployed last month. The PLA currently lacks a carrier-based fighter jet. "The prototype of the J31001 might become a carrier-based fighter jet in the future because its size is smaller and slimmer than the J-20," said Senior Colonel Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert. "But compared with the development progress of J-20, there is still a long way to go." Li said that the PLA has not yet given the prototype a formal designation and cautioned that the "J-31" name often used was incorrect. Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canadian-based Kanwa Asian Defence Monthly, said the flight provided further evidence that Shenyang Aircraft, which has been known for its copies of Soviet-designed Su-series fighters, was now successfully cloning US planes. Chang said the new prototype appears to have borrowed features from the US Air Force's twin-engine F-22 and US Navy's single-engine F-35C. [...] Xu Guangyu, of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association in Beijing, said yesterday's test flight showed China was now second only to the US in stealth technology. "But there is till a huge gap between China and the US' fighter jet technologies because we are still testing our both the J-20 and the J-31," Xu said. "It might take another couple of years before we can put them on the production line.". ^ top ^

Premier Wen not to meet Japanese counterpart during Laos summit (Global Times)
2012-11-01
Premier Wen Jiabao will not meet with his Japanese counterpart Yoshihiko Noda at next week's Asia-Europe Summit (ASEM) in Laos, a senior Chinese diplomat said Wednesday, in a sign of reinforced pressure on Tokyo over the Diaoyu Islands row. "As for Chinese and Japanese leaders meeting, there is no such arrangement," Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu told a press briefing during Wen's trip. According to Ma, on the sidelines of the ASEM, the premier will meet foreign leaders to discuss bilateral ties and major issues of common concern. Yang Bojiang, a professor with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times Wednesday that the arrangement is clearly in response to Japan's latest moves over the islets. Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba Tuesday maintained Tokyo's position that there is no sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, which was slashed by China's foreign ministry as being "self-deceiving." Meanwhile, Gemba Wednesday told a press conference that it is "premature" for a meeting to be held between Chinese and Japanese foreign ministers, Kyodo News reported. [...] The tension also led to the freezing of Sino-Japanese military exchanges. China's defense ministry Tuesday confirmed to the Nandu Daily that it would not be sending officers to the upcoming Tokyo Defense Forum Wednesday. According to Japanese media, the two militaries have also suspended a maritime consultation mechanism, and a program that promotes defense exchanges between Japanese and Chinese field officers. [...]. ^ top ^

China proposes phased ceasefire to end conflict in Syria (SCMP)
2012-11-02
China said yesterday it had proposed an initiative to head off an escalation of violence in Syria, including a phased, region-by-region ceasefire and the establishment of a transitional governing body. The plan, outlined to Lakhdar Brahimi, the visiting United Nations and Arab League peace envoy on Syria, "is an extension of China's effort to push for a political resolution of the Syrian issue", said a Foreign Ministry spokesman. [...] Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing that under Beijing's proposal "there are constructive new suggestions such as a ceasefire region by region and phase by phase, and establishing a transitional governing body". On Wednesday, Brahimi met Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi who said the world should act with greater urgency to support Brahimi's mediation efforts. "More and more countries have come to realise that a military option offers no way out, and a political settlement has become an increasingly shared aspiration," Hong said. "China's new proposal is aimed at building international consensus and supporting Brahimi's mediation efforts... and push for relevant parties in Syria to realise an early ceasefire and end of violence, and launch a political transition process led by the Syrian people at an early date." [...]. ^ top ^

Investigation targets EU polysilicon (China Daily)
2012-11-02
The decision is expected to worsen China's trade row with the European Union, which is conducting a similar inquiry into Chinese solar products. The Ministry of Commerce said in a statement that the latest investigation will be combined with one that started on July 20, also to look at polysilicon imports from the United States and South Korea. The latest investigation comes as the most recent move in a series of trade disputes between China and its Western trading partners. [...] "There will be no winner in this trade row," said Meng Xiangan, deputy director of the China Renewable Energy Society. "Both sides will lose." "The trade dispute is not a purely economic issue, but also has something to do with politics and national strategy. Western countries' investigations are aimed at containing China's rise, and China has to react." The investigation will also look at the subsidies EU producers and exporters have been alleged to receive, as well as whatever damage protectionist policy may have caused Chinese companies. The findings will help the ministry "come to a just ruling according to the law". The investigations were launched in response to complaints by Chinese polysilicon producers. Among other things, the companies contended that EU firms had received German government subsidies and favorable loans from the European Investment Bank, a separate ministry statement said. European companies that may have been affected by China's investigation, if they want to respond to the accusations leveled against them, must register with the Ministry of Commerce within the next 20 days and then report the value and quantity of the products they sold in China between July 1, 2011, and June 30, it said. The ministry aims to complete the investigations in a year or, if unusual conditions arise, in 18 months at the most, it said. [...] The China Nonferrous Metal Industry Association estimated that China will produce 60,000 tons of polysilicon this year, an amount down 25 percent year-on-year. One reason cited for the expected decline is the competition the polysilicon industry faces from imports. In contrast, China is forecast to import 85,000 tons of the material this year, an amount up 30 percent from last year. As much as 95 percent of those imports are to come from the US, South Korea and the EU, the association said. Assuming polysilicon costs from $23 to $25 per kg, China's investigations will involve $2.1 billion worth of the material. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Anxious authorities crack down on critics ahead of party congress (SCMP)
2012-10-29
Mainland authorities have stepped up harassment of government critics ahead of the Communist Party's upcoming 18th national congress, warning them against speaking out during the sensitive leadership reshuffle. Activists say authorities, anxious about any social unrest that could disrupt a smooth handover of power, are using every means at their disposal to silence dissidents ahead of the once-in-a-decade event. The congress is set for November 8 in Beijing. Scores of activists, rights lawyers, dissident writers, liberal intellectuals and petitioners seeking to air grievances have been detained, put under house arrest or placed under surveillance. The Ministry of Public Security did not respond to requests for comment, but such round-ups are common before major events like the party congress, at which most top leadership posts are expected to change hands. The central government's website quoted Justice Minister Wu Aiying on Tuesday urging law enforcement authorities to spare no effort in "maintaining social stability to foster a safe, stable and harmonious environment for a triumphant 18th party congress". Legal scholar and civil rights activist Xu Zhiyong said on his Twitter account that seven security agents had been preventing him from leaving his home since last Thursday. Xu wrote that agents told him his New Citizen Movement - founded to support democracy and the rule of law - "had been too active and was posing danger". "Yes, everything I do for this country's advancement poses danger to you all," said Xu, who was detained for more than 30 hours in June. Rights activist Hu Jia said pressure from security police forced him to leave Beijing on Thursday and go with his parents back to their hometown in Huangshan, Anhui province. Police told them not to return until after the party congress. "My parents' sense of fear is tremendous," said Hu. "They literally begged me to leave." Others, like China Democracy Party co-founder Zha Jianguo, were warned they would be taken to secret detention sites and held throughout the week-long congress. "I'm not willing to go, but they said this is a general arrangement," said Zha, who had spent nine years in jail for "subverting state power". [...]. ^ top ^

More officials probed for graft (China Daily)
2012-10-29
The number of officials investigated for corruption and dereliction of duty has risen this year, a prosecutor said. From January to August, prosecutors across the country had investigated 12.7 percent more officials, for crimes related to their office, from a year ago, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate. Of these, 75.9 percent were accused of corruption and taking bribes. The remainder were under investigation for dereliction of duty. The worst-hit sectors included engineering, construction, rail and transportation, finance and real estate, said Song Hansong, a director of the Supreme People's Procuratorate's corruption prevention department. "Powers are centralized and capital flow is intense in these sectors," he said. Song said prosecutors had also found an increase in corrupt officials fleeing abroad after transferring their assets to other countries. He did not give details. Officials who consider fleeing usually take a number of similar steps, Song said. The first step involves sending family members to immigrate, open a business or study. They then transfer their property by money laundering, underground banks or illegal investment and wait for an opportunity to go themselves. [...] Song said that crimes involving bribery are becoming increasingly well concealed behind layers of what might appear, at first glance, as legitimate transactions. "Bribes are offered in various ways, such as consultant fees, investment, shares, dividends, or sponsoring children studying abroad," he said. Song also said that those receiving the bribes are seeking not just quick money but a life-changing amount. [...] Prosecutors across the country have, since last year, examined and assessed 1,207 major construction programs to make sure corruption did not occur, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate. This year, a national system to keep track of bribery convictions has been set up. Individuals or companies that have records of offering bribes in the past may be disqualified from bidding or denied access to future projects. However, Song emphasized that these crimes are deeply rooted in the social management system. "Outdated social management modes and centralized power offer officials the chance to abuse their power," he said. "The fundamental way out is to deepen economic, political and administrative reforms to limit officials' power and tighten supervision." [...]. ^ top ^

Environmental protests in China on dramatic rise, expert says (SCMP)
2012-10-29
The number of major environmental protests in China grew by 120 per cent from 2010 to 2011, according to Yang Chaofei, vice-chairman of the Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences. Speaking on Friday at a lecture organised by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on the social impact of environmental problems, attended by finance news magazine Caijing, Yang revealed that the number of environmental "mass incidents" has grown an average 29 per cent annually, from 1996 to 2011. According to Yang, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has handled a total of 927 incidents since 2005, 72 of which were classified as major incidents. He said that incidents involving heavy metal pollution and dangerous chemicals have been on the rise since 2010. The government stopped releasing most protest statistics several years ago after the annual number of "mass incidents" surpassed 100,000. The latest figure most often cited is from Tsinghua University sociology professor Sun Liping, who estimates there were 180,000 protests and riots in 2010. The Caijing report references recent information from Xinhua and the Beijing News, the latter of which responded to Yang's claim that only 1 per cent of environmental disputes are resolved in court with an editorial calling for an overhaul of existing environmental law. Key problems, writes Beijing News, include abuse of protection from environmental lawsuits, and the lack of provisions allowing for lawsuits which seek compensation for environmental damage. [...]. ^ top ^

298 mln more rural Chinese to have safe drinking water by 2015 (Xinhua)
2012-10-29
About 298 million more rural residents in China are hopefully to have access to safe drinking water by 2015, according to a water resources official Monday. Resolving the drinking water safety problem for these rural residents and 114,000 schools in the countryside by 2015 has been listed as one of the government's priority projects, said Yan Guanyu, deputy director of the China Irrigation and Drainage Development Center under the Ministry of Water Resources. A total of 196 million of the 298 million rural residents who do not have access to adequate and safe drinking water were newly added in recently years due to diminishing sources of safe water, worsening water pollution, rundown and under-qualified water facilities and the adoption of new and stricter drinking water standards, Yan said. China will invest 175 billion yuan (27.8 billion U.S. dollars) by 2015 to ensure supplies of safe drinking water in rural areas, according to a report delivered in June this year by Vice Minister of Water Resources Li Guoying to a session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's top legislature. Over the past decade, China has spent 178.6 billion yuan on building drinking water projects across the countryside, benefiting 326 million rural residents, according to data from the Ministry of Water Resources. ^ top ^

Hospitals to prevent theft of babies (China Daily)
2012-10-30
Hospitals in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, are using security bracelets to keep newborn babies from being stolen from the maternity ward. Chu Zhiping, matron of the maternity department under the No 2 Hospital affiliated with Nanjing Medical University, said the security bracelet will sound an alarm if a baby is taken outside certain areas of the department. "Warnings will also be shown on nurses' computers so they can immediately know which baby has been taken and take action together with the guards," Chu said. She added that the bracelet, which contains all of the baby's information, such as health, mother's name and hospital-bed number, can be removed only by staff members. "The bracelet will sound an alarm if other people try to untie or cut it off, and it's very safe for the baby to wear the bracelet because the radiation it produces is very low," Chu said. No 2 Hospital has used the security bracelet since 2008. Other hospitals in the city have started using them or taken even stronger measures to prevent baby stealing. Gulou Hospital has security guards on duty round-the-clock. Only two visitors at a time are allowed during visiting hours. Babies can be taken out of the hospital only if a discharge certificate is provided. [...] In Nanjing Maternity and Child Healthcare Hospital, the first class that the parents-to-be have to take is on how to check the identities of medical workers. In addition, more than 500 surveillance cameras have been installed as the facility. Hospitals and parents in China have been on high alert after repeated media reports of babies being stolen. In October, a 3-day-old boy was stolen by a woman in Huaiyuan county, Anhui province. In November 2011, a 6-day-old girl was taken out of a hospital in Xinghua, Jiangsu. A 1-day-old baby boy was reported stolen in Shanwei, Guangdong province, in the same month. [...]. ^ top ^

Fifty detained in China pollution protests (SCMP)
2012-10-30
China's eastern city of Ningbo detained more than 50 people over violent protests last week that successfully blocked a planned chemical plant, state media said on Tuesday. Ningbo city said on Sunday that work on the 55.9-billion-yuan (US$8.9 billion) oil and petrochemical complex would stop after thousands of local residents clashed with police in a week-long protest over pollution fears. Police detained 51 people who clashed with police last Friday, throwing stones and overturning two vehicles, the Ningbo Daily said on Tuesday. Of the 51, 13 were deemed criminal suspects, the newspaper said, meaning they could face prosecution. Police could not be reached for comment on the report. Authorities detained another man, who was found carrying a knife, during protests on Sunday evening, said the report, which quoted Ningbo city officials. Separately, authorities also detained a woman for spreading false rumours that a university student died in the protests, police said in a separate statement. [...] Ningbo residents told reporters that the protests had tapered off on Tuesday after the government's pledge to halt the project, despite suspicion the city might try to revive it, but the police presence remained strong. “The streets are full of patrolling police cars,” said a resident of Zhenhai, which was the proposed site of the plant. [...]. ^ top ^

Mao Zedong's nephew draws online attention (SCMP)
2012-10-30
A recent high profile appearance and comment by Mao Zedong's nephew lead to a flurry of activity on China's social networks, ahead of the 18th Communist Party congress. Li Shi, also known as Mao Yuanxin, nephew of the late supreme leader Mao Zedong, made a public visit to a major national water conservancy site on October 20, marking the 60 anniversary of his uncle first proposing the project. Li Shi left a Chinese idiom as a comment at the site: “When you drink water, think of its source.” [...] On China's social networking sites, most comments from netizens were negative about Li's appearance. Some netizens believe Li made the comment to urge people to be grateful for Mao Zedong's rule, amid recent rumours that Mao's philosophy will be dropped from a revised constitution at the upcoming party congress. Other liberal academics question why Li was treated like an official when he has no official status. Wu Jiaxiang, a liberal scholar, asked on Weibo, “[why is he] treated like a crown prince?” Some netizens even raised the question of Li Shi's behaviour during the Cultural Revolution when he was a Red Guard, accusing him of being responsible for several violent crackdowns on political dissidents, which lead to many deaths. [...]. ^ top ^

Billionaire company chief Xu Yusho held for alleged railway bribery (SCMP)
2012-10-31
The billionaire chief a Shenzhen-listed technology company has been detained for bribery connected to the railways sector. Invengo Information Technology president Xu Yusho, who is also a member of the Shenzhen Municipal People's Congress, was taken into custody by Shenzhen authorities after a request from the Zhengzhou Railway Bureau in Henan province, prosecutors said late on Monday. Xu, 47, ranked in the top 500 of the Hurun Rich List in 2009, with 2.2 billion yuan (HK$2.7 billion) in assets. Invengo is one of two providers of radio frequency identification tags and readers for the Railways Ministry. The company derived more than half of its revenue from railway contracts in 2010. Prosecutors, who made the announcement on their official microblog, said the congress' Standing Committee approved Xu's detention on Wednesday. Invengo yesterday said only that the company's business operations would not be affected and declined further comment on the investigation. The company said its management had not been in touch with Xu since Wednesday. Neither Shenzhen prosecutors nor the Municipal People's Congress could be reached for comment. Numerous railways officials have been detained as part of a sweeping series of corruption investigations since the downfall of former railways minister Liu Zhijun early last year. [...]. ^ top ^

Retired leader Li Peng seeks to show influence ahead of congress (SCMP)
2012-10-31
Former premier Li Peng has thrust himself into the public eye before next week's party congress by donating 3 million yuan (HK$3.7 million) to a scholarship for poor university students in Yanan, the Communist Party's old revolutionary base in Shaanxi. The source of the money was the proceeds of books Li wrote in retirement, CCTV reported yesterday. Li's public foray came just a few days after his successor, Zhu Rongji, and Vice-Premier Wang Qishan met the advisory board of Tsinghua University's business school last Wednesday. Zhu is the school's founding dean; Wang, a front runner for promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee, is an honorary board member. Retired leaders traditionally stay out of the limelight, except on politically symbolic events such as National Day. But Li, Zhu and former president Jiang Zemin have re-emerged several times in recent months. Analysts said the public appearances showed the retired leaders still wielded considerable power and wanted to influence decision-making before the party's 18th national congress, which will open on November 8. [...] Zhang Lifan, a mainland-based political affairs analyst, said: "The publicity suggests, whether deliberately or not, that not every important thing has been finalised and thus they show up to support their protégés or their favourite policies," Zhang said. [...] Zhang said Jiang and Li were the two most influential retired leaders. They had received the most media exposure recently and had made no secret of their desire to influence policymaking. Overseas media speculated that Li was a key player in the reported exclusion of the Guangdong party chief, Wang Yang, from promotion to the Standing Committee. He was also rumoured to oppose the promotion of the party organisation chief Li Yuanchao, a protégé of President Hu Jintao, to the committee. [...]. ^ top ^

Officials' resumes go online for public (Global Times)
2012-10-31
A new channel has been established for the public to easily access information on government officials, as an online database containing more than 1,600 resumes of officials of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was put on trial Monday. Web users can log onto the website gbzl.people.com.cn, created by the People's Daily's website, and supported by the CPC's official news website, to use the database, which also contains information about senior leaders of public institutes and State-owned enterprises. Users can insert names, keywords and queries, with all information shown being drawn from published news reports and websites of State organs. Lin Zhe, a professor from the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, noted the information is from authoritative resources and that the database "will allow the public to exercise better supervision over the authorities." [...] However, the public reaction was not very positive toward the launch of the database. Online comments on the database could not be found on China's microblog service platforms and most major news outlets. Only sohu.com, a news website, received 395 comments, and as of yesterday, only 52 comments of these were displayed on its comment pages. Among those comments being displayed, some said the information and the number of resumes was too limited, while some expressed their hopes that it would prove useful. "The database has received feedback from Web users but has not sorted them out," said Sun Haifeng, director of the news department of the CPC's news website, adding that she could not give more information on the matter. ^ top ^

More transparency demanded of police by new regulations (Global Times)
2012-11-01
China's Ministry of Public Security Tuesday issued a statement requiring local police bureaus around the country to be more transparent and clarifies their obligation to disclose information. The rule, effective January 2013, requires local police bureaus to make information about crimes and arrests public. It also stipulates that information on traffic, fire and flood hazards, and the location of surveillance cameras be disclosed to the public. Police will also be required to tell victims of crime about the progress of their investigation within five days of receiving a request for information. Sun Maoli, director of the ministry's legislative affairs bureau, said Tuesday on the ministry's website that the new rules are by far "the most comprehensive and most systematic" push toward greater transparency. "We are allowing more people to access our information," Sun said, adding that officers are also encouraged to adopt new technologies in their work and disclose information on official websites and Weibo." Ma Qixun, director of Beijing Xindu Law Firm, told the Global Times that the rules are a big breakthrough. "The entire police procedures have been, to this day, a black box. They could arrest someone for days without informing the family, leaving them to believe the person has gone missing," Ma said, "What's worse, there is no regulation to support a person's right to know. Previous regulations are mostly fragmented and legally vague." The new rules support China's newly-amended Criminal Procedure Law, which also comes into effective in January 2013. It requires the police to contact the family of someone they arrest within 24 hours. The location of surveillance cameras that record traffic violators will also be required to be disclosed. [...]. ^ top ^

Li Lanqing sings the praises of Jiang Zemin (SCMP)
2012-11-01
Former president Jiang Zemin was back in the limelight again yesterday - this time having his musical talent praised in an article by former vice-premier Li Lanqing in the party-run People's Daily. Li lauded the 86-year-old Jiang's ability to remember the melody and lyrics of songs they sang in their youth, more than six decades ago. The newspaper also published a letter from Jiang to Li, whom Jiang asked to verify the melody of one old song, Moonlight and Shadows, in February. The story, which comes just over a week before the once-in-a-decade power change at the Communist Party's 18th national congress, was seen as another indication of Jiang's effort to assert his influence. It is at least the fifth high-profile media foray by Jiang since late September. Meanwhile, the Jilin Daily, the mouthpiece of the Jilin provincial party committee, reported yesterday that former premier Li Peng, 84, had written a letter welcoming the start of construction work on a hydroelectric power station in Jilin city on Monday. Political analyst Dr James Sung Lap-kung, of City University, said many more former political heavyweights, including Jiang, Li and former premier Zhu Rongji, were showing up before the 18th party congress than did before the 16th and 17th congresses. "As the meeting will see a major power transition among the party elite, veterans from various political factions, such as the princelings, Communist Youth League, Shanghai gang and the military, may make use of this or that chance to flex their political muscle and remind both top-ranking officials and the general public that they are still playing a role in the upcoming successions," Sung said. [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese Communist Party's 17th Central Committee has last gathering (SCMP)
2012-11-01
The Communist Party's elite will meet in a closed-door conclave in the capital today as the party scrambles to wrap up preparations for the once-a-decade transfer of power that will officially start next week. Around 370 members and alternative members of the party's 17th Central Committee will gather at the Jingxi Hotel for its seventh and last plenum. It is one of the last opportunities for the party's leaders and their successors to finalise every important detail of the party's 18th national congress, which will open next Thursday. High-stakes decisions on personnel arrangements involved in the generational handover and on policy issues that will set the country's direction for the coming decade will top the agenda for the plenum. It will also formally expel the disgraced former Politburo member Bo Xilai and the former railways minister Liu Zhijun from the party. Although all the paperwork to be tabled at the party congress should be finalised and approved by the plenum, analysts said last-minute changes were still highly likely before the official announcements at the end of the party congress, which is widely expected to last for a week, although there is no official announcement yet. According to Politburo decisions over the past two months, the official agenda of the plenum will include the approval of a keynote address to be delivered by the party's general secretary, Hu Jintao, at the opening of the congress, and a proposed change to the party constitution. [...] Preparations for this year's leadership transition were thrown into disarray by factional rifts and horse trading, a number of scandals, including Bo's spectacular downfall, and swirling rumours about splits among incumbent leaders and influential party elders, including the former party chief Jiang Zemin. [...] Professor Roderick MacFarquhar, a China expert at Harvard University, expressed concerns over the extent of political uncertainties over the leadership transition. Crediting a source in Beijing for the insight, MacFarquhar said it seemed Jiang had outwitted Hu in the top picks for the Politburo Standing Committee, while Hu has outwitted Jiang in the military's personnel changes. [...]. ^ top ^

Conservatives dominate latest line-up for new Communist Party leadership (SCMP)
2012-11-02
The latest consensus among outgoing leaders, their immediate successors and influential party elders is that the party's innermost circle may still be subject to last-minute changes ahead of the 18th congress starting on Thursday, according to sources close to the inner workings of the once-a-decade generational transition. However, the sources said that the Politburo Standing Committee's likeliest line-up was now packed with conservatives including vice-premier and Chongqing party chief Zhang Dejiang, 65, propaganda chief Liu Yunshan, 65, Shanghai party boss Yu Zhengsheng, 67, and Tianjin party chief Zhang Gaoli, 65. They said the biggest surprise was the omission of two reform-minded protégés of party general secretary Hu Jintao - party organisation department head Li Yuanchao, who turns 62 this month, and Guangdong party chief Wang Yang, 57 - mainly due to their relative youth and opposition from conservative party elders, including former premier Li Peng. Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, 64, long tipped to become China's next economic tsar as executive vice-premier, will also be elevated to the Politburo Standing Committee, which will be downsized from the current nine members to just seven, but will be given the lesser job of party discipline chief. Vice-President Xi Jinping, 59, and Executive Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, 57, are already Politburo Standing Committee members. [...] Sources confirmed that due to rifts within the leadership a consensus reached at the secretive summer conclave of current and retired party leaders at the Hebei beach resort of Beidaihe had to be scrapped following the latest changes to the Politburo Standing Committee line-up. [...] Analysts said the promotions of Yu, Zhang Dejiang and Liu - who have served two five-year terms in the Politburo - resulted from an unwritten party rule which favoured seniority over competence. [...] Chen Ziming, a Beijing-based analyst, said the elevation of the two Zhangs and Liu, all staunch conservatives, had turned the leadership reshuffle into an anti-climax. Using the age factor to edge out younger reformers, Chen said, was telling proof that the party leadership had no real intention of pursuing a democratic reform agenda, despite recent speculation. [...]. ^ top ^

Guangdong man gets record damages for wrongful imprisonment (SCMP)
2012-11-02
A Guangdong man who was wrongly jailed for 11 years has received about 825,000 yuan (HK$1.02 million) in compensation after being exonerated by a local court in 2010. The payout was the highest ever granted under the national compensation law, according to his lawyer. Huang Liyi, a 39-year-old former employee at a steel company in Kaiping, was sentenced to life in jail in 2000 for cheque fraud involving 2.14 million yuan. He had already served a year in jail before his conviction, and he remained behind bars until 2010. "I'm happier now; at least I have my freedom back. But I don't want to speak more because being jailed is not something I'm proud of," Huang told the South China Morning Post yesterday. "I'm collecting more evidence, and I want to see those who framed me penalised. I would much rather live without the compensation if justice could be served." However, his Beijing-based lawyer, Yang Xuelin, said the odds of anyone being held accountable for framing Huang were slim. The exoneration "was not a procedural outcome, but simply a stroke of luck", Yang said. "It will not open the floodgates. We probably won't see another [exoneration] anytime soon, because this country's justice system has no mechanism to correct mistakes." The Guangdong Higher People's Court on Monday awarded Huang 665,889 yuan for his loss of freedom, and 160,000 yuan for psychological and emotional distress, The Southern Metropolis News reported yesterday. "No amount of money can justify the loss of freedom, but this outcome is still better than in many other cases of judicial injustice", where convicted people won't even get the chance to be exonerated, Yang said. Since his exoneration on July 19, 2010, Huang has married and had a son. It's a second chance for which he fought hard. Huang began the appeal process in 2001. [...] In September last year, Yang applied for 2.18 million yuan in compensation for wrongful imprisonment and the the economic and psychological harm he suffered. Under the amended state compensation law, which went into effect in December 2010, compensation for loss of freedom is calculated on a daily basis and according to the average daily wage in the area where the person holds residency. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing on high alert for party's national congress (SCMP)
2012-10-31
Municipal government agencies and public utilities in Beijing were put on high alert yesterday to ensure everything goes smoothly in the capital during the Communist Party's 18th national congress, scheduled to open on Thursday next week. The official Beijing Daily reported that the municipal government convened a video conference on Monday about an emergency response mechanism covering water, electricity, gas and heating supplies and traffic and fire safety. The system was launched at 9am yesterday and will continue until 9am on November 16, two days after the expected close of the week-long party congress. During Monday's conference, Beijing vice-mayor Li Shixiang called on people from all walks of life in the capital to spare no effort in ensuring the security and smooth running of the party congress, it said. It added that during the final meeting of the party's outgoing Central Committee, which opens tomorrow and is likely to last for three or four days, and the five-yearly party congress, relevant units had to implement around-the-clock duty shifts and be ready to attend a video conference within 15 minutes of any emergency. In an effort to safeguard the security of the party congress, which will see a once-a-decade transfer of power at the top of the party, the Ministry of Railways vowed this month to step up security checks and banned all passengers from carrying knives. [...]. ^ top ^

Toy planes targeted in Beijing's newest 'Sparta' rule (SCMP)
2012-11-02
Residents in Beijing now need to present their identification cards to purchase a remote-controlled toy plane, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Thursday. The procedure is almost as strict as boarding a real airplane. Authorities apparently regard toy planes more “threatening” than real ones. Perhaps it is because toy planes can be harder for the police to monitor – plus, these pilots don't need any licence. So when toy planes do take over the skies of Tiananmen Square, police can now track the buyer or arrest the seller if no ID is registered. The toy plane announcement comes just days before the opening of 18th party congress on November 8. [...] The music industry in China is also falling victim to the newest “Sparta” rules. (“Sparta”, which sounds like shi ba da, is the nickname for the 18th party congress, used by Chinese netizens to get around government censors.) Popular lyricist Gao Xiaosong wrote on his Weibo that major TV stations have began banning songs with the word “die” or “down” in it because of fears over bad luck. [...] Popular Sina weibo user Zuoyeben made a list of new “Sparta” rules in Beijing: 1.Knives and scissors are forbidden on trains. 2.Travellers' crotches are subjected to airport security check up. 3.Passengers need to fill out a form for taxi rides on Chang An Street. 4.Rear windows of taxis can no longer be opened. 5.Music concerts are postponed. 6.Knives are no longer for sale. 7.Outdoor shootings of big motion pictures are postponed. 8.Releasing balloons is banned. 9.Private jets are forbidden to fly. 10.Trucks are banned within Beijing's 5th Ring road. 11.ID cards are required to buy remote-controlled toy planes. 12.Schools are forbidden to organise field trips. 13.Massage salons are asked to remain open in the evenings. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai to open maritime investigation lab in 2013 (Global Times)
2012-10-28
China's first laboratory devoted to investigating maritime accidents will open by the end of next year, the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration announced Friday. Investigators will use the laboratory, which has been under construction since Friday, to analyze the causes of serious accidents that involve the loss of lives and property, including ship collisions, explosions, oil spills and sinkings, the administration stated in a press release. The laboratory will make investigating maritime accidents faster and more scientific, said Chen Xiaoguang, deputy director of the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration. "In the past, we had to rely on personal judgments when dealing with a maritime accident," Chen told the Global Times. "It would take us a long time to go to the site of an accident to question the involved parties or to look for evidence from a video of the event. Once the laboratory is built, we will be able to use paint or trace analysis and accident simulation technology, all of which is faster and more objective." He added that the laboratory will strengthen Shanghai's position as an international shipping center. ogy and train researchers.[...] The laboratory will run out of eight offices, all with a different specialization. The Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration will operate the four offices that specialize in paint and trace analysis, electronic evidence analysis, accident simulation, document identification and human factor analysis. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangzhou to replace local 'goon squads' with citywide force (SCMP)
2012-11-01
Guangzhou plans to set up 30,000-strong auxiliary police force to replace its notorious local security squads, although some residents are sceptical about how much the move will do to end abuses of power. The programme - dubbed "Silver Shield" by the Guangzhou police - would create a citywide force of baton-carrying officers to supplement Guangzhou's regular police force of more than 30,000. The plan, reported by The Southern Metropolis News yesterday, is awaiting approval from the city government and is expected to be enacted next year. Squads now hired by sub-districts, towns and villages and communities have long been criticised for poor training and management. Brutality and abuses of power have been blamed for igniting or escalating incidents of unrest, including the riot last year in Zengcheng.The auxiliary force would receive 30 per cent of its funding from the city, with the rest being shouldered by district governments. Its members would be recruited and overseen directly by the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau, which would assign them to various community security details and patrols. Each auxiliary police officer would be equipped with a baton and a stab-resistant uniform. Guangzhou-based rights lawyer Tang Jingling said it believed the move was just an attempt by the government to gain greater control to tackle social instability. He said all law enforcement should by carried out by fully trained police officers. "Polishing up a new security squad is a superficial means to treat boiling social tension," Tang said. "The government needs to be more sensitive to public opinion in the first place and address their issues, not by means of control." Internet users expressed concern about funding the new force and questioned whether it would only lead to more abuse. "It's only a change of name and re-outfitting local thugs and triads with a sub-police uniform," said an internet user using the name Reformist Comrade Gecheng. "They are the same thing after all.". ^ top ^

Shenzhen plans charge on second children born in Hong Kong (SCMP)
2012-11-02
Shenzhen plans to plug a loophole in its family planning regulations and charge those who give birth to a second child in Hong Kong or overseas more than 200,000 yuan (HK$246,000), state media reported yesterday. Xinhua said the standing committee of the city's people's congress had decided recently that social maintenance fees - more commonly known as extra-child penalties - would be imposed on residents of the city who violated the mainland's family planning policy. Many Shenzhen residents had been choosing to deliver their second child in Hong Kong or Macau, hoping to evade the penalty, the report said. The original regulations did not specify if second children born overseas were subject to penalties, and many people had tried to take advantage of the grey area. The report said the new policy, which will come into effect on January 1, would apply to couples where one or both partners was resident in Shenzhen. They would be required to pay the penalty when registering their child's permanent residency in Shenzhen or if the child had lived in Shenzhen for more than 18 months in the past two years. It said Shenzhen's social maintenance fee for those giving birth to an extra child this year was nearly 220,000 yuan. Hundreds of microbloggers have attacked the change to the regulation. Some lashed out at the "lousy government for doing nothing but imposing fines on ordinary people". Others said the family planning policy was a violation of human rights that should be abolished immediately. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Seven Tibetans burn themselves in anti-Beijing protests (SCMP)
2012-10-28
A total of seven Tibetans have set fire to themselves in the past week in protest against what they claim is heavy-handed Chinese rule in the Himalayan region, a human rights group said in a statement issued late on Saturday. Cousins Tsepo, 20, and Tenzin, 25, set themselves aflame outside a government building in Driru County, north of regional capital Lhasa on Thursday, London-based group Free Tibet said. Tsepo died on the way to hospital and Tenzin was taken away by officials, Free Tibet said. His whereabouts are unknown. Last week saw the highest number of self-immolations since the latest wave of anti-China demonstrations began last year, the group said. Since March last year, nearly 60 people have set themselves on fire in protest against Beijing. At least half of them have died. “It has taken two days for information about this latest protest to emerge,” Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said in a statement. “Across Tibet, the Chinese state is employing force and intimidation to quell calls for freedom and suppress information about protests.” China has branded the self-immolators “terrorists” and criminals, and has blamed the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dalai Lama, for inciting them. [...] Activists say China tramples on religious freedom and culture in Tibet, which has been ruled with an iron rod since the 1950 takeover. China rejects such criticism, saying its rule ended serfdom and brought development to a backward area. ^ top ^

All Tibet villages to have electricity by year-end (Xinhua)
2012-10-29
A solar power project is expected to bring electricity to villages in remote regions of southwest China's Tibet autonomous region, marking one of the final steps in the government's efforts to provide electricity to all rural Tibetans, a government official said Monday. Liu Qinghong, an official with Tibet's Development and Reform Commission, said solar panels will be installed in 1,630 villages in Tibet by the year's end, bringing power for the first time to schools, monasteries, public venues and homes in remote Tibet. The "Golden Sun" solar project, estimated to cost 1 billion yuan (157.5 million U.S. dollars), started in 2008. The government has pushed for full power coverage in Tibet by extending major grids, building small hydropower stations and installing solar panels in remote areas. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang elite cop corps promoted (Global Times)
2012-10-29
An armed police force in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has been elevated in status to hightlight its greater role in the fight against terrorism and maintain social stability, the Xinjiang Daily reported Saturday. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) armed police command was raised to the level "deputy corps command," equaling the rank of armed police forces in most provincial areas. Beijing's armed police force is at the "full corps command" level, one of the country's only two local regions to enjoy this title - the other, the General Armed Police Force in Xinjiang, was promoted to full corps command in 2008 due to its special anti-terrorism geo-political role. The Chinese People's Armed Police Force has undergone a major leadership reshuffle nationwide before the CPC's 18th National Congress. The change in Xinjiang drew greater public attention, as the region has been plagued by terrorists and separatists. [...] Di Ming has been named as the new commander of the XPCC armed force, Xinjiang Daily said. "This promotion stresses this corps' role in anti-terrorism since it is stationed in a strategic border region," Major General Xu Guangyu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times, adding that the change could also improve the efficiency of the local armed police force. "The corps can report directly to the central command in Beijing in which case the time taken to respond to emergencies will be shortened," Xu said. Besides a reshuffle in Xinjiang, armed police forces in Shanghai, Hainan, Zhejiang, Guangxi, Shanxi, Shandong and Heilongjiang have also welcomed new chiefs over the last week. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Teachers to retire early as secondary intake shrinks (SCMP)
2012-10-30
About 700 secondary school teachers are expected to join the next round of a voluntary retirement scheme as pupil numbers shrink. The Education Bureau will seek funding from the Legislative Council in the coming weeks to finance the scheme, although officials have not revealed how much it will cost. Because of a drop in the birth rate 12 years ago, the next intake for secondary schools is expected to drop by 5,000 and to drop further until 2017, when a rebound is foreseen. By that time, secondary schools' annual intake will be down by 11,000, officials say. School principals and others say the government should seize the opportunity to implement small-class teaching. The bureau discounted the sustainability of such a move. "This is just a temporary issue," a bureau spokeswoman said. "[By implementing small-class education], does it mean we will have to add more schools in future? As we are aware, finding land has been difficult. Putting up a school takes six to seven years." The spokeswoman said the bureau's goals were to prevent schools from closing due to shrinking intakes and maintain teaching manpower to cater for a future increase in population. The bureau said eight out of more than 400 secondary schools had closed since 2006 because of falling numbers. Last year, 200 popular secondary schools agreed to cut by one the number of Form One classes in order to divert pupils to other schools. Legislator Ip Kin-yuen, of the education sector, said the government should grasp the "golden opportunity" to have smaller classes. As government grants to schools are determined by the number of classes they run, a reduction would further strain resources and increase teacher workload, Ip said. "[Cutting classes] cannot solve the problems of schools," said Ip, who is collecting signatures from lawmakers to press the government to back smaller classes. It will be discussed in a special meeting of Legco's education panel on Friday. In 2005, the education authorities sought HK$500 million to embark on the first round of the voluntary retirement scheme. By September last year, 758 secondary school teachers had signed up. [...]. ^ top ^

High rents force consulates out of Central district (SCMP)
2012-10-31
The high cost of renting an office in Hong Kong is forcing more consulates out of core districts. At least three have relocated recently or are planning to do so. The consulate of Sweden has moved from the Hong Kong Club Building in Central to the Bank of East Asia Harbour View Centre in Wan Chai, while the Romanian consulate has shifted from the Lippo Centre in Admiralty to 148 Electric Road in North Point. The Canadian consulate is also moving. It decided several months ago to move its visa department from Exchange Square in Central to the DCH Commercial Centre in Quarry Bay. Hong Kong remains the priciest office market in the world. The cost of occupying an office fell 17.2 per cent to US$249 per sq ft per annum in the first quarter year-on-year, the largest decrease in all global markets. But this was still 11 per cent more expensive than the West End of London, which ranks second at US$220, and 33 per cent ahead of Tokyo at US$186, according to a CBRE report released yesterday. "One European country saw the rent for its consulate in Hong Kong rise by 60 per cent when the two-year tenancy expired recently," a Hong Kong-based Western diplomat said, without naming the country. "The problem of soaring rent has emerged as a hot issue in diplomatic circles in Hong Kong." [...] Estimates based on GDP growth projections show the city could face a big shortage of grade A office space by the end of the decade, the report warned, with the projected increase in supply of 8 million square feet less than half the 17 million sq ft needed. [...]. ^ top ^

Love China or leave, Lu Ping tells Hong Kong's would-be secessionists (SCMP)
2012-11-01
"Those who do not recognise they are Chinese should look at what is written on their passports or they should renounce their Chinese nationality." So says Lu Ping, former director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. "Our country, which has a population of 1.3 billion, would not be bothered losing this handful of people," Lu stated in an exchange of email with the South China Morning Post. Lu made the comments when attacking people in the city who do not want to acknowledge their nationality. Under the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China, people can apply to renounce their nationality if they are a close relative of a foreign national, are settled abroad, or for other legitimate reasons. Lu told the Post he noted some people had waved the British flag and held up posters calling for "Hong Kong independence" at a recent protest in the city. "They claim the only way out for Hong Kong is to become an independent nation," he said. It was the second time Lu has commented on calls for Hong Kong independence. In a letter to the Post on October 12 he said "these guys who advocate for Hong Kong independence are sheer morons". "Deprived of support from the mainland, Hong Kong would be a dead city." Lu said it was good his remarks had triggered controversy. Last week, Lu's former deputy, Chen Zuoer, said "the rise of a pro-independence force in Hong Kong is spreading like a virus" and should be dealt with firmly. [...] Dickson Cheung - the spokesman of a group that has set up a Facebook page called "We are Hongkongers, not Chinese" - had this to say in response to Lu's latest attack on those who did not want to acknowledge their Chinese nationality: "We do not even want an SAR [Special Administrative Region] passport. But what can we do?" [..]. ^ top ^

Education minister admits Hong Kong faces crisis on international school places (SCMP)
2012-11-01
The city is expected to face an acute shortage of 4,200 international primary school places by 2016 despite a planned expansion in the next five years, the education chief said yesterday. The shortage will hit expatriate parents and those planning to relocate to Hong Kong. Many are already complaining of problems having their children educated, despite the official line that places are available. It is the first time the Education Bureau has acknowledged that demand could exceed supply in the next few years. [...] Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim told Legco that by 2016 the city would need at least 4,200 more places at primary international schools. The estimated increase accounts for 11 per cent of the 37,000 primary and secondary international school places currently available, including 16,900 in secondary schools. Officials say only 89 per cent of current places are taken up. "Next year we target to have 1,000 more places. We hope to do it year by year," he said. But British Chamber of Commerce executive director Christopher Hammerbeck said there was already a shortage of places. The problem had "defeated" the business community as it affected both people who now live in Hong Kong and those planning to move here. "This is not an education issue any more. It's a business issue. This is a strong case for adding facilities," he said. [...] Civic Party legislator Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok said Ng had failed to implement the policy manifesto of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who pledged to find solutions to the problem. The government has said there will be an increase of 5,000 international school places in the coming years, but that includes secondary school places and places that will be available only in the longer-term. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Three Taiwan ex-officers arrested in spy case (SCMP)
2012-10-29
Taiwan said on Monday that three retired military officers have been arrested on suspicion of leaking military secrets to Beijing, in one of the island's worst espionage cases. Chang Chih-hsin, formerly the chief officer in charge of political warfare at the naval METOC (meteorology and oceanography) office, has been arrested, the defence ministry said in a statement. “Chang, who initiated contacts with Chinese mainland officials while still serving in the navy, was suspected of luring his former colleagues and making illegal gains,” it said. Defence ministry spokesman David Lo confirmed two other former military officers have also been arrested in the case. Lo did not say what kind of military information Chang allegedly sold to China but played down the possible damage to Taiwan's security, saying “Chang had had limited access to sensitive information of the naval METOC”. But the Taipei-based broadsheet Apple Daily said a total of eight former military officers had been arrested in the case. It quoted a retired naval general as saying the naval METOC kept highly classified information such as mapping and charting publications of the meteorological and oceanographic battle environment. The information has been used by the island's submarines and other warships, the paper said. “If China had the classified info, it could be able to be aware of the operation of Taiwan's submarines,” the retired naval general warned. [...] In July last year, a Taiwanese general lured by a honey trap into spying for China was sentenced to life in prison in one of the island's worst spying cases for half a century. [...]. ^ top ^

Taiwan cuts 2012 growth forecast again (SCMP)
2012-11-01
Taiwan yesterday cut its growth forecast for this year for a ninth time in just over a year as Europe's woes, concerns over the United States economy and mainland China's slowdown kept third-quarter growth below forecasts. But bright spots suggest the economy might have bottomed out. The economy grew a preliminary 1.02 per cent in the third quarter year on year, the statistics agency said, below the median forecast in a poll for 1.55 per cent growth, and up 0.86 per cent from the previous quarter. But persistent global concerns saw the full-year forecast cut to 1.05 per cent from 1.66 per cent. But economists said the economy appeared to be turning the corner and heading towards a modest recovery. "Taiwan is recovering but at a slow pace," Yuanta Securities economist Aidan Wang said. "We forecast a 3-4 per cent growth in Q4. This should be the last time the government revises down full-year GDP because the economy has reached the bottom. From Q4 to Q2 next year the growth will be better on a low base effect." Taiwan is one of the most exposed among Asian exporting economies to fluctuations in overseas demand, particularly for high-technology items. Europe's prolonged debt crisis, mainland China's slowdown and an uncertain recovery in the US have been putting a big dampener on demand. Its exports fell for six consecutive months to August, as did orders for its exports, a leading indicator of demand. [...]. ^ top ^

Taiwan wins visa free travel to US (SCMP)
2012-11-02
Six Taiwanese tourists arrived in New York on Thursday as the first from their disputed island to be allowed to visit the United States without visas, officials said. Taiwan is the first territory of any kind which does not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States to get visa waiver status, said its de facto ambassador in New York, Andrew Kao. The visa breakthrough is also a diplomatic victory for the Taipei government against China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan and vigorously lobbies to stop international recognition of its government. “This is indicative of the solid relationship between Taiwan and the United States, as well as the concrete accomplishment of Taiwan's viable diplomacy,” said Kao, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York. He estimated that the visa waiver will increase the number of Taiwanese tourists to the United States from 400,000 to 600,000 a year. Steve Chang, general manager of Taiwanese carrier China Airlines, said that booking had increased significantly since the visa waiver was announced last month. Although Taiwan is only recognised by 25 countries around the world, its officials said Taiwanese can now travel to 129 countries without a visa. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

New policies support ailing solar industry (Xinhua)
2012-10-28
China is creating supportive measures to shore up its ailing photovoltaic (PV) industry, which has been rocked by recent U.S. duties on Chinese exports over alleged dumping. In the latest attempt, State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), the country's largest state-owned utility company, announced a plan to allow small-scale distributed solar power generators to connect to its power lines. Under the plan, SGCC will allow solar power generators with less than 6 megawatts of installed capacity to be connected to the grid. SGCC will also provide technological assistance and waive charges associated with connecting to the grid, Wang Xiangqin, SGCC deputy chief economist, said. The move will boost domestic demand and buoy the solar industry, which had heavily relied on overseas markets, analysts said. Connecting distributed solar power to the national grid is a "crucial step" in removing obstacles that have contained the development of China's solar industry, said Shi Lishan, deputy director of the new and renewable energy department of the National Energy Administration (NEA). Connecting to the national power grid has been difficult for many solar power companies, as there are numerous obstacles preventing them from easily doing so. China's push for more renewable energy has created thorny integration issues for the operators of the country's bulk-power network because of a lack of control and variability in energy resources. Distributed generation, however, will offer a solution. Compared with centralized generation, which connects distant solar or wind facilities to customers, distributed generation will cause less damage to the grid and decrease transmission losses, said Lai Xiaokang from the China Electric Power Research Institute. Chinese solar companies, which are facing punitive tariffs stemming from anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes launched in both the U.S. and Europe, are pleased to hear the news. [...]. ^ top ^

China banks leaving London to escape tougher rules (SCMP)
2012-10-29
Chinese banks are shifting the focus of their European business away from London towards Luxembourg as they seek to escape tougher British regulation, the Financial Times said on Monday. The newspaper said Chinese banks had complained to the British government over what they called uneven regulation and “rigorously demanding” liquidity rules in a recent letter. “They are finding it increasingly difficult to operate in the UK under the current regulatory environment,” the banks said in the letter, which was sent on their behalf by the Association of Foreign Banks, according to the Financial Times. State-owned banks, including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China, have all set up shop in London since the global financial crisis, it added. The Financial Times quoted the letter as saying one Chinese bank already routed three times more business through Luxembourg than London, and several others planned to manage its European operations from Luxembourg, known for lighter regulation. Chinese banks' main problem is that Britain's Financial Services Authority refuses to allow them to set up branches in London, the paper said. The watchdog had allowed many fewer branches since 2008, especially in cases where it was unsatisfied with regulatory levels in the home country. Chinese banks operate in Britain via subsidiaries, which are regulated in the same way as a local bank – with tight standards on transparency, capital cushions and liquidity buffers, the newspaper said. Branches, however, were extended arms of overseas banks over which the British watchdog had limited control. ^ top ^

Farmers allowed to use pigs, cows as collateral (China Daily)
2012-10-30
If animal breeders in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, are finding it difficult to prove they can pay back a loan, they now can use pigs and cows as collateral. To make it easier for such people to borrow, Wenzhou city government has decided to allow poultry and livestock to be offered as security in loan deals. The policy's goal is to help breeders who now face obstacles to obtaining the loans they need to run and expand their farms. "This is a way to assist farmers and will provide financial support to help ensure their farms operate more efficiently and that they can make greater profits from their businesses," said Huang Fanglei, director of the Wenzhou agriculture bureau's rural financial services department. Huang said the policy will help farmers who lacked collateral under former rules obtain loans from lending agencies or rural credit cooperatives. Because the land that breeders have their farms on is owned by the government, they cannot use it as a pledge of security in a loan deal. In early October, the city government approved a plan allowing breeders to offer a specified number of poultry and livestock animals such as pigs and cows as collateral. In return, they can receive loans that are worth up to as much as 80 percent of the assessed value of the animals they offer as security. The conditions the animals were raised in, their likely market value and how the potential borrower plans to make use of the money he seeks will all affect how long the loans last. "One of the biggest difficulties for farmers is that they don't have enough cash to expand their farms and make greater profits," said Xiang Yanrun, director of the Wenzhou animal husbandry bureau's animal husbandry department. "That will soon change under this plan." [...]. ^ top ^

Injection eases 'hot money' fears (Global Times)
2012-10-31
Worries about speculative capital inflows into China since the Federal Reserve's third round of quantitative easing, or QE3, have moderated, after China's central bank injected a single-day record amount of cash into the banking system on Tuesday. The People's Bank of China, or PBOC, sank 395 billion yuan ($63 billion) into the market through seven- and 28-day reverse bond repurchase agreements. The seven-day transaction of 290 billion yuan is at an interest rate of 3.35 percent, and the 28-day transaction of 105 billion yuan is at 3.6 percent, it said in an announcement posted on the central bank's official website. "While the PBOC conducted a large amount of reverse repo operations last week, overall market liquidity appeared quite tight, as the amount of matured funds was much bigger," said the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group in a research note. Liu Yuhui, director of the financial lab at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Tuesday's move dismissed market concerns of large amounts of capital flowing into China, which might have left the PBOC having to draw out liquidity, instead of injecting money. "Instead of a capital inflow, the recent hike in the yuan against the dollar was mainly because the central bank didn't sell yuan and purchase foreign currency timely, when the demand for changing foreign currency into yuan by individuals and institutions had increased." Liu added that although there was little evidence of "hot money" - the flow of funds or capital from one country to another, often to earn short-term profits on interest rate differences and changes - coming into the system, it was necessary for the PBOC to manage the market's expectations for the yuan, after its appreciation in recent days. [...]. ^ top ^

China expects sharp rise in oil and gas output (Xinhua)
2012-11-01
China's combined oil and gas output will exceed 600 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 2030, due to substantial increases in geological resources in the country's northeastern region. Oil output is expected to exceed 250 million tonnes in 2030, with gas output likely reach 450 billion cubic meters, Peng Qiming, director of the geological exploration department at the Ministry of Land and Resources, said Thursday. Peng said geological oil resources in the country's northeast areas reached 22.5 billion tonnes at the end of 2011 with recoverable resources standing at 7.2 billion tonnes, up 5.7 billion tonnes and 1.3 billion tonnes, respectively, from 2007. The areas' geological gas resources jumped 127 percent last year from 2007 levels, he said. China, one of the world's largest energy users, added 11.22 billion tonnes of oil reserves and 5.8 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves during the past decade. The country's annual oil output rose to 203 million tonnes in 2011 from 160 million tonnes in 2002, and its gas output increased to 101.3 billion cubic meters last year from 22.9 billion cubic meters ten years ago. ^ top ^

Chinese factories bouncing back, positive PMI shows (SCMP)
2012-11-02
The mainland's manufacturing sector has shown signs of recovery, helped by new orders, raising hopes of a rebound in economic growth in the fourth quarter. Beijing is likely to keep policies in place to boost domestic demand and combat external headwinds, though economists believe the likelihood of stronger stimulus measures has fallen. Manufacturing businesses expanded in October after two months of contraction, according to the purchasing managers index issued yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics, which hit 50.2, up from 49.8. A figure above 50 indicates expansion, while below 50 indicates contraction. The HSBC purchasing managers index for China rose to an eight-month high of 49.5 from 47.9 in September, indicating only "marginal" contraction. The final reading came in better than the preliminary result of 49.1. [...] Bank of America Merrill Lynch now expects no interest rate cut and at most one more cut in banks' reserve ratios this year. "Though we don't expect a big stimulus, policy easing/stimulus is more likely to continue as growth recovery is not solid yet." [...] HSBC said the government's spending may quicken in the fourth quarter, supporting industrial production growth of around 10 per cent after a rise of 9.2 per cent in September. Manufacturers may begin to restock soon, as the new orders index rose above 50 for the first time since May, to 50.4, while a gauge of output rose to 52.1, the official data showed. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Kim Jong-un's wife back in limelight after mystery absence (SCMP)
2012-10-31
The wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reappeared after dropping out of the public eye amid fevered rumours that she was either pregnant or had fallen out of favour. North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said Ri Sol-ju joined her husband at a musical performance and a football match in Pyongyang on Monday. "Marshall Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of the party and the people, came to the spectators' seats accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju. At that moment, thunderous applause broke out," the agency said. [...] The fact he even had a wife was only revealed in July when pictures emerged of a stylish young woman accompanying him at official events. A terse statement from Pyongyang's state television that month confirmed her identity and the fact that the couple were married. Then in early September she dropped from public view just as suddenly as she had appeared. Her absence triggered speculation that she might be pregnant, while some suggested she was doing penance for failing to wear the lapel pin - bearing the image of one or both of the country's late leaders - that all adult North Koreans are required to wear. A photo of the couple at Monday's musical performance showed Ri, wearing a long coat, applauding as Kim saluted the cheering crowd. South Korea's Yonhap news agency stoked the pregnancy rumours by observing that her mid-section appeared swollen. It was not clear if she was wearing a badge under the coat. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Necessary hurdles to complete parliament (UB Post)
2012-10-26
The Parliament has been working with 71 members for the past several months. The Parliament is missing in Songinokhairkhan and the Bayanzurkh district's representation and both of N.Tumurkhuu and S.Chinzorig have already been chosen and issued a temporary membership due the opposition party accusing them of breaking the law and distributing cash to the elector's hands—which has been filed in court. The other two districts have one seat in the parliament and the candidates have not been able to gain 28 percent of the vote so it must vote again. The court will make decision as to who shall represent the Uvurkhangai province. The local court need to determine whether the candidates broke the election law. Before the 21th of this month, to solve these pending issues, we will receive a new member of parliament, who will be the 71st and 72nd members. There is one member who cannot be guaranteed in his authority, candidate Ts.Oyunbaatar who was chosen by list from MPRP. E.Batshugar has became a vice minister of Mongol bank and must take an oath. With the final results, the parliament will be composed of 76 members in this month. ^ top ^

Mongolian economy to maintain good growth, but faces threats (News.mn)
2012-10-31
Mongolia's economy would grow 11 to 12 percent in 2012 but still faced major challenges, the World Bank said Tuesday. World Bank (WB) Country Manager to Mongolia Coralie Gevers said the main growth sectors were construction, agriculture and communications and it was positive agriculture had finally recovered from the zud (extremely cold and heavy snow weather). However, Gevers warned, although the economy was still growing, it was slowing. The country recorded 17.3 percent growth in 2011. She said industrial production had not been expanding as fast as before, with the mining sector contracting 6 percent in August compared to the previous year. The decline was also reflected in GDP growth from July to the end of September, which registered a 6.5 growth. “There is a positive factor that inflation is also slowing at the same time; however, it is still in double digits,” Gevers said. “In August, inflation was 15 percent for Mongolia and 15.6 percent for the capital city Ulan Bator, which is still quite high.” She said, as long as the county had high fiscal spending, it would have high inflation. The manager also expressed concern over the foreign trade situation. Mongolia's exports had been falling, particularly coal exports to China, she said, adding exports were falling faster than imports, which was leading to a widening trade deficit for Mongolia. “This has also led to a depreciation of the tugrik. The Bank of Mongolia (the country's central bank) has been trying to manage this depreciation and smooth it out,” Gevers said. It had been using its reserves to intervene in international foreign exchange markets to buy tugrik and sell dollars, which led to the reserves' decline, she said. Global demand for minerals was declining, due to the slowing world economy, Gevers said, and Mongolia was particularly at risk due to its heavy dependence on commodities exports, which accounted for nearly 90 percent of its total exports. However, she said the country had advantages in tackling the challenges and realize steady economic growth, including its open economic system and good geographical location next to East Asia, one of the world's fastest growing regions. She said, if Mongolia managed its economy well, it had the potential to realize great economic achievements. Mongolia's economy grew 10.2 percent in the first three quarters of 2012 compared with the same period last year. ^ top ^

Chingis Khaan's Birthday to Become a National Celebration Day (UB Post)
2012-10-31
On the Friday's Parliament meeting has approved an amendment to the Law regarding Public Celebration and Memorial Day, accordingly Chingis Khaan's birthday was to be celebrated along with the national Independence Day in November. The day is to be a national celebration day, but not a holiday. ^ top ^

Prime Minister Challenges on Recent Air Pollution Initiatives (UB Post)
2012-10-31
According to local media sources, the Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag recently visited the Baganuur Coal Mine and stated: “In order to supply our people with affordable coal, the government will reduce the price of a truck load of coal sized as a ‘porter (Hyundai Porter – pickup truck)' load which is normally priced at 250 thousand MNT to 100 thousand MNT. The affordable coal will be available to the public in 14 days. This coal will not have any waste materials and will be large or medium-grained. The plans for the job have already been approved.” The budget-priced coal will be put into sacks of 40 kg and will be sold for 3200 MNT in khoroos. Twenty-five of the 40 kg sacks make up a ton which will be sold at 80 thousand MNT. This means consumers will be able to buy coal almost three times more cheaply than before, according to the Prime Minister's senior advisor. On Friday, the Prime Minister spoke with the administrators to Ulaanbaatar Railway shareholders to discuss the transportation of the coal from the Baganuur Coal Mine set for public use. The administrators said that they are able to use 28 wagons for the task and will increase the number during the winter. This number of wagons can transport 52 thousand ton coal per month and 338 thousand ton within six months to supply the estimated 126 thousand households located in the capital city that consume coal. They also discussed the cost of coal transportation and pricing and issued guidelines to the government on how to supply a ton of coal which was previously sold for 200 thousand MNT and reduced to 80 thousand MNT. ^ 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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