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
  10-16.11.12, No. 449  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China opposes double standard on human rights (Xinhua)
2012-11-10
The international community must reject politicization of and double standard on human rights in order to tackle the challenges facing the global cause, a senior Chinese UN envoy said here Thursday. While addressing the Third Committee of the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly on human rights, Wang Min, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, also called for efforts to enhance human rights dialogue and cooperation. "International human rights endeavor continues to be plagued by double standard and politicization," the envoy said to the committee, which is in charge of social, humanitarian and cultural affairs. "Some countries are keen on criticizing developing countries and interfering in their internal affairs by using human rights as a pretext," Wang added. Certain countries, he noted, always turn a blind eye to human rights violations at home, but are enthusiastic about pressuring developing countries with country-specific human rights issues and creating confrontation in the international human rights arena. "This has undermined mutual trust among countries and impeded human rights cooperation," said the representative. "China is firmly opposed to such practice and urges those countries to reflect more on their own record and stop their self-righteous lecturing and finger-pointing." [...] China, he said, also urges the international community to eliminate all forms of discrimination, protect vulnerable groups to ensure equality and dignity for all, and further improve the work of the UN in the field of human rights. [...]. ^ top ^

China to ramp up development on disputed Paracel island (SCMP)
2012-11-11
China is to ramp up development on a disputed South China Sea island, a local government chief has said, in a move likely to stoke a growing territorial row with its neighbours. The development of roads, water supply and drainage systems will be stepped-up in the new “capital” city of Sansha on Yongxing, one of the islands that make up the disputed Paracel chain, Luo Baoming, Communist Party secretary of southern Hainan Province told state television on Saturday. Luo also said steps will also be taken to enforce China's “legal rights” in the region, which includes other island chains which are the subject of competing claims by Asian countries. Beijing enraged Vietnam and caused concern in Washington when it announced the establishment of a new city and military garrison at Sansha in July. The island, under the control of Hainan province, will have administrative control over a region that encompasses not only the Paracels, but Macclesfield Bank, a largely sunken atoll to the east, and the Spratly Islands to the south. The sovereignty of each remains a matter of dispute. “To safeguard our legal rights in the South China Sea, we are now coordinating between the relevant departments in order to set a more unified, and efficient law enforcing body,” Luo said. [...]. ^ top ^

China slams West's 'distorted' view of copyright piracy (SCMP)
2012-11-11
China's top official in charge of fighting copyright piracy on Sunday slammed what he said was deliberate distortion of the problem by the Western media caused by the country's poor global image, saying important facts had been ignored. Foreign governments, including the United States, have for years urged China to take a stronger stand against pervasive violations of intellectual property rights on products ranging from medicines to software to DVD movies sold on the street. [...] But Tian Lipu, head of China's State Intellectual Property Office, said the government's efforts were being ignored. “Speaking honestly, there is a market. People use and buy pirated goods,” Tian told reporters on the sidelines of a landmark Communist Party congress. [...] “China's image overseas is very poor. As soon as people hear China they think or piracy and counterfeiting – [Beijing's] Sanlitun, that place in Shanghai, Luohu in Shenzhen,” he said, referring to places notorious for selling fake goods. “We don't deny [this problem], and we are continuing to battle against it,” Tian added. But other facts were overlooked, he said. “For example, China is the world's largest payer for patent rights, for trademark rights, for royalties, and one of the largest for buying real software,” he said. “We pay the most. People rarely talk about this, but it really is a fact. Our government offices, our banks, our insurance companies, our firms... the software is all real.” Microsoft and other members of the Business Software Alliance in the United States complain that nearly 80 per cent of the software installed on personal computers in China is pirated. [...] The International Intellectual Property Alliance, a US coalition of film, software, music and publishing groups, estimates that US companies lost more than US$15 billion in 2009 due to international copyright theft. About US$14 billion of the total was due to software piracy, with an estimated US $3.5 billion in losses in China and US$1.4 billion in Russia. ^ top ^

Warships adapted for Diaoyu patrol duties (Global Times)
2012-11-13
A number of warships in active service will reportedly be adapted and transferred to the China Marine Surveillance (CMS) authorities, which analysts believe will help bridge the gap between Chinese and Japanese patrol vessels. The move will reinforce Chinese maritime strength amid territorial rows surrounding the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Conventionally, the People's Liberation Army Navy hands over only retired warships to the CMS. However, the Hong Kong-based Ming Pao newspaper reported Sunday that the vessels, which are expected to be transferred soon, are in active service, and the handover was a result of adjustments by the central authorities because of recent developments. [...] The new warships, which have had their weapons dismantled, could improve the performance of China's law enforcement vessels. In the most recent case, the guided missile destroyer Nanjing, which came into service in 1986 and retired this September, will be handed over to the CMS. The Nanjing can sail at 35 nautical miles per hour, while the most advanced marine surveillance vessels currently in service can only reach 20 nautical miles per hour. Lan Yun, a senior editor with the military magazine Modern Ships, told the Global Times Monday that in addition to speed, the adapted destroyers and frigates are also stronger in the face of a confrontation. "However, those warships are too old and are expected to retire in three or five years," said Lan. "New models of destroyers and frigates keep replacing the old ones. So the authority may choose to transfer some warships to meet the growing demand of law enforcement missions," he said. Amid growing antagonism, both China and Japan are working to upgrade their maritime law enforcement fleets. The Japan Coast Guard is set to receive more patrol ships, boats and helicopters under the government's 422.6 billion yen ($5.3 billion) economic stimulus package authorized last month. In China, 36 large-tonnage vessels are under construction, and will be put into service in one or two years. China now has over 400 marine surveillance vessels, only 27 of which are above 1,000 tons. Despite the construction of new patrol vessels, Lan admitted that China still lags behind Japan in designing and constructing new ships, noting that China's large tonnage vessels were not put into active service until 2006. [...]. ^ top ^

China opposes support for Dalai Lama (China Daily)
2012-11-14
China has lodged protests against the Japanese government for its tolerance of the Dalai Lama's anti-China separatist activities in Japan. Analysts say the collusion of the Dalai Lama and the growing number of Japanese right-wing forces will add tension to already strained China-Japan relations. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei condemned the Japanese right-wing forces' "blatant support of the Dalai Lama's anti-China separatist activities", which have "infringed upon China's internal affairs". "The Japanese government's laissez-faire attitude toward the Dalai Lama and right-wing forces is against the principle and spirit of China-Japan strategic relations of mutual benefit," Hong told a daily news briefing. Hong was responding to a speech that the Dalai Lama delivered to about 140 members of the Japanese Parliament at the Upper House members' office building in Tokyo on Tuesday morning. Participants of the gathering also announced plans to establish a so-called coalition among Japanese lawmakers to "support" Tibet separatists. Analysts said the Dalai Lama is courting Tokyo's support for his secessionist activities by meddling in the territorial row between the two countries over the Diaoyu Islands, while many political factions in Japan now are trying to establish a hawkish image over the issue to arouse increasing nationalism at home. Hong reiterated that Tibet is an inalienable part of China, and "the Dalai Lama is a political exile who has long engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the cloak of religion". "We firmly oppose the provision of support by any country or any person to the Dalai Lama's anti-China separatist activities," he said. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing expected to keep same policy towards Taipei (SCMP)
2012-11-14
Beijing said its policy toward Taipei would not change any time soon, despite outgoing general secretary Hu Jintao's call for "cross-strait political relations" in his report to the party congress last week. Ye Kedong, deputy director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, told Taiwanese media that Beijing would for the next five to 10 years stick to its policy of seeking economic and cultural exchanges while setting aside stickier matters. Ye said the Communist Party's commitment to a peaceful development of cross-strait ties would not change, even after Hu hands control of the party to Vice-President Xi Jinping on Thursday. "We will continue to stick to the set path of tackling the easily resolved issues before the difficult ones in dealing with cross-strait relations," Ye was quoted as by Taiwanese media as saying on Monday night. The message appeared aimed at easing anxiety on Taiwan, as Ye told the reporters that mainland leaders had taken note of reaction by Taiwan commentators and experts to Hu's report on cross-strait relations at the opening of the party's 18th congress. In it, Hu called for Beijing and Taipei to explore cross-strait political relations and make reasonable arrangements for them under the special condition that the two sides are yet to be reunified. He went on to suggest that the two sides discuss setting up a mechanism to improve military ties and ensure stability. He also advocated a consultative peace process to advance the growth of cross-strait relations. Hu's remarks were widely seen, both in Taiwan and on the mainland, as an indication that Beijing's next leaders would begin a gradual push for greater political dialogues with Taipei, which it regards as a breakaway province. Hu's remarks triggered jitters in Taiwan, with the pro-independence camp warning that the authoritarian mainland might soon force the democratic, self-governed island into reunification talks. Mainland-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou and his administration responded by emphasising that time was not yet ripe for the two sides to hold political dialogues, such as setting up a military mutual trust mechanism or entering a peace pact. [...]. ^ top ^

China welcomes proposed freezing of EU carbon tax on airlines: FM spokesman (Xinhua)
2012-11-13
A Foreign Ministry spokesman on Tuesday said China approves of a possible freeze for the carbon emission tax on airlines proposed by the EU Commission. "We have noticed a relevant official's remarks and we welcome the freeze," spokesman Hong Lei said. The commission on Monday proposed freezing the carbon emission tax on non-EU flights for a year. Flights within the EU will still be taxed for carbon emissions. The European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) system requires all airlines flying in EU airspace to pay a tax on 15 percent of their total carbon emissions for 2012, a move that has triggered global opposition. EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said she agreed to stop the clock on the tax, adding that she hopes a meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will result in an alternative global agreement to tackle airline emissions. If negotiators fail to reach a consensus after one year, the charges could be reimposed immediately, she said. Hong said China believes that the international community should deal with climate change through multilateral mechanisms, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in accordance with the principles and rules of the convention. However, Hong stressed that China will not accept the EU Commission's attempts to link its unilateral policy with global processes. He added that China will continue to work with all countries to actively deal with climate change through multilateral mechanisms, such as the UN convention and the ICAO. ^ top ^

Beijing blasts call for cyber espionage inquiry (China Daily)
2012-11-15
China on Wednesday accused a US congressional advisory panel of "indulging in a Cold War mentality" as the panel urged an in-depth assessment into cyberattacks from China and investments by State-owned companies in the United States. Analysts warned that friction is rising between the world's two biggest economies as their competition becomes more intense along with growing interdependence on each other. In its annual report, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission on Wednesday advised the US Congress on the national security implications of the relationship between the two countries, including China's cyber-capabilities, military and investments, The Associated Press reported. Accusing the commission of "indulging in a Cold War mentality", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said during a regular news conference on Wednesday that "China urges the commission to respect facts, abandon its prejudice, stop interfering in China's internal affairs and hurting the Sino-US relationship". The commission recommends that Congress conduct an in-depth assessment into so-called Chinese cyber-espionage practices, according to AP. The report also said China's State-sponsored actors continue to exploit US government, military, industrial and nongovernmental computer systems, and that "Chinese exploitation capabilities are improving significantly", AP reported. Hong said the accusations on China's cyber-activities are "groundless". "China is opposed to cyberattacks in any form and has enacted laws on this issue," Hong said, adding that China is also a major victim of such attacks. "China believes the issue should be dealt with by constructive international cooperation based on mutual trust. In fact, China and the US have already started cooperating in fighting against cybercrimes." The commission, Hong said, "repeatedly issues these irresponsible and misleading reports, and it does not help resolve the issue of cyberattacks or help the two countries establish mutual trust on cybersecurity". Congress set up the commission with the aim of reviewing US policies on China since China attained most-favored-nation treatment in 1980, according to Zhang Yanyu, an expert on US studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. Since its establishment in 2000, the commission has frequently held hearings and investigations, which are kept low-profile but show a clear anti-China stance, Zhang wrote in an article published in International Data Information, a periodical on international affairs. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Bloggers ridicule congress delegates' sycophantic speeches (SCMP)
2012-11-12
Self-important party delegates attending the national congress have become the target of ridicule online on the mainland blogosphere. Some delegates, while discussing a report delivered by party chief Hu Jintao when the congress began on Thursday, were criticised for sycophantic speeches that served to attract attention to themselves, without offering any insight into the country's development. Beijing delegate Ju Xiaolin, in remarks praising Hu, said he wrote a poem, entitled "Getting New Hope", expressing the views of ordinary workers such as himself. He started reading, but quickly became choked up at the beginning and needed a few seconds to collect himself. "I found … I found … I found new hope on November 8 when I heard applause as loud as a thunderstorm when President Hu was delivering his report," Ju said. "I have finally found … new hope in his 64-page report." Ningxia delegate Li Jian said she was similarly moved by Hu's report, saying the party was determined to create a "beautiful" China that focuses on environmental protection. "I shed tears five times when listening to President Hu's report," Li said, adding that she was "proud to be Chinese, and fortunate to be a Ningxia resident". Most online users, however, were unmoved by the delegates' remarks and instead questioned whether their tears were sincere. One microblog post said Li appeared to be trying to further her political career, one tear at a time. Another said: "Political meetings in other countries are for discussing serious issues. But in China, they are carnivals." [...] And at a meeting of the Guangdong delegates, Du Xiaojuan said she was so excited that she needed to stand up to make her remarks. The province's party chief, Wang Yang, started laughing and interrupted by saying: "Maybe if you sit down you can slow your heart rate." To which Du replied, "I am fine, thanks." [...] One mainland political observer said that it is has long been the habit of delegates, seeking to advance their political careers, to make empty remarks and praise leaders. "Some delegates are just not qualified enough," said Professor Zhu Lijia of the Chinese Academy of Governance. ^ top ^

Beijing blames local administrations for opposition to industrial projects (SCMP)
2012-11-13
Environment minister Zhou Shengxian yesterday blamed poor management by local authorities for the rising tide of protests against big industrial projects over the past year. Zhou said the central government would seek to improve transparency and expand public participation when making decisions about industrial projects and would require assessments on their risks to social stability. "The phenomenon of 'not in my backyard' movements is coming to China … as the country is in a very sensitive period regarding environmental issues," Zhou said in Beijing. [...] Zhou blamed poor transparency and weak governance by some local administrations, adding that some unpopular projects were proceeding without central government approval. He said his ministry in September started requesting that complete reports from environmental reviews be posted online. Previously, only summaries of such reports were made public. The State Council has also ordered that all key industrial projects be assessed for their social stability risks, Zhou said, without elaborating. The assessment should classify a project's risk as high, medium or low. Those categorised as high or medium risks would not be approved by the National Development and Reform Commission, according to a source from an oil company who spoke in the condition of anonymity. Those projects deemed to be of low risk should also prepare measures to defuse any potential backlash. But the source questioned the feasibility of the new policy, as the rules set by NDRC for assessing such risks were still very vague. ^ top ^

Mixed reviews for Hu Jintao's delegate reforms (SCMP)
2012-11-13
Communist Party general secretary Hu Jintao's proposal that delegates to party congresses be allowed to put forward motions is being seen by some analysts as a step towards his goal of intra-party democracy. But others say the congress would remain a rubber stamp body, with delegates given little real power. Some party scholars have hailed the development as a significant move towards the intra-party democracy advocated by Hu since he became party chief a decade ago, but independent analysts see it as an effort by the retiring leader to cement his political legacy. "It is one of the most significant steps in regard to the implementation of the reform to introduce intra-party democracy within the ruling party," said Professor Li Zhongquan, a party historian. In his keynote speech at the opening of 18th party congress on Thursday, Hu proposed giving delegates the right to put forward motions, along with other reforms such as expanding competitive elections for the party leadership. [...] Delegates now only have the power to discuss policy documents, like Hu's report. Their most important power is to "elect" their leadership - the party committees at various levels. But elections for the highest tiers of the party are mainly exercises in rubber-stamping candidates already agreed upon by party powerbrokers. [...] Li said intra-party democracy was a prerequisite for democratic development. "If there is no democracy within the ruling party, there is no point talking about democracy for the ordinary people," he said. But Zhang Lifan, an analyst formerly with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the development was meaningless unless the election of delegates themselves was democratic. "If delegates are chosen by party leaders, how can they propose motions based on the will of grass-roots party members or ordinary people." [...]. ^ top ^

IPR pirates face tougher prison terms (Global Times)
2012-11-14
A senior official vowed Monday that China would begin far harsher crackdowns on piracy and that even selling a few pirated items might land fraudsters in prison. This comes as publication authorities have readied an amendment law proposal on copyright protection. Liu Binjie, head of the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), said during the 18th National Congress of the CPC that the draft law would double down on the protection of digital copyright. The amendment to China's Copyright Law will also enhance punitive measures for piracy, he said. For example, illegal vendors caught selling even just one or two pirated copies will be sentenced to jail, as compared to the 600 copies stipulated by current laws. [...] The GAPP established three drafts of the amendment and will submit it to the State Council later this year. The law has been the subject of public debate since the first draft was released in March. Several parts sparked controversy, especially those relating to the protection and compensation levels of copyright holders. Some musicians were displeased as they believed one of the articles in the draft allowed producers to use published musical works under certain conditions without having to obtain consent from the original copyright holder. Lu Jian, secretary-general of the Recording Works Council under the China Musicians Association, who strongly opposed some articles related to the music industry stipulated in the first draft, expressed his support for harsh punishments for piracy. ^ top ^

More hukou reform on horizon (Global Times)
2012-11-14
Experts called for further loosening of the current household registration system to allow more migrant workers to become registered residents of urban areas and enjoy the benefits and privileges offered by the city in which they work and live. Yang Zhiming, vice minister of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said that the country will take proactive measures to keep migrant workers in urban areas. Yang suggested migrant workers can apply to register in a county after having a stable job for over half a year, and in a small or medium-sized city after working there for over three years and meeting other criteria. "They would need to meet additional requirements in big cities," Yang said without providing further details. Wang Zhenyu, deputy director of a policy research center at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times that migrant workers have had to deal with an increasing number of discriminatory policies in recent years, including restrictions on buying a home in some cities. In 2011 Beijing required residents who did not hold a city hukou, or household registration permit, to pay taxes for five years before being entitled to buy their first property. Although authorities of small cities have lifted many restrictions, most rural residents prefer moving to big cities, Li Enze, a lawyer specializing in the protection of employee's rights with the Beijing Impact Law Firm, told the Global Times. The time-limit requirements will continue to restrict many migrant workers from gaining a big-city hukou as they don't often settle in one city for long periods, said Li. [...]. ^ top ^

Exclusive: oil chief quizzed over massive cash transfers in Ferrari crash cover-up (SCMP)
2012-11-14
The chairman of China's biggest oil and gas producer has been questioned by the Communist Party's top discipline watchdog in relation to the Ferrari crash in Beijing earlier this year that claimed the life of the only son of Ling Jihua, party general secretary Hu Jintao's former top aide, sources say. They said the probe into China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) chairman Jiang Jiemin focused on a large sum of money - several tens of millions of yuan - that was transferred from CNPC to the families of two women injured in the single-vehicle accident. The episode raises doubts about corporate governance practices at CNPC, the giant state-owned energy company. Sources said the party's top disciplinary officials were shocked by the ease with which such a large sum of money could be transferred out of a giant state firm without any accountability or proper documentation. It also raises questions about the oversight capability of government regulators including the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, led by Wang Yong. At a group discussion at the party's 18th congress last week among delegates from central government-administered companies and agencies, Jiang sat next to Wang in the front row. Sources said Jiang had been trying to help Ling, then head of the powerful General Office of the party's Central Committee, pay compensation to the families of the other victims and prevent details of the car crash from leaking out to the public. [...] Ling was one of China's most powerful men whose help Jiang might need to further his career, until a surprise personnel reshuffle in September which saw him moved to head the United Front Work Department - a largely symbolic post. Sources said investigators eventually traced the money back to CNPC. They said that partly explained Jiang's absence from the public eye for a few weeks since late July, which prompted online rumours that he might have fled abroad. In an apparent effort to quell those rumours, CNPC issued a statement on September 4 saying its chairman had participated in a company meeting the day before. Jiang gave an interview to a magazine affiliated with the Xinhua news agency two days later, about a West-East natural gas transmission project. CNPC deputy general manager Wang Yongchun said that Jiang was still in charge of the company despite an illness. "Jiang has been suffering from chronic eye disease," Wang said. "It's not completely cured, but almost." Jiang, a member of the congress's 247-strong presidium, joined the group discussion on Friday, the second day of the week-long congress. Company spokesman Li Zhanbin said he had "not heard anything regarding an investigation", adding that Jiang was still presiding over the company "as usual". Sources said Jiang was indeed in poor health and that the anti-graft probe had worsened his condition. They said the fact that Jiang was a member of the presidium showed that, for the time being, he was likely to be given a clean bill of political health. ^ top ^

Party alters charter to tighten oversight after Bo scandal (SCMP)
2012-11-14
China's ruling Communist Party amended its guiding charter on Wednesday to tighten oversight of officials, a move reflecting the depth of concern about abuse of power in the wake of a scandal involving former political heavyweight Bo Xilai. [...] “The party should attach greater importance to conducting oversight of cadres,” the amendment said. This would help improve “public trust in the selection and appointment of party cadres” and encourage top officials to be better examples, said a statement from the congress. [...] President Hu Jintao warned in his state-of-the-nation address to the congress last week that corruption threatened the party and the state. Without an independent judiciary, efforts to fight graft, a key driver of social unrest in the world's second-largest economy, will almost certainly falter, and the control-obsessed party has shown no sign of embarking on this reform. But the party said there would be no reversing down the road to economic opening up, a policy begun some three decades ago, kicking off China's ongoing boom. It is reform and opening up that will ensure China's future development“It is reform and opening up that will ensure China's future development,” it said. The party charter is less a legal document than a compilation of the ideological justifications the Communists have accumulated – and often quietly shelved – in their 91-year evolution from a rag-tag troupe of idealistic revolutionaries to cautious leaders of the world's most populous nation. [...]. ^ top ^

Central bank governor left out of key policymaking group (SCMP)
2012-11-15
Zhou XiaochuanCentral bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan appears a step nearer retirement after he was left out of a key policymaking group of the ruling Communist Party. Zhou's name was a notable absence from the list of 205 members of the party's Central Committee, membership of which is a condition of holding a cabinet-ranked job such as central bank chief. Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Chen Deming, previously an alternate member of the Central Committee, was not on the new list of alternate members, also implying he will be retiring. Two other notable departures from the central committee were those of Finance Minister Xie Xuren and Zhang Ping, chairman of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission - the top economic planning agency. Zhou turns 65 in January - the mandatory retirement age for a cabinet minister, although there are cases where people have stayed in post beyond it. He has been central bank chief since December 2002. A spokesman at the PBOC declined to comment when asked about the decision. Market analysts have long thought that Zhou was likely to leave the PBOC in any reshuffle of top economic posts prompted by a change of leadership at the top of the party.The surprise, though, is to see him out of the party's inner circle of power. That precludes him from elevation to another senior role, such as state councillor, a position many analysts had expected him to attain and to use to drive the next round of long-anticipated financial market reforms. While there was no immediate official announcement of any change at the top of the central bank, market talk centred on the elevation of three men - regarded by analysts as possible PBOC chiefs - to the committee Zhou is leaving. Financial sector regulators Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), and Xiang Junbo, chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), were elevated to the central committee. Bank of China chairman Xiao Gang was also promoted. Guo, 56, is seen as the front runner, as he has a similar background to Zhou. ^ top ^

Hu's pet theory made a guiding tenet of party (SCMP)
2012-11-15
Communist leaders ended their five-yearly congress yesterday by formally elevating Hu Jintao's pet theory into a guiding party tenet, enshrining the retiring general secretary, at least on paper, as one of modern China's great stewards. Delegates amended the party's charter to place Hu's "scientific concept of development", which advocates pragmatic and well-tested policies, alongside its guiding political ideology and the theories of Hu's predecessors Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin. "The congress unanimously agreed that along with Marxism-Leninism, 'Mao Zedong thought', 'Deng Xiaoping theory' and the important concept of 'three represents', the 'scientific concept of development' should be made a part of the party's guide for action in the party constitution," the congress said in a statement released after the closing session. Elevation of the concept was said to be a top legacy issue for Hu as he prepared to hand control of the party to Xi Jinping. [...] Such an elevation has become custom for outgoing leaders so they can leave their mark on the party and cement their legacy. [...] "The main argument is whether [Hu's theory] will capture something important for the new leaders to use in the long transition they are in the midst of," said Kerry Brown, who heads the University of Sydney's China Studies Centre. He said putting Hu thoughts in the constitution "at least gives another plank of stability". Steve Tsang, director of the University of Nottingham's China Policy Institute, said that while Hu's scientific development idea would get incorporated, he did not think the party constitution revisions were "where Hu is looking to leave his legacy". Tsang said Hu "would be looking more at entrenching his group's position and possibly a greater degree of institutionalisation of the succession process". [...] The session also changed the constitution to explicitly endorse reform and opening-up as "the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics" and made a nod towards growing environmental problems by promoting "ecological progress". ^ top ^

A new generation of leaders unveiled (China Daily)
2012-11-16
A new generation of leaders took to the stage on Thursday with Communist Party of China chief Xi Jinping acknowledging the challenges ahead, including improving people's livelihoods and tackling corruption, and confidently pledging to overcome them. Xi was sworn in on Thursday as general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPC, leading the seven-member Standing Committee of the Political Bureau. He also took over as chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission from his predecessor Hu Jintao. The other six members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau are Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli. They were elected at the first plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee following the Party's 18th National Congress. Wang was also elected secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC. Two of the committee's seven members — Xi, 59, and Li, 57 — were born after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. With a ready smile, appearing relaxed and friendly, Xi made his first public speech in his new role on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. He spoke in front of a giant painting of the Great Wall dotted with red autumn leaves. He noted the burdens shouldered by the new generation of leaders and the necessity of continuing reform and opening-up. He also promised to improve people's livelihoods and tackle pressing problems, including corruption. [...] Xi also said the Party faces severe challenges, and there are many pressing problems within the Party that need to be resolved. These include, he said, corruption, losing touch with the people's concerns, being sticklers for formalities, and a bureaucratic approach adopted by some Party officials. "We must make every effort to solve these problems. The whole Party must be fully alert," Xi said, adding that the Party should supervise its conduct and operate under strict discipline. Analysts spoke highly of Xi's speech and his confident, natural delivery. [...] Ren Jianming, a professor at Tsinghua University, said he was also impressed by the new leader's calmness and common touch. But meeting challenges will not be easy, Ren said. But Xi pointed out one sure path to success."It is the people who have created history, and it is the people who are the true heroes. The people are the source of our strength," he said. [...]. ^ top ^

New Politburo pecking order reveals changes (SCMP)
2012-11-16
The pecking order of the Communist Party's supreme Politburo Standing Committee unveiled yesterday reflects three changes and gives the next premier greater authority. The position of premier in the Politburo Standing Committee hierarchy returns to No 2 in the new line-up, going back to an old practice dropped 15 years ago. When the new generation of leaders was unveiled to the assembled press, Li Keqiang, poised to take over from Wen Jiabao as premier in March, walked onto the stage right after Xi Jinping, the party's new general secretary. After Li came Zhang Dejiang, who will take over as chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC). The positioning harks back to the 14th party congress, in 1992, when Li Peng, then premier, was ranked No 2 in the Politburo Standing Committee, right after then-general secretary Jiang Zemin. [...] The positioning of Li Keqiang as No2 reflects the rule of seniority, with Li now a two-term Politburo Standing Committee member and Zhang Dejiang newly admitted yesterday. Observers said it also gave the future premier more authority and power in the decision-making process. Another notable change in the pecking order was the sixth-placed position of the party's disciplinary chief, Wang Qishan, who came before Zhang Gaoli, who is poised to take over as executive vice-premier. Analysts said the move showed the party would crack down on corruption in the wake of the downfall of former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai. The executive vice-premier's last-placed ranking would also make the premier more powerful, analysts said. [...] The third change in the new line-up was that the party's law and order chief will no longer be a Politburo Standing Committee member. Meng Jianzhu, expected to oversee China's security forces and law enforcement, is only a Politburo member. Analysts said the change was made because the previous security tsar, Zhou Yongkang, who retired yesterday, had close ties with Bo Xilai. "It is a good thing for the party apparatus as a whole for this position to be downgraded one level," said Nanjing University law professor Gu Su, adding that the previous arrangement gave the law-and-order chief too much power. ^ top ^

Next generation waiting in the wings (China Daily)
2012-11-16
The 15 new faces installed on the powerful Politburo include at least two politicians widely seen as candidates for top posts when Xi Jinping's generation leaves office a decade from now. Among those joining the 25-member panel are Inner Mongolia party secretary Hu Chunhua and Jilin party secretary Sun Zhengcai, both members of the so-called sixth generation of leadership prospects at the party congress in 2022. Hu and Sun, both 49, are poised to take up two weighty posts fairly soon. Hu is expected to steer the economic powerhouse of Guangdong, while Sun is set to head south to lead Chongqing, which is still recovering from the worst scandal in the Communist Party's recent history. Analysts say the tasks would put their capabilities to the test and provide them with valuable experience to pad their political résumés. It is a tradition among Communist Party leaders to groom their successors across a generation. President Hu Jintao, for example, was handpicked by the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. This is why Hu Chunhua - dubbed "Little Hu" because his political rise has followed a similar path as the senior Hu - stands out among the new Politburo members. Hu Jintao, who retired this week as general secretary, will turn 75 at the next party congress in 2017, holding a better chance of picking his protégés to the supreme Politburo Standing Committee than does his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, who would be 92. "The next generation of leaders have taken one step forward today - they've started the so-called grooming period," Bo Zhiyue, a China watcher at the National University of Singapore, said yesterday. Five of the new Politburo Standing Committee's seven members will retire in five years, paving the way for a new crop of party politicians to enter the stage. Only Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang will still be on the standing committee after the 19th party congress in 2017. Bo said he doesn't believe the sixth generation deviates much from its predecessors. "[Maintaining] continuity is in the blood of the party, and change is not the norm," he said. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

100b yuan for new subways (Global Times)
2012-11-12
Beijing will invest 100 billion yuan ($16 billion) to build 200 more kilometers of subway line in the future, making it the one of world's longest subway networks, but figures have shown that although more lines have been opened, Beijing's subway is getting more and more crowded. Chen Gang, the deputy mayor of Beijing who is responsible for urban planning, described rail transit as the ultimate solution for traffic in an international metropolis on Saturday, the Beijing Evening News reported. "Beijing has spent 260 billion yuan on rail transit, and we will spend 100 billion yuan more to finish a 660-kilometer long railway network," said Chen. According to the Beijing Public Transport Bureau, Beijing will have three circle lines, four horizontal lines, five vertical lines and eight radial lines in operation by the end of 2015. The Beijing Subway Company said its passenger flow reached seven million passengers on April 29 last year, and on April 28 this year it peaked at eight million travelers. [...] Meng Bin, professor of urban planning at Beijing Union University, told the Global Times Beijing's transit network still has room to improve. "The design of radial lines means that passengers who are traveling long and short distances stay on the same train [instead of interchanging]. So though more lines have been opened, trains will only get more crowded," he said. [...] By the end of 2012, sections of four more subway lines will open, altogether 70 kilometers of new lines, making the whole network 442 kilometers in length, longer than London's network, which is 402 kilometers, said Jia Peng, spokesman of Beijing Subway. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing as 'developed as Western nations' (Global Times)
2012-11-12
Beijing is already as developed as some Western nations, according to its Human Development Index (HDI), an indicator of quality of life and wealth, a Tsinghua University professor said at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China Sunday. Hu Angang, director of the Research Center for Contemporary China at Tsinghua University and a leading economist, said the most recent statistics show that Beijing's HDI has reached 0.834. This level is very high, normally considered as the level for a developed nation, and is the highest among all cities in China, the Beijing Morning Post reported Monday. But other experts on Monday said the capital, with its traffic gridlock, poor environment and also unequal educational and medical resources, still has a long way to go to reach the same level as a developed country. [...] Hu said a Beijinger's average lifespan is 80.8 years, ahead of a US citizen's average of 78.6 years. Beijingers also enjoy an average of 12 years of education, the Beijing Morning Post reported. [...] Tang Renwu, director of the management school at Beijing Normal University, believes there is much still to be done before the capital can rank among developed international cities. "For a capital city with a large population, it means little to just focus on the average index," said Tang. "Beijing has lots of rich people, like pop stars, entrepreneurs and also government officials, who can raise the average statistics," he said. There is a big gap between rich and poor, and rural and poor residents do not have access to the city's good medical and educational resources, he said. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai's giant radio telescope could be a white elephant (SCMP)
2012-11-12
Shanghai, you may have a problem. Municipal government officials have just attended a ceremony to mark the completion of a "landmark" radio telescope in the city. The dish, with a diameter of 65 metres and weighing 2,700 tonnes, is the biggest, costliest and most technically advanced radio telescope ever built in China. [...] Many astronomers have questioned the project since its inception in 2008 because radio telescopes are designed to pick up extremely faint radio waves from celestial bodies such as stars and galaxies that could be more than 12 billion light years away. Big cities such as Shanghai, which generate lots of radio noise from such things as cell phones, police radios and air traffic control are regarded as the worst possible place to put up a dish. Nearly all of the world's largest radio telescope projects have been built in remote areas, far from human activity, with some even set atop high mountains to ward off unwanted interference. Dr Shen Zhiqiang, the Shanghai 65M Radio Telescope's chief scientist, said he was a bit fed up after being quizzed by so many people about its location. He's reduced his defence to one sentence. "It is no longer possible to find a site on earth where you can avoid man-made signals," he said. [...] The telescope is designed to listen to cosmic radio waves with a frequency of 1.8 GHz or above. But the GSM networks of Chinese mobile phone service providers such as China Mobile run at 1.8 GHz and their 3G networks at 2.0 GHz. In other words, a special celestial event could be lost in the noise of a thousand phone calls. To avoid that embarrassment, Shen said it would turn its ears to high-frequency signals, way above 2.0GHz. [...] Some mainland astronomers, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said politicians in Shanghai had silenced criticism with influence and money. [...] "Even a high school student with basic knowledge about radio astronomy would have raised doubts and objections to the location," one Beijing-based astronomer said. [...] Since 2009, senior municipal officials have been visiting Songjiang district regularly, offering financial and administrative support. Located on a densely populated flat plain, thousands of people had to be relocated to make way for the project. [...].

 

Guangdong

Pressure pushes new power plant to relocate (Global Times)
2012-11-15
Complaints and past protests by residents of Foshan, Guangdong Province succeeded in stopping the expansion of a thermal power plant, which authorities are now proposing to move around 400 kilometers southwest to a site near Zhanjiang city if an environmental assessment proves it feasible. The plant said Monday that an environmental assessment had been launched at the new Zhanjiang location for the planned 7.4 billion yuan ($1.18 billion) project. The original Foshan plant, established in 1997, has been accused of emitting pollutants containing excessive levels of sulfur dioxide, which many people said caused a sharp increase in the number of people suffering respiratory diseases. Located near Donghai Island in Zhanjiang, the new plant is to be built in a more remote area and will not occupy existing farmland nor will homes be demolished, said the plant's website. The expansion of the Foshan plant had been in the works for a number of years. Previous reports said residents protested demanding the company clean up its emissions. A group of deputies to the local People's Congress in Guangdong submitted a letter to the National People's Congress in 2009, calling for the suspension of the expansion and a more rigorous environmental assessment. Data from the Foshan environmental authorities shows the plant was listed as a major source of pollution in Guangdong from 2008 to 2010. In 2011, authorities declared the plant a "green company," which left many nearby residents incredulous. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

China says 18-year-old Tibetan self-immolates (SCMP)
2012-11-11
An 18-year-old Tibetan villager died after setting himself on fire in northwest China in the latest of a half-dozen such self-immolations reported during the past week as the country's communist leadership undergoes a once-a-decade transfer of power. A short report from the state-run Xinhua News Agency did not offer a reason why the man self-immolated on Saturday, but dozens of ethnic Tibetans have set themselves on fire in heavily Tibetan regions over more than a year and a half to protest Chinese rule. [...] On Friday, hundreds of Tibetans, mostly high school students, demonstrated in a town that sits at the edge of the Tibetan plateau in western Qinghai province, calling for Tibetan independence and the return from exile of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Saturday's immolation took place in the afternoon in front of a monastery in the city of Hezuo in the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Gannan, Xinhua said, citing provincial government sources. [...] Overseas activist groups had no immediate information on Saturday's incident, and police in Hezuo declined to comment. Calls to Hezuo's city government and to authorities and police in Gannan prefecture rang unanswered on Sunday. [...]. ^ top ^

Two Tibetans die in latest self-immolations (SCMP)
2012-11-13
Two Tibetan men died in separate self-immolations on Monday, China's state media said, the eighth and ninth reported to have set themselves on fire in the last week as the ruling Communists gather for a leadership transition. Both incidents took place in Dowa township in Tongren, a county in northwest China's Qinghai province, Xinhua news agency said, the latest self-immolations to highlight simmering desperation in Tibetan areas. Nyangkhar Tashi, 23, set himself on fire at about 3.15pm in the village of Jiaolongwu, reported Xinhua, adding that several hours later, Nyangje Lhabon, 20, self-immolated in the village of Zhiyue. The British-based Free Tibet group, who gave the first man's name as Nyingkar Tashi, said he set himself alight during a prayer ceremony for a young mother who self-immolated in the area earlier this month. [...] Since 2009, 69 people have set themselves on fire in protest at Chinese rule, of whom 54 have died, the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile had said before the latest incidents. [...] The party has sought to project an image of national unity during the highly stage-managed gathering amid unrest in minority areas, and the escalating protests have been aimed at undercutting the facade, according to representatives of the Tibetan government-in-exile in India. On the sidelines of the congress on Friday, officials from the Tibetan Communist Party angrily denounced the Dalai Lama and overseas Tibetan “separatists” for orchestrating the immolations to breed unrest. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

There is no ban on Uygur dress, police deputy says at congress (SCMP)
2012-11-14
Muslim head coverings and long beards are "kind of passé", a deputy police chief from Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture said this week when explaining why authorities discouraged such practices among Uygurs, who make up 40 per cent of the region's population. But Kurex Kanjir, a Uygur who is also a member of the Xinjiang delegation to the Communist Party's 18th national congress, said there was "absolutely no ban" on Uygurs wearing traditional Islamic dress. Some Uygurs and human rights groups have blamed policies enacted by the region's Han-dominated government - which they say suppresses religious freedom - for sparking riots in the autonomous region. Residents of the southern Xinjiang city of Hotan said a policy of discouraging women from wearing traditional black Islamic robes was one of the main triggers for a deadly attack on a police station in July last year that resulted in the deaths of at least 18 people. "We have never said people cannot wear traditional ethnic dress," Kurex Kanjir said on the sidelines of the congress on Sunday. "But we are now in a civilised society and we hope to use modern culture to guide a somehow backward culture. It is something not to be forced, but something to be achieved through guidance." His remarks follow a row triggered last year by a notice issued by a local government in Xinjiang that asked Uygurs, who are mostly Muslim, not to wear Arab dress, grow beards or cover their faces with veils. The controversial notice was issued by the authorities in Yining's Dunmaili district in December in a bid to "dilute religious consciousness", a euphemism for the simmering ethnic tensions in restive southern Xinjiang. Nearly half of the city's population is Uygur. The notice, first posted on the district's official website, was deleted following media reports. A spokeswoman for the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region said at that time that she was not aware of the policy. [...] Kurex Kanjir said he was confident that, with Beijing's support, local authorities could maintain peace and security in Kashgar. "I can say it is in the best situation in history and even better than many other major cities," he said, crediting Beijing's massive investment in Xinjiang to boost the region's economy following the 2009 riots. "Only a few people carry out antisocial and anti-human activities … and they are hated by all peoples in Xinjiang. And to be honest, we are fully able to bring them under control.". ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong, Canada sign tax pact (Xinhua)
2012-11-11
Hong Kong signed an agreement with Canada for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention from tax evasion on income and capital, the authority announced here Sunday. HK's Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Prof. KC Chan signed the agreement in Hong Kong, said a governmental news release. It is the 26th comprehensive agreement for the avoidance of double taxation concluded by Hong Kong with its trading partners. Under the agreement, tax paid in Hong Kong will be allowed as a credit against tax payable in Canada. Double taxation will be avoided in that any Canadian tax paid by Hong Kong companies doing business through a permanent establishment in Canada will be allowed as credit against the tax payable in Hong Kong. ^ top ^

Leung Chun-ying faces heat over new TV licences (SCMP)
2012-11-13
The long-overdue issuing of new free-to-air television licences could be the next political bomb for Leung Chun-ying's government as public discontent rises. This has become evident amid a mounting chorus of protest against both the delay and the issuing of the licences. A TV's live broadcast of its rally against the new licences outside government headquarters on Sunday had drawn more than 1,000 complaints by yesterday. Critics said the struggling station, which sees the licences as unwelcome competition, had abused its power as a broadcaster by airing its own propaganda. The broadcast prompted about 500 people to join a Facebook group called "ATV Please Fold". Yesterday, more than 200 cultural and media professionals, along with lawmakers and academics, published a petition against the delay in approval of the new licences which is still on hold more than two years after the applications were filed. [...] Lawmaker Charles Mok said the public had shown their discontent with ATV, especially after the Sunday show, and urged the government to look into claims the station had breached the Broadcasting Ordinance. On Sunday, ATV's major investor Wong Ching led about 400 staff in the rally against new free TV licences. But critics and industry veterans supported the addition of free-to-air TV stations. [...] Shue Yan University journalism department head Leung Tin-wai condemned ATV for disregarding media ethics in the broadcast. He also asked on what grounds the Executive Council had put the licence approvals on hold, when the Broadcasting Authority, now the Communications Authority, had endorsed the three applications. City Telecom (CTI), which has already employed more than 700 people, i-Cable Communications subsidiary Fantastic Television and PCCW's HK Television entertainment filed their applications in late 2009 and early 2010. [...]. ^ top ^

Number of poor rising in Hong Kong (SCMP)
2012-11-14
The median salary of Hong Kong's top earners is HK$88,800 a month, 26.1 times the poorest 10 per cent, government figures show. Overall, one in six people, or 17.6 per cent of 6.7 million people, struggled with poverty in the second quarter of this year, up 0.6 percentage points from last year, Oxfam Hong Kong said. The figures, retrieved by the group from the Census and Statistics Department, show that the median household income of the lowest-income group was HK$3,400 a month. That was an increase of HK$400 in the last nine years, during which time the city's richest 10 per cent saw their median monthly income surge by HK$18,800. In 2003, the top 10 per cent of the city's households made HK$70,000 a month - 23.3 times the lowest-paid group. "The income gap between the rich and the poor has been increasing over the years. The number of poor people in Hong Kong has also been steady and slightly growing," said Oxfam director general Stephen Fisher. A 10-year high of 194,100 households with at least one family member working were considered poor - living on less than half the median income for city households of corresponding size. On that basis, someone who earns less than HK$3,600, or HK$8,000 for a two-member family, is considered poor. The poverty rate among working households was 10 per cent - the second-highest rate since 2008, and the same as in 2003 and 2009. [...] Meanwhile, government figures released in June showed that the city's Gini coefficient - a scale from 0 to 1 on which higher scores indicate greater income inequality - reached a record high of 0.537 last year. ^ top ^

Google reports surge in data requests from Hong Kong police (SCMP)
2012-11-16
The internet giant said yesterday that in the first half of this year it had received 192 requests for data to use in investigations compared to 325 in all of last year and 140 in 2010. While it said it had complied with only about a third, the increase prompted Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun to call for a probe by the privacy commissioner into possible "abnormal surveillance". In the same period, Japan law enforcers made 104 requests, and Russia's made 58. Globally, Google, which is blocked in mainland China, received 20,938 requests, up 25 per cent year on year. "The number of requests that we receive for user account information as part of criminal investigations has increased year on year," Google said in its transparency report yesterday. "We hope this will shine some light on the appropriate scope and authority of government requests to obtain user data around the globe," it said, attributing the rise to more people using its services. The report came amid a surge in technology-related crime. Police recorded 2,100 such cases in the first nine months, almost the same as last year's figure at 2,206 but well above the 1,643 in 2010. A senior police officer said it was reasonable to state that police made more requests to website operators for information as the number of such crimes rose. But To said: "There are more than a 100 million people in Japan. And historically Japan is helping the United States to monitor terrorists. There is no reason why Hong Kong should have more requests than Japan." He said the privacy commissioner should look into the rise. [...] A spokesman for the office of the privacy commissioner said it had also received more complaints on data access requests and had issued guidance on the procedures. The report also revealed that a request had been received from a provincial land bureau in the mainland to remove a search result linking to a site that allegedly defamed a government official, but Google did not comply. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macau residents get record 8,000 pataca handout (SCMP)
2012-11-14
Macau residents will receive their biggest cash handout next year since 2008 - 8,000 patacas for permanent residents and 4,800 for non-permanent ones, Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on said in his policy address yesterday, in which "Macau people, Macau land" was mentioned for the first time. The city will spend a total of about 9.8 billion patacas on various subsidies, compared with 8.6 billion patacas last year. The annual cash subsidy for the elderly will be increased from 6,000 patacas to 6,600, and each permanent resident will receive a 600 pataca coupon for medical services, up from 500 the year before. Subventions for students have all risen. University students will receive 3,000 cash handout, up from 2,000 before, while primary and secondary school pupils will get 2,400 patacas - up from 1,900 last year. Children in kindergarten will get 2,000 patacas, compared with 1,500 last year. The income tax deduction will be increased from 25 per cent to 30 per cent, and the exemption amount is 144,000 patacas. Meanwhile, 60 per cent of the income tax paid this year will be refunded in 2014. The maximum refund is 12,000 patacas. Including other tax exemptions, the Macau government will receive 1.6 billion patacas less in tax revenue. The government also announced that it would start accepting applications again for public housing in the first quarter of next year. [...] "Macau people, Macau land is a concept that has been raised by many sectors in Macau, especially because of the soaring property prices," Chui said. Macau lawmaker Antonio Ng Kuok-cheong explained that the idea of "Macau people, Macau land" was to ensure that housing to be built on five pieces of land now being formed by reclamation would be earmarked only for Macau permanent residents until 2049. Macau is reclaiming 360 hectares by 2015. The policy has echoes of the Hong Kong government's restriction on the sales of some flats only to permanent residents. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan tests new anti-ship missile (SCMP)
2012-11-12
Taiwan tested its longest range ship-to-ship missile within a month of China putting its first aircraft carrier into service, a report said on Monday. Dubbed an “aircraft carrier killer”, the missile has a range of 400 kilometres and is capable of achieving Mach 3.0, or triple the speed of sound, the Taipei-based United Daily News said. “The Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology finished a series of tests off Taiwan last month,” it said, in reference to Taiwan's arms development unit. “No ship is capable of withstanding its high-velocity impact,” the paper quoted an unnamed military source as saying. Taiwan's defence ministry declined to comment on the report. The missile was described as a long-range variant of the Hsiung Feng III, already installed on Taiwanese frigates and missile boats and designed to achieve Mach 2.0 with a range of up to 130 kilometres. [...]. ^ top ^

Senior Ma aide poised to take up U.S. posting (SCMP)
2012-11-15
The most trusted aide of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will head to Washington in a few weeks to assume his post as the island's envoy to the United States. The appointment of King Pu-tsung, 56, as Taiwan's representative in the absence of formal ties has been widely seen as showing Ma's desire to further consolidate Taipei's substantive relations with Washington. The US officially notified Taiwan's Foreign Ministry on Friday its approval of King's appointment, seven weeks after he was named to the position. Pundits said the choice of King - Ma's closest aide since helping him win the Taipei mayoral election in 1997 - has also helped defuse speculation the Ma administration has placed development of cross-strait relations ahead of US ties. "By sending his most trusted aide to Washington, Ma actually hopes to head off the US doubt that he has focused too much on cross-strait relations at the expense of long-time friendly Taiwan-US ties," said Edward Chen I-hsin, professor of American studies at Tamkang University in Taipei. Washington is believed to be concerned about the sharp improvement in cross-strait ties since Ma took office in 2008, as this could mean the diminishing of US influence in Taiwan. Washington has long been Taiwan's informal ally and major arms supplier despite the absence of formal ties. Taiwan's pro-independence camp, led by the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, has also criticised Ma for leaning too much towards the mainland. It has described as unwise Ma's reluctance to increase the defence budget, given that Beijing is still aiming more than 1,300 missiles at the island. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's sovereign wealth fund eyes neighboring markets (Xinhua)
2012-11-10
China's sovereign wealth fund will invest more in neighboring markets to buffer the impact of sluggish world economy, Europe's debt crisis and the U.S. fiscal cliff, said chairman of the China Investment Corporation (CIC) on Saturday. Infrastructure will be the priority of CIC's future investment to optimize its overseas portfolio, said Chairman Lou Jiwei, a delegate to the ongoing 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. He said the move goes along with the Party's call to consolidate good relations with neighboring countries through deepened collaboration. "From the perspective of investment, our job is to support neighboring countries to develop industries that are complementary to China's growth," he said. "We hope a stronger Chinese economy can benefit our neighbors." Lou said CIC's overseas investment aims to pursue long-term returns. Protectionism, social instability and political interruption have been the prominent hindrance to CIC's overseas maneuver, he added. Unlike other sovereign wealth funds, CIC's portfolio includes more direct investment, with the proportion of long-term investment reaching 50 percent. As the capital markets of peripheral emerging economies remain under developed, CIC's direct investment has been limited to Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mongolia and Russia. The corporation lost 4.3 percent on its overseas portfolio for 2011 and posted 3.8 percent in accumulated annualized returns since 2007, according to its 2011 annual report. [...]. ^ top ^

China's economy regains momentum (China Daily)
2012-11-11
China's economy is regaining momentum and growth of the world's second largest economy will exceed 7.5 percent in 2012. But, the groundwork for an economic rebound still needs more work, the head of China's economic planning agency said on Saturday. Signs of an uplift in the economy were obvious in October and China will likely achieve its economic growth target for this year, said Zhang Ping, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission. Zhang said China's fiscal revenue in 2012 is expected to increase to 12.7 trillion yuan ($2.03 trillion), compared to 10.37 trillion yuan in 2011. The country's growth slowed to 7.4 percent in the third quarter of the year, a decline for the seventh consecutive quarter, sparking concerns that China may repeat the economic downturn seen in 2008 as a result of the global financial crisis. But Zhang said the slowdown this year was partly due to government intervention, as a more moderated pace would allow leeway for China to shift its growth model. "Many factors contributed to this year's slowdown. The government has taken the initiative to lower this year's growth target to 7.5 percent to realize more sustainable development of the Chinese economy," said Zhang at a news conference Saturday during the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. [...] However, recent figures indicate that China may be reversing the trend. October data including total industrial output value, total retail sales and import and export statistics all showed improved performances compared to the last two months. "We have confidence we can realize the targets set at the beginning of the year. Economic growth could still exceed 7.5 percent in spite of major challenges and difficulties," said Zhang. [...] The main focus is to further strengthen domestic demand and increase income to stimulate domestic consumption. The government is expected to launch a new income-distribution framework soon to reduce income inequality, according to reports. [...]. ^ top ^

Turning point in central bank's monetary policy (China Daily)
2012-11-12
China's monetary policy has probably reached a cyclical turning point, the financial services company Barclays PLC said in a research note on Monday. In the coming months, the priority is likely to change from cautious easing to something more neutral, and an emphasis will be placed on maintaining stable liquidity, the company said. The recently released Monetary Policy Report for the third quarter of 2012 made special note of the importance of preventative, targeted and flexible adjustments to monetary policy, which should try to strike a balance among economic growth, price stability and controlling risks. The first priority will be to maintain stable monetary conditions. "Our reading of the third-quarter Monetary Policy Report is that the policy focus is shifting back to maintaining stable market liquidity and avoiding additional large downside risks to economic growth," said Huang Yiping, an economist with Barclays. This shift is in part being driven by three causes: First, there are tentative but widespread signs suggesting that economic activity has improved in the past month or two. Second, inflation has always been a great concern for officials with the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, and that's probably even more true now as growth bottoms out and the developed world turns again to quantitative easing. Third, the central bank is worried that further monetary easing will boost housing prices again. "This is in line with our expectation of no more rate cuts in the coming quarters," Huang said. "But we cannot rule out the possibility that banks' reserve requirement ratio will be further lowered as a way for the central bank to manage liquidity conditions. Of course, these expectations are based on our assessment that economic growth is bottoming out. "If growth decelerates sharply in the coming months, especially if job losses become an economy-wide problem, then the central bank could ease monetary policy aggressively to cushion further downside risks to the economy.". ^ top ^

China's home-grown aircraft, the C919, gains 50 new preliminary orders (SCMP)
2012-11-14
China's home-grown aircraft, the C919, received 50 new preliminary orders from three airlines yesterday, bringing total orders for the 150-seat airliner to 380. The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), the manufacturer of the aircraft scheduled to have its first flight test in 2014, also signed a memorandum of understanding with the defunct Eastern Air Lines, reviving speculation about a rebirth of the US-based airline. British Airways and Ryanair have agreed to purchase the aircraft without specifying the size of the orders. Hebei Aviation Group, which is controlled by China Energy Group, and Joy Airlines, a joint venture between China Eastern Airlines and Aviation Industry Corporation of China, have ordered 20 aircraft each. Existing customer GE Capital meanwhile doubled its order to 20. The new orders signed at the 9th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai bring the total number of customers of the C919 to 15. [...] The market for single-aisle aircraft, with 150-180 seats, is dominated by Airbus and Boeing. For airlines, operating a new aircraft type is a big undertaking. "As a regional airline, it would increase our maintenance and operating costs," an executive from Xiamen Airlines said. [...] Separately, Xinhua reported China will need 4,960 commercial planes over the next 20 years, representing a value of US$563 billion. The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) forecast 4,273 "large" passenger planes would be needed by 2031. ^ top ^

China third biggest int'l tourism spender: official (Xinhua)
2012-11-14
The Chinese have emerged as the third-biggest spenders in outbound tourism worldwide, a senior official of China's National Tourism Administration (CNTA) said on Wednesday. Li Shihong, head of the CNTA's Department of Tourism Promotion and International Liaison, made the announcement at a news conference before the opening of the China International Travel Mart (CITM) this year. China has also been the third-largest tourism destination in the world, CNTA data shows. [...] First held in 2001, the CITM has grown to be the largest professional travel mart in Asia as China's economy keeps advancing, said Li. As an annual event, it is held in Shanghai and Kunming city in southwest China's Yunnan Province alternately. There are 104 countries and regions participating in this Mart. The display space of the CITM has been extended to approximately 57,500 square meters in a bid to meet the growing demand of exhibitors. There are more international booths this year than before, and the ratio of domestic booths to international ones has been balanced, with 1,582 domestic booths and 932 international booths in this Mart. Dubbing tourism the No.1 industry worldwide, Li noted that its development could help boost growth amid the global economic downturn. The CITM serves as an effective platform for international tourism cooperation, Li added. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

UN agencies estimate better harvests in DPRK despite persistent undernutrition (Xinhua)
2012-11-13
An assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated there has been an increase in staple food production in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea despite persistent undernutrition, the Rome based agencies said Monday. The joint Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission visited all nine agricultural provinces of DPRK during the main annual cereal harvest in late September and early October, and estimated overall production for the main 2012 harvest and 2013 early season crops to be 5.8 million metric tons, an improvement of 10 percent over last year, FAO said. The mission estimated a staple food deficit of 207,000 metric tons, the lowest in many years, the Rome-based organization noted. This, however, should not mask an ongoing struggle with undernutrition and a lack of vital protein and fat in the diet, especially for an estimated 2.8 million vulnerable people, it added. Of particular concern to the mission was a 30-percent decline in soybean production due to a prolonged dry spell, as well as the limited quantity of vegetables available, perpetuating a chronic lack of key proteins, oils, fats, vitamins and micronutrients in most diets. [...]. ^ top ^

North Korea accused of smuggling arms to Syria (SCMP)
2012-11-15
North Korea is suspected of having tried to send missile components to Syria in violation of UN sanctions, but the shipment was intercepted by South Korean authorities, diplomats say. South Korean officials seized 445 graphite cylinders, which had been declared as lead piping, from a Chinese vessel, the Xin Yan Tai, UN Security Council diplomats said. The incident occurred in May. South Korean authorities stopped the ship at Busan, the envoys said, adding that the cylinders were intended for a Syrian company called Electric Parts. South Korean officials briefed the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee about the seizure on October 24, the envoys said, and China had offered to help investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident. "It appears the cylinders were intended for Syria's missile programme," a diplomat said. "China assured us they will investigate what looks like a violation of UN sanctions." Another diplomat said: "It's possible that the crew of the Chinese ship had no idea what this shipment really was. It's good that China has expressed a willingness to investigate." [...] Diplomats said the graphite cylinders appeared to be consistent with material which could be used in a ballistic missile programme and that South Korea would be jointly investigating the case with China. The shipment to Syria was arranged by a North Korean trading company, diplomats said. One diplomat said the Syrian company that was to have received the cylinders may be a subsidiary of the North Korean trading firm. [...] Earlier this year, the Security Council's panel of experts on North Korea, an independent group that monitors compliance with the UN sanctions, said it was investigating possible weapons-related deals between Pyongyang, Syria and Myanmar. [...]. ^ top ^

North Korea continuing work on long-range missiles, images show (SCMP)
2012-11-15
Satellite imagery indicates North Korea has been testing rocket engines, a sign it continues to develop long-range missiles, a US academic institute says. The analysis provided on Monday is based on satellite images taken as recently as late September of the Sohae site on the northwest coast. In April, North Korea launched a rocket from there in a failed attempt to propel a satellite into space in defiance of a UN ban. The analysis on the website of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said it remains unclear whether North Korea was preparing another rocket launch but predicted it may embark on new rocket and nuclear tests in the first half of 2013. [...] The US-Korea Institute analysis concludes that since the failed launch of the Unha-3 rocket, which disintegrated shortly after take-off, North Korea has conducted at least two, and possibly more, tests of large rocket motors. [...] An April 9 satellite image shows what appear to be dozens of fuel tanks near a stand used for conducting tests of rocket engines. A September 17 image shows the tanks are no longer there, and a flame trench has been stained orange and surrounding vegetation has been burned from the exhaust of an engine. An image from September 28 indicates a further test has taken place. [...] The images also show construction work on a launch tower at Sohae to enable it to accommodate even larger rockets than the Unha-3 or KN-08. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Ministry of mining announces fuel price will remain the same (UB Post)
2012-11-09
Despite reports by certain fuel importers that Mongolia is out of reserve fuel, G. Ulziiburen, deputy Chairman of the Mongolian Petroleum Authority denies this in an interview with the Udriin Sonin newspaper. G. Ulziiburen said: “Currently, while the operations of gas stations are stable we cannot deny that there were some fuel supply interruptions in certain gas stations. Mongolia's required fuel reserve is approximated at 30 – 40 days and we currently have 44 days of reserve fuel”. The price of fuel will not suddenly increase, this is a guarantee. Everyone knows its price has increased just over the border in Russia, so we are still conducting the required calculations.” Also, it has been decided that 12 out of 15 fuel retailers would be granted USD 120 million from Bank of Mongolia (BOM).BOM have received loan requests from 15 different fuel importers, aiming to stabilize the price of fuel and support retail sale of fuel. Since 3 of the 15 companies do not actually import fuel, they were excluded from the loan. 12 companies, including; NIC, Magnai Trade, Sod Mongol, Just Oil, Shunkhla and Undarga Us will be dividing the loan amongst themselves. B. Batkhuu, head of the Strategy Implementation Management at the Ministry of Mining said that the companies originally requested a USD 235 million loan. To be transparent on the loan distribution, many factors were considered: such as the amount of fuel imported last year and the percentage of fuel which were sold at retail price. The total number of other fuel retailers was also considered. The loan transfers have begun on November 8 through the fuel importers' banks. The loan's interest obligation is considered 'very low' at less than 4 percent per annum. So a new loan agreement was made between fuel importers, the Government and BOM to improve the supply of fuel and to assist in stabilizing the price of fuel for the next four years. Since the signing of the agreement, fuel importers have lifted their fuel sale limits that were present in the last few days. In the next months or years, there is no guarantee that the price of fuel won't eventually rise as it is dependent on many other factors, like currency exchange fluctuations and the rapidly and ever decreasing availability of easily (low exploration costs) recoverable oil.. ^ top ^

President says to promote renewable energy development (News.mn)
2012-11-13
Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj said Monday that his country had rich renewable energy resources and would vigorously pursue development in this area. Solar, wind and other renewable energy resources were very rich in Mongolia, Elbegdorj said at the opening of the Northeast Asia Renewable Energy Resources Cooperation Forum. The resources were more than enough to meet domestic demand, so the country might export such products in the future, he added. It was of great significance for Mongolia to do research on and develop renewable energy, he said, while inviting other countries to jointly develop solar and wind energy with Mongolia. The Mongolian government planned to increase the share of renewable energy to between 20 percent and 25 percent of its total energy consumption by 2020. The two-day energy forum gathers delegates from China, South Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Japan, Russia, France, Britain, the Asian Development Bank and the International Energy Agency.. ^ top ^

Official Talks held between Foreign Ministers (Montsame)
2012-11-13
The Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Bold held Monday the official talks with his counterpart of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan Mr. Erlan Abdyldaev in Ulaanbaatar. Mr. Bold underlined that Mongolia considers Kyrgyzstan as its important partner in Central Asia, and noted that the current visit would activate an implementation of works that had been agreed on during an official visit of Mongolia's President to Kyrgyzstan paid in April this year. The Minister said Mongolia has an aspiration to closely cooperate with Kyrgyzstan by supporting each other and sharing experiences so that the democratic values are strengthened of the two countries that have chosen the parliamentary governance and the democracy in Central Asia. He invited Mr. Abdyldaev to the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies (CoD) that will run in April the next year in Ulaanbaatar. In turn, Mr. Abdyldaev highlighted a coincidence of his visit with the 20th anniversary of Mongolia-Kyrgyzstan diplomatic relations, adding that this is the very first visit of Kyrgyzstan's FM to Mongolia. He expressed a willingness of his country to study Mongolia's experience in developing the democracy, and underlined that the countries have an opportunity to expand their cooperation in the mining and agricultural sectors.Then the dignitaries emphasized that the countries have been fruitfully cooperating at regional and international arenas, and considered as necessity to widen the bilateral collaboration targeted at regional and international stability and development. ^ top ^

"Chinggis Khan and globalization" forum held (News.mn)
2012-11-15
The Chinggis Khan and globalization scientific forum held in honor of the 850th anniversary of the greatest leader of all time was held at the State Palace on 14th November. Guests at the forum included Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag, scientists and researchers opened the forum with greetings. Numerous researchers and scientists of Mongolistic studies attended at the Chinggis Khan and globalization forum. The Prime Minister stated that “the forum is organized in order to pin-point the truth of the Greatest Chinggis Khan`s role in world history and revise falsification about his actions”. Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyah also said that “being globalized does not mean Mongolians have to turn into anyone else. But losing our culture values, adopting and persuading foreign cultures and languages is not the meaning of globalization. It is a sign of a failure of nationality. Therefore we Mongolians are uniting again under the name of Great Chinggis Khan. I believe it will play an important role in services for our national interest and prosperity. Chinggis Khan established a strong state because he could listen to people. The Greatest leader of all time in history is admired and respected because his actions were transparent and showed a good example of equal rights under the law. Such administrative culture is still fundamental of a strong state. Therefore we are trying our best to be a strong state that listens to people. Learning a lesson from the Great Khan and great history is significant.” The scientist stated that “Great Chinggis Khan united all separate Mongolian tribes under one state and established the Great Mongolian Empire in the XIII century; it was a big event to not only Mongolians but also in world history. Establishing the unprecedented empire Chinggis Khan combined Euro Asian people using road infrastructure, economic and post relations and accelerated technological development. Globalization was initiated with Chinggis Khan`s efforts and brought numerous reforms and changes in humankind development.”. ^ 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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