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
  24-30.11.12, No. 451  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China, World Bank to establish knowledge hub (Xinhua)
2012-11-27
China's Ministry of Finance and the World Bank Group on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a knowledge hub to spread China's experience in development to other nations. Xie Xuren, minister of finance, said at the signing ceremony that he hopes the hub will become an open center for developing countries to learn from each other. "Developing countries face the common task of achieving sustainable development. We must choose our development paths in accordance with national conditions. Only in this way can we boost economic growth, reduce poverty and enjoy prosperity," said Xie. "China has lifted 600 million people out of poverty in the last 30 years, and the demand is growing among other developing countries to learn from its remarkable progress," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. The knowledge hub will play a key role in making China's experiences available to the world and will further the bank's mission to end extreme poverty and build shared prosperity, he said. ^ top ^

Defence chief Liang Guanglie in talks with US Navy boss (SCMP)
2012-11-28
Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie said yesterday that China's military build-up poses no threat to the world and called for closer military co-operation with Washington as he had talks with US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. The talks, in which both sides discussed maritime security and Washington's move to bolster its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, came on the heels of Beijing's leadership change and successful landing tests on the country's first aircraft carrier. The sensitive timing of the talks indicated that both militaries wanted to cement bilateral ties, which have been strained by Washington's involvement in territorial disputes between the mainland and its neighbours. Some in the region have expressed concern about Beijing's double-digit increases in defence spending. "The Chinese military must develop, but there's no 'worry' or 'fear' as the outside world says," Liang said on the sidelines of the meeting. Beijing has expressed frustrations over Washington's "pivot" to Asia, saying the strategy would create a disturbance in the region. Beijing has also told Washington not to get involved in territorial disputes between China and its neighbours. However, Liang told Mabus that a "new type of military ties between two big nations" should be established, according to a report by Xinhua. "The two militaries should seek co-operation in areas that [they] have common interest, but contain areas that have disputes and conflicts," he said. [...] Military analysts said the visit by Mabus indicated that neither side wanted territorial disputes and the desire to achieve a dominant position in the region would hamper ties between the two countries. "It shows that the two militaries can still engage themselves in talks," said Antony Wong Dong, president of the Macau-based International Military Association. "Beijing apparently believes that improving military ties with the US is a tactic to prevent Washington from meddling too much into Asia," he said. [...]. ^ top ^

J-15 nails first carrier landing take-off (Global Times)
2012-11-26
China's home-made fighters have successfully completed takeoffs and landings on the Liaoning, the country's first aircraft carrier. [...] At least two Shenyang J-15 fighters took off and landed on the flight-deck of the Liaoning, which was commissioned to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy two months ago. [...] According to the PLA's official website, a total of five fighter pilots successfully accomplished the missions, after receiving special low-visibility, crosswind and turbulent environment training. The capabilities of the carrier platform and the J-15 were both tested, meeting all requirements and achieving good compatibility, the PLA Navy told Xinhua, officially acknowledging the existence of the J-15 fighter for the first time. The J-15 is China's first generation multi-purpose carrier-borne fighter. It is able to carry multi-type anti-ship, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, as well as precision-guided bombs and has comprehensive capabilities comparable to those of the Russian Su-33 jet and the US F-18, according to Xinhua. [...] Du Wenlong, a researcher at China's PLA Academy of Military Sciences, told CCTV on Sunday that carrier landings accounted for 80 percent of flight accidents on carriers. "The operations proved that China has built its own capable carrier-based fighters and a successful staff-training system. These elements are the foundation for forming combat capability in the future," Du said. "The PLA Navy can have the same combat capability as foreign navies, which we have so envied in the past," he added. [...] "Military enthusiasts should have every reason to hail the achievement. From now on, China owns its complete carrier system. More pilots will master landing and takeoff skills. After that, they will carry out tactical training, join exercises with other naval vessels in order to achieve combat capability step by step," Lan Yun, a navay expert with the Beijing-based Modern Ships magazine, told the Global Times. [...] It is logical to predict that more carriers will be built in China, and the country will also develop fifth-generation carrier-based fighters, Lan said. In an interview with Xinhua on November 7, Wu Xiaoguang, vice general engineer of China's aircraft carrier project, said the number of carriers China will build depends on the country's needs to safeguard its maritime and national interests. "What I can tell you now is that the Liaoning is only a beginning," Wu was quoted as saying. ^ top ^

China, ROK hold high-level strategic dialogue (Xinhua)
2012-11-27
The foreign ministries of China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) held their fifth high-level strategic dialogue in Beijing on Monday. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun and ROK First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ahn Ho-young attended the talks. Zhang said China-ROK relations have developed in an all-round manner and yielded fruitful results since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1992. Looking to the future, Zhang called on the two countries to step up strategic communications, deepen pragmatic cooperation, increase multilateral consultation and coordination, properly settle sensitive issues and seek new progress in cooperative partnerships. Ahn echoed Zhang's call, saying the ROK government placed great value in developing ties with China. No matter who wins the presidential election in the near future, the new ROK government will continue to value its ties with China and make efforts to develop bilateral ties, Ahn vowed. The two senior officials also exchanged views on international and regional issues of common concern. The high-level strategic dialogue between the foreign ministries of China and ROK started in 2008 in Beijing in accordance with agreement among leaders of the two countries. Since then, Beijing and Seoul have taken turns in hosting the annual dialogue. ^ top ^

China-Malaysia industrial park attracts huge investment (Xinhua)
2012-11-27
China and Malaysia have inked six agreements for projects forming part of the first industrial park jointly built by the two countries, authorities of the park announced on Monday at a session in Beijing. China and Malaysia in April launched the park in southwest China's Qinzhou City in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The joint steering council said at its first session that the projects have an investment value of 2.93 billion yuan (470 million U.S. dollars), and include food processing, biotechnology, components and parts production for motorcycle and engineering machinery. It is expected that the annual output value of the park will reach 10 billion yuan, it added. "The industrial park is conducive to further cooperation between China and ASEAN nations and the development of strategic emerging industries, as well as pushing forward the leading positions of Guangxi and the Beibu Gulf economic zone in the free trade areas of China and the ASEAN," said Zhang Xiaoqin, secretary of the Qinzhou Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China. The park, with a total planned area of 55 square km near the port of Qinzhou, was first proposed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to Kuala Lumpur in April 2011. It marked China's first such cooperation with an ASEAN member country after the launch of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area on Jan. 1, 2010. Statistics showed that bilateral trade between the two countries in 2011 reached 90 billion U.S. dollars, making China Malaysia's largest export market for the first time and maintaining its status as the Malaysia's biggest source of imports. ^ top ^

China helps launch Sri Lanka's first satellite (SCMP)
2012-11-28
Sri Lanka launched its first communications satellite yesterday in partnership with a Chinese state-owned space technology firm, the Sri Lanka partner said, adding to unease in neighbouring India about Beijing's growing ties with the island nation. The Sri Lankan government has emphasised the launch was a private effort, carried out by SupremeSAT and the China Great Wall Industry Corp. But Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa's youngest son, Rohitha, has been credited in domestic media as the creator of the satellite. Vijith Peiris, chief executive of SupremeSAT, said in Colombo that the launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in western China was successful. The joint launch marked the latest in a series of economic and military ties between the two countries, a relationship that is being closely watched by India. "It reinforces the impression that Sri Lanka is getting slowly but surely closer to China," said Brahma Chellaney, an analyst at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. "From a larger geopolitical perspective, it sends a message to India that a country in its own backyard is cozying up with China." [...] Rhetoric flared anew recently after China issued a new passport with a map that shows two disputed border areas as Chinese territory. India responded to the new passport by stamping its own map on visas it issues to travellers who hold the Chinese passports. China has been the largest lender to Sri Lanka, a US$59 billion economy, since the end of a three-decade civil war in 2009. Since then, Sri Lanka has sought stronger defence ties with China, a fact that has irked both India and the United States. [...]. ^ top ^

Mainland quashes reports of slowing cross-Strait service trade talks (Xinhua)
2012-11-28
Experts from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan are striving to conclude negotiations on a cross-Strait service trade agreement by the year end, a mainland spokesman said on Wednesday." The negotiations are coming to the finishing stage and the two sides are engaging in intensified communication," said Yang Yi, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, at a press conference. Yang rubbished recent media report from Taiwan which said the negotiations were showing signs of slowing down. The two sides are trying to settle on the service trade agreement as soon as possible before the end of 2012 so as to submit the document to the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to sign at a proper time, he said. [...] Trade in services has been one of the topics on the agenda of ensuing negotiations between the mainland and Taiwan following the signing of the landmark cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement in 2010. ^ top ^

Beijing opens up over naval manoeuvres (SCMP)
2012-11-29
The passage of a People's Liberation Army Navy fleet through waters off Okinawa was reported by mainland state media yesterday shortly after it occurred, a rare departure from past practice that suggests Beijing is improving its military transparency. At least five warships from the East Sea Fleet passed through the Miyako Strait after 10am yesterday on their way to the western Pacific for regular drills, Xinhua reported an hour later. Two Russian-built Sovremenny-class guided-missile destroyers, the Hangzhou and Ningbo, two missile frigates, the Zhoushan and Maanshan, and one supply ship, the Poyanghu, as well as ship-based helicopters and other troops would take part in the drills, the report said, adding that they would conduct day-and-night navigation and live-fire exercises in the Pacific. The defence ministry sometimes gives advance notice of naval drills, and did so this time, but in the past they have often first been reported by the Japanese government or Japanese media, accompanied by grainy pictures of the fleet passing through the strait. The drill coincides with a visit to China by the US navy secretary, Ray Mabus. The Xinhua report gave rare details of the drill, saying the fleet would focus on defensive manoeuvres, replenishment of supplies at sea, escorting large surface ships and rescue work. [...] Ni Lexiong, director of the sea power and defence policy research institute at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said: "The high-profile announcement of the drill and Mabus's visit are aimed at telling the world that Beijing and the Pentagon maintain stable military relations despite the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands between China and Japan, a US ally." [...]. [...]. ^ top ^

China rebuts US claim that the yuan is still significantly undervalued (SCMP)
2012-11-29
China has denied US accusations that the yuan was significantly undervalued, after the US Treasury said the currency's rise so far was insufficient, but stopped short of labelling Beijing a currency manipulator. [...] If the US designates China as a manipulator it would be likely to lead to Washington issuing sanctions, risking a trade war between the world's top two economies. But the Treasury avoided that, although it said that the rise of the yuan, or renminbi (RMB) over the past two years had been "insufficient", based on Beijing's huge foreign exchange reserves and the strong trade surplus. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei denied the accusation. "In recent years the yuan has been approaching equilibrium level. There is no such thing as the yuan being significantly undervalued," he said. "China will continue to press ahead with the reform of the yuan exchange rate regime in a self-initiated, controllable and gradual manner. We hope the US side will deal with trade issues, including the yuan exchange rate issue, appropriately, so as to maintain the sound and steady development of China-US trade relations." In its twice-yearly finding to the US Congress the Treasury said the yuan had gained 9.3 per cent against the dollar between June 2010 and November 2012, and 12.6 per cent when inflation was taken into account. But it said Beijing's foreign currency reserves, trade surplus and other factors "suggest that the real exchange rate of the RMB remains significantly undervalued and further appreciation of the RMB against the dollar and other major currencies is warranted." [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing downplays row over passport map (SCMP)
2012-11-29
Beijing said yesterday that people should not read too much into the placement of a map in new passports that depicts claims to disputed maritime territory, after the US said it would raise concerns with Beijing over the issue. The Philippines and Vietnam have condemned the new microchip-equipped passports, saying the map they incorporate violates their national sovereignty by marking disputed waters as Chinese territory. The Philippine foreign office said it would not stamp the new mainland passports and instead would stamp a separate visa application form "to avoid the Philippines being misconstrued as legitimising" Beijing's claim. India, which also claims two Himalayan regions shown as Chinese territory on the map, is responding by issuing visas stamped with its own version of the borders. "The aim of China's new electronic passports is to strengthen its technological abilities and make it convenient for Chinese citizens to enter or leave the country," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. "The issue of the maps in China's new passports should not be read too much into. China is willing to remain in touch with relevant countries and promote the healthy development of the exchange of people between China and the outside world." US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the US had concerns about the map causing "tension and anxiety" between countries in the South China Sea. Yang Yi, a spokesman for the mainland State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said in Beijing yesterday it had long been the mainland's position that the mainland and Taiwan belonged to one China and the issuing of the new passport did not represent any change in policy. ^ top ^

Patrols in Hainan get more clout (China Daily)
2012-11-29
Police in Hainan will be authorized to board and search ships that illegally enter the province's waters in 2013, the latest Chinese effort to protect the South China Sea. Under a set of regulation revisions the Hainan People's Congress approved on Tuesday, provincial border police are authorized to board or seize foreign ships that illegally enter the province's waters and order them to change course or stop sailing. The full texts of the regulations, which take effect on Jan 1, will soon be released to the public, said Huang Shunxiang, director of the congress's press office. Activities such as entering the island province's waters without permission, damaging coastal defense facilities, and engaging in publicity that threatens national security are illegal. If foreign ships or crew members violate regulations, Hainan police have the right to take over the ships or their communications systems, under the revised regulations. [...] The revisions also emphasized border police should strengthen the patrolling of the waters of Sansha and coordinate with the routine patrols conducted by the country. Sansha, the newest prefecture-level city, which was established in July, administers the islands and waters of the South China Sea. The city is under the jurisdiction of Hainan. [...] An insider from China Marine Surveillance told China Daily that new ships will join the South China Sea patrol fleet soon. On Nov 12, a 3,000-metric-ton inspection ship started patrolling the Yellow Sea, and on Nov 15, another one joined the patrol fleet in the East China Sea. [...]. ^ top ^

China 'buys most illegal timber' (SCMP)
2012-11-30
China's insatiable appetite for timber is driving a growing illegal trade that is stripping forests in Africa and Asia and fuelling conflict, underscoring the urgency for Beijing to enact laws to crack down, an environment group said this week. The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) claimed China was the world's top importer of illegal timber, with the trade worth about US$4 billion a year. Globally, Interpol estimates total trade in illegal timber is more than US$30 billion. The EIA released its report, "Appetite for Destruction: China's Trade in Illegal Timber", in Beijing to highlight what it said was China's lack of action, in contrast to major trading partners such as the United States. "China has built a vast wood-processing industry, reliant on imports for most of its raw materials supply. It is in effect exporting deforestation," the group said. It said China's state-owned companies played a major role in securing supplies from overseas. An EIA analysis of China's trade data for 2007 showed state-owned firms imported nearly half the volume of tropical logs that year. The EIA, drawing on its own investigations and the work of Interpol, the World Bank and others, said China's demand for timber had fuelled conflict in Myanmar, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea as well as Africa. [...] Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China was willing to work with the international community to protect forests. "We resolutely oppose and crack down on the illegal felling of timber and relevant trading behaviour," he said. [...] "More than half of China's current supplies of raw timber material are sourced from countries with a high risk of illegal logging and poor forest governance," the EIA said. By contrast, China's forest cover has increased because of tough forest protection laws and replanting programmes, it said. The EIA estimated that China imported at least 18.5 million cubic metres of illegal logs and sawn timber in 2011, worth US$3.7 billion. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

About 1.12 mln sit national public servant exam (Xinhua)
2012-11-25
About 1.12 million candidates sat the National Public Servant Exam on Sunday, an increase of 150,000 from last year, according to a State Administration of Civil Service. One out of 53 exam takers will be successful in gaining a government post, according to the administration. [...] The popularity of the exam has been attributed to mounting pressures in finding employment, fairness of the test, and an attractive civil servant job which is stable and respected. This year, a record 1.5 million candidates submitted online applications for about 21,000 government jobs to be filled next year. Enthusiasm towards the exam has triggered concerns of students' power worship, and brain drain from other economically productive social sectors. The Ministry of Education on Saturday said the employment market for college graduates will be tougher next year. The number of college graduates will reach 6.99 million in 2013, 190,000 more than that in 2012, the ministry said. It ordered universities across the country to increase the number of teachers specialized in assisting graduates to look for jobs. There should be at least one such teacher for every 500 graduates. [...]. ^ top ^

Xi cements control over PLA with unique background (SCMP)
2012-11-26
Xi Jinping, now firmly in command of both the world's largest political party and army, is poised to become a stronger military chief than his immediate predecessors, analysts say. The vice-president has already surprised many with how quickly he has established his authority over the People's Liberation Army. Just one week after taking over as chairman of the party's Central Military Commission (CMC) - a post some believed President Hu Jintao might attempt to keep for two more years - Xi demonstrated his grip on power by appointing his PLA general on Friday. In a Xinhua photo of the ceremony to install Wei Fenghe as commander of the country's strategic missile force. [...] Such experiences make him better prepared than Hu or Jiang Zemin, who both struggled to solidify control amid the lingering influence of their predecessors. [...] Having a strong commander-in-chief is of growing importance to China as it enters a new era of increased territorial disputes with its neighbours and anxiety over the country's rise in military power. [...] "Xi is facing the most knotty military-diplomatic problem that his predecessors Mao, Deng, Jiang and Hu never had to face," said Antony Wong Dong, president of the International Military Association in Macau. "But today, the PLA is trying to narrow its gap with Western countries, especially the US." [...] Xi not only served in the PLA, but had an opportunity to see military diplomacy up close. When he was a 27-year-old junior officer, Xi accompanied former defence minister Geng Biao on a trip to the Pentagon, which included a visit to a US aircraft carrier. He later spent 17 years in Fujian province, where, due to its close proximity to Taiwan, he would have frequently encountered the delicate issues of cross-strait relations. [...]. ^ top ^

Cost of living on the up in China (SCMP)
2012-11-27
The fast rising cost of living in the mainland's international cities like Beijing and Shanghai is making it increasingly hard for expats to justify the decision to live and work on the mainland. Perhaps in no area is this more clear than in the soaring price of groceries. In the capital, the prices of most items on the supermarket shelves now far exceed the prices of similar items in Hong Kong and London, which have long been among the world's most costly cities. A South China Morning Post survey of some commonly bought grocery items found that a 500 gram loaf of bread that sells for HK$8.60 in Hong Kong and the equivalent of HK$9.93 in London, cost the equivalent of HK$13.52 in Beijing. Similarly, a 250 gram bag of Starbucks coffee beans cost HK$80 in Hong Kong and HK$50 in London, but HK$105 in Beijing. Across the board, imported and foreign brand items were often more expensive in Beijing, although locally produced items, such as eggs, were cheaper. [...] The latest annual cost of living survey by the compensation-consulting firm Mercer found Beijing and Shanghai to be pricier than New York and London. Shanghai was ranked 16th followed by Beijing at 17th, ahead of London (25th) and New York (32nd). Hong Kong, however, was still pricer, ranking ninth. [...] A cost of living survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit concurred, placing Beijing and Shanghai ahead of leading world financial centres, like London and New York. [...]. ^ top ^

Birth rule could be relaxed (China Daily)
2012-11-28
Changes to the family planning policy are being considered, and action plans have been drawn up, amid a graying society and other demographic challenges, according to a former minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission. The commission and other population research institutes have handed in assessment reports and action plans concerning policy change to the government, Zhang Wei-qing, director of the Population, Resources and Environment Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told China Daily. According to Zhang, one of the key areas of possible change will concern the criteria for urban couples having a second child. At present, only parents who are themselves an only child are allowed to have a second child. Under the proposed changes, couples will be able to have a second child even if one of them is not an only child. "China's population policy has always taken into account demographic changes but any fine-tuning to the policy should be gradual and consider the situation in different areas," Zhang said. The relaxed policy might first be implemented in more economically productive regions that are facing greater demographic challenges, especially an aging population and a large influx of migrant workers, he said. [...] The national fertility rate (the average number of children a woman has during her lifetime) stands at about 1.7, far below the replacement level of 2.1. "Even with the policy further relaxing, there won't be any sharp rise in the population," Zhang said, adding that an ideal fertility rate should be at least 1.8. [...] "We can see that the population policy was always diversified and dynamic," Zhang noted. "So the coming fine-tuning to the one-child rule is just a step forward to improve the policy," he explained. [...] However, easing the policy alone will not fix all the demographic problems. Zhang echoed the sentiment adding that "other issues, like facilitating the migrant population in cities and largely improving the overall health of newborns have to be addressed as well as facilitating healthy population development". ^ top ^

Premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang meets Aids activists (SCMP)
2012-11-28
Premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang held an unusual meeting with Aids activists from across the nation, the latest indication that the new leadership aims to project a more proactive and inclusive image. Tianjin Aids activist Li Hu told the South China Morning Post that the executive vice-premier met representatives from 12 NGOs at the Ministry of Health on Monday afternoon, along with ministry party chief Zhang Mao and Health Minister Chen Zhu. Li Keqiang vowed to fight public-sector discrimination towards patients with HIV/Aids and called an inter-ministerial meeting that same day to discuss better ways to protect the rights of patients with the disease, according to Li Hu. [...] Last week, the vice-premier personally called on the Health Ministry to intervene after it was revealed that a lung cancer patient was denied treatment by public hospitals in Tianjin until he lied about his HIV status. As of last year, China had 346,000 registered HIV carriers and Aids patients, although the actual number of infected was estimated to be 780,000, according to a Xinhua report. The issue was also behind one of the biggest black marks on Li's career: efforts to cover up a massive HIV outbreak in Henan province in the late 1990s when Li was governor. Tens of thousands of farmers contracted HIV from tainted blood acquired through government blood-donation schemes in the early and mid-1990s. Although Li was not involved in the programme, his muzzling of the media and crackdowns on protests were controversial. [...]. ^ top ^

China's cabinet warns of rural land expropriation (Xinhua)
2012-11-28
Rural stability and grain supply security face a number of challenges due to excessive land expropriation in the country's urbanization move, China's cabinet has warned. The cabinet demanded more reforms and a better legal system to solve the problem, vowing stricter regulation on farmland expropriation. After an executive meeting of the State Council, presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, a cabinet statement said, "Rural land has been expropriated too much and too fast as industrialization and urbanization accelerate. It not only affects stability in the countryside but also threatens grain security." The meeting passed a draft law amendment that altered rules on how to compensate farmers whose collectively-owned land is expropriated, the statement said. The draft amendment, passed on Wednesday, will be submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, for deliberations, according to the statement. The cabinet also urged giving more priority to the countryside in the government's efforts to boost investment and consumption to bolster a slowing economy. The government must make efforts to beef up support for farmers and place rural development in a more important position, it said. Protests by farmers over land seizures have erupted in villages across the country in recent years, prompting calls for better protection of farmers' property rights to the land they have contracted. [...]. ^ top ^

Li Keqiang wants tax breaks for NGOs specialising in Aids/HIV work (SCMP)
2012-11-29
Premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang has asked the Ministry of Finance to arrange a pilot programme that would give tax breaks to NGOs specialising in HIV/Aids prevention, as part of the government's attempt to reach out to grass-roots groups to help fight the disease. "The promotion of institutional reform in society requires the participation of [all] forces of society," Li said at an inter-ministerial meeting on Aids prevention this week, adding that reformation in supporting NGOs' work on Aids prevention could provide lessons for broader social reform. The government assembly and Li's surprise meeting with 12 Aids activist groups on Monday, reported by the Post yesterday, was not made public on the mainland through state media until last night. Stressing that the role of non-governmental organisations in Aids prevention "is an irreplaceable and unique force", Li was reported by CCTV as telling the NGO representatives that they "will be given greater space to play [their] role". In the CCTV report, Li was shown shaking hands with the NGOs representatives, some of whom have the disease. Discrimination against people with HIV/Aids is common in China. Li asked officials in the inter-ministerial meeting to explore setting up an Aids-prevention fund, buying NGOs services as well as offering tax breaks and even exemption to NGOs. The high-level meeting came after the vice-premier personally called the Health Ministry to weigh in on a case in which a lung cancer patient was denied treatment by public hospitals in Tianjin until he lied about his HIV status. "The incident led us to realise that we still face a lot of problems, even though we've made marked achievements in HIV/Aids prevention work," he said, stressing that all of society should confront the disease head-on. [...] Li, who chairs the State Council Aids Working Committee Office, faces a daunting task in containing the virus, which is spreading fast in high-risk groups. The health authority announced yesterday that 17,740 Aids-related deaths were reported from January to October, a year-on-year increase of 8.6 per cent. The health ministry said the latest figures show that 34,157 new cases of Aids were reported in the 10-month period, up 12.7 per cent year-on-year. [...]. ^ top ^

Poverty rate higher in ethnic minority areas (China Daily)
2012-11-29
The poverty rate in regions populated by ethnic minorities is 13.8 percentage points higher than China's national average, according official statistics. A survey released Wednesday by the State Ethnic Affairs Commission revealed that in 2011, there were 39.17 million impoverished people living in rural areas of eight provinces and autonomous regions predominantly inhabited by ethnic minorities -- Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Tibet, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Guizhou and Qinghai. They accounted for 26.5 percent of the total rural population in those autonomous regions and provinces, and made up 32 percent of the poor people living in countryside of the 31 provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland, according to the commission. Among these impoverished people in the eight regions, nearly 80 percent are from Guangxi, Guizhou and Yunnan. China last year raised its national poverty threshold for farmers to 2,300 yuan ($365.6) in annual net income from the previous 1,274 yuan set in 2010, including more people into the government's poverty alleviation projects. Under the new threshold standard, China last year had 122 million people eligible for government anti-poverty subsidies, or 12.7 percent of the rural population. Ethnic minority regions are still the crucial and most challenging parts in the country's poverty alleviation, the commission said. [...]. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping pledges renewal of the nation (SCMP)
2012-11-30
Two weeks after being installed as general secretary of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping took another step forward as the new paramount leader yesterday by making his second high-profile public speech. In the nationally televised speech, carried by state broadcaster China Central Television's prime-time news last night, the president-in-waiting appealed to the nation and its people to unite under the party's new leadership and achieve what he called "China's renaissance". "We are at the closest point towards the Chinese nation's renaissance than any time in modern history … and I am sure we will accomplish our goal," Xi, 59, said as the other six members of the party's supreme Politburo Standing Committee and members of the party's secretariat, its nerve centre, stood by his side. The speech lasted for more than 10 minutes. [...] "Empty talk is useless; only hard work can achieve the revival of a nation," Xi said. He made the speech after visiting an exhibition entitled "China's Road to Renaissance" at a Beijing museum with the other Politburo Standing Committee members. Analysts said Xi's high-profile activities suggested he was moving quickly to consolidate his hold on power in preparation for taking over from Hu Jintao. "He appears to be strong and assertive due to his strong political resources as a son of a revolutionary and his swift action indicates that he has moved faster to consolidate his power," said Zhang Lifan, a political affairs analyst formerly with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. [...] Xi, looking confident and composed, spoke without a prepared speech, in stark contrast to his predecessors. [...]. ^ top ^

Aids patients march through Beijing (SCMP)
2012-11-30
More than 100 HIV/Aids patients from Henan, where future premier Li Keqiang held senior government or Communist Party posts for six years, took to the streets of Beijing yesterday, calling on the party's new leadership to meet their demands for more attention and better care. With red ribbons pinned to their overcoats to mark tomorrow's World Aids Day, they sang the national anthem as they marched down the city centre's Wangfujing Road and then on towards the Ministry of Civil Affairs, watched by police all the way. The petitioners have tried to have their appeals heard by various government agencies for years without success, but their hope has been renewed by the party's leadership transition and recent remarks by Li. He has been hailed by the mainland media for showing concern and reaching out to the HIV/Aids community after an HIV patient in Tianjin was denied medical care. [...] But Aids activist Hu Jia said the Aids community should not pin too much hope on Li because "it was only a show" and it was under Li's rule that the province responded to the country's largest HIV/Aids epidemic with a crackdown on Aids activists and victims. "Li did not play any constructive role in anti-Aids work during his rule in Henan and he is ultimately responsible for the crackdown on Aids activists back then," Hu said. "My first detention for Aids work actually happened in Henan." He said Li was only following a tradition established in 2003 that saw either the president or premier show concern and shake hands with Aids patients ahead of World Aids Day. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Professor 'beaten up' by Shenzhen police now claims flat was broken into (SCMP)
2012-28-11
A Guangzhou professor who on Monday accused Shenzhen police of beating him up says his flat appears to have been broken into while he slept later that night. The professor, Dr Chen Qingqiu - an outspoken critic of construction quality at his apartment complex - said he awoke yesterday morning to discover his computer keyboard smashed and the shoes and storage boxes on his balcony out of their normal order. "My shoes and storage boxes on my balcony are always lined up perfectly," Chen, 45, who teaches economics at the South China University of Technology, told the South China Morning Post. "Someone broke into my apartment … from the balcony last night." The previous day, Chen had spoken to the Post and shared video clips showing him arguing with Shenzhen police who arrived for a midnight inspection of his hotel room while he was in town for a conference. He said he was held for six hours and roughed up by police officers. A policeman from Shenzhen's Nanshan branch has denied that officers beat anyone up. Chen said he does not believe anything was stolen from the break-in and that he was not sure who could be behind it, but said: "Whoever did this was not after my household possessions, but to intimidate me, threatening me to stay silent." The professor had protested during the 18th party congress earlier this month at what he said was poor construction at his apartment complex in the former Asian Games media village. He petitioned authorities in both Beijing and Guangzhou about cracks on the walls of his apartment and water seeping through its floors, in the process earning the ire of the government and the building's developer. "I'm really stressed out right now but I must remain calm to process what's happening," Chen said. "I'm not afraid … I only fear something worse might happen to me and it will be devastating for my family.". ^ top ^

Shenzhen village official's accuser taken into custody (SCMP)
2012-11-29
A man who accused a senior village official in Shenzhen of being corrupt and owning more than 80 properties and 20 cars was arrested by police on Tuesday before he was scheduled to provide more evidence to reporters. A spokesman for the police bureau in the city's Longgang district confirmed to the South China Morning Post yesterday that Zhou Zujie, a 41-year-old resident of Nanlian village, was detained for alleged commercial fraud. He is one of a handful of people who accused village official Zhou Weisi, in an open letter that has been widely circulated online since Sunday, of owning assets worth more than 2 billion yuan (HK$2.47 billion). [...] Zhou Zujie's family and other villagers have questioned whether his sudden arrest was the result of retribution from the official, but Longgang police denied such speculation, saying his arrest was not linked to the allegations. "Longgang police started investigating Zhou Zujie in June for falsely reporting the registered capital of a landscaping company under his name," police told the Post, adding that he falsely reported the company's registered capital in May as 5 million yuan instead of the real 100,000 yuan. Police also alleged he acquired more than 3 million yuan in land-requisition compensation by pretending to own property that was not in his name. Longgang police said they detained Zhou Zujie in May and formally arrested him in July, but he was later released on bail. "However, after further investigation, police found that Zhou [Zujie] falsely reported the registered capital for three other companies under his name, and prosecutors decided to arrest him [on Tuesday]," the police said. The arrest came the same day the village official was suspended and placed under investigation. ^ top ^

Guangdong officers use internet to accuse ex-boss Zheng Beiquan of graft (SCMP)
2012-11-29
Two former senior Guangdong police officers landed their former boss in custody after exposing graft allegations against him on the internet. Zheng Beiquan, 41, formerly deputy mayor and public security bureau chief in Yingde, had been taken for investigation by Qingyuan's discipline inspection committee, the anti-graft body said on Monday. Yingde is a county-level city under the supervision of Qingyuan. Zheng is accused of bending the law for personal gain and involvement in "serious economic problems". No details were given. The investigation began after an open letter was posted in several mainland chat rooms in September accusing Zheng of acting as a "protective umbrella" for a drug gang and exerting his influence to prevent an investigation. The letter was signed by a former deputy director of Yingde's public security bureau, Xie Longsheng, and its former political commissar, Zhu Yingzhong. A source close to Xie and Zhu yesterday said the two officials were forced to leave the city's bureaucracy in August and had reported Zheng to the authorities at various levels. "They decided to make the real-name report because they believed Zheng's corrupt activities would be uncovered in the future," the source said. "If they didn't report it today, they would have become involved in Zheng's crimes and be treated as his pals. "But they are still worried about their safety. Justice is still not guaranteed as Zheng is only under investigation." Xie and Zhu said they had led a police team in a March 23 raid on a Yingde hotel that was a base for drug dealers. The raid netted 38 members of a suspected drug-dealing ring and more than 100 drug users. The pair said Zheng had put pressure on the team after they discovered that Zheng's brother and one of his classmates were the hotel's main shareholders. In July, Zheng allegedly forced the team to delete the files of the 38 suspected drug dealers, and in August Xie and Zhu were removed from their public security bureau posts. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetan protests against Chinese rule in new phase (SCMP)
2012-11-28
Two dozen Tibetans have set themselves on fire in western China this month in a dramatic acceleration of the protests against authoritarian Chinese rule, activist groups say. The surge in self-immolations, along with an increase in large demonstrations, mark a new phase in the Tibetan protests. At least 86 people have set themselves on fire since the immolations began in 2009. In a change in recent months, most self-immolators now are lay people – some of them acting together – rather than Buddhist monks and nuns who can be more closely watched by the authorities because they live in tightly monitored monasteries. The protests have also sought to avoid direct attacks on authorities and government property, acts used in past to label them as riots or terrorism, providing an excuse for greater oppression. Despite the altered approach, observers see little short-term possibility of Beijing changing its repressive policies. “I think the problem will just escalate over time. The government shows no inclination to respond positively to recommendations for reform from the outside or Tibetans,” said Michael Davis, a law professor and expert on Tibet at the University of Hong Kong. In the latest immolation, 24-year-old Kalsang Kyab doused himself with kerosene and set himself alight on Tuesday in front of local government offices in Kyangtsa in Aba prefecture, a hotbed of unrest, according to London-based Free Tibet and other groups. [...] The combination of immolations and large-scale protests is posing a new challenge for security forces, which have been stationed in large numbers in Tibetan areas in recent years. The surge in self-immolations represents an awareness of the impact they are having among the Tibetan community and internationally, said Robbie Barnett, a Tibet expert at New York's Columbia University. That would likely inspire further protests, increasing the numbers of Tibetans willing to take their lives for the sake of their community, he said. [...] The immolations have galvanised many Tibetans, who see them as selfless acts of sacrifice, making it hard for authorities to denounce the immolators. Similarly, protests by students are hard to demonise since they are typically non-violent and centred on issues such as language rights that are guaranteed under the Chinese Constitution. While local authorities have cracked down hard following the self-immolations and other protests, authorities in Beijing have said relatively little other than to issue routine denunciations of the Dalai Lama and his followers. That indicates they are uncertain how to respond in a way that would bolster their authority and prevent the acts of defiance snow-balling into a full-blown protest movement, Barnett said. “This suggests that the Tibetans have found a way of at least getting under the skin of the authorities,” he said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Fixing Hong Kong's ailing relationship with Beijing under the new guard (SCMP)
2012-11-26
With the new leadership in Beijing confirmed, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will next month pay his first visit to the capital since taking office. But who will he meet there? The incumbent state leaders, such as President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, or the new party chief and future president Xi Jinping and incoming premier Li Keqiang? Or will he meet the leaders of both generations? [...] Meanwhile, any meeting between Leung and Li Yuanchao would have particular significance. Li is a former chief of the party's powerful Organisation Department and a member of the Politburo, although predictions he would join the Standing Committee were wide off the mark. It is increasingly clear he will take over a post Xi holds, overseeing Hong Kong and Macau affairs. A senior Beijing official who once worked with Li and who is familiar with Hong Kong affairs said of him: "Li is regarded as open-minded, a workaholic who cares about details and is quite hands-on regarding important issues. We expect he will very closely watch Hong Kong's latest developments to make timely adjustments on Hong Kong policies accordingly." All seven members of the Standing Committee have some experience with Hong Kong. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing may scrutinise Hong Kong laws, says Rita Fan (SCMP)
2012-11-26
Hong Kong residents should not be surprised if the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress exercises its power to scrutinise local laws, veteran Beijing loyalist Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said yesterday. Fan's view echoed that of Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, made in an article last week on the implementation of "one country, two systems". That opinion was "hugely misleading", Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said, as the power of the NPC Standing Committee to review Hong Kong legislation was limited under the Basic Law. Fan, who also sits on the committee, said the national legislature had been "relatively lax" in wielding its power and might take a "more rigid" approach. "The article might be reminding us that there exists an arrangement [for the committee to scrutinise local laws], so that we won't be surprised when the power is exercised," she told TVB show On the Record. Under Article 17 of the Basic Law, laws enacted by the Legislative Council must be reported to the NPC Standing Committee. The committee may return a law related to foreign affairs, national defence or mainland-Hong Kong relations if it is judged inconsistent with Hong Kong's mini-constitution. Of the more than 500 new laws enacted since the handover, none had been returned by the committee. Leong said he was "taken aback" by Fan's remarks. "It gives Hong Kong people the impression that the Standing Committee holds wider powers than it has, to monitor local legislation," he said. "This is simply not the case. "We should stick with the Basic Law, which is the ultimate safeguard of 'one country, two systems'.". ^ top ^

Hong Kong ranks third in global study of cognitive skills (SCMP)
2012-28-11
Hong Kong ranked third in an international survey of students' cognitive skills and educational attainment, behind South Korea and Finland. Japan and Singapore trailed behind the city, despite being among the top five in the Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment study by the Economist Intelligence Unit released yesterday. The survey compared the performances of grade 8 and grade 4 pupils in 40 countries in mathematics, reading and science, based on their results in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment, and the international Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study assessments. [...] The index is in The Learning Curve, a research report published by educational company Pearson, which has information on education inputs and outputs in more than 50 countries. While factors like government spending on education, school entrance age, teacher salaries and degree of school choice are believed to affect educational quality, the report points out that simply pouring resources into a system is not enough: far more important are the processes which use these resources. Cultural change towards education and ambition are equally, if not more, important than income in promoting better educational outcomes. But there is no doubt about the importance of good teachers. "The impact of good teachers extends beyond positive educational outcomes and can be linked to positive societal factors, such as lower levels of teenage pregnancy," the report says. "The best performing countries attract top talent, train teachers throughout their careers and allow them freedom." [...]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Kuomintang celebrates 118th anniversary of its founding (Xinhua)
2012-11-24
Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party celebrated the 118th anniversary of its founding on Saturday by paying tribute to the party's late founding father. Accompanied by the party's senior officials, KMT Chairman and Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou visited Dr. Sun Yat-sen's memorial hall in Taipei, laying a wreath at Sun's bronze statue. [...] Amid drizzle, KMT Honorary Chairman Wu Po-hsiung, who is on a visit to the Chinese mainland, on Saturday paid tribute to a resting place of 72 martyrs who died in a uprising in April 1911, led by the Tongmenghui under the leadership of Dr. Sun. Wu, after laying a wreath at the Huanghuagang Martyrs' Cemetery in Guangzhou City, said the Huanghuagang Uprising, though it failed, woke up the nation, inspired later uprisings and the Revolution of 1911 which eventually overthrew the last imperial dynasty and led to the founding of the republic. [...]. ^ top ^

Taiwan workers throw eggs at police in protest over economy (SCMP)
2012-11-25
Taiwanese workers pelted police with eggs on Sunday as thousands took to the streets demanding the government change economic policies which they say favour big business. “Up to 5,000 eggs were thrown to vent our anger,” Lin Tze-wen, the spokesman for the protest, said at the end of the march. The protest ended at the presidential office square, which was cordoned off by barbed wire and hundreds of riot police. Organisers said up to 4,000 people from more than 50 labour groups took part in the event, while police put the turnout at about 3,000. No clashes with police were reported during the three-hour rally aimed at pushing the government to “turn left” in various economic and labour policies. “Under the thinking of new liberalism, the current policies apparently have been benefiting the capitalists and the benefits of economic development have been unevenly distributed,” Lin said. [...] In the latest measure to anger unionists, the government in September refused to support a proposal to raise the minimum monthly wage to Tw$19,047 (HK$5,000) from the current Tw$18,780. Several business leaders had said a rise would hit firms struggling amid the global economic downturn. Income levels have remained nearly flat for the past decade while the October jobless rate rose to 4.33 per cent. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's power consumption rises 6% in 2012 (China Daily)
2012-11-23
China's electricity use will grow by around 6 percent to 5 trillion kilowatt-hours for the whole year as the central government's measures to boost the economy took effect, said the State Electricity Regulatory Commission on its website on Wednesday. China consumed 399.8 billion kilowatt-hours in October, an increase of about 6.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Energy Administration. Power use rose 2.9 percent year-on-year in September and 3.6 percent in August. The growth was 11.7 percent in 2011. The commission said use in the fourth quarter will continue to rise as the economy recovers. Since the beginning of the year, the growth rate of the country's power use has kept falling until October, the commission said. ^ top ^

Beijing steps back from coal pricing (SCMP)
2012-11-27
Beijing plans to stop its annual meddling in the pricing of power-station coal for the first time since 2008 following a 25 per cent drop in the fuel's price in the past year. In the annual contract negotiation due to begin next month, the National Development and Reform Commission, the mainland's peak economic planning body, would no longer force electricity suppliers and coal producers to fix the price and volume on some their annual dealings along government lines, the official Shanghai Securities News reported, without citing sources. But in "extraordinary situations", Beijing would still step in on a temporary basis to control prices, it added. The commission has submitted the proposal to the State Council, the country's cabinet, together with a plan to "improve" a mechanism launched in 2005 to link coal and power prices, but which was never properly implemented due to inflation concerns, the report said. [...] Under the 2005 "coal cost pass-through" mechanism, the commission would raise power prices if coal costs rose by more than 5 per cent in a six-month period, allowing 70 per cent of the increased costs to be passed on to power distributors and electricity consumers. The authorities have intervened in pricing every year since at least 2003, when coal prices began to soar on the back of strong economic growth and years of under-investment in new mines. Between 2003 and 2007, Beijing let coal buyers and sellers wrangle over prices for a few months before stepping in at the last minute to resolve their differences, usually by capping coal price increases, complemented sometimes with a delayed power price rise. But since 2008, due to high inflation, Beijing has taken a more proactive role in freezing or capping coal prices, often ahead of the beginning of the annual price negotiations. Even so, power producers recorded widespread losses in 2008, 2010 and the first half of last year, as Beijing was reluctant to raise power prices to help efforts to tame consumer price increases. Most producers returned to the black this year after a power price rise in December and sharp falls in coal prices. [...]. ^ top ^

Tax cut to benefit 900,000 enterprises (Xinhua)
2012-11-27
China's new round of structural tax cutting is likely to benefit more than 900,000 enterprises nationwide, according to a working conference held on Monday to discuss the country's piloting of replacing business tax with a value-added tax. About 710,000 enterprises have been covered by the tax-cutting program, and another 200,000 will be included starting from Dec 1 this year, according to the meeting jointly held by the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation.Shanghai piloted the program on Jan 1 this year in an effort to decrease the overall tax burden and boost the transportation and service sectors. The pilot was then expanded to provincial regions including Beijing, Guangdong and Zhejiang later this year. Tianjin, Hubei, Zhejiang and Ningbo will also join the program from next month, under previous plans. All the works are progressing in an orderly and effectively manner, and the performances of the launched pilot programs have exceeded previous expectations, said representatives at the conference. The reform has effectively promoted the growth of tertiary industry, especially the service sector, and encouraged the development of small and micro-sized enterprises, those present at the meeting agreed. In Shanghai, the tax cut has helped reduce enterprises' tax burdens by 22.5 billion yuan ($3.57 billion) in the first 10 months of this year, while in Beijing, the new measure has cut tax revenue by 2.5 billion yuan in two months. At the meeting, Vice Finance Minister Wang Jun urged further work to ensure full success of the pilot programs, following the development blueprint mapped out at the recently concluded 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and related government meetings. ^ top ^

NDRC approves 75b yuan rail projects (China Daily)
2012-11-27
China's top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, approved infrastructure projects valued at 75 billion yuan ($12 billion), in an effort to stabilize China's slowing economic growth.The news was announced on the commission's website on Monday. The projects include a city railway in Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province, a railway between Fuzhou and Pingtan, an island off the coast about 130 kilometers from Fuzhou, and the 2012-2019 city railway planning of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region. China City Railway Transportation Association said by 2015 total investment in China's city railways would amount to 1.2 trillion yuan. By 2020, a total of 40 Chinese cities will have, or will be building, city railways. The length will be 7,000 kilometers, 4.3 times the current level. Analysts said the city railways and railway make up the majority of the NDRC's projects for approval. ^ top ^

Sharp increase in factory profit (China Daily)
2012-11-28
Factory profit rose at the fastest pace in 10 months in October, driven by increasing investment projects at home and export orders. The National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday that large companies (with annual business worth more than 20 million yuan) reported profits of 500.1 billion yuan ($80 billion) in October, a jump of 20.5 percent year-on-year. In September, the figure was just 7.8 percent, following a minus 6.2 percent in August. The five months to September saw consecutive losses. October figures were responsible for a marginal 0.5 percent profit for the 10 months, the bureau reported. The October figures are a "positive sign," said Liu Yuanchun, deputy dean of the Renmin University of China's School of Economics. "They could send a signal to the government that there is no need for further stimulus, at least in the short term." [...] GDP growth will be 7.9 percent year-on-year in the last three months of the year, he said. Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS AG, said that investment in manufacturing might show moderate growth through 2013, while investment in infrastructure could experience higher growth. Wang forecast that China's GDP growth might be 7.6 percent this year and around 8 percent in 2013. [...] From January to October this year, 27 of the 41 sectors covered by the bureau's data showed net revenue increases compared with a year earlier. The gains in the electricity and heating companies surged 57.5 percent and the growth was 9 percent in the auto industry. In the meantime, 13 industries reported a drop in profits, including oil and gas exploration companies with earnings decreasing 3.2 percent. The petrochemicals, coking and nuclear-fuel processing industries showed losses in the first 10 months. ^ top ^

China's 2020 GDP forecast to reach 100 trln yuan (Xinhua)
2012-11-28
The size of China's economy in 2020 will be close to that of the United States in 2012, an economic official forecast on Wednesday. China's gross domestic product is expected to reach 100 trillion yuan in 2020, equivalent to 16 to 20 trillion U.S. dollars, Yang Weimin, vice head of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Finance and Economic Affairs, said at a press conference. In 2020, China's per-capita GDP will likely exceed 10,000 U.S. dollars, almost double the amount in 2011, according to Yang. By 2020, the country will double its 2010 GDP and per-capita income for both urban and rural residents, President Hu Jintao said at the opening of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China earlier this month. Yang said the target of doubling per-capita income by 2020 will be met only when the per-capita disposable income of urban residents rises 7 percent every year and if the per-capita net income of rural residents increases 6.7 percent annually over the next nine years. As the country's central and western regions have huge potential for economic development, residents there will see their incomes rise faster than those in eastern parts over the next few years, the official added. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

PRK denounces Israel's attack on Palestine (Xinhua)
2012-11-24
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday denounced Israel's large-scale military attack on the Gaza Strip as a "gangster-like act," the official news agency KCNA reported. "We strongly denounce Israel's gangster-like act and extend full support and solidarity to the Palestinians in their just cause," a DPRK foreign ministry spokesman was quoted by the KCNA as saying. "This is an unpardonable criminal act of wantonly violating the sovereignty of Palestine and seriously harassing peace and security in the Middle East," the unnamed spokesman said, adding it was imperative for lasting peace in the Middle East to ensure the Palestinian people's legitimate national right to found a sovereign state. [...]. ^ top ^

Increased activity seen at North Korean missile launch site (SCMP)
2012-11-27
A new satellite image shows a marked increase in activity at a North Korean missile launch site, pointing to a possible long-range ballistic missile test by Pyongyang in the next three weeks, according to satellite operator DigitalGlobe. The imagery was released days after a Japanese newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun, reported that US intelligence analysts had detected moves that were seen as preparation by North Korea for a long-range missile launch as early as this month. DigitalGlobe, which provides commercial satellite imagery to the US government and foreign governments, on Monday released a new image that it said showed increased activity at North Korea's Sohae (West Sea) Satellite Launch Station. It said the imagery showed more people, trucks and other equipment at the site, a level of activity that was consistent with launch preparations seen before North Korea's failed April 13 rocket launch. “Given the observed level of activity noted of a new tent, trucks, people and numerous portable fuel/oxidizer tanks, should North Korea desire, it could possibly conduct its fifth satellite launch event during the next three weeks,” DigitalGlobe said in a statement accompanying the image. [...] North Korea, under heavy UN sanctions for its nuclear weapons programme, has tried for years to influence major events in South Korea by waging propaganda or armed attacks. South Korea is gearing up for a presidential election on December 19. ^ top ^

DPRK rejects UN body's human rights resolution (Xinhua)
2012-11-28
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) denounced a human rights resolution adopted by the Third Committee of the 67th UN General Assembly on Tuesday, the official KCNA news agency reported Wednesday. "The DPRK flatly rejects and vehemently denounces the anti-DPRK 'human rights resolution' which the hostile forces adopted to bring down the Korean-style socialist system centered on the popular masses by abusing the noble idea of human rights, prompted by their sinister political purposes," a foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying. "The resolution peppered with stereotyped lies and false stories does not deserve even a passing note as it is a politically motivated one aimed at serving the purposes of the hostile forces." The Western forces are blindly following the United States' hostile policy toward the DPRK "out of inveterate repugnance" toward its socialist system, the spokesman said, adding that the "absurd political chicanery" is aimed at playing down the increasing international prestige of the DPRK. The Third Committee of the 67th UN General Assembly on Tuesday adopted a resolution criticizing the DPRK's human rights record, according to media reports. ^ top ^

N Korea replaces its defence minister with hardline general (SCMP)
2012-11-30
North Korea has replaced its defence minister with a hardline military commander believed responsible for deadly attacks on South Korea in 2010, diplomats in Pyongyang said. It is the latest in a series of high-profile appointments leader Kim Jong-un has made since he took power nearly a year ago. Diplomats said they were informed that Kim Jong-gak had been replaced as armed forces minister by Kim Kyok-sik, commander of the battalions linked to two deadly attacks in 2010 blamed on North Korea. South Korean officials said they also received similar information about the North Korean personnel changes but gave no further details. [...] Analysts say Kim Jong-un aims to use the personnel change to bolster his grip on the 1.2 million-member military, which forms the backbone of his rule over the country. Kim Jong-un is trying to put his stamp on the military by building loyalty with troops and also by creating tension among generals through personnel changes, said Baek Seung-joo, an analyst at the state-run Korea Institute for Defence Analyses in Seoul. [...] The new defence minister, Kim Kyok-sik, formerly served as North Korea's military chief and as commander of the units blamed in the 2010 attacks. North Korea acknowledges an artillery bombardment of a South Korean island that killed four South Koreans but denies any role in an explosion that sank a South Korean warship that year, killing 46. Kim Kyok-sik is North Korea's third defence minister since Kim Jong-un took power after his father Kim Jong-il's death in December. Previous defence chief Kim Jong-gak had been considered a trusted aide of Kim Jong-un. He was made a vice marshal in February and appointed defence minister in April. He was also one of seven men accompanying Kim Jong-un as he walked alongside a limousine bearing Kim Jong-il's coffin during his December funeral. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Local administrative election results announced (News.mn)
2012-11-28
The Election General Committee has announced the results of the Local Administrative Election which were received from the sub-electoral commissions today. DP has won by a majority of votes in the Local Administrative Election. Previously both big rivals in parliament; DP and MPP, had made statements claiming each has won in the election.The Election General Committee announced DP won with 379 seats, while MPP gained 334 seats, MPRP 16 seats, MPRP-MNDP Justice coalition 45 seats, Civil Will and Green party-MPRP coalition two seats, Civil Will and Green Party only one seat and six independent candidates won in the Citizens Representative Khural in aimags, cities, districts and sums. Six districts in the City where voter attendance did not reach 50 percent will run re-polling. DP won 29 sits, MPP 36 and MPRP two seats in three districts in the City where voters attendance reached the necessary point. According to current results DP won 408, MPP 370 and MPRP 18 seats in totally. The re-polling in six districts will be run on Friday November 30th. ^ top ^

Each province to have diagnosis center (Montsame)
2012-11-28
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag held an online meeting in the Government House's Local Authority Hall with authorities of hospitals and regional diagnosis centers of aimags. The cabinet for reforms intends to turn every aimag's center into a city and to establish in them diagnosis-treatment centers, in this case local inhabitants will not spend big money for medical serviced in the capital city, the Premier said. He presented an initial plan of local diagnosis center co-designed by the Ministry of Health, and said each center, costing some six billion togrog, will be equipped with 14 kinds of diagnosis facilities. During the online meeting, representatives of 17 aimags put their proposals and backed the plan. They said some aimags want to have additional facilities because local features must be considered. The centers buildings must be separate from united hospitals, they added. After this the Premier ordered heads of the regional united hospitals to quickly send to the Health Ministry requests about specific facilities and promised to provide them with necessary diagnosis facilities by the next year. He added that they should work out a survey on staffers to work in the centers. ^ top ^

Mongolia still open to foreign investors (SCMP)
2012-11-28
Mongolia is still open to foreign investment despite a hastily enacted law that subjects foreign investments to government approval and recent calls by some nationalist politicians to renegotiate the terms of a mega copper mining deal with Rio Tinto, a senior government official said. The country was still keen to co-operate with foreign investors, Nemekhbayar Enkhbayar, the head of economy, finance and investment of the Ministry of Mines, said on the sidelines of an investment seminar in Hong Kong yesterday. "Our basic policy is to co-operate with the world. We have no intention or policy to restrict foreign investment," Enkhbayar said. "Our government just wants to know what kind of companies are coming to Mongolia." He called a law enacted in May, which subjects deals above US$75 million and those where foreign firms buy more than 49 per cent of an asset to government approval, a kind of "registration" and vetting rather than a restriction. The law was drafted following alarm over Aluminum Corp of China's announcement that it was bidding for a 60 per cent stake in Mongolian coal miner SouthGobi Resources. [...] Enkhbayar played down concerns that some politicians want to reopen an investment agreement with Rio Tinto, which has 66 per cent control over the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mining project, among the world's five largest. "The government will not change or terminate the basic contract … but there are some issues that are unclear," he said. He said that under the agreement, Ulan Bator had the right to discuss the terms with Rio if the investment amount was different from the original agreed amount, adding that so far US$5 billion had been sunk into the project instead of the US$4 billion agreed. "We want to know the reason behind the difference," he said. [...]. ^ top ^

New parliamentarians are to take oaths (News.mn)
2012-11-29
State Great Khural or parliament plans to discuss following issues on today`s session. Issues included draft law whether or not to join agreement to reorganize International Anti-Corruption Academy as International Anti-Corruption Organization“, draft laws to make amendments into savings reinsurance law, income tax law for enterprises, insurance and reinsurance law, civil law, bank law, Central bank law, law about guarantee for capital in savings and decrees to take actions in order to implement. The session will also hear reports by Standing Committee on Budget. Parliament will also discuss accept of new MPs in parliament. The head of Election General Committee, Ch.Sodnomtseren will introduce the candidates. ^ top ^

Mongolia-China intergovernmental commission meets (Montsame)
2012-11-29
A meeting of a working group of the Mongolia-China Intergovernmental Commission for trade-economic and scientific-technical cooperation took place in Ulaanbaatar on November 28. Mongolian side was chaired by T.Togsbilguun, the director of Department of the Neighboring countries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, the Chinese--by Song Yaoming, the deputy director of the Asian Affairs Department of the Ministry of Commerce of China. The two sides concluded as successful a realization of their 12th meeting. Then they talked about some concrete matters of the cooperation. They agreed that projects must be accelerated that have been realized at the Chinese loans and assistance, the problems must be solved that have arisen in a cooperation in agriculture, transportation, mining, energy and petroleum spheres, and some agreements must be finalized. The side also decided to convene a meeting of the sub-commission on mining and energy cooperation and to create a sub- commission on road and transportation cooperation. ^ top ^

Mongolia $ 1.5 billion bond deal draws strong demand (News.mn)
2012-11-29
Mongolia sold $1.5 billion in debt to strong investor interest. Institutional investors sold more than 80% of the two-part deal. The $500 million, five-year issue sold at its launch price of 4.125% yield. The 10-year part, of $1 billion size, sold at 5.125%, according to sources familiar with the deal. The demand for the bond comes despite Mongolia's spotty fiscal past. The country has been rescued five times in 22 years by the International Monetary Fund, and its bond offering is an amount equal to nearly one-fifth of the size of its economy. The recent growth in the country's economy, however, compensates for these concerns, investors said. The order book for the five-year issue totaled $6 billion on 310 orders, while that of the 10-year notes was $9.3 billion on 370 orders. ^ 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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