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
  15-21.12.12, No. 454  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China reports to UN outer limits of continental shelf in East China Sea (Xinhua)
2012-12-14
China on Friday presented to the UN Secretariat its Partial Submission Concerning the Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf beyond 200 Nautical Miles in the East China Sea. Physiognomy and geological characteristics show that the continental shelf in the East China Sea is the natural prolongation of China's land territory, according to the document. The natural prolongation of the continental shelf of China in the East China Sea extends to the Okinawa Trough, which is an important geographical unit featuring remarkable partition, it says. The width of the continental shelf of China in the East China Sea, the document says, is measured more than 200 nautical miles from the baselines of the territorial sea of China. It also points out that its issuance shall not affect the Chinese government in presenting other demarcation submissions concerning outer continental shelves in the East China Sea and other waters. According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its relevant provisions, if the continental shelf of a coastal state extends beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the width of the territorial sea is measured, information on the limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles shall be submitted by the coastal state to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf under the UNCLOS. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing to sponsor African journalists to cover China (Global Times)
2012-12-17
China will establish a Sino-African news center and sponsor African journalists to live in Beijing and report on China. China News Service quoted Sun Baohong, deputy director-general of the Department of African Affairs of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who said Saturday that only four African media outlets have resident correspondents in Beijing now, fewer than most other continents. Zhang Yanqiu, director of the Africa Communication Center from the Communication University of China, told the Global Times on Sunday that founding the Sino-Africa News Center was in line with China's policy of promoting understanding between China and Africa. "Most African countries are still developing and lack funding, which limit their overseas media activity. Though China is also a developing country, it still has much to offer African countries and by doing this both sides will understand each other better," said Zhang. Ayman ElKady, bureau chief of Egypt's Middle East News Agency's Beijing branch for the past 18 months, told the Global Times he believes the decision will promote bilateral relations. "Western countries used to abuse Africa's resources badly, but China has shown its sincerity in cooperation, building this center to sponsor African journalists is a good example. China has been developing rapidly during past decades, and with correspondents working in China we can better observe and learn from China's experience," said ElKady. [...] "This will also help strengthen China's culture influence in Africa. Both of us have the world's oldest civilizations, but African people know little about China other than from the Western media. We'd love to know China with our own efforts rather than take second hand information from other people," said ElKady. ^ top ^

China pledges steady development of Confucius Institutes (Xinhua)
2012-12-17
The Chinese government will actively support the steady development of Confucius Institutes, according to state councilor Liu Yandong Sunday. The international promotion of Chinese language had enabled foreigners to better understand the Chinese culture and the contemporary China, Liu said in her speech at the opening ceremony of the seventh conference of Confucius Institutes running from Dec. 16 to 18. It also contributed to the communication and friendship between peoples and exchanges between civilizations, said Liu, also president the Confucius Institute Headquarters council. Liu encouraged Confucius Institutes to expand the coverage of their operation from major cities to other regions and from colleges to communities. The Confucius Institute and Confucius Classrooms, both named after the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, serve as non-profit public institutions aiming to promote Chinese language and culture in foreign countries. Currently, 400 Confucius Institutes and over 500 Confucius Classrooms are in operation globally, which received about 655,000 registered students in 108 countries and regions this year, according to figures from the organization's headquarters. China will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, while respecting the diversity of civilizations and development paths, said Liu, citing a report adopted at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last month. ^ top ^

China ‘closely watching' Japan following LDP election win (Global Times)
2012-12-18
China said Monday it is "closely watching" over its neighbor Japan's direction after the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) swept to power and its leader Shinzo Abe vowed there would be no compromise over the Diaoyu Islands issue that has strained Beijing-Tokyo ties in recent months. China has "noticed the results of Japan's lower house election," said Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman. "We hope Japan will continue to follow the path of peaceful development and play a constructive role in regional peace, stability and development." Hua's comments came a day after the LDP, which had ruled Japan for most of the last 50 years before it surrendered power to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in 2009, won a landslide election victory on Sunday. Analysts said the election result was more a damning verdict on the chaotic rule of the DPJ than an embrace of Abe's agenda, which includes more aggressive monetary stimulus policies, improving relations with China, and restoring security relations with the US. [...] Abe, 58, who resigned as premier in 2007 citing ill health, has been talking tough in the territorial row with China while vowing to improve relations with Beijing through dialogue. "The Senkaku islands (the Japanese name for the Diaoyu Islands) are Japan's inherent territory," Abe told the press after the election, according to AFP. "There is no room for negotiation on this point." But Abe acknowledged that the Tokyo-Beijing relationship is one of the most important bilateral ties for Japan and that the current tension between the two countries also harmed Japan's national interests. [...] "There will be unpredictable risks if Abe seeks to be tougher in dealing with China-Japan relations than his predecessors," said Liu Gang, a visiting scholar to Japan. [...] "Japan, which has become used to being the leader of Asia, needs time to adapt to a rising China. The two's confrontation will be no less strong than in the past months," said Wu Huaizhong, a researcher from the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. [...]. ^ top ^

Trade cases against China on the rise (China Daily)
2012-12-18
Trade cases against China rose this year, largely due to the sluggish world economy, a Ministry of Commerce official said. There was also a surge in the financial value of the cases, said Zhou Hua, a deputy division director at the ministry. "The number of trade remedy investigations against China in 2012 will be slightly more than in 2011, but their export value will be significantly higher than the previous year because of the type of products involved — such as exports of solar panels to Europe," Zhou told China Daily. China was the subject of 76 trade cases, often referred to as trade remedy investigations, in the first 11 months of 2012, according to the ministry. The figure was 69 in 2011, affecting $5.9 billion of exports. [...] China has been the world's biggest victim of anti-dumping investigations since 1995 and also the most targeted in anti-subsidy investigations from 2006, according to the ministry. Trade experts also said the prospects for Chinese goods to avoid trade remedy investigations is unlikely to improve in the coming years. Trade friction against China is shifting from low-end industries to high-tech sectors, and protectionism is increasingly becoming an option, said Gu Chunfang, head of the ministry's bureau of industry injury investigation. "Some developed economies turned to protectionism rather than improving their industrial competitiveness to cope with China's development," Gu said. "In addition, trade investigations are more frequently used to target China's industrial policies, to discriminate against China's State-owned enterprises as non-market players," Gu said. ^ top ^

China urges Japan to follow peaceful development path (Xinhua)
2012-12-18
China on Tuesday urged Japan to follow a path of peaceful development and contribute to regional stability. Answering a question at a daily press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, "Whether Japan can face up to and repent the history of its aggression, and follow the path of peaceful development, has always had universal attention from its Asian neighboring nations and the international community." The majority of the 454 new Japanese lower house members, who won Sunday's general election, support to revise Japan's pacifist constitution, according to a survey by its country's Kyodo News Agency Tuesday. About 81.1 percent of the respondents called for lifting the ban on using collective self-defense. Hua said, "There has been a trend of getting rid of the post-war system and denying peaceful development emerging in Japan in recent years, which has sparked concerns and Asian countries and the international community need to be aware of this trend." Hua also reiterated the country's appeal that Japan should deeply understand and properly handle problems in the bilateral ties, saying that the Chinese side attaches importance to the direction of Japan's China policy. Sino-Japanese ties are one of the most important bilateral relations to both China and Japan, and maintaining healthy and stable development of these ties are in the interests of the two countries, she added. ^ top ^

China at odds with US over sanctions on North Korea (Global Times)
2012-12-19
China has clashed with the US in its bid to push the UN Security Council to "give North Korea a chance" after Pyongyang successfully put a satellite into orbit last week. Gary Locke, US ambassador to Beijing, said Monday that China and the United States are deeply divided over the best way to tackle North Korea's flouting of Security Council resolutions on using ballistic technology. However, "the Chinese believe that we need to give North Korea a chance, that we need to help them develop economically," said Locke. It could take weeks for the Security Council to take any formal move, and there is no guarantee that they will agree on any new sanction measures, AFP quoted unnamed diplomats as saying. US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice demanded last week that the Security Council make it clear that North Korea will face "consequences" for its actions. Rice and China's UN envoy Li Baodong clashed during closed Security Council negotiations on a statement released Wednesday, diplomats said. The following day, China's foreign ministry said any Security Council response had to be "prudent, appropriate and conducive to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and avoid the escalation of the situation." Cui Zhiying, director of the Center for Korean Peninsula Studies at Tongji University, said that sanctions would not work on North Korea, and the most urgent thing is not to overreact and escalate the situation. North Korea is determined to develop its rocket and nuclear technology, Cui said. He noted that China itself cannot solve this issue, and the joint efforts of all the neighboring countries and the US are needed to work toward a better direction. China is trying to restart the Six-Party Talks, but the US Monday vowed to increase pressure on North Korea over its repeated breach of obligations, and ruled out renewal of six-party talks for now. Beijing has helped the North set up free trade zones and encouraged other countries to invest in the isolated state in the hope "that might lessen the isolation of North Korea and therefore hope that might influence their foreign policy and similarly their military policies," Locke said. ^ top ^

China urges U.S. to reengage in Doha negotiations more proactively (Xinhua)
2012-12-19
China urged the United States at the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade policy review Tuesday to reprioritize the multilateral system and reengage in the Doha negotiations "in a more proactive approach." Yi Xiaozhun, Permanent Representative of China to the WTO, said that in the past two years since last review, regional and bilateral initiatives have prioritized over multilateral ones for the United States. He also raised concerns over a large U.S. agriculture trade surplus achieved through enormous domestic support, the United States' problematic record in implementing the rulings of the Dispute Settlement Body, as well as its abuse of trade remedies and discriminative export control regime and practices. "We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the U.S. to find solutions for all these issues," he said. Michael Punke, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Permanent Representative to the WTO, said a central pillar of U.S. trade policy is the commitment to open markets and to the rules-based multilateral trading system embodied in the WTO. "Since the last U.S. Trade Policy Review in 2010, the U.S. has actively pursued a trade policy that supports jobs through trade expansion, enforcement of trade rules, and enhanced international trade relationships," he said. Punke said the United States has received more than 1,500 questions from 36 members concerning its trade policies and practices. [...] All WTO members are subject to review, with the frequency of review depending on the country's trade volume. The United States, China, the European Union and Japan are reviewed every two years. ^ top ^

China calls for enhanced regional cooperation to deal with challenges in Central Africa (Xinhua)
2012-12-19
China on Tuesday called on regional countries to enhance cooperation in order to deal with the threats and challenges facing Central Africa. Wang Min, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, made the statement at an open Security Council meeting on the situation in Central Africa. China has taken note of the spillover effect of the crisis in the Sahel, the reemergence of conflicts in eastern D.R. Congo, the lingering threats of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the grave problem of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, said Wang. "All these issues have negatively affected the regional security and brought many challenges to the realization of lasting peace in the regional countries. China is concerned about it," he said. "We hope the international community will continue to pay attention to the Central African region and provide concrete assistance to relevant countries and regional organizations on the basis of fully respecting the national sovereignty," said the Chinese diplomat. China also strongly condemns the LRA which continues its damaging operations in many countries. "We demand the LRA immediately drop their weapons, cease all hostilities and violence, and be disarmed," Wang said. China appreciates the efforts made by regional countries in combating the LRA, and calls on the international community to enhance communication, coordinate actions and provide strong support for the efforts of countries concerned, he added. [...]. ^ top ^

China launches Turkish satellite (Xinhua)
2012-12-19
A Turkish Earth observation satellite was successfully sent into space from northwest China early Wednesday morning, marking the completion of this year's space launches. A statement released by the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gobi Desert said the Turkish satellite, the GK-2, was launched at 12:13 a.m. and was delivered into its predetermined orbit by a Long March 2D carrier rocket. It marked the 174th flight of the Long March series of carrier rockets. The launch of the Turkish satellite was based on a contract signed by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation in May 2011. The CGWIC is an organization authorized by the government to provide satellite in-orbit delivery, commercial launch services and aerospace technology applications in China, according to the company's website. The satellite, jointly developed by Turkey's Space Technologies Research Institute and Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc., will mainly be used for environmental protection, mineral resource exploration, urban planning and disaster monitoring and management, the statement said. China successfully sent 28 satellites or spacecraft into space via 19 launches this year, it said, adding that the most significant achievement was the country's first manned space docking maneuvers conducted in June, it said. Next year, China will carry out a manned space docking test between the orbiting target module Tiangong-1 and the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft. It will also send the Chang'e-3 moon probe into space, which is expected to land and stay on the moon in the second stage of the country's lunar probe program. The country plans to send nearly 20 satellites into space in 2013, it said. ^ top ^

5th strategic dialogue between Chinese and New Zealand militaries held (People's Daily)
2012-12-19
Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), Tim Keating, vice chief of the New Zealand Defense Force, and Peter Kelly, deputy secretary-general of the New Zealand Ministry of Defense, co-chaired the 5th strategic dialogue between the Chinese military and the New Zealand military on the afternoon of December 18, 2012 in Beijing. During the dialogue, the two sides had an extensive and in-depth exchange of views on such issues as international and regional security as well as the relations between the two countries and the two militaries. [...] Qi Jianguo said that the bilateral relations have been developing smoothly and the relations between the two militaries have also maintained a good momentum of development since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries 40 years ago, as evidenced by frequent contacts among high-ranking officers of the two militaries, active personnel exchange and pragmatic cooperation in many professional fields including operation, training, education, logistics and humanitarian assistance and disaster reduction. [...] Keating and Kelly said that the New Zealand side will remain committed to developing stronger defense relations with the Chinese side and deepening bilateral cooperation in various fields on the basis of mutual benefit and mutual trust. The New Zealand side spoke positively of the strategic dialogue between the two militaries and held that the dialogue would help the two militaries strengthen cooperation and jointly face various challenges. ^ top ^

China, U.S. kick off plenary session of annual trade talks (Xinhua)
2012-12-20
China and the United States on Wednesday kicked off in Washington the plenary session of the annual trade talks to deepen bilateral trade and business ties. Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan co-chaired the 23rd Session of China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) with Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. The global economy is still facing severe and complex challenges, and the only certainty among the uncertainties is that the sluggish global economic recovery would continue for a long time to come, Wang said in his opening remarks to the plenary session of the 23rd Session of China-U.S. JCCT. To foster economic growth and job creation should be a top priority for all countries, Wang stressed. The JCCT is one of the pillars of the stability in the relationship between the United States and China, Kirk said in his opening remarks. The United States and China are now the two largest economies in the world, and the bilateral relationship, particularly the bilateral trade and commerce relationship has never been more important, Blank said in her opening remarks. [...] Established in 1983, the JCCT is a platform for China and the United States to promote trade relations and address issues of mutual concern. The 22nd Session of China-U.S. JCCT was held in China's southwestern city of Chengdu in November, 2011. ^ top ^

Chinese sea defense more coordinated: Japanese think tank (Global Times)
2012-12-20
A report released by a Japanese defense think tank said Wednesday that Chinese maritime administrative departments were "improving policy coordination" with the military and that China might use its military power in maritime disputes with neighboring countries. Analysts said such a report, unveiled at a time when the newly elected Shinzo Abe prepares to shape his cabinet, could be seen as the basis for Japan's defense policy for the country's seventh prime minister in six years. The new Chinese leadership is becoming increasingly aware of the urgency of safeguarding China's maritime security and interests, said the 55-page report prepared by the National Institute for Defense Studies, the policy research arm of the Japanese defense ministry. Although it is not easy for China to build a "uniform system for coastal defense" because there are over ten maritime agencies and departments at the central government level, policy coordination across the departments has been strengthened not only in the South China Sea but also in the East China Sea, it said. The report also said China's National Committee on Border and Coastal Defense, in which the People's Liberation Army (PLA) holds an important position, is considered the center of a leading mechanism for uniformly managing the diverse coastal defense system and providing guidance on coordination among departments and agencies through notifications and visits. The Chinese military is likely to be deployed to carry out "rights protection" on the sea in support of maritime law enforcement agencies if neighboring countries send their military forces into the disputes, it added. However, it said the details of the command structure involving the PLA and government departments are "still unclear," and that civil influence over the military is still limited. "The report, depicting China's military threats, is in line with Abe's stubborn stance over the Diaoyu Islands revealed during his election campaign," said Huang Dahui, director of the East Asia Research Center at the School of International Studies of the Renmin University of China. "So it can be concluded that Japan will not show any flexibility regarding the Diaoyu Islands disputes," Huang told the Global Times. "But he still needs China to improve Japan's economy.". ^ top ^

China-U.S. JCCT concludes with positive results (Xinhua)
2012-12-20
China and the United States concluded here Wednesday their latest round of high-level trade talks with both agreeing to inject new vitality to bilateral trade and economic relations. The 23rd Session of China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) was co-chaired by visiting Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. The two sides achieved a variety of consensuses on promoting bilateral trade and business ties, and signed two documents, namely a memorandum of understanding in support of China-U.S. trade cooperation and the second phase report on the statistical discrepancy of merchandise trade. They agreed that strengthening China-U.S. economic and trade cooperation is conducive not only to the economic growth and job creation in both countries, but also to the robust, sustainable and balanced economic growth of the world. It was also agreed that both sides will take full advantage of the platform of the JCCT to resolve differences and enhance cooperation in order to continue creating momentum for the bilateral economic and trade ties. Speaking at a plenary session, Wang noted that the global economy is still facing severe and complex challenges, and that the only certainty among the uncertainties is that the sluggish global economic recovery would continue for a long time to come. [...] The JCCT is one of the pillars of the stability in the relationship between the United States and China, Kirk stressed. [...] Blank called on both sides to use the platform to advance progress toward a balanced and ever growing trade and investment relationship. Established in 1983, the JCCT is a platform for China and the United States to promote trade relations and address issues of mutual concern. ^ top ^

Domestic Policy

Fund covers 15,000 AIDS-affected children (Xinhua)
2012-12-17
A special charity fund has benefited some 15,749 Chinese AIDS orphans and children in extreme poverty caused by the disease, its sponsor said Sunday. The "Warm China 12.1" fund, started in 2008, is providing an annual allowance of 1,000 yuan (160 U.S. dollars) for each eligible child, according to a statement from the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), a joint supervisor of the fund. The charter of the fund provides that the money should be used to guarantee the orphans' access to normal living and learning conditions during nine years of compulsory education. The project also includes pairing orphans with volunteer families and other community-based activities. The project has been expanded to over 300 counties of 15 provincial regions across China, said the statement. In the latest National Human Rights Action Plan, the Chinese government pledged to guarantee the rights to life, education, health care and other rights of AIDS-affected children. According to the Ministry of Health, 17,740 AIDS-related deaths were reported in the country from January to October, a year-on-year increase of 8.6 percent. In total, China reported 492,191 cases of HIV/AIDS by the end of October, including 68,802 new cases this year. [...]. ^ top ^

Social media remains tool of Communist Party: author (SCMP)
2012-12-17
The mainland's vibrant social media scene has dramatically changed its media landscape but both remain tools of the Communist Party, says the author of a new book, The Party Line. Conventional state media used to take news cues from party mouthpieces such as the People's Daily and Xinhua news agency but now they follow news leads on popular social media, said Doug Young, a former financial journalist who now teaches journalism at Fudan University in Shanghai. People who witness social unrest or accidents can now take pictures with their mobile phones and quickly post them online, putting pressure on state media to come up with an official version of the events as quickly as possible. Twitter is banned on the mainland, but Twitter-like microblog services have hundreds of millions of users. Sina Weibo, the country's biggest microblogging service, has 400 million registered users. But Weibo remains firmly controlled by the party, albeit in a more nuanced way, Young said. "The Communist Party is very much in control … it wants to be able to control the tone of the dialogue, the speed of the dialogue, the subject of the dialogue." Young said the party could also shut down such discussions "any time it likes" if "they are spinning out of control". The Party keeps a close watch on Weibo, and service providers have to self-censor and remove politically sensitive posts when ordered to do so by state censors. Bloggers say that if they write anything about democracy, protests or opposition movements, the keyword system will alert the internet police. Young said social media also helps the government to gauge public opinion. [...]. ^ top ^

The spending of China's rich (China Daily)
2012-12-17
Many people assume the Chinese rich own gigantic villas, keep a horse or two and collect luxury watches or art but a new survey shows their favorite purchase trends to be leather goods and automobiles. According to the latest report by Robb and Ipsos, a Paris-based research company, the top two products accounted for about 20 percent of Chinese millionaires' total consumption over the past year. People surveyed in the report spent an average of 1.55 million yuan ($250,000) on high-end and fine-living items in the last 12 months, of which leather goods cost the most, making up to 30 percent of their total expenditure, followed by autos, which accounted for about 20 percent of all their purchases. A total of 16 percent was spent on wristwatches. The majority of individuals own more than two watches, with Patek Philippe being the most favored brand. Bracelets/anklets and watches were the most popular types of jewelry purchased in the past year, said the report, 2012 Best of the Best - Luxury Lifestyle and Trends in China 2012, a luxury tracking and research paper into interpreting the content and pattern of China's luxury lifestyles. In addition, 76 percent of respondents own two cars or more. Ferrari is the most popular brand. When it comes to fashion, European brands, including Hermes, Chanel and LV, are the most favorite. [...] Additionally, the country's wealthy men maintained a robust investment in wine with 72 percent of the respondents having a wine collection at home. The World Luxury Association said during the 2012 Golden Week holiday, which was from Sept 30 to Oct 7, Chinese people buying luxury goods abroad spent about 3.85 billion euros ($5 billion), a year-on-year jump of 14 percent. The association predicts the luxury goods market in China will continue to sustain its rapid development over the next decade. [...] According to the Hurun Report, a magazine best known for its China Rich List, a ranking of the wealthiest individuals in China, there were 1.02 million millionaires (with assets worth more than 10 million yuan) in China by the end of 2011, up by 60,000 individuals, or 6 percent, compared with one year earlier. Within this figure exists a further elite group of 63,500 super rich individuals (with assets worth more than 100 million yuan). [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese media plays up US massacre but Henan attack barely reported (SCMP)
2012-12-18
The Chinese media were strongly criticised by the public for giving the US Sandy Hook school shooting extensive coverage, while "playing down" an attack on a mainland primary school which left 23 students injured. China Central Television's lead in Saturday's news round-up was the Newtown school shooting in the US state of Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were killed by a lone gunman, who then killed himself. This marked the first time in 26 years that the state mouthpiece began with foreign news since the Challenger space shuttle disaster in 1986. Meanwhile, the Guangzhou-based tabloid Southern Metropolis Daily devoted just one-quarter of an inside page on Saturday to news of the 23 students attacked by knife-wielding man in Guangshan county, Henan. In contrast, there was a headline story and a four-page detailed report on the Newtown shooting on Sunday. Former China Youth Daily editor Li Datong suggested the restrained coverage of the Henan attack was a result of a state ban. Meanwhile, he said the disproportionate coverage of the US story was based on Xi Jinping's order to play up stories with news values. "Obviously, state media have received bans from the propaganda authorities, requiring them not to focus on the Henan school attack," Li said. [...] The controversial coverage of the school attacks, both occurring on Friday, triggered huge criticism from the online community. On Sina Weibo, a post critical of the media by online commentator "Zuoyeben" was reposted more than 150,000 times and drew 40,000 comments. "CCTV has spent an entire afternoon reporting and analysing the Newtown school shooting in the United States," he wrote. "They count the total number of school shootings, try to dig out the [root causes], give suggestions on reforms, estimate the number of guns and potential risk, as well as condemn President [Barack] Obama." "You guys are so professional and conscientious, but why don't you report on the Henan man who hacked 22 students?" he said. Military writer Zhao Chu called the treatment of the Henan hacking story as "a kind of unforgivable unconcern towards compatriots' lives". "I must say, I'm more concerned with the children in Henan," he wrote. "Such vile cases happen again and again [in China], and the state media haven't given them enough coverage and discussion.". ^ top ^

Report shows 11 regions face pension fund deficit (Global Times)
2012-12-18
Over one-third of China's 31 provinces and autonomous regions do not have sufficient funds to pay for the pensions of employees of urban enterprises, according to a report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Monday. China Pension Report (CPR) 2012, compiled by the Center for International Social Security Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, points out that the differences in the rate of maintenance for the elderly is the fundamental contributing factor to the unbalanced regional development of pension funds. [...] According to CPR 2012, progress has been made in the pension system for employees of urban enterprises, with the pension-covered population, pension-fund revenues and surplus hitting record highs. Despite the obvious progress, problems still exist in the current pension system. The figures given in the report show that among 31 provinces and autonomous regions, 11 provinces failed to make ends meet. CPR 2012 also notes that most of the 12 provinces whose surplus rate is higher than the national average are concentrated in China's east coast, which indicates an unbalanced regional development of pension funds. Fu Jinling, a vice director of the social security office of the Ministry of Finance, said at an international seminar on social security in Beijing on Monday that the equilibrium in the balance of pension payments is not only related to the stable operation of the pension system but also closely tied to social harmony and stability. ^ top ^

Beijing says no to Mao on Warhol's mainland tour (SCMP)
2012-12-18
Andy Warhol's famous images of Chairman Mao won't be part of the biggest travelling exhibition of the artist's works when they go to the mainland next year. The show includes more than 300 paintings, photographs and films, featuring Warhol's iconic Campbell's Soup cans, Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, as well as 10 Mao paintings Beijing has decided to exclude. If mainland fans of Warhol want to see silkscreens of the Great Helmsman, they will have to catch the Hong Kong leg of "Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal", which opened yesterday. "They said the Maos won't work," Eric Shiner, director of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, said in Hong Kong. "This is disappointing because his imagery is so mainstream in Chinese contemporary art." A Shanghai official familiar with the show who asked not to be named because of the political sensitivity of the issue confirmed the Mao works had been rejected by the Ministry of Culture. The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a requests for comment. [...] The show had already been a ''huge" success, said Shiner, who noted that 175,000 people visited the exhibition in Singapore, more than the 120,000 annual visitors to the Pittsburgh Museum. Even without the Maos, he is hoping for as many as two million will attend the mainland showings. [...]. ^ top ^

Rich Chinese continue to move abroad warns report (Xinhua)
2012-12-18
A report on China's migration status released Monday says the trend of an increasing number of high net-worth Chinese migrating overseas will continue in the coming years. According to the Annual Report on Chinese International Migration 2012, the main factors driving such migration include a pursuit of richer educational resources, safer investment environments and improved quality of life. The report, published by the Social Sciences Academic Press, noted that the trend is likely to bring losses to the country in terms of assets and talents, pose obstacles for China's supervision of non-performing assets and complicate the development of its substantial economy. According to the report, there were more than 45 million overseas Chinese in 2010, the world's greatest population of emigrants. In 2011, 150,000-plus Chinese gained permanent residency in major immigration destinations. The United States, Canada and Australia were the top three destination countries. The report said most immigrants are high net worth individuals with investments in real estate and stocks. ^ top ^

Politburo member Li Jianguo accused of favouritism (SCMP)
2012-12-18
An activist has accused a newly elected Politburo member, National People's Congress deputy chairman Li Jianguo, of promoting his nephew to a plum position, making him the youngest department-level cadre. Han Chongguang, from Handan in Hebei province, sparked a heated debate on Sina Weibo and elsewhere on the internet on Sunday when he posted the allegations against Li, the highest-level official to be accused of corruption by a member of public in recent months. The 30-year-old Han announced on the microblog that he had reported to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection that Li promoted his nephew, Zhang Hui, during Li's term as party chief of Shandong. Zhang rose from a deputy section-level job to a department-level one in just eight months. Han cited information from an anonymous senior communist cadre to bolster his claim. Zhang, 32, who is the party secretary of Shizhong district in Shandong's Jining city, is the youngest to hold such a position. However, some online postings claimed that Zhang was actually nephew-in-law of Li. Li, 66, served as secretary for his home province from 2007 to 2008 before being promoted as deputy chairman of the NPC. He was made a Politburo member in last month's 18th party congress. ^ top ^

Beijing confirms Zhang Xiaoming and Hu Chunhua in top regional positions (SCMP)
2012-12-19
The new face of Beijing's leadership in the region came into focus yesterday as Zhang Xiaoming was appointed head of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong and Hu Chunhua was named to lead the economic powerhouse of Guangdong. Hu - a top protégé of President Hu Jintao and the second-youngest member of the new Politburo - was officially appointed to replace Wang Yang at the helm of the southern province, a post long seen a stepping stone for future leaders. The former Inner Mongolia party chief's promotion was one of five provincial party posts announced by the Central Committee's Organisation Department yesterday. Four of the five, including Hu Chunhua have served in roles in the Communist Youth League, a core power base for the outgoing president. In addition, the State Council promoted Zhang, the deputy director of its Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, to lead its liaison office in Hong Kong. His predecessor, Peng Qinghua, is widely tipped to take up a regional government post on the mainland. Just a few weeks ago, Zhang drew outrage with a newspaper commentary accusing external forces of interfering in Hong Kong's elections and calling on the city government to pass the controversial national security law required under Article 23 of the Basic Law "in due course". The selection of the 49-year-old Hu to replace Wang was announced by Communist Party Organisation Department chief Zhao Leji during a meeting of senior Guangdong cadres yesterday. Wang, 57, is expected to move into higher office. [...] Meanwhile, Wang Jun, 60, who was made deputy party secretary of Shanxi last year, will replace Hu Chunhua in the top post in Inner Mongolia. Wang's job is expected to be taken up by Li Xiaopeng, son of former premier Li Peng. He has been promoted to vice-party secretary of Shanxi. [...] Xia Baolong, 60, has been appointed party secretary of Zhejiang province, where he has served as governor since January. He replaces Zhao Hongzhu. Wang Rulin, 59, will replace Sun Zhengcai as Jilin party chief. Zhao Zhengyong, 61, was promoted to top spot in Shaanxi province. ^ top ^

Study says PM2.5 will kill 8,000 this year (Global Times)
2012-12-19
A report analyzing PM2.5's effect on people's health and economic loss issued by Greenpeace and Peking University Tuesday said fine particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter are lethal and officials should work out a timetable to reduce them. The report, jointly written by the NGO and the university's School of Public Health, studied PM2.5 data and mortality statistics from 2004 to 2009 in four Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi'an. The report estimates there will be 8,572 deaths in those cities caused by PM2.5 pollutants this year, creating an economic loss of 6.8 billion yuan ($109 million). If air quality in 2012 met standards set by the World Health Organization, some 81 percent of the premature deaths related to PM2.5 would be avoided, said the report. "In 2010 the death toll caused by PM2.5 in Shanghai is nearly three times that of traffic accidents," said Zhou Rong, climate and energy director of Green Peace, adding that it will take at least 20 years for most of the cities to improve their air quality to national standards, but the public cannot afford to wait that long. Zhao Hualin, director of the pollution prevention and control department at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said earlier this month that PM2.5 concentrations in 70 percent of cities will not meet the 2015 pollution targets issued by the ministry earlier. According to the report, PM2.5 pollution is mainly due to an increase in sulfur dioxide and oxynitride emissions caused by soaring coal consumption. The two institutions called on governments in polluted areas to work out a clear and progressive timetable to reduce PM2.5 concentrations. Meanwhile, economically advanced regions like Beijing should develop more ambitious plans to control coal consumption. According to the Xinhua News Agency, research by environmental officials shows that more than 22 percent of the PM 2.5 in downtown Beijing is caused by vehicle exhaust. [...] Officials also said the air quality in Beijing is directly affected by pollution from neighboring cities. ^ top ^

CCTV report says KFC chickens are being fattened with illegal drugs (SCMP)
2012-12-19
The CCTV report, which it said was based on a year of undercover reporting, found that chicken farms had lights turned on around the clock to make the birds eat non-stop and grow faster, with a chicken growing from 30 grams to 3.5kg in just 40 days. Farmers had given at least 18 kinds of antibiotics to chickens so that they would not become ill. A farmer in Gaomi said he would also mix a hormone into the feed and the birds would become so fat that some could not even walk, CCTV reported. Another farmer said they had to change antibiotics from time to time after the chickens developed resistance to the drugs. Farmers said their chickens were bought by the Liuhe Group, which is based in Qingdao and supplies KFC. Liuhe reportedly sells 40 tonnes of chicken a month to KFC. Its Pingdu branch is under investigation. Similar breaches have been found at another major supplier to KFC and McDonald's, Tengzhou - based Wintop Food, state media reported. The CCTV programme said that when farmers sent chickens to be slaughtered, workers would fabricate records about how they were raised before they were shipped off to the Yum! Brands logistics centre in Shanghai. A worker at the centre told CCTV they did not conduct any checks before sending the chicken to Yum! Brands outlets, which include KFC and Pizza Hut. On its microblog, KFC said it had stopped buying chickens from Liuhe in August. KFC said it inspected its suppliers each year and they should have passed strict assessments. It would also test for drug residue. "KFC attaches great importance to the contents of the media report and will actively co-operate with the relevant government departments' investigation," KFC said. "If [we] find out that our suppliers have conducted any illegal activity, [we] will handle it strictly." McDonald's said every batch of chickens in its products met standards, with quality ensured by independent laboratories. "We will buy raw food materials from the suppliers after strict screening," McDonald's said. "Our chicken products are in line with regulations on food quality." Shanghai's Food and Drug Inspection Administration said it was checking Yum! Brands' quality inspection procedures. The Agricultural Ministry said it would investigate. ^ top ^

Six officials sacked over primary school knife attack in Henan (SCMP)
2012-12-19
Six government employees have been punished for last Friday's attack on a primary school in Henan by a knife-wielding man who injured 23 pupils. Members of the public had been asking why there was no security at the Chenpeng village primary school, in Guangshan county, and how the suspect could have rampaged through it for so long before being subdued. The county's Communist Party committee said it had decided on Monday to fire two school heads, the chief of a police station in the town of Wenshu, two senior county education officials and another security official in Wenshu. Meanwhile, the editorial committee of the Xinyang city government's mouthpiece newspaper posted a written apology on the city's news portal after the Xinyang Daily was inundated with criticism for running a front-page report on Monday praising Guangshan county's education department. Guangshan is under Xinyang's administration. The editorial committee said the story was published because the journalists involved were unprofessional and not diligent. "That report has hurt the victims and their families and has misled public opinion," it said. "It has hurt the feelings of internet users and our readers, too. We feel sincerely sorry and will reflect on this serious mistake." Media in Xinyang had been prevented from reporting on the school attack because of a gag order issued by the local authorities, xinhuanet.com reported. [...] The Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily quoted county director Wang Zhixue as saying that the local media blackout had been imposed because the case involved children and because of fears that reporting the details could encourage copycat attacks. "It's not appropriate to publish details of the case at the initial stage of investigation," he said. The man suspected of carrying out the attack, Min Yongjun, told police that a 61-year-old woman, Jin Guozhu, had told him "doomsday" was approaching. [...]. ^ top ^

Hundreds held in China over doomsday rumours (SCMP)
2012-12-19
Chinese police have detained more than 500 people from a fringe Christian group for spreading rumours about the world's impending end, state media reported on Tuesday. In western China's Qinghai province alone, police arrested more than 400 members from the religious cult group, state-run China Central Television said on Tuesday. Police seized leaflets, video discs, books and other apocalyptic materials in the recent arrests of more than 500 people across eight provinces and regions, from the prosperous east coast to less developed western China, state media reports said. [...] Those detained are reported to be members of the group Almighty God, which is also called Eastern Lightning, after a phrase from the Bible's Book of Matthew. Widely regarded as a heretical Christian sect, the group preaches that Jesus has reappeared as a woman in central China. It has been accused of targeting Christians, kidnapping and beating them to force conversions. [...] Eastern Lightning first appeared around 20 years ago, and the official Xinhua news agency said that its members had “recently latched on to the Mayan doomsday prophesy to predict that the sun will not shine and electricity will not work for three days beginning on December 21.” A public notice on the web site of Qinghai provincial government said local police are waging a “severe crackdown” on the group described as a cult with “strong political penchants.” The government urged the public to inform the police of any illegal propaganda, gathering and preaching by the group. The CCTV report called the group a cult and accused it of attacking the party and the government, though it did not give any specifics. The state-run Huashang website last week, citing local authorities, reported that the group is urging followers to “exterminate the great red dragon” – a reference to the Communist Party – “and found a country under the rule of Almighty God.” [...]. ^ top ^

'Cosmetic corruption' the latest pattern uncovered in graft-fighting campaign (SCMP)
2012-12-20
A dozen women cadres have expanded the envelope for official corruption on the mainland, becoming entangled in a scandal that involved accepting prepaid cards for spa treatments and hairdressing. Prosecutors in Beijing recently announced that they had investigated 12 female officials who had embezzled money to pay for cosmetic services or who had been bribed with prepaid cards for such services. In another case, a male official was arrested recently for using public funds to pay for his mistress' cosmetic treatments, the Procuratorial Daily reported. [...] Beijing prosecutors said the 13 officials who had been snared in the crackdown on "cosmetic corruption" were middle- and high-ranking officials in a variety of government departments and public institutions and that such corruption had become increasingly common and serious in the past few years. Prosecutors said most of the officials being investigated were aged between 40 and 50. Some were so addicted to visiting beauty salons that they had clocked up more than 100 visits. Bai Hong, former chairwoman of the trade union at Beijing's health bureau, was jailed for 15 years last December for embezzling 3.99 million yuan (HK$4.91 million) between 2006 and the start of last year. An upmarket, franchised women's gym centre in the capital was found to have issued fake invoices for conferences and training to Bai. She then presented the invoices to the bureau, using them to write off her cosmetic treatment expenses at the centre. A mid-level official with the municipal finance bureau, Yang Ping, was arrested for asking people seeking favours to buy her prepaid cosmetic treatment cards worth 558,000 yuan between 2004 and last year. "All these bribery cases have happened behind closed doors," a prosecutor was quoted as saying. "Since those high-end beauty salons are only visited by rich people, there is a lack of supervision [from society]. "This kind of corruption is hidden compared with other corrupt activities, making many female cadres feel they would be unlikely to be caught.". ^ top ^

Li Peng's son, Li Xiaopeng, appointed acting governor of Shanxi (SCMP)
2012-12-20
Li Xiaopeng, who only just scraped into alternate membership of the Communist Party's Central Committee last month, has been appointed acting governor of Shanxi province, a promotion widely seen as a result of the continued influence of his father, former premier Li Peng. The appointment was decided upon by the standing committee of the provincial people's congress, state-run media reported yesterday. Li is expected to be made governor at the annual meeting of the provincial party congress early next year. As governor of the northern, coal-producing province he would hold a rank equivalent to that of a minister. Li Xiaopeng, 53, received the fewest votes among those elected alternate members of the party's Central Committee at the party's national congress last month. Unlike full members of the Central Committee, the alternates - numbering 171 - are traditionally ranked in accordance with the number of votes they manage to secure from the more than 2,200 party delegates. His appointment triggered some satirical reaction online, with many saying his promotion was a result of the influece of his father, himself a princeling. [...] Many bloggers said the promotion was symptomatic of the dynastic style of Chinese politics. "Like father, like son. If your father is a politician, you must be the same when you grow up," one internet user said. In his first interview with state-run media after his promotion, Li Xiaopeng pledged to be "a good friend, good colleague, good partner and good comrade. I will be forever a primary school student, to learn from the masses, from the grass-roots." [...] However, having least votes for alternate membership of the Central Committee is not always a hindrance to political advancement. In 1997, Xi Jinping, then a deputy provincial party secretary in Fujian, also won the last available seat. He is now the party's general secretary. ^ top ^

Land grabs are main cause of mainland protests, experts say (SCMP)
2012-12-20
Land seizures, pollution and labour disputes have been the three main causes of tens of thousands of mass protests in recent years, according to a top think-tank. In its 2013 Social Development Blue Book, released on Tuesday, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said the mainland was experiencing frequent social conflict because "social contradictions were diverse and complex". It said there had been more than 100,000 "mass incidents" - the central government's term for large protests involving more than 100 people - every year in recent years. Professor Chen Guangjing, editor of this year's book, said that disputes over land grabs accounted for about half of "mass incidents", while pollution and labour disputes were responsible for 30 per cent. Other kinds of disputes accounted for the remaining 20 per cent. "Of the tens of thousands of incidents of rural unrest that occur each year in China, the vast majority of them result from land confiscations and home demolitions for development," Chen told a news conference in Beijing yesterday. Late last year, about 1,000 villagers from Wukan, Guangdong, rioted and overthrew corrupt local leaders who had profited from illegal sales of village land. Chen said environmental concerns were also becoming a main cause of social unrest, as evidenced by a series of grass-roots demonstrations over polluting projects. [...] The major cause of labour disputes was salary arrears. There over 120 protests that involved more than 100 workers each in the first eight months of this year. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

New pollution index for Beijing (Global Times)
2012-12-17
Beijing is tossing out its hazy Air Pollution Index and replacing it with a new Air Quality Index (AQI). "The previous air monitoring statistics were too vague and differed from what residents felt," said Feng Yongfeng, founder of the Beijing-based environmental watchdog Green Beagle, on Sunday. Feng praised the government's decision to switch to the AQI system, saying, "The government cannot escape from the true statistics, because the public demanded it for a year." The Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau's announcement of the AQI on Saturday did not explain how the new index would be calculated, but noted that when it hit the 200 level ("serious"), safety measures kick in, including warning old people and children to limit outdoor activities. At 300 ("severe"), schools should cancel outdoor exercise. At 500 ("extreme"), all outdoor sporting events should be cancelled, and the government should cut 30 percent of the government vehicles on the road. The name and scale of the new index suggest similarities to the AQI used by the US Embassy in Beijing. The US readings, provided by the embassy every hour, have sparked a diplomatic complaint from the Chinese government. Differences between these readings and the Beijing government's have triggered discontent among the public. For example, on Sunday evening, air quality was "very unhealthy" according to the US Embassy readings, but "slightly polluted" according to the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau. Until this year, the bureau did not even measure the tiny particles measuring 2.5 micrometers across (PM 2.5) that are most dangerous to human health because they can slip deep into the lungs. [...] Although environmentalists on Sunday praised the decision to use a new AQI, they were skeptical that the new measures, such as reducing the number of government cars on the road when pollution is extreme, would make much of a difference. "Pollution is a regional problem, and it cannot be improved by eliminating the numbers of some vehicles," said Zhou Rong, an environmentalist from NGO Greenpeace. She also doubted the feasibility of the measure as the government failed to explain how to implement it as well as who will supervise it. ^ top ^

Beijing to build more nursing homes (Xinhua)
2012-12-18
More government-run nursing homes for middle and low-income earners are being built in Beijing, the municipal development and reform commission said in a statement on Monday. Meanwhile, authorities will subsidize the construction and expansion of privately-run nursing homes. Each new bed in a private nursing home is entitled to a construction subsidy of 8,000 yuan (1,280 U.S. dollars) to 16,000 yuan, it said. Nursing homes in Beijing currently have 90,000 beds, and the city government plans to increase that to 120,000 by the end of 2015. By the end of 2011, nearly 2.5 million residents, or 19.4 percent of the city's registered citizens, were aged 60 or above. China faces a rapidly aging population, and the country's one-child policy has rendered its traditional household-centered elderly care almost impossible in the future. By the end of 2011, 185 million people in China were aged 60 or above, and the number is expected to further rise to account for about 30 percent of China's total population of nearly 1.4 billion by the middle of this century. ^ top ^

Beijing phases out old vehicles to curb pollution (Xinhua)
2012-12-18
Out of concern for its air quality, Beijing has stepped up efforts to phase out old, heavy-polluting motor vehicles, the local environmental watchdog said Tuesday. A total of 515,000 obsolete motor vehicles have been taken off the city's roads over the past two years, exceeding the goal of removing 400,000 such vehicles that was set in a municipal five-year development plan (2011-2015), according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. Motor vehicles contribute to about 22.2 percent of a city's PM2.5 data, a gauge monitoring airborne "fine" particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter, and old vehicles release more pollutants, said Fang Li, a spokesman with the bureau, citing an analysis of the city's pollution sources. Beijing is suffering from poor air quality, with this year's average PM2.5 data reaching 70-80 micrograms per cubic meter, twice the regulated standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter. Fang said motor vehicles that have been in use for more than eight years account for about 20 percent of the city's car population, but they create more than 60 percent of the air pollution. "Phasing out obsolete motor vehicles is of great significance in lowering Beijing's PM2.5 data," said Fang. [...] According to a municipal plan on air pollution control, Beijing hopes to implement the stricter State VI emissions standard, which is equivalent to the Euro VI standard, by 2016. The Beijing municipal government will also push for the use of green vehicles in the future and expand public transport to make it account for half of all traffic. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

201 call Shanghai suicide hotline in 1st week (China Daily)
2012-12-17
Shanghai's first 24-hour suicide-intervention hotline received more than 200 calls during its first week of operation. The free hotline at 021-5161-9995, launched on Dec 3, is run by the Life Education and Crisis Intervention Center, a nonprofit organization. Compared with other similar hotlines in the city, this new line extends its psychological service into late nights and early mornings, peak times for people to reach out for mental comfort, according to the hotline operator. "We received a lot of phone calls after the hotline was launched. This reflects that many people are needing the psychological and mental health aid," says psychological expert Lin Kunhui, the founder, who is also the secretary-general of the Taiwan Suicide Prevention and Cure Association. During the first week, a total of 201 calls were received. Among them, 137 calls were "ordinary" psychological counseling calls while 64 required crisis intervention. [...] Among the 64 calls that required crisis intervention, 22 were urgent, according to the center. [...] The World Health Organization said that each year about 287,000 people kill themselves in China, while about 2 million more attempt suicide. "In Taiwan, a 24-hour suicide intervention hotline can receive as many as 100,000 calls each year on average. But on the Chinese mainland, the number is still lagging behind," Lin says. "In this regard, psychological aid and crisis intervention need to be widely publicized." In addition to enrolling volunteers citywide, Life Education and Crisis Intervention Center will also organize public education and training activities at local schools, communities and companies. An online platform for psychological health guidance and suicide intervention is also expected to be operating within three to six months. ^ top ^

Public servants open to disclosure (Global Times)
2012-12-19
A recent study found that more than 77 percent of public servants in Shanghai said they would agree to disclose their personal assets before taking over a supervisory position in the government, the Youth Daily reported Wednesday. The survey was one of a series of surveys and studies that the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences carried out to investigate local officials' knowledge and understanding of the State Constitution. The results were compiled in a report called Shanghai Development of the Rule of Law 2013. [...] For question on personal asset disclosure, researchers polled 805 public servants at different levels of government in Shanghai, according to the report. The issue was one of the most problematic for other segments of the public surveyed by researchers, including Shanghai residents, lawyers and legal officers. In a survey of 675 legal officers working at government agencies, courts and prosecutors' officers in the city, more than 13 percent of respondents were pessimistic about officials disclosing their personal assets. In the survey, legal officers were also unsatisfied with several other aspects related to public servants, such as their cronyism, lack of accountability and consumption of the public funds, according to the report. [...] In the survey of public servants, researchers also found that 60 percent of respondents believed their power stemmed directly from the people. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Driver who ran over girl gets 30 months (China Daily)
2012-12-20
The driver who ran over and killed a 2-year-old girl in Foshan, Guangdong province, in October 2011 was sentenced to 30 months in prison for negligent homicide. A court found in September that Hu Jun had driven a van over Wang Yue, a girl widely known as Yue Yue, in a hardware market in Foshan. Minutes later, the girl was run over again, that time by a truck. Video footage showed that at least 18 people passed by the child after the accident without helping her. Seven minutes after Yue Yue had been run over, a 57-year-old rag collector named Chen Xianmei spotted her and found her parents. The girl died in a hospital a week later. Hu Jun's final sentence was a year shorter than the one he had received when he was convicted, Yangcheng Evening News reported on Wednesday. The report said witnesses, as well as other evidence, suggested that Hu had not been initially aware that he had hit someone. It wasn't until three days after the accident that he turned himself in to the police. Hu filed an appeal over his initial sentence. He and others involved in the accident eventually reached an agreement with Yue Yue's parents, pledging to pay them 303,000 yuan ($48,647) in compensation. The parents later said they understood Hu. The court that heard Hu's appeal, the Foshan Intermediate People's Court, decided the agreement constituted grounds for reducing Hu's criminal responsibility. [...] Yue Yue's death, although extremely sad, has had some good effects, said Tan Fang, a professor with the South China Normal University in Guangzhou. The government and public were quick to criticize the indifference shown by those who passed by the injured girl without trying to help her. And there have been institutional changes, he said. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Emily Lau Wai-hing becomes Democratic Party's first chairwoman (SCMP)
2012-12-16
Veteran politician Emily Lau Wai-hing has become the Democratic Party's first chairwoman after defeating vice-chairman Sin Chung-kai by a narrow margin in an election yesterday. Lau, acting chairwoman and a lawmaker for New Territories East, won 149 votes, deputy chairman Sin Chung-kai got 133 and Southern district councillor Au Nok-hin received 14. Of the three candidates for the party's two vice-chairman posts, Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, with 189 votes, and Lo Kin-hei, with 173, beat Kowloon East lawmaker Wu Chi-wai, with 166. Despite losing his bid for the vice-chairmanship, Wu won the most votes for a seat on the central committee - 260. Party chief executive Lam Cheuk-ting said 300 party members voted for a chairman, two deputy chairmen and 27 central committee members. "The party would have a dialogue with the liaison office of the central people's government on the issue of the 2017 chief executive election and 2020 Legco election if the central government shows its sincerity on the proposal for universal suffrage," Lau said. She said the new leadership would rejuvenate the party's image, garner more support and appeal to the young generation and women voters. Tsoi said he would focus on internal party reforms and Lo would reach out to the younger generation via new media. Political analyst Ma Ngok, an associate professor in the department of government and administration of Chinese University, expressed disappointment at the result and doubted the new leader could rejuvenate the party. "Lau is a veteran politician who first ran in a direct election for the Legislative Council 20 years ago. She belongs to the first generation, like Sin. She has appeared to be quite distant from civil society in recent years. How can she rejuvenate the party? She won by a narrow margin. Neither she nor Sin is a popular leader," Ma said. "The party only got six seats in the Legco election. The crux is how can the new leadership grab more seats in the next election." [...]. ^ top ^

Meeting to discuss CY's illegal structures cancelled after 23 no-shows (SCMP)
2012-12-18
A Legislative Council meeting to discuss the investigation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's illegal structures had to be aborted yesterday because not enough lawmakers turned up. Only nine of the 32 lawmakers on the development panel appeared for the meeting - one short of a quorum. Five of the nine were pan-democrats. The panel was scheduled to discuss issues including Leung's illegal structures, a proposal to rejuvenate Kowloon East and a signboard registration system. Of the 23 absent members, 10 were pan-democrats and 13 were from the pro-Beijing camp. Five pro-Beijing lawmakers sent letters to the Legco secretariat applying for leave. People Power legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip said he believed pro-Beijing lawmakers stayed away in an effort to spare Leung from further embarrassment before his three-day trip to Beijing. Deputy chairman Tony Tse Wai-chuen, of the architectural, surveying and planning constituency, chaired the meeting on behalf of pro-Beijing chairman Lau Wong-fat, who told the secretariat he had flu. Tse said he would consider an additional meeting. [...] Before the meeting, 17 members said they were able to attend but in the end 11 of them did not show up. Twelve pro-Beijing lawmakers from the Federation of Trade Unions and the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong were all absent. Other absentees offered apologies and different explanations. The chairwoman of the New People's Party, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, said she had taken medicine for a respiratory infection. Gary Chan Hak-kan, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said he had caught flu. New People Party's vice-chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun said he had a mobile phone signal problem and had to fix it. DAB lawmaker Chan Han-pan said he was so engrossed in talking to a woman over the phone that he forgot the time. Liberal Party lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun said he had an interview with RTHK. Pan-democrats Cyd Ho Sau-lan, Leung Kwok-hung and Claudia Mo Man-ching, and DAB lawmaker Ann Chiang Lai-wan said they were delayed by traffic. [...]. ^ top ^

Legco turns down proposal for inquiry into CY illegal structures (SCMP)
2012-12-20
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying survived yet another challenge over his illegal structures after the legislature last night voted down a proposal to launch a special inquiry. A resolution to invoke the Legislative Council's Powers and Privileges Ordinance was defeated 9-23 in the functional constituencies and tied 15-15 among directly elected lawmakers after six hours of debate. Passage required majority support in both groups. Three pan-democrats were absent from the vote proposed by Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan. They were Leung Yiu-chung, of the Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre, the Civic Party's Kenneth Chan Ka-lok and People Power's Wong Yuk-man. It was the pan-democrats' second attempt in two weeks to get Leung out of the top job. A vote of no confidence was vetoed in a similar fashion last week. Preparations for an impeachment are expected to conclude this month. Lee said there were at least 11 unanswered questions in the controversy over the structures at Leung's homes, including whether any senior officials had attempted to pressure the Buildings Department. "We have the responsibility to give people a full picture of what had happened," he said. [...] But pro-establishment lawmakers distanced themselves from the idea, including those who took a soft stance in the motion of no confidence last week. Liberal Party lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun said it was clear that Leung "had cheated" to win support from the public and the central government in the run-up to the chief executive election. "We are 90 per cent - if not 100 per cent - sure that Leung has an integrity problem. It does not require an inquiry to prove that he is guilty," he said. [...]. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping backs Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying in Beijing (SCMP)
2012-12-21
Party leader Xi Jinping gave his backing to embattled Leung Chun-ying yesterday as the chief executive made his first duty visit to Beijing. Accompanied by all the major present and future officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs, Xi told Leung his administration was "progressive, striving, pragmatic and promising". He said: "You have a heavy workload and it is exhausting. The central government affirm your work and will continue to firmly support [the SAR government] to rule in accordance with the law. "I can tell you all here that the central government's ruling policy of Hong Kong and Macau has remained unchanged," he said, referring to concerns over whether the recent party leadership reshuffle might affect the policy. "The key is to comprehensively and accurately understand and implement the one country, two systems as well as respect and safeguard the Basic Law." The meeting on Leung's first day in Beijing came amid mounting calls in Hong Kong for him to step down, with pan-democratic lawmakers agreeing to jointly table an impeachment motion. It also offered clues to the new line-up of mainland leaders who will sit in a leading group on Hong Kong and Macau affairs. Zhang Dejiang, newly promoted to the Politburo's Standing Committee, sat closest to Xi. Li Yuanchao, a member of the Politburo and a top candidate to become vice-president in March, was also present, as was Liao Hui, who has held sway over the city's affairs for more than a decade. [...] Xi's message to Leung seems to be a step forward compared with what President Hu Jintao told chief executive Tung Chee-hwa in 2004. Hu at the time said Hong Kong needed to "accurately understand" the "one country, two systems" formula. Leung thanked the central government for its support, adding that the nation's development blueprint outlined at the 18th party congress last month was very encouraging. [...] After the meeting, Leung said the controversy over his illegal structures was not mentioned. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan sends gay marriage case to top judges (SCMP)
2012-12-21
A Taiwanese court on Thursday shrank away from ruling on a gay couple's wish to have their marriage registered, saying it would pass on the controversial case to the island's top judicial body. The case has been widely described as a potential “milestone” for gay rights because it could lead to Asia's first legal same-sex marriage. “The court is preparing to ask the Grand Justices to make further explanations on the case,” an official at the Taipei High Administrative Court said. The court will meet once more on January 15 to finalise the decision to pass on the case to the Grand Justices, which are generally considered the highest level in Taiwan's complex legal system, standing above even the Supreme Court. Chen Ching-hsueh and his partner Kao Chih-wei earlier this year filed a complaint with the administrative court against a local household registration agency which turned them away when they tried to register their marriage. Chi Chia-wei, one of Taiwan's best-known gay rights advocates, expressed disappointment with the decision. “The judges showed no spine on this critical case. This could have become a milestone case for all Asia,” he said. Gay and lesbian groups in Taiwan, more liberal than most Asian societies, have been urging the government for years to make same-sex unions legal. More than 50,000 gays and lesbians and their supporters marched through downtown Taipei in October to push for the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Taiwan as the island marked its 10th annual Gay Pride event. [...]. ^ top ^

Former Taiwan leader sentenced to more jail time (Xinhua)
2012-12-21
Former Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian on Thursday was sentenced to 10 years in prison in another graft case. He will face a combined sentence of 20 years in prison. Taiwan's "supreme court" on Thursday published its verdict on another graft case involving Chen, saying Chen and his wife Wu Shu-chen jointly committed the crime of embezzlement. The court upheld the verdict in the second trial, sentencing Chen to 10 years in prison, fining him a total of 100 million New Taiwan dollars ($3.45 million) and depriving him of his political rights for eight years. Wu was sentenced to eight years in prison, fined 80 million New Taiwan dollars and deprived of her political rights for seven years. The 200 million New Taiwan dollars that the couple gained from embezzlement will be confiscated. The couple has been charged with requesting bribes and laundering money in some mergers and acquisitions of Taiwanese financial institutions. In 2010, Chen was sentenced to 18-and-a-half years in prison in another graft case involving land purchases. Legal experts say the couple's combined sentence will be changed if they are sentenced to life imprisonment in the final judgment. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Manufacturing hits 14-month high (China Daily)
2012-12-15
China's manufacturing activity hit a 14-month high in December, a further sign of a rebound in the country as domestic demand improves despite external weakness, HSBC said on Friday. The preliminary purchasing managers' index released by British banking giant HSBC Holdings PLC stood at 50.9 in December. The reading is 0.4 points higher than that of November and is the highest for 2012. A reading above 50 means economic expansion. HSBC's PMI is widely considered by China watchers as one of the most important economic indicators, sometimes even believed to be more accurate than the official PMI compiled by the National Bureau of Statistics. The data published on Friday is a flash, or a preliminary forecast, compiled based on questionnaires completed by purchasing managers from Dec 5 to 12. Final data for December will be published at the end of the month, which typically falls in a close range with flashes. The index "shows that economic recovery is gaining momentum supported by improving domestic demand", Qu Hongbin, HSBC's chief economist for China, said in a statement. The sub-index for new orders stood at a 20-month high of 52.7, reflecting strong domestic demand. The employment sub-index went above 50 for the first time in 10 months. The output sub-index dipped slightly but stayed in expansion territory. "This is a bit above consensus... and sustains an upward trend in mood," Dariusz Kowalczyk, a senior economist and strategist with Credit Agricole CIB, wrote in a research note. "Clearly, growth momentum is improving, but remains modest by historical standards." [...] Kowalczyk's forecast was supported by a jump in electricity consumption last month. The National Energy Administration said the nation consumed 7.6 percent more electricity in November than in the same period last year. [...]. ^ top ^

China targets quality, efficient growth in 2013 (Xinhua)
2012-12-17
Chinese authorities vowed Sunday to focus on quality and efficiency of economic growth in 2013, demonstrating their determination to ensure sustainable and healthy economic development after the previous pursuit of fast-track growth. A statement issued after the closure of central economic work conference, which set the tone for economic policymaking next year, said "enhancing quality and efficiency of economic growth" will be a "central task." The two-day conference offered a first glimpse into economic policies eyed by the new top leaders of the Communist Party of China, who decided to maintain a proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy in 2013 as they expect global economy to maintain a low growth. "The global economy has entered a period of profound transition and correction from a period of fast growth in the pre-crisis years," the statement said, warning of rising protectionism and increasing pressure from potential inflation and asset bubbles. [...] Yao Jingyuan, a researcher from the Councilor's Office of the State Council, or China's cabinet, said the most prominent problem with the Chinese economy is no longer growth rate but its quality and efficiency, which will stay unsteady and unsustainable if these issues are not solved. [...] To boost quality growth, the statement said expanding domestic demand will be a strategic basis for China's development next year. New growth points should be created in domestic consumption, which will serve as both a strong pulling power and foundation for the economy's sustained and healthy development, it said. [...]. ^ top ^

China's real GDP growth at around 5%: CASS (China Daily)
2012-12-18
China's real GDP growth, if the costs of ecological degradation and environmental pollution are taken out, is about 5 percent, Li Yang, deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told a conference on Saturday. The costs of ecological degradation and environmental pollution accounted for 8 percent of the GDP during the 1980s and 1990s, and they dropped to about 4 percent since 2005, Li said, while emphasizing that the growth model is not sustainable. China's GDP grew about 10 percent annually in the past three decades, but the growth rate will be less emphasized in the coming years, Li said. Lowering costs and enhancing productivity will become more important for the country, Li said at the two-day Central Economic Work Conference over the weekend. ^ top ^

Confidence in the economy on the rise (China Daily)
2012-12-18
Confidence among bankers and entrepreneurs in the health of China's economy has risen compared with three months ago, while inflation expectations went up among households, surveys said. The confidence of bankers in about 3,000 financial institutions in the economy next quarter rose 13.1 points to 55.1, according to a survey released by the People's Bank of China on Tuesday. More than 60 percent of the surveyed bankers said that they expect the economy to remain in a "normal" range, while nearly 35 percent believe economic conditions might be lackluster. A separate survey involving 5,000 entrepreneurs showed that an index measuring their confidence in the economy went up 1.2 points quarter-on-quarter to 60.4. However, the figure is 8 points lower than at the same time last year. Meanwhile, an index reflecting companies' profits rose 1.7 points to 53.1, although it still is 2.4 points lower than in the fourth quarter of 2011. November's data broadly confirmed that China's economy is recovering, although renewed weakness in exports and investment underscored the need for caution about the strength of the recovery, said Louis Kuijs, chief China economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and a former World Bank economist. [...] Another central bank survey showed that confidence in the employment situation among 20,000 urban households in 50 cities rose 1.9 points and reached a three-year high. But inflation expectations among households for the next quarter have risen, after a rebound in the consumer price index — a main gauge of inflation — in November. Almost 42 percent of those surveyed believe that consumer prices will rise in the next quarter, 4.7 percentage points higher than in the previous three months. However, the proportion of households who believe that prices are generally "too high to accept" decreased to 59 percent from nearly 61 percent in the previous quarter. [...]. ^ top ^

China's coal output to top 3.7b tons (Xinhua)
2012-12-19
China's coal production will reach more than 3.7 billion tons this year despite sagging market demand, an industry chief has predicted. Although coal output, imports and stocks continue to increase, the consumption of the mineral remains slack, Wang Xianzheng, chairman of the China Coal Industry Association, said at a forum on Wednesday. In the first 11 months of 2012, coal output totaled 3.51 billion tons, according to the association. In the period, coal imports stood at 245 million tons, and should reach 250 million tons in the year, its data showed. The import figure is slightly lower than the 290 million tons in coal stockpiles recorded by the end of November, indicating huge destocking pressure in the market. In contrast, coal consumption expanded at a slower pace, chipping away at corporate profits. Consumption reached 3.72 billion tons from January to November, with annual growth rate in the period down 5.6 percentage points compared to the pervious year. Meanwhile, combined profits at 90 major Chinese coal producers plunged 22.2 percent from a year earlier between January and October, according to the data. Despite the overproduction, Wang forecast supply shortages in the long term. He estimated coal consumption would reach between 4.8 billion tons and 5.3 billion tons by 2020. ^ top ^

Export quota for rare earths to stay the same (China Daily)
2012-12-20
The export quota for rare earths will be unchanged next year despite decade-low exports this year, industry leaders said. The price of rare earths should remain stable and better reflect their true value, and export volumes in 2013 will be similar to those of 2012, Liu Yinan, vice-chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, told China Daily on Wednesday. In the nine months to October, 9,967 metric tons were exported, according to the China Customs Statistics Information Center. That is just one-third of China's 2012 quota of 30,996 tons. China supplies 90 percent of the world's rare earths, the collective name of 17 elements needed to manufacture various high-tech products. Export volumes dropped 11.5 percent from a year ago, and were valued at $702 million, a fall of 61.5 percent. Exports this year are estimated to reach about 12,000 tons, Liu said, a 10-year low. Last year, 16,900 tons of rare earths were exported. During the peak in 2003, exports hit 70,000 tons. Liu attributed the slump to the slowdown in the global economy that has weakened demand from major importers such as Japan and the United States. Rising prices last year forced many manufacturers to switch to other materials or seek new markets for rare earths. [...] Liu said the price of some rare earth products has fluctuated wildly over the past two years. Du Shuaibing, an analyst at Baichuan Information, which focuses on analyzing the market for raw materials, said price and demand will be higher in 2013 as the global economy improves. "The price will be higher than this year, but supply will still exceed demand," Du said. [...]. ^ top ^

China to increase income control in monopolized sectors (Xinhua)
2012-12-20
China will increase its control over high earnings in monopolized sectors next year amid efforts to address income disparities, Minister of Finance Xie Xuren said Thursday. The government will improve its control policies on both the gross pay and the industry wage level in monopolized sectors in 2012 to optimize the national income distribution structure, Xie said at a national finance work meeting. Unfair income distribution has been a major source of public complaint over recent years, with many targeting state-run sectors. Economists view the issue as a major obstacle in deepening the country's economic reform. A State Council meeting in October said the government would formulate a general income distribution reform scheme in the fourth quarter of the year. Xie said the government will also work to promote the performance pay policy in government-affiliated institutions and regulate allowances and subsidies for civil servants next year. [...] Xie promised more efforts in stepping up the promotion of value-added tax (VAT), as the government will embark on nationwide pilot programs on transportation and part of the tertiary industry next year. The VAT, which is set to replace the country's current business tax, will be expanded to more regions and will cover a wider range of industries, including telecommunications, rail transport and construction and installation industries, according to Xie. In the next year, the country will maintain a steady export policy and lower the import tariff for energy products, resources and raw materials. Imports of advanced technical equipment and key industrial components and parts are also expected to see lower temporary tax rates, according to the meeting. [...]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Rocket launch shows strength of Kim leadership, North Korean party says (SCMP)
2012-12-17
The successful launch of a satellite is proof new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has the strength to lead the country, the nation's top leadership said yesterday. At a sombre memorial service honouring Kim Jong-il, leaders parlayed the success of the rocket launch into praise not only for the late leader who initiated the space programme but also for the son who carried out his mission. Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of North Korea's parliament, credited Kim Jong-il with building Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme, and called the satellite launch a "shining victory" and an emblem of the promise that lies ahead with successor Kim Jong-un in power. [...] Starting on Saturday, North Koreans began streaming to a bronze statue of Kim on Mansu Hill and to Kim-il Sung Square to pay their respects, many laying white mourning flowers and bowing before his image. Yesterday, a solemn Kim Jong-un joined the memorial service at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium on the eve of his father's death. Kim, whose entrances and exits are usually accompanied by a triumphant welcome song and a swell of cheers, entered the stage in silence, followed by top Workers' Party, government and Korean People's Army officials, as well as his aunt and uncle. A military band played the militaristic Song of General Kim Jong-il as officials and the audience bowed towards the massive portrait of Kim hung above the stage. Tight security surrounded the gymnasium near Pyongyang's Pothong Gate. Armed soldiers in helmets posted along the street outside diverted traffic and pedestrians while more guarded every entrance to the building. The few foreign journalists allowed to cover the event were searched by armed soldiers. In his speech, Kim Yong-nam called Kim Jong-il a "peerless patriot" who strengthened the military and stood up to the United States. As the hour-long ceremony came to a close, the band played the mournful refrain to The General Will Always be With Us. After the musicians put down their instruments, Kim Jong-un stood up and led a silent procession out. ^ top ^

No signal detected from North Korea satellite (SCMP)
2012-12-18
A satellite launched with fanfare last week by a defiant North Korea appears to be dead as no signal can be detected, a US-based astrophysicist who monitors spaceflights said on Monday. The United States and its Asian allies have acknowledged that North Korea succeeded on Wednesday in putting an object into orbit that the communist state said was observing the earth and airing patriotic songs. Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said that the satellite was clearly in orbit but that no songs could be heard. “To the best of our knowledge, the satellite isn't operating,” he said. “It's definitely up there and it's whizzing around, but it's just not feeling very well.” McDowell said it was unclear whether the satellite – called the Kwangmyongsong-3 – worked initially and that it remained possible that it was transmitting at a level too faint for detection. But in another sign of trouble, McDowell said that the satellite was fluctuating in brightness. That means that the sun is shining at different angles and the satellite is not pointing down at the earth as it should. Even if not functioning, the satellite remains in orbit. The commercial site www.n2yo.com on Monday tracked the satellite as orbiting at least 505 kilometres above earth, in line with North Korean statements. “These things are hard to calculate, but roughly speaking, an object of that density at that height is going to stay up for a few years,” McDowell said. The state-run Korean Central News Agency last week quoted a scientist saying that the technology was “flawless” and that the satellite was broadcasting Song of General Kim Il-sung and Song of General Kim Jong-il, references to the state's first two leaders. [...]. ^ top ^

TV pictures spark rumours wife of Kim Jong-un is heavily pregnant (SCMP)
2012-12-18
North Korea may soon witness the birth of the fourth generation of its hereditary dictatorship as television pictures showed that the wife of the country's leader appeared to be heavily pregnant. North Korean state television showed Kim Jong-un and his wife paying homage yesterday at a national memorial service for Kim's father, former leader Kim Jong-il, who died a year ago. The visibly swollen belly of Ri Sol-ju, was swiftly picked up by the South Korean media. "Ri appeared to be in the late stages of pregnancy," Yonhap news agency said, while the Chosun newspaper predicted that birth "was not far away". It was not possible to verify that she was pregnant and there was no official announcement by North Korean media. According to intelligence reports cited by the South Korean media, the couple were married in 2009 and already have one child, although that has never been confirmed. [...] To mark the anniversary of his death, Pyongyang unveiled the embalmed body of Kim Jong-il yesterday, still in his trademark khaki jumpsuit. Kim lies in state a few floors below his father, national founder Kim Il-sung, in the Kumsusan mausoleum, the cavernous former presidential palace. Wails echoed through the chilly hall as a group of women sobbed into the sashes of their traditional Korean dresses as they bowed before his body. North Korea also unveiled Kim's yacht and his armoured train carriage, where he is said to have died of a heart attack from overwork on December 17 last year. [...]. ^ top ^

UN chief says ready to visit Pyongyang at appropriate conditions (Xinhua)
2012-12-20
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday said that with "appropriate conditions created," he is ready to visit Pyongyang himself and "discuss with the leaders of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) on all the issues to help facilitate, first of all, the dialogue, exchange and cooperation between the two parties of Korea." The secretary-general, who was the former foreign minister of South Korea, made the statement as he was answering a question at his year-end press conference here. "When time comes, when appropriate condition is created, I'm ready to visit myself Pyongyang to discuss with the leaders of the DPRK on all the issues to help facilitate, first of all, the dialogue, exchange and cooperation between the two parties of Korea," Ban said. "And I will do whatever I can." "I have been expressing my position (very clearly) when it comes to the peace and stability, and dialogue and exchange and cooperation between the Republic of Korea and the DPRK," he said, noting that the DPRK has a new leadership. Meanwhile, he also voiced his hope to see what he called "an appropriate response" of the UN Security Council to the December 12 rocket launch by the DPRK. "The provocative rocket launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has raised regional concerns and defied the international community," Ban said. "I look forward to the outcome of Security Council consultations on an appropriate response." [...]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolian foreign debt reaches 12.9 bln USD (Xinhua)
2012-12-19
Mongolia's foreign debt has reached 12.9 billion U.S. dollars, according to a new report. According to a third-quarter report released by the Mongol Bank, debt of the government and private sector increased nearly 44 percent year on year, making the total debt 1.4 times that of the same period last year. The private sector borrowed the majority of the debt, amounting to 9.9 billion dollars. The remaining debt was borrowed by the government and the central bank. In addition, debt related to recent trading in the 1.5 billion-dollar bonds, known as "Chingis Bonds," has been excluded from the debt estimation, the report said. The Mongolian government hopes to sell bonds to raise another 3.5 billion dollars to invest in the country's infrastructure and mining sectors. ^ top ^

MPRP decides to remain in Mongolian coalition gov't (Xinhua)
2012-12-20
Gankhuyag Shiilegdamba, secretary general of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, says the MPRP has decided to remain in the country's coalition government. Shiilegdamba said Wednesday that the MPRP's executive bureau has decided to cancel a previous decision to withdraw from the coalition to maintain its stability, and to curb social injustice from within the government. The MPRP announced earlier this month that it would quit the coalition government because of political persecution against former President Nambar Enkhbayar, the party's chairman. Enkhbayar was convicted of improperly privatizing a hotel and a state-owned publishing house and was sentenced to two and half years in prison. Enkbayar said earlier from behind bars that it is important to keep the government stable. He also appealed to the Justice Coalition, which includes his party, to work together to prevent judges from working under political orders and contribute to the development of Mongolia. The former president's supporters claim that Enkhbayar was framed by President Tsakhia Elbegdorj for political reasons. ^ 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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