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
  29.12.12-4.1.13, No. 456  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China to give Armenia 70 million yuan in aid (Xinhua)
2012-12-29
China agreed Friday to give Armenia a grant of 70 million yuan ($11.2 million) as part of an economic and technical partnership agreement. The agreement was signed between Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Manassarian and Chinese Charge d'Affaires Chao Mingwen. Armenia will use the aid to re-equip its customs services, but the biggest portion of the grant will go to establishing a school that will have teaching Chinese as a specialty. China has been providing aid to Armenia since 1999 under the economic and technical partnership. In 2012, Armenia and China marked the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. ^ top ^

Chinese surveillance vessels patrolling Diaoyu Islands (Xinhua)
2012-12-31
Three Chinese marine surveillance ships continued to patrol territorial waters off China's Diaoyu Islands Monday, according to the State Oceanic Administration (SOA). The vessels are Haijian 51, Haijian 15, and Haijian 83, the SOA said in a statement. ^ top ^

China deeply concerned over Syrian situation (Xinhua)
2012-12-31
China is deeply concerned about the Syrian situation and urged all relevant parties to consider the long-term interests of the country's people, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Monday. Hua Chunying made the remarks at a daily press briefing. Government forces claimed that they killed dozens of foreign militants in Homs on Dec. 29, according to local Syrian media. Meanwhile, the anti-government forces accused government forces of killing civilians in Homs. "All sides concerned in Syria should immediately cease fire and stop the violence, protect citizens and launch an inclusive political dialogue and political transition,so as to end the crisis at an early date," Hua said. [...] Hua said China respects the choice made by the Syrian people, and is positive and open to any resolution plan that is widely accepted by relevant parties in Syria. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy to attend Ghana's presidential inauguration (Xinhua)
2012-12-31
Chinese President Hu Jintao will send a special envoy to the inauguration of Ghana's newly-elected president John Dramani Mahama, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday. Special envoy and Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei will travel to Accra, capital of Ghana, to attend the ceremony on Jan 7, Hua said at a daily press briefing. ^ top ^

First Chinese TWAS president takes office (Xinhua)
2013-01-01
Dr. Bai Chunli took office on Tuesday as the president of the Academy of Science for the Developing World (TWAS), becoming the first Chinese national heading the organization. Dr. Bai Chunli, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was elected president of TWAS in Sept. 2012 to replace 72-year-old Brazilian Jacob Palis. Bai is a leading scientist in China's nanotechnology study, especially in scanning tunneling microscopy, since the 1980s. TWAS, formerly the Third World Academy of Science until 2004 and currently the Academy of Science for the Developing World, was founded in 1983 in Trieste, Italy to promote scientific excellence and sustainable development in developing countries. It has recruited more than 1,000 academicians from 92 countries and regions. ^ top ^

Chinese surveillance ships patrol South China Sea (Xinhua)
2013-01-01
Two Chinese marine surveillance ships on Tuesday patrolled waters near the Beibu Gulf of the South China Sea where offshore oil platforms are located, according to the State Oceanic Administration (SOA). The vessels are Haijian 75 and Haijian 84, the SOA said in a statement, adding the surveillance aircraft B-3843 also patrolled the same waters. One of the oil platforms, Ledong 22-1, told patrolling fleet that no oil leak had taken place, nor had they been harassed by foreign vessels lately. The SOA said Chinese marine surveillance ships carried out 58 patrolling missions on the South China Sea in 2012. ^ top ^

China deeply concerned over Vietnam maritime law (Xinhua)
2013-01-01
BEIJING - China's Foreign Ministry on Monday urged Vietnam to refrain from taking any actions that complicate and escalate issues between the two countries, as a Vietnamese maritime law is due to become effective on Tuesday. In a press release, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stressed that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha Islands, Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters in the South China Sea. Any claim raised by any other country and any action taken by any other nation to territorial sovereignty over the islands and waters are illegal and invalid, she said. Hua said that China is deeply concerned about the negative impact of the implementation of the law. In June, the Vietnam National Assembly passed the "Vietnamese Law of the Sea," which describes China's Xisha Islands and Nansha Islands as being within Vietnam's sovereignty and jurisdiction. ^ top ^

Fake drugs harm China's overseas image (Global Times)
2013-01-03
A recent Guardian story, "Counterfeit medicine from Asia threatens lives in Africa," highlighted the dangers posed by fake pharmaceuticals. Shocking data revealed that as much as a third of crucial medicines such as anti-malarials in some African countries are fake. And in a continent where cheap made-in-China imports have become the norm, the origin of the majority of these fakes isn't hard to guess. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement claiming that these drugs are never delivered through formal channels. But even illegally imported drugs pose a diplomatic problem. We've become used to shanzhai (copycat) products in China, but things take a sour turn when the goods aren't just ripoffs or cheap imitations, but outright fakes. And when the culture of fraud extends even into supposedly lifesaving medicines, it's time to get angry. This isn't to single out China. Indian firms produce a large share of the fake drug market in Africa too. And the West has its own history of using the developing world as a dumping ground for toxic or poorly made products. Yet failing to tackle the issue could cost China dearly. Chinese lives are at stake too. A crackdown in August saw 2,000 people arrested and $187 million worth of fake drugs confiscated. But that was only the tip of the iceberg. Pharmaceutical sales make up the majority of hospitals' incomes in China, yet I was told by one doctor in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province, that up to a quarter of the drugs bought by his hospital, one of the city's largest, were fakes, and another quarter severely substandard. Collusion between doctors and pharmaceutical agents is disturbingly common. [...] But when this toxic trade is exported overseas, it does more than just sow personal misery. It fundamentally undermines Beijing's efforts at building a positive international image. China already has a persistent image problem when it comes to the quality of its goods; the last thing it needs is to become associated with deadly medicine. As part of Beijing's push for closer ties and greater influence in Africa, Chinese firms are building hospitals across the continent, often at cut-price rates with the help of State backing. But if these hospitals' pharmacies are filled with made-in-China fake drugs, the goodwill caused by their building is undone. The problem isn't confined to Africa. Although the developed countries have tighter checks and regulations on imported drugs, fake or toxic chemicals from Chinese firms have sometimes infiltrated the production chain, to deadly effect. A batch of tainted heparin that killed over 80 people in the US in 2007-08 was traced back to a Chinese manufacturer, resulting in a gush of newspaper stories that highlighted the dangers of cheap imports. One persistent problem is that Chinese chemicals made for export are not subject to the same inspection and oversight as those made for domestic consumption. Entirely different government departments handle chemicals for export, leading to a lack of coordination. Even for the domestic market, inspection is often lax or easily evaded by paying off the right people. As always, simple "crackdowns" will not solve the problem. The incentives involved need to be permanently changed. That means tightening up domestic purchase of pharmaceuticals, detaching hospitals' incomes from selling drugs, and giving doctors and regulators the appropriate pay, training, and professional spirit. Otherwise fake drugs will leave behind not only ruined lives, but wrecked diplomacy. ^ top ^

China welcomes ROK court decision on Chinese national (Xinhua)
2013-01-03
China on Thursday welcomed a decision made by a Republic of Korea (ROK) court to turn down a Japanese extradition request for a Chinese national who served a ten-month jail sentence for an arson attack on the Japanese embassy in Seoul. "The Chinese side welcomes the result of the case," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in response to a question from the media on the Seoul High Court's decision. [...] "The Chinese government attaches great importance to safeguarding Chinese citizens' security and legitimate rights," Hua said, adding that personnel from the Chinese embassy in the ROK had visited Liu several times and offered him necessary assistance within the limits of their responsibilities. According to media reports, Liu has served ten months in a ROK prison for throwing Molotov cocktails at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul in January last year. Japan had sought Liu's extradition in connection with a separate arson attack that caused minor damage at the Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo in December 2011. The shrine honors WWII war criminals among the war dead. ^ top ^

PLA carries out defence drills in Shenyang, Jinan and Sansha (SCMP)
2013-01-04
The People's Liberation Army held a series of preparedness drills in Shenyang, Jinan and newly established Sansha in Hainan, the city created by Beijing to oversee disputed islands in the South China Sea. The military drills on Wednesday were aimed at enhancing soldiers' combat consciousness and capabilities, the People's Liberation Army Daily reported. [...] Since Chenhang is one of the most important strategic islands near Sansha, the daily said, its garrison had been trained to remain vigilant at all time, especially during festival holidays. It said officers had deployed more troops on patrols. Sansha has a permanent civilian population of about 1,000 but was given army divisions comprising at least 6,000 troops after it was upgraded to a prefectural-level city on June 21. On the same day, preparedness exercises, including air defence, anti-terrorist, emergency muster and fire drills, took place in Shenyang, the capital city of Liaoning, and Jinan, the capital city of Shandong, the newspaper reported. It said drills were also carried out in Zhejiang's capital city, Hangzhou, on New Year's Day. Ni Lexiong, director of the sea power and defence policy research institute at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said the exercises were to improve the PLA's ability to deal with surprise military strikes, especially from the Japanese military, known for its sneak raids in the second world war. [...]. ^ top ^

Domestic Policy

China's transport improves, faces pressure: minister (Xinhua)
2012-12-29
Some 87,000 kilometers of new highways opened in China in 2012, marking a record-high year-on-year growth rate, a senior transport official said Saturday. Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang said 11,000 km of the new highways are expressways. In addition to building new highways, China has also improved 194,000 km of rural roads this year, according to Yang. "China's transport sector has seen historic changes during the past decade," said Yang, adding that the total length of highways in operation is expected to reach 4.1 million km by the end of this year. However, Yang also said China's transport capacity remains insufficient, considering the booming demand created by the country's industrialization and urbanization. To meet mounting demand, Yang said China will continue to intensify transport facility construction and try to make these facilities more durable and reliable. [...]. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping urges greater poverty-alleviation efforts (Xinhua)
2012-12-30
Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping has urged local authorities to escalate poverty-alleviation efforts during a weekend tour to improvised villages in north China. Braving snowy and chilly weather, Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on Sunday morning visited farmer homes at Luotuowan and Gujiatai villages in Fuping, a mountain-locked county in Hebei province. During chats with villagers, Xi paid special attention to difficulties in their daily life, such as problems concerning income, food, education and medical care. Xi told local officials to always bear in mind the impoverished people and work wholeheartedly to help them. Local Party and government authorities should place the mission of helping people out of poverty in more important position, he said. ^ top ^

CPC outlines anti-corruption plan for new year (Global Times)
2012-12-31
The Communist Party of China (CPC) will make more efforts to wean its members away from extravagance, bureaucratic behaviors and abuse of power as part of an anti-graft drive in the new year.
The move is part of the 2013 anti-graft plan as outlined in a report delivered by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) in a meeting on Monday. The meeting, held by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, was presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of CPC Central Committee. A statement after the meeting read, "The fight against corruption is still arduous under the new circumstances, and a small number of Party members have a weak sense of responsibility." [...] The statement urged the entire Party to strengthen "a sense of hardship, risk and responsibility," exert more efforts to handle corruption and prevent corruptive behaviors from spreading. Stressing equal attention to prevention and punishment, the statement called on all CPC departments to intensify supervision of officials' adherence to various disciplines as well as Party policies and decisions. [...]. ^ top ^

Xi emphasizes adherence to CPC Congress spirit (Xinhua)
2012-12-31
Xi Jinping, the new leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC), has advocated six ways to adhere to the spirit of the 18th CPC National Congress held in November. In an article to be published Tuesday in "Seeking Truth," the official magazine of the CPC Central Committee, Xi advocates implementing the spirit of the congress by sticking to a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, studying and putting into practice a system of socialist theory with Chinese characteristics, building a moderately prosperous society, ensuring and improving livelihoods, promoting the CPC's construction and deepening reforms. ^ top ^

Beijing, Shanghai start visa-free transit policy (Xinhua)
2013-01-02
Travelers from 45 countries can now benefit from a 72-hour visa-free stay policy in Beijing and Shanghai, a move that could attract more transit visitors.
On Tuesday morning, a Chinese Australian surnamed Zhou became the first visitor to benefit from the policy after he arrived at Beijing Capital International Airport.
Zhou knew about the policy when he booked his flight tickets. He decided to stay in Beijing for two days before flying to Rome, Italy.
Tourists holding third country visas and plane tickets can now apply for a transit without visa at Beijing's international airport. Foreign visitors are not permitted to leave Beijing to other Chinese cities during the 72 hours, and have to depart from the capital city. The 45 countries were listed in accordance with the numbers of inbound overnight visitors in Beijing from 2009 to 2011. The same policy also took effect in Shanghai where visitors can submit applications at Pudong and Hongqiao airports. ^ top ^

Oil field produces 40 mln tonnes for 10th year (Xinhua)
2013-01-02
PetroChina Daqing Oilfield, a subsidiary of PetroChina, produced 40 million tonnes of crude oil in 2012, the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) said. This is the tenth consecutive year for the country's largest oil field to yield more than 40 million tonnes of crude oil, according to the CNPC, the parent of public-listed PetroChina. Previously, the oil field had seen annual output exceed 50 million tonnes, but output shrank due to harder operations in oil exploitation, according to the CNPC, the country's largest oil producer and supplier. The oil field aims to secure annual crude oil production of 40 million tonnes during the 12th Five-year Plan period (2011-2015). In 2012, Daqing also produced 3.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas. And the oil field added 55.35 million tonnes of proven oil reserves. Discovered in 1959, Daqing is located in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. China consumed 450 million tonnes of crude oil in 2011, 250 million tonnes of which were imported, and both the oil consumption and the oil import ratio will continue to rise, according to the CNPC. ^ top ^

Don't run a yellow light? Chinese motorists attack new rule that 'causes accidents' (SCMP)
2013-01-02
Is yellow the new red? In China, running yellow traffic lights is officially illegal. China's new traffic regulation that went into effect on Tuesday bans motor vehicles from running yellow lights, but it has also left drivers across the nation confused, sceptical and even angry. Drivers who are caught crossing an intersection on a yellow light now face severe penalties. In the past, a driver who ran a red would lose three points, in a 12-point system (those who lose all of their points must undergo training and pass an exam). Under the new rule, running a red or a yellow light means losing a whopping six points. Offenders would also have to pay a maximum fine of 200 yuan (HK$248), China's People's Daily reported on Tuesday. Authorities believe this new rule will curb the number of traffic violations, but many drivers argue it will only create more chaos and congestion. [...] Sun Yixuan, another Beijing driver, wrote on Weibo that he had crashed into the rear of a car that stopped abruptly for a yellow light. [...] “What's the point of keeping yellow lights since they work the same as red lights now?” said one Weibo user. Many believe the new rule will trigger more accidents and congestion. [...] In an unusual move, China's state Xinhua News Agency echoed drivers' oppositions on Tuesday. A post on its official Weibo reads: "This new rule is against Newton's first law of motion." In a Weibo post titled “Xinhua Micro Comment”, Xinhua lashed out at the new rule, quoting complaints from netizens. [...]. ^ top ^

New monitoring standards join quest to fight pollution (China Daily)
2013-01-02
China on Tuesday started to issue daily reports on air quality in 74 major Chinese cities by adopting more extensive monitoring standards, including the level of PM 2.5 — the smallest and most dangerous pollution particles. Five other pollutants, including ozone and carbon monoxide, were also placed under the new monitoring standard issued in February by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The previous standard only covered PM 10 — particulate matter up to 10 micrometers in size, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. [...] The data, released on the website of the China National Environmental Monitoring Center, are updated every hour. People can also check the information for these pollutants monitored in the past 24 hours at various monitoring stations in the 74 cities. [...] High levels of PM 2.5 caused an estimated 8,572 premature deaths in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi'an in 2012, according to a report by Greenpeace and Peking University's School of Public Health in December. Some of the cities had already been releasing readings for PM 2.5. For example, Shanghai began to release figures for the concentration of PM 2.5 collected from 10 monitoring stations in June, while 35 monitoring stations in Beijing started to release the data in October. [...] Cities in major industrial areas, such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta regions, as well as all provincial capitals, were ordered to monitor PM 2.5 from October and publish readings before the end of 2012. [...]. ^ top ^

Sinopec official denies accepting escort service in bribery case (SCMP)
2013-01-03
State-owned oil giant Sinopec has launched an investigation into allegations that one of its officials accepted escort services as a bribe by a supplier, which won a lucrative contract for a project worth 18 billion yuan (HK$22 billion) in Wuhan. The official at China Petroleum & Chemical, identified only by her last name as Zhang, called the accusations false and added that she had filed a complaint with the police, reported China News Service on Thursday. The allegations first surfaced on one of China's popular online forums this week, but its origins are unclear. The story was quickly picked up by major newspapers. [...] The scandal involves US-listed technology company Agilent Technologies, which had been accused of bribing Zhang with sex service provided by male sex workers in a high-end Beijing club, said media reports. Some of the escorts were reported to be African. Agilent had secretly videotaped Zhang, reports said. It later threatened her with the tape when the company competed for a big contract to sell machines to Sinopec for an 18-billion-yuan plant to produce petrochemical ethylene in Hubei province's Wuhan. [...]. ^ top ^

Traffic violations dwindle under harsh rules (Xinhua)
2013-01-03
The number of traffic violations has plummeted since the "harshest-ever" traffic rules took effect on Jan. 1, 2013, the Ministry of Public Security announced on Thursday. From Jan. 1 to 6 p.m. Jan. 3, police had found 2,157 cases of vehicles' ignoring traffic lights, a decrease of 66 percent year-on-year, 124 cases of drink driving, a year-on-year drop of 72 percent, and 7,822 cases of improper license plate display, decreased by 53 percent year-on-year. A total of 1,204 traffic accidents involving deaths or injuries had occurred during the first three days of the new year, a year-on-year slump of 22 percent. The ministry stated the decreases in traffic accidents and violations showed that newly-revised traffic rules had been effective in regulating driving behaviors and preventing road accidents. [...] The new rules were deemed the "harshest-ever" traffic rules by Internet users upon introduction, and also criticized as too harsh and teeming with design flaws. The most complained rule is the penalty for ignoring yellow light, the light that signals before red light reminding drivers to prepare for a halt. Drivers complained they may not be able to respond swiftly as the light suddenly shifts from green to yellow. Previously, only ignoring red light is deemed as violation. [...]. ^ top ^

Fatal explosion covered up in North China (Xinhua)
2013-01-03
A subsidiary of the China Railway Tunnel Group purposefully concealed a fatal railway tunnel explosion that occurred on Dec. 25 in north China's Shanxi Province, the State Council's Work Safety Committee said Thursday. Eight people were killed and five were injured in the explosion, which occurred on a section of railway tunnel that was under construction, the committee said in a statement. Authorities confirmed the explosion on Dec. 30, one day after it was revealed online by netizens, the statement said. An initial investigation singled out illegal blasting operations as the cause of the accident, as well as revealed that the explosion was concealed by the construction project's manager. An investigative team has been set up to probe the accident, local authorities said. The statement said authorities will step up crackdowns on the concealment of fatal accidents and implement greater punishments for those found responsible. [...]. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping's guidelines to cut back extravagance go into effect (SCMP)
2013-01-04
Expensive meals and showy official trips are being banned across the country as local authorities scramble to conform to Communist Party chief Xi Jinping's call to streamline the bureaucracy and cut waste and extravagance. At least 17 provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, have rolled out detailed guidelines to follow through on Xi's "eight rules" on official behaviour, according to People's Daily, the party's mouthpiece. Authorities in the rest of the country, including Chongqing, Guangdong, Shanghai, and Tianjin, have all pledged to do so soon. The rules adopted by the new 25-member Politburo early last month appear aimed at appeasing mounting popular anger over an avalanche of social ills, with official corruption and injustice among the top public concerns. Measures subsequently adopted by central and local governments have generally received loud applause, although they have been mostly concerned with controlling cadres' behaviour, rather than limiting their almost unbridled power, as many in the public would desire. Like Xi's rules banning red carpets, empty speeches and traffic controls during officials' trips, local authorities have promised to reduce ostentation. Authorities in Anhui, for instance, said provincial leaders must spend a month visiting grass-roots areas every year. Top officials in Jiangsu and Gansu were required to spend at least 60 days on inspection trips. [...] Local authorities also announced restrictions on how leading cadres should be treated during their visits, from having buffet meals without liquor to protocol details such as bans on banners, cheering crowds and expensive hotel suites. [...] Many local governments, including Hunan and Xinjiang, also vowed to phase out expensive foreign-brand vehicles and to buy cheaper local brands instead. Analysts and mainland internet users have expressed scepticism about the guidelines, which many saw simply as a public relations effort amid a looming crisis over the ruling party's credibility and legitimacy. "Who has the authority to keep top leaders at all levels on a leash when they are targeted by the measures?" asked Professor Zhu Lijia, of the Chinese Academy of Governance. "Is there anyone who still believes such self-examination and self-discipline can work?". ^ top ^

China's new Internet ID policy triggers online discussion (Xinhua)
2013-01-04
A policy that requires users to use their real names when registering for Internet access has triggered heated discussion, with some for and some against it. On Dec. 28, China's top legislature passed rules on protecting online information, with a provision requiring Internet users to use their real names to identify themselves to service providers, including Internet or telecommunications operators. [...] "Zhang Lifan," a netizens on popular Internet portal Sina.com, wrote that the regulation will affect online communication and reduce netizens' desire to participate in political discussions. Yin Yungong, director of the Institute of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the policy will help to dispel malicious rumors at their source. [...] Actually, many Chinese service providers have already set real-name registration requirements. China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom, China's three biggest telecom companies, have required individuals and enterprises to provide their real names when subscribing to data transmission services since September 2010. Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging site that has been used by netizens to blow the whistle on corrupt officials, has required users to register with their real names since earlier this year. Huzhichenfeibeijixing, a Sina Weibo user, said whistleblowers using their real names will give their claims more weight. [...] A survey published by the China Center for Information Industry Development in May 2012 showed that more than 60 percent of respondents said they had suffered personal information theft. [...] It said real-name registration has been the order of the day, as most of China's 513 million netizens have done online shopping. As some netizens fear the so-called compulsory real-name registration, they are probably unaware that they have already registered their real identities online. "Therefore, it's necessary to make rules to protect netizens' online information," said the comment, urging netizens not to misinterpret the intention of the legislators and blindly echo ungrounded criticisms of the rules. ^ top ^

Poorest Chinese province to settle 100,000 in new homes (Xinhua)
2013-01-04
A southwestern Chinese province with the largest impoverished population in the country will relocate more than 100,000 destitute rural residents into modern communities before spring 2013. The move was part of a poverty alleviation project initiated last year to move 2 million farmers out of the province's poverty-ridden mountainous and desert areas within nine years. According to the province's office on poverty relief and ecological migration, Guizhou built 180 new communities for the project in 2012, with a cost of 1.81 billion yuan (287.9 million US dollars). The first batch of 101,300 farmers are expected to move into their new homes before this year's Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on February 10, an official from the office said. Guizhou is home to 11.49 million rural residents who are struggling below the national poverty line for farmers, which was raised to 2,300 yuan in per capital annual income in 2011. The official said most of the communities were adjacent to towns and industrial parks where job opportunities abound, and the local governments will offer job training to help the farmers adapt to their new lives. Those relocated near towns will also have access to education, medical services and other social welfare enjoyed by urban dwellers. Officials in Guizhou said the project would relocate another 250,000 farmers in 2013. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

China's leaders celebrate New Year with political advisors (Global Times)
2013-01-01
China's leaders on Tuesday celebrated New Year's Day with political advisors in Beijing, with Xi Jinping delivering a speech. The leaders attended a tea party held by the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body. Attendees included President Hu Jintao, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Xi Jinping, Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli. Delivering his speech at the party, Xi said socialism with Chinese characteristics is a good cause that will benefit the people but is also an arduous cause that requires wisdom and endeavor. Xi said in completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, it is vital to have a determined confidence to overcome difficulties and solidify powerful strength to promote the cause. Xi said 2012 had a special and important meaning for China during which time the country made progress while maintaining stability in promoting economic and social development when facing a severe international economic situation and a lot of domestic work. Hong Kong and Macao continued to maintain stability and prosperity, and cross-Strait exchange and cooperation deepened. China had carried out all-round international exchange and cooperation and made new contributions to maintaining world peace and promoting common development, Xi said. Xi said this year is the beginning of implementing the spirits and policies made by the CPC's 18th National Congress. He called for efforts to promote continuous, healthy economic development and social harmony and stability, advance defense and military modernization and improve Party building. [...] Xi also gave regards to compatriots of Special Administration Regions of Hong Kong and Macao, Taiwan and Chinese people overseas as well as foreign friends who are concerned about and support China's modernization construction. The General Secretary said the country will stick to the guidelines of "one country, two systems," "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong," "Macao people governing Macao" and a high degree of autonomy to maintain the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao. "We will adhere to the principle of 'peaceful reunification and one country, two systems' while consolidating and developing the foundation of peaceful development of cross-Strait relations," he said, referring to the relation between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. [...] The leaders were joined by senior members of the central committees of non-Communist parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, people without party affiliation, officials of the central government and representatives from a variety of professions and ethnic groups in Beijing. ^ top ^

Beijing marks New Year with shopping spree (Xinhua)
2013-01-04
Beijing's major commercial outlets started the year 2013 with a business boom as shopping prevailed over travels as citizens' favorite activity during the New Year holiday. Beijing marked the "coldest New Year" from January 1 to 3, with temperatures constantly dropping below minus-10 degrees Celsius, and the bitter cold might have contributed to the business boom by luring many holiday goers into air-conditioned shopping malls. Statistics from Beijing Commercial Information Consulting Center show the 100 major commercial and service enterprises in the city recorded 2.34 billion yuan (372 million U.S. dollars) in sales during the three-day holiday, rising 8.4 percent from a year earlier. [...] Despite the chilly weather, Beijing remained a magnet for domestic and foreign tourists. The city received 1.53 million visitors during the holiday, up 19.2 percent year on year, according to tourist authorities. Beijing and Shanghai on Tuesday started the 72-hour visa-free stay policy, a move to encourage transit foreign visitors to travel and shop in the two cities. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

S China province deepens government reform (Xinhua)
2012-12-28
China's top legislature on Friday adopted a draft decision authorizing the southern province of Guangdong to bypass several laws while carrying out temporary administrative reforms. The draft, approved by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), enables Guangdong to suspend or adjust 25 governmental examination and approval items set by national laws. The move marks a step forward in further limiting government power, but guarantees the procedural legitimacy of the proposed reforms. On Aug. 22, the State Council, or China's cabinet, approved Guangdong's reform program with respect to approval items set by lower-level regulations, specifying that items set by national laws need to go through special legal procedures at the NPC Standing Committee. [...] The government has pledged to deepen reforms concerning matters subject to government examination and approval so as to provide quality public services and maintain social fairness and justice. Since 2001, the government has made six attempts to clean up the overloaded administrative approval system. Cuts or adjustments were made to 2,497 administrative approval items, or 69.3 percent of the total. However, China's economic and social development requires more intense reforms, as unnecessary government intervention in the private sector has resulted in power abuses and rent-seeking. [...]. ^ top ^

Crusade against gaokao unfairness speeds up (Global Times)
2012-12-30
Guangdong Province has announced that from 2016, students whose housing registration, or hukou is not from the province but who meet certain requirements can sit the college entrance exams, or gaokao there. This decision will surely put pressure on Beijing and Shanghai. The two cities, which have the greatest number of famous universities, have no reason to forbid migrant students from attending the exams forever. Both Beijing and Shanghai published plans for where non-local students should sit the gaokao yesterday. Although they haven't eased restrictions on them, it's only a matter of time till the two cities compromise.[...] Key universities in Beijing and Shanghai enroll students nationwide. Meanwhile, their locations determine that they have to make policies favorable to locals. They have to balance the two. In the past, these universities have tilted too much toward local students, which has aroused public criticism. In recent years, these universities have enrolled more students from other places, especially those schools in Beijing. However, such reforms still do not meet the expectations of non-local students and their parents. [...] Allowing non-local hukou holders to take the gaokao in the place where they live, rather than where they were born, is bound to happen eventually. The number of migrant workers in Beijing and Shanghai is increasing, and the calls for educational fairness are also growing. [...] The fundamental reason for the attractiveness of Beijing and Shanghai is China's unbalanced development. We should both make the resources that the two cities boast open to all places and speed up the development of cities that could have the same attractiveness as Beijing and Shanghai. [...]. ^ top ^

Guangdong censor's clumsy hatchet job sparks fierce backlash (SCMP)
2013-01-03
The first big political scandal of 2013 has been delivered courtesy of Tuo Zhen, propaganda chief of Guangdong province. Earlier this week, Tuo spiked the annual editorial address run by the widely respected Southern Weekly newspaper, the latest issue of which hit shelves today. Tuo then replaced the address with a short bland message lined with officialese, referring repeatedly to Xi Jinping as the key for China to realise all its dreams. For his "rape", as it's being called, of the news weekly's meagre editorial independence, Tuo's has become a household name overnight as furious media professionals and netizens across the country have raised discussion over the censored address to the top of social media trending topic lists. The original text, “China's Dream, a Difficult Dream”, instead of being censored, can now be found easily on various websites. Talk of protests and resignations began soon after the scandal broke online on Wednesday night. One Sina Weibo user claiming to be an employee of Southern Weekly's parent company, Nanfang Media Group, wrote this morning: Rumour has it when Tuo arrived in Guangdong, he called up the heads of each newspaper for one-on-one chats, saying the party has entrusted them to hold the line on permitted speech together, that any lost ground will be lost for good. Then he came out with a series of mortal blows: forbidding Guangdong media from reporting on corruption in other provinces, banning any commentary on negative news in far-off locations, constantly requiring that only the People's Daily or Xinhua version of news be allowed to run. Southern Weekly in particular has been ordered to get prior approval for every story from the provincial propaganda department, which won't let each issue go to print until it's seen all major reports. [...] “China's Dream”, penned by longtime Southern Weekly columnist Dai Zhiyong, is a lofty and moderate essay approximately twice the length of what Tuo wrote. Aiming to inspire, Dai opens with mention of the Chinese people's desire for freedom and rule of law, and the chance China has to make a fresh start 30 years on the from the "nightmare" of the Cultural Revolution. Tuo's version, on the other hand, says little and even leaves out Dai's references to China's past defeats at the hands of foreign powers. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Wen Jiabao visits Tibetan region hoping to cement legacy (SCMP)
2013-01-02
Premier Wen Jiabao called on monks in Yushu, Qinghai, to stay pure when he paid a visit to the earthquake-devastated Tibetan autonomous prefecture on New Year's Eve.
Wen's third visit to the high-altitude plateau, which was hit by a 7.1-magnitude tremor in 2010 that killed at least 2,700 people, is being seen as another attempt to cement his legacy as a down-to-earth premier before he steps down in March.[...] Wen visited the ancient Damkar monastery, which was severely damaged in the earthquake, and told the clergy he was concerned about laymen and monks in the quake-hit area.[...] "A monastery should be a clean and pure place where clergy abide by religious commandments and build a positive social image," Wen said. Wen first visited the region just one day after it was hit by the earthquake, and followed up with another visit less than a month later.[...] For the past 10 years, Wen has usually been the first top official to arrive at the scene of a disaster. […] "Wen wants to be remembered as a premier who is close to the people," said political observer Zhang Lifan, formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "Wen has not accomplished much through his economic policies and calls for political reform because he is restricted inside the [Communist] Party. Boosting his populist image seems to be the only thing he can do to make himself known." [...]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Mainland tourists lift Hong Kong arrivals numbers (SCMP)
2013-01-01
Tourist arrivals this year far exceeded the Tourism Board's predictions, hitting 46 million by the middle of last month, thanks to a 24 per cent increase in mainland visitors, the board said yesterday. From January to mid-December, the number of visitors rose 16 per cent over the same period last year, board chairman James Tien Pei-chun told a radio programme. In all of 2011, 42 million arrivals were recorded. The 16 per cent increase was almost triple the board's prediction of 5.5 per cent. Its conservative estimate was based on the World Tourism Organisation's grim outlook of growth of between 3 per cent and 4 per cent due to global financial instability. [...] "About half [of the mainlanders] are same-day visitors," he said. "Parallel traders could be included." He made a personal estimate that parallel traders, who made several trips per day, accounted for as many as one million of the mainland arrivals. To combat parallel trading, Tien said he proposed to the government in August that holders of multiple-entry permits should be restricted to one return trip per day between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The suggestion was not accepted, but now mainland authorities were considering similar measures, he said. As for this year, Tien said he expected continued growth from mainland China but not from Europe or the United States. ^ top ^

City's activists get more radical to ensure they are heard (SCMP)
2013-01-03
Fledgling activist groups - both for and against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying - have heated up Hong Kong with more radical ideas and antics of late. On one end of the political spectrum, the "We Are Hongkongers, Not Chinese" group, which positions itself against both Leung and the Communist Party, says it is "not against" the idea of an independent Hong Kong - a controversial topic in recent years amid growing frustration with the government. On the other end, the leader of hardcore pro-Leung group Caring Hong Kong Power declares her desire to join the Communist Party, criticising local Beijing-loyal parties for being "too soft" and indirect. In the New Year's Day march led by the anti-Leung group to the central government's liaison office in Sai Wan, more than 100 supporters watched as someone raised the old Hong Kong flag to the British national anthem. They demanded that mainland officials stop meddling in local affairs. They accused Beijing and its local body of breaking the Basic Law's Article 22, which promises Hong Kong autonomy in local affairs, and vowed to take further action if the interference persists in the next two months. [...]. ^ top ^

Lawmakers say their arrests at New Year's protest were political (SCMP)
2013-01-03
Protesters arrested in Tuesday night's standoff accused police of acting with a political motive, with two lawmakers saying the crowd had already dispersed when they were taken away. League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung said he was alone, and surrounded by hundreds of police, for about half an hour before he was arrested. No warning was given before the arrest was made, he said. People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip said he was walking to the Legislative Council to drop off something at his office when he was approached by police and taken away. He said the stand-off was already over at that time. They were two of nine protesters arrested for violation of public order and unlawful assembly in the stand-off. [...] Tsang and Chan also described the police action as "political arrests". Independent Police Complaints Council secretary general Ricky Chu Man-kin said he believed the traffic was held up on Garden Road and Upper Albert Road because negotiations had broken down between protesters and police, who would not let the crowd gather in front of Government House. He said the council would seek further clarification from police on the matter. He also said the conduct of both police and protesters during the anti-government rally was satisfactory, in terms of distribution of fundraising stalls along the route. ^ top ^

Sick mainland Chinese children find life-saving help in Hong Kong (SCMP)
2013-01-03
Emaciated from the cancer attacking her young body, Yutung weighed just 13.9kg when she was first brought from the mainland to Hong Kong for treatment nine months ago.
Now aged five, Yutung has put on weight and her ruddy cheeks and bouncing energy suggest good health. Only the fake curls covering her head remind a visitor she has been under treatment for cancer at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, since April. It is difficult to comprehend that she is one of the children that have raised many Hongkongers' concerns about the city's health and welfare system being overburdened by young mainland children with the right of abode in the city. Yutung was born across the border to a mainland mother and Hong Kong father. About a third of the childhood cancer patients at the hospital have full Hong Kong residency rights and at least one parent who from the mainland. [...] "We understand each other, even with our different cultural backgrounds," said society member Jacqui Cheung Wai-fun, whose son is undergoing treatment at the centre. "What we have in common is that we love our kids, so we share our knowledge … they [mainland Chinese] are far from home with no one to help them," she said. The number of new childhood cancer cases receiving treatment in Hong Kong has remained steady over the past decade, at around 150 to 160 each year. The number of mainland patients has grown to two dozen or so per year, while new cases from Hong Kong have declined. ^ top ^

Testing urged for carcinogen found in batches of cooking oil (SCMP)
2013-01-03
A Legco panel on Thursday passed a motion urging the government to amend the current law to allow for the monitoring of a cancer-causing chemical recently found in certain batches of oil imported from the mainland. The non-binding motion, by the Legislative Council's food safety and environmental hygiene panel, was put forward by lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing during a meeting at which the panel discussed the production, sale and use of substandard cooking oil. The motion was supported by all lawmakers who attended the meeting. Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said at the meeting that he would ask the Food Safety Centre to regularly test for the chemical, Benzo[a]pyrene. The meeting was held in response to recent media reports about an unlicensed establishment supplying suspected substandard cooking oil to local restaurants. The reports caused widespread public concern over the safety of cooking oil used by local restaurants. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macao's visitor arrivals down 1.8 pct year-on-year in November (Xinhua)
2012-12-28
Macao's visitor arrivals decreased by 1.8 percent year-on-year to 2,374,110 in November 2012, according to figures released on Friday by the city's Statistics and Census Service (DSEC). Of all the arrivals in November, 51.1 percent spent only one day. The average length of stay of visitors stood at 1.0 day, up by 0.1 day year-on-year, with overnight and same-day visitors staying 1.8 days and 0.2 day respectively, the figures indicated. Analyzed by place of residence, visitors from the Chinese mainland increased by 2.9 percent year-on-year to 1,503,158, 63.3 percent of the total, of which 632,640 travelling to Macao under the Individual Visit Scheme. [...] In the first eleven months of 2012, visitor arrivals totalled 25,586,441 but the rate of increase narrowed to 0.5 percent year- on-year, according to the DSEC. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan plans first stage of jets upgrade (SCMP)
2013-01-01
Taiwan plans to complete the first stage of a project to upgrade its fighter jet force by the end of 2013, in an effort to maintain a credible deterrent against the mainland into the 2030s. Some 60 of Taiwan's Indigenous Defence Fighters (IDFs) will be upgraded and ready within 12 months, according to a defence ministry report. The aircraft will be equipped with enhanced radar, avionics and electronic warfare capabilities, along with a locally produced cluster bomb, according to the report. The remainder of its 127-strong fleet of IDFs will be upgraded by 2017, the report said. ^ top ^

Taiwan leader calls for peaceful development with mainland (Xinhua)
2013-01-01
Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou Tuesday called for further promotion of peaceful development across the Taiwan Strait, as well as comprehensively expanding and deepening cross-Strait exchanges. In his New Year's Day speech, Ma said Taiwan will accelerate negotiations on issues concerning the Economic and Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and the mainland. It will also further loosen regulations over the entry of mainland investment, mainland students and mainland individual tourists. Ma added that the Taiwan authority will review and amend regulations on the relations of the peoples across the Strait, abandoning out-dated restrictions and discriminatory provisions. He noted that Taiwan will promote the establishment of offices of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation and the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait in each other's side. [...] The Taiwan leader also vowed to address major challenges in Taiwan's economy through measures including adjusting industrial structure, making Taiwan a free trade island, and reshuffling the research and development system. ^ top ^

Most of Taiwan people support development of cross-Strait ties: poll (Xinhua)
2013-01-01
About 76.4 percent of respondents in Taiwan support the efforts of the island' s authorities in developing exchanges with the Chinese mainland, according to a latest poll published by Taiwan' s mainland affairs organ on Thursday. [...] Earlier in December, Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou pointed out three priorities of Taiwan' s mainland affairs, including expanded and deepened cross-Strait exchanges, establishment of offices of Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) in each other' s side, as well as reviewing and amending Taiwan' s regulation on the relations of the people across the Strait. Founded in 1990 and 1991, respectively, the SEF and the ARATS are the non-governmental organizations authorized by Taiwan and the mainland to engage in talks regarding cross-Strait exchanges. About 67.1 percent of respondents believed Taiwan authorities should open the investment of mainland capitals in the island in a moderate way, while 60.3 percent of respondents said opening up to mainland capitals will be conducive to the balanced development of cross-Strait investment and the economic relations. In the meantime, 64.2 percent of respondents agreed the establishment of offices of SEF and ARATS in each other' s side, and 71 percent of them believed the move will benefit the development of cross-Strait relations. About 72.4 percent of respondents said the review and amendment of relevant regulations concerning exchanges conform to the needs of the people. The poll was based on 1,104 samples from respondents above the age of 20 collected from Dec. 22 to 25. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Wenzhou expects substantial financial reforms (Xinhua)
2013-01-02
A building materials dealer borrowed 260,000 yuan ($41,335) from a lender at a monthly interest rate of 1.2 percent, much lower than the 4 percent in the past. This was done via the Wenzhou Private Lending Registration Service Center in Zhejiang province, an institute founded in April 2012 to regulate the private financing market and promote transparency. Xu Zhiqian, the center's general manager said, "The transparency of the interest rates in the center lowered the monthly rates which stood at 3 to 4 percent in the underground market to 1.2 to 1.3 percent." The center has eight companies which work as "go-betweens" for those in need of borrowing and lending, in addition to other services such as legal support. The State Council, China's cabinet, approved the establishment of a pilot financial reform zone in Wenzhou in March to regulate private financing activities after a crisis broke out in the city in 2011. In Wenzhou, a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises used to resort to underground financing as state-owned banks failed to meet their needs. However, the monthly interest rates, as high as five percent, made some companies unable to return the loans and they went bankrupt due to poor management. Other companies were affected as many of them were loans warrantors for each other. Setting up the lending registration center was one of the steps to solve the financing problems for SMEs. By Monday, Wenzhou had set up four centers with loans registered for lending hitting 1.4 billion yuan, of which 420 million yuan have found borrowers. In addition, four private capital management companies have provided financial support of 423 million yuan for more than 100 projects since the reforms began. "The centers have played a positive role in restoring people's confidence, as the crisis in 2011 made some people unwilling to lend money. The centers serve as new channels for those who want to borrow from others," said Xu. However, many businessmen were unsatisfied with the slow progress of Wenzhou's financial reforms. [...] "No breakthroughs have been made in the establishment of private banks and the drafting of the regulation for a private lending market," said Zhou Dewen, chairman of the Wenzhou SME Development Association. Zhou said the private lending registration center was a remarkable reform step, yet the volume of deals was too small compared with the unofficial lending market with an estimated value of 120 billion yuan in Wenzhou. [...]. ^ top ^

China services growth adds to economic revival hopes (SCMP)
2013-01-03
Growth in China's increasingly important services sector accelerated in December at its fastest pace in four months, adding to signs of a modest year-end revival in the world's second-largest economy. China's official purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the non-manufacturing sector rose to 56.1 in December from 55.6 in November, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Thursday. Two PMIs on the manufacturing sector earlier this week also suggested China's economic growth was picking up late this year, although signs persist it depends primarily on state-led investment. Data so far suggests only a muted revival in economic growth, rather than a return to the double-digit pace seen in China over the past three decades, Hong Kong-based economist Dariusz Kowalczyk said. [...] The greatest driver in the pick up in the non-manufacturing sector in December was a jump in construction services to 61.9 from 61.3 in November. Industries including transport slumped, the NBS said in an accompanying statement. A reading above 50 indicates growth is accelerating, while one below 50 indicates it is slowing. The strength in construction services is consistent with other indicators, including rising land prices, that point to a revival in China's property markets, which support about 40 other industries. Signs of a pick up come despite central government protestations that it will not relax credit and purchasing curbs that have stifled the sector in the past two years. [...] China's fast-growing services industry has so far weathered the global slowdown much better than the factory sector, with the PMI consistently signalling healthy expansion and hitting a 10-month high of 58.0 in March. That's partly due to a maturing economy as well as a historic shift in the last decade leading a majority of Chinese to live and work in cities rather than the countryside. China's services sector generated 43 per cent of China's GDP in 2010 and by last year provided nearly 36 per cent of new jobs, exceeding the agricultural sector for the first time. Beijing has acknowledged that greater consumer activity is needed to reduce the economy's reliance on the exports sector and investment-led growth. [...] Xia pledged to open the services sector to more foreign competition as well as encouraging Chinese service firms to go overseas. Foreign investment into the service sector of US$47.57 billion in the first 11 months of this year surpassed that directed to the manufacturing industry, which slumped by 7.1 per cent, the China Daily said over the weekend, citing Ministry of Commerce data. [...]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

DPRK leader makes new year address (Xinhua)
2013-01-02
The leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has urged his people to build the country into an economic giant. In his New Year address, Kim Jong Un called on the entire Korean nation to strive for reunification. Speaking on state TV, Kim Jong En reviewed achievements of the last year and set tasks for 2013. And he stressed the need for economic development. [...] Kim said priority should be given to developing coal-mining, electric power, the metallurgical industry and rail transport. He called for higher agricultural production and more quality consumer goods. Kim also called for consolidated political and military strength. During the address, Kim said there should be efforts to achieve reunification in the coming year. He said, "An important issue in putting an end to the division of the country and achieving its reunification, is to remove confrontation between the North and the South. The past records of inter-Korean relations show that confrontation between fellow countrymen leads to nothing but war." Kim said the DPRK would expand and develop friendly relations with all countries that respect its sovereignty and would seek to safeguard regional peace and stability. It was the first time in 19 years that such a message has been read by a DPRK leader on television and radio. Since 1994, the DPRK had released New Year messages in the form of a joint editorial by its three main newspapers. [...]. ^ top ^

Google executive Eric Schmidt to visit North Korea (SCMP)
2013-01-03
[...] Eric Schmidt will be travelling to North Korea on a private, humanitarian mission led by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson that could take place as early as this month, sources said on Wednesday. The sources, two people familiar with the group's plans, asked not to be named because the visit had not been made public. The trip would be the first by a top executive from US-based Google, the world's largest internet search provider, to a country considered to have the most restrictive internet policies on the planet. North Korea is in the midst of what leader Kim Jong-un called a modern-day “industrial revolution” in a New Year's Day speech to the nation on Monday. He is pushing science and technology as a path to economic development for the impoverished country, aiming for computers in every school and digitised machinery in every factory. However, giving citizens open access to the internet has not been part of the regime's strategy. While some North Koreans can access a domestic intranet service, very few have clearance to freely surf the World Wide Web. [...] Last year, a group of North Koreans even visited Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. ^ top ^

Vanishing belly bump suggests North Korean leader's wife has given birth (SCMP)
2013-01-04
North Korea's next dynastic succession may have been secured, with television images of leader Kim Jong-un's wife suggesting that Pyongyang's first lady recently gave birth. When state television showed Ri Sol-ju attending a memorial service for her husband's late father, Kim Jong-il, in mid-December, she appeared heavily pregnant with her loose-fit traditional dress barely hiding a swollen belly. But more recent images of her attending an official New Year's party showed her wearing a well-fitted two-piece skirt suit with no physical sign of pregnancy. [...] A South Korean government official said Ri "appeared to have already given birth, based on analysis of the TV images." [...] Ri was described as coming from an ordinary family, with her father an academic and her mother a doctor. She visited South Korea in 2005 as a cheerleader for her country's squad in the Asian Athletics Championships. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia to revise controversial investment law (Xinhua)
2012-12-28
Mongolia's Mining Ministry will revise a controversial investment law to improve the country's investment environment for foreign investors, local media said on Friday. The strategic investment law, adopted by the parliament in May, stipulates that foreign investment in strategic sectors that exceeds 100 billion Mongolian tugriks (over 70 million U.S. dollars) should get approval of the Mongolian government. Mongolian Mining Minister D. Gankhuyag has told local media that the government will revise the law by raising the amount of investment that needs governmental approval. The minister added the 100-billion-tugrik requirement is too strict for foreign investors and his ministry plans to raise this amount by three to four times. It is widely believed that the adoption of the investment law has worsened Mongolia's investment environment by imposing stricter conditions on foreign investment. The law reflected the country's intention to develop its rich mineral resources by itself. [...] Mining, banking and finance, media, information and communications are considered strategic sectors in Mongolia by the law on investment. ^ top ^

Mongolian police seek ways to fight corruption (Xinhua)
2012-12-28
More than 1,600 police officers have gathered here for an anti-corruption conference, discussing ways to build a "clean society." During the conference on Thursday, principals of Mongolian police headquarters and the country's anti-corruption bureau pledged to resolutely punish corruption and take preventive measures. Zandaakhuu Enkhbold, speaker of the Mongolian parliament, has said that the key to the fight was to prevent corruption cases instead of tracing them after they happened. Mongolia has recently established an investigation group as part of its anti-corruption efforts. The group investigates corruption cases and discusses related laws and measures to strengthen anti-corruption work. President Tsakhia Elbegdorj expressed determination earlier this year to fight corruption, which he said would damage Mongolia's national image and business environment. Former President Nambar Enkhbayar was sentenced to two and half years in prison on Dec. 7 in Mongolia's highest-level corruption case to date. ^ top ^

 

Anna Boffo
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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