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

Press review, if not selected: all SinOptic
  16-22.2.13, No. 463  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Bilateral

Chinese vice premier stresses mutual development with Switzerland (Xinhua)
2013-02-18
Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu on Monday met Swiss President Ueli Maurer, Vice President and Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter and Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann. During their talks, Hui stressed both sides should respect each others' way of development, take each others' concerns into consideration, and realize win-win cooperation and mutual development. Hui said China and Switzerland had made fruitful achievements in finance, culture and education, science and technology, tourism, and personnel training. He added the nations have been keeping good communication and coordination in international affairs. China attaches great importance to develop China-Switzerland relations and is willing to complete the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with Switzerland as soon as possible, Hui said. Hui also said both sides should explore potential in agricultural cooperation. China welcomed Swiss agricultural companies to actively participate in China's modern agriculture. The Swiss expressed their willingness to expand cooperation and exchanges with China. Top Swiss officials said Switzerland was willing to make efforts to push for reaching an agreement in FTA talks with China as soon as possible, and would continue to strengthen coordination with China. They also stressed Switzerland's adherence to the one-China policy. During his five-day visit to Switzerland, which started on Feb. 16, Hui visited local agricultural companies and family farms. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China's escort fleet to join exercise in Pakistan (Xinhua)
2013-02-17
The 14th Chinese naval squad heading for Somali waters will take part in a multi-national exercise in Pakistan in March, military sources said Sunday. The "Exercise Aman-13" is scheduled to start in the North Arabian Sea on March 4. Aman is an Urdu word meaning "peace". The fleet, sent by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, departed Saturday from a port in Qingdao of east China's Shandong Province to the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters for escort missions. The 14th convoy fleet comprises three ships -- the missile destroyer Harbin, the frigate Mianyang and the supply ship Weishanhu -- carrying two helicopters and a 730-strong troop, all from the North China Sea Fleet under the PLA Navy. Since December 2008, authorized by the United Nations, the Chinese navy has organized 14 fleets to the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters to escort 5,046 Chinese and foreign ships. More than 50 Chinese and foreign ships have been rescued or assisted during the missions. ^ top ^

Xi pledges continued support for Africa (China Daily)
2013-02-18
China's top political leader Xi Jinping pledged continuing support for Africa's development on Sunday while meeting with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union Commission. "Africa is a continent of hope," said Xi, and Africa's development conforms to the historical trend of the times and helps to safeguard world peace and stability. Xi said China supports the self-determined development of and the solidarity among African countries as well as their pursuit of progressive paths suitable for their own national conditions. "Africa's development creates opportunities for China, as China's development creates opportunities for Africa," Xi said. China has been Africa's largest trading partner since 2009, surpassing the United States and Europe. China-Africa trade reached $160 billion in 2011 and is estimated to surpass $200 billion in 2012, according to the Ministry of Commerce. A report released recently by the Standard Bank of South Africa shows that about 18 percent of Africa's imports were sourced from China in 2012, while China's imports from Africa increased by 26 percent last year. China has exempted tariffs on 60 percent of goods imported from 30 African countries since January 2012 in order to boost trade with the continent. It also encourages enterprises to invest in African countries by raising funds and giving preferential loans. [...] "China and Africa have maintained the good momentum in growth against the backdrop of the slow recovery of world economy and difficulties caused by the euro debt crisis in 2012," said An Chunying, an expert on African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. [...] "No matter how situations change, China will attach importance to ties with Africa, remain a reliable friend and faithful partner of African nations and always regard the AU as a reliable strategic partner," said Xi. [...] Dlamini-Zuma thanked China for supporting Africa's drive for peace and development, saying China is an important strategic partner in Africa's push for modernization and sustainable development. African countries hope to learn from China and expand their cooperation with the country in development planning, agriculture, manufacturing, science and technology, infrastructure and human resources as well as major regional and international issues, she said. The AU is ready to boost cooperation with China to further advance Africa-China relations, said Dlamini-Zuma, who arrived in Beijing on Thursday for the fifth China-AU strategic dialogue. ^ top ^

Xi's first trip abroad likely to be Russia, South Africa (Global Times)
2013-02-18
The destination of Party chief Xi Jinping's first foreign tour after the new Chinese government is established in early March is likely to be Russia, a source told the Global Times, as China's foreign minister Yang Jiechi on Sunday set out for a visit to South Africa and Russia. Xi is scheduled to attend the 5th summit of the leaders from the BRICS nations in South Africa from March 25 to 27. "He will land in Moscow before traveling to South Africa," said the source, who is familiar with the matter. The annual meetings of China's top political advisory group and top legislature will open on March 3 and 5 respectively. [...] Russia's foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said earlier that Yang would arrive in Russia on Wednesday and would meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in preparation for a summit of the two countries' top leaders this year, although he didn't give a detailed timetable. Selecting Russia as the first foreign destination suggests that China-Russia relations remain the priority of China's diplomacy in Xi's era, analysts said. "China still positions itself as a developing country. Therefore, a steady and sound relationship with other developing countries in the world is the cornerstone of China's overall diplomacy," Shen Jiru, a researcher from the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "At the same time, China's economic development potential lies in the cooperation with those emerging countries, such as the BRICS nations, given that the US and Europe are still mired in debt crises," Shen added. [...] But Jin Canrong, deputy dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, said China and Russia could forge a very close partnership, but not an alliance. "An unconfident Russia makes the future of China-Russia relations hard to predict. Russia is worried about an overbearing US at present and an uncertain China in the future," Jin told the Global Times. "China must learn to understand and gradually remove Russia's worries about China during the interactions." Sergey Razov, the Russian ambassador to China, said recently that the China-Russia bilateral relations are not based on common ideology but on common national interests. "Compared with his predecessors, Xi is more likely to highlight practical actions to realize China's national interests in the international arena," Jin said. [...]. ^ top ^

China denies receiving North Korea nuke test plans (Global Times)
2013-02-19
China's foreign ministry Monday denied a report that it had received advance knowledge of North Korea's preparation for fresh nuclear tests and a rocket launch, while appealing for relevant countries not to take actions that may worsen the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Asked to comment on the report by Reuters, Hong Lei, a ministry spokesman, said he "did not know where the Reuters report came from." "The situation on the peninsula is currently sensitive and complicated. We appeal for all relevant parties to remain calm and not to take actions that may worsen the situation," Hong said. [...]. ^ top ^

One-China principle, non-interference prerequisites for China-Vatican ties: FM spokesman (Xinhua)
2013-02-19
China is willing to develop relations with the Vatican if the Vatican severs its diplomatic ties with Taiwan and refrains from interfering in China's internal affairs, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday. Spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing that China has acknowledged reports that Pope Benedict XVI will resign on Feb. 28. Hong said China hopes the Vatican will show flexibility and sincerity in creating conditions for the improvement of China-Vatican ties under the new pope. Hong urged the Vatican to recognize the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government representing China, as well as recognize that Taiwan is part of China. The Vatican must also refrain from interfering in China's internal affairs, particularly the interference in the name of religion, Hong said. [...]. ^ top ^

China rejects Philippines' arbitral request: FM (Xinhua)
2013-02-19
The Chinese government has rejected a Philippine move to take their dispute regarding sovereignty issues in the South China Sea to the United Nations for arbitration, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday. "Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing had an appointment with officials from the Philippines' Foreign Ministry on Tuesday and returned a note and related notice after expressing China's rejection," spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily press briefing. "The note and related notice not only violate the consensus enshrined in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), but are also factually flawed and contain false accusations," Hong said. China is committed to addressing the dispute through bilateral talks, Hong said, noting that the consensus in the DOC states that disputes should be solved through talks between the nations directly involved. Hong reiterated that China has sufficient historical and jurisprudential evidence to support its claim to the Nansha islands, which are located in the South China Sea, and their adjacent waters. "China hopes the Philippines will honor its commitment by not taking any action that could complicate the issue, positively respond to China's proposal to establish a bilateral dialogue mechanism on maritime issues and work to solve the issue through bilateral negotiations," Hong said. ^ top ^

China opposes hacking allegations: FM spokesman (Xinhua)
2013-02-19
A Foreign Ministry spokesman on Tuesday said allegations of Chinese hacker attacks are groundless, reiterating the government's position on fighting cybercrime. Spokesman Hong Lei made the remark at a regular press briefing when asked to comment on a report by U.S. security company Mandiant stating that the company had traced cyber attacks waged against U.S. companies and government agencies to a unit of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Hong said cybercrime is an international problem and should be solved through international cooperation on the basis of mutual trust and respect. "Groundless criticism is irresponsible and unprofessional, and it will not help to solve the problem," he said. China has been a major victim of cyber attacks and opposes all forms of such activity, Hong said, adding that China has made and enforced laws that ban such activity. He cited a report released by China's National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center stating that 73,000 foreign IP addresses had been linked to attacks on 14 million Chinese computers. He pointed out that the number of attacks originating from the United States ranked at the top. Hong said China, Russia and several other countries submitted an international code of conduct on information security to the United Nations in 2011. "China has called on the international community to make a code of conduct for cyberspace on the basis of the submission and make joint efforts to build a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace," he said. Hong said the government also objects to media allegations claiming that hacker attacks have been traced to a building in Shanghai owned by the PLA. Hong said he does not know how such evidence could be discovered, as cyber attacks are often carried out internationally and are typically done so anonymously. ^ top ^

Russia, China vow to further bilateral relations (Xinhua)
2013-02-21
Russian President Vladimir Putin met visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Wednesday, with both sides pledging to further promote bilateral ties. Yang conveyed to Putin kind greetings from Chinese President Hu Jintao and general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Xi Jinping. Putin also asked Yang to convey his best regards to Hu and Xi. Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination maintains good developing momentum, with multilayer bilateral cooperation yielding fruits continuously, Putin said. The two countries keep close contact and coordination within international frameworks such as the BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Group of Twenty (G20) and over major international and regional issues, Putin said. [...] Yang visited Russia at the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. He paid an official visit to South Africa before arriving in Moscow. ^ top ^

US targets China over trade secrets (Global Times)
2013-02-22
Observers have warned that continued US accusations that China is stealing its trade secrets risk a trade war between the two countries, as Washington Wednesday rolled out a plan to deal with the alleged threat to American businesses as well as security from China and other nations. The US strategy includes working with like-minded governments to put pressure on guilty parties, using trade policy tools, increasing criminal prosecutions and launching a 120-day review to see whether new US legislation is needed, Reuters reported. Although the White House report did not cite China by name, it listed 17 cases of theft of trade secrets allegedly committed by Chinese companies or individuals since 2010, far more than any other country mentioned in the report. The cases cited mostly involved employees stealing trade secrets on the job rather than cyber attacks, an accusation which has been made against China's military in recent days. When asked to comment on the White House report, an official at China's foreign ministry told the Global Times Thursday that China's stance on the issue is consistent with comments made the previous day regarding alleged hacking against US firms. The ministry's spokesperson Hong Lei Wednesday denied such allegations, calling them "unprofessional and irresponsible." Zhou Shijian, a senior researcher with the Center for US-China Relations at Tsinghua University, dismissed the report and said the US accusations were "making trouble out of nothing." "Such accusations will damage Sino-US ties and discredit the US government and media in the end," he said, citing the case of Chinese American scientist Wen Ho Lee, who was accused of revealing nuclear warhead technology to China and released in 2000 after federal investigators and the US government were unable to prove the charges. [...] The timing of the release of the White House report shows that US companies, the media and the government have worked seamlessly to sensationalize the so-called China threat, Wu Xinbo, associate dean of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Thursday. [...] "The US administration should get rid of political factors influencing Sino-US trade relations," Zhou noted, adding that hyping Chinese espionage would delay US technology transfers to China. "If the Obama administration continues to make provocative acts concerning the so-called espionage issue, the episode will escalate into a trade war," Zhou said, noting that this would not be in the interests of the US, which seeks to significantly boost its exports. [...]. ^ top ^

FM slams Abe's remarks (Global Times)
2013-02-22
China's foreign ministry has asked Japan to make clarifications over remarks made by its Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in which he accused China of deliberately stirring up anti-Japanese sentiment for domestic support and seeking resources through coercion from neighboring countries. During an interview with the Washington Post ahead of his visit to the US, Abe said China has a "deeply ingrained" need to spar with Japan and other Asian neighbors over territory, as the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) uses the disputes to maintain strong domestic support. Abe also said that China's behavior of "coercion or intimidation" in the East China Sea and the South China Sea is eventually going to have an effect on its economic activity, because it will lead to loss of confidence among the international community, which will result in less investment in China, said the report. "We are shocked at the related reports," foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told reporters after a regular press briefing on Thursday. "It's rare that a country's leader would brazenly distort facts, attack its neighbor and instigate confrontation among countries in the region." Hong said China is committed to developing relations with Japan but will not sit by and watch the country distort China's diplomatic policy or make antagonistic moves regarding territorial issues. China demands an immediate clarification and explanation from Japan on Abe's comments, Hong claimed. Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the remarks by Abe don't make sense and are meant to tarnish China's image, noting that the inflammatory words would not affect China's relations with its Asian neighbors. [...] Liu Jiangyong, a vice dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations under Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that Abe would be seeking a pledge from Obama that the Japan-US Security Treaty applies to the Diaoyu Islands issue, a stance that has been made repeatedly by the Obama administration but not by the president himself. "If Obama does make the pledge, there will be another barrier in China-US relations, and the relations among the three powers will be led by Japan," warned Liu. Gao Zugui, a researcher with the Institute for International Strategic Studies at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said that considering the US' current strategy in the Asia-Pacific region and the importance of its relations with China, Obama's response will not go beyond that made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who stressed that Washington will not take sides on this territorial spat." Even if the president acknowledges that the treaty applies to the disputed islands, there'll be no major changes," said Gao, but he noted that Japan is sure to take advantage of it for a propaganda campaign over its disputes with China. [...]. ^ top ^

Xi's visit to boost Sino-Russian ties (China Daily)
2013-02-22
The upcoming visit to Russia by China's top leader will inject a new impetus into the two countries' relationship, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday. Putin said Xi Jinping's visit will be "a major event" in bilateral ties and expects it to yield substantial achievements. Analysts said Yang's visit to Russia is paving the way for Xi's visit, which will promote the China-Russia relationship. No date of the visit was mentioned. Yang said the China-Russia relationship has entered a new stage, thanks to joint efforts made by leaders of the two countries. The two strategic partners have become each other's opportunity for development, he said. China is willing to work with Russia in facilitating major multilateral events within the frameworks of the BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and G-20 summits so as to deliver a message of solidarity, cooperation and win-win ends, Yang said. According to Yang, strengthening China-Russia cooperation will not only benefit the two peoples, but also enhance world peace and development in general. [...] "Russia-China relations have a huge impact on world peace and development. Russia is willing to make joint efforts with China in further promoting bilateral relations to a new level," Putin said. Feng Yujun, director of the Institute of Russian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the visit will mark another important moment in the bilateral relationship. "The two countries' cooperation was further enhanced after the world financial crisis. Their political mutual trust has been strengthened, too," Feng said. During the visit, a number of cooperation agreements are expected to be signed, and breakthroughs are likely to be made in sectors including innovation and high-tech, Feng said. The two leaders are also expected to exchange views on world and regional issues, Feng said. "China and Russia's enhanced coordination is very significant for maintaining regional stability and world peace, especially during a time when the world order is restructuring." [...] China and Russia view each other as a priority in their foreign policy. [...] China was one of Putin's first state visits abroad after returning to the Kremlin for a third term as Russian president last year. The two sides are also expected to promote their cooperation in building up oil pipelines and joint oil refinery plants, Larin said. [...] In 2012, China-Russia trade reached $88.16 billion, a year-on-year increase of 11.2 percent, according to China Customs. The two neighbors aim to achieve $100 billion in bilateral trade by 2015 and $200 billion by 2020. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Trust among Chinese 'drops to record low' (China Daily)
2013-02-18
Trust among people in China dipped to a record low with less than half of respondents to a recent survey feeling that "most people can be trusted" while only about 30 percent trusted strangers. The Blue Book of Social Mentality, the latest annual report on the social mentality of China, analyzed respondents' trust toward different people and organizations and drew a conclusion that trust in society is poor. The trust level was 59.7 points out of a full mark of 100 points. In 2010, the trust level was 62.9 points. [...] The latest poll also found that in China, family members are viewed as the most trustworthy, followed by close friends and acquaintances. It showed that around 30 percent of the people polled trusted strangers on the street and about 24 percent trusted strangers online. [...] Shi Aijun, director of the residential committee at Yulindongli community in Beijing's Fengtai district, said mistrust among people leads to some challenges in her work. "It's difficult to persuade people to open their door for the census and answer surveys that require them to give personal information," she said. "However, I think this phenomenon is very normal in cities as people live in a so-called stranger society and when you explain yourself clearly, most people will trust you and cooperate." When respondents were asked to name institutions that they generally trust, about 69 percent said government, 64 percent public media, 57.5 percent non-governmental organizations, but only about 52 trusted commercial organizations. The study also found that mistrust among different social groups, particularly between government officials and ordinary citizens as well as doctors and patients, has grown. An official from Daqing, Heilongjiang province, who spoke to China Daily on condition of anonymity, said forced demolition in China's urbanization is one of the social issues that has resulted in tension between governmental officials and ordinary people. "In terms of demolition, some residents assumed that parts of their compensation have been embezzled by local officials, so they resort to petition to seek higher subsidies, while some local officials treat them as troublemakers and do everything possible to stop them," he said. "Then mistrust grows stronger." [...]. ^ top ^

Former Google China chief banned from microblogging sites (SCMP)
2013-02-18
Former Google China president Kai-Fu Lee says he was temporarily banned from posting items on two of the mainland's most popular microblogging platforms. Without saying why he was banned, Lee posted a message on Twitter on Sunday saying: "I am silenced on Sina and Tencent [microblogs] for three days, so everyone can find me here. I am silenced on Sina and Tencent [microblogs] for three days, so everyone can find me here." Some mainland internet users wondered whether the ban was linked to recent remarks by Lee about a state media-affiliated search engine company and its chief executive, former Olympic table tennis champion Deng Yaping. Deng's performance as chief executive of Jike Search was criticised in an article circulated in a tech forum over the weekend. Jike is a subsidiary of the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily. The article was later removed from the online forum but by then had spread further. Lee asked four questions about the article on his microblog on Sunday. "I won't comment on this gossip article but may I ask, why use taxpayers' money to fund a search business? Can it be possible to do search engine business without a belief in free information flow? Why was the head of a search engine company appointed by the party? And could Google beat Yahoo to be the world's largest search engine if the US Democratic Party appointed Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps to be the CEO of Google?" [...]. ^ top ^

Outcry at ban on property searches in mainland cities (SCMP)
2013-02-19
Restrictions on property registry searches introduced by several mainland cities following a spate of online exposés of corrupt officials have sparked a public outcry, with the authorities accused of covering up corruption in the name of protecting privacy. Political scientists argued that such bans, in the absence of a mechanism requiring the public declaration of officials' assets, were an obstacle to efforts to stamp out corruption. Zhangzhou in Fujian announced on Saturday that it had introduced a "temporary regulation on inquiries into property ownership registration information" which banned the use of a property owner's name as a search keyword unless the inquiry was made by the property owner, police, courts or prosecutors, caixin.com reported. [...] Corrupt officials often purchase property to hide illegal income, and political commentators said such regulations would be a blow to anti-graft efforts, especially those initiated by unofficial parties. [...] Professor Pu Xingzu, of Fudan University's school of international affairs and public relations [...] said the regulations also backpedalled on Communist Party leader Xi Jinping's pledge to clean up the party and step up the fight against graft. [...]. ^ top ^

Xi's focus on continuity in China's provinces (SCMP)
2013-02-19
The 31 administrative regions of mainland China have now concluded their people's congress meetings to install local leaderships. This completed another major step in the power transition in China following last November's Communist Party congress. The next big step will be the National People's Congress next month, when the new State Council will be formed. Before and immediately after the party congress, leaked information pointed to a reshuffle of leaders in quite a few provinces, while it was rumoured that others would be headed by officials transferred from the central government. [...] Of course, inter-provincial transfers - occurring quite often under Li Yuanchao, the former head of the organisation department - have their merits. Moving cadres seasoned in managing the developed coastal economy to inland provinces, for example, has brought a supply of knowledge, ideas and socio- economic links to less developed areas. But moving cadres around too frequently damages policy and personnel continuity, and reduces cadres' commitment to the region they serve. Keeping cadres longer in their provinces also lowers the chances that central department officials may form unhealthy ties with local leaders. If a provincial leader senses that his career prospects rely heavily on the whims of a central department, he would certainly be keen to cultivate a patron in Beijing. Severing such prospects enables a provincial official to integrate himself more deeply into his work and the community he serves. [...]. ^ top ^

China plans pay-after medical payment system (Xinhua)
2013-02-19
Patients will be able to "pay after" they receive medical treatment as part of a new payment method, China's Ministry of Health revealed Tuesday. According to Jiao Yahui, an official with the MOH medical administration division, more than 20 provincial regions are carrying out pilot programs for this method in local hospitals. In response to media reports that said the new payment system will be implemented across the country this year, Jiao said the ministry never gave such an "order." She said a "pay after" method will not be adopted nationwide in the short term due to an immature social credit system and insufficient medical insurance. But the MOH advocates local governments to conduct pilot programs for this method if possible, she added. Currently, Chinese citizens must pay first before receiving an operation or treatment. Patients must pay their bills and then apply for a reimbursement covered by medical insurance, usually more than 70 percent of the total treatment fees. [...] Once the new system is implemented, patients, especially those suffering extreme conditions, will receive treatment first. After the treatment, patients will only pay the part that is not included in the medical insurance. The rest will be paid to hospitals by the government. The "pay after" method was first tested in a hospital in Beijing in 2009 and was well received by patients, according to Jiao. Pilot programs are generally going smoothly in many areas, but there are still some patients "disappearing" without paying treatment fees after leaving hospital, which has created risks for the hospitals. If a runaway patient is covered by the country's medical insurance, hospitals can get compensation from the government, but if they did not buy any medical insurance, the hospital will not be able to get the money back, said Jiao. The system can only be promoted step by step. If local governments think it is feasible, then do it, Jiao added. ^ top ^

Divorce rate rises for seven straight years in China (People's Daily)
2013-02-19
People just need identity cards and household registration documents to get married in China, but it is hard to maintain a happy marriage. China has long advocated harmonious relations among family members, but is now experiencing waves of divorce. More than 1.2 million Chinese couples tied the knot in 2009, but nearly 2 million Chinese couples divorced in the same year. What factors have affected the Chinese people's marital happiness? Are they emotions, money, or children? In order to find answers, the "Well-being Magazine" and Tsinghua Media Survey Lab conducted a nationwide survey on the Chinese people's marital happiness in 2012. According to the survey, the top 10 factors influencing marital happiness, listed in descending order of votes received, are love between spouses, willingness and ability to communicate and understand, loyalty, children, income, shizzle life, relations between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, one's relationship with the family members of his/her spouse, and housing conditions and housework allocation. [...] Infidelity is the number one killer of marriages. Only nearly 58 percent of respondents are sure that they will not cheat on their spouses even if they meet people they like. More than 50 percent of respondents talk with their spouses for less than an hour every day. Chinese couples tend to talk sweet with each other when they are just married. As time passes by, love gradually turns into a family bond, and they forget about romance. The longer they are married, the less they understand each other. 70 percent of married women believe that children are the most important factor contributing to a happy marriage, and nearly 46 percent of respondents want to have a second child. [...]. ^ top ^

Human rights lawyer banned from mainland microblogging sites (SCMP)
2013-02-20
Leading human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang has been banned from all microblogging platforms on the mainland after he used them to publicly criticise recently-retired security tsar Zhou Yongkang. Pu's accounts on three major microblogging sites - Sina, Tencent and Sohu - were suspended on February 8, two days after he posted accusations of human rights violations against Zhou, who oversaw internal security for the past decade. In his posts, which were widely commented on and reposted, Pu said Zhou had "wrecked a country, ruined the people". The posts were soon deleted. Pu said he opened two other microblogging accounts on Sina Weibo, the mainland's most popular microblogging site, on February 9 but both were deleted four days later. He tried again, opening another Sina Weibo account on February 14, but it lasted just four hours before being deleted by internet censors. Pu's name is still searchable on the microblogging sites. Pu, who took part in the 1989 pro-democracy protests as a student and is now a prominent rights lawyer based in Beijing, has been involved in a number of high-profile free-speech cases. In its first issue this year, Nanfang People magazine, a sister to the outspoken Southern Weekly, published a cover story about Pu and his fight for freedom of speech on the mainland. [...] Pu said the suspension of his microblogs might have been due to his criticism of Zhou. In his post, Pu said too many human tragedies had been directly attributed to Zhou's policies and his stability-maintenance apparatus. "Stability maintenance is the worst evil for instability in China," he wrote. Pu has received a wave of public support, with many people reposting remarks by Communist Party chief Xi Jinping - originally directed to officially sanctioned non-communist groups - that the party should be able to put up with sharp criticism. "Practise what you preach," one Sina Weibo microblogger commented. "Actions speak louder than words.". ^ top ^

HIV carriers still suffer job discrimination despite historic legal win (Global Times)
2013-02-20
All Xiao Qi (a pseudonym) ever wanted to do was become a teacher. But that dream was suddenly shattered when his application was turned down by the local education bureau Jinxian county, East China's Jiangxi Province late last year after a pre-employment physical examination found him to be HIV-positive. "It was my dream to become a school teacher. Now all of a sudden, they slam the door in my face. I had to take legal action to make my own voice heard: AIDS patients have the legal right to equal job opportunities," Xiao, who had spent a great deal of time and energy in applying for the post, told the Global Times. Eventually, he received 45,000 yuan ($7,213) in compensation from the local education bureau after mediation by the court. It was the first case of an AIDS patient receiving compensation after suffering job discrimination on account of his condition. "The case is significant. In the past, no AIDS patients won their cases or got compensation for employment discrimination. Xiao Qi's case is the first of its kind," Cheng Yuan, director of the Nanjing-based Tianxiagong (meaning "justice for all"), an NGO dedicated to eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, told the Global Times. [...]. ^ top ^

China army re-fry leftovers amid anti-waste campaign (Xinhua)
2013-02-20
China's anti-waste campaign keeps simmering in the military, as new measures have asked soldiers to feed on their leftovers and keep away from fancy food during official banquets. The "ten new measures" meted out this week by the General Logistics Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, instruct personnel to develop civilized and frugal diet habits, and make better use of leftovers and food materials. Unfinished rice and other dishes should be re-cooked into fried rice with eggs and fried steamed bread, and leftover parts of vegetables be made into various pickles and appetizers, according to the measures. They ask military kitchens to work out a healthy, standard food menu, and make the best of every ingredient. The new regulations also force hotels run by the army to cancel minimum-spend requirements and ban board expenses being appropriated for official receptions. No luxury dishes are to be ordered in such receptions. The movement echoes Chinese leader Xi Jinping's repeated call for practising thrifty lifestyles and fighting extravagance. The army has huge saving potential and is a key fort to implement China's current anti-extravagance spirit, according to a General Logistics Department statement. [...] In 2012, the country's national defense budget rose to more than 106 billion U.S. dollars, an 11.2 percent increase year on year. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping's campaign to purge Communist Party 'won't be easy' (SCMP)
2013-02-21
A leading communist academic on the mainland has warned that plans to downsize the Communist Party, with more than 82 million members the world's biggest political party, would not be easy to implement. The party has said it plans to expel "unqualified party members" in an effort to boost its vitality and reputation. But analysts say there is a danger it could be turned into a political campaign and used to get rid of opponents. The campaign stems from comments by party chief Xi Jinping last month at a Politburo meeting about cultivating new party members. He vowed to control the size of the party and purge "unqualified members" in a timely manner. Li Junru, a former vice-president of the Central Party School and a mastermind of the scheme, said downsizing had been proposed by former school president Zeng Qinghong when he was in charge of party affairs five years ago. [...] We found that some applicants for party membership were not pure and even had their own, different political aims. When I was vice-president [of the party school] about five years ago, we once planned to cut 10 million of the party's membership of 70 million, but we found it was not an easy job," Li said. [...] "If party branch leaders had the right, we were afraid it might become a means for some leaders to kick out comrades who had different opinions. And if the public had the right, some aggressive members who dared to offend people when promoting policies might be thrown out." [...]. ^ top ^

Smog in Pearl River Delta 'worse than in Beijing' (SCMP)
2013-02-21
Pollutants in the Pearl River Delta are more dangerous than those choking the capital because they contain higher levels of hazardous nitrogenous organic compounds, an expert said yesterday. Wu Dui, an expert in dust haze and researcher at the China Academy of Meteorological Sciences, said health-threatening PM2.5 particles in the delta region contained more nitrogenous organic compounds than in central and eastern parts of China and the Yangtze River Delta. The volatile organic compounds were mainly emitted during the manufacture of shoes and cosmetics and were the main components of photochemical smog. Wu said the problem was identified a decade ago but had been given scant attention.[...] Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine established a clear link between exposure to PM2.5 pollutants and early death after following 154,000 patients in England and Wales who had been taken to hospital with heart attacks between 2004 and 2007. [...] They followed the patients for more than three years after their release from hospital. Nearly 40,000 died in that period. If PM2.5 levels had been reduced to their natural background rate, they calculated the number of deaths would have fallen by 4,873, or 12 per cent.[...] Anthony Hedley, honorary clinical professor of community medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said the association between air pollution and heart disease had long been established, but the new study quantified the relationship and strengthened knowledge in the area.In the region where the study was conducted, pollution levels were a quarter to a third of that in Hong Kong, yet they were proven to be causing deaths from heart diseases. "In Hong Kong, we are being disastrously poisoned on a daily basis," Hedley said. ^ top ^

Bo Xilai has been on hunger strike in protest over arrest (SCMP)
2013-02-22
Disgraced former senior leader Bo Xilai is refusing to co-operate with a government investigation and has staged hunger strikes in protest, at one point being treated in hospital, sources said. Almost a year after Bo's fall from grace under a cloud of lurid accusations about corruption, abuse of power and murder, the government has given no definitive time frame for when the former party chief of Chongqing will face court and has not even announced formal charges. Two independent sources with ties to the family said Bo's trial was likely to be delayed until after an annual full session of parliament and its top advisory body next month because he was not physically fit. "He was on hunger strike twice and force fed," one source said. It was unclear how long the hunger strike lasted. "He was not tortured, but fell ill and was taken to a hospital in Beijing for treatment," the source said, declining to provide details of Bo's condition and whereabouts, which have been kept under wraps since his downfall. A second source confirmed that Bo had been on a hunger strike and also said he had refused to shave to protest against what he saw as his unfair treatment. "His beard is long, chest-length," the source said. "He refused to co-operate. He wouldn't answer questions and slammed his fist on a table and told them they were not qualified to question him and to go away." His family could not be reached. The government declined to comment, as did one of his lawyers, Li Guifang. His second lawyer, Wang Zhaofeng, was unreachable. [...] The recent lack of information about the case - Bo has not been seen in public since last March - harmed the government's credibility in the eyes of the people, said Bao Tong, the most senior official jailed over the 1989 Tiananmen protests. "It's not normal, too much time has passed," Bao said, referring to the lack of information about the case. ^ top ^

Beijing unveils blueprint to control health risks of toxic chemicals (SCMP)
2013-02-22
The central government has unveiled its first blueprint to control the environmental and health risks of toxic chemicals, and for the first time officially acknowledged the existence of "cancer clusters" due to such pollution. The blueprint, covering the period from 2011 to 2015 and posted on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, admits that excessive levels of chemical pollutants are already found in the country's major rivers and lakes, and even in animal and human bodies. "In recent years, toxic and hazardous chemical pollution has caused many environmental disasters, cutting off drinking water supplies, and even leading to severe health and social problems such as 'cancer villages'," the blueprint said. Between 2008 and 2011, more than a half of the 568 environmental emergencies dealt with by the ministry were related to chemicals, official statistics show. Calling the blueprint "a significant first step", Liu Jianguo, an associate professor at Peking University, said chemical pollution on the mainland had become "the most severe problem" and one that government could no longer ignore. Mainland officials were previously reluctant to link pollution levels with rising cancer rates in industrial areas. Some chemical pollutants can travel long distances and accumulate in the environment and human bodies, disturbing endocrine and immune systems and even causing cancer. However, the production and use of such chemicals on the mainland has become so widespread due to rapid and chaotic industrial expansion over the past three decades that the government has yet to come to terms with the risks. A 2010 survey of more than 40,000 plants in the petrochemical, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, conducted by the ministry, found 40 per cent posed a severe threat to public health, the blueprint said. [...] The blueprint aims to establish a sound information system on chemical production and use by 2015 and start to register all enterprises involved in producing, using, transporting and discharging hazardous chemical pollutants, following international practice. It also lists 58 types of chemicals that will be under specific control, including those that could damage human health or cause environmental accidents. Wu Yixiu, a Beijing-based Greenpeace campaigner, said it was the first time the authorities had proposed monitoring the environmental impact of chemicals. However, experts are not optimistic about the impact of the blueprint because the production of some chemicals that were banned or restricted in developed countries was still rising on the mainland, with manufacturing having moved to China. Wu said the blueprint still failed to set out a timetable to phase out some highly toxic chemicals, and that would send a stronger signal to producers and users than merely putting them on a watch list. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

'Poisonous chemicals' found in Jan smog (Global Times)
2013-02-18
A new wave of smog descended on North China's Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province on Sunday, while the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced that large amounts of poisonous chemicals were found in last month's heavy smog that choked the region. The elements found in the prolonged smog that hit many cities in northern China in January are a combination of that of London's Great Smog in 1952, which was generated mostly by the use of coal and killed approximately 12,000 people, and the Los Angeles photochemical smog in the past century and dust aerosol, an endemic pollutant in China, according to a report published by the academy on Saturday. Large amounts of nitrogen-containing organic compounds, a main element in the photochemical smog produced by the reaction between sunlight and exhaust from vehicles and industrial fumes, were found in the academy's research. Photochemical smog can lead to heart and lung illness, eye irritation and respiratory problems. The report came amid alarm over a new wave of smog that hit Beijing, Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei and Henan early on Sunday, disrupting highway traffic and flights. The air quality index showed extreme pollution in five monitoring sites at 8 am in Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of Hebei. Moderate or serious air pollution was reported in many parts of Beijing, with a visibility of no more than 500 meters in the early morning, said the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center. The CAS research found that the main contributing factors to the smog are a lack of wind, abundant water vapor, floating dust and pollutant emissions. According to the report, vehicle exhaust made up a quarter of the source of hazardous particles measuring 2.5 microns in Beijing last month, while coal consumption and pollutants blown in from outside Beijing each contributed 20 percent. Lü Daren, an academician at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics under the CAS, told the Global Times that the major cause was human activities that discharge pollutants. [...] For the entire Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei area, industrial production and coal consumption should be strictly controlled to reduce the discharge of sulfur and dust. Diesel emissions should also be strictly limited, the CAS report suggested.. ^ top ^

Beijingers respond to planned BBQ bans with a scoff and a cough (SCMP)
2013-02-22
Government proposals to reduce air pollution, in part by banning barbecues and encouraging people to eat less fried food, have sparked an online backlash, with environmental activists and the general public calling the suggestions "empty talk". "Does anyone believe the smog will be easily controlled after a barbecue ban?" one internet user commended. "We are not fools like some leaders." "What is [the Ministry of Environmental Protection] going to consider next?" another user asked. "Will they ban cooking, too? My family still uses a wood-burning stove." Other online comments suggested that the ministry was targeting average citizens because it could not come up with pollution-reduction measures that were acceptable to the industries most responsible for pollution. The draft proposals, submitted by the ministry earlier this month for public feedback, highlight outdoor barbecues, cooking oil fumes and incense burning among the key pollutants that should be addressed to help reduce suffocating smog, as skies across large portions of the country have remained hazy for much of last month. If the measures are enacted, barbecues will be banned in densely populated cities, while the onus will fall on restaurants and households to decrease kitchen fumes by serving different meals and improving the way they are prepared. Lighting fireworks, incense and even candles at temples during traditional festivals will be frowned upon. "Everyone in our community has a responsibility to make an effort in the environmental protection campaign, as we [the people] are not only the beneficiaries of environmental protection, but also the pollution makers," an official from the ministry was quoted by Xinhua as saying, adding that authorities hoped the proposals would sway wealthy citizens to reduce waste and curb ostentatious lifestyles. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Govt denies rumor accusing official of owning large villa (China Daily)
2013-02-18
An online rumor that accused Lu Ming, deputy head of Shanghai's Pudong district, of owning a 2,000-square-meter villa in the city's Chongming county was denied by the local government on Sunday. "It's a two-story house built on a lot of 110 square meters," said Bao Chun, head of Fukang village in Chongming's Xianghua town, where the property is located. The house was legally approved by the local government, and Lu went through the complete procedures when it was built in 2008, he added. The Shanghai Office of Correcting Illegitimate Practices of All Trades said it was looking into the online report and its initial investigation showed Lu's two-story villa has a total floor area of 246.88 sq m, with auxiliary single-story buildings covering a floor area of 63.04 sq m. The online rumor, which spread widely on micro blog platform Sina Weibo, said the local planning and land authority had turned a blind eye to local residents' requests to disclose land construction procedures. "Lu no longer holds the rural hukou (household registration). Only those with rural hukou are allocated with land for building houses. How come Lu with an urban hukou can build the house?" a local villager surnamed Jin asked, adding the enclosing walls for the house were only removed after the house was shown online, before that nobody knew could tell how big the villa was from outside. "It's some privilege (to build such grand villa) that you couldn't buy even if you were rich," said Jin, explaining that the local policy of building houses in the countryside limits the land used for building houses to 90 sq m for a family of three and 100 sq m for a family of five. Bao, the village head, however, said Lu's parents have rural hukou, which permitted the building of the house, and the housing procedures for the villa were completed before the policy was adopted in July 2007. [...]. ^ top ^

Toxic dye found in Shanghai school uniforms (Xinhua)
2013-02-18
Students in 21 primary and middle schools in east China's Shanghai were ordered to stop wearing their uniforms on Monday after a toxic dye was found in the products of a local garment firm. In a recent quality inspection campaign, aromatic amine dye, which can cause cancer, was detected in one batch of student uniforms produced in July 2012 by the Shanghai Ouxia garment company, said the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangdong party launches scheme to eject 'unqualified' members (SCMP)
2013-02-20
Guangdong's Communist Party committee has launched a pilot programme to eject "unqualified" party members. It says the drive is in line with a recent Politburo decision to control the size of the world's biggest political organisation. Under the scheme, local party committees will be allowed to set different qualification criteria, with the provincial party organisation department having the final say on approving assessment rules and regulations. Political analysts warned that local leaders could use different membership criteria as a tool to squeeze out political opponents or minority voices. The party had more than 82 million members by the end of 2011, exceeding the population of Germany, the biggest country in the European Union. The Beijing Youth Daily said yesterday that Guangdong's party committee had set up eight experimental units in townships and counties in Shenzhen, Dongguan, Qingyuan and other cities since July, with some local committees including "illegal petitioning" among their criteria for expelling members deemed "unqualified". In other places, members could be expelled for a "lack of revolutionary will" and "failing to perform party members' obligations", the daily reported. [...] Professor Yuan Weishi, a political commentator at Guangzhou's Sun Yat-sen University, said he doubted such pilot schemes for disqualifying members could help boost the Communist Party's reputation. "What's the definition of illegal petition? The party constitution doesn't say members should not take part in petitions," he said. "And how could you define whether a member lacks revolutionary will?" In Dongguan's Liaobu town, qualified members should achieve at least 60 marks out of 100 on regular appraisals, the Beijing Youth Daily said. Unqualified members would be expelled if they failed to improve within a defined time. [...] Professor Ding Li, director of the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences' regional competition centre, said the lack of a unified qualification standard would stir controversy and upset members under assessment. "Our experiences over more than six decades have told us that every time a new political system was introduced, a lot of honest members who spoke the truth and offended local officials suffered and were even kicked out for no reason," Ding said. [...]. ^ top ^

S China mega-city to push forward officials' asset disclosure (Xinhua)
2013-02-21
Guangzhou will push forward a trial program for government officials' asset declaration and disclosure in the second half of March, an anti-graft official said Wednesday. Government officials in the south China mega-city's Nansha District will be required to declare not only their housing properties and automobiles, but also information regarding their overseas travels and the employment status of their spouses and sons and daughters, Mei Heqing, spokesman for the standing committee of the Guangzhou City Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC), told a press conference. "Asset disclosure is only a step in fighting corruption. It is not a cure-all," Mei said. "The fight against corruption also requires systematic measures such as information-sharing and credibility mechanisms," he added. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Rise in reports of dirty money causes alarm (SCMP)
2013-02-17
Hong Kong's efforts to tackle money laundering are under increasing strain due to a surge in the number of suspicious transactions being reported and concerns over a brain drain of investigators to the private sector. The increase was revealed as the new leaders in Beijing try to make good on their anti-corruption pledges and international banks and financial institutions attempt to restore public faith after a string of dirty-money scandals. Last year, the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit (JFIU) - a specialist police and customs anti-money-laundering group - received 23,282 reports of suspected illicit movements of cash from banks, accountancy firms, real estate companies and others. The figure is almost double the 11,678 in 2003. There was a noticeable acceleration after the 2009 global financial meltdown (see accompanying table). The rise looks set to continue after a new law against money laundering and terrorist financing was passed in April last year requiring banks to be even more vigilant. Several informed sources have told the Sunday Morning Post that the police force is struggling to retain expertise as officers switch to higher-paying jobs in the private sector, where their skills are in growing demand. A police spokesman insisted the force had "robust human resources and leadership development plans... to maintain continuity, consistency and operational efficiency". However, an ex-police officer now working in the private sector said most of the big banks, financial institutions and regulatory bodies like the Hong Kong Monetary Authority were "stuffed full" of ex-law enforcers. The most popular targets for private sector head hunters are the police commercial crime bureau, narcotics bureau, criminal intelligence unit - and the JFIU itself. [...] "If you look around fraud and money laundering compliance units at many banks and other financial institutions in Hong Kong you'll find a large number of former police officers." Jerry Chang, managing director of headhunter Barons & Co, agreed. "Since the financial crisis and collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, we have seen an increasing trend that banks and big companies want to recruit from the police," Chang said. "These firms are willing to provide a HK$1 million to HK$2 million a year salary plus bonus package for an experienced ex-police officer to strengthen their internal control and compliance systems." Hang Seng Bank is among the local lenders to employ former police officers. A spokesman said: "We have a rigorous anti-money-laundering programme to ensure we follow local legislation and international best practice. "Our anti-money-laundering team comprises professionals with audit, legal, regulatory and law enforcement backgrounds to help the bank comply with the highest standards." [...]. ^ top ^

Individual visit scheme to Hong Kong 'shouldn't be expanded', says tourism chief (SCMP)
2013-02-18
No more mainland cities should be added to the individual visit scheme until Hong Kong has the infrastructure to cope with them, the tourism chief and a former Legislative Council president said yesterday. Tourism Board chairman James Tien Pei-chun and Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, made the remarks separately yesterday in response to the latest incidents involving mainland tourists over the Lunar New Year holiday. The scheme, begun in 2003, now allows 270 million residents of 49 mainland cities to visit Hong Kong in an individual capacity rather than in tour groups. "Hong Kong should be given the time to improve our facilities. That would ensure tourists have an enjoyable stay, with fewer unhappy incidents," Fan said at a spring reception for the Heung Yee Kuk. [...] Some 2.3 million travellers entered the city between February 9 and Thursday, of whom nearly 750,000 were from the mainland, immigration records show. Tien said overall visitor numbers were up 21 per cent year on year, and mainland visitor numbers grew 27 per cent. [...]. ^ top ^

Calls for government to limit size of fiscal reserve (SCMP)
2013-02-19
As the city's fiscal reserve hits a record HK$709 billion, experts and lawmakers are urging the government to set a limit to how big the public coffers should be. A pan-democratic lawmaker has asked Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah to limit the reserve to 20 months of government expenditure, while two local think tanks say clear guidelines should be drawn so that surpluses can be better used. The administration on January 31 announced that its fiscal reserve had reached HK$709.1 billion by the end of last year - up from HK$669 billion in the previous financial year - partly due to a considerable increase in stamp duty and land sales revenue. The amount is expected rise further by the end of the current financial year next month. The government's fiscal reserve comprises eight funds, covering innovation and technology, disaster relief, land, loan, lotteries, capital works, capital investment and civil service pension. [...] Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said [...] "The fiscal reserve is now equivalent to 24, 25 months of the government's expenditure, that's a waste of resources," he said. "It shows that the government is under-spending, and I can't see any other government in the world with this kind of luxury." [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing acknowledges friction between HK residents and mainlanders (SCMP)
2013-02-22
In a rare admission, a top Beijing representative has acknowledged the friction between Hong Kong residents and mainlanders. But Zhang Xiaoming, who took over as head of the central government's liaison office in December, said there were only occasional conflicts and they did not reflect the developing relationship between the two sides. Zhang also said there was no problem that was too big to solve if people in Hong Kong and on the mainland stayed rational and friendly towards each other. Issues such as parallel-goods trading, mainlanders giving birth in Hong Kong and the recent poor treatment of tourists from across the border have strained relations on both sides. Zhang was speaking at the liaison office's spring reception last night. He also acknowledged Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's work for the second time in three days. "The new government under Leung has made livelihood issues a policy priority, and … won extensive recognition among the people. Just like [the people of Hong Kong], I have great expectations about Hong Kong's development." On Tuesday, Zhang said Leung's government was more popular with the public than the picture painted in certain sections of the media. [...] He also emphasised that in implementing the "one country, two systems" principle, it was crucial to "seek the common ground of the 'one country', while preserving differences between the 'two systems'." Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, who attended the reception, said Zhang had played down the level of conflict. "I think it is quite well-permeated among the local people … and Hongkongers believe it is not a small issue," Tong said. He suggested the local and central government needed to work better together to solve such problems. [...] Political commentator Ching Cheong, a veteran China watcher, said Macau's handover had been more successful than that of Hong Kong in the eyes of Beijing. "When the central government praises Macau, it is mirroring its dissatisfaction towards Hong Kong," he said. "The fact is Macau has much less dissent against the central government. At the same time, Macau also relies very much on Beijing's help to run the government." Macau Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on said mainland support was the city's "strongest shield". He pledged to boost collaboration with the mainland and safeguard and foster the executive-led political system. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Praise for Macau's economic and social strides (SCMP)
2013-02-21
National legislature chief Wu Bangguo praised the economic and social achievements of Macau during his first official visit to the city yesterday. Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, will today officiate at a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law in Macau. He told a reception last night that Macau has, since the 1999 handover, "made huge development accomplishments, the economy has sustainable growth, people's livelihoods have significant improvements and society is accommodating and harmonious". [...] Wu said he would like to learn more about Macau's development, history and culture during his three-day visit. Wu, along with other top officials, will attend a ceremony commemorating the Basic Law this morning, before visiting the Macau Chamber of Commerce. The Basic Law in Macau was promulgated on March 31, 1993, and took effect on December 20, 1999, when the city was handed over to mainland China. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Ma Ying-jeou says to expand cross-Strait exchange (Xinhua)
2013-02-19
Taiwan's leader Ma Ying-jeou on Monday pledged to further expand and deepen economic ties with the Chinese mainland. Ma made the remarks while addressing representatives of Taiwanese business people investing in the mainland at a gathering held to mark the Chinese Lunar New Year. Ma shared his observations on the dramatic changes that have taken place in the environment of cross-Strait relations and stressed that reconciliation across the Taiwan Strait has brought peace and prosperity. A total of 7.17 million mainlanders visited Taiwan in the past more than four years, including 2.58 million in 2012, creating 150,000 jobs for the island, according to Ma. [...]. ^ top ^

Peaceful development of cross-Strait relations stressed (Xinhua)
2013-02-20
Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) leader Yu Zhengsheng on Tuesday stressed that the important thought of peaceful development of cross-Strait relations is of long-term guiding significance. Yu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at an annual work conference on Taiwan affairs. The peaceful development of cross-Strait relations is the only path to peaceful reunification and it is a key part of the country's overall peaceful development strategy, Yu said. Yu called for efforts to adhere to the guidelines on affairs concerning Taiwan, as well as efforts to comprehensively implement the important thought of peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. Handling well affairs concerning Taiwan has a great bearing on the core national interest and the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation. The newly-elected leadership is obligated to shoulder the historical responsibility, said Yu. [...] The statement also stressed opposing "Taiwan independence," enhancing political mutual trust across the Strait and speeding up the follow-up negotiations to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. [...]. ^ top ^

KMT envoy Lien set for talks with Xi in Beijing (SCMP)
2013-02-22
The honorary chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang, Lien Chan, will meet Communist Party chief Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday in the highest-level cross-strait meeting since Xi took office in November. Taiwanese politicians and pundits see the meeting, to be followed by another on Tuesday with outgoing President Hu Jintao, as highly significant given that Xi succeeds Hu as state leader next month. Lien, a former vice-president, will lead a delegation of 30 politicians and business leaders to Beijing on Sunday night, KMT officials said yesterday. "He is scheduled to meet general secretary Xi on Monday," a spokeswoman for Lien's office said, adding that Lien would meet Hu the next day and also Jia Qinglin, who steps down as chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference next month, before returning to Taipei on Wednesday. [...] Lien's historic mainland visit in 2005, during which he met Hu in Beijing, marked a significant step in relations between Taipei and Beijing - political rivals since the end of a civil war in 1949. It also led to an improvement in cross-strait relations when the KMT's Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president in 2008 and adopted a policy of engaging Beijing. The friendships Lien has built with mainland leaders over the years have made him one of the few politicians from Taiwan trusted by Beijing, a fact reflected in the mainland's tacit agreement for Lien to represent Ma at summit meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum for the past five years. Beijing used to object to any senior politician from Taiwan attending international events. [...] "Being the incoming mainland leader, it will be a good opportunity for Xi to express goodwill to Taiwan through his meeting with Lien," said cross-strait affairs expert George Tsai Wei, a professor at Chinese Culture University in Taipei. "What Xi will discuss on cross-strait relations should give clues to the future direction of the mainland's policy towards Taiwan." Other pundits said they expected Xi would continue Hu's warming cross-strait policy for least his first two years in office, but would also push for political dialogue with the island to pave the way for eventual reunification. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Spring Festival tourism revenue up 15.4% (Xinhua)
2013-02-17
Tourism revenue in China rose 15.4 percent year-on-year during the week-long Spring Festival holiday, the National Tourism Administration said Saturday. Tourism revenue reached 117.06 billion yuan ($18.79 billion) during the holiday that began last Saturday, according to a statement released by the administration. [...] About 5.72 billion yuan of the total tourism revenue came from airlines, while 2.73 billion yuan came from railways. Tourists spent 44.19 billion yuan in the country's 39 key tourism cities and 64.42 billion yuan in other regions. The number of tourists during the Spring Festival holiday topped 203 million across the country, up 15.1 percent from the same period last year, the statement said. ^ top ^

NE China's first nuclear power plant starts operation (Xinhua)
2013-02-17
The Hongyanhe nuclear power station, the first nuclear power plant and largest energy project in northeast China, started operation on Sunday afternoon. The plant's first unit went into operation at 3:09 p.m., said Yang Xiaofeng, general manager of Liaoning Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. Construction on the first phase of the project, which features four power generation units to be built at a cost of 50 billion yuan (7.96 billion U.S. dollars), began in 2007 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, said Yang. The four units will generate 30 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity annually by then, accounting for 16 percent of the total electricity consumption in 2012 in Liaoning Province, Yang said. Construction on the second phase of the project, which features two power generation units to be built with an investment of 25 billion yuan, started in May 2010 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2016, he said. The power plant will generate 45 billion kwh of electricity after it is fully completed in 2016, he said. The plant's construction is highly localized, with more than 80 percent of the parts and components it features being produced locally, Yang said. It is also the first Chinese nuclear power plant to use seawater desalination technology to provide cooling water, he said. [...]. ^ top ^

Further tax reform needed for income redistribution: official (Xinhua)
2013-02-19
China will actively explore tax reforms related to personal income, property and social security in order to adjust the way income is allocated, said a senior official from the Ministry of Finance (MOF). The government must actively study taxes as a means of redistributing income, as the country's widening income gap has seen no fundamental changes, said Jia Chen, head of the ministry's department of tax policies. Jia said the government has to improve the personal income tax system, particularly by increasing taxes on the wealthy. He also said appropriate adjustments will be made regarding which items will feature consumption taxes and how much those taxes will be. Property taxes for residential housing will be gradually expanded from the cities of Shanghai and Chongqing to other Chinese cities, Jia said, adding that China will also strengthen property tax reforms related to enterprise-owned property. Jia also proposed levying social security taxes in order to establish a sound mechanism for funding social security. The government unveiled guidelines to reform its income distribution mechanism in early February amid growing public concern over the widening wealth gap. The document offers directions on an extensive range of policy areas, such as taxation, subsidies, the salary system, financial regulation, household registration and social security, in order to realize the goal of fairer income distribution. ^ top ^

China to introduce carbon tax (Xinhua)
2013-02-19
China will proactively introduce a set of new taxation policies designed to preserve the environment, including a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, according to a senior official with the Ministry of Finance (MOF). The government will collect the environmental protection tax instead of pollutant discharge fees, as well as levy a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, Jia Chen, head of the ministry's tax policy division, wrote in an article published on the MOF's website. It will be the local taxation authority, rather than the environmental protection department, that will collect the taxes. The government is also looking into the possibility of taxing energy-intensive products such as batteries, as well as luxury goods such as aircraft that are not used for public transportation, according to Jia. To conserve natural resources, the government will push forward resource tax reforms by taxing coal based on prices instead of sales volume, as well as raising coal taxes. A resource tax will also be levied on water. The article did not specify when the new measures will be implemented. [...]. ^ top ^

Foreign trade faces challenges in 2013 (China Daily)
2013-02-21
China's foreign trade still faces "challenging prospects" in 2013, despite January's significant pickup in growth, the Ministry of Commerce said. "The January figure suggests that China's foreign trade maintained the stable growth momentum from the end of last year, and measures to stabilize foreign trade are working well," Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang told a news briefing on Wednesday. "But trade growth in January is normal and within expectations if the impact of Spring Festival falling in January last year is taken out of the equation." This January had 22 working days, five more than in 2012 when the seven-day Spring Festival holiday fell in the first month of the year. "Trade prospects for the whole year remain challenging as demand in overseas markets has seen no significant improvement," Shen added. Foreign trade in the world's second-largest economy rose 26.7 percent year-on-year in January to 2.17 trillion yuan ($345.59 billion), with exports rising 25 percent and imports growing 28.8 percent, according to the General Administration of Customs. After adjustments due to seasonal factors, foreign trade in January eased from December's 10.2 percent and increased 8.1 percent year-on-year, with exports rising 12.4 percent and imports increasing 3.4 percent. [...]. ^ top ^

Lack of skilled staff hindering growth (China Daily)
2013-02-21
More than one third of Chinese businesses are struggling to recruit skilled workers, posing a major challenge for their growth prospects, a report by international accounting firm Grant Thornton said on Wednesday. Almost 50 percent of enterprises from industries such as technology have reported difficulties in hiring skilled workers, the report said.The survey suggests a lack of general work skills and specific technical skills is the key factor making recruitment difficult. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

North Korea threatens more tests unless US agree to talks (SCMP)
2013-02-17
North Korea has told its key ally, China, that it is prepared to stage one or even two more nuclear tests this year in an effort to force the United States into diplomatic talks with Pyongyang, said a source with direct knowledge of the message. Further tests could also be accompanied this year by another rocket launch, said the source who has direct access to the top levels of government in Beijing and Pyongyang. [...] "It's all ready. A fourth and fifth nuclear test and a rocket launch could be conducted soon, possibly this year," the source said, adding that the fourth nuclear test would be much larger than the third at an equivalent of 10 kilotons of TNT. The tests will go ahead, the source said, unless the US holds talks and abandons its policy of what Pyongyang sees as attempts at regime change. North Korea also reiterated its desire for the United States to sign a final peace agreement with it and establish diplomatic relations, he said. [...] Initial estimates from South Korea's military put the test's yield at around 6-7 kilotons, although a final assessment of yield and what material was used may be weeks away. Urgent efforts to find out the type of device detonated appear to be getting nowhere, with South Korean experts unable to detect any radioactive fallout. [...] The South's state-run Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said it had failed to detect any radioactive isotopes and announced yesterday that it would halt sea-based operations to gather them. Monitoring would continue at land stations. Its priority target was traces of xenon gases released in the detonation that would point to the weapon type. "We are analysing samples and xenon has not been found," the commission said. China and Japan have also been collecting air samples but have so far reported no success. Collecting radioactive byproducts is a race against time because highly enriched uranium degrades quickly. If the test was well contained, it is possible there is little or no radioactive seepage into the atmosphere. ^ top ^

DPRK says nuclear test "self-defense" measure against U.S. threat (Xinhua)
2013-02-20
The nuclear test on Feb. 12 was a "self-defense" measure in reaction to the United States' ever increasing threat, a diplomat of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said here on Tuesday. Jon Yong Ryong, first secretary of the DPRK's mission in Geneva, told a public plenary of the Conference on Disarmament that it was a primary counteraction measure for self-defense and dignity of the nation, in which it had "exercised maximum self-restraint." In response to the statements by the United States, Jon said that if the United States took a hostile approach towards the DPRK, it would render the situation complicated and this would only lead the DPRK to take successively stronger steps. The DPRK also threatened South Korea with "final destruction" at the meeting, according to media reports. "As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea's erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction," Jon was quoted as saying. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Audits released on mineral exports (News.mn)
2013-02-18
The National Audit Office has completed the audits on the implementation results of some specific mineral policy directed by the State. The audits took place in the Ministry for Mining, the Mineral Resource Authority, the General Customs Office and the General Tax Office. As a result of the audit it was revealed that a law on mineral and oil products does not include a clause on the coordination of mining products export relations. It also revealed that acts have been submitted on the development of the mining sector, but they have not yet been passed. The conclusion was that the benefits from the mining industry are affected negatively because mining products are exported without a tax. Mining product per ton is allowed to be exported by an order of the chairman of the General Customs Office. Only 1000-1500 MNT is required for the custom documents to export per ton of mining products. The mining industries and organizations collected 45.5 billion MNT from 5.8 million tons of ore and products that were exported in 2011. It is estimated that 7852.80 MNT was accounted for as profit per ton. But auditors have said that this is not good enough. ^ top ^

Contract miner at West Tsankhi selected in tender (News.mn)
2013-02-19
Erdenes Tavantolgoi LLC, a state owned company, opened its second mine pit in the West Tsankhi area of the Tavantolgoi deposit in October 2012. There was also an opening of a mine pit at the West Tsankhi site last Saturday. Erdenes TT LLC had announced a tender for a contract miner at West Tsankhi. Three bidders took part in the tender and Khishig Arvin Company won the tender for West Tsankhi. The national operator company will run the West Tsankhi area of the Tavantolgoi deposit. The soil removing process and coal exploitation is expected to start later next month. Erdenes TT LLC is optimistic that the coal exploitation in West Tsankhi will improve current financial restraints. Erdenes TT LLC Chief Executive Batsuuri Yaichil said in a statement “We expect to exploit seven million tons of coal in total from East and West Tsankhi of the Tavantolgoi deposit this year. The Khishig Arvin Company, who won the tender, will operate in West Tsankhi as the contract miner. In addition the Government is in negotiations to cope with strategic investors who will cooperate at Tavantolgoi.”. ^ top ^

Oyu Tolgoi shareholder to meet again this week (News.mn)
2013-02-19
Four cabinet ministers met representatives from the Rio Tinto group on Wednesday February 6th. The shareholders' meeting that was held behind closed doors is to be continued this week after a break. After the break from the meeting, D.Gankhuyag, Minister for Mining, N.Batbayar, Minister for Economic Development, S.Oyun, Minister for Environment and Green Development and Ch.Ulaan, Minister for Finance gave a brief summary about the issues discussed during the meeting. At the brief summary the cabinet ministers noted 20 points about the Oyu Tolgoi project raised during the meeting. The Mongolian Government wants clarity over the reason of the total project cost increase in detail. But Oyu Tolgoi LLC has not commented on the issue except a position posted on its official website. ^ 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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