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
  4-8.3.13, No. 465  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Chinese ambassador to Japan still "optimistic" about ties (Xinhua)
2013-03-03
Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua said Sunday that he is optimistic for the future of China-Japan relations, despite the lingering tension between the two nations. Cheng admitted that his mission as the ambassador is "complicated, sensitive and difficult" at present. "However, I remain optimistic that generally the two countries will maintain friendly relations in the future," he told Xinhua in an exclusive interview. "What the two countries need to do now is to improve crisis control and avoid accidents getting out of hand," said Cheng, who is in Beijing for the annual session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body. He said the disputes over the Diaoyu Islands, which were triggered by Japan last year and have not been well handled by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration, "is the biggest challenge in improving China-Japan relations." The Japanese government ignored the history of the islands, the common understanding reached 40 years ago by leaders of the two countries, as well as calls among Japanese people for improving bilateral ties, he said. Japan must show its sincerity and work with China in finding out an effective way to put the Diaoyu Islands problem under control and solve it at last, he said. "As the saying goes, whoever started the trouble should end it," the ambassador said. As the world's second- and third-largest economies, both China and Japan will be hurt if they fight each other, but benefit if they maintain peace, he said. Since September when the tensions first broke out, the number of tourists across the border has dropped 30 percent and those traveling on package tours reduced by more than 70 percent, he said. ^ top ^

Hopes fade for Sino-Japan summit over disputed Diaoyu Islands (SCMP)
2013-03-05
China's envoy to Japan said that a high-level summit soon between top leaders of the two nations was unlikely, setting a pessimistic tone for bilateral ties that have been plagued by territorial disputes. Ambassador Cheng Yonghua said diplomats from both countries were working to create conditions conducive to high-level exchanges. But he said communications and even cultural exchanges have been affected by an East China Sea dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan. "The atmosphere facing bilateral ties between the two countries is at a very critical point now," Cheng said on the sidelines of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference annual session on Sunday. "There are no plans now to hold a high-level bilateral summit between leaders of the two nations." Tensions started to flare up in September, when Japan said it would purchase three of the five uninhabited islands from a private citizen, triggering a furious response from Beijing. At the time, Vice-President Xi Jinping even described the purchase as a farce. Bilateral ties appeared to be improving after a visit to Beijing in January by Natsuo Yamaguchi, an envoy of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. During his meeting with Xi, Yamaguchi called for a high-level summit between the nations. Yamaguchi later said he hoped the summit could be held in August to mark the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship. But tensions flared up again when Japan alleged that Chinese frigates locked fire-control radar on a Japanese frigate and military helicopters on two occasions in January. Beijing said the allegation was fabricated by Japan to perpetuate the "China threat theory". Cheng said: "I hope both nations can work hard together and show sincerity in trying to defuse tensions." Mainland observers said the island dispute's impact on bilateral exchanges was wide-ranging, so a high-level summit was unlikely in the coming months. […] Da [Zhigang, an expert in Japanese affairs at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences] added that China would also be focusing on internal issues after the National People's Congress. Professor Lian Degui, from the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said both nations were trying to see how far they could push the other. ^ top ^

China urges int'l cooperation on Syrian issue (Xinhua)
2013-03-05
China hopes the international community will play a positive and constructive role in finding a political resolution to the Syrian issue, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Monday. The urgent priority in Syria is encouraging the Syrian government and the opposition to start a political dialogue at an early date, in order to find a solution that fully reflects the will of the people and can be accepted by all sides, spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing. The solution should include drawing a political transition road map and forming a transitional management institution, according to Hua. China always believes that a political settlement is the only practical solution for the Syrian issue, she said. After an international conference of the so-called Friends of Syria convened in Rome on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States has stepped up support for the Syrian opposition with additional 60 million U.S. dollars in "non-lethal" assistance. ^ top ^

China urges peace, stability on Korean peninsula (Xinhua)
2013-03-06
China on Tuesday called for efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula when responding to a joint military drill between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States. "It is in the fundamental interests of all parties to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia. We expect all parties to do more to ease tensions on the peninsula and promote regional peace and stability," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing. Hua made the remarks when asked to comment on an ongoing ROK-U.S. military exercise and a possible exercise by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Regarding the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)'s discussion of the DPRK's latest nuclear test, Hua said China supports the UNSC's response in which it showed its opposition to the test. The DPRK conducted its most recent nuclear test on Feb. 12, marking its third test following nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, respectively. Hua called for the UNSC's response to be prudent and moderate. "It [the UNSC's response] should be able to help realize the peninsula's denuclearization, prevent nuclear proliferation and safeguard peace and stability in northeast Asia," Hua said. Hua said China has maintained close communications with related parties at the UNSC and other occasions. ^ top ^

China says six-party talks needed to resolve DPRK nuclear issue (Xinhua)
2013-03-06
China on Tuesday called for the resumption of the six-party talks, regarding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in the board of governor meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) in Vienna. The Chinese delegation to IAEA stressed that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear issue could not be fundamentally resolved only by sanctions and pressure. All sides concerned should take steps to ease the tensions in the region, promoting dialogue to build trust, regarding the aftermath of the DPRK's nuclear test. China has declared that China resolutely opposes the latest nuclear test conducted by the DPRK and insists that the six-party talks should be resumed to resolve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. ^ top ^

China urges restraint after DPRK armistice announcement (Xinhua)
2013-03-06
China on Wednesday called for calmness and restraint after Pyongyang's military announced that it would nullify a Korean War armistice with the Republic of Korea (ROK). "The Korean War armistice is significant in terms of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing. Hua's comments came after the supreme military command of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Tuesday that the country would nullify the armistice on Monday, the same day that a U.S.-ROK military drill is set to kick off. The ROK military warned on Wednesday that it will retaliate against the DPRK if it takes any provocative action. China hopes relevant parties will remain calm and restrained, as well as refrain from taking any action that could escalate tensions, Hua said. She said maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is the common responsibility of all parties concerned. "In the long-term, we believe that a peace mechanism should replace the armistice," Hua said, adding that relevant parties should work toward this goal through negotiations so as to attain lasting peace and stability in the region. Regarding the UN Security Council's ongoing consultations on how to respond to the DPRK's third nuclear test conducted last month, Hua said China hopes the UN Security Council will react in a necessary and moderate way. Hua said the UN Security Council's reaction should be conducive to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as well as maintaining regional peace and stability. China is maintaining communication and coordination with all other members of the UN Security Council, she said. ^ top ^

China continues Diaoyu Islands patrols (Xinhua)
2013-03-06
Chinese marine surveillance ships continued regular patrols in territorial waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands on Wednesday, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said. A fleet made up of the Haijian 51, Haijian 23, and Haijian 27 spotted Japanese ships sailing in the waters and therefore infringing on China's sovereignty, an SOA statement said. The marine surveillance fleet monitored the Japanese ships' movements, took photos of the ships and urged them via radio to leave the Chinese waters, the statement said. ^ top ^

China hails Chavez as 'good friend' after Venezuelan leader's death (SCMP)
2013-03-07
China described Hugo Chavez as a "great friend of the Chinese people" yesterday after the Venezuelan president's death plunged the oil-rich country into uncertainty. Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, who struggled to hold back tears as he announced his mentor's death on Tuesday, said armed forces and police had been deployed "to accompany and protect our people and guarantee the peace". Venezuela, still deeply divided after an acrimonious election in October, declared a week of national mourning, and a senior minister said a new vote would be called within what were sure to be 30 tense days. Chavez, known for his leftist policies, sought close ties with China's Communist authorities in a bid to reduce his country's dependence on the US, and Venezuela now sells some 640,000 barrels of oil a day to China. In turn, Beijing has extended at least US$30 billion in credit to Caracas. "President Chavez was a great leader of Venezuela as well as a great friend of the Chinese people and has made an important contribution to friendly and co-operative relations between China and Venezuela," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, adding Beijing was willing to consolidate strategic partnership ties with Caracas. President Hu Jintao and soon-to-be-installed leader Xi Jinping sent personal condolence messages to Maduro after the 58-year-old leader's death from cancer, she added. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Maduro would take over as interim leader pending the next election, declaring: "It is the mandate that comandante President Hugo Chavez gave us." Venezuela's closest ally, communist Cuba, declared its own mourning period for the leader, while US President Barack Obama - often a target of Chavez's anti-American scorn - was circumspect, describing his passing as a "challenging time". "As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the US remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights," Obama said. Tens of thousands shattered supporters of Chavez paraded his coffin through the streets of the capital yesterday. Many wept as a hearse flanked by soldiers in red berets carried his coffin. His body will lie in state at a military academy until a memorial service with foreign leaders tomorrow. ^ top ^

China supports UN resolution on DPRK (Xinhua)
2013-03-08
China has voiced support for the UN's latest resolution on the DPRK. China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said the balanced resolution reflects the international community's opposition to the DPRK's nuclear test. It promises to resolve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue by peaceful means, while reaffirming the need to resume the six-party talks. Qin Gang added it is in the fundamental interests of the international community to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia. China also urged relevant parties to remain calm and refrain from taking any action that could escalate tensions. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

CPPCC convenes annual session, stresses unity, democracy (Xinhua)
2013-03-04
The National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body, convened its annual session in Beijing Sunday. About 2,200 members of the 12th CPPCC National Committee from different sectors across the country will discuss major issues concerning the country's development during the session, scheduled to conclude on March 12. New leaders of the top advisory body will also be elected at the session. At the opening meeting in the Great Hall of the People, CPPCC National Committee Chairman Jia Qinglin delivered a report on the work of the committee's Standing Committee over the past five years. Jia said China has overcome "severe challenges" and made "extraordinary achievements" in reform, opening up and socialist modernization. The CPPCC fully played its role in coordinating relations, pooling strengths, making suggestions and proposals to the central leadership, and serving the overall interests of the country, Jia said. Over the past five years, a total of 28,930 proposals had been submitted by the CPPCC National Committee members, and 26,583 of them had been handled as of Feb. 20, according to Wan Gang, vice chairman of the 11th CPPCC National Committee. Jia said the CPPCC has made important contributions to the country's development in various fields such as scientific development, social stability, China's reunification and foreign exchanges. [...] Jia highly praised the the achievements made by the CPPCC, saying the political advisory body had "written a new chapter in its history". In regards to its future work, Jia said the CPPCC should better play its role as an important channel for promoting consultative democracy by enriching the forms of consultation and improving the consultative system. […] Jia said the CPPCC must "firmly stay focused on the themes of unity and democracy" to consolidate social harmony and vitality. "Unity and democracy are the historical foundation of the creation and development of the CPPCC," Jia said, adding that they constitute the hallmark of the political advisory body. An editorial published Sunday by the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said the ruling Party should tolerate different opinions or even sharp criticism. [...] In his speech, Jia said the political advisory body should maintain close contact with CPPCC National Committee members from Hong Kong and Macao to get them to play positive roles in building their special administrative regions. Exchanges and cooperation with Taiwan should be enhanced to cultivate more common interests for peaceful growth of cross-Strait relations, Jia said. He also noted that the CPPCC should help deepen China's relations with other countries through new channels and high-level visits. Top Party and state leaders Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping, Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli attended the opening meeting. Founded in 1949, the CPPCC consists of elite figures of the Chinese society who are willing to serve the think tank for the government and for the country's legislative and judicial organs. As an open forum where the ruling CPC, non-Communist parties and people without party affiliation discuss state affairs freely and on an equal footing, the CPPCC has been the manifestation of China's socialist democracy. ^ top ^

Allies, aides and kin of former political leaders join CPPCC presidium (SCMP)
2013-03-04
Several secretaries, allies and children of former state leaders or revolutionary veterans have been appointed to the presidium of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), whose annual session kicked off yesterday afternoon in Beijing. That sparked speculation that they would become standing members of the nation's top political advisory body. Among the CPPCC's 323 presidium members are Lieutenant General Nian Fuchun, an assistant to the director of the army's General Political Department, who was a personal secretary to Deng Xiaoping in military affairs; and Chen Jiping, executive vice-president of the China Law Society and the party secretary of its leadership group, who was a secretary to Qiao Shi, a former chairman of the National People's Congress. Chen Shiju, director of outgoing President Hu Jintao's office, and Meng Xuenong, executive deputy secretary of the Work Committee of Departments under the party's Central Committee, who has long been seen as one of Hu's close allies, were also selected as presidium members. […] According to past practices, anyone who secures a place on the presidium usually stands a good chance of becoming a standing member, a ministerial-level position, of the top advisory body. For Chen Shiju, becoming a standing CPPCC member could serve as a consolation prize, in light of his work as Hu's personal aide for years, after having surprisingly failed to win a place on either the Communist Party's 205-strong Central Committee or as one of its 171 alternate members, during a power reshuffle in November. Huang Liman, a former top legislator in Guangdong who was widely considered one of former president Jiang Zemin's closest allies, was also named a member of the presidium. […] Meanwhile, at least a handful of descendants of revolutionary leaders, or so-called princelings, including Deng Nan, Deng Xiaoping's daughter; Chen Yuan, the son of conservative former party veteran Chen Yun; Li Xiaolin, the daughter of former hardline president Li Xiannian ; and Wan Jifei, the son of Wan Li, former chief of the nation's top legislature, also appeared on the presidium yesterday after being selected as members on Saturday. General Peng Xiaofeng, former political commissar of the army's strategic missile force and the son of well-known army general Peng Xuefeng, was also selected to the presidium. Aside from those who found themselves lucky enough to be born into families of dignitaries or to have developed strong political connections, a total of five current regional leaders were on the stage. The new CPPCC leadership, which is expected to be headed by Yu Zhengsheng, former party chief of Shanghai and a current Politburo Standing Committee member, will be elected and later made public on March 11, the eve of the closing day of this year's session. ^ top ^

Fighting words from first NPC spokeswoman Fu Ying (SCMP)
2013-03-05
National People's Congress spokeswoman Fu Ying declined to announce the country's 2013 defence budget at a news conference yesterday, breaking with precedence. Fu, the first female spokesperson for an NPC session, said the vast investment in the military had contributed to global peace and stability, but refused to disclose this year's spending increase, unlike her predecessors Jiang Enzhu and Li Zhaoxing, who announced the defence budget at NPC news briefings since 2006. "As such a big country, China's inability to ensure its own security would not be good news for the world," Fu said. "Our strengthening of our defence is to defend ourselves, to defend security and peace, and not to threaten other countries." After 10 minutes of explaining why China needed to increase its military budget, she told journalists to get the details from reports to be delivered at today's opening of the NPC's annual session. […] Some military experts estimate this year's defence budget will be 15 per cent more than last year's 670.2 billion yuan (HK$826 billion), which was an 11.2 per cent increase on 2011. [Professor Ni Lexiong] said, […] that a 15 per cent increase would be reasonable. "But such a double-digit increase would definitely be stirred up as a 'China threat' by overseas media amid the tension between China and Japan over their territorial dispute in the East China Sea if it was announced today, with the military budget being the sole focus in the eyes of the overseas media." Antony Wong Dong, of the Macau-based International Military Association, said the impact of the defence expending increase would be played down if it was announced along with other budget estimates today. "The military budget has been the most sensitive and hottest topic for the overseas media for many years," he said. China's defence spending has grown substantially each year for more than two decades. ^ top ^

China unveils 10.7 pc spending boost for military as People's Congress to begin (SCMP)
2013-03-05
China will increase military spending by 10.7 per cent this year to 720.2 billion yuan (US$115.7 billion), the government announced on Tuesday, building on a nearly unbroken succession of double-digit rises in the defence budget across two decades. The government also announced that the domestic security budget would rise 8.7 per cent to 769.1 billion yuan, the third year in a row it will outstrip defence spending. [...] China's military budgets have risen steadily in recent years along with the country's booming economic growth, and experts say the actual totals are usually substantially higher than the publicly announced figures. The increases have become a sensitive topic as they come with China taking what some neighbouring countries consider a more assertive military stance on long-simmering territorial disputes. In a departure from normal practice, the legislature had declined to announce the this year defence budget at a press conference on Monday, when NPC spokeswoman Fu Ying responded with frustration when she was asked about the topic. “It seems China has to explain every year to the outside world why we should strengthen national defence and why we should increase the military budget,” Fu said. ^ top ^

Premier Wen Jiabao gives his government mixed marks in work report (SCMP)
2013-03-06
Outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao gave his administration mixed marks when reviewing his work over the past five years yesterday in his last annual government work report. He bowed three times after delivering it. While most deputies at the opening of the annual session of the National People's Congress in Beijing praised the retiring leader, the public, and especially internet users and microbloggers, were more critical, with some ridiculing the premier's self-assessment. […] Wen frankly acknowledged 11 failures, the most prominent and frequently criticised being a growing wealth gap, the deteriorating environment, an unbalanced economic structure, unsustainable growth and increasingly rampant corruption among officials. "Social problems have increased markedly, and many problems in the areas of education, employment, social security, medical care, housing, the environment, food and drug safety, workplace safety and public order affect people's vital interests," the report said. One blogger ridiculed Wen, saying he spent 50 minutes dwelling on his achievements, but less than three minutes on his "inadequacies". The bulk of the report, which was much thinner than Wen's previous ones, highlighted his achievements in exceeding numerous targets that he set for his administration. Wen said it had achieved average annual economic growth of 9.3 per cent, with gross domestic product rising from 26.6 trillion yuan in 2008 to 51.9 trillion yuan (HK$64 trillion) last year, taking China into second place globally, behind only the United States. In the last five-year term, revenue rose from 5.1 trillion yuan to 11.7 trillion yuan a year; the per capita disposable income of urban residents rose by 8.8 per cent and that of rural residents by 9.9 per cent, his report said. Wen also cited breakthroughs in innovation and technology such as the launching of a manned spacecraft, the development of a satellite-based navigation system and supercomputers, the building of the world's longest high-speed railway network, and the commissioning of China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. He said the government had created 58.7 million jobs in the past five years and had also scrapped the agriculture tax for the first time in Chinese history and substantially increased government spending on agriculture, resulting in nine years of record harvests. Wen and President Hu Jintao took office a decade ago and repeatedly pledged to tackle the problems listed by Wen. But many critics said the problems have been getting worse.[...]. ^ top ^

Displays of Hong Kong's colonial flag offends Beijing (SCMP)
2013-03-07
A state leader yesterday denounced Hong Kong activists who waved colonial flags during recent protests and warned that "opposition" and "centrifugal forces" would not be allowed to rule the city after universal suffrage was introduced. Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee - and tipped to be the next chairman of the nation's top advisory body - is the first high-level mainland official to address controversies involving Hong Kong. In a closed meeting with Hong Kong delegates to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Yu also referred to the parallel trade in infant milk formula and mainland women giving birth in Hong Kong. One delegate quoted Yu as saying that Hong Kong could not become a base and bridgehead for subverting the mainland. "When he spoke about the election of the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017, Yu said 'opposition' and 'centrifugal forces' could not be allowed to rule Hong Kong after universal suffrage was attained," the delegate said. "It is not good for Hong Kong and the country," Yu was quoted as saying. Again quoting Yu, the delegate said: "The Chinese people will not accept some Hongkongers waving the colonial flag." However, Yu also told Hong Kong delegates to the CPPCC yesterday that he understood the grievances in Hong Kong towards mainlanders coming to the city to compete for resources. […] Yu also told the delegates that, under the "one country, two systems" formula, conflict between Hongkongers and mainlanders should be handled by Hong Kong's administration. "He is confident that the Hong Kong government can handle the matter properly," Chan said. Yu also said the government's resolve in implementing the "one country, two systems" principle and supporting the chief executive would never change. ^ top ^

Media blackout on baby boy strangled to death by car thief (SCMP)
2013-03-07
A media blackout had been imposed on further coverage of the high-profile death of the two-month-old baby boy apparently killed by a car thief who stole the father's SUV in Changchun, Jilin province. A search for the infant boy, Xu Haobo, and the thief appeared to end in tragedy on Tuesday when a 48-year-old man turned himself in to police and said he had choked the baby to death. The killing shocked millions, and left many people heartbroken and expressing outrage online and in mainland media. Thousands of Jilin residents braved the freezing cold on Tuesday night at Changchun's snow-covered Culture Plaza to mourn for Xu. However, local coverage of the tragic incident is expected to be absent from newspapers and news broadcasts from today, as two reporters from different Changchun media outlets said yesterday that censors had ordered an end to coverage of the death. […] The ban came after the victim's family, and an increasing number of internet users, blamed police for failing to find the vehicle in time to save the baby, despite the city being full of video-surveillance cameras intended to monitor the public. [...] Media sources said a provincial propaganda directive released on Tuesday stated that "no follow-up stories may be published from March 6" unless an arrangement had been reached with the Jilin government. The directive also restricted coverage in yesterday's papers, saying that no reports about the incident could be placed on front pages, and any coverage inside had to be limited to half a page, while television stations were prohibited from running features or extensive reports. All media were told not to question or criticise the actions of police, but instead positively highlight their efforts. Comments critical of the confessed killer were allowed. […] The kidnapping occurred at 7.20am on Monday, after the boy's father parked his SUV outside a convenience store where he worked. He told police he wanted the child to stay warm until the store had warmed up. When he returned, the SUV and child were gone. About 20 minutes later, Changchun police called for public assistance on their microblog in finding the SUV and baby. The suspect, Zhou Xijun, turned himself in to police on Tuesday evening and said he had choked the baby to death before 8.20am on Monday and buried the body in the snow about 40 kilometers from where he stole the car. The SUV was found abandoned a further 20 kilometres away. Although Zhou, 48, was arrested and confessed to the theft and killing, two people said the suspect looked like he was about 30, media reported. The discrepancy led to online rumours that Zhou confessed to crimes committed by someone else. Police did not comment on this. ^ top ^

CPPCC holds 2nd plenary meeting (Xinhua)
2013-03-08
The first session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference has held its 2nd plenary meeting in Beijing. The meeting of the top political advisory body focused on the economic construction and ecological development. 16 members made speeches giving suggestions concerning the country's development. Main topics included the reform of the government function, land system reform and urbanization, financial reform, environment improvement and protection, and the improvement of people's livelihoods. Senior CPC leader Yu Zhengsheng, attended the meeting. ^ top ^

China tops list for executive gender equality (China Daily)
2013-03-08
China has the world's highest proportion of women in senior management positions, according to a new study that shows more than 51 percent of top posts are held by females - a huge jump from the survey's previous figure of 25 percent, and well above the global average of 21 percent. According to the report, by international accounting firm Grant Thornton, women now hold 81 percent of human resources director positions in China, and 61 percent of chief financial officer roles, which its researchers said were roles which particularly require detail control and communications skills. The survey, conducted among 200 businesses in China, also shows that women now take up 21 percent of board director positions, slightly above the global average of 19 percent. A fourth of chief executive officers are now women, a huge rise from just 9 percent at this stage of 2012, according to the research. Seventy-five percent of the businesses surveyed said they favored the introduction of quotas for the number of women on boards of directors in listed companies. Globally, 24 percent of senior management roles are filled by women, up from 21 percent in 2012 and 20 percent in 2011, according to the survey. The Grant Thornton survey shows that Chinese businesses would favor measures to improve gender ratios, particularly the number of women on boards. "Currently, women still lack equal opportunities with men in various sectors. "Businesses have to push women's career development more systematically rather than simply imposing a quota for the ratio," said Xu Hua, CEO of Grant Thornton China. Another recent survey suggested that around 40 percent of female professionals were unsatisfied with their salary levels and annual rises, with 60 percent eyeing a change in job in the coming year as a result. Career International Consulting, a recruiting and human resources firm, surveyed 1,700 Chinese employees aged 23 to 43 in February about their perceptions of professional development. [...] While 44 percent of women respondents said they had expected their salaries to grow 20 percent or more last year, only 7.1 percent realized their ambitions. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Government urged to curb pollution (China Daily)
2013-03-03
The government must pay more attention to the rise in pollution particularly that which is airborne, diplomat-turned-Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference spokesman Lyu Xinhua said on Saturday. "As a Beijing resident, I hope to have fresh air and blue skies, just like everyone else. To achieve that, the government should further increase funds (to tackle the problem), introduce legislation, and solicit public and corporate involvement and contribution," Lyu told the press. According to the country's major pollutant monitoring and measuring system, Beijing had only five smog-free days throughout January, and about 1.4 million square kilometers of area nationwide also experienced smog and haze. Previously, environmental protection authorities had introduced measures such as limiting car usage and suspending or limiting the production of certain vehicles to improve air quality. China has included airborne particles measuring 2.5 microns or less in diameter as one of the criteria in its pollutant monitoring and measuring system from this year. The surveillance of four major pollutants as well as PM2.5 and ozone (O3) are now conducted in four municipalities, 27 provincial capitals, and three key regions. They include East China's Yangtze River Delta, South China's Pearl River Delta, and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area in the north. Lyu urged the government to implement stricter regulations. He said the level of awareness on environmental protection among some enterprises is still low. He cited rapid industrialization and urbanization, which involve huge energy consumption and an irrational handling of energy resources, as among the reasons for pollution. To curb pollution, he said the public must adopt a greener lifestyle - drive less and use more public transport since air pollution is closely associated to vehicle emission. The environmental protection ministry had earlier said they would ban the use of vehicles registered before 2005 under an exhaust emission regulation. "Government resolution is the key to solving pollution," Lyu reiterated, adding that the same could be said for other public issues such as inflation, traffic congestion and food safety. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing must deal with growing population (China Daily)
2013-03-06
Coping with problems brought by a large population has become an unavoidable challenge facing megacities like Beijing, said a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) on March 5. Ouyang Song, a director at the Party History Research Center of the CPC Central Committee, said megacities' development cannot be separated from migrants. But the large inflow of migrants in recent years has exerted great pressure on cities' resources, environment, education, medical treatment, and social welfare. Beijing's permanent population reached almost 20.7 million by the end of 2012, and about 37 percent-7.74 million- are non-native residents who live in the city more than half the year, compared with 18.9 percent in 2000. To cope with the population pressure, Beijing must transform its economic development model, decentralize downtown functions, strengthen management of non-natives and issue a residence permit policy as soon as possible, said Ouyang. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

No end in sight to stand-off in Guangdong village over land deal (SCMP)
2013-03-04
Villagers in Shangpu, Guangdong province, were yesterday still locked in a stand-off with authorities, and were demanding democratic polls after a violent clash with thugs linked to a local official over a land transfer. Just over a week ago, residents fought with scores of attackers whom they claimed were sent by the village Communist Party chief and a business tycoon after they protested against a land deal. Now, on the eve of the annual session of the National People's Congress, police are blockading the settlement to outsiders while villagers refuse to let officials inside. The situation recalls a similar episode in Wukan, also in Guangdong and about 100 kilometres from Shangpu, which made headlines 15 months ago. At the main entrance of the village of 3,000 people, 40 police and officials stood guard, barring outside vehicles from entering. Not far away, a cloth banner read: "Strongly request legal, democratic elections." [...] Residents said they should have the right to vote both for the leader who represents them and on whether to approve a controversial proposal to transform rice fields into an industrial zone. [...] Locals fear that once the NPC ends, authorities will move in with force. The mainland's parliament is widely seen as a rubber stamp, whose hand-picked members do the bidding of the ruling party. Beijing has repeatedly ruled out Western-style democracy for the country. "For the purpose of maintaining stability, they [the authorities] don't want to use forceful measures before the meetings," another villager said. "We are afraid of them coming back." The unidentified attackers, some of whom wore orange hard hats and red armbands, drove into the village and turned on residents with shovels and other weapons. Villagers drove the interlopers off by hitting them with bamboo poles and throwing bricks from a nearby construction site, according to first-hand accounts and video of the incident provided to reporters.[...] Residents claimed some of the group had knives and a gun. A video showed a man firing a handgun into the air and villagers said he was a plainclothes police officer trying to intercede. At least eight villagers were injured. [...] [The villagers] claim the current village chief, Li Baoyu, who is also the party head, was foisted on them by higher authorities. Residents allege Li fraudulently obtained signatures to support the transfer of 33 hectares of farmland to Wanfeng Investment, backed by businessman Wu Guicun, to be used for factories producing electrical cables. The village's ruling committee will receive compensation based on the yield of rice that would have been planted on the land. But residents fear they themselves will not be paid and say the compensation does not reflect the true value. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetan 'exile-govt' called two-faced (China Daily)
2013-03-06
A senior official of the Tibet autonomous region said the "Tibetan government-in-exile" in Dharamsala, India, is two-faced because it claims to discourage self-immolation but actually fans extremism in China. "What is the use of them calling on Tibetans to stop self-immolations but instigating people to do so at the same time?" Padma Choling, chairman of the standing committee of the Tibet autonomous regional people's congress, or the regional legislature, told China Daily exclusively on Tuesday. Padma Choling said the "government-in-exile" is not doing what it said, but is using self-immolators as tools to split China. [...] "The international community has started to become concerned about the problem of self-immolations," he said. A series of self-immolations began in 2011 in regions inhabited by the Tibetan ethnic group in Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces. Police and courts found cases showing the "government-in-exile" and the "Tibetan Youth Congress" are behind the instigation of extremism. However, the "government-in-exile" is attempting to deny its role and blames China for the tragedies. Though the "government-in-exile" continues to "repeatedly appeal to the Tibetans in Tibet to refrain from such drastic acts, sadly, the self-immolations continue," the "government-in-exile" said in a statement on Feb 14. More recently, on Feb 26, a chief leader of the "government", said in the Canadian Parliament that his stand on self-immolation is the same as that of the 14th Dalai Lama, who has always "discouraged drastic actions by Tibetans". Contradictorily, the chief leader of the "government-in-exile" also said Tibetans are bound by duty to honor the sacrifices. "And as a Tibetan, we support the aspiration of the Tibetan people inside Tibet, including the self-immolators," the chief leader said in Canada on Feb 26. "Once a protest takes place, it becomes our sacred duty to support it," he recalled saying when he became head of the "government-in-exile" in Dharamsala on Aug 8, 2011. "I take the same stand on self-immolations," he was quoted as saying by the Huffington Post. Padma Choling said he learned the international community has raised concerns over the self-immolations. US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Feb 15 called on "those who are immolating, or those who might be considering this, to think hard about whether it's the best way to express yourself". US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said on Friday: "We urge Tibetans to end self-immolations." A report in The New York Times said: "A quiet debate has been under way among Tibetans who are anguished over the deaths of the young men and who question how the acts reconcile with Buddhist teachings." Padma Choling said the government of the autonomous region will work harder to improve people's lives and educate them to cherish life. He added there are no local residents, monks or nuns in the autonomous region who have self-immolated so far, and the local administration is "not facing any pressure". ^ top ^

Living Buddha blamed (Xinhua)
2013-03-08
A "Living Buddha" residing abroad is to blame for a string of self-immolations among Tibetans in a prefecture in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, a local official said Thursday in Beijing. The Kirti Living Buddha Lobsang Tenzin Jigme Yeshe Gyatso masterminded and incited self-immolations in the Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba in Sichuan in order to please the Dalai Lama, said Wu Zegang, head of the prefecture. Wu made the remarks while attending a panel discussion among national lawmakers from Sichuan, who are in Beijing to attend the annual parliamentary session. Multiple, deadly self-immolations have occurred in the Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba since 2012. Wu said a number of those who set themselves on fire as well as their helpers involved were monks or secularized monks from the Kirti Monastery in Aba County. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang class' helps to mold tomorrow's leaders, deputy says (China Daily)
2013-03-05
More students from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region should be sponsored to be educated in more-developed provinces and regions to enjoy top teaching facilities and methods, a deputy to the National People's Congress suggested. "For students from Xinjiang, especially for those coming from the families of herdsmen and farmers, studying in local schools is like learning to swim in a lake, while receiving education in Beijing is like learning to surf in the ocean," said Abudurehep Turmniaz, an NPC deputy from the Xinjiang delegation. He is also dean of the Xinjiang Islamic Institute, and was speaking while visiting the "Xinjiang class" at Yangzhen No 1 Middle School in Beijing's Shunyi district on Sunday. [...] Bai Wenliang, head of the school, said its senior-level department accommodates more than 890 students from all parts of Xinjiang — the most among the nine high schools that have a "Xinjing class" in Beijing. The majority of the students are from the Uygur ethnic group, Bai said. The Ministry of Education has been running the "Xinjiang class" program since 2000. By 2012, more than 51,000 students had studied in senior high schools in 44 cities nationwide free of tuition fees, according to the office in charge of the program in Xinjiang. Although the annual enrollment numbers for the program increased from 1,000, to 8,330 in 2012, Abudurehep believes the numbers should be higher and will file a proposal on the issue during this year's conference. He also suggests students from rural areas should be given more opportunities. In 2012, more than 77 percent of the students who enrolled in a "Xinjiang class" around China came from rural areas, with 90 percent from ethnic groups, such as Uygur and Kazak. [...] The college entrance rate for the "Xinjiang class" has been maintained at 100 percent since the school started running the program in 2005. The school also built a canteen catering in halal food for the Xinjiang students. [...]. ^ top ^

Attack in restive Xinjiang area kills four (SCMP)
2013-03-08
A Chinese government official says four people were killed and eight more were injured in an attack in China's restive western region of Xinjiang while the national legislature is meeting to install new leadership. Regional spokeswoman Hou Hanmin said on Friday she could not provide the ethnicity of the victims or the suspect who was detained after the attack on Thursday in downtown Korla. She is in Beijing for the National People's Congress. She says police are investigating to find out if there were accomplices involved. Xinjiang has long been grappling with tensions between indigenous Uighurs and Han Chinese, who have flooded the region seeking to profit from local resources. In 2009, riots in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi killed nearly 200 people. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

45 arrested for breaking milk formula quota (SCMP)
2013-03-04
At least 45 people have been arrested so far as they attempted to cross into the mainland with more than the permitted amount of infant milk formula that can be taken out of Hong Kong. They included 26 Hong Kong residents and 18 mainlanders. One person had a foreign passport. Eight of those arrested were cross-border drivers. Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said: "We expect that parallel-goods trading syndicates may change their tactics of getting infant milk formula out of Hong Kong. "On top of random checks on passengers at border checkpoints, customs officers will also be looking closely at vehicles," Lai said Cross-border truck unionist Stanley Chaing Chi-wai did not believe that many truck drivers would be persuaded to engage in parallel-goods trading, however much money was offered. [...] Last year, the rules governing cross-border vehicles were loosened, to allow more ordinary people to travel to the mainland in their own cars. Under the scheme, Hong Kong residents can drive a car with five seats into Guangdong Province via the Shenzhen Bay Port once, for a stay of not more than seven days. There are now fears such vehicles might be used to smuggle infant milk formula. Under the new rules to protect local babies' supply of infant milk formula, passengers over the age of 16 can take only two tins, or 1.8kg, of infant milk formula out of Hong Kong on their first trip out of the city in 24 hours. On Saturday, a 47-year-old mainland man was the first to be penalised under the new rule, after he was found with 11 cans of formula at the Shenzhen Bay control point. He was fined HK$5,000. [...]. ^ top ^

Wen devotes fewer words to Hong Kong, Macau at NPC (SCMP)
2013-03-06
Premier Wen Jiabao gave relatively short shrift to Hong Kong and Macau in his final work report, devoting fewer words to the special administrative regions than in any of the previous nine years. Wen dropped references to "developing the economy", "improving people's livelihoods" and "facilitating democracy" in the two cities, a feature of previous reports. The three paragraphs of the 28-page report devoted to Hong Kong and Macau contained just 113 Chinese characters. Wen stressed the importance of unity between Hong Kong and Macau and the mainland. "We should rally our compatriots in Hong Kong and Macau around us and maintain the long-term prosperity and stability of the two regions," he said. [...] Repeating a phrase from last year's report, Wen said: "We should adhere to the principles of 'one country, two systems'; the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong; the people of Macau governing Macau; and both regions enjoying a high degree of autonomy." [...] Maria Tam Wai-chu, head of the Hong Kong delegation to the National People's Congress, said the shorter remarks did not mean the significance of Hong Kong was on the decline. "The central government's support for Hong Kong remains unchanged," she said, pointing to Hong Kong's role in the nation's 12th five-year plan and the signing of Closer Economic Partnership Agreement deals. "It is not necessary to put all the details into the report." Yin Xiaojing, deputy director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference presidium, said the fact Wen's remarks were shorter "shows a change in the writing style" of the work report and a new style of government. "The central government strongly supports Hong Kong and is confident in its future," she said. Another Hong Kong deputy to the NPC, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, said: "Hong Kong is just a small part of China. As the whole report is shorter, it's normal that the coverage of Hong Kong and Macau is reduced." Former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, a CPPCC delegate, said the 12th five-year plan spelled out Hong Kong's role in the country's development. "We Hongkongers should not pin too much hope on the country doing a lot of work for Hong Kong," he said. ^ top ^

Shenzhen looks to stop abuse of multi-entry permit (SCMP)
2013-03-07
Shenzhen authorities will look at ways to limit mainlanders' trips to Hong Kong under the multiple-entry permit scheme amid allegations that it is being abused by parallel-goods traders. A pro-government lawmaker said this yesterday after meeting officials in the neighbouring city. But Gary Chan Hak-kan also said that the officials told him most of those who made multiple trips between the two cities in recent weeks were Hongkongers - including one who crossed the border 26 times in a day. [...] The lawmaker said Li had told him that the Shenzhen customs authorities, using a new system of random checks, estimated that 20,000 people - 60 per cent from Hong Kong - were engaged in the parallel-goods trade, buying goods in Hong Kong for sale in Shenzhen shops. The Shenzhen government promised to study ways to prevent abuses of the multiple-entry scheme, he said. Chan suggested that the number of trips made between the two cities could be limited to four a day, although Hong Kong officials have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of curbing such travel. Citing mainland statistics, the lawmaker said that during last month's Lunar New Year holiday, about 300 people crossed the border at least four times a day, of which about 90 per cent were Hongkongers. [...] Lawmaker Ann Chiang Lai-wan, who was also at the meeting, said cancelling the multiple-entry permit scheme was not an option because Hong Kong officials had already ruled it out. Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok had said on Tuesday that as the scheme secured more than 100,000 jobs for people in Hong Kong, "it is not the ideal solution" to set a limit on the number of entries. In Beijing, Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress Michael Tien Puk-sun proposed that the Hong Kong and central governments work together to import infant formula - a key target of the parallel-goods traders - directly from other countries and to sell it through designated outlets on the mainland. Tien said Hong Kong could help in certifying the imported milk powder. Meanwhile, seven suspected mainland parallel-goods traders were yesterday arrested in Sheung Shui by police and Immigration Department officers. Large amounts of baby food and diapers were seized. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Former Taiwan leader sentenced to 20 yrs in jail (Xinhua)
2013-03-05
Former leader of Taiwan Chen Shui-bian on Friday was sentenced to 20 years in prison as a combined punishment for a list of crimes he committed. Taiwan's High Court on Thursday also announced a combined imprisonment of 20 years for Chen's wife Wu Shu-chen. In addition to the jail term, the court decided to fine Chen 250 million New Taiwan dollars (8.4 million US dollars) and Wu 200 million New Taiwan dollars. The couple has been convicted of embezzlement, bribery and money laundering in relation to mergers and acquisitions for some Taiwanese financial institutions. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China keeps 2013 GDP growth target unchanged at 7.5% (Xinhua)
2013-03-05
China maintains its 2013 gross domestic product (GDP) growth target unchanged at around 7.5 percent this year to leave some leeway for economic restructuring, according to a government work report to be delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao at the annual legislative session Tuesday. The targeted growth also aims to create jobs and improve people's wellbeing, according to the report. This marks the second consecutive year for the world's second-largest economy to target growth at 7.5 percent. In 2012, the government cut the forecast rate for the first time in eight years from a longstanding annual goal of 8 percent. The report says the profound impact of the global financial crisis persists, and the recovery of the world economy is "full of uncertainty and not yet on a stable footing." However, the report also cites the "considerably increased capacity" of China's manufacturing industry, "significantly improved" infrastructure over the years, high savings rate and large workforce as "favorable conditions and positive factors" to sustain development. "In light of comprehensive considerations, we deem it necessary and appropriate to set this year's target for economic growth at about 7.5 percent, a goal that we will have to work hard to attain," reads the report. China's economic growth eased further to a 13-year low of 7.8 percent in 2012, from 9.2 percent recorded in 2011 and 10.3 percent in 2010. […] "We must maintain a proper level of economic growth in order to provide necessary conditions for creating jobs and improving people's wellbeing and to create a stable environment for changing the growth model and restructure the economy. We must ensure that economic growth is in accord with the potential economic growth rate," says the report. The maintaining of a relatively slower growth target aims to guide all the people to shift the focus of their work to accelerating the change of the growth model, restructuring the economy and improving the quality and performance of economic growth, so as to promote sustained and healthy economic development, according to the report. [...] To achieve the targeted goals in GDP [...], the Chinese government vows in the report to continue a "proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy", maintain continuity and stability of policies, and make them more forward-looking, targeted and flexible. ^ top ^

China lowers 2013 inflation target to 3.5 pct (Xinhua)
2013-03-05
China aims to hold this year's consumer price growth to around 3.5 percent, 0.5 percentage point lower than the inflation target set for 2012, according to a government work report handed out to media ahead of the annual parliamentary session on Tuesday. "China is still under considerable inflationary pressure this year, and maintaining basic stability of overall prices has always been an important macro-control target," reads the report, which is to be delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao at the opening of the First Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature. The reports says there is upward pressure on the prices of land, labor and other factors of production and the prices of farm products and services. Meanwhile, China is facing imported inflationary pressure resulting from easy monetary policies in major developed countries, the report says. Also, the inflation target is set to leave room for adjusting the prices of energy and resources, and is in consideration of the carry-over effect of consumer price rise in 2012, which the reports says will contribute about one percentage point to this year's inflation rate. To keep overall prices stable, the government "shall ensure the supply of major commodities, boost distribution of goods, reduce logistics costs, and tighten oversight over market prices," reads the report. China will continue to implement a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy this year, according to the report. The country's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, dropped to 2.6 percent in 2012 from 5.4 percent in 2011. The report attributes last year's inflation drop to the government's efforts in controlling prices and the overall economic performance as well. ^ top ^

China to increase 2013 deficit to 1.2 trillion yuan (Xinhua)
2013-03-05
The Chinese government is projecting a fiscal deficit of 1.2 trillion yuan (191 billion U.S. dollars) for 2013, 400 billion yuan more than the budgeted figure last year, according to a government work report to the national legislature on Tuesday. The deficit consists of a central government deficit of 850 billion yuan and 350 billion yuan in bonds to be issued on behalf of local governments, said the report. "It is necessary to appropriately increase the deficit and government debt as the time-lag of past structural tax cuts will make it hard for government revenue to grow fast this year, while fixed government expenditures will increase," the report said. China has a relatively low debt-to-GDP ratio, and the increase in the deficit this year will bring the deficit-to-GDP ratio to about 2 percent, which is overall at a safe level, according to the report. The increased spending will be used to ensure and improve people's wellbeing and maintain support for economic growth and structural adjustment, it said. ^ top ^

Chavez death clouds Beijing's loan-for-oil deal (SCMP)
2013-03-07
The sudden death of Hugo Chavez will be greeted with nervousness at China Development Bank, where Venezuela has become its largest foreign borrower. Wholly owned by the Chinese government, CDB has developed a close business relationship with Venezuela - which has borrowed US$36 billion from China in recent years - mainly to support Beijing's growing demand for natural resources. CDB, which is led directly by China's State Council, has been working as the de facto agent bank for the Chinese government, handling the majority of loans to Venezuela, industry sources said. Chavez once proudly announced on state television that the CDB was "the [bank] with the most money in the world. It has half the money in the world and is allied with Venezuela". Since 2007, CDB has loaned Venezuela's government-owned Bank for Economic and Social Development more than US$28 billion, according to a report by the Brookings Institution in Washington. Just a few months ago, CDB entered a new round of negotiations with Venezuela for a long-expected loan-for-energy deal, which some analysts and media reports suggested could be worth up to US$6 billion. CDB chairman Chen Yuan established good personal ties with Chavez. When Chavez was running for re-election last year, Chen submitted a 600-page proposal advising him how to improve and manage Venezuelan infrastructure, which he was said to have appreciated, according to China's Superbank, a new book about the CDB. But while CDB was keen to maintain good relations with the Venezuelan president and his government, the Chinese bank was increasingly concerned about the long-term political fate of the South American state, given Chavez's diagnosis of cancer in 2011. "CDB wants to ensure that its largesse is perceived as benefitting Venezuela as a whole - and not just Chavez - to increase the likelihood that a post-Chavez government will not renege on the loan agreement," said Erica Downs, a Brookings fellow, in a research report about CDB. "Moreover, CDB's concerns about getting repaid by both the Chavez administration and its successor may also explain why the Venezuelan government took the unusual step of incorporating the terms of the loan agreement into a law," Downs added. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Ex-basketball star delivers Kim Jong-un's peace message to Obama (SCMP)
2013-03-05
Dennis Rodman, the former NBA star known more for his body piercings and tattoos than international diplomacy skills, said he returned from North Korea with a message from its leader Kim Jong-un for President Barack Obama - "call me". [...] With the international community concerned about North Korea's nuclear weapons programme and continued belligerence, Kim and Rodman attended a game, where they were seen laughing and talking, and had dinner together. "He wants Obama to do one thing - call him," Rodman said. "He said, 'If you can, Dennis - I don't want [to] do war. I don't want to do war'. He said that to me." [...] "[Kim] loves basketball. And I said the same thing. I said, 'Obama loves basketball'. Let's start there," Rodman said. The US government has disavowed any connection with Rodman's trip. Last week, Rodman spoke warmly of Kim, 30, and described him as "an awesome kid". On This Week, he defended his new friendship with a man considered a violator of human rights and a threat to world peace by saying: "I'm not apologising for him. You know, he's a good guy to me. Guess what? He's my friend. I don't condone what he does... [but] he's my friend." When pressed on North Korea's human rights record, Rodman said: "But as far as what he does, you deal with it." [...] Rodman said he intends to return to North Korea someday. ^ top ^

DPRK declares armistice void (China Daily)
2013-03-06
The supreme military command of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said on Tuesday that the Korean War Armistice Agreement was null as tension continued to escalate on the Korean Peninsula. The resolute statement came before a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which was scheduled to be held in New York on Tuesday to discuss new sanctions against the DPRK in response to its Feb 12 nuclear test. In the statement, an apparent response to ongoing US-Republic of Korea military exercises, a spokesperson for the Korean People's Army also said that the DPRK military will carry out more and stronger countermeasures, Xinhua News Agency reported. ROK and US troops launched their annual joint drills on Friday, and the two-month-long Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercises were held amid heightened tensions following the DPRK's third nuclear test, according to the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency. The Feb 12 nuclear test followed similar tests in 2006 and 2009. The spokesperson in Pyongyang added that the DPRK has also decided to halt the work of its delegates at Panmunjom, where the two sides usually meet for communication and negotiations. Panmunjom was where the Korean War Armistice Agreement was signed in July 1953, ending fighting in the three-year Korean War. Shi Yuanhua, director of Center for Korean Studies under the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the DPRK's latest harsh remarks, stronger than before, are a serious protest against the US-ROK joint drill, because the drill has mobilized more powerful weapons. The standoff still sees no sign of abating as tensions are escalating, and "Pyongyang is also seeking to prompt Washington back to the negotiating table", Shi said. [...] China hopes all parties will do more to ease tension on the peninsula, as well as to promote peace and stability in the region, said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. Military threats and international sanctions are "two of Washington's favorite ways" to deal with the DPRK, said Shi Yongming, a researcher on Asia-Pacific studies at the China Institute of International Relations. "But the increasingly frequent joint drills by Washington and Seoul will further heighten Pyongyang's sense of insecurity, and may prompt it to go further down the nuclear road," Shi said. Meanwhile, Russia, which holds the presidency of the 15-nation UN Security Council this month, was scheduled to chair the consultations regarding further responses to the DPRK's nuclear test, the UN media office announced. [...] China supports an appropriate UN Security Council response that shows its opposition to the DPRK's nuclear test, said Hua, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. [...] Shi, from the CIIR, said the chance of dialogue was disappearing. "The Korean Peninsula has been dragged into a malicious cycle of sanctions and confrontation", but dialogue is the best way out, Shi said. Moscow is ready to back UN Security Council sanctions on the DPRK if they focus solely on Pyongyang's nuclear and rocket programs, a senior Russian diplomat said on Tuesday. [...] ROK Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters in Seoul that "considerable progress" had been made on the wording of a resolution, but added that "no full agreement has been reached yet". Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, also the UN Security Council president for March, said earlier on Monday that the US had not yet circulated a draft text, but one was expected soon. ^ top ^

South Korea vows to retaliate if provoked by North (SCMP)
2013-03-06
South Korea warned on Wednesday that it would retaliate against any provocation from North Korea, a day after the North threatened to tear up the armistice that ended the Korean war in 1953. “If North Korea carries out provocations that threaten the lives and safety of South Koreans, our military will carry out strong and resolute retaliations,” Army General Kim Yong-hyun told reporters. Kim's briefing followed North Korea's announcement on Tuesday that it would “completely declare invalid” the armistice agreement in response to US-led moves to toughen UN sanctions on North Korea after its recent nuclear test. The announcement, attributed to the spokesman of the North Korean army's supreme command, also threatened an undefined “strike of justice” against a target of the North's choosing. Because the 1950-53 Korean war ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, the two Koreas remain technically at war, with the ceasefire agreement theoretically the only barrier to a resumption of full hostilities. The North has threatened to rip up the agreement before, and it has not prevented repeated and often bloody land and sea border clashes. But the latest threat comes at a time of particularly heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, following the North's successful launch of a long range rocket in December and its nuclear test last month. Tuesday's army statement included a pointed mention of North Korea possessing “lighter and smaller nukes” than before. The UN Security Council is expected to adopt tougher sanctions against the North this week – a move likely to provoke a response from Pyongyang, which is also angry about a series of joint US-South Korean military drills. In his briefing in Seoul on Wednesday, General Kim, who is director general of operations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said South Korean retaliation would not only target the “origin of provocation” but also the North's commanding forces. Last month, the South Korean military released video footage of a newly deployed cruise missile which they said was capable of carrying out high precision strikes anywhere in North Korea. ^ top ^

UN to vote on NK resolution (Global Times)
2013-03-07
The 15-member UN Security Council will vote Thursday on a draft resolution that "significantly expands" existing sanctions against North Korea in response to the North's defiant nuclear test on February 12. "A strong signal must be sent that a nuclear test is against the will of the international community," China's UN ambassador Li Baodong said on Tuesday after the Security Council's closed-door consultations on North Korea. Washington's UN ambassador Susan Rice also told reporters that the new draft resolution "builds up, strengthens and significantly expands the scope of the strong UN sanctions already in place." UN diplomats said that once the resolution is approved, states will be obligated to expel any North Korean agent of a UN-blacklisted entity and will be required to inspect suspicious North Korean cargo on their territory. Such inspections of North Korean vessels are currently voluntary, according to Reuters. The sanctions will also specifically name jewelry, yachts, racing cars and other high-class automobiles as luxury items that must not be sent to North Korea, targeting the ruling elite who are living these rather lavish lifestyles, AFP reported, citing a UN diplomat. Facing the unprecedented external pressures, North Korea on late Tuesday threatened to scrap the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War (1950-53) and would sever a military "hotline" with the US if Washington and Seoul press on with their planned military drills over two months. "North Korea has previously made similar threats many times, but it's more risky this time given the unprecedented fragility of the situation," said Qu Xing, director of the China Institute of International Studies. "However, the announcement was made by the North Korean military rather than the top leadership, which is seeking a permanent peace treaty with the US," Qu noted. "This leaves the door open for North Korea to repair ties." [...]. ^ top ^

DPRK threatens to exercise right to preemptive nuclear strikes for self-defense (Xinhua)
2013-03-07
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will exercise the right to preemptive nuclear strikes to defend itself, if the United States ignites a nuclear war, the official KCNA news agency reported on Thursday, citing a foreign ministry spokesman. "Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to preemptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor in order to protect our supreme interest," the spokesman said in a statement. Moreover, if the United Nations Security Council adopts a resolution to impose new sanctions on the DPRK, the country will move up the previously announced corresponding countermeasures in response, he said. March 11 marks the start of the annual joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises, which will involve 10,000 South Korean and 3,500 U.S. troops. The drill, dubbed Key Resolve, was denounced by the KCNA as a prelude to an invasion. The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote later this week on a resolution designed to punish the DPRK for its third nuclear test since October 2006. ^ top ^

UN passes NK resolution (Global Times)
2013-03-08
The UN Security Council Thursday unanimously passed a resolution to impose renewed sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear test last month, a move against which Pyongyang vowed in response to adopt more severe countermeasures. The resolution, reportedly proposed by the US and China, added three new individuals and two entities to the UN sanctions blacklist, and tightened restrictions on the North's financial dealings, including "bulk cash" transfers, linked to its weapons programs, AFP reported. According to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, the resolution calls for mandatory inspections of North Korean ships and planes suspected of carrying banned items, including luxury goods. The UN's powerful body expressed its determination to take further significant measures in the event of another North Korean rocket launch or nuclear test, Yonhap quoted the resolution as saying. The North shrugged off sanctions imposed after its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 to stage a banned, long-range rocket test in December last year and a nuclear test on February 12. […] "The sanctions mainly target potential proliferation of the North's nuclear technologies and nuclear materials. It will absolutely pile pressure on Pyongyang," Yu Shaohua, director of the Department for Asia-Pacific Security and Cooperation at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times. The new resolution does not include Articles 41 and 42 of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows all UN members to enforce sanctions by military means, though Washington and Seoul had been reportedly seeking to adopt the articles, Yonhap reported. Ahead of the Security Council's vote, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying Thursday told reporters that China supports a "necessary and appropriate" reaction by the UN toward the North's nuclear test. According to North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, a spokesman for the North's foreign ministry Thursday said before the vote that the adoption of the resolution will compel Pyongyang to "take at an earlier date more powerful second and third countermeasures as it had declared." The spokesman also warned that if the US dares ignite the fuse of a nuclear war, the country would exercise the right of preemptive nuclear attack for self-defense, and noted that "it has become difficult to avert the second Korean War." Thursday's harsh rhetoric came two days after the North's supreme military command announced it would scrap the Korean War Armistice Agreement on March 11, in response to a series of US-South Korea military drills, which are scheduled to run until the end of April. […] "It's possible that North Korea will hold another nuclear test or rocket launch because, unlike the somewhat skillful Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un doesn't have enough know-how of world politics, thus creating more uncertainty," said Choi [Choon-heum, a senior researcher at the Korean Institute for National Unification]. […]. ^ top ^

North Korea ends all non-aggression pacts with Seoul (SCMP)
2013-03-08
North Korea announced on Friday it was voiding non-aggression pacts with South Korea and severing a hotline with Seoul, hours after the UN Security Council adopted tough new sanctions on Pyongyang. The announcement ramped up tensions on the Korean peninsula that have surged since the North staged a third nuclear test last month. On Thursday, the country threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States. Pyongyang is no stranger to bellicose rhetoric, but the tone has reached a frenzied pitch in recent days, fuelling concerns that it might trigger a border incident, with both North and South planning major military exercises next week. North Korea “abrogates all agreements on non-aggression reached between the North and the South”, the state-run Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) said in a statement. The main bilateral non-aggression pact was signed in 1991, endorsing the peaceful settlement of disputes and the prevention of accidental military clashes. “It also notifies the South side that it will immediately cut off the North-South hotline,” said the statement, which was carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. North Korea has threatened to sever the phone link -- installed in 1971 -- many times, and has actually done so twice before, South Korea's Unification Ministry noted. Pyongyang's latest announcement came hours after the UN Security Council beefed up existing sanctions on the communist state in response to its February 12 nuclear test. […] Prior to the Security Council meeting, the North Korean Foreign Ministry had threatened a “pre-emptive nuclear attack” against the United States and all other “aggressors”. The United States responded by saying it was “fully capable” of defending itself and its allies -- including South Korea -- against any North Korean missile strike. The CPRK statement condemned the UN resolution -- drafted by the United States and the North's sole major ally, China – as proof that Washington and its “puppets” in Seoul were “hell bent” on confrontation. “North-South relations have gone so far beyond the danger line that they are no longer repairable and an extremely dangerous situation is prevailing on the Korean Peninsula where a nuclear war may break out right now,” it said. The statement warned that the North Korean military would respond “mercilessly” to any intrusion -- “even an inch” – into its land, sea or air space. An annual US-South Korea exercise known as Foal Eagle began on March 1 and continues until April 30 […]. […] Meanwhile, South Korea's defence ministry said the North was gearing up for nationwide military manoeuvres of its own next week, involving all three wings of its armed forces. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia Economic Forum 2013 starts today at the Government House of Mongolia (InfoMongolia)
2013-03-04
The regular Mongolia Economic Forum has started today at the Government House of Mongolia under the arrangement of the Mongolian Economic Forum NGO where the political figures, business representatives, public organizations, researchers and specialists including over 1,000 frontrunners will be present during these 2 days. This year's forum is directly focused on three main themes such as Economic Development, Social Policy, Green Growth and Innovation Strategy to determine sustainable economic development of Mongolia by open discussion means based on the urgent issues of the major economic and business sectors of Mongolia. The Mongolia Economic Forum is currently being held in its 3rd year in Mongolia which is surely considered as a vital large-scale event to identify precise solutions on integrating the cooperation between the Government, Civil Society and Private Sectors to increase the economic development by attracting a somewhat considerable volume of foreign direct investment inflow to the ever-growing economic market of Mongolia. The Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag has delivered a speech regarding the Mongol Brand during the opening of the forum as well as the Honorary Guest and the Vice President for Private Sector and Co-Financing Operations of the Asian Development Bank Ms.Lakshmi Venkatachalam gave greetings during the inauguration respectively. Tomorrow, the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj will deliver the opening speech for the second day of the forum as well as the former Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Netherlands Mr. Willem Kok will attend as Honorary Guest accordingly. ^ top ^

Mongolian president meets Danish parliament speaker on cooperation (Xinhua)
2013-03-05
Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj met visiting Danish senior officials here Monday on the two countries' cooperation in energy, agriculture and culture. "Mongolia is interested in promoting cooperation with Denmark in such fields as culture, education, science and so on," Elbegdorj told the Danish parliamentary delegation led by Parliament Speaker Mogens Lykketoft. He also expressed his willingness to introduce Denmark's environmentally friendly technologies to the Central Asian country. The delegation, which started its official visit Saturday, was also scheduled to hold talks with Mongolian Foreign Minister L. Bold and Mining Minister D. Gankhuyag. ^ top ^

Oyu Tolgoi will meet June deadline: Rio Tinto (news.mn)
2013-03-07
Rio Tinto Ltd is confident it can meet the June commissioning deadline for its Mongolian Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold project, despite ongoing disagreements with the Mongolian government, according to The Australian Financial Review. As of December 31, Rio had spent $US6 billion ($A5.9 billion) on the project, with a forecast and approved spend of $US6.2 billion. The Mongolian government had reportedly been spooked by speculation of a $US400 million cost blowout tied to exploration costs, management fees, tax pre-payments and foreign exchange gains or losses. The Mongolian government must earn its 34 per cent stake in Oyu Tolgoi once revenue starts coming in, but capital cost issues have sparked tensions between the government and the miner. Mongolia's deputy minister earlier this week said he was concerned that Rio could stop funding the project. “Rio is funding the project for daily, weekly, monthly operations but not for the big structural investment,” Ochirbat Chuluunbat reportedly told Bloomberg. “It will be a catastrophe if it stops.” The Australian reported that a source close to Rio said it is working with the Mongolian government to sort out misunderstandings and is conducting studies to determine the cost of a second phase of the project's development. ^ top ^

 

Andrin Eichin
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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