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
  1-7.6.13, No. 478  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

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Bilateral Issues

Chinese Tibetologists conclude visit to Switzerland (Xinhua)
2013-06-06
Visiting Chinese Tibetologists on Wednesday concluded their trip to Switzerland after exchanging ideas on the latest development of Tibet with Swiss officials and local academia. Bi Hua, who heads the Tibetan cultural exchange delegation consisting of experts on various areas such as Tibetan medicine and traditional culture, said in Zurich Wednesday that their visit to Switzerland was aimed at introducing present-day Tibet to the outside world. During the visit, the Chinese Tibetologists shared information on Tibet's recent development with the officials of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese Tibetologists also held discussions with teachers and students of the University of Bern and visited Zurich's Rietberg Museum before leaving for Austria Wednesday afternoon. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Xi Jinping plans to step up energy links with Trinidad and Tobago (SCMP)
2013-06-03
President Xi Jinping proposed stepping up energy co-operation between China and Trinidad and Tobago on his first stop of a four-country regional tour as Beijing seeks to consolidate its diplomatic relations and expand commercial co-operation with Latin America.Calling for a joint effort to advance ties, Xi said he saw great potential for further co-operation with Trinidad and Tobago, one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean, which has large reserves of oil and gas."We both agree to actively advance co-operation in key areas such as infrastructure development, energy and minerals, and also to continue to advance our co-operation in new areas of mutual and beneficial co-operation such as agriculture, telecommunications and new energy," Xi told reporters after talks with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and President Anthony Carmona on Saturday."Today is a historic day for us," Persad-Bissessar said, hailing this landmark first visit by a Chinese president to her Caribbean nation of 1.3 million, a former British colony just off the coast of Venezuela. She stressed that China was a "key business partner and potential new market" that was increasingly involved in Trinidad's energy sector.Xi also announced that China was awarding Trinidad a US$250 million loan to build a children's hospital. Xi and Persad-Bissessar also signed a memorandum of understanding to co-operate on a range of issues, Xi told the news conference.Persad-Bissessar said Trinidad viewed China "as a very key business partner and a potential new market for our energy products and for alternative energy research".She added that Xi agreed to send the Caribbean 100 volunteer medical professionals over the next three years. Officials also announced that Trinidad planned to open an embassy in Beijing later this year and that Persad-Bissessar would make an official visit to China in November.Chinese waterproofing firm Beijing Oriental Yuhong also signed an agreement with the Lake Asphalt company of Trinidad to build a plant to produce roofing and other waterproofing products.Xi, on the first leg of his Latin American and Caribbean tour aiming to strengthen Beijing's trade ties in the region, next heads to Costa Rica and Mexico, ahead of a June 7-8 summit with US President Barack Obama in California.His visit to Trinidad follows a trip to Port of Spain on May 27 by US Vice-President Joe Biden, who attended a summit with Caribbean leaders.Xi was scheduled to leave Trinidad yesterday. ^ top ^

China, Finland stress importance of free trade (Xinhua)
2013-06-03
During their meeting on Friday afternoon, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told Yu that Finland will continue its support for open trade, adding that Finland hopes to step up cooperation with China on technological innovation and clean-tech industry. Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), expressed his gratitude toward Finnish side for its positive role in the ongoing China-EU disputes over solar panels and wireless communication products. Yu said that Finland's attitude demonstrated its advocacy for free trade and openness. The European Commission has proposed to impose punitive tariffs on solar panel imports from China. But a latest survey show that a majority of 27 EU governments oppose the plan.Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen said in his meeting with Yu at his official residence that Finland opposes trade protectionism. Yu also met with Finnish Parliament Speaker Eero Heinaluoma, who made similar remarks. Heinaluoma said the Finnish side hopes to make joint efforts with China to step up bilateral cooperations on technological innovation, clean energy, urbanization and sustainable development. In an interview with Xinhua on the eve of Yu's visit, Heinaluoma stressed the significance of free trade, regarding it as a principle that should be adhered to, especially during economic recession. ^ top ^

China lends Costa Rica US$400m on Xi Jinping visit (SCMP)
2013-06-04
China lent Central American ally Costa Rica nearly US$400 million on Monday during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to a region where Beijing has traditionally vied with rival Taiwan for influence. Costa Rica recently backed China in its dispute with Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province, in votes at the United Nations. Members of the Costa Rican opposition said the deals announced on Monday raised questions about what China expected in return. The bulk of the financial aid was made through the Export-Import Bank of China, which said it was giving a US$296 million loan to fund the extension of a road to connect the central part of Costa Rica to its main shipping port in the Caribbean. A second loan for US$101 million was made to allow Costa Rica to replace some 16,000 public transportation vehicles. Both loans must be approved by Costa Rica's Congress. The Caribbean and Central America are regions where China and Taiwan have competed for allies. China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of a civil war in 1949. China still claims the island as its own territory and reserves the right to use military force to reclaim Taiwan, although economic ties have broadened rapidly and a free-trade agreement links the two sides. Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo said on Sunday that it would “only be natural for China to ask us for support at the United Nations level”. But after the loans were announced by the Costa Rican government, Castillo said no strings had been attached. […] Nine deals were signed on the visit, including a Chinese donation of US$16.3 million for Costa Rica's police academy. Costa Rica will be applying for a loan from China to buy 5,000 solar panels in coming months, the government said. But a US$1.5 billion upgrade of an oil refinery by China National Petroleum Corporation, due to be funded partly through a US$900 million loan from the China Development Bank, is still pending as Costa Rica is not yet satisfied with the terms. The main opposition Citizens' Action Party, or PAC, submitted a letter in Chinese to Xi calling for transparency on the agreements made on Monday, PAC congresswoman Carmen Munoz said. “We know there's no such thing as a free lunch and from this point of view we are questioning why Costa Rica is opening its doors for China and in exchange for what,” she said. “We'll see how these gifts and donations express themselves in the future.” China is Costa Rica's second-biggest trading partner after the United States. Costa Rica imported US$1.44 billion in Chinese goods last year, while its exports to China were US$331 million, government data showed. ^ top ^

China, Sweden stress free trade, sustainable development (Xinhua)
2013-06-04
Visiting Chinese top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng and Swedish Parliament Speaker Per Westerberg on Monday stressed the importance of free trade and sustainable development. During their meeting in the Swedish capital Stockholm, Yu told Westerberg that countries should refrain from adopting trade protectionist measures in times of globalization. Westerberg agreed with Yu, and said Sweden would join efforts with China and would continuet to safeguard free and fair trade. Noting the challenges China is facing with regards to biological and environmental protection as well as natural resources and energy, Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, added that China is attaching more importance to environment protection and is committed to sustainable development. He said the two countries should strengthen cooperation in these fields. In his meeting with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on the same day, Yu also expressed his gratitude towards the Swedish side for their "understanding and support" in the ongoing China-EU disputes over solar panels and China's new observer status in the Arctic Council. He said China's development would provide enormous opportunities for other countries including Sweden, but would also contribute significantly to world peace, stability and development. For his part, Bildt said although Sweden and China have differences in some fields, both sides have been devoted to enhancing dialogues, mutual understanding and cooperation. […] Yu arrived in the southern Swedish city of Gothenburg on late Sunday. Sweden is the second leg of Yu's nordic trip which will also bring him to Denmark. ^ top ^

Shenzhou-10 spacecraft to be launched in mid-June (Xinhua)
2013-06-03
The Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft is scheduled to be launched in the middle of June, a spokesperson for China's manned space program announced on Monday. The mission has entered the final phase of preparations, with the modified model of the Long March-2F carrier rocket and spacecraft being transported to the launch site on Monday morning, said the spokesperson. The spacecraft, which will be launched in mid-June from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, will carry three astronauts and dock with the Tiangong-1, a target orbiter and space module sent to space in 2011. […] The Shenzhou-10 will dock with the Tiangong-1, where astronauts will conduct space science experiments and offer lessons to students back on Earth. The space module entered the appropriate docking orbit at the end of May and is now running normally, the spokesperson added. Preparations are going smoothly for all eight major systems of the missions. Astronauts have finished training sessions, including special simulated training on the ground for space experimentation and teaching during the mission, said the spokesperson. ^ top ^

EU slaps tough tariff on Chinese solar panels (SCMP)
2013-06-05
The European Commission imposed anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese solar panels yesterday, defying German-led opposition and dire warnings from Beijing that the move could spark a trade war. The commission decided "unanimously" to impose punitive tariffs on solar panels from the mainland, after finding they were being sold at up to 88 per cent below cost in the European market, said the EU trade commissioner, Karel De Gucht. De Gucht said it was clear that the dumping was harming the European solar panel industry, with 25,000 jobs threatened as Chinese companies took 80 per cent of the market. Accordingly, the commission would levy an average tariff of 11.8 per cent from June 6, rising to 47.6 per cent on August 6, in the absence of negotiations based on a commitment by Beijing to address the problem, he said. […] De Gucht insisted that the measures were not protectionist but rather within the EU's rights under international trade law to protect its interests. China has solar panel production capacity equal to 150 per cent of world demand, he said, and that meant they were manufacturing too much. The tariffs are provisional for six months, with EU member states having a vote in December on whether to make them permanent. In recent weeks Germany has led growing opposition to the move, winning the support of 17 other member nations, including Britain, but not France. Berlin says the tariffs are not needed, stressing the wider trade relationship with China, which was worth some €500 billion last year. But De Gucht said it was up to the commission, the EU's executive arm, to make the final decisions, as it saw the bigger picture. […]. ^ top ^

China, ROK hold high-level strategic dialogue (Xinhua)
2013-06-04
China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) held the sixth high-level strategic dialogue between their foreign ministries in Beijing on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and ROK's First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun attended the talks, Hong said at a press briefing. Hong quoted Zhang as saying that China attaches great importance to ROK President Park Geun-hye's upcoming state visit to China. China is ready to work with the ROK to ensure the success of the visit and push for development of bilateral relations, Zhang said during the talks. China takes a firm stand on denuclearization as well as peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, Zhang said, reiterating that China persists in seeking a solution through dialogue and consultation. He said China takes a positive attitude towards President Park Geun-hye's proposal of pushing forward a process of trust-building on the Korean Peninsula. He said that China supports the improvement of relations between the ROK and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Zhang said parties concerned should create conditions for early resumption of the Six-Party Talks. He urged all parties to jointly safeguard peace and stability on the peninsula and push for early turnaround of the situation, according to Hong. The high-level strategic dialogue between the foreign ministries of China and ROK started in 2008 in Beijing in accordance with agreement among leaders of the two countries. Since then, Beijing and Seoul have taken turns in hosting the annual dialogue. ^ top ^

Beijing under Washington's pressure for harsh fork on North Korean choices (Global Times)
2013-06-04
In the run-up to Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming US visit, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asked for China's help to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue at the Shangri-la Dialogue over the weekend. Hagel showed the continuous US eagerness to push China to denuclearize North Korea, especially when it's widely believed that China's North Korea policy is shifting. Because of North Korea's special geopolitical importance, China has for a long time given priority to regime survival to ensure the security and stability of the region. However, the third nuclear test challenged China's bottom line as its northeast bore the brunt of nuclear radiation risks. China had to take actions to force North Korea back on track. That's why China firmly imposed banking sanctions this time. But any effort to persuade China to achieve the goal of peninsula denuclearization at the cost of North Korea's collapse will be in vain. Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff of the PLA, reiterated that China won't allow any war at its doorstep. It's a big challenge for China's North Korea policy to navigate between North Korea's denuclearization and North Korea's survival. North Korean top leader Kim Jong-un sent Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae to Beijing to mend ties on May 23, and Choe sang highly of Sino-North Korean friendship, and expressed willingness to return to the Six-Party Talks. Nevertheless, the North Korean official media later swore to develop nuclear weapons and blamed the US for "closing the door of dialogue," which showed North Korea is determined to seek nuclear weapons. There is growing Chinese dissatisfaction with North Korea's lack of concern on China's interests even though China keeps providing aid to its "special friend." And the rift between the two has become more open than ever before. […] China should keep alert to the risk that the US may make use of the opportunity that Sino-North Korean ties may turn sour. It will be a big loss for China if such a U-turn takes place. China has been paying too high a price to ensure the peninsula's stability. South Korean media has reported that in the past three decades, China has provided aid worth more than $100 billion. […] Both North Korea's denuclearization, with China bearing the main cost, and broken Sino-North Korean ties that harm China's strategic security will benefit the US. China needs to urge the US to refrain from its provocative strategy and make concrete efforts for the peace of the peninsula. Meanwhile, the US should understand that it's neither wise nor possible for China to bear the costs alone. ^ top ^

China launches anti-dumping probe into EU wine imports (SCMP)
2013-06-06
The risk of a tit-for-tat trade war between China and the European Union has escalated after Beijing launched an anti-dumping probe into European wine imports worth an estimated US$1.7 billion. The investigation was announced in a statement from the Ministry of Commerce responding to news that the EU had decided to slap tariffs on imports of Chinese solar panels that Brussels says are being unfairly subsidised by Beijing. The statement, quoting ministry spokesman Shen Danyang, called on the EU to show "more sincerity and flexibility" in resolving the solar dispute. Ding Chun, an expert in European affairs at Fudan University, told the South China Morning Post it was clear that trade tensions had increased, although a full-scale trade war could still be averted. […] China's wine investigation came after the EU said on Tuesday it would impose provisional anti-dumping duties of 11.8 per cent on photovoltaic products from mainland manufacturers from today. "We have noted the quick rise in wine imports from the EU in recent years, and we will handle the investigation in accordance with the law," the ministry statement said. China's wine imports increased by 8.9 per cent to 430 million litres last year, of which 290 million litres, or 67 per cent, were from the EU, an increase of 5.8 per cent from the previous year, data from China's Customs Administration showed. Wine from France alone totalled 170 million litres last year, an increase of 11.3 per cent from the previous year. The average price of imported wine was US$6 per litre, according to customs data. China's anti-dumping investigation on European wine imports was inappropriate and reprehensible, said an official from France's trade ministry, who was quoted by Reuters. "The case is not treated on its own merit, but because a decision was taken in another area," the official said, referring to solar panel duties. Hao Changsheng, a sales representative of Pompway, which sells wine mainly from France in China, said sales of imported wine would be affected if anti-dumping duties were imposed. […] Chinese winemakers, which the ministry says complain that imported EU wine has hurt the development of the domestic industry, saw their shares rise sharply in response to news of the investigation. […]. ^ top ^

President Xi agrees to form new strategic partnership with Mexico on Latin American visit (SCMP)
2013-06-06
President Xi Jinping and his Mexican counterpart vowed to work jointly to access international markets, like the lucrative United States, as part of a new strategic partnership. Xi is beginning the second day of a three-day visit to the Latin American economic powerhouse, which will include a speech before Mexico's congress. After meeting privately on Tuesday, Xi and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said they were transforming the relationship into a "strategic partnership" and taking steps to move toward balancing their trade, now heavily in favour of China. The leaders signed 12 memorandums of understanding and co-operation agreements in areas, including energy, mining, education and infrastructure. […] Mexico is a member of the North American Free-Trade Agreement, along with the US and Canada. Xi praised the "comprehensive strategic partnership" between the countries. He said China wanted better relations with Mexico, which he called "a great friend and a great partner in the Latin American region." In a joint statement, the two nations agreed to increase talks at various government levels "to deepen mutual trust and conduct bilateral dialogues on strategic issues", Xinhua reported. Closer ties include more co-ordination in forums like the UN and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation grouping, Xinhua said. Xi said China would sign contracts to buy more than US$1 billion of Mexican products, but did not provide any details. He also said the number of scholarships for Mexicans to study in China would be increased to 300 over the next three years from 40. […] China is Mexico's second-largest trading partner after the US, and Mexico is Latin America's second largest economy after Brazil. Both countries are members of the Group of 20 leading economies. But Mexico also wants to narrow a gaping trade deficit heavily tilted in China's favour. Mexico imported US$57 billion worth of Chinese goods last year, while exporting just US$5.7 billion, according to the Mexican central bank. To start evening up this imbalance, Pena Nieto announced the creation of a business group to explore investment opportunities, and another coalition of top officials to "review the issues that put brakes" on trade. China has expanded its trade and investment ties with Latin America as the world's second biggest economy taps into the region's mineral and oil wealth to fuel its economic growth. […]. ^ top ^

China to build research center for Arctic region (China Daily)
2013-06-06
China will expand its study of the Arctic's resources as well as the region's shipping and economic potential, the main Chinese institute for polar research said on Wednesday. The Polar Research Institute of China said it plans to establish a China-Nordic Arctic Research Center in Shanghai to increase awareness and knowledge of the area and promote cooperation for its sustainable development. The center, which will be launched in partnership with a number of research institutes in the Nordic region as soon as next year, will also include studies on Arctic climate change and its impact, as well as the policy and legislation related to the area. […] China's move to establish the center comes after it was granted observer status on the Arctic Council, which confers the right to attend council meetings, but not voting rights. The Western world has a preconception that China covets the Arctic as it is rich in oil and gas, Yang said. "But we insist that those recourses are not ours, and China's partnership with Arctic countries in the sector will come naturally as it is part of the widening economic cooperation among countries under the context of globalization." […] China is a latecomer to Arctic research, and its studies are mainly focused on natural science topics such as the shrinking of sea ice as well as climate and ecological change. But in recent years, scientists have found that China is closely linked to climate change in the Arctic — for instance, when sea ice in the Arctic melted to a record low of 3.41 million square km last summer, the biggest snowstorm in 50 years hit Northeast China's Heilongjiang province in the spring. To a certain extent, extreme weather in China can be predicted by calculating the shrinking size of sea ice in the Arctic, said Zhang Xia, a research fellow at the Polar Research Institute of China. […]. ^ top ^

Low-key Xi-Obama meeting masks significance of talks (SCMP)
2013-06-07
When President Xi Jinping lands in the United States today, there will be no 21-gun salute or White House welcoming ceremony waiting for him. Instead, he will spend two days in informal gatherings with US counterpart Barack Obama at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, previously visited by past US presidents and other powerful figures. Major outcomes, or concessions from either side, are not expected, but the trip is still significant because the two leaders will share close moments together, setting the tone for the Sino-US relationship in the remaining decade of Xi's reign. […] Observers said the talks, after a tour by Xi to "America's backyard" that included visits to three Latin American and Caribbean nations, would be crucial for crisis management because of rising frictions between the two great powers given America's declared "pivot to Asia". […] "There is some sense of urgency to prevent any further deterioration in US-China relations," said Professor Susan Shirk, chairwoman of the 21st Century China Programme at the University of California, San Diego. "The two leaders don't want another cold war." […] The trip is also designed for both leaders to address their domestic audiences, showing they pay high regard to bilateral ties but will not bow to pressure from the other side. […] A series of thorny issues will be discussed by the two leaders, with any major agreements unlikely. For the US, the most pressing issue will be cybersecurity, following allegations that Chinese institutions have engaged in systematic hacking of the US. Three US lawmakers plan to propose a new law that would freeze the US assets of foreign hackers and revoke their visas. Beijing has denied the allegations and Xi is expected to hit back. […] For China, America's strengthening ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific region are a serious security concern, with Beijing believing the US is the only power capable of creating a negative external environment for China. Yue Gang, a retired colonel and military commentator, said Washington's rebalancing in Asia had had a retrograde effect on Sino-US ties that could not be compensated for by boosting their economic relationship. […] Other issues to be raised include North Korea's nuclear programme, which saw the two nations endorse a United Nations resolution against Pyongyang, and economic and trade frictions. […] Jia Xiudong, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, said informal talks showed the maturity of the bilateral relationship, and Xi's confidence. "They can engage in long and serious talks without going through formalities, and they are more focused on pragmatic things rather than protocol," he said. ^ top ^

Gold miners held in Ghana (China Daily)
2013-06-07
China's Foreign Ministry on Thursday called on all Chinese citizens in Ghana to abide by local laws, after 124 Chinese workers allegedly involved in illegal mining were detained this week in Accra, the West African country's capital. "The ministry and the Chinese embassy in Ghana will continue to provide consular protection and support to Chinese citizens in the West African country, to protect their safety and legitimate interests," spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing. […] Many Chinese in Ghana borrowed a lot of money at home to invest in the mining projects. About 3,000 small gold-mining sites in Ghana have Chinese investors, and each site has an average investment of 2.5 million yuan ($407,200). The Chinese losses in the crackdown are large. […] Xu Weizhong, a former counselor at the Chinese embassy in Ghana and now an expert on African studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Ghana's government could work closely with the Chinese authorities to control illegal entry and residence in the African country. "Most Chinese miners in Ghana do not speak English or communicate with local residents. Their mining activities often ruin the local environment and resources," Xu said. ^ top ^

Japan and US to conduct major military exercise despite Beijing's objection (SCMP)
2013-06-07
Japan has vowed to go ahead next week with a major military exercise testing US and Japanese troops' ability to recapture a hypothetical remote island, despite a complaint through diplomatic channels from Beijing. Japan's participation for the first time in the US-led exercise was announced in Tokyo in April. But it has taken on added significance given that President Xi Jinping will hold a two-day summit with President Barack Obama from today. And while the US and Japanese Self-Defence Forces regularly conduct joint training exercises, the scenario for the two-week Dawn Blitz drills is likely to renew tensions over the sovereignty of the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which Beijing claims as its territory and knows as the Diaoyu Islands. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence in Tokyo declined to comment on the pressure that has been applied by Beijing, but confirmed: "We plan to start the exercises on June 10, and that has not changed." Some 250 troops from Japan's Western Army are taking part in the drill, on the Californian island of San Clemente, near the US Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton. Significantly, the Western Army is based in Kumamoto, in Kyushu prefecture, and its 15th Brigade is responsible for defending the Okinawa islands. Japan's Ground Self-Defence units will also be supported by four GSDF helicopters and three other aircraft from the Maritime Self-Defence Force. The Japanese helicopter-destroyer Hyuga and guided missile destroyer Atago, as well as a transport ship, will also take part. About 1,000 Japanese personnel will be involved in the drills, which will also involve Canada and New Zealand. […] In response to the request from Beijing for the exercises to be cancelled, Japanese officials have stated that the operation does not assume a specific third country as the adversary and the island being used in the scenario is only a hypothetical territory. Defence officials added the practice landings are in line with an updated policy, under Japan's National Defence Programme, that requires the military to be able to defend the Nansei islands, at the extreme end of the Okinawan archipelago and close to Taiwan and mainland China. Beijing expressed reservations when Japan launched the Hyuga, a new class of warship designed to make optimal use of helicopters, and its participation in the exercises in California could heighten concerns that Japan will further improve its amphibious landing capabilities. ^ top ^

PLA's new-type ship-borne fire-fighting technique tops world (Global Times)
2013-06-07
The world's first-ever turbojet fire truck combining multiple fire-extinguishing agents, which was produced by a research institute under the Equipment Department of the Navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLAN), made its debut at the 15th International Fire Protection Equipment Technology Conference and Exposition on May 7, 2013. The powder extinguishing agent widely used on warships of various navies has such common problems as no "total flooding" fire-extinguishing performance, poor coordination with water extinguishing agents and corrosion of metal parts of warships after fire-extinguishing. A research institute under the Equipment Department of the PLAN introduced the concept of "particle functionalization design" and the micro-nano particle composite technology, and developed a new-type environment-friendly ship-borne fire-extinguishing agent and supporting devices, with the overall technology reaching the international advanced level. It is learnt that the achievement is suitable not only for fire-extinguishing and prevention of weaponry and equipment including warships and aircraft, but also for fire protection support of major military areas including onshore military oil depots and weaponry and ammunition depots, and it is also of special significance for rapid fire-extinguishing of other major military and civilian fire-fighting fields. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China should 'repudiate June 4', says party official jailed over Tiananmen (SCMP)
2013-06-03
Bao Tong, the most senior party official jailed over Tiananmen movement, says all must reflect on 1989 crackdown if the nation is to progress. The former top aide of reformist leader Zhao Ziyang said all Chinese people - including top leaders - should stop protecting the legacy of Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong and reflect on the events of June 4, 1989."Like the Cultural Revolution must be totally repudiated, June 4 must be completely repudiated," Bao said in a telephone interview. "Like Mao was the symbol for the Cultural Revolution, Deng was the symbol of the June 4 [crackdown]." Bao was director of the party's Political Reform Office and a member of the Central Committee when the government used armed troops and tanks to crush the student-led movement on June 4, killing hundreds, maybe thousands, of civilians."I think every Chinese - officials or ordinary people, those who were persecuted or benefited [from the crackdown] - should all reflect upon this issue," he said. Bao, 81, was jailed for seven years, detained for a further year and has been under house arrest since his release in 1997. He said he was impressed by President Xi Jinping's emphasis on the importance of constitutional rule, but was "perplexed" it was followed by what appeared to be a tightening of ideological control in recent weeks. A People's Liberation Army Daily editorial proclaimed the Communist doctrine as "the truth of the universe". A Guangming Daily commentary cited Xi as saying the country would have plunged into chaos if Mao had been totally discredited after the Cultural Revolution. It was also reported university staff have been ordered to steer clear of seven taboo topics in lessons, including press freedom and civil rights. "[Some say] our China model is the best in the universe and our truth is the truth of the universe," Bao said. But "without repudiating Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, it's impossible for China to progress". Bao - who admires Xi's father, reformist party elder Xi Zhongxun - supported Xi's view on the importance of implementing the constitution, but said he would be disappointed "if it only stays a dream", an apparent reference to Xi's "Chinese Dream" slogan for building a strong and prosperous nation.[...] Bao's house arrest makes it difficult for friends to visit as they are routinely harassed. Journalists are required to register with security agents. He said he had no regrets about his fate, but he grieved for his countrymen, who had been deprived of free speech for more than two decades. The silencing of dissident voices had disastrous consequences, he said. "If you cover the mouths of a hundred people, there could still be hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of mouths still speaking." But if they silence 1.3 billion people, that's frightening."[...] Bao, once the political secretary to the Politburo Standing Committee, blamed the barring of free speech after June 4 for the rampant corruption, inequality, environmental degradation and moral crises of today. And paramount leader Deng, he said, should have foreseen the consequences. Bao was accused by a court in 1992 of "leaking a state secret" and "inciting counter-revolutionary propaganda" during the pro-democracy movement. He denied the charges. Initial official reports in 1989 accused Bao of telling his staff of the declaration of martial law before it was officially announced. Then an indictment in 1992 instead accused him of telling his staff that Zhao would step down. He insisted these accusations were groundless, but the court still convicted him of revealing an unspecified "important state secret". ^ top ^

Global Times game lets players re-take Diaoyus, kill Japanese online (SCMP)
2013-06-06
The nationalist paper Global Times has launched an online game called "Recover the Diaoyu Islands", which takes visitors on a People's Liberation Army vessel on a mission to reassert Chinese sovereignty over the island chain also claimed by Japan. The game, which seems to have been around for several months according to timestamps on comments, is yet another move by one of China's most popular media outlets to stoke nationalism in support of a more assertive foreign policy. […] "The Chinese nation's determination to protect the Diaoyu Islands is unwavering!" the game's introduction reads. The player is then put in charge of a Chinese navy vessel that has to avoid being hit by Japanese fighter jets, destroyers, submarines and mines to reach the promised, yet uninhabitable, land. Hitting the space bar launches what seems to be air or nuclear strikes that eliminate all on-screen Japanese enemies. According to its own rankings, the game has been played at least six million times. A link leads to the paper's coverage of the sovereignty dispute with Japan, with headlines including "[China] not bothered by Japanese warning". […]. ^ top ^

Debts weigh down new vision for urban push (SCMP)
2013-06-06
"Better city, better life" - the slogan used by the Shanghai-hosted World Expo 2010 sparked great controversy on the mainland at the time. Critics said life was far from better in the city after a massive wave of urbanisation had worsened pollution, caused rising bad debts, and lowered the quality of life. Similar concerns surround the undertaking by Premier Li Keqiang to make urbanisation a national strategy in the hope of creating fresh growth dynamics for the country. Years of fast investment in new roads and bridges have caused debt to pile up at local governments. Li announced his urbanisation vision last autumn, but he has yet to produce a clear roadmap for getting there. A plan is still being deliberated among government bodies and researchers, and it is understood to have been amended repeatedly in order to balance opinions from all sides and reduce any possible harmful impacts it may have on the economy. Mindful of past criticisms, Li has stressed that the new urbanisation strategy should not repeat the old model of unrestricted expansion, which damaged the environment and increased financial risks. Funding, and the way local officials evaluate expansion projects, is at the core of the current debate. China is being urged to revamp the local fiscal system, broaden channels for local governments to boost revenues, and cut their reliance on land sales to get financing. […] The government should accelerate the creation of a local taxation system to support public services, make local government debt more transparent, overhaul resource prices, and introduce private funds into education, health care, and low-cost housing industries. Also, the government should allow a market-based system to facilitate land transfers for migrant workers. About half to two-thirds of construction funds in many cities were raised from land sales, National Development and Reform Commission Planning Department head Xu Lin and other researchers said in a report issued this month, and about 40 per cent of government debt at the end of 2010 needed to be repaid by land sales revenues. The report, published on the website of the China Finance 40 Forum, added that in the past decade about 2.42 million hectares of good-quality rural land was allocated for urbanisation, which hurt the nation's grain sufficiency. The International Monetary Fund suggested that local governments' poor governance in raising funds in an often less-well supervised financial system may be one of the biggest risks facing China. "Augmented" general government debt, including loans to local government financing vehicles, had risen to nearly half of China's gross domestic product, the IMF estimated. Citigroup analysts said China's overall debt level was not threatening. But corporate leverage was a cause for concern. It estimated that the debt of non-financial corporations, including debt issued by the former ministry of railways and local government financing vehicles, reached 151 per cent of GDP last year, the highest among the 10 major advanced economies. Despite the risks from high debt, local government officials continue to offer incentives to boost investment mainly because their performance is assessed on local GDP growth rates. Such an evaluation system, say critics, should be changed. […] Popular proposals to broaden local governments' financing channels include implementing a property tax and allowing them to issue municipal bonds. […]. ^ top ^

China to overhaul workplace safety after deadly fire (Xinhua)
2013-06-06
The Chinese government on Wednesday pledged to aggressively ensure workplace safety after a slaughterhouse fire claimed 120 lives in northeast China's Jilin Province on Monday. A nationwide workplace safety overhaul will begin soon and the government will not hesitate to harshly punish violators, according to a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council that was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. The overhaul will target key sectors, such as the coal mining and hazardous chemical industries, as well as labor-intensive enterprises, according to the statement. The statement also called for institutionalizing the overhaul and making its results public, as well as punishing delinquent government and corporate employees without lenience. "Production safety is a precondition for sustainable, healthy economic development," the statement said. Local authorities must prioritize safety and make greater efforts to prevent major accidents, it said. […]. ^ top ^

Promotion snub of Wen Jiabao son-in-law takes cue from Xi Jinping? (SCMP)
2013-06-06
A reshuffle of senior staff at the mainland bank watchdog offers the clearest signal yet of a shift in the way the new government of President Xi Jinping will promote top officials, sources with ties to the Beijing leadership say. The appointment of Yang Jiacai as assistant chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, announced on Tuesday, saw him leapfrog Liu Chunhang - the son-in-law of former premier Wen Jiabao and the head of the CBRC statistics and research departments and a member of the elite "reserved official" promotion programme. "If you read Xi's speeches, even before he was made head of state, it is very clear that he has had second thoughts on 'reserved officials'," a source with close ties to the State Council, told the South China Morning Post. "He wants to promote and appoint people who are capable and more experienced in different functions of the government." The "reserved official" scheme provides the talent pool from which the Communist Party has plucked top officials. Scheme members are typically awarded jobs when candidates are equally well-qualified. Yang's promotion - which sees him take over the role vacated by Yan Qingming, who has been elevated to vice-chairman, succeeding Cai Ersheng - surprised CBRC insiders as well as some senior bankers who had widely expected Liu to get the job. Liu joined CBRC in 2006 after working abroad for investment bank Morgan Stanley and consultancy firm McKinsey. He obtained a doctorate in economics from Oxford University. Yang was appointed to his previous job as head of the CBRC's general office less than a year ago. He began his banking career at a small, rural division of the central bank in the late 1980s and has steadily climbed the promotion ladder. "About half a year ago, Yang was made head of the general office, and now he's going to be the new assistant chairman. This is really like a 'double promotion' within a very short period of time, which I understand is a very rare thing," said a senior banking industry source. He added that Liu had personally wanted the promotion. The job of assistant chairman is considered a stepping stone to the post of vice-chairman at the CBRC, which carries the equivalent government rank of vice-minister. One of the sources said Liu might be made the new head of the CBRC Beijing branch, the same rank of his current department head role, but one level lower than assistant chairman. Industry watchers say the appointment signals new thinking in the appointment of middle and senior level officials. […]. ^ top ^

Jilin governor apologises for poultry plant fire as death toll rises to 120 (SCMP)
2013-06-07
Jilin Governor Bayanqolu has apologised for the first time for the deadly fire at a poultry slaughterhouse in Dehui, Changchun, on Monday as pressure builds on authorities to bring those responsible for the tragedy to justice. Also yesterday, Changchun Mayor Jiang Zhiying engaged in self-criticism, pledging not to ignore his mistakes and skirt problems, as a State Council investigation team decried gross violations of workplace safety and labour rules at the Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry slaughterhouse in the town of Mishazi, where staff worked behind locked doors. The official death toll stands at 120, with another 77 workers injured. But authorities are still gathering information about how many workers were inside the plant at the time and how many were unaccounted for. The central government investigation team linked the tragedy to official negligence, which could see some senior officials in the province lose their jobs. State Administration of Work Safety director Yang Dongliang, who is heading the investigation team, told China National Radio there was little oversight or training in workplace safety for such a labour-intensive operation and that the design of the four-year-old plant, the way it was built, the materials used and its daily management were all flawed. Yang said most of the victims were local farmers who were paid poorly. "What we've seen is so heart-wrenching that it's a lesson that we must learn the hard way," he said at a meeting with local officials. "How are we going to talk about development and a harmonious society without safety as a bottom line?" Dehui government spokesman He Zhe confirmed yesterday that company president Jia Yushan and general manager Zhang Yushen had been detained, but denied Mishazi's party secretary and director had been sacked. Yao Chunxue, who lost a niece to the fire, said he was worried that the investigation team might not get the full picture because some corrupt local officials would get in their way. He said the slaughterhouse had also caught fire three years ago and its fire safety precautions had been cleared by the local authorities three days before Monday's fire. […]. ^ top ^

 

 

Shanghai

American teacher held in Shanghai over allegations of child sex abuse (SCMP)
2013-06-07
An American teacher at an elite French school in Shanghai has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting at least seven children, school officials and parents said yesterday. The Shanghai kindergarten teacher was seized by police last month after seven families filed formal accusations against him, alleging sexual abuse and rape of students of both sexes, several parents said. A former instructor at the school, also an American, was extradited to the US on similar charges. Education authorities have stepped up supervision of foreign teachers since April following two child sex scandals, in Beijing and Nanjing. Local schools on the mainland have also been mired in a series of child molestation cases exposed recently. […] The second teacher, a friend of the first, was "extradited by Chinese authorities to the US in December 2012 following an investigation into sexual touching and violence against minors", the school said in an e-mail. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Plan for Dalai Lama to visit Hong Kong may fall prey to Beijing's meddling (SCMP)
2013-06-03
A religious group has invited the Dalai Lama to Hong Kong in September and is confident that the trip will go ahead, despite the tensions between the Tibetan spiritual leader and the mainland's government. Philip Li Koi-hop, chairman of the Hong Kong Tibetan and Han-Chinese Friendship Association, said he has visited the Dalai Lama four times in India between 2009 and 2011. "One time I asked him if he wanted to come to Hong Kong. He answered 'Yes', and said a University of Hong Kong professor had invited him earlier. But the Hong Kong government rejected the visit," Li said yesterday. Li sent his current invitation to the 77-year-old spiritual leader following his return from his latest visit. The Dalai Lama's office has not yet given him a reply, but Li said that was normal protocol. Li hopes to use media pressure to urge the Dalai Lama to come to Hong Kong as well as to lean on the Immigration Department to allow the visit. But political scientist Dr James Sung Lap-kung of City University said the invitation would prompt Beijing to meddle in Hong Kong's affairs. He said the central government had taken a "hardline approach" to the Dalai Lama for a long time and that the chances it would suddenly soften its stance to allow he visit were slim. Li has applied to the Immigration Department to allow the Dalai Lama to visit the city, but it has not given an answer. It has said only that it processes all applications according to the law and current immigration policy. It said it would consider all factors related to an application before making a final decision. Li says that if the exiled leader is allowed to enter Hong Kong, his visit will represent significant progress in easing tensions with Beijing. He says he is confident that the Dalai Lama will be able to make the trip. The association has also sent letters to authorities on the mainland, and to President Xi Jinping, about the proposed visit. It has yet to receive a reply. The 14th Dalai Lama was named in 1950, a year after the founding of the People's Republic of China. He has not returned to Tibet since a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Candles in rain mark June 4 vigil in Hong Kong as key Beijing figure confirmed dead (SCMP)
2013-06-05
The annual Hong Kong candlelight vigil to mark the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown was brought to an abrupt end last night by heavy downpours and a power failure. Adding to the drama, the key figure blamed for the June 4 incident was confirmed dead in Beijing last night. Many people had braved the heavy rain, chanting slogans and turning Victoria Park into a sea of umbrellas. But an hour in, as weather conditions deteriorated, Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the main organiser, the Hong Kong Alliance In Support of Patriotic Movements in China, had to call an end to the vigil. […] The organisers put the number of participants at 150,000, lower than their target of 180,000. Police reported the figure to be 54,000, down from 85,000 last year. This came as the Hong Kong China News Agency reported that the disgraced former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong, widely believed to be a key figure behind the crackdown, died aged 84. The semi-official agency quoted unnamed sources as saying that Chen had passed away. […] Chen, whose name has long been associated with the bloody crackdown, was suffering from colon cancer. He was released from bail on medical parole in 2006 and died just three months before completing the jail sentence. He was mayor of Beijing in 1989 and was later promoted to Beijing party secretary and made a Politburo member after the crackdown. Chen was sentenced to jail in 1998 for corruption. He tried to distance himself from the crackdown in his later years. […] In Beijing, at least 10 people from the victims' family group Tiananmen Mothers paid tribute to their loved ones in the Wanan graveyard. ^ top ^

Big leap in bad feelings towards Hong Kong government and mainlanders, poll finds (SCMP)
2013-06-05
The number of Hongkongers holding negative feelings towards the city government, Beijing and mainlanders is up by about 40 per cent since November, a poll by the Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong found. At the same time barely a fifth of Hongkongers reported positive feelings towards mainlanders, down by half since 2008. More than a third - 37 per cent - of the people polled said they had negative feelings towards the mainland government, 12 percentage points higher than the last poll in November last year. The rate of Hong Kong people having negative feelings towards mainlanders also rose, from just over a quarter - 26 per cent - to 36 per cent during the same period. Both findings are historical highs since 2006. People with positive feelings towards mainlanders also fell to the lowest level, just 21 per cent. In 2008, the number was 41 per cent, but it has dropped continuously in subsequent years. […] Dr Chung Kim-wah, from the Department of Applied Social Sciences at Polytechnic University, said the negative feelings were the cumulation of events over recent years that included the scramble for milk formula, Beijing's remarks on universal suffrage and the so-called autonomy movement, and the scandals plaguing the Leung Chun-ying administration. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwanese interests can only be protected within greater Chinese framework (Global Times)
2013-06-06
After the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman last month by the Philippine authorities, Taiwan and the Philippines sent investigation teams to visit the other side and many details of the shooting incident have been revealed. It has been reported that the abuse of military force by the Philippine Coast Guard in the recent shooting incident can be basically confirmed. After negotiations, the Philippines may admit fault and the issue will slip from public attention. However, a thought-provoking lesson has to be drawn from this incident. These incidents will not come to an end without cooperation across the Straits. Neither the "one-China policy" nor Taiwan's limited influence in the international community is the real reason why the Philippines continues its strategy of stalling. In Manila's eyes, Taiwan is still unable to produce as much deterrence as the Chinese mainland. The Philippines' incessant threats and provocations can only take effect because of separating status across the Taiwan Straits, which is the "Achilles' heel" between the mainland and Taiwan. In fact, many have long been aware of this soft spot, calling for a joint force to protect sovereignty and fishing rights. Nonetheless, this constructive idea has confronted a long-standing obstacle: Although economic cooperation and mutual understanding in diplomatic affairs across the Straits have been thriving, there is little progress in establishing a consensus in terms of political relationship and security concerns. As one Chinese nation, both the mainland and Taiwan have the responsibility to guard our mutual interests. As to Taiwan, whose ambition far exceeds its strength to protect its fishing rights, there should be a reflection of the stagnant political relationship across the Straits. A reasonable and up-to-date ideology is what really matters. On May 29, Tsai Ing-wen, former chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party, delivered a speech at Mingdao University, claiming that cross-Straits cooperation cannot continue if the mainland doesn't respect "Taiwan's independence." However, the truth is that a separate Taiwan, in order to strike a balance with the mainland, will have to depend on external forces. The intervention of other nations can only bring loss of interests. A breakthrough in the political relationship across the Straits also requires wisdom and honesty from the mainland. When former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping talked about the Taiwan question, he said that we could discuss everything under the framework of one China, even the name of the nation. The mainland should be more committed to addressing this long-standing problem. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China remains a magnet for foreign investment (Xinhua)
2013-06-04
Wearing staff badges, workers are grabbing a bite to eat at a McDonald's restaurant in the center of Tianfu Software Park in Chengdu, provincial capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province. They are a small portion of the 40,000 people working in the industrial park, home to more than 400 Chinese and overseas companies. "Many companies followed the footsteps of Intel and came to Chengdu. But ten years have passed. We no longer attach such great importance to one single company's relocation," said Yuan Xin, secretary general of Chengdu Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment. To help further boost local development, the Fortune Global Forum will be held from June 6 to 8 in Chengdu. "The forum can mark the start of a new decade," Yuan said. Yuan said Chengdu's municipal government hosts the forum four times a year with top executives of foreign-funded firms in the city, in order to answer their needs and fix any problems. The forum has been held 52 times. […] Official data showed that western and Central China used $19.21 billion of foreign investment in 2012, accounting for 17.2 percent of the country's total. Chengdu alone had $8.59 billion of foreign investment paid in, up 31.1 percent year-on-year. According to Yuan, companies in information technology, automobile, engineering machinery and aviation now have a strong presence in his 204-member association. Companies are already seeing the benefits of being located in Chengdu. "Many Chinese cities can generate huge demand but we selected Chengdu because of its business environment, helpful to the shop's daily operation and good for long-term development," said Zhang Lianlian, local market manager at IKEA's Chengdu outlet, the Swedish furniture giant's only shop in west China. According to Zhang, the outlet topped 300 Ikea stores worldwide with a 135-percent growth rate in the fiscal year 2010. Its robust growth has prompted the retailer to consider opening a shop in Chongqing, the municipality bordering Sichuan Province. Local and central government are taking active steps to keep attracting investment in a sustainable way. […] Jens Eskelund, Maersk China Ltd senior director, said the logistics industry is comparatively open in China and foreign companies have benefited since the country's accession to the World Trade Organization. "The Chinese government is recognizing the value foreign logistics companies can bring to the development in China and that is a great basis for discussing collaboration to mutual benefit," said Eskelund, whose company opened a global service center in Chengdu three years ago. The central government has revised an industry catalogue to encourage foreign firms investing in labor-intensive industries in central and western China while conforming to requirements of environmental protection. That may bring new opportunities for the local government and foreign firms to deepen cooperation and achieve win-win results. China's economic growth slowed to 7.8 percent in 2012, the lowest level since 1999. But a latest AmCham China business climate report showed that over two-thirds of its respondents still listed China as at least a top-three destination for global investment. Cui Wei, director and CEO of Sino-Singapore (Chengdu) Innovation Park Development Co Ltd said political stability and a steady Chinese currency appeal to global investors, as well as an improved rule of law and civil servants with an increasingly global vision. Midha said Dell has not witnessed bias or obstacles in China's market, especially after the country's WTO entry. Industrial regulations are being completed and the government is using good practices from developed industries, he said. […]. ^ top ^

Yuan heads for key level against dollar (SCMP)
2013-06-05
The yuan could breach another key psychological level this year to trade at 6 to the US dollar as the mainland authorities seem inclined to ease the reins on the currency further. Spot yuan closed yesterday at 6.1287 per dollar in Shanghai. It has been hitting 19-year highs frequently in the past few months and has strengthened about 1.7 per cent against the dollar since April. That has already surpassed the 1.03 per cent appreciation for the whole of last year, as capital unleashed by quantitative easing in developed countries flooded into China betting on robust economic growth and greater financial reforms. Notably, the yuan's rally continues unabated even after mainland officials and economists earlier this year said the currency had reached its equilibrium. "There has been a policy to drive down dollar-yuan fixing since the end of March and this will continue through both the June 7-8 US-China meetings and the July 8-12 Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue," Nomura Securities economists Craig Chan and Teo Wee Choon wrote in a research note. They expect the yuan to strengthen to 6.13 by the Sino-US dialogue date and 6.05 by the end of this year, based on Beijing's increasing tolerance for yuan appreciation. "It is possible for spot dollar-yuan to fall below the 6 figure, when considering a potential widening of the yuan trading band from the current 1 per cent to 2 per cent," they said in the note. Yi Gang, a deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, said at an International Monetary Fund conference in Washington in April that the yuan's trading band would soon be widened. Many economists expect the band, within which spot yuan is allowed to float, will be broadened to 1.5 to 2 per cent either way of the daily reference rate set by the PBOC. The official announcement could come as early as this month, they say, before President Xi Jinping makes his first trip to the United States after assuming power. When former president Hu Jintao visited the White House on January 19, 2011, the central parity rate fell by 66 basis points. Wang Tao, an economist at UBS Securities, said she was "puzzled" by the yuan's persistent appreciation as it was not supported by economic fundamentals. The country's trade surplus totalled US$43 billion in the first quarter but the surplus adjusted for overstated exports to Hong Kong was only US$2.4 billion, Wang said. With the current account surplus set to narrow and the growth of foreign direct investment likely to slow as the mainland economy gears down, further gains in the yuan should be limited, according to Wang. "We expect the fixing to stay around 6.20 at the end of this year, but it could end the year 1 to 2 per cent higher given the central bank's desire to boost the exchange rate and the possibility of the capital account liberalisation coming sooner rather than later," she said. The State Council last month announced that an operational plan to achieve full convertibility would be presented this year, indicating that steps towards a market-based exchange rate system and capital account liberalisation may be accelerated. The IMF estimates the actual value of the yuan was 4.214 to the dollar last year, based on purchasing power parity. But Joanne Yim, the chief economist at Hang Seng Bank, said the yuan was undervalued by 0.6 per cent to 10.1 per cent last year, depending on the approach used to calculate its true value. A 10 per cent strengthening of the yuan against the Hong Kong dollar could cause the city's consumer inflation to rise by about 0.5 percentage point, assuming a complete exchange rate pass-through to consumer prices, Yim said. […]. ^ top ^

China tops world in losing top-notch personnel (Xinhua)
2013-06-07
China would head a list of countries whose top-notch talents do not return to their home country after working or living overseas, said a report in Thursday's edition of the People's Daily. According to the title, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, most of the cases of lost high-caliber personnel involve people skilled in science and engineering, with an average rate of 87 percent of them choosing not to return. The People's Republic of China has developed a lot of very talented people since its founding in 1949, and as of 2010, China had 120 million people with outstanding occupational skills, the article said. With the rapid development of China's higher education, people who have been through university fill 12.5 percent of the country's total major labor force, it added. The Chinese government has introduced a slew of policies to nurture domestic talents and lure high-caliber workers from overseas, with more than 20,000 high-caliber overseas students having returned to China since the project was launched in 2008, it said. According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, there are 1,907 people worldwide classified as being in the top echelon of talents in the six fields of biology and biochemistry, computer science, physics, agriculture, mathematics, and chemistry. Of these top talents, China has the greatest representation in physics, mathematics and computer science. Liu Xutao, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said many Chinese talents choose to stay overseas for better scientific research conditions. Liu suggested that domestic departments should create more favorable situations for innovative scientific research when formulating policies to attract both domestic and international personnel. ^ top ^

Beijing sets up advisory body with multinationals (SCMP)
2013-06-07
Beijing has for the first time established an advisory council of multinational heavyweights to help the leadership keep a finger on the pulse of major corporations in vital industries. Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday held the first meeting with members of the new "Global CEO Advisory Council" - consisting of 14 business leaders who include the heads of Time Warner, IBM and Dell. While Li's predecessors Wen Jiabao and Zhu Rongji regularly sought contact with Western corporate executives and attended economic forums, this is the first time Beijing has established a mechanism in which global business leaders can have regular, private talks with top mainland officials. "The council will discuss issues related to globalisation and sustainable development with the Chinese government," said Christoph Ludewig, a Volkswagen China spokesman. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of Volkswagen, Europe's largest carmaker, attended the meeting with Li in Beijing. He told European media the group discussed China's strategy to develop its central and western regions. […] The mechanism will give Beijing a platform to directly lobby influential multinational leaders across different sectors in future trade disputes. Representatives of the world's largest mining company BHP Billiton, the French retailer Carrefour, the world's largest maker of vitamins Royal DSM and Standard Chartered Bank are members of the council, which is expected to meet once a year. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier reaffirms favorable conditions for foreign firms (Xinhua)
2013-06-07
China will continue to create fair, justified and open conditions for foreign businesses, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said in Chengdu on Thursday. Zhang made the remarks while meeting with attendees of the 2013 Fortune Global Forum, which opened on Thursday in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan province. […] While meeting with a group of former foreign leaders and scholars including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Zhang said China will adhere to a path of peaceful development, unswervingly pursue a mutually beneficial strategy and seek benefits for people in China and other parts of the world. […] In a meeting with senior executives of leading global companies, Zhang said China will make efforts to create fair, justified and open market regulations and environments. Zhang said China will implement an innovation-driven development strategy and support scientific innovation. Zhang said China encourages multinational companies to set up regional headquarters and R&D centers in China, as well as carry out research and development with Chinese institutions and businesses. China also encourages foreign investors to invest more in its industrial upgrading and in its central and western regions, Zhang said. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Kim Jong-un's plea for 'world class' ski resort in North Korea (SCMP)
2013-06-06
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has issued a national appeal to speed up work on a "world class" ski resort, which is being built as rival South Korea prepares to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Describing the Masik Pass resort in the northeast of the impoverished country as a "gigantic patriotic work", Kim urged greater effort to complete the project, which features 110 kilometres of multi-level ski runs, a hotel, a heliport and cable cars. The ruling Workers' Party "remains unchanged in its resolution to build a world-class skiing ground within this year", Kim said in an official message. The resort, which is being built by the military, will "provide the people and school youth and children with highly civilised and happy living conditions", he said. […] Despite a reported rise in staple food output, daily life for millions is an ongoing struggle with under-nutrition, according to a World Food Programme report. In February, the UN resident co-ordinator in North Korea, Desiree Jongsma, said two-thirds of its 24 million population were chronically food insecure and nearly 28 per cent of children under five ill from malnutrition. Kim paid a publicised "work guidance" visit to the Masik Pass resort last week and observers have offered a number of theories for why the resort has been made such a priority. Some speculate that the North might consider making a late bid to co-host some events of the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will take place in the South Korean resort of Pyeongchang. At the same time, it might be a genuine bid to boost tourism, which Pyongyang sees as a relatively risk-free way of earning much-needed foreign currency. ^ top ^

North Korea offers talks on reopening Kaesong industrial complex (SCMP)
2013-06-07
North and South Korea agreed in principle yesterday to hold their first official talks for years, signaling a possible breakthrough in cross-border ties after months of escalated military tensions. In a surprise offer, Pyongyang proposed discussions on a range of commercial and humanitarian issues, from reopening the Kaesong joint industrial complex to resuming cross-border family reunions. In an unusually quick reply, South Korea called for minister-level talks next Wednesday in Seoul, and urged the North to reopen severed communications channels for working-level discussions from today. "I hope... dialogue will provide a momentum for South and North Korea to improve relations based on mutual trust," South Korea's unification minister, Ryoo Kihl-jae, said. China, North Korea's sole major ally, reacted positively. "China is happy and welcomes [the fact] that [North and South Korea] agreed to resume their engagement and dialogue," said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei. But some analysts advised caution, saying the precise nature of the dialogue might create sticking points. "I think this is an attempt by the North to seize the initiative, but it's premature to say whether the offer is likely to lead to a sincere dialogue," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. Official contacts between Seoul and Pyongyang have been essentially frozen since South Korea accused the North of torpedoing one of its warships in March 2010 with the loss of 46 lives. […] South Korean President Park Geun-hye welcomed the North's gesture. "I hope this will serve as momentum for South and North Korea to solve various pending issues... through dialogue and build trust," she added. South Korea had already offered working-level talks on Kaesong and Seoul is likely to be wary of agreeing to a much wider-ranging agenda. While Park has spoken of the need for dialogue, she has made it clear - with US backing - that substantive talks would require the North to show commitment to abandoning its nuclear weapons programme. Pyongyang has insisted that its nuclear deterrent is not up for negotiation. […]. ^ top ^

 

Anna Boffo
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
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