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
  19-23.8.13, No. 489  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Yi Xiaozhun appointed as deputy chief of WTO (Xinhua)
2013-08-18
Yi Xiaozhun, China's permanent representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO), was appointed Saturday as deputy director-general of the WTO. Yi has worked on international trade issues since the 1980s. He was China's vice minister of commerce before taking office in Geneva as China's permanent representative to the organization in 2011. Besides Yi, the WTO's director-general elect Roberto Azevedo also named Germany's Karl-Ernst Brauner, Nigeria's Yonov Frederick Agah and the United States' David Shark as deputy director-generals. Azevedo said that the deputies had been selected because of their outstanding commitment to the multilateral trading system and their extensive experience on WTO issues over many years. They are expected to work directly with the director-general to advance the interests of the organization, including the preparations for the ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali. "The specific skills and experience of these deputies will be immensely valuable to advancing the effective and efficient functioning of the WTO," said Azevedo. The new director-general will begin his term on Sept 1 and his deputies on Oct 1. ^ top ^

Beijing, Moscow cooperate on floods (China Daily)
2013-08-19
China and Russia are working well together to fight flooding that is affecting both countries, the central government said on Sunday. Meanwhile, meteorologists warn that disaster control in Northeast China will be difficult in the coming week even though the heavy rainfall is expected to taper off. Beginning last week, continuous strong rainfall has caused the biggest flooding since 1998 in the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning. Swollen rivers have claimed at least 40 lives, with dozens missing and millions of other residents also affected by the disaster. Some have said that Russia's discharge of floodwaters from upstream reservoirs made controlling flooding in China more difficult, especially in Heilongjiang. But the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said on Sunday that Russia has paid close attention to the situation and worked with China on flood control efforts in the province. "When flooding hit its Zeya and Bureya rivers, (Russia) made a strong effort to hold the flooding in its reservoirs, greatly reducing the flood pressure on the main stream of the Heilong River," the office said. For instance, on Aug 2, the Zeya Reservoir saw a maximum inflow of water at 11,700 cubic meters per second but kept the outflow at 3,500 cu m per second. At Bureya Reservoir, the water inflow reached 5,050 cu m per second on Friday, but Russia kept its outflow at around 1,000 cu m per second. The remarks came after news reports that said China and Russia had accused each other of floodwater discharges that had worsened the flooding in the countries. Meanwhile, meteorologists at the National Meteorological center said the rainfall, which has been strong since earlier this month, will lessen in the coming week. From Monday to Thursday, Northeast China will see light to moderate rain, while eastern parts of Heilongjiang and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region will see heavy rain. Even so, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning are gearing up for even worse flooding. Among the big rivers in Heilongjiang, only the Wusuli River has had its water level below the danger level, said Hou Baijun, deputy director of the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters. All other rivers have reported their biggest floods since 1998. According to the provincial civil affairs department, the disaster has killed 11 people, destroyed 1.44 million hectares of crops, flattened 2,560 houses and affected nearly 2 million residents since Aug 10. Direct economic losses stood at 7.1 billion yuan ($1.16 billion), the department said. In nearby Jilin, at least 14 people have died in the disaster. The flood also cut off roads, damaged reservoir, and forced dozens of businesses to suspend production. In Liaoning, 15 flood-related deaths were reported in Fushun on Sunday, and 32 people disappeared after a torrential rain hit the region on Friday. More than 300,000 people in the city were affected by the disaster. "The water rose so fast that people couldn't prepare for it," said Chu Yongge, a native of Fushun's Qingyuan county. "At my courtyard, the flood rose to about 2 meters within minutes on Friday night." Hundreds were stranded on their rooftops for hours before emergency workers moved them to safe areas, he added. In addition to regional governments that delivered relief supplies, China's central authorities on Saturday sent relief supplies to flood-hit areas in the northeastern region. The National Commission for Disaster Reduction and the Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a Level IV emergency disaster relief response at 5 pm on Saturday, with a special work team sent to the region to guide local relief efforts. A total 3,000 tents, 5,000 cotton quilts, 2,000 folding beds and 3,000 sleeping bags were delivered to disaster victims. ^ top ^

Chang meets Hagel for Sino-US Pentagon talks (SCMP)
2013-08-20
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, in his first Pentagon meeting with his Chinese counterpart, faces a familiar agenda marked with tensions over US missile defences, Chinese cyberattacks and other issues. But if the talks follow form, they will be wrapped in public expressions of goodwill and pledges of cooperation. General Chang Wanquan, the Chinese defence chief, is at the Pentagon for a series of meetings with Hagel. Hagel is presiding over a Pentagon making a deliberate pivot to Asia after more than a decade of wars in the greater Middle East, and improving ties with China is at the heart of the Obama administration's Asia strategy. “While the US and China will have our differences – on human rights, Syria, and regional security issues in Asia – the key is for these differences to be addressed on the basis of a continuous and respectful dialogue. It also requires building trust and reducing the risk of miscalculation, particularly between our militaries,” Hagel said in a speech at an Asian security conference in Singapore on June 1. Among the positive signs cited by US officials are US-China naval cooperation in anti-piracy exercises and China's acceptance of a US invitation to participate next year's Rim of the Pacific military exercise, the region's largest naval exercise. Hagel has accepted China's invitation to visit Beijing next year. Defence officials attribute the current upswing in US-China military relations in part to the US and Chinese presidents' summit in California in June, which was an attempt to set a positive tone despite Washington's growing anxiety about Chinese cybertheft. Chinese officials have dubbed the summit a new starting point for relations. But there was no accord on cybersecurity during that summit. Obama confronted Xi Jinping with specific evidence of intellectual property theft the US says is emanating from China. Xi said China was also a victim of cyberattacks but did not publicly acknowledge his own country's alleged activities. The topic is likely to be high on the agenda for Monday's Pentagon meetings. Chang spent Friday in Hawaii for talks at US Pacific Command and was at US Northern Command in Colorado over the weekend. A Northern Command spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis, said the visit was a chance for Chang and General Chuck Jacoby, the commander of Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Command, “to share views on how the military provides support to civil authorities during man-made or natural disasters.” Also of US concern are disputes between China and several other Asia nations, including the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam, over South China Sea territorial boundaries and resources. Another source of tension is China's handling of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. During high-level US-China talks in Washington in July, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said the US was very disappointed that Beijing and semi-autonomous Hong Kong refused to extradite Snowden before he flew to Russia. ^ top ^

China's top political advisor meets ROK delegation (Xinhua)
2013-08-20
China's top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng met with a delegation from the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Monday. The delegation, led by former Prime Minister Lee Soo-song, is attending the 13th China-ROK Elite Forum scheduled on Tuesday in Beijing. Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), hailed the fast growth of bilateral exchanges and cooperation in all areas since the establishment of diplomatic relations. He said China will use the visit of ROK President Park Geun-hye as an opportunity, and work with ROK to jointly promote cooperation in various areas, and to strive for denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, as well as peace and stability in northeast Asia. Lee called on the two countries to continue to expand cooperation and strengthen their strategic partnership of cooperation. He said ROK will work with China to endeavor for lasting peace in the region. Jointly sponsored by the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs and 21st Century ROK-China Exchange Association, the forum is alternatively hosted by China and ROK every year. ^ top ^

China, Kazakhstan vow to enhance strategic partnership (Xinhua)
2013-08-20
China and Kazakhstan on Monday expressed the desire to further enhance pragmatic cooperation and build a stronger strategic partnership. Kazakhstan is eagerly awaiting the scheduled state visit in September by Chinese President Xi Jinping, and is ready to work with the Chinese side to lift the two countries' comprehensive strategic partnership to a new height, Kazakh Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov told visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting here on Monday. The Kazakh leader noted that pragmatic cooperation between the two countries has developed rapidly with a sound momentum, adding that there is still great potential for bilateral cooperation in areas like economy and trade, energy, agriculture and transportation. Wang said that President Xi's upcoming visit to Kazakhstan, the first since he took office early this year, is of great significance to the long-term development of Sino-Kazakh relations. He expressed hope that both sides would seize this opportunity to lay a solid foundation for their comprehensive strategic partnership. In a separate meeting with his Kazakh counterpart Erlan Idrisov here on Monday, Wang pointed out that as a large developing country, China would mainly focus on its own development. Meanwhile, it is also willing to shoulder due responsibilities in safeguarding world peace and development. "China's development is a reinforcement of the force for world peace," said the top Chinese diplomat. Idrisov said that as one of China's neighboring countries, Kazakhstan hopes to see China play a more important role in both international and regional affairs. Wang also met with Karim Masimov, head of the Kazakh Presidential Administration, in Astana the same day. ^ top ^

US 'pivot' must not target China, defence minister warns (SCMP)
2013-08-21
Defence minister General Chang Wanquan has urged Washington not to target China in its "pivot" towards Asia, its term for its diplomatic and military shift towards the Pacific. Chang - on his first trip to the United States as minister - reiterated China's pledge not to make concessions on its core interests. He also struck a positive note, vowing, after three hours of talks with US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, to boost military ties with the US. Chang's trip comes amid bitter territorial disputes between China and its neighbours, including Japan in the East China Sea and Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea. Beijing has been irked by US efforts to strengthen its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region - a move it has perceived as an effort by Washington to back Beijing's rivals in the disputes. The increased military activities of the US further complicated the security situation in the region and Washington's presence in Asia should not "target a specific country in the region", Chang told reporters. Both nations should respect each other's vital interests and refrain from "imposing one's will on the other, or gaining one's own interests at the expense of the interests of the other", Chang said. For his part, Hagel reiterated that the US did not take sides in the disputes, but said that the controversies should be settled without coercion. Chang said Beijing wanted to resolve the disputes through dialogue, but on the basis that its core interests were safeguarded. "No one should fantasise that China would barter away our core interests. And no one should underestimate our will and determination in defending our territory, sovereignty and maritime rights," he said. It is imperative for countries in the region to keep peace and stability in mind and balance the security concerns of different countries, Chang said. Meanwhile, Hagel said he would visit China next year and Chang affirmed that the Chinese navy would for the first time join the biennial Rim of the Pacific multinational exercises. "We both agreed that our military-to-military relationship is an important component of our overall bilateral relations and that the current military relationship is gaining a good momentum," Chang said. Chang met the head of the US Pacific Command in Hawaii on Friday and the head of the Northern Command on Saturday. This weekend, Chinese naval forces will take part in an anti-piracy exercise with US ships in the Gulf of Aden. The talks touched on cybersecurity, a contentious issue as each side has been accused of spying on the other, with former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden claiming the US was monitoring a large amount of China's communications. Chang said Beijing was opposed to any cyberworld arms race and to "double standards", which was seen as a reference to NSA surveillance. Yue Gang, a retired colonel, said the talks between the two military leaders lowered the possibility of either country misjudging the strategic intentions of the other. "Chang has clearly explained to the US the bottom line of China's core interests," Yue said. "But suspicions will still linger because the two nations still lack mutual political trust.". ^ top ^

Beijing bolsters key alliance with envoy's Cambodia trip (SCMP)
2013-08-21
Foreign Minister Wang Yi has begun a two-day visit to Cambodia, a trip analysts say is intended to bolster a key Beijing ally in Southeast Asia amid Washington's growing interest in the region. Wang will meet Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and hold talks with his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong. The trip comes just days after Beijing announced its latest US$14 million gift to the country - four container scanners to use at border checkpoints. Cambodia has long been one of China's most important allies in the region, receiving nearly US$3 billion in development aid from Beijing over the past two decades. The relationship has taken on new significance in light of increased involvement in Southeast Asia by the US and other Western nations. Phnom Penh has provided key support to Beijing in its territorial disputes in the South China Sea. But analysts say the allies must be careful not to repeat the experience of Myanmar, where the public has grown suspicious of Beijing's intentions. "In fact, the relationship between China and Cambodia is so close that there are concerns over [the] influence that China has over Cambodia," said Heng Pheakdey, founding director of the Enrich Institute for Sustainable Development. "China's money does come with some string[s] attached in [the] form of business and political favours. "While Cambodia needs China's money for economic growth, China needs Cambodia for strategic and political reasons," said Heng Pheakdey, who has written extensively on Sino-Cambodian relations. China also remains Cambodia's largest foreign investor and a vital trading partner. Chinese companies are active in infrastructure, resource extraction and energy generation, despite charges of unfair and unsustainable practises by human rights and environmental activists. In December, Cambodian Petrochemical Company and China Perfect Machinery Industry jointly announced the construction of Cambodia's first oil refinery, which is expected to be completed by 2015. Heng Pheakdey said many of China's investment projects - particularly those in the energy and natural resource sectors - have often been associated with poor quality and a lack of consideration for social and environmental impacts. China's challenge was thus to rebuild its image as a good partner by promoting sustainable development. "China needs to focus more on quality rather than quantity," Heng Pheakdey said. Bernt Berger, head of the Asia programme at the Institute for Security and Development Policy, said the visit was not likely to lead to many new developments. But he said the relationship between Beijing and Phnom Penh was strong and at less risk of being weakened by increased US involvement, compared with countries like Myanmar. "Beijing does them favours, and they do favours back," Berger said. ^ top ^

Chinese fleet sets sail for joint drills (China Daily)
2013-08-21
Three Chinese naval vessels set sail for the United States, Australia and New Zealand on Tuesday to take part in a series of military drills involving more than a dozen countries. The Chinese fleet — comprising the Qingdao guided-missile destroyer, the Linyi missile frigate and the Hongzehu, a large supply ship — departed from Qingdao, Shandong province, for waters near Hawaii, where it will participate in a search-and-rescue drill with the US navy. In Australia, the fleet will take part in a drill with member countries from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It will also join in a commemorative parade of international vessels. Xu Hongmeng, deputy commander of the navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, said the trip is an "important mission of military diplomacy" for the Chinese navy this year. The trip will boost the Chinese navy's ability to carry out an array of missions and will deepen friendships with the US, Australia and New Zealand, Xu said. China's fleet, which also includes a helicopter and a 680-strong crew, will travel a total of about 16,000 nautical miles. The trip also serves to build consensus between China and the US and help shape relations between the two countries, said Wei Gang, commander of the fleet and chief of staff of the PLA navy's North China Sea Fleet. The fleet's trip to Australia will broaden its military communications with ASEAN members, Wei said. The Qingdao destroyer has been a consistent presence in the Chinese navy's diplomatic missions, having already visited 21 countries and 24 ports. It is the first diplomatic mission for the Linyi missile frigate, which has a full load displacement of 4,000 metric tons. The Hongzehu, the first comprehensive depot ship that went into service in 1981, has a full load displacement of 22,000 tons. ^ top ^

China, Jamaica pledge to enhance cooperation (Xinhua)
2013-08-21
China and Jamaica on Wednesday pledged to enhance their cooperation in all areas including trade, agriculture, infrastructure construction and environmental protection. The pledge was made during a meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his Jamaican counterpart Portia Simpson Miller, who was invited by Li to visit China from Aug. 20 to 25. Li said Jamaica is a friendly and important partner of China in the Caribbean area. The two countries have huge potential for cooperation. He called on the two to strengthen cooperation in areas such as trade, agriculture, new energy, education, health care and sports, and promised to encourage and support Chinese companies to participate in programs beneficial to Jamaica's economy and people's livelihood. He also hoped the Jamaican government would implement more favorable policies and take effective measures to protect the safety and legal interests of Chinese citizens and companies. Simpson Miller applauded the remarkable progress the two countries have witnessed in bilateral relations, and expressed appreciation over China's long-term assistance and support to the Caribbean. She said Jamaica will strengthen communication and coordination with China and expand cooperation. As for the relations between China and Caribbean countries, Li said China will continue to view the relations from the strategic standpoint, and endeavor to push forward comprehensive cooperation. Saying Jamaica is an important country in the Caribbean area, Li hoped Jamaica would continue to play a positive role in China-Caribbean relations. The premier said China will also strengthen dialogue, exchanges and cooperation with small islands countries including Jamaica on climate change and environmental protection. Simpson Miller said Jamaica will work with China to cope with global challenges such as the climate change, and promote the development of Jamaica-China relations and Caribbean-China relations. After their hour-long talks at the Great Hall of the People, the two prime ministers witnessed the signing of cooperation deals involving economy and technology, education and infrastructure construction. ^ top ^

China to continue to support UN: new envoy (Xinhua)
2013-08-22
China will continue to firmly support the United Nations to play its due role in international affairs, the country's new envoy to the world body said Wednesday. China is willing, together with other countries, to make unremitting efforts for the lofty cause of promoting human peace and development, said Liu Jieyi, the new Chinese permanent representative to the UN. "The United Nations is the most universal and representative inter-governmental organization in the world," said Liu, who arrived at New York on Tuesday to replace Li Baodong. The world body is also an important platform for all countries to address global challenges, achieve mutual benefit and win-win results, and build a harmonious world with lasting peace and common prosperity, Liu said. Liu joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in 1987. From 1995 to 1998, he served as counsellor in China's permanent mission to the UN. He was appointed assistant minister of foreign affairs in 2007. From 2009 to 2013, he was vice-minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. ^ top ^

China slams McCain over Diaoyu (Global Times)
2013-08-23
China Thursday rejected remarks by US Senator John McCain describing the Diaoyu Islands as "Japan's territory," accusing him of complicating the regional situation. "The Diaoyu Islands have been China's inherent territory. Any people's attempts to deny the fact are futile," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told the Global Times in a statement. "We urge the relevant US Senator to stop making irresponsible remarks that would further complicate the issue and regional situation," he added. At a press conference on Wednesday in Tokyo after his meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, McCain expressed his support for Japan in its island row with China. "The fact is the Chinese are violating fundamental rights that Japan has to the Senkakus (Diaoyu Islands). I think it would be a mistake to treat it any other way," he said, according to Japan's Kyodo News. "To assume anything but the fact that the Senkakus are Japanese territory, I think, would be contradictory to the facts," he said. McCain also said nations feeling increasingly threatened by China's maritime presence "need to act in closer coordination with each other" and present a united front to China. Onodera expressed appreciation for a US Senate resolution in late July expressing concern about Chinese actions in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. McCain's remarks represent a breach of Washington's stance that it does not take a position on the China-Japan island row, Su Hao, director of the Asia-Pacific Research Center at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times. He said that although McCain's comments do not represent the position of the US government, they would still have a negative impact on the bilateral relationship between China and the US as he is a very influential politician. "China-US relations are witnessing positive signs, especially after Chinese defense minister Chang Wanquan's recent visit to the US," Su said, but noted McCain's remarks could damage efforts at developing diplomatic and security ties between Beijing and Washington. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Liu Tienan investigated for taking bribes (Xinhua)
2013-08-18
Liu Tienan, a former deputy chief of China's top economic planning body, has been put under judicial investigation, suspected of taking bribes, authorities said on Sunday. The Supreme People's Procuratorate has decided to open an investigation into the case of Liu and has imposed "compulsory measures" on him. Liu, a former deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, was dismissed from his post in May over suspected involvement in "serious disciplinary violations." Earlier this month, Liu was expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) and removed from public office. The CPC's discipline watchdog said it has found Liu "took advantage of his position to seek profits for others, and both Liu and his family accepted huge amount of bribes." Liu has also been found to "seek benefits for his relatives' businesses by breaking relevant regulations, accept cash and gifts." Liu was also "morally degenerate", according to the CPC. ^ top ^

Bo Xilai to go on trial on corruption and power abuse charges (SCMP)
2013-08-19
The long-awaited trial of disgraced Politburo member Bo Xilai will open on Thursday in the capital of Shandong province, Xinhua reported yesterday. Bo, whose downfall last year was China's most explosive political scandal in decades, will stand trial in the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan for alleged bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. "The open trial will start at 8.30am on August 22 at its 5th courtroom," Xinhua said, quoting the court announcement. It was not clear whether Gu Kailai, Bo's lawyer wife who received a suspended death sentence over the murder of Briton Neil Heywood, would testify. "It cannot be ruled out that Gu will testify at the hearing," said a legal source with direct knowledge of the case, adding the family members of both Bo and Gu would possibly attend the trial. The source said the trial was likely to last longer than one day. Another source with close ties to the Bo family said that Bo, who has been in detention since April last year, gave authorities a list of five family members he would like to attend his trial. They are elder brother Bo Xiyong; son Li Wangzhi from his first marriage; younger sister Bo Xiaoying; and younger brothers Bo Xicheng and Bo Xining. Gu Wangjiang, Gu Kailai's sister, is also likely to attend the hearing after the authorities rejected the request of their mother Fan Chengxiu to appear in the courtroom, said the source. The source, a lawyer who has known Bo's family for years, said the abuse of power charge the former Chongqing party chief faced related to his sacking of his former right-hand man, Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun, without Ministry of Public Security approval. A mainland media source said the charge also related to his attempt to cover up his wife's murder case. Wang, who was removed from his post in February, fled to the US consulate in Chengdu days after his removal where he reportedly revealed key evidence in Heywood's murder. The other charges mainly refer to Bo taking roughly 20 million yuan (HK$25.3 million) in bribes, including a villa in Cannes, France, worth about 15 million yuan bought by Xu Ming, a businessman who is now in custody over his ties to Bo. Bo is also accused of embezzling about five million yuan when governing Dalian, Liaoning province, in the 1990s. Given the amounts involved, Bo might receive a relatively lenient sentence, legal expert Guo Daohui said. "Bo won't end up too badly," said Guo, comparing the sum to the amount of money involved in the case of former railways minister Liu Zhijun. Liu was given a suspended death sentence for abusing his office and accepting bribes and gifts worth 64.6 million yuan. ^ top ^

Organ distribution system to be enforced (Global Times)
2013-08-19
A computer-based system to distribute donated organs for transplant will be compulsorily brought into use at 165 accredited hospitals nationwide, according to a new regulation to take effect from September. The regulation is to ensure fairness and transparency during organ allocation. Issued by the National Health and Family Planning Commission on donated organ procurement and allocation, the regulation was handed down to provincial health authorities over the weekend. "Organ allocations outside the computer-based China Organ Transplant Response System will be forbidden after the regulation aimed at eradicating organ trafficking takes effect," Zhou Jun, a deputy head of the commission's Department of Medical Administration and Medical Service Supervision, was quoted by the Beijing News as saying Sunday. The system was put into use on a trial basis in 2011, one year after the country piloted a voluntary organ donation program. By July, the system had distributed 770 organs for transplant on the Chinese mainland, accounting for a third of the donated organs nationwide, indicating a lack of transparency in the allocation process for the remaining two thirds. "The system can avoid misuse as it automatically matches the patient after processing the information," said Yao Di, who is in charge of updating the system's information from the Wuhan-based Hubei General Hospital, one of the accredited hospitals. "The system has plenty of specifications requiring patients' various information," Yao said, adding that information on donated organs is also put in the system. The regulation also stipulates that health authorities on the provincial level should establish at least one organ procurement organization, where professional doctors and nurses will be responsible for the whole process including evaluating potential donors, signing donation agreements, preserving organs and delivering them. It also requires that hospitals must brief the appointed procurement organization about potential donors and that each organization only has a jurisdiction of providing services to the hospitals allocated to it. Zhang Wei, a deputy director of the division of medical administration under the Guangdong provincial health department, said the setup of this organization should be on a regional basis. Speaking on donor's death, Zhou said the procedure must be strictly standardized and should be set up by the provincial health authorities, the Beijing Times reported Sunday. Yao said that her hospital has attached much importance to the organ donation and transplant project since March, when Huang Jiefu, director of the Organ Transplant Committee under the commission, called for an expansion of the trial project. However, the project at her hospital is currently in a transitional period as their organ transplant ward is still under the urology department. "We don't have any procurement organization in the province and hospitals are taking part in establishing it," Yao told the Global Times. ^ top ^

Floods, typhoon leave 105 dead, 115 missing in China (Xinhua)
2013-08-19
A total of 105 people died and another 115 are missing after floods ravaged northeast China and a typhoon lashed southern regions, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Monday. Northeastern China's Liaoning Province and south China's Guangdong Province have reported the most number of casualties from the disasters, with 54 deaths and 22 deaths respectively as of 9 a.m. Monday. Rain-triggered floods that started to hit northeast China on Wednesday also left 15 and three people dead in Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces respectively, the ministry said, citing reports from local agencies. Ninety-seven and six people are missing respectively in Liaoning and Jilin. The floods have caused total crop failure to more than 256,000 hectares of farmland in northeast China, one of the country's major breadbaskets. Typhoon Utor continued to wreak havoc in China's southern regions after making landfall Wednesday in Guangdong and has killed 22 people, with eight more missing in the province. Neighboring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Hunan Province reported six and five deaths from the typhoon respectively. Besides damaging houses and farmland, the floods and typhoon affected 3.72 million people in northeast China and 8.37 million in the south, including 6.67 million in Guangdong, according the the ministry. The disasters have caused direct economic losses of 9.86 billion yuan (1.6 billion U.S. dollars) in northeast China and more than 10 billion yuan in south China's Guangdong, Guangxi and Hunan, with 8.63 billion in Guangdong alone. ^ top ^

Xi demands all-out efforts to help flood victims (Xinhua)
2013-08-19
Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded all-out efforts in putting people's lives first as the country's northeast combats the worst floods in more than a decade. Xi asked local authorities and armed forces to guard against risks and save people's lives. Since Aug. 14, persistent downpours have caused the worst floods since 1998 in Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, also the heartland of China's grain production. By 4 p.m. Monday, 85 people were confirmed dead and 105 were missing. Some 3.74 million people have been affected, with direct economic losses totaling 16.14 billion yuan (2.6 billion U.S. dollars). Although the floods have passed their peak, the outlook remains grim for autumn. Premier Li Keqiang has also urged local authorities to relocate people and help them during the post-flood reconstruction. Official data showed floods have forced the relocation of 360,000 people, toppled more than 60,000 houses and affected 787,200 hectares of farmland. During Aug. 16-19, Vice Premier Wang Yang visited Heilongjiang Province, the nation's biggest grain-growing province, demanding scientific approaches to achieve bumper harvests amid the floods. Authorities should prepare for the worst to prevent dykes and reservoirs from being breached, he said. ^ top ^

Unusual appraisal of activists by state media (SCMP)
2013-08-20
An editorial in the mainland state media hit out at two detained activists for breaking the law, but at the same time made an unusual admission that the government has not worked out how to handle dissenting voices that increasingly challenge Communist Party rule. The editorial in the Global Times was the state media's first mention of the detention of the two prominent human rights advocates, Guo Feixiong and Xu Zhiyong. The tabloid, affiliated with the People's Daily, said the activists were "intoxicated with their courage" and their activities posted a threat to social stability. Guo, also known as Yang Maodong, was detained on August 8 on a charge of disrupting public order in Guangdong. Xu was detained by Beijing police in July on a charge of "gathering a crowd to disturb order in public places". "Obviously, China has not found a mature way to deal with these confrontational individuals," the editorial said. "On the one hand, they play a new role in society and what they do is not all negative. But on the other hand, they pose a danger to the current social governance system and long-term social stability," it said. Dr Xigen Li, an associate professor at City University's department of media and communication, said it was a positive move for state-controlled media to turn their eye on human rights activists in China as their existence "is a phenomenon that the government cannot ignore and has to deal with in a constructive manner". ^ top ^

Xi pushes unified thinking ahead of crucial party meeting (SCMP)
2013-08-21
President and Communist Party chief Xi Jinping has on called propaganda officials to present more a cohesive message to cadres and the public. The call comes amid intensifying debate over the nation's future in the run-up to a crucial party meeting in the autumn and just days before the trial of former Politburo member Bo Xilai is set to begin. Xi made the appeal in a speech delivered to a national conference on ideology and propaganda held in Beijing on Monday and yesterday. It was attended by top central and regional party ideology officials, media censors and regulators. In recent months, reformists have been locked in a debate with leftists over the merits of constitutionalism - where power is checked by higher laws - versus supreme party authority. Before his fall from grace last March, Bo championed a "red" campaign pushing Maoist nostalgia, and his trial will be closely watched for how the party treats corruption among its own. Analysts said Xi had shown greater interest in party ideology of late. "Xi appears to be more eager now than before in taking charge of ideological work," said Zhang Lifan, a political affairs analyst formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In the speech, Xi said that ideology should ensure the "correct political direction" is followed when major issues involving political principles arise. He did not elaborate. Xi, who became general secretary of the party's Central Committee in the leadership reshuffle in November, said greater efforts must be made to help cadres and citizens draw a clear line between right and wrong, according to Xinhua. He said party members and cadres should firmly adhere to their belief in Marxism and communism. Ideology was "an extremely important job for the party", he said. Officials and cadres involved in propaganda and ideology should maintain the correct political stance and promote key decisions made by the Central Committee. "[They] must resolutely maintain unity with the Communist Party Central Committee and resolutely safeguard the authority of the party's Central Committee, Xi said. China was faced with unprecedented challenges, propaganda departments should "consolidate and strengthen mainstream thinking and opinion … to spread the positive energy and thus arouse the whole society to unify and work together", he said. One important principle of propaganda and ideology was to adhere to "unity, stability and encouragement" and to carry out "positive reporting". He said the media should report on global new developments so as to allow Chinese to better understand the world. Xi also called for renewed effort to increase China's "soft power" overseas. After the speech, Chinese Academy of Governance professor Wang Yukai told Xinhua: "There is a crisis of belief in the society. Improvement in propaganda and ideological work will help build consensus and safeguard social stability.". ^ top ^

Graft amid lowly Chinese officials worse than by party elite (SCMP)
2013-08-21
Corruption among "flies" - lowly officials - is more harmful than that of high-ranking "tigers", a new report by a government think tank says. "Flies" deal directly with the grass roots and their "undesirable work style" such as abuse of power can severely undermine the image of the Communist Party and government, according to the report, carried by the Beijing Times yesterday. "Compared to tigers, flies are huge in number, and can spread bacteria over a wider range. Therefore their damage is far more extensive," the newspaper quoted the report on social crisis published jointly by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Shanghai Jiaotong University. Flies and tigers became a popular metaphor when the party's general secretary, President Xi Jinping vowed in January to crack down on corruption at all levels. "We should persist in beating tigers in tandem with the flies," Xi told a meeting of the central graft watchdog. "This shows corruption … at grass-root levels remains the focal point of China's anti-graft work," the report says. "Beating flies is relatively easier but it must be a long-lasting practice given the sheer number of flies." The report aroused lively debate on the internet. Some criticised it as being misleading about the mainland's corruption problem. "It is tigers who are shielding the flies. It's impossible to remove all the flies without targeting tigers," said one widely followed microblogger on Sina Weibo. ^ top ^

Wife makes plea for jailed activist Yang Maodong to Xi (SCMP)
2013-08-21
The wife of a recently detained human rights activist issued an open letter to President Xi Jinping calling for the release of her husband and the implementation of the constitution. Zhang Qing, wife of legal reform advocate Yang Maodong, said she had been stricken by despair since learning of her husband's detention on August 8 and wanted to lodge a strong protest. Yang, better known by his pen name Guo Feixiong, was detained on a charge of "assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place", the US-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders said. "I want to tell you and tell the world about the brutal suffering of a prisoner of conscience Guo Feixiong over the past 10 years," wrote Zhang, who is living in Texas with her daughter. Zhang said she once had a "sliver of hope" that human rights and the rule of law would be respected in China when Xi expressed his commitment to "firmly establishing the constitution" shortly after being installed as Communist Party chief in November. The remarks were seen by advocates of political reform as evidence that Xi might be willing to consider making the party subservient to the law. "But we have now been dealt a severe blow, and we are in despair," said Zhang, who said that her daughter was also shocked by Yang's detention. "Mr Xi Jinping, you also have a daughter. Could you please tell me how I should talk to and comfort my daughter in such an environment?" she asked. Zhang had previously written eight open letters to Chinese leaders, but received no reply, as she had expected. "I will not give up working hard, no matter whether or not I get a response," she said. Yang was sentenced to five years in prison in 2007 after writing about political corruption. He was released in September 2011. Zhang told the South China Morning Post that authorities have not replied to a request by Yang's lawyer for a meeting with him. "We want to have a meeting with him as soon as possible to find out on what grounds and circumstances he is detained, and find out how is he now," she said. "It is a difficult time for me now." Rights groups have reported a crackdown on political activists since Xi was formally appointed president in March, saying at least 24 activists had been detained. The activists include lawyer Xu Zhiyong, who called for the release of activists who were arrested for demanding that government officials disclose their assets. ^ top ^

Network for organ donations in China to end prison harvesting (SCMP)
2013-08-21
A computerised system to match transplant organs to patients and end the reliance on harvesting organs from executed criminals and the black market is being introduced on the mainland. Sweeping reforms designed to ensure a fair and transparent system also mean that organ donation co-ordinators will be required to obtain professional qualifications. The new system, similar to the United Network for Organ Sharing in the United States, will be introduced from September 1, according to national health commission officials. It will allocate organs through a centralised computer network among the 165 mainland hospitals allowed to carry out transplants, Xinhua reported. Doctors who use organs other than those obtained from the centralised sharing network will be disqualified. The new rules will give mainland hospitals an open, unified and fair platform to share organs donated by volunteer donors. Up until now, hospitals have had to source organs through their own channels and were reluctant to share with each other. Decisions on allocation are often opaque and arbitrary, giving rise to corruption and abuses. A veteran organ transplant surgeon at a military hospital yesterday hailed the network as a significant improvement because "all the donated organs - even those obtained from executed prisoners - will enter a sharing network and be allocated to the patients most in need". He said it would also encourage more people to become organ donors as they could be sure their donation would be used in a fair and transparent way. "Probably, in less than two years, the reliance on death row inmates will be gone," he said. China now conducts more than 10,000 organ transplants each year, with only the US carrying out more. It is the only large country that still systematically uses organs harvested from executed prisoners. Former deputy health minister Huang Jiefu, who still heads the ministry's organ transplant office, wrote in the medical journal The Lancet last year that 65 per cent of transplant operations on the mainland used organs from deceased donors, of which 90 per cent were executed prisoners. Since the Supreme Court introduced stricter rules in 2007, the number of executed prisoners has declined, making the present system unsustainable. The harvesting of organs from executed prisoners also raised moral objections and doctors have urged the introduction of a more humane and fair system. In March 2010, a voluntary organ donation programme was launched in 11 provinces and cities including Tianjin, Shanghai, Nanjing, Xiamen, Wuhan and Guangdong under the supervision of the Red Cross. Donated organs now account for nearly 15 per cent of all organ transplants, from almost zero three years ago. Almost a fifth of these are donated kidneys, according to figures from the National Health and Family Planning Commission. Donation co-ordinators will have to be doctors and nurses with at least two years of clinical experience and will need to obtain a professional qualification. ^ top ^

Bo Xilai's day of reckoning in Jinan court finally arrives (SCMP)
2013-08-22
Tight security, strict press control and an unprecedented overseas media frenzy mark China's most politically charged trial in decades, which opens today in the eastern city of Jinan. Security is tight around the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, where former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, 64, faces charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power after his fall from grace last year. Mainland media organisations have received several gag orders from the state propaganda department, urging reporters "not to go to Jinan" and telling them to use only Xinhua articles. An editor of one media outlet said the authorities were especially nervous. "The common practice is to forbid reporters to report, but this time we can't even go to Jinan," he said. The rare trial of a former Politburo member and "princeling" son of a revolutionary hero has drawn the attention of international media, watching closely to see how the trial unfolds and whether Bo's wife, Gu Kailai - who was given a suspended death sentence for murdering Briton Neil Heywood - and his former top aide, Wang Lijun, will testify. As residents and reporters gathered at the court yesterday, dozens of police officers stood by, urging people to stay away. Still, some petitioners have come to Jinan to gain more media attention. Chen Sixue handed out leaflets and complained about what she called an unfair judgment on her husband's death in a street fight. "The judicial system is rotten and meaningless," she shouted, before being yanked away by police. The government has sought to project the trial as an example of how the judicial system has progressed by being more open. But a woman reading Bo's trial notice posted outside the court appeared unconvinced. "I don't think Bo is as bad as the authorities describe," said the 40-year-old Jinan native. "I read in the paper that the trial would be open to the public, but I can't even get close to the court." It is believed Sina Weibo and the official People's Daily's website have been chosen to provide live microblogging of the trial. ^ top ^

State media seizes on Egyptian chaos as lesson for reformists (SCMP)
2013-08-22
A People's Daily commentary has blamed the "failure" of the Egyptian revolution on its "premature democracy" and warned other developing nations against falling into such "democracy traps". Analysts said the claims were part of the campaign to quell calls for Western-style reforms in China. Yesterday's commentary was part of a campaign targeting reformists who advocate Western ideals such as democracy and constitutionalism, analysts said, and the chaos in Egypt has only given critics more ammunition. In recent weeks, nearly all major state-run media outlets, including the People's Daily, its affiliated tabloid Global Times and Xinhua, have carried similarly themed daily reports and commentaries. They argue the chaos in Egypt is the result of a Western political conspiracy and the inherent failings of democracy. Titled "Developing nations should be vigilant of democracy traps", the commentary said the deadly clashes between Egyptian armed police and thousands of protesters showed Egypt's two-year democratic transition had achieved nothing. "Two years after the revolution, the Egyptian people have enjoyed nothing from the benefits of democracy. What's worse, social stability and personal safety (which they had once enjoyed) have become a luxury beyond their reach," the commentary said. It was signed by Ding Long, an associate professor at the University of International Business and Economics. "Democratic transition is still premature for many developing countries whose economic and social development is not, at this point, suited for the transformation." Democratisation needed a "preparatory period", Ding said, and "a serious maladjustment of democracy may occur if developing countries indiscriminately copy Western democratic models". He said democracy often led to social division. In Egypt, the division is along secular and religious lines; in Thailand, between urban and rural populations. Last week, a Global Times editorial warned other nations to be "vigilant against earth-shaking revolution" and said China should also learn from the turbulence in Egypt. Xigen Li, an associate professor at the department of media and communication at City University of Hong Kong, said party ideologues were using the chaos in Egypt to delay political reform in China. "Articles like this are traps themselves that give people false perceptions about democracy," Li said. "By linking democracy with chaos, the authors suggest that democracy is a trap that should be avoided at any cost," Li said. It was a standard tactic used by pro-establishment academics who sought to denounce all democratic systems under the banner of Western political systems, Li said. Commentaries using such a tone were "just efforts to deter political reform and democratic progress in China, and are in no way helping China to develop in a harmonious and sustainable way," Li said. The authors of the editorials had not considered that the problems in Egypt and other developing nations arose not from adopting democracy but as a result of a failure to establish sound democratic institutions. More than 1,000 people, including soldiers and police, have been killed in the past week in a campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood. ^ top ^

New rule for organ distribution in China (China Daily)
2013-08-22
Donor organs must be distributed automatically through a national system, according to a new rule to take effect on September 1. The rule aims to prevent human intervention and ensure fairness and transparency in human organ distribution in China. The Regulation on the Procurement and Distribution of Donated Human Organs was publicized by the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Wednesday. Organs shall be obtained by organ procurement organizations (OPO) authorized by provincial health authorities, and distribution of the organs must be done through the China Organ Transplant Response System (www.cot.org.cn), the rule says. The system gives distribution results after sorting recipients based on the degree of their emergency and compatibility with transplantable organs. OPO will input clinical data of donors and donable organs into the system, and strictly follow directives regarding organs distribution automatically given by the system and ensure all transplantable organs are traceable, according to the rule. "No institution, organization or individual may distribute donated human organs without going through the system," it says. Those involved in any distribution of donated organs bypassing the national system, or failure to obey the directives given by the system, or cheating by fabricating clinical data, will be handled in accordance with the law and government rules. Medical institutions or practitioners who introduce potential organ donors to any institution, organization or individual other than OPO will be punished. Those who are suspected of having a role in the trade of donated human organs will also be dealt in accordance with the law and rules. China has the world's second-largest demand for organ transplants. About 300,000 patients suffer from organ failure each year, but only around 10,000 organ transplant operations are performed annually due to a lack of donors. China introduced an organ donation system in 2010, with the non-governmental Red Cross Society serving as an independent third party for supervising and facilitating donation procedures. As of August 9, a total of 2,742 organs had been donated via the system, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission. ^ top ^

Defiant Bo Xilai claims he was coerced into graft confession (SCMP)
2013-08-23
Bo Xilai put up a vigorous defence yesterday against corruption charges against him in China's biggest political trial in decades, saying he was coerced into making a false confession to graft investigators. The disgraced princeling - once considered the country's most powerful rising politician - was making his first public appearance in 18 months. His dramatic downfall and the magnitude of the case made yesterday's trial a global event with reporters from around the world flocking to the city of Jinan in Shandong. Bo, 64, in an open-necked white shirt and casual black trousers, looked tired and his hair was a little greyer around the temples. But the flamboyant former Politburo member and Chongqing party boss had lost none of his flair, strongly contesting charges that through wife Gu Kailai and son Bo Guagua he had amassed more than 20 million yuan (HK$25 million) in bribes and illicit assets. While the trial was not broadcast live, the court released frequent and detailed updates through its official microblogs. Bo was accused of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. Unlike his jailed wife, who quickly admitted murdering British businessman Neil Heywood, Bo opposed the pre-trial confession he gave to the investigators. He said he was pressurised by the graft officials, who asked him leading questions to extract a confession against his will. "I'm not a perfect man and I'm not always strong-willed," Bo said in a transcript released by Jinan Intermediate People's Court. "But I want to speak out the truth of my charges." Prosecutors focused on the allegations against Bo during his time as the leader in Dalian. They rolled out testimony from Bo's former business associates Tang Xiaolin and Xu Ming and his wife Gu. All three said Bo accepted bribes or told them to divert public money into his personal accounts. Bo dismissed the accusations with disdain. He called Tang a "lying mad dog" and said Gu's testimony was "comical and ridiculous". Bo admitted he and Gu had grown apart since 2007. But the disgraced politician reserved the worst of his wrath for Xu, the Dalian businessman thought to be his "money man". Bo showered Xu with sharp questions during the crossexamination session. The court official in the after-trial press conference described the exchange as "confrontational". Bo dominated the trial and almost appeared to be enjoying what could be his last public show. Some observers were surprised by how the hearing differed from other well-choreographed public trials. But a person with direct knowledge of the case said it showed the new leadership was prepared to take a hard stance. "As long as the case can be concluded before the meeting of the third plenum of the Central Committee, it will be a good ending for the leaders," he said. Five of Bo's family members - including his brother Bo Xiyong and elder son Li Wangzhi - attended the trial. But his younger son Bo Guagua did not appear. His elder son Li gave a statement to the Post last night, saying he was proud of his father. "He faced tremendous pressure but he still held up to his belief. History will prove the truth," he said. The trial continues today. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing police detain online 'rumour-mongers' in veiled warning to liberal opinion leaders (SCMP)
2013-08-21
Beijing police arrested four people on Tuesday in what state media called an attempt to “eradicate the breeding ground for internet rumours”. Police said Erma, a Beijing-based marketing company, spread rumours about poor governance and official corruption in China to increase their influence on social media and gain financial benefits. The arrests coincide with a concerted government campaign to discredit outspoken liberals and crack down on dissent since Xi Jinping became president. In April, a secret Communist Party Central Committee circular called on cadres to crack down on subversive forces within Chinese society. Rumours spread by Erma employees over the last few years have been widely shared by well-known “public intellectuals” and liberal commentators with many followers, Wu Boxin, a professor at the Peoples' Public Security University of China told the Beijing Times. He said those spreading the rumours have been linked with China's most prominent advocates of political reform. According to state media reports, Qin Zhihui, one of those detained on Tuesday on suspicion of "making trouble and operating an illegal business", had allegedly been previously employed by a company owned by Xue Biqun, a venture capitalist and prominent liberal internet commentator. Better known by his alias "Xue Manzi," the billionaire venture capitalist claims more than 12 million followers on the popular social media platform Weibo. Along with Internet entrepreneur Kai-fu Lee, fellow billionaire investor Wang Gongquan and economist Mao Yushi, Xue is well known in the Chinese cyberspace as one of the most prominent proponents of democratic reforms. State media have stepped up their criticism of these so-called "public intellectuals" in recent months. Repeated calls to Xue were not answered on Wednesday morning. Among the rumours allegedly spread by the company was a report that the Chinese government was offering 200 million yuan to the three foreign victims of the Wenzhou train crash two years ago, Xinhua said. The rumour went viral, leading to a statement by the Ministry of Railways saying Chinese and foreign victims would be equally compensated. Erma also spread rumours about Guo Meimei, the young woman whose online exhibition of luxury cars hurt the reputation of the Chinese Red Cross, Beijing Times said. The company has attempted to smear the reputation of revolutionary hero Lei Feng, the outspoken retired People's Liberation Army Major General Luo Yuan and Zhang Haidi, the chairwoman of the China Disabled Persons' Association, Xinhua said. Last Wednesday, a government-sponsored conference issued “seven bottom lines” on the use of social media, warning netizens not to harm the economy, the state or individuals. The internet has no future without the “seven bottom lines” the Beijing Youth Daily argued in an editorial on Monday. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai gets approval to set up free-trade zone (SCMP)
2013-08-23
Shanghai has won approval from the State Council to set up the mainland's first free-trade zone, moving it closer to becoming a global financial, trade and shipping hub to rival other Asian cities such as Hong Kong. The free-trade zone would also likely serve as a testing ground for the central government led by Premier Li Keqiang to launch major financial reforms as part of a plan to boost the service economy and cut reliance on exports. A general plan governing the operation of the free-trade zone that spans 28.78 square kilometres in Waigaoqiao, Yangshan and Pudong districts in Shanghai has yet to be released. Lawmakers needed to approve amendments to existing laws to legalise certain experiments, a statement posted on the Ministry of Commerce said yesterday. "Shanghai has its economic strength as well as geographical and political advantages in the greater China economic circle," said Professor Liu Yuanchun from Renmin University. "It's possible that as Shanghai's free-trade zone plan proceeds, Hong Kong's status as the region's financial centre might be weakened, but when that day may come is uncertain." The statement did not give more details about the plan. A free-trade zone, or free port, is where customs authorities allow the flow of goods unhindered with zero tariffs on imports. Sources said earlier that Li aimed to allow foreign banks to set up subsidiary or joint-venture operations and give permission for foreign commodities exchanges to own warehouses in the free-trade zone. Liu said Shanghai may change the mainland's yuan internationalisation course by luring business from Hong Kong, currently the country's major yuan offshore trading centre. "The most valuable part of the Shanghai free-trade zone plan is in the financial sector, such as allowing individuals to directly invest into overseas capital markets," Liu said. "Without free cross-border capital flows, there's no way Shanghai can really emerge as a global financial centre.". ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Scholar calls for DPP participation in cross-Strait dialogues (Xinhua)
2013-08-19
More people from Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should participate in non-official political talks across the Taiwan Strait, a mainland scholar said Monday. Cheng Siwei, president of the National Society of Taiwan Studies (NSTS), said such dialogues should be further promoted to enhance mutual understanding and political trust. Cheng was speaking at the opening ceremony of a three-day symposium on mainland-Taiwan relations in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province. The two sides should prioritize the overall interests of the whole Chinese nation, and constantly strengthen goodwill interactions based on the common political principles of "opposing Taiwan-independence" and the "1992 consensus," said Cheng. He also urged to deepen such dialogues by being more open in discussing various political issues. Such dialogues could "create conditions for dealing with complicated cross-Strait issues such as political relations, military security and external affairs," said Cheng, also former vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature. He called for "caring, respecting, understanding and trusting Taiwan compatriots, fully learning of their real needs, actively formulating new measures favoring the island, and improving the environment for Taiwanese to work, do business and tour in the mainland." The symposium, organized by NSTS, the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots, and the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, is being attended by more than 100 experts from the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. The annual symposium, launched in 1991, covered almost all topics concerning cross-Strait relations, according to Sun Yafu, vice director of both the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office. ^ top ^

 

Economy

US opens patent probe into Chinese medical device (Xinhua)
2013-08-20
The US International Trade Commission (ITC) on Monday initiated a patent investigation into a Chinese medical device company and its two US entities. The products at issue are medical systems used in the treatment of sleep-disordered breathing, particularly obstructive sleep apnea, the ITC said in a statement. The probe is based on a complaint filed by ResMed Corp on July 19, who claimed Section 337 violations involving patents infringement, and requested a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders, the federal bipartisan panel said. The investigation does not mean the ITC, a second government body, has made any decision on the merits of the case. Within 45 days, the body will set a target date for completing the investigation. Should the complaint be approved, the panel will issue remedial orders, such as a ban on importation of accused products. The United States has launched several antidumping, countervailing and Section 337 investigations against Chinese products this year. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has repeatedly urged Washington to abide by its commitment against protectionism and help maintain a free, open and just international trade environment. As the US economy is undergoing a slow recovery, protectionist practices by the world's largest economy are on the rise. Washington maintained in November 117 antidumping(AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders on imports of a wide range of Chinese products, including consumer goods, steel products, agricultural products, seafood and chemicals. ITC alleged these products were sold at less than fair value in the US market and domestic industry was materially injured by imports of these products. ^ top ^

Chinese government resolute in cutting red tape (Xinhua)
2013-08-22
The Chinese government on Wednesday vowed to strictly restrain itself from adding new administrative procedures in approving business projects as part of its campaign of cutting red tape to boost the market economy. According to a statement released after a State Council's executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang, the government will not add new procedures in approving business investment, manufacturing and qualifications. "It will help prevent the hidden reemergence of red tape, reduce business burdens, spur market vitality and promote social equality," the statement said. "As long as the technical standards can judge projects, administrative approvals are prohibited," it said. China's new cabinet has pledged to reduce red tape by freeing up about one third of items within the government's grasp previously, as Premier Li reiterated that the market is the creator of social wealth and the source of self-sustaining economic development. The government has canceled or delegated power to lower levels for 183 items previously subject to central government administrative approval. At Wednesday's meeting, the government vowed to strengthen evaluation and supervision of the necessary administrative approval procedures. Before decisions are made, all voices should be heard and hearings should reflect people's real opinions, the statement said. Also at the meeting, the State Council listened to a report on the oversight of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). It vowed to strengthen the supervision of SOEs and make their operations more transparent. SOEs should preserve and increase the values of state-owned assets, honor their social responsibilities and play their backbone role in upgrading the Chinese economy, the statement said. ^ top ^

China ranks top target of EU punitive trade measures: report (Xinhua)
2013-08-22
China has become the top target of the European Union's punitive trade measures in the first seven months of 2013, according to the latest report issued by the European Commission on Wednesday. All of the Union's four anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations from January 1 to July 31 were targeted against China, said the report. The investigations covered products including seamless steel pipes, solar glass and agglomerated stone. Meanwhile, five of the seven definitive duties imposed by the EU were against Chinese products ranging from steel products to kitchenware. Currently there are 84 anti-dumping and 10 countervailing measures in force in the EU, according to the report. At the end of July, 36 investigations were on-going. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

North Korea agrees to hold family reunions with South Korea (SCMP)
2013-08-19
North Korea said it has agreed to South Korea's proposal to resume reunions for families separated since the 1950-53 war, in another apparent sign of easing tensions. The North has agreed to hold the event during the traditional Chuseok holiday that falls on September 19 as suggested by the South, Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement in official media. It also proposed a separate round of indirect family reunions via video conference around October 4, the anniversary of the 2007 inter-Korean summit, said the statement on the North's official news agency. The move came days after the South's President Park Geun-hye last Thursday urged Pyongyang to "open its heart" and agree to hold the first family reunions since 2010. Officials of the Red Cross from both sides would meet on August 23 as proposed by Seoul to discuss details, the North said, suggesting the Mount Kumgang resort in the North as the venue for the talks. "Now is the time for the North and the South to make joint efforts for the improvement of the North-South ties and peace and common prosperity on the Korean peninsula," said the statement. Millions of Koreans were left separated by the war, which sealed the peninsula's division. Most have died without having had a chance to meet family members last seen six decades ago. About 72,000 South Koreans - nearly half of them aged over 80 - are still alive and waiting for a rare chance to join the highly competitive family reunion events, which select only up to a few hundred participants each time. At the reunions, North and South Koreans typically meet in the North for two or three days before the South Koreans -- many in tears - head home again. For those too infirm to travel, reunions via video conferencing have been arranged in recent years. Cross-border relations have showed signs of improving recently after months of high tensions. Last week the two sides agreed to work on reopening the Kaesong joint industrial zone shut down in April. Operations at the factory complex in the North were suspended after Pyongyang withdrew all its workers amid tensions heightened by its nuclear test in February. The North also proposed a separate meeting on August 22 to discuss reopening the Kumgang mountain resort. It promised to discuss Seoul's key concerns including the safety of its tourists. Kumgang was the first major inter-Korean cooperation project and thousands of South Koreans visited the Seoul-funded resort in the North between 1998 and 2008. The South suspended the tours - an important source of hard currency for the impoverished North - after a North Korean soldier in 2008 shot dead a female tourist who strayed into a restricted zone. ^ top ^

ROK-US drill goes ahead as tensions ease with DPRK (China Daily)
2013-08-20
Washington and Seoul launched an annual military drill against a simulated invasion from Pyongyang on Monday, but analysts said the exercise will not overshadow the positive momentum that exists between the two neighbors on the Korean Peninsula. Despite the sensitive timing and content of the military exercise, analysts predict calm on the peninsula in the long term. However, more strenuous diplomatic efforts are needed to tackle core differences between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, they added. The Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercise is set to continue until Aug 30. It involves 30,000 troops from the United States and 50,000 from the ROK, the Associated Press cited the ROK's Defense Ministry and the US military command in Seoul as saying. Instead of publishing near-daily warlike rhetoric and threatening nuclear conflict, as it has done during previous annual US-ROK military exercises, the DPRK responded this time in an unusually mild manner. Last month, Rodong Sinmun, the ruling party's newspaper in the DPRK, warned that the exercise could bring the peninsula "to the brink of war". But since then, there has been no repeat of the bellicose rhetoric. So far, its state media have not made any major statements on the exercise. "Pyongyang's reaction is relatively calm this time. It reflects the fact that the DPRK is adjusting its policy toward the ROK," said Gong Yuzhen, a professor of international affairs at Peking University. Jin Canrong, an international affairs professor from Renmin University of China, said the DPRK has realized that a hard stance will not help it win international support and avoid being isolated by the international community, so it has changed its attitude. The DPRK needs to tackle its domestic economic situation, which requires the government to change its tune, he said. The ROK and the DPRK reached an agreement last week on a framework for the resumption of operations at the Kaesong industrial park, which was closed in April at the height of a surge in military tensions on the peninsula, following the DPRK's third nuclear test in February. To push the breakthrough forward another step, ROK President Park Geun-hye later urged Pyongyang to "open its heart" and resume the reunions of families separated since the Korean War (1950-53). The ROK and the DPRK used to hold frequent reunions of this sort, but they were suspended three years ago. Pyongyang agreed on Sunday to hold talks on the reunion issue. It also proposed to restart its Mount Kumgang scenic resort, which, together with the Kaesong industrial park project, marks an important foreign currency earner for the DPRK. "There is a trend of Seoul and Pyongyang improving their relations," said Gong, adding that the eased situation will last for a while at least. But the key factor in achieving reconciliation is how the two sides deal with the nuclear issue on the peninsula, he said. When the ROK and the DPRK ceased fighting in the Korean War, they only agreed an ongoing ceasefire, not a formalized peace treaty. Presiding over a meeting of her National Security Council on Monday, Park stressed that Seoul can never afford to let its guard down, Agence France-Presse reported. "No matter how peaceful things are, a crisis would come if we forget about war," her spokeswoman quoted her as saying. "It is very important to ensure firm security preparedness in any circumstances.". ^ top ^

China says window emerges to open talks on Korean Peninsula nuclear issue (Xinhua)
2013-08-20
An opportunity or a window has emerged to open talks on Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, a senior official with the Chinese military said here Tuesday. Guan Youfei, director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense of China, made the remarks at a news briefing held in Washington D.C., stressing there are signs of eased tensions in the Peninsula, and leaders of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has voiced willingness to conduct multilateral talks. According to Guan, who accompanied Chinese Minister of National Defense Chang Wanquan for a visit to the United States from Aug.16- 20, Korean Peninsula nuclear issue was one of the topics discussed by Minister Chang and his U.S. hosts. Guan said Chang discussed the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue with his U.S. counterpart Chuck Hagel and Susan Rice, U.S. President Barack Obama's national security advisor, Monday. Chang told the U.S. side that China has always opposed nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and insists on preserving peace and stability there. China also believes the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue can only be solved through active negotiations and engagement, saying pressure and sanctions won't help in solving the problem and urging the U.S. side to show flexibility and engage the DPRK, and not to let the opportunity to slip away. The U.S. side has voiced willingness to work with the Chinese side to achieve a more swiftly solving of the issue, according to Guan. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

WHO Director-General meets with President Ts.Elbegdorj (UB Post)
2013-08-17
Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Margaret Chan, who is paying a four-day official visit to Mongolia, met with President Ts.Elbegdorj on Tuesday along with WHO Permanent Representative Soe Nyunt-U and Minister of Health N.Udval. At the beginning of the meeting, Dr Chan expressed her satisfaction with her visit to Mongolia and thanked the President for receiving her. She noted that, during her visit, she had met with the authorities of the Ministry of Health and got acquainted with the operations of the National Health Center for Mothers and Children as well as the Third Hospital. She also underlined the significance of using Mongolia's economic growth to improve the health of its population. In return, President Ts.Elbegdorj was also satisfied with the cooperation between the WHO and the government of Mongolia. He said that the government has been successfully developing and implementing national programs adapted to the country's unique features, as well as supporting WHO policies and projects. For instance, Mongolia was one of the first countries to receive vaccines against the H1N1 influenza virus in 2009 in line with WHO conditions. He also mentioned that the government is following pertinent strategies to prevent people from acquiring diseases. Dr Chan noted that even though Mongolia has a low population, the health of its people has been advancing together with the country's economic growth. Mentioning that the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has become very effective in strengthening the control over tobacco smoking around the world, the President said that Mongolia adopted a law this year on fighting smoking, and that it has been highly appreciated by the public. Moreover, he gave information on Mongolians who are running campaigns against alcoholism and added that the government is planning to operate in the direction of working out a national convention to regulate the hazardous consumption of alcoholic beverages, which can be a way of creating a general understanding and agreement among WHO members. In accordance with these plans, the government wants to organize a nationwide session against alcohol with the participation of WHO experts. Three years ago, there were 188 alcohol beverage manufacturers operating nationwide in Mongolia; while, as of today, this number has significantly declined. Along with the reduction of alcohol-producing entities, the level of alcohol consumption has also been reduced, stressed President Ts.Elbegdorj. ^ top ^

New traffic restrictions expected for new school year (news.mn)
2013-08-19
Ulaanbaatar City Council has issued a rule to regulate traffic by dividing plate number endings into even or odd categories starting on August 24th. The new traffic regulation is in place due to heavy traffic during the new school year. It will be effective between August 24th and 31st for eight days. During these days several roads are under repair and undergoing maintenance on top of this heavy traffic is expected due to the upcoming new school year in the city. Therefore Ulaanbaatar City Council is taking action to reduce heavy traffic jams by regulating the traffic using a restriction on plate number endings. The new traffic regulation will be effective between 07.00 and 21.00 on August 24th and 31st. During these days the current traffic restrictions will not be in place. Trolley buses will also be offering their serves for free during these days. The current traffic restriction will be re-instated on September 1st. ^ top ^

Minister of labor meets with representatives of Oyu Tolgoi LLC (Info Mongolia)
2013-08-21
On August 20, 2013, Minister of Labor Ya.Sanjmyatav and the Ministry State Secretary P.Gantulga received authorities from Oyu Tolgoi LLC represented by its Vice President of Human Resources and Capability Development Michael Beck and Executive Director P.Sodkhuu to discuss the current situation due to the halt of underground expansions of the company. Minister of Labor Ya.Sanjmyatav stated, “According to the delay in Oyu Tolgoi underground expansions, the information of about 2,000 contract workers losing their jobs is causing despair among society. The main reason we are meeting today is to get the true, factual information and discuss further steps to be taken”. Vice President of Human Resources and Capability Development Michael Beck said, “We've canceled contracts with construction companies for the underground expansions due to the second stage financing issues. Currently, Oyu Tolgoi is working with 22 executive companies. We haven't received yet detailed information of how many contracts were terminated from these companies and how many workers lost their jobs. We relieved only 61 Oyu Tolgoi employees from their posts and now looking into ways to transfer them to other divisions and departments. In accordance with the Labor Law of Mongolia, we will discuss with the Company's Trade Union about unemployment benefit for these employees. Therefore, Oyu Tolgoi is unable to provide with information about the contract company workers, because they decide on their own”. Minister Ya.Sanjmyatav then requested information about the number of contracts terminated and the number of contract workers losing their jobs as soon as possible and asked them to consider on employing these companies in a different field and to work with the least amount of risk as possible. Currently, the Oyu Tolgoi's open mining, concentrate factory and other divisions and departments are operating normally with its 7,000 Mongolian workers. ^ 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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