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
  28.10-1.11.13, No. 499  
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Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China willing to expand cooperation with Iceland: vice premier (Xinhua)
2013.10.27
China is willing to expand cooperation with Iceland in multiple areas, Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai said here on Sunday. "China is willing to expand pragmatic cooperations with Iceland in fields of economy, trade, geothermal energy, Arctic research, environment, science and technology and social development," Ma said when he met with President of Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. "China and Iceland have been genuine friends based on mutual trust and support, and reliable partners for mutually-beneficial cooperations on an equal basis," said the Chinese vice premier. The constantly advancing cooperations, including the bilateral free trade agreement signed earlier this year, would certainly propel the bilateral relations into "an all-new stage," he said. Grimsson said that he believed the bilateral relations would advance faster and better, based on true friendship, especially given the multiple economic, trade and financial cooperations China had with Iceland during the financial crisis. "The Iceland-China relations have become a model of cooperation between countries of different sizes and historical and cultural backgrounds," Grimsson said. During his official visit to Iceland, Ma also held talks with Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson on Saturday. Currently, the all-round bilateral cooperations between the two countries are faced with crucial development opportunities, and both sides should keep close high-level communications and enhance political mutual trust, Ma said. Gunnlaugsson said Iceland sees China as an important partner, and with the gradual usage of the Northern Sea Route, Iceland expects to expand the bilateral trade and join hands with China in effort to build the "Northern Silk Road." ^ top ^

High-powered Nicaraguan canal delegation quietly visits mainland China (SCMP)
2013-10-29
A top-level Nicaraguan delegation - headed by the president's son - travelled to mainland China and Hong Kong last week to discuss what could be the world's largest waterway project, the South China Morning Post has learned. The visit is the first to mainland China by such a large and high-powered delegation since Nicaragua switched diplomatic recognition from Beijing to Taipei in 1990. Laureano Ortega Murillo - the son of Nicaragua's president, Daniel Ortega - led a group of 21 politicians, academics and businessmen on a tour to Beijing, Wuhan, Xuzhou and Hong Kong. They were hosted by the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment (HKND), a company established last year to handle a US$40 billion canal project that would connect the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean through Nicaragua. Both governments wanted to keep the deal low-profile. Ortega junior declined to comment but the HKND chairman, Wang Jing, 41, said the project was "strictly commercial". The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing also stressed it was not a government-backed project. Still, given the delicate nature of the project and the relationship between Nicaragua, Beijing and Taipei, it could have wide geopolitical implications. Nicaragua is one of the 23 countries that recognise Taipei instead of Beijing. The tour happened three weeks after Nicaraguan foreign minister Samuel Santos Lopez angered Taipei when he referred to Taiwan as China-Taiwan in a statement. Delegation member Francisco Telemaco Talavera Siles, the president of the National Council of Universities, said: "We are in a special moment in China and in Nicaragua. We are starting a new historical phase that is going to see closer relations." Arturo Cruz Sequeira, the country's former ambassador to the United States who was also part of the group, said the trip was not official but it was a sign that "ties with Beijing are improving". "Without a doubt, trade [and] investment are huge components of the relationship. If the canal project goes ahead, the presence of China in all of its manifestations is going to be self-evident," he said. For the project to materialise, they still need to win over sceptics in Nicaragua. "We have doubts if it is technically possible," said Telemaco. "But now we are convinced that in China, we have [found] the technical capacity [and] the economic capacity." HKND has hired engineers from state-owned China Railway Construction Corporation to plan and design the canal. ^ top ^

Beijing calls UN report 'positive' (Global Times)
2013-10-29
A recent United Nations report on human rights in China was received well by the government in Beijing with foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Monday describing the report as "positive." The report was adopted by the Human Rights Council of the UN on Friday as part of the UN's periodic review of the roles governments across the world played in providing better lives to their citizens. "The basic tune of this report is positive. It reflects the HRC's review of China in an objective and balanced manner," Hua told reporters at a regular media briefing. China's evaluation was held on October 22 during a session of the HRC that was expected to end on November 1. The mechanism was established by the HRC in June 2007 with the aim to ensure that all member states will have their records analyzed in order to improve human rights conditions worldwide. China went through the first in 2009, during which the government accepted 42 recommendations made by other countries, including making greater efforts to improve people's lives, reducing poverty and deepening judicial reform. ^ top ^

China responds to Japan with ship patrol near Diaoyu (Global Times)
2013-10-29
Four China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels patrolled territorial waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands on Monday, as China criticized Japan on Monday for repeatedly making provocative remarks and accused that country of "breaking status quo" on the Diaoyu Islands, in response to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent remarks on similar lines. The CCG, which enforces maritime law for fisheries, surveillance, customs and border control, has conducted 59 patrols at a minimum distance of 0.28 nautical miles around the Diaoyu Islands since September 2012, when Japan announced a plan to "purchase" the islands. Abe had told his troops on Sunday that Japan would not "tolerate the use of force to change the region's status quo" and called for surveillance and intelligence activities to better equip the Japanese military. "Japanese leaders' provocative comments concerning China demonstrate the politicians' lying techniques and their unscrupulous and guilty conscience," foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a media conference. Hua added that the Diaoyu Islands were an "inherent part of the Chinese territory" although they were covertly included in Japanese territories by Japan in 1895. The foreign ministry's position in Beijing was echoed by a Chinese defense ministry official, who said, if Japan plans to shoot down drones that allegedly infringe into its airspace, Japan's action would be treated as "an act of war." It will be a "severe provocation to China," said defense ministry spokesperson Geng Yansheng, adding that China will take resolute measures to strike back. Flotillas attached to China's Beihai, Donghai and Nanhai Fleets had carried out naval drills in the western Pacific Ocean on Sunday despite "foreign disturbances," according to statements from the People's Liberation Army. ^ top ^

China Malaysia defense ministers discuss partnership (Global Times)
2013.10.29
Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan held talks on Tuesday with Malaysia's visiting Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Chang, a state councilor, called for enhanced military-to-military pragmatic exchanges and cooperation to push forward the China-Malaysia comprehensive strategic partnership. The two sides have conducted close exchanges and cooperation in high-level visits, defense and security consultations, staff training, warship visits and other fields in recent years. Hishammuddin said that Malaysia is ready to work with China to further promote military-to-military cooperation in various areas. ^ top ^

Foreign minister anticipates relations with France (China Daily)
2013.11.01
Wang is thus far the most senior Chinese official to have visited France since French President Francois Hollande took office last May. His visit precedes President Xi Jinping's state visit to France next year to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. During his two-day visit in Paris, which was also his first official trip to Europe as foreign minister, Wang exchanged views with Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on strengthening bilateral ties and on major international issues, including the Syrian civil war, the Iranian issue, climate change and environmental protection. "Relations between China and France go far beyond the bilateral realm - they hold a distinct strategic importance. Therefore we should not only strengthen bilateral cooperation but also coordinate our viewpoints on major international issues," Wang told a news conference in Paris on Wednesday. He said there is vast potential for cooperation between China and France in urbanization, information technologies and methods of modernizing agriculture. During his visit, Wang reiterated China's position on the Syrian civil war, stating it supports a resolution to the crisis through diplomacy. "China supports the second round of the Geneva peace talks. The international community should create favorable conditions for various parties in Syria to reach a consensus," he said. During Wang's visit to France, both sides reiterated their commitment to strengthen bilateral cooperation in helping the African continent develop. Analysts said Beijing and Paris should do more to diversify their political contacts to boost mutual trust. "It is paradoxical that, politically speaking, the relationship is always said to be special because of their history while, at the same time, it is not as close as it should be," said Francoise Nicolas, director of the Center for Asia Studies at the French Institute of International Relations. "If you look at Germany, relations (with China) seem to be more solid even though there is no long history behind it. They did something better than we did. And one obvious thing is the regularity in meetings at different levels," Nicolas said. Cui Hongjian, director of European studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said top leaders from both countries should establish a mechanism for coordination to allow both sides to evaluate each other's intentions when disagreements emerge. More frequent contacts between Chinese and French leaders can be expected. French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will soon visit China for the preparation of the 50th anniversary of China-France relations, according to Fabius. Fabius also said at the press conference that France has decided to simplify the visa application procedures for Chinese citizens, which will allow them to acquire a French visa in just two days. ^ top ^

China 'urges' US to explain phone taps (China Daily)
2013.11.01
The Chinese government urged the United States to clarify and explain its reported espionage activities in China on Thursday. “With serious concern about the relative reports, we lodged solemn representations to the US side,” Hua Chunying, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said at a daily press briefing in Beijing on Thursday. She made the remark in response to a question asking for her comment on a recent report that the US has about 80 intelligence collection sites worldwide, including some cities in China. It was reported that some intelligence officers use their diplomatic status as a cover to conduct phone tapping. The US embassy and consulates in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu are all engaged in the reported phone tapping. She urged foreign organizations in China and their employees to strictly abide by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and other international conventions. They should not engage in any activities incompatible with their duties and status that may harm China's national security and interests, she said. She also noted that healthy and steady Sino-US relations are beneficial not only to the two countries, but also to the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the whole world. In order to build a new type of relations between major powers, the two countries must work together and faithfully observe the mutual agreement, she said. “The new relations will be based on the consensus of non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation in handling every aspect of Sino-US relations,” she added. On Wednesday, journalists in Washington, DC posed similar questions to US State Department spokesman Jen Psaki, who said there was a review underway, both an internal and external review. “That will be completed by the end of the year. As part of that effort, we're looking at the program and we're looking at making sure that it's meeting our foreign policy needs,” Psaki said. “We're addressing reports out there related to heads of state and we're not focused on keeping our gathering up with technology that's available. So those are all pieces that are being looked at,” Paski added. ^ top ^

Chinese FM calls for diplomatic solution to Syrian crisis (Xinhua)
2013.10.31
A political settlement is the only way out of the Syrian crisis, and efforts must be made at the Syrian domestic, regional and international levels, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here on Wednesday. Speaking to Xinhua in his visit to France, Wang said China is willing to continue to play a positive and constructive role in the process, and would make efforts to facilitate a second international conference on Syria in Geneva, and the full implementation of the Geneva Communique. Work on finding a political solution for the Syrian crisis and destroying the chemical weapons in the country should also be carried out in parallel, he said, pledging Chinese support during the process. The Chinese Foreign Minister called on parties concerned in Syria to settle differences through dialogues and negotiations. He urged the parties to cooperate with and support the mediating efforts by UN Secretary-General and UN-Arab League joint special envoy, participate in the Geneva II conference without any preconditions in order to strike a deal on the political transition process. He also called on relevant countries and regions to use their unique influences to send a concerted signal on the convening of the Geneva II conference and the full implementation of the Geneva Communique. The Chinese Foreign Minister called on the international community to stick to principles of the UN charter and basic norms of international relations, respect Syria's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity, as well as the will and choice of the Syrian people, saying that the future of Syria should be determined only by its own people. Noting the positive progress made in the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, Wang said Chinese experts have taken part in relevant work and that the Chinese side is willing to provide financial support in this regard. He said China hopes all parties concerned cooperate and support the work of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in order to destroy Syria's chemical weapons. ^ top ^

China re-elected to UN Economic and Social Council (Global Times)
2013.10.31
China was re-elected to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Wednesday. China won all 187 valid votes from the UN member states at a plenary meeting of the 68th General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York. Established in 1946, the ECOSOC is a founding UN Charter body tasked to coordinate the economic, social and related work of the United Nations and its specialized agencies and institutions. China has been an ECOSOC member since 1972. Also on Wednesday, the UN General Assembly elected another 17 members to ECOSOC, including the United Kingdom, Russia and the Republic of Korea. The ECOSOC's 54 members are elected by the General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms. Voting within the council is by a simple majority and each member has one vote. Through its discussion of international economic and social issues and its policy recommendations, the ECOSOC plays a key role in fostering inter cooperation for development and in setting priorities for action. ECOSOC election procedures follow the General Assembly's Rules of Procedure. Election requires a two-thirds majority and the largest number of votes. Membership can be renewed immediately after it expires on Dec. 31. ^ top ^

S. African govt lauds deputy president's successful visit to China (Global Times)
2013.10.31
The South African government on Wednesday commended Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe for his successful visit to China, saying it would advance the development of bilateral ties. Motlanthe ended his three-day visit to China on Wednesday, where he attended the fifth China-South Africa Bi-national Commission, the Presidency said in a statement. The Presidency said the visit adds to the strong bilateral relations which have been growing steadily over the past 15 years. Addressing at the South Africa-China People's Friendship Association in Beijing on Tuesday, Deputy President Motlanthe praised China and South Africa for their bilateral ties. "Since the two countries established the diplomatic relations in 1998, we have achieved success in improving our relations which matured from ordinary partnership to strategic one, culminating in a comprehensive strategic partnership," he said. The Presidency said on Wednesday that China has become South Africa's No. 1 trading partner and South Africa has become China's top trading partner in Africa. "Over the past few years there has been growing presence of Chinese companies in various sectors of South Africa's economy," said the Presidency."Trade between the two countries continue to grow, and current volume stands at just over 200 billion rands (about 20 billion US dollars)." "South Africa hopes to see greater participation of Chinese companies in sectors such as renewable energy, mining, banking, manufacturing and rail infrastructure and rolling stock," said the Presidency. Motlanthe arrived in Beijing on Sunday, accompanied by key cabinet ministers, including Minister of Tourism Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu and Minister of Public Service and Administration Lindiwe Sisulu. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Bo verdict upheld by higher court (Global Times)
2013.10.26
The Shandong Higher People's Court Friday upheld a guilty verdict for former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. The higher court in Jinan, capital of East China's Shandong Province, announced the verdict on Friday morning, and then posted the full transcript of the verdict on its official website, also revealing that Bo is now in custody at Qincheng Prison in suburban Beijing. Bo, 64, who once held a seat on the 25-member Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Friday appeared at the court in a black jacket, as shown on a video released by China Central Television. Over 100 people, including Bo's relatives and journalists, were present at the announcement of the ruling on Bo's appeal, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The former official faced a five-day open trial at the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in late August. On September 22, he was convicted of taking bribes totaling 20.44 million yuan ($3.3 million), either per­sonally or through his family members, between 1999 and 2012. The court also convicted Bo of embezzling 5 million yuan of government funds and of having abused his power when handling the murder of British citizen Neil Heywood by his wife, Bogu Kailai. Bo filed an appeal to the higher court on September 30.According to Friday's verdict released by the higher court, Bo and his lawyers made 15 arguments against the original ruling, including citing the "psychological pressure" he was under during interrogation and questioning the reliability of witnesses. Upon accepting Bo's appeal, the higher court formed a collegial panel for the second trial. The panel reviewed all the case files and video footage of the first trial, and examined Bo's appeal documents and defense lawyers' opinions. The panel interrogated Bo several times and heard the opinions of his lawyers, verified all evidence, comprehensively examined the facts confirmed during the first trial and legal applications to fully safeguard the litigation rights of Bo and the defense lawyers, Xinhua reported. The panel rejected Bo's arguments. During the first trial and the appeal, Bo said his written confession was made under "psychological pressure" last year and demanded the exclusion of the confession. In response, the higher court rejected the exclusion, saying there was no forced confession in Bo's case and all of his confession was made voluntarily. The court also addressed Bo's argument on the reliability of Bogu Kailai's testimony and the fact that Bogu Kailai didn't appear at the court during the open trial. It said the Jinan Intermediate People's Court summoned Bogu Kailai, but she refused to appear at the court. According to the Criminal Procedure Law, "if the spouse of a defendant declines to appear in court, the court can't compel him or her to do so," said the verdict. In the appeal, Bo and his lawyers argued that he had no intention to forbid a probe into his wife's murder of Heywood and that his acts weren't the key reason for the attempted defection by Wang Lijun, Chongqing's former police chief. After Wang informed Bo that Bogu Kailai was a suspect in the murder of Heywood in late January 2012, Bo slapped Wang in the face, ordered probes on Wang's henchmen and violated organizational procedures to remove Wang. On February 6, 2012, Wang entered the US Consulate General in Chengdu. The higher court said in the verdict that those moves showed Bo's intention to prohibit a reinvestigation into Heywood's death, and evidence suggested Wang's attempted defection was directly caused by Bo's abuse of power. The verdict concluded by dismissing Bo's appeal, and said "the decision is also the final order." After the announcement of the verdict, a source close to Bo, who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times that Bo intends to lodge a petition over the second ruling, as he is not satisfied with the result. However, the source said Bo now has to serve his term, and no decision has been made about when to file the petition. If a petition is filed, the judicial department will examine whether a retrial is needed, Han Yusheng, a law professor with the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times by phone on Friday. Over the past two months, the high-profile case has been under close scrutiny from the public and international media. Information on the open trial was made public through continuous Weibo updates, demonstrating an unprecedented degree of open­ness and transparency for the Chinese court system. An opinion piece on takungpao.com.hk Friday said the trial of Bo demonstrated the authorities' intention to push for judicial openness and justice as well as the rule by law. The article noted it also raised expectations for the future trials of senior officials, which "could only be more open rather than closed." Han agreed that the trial would have implications for future cases, especially in its strict compliance with the legal proceedings throughout the first and second trials. "In order to realize substantial justice, procedural justice must be ensured, which was embodied in Bo's trial," Han said, noting it's a basic requirement for building China into a society based on the rule of law. Bo is the highest-level official convicted since the sentence of former Shanghai Party chief Chen Liangyu for bribery and abuse of power in April 2008. From early 2008 to August this year, 32 ministerial-level officials were put under investigation for graft, according to a report from the Supreme People's Procuratorate released on Tuesday. ^ top ^

Beijing airport bomber takes city government to court (Global Times)
2013-10-29
A man who set off a small bomb in Beijing airport has taken Dongguan city government to court for alleged failure to certify that injuries to his legs came from beatings by security officers while he worked in the city. Ji Zhongxing was sentenced to six years in prison earlier this month for setting off a home-made explosive device at Beijing Capital International Airport in July, severely injuring himself and slightly injuring a police officer. Ji's lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan claims Dongguan city government set up a working group to investigate Ji's claim of beatings by security officers in 2005 which resulted in his paralysis but have failed to disclose their findings. Ji from east China's Shandong Province, is confined to a wheelchair, and went alone to Beijing airport's Terminal 3 arrivals exit on July 20 to set off an improvised explosive device. Besides suing Dongguan, Ji has also filed against the Guangzhou Provincial Bureau of Public Security. The Intermediate People's Court of Guangzhou, the provincial capital, rejected the suit stating that the bureau "had not violated any rules on government information openness." Ji had applied for information in hope of knowing the "progress of the investigation." ^ top ^

CPC leadership approves anti-extravagance rules (Xinhua)
2013.10.29
The Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership on Tuesday approved a regulation to fight waste and extravagance among Party and government departments, calling for strengthened supervision and harsher punishments for violators. "In recent years, some Party and government departments occasionally competed for ostentation and extravagance, which led to huge spending and waste as well as strong reactions from the people," said a statement released after a Tuesday meeting of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau. At the meeting, which was presided over by CPC leader Xi Jinping, the political bureau approved and agreed to publicize the Regulation on Strictly Enforcing Thrift and Fighting Waste in Party and Government Departments. According to the statement, the regulation aims to strictly limit, supervise and punish various violations related to spending using public money. The regulation offers comprehensive stipulations that cover public fund management, domestic and overseas trips, business receptions, meetings and other official activities, the use of non-private vehicles and offices as well as resource savings. The statement urged various Party and government departments to resolutely follow the requirements in the regulation, with principal officials leading and supervising the campaign. According to the statement, departments at all levels should map out detailed measures under the frame of the regulation in accordance with the realities of their own work, ensuring strengthened supervision and harsher punishments for violators on a case by case basis. The regulation is part of the ongoing "mass line" campaign that aims to boost ties between CPC officials and members and the public, while cleaning up undesirable work styles such as formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance. In addition, it was decided at the meeting that the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee will be held between Nov. 9 and Nov. 12 in Beijing. ^ top ^

China's top lawmaker wants more public participation (Global Times)
2013.10.30
China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang on Wednesday pledged to increase ways for the public to play a bigger role in legislative work. Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), made the comments at a meeting on the committee's legislation work for next five years. The meeting is usually held in the first year of the newly-elected NPC, the country's national legislature. The NPC Standing Committee will also encourage NPC deputies to play a bigger role in legislation, Zhang said. "We should improve the mechanism of consulting different parties when drafting and discussing bills," Zhang said. "We should try our best to build consensus and pool wisdom." He also stressed that new circumstances in China and new expectations from the people have placed more requirements on legislation. The NPC Standing Committee should base their work on the country's reality and people's needs, he said. ^ top ^

Xi stresses gender equality (Xinhua)
2013.11.01
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday underlined the importance of gender equality, calling for full play to be given to the role of women in order to help achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Xi made the remarks while meeting with the newly elected leadership of the All-China Women's Federation. The president also expressed his congratulations and greetings to the new leadership following the 11th National Women's Congress, which concluded in Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Thursday. Xi said that China has attached great importance to gender equality in different periods of development over recent decades. Noting that China is facing a more arduous task in economic and social development, he said that the country needs more contributions and wisdom from women than ever before. Xi called for the process of China's development to be integrated with promotion of gender equality, which will ensure women to exercise their rights of democracy in accordance with law, take part into economic and social development and share the fruits of reform. The president asked women's federation officials at all levels to learn more about the situation at grassroots level in order to better help women. Xi urged authorities at all levels to attach more importance and offer more assistance to women's federations, to improve the environment for women to develop livelihoods, and to severely punish those who infringe on women's rights. Shen Yueyue, vice chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, was reelected president of the All-China Women's Federation on Wednesday. ^ top ^

China's 11th National Women's Congress concludes (Xinhua)
2013.11.01
The 11th National Women's Congress concluded in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday, calling on China's women and women's organizations to contribute more to the country's development. Held every five years, the four-day congress passed a work report delivered by the 10th Executive Committee of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), deliberated on and adopted amendments to the federation's constitution, and elected the 11th ACWF Executive Committee. Vice Premier Liu Yandong conveyed congratulations on the success of the congress on behalf of the State Council, urging enhanced policies to promote gender equality and ensure that women have equal opportunities in the sectors of the economy and education. Shen Yueyue, newly elected chairwoman of the ACWF, said at the closing ceremony that women from all ethnic groups in the country should make more contributions to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. ^ top ^

Hospital war zones (Global Times)
2013.10.31
On Monday, hundreds of protesters gathered in the courtyard of the First People's Hospital of Wenling, Zhejiang Province. However, they were not disgruntled patients who were protesting, they were doctors. Clad in white coats and gauze masks, the doctors were mourning their colleague, Wang Yunjie, who had been stabbed to death on October 25. Lian Enqing, a patient at the hospital, had been dissatisfied by a surgery performed by hospital staff, and had vented his rage on Dr Wang, who was the chief physician with the ear-nose-throat department of the hospital, as well as two other doctors who were injured in the attack. The doctors were not just mourning the death of their colleague, they were also protesting against the dangerous situation faced by medical staff, which has resulted in a series of violent attacks by patients. Being a doctor may not seem like a hazardous profession, but in China, with increasing tensions between medical staff and patients, the risk of being attacked is very real, and the situation appears to be getting worse. [...] The violence itself is evidence of seething rage toward medical professionals. After a trainee doctor at a hospital in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, was stabbed to death by a patient on March 23, 2012, more than 4,000 of 6,000 people participating in a poll chose the word "happy" to express their feelings after reading the news on the Web portal Tencent. The Internet is rife with complaints from Net users telling stories of their unpleasant experiences while being treated in hospitals, often by doctors who did their job perfunctorily or made patients undergo unnecessary examinations in order to earn more money. There are also comments indicating that it was necessary to give bribes in order to receive better treatment. As far as these Net users are concerned, the doctors have earned the wrath of the public. This wrath manifests in violence and examples are everywhere. A doctor from the Second Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University was beaten on October 21 by his patient's family members when he refused to let them take away a diseased patient's body - to permit them to do so would have been illegal. A doctor from the Liaoning Fengtian Chinese Medicine Hospital was stabbed six times by a patient on October 20. The ICU of the Shanghai Shuguang Hospital was smashed by family members of a patient who died despite treatment on October 17. The list goes on and on. A report released by the Chinese Hospital Association in August showed that the average number of violent attacks on medical workers per hospital has reached 27 a year, and the number of incidents of doctors being injured increases each year. "The relationship between doctors and patients is incredibly bad. Patients often make threats to sue doctors, swear at them and even beat them. [...] Security a solution? The government has answered the problem by beefing up regulations on hospital security. The National Health and Family Planning Commission issued a regulation on October 12, which mandated that at least 3 percent of the staff at hospitals should be security staff, or that for every 20 beds there should be a guard. Ma Weihang, deputy director of the Health Bureau of Zhejiang Province, said Tuesday that security measures would be enforced in hospitals, with security check systems, surveillance, alarm bells and security crews to be set up, to ensure the safety of medical workers, patients and their families, the China News Service reported. Doctors, however, have called these solutions a temporary band-aid. "I'm afraid that the fights might get fiercer if people are required to do security checks, especially when they are seriously ill patients among masses of people at the hospitals," Deng said, noting that the cost of this security equipment will come out of hospital budgets, meaning that hospitals will need to squeeze even more money out of patients and potentially worsen the relationships with patients. Wu echoed with Deng, saying that tensions may increase as patients may feel like they are visiting a prison rather than a hospital. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

5 dead, 38 injured after Tian'anmen car crash (Xinhua)
2013.10.28
A jeep crashed into a crowd of people and caught fire in front of the Tian'anmen rostrum in downtown Beijing at noon on Monday, killing five people and injuring another 38, police said. The dead include three people in the jeep, a Philippine female tourist and a male tourist from south China's Guangdong Province, according to the police. The 38 injured include two female and one male tourist from the Philippines as well as a male tourist from Japan. Officials from the Chinese central government, Ministry of Public Security and Beijing municipal government arrived at the scene after the incident to guide the rescue efforts. They called for all-out efforts to save the lives of the injured, a quick search for the truth behind the incident and strong measures to guarantee the safety and stability of the capital city. The injured are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. Doctors have carried out operations, bandaging and other emergency treatment measures according to their injuries. The jeep crashed into a guardrail of Jinshui Bridge across the moat of the Forbidden City before bursting into flames at 12:05 p.m., according to municipal police and Beijing Emergency Medical Center. The fire was put out soon after. Traffic returned to normal there at 1:09 p.m.. Further investigation is under way. ^ top ^

Five detained over Tian'anmen terrorist attack (Xinhua)
2013.10.30
Chinese police have identified Monday's deadly crash at downtown Beijing's Tian'anman Square as a terrorist attack and five suspects have been detained. The attack was "carefully planned, organized and premeditated," police said. With the cooperation of police authorities including those in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Beijing police have captured five suspects who had been at large, a spokesman with the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said on Wednesday. Usmen Hasan, his mother, Kuwanhan Reyim, and his wife, Gulkiz Gini, drove a jeep with a Xinjiang plate to crash into a crowd of people at noon on Monday, killing two people and injuring another 40, the spokesman said. The jeep crashed into a guardrail of Jinshui Bridge across the moat of the Forbidden City. The three people in the jeep died after they set gasoline inside the vehicle on fire, according to the spokesman. Police found gasoline, equipment full of gasoline, two knives and steel sticks as well as a flag with extremist religious content in the jeep. Police have also found knives and at least one "jihad" flag in the temporary residence of the five detained suspects. The suspects caught in connection with the incident are Husanjan Wuxur, Gulnar Tuhtiniyaz, Yusup Umarniyaz, Bujanat Abdukadir and Yusup Ahmat. According to the spokesman, they admitted that they knew Usmen Hasan and conspired to plan and carry out the attack. They said they had not expected that the police could capture them only about 10 hours after the incident. Further investigation into the case is under way. ^ top ^

Five held for Tiananmen Square terror attack, all Uygurs from Xinjiang (SCMP)
2013.10.30
Five suspects have been detained in connection with the car crash and explosion in Tiananmen Square on Monday, which authorities described for the first time as a "terrorist attack". The suspects are all Uygurs from various parts of the restive Xinjiang region, according to an earlier police notice. The notice, which was sent in the hours after the fiery crash and reviewed by the South China Morning Post yesterday, warned authorities to look out for seven people. The five were arrested 10 hours after a jeep careened along a pedestrian walkway in front the square's famed gate tower and exploded in flames after it hit the Jinshui Bridge, killing three occupants and two tourists, Xinhua said. The report did not say whether any other suspects remained at large, only that the investigation was ongoing. The report, which raised the number of injured from 38 to 40, also gave the first official explanation. "The incident was a premeditated terrorist attack that was carefully planned and organised," it quoted a police spokesman as saying. Police found a petrol container, two meat cleavers, a metal bar and a flag printed with extremist religious messages in the SUV. The report said the people in the jeep set it on fire using petrol. Police said the three killed in the vehicle were from the same family. The driver was identified as Usmen Hasan. His wife, Gulkiz Gini, and mother, Kuwanhan Reyim - both from far western Xinjiang - were also in the car. Authorities, who launched a massive manhunt for the suspects, found knives and another jihadist flag at the residence of another suspect. The police notice mentioned four women and three men from Xinjiang, a heavily Muslim region that has been the site of several violent clashes with police. The two women who died in the jeep were among the seven named. Those detained were three men and two women. Hotels have been asked to look out for suspects, including Liu Ke, a 21-year-old Sichuan native. In two separate notices, police ordered car repair shops to keep watch for vehicles with Xinjiang number plates, especially those that appear to have been refitted. The two notices listed five number plates registered in Urumqi, Kashgar and Kuytun. The Philippine embassy in Beijing is co-ordinating with the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau to repatriate a Filipino man and his two daughters injured in the crash. The man's wife, a doctor, was among the two tourists killed, along with a man from Guangdong. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo would seek information about the incident through diplomatic channels, as one of the injured was a Japanese man. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying offered her condolences. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai's largest press groups in major merger (Global Times)
2013-10-29
The two main press groups in Shanghai officially launched a combined group on Monday, following one of the most important mergers in Chinese media history. The Shanghai Newspaper Group, product of the merger between Shanghai Jiefang Daily and Wenhui-Xinmin United Press, is now China's largest with estimated assets of 20.8 billion yuan ($3.4 billion), according to a statement. Party secretary of the new entity, Qiu Xin, also group chief, said that "the consolidation of the two groups is in accordance with the industry's law of development and in response to media transformation." The two groups occupy almost the entire print media market in Shanghai. Wenhui-Xinmin United Press Group owns 17 newspapers and journals, including the Xinmin Evening News, the first evening newspaper on the Chinese mainland. The Jiefang Daily Group owns 12 newspapers and journals. "The merger of the two major press groups will reduce the total number of newspapers, especially those with similar contents and reader group. However, it is not a sign of decline of this industry but an opportunity for newspapers in this city to become better and more effective," Li Liangrong, a journalism professor from Fudan University, wrote in an editorial in the Jiefang Daily. The Shanghai Newspaper Group also signed a contract on Monday with Baidu, one of China's leading Web services companies, to jointly initiate a "Shanghai Channel" on Baidu's online news website. Qiu said the move signals an approach from the traditional media to evolve in a rapidly changing environment. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangzhou paper apologises for detained reporter's story (SCMP)
2013.10.28
A mainland newspaper issued a front-page apology yesterday recanting its bold defence of its reporter detained after reporting on a listed company's "financial problems", adding another twist to the media controversy. The statement was the latest public disavowal of journalist Chen Yongzhou, despite initial public sympathy after his detention and open support by his employer, Guangzhou-based newspaper New Express, in rare defiance against state censors. "This newspaper was not strict enough about thoroughly fact-checking the draft of the report," it said in a small announcement on a bottom corner of its front page. "After the incident occurred the newspaper took inappropriate measures, seriously harming the public trust of the media." The paper promised to "make serious corrections" and better ensure its reporters and editors "comply with professional journalistic ethics and regulations". The statement came a day after Chen appeared on state television in a green prison uniform to "confess" after being detained for more than a week earlier on "suspicion of damaging business reputation". A journalist with New Express said on condition of anonymity that the paper was forced to print the apology. "It was an order from above. It's a day of disgrace for New Express." Last week the paper ran two front-page appeals calling for Chen's release. Another reporter said: "The paper had good and pure intentions to start with, which was to project its own reporters and their journalistic rights. But regrettably, we can't possibly beat more potent government power. Chen was just cannon fodder." Chen wrote 15 articles accusing engineering giant Zoomlion of "financial problems", including inflating its profits. Zoomlion is about 20 per cent state-owned and is listed on the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges. Its shares fell in Hong Kong trading last week. The stock rebounded 1.8 per cent on October 25 after plunging more than 9 per cent over the previous two days. Legal scholars voiced concerns about state media airing the confession of a suspect before a court hears the case. China Central Television showed footage in which Chen said greed and a desire for fame led him to take bribes and run under his name stories alleging financial misdeeds by Zoomlion. "No matter [whether] he's guilty or not, there are serious issues with the procedures here," said Abe Yang, a lawyer with Dacheng Law Offices in Shenzhen. "Even if the police believe they have enough evidence, it's up to the court to decide whether he's truly guilty." ^ top ^

New Express journalist to lose press card (Global Times)
2013.11.01
Authorities overseeing the media in Guangdong announced on Thursday that the press card of a reporter from the province will be revoked after he was found to have taken bribes to malign Zoomlion, a listed heavy machinery company, through a series of news reports. Chen Yongzhou, the reporter from a Guangzhou-based newspaper, the New Express, was officially arrested from Central China's Hunan Province on Wednesday over allegations of damaging Zoomlion's commercial reputation. The Guangdong Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television also asked the Yangcheng Evening News Group, the parent firm of the New Express, to oversee "rectification of the New Express." It further said that the administration will conduct more investigation and those in the New Express that led to the publication of the untrue reports will be held responsible. Chen was detained by the police on October 18 and accused of "fabricating facts" in his series that was published between September and August 2013. Last week, in a China Central Television program, Chen admitted to accepting a total of 500,000 yuan ($82,200) in bribes from anonymous sources to write the "negative reports." Before his confession, the New Express had twice called for his release and the All-China Journalists Association had released a statement on its website saying that the legal rights of journalists should be protected. But after Chen's remarks, the association said he brought disrepute to the media. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Nepalese diplomat talks up ties with China (China Daily)
2013.10.30
Nepal views the Tibet autonomous region as a gateway to the markets of inland China and the wider world, according to a senior Nepalese diplomat in Lhasa. Hari Prasad Bashyal, the consul general of Nepal in Lhasa, said China could also access Nepal, India and other South Asian economies via the plateau. "The Chinese and Nepalese people are expecting great things from each other," he told China Daily in a recent exclusive interview. He said Nepal and Tibet have had strong religious, cultural, business and interpersonal ties throughout history, ever since they first began trading food for salt, gold and wool. "Trade nowadays is more dynamic and multifaceted between the two sides. Goods from China are very much loved by Nepalese people, according to their income capacity and the durability of the goods," Bashyal said. "We are working to develop trade hubs for bilateral and international trade." The key is Tibet, he said. China Radio International cited official Nepalese sources who said that trade between Tibet and Nepal totaled $1.7 billion in 2012, an increase of about 80 percent on the previous year. China-Nepal trade in 2001 was just $153 million, according to figures from the Chinese embassy in Nepal. Nepal remains the biggest trade partner of Tibet, and an agreement signed in 2012 requires China to waive tariffs on 95 percent of products imported from the country. Bashyal said Nepalese people doing business in Tibet are ready to explore other Chinese cities via Lhasa. "We have a common culture and geographical similarities. Nobody can distinguish Chinese Tibetans from Nepalese in the northern areas. So we can promote our goods through China to the world." He added that the liberalization of Tibet's markets is bringing new business opportunities. "I have been in Lhasa for a year and a half. Tibet's policy has been changing to become more open, to attract tourists and investment, and to become more liberal in providing facilities to Tibetans and foreigners." When he first arrived at the airport in winter, he was inspired to see Lhasa's development, especially the road connectivity, which he had not expected in a "remote area that was supposed to be like northern Nepal," Bashyal said. "I explained to my people every time I went home that I'm learning from Tibet. I said leaders should be models, committed to promoting development. In Tibet, not only leaders but all people are committed to development." He said people in Nepal are also preparing themselves to tap into the opportunity presented by their northern neighbor. He said 21 Nepalese customs officers went to Lhasa for training in quarantine inspection procedures last year. Meanwhile, students in the first through eighth grades of primary schools in Nepal's urban areas receive Chinese language lessons in order to promote relations, Bashyal said. "We have a culture in common. Nepal's trade deficit with China will soon be reduced, which is in both countries' interests," he said. He added that China can sell its products through the Tibet autonomous region and Nepal to India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries. The Chinese central government is prioritizing the construction of a major road route for trade to South Asia, and plans to develop Gyirong Port, which will link the two countries at Xigaze. Wangdu, deputy Party chief of Xigaze prefecture, said: "There is a great opportunity to access South Asian countries from Nepal. I'm confident and expect it to boost trade. We can provide safe bottled drinking water, construction materials, household appliances and daily necessities to the Nepalese market." More than 300 Nepalese businesspeople currently work or live in Lhasa, Bashyal said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Forecast of 30 per cent slump in home prices is about right (SCMP)
2013-10-29
Two years ago, at the beginning of November 2011, Barclays Bank published a research report forecasting that Hong Kong home prices would fall 30 per cent over the following two years. Two years on, and local housing prices have actually climbed 24 per cent. Barclays is undismayed. Yesterday, the bank published a new report predicting that by the end of 2015, in two years' time, Hong Kong home prices will have fallen by … 30 per cent. [...] Although the US Federal Reserve is now unlikely to begin raising interest rates until 2015, most analysts accept that when it does, and Hong Kong mortgage rates increase in parallel, local home prices will weaken. But Paul Louie and Zita Qin at Barclays believe that consensus expectations for a correction of about 15 per cent understate the magnitude of the likely fall. They argue the 15 per cent figure is based on projections of how rate increases will affect the cost of servicing a mortgage. At the moment, paying off a home loan on a HK$4.8 million, 718 square foot flat costs the typical Hong Kong household 57 per cent of its monthly income, which is line with the long-term average. [...] If mortgage rates were to go up by 2 percentage points to 4.2 per cent, the increase would push mortgage service costs up to a punishing 69 per cent of monthly income. As a result, property prices would have to fall by 16 per cent to bring housing affordability back into line with the long-term average. That line of reasoning is fine as far as it goes, but as Louie and Qin point out, it doesn't go nearly far enough. If prices were to fall 16 per cent, it doesn't follow that buyers would flock back to the market. Speculative buyers have already been deterred by the government's special stamp duty. And with little prospect of capital gains in sight, potential owner-occupiers would reassess the attractiveness of buying compared with renting. With the minimum down payment on a new home still cripplingly high, and Hong Kong incomes now static, many would conclude that in a falling market, renting makes more sense. According to Louie and Qin, it would take a price drop of at least 30 per cent to entice them back into the market. Of course, despite official denials, it is likely the Hong Kong government would reverse its efforts to cool the market. But just as its measures failed to bring down prices when they were rising, so their reversal would fail to provide much support in a falling market. Part of the problem is likely to be an abundance of supply. Prices have been sticky in recent months because investors have little incentive to sell. But once prices begin to weaken, the owners of investment properties - who the Barclays analysts believe are typically sitting on unrealised capital gains of nearly 100 per cent - will rush to take profits, putting further downward pressure on the market. At the same time, developers, who Louie and Qin say are now encumbered with 12 years' worth of inventory, would have no choice but to cut their prices in pursuit of demand, adding to the downward momentum. The result, they argue, is that Hong Kong home prices are set "to drop by at least 30 per cent by the end of 2015". [...]. ^ top ^

Manila offers US$75,000 for each dead victim of bus hostage tragedy (SCMP)
2013.10.31
Is a Hongkonger's life worth more than that of a Filipino soldier? That was the provocative question asked yesterday by the Manila City Council member sent to negotiate a compensation deal for the victims of the 2010 hostage tragedy. Bernardito Ang said that the council, under flamboyant mayor Joseph Estrada, was ready to pay US$75,000 to the families of the eight Hongkongers killed by gunman Rolando Mendoza. Those seriously injured would receive double that sum - US$150,000 - while those with less serious injuries would get US$20,000 to US$25,000, Ang told Cable TV. By contrast, the family of a Philippine soldier slain in action gets the equivalent of HK$50,000 - less than a tenth of the compensation for the dead Hongkongers, Ang said. But Ang's comments came under fire from lawmakers and families of the victims. Asked why Estrada was seeking help from Filipino businessmen, including members of its Chinese minority, to fund the compensation, Ang said: "Our government obviously has money but cannot openly say [why] we are compensating them so much. "If a military soldier of ours dies while fighting for the country, [the family] currently gets HK$50,000. Hongkongers get US$75,000. Is that to say a Hongkonger's life is worth more? "At first [we] were to give them a total of US$1 million, then I added in another HK$2 million so the total amount reaches HK$10 million. The representative said it was too little. Let Hong Kong citizens themselves decide on whether this is just." Ang's comments demonstrated a lack of sincerity, said Tse Chi-kin, older brother of slain tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn. "[The families and survivors] haven't even discussed things thoroughly, and he's already attacking us like this," he said. Tse criticised Ang, who met the families on Tuesday, for revealing details of negotiations that were supposed to be private. He said the families were not seeking a specific sum but would take any amount "as long as the attitude is right", though survivors living with their injuries might be in a different situation. The Manila City or Philippine governments would have to take responsibility, Tse said, adding that he would not accept compensation paid in the name of Filipino-Chinese businessmen. But Estrada, a former president who was elected Manila mayor in July, said yesterday that he had to seek external funding to pay the compensation, and insisted responsibility lay with the city government, not President Benigno Aquino, who has long refused to apologise for the tragedy or the botched rescue attempt. "The city of Manila is bankrupt. We don't have the money. This is the reason," Estrada told Cable TV. "As long as we can give them the compensation [it doesn't matter] where it comes from. The president has nothing to do with what happened. This is the responsibility of the mayor, not the president." Hong Kong lawmaker and former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said Ang's offer was "ridiculously low". The comparison with the compensation for a Filipino soldier was unfair, she added, because it failed to reflect Hong Kong's high cost of living. She wants the government to end visa-free access to the city for Filipinos in an attempt to press for an apology. Security chief Lai Tung-kwok refused to comment on Ang's remarks, citing a confidentiality agreement. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Top advisor urges economic focus for developing mainland-Taiwan relations (Xinhua)
2013.10.26
China's top political advisor, Yu Zhengsheng, on Saturday called for deepening mainland-Taiwan economic cooperation in order to further improve cross-Strait ties and reinvigorate the Chinese nation. Economic cooperation should remain a focus in the development of cross-Strait relations, said Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, at the opening ceremony for the 9th Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum, which kicked off in the south China city of Nanning. Yu said strengthened cross-Strait economic exchange is an inevitable choice for the two sides in the face of a complicated global economic situation. He proposed more high-level dialogues on economics across the Strait and strengthening communication in economic policymaking to boost capabilities for resisting financial risk from the outside world. Yu urged both sides to accelerate ongoing negotiations for a "good" trade agreement and a dispute settlement agreement as well as follow-up negotiations for the milestone Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. He also urged enacting and implementing agreements signed by the two sides. Yu, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said the mainland and Taiwan should enhance industrial cooperation and expand mutual investment. "Both sides should broaden the scope of mutual investment and get rid of obstacles that stand in the way of capital flow," Yu said. He urged the two sides to further open their financial markets and promote cooperation between companies to jointly improve market competitiveness. A visiting delegation headed by Wu Poh-hsiung, honorary chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) Party, attended the forum, which was established by KMT and CPC leaders in 2006. The forum has become a key platform for communication among members from the two parties and people from both sides. ^ top ^

Energy deals likely at Straits forum (China Daily)
2013.10.30
Companies from the mainland and Taiwan will meet in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, to discuss cooperative energy projects next week. The 2013 Cross-Straits Entrepreneurs Zijin Mountain Summit, to be held on Monday and Tuesday, is expected to attract about 600 entrepreneurs. Executives from China National Petroleum Corp, China's largest oil and gas producer, and State Grid Corp will attend the summit. Wei Jianguo, secretary-general of the summit and former vice-minister of commerce, said at a news conference on Tuesday that cross-Straits energy cooperation will be discussed and deals for major projects are expected to be signed. There will be seven smaller forums during the summit on the macroeconomy, energy and oil equipment, finance, information technology and home appliances. Zhang Guobao, former director of the National Energy Administration, will lead the mainland's energy and oil equipment delegation during the summit, according to the summit's website. His Taiwan counterpart will be Shih Yen-shiang, a former senior economic official. Summit participants will discuss what advantages each side has and how to avoid redundant investments and competitors, Wei said. The summit, first held in 2008, has become an important bridge for communication for companies from both sides, Wei said. On Sunday, Chen Deming, president of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, said the mainland would like to discuss building a cross-Straits pipeline to supply natural gas to Taiwan companies. Chen's remarks were in response to a question about infrastructure by a Taiwan representative of the ninth Cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Culture Forum in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Duan Wei, chairman of New Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp, said at the forum that Taiwan's electricity mainly relies on imported natural gas, which is always in short supply during natural disasters such as typhoons. He recommended the construction of a gas pipeline to provide a stable flow of natural gas to Taiwan, China News Service reported. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Trying times for foreign companies in China (SCMP)
2013-10-29
Companies from IBM to Starbucks are struggling with new obstacles on the mainland as Communist Party officials tussle over the direction and depth of economic reforms. The mainland's state-controlled media last week accused Starbucks of charging too much for coffee and claimed that Samsung Electronics' smartphones do not work properly. IBM's China revenue fell 22 per cent in the third quarter, which contributed to the first-ever sales decline in the company's growth-markets division, as state-owned companies started delaying orders, including for mainframes and servers. "The operating environment for foreign firms has deteriorated in the past year in a serious way," said Shaun Rein, the managing director of China Market Research Group in Shanghai. "In my 16 years in China, it's some of the worst business sentiment among foreign executives. They don't feel as welcome as they used to." When the US-China Business Council, a Washington-based trade group, surveyed US executives this month, the chief complaints included rising costs and bureaucratic red tape. Almost 70 per cent of the more than 100 US firms polled said profit margin would be flat or narrow this year. Only 39 per cent are optimistic about the next five years in China; 58 per cent felt that way in 2011. Since opening its economy to foreign investment in the late 1970s, China has been a growth engine that has generated billions of dollars in revenue for multinationals. While foreign firms struggled in the early years, the business environment improved after the nation joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001. More recently, rising labour costs have prompted some firms to put their factories elsewhere. Now, with economic growth slowing, policymakers are struggling to pull off a long-awaited transition from export-fuelled growth to an economy driven by domestic consumption. [...] Slowing growth caught up with Coca-Cola in the first half of this year, as retail sales slowed the most in 10 years, the company said in July. Low-priced water accounted for most of the beverage industry's growth as consumers cut back on soft drinks. Stronger domestic competition and more discerning shoppers have hurt sales at Nike and Yum Brands. McDonald's same-store sales fell 3.2 per cent in the third quarter, the fourth decline in a row. [...]. ^ top ^

China's top political advisor stresses non-public economy (Xinhua)
2013.10.31
Chinese top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng on Wednesday urged non-public sectors in the country's economy to grasp new development opportunities arising from deepened reforms. Addressing a meeting of professionals in non-public economic development in Beijing, Yu said the upcoming Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee will study how to "comprehensively deepen reforms." on-public sectors will enjoy new opportunities as deepening reform is set to remove systematic obstacles and give more play to the market in resource distribution, said Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. China will establish fair market circumstances and improve laws and regulations, so as to preserve justice in fulfilling rights and competition and tackle problems with legal means, said Yu, who is also a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. He said that the non-public sectors have grown from nothing to a necessity in China since the launch of reform and opening up, and that they will remain a long-term strategy. Yu also voiced expectation that professionals in the non-public sectors will help realize sustainable development and provide products and services with high quality and efficiency. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia signs cooperation deals with North Korea (news.mn)
2013.10.31
Mongolia signed off on a raft of cooperation agreements with North Korea on October 29. The Central Asian state eyes its reclusive neighbor as an aid to improving energy security and diversifying market reach for its growing mining output. Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj has signed several agreements including a pact on cooperation in the industrial and agricultural sectors, during a visit to Pyongyang. Ts.Elbegdorj, who arrived in the North Korean capital on October 28, was the first foreign head of state to meet with the country"s new leader Kim Jong Un. According to the Mongolian presidential website, agreements were also signed on cooperation in the roads and transport sector, as well as culture, sport and tourism. A 2013-15 cooperation plan between the Postal Authority of Mongolia and the North Korean Computer and ICT Centre, has also been sealed. The Mongolian delegation included Mongolian Foreign Minister L.Bold and industry and Agriculture Minister Kh.Battulga. Mongolia currently enjoys relatively good relations with North Korea, given the latter"s status as a pariah state. In March, Ulaanbataar offered to help broker a solution between North and South Korea after Pyongyang said that it was in a state of war with the south. Three months later, the announcement that Mongolian oil trading and processing company HBOil had bought a 20% stake in the operator of North Korea"s Sungri refinery surprised many. HBOil said at the time that the plan is to supply crude oil to the state-controlled refinery for processing, then re-import the products, in an attempt to reduce Mongolia"s reliance on fuel exports from Russia. Relations between Ulaanbaatar and Pyongyang have fluctuated since the end of the Cold War, when Mongolia has embraced the free market and diplomatic reforms. North Korea suspended diplomatic relations in 1999 when South Korean President Kim Dae Jung visited Mongolia, but ties were later restored. Mongolia has several times supplied food aid to North Korea in recent years. Meanwhile, somewhat ironically, it's the potential access to international markets that cooperation with the closed-off country could offer that is enticing Ulaanbaatar. The two countries are already linked by a rail line connecting Mongolia to the port of Rason. Officials involved in the HBOil deal reported in July that access to international shipping lanes via North Korea could soon expand. That would offer Mongolia's growing minerals output reach to new markets. Currently China consumes more than 90% of the country"s mineral exports, but with the giant"s growth slowing, access to Japan, South Korea and India would hedge Mongolia"s risks. ^ top ^

 

Ludivine Candiotti
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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