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
  24.1-28.1.2005, No. 49  
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Foreign Policy

China-Japan differences moving frictions to military field
2005-01-23 People's Daily
The year 2005 has just begun and the differences between the two neighboring countries - China and Japan, instead of shrinking, are showing a dangerous sign of gradually moving frictions to the military field. According to inside information disclosed by the Japanese Kyodo News Agency Japan Defense Agency has enacted specific action plan to defend the southwest islands. The plan decided that when something happened in the southwest islands apart from sending fighter planes and destroyers the Japan Defense Agency would dispatch as many as 55,000 soldiers of the Ground Self Defense Forces and special forces there. The so-called southwest islands mentioned in the guideline also include China's Diaoyu Island. Officials with the Japan Defense Agency said most of the southwest islands have no troops stationed there and are blank areas in terms of territory defense. The Chinese navy keeps expanding activity scope. The SDF needs to pay attention to its future movement. The target of what he said is quite obvious. This provocation on the part of Japan directly incensed China. Chinese FM spokesman Kong Quan said on January 18 that the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have been China's territory since the ancient times. Japan has different opinions in this regard. China always holds that China and Japan should solve relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations rather than take any unilateral actions. By comparison China's attitude is more restrained. Over the year Japan has on the one hand disseminated the "China military threat theory" and on the other embodied this theory in its official documents. In November, 2004 the Japan Defense Agency put up the show of revealing "three possibilities of China's attack on Japan". On December 7, 2004 Japanese PM Assistant Yoriko Kawaguchi, who was attending the Meeting of European Security Cooperation Organizations, tried to dissuade the EU from lifting China arms embargo. The Japanese Defense White Paper 2004 and the report of the Security Safeguard and Defense Strength Conference" published in November, 2004 all preached the "China military threat theory". On December 10, 2004 the Japanese cabinet passed a new Defense Plan Outline, which apart from singing the old tune of "DPRK threat theory" puts the "China military threat theory" into this official government security policy document for the first time. In 2004 Japan sped up the pace toward a military power of "Japan-US integration" and "overseas intervention" in such aspects as security strategy, relevant systems and armament etc. International public opinion believes that Japan resorts to the strategy of "a thief crying 'stop thief'" and try to fan the "China military threat theory" to clear public opinion obstacles both at home and abroad. In such an atmosphere the China-Japan security mutual trust fell even lower. The "security dilemma" of being mutually guarded has not been eased. PM Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine again killed the mutual visits by fleets of the two countries. Military exchange was in a stagnant state. Jin Xide, a research fellow at the Japan Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said "enhancing mutual trust" would be an import subject in China-Japan relations in 2005. In the new year the possibility that China and Japan make breakthrough in the security area is rather low. In 2005 the competent departments of the Chinese and Japanese governments would continue to carry out dialogues and negotiations centered on mutual differences and cooperation. These questions involve wide areas such as the demarcation of the East China Sea and oil gas field exploitation as well as economics and trade, technology, energy and environmental protection etc. The defense departments of the two countries would continue to launch security dialogues and military exchanges at various levels. Due to the high sensitivity of these areas this kind of dialogues would be influenced and limited by the China-Japan political relations. On the other hand, the possibility whether a stable security dialogue and military exchange system relatively independent of the political frictions between the two countries can be established has been listed into agenda as an important way of thinking. In recent years the thought of mutual visits by Chinese and Japanese fleets has long attracted attention as an important link to expand military exchange and enhance security mutual trust. In 2005 if the question of PM Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine is solved appropriately, political atmosphere surrounding the two countries thaws and warms up, public opinions of China and Japan grows relaxed, this projection may resurface. However, the Liberal Democratic Party - the governing party in Japan adopted a new policy guideline on Jan. 18, which proclaimed support of PM Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. This made observers of the China-Japan relations even more nervous. The Japanese economy sank into a long depression after 1991 whilst China entered an economic blast-off in the 1990s. Meanwhile the intension of the Japanese decision-making body to break through the "peace constitution" drawing on "pressure" from the US is growing increasingly clear. Its will to become a political power and a military power has grown stronger. Under the influence of these factors competition between China and Japan and their watchful mentality form a vicious circle. On the question of history the Japanese right-wring conservative forces keep instigating incidents to reverse the history of Japan's invasion of China. China is forced to make restrained response after long forbearance. All the facts prove that the one who is "holding tight to the historical question" is Japan, not China. Military disputes repeat the routine of the historical question. Japan keeps instigating incidents and China is forced to respond. The military tone of Japan's China policy is becoming increasingly thicker. Japan's China diplomacy is growing "aggressive". Today's Japanese decision-making body is deviating from the peaceful development course based on reflecting on defeated war experience and is attempting to revive the "past power and prestige" backed by might. For Japan a stable external environment built by means of good neighborhood diplomacy and peace should be a less costly and more efficient way. To choose a way of befriending distant states while attacking those nearby would not necessarily bring about Japan's increased security. Moreover, if even the neighboring countries refuse support how is it possible for Japan to fulfill its "political power dream"? Recently some people in China, failing to truly understand Japan's political intention and means, have claimed to want to "find solution for the China-Japan relations". But the prescription they wrote was so crude as to say that China should make a comprehensive concession toward Japan! The Japanese have made complete study of some Chinese's psychological weaknesses and have become tough even on questions whose nature is so clear as visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. Jin Xide believes that we should have a clear understanding and accept the reality that the China-Japan "chilly politics" cannot be completely avoided, and make better mental preparation for the fluctuation of the China-Japan political relations, give up the illusion of making unilateral concession so as to exchange for a "hot-politics" situation. This way will be more conducive to calmer and rational handling of the China-Japan political frictions and steady advance of the China-Japan relations.

China, India to hold first-ever strategic dialogue
2005-01-23 PLA Daily
Seeking to upgrade bilateral relationship, China and India will hold their first-ever "strategic dialogue" here tomorrow, according to diplomatic sources here Sunday. At the talks, the Chinese delegation would be headed by Vice Foreign Minister for Asian Affairs Wu Dawei while the Indian side would be led by Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran. The aim of the strategic dialogue is to broaden the scope of the blooming bilateral relationship, allowing both sides to exchange notes on global and regional security issues, the sources said.

China-Britain relations enter "mature" period, says Chinese premier
2005-01-23 People's Daily
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Friday in Beijing that the relationship between China and Britain has entered a "mature period." "The leaders of the two countries have treated bilateral ties from long-term and strategic perspectives to make the relations develop steadily and enriched with new contents," said Wen in a meeting with British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw. Wen said China and Britain, both permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations, shoulder common responsibility for safeguarding world peace and development. He said China will maintain high-level exchanges and cooperation in various fields with Britain to push forward their comprehensive and strategic partnership. Wen expressed appreciation for Britain's adherence to one-China policy. Straw said China and its relationship with Britain have made remarkable achievements since he visited China two and a half years ago, noting that the two countries established comprehensive and strategic partnership last May when Premier Wen visited Britain. The two countries have kept close contact on international and regional issues, Straw said, adding that Britain is willing to expand cooperation with China in all fields including political and economic areas. Straw said that Britain and China focus efforts on the reform of the United Nations, working closely to better the future of Africa and tackling the threat from global climate change. Straw gave the keynote speech, titled "Britain and China: A Growing Global Partnership," at a seminar on multilateral responses to global challenges held in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Straw said these efforts would help consolidate and further strengthen Britain-China relations, which continuously progressed and deepened in the past years. The two countries have maintained close contact over in recent years, and have cooperated in many international affairs, Straw said. British trade with China has doubled over the last five years. The comprehensive strategic partnership not only benefits the two countries, but also contributes to world stability and development, he said. Straw said Britain supports the European Union's reconsideration of the arms embargo on China it has maintained since 1989. Britain supports the acknowledgment of China's full market economy status, and will maintain its support in the future, he said. More than 30 government officials, experts and scholars from the two countries attended in the seminar. Straw arrived in Beijing Thursday for an official visit to China as guest of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.



Xinjiang bus blast blamed on disgruntled coal miner
2005-01-25 People's Daily
A bus blast that killed 11 people in Xinjiang last Thursday was set off by a man dissatisfied with compensation for a work-related injury, state media reports and Xinjiang police officials say. Bai Qinghua had his fingers crushed last March while working at a coal mine in Usu, not far from the blast site in Karamay, China News Service reported. A Xinjiang police spokeswoman yesterday said Bai, who was killed in the bus blast, was unhappy with the 20,000 yuan he received in compensation for his injury and had repeatedly threatened to carry out explosions. He reportedly telephoned the mine owner asking for a further 200,000 yuan in damages before the bus explosion. It was initially feared that the blast was the work of local Uygur separatists fighting for an independent state. But police said Bai was a member of the mainland's Han ethnic majority. "This has nothing to do with his ethnicity. It is just an ordinary criminal case," the police spokeswoman said.

China opposes any form of illegal migration
2005-01-28 Xinhuanet
China opposes any form of illegal migration and is willing to crack down on it through international cooperation. Answering a question on whether the eight Chinese kidnapped in Iraq were illegal workers, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan reiterated China's stance on this matter. He said the Chinese government will be investigating how its eight kidnapped nationals entered Iraq through intermediaries. The eight Chinese citizens had been working at a textile factory in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf and were kidnapped by gunmen in mid-January on their way to Jordan. Kong Quan also confirmed that the eight hostages returned to China on Wednesday night and looked to be in good physical condition.

Survey: Seven social problems hinder China
2005-01-25 People's Daily
A survey on "2004-2005 Social Situation Analysis and Prediction" made by China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) shows that China is ushering in what could be its best period in the development of its economy and society in the past more than 10 years. However, seven social problems, including loss of farmland and a widening financial gap between rural and urban areas, are hindering the development of China. High attention needs to be paid to. According to the latest issue of Outlook Weekly, Li Peilin, research fellow on these problems pointed out China's economic and social resources last year were allocated towards the objective of favorable, sustainable and coordinated development. China is ushering in what could be its best period in the development of its economy and society in the past more than 10 years. Meanwhile, there are some austere social problems. China should paid more attention to some special national conditions that are different from the development experiences of other countries and regions. Aggravating social contradictions due to loss of farmland In the process of fast industrialization and urbanization, the loss of farmland has brought a serious problem to the society. Some 40 million farmers have lost their land in the country. Income gap further widened According to the sample survey on 50,000 urban residents across the country in 2004, the per capita disposable income was 13,332 yuan for the highest 10 per cent income group, or a 2.8 times higher than national average level while that in the lowest 10 per cent income group was 1,397 yuan, only equivalent to 29 per cent of the national average level. The income proportion between these two groups stood at 9.5:1, or relatively higher than 9.1:1 in 2003. The income gaps between regions, trades and industries also were on the increase. There is a long-term difficulty in employment From the view of labor demand and supply, some 24 million urban people need to work. They include the newly increased laborers and the laid-off workers, and there are only 9 million new job opportunities. Therefore, the contradiction of supply over demand in labor force has become very obvious. Apart from that, there is also a new employment problem for university graduates. It is reported that a total of 740,000 university graduates cannot find jobs. Poverty-relief work still high on the agenda in the new century. The number of people in poverty has dropped from 250 million to 29 million and the poverty rate from 30 per cent to 3 per cent in the past 25 years since adopting the reform and opening policy. However, the current rural absolute poverty standard is below 625 yuan per year for each farmer in China, well below the 900-yuan standard in accordance with the UN international poverty standard. China is now still in the bottleneck stage of poverty reduction. Anti-corruption drive should be in line with political system reform. The institutions involving discipline inspection, supervision, procuratorial work and audition in China have put a lot of human and material resources into anti-corruption campaign. However, the corruptive cases have still occurred one after another. China must perfect the anti-corruption system. Sustainable development is seriously hampered by resources, energy and environment. The per capita resources in China are quite low. The low utilization rate with high extravagance in resources and discharge of pollutants far exceeds the capacity of environmental self-purification. The pollution of water and atmosphere in some river valleys and cities is very serious with aggravating ecological destruction and land desertification in some regions. Attention should be paid to the social and psychological changes in the fast-economic growth period With high-speed economic growth in China in recent two years, the people in low-income group are more dissatisfied with their life. That is because the basic prices for food have increased in fast-economic growth. The consumption on food that takes up 50 percent to 60 percent of their total expenditure has a direct impact on their satisfactoriness towards life. Meanwhile the increasing gap between the rich and the poor further influences their social altitude and confidence.

CPC to strengthen multi-party cooperation, political consultation
2005-01-25 People's Daily
The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held a meeting Monday in Beijing to discuss issues on how to further strengthen multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC. The move is of "great importance" to developing socialist democracy, maintaining social stability and unity and building a socialist harmonious society, said the meeting. Chaired by General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Hu Jintao, the meeting discussed a draft of guidelines put forward by the CPC Central Committee on further strengthening construction of the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC. "Practice has shown the system conforms with the situation in China and possesses great superiority and strong vitality," the meeting said. The meeting noted that since China's reform and opening to the outside world, important progress has been made in promoting cooperation between the CPC and democratic parties. The democratic parties and personages without party affiliation have been playing further roles in participation in and discussion of political and government affairs and democratic supervision, it added. The meeting stressed that development should be the fundamental task of multi-party cooperation and political consultation. In addition, cooperation with democratic parties and personages without party affiliation should be strengthened and alliance with non-CPC members consolidated. Promotion of socialist political civilization must proceed from China's actual conditions and persevere in taking the political development road with Chinese characteristics. "We should draw upon the beneficial achievements in political civilization of the mankind, but never totally imitate other countries' modes of political system," the meeting said. The guidelines discussed at the meeting have taken into consideration of opinions of the central committees of democratic parties and representatives of personages without party affiliation. They will be officially issued after further soliciting their views.

Minister pledges nine years schooling for all
2005-0128 China Daily
All Chinese children of primary and middle school age will have access to classrooms within two years, the minister for education announced yesterday. Children in poor central and western regions of country will have access to primary and middle schools to bring the remaining "8 per cent of rural areas without education" in line with the rest of the nation, said Zhou Ji. "We aim to upgrade educational development in these areas and minimize the disparity between the backward western provinces and the better developed eastern regions," said the minister at a news conference of the State Council Information Office in Beijing. Most of the country has had primary and middle school level learning programmes for years, Zhou said. "The central government will allocate 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) to build 7,730 boarding schools in 955 counties across the country, in order to accommodate the 2.03 million students," he added. Under the new scheme, all children will recieve nine years of schooling. Zhou set out the education ministry's stall for the coming year. Expanding mutual recognition of higher learning academic deg-rees with foreign countries, and improving efficiency of Sino-foreign jointly-run schools and intermediary service agencies for Chinese self-financed students going abroad for study are on the agenda, he said.



China publishes historical documents on Taiwan
2005-01-23 People's Daily
China has published a vast collection of historical documents concerning Taiwan, giving abundant proof of Taiwan's close link with China's mainland. The collection comprises 100 volumes, including a historical record of the Chinese central government's administration of Taiwan, pedigrees of clans of the mainland's Fujian Province and Taiwan and historical events in Taiwan, according to a symposium held here on the event Friday. Taiwan residents are mostly descendants of mainland migrants, many from Fujian province. "The collection provides indisputable historical record showing the inseparable historical and cultural links between Taiwan and the mainland," Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said at the symposium. "It profoundly reveals the 'China attributes' of Taiwan. It also constitutes a powerful retort against 'de-Sinolization' efforts of Taiwan authorities." "We are opposed to 'Taiwan independence', but we love our Taiwan compatriots," said Wang Zaixi, deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. "The vast number of Taiwan compatriots wish for social stability, economic growth and peace across the Taiwan Straits. We'll continue to work unremittingly for peace across the Taiwan Straits." The collection of documents, jointly published by the Jiuzhou Press and Xiamen University Press, is scheduled to be released in Taiwan in March.

Beijing to mark anniversary of Jiang's proposal on Taiwan issue
2005-01-27 People's Daily
A gathering will be held at the Great Hall of the People here Friday to mark the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Eight-Point Proposal on the reunification of the motherland by then-President Jiang Zemin. Representatives of all walks of life are expected to attend the event, at which a central leader will make a speech, according to Li Weiyi, a spokesman of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office. Speaking at a regular news briefing Wednesday, the spokesman said Jiang's proposal has played an important role in pushing forward the development of the cross-straits relations in the past decade. Implementing Jiang's proposal "is of great importance for stabilizing and normalizing the cross-straits relationship, as well as for peace and stability in the Asian-Pacific Region," Li said.

Taiwan forbids students to take charter flights
2005-01-28 PLA Daily
A Chinese mainland official expressed regrets that the Taiwan authorities have forbidden Taiwan students studying on the Chinese mainland to take charter flights back home during the Lunar New Year. Li Weiyi, spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council, or China's cabinet, said at a regular press conference that the mainland always hopes that Taiwan students studying on the mainland and Taiwan compatriots could travel across the Straits during the festival by the charter flights. ( ) Li said that Taiwan students studying on the mainland, who are not economically independent, deserve more care and protection. "We hope the Taiwan side to take careful considerations over the issue," Li said. ( ) A major reason for Taiwan authorities' decision was that students attending university on the mainland are studying without the approval of the Taiwan authorities. ( )



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G7 to talk about the yuan
2005-01-28 China Daily
China's finance minister and central bank governor will discuss the yuan the Chinese currency with their counterparts at the upcoming Group of Seven (G7) meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said yesterday. Minister of Finance Jin Renqing and Governor Zhou Xiaochuan of the People's Bank of China will attend the G7 finance ministers' meeting in London next week. "They will explain to delegates the current situation of China's economy and the government's ideas and views on this issue (of the yuan)," Kong said. He was responding to a question about US President George W. Bush's comment on Wednesday that the Chinese currency will be high on the G7 meeting's itinerary. Kong said China and the United States have been communicating on the exchange rate issue for a long time. Vice-Premier Huang Ju is leaving for Switzerland today to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos to talk about China's economic and social situation, Kong said. Also responding to US President Bush's talk on Wednesday that he will "constantly remind" Chinese leaders to make progress on human rights, Kong said such a reminder is uncalled-for but equal dialogue is welcome. "Anyone observant is able to see China's process of improving democracy and the rule of law," said Kong.

Coal shortage could worsen this year
2005-01-28 China Daily
China's coal shortage is expected to grow this year as supply fails to keep pace with mounting demand, according to a senior official from the China Coal Industry Association. Pu Hongjiu, deputy director of the association, said the nation's coal consumption is expected to increase this year by 120 million tons to 2.1 billion tons - a rise of 6 per cent. Although that is slower than last year's growth of 12 per cent, demand will continue to outpace supply. China's coal output can only increase by 100 million tons this year with the opening of several new mines, Pu told reporters on Wednesday, but did not reveal how much actual output he expected this year. The nation's collieries produced 1.96 billion tons of coal last year, a year-on-year rise of 13.2 per cent. Pu indicated that even the additional coal supply of 100 million tons this year may not be realized. Small coal mines at county level, which accounted for 35 per cent of coal output last year, may not maintain their output levels because they are constrained by poor output safety records. Small mines with a production capacity of at least 200 million tons have to be shut down because they lack of necessary safety control facilities, according to Pu. But Pu did not give a specific timetable for their closure. ( ) Electricity consumption maintained a 15 per cent growth rate over the past two years, with a great degree of this coming from the energy-hungry steel, cement, aluminium and automobile industries. Adding to the woes, transportation problems on the rail network meant that coal - mainly from northern China - had increased difficulties reaching many of its consumers in eastern and southern regions. The coal shortage has led to power cuts in many parts of the nation, with the tight supply situation expected to continue this year, said Pu. Coal stockpiles at power plants can only last for eight days, with plants in Hunan, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces having only enough coal to last for three days. But an official from the association yesterday said it was still too early to have a clear picture of this year's coal market. Coal demand largely depends on whether the government's move to rein back the rampant investment in energy-hungry industries can take effect. ( ) Industry insiders said much uncertainty remains about coal supply because the coal supply contracts have not been completely agreed. At the annual coal ordering conference earlier this month, more than 900 million tons of coal supply contracts were concluded, 80 million tons more than the previous year, according to statistics from the association. The supply under the so-called "key contracts" increased by 30 per cent to 618 million tons. Key contracts allow users enjoy government-backed lower prices for coal. But industry insiders said most of the contracts did not specify the prices. The contracts signed only to help arrange transportation. But the contracts may not be executed if negotiations over coal prices break down in the future, the insiders said.


Susanne Schuetz
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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