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
  30.5-3.6.2005, No. 65  
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Foreign Policy

China, Russia solve all border disputes
2005-06-02 Xinhua News
China and Russia reached the final agreement Thursday over their eastern border, putting an end to 40 years of negotiation. During talks in Vladivostok, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, exchanged ratification documents by their parliaments agreeing to share around fifty-fifty the last disputed land, a group of islands totaling 375 square kilometers. China and Russia share a 4,300-kilometer-long border. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Wednesday concerning the ratification of the document. He said earlier that "compromises" were necessary to find a solution acceptable to the Russian Federation's interests. "By solving the border issue through peaceful consultation, Russia and China have set a good example for other countries in settling similar disputes," said Urey Tavrovski, president of the Moscow-based magazine, The Diplomat. The two countries signed an additional agreement on the final demarcation of their eastern border during President Putin's visit to China last October. ( )

China: UN Council resolution dangerous
2005-06-02 Xinhua News
China called a resolution by Brazil, Germany, India and Japan to expand the U.N. Security Council - and hopefully give them permanent seats - "dangerous" and said it would not "take a very positive action on this". The language used by China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya appeared to be the strongest yet by Beijing. Wang made clear in an interview with The Associated Press that China opposed any move to expand the council now because the 191 U.N. member states are deeply divided. Brazil, Germany, India and Japan - known as the Group of Four or G-4 - circulated the resolution on May 16 and have indicated they will put it to a vote by the General Assembly in June. ( ) China has opposed Japan's bid for a permanent seat, complaining about what many Asians consider Japan's lack of atonement for World War II abuses. The result, Wang said, will be that U.N. members will not be able to discuss other more important issues that Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants included in a major overhaul of the United Nations to meet the global threats and challenges of the 21st century - from a new peacebuilding commission and human rights council to new measures to reduce poverty and promote education. ( )

Russia to further trilateral relations with China, India
2005-05-31 People's Daily
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko vowed on Monday that his country would promote further trilateral relations with China and India. The forthcoming meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Chinese and Indian counterparts, Li Zhaoxing and Natwar Singh, will bring the trilateral relations to a new level, said Yakovenko. The meeting, which has been slated in the far-eastern Russian port city of Vladivostok on Thursday, will be their first three- way summit. The meeting will be aimed at strengthening their cooperation in energy and other issues and "will help maintain stability and promote prosperity in the region," the Itar-Tass news agency quoted Yakovenko as saying. "Moscow, New Delhi and Beijing have close stances on many vital international issues and all support a multi-polar system of the world order."( )



China faces serious environmental problems
2005-06-02 Xinhua News
The environmental quality in China "basically remained the same" in 2004 as compared with the previous year, says a report published Thursday by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). With worsening soil erosion, urban pollution, acid rain and other environmental headaches, the situation is still "serious." The quality of urban air, surface water, offshore sea water and the ecological environment in 2004 either remained "similar" or "unchanged" or had "no remarkable improvement", according to SEPA's annual report. "The environmental problems that plagued the country in 2003 remain unchanged and call for even greater efforts," said a senior correspondent who has long been covering this beat. According to the report, the seven major rivers and 25 out of the 27 major lakes in China were polluted, some seriously. ( ) More Chinese cities suffered from acid rain as the frequency ofacid rain increased in 2004. Acid rain occurred in 298 Chinese cities, covering 56.5 percent of the total 527 cities monitored, 2.1 percentage points higher than that of 2003. The number of cities with serious acid rain (lower than pH 5.6)reached 218, accounting for 41.4 percent of the total monitored cities, up four percentage points over 2003, the report says. Statistics of 500 Chinese cities show that only 32.33 percent of domestic sewage and 57.76 percent of domestic garbage was treated in these cities on average in 2004. ( )

Government reveals plan to combat AIDS
2005-06-02 Xinhua News
AIDS and HIV are to be fought on three fronts -- prevention, intervention and treatment, announced the central government yesterday. The strategy is part of a five year plan to combat the deadly disease which affects nearly a million Chinese at least. Wang Longde, vice-minister of the Ministry of Health and the director of the Office of the Working Committee for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control under the State Council, said the government had devised a wide range of measures for its second five-year plan to bring infection under control. "First and foremost will be the emphasis on raising public awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention, which is vital to prevent the disease from spreading wider," he told China Daily. China's first five-year plan on HIV/AIDS prevention and control (2001-05) ends this year. The second--from next year to 2010--will be critical in combating the deadly disease, said Wang. AIDS/HIV first surfaced in the country in 1985, and is now mainly spreading among high-risk groups including blood sellers, drug abusers, prostitutes and homosexuals. The second part of the strategy "is to identify as many HIV carriers as soon as possible," said Wang. According to a report jointly prepared by the United Nations and the Ministry of Health in 2003, China has an estimated 840,000 HIV/AIDS recorded cases. But only 7.4 per cent of those infected have been reported. The figure last year was 12.4 per cent while the rate of reported cases around the world is 11 per cent of estimated sufferers. ( ) Thousands have been tested for HIV in Henan and other major provinces and regions where the illegal and unsafe blood donations for cash and other forms of transmission were rampant in the 1990s, the minister said. A survey in Henan last year showed that 25,000 of 280,000 blood donors in the last decade tested positive for HIV, according to provincial health authority of Henan. The nationwide figure will be released on December 1, World AIDS Day, Wang said.Three high-risk groups which are targeted for prevention and intervention are prostitutes, homosexuals and prisoners, among whom the infection rate is believed to be worryingly high. "The nation had 190 State-level surveillance and monitoring sites last year and 57 will be added this year," Wang said. At provincial level, there are about 400 testing centres. The third part of the strategy is to strengthen the "four free charges and one care" project, said Wang. The care scheme offers free medicine for HIV carriers, free and anonymous HIV tests, free education for orphans of HIV/AIDS victims and free pre-natal treatment of infected pregnant women. Elderly people who have lost children to AIDS receive free care. The central and provincial governments will continue to increase spending on HIV/AIDS control and prevention. ( )

Rural tax reform on agenda
2005-06-01 Xinhua News
A national meeting is expected to convene on experimental tax reform in rural areas in near future, the State Council, or the nation's cabinet, said at a meeting Wednesday. The meeting was chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. ( ) In 2000, China first launched its experimental reform on rural tax and fee systems in east China's Anhui Province, in an effort to standardize the tax burdens on farmers and eliminate the growing administrative and arbitrary fees. The number of provincial areas embracing the reform had grown to 20 by 2002, where 620 million farmers, or three quarters of the country's total, benefited from the reform. The outcome was that the financial burden on farmers was cut by at least 30 percent. Before the reform, Chinese farmers used to pay 120 billion yuan (about 14 billion US dollars) in taxes and fees to local and central governments each year, or 150 yuan per farmer, a hefty burden by rural Chinese standards. The Chinese government decided in late 2003 to abolish, exempt or lower 15 charges on the country's 900 million farmers. The government has announced that all taxes on special agricultural products will be repealed except for tobacco. The measures reduced the financial burden on farmers by 4.8 billion yuan annually. Beginning 2004, the agricultural tax rate was reduced by more than one percent per year on average, and agricultural taxes was rescinded in five years, according to the governmental plan. ( )

Israel Epstein: a witness to China, a lifelong writer
2005-06-01 People's Daily
World-famous journalist Israel Epstein, died of disease in Beijing on May 26 after failing to respond to medical treatment at the age of 90. Xinhua News Agency broadcasted the news about Epstein's death, praising him as an outstanding member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and eminent internationalist fighter. ( ) Chen Rinong recalls that during his 70th, 80th and 90th birthdays, Epi was either received or visited respectively by Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, and he had maintained long-term good friendly relations with Soong Ching Ling and others. Before the portrait, Ms. Huang, widow of Epstein, looked very sorrowful. Before getting married to Ms Huang, Epstein had been married twice, but without rearing any children, he once adopted two Chinese orphans, one boy and one girl In 1985, Epstein and his colleague Ms Huang came together, later they had one son and one daughter, two of the four children are living abroad and another two are in Beijing. At ordinary time, Ms. Huang lived together with Epstein as well as a housekeeper. ( ) In 1915, Israel Epstein was born in Warsaw, Poland, his father was put in jail for participating in the Jews' anti-Tsar rule, in 1917, at the age of two Epstein's family was immigrated to China. In 1931, Epstein graduated from a junior middle school and began his journalist career at the "Beijing-Tianjin Times", he served as a reporter at the UPI when he was 22 years old. "We Jews are subject to discrimination, so we must not discriminate against others. Similar fate made Epstein cherish a "heart of equality" toward the hungry, poverty-stricken Chinese people. Later, Epstein wrote in reminiscence, "My interest has gradually, yet decisively shifted to the events and development trends of China, in the decades that followed, China has actually become the only theme for my writing." The July 7, 1937 Lugouqiao (Marco Polo Bridge) incident broke out. Epstein was faced with an important option: His parents did not want to live under Japan's rule, and planned to leave China, where they had been living for over 20 years, and migrated to the United States. At the Tanggu Port, Epstein watched his parents boarding the ship. At the harbor, many landing ships loaded fully with Japanese soldiers were pulling in to shore. However, Epstein decided to stay behind. He served as reporter with UPI of the United States in 1937. In 1939, he joined the League in Defense of China sponsored and organized by Soong Ching Ling, in which he was in charge of publicity work. During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, he worked hard to report to the world's people about the heroic struggle carried out the CPC leaders, the Liberated Areas and the Chinese people. In 1951, in response to the invitation of Soong Ching Ling, he returned to China to participate in the work of starting publication of "China Reconstruct" In 1957 he was granted China's citizenship. During his lifetime, he was standing committee member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), honorary editor-in-chief of the "China Today", former "China Reconstruct", vice-chairman of the International Council of the China Industry Cooperation Association and member of the China Welfare Council, etc.

Cattles slaughtered in Beijing to stop FMD outbreak
2005-05-30 Xinhua Daily
The Agriculture Ministry confirmed reports that hundreds of cattle with foot and mouth disease (FMD) had been slaughtered near Beijing since early May. Ministry officials insisted the case was "handled properly" even though the government failed to announce it sooner. Jia Youling, director of the Veterinary Bureau of the Agriculture Ministry, also defended the handling of a foot and mouth outbreak on a farm northwest of Beijing that health and agriculture officials previously refused to confirm. A total of 3,771 cattle were slaughtered this month to stop four separate outbreaks in Beijing, two other eastern cities and the northwestern region of Xinjiang, Jia said. That included 512 on a farm in Yanqing County near Beijing. Jia said the delay in reporting was due partly to the time required to get laboratory confirmation of infections. The Chinese Government has no intention of hiding an outbreak of foot and mouth," he said. "It is not a major threat to public health," he said. "So what we need to do with all our energy and resources is to put the disease under timely control." ( ) Meanwhile, avian flu killed more than 1,000 migratory birds in Qinghai Province in an outbreak, Jia said Friday, but he said there were no reports of human cases. More than 1,000 bar-headed geese, great black-headed gulls and other birds found this month in Qinghai died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu, said Jia. ( ) Nature reserves were closed to the public and farms near migration routes were told to watch for signs of disease. ( )



Mainland tourists may visit Taiwan soon
2005-05-28 Xinhua Daily
The "mainland committee" of the Taiwan Authorities recently said they will allow mainland tourists to visit the island province on an experimental base, according to Taiwan-based media. At first, a number of mainland cities will be selected as candidate areas whose residents will be allowed to make the visit in Taiwan. Fujian Province, neighboring Taiwan across the straits, is excluded from the candidate, for the time being, due to a "high escape rate" of its visitors. The committee plans to accept 1,000 mainland tourists a day. The two sides may begin talks on the issue within this year, an official with the committee said Friday. ( )



Lhasa undergoes great changes
2005-06-03 People's Daily
Great changes have taken place in the ancient plateau city of Lhasa in the past more than half a century since the peaceful liberation of the city, especially the more than 20 years of the reform and opening up. The development of Lhasa cannot be separated from the unselfish dedications of the revolutionary predecessors, the joint efforts of all the nationalities, the cordial concerns of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council as well as the great support from the inland provinces and municipalities. After breakfast, broom in hand, Sangzhu started working as the day before: sweeping graves at burial ground. Sangzhu, 36, has worked as a keeper in the Lhasa cemetery of martyrs for 15 years. There have buried 833 martyrs who laid down their lives bravely for the peaceful liberation of Tibet, road construction, putting down rebellions and the Tibetan socialist construction. Talking about Lhasa, pious Sangzhu feels proud. Lhasa, situated on the alluvial plain at 3,650 meters above sea level, is one of the highest cities in the world. Lhasa has been the center of Tibetan politics, economy, culture and religions for a long time. ( ) Tibet was peacefully liberated in 1951. At the beginning of the liberation, Lhasa was a city with only more than 20,000 residents and a one-kilometer twisted Bharkor Street" surrounded by a group of blocks covering an area less than three square kilometers. At that time there was no modern infrastructure like urban streets, lighting, water supply and drainage system, telecommunications and energy resources. Under the care of the central government, Lhasa's construction has taken a new shape. Nowadays there are libraries, museums and shopping streets. ( )

Dalai Lama more and more unpopular among Tibetans, says chairman
2005-06-01 People's Daily
Dalai Lama has become more and more unpopular in southwestern China's Tibet Autonomous Region since what he wants is to split the region from China, regardless of its robust development momentum and sound ethnic relations, said Qianbo Puncog, chairman of the region during an exclusive interview with Xinhua. "All the locals want the current stable and sound situation in Tibet to continue but Dalai Lama, judging from his words and deeds, simply wants to destroy it and make something different," said Puncog. "And the result is he has grown more and more unpopular in Tibet." "What Dalai and some Western forces really want is nothing but splitting Tibet from China," he said. "Whatever the names he invents for Tibetan independence, his nature will remain the same. " Dalai Lama had before put forward a series of ideas puffing high degree autonomy in Tibet or establishing a "big Tibetan area" that involves four more Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu. However, according to the Chinese history, there was only one " big Tibetan area" about one thousand years ago in southwest China but no more reappeared thereafter. "As far as today's Tibet is concerned, such an area is absolutely nothing but impossible." Puncog viewed Dalai Lama's "high degree autonomy" as one intentionally invented against China's current ethnic autonomous region system, a basic one for China that has proved quite successful after effective for more than two decades. Before that, Dalai Lama had suggested a "One Country, Two Systems" solution, which is adopted by the Chinese government to resolve the Taiwan issue, for Tibet and was rejected. "The final purpose of those Western forces that support Dalai Lama or seek internationalizing the Tibet issue is nothing but splitting China by borrow hands from external interventions," he said. ( )The so-called "Tibet issue" is merely a ghost invented from nothing by some Western powers one century ago, said Puncog, claiming it boasts no grounding among the Tibetan masses. "If you have to say there are some 'Tibet issues', the issues shall be ones related to the development of Tibet," he said. "You know, what Tibet does need now is only development, no other issues can prevail." With financial and policy supports from the central government, Tibet's economy has been growing with a rapid speed in the past decade. ( ) Puncog predicted that with the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, which is known as the world's highest and most difficult one, Tibet will greet another robust round of development.


Patrick Dreher
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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