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
  22.8-26.8.2005, No. 77  
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Foreign Policy

Chinese president to visit US, Canada, Mexico
2005-08-26 People's Daily
Chinese President Hu Jintao will pay state visits to the United States, Canada and Mexico, and attend the United Nations summit marking the 60th anniversary of the world body from Sept. 5 to 17, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan in Beijing Thursday. Hu will visit the above three nations at the invitation of US President George W. Bush, Canadian Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson and Mexican President Vicente Fox, said Kong.

Peace Mission' 05 ends in blaze of glory
2005-08-26 China Daily
Shandong: Defence ministers of China and Russia yesterday declared their first-ever joint military exercises a resounding success. The eight-day manoeuvres wrapped up yesterday with the launching of an 81-minute forced isolation drill at the Weibei firing range in Shandong Province. At 11:00 am, two strategic missile carrying Tu-95MS jets flew to the drill zone after a four-and-half hour flight from their Russian airbase. An A-50 early warning aircraft then established an airborne command centre directing war planes taking part in the operation. Four Tu-22M3 long-range bombers, also flying in from their Russian airbase, launched attacks on 'enemy' positions 7 minutes later. A total of 18 jet fighters in nine batches launched air strikes on "enemy troops," their "central command" and "defences." The joint artilleries rained hundreds of shells onto the frontline and other targets deep in enemy territory. Bombs carrying propaganda leaflets were also fired onto enemy positions in a psychological tactic to shake the enemy's will. A total of four Russian Il-76 cargo jets and four similar Chinese cargo jets dropped 24 combat vehicles onto the battle field Chinese and Russian airborne units then parachuted 86 troops into the fray. Chinese Defence Minister Cao Gangchuan and his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov watched the drill and attended the closing ceremony, as well as lunching with soldiers from the two armies and inspecting a parade of troops taking part in the exercise. The eight-day exercise, dubbed "Peace Mission 2005," began on August 18 in the Russian port of Vladivostok and shifted on Saturday to China. The two armies carried out a maritime blockade drill on Tuesday and launched an amphibious landing on Wednesday. Speaking to the press at the conclusion of the manoeuvres, the Chinese and Russian defence ministers reiterated that the drill neither targeted any third party nor hurt the interests of any other country. Cao said the joint military exercises have increased the ability of the two armies to deal with new threats and struck at terrorism, extremism and separatism. The joint drills improved the strategic co-operative partnership between China and Russia, said Cao, adding that bilateral defence co-operation will deepen in the future. Ivanov said that co-ordination between air forces, navies, land forces, airborne troops and marine corps had shown a high degree of tactical expertise. "That such large-scale exercises are taking place demonstrates that our military co-operation is at a high level," he said. Ivanov said the two countries will hold more joint military exercise in the future. Cao, also vice-chairman of China's Central Military Commission, said the Shanghai Co-operation Organization is playing an increasing role in maintaining peace and stability and pushing economic development in the region.

New hopes of nuclear deal with Pyongyang
2005-08-26 SCMP
Six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons programme may resume next week and are likely to make more progress than the previous round, China's top envoy to the forum was quoted as saying yesterday. "The talks could resume from September 2," visiting Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei was quoted by Mizuho Fukushima, leader of Japan's Social Democratic Party, as telling her in a meeting. Ms Fukushima said Mr Wu also said: "I think there will be more progress than before." But a North Korean source told Interfax news agency: "In our opinion, there is little chance that the fourth round of the six-way talks could be resumed next week." The two Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia met in Beijing for nearly two weeks before breaking off earlier this month with a decision to reconvene next week. The talks were the first in more than a year. There has been a flurry of diplomatic activity ahead of next week, including contacts between US and North Korean officials, in a bid to avoid another breakdown. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon met on Tuesday in Washington, and Japan's representative to the forum will also hold meetings with his US counterpart. On Wednesday, a senior South Korean official said he was optimistic about prospects for a deal under which the North would abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions because Pyongyang has been presented with Washington's best-ever offer. In a sign that the US position was softening ahead of the planned resumption of talks, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the top US negotiator, said on Tuesday the issue of the North having a civilian nuclear plan was a "theoretical, downstream" issue. North Korea's insistence on the right to have a civilian nuclear programme was the key sticking point in the recent negotiations. The US fears it may be used for military purposes.

China, Africa to further cooperation
2005-08-23 Xinhuanet
The Fourth Senior Officials Meeting of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum concluded here Tuesday and African delegates said that they hope to improve cooperation with China, especially by enhancing trade and economicties. Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan told African delegation heads that China has proposed to promote the third ministerial meeting of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in 2006 to a summit meeting. "China will listen to African leaders' comments on the proposaland we believe it will be a success," Tang said at during the closing ceremony of the two-day meeting. "China will stick to the road of peaceful development. We seek harmony and development in domestic affairs while promoting cooperation and safeguarding peace in external relations," Tang said. Wei Jianguo, co-chair of the Secretariat of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the forum and vice minister of commerce, said at the closing ceremony that the forum has become a platform of China and Africa for enhancing dialogue and promoting cooperation for common development. Eleih-Elle Etian, dean of the African diplomatic corps to Chinaand Cameroonian ambassador, said on behalf of the African delegations that they welcome China's proposal to hold an Africa-China summit. China fulfilled its commitment to cooperation with Africa under the framework of the forum, he said, hoping that China increases investment in Africa and expand trade with Africa. He also reiterated Africa's support of the one-China policy. Alfred Nkurunziza, Burundian ambassador to China, said African countries have carried out fruitful cooperation with China, which is "useful and helpful." He appreciated China's support to Africa in the fields of health care, agriculture and education, saying Burundi hopes for more cooperation with China. Felix Ngoma, director of Asia-Oceania of the Congolese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Chinese companies invested mostly in construction and sanitation, and have built many large structures in Congo, such as broadcasting and television buildings, dams, hydropower stations and hospitals. "It is our hope to extend the trade and economic ties to more fields, such as manufacturing, regarding Africa's rich resources and market access to other countries," he said. ()

Serbia-Montenegro to deepen political, economic ties with China
2005-08-22 People's Daily
Serbia- Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic said on Sunday that his country and China would have intensive political and economic contacts, building on the traditional friendship. Following talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in the Montenegrin seaside resort of Milocer, Marovic said he expected to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao during the UN meetings in New York next month. Marovic said the first and foremost topic between the two countries is the expansion of economic cooperation, as China is currently the largest emerging market in the world. He thanked the Chinese foreign minister for his understanding of pending issues relating to the European future of Serbia- Montenegro. Minister Li said that he had very successful talks with President Marovic and that China resolutely supported the people of Serbia-Montenegro to decide about their future and interests. "Our two countries will forever be friendly and good partners, so as to contribute together to world peace, stability and partnership," Li said. Li, who arrived in Serbia-Montenegro on Friday afternoon on a two-day visit, left for Macedonia on Sunday.

Chinese premier meets Thai FM
2005-08-25 Xinhuanet
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met here Thursday with Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon. The two exchanged views on China-Thailand ties and the cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

UN torture investigator to make first trip to China
2005-08-24 SCMP
The UN human rights investigator dealing with torture will make an unprecedented trip to China this year, the UN Human Rights Commission said yesterday. Special rapporteur Manfred Nowak will visit Beijing, Jinan, Urumqi, Yining and Lhasa during his visit in November and early December. "The special rapporteur will meet government officials and representatives of civil society, among others, and visit detention facilities," the commission said. Mr Nowak has insisted on being allowed to visit the detention centres and jails of his choice, and on being able to speak to detainees in private. Although Beijing has opened up to some UN human rights experts in recent years, it has never received the world body's specialist in charge of examining allegations of torture. "There are all kinds of allegations about the treatment in re-education-through-labour camps," Mr Nowak said, adding that Beijing had not stipulated any conditions for his trip.

UNHCR opens first Procurement Information Centre in China
2005-08-25 People's Daily
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Thursday opened its first Procurement Information Center (PIC) in Yiwu, a city of east China's Zhejiang province. In order to help and protect 192 million refugees and those in refugee-like situation in many different places and types of environment, especially during emergencies, UNHCR purchases goods and services worldwide. Michel Gabauden, a UNHCR representative in China and Mongolia, said, "The objective of the PIC is to support UNHCR's sourcing activities in China." "Yiwu, as the largest marketplace of small commodities, owns good transportation facilities, which can satisfy UNHCR's requirements in sourcing field, so we established the PIC in Yiwu," he added. Dong Hong, deputy director of the international economic and technological commission, said the insufficient information exchange has prevented UNHCR from procuring in China and he hoped the establishment of the PIC will help strengthen exchanges between the two sides. As China is becoming one of the most important production basesin the world, UNHCR established a Regional Supply Unit in Beijing in 2004, with the aim of sourcing and assisting in the procurement of goods to support refugees.

FM: UN reform should consider concerns of developing countries
2005-08-22 Xinhuanet
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said in an article that the United Nations (UN) reform should consider the concerns of the developing nations. The United Nations should "undergo reforms as may be necessary and reasonable, giving, in particular, scope to the rational demands and concerns of developing countries to the biggest extent possible," said Li in the article titled "peace, development and cooperation." Li said China stands for stronger multilateralism, greater democracy and rule of law in international relations, and the establishment of a fair and rational international order. Talking about China's foreign policy, Li said China has put forward some new thinking and new propositions in diplomatic practice, thus enriching and developing its independent foreign policy of peace. China is "actively advocating the new order that is fair and rational," said Li, adding that China is implementing the new approach to development centered on equality and mutual benefit, and the developing countries should be helped to participate on an equal footing in international economic affairs. China is promoting the new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation, said Li. "China supports security dialogue, regional security cooperation mechanisms and stronger multilateral security cooperation, as a way to address security threats and challenges facing all countries," he said. ()

No visas needed for tour groups visiting Russia
2005-08-25 SCMP
Russia will allow Chinese tour groups to enter the country without visas from today, a spokesman for Russia's State Agency for Tourism said. Under the new regime, tour groups of five or more people plus a leader would be allowed to travel throughout Russia without visas, but they would still have to register their plans in advance through Russian tour firms.


Domestic Policy

CPC, PFP to hold folk forum in September
2005-08-23 People's Daily
A forum aiming to promote economic cooperation and exchanges across the Taiwan Straits is scheduled to be held in Shanghai from September 14 to 16, said a mainland official in Beijing on August 22. The forum, dubbed a folk "Jingying Forum", will be jointly held by the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Taiwan's People First Party (PFP) as an activity to boost further exchanges and communication between the two parties, said Chen Yunlin, director of the Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee. As a crucial step towards the implementation of the communique issued by General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Hu Jintao and PFP chairman James Soong on May 12, 2005, the forum will positively push relations across the Taiwan Straits towards peaceful and stable development, said Chen at a meeting with a PFP delegation. More than 100 experts, scholars and entrepreneurs across the Straits will be invited to the forum to give advice in carrying out the consensus reached by the two party leaders in May, he said.

Two bus accidents claim 33, injure 56
2005-08-25 Xinhuane
Two major road accidents in South and Central China have killed 33 people and injured 56 others. On Tuesday night, a kindergarten bus killed 19 people and injuring 16 in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, when it swerved to avoid a bicycle and crashed onto a pavement crowded with snack vendors, workers and couples on an outdoor dance floor. Yesterday, a bus crash in Lichuan, a city in Central China's Hubei Province, left a further 14 dead. The accident in Shenzhen happened at 8:25 pm when the bus driver, a 24-year-old man surnamed Li, swerved to avoid a cyclist and ploughed onto the crowded pavement. The driver, now in police custody, and a male teacher, the only passenger aboard, were both uninjured in the accident. Witnesses say the bus was crossing an intersection at a bridge as the lights changed when a cyclist pulled out in front of it. () In Lichuan, a city in Central China's Hubei Province, another traffic accident involving a bus killed 14 passengers yesterday, Xinhua reported. More than 40 people were hurt, including nine who are in a critical condition, local police said. The accident happened at 6:50 am on a section of State Highway 318 in Moudao Township. A bus from Wenling, a city in East China's Zhejiang Province, crashed through the roadside barrier and slid down a 100-metre bank. ()

Jilin shuts 70 coal mines for inspection
2005-08-22 China Daily
Following the coal mine flooding in Shulan, Jilin Province, which trapped 16 miners underground last Friday, the province has ordered 70 adjacent coal mines at risk of being flooded to suspend production for safety check-ups. A circular jointly issued by three provincial coal mine work safety watchdogs said any coal mine that does not meet the requirements for safe production will not be allowed to resume production. The accident occurred at the Fengguang coal mine in Shulan, Jilin Province, on Friday, with 136 of the 152 miners working in the No 5 shaft escaping the flooded coal mine alive. But 16 others remain trapped underground. ()

SZ man contracts pig-borne disease
2005-08-23 Xinhuanet
The provincial health department confirmed Shenzhen's first case of the pig-borne disease Monday. The patient, a 27-year-old man from Chongqing, had been living in Yantian District and never left the city recently before contracting the disease. The man, whose name was not disclosed, used to be a vegetable vendor. He had been engaged in cutting and transporting of frozen pork and chicken in the Shajingtou market in Yantian since July 31. On Aug. 1, one of his hands were torn and blistered, but he still carried on with his work without covering the wounds. On Aug. 7, he developed a pain in his abdomen and had a fever. On Aug. 10, he went to see a doctor as his symptoms became more serious. He was diagnosed with meningitis Thursday. Li Hongzhong, Shenzhen's Party chief, and Mayor Xu Zongheng asked government departments to activate an emergency mechanism and enhance supervision over canteens and restaurants Friday after receiving a report of the case. They urged the authorities to intensify the prevention of the disease, publicity of relevant knowledge and quarantine of pork processors and dealers. People close to the man have been under close medical observation, and no one has any suspected symptom. The Shajingtou market has been disinfected. Samples of the pork in four stores in the Buji agricultural wholesale market that sold frozen meat to the man are under inspection.

Farmers protest over alleged lead poisoning
2005-08-25 China Daily
MEISHAN, Farmers staging a week-long protest against a factory they say causes lead pollution finally felt vindicated as the local government pledged to settle the problem yesterday. The life of most villagers in Meishan Town in Changxing County of East China's Zhejiang Province is now back to normal as they said they believe in the government's efforts to solve the dispute. "I trust the government that things will be settled on an equal footing," Hu Fengqiang, 40, a local farmer from Qiuwu Village, told China Daily yesterday. Farmers are waiting for the final environmental test results to see whether or not the plant is affecting the surrounding environment, said Hu, whose 14-year-old son has been diagnosed with having a higher-than-normal concentration of lead in his blood. Hu's son is one of 700 children from Meishan Town who were diagnosed in May with a lead concentration in their blood exceeding normal levels. Although some children were diagnosed with lead levels above normal levels, it does not necessarily mean they were poisoned by lead from the factory, said Hu Yili, vice-director of the Changxing Health Bureau. Hu said that there is no national standard for a child's blood lead content and the current standard used for classifying normal or abnormal was introduced from the United States, that is, 100 ug (microgrammes) per litre of blood. About 1,300 children from Meishan Town have come to hospital to be checked for possible lead poisoning with 58 per cent showing abnormalities in the proportion of lead in their blood. However, only 5.5 per cent showed a higher proportion about 250 ug (microgrammes) per litre of blood, which needs medical treatment. It is suspected that waste disposed by the Tian Neng Battery Company more than 600 metres away from the nine neighbouring villages is to blame for the poisoning, Hu said. ()

Uygurs arrested over `separatist plot'
2005-08-25 SCMP
Police in Xinjiang region have arrested 10 Uygur activists and accused them of plotting independence and separatism, a rights body and police said. "Authorities were accusing them of splitting the country to build the east Turkestan republic," said Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the German-based World Uygur Congress. The Wushi county police station confirmed the arrests.

Corrupt official gets death penalty
2005-08-26 China Daily
A local court in Central China's Hunan Province sentenced a house fund management director to death on Wednesday for embezzling around 120 million yuan (US$14.8 million). Li Shubiao, former director of the Public Housing Fund Management Centre of Chenzhou, Central China's Hunan Province, said he would lodge an appeal after the Chenzhou Intermediate People's Court found him guilty, local media reported. As treasurer of the fund, which was supposed to help 200,000 workers purchase private houses, Li misappropriated the money over a five-year period from 1999 and squandered part of it gambling in Macao casinos. It is reported to be the first such case involving such a large amount of public housing funds. ()

Income gap critical by 2010, experts warn
2005-08-22 China Daily
China's growing income gap is likely to trigger social instability after 2010 if the government finds no effective solutions to end the disparity. An expert team at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security recently delivered the warning in a newly designed system detailing the populous country's statistics for income distribution. Calling upon the government to keep alert over growing income disparities, the team found that the income gap in China has been expanding since 2003, despite some measures in place to increase income among those in poverty. The team, headed by Su Hainan, president of the ministry's Income Research Institute, has used "blue-, green-, yellow- and red-lights" to predict income disparity trends. The yellow light warns the government to be alert and the red one means the disparity is totally unacceptable. "Income disparity in China is in the yellow-light area now," the team warned. "We are going to hit the red-light scenario after 2010 if there are no effective solutions in the next few years. Su's team found little reason to be optimistic about bridging the urban-rural income gap. Incomes in cities are growing at 8-9 per cent annually, while the rate in rural regions has averaged a year-on-year growth of 4-5 per cent. ()

China issues white paper on gender equality and women's development
2005-08-24 People's Daily
China on Wednesday issued a white paper titled Gender Equality and Women's Development in China, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Fourth UN World Conference on Women. "It has always been a basic state policy of China to promote equality between men and women," says the white paper, issued by the Information Office of China's State Council. China is a developing country with the largest population in the world. Of its total population of 1.3 billion, women account for about half. The promotion of gender equality and the overall development of women is not only of great significance for China's development, it also has a special influence on the efforts for the advancement of mankind, it says. The white paper gives account of women's equal rights with men, and women's development in nine aspects, including politics, economy, culture, society and family life. The white paper says that China now has built a complete legal system to protect women's rights, and to promote gender equality. () There is a long way to go, and arduous tasks should be made to achieve gender equality and promote women's development in China, the white paper says.

State Council Information Office has new head
2005-08-25 Xinhuanet
The State Council, or China's central government, has appointed Cai Wu as Director of its Information Office (SCIO). Cai, born in 1949, was deputy head of the International Department of CPC Central Committee before the new appointment. He was appointed to replace Zhao Qizheng. Meanwhile, the State Council appointed Feng Jianzhong and Xiao Tian as deputy directors general of the State General Administration of Sport (SGDS), to replace the SGDS deputy director general Zhang Faqiang.



Tibetan people hail great progress in Tibet
2005-08-24 Xinhuanet
People from all walks of life in Tibet, southwest China, gathered here Wednesday to express their gladness at the great changes in their lives over the past 40 years. Gaesang Zhuoma, a village head, said that the development of township businesses had helped lift the per-capita income to 3,786yuan (485 US dollars) in her village, allowing most villagers to live a better-off life. As regard to the political, economic and social development of Tibet 40 years after it was turned into an autonomous region, Wangqen, former president of Tibet University, said a retrospective look at Tibet gave him heartfelt gratitude to the Communist Party of China and the government. The retired man said that under the leadership of the Party and government, the people in Tibet have achieved notable social and economic advancement, and there have been fundamental changes in people's lives over the past 40 years. Legqog, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress, said that the past 40 years have witnessed the fastest social development in Tibet's history. ()



Taiwanese opposition group heads to Beijing
2005-08-22 SCMP
An eight-member delegation from Taiwan's opposition People First Party (PFP), led by Secretary-General Chin Chin-sheng, left for Beijing yesterday to discuss with mainland officials details of a high-level cross-strait forum in Shanghai next month. "In addition to discussing cross-strait financial exchanges, we will also exchange views with mainland officials over [PFP] chairman James Soong Chu-yu's plan to preside over the forum in Shanghai in September," Mr Chin said before departing Taiwan, adding that another topic would be cross-strait charter flights. The forum, which will focus on banking, insurance, currency and the appreciation of the yuan, is being held to consolidate a co-operation agreement reached between Mr Soong and President Hu Jintao during Mr Soong's landmark mainland visit in May. Mr Chin said the PFP hoped to use the forum to set up a communication platform with the mainland. Mr Chin and his group are scheduled to return to Taiwan tomorrow.



No agreement with EU at textile talks
2005-08-26 China Daily
China and the European Union failed to reach an agreement yesterday at talks in Beijing aimed at solving the current textile impasse. The two sides conducted serious talks towards an effective solution to the thorny issue, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said in a statement. The Chinese side expressed great concern over the Chinese textile stockpile at EU customs, while the EU admitted the policy did not meet the interests of its domestic traders and consumers, MOFCOM said. The EU delegation was headed by Fritz-Harald Wenig, the trade director of the European Commission. Chinese negotiators were led by the director of MOFCOM's foreign trade department, Lu Jianhua. According to statistics published by EU customs on Wednesday, eight of 10 categories of Chinese textiles have already reached their quota limit, set in June. The June agreement restricts annual growth of EU textile imports from China to 8 - 12.5 per cent over the coming three years. Forty-eight million sweaters, 17 million pairs of trousers and hundreds of tons of other textile products are piling up at EU borders, unable to access the market, statistics from EU show. Chinese textile dealers are also keeping an eye on the issue, Cao Xinyu, vice-chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Textiles told China Daily yesterday. "We hope the EU will at least accept shipments for orders agreed before the textile disputes began," he said. Cao explained that when a quota-free era began in January, importers and exporters had not even considered the possibility of caps being introduced after just a few months.() If they decide to use the quotas from next year, the two sides have to take into account whether this will result in additional troubles in 2006, he added. In another development, China and the United States are expected to reach an agreement on their textile disputes in the near future as the US Government nears a decision on whether to impose new safeguard measures against additional Chinese textile and garment products at the end of this month.

China sharing common interest with Japan in oil, energy field, BFA official
2005-08-25 Xinhuanet
China and Japan ride on the same boat in the area of oil and energy, so the two nations should seek more common grounds in economic and trade relations, Long Yongtu, secretary-general of the Bo'ao Forum for Asia (BFA) was quoted as saying by the China News Service. At a seminar held by the China Daily and Beijing University here on Wednesday, Long said, as two major oil importers in the world, China and Japan share many common interests. He expressed his wish for better cooperation between the two nations with regard to the energy problem. The two sides should value the current growth of Sino-Japanese economic and trade relations, which should not be politicized, he said. Business people should become boosters of the Sino-Japanese relations, and play a positive role when the bilateral political relations meet difficulties, he added. Moreover, Long said he was optimistic about the prospect of Sino-Japanese relations since the current economic and trade relations as its base are sound and healthy.


North Korea

Red Cross talks end without deal on POWs, abductees
2005-08-26 SCMP
The Red Cross societies of the two Koreas ended talks yesterday without an agreement on the sensitive issues of prisoners of war and civilians the South believes were abducted and are living in the North. The issues were a major snag during the talks, the first between the Red Cross societies since November 2003. The dispute also prevented the two sides reaching agreement on holding more video link-up reunions of families this year, and on another round of face-to-face reunions, according to reports. The talks, which began on Tuesday at the North's Diamond Mountain resort, were the first inter-Korean Red Cross talks to end without agreement since January 2001. Seoul estimates that 538 of its soldiers from the 1950-53 Korean war were alive in the North at the end of last year. It also says the North is holding 486 South Korean civilians, mostly fishermen whose boats were seized since the war ended. North Korea denies holding any POWs, and says the civilians defected voluntarily. Given South Korea's reluctance to offend the North, the two sides have referred to the topic in vague terms as "efforts to account for those missing during wartime". But South Korean officials said they believed there was a tacit "mutual understanding" that the language included not only POWs but also the seized civilians, according to reports. During the negotiations, South Korea sought the North's agreement to launch a project confirming the fate and whereabouts of POWs and abducted civilians believed held in the North, and to have them hold temporary reunions with relatives in the South. However, the North insisted it cannot stage separate reunions for "those missing during wartime" - though they could be included in ordinary family reunions. At the talks, the two Koreas also discussed construction of a permanent reunion centre at the Diamond Mountain resort. ()


Julie Kong
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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