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
  8.5-12.5.2006, No. 114  
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Foreign Policy

Criticism of bishop saga 'unfounded'
2006-05-08 China Daily
China yesterday expressed regret over the Vatican's criticism of its ordination of two Catholic bishops, saying the accusations were "unfounded." "The Vatican's criticism of the Chinese Catholic churches was unfounded and disregarded history and reality," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao. On Thursday, the Vatican's spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls criticized China for ordaining two Catholic bishops and threatened to punish the bishops and believers who participated in the process. Liu said the Chinese Government pursued "consistent" and "clear" principles in dealing with China-Vatican relations. The Vatican must terminate its "diplomatic links" with Taiwan, and it should not interfere in China's internal affairs, including any intervention under the pretext of religious affairs, said Liu. "The Chinese Government has always been sincere and has made unremitting efforts in improving its ties with the Vatican," the spokesman said. China is willing to start constructive dialogue with the Vatican and improve China-Vatican relations, Liu said. A spokesman for the State Administration of Religious Affairs on Saturday defended the ordination of the two bishops, saying the Vatican's criticism of China "makes no sense." The spokesman said the Chinese Government had recently informed the Vatican about ordaining bishops in some Chinese dioceses, but had not received a straightforward response. "On the contrary, the Vatican made unfounded charges after the successful ordination, a move that ran against the remarks of the Vatican hoping to improve its relationship with China," he noted. "The remark by Navarro-Valls makes no sense," the Chinese spokesman said, noting that the selection and ordination of bishops by Catholic churches in China had lasted for half a century. "The selection and ordination of bishops in China are a need of Chinese Catholic churches to conduct normal church activities," he said. [...] Official statistics show that there are more than 5 million Catholic believers in China, as compared to 2.7 million half a century ago. [...] Differences remain between China and the Vatican on the ordination of bishops. The Chinese Government has proposed that the Vatican on put aside the differences in a practical manner, said the spokesman for the State Administration of Religious Affairs. "We hope the Vatican stops interfering in China's internal affairs, respects the common wish of Chinese Catholic churches and believers, and sets no more obstacles which affect China-Vatican relations," he said.

China, Japan agree to hold talks on gas
2006-05-10 China Daily
Beijing and Tokyo have agreed to hold talks later this month on natural gas exploration in the East China Sea and work to set up a meeting between their foreign ministers at multilateral forums soon in an attempt to thaw their icy relations. The agreement was reached yesterday, the third and final day of a Sino-Japanese strategic dialogue in Guiyang, capital of Southwest China's Guizhou Province. [...] Since October 2004, China and Japan have convened four rounds of consultations on the East China Sea issues, the last taking place in Beijing in March. Beijing says it has rights to the gas but Tokyo claims the two countries should share them. Meetings aimed at resolving the dispute have ended in disagreement. Ties between China and Japan have become increasingly strained because of the gas dispute and, particularly, Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan's war criminals of World War II. China has refused any high-level meeting with Japan for months over the shrine visits, and there has been no full-fledged summit between Koizumi and a Chinese leader since 2001. [...]

US commander in China to improve military ties
2006-05-10 SCMP
The commander of US forces in the Pacific is in China for a seven-day visit aimed at improving military ties between the two countries, the US embassy here said on Wednesday. Admiral William Fallon, who arrived on Tuesday, will meet with Chinese military officials in Beijing before visiting the northern city of Xian, eastern Hangzhou and Shenyang in the northeast, a US embassy spokeswoman said. "This is a follow-on to continue with improved military-to-military relations," the spokeswoman said. Mr Fallon will meet with provincial and defence officials during his tour, before leaving China on Monday, she said. In March, Mr Fallon called for increased military engagement with China, despite US concerns over Beijing's continuing increases in military spending. "The absence of any engagement whatsoever would put us back where we were in the past couple of years where we have virtually gone on a parallel pass with no interaction," he said. China announced in March its military budget would increase by 15 per cent this year to US$35 billion (HK$273 billion). Mr Fallon said at the time that US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had agreed to a significant increase in US-Chinese military interchanges this year. But the interaction comes as the United States has also shown increasing signs of concern about China's military build-up. The United States is shifting its military might to the Asia-Pacific region and equipping its forces for high-tech warfare as a hedge against China's military buildup, the Pentagon said last month. "It is US policy to encourage China to emerge as a responsible international partner," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. "However, there is also a lack of transparency and some uncertainty surrounding China's future path. Therefore, we and others have to naturally hedge against the unknown." The United States has been modernising and reorienting its military forces in recent years, shifting its weight from Europe to the Asia-Pacific region and south Asia. It has revamped its military alliance with Japan, and moved to strengthen military ties with India and countries in southeast and central Asia.

Beijing pledges to uphold human rights
2006-05-11 China Daily
China, newly elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council, yesterday pledged to fulfil its obligations under the terms of international human rights accords. "The Chinese Government has always been committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and basic freedoms," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao in Beijing. The 191-member UN General Assembly on Tuesday elected 47 members from 64 countries that ran for the seats to the newly-founded council through three rounds of secret ballot. China polled 146 votes, 50 more than it needed. China is ready, along with other members, to "push for the council to promote dialogue among different civilizations, cultures and religions; attach equal importance to citizens' political rights and economic, social and cultural rights; and handle human rights issues fairly, objectively and impartially," Liu said. The council, established in a resolution adopted by the General Assembly on March 15 to replace the controversial and now defunct Human Rights Commission, will hold its first meeting in Geneva on June 19. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the first members, saying the new body offers "a great opportunity to make a fresh start in the United Nations' vital work of upholding the highest standards of human rights." Under UN rules, to ensure global representation, Africa and Asia each has 13 seats; Latin America and the Caribbean, 8 seats; Western Europe and others (including North America and the developed nations of Oceania), 7; and Eastern Europe, 6. The members may not serve more than two successive three-year terms; and each year, a certain number of members should be changed. Human rights experts in China hailed the nation's election to the UN body as a positive response to criticisms of the country's human rights record by some Western countries. "China's election with a high number of votes demonstrates that its policies and position on human rights as well as its efforts made in the protection of human rights have been accepted by the international community," said Liu Nanlai, a senior researcher at the Centre for Human Rights Studies, which is part of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. China's rapid economic growth and the legislative measures adopted by the government have helped guarantee human rights in the country, the researcher said. The United States was among only four countries that voted against setting up the council. But its UN ambassador, John Bolton, has pledged that Washington would co-operate with other member states to make the council as effective as possible, according to a news release on the UN website.

Don't sell arms to Taiwan, US urged
2006-05-12 China Daily
Beijing yesterday asked Washington to stop selling advanced weapons to Taiwan to ensure peace and stability across the Straits. It also criticized Libya for allowing Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian to make a stopover in the country on his way home from Latin America. The United States should "cease the sale of advanced weapons to Taiwan and military exchanges (with the island)," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a regularly scheduled news briefing in Beijing. Liu made the remarks in response to comments on Wednesday in Washington by US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who warned that if Taiwan declares independence, the US would be drawn into a war between the mainland and the island.Speaking to the House of Representatives' International Relations Committee, Zoellick said the United States "wants to be supportive of Taiwan while we're not encouraging those that try to move toward independence." "Because let me be very clear: Independence means war," Zoellick was quoted by Associated Press as saying. Liu said China demands the US abide by the "three joint communiqus" and promote stability in the Taiwan Straits. The three documents are the political basis for Sino-US relations. Chen made transit stops in Libya on Wednesday and in Indonesia yesterday on his way back to Taipei from Latin America. Both Tripoli and Jakarta have diplomatic ties with China. During the Libyan stopover, Chen was reported to have met family members of leader Moammar Khadafy. "This act seriously violates the one-China policy that Libya has long maintained, and has a negative impact on mutual relations," Liu said at the news briefing. China has made representations to the Libyan side and demanded that it keep its promises and immediately stop any form of official contact with Taiwan, he said. Responding to Zoellick's comments on China's "slow" efforts to "pressure" the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) back into the nuclear disarmament talks, Liu said China's solemn position is to ensure a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and will continue to work towards this. China has hosted multiple rounds of Six-Party Talks aimed at persuading the DPRK to give up nuclear-weapon development, but the negotiations have made little progress. Liu said the issues of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and Iran's nuclear crisis would be discussed by Chinese leaders and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan when he visits Beijing next week. It will be Annan's seventh visit to China since he took office.

China demands Libya to cease official ties with Taiwan
2006-05-12 People's Daily
China on Thursday demanded that Libya cease all its official ties with Taiwan, in a bid to maintain the overall China-Libya relations. "We are strongly dissatisfied with Libya and have lodged solemn representations to Libya," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told the regular briefing. Despite China's persuasion and strong opposition, Libya allowed Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian to make a transit stop in Tripoli, capital of Libya, Wednesday. The Libyan government also held talks with Chen on mutually establishing representative offices. "This is a serious violation of Libya's long-term commitment to the one-China policy and will exert a negative impact on China-Libya relations," Liu said. "We demand that Libya live up to its commitment and immediately cease all official exchanges with Taiwan in whatever forms so as to maintain the overall China-Libya relations," the spokesman said. Liu also called for the United States to take substantive actions to adhere to the one-China policy, three Sino-U.S. joint communiques and commitment to opposing the "Taiwan independence". Liu's remarks came after the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said Wednesday that the United States did not support the "Taiwan independence," and the U.S. forces would get involved if Taiwan declares independence. "Particularly, the United States should end sales of advanced weapons to Taiwan and military exchanges with Taiwan," Liu said.


Domestic Policy

Dam of Three Gorges Project to be completed in late May
2006-05-08 Xinhuanet Construction for the giant dam of the Three Gorges hydropower project on the Yangtze River was expected to finish on May 20, an executive with the China Yangtze River Three Gorges Project Development Corporation said Sunday. "There are less than 3,000 cubic meters of concrete left to be placed before the dam will finally complete nine months ahead of the schedule," said Cao Guangjing, deputy general manager of the corporation. The completion of the construction for the dam, 2,309 meters long and 185 meters high, marks the principal part of the project, which is often compared to the Great Wall in its scale, is done, said Cao. [...] Workers began in 1998 to build the dam from the north bank of Yangtze River and finished the north part project in October 2002. The right bank began to be built in July 2003. Now the two parts of the dam have joined as one, and most of the dam sections of the right bank have reached the same levels as the left one. Launched in 1993, the Three Gorges Project, including the dam and 26 generators on both banks of the Yangtze, is planned to be completed in 2009 and by then, it will be able to generate 84.7 billion kwh of electricity annually.

Many spend 'golden week' close to home
2006-05-08 China Daily
While millions across the country were enthusiastic to travel a long way to see renowned historic relics and scenic spots during the week-long May Day holiday, more and more people have opted to spend the "golden week" in a less strenuous way. Zhou Jijun, a middle-aged resident of Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, spent the holiday cooking, sleeping and meeting friends in teahouses. He only drove out of town once with his family, and that was to enjoy the sunshine, countryside and delicious food of a Yangtze River islet in the suburbs. [...] Wang Qiyang, director of the Leisure Economy Research Institute of the Renmin University of China, said time in the suburbs, playing sport and participating in cultural activities have become more and more popular ways for Chinese to spend their holidays. Many urbanites are choosing to spend time off in a not-so-far-away suburban or rural area enjoying the peace and quiet and local food. Wang estimated there are at least 100,000 rural families offering food and accommodation and other leisure services targeted at urbanites. The National Tourism Administration has made rural tours a focus of the tourism industry this year. Most stadiums, gyms, community sporting venues and bookshops were also full of people during the May Day holiday. "The focus of 'golden weeks' is shifting from travelling and sightseeing to leisure and relaxation, as people's options become more diverse," said Wang. But travelling and sightseeing remains a key holiday activity. A joint office that co-ordinates holiday affairs under the State Council estimated that a record 120 million trips were taken in the past "golden week," and that travellers spent 40 billion yuan (US$5 billion) during the holiday.

Law aims to balance industrial relations
2006-05-08 China Daily
Labour experts have warned that China's imbalanced industrial relations system is placing labourers at a disadvantage and eroding social justice, posing a threat to both management and the workforce.The government is attempting to address the issue by creating laws to hold back corporate powers and is being urged to take other steps to safeguard the rights and interests of workers."In China, in particular the non-public sectors, management has the absolute upper hand over labourers," said Su Hainan, director of the Labour Salary Institute under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. As a result, discrimination in labour markets and defaults on wages are common, workers' salaries are low and slow to rise, employees work overtime without pay, and social security and workplace protection is scant, said Su, who was a member of a panel put together by China Newsweek magazine to discuss the issue at the end of last month. "To take the salary issue for example, 52 per cent of farmers-turned-labourers surveyed by our institute this year were defaulted on their pay," Su said. "In the manufacturing sector, the pay rise has lagged behind GDP growth by about 5 per cent between 1998 and 2003." The east coast and hinterland regions have experienced a labour crunch partly because the pay is not attractive which in turn has hurt employers in the manufacturing sector. Su said the outlook for current labour-management relations in China is not optimistic because the nation faces a surplus workforce in the low-end market, industries are being restructured, and there is scant legal protection for workers at a time when the country is in transition from a planned to a market economy. "Our country has been in such a period that if labourers' rights and interests are not protected, the imbalanced labour relations will continue to worsen," Zheng Gongcheng, an industrial relations professor at Renmin University of China, said in a statement. "By then the confrontation and conflict between management and labour would not only sabotage social stability but also waste good opportunities for national economic development," he said. Zheng said he supported the use of legislation to help deliver a balance between management and the labour force. The nation's top legislature has received more than 190,000 comments on the draft labour contract law, which aims to provide workers with umbrella protection while restricting corporate powers such as dismissal. "Objectively speaking, the law is designed to adjust already imbalanced employer-worker relations," said Xin Chunying, vice-chairwoman of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. She said the legislature would carefully draw the line between employers and workers and seek more opinions. "It is a starting point for a series of laws aiming to smooth labour relations," said Guo Jun, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Bureau with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions. He said the draft might be passed into law as early as October.

Drought, floods strike China, affecting tens of millions
2006-05-12 Xinhuanet
Drought and floods in different parts of China have affected the lives of tens of millions of people, a national environmental protection official said Thursday. A drought is threatening supplies of drinking water to more than 14 million people, said Zhang Zhitong, executive director of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters. The drought has affected 16.3 million hectares of farmland in the China's northern, northeastern and southwestern regions, Zhang said. The amount of affected farmland was 36.3 percent more than the average annual area, he said. The drinking water shortage had also affected 11.55 million head of livestock, according to the official. Weather forecasters say there is no sign of the drought breaking in most parts of northern and southwestern regions in the foreseeable future. Beijing, with a permanent population of 15.36 million and more than four million transients, is suffering its worst drought in 50 years, with only 17 millimeters of rainfall reported in the past four months, down 63 percent from the same period last year. Local authorities warned the lack of rain is already challenging the city's water supply. Beijing has suffered drought for seven consecutive years. The average annual rainfall between 1999 and 2005 was only 70 percent of the average since records began. The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters Thursday ordered local governments to take "all possible" measures to combat the drought. "Drinking water supply and safety must be secured and spring plowing and sowing must be guaranteed," Zhang said. Meanwhile, some other parts of China are suffering floods. Approximately 4.54 million people have been victimized by floods since mid-April, according to Zhang. Floods and landslides had left 10 people dead and five missing in central, eastern, southwestern and southern regions, Zhang said. The direct economic losses were reported at more than 2.637 billion yuan (about 330 million U.S. dollars), Zhang said. Moreover, floods had ruined more than 37,100 homes, he said. About 30 tropical storms or typhoons will be formed in the Northwest Pacific Ocean or South China Sea this year, compared with 23 in 2005, prompting the National Climate Centre to warn local governments to take due precautions, the China Daily reported on Wednesday. "Local governments in coastal areas should be well prepared for the typhoons as they could combine with rainstorms to cause huge damage," the centre warned. "From now on, local authorities should get ready for bad weather, particularly floods resulting from torrential rains, and persistent drought in other areas," Qin Dahe, director of the China Meteorological Administration, was quoted as saying. He added that with the weather shifting between high temperatures and heavy rainfalls, China may experience more droughts than floods.



Chinese official accuses Dalai Lama of provoking religious conflict
2006-05-10 Xinhuanet
Lhasa mayor Norbu Dunzhub on Tuesday accused the Dalai Lama of masterminding religious conflict in Gandain Monastery near Lhasa, saying it was "another attempt to sabotage the unity of Tibet".
Seventeen lamas burst into a chapel in Gandain Monastery on March 14 and tore down two clay statues of protective deities, claiming they were "evil spirits", and began fighting with six worshippers at the scene. The destruction was a criminal act and a violation of the Regulations of Religious Affairs, said Norbu, adding the local authorities had taken legal actions against the perpetrators. "It is by no means an isolated and accidental event," he said. "At face value, it is an internal affair within a monastery, but on a fundamental level, it was provoked by the Dalai clique whose purpose is to arouse conflict between different sects of Tibetan Buddism, thus sabotaging the unity of Tibet," said the mayor. The exiled Dalai Lama has on several occasions denounced one of the deities, Dorje Shugden, a god worshipped by a sect of Buddhists. In the 1970s, he warned his followers not to worship Shugden because it was detrimental to his spiritual health and to the cause of the Tibetan people. In 1996, he imposed bans on the deity's worship at two Buddhist ceremonies. Early this year, the Dalai Lama ordered his followers to pressure or verbally attack lamas of Gandain and Sera Monasteries whom he believed were still worshipping the deity against his orders. "What the Dalai Lama has done violates the religious freedom of believers," said Zhang Qingli, acting secretary of the Tibet autonomous regional committee of the Communist Party of China. Lamas in the Sera Monastery have defended the deity by saying it has existed and been worshipped for a long period in the history of Tibetan Buddhism, and the statue's destruction violated the Buddhist teachings. Conflict among different sects should be resolved in peace, and the incident at Gandain Monastery was shameful for Tibetan Buddhism, said a lama from the monastery, who declined to give his name. The incident showed the pro-independence policy of the Dalai clique had changed little, said Norbu.



Finance Ministry: GDP to grow 9.5%
2006-05-08 China Daily
China's deputy minister of finance Li Yong said that the country's economy keeps its bullish steam, and is on target to grow by at least 9.5 per cent in 2006. Li Yong said at the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank that Chinese government was now considering a second increase in interest rates this year, in order to bring growth to a better balance." I think in the future we will make interest rate adjustments if necessary, but we should not make abrupt adjustments," Li said. China raised bank lending rates last month for the first time since October 2004, after announcing that economic growth in the first quarter of the year was 10.2 per cent. Some analysts believe further rate increases are in the pipeline following assurances last month that the government was conscious of social and environmental difficulties being caused by an excessive growth, the Independent of the United Kingdom reported on Monday. Joseph Tan, an economist at Standard Chartered, said: "China isn't slowing down any time soon - the hike was clearly an attempt to slow things down but this will not be the last interest rate hike we will see." Li said that in addition to restraining economic growth, the government was increasingly anxious to tackle its trade surplus, which has been a mounting concern in the European Union and the US. "We try to achieve a balance between imports and exports," he said.

China lifts one-year ban on stock sales
2006-05-08 China Daily
China lifted a one-year ban on share sales, letting some publicly traded companies fund expansion in an economy that grew 10.2 percent in the first quarter. Companies must meet 34 criteria to be eligible to sell shares including three consecutive years of profit and dividend payments equal to at least 20 percent of income, according to a statement posted yesterday on the China Securities Regulatory Commission Web site. Initial public offerings are still prohibited, it said. The rules cover additional share offerings, convertible bonds, share-purchase rights offerings and other types of securities but did not specifically mention IPOs. They took effect Monday after the markets reopened following a weeklong national holiday. [...]"The market is flush with money now, so there is no need to worry about a sharp decrease in funds," said Simon Wang at Xiangcai Securities. [...] About 200 to 300 of China's 1,365 publicly traded companies will be eligible to sell shares, said Wang Jinxu, an investment banker at China Everbright Securities Co. [...] Analysts said they expected the partial resumption of share sales to attract more investors to the markets. Regulators are approaching IPOs more cautiously, given investors' fears that new shares might flood into the markets, exceeding demand and pushing prices lower.

Plan: Two new port regions to be built
2006-05-08 China Daily
China's port and shipping facilities are to be upgraded to include two major new regions, the Ministry of Communications has announced. Five port "clusters," rather than the existing three surrounding Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tianjin, will become the new priorities as part of a new port development plan. [...] The minister said the two additional port groups are located on the mainland side of the Taiwan Straits in southern Fujian; and in Hainan and southern Guangdong. [...] The southeastern port cluster would be built around its centre of Xiamen, a business centre of southern Fujian joined by Fuzhou, Quanzhou, Putian and Zhangzhou. Zhangzhou will serve as a destination for China's import of crude oil and natural gas, and all others will be mainly handling containers. The Fujian port blueprint is part of the central government's scheme of the Western Shore Economic Zone of the Taiwan Straits. It was designed to help develop economic ties between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. Li said this would anticipate the "mainland-Taiwan free trade relations" that, although there had been little progress so far, would benefit business communities on both sides of the Straits. [...] He forecast that China's ocean cargo handling capacity will rise from 3.8 billion tons in 2005 to 5 billion tons in 2010, and its coastal throughput of containers, as measured in TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit), will grow from 74.41 million in 2005 to 130 million in 2010. [...] Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that the world's economy wouldgrow at an annual rate of 4.2 per cent during 2006-09, relatively higher than that during the 2001-05 period. And in the coming five years, China will continue to be the world's economic engine with annual growth of no less than 8 per cent. China has been the world's biggest cargo producer since 2004, with Shanghai being the world's largest port in handling tonnage. Ten out of the world's 25 largest sea ports are already in China. [...]

Inflation picks up to 1.2pc, trade surplus doubles
2006-05-10 SCMP
China's consumer price index was 1.2 per cent last month compared with April last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday. For the period from January to April, the CPI also rose 1.2 per cent on a year-on-year basis, the NBS said in a statement. The rate was the same in the first quarter when Asia's second-largest economy grew 10.2 per cent from in the first three months of the year. China's trade surplus more than doubled last month from a year earlier, hitting US$10.5 billion (HK$81.9 billion), customs authorities said on Friday. The trade surplus is up 128 per cent from US$4.6 billion dollars previously reported by the commerce ministry for April last year. Inflation ran at 1.8 per cent for all of last year, coming in at 1.9 per cent in January, then 0.9 per cent in February and 0.8 per cent in March. For last month, in urban areas, consumer prices were up 1.2 per cent while in rural areas they rose 1.1 per cent, the NBS said. Food prices rose 1.8 per cent, non-foodstuffs increased 0.9 per cent, consumer goods were up 1.1 per cent and services saw a gain of 1.7 per cent. In terms of food, prices for fresh vegetables increased 15.6 per cent and prices for grain went up 1.2 per cent in the month. Water and electricity expenses rose 6.8 per cent, while building and renovation costs were up 3 per cent and rentals rose 2 per cent. Urban transport costs rose 4.6 per cent last month, while vehicle fuel and parts were up 11.2 per cent. The central bank said in its quarterly report earlier this year that inflation would run at 3 per cent this year while economists see 2 per cent to 3per cent. However, there are some concerns that massive overcapacity in the Chinese economy could bring the risk of deflation, or falling prices. Exports in April soared 23.9 per cent to US$76.9 billion while imports were up by a more moderate 15.3 per cent to US$66.5 billion, the customs authorities said. For the first four months of the year, the trade surplus was US$33.8 billion, a rise of 60.2 per cent from the same period a year earlier as exports increased 25.8 per cent to US$274.2 billion while imports rose 22.1 per cent to US$240.4 billion.

China's economic competitiveness rises sharply
2006-05-12 People's Daily
China's economic competitiveness has risen remarkably, with its world ranking going up to the 19th place, a new study said on Thursday in Geneva. The competitiveness of the U.S. is still the highest in the world, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore in a list of 61 countries and regions, the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) said in its annual World Competitiveness Yearbook. [...] China's economic performance has kept its outstanding place, ranked 3rd in the new list, while two other factors, government efficiency and infrastructure, stand at 17th and 37th respectively, she said. Rosselet said China would have to overcome some major challenges in its future development. Those challenges include diversifying the economy away from export dependency, moving up the value chain to higher added-value activities, especially in services, and diminishing high capital investment (risk of overheating), she said. China also faces growing disparities between rural and urban areas that could increasingly lead to greater social unrest she said. She added that China also faces environmental problems, urban unemployment, lack of social security network, failing infrastructure, etc..

China seeks 'flexible but stable' forex mechanism
2006-05-12 China Daily
China will continue to improve its currency regime and seek greater flexibility of the yuan while keeping the exchange rate stable at a suitable and balanced level, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday. He made the remarks after the Bush administration on Wednesday said it would not brand China as a country manipulating its currency for unfair trade advantage. "China has always taken a highly responsible attitude in defining its currency regime and proceeded on a path conducive to China's economic and social development, as well as to regional economic and financial stability," Liu Jianchao told a news briefing in Beijing. "We will stand firm in our reform of the financial system to improve mechanisms for the renminbi exchange rate, increase the flexibility of the exchange rate, improve the ability of financial institutions to manage risks and ensure that the renminbi exchange rate remains stable and rational," Liu said. The US Treasury Department said Beijing was moving, albeit "slowly," on currency reforms. [...]


Gautier Chiarini
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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