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
  01.8-04.8.2006, No. 126  
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Foreign Policy

Trust, understanding key to Sino-Japanese ties
2006-08-04 Xinhuanet
China and Japan must strengthen understanding and rebuild mutual trust to overcome the current difficulties plaguing their relations, said the Chinese ambassador to Japan Thursday. Ambassador Wang Yi's call for fresh efforts at improving ties came at the opening of the Second Beijing-Tokyo Forum. About 90 officials and scholars from China and Japan are taking part in the two-day event, looking for ways to defrost the icy bilateral relations. Improving Sino-Japanese relations has become a common aspiration for people in both countries, said Wang. The souring of relations between Beijing and Tokyo owes much to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to the Yasukuni shrine, where convicted World War II war criminals are honoured along with Japanese war dead. His visits, which began shortly after he took office in 2001, have led to top leaders of the neighbouring countries halting visits for the past five years. China insists the shrine visits have undermined the political basis for bilateral relations and pose a big obstacle to improved ties. "Facing up to history honestly and settling the current problems in a proper way would provide an opportunity and impetus to build a stable long-term relationship that looks to the future," said Wang. He told the forum that if Tokyo decides to remove the political obstacles that have chilled the relationship, Beijing is sure "to respond with good will." Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, the favourite candidate for Japan's next prime minister, said in a keynote speech that he personally wants a strong Sino-Japanese relationship. "The China-Japan relationship is one of the most important bilateral relations," said Abe. He attributed the current difficulty in bilateral ties to "misunderstandings" that have occurred between the two Asian giants. To illustrate the stern situation, Abe cited some figures. According to him, in 1980, 78 per cent of Japanese people had a positive attitude towards China, but this percentage had dropped to only 32 per cent some 25 years later. In China, only 15 per cent of the population now feel positively towards Japan. "For me, these are shocking figures. We must build a China-Japan relationship that will encourage these figures to increase naturally." He applauded the forum for serving as a venue for discussion, which is badly needed to make direct exchanges possible. Wang said it is necessary for both countries to take their own road to peaceful development. It is also imperative for the two sides to rebuild trust, which he said is as important to state-to-state relations as to person-to-person contact. Wang expressed the belief that China and Japan can benefit from a better relationship. "It is a win-win deal," he said. The future of Sino-Japanese relations is a matter of great significance, not just for the two nations, but for Asia and the world as a whole. A better bilateral relationship is what Asian countries and the international community expect from China and Japan, he added. Abe said that besides official efforts, more channels should be developed to find the solutions to the problems facing bilateral relations. He said the Japanese Government has decided to invite 1,200 Chinese high school students to Japan this year. They will stay with Japanese host families so as to have the best possible experience of the country. Forty of the students will stay in Japan studying at high schools for a year. Youth exchanges are of great importance to promoting a long-term friendship between the two countries, he said. With the theme of building a new relationship oriented to Asia, the ongoing forum is open to ideas and proposals on removing the obstacles in the bilateral relations. The annual event, jointly held by China Daily, the Peking University and Japanese think-tank Genron NPO, moved to Tokyo this year after its first meeting in Beijing last year. Zhu Ling, editor-in-chief of China Daily, said media in the two countries could work together to help stabilize the nation's relations. Objective, general and fact-based reporting will help Chinese and Japanese get a clear picture of each other, which is key to easing the current political stalemate, said Zhu. ()

China, Germany to enhance cooperation in public security, state councilor says
2006-08-03 Xinhuanet
Chinese State Councilor Zhou Yongkang on Wednesday pledged to enhance cooperation in security fields with German public security forces. "China is ready to increase cooperation in anti-terrorism, combating transnational crimes and training on law enforcement with German police," Zhou told visiting president of the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) Jorg Ziercke. Zhou said the Chinese and German public security organs have witnessed increasing exchanges and cooperation in security fields and China is willing to further push for such cooperation between the two sides. Ziercke also spoke highly of the friendly cooperative relations between the BKA and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, saying that the BKA is willing to further promote cooperation in law enforcement with China. Before meeting with Zhou, Ziercke talked with Chinese Vice Minister of Public Security Meng Hongwei about anti-terrorism, combating transnational crimes, security for the Olympics and establishing a consultation mechanism between the BKA and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security.

China urges restraint in Iran nuke standoff
2006-08-02 China Daily
After the UN Security Council took its toughest action yet in the Iranian nuclear standoff, China expressed hope that the latest resolution will be conducive to ongoing diplomatic efforts and a peaceful solution. "China maintains its support to the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and is opposed to any proliferation of nuclear weapons," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao in a statement yesterday. Liu said China does not want to see any new turbulence in the Middle East, urging the relevant parties to remain calm and restrained and continue to push for an early resumption of talks. The 15-member Security Council on Monday adopted a resolution demanding that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities by the end of August or face possible sanctions. The resolution passed by a vote of 14 to 1. Qatar, the only Arab nation on the Security Council, cast the only negative vote. Liu vowed that China would continue to play a constructive role in the process. Deputy Representative to the UN Liu Zhenming told reporters after the voting that the process of resolving Iran's nuclear issue is complicated by the lack of trust among the major concerned parties and said the Security Council cannot take sole charge of the issue. "Dialogue and negotiation are the only way out," he said according to Xinhua, emphasizing that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should be the main mechanism for dealing with the issue. "The solution requires all-round diplomatic efforts and any measures adopted by the Security Council should serve the purpose of diplomatic efforts," he said. He stressed that if Teheran responded positively to a package of incentives offered earlier by the Security Council's permanent members plus Germany, the council would take no further action. Iran insists on its right to produce nuclear fuel, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday in response to the resolution. "The Iranian people see taking advantage of technology to produce nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes as their right," Ahmadinejad told a crowd in the northeastern town of Bojnurd. Analysts say China voted for the resolution because it would encourage further talks and somewhat ease the tense situation in the region. Gong Shaopeng, an expert on Middle East issues with China Foreign Affairs University, said China's view is to maintain and strengthen the IAEA's authority and role and hope the Iranian side takes the one-month opportunity. He said the vote's near-unanimity "has shown the consensus reached by the international community on the Iranian nuclear issue." Qatar, he added, was not against the terms of the UN resolution, but opposed setting a deadline for Iran. Gong said the current situation in the Middle East is indeed very complicated yet still under control. "If the relevant sides can step up their efforts in negotiation and mediation, those problems can still be resolved in a short period of time," he said.

US report on pollution 'unfair, unreliable'
2006-08-04 China Daily
A US report that claims Chinese pollution is crossing the Pacific Ocean to contaminate American air and soil has been slammed as unfair and unreliable. According to a report from the Associated Press, the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) estimates that on certain days nearly 25 per cent of particulate matter in the skies above Los Angeles comes from China. And some US experts even claim China could produce a third of all California's airborne pollution on some days. But a senior Chinese environmental official poured cold water on the US EPA's claims at a press briefing in Beijing yesterday. "Pollutant movement is a very complicated process, especially when the route is across oceans and continents," said Li Xinmin, deputy director of the Pollution Control Department of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). "And how the 25 per cent was figured out is a question which needs more scientific scrutiny," said Li, whose speciality is air pollution control. The "irresponsible" report is not the first to blame China for pollution in the US, said Li. When EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson visited Beijing in April, he agreed that US reports blaming China's large-scale mercury emissions for damage to air quality in the US were not fair, according to Li. But China's air pollution is still a serious problem, especially the nation's high sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions, said Li. The country discharged a total of 25.49 million tons of SO2 in 2005, the largest amount in the world. Of the total, 21.6 million tons were produced by industry while 3.89 million tons came from domestic sources. SO2 emissions have risen 27 per cent since 2000, according to SEPA figures. Each ton of the SO2 discharged may cause up to 20,000 yuan (US$2,500) of economic losses. On that basis, China may have suffered a total loss of 509 billion yuan (US$63 billion) in 2005, just under 3 per cent of the year's 18 trillion yuan (US$2,250 billion) Gross Domestic Product. In the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), China has promised a 10 per cent cut in the country's total SO2 emissions by 2010, compared with the end of 2005. To achieve its goal, the country's annual SO2 discharge must be brought down to a maximum of 22.95 million tons. The SEPA has signed a set of commitments with the six largest electric power companies and the seven highest SO2 emitting provinces, which are responsible for more than 75 per cent of the country's total SO2 emissions. "Reducing emissions is a compulsory task for them," said Li. "SEPA expects the public and media to supervise them and make a joint effort to alleviate the threat from acid rain." Most of China's SO2 emissions come from coal burning. Li said China's coal consumption increased by more than 800 million tons during the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05), among which 500 million tons were wolfed down by the power industry. Coal accounts for 70 per cent of China's energy consumption a figure that will be hard to change in the short term, said Li.

Second Beijing-Tokyo Forum opens in Tokyo
2006-08-04 China Daily
The second Beijing-Tokyo Forum with the theme of "the future of Asia and the new type of Sino-Japanese relations" opened Thursday morning. At the opening ceremony attended by 400 people from all circles of the two countries, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wang Yi expounded the Chinese government's policy on Japan. The Chinese ambassador said that improving the Sino-Japanese relations has become a common demand of the peoples of the two countries, and efforts should be made to pull the bilateral ties out of the current impasse. It is crucial for the governments of China and Japan to share a right view on history and overcome the political difficulties, he added. Wang noted that a correct historic viewpoint would provide opportunities and driving powers for the establishment of long- lasting and stable ties between the two countries and China is looking forward to making a goodwill reply to the Japanese side's wise decision. The ambassador also called for the restoration of mutual trust between the two sides. Like personal relations, the ties between countries also need to be built on mutual trust, he said. Wang called for a review of the three political documents, including the Sino-Japanese Joint Declaration, and the solemn commitment made by politicians of the older generation of the two countries, and the establishment of a new mutual trust between current leaders of the two countries. On his part, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said relations between Japan and China is one of the most important bilateral ties, and it is necessary for the two countries to strengthen cooperation, promote understanding and exchanges between the two peoples, and widen the common interests. The annual two-day forum, the first of which was held in Aug. 2005 in Beijing, is jointly sponsored by the China Daily, Peking University and a Japanese nonpolitical organization. It attracts about 60 prominent figures from political, economic, academic and media circles of the two countries, who will hold discussions on how to improve the Sino-Japanese ties.

China sends humanitarian materials to Lebanon
2006-08-04 Xinhuanet
The Chinese government is to send urgently needed emergency materials to Lebanon to ease the humanitarian crisis brought about by the conflict between Israel and the Hezbollah, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday. The materials, including small electricity generators, tents, blankets, sanitation equipment, drugs and other materials, will be sent to Lebanon in two batches on Thursday and Friday. The materials will be first flown to Jordan's capital Amman, and then to the Beirut international airport, said the ministry.

Margaret Chan feels more confident on running for Director-General of WHO
2006-08-03 Xinhuanet
The candidate for Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, said Wednesday that she becomes more confident with the support from China's central government as well as the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Chan, serving as World Health Organization Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases now, held a press conference Wednesday afternoon before departing for Geneva. She said she had met with HKSAR Chief Executive Donald Tsang, Hong Kong Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow and professional colleagues for their advice on the running period. Chan said she felt actually a bit nervous on knowing she was backed by the central government as the candidate for the position of WHO Director-General. However, the central government's full support and close coordination from the government of HKSAR has heightened her confidence. Chan stressed twice that she will do her utmost to live up to everyone's expectations. Chan added that she would become "an international civil servant" if elected as the Director-General of WHO. "I have to demonstrate that I will be fair, open, transparent and deal with the issues on these merits." China announced on July 25 that it would recommend Margaret Dr. Chan to run for WHO Director-General, a post that will be elected by the Executive Board of WHO in November. In 1994, Dr. Chan was appointed as the first female Director of Health in Hong Kong and gained a wealth of experience in combating infectious diseases like avian influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). In 2003, she joined WHO and worked as WHO's Director of the Department of Protection of the Human Environment. In June 2005, she was appointed as Director of Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Response as well as Representative of the Director-General for Pandemic Influenza.


Domestic Policy

400,000 people evacuated ahead of Typhoon Prapiroon
2006-08-03 Xinhuanet
As Typhoon Prapiroon nears China, 406,343 people have been moved to safety in the southern provinces of Hainan and Guangdong and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said on Thursday that 62,023 vessels from Guangdong, Hainan and Guangxi had returned to harbor as Prapiroon was approaching faster than previously forecast. Guangdong has suspended all passenger railway services across the Qiongzhou Strait to the island province of Hainan. The Guangdong Provincial Meteorological Station forecast Prapiroon would strike the coastal area between Taishan City and Xuwen County in Guangdong from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning, packing heavy rains and strong winds. The autonomous region of Guangxi, west of Guangdong, is also on high alert as Prapiroon is expected to be the first typhoon to hit the area since 2003. Its capital, Nanning, had already suffered thunderstorms and strong winds on Wednesday evening. More than 84,000 people in Guangxi were relocated. Prapiroon is within 300 kilometers of the coast of western Guangdong. Its winds are reaching 12 degrees on the Beaufort Scale near its center. It is forecast to move westward at 15 kilometers per hour in the next 24 hours and will gain strength. Heavy rains hit most parts of Guangdong from Wednesday and the typhoon will bring rainstorms to western Guangdong and nearby areas from Thursday to Saturday. The typhoon will also bring force 9-12 gales to sea areas and to coastal areas of western Guangdong. The Guangdong provincial observatory called on government departments to prepare for high waves, landslides, mountain torrents, mud and rock flows, collapsing buildings and flooding. Local railway authorities said railway services could be only resumed when the conditions improved. Prapiroon was expected to bring 100 to 180 millimeters of rain to Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi and Guizhou, said Wang Bangzhong, of the Chinese Central Meteorological Station. Wang said August could see another five or six tropical storms form in the South China Sea area, but only two or three might make land fall. Prapiroon killed at least five people when it crossed the northern Philippines earlier in the week. Prapiroon, which means Rain God in Thai, formed in the South China Sea and strengthened into a typhoon on Wednesday. It is expected to hit south China for three or four days, according to the Chinese Central Meteorological Station. Vice Premier Hui Liangyu on Wednesday ordered meteorological agencies to maintain their alert status and ensure timely warnings as they monitored the storm. Hui, also head of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, called for vessels to return to harbor and measures to ensure safety of people in the storm's path. China was being hit with more typhoons and tropical rainstorms this year partly due to the warming ocean current in the northwest Pacific and high temperatures in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, said Wang. The year's first typhoon, Chanchu, hit on May 18, at least 40 days earlier than most years. Prapiroon is the sixth typhoon to hit China. The fifth typhoon, Kaemi, in late July claimed 35 lives, including six at a military barracks in east China's Jiangxi Province. The fourth typhoon, Bilis, lashed south and east China and claimed 612 lives in southern China in mid July.

China to punish sex-selective abortion
2006-08-02 China Daily
A Chinese family planning official said the government will still punish people who intentionally abort babies girls even though the legislature decided in June not to make it a crime, state media said. The official Xinhua News Agency quoted Zhang Weiqing, an official with the State Commission for Population and Family Planning, as saying that the government would continue to prosecute institutions and individuals involved in illegal sex-selective abortions. Xinhua said late Tuesday that the government has prosecuted 3,000 cases of fetus gender identification and selective abortions for non-medical reasons over the past two years, without giving details. China does not currently outlaw abortions to select a child's gender. However, a family planning regulation prohibits the practice except for medical reasons. The regulation does not spell out punishments. In China 119 boys are born for every 100 girls, while globally the average ratio is about 105 boys to 100 girls. In June, China's legislature scrapped an amendment to the criminal law that would have banned abortions based on the sex of the fetus. Xinhua said that some lawmakers argued that it would be too difficult to collect evidence for prosecution and that pregnant women should have the right to know the gender of their unborn child. Family planning experts and some legislators have argued that the lack of clear criminal penalties has encouraged the use of abortions by families who want a son.

Food poisoning in schools shows sharp rise
2006-08-01 Xinhuanet
China's Ministry of Health is urging local education officials to improve food safety in school canteens following a sharp rise in the incidence of food poisoning. During the second quarter, the ministry received 64 reports of food poisoning incidents in schools, more than four times as many than in the previous quarter. More than 1,950 people were poisoned, seven times more than in the first quarter of the year. Two people died from food poisoning at schools in the second quarter. Among the incidents, 46 occurred in school canteens causing 1,400 people to fall ill, said the ministry in a report. The infections were a result of poor management of canteens, such as purchasing substandard food and poor disinfecting practices. Local health authorities must enhance supervision and guidance of school hygiene and work to help clean up school canteens, urged the ministry. A total of 185 food poisoning cases were recorded by the ministry in the second quarter, which affected 5,696 people, killing 64. The figures are slightly lower than the same period last year but significantly higher than the previous quarter. The ministry warned most food poisoning cases are reported in the third quarter when warmer weather can cause the rapid growth of microbes. With parts of south China suffering severe flooding, the report urged extra efforts be made to ensure food and water safety in the region.

Drug that has sickened dozens banned
2006-08-04 China Daily
The Chinese Ministry of Health issued an urgent circular ordering disuse of a problematic antibiotic glucose injection used to treat bacteria infections, which have caused serious symptoms among the patients. The ministry demanded that all batches of clindamycin phosphate glucose injections produced in the past two moths by Huayuan Biopharmaceutical Co. Ltd. of Anhui Province, a branch of the medical giant Shanghai Huayuan Co.Ltd., be suspended from use immediately. An increasing number of patients from provinces and regions including Qinghai, Guangxi, Zhejiang, Heilongjiang and Shandong have complained about symptoms ranging from chest distress, pain in the kidney of the body, bellyache, diarrhea, nausea, vomit, to anaphylactic shock after having been injected with the clindamycin phosphate glucose injections produced by the Anhui company. But the ministry did not say if there had been any death caused by the problematic drug. Fake of bad drugs have killed dozens of people in China in recent years and raised questions about drug safety. The country has recently fined Qiqihar No.2 Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and revoked its licence after its drug meant to treat gastric disorders killed 11 people and turned out to be bogus. While ordering that an inventory be made into the stockpile of the injections and all unused injections be sealed properly, the ministry circular also asked medical and health organizations not to purchase the injections made by the above-mentioned company. In the meantime, the circular also told medical organizations to arrange medical workers to closely monitor patients who have had the injections and go all out to rescue those patients who have shown serious clinical symptoms. Clindamycin phosphate glucose injections are mainly used to treat bacteria infections caused by gram-positive bacterium and gram-positive anaerobic bacterium. Side effects are mainly restricted to the gastrointestinal tract and anaphylactic reaction, sometimes coupled with abnormalities with the the liver and kidney body parts.

New regulations come into effect as of Aug. 1, banning medical ads
2006-07-31 Xinhuanet
A number of new regulations will go into effect on Tuesday, involving ban on medical ads and the trade of corpses In a joint statement by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, television and radio advertisements for medicines, medical equipments, weight loss, breast enlargement and other beauty products and treatments are temporarily banned. Television and radio stations that fail to fulfill their obligations to cause serious results will be dealt with as such ads may violate consumer's rights and endanger their health. In new measures set out by the Ministry of Health, the government has banned the trade of corpses and commercial activities involving corpses, saying no organization or individual is allowed to accept body donations except for medical institutes, medical schools, medical research institutes and forensic research institutes. Bodies are not allowed to be moved into or from China other than for interment or medical research purposes. In another taxation policy published by the State Administration of Taxation, real estate owners are forced to pay individual income tax at 20 percent of their net profit when selling secondhand houses, a measure designed to cool down the overheated real estate market. The Ministry of Land and Resources also required eight kinds of maps to be subject to the examination and approval of state land surveying and mapping authorities, including world or national map, map of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, map for school teaching and map imported from overseas.

China punishes 416 civil servants amid campaign against commercial bribery
2006-07-31 Xinhuanet
China has so far punished a total of 416 civil servants amid a national move against commercial bribery which began in the middle of last year, said a senior official with the leading group on anti-commercial bribery under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) here Monday. Among the officials, 49 are city-level and 367 county-level ones, said Li Yufu, deputy director of the leading group, at a news conference which is CPC's first ever to tell the public information on its latest fruits of combating commercial bribery. He said 1,603 cases were related to state workers, taking up to 23 percent of the total, with 508 million yuan (63.5 million U.S. dollars) of illicit money involved. In comparison, Li said, China tackled 6,972 commercial bribery cases during the period, involving 1.963 billion yuan (about 245 million U.S. dollars). The cases mainly existed in fields of construction, land acquisition, ownership transfer of state-owned enterprises, government procurement, medicine purchasing and selling, resources development, bank lending, trade in securities and futures, commercial insurance, publishing industry, telecommunication industry, electric power industry, sports industry and environmental protection. Statistics from the office of the leading group show that as the easy area of commercial bribery, the fields witnessed 5,480 or 78.6 percent of the country's total in the period. The amounts of the commercial briberies taken in the 15 key cases unveiled in the conference ranged from 560,000 to 10.73 million yuan (70,000 to 1.34 million U.S. dollars) and 15 were sentenced more than 10 years in jail. Wen Mengjie, former head of the technology division under the Beijing branch of the Agricultural Bank of China, raked 10.73 million yuan (about 1.34 million U.S. dollars) from equipment and software providers and illicitly seized 4.32 million yuan (540,000 U.S. dollars) of public money. He was sentenced to death in July, 2006, and the ruling is now undergoing a routine review at the Supreme Court. Zhang Quan, former deputy director of the Department of Communications of north China's Hebei province, was charged with taking 1.80 million yuan (225,000 U.S. dollars) in bribery and sentenced 14 years in jail in June, 2006. Chinese courts have chosen a strong stance against the rising tide of commercial bribery cases and is working to form a "high pressure" circumstance against it, said Xiong Xuanguo, vice president of China's Supreme Court, at the conference. But related trials, he said, will be strictly in accordance with what is written down in the criminal code and adhere to the principle of combining lenity with severity. "We will also work to prevent any trend of exaggeration when handling such cases," he said. Commercial bribery, Li said, has grown into one of the foes against China's development since it has provided a hotbed for power-money trade and other types of corruption. "It undermines both the social ethics and the construction of a harmonious society," he said. More supervision and restrictions on power should be adopted and intensified to a larger degree to prevent power abuse, he said. "This is one of the core parts of China's anti commercial bribery strategy," he said.

Corrupt financial official prosecuted for taking bribes
2006-08-04 China Daily
Xu Fangming, the former head of the banking division of the Chinese Ministry of Finance, has been charged with taking bribes equivalent to 2.14 million yuan (about 267,500 U.S. dollars), say sources with the No.1 Intermediate People's Court of Beijing City. Trial of Xu will be carried out in a separate chosen date later, said the court sources. The prosecutors allege that Xu, aged 49, took bribes in Chinese currency yuan and U.S. dollars between 1997 and 2000, from two sources when he served as deputy head of the ministry's business and banking division, the state treasury bond and banking division, and head of the banking division division successively. After taking bribes from Han Bing, the legal representative of Beijing Cheng'aoda Commercial Investment and Consulting Co. Ltd. and another allegedly briber known as Liu Min, Xu was accused of taking the advantage of his work posts to pursue interests on behalf of the companies the two bribers represented, according an indictment against Xu. Both Han Bing and Liu Min are dealt with separately, said the court sources. Xu, a native of Chifeng, a city in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, was detained by the police on June 16, 2005 for suspected bribe-taking but was formally arrested half a month later.

Anti-Sars hero, colleagues charged with embezzlement
2006-08-03 SCMP
An anti-Sars hero and six Guangdong provincial government colleagues have been charged with embezzling more than 22.4 million yuan, local media reported yesterday. Luo Yaoxing, former director of the Guangdong Provincial Centre for Disease Control's Immunology Department, confessed in the Guangzhou Intermediate Court yesterday that he had received more than 11.1 million yuan in bribes from several vaccine suppliers, the Yangcheng Evening News said. The other six defendants, also employed by the centre, were charged with taking more than 11.2 million yuan in the course of their duties, it said. The newspaper said Luo - who was named a hero of the anti-Sars fight in 2003 - had confessed to the Zhuhai District Procuratorate early this year and implicated others.



Agreement produces new Taiwan link
2006-08-03 China Daily
While direct flights to Taiwan are still politically impossible, a smooth journey directly across the Taiwan Straits will soon become reality for thousands of Taiwanese doing business in the mainland. In a joint press conference yesterday, Xiamen International Airport Group and Taiwan-based Uni Air announced that the two sides will work together to provide daily seamless transfer services for passengers travelling across the straits, beginning later this month. According to the arrangement, passengers from the mainland must first fly to Xiamen, where they will pass through a special air-sea joint operation service counter at the airport. The counter will clear customs and handle ticket and baggage issues for the passengers before they are transferred to Jinmen by boat to take another flight to Taiwan proper via Uni Air. Jinmen is the closest Taiwanese island to the mainland, about 13 kilometres from Xiamen. Currently, Uni Air's flights connect Kinmen with the Taiwanese cities of Taipei, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan and Kaohsiung. Service counters like that in Xiamen will also be set up in the airports of these five cities, where travellers will get the relevant procedures settled before they make the transfer to the mainland. "Taiwanese passengers only need to make a phone call to us to get everything settled, including the air tickets, shipping tickets and relevant procedures," said Chen Shyong-jyh, vice-president of Uni Airways Corp. "Their baggage will also go to their designated places directly." Such seamless services will save travelling costs for Taiwanese businessmen by at least one third and the travel time can also be greatly shortened, according to company executives of the Xiamen airport. For example, a round trip between Shanghai and Taipei would need only 5 hours under the new arrangement at a cost of 2,500 yuan (US$312), compared with at least 7 hours and 4,000 yuan (US$500) through non-stop charter flight via Hong Kong or Macao. Statistics showed at least 80,000 trips by Taiwan business-people to and from Shanghai every month. There are almost a million such visits a year. "It is really a boon to Taiwan business-people and investors to have such a co-operative arrangement," said Jiang Xinda, vice secretary-general of the Association of Shanghai Taiwan Businessmen Invested Enterprises, which has a membership base of at least 1,000. "However, we have to see how this works out in the long run." Shanghai reportedly has the largest Taiwanese community in the mainland, with registered Taiwanese companies numbering at least 5,000. Direct links have become a pressing issue in cross-Straits exchanges with the development of economic and trade relations between the two sides. The mainland has been pushing for the two-way implementation of "three direct links" in mail, transport and trade, but the political attitudes of Taiwanese authorities had stalled progress on the issue. The new arrangement by Xiamen International Airport and Uni Air can be called a "mini direct link," which is a good compromise based on the current political environment, said experts.



Gap between urban and rural Chinese's incomes likely to widen
2006-08-03 People's Daily
In a report issued by the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) on July 31st, NDRC estimates that the second half of 2006 is likely to witness slowing increase in Chinese peasant's cash income and a continuously widening gap between urban and rural dwellers' incomes. NDRC says Chinese authorities will strengthen their support for policies of increasing peasant's income. It is reported that in the first half of 2006, Chinese peasant's per capita income is 1797 yuan, up 11.9% in real terms against that in the same period of last year, but the growth rate is falling by 0.6 percentage points compared with that of last year. This decrease has caused concern to Chinese authorities. The report of NDRC also cites several factors that will undermine growth in Chinese peasant's income in the second half of 2006, such as low grain prices, incessant fall in prices of livestock products and likely increase in prices of agricultural production materials. NDRC cites the calculation made by other Chinese responsible department, saying that the fall in prices and increase in grain production costs alone have caused a loss of 30 to 50 yuan in peasant's net income. NDRC reveals that Chinese authorities will take vigorous actions to do research on and establish a comprehensive subsidy system to guarantee peasant's gain from crop cultivation and will take stronger measures to adjust the prices of grain and production materials. Besides, NDRC will take more efforts to improve the public services in rural areas. It also plans to guide and support Chinese peasants to seek employment in other sectors in order to keep peasant's income gaining continually. Other than that, NDRC will begin to look for an optimal way to realize rural social endowment insurance in order to solve endowment insurance issue of all the Chinese peasants including those peasant workers.


North Korea

10,000 feared dead from floods in North Korea
2006-08-03 SCMP
As many as 10,000 North Koreans are feared to have died in floods last month that official media are calling the worst in a century, it was revealed yesterday. There are concerns the scale of the disaster marks the start of a fresh humanitarian catastrophe for the secretive communist state. "About 4,000 people are now listed as missing, and we expect the final toll of dead and missing to reach 10,000," an independent South Korean aid group said. North Korea's official media has admitted that hundreds of people are dead or missing after a severe typhoon and heavy rain hit the country on July 10. Two weeks of heavy rainfall sent rainwater sweeping down deforested hillsides, unleashing rivers of mud on farms and villages. In Haeju, 105km south of Pyongyang, witnesses saw 200 bodies fished out of floodwaters, the group said. Good Friends, a long-term aid partner for North Korea, declined to reveal the sources for its figures. Serious flooding helped trigger a famine in the mid-1990s in which aid groups claim some 2 million North Koreans died. A decade later the country is still unable to feed its people, and damage to farmland from the latest flooding has sparked concerns chronic food shortages may worsen again. Though a massive relief operation was under way, Good Friends said, North Korea's army was confined to barracks because of tension with the outside world over its July 5 missile tests. The South's former unification minister Jeong Se-hyun, who leads the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Co-operation, said North Korea was in crisis but felt it was in no position to request aid after defying the world by firing the rockets. Yesterday the South's Red Cross said its North Korean counterpart had rejected an offer of help.


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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