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
  16.10-20.10.2006, No. 137  
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Foreign Policy

Chinese president highlights upturn in China-Japan ties
2006-10-18 People's Daily Online
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday highlighted the upturn in China-Japan relations, saying the two countries need to fulfill their pledge to advance bilateral relations. Hu made the remarks in a meeting with Japan's House of Councilors President Chikage Ogi, who is paying a three-day visit to Beijing. Ogi's visit comes a week after Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the first Japanese leader to visit China in five years, held talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing, a visit President Hu described as a "turning point" in diplomatic relations. China and Japan reached a consensus on overcoming the political obstacles affecting bilateral relations and promoting development of friendly cooperation, said Hu. "Under joint efforts from China and Japan, Abe made his first visit to China a success and refreshed relations between the two countries," Hu told Ogi. "China will work with Japan to implement the important consensus reached by the two sides and push forward China-Japan relations in a stable and healthy manner," Hu added. Ogi and China's top legislator Wu Bangguo signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Monday, officially launching a regular exchange mechanism between the two top legislative bodies. Hu said the parliamentary exchanges were an important part of China-Japan friendly cooperation and would offer a new platform for exchanges between the legislatures. The Chinese government supports exchanges and cooperation between the NPC and Japan's House of Councilors, said Hu. Japan highly values relations with China, said Ogi, the first female upper house president in Japanese history, adding Japan-China friendship will not only benefit the two nations, but also contribute to peace and stability in Asia and the world.

Chirac to visit next week
2006-10-18 SCMP
French President Jacques Chirac is to make a four-day visit to China next week for talks with President Hu Jintao. Mr Chirac will discuss ways of stepping up strategic partnerships, especially in energy and aeronautics, and given North Korea's nuclear test.

South Africa set for taste of China
2006-10-20 China Daily
South Africans will have a chance to get up close and personal with the ancient wonders of the Middle Kingdom and the marvels of modern China during a month-long cultural extravaganza starting later this month. The event, which will be held in the two main cities of Pretoria and Cape Town, includes exhibitions on arts and crafts, a photography show on today's China, traditional dance performances and just to ensure that visitors get a kick out of it kung fu. Experience China in South Africa (October 30-November 30) will strengthen the already-warm ties between the peoples of the two countries, Cai Wu, minister of the State Council Information Office, told China Daily in an exclusive interview yesterday. The programme is the brainchild of the Co-operation Programme on Deepening Strategic Partnership between China and South Africa, which was signed by visiting Premier Wen Jiabao and South African President Thabo Mbeki in Cape Town earlier this year. [...] "China is endeavouring to build a harmonious society. We are committed to working together with the rest of the world to build a harmonious world. [...] African countries are among the most trusted friends of China and it is the country's avowed policy to develop friendly relations with them. The State Council Information Office started the overseas cultural programmes in 1999; and since 2004, it has been using "Experience China" as the title for a series of activities.


Domestic Policy

Sacked NBS chief linked to scandal
2006-10-20 China Daily
China's former top statistician, Qiu Xiaohua, is suspected of involvement in the Shanghai pension fund fraud, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said yesterday. In the first official explanation for Qiu's sudden sacking a week ago, NBS spokesman Li Xiaochao yesterday told a news briefing that the 48-year-old former bureau chief was being investigated. An investigation into the Shanghai social security fund scandal found that Qiu was "suspected of severely violating disciplines," Li said. The pension fund scandal led to the sacking of the municipality's top Party official Chen Liangyu last month. The State Council removed Qiu from the NBS post on October 12, replacing him with Xie Fuzhan, former deputy director of the Development Research Centre of the State Council, a cabinet think tank. Qiu had taken up the post only seven months earlier. Qiu, 48, graduated from the Economics Department of Xiamen University in 1982. He served as chief economist and NBS spokesman between 1993 and 1998 and was appointed deputy director in 1999 before being elevated to director in March. In Shanghai, a massive corruption probe seems to have widened to the sporting world after the head of the city's Formula One (F1) Grand Prix Circuit was reportedly summoned for questioning this week. Yu Zhifei, general manager of Shanghai International Circuit Co, which hosts the Chinese Grand Prix, was being questioned mainly because the race track was built earlier this decade without requisite permission from the Ministry of Land and Resources, Shanghai Securities News reported yesterday, citing unnamed sources. The Shanghai track had a price tag of about US$350 million, including associated costs, making it the world's most expensive F1 raceway. Company officials declined to comment on the report yesterday.

Poverty alleviation goals set for 2010
2006-10-18 China Daily
China has vowed to lift 148,000 villages out of poverty by 2010. The plan would benefit 23.6 million people, 80 per cent of the country's rural poor. Liu Jian, director of the Chinese State Council Leading Group Office for Poverty Alleviation and Development, made the remarks yesterday at the Ministerial Level Poverty Reduction Seminar for Developing Countries in Beijing. "Ten per cent of the nation's poverty-reduction funds will be used in job training for rural people in the next five years so that the group can enter the non-agricultural job market," Liu said. "The State Council has recognized 30 labour pilot training bases across the country. A sound training network will take shape, and it is expected 90 per cent of the rural population will find jobs after they are trained." The country will also give more support to major enterprises that contribute the most to the poverty reduction cause at the local level. To date the Leading Group Office has authorized 260 such enterprises, which help more than 13 million poor people. China launched its poverty reduction campaign in 1986. Up to 2005, poverty alleviation aid had reached 125.6 billion yuan (US$15.7 billion), as well as 200 billion yuan (US$25 billion) in interest-free loans, the Leading Group Office report said. The number of people living in absolute poverty, those earning less than 683 yuan (US$85.38) a year, decreased from 125 million in 1985 to 23.65 million at the end of 2005, the report said. More than 70 per cent of villages in 592 counties originally included in the poverty alleviation plan had access to roads, electricity, telephone service, satellite TV, safe drinking water and healthcare services at the end of 2005. The enrolment rate of school-age children was 94.7 per cent. The number of people lifted out of poverty in China represents 75 per cent the total of all developing countries, the report said. "The Chinese leadership has formulated an ambitious vision of balanced development quite similar to the Millennium Development Goals," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote in a congratulatory letter released yesterday. "The UN applauds the emphasis on reducing inequality and promoting growth that is both sustainable and inclusive." [...] In a written speech to the ceremony, Premier Wen Jiabao said the eradication of poverty in China requires a sustained and long-term effort, and governments must do more to improve living conditions in underdeveloped regions. Poverty eradication is a historic task for China, said Wen, adding that society should support and take part in the efforts being made and that anti-poverty models should be widely publicized. [...]

Resolution on harmonious society published
2006-10-19 China Daily
China yesterday published the "Resolution on Major Issues Regarding the Building of a Harmonious Socialist Society," which was adopted at the conclusion of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on October 11. The resolution highlights the importance, guidelines, goals and principles of building a socialist harmonious society; co-ordinated development; social equity and justice; cultural harmony and consolidating the ideological and ethical foundations for social harmony; and improving public administration to build a vigorous and orderly society. It says social harmony is the intrinsic nature of socialism with Chinese characteristics and an important guarantee of the country's prosperity, the nation's rejuvenation and the people's happiness. The resolution stresses the harmonious socialist society is to be built and shared by all Chinese along the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics and under the leadership of the CPC. "We must always remain sober minded, vigilant, thoroughly understand the situation of the country in the current phase of development, study and analyze the contradictions and problems and their origins in a scientific way, be more active in facing up to the conflicts and solving them, and try our utmost to increase harmonious factors and reduce disharmonious factors to consistently boost social harmony," it says. The resolution also puts forward the principles to be followed, the main objectives and tasks for building a harmonious socialist society by 2020. Goals for 2020 include "further improvement of the socialist democratic and legal system; implementation of the fundamental principle of administering the country according to law; guaranteeing respect for people's rights and interests; narrowing the gap between urban and rural development and between different regions; favouring the emergence of a reasonable and orderly income distribution pattern; increase of household wealth and enabling people to lead more affluent lives." Further 2020 goals include "a relatively high employment rate and the establishment of a social security system covering both urban and rural residents; further improvements to the basic public service system and significant improvements to government administrative and service levels; enhanced ideological and moral qualities, scientific and cultural qualities and health status of the whole nation; further progress in fostering a sound moral atmosphere and harmonious interpersonal relationships; enhanced creativity of society as a whole and the development of an innovation-based nation." [...]

Spirit of the Long March should be carried forward: President Hu
2006-10-17 People's Daily Online
The spirit of the Long March is a possession of the Chinese people which should be carried forward in building a modern and harmonious socialist country, said Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday. Hu made the remarks while visiting an exhibition marking the 70th anniversary of the Long March, which debuts at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution on Monday. The exhibition shows more than 580 pictures, 440 pieces of cultural relics, 180 publications, 25 art works, 52 graphs and three large-scale scenes, revealing the spirit of the Red Army in the Long March. The exhibition is a live textbook of revolution history for the cadres and the people, especially the youngsters, said Hu. The Long March was a famous military maneuver carried out by the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army from 1934 to 1936 led by the Communist Party of China (CPC) to combat the Kuomintang Regime. Though many soldiers died on the way, the Red Army finally arrived at Yan'an in western Shaanxi Province after the 25,000-li (12,500-kilometer) trek, where the new headquarters of CPC was later established. Other top officials who paid visit to the exhibition on Monday included Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Zeng Qinghong, Huang Ju, Wu Guanzheng, Li Changchun and Luo Gan.

Two held as city pension fund scandal snowballs - More Shanghai officials could be implicated, say analysts
2006-10-18 SCMP
Authorities have detained two more officials of state-owned Shanghai Electric Group for involvement in a growing scandal over mismanagement of the city's pension fund. Two officials from an asset management company under the group, deputy chairman Xu Wei and the deputy head of the company's investment management department, Cheng Yanmin, were being questioned, the China Securities Journal said yesterday. Shanghai Electric could not be reached for comment. [...] The scandal has resulted in the sacking of Shanghai's top leader, party secretary Chen Liangyu , and the detention of several other Shanghai officials. They include labour chief Zhu Junyi , Baoshan district head Qin Yu and Sun Luyi , a deputy secretary-general of Shanghai's Municipal Party Committee. Political analysts said more officials could be implicated in what was seen as a move by President Hu Jintao to assert power over Shanghai. Mr Chen was a member of the so-called "Shanghai Gang", led by former President Jiang Zemin , which has great influence in the current administration. [...] Following the removal of Mr Chen late last month, Mayor Han Zheng was named Shanghai's acting party secretary, but it remains to be seen if he will win the post on a permanent basis. Some political analysts expect Mr Hu to place an official from outside Shanghai in the job.

Officials sent by cabinet to probe illicit investment
2006-10-16 China Daily
China's State Council, or the cabinet, has decided to send six teams of officials to 12 provinces to assess their performance in halting illicit investment projects. Officials from the National Reform and Development Commission (NRDC), the Ministry of Land and Resources and other central authorities will be dispatched to Shandong, Jiangsu, Hebei, Henan, Anhui, Sichuan, Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Zhejiang, Jilin, Jiangxi and Hunan, NRDC officials told Xinhua Monday. The provinces will have to report what they have done to cool off runaway investment, whether they have strictly observed land, environmental protection and other policies when approving projects, and what punishments they have meted out to those responsible for illicit investments," the officials said. According to the latest figures from the NRDC, China recorded 29.1 percent growth in urban fixed asset investment in the first eight months of the year. A total of 131,000 new projects were launched nationwide, involving investments of 4.5 trillion yuan (570 billion U.S. dollars). An April survey by the NRDC of 3,779 projects, each involving investment of more than 100 million yuan, found that 44.2 percent of them did not have approvals for land use and 43.9 percent of them had not secured environmental impact assessment and approvals. To make it worse, NDRC officials said a large number of the illicit projects involve the charcoal, coal mining, cement, steel and textile industries, where the government has been endeavoring to cut oversupply. Convinced that runaway investment is driving the economy to the verge of overheating, the Chinese government has recently taken an unprecedented tough stance with regard to defiant local officials. [...] The six teams are expected to report their findings by the end of the month.



US protests over killing of Tibetan near Nepal - Monk who witnessed incident rejects claim that soldiers fired in self-defence
2006-10-16 SCMP
The US has lodged a protest over an incident in which Chinese border soldiers killed a Tibetan trying to flee into Nepal, an embassy spokeswoman said yesterday. "The US ambassador on Thursday had gone to the Foreign Ministry to officially protest the September 30 shooting incident," the spokeswoman said. Tibetan rights groups last week said Chinese border troops had opened fire on a group of about 70 refugees including children, women and monks who were trying to enter Nepal. The US-based International Campaign for Tibet identified the person who died as 25-year-old Tibetan nun Kelsang Namtso. The group also quoted a British climber who witnessed the shooting, policeman Steve Lawes, as saying a group of about 10 to 12 children had been taken into custody. Xinhua said on Thursday that soldiers had killed one person and injured another near Mount Everest, but claimed they were acting in self-defence. It said the soldiers had tried to persuade the group to go back home, "but the stowaways refused and attacked the soldiers". However, a 35-year-old monk who witnessed the shooting, and is in hiding in Kathmandu, disputed the agency's account of a confrontation, saying that the soldiers had fired indiscriminately at the unarmed refugees. "It was not self-defence, they just wanted to shoot us. They were shooting indiscriminately," said the monk, who declined to be named. On Saturday, a Romanian television station released a video that showed troops shooting at Tibetan refugees. The footage, from Pro TV's website, depicts a line of Tibetans walking through the snow on the Nangpa La Pass when a shot is heard and one person in the group falls to the ground. An unidentified man can be heard saying in English: "They are shooting them like dogs." According to a narrator, the Romanian cameraman who witnessed the incident was 1km away from the Tibetans. "Everybody can see a Chinese soldier standing in the shooting position, he opens fire, the bullets hit human flesh, Tibetans fall to the ground, one of them seems to escape the bullet, but is hit by a second round," the narrator says. An unidentified climber was quoted by Pro TV as saying: "I don't know what right the Chinese think they have to do things like this ... there is no need to kill." Beijing has ruled Tibet since 1950. International rights groups accuse it of ruling Tibet through repression and intimidation. Around 2,500 Tibetans each year make an often dangerous trip across the Himalayas into Nepal. Many travel on to India, where the Dalai Lama leads a Tibetan government-in-exile in the northern hill station of Dharamsala.



China's economy grows 10.7% in first three quarters
2006-10-19 China Daily
China's economy grew by 10.7 per cent in the first three quarters of this year, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. "According to preliminary estimation, the gross domestic product (GDP) of China in the first three quarters of this year was 14,147.7 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 10.7 per cent," Li Xiaochao, spokesman of the NBS, said. The GDP growth was 0.8 percentage point higher than that in the same period of last year, Li told a press conference held by the State Council Information Office. In the third quarter, GDP growth was 10.4 percent, down 0.9 percentage points from the second quarter he said. "The tendency of the economy growing a little bit too fast has been brought under check," Li said. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences predicted earlier this month that the country could post a GDP growth of 10.5 per cent for the whole year. [...]

ICBC share offer draws big response
2006-10-17 China Daily
The world-record US$19.1 billion public offer by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) was met with great enthusiasm by domestic and overseas investors yesterday. The bank, the largest by assets in China, began accepting subscriptions from institutional investors for shares to be listed in Shanghai and simultaneously launched an H-share public offering in Hong Kong. The initial public offering (IPO) represents about 15 per cent of the bank's enlarged share capital. Institutional investors in Hong Kong began applying for the stock a week ago and, according to two people who were involved in the sale and did not want to be identified, underwriters have already received orders for US$175 billion, or more than 13 times the amount available to them. ICBC is offering 1.77 billion shares, or 5 per cent of the total offering, to Hong Kong retail investors. They have until midday on Thursday to place their orders. The bank makes its trading debut simultaneously in Hong Kong and Shanghai on October 27. The dual IPO, China's first, is expected to be the world's largest, exceeding the 1998 stock sale by Japanese mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo, which raised US$18.4 billion, according to market data provider Dealogic. [...] Thousands of Hong Kong residents lined up outside banks yesterday to apply for the shares. Analysts estimated that retail investors in Hong Kong might pump in a combined capital of HK$300 billion during the subscription. "Overseas investors think highly of ICBC shares because the lender has the biggest customer network among Chinese banks," said Daniel Zeng, chief investment officer with First State Cinda Fund Management, adding that investors are betting on China's sizzling economic growth. [...]

Migrant workers leave millions of children behind - In some areas, parentless minors are 20pc of total - and their number is rising
2006-10-20 SCMP
More than 20 million rural children have been left behind by parents working in mainland cities as migrant workers, the official All-China Women's Federation said yesterday. They accounted for up to 20 per cent of the children in some localities and their ranks are likely to grow, according to a report by Xinhua. The figures were released yesterday as 12 ministries and commissions set up a working group focusing on the problems facing "left behind children". A survey by the federation in 12 provinces found that about 60 per cent of rural women working in urban areas had left children in the care of relatives. The report did not reveal the scope of the survey. About 80 per cent of the women said they only saw their children once or twice a year, another 12.7 per cent only managed to see them once in every one or two years, Xinhua said. Migrant labour has become a major force of the mainland's economic growth, with more than 100 million rural people seeking employment in cities across the country. But a residency registration system has stopped parents from bringing their children with them to urban areas because of restrictions on access to education and medical treatment. High mobility was another reason for parents to leave their children behind, according to Hao Maishou from the Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences. Professor Hao said up to 80 per cent of migrant labour worked on construction sites or related jobs. "This means they have to move frequently. It's impossible and not practical for them to take their children along with them," he said. Professor Hao estimated that no more than 20 per cent of migrant labourers took their children with them to the cities. A study by Beijing's Renmin University last year put the number of "left-behind children" at 23 million, Professor Hao added. The federation's survey found that most of the children had problems in their schooling, health and psychological development because of a lack of a parental care. A lack of family education had also led to an increase in the crime rate committed by the children who are left behind, Xinhua said. Some were bullied by neighbours and schoolmates, it added. Professor Hao said the authorities in provinces such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu had been tackling the problems with satisfactory results. But the situation remained a source of concern as problems were still serious in most areas, he said. He suggested setting up community centres where children could communicate with parents via video conferencing. "Boarding schools can be set up to care for these children to let them experience the spirit of team work," he said.

China: Investment curbs paying off
2006-10-17 China Daily
BEIJING: China's efforts to curb runaway expansion in some industries are starting to pay off, but fixed-asset investment growth remains too rapid, the country' top economic planning official said in remarks published on Monday. Ma Kai, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said curbing the launch of new investment projects remained the main focus of the broad array of macro-control measures that Beijing was deploying. In a speech made on Friday and posted on the agency's Web site, Ma said the economy was in good shape but the country faced some striking problems: fixed-asset investment and credit were still expanding too fast, while the trade surplus was too large. "The government has taken a series of timely macro-economic measures and these measures have initially helped contain the momentum of blind expansion in some industries, but the problem of overcapacity has yet to be fundamentally resolved," the top economic planner Ma said. Excess capacity in sectors such as steel, alumina, coking and autos showed no let-up, while risks remained for overinvestment in other industries including coal, power and textiles, he said. Fearful that overcapacity could wipe out profits and deluge banks with new bad loans, the government has taken a raft of measures to cool some fast-growing sectors. Investment growth slowed in August, but Ma said the authorities needed to keep tight controls on bank credit and land supply while implementing tougher environmental and safety standards. "The top priority of macro-economic policy is to strictly control the launch of new projects," Ma said. Toward that end, the central government has dispatched six inspection teams to the provinces to spearhead a drive launched in early August to scrutinize new projects, he said. [...] Echoing Ma's comments, Cheng Siwei, a top legislator, was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying that overly rapid investment and credit growth and the swelling trade surplus were the biggest concerns for China's economy. The underlying source of those imbalances was the country's overly high savings rate, which pushed interest rates down and fueled capital spending, said Cheng, who is vice-chairman of the standing committee of the National People's Congress. That, in turn, was largely the result of the social security system being relatively underdeveloped, he was quoted as saying.

Premier Wen announces new name for Canton Fair
2006-10-16 Xinhuanet
On Sunday in Guangzhou Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced that the 50-year-old Chinese Export Commodities Fair will change its name to the Chinese Import and Export Commodities Fair at the next meeting. The fair, also known as Canton Fair, has been a biannual event in spring and autumn since 1957. Wen said the new name will come into effect at the 101st fair. The move aims to expand China's range of imports and pushes for the balanced development of China's foreign trade, said Wen. He said China will continue to implement a policy of opening-up, encourage Chinese companies to invest abroad and welcome foreign companies investing in China. China will perfect economic regulations concerning foreign business, improve protection of intellectual property rights and create a fair trade environment for all companies. Wen said that the Canton Fair is a showcase for China's reform and opening up drive and the country cannot develop without the assistance of the rest of the world. He said the fair promotes China's opening up drive and is an important part of China's "win-win" strategy. He stressed that the country will abide by World Trade Organization regulations and help to build the global multilateral trade mechanism. China will try to absorb more advanced technology and management expertise from other countries, and learn all mankind's achievements.


North Korea

In-depth talks held with DPRK leader
2006-10-20 China Daily
China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) have held "in-depth" discussions on the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, October 19. A special envoy of President Hu Jintao, State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan, met DPRK leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang yesterday morning, spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news briefing. "The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on China-DPRK relations and the current situation on the Korean Peninsula," Liu said. The meeting was of "great significance" as it was held in the backdrop of the peninsula undergoing major changes, he said, referring to the nuclear test conducted by the DPRK on October 9. The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution last weekend imposing sanctions against the DPRK, which include a call to inspect cargo on ships sailing to and from the DPRK. "Tang's visit to the DPRK is extremely important for bilateral ties and the current situation on the peninsula," Liu said. Responding to reports that claimed the Six-Party Talks could end following the nuclear test, Liu said China is still "full of hope" that the talks could resume. Tang delivered a message from President Hu to Kim on the nuclear issue, according to the spokesman, who did not reveal the content. Tang arrived in Pyongyang on Wednesday, accompanied by Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, who is also China's top negotiator at the stalled Six-Party Talks, and Dai Bingguo, director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. Prior to meeting Kim, Tang, as the president's special envoy, met US President George W. Bush in Washington and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week. There has been a flurry of diplomatic activity in response to the DPRK's nuclear test. In Seoul, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, who warned earlier yesterday that a second DPRK nuclear test would trigger a "much more serious" global response. Ban, slated to be the next UN secretary-general, also said Pyongyang should not make further moves that would "aggravate the situation." The ROK's Yonhap news agency reported that Seoul would bolster inspections of cargo heading to the DPRK and halt subsidies to a joint tourism project in the DPRK. Rice and Ban called on the DPRK to return unconditionally to the Six-Party Talks, which also include China, Japan and Russia. However, Rice said real progress would have to be made if the talks were to resume. "The US has no desire to do anything to escalate the situation," Rice said. "We want to leave open the path of negotiation, we don't want the crisis to escalate." She is expected to arrive in Beijing today. Rice arrived in Asia as the Bush administration begins a diplomatic campaign to rally international support for sanctions agreed on Saturday. During her visit to China, Rice is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and other Chinese leaders to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula and Sino-US relations, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Countries urge DPRK back to talks
2006-10-20 China Daily
Seoul: Foreign ministers of South Korea, the United States and Japan on Thursday urged an early return of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the six-party talks. South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and his U.S. counterpart Condoleezza Rice and Japanese counterpart Taro Aso held a two-hour trilateral meeting in his residence, discussing the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, said South Korea's Yonhap news agency. The three sides reiterated that the nuclear test by DPRK is a grave threat to the Korean Peninsula, the East Asia as well as the world. The three sides confirmed that they will take unified measures against DPRK in terms of the U.N. Security Council's Resolution 1718, the Yonhap said, quoting an unnamed South Korean Foreign Ministry official. The three sides agreed to leave the door open for negotiations with DPRK in a bid to resolve the nuclear issue through a peaceful and diplomatic way. During the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured South Korea and Japan of the U.S. security commitments in the region, the Yonhap said. It was the first trilateral meeting among the three countries' foreign ministers since October, 2000, when then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with her counterparts in Seoul after her visit to Pyongyang. Rice arrived here on Thursday on her three-nation Asia tour. [...]

All quiet on China's northeastern front
2006-10-19 China Daily
Dandong, Liaoning Province: Any change? No, except the Yalu River is getting cooler by the day. The response by 61-year-old retiree Chen Yicheng, who swims regularly along with his friends in the river, seemed to sum up the mood in this northeastern town on the border of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Despite intense media coverage since the DPRK conducted a nuclear test last week, the contingent of foreign and domestic journalists in town, reports of sanctions and rumours of a chill in bilateral relations, life seems to be going on as normal although the test site is less than 150 kilometres away. Yesterday, tourists were strolling along the riverside avenue and riding on boats, swimmers were frolicking in the river before it gets too cold, and cargo trucks were rumbling across the Friendship Bridge that spans the Yalu River which marks the border between China and the DPRK. Outside the city, in places where the river narrows and the distance between the two countries is literally a stone's throw, a fence is being erected. Locals say the fence cement pillars about 2 metres high strung together with barbed wire has been recently completed but there was no visible security presence and few signs of tension. A PLA officer said the fence was erected to prevent people and livestock from crossing the border by mistake; and Lu Chao, with the Liaoning Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, said work on building the fence began in the early 1990s. Dandong faces the DPRK city of Sinuiju across the river, and handles more then 80 per cent of China's trade with the DPRK. About 50,000 people, or more than a fifth of its population, are engaged in trade and related sectors. At the checkpoint, officials checked drivers' papers closely and opened trucks to look inside. "Inspections by Customs have been stricter since last week." [...]

Restraint is 'best way to ease tension'
2006-10-18 China Daily
China yesterday urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to adopt a responsible attitude and take no further action to aggravate tensions caused by its recent nuclear test. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao made the remarks at a regular news briefing amid speculation that the DPRK may be planning a second nuclear test. "China resolutely opposes the nuclear test by the DPRK, insists on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and opposes the proliferation of nuclear weapons," said Liu, calling for negotiations to resolve the nuclear issue on the peninsula. The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution on Saturday against the DPRK for its claimed nuclear test last week. The DPRK's Foreign Ministry lashed out at the sanctions yesterday, calling them "a declaration of war," and saying the country will "deal merciless blows" if its sovereignty is violated. When asked to comment on the DPRK's reaction, Liu said that the consensus reached by the international community should "get a positive response" from Pyongyang. The UN resolution rules out military action against the DPRK, but calls on all countries to inspect inbound and outbound cargo to prevent any illegal trafficking in weapons of mass destruction or ballistic missiles. Chinese border officials started checking trucks at the DPRK border this week. Liu said that "sanctions are not the purpose. The purpose is to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." He urged all sides to "keep calm and be restrained" and take appropriate action to create favourable conditions for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. He said that China has always implemented Security Council measures seriously and in a responsible manner. "This time is no exception." The spokesman also announced visits by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Friday-Saturday) and French President Jacques Chirac (October 25-28). Rice will meet Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and other leaders to "exchange views on Sino-US relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula." The DPRK nuclear issue will definitely be on the agenda during Chirac's visit, Liu said. China and France are both permanent members of the UN Security Council. At the briefing, Liu denied any link between the wire fence being constructed on the China-DPRK border and the nuclear test. He said that China started building the fence and other border-control facilities as early as in 1990 to improve management and control of the borders, adding that the situation on the border is normal. Liu did not confirm reports that some branches of the Bank of China have halted remittances to the DPRK. Japan's Asahi Shimbun quoted a bank official as saying the move was related to international sanctions on Pyongyang. Responding to some Japanese lawmakers' suggestion to develop nuclear weapons following the DPRK's nuclear test, Liu called for Japan to stick to its "Three Non-Nuclear Principles" and adopt a responsible attitude to safeguard regional peace and stability. The principles, approved in 1971, state that Japan will not produce, possess or allow nuclear weapons on its territory. Japan, as a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, must strictly fulfil its obligations, said Liu. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last Tuesday that Japan would stick to its "Three Non-Nuclear Principles" and was not planning to possess nuclear weapons.

US presses China to play ball on N Korea - Beijing told of 'heavy responsibility' to abide by sanctions resolution after claimed nuclear test
2006-10-16 SCMP
The US ambassador to the United Nations yesterday called on China to abide by the resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea, saying Beijing had a "heavy responsibility" to influence the behaviour of its ally, after Beijing said it had objections to the resolution. Ambassador John Bolton also said that North Korea's claimed nuclear test last week was a public humiliation for China, the North's major ally and supplier of crucial shipments of food and energy aid. "After all of the efforts they've made over the years to protect North Korea from international approbation, for the North Koreans, in the face of all that, to test [a nuclear device] had to get quite a reaction in Beijing. And I think we're still seeing that play out," Mr Bolton told ABC's This Week programme. If China were to cut that support, it "would be powerfully persuasive in Pyongyang. They've not yet been willing to do it. I think that China has a heavy responsibility here", he said. Mr Bolton's comments came after China's UN ambassador Wang Guangya voiced "reservations" about provisions for cargo inspections on shipping in and out of North Korea, saying Beijing did not approve. [...]



DPAsks Government To Go Debate Likely Next Week
2006-10-19 UB Post
The Democratic Party finally submitted on October 13 its much - publicised letter to Parliament Speaker Ts. Nyamdorj calling for the dismissal of the government headed by MPRP Chairman M. Enkhbold. A total of 23 members of parliament, including all Democratic Party MPs and independent members, have signed the letter. L. Gansukh, chairperson of the DP parliamentary council, placed the letter before the Speaker. The Democratic Party has charged the eight-month-old government of national unity led by Enkhbold with having cabinet members who do not follow decisions taken collectively and instead enforce their own agenda. We have put the question before Parliament. It is now for the MPRP to decide whether the Government will resign, or change the offending Ministers, or defend itself against our charge, said Gansukh. He added, The DP will in no case be a part of the government. The MPRP's administrative council met on October 17 to discuss the DP demand. According to news reports the question of the Government's resignation does not arise. The Prime Minister has reacted to the DP charges and demand by addressing an open letter to the people. He says in this that his government has taken many steps to improve the lives of the people, and to sustain economic growth. This year, Mongolian economic growth is expected to reach 8 percent, and GDP per capita has reached US$950, which is an increase by US$200 in a year. Enkhbold says the country.s economic growth is expected to reach 9 percent next year, and salaries, pensions, and social allowances would all be increased by 15-20 percent, and the children allowance amount would be Tg5,000. He says the DP demand for his Government's resignation is politically motivated, and is a poisonous activity that sows distrust between the public and the Government. The Standing Committee on State Structure discussed the DP letter on October 18. Parliament is expected to take up the issue next week. At least two-thirds of the MPs, that is 51 members in a House of 76, must support the demand if the Government is to go. Many people have been criticizing the government, so we are sure that other political forces would support our demand, said DP leader S. Bayartsogt. O. Erdeneburen, a Motherland Party MP, has already announced that he would join DP. Political analysts say the Civil Will Party will support the motion. On the other hand, the New National Party, which is a part of the Government, dismisses the letter as groundless. It is likely that the Government would dismiss some Ministers from the People's Party, the Republican Party and the Motherland Party, and induct some new faces from the New National Party.

Naming Friends
2006-10-19 UB Post
Whether they are legally enjoined or just popularly expected to do so, all, or at least most, Mongolian ministries seem to offer an annual public presentation of their functions and achievements. On October 13 and 14 it was the turn of the Foreign Ministry to set up shop. This year marks the 45th anniversary of Mongolia's entry into the United Nations, so it was something of a special occasion for the Foreign Ministry. Some embassies and the UN office here also had their gers and, as usual in Ulaanbaatar, everything took on a festive atmosphere, time spent in the sun, watching dance and music presented on the stage that is always erected on such occasions, buying some handicraft, dropping into some stalls that sold food not easily available here. (In deed, the people who sold the doenna kebab should have said where, if anywhere, the stuff is available in the city. Or, did they come only for these two days at Sukhbaatar Square?) Not all embassies were represented, including some of the more important ones, and not all of those that had come presented information with equal panache and/or depth. But one learnt a lot. The UN stall was well run but the English part of its newsletter surely could have been much better edited. It was something of a mystery why so many gers were unoccupied, particularly some which had things inside. One had a number of chessboards on a table. Was this meant as a symbolic representation of the diplomatic chessboard that international affairs comprise? To me the most interesting and educative visit was to the booth of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There were photographs of many people, practices, and papers from the old times, and it was good to see several Mongolian youngsters taking an interest in times before their birth and getting a feel of how things had been different with their parents. History does not have to be prehistory or even centuries old. The man who said this first is now somewhat discredited, but I continue to believe in his dictum, in paraphrase, that those who do not learn from history will be condemned to repeat it. This makes it imperative for young Mongolians to know what their country was like, and how it has been steered into new waters. A film was also being shown on the milestones in Mongolia's international relations, along the long road from the days when the country was diplomatically recognized by just one country to its full membership of the UN, which over the years has adopted more than 50 resolutions initiated by the country. It must also not be forgotten that as early as November 2001, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that recognized the richness of nomadic civilization (that) influenced societies across Asia and Europe and (developed) extensive trade networks and (created) large administrative, cultural, religious, and administrative centers, and invited member States, the UN, its specialized agencies and other organizations of the UN system, as well as relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, regional organizations and foundations, academia, to take active part in the events to be organized by Mongolia in celebration of (the 800th) anniversary (of Mongolian Statehood in 2006).

MCA agreement in spring
2006-10-19 UB Post
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said early this week that the Mongolian Government would sign a compact agreement with the Millennium Challenge Account in the spring of 2007. The U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has written to the Mongolian Minister for Foreign Affairs, N. Enkhbold, expressing the desire of the United States to speed up the process of formalizing the agreement. The U.S. Millennium Challenge Account has already included Mongolia in the list of countries to receive assistance from the fund in the fiscal year 2007. The new U.S. Ambassador Mark Minton reaffirmed this during his meeting with the Speaker of the State Great Hural, Ts. Nyamdorj, on October 16. Next year, Mongolia and the U.S. will mark the 20th year of opening diplomatic relations.

Government to Compensate Bankruptcy Victims
2006-10-19 UB Post
The Government announced on Monday it would compensate all members of bankrupt private savings and credit unions for their loss by the end of the year. Refusing to wait for so long, seven victims of the Reconstruction and Development Association continued with the hunger-strike they had begun earlier on the day. Making the announcement, the Minister of Justice and Home Affairs, D. Odbayar, urged the agitators to call off their protest and to vacate Sukhbaatar Square. When they refused to do so, unless the compensation was paid earlier, the Minister ordered the demolition of the ger they had put up. The strikers and their supporters spent Monday night in the open. Leaders of a committee organized by the victims told the media that more people would join the strike in the coming days. They also said that in the event of the Government not being responsive, three people are ready for self- immolation. The Government decision to pay full compensation follows a letter from President N. Enkhbayar to the continued from page 1 Government in which he reaffirmed what he had said in his address at the opening session of the State Great Hural. He feels that the State should bear responsibility for what ordinary people have lost for no fault of theirs. The President suggested that the Government help the victims by involving them in various financial support projects, like giving free scholarships to affected students to complete their post-graduate degrees, giving opportunities for land ownership, and ownership of shares in certain state-run enterprises, helping them migrate to foreign countries to work there, and to benefit from long-term house mortgage loans. He urged the Government to have a discussion on these proposals in Parliament without much delay. The victims have for long been claiming that the State, especially Parliament and the central bank, should be held responsible for the bankruptcy of all savings and credit unions, as these had worked under laws framed by Parliament and under monitoring by the central bank. At Reconstruction and Development alone, 1,400 members are estimated to have lost savings worth Tg14.6 billion. The victims held a number of protest meetings outside the Government House and the central bank, the Bank of Mongolia. The Government says police investigations into the whole bankruptcy business are continuing and some cases have already been transferred to a court.


Chung Vay-Luy
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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