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
  20.11-24.11.2006, No. 142  
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Foreign Policy

China, Japan vow to expand ties
2006-11-20 China Daily
Hanoi -- China and Japan agreed to expand bilateral relations by maintaining high-level contacts and increasing co-operation in energy, economy and trade. President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reached the agreement on Saturday in a meeting on the sidelines of the 14th Economic Leaders' Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation. The meeting between Hu and Abe is their second since Abe took office in September. Abe visited Beijing in early October. Hu said that the meeting reflects the "common will of the two countries to improve bilateral relations." The two countries agreed to build a "strategic relationship of mutual interests" and foreign affairs departments will work on details of such a relationship. Hu called for more cultural and youth exchanges to increase friendship between the two peoples so as to consolidate the foundation for bilateral ties. The Chinese President advocated drafting medium and long-term plans for bilateral co-operation in sectors of trade, investment, information, energy, environmental protection and finance. Abe suggested starting ministerial-level meetings for economic and trade co-operation as well as dialogue between energy departments of the two countries to increase partnership in energy conservation and environmental protection. "President Hu adopted a very positive attitude towards Abe's proposal and believes it is very helpful," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao after the meeting. The two leaders also agreed to make joint efforts to promote peace, stability and development in Northeast Asia and increase co-ordination in pushing regional integration. Hu cited history and Taiwan as "sensitive questions" concerning the political basis for bilateral ties and called for them to be "appropriate handled." Abe noted that Japan will handle the question of Taiwan according to the joint statement of the two sides, adhering the one-China policy and opposing Taiwan "independence." Both Hu and Abe expressed willingness to advance negotiations on the East China Sea and make it an area of "peace, friendship and co-operation." The two sides have a long-running row over development of natural resources in a disputed area of the East China Sea. Hu said that they should use negotiations and talks, put aside disputes and seek common development. During the meeting, Abe again extended an invitation for Hu to visit Japan next year. Hu accepted the invitation, according to spokesman Liu.

Chinese president makes five-point proposal for Sino-Indian economic cooperation
2006-11-23 People's Daily Online
Visiting Chinese President made a five-point proposal Thursday in Mumbai for promoting Sino-Indian economic and trade cooperation at the India-China Economic, Trade and Investment Cooperation Summit and CEO Forum. The first is to expand and upgrade bilateral trade. The two countries have set a new goal for bilateral trade to reach 40 billion U.S. dollars in the year 2010. To achieve this goal, Hu said both sides should work to improve the trade structure, increase the technology content in commodities and add value to them, increase the share of new and high-tech products and electron mechanical products in bilateral trade, expand the scale of trade and upgrade the level of cooperation. The second is to strengthen cooperation in key areas. Hu said the respective strength of China and India in information technology, energy resources, infrastructure, science and technology and agriculture is mutually complementary and offers great potential for cooperation. The two sides should explore business opportunities in these fields and nurture new growth stimulus to boost business ties. The Chinese Government will continue to encourage competent Chinese companies to invest and do business in India, and Indian companies are welcome to explore business opportunities in China, said Hu. The third is to improve environment of trade and investment. He said the Chinese and Indian governments should, acting in the overall interests of the two countries, strengthen consultation and dialogue and properly resolve problems in business and trade. He said both sides should take measures to remove obstacles to trade and investment, promote trade and investment facilitation and create an enabling business environment. The two governments should create better conditions for bilateral economic and technological cooperation and ensure a fair and favorable trading environment for business communities of the two sides. The fourth is to strengthen cooperation in multilateral fields and with third countries. He said China and India should strengthen coordination in the World Trade Organization and other multilateral economic organizations to jointly uphold the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. The two countries should encourage Chinese and Indian companies to enter into energy cooperation in third countries, and they may conduct joint project contracting in third countries by drawing on mutual strength, noted Hu. The fifth is to actively explore trade liberalization. He said to establish a China-India free trade area will lift the bilateral business relations to a higher level and promote regional economic integration in Asia. China and India have started joint feasibility study on regional trade arrangement and agreed to conclude the study by October 2007, said Hu, hoping this will lay a good foundation for launching negotiation on regional trade arrangement. China-India two-way trade, growing at an average annual rate of 32 percent, rose to 18.7 billion dollars in 2005 from 1.16 billion dollars in 1995, a jump of 15 times in ten years. The bilateral trade volume this year is expected to exceed 20 billion dollars. China is now India's second largest trading partner and India is China's largest trading partner in South Asia. Besides, India is also one of China's most important project contracting markets. Bilateral mutual investment is growing, and it covers new industries such as telecommunications, software and pharmacy, which serve as an example for investment in other sectors. Hu said China-India business cooperation, which is mutually beneficial in nature, has brought much benefit to both countries, and solidified the foundation of the relations.

Chinese president vows to push forward Sino-Russian strategic partnership
2006-11-19 People's Daily Online
Chinese President Hu Jintao met Saturday in Hanoi with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and expressed his willingness to work together with Russia to push forward the Sino-Russian strategic partnership. "The relations between China and Russia have made historic progress since they forged a strategic partnership of coordination 10 years ago," Hu said when meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the two-day Economic Leaders' Informal Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which began on Saturday. Both sides have enhanced mutual political trust, achieved noticeable results in their pragmatic cooperation and deepened their strategic coordination, he said, adding that the Sino-Russian friendship has contributed to peace and stability in the region and the world as a whole. Calling the "Year of Russia" in China a success, Hu said he believed the 2007 "Year of China" in Russia will be successful as well. "The overall economic and trade ties between the two countries have maintained a good momentum," Hu said, urging both sides to make joint efforts in expanding cooperation and enhancing its quality. To attain the goal, the Chinese president said economic and trade structure should be improved, with more cooperation in electro-mechanical products and high technology, mutual investment be increased and areas of cooperation be expanded. China is willing to enhance cooperation with Russia in such fields as science and technology, aviation and space technology, health, environmental protection and culture, he added. Noting the Russia-China ties and their mutually beneficial cooperation having developed to a high level, Putin said his country will continuously strive to promote bilateral friendship and cooperation. Putin said he appreciated China's arrangement for the "Year of Russia" and pledged to offer assistance for the 2007 "Year of China" in Russia. He said Russia-China trade has developed rapidly, adding that Russia has launched the construction of its longest oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to the Pacific Ocean. The oil pipeline will run from Taishet along a 4,000 km route, to give Russia access to countries of the Asian-Pacific region. Russia also supported participation of Chinese enterprises in the energy exploration and exploitation in Russia, the Russian president said. [...]

China, Laos to promote partnership
2006-11-21 People's Daily Online
VIENTIANE: President Hu Jintao met Lao National Assembly President Thongsing Thammavong yesterday, and the two discussed efforts to promote bilateral ties and co-operation. China and Laos have been friendly neighbours since ancient times, and recent years have witnessed the all-around development of the relationship between the two countries and two parties, Hu said. The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese Government stand ready to work with their Lao counterparts to take their all-around co-operative relations of long-term stability, good-neighbourliness and mutual trust to a new height, said Hu. For his part, Thongsing said President Hu's current visit would consolidate the foundation of Laos-China ties, boost their friendly and all-around co-operation and bring bilateral relations to a new stage of development. Noting that China's National People's Congress (NPC) and the Lao National Assembly face the same task of fostering socialist democracy and strengthening the socialist legal system in their respective countries, Hu said it was important for the two sides to increase exchanges. Lauding the existing good co-operative ties between the Lao National Assembly and China's NPC, Thongsing expressed the hope that the two sides would expand exchanges and maintain the high-level exchange of visits by the legislative bodies of the two countries. Hu arrived here on Sunday afternoon from Viet Nam where he paid a state visit and attended the 14th APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) Economic Leaders' Meeting. Laos is the second leg of Hu's four-nation tour, which will also take him to India and Pakistan.

Chinese president in Islamabad for state visit to Pakistan
2006-11-24 People's Daily Online
Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Thursday for a state visit, which is aimed at promoting bilateral ties. Hu has just concluded a state visit to India and flew in from Mumbai, its largest city. In Islamabad, Hu is expected to have meetings with Pakistani leaders and exchange views on ways to expand cooperation between the two countries. During the 55 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan, the two countries have, on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, built up an all-weather friendship and conducted all-round cooperation, which have brought tangible benefits to the two peoples and made great contributions to peace, stability and development of the region and the world. Pakistan is the last leg of Hu's four-nation trip, which has already taken him to Vietnam, Laos and India.

China, Bulgaria pledge to further parliamentary exchanges
2006-11-21 Xinhuanet
BEIJING: China's top legislator Wu Bangguo met with visiting Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev on Tuesday, vowing to further parliamentary exchanges between the two countries. "China's National People's Congress (NPC) will enhance cooperation with the Bulgarian parliament to learn from each other on legislation, supervision and governance," said Wu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, China's top legislature. The NPC and Bulgarian parliament have maintained sound cooperation, which substantiates and inserts energy into the contents of bilateral relations, said Wu. China and Bulgaria have treated each other in spirit of mutual understanding and equality, and supported each other on major issues of mutual concerns since the two countries established diplomatic ties, Wu added. Stanishev reiterated China's adherence to one-China policy, pledging to make joint efforts with the Chinese side to lift bilateral ties to a new height. Bulgaria supports exchanges and cooperation between parliaments of the two countries, Stanishev said.

FM spokeswoman: China welcomes Nepal's peace accord
2006-11-23 People's Daily Online
China welcomes a peace agreement signed between the Nepal government and the parties concerned, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Wednesday. "China welcomes the parties concerned in Nepal signing the comprehensive peace accord (CPA)," Jiang said. She also expressed the hope that the parties would continue to promote the peace process and promote regional peace, stability and development, as well as their people's well-being. The Nepalese government and the CPN signed the accord Tuesday declaring the end of an 11-year civil war. Nepali Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala Wednesday reaffirmed Nepal's stance that Taiwan and Tibet are inalienable parts of China, and Nepal will never allow external forces to engage in anti-China activities on Nepal's territory. Koirala made the remarks while meeting here with a visiting Chinese delegation headed by Liu Hongcai, deputy head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. The Chinese delegation was invited by Vice Chairman of the Nepali Congress party Shushil Koirala on behalf of Nepal's ruling Seven Party Alliance. Koirala said China has long been providing aid to Nepal's development and positively contributed to Nepal's peace progress, expressing hope that the Nepal-China friendship will be passed on to the younger generations by stepping up their exchanges. The prime minister noted that the Nepali Congress party attaches importance to the relationship with CPC, and the party was in favor of learning CPC's experience in governing a country, especially in developing economy. [...]

Charter plane brings home Chinese from riot-hit Tonga
2006-11-23 People's Daily Online
More than 200 Chinese nationals will be airlifted from trouble-torn Tonga on a chartered plane today, sources with the Chinese Embassy in the Pacific island-state said. Hundreds of Chinese made their way to Tonga's neighbouring country Fiji yesterday to board an Air China aircraft sent by Beijing yesterday. The plane is scheduled to arrive in Xiamen, Fujian Province, this afternoon. Riots triggered by a disputed parliamentary reform move broke out in Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa last week, in which eight people were reportedly killed and 80 per cent of the central business district destroyed. About 30 Chinese-run stores were looted or burned down. According to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, about 300 overseas Chinese, mostly the elderly, women and children, had sought refuge at the local embassy after their homes and business were destroyed. Foreign troops fanned out across the riot-scarred capital yesterday, setting up checkpoints and carrying out patrols after initially securing the airport and other strategic assets. The Australian and New Zealand forces were expanding their role at the request of Tongan authorities, whose security forces were overwhelmed by a rampaging mob. The general security situation is "currently very benign," with no major security incidents since the troops and police arrived on Saturday, New Zealand deputy force commander Major Justin de la Haye said. "Though order has been restored in Tonga, some of the Chinese are in a difficult situation and wanted to come home. So a chartered aircraft has been arranged at their request," Jiang said in a statement yesterday. [...] China and Tonga established diplomatic relations in November 1998; and about 500 Chinese live there. This is not the first time that China has activated an emergency mechanism to provided substantive relief to overseas Chinese. The last evacuation took place in April, when more than 300 Chinese were brought home from riot-torn Solomon Islands.


Domestic Policy

US$900m misused from pension fund
2006-11-24 China Daily
An audit report published Thursday found that about 7.1 billion yuan (US$900 million) of the country's 2 trillion yuan (US$253 billion) social security fund had been misappropriated. According to the National Audit Office, the funds were siphoned off for "overseas investment, commercial loans to companies, construction of government buildings and other purposes." Of the total, 2.3 billion yuan (US$291 million) was stolen before 1999 and 4.8 billion yuan (US$607 million) after that, said the report. "The social security funds, except for sums paid to beneficiaries, must be deposited in banks or used to purchase State treasury bonds," said the report. The agency's investigation, which started in September, audited pension, unemployment and health insurance funds in provinces across the country, and discovered corruption and irregular management. At a health insurance fund management centre in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the director and the finance chief transferred 31.9 million yuan (US$4 million) of medical insurance premiums to bank accounts of friends and relatives. China provided pensions to 43.67 million retirees last year and granted living subsidies to 3.62 million laid-off people.

130 officials caught in election scandals
2006-11-21 Xinhuanet
Beijing -- More than 130 local officials have been charged with vote-buying, embezzlement and other election fraud as millions of Chinese voters elect tens of thousands of officials and representatives this year and next. The Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a press release on Tuesday that it is investigating 70 cases involving election irregularities. Under China's electoral process, elections for Party officials to Party posts and representatives to non-Party legislative bodies are being held concurrently this year and next. Seventy million Party members will vote to elect 100,000 Party officials and millions more registered voters will elect representatives to local and regional people's congresses and consultative assemblies. Inspections teams have been sent across the country to supervise local elections. Several provinces have also open telephone hotlines and websites to invite the public to report corruption and malpractice. "In general, elections at the municipal, county and township levels are going on well," the Party press release said. Still several election scandals have already been exposed. Earlier this year, Lu Chengli, former deputy head of the town of Tangzhui in Wuchuan city, of south China's Guangdong Province, was removed from his post and expelled from Party after he rigged his election as deputy town head in April. He gave favors to 12 delegates who nominated him and paid 55 delegates to the township people's congress 1,000 yuan each in return for their votes. The CPC brought some of the scandals to light earlier this year hoping to deter similar corrupt practices in the upcoming elections. Most of the violators were expelled from the Party.

Local Party committees downsized after elections
20006-11-19 Xinhuanet
Beijing -- The local committees of the Communist Party of China (CPC) have been downsized in the ongoing elections, respondence to a call by the CPC Central Committee for optimized local Party leadership. The number of party leader posts, deputy party chiefs in local CPC committees has been reduced, according to the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee. The department, together with the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC, started in August an inspection on local party committee elections. The inspection found that the elections being held to select new committees at municipal, county and township levels are going well in pushing the personnel reform, promoting democracy within the CPC, and tightening the organization disciplines. In Hebei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Liaoning, the numbers of the members of the standing committees of local Party committees have been reduced over 30 on the municipal level, over 200 on the county level and over 5,000 on the township level, the department said. In Qinghai Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, 14 deputy secretaries on municipal level, 50 on county level and 124 on township level were cut down in the new local CPC committees. Meanwhile, more young, female and ethnic cadres have also been elected during the local Party elections. The average ages of new local CPC committees are much younger than the previous ones, the department said. He Guoqiang, head of the Organization Department, said earlier that public opinion would be a major criterion for selecting new CPC cadres while nearly 100,000 officials of the CPC committees at provincial, municipal, county and township levels are running for re-elections in 2006-2007 period.

Developers face double fees to save farmland
2006-11-21 SCMP
To slow the encroachment of property development on farmland, the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources has confirmed media reports that from next year it will double land-use fees for new constructions nationwide. In a joint notice issued yesterday, the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, the People's Bank of China, and the Ministry of Finance said raising the "land-use fee upon consideration of new construction" by 100 per cent was also intended to cool fixed-asset investment. "The adjustment is intended to further conserve farmland and promote conservative land use," they said in a joint press release carried on the Ministry of Finance website. "It is also intended to better control land management and adjust the overly rapid growth of fixed-asset investment." The conversion of rural land, often illegally, for non-agricultural use, such as residential and industrial development, has been a major source of tension on the mainland, with about 40 million farmers losing their land in the past 10 years. Estimates suggested another 15 million farmers were at risk of losing their land by 2010 if land conversion was not slowed. The doubling of land-use fees for new construction had previously been reported by the mainland media, but the Ministry of Finance yesterday said authorities would also impose the new charges on existing developments built on illegally obtained land. According to a pricing schedule carried by the website, the new fee for Shanghai's Huangpu district, which is classified as a "first-class" area, would be doubled to 140 yuan per square metre, while that for Beijing's Chaoyang district, which is classified as "second class", would be doubled to 120 yuan per square metre. Thirty per cent of the fees would still be transferred to the central government, while the remaining 70 per cent would go to treasuries maintained by provincial governments.

Beijing pulls out all stops for tight security at Games
2006-11-21 China Daily
Beijing faces no imminent threat of international terrorism or mass protests but will use abundant caution and seek international support to ensure a safe Olympic Games with the aid of 10,000 trained personnel. Liu Shaowu, head of the Security Department of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), said yesterday that although the city has no record of major terror activities, such attacks could not be ruled out two years hence when more than 2 million foreign athletes, officials and visitors pour into Beijing for the Games. "We cannot exclude the possibility that these people could become the object of terrorists," Liu told an international seminar on counter-terrorism and international security co-operation during major sporting events, which opened yesterday in Beijing. Organized by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security, the three-day seminar is being attended by security experts from China and seven other countries including Britain, the United States, and Israel. Liu, also deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security, said: "We have worked out plans for any emergency, and fine-tuned the performance of our security staff during several big events." They included the IAAF World Junior Championships, the ISF Women's Softball World Championships, and the recently-concluded Forum on China-Africa Co-operation. The city will train at least 10,000 people, including police, security guards and volunteers, to guarantee security of the Games, according to sources at the municipal public security bureau. About 20 government agencies are involved in the Beijing Olympic security plan, including the municipal public security and firefighting bureaus, the Ministry of National Security, and the Headquarters of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Beijing police have set up a collaboration mechanism with nearly 20 foreign countries, such as neighbouring and former Games host nations. [...]

Penalties prescribed for safety violations
2006-11-23 China Daily
Officials and employees held responsible for safety violations will get their just deserts after the country Wednesday promulgated its first regulation detailing punishment to match their offences. The regulation jointly issued by the Ministry of Supervision and the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) specifies the misdeeds and the corresponding disciplinary and administrative penalties. Particularly targeted are those whose corrupt deeds lead to loss of life or limb in workplace accidents, Li Yizhong, head of SAWS, said. Corruption is seen as a major contributing factor to the rising number of accidents. In October, there was a 26.1-per cent rise in coal mine accidents and a 44.4-per cent rise in related deaths compared with the previous month. A spate of serious colliery accidents have shocked the country this month, notably a gas explosion in a Shanxi coal mine that killed 47 miners. Government officials and employees of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) who are found culpable will be given a warning or a written censure, demoted or dismissed. Serious cases will be referred to prosecutors. The regulation, which goes into effect immediately, specifies 25 misdeeds by public servants and 18 by SOE employees that invite punishment. Among them are failing or refusing to implement national safety policies or laws; granting approval to operators who have not taken requisite safety measures; and hiding, lying about or delaying reports of accidents. The regulation will also serve as reference when considering punishment for non-government employees who violate safety laws. Li stressed that corruption, such as collusion of officials and businessmen, is a "shocking" phenomenon behind many accidents. Chen Changzhi, vice-minister of the Ministry of Supervision, said that five of the 11 serious workplace accidents investigated last year involved corruption. He cited two accidents as examples: One, a gas explosion in a coal mine in Wayaobao, Yan'an, Shaanxi Province on April 29 last year that killed 32 miners; and the other, water flooding in a coal mine in Zuoyun, Datong, Shanxi Province, in which 56 workers drowned. "Some local government officials ignore people's lives," Chen said. Chen added that thorough inspections would be conducted in tandem with the implementation of the new regulation. [...] SAWS figures show that this year 625 people lost their lives in 33 coal mine accidents by November 19.

China to increase education spending: Premier Wen
2006-11-22 People's Daily Online
The Chinese government will raise the proportion of annual government expenditure on education to 4 percent of the country's GDP, Premier Wen Jiabao has announced. He said government would help further spread and consolidate compulsory education, speed up occupational education, improve education at higher institutes and deepen education reforms. From July to November, Wen presided over four forums on education development with teachers, educational experts, middle school masters, university presidents and officials. "China's economy has maintained high-speed growth for 28 consecutive years and become the fourth largest economy of the world. The country's sustainable development and prosperity hinge on education," Wen said. The government always paid great attention to education. Compulsory education has been launched in rural areas and universities and colleges had enrolled a larger number of students. "The public education demand has been satisfied to some extent. "But we should realize that some problems still exist in education development. We shall promote sustainable and healthy educational development by increasing investment, deepening reform and strengthening management," Wen said. He said the nine-year compulsory education, which was important for promoting social equity and building a harmonious socialist society, should be vigorously extended. Schools should reduce student assignments and encourage them to attend more extracurricular activities, so that they will have time to learn more about society and enhance their sense of social responsibility, he said. Wen said more efforts should be put into developing occupational education, as it would help alleviate the shortage of skilled workers and help more migrant workers and urban unemployed obtain jobs. Educational reform should be deepened in universities and colleges so as to train more university graduates to think of innovation. "China needs high-quality teachers. The government will intensify support for education so as to attract the best people into teaching," he said. He ordered local governments to raise salaries and benefits for teachers in rural areas.

City water shortage top problem
2006-11-24 China Daily
Water shortage has become the top problem facing China's rapid urbanization, as about two thirds of its 661 cities face this problem, China News Agency quoted a source from the Ministry of Water Resources as saying. Among more than 400 cities with water shortage problems, about 100 are in serious trouble, lacking enough water to support people's lives and industrial operations. Worse, water pollution has made clean water more rare. More than 70 billion tons of wastewater were released last year, with about 45 billion tons pumped into lakes and rivers without any treatment. Ministry figures show that 90 per cent of surface runoff in the country is polluted. The ministry issued a regulation recently that called for strengthening of the work of urban water affairs to meet the increasing demands of speedy urban development, according to China News Agency. It is said that the work should focus on controlling excessive urban development and avoiding high water-consumption industries and large-scale artificial water landscapes. Groundwater needs to be exploited in a sustainable way, according to the regulation. Pre-warning and emergency system for urban water crisis is demanded by the regulation. Ministry figures showed that among some 600 cities at risk from floods, only 40 per cent have flood defences that meet national standard. The ministry, in the regulation, has resorted to market-driven water pricing to cure its water shortage headache. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released a new regulation on the supervision of water pricing on November 13 to clarify what can and cannot be included in the cost of water supply . The NDRC regulation suggested that the price of water should be based on the cost of water supply, which comprises the costs of tapping water resources, providing running water, constructing pipes and treating sewage.

China's "Go West" policy has mixed result
2006-11-24 China Daily
Chongqing -- If you build it, they will come -- except perhaps to China's vast, untapped western frontier. Nearly seven years after Beijing launched its "Go West" campaign to lift incomes, ease social tension and bring prosperity to an impoverished region, foreign firms have saddled up mostly only for minor investments, while domestic firms feel left in the dust. Multinationals from Microsoft Corp. to Nokia, Motorola and Siemens have set up research centers in big cities. But the list of players that have invested the big sums that Beijing hoped for remains small and stagnant. BNP Paribas's chief China economist, Chen Xingdong, summed things up with a Chinese proverb: "The government thought once the phoenix tree was planted, the phoenix would come. But it didn't." The much-touted campaign, kicked off at the turn of the century, aimed to revive the fortunes of the country's 12 poorest provinces or regions, which are home to a quarter of China's people but account for just 15 percent of gross domestic product. Beijing had hoped to narrow income disparities with the thriving east. Some manufacturers have answered the call, seeking relief from rising labor and living costs along an increasingly affluent eastern seaboard, while retailers battling for consumers' dollars have discovered unsated pockets of demand. So the likes of Intel Corp. and Ford Motor Co. have set up plants in the two biggest cities -- Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, and Chongqing. Carrefour S.A. and IKEA have set up shop and plan more outlets. Chongqing, a city of 30 million, boasts investment from more than 30 of the top 500 corporations in the world. "Multinationals move westwards, building research and development centers in cities like Chengdu, because of low-cost but well-educated talent," said William Kusters, chief of the China Mission of the Asian Development Assistance Board.

Beijing court rejects Ching Cheong's appeal
2006-11-24 SCMP
The Beijing Higher People's Court on Friday rejected Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong's appeal against his five-year jail sentence imposed after he was found guilty of spying for Taiwan. The court maintained that the five-year sentence on the former chief China correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times was "accurate in application of the law and an appropriate punishment". A judge of the Higher People's Court was quoted by Xinhua as saying the court had "fully guaranteed Ching's right of appeal". Ching's family were allowed to witness Friday's verdict being delivered. They said they were "shocked" and disappointed with the mainland's legal system. "We feel very sad and shocked. The judge completely agreed with the lower court and rejected our grounds for appeal. We think it's very unfair," Ching's elder brother, Ching Hai, said. "This incident casts doubt on our country's law, legal justice and transparency [of the system]," he added. In a written statement by Ching, made public by his family after the verdict was announced, the veteran journalist maintained his innocence. He said he had never spied for Taiwan. Ching also urged China's judiciary to take into account that Hong Kong did not have an anti-subversion law, and to reconsider the verdict. His lawyer, He Peihua, said he was disappointed that he had failed to quash his client's conviction. But Mr. He said he respected the ruling by the Higher People's Court. Ching's supporters in Hong Kong and his wife, Mary Lau Man-yee, said they would hold a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club on Friday afternoon. In August the Beijing Intermediate People's Court found Ching was guilty of selling unspecified "state secrets and intelligence" to a Taiwanese foundation, which mainland investigators said was a front for espionage activities. The Foundation on International and Cross-strait Studies in Taiwan, previously known as the Chinese EuroAsia Foundation, has denied commissioning Ching to work on any reports or projects related to the mainland. They have also denied paying him to gather intelligence. In response to the verdict, the Hong Kong government said it was very concerned and would maintain contact with Ching's family. But the government also said it could not comment on the verdict under the "one country, two systems" principle.

Police drag protesters from rights exhibition
2006-11-24 SCMP
It was billed as a landmark event to showcase the central government's "efforts and determination" to protect people's rights, but yesterday four people were arrested for protesting outside the country's first human rights exhibition in Beijing. "China has no human rights," one man shouted as he was led away by a plain-clothes officer and bundled roughly onto an empty bus waiting on the pavement outside the museum. Three other people, one a woman of more than 50, were also forced onto the bus, which remained stationary to accommodate further involuntary passengers. Fifty metres along the pavement, an empty bus appeared to provide back-up. A uniformed policeman explained that the most vocal petitioner was from Shandong province and was protesting against seizure of his land by local officials. "But there are official channels he can go through in Beijing for those kinds of complaints. He is just using this exhibition as an excuse," the policeman said. Organisers said the aim of the 10-day exhibition was to "enable people to get a clearer picture of human rights conditions in China", according to Xinhua. But security arrangements outside the exhibition were hardly conducive to public participation. More than 20 plain-clothes personnel milled around the entrance gate, which was flanked by two teams of security guards. Some residents were reported to have been refused admission and foreigners were asked if they were journalists. Inside, a handful of visitors wandered through three cavernous halls of photographs on how the rights of ethnic minority groups, the disabled and migrant workers were being protected. Local government corruption and land seizures were not mentioned, and the only reference to the Cultural Revolution was that it was a "serious mistake and a setback". The exhibition is viewed as a response to international pressure to improve its human rights record.

Forum: Respect key to human rights
2006-11-23 People's Daily Online
Respect and mutual understanding are key factors needed to improve the human rights of people across the world, according to officials and experts attending an international symposium on human rights that started in Beijing yesterday. "We should respect each nation's right to choose its own social system and way of development independently, respect diversity of the world and world civilizations, so as to build a harmonious world accommodating all kinds of civilizations and honouring everyone's human rights," said Jiang Zhenghua, vice-chairman of Standing Committee of National People's Congress. He was addressing officials and academics from home and abroad at the International Symposium on Respecting and Promoting Human Rights and Constructing a Harmonious World, sponsored by the China Society for Human Rights Studies. "With their varying social systems, levels of development and historical and cultural backgrounds, different nations certainly have different modes of human rights development," said Cai Wu, Director of Information Office of the State Council. "We should respect such diversity of civilizations and development modes, promote international exchanges and co-operation in the field of human rights on a fully equal footing and on the basis of mutual respect," Cai stressed.

HIV cases in China up by 30%
2006-11-22 China Daily
The reported number of HIV/AIDS cases in China has grown by nearly 30 per cent this year compared with last year, according to figures released yesterday by the Ministry of Health. Health officials attributed many of the new cases to better reporting of existing cases, though they also warned that the virus seemed to be spreading from high-risk groups to the general public. The reported number of cases has grown to 183,733 this year, up from 144,089 at the end of last year, according to statistics announced by the Ministry of Health yesterday. Of the reported cases, 40,667 have developed into AIDS, statistics showed. Experts from the United Nations and the Ministry of Health estimate that some 650,000 people in China carried HIV at the end of December 2005, suggesting that many people were unaware that they carry the virus. As of October 31, 12,464 people have died in China as a result of illnesses associated with the HIV virus, Hao Yang, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's Disease Control Bureau, said yesterday. [...] Drug abuse accounted for 37 per cent of the cases reported in the first 10 months of the year, while unsafe sexual contact had caused 28 per cent, Hao noted, adding that these two activities had caused most of the infections. Before 2002, only 10 per cent of all infections were caused by sexual contact. Ministry officials who have been observing monitoring sites around the country have found that the percentage of sex workers infected by HIV/AIDS had grown to 1 per cent last year, compared with only 0.02 per cent in 1996. HIV testing has found that the infection rate among pregnant women in provinces that are experiencing serious epidemics, such as Southwest China's Yunnan Province, is about 1 per cent. Such statistics are the clearest evidence that the virus is spreading from high-risk groups to the general public as a result of unsafe sexual contact and drug abuse. Hao said these two causes posed a great danger because effective measures to dissuade unsafe behaviour are not yet in place. [...] Government officials have launched a concerted effort to prevent and control HIV/AIDS in recent years. It has greatly enhanced HIV testing and monitoring among both high-risk groups and the general public, which has helped public health workers identify more cases. [...] Among the total reported cases this year, 5.1 per cent were caused by people selling blood illegally or receiving infected blood from hospitals. [...]



Regret voiced over Mori's Taiwan visit
2006-11-24 China Daily
China expressed strong dissatisfaction and regret over former Japanese prime minister Yoshi Mori's visit to Taiwan, urging Tokyo to keep its commitments on the the Taiwan question. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu lodged the protest at Thursday's regular press briefing over Mori's visit and his meeting with Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian. Chen on Wednesday conferred a special medal on Mori, who arrived in Taipei for a three-day visit on Tuesday. "The Japanese Government allowed its former prime minister to go to Taiwan and meet Chen Shui-bian, a move that has ignored China's solemn concerns. We feel strong dissatisfaction and regret about this," Jiang said. She said the Taiwan question is related to China's core interests and the basis of Sino-Japanese political relations. The spokeswoman demanded the Japanese Government take effective measures to handle Japan-Taiwan relations in a proper way. "In particular there should not be any political contact with secessionist forces," she said. Mori, 69, served as Japan's prime minister for about a year from April 2000. Despite a fierce protest from China, his administration granted a visa to Taiwan's former leader Lee Teng-hui to visit Japan. In response to reports that US envoy Christopher Hill will travel to China next week for consultations focused on resuming the Six-Party Talks over Pyongyang's nuclear issue, Jiang said she is not able to confirm the news. Hill, assistant US secretary of state, returned from Beijing to Washington on Tuesday and reportedly was scheduled to depart again for the Chinese capital on Sunday after briefing US administration officials. Jiang repeated China's stance on the nuclear talks, urging all parties to work together to push forward nuclear talks. She would not give a possible date of the resumption of talks despite Hill earlier expressing optimism that the talks could resume in mid-December. In another development, sources with the Chinese embassy in the Democratic Republic of Congo said Chinese nationals are safe despite unrest on Tuesday that pitted riot police and United Nations peacekeepers against supporters of Jean-Pierre Bemba, who lost the presidential poll last month. The sources said the local embassy has activated emergency mechanisms and offered safety guidance to Chinese enterprises and compatriots. No losses have been reported so far. The normal lives of the more than 800 Chinese living in Kinshasa have not been interrupted by the riot, the sources said.

3rd motion to depose Taiwan leader enters legislature
2006-11-22 Xinhuanet
Beijing -- Taiwan's legislature on Wednesday began a resumed deliberation on a recall motion, the third in recent months, to oust the island's leader Chen Shui-bian. The motion, launched by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and People First Party, will undergo three rounds of review in the "Legislative Yuan" for two days before it is ready for a vote on Friday. According to Taiwan media, Chen Shui-bian did not submit letters of response to the legislature on the first day of review. The leadership of Chen's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has previously asked its lawmakers to boycott the motion, which analysts say, could cause the legislature to drop the motion, the very reason two previous bids failed in June and October. According to Taiwan regulations, Chen can only be ousted if two thirds of the 220-seat legislature -- 148 votes -- approve the motion. The ruling DPP party, however, holds 84 seats. The latest move to oust Chen is led by opposition parties angry about the indictment of Wu Shu-chen, Chen's wife, for alleged involvement in embezzlement and corruption. The charges involve 14.8 million New Taiwan dollars (448,500 U.S. dollars). Prosecutors said they had evidence of Chen's involvement but, as leader of the island, he has immunity to prosecution.



APEC should give fuller scope to its role
2006-11-20 People's Daily Online
The just concluded 14th Economic leaders' Informal Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Hanoi has achieved its anticipated results. Chinese President Hu Jintao said in his speech at the meeting that, the 21-member APEC should, with the focus of its emphasis on economic cooperation, play a bigger role in three areas, namely, supporting the development of the multilateral trading system, striving to meet the Bogor Goals, and exerting itself to enhance economic and technical cooperation. The process of APEC trade and investment liberalization is inseparable from the world trade environment. At present, the global multilateral trading system has encountered an unprecedented dilemma and the Doha round of negotiations for the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been suspended indefinitely. The present deadlock is unfavorable for any country, and the restarting of trade talks brooks no delay. The voice of APEC, the most influential regional trade organization, carries weight. Any significant step of the Doha talks from the very beginning cannot do without the timely support of APEC. At the recent Economic Leaders' Informal Meeting, leaders of some countries promised to reduce subsidies to agriculture products and industrial goods tariffs and influence other members of the WTO with their collective actions, apart from the appeals to resume speedily the Doha negotiations and promptly end them. Obviously, APEC has a great role to play with bright prospects in supporting the growth of the multilateral trading system. On the other hand, APEC and WTO complement each other, and the potential success of the Doha negotiations will facilitate meeting the Bogor Goals for APEC. [...] In recent years, nevertheless, APEC has had fewer cooperative projects with less satisfaction reported in the field of its economic and technological cooperation. If this situation goes on unchecked, the APEC members' enthusiasm will be weakened and the future of APEC negatively affected. On the other hand, APEC should have a clearer aim and its members are more pragmatic and increasingly more capable to resist to challenges of all sorts and respond to some new problems emerging over recent years in areas of financial security, energy security and public health security.

Top legislator urges Henan to speed up economic reform
2006-11-20 Xinhuanet
Zhengzhou -- China's top legislator Wu Bangguo has asked officials in central China's Henan Province to speed up economic reform of the landlocked region. Wu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said that Henan, with its abundant resources, had huge potential for growth, and local officials must lead Henan people to achieve greater progress in development. "Development is a priority for building a harmonious society," Wu said, noting that economic development is vitally important for landlocked provinces in central and western China. In his tour which lasted from Nov. 14 to 18, Wu visited a tractor factory, a heavy machinery company, a food firm, a home appliance producer, a coal mine and a bus manufacturer. Wu stressed the importance of scientific innovation and energy conservation for the development, and urged officials to speed up industrial restructuring. He has set a goal for Henan to be an "economically and culturally robust province" in the near future.

The impact of RMB appreciation
2006-11-22 People's Daily Online
As the comprehensive strength of the national economy grows, the Chinese currency, the Renminbi (RMB) began to appreciate. Effects of the RMB's appreciation since July have been felt both domestically and abroad, and will become even more significant with time. China should embrace the new opportunities that appreciation has opened-up and allow more room for the national economy to grow in the process of globalization. People need to be aware that the appreciation of the RMB may have some less desirable effects on economic growth in the short term. Currently, China's export market still relies heavily on cheap labor to compete in the international market. As its added value is low, the appreciation of the RMB will affect China's export and consequently the overall growth rate of the national economy. However, there are also many positive aspects to the appreciation of the RMB. In the long run, RMB appreciation will generate more development opportunities. People will feel richer, it will improve China's status and influence in the world economy and it will change the commodity structure and the flow of investment. It will also have a significant influence on the structure of domestic production resources. First of all, it will accelerate industrial upgrading. In a market economy, the fluctuation of the foreign exchange rate involves the international balance of incomes and expenses and is an important price indicator. The appreciation of the RMB means that the price of various domestic resources, especially land and labor, will go up in relative terms and this will speed up necessary adjustments to the commodity mix and domestic industry. RMB appreciation will gradually change the value of the international and domestic markets. Domestic enterprises will rely more on sales to the domestic market so that national economic growth is less dependent on export demand and a more reasonable industrial structure will form. Secondly, it will promote technical innovation. In many countries, technical innovation relies primarily on a market mechanism which makes good use of price as a lever. China's production process is enormously costly in terms of resources and energy, and labor is too cheap. The appreciation of the RMB will cause an increase in the domestic prices of such things as land and labor as well stimulate the demand for innovation. Products for export must rely on technological innovation to be more competitive internationally. In the domestic market, enterprises are also forced to compete through technological innovation. Simply speaking, the appreciation of the RMB will cause the formation of a market environment that is conducive to speeding up technological innovation. Thirdly, the appreciation of the RMB will benefit the people. On the one hand, it will make imported products relatively cheaper. It will also be cheaper for Chinese to travel abroad. [...]

Pollution increases in first half
2006-11-22 China Daily
The relentless effort to increase the country's gross domestic product (GDP) led to an increase in the discharge of major pollutants in the first half of this year, according to the country's leading environmental watchdog. The State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) announced the findings in a summary of its evaluation of the country's overall environment, which the organization posted on its website. The summary covers activity in the first half and third quarter. The quality of the country's overall environment remained unchanged or deteriorated in some areas, the report said. As the country notched up a GDP growth rate of 10.9 per cent in the first half of the year, it also generated larger volumes major pollutants, the release showed. For example, China produced more than 12 billion tons of industrial waste-water in the first half, up 2.4 per cent from the same period last year. The chemical oxygen demand (COD), a major index of water pollution, increased by 3.7 per cent, while emissions of sulphur dioxide increased by 4.2 per cent in the first half. Acid rain, which already affects almost one third of the nation's territory, remained unchecked. The report singled out East China's Zhejiang Province, where nearly all rain in the cities monitored for pollution was acidic. The report attributed the increasing volume of pollution to the country's industrial structure. It said that food-processing, paper-making and chemical plants accounted for more than 80 per cent of the increase in COD. The report also attacked some local governments, saying that only 30 per cent to 40 per cent of public projects had undergone environmental evaluations before receiving approval. The release's findings bode ill for the country's goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 per cent, and the discharge of key pollutants by 10 per cent within the time frame of the 11th five-year plan (2006-10). The country has already failed to reach some of the major environmental objectives contained the 10th plan (2001-05). In September, the SEPA announced that pollution had inflicted economic losses of 511.8 billion yuan (US$ 64 billion) on the country in 2004, representing about 3 per cent of the GDP that year. [...]

Smoking costs China 250b yuan last year
2006-11-19 China Daily
Beijing -- China incurred a loss of 250 billion yuan (US$32.5 billion) from smoking last year, said a report issued by the China Center for Economic Research with the Beijing University. The cost exceeded the pre-tax profits of the country's tobacco industry, which totaled 240 billion yuan last year as the largest source of China's tax revenues, according to statistics on the website of the State Tobaccao Monopoly Administration. Of the total cost, 166.56 billion yuan was paid for medical treatment to 23 major diseases caused by smoking, which was calculated according to a national smoking rate of 35.8 percent found by the China National Nutrition and Health Survey. At least another 86.11 billion yuan of losses were caused by delay of work, passive smoking, fires, environmental pollution and shortened life span, as the report shows. The government should increase the tax rate for tobacco enterprises and raise cigarette prices to reduce low-income smokers, said Lin Daqing, a professor with the University of Hong Kong. China will consume 4.5 billion fewer packs of cigarettes each year if it makes the price of each pack 0.4 yuan higher, claimed Fred Cox, a senior director with the US-based Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company. [...] Official data show that China has a 55-percent general tax rate on its tobacco industry, while the rate reaches 60 to 80 percent in other countries like Japan, Germany, Brazil and Britain. However, some experts say higher prices will make little difference to tobacco addicts and may boost tobacco smuggling, as the tax rate on tobacco industry is much higher than other sectors of China. Price and tax rate hikes are not practical solutions and likely to produce just the opposite effect, said Zhu Xuancai, an expert on smoking control. Cigarette smuggling cost China at least 15 billion yuan in tax revenue losses each year, nearly 10 percent of the total tax revenues from cigarette sales last year, as the 21st Century Business Herald reported. [...] China has more than 350 million smokers, about a third of the world's smoking population. Each year, about 700,000 die from smoking-related diseases. [...]

World nuclear giants bid for contract with China
2006-11-20 Xinhuanet
Beijing -- Global nuclear giant Westinghouse said it is offering an all-round technology transfer in its bid for China's third-generation nuclear power generation units. "We will fully co-operate with our customers to transfer all technology as requested," said Stephen R. Tritch, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Westinghouse Electric Company. The company is using its pressurized water reactor AP1000, which has been approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to tap into the Chinese market. Although the company's bid for China's third-generation nuclear power reactors was delayed partly because it was bought by Toshiba, said Tritch, he expressed confidence in his company's advanced technology and competitive price. Toshiba, Japan's largest maker of nuclear power plant equipment, bought Westinghouse for 5.4 billion U.S dollars to bolster its position in the nuclear power industry. "But Westinghouse will continue to be a U.S.-operated company with the technology in the control of the U.S. Government," said the CEO, a member of the trade delegation to China led by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. If Westinghouse wins the contract, the project will be a first in the Chinese nuclear power sector for the company, which designs half of the world's nuclear reactors. It is currently competing with French nuclear group Areva for the contracts for four third-generation nuclear reactors two in Sanmen, East China's Zhejiang Province, and another two in Yangjiang, South China's Guangdong Province. The two companies submitted their bids last February and are still awaiting the result of the 8 billion dollars deal, which was supposed to be announced last October. [...] Areva Chairwoman Anne Lauvergeon, who accompanied French President Jacques Chirac on his recent visit to China, said Areva would offer China its European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) technology, provided it builds at least one EPR unit. Winning the bid for the four nuclear reactors is considered vital for the two companies, as the Chinese Government said it will adopt a unified, standardized design for the third-generation nuclear reactors across its nuclear industry. The winner will easily gain access to the huge nuclear power investment planned across the nation. China, the world's second-largest energy consumer after the United States, will spend some 400 billion yuan (50.63 billion dollars ) on building new nuclear power plants by 2020. The energy-hungry country intends to increase the amount of installed nuclear power capacity from the current 16 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts or 4 per cent of total installed capacity within 15 years. [...]


North Korea

China, U.S. agree to strive for resumption, progress of six-party talks
2006-11-21 Xinhuanet
Beijing -- Chinese and U.S. negotiators have agreed to work for an early resumption of the six-party talks and to make concerted efforts for progress, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said here Tuesday. Jiang said Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei met on Monday evening with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, making an in-depth exchange of views on issues related to the six-party talks. The two sides agreed to make joint efforts for the resumption and further progress of the talks, Jiang said. Jiang said the exact date of resumption had yet to be decided. "We are still negotiating the date with parties concerned," said the spokeswoman. A spokesperson of the U.S. embassy in Beijing said Hill believed the talks would probably be resumed in mid-December. "I believe we will have six-party talks, probably in the middle of December, but what is important for us is that they be well planned," Hill was quoted as saying. Analysts interpreted Hill's whirlwind trip to Beijing as an "important preparatory" visit for the early resumption of six-party talks, which focused more on the details of the talks, including a specified timetable. The current progress was closely related to a flurry of diplomatic activities, said Ruan Zongze, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies. It also showed that the international community had sensed the urgency of addressing the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue. "On the one hand, parties concerned would like to adopt a more responsible and substantial attitude; on the other hand, they realize that the issue should not dragged out, or it will be trickier to resolve," Ruan said. [...] The six-party talks, involving China, the DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan, are aimed at finding a solution to the Korean peninsula nuclear issue. However, the talks have been stalled since last November as the DPRK refused to return to the talks because of U.S. sanctions against it.The DPRK said on Nov. 1 that it had decided to return to the six-party talks, but did not offer a specific date.



New member for the DP
23 Nov 2006, UB Post
The DP council in parliament has added a new member, becoming 25. MP R. Erdeneburen, who was elected to the Motherland Party, withdrew his membership from the party at his own request and received a membership certificate from the Democratic Party on November 16.

Rail crash kills three
23 Nov 2006, UB Post
At 'Khangai' junction, about 107km away from Ulaanbaatar City and near Bagakhangai District, a freight train collided with a locomotive at 9am on November 20, killing three people. The freight train carrying coal from Choir station to Ulaanbaatar had broken down at 8am and had asked for help. However the locomotive, which was sent to repair the freight train, ran into the back of the stationary freight train causing the collision.

World Bank Overview: Mongolia's Growth Continues
16 Nov 2006, Mongol Messenger
The World Bank has recently published its overview of the Mongolian economy between January and August 2006, as part of its update on countries in East Asia. It starts by noting that Mongolia's high economic growth continues and that in the eight months under review the country's real gross industrial output increased by 32 percent over the corresponding period last year.

The Government of Switzerland has made a decision to provide 11.2 thousand Swiss Francs worth of aid towards necessary rescue equipment for strengthening the capacity of the Mongolian institution responsible for emergencies. The Swiss Ambassador to Mongolia, Mr. D. Martinelli handed over the aid on Wednesday. [...] The Government of Switzerland has stretched out its helping hand to Mongolia many times. Humanitarian aid worth 3.6 million Swiss Francs was given to Mongolia during the 1999-2001 disasters. This assistance helped to restore the livelihoods of 12,800 herding families who lost their livestock during the natural disasters. In the year 2003, humanitarian aid of 1.5 million Swiss Francs and monetary assistance of 240 thousand Francs were given to Mongolia through the channels of development cooperation.

Old Neighbors, New Interests
23 Nov 2006, UB Post
Old relations among the Soviet brotherhood have been left behind. Mongolians now await the outcome of the first meeting with the so-called new Russians of post-Soviet Russia. President Enkhbayar's forthcoming state visit to Moscow would answer many questions. On December 4-9, hot discussions are anticipated to take place in Moscow during the visit. The fact that this is a state visit will ensure hearty words of welcome, and friendly meetings and fraternal ceremonies in front of the cameras, but will those happy smiles survive behind the curtains? We broke the ice with the new Russians in 2000. The visits of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and the Russian Premier, Mikhail Kasyanov, to Mongolia that followed were to warm foreign relations and cooperation with Mongolia. Moments of happy smiles all over the faces and hand shaking ceremonies were left on every photographer's film. These impressions were the initial steps of the cooperation that started with the Declaration of Ulaanbaatar and nice fruitful speeches. In the winter of 2004, warm feelings for President Putin were deepened after Russia forgave 98 percent of Mongolia's debt. The nice and warm words have not stopped until today; we were about to go back to the old phrases of our 20th century-long friendship. However, President Enkhbayar's upcoming visit to Moscow seems to take place in a totally different background. Actually, the Russians, who now want to recall the Christmas gift they presented to Mongolia two years ago, are prepared to tell Mongolia some hard truths about where their interests lie. Many outcomes are expected from this visit, as there are many issues to be raised between the two countries. In a few days a large Mongolian delegation will be ready to accompany the President. An official source reveals that more than ten documents are to be signed with the Russians in Moscow. However, the press offices of the government and the president's office send only brief notices to the media here. The Russian Government is giving much more importance to this meeting of the two Presidents. Russian Ambassador Boris Govorin met with the Prime Minister M. Enkhbold, which was followed by the visit of the Chairman of the Russian Board of the Intergovernmental Commission, Aleksey Gordeyev, to Ulaanbaatar to speed up the preparatory work for the state visit.

What do the Russians want? First of all, we should see if the Russians, who would sit at the opposite side of the negotiation table, are still the old friends we had. A different Russian representation than that of 2000 or even 2004 will be faced during this visit. Our northern neighbor comes on the road of a growing economy and ever-increasing investment. The price of oil, which stayed high for a long period on the world market, made the Russian Federation's reserve funds skyrocket, and this former super power is back in the game. Six years after beginning its long march towards the World Trade Organization, Russia is now close to joining it. Mikhail Fradkov hosted an investor's conference in the Kremlin last October. A large representation of world business leaders listened to opportunities of cooperation from the Russian Premier. The Russian Government not only vowed to support foreign businesses, but it also reaffirmed its support of its national businessmen, who are expanding their business to the territory of former Soviet allies and neighboring countries. The Russian Government puts these interests first when it forgives other countries. Former debt of convertible rubles. The Syrian and Algerian debt freezes had been decided with the goal of settling down Russia.s national businesses. This visit may see the start of a similar investment flow into Mongolia. In other words, our new neighbor would engage in cooperation with Mongolia with totally new principles. Such neighbors, who have money in their pockets and are eager to take advantage of the rapidly growing Chinese market for Mongolian resources, will sit at the opposite side of the table from the Mongolian team. The Russians will undoubtedly have such proposals.

First Steps: It is unnecessary to mention that we have sensed the new Russians. interests moving closer to us this year. The perception of Russians that Mongolians had from Chinggis Khaan Bank, the Erdenet Joint Venture, and railway experts has changed. Tavan Tolgoi.s high-grade coking coal has attracted the interest of the world.s super powers from America to China and Japan. At this intersection of interests, our northern neighbor moved in with its state-owned Zarubejgeolog Company, which has been followed by a joint consortium of private companies waiting for a favorable time to invest in Tavan Tolgoi. They formed a consortium, in which the names of billionaires and of former Ambassador to Mongolia Oleg Mikhailovich Derkovsky, who worked in Mongolia for many years, are heard. The reserves of the mine would definitely make a long-term partnership between the two neighbors feasible. Undoubtedly the Russians will express their private and public interests at the formal and informal meetings at the Kremlin. It became clear that some of the agreements are to be signed by Minister of Industry and Trade in Moscow. It isn't necessary to mention that our new brothers have already settled down in Mongolia. Gromov.s Chinggis Khaan Bank has broadened its activities in Mongolia. A consortium, in which the bank took part, purchased Mongolia's last state- owned bank, Savings Bank. Thus, the new Russians operations will have no difficulties in terms of cash flow.

HotTopic: The preparatory work for the visit, which Aleksey Gordeyev and Boris Govorin demanded that the Government of Mongolia speed up, included some changes in the ownership status of the Erdenet Mongolia-Russian Joint Venture and Ulaanbaatar Railway. A few days ago, a consultation meeting of Erdenet Joint Venture was wrapped up in Moscow with no decisions reached. The Russians demanded an increase in their share of the Erdenet Joint Venture, up to 50 percent from the current 49 percent. Also, Mon Rostsvetmet's future is at the center of our neighbor's interests. Another issue that the Russians wanted to have dealt with prior to the official meeting of Vladimir Putin and N. Enkhbayar is about the administration of Mongolia.s railway. These working proposals must meet Mongolian national interests. Our stance must be clearly defined.


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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