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
  4.2-6.2.2008, No. 203  
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Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy China, Brunei to further promote bilateral ties (People's Daily)
China and Brunei reached a five-point consensus here on Saturday to further boost the overall development of the bilateral ties. The consensus was reached after Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held talks with Brunei Foreign Minister Mohamed Bolkiah. According to the consensus, China and Brunei will maintain exchanges of high-ranking official visits and enhance their traditional friendship. The two countries also agreed to tap the potential to deepen and expand their economic and trade cooperation. Meanwhile, the two countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in the areas such as agriculture, petroleum engineering technology, port development, road and bridge constructions. The two sides also will expand their cooperation in culture, education, tourism, human resources development and further deepen the consultations and cooperation between the foreign ministries of the two countries. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese, Japanese officials meet over food poisoning (Xinhua)
A team of Chinese experts met with their Japanese counterparts over a food poisoning case involving Chinese-made frozen dumplings Sunday afternoon at the Japanese Cabinet Office. During the talks, experts from the two sides conducted a candid exchange of views over the ongoing investigation into the incident and agreed to continue discussions on Monday, the Chinese team told Xinhua. Japanese media said the talks will concentrate on the question of how the pesticide substance called methamidophos got into the food products by a mysteriously huge amount since the Chinese producer, the Tian Yang Food Plant in north China's Hebei Province, never used such material in its factory. The two sides have agreed to refrain from making any subjective conclusion before a thorough and full investigation, Chinese embassy officials said. […] Li Chunfeng, vice director of the Import and Export Food Safety Bureau of the AQSIQ and head of the team, has pledged to have close cooperation with the Japanese side for an objective and fair outcome. […]. ^ top ^

Japan to send mission to China for food poisoning (China Daily)
The Japanese government will send a team of officials and experts to China to investigate a food poisoning case involving Chinese-made frozen dumplings, government officials said Monday. At a news conference, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said the four-member team will be dispatched to conduct on-the-spot inspection of the factory and exchange views with officials of the Chinese government. The mission will depart as soon as possible, Machimura said. The top government spokesman also said that the two sides "are finding out various facts little by little." While suspicious clues such as small holes on some packages remain unexplainable, it's currently still unknown whether the food products were contaminated during the production and transportation process in China. Although at least several hundreds throughout Japan have reported discomfort due allegedly to having related Chinese food in the last several days, the number of people confirmed by the Japanese government as suffering from eating the poisoned dumpling remained at 10. It remains mysterious that how the pesticide substance called methamidophos got into the food products by huge amount since the Chinese producer, the Tian Yang Food Plant in north China's Hebei Province, never used such material in its factory. ^ top ^

China to thoroughly investigate dumpling poisoning case (Xinhua)
China will "make a thorough investigation" into the frozen dumpling poisoning case, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao on Tuesday. "We should know what are the problems and where are the loopholes, and that is the responsible attitude toward the consumers," he said. […] The Japanese media's concern on this issue was understandable, Liu said, stressing that a scientific perspective and staying calm are needed to deal with the issue with a responsible attitude toward the consumers. China attached great importance to this issue, Liu said, adding that the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) sent a special team to make the investigation and publicize the results phase by phase. A Chinese team arrived in Japan on Sunday. A Japanese team was also in Hebei Province to investigate this case. Up to now, no methamidophos was detected in the samples of the Chinese dumplings, Liu said, quoting Hebei provincial bureau of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine sources as saying. ^ top ^

Profit split may solve Sino-Japan gas row (SCMP)
Japan and China are considering splitting the profits from gas fields in disputed waters in the East China Sea, a Japanese daily reported yesterday. The two sides are racing to resolve a row over resources ahead of a visit to Japan by President Hu Jintao in the spring. The Nikkei business daily said the two countries were negotiating a compromise to set aside their long-running dispute over sovereignty in the area and move ahead with joint development, although Japan's top government spokesman disputed the report. […]. ^ top ^

China, Australia hold dialogue (China Daily)
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith started their first round of bilateral strategic dialogue here on Tuesday and reached a broad consensus on various issues. The two ministers agreed that the establishment of such annual strategic dialogue was in line with the needs of the progressive development of the bilateral ties, was following the current trend of peace, development and cooperation in the world, and marked the new stage of bilateral ties. During the dialogue, the two sides reached agreement on five issues concerning the bilateral relations. The first was to strengthen high level exchange and enhance mutual trust in politics; second was to expand mutual interest and deepen bilateral cooperation; the third was to expand peoples' contacts and increase friendly exchange in cultural and educational sectors; the fourth was to strengthen dialogue and communication, care about the sensitive issues of both sides; and the fifth was to strengthen regional cooperation to mutually promote regional peace and stability. The strategic dialogue system between China and Australia was set up by the leaders of both countries in last September when Chinese President Hu Jintao paid an official visit to Australia. The dialogue provides a platform for both countries to strengthen dialogue and communication over bilateral ties as well as important regional and international issues. ^ top ^

Script changes - The mainland's battle to have simplified Chinese characters accepted as the global standard has been bolstered by a UN decision (SCMP)
The United Nations conducts its business in six official languages, including Chinese, and will from this year accept only the simplified form of characters used on mainland China. The UN no longer uses the traditional form it has accepted since 1945. "We are appalled by the abolition of traditional Chinese in UN documents," said an online petition to the UN, signed by more than 400,000 people. "This is an act of annihilation of the culture and history of the Chinese people. Both traditional and simplified Chinese are of extreme significance and should be recognised equally on the international level and by the UN." Such is the depth of the feeling about the fight to establish a global standard of Chinese, which will be one of the most important languages of the 21st century. The UN decision is the latest victory by the mainland in its drive to make the simplified characters it has used since the 1950s the global standard. The majority of foreign universities that teach Chinese use them, as do the more than 90 Confucius Institutes established by Beijing around the world. […]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

County party chief ordered to resign for retaliation (China Daily)
A local party chief in northeast China's Liaoning Province has been ordered to resign for having police subpoena a Beijing-based reporter in retaliation for a story about the local justice system. The Tieling municipal committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) announced the punishment for Xifeng county party chief Zhang Zhiguo in Xifeng on Tuesday. The municipal committee ordered the Xifeng CPC committee and the Xifeng government to make a self-criticism, and also told all the officials in Tieling to draw a lesson from the case. Reporter Zhu Wenna published a story on January 1 this year, in which she claimed that Xifeng officials were not following procedures in a court case against a businesswoman. The report angered Zhang, who in turn dispatched local police to subpoena Zhu in Beijing. The move by the police sparked nationwide protest, forcing Xifeng police to withdraw the investigation against Zhu on January 9. […] Chinese local governments are facing more and more pressure from the public when they make their decisions as the Internet has already become a platform for people to express opinions and press intensify its role of a watchdog. […]. ^ top ^

Activist gets four years' jail for subversion (SCMP)
A court in Hangzhou yesterday sentenced democracy activist Lu Gengsong to four years in prison on subversion charges, his wife and his lawyer said. Lu was convicted of "inciting subversion of state power" by the Intermediate People's Court in Hangzhou. No questions or statements were allowed and Lu was led away immediately after the sentencing, which lasted less than 20 minutes, said his wife, Wang Xue'e. Inciting subversion is a vague charge frequently used to silence whistle-blowers and critics of the Communist Party. Lu's lawyer, Mo Shaoping , said he planned to appeal. Lu's sentencing comes just days after the formal arrest of a well-known dissident, Hu Jia, also on a charge of inciting subversion. Hu, who chronicled the plight of other dissidents through the internet, was taken from his home in December. Both the European Parliament and the US government have called for his release. Ms Wang said only she, their daughter and two friends were allowed to attend the sentencing hearing. She said others present told her they were employees of the public security bureau sent to fill up seats. "The judge began to read the sentence immediately. No questions could be asked and there was no chance for any of us to say anything," Ms Wang said. "I asked the judge if I could meet my husband for a minute but he refused." Another activist, Cheng Fan, said former prisoners and pro-democracy activists told him they had been prevented from attending the sentencing by police who refused to let them leave their homes. The central government has pledged to respect human rights and media freedoms ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said he was not familiar with Lu's case. However, he said the nation had made "resolute commitments for the Olympics". "We should keep in mind that China has its laws and regulations and we should handle the cases according to our law," Mr Liu said. "I don't understand why some people always criticise us in this field." Lu's one-day trial was held two weeks ago. His lawyer said at the time that Lu's indictment cited 19 essays that he had posted on the internet. Ms Wang said at the time that Lu had written about local corruption cases, including allegations of city officials colluding with businesspeople on property development projects. ^ top ^

'Great firewall' may be dropped (SCMP)
Beijing is debating whether to relax control of the internet during the Olympics, allowing access to banned websites such as the BBC, a spokeswoman for the organising committee said yesterday. Plans to tear down the so-called "great firewall" of China were being debated and a decision was expected soon, said Wang Hui, head of media relations for the organising committee. "We are studying this now based on suggestions of some journalists and a study of the experiences of other countries, so during the Olympics there may be some changes," she said. "This is one of the ways the Olympics may promote progress in China." Cyberspace is tightly policed and sites judged subversive are blocked. ^ top ^

Cadre told to step down over arrest order (SCMP)
A county party secretary in Liaoning who sanctioned the cross-border arrest of a reporter in Beijing was ordered to resign yesterday, Xinhua reported. Three policemen from Xifeng county travelled to Beijing to arrest Zhu Wenna for defamation last month after she wrote a story in Legal Man magazine about a land reclamation dispute between a local petrol station owner and Xifeng county party secretary Zhang Zhiguo . She narrowly escaped the police thanks to a warning from her boss. The police returned four days later to apologise and withdrew the arrest order. But a furore had already been ignited on the internet. The Tieling city party committee announced yesterday that Mr Zhang bore "undeniable leadership responsibility" in the attempted arrest, despite his earlier denial that he had ordered it. The committee said that Mr Zhang's complicity in police interference - the charge of defamation requires an official complaint from the defamed - reflected his "weak sense of rule of law". Nevertheless, Mr Zhang may still return to a position of leadership sooner than many people might like to see. National School of Administration professor Wang Yukai said the punishment of being "ordered to resign" ranked below "dismissal" and left a door open for Mr Zhang to assume new positions in future. The editor of Legal Man magazine, Wang Fengbin, who openly criticised the attempted arrest, has reportedly been forced to resign. And the petrol station owner in Xifeng, who circulated phone messages criticising Mr Zhang for reclaiming her site cheaply to clear the way for construction of the country's biggest local goods-trading centre, is still in jail for defamation. ^ top ^


Weather Crisis

Incorrect announcement blamed for stampede death - Rail ministry accused of misleading stranded travellers (SCMP)
Authorities have blamed "excessively optimistic information" provided by the railway ministry for a stampede of stranded passengers at Guangzhou railway station that left at least one person dead. Police confirmed that Li Hongxia, a teenage migrant worker from Hubei employed by a Guangzhou-based watchmaker, died on Saturday after being crushed in crowds outside the station. Her colleague Zeng Xiangyun was slightly injured. In a press release, police said they pulled Li and Mr Zeng from beneath a crowd of passengers fighting to enter the station on Friday night. Mr Zeng woke up soon after being rescued but Li died in hospital the following morning, media reported. Government sources, who asked to remain anonymous, said Li's death was the first fatality among the hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded at the station over the past 10 days. They said the tragedy was partly caused by a news release by the railway ministry last Wednesday. In it, officials said the Beijing-Guangzhou railway service - halted since January 25 - had "mostly returned to normal". "It [the press release] was just an attempt to gain recognition from Premier Wen [Jiabao]," sources said. The transport chaos caused by snowstorms in Hunan had stranded more than 800,000 passengers in Guangzhou by last Tuesday. Provincial leaders had strongly urged passengers, many of them migrant workers going home for the Lunar New Year, to remain in Guangdong. During an inspection of Guangzhou railway station last Wednesday, Mr Wen told those stranded that the government was working hard to "make sure you all can go home and be with your family for the holiday".Following Mr Wen's visit, the railway ministry made the announcement that services had been restored. Sources said the railway ministry's "excessively optimistic information" ignored reports of continued bad weather announced late last week and had encouraged more passengers, maybe millions of them, to rush to the railway station since Thursday morning. A police source said that after finding out that the transport capabilities were insufficient to take them home in "three to five days", as had been reported, "the emotional passengers blamed us for not allowing them get into the railway station and called us cheaters". An employee at the ministry's news office would not comment on the criticisms, saying only that the information about the restoration of rail service they provided was "correct at the time". But a police source said the incorrect information placed "severe pressure" on the police as well as railway station facilities. The source said that at about 3am on Thursday, they were urgently called to duty at the station where the number of passengers attempting to enter had swelled suddenly and without warning. The source added that more accidents might occur in future if different departments could not provide accurate information to the public. ^ top ^

La neige a eu raison du pouvoir central (Courrier International - Nanfang Zhoumo)
Les récentes intempéries ont paralysé une grande partie du pays et bloqué des millions de personnes. Une situation à laquelle les autorités n'ont pas su répondre en raison de leur extrême lourdeur. A l'approche du nouvel an chinois, qui tombe cette année le 7 février, la moitié de la Chine a été balayée par des tempêtes de pluie et de neige d'une ampleur sans précédent. […] Le gouvernement a déjà reconnu que l'ampleur des perturbations affectant les transports rendait la mobilisation et l'organisation des secours encore plus délicate que lors de la grande inondation du Yangtsé, en 1998. […En] 2008, force est de constater qu'une grande partie des organismes censés gérer l'urgence ont été incapables d'affronter les situations les plus élémentaires, alors même que des dizaines d'heures s'étaient déjà écoulées depuis le début des intempéries. Quasiment aucun des services publics de base n'était présent dans les zones les plus touchées. Des centaines de milliers de personnes se sont par exemple retrouvées coincées dans les gares pendant plusieurs jours à Canton et à Shanghai, sans que le gouvernement ne prenne des mesures adéquates pour les assister et organiser leur évacuation. Il s'est simplement contenté d'assurer le maintien de l'ordre [1,3 million de soldats et de policiers ont été mobilisés pour dégager les routes de la neige et maintenir l'ordre]. Où se situe donc le problème ? On prétend que l'un des atouts de la structure du pouvoir actuel en Chine est qu'elle permet de mobiliser très rapidement les ressources nécessaires pour répondre aux situations d'urgence. Or les gouvernements locaux ont fait preuve, dans la gestion de la crise, d'une lenteur criante et d'une organisation indigente. Le nœud du problème réside, en réalité, dans le fait que le pouvoir exécutif s'appuie beaucoup trop sur un ordre hiérarchique très rigide. La formidable puissance de mobilisation des administrations locales se retrouve systématiquement bridée car elles n'agissent que sur l'ordre impérieux de leur administration de tutelle. Sans instructions venues d'en haut, il leur est impossible d'affronter sérieusement une situation de crise. Inversement, ce n'est que lorsqu'une catastrophe est relativement grave et sérieuse que les autorités supérieures sont pleinement informées de la situation et que l'ensemble de l'appareil exécutif peut enfin se mettre en action. Outre l'absence préjudiciable d'un véritable service au public de la part du gouvernement, l'autre caractéristique marquante de ces intempéries aura assurément été la quasi inexistence de formes d'entraide et d'assistance non institutionnelles, qu'elles soient associatives ou populaires. […] globalement, on n'a pas vu ni rapporté de situations où des gens ordinaires s'organisaient pour prêter assistance à leurs concitoyens en détresse. N'importe quel individu témoin de la peine et du calvaire enduré par ces pauvres gens aura, c'est certain, été pris d'un élan de compassion, et aura été animé par l'intention de leur prêter assistance. Mais toutes les compassions individuelles dispersées n'ont jamais pu se structurer pour devenir une force d'assistance concrète et efficace. L'absence de structures d'entraide et d'intentions philanthropiques s'explique principalement par le contrôle trop rigoureux de la part du pouvoir exécutif. Actuellement, une organisation créée de manière spontanée par des gens ordinaires, œuvrant dans l'intérêt général et animée d'intentions philanthropiques n'a que très peu d'espace pour se développer et exister. Cette absence se ressent en cas de crise sérieuse. Lorsqu'on se retrouve confrontés à une situation de ce type, des entités, en général des médias, animées des intentions les plus nobles, lancent et organisent souvent des formes de soutien, d'assistance, ou des collectes de dons. Mais tout cela n'est que temporaire et relève de l'amateurisme, car il leur manque les compétences techniques indispensables à ces activités. Sans expérience, elles peuvent facilement inspirer la méfiance, et leur efficacité réelle reste en fin de compte extrêmement limitée. […] Une fois ce désastre passé, il faudra, c'est certain, que le gouvernement et que la société tout entière se penchent sérieusement sur le sujet. Sans cet examen de conscience, en cas de nouvelle catastrophe, on peut craindre que nos concitoyens doivent encore endurer des souffrances qu'il aurait été possible d'éviter. ^ top ^

US first to offer aid (SCMP)
The US appears to be the first foreign government to offer relief aid to the mainland, donating US$150,000 to the Red Cross Society of China, Xinhua reported. US Ambassador to China Clark Randt said the donation would be used to buy blankets, clothing and other necessities for victims in snow-stricken areas. Red Cross Society of China secretary general Wang Haijing said the donation symbolised the deep friendship between the two countries. ^ top ^

Donations pour in (SCMP)
Mainlanders had pledged 480 million yuan in donations to snowstorm victims by Monday, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The ministry has received and distributed 45.81 million yuan. Donations arranged by the Red Cross Society of China had risen to 59.52 million yuan, and those to the China Charity Federation to 42 million yuan, Xinhua said. ^ top ^



Beijingers mastering manners (People's Daily)
Less littering, spitting and queue jumping is making the capital a more pleasant place to live, research has revealed. A report by the Renmin University of China, commissioned by the capital ethic development committee, was released on Friday. Zhang Huiguang, director of the committee - a Beijing government etiquette group tasked with helping prepare the city for the Olympics - said: "The behavior of Beijingers in public places is definitely improving. "This trend is a result of patriotism and widespread participation in preparing for the Olympic Games." […] One of the reasons credited for the changes in attitudes was the use of the stick, as well as the carrot. Last year, the city introduced fines of up to 50 yuan ($7) for anyone caught spitting in the capital. Also, "Queuing Day", which takes place on the 11th of each month, a time when all city residents are encouraged to stand in line rather than push in, has been introduced. As a result, the survey indicated, more residents have been giving up their seats on public transport to the elderly or disabled and there are now far more queues than there are fights to get on buses. Li Wei, 25, who works in marketing and was brought up in the city, said she had noticed the change in people's behavior. "Many of my friends no longer litter and they are also more aware of the need to separate garbage from things that can be recycled. "Bus conductors are also more polite and there is less yelling," she said. "We are Olympic hosts and should give visitors from home and abroad a good impression." Adrien Ryan, an artist from Canada, said less littering and spitting was good but he didn't want to see the government eliminate all of Beijing's old habits. "Part of Beijing's charm is that its people can be blunt, forward and expressive.". ^ top ^



HK, Macao food supply guaranteed for holiday (People's Daily)
The supply of fresh food to Hong Kong from the mainland will be maintained to meet demand during Spring Festival, an official has said. Wan Qingliang, vice-governor of Guangdong province, said: […]
"The increased supply, together with the normal daily supply of live pigs and poultry, will help keep food supplies stable in Hong Kong." Wan said the Ministry of Commerce recently authorized food dealers in the province to diversify channels of fresh meat sourcing. "Guangdong has set up a leaders group to guarantee the food supply to Hong Kong and Macao," Wan said. "Food export firms in the province have also been urged to abide by inspection and quarantine regulations and to make sure food to Hong Kong and Macao is safe, hygienic, and of high quality," he said. York Chow, secretary for food and health in the Hong Kong special administrative region, said the supply of live pigs to Hong Kong averaged 3,900 head per day last month, almost up to the normal daily supply from the mainland. However, Chow said the supply of live cattle was rather unstable due to the snowstorms that have affected transportation in central and southern China. […]. ^ top ^



Jailed minister decides against launching appeal (SCMP)
Fallen former Macau minister Ao Man-long has decided not to appeal against his 27-year jail term and confiscation of about HK$250 million, his lawyer said yesterday. "It is Mr Ao's decision not to appeal or seek a reinterpretation of Macau's Basic Law from Beijing," Nuno Simoes said after meeting Ao yesterday. […]. ^ top ^



Taiwan gets stern warning over UN referendum bid (SCMP)
Beijing has issued a stern warning to Taiwan over President Chen Shui-bian's continuing push for a referendum on UN membership. In its first official reaction to Taiwan's announcement on Friday that it would go ahead with a March 22 vote to decide the island's future, Beijing said Taipei was seeking formal independence. "The Chen Shui-bian authorities will definitely have to pay a heavy price for clinging obstinately to their own course and making reckless moves," a statement by the ruling Communist Party's Taiwan Work Office and the cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office said late on Saturday. […] Analysts believe that the strong wording suggests Beijing might take some action, including a show of military force, in response. "Beijing has sent a clear-cut message to Taiwan, the United States and the world that it takes this issue very, very seriously," Andrew Yang Nien-dzu, of the Taipei-based Chinese Council of Advanced Studies, said. "Beijing is concerned most about this issue, taking it even more seriously than their concern over whether the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party or proreunification Kuomintang would succeed in the upcoming presidential elections." Dr Yang said he believed Beijing might stage military exercises off Taiwan or even launch military operations to take some of Taiwan's small offshore islands in response to the move by Mr Chen. Jin Canrong, associate dean of Renmin University's School of International Relations, agreed with Dr Yang, saying Beijing must have prepared for action because it was rare for the central government to use strong words since ties thawed following a landmark visit by opposition leaders in 2005. Professor Jin said the message was particularly targeted at the US audience as Beijing believed that Washington did not do enough to stop Mr Chen. […] Professor Jin said while Beijing still believed that the Taiwan issue was serious, Washington appeared to believe Mr Chen could not do much to damage stability across the strait after his ruling DPP's serious defeat in recent parliamentary elections. In the statement, Beijing called Mr Chen's move "an important step in moving towards the de jure independence of Taiwan". "Should this scheme succeed, it would certainly cause a serious shock to cross-strait relations and seriously jeopardise peace in the Taiwan Strait area and in the Asia-Pacific region at large," it said. Professor Jin said Beijing was walking a fine line as its threat might also help the pro-independence party, as previous experience suggests. […]. ^ top ^



ICBC gets approval from Chinese regulators for S. Africa acquisition (Xinhua)
The China Banking Regulatory Commission has approved a plan by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) to take a stake in a South African bank, ICBC officials confirmed on Sunday. ICBC, China's biggest lender, announced on Oct. 25, 2007 that it had agreed to acquire a 20-percent stake in South Africa's Standard Bank, the largest commercial bank in Africa, for 5.46 billion U.S. dollars. The deal has already been approved by shareholders of both banks along with regulators in South Africa, including the South African Registrar of Banks and the Johannesburg Securities Exchange. ICBC officials said that examination and approval procedures by the local regulators for overseas branches of Standard Bank were under way. The strategic collaboration, which allowed ICBC to become the top shareholder of the Johannesburg-listed Standard Bank, "is conducive to the further deepening of Sino-Africa economic and trade cooperation," Jiang Jianqing, ICBC's chairman, said upon initial announcement of the deal. "From a strategic perspective, ICBC has been seeking opportunities to expand its international business, in particular in Africa, given strong trade linkages and the close and longstanding friendship between China and South Africa. "As many of our large clients seek investments in Africa, the demand for cross-border financial services is accelerating. Standard Bank, with its market leading position in South Africa and a true-pan-African footprint, represents the best organization with which ICBC can partner," Jiang added. […] Jacko Maree, Standard Bank Group chief executive, said: "A partnership between Standard Bank and ICBC is attractive as each party brings numerous complementary benefits to the relationship. Both banks can benefit through the creation of new revenue streams, access to the new partner's expertise and sharing distinctive local market knowledge and expertise." […] Jiang said: "International business accounts for only three percent of all our business and we hope to increase the proportion to ten percent." […]. ^ top ^

World Bank cuts 2008 China growth forecast to 9.6% (China Daily)
The World Bank cut its forecast for China's 2008 economic growth to 9.6 percent in a report released on Monday, 1.2 percentage points lower than an earlier estimate of 10.8 percent. […] "The slowdown in the global economy should affect China's exports and investment in the tradable sector," David Dollar, Country Director for China, said in a statement. "However, the momentum of domestic demand should remain robust and a modest global slowdown could contribute to the rebalancing of the economy," Dollar said. "If the global slowdown will be more pronounced, China is in a strong macroeconomic position to stimulate demand by easing fiscal policy or credit controls," the bank said in the statement. China needs to introduce macroeconomic policy to address the challenges of inflation and persistent external surpluses, noted the Quarterly. Inflation, which is expected to ease in 2008, is not likely to decline to low levels with the risks, including from international food prices and wage cost pressures, it said. […] "The inflation concerns call for relatively tight monetary policy," said Louis Kuijs, Senior Economist and main author of the Quarterly. The Quarterly, however, noted the Chinese government has limited room for interest rate rises amid concerns over more overseas capital inflows. It added China's monetary policy will continue to rely on credit controls and liquidity management to curb huge global surplus. "Continuing to appreciate the RMB against the US dollar will help dampen inflation pressures and reduce the current account surplus," it said. The bank also suggested the government replace some price controls with direct subsidies to target needy groups, as the detrimental effects the administrative measures generate are likely to outweigh the benefits. ^ top ^

WB names China's Lin as top economist (China Daily)
World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Monday the bank had appointed leading Chinese academic, Justin Yifu Lin, as its chief economist, which would help further strengthen ties with China. Lin is one of China's top economists and heads a think-tank at Peking University and is an adviser to the central government. "Having Justin Lin as someone who is very experienced in the field of rural development will both bring us his expertise but also it will probably strengthen our ability to work with China," Zoellick said at the end of a four-nation tour of Africa that took him to Mauritania, Liberia, Ethiopia and Mozambique. Lin succeeds Frenchman Francois Bourguignon. Since taking the helm of the institution in July last year, Zoellick has gone to lengths to strengthen the bank's ties with China, which is actively sourcing oil and minerals and lending to African countries. Lin, 56, established his career researching the fundamentals of economic development in China, focusing on agricultural economics and the redistribution of wealth. He studied economics in China and later earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago in the United States. He is a founder of the China Center for Economic Research think tank at Peking University. He is also an adviser to the central government on development issues. ^ top ^

World bank move signals new reality, say analysts (SCMP)
The appointment of Chinese national Justin Lin Yifu as the World Bank's chief economist and senior vice-president for development economics is testimony to a rising China, analysts said. His appointment also recognised intellectuals from developing countries and reflects the bank's efforts to improve its relationship with China and other emerging countries, they said. The bank announced the appointment of Professor Lin, founder of the China Centre for Economic Research at Peking University, on Monday. It follows assertions by bank president Robert Zoellick and Beijing in December that they were keen to foster a closer relationship. Peking University spokesman Zhao Weimin said yesterday that the "significant appointment" was recognition of "China's rapid economic development" and "Chinese economists' important contribution to China's growth". "It's not only an honour for Professor Lin but also for Peking University," Mr Zhao said. Professor Lin, 56, a native of Taiwan, is well known on the mainland for his work on fiscal decentralisation, enterprise reform, urban and rural modernisation and agricultural innovation and reform. He has long been a focus of media attention during the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. As a vice-chairman of the conference's committee for economic affairs and vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, he advises the country's top leadership. Partly in response to Professor Lin's suggestion, Beijing announced the "new socialist countryside" policy in 2006, which involves intensive government investment in rural infrastructure. […]. ^ top ^


Beijing Olympics

China says no cover-up in Olympics construction deaths (China Daily)
China's work safety watchdog reaffirmed on Saturday that there was no cover-up in the deaths of workers in the Olympic construction projects, thus dismissing foreign media reports on the hidden figure by the authority. The State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) said six construction workers died while building venues for the Games, Huang Yi, a SAWS spokesperson, said at a news conference held by the administration. Last week, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper alleged more than 10 workers had died in accidents in a rush to complete the 90,000-seat National Stadium for the August Olympiad. SAWS Head Li Yizhong attached great importance to the claim. He said he welcomed public scrutiny and ordered the Beijing work safety authorities to launch an investigation at the press conference held on Jan 22. Six people were confirmed dead after falling from high heights in six accidents. The figure was found accurate after a Beijing working safety authority probe, Huang told reporters. "There is still uncertainty in the work safety situation in some regions and industries. We also have many weaknesses and loopholes in our work," Li acknowledged. ^ top ^


Novella Bellonia
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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