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
  25.3-28.3.2008, No. 210  
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Table of contents


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Foreign Policy

China, Laos agree to cement parliamentary, economic co-op (People's Daily)
China's top legislator Wu Bangguo met on Monday with Thongsing Thammavong, president of the Lao National Assembly, vowing to enhance parliamentary and economic and trade cooperation. China and Laos have traditional friendship with political trust and mutual support, and bilateral cooperation should be further enhanced, said Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislative body. China would like to work with Laos to deepen cooperation in infrastructure and agriculture, and promote personnel training and exchanges, Wu said. The NPC would maintain high-level exchanges with Lao National Assembly and continue coordination on international and regional parliamentary organizations so as to inject fresh momentum to China-Laos ties. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao also met with Thongsing, saying it was of strategic meaning for China and Laos to deepen friendly relations and comprehensive cooperation in the new era. [...] Thongsing emphasized that the party, government and people in Laos always stood by the Chinese side and opposed separatism by anyone. He voiced support for a successful Beijing Olympic Games. [...] ^ top ^

Chinese president appoints new ambassadors (Xinhua)
President Hu Jintao has appointed six new ambassadors of the People's Republic of China in accordance with the decisions adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature. Zhang Yan was appointed ambassador to the Republic of India, replacing Sun Yuxi. Sun Heping was appointed ambassador to the Republic of Uganda, replacing Fan Guijin. Yan Xiaomin was appointed ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, replacing Li Zhongliang. Wang Qun was appointed deputy representative of China to the United Nations Office in Geneva and Other International Organizations in Switzerland, and ambassador for disarmament affairs, replacing Cheng Jingye. Sun Yuxi was appointed ambassador to the Republic of Italy and concurrently ambassador to the Republic of San Marino, replacing Dong Jinyi. Hu Dingxian was appointed ambassador to Bahamas, replacing Li Yuanming. ^ top ^

Malawi opens embassy in China (Xinhua)
The African country of Malawi opened an embassy in China on Wednesday. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Malawian President Bingu Wa Mutharika said establishing diplomatic relations with China is a decision fully supported by all Malawian people. [...] "The establishment of ties gave us better and easier access to many resources," said Peterson E. Zembani, CEO of Malawi's Electricity Supply Corporation, at the gathering of Chinese and Malawian business leaders. [...]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China's State Council appoints new officials for "super ministries" (People's Daily)
The State Council, or China's Cabinet, announced Monday it has appointed new officials for five newly-established "super ministries", including the ministry of human resources and social security and the ministry of environmental protection. Pan Yue and four others were appointed as vice-ministers of the ministry of environmental protection. Qiu Baoxing and three others were appointed as vice-ministers of housing and urban-rural construction. Former Head of the State Food and Drug Administration Shao Mingli was appointed vice-minister of health. Seven officials, including Wang Xudong and Xi Guohua, were appointed vice-ministers of the industry and information. Ji Yunshi, former director of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, Sun Baoshu, former vice director of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Li Zhiyong and six others were appointed as vice-ministers of human resources and social security. Li Jiaxiang and four others were appointed as vice-ministers of transport. The National People's Congress, the Chinese parliament, adopted a government reshuffle plan at a plenary meeting earlier this month. The plan involves the establishment of five "super ministries". Zhang Guobao was appointed as director of the national energy bureau. Meanwhile, the State Council dismissed some of the above officials from their former posts, while some continue to hold other positions concurrently. In addition, the State Council has appointed Sheng Guangzu as director of the General Administration of Customs, replacing Mou Xinsheng. It also has appointed Wang Jun as director of the State Administration of Work Safety, Chen Qiufa as director of the national defense science, technology and industry bureau, Yin Weimin as director of the national bureau of civil servants and Li Jiaxiang director of the national civil aviation bureau.. ^ top ^

Human rights activist gets five years for open letter (SCMP)
A mainland activist who circulated an open letter titled "We Want Human Rights, Not the Olympics" was sentenced to five years in prison, a court official said yesterday. Yang Chunlin had been charged with subverting the power of the state, a charge that the authorities commonly use to clamp down on dissent. His trial was the latest in a series of cases as leaders crack down on dissidents in the run-up to the Olympics. Yang had gathered more than 10,000 signatures of people, mostly farmers, calling for human rights. The Jiamusi Intermediate People's Court in Heilongjiang handed down the five-year sentence yesterday. He is allowed to appeal. Yang, a former factory worker, was detained in July in Heilongjiang and formally arrested a month later. ^ top ^

Uygur woman admits plot to hijack, crash plane (SCMP)
A young Uygur woman has confessed to an attempt to hijack and crash a passenger plane from Urumqi, Xinjiang, this month as part of a terrorist plot, the Ministry of Public Security said online yesterday. Turdi Guzalinur, a 19-year-old Islamic passenger, admitted to boarding the plane with a hidden bomb that could bring down the aircraft; deceiving security personnel at the Urumqi airport; and trying to carry out a terrorist attack on March 7, the statement said. Police arrested her and another suspect after the plane, bound for Beijing, made an emergency landing at Zhongchuan airport in Lanzhou, Gansu province. Other suspects were arrested in Xinjiang. "The police investigation has shown that it was a planned and organised terrorist attack on an air traffic vehicle," the statement said. But the central government's statement was vague about how many suspects were arrested and the nature of any potential overseas connections. "With the evidence at hand, we can only say [the attempt] was planned and organised, nothing more," a ministry spokeswoman said. The ministry's caution is in contrast with fiery remarks by Wang Lequan, Xinjiang's Communist Party chief, who alleged that overseas-based separatists from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement had directed the plot. Xinjiang, like Tibet, is a sensitive region where religious and cultural differences are at odds with central government policy. [...]. ^ top ^

Guangzhou swamped by acid rain (China Daily)
Eight out of every 10 rainfalls in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, last year was classified as acid rain. The city suffered from the worst acid rain of any in the province, the Guangdong provincial environmental protection bureau said. Altogether, two-thirds of Guangdong's 21 cities were affected. However, the figures still represented an improvement on 2006, Chen Guangrong, deputy director of the bureau, said on Tuesday. [...]Other major air and water pollution indicators also dropped, but Chen warned the environmental situation remained "severe" and said the government will take "necessary measures" to cut pollution. Sulfur dioxide emissions fell by 5 percent and chemical oxygen demand (COD), a key measurement of water pollution, dropped 3 percent year-on-year. However, the COD still did not meet the provincial government's target, which Chen blamed on a lack of sewage treatment facilities. Statistics showed that half of the wastewater in urban parts of Guangdong had been treated before being dumped into rivers, compared with the national average of 60 percent. And 36 counties in the province have no sewage treatment plants. "We have required all counties without sewage treatment facilities to start construction by the end of this year and to make sure they are up and running by 2010, or it will be difficult for the province to meet the five-year COD reduction target," Chen said. [...] To support the sewage treatment industry, the province plans to raise treatment fees from an average of 0.35 yuan per ton to no less than 0.8 yuan per ton in the Pearl River Delta, and no less than 0.5 yuan per ton in less developed areas by the end of the year. Chen also called for more investment. [...]. ^ top ^



Lowest earners get 14% rise (China Daily)
The municipal government on Tuesday announced a 14-percent increase to the minimum wage in a bid to help those on low incomes better cope with the rising cost of living. The monthly rate will be increased from 840 yuan ($120) to 960 yuan, with effect from Tuesday. [...] "Inflation has had a big impact on people on low incomes in Shanghai," Bao Danru, director of the municipal labor and social security bureau, said. [...] All of the wage and benefit increases will come into effect on Tuesday, he said. [...]. ^ top ^



Ma to recast economic and security ties with mainland (China Daily)
Taiwan's leader-in-waiting, Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang Party, outlined ambitious plans to recast economic and security ties with the mainland, aiming for a peace accord ending 59 years of hostility across the Taiwan Strait. Ebullient after a decisive victory in Saturday's election, Ma said Sunday in Taibei that he would try to reach agreement with the mainland on a wide range of delicate issues because, unlike the independence-minded Chen Shuibian of the DPP, he is willing to do the practical things to improve ties on all fronts. [...] Speaking at a packed news conference, Ma agreed he was setting out on a course that would be impossible to navigate without equal determination from the mainland. "These are very ambitious plans," he said. "They require the other side's goodwill." A spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, addressing a Taiwanese television crew in Beijing, expressed satisfaction that Taiwan voters rejected a pro-independence referendum at the same time as the vote on Saturday. "It is the hope of the people on both sides of the strait to develop peaceful cross-strait relations," said the spokesman, Li Weiyi. "Therefore, all of us should work hard on it." According to the Washington Post, Ma said that he based his confidence on three years of contacts between his Nationalist Party and the Communist Party of China (CPC) discussions that bypassed Chen Shuibian' administration and Chen's relentless emphasis on Taiwanese independence. Those talks have led him to believe that President Hu Jintao and Beijing are ready for dramatic changes now that Chen will no longer be Taiwan's leader, Ma said. In particular, he cited a statement by President Hu in November in which he expressed readiness to seek a peace accord with Taiwan under certain conditions. They could begin talks, Ma said, by returning to an understanding reached in 1992 that was repudiated by the Chen Shui-bian government. [...] Ma said the first subject of discussion should be direct charter flights to and from mainland cities, which he predicted could be in operation every weekend by July. From there, he said, negotiations could begin about regular flights and increasing the number of mainland tourists allowed to visit Taiwan. [...] At the same time, Ma said he wanted to open negotiations on a comprehensive agreement regulating economic ties between the two sides, particularly the nearly $125 billion a year in trade and the growing level of investment by Taiwanese businesses in the mainland. "The rules of the game, of the economic game, mean that the two sides have to get together," Ma said. Negotiations should also be held on confidence-building measures between the two militaries, he said. Specifically, he suggested that military officers could meet to exchange advance information on deployments and troop movements to avoid misinterpretations and accidental alarms. More broadly, he said, talks could get underway for the accord suggested by President Hu Jintao to set aside the hostility that has made the strait one of the world's most volatile flash points. ^ top ^

US sent Taiwan nuclear fuses instead of batteries (SCMP)
The US military mistakenly shipped four fuses for nuclear missiles to Taiwan in 2006 and only realised its error last week. The military was supposed to ship helicopter batteries to Taiwan, but instead sent fuses used as part of the trigger mechanism on Minuteman missiles. Taiwan returned the parts to US custody on Friday. The US Defence Department announced the mistake yesterday and said Beijing had been informed. No nuclear material was shipped, Pentagon officials stressed. An investigation is under way. [...]. ^ top ^

China voices discontent over missile fuses shipment (China Daily)
China on Wednesday voiced deep concern and strong discontent over the United States mistakenly shipping cone-shaped fuses for intercontinental ballistic missiles to Taiwan. "We have expressed deep concern and strong discontent on this incident and lodged representation with the US side," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said here. [...] The United States is making arrangements for the return of the fuses. "We demand the US side to conduct a thorough investigation into this incident, promptly come up with truthful and detailed information for the Chinese side and eradicate the negative impact and evil consequences hence incurred," Qin told reporters. He urged the US side to adhere to the serious commitment it has made to the Chinese side in the "August 17" Sino-US joint communique. He urged the United States to cease arm sales and military links with Taiwan in a bid to "avoid damaging peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the healthy and stable development of Sino-US relations". ^ top ^

China urges U.S. to abide by commitment on Taiwan issue (Xinhua)
[...] Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the remarks at a regular press conference when responding to a journalist's question citing a U.S. official who expected better relations between the United States and Taiwan and called on the Chinese mainland to decrease military deployment against Taiwan. He said the Taiwan issue is always the most sensitive and important core issue in China-U.S. relations, and China hopes the United States will scrupulously abide by its commitments that the United States adheres to the one-China policy and the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques and opposes "Taiwan independence" and Taiwan's bid to join any international organization which only sovereign countries can join. The spokesman urged the United States to "cautiously" and "properly" handle the Taiwan issue, adding the Chinese government's position on the Taiwan issue has not changed.. ^ top ^



Western reports on riots labelled biased - State media latches onto factual errors in attempt to discredit foreign news groups (SCMP)
State media has accused foreign journalists of factual blunders in their reports of the Tibet rioting, setting off public condemnation over "biased reports" in western media. The rising hostility has been underscored by hate messages received by some news organisations in recent days. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China issued an alert on Sunday night urging member news organisations and reporters "to remain vigilant about public perception of foreign media". [...] Going into great detail, the mainland reports use elaborate charts to demonstrate how the BBC mismatched an online photo of an ambulance with a caption describing it as a police vehicle involved in the crackdown on rioters in Lhasa. [...] yesterday private German broadcaster RTL TV had apologised over a mix-up on its website mismatching a March 17 photo of clashes between police in Nepal with a caption saying Chinese police were cracking down on Tibetans in Lhasa. [...] The BBC's Beijing office also admitted a mix-up but said it had not received any threatening messages. The mainland media campaign against western media has swayed public opinion, with some people questioning the ethics of overseas news organisations and others voicing outright condemnation. [...] Professor Zhan said western media outlets were hardly welcome in third world countries as they tended to focus on problems and pursue negative news. "They should be allowed to do their jobs freely as long as they don't adopt a double standard," he said. ^ top ^

Miliband attacks China's rights record and calls for Tibet talks (The Guardian)
The Foreign Office yesterday criticised China for its "poor" human rights record, warning that international scrutiny would increase as the Olympics approached, in a report that included a scorecard on 21 "major countries of concern".However, the British government was accused of hypocrisy by campaign groups which said Britain continued to sell arms to most of the countries portrayed by the Foreign Office as the worst offenders in its annual report on human rights around the world. Activists also called on Gordon Brown to boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. In the report, China was rebuked for its extensive use of execution, torture, detention without trial, the lack of an independent judiciary, and restrictions on religion. The report, written before the unrest in Tibet, also complains of widespread "violations" in the region. Launching the report, the foreign secretary, David Miliband, said global concern over China was "justified and proper". He said: "There needs to be mutual respect between all communities and sustained dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities." He also criticised Beijing over the case of Yang Chunlin, a land rights activist who was jailed for five years on Monday for "inciting subversion of state power"."It is the passion of the British people for justice, and the determination of the media to reflect that concern in their coverage, that has propelled situations of people far away into every living room in Britain," Miliband said. The foreign secretary added that protection of human rights was now an integral part of British diplomacy. But the Foreign Office was taken to task yesterday by campaigning groups who said the government had failed to translate its concerns into hard-edged policy. "This shows the government has a rhetorical commitment to human rights, but what about the rest of the year," said Tom Porteous, the London director of Human Rights Watch. For example, Porteous said, despite Britain's stated unease over China's record, Brown has pledged to attend the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing. "It's not usual for heads of state [and government leaders] to line up to go to the opening ceremony. Yet people are lining up to kowtow to the Chinese, and actually going out of their way to endorse these games. We should be taking a more conditional approach," Porteous said. Saferworld, an NGO which campaigns against the arms trade, said the government licensed military and strategic exports to 18 of the 21 states listed as "countries of concern".Saferworld's head of communications, Claire Hickson, said: "On the one hand, the government promotes the importance of human rights and condemns the poor human rights record of countries like China and Pakistan, and yet it continues to export arms to these and other countries." [...] Another complaint about the report is that it shows a tolerant attitude towards allies. In a short discussion of the chaotic conditions in Somalia, for example, the report does not mention the presence of Ethiopian troops, and puts exclusive blame for abuses in Ethiopia's Ogaden region on the rebels. ^ top ^

Beijing sends top officials to inspect Lhasa (SCMP)
China's top security, religion and united-front work officials visited Lhasa on Sunday and Monday amid reports of fresh protests, a sign of ongoing unrest despite a heavy presence of security forces. State Councillor Meng Jianzhu, who also heads the Public Security Ministry, visited Lhasa to inspect restoration work and social order after the city was rocked by the worst rioting in almost 20 years, Xinhua reported. Mr Meng was the first high-level central government official to visit Lhasa since the March 14 riots, which Beijing said killed 18 civilians and one police officer. He was accompanied by a special task-force comprising Ye Xiaowen, the religious affairs minister; Zhu Weiqun, deputy director of the United Front Work Department; Lieutenant General Lu Dengming, deputy commander of Chengdu Military Command; and Lieutenant General Huo Yi, deputy commander of the People's Armed Police. Mr Meng ordered Tibet's security forces to remain on alert, saying "the situation of the battle to fight separatists remains critical". [...]. ^ top ^

Foreign Reporters Watched on Tibet Tour (AP)
Nearly two weeks after anti-Chinese riots and an ensuing crackdown, helmeted paramilitary police with batons checked identification papers in Lhasa's old Tibetan quarter Wednesday, even as the government said the city was returning to normal. The first group of foreign journalists allowed into the Tibetan capital since soon after the riots got an often carefully monitored glimpse of a city divided. While police presence was visible but not overbearing in the newly built up and heavily Chinese portions of Lhasa, teams of security forces stood in the lanes near the sacred Jokhang Temple. [...] Many shops were closed, some from a lack of business, others from looting that left their migrant Chinese owners with little to sell. [...] China rarely allows foreign reporters into Tibet under normal circumstances, so the media tour underscores the communist leadership's determination to contain any damage ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August that was supposed to celebrate China as a modern, rising power. Asked to comment on the reporters' trip, the Dalai Lama - the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetans - called it a "first step." He said he hoped the trip would take place "with complete freedom." [...] Reporters were shown an extended version of video of the violence that has been replayed on state television. It pointed out that rioters targeted not just Chinese and their businesses but also Chinese Muslims known as Hui. The video stressed the security forces' restraint. [...] Bush encouraged Hu to engage in "substantive dialogue" with representatives of the Dalai Lama, the White House said. The president also called on China to allow access for journalists and diplomats in Tibet. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Wednesday that the United States has requested that U.S. diplomats be allowed to go to Lhasa. But he said that he did not think that China had granted that access. ^ top ^

China approves Aust diplomat Tibet visit (ABC News)
A senior Australian diplomat will be allowed to visit Tibet tomorrow, as a part of a delegation granted access by the Chinese Government. Australia had requested diplomatic access to Tibet to assess the situation in the region, after a recent Chinese Government crackdown on protesters. After initially ignoring the request, the Chinese Government has agreed to allow one senior diplomat from Australia's Beijing Embassy to join other foreign diplomats on a trip to Tibet, accompanied by Chinese officials. The speed of China's approval has surprised the Australian Government. Before leaving Australia for an overseas trip today, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described the lack of access as a sticking point. A spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says the Australian diplomat hopes to check on the welfare of four Australians known to be in Tibet. ^ top ^

Chinese, German foreign ministers discuss Lhasa riots over phone (People's Daily)
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier have held telephonic talks on the Lhasa riots and other issues of common concern, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. In the talks held Tuesday, Yang briefed Steinmeier on the facts regarding the March 14 riots in Lhasa, capital of China's Tibet Autonomous Region, saying the essence of the violence lay in the Dalai Lama clique's secessionist endeavors, the ministry said in astatement. Yang said more than 100 countries have voiced support for the legal steps taken by China to safeguard social stability, dignity of law and the fundamental interests of all people in Tibet. This has fully demonstrated that the international community listens to facts and upholds justice, he added. Yang also told Steinmeier that the authorities concerned were making arrangements for an international media delegation to visit Tibet and that the trip will help generate objective news coverage of the incident, he said. [...]. ^ top ^

Tibet Monks Disrupt Tour by Journalists (AP)
A group of monks shouting there was no religious freedom disrupted a carefully orchestrated visit for foreign reporters to Tibet's capital Thursday, an embarrassment for China as it tried to show Lhasa was calm following deadly anti-government riots. A Foreign Ministry spokesman later insisted that Tibetans had full rights and warned Europe not to interfere. Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama, the region's exiled spiritual leader, said he was in touch with "friends" about pursuing a dialogue with China, adding that Chinese authorities "must accept reality."[...] The outburst by a group of 30 monks in red robes came as the journalists, including an Associated Press reporter, were being shown around the Jokhang Temple - one of Tibet's holiest shrines - by government handlers in Lhasa. "Tibet is not free! Tibet is not free!" yelled one young Buddhist monk, who started to cry. They also said the Dalai Lama had nothing to do with the riots by Tibetans in which buildings were torched and looted and ethnic Han Chinese were attacked. The government has said the March 14 riots were masterminded by "the Dalai clique," Beijing's term for the Dalai Lama and his supporters. Government handlers shouted for the journalists to leave and tried to pull them away during the protest. [...] The Chinese government says 22 people died, while Tibetan exiles say the violence plus the harsh crackdown afterward have left nearly 140 people dead. [...] The monks, who first spoke Tibetan and then switched to Mandarin so the reporters could understand them, said they knew they would probably be arrested for their actions but were willing to accept that. They had rushed over to stop the reporters from being taken into an inner sanctum of the temple, saying they were upset that a government administrator was telling the reporters that Tibet had been part of China for centuries. They said troops who had been guarding the temple since March 14 were removed the night before the visit by the reporters. One monk said they were upset by what he said were some monks planted in the monastery to talk to the journalists, calling them "not true believers but ... Communist Party members." "They are all officials, they (the government) arranged for them to come in. And we aren't allowed to go out because they say we could destroy things but we never did anything," another monk said. The protesting monks appeared to go back to their living quarters. There was no way of knowing immediately what happened to them. China rarely lets foreign reporters into Tibet under normal circumstances, so the media tour was meant to underscore the communist leadership's determination to contain any damage ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August that was supposed to celebrate China as a modern, rising power. The official Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday on the action by the monks, but did not say what the monks yelled out. [...] "Ethnic unity? This war is an ethnic conflict," said one middle-aged Tibetan in a shop selling yak butter in the Old City of Lhasa. The reporters were taken to places that had been well publicized on state television as places the rioters had attacked. That included the Lhasa No. 2 Middle School near Ramoche, where protesters had hurled burning objects that set fire to one two-story building. Nobody was hurt at the school. [...] But the reporters were kept away from any potential hotspots, including the Ramoche monastery. Down a lane north of the Jokhang, Ramoche is where the violence started on March 14. [...]. ^ top ^

Dalai must stop 'sabotaging Olympics' if he wants talks (SCMP)
Beijing requires the Dalai Lama to stop sabotaging the Olympics as a condition for talks, Chinese President Hu Jintao told his US counterpart George W. Bush, according to the foreign ministry here. Mr Hu's demand, made in a telephone conversation with Mr Bush on Wednesday, appeared to mark a new addition to a list of actions the exiled Tibetan leader must undertake before China is willing to talk with him. "China's position is clear and consistent," Mr Hu told Mr Bush, according to a statement on the Chinese foreign ministry's website posted late on Wednesday. Mr Hu was quoted as giving a list of conditions often cited by China for talks between the two parties, and then went on to say "especially [he] must stop... activities to sabotage the Beijing Olympic Games". [...] China has repeatedly blamed the Dalai Lama for orchestrating the unrest, which it has said is a deliberate attempt to sabotage the Beijing Olympics in August. ^ top ^


China Mobile grows in all ventures (China Daily)
China Mobile, the world's largest mobile phone service provider, posted strong growth across the board in subscribers, revenue, net profit, new music service members and instant messaging users, the company said Wednesday. The company added 68.1 million new subscribers last year, nearly half from rural areas of China, executives said in a presentation. [...] The company's Fetion mobile instant message software also fared well, ending 2007 with 73.26 million users, up by more than 67 million compared to a year earlier. Fetion can be used on PCs as well as certain mobile phones, free of charge. China Mobile plans to invest even more money this year to expand its network capacity and start the Third Generation Mobile Telecommunications services in the run-up to the Olympic Games this August in Beijing. China Mobile plans to spend 127.2 billion yuan this year, up from 105.1 billion last year, the company reported. ^ top ^

Chinese banks allowed to trade gold futures (China Daily)
Chinese commercial banks will be allowed to trade gold futures in the domestic market, according to a notice released on the regulator's official website in Beijing on Monday. China gold futures trading was launched in January, but domestic banks were barred from trading by the China Banking Regulatory Commission. According to the notice, domestic banks that meet certain requirements, such as having capital adequacy ratio of more than 8 percent, can apply for a trading permit. "That's great news for the gold futures market, which is not operating that well," said Hu Yuyue, an expert with Beijing Technology and Business University. "Commercial banks can provide more liquidity and stability to the market, after all, they hold huge capital," said Hu. "Gold futures trading can also help domestic banks to improve competitiveness against overseas banks as financial derivatives are supposed to be the largest revenue sources for leading banks," he said. Non-interest income usually accounts for at least 50 percent of bank revenues in developed countries and the proportion can reach 80 percent for some banks. However, Chinese banks depend heavily on the margins between deposits and loans. ^ top ^

China's western provinces led by some economic measures (Xinhua)
Several of China's western provinces, whose development has long lagged the eastern and southern regions, outpaced the rest of the nation by some key economic parameters last year. [...] "Economic growth in the eastern regions of the country is radiating toward the west," said Cai Zhizhou, deputy director of the China Center for National Accounting and Economic Growth at Peking University. "China's economy still has great potential," Cai added. [...] Analysts said that four more province-level regions -- Beijing, Fujian, Hubei and Hunan -- were likely to see their output exceed 1 trillion yuan this year despite a worst-in-decades winter, slackening export growth and the negative effects of the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis. "Many cities have huge economic plans and investment projects in the works as they seek faster development," said Wang Xiaoguang, a macroeconomic researcher with the National Development and Reform Commission. [...]. ^ top ^

BoCom shares to be transferred (China Daily)
China's State Council, or the cabinet, approved on Wednesday a voluntary transfer by Central Huijin Investment Co of 3 billion Hong Kong-listed shares in the Bank of Communications (BoCom) to the Ministry of Finance. The move was intended to "integrate state-owned financial resources and optimize the allocation of these resources," according to simultaneous statements by the ministry and Central Huijin. The transfer still needed the approval of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, according to the statements. [...] The company's withdrawal from BoCom was motivated by concerns that it had too many investments in the volatile finance sector, said Wu Yonggang, an analyst with Guotai Junan Securities Co Wu said that it was possible that the ministry wanted to tighten its grip on BoCom. HSBC Holdings Plc, which holds about a 19 percent stake in BoCom, can continue buying the shares under a consensus reached by both parties. Guo Tianyong, a researcher with the Central University of Finance and Economics, said that the dominant share holding would facilitate board management and personnel administration. Other analysts said that the share transfer would have little impact on BoCom's development. [...]. ^ top ^


Beijing Olympics

Olympic flame starts epic journey (SCMP)
[...] "The Olympic flame will radiate light and happiness, peace and friendship, and hope and dreams to the people of China and the whole world," China's Games organising committee chief, Liu Qi, told the assembled crowd. [...] The most controversial leg of the torch relay is planned for June, when it is scheduled to be carried through Tibet and three neighbouring provinces where violent protests have broken out in the past two weeks. Groups calling for Tibetan independence have vowed to protest along the relay route to highlight their cause, making it the most politically controversial relay ever. [...] The torch-lighting ceremony was briefly interrupted by three members of rights group Reporters Without Borders. They rushed to the centre of the ancient stadium of Olympia as Games organising committee chief Liu Qi was giving a speech before the flame was lit. One approached within metres of Mr Liu, waving a black banner on which the Olympic rings had been replaced by five interlocked handcuffs. The protesters were escorted away by police. Greek television quickly cut to another image. Chinese state television also cut away from the ceremony. Smaller protests also took place during the relay, leading to six people being detained. Group spokeswoman Elsa Vidal said the protest was a call for politicians to not attend the Games' opening ceremony to show disapproval of Beijing's handling of human rights. ^ top ^

Sarkozy to consult EU over boycotting opening of Games (SCMP)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he will consult other members of the European Union about boycotting the 2008 Olympics' opening ceremony - stepping up international pressure over Beijing's crackdown in Tibet. "At the time of the Olympics, I will be in the presidency of the European Union, so I have to sound out and consult my fellow members to see whether or not we should boycott," Mr Sarkozy said yesterday at a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He said none of the 27 EU nations had so far called for a boycott of the Olympics over the Tibet unrest, but added: "According to how the situation is looking at the time, I reserve the right to say whether or not I will attend the opening ceremony." His comments came hours after Beijing warned Europe not to send the "wrong signals" to Dalai Lama supporters. Poland's prime minister, Donald Tusk, and Estonian President Toomas Ilves indicated they would shun the opening ceremony in Beijing following the unrest in Tibet. [...] Public pressure has been mounting on European leaders to discuss the crackdown, which Karma Chophel, head of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, said in Brussels on Wednesday had left at least 135 people dead, 1,000 injured and 400 arrested. [...] Mr Tusk announced he would not attend the opening. "My opinion is clear: the presence of politicians at the inauguration of these Games to me seems inopportune." Czech President Vaclav Klaus has said he will not attend the Games at all. [...]. ^ top ^

Belgium could consider Olympic boycott if violence worsens in Tibet (AP)
The Belgian government was not ruling out a boycott of the Beijing Olympics if the situation in Tibet worsened. Vice-Premier Didier Reynders told Le Soir newspaper on Wednesday that staying away from China ``is not an option that we reserve today. But we can never exclude the worst.'' His comments came a day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested he could boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics. The sports minister of the northern Belgian region Flanders said he will not attend the opening ceremony in Beijing, as it could be used for propaganda purposes. [...] It was against this backdrop that the Belgian government was holding out the possibility of a boycott. "The government remains very attentive how the situation develops,'' Reynders said. As things stood though, he stuck to the government line: "A boycott is not a good solution.'' Bert Anciaux, the sports minister of the regional government of Flanders said he would not go to the opening ceremony. "If public opinion wants to give a signal about human rights violations and cultural rights, then the use of the opening ceremony is not bad,'' Anciaux said, adding he would "not try to be part of the Chinese propaganda machine.'' He called on International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, who is also Belgian, to respond to the Tibetan events. ``It is high time that the IOC proves that granting the games was not a blank check,'' he wrote on his Web site. "Now the IOC has to speak and say what it expects. To be silent now is to be complicit in the terror against Tibet and thousands of dissidents.'' European governments had largely rejected any snub of the Olympics for political reasons. [...]. ^ top ^



DP Council's break delays again moves on Minerals Law (Mongol Messenger)
In the extraordinary Parliamentary session held in the afternoon of March 25, on Tuesday, the Democratic Party's Council in Parliament decided to take a break until April 5, postponing any chances Prime Minister Bayar and his Cabinet had of getting the draft bill for the Minerals law approved in Parliament, urgently and prior to the spring session of Parliament. The decision also prevented the Standing Committee meeting planned to follow the extraordinary session from being held. ^ top ^

Mercury Being Brought in Illegally From Chinese Borders (UB Post)
A Chinese citizen dropped and broke a glass of mercury in apartment No.20 of "Bogd Ar" sub district in Bayangol district which is one of the most densely populated units of Ulaanbaatar, last week. This has threatened public feeling. The largest risk for mercury exposure is in a small, poorly ventilated room. Even the smallest amount of mercury needs to be treated as a serious issue. The suspect worked in Teng Hung. The company owns a gold exploration license in Jargalant soum of Tov aimag. The police opened a case and started to take testimony from the executive director and sub director of the company. On March 22, the working group was established by police and they left for the location of the company's gold mining operation to shut it down. There were massive unknown chemical substances on the gold mine site of the company. So they called chemical experts from NEMA to determine what they were. The Chinese invested Teng Hung and Teng Hua companies were illegally smuggling mercury from China into Mongolia and formed a mercury sale network, it was revealed by police. The police are still investigating. Importing mercury across the border is not allowed according to law. This is a clear example that Chinese invested gold mining companies are extracting gold in a backward way by using mercury and cyanide, thus poisoning Mongolian land. Now it's time to restrict and reduce the number of companies which use mercury and cyanide to extract gold.


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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