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
  12.5-16.5.2008, No. 217  
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DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

Myanmar cyclone death toll rise to 31,938 (Xinhua)
The death toll of Myanmar's cyclone disaster kept rising with 3,480 more people killed, bringing the total to 31,938, according to a news report of the state radio Monday evening. Altogether 29,770 people remained missing, down from 33,416, the report said adding that the number of injured went to 1,403. A deadly tropical cyclone Nargis, which occurred over the Bay of Bengal, hit five divisions and states -- Yangon, Bago, Ayeyawaddy, Kayin and Mon on May 2 and 3, of which Ayeyawaddy and Yangon sustained the heaviest casualties and infrastructural damage. Affected coastal towns in the southwestern Ayeyawaddy division include Haing Gyi Island, Pathein, Myaungmya, Laputta, Mawlamyinegyun, Kyaiklat, Phyarpon and Bogalay. International humanitarian aid has been pouring in Myanmar since last week with aircrafts carrying various relief materials from different countries and organizations landing at the airport one after another for Myanmar's homeless cyclone survivors. These international aid goods, along with those donated by different walks of life domestically, have been or are being successively transported by the Myanmar side to the disaster-hit Ayeyawaddy delta and Yangon regions as officially reported. ^ top ^

Junta still defiant on foreign aid workers (SCMP)
Myanmar's military rulers yesterday rejected growing international pressure to accept aid workers, insisting against all the evidence that they could handle the emergency cyclone relief effort alone. Even as US President George W. Bush voiced his fury at the generals, and aid agencies again warned that time was running out, the regime remained defiant about not letting in outsiders. Many survivors said they had still not received aid from the government 11 days after the disaster, and that they could not understand why their leaders had snubbed offers of help that have poured in from around the world. "The nation does not need skilled relief workers yet," Vice-Admiral Soe Thein said in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, a mouthpiece for the military. He said the needs of the people after the storm, which has left at least 62,000 dead or missing since ripping through the southern Irrawaddy delta on May 2 and 3, "have been fulfilled to an extent". But aid agencies tell a starkly different story, warning that as every day passes without sufficient food, water and shelter, as many as 2 million people are at risk of being added to the death toll. The United Nations warned of a "second catastrophe" and said the relief effort posed an "enormous logistic challenge" that needed an air or sea corridor to get in massive quantities of aid as soon as possible. Heavy rains overnight deepened the misery for many survivors, seeping through the flimsy plastic sheeting of makeshift shelters of tens of thousands of people whose homes had been sunk or blown away. "These new rains are bringing us more misery," said Taye Win, who was sheltering at a monastery. "I don't know how long we can withstand this." A long-time foreign resident of Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon, reported that angry government officials had complained to him about the military misappropriating aid. The resident said the officials told him that some of the high-energy biscuits rushed into Myanmar on the World Food Programme's first flights were sent to a military warehouse. There they were exchanged for "tasteless and low-quality" biscuits produced by the Industry Ministry to be handed out to cyclone victims. Thousands of hungry people are still lining the roads on the route between Yangon and the low-lying delta that bore the brunt of Cyclone Nargis, begging for food and water. Meanwhile, the UN said in an internal document that it was receiving reports of the military forcibly pushing families out of their villages into less-affected areas. Mr Bush said the world should "be angry and condemn" the junta for their handling of the crisis. "Either they are isolated or callous," he said. "There's no telling how many people have lost their lives as a result of the slow response." […]. ^ top ^

New cyclone threatens ravaged Myanmar delta (SCMP)
The United Nations warned yesterday that another cyclone could be forming over Myanmar's cyclone-devastated delta, where it said a "second wave of deaths" could occur because so little aid has reached the 2 million survivors. Heavy rains have already arrived in parts of Myanmar, adding to the abject misery of survivors of the cyclone that tore through the country 12 days ago. Amanda Pitt, spokeswoman for the UN's disaster response arm, said a US Defence Department monitoring centre - the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC) - was reporting the possibility of another heavy storm over the country. "I understand there are torrential rains, and that a cyclone might be forming," she said. "It's terrible. This is always another worry when you have a major disaster, that you have further hazards affecting people." The JTWC said the circulation centre of the storm was moving generally northwestward across the Irrawaddy delta - the same area pulverised by Cyclone Nargis. […] Myanmar tightened access to the disaster zone yesterday, turning back foreigners, and ignoring pleas to accept outside experts and warnings of the possibility of famine. "The fact that it is the rice bowl of Myanmar [that has been hit] and that all the stocks of rice have been destroyed - there is a risk of a catastrophe at the level of famine," Louis Michel, the European Union's humanitarian aid commissioner, said. Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej flew to Yangon in a failed bid to try to persuade his Myanmese counterpart, General Thein Sein, to let in more foreign experts. He said the junta gave him a "guarantee" that there was no starvation or disease outbreaks among survivors. Myanmar did give a Thai medical team permission to go to the delta. If the team is able to go as scheduled tomorrow, it would be the first foreign aid group to work in the area. Myanmar's military also invited 160 personnel from Bangladesh, China, India and Thailand to assist in relief efforts - but that is a fraction of aid workers needed for a "tsunami-style" international aid operation. "It's just awful. People are in just desperate need, begging as vehicles go past," Gordon Bacon, an emergency co-ordinator for the International Rescue Committee, said in Yangon. However, the junta is accepting more aid supplies, with 15 to 20 relief flights expected to land in Yangon yesterday, including five planeloads of US emergency aid. Asian diplomats said Myanmar had agreed to attend an emergency meeting of Asean foreign ministers on Monday to discuss the aid problems. The 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations has come under fire for failing to prod its member to better respond to the disaster. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Food prices down for fifth straight week (China Daily)
The price of food in major cities has fallen for the past five weeks in a row, the Ministry of Commerce said on Monday. Of the 58 food items monitored last week in 36 principal cities, 31 have seen their prices fall, while 22 have become more expensive, the ministry said. Water melons saw the biggest drop, of about 20 percent compared with a week earlier, due to increased supply. Vegetables were an average of 10.4 percent cheaper, as more local produce entered the market. The price of pork, one of the biggest factors in inflation, dropped 1.8 percent. Beef and eggs were among the risers, with each of their prices going up by 0.8 percent. Overall inflation was reported at 8.5 percent for April, down slightly from the 8.7 percent record high in February. The rising cost of food, especially pork, has been the influencing factor behind the inflation figures. The price of pork has risen 70 percent since last year as a result of reduced supplies, caused by pig diseases and farmers' rising costs. The supply is improving, however, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Monday. Zhang Baowen, vice-minister of agriculture, said at a national teleconference that the country's total number of farm pigs grew by more than 10 percent last month. On large-scale farms, the figures were up more than 20 percent from last April. Over the past year, the government has paid 2.8 billion yuan ($400 million) in subsidies to pig farmers. […]. ^ top ^

Reporter who wrote about violent official jailed 4 years (SCMP)
A mainland journalist who wrote about suspected wrongdoing by local officials has been jailed for four years, one of his lawyers said yesterday. […] Qi was arrested in June after writing a story saying a Tengzhou official had beaten a woman for coming to work late. Qi said he had been beaten and threatened during his detention, the overseas-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders group said a statement released on Wednesday. ^ top ^

Truck plunges into river, killing 29 in southwest China (Xinhua)
A farm truck plunged into a river in the southwestern province of Guizhou on Thursday, leaving 29 people dead and 14 injured, local police said. […]. ^ top ^



Beijing reports first child death of hand-foot-mouth disease (Xinhua)
Beijing's health authority on Wednesday confirmed the first child death of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) in the capital. Deng Xiaohong, spokeswoman of the Beijing Health Bureau, said that the child, a resident of Chaoyang District, had died on the way to a hospital on May 11. ^ top ^



Shanghai hosts women's forum (China Daily)
Building on the success of three editions in France, the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society unveils the first edition of the Women's Forum Asia in Shanghai today. With 700 guests and participants from around the world, the three-day event aims to be an international platform for influential women leaders to share their opinions on economic, political and social issues. Growth and sustainability are the themes of the forum. Featuring interactive exchanges through plenary debates, brainstorming sessions and networking, the forum will address women's roles in meeting the new challenges facing the world today and how they can make a difference. "Bringing the Women's Forum to Asia, specifically China, is greatly significant," said Aude Zieseniss de Thuin, founder and president of The Women's Forum for the Economy and Society in France. "Women play a key role in the Asian economies and societies, and Chinese women seem to be extremely committed to the emergence of a new civil society with a private economy and new functioning rules, more open to the outside environment and integrated in the global world. […]. ^ top ^



It's bun for all as good sports rule at festival (SCMP)
Portrayals of politicians and athletes dominated yesterday's Cheung Chau Bun Festival parade, as dragon dancers, stalls selling good-luck buns and tens of thousands of spectators packed the island village's alleys. Organisers said about 50,000 visitors packed the island for the event, the highlight of the community's calendar, while a capacity crowd of 1,500 jammed the Pak Tai sports ground for the midnight climax, the scramble up a 14-metre tower to gather bags full of festive buns. […]. ^ top ^



Dalai Lama 'sounded out' on attending Olympics (SCMP)
A senior mainland official has asked whether the Dalai Lama would agree to attend the Beijing Olympics to ease recent tensions, a legislator for the Tibetan government-in-exile said yesterday. The Dalai Lama would consider going, the lawmaker said. Khedroob Thondup, the Dalai Lama's nephew and a Taipei-based member of Tibet's parliament-in-exile, said a senior leader in Beijing had called him about two weeks ago to "sound out" the Olympic visit idea. He did not identify the leader. The mainland has blamed the Dalai Lama for orchestrating the unrest in the Tibet Autonomous Region that took place in mid-March. The gesture suggested that Beijing was seeking to show the world it could get along with Tibetan leaders following a world opinion backlash over its handling of the violence. "If they want to invite His Holiness to the Olympics, that would be a big change," Mr Thondup said. "I'm sure he would consider this.". ^ top ^

Dalai Lama to discuss Tibet on trip to west (SCMP)
The Dalai Lama leaves his Indian home in exile today for a tour of western powers, keeping Tibet centre stage ahead of the Beijing Olympics. The Tibetan spiritual leader will visit the United States, Australia, Britain and France. But he flies first to Germany, where he will speak on human rights issues two months after the eruption of bloody riots in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate will not meet Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during his week-long stay, however, and Chancellor Angela Merkel will be in Latin America, according A meeting between Dr Merkel and the Dalai Lama during his last trip to Germany last September chilled ties between Beijing and Berlin. Germany went on to welcome talks this month between Beijing and envoys of the Tibetan leader to try to defuse tensions in the aftermath of the violence. The Dalai Lama would instead meet parliamentary Speaker Norbert Lammert and two state premiers - Roland Koch of Hesse and Juergen Ruettgers of North Rhine-Westphalia, Tenzin Taklha said. His representative in Europe, Tseten Chhoekyapa, branded Mr Steinmeier's decision not to meet the Dalai Lama "an unhappy one", but Tenzin Taklha tried to play down the statement. "His Holiness does not wish to create any inconvenience for anyone or any country," he said in the town of Dharamsala, northern India, seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile. The second leg of the tour will take the 72-year-old spiritual leader to London for nine days, for what Tenzin Taklha called political talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The Dalai Lama returns to India on June 1 and after a brief pause will leave for Australia, the US and France, wrapping up the tour on August 20 - just four days before the Olympics close. Mr Brown said he was unhappy with Beijing's crackdown in Tibet, which he noted had clouded a human rights dialogue with China. "His Holiness will talk about the protests in Tibet with Brown," Tenzin Taklha said. "Eighty per cent of his visits are devoted to his commitment to human values and the promotion of religious harmony, but of course, since he is meeting leaders and parliamentarians, questions on the recent unrest will be asked and answered. "But we don't believe that these discussions on Tibet will put any more pressure on the Dalai Lama or have any further strain on relations between western countries and China." The mainland accuses the Dalai Lama of creating trouble to derail the August Games - an allegation vehemently rejected by the Buddhist cleric, who fled to India after a failed anti-Beijing uprising in Tibet in 1959. The Tibetan government-in-exile says Chinese protests about the Dalai Lama's tour were inevitable. "It's a routine tradition of the Chinese to protest and try to discourage host countries from meeting the Dalai Lama," government spokesman Thubten Samphel said. "But it is the responsibility of His Holiness to inform governments of the deep-rooted resentment of the Tibetan people for China." Analyst Wilson John of the Observer Research Group, a New Delhi-based independent think-tank, said: "China is bound to make noise over this trip. "But this may not further widen the rift which already exists in ties between China and the western powers as Beijing wants to keep things under wraps until the Games are over.". ^ top ^

Tibet exhibition impresses envoys (China Daily)
Tibet's history and the great changes it has undergone impressed 170 diplomats from more than 100 countries yesterday. They were attending an exhibition in Beijing on the region's past and present. Another 70 diplomats from more than 40 countries will visit the exhibition today. "It's clear this exhibition presents a lot of references and elements that support the Chinese position about the relationship with Tibet," Chilean ambassador Fernando Reyes Matta said. The exhibition comprises two parts: the history of Tibet and feudal serfdom in old Tibet, and new Tibet changing with each passing day. More than 160 objects, 400 pictures and audio-visual material are on display showing the changes in Tibet over the past 700 years. ^ top ^



About 10,000 people dead in killer earthquake (China Daily)
The deadly earthquake that rocked Southwestern China and felt all across China and beyond, had left nearly 10,000 people dead by midnight Monday, and the death toll is expected to climb as rescue efforts are intensifying. And in the neighboring provinces as Gansu and Shaanxi, nearly 200 were confirmed dead, according to a Xinhua report. Xinhua said in a news flash that in Sichuan Province alone, which was hit the hardest, the death toll there has risen to nearly 10,000. Chinese President Hu Jintao, who had just completed a 5-day official visit to Japan, has ordered prompt rescue efforts to take care of the affected. Premier Wen Jiaobao has cut short his inspection trip in central Henan Province, and have flown to Chengdu to lead the government rescue efforts. Late Monday evening, President Hu urged governments at all levels to regard relieving major quake as the top priority at a Politburo standing committee meeting on late Monday evening. Presided over by Hu, the meeting called on disaster relieving personnel to go to the quake hit areas as soon as possible and mount all-out efforts to save the injured. And in Dujiangyan, Premier Wen Jiabao has pledged to save as many lives as the rescue teams can in southwest China's Sichuan Province which was hit by a major quake on Monday afternoon. Wen inspected a hospital and a school in Dujiangyan, a city northwest of the provincial capital Chengdu, partly damaged by the quake. Up to 900 teenagers were trapped as buildings of Juyuan Middle School partly collapsed. Rescuers are seen in TV footage using cranes to move away cement and steel structures. Rescuers had recovered at least 60 bodies from the debris, according to Xinhua. Officials in the Xiang'e Township middle school in Dujiangyan, about 100 km from epicenter Wenchuan, said fewer than 100 students out of 420 students survived after a powerful quake brought down a major teaching buildings in the school. The road from Dujiangyan to Wenchuan, epicenter of the quake, was blocked by rock and mud slides, holding up rescue, medical and other disaster relief teams in the city. "Please just hold on, people are going to get you out of there! " the Premier told the people trapped in the collapsed buildings of the hospital in a loudspeaker. When comforting patients and medical staffs in the hospital, Wen asked rescuing troops to search every corner for people waiting for salvation and carry out the rescue work in an orderly way. "If there is a gleam of hope, we will do all the best to save the people," Wen vowed at a middle school of Juyuan town, adding that the rescuing team would not rest until the last one under the ruin was saved. "The medical experts are coming, the rescuing planes will land soon," Wen told people crying for help in the school, "I was told many trapped people have hopes to survive from the disaster." He made a three-time bow to pay his respect to the bodies of the people killed by the quake laid on the school's square, saying that he was very depressed. Premier Wen told officials at the temporary headquarters for disaster relief in Dujiangyan that roads to Wenchuan should be recovered as soon as possible at all costs. "The road is the key for the relief work since we can only know the situation there when we can send. ^ top ^

Death toll exceeds 12,000 in Sichuan, 9,400 trapped (China Daily)
Rescuers were Tuesday night racing against time to find survivors a day after the strongest quake to hit China in 32 years jolted Sichuan province, demolishing buildings and burying tens of thousands beneath the rubble. Hundreds of People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers entered Wenchuan county, the epicenter, on Tuesday and pulled more than 1,000 people from debris, according to the disaster relief headquarters of the Chengdu Military Command. It was not clear how many had survived. Earlier reports said 3,000 people of the town's total population of 12,000 were known to have survived. The confirmed national death toll reached 12,300 by 2 am Wendesday, nearly all of them in Sichuan, according to the temporary disaster relief headquarters headed by Premier Wen Jiabao, who arrived in Dujiangyan to oversee the rescue work hours after the quake. Another 9,404 were buried in debris, 7,841 were missing and 26,206 people were injured, according to the headquarters. “We will try our best to send milk powder to parents and ensure children do not go hungry,” he said on Tuesday after learning that some infants were running short of food and many people needed drinking water and tents. Wen was visiting cities worst hit by the quake, including Dujiangyan, Deyang and Mianzhu. […]. ^ top ^

Magical moments (China Daily)
Dujiangyan and Beichuan have become synonymous with death and destruction after being ravaged by the earthquake which struck Sichuan province on Monday. But nearly two days later - and amid the despair - the two places had reason to celebrate yesterday. In Dujiangyan city, exhausted rescuers and residents cheered when they pulled an eight-month-pregnant woman and her mother alive from the rubble of their home 50 hours after they were buried. And in Beichuan county, a 3-year-old girl who was buried under the debris for 40 hours - with the bodies of her parents shielding her - was miraculously rescued. […]. ^ top ^

Soldiers begin daunting task at epicenter (China Daily)
More than 600 soldiers yesterday reached Yingxiu township of Wenchuan - the epicenter of Monday's 7.8 magnitude quake - where not a single building was intact, Xinhua reported. PLA officer Zhi Liusuo said the first group of 200 soldiers reached Yingxiu by powerboat early yesterday morning; and another 400 arrived last night. Rescue work was difficult because of a lack of equipment; and soldiers were digging with their hands. Only 2,300 of Yingxiu's 10,000 population were confirmed to be alive, and 1,000 of them suffer from serious injuries, according to a local official. "There is an urgent need for medical staff, medicine, food and drinking water," he said. The Chengdu military command said two helicopters airdropped food, drinking water and medicine to Yingxiu in the afternoon. The official death toll from the quake rose to nearly 15,000 - nearly all in Sichuan - and tens of thousands more were buried or missing. Meanwhile, more than 800 soldiers reached the county seat of Wenchuan and began search-and-rescue operations. […]. ^ top ^

Hopes dwindle for the 25,000 still buried (SCMP)
Hopes for the survival of more than 25,000 people still buried by the Sichuan earthquake dimmed yesterday as Beijing counted the missing in official death toll estimates. The State Council earthquake relief command centre confirmed the deaths of 19,509 people - up from 14,866 a day earlier - and put the expected death toll at more than 50,000. "The large-scale search and rescue has basically finished. The focus of the next stage is medical aid," Mianzhu Communist Party secretary Jiang Guohua was quoted as saying. […]. ^ top ^

Govt on alert for major epidemics (China Daily)
The government is using all means to guard against major epidemic outbreaks at areas hit by the earthquake on Monday in Sichuan province, Vice-Minister of Health Gao Qiang said yesterday. No outbreaks have been detected in the areas, he said at a press conference on relief and rescue operations. "The disease surveillance system has been substantially stepped up," Gao said. The central government has also allocated 430 million yuan ($61 million) for disaster relief and rescue efforts. Nearly 10,000 medical workers are operating in the disaster areas, Gao said, with more being mobilized from across the nation. […]. ^ top ^

More countries offer aid to quake-hit China (Xinhua)
Several more countries have offered aid to China whose southwest Sichuan province was hit by a massive earthquake on Monday. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz has decided to donate 50 million U.S. dollars in cash and 10 million dollars worth of relief materials. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that his country will provide to China 1 million pounds (about 2 million U.S.) in aid. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his government will provide a first instalment of 500,000 euros (800,000 U.S. dollars) in aid to the German Red Cross to help China in its relief work. Also, the Polish Foreign Ministry announced aid worth 100,000 U.S. dollars for China's quake-stricken people. ^ top ^



Consultancy plans IPO in Switzerland (China Daily)
Charles Merkle, a Swiss national, came to Shanghai in 1995 with little money and no job. All he had was a skill he thought was in demand. Merkle, who is now 51, has since founded a thriving marketing consulting firm, CBC Marketing Research, which is seeking to raise about 12 million Swiss francs ($11.44 million) in Berne, Switzerland, by listing its Swiss subsidiary, CBC Schweiz AG. To be sure, CBC, with a turnover of around 5 million Swiss Francs in 2007, is small even by SME standards. But to Merkle and thousands of foreign entrepreneurs, China is a land of opportunity not only for multinational behemoths such as GE or ABB, but also for young talents from around the world. Merkle said the capital he is seeking could help finance his company to expand through mergers and acquisitions. This, in turn, would enable the company to achieve its goal of broadening its customer base to include more domestic enterprises, which are keen to move up the value chain by establishing their own marketing expertise. The company plans to issue 210,000 shares at around 60 Swiss francs. It has submitted its listing proposal to the Berne Exchange and is currently undergoing the auditing process, Merkle told China Daily. "We plan to use the proceeds (from the IPO) for acquisition purposes," he said. Merkle said the bulk of CBC's turnover comes from China. The company, he said, achieved a profit margin of 15 percent in 2007 and expects a 10-20 margin in the coming years. When Merkle started out, the best he could hope for was to have three clients in the first year. His first client was a referral from the Swiss consulate in Shanghai. His company has since provided consultancy services to some of the biggest names in the global corporate community. Among its past and present clients are HP, Ericsson, Motorola, Intel, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, LG, Kohler and Nestle. His company has branched out to Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Berne and Mumbai, with 100 employees worldwide. The toughest challenge to his consultancy business is to build up a team with the right qualifications. In China, it's not so much a matter of qualification as of language. Finding qualified people in China is not hard, Merkle said. But finding those with adequate English-language skills and international work experience has proved to be difficult. "To have a good and stable core team is the main achievement on the road to success," he said. The company's biggest strength in marketing research lies in automobile industry, offering services in tracking and brand image study, advertisement and product test, consumer segmentation and car clinic. Merkle said he has learned from experience that branding is of paramount importance to marketing in the Chinese market. Contrary to popular belief, "being cheap is not a big advantage in China", he said. ^ top ^

Quake impact on economy 'will be limited (China Daily)
The earthquake that hit Sichuan province will only have a limited impact on China's economy, although disruption to agriculture in the region might add to the nation's mounting inflation, analysts said. The quake has damaged factories, buildings, roads and railways in regions of Sichuan. "Its impact on China's economic growth will be temporary and limited," Sun Mingchun, an economist with Lehman Brothers said. "It should be much less than that of the snowstorms in January and February which affected larger areas and lasted longer." Analysts said the earthquake-stricken areas of Sichuan province and nearby Chongqing contribute a relatively small proportion to the country's overall economy. Sun said the areas accounted for 3.5 percent of China's gross industrial output in 2006 and their share of exports was only 1 percent. JPMorgan Chase economist, Wang Qian, said Sichuan's industrial production was only 2.5 percent of the country's total, despite its rich natural resources and hydropower. However, analysts cautioned the disaster will disrupt the supply of agricultural produce and power, and this might add to the inflationary pressure the country is facing. China is now battling its worst inflation in a decade. Last month's consumer price index was 8.5 percent, slightly lower than the 12-year-record of 8.7 percent witnessed in February. Sichuan's produces 6.1 percent of the country's agricultural output and 7.3 percent of the country's rice. It is also the biggest producer of hogs, 11.6 percent of the country's total, Wang said. Analysts said the central government might loosen its tight monetary policy for post-disaster reconstruction. It could also easy credit control on investment in infrastructure in the disaster-hit areas in the coming months. ^ top ^

China's industrial output up 15.7% in April (Xinhua)
The industrial output of China's major enterprises grew 15.7 percent year-on-year in April, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Thursday. The figure represents a drop of 2.1 percentage points over the previous month, or a drop of 1.7 percentage points over the same month of last year the bureau said. ^ top ^

Property prices rise 10% (People's Daily)
China's urban property prices rose 10.1 percent in April from a year earlier, slightly lower than in March, the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said yesterday. The average property prices in 70 large- and medium-sized cities dipped by 0.6 percentage point in April from a month earlier. Last year, property prices rose 7.6 percent year-on-year. Prices of ordinary new buildings rose 11.4 percent year-on-year while those of middle and high-end properties rose 12.7 percent, according to the statement. "Based on our statistics of the middle- and high-end markets, the recent price trend remains stable," said Carlby Xie, head of research at the Colliers International's Beijing branch, a real estate services company. "I would call it 'stagnant' if we see the situation in terms of purchase price." Xie said people have remained reluctant to purchase houses, anticipating a price correction after the Olympic Games in August. "The purchase sentiment could possibly rebound by the year-end." […]. ^ top ^


Beijing Olympics

Pollution solution (SCMP)
The newly established Environmental Protection Ministry has banned burn-offs of crop stubble in nine provinces and municipalities in the north of China from May to September, a clear attempt to improve Beijing's air quality ahead of the Olympics. Air pollution from post-harvest burn-offs has long been recognised as a major environmental problem but provincial governments have never fully banned the activity because there are no cost-effective alternatives for farmers wanting to clear their land of crop residue. In a statement published on the ministry's website on Monday, the environmental watchdog ordered nine provinces and municipalities – Liaoning, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Shanxi, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces as well as Beijing and Tianjin – to “reinforce an all-around crop-stem burning ban” during the period. Top provincial and city officials would be appointed to monitor the ban's implementation and those who failed to strictly follow the edict would be punished, the statement said. […]. ^ top ^

A sombre torch relay in wake of killer quake (SCMP)
Olympic organisers announced last night that torch relay celebrations will be scaled down out of respect for the thousands killed in Monday's earthquake. ^ top ^

Olympic torch relay in Ruijin starts with a minute of silence to quake victims (Xinhua)
The Olympic torch relay in Ruijin of Jiangxi Province started with a minute of silence to the victims of the deadly earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan province on Wednesday. All the people in the opening ceremony of the Ruijin relay observed a minute of silence to the victims of the strong quake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale which struck Wenchuan at 2:28 p.m. on Monday. The tremor was felt in many other parts of the country. The disaster had caused more than 12,000 reported deaths by Tuesday evening in Sichuan alone. The torch relay organizers started to accept cash donations to the quake victims on Tuesday in Ruijin Hotel. […]. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

Nuke list expected soon (China Daily)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is likely to soon make its long-delayed declaration of its nuclear activities, which could then lead to fresh talks on ending Pyongyang's atomic ambitions, a Republic of Korea (ROK) official said yesterday.Pyongyang has given Washington a few days ago 18,822 documents about its plutonium program. DPRK missed an end of 2007 deadline to provide a list of its atomic inventory to China, the host of six-way nuclear talks. ROK officials have said they see the declaration coming in the next few days or weeks. "If you do the math from the process of the DPRK submitting a declaration to China in a few days and China circulating it, you get the expectation that the resumption of the six-way talks would be in early June," ROK Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said. ^ top ^



About Hand-Foot-Mouth Cases Recorded (Mongol Messenger)
As of today, 583 suspected cases of hand-foot-mouth disease have been recorded in Mongolia, the National Study Center for Infectious Diseases (NSCID) reported Thursday. 127 cases have been recorded in 11 aimaigs and 456 in the capital city. Of them, 181 children are receiving treatment in NSCID, 71 have recovered and gone home. A one-week quarantine in primary schools and all kindergartens, started May 12, will be prolonged for another week. ^ top ^

Bayar Defends Olympics (Mongol Messenger)
Prime Minister S. Bayar this week confirmed his support for China's hosting of the Olympic Games, despite a series of international protests held over the host country's alleged human rights abuses. Bayar used the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Conference, held in Ulaanbaatar, to make the statement of support, continuing the Mongolian government's backing of Chinese actions. Bayar said the Beijing Olympics “shouldn't become political nor be marred by boycotts. ”Mongolia has attended the Olympic Games since 1964, with at least 26 countries qualifying for the Games so far. The Beijing Olympics is also the first time Mongolia has been involved with the Olympic Torch Relay, with three Mongolians carrying the torch through Leshang, China this week. ^ top ^

Enkhbayar Holds Historic Israel Meeting (Mongol Messenger)
Mongolian President N.Enkhbayar met Israel's President Shimon Peres on Monday (May 12), during a four-day official visit to Israel. The two leaders shared opinions on development of the relations and cooperation between the two countries. President Enkhbayar also spoke with Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday (May 13), during a meeting with Slovenian President Danilo Turk, and Polish President Lech Kaczyñski. During the event, Israeli President Peres expressed his satisfaction with meeting with Mongolia's state head. […]. ^ top ^


Patricia Straessle
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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