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
  29.12-31.12.2008, No. 249  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

Chinese Navy sets sail for anti-piracy mission off Somalia (Xinhua)
Sanya - The Chinese naval task force set sail at 1:50 p.m. Friday from a port here in the southernmost island province of Hainan for Somalia. The ships will take part in an escort mission against piracy. […] Two destroyers, DDG-169 Wuhan and DDG-171 Haikou, and the supply ship Weishanhu from the South China Sea Fleet will cruise for about 10 days before arriving in the Gulf of Aden, joining a multinational patrol in one of the world's busiest sea lanes where piracy endangers international shipping. The task force carries about 800 crew members, including 70 soldiers from the Navy's special force. It's equipped with missiles, cannons and light weapons. "The expedition will show China's active attitude in maintaining the world's peace and safety," Adm. Wu Shengli, commander of the Navy, told Xinhua at a send-off ceremony before the flotilla departed. […]. ^ top ^

FM: China has "unprecedented dynamic interaction" with world in 2008 (Xinhua)
Beijing - China had "unprecedented dynamic interaction" with the rest of the world in 2008, receiving some 180 heads of state or government, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said here Sunday. Yang made the remarks when addressing a new year reception in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. State Councilor Dai Bingguo and more than 400 foreign diplomats and Chinese officials were also present. Yang said the cooperation between China and the rest of the world was further consolidated and enhanced amid the natural disasters, Beijing Olympics as well as the international financial turmoil. […] China will remain on the road of peaceful development and adhere to the mutually beneficial strategy in the coming year, making unremitting efforts for the comprehensively sustainable social development and the peace and stability of the world, he said. […]. ^ top ^

Nation shows off its military strength (SCMP)
As the mainland's naval taskforce of two destroyers and one supply ship sails in full force to the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden off Somalia, the high-profile expedition has understandably attracted intense international media scrutiny and speculation over its implications, in the long and short terms. The overwhelming positive reaction to the announcement, along with Beijing's first explicit acknowledgment that it was "seriously considering" building an aircraft carrier, have signalled that the international community has finally come to accept the inevitable with some sense of calm, even though there is unease among neighbouring countries such as Japan and India. The acceptance is a welcome change after years of dominant concerns and noise in the west over the so-called China threat following the phenomenal rise of the mainland's economic might. […] After all, the mainland's economic security is at stake as about 60 per cent of its imported oil comes from the Middle East, and most of that passes through the Gulf of Aden. […] Although such an expedition is the nation's first and puts its naval capability to the test under the glare of the international community, the fact that there are more than a dozen mainland reporters on board who are allowed to file daily reports says something of Beijing's confidence and its willingness to be open about its usually secretive armed forces. Moreover, the deployment is an important sign that China wants to have a more powerful presence in international matters. After all, China has the world's fourth-largest economy and it is already a global trading power. […] It is interesting to note that the international reaction to Beijing's revelation that it plans to build an aircraft carrier, after years of flat denials, has been even more muted. It has been an open secret that China has always wanted its own aircraft carrier and has made intense preparations in the past decade. […] Whether outsiders like it or not, China is no longer shying away from flexing its military muscle. ^ top ^

Playing ball (SCMP)
For years, western leaders have been trying to figure out how to integrate China into the international system. It turns out that the western debate has paralleled one inside China itself. […] Who could blame it? Until recently, Chinese leaders had been obsessed with domestic priorities and rarely considered the foreign ramifications. When they did, they figured that their greatest international contribution would be to feed and house 1.3 billion Chinese. A conspiracy-minded minority in Beijing still views the west's requests with suspicion. This group is best represented by Jiang Yong, director of the Centre of Economic Security at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (an affiliate of the Ministry of State Security). Writing in mid-2007, Mr Jiang warned that Washington's calls for China to accept more international responsibility were really just a way to frustrate China's rise. Because the existing global economic order and its rules were established by the west, he argued, they serve the west's interests, not China's. Were China to comply with the World Trade Organisation's intellectual-property protections, for example, it would trap China in its role as a low-tech, low-cost manufacturer. Rules on environmental protection and resource conservation, similarly, would hurt Chinese economic development. To Mr Jiang, it all amounted to a subtle strategy of keeping China down. […] Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi's statement to the National People's Congress in March best reflects this "realist" perspective: that China should take on more international responsibility - but in an a la carte way that serves its own interests and that it helps define. […] The dominance of this realist school is a mixed blessing for Washington. The good news is that Chinese leaders now understand that it is in their interest for China to act like a good global citizen. That means they will be receptive to overtures to co-operate in areas where US and Chinese priorities overlap. The bad news is that China sees its international standing rising while America's declines - and will drive a hard bargain before making any concessions. Gone are the days when the United States set the rules. China will now insist that its engagement with the international system proceed on its own terms. […]. ^ top ^

China starts anti-dumping probe into EU carbon steel fasteners (Xinhua)
Beijing - China's Ministry of Commerce started Monday an anti-dumping investigation into carbon steel fasteners imported from the European Union (EU), the country's latest response to the latter's proposed high anti-dumping duties on Chinese fastener exports. An application for a probe was filed on Dec. 1 by the fastener branch of the China General Machine Components Industry Association (CMCA) on behalf of Chinese fastener producers, the ministry said Monday in a statement. The move came after the European Commission voted to adopt anti-dumping duties of 63 to 87 percent on China-made fasteners over the next five years on Dec.1. The vote must be approved by trade ministers of the 27-nation bloc within a month or it will not come into force. EU trade experts have complained that an increase of Chinese fastener imports hurt the European manufacturers. Chinese exporters rebutted the accusation, saying the profitability of the European manufacturers increased 110 percent in the period between2003 and 2007. […] The investigation would normally be finished with in a year, but could take until June 29, 2010, the ministry said. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese, Russian military officials hold first-ever talks via direct phone link (Xinhua)
Beijing - Chen Bingde, chief of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China and his Russian counterpart Nikolay Makarov held their first-ever conversation via direct phone link on Monday. […] Chen said the launch of the direct phone link between the two countries' chiefs of general staff is another important measure for deepening pragmatic cooperation between Chinese and Russian militaries and another showcase of the tow countries' mutual political trust and strategic cooperation. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy in Islamabad to ease Pakistan-India tensions (People's Daily)
Islamabad - Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei is visiting Islamabad in an effort to ease the prevailing tensions between Pakistan and India in the wake of last month's Mumbai terror attacks. He, as a special envoy of the Chinese government, arrived in Pakistan on Sunday evening and hold talks with Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir upon his arrival. He met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani separately on Monday. He is also expected to meet with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. […]. ^ top ^

China offers fresh $11 mln aid to Afghanistan (Xinhua)
Kabul - China and Afghanistan on Tuesday signed two agreements, under which Chinese government would provide a total of 80 million Yuan (about 11 million U.S. dollars) to the war-battered central Asian state. The agreements were signed here by Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Yang Houlan and Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dafar Spanta. Under the first agreement, China would provide 50 million Yuan (about 7 million U.S. dollars) to Afghanistan for consultative projects between the two countries, while under the second agreement China would provide Kabul with wheat worth 30 million Yuan (about 4 million U.S. dollars). […]. ^ top ^

China offers 1 mln USD emergency aid for Palestine (People's Daily)
Beijing - China decided on Tuesday to offer 1 million U.S. dollars cash in emergency humanitarian aid for Palestine. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the announcement in a statement on Tuesday evening. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

CPPCC leader highlights importance of national unity (People's Daily)
Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), stressed the importance of strengthening national unity under the new situation Wednesday at a national conference on ethnic work. […] "Firmly hold to the main theme of a common unity and progress for all ethnic groups and closely center on task of promoting national unity and achieving a common progress for all ethnic groups," said the CPPCC chairman, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau. […] Strengthening national unity depends on the strengthening and improving of the Party leadership on the ethnic work, Jia stressed. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese President appoints new ambassadors (People's Daily)
Beijing - Chinese President Hu Jintao has appointed three new ambassadors in line with decisions adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature. Sun Guoxiang was appointed ambassador to Vietnam, replacing Hu Qianwen. Qiu Guohong was appointed ambassador to Nepal, replacing Zheng Xianglin. Tong Mingtao was appointed ambassador to Lithuania, replacing Yang Xiuping, female. ^ top ^

Nearly 5,000 higher-level Chinese officials punished since Nov. 2007 (Xinhua)
Beijing - A disciplinary official said Friday that 4,960 Chinese officials above the county head level were punished during the year ended in November. The officials were involved in corruption, bribery, acting against the public interest and other breaches of discipline or the law, Gan Yisheng, deputy head of the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, told a press conference. […] Losses of 6.09 billion yuan (889.6 million U.S. dollars) were recovered through anti-corruption efforts, he added. […]. ^ top ^

More efforts urged to secure salaries and jobs (People's Daily)
The National People's Congress inspection team on Labor Contract Law urged local governments to take more steps to make sure that problem salary payment default is solved and job cuts are avoided as much as possible. […] The report says the number of enterprises shutdown or making losses has been increasing as China's economy has faced downturn pressure since October due to the international financial crisis and world economic slowdown. New employment is reduced. Job cuts and default of salary payment are rising. […] The default can be solved by improving the salary payment guarantee system, according to a proposal of the team. More job opportunities are expected to be created by government investment projects and large projects in places where there are a large number of returned migrant workers, the report says. […]. ^ top ^

Top legislature ends meeting, okays amended laws (Xinhua)
Beijing - The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, concluded its week-long meeting on Saturday, with approval of the amendments of the Earthquake Prevention Law and the Patent Law. President Hu Jintao has signed on the two amendments for them to take effect. The session was presided by Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee and member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau. […] The top legislature also approved a multilateral treaty signed by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states on joint military drills and a bilateral treaty of judicial cooperation on criminal cases with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). […] As a result, the session held an additional hearing on a State Council report on taking pro-active measures to deal with the global financial crisis and ensure a stable and relatively fast economic growth, according to the top legislator. […]. ^ top ^

President Hu calls on nation to continue reforms, opening up (People's Daily)
Beijing - President Hu Jintao has called China's 30-year reforms a new type of "great revolution" and urged the country to press forward. Hu, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remark at a "group study session" held on Friday for members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. […] Hu said the reform and opening up and the socialist path with the Chinese characteristics are the "basic reasons" China can withstand all the challenges, difficulties and risks both from within and outside over the years. To build a well-off society for 1.3 billion people and a democratic, civilized, harmonious and modernized country, China must firmly push forward reform and opening up and stick to its own path, Hu said. […]. ^ top ^

China raises poverty standards, 28 mln rural residents to benefit (Xinhua)
Beijing - The Chinese government said Saturday it would expand coverage of its anti-poverty program in rural areas next year to include an additional 28.41 million residents. Fan Xiaojian, director of the Office for Poverty Alleviation and Development under the State Council, said rural residents with an annual per capita income of less than 1067 yuan (156 U.S. dollars) would begin to be covered in the country's poverty-relief program next year. Currently, the program only benefited rural residents with an annual per capita income of less than 786 yuan. China defined an annual income of less than 786 yuan as absolute poverty and an annual income of between 786 and 1067 yuan as low income. By the end of last year, the country had a rural population of 14.79 million living in absolute poverty. While the low-income rural population was 28.41 million. […]. ^ top ^

China drafts first law on social insurance (Xinhua)
Beijing - China's top legislature made public Sunday a draft law on social insurance, the first of its kind in the country. It specifies a common right for citizens, urban and rural alike, to pay premiums and enjoy social insurance for medical care, work injuries, unemployment and childbirth. The draft highlights more efficient fund management. Governments at municipal, provincial and the state-level should encourage and support the public's participation in supervising insurance funds. Any individual or organization has a right to complain or report illegalities. The law also allows Chinese citizens to pay pension premiums in one place and draw money in another, if they migrate to other cities or provinces. This stipulation is particularity significant as the country has a much more mobile population than in the past. The draft also determined that a new rural medical system, in which farmers and governments raise funds together, would be included in the medical insurance plan. […]. ^ top ^

Assistance for rural populations emphasized (SCMP)
Beijing stressed the need to supplement the incomes of the rural population during periods of economic turbulence as the annual strategy meeting for the coming year's agricultural development ended in the capital yesterday. These two elements were essential to cushion the growing impact of the global economic downturn on the 700 million-strong rural population and ensure stability in the country's vast rural areas, it concluded. The meeting, presided over by Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu, reported an 8 per cent increase in annual per capita net incomes in rural areas this year to reach 4,700 yuan (HK$5,300) - the fifth increase of more than 6 per cent in as many years. But observers said it would be hard to maintain that pace next year. […] As many as 9 million migrant workers have been laid off this year by urban employers in export-dependent coastal areas, according to a survey by the National Bureau of Statistics. […] Even before the strategic meeting, Beijing rolled out a series of measures to help jobless migrant workers back into work, including credit for small rural business start-ups, a significant increase in subsidies for agricultural equipment and the earmarking of tens of billions of new funds for infrastructure upgrade projects in rural areas. […]. ^ top ^

Warning on spending (SCMP)
Local officials and party cadres have been warned against spending public money on luxury gifts or holding extravagant celebrations as the mainland enters its holiday season. They should instead tighten their belts and get ready to help people struggling in the economic downturn, according to directives separately issued by the State Council and the party's disciplinary watchdog. […] "[We] will increase our random check frequency and will treat those who breach the regulation severely. Cadres who breach these regulations will be punished and we will expose them to the media as well," it said. […] Wasting public money is a rampant problem on the mainland. An earlier CCTV report said government officials claimed about 900 billion yuan (HK$1.02 trillion) in expenses each year. ^ top ^

Beijing vows to keep 'security' farmland (Xinhua)
The central government yesterday reaffirmed its policy of maintaining 120 million hectares of arable land to ensure the country's food security. […] The reaffirmation came at the central rural work conference, where Beijing ordered local governments to strictly adhere to the policy. "[We] must implement the most strict farmland protection measures to control the total size of land used for industrialisation and urbanisation. We must uphold the red line and not yield an inch," a summary of the meeting carried by Xinhua said. The mainland is balancing industrialisation with maintaining enough farmland to feed its 1.3 billion people. Beijing last year set the goal of maintaining 120 million hectares as the basis of its food security policy. However, prominent economist Mao Yushi has attacked the policy. He said it was no longer relevant to link food security with farmland as China had sufficient supplies through balanced imports and exports. ^ top ^

Chinese official sacked from post for irresponsible remark, lavish lifestyle (Xinhua)
Nanjing - A government official in east China's Jiangsu Province was fired for his irresponsible remark about the real estate market and his lavish lifestyle that had caused uproar among Internet users. Zhou Jiugeng, 48, was the former director of the real estate management bureau in Jiangning District, in the provincial capital Nanjing. He was removed from the post on suspicion of embezzling public funds to pursue a luxurious personal lifestyle, said a source from the district people's congress. Zhou has been under fire since he told the media on Dec. 10 that real estate developers should be punished for selling apartments below cost. […] Internet users uploaded pictures showing his luxurious lifestyle last week. In those photos, Zhou wore a Vacheron Constantin watch, which costs at least 100,000 yuan (14,600 U.S. dollars) in China. There was also a pack of Nanjing 95 Imperial cigarettes sitting in frontof him. The cigarettes cost about 150 yuan per pack. Zhou was also found to be driving a Cadillac to work. […]. ^ top ^

China aims to create 9 million jobs in urban areas in 2009 (People's Daily)
Beijing - Human Resources and Social Security Minister Yin Weimin said here on Monday that China aims to create 9 million new jobs in urban districts next year. Yin said China wants to keep the registered urban unemployment rate under 4.6 percent next year. "The economic slowdown due to the financial crisis will add difficulties for Chinese [seeking] employment. The job situation in China is grim, so effective measures must be taken to help new graduates, migrant workers or other groups, he said. The urban unemployment rate in the past five years was below 4.3 percent, but this year's target was set at 4.5 percent because of the severe employment situation. […]. ^ top ^

Audits show 57b yuan misused or embezzled (SCMP)
Sixty-four senior cadres and 226 employees were handed over to judicial and supervision departments for having either "misused or embezzled" nearly 57 billion yuan (HK$64.6 billion) found by auditors this year, according to the latest report from the mainland's top auditor. The auditors have retrieved 26.7 billion yuan after audits on more than 100,000 government agencies and giant state-owned firms and investigations into more than 24,000 "main" Communist Party and government officials in the first 11 months this year, Liu Jiayi told a national meeting of auditors yesterday. During this period, the agency found 837 cases of wrongdoing and handed them to judicial and supervision departments, Xinhua quoted Mr Liu, auditor general of the National Audit Office, as saying. It is not clear how many officials have been, or will be, punished. […] The "audit storm" was initially regarded as a step forward in terms of government transparency. However, many now say they are disappointed because similar examples of misconduct in government agencies have reappeared year after year. ^ top ^

Four in court on melamine supply charges (SCMP)
Several major figures in the melamine milk scandal appeared in a Hebei court yesterday, two days before the former chairwoman of the Sanlu Group, the dairy firm that set off the scandal, is due to go on trial. But the court cases have been little help to victims' families struggling to file a lawsuit against the firm. According to Xinhua, four alleged producers and suppliers of melamine appeared in Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court charged with "endangering public safety". […] Former Sanlu chairwoman Tian Wenhua, once described as an outstanding female entrepreneur, is to face court in Shijiazhuang tomorrow on charges of "producing and selling poisonous and harmful food", an offence that can warrant the death penalty. Outside the courtroom, two lawyers and an academic representing 63 infants' families tried to file a joint civil submission for compensation from Sanlu. They were seeking 6.8 million yuan to cover medical and miscellaneous fees, and 6.9 million yuan for psychological damage. "The court was busy with the melamine suppliers' hearing ... and no one was in the office to handle our lawsuit," a group spokesman said. "We wanted to file the lawsuit before Tian's trial." Facing waves of compensation demands from children's families, 22 mainland dairy firms have created a 1.1 billion yuan fund for victims, according the China Business News. […] Families of dead babies will get 200,000 yuan (HK$227,000) in compensation, those with serious illness 30,000 yuan and others 2,000 yuan. […]. ^ top ^

Call to rein in GDP data exaggerations (SCMP)
Mainland legislators are calling on Beijing to stop provincial governments compiling their own economic statistics, to clamp down on the doctoring of gross domestic product data. According to The Beijing News, Wu Xiaoling, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said it was almost impossible to form an accurate picture of the nation's economic output because of a number of technical barriers and the tendency of lower-level authorities to flaunt their administrative performance through inflated GDP figures. For at least the past decade, almost all provincial governments have published their own GDP figures. But the combined totals often exceeded national figures, indicating the provincial data was inflated. […] The report said it was highly likely that provincial governments were doubling up or overlapping in their calculations. Last year and in 2006, total GDP - the sum of each province's economic output - was trillions of yuan higher than the central government's tally. The GDP growth rates reported by the lower-level governments were more than 10 percentage points higher than the central government figures. […]. ^ top ^

Rule bans minors in Guangdong from staying out all night (SCMP)
Minors in Guangdong will not be allowed to stay out all night without permission starting on Thursday, under a new rule legal experts say is likely to be unenforceable. Mainland media reported yesterday that legislators revised the juvenile protection regulation after the province recorded an 80 per cent leap in the number of juveniles convicted of crimes from 2003 to last year. The new rule will require parents of young people of 16 years and below to stop their children from spending nights outside or living alone. Those who violate the rule could receive a warning or be disciplined by their employer, community or the police, the reports said yesterday, without giving details. About 50,000 minors were convicted of crime in Guangdong in 2003. Last year, the figure rose to 90,000, or 10 per cent of the national total. Of the 90,000 convicted, 80 per cent were involved in robbery or theft. Guangdong authorities also said one out of five juvenile offenders had gang connections. […]. ^ top ^

Hard times (SCMP)
For weeks, China's leading economists have been babbling away on news talk shows about how certain they are that the mainland's economy is insulated from the global financial crisis because of its "Chinese characteristics". The nation's leaders, however, may now be thinking otherwise, and possibly getting a bit jittery. As the Communist Party Central Committee's economic working commission began meeting in Beijing early this month, the streets around Tiananmen Square were full of police armament and hardware. That was a far cry from the "social harmony" the state news tells everyone to strive for. […] China's leaders decided to boost domestic consumption, so the new attitude is: who needs America's market? China's is big enough, so just shut the trade gates. They point to China's 4 trillion yuan (HK$4.53 trillion) stimulus package as equivalent to one year of exports to America and Europe. […] There might be a few intrinsic flaws in the stimulus-package-and-consumption theory. To begin with, the structure of the mainland's economy differs greatly from that of America. Savings remain strong; people rely on cash and do not borrow to consume. […] Consequently, the mainland's consumption is a mere one-thirty-fifth, per capita, of America's, and is considered lower than the average for most Asian countries. […] China's economy still depends on exports and fixed-asset investments, not consumption; exports currently account for almost 40 per cent of gross domestic product. […] So China will continue exploiting Africa's resources, ignoring genocide in Darfur and destroying the environment, just to keep greedy officials in the manner to which they have become accustomed. At least officials will be happy, if not the people. How might the stimulus package work? It is estimated that only 1.18 trillion yuan will come from central government coffers - with the rest covered by local governments and business, and the issuance of 500 billion yuan of state treasury bonds per year over the next two years. But remember: local governments have hardly any fiscal income; they can only raise money by auctioning off land. That means forcibly removing people, confiscating the land for property tycoons who are usually officials' relatives. […]. ^ top ^

China to issue 1st human rights action plan early next year (People's Daily)
Beijing - China will release its first national action plan on human rights early next year, a senior government official said here Tuesday. "The document has concrete measures, including efforts in poverty reduction, protection of women and children's rights, and (promoting) economic and social equality," Wang Chen, minister in charge of the State Council Information Office, told reporters. The action plan is being drafted by a panel from the office and Foreign Ministry, joined by more than 50 departments, public associations and non-governmental organizations, he said. […]. ^ top ^

China appoints female diplomat as first ASEAN ambassador (People's Daily)
Beijing - China has appointed Xue Hanqin as its first ambassador to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). "To promote China-ASEAN strategic partnership and strengthen their communications and consultation, the Chinese government appointed Xue to be the first ASEAN ambassador," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular briefing on Tuesday. As non-resident ambassador, Xue will play an important part in boosting China-ASEAN exchanges and cooperation, Qin said. […] Her previous job was ambassador to the Netherlands and representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. She has also been head of the department of treaty and law in the Foreign Ministry. ^ top ^

Chinese village official gets death penalty for hired killing of rival (People's Daily)
Hangzhou - A village official in east China's Zhejiang Province has been sentenced to death for hiring five men to murder an election rival, a local court said on Tuesday. Wang Bentie, head of the villagers' committee of Xiawan Village in Yongjia County, committed the crime to retain his post, said the Intermediate People's Court of Wenzhou City. Wang spent 8,000 yuan (1,170 U.S. dollars) to hire five men, who attacked candidate Wang Tianhou on June 29 with knives. Wang Tianhou died from his injuries three days later in the hospital. One of the hired men was also sentenced to death on Monday, while the other four got six to 15 years in prison. […]. ^ top ^

Credit Suisse and Founder Securities receive China business permit (People's Daily)
Credit Suisse and Founder Securities announced Tuesday that their joint venture in China has received a business permit from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) to provide services to clients in China's domestic market. The joint venture, Credit Suisse Founder Securities Limited, will focus on sponsoring and underwriting of A-shares, as well as government and corporate bonds in China. Swiss bank Credit Suisse takes a 33.3 percent stake in the joint venture. The other 66.7 percent is in partner Founder Securities' hand. "Many international banks are longing for a share of the investment banking services in emerging markets including China", said Kai Nargolwala, Credit Suisse Chief Executive Officer in Asia Pacific. He added the company would not change its intention to invest in China despite the world economy slipping into recession. […]. ^ top ^

Blueprint for medical reform set for release (SCMP)
Beijing will release the long-awaited medical reform blueprint next month as the three-month public consultation period draws to a close. The blueprint attempts to overhaul the inefficient and extortionate health care system and make it accessible and affordable to the public. […] Together with the overall blueprint, the government will release five supporting documents outlining reforms in medical insurance, affordable basic medicine, ensuring equal access to public health care, grass-roots health care provision and introducing reforms in public hospitals, according to China News Service. […]. ^ top ^

Polluting cars to be phased out (China Daily)
A slew of subsidies have been introduced to promote the use of low-emission vehicles in Beijing and phase out heavy polluting ones, a senior municipal official said yesterday. […] Thanks to the measures introduced during the Olympics, Beijing's blue sky rate rose by 7 percent this year, he said. Beijing has 353,800 yellow-label vehicles, which account for just 10 percent of the total number of motor vehicles but 50 percent of emissions, he said. Yellow-label vehicles are those that do not meet the Euro I emission standard, which was adopted in China in 1992. "The new subsidies are designed to encourage people to stop using heavy polluting vehicles," Du said. From tomorrow until the end of next year, owners of yellow-label vehicles will be given up to 25,000 yuan ($3,700) as a reward if they stop using their vehicles. And drivers will be subsidized if they purchase environmentally friendly ones, he said. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing pledges transparency with more media briefings (SCMP)
The Communist Party, long criticised for its secrecy, is ready to take questions. Government departments are appointing spokesmen to hold regular press conferences and respond to media queries, Beijing's top spokesman said. Wang Chen, minister in charge of the State Council Information Office, said yesterday that the government would "build up" a spokesman system to brief the media on developments in party affairs. "The big surprise that I would give you [journalists] in 2009 is more and more officials responsible for the various party organs will come to attend the news briefings to meet everyone," he said. […] Yet, the mainland still maintained a tight grip on domestic media and news reports are regularly censored. […] Mr Wang said his office was also pushing to build a round-the-clock information access system in all the main departments, with each having a representative on duty 24 hours a day to respond to media inquiries immediately. […]. ^ top ^



Hong Kong's exports, imports fall sharply in November (Xinhua)
The value of Hong Kong's total exports and imports dropped 5.3 percent and 7.9 percent respectively in November on the same month last year in the global economic downturn, revealed the Census and Statistics Department here Monday. […] The department said the performance of merchandise exports worsened in November, against the background of the recession in the advanced economies and the deteriorating economic conditions in Asia and the emerging markets. ^ top ^



Macao's unemployment rate rises in past 3 months (Xinhua)
Macao - Affected by the global financial crisis, Macao's unemployment rate for September to November 2008 increased by 0.2 percentage point over the previous period of August to October to 3.3 percent, according to the figures released on Monday by the city's Statistics and Census Service (DSEC). […] The underemployment rate for the period stood at 1.6 percent, up by 0.1 percentage point over the previous period. […]. ^ top ^



Former Taiwan leader Chen back in jail on corruption charge (People's Daily)
Taipei - Former Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian was back in prison on corruption charges following a verdict by the Taipei District Court. The court delivered its verdict Tuesday morning after a 12-hourhearing. Chen was taken back to jail at 3:50 a.m. Tuesday but the court verdict allowed him to meet his lawyer and family. The court said it feared that if Chen were free he could commit serious crimes and could tamper with witnesses and evidence or even abscond. Chen and his wife were charged with embezzling 104 million New Taiwan dollars (3.15 million U.S. dollars) in public funds and accepting bribes of about 9 million U.S. dollars in a land purchase deal. […]. ^ top ^

From bitter rivals to new friends (SCMP)
Changes to cross-strait relations have been so far-reaching that the situation today seems a world away from the tense and hostile atmosphere of this time last year. Chen Shui-bian, then Taiwan's president, was determined to revive his faltering popularity by pushing through a referendum for the island to join the United Nations as Taiwan - a move many feared would provoke Beijing and even lead to military confrontation. Relations were so volatile that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took the rare step of publicly criticising the plan. Military experts listed Taiwan among potential regional flashpoints. Twelve months on, ties are almost warm, hitting a high note this year with Beijing's offer - and Taiwan's acceptance - of a pair of giant pandas tellingly named Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan. Their names, read together, mean reunion. Many analysts now believe 2008 will be remembered as the beginning of a reconciliation across the strait. After six decades of rivalry, Taiwan and the mainland officially mended fences by resuming talks on June 13. The historic move was made possible after former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou of the mainland-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) was elected president in March. He trounced Frank Hsieh Chang-ting of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party in a landslide victory. […] An upbeat Mr Ma hailed the policy he pushed through, saying it would lead to further improvement in cross-strait exchanges. "From now on, dialogue will replace confrontation," he said. Beijing has also been moderating its stance towards the island. For the first time in 15 years, it did not object to the island sending its former vice-president, Lien Chan - also a former KMT chairman - to an informal leaders' summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Peru last month. Beijing had, since the summit's inception in Seattle in 1993, protested at Taiwan's presence at the meeting, on the grounds that it was not a state. […] In a further sign of cross-strait rapprochement, the mainland announced during an annual forum between the KMT and the Communist Party on December 21 that three mainland banks would lend up to 130 billion yuan (HK$148 billion) to Taiwanese businesses on the mainland to help them cope with global financial turmoil. […]. ^ top ^



China to raise export tax rebates for machinery products (People's Daily)
Beijing - China will increase the export tax rebates for some machinery products as of Jan. 1, 2009, in a bid to alleviate cost burdens on exporters, the country's taxation watchdogs said Monday. The rebate hikes will involve 553 types of high-tech and high value-added mechanical and electrical products, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the State Administration of Taxation announced. […] "The move will help ease the sufferings of Chinese exporters and boost the country's confidence in fighting the financial crisis," the MOF said in a statement. It was China's fourth rebate hike on exported products this year, and one of several government's measures to counter the global economic downturn that has dampened foreign demand. […]. ^ top ^

"Technical" trade barriers affect one-third of China's exports: study (People's Daily)
Technical trade barriers affected 34.6 percent of Chinese exporters in 2007, up 3.2 percentage points from the previous year, a top industry regulator said in Beijing on Tuesday. Direct losses from such barriers totaled 49.5 billion U.S. dollars, up 13.5 billion U.S. dollars from 2006, according to a report by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. The report was based on a sample survey of 2,198 exporters in 31 provinces and municipalities. Almost 37 percent of the losses were connected to the United States, followed by the European Union at 34.5 percent, Japan at 10.4 percent, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at 4.4 percent and Russia at 3.6 percent. "Among the barriers, certificate requirements, technical standards, safety requirements, environmental standards, poisonous material limits and packaging" had the most impact, the administration said. About 39 percent of the losses were connected with mechanical and electrical equipment, followed by 17 percent for rubber and leather, 17 percent for agricultural produce and food and about 10percent for textiles, hats and footwear. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea
DPRK official: relations with China to reach higher level in 2009 (People's Daily)
Relations between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and China will be taken to a higher level in the new year, a senior DPRK official said Friday. Top DPRK leader Kim Jong Il attaches great importance to his country's relationship with China, said Yang Hyong Sop, vice-president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK, at a reception in the Chinese embassy here. Bilateral relations developed with a good momentum in 2008, Yang said. The DPRK will host a series of events marking the "2009 Friendship Year" arranged by both countries, he added. China will take the opportunity of the Friendship Year to push forward bilateral exchanges and cooperation with the DPRK in every field, said Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the DPRK. ^ top ^


Philipp Orga
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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