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
  26.1-30.1.2009, No. 253  
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Table of contents


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Foreign Policy

Sino-African trade passes $100 bln mark in 2008 (Xinhua)
Beijing - Sino-African trade reached a "historic" level of 106.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2008, China's Ministry of Commerce said Tuesday. Bilateral trade was 10 billion U.S. dollars in 2000 but has since grown at an average year-on-year rate of more than 30 percent, the ministry said. China's cumulative investment in Africa from 2000 to 2008 was more than 5 billion U.S. dollars, according to the ministry. […]. ^ top ^

China, Switzerland agree to begin feasibility study on free trade zone (People's Daily)
Bern - China and Switzerland decided on Tuesday to begin a joint feasibility study on creating a bilateral free trade zone in the second half of this year as part of their efforts to tackle the challenges of the global financial crisis. During talks in the Swiss capital, visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and President of the Swiss Confederation Hans-Rudolf Merz exchanged views and briefed each other on the policies and measures China and Switzerland have taken regarding the crisis. The two leaders agreed that it was an urgent task for the two countries to work more closely together to tide over the difficulties. The feasibility study on a free trade zone was one of the measures the two nations agreed to take. Other measures included deepening financial cooperation, expanding trade and investment, opposing trade protectionism, and promoting reform of the international financial system. […] Officials from China's Commerce Ministry said Switzerland was now China's 11th largest trading partner and sixth largest source of investment in Europe. Last year, Swiss investment in China totaled 240 million U.S. dollars, and two-way trade amounted to 11.2 billion dollars, with Chinese exports to Switzerland valued at 3.9 billion dollars and imports from Switzerland at 7.3 billion dollars, the officials said. […]. ^ top ^

China dissatisfied about EU's anti-dumping measures against Chinese-made fasteners (Xinhua)
Beijing - The Chinese government expressed dissatisfaction over the EU's final decision to take anti-dumping measures against China-made fasteners, Yao Jian, spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce, said on Wednesday. […] Yao said that China believed that practices by the EU's in the investigation and verdict on China-exported fasteners were inconsistent with WTO (World Trade Organization) rules and EU anti-dumping laws. "The ruling against the Chinese products lacked justness and transparency, with obvious probability toward trade protectionism," Yao noted. This "extremely damaged the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese fastener manufacturers. China will study and assess the verdict and retain right to appeal to the World Trade Organization against the ruling," Yao said. On Nov. 9, 2007, the European Commission decided to impose investigation against steel fasteners made in China. […]. ^ top ^

China sets up 3rd Antarctic research station (Xinhua)
Beijing - China has set up its third Antarctic research station, also the country's first on the continent's inland, marking a significant step in polar exploration. The Kunlun station was erected at Dome Argus (Dome A), the pole's highest icecap at 4,093 meters above the sea level, on Tuesday by the country's 25th expedition team to the South Pole. […] "It is another great contribution by our country to the human being to unveil the Antarctic mystery," said Hu, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. He encouraged the scientists to make persistent efforts on their research, improve international cooperation, and strive to achieve more scientific results to make greater contributions to human research and the peaceful use of the South Pole. […] The station will be used to study glaciology, astronomy, topology, geophysics, atmospheric science and space physics in the Antarctic inland. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese premier calls for confidence, cooperation, responsibility in tackling crisis (Xinhua)
Davos - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday stressed confidence, cooperation and responsibility as key to overcoming the current global financial crisis. The global financial crisis is a challenge for the whole world, and the pressing task for the international community is "to take further measures to restore market confidence as soon as possible," Wen told participants attending the World Economic Forum annual meeting in the Swiss skiing resort of Davos. In tackling the crisis, confidence is the source of strength, practical cooperation the effective way and accepting responsibilities the prerequisite, he said in his special message at the forum. "We should not only take more forceful and effective steps to tide over the current difficulties, but also push for the establishment of a new world economic order that is just, equitable, sound and stable," Wen said. To this end, international economic cooperation and a sound multilateral trading regime should be promoted, and the reform of the international financial system should be advanced, he said. It is also necessary to strengthen international cooperation in financial supervision and regulation to guard against the build-up and spread of financial risks, the Chinese premier said. Wen said the interests of developing countries should be effectively protected and economic development of the whole world should be promoted. He also called for jointly tackling global challenges, such as climate change, environmental degradation, natural disasters and food security. "No country can be insulated from these challenges or meet them on its own. The international community should intensify cooperation and respond to these challenges together," Wen said. […]. ^ top ^

Wen confident at Davos forum (SCMP)
Beijing had "solid confidence" it could bring its flagging economy back to relatively fast growth and would continue to play its part in helping the world tackle the global economic crisis, Premier Wen Jiabao told his European counterparts and world business leaders at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Switzerland. "Many people have doubts whether China can maintain a stable and relatively fast growth rate. "I can tell all of you here - I'm positive," Mr Wen said in a keynote speech. He is the highest-ranking Chinese leader to appear at the Davos gathering since premier Li Peng in 1992. […] Mr Wen attributed the cause of the global financial crisis to "some economies' unsustainable economic model". His comment came amid a row over Beijing's yuan exchange rate policy after new US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last week branded China a currency manipulator, a term the previous administration had avoided. Mr Wen cited the causes of the crisis as including "inappropriate macro economic policies in some economies characterised by low savings rate and high consumption". He also cautioned against protectionism, describing it as "harming others while being to nobody's benefit". […]. ^ top ^

Premier Wen: Curbing trade protectionism holds key to overcoming economic crisis (Xinhua)
Davos - Curbing trade protectionism holds the key to fighting the current global financial crisis and economic downturn, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said here Wednesday. Trade protectionism, which seemingly protects a country's economy, would only slow the process of world economic recovery, and would actually hurt everyone, Wen said when meeting with Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In responding to the current international financial crisis, it is of vital importance to fighting and curbing trade protectionism, Wen said, adding that in the combat against trade protectionism, one can not talk one way and do the other. Wen noted that China always supports the healthy and stable development of the multilateral trading system and hopes for the creation of a fair, free and convenient trading environment. China will strictly honor its commitment as a WTO member and will not purposely seek a trade surplus, he said. […]. ^ top ^

AU Commission Chairperson lauds China's role in Africa's infrastructure development (People's Daily)
Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) Jean Ping has spoken highly of China's role in Africa's infrastructure development, saying that the Chinese "dragon" has played a fundamental part in the improvement of the infrastructure facilities across African countries. […] The AU chief said Chinese firms have rich experiences in overseas contract business, praising the quality of the roads, railways, bridges and airports constructed by Chinese firms. Due to China's involvement in Africa, the infrastructure facilities have been greatly improved, Ping said, mentioning China's participation in Ethiopian and Algerian roads construction. In Ethiopia, Chinese firms have built the Ring Road in the capital city of Addis Ababa, and in Algeria, Chinese firms have won the bid to construct the Algerian East-West Highway, according to Ping. […] The AU chief lauded China's promise not to cut aid to Africa despite international financial crisis. […] Such a promise from China will play a very active role to offset the impact of financial crisis on Africa, he said. […] The Africa-China trade volume has surpassed 100 billion U.S. dollars and China has now become Africa's second largest trade partner, he said. Due to China's huge imports from Africa, Africa now runs a trade surplus against China, he added. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese premier holds talks with German chancellor on ties, cooperation (People's Daily)
Berlin - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday to discuss bilateral ties and further cooperation amid the ongoing financial and economic crisis. Joining hands to tackle the financial downturn is currently the top priority for the two nations, said Wen during the meeting. […] The cooperation deals signed on Thursday, which cover various fields, are of great importance for overcoming the current difficulties and promoting long-term cooperation. […] During the meeting, the two leaders pledged to promote the steady growth of bilateral trade and investment through stepping up cooperation in such areas as finance, telecommunication and logistics. The Chinese side decided to send a purchasing mission to Germany in its bid to increase the country's import of German goods, technology and equipment, and also hoped Germany could promote the European Union to further open the bloc's market to China. The German side expressed its readiness to make due efforts in this regard and pledged to make larger investment in China's central and western regions. […]. ^ top ^

Yuan exchange rate will be kept at a sensible level, Wen tells Merkel (SCMP)
China is determined to keep its currency at a sensible and balanced level and is not to blame for sharp fluctuations in exchange rates, Premier Wen Jiabao said during a trip to Berlin yesterday. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Mr Wen she wanted Beijing to hold talks with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. "Given the current economic situation we think the exchange rate ... should be kept at a reasonable and balanced level," Mr Wen told reporters at a joint news conference with Dr Merkel. The new US Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, surprised China last week by branding it a currency manipulator for depressing the value of the yuan to support its exports. The International Monetary Fund has said the yuan is undervalued. "There are strong fluctuations in exchange rates between different currencies in the world ... but China is not to blame for this," Mr Wen added. He said China's foreign exchange rate policy stuck "to the principle that it is oriented towards market needs and the exchange rate is flexible or bound to a currency basket". Tibet is one of the most sensitive subjects for western leaders to broach with China, which views the Dalai Lama as a separatist. It took months for China to forgive Dr Merkel for meeting him in 2007. "We talked about the situation in Tibet, and from the German side, I emphasised that we have a common interest that talks with the Dalai Lama get under way," Dr Merkel said at the news conference. "If there is anything Germany can do in this regard, we would like to help." Mr Wen was in Berlin as part of a European tour to discuss co-operation in solving the global financial crisis. Germany and China said in a joint statement that they wanted to reform the international financial system and ensure concrete results at a meeting of leaders from the Group of 20 nations in April. […]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Health minister rallies support for long-awaited medical reform (People's Daily)
Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu made a whirlwind tour Saturday in public hospitals and community cooperatives, rallying support for the government's multi-billion yuan health reform plan. […] According to the ambitious and costly plan, the government promised to set up a universal primary medical service web covering the country's total population of 1.3 billion. The detailed plan which was tabled to the State Council for review has yet to be released to the public, many of whom harshly criticized one 2006 draft for "being too generalized and full of empty words". One of the weakest links in China's social welfare system, the creaking health care mechanism remained one key source of public discontent, featuring high medical expenses, limited access to quality medical resources, grumble of patients against hospitals and medical workers, and limited coverage of medical insurance. Many attributed defects of the existing health care system to links between sales of medicines in hospitals and incomes of medical workers, which helped create an interest of doctors by prescribing high-priced drugs or overdoses. […]. ^ top ^

Fifth death from bird flu reported in south China (Xinhua)
Beijing - An 18-year-old man died from bird flu on Monday in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the fifth human death from the H5N1 virus in China this year. […] The young man tested positive for the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, according to the test result on Monday from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The ministry said it had reported the case to the World Health Organization and informed the health authorities of China's Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions. ^ top ^

More than one million migrant workers find new jobs after returning home in SW China (People's Daily)
Chengdu - More than one million migrant workers, who were forced to return home late last year amid the impact of the global financial crisis, have found new jobs in southwest China's Sichuan Province. Out of the 1.49 million migrant workers who had returned home, 1.03 million have found new jobs through training and job fairs organized by the government, according to the provincial labor and social security department. […] So far, Sichuan has provided 5,000 training classes to 250,000 migrant workers. It also organized 53 job fairs specifically for the migrant workers, helping some 100,000 find new jobs. […]. ^ top ^

China's farm insurance more than doubles in 2008 with gov't subsidies (People's Daily)
Government subsidies for premiums helped China's agricultural insurance sector more than double last year, the industry regulator said. Premiums more than doubled to 11 billion yuan (about 1.63 billion U.S. dollars), and nearly 11 million rural households received 6.9 billion yuan in claims payments last year, up 110 percent year-on-year, statistics from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) showed. Calling the increases a "breakthrough," CIRC Statistical Department chief Wu Xiaojun attributed the rise to a pilot program that expanded from six to 16 provinces between 2004 and 2008. The government began to offer subsidies for farm insurance premiums in major grain- and livestock-producing areas in 2004. At the time, aggregate agricultural policy premiums stood at less than 400 million yuan, a mere fraction of last year's figure. […]. ^ top ^

China advances vocational training to help laid-off workers amid crisis (People's Daily)
About 4 million laid-off worker in China attended vocational training for reemployment in 2008, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said Monday. Another 400,000 received education to start self-employed business, which encouraged individuals to be their own bosses and make a living, the ministry's spokesman Yin Chengji told Xinhua. "We have set up special funds and are using social unemployment benefits to strengthen training for workers. We also emphasized vocational training for the laid-offs, especially the migrant workers," Yin said. He said the training would cushion the impact of the global financial crisis and was aimed at stabilizing the employment situation in the country. […]. ^ top ^

Deaths in China coal mine accidents down 15% in 2008 (Xinhua)
The death toll in China's coal mines last year was 91,172, down 15.1 percent from 2007, the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) said Tuesday. It was the first time since 1995 the figure fell below 100,000, the chief work safety regulator said. The number of accidents fell 19.3 percent to 413,700 in 2008. The death rate in coal mine accidents, per 1 million tonnes of coal produced, dropped 20.4 percent year-on-year to 1.182, SAWS also said. […] Zhao Tiechui, senior SAWF official in charge of coal mine supervision, attributed the improvements to government efforts to shut illegal mines and toughen enforcement. China closed 1,054 illegal coal mines in 2008, but government figures show almost 80 percent of the country's 16,000 mines are illegal. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing shuts down 1,500 porn websites (SCMP)
Mainland authorities say they have shut down 1,507 pornographic websites in an online cleanup that has included ordering internet giants such as Google to sever links to vulgar sites, state media reported yesterday. During the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, when little else connected to the government remains open, authorities had reported blocks on 55 more sites since Monday, Xinhua said. Previous state media reports had said at least 41 people had been detained in the crackdown. The Ministry of Public Security and six other government agencies launched the drive on January 5, targeting sites that post or link to content that the government says "harms public morality" and corrupts the nation's youth. […] The 55 websites shut this week had posted "pornographic and vulgar content, violating laws against public distribution of sexual images", Xinhua said, quoting the Special Operation Office for the Crackdown on Online Porn and Lewd Content. The office had closed 114 blogs containing porn and deleted more than 47,000 pictures this week, Xinhua said. It said the office pledged to continue the crackdown. ^ top ^

Chinese economy to continue fast, steady growth: premier (Xinhua)
Davos - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday that China's economy will continue to grow fast and steadily, which is in itself an important contribution to global financial stability and world economic growth. China is facing severe challenges including shrinking external demand, rising unemployment in urban areas and greater downward pressure on economic growth as the current financial crisis has inflicted a rather big impact on China's economy, Wen told participants at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in the Swiss skiing resort of Davos. […] "China's economy is in good shape on the whole. We managed to maintain steady and relatively fast economic growth in 2008 despite two unexpected massive natural disasters," he said. "We are full of confidence" because the fundamentals of China's economy, the long-term trend of China's economic development and the advantages contributing to China's economic growth remain unchanged, and there is no fundamental change in the external environment for China's economic growth, Wen said. […]. ^ top ^

China's railways carry 75 mln holiday passengers (Xinhua)
Beijing - China's railways carried 75.05 million passengers between Jan. 11-27, or in the first 17 days of the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush. The figure represents a 17 percent increase from a year earlier, the Ministry of Railways (MOR) said Wednesday. […] In addition, 114.7 million passengers have traveled by road between Jan. 25-28, up 5.4 percent from the same period last year. Short trips account for 80 percent of the total in the first four days of the seven-day Spring Festival holiday. ^ top ^

Crisis plan could leave farmers in debt: study - Rural consumption 'may be counterproductive' (SCMP)
Beijing's plans to spur consumption in the nation's vast rural areas might be counterproductive, according to researchers who claim that non-essential spending could come back to haunt farmers. That conclusion is in line with an earlier field study by the Communist Party of China's Central Committee policy research department, which said farmers had no incentive to spend more because they were overwhelmed by outlays for essentials such as education and health care. Central China University of Science and Technology sociology professor He Xuefeng and 14 researchers stayed in Juhe village in Guizhou's Meitan county for two weeks and found that villagers would only dig themselves a deeper financial hole if they were encouraged to spend more, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday. […]. ^ top ^

Rural home appliance sales grow under national subsidy program (People's Daily)
Home appliance sales in China's countryside has been stirred up as the government offered subsidies to rural buyers of those products to lift domestic consumption, the People's Daily reported Thursday. In the first 20 days of January, Chinese farmers bought more than 160,000 items of home appliances on government subsidies, 90 percent of the total in December, the newspaper said, citing Ministry of Commerce (MOC) sources. "The expansion of the subsidy program on rural purchase of home appliances has magnified the purchasing power of rural residents by seven times and gradually accelerated sales since the beginning of this year," the MOC was quoted as saying. China began a trial program in December 2007 to grant a 13 percent subsidy to farmers who buy color TVs, refrigerators, mobile phones, washing machines and freezers. Since then, rural sales of color TVs, refrigerators and mobile phones in three pilot provinces of Shandong, Henan and Sichuan has grown in annual rates more than 30 percentage points higher than the national average level, according to the report. […]. ^ top ^

Soil erosion affects 37pc of mainland, three-year survey finds (SCMP)
Lack of funding, overdevelopment and irrational infrastructure projects affect nearly 40 per cent of the mainland, exacerbating the worst soil erosion problem in the world, state media has reported. Quoting a vice-minister of water resources and a recent survey, Xinhua said yesterday that the devastating impact of soil erosion on the country's social and economic development had been vastly underestimated. The amount of soil affected annually is 4.5 billion tonnes. About 3.57 million sq km was exposed to erosion, or 37 per cent of a total 9.6 million sq km of land, a three-year survey found last year. The problem affects 646 counties and every river basin. Worst hit are vast rural areas and the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, the two longest, according to the survey. At least 15,000 sq km is still being eroded each year, causing devastating and often irreversible damage. The grim assessment, especially given its impact on grain security, came amid a debate over whether to continue to maintain 1.2 million sq km of arable land, viewed as key for grain self-sufficiency. […] Rapid urbanisation, caused largely by irrational land use in rural areas, is the main reason the campaign to tackle soil erosion has been so unsuccessful, with especially little headway being made in the past decade. […]. ^ top ^



Hong Kong's December exports down 11.4% (Xinhua)
Hong Kong's goods exports in December fell 11.4 percent year on year to 205.8 billion HK dollars (26.4 billion U.S. dollars), dragging the export growth for 2008 as a whole down to 5.1 percent, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said Thursday. The imports in December fell by 16.2 percent to 217.6 billion HK dollars (27.9 billion U.S. dollars), the Census and Statistics Department said. The imports for 2008 as a whole rose 5.5 percent, leading to a visible trade deficit of 201.1 billion HK dollars (25.8 billion U.S. dollars), which was equivalent to 6.6 percent of the value of goods imports in 2008, it added. Comparing the fourth quarter of 2008 with the preceding quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis, the total exports decreased by 4.8percent. […]. ^ top ^



81 held in Tibet amid crime crackdown (SCMP)
At least 81 people have been detained in Tibet for suspected criminal activity amid a security sweep in the region, state media reported. Two of them were being held for having "reactionary music" on their mobile phones, one report said. The crackdown seemed to be aimed at intimidating Tibetans ahead of sensitive anniversaries in coming weeks, including the 50th anniversary of the crushed independence uprising, said advocates of Tibetan independence. Beijing has been preparing for more unrest among Tibetans since deadly rioting in Lhasa on March 14 last year sparked the biggest anti-government protests in decades - and a major military crackdown. The public security bureau in Lhasa launched a "strike hard" campaign against crime on January 18, with raids on residential areas, rented rooms, hotels, guesthouses, internet cafes and bars, the Tibetan Daily said in a report quoted by the China Tibet News. ^ top ^

Panchen Lama's death marked (SCMP)
Beijing is marking the anniversary of the death of the second-most senior figure in Tibetan Buddhism by lauding him as an enemy of separatism in the region as it enters a year laden with sensitive anniversaries. The death of the 10th Panchen Lama, revered by Tibetans for championing their rights, on January 28, 1989, deprived Beijing of a buffer against tensions in the region and helped stir demonstrations in the regional capital, Lhasa, weeks later. But Beijing now champions the late Panchen Lama as a model patriot, set against the exiled Dalai Lama, who they condemn as a traitor. In the People's Daily this week, a party leader called him an example for Tibet. "We must learn from and continue his patriotic spirit," wrote Du Qinglin, chief of the United Front Work Department, which deals with religious and ethnic groups. "He was always at the forefront of the struggle against separatism and resolutely protected ethnic unity." But the Panchen Lama's political legacy is more disputed than such propaganda suggests. And an expert on Tibet said Beijing trapped itself by failing to accept a successor Panchen Lama trusted by most Tibetans. Beijing lost a chance to win greater acceptance from Tibetans when it put under secretive house arrest the five-year-old boy chosen by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama in 1995. […]. ^ top ^



Survey finds most Chinese rate economic fundamentals as "good" (People's Daily)
Most of Chinese people believed the fundamental factors of the Chinese economy remained good, according to a survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The survey found 80.9 percent of the respondents considered that despite the impact from the international financial crisis, China would realize a healthy and relatively fast economic growth in the coming couple of years. […] The survey findings also showed that most of the people surveyed took a "quite rational attitude" toward the ongoing financial crisis, though many said they were "a bit worried". […]. ^ top ^

China's oil product use up 12% in 2008 (People's Daily)
China's oil product consumption rose 11.9 percent last year to 215 million tonnes, the China Petroleum and Chemical Association said Tuesday. The growth rate was 5 percentage points higher than in 2007. China used 365 million tonnes of crude oil last year, up 5.8 percent. The growth rate was 1.5 percentage points below the 2007 level. According to Zhu Fang, deputy head of the association's information and market department, refined oil product consumption grew faster than that of crude oil because imports rose in the second and third quarters. Data from the association show that last year, China imported 14.71 million tonnes of oil products, including gasoline, diesel oil and kerosene, up 107.4 percent. Zhu said during the first half of 2008, global oil prices soared while domestic prices were capped at a low level. In response, local refineries cut or halted production to minimize losses. […]. ^ top ^

UBS: China likely cuts interest rates by up to 81 basis points in 2009 (Xinhua)
Beijing - China may cut interest rates by 54-81 basis points in 2009 in an effort to ease deflationary pressure and spur growth, UBS said in a recent note. Deflation is by far the bigger threat in China this year although many have voiced concerns of a rapid return to inflation due to the massive liquidity injection, a surge in bank lending and the fiscal stimulus, the bank said. […] To support the weakening economy, China has cut the lending rates five times, or by 216 basis points, since mid-September. A basis point is 0.01 percentage points. China's consumer price index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, rose 1.2 percent year-on-year in December, the eighth consecutive month of deceleration and the slowest rise since July 2006. The CPI was 2.4 percent in November, and it hit a 12-year-high of 8.7 percent in February. UBS said the year of 2009 provides a good opportunity to reform the pricing mechanism of energy and resources to help usher in a more balanced economic growth. "We think there is a good chance that the government would raise the prices of certain utilities and resources, and procurement prices of agricultural products," the bank noted. The measures will help the CPI growth to stay positive for the whole year, it said, adding it expected a 0.2 percent consumer inflation for 2009. ^ top ^

China's crude oil output hit 190 mln tons in 2008: industry association (Xinhua)
Beijing - China's crude oil output rose 2.3 percent year-on-year, the highest growth in three years, to 190 million tons last year, the China Petroleum and Chemical Association said Thursday. China imported 179 million tons of crude oil in 2008, an increase of 9.6 percent from the previous year. The imports accounted for 48 percent of the total crude oil demand in the world's second-largest energy user, 1.8 percentage points higher than that in the previous year. […] China's consumption of oil products rose 11.9 percent to 215 million tons last year. The growth rate was 5 percentage points higher than that in 2007. […] PetroChina has forecasted China's crude oil consumption will rise to 379 million tons this year. The demand for gasoline, diesel, and kerosene may climb to 64.4 million tons, 144 million tons and 13.1 million tons, respectively, said the oil giant. ^ top ^



Uranium deals made with Russia (UB Post)
Russian state-owned company Rosatom plans to set-up a joint venture, uranium-mining operation with Mongolia, as stipulated in a deal reached Mongolian Prime Minister S.Bayar's recent visit to Russia. Bayar paid a working visit to Russia's Irkutsk region from January 22-23, to discuss bilateral economic cooperation, especially in mining and agriculture. Within the first quarter of 2009, the Mongolian Nuclear Energy Commission expects to sign a cooperation agreement with Russia's Rosatom Nuclear Energy Corporation. According to the framework of this agreement, the parties may set up a joint venture for development of uranium deposits in Mongolia. […] Mongolia is a among the nations with top-ten largest uranium deposits. […]. ^ top ^

S. Erdene sentenced to six years in jail for fraud (
S.Erdene, Head of the Metropolitan Democratic Party, and a possible winner of the fourth seat to Parliament from the 25th constituency, has instead been sent to jail. He was arrested at 10:30 p.m. on Friday after the Bayangol district court had sentenced him to six years' imprisonment on charges of misappropriating Tg46 million from the Social Insurance Office when he was its head. The money was used in illegal ways to influence the result of the election. […]. ^ top ^

China, Russia to help Ulaanbaatar railway move more freight (
Railway representatives of China have held talks with officials of Ulaanbaatar Railway (UBR) ahead of wider consultations among China, Mongolia and Russia in February on increasing the volume of railway freight movement through Mongolia. China has promised that 20 companies exporting their products to Mongolia, Russia, and the rest of Europe will use the UBR. Russia too has written to 16 freight companies following a request from the UBR for help in increasing business. UBR officials are now in Moscow negotiating details. If the three countries do achieve success in working out a new way of moving freight, it would be easier for the UBR to tide over the economic difficulty it is currently facing. ^ top ^

Bidders line up for Tavan Tolgoi stake (UB Post)
Mongolia is currently on the verge of mandating a global US dollar bond. Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, IGN, JP Morgan, Citigroup, and Boston consulting are among 10 investment banks invited by the Ministry of Finance in an effort to sell as much as 49 percent of Tavan Tolgoi deposits. JP Morgan Deutsche Bank are likely to have been short-listed last week in signing a contract with the Mongolia Government. Global mining companies, including Japanese Itochu and Mitsui corporations; Chinese Shenhua Energy Company; Indian Jundal Steel and Power Limited; Australian BHP Billiton; US-based Peabody energy; Brazilian Vale's Rio de Janeiro; and South Korean Sojitz corporation, have all expressed interest on becoming potential clients. In addition, three Russian companies and a Korean consortium of 11 corporations are competing for stakes in the deposit. ^ 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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