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
  23.2-27.2.2009, No. 257  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

Chinese President to meet with Obama in London (Xinhua)
Beijing - Chinese President Hu Jintao will meet for the first time with U.S. President Barack Obama during a G20 summit in London in April, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said here Saturday. The meeting between Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Barack Obama will be of great significance, Yang said, adding that both countries are to make earnest preparation for the meeting. […]. ^ top ^

FM: China to have human rights dialogue with U.S. (Xinhua)
Beijing - China will conduct dialogues on human rights issues with the U.S. on the basis of mutual respect and noninterference in each other's internal affairs, said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Saturday. "Although differences exist, China is willing to conduct the dialogues with the U.S. to push forward the human rights situation on the premise of mutual respect and noninterference in each other's internal affairs," Yang said. […]. ^ top ^

Russia 'regrets' deaths after sinking ship (SCMP)
Russia says it regrets the deaths of seven Chinese sailors after its border guards bombarded and sank a Chinese cargo ship, blaming the incident on the Indonesian captain. Beijing voiced "strong dissatisfaction" last week over the Russian military's sinking of the ship, the New Star, near Vladivostok. […] Mainland newspapers reported that a Russian warship shot 500 rounds into the New Star, owned by Hong Kong-based J-Rui Lucky Shipping, on February 15. […] "The captain acted extremely irresponsibly, deliberately violating the law of the Russian Federation and putting in jeopardy the safety of the crew of the ship," the Russian Foreign Ministry said, adding he "should bear responsibility". The captain has been charged with illegally crossing Russia's border, an offence punishable by up to two years in jail. ^ top ^

Beijing has little choice but to keep investing in US Treasury bonds (SCMP)
With Beijing and Washington stressing that they are both in the same boat and rowing in the same direction, there is renewed hope that Sino-US relations are entering a new era of greater pragmatism and active co-operation. To the bitter disappointment of activists at home and abroad, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made it clear that both countries would work more closely to tackle the global economic crisis and climate change, and that these challenges would take precedence over US disputes with China on human rights. This should come as a relief to the Chinese leadership as it faces a year full of sensitive anniversaries, including the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on student protests in Tiananmen Square and the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibet uprising. […] Washington's approach partly reflects a shift in the context of Sino-US relations, one in which it used to hold more bargaining chips over Beijing and dictated the agenda. The Global Times, a hawkish sister publication of the People's Daily that trumpets the views of the nationalist movement on the mainland, quoted analysts as saying that the years of Washington setting the terms of bilateral ties were probably over, and it was time for China to voice its own demands more forcefully, since Washington had more favours to ask of Beijing. One of those favours is a request for China to continue to invest in US Treasury bonds to finance the American economy, particularly as Washington tries to raise more debt to pay for its US$787 billion stimulus package. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese leaders' foreign tours boost world peace, development (Xinhua)
Beijing - The visits by Chinese leaders to developing nations in Africa, Latin America and Asia at the beginning of the Chinese lunar new year were highlighted by the international media and conveyed far-reaching significance to the world. Chinese President Hu Jintao concluded visits to four African nations and Saudi Arabia on Feb. 17, and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping finished his tour to five Latin American nations and Malta on Feb. 22. During the visits, made at a time when the effects of the international financial crisis is being felt worldwide, the Chinese leaders and leaders of the host countries enhanced political trust, promoted friendship, and reached consensus on strengthening economic and trade ties as well as deepening reciprocal cooperation. More than 20 agreements were signed between China and the five host nations during Hu's tour, covering fields such as trade, investment and infrastructure. Many bilateral agreements, aimed at boosting all-around partnerships in cooperation with Latin American nations, were also signed during Xi's trip. […] In Africa, Hu pledged that China, within its ability, would continue to increase aid and grant debt relief to African countries and broaden trade and investments in the continent. […] Hu extended support for the African Union's participation in the G20 summit, called for more representation of developing nations in the international economic and financial fields, and stressed the need for the international community to be concerned about and try to minimize the suffering of developing countries, especially the least developed countries, in the current crisis. […]. ^ top ^

China opposes U.S. commitment to Taiwan Relations Act (Xinhua)
Beijing - China voiced strong dissatisfaction and lodged solemn representations to the United States regarding a resolution by some U.S. Congress members who called for marking the 30th anniversary of the so-called Taiwan Relations Act. "Despite China's clear opposition, a handful of representatives from the U.S. Congress insisted on proposing a resolution to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu in a press release Wednesday. Ma said it is known to all that the "so-called" Taiwan Relations Act, enacted unilaterally by the United States, had gravely violated the basic norms guiding international relations. It also violated the United States' serious commitment to China and intervened in China's internal affairs. […] "We urge the U.S. to abide by the basic norms guiding international relations and the principles enshrined in the three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués, not to deliberate and pass the resolution in any form, and properly and prudently handle the Taiwan issue so as to avoid any negative impact on Sino-U.S. relations," Ma said. […]. ^ top ^

China, Germany sign procurement deals worth around 11 bln euros (Xinhua)
Berlin - A Chinese business delegation, led by Commerce Minister Chen Deming, signed here on Wednesday a total of 37 procurement deals worth around 11 billion euros (14 billion U.S. dollars) with German companies. According to Chen, the 37 deals are composed of two parts -- purchasing contracts, and cooperation agreements which need further negotiations. The deals focus on engineering equipment, electronics and auto vehicles like Mercedes and BMW, Chen told a press conference. A draft deal obtained by Xinhua showed that the Chinese side agreed to buy around 37,000 BMW cars and Mini worth 2.2 billion U.S. dollars, as well as 27,000 units of Mercedes cars. […] Chen said the procurement deals reflect China's sincere objection to trade protectionism, adding that opening the market is the proper approach to address the global economic recession. […]. ^ top ^

EU-China leaders to meet in May (SCMP)
Chinese and European leaders will meet in Prague in May, reviving a summit called off late last year over Beijing's anger with France, state media reported yesterday. […] Beijing has yet to confirm the summit date. When Premier Wen Jiabao visited Europe in January, he agreed to hold the meeting "soon". […]. ^ top ^

Looted Chinese relics sold for 14 million euros each (People's Daily)
Paris - Two controversial ancient Chinese relics were auctioned off on Wednesday night for 14 million euros (17.92 million U.S. dollars) each by anonymous telephone bidders in Christie's sale of the collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge in the Grand Palace of Paris. […] Christie's refused to disclose who were the bidders at a press conference afterward. […] The Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris ruled against stopping the sale of the two bronzes on Monday, and the Association for the protection of Chinese Art in Europe (APACE) was ordered to pay compensation to the defendant. […] The Chinese government formally called on Tuesday for the cancellation of the auction of the two bronzes. "The State Administration of Cultural Heritage has formally informed the auctioneer of our strong opposition to the auction, and clearly demanded its cancellation," said Ma Chaoxu, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman in a press conference. "Using the pretext of human rights to infringe on the Chinese people's fundamental cultural rights is just ridiculous," Ma said. […]. ^ top ^

China lodges stern representation to Japan over Japanese PM's remarks on Diaoyu Islands (People's Daily)
Beijing - China on Thursday voiced strong dissatisfaction and lodged a stern representation to Japan over Prime Minister Taro Aso's remarks that the Diaoyu Islands are Japanese territory. The Diaoyu Islands and adjacent islets had been Chinese territories since ancient times, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a press release. China held "indisputable" sovereignty over the islands. "Any words and deeds by Japan attempting to change the fact are futile, and China stands firmly opposed to it," he said. China and Japan disputed sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands, and China has consistently advocated that the issue should be properly resolved through negotiation, said Ma. […]. ^ top ^

China inks trade deals with Swiss companies (Xinhua)
Zurich, Switzerland - A Chinese business delegation inked trade deals worth more than 300 million U.S. dollars with Swiss companies on Thursday, ending the second leg of their four-state procurement tour in Europe. The agreements covered products ranging from software to electric equipments and metals, which meet China's domestic needs, according to Chinese trade officials. Among those agreements, Switzerland's ABB, a global leader in power and automation technologies, signed a letter of intent for the supply of generator circuit breakers to China Nuclear Power Engineering Company. Switzerland's Glencore, one of the world's largest suppliers of a wide range of commodities and raw materials to industrial consumers, also signed a deal with Chinalco, the world's second largest alumina producer and the third largest primary aluminum producer. Holcim, one of the world's leading suppliers of cement and aggregates based in Switzerland, deepened its partnership with China's Huaxin Cement Company (HCC). They signed a frame agreement for technical service, technology and new equipment supplies covering the next two years. […] Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, who led the delegation, said that besides this team, there will be more Chinese business delegations coming to Switzerland for trade and investment opportunities. Swiss Economy Minister Doris Leuthard revealed that a Swiss business group will also go to China within the year. […] In 2008, bilateral trade between China and Switzerland reached 11.25 billion U.S. dollars, increasing 19.2 percent despite the economic downturn. China is now Switzerland's second […] Earlier today, Leuthard and Chen signed a memorandum on the intensification of technical cooperation in the field of environmental technology. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese firms sign $320 mln purchase deals in Spain (People's Daily)
Madrid - A Chinese business delegation signed more than 20 procurement deals with Spanish firms in Madrid on Thursday which are worth 320 million U.S. dollars. The contracts and agreements covered a wide range of industrial and agricultural commodities, including aircraft simulators, auto parts, steel, wool, marble, seafood, olive oil, wine and ham. […]. ^ top ^

US told to stop acting as rights guardian - Beijing rejects claim of worsening abuses (SCMP)
China told the United States yesterday to stop acting as a human rights arbiter after Washington accused Beijing of having a worsening rights record. "We urge the US side to reflect on its own human rights problems, to stop acting as a human rights guardian," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said. China "firmly opposes any country using human rights as an excuse to interfere in China's internal affairs", Dr Ma said. "We respectfully urge the United States to ... stop using the issuance of the human rights report to interfere in other countries' internal affairs." He was reacting to Wednesday's release of the annual US State Department report, which sharply criticised Beijing on human rights one week after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton soft-pedalled rights concerns during a visit to Beijing. […] "The Chinese government increased detention and harassment of dissidents, petitioners, human rights defenders and defence lawyers," it said, adding the abuses had peaked around high-profile events such as the Beijing Olympics last August. "Other serious human rights abuses included extrajudicial killings, torture and coerced confessions of prisoners, and the use of forced labour, including prison labour." […]. ^ top ^

Sino-U.S. Military Dialogue Resumes (China Daily)
Military dialogue between China and the U.S. resumes Friday with a two-day mid-level talk in Beijing, setting the tone for bilateral military ties between China and Barack Obama's administration. Analysts expected both sides to discuss their security concerns–the core interests of which remain distinct–while trying to draft a timeline for formally recommencing military exchanges. The exchanges were halted last October, following a proposal to sell $6.5 billion of arms to Taiwan made in the Bush administration's twilight period. "The talk will reaffirm the importance of the military-to-military relationship and its mutual benefit," Bonnie Glaser, senior associate with the U.S.-based Center for Strategic & International Studies, said. […]. ^ top ^

State Council hits back (SCMP)
Beijing hit back at the United States yesterday with its own report on the US human rights record, calling it a hypocritical power. "The US practice of throwing stones at others while living in a glass house is a testimony to the double standard and hypocrisy of the United States in dealing with human rights issues," the State Council's information office said in its report on the US human rights record. Xinhua said the report "was in retaliation to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2008 issued by the US State Department on February 25". It blasted Washington for using human rights as a tool to "interfere with and demonise other nations". "The US has turned a blind eye to its own violations of human rights," the report released by Beijing said. […] It also noted an increasing number of restrictions had been imposed on civil rights. It cited the government surveillance on citizens' activities online, new legislation on government wiretapping last July, more cases of police abuse of force and a neglect of the basic rights of 2.3 million prisoners in the United States. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Senior Chinese military officer urges armed forces' obedience, preparedness (People's Daily)
Guangzhou - A senior military officer of China has called for the country's armed forces to show obedience to the Communist Party as the country faces severe economic challenges and new situations in national security. Guo Boxiong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the call during a recent inspection tour in Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong Province. Given the country's severe economic challenges and new security situations, the military forces should foster the core values of "be loyal to the Party, love the people, serve the nation, be devoted to the mission, and worship glory," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Party to strengthen supervision over leading officials (People's Daily)
Beijing - A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has called for strengthening education among and supervision over leading officials to make them role models in anti-corruption drive. […] Last year, discipline inspection and supervisory departments at different levels carried out investigation into 128,516 cases and closed 127,949 of them, punishing 133,951 persons in accordance to Party discipline and government rules, and transferring 4,518 to prosecutors for criminal investigation. In 2008, the authorities investigated 17,506 business-related bribery cases, involving 3.97 billion yuan (580 million U.S. dollars), He said in the report. […]. ^ top ^

Deadly disaster tarnishes coal mine's safety record - Praise heaped on state-of-the-art facilities in the past (SCMP)
Although investigators are still probing the exact cause of the deadly methane fire in which 74 people died at the Gujiao Tunlan Coal Mine in Shanxi province in the early hours of yesterday, the blast appears to have made a mockery of official claims over the state-of-the-art mining facilities and its safety record. For the past five years, the mainland media heaped praise on the Shanxi coal mine, just a few kilometres from the provincial capital, Taiyuan, for its advanced technology and a zero accident rate since 2004. […] Authorities have yet to identify the fire's cause, saying only the blast was a result of an unusual concentration of methane in a shaft. […] Coal mines on the mainland are among the deadliest in the world and official statistics suggest that 80 per cent of the country's 16,000 mines are small, illegal operations. […]. ^ top ^

Public probe into prison death faulted and praised (SCMP)
Yunnan propaganda authorities have hailed the work of a netizens' "independent investigation" into the mysterious death of a man in detention as a breakthrough in transparency. But legal experts say the move raises concerns about interventions in the justice system. Li Qiaoming, a 24-year-old resident from Yuxi city, Yunnan province, was taken into custody at the Yining county detention house for the illegal felling of trees on January 27. On February 8, he was found with serious injuries and died from a wound to his head in hospital four days later, according to mainland media. Custody officers claimed Li hit his head on a wall playing a game of hide-and-seek with other inmates […] The case has been headline news and generated heated public discussion, especially among a large number of angry netizens who called for an investigation. To quell the public outcry, Yunnan propaganda authorities invited a group of netizens to visit the detention centre last week and listen to the police explanation. In their report on Saturday, the group said they had no evidence to challenge the police conclusion that Li had died playing a game of hide-and-seek. […] Beijing media lawyer Pu Zhiqiang said he doubted that such an organised investigation could be balanced and independent, and that the investigation itself was "an illegal action which couldn't disclose the truth but was just an intervention in the judicial process". […]. ^ top ^

Earthquake leaves 331 families homeless in NW China (Xinhua)
Beijing - At least 331 families have been left homeless by a 5.2-magnitude earthquake that hit northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Friday, the government announced Monday. The Ministry of Civil Affairs said the quake damaged the homes of another 5,613 households and caused total direct losses of 148 million yuan (21.76 million U.S. dollars) in the remote region that takes up roughly a sixth of China's territory. […] The autonomous region government has sent 400 sets of bedding to Kalpin county with 40 tents and three tonnes of food from its Aksu Prefecture. Akqi County has collected 600 sets of coats, quilts and shoes for the those affected by the quake, according to the ministry. ^ top ^

Forests in China increase by 60 million mu per year (People's Daily)
At present, 100 million mu of forest area are lost every year in the world, however, the average annual forest area increase in China reaches 60 million mu, making China the fastest growing country in the world in terms of the forest resources. According to the State Forestry Administration last year, an area of 71.57 million mu was afforested in China, 2.31 billion trees were planted by volunteers, while the urban green coverage ratio in China reached 35.1 percent. […]. ^ top ^

China to build training "base" for job-hunting college students (People's Daily)
The Chinese government is to build a "base" in the eastern Shandong Province to offer vocational training for college students from around the country, the Ministry of Science and Technology announced Monday. The base, to be completed in five years, is to cover 125 hectares with an investment of 12 billion yuan (1.7 billion U.S. dollars). Zhang Jing'an, an official with the ministry, said, "The place will not only offer training, but also serve as an experimental base for students to start their own businesses." The base would offer training in high-technology areas, such as information technology, new materials, alternative energy, environmental protection and energy conservation, Zhang said. […]. ^ top ^

Top official fired over pyramids 'study trip' (SCMP)
The government has sacked a senior official for misconduct after internet users uploaded a video of a delegation enjoying a tour of the pyramids in Egypt on a government-funded "study" trip, mainland media reported yesterday. Overseas "study" trips have long been a perk enjoyed by mainland bureaucrats, with travel itineraries often skewed more towards pleasure than business. Internet-led witch-hunts by mainland Web surfers, known as "human flesh search engines", have gleefully exposed a string of officials enjoying excessive leisure time on the public purse, leading to media criticism and sackings. A post titled "Overseas study or overseas travel?" that spread across mainland portals in recent days shows a video of 13 public servants from Zhaoqing, Guangdong province, living it up on a 14-day tour to Africa and the Middle East in 2007. Apart from visiting the pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt, the 17-minute video posted on a blog on shows them touring Table Mountain in Cape Town, riding jeeps in the desert and visiting an ostrich farm. One scene shows officials laughing and dancing with models on a catwalk in Istanbul. Another shows them touring Dubai's iconic Burj Al Arab hotel. […] The delegation, led by a Duanzhou district Communist Party official, also included officials of the local government's finance and legal affairs bureau and "discipline and inspection" office, the department responsible for checks and balances. […]. ^ top ^

Officials trained to tackle jobless unrest (SCMP)
Mainland authorities were training thousands of security officials to get them ready for possible social unrest as millions of rural workers are laid off amid a sharp economic slowdown, a government ministry said yesterday. Government concerns about unrest have risen in recent months as the economic crunch deepens and more than 20 million rural migrant workers have lost their jobs. Layoffs have already led workers in some cities to take to the streets in protest at factory shutdowns or to demand back pay. More than 3,000 public security directors will be trained in Beijing by mid-June to improve responses to threats to public security in the provinces, a statement on the Ministry of Public Security's website said. […]. ^ top ^

NPC to focus on spurring domestic spending (SCMP)
President Hu Jintao has set the tone for next week's annual meeting of the National People's Congress where the country's political elite will gather to discuss policy, saying that the government must focus on "spurring domestic consumption" to offset the sharp fall in exports. A Politburo meeting, presided over by Mr Hu, also asked the State Council to increase infrastructure investment, build a better social safety net, improve living standards and secure a reasonable level of growth, China Central Television's evening news bulletin said. The meeting effectively outlined the main elements in the work report which Premier Wen Jiabao would deliver to the NPC next week. Political advisers from around the country will gather in Beijing on March 3 for the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, followed two days later by top lawmakers for the start of the NPC's annual meeting. While the NPC lacks independence and real power, its annual meeting is still an important occasion during which state leaders wheel out important measures and build consensus for major political objectives. Mr Hu's speech yesterday showed that the economy and social stability would be the overriding themes at this year's NPC meeting. On March 5, the NPC will review Mr Wen's government report, before voting on it on the meeting's final day. […]. ^ top ^

Official says water, air pollution in China still serious (People's Daily)
Shanghai - Lakes, rivers and the air in many places in China are still polluted, some seriously, in spite of continuous efforts to control pollution, a Chinese environmental official said Tuesday. […] For monitoring particulate matter and sulfur dioxide as major air pollutants, the China Environmental Monitoring Center classifies air quality in urban areas into five levels, ranging from level I or excellent, level III or slightly polluted, to level V or hazardous. A national report on China's environment, issued by the ministry on November last year, said among some 320 cities of prefecture level and above, air quality of 39.5 percent of the cities averaged at level III or lower. China also classifies water quality in major rivers and lakes into six levels, ranging from level I, which is good enough to be used as the source of drinking water, to level VI which is too polluted to be used even for farm irrigation. The quality of the water sampled in almost one fourth of the monitoring stations set up along major rivers such as the Yangtze River and the Yellow River averaged at level VI, according to the document. Pollution in 28 major lakes, such as the Taihu Lake and the Dianchi Lake, remained serious, with the quality of almost 40 percent of the water was at level VI. Waters in urban regions were also facing serious pollution, with 90 percent of river water and half of underground water polluted. […]. ^ top ^

Fading hope of home - A minister may take the fight for right of return by ageing June 4 dissidents to The Hague (SCMP)
A Hong Kong minister is leading a campaign to persuade Beijing to allow more than 500 people exiled because of the 1989 protests to return home - and may take the case to the International Court of Justice if the central government refuses. The Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, a Baptist minister in Chai Wan, is leading the "I Want to Go Home Movement" to try to get Beijing to alter its hard line of refusing the right of the exiles to return and to renew their Chinese passports. "Many of these democratic activists are getting old," Mr Chu said. "Returning home is their right. Their motherland has no reason to reject its own citizens. This right of return should be unconditional. The government should not demand they write self-criticisms or statements of apology." […]. ^ top ^

Report: China needs $839 bln to establish nationwide social welfare system by 2020 (Xinhua)
Beijing - A government think tank said China had to invest 5.74 trillion yuan (839.35 billion U.S. dollars) by 2020 in constructing an all-round social welfare system to enhance people's livelihood. The figure is estimated in a report released Thursday by the China Development Research Foundation, an organization set up in 1997 by the Development Research Center of the State Council to support and promote policy consultation and academic research in China. […] The report said the amount needed by 2020 includes 1.37 trillion yuan for pension security, 1.03 trillion yuan for health care, 1.96 trillion yuan for education, 700 billion yuan for housing, 120 billion yuan for employment, 270 billion yuan for minimum living standard security, and 280 billion yuan for people in need of special aids. […]. ^ top ^

Helicopters scan capital as protests gear up ahead of major meetings of political elite (SCMP)
Police in Beijing have started to send helicopters to patrol the capital daily in the lead-up to two important meetings of the national political elite next week. The openings of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference have become lightning rods for people hoping their grievances will get an airing and injustice corrected. Over the past few days, small-scale protests have already broken out in Beijing. Perhaps the most eye-catching happened on Wednesday, when three people set themselves on fire near Tiananmen Square. Yesterday a man managed to evade tight security and staged a protest in front of more than 100 journalists outside the State Council's press office. The middle-aged man climbed on top of a traffic-sign pole as the journalists walked out of the building after a government press conference, a witness said. Shouting "give back my political rights" and "give back people's political rights", the man waved a cardboard sign with slogans to the crowd. Police removed him after 50 minutes. […] Apart from a few lines from Xinhua about the burning car, mainland media largely ignored both protests. Mr Zhang said mainland authorities managed to keep dissidents and discontented people quiet last year for the Beijing Olympics, but it would be hard to maintain the same level of "social harmony" this year. […]. ^ top ^

Organized crime increases in 2008 (China Daily)
Organized crime saw a sharp increase in the country last year despite a government campaign to crack down on criminal gangs, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) said yesterday. Chinese courts received 473 cases of organized crime last year, a year-on-year increase of 27 percent. […] More than 2,310 convicts, or 47 percent, have either been sentenced to death or five years or more in prison. […]. ^ top ^



HK to provide additional funding to provide more jobs (Xinhua)
Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) John Tsang said on Wednesday the government would provide additional funding to provide various types of jobs. Delivering the budget for the fiscal year 2009-2010 at the Legislative Council, Tsang said he would provide an additional 1.1 billion HK dollars non-recurrent funding to provide various types of jobs. According to Tsang, the measures include introducing a two-year "Operation Building Bright" campaign for maintenance of 1,000 dilapidated buildings. The campaign will create 10,000 jobs in the next two years. […]. ^ top ^



Dissent muted as Macau's security bill glides into law (SCMP)
Macau lawmakers yesterday approved a controversial national security bill as some residents rallied outside the legislature building to support its passage. The legislation, based on Article 23 of Macau's Basic Law, met little opposition when lawmakers voted on its clauses. […] The Macau security law seeks to prohibit treason, secession, sedition and subversion against the central government, or theft of state secrets. It also seeks to prohibit foreign political bodies from conducting activities and establishing ties with regional groups. […]. ^ top ^



Mainland, Taiwan to start two-way postal remittance services on Feb. 26 (People's Daily)
The Chinese mainland and Taiwan will start two-way postal remittance services on Thursday for the first time in 60 years, Fan Liqing, spokeswoman of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office said here Wednesday.^ top ^

Mainland offers financing support to Taiwan-funded companies amid downturn (Xinhua)
Beijing - The mainland will offer 130 billion yuan (about 19 billion U.S. dollars) worth of financing support over the next three years to Taiwan-funded companies to help them tide over the economic downturn, a mainland official told reporters here Wednesday. Fan Liqing, the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman, said the funds will be channeled through major banks, such as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which had extended more than 4 billion yuan in credit to more than 500 Taiwan-funded companies that operate on the mainland as of January. […].^ top ^

Judges decline to release Chen (SCMP)
Crestfallen former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian was taken back to the detention centre where he has been held since December after judges rejected a plea to release him. The third day of the pretrial hearing in Chen's corruption case saw a dramatic twist yesterday in Taipei District Court when Judge Tsai Shou-hsun suspended the proceedings to hold a hearing over Chen's release. "Considering the request of the defendant and his lawyers, we have decided to end the pretrial session as of now and proceed to discuss whether to continue to detain the defendant or release him," said Judge Tsai, who heads the three-judge panel trying Chen. […].^ top ^



Beijing pledges to keep Tibet's economy afloat with investments (SCMP)
The central government has vowed to keep Tibet's economy afloat by making huge state investments, Xinhua reported ahead of the Tibetan New Year today. With the sensitive anniversary of a failed uprising against communist rule 50 years ago approaching, Beijing is eager to cushion the restive region from the impact of the present economic turmoil. […] The central government has promised 180 infrastructure projects, with a price tag of nearly 80 billion yuan (HK$90.8 billion), from 2006 to 2010 in Tibet. These projects included the Qinghai-Tibet Railway extension line, the world's highest airport in Ngari, the region's fourth civilian airport, and drinking water, electricity and communications projects. […]. ^ top ^

Tibetans stay home amid tight security on 'black' New Year (SCMP)
Spectacular fireworks lit up the cold, dark skies over Lhasa, but there were few cheers in the deserted streets of the ancient plateau city. "I have never seen a bleaker and more miserable Tibetan New Year in the past two decades," a taxi driver said dryly. […] Despite the government's best efforts to paint a warm and cheerful atmosphere - fireworks shows were staged at night, and carefully organised celebrations performed - most residents in the regional capital shunned the streets. The usually tourist-crowded plazas and temples were deserted. Few outsiders showed up in Lhasa as all Tibetans living outside the city were barred from entering. Foreigners are not allowed to visit the region ahead of the sensitive anniversary next month that marks the failed uprising against communist rule 50 years ago. […] While Beijing is eager to portray a happy and cheerful New Year, the authorities are leaving nothing to chance - particularly as the memory of last year's riots are still fresh. […] Fully equipped armed police patrolled the area in small squads, wielding machine guns and tear-gas guns. Snipers carrying long-range rifles could be seen on higher ground at the Jokhang Monastery, keeping watch on the crowds with binoculars. Nine out of the 10 shops in Barkhor Street were closed on Wednesday, leaving an eerie silence hanging in the air. […] Although no official curfew was declared, civil servants and employees of state-owned enterprises in Lhasa said they had been warned not to go out after 8pm. All entertainment venues, which used to operate overnight, had been told to close before 2am. A security source said authorities were confident no riots would break out in Lhasa this time. "Any conspiracy to sabotage the city's public security will not succeed. We have a much stronger force [than last March] in place to safeguard people's lives and their properties," he said. […]. ^ top ^



Economist: China to post 8% GDP growth this year (Xinhua)
Beijing - Lian Ping, chief economist of Bank of Communications, China's fifth largest commercial lender, said Sunday that the Chinese economy is expected to pick up speed starting from the second quarter this year. The Shanghai-based bank predicted China could register a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of about 8 percent this year. "Judging by some economic indicators, the Chinese economy is getting out of the toughest period," Lian told reporters at a press conference. […] The country's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) of the manufacturing sector rose to 45.3 in January from 41.2 in December. […]. ^ top ^

Big-10 plan to gear up car makers (Xinhua)
Beijing - China hopes to cut the number of its major auto makers from 14 to 10 and increase the market share of domestic-brand vehicles in a consolidation push designed to enhance the competitiveness of a stalling industry. The plan, which is part of a larger auto industry stimulus package announced earlier, seeks to create two to three powerhouse auto makers with annual sales and production capacity of 2 million units and another four to five car companies with the ability to sell 1 million vehicles every year, two officials from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers told Shanghai Daily yesterday. ^ top ^

China announces stimulus plans for nonferrous metals, logistics (Xinhua)
Beijing - China's State Council on Wednesday announced support plans for the country's nonferrous metals and logistics sectors. Presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, Cabinet members agreed to promote company restructuring and will offer subsidized loans to support technical innovations within the nonferrous metals sector. The export rebate rates of nonferrous products should be adjusted, said the Cabinet without elaborating. […]. ^ top ^

Report: China energy consumption per unit GDP falls 4.59% in 2008 (People's Daily)
Beijing - China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in its annual report Thursday that the energy consumption per unit gross domestic product (GDP) fell 4.59 percent in 2008 as the government vowed to improve energy efficiency. […] The Chinese government vowed to reduce energy consumption per 10,000 yuan GDP by 20 percent in the five-year period from 2006 to2010. The figure in 2007 stood at 3.66 percent. […]. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea
China, DPRK sign three-year cultural exchange agreement (Xinhua)
Beijing - China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) signed an agreement for a three-year cultural exchange program, it was announced here Thursday. The agreement was announced as Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong met with Mun Jae Chol, who led a DPRK cultural delegation to Beijing. Neither side released details of the program. […]. ^ 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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