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
  2.3-6.3.2009, No. 258  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

Trade team spends $13b in Europe (China Daily)
A high-powered trade delegation ended its European shopping trip over the weekend, signing deals worth more than US$13 billion in four countries. "The trip demonstrates China's commitment to open its market and oppose trade protectionism," Chen Deming, the minister of commerce and delegation head, was quoted as saying by Xinhua. "The procurement will help countries tide over the current difficulties and push the global economy on to the road of recovery," Chen said. The delegation, which had representatives from more than 150 enterprises and industry associations, visited four countries: Germany, Switzerland, Spain and the United Kingdom. […] "The $13 billion may not be a huge amount, but it showcased China as a responsible developing nation at a time when some other countries are resorting to trade protectionism policies amid the financial crisis," said Feng Lei, a researcher with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. […]. ^ top ^

India eases ban on Chinese toys (Xinhua)
New Delhi - India Monday lifted the one month ban on Chinese toys, after the country's toy dealers became angry over the ban and said they are threatened with going out of business. Indian Minister of Industry and Commerce Kamal Nath signed the order lifting the ban, said officials of the ministry, adding that the lift came into effect as of mid-day Monday. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce said in a public notice that China could resume toy exports to India on condition that the products conform to the standards prescribed in regulations which primarily deal with safety and health hazards. […]. ^ top ^

China donates $2.2 mln for Gaza reconstruction (People's Daily)
Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt - The Chinese special envoy on the Middle East issue Sun Bigan announced here Monday the Chinese government pledged to donate 15 million RMB (2.2 million U.S. dollars) for the reconstruction of the Palestinian war-battered Gaza Strip. […] "China will continue to support and join in international efforts on promoting peace (in the Middle East), and make contribution to the Middle East peace cause," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese navy fleet warns of danger in Gulf of Aden (People's Daily)
Gulf of Aden - The commander of the Chinese naval fleet that is patrolling in the Gulf of Aden on Monday warned that piracy remains a problem in the gulf and urged passing ships to be on guard. […] In the past week alone, more than 100 raids by suspicious small ships occurred in the gulf. The Chinese cargo ship Yandanghai was attacked Feb. 25 by pirates in the gulf and two of its crewmembers were slightly injured. The Chinese fleet escorted the cargo ship to safe waters and helped treat the injured crewmembers after a Danish ship chased off the pirates. The fleet also rescued an Italian merchant ship from approaching pirates in the sea off Somalia last Thursday. […]. ^ top ^

Aso may visit Beijing this month (SCMP)
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso is considering visiting Beijing at the end of this month for talks with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, sources close to the plan say. The two governments are making final arrangements for the talks, the sources said. ^ top ^

Chinese Firms Seek to Invest in Europe (China Daily)
A high-level Chinese business delegation is set to travel to Europe this weekend to explore investment avenues - close on the heels of a trade team which returned to Beijing last weekend. Officials in the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said the team will be mainly looking at investment and merger and acquisition (M&A) opportunities in the first mission of its kind to western Europe. The most likely targets are companies competitive in manufacturing, clean energy and environmental protection, Beijing-based trade specialists said. Given the market volatility, financial service companies are unlikely to be on the shopping list, they said. […] That trip covered four European countries - Switzerland, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Spain - and resulted in a slew of Chinese orders worth more than $13 billion. […]. ^ top ^

Spokesman: China increases aid to developing countries despite crisis (Xinhua)
Beijing - China has not scaled back but is increasing its aid to developing countries despite the global financial crisis, said a parliament spokesman Wednesday. "We cherish more the solidarity and cooperation between us and other developing countries as the international financial crisis hit developing economies hard," said Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the Second Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), at a press conference. He said while striving for good, stable development of its own economy and society, China will fulfill its related agreements with other countries and do what in its power to help developing countries in difficulties. […]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Major oil field found in north China (Xinhua)
Hohhot - An oil field with reserves of about 100 million tonnes has been found in Siziwang Banner in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, where the Shenzhou-7 space module landed last year. Experts said the oil field has workable reserves of 35 million to 40 million tonnes. The Siziwang Banner government will invest 20 million yuan (2.9million U.S. dollars) in the first half of this year to set up five exploratory shafts for further exploration. […]. ^ top ^

Officials banned from trips overseas on public money - Travel restrictions designed to protect image of the party (SCMP)
The central government issued a strongly worded ban yesterday prohibiting officials from taking publicly funded overseas trips or sightseeing junkets. In a circular jointly issued by the Communist Party's Central Committee and the State Council, Beijing said the ban was aimed at protecting "the positive image of the party and government" and maintaining social stability. "Chiefs and heads at various levels of government must set themselves up as good examples, practise strict self-discipline and play a leading role ... in choosing not to organise or participate in overseas travel and sightseeing funded by public spending," the decree said, according to Xinhua. The decree requires all overseas travel by officials to be strictly reviewed and states that under no circumstances can such trips be handed out as a bonus or reward. It also states that funds for overseas missions must be managed as a separate item in the government budget and put under close scrutiny. "[The ban] is meant to effectively uphold an excellent image of the party and government, and better unify and lead the people to cope with the impact and difficulties caused by the global financial crisis ... and push for social harmony and stability." […]. ^ top ^

Health official: compensation work for China's tainted milk victims concluded (People's Daily)
Work to compensate children suffering from melamine-tainted Sanlu milk powder has concluded, said a senior Chinese health official Monday. Health department officials nationwide would continue visiting sick children and help them receive medical care, said Chen Xiaohong, Vice Health Minister, at a press conference. But Health Ministry sources refused to give detailed information about how many families were compensated or how much they received. […] According to the Health Ministry, 296,000 children were affected by milk powder. […] The fund allows a family whose child died of tainted milk powder 200,000 yuan. Those seriously affected will get 30,000 yuan (4,348 dollars) each and those less seriously affected 2,000 yuan (289 dollars). […]. ^ top ^

China to land probe on moon at latest in 2013 (Xinhua)
Beijing - China plans to land Chang'e-3 on the moon at latest in 2013, Ye Peijian, chief designer of Chang'e-1, the country's first moon probe, said here Monday. The mission of Chang'e-3 is to make soft landing and probe the moon, said Ye, a member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body. Before the mission, Chang'e-2 will be launched at the latest in2011 to test key technologies of soft landing and lower technical risks, he said. The timetable was revealed as China concluded the first phase of its three-stage moon mission with a controlled impact of Chang'e-1 on the moon Sunday. Ye said China's three-stage moon mission could be defined as "orbiting", "landing" and "returning". […]. ^ top ^

I won't pay for looted bronze heads, says bidder (SCMP)
A mainland collector had the art world in an uproar yesterday after saying he was the winning bidder for two looted bronze animal heads at a Christie's auction in Paris last week but had no intention of paying for them. Cai Mingchao, who also owns an auction company in Xiamen, did not give a clear explanation at a press conference in Beijing on why he made the bogus bid. "I was thinking at the time - every Chinese national should stand up to the occasion, and I had the opportunity so I only tried to fulfil my duty," said the collector, who also serves as an adviser to China's Lost Cultural Relics Recovery Programme, a group that tries to repatriate looted Chinese art. "But I must stress that I won't pay the money," he added, without giving any details. […] Christie's Hong Kong public relations manager Gillian Leung said the firm had abided by a code of confidentiality so she could not confirm whether Mr Cai was the actual buyer of the artefacts, nor whether he was liable for a fine. "But we do normally require an ID check and bank statement from the potential buyer," she said. ^ top ^

China's labor disputes last year nearly double of 2007 (Xinhua)
Beijing - China's labor dispute lawsuits nearly doubled last year over 2007 because of the economic downturn and the new Labor Contract Law's adoption, a Supreme People's Court (SPC) senior official said Monday. The national figure increased by 95 percent year-on-year and the number nearly tripled in some eastern and southern coastal cities during the period, SPC executive vice-president Shen Deyong was quoted by Tuesday's China Daily as saying. […] Shen said the current global financial crisis is one cause of the drastic increase. "Many companies fired employees, cut salaries and bonuses, or encouraged staff to take leave without pay to cut costs in face of the economic downturn," he said. "That caused many disputes." […]. ^ top ^

Oasis blames Tibet controversy for cancellation of mainland gigs (SCMP)
A row has broken out over the sudden cancellation of two concerts by the British rock band Oasis in Beijing and Shanghai, and the band says the reason is its links to the Free Tibet movement more than 10 years ago. But their mainland-based promoter for the two shows - scheduled for next month - attributed the cancellation to "cash-flow" and internal problems. The mainland promoter refused to comment on the Tibet link. The Manchester rockers were scheduled to make their mainland debut at Beijing's Capital Arena on April 3 and at the Shanghai Grand Theatre on April 5, two days ahead of a gig at AsiaWorld-Arena in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong show has not been affected by the cancellations. […]. ^ top ^

Delegates obey 'be quiet and sit tight' rule (SCMP)
Senior government officials and delegates to this year's session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference were told to "maintain meeting order" and be quiet on sensitive topics, instructions they appeared to obey to the letter. […] Delegates were also clearly told in meetings before the main gathering that they should avoid references to sensitive topics and not say anything that could distract media attention from the "constructive nature" of the conference. "All delegates were well informed about this rule before they entered the meeting hall," the source said. […] Environment Minister Pan Yue referred reporters to his ministry's spokesman for any environment- related questions, a situation that had rarely happened before, according to several reporters. Isolated by a pack of dissatisfied reporters, Mr Pan started to work his way out of trouble by talking about the mainland's environmental policies. Finance Minister Xie Xuren refused to take any questions after the meeting, and even detoured through an officials-only exit to escape the media. Newly appointed Health Ministry party boss Zhang Mao appeared extremely unhappy after reporters stopped him before the meeting. He shouted: "Don't disrupt me from attending my meeting." The government's reluctance to let delegates and officials talk comes as authorities face an uphill battle to revive the country's sluggish economy and fend off rising unemployment induced by the global economic recession. […]. ^ top ^

National pride hits a high note (SCMP)
The 2,100 or so delegates to the top advisory body had a moment of patriotism yesterday, as they sang the national anthem for the first time at the opening of a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Although some delegates may not recall the last time they sang the anthem, March of the Volunteers, they need not have worried - they all had at least a week to prepare. Wang Junfeng, a delegate from Beijing, said the organiser of the national conference sent out the lyrics to delegates so they could memorise them. "In the past, we just stood up and listened to the anthem being played by the military band. It's more meaningful now that we sing the anthem," he said. […]. ^ top ^

China to boost spending on welfare, medicare despite int'l financial turmoil (Xinhua)
Beijing - The Chinese government pledged on Thursday to increase spending on social programs including pension and medical reform in 2009 despite pressure from the international financial crisis. "The more difficulties we face, the greater attention we should pay to ensuring people's well-being and promoting social harmony and stability." according to a government work report to be delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao to the annual session of the parliament that will open here Thursday. The central government plans to spend 293 billion yuan (about 42.84 billion U.S. dollars) on the social safety net this year, up17.6 percent or 43.9 billion yuan over the estimated figure for last year, reads the report distributed to the media before the opening of the 11th National People's Congress. […] Economists said the lack of health insurance and social security is holding back China's economic development and the government's efforts to spur domestic demand, as people tend to clutch their purses tightly for unexpected disease, a laid-off, or old-age. ^ top ^

Dairy assets sold for 616m yuan (SCMP)
The core assets of the disgraced state-owned dairy giant Sanlu Group were bought by Beijing-based Sanyuan Foods yesterday for 616.5 million yuan (HK$700 million) in a five-minute auction held in a courthouse in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province. Sanlu was one of 22 mainland dairies whose products were found laced with the industrial chemical melamine in September. Six babies died and nearly 300,000 fell ill.Sanlu was declared bankrupt in February, and former chairman Tian Wenhua was jailed for life. […] Critics said the auction would make it impossible for affected families to obtain compensation from Sanlu. ^ top ^

China pledges more proactive employment policy, 42 bln-yuan support (People's Daily)
Beijing - China pledged Thursday it will implement an even more proactive employment policy this year and allocate 42 billion yuan to offset unemployment caused by the global financial crisis. To create more jobs, the government will make full use of the role of the service sector, labor-intensive industries, small and medium-sized enterprises, and the non-public sector of the economy, according to a government work report to be delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao at the opening of the Chinese parliament's annual session. "We will do everything in our power to stimulate employment," says the report distributed to media before the session. The report says priority will be given to finding jobs for university graduates and migrant workers. […] With its annual growth slowing to a seven-year low of 9 percent last year, China has seen about 20 million out of 130 million migrant workers returning to their rural homes without jobs. In addition, there will be 7.1 million college graduates seeking vacancies this year, including 1 million who failed to secure jobs last year. ^ top ^

Chinese gov't to raise grain purchase prices by 13% for farmers (People's Daily)
The Chinese government is to raise the average minimum procurement price for all grain products by 13 percent from last year, as policy makers try to mitigate the impact of the global economic crisis on rural farmers. That would generate more than 116 billion yuan (17 billion U.S. dollars) of cash income for the country's 700 million farmers, the equivalent of 500 yuan for each of the rural households, according to a China Daily report Thursday. […]. ^ top ^

Military spending to jump 14.9pc (SCMP)
The nation's military spending for this year will rise by 14.9 per cent despite a slowing economy amid global financial turmoil. National People's Congress spokesman Li Zhaoxing described the growth as modest and said other countries had no cause to worry as China was going to spend the money mostly on improving living conditions of servicemen, upgrading equipment and maintaining social stability. In a briefing on the annual parliamentary session that starts in Beijing today, Mr Li said the increase would bring the defence budget for the year to 480.7 billion yuan (HK$544.6 billion), up 62.5 billion yuan from last year. Mr Li said China's "limited military force" was for safeguarding state sovereignty and territorial integrity, and would not pose any threat to other countries. The People's Liberation Army is the largest fighting force in the world. […]. ^ top ^

China pledges hefty investment to boost agriculture (People's Daily)
China on Thursday pledged to spend an additional 120 billion yuan to boost the country's agriculture. Central government spending on agriculture, farmers and the rural areas would total 716.1 billion yuan (104.6 billion U.S. dollars) in 2009, a year-on-year increase of 120.6 billion yuan, said a government work report to be delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao at the Second Session of the 11th National People's Congress. Calling agriculture the "foundation of the economy", the report, distributed to the media before the opening of the session, says the investment is part of a package plan to ensure steady and rapid economic development amid the global financial crisis. The money would be used for construction of rural public facilities, expanded agricultural subsidies to farmers, subsidies for the purchase of agricultural machinery and tools, and spending on agricultural science and technologies. […]. ^ top ^

China's Shanxi uses unmanned aircraft to detect illegal coal mines (People's Daily)
Shanxi Province, which is China's major coal-producing region, detected illegal mining activity with unmanned aircraft, the provincial land and resources administration said Thursday. Two unmanned helicopters purchased last year were used in surveillance flights, with six specially-trained staff making 14 flights and exploring more than 2,000 square kilometers, the administration said. It did not say how many illegal mines were detected. […]. ^ top ^

Premier's assurance fails to convince worried consumers (SCMP)
Mainland consumers spooked by job insecurity and the tough economic times said they would continue to tighten their belts despite Premier Wen Jiabao's efforts to spur consumption. Many consumers were not convinced by the premier's assurance yesterday that domestic demand would be further boosted, saying that the economic slump showed no signs of abating. […] Data from Shanghai-based market research firm DDMA also showed that consumers were being cautious until they saw concrete evidence of the economy improving. The survey of 600 mid to upper-income consumers in big cities found that 44 per cent cut personal spending last month, up from 38 per cent in January. ^ top ^

China unveils massive stimulus plan amid global crisis; Premier calls for confidence (Xinhua)
Beijing - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Thursday called on the nation to strengthen "conviction for victory" as he unveiled an unprecedented stimulus package to shore up economic growth amid global downturn. In a work report to the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's parliament, Wen said China is facing "unprecedented difficulties and challenges" as economic growth slows, employment pressure mounts and social uncertainties increase in 2009, the most difficult year since the new millennium. […] The country, however, is "able to achieve" an economic growth at about 8 percent as long as right policies and appropriate measures are adopted and implemented, Wen said. […] In addition to a 4-trillion yuan (585.5 billion U.S. dollars) stimulus package that was announced in November, the premier also proposed a budgeted fiscal deficit of 950 billion yuan (139 billion U.S. dollars) for 2009, a record high in six decades and nearly three times over the last record of 319.8 billion yuan set in 2003. […] Other key economic and social targets included creating more than 9 million jobs in the city, controlling urban registered unemployment rate under 4.6 percent and keeping the rise of Consumer Price Index (CPI) at about 4 percent. […] Announcing a 42-billion-yuan central government investment to boost job opportunities, Wen said in his report "the government will do everything in its power to stimulate employment." […] While explaining the stimulus plan, Wen said the government will "give top priority to ensuring people's wellbeing and promote social harmony." He said a total of 908 billion yuan of the central government investment this year will go to projects aiming at improving people's life. Those projects covered low-income housing, education, health care, culture, environmental protection, and reconstruction in regions affected by the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan Province. […]. ^ top ^

Wen promises 130b yuan to build new homes in earthquake zone (SCMP)
Premier Wen Jiabao promised the central government would invest billions of yuan this year to build permanent homes for needy people affected by last year's earthquake. Sichuan officials said the investment in reconstruction would not only be a charitable act but would also help the nation's overall efforts to bolster the economy. In his speech to the National People's Congress yesterday, Mr Wen mentioned the earthquake and rebuilding efforts twice. "We will arrange for 130 billion yuan in investments this year to help rebuild homes and restore industries in Sichuan," he said. He said the rebuilding efforts in Sichuan were expected to be completed in two years rather than the previously stated three, and more than 95 per cent of students would be taking classes in permanent buildings rather than makeshift shelters by the end of the year. […]. ^ top ^

Progress on green goals 'not enough' (SCMP)
Government advisers and green campaigners expressed dismay at the lack of progress in tackling the mainland's worsening environment, despite Beijing's renewed pledges to combat climate change and pollution problems. Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday that severe pollution and high energy use remained big challenges despite the government's costly campaign to repair the environment. Speaking at the opening of the National People's Congress, he vowed Beijing would "unswervingly" push the anti-pollution drive and address climate change. But his renewed promises failed to cheer mainland environmentalists, who said the damage was a lot worse than Mr Wen has said and were unhappy with the government's inability to reverse the situation. […] According to Mr Wen, Beijing reported progress in curbing the emission of major pollutants and promoting energy efficiency last year, the second time since 2006. Energy use per unit of gross domestic product was cut by 4.59 per cent. Emissions of acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand (COD), two keys in measuring water pollution, fell by 5.95 per cent and 4.42 per cent respectively. […] Environmentalists said the addiction to coal and policy priority on maintaining high growth would make it much more difficult to meet the pollution control targets on time. ^ top ^

Health chief airs concerns about huge sums required for reforms (SCMP)
The mainland's health chief voiced concern yesterday about the mammoth sums of money that local governments will have to raise for medical reforms that Premier Wen Jiabao stressed were in the public interest. To smooth the way for the much-anticipated reforms, Mr Wen said in his annual work report that 850 billion yuan (HK$965 billion) would be injected into the system within three years. Beijing would come up with 331.8 billion yuan while the rest would come from grass-root governments, he said in his work report. In an interview with CCTV, Health Minister Chen Zhu said his biggest concern was that 520 billion yuan would have to come from local governments. "I think we need to show the greatest determination," Mr Chen said. […] Most of the 850 billion yuan will be used to expand the coverage of a basic medical insurance system - with government funding accounting for at least 80 per cent of the new rural co-operative medical system. […]. ^ top ^



Capital's security checks rival Olympics efforts (SCMP)
Beijing has stepped up security checks and traffic control to head off any potential threats to the two important political meetings that start this week in the capital. The security precautions rival those in place for the Beijing Olympics last summer, and about 600,000 volunteers will be deployed to help monitor major city venues, according to the Beijing Daily, the municipal government's official newspaper. Police set up three layers of checkpoints around Beijing to check all vehicles and passengers heading into the city. […] Security measures are ratcheted up each year as the mainland's top legislative body, the National People's Congress, and its advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, hold their annual meetings, usually in early March. But the security challenges appear particularly acute this year with the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule coming next Tuesday. Many officials fear that the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic will also invite protests or other problems. […]. ^ top ^



Taipei court orders 2-month extension to Chen's detention (SCMP)
Former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian, tainted by allegations of graft, will remain in detention until at least May 26. In the latest ruling last night on another request for his release, Taipei District Court ordered that Chen be held for two months after his detention period expires on March 26. It stressed there was a strong need to continue to detain Chen on the grounds that he could flee, given he faces life in jail if convicted of massive corruption. Chen has been held at the Taipei Detention Centre since December 30. "What is most critical is his repeatedly using his influence to try to obstruct the judicial proceedings against him," Judge Tsai Shou-hsun said in a 10-page ruling. "If freed, it would make it more difficult for the judicial authorities to deal [with] further proceedings against him." […]. ^ top ^

Taiwanese alarmed at increase (SCMP)
Taiwan's military sector expressed concern over the growth in the mainland's defence spending, saying it would increase the cross-strait imbalance. "The [14.9] per cent budget growth is relatively large in the face of a global downturn that has also affected the mainland," Taiwan's Defence Ministry said. […] "We feel it would serve only to further expand the military imbalance between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait," it said. Taiwan's military has proposed an annual budget of NT$315.2 billion (HK$69.75 billion), NT$10.4 billion less than that of last year, due mainly to plans to cut troops amid warming cross-strait relations. […]. ^ top ^

Backers threaten to free Chen (SCMP)
Supporters of former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian yesterday threatened to break into a detention centre to free the ex-leader, who is being held on corruption charges. "The ex-president has been detained for 60-odd days, and you still do not set him free. Does that mean there are no more Taiwanese people?" said Tsai Chi-fang, a former lawmaker of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and a staunch supporter of Chen. "If in 15 days Chen Shui-bian is not freed, we will mobilise all Taiwanese people who love democracy and human rights to go to the Taipei Detention Centre to liberate the ex-president." […]. ^ top ^

Beijing ready to talk peace with Taiwan, says premier (SCMP)
The mainland's leadership is ready to hold talks with Taiwanese authorities on political and military issues after more than a half year of normalised cross-strait economic co-operation, Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday. To end hostilities between the long-time rivals, Beijing is willing to create a peace agreement with Taiwan, Mr Wen told delegates of the National People's Congress during his annual work report. […] "We will work on the basis of the one-China principle to enhance mutual political trust between the sides." […] "We are also ready to hold talks on cross-strait political and military issues and create conditions for ending the state of hostility and establishing a peace agreement between the two sides." […]. ^ top ^



Tibetan monk sets himself on fire: activist group (Reuters)
Beijing - A Tibetan monk set himself on fire in protest Friday during a prayer festival in a part of western China that erupted in deadly riots a year ago, an activist group said. The monk started the blaze after walking out of a monastery in Aba county, an ethnic Tibetan area in Sichuan province, carrying a Tibetan flag with a picture of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, said Matt Whitticase, spokesman for the Free Tibet Campaign. The monk was surrounded by armed police, three gun shots were heard and he was carried away in a van after falling to the ground, Whitticase said, citing unidentified sources. It was not known whether the monk was dead or alive, he added. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing blames troubles in Tibet on western forces (SCMP)
Western forces seeking to weaken China and distract western people's attention from their economic woes are behind the current troubles in Tibet, the central government said yesterday. Beijing faces a volatile month of anniversaries in Tibet, where 12 months ago monk-led protests against Chinese rule in the regional capital, Lhasa, gave way to bloody riots that ignited protests across ethnic Tibetan areas. […] But a government policy document, or white paper, and the official People's Daily both said contention over the remote Himalayan region was stoked by western governments and groups seeking to contain the country's rise. "It is thus clear that the so-called Tibet issue is by no means an ethnic, religious and human rights issue; rather it is the western anti-China forces' attempt to restrain, split and demonise China," the white paper, issued by the State Council Information Office, said. […] "In recent years, China's overall strength has constantly grown ... and this has aroused the anxiety and disquiet of some westerners. […] "[They] believe that in this way, they can achieve their ambitions of oppressing and containing China, and that deliberately fixing on this topic can divert the attention of their own public," the paper said. […]. ^ top ^

Tibetan monastery 'surrounded' after protest by monks (SCMP)
Security forces have surrounded a Tibetan monastery in a tense region of the southwestern mainland after monks there demonstrated against Chinese repression, activist groups said yesterday. […] Tensions are high in Tibetan-populated areas ahead of the 50th anniversary next Tuesday of a failed uprising against Chinese rule, which led to the Dalai Lama fleeing into exile. Several hundred monks at the Sey monastery in Aba staged the protest after Chinese officials banned prayers during a traditional Buddhist festival, the US-based International Campaign for Tibet said, citing sources there. "Several hundred monks marched from the monastery after officials banned them from praying, calling to be allowed to celebrate the Monlam prayer festival and for authorities to release all Tibetan prisoners," the group said. It said armed police had surrounded the monastery after the monks had returned there, and it was now likely to be under a lockdown, but said it had no more information. […] The New York-based Students for a Free Tibet also reported on Sunday's rally, saying that between 300 and 400 soldiers tried to stop the protest as the monks marched out of the monastery. "The monastery is now sealed, and there is a heavy military presence outside the main road," the group said in a statement. Government officials and police in Aba contacted yesterday said they did not know of Sunday's reported protest. […]. ^ top ^

Official denies lama riots in southwest China (People's Daily)
Beijing - A Chinese official on Tuesday denied lama riots in southwest China. There was no such riots as some foreign media have reported, said Wu Zegang, head of the Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, southwest China's Sichuan Province, who is here to attend the forthcoming annual session of the National People's Congress. ^ top ^

China advisory body defends Tibet crackdown (AP)
Beijing - China was right to crack down hard on rioters in Tibet last year, but needs to better explain its policies to the rest of the world, the country's main government advisory body said Tuesday. Also Tuesday, a group of 20 activists who took part in the 1989 pro-democracy protests around Tiananmen Square sent an open letter to legislators gathering in the capital this week, calling on them to reinvestigate the military crackdown that quashed the student-led movement. In opening the advisory body's annual session, Jia Qinglin reinforced the government's hard-line approach to dissent among Tibetans, just days ahead of the anniversary of a deadly March 14 riot in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, that sparked the biggest anti-government protests in decades. "We unequivocally supported the party and government in dealing with the destructive and disruptive, violent and illegal incidents in Lhasa, Tibet and other areas in accordance with the law," Jia, the body's chairman, said in a nationally televised speech from the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing. […] The open letter from the Tiananmen activists, including Wang Dan, Wang Juntao and others, called on officials to launch a new investigation into the role of then-supreme leader Deng Xiaoping and former Premier Li Peng in ordering a military crackdown that used "the weapons of war to massacre peaceful citizens." […]. ^ top ^

Situation in Tibet stable, riots unlikely: official (China Daily)
Even though there is a possibility of minor protests in Tibet, no major riots, like the one on March 14 last year, will take place in the region this year, a top official of the Tibet autonomous region said Thursday. "I am absolutely confident that the situation in Tibet is stable ... There won't be any major riot like the one on March 14," Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the government of the Tibet autonomous region, told China Daily. "But the possibility of small incidents, like three to five individuals taking to the streets and shouting slogans, cannot be ruled out," he said on the sidelines of the ongoing two sessions. […] "After the riot, more and more Tibetans realized that stability is a blessing and unrest is a disaster." […] "Everything went on smoothly. People celebrated the New Year exactly the way they always do," he said. "The Tibetans are enjoying a good life now, so there's no reason for them to not celebrate their traditional holiday," Legqog said. […]. ^ top ^



China's manufacturing rebounds in February (People's Daily)
Beijing - China's manufacturing activity rebounded in February, indicating a gradual recovery in the country's economy. The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) of China's manufacturing sector rose to 49 percent from 45.3 percent in January and a record low of 38.8 percent in November, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) said Wednesday. A reading above 50 percent suggests expansion, while one below 50 percent indicates contraction. ^ top ^

Premier: China "able to achieve" about 8% growth (People's Daily)
Beijing - China will be able to achieve the economic growth target of about 8 percent in 2009, if proper policies and measures are taken, says a government work report to be delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao at the parliament's annual session Thursday. "As long as we adopt the right policies and appropriate measures and implement them effectively, we will be able to achieve this target," reads the report, distributed to the media before the opening of the Second Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC). […]. ^ top ^

China says to keep yuan stable, Wen's report (Xinhua)
Beijing - China pledged to keep the exchange rate of yuan "basically stable", according to a government work report to be delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao at a parliament session Thursday. The country will keep the exchange rate of China's yuan, or Renminbi, basically stable "at an appropriate and balanced level" says the report. The central parity rate of the yuan was 6.8395 per U.S. dollar Wednesday, after weakening against the dollar for a seventh straight trading day. […]. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea
Pyongyang holds talks with UN Command - Meeting held to reduce tension on peninsula (SCMP)
Generals from North Korea and the US-led UN Command in South Korea met for talks yesterday for the first time in almost seven years as tensions rise over Pyongyang's planned rocket launch. "North Korea requested this meeting to discuss tension reduction," the UN Command said. It took place at Panmunjom, inside the frontier buffer zone, two days after the North warned US troops to stop "provocations" in the area or face retaliation. The United Nations Command said the two sides discussed ways to ease tensions during the 32-minute meeting and agreed to further talks. […]. ^ top ^



Mongolian-Swiss ties to enhance (Montsame)
Head of parliamentary Standing Committee on social policy, education, culture and sciences and Chief of the Mongolian-Swiss parliamentary group D.Oyunkhorol met on Monday with Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of China Mr Blaise Godet and Resident Representative of the Swiss Development Agency in Mongolia Marcus Dubach. The latter underlined that a cooperation between two parliaments and parliamentary groups had been expanding and exchanged views on collaboration in promoting democracy of parliament and improving elections system. Mrs Oyunkhorol expressed her appreciation for the successful implementation of a number of projects by the Swiss Development Agency such as "Green Gold" targeted at pasture management and reducing the risk of disasters. ^ top ^

Negotiations with IMF resume (
Minister for Finance S.Bayartsogt told media on Tuesday that an International Monetary Fund team is back in Ulaanbaatar and its members are being briefed about the measures so far taken by the Government to reduce the budget deficit. Mongolia will be entitled to borrow from the IMF or other donor organizations only if the IMF is satisfied with the Government policy. Mongolia is asking for an 18-month loan on easy terms. The amount could be between USD70-245 million. […]. ^ 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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