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
  14.4-17.4.2009, No. 264  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

China rolls out assistance blueprint for ASEAN (Xinhua)
Beijing - Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi Sunday unveiled a multi-billion-dollar package of aid and credit to enhance China-ASEAN cooperation. Yang met with envoys of the 10 ASEAN countries in Beijing Sunday, fresh from his return from Thailand late Saturday where scheduled Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings were postponed due to Thailand's domestic unrest. “As always, China firmly backs ASEAN integration and community building, and firmly supports ASEAN playing a leading role in regional cooperation," said Yang, adding China's policy toward cooperation with the ASEAN was unchanged despite the postponement of the meetings. […] China planned to establish a China-ASEAN investment cooperation fund totaling 10 billion U.S. dollars, designed for cooperation on infrastructure construction, energy and resources, information and communications, Yang said. […] China also planned to offer 270 million yuan (39.7 million dollars) in special aid to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to meet urgent needs, inject 5 million dollars into the China-ASEAN Cooperation Fund, and donate 900,000 dollars to the cooperation fund of ASEAN plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). […] Financial cooperation was also included in the proposals. China calls for stepping up the multilateralization of Chiang Mai Initiative, expanding regional foreign exchange reserve pool, increasing scale and range of relevant bilateral currency swaps, to further Asian bond market building. […]. ^ top ^

Russian government approves pact with China on oil pipeline, supplies (Xinhua)
Moscow -The Russian government on Monday approved an agreement with China on building a branch of the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline toward China and long-term Russian oil supplies. After a cabinet meeting that discussed the agreement, which was signed in February, Regional Development Minister Viktor Basargin told reporters: "The decision has been made." With an expected annual throughput of 15 million tons of crude oil, the branch pipeline will connect Skovorodino in Russia and China's Mohe station, according to the Itar-Tass news agency. […] In the meantime, Russian state oil pipeline company Transneft issued a statement Monday saying it has signed an agreement with state oil company Rosneft concerning oil shipments to China. Under the agreement, Rosneft will supply through the ESPO branch 9 million tons of oil to China every year starting in 2011,while Transneft supplies 6 million tons. ^ top ^

Foreign direct investment in China declines 20.6% in Q1 (Xinhua)
Beijing - Foreign direct investment (FDI) in China posted a 20.6 percent year-on-year decline in the first quarter to 21.78 billion U.S. dollars, the Ministry of Commerce announced Wednesday. In March, FDI was 8.4 billion U.S. dollars, the biggest amount since October 2008 which was 8.35 billion U.S. dollars. However, the March figure was down 9.5 percent from a year earlier, ministry spokesman Yao Jian said at a news conference. March was the sixth consecutive month that FDI fell. The good news is that the decline eased from the 15.81 percent drop in February and a 32.67 percent drop in January. Zhang Hanya, an economist with the National Development and Reform Commission said a reduced decline indicated overseas investors growing confidence in the country's economic recovery. […]. ^ top ^

China's talent scheme attracts first group of foreigners (Xinhua)
Beijing - The ambitious plan to attract talents from overseas has attracted the first group of 96 scientists and 26 entrepreneurs to the Chinese mainland. Of the group, more than 80 hold foreign passports, and four are of non-Chinese origin, the Central Organization Department's bureau of human resources has told China Daily. The plan is widely considered one of the key strategic moves to boost the country's strength of innovation. Launched in December, it promises attractive funding and compensation to the elite personnel who are working overseas and willing to work in China. […] Li Yuanchao, head of the Central Organization Department, said earlier the plan aims to help the country achieve its goal of becoming an innovation-oriented nation. It aims to attract 2,000 talents in 5-10 years. […]. ^ top ^

Sea patrol starts before UN territorial claims (SCMP)
The country's largest patrol ship, the Haixun 31, and two other major vessels entered the South China Sea on Tuesday on a patrol mission about a month before Beijing and 156 other countries submit claims to territorial waters to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Liu Hengwei, Communist Party secretary of the Guangdong Marine Bureau, told the People's Daily that the patrol would demonstrate the country's sovereignty and create "a safe and clean sea for Chinese ships". The patrol ships' duties include collecting information about the movements and routes of ships, testing wireless communication systems, monitoring whether ships have discharged pollutants and, if so, issuing warnings, the paper said. In March, China sent its largest fishery administration vessel, the Yuzheng 311, to the waters around the Spratly Islands, an area rich in fish and with significant oil and gas deposits. The islands are also claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. A week before the patrol began, the Philippines implemented a law to claim part of the Spratlys and the Scarborough Shoal. […]. ^ top ^

Satellite launch 'overrides EU deal' (SCMP)
China's launch of a second navigation satellite for its Compass G2 system early yesterday indicates it has withdrawn from an alliance with Europe to develop a global satellite navigation network, according to mainland space experts. […] The experts said the Compass G2 system would use radio frequencies reserved by Galileo, a satellite navigation system that, because of a lack of funding and some management problems, had managed to launch only one experimental probe. "It is certainly not good news for the Europeans. Compass has surpassed Galileo. There is no doubt about it," a senior satellite designer at the China Academy of Space Technology said. An academy researcher said yesterday's launch meant all negotiations with the EU had failed. […] "It is indeed a bit morally shaky to take their frequencies, but it is totally legal," the researcher said. "The Europeans should blame themselves for xenophobia, endless internal quarrels over the budget and slow decision-making. China doesn't have any of those problems. "We have already started working on Compass G3, which will beat GPS," the United States' Global Positioning System. […]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Chinese police start national crackdown on human trafficking (Xinhua)
Beijing - The Ministry of Public Security announced a national action against human trafficking of women and children here Thursday, in wake of increasing incidences of these cases in China. "The country has seen an increasing incidence of human trafficking of women and children recently, though the police have continued fighting such crimes for years," said Zhang Xinfeng, vice minister of public security at a meeting. The nationwide crackdown will last from April to December this year, he said. […] The police will also crack down upon those who seduce or force children to beg on streets or commit crimes, especially those masterminding such gangs, he added. ^ top ^

China prohibits identifying fetus sex for non-medical purposes (Xinhua)
Beijing - China strictly prohibits identifying the sex of a fetus for other than medical purposes and termination of pregnancy in the case of a female fetus, said the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010) released Monday by the State Council's Information Office. Crimes of killing or abandoning baby girls will be severely punished, the plan said. […] The plan said families are encouraged to adopt or foster orphans and disabled children and welfare centers for children will be standardized. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing unveils human rights plan - Government aims to improve justice and incomes, create employment (SCMP)
The central government released its first action plan to improve human rights yesterday, pledging to raise mainlanders' incomes, protect their legal rights better and create more jobs. But it focused largely on advancing economic rights and only touched vaguely on thorny issues. The action plan is considered a way to deal with mounting dissatisfaction at home and abroad over the mainland's poor human rights record ahead of the 20th anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen crackdown on pro-democracy protesters on June 4, 1989. […] The government said it would create 180 million new jobs under the plan and keep the unemployment rate below 5 per cent. […] Urban and rural disposable income, it said, would both be increased by 6 per cent per year. On the civil rights front, the plan highlights protection of the rights of detainees. It says measures will be rolled out to prevent torture, corporal punishment and verbal abuse of detainees. It also suggests establishing a system to carry out body checks on detainees before they go on trial. […] The action plan urges careful use of capital punishment and bans the use of force to obtain confessions. The mainland stands accused of putting criminals to death for minor offences and is believed to execute more people than any other country. The outline is vague on the sensitive issue of political rights, but says the government plans to expand the number of people eligible to vote directly for urban neighbourhood committee members to 50 per cent. […]. ^ top ^

Govt requires green procurement (People's Daily)
The State Council yesterday asked local governments to buy more energy-efficient products, reflecting the country's determination to make its economic growth cleaner. China will exert tougher rules to enforce the compulsory procurement of energy-saving products and give priority to eco-friendly products in future public purchase, said a State Council order published on the central government's website yesterday. In addition, the State Council insists on the strict implementation of a compulsory green procurement list, instead of a "preferential" list under the Government Purchase Law, which allowed government bodies to shop around for other products if they could justify them on cost and energy-efficiency grounds. […]. ^ top ^

Report: Chinese cities grow fastest, but competitiveness still low (Xinhua)
Beijing - Chinese cities saw the fastest economic growth among all cities internationally, in 2008, but their overall competitiveness was still only at medium or low levels globally, according to a report released here Tuesday. The report, entitled the Blue Book of Urban Competitiveness, was released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). It showed that ten of the 15 fastest-growing cities worldwide in 2008 were in China. The ten cities are Baotou and Hohhot in the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Yantai, Weifang and Weihai in eastern Shandong Province, Dongguan, Zhongshan and Huizhou in southern Guangdong Province, and Wuhu and Hefei in eastern Anhui Province. […] The ten most competitive cities in China, according to the report, are Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Guangzhou, Qingdao, Tianjin, Suzhou and Kaohsiung. But Hong Kong only ranked the 26th among world cities, Shanghai the 41th, and the others still lower. […]. ^ top ^

Cadres told to heed the people (SCMP)
The Communist Party's central office and the State Council have issued three directives urging local government officials to have direct dialogue with the public and solve problems promptly, mainland media said. Analysts saw the move as an attempt by the central authorities to cool public anger, which had been fuelled by the remarks of a Peking University professor who said 99 per cent of the people petitioning the government were mentally ill and should be admitted to institutions. Central China Television announced yesterday that "the Central Party General Office and State Council General Office" had jointly issued the directives, one of which urged "governmental officials at all levels to regularly receive petitioners". "Party and governmental officials from the central to the local levels should all be organised to go down to grass-roots areas to supervise urgent problems on the spot and listen to public opinions promptly," the second directive urged, according to the CCTV report. […] Renmin University political scientist Zhang Ming said the directives were a temporary solution to cope with the anger among petitioners and the public as a whole. "Such directives should soothe public anger for a period of time, and also by urging local officials to have direct dialogue with petitioners, some of their complaints might be solved," Professor Zhang said. "This way, the central authorities should relieve themselves of the pressure of facing enormous numbers of petitioners flocking to the capital." But Professor Zhang said the directives could not solve the petition disputes and the social problems caused by systemic woes, including injustice, official corruption and abuse of administrative power. […]. ^ top ^

Scandals at granaries prompted checks (SCMP)
Scandals at China's largest granaries, which falsified grain reserve volumes last year, were the reason the central government launched a nationwide reserve check this month, Xinhua admitted yesterday. It said media reports last May had exposed one case, in which the managers of one of the largest granaries, Fujin No 90 in Heilongjiang province, had stolen and sold the stored grain, resulting in public losses of more than 100 million yuan (HK$113.5 million). The Xinhua report said the same thing had happened in Anhui province, where several state-owned granaries were found empty last April. "The result is that there is no concrete number for just how much grain China really has in its national reserves," it said. […] Premier Wen Jiabao said last year that the mainland had grain reserves of 150 million to 200 million tonnes. That is equal to about 30 to 40 per cent of the mainland's annual grain consumption or double the 17 per cent to 18 per cent regarded by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation as a safe minimum for global stocks. […]. ^ top ^

Reformist remembered in quiet, private ceremonies (SCMP)
Despite an official silence, many people on the mainland quietly paid tribute yesterday to Hu Yaobang, the reformist leader whose death became a rallying cry for the pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago. […] Hu's courtyard home near Beijing's Forbidden City remained quiet with no apparent security measures. […] "There hasn't really been an official ban on commemorative events, but of course it's not likely that a public event could take place. People can still pay tribute privately, though," the attendee said. […]. ^ top ^

Navy must be pushed into hi-tech era: admiral (SCMP)
China must speed up its efforts and improve its technology for building large naval ships and related weapons-production systems, the naval chief said yesterday. Admiral Wu Shengli of the People's Liberation Army Navy told Xinhua: "We should speed up the building of key naval weapons, including large surface ships, new types of submarines with excellent endurance and stealth capabilities, new generation fighter jets, accurate and powerful long-range missiles and deep-diving, rapid torpedoes. […] The PLA navy had already begun building its first aircraft carrier, military observers have noted, saying it will probably be launched in 2012, in a Tianjin shipyard. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese prisons open to public after deaths at detention centers (Xinhua)
Chengdu - China's law enforcement authorities Thursday opened the doors of five prisons to public in the southwestern province of Sichuan. This came after a spate of deaths at detention […] More than 1,000 local residents visited the prisons in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, and other cities in the province on Thursday. The move, the first in Sichuan, aims to promote more civilized management and fair law enforcement and to prevent and reduce crimes, said Liu Zuoming, head of the provincial department of justice. […].". ^ top ^

Censor tightens control of papers after bogus reports (SCMP)
The top government censor for the print media is to tighten supervision after several Chinese-language newspapers were found to have published a series of untrue articles since January last year. […] News reporting without verification sat very badly with the public and had damaged the credibility and trustworthiness of news organisations, the watchdog said. […] Under the guidelines, regulators said they would develop a database of blacklisted journalists, who could face a lifetime ban from the industry if found guilty of writing bogus news. The revelation of such reports came as a huge embarrassment for the top censor, which has maintained a tight grip on state media outlets over what they may report. […]. ^ top ^

Shenzhen anti-graft officials detained (SCMP)
The corruption scandal in Guangdong's legal system has spread to Shenzhen, with two senior Communist Party officials in charge of anti-graft issues being detained, sources said yesterday. Shenzhen media and government sources revealed that anti-graft officers from Beijing had taken into custody two officials from the city's Discipline Inspection Commission last weekend. The officials have not been named. Their detention occurred almost at the same time as officials from the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection detained Guangdong's top political adviser Chen Shaoji in Guangzhou, and former head of the Guangdong anti-graft operation Wang Huayuan, who is now in Zhejiang. The commission confirmed yesterday that Mr Chen and Mr Wang were under investigation for severely violating party discipline, Xinhua reported. […] The source said it remained unclear how many Guangdong officials had been involved in the cases of Mr Chen and Mr Wang, which many local officials and scholars considered the most significant in Guangdong in at least 30 years. He said Mr Chen was the first detained provincial-level leader in Guangdong, and Mr Wang was the first head of a provincial anti-corruption operation being put under shuanggui, a form of party discipline before they are turned over to prosecutors. […] Guangdong official sources said they believed the detention of these top officials had to be part of a well-prepared plan, as both had been in charge of the province's legal system for a long time. […]. ^ top ^



Daxing to get Beijing's 2nd airport (Xinhua)
Beijing - After seven years of deliberation over the preferred location, Beijing's second airport is set to come up at Daxing district in the city's south, Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao reported on Tuesday. The newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying that the National Development and Reform Commission, the civil aviation authority, and the governments of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei have finally reached a consensus to build the second capital airport in Daxing district. Now the plan awaits the nod of the State Council, or the cabinet, the newspaper said. […] Construction will start in 2010 and be completed in 2015, China News Agency quoted Zhang Gong, chief of the Beijing Development and Reform Commission, as saying in March. […]. ^ top ^

Smog casts a shadow over controversial Beijing traffic efforts (SCMP)
Smoggy skies that have blanketed Beijing for almost a week have made the recent decision to extend post-Olympics traffic measures for another year even more controversial. […] The city has recorded six successive "slightly polluted" smog days in the past eight days, the longest since the Olympics last summer, according to statistics from the national and local environmental watchdogs. Beijing's skyline has been shrouded in a persistent haze, with the air pollution index, measuring major pollutants, fluctuating between 113 and 148 since last Wednesday. A rating of less than 100 is generally considered acceptable, while 101 to 300 is deemed unhealthy. […] The ban, based on the Olympic traffic control measures, was imposed in October. In announcing the decision last week, authorities said the ban had markedly eased congestion and reduced pollution, citing a government-sponsored evaluation. However, the report has been widely questioned as several other surveys showed contradictory results, with most people, especially car owners, expressing dismay at the prolonged ban. Citing sources involved in the survey and statistical experts, China Business Journal said the report was cooked up in a rush to justify the extended ban. The newspaper report said surveys showing different results had been kept from the public. […]. ^ top ^



Macau doles out cash to ease the crisis (SCMP)
Macau's chief executive yesterday announced a 3 billion pataca cash giveaway - with 6,000 patacas for each permanent resident among the relief measures - ahead of an expected annual protest on May 1. Edmund Ho Hau-wah said Macau permanent residents would also get medical vouchers worth 500 patacas each. He revealed the measures during a legislative question-and-answer session. Macau's move comes at a time when the Hong Kong government is under pressure over a budget widely criticised for its insufficient relief measures amid the economic crisis. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the budget on Wednesday, and a number have indicated they may oppose it if the government does not announce stronger measures. […] Macau's Executive Council will discuss the latest handout next week before it is sent to the legislature. Mr Ho said he had asked the president of the legislature to use emergency procedures to speed up passage. […]. ^ top ^



'Chinese Taipei' to observe talks of world health body (SCMP)
Taiwan and the mainland are reported to have reached consensus over the island's bid to join the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer. Quoting an unnamed source, the Taipei-based China Times said yesterday the secretariat of the World Health Organisation (WHO) was expected to issue a formal invitation to Taipei as early as the end of this month for the island to take part in the WHA meeting in Geneva next month. "Health Minister Yeh Chin-chuan is expected to lead a delegation to attend the event as the most senior health official" from Taiwan, the daily reported. It said the two sides reached a "high degree of consensus" that the mainland would agree to Taiwan attending the annual event as an observer under the name "Chinese Taipei", which the island has used in the Olympics. It said the two sides were "in the final stage of negotiation about the details, including seating arrangement", and agreed to keep everything secret before making an official announcement. […].^ top ^

Taipei pushing for trade pact (SCMP)
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has asked a senior envoy to the Boao Forum for Asia to tell Premier Wen Jiabao that the island is eager to enter into a trade pact with Beijing. […] Dr Chien, former president of the Control Yuan, the government's watchdog, had been charged with telling Beijing that the signing of a trade deal, the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement, would be beneficial to both sides since trade between the two was growing rapidly, they said. Taiwan's Presidential Office said Mr Ma met Dr Chien on Wednesday and asked him to deliver the message. Saying it was urgent for the two sides to enter into such an agreement, which resembles a free-trade pact, Mr Ma said Taiwan would soon be in a difficult position if the two sides did not sign the pact, according to the Presidential Office. […] Mr Ma had earlier said Taiwan would not open the local job market to mainland workers and would restrict imports of mainland farm products if the pact was signed. Critics, however, said it would be difficult for Mr Ma to impose restrictions while expecting the mainland to open its market to Taiwan. […].^ top ^

Beijing tries semantics to paint better jobless picture (SCMP)
The mainland still faces grave unemployment pressures, based on the job data for January and February that was released yesterday, although Beijing tried to downplay the severity of the issue by its description, analysts said. […] Although it is being called first-quarter economic data, the report covers the job figures for the first two months only. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the mainland created 1.62 million new jobs, 210,000 fewer than the same period last year. […] "Such a description fails to tell the true picture of the unemployment situation," Mr Zhuang said. "The fact is that Beijing has scaled down the new job target to 9 million for this year from 10 million set for 2008." The mainland created 11.13 million new jobs last year. […] Many jobs are created or retained by government supportive measures, which makes doubtful the sustainability of such a man-made employment rate, according to Mr Zhu. […] The academy gave an estimated unemployment rate of about 10 per cent this year, compared with the 4.6 per cent target Beijing had set. […].^ top ^



Consumer confidence in China perks up (Xinhua)
Beijing - The consumption confidence of Chinese bankcard holders warmed up in the first quarter of this year and is expected to rebound further in the second quarter, according to statistics revealed yesterday by China UnionPay and Xinhua. […] "The year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter increase of BCCI indicates that the global financial crisis is not impacting Chinese consumers in a big way," said Xu Luode, president, China UnionPay, the country's bankcard network operator. "We expect the index to increase further in the second quarter." Lu Xiaoming, chief economy analyst of Xinhua News Agency, said consumption has been relatively stable compared with exports and investment, indicating that the stimulus packages have boosted consumer confidence. […]. ^ top ^

China's March exports continue falling but at slower pace (Xinhua)
Beijing - China's exports fell for the fifth month in a row to 90.29 billion U.S. dollars in March, down 17.1 percent from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs said Friday. […] March exports rose 32.8 percent from February while imports were up 14 percent month on month. This indicated a sign of improvement in the country's foreign trade, the customs agency said. "The narrowing in decline offers some comfort," said Zhang Yansheng, director of the foreign economic research institution with the National Development and Reform Commission, but this was a result of the government's support policies instead of an improvement in external demand. […]. ^ top ^

China aims to be world pacemaker of new-energy auto production (Xinhua)
Beijing - April's Auto Shanghai 2009 show highlights the use of energy-saving automobiles, with several well-known auto-makers, including GM and Ford, set to announce new products. […] Industry insiders expect China to become the pacemaker of a new-energy automobile industry in the future thanks to strong policies from the government and a full industrial chain. On March 20, China unveiled a revitalization plan for the domestic automobile industry, which outlines the details of enlarging new-energy auto production, and developing spare parts and components. The plan said the country would channel "special funds" from the central budget to encourage use of new-energy autos. Government or companies that purchase the cars are expected to get a compensation of 4,000 yuan (585.6 U.S. dollars) to 25,000 yuan per car. By 2011, annual production capacity of new-energy autos should stand at 500,000, and 5 percent of new vehicles, including lorries and buses, should be new-energy ones, according to the plan. […]. ^ top ^

China aims to create 1.5 mln jobs in electronics and IT industry (Xinhua)
Beijing - China, the world's biggest manufacturer of electronics and information technology (IT) products, said Wednesday it will boost the industry's development to create more than 1.5 million new jobs in three years. […] That will provide new jobs for nearly 1 million college graduates, which are included in the total 1.5 million targeted vacancies, said the document. […] The government will boost the industry by increasing state investment, credit support and export tax rebates, said the document. It also pledged to expand the domestic market for the industry and encourage innovation and restructuring. […]. ^ top ^

Pharmaceutical shares lose luster (China Daily)
To many investors who are reeling under the impact of the global financial crisis, pharmaceutical stocks looked like a safe bet. But after a spurt earlier this year, pharmaceutical shares have lagged the market during the latest rally. […] However, analysts said the sector was a promising bet despite the gap between investor expectations and market performance of pharmaceutical companies. "The draft of the healthcare reform blueprint was released last October and its short-term impact on drug companies' shares was amply reflected in the sharp surge late last year and early this year," said Wei Xutao, an analyst at Sinolink Securities. […] "The uncertainty over what medicines (of which company) would be included in the catalogue has caused uncertainties in the minds of investors, leading them to adopt a wait and watch attitude," said Zhang Zhen, analyst, Hong Yuan Securities. […]. ^ top ^

China may hike refined oil rates (China Daily)
China may raise prices of refined oil products later this month to link the domestic price of gasoline and diesel closer with global crude prices, said industry insiders. This would be the second price hike of domestic refined oil products this year. China raised the price of gasoline and diesel by 290 yuan and 180 yuan per ton respectively, or 3-4 percent, on March 25. […] China will adjust oil prices more frequently this year, said the country's top economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Peng Sen, vice-minister of the NDRC, earlier said that this year's fuel price adjustments would be done via a new pricing system, which would take into account movements in global crude prices over a 20-day period. […]. ^ top ^

China tightens regulation of SOE share transfers to prevent losses (Xinhua)
Beijing - April 16 (Xinhua) -- China's state asset watchdog said Thursday it will prohibit management staff of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) from transferring their shares in SOE affiliates and subsidiaries to their close relatives, its latest move to stop state assets ending up in private hands.

[…] Public discontent with state asset losses and privatization has been growing since share-holding reforms were launched three decades ago to introduce private ownership into SOEs. SOE management ownership of equities in affiliates, subsidiaries and SOE-invested companies has led to problems, such as executives procuring products or services of those businesses at prices unreasonably higher than the market price, resulting in "state-owned assets losses in disguise," according to Zuo Daguang, director of the SASAC's Liaoning branch. […]. ^ top ^

Wen's warning as GDP growth slows (SCMP)
The mainland economy grew at its slowest pace since 1992 in the first three months of the year, prompting Premier Wen Jiabao to warn that "the foundation for an economic recovery is still not stable". The world's third-largest economy expanded 6.1 per cent year on year in the first quarter, better than expected because of government stimulus measures but way below the full-year target of 8 per cent. Robust growth in fixed-asset investment from the nation's 4 trillion yuan (HK$4.5 trillion) fiscal stimulus package and a steady increase in retail sales helped offset the sharp decline in exports in the quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. The economy grew 6.8 per cent in the previous quarter and 10.6 per cent in the first quarter of last year. At a regular State Council meeting last night, Premier Wen said the policies rolled out since mid-2008 had been "timely, forceful and effective". However, the mainland should not have blind optimism just because the stimulus measures taken so far had delivered results. Officials must prepare carefully for the challenges ahead, Mr Wen said. "We must stick to the expansionary fiscal policy and loosen monetary policy," the premier said. He said the key tasks in the near term were ensuring central government funding for infrastructure projects in the fiscal stimulus package announced in November, encouraging private and foreign investment, boosting domestic consumption and stabilising exports. […]. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

N Korea to restart reactor, quit talks (SCMP)
North Korea vowed yesterday to restart its nuclear reactor and to boycott international disarmament talks for good in retaliation for the UN Security Council's condemnation of its rocket launch. China, Pyongyang's only significant ally, urged it to reconsider. A US government official said North Korea had yesterday ordered US nuclear experts engaged in disabling its nuclear facilities, and United Nations staff monitoring the work, to leave the country. A source close to six-party talks on dencuclearising North Korea said the experts and monitors were likely to go this week. On Monday, the Security Council's 15 members unanimously agreed to condemn the April 5 launch as a violation of UN resolutions and to tighten sanctions against the regime. Its statement was weaker than the resolution Japan and the United States had pursued, but drew an angry response from Pyongyang, which said it violated international law. […] "There is no need for the six-party talks any more," said a statement from the Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang. "We will never again take part in such talks and will not be bound by any agreement reached at the talks." […] Yesterday, North Korea said it would restart nuclear facilities, an apparent reference to the 5-megawatt plutonium-producing reactor and other facilities at Yongbyon. It had been disabling plants at Yongbyon as part of a February 2007 deal. Yesterday, it threatened to gird against what it called "hostile acts" by the US and its allies. "We have no choice but to further strengthen our nuclear deterrent to cope with additional military threats by hostile forces," the Foreign Ministry said. […] China and Russia successfully resisted calls for a new resolution, saying they did not want to harm prospects for resuming the talks. However, by subsequently joining the UN condemnation, Beijing has stoked uncertainty about how it intends to balance ties with Pyongyang against pressure from regional powers. […]. ^ top ^

IAEA inspectors cease supervision in DPRK (Xinhua)
Vienna - A diplomat of the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed here on Wednesday that inspectors have ceased supervision of a nuclear facility in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). IAEA inspectors, at the DPRK's request, had unsealed all the locked rooms in the nuclear complex and turned off all of the observation cameras, the diplomat was quoted by the Austrian Press Agency as saying. The DPRK on Tuesday asked the inspectors to stop supervision and leave the country as soon as possible. […]. ^ top ^



Mongolia given immediate access to USD 76 million of IMF loan (
The approval some days ago by the International Monetary Fund's executive board of a USD229.2 million credit line for Mongolia to help it cope with the effects of the global economic crisis means that the country has immediate access to USD76.4 million of the 18-month standby arrangement, the fund has said in a statement. "Mongolia has been severely affected by the global financial crisis through a sharp reduction in the prices of its main mineral exports, notably copper," said Mr. Takatoshi Kato, the IMF's deputy managing director and acting chairman of the board. "The authorities are committed to restoring macroeconomic stability and putting in place the conditions for strong and equitable growth. […]. ^ top ^

Gold sector to be supported (Montsame)
At an irregular cabinet meeting Monday, a resolution was issued on some measures for promotion of the gold sector. This decision is targeted to ensure the economic growth, favor the development of real branches, and increase foreign currency reserves. With a view to provide financial sources required for the support of gold extraction, government bonds equivalent to USD 200 million will be issued for 12-18-month term. These funds will be realized by way of crediting via commercial banks. Thanks to this, a foreign currency reserve fund is to increase by USD 600 million, as estimated. Nowadays, there are some 50 entities interested in obtaining credits totalling MNT 170 billion from the commercial banks. ^ top ^


Evelyne Freiermuth
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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