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
  27.4-30.4.2009, No. 266  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

China, Switzerland will study feasibility of free trade pact (Xinhua)
China and Switzerland will study the feasibility of a bilateral free trade agreement in the second half of this year, said Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Yi Xiaozhun here Monday. China and Switzerland are complementary in their resources and industry distributions, providing a solid foundation to discuss such a pact, Yi told a seminar on the subject. Blaise Godet, Swiss ambassador to China, said the seminar was a first and important step toward a free trade agreement. China has been an important business partner for Switzerland in Asia since 2002, and bilateral trade hit 11.1 billion Swiss francs (9.74 billion U.S. dollars) in 2008, almost 30 times the figure in 1980, he said. The two-day seminar attracted representatives from both countries in industries such as textiles, machines and clocks and watches. ^ top ^

China says Vietnam's appointment of official in Xisha Islands "illegal" (Xinhua)
Beijing - […] China reiterated its sovereignty Tuesday over the Xisha Islands and their adjacent waters and declared Vietnam's appointment of an official in this area illegal and invalid. The statement followed a move by Vietnam, which appointed Dang Cong Ngu as chairman of the People's Committee of the Huyen dao Hoang Sa on April 25. Vietnam calls the Xisha Islands the Hoang Sa Islands. […] "China has indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and their adjacent waters," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu in a press release Tuesday, adding that there were no disputes over the sovereignty of the Xisha Islands between China and Vietnam. Thus, Vietnam's move to appoint an official in the Xisha Islands was illegal and invalid, said Jiang. […]. ^ top ^

China, Peru sign free trade deal amid global financial crisis (Xinhua)
Beijing - […] China and Peru on Tuesday signed a free trade agreement (FTA) in Beijing, capping over-a-year-long negotiations and legal processes. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and his Peruvian counterpart Luis Giampietri Rojas witnessed the signing ceremony in Beijing, with both hailing the deal "a new landmark" in bilateral ties. "China-Peru agreement is the first FTA package China has signed with a Latin American country," said the Chinese Commerce Ministry. […]"The China-Peru FTA is a comprehensive deal, covering goods, service, investment and other fields while the accord with Chile deals with goods only," Zhu said. A complementary deal on service trade was signed with Chile in 2008. "The pact features a high degree of openness," Zhu said, citing phased, free tariffs on more than 90 percent of goods ranging from China's electronic products and machinery to Peru's fish powder and minerals. Under the deal, both pledged to further open their service sectors and offer national treatment to investors from the other country. China and Peru also reached agreement on intellectual property, trade rescue, customs procedures and other fields. […] Since the beginning of the decade, Beijing has vigorously pursued free trade agreements. So far, China has signed FTA deals with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Chile, Pakistan, New Zealand, Singapore and Peru. China is also in free trade talks with Australia, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iceland, Norway and Costa Rica, among others. ^ top ^

China rejects Japan's accusation over its nuclear policy (Xinhua)
Beijing - China rejected Japan's accusation over withholding information about its nuclear policy here on Tuesday, saying the accusation was groundless. Jiang Yu, spokeswoman of Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a regular press conference that China had all along advocated and positively supported the comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons and complete nuclear disarmament. Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone accused China of withholding information about its nuclear weapons while delivering a speech in Tokyo on Monday. The speech, entitled "Conditions towards Zero -- 11 Benchmarks for Global Nuclear Disarmament", came in supportive response to the remarks made on April 5 by U.S. President Barack Obama, who advocated a world without nuclear weapons and declared Washington's "moral responsibility to act" to that end. "China supports the process of international nuclear disarmament, and has made unremitting efforts for it," said Jiang. Jiang also stressed that China's nuclear policy was clear and transparent. "Japan's accusation is completely groundless.". ^ top ^

China, U.S. firms sign dozens of contracts in Chicago (Xinhua)
Chicago - Over 50 Chinese companies signed 28 trade and investment contracts worth about 5.7 billion U.S. dollars with U.S. firms on Tuesday at the end of the China-U.S. Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum. The deals covering mainly the machinery, electronic products and green energy technology will help gain trade balance between the two countries, said a spokeswoman of the visiting Chinese delegation led by Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming. These deals will also help upgrade the technology and the value of Chinese products since the Chinese companies are importing U.S. high-tech products and investing in the fields of green energy, she said. […] Speaking at the forum, the visiting Chinese minister said "we will continue to encourage Chinese companies to import more from the United States, and we will also welcome U.S. companies and trade-promotion agencies to be more active in China." […]. ^ top ^

China, ROK vow to further strengthen military ties (Xinhua)
Beijing - China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) agreed here Wednesday to further strengthen military ties. […] Chen said more bilateral military exchanges would be conducive to the healthy development of China-ROK friendly relations and to regional peace, stability and prosperity. China hoped both countries could further deepen cooperation, strengthen understanding and promote military exchanges and personnel training, so as to advance their strategic and cooperative partnership, he said. Lee said that recent years had witnessed the sound development of ROK-China relations and frequent military exchanges. He added that the ROK adhered to the one-China policy and would work with China to develop bilateral relations. ^ top ^

Russian president meets with Chinese defense minister on ties, cooperation (Xinhua)
Moscow - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met on Wednesday with Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie in the Kremlin on bilateral ties and cooperation. Russia cherishes its relations with China, Medvedev said, adding that Russia-China relations are of special significance as the two countries are strategic cooperation partners. Russia is willing to develop all-round relations with China in the fields of politics, economy, trade, and culture, he said. Medvedev said the cooperation in defense and security between Russia and China has been fruitful, adding that their cooperation, that benefits both regional and global peace and stability, is nothing like a military alliance and is not directed against anyone but rather serves the interests of the two sides. […] China is also ready to work with Russia to push bilateral military relations to a new height, Liang said. […]. ^ top ^

China may organize another procurement team visiting Europe (Xinhua)
Beijing - A senior official of China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Wednesday that China might organize another procurement delegation to Europe, and France might also be one possible stop on the delegation's tour. Wu Xilin, head of the outward investment and economic cooperation department of the MOC, told reporters Wednesday that the exact time and countries to visit were under discussion. […]. ^ top ^

Wen and Aso set aside dispute to strike deals - Leaders avoid sensitive historical issues (SCMP)
China and Japan put aside last week's bickering over a Tokyo war shrine to reach multiple agreements in the areas of climate change, information technology and economic co-operation on the first day of Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso's visit to Beijing. […] Mr Wen, meanwhile, reminded Japan about the sensitivity of issues related to history at the talks in Beijing, which took place shortly after Mr Aso drew China's ire by sending an offering to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. The history issue was "very sensitive", said Mr Wen, adding that he hoped Japan would "adhere to agreements and appropriately deal" with the issue. "The improvement in our bilateral ties is hard-won; we should cherish it. Both countries should observe the four key Sino-Japanese communiques and carefully handle the direction of the two countries' development," he said. Mr Aso replied that Japan's position had not changed from the view expressed in a landmark 1995 statement, in which then Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama expressed remorse for Japan's atrocities during the second world war. But the two East Asian countries largely managed to avoid the thorny historic issues yesterday to focus on mutually beneficial co-operation. A pollution-combating mechanism entitled "The Japan-China Plan for Comprehensive Co-operation in Environment and Energy Conservation" would be launched soon, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said after the meeting. […] The leaders also reached a consensus on promoting new types of co-operation regarding regulatory frameworks of information and communication technology, it said. […]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Death toll in two SW China landslides rises to 11 (Xinhua)
One more body was retrieved from mud and rocks shortly after midnight, bringing the death toll in two landslides in southwestern China's Yunnan Province to 11, local authorities said Monday morning.
Both landslides occurred at about noon Sunday in the same city, but one was the result of an industrial accident, while the other was a natural disaster, the officials said. They said 15 people were still missing and two were injured, after one landslide at about 11:40 a.m. Sunday in Linfeng Township and another at about 12:40 p.m. in Zhaxi Township. Both townships in Weixin County were under the jurisdiction of Zhaotong City, the county's publicity department said. […] The department said the first landslide, which killed four passers-by, was caused by unsafe quarry production. The second, which left seven dead, two injured and 15 missing, was a natural disaster. The site was where the latest body was retrieved, according to an initial investigation by experts sent by the provincial government. The department said the weather was fine with no rain. Rescuers are still searching for the missing. ^ top ^

China calls for patriotic education to coincide with 60th anniversary (Xinhua)
The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee's Publicity Department has urged local governments to "carry out in-depth patriotic educational activities" among the public centering on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, which falls on Oct. 1. The People's Daily reported Monday that the General Office of the CPC Central Committee released a document drafted by the Publicity Department, which said that "patriotic educational activities" are of vital importance in supporting morale and boosting confidence in overcoming difficulties. […] The document said that the activities should guide people to love the Party, and to realize the significance of the founding of New China and the great achievements the country made in the past 60 years. Activities should also make the public aware of the advantages of socialism with Chinese characteristics and give them a correct understanding of China's basic conditions at present. […]. ^ top ^

Name and shame to fight crime (SCMP)
Authorities in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, have come up with a new method to deter crime, and it has sparked a huge controversy among the public and experts. Basically, it is called name them and shame them. Police began the spectacle last Thursday by hauling out a group of 65 inmates, dressed in bright yellow prison tunics, and parading them on a public square, the Legal Daily reported yesterday. In front of tens of thousands of jeering onlookers, a police official read out the names of 32 who were convicted, the crimes they had committed and how long their sentences would be. For the 33 who were only accused, they stood quietly as their names and alleged crimes were announced. Forty-four of the 65 were under the age of 22, and most of them came from outside the city. Although the police had tried to maintain order, the scene became chaotic as some people cried, fainted or shouted as their relatives were named, the paper said. The Wenzhou government has trumpeted the tactic of public shaming as part of a campaign to reduce crime and boost the image of a safe city, but instead, it has ignited a huge debate nationwide. […]. ^ top ^

Protests by grieving parents grow over child trafficking (SCMP)
[…] Trafficking in children has grown on the mainland, and the public has been shocked recently by how serious the situation has become. Thousands of parents across the country have teamed up in cyberspace and staged protests since last year to urge the authorities to address the issue. In September, about 40 parents from Shenzhen appealed to the central government in front of the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium in Beijing, each carrying a large poster with a photograph of their missing child. In November in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, more than 3,000 people gathered for a television programme about looking for children. On April 15, more than 100 parents in Dongguan, Guangdong province, took to the streets, protesting about the more than 1,000 children who have been abducted there since 2007. Child trafficking has been an age-old problem in the country and a taboo in the mainland media. The introduction of the strict one-child policy in 1979 led many families to want to buy a child, especially a boy, because of the traditionally male-dominated society. No official statistics could show clearly the scale of child trafficking, and few independent researchers were encouraged to study the subject. […] But in the past couple of years, public concern has grown, with several websites launched in Shanghai and the provinces of Jilin, Guangdong and Hubei featuring long lists of children who have been abducted or are missing. […] Liu Kaiming, head of the Shenzhen-based Institute for Contemporary Observation, said children of migrant workers employed in larger manufacturing towns were the most at risk of being targeted by traffickers, who had turned the sale of stolen children into a business. […] And earlier this month, the Ministry of Public Security announced a nationwide programme dealing with the trafficking of women and children. […]. ^ top ^

18 officials to face trial over deadly landslide in N China
Two courts in Shanxi Province will soon begin the trial of 18 officials for their role in a fatal landslide that killed at least 277 people last year, the provincial procuratorate said Monday. The Linfen municipal procuratorate and the Xiangfen county procuratorate have respectively transferred the investigation files of the suspects to the corresponding courts as of last Monday, applying for court hearings over charges of dereliction of duty, taking bribes and misuse of power. […] Investigations found the collapse was due to negligence. The dumping pond was built in violation of a regulation and had almost no safety inspections. […]. ^ top ^

China's top court issues guideline dealing with reputed trademark infringement (Xinhua)
Beijing - China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) has released a judicial explanation on handling cases concerning reputed trademark infringement on its Web site and in a media statement Sunday. The judicial explanation will take effect on May 1. A spokesman of the SPC's intellectual property court said the explanation "summarizes relevant trail experience" and was to "improve the courts' judicial protection system of well-known trademarks, enhance the authority and credibility of judicial protection and safeguard the market order featuring fair competition." The explanation makes clear basic requirements for reputed trademarks as well as protection and recognition, among other items. It standardizes judicial measures in handling civil cases concerning trademark infringement and provides legal backup for judicial protection over well-established trademarks. "The SPC has long attached great importance in protecting reputed trademarks," the spokesman said, adding, "the issuing of the explanation is a basic step in implementing the nation's intellectual property rights strategy." […]. ^ top ^

Security tightens for quake's first anniversary (SCMP)
The city government in Mianyang, Sichuan, is tightening surveillance on activists and petitioners ahead of the upcoming one-year anniversary of the May 12 earthquake, a source of sorrow for parents who lost their children. A document released by the city's Department of Justice ordered a blanket screening by the end of tomorrow for key suspects who could undermine social stability. Official surveillance was also ordered on them in accordance with information in a database. […] The directive is the latest in a string of official measures by authorities to clamp down on dissent to make the occasion a showpiece for official reconstruction efforts. However, as the anniversary edges closer, authorities are increasingly uneasy. Activists and aggrieved parents are expected to push for justice over the thousands of children who died because of shoddily built school buildings. An internal briefing believed to be from the provincial Department of Construction imposed a ban on evaluations of buildings that collapsed in the earthquake, which could dash parents' hopes of getting justice. […] Activists from some non-governmental organisations have been harassed by police in Mianyang and many other areas in Sichuan for collecting evidence to support allegations of substandard construction materials or data on the number of students killed in the quake […]. ^ top ^

Beijing places new clamp on visa controls (SCMP)
Mainland authorities have once again tightened visa procedures for foreigners in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic, travel industry sources said yesterday. The latest curbs have raised concerns that the central government is reintroducing the draconian visa policy enforced before and during the Beijing Olympics last year. Under the policy introduced two weeks ago, all new business visas issued recently will expire on September 15, three mainland visa agents confirmed. Applications for the business visas, also called F visas, beyond September 15 would be put on hold, pending further government clarification, the agents said. […]. A ceremony is to be staged in Beijing on October 1 to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding. All state leaders will be attending the celebration, which will also feature a military parade. Beijing will be taking no chances on anything ruining the celebration. […]. ^ top ^

Slush funds target of huge crackdown (China Daily)
Beijing - The Ministry of Finance has launched a massive seven-month crackdown aimed at drying up slush funds that illegally use billions of yuan each year of government money. The slush funds, which are known as "small treasuries", are understood to be widespread within the State sector. […] The crackdown will encompass all party organs and public institutions - especially those that are state-funded. Informants who help investigators may be eligible to receive up to 100,000 yuan (14,645 U.S. dollars), according to a notice released by the ministry on its website ( yesterday. The slush funds are essentially secret accounts set up by Party organs and public institutions to collect extra revenue from collective moonlighting activities. The accounts are used to pay additional funds to managers and workers. […] The National Audit Office believes central government departments misused or mismanaged more than 46 billion yuan (6.73 billion U.S. dollars) in 2007. […] President Hu Jintao in January urged the anti-corruption body to "firmly correct official wrongdoing". The crackdown is a joint effort of the CPC Central Committee for Discipline Inspection, the Ministry of Supervision, the Ministry of Finance and the National Audit Office and is headed by Finance Minister Xie Xuren. ^ top ^

Report on China origin of swine flu "groundless": agriculture ministry (Xinhua)
Beijing - Overseas reports labeling China as the origin of the current swine flu outbreak were groundless, China's Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) said Wednesday. The press reports alleged some dead pigs found in Fuqing City and Changle City in southeast China's Fujian Province might be the source of the swine flu outbreak in Mexico, said the ministry. The dead pigs, which were illegally disposed of, died of swine dysentery and dropsy, both normal among young pigs, and investigations in pig farms around the area found no sign of an epidemic, the ministry said. […] No human cases of swine flu have been found in China, nor has the virus been found in the country's pigs, both the MOA and Ministry of Health (MOH) said. China has not exported live pigs to Mexico or the United States, which means the country cannot be the origin of the deadly disease, the MOA said. […]. ^ top ^

New rule to punish officials who give fake statistical data (SCMP)
Beijing has renewed its vows to clamp down on fake official data amid mounting allegations of notoriously unreliable statistics. All officials would be subject to administrative punishment for forging or covering up statistics under a new rule taking effect tomorrow. Xinhua said it was the first time that government officials would be held responsible specifically for "statistical corruption", which it said had seriously undermined the government's credibility. But mainland experts said the rule would be unable to curb the widespread practice of using false figures because the top leadership had yet to change criteria assessing the performance of growth obsessed local officials. […] The rule - jointly released by the Ministry of Supervision, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, and National Bureau of Statistics - was also aimed at preventing information leaks. Top officials from government bodies and state-owned enterprises who gave instructions on faking statistics or took revenge on whistle-blowers of phoney figures could face demotion, dismissal or unspecified "criminal punishment". Officials who leaked data concerning state secrets, personal information and business secrets, or delayed the reporting of statistics, would face similar penalties. However, experts were sceptical about the effectiveness and feasibility of the rule, saying it would do little to stamp out the rampant doctoring. […]. ^ top ^

Mainland tightens inspections, quarantine controls at entry points (SCMP)
Beijing has stepped up the fight against the deadly swine flu virus by imposing stricter border inspection and quarantine controls. The General Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has activated a 24-hour monitoring system and tougher inspection of people and transport equipment from areas where human infections have been reported. President Hu Jintao called his Mexican counterpart Felipe Calderon on Tuesday to send his and the country's condolences. […] The central government would offer humanitarian aid worth US$5 million to Mexico, US$1 million of it in cash, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Under the tightened controls, passengers arriving from Mexico, including crew members, have to report their health status, go through a separate passageway at customs, and be subject to stricter inspection and quarantine. Suspected swine flu cases will be examined, according to the AQSIQ website. Planes and ships from Mexico would be disinfected, water sterilised and trash on board treated, the website said. […] The AQSIQ has banned imports of pork products from Mexico and three states in the US where human cases have been reported. The National Tourism Administration (NTA) has ordered travel agencies to suspend tours to Mexico and advised mainland residents to avoid trips there. […]. ^ top ^



Beijing to build, expand 13 water plants by 2014: city official (Xinhua)
Beijing - Beijing plans to build and expand 13 facilities by 2014 to process water from the Yangtze River, with combined capacity of about 1 billion cubic meters annually, an official with the city government said Wednesday. The municipal government will spend 26 billion yuan (about 3.8 billion U.S. dollars) on the plants, according to He Fengci, vice director of the municipal south-to-north water diversion office. […] Shortages are set to reach a crisis next year, when the population is expected to top 17 million, or 3 million more than its water resources can support. The south-to-north diversion program, aiming to provide sufficient water for China's northern regions that have experienced multi-year droughts, will connect the Yangtze, Huaihe, Yellow and Haihe rivers. […]. ^ top ^



World Expo has plans for U.S. absence (Xinhua)
[…] Tuesday's China Daily quoted Hong Hao, director-general of the Shanghai World Expo Coordination Bureau, as saying that the bureau has plans for the potential withdrawal of any participants from the event. He said on request of the Consulate General of the U.S., the expo's organizers had allotted a very "good and appropriate" location for the U.S. pavilion in the expo site. "Should the U.S. complete fund-raising and project design, it can still use the reserved land for the construction of its pavilion," he said. Hong nevertheless sounded upbeat about US participation by adding, "progress had been achieved in fund-raising as far as I know thanks to support from both government and enterprises." Organizers Monday also confirmed that preparations for the expo have been going smoothly, with 234 countries and international organizations having confirmed their participation in the event. So far, none of them have withdrawn from the event despite the negative impact from the global economic slowdown, Hong said. The spokesman said more than 1 million tickets for group visitors have been sold for the expo to be held from May 1 to Oct. 31 in 2010, since the sales was open on March 17. Tickets for individual travelers will be open on July 1 this year. […]. ^ top ^



Cross-strait pacts hailed as 'breakthrough' (SCMP)
Taiwanese and mainland negotiators heralded a "new era" in cross-strait ties yesterday as they signed three agreements on financial services, direct flights and fighting crime. A joint statement issued by top envoys from Beijing and Taipei said: "The two sides of the Taiwan Strait face a rare and historic opportunity." The agreements, signed in Nanjing, capital of the eastern province of Jiangsu, were the latest advance in a relationship that has dramatically improved since the mainland-friendly Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president last May. […] When the new agreements come into force, financial services firms on both sides of the Taiwan Strait will be able to invest and do business in each other's territory, police forces will be able to exchange information on important criminal and civil cases, and the number of flights crossing the strait will more than double. The 12-point financial services agreement had been one of the more complicated issues under discussion, given differences between the two financial systems. The two sides have committed to setting up supervisory bodies to govern companies with cross-strait dealings in insurance, securities and commodities, and banking. A clearance system between the Taiwanese and mainland currencies will also be set up. Legal co-operation across the strait will extend to combined prosecutions, exchange of documents, investigating and gathering evidence, recognising and enforcing civil arbitrations and settlements, and formal rendition arrangements. […] A timeframe for implementation of the pacts was not set out. But an agenda was agreed for the next round of talks, to include agriculture and fishing, later this year in Taiwan. ^ top ^

DPP plans protest over deals with mainland (SCMP)
Taiwan's pro-independence opposition has vowed to hold a mass protest next month to condemn the government for not looking after the island's interests in its agreements with the mainland on further economic co-operation. "We will mobilise tens of thousands of the people in Taiwan to take to the streets on May 17 to denounce [Taiwanese President] Ma Ying-jeou for failing to protect the best interests of Taiwan," Democratic Progressive Party chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said yesterday. May 17 is three days before the first anniversary of Mr Ma's presidential inauguration. […]. ^ top ^

DPP officials vote to invite detained Chen back into party fold (SCMP)
Former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian may rejoin the Democratic Progressive Party after an intense power struggle within the pro-independence group. The move is expected to deal a blow to party chairwoman, Tsai Ing-wen, who has tried to distance the party from Chen since his December detention over corruption. In a dramatic development yesterday, 15 executive members of the DPP's Taipei city committee voted unanimously to support a proposal to invite Chen to rejoin. Committee director Huang Ching-lin - a close friend of Chen, who proposed the former leader rejoin the party - said: "We will bring the membership application form to the Taipei Detention Centre [today] for the ex-president to sign, and we welcome him to return to the DPP." Mr Huang said Chen, a former chairman of the DPP, quit last August because he did not want the ruling Kuomintang to seize the opportunity to smear the party. He was referring to Chen's withdrawal after admitting that his wife had wired US$21 million abroad without his knowledge. Suspecting money-laundering, Swiss authorities notified Taiwan of unusual fund flows to the Cayman Islands, moves involving Chen's son and daughter-in-law. Chen said his wife was behind the transfers but insisted the sources of the funds were legal, and included campaign donations. The scandal has seriously hurt the party's image. […]. ^ top ^

WHO invites Taiwan to attend World Health Assembly as observer (Xinhua)
Beijing - The World Health Organization (WHO) has invited health authorities in Taiwan to attend the 62nd World Health Assembly (WHA) with observer status, China's Health Ministry confirmed Wednesday. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan sent an invitation to the Taiwan health authorities, asking that they attend the assembly from May 18 to 27 as observers, according to a statement from the ministry. "Such an arrangement shows our goodwill to achieve practical benefits for Taiwan people and indicates our sincerity to promote peaceful development of cross-Strait relations," said Mao Qun'an, spokesman of the Health Ministry. […] Rao Geping, professor of law at Peking University, said that without the consent of the Chinese mainland and its support, it would be impossible for Taiwan to attend this year's WHA. […]. ^ top ^



Verdict postponed on 'living Buddha' (SCMP)
A court in Sichuan has postponed a verdict on a Tibetan "living Buddha" on charges of possessing firearms, his lawyer says. International attention appeared to have prompted the delay, lawyer Li Fangping said yesterday. Phurbu Tsering, 52, runs two nunneries in Ganzi, Sichuan. He is one of the most senior religious figures to appear in court since deadly riots swept Tibetan areas last year. […] A verdict was due yesterday, but officials announced a delay and did not set a new date, Mr Li said. "They didn't explain why they delayed it. But the case has attracted attention abroad and I think they may have felt the heat was too much." […] A trickle of isolated protests in recent weeks suggests lingering discontent. A monk set himself on fire at the Kirti Monastery in western Sichuan, and a homemade bomb was thrown at a government office but caused no casualties. ^ top ^



Report: China's 3rd-batch stimulus investment to fall below previous ones (People's Daily)
China's central government will arrange 70 billion yuan (10.3 billion U.S. dollars) for its third batch of stimulus investment, according to a Beijing-based newspaper citing an unidentified economic planning official. The new investment would fall short of the amount for previous ones and market expectations of a larger amount of investments than the first two, said the Economic Observer. The central government has so far cashed in a combined 230 billion yuan (33.8 billion U.S. dollars) for its 4-trillion-yuan stimulus package announced last November to bolster the slowing economy, 100 billion yuan in the fourth quarter last year and 130 billion yuan in the first quarter this year. "The third batch of investment is being arranged, and the total amount is around 70 billion yuan," an unidentified official of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) told the Economic Observer. […] New investments would mainly go to projects that benefit people's livelihood and infrastructure projects, said the official. The central government would cut back on investment in competitive sectors that have good expectations of returns, while increase that in sectors that have difficulty in getting enough funds, the official said. However, the official did not explain whether the smaller central government stimulus investment was connected with soaring banks loans in the first quarter. […]. ^ top ^

Disposable income of urban residents up 11 percent in first quarter of 2009 (People's Daily Online)
The per capita disposable income of urban residents was 4,834 yuan in the first quarter of this year, up 10.2 percent year-on-year. Deducting price factors, real growth reached 11.2 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. […] Per capita cash income of rural households during the first quarter reached 1,622 yuan, up 8.6 percent year-on-year, and a real growth of 8.6 percent after deducting price factors. […]. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

Crackdowns reduce defectors (SCMP)
Tough crackdowns by Pyongyang and Beijing have sharply reduced the number of North Korean defectors on the mainland, a South Korean think-tank said yesterday. Around 100,000 were thought to be hiding on the mainland in recent years. "There has been no systematic survey since 2006 but the recent number of escapees from North Korea is believed to be 20,000 to 40,000," it said. ^ top ^



Bayar asks ElBaradei for help in developing nuclear energy (
Prime Minister S.Bayar has asked Mohammed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who is now on a visit here, to help Mongolia in its uranium development program. He thanked the IAEA for sending a team to assist and advise the Mongolian Government to prepare a draft law on nuclear energy that meets international requirements. The draft is expected to be finalized by May and will be discussed by Parliament then. Bayar requested further IAEA advice in determining a proper and safe way to mine, handle and use uranium, and in setting up an atomic power plant to meet Mongolia's growing energy demands. The help will be welcome right from choice of site to arranging training for personnel in other countries. ElBaradei appreciated Mongolia's work on the draft law and the way the country planned to use its uranium resources. The IAEA chief promised all help in all nuclear-related matters, including in health care. ^ top ^

MNT 300 million to be spent on eliminating storm loss (Montsame agency)
An irregular government meeting was held on April 24. At the meeting, a decision was made to spend MNT 328 million on eliminating losses caused due to severe dust and snow storms that occurred in territories of Ovorkhangai, Bayankhongor, Dundgobi, Omnogobi and Gobisumber provinces on April 22-23, 2009. In the first stage, a non-refundable aid of MNT 1 million will be given to each family of victims who lost their lives in the dangerous natural phenomena. Moreover, 55 ghers (traditional dwelling) will be allocated to households who became homeless due to storms. In addition, 1,200 tons of hay and 600 tons of fodder will be delivered to provinces that suffered from the disaster. As of the most updated news, 6 of 19 people missing were found safe as a result of rescue sessions. ^ top ^

Russian side rejects MCC grant for ULAANBAATAR Railway (
The Russian shareholder in Ulaanbaatar Railway has rejected as “unnecessary” the USD188 million Millennium Challenge grant for the company. The Mongolian Government has now asked the Millennium Challenge Corporation to divert the aid to some other development sector. This information was given at a press conference on Friday by Vice Minister A.Gansukh and State Secretary J.Bat-Erdene at the Ministry for Road, Transportation, Construction and City Development. Deputy Director of the Railway, L.Purevbat, was also present. The proposed Millennium Challenge Foundation aid to the Railway has for long been expected to play a pivotal role in upgrading the railway transportation system. The terms of the contract allowed for the grant to be released only after accounts of the Railway, jointly owned by the Mongolian Government and Russian Railways, a state-owned company, were audited. Accordingly an audit firm was appointed but after they had worked for 15 days the Railway stopped the work saying the company had decided to refuse the aid. […] Asked why Mongolia cannot take its own decision and has to accept the Russian stand, the Vice Minister said Russia was right in saying that as an equal shareholder in the joint venture, it should have been told of the MCC offer before it was signed. Russia considers the aid unnecessary as it is able to invest an equal amount on the Railway. He said the Railway “was deemed the most appropriate sector when the MCC grant was being negotiated but it was never a good idea to select a joint venture for the aid. Unfortunately there was no Mongolian Railway Organization then.”. ^ 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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