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
  6.4-9.4.2010, No. 314  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

China says US nuke weapons reductions important for int'l disarmament (Global Times)
China responded to a new US nuclear strategy Thursday, saying the continued reduction of the US nuclear arsenal is important for international nuclear disarmament and world peace. The United States released the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) on Tuesday, promising to renounce the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). "The US Nuclear Posture Review has drawn extensive attention from the international community. We have taken note of some new expressions of US nuclear policy in the review," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu at a regular news briefing. The 50-page review said the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are parties to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations. However, the Obama administration did not give a 'no-first-use' assurance as demanded by some progressives, partly because officials in the Defense and State departments worried that such a declaration would unnerve allies protected by the US "nuclear umbrella." "It is of great importance for the realization of complete and thorough nuclear disarmament and world peace and stability the United States, as one of the countries with largest nuclear arsenals, continues to make drastic reductions in its nuclear weapon arsenal in an irreversible way and further lessen the role of nuclear weapons for its national security," Jiang said. Jiang also reiterated China's stance on nuclear weapons, saying China keeps a self-defense nuclear strategy and has consistently advocated the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons. "At no time and under no circumstance will China be the first to use nuclear weapons," said Jiang. "China unconditionally promises not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones." Jiang said China will continue to keep its nuclear capability at the lowest level needed for national security. "China has never entered, nor will it ever enter, a nuclear arms race in any form." "China will work with the international community to make efforts to promote the international nuclear disarmament process," Jiang added. The new US nuclear strategy was unveiled just days ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit, which is due to be held from April 12-13 in Washington. Chinese President Hu Jintao will attend the summit and deliver a speech stressing the importance of nuclear security and clarifying China's policy on nuclear security. Leaders or representatives of 46 countries, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Union (EU), and other international organizations have confirmed their attendance at the summit. ^ top ^

Beijing to join talks on Iran issue (Global Times)
China confirmed that it would join other world powers in New York today in talks on devising solutions to address the Iran nuclear issue. "China will participate in the relevant discussions," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters. "But we maintain that dialogue and consultation are the best way to solve the dispute." Washington has been gearing up to win collective backing from the international community on imposing new sanctions against Iran. US President Barack Obama last month invited French President Nicolas Sarkozy to a private dinner, a move widely seen as consolidating ties with the entire European continent, although 14 votes are needed to impose sanctions. China, weathering Washington's pressure on its currency policy, adhered to its unwavering stance of engaging in dialogue to resolve the Iran standoff. Russia, which claimed its readiness to implement "smart" sanctions, modified several days ago its wording by sticking to its original plan of negotiations. For the remaining nations, Lebanon is widely expected to oppose or abstain. Brazil and Turkey, two rotating seat-holding members on the UN Security Council, also have reservations. However, both the US and the EU are reportedly considering further unilateral sanctions. The New York Times quoted Stefan Halper, who served in the White House and the US State Department under former presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, as saying that there is no hope of China siding with the US and Europe on the Iran issue. "China so far has only agreed to negotiations about sanctions," the newspaper said. "Diverse interests make rendering a coordinated action difficult," Su Jingxiang, a researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times. "Iran has pivotal significance in Washington's Central Asia strategic deployment, and is even vital to preserving its global domination. Russia has reaped benefits from nuclear cooperation with Iran. China will pursue an independent foreign policy, and will neither yield to external pressure nor Washington's postponement of labeling China as a currency manipulator," Su added. Meanwhile, Iran plans to hold a two-day nuclear disarmament conference April 17, days after the US-hosted nuclear security summit in Washington, in a bid to demonstrate that its nuclear initiatives serve peaceful uses. China is expected to participate in the upcoming meeting, which will draw experts and officials from some 60 nations. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also said Thursday that he won't beg the world powers not to hit Tehran with another set of UN sanctions. "Of course we do not like sanctions. ... But when they talk about it, we won't beg them (not to do it)," he said. ^ top ^

Officials coy on talks, but deal seen on yuan (SCMP)
Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner concluded whirlwind talks last night without announcing any concrete results. A brief statement afterwards made no reference to Washington's concerns about China's stance on the value of the yuan, which has strained relations between the two countries. Still, observers said their meeting would pave the way for both nations to resolve their differences on the issue at future forums, including the next round of their strategic economic dialogue. A statement released by the US embassy in Beijing, Xinhua and the US Treasury Department said: "The two sides exchanged views on US-China economic relations, the global economic situation and issues relating to the upcoming economic track ... of the second US-China strategic and economic dialogue, to be held in Beijing in late May." Geithner left for the US after the 75-minute meeting, which took place at the VIP terminal of Beijing International Airport, Bloomberg reported. "The currency issue is a very complicated one because any decision would have serious impacts on both economies. Thus Geithner's visit may have focused on the agenda for next month's Sino-US high-level talks," said Tao Wenzhao, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of American Studies. Geithner's flying visit came days before President Hu Jintao heads to Washington for an international summit on nuclear security - and suggests the two countries are getting their relationship back on track. Hours ahead of the meeting, a newly appointed adviser to the People's Bank of China, Xia Bin, said China should resume a managed-float foreign exchange system soon because the impact of the global financial crisis had faded. Xia's comments appeared to suggest China intends to end the yuan's de facto peg to the US dollar and allow the currency to rise, although the timing of such a move remains unclear. Last month, central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan signalled Beijing soon would look to end the de facto peg. Between 2005 and 2008 it allowed the yuan to rise by 20 per cent against the dollar, but reimposed the peg after the global financial crisis hit. Xia said the peg was no longer necessary because "the worst of the crisis is over". But he did suggest that any rise in the yuan should be small, saying a large appreciation would not be beneficial to the domestic or global economies. Wang is in charge of economic and financial issues and heads the Chinese side for the strategic and economic dialogue with the US, with Geithner America's point man. Tom Orlik, an economist with research firm Stone & McCarthy in Beijing, said the flurry of diplomatic activity on the exchange rate issue, including Geithner's unscheduled trip to Beijing, had fuelled speculation the yuan would soon be allowed to begin rising again. Currency traders were yesterday betting on a 1 per cent rise in the yuan in the next three months - the biggest since July 2008. Traders said the US Treasury's decision on Saturday to delay by three months its report to Congress on whether China is manipulating its currency had given Beijing room to reform the mainland's rigid exchange regime and to allow a gradual appreciation of the yuan. Orlik said that, with the recovery in exports sluggish and inflation still muted, Beijing might want to wait a while longer before allowing appreciation to resume. The model for the coming shift in currency policy is Beijing's 2005 move to allowed the yuan to jump 2 per cent against the dollar overnight and then to trade in a wider daily range, but with a trend towards further strengthening. ^ top ^

Kyrgyz opposition claims to take power, form new government (Global Times)
The opposition protesters claimed to have installed a new government in Kyrgyzstan late Wednesday amid dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries in the clash with the security forces in the country's capital city of Bishkek. Key opposition leader Temir Sariev said on Wednesday a new government, led by Roza Otunbayeva, the country's former foreign minister and leader of the Social Democratic faction, has been formed. He also said the Central Asian country's Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov had signed a letter of resignation, adding that the opposition has entered the building where government operates. Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has flied out of the country, and either his whereabouts or destination remained unknown, according to unconfirmed sources. However, a senior official in the opposition Social Democratic Party said the president's plane already landed in the southern city of Osh. While opposition claiming it has occupied the presidential palace, Roza Otunbayeva said they are in "full control" of the situation. The anti-government protesters also seized the headquarters of the country's internal security forces. Passing the mid-night in the capital, the situation seemed to have eased a little compared to one or two hours ago, with the assembled protesters began to disperse, said the Xinhua reporter. The country's TV station has constantly broadcast urgent requests for blood donation to treat those injured in the mass protests and clashes, the reporter added. According to Health Ministry officials, the death toll would continue to rise. Earlier, the Health Ministry put the number at 40, while the opposition said around 100 people had been killed. Meanwhile, head of press-service of the Interior Ministry Rahmatillo Ahmedov said that Interior Minister Moldomussa Kongantiyev is still alive, denying earlier reports that he was killed in the riots after being taken hostage by opposition protesters in the northern city of Talas. The White House National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said the United States is "closely" following the situation in Kyrgyzstan and felt concerned about reports of violence and looting, urging all parties to refrain from violence and exercise restraint. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday said he was "shocked" over the deadly clash in Kyrgyzstan and appealed for concerned parties to "show restraint." "The secretary-general is shocked by the reported deaths and injuries that have occurred today in Kyrgyzstan," said a statement issued by Ban's spokesman. "He once again calls on all concerned to show restraint," the statement said, "He urgently appeals for dialogue and calm to avoid further bloodshed." The unrest on Wednesday came one day after Tuesday's violence in the northern Kyrgyz town of Talas, during which at least 15 police officers were missing, 16 civilians and 85 policemen were injured, Prime Minister Usenov said. ^ top ^

China 'deeply concerned' over situations in Kyrgyzstan (Global Times)
China is deeply concerned over the situations in Kyrgyz capital and other areas, and expects that order could be restored as soon as possible, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said Wednesday. As a friendly neighbor, China hopes relevant issues in Kyrgyzstan could be solved through legal means, Jiang said in a press release. An early restoration of order will be in the interests of the Kyrgyz people and conducive to regional peace and stability, she said. According to latest reports, at least 47 people were killed and 400 more others were injured in clashes between police and protesters in Kyrgyzstan Wednesday. ^ top ^

China denies claims of hydro development hurting Mekong (Global Times)
China rejected criticism Monday that its dams on the Lancang River (upstream of the Mekong River) had caused shrinking water supplies, telling Southeast Asian nations that it was not to blame for a regional drought. "Statistics show that the recent drought that hit the whole river basin is attributable to the extreme dry weather, and the water-level decline of the Mekong River has nothing to do with (China's) hydropower development," Song Tao, Bejing's vice foreign minister, said at the first summit of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), which started Monday in the Thai coastal town of Hua Hin. The leaders of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam - the member states of the MRC - gathered to discuss management of the river, on which more than 60 million people rely. China - itself suffering the worst drought in a century in its southwest - attended the talks as a dialogue partner of the MRC, as did Myanmar. The Mekong River has dropped to its lowest level in 50 years in northern Thailand and Laos, alarming communities who depend on the critical waterway for food, transport, drinking water and irrigation. Some civil groups claim that China, which has eight planned or existing dams on the Lancang river, is responsible for the situation. "Those claims are scientifically groundless," Song said in an interview with the Xinhua News Agency. He explained that China now has three hydropower stations in operation over the Lancang River.

"Those three are cascade hydropower stations that do not consume water, with scarce effect on the water volume flowing across the border," he said. During the talks, Beijing offered to release further information from its dams - which was hailed by other nations as a "significant step forward." ^ top ^

Krishna stresses ties with Beijing (Global Times)
China and India can work together on "key challenges that will define the 21st century," India's minister for external affairs said Tuesday in Beijing. "India and China must not just cooperate. They must be seen to be doing so by the rest of the world," Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna said on the second day of his first visit to Beijing since taking the foreign minister post in May. He was speaking at the China Institute of International Studies. He also met his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, later that day. […] As to the unresolved boundary question, on which little progress has been made, Krishna said, "The true test of our maturity is how well we handle our problems. […] The Peace and Tranquility Agreement of 1993, the Confidence Building Measures of 1996 and the Guiding Principles and Political Parameters of 2005 have all demonstrated that we have the ability to increase convergence and deepen mutual understanding on this complex issue through patient negotiation," he added. "A breakthrough on the boundary talks depends on whether both sides are prepared to make adjustments," Hu Shisheng, a researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), told the Global Times. "But beyond divergence and competition, the strategic partnership of the two rising economies will not digress," Hu said, adding that the 60th anniver-sary will set off a new period of cooperation between the two sides on global issues. Ma Jiali, a senior researcher on South Asia with CICIR, told the Global Times at the ceremony that the positive tone taken by Krishna suggested that the bilateral relationship is developing in a sustainable, healthy way. Although the climate is getting warmer on both sides of the Himalayas, the irritants remain. Reuters Tuesday cited a report as claiming that a cyber-espionage group based in southwest China stole documents from India's Ministry of Defence and e-mails from the Dalai Lama's office. The report, called "Shadows in the Cloud," was released by a group of Canadian researchers based at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs. "I don't know what evidence these people have, or what their motives are," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in response, adding that China could investigate if it were provided with evidence. "Our policy is very clear: We resolutely oppose all Internet crime, including hacking," Jiang said. Reuters also quoted Sitanshu Kar, spokesman for India's Ministry of Defence, as saying, "We have heard about the hacking report, and the concerned department is looking into the case." ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

School killer gets death (Global Times)
The mentally deranged man who stabbed to death eight primary school students and wounded five others in a rampage at a Fujian school was sentenced to death Thursday. The Nanping Intermediate Court in Fujian Province found the 41-year-old former medical worker Zheng Minsheng guilty of homicide. He was also ordered to compensate the family of each dead child with 400,000 to 410,000 yuan ($58,608-$60,073), as well as 10,000 to 30,000 yuan ($1,465-$4,395) to each of those injured. Zheng admitted "intentionally killing" the children on March 23 at the gate of the Nanping Experimental Elementary School but said he would appeal, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The prosecutors played 15 video clips, totaling 55 seconds of footage, showing Zheng stabbing children with a knife as they arrived at the school. Zheng offered no defense, but said, "No such consequences would have happened if there was not a cause." Zheng repeatedly told the court that he had been turned down by a girl and suffered unfair treatment from the girl's wealthy family, Xinhua said. The police had previously said that Zheng had lost his job, suffered several failed relationships, and killed on purpose because "he was depressed and hated the world." Members of the victims' families and 50 reporters were seated to hear the verdict. "I did not have the courage to attend the hearing. I knew they would show the footage of my daughter being slaughtered," Chen Aping, mother of a 7-year-old victim, told the Global Times. "The death sentence is too easy for him." Zhou Shirong, father of a 10-year-old victim, told the Global Times Thursday that his family have moved to another city to escape scenes that would bring back sad memories. "The man gets what he deserves but the school should be held responsible," Zhou said. It was reported that among the five children wounded in the attack, four have been moved out of the intensive care unit (ICU), while the worst injured, Zhang Xuexin, is still in the ICU for observation. The tragic killing has prompted some local governments to beef up security measures around schools. ^ top ^

Mass exodus from flood zone (Global Times)
Nearly 330,000 people living near the Danjiangkou Reservoir in Hubei Province began to relocate to other places to make way for a canal being built for the south-to-north water transfer project, Xiaoxiang Morning Herald reported Thursday. The South-North Water Diversion Project is designed to divert water from the water-rich south to the dry north. The central part of the project will divert water from Danjiangkou Reservoir on the Hanjiang River to northern China cities like Beijing and Tianjin. The water level originally planned for the Danjiangkou Reservoir is now projected to rise from 157 meters to 172 meters. All areas below the 172-meter line will be flooded, and the villagers living below that line will be relocated. The canal, which will be completed in 2014, will prevent problems such as algae pollution if water levels decrease dramatically. The canal is expected to benefit about 8.9 million people and 43,000 hectares of farmland in the lower reaches of Hanjiang, the Xinhua News Agency reported earlier. This is the country's second largest relocation project in recent years after the Three Gorges Project, the newspaper reported. […] Qiu Yuansheng, an official in charge of the relocation, anticipated disputes over compensation would emerge among villagers. "Most of the villagers want more compensation," said Qiu, adding that some villagers have farmland or fruit farms above the 172-meter line and are demanding more money. The Hubei provincial government amended the compensation regulation last August, stipulating that villagers' properties above the 172-meter line will be compensated through funds provided by different levels of governments. The compensation for resources above the line is a huge burden for local government, which could only rely on loans. Statistics showed that the 600 million yuan-loan ($87 million) is not enough for the compensation in Danjiangkou. Some villagers are satisfied with the compensation and are willing to be relocated. "I am confident with the future, but there will be less land in the new home, and no orange orchard; I may go to work or do some business," said Wen Guoying, a 33-year-old villager. ^ top ^

Chinese president vows to enhance governance (Global Times)
Chinese President Hu Jintao vowed Tuesday to further improve officials' capability to guide development in a scientific way, as an 18-month nationwide study campaign for the Communist Party of China (CPC) drew to a close. Hu hailed the campaign implementing the Scientific Outlook on Development as "effective" while delivering the keynote speech at a conference that marked the campaign's conclusion. The study campaign achieved its aim of enhancing CPC members' ideological understanding, solved prominent problems, innovated mechanisms, promoted scientific development, and strengthened grassroots party organizations, Hu said. "However, there is still a lot to do to apply the campaign's achievements to regular work," he warned. The just-concluded campaign focused on educating officials above the county-level. Hu said the CPC will draw on campaign experiences to strengthen officials' education and training in the future and to improve their capabilities in planning and promoting development, providing public service, and maintaining social stability. "The implementation of the Scientific Outlook on Development hinges on government officials at various levels," he said. To further implement the Outlook, it is crucial to enhance officials' capability to lead and promote development in their jurisdiction in a scientific way and to promote social harmony, he said. The CPC should set officials' integrity, performance and their dedication to their work as important criteria for selecting and appointing cadres, he said. An appraisal system favoring cadres who adhere to the Scientific Outlook on Development and are able to guide their jurisdictions to achieve such development should be formed, according to Hu. He urged officials to do their work honestly and to beware of the temptations of power, money and women to wage a war against corruption. The campaign inspired the CPC that it is fundamentally important to pool the people's strength and wisdom to further implement the Outlook, Hu said. With the aim of promoting sound and fast economic and social development, an indepth implementation of the Outlook should be driven by innovating existing mechanisms and institutions, and be based on equipping CPC members and officials with new achievements made by applying Marxism in China, he said. Tuesday's conference was presided over by Vice President Xi Jinping. […] The Scientific Outlook on Development set forth by the CPC in 2003 emphasizes the well-being of the people and a comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable approach to development. The People's Daily, the CPC's mouthpiece, is to publish an editorial Wednesday hailing the campaign's far-reaching significance to both China's development and the Party. ^ top ^

Beijing orders new round of factory closures (SCMP)
The central government has issued a fresh edict to shut down outdated and inefficient plants in a dozen sectors as it seeks to raise industry competitiveness, cut pollution and conserve energy. It is the third policy statement issued since October by the State Council calling on industries to speed up the elimination of old, energy-hungry and polluting plants to help relieve overcapacity that plagues many sectors. In yesterday's statement, the government laid out clear plant-closure targets for the electricity, coal, coke, ferro-alloy, calcium carbide, steel, non-ferrous metal, construction materials, paper, ethanol, tannery and textiles sectors. It has ordered the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Energy Bureau to allocate regional closure targets. To ensure the upgrading of industrial facilities, new projects will not be approved unless they meet tougher land use and work safety requirements and tighter limits on environmental impact. Regional governments considering the construction of new plants to replace those being shut down have been told the new plants must be of the same capacity, or smaller than, those they are replacing. Ensuring the orders are implemented has not been easy, as some local authorities, faced with unemployment and the desire to meet economic growth targets, have been reluctant to close plants. However, this issue is partly mitigated by Beijing's move to also appraise local government officials on their environmental achievements. Plants that are on the list to be shut down will be starved of bank credit and subject to higher energy prices. Those that remain in operation after a deadline for them to shut will see their emissions permits and business licences cancelled and their electricity supply cut off. Some of the targets are aggressive compared with achievement in recent years. For example, the State Council has set a goal of closing small and inefficient power plants with a capacity to generate 50 gigawatts of electricity this year. This compares with the reduction in capacity of 60GW in the four years up to last year. In the coal sector, 8,000 small mines that are unsafe, pollution-prone and inefficient are to be closed this year to reduce capacity by 200 million tonnes, about 6.7 per cent of the nation's total output last year. In the steel sector, blast furnaces of less than 400 cubic metres in capacity and electric furnaces of less than 30 tonnes are to be closed by the end of next year. It did not give an estimate on the amount of capacity this entailed. ^ top ^

Mainland dams accused of carbon credit scams (SCMP)
Environmental lobby group International Rivers has condemned the emergence of trade in fake carbon credits and says the biggest source is hydroelectric power projects on the mainland. Under what is known as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol, industrialised countries can support projects that decrease emissions in developing countries and then use the resulting emission reduction credits towards their own reduction targets. But International Rivers says the CDM is "failing miserably and is undermining the effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol" because most of the emission reduction credits are fake and come from projects that do not reduce emissions. It says hydropower projects constitute a quarter of all projects in the CDM pipeline, and 67 per cent of these, or about 700 projects, are on the mainland. However, International Rivers says there has been no substantial jump in hydropower development to match the large number of supposedly new projects applying to generate CDM credits. The CDM recently withheld approval of carbon credits from numerous mainland dams and wind farms. Controversy over the Chinese dams recently led the European Climate Exchange (ECX), the world's leading market for trading carbon credits, to renew its ban on large hydropower Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), which are carbon credits issued by the CDM executive board. The European Union is the biggest buyer of CERs, while China sells 70 per cent of the world's CERs. Dams built before applications are made for carbon credits are deemed not to contribute to reducing carbon emissions and thus should not qualify to sell carbon credits. Such dams are called "business-as-usual" in the industry jargon. "There are blatant cases of hydro plants being business-as-usual, whereas other hydro projects seem to really require CDM credits," Axel Michaelowa, a founding partner of the CDM consultancy Perspectives and a researcher at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, said. The accuracy of assessments of the eligibility of mainland dams for carbon credits is distorted by questionable data, Michaelowa said. "Many hydro plants in China use an artificially low utilisation rate for the calculation of their profitability. The regulators have also discovered some hydro projects reported a very low electricity tariff, lower than coal power plants and other hydro projects in the same province. […] "The problem is very serious," Patrick McCully, executive director of International Rivers, said. "Dams are the largest single project type in the CDM. Almost all are likely projects that would have been built anyway regardless of receiving credits, meaning that any credits they generate are fake." A World Commission on Dams report has set guidelines that determine whether a dam qualifies to sell carbon credits. […] Last year, the value of ECX's trades surged 82 per cent year on year to €68 billion (HK$708.4 billion). ECX's renewal of its ban on large hydro CERs came about after discussions with its members, which include more than 100 large multinational companies, this year, Stahl said. "We felt there were some legitimate criticisms," she said. "Companies are nervous about it." Michaelowa said there was concern that some Chinese dams had required the resettlement of the local population without proper compensation and about whether large hydro plants are sustainable. […]. ^ top ^

Japanese man executed for drug smuggling (SCMP)
China executed a convicted Japanese drug smuggler yesterday, making him the first Japanese citizen to be put to death in the country since diplomatic ties were re-established in 1972. Mitsunobu Akano, 65, was executed in the northeastern province of Liaoning, Xinhua reported, quoting an announcement from the country's top court, the Supreme People's Court. Tokyo confirmed that Chinese officials had informed Japanese diplomats of the execution shortly after it took place. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said the case was "regrettable". Akano was arrested in September 2006 at an airport in the northeastern city of Dalian while he was reportedly trying to smuggle 2.5 kilograms of narcotics to Japan. "The courts had clear and irrefutable evidence of drug smuggling and the death sentence was handed down and carried out in line with Chinese law," Xinhua quoted the announcement as saying. It said Akano had been "treated legally". […] Akano was sentenced to death in June 2008 and the punishment was upheld last year, Chinese state media said. Hatoyama, speaking yesterday before receiving confirmation of the execution, said: "It is regrettable from the Japanese point of view, even if the legal systems are different. But there isn't much that Japan can do about this." Justice Minister Keiko Chiba expressed concern that the case "could trigger a backlash from the Japanese public", according to Jiji Press. Beijing has informed Japan it plans to execute three more Japanese drug smugglers tomorrow - Teruo Takeda, 67, from Nagoya city, Hironori Ukai, 48, from Gifu prefecture, and Katsuo Mori, 67, of Fukushima prefecture. […]. ^ top ^

How a mining miracle unfolded (SCMP)
[…] The country watched as the miracle survival story played out on national television. One by one, 115 soaked and exhausted miners were carried out on stretchers and taken to hospital. Most were rescued from a platform above which rescuers had drilled a hole last week, ensuring those trapped had oxygen. Of the 153 initially trapped, there are still 38 miners in the shaft. Rescuers expressed confidence last night that they could be saved but did not say whether there had been any contact with the men. "Strive with all your might and make each second count, doing everything possible to rescue the workers who are trapped," President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao said in a message issued by Xinhua. […] A rescue team captain, Chen Yongsheng, said the workers had survived on tree bark from pine logs used as supports in the mine, and had drunk water from the pit to avoid dehydration. […] The first batch of nine rescued miners were in stable condition. […] All nine were conscious, but their bodies had suffered from being in the water for so long. At least two men were sent to the intensive care unit. Liu Qiang, a medical officer involved in the rescue, said the survivors had hypothermia, severe dehydration and skin infections from being in the water so long. Some also were in shock and had low blood pressure. […] The state-owned mine in Xiangning county, Linfen city, was under construction when it flooded at about 1.40pm on March 28. A total of 261 miners were working underground at the time and 108 managed to escape to the surface. From then on, it was a race against time to rescue the other 153. The conditions underground made rescue extremely difficult. More than 150,000 cubic metres of water - the equivalent of more than 55 Olympic swimming pools - gushed into the pit. The challenge had been to pump out enough water to enter the mine safely. The first signs of life from underground came on Friday, when tapping could be heard coming up the pipes. Divers headed into the tunnels over the weekend but found deep, murky water and emerged empty-handed.[…] As the water level continued to drop, rescuers with rubber rafts squeezed through the narrow, low-ceiling passages late on Sunday and pulled out the first nine survivors just after midnight. Eleven hours later, a wave of rescues began. […] Mainland mining accidents are the deadliest in the world. China Economic Net reported in November that 6,000 miners died in accidents in 2005. This was 150 times the death toll in US the same year. ^ top ^



Shanghai World Expo News in Brief (China Daily)
Media center for the Shanghai World Expo 2010 from May 1 to October 31 would begin official operation on April 27, after it completes a trial run between April 20 to 26, Song Chao, head of the press office of the municipal government of Shanghai, told a press conference Wednesday. An online media center will also be established for the six-month cultural event, to allow remote interviews by registered journalists. By now, approximately 13,000 media workers in China and from abroad have applied to cover the Expo. Of them, 3,500 are from 589 overseas institutions, and more than 9,000 from 713 Chinese institutions.

Fund-raising work for the 61 million US dollars needed for the US Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, had been completed, Jose H. Villarreal, commission-general of the Pavilion, announced Wednesday. […]

A maritime rescue drill was launched by the maritime rescue system under the Ministry of Transport Wednesday at Waigaoqiao of Shanghai, in a bid to ensure security of waterway transport during the 184-day World Expo to be held in the city. The 40-minute drill involved people rescue, imitated medical care for and transfer of injured people and equipment display. Two rescue ships, two naval vessels and two helicopters joined the exercise. A maritime anti-terror exercise was held on March 20 jointly by maritime police authorities in Shanghai and the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

Exhibition arrangements have been completed for all of the 43 exhibition modules of the joint Africa Pavilion, which will join the Expo park's trial operation starting April 20, organizers said Wednesday. The joint pavilion, which will be shared by 42 African countries and the African Union, covers an area of 26,000 square meters, and each module has an exhibition space of 250 sq m. Fifty out of 53 African countries will participate in the World Expo 2010. Eight of them have rented a pavilion each. ^ top ^



HK and Guangdong to sign cross-border pact in Beijing (SCMP)
Hong Kong is to sign a pact with Guangdong tomorrow in Beijing to boost cross-border co-operation in sectors including finance, environmental protection and infrastructure projects.

The move forms part of the city's campaign to be part of the nation's next five-year plan. It will also be the first deal on closer co-operation struck between the two jurisdictions and recognised at central government level. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who will lead senior officials visiting the capital today, is expected to sign the agreement tomorrow with Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People. State leaders are expected to attend the ceremony, according to a Hong Kong government statement. Hong Kong has been eager to be part of the fast-growing capitalist market across the border. While details of the pact were not made available, the statement yesterday said the agreement "translates the macro strategies on deepening Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation [...] into concrete policies and measures". This would also lay "a foundation for seeking to incorporate the agreement's content into the national 12th five-year plan". The Pearl River Delta region, including Hong Kong and Macau, was positioned as a "reform test field" in a report by the State Council in 2008. Under the plan, the region is to become a globally competitive area in the Asia-Pacific by 2020. The report calls for closer co-operation among service industries in cities in the region, focusing on the development of finance. It also calls for greater efforts in environmental protection. Priscilla Lau Pui-king, a deputy to the National People's Congress and an academic at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said yesterday: "The content of the agreement may not be too revolutionary. But the signing of the agreement in Beijing is significant because it shows Beijing is serous about Hong Kong's integration with the Pearl River Delta, and Beijing is expecting progress." However, City University economist Li Kui-wai questioned if Hong Kong should be part the five-year plan, saying this could harm its long-standing status as a laissez-faire economy. "I am not suggesting that there is no need for Hong Kong to work closer with Guangdong. But doing so does not mean we have to make it part of China's planned economy," Li said. But Lau argued: "We should see Hong Kong's taking a bigger role in China's planned economy as a means by which the city helps open up China more to a free economy." This year is the final year of the 11th five-year plan. In the past, Hong Kong was not mentioned in the five-year plans, but for the first time, in the 11th five-year plan, Beijing made pledges to uphold Hong Kong's status as an international finance, trade and logistics centre. In 2006, the Hong Kong government organised a business summit to chart the course of the city's development in response to the 11th plan. ^ top ^



Shanghai, Taipei sign cooperation memoranda ahead of Expo (Global Times)
Shanghai mayor Han Zheng and his Taipei counterpart Hau Lung-bin signed four memoranda of cooperation Tuesday afternoon, covering culture, tourism, environmental protection and technology. A Shanghai municipal government delegation of about 260 people, headed by Han, arrived here Tuesday morning for a four-day visit to promote the upcoming Shanghai World Expo, which runs from May 1 to Oct. 31. "This year is very important for both Shanghai and Taipei. The Shanghai Expo is drawing near, and the 2010 International Flora Expo will be held in Taipei this November. We sincerely hope that the two cities can create opportunities for tourism through the two events," Taipei mayor Hau said at the "Shanghai-Taipei City Forum," where the memoranda were signed. Hau expressed gratitude to the Shanghai municipal government for helping Taipei prepare for the Shanghai World Expo. Han said Shanghai will draw on Taipei's experience in city construction and management, and expressed hope the two cities will strengthen exchange and cooperation "in all aspects." Also on Tuesday, several Shanghai companies and Taiwan counterparts signed 28 agreements on long-term exchanges and short-term purchases, along with agreements on investments in finance, chemical materials, steel, tourism, intellectual property rights and farm products, among others. According to Han, the Shanghai-based Bank of Communications will start bi-directional currency exchange services for the RMB and the New Taiwan dollar ahead the World Expo. Shanghai is "actively pushing forward" for the establishment of direct flights between Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport and the Taipei SonShan Airport, he added. Han said he believed that the Taiwan pavilion and the island's companies will be a highlight for the Expo and sincerely invited Taiwan people to visit the event. Han's schedule includes visiting environment protection facilities, construction sites, street markets and a ride on Taipei's subway. The delegation's members will have in-depth exchanges with their Taipei counterparts on economic issues, culture, tourism, agriculture and environment protection. The delegation will also visit the island's Taipei County, Taichung City and Taoyuan County. ^ top ^

Taiwan retired generals' mainland visit enriches cross-Strait exchanges (Global Times)
Top political advisor Jia Qinglin said Wednesday the mainland visit by retired generals from Taiwan has enriched the content of exchanges across the Taiwan Strait and is a sign of improved ties. Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks while meeting with the delegation led by Hsu Li-nung. Cross-strait relations have seen significant changes in recent years and ties between the mainland and Taiwan reflect a bright future for peaceful development, he said. The two sides should oppose "Taiwan independence" secessionist activities and stick to the principle that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China to maintain peace across the Strait, Jia said. Such a situation forms a solid political basis for the development of cross-Strait ties in the right direction, he added. The two sides should further develop their relations and handle complicated and sensitive problems well by bearing in mind the interests of both compatriots across the Strait and the Chinese nation, he said. The two sides should continue to "build mutual trust, lay aside disputes, seek consensus and shelve differences," he said. Jia called on the two sides to steadily push forward consultation, expand exchanges, and reach more consensus to provide a sustainable driving force for the development of cross-Strait relations. ^ top ^



World Bank forecasts growth for region, but structural reforms key (Global Times)
Developing countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, including China, can grow rapidly in the next decade even in a weakened world economy, but only if they implement structural reforms with renewed vigor, said a report released by the World Bank Wednesday. The report is the World Bank's twice-yearly assessment of the economies of the region, and estimates real GDP growth in East Asia will reach 8.7 percent in 2010 after slowing from 8.5 percent in 2008 to 7.0 percent in 2009. For China, structural reform means rebalancing the economy, including enabling a larger role for the service sector and private consumption and moving away from investment-heavy export-led growth, as well as encouraging governmental sustainability, the report said. However, experts said it is hard to stimulate private consumption, although the government has realized the importance of doing so. Although the wealthy spend around 50 percent of their incomes, the poor are willing to spend 100 percent or more, despite even though they have much weaker buying power, said Tian Yun, a researcher with the China Society of Macroeconomics (CSM). Chinese still have financial pressures related to healthcare, education and housing, and the sluggish stock market has also reined in consumption, said Zhang Chunzi, general manager of the planning department of China Citic Bank. "Last year, the growth of consumption of cars reached 70 percent, but such big growth can only last for a year and a half, and the market still takes time to build wealth," Zhang was quoted as saying by the Financial News in March. Moreover, officials from the World Bank also said it is still too early for countries to withdraw their stimulus policies, as private investment has not been a growth engine yet. "Without private investment, the economy will not have a recovery," said Ardo Hansson, lead economist from the World Bank for China. Tian from CSM said private investment has been the economic growth engine in China, but there are serious limitations for private companies looking to compete with SOEs. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

US Ready to Offer Aid for NK Return to 6-Way Talks (Korea Times online)
The United States appears to be preparing a ``food-for-talks'' exchange with North Korea if the communist country decides to return to the six-party talks on its denuclearization, a U.S. think tank expert said Tuesday. Under the scenario, the impoverished North would receive renewed food aid in return for rejoining the stalled talks, Marcus Noland, deputy director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said. Noland recently co-authored a study for the East-West Centre surveying North Korean refugees that reveals rising discontent within the country. His observation comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is widely speculated to pay a visit to China in the near future for talks with President Hu Jintao. ``My expectation is that China will extract from North Korea a commitment to rejoin the six-party talks and in return will provide them with economic assistance,'' Noland told The Korea Times in an e-mail interview. ``It also appears that the U.S. government is gearing up for a similar 'food for talks' swap ― North Korea rejoining the six-party talks and the U.S. providing renewed food aid.''Reports on Kim's possible trip surfaced as North Koreans are reportedly struggling with the effects of the regime's currency revaluation and a worsening food situation. Late last November, the North Korean government introduced a currency revaluation in an effort to control the bourgeoning market economy there. The move was disastrous ― wiping out savings, causing severe inflation and reportedly leading to rare civil discontent inside the country's opaque borders. It also brought an unprecedented apology from the government, and, according to the Seoul-based Daily NK, the public execution of a senior finance official and one of his deputies. Noland warned such deals to bring the North back to the table could have a negative effect in the long run and that rejoining the talks may simply be aimed at securing external support in order to control the shaky internal situation. ``Unfortunately, this kind of linkage is likely to degrade the humanitarian aid program as well as provide North Korea an opportunity to parlay self-created disputes in one arena into concessions in another, as well as undercutting (South Korea, which has) acted with admirable restraint,'' he said.

Cynicism on Kim Jong-il's Regime

The survey of refugees, meanwhile, suggests cynicism on Kim's regime is on the rise in North Korea and that many there believe Pyongyang is to blame for the country's problems, not foreign forces such as South Korea or the United States. Most of those surveyed said that the economic conditions ― whether they got better or worse ― primarily depended on the actions of the North Korean government. Eighty-two percent said they watched or listened to foreign news broadcasts while in the North. More than 95 percent thought most of the food aid received by the country went to the army or to government and party officials. Some 30 percent reported losing a family member during the famine of the 1990s. The North Korean economy began to ``marketize'' during the famine ― which peaked in 1997 and killed as many as one million people. The currency reform, food shortage and public discontent comes as Kim appears to be making efforts to establish his 27-year-old Kim Jong-eun son as heir apparent, an issue that could be an agenda item on the leader's trip to China. Last week, South Korea's presidential office said the visit appeared highly likely, confirming media reports. Speculation has been rampant on when the trip will occur. Last weekend was conjectured as a possibility but the North's official media reported him to be in the country at the time. Reports surfaced Tuesday that the trip may be delayed until late April, citing Chinese President Hu's scheduled visit to Washington., D.C. to attend the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama. ^ top ^

Kim Jong Il entertains new Chinese ambassador, volleyball players (Global Times)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) top leader Kim Jong Il hosted a dinner party on Saturday for new Chinese ambassador Liu Hongcai, Chinese embassy diplomats and the visiting Chinese Tianjin Women's Volleyball Team. The Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee Secretary Kim Ki Nam said in his address the traditional DPRK-China friendship, which was fostered by the elder generations of the two countries' leaders, had developed to new levels under the guidance of WPK General Secretary Kim Jong Il and Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee General Secretary Hu Jintao. Liu said China wanted to make more effort with the DPRK side for continuous consolidation and development of the China-DPRK friendship and cooperation. […]. ^ top ^



Mongolia will not take loans with conditions any longer (
A joint meeting of the Standing Committees on the Economy, on Security and Foreign Policy,and on the Budget yesterday discussed the draft cooperation negotiation that will be made between Mongolian Government and Monaco, and the draft negotiation with Asian Development Bank on a project to develop regional roads and additional financing. Both drafts were approved and would now go to Parliament. According to Finance Minister S.Bayartsogt, the total foreign debt of Mongolia has reached MNT2.8 trillion, equal to the whole annual state budget. Of this 31.7 percent is in USD, 26.5 percent in Japanese yen, 28.1 percent in euro and 13.7 percent in other currencies.

Opinions differed on the agreement with the Asian Development Bank, which has already given a loan of USD 43.1 million for the Choir-Sainshand-Zamiin Uud road. A Millennium Challenge Corporation grant of USD79.7 million will also be spent on the road. The Government now wants a further ADB loan of USD8 million and a grant of USD16 million as irrecoverable aid. The loan has to be repaid in 24 years, and carries 1 percent interest in the first eight years and 1.5 percent for the rest. MPs felt loans with defined conditions may provide low interest funding but were less acceptable than high interest loans. Minister for Finance S.Bayartsogt stated that Mongolia will no longer take loans with defined conditions. ^ top ^

Six million livestock perish nationwide (Montsame)
As of April 6, 2010, six million 69 thousand 699 heads of livestock perished nationwide due to zud disaster, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry reports. According to the ministry, 533,648 of the total lost livestock were big animals /cattle, horse and camel/ and 5.536,051 were small ones such as goat and sheep. ^ top ^

Protesters demand dismissal of parliament (UB Post)
Thousands of blue scarf protesters marched at the main square on Monday, demanding dismissal of Parliament. Organized by a politically motivated NGO, the protesters demanded accountability of the ruling political forces. Main purpose of the protest was to pressure the government to deliver cash promises of the MNT 1.5 million to each individual citizens as the political parties have promises to give away during 2008 election. Vehicle traffic on main access of the Peace Avenue to the Sukhbaatar Square was temporarily halted by the Traffic Police Department. The police and even closes army units of homeland troops were got prepared for a possible riot and public disorder. No vehicle parking was allowed in 500 meters space to the Sukhbaatar Square. Leading activists of the demonstration was allowed to enter Parliament House to hand over a letter of demand to Ts. Sharavdorj, Chief of the Parliament Secretariat. Protestors demanded the Parliament Speaker D.Demberel to give back a reply within 72 hours until which they remain in sit-in strike at the main square. ^ top ^

Government decided to grant MNT 1.5 million to every citizen (Montsame)
At its irregular meeting on Friday, the government made a decision to grant MNT 1.5 million to every citizen of Mongolia. The grant will be distributed in two phases of 2011 and 2012 in forms of covering payments of pension and health insurance premiums; giving a certificate for receiving education and health services and buying apartments; and of cash. . ^ top ^

Oyo Tolgoi investment agreement takes full legal effect (Montsame)
The Mongolian Government announced Wednesday that Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement took full legal effect following a completion of conditions precedent. Finance Minister S.Bayartsogt and Mineral Resources and Energy Minister D.Zorigt and Environment Minister L.Gansukh at the press conference March 31 announced that the government confirmed that the procedural and administrative conditions contained in the Investment Agreement had been satisfied within the allocated six-month period that has followed the agreement's official signing on October 6, 2009. Parliament approved in July 2009 to authorize the government to conclude the Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement with Ivanhoe Mines and its strategic shareholder, Rio Tinto. "The completion of the Investment Agreement as part of the coalition government action program to develop the largest Mine in Mongolia's history at the world-class Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold deposit will allow this 'Centennial Development Project' to give a significant boost to the economic and financial development of Mongolia, create large-scale infrastructure projects and the establishment of new urban centres and improve the livelihoods of Mongolian families," the Mongolian Government said. ^ top ^


Corentin Buela
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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