BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE
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Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP
DPRK and South
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Climate change mechanism set up (China Daily)
A ministerial-level dialogue mechanism on climate change has been set up between China and the European Union, a move analysts believe will help the United Nations climate summit to be held in Mexico in December bear fruit. The two sides will hold talks regularly to strengthen collaboration and deepen understanding, according to a joint statement issued after China's climate change envoy Xie Zhenhua held talks with Connie Hedegaard, the EU commissioner for climate action, on Thursday. The two sides will also set up a hotline, the statement said. […] The two sides pledge to work closely under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol to achieve positive results and meaningful progress at the climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, it said. China already has a similar mechanism in place for dialogue with the United States.
"The latest mechanism signals that China and the EU, both major participants at the Cancun summit, are making joint moves on addressing climate change," said Zhang Haibin, a professor on climate change at Peking University. Zhang said the dialogue will help China and the EU get rid of "misperceptions" after last year's Copenhagen summit. Hedegaard is accompanying European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who is in China to attend the opening ceremony of the World Expo in Shanghai on Friday.
Before leaving for Shanghai, Barroso is scheduled to inaugurate the Europe-China Clean Energy Center at Tsinghua University in the morning, and address students on issues including climate change. "I think we (China and the EU) have close contacts, but we are at the beginning of a real partnership," Gunther Oettinger, the EU commissioner for energy, said on Thursday when commenting on China-EU cooperation to fight global warming. "We have much to do, in research, science, in cooperation for new generations of energy power stations. Maybe in combining targets, interests, intentions more and more," he told China Daily. But Zhang Jianyu, China program manager of the US Environmental Defense Fund, played down the significance of the dialogue with the EU. "What we need is not dialogue, but action. "There are already a lot of dialogue opportunities among state leaders and environment ministers," Zhang said. In mid April, Xie, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, met his counterparts from European countries in Washington at the Major Economies' Meeting and Climate Change Initiative led by the US. Xie also held several rounds of direct talks with, or made telephone calls to, his US counterpart Todd Stern last year. "To some degree, whether the US Congress passes a bill on clean energy and climate change will determine the outcome of the Cancun summit," Zhang added. ^ top ^
Beijing to help Islamabad build new reactors (Global Times)
Beijing confirmed Thursday that Chinese and Pakistani officials have signed an agreement to finance the construction of two nuclear reactors, to be built in Pakistan by Chinese firms. Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said Thursday that the nuclear deal conforms to international standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Besides the two new 650-megawatt reactors at Chashma in Punjab Province, a Chinese company also began building a reactor at Chashma in 1991 and broke ground on a second one in 2005, and the latter is expected to be completed next year, the Financial Times reported Thursday.
"Our Chinese brothers have once again lived up to our expectations. They have agreed to continue cooperating with us in the nuclear energy field," the paper quoted a Pakistani government official as saying, noting that the deal will help Islamabad cope with a crippling energy crisis. "The pending Sino-Pakistani deal reflects the growing confidence and assertiveness of China's nuclear energy program," AFP quoted a report released Thursday by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. Mark Hibbs, of the Carnegie Endowment, said the reason China is expanding deals in Pakistan is political, adding that China feels Pakistan should be compensated in some way for the US-India nuclear deal," according to the Financial Times. Fu Xiaoqiang, an expert at the Institute of South and Southeast Asian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that it is groundless to draw such conclusions for the purpose of Sino-Pakistani deals, emphasizing that the mutual cooperation follows the fair and transparent principles, with the supervision of the IAEA, and both sides have set up partnerships regarding civilian nuclear utilization rather than producing nuclear weapons.
The Carnegie Endowment report also mentioned that the US-India nuclear deal signed earlier this month, after considerable arm-twisting of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) states by the US, France and Russia, was one of the main reasons Washington can't openly criticize the Chinese nuclear-support to Islamabad. The NSG "had achieved a consensus on canceling restrictions on Indian nuclear exports in 2008, though India is not an NSG membership," said Shen Dingli, executive deputy president at the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University. "Pakistan, which is also outside the NSG, has not benefited from the policies as much as India." "Beijing and Islamabad had started joint civilian nuclear projects before China joined the NSG in 2004, which means the mutual cooperation is legal. Washington can't find reasons to criticize Sino-Pakistani nuclear cooperation," he stressed. ^ top ^
Sino-French ties back on track (People's Daily Online)
China and France on Wednesday pledged to draw a line under past tensions and breathe new life into their relationship by working together on issues from Iran to global monetary policy. In a joint appearance before the media after their talks, President Hu Jintao said his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy''s second state visit to China had "opened a new page" in bilateral relations. Hu also said he will visit France in the autumn, indicating Sino-French relations are back on track.
It is Sarkozy''s first visit to China since bilateral relations hit a trough in 2008 when the Olympic torch relay was disrupted in Paris and Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama. Hu is reported to have told Sarkozy during their meeting that "we should hold close consultations and strengthen political coordination on the reform of the international monetary system, climate change and other major issues". Sarkozy pledged France will work with China - which has sought greater say for developing countries in world financial affairs - for a new multi-polar system when it assumes the rotating leadership of the G20 from November. "We are going to prepare the French presidency of the G20 well in advance by thinking about a new multi-polar monetary order," he told reporters.
Iran''s nuclear program was also high on the agenda at the leaders'' meeting. Sarkozy stressed the urgency of ongoing efforts to curb Teheran''s nuclear program, saying new sanctions must be imposed if negotiations fail. "China hopes to use dialogue. France completely understands China, and we are willing to discuss this problem together at an appropriate time," Sarkozy said. "If dialogue does not work, then we can only use sanctions."
Three of the five UN Security Council permanent members -- France, Britain and the US -- have been pressing for a fourth round of UN penalties on Iran […]. Hu did not comment on Iran. […]
While France hopes to benefit from the rise of China's economic growth, the fact that Chinese manufacturers are increasingly developing and selling their own technology has made the market tougher for French planes and power plants, Reuters reported. During his first state visit to China in late 2007, Sarkozy struck deals for two nuclear reactors and 160 Airbus planes. No deal was announced on Wednesday even though Sarkozy's entourage included senior representatives of the top 20 French transnational firms. The two leaders agreed both countries would have "practical cooperation" in the nuclear, aviation, environment protection, energy and agriculture sectors. "One of the big questions of this trip is to find out whether France can resume its big-contract diplomacy," said Francois Godement, a China specialist at the Institute of Political Science in Paris. "How many trains are we going to sell to China, when it is selling its own high-speed trains as far afield as California and Saudi Arabia?" he told Reuters. ^ top ^
China to bring 'balance' to nuke meeting (Global Times)
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report released Monday that China, a vital country in the upcoming Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review meeting, to be held in New York on May 3, would balance the big nuclear powers and the non-nuclear weapon nations. The report, entitled "China and Nuclear Arms Control: Current Positions and Future Policies," states that China is expected to strengthen its nuclear forces, noting that "China is unlikely to take part in any unilateral or multilateral disarmament steps in the near to medium term." "Chinese steps to modernize its nuclear arsenal will stand out among the world's major nuclear weapons states," according to the report. "China has never evaded its responsibilities in nuclear disarmament, advocates the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons (and) always exercises utmost restraint in the development of nuclear weapons," an official from China's foreign ministry told the Global Times.
China pursues a defensive nuclear strategy and is committed to no-first-use of nuclear weapons, analysts said, responding to the report.
The nuclear issue has commanded the world's focus recently. As Washington published its Nuclear Posture Review, the US and Russia inked a new treaty to whittle down 30 percent of their strategic nuclear weapons, and a nuclear summit convened in Washington in a bid to secure fissile material from extremists. China, against this backdrop, has an "awkward" position in atomic diplomacy, according to a Reuters report, which claims that China, as a member of the club of five nuclear-weapons states, shares many developing countries' demands and grievances with that club. Gu Guoliang, an arms-control expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, criticized the misinterpretation of China's nuclear policy, while stressing that the country, as a responsible nuclear state, pursues a defensive and non-threatening strategy. […] "China's development of nuclear forces aims to maintain strategic deterrence against nuclear superpowers (that seek to) harness their dominance to interfere in our internal affairs, and to counter the expectant intimidation," Gu added. "Furthermore, China's nuclear strategy will not pose a menace as the Chinese government explicitly states no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances," Gu added. "China has maintained a small nuclear stockpile. The limited nuclear weapons are just enough for defensive uses. China always maintains its nuclear forces at the lowest level, the minimum need to preserve national security," He Maochun, professor at Tsinghua University, said. "China will actively participate in the international nuclear disarmament process and join in the global effort to keep in check nuclear proliferation," He added. ^ top ^
Chinese premier calls for cooperation with Japan to seize opportunities, tackle challenges (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday called for increased cooperation with Japan to seize opportunities and cope with challenges. Wen made the remarks in a congratulatory letter for a meeting marking the 30th anniversary of the China-Japan Forum on Exchange of Economic Knowledge.
As major world economies, China and Japan are important trade partners, Wen said, noting that East Asia's economic growth caught the world's attention during the international financial crisis. Wen applauded the forum's role in proposing policy for promoting China-Japan economic dialogue and cooperation. Over the past 30 years, meetings were held annually and members from both nations exchanged views on the world economy and major issues concerning the two countries' development and reform. The premier expressed hope the forum will continue to discuss ways to expand economic and trade cooperation to contribute to the development of mutually beneficial strategic relations. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama also sent a congratulatory letter to the forum. He spoke highly of the forum's efforts and expressed hope it will continue to play a constructive role in the strengthening of bilateral ties.
Proposed by Deng Xiaoping, the forum was initiated by then Vice Premier Gu Mu and former Japanese Foreign Minister Saburo Okita in 1981 as a regular mechanism for China-Japan dialogue. The many valuable views and policy proposals emanating from the forum have contributed to the development of China-Japan friendship and economic cooperation. ^ top ^
EU-China cooperation benefits from EEAS: Barroso (Global Times)
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the emerging European External Action Service (EEAS) will benefit EU-China cooperation and continue to foster the close bilateral ties established in the past five years. On April 29, Barroso will embark on his first trip to China since the start of the new commission. Leading a high-level delegation of commissioners including the Vice-President of the European Commission and High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, he will go first to Beijing, then to Shanghai for the opening ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo 2010. In an exclusive interview with Xinhua on the eve of his visit, Barroso said the EU's current foreign policy concerning China, based on mutual respect and friendly relations, has been consistent and will continue under the EEAS, which is being set up by Ashton.
According to Barroso, the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty will make European foreign policy more coherent, faster in response and stronger thanks to the support of the EEAS, whose objective is to better coordinate the EU's foreign policy so that the bloc can become a stronger partner to other countries including China. The objective of the EU's reform under the Lisbon Treaty is "to speak with one voice" so as to play a role in the global foreign policy setting commensurate to its economic weight, and to have a stronger position than the combined weight of individual member states has been given today. "This will open up many opportunities to increase our cooperation with China across the board, not least in addressing global challenges," Barroso said, citing climate change, environmental protection, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, energy security and poverty alleviation in Africa. These issues require that the EU work closer with China under the new diplomatic system, he said, adding "the same is true on the bilateral side."
Barroso said he is looking forward to the meeting between the European Commission and the Chinese leadership. "We will seize this opportunity to generate positive momentum in our 35-years' relationship and develop a far-reaching agenda for the next five years". According to the president, the meeting will mainly address bilateral issues, notably perspectives of EU-China relations, as well as important global challenges such as the economic and financial crisis, climate change and international security issues. […] Barroso said the two sides need to further boost bilateral trade, cut unnecessary regulatory obstacles and create an even more welcoming environment for cross-border investment. "After all, we are key markets for each other: We are China's biggest trade partner, and China is our second-largest trade partner." In his view, the EU and China have taken a leadership role in shaping a global response to the financial crisis since 2008. In fact, their most important joint decision was to resist protectionism and to keep markets open. Barroso, together with his Chinese partners, will open the Europe-China Clean Energy Center in Beijing on April 30 to strengthen research and cooperation in the area of clean and renewable energy. […]
Concerning climate talks, Barroso said the commission's objective remains a strong international legal framework to address climate change since the Copenhagen Accord is a staging post and not an end result. […] The EU issued a communique in early March, elaborating the bloc's standpoints on climate change for the first time since the Copenhagen talks in December and also reaffirming the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities." "We will step up our dialogue with China over months to come to seek the most robust outcome for Cancun," Barroso said. ^ top ^
China urges IMF to accelerate quota adjustment (Global Times)
China's central bank chief on Friday called for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to accelerate its process to shift its quota to emerging market and developing countries. "The quota structure is the core issue in Fund governance. The severe underrepresentation of emerging market and developing countries in the IMF seriously affects the Fund's legitimacy and effectiveness, and must be promptly corrected," said Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of People's Bank of China at the IMF and its sister institution -- the World Bank's spring meeting in Washington. The Group of 20 (G20) Pittsburgh Summit in September had called for a shift of at least 5 percentage points, and protection of the voting rights of the poorest countries before January 2011. But so far the quota adjustment process is slow. The previous quota reform, which was already approved by the IMFC -- the IMF's steering committee -- in 2008, has not been completed until now.
Zhou said that the IMF is a quota-based institution, and quotas should be its primary resource. He emphasized that quota adjustment and reform is not a zero- sum game. "A Fund with a more reasonable governance structure will be better able to protect global economic and financial stability which will benefit all member countries. We urge the Fund to accelerate its work, and complete quota reviews on schedule in accordance with the G20 Pittsburgh Summit and IMFC objectives," Zhou said. According to the IMF's latest World Economic Outlook report, growth speeds of developing countries are much faster than the advanced economies, meaning their weight in the global economy is increasing dramatically.
However, quota of the developing countries in the IMF is underrepresented. "We expect the review to leave no member's quota share severely misaligned," Zhou said. ^ top ^
US, China to hold new round of human rights dialogue in May (Global Times)
The US-China Human Rights Dialogue will take place on May 13-14 in Washington, announced US State Department on Thursday. The US delegation will be led by Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner. The Chinese delegation will be headed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for International Organizations Chen Xu. The human rights dialogue, which was scheduled by the end of February, had been delayed due to tensions between Washington and Beijing over US arms sale to Taiwan and US President Barack Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama early this year.
According to the joint statement issued by the two countries during President Obama's visit to China last November, China and the United States underlined that each country and its people have the right to choose their own path, and agreed to hold the next round of human rights dialogue in Washington by the end of February 2010. "Both sides recognized that China and the United States have differences on the issue of human rights," said the statement, " Addressing these differences in the spirit of equality and mutual respect, as well as promoting and protecting human rights consistent with international human rights instruments, the two sides agreed to hold the next round of the official human rights dialogue in Washington D.C. by the end of February 2010." The two sides agreed that promoting cooperation in the field of law and exchanges on the rule of law serves the interests and needs of the citizens and governments of both countries. ^ top ^
Human rights lawyer disappears, again (SCMP)
Gao Zhisheng, a prominent human rights lawyer who returned to his Beijing home earlier this month after being held in detention for more than a year, has disappeared again after enjoying just days of limited freedom, according to friends. Gao was allowed back to his Beijing apartment on April 6, some 14 months after unidentified police dragged him from his family home in Shaanxi province, providing no explanation for the detention. He was seen leaving his apartment sometime between April 9 and April 12, and getting into a vehicle parked outside his building. He was carrying just a backpack when he left.
Li Heping, a fellow lawyer who is close to Gao, says he has been taken to Urumqi, where he hoped to visit his wife's father, who lives in the capital of Xinjiang. Gao's wife, son and daughter fled to the United States in January 2009, with the help of banned spiritual movement the Falun Gong. Gao was detained within weeks of his family fleeing. In a conversation some 36 hours after returning to his Beijing apartment with this reporter and other friends, Gao said he was expecting to be allowed to travel to Urumqi in a few days to see his in-laws. Gao's father-in-law said Gao was brought to his house by four police officers after arriving in the city, but spent just one night there before police took him away again. […]
Officials might have thought that returning him to Beijing would stop any interest in his case, said Li, but the opposite happened. "They discovered after Gao returned to Beijing that he had become the focus of local and international attention," he said. "They're afraid. "The party leaders have widely diverging views on how Gao should be dealt with. They're very conflicted." During his meeting with this reporter, Gao asked that he not be quoted regarding his treatment while in captivity, saying: "If this is reported, I'll disappear again. "I don't want to say much more. I hope this time, I will have contact with my family for a bit longer." Despite knowing his apartment was being tapped, Gao was quite outspoken during the conversation, seemingly contradicting statements he made the day before in a Beijing teahouse that he had given up fighting for others. Sitting in his Beijing apartment, he appeared in good spirits. However, he was clearly concerned about his family in the US. ^ top ^
Man stabs 29 kids in kindergarten (Global Times)
[…] A total of 29 young children, along with two teachers and a security guard, were stabbed or cut Thursday morning at the Zhongxin Kindergarten in Taixing City, east Jiangsu Province, according to local police. Two of the children were later listed in critical condition, according to Zhu Guiming, an official with the local publicity department. An initial police investigation indicated that Xu Yuyuan, a 47-year-old local jobless man, broke into a classroom at the kindergarten with a 20-centimeter blade and began attacking indiscriminately. Before police apprehended Xu, he was knocked down by an unidentified man with a fire extinguisher, the China News Agency reported.
The attack came a day after another man cut and stabbed 15 students and a teacher at a primary school in Leizhou, Guangdong Province, nearly 1,500 kilometers away. The suspect in that stabbing was identified as Chen Kangbing, reported by the Xinhua News Agency to be mentally ill and on sick leave since February 2006. The two rampages are the latest in a string of similar violent attacks on schoolchildren in the country, some of which have been deadly. Media outlets reported Thursday that Xu has been jobless since 2001, when he was sacked from his position as a salesman at a local insurance company. He was subsequently charged with participating in illegal pyramid schemes of an unspecified nature. […]
China's educational authorities set up on Wednesday an emergency consulting group comprised of 22 experts from 22 leading universities across the country, with the aim of improving safety at schools. Experts cited mental disorders as a possible reason for such vicious, unprovoked attacks. Luo Dahua, a professor of criminal psychology at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, said that people are susceptible to psychological stress when societal development speeds up rapidly, and he urged measures be taken, such as strengthening police patrols at school areas, to prevent the occurrence of similar rampages. Other experts, particularly those specializing in media reporting, also warned that coverage of such attacks could provoke copycat attacks. Liu Xiaoying, an associate professor at the Communication University of China, said, "There is a dilemma for authorities and the press, regarding the release of too many details of such incidents. The media should avoid elaborating on the methods the offenders use to commit crimes, as that could be used by someone else with ulterior motives to attract attention and vent anger by imitat-ing similar behavior.". ^ top ^
Beijing to release Cultural Revolution docs (Global Times)
The government is set to declassify next year, for the first time, some of its documents from the Cultural Revolution era, as part of a project of "Selection of Beijing's Important Documents." The Beijing Archive Bureau said a board of editors, composed of historians from the Beijing Archive and the Beijing Municipal Party History Office, will select Party decrees, government orders and legislative bills dating from the decade between 1966 and 1976. "In our work, we want to honor the truth and be respectful to history," said a media officer of the bureau surnamed Zhang. She also said that the editors will be selective and publish only those that "have a historical significance and best epitomize" the period. But she did not elaborate on how this would be determined.
Since 2000, Beijing Archive has published 17 volumes of the city's historical files dating to between 1949 and 1965, in collaboration with the Party history institute. Fifty percent of the documents that had been considered were left out, and 80 percent of those that were selected had not been seen by the public before. Beijing Archive is now preparing the volumes from 1966 to the present. "We believe this project is a big contribution to the study of the history of the Municipal Party Committee, how it governed and grew over time," Zhang said. But Peking University history professor Lin Meicun, who lived through the Cultural Revolution, said "with history, you don't pick and choose." Lin also said that "it takes every single piece available to make the picture as complete as it can be. Besides, who is to decide what is important and epitomizes the period." "We are a nation that doesn't believe in God, and history is how morality has been taught since the time of Confucius," he continued. "This is what Liu Shaoqi meant when he said to Mao Zedong 'You will be remembered in the history books for what you did,' when he tried to halt Mao's Great Leap Forward movement." "There is still a lot we don't know about the Cultural Revolution, and some things we know are anecdotal. We need the whole truth and we need it from a credible source," Lin concluded. ^ top ^
Mental health concerns in Yushu (Global Times)
Victims of the deadly Yushu earthquake should have access to psychological intervention programs to help them cope with rebuilding their lives from scratch, experts who worry that severe psychological problems may trigger suicide said. At least 2,220 people died as a result of the magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Yushu in Northwest China's Qinghai Province on April 14, which also left 200,000 survivors who were injured, emotionally hurt or reeling from the loss of family members and friends.
Liang Wannian, director of the emergency office at the Ministry of Health, told the Beijing-based Legal Daily Wednesday that a high suicide rate is possible in post-quake areas, as survivors feel helpless as they try to get over the terrifying experience. "We have sent out psychological specialists to help with counseling in Yushu and trained 186 local consultants who are familiar with the Tibetan language and local customs," said Liang. "Also, we will try to work out tailored psychological recovery plans for those who were seriously injured," Liang said. Ji Quanjia, a local resident who lost his 4-year-old daughter in the earthquake, blames himself for not protecting his daughter. […] Hu Shenzhi, a Guangzhou-based psychology expert, told the paper that Ji's reaction is common in a crisis and he needs to forgive himself for his daughter's death. "Psychological problems will become frequent in the first three months after the earthquake," Lu Tao, a professor in Qinghai Health Vocational Technical School, told the People's Daily Wednesday. "A new Yushu will stand up only when the psychological counseling is completed," Lu added.
Cheng Xi, a Beijing-based psychological consultant, told the Global Times Wednesday that immediate psychological intervention for quake survivors is essential but a long-term psychological intervention plan is crucial. "The most important thing to do now is to ensure their sense of security and help them go back to a normal life, which is the basis for providing psychological help," said Cheng. He said also that religion and local customs might help survivors deal with their pain. Many Tibetans requested a Buddhist ceremony for funerals and, Changu Temple, one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist temples in Yushu, carried out its first ceremony Wednesday, the China National Radio reported. ^ top ^
Major challenges facing reconstruction, resettlement tasks (Global Times)
Efforts to rebuild remote and mountainous Yushu after the deadly April 14 earthquake should fit local disaster-prone conditions so as to avoid wasting money and resources, experts warned Monday. Meanwhile, a senior official urged that sufficient funding was vital to reconstruction, as chal-lenges such as limited transportation routes and fragile power supplies persisted. As the death toll from the 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which almost flattened Yushu Prefecture in Qinghai Province, reached 2,220 Sunday, with 70 people still missing, officials vowed an "organized and scientific" arrangement for some 200,000 quake-stricken residents. Zhang Guangrong, vice governor of Qinghai, said Monday that severe climatic conditions, the high cost of construction materials, and weak transportation capacity made it difficult for the provincial government to carry out reconstruction and resettlement. "Furthermore, winter in Yushu lasts about 8 months a year, which means we have limited construction time. Take three years for example, that's still only 14 to 15 months that are suitable for construction work," Zhang said.
[…] "As of 5 pm Sunday, we have received donations totaling 3.5 billion yuan in cash, plus relief materials valued at 4 billion yuan," Zhang told reporters. Donations from around the world are still streaming in, and the central government has arranged a 500-million-yuan ($73 million) emergency fund for disaster relief work as well. […] Strengthened supervision of the relief fund and materials in Yushu has been called for to prevent dereliction of duty and embezzlement after media reported that the national audit office detected 300 million yuan in aid money was misused after the Wenchuan quake in May 2008.
Li Jingguo, a researcher at the Urban Development and Environmental Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said Yushu is a region prone to natural disasters and climate change and post-quake reconstruction must be adapted to the local ecological conditions. The provincial government has already started reconstruction work by clearing away the debris of collapsed buildings, reopening schools and repairing damaged infrastructure in Yushu. […] The vice governor said the reconstruction framework plan was to turn quake-devastated Gyegu town into "a plateau ecological tourist city." […] Sheng Guoyao, an expert specializing in urban development for the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at CASS, said that it is reasonable to position the new Yushu as an eco-tourism city because the tough local geological conditions restrict it from developing industries, agriculture and animal husbandry on a large scale. […]. ^ top ^
Monks dispute official body count (SCMP)
Both the government and the Tibetan monasteries in Yushu, Qinghai, stood firm on their earthquake body counts yesterday, underlining a disparity that is more than a matter of numbers. Almost two weeks after the 7.1-magnitude quake struck, the government announced yesterday that the focus of official efforts would move from rescue to rebuilding Yushu. It said the death toll was 2,220 as of Sunday, with 70 still missing. However, monasteries both inside and outside Yushu - which many Tibetan families had entrusted with prayers and burial ceremonies - said the figure was much higher. For example, according to the living Buddha of Jiegu Monastery, the biggest local monastery in the town, a total of 2,110 bodies were cremated on April 17 alone.
The huge disparity in the two death counts could sow the seeds of worrying post-quake discontent in the fragile Tibetan region, as monks command great respect and trust among the local population. The danger of this happening has left Qinghai vice-governor Zhang Guangrong to try and defend the government's count. "Since the quake, we have calculated the death toll strictly according to procedures," he said yesterday in Beijing. "We collect the number every day by 5pm and then report it according to procedures. The number we now announce is completely supported by evidence, and strictly reported according to statistics in the quake zone. It is reliable." Ma Junde, vice-chief of Qinghai's Civil Affairs Department, added that by Sunday the total number of bodies so far was 2,192 - which breaks down to 593 buried, 917 cremated, 576 cremated by monasteries, and another 106 cremated outside Yushu.
The State Council Information Office further explained that Yushu was divided into 19 districts and each had specialised officials collating the number of deaths. Rescue teams would also send their numbers to the Qinghai quake headquarters where officials were engaged in comparing the figures before making any public announcement. Neither Qinghai officials nor Guo responded to questions as to whether the government had worked together with the monasteries to arrive at a total.
The monks said they were surprised at the latest official death toll. "There are still people coming to us from outside Jiegu town and asking for prayer services for their family members," said a local monk who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. Estimates provided by monks of the likely final death toll for the devastating quake ranged from at least 4,000 and up to more than 10,000. They said the official figure was strikingly low given the various accounts by the quake witnesses shortly after the disaster hit. […] Several Tibetan monasteries said they had their own proof but refused to make it public, citing heightened political pressure in the quake zone at the moment. Many locals who survived the tremor also expressed doubt over the government figure. […] A Tibetan man in his 60s said: "We've heard so many cases of under-reporting or cover-ups by the government from monks and rescuers. How can we believe they are not fudging such sensitive figures as they did often in the past?". ^ top ^
Corruption trial begins for top ex-official (Global Times)
Zhu Zhigang, a former director of the Budgetary Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, appeared in court Monday on corruption charges. Prosecutors in Xinyang, Henan Province, said Zhu helped others gain profits, secured loans and helped with ap-pointments to public positions by taking advantage of his posts as assistant finance minister and deputy finance minister, from January 2000 to March 2008. In return, he accepted bribes worth more than 7.44 million yuan ($1.09 million), prosecutors said. The Xinyang Intermediate People's Court handled the case. The hearing was open. No ruling was issued.
Zhu was stripped of his membership in the Communist Party of China (CPC) in June last year due to "severe violation of disciplines and the law." He was expelled from the NPC in December 2008, two months after the NPC Standing Committee endorsed Zhu's resignation from the positions of NPC Standing Committee member, director of the Budgetary Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, and vice chairman of the NPC Financial and Economic Affairs Committee. Zhu, who was born in May 1950 in Beijing, was elected an NPC deputy for northwestern Shaanxi Province. ^ top ^
Death toll in NW China quake rises to 2,203 (People's Daily Online)
The death toll from a 7.1-magnitude earthquake in northwest China's Qinghai Province on April 24 has climbed to 2,203, the rescue headquarters said late Saturday. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, 73 people were still missing, the headquarters said. Civil affairs authorities in Qinghai also said Saturday they would raise the monthly allowance for orphaned children, widowed elderly and disabled people in the wake of the quake. Ma Danzhu, head of the disaster relief division under the provincial department of civil affairs, said the monthly allowance would be raised to 1,000 yuan (146 U.S. dollars) per person, from 600 yuan as normal standard, for three months. Families of the dead, including locals and migrant workers, also will receive 8,000 yuan in subsidies for each death, according to a policy announced earlier. ^ top ^
Largest-ever Expo gears up (Global Times)
After nearly eight years of preparation and six rounds of trial runs, Shanghai will kick off its massive World Expo tonight with fireworks and an opening extravaganza, a day before the showcase opens its gates to visitors from all over the world. The foreign ministry revealed Thursday that 20 heads of state and government will attend the opening ceremony, and Chinese President Hu Jintao, who paid a visit to the Expo park Thursday, was scheduled to meet them. Their arrival means Shanghai will see the largest number of foreign leaders gather in the city since 1843, when it became an open port. "The Expo is yet another important international gathering following the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games," Hu said when meeting Denis Sassou Nguesso and Ali Bongo Ondimba, his counterparts from the Republic of Congo and Gabon, respectively. "With the strong support from other developing nations, China was sure to host a successful, spectacular and memorable exposition."
Shanghai, China's most cosmopolitan city, has made unprecedented efforts in preparation for the Expo. Local officials said that direct investment in the Expo, both governmental and private, is 28.6 billion yuan ($4.2 billion), including the venue's construction and six-month operation. If the cost of infrastructure is included, the total budget would be between 300 billion and 400 billion yuan ($44 billion to $58.5 billion), the Shanghai-based 21st Century Business Herald reported. The city has spruced up the Bund, a strip of historic riverfront buildings, added hundreds of kilometers of subway lines and built new terminals at its domestic and international airports. In a tightening of security, subway stations are conducting more baggage checks, and guards have been stationed on all buses of the 42 Expo routes and at thousands of bus stops. In all, 8,000 firemen will be on fist-degree alert today and tomorrow. Expo visitors to will have to pass through airport-style safety checks before being allowed to enter the park, following the same standards as the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Mo Jihong, a professor at the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the organization of the Expo involves nationwide support, and all kinds of resources can be mobilized at short notice. "It can also help enhance national cohesion and give people a sense of participation," he said, adding that China can bring a new dynamic to the 159-year-old global event by investing tremendous efforts to host it. AFP commented that China is treating the Expo as a display of the nation's ability to organize events on a scale as massive as the hosting of the Beijing Olympics. Shanghai wants to put the World Expo, which has in recent years largely dropped off the world's radar, back on the stage as the first developing country to host the event, encouraging countries large and small to take the Expo seriously and use it as a means to improve foreign ties and increase trade, Reuters said.
While some 189 countries are vying with each other to present the best they have in the largest World Expo ever, whose theme is "Better city, better life," multinational companies and trade officials will use the opportunity to forge connections. The Expo has provided a boost to Shanghai's efforts to transform itself into a global financial center by showcasing its managerial expertise and economic vitality, Lian Ping, chief economist at the Bank of Communications, said in an interview with Xinhua News Agency Thursday. The Chinese government decided in March 2009 to build Shanghai into an international financial and shipping center, in line with the country's economic strength and the international status of its currency, by 2020. […]. ^ top ^
Is Shanghai really ready to host this stunning international extravaganza? (SCMP)
On Saturday, Shanghai opens the doors on what is billed as the greatest world's fair in history. More than 70 million people are expected to walk through the gates during World Expo 2010's six-month run to marvel at pavilions from 192 countries and 52 international organisations. But the fair's massive 5.28 square kilometre site - by far the largest in the fair's 159-year history - pales into insignificance when compared with the extraordinary changes that have been taking place across the city.
Since getting the nod to host the expo in 2002, the city's government has been striving to bring about a transformation of epic proportions, intended to mark the city's return as one of the planet's leading metropolises. Massive infrastructure projects and transport improvements have been moulding the urban landscape, purging the old and run-down to create a shiny new face for the city. The change is not merely physical, and there has been a corresponding blitz of social education campaigns pleading with citizens to adopt a more "cultured" mindset. Propagandists have set their sights on what they see as embarrassing local habits like littering, speaking Shanghaiese and wearing pyjamas in the street.
Shanghai-based historian Peter Hibbard said he could see parallels between the changes and the golden age of Shanghai before the second world war. "In the 1920s and '30s, people flocked to Shanghai from all over China," he said. "The city was undergoing development that was arguably at an even greater pace and scale than today. Shanghai at that time essentially was a world expo and people rushed to see it. "The city is now reclaiming its status as the centre for trade and commerce, which of course is what it was during the '20s and '30s."
In the past month, Shanghai has been emerging from an eight-year cocoon of construction. Long drawn-out projects - from new underground stations to renovations of historical buildings and the landscaping of parks and waterways - have suddenly reached completion. Everywhere there is the smell of fresh paint and the sight of newly laid turf. Over the coming weeks and months, it will become clear whether the result of the metamorphosis is a butterfly or a moth. The initial prognosis, however, is not overwhelmingly positive. What should have been a chance for the city to bask in glory rivalling the Beijing Olympics two years ago, is increasingly looking as though it could blow up in the organisers' face. Questions have been raised about the city's readiness to host the international mega-fair following scenes of chaos and confusion during the soft opening last week. Visitors during the six test-opening days were stunned to find extensive construction work still going on - including landscaping of the park - and at the degree of disorganisation in crowd control, ticketing and food outlets. Organisers have even had to change the locks on toilet doors after 80 visitors were locked in their cubicles in a single day. Only on Sunday - when close to 400,000 reportedly visited the park - did the numbers reach the projected average daily gate expected. Facilities remained stretched to capacity on the other five days even though they had far fewer than half that many visitors; just 50,000 visited on the second day and 100,000 on Tuesday, But they still caused enormous queues at the most popular national pavilions. Many observers are now starting to suggest that the event, rather than showing how far Shanghai has progressed, in fact serves to demonstrate just how far it still has to go. "The Beijing Olympics wowed the world with just how quickly China had changed," said an official connected to one European pavilion. "If this expo is the disaster it looks like it could be, then it will really set back the country's reputation."
However, architecture and urban planning commentator Xu Yinsheng suggested the naysayers were being premature in writing off the expo's impact. "It will take time for the real benefits of the expo to become objectively seen," Xu said. "It takes several years for the results of new projects to embed themselves into people's minds and change the way they see the city." Although he admitted many newly completed infrastructure projects were not perfect as yet, over time they could not fail to raise the quality of life for the city's residents. "The most important impact, in my opinion, will be due to improvements to public transport," he said. "This has the most direct impact on people's everyday lives and it is already improving the city's image." That image has been steadily climbing the ranks in international comparison tables for cities in terms of competitiveness and living standards. In October, the Institute for Urban Strategies at the Mori Memorial Foundation in Japan placed Shanghai 21st on its Global Power City Index, which looked at a number of indicators related to the economy, research and development, cultural interaction, liveability, ecology and accessibility. Hong Kong ranked 10th in the league. ^ top ^
Top 7 foreign pavilions worth 'wait' in gold (China Daily)
The seven most popular pavilions during Expo 2010 Shanghai's soft opening, which ended on Monday, belong to the United States, Australia, Spain, France, Japan, Thailand and Italy, Expo organizers said. The list, which was issued at a meeting over the weekend, did not include which order of popularity the pavilions came in, said officials at the Thai Pavilion who attended the meeting. The list omits China's "Oriental Crown", which trumps the others by a huge margin. Many pavilions had still not opened as of Monday. As some on the list were open temporarily - the USA Pavilion, for example, has only welcomed guests for three mornings of the six-day trial - the rankings may take earlier polls into account. These predicted the US would be the most popular foreign pavilion during Expo 2010. The rankings also exclude countries that have been highly anticipated but only opened for several hours, such as the United Kingdom. The UK had to close its eye-catching "Seed Cathedral" within three hours last Tuesday due to overcrowding, but it was operating again on Monday, with a sign outside warning people of a three-hour wait. "A lot of people are going on countries' reputations, countries they know something about," said David Martin, the pavilion's deputy director. "But once all the blogs get out there and someone says, 'Have you seen the Venezuelan Pavilion? It's amazing', that could all change."
As one-third of the pavilions were not ready by Monday, lines should shorten from Saturday when the Expo officially opens. "Once you have 150 pavilions to choose from, people may look at the sign and think twice about coming in. Then again, we've had the sign up all day and it hasn't stopped them (from lining up)," said Martin, as he looked at the lines of people waiting patiently to enter the UK Pavilion. Visitors seem to have based their decisions on three factors: style, familiarity and ease of access. […] A total of 100,000 people visited The Expo on Monday, taking the total number of visitors for the six-day period to 1.1 million. […]. ^ top ^
Teacher stabs 16 pupils in Guangdong (Global Times)
A knife-wielding teacher in western Guangdong stabbed 16 primary schoolchildren and one of their teachers yesterday, causing severe injuries. The stabbing spree took place at Leicheng No1 Primary School in Leizhou at 3pm - on the same day that Zheng Minsheng, 42, was executed for killing eight children and wounding five at the gate of their primary school in adjacent Fujian province on March 23. None of the wounds to the 17 victims yesterday was life-threatening, China News Service said. One witness said the suspect later attempted to commit suicide by climbing onto the fourth floor of a school construction project, but he was captured before he could throw himself off the building. Police took the suspect, a teacher at a school in Baisha town and aged in his 40s, to the nearby Chengnei police substation. His motive for the attack was not known, the report added. […]
In Nanping, Fujian, the execution of Zheng, a former surgeon, took place after his appeal was rejected by the Supreme People's Court, Xinhua reported yesterday. It ended a case that sparked concern about school security nationwide. The mother of a student at the school in Leicheng said yesterday that she was satisfied with the school's security because both the front gate and the back door of the campus were constantly guarded. She said security might have been lax yesterday with a competition held at the school of teaching methods between top teachers from different towns. There was speculation that the suspect may have been one of the teachers who took part in the competition. Guangdong Communist Party secretary Wang Yang ordered a thorough investigation into the incident with details of the case to be publicised in a timely manner. ^ top ^
HK savers join rush to profit from yuan rise (SCMP)
Hongkongers are piling into the yuan on hopes that the value of the currency will rise. Customers at city banks have switched their Hong Kong deposits into yuan deposits, mirroring a shift by large equity fund managers into stocks likely to benefit from such a trend. Hong Kong dollar deposits converted into yuan in February amounted to 2.57 billion yuan (HK$2.92 billion), according to data from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, double the 1.26 billion yuan converted in February last year. Total deposits stood at 66.09 billion yuan at the end of February, up 22.46 per cent from February last year. HSBC, the largest deposit-taking institution in Hong Kong, saw a 90 per cent rise in its customer yuan deposits last month and that trend had continued this month, it said. Speculation that the yuan may be revalued has mounted in line with increased pressure from the United States, which wants to see Beijing lift the yuan exchange rate, while the International Monetary Fund last week also urged China to let the yuan appreciate, arguing that the currency was substantially undervalued, to boost the country's exports.
Mark Konyn, chief executive of pension fund manager RCM Asia Pacific, said he expected the yuan to appreciate by 5 per cent this year, in line with an HSBC forecast. "The yuan is likely to revalue this year as a result of the political pressure. This is why both retail investors and fund managers are taking action to capture the potential growth in the currency," Konyn said. […]
The Monetary Authority announced a range of measures in February to allow banks to conduct more business in yuan for corporate clients in Hong Kong. The measures form part of the government's effort to allow the city to develop its role as an offshore centre for yuan business, and to help the yuan become an international currency. The new measures allow banks to open accounts for any Hong Kong or overseas company to settle its trades in yuan. Before, only trading firms were allowed to do this. The measures also allow companies to apply for bank loans or lines of credit in yuan for project finance purposes. In addition, companies will be allowed to issue yuan bonds in the city, an activity currently restricted to financial firms on the mainland. McDonagh said these new measures led some retail customers to make yuan deposits to prepare for yuan bond investments or other yuan investment products. Some business people had also exchanged more yuan to prepare for their needs on the mainland, she said.
"HSBC is prepared to launch more yuan products. We will announce the launch of yuan insurance products soon. This is in addition to our full range of yuan services in deposit-taking, cheque services, currency exchange, remittance, credit cards and yuan bonds," she said. A spokesman for Hang Seng Bank said yuan exchange transactions and yuan deposits recorded double-digit growth in the first quarter. The bank expected the trend to continue if the yuan appreciated. Other banks have also opted to expand their yuan business. Harrison Ho, first vice-president and head of insurance at Fubon Bank (Hong Kong) (SEHK: 0636), said the bank and its partner China Life (SEHK: 2628, announcements, news) Insurance would start to sell yuan insurance products in the second quarter. "We have seen increasing demand from customers for short-term insurance products in yuan as they want to bet on a valuation gain," Ho said. RCM's Konyn said the fund management sector was also preparing for a stronger yuan and, besides investing in mainland H-shares, they had made changes to the investment choices offered to customers. […]. ^ top ^
Taiwan mulls cross-Straits pact (Global Times)
Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou Sunday outperformed his main opposition counterpart Tsai Ing-wen in a televised debate over a major trade pact with the Chinese mainland, a simultaneous opinion poll by a local newspaper indicated, marking a step further toward the prospect of signing the deal that would slash tariffs. The debate, unprecedented in Taiwan, is expected to sway public opinion toward the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) set to be signed with the mainland in June. "If we don't close this deal, what else can we do? The rest of Asia is forming alliances," Ma said, stressing the significance of such a trade pact, as he argued that it would prevent the economy from being marginalized at a time when regional trade barriers are threatening its economic development. […]
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party chairwoman Tsai fired back by saying the process of signing the ECFA is not transparent and by accusing the mainland of having a "political purpose" for the deal. "Over three quarters of Taiwanese have no awareness of the content of the ECFA," Tsai argued.[…] The pact will cover major economic activities across the Taiwan Straits, including market access for the trade of commodities and services, rules of origin, an early harvest program, trade remedies, dispute settlement, investment and economic cooperation. Tsai argued that the treaty could bring great harm for local Taiwan businesses and farmers, while her opinions were shot down by Ma. More than 1,000 Web users participated in an survey by the Taipei-based China Times, in which 67.1 percent of respondents insisted that Ma had apparently won the debate.[…] "It's the first time I've witnessed such a fierce debate between leaders here," said Lin Kuhua, a tea dealer in Taipei. […]
Lai Ronghua, a fruit farmer from Tainan County, where mountainous land provides ideal conditions to grow fruits, told the Global Times that the agriculture in Taiwan embraces its own characteristics, which are unlikely to be imitated by the mainland. "So there is no need to worry, and I believe the signing of the pact is an inevitable thing that would bring benefit to both sides. "Taiwan is developing its agricultural sector, which is good in management and quality. That's our advantage," Lai added.
The mainland is Taiwan's largest export market. Statistics from the mainland's Ministry of Commerce show that trade between the mainland and Taiwan reached $31.44 billion in the first three months of the year, up about 73 percent year-on-year. From January to March this year, the Chinese mainland approved 595 projects with investment from Taiwan, and recorded an inflow of $580 million of investment from the island. Tsai argued in the debate that local businesses, attracted by the elimination of tariffs as proposed under the pact, would invest in the mainland, which would use the lack of tariffs to sell the products back to Taiwan cheaply, which could force more local companies to move to the mainland. Ma, in response, argued that tariffs would also provide advantages for local businesses to export their products to the mainland, and under a closely monitored system the illegal imports of mainland's products that damage local manufacturers could be avoided. In addition, Jiang Zengwei, honorary president of the mainland-based Association for Economy and Trade across the Taiwan Straits, said last month that more benefits could be realized through an early harvest program and tariff reductions within the ECFA framework.
Another argument opposing the signing of the ECFA with the mainland is that the unemployment rate might be pushed higher. The Taiwan Think Tank said early this month that the jobs of 5.92 million Taiwanese workers would be threatened by an ECFA, according to the Taipei Times. They included 3.21 million in the service sector, 1.89 million in traditional industries and 820,000 in electronics and petrochemicals. In the debate, Tsai also questioned Ma on what measures he would take to combat this threat. Ma said the reduced tariff would attract more foreign investors to Taiwan, while citing Taiwanese endeavors made in the past year in recovering from the financial crisis. […]. ^ top ^
Tibet dam project faces risk of big earthquakes (SCMP)
Powerful earthquakes and ethnic tension in a remote region of Tibet pose a threat to a controversial hydroelectric project on the most important river China shares with India, according to experts in the area's geology and population. The construction of the Zangmu hydroelectric project, the biggest in Tibet, has attracted international attention after Beijing briefed Indian officials last week on the location and capacity of the project and the progress of construction work. New Delhi fears damming the Yarlung Zangbo River, known as the Brahmaputra in India, could harm downstream flows in one of Asia's most economically vital waterways. The Zangmu Dam is the first of five planned for the 100-kilometre Jiacha Canyon southeast of Lhasa, the regional capital, but no timetable has been given for the completion of the dam or the project. When the dams are finished, three will be higher in elevation than the Zangmu Dam, and one lower.
Yang Yong, an independent geologist based in Sichuan who recently returned from a trek to the Jiacha Canyon in Sangri and Jiacha counties, said he was surprised by the decision to build dams there. "When I first saw the canyon, it took my breath away," Yang said. "Huge mountains suddenly surged from a piece of flat land, forming two almost vertical walls to the horizon. This is fresh evidence of violent geological movement. I can't imagine a more dangerous spot to build dams. "The Jiacha Canyon sits right above an enormous, active fault. It is exactly where the tectonic plates of India and Eurasia meet." These seismic challenges will test China's energy ambitions in Tibet. At a time when the central government is turning to Tibet's plentiful hydroelectric resources to satisfy the increasing demand for electric power, the success or failure of the Zangmu Dam would have a significant impact on the pace of hydroelectric development in the region, experts say. "The canyon has, no doubt, trapped an enormous amount of hydroelectric resources. From the point of view of energy exploitation, it is a dam paradise," Yang said. "But the site is not safe. Huge earthquakes have struck the region in recent history. Landslides occur often. Such natural disasters not only threaten the safety of the dam - they could be intensified or even created by the dam, which, with its large water supply, could change the delicate geological balance of a large region."
Some seismologists warn that China may have entered a period of more frequent seismic activity, citing the magnitude-8 earthquake centred in Sichuan in May 2008, which killed nearly 88,000 people, and a 7.1-magnitude quake two weeks ago centred in Yushu prefecture, Qinghai, which killed more than 2,220. In a paper written last year, Professor Wang Zhengzhang of Tibet University's Tibet Agricultural and Animal Husbandry College wrote that the curtain for a massive build-up of hydroelectric stations in Tibet had risen, and the peak in construction projects would appear in about 2020, if not sooner. But the existing quake-resistant design might not withstand mega-earthquakes of the type that shatter the area frequently, he wrote. Builders of dams in Tibet must implement the world's toughest standards, and that could be both technologically and economically challenging. Even if the dams did withstand the quakes, other geological disasters, such as landslides, could wipe a multibillion-yuan project off the map overnight, Wang said. When a quake lake on the river collapsed in 2000, it released over 120,000 cubic metres of water per second, destroying roads, bridges, villages and towns. And the five hydroelectric dams in the Jiacha Canyon are only part of a more extensive plan. The central government intends to build many more dams across the Yarlung Zangbo River. The largest of them will be in the Yarlung Zangbo Canyon, one of the longest and deepest canyons in the world, and will have a capacity of more than 40,000 megawatts - more than twice the maximum capacity of the Three Gorges Dam.
Professor Xu Damao, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, ranked big earthquakes as the top challenge to the Yarlung Zangbo Canyon project in a paper he wrote in 2007. To minimise the risk, he proposed digging an enormous 39-kilometre-long channel to divert water and reduce the pressure on the dam - which he said would cost more than 6 billion yuan (HK$6.83 billion) and no doubt test engineering technology to the limit.
Veterans of the region also expect native Tibetans to oppose the hydroelectric projects. Flat and fertile Shannan district lies to the west of the Jiacha Canyon. It is the wealthiest region in Tibet and the place where Tibetan culture originated, according to Yang. Construction of a large dam in the canyon would force some native Tibetan communities to move from the land where they have lived for centuries. "The Yarlung Zangbo River is an important river in Tibetan culture. Building dams across it may cause ethnic conflicts. In these sensitive times, a spark could lead to a fire," Yang said. Yan Zhiyong, the general manager of the China Hydropower Engineering Consultancy, also cautioned that ethnic Tibetans could be an issue. He told the China Energy News: "Hydroelectric construction must live harmoniously with the local society." But ethnic Tibetan Professor Tanzen Lhundup, the deputy director of the Institute of Sociology and Economics at the Chinese Centre for Tibetan Studies, said conflict was unlikely, because the traditional thinking of residents would give way to a greater desire for economic development.
The shortage of electricity was the biggest obstacle to development in Tibet today, he said. Even the residents of Lhasa endure electricity rationing almost every year. The situation is worse in more remote areas. "Just like any other people on this planet, Tibetans want to have televisions, washing machines and microwave ovens," Tanzen Lhundup said. As for forced migration, he said he had visited the canyon several times and found few people living there. "Even if a small number of people have to migrate, they will receive a respectable amount of compensation," Tanzen Lhundup said. "That's because - unlike the resettlement for the Three Gorges Dam, which involved millions of people - the Jiacha project will affect only a few thousand, if not hundred, residents." He said: "Tibet will be more habitable with carefully planned and built hydropower plants.". ^ top ^
Top Tibetan writer held over book on riots (SCMP)
A Tibetan writer was taken away by police after publishing a book critical of Beijing's handling of the anti-government riots in Tibet in 2008 and more recently criticising quake relief efforts in Qinghai, friends of his family say. Tagyal, who writes under the name Zhogs Dung, was taken away by police who showed up at the Qinghai Nationalities Publishing House in Qinghai's provincial capital, Xining, where he worked, on Friday, a blog post written by a friend said. Police searched his home and library, confiscating his computers. Afterwards, they showed his arrest warrant to his wife and asked her to bring bedding for him. When his two daughters went to the police station they were not allowed to meet him, the posting said.
The central government has not explained the reasons for Tagyal's detention. The 45-year old writer is considered a leading Tibetan intellectual and thinker. In the past, he has written books largely in line with Beijing's views on modernisation, religion and culture in Tibet. He was among eight authors and intellectuals who signed a letter on April 17 that expressed sorrow for victims of the killer quake that struck Qinghai's Yushu prefecture on April 14 and urged people to be wary of government relief efforts.
His friend Tserang Woeser, a Beijing-based Tibetan activist and blogger, said, however, she believed Tagyal's arrest was more likely to do with a book he wrote in Tibetan and published on his own in January, which was critical of Beijing's handling of anti-government riots in Tibet in 2008. "The book has been very popular [among Tibetans] and influential as it examines the rioting in 2008. He accused the government of repressive policies after the rioting," Tserang Woeser said. The book was only available at a bookshop run by Tagyal's wife, Lhatso, in Xining. Lhatso said they had sold "hundreds of copies" but the rest were confiscated by the authorities on April 12. Lhatso said yesterday she had not been allowed to visit her husband since he was taken away on Friday.
The open letter signed by Tagyal and others urged people to help victims by offering food, clothes and medicine but warned them not to donate funds to relief organisations, warning of possible corruption. "Better to send [money] to the disaster zone with people you trust, because nobody can say there is no corruption," the letter said. It was posted on several websites, including the overseas site Boxun.com, which is critical of Beijing. "Just as the news from the mouthpiece for the [Communist] Party organisations cannot be believed, we dare not believe in the party organisation, which issued the order stopping people from going to the disaster zone for political reasons," it said.
Professor Robbie Barnett, a director of the modern Tibetan studies programme at Columbia University in New York, agreed that the book Tagyal wrote could be a reason for the authorities to target him. Tagyal was seen by fellow Tibetans as an "official intellectual" who took the Communist Party's view, for which he was widely criticised. But in the book titled Distinguishing Sky from Earth, he said that the March 2008 riots were a turning point for Tibetans and their national spirit. He advocated "non-violent resistance" to obtain greater rights for Tibetans. He seemed to sense he was crossing a dangerous line, saying that he expected to be arrested for his views. "Here was someone who had supported the government. Now he himself is being detained by the state. This will be understood as China losing even those it could have allied with," Barnett said. ^ top ^
Zhang Chunxian becomes Party chief of Xinjiang (Global Times)
Zhang Chunxian has been appointed as the Party chief of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, according to the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Saturday. Former secretary of the CPC Xinjiang regional committee Wang Lequan has been appointed as deputy secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the CPC Central Committee. Before the appointment, Zhang served as the secretary of the CPC Hunan provincial committee starting from December 2005. […] Zhang has served in the then Ministry of Machinery, the Ministry of Supervision and the China National Packaging and Food Machinery Corporation, as well as assistant governor of southwest China's Yunnan Province. Zhang served as the transport minister from 2002 to 2005 before he was transferred to Hunan Province. Zhang's appointment was announced just one day after the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau held a meeting to discuss plans to boost economic development and maintain long-term social stability in Xinjiang. The meeting, presided over by President Hu Jintao, stressed that economic and social development in Xinjiang be pushed forward in a sound and speedy manner, placing priority on guaranteeing and improving people's livelihoods so all ethnic groups in the region can live a more prosperous and happier life. ^ top ^
China unveils regulations to boost foreign investment in central regions (Global Times)
Chinese Ministry of Commerce released regulations concerning foreign investment in China's central region Thursday. The region - which includes the provinces of Shanxi, Anhui, Jiangxi, Henan, Hubei and Hunan - should attract high-end green industry with policy incentives and guidance, the regulations say. It should give priority to manufacturing while eyeing investment in other sectors like agriculture, sophisticated processing industries, trade, finance, education, culture, tourism and leasing. The region should nurture business-friendly policies and slash transaction costs to attract businesses considering moving inland from the coastal regions. The rules call for rectifying any practices that disrupt business operation, including authorities' arbitrary law enforcement. The rules also urged a market-oriented administration system consistent with international rules. The ministry also pledged to establish state-level industrial transfer demonstration zones and to improve provincial industrial parks. The ministry also plans to offer discounted loans for infrastructure construction. Ma Yu, head of the foreign investment research department at the ministry's research academy, said the regulations will accelerate the development of central China. ^ top ^
Tightening measures on property market not to slow economic growth: experts (Global Times)
The recent government measures to cool down the overheated property market would not hurt economic growth or lead to a big rise in bad loans of lenders. Li Daokui, a member of the monetary policy committee with the People's Bank of China, the central bank, said in a report carried on Wednesday's China Daily that the tightening measures would in no way dampen real estate investment, a key component of China's economic growth. "The current wave of the tightening measures are aimed to cool soaring property prices, rather than curb realty investment," said Professor Li, also chief of the Center for China in the World Economy at the School of Economics and Management of Tsinghua University. The booming property sector is largely "a free rider" in the current round of stimulus-driven economic growth, said Li, who believed the government would increase land and housing supply in the lower-end segment this year, thus fueling property investment. Policymakers would need some time to know the market's response to the measures and their real impact on the overall economy, the newspaper quoted Zhang Xiaojing, a senior economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, as saying.
The two experts also said the risk of bad loans increasing for lenders as a result of the measures was limited. The central government introduced a series of policies to rein in the bloated property market, including tighter mortgage standards for second-home buyers and a ban on loans for third-home buyers after real estate prices in 70 major cities went up by a record 11.7 percent in March. ^ top ^
Lift in World Bank vote a symbolic fillip (SCMP)
China's elevated voting share in the World Bank is recognition of Beijing's growing economic clout but insufficient to help it win in the current trade and exchange rate disputes, economists said. The World Bank on Sunday lifted China's voting power from 2.78 per cent to 4.42 per cent, surpassing Germany, France, Britain and other Western powers and only behind the US and Japan in the 186-member organisation. The voting power of the US remains at 15.85 per cent, which means the world's biggest economy effectively has a veto. Bank members also decided to raise the institution's capital by US$3.5 billion, the first increase in more than two decades to make up for the lending during the financial crisis.
"China's share has increased because of its growth in the world economy," World Bank president Robert Zoellick told a news conference at the end of weekend meetings of the bank and the International Monetary Fund. Finance Minister Xie Xuren welcomed the shift, saying the change "represents an important step towards equitable voting power between developing and developed members". China is the world's third largest economy, with gross domestic product of 33.5 trillion yuan (US$4.9 trillion) in 2009. For years it had been pursuing a bigger say in international economic affairs.
It was a "remarkable increase" in the voting share, but the big gap with the US would mean no substantial change of China's role in issues, including world financial system reform, efforts to address trade imbalance and the yuan exchange rate dispute, said Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. Discord between the US and China has been escalating in the past few years partly because the US has been running a trade deficit with China. The US is seeking a revaluation of the yuan, while China is likely to allow only a symbolic rise in the currency for now. Beijing is also pursuing a bigger role for the yuan in the world financial system by promoting the use of the currency in trade settlements. "Yuan internationalisation is just at an initial stage and the pace is slower than expected. Even with the bigger voting power within the World Bank, China will be unable to challenge the role of the US dollar in the world trade and financial system for a long time," said Zhou Dunren, an economist with Fudan University in Shanghai.
Zoellick said the voting power shift was designed to give emerging economies greater influence in the global development institution, as the world is "moving toward a new, fast evolving multipolar economy". The agreement increases the voting shares of some emerging and developing countries by 3.13 per cent to a total of 47 per cent. Eswar Prasad, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution, said this modest shift was primarily symbolic. ^ top ^
and South Korea
DPRK urges quick elimination of armistice agreement (Global Times)
The Armistice Agreement is the "largest relic of the Cold War" on the Korean peninsula and should be eliminated as soon as possible, Rondong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), said in an article published Wednesday. According to the Rondong Sinmun, the agreement, signed in July 1953, exists only in name, not in reality, and has become the root of the war. Hostile relations between the DPRK and the United States won't end until the Armistice Agreement is replaced by a "Peace Agreement," and then war will be prevented and peace guaranteed, the article said. It also said the Peace Agreement would "fundamentally" change the situation on the peninsula and the relations between the DPRK and the U.S. The article called on the U.S. to fulfill its duty in eliminating the "relic of the Cold War." The DPRK in January proposed discussing the reaching of a peace treaty with the relevant state parties in the frame of the six-party talks to replace the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War. ^ top ^
With Koreas on the brink, calm heads are vital (SCMP)
North Korea has, at the best of times, to be treated with kid gloves. The unpredictability of its leadership, bristling armoury, war-ready military and secrecy make for a volatile mix. With its hand increasingly being seen in an explosion that sank a South Korean navy vessel last month, killing 46 sailors, pressure is mounting on the South's president, Lee Myung-bak, for a resolute response. He is being cautious, and rightly so: circumstances have to be handled with extreme care.
There is as yet no certainty of North Korea's guilt. It has denied involvement and investigators have found no evidence. But examination of the wreckage of the 1,250-tonne Cheonan indicates the blast was external, pointing to a torpedo or floating mine as the most likely cause. On Sunday Defence Minister Kim Tae-young stepped where no other South Korean official has so far dared. As his nation started five days of mourning he said there was a high possibility that a torpedo was to blame. Anger is rising in South Korea. Tens of thousands of people have visited a memorial honouring the dead, who have been posthumously awarded medals usually reserved for those killed in combat. The media is awash with speculation and calls for retaliation. There's a real danger of the situation spinning out of control.
The Cheonan was on a routine patrol on March 26 when it was split in half in an area where the rival Koreas have had three naval skirmishes since 1999. In the last, five months ago, a soldier from the North was killed and three others wounded. Given the North's history of provocation and attack, assuming a missile had been fired to avenge the loss would not be far-fetched. But for South Korea or its allies to make this leap without conclusive proof could have disastrous consequences. […] It [North Korea] continues testing its missiles, which can easily reach all parts of the South. A misplaced accusation could easily lead to a new Korean war, ending the truce that has held - albeit flimsily at times - for the past 57 years. How Lee should respond is a difficult matter. He can't remain silent or evasive much longer given the domestic pressure. Even if there is proof of the North's involvement, he and his main foreign ally, the US, have to remain cool-headed. Military force is not an option; both sides and their alliances are militarily evenly balanced.
Fortunately, China and the US have already been in contact with one another. Neither, surely, has an appetite to be dragged into a conflict that they would be obliged to join should it break out. The North's unpredictability means that even calling for tougher UN sanctions or curtailment or an end to South Korean aid and business partnerships could have dire consequences. Behind-the-scenes intervention by Beijing and Washington is crucial to calming what could quickly turn into a crisis for Koreans and the region. A delicate situation has arisen. If North Korea is found to have attacked the ship, it has to be punished; no nation can wantonly kill foreign citizens, no matter what the circumstances. But Lee has no good options. Whichever he chooses has to be picked with great forethought and enacted and managed just as sensitively ^ top ^
Kim may visit China this week: Japanese press (Global Times)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is rumored to be planning a trip to China by week's end, but diplomatic sources in Beijing say the visit is unlikely, various Japanese media reported. The Kyodo news agency said Friday that the North Korean and Chinese governments are in the "final stages" of adjusting the schedule for Kim's two-day visit to China. Earlier this month, Sankei Shimbun and other media reported that Kim was scheduled to visit China in mid-April, but the newspaper later reported that the trip was canceled. Tokyo Shimbun also reported Friday that Kim may visit China this coming Friday. It said that a delegation from the North Korean Workers' Party arrived Thursday in Beijing and was welcomed by officials of the Chinese Communist Party. According to the Tokyo Shimbun, eight officials, including Kim Song-nam, a senior official in the international affairs division of the North's Workers' Party, arrived in Beijing.
Kyodo even said Kim was expected to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. "Abbas plans to hold talks with Kim in China when Abbas visits the country Friday and Saturday of next week," Kyodo quoted sources as saying Friday. South Korea's MBC television noted Monday that, starting from Friday, staff from Japan's Fuji TV, Yomiuri Shimbun and other news organizations began traveling to Dandong to report on the possibility of Kim's visit to China. But South Korean diplomatic sources say the visit is unlikely. A South Korean source said, "The tension between the two Koreas has escalated, and China cannot afford to pay attention to the Korean matter, as it is preoccupied with the aftermath of the Qinghai earthquake and the opening of the Shanghai Expo. Kim's visit to Beijing is not impossible, but the possibility is low."
When asked about whether the North's leader would attend the opening ceremony of the Shanghai Expo, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Thursday that "some state leaders will attend the opening ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo; we are actively arranging it. When the arrangement is determined, we will release information." Furthermore, Wang Min, secretary of the Liaoning provincial Party committee, who would likely be a crucial greeter if Kim is coming, is currently leading an investment delegation on a tour to Japan and South Korea. ^ top ^
Torpedo attack likely sank Cheonon: Seoul (Global Times)
A team of military and civilian investigators said Sunday that a torpedo attack was among the most likely causes behind the sinking of a South Korean warship last month, the Yonhap News Agency reported. "A bubble jet caused by a heavy torpedo (attack) is thought to be one of the most likely things to be blamed, but various other possibilities are also under review," South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said Sunday. Yoon Duk-yong, co-chairman of the joint investigation team, said that the sinking of the Cheonan naval patrol ship last month was most probably caused by a non-contact explosion under the warship, judging from initial inspections of its wreckage, in a news conference at the defense ministry.
"The joint investigation team will try to come up with the final result as soon as possible after completing a closer investigation and computer simulation analysis," Yoon added, without specifying what type of explosive had been detonated. His remarks push forward suspicions of the alleged involvement of North Korea, likely in a torpedo or mine attack, although North Korea has rejected the allegations, according to Yonhap.
South Korea's president on Friday gave the clearest signal yet that Seoul had no plan to launch a revenge attack, calming investors worried that armed conflict would damage the South's rapidly recovering economy, which varies from his earlier statement Wednesday, when he vowed to take a "resolute" response to the disaster. "The change of (Seoul's) position toward the disaster may be attributed to officials having not reached a conclusion regarding the matter," Shi Yuanhua, director of the Center for South Korean Studies of Fudan University, told the Global Times. "Considering the allied relationship between Seoul and Washington, if North Korea conducts a military attack against the South, the US would also get involved." North Korea on Saturday warned that it would use "all means, including the nuclear deterrent" if it was invaded by the US and South Korea. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton then responded that she hoped there would be "no miscalculation" that could spark resumed fighting between the Koreas. "The US expects Pyongyang to return to the Six-Party Talks. The speculation against Pyongyang over the Cheonan disaster are also attributable to media exaggeration to some extent," Shi added. ^ top ^
Mongolia, China to boost economic ties (Montsame)
Mongolia's President Tsakhia Elbegdorj arrived in Beijing to pay a state visit to China on April 28 at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao.
On the first day of his visit, Mr Elbegdorj met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to exchange views on bilateral relations and cooperation. Premier Wen Jiabao proposed greater economic and trade cooperation with neighboring Mongolia. "We should sign important economic and trade agreements to lay a solid legal basis for bilateral cooperation," Wen said. He also suggested the two nations cooperate on major industrial projects.
The Premier expressed a hope China and Mongolia will boost business exchanges to enhance bilateral economic cooperation. China and Mongolia last year celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. Hailing the bilateral relationship which has become more mature and closer, Wen said China and Mongolia share important common interests like the safeguarding of northeast Asia's stability and coping with the international financial crisis. China will work with Mongolia to increase high-level exchanges and deepen mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation to advance bilateral ties.
Echoing Wen, Elbegdorj spoke highly of the bilateral relationship. Applauding China's support for Mongolia's social and economic progress, the President said Mongolia valued its ties with China and firmly adheres to the one-China policy. Mongolia welcomes China taking part in its economic construction and hopes the two nations expand cooperation in transportation, mineral- and animal-products processing, and disaster prevention, Elbegdorj said.
Elbegdorj said his country will work with China to promote peace and stability in northeast Asia. The Mongolian President extended his sympathies to the Chinese people in the quake-hit Yushu area. Earlier Wednesday, Elbegdorj expressed his hope for closer economic and trade ties with China while attending the China-Mongolia Business Forum. China has been Mongolia's largest trade partner for 11 years, Elbegdorj noted.
Elbegdorj is on a six-day state visit to China, his first visit to China since he took office in May 2009. Besides Beijing, Elbegdorj will also visit Shanghai and attend the opening ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo on April 30. ^ top ^
Salaries and pensions to be raised by 30 percent from October (News.mn)
Salaries and pensions will rise by 30 percent from October 1. The tripartite negotiations between the Confederation of Mongolian Labor Unions, the Ministry for Social Welfare and Labor, and the Union of Employers decided on this after four prolonged sessions of talks as well as demands to go on strike.
Minister T.Gandi, Labor Union leader S.Ganbaatar, and the President of the Employers' Union said they reached an agreement after considering the amount of money to be distributed from the Human Development Fund and the possible risks of price rise and inflation. A working group was established by the three sides to work on an indexed rise of salaries and pensions, and to organize a Labor Assembly in September. ^ top ^
Mongolia Stops New Mineral Licenses for Indefinite Period (UB Post)
Mongolia has stopped issuance of new mining and exploration licenses for indefinite period as the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj directed mineral affairs authorities last week.
At a meeting with government officials and parliament members, President Ts.Elbegdorj, as Head of National Security Council, put an end to “disordered” giving of mineral licenses until its environment is legally framed. Effective from April 20, it stopped issuance of new mining and exploration licenses as well as returning of revoked licenses, and trading and transaction of licenses between both local and foreign parties. ^ top ^
Switzerland supports Mongolia to abolish capital punishment (Montsame)
President Tsakhia Elbegdorj received Monday Ambassador of Switzerland to Mongolia Mr Blaise Godet. At the beginning of the meeting, Mr Elbegdorj expressed the thanks to the Ambassador that Switzerland has steadily supported democracy and reform process developed in Mongolia over 20 years ago and has rendered constant assistance to the country in solving socio-economic pressing issues through the line of bilateral cooperation and international organizations.
"Mongolia is actively collaborating with Switzerland and is interested in continuing to receive aid and assistance from the Swiss Cooperation Agency" the President said. He underlined that he wants to create an actual economic interest of Switzerland in Mongolia and boosting bilateral cooperation in the field of increasing trade and investment. The President expressed his gratitude for delivering a relief aid of 500,000 Swiss Franc to Mongolia for herders suffered from this year's harsh winter.
The Ambassador said that Switzerland appreciates Mongolian President's initiative on moratorium on the execution of capital punishment. "Switzerland will decisively support Mongolia to abolish death penalty" he noted. ^ top ^
Trade unions demand wage and pensions increase (Mongol Messenger)
On April 21, the Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions (CMTU) organized a demonstration on Sukhbaatar Square to demand the salary of state workers by two-fold. Members of Trade Unions in 13 sectors, including education, culture, science, health, railway participated in the demonstration.
CMTU announced that a massive strike would be organized if government does not fulfill CMTU's demand to raise wages of all workers by not less than 60 percent in 2010 and not less than 50 percent in 2011, increase retirement pension by not less than 50 percent in 2010 and not less than 50 percent in 2011 as well as to increase minimum wage level by not less than 80 percent starting on May 1, 2010. ^ top ^
Protesters reach agreement with MPs' group, call off hunger strike (News.mn)
The hunger strike by some protesters was called off on Thursday, April 22 after a series of talks between leaders of the movement and an MPs' group set up by Parliament to settle the issue. The protest is being led by the Civil Movement Demanding Fulfillment of Pre-Election Promises, the Independence Alliance, My Mongolian Land Movement, the National Soyombo Movement, the Reform Movement, and the National Khas Movement. The parties signed a memorandum incorporating the terms of agreement reached at the talks.
The hunger strike was to put pressure on Parliament to hold a referendum to ascertain people's opinion on the protesters' demands. One of their leaders, D.Battsogt, said their talks with the group led by MP U.Enkhtuvshin had led to agreement on the following.
Restoration of the child allowance.
The promise to pay every citizen MNT 1.5 million will be kept.
Repealing seven amendments to the State Constitution approved when the MPRP was in power in 2000.
Amending the Mineral Law to make it comply with the Constitution and the Concession law.
Holding a meeting urgently on the Oyutolgoi investment agreement to bring it in line with the 40th and 57th protocols of Parliament.
The working group on the July 1 incidents must report openly to the people. Parliament must order the State General Prosecutor to reveal how exactly the five people were killed.
The sides will jointly monitor the implementation of the agreement.
There will be no hunger strikes, sit-ins or any other form of public protest until the terms of the agreement are fulfilled.
The people will be told of the agreement and its progress through Mongolian National Public Broadcaster.
Battsogt said the civil movements will be free to resume the protest if the agreement was not implemented. He said they would also be watching how the election promise of a threefold rise in salaries and pensions is treated. Asked how much money the civil movements had spent on the protest, General Coordinator of the Independence Alliance, L.Tsog, said he could not name the exact figure. “There was a donation box in Sukhbaatar Square and we used the money people put in it,” he said.
Although the trilateral talks of Government, Employers and Trade Unions already started, and the issue of raising pensions and salaries are being discussed, Trade Unions do not agree with government proposal to raise salaries by 10-20 percent. ^ top ^
Embassy of Switzerland
|The Press review is a random selection
of political and social related news gathered from various media
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the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss
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the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion
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