Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  7-11.6.2010, No. 323  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

Tehran's nuclear chief in broadside at Beijing (SCMP)
Iran's delicate relationship with China appeared to be unravelling yesterday, with Tehran's atomic chief launching a blistering attack on Beijing for supporting new UN sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme. "China is gradually losing its respectable position in the Islamic world, and by the time it wakes up, it will be too late," Dr Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's nuclear programme, told the ISNA news agency. "There was a time when China branded the US as a paper tiger. I wonder what we can call China for agreeing to this resolution." The cracking of the Beijing-Tehran relationship comes at an embarrassing moment - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Shanghai yesterday, hours after China backed the new sanctions, measures that Ahmadinejad likened to "a used hanky which should be thrown in the dustbin". […] Western powers had warned that China's refusal to back sanctions risked denting its international reputation at a time when it is seeking a global leadership role. […] "China highly values relations with Iran and feels they are conducive to regional peace, stability and development," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing. Qin said the goal of the new resolution, the fourth round of UN punitive measures targeting Tehran, was aimed at bringing Iran back to the negotiating table, not shutting the door to dialogue. […] Salehi also accused Beijing of "double standards" over its position towards communist ally North Korea, which has abandoned the Non-Proliferation Treaty while Iran remains an adherent. […] China depends on oil- and gas-rich Iran for 11 per cent of its energy needs, according to Iranian figures. Chinese firms are involved in at least two major oilfield developments in Iran, contracts worth US$3.76 billion. ^ top ^

US forces' chief takes gloves off in China row (SCMP)
[…] In a speech to the Asia Society in Washington on Wednesday, Admiral Mike Mullen said he was dismayed by China's "tepid" response to a US-backed international investigation that found evidence North Korea had destroyed a South Korea warship with a torpedo. The comments drew a swift reaction from Beijing, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang insisting China was attempting to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. "All that we have done is based on this position," Qin said yesterday, "so we hope all parties can understand that and cooperate with China to properly deal with this issue." Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military expert, said he did not believe North Korea had the capability to sink the ship and that it was wrong for Mullen to press Beijing to rein in Pyongyang. Ni said it was "stupid" to blame anyone before a separate investigation led by Russia was completed next month. China has expressed condolences and concern over the deaths of 46 South Korea sailors in the sinking of the corvette Cheonan but has stopped short of condemning its fraternal ally and neighbour, despite mounting international pressure. South Korea has formally demanded action by the UN Security Council but it is not yet known if China will exercise its veto. Mullen said he was genuinely concerned by China's "heavy investments" in improved air and sea capabilities as part of its ongoing military build-up, as well as by the current freeze in military ties between China and the US. […] "A gap as wide as what seems to be forming between China's stated intent and its military programmes leaves me more than curious about the end result. Indeed, I have moved from being curious to being genuinely concerned." […] One Chinese military strategist suggested Gates was treating China as an enemy when Beijing was treating the US as a "friend and partner". In comments that surprised many of the regional military and government officials at the conference, Major General Zhu Chenghu went on to suggest the US was being hypocritical in its criticism of North Korea given its measured response after Israel's deadly commando raid on a flotilla of ships taking aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. […] Analysts say the repeated verbal volleys suggest a breakthrough that would get the military relationship back on track is still some way off. The Korean dispute appears to have highlighted deeper divisions[…] At the same time, it wants an improved military relationship as China expands its reach. Officials such as Gates insist that it is vital to reduce potential misunderstandings and boost regional security. US military officials want to create "rules of the road" like those in the cold war to prevent the risks of accidents and miscalculations at sea as the two sides come into closer contact. ^ top ^

Google asks US, EU to turn up heat on China (SCMP)
Google's top lawyer says the world's leading search engine is asking the US and European governments to press China to lift internet censorship, describing it as an unfair barrier to free trade. David Drummond said on Wednesday that Western states should defend free trade in information with the same kind of rules they use to complain about China's below-cost sale of products. He said government talks are "the only way... that this tide of censorship or this rising censorship is going to be arrested". The company sparred with Chinese leaders this year when it stopped self-censoring its search results in line with Chinese rules, after it said Chinese hackers had tried to plunder its software coding and hijack the e-mail accounts of human rights activists. […] "Censorship, in addition to being a human rights problem, is a trade barrier," he said. "If you look at what China does - the censorship, of course, is for political purposes, but it is also used as a way of keeping multinational companies disadvantaged in the market. "It should be obvious that the internet sector is very important to the West, and so we should be working on seeing that that kind of trade is protected." Drummond would not comment on whether he believed the United States could take a case under World Trade Organisation rules against China, which can ultimately allow the US to seek trading rights in compensation for any proven harm to its companies. Instead, he said new trade rules may be needed to cover the internet. […] He said he had found some support in discussions with the US, French and German governments, and with the EU executive, for pressing Google's case and Chinese restrictions on the internet in bilateral and multilateral talks.[…]. ^ top ^

UN slaps nuclear sanctions on Iran (SCMP)
[…] The vote in the 15-member council was 12 in favour of the US-drafted resolution, with Lebanon abstaining, and Brazil and Turkey voting against. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to suspend nuclear negotiations in response to what US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said were "the most significant sanctions that Iran has ever faced". […] Shortly after the vote, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna, said: "Nothing will change. The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue uranium enrichment activities." The resolution, co-sponsored by Britain and France with the backing of Russia and China, expands an arms embargo and bans Iran from such sensitive activities as uranium mining. "China calls on all members of the international community to implement the resolution comprehensively and in good faith," ambassador Li Baodong said. It was "imperative to return to the track of dialogue and negotiations" and the point of the new sanctions was "to bring Iran back to the negotiating table", he said. The sanctions authorise states to conduct high-sea inspections of vessels believed to be ferrying banned items for Iran and adds 40 entities to a UN blacklist. The vote had been delayed for more than an hour after Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon awaited instructions from their governments. The countries finally decided to attend the meeting but insisted on speaking before the vote to register their opposition. The UN Security Council resolution was approved despite the sustained efforts of Brazil and Turkey to head off the measures and promote a nuclear fuel swap deal they reached with Tehran last month. The West cold-shouldered that proposal, saying it did not allay fears that Tehran is using its contested nuclear drive as a cover to produce nuclear weapons. Iran insists its programme is for civilian purposes only. […] Ahmadinejad has angrily warned that talks on his country's nuclear programme would be terminated if the sanctions were passed. […] Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, also stressed that Washington remained "committed to the dual-track approach" of pressure through sanctions and talks. ^ top ^

Global finance and Korean tensions on summit agenda (SCMP)
The leaders of China and Russia will discuss global financial markets and tensions on the Korean Peninsula during the annual summit of a regional security grouping today, a Kremlin source said. But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, hit with new UN sanctions targeting Tehran's nuclear programme, is unlikely to attend the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) meeting. The six-nation SCO, led by China and Russia, will meet in the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent, a day after the United Nations Security Council approved fresh sanctions against a defiant Iran. The regional security bloc, which also includes four ex-Soviet Central Asian states, will discuss the fight against terrorism and extremism as well as drug trafficking from Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been invited. […] Iran has observer status in the SCO and a Chinese official had said Ahmadinejad might attend. But Iran's ambassador to Tajikistan, where Ahmadinejad was attending a water conference, said yesterday that the president would not participate. […] Russia and China, veto-wielding UN Security Council members, voted in favour of the sanctions but helped water them down. […] The absence of the Iranian leader will allow the SCO's members - China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - to focus on regional security issues. "The SCO has plenty of its own problems to be dealing with: extremism, separatism, the threat of militancy and drug trafficking from Afghanistan," said Kazakh political analyst Dosym Satpayev. The political situation in Kyrgyzstan, where the president was overthrown in April, will be discussed, the Kremlin press service said in a statement. Interim foreign minister Ruslan Kazakbayev will represent Kyrgyzstan at the meeting. […] Hu will also meet Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana tomorrow and is likely to seek co-operation in combating "East Turkestan" separatism, Chinese assistant foreign minister Cheng Guoping said. Kazakhstan borders Xinjiang. […] China blames separatists for unrest in the region, including riots last July that grew out of protests over the killing of Uygur migrant workers in southern China. […]. ^ top ^

China calls on CICA members to boost coordination in security, economy (Global Times)
[…] Speaking here as a special representative of President Hu Jintao at a summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA), Dai said peace and development increasingly had been the theme of the world in the 18 years since CICA's creation. "The world we are living in today is a world of growing diversity, pluralism and multi-polarity. It shall not tolerate any form of hegemony or any single set of values and beliefs. Gone are the days when one, two, or several countries decide the world affairs," Dai said. Dai called on CICA members to make the best of multilateral cooperation mechanisms to boost interaction and mutual trust in the region, safeguard security and seek development. […] Dai called on CICA members to coordinate their efforts to fight terrorism, secessionism, extremism, drug trafficking and cross-border organized crime. He also proposed CICA countries seek common development and prosperity by strengthening macroeconomic policy coordination, gradually advancing regional cooperation and free trade arrangements, and constantly expanding cooperation in trade, science and technology, investment, energy, resources, transportation and telecommunications. Dai said CICA states should work together for a harmonious Asia by embracing one another with openness and friendliness. China would never seek hegemony in Asia or the world, even after it is developed, and would work with other countries in Asia to advance regional cooperation, security and prosperity, he said. CICA was established in 1993 as a forum for dialogue and consultations and promotion of confidence building measures among its members on security and development. It now has 20 member countries from East Asia, Central Asia, South East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East. ^ top ^

Novartis lawsuit ends abruptly (Global Times)
[…] Li Lili, a Hepatitis B sufferer from East China's Anhui Province, died at the age of 19 in December 2008, 11 months after taking telbivudine tablets, a Hepatitis B drug produced by Novartis, the Guangdong-based Time Weekly newspaper reported last month. […] Li was found dead as a result of multiple organ failure stemming from syndromes due to rhabdomyolysis, or the traumatic compression of muscles, an adverse effect that was not listed in the drug's description until January 4, 2009, almost a week after Li's death, Time Weekly reported. […] Li's family believes that Novartis failed to list possible adverse reactions in the telbivudine specifications, so the family filed a lawsuit against the well-known healthcare products company with the Changping People's Court in Beijing earlier this year.

"Li's death has no direct relationship with our medicine; it was directly caused by doctors' irrational use of the drug," Song Xinrong, senior communications manager of Novartis, told the Global Times Monday. […] In an a interview with the 21st Century Business Herald Newspaper last month, Cheng said the Center for Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) Monitoring in Zhejiang Province had already reported two deaths after taking the Hepatitis B drug to the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) in 2008. Though denying that the drug's adverse reactions lead to Li's death, the company conceded that it received the first case report of rhabdomyolysis caused by the drug's adverse reaction in October 2008. The company applied to update its specification after that and got approval from the SFDA on Janaury 4, 2009, 20 days before the US FDA approval. Song said Novartis had settled the dispute with Li's family, without giving further details. […]. ^ top ^

US-China ties in troubled waters (SCMP)
[…] While Chinese and US officials sharpened divisions during open exchanges, behind the scenes, Southeast Asian nations discreetly raised alarms about a fresh push from Beijing to scupper a regional approach to finding solutions. US Secretary of Defence Dr Robert Gates gave the strongest outline yet of Washington's worries, describing it as a "growing concern". While he stayed out of the sovereignty dispute, he said "we oppose the use of force and actions that hinder freedom of navigation", adding that stability and "free and unhindered economic development" must be maintained. […] The sea's Spratly Islands are claimed in whole by China and Vietnam and in part by the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. While holding oil and gas potential, its greatest value is probably strategic, with the Spratlys straddling the sea-lanes that carry the bulk of China's, Japan's and South Korea's oil. The South China Sea is also home to China's expanding submarine fleet, with a base at Sanya, Hainan, closer to deep water than any other point on the mainland and a vital access point to the Pacific and Indian oceans. China last year formalised its long-standing historic claims to the area, insisting much of sea is part of its exclusive economic zone. […] US naval officials confirm that US patrols in the area are increasing, despite China's warnings that it cannot accept surveillance activity - something the US and other countries insist is the kind of routine military activity allowed in international waters. General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the PLA General Staff, made clear at the weekend that surveillance by US ships and planes would not be accepted. He listed it as a condition for resuming normal military ties, along with an end of arms sales to Taiwan. […] Chinese officials have also warned US officials in recent months that the South China Sea was a "core interest" of China, putting it alongside Taiwan and Tibet in importance. Southeast Asia is also feeling the heat. Beijing is telling its neighbours that it will not tolerate any attempts to raise the issue at meetings with the Association of South East Asian Nations. It prefers to deal with claimant countries individually - a move that apparently puts China in the strongest position. […] Hanoi is still pushing for the issue to be raised at an inaugural formal meeting of Asean defence ministers with their regional peers later this year. Vietnamese Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh told the Singapore meeting that it would continue pushing for a regional solution. […]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Frustrated petitioner stabs official to death and then takes poison (SCMP)
A disgruntled Heilongjiang petitioner, whose grievances were apparently ignored by the authorities, stabbed a local official to death before killing himself, state media reported. Petitioner Yu Guishuang walked into a petitions office in Yichun's Dailing district early on Tuesday to beg for clothes, Xinhua reported. Official Wei Guangchun took him into his office. Shortly afterwards, Yu was seen running out of the office with a knife, and an injured Wei tried to run after him. Wei coughed up blood and fell to the ground. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Police went to arrest Yu but found he had already taken poison. He, too, was pronounced dead at a hospital. Yu had petitioned for compensation after his wife was injected with substandard vaccine in 2000 and, according to Radio Free Asia, died. He filed complaints with district and higher courts and travelled to Beijing five times to lobby for his case, but it was rejected by the authorities because of lack of evidence, Xinhua cited the local government as saying. […] According to Radio Free Asia, after his petition attempts failed, Yu was given 18 months "re-education through labour" in 2007. Last year he was sent to a nursing home even though he was only in his 50s. Nursing home staff described him as a mild-mannered and humble person who simply became frustrated because his grievances were ignored, the report said. There have been many reports of violent attacks against government officials on the mainland in the past few weeks. […]. ^ top ^

Honda hit by strike at third factory (SCMP)
[…] Staff at Honda Lock (Guangdong) in Xiaolan, Zhongshan, downed tools shortly after 8am. The factory, which employs about 1,500 people, supplies key sets, door locks and other parts. Some workers said the strike was sparked by an incident on Tuesday in which employees planning industrial action were taken to a security guard's office and beaten up. They said some workers had been prevented from leaving the plant and police were blocking the road leading to it. Journalists trying to report on the strike were taken away by police, and internet posts describing it were immediately deleted. Local government officials were mediating talks between the workers and their employer. The first industrial action to hit Honda's operations ended on Friday when workers at Honda Autoparts Manufacturing in Foshan. […] Management agreed to increase their basic salary by about 500 yuan (HK$570). Their success prompted about 250 workers at a Guangdong exhaust parts supplier, Foshan Fengfu Autoparts, to walk off the job on Monday. […] Strikes are usually stamped out quickly because of government concerns about social unrest. But more disputes have been erupting lately between workers resentful of large income disparities and harsh working conditions, and employers trying to rein in rising costs. One Honda Lock worker from Guangxi said police officers had handed leaflets to striking workers saying that going on strike was illegal and offenders could be thrown into jail for three to five years. […] "We will continue to strike until our demands are met," one worker said. "We want the same treatment as the Honda Autoparts workers." […]. ^ top ^

Jail term confirmed for quake activist (SCMP)
A court upheld a five-year prison sentence yesterday for activist Tan Zuoren, who investigated the deaths of thousands of children in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The decision drew criticism from his lawyer, supporters and international rights groups. They say the rejection of his appeal highlights the government's determination to suppress independent investigations into why so many schools collapsed during the quake, which took more than 88,000 lives. Tan blamed shoddy construction for the children's deaths - an allegation denied by the government. A statement from Sichuan Higher People's Court was read out in a 10-minute session at the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court, ruling that the appeal of Tan - who was convicted of "inciting subversion of state power" in February - would not be overturned. Neither Tan nor his lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, were allowed to speak. The higher court had earlier rejected Pu's request for a retrial. Tan was implicated for having taken part in a commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown by donating blood on June 4, 2008, and slandering the government's handling of the incident by posting a commemorative essay online in 2007. […] But his supporters believe the real reason Tan was implicated was his independent investigation into the collapse of school buildings. They pointed out he had been charged only last year after antagonising the authorities by blaming shoddy building for the deaths. The central government said 5,335 schoolchildren died in the quake - a number that many say is far too low. […] "The Chinese constitution guarantees citizens' rights to freedom of expression, but the government and its politicised judiciary appear to have again denied that right to an outspoken civil society activist," said Phelim Kine, a researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch. Catherine Baber, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific deputy director, said: "Continuing prosecutions of human rights defenders such as Tan Zuoren clearly demonstrates the gap between promises and practice on freedom of speech in China.". ^ top ^

Beijing vows strict state control of internet (SCMP)
[…] China has the world's largest number of internet users and while the market has boomed as citizens take to the Web to blog, read news or trade goods, Beijing has kept a tight grip over sensitive content on subjects like politics and ethnic unrest. The 31-page white paper, which called the internet “a crystallisation of human wisdom”, said its usage in the most populous nation on earth was “transforming the pattern of economic development”. Over the next five years, the government aims to give 45 per cent of its 1.3 billion people access to the internet, up from about 30 per cent now, pushing everyone from officials to farmers to get online, the policy document said. […] Yet it promised no relaxation of stringent controls, which have seen not only pornographic and violent content blocked but also has largely blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. […] “Effectively protecting internet security is an important part of China's internet administration, and an indispensable requirement for protecting state security and the public interest,” the paper said. […] Critics, including not only politicians in the United States and Europe but also dissidents and activists on the mainland, say China is stifling any online criticism of the government or discussion of taboo topics, including policies concerning Taiwan and Tibet. They say the definitions of what can and cannot be discussed are so vague and open to interpretation that the government can use its internet security laws and target anyone it does not like. […] “Within Chinese territory the Internet is under the jurisdiction of Chinese sovereignty. The internet sovereignty of China should be respected and protected,” the white paper said. ^ top ^

Li Peng's diary sets cyberspace on fire (SCMP)
The unpublished diary believed to have been written by former premier Li Peng on the 1989 student pro-democracy protests became the hottest topic in mainland cyberspace over the weekend after it became accessible online to millions of savvy internet users. The photocopy version of the book, entitled The Critical Moment and subtitled Li Peng Diaries, has been made available for downloading straight after the 21st anniversary of the military crackdown in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. […] Yuan Weishi, a historian at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said the timing of the emergence of Li Peng's manuscript was intriguing. "It would be good for him personally to see the book published when he's still alive. If anyone disputes his accounts, he still has chances to refute," Yuan said in a telephone interview. Li, 81, and reportedly in failing health, was obviously concerned about how his role at this critical moment in China's history would be portrayed later on. "It was possible that he covered [something] up, avoided or even distorted some particular issues. It will take time for readers and researchers to find that out," Yuan said. For Liang Xiaoyan, a teacher at Peking University in 1989 and a founder of the environmental group Friends of Nature, Li's diary is pointless. "It's meaningless to read his side of the story when the opposite side has completely been silenced. Seeking historical truth is only meaningful when the political atmosphere is normal, so that witnesses can complement each other to restore a whole historical picture," she said in a phone interview. […] Most people believed the timing of the book's circulation showed the former leader was desperate to vindicate his name by straightening out what he saw as misconceptions and misinformation about his role. Shi Feike, a renowned columnist, said it was no surprise the book was banned on the mainland because the incumbent leadership had apparently been embarrassed by Li's bold determination to share the blame with not only the most powerful party elders, such as Deng Xiaoping and former president Yang Shangkun, but also many current leaders. […]. ^ top ^

Life and death in the toxic shadow of progress (SCMP)
Wang Xisheng's home is just a few kilometres off the coast of Lake Tai, China's third-largest freshwater lake, famed for scenic beauty and abundant delicacies. But for him, it is no longer a blessing to live in the suburbs of Wuxi, one of the most affluent cities in Jiangsu. He was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago. And the cause, he and his fellow residents in Xiangyang village believe, is pollution released by the city's largest petrochemical plant, whose chimney is only about 20 metres away from their houses and used to churn out dark clouds of filthy smoke day and night. […] The factory was built in 1958 during the Great Leap Forward, but it did not turn into a nightmare for thousands of local people until the turn of this century. […] Large amounts of untreated waste water were discharged into the river, and some villagers even made money from collecting oil floating on the river that leaked from the factory. [ …] As one of the richest provinces, Jiangsu ranks at the top of a list of regions worst hit by cancer outbreaks, according to a national survey in 2006. And the cities and counties surrounding Lake Tai, including Wuxi, Changzhou and Suzhou, have the highest overall rate of cancer in the province. Cancer outbreaks have surged across the country in the past two decades, with as many as 2 million people diagnosed with cancer each year and about 1.5 million dying of various forms of the disease, according to the Ministry of Health. A top local construction official attributed Jiangsu's unusually high incidence of cancer - accounting for up to 12 per cent of the country's total - to severe water pollution caused by tens of thousands of chemical plants across the province, according to Modern Express, a Xinhua-owned newspaper. […] At least eight people died of cancer last year, Guangfeng residents said, including several in their early 30s. Villagers said they had been left with few options but to use foul-smelling water from wells just 15 metres deep to wash food and dishes, and to eat vegetables grown by local farmers. […]. ^ top ^



In Beijing, getting to work is half the job (Global Times)
Many Beijing residents spend up to an hour commuting to work every day, a statistic that reflects a need to improve the capital's infrastructure, the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a recent report. […] The 2010 China New Urbanization Report, released Saturday, covered 50 major cities. Among these cities, Beijing topped the list with 52 minutes, followed by 48 minutes in Guangzhou and 47 minutes in Shanghai. Niu Wenyuan, director of sustainable development strategy research center in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Chengdu-based West China Metropolis Daily on Saturday that the time suggests there are many problems with the city's public transportation system. The average traffic jam in Beijing has reportedly increased from 3.5 hours every day in 2008 to 5 hours today, the Beijing News reported earlier. Beijing has nine subway lines and hundreds of bus lines, but the growth in population and private cars is always overwhelming. The permanent population of Beijing reached 17 million last year, an increase of 600,000 over 2008, the China Security Daily reported. To some residents, the long commuting time is a reflection of the lack of affordable housing in the business district. Beijing Statistical Bureau data showed that the average monthly income of Beijing residents is about 2,500 yuan ($366) in the first quarter of 2010 but the rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the central business district is over 2,000 yuan ($292), the China Security Daily reported. ^ top ^



Big-spending Saudis seek to boost ties as pavilion pulls crowds (SCMP)
Besides the China pavilion, the most sought after pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai is not that of the United States or Japan, but Saudi Arabia's showcase. […] Observers have even gone so far as to say that the gains the Saudis will make from their pavilion will improve the relationship between their country and China - possibly by more than the US would like to see. […] The pavilion cost 1.4 billion yuan (HK$1.6 billion), making it the most expensive foreign pavilion at the expo, domestic media reported. Saudi rural affairs minister Prince Mansour bin Mutaib bin Abdulaziz al Saud said at the inauguration ceremony on May 1 that money was not a problem and the most important thing was to have good relations with China. He hoped the pavilion would stay in China forever. Dr Mohammad Allissan al-Ghandi, executive director of the pavilion, would not confirm the cost figure, but said it was not a waste of money and was an investment for the future. […] The Sino-Saudi relationship has been rosy since diplomatic ties were established 20 years ago, and was boosted after King Abdullah was enthroned in 2005, said Professor Zhu Weilie, dean of Middle Eastern studies at Shanghai International Studies University. The king visited China in January 2006 on his first overseas visit after taking the throne, and just three months later President Hu Jintao visited Saudi Arabia. He made another visit in April last year. China has surpassed the US as Saudi Arabia's most important oil importer with more than 40 million tonnes shipped last year, accounting for more than 20 per cent of the mainland's oil imports. […] Professor Li Weijian, a Middle East researcher at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said the positive image left among most mainland visitors would further people-to-people exchanges between Saudi Arabia and China, as senior-level communication was already frequent and had good momentum. The good relationship between Riyadh and Beijing was a concern to Washington, which Li said implemented hegemony in the region. "Many people in the US are not willing to see its descending power and China's rising impact there," he said. ^ top ^

Shanghai Expo tour highlights low-carbon exhibits (People's Daily Online)
Shanghai Expo organizers launched the "Low-Carbon Expo Tour" to cast a spotlight on some of the event's most eco-friendly participants on June 5. The Hushang Eco-home, London Zero-Carbon Pavilion, Madrid Case Pavilion, and the Italian-style of Sustainable City Development Case in the Urban Best Practices Area of the Expo are all on the list of hotspots for the "Low-Carbon Expo Tour." […] In the future, Shanghai will help disseminate the low-carbon concept and actively advocate that society as a whole practice and implement low-carbon production, lifestyles and consumption patterns, said Sun Jian, vice president of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau, at the opening ceremony. Currently, more than 500,000 Shanghai residents have participated in various forms of environmental training at the Shanghai World Expo. The United Nations Environment Program evaluated the environmental situation at the Shanghai World Expo in the "Environmental Assessment Report of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai China.". ^ top ^

Expo 2010 Shanghai: Is it worth it? (Global Times)
For the last 150 years, world fairs and world expos have been held all over the globe. Now, it is Shanghai's turn to shine. Thanks to the foresight of the International Exhibitions Bureau and the Shanghai municipal government, Expo 2010 has been timed to take place at the beginning of a new era: China's integration into the world. […] For the Chinese government, this expo is not only a great opportunity to demonstrate the accomplishments of the new China, it is also an effective way to brand China - by clearly outlining the country's rapid transformation goals to its people and to the foreign media. The message is clear: China's position in the global world is being demonstrated in a peaceful way, promoting trust between the country and the outside world. […] To put this grand event into context, the 2010 Expo is as important to the Chinese as the "Great Exhibition" was to Victorian Britain. Not only will it boost national pride, but if the dialogue between China and the world continues in this positive fashion, there is a great chance that the investments - of all parties involved - will be worth it. ^ top ^



Chinese farmers accumulate points for hukou (Xinhua)
South China's Guangdong province has taken the lead in the country by introducing a new accumulating points system to grant urban hukou, or household registration, to migrant workers. The province plans to attract 1.8 million migrant workers to become urban residents via the points accumulation system before the end of 2012, according to Lin Wangping, deputy director-general of the Guangdong provincial bureau of human resources and social security. […] Guangdong aims to achieve an urbanization target of 67.5 percent by the end of 2012. […] According to the Suggestions on Points Accumulation System for Farmer-turned Workers to Become Urban Residents, which will come into effect later this month, migrant workers who have more education and higher technical skills will have advantages in being granted the urban household registration. Farmer-turned workers who graduated from junior high school will have only five points while university graduates will have 80 points. Those who violate the country's family-planning policy, or have criminal records, will have their points deducted, according to the suggestions. […]. ^ top ^



Beijing offers definition of HK suffrage (SCMP)
Beijing has for the first time offered a definition of what universal suffrage will mean for Hong Kong - "the equal right of election of all individuals". It left pan-democrats even more worried than they were already. […] Pan-democrats said Qiao's statement only offered the right to vote rather than to stand and nominate others to stand in an election, and paved the way for keeping Legislative Council functional constituencies indefinitely. It also renewed their fears that a mechanism would be created to weed out, in the name of "democratic procedure", chief executive candidates not favoured by Beijing. […] Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said he was now even more worried than before hearing Qiao's words. Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said the statement reinforced the camp's concerns. "The government keeps saying it wants us to move forward, but moving without looking means we are walking into a trap." […] "Within the international community, it is a fact that different countries have adopted different electoral systems to realise the universal and equal right of election in the light of their own situations," Qiao said. […] Pan-democrats said Qiao's statement merely reinforced, if not increased, their concerns that the "universal suffrage" promised for 2017 and 2020 would fall short of the type of universal suffrage that allowed a real choice of representatives and an equal opportunity to stand for election. Ho, the Democratic Party chairman, noted the conspicuous absence of any mention of the right to be elected, the lack of a pledge to abolish the functional constituencies and the pegging of the definition of universal suffrage to the other conditions Qiao mentioned. "I think his statement has raised even more questions than answers," Ho said. […]. ^ top ^



Economic fears rise as Taiwan's birth rate declines (SCMP)
[…] Many Taiwanese either remain single or choose not to have children for various reasons, but their choices illustrate Taiwan's drastically declining birth rate. "If this condition does not change, Taiwan will be destroyed naturally without even needing an enemy," said Sun Te-hsiung, former chairman of the Population Association of Taiwan. Sun's warning echoes growing concerns about the economic and social consequences of a low birth rate in Taiwan. With the number of newborns at just 191,310 last year, down almost 4 per cent from 2008, Taiwan's birth rate slipped to a meagre 8.29 per 1,000 people. In just half a century, the total fertility rate - the average number of children that will be born to a woman over her lifetime - has dropped dramatically from six in 1960 to 1.02 at the end of last year. […] As there will be 100,000 fewer students by 2021, according to the Education Ministry's estimate, "many universities and colleges are bound to face financial problems because of the low birth rate impact", Education Minister Wu Ching-chi said. About 60 of Taiwan's 164 universities and colleges may be forced to shut down. Once the domino effect kicks in, shops and other businesses relying on pupils will suffer - then housing and domestic consumption - as supply will far exceed demand, population experts warn. Taiwan's competitiveness in the global market would decline and this could affect the very survival of the island, they said. […] "Unlike women who were mostly housewives in the past, many women today share the responsibility of earning the family income with their husbands, which results in their reluctance to have more children," said Dr Lin Thung-hong, assistant research fellow at Academia Sinica's Institute of Sociology. […] On May 7, the Taipei city government announced a NT$3 billion plan to pay couples to have babies from next year, offering NT$20,000 for every newborn and a monthly subsidy of NT$2,500 for every child aged below five. They will also exempt NT$12,543 in education expenses for each five-year-old child enrolling in city-sponsored kindergartens. "We hope the measures can encourage more young couples to have children," Mayor Hau Lung-bin said. Population experts said while this was a good start, it was important for the government to step up efforts to swiftly boost the birth rate before it was too late. ^ top ^

Taiwan plans green power future for outlying islands in emissions fight (SCMP)
[…] Industrialised Taiwan, a leading semiconductor, chemicals and steelmaker, will invest heavily in wind power on the Penghu islands in the Taiwan Strait. The aim is to raise renewable energy production to half total consumption of the 90,000 population, officials said yesterday. On the Kinmen islets, also known as Quemoy, NT$3 billion (HK$720 million) will be spent to develop solar power, recycle water and push eco-friendly architecture for the 70,000 inhabitants, the Environmental Protection Administration said. The agency said it was hoped the investments could transform the energy supply on the islands and help drive efforts on the more industrialised main island, which has a population of 23 million. Taiwan said in March it would cut carbon dioxide emissions from all sources by 2020 to 2005 levels of about 257 million tonnes, or at least 30 per cent below projected levels if no action were taken. It has also laid out plans for 50 low-carbon villages on the main island. Visible results on the outlying islands could help Taiwan's bid for a UN Framework Convention on Climate Change role, which has repeatedly been blocked by Beijing. "The government needs to show it's doing something, and these are the easiest places to show results," said Robin Winkler, a lawyer and environmental activist in Taipei. […] In 2006, the International Energy Agency ranked Taiwan 22nd in the world for carbon dioxide emissions. ^ top ^



Panchen Lama visits sensitive Tibetan area on border with India (SCMP)
[…] The 11th Panchen Lama – also known on Gyaltsen Norbu – attended religious ceremonies in Lhoka prefecture on Monday, the official People's Daily said. Part of Lhoka is run by India's northeastern Arunachal Pradesh state, considered by China to be southern Tibet. China and India fought a brief border war there in 1962 and the territorial dispute continues to strain bilateral ties. “I have had a desire for many years to come to Lhoka on a pilgrimage and hold Buddhist activities,” the report quoted him as saying. “My wish came true today and I am extremely happy.” […] The Dalai Lama, Tibet's god-king who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising, visited Arunachal Pradesh's remote Tawang district last year, prompting an angry response from Beijing. The government in Beijing considers the Dalai Lama a separatist, a charge he denies. Beijing and the Dalai Lama have been competing for the hearts and minds of Tibetans and China has poured in billions of dollars to develop the Himalayan region to justify its rule. China moved swiftly to appoint its own reincarnation of the Panchen Lama in 1995, shortly after the Dalai Lama announced his own choice, a six-year-old boy, who was taken away by the authorities and has disappeared from public view. The Beijing-anointed Panchen Lama is spurned by many Tibetans as a fake. ^ top ^



Capital flow into gold market may trigger economic bubble (People's Daily Online)
[…] The gold price rose to a historic high in May of 1,241 U.S. dollars per ounce, and it has been hovering around 1,200 U.S. dollars per ounce since June. […] Inflation expectations and a cool property market have made gold the focal point of investment. Zhou Dewen, head of Wenzhou SME Development Association, said that Wenzhou businesspeople have been discussing withdrawing capital from the property market in recent months. Because gold is easier to transfer into money, it has become a tool for businesspeople to pursue capital appreciation in a short period of time. […] According to the latest announcement by the Shanghai Gold Exchange, the gold trading volume in May was more than 662,000 kilograms, an increase of almost 18 percent from the previous month, or about 141 percent from the previous year. The trade turnover reached 175 billion yuan, an increase of almost 24 percent from the previous month, or about 213 percent from the previous year. Experts believe there may be a bubble in the gold market after gold prices have remained at high levels for a long period of time. Zhu Zhigang, chief analyst from Guangdong Yuebao Gold Investment Company, reminded investors that gold prices are expected to enter a correction period in July because the gold price level is at a very high level following a decade-long continual rise, and the traditional soft gold trading season is about to begin. Even if idle funds from Wenzhou's businesspeople enter the market, they are unlikely to reverse the trend. The current domestic gold price would not have been so high without international speculation. As China has become the world's second largest gold-consumption market, international speculators are turning their eyes to the Chinese market. China should be cautious of international speculators who deliberately drive up the price before tempting investors to enter the market. […]. ^ top ^

Second reform urged (SCMP)
With 10 million families living in slums while property prices soar, mainland academics and lawmakers are calling for a second round of housing reform, after the first effort left so many of the poor behind. "We need to have a change," Li Qingyun, a professor at Peking University, said. "In the first reform [in 1998], the central government did not set a clear direction for the development of the nation's housing system. They did not consider thoughtfully how many public and government-subsidised homes they needed to build for the poor. As a result, most of the homes built were put on the private housing market." The call for further reform was initiated last year by a group of academics including Li Daokui, a professor at Tsinghua University. The debate intensified when 30 deputies at the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference meetings in March called for a second housing reform. They proposed that housing be considered a public good that needs to be supplied not only to low-income but also middle-income people, who make up 60 per cent of the urban population. They also suggested creating a non-profit entity and a government-owned housing investment firm that would build homes for the needy rather than rely solely on private developers. […] More than 20 million people a year needed new housing, from fresh university graduates to farmers and migrant workers moving to the city, and most of them could not afford to buy private housing, Li said. Meanwhile, home prices on the mainland are already out of reach for 85 per cent of families, according to a report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Li suggested that the central government borrow experience from Singapore or Hong Kong, whose governments play a pivotal role in providing public housing. But there are sceptics, including Yi Xianrong, an economist at CASS, a top government think tank. "We do not need housing reform," he said. "The first reform was not a failure. It was the right move to turn from the welfare allocation system to the commercialised housing market." Yi said the recent property boom was due to the massive incentives and preferential policies of Beijing's four trillion yuan (HK$4.57 trillion) stimulus package to boost the economy. Investors and speculators would be forced to leave the market when the central government cut the incentives, and prices would drop, he said. ^ top ^

Experts: EU debt crisis unlikely to shake up Chinese economy (People's Daily Online)
The sovereign debt crisis in the European Union has intensified the fluctuations of financial markets worldwide, causing concern about the world economy. Confidence in the continued recovery of the Chinese economy has started to falter as well. However, experts interviewed by People's Daily largely believe that the crisis is unlikely to phase the huge Chinese economy and the trend of China's economic recovery will remain unchanged. Since the beginning of 2010, the euro exchange rate against the RMB has dipped 14.3 percent from 9.8 yuan per euro to 8.4 yuan per euro. Industry insiders believe the drastic decline in the euro will likely slow down the European economy and subsequently curb demand. In 2009, China's exports to the European Union totaled 236.2 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for almost 20 percent of China's total exports. Exports to Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy, the countries most affected by the crisis, amounted to 41.7 billion U.S. dollars, about 3.5 percent of China's total exports, or 18 percent of China's exports to the European Union. "The European Union has become one of the largest trade partners of China and the European debt crisis has posed increased fiscal pressure on each county of the European Union, said Guo Feng, director of the Research and Consulting Department of Northeast Securities. "To reduce debts, governments of the countries will raise tax rates and cut expenditures, weakening their country's consumption. This, plus the depreciation of the euro, will considerably weaken their import capacity and hurt China's foreign trade." […] Although the European Union debt crisis came with terrifying force, it only took place in certain countries and did not truly spread. The impact on China will be limited if the crisis does not occur in the major countries of the European Union. […] Zhou Chunsheng, professor of finance at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, said China's exports to the European Union will be impacted, but in the long term, it may not be a bad thing. Because China's industrial structure urgently needs transformation from depending on exports to expanding domestic demand, the decrease of European orders will force some export-oriented enterprises to transform their industrial structure, which to a certain extent, can be considered an opportunity. On the whole, the European Union debt crisis has a limited impact on China's economy, and to a certain degree, it can relieve China's overheated economy. Though we hold an optimistic attitude on the future of the Chinese economy and even the world economy, we still need to remain vigilant to the short-term risks of the crisis. ^ top ^

US sets preliminary penalties on Chinese drill pipe (Global Times)
The US Commerce Department Tuesday set preliminary countervailing duties (CVD) on imports of some $119.2 million drill pipe from China, a move might escalate trade disputes between the two countries. The department said in a statement that it "preliminary determined that Chinese exporters of drill pipe have received countervailable subsidies of 15.72 percent." As a result of this preliminary determination, Commerce will instruct US Customs and Border Protection to collect a cash deposit or bond based on these preliminary rates. In 2009, imports of drill pipe from China were valued at an estimated $119.2 million, according to the Commerce Department. The department said that it is currently scheduled to make its final determination in August 2010. If Commerce makes an affirmative final determination, and the US International Trade Commission makes an affirmative final determination that imports of drill pipe from China materially injures, or threaten material injury to, the domestic industry, Commerce will issue an countervailing duty order. The protectionist moves by the Obama administration will ultimately hurt the US-China trade relations, which are becoming more and more important due to the global financial crisis, economists warned. Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming recently called on world governments to remain alert to trade protectionism for the sake of a global recovery. "There is still uncertainties and tough way ahead. As the world is going through an economic recovery, countries across the world need to make concerted efforts to stand against protectionism and support liberalization of trade and investment," Chen said. ^ top ^

China's central bank restates relatively easy monetary policy based on new changes (Global Times)
China's central bank reiterated on Tuesday it would continue to implement the relatively easy monetary policy according to changing situations in a bid to facilitate the ongoing development mode transformation, as well as reinforce the country's sound and relatively fast economic growth. The national economy is set to remain stable while seeing a relatively quick expansion this year, in general. However, the foundation of the recovery is not solid, the People's Bank of China said in a report focusing on China's regional financial operation. Further, the report stated that China still needed to improve its ability to be innovative while also continuing to stimulate consumer spending as well as optimizing the country's economic structure amid tough emission cutting targets. Additionally, the report noted that the potential fiscal risk should not be overlooked. Many uncertainties, including the expanding European sovereign debt crisis, trade frictions, and the stimulus exit, would have a significant impact on China's economy. The central bank also encouraged the nation's financial institutions to lend to companies in the new energy sector, small enterprises and job-promotion businesses, while asking them to avoid industries with high energy consumption and emissions as well as those with overcapacity. ^ top ^

Hot money, cold snap spur vegetable prices (SCMP)
[…] Government data shows that between December and April the average price for 28 vegetables was seven yuan a kilogram, 31.5 per cent higher than a year earlier. Although the average price moderated somewhat last month, certain products, including garlic and mung beans, still traded at record highs. According to, a website that provides information for the food sector, mung bean prices hovered around 19 yuan a kilogram mid-month. In most parts of the mainland, the price has more than doubled from a year earlier. The same thing happened to garlic, which usually sells for around one yuan a kilogram but reached a peak of 19 yuan a kilogram last month. The unusually high prices of these vegetables are reminiscent of the rising pork prices that drove inflation in 2007 and 2008, and have become a concern for the public. Food accounts for a third of the mainland's consumer price index, which rose 2.8 per cent year on year in April, the third month in a row inflation had exceeded the benchmark interest rate. When that happens, the real value of people's bank savings shrinks. While there was bad weather early this year, many observers attribute the price rises to an influx of "hot money" to agricultural commodity markets as investors turn away from the real estate and stock markets. Ding Shengjun, a researcher at the State Grain Administration, said. […] Mainland banks released more than nine trillion yuan of credit last year to counter the financial crisis. […] Peng Sen, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, told Xinhua that after the amount of cash in circulation rose last year because of the central bank's loose monetary policy, some speculative capital had shifted to agricultural products such as mung beans and garlic, given the poor performance of the real estate and stock markets so far this year and the extreme weather farmers had recently encountered. Garlic and mung beans "are both seasonal products grown in limited areas, but demand is there all year round. They have a relatively small quantity of supply and demand and are easier to store, which make them ripe for speculation", he said. The commission issued a joint notification with the Ministry of Commerce and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce last week to local authorities to crack down on speculation in agricultural products. […] In contrast, however, Yao Jingyuan, the chief economist at the National Bureau of Statistics, said there had been no evidence of hot money flowing into the agricultural market. He said that since agricultural products had a short shelf life and low added value, they lacked the characteristics of a good investment. Instead, he blamed the bad weather as the main reason for the soaring prices, as it had increased transport costs. […]. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

Pyongyang vows to punish guards who shot dead 3 Chinese (SCMP)
North Korea has pledged to severely punish border guards responsible for the shooting deaths of three Chinese nationals at the border between the countries last week, Chinese official media reported yesterday. The hermit regime's authorities told Xinhua that the shooting at its border with the northeastern city of Dandong, Liaoning, last Friday was an "accidental incident". "The North Korean side has expressed grief over the loss of lives on the Chinese side and expressed condolences to the victims' families," Xinhua said. Pyongyang said it would punish those responsible and prevent a similar incident happening. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said yesterday that authorities from both sides were still investigating the incident, in which one other person was injured. He declined to provide further information. Qin said earlier that Beijing had lodged a severe diplomatic protest over the incident. […]. ^ top ^

N.Korea writes to US, warns of Cheonan debate (Global Times)
Pyongyang warned the UN Wednesday of "serious" consequences if it debates an alleged torpedo attack on the South Korean warship Cheonan without letting North Korean investigators examine the evidence. In a letter sent to the UN Security Council (US), Pyongyang accuses Washington and Seoul of a "smear campaign" to fake evidence of its involvement as a pretext for aggression and says reprisals already announced by the South could spark war. "In case the unilaterally forged 'investigation result' is put on the agenda of the US and opened debate without the verification of the directly victimized party (North Korea)... no one would dare imagine how serious its consequences would be with regard to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula," North Korean state media quoted the letter as saying. It urged the council not to be swayed by Washington's "lies" and demanded that it be allowed to send a team to examine the evidence. The letter, addressed to the US president from the North's permanent representative to the body, followed the filing of a complaint by the South last week demanding action by the international community to censor Pyongyang. Despite the tense confrontation, Seoul said Wednesday that it had approved the shipments of baby formula for North Korean infants as a rare exception to the ban on trade, travel and movement of goods across their border. The South's Ministry of Unification, which must authorize all cross-border exchanges, said the shipments from private groups, of milk and other items totaling $320,000, would be sent late this month. […]. ^ top ^

S Korean army general arrested for leaking secrets to DPRK (Global Times)
A two-star South Korean army general on Wednesday was arrested for allegedly leaking military secrets to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), local media quoted military sources as reporting. The Defense Security Command (DSC), Seoul's military intelligence agency, has requested an arrest warrant for the active duty Major General, identified only as Kim, earlier in the day, according to Seoul's state-run broadcaster KBS. Kim is accused of having handed confidential information to a former South Korean intelligence agent recruited by the DPRK, identified as Park, who was also arrested last week on charges of selling the classified information to the DPRK. The information is related to the South Korea-U.S. Operations Plan 5027, that contains the current operational plan for defense and counterattack for the possible breakout of war between the two Koreas. ^ top ^

China protests to N Korea after 3 shot dead at border (SCMP)
China formally protested after North Korean border guards shot three Chinese citizens dead last week, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Another Chinese citizen was injured when the guards opened fire on the border between the city of Dandong, in Liaoning province, and North Korea, ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. Qin said the shooting took place early on Friday morning and the border guards suspected the Chinese were crossing the border to trade. "China attached great importance to the incident and immediately raised solemn representations to the DPRK," Qin said, using the acronym for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's formal name. Qin did not say if the Chinese citizens were shot in China or North Korea. South Korean media reported earlier that they were members of a Dandong-based smuggling group and were on a ship on the Yalu River. Cross-border smuggling has been rampant, especially along the Yalu, which forms the border in Liaoning, because commodities are in short supply in North Korea. Some North Korean refugees also try to escape to China, with many caught and taken back by border guards. The shooting of Chinese citizens along North Korea's heavily militarised border is unusual, especially as Beijing is Pyongyang's closest international ally, but other people have been targeted in the past. In 2008, a South Korean tourist was killed by a North Korean soldier at the Mount Kumgang resort, a restricted zone that was opened to tourists from the South. Last year, American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were detained by North Korea while doing interviews on human trafficking near the border between China and the reclusive state. […] Liu Ming, director of Korean Peninsula studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the Dandong shooting would have a limited impact on China's stance on the Cheonan incident and its relations with Pyongyang. "The Foreign Ministry did not release any information until it was asked at a press conference. This is the normal practice when such incidents involve an ally," Liu said. "But the incident shows North Korea is on very high alert at its borders since the Cheonan incident.". ^ top ^

Is this Kim Jong-il's son and heir apparent? (SCMP)
[…] Ageing leader Kim Jong-il is widely believed to be preparing to hand over power to his youngest son, Jong-un, but little is known about the son. No verified pictures of him as an adult have surfaced. […] Japan's Mainichi Shimbun last year published what it said was a 1999 class photo of Jong-un taken when he was aged 16 at one of two schools he had attended in Berne. The report, which was never confirmed by South Korean authorities, said he was enrolled as a child of a North Korean embassy employee at the Berne schools from the summer of 1996 to January 2001, under the name of "Pak Un". According to classmates, he studied English, French and German. […] North Korea on Monday promoted Kim Jong-il's brother-in-law, Jang Song-thaek, in a move seen as preparing for Jong-un's eventual succession. Jang, appointed as a vice-chairman of the top decision-making body the National Defence Commission, is close to Jong-un and seen as likely to act as "regent" when the son takes the reins. Analysts say the move makes Jang, 64, the second most powerful man in the secretive state as it prepares for life after the ailing 68-year-old leader. Jong-un is expected to be declared the eventual successor in 2012, the year the country has set for becoming a "great, powerful and prosperous" nation, said Paik Hak-soon, of Seoul's Sejong Institute think tank. ^ top ^

S.Korea may send envoy to China (Global Times)
South Korea will send an envoy to China this week to seek Beijing's support in getting the UN Security Council (US) to censure North Korea for the sinking of the warship Cheonan, the Yonhap News Agency said Monday. "We are considering sending Chung Yung-woo, a vice foreign minister, to China at the proper time," Seoul-based Yonhap quoted an official as saying on condition of anonymity. Seoul is also considering sending a civilian-military probe team for a briefing at the US if there is a request from the council, the official added, according to Yonhap. Called on by Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, South Korean lawmakers discussed future responses to the Cheonan incident, including how to win support against Pyongyang at the US, the official said. However, he told the agency that nothing was decided regarding the two visits. By press time, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not confirm the matter or make any comment. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said in Singapore on Saturday that there would not be a war between the two Koreas. However, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was also in Singapore attending the Shangri-La Dialogue, said on the same day that Washington "will conduct combined military exercises with South Korea and support action in the US." […] Lü Chao, a researcher on Korean Studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that, if the South Korean envoy visits China soon, it is an opportunity for both sides to further exchange their respective positions on the sinking. "To jointly maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is the common objective pursued by China, South Korea, the US, Japan and Russia," he said. "Any talks between Chinese officials and the South Korean envoy would be based on that objective." Also Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il attended a rare second annual session of Parliament, the Yonhap News Agency reported. At his proposal, prime minister Kim Yong-il was replaced by Choe Yong-rim, who headed the Pyongyang branch of the Workers' Party of Korea. Jang Song-thaek was promoted to vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission, the Korean Central News Agency said. ^ top ^


Corentin Buela
Embassy of Switzerland

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
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