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
  16-20.8.2010, No. 333  
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DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

China, Switzerland mark 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties (Xinhua + Global Times)
China and Switzerland Saturday marked the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic ties at a reception in Beijing. Addressing the occasion, senior Chinese official Liu Qi said China hopes to take the opportunity of the 60th anniversary to enhance mutual political trust and cooperation with Switzerland in various fields. Liu, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said China attaches great importance to developing friendly relations with Switzerland, one of the first Western countries to recognize the People's Republic of China. Currently China is Switzerland's second largest trading partner in Asia, and Switzerland is a major partner of China in Europe, said Liu. Doris Leuthard, President of the Swiss Confederation and Head of Federal Department of Economic Affairs, said Swiss-China relationship has deeply developed since the establishment of the diplomatic ties on September 14, 1950. Leuthard said the two economies are complementary and can achieve win-win results in fields such as environment, machinery and financial services. Leuthard is paying a working visit to China from August 10 to 15, at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao. ^ top ^

China, Switzerland agree to start FTA talks (Global Times)
China and Switzerland on Friday agreed to start free trade agreement (FTA) talks, as the two states celebrate their 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties. Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Swiss counterpart, Doris Leuthard, witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding on finishing the FTA feasibility study that was started in 2009. The two states will begin FTA talks as soon as possible, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said in a statement. As one of the first Western countries to forge diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, Switzerland has become China's major trade partner in Europe. "Facing new opportunities, China-Switzerland relations are at a new starting point," Hu told Leuthard during their 30-minute meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. President Hu hailed the development of bilateral relations and pledged to further expand political trust and trade and economic cooperation. Top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo also met with Leuthard Friday. He said China and Switzerland share broad common interests and that enhancing bilateral ties is the common desire of the two peoples. Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, said the Chinese and Swiss economies are complementary and have great potential for cooperation. He expressed hope the two nations can explore new ways to better combine Swiss technology with the Chinese market. Leuthard congratulated China on its rapid development and said she is deeply impressed by China's successful hosting of the Shanghai World Expo. Leuthard also conveyed her nation's condolences to President Hu Jintao over the series of natural disasters China has suffered recently. Leuthard also said Switzerland will stick to the one-China policy. In China for a working visit, Leuthard also said the two states should boost cooperation in finance, education, culture, environmental protection, tourism and in international affairs. ^ top ^

China 'not a threat' in L. America (People's Daily Online)
The United States does not view China as a threat and Washington is in talks with Beijing on cooperation in Latin America, long considered America's backyard, a senior US official said on Wednesday. While China's trade share in Latin America is small, the potential is huge and there are many areas of possible cooperation between China and the US, Arturo Valenzuela, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, told China Daily. However, "we are talking generally we haven't come up with any concrete steps", said the US official, who arrived on Monday for a five-day China tour. The Obama administration's top diplomat for Latin America said he regarded China joining the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) as well as being an official observer at the Organization of American States (OAS) as positive moves. ^ top ^

US drills to deepen distrust, strategist says (SCMP)
China lacks the power to block planned US naval exercises near its shores, but those drills risk deepening distrust of Washington and bolstering pressure for a stronger Chinese military, a Chinese admiral said yesterday. Rear Admiral Yang Yi, a senior researcher at the National Defence University in Beijing, said that China was also concerned about joint exercises this week involving thousands of US and South Korean troops. Those mainly land-based exercises could inflame neighbouring North Korea and fuel regional tensions, Yang said. However, China sees a much more direct threat in Pentagon plans for new joint naval exercises with ally South Korea that would send a US aircraft carrier into the Yellow Sea between China and the Korean Peninsula, he said. The Pentagon has not given a date for these exercises, which Yang said would be provocatively close to northern China's political and economic heartland. "If the United States does enter the Yellow Sea, China can't possibly use military force to block it. That could risk a military clash, and that would be unwise for China and the United States," Yang said in the telephone interview. "But if the United States insists on going ahead with this, that will be dropping a stone on its own foot. It will damage long-term relations between China and the US." [...] Friction between Beijing and Washhington over Chinese maritime claims and US naval activities has added to irritants between the countries, which have also sparred this year over Taiwan, Tibet, internet policy and the yuan's exchange rate. ^ top ^

North Korean warplane crash in Liaoning embarrasses Beijing (SCMP)
A North Korean fighter jet that ploughed into a makeshift house just 27 kilometres from Shenyang, the capital of northeast China's Liaoning province, on Tuesday has sparked fevered speculation and is an embarrassment for Beijing, military and diplomatic analysts said. They said the incident would embarrass the People's Liberation Army if its air force had failed to detect the intrusion of such an unsophisticated arplane and allowed it to fly so close to Shenyang, especially at a time when the United States and South Korea are planning further naval drills in the nearby Yellow Sea. Xinhua, citing Chinese authorities, said yesterday that the aircraft that crashed into farmland near Shenyang had probably come from North Korea. "The aircraft crashed into a makeshift, civilian house, leaving no Chinese dead or injured," Xinhua quoted a source as saying. "The pilot died on the spot." Xinhua said Beijing was communicating with Pyongyang over the issue. [...] "It definitely was not shot down. If it was brought down by PLA anti-aircraft artillery it would have been in many pieces," Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military expert, said. He said unidentified planes intruding into Chinese airspace would normally be escorted to a nearby airport by PLA aircraft. Yonhap quoted another Chinese source as saying that the aircraft might have lost its way while attempting to fly to Russia. "The number of North Korean soldiers defecting from the impoverished, reclusive state has increased in recent months as food shortages deepen," Yonhap said. However, Gao Haikuan, an expert on northeast Asian security affairs, said the mutual embarrassment would not harm bilateral ties. "It's just a small accident," Gao said. "I think both Beijing and Pyongyang realise they need each other amid the rising tension in the Yellow Sea.". ^ top ^

China firmly opposes U.S. military report on China (Xinhua)
China on Wednesday denied claims in a U.S. government report, saying it exaggerated China's military strength. "We firmly oppose this report," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a press release when asked to comment on the annual report by the U.S. Defense Department. She said the report exaggerated China's military strength, and unfairly blamed China for some problems that exist in the bilateral military relationship.

"China unswervingly sticks to a path of peaceful development and pursues a national defense policy which is defensive in nature," Jiang said, noting that China is devoted to safeguarding peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large. "We urge the U.S side to respect this fact," she said. Jiang also urged the United States to stop issuing such reports on China's military, and work towards improving relations between the two militaries and the two nations, instead of working against China. ^ top ^

Pentagon report called unhelpful (SCMP)
China hit out yesterday at a Pentagon report on its expanding military capabilities, as other Asian nations said they would be keeping a wary eye on their neighbour's growing might. Beijing said the US Defence Department report was "not beneficial" for military ties between the two major powers, while state media branded the dossier "aggressive" and said it exaggerated the power of China's armed forces. Geng Yansheng, spokesman for the defence ministry, insisted the country was on a "path of peaceful development". "Issuing this report is not beneficial for the improvement and development of Sino-US military ties," he said in a statement. The Pentagon report to the US Congress said China's military strategists were looking to extend their reach to be able to hit targets as far away as mainland Japan, the Philippines and the US territory of Guam. Beijing was ramping up investment in a range of areas including nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, submarines, aircraft carriers and cyber warfare, according to the report published Monday. China demanded that Washington stop issuing such reports. "We ask the United States... to stop remarks and behaviour that are not beneficial for mutual trust between the two militaries and Sino-US relations," Geng said. [...]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Nation mourns its mudslide dead (SCMP)
Flags flew at half mast and public entertainment was cancelled yesterday as the nation marked a day of mourning for the more than 1,200 people killed by massive mudslides in the northwest. Thousands of residents and rescuers in Zhouqu, the remote mountain region in Gansu province flattened by last weekend's landslides, stopped search efforts to take part in a ceremony to remember the victims, state television said. Sirens wailed as mourners, wearing white paper flowers and some still clutching their shovels, observed a three-minute silence at 10am. Rescuers and medics later resumed their duties, clearing debris from the swollen Bailong River, searching for bodies buried under sludge and spraying disinfectant to prevent disease outbreaks, Xinhua said. [...] President Hu Jintao, former president Jiang Zemin and all the party's politburo standing committee members paid tribute to the victims amid warnings that torrential rains forecast for the coming days could hamper relief efforts, Xinhua said. Flags across the country and at overseas embassies were flown at half mast and public entertainment such as movies, karaoke, online games and television was suspended, reports said. In Hong Kong, flags on government buildings were lowered and the daily evening lightshow on the harbour was cancelled out of respect for those killed in the devastating mudslides. State television broadcast images of about 10,000 people gathered in Tiananmen Square early yesterday to watch a flag-raising ceremony while other ceremonies were held across the country. Shortly after midnight, the home pages of mainland websites turned black and white while newspapers were stripped of colour in a show of mourning, Xinhua said. Authorities said 496 people in Zhouqu were still missing after the avalanche of mud and rocks last weekend, which levelled an area five kilometres long and 300 metres wide, Xinhua said. The official death toll rose to 1,248 yesterday from the previously reported 1,239. ^ top ^

Corrupt Tianjin official punished (SCMP)
A court yesterday gave a former top city official a suspended death sentence for taking bribes and abusing his power, Xinhua said, the latest in the government's war on corruption. Pi Qiansheng, who headed a high-profile economic development zone near Beijing and was fired last year, was found guilty of extorting money and accepted bribes of 7.55 million yuan (HK$8.63 million) between 1995 and 2005, Xinhua cited the court ruling as saying. His "illegal actions" while heading the Tianjin Economic and Technology Development Zone administrative committee from 1996 to 1998 resulted in 220 million yuan worth of losses in state assets, the report said. The Tianjin development zone is 120km southeast of Beijing and was established to boost north China's economy and become a logistics hub for northeast Asia. Pi's downfall puts a dent in hopes of Tianjin, which has spent billions of dollars revamping its infrastructure, emerging as a regional financial and economic centre despite its past success in attracting foreign investment into the zone. [...] The court also ordered all of Pi's assetss be confiscated. Suspended death sentences on the mainland are almost always reduced to life sentences after two years if the prisoner does not reoffend. ^ top ^

Chinese official urges non-worldliness among religious personnel amid reports of priest scams (Xinhua)
Wang Zuoan, head of China's State Administration for Religious Affairs, said here Wednesday religious personnel should not seek fame and fortune. Wang is the first government official comment on a reported scandal by a popular Taoist priest. Li Yi, the priest, renowned for his reported 30,000 followers, has been found by local authorities to have fabricated several miracles he claimed to have enacted, including holding his breath underwater for two hours non-stop. The priest oversees the Shaolong Taoist Temple in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, where expensive health and meditation programs are offered. Wang said no one could become religious leaders with only the help of media puffery, celebrity endorsements and big money, and warned religious personnel to not believe in the fairy tale of overnight fame. Instead, religious personnel should have a detached and tranquil mind, acquire merits and virtues through study and religious practice, and win respect with knowledge, integrity and character, he said. He also called on government departments of religious affairs across the country to constantly enhance the education and cultivation of religious personnel and adopt effective measures to prevent the moral degradation of them. ^ top ^

Internet expands at rapid pace in China (Xinhua)
The Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology has called the Internet, the engine boosting China's economy. Xi Guohua made the comments at the 2010 Internet Conference in Beijing. China is expanding its lead as the country with the most Internet users. The Industry and Information Ministry estimates that about one third of the population has used the Internet. About 377-million people surf the web on mobile phones, making up nearly 66 percent of total Internet users. One bright spot has been the spike in online consumers. More than 142-million people have shopped online, a 30 percent increase in only half a year. E-commerce is becoming the backbone of the country's Internet industry. For most on-line shoppers, security has been the biggest concern. More than half of Internet users have been attacked by viruses or Trojan horses in the past 6 months. Despite security issues, the Internet is changing nearly every field in people's daily lives. Whether reading news, shopping, chatting with friends, people are doing more of their daily routines online. Xi Guohua said, "All departments of the central government, and more than 98 percent of local governments have opened their own official web-sites to inform the public about their schedule. People can even pay taxes online." The Information Ministry is encouraging the Internet, telecommunications, radio and television to merge together. It also says a more secure and healthy environment is a must for the Internet to play a bigger role in China's economy. ^ top ^

Book reveals secret code of officials' signatures (SCMP)
The unwritten rules of mainland corruption have just been written down, and they make interesting reading. If a senior official approves a project by signing his name vertically, it means "do it straight away", whereas a horizontal signature says "put it on the back burner". A full stop after the signature means "spare no effort on this project", while a circle indicates "it's useless even if I sign it". Lower-ranking officials have to learn the rule by themselves, and it's just one of many that have to be learned for a successful career in China's bureaucracy. Jiang Zongfu, a 41-year-old former vice-mayor of Linxiang, Hunan, has revealed the secrets of how to survive in mainland officialdom in his book My years as an official: an original record of my undercover life as a (county-level) vice-mayor. The 250,000-word book documents his experiences in five years as deputy chief of Linxiang, a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Yueyang, and uses the real names of Jiang's colleagues and superiors. He says the crux of survival as an official is to adapt to the hidden rules. "To be an official is a high-risk career," he said yesterday. "You have limited power but enormous responsibility, and things are especially cruel for grass-roots-level officials." He had to face all kinds of temptations, including money and lust, and "had my heart in my mouth for five years". Another secret he reveals is how officials avoid trouble after leaving a post. They give a red packet, containing money, to the local Discipline Inspection Commission, the Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog. The amount of the money given usually equals the largest bribe the official has received during his term in office. "In this way one could avoid being investigated," he said. Jiang, who describes himself as a "secret agent" in the government, finished the book on August 8 and is negotiating with a publisher. He wrote it while in hospital for three months after being removed as vice-mayor. He said one of the reasons he wrote the book was to put the spotlight on Linxiang - a small, well-off city with a population of about 500,000 - and provide a reference for the nation's political reform. Jiang said he was not sure whether the book could pass the censorship process, adding "it would be such a pity if it's banned". He also said he feared revenge for telling the truth. Jiang, a former journalist, said his entry into officialdom was abnormal and more of an accident. He was made vice-mayor in 2005 because of an online posting he wrote while a civil servant. [...] His removal as vice-mayor this year was also related to his online postings, which caused headaches for his superiors in Linxiang [...]. ^ top ^

Most of China raises minimum wage (Global Times)
Some 27 provinces and regions in the country adjusted minimum wage levels this year, with Qinghai Province in Northwest China becoming the latest to do so on Tuesday. The increase in minimum wage has exceeded 20 percent in about 20 provinces, and the raises in Hainan, Sichuan provinces and the Tibet Autonomous Region have even topped 30 percent, the Beijing News reported Wednesday. [...] Curreently, only Gansu, Guizhou, Chongqing, and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have not announced minimum wage adjustment plans. After the adjustments, Shanghai ranked first nationwide with a monthly minimum wage of 1,200 yuan ($164), and Beijing ranked first in terms of hourly minimum wage with 9 yuan ($1.3), Beijing News reported. Yuan Gangming, a scholar with the Center for China in the World Economy at Tsinghua University, was quoted by Xinhua as saying earlier that the raise in minimum wage was directly linked with the increase in CPI. However, Liu Weixin, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and deputy president of the Chinese Society of Urban Economy, told the Global Times over the telephone Wednesday that the increase was "more of a political concern." "The value of manpower should be appreciated more to avoid social instability," explained Liu. [...] The minimum wage should be adjusted once every two years, according to regulations. However, the recent adjustment had been postponed for two years because of the international financial crisis in 2008, the Beijing News reported. ^ top ^

Foxconn workers rally to the cause: 50,000 employees at suicide-stricken technology giant attend morale-boosting events (SCMP)
Work on the fast-running assembly lines stopped. Clown masks and wigs were the order of the day as 20,000 workers shouted carefully designed slogans at a morale-boosting rally yesterday at Foxconn's Longhua plant in Shenzhen. But under the clown masks, no one could know their true emotional reactions. The Taiwanese technology giant held simultaneous rallies, with more than 50,000 of its 900,000 employees across its mainland plants taking part, after 14 suicide attempts this year at its plants in Shenzhen and Foshan in Guangdong and in Kunshan, Jiangsu. The rallies, which began at 5pm, lasted about two hours, followed by an evening party at all the mainland facilities with simultaneous broadcasts to one another. Assembly workers were encouraged to shout the theme for the rallies - "Treasure Your Life, Love Your Family and Care for Each Other to Build a Wonderful Future" - repeatedly. Louis Woo, a special assistant to chief executive Terry Gou, said none of the workers who took part in the Longhua rally had been selected and he believed it would promote a positive outlook and approach towards life to about 470,000 workers. But a 17-year-old worker from Hunan who watched the rally alone said he did not believe it could stop workers from hurting themselves. "My line leader told me to watch the rally and party after work... I don't think a bustling parade like that can really stop people from committing suicide," said the teenager, who has worked at the Shenzhen plant for only two months and said he had made no friends at work. A 21-year-old Sichuan warehouseman said he had not been informed about the rally and did not know where it would take place. Labour activists said the event was unlikely to boost morale and was no substitute for the need for deeper management reforms. "I don't think today's event is going to achieve anything except provide a bit of theatre," said Geoffrey Crothall, spokesman for the China Labour Bulletin, a labour rights group based in Hong Kong. "Basically what Foxconn needs to do is treat its workers like decent human beings and pay them a decent wage. It's not rocket science. "They're still tackling this from a top-down approach. They're organising the workers. They're not allowing the workers to organise themselves." Woo denied that the company would remove about 3 million square metres of safety netting at its mainland plants, which had been installed to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths. A female worker in Jiangsu leapt to her death on August 4. Woo also said Foxconn would hire 8 per cent more workers across the mainland this year, and increase hiring by 20-30 per cent next year. However, its workforce in Shenzhen would be cut to between 300,000 and 350,000. ^ top ^

Chinese Vice Premier urges major state firms to improve production safety (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang has called on the country's centrally-administered state-owned enterprises to improve workplace safety and avoid accidents among workers.

Zhang made the comments during an inspection tour in Beijing on Wednesday and Thursday to six major state companies, including China Petrochemical Corp., Shenhua Group Corp. Ltd., and China State Construction Engineering Corp. Further, Zhang urged these businesses to attach great importance to monitoring workplace safety and improving safety management systems. He asked enterprises to increase input in production safety management, promote research and development, as well as the application of new technologies and equipment that would help improve the safety of workers. Zhang also demanded efforts be made to improve staff trainings on creating safe work conditions. ^ top ^



High costs causing worker shortage (Global Times)
Beijing's cost of living is so high that the city is failing to attract workers to match its accelerating development. The unskilled job sector where migrant workers normally make up the shortfall is particularly affected. "My monthly wage is only 1,100 yuan ($162)," said Jiang Shencai, a 60-year-old Henan migrant worker at a building construction site in Chaoyang district. "But my son gets 3,500 yuan ($515) a month as a truck driver in Wenzhou," he said. "I've been working here five years but I'm now considering finding a job in Zhejiang Province." His job was fine, Jiang said, but the high living costs in Beijing left him very little money to save. "We need to build two houses for my two grandsons." In the last quarter, vacancies across all industries hit 377,376, yet there were only 99,908 job seekers, creating a gap of 277,468, while the figure was 211,027 between January and March. The biggest vacancy category was pure physical labor, in need of 51,910 workers; and a restaurant assistant or chef could find 17 jobs each on average, according to a report released Monday by the municipal Bureau of Human Resources and Social Securities. "The government's planning to attract more professionals for its fast economic development," said Liu Xiaojun, the director of the job center at the city's human resources bureau. "As to less demanding jobs, we'll leave it to the market to handle." Liu said that given the capital's high cost of living and general low pay, it makes sense a worker would choose smaller cities. He felt the market could handle the worker drought. ^ top ^

Beijing official unaware of any move to resurrect security bill (SCMP)
A senior Beijing official in Hong Kong said he was unaware of any plans to revive national security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law, amid intensifying speculation that the issue is about to reappear. But Hao Tiechuan, director general of the department of publicity, cultural and sports affairs at the central government's liaison office, said while the news media should monitor government, priority should be given during social unrest to helping authorities resolve crises.

Speaking at a lunch meeting of the Hong Kong Journalists Association - an ice-breaking event and the first time a senior Beijing official had been invited as a guest - Hao was asked to comment on speculation that attempts to enact a security law would soon be revived. "I note there were newspaper reports about the national security legislation but I personally have not given a thought to this issue," he said. When pressed again, Hao said: "Both you and I learn from newspaper reports about discussion and speculation on legislative work to enact Article 23. Apart from that, I haven't had other information." This was the first time any official from the central or Hong Kong government had commented on the topic. Recently, intensifying rumours have suggested that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is under pressure to revive the controversial bill, shelved in 2003 after half a million people protested against it. ^ top ^



University rankings Source (Global Times)
Shanghai Jiaotong University released its annual Academic Ranking of World Universities Sunday. Harvard University topped the list for the eighth straight time, while US universities occupy 54 places among the top 100. The Chinese mainland has 22 universities in the top 500. It is the first time that Peking University and Tsinghua University both have appeared in the top 200 at the same time, with Tsinghua ranked at 191 and Peking at 199. Three teachers and a group of graduate students from Shanghai Jiaotong spent several months working on the evaluation process for the ranking. ^ top ^



CPC official urges democratic management of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries (Global Times)
A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has urged greater efforts to implement democratic management in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. Concerted and solid efforts must be paid to implement democratic management in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, said the official, Du Qinglin, head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee. Du, also vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks during a conference on democratic management of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries which was held in Xigaze of Tibet Autonomous Region from Aug. 14 to 15. Competent Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns who are politically reliable, extraordinarily learned and widely respected should be selected to monastery management committees through thorough democratic consultation, said he, in implementing monastery democratic management, the lawful rights of monasteries, orderly religious activities of monks and nuns, and normal religious practice of believers must be ensured, he added. The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, who is also vice president of the Buddhist Association of China, sent a congratulatory letter to the conference.

The conference was attended by some 150 people from Tibetan Buddhist circles and relative governmental organizations. ^ top ^



Seven killed in Xinjiang bomb attack (SCMP)
A bomb attack in Xinjiang targeting a policeman and security guards killed seven people and wounded 14 yesterday. A group of 15 security guards led by an auxiliary police officer was attacked at about 10.30am on the outskirts of Aksu in southwestern Xinjiang, the Aksu prefectural government's website said. It said the suspected attacker, a Uygur man, had ridden a three-wheeled motorcycle into the security officers, who were patrolling in uniform, and civilian passers-by and detonated the explosive device. The suspect, who was also injured, was caught by police at the site of the blast, in Yiganqi township. Five people were killed instantly, and two others died later in hospital. Xinjiang government spokeswoman Hou Hanmin said at least four people were seriously injured; most of the injured were civilians. The prefectural government said an investigation was under way, on the regional government's orders. Xinhua said in a brief dispatch that an electric tricycle had blown up on a bridge on the outskirts of the city. Witnesses said the suspected attackers were a man and a woman. The woman died in the blast, the news agency reported. Hou dismissed speculation that martial law had been declared in Aksu: "As far as I know, local authorities have stepped up security, and police have sealed off the area of the explosion, but that is not martial law." The blast was the first deadly attack since Zhang Chunxian became the restive region's Communist Party boss in April. The bomber struck in the middle of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and less than two weeks ahead of the region's biggest annual trade fair, which opens on September 1. Although the soft-spoken Zhang appears to care more about boosting the impoverished region's economy, analysts and Xinjiang residents said he had stuck to Beijing's hard-line attitude on security matters. For locals, the blast was a bitter reminder of bombings and ethnic violence in the past two years, including ethnic rioting in the regional capital, Urumqi, last year. Analysts say Aksu city, the capital of Aksu prefecture, nearly 1,000 kilometres from Urumqi, has become a hotbed of violence and terrorist attacks. ^ top ^

Police detain suspect after blast kills 7 in Xinjiang (SCMP)
A member of China's restive Uygur minority killed seven people on Thursday in an explosion in far western Xinjiang, an official said, a region which has long been the scene of ethnic tension and occasional violence. Police arrested a Uygur suspect who drove a three-wheeled vehicle into a crowd in a town near the southern Xinjiang city of Aksu, Xinjiang government spokeswoman Hou Hanmin told a news conference in the regional capital, Urumqi. Hou said evidence indicated the blast was intentional. She did not say what the motive for the attack may be. Chinese cities are occasionally hit by small explosions carried out by people with personal grievances, such as disputes over medical treatment or failed relationships. ^ top ^



China's top legislature to discuss HK's constitutional reform package (Global Times)
China's top legislature will discuss the constitutional reform package of Hong Kong, which refers to the amendments to the methods of selecting the city's Chief Executive and forming the Legislative Council in 2012, during a bimonthly session scheduled from Aug. 23 to 28. The draft amendments to Annexes I to the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region concerning the methods for the selection of the Chief Executive was submitted to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for approval by Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang. The draft amendments to Annexes II concerning the formation of the city's Legislative Council was submitted to the NPC Standing Committee for the record. The Legislative Council of Hong Kong passed the draft amendments in June, before Donald Tsang gave his consent to draft amendments later in the month. According to Monday's Chairmen's Council of the NPC Standing Committee, presided over by NPC Standing Committee Chairman Wu Bangguo, lawmakers will also continue to deliberate draft amendments to the law on officers in reserve service, the draft law on mediation, as well as the draft law on the application of laws to civil relationships involving foreign interests. Lawmakers will also deliberate for the first time draft amendments to the law of deputies to the NPC and local People's Congresses, draft amendments to the Criminal Law, the draft law on intangible cultural heritages, and the draft revision of the soil and water conservation law. Also on the agenda of the upcoming session are discussions of the reports on implementation of the national economic and social development plan and budgets, among others. ^ top ^



Beijing backs individual travel to Taiwan but needs time to prepare (SCMP)
Beijing supports individual tourist travel to Taiwan, but wants time to prepare for possible large tourist flows, a senior mainland official said yesterday. "We are positive about allowing individual mainland tourists to travel to Taiwan, but a lot of work must be done before that," said Shao Qiwei, president of the Cross-Strait Tourism Exchange Association. He said no timetable was in place for the policy change, although Taiwanese authorities said in July they were considering lifting the ban by the end of the year. The two sides would have to amend the travel agreement signed in June 2008 as it covered only package tours, Shao said. Additional research on individual travel procedures would also be necessary, after which the mainland would start a trial run in some cities where people had higher incomes. ^ top ^



Trade with ASEAN needs yuan (Global Times)
China's trade to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) might be affected if the yuan continues to appreciate, an economist said Sunday at a forum in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. "This year, ASEAN is likely to surpass Japan to become China's third largest trading partner," Xu Ningning, executive secretary general of the China-ASEAN Business Council, told the Global Times. "If the yuan continues its revaluation, the trade to those countries will be affected." In March, China's trade deficit with ASEAN was up by $2.7 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce. In the first five months of the year, the bilateral trade volume between China and ASEAN reached $52.7 billion, including $6.4 billion of China's trade deficit, which jumped from $1.09 billion compared with a year earlier. According to data from the US-China Business Council, Sino-US trade reached the peak of $409.2 billion in 2008. The figure plummeted to $366 billion in 2009, dropping by 10.6 percent, mostly due to yuan revaluation, according to analysts. In June, the People's Bank of China (PBC), the central bank, added flexibility to the exchange rate and ensured that the yuan would appreciate gradually by 2 to 5 percent a year. The International Monetary Fund said last month that a stronger yuan would help achieve China's goal of reducing dependence on exports and making its economy more self-reliant. [...] The yuan has gained 22 percent againnst the dollar since July 2005. [...] Last year China's fooreign reserves jumped $453 billion, or nearly a quarter, to become the world largest of $2.4 trillion amid the global financial crisis, according to the PBC. ^ top ^

China No. 2 in Q2 GDP (Global Times)
China's economy in the second quarter overwhelmingly outperformed that of Japan, fueling a long-time expectation that China will unseat Japan as the world's second-largest economy by the end of this year, behind only the United States. Japan's second-quarter GDP totaled nearly $1.29 trillion, the Japanese Cabinet Office announced Monday, lower than China's $1.34 trillion in the same period, which was announced in July. GDP expansion slowed to just 0.4 percent in the three months ended in June, well below a median market forecast of 2.3 percent, after a revised 4.4 percent growth in the first three months of the year, the Cabinet Office said. By comparison, official data showed that China's economy achieved a growth rate of 10.3 percent in the second quarter. [...] But China moving into the second sppot is dubbed a "symbolic" milestone, as many analysts say it is per capita calculations that matter most. The gap in terms of per capita income between China and developed nations, including the US and Japan, remains considerable, as China's per capita GDP of less than $4,000 a year is just a tenth of the latter two, economists said. Japan's citizens are among the world's richest, with a per capita income of $37,800 last year, compared with China's $3,600, the AP reports. US citizens boast a per capita income of $42,240. [...] In the wake of the Jaapanese government's announcement, Chinese experts reiterated calls that China deserves a bigger say in international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, given the contributions it has made and the growing role it plays. [...] Given China's rapid eeconomic growth following the global financial crisis, some warned that China's economy may slow if its real estate sector collapses, just as Japan's did two decades ago. Wang, with US said the risk is there, but China is able to avoid such a collapse by learning from Japan's mistakes. Japan has retained the No. 2 spot on the GDP list since 1968, when it overtook West Germany, the AP reported, adding that its "economic miracle" turned into a huge real estate bubble in the 1980s before imploding in 1991. [...]. ^ top ^

Trade office to take on protectionism (Global Times)
After almost two years of rising trade frictions, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has established its first international trade representative office, which is responsible for negotiations and coordination of domestic positions. Appointed by the State Council, Gao Hucheng will be international trade representative for the office, Zhong Shan and Chong Quan will be deputy representatives, said MOFCOM Monday in a statement. Gao and Zhong are both deputy ministers of commerce. Mei Xinyu, a researcher with the MOFCOM-run Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC), told the Global Times that MOFCOM has had international trade representatives before 2005. Back then representatives functioned as coordinators and were not able to coordinate opinions of different agencies. "The overwhelming varieties of goods and services involved in international trade make it hard for international representatives to function. Take market access to financing services for example. Representatives should coordinate between the People's Bank of China, China Banking Regulatory Commission, China Securities Regulatory Commission and China Insurance Regulatory Commission," said Mei. A good way to delegate functions between representatives and other departments was not found, said Mei. Mei added that if the new office can smooth out these problems, it would have accomplished its goal. Li Jian, another researcher with the CAITEC, said that the setup of the office might be related to increasing trade frictions China is facing after the financial crisis has led to rising protectionism across the world. As the competition between exports from China and other countries grows fiercer, China has become hard-hit by trade protectionism, [...]. Zhong said China needs to accelerate restructuring. The restructuring needs stable currency policies, tax rebates and an expansion of yuan trade settlement and the currency's role in global markets, Zhong said. ^ top ^

New think-tank to focus on Africa (People's Daily Online)
The Ministry of Commerce on Monday launched the China-Africa Research Center, a think-tank focused on the economies of the two regions, to further bolster trade relations with Africa. The think-tank has been set up under the auspices of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a subsidiary of the ministry. The new unit will utilize ministry resources and discuss and deliberate on key economic issues about African nations. It will also provide the government with theoretical clues on future policies for Sino-Africa economic and trade ties and help Chinese companies planning ventures in Africa with consultancy services," said Fu Ziying, vice-minister of commerce. Huo Jianguo, director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said in the next three to five years, the center may become the most important think-tank in the nation providing economic and trade policy solutions." China's outbound investment in Africa has gained strong momentum recently, especially in sectors like manufacturing, finance, mining and agriculture. But very few know much about African nations and rarely possess global vision and strategic thinking. This often leaves a bottleneck in bolstering China-Africa economic relations, said Fu. In 2000, China-Africa trade surpassed $10 billion, and during 2002-2008 period, bilateral trade kept growing by 33 percent every year. Although the figure declined in 2009 due to the financial crisis, China-Africa trade is expected to inch up to above $110 billion this year and likely to grow by around 20 percent in the next three to five years, said Huo. Given the good prospects for bilateral trade, the establishment of the center comes at the right time, and will strengthen economic and trade relations," said Huo. At present, there are very few offices under national academic institutes that study African economic issues. [...] Thanks to its growing consumer market and rrich natural resources, Africa is becoming an investment hotspot for developing and developed nations including the United States and European Union. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the world's foreign direct investment in 2009 dropped by almost 40 percent, but the FDI flowing into Africa fell by only 19 percent. [...] By the end of 2008, China's investment in Africa reached $26 billion, with most of the funds flowing to nations like South Africa, Sudan, Zambia, and Algeria. In 2009, China's investment in Africa was $1.36 billion, up by 37 percent and accounted for 4 percent of the nation's total outbound investment last year. [...]. ^ top ^

Cabinet moves to prevent "serious" vegetable supply problem (Xinhua)
China's central government has ordered the expansion of vegetable production, with increased funding and rail links, in a move to stop an "increasingly serious" food supply situation in some major cities. The State Council, China's Cabinet, at a meeting Wednesday agreed to take measures covering the entire process of vegetable planting, storage, transport, distribution, marketing, quality monitoring and consumption. It ordered local governments to stabilize and expand vegetable farms in the suburbs of large cities, with minimum planting areas, and to set up vegetable reserves to meet demand for five to seven days in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai. In a statement issued after an executive meeting, the State Council pledged more funds and preferential policies to support the construction of major vegetable production bases across the country. Banks and other financial institutions were encouraged to step up lending to vegetable production firms and individuals. [...] City mayors were to assume responsiibility for the so-called "vegetable basket project" to ease pressures on the supply of vegetables and foodstuffs. The Ministry of Agriculture initiated the "vegetable basket project" in 1988 in a bid to improve production and marketing of vegetables and foodstuffs. Under the project, about 4,000 wholesale agricultural produce markets were established across the country. [...] "On one hand, it is difficult for farmers to sell their vegetables; on the other hand, urban residents have to endure expensive vegetables," the statement said. "This coexisting contradiction has become increasingly serious." The statement said, "We will strengthen the government's macro control over the vegetable market and give full play to the market mechanism to increase vegetable supplies." Boosted by rising food prices after widespread floods, China's consumer price index, one of the main gauges of inflation, rose to 3.3 percent year on year in July, its highest level since October 2008. [...] Food prices, which account for about a thhird of the weighting in calculating the CPI, climbed 6.8 percent in July, compared with June's increase of 5.7 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in its monthly report last week. Because of severe floods across China, vegetable prices surged 22.3 percent in July from a year earlier, grain prices were up 11.8 percent while poultry product prices rose 4.1 percent, said the report. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

DPRK military warns of mercilessly reaction to US, South Korea 'provocation' (Global Times)
The military of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Sunday warned the US and South Korea that the DPRK would beat back mercilessly their "repeated provocation", the official news agency KCNA reported. According to the KCNA, a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People's Army Sunday released a statement to accuse the joint naval exercises named Ulji Freedom Guardian to be staged by the US and S. Korea of leading to an "all-out war". The military exercises including the Ulji Freedom Guardian joint exercises "represent the phase of practical actions aimed at a full-dressed military aggression", the spokesman said. The army and people of the DPRK would never be "taken aback by the reckless war provocations of the bellicose forces", and would "deal a merciless counterblow" to the US and South Korea. The military counteraction of the DPRK would be the "severest punishment no one has ever met in the world", the spokesman stressed. The Obama Administration should "cool its head heated with the moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK" in the statement. Meanwhile, South Korea would clearly understand sooner or later what a miserable fate it would meet, the spokesman added. The Ulji Freedom Guardian war game is to be held from August 16 to 26, with the participation of more than 30,000 US soldiers and 56,000 South Korean soldiers. ^ top ^



One dies as herders and ninjas clash in Gobi-Altai (
One man was killed and more than 20 people were injured in Wednesday's clashes between herders and ninja miners in Darvi soum in Gobi-Altai. Both sides used fire arms. The herders were resisting the efforts of around 100 miners to dig for gold in pasture land. The clashes lasted for more than an hour. The soum administration had earlier warned the ninjas to stay away but they started digging near Elstiin Valley and enraged the herders. The provincial police have arrested 30 people and are investigating the events. J.Bayarkhuu, a citizen of the soum, said telecommunication in the area had broken down and people could not speak to the provincial authorities when the trouble broke out. He says he was in Biger soum when he heard that a group of ninjas had begun digging for gold in Elstiin Valley. Local herders protested but they were outnumbered and finally one of them opened fire, hitting a 30-year-old ninja in the head. He had heard that some of those taken to hospital had been seriously injured but some others had been released after first aid. He hoped calm would prevail. Herders are concerned at the loss to pasture land but the ninjas refuse to listen to reason. The clash and the death would not have taken place if they had heeded warnings. They were heard shouting, “What else can we do? If we don't dig we die of hunger.”. ^ top ^

Russia places agreement on jv in uranium with Mongolia before Parliament (
The Russian Government has placed before the lower house of the Russian Parliament, the State Duma, an intergovernmental agreement with Mongolia on setting up joint uranium mining company with limited liability Dornod Uran. The agreement was signed by the head of the Russian State corporation, Rosatom, Sergei Kirienko and the head of the Atomic Energy Authority of Mongolia, S. Enkhbat on August 25, 2009 in Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia has never sealed deals in uranium with other countries. The product output of the Russian-Mongolian uranium mining joint venture is planned at 2,000 tons per year. The equality founders of mining venture are Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ) on the Russian side and MonAtom LLC on the Mongolian side. ^ top ^


Sébastien Gillioz
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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