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
  13-17.9.2010, No. 337  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

Chinese embassy officials visit fishermen illegally detained by Japan (Global Times)
Officials from the Chinese Embassy in Japan have visited the Chinese fishermen illegally detained by the Japanese authorities last week in the East China Sea. […] Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and other senior diplomats have for several times lodged solemn representations with the Japanese side and protested the detention of the Chinese fishermen, they said. Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo summoned Japanese ambassador Uichiro Niwa early Sunday morning and demanded the immediate release of the Chinese fishermen and their boat. Dai urged Japan to avoid any misjudgment of the situation and to make a "wise political resolution." Dai was the highest-ranking Chinese official to make a public response after the fishing boat and its crew were seized. The Chinese embassy officials learned in detail the crew members' physical and mental conditions, bought food, fresh water and medicines for them, and contacted their families. […] The Chinese Embassy in Tokyo is continuing to make representations with the Japanese authorities, demanding the immediate and unconditional release of the crew members and their boat. ^ top ^

First Chinese female judge sworn in at ICJ (Xinhua)
Xue Hanqin was sworn in Monday as a judge of the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), becoming the first Chinese woman to get the job. Another female judge, Joan E. Donoghue from the United States, assumed office together with Xue. "It is the first time in the court's history that two female judges will serve simultaneously," the ICJ said in a statement. Almost all ICJ judges had been male with only one exception -- British Dame Rosalyn Higgins, who served on the court from 1995 to 2009. Xue, a veteran Chinese diplomat and an expert of international law, was elected to the ICJ with all 15 votes in the Security Council and a majority of votes in the UN General Assembly in June. She is the third Chinese judge in the Court. "More and more women take active part in the major international justice organizations, which marks the improvement of civilization," Xue told Xinhua. Xue is no stranger to the Dutch city. She used to serve as Chinese ambassador in The Hague. "What is remarkable about the two new judges is not just that they will bring down the average age of the members of the ICJ," Dr. Olivier Ribbelink, senior researcher at T.M.C. Asser Institute commented, "but also, strangely enough, that they are women." "Although it may be too early to say, perhaps their nomination forebodes a new attitude towards the ICJ and international law," Ribbelink added. […]. ^ top ^

Public diplomacy gains ground (Global Times)
Despite having several decades of history, New China's public diplomacy still lags behind many other countries, affecting its international image and soft power, senior diplomats said at a forum at the weekend. "We have made much progress in negotiating with foreign governments, congressmen, and military officers, but lack experience in dealing with the public and media agencies," Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said at the forum on public diplomacy held at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU). The international view of China often swings between overestimation and underestimation, either warning of the "China threat" in the face of Chinese achievements, or "China collapse" when any problems arise. In addition to limited numbers of cultural exports and disagreements over ideology, the backwardness of China's public diplomacy is another major reason for this situation, Fu noted. The history of New China's public diplomacy dates back to 1935, 14 years before the CPC took power. Mao Zedong, the top leader of the Party, invited two foreigners, including one American journalist, to Shaanxi in order to introduce the CPC and its army to the world. However, the act didn't lead to a tradition of public diplomacy. The current leadership has come to realize the importance of this kind of work. President Hu Jintao said in July last year that public diplomacy would be a focus of all foreign affairs in the future, raising it to national strategic level for the first time. […] Zhao Qizheng, head of the foreign affairs committee in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, believes that public diplomacy covers all activities expect for government-to-government diplomacy, and that non-governmental agencies and the public should play a bigger role in the future. Zhao hailed the establishment of a public diplomacy center at BFSU on August 26, the first think tank that addresses the field in China, suggesting the university train more professionals in translation, and especially political wording. […] Fu said Chinese officials and enterprises are always either awkward or slow when dealing with the media. Some enterprises sometimes take years to clear up allegations by foreign media of being spies or having Chinese military backgrounds. She suggested that special and systemic training in this field is vital. […] "We want to know about the tremendous changes happening in China, such as why it only takes China decades to complete a job that other countries have spent centuries doing," Johan Galtung, a Norwegian scholar of conflict and peace, said at the forum. ^ top ^

Beijing ups rhetoric over islands clash (SCMP)
[…] After postponing planned talks with Tokyo on joint energy exploration in the East China Sea, where the Chinese trawler collided with two Japanese coastguard vessels, Beijing scrapped a trip to Japan by a senior lawmaker in protest. Japan called the situation "extremely regrettable" but China went a step farther, placing the blame squarely on Tokyo and demanding that the arrested skipper, facing up to three years in jail, be freed without delay. "Japan provoked this serious situation and Japan should take all responsibility," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said, adding it was imperative that the captain be released immediately and safely. […] "The Chinese public has expressed its strong indignation over Japan's illegal detention of the Chinese fishing boat," Jiang said. "This fully embodies the Chinese people's firm determination and resolve to defend China's territory and sovereignty." The uninhabited islands - called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China - lie in an area with rich fishing grounds that is believed to contain energy deposits, and which has been a frequent focus of regional tensions. […] Referring to the cancellation of the Chinese lawmaker's visit, Japan's top government spokesman Yoshito Sengoku said: "If that is so, it is extremely regrettable. In times like these, lawmakers from both countries should be able to talk frankly." […] China's state-controlled Global Times said yesterday in an editorial: "It will be the last straw for Beijing if Japan insists on trying the Chinese captain for his fishing operation off the Diaoyu Islands, in the East China Sea. Japan may not have realised how much it has to lose due to its actions." […] Many Chinese see the dispute in light of the wartime history of imperial Japan in Asia before and during the second world war. A Taiwanese boat carrying anti-Japanese protesters which had set sail on Monday for the rocky outcrops in the East China Sea was forced to turn back yesterday by a Japanese patrol boats, activists and officials said. […] "Although we were escorted by vessels from Taiwan's coastguard, they were not able to match Japan's coastguards," the association said on its website. The Foreign Ministry's Jiang confirmed that a Japanese school in Tianjin had been hit by stones on Sunday, but pledged that China would protect the safety of foreign organisations and people in China. […] In Taipei, about 80 protesters gathered around the de facto Japanese embassy yesterday, pelting the building with raw fish. Police held the crowd at the bay and there was no violence. ^ top ^

Beware in China, Japan warns citizens (SCMP)
Japan has warned its nationals in China to take precautions ahead of likely anti-Japanese protests this weekend, when a sensitive anniversary will be followed by an expected announcement on whether Japan will prosecute a Chinese trawler captain seized in disputed waters.With the diplomatic spat between the two Asian powers showing no sign of easing, Washington yesterday called for dialogue between Beijing and Tokyo.(…) The latest dispute between the Asian powers flared up after a trawler from Fujian province collided with two Japanese patrol boats last week in waters off the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Tokyo has since detained the captain, Zhan Qixiong, and warned that it could prosecute him under Japanese laws, prompting repeated protests from Beijing.(…) "Washington is concerned that if the situation gets worse, it would be caught in a difficult situation," said Jin Canrong, associate dean with the school of international studies at Renmin University. "It would have to side with Japan because they are allies, but then it wouldn't want to complicate its relations with China, which is an increasingly important partner in regional and international affairs.” Jin said if Zhan was prosecuted by Japan, the worst-case scenario would see China send naval vessels to the disputed waters. Beijing has filed almost a dozen representations over the incident and has summoned the Japanese ambassador five times. The Foreign Ministry said on its website that assistant foreign minister Liu Zhenmin had summoned Japanese ambassador Uichiro Niwa on Tuesday and demanded the immediate release of the Chinese captain. Both Jiji and Kyodo news agencies, citing Japanese government sources, said that Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Premier Wen Jiabao would likely avoid direct talks at a UN General Assembly summit this month. Beijing has also postponed talks on gas field co-operation in the East China Sea and a planned visit by a National People's Congress delegation to Japan.Zhan's arrest has stirred a fresh wave of anti-Japanese sentiment in China, prompting the warning from the Japanese embassy in Beijing. In a notice posted on the embassy's website yesterday afternoon, Japanese nationals living and travelling in China were told to watch out when in crowded public areas. They were also urged to be careful when speaking to Chinese nationals so as not to upset them. An official from the embassy said the warning was issued in view of potential risk to Japanese nationals. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy says Premier Wen's UN visit shows China's full support to UN (Global Times)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao 's upcoming UN visit shows China's full support to the world body as well as the country's firm commitment to tackle global threats and challenges, said Chinese UN ambassador in New York Wednesday. "This has been Premier Wen's second visit to the United Nations since 2008 and the third consecutive year that top Chinese leaders attend UN conferences," Li Baodong, permanent representative of Chinese mission to the UN, told reporters at the residence of the mission. Calling the upcoming visit "an all-around, multi-level diplomatic event," Li said it fully embodies the great importance China has attached to the multi-lateral diplomacy and its firm support to the United Nations. Besides, the visit will help to build the confidence of the international community to address the unexpected global threats including the issues of traditional and non-traditional security, imbalance on development and the not-yet-stable recovery situation of world economy, Li said.(…) Wen's UN trip, slated for Sept. 21 to 23, includes a UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the general debate of the 65th session of the UN General Assembly. During his whirlwind stay in New York, Wen would also meet with US President Barack Obama, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and attend a meeting of leaders from the UN Security Council member states, a discussion panel on the MDG and HIV/AIDS.

Li said Wen's visit will also help to enhance UN's role on international affairs. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. Though facing with various new problems and challenges, the United Nations has remained to be the most universal, representative and authoritative inter-governmental organization; the UN Charter has remained to be the foundation of international law and order and the expectations of the international community of the UN has not changed, Li said."Premier Wen's visit will further promote UN's core role in the process of implementing multilateralism and make the world body become an envoy of safeguarding world peace as well as a drive to boost common prosperity," Li said. ^ top ^

Chinese kidnapped in Chad (Global Times)
Joint Sudanese-Chadian forces were searching along the border Wednesday for a Chinese worker kidnapped in Chad, the Sudanese army and a Chinese diplomat said. Citing Yang Guangyu, China's ambassador to Chad, the Xinhua News Agency reported that a worker from the Chinese construction company CGCOC was kidnapped while he was on his way to a construction site in Iriba, in northern Chad, close to the boarder with Sudan. "The CGCOC lost contact with the worker in June. At first they thought it was a dead mobile signal, but later they confirmed the worker was kidnapped," Yang told the agency, adding that the Chinese embassy to Chad is working closely with Chadian authorities to free the worker. According to Reuters, another Chinese diplomat in N'Djamena confirmed that there were attempts by the Chadian army to rescue the hostage. "We are waiting for the results of the search to determine exactly where he (the hostage) is," al-Sawarmi Khaled, Sudan's army spokesman, told Reuters.(…) There had been at least 10 abductions of foreign workers for ransom since March 2009. All have been released safely. In October, the Justice and Equality Movement, a Sudanese rebel group, kidnapped nine Chinese nationals working for the China National Petroleum Corporation. Five of the hostages died in the ensuing rescue operation. In March, the Sudanese government executed two kidnappers who were responsible for the death of two Chinese hostages in 2004.(…). ^ top ^

China on guard for anti-Japan protests (SCMP)
Chinese authorities sought on Friday to forestall anti-Japanese protests ahead of a sensitive political anniversary, blocking the websites of Chinese nationalist groups and erasing discussion of organising demonstrations from the internet. Ever-present anti-Japanese sentiment in China has been inflamed in recent weeks by Japan's arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain after his boat collided with two Japanese fishing vessels in waters near an island group north of Taiwan that is claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing.China has demanded the release of the captain. The Chinese boat was also seized. On Friday, the website of the China Federation for Defending Diaoyutai was offline, and messages about organising protests over the incident were scrubbed from internet bulletin boards. Diaoyutai is the Chinese name for the disputed islands, referred to by Japan as Senkaku. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

'Direct line' to top leaders opens (Global Times)
Internet users swarmed a message board on in the past week after the website promised to pass their messages to the country's top leadership. The official website of People's Daily launched the message board, whose title translates as "Direct Line to Zhongnanhai," on the CPC's News channel Wednesday to provide an opportunity for Internet users to offer suggestions to departments under the CPC Central Committee (CPCCC) as well as its senior officials, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. […] China has the largest number of Internet users in the world, reaching 420 million by June. The message board is seen as a new move by official media to bring the government and Party closer to the public. More than 16,000 messages were left for President Hu within four days of its opening, and Premier Wen's page also received some 11,000 comments as of 6 pm Sunday. A large portion of the messages concerned hot social topics, including ballooning housing prices, the anti-corruption campaign and political reform. […] "The message board has created a platform to develop the public's civic awareness by en-couraging discussions of state affairs," said Lin Zhe, a professor of anti-corruption research at the Party School of the CPCCC. "It is putting into practice Wen's words from this year's Government Work Report, which said that the country should pave the way for the public to criticize and monitor the government," said Lin, adding the new channel would help ease social tensions. […] However, some scholars suspect this new message board is just a superficial gesture rather than an effective channel for reporting problems. […] The editors of the message board could not be reached for comment Sunday, and an outline of the board did not give any details on how it would report the thousands of messages to top leaders. […]. ^ top ^

Concern over birth defect rates (Global Times)
China continues to have one of the highest rates of babies born with defects in the world, with one report saying a baby is born with a defect every 30 seconds. Following the fifth national Birth Defect Prevention Day on Sunday, the People's Daily reported Monday that 800,000 to 1.2 million babies are born with defects every year in China, accounting for 20 percent of the world's total. According to the report, nearly 30 million families in China have had at least one child born with a defect, accounting for 10 percent of the total number of households in the country. Zheng Xiaoying, head of the institute of population research at Peking University, said that the most common birth defects in China include neural tube defects, congenital heart disease and cleft lip. "[…] This is because the bodies of their mothers lacked folic acid during pregnancy," Zheng said, adding that one in three women in China who reach the age when they can conceive do not have enough folic acid in their bodies. Research shows that in backward regions in Lüliang, Shanxi Province, the rate of occurrence of neural tube defects was 20 times higher than the worldwide average. In northern regions of Shanxi, people seldom eat fresh vegetables in winter, instead opting for potatoes and Chinese cabbages that have been stored for some time and are lacking in folic acid. According to the report, among babies born with defects every year, only 20 to 30 percent go on to live a healthy life after receiving treatment, while 30 to 40 percent die soon after birth and another 40 percent suffer from lifelong disabilities. Some babies with defects are unable to receive treatment on a timely basis due to prohibitively high medical costs. […] Jiang Fan, deputy director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission of China, said in the report that every year, fees for treating babies with birth defects and maintaining basic living standards for them indirectly lead to several hundred billion yuan in economic losses for the country. Zhao Wenqiu, a physician at the department of gynecology at Peking University Third Hospital, said the situation in rural areas, especially backward parts, was more serious. "People in these areas have no concept of doing checks before, during or after pregnancy, and even if they did, local hospitals may not have these services," Zhao said to the Global Times. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier urges officials to better handle ethnic work (Global Times)
Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu said Monday that government officials must "urgently" improve their abilities to strengthen ethnic unity and boost the development of ethnic regions.

Hui made the remarks Monday at a seminar for officials at province and ministry levels on ethnic work. "After years of efforts, the country's minority groups and ethnic regions have experienced world-shaking changes. The living standards of various ethnic groups have improved greatly," Hui said. However, Hui said, many problems still existed that prevented minority groups and ethnic regions from achieving faster development. He said ethnic issues were having a wider influence on the whole of society, and the factors that affected ethnic relations had become more complicated. Hui urged government officials to carefully study the basic knowledge related to ethnic problems and deeply understand the country's ethnic policies. In addition, he called for more efforts to support improvised ethnic areas while strengthening protection of the rights of migrant people of minority groups in urban areas. ^ top ^

Strident call for political reform (SCMP)
[…] In yet another sign that party reformists have started a fresh round of the old debate about whether it's time for the mainland to push its three-decade reform programme to a deeper, more political level, the Study Times - the weekly newspaper run by the influential Central Party School - carried a front-page article this week stressing the necessity of political reform for the country's lasting economic success. The article, with the headline, "Political Reform is What People Want", echoed Premier Wen Jiabao's bold call last month for the country's political system to be liberalised and more rights granted to its people. "Among all reforms, political reform is of critical importance and marks the decisive step along the road," the article, written by Central Party School scholar Hou Shaowen, said. "The country will have a bright future if we succeed in pushing political reform... otherwise, the fruits of economic reform will be lost and the goal of modernisation cannot be achieved. Going against the people's will would lead the reform to fail." The article is being seen as another round of the political discussion stirred up by Wen's eyebrow-raising speech in Shenzhen last month. It sides firmly with the premier, saying that only political reform can save the country from problems ranging from an overconcentration of power to grave social inequalities. Wen's remarks were played down by mainstream state media in what was seen as an effort by party conservatives to contain his influence, but were relished by party reformists and liberal publications. The Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily and the Beijing-based Caixin magazine backed Wen. […] The liberal voice from the respected Study Times therefore heartened Bao Tong, who was director of the political reform bureau before he was ousted with party leader Zhao Ziyang in 1989, when the student-led Tiananmen pro-democracy movement was crushed. […] "Although this is just one lonely voice, this is a very good thing," Bao said. "This indicates that Premier Wen's remarks have resonated among scholars." But Bao said he was frustrated that the party's commitment to political reform had not progressed beyond talk. At every National People's Congress, top leaders paid lip service to political reform without the resolve to make real changes, he said. Hu Xingdou, a political science professor at Beijing University of Science and Technology, said: "There are people within the party who recognise the need for political reform but we lack people who have the courage to push forward the plans. They have their hands tied because of their worries over stability. But the more they try to rein it in, the more unstable things tend to become.". ^ top ^

Foxconn option for Henan's migrating millions (SCMP)
[…] In June, top Henan officials led a team to Foxconn's main Shenzhen plant to negotiate the transfer deal. In July, Hon Hai, Foxconn's parent, finalised plans for a new factory in Zhengzhou, costing about 2 billion yuan (HK$2.3 billion). On August 2, Foxconn's first production line, employing 2,000 workers, started operation in Zhengzhou. Foxconn now wants to recruit 100,000 people in Henan by year's end - and a total of 300,000 in the next few years. Henan officials point to their success in luring Foxconn, the world's biggest electronics contractor, as a great example of Beijing's plan to move labour-intensive factories away from polluted and crowded coastal areas to the vast interior, allowing more developed areas to move higher up the value chain with more capital-intensive industries. "Exports have been always weak because we lacked export-oriented manufacturers," says Henan party secretary Lu Zhangong. "Now, Foxconn alone will double Henan's export value next year. Let others follow. Foxconn will also help create half a million new jobs here. That means many Henan natives can work close to their homes and never need to migrate." […] Lu expects thousands of other companies, including suppliers and logistics service providers, will follow Foxconn to Henan as labour shortages, soaring wages and land prices make the Pearl River Delta less attractive. […] Industry observers and the media say Henan offered Foxconn free land, export rebates and subsidies. […] A senior human resources manager at Foxconn said the massive response to the recruitment drive suggested that people in Henan were not worried about the spate of suicides at Foxconn's Shenzhen plants this year, blamed by some on stress induced by the company's management style. Despite earlier reports that basic salaries in Zhengzhou would match the 1,200 a month paid to workers at Foxconn's Shenzhen factories, Foxconn plans to pay its Zhengzhou workers a basic salary of 850 yuan a month. Their monthly income will range from 1,600 yuan to 1,800 yuan, about 600 yuan less than their counterparts in coastal provinces but higher than at Zhengzhou factories. "Everyone is talking about quitting and joining Foxconn," said Zhang Ping, a worker at a textile plant. "Foxconn's offer is not that attractive in Zhengzhou. But Henan is a labour market with 100 million people. A farmer usually earns a few hundred yuan a month." Many other inland cities are also looking to Foxconn to boost exports and their economies. The company is reportedly planning to invest billions in a new base in Chengdu, Sichuan, where another 100,000 people will be hired. Foxconn chairman Terry Gou says he has plans for several projects near inland cities and is looking for the best deals in terms of policies and services. Not everyone is singing Foxconn's praises. Sociologist Liu Kaiming, at Shenzhen's Institute of Contemporary Observation, said local governments focused only on the economic benefits of hosting the IT giant's activities while ignoring its sweat-shop-style management. […] "I see little change in Foxconn's strict management style and inhumane work environment despite the worker suicides. In Shenzhen, about 6 per cent of its 400,000 workers quit each month, dissatisfied with conditions. I think we can expect the same at its Zhengzhou plant. "Also, Foxconn is the largest exporter in China but its tax contribution to the country lags far behind. It's totally unfair and depressing to see local governments blindly offering Foxconn benefits when it depends on overloaded workers' low pay." According to Guangdong tax authorities, Hongfujin (Shenzhen), Foxconn 's wholly owned subsidiary in Shenzhen, paid 599 million yuan in state and local taxes last year but exported more than US$13 billion worth of goods. In contrast, mainland telecommunications equipment maker Huawei, whose exports were worth about US$12 billion, paid more than 2 billion yuan in tax. […]. ^ top ^

Courts struggling to handle labor disputes (China Daily)
China's courts across the nation are battling to address a growing number of cases involving labor disputes, partly because of the global financial crisis over the past two years, top court officials said on Tuesday. Labor dispute cases have become one of the most difficult and central tasks for Chinese courts, said Sun Jungong, spokesman of the Supreme People's Court (SPC). Statistics from the SPC showed that courts nationwide handled 295,500 labor dispute cases in 2008, a year-on-year increase of 95.3 percent. The figure then jumped to 318,600 in 2009, up by 7.8 percent over the previous year. The number of new labor dispute cases reached 207,400 from January to August this year. The global financial crisis has had a "grave impact on China's economy and its foreign trade in particular," said Sun at a press conference. "A lot of enterprises, especially export companies, are unable to satisfy workers' requirements for higher salaries." China has entered a time when production costs are causing a lot of pressure on businesses, Sun said. "Some enterprises tend to ignore the protection of workers' rights in order to maximize profits and minimize labor costs, with illegal employment and violations of employees' legitimate rights being common," he said. The workers' growing awareness about protecting their own interests and rights has also prompted more of them to resort to lawsuits, the spokesman said. […] About 80 percent of enterprises in China are privately run or foreign owned, employing about 75 percent of the country's total urban workforce, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. ^ top ^

Milestone as organ traffickers jailed for first time on mainland (SCMP)
Seven traffickers in human organs were jailed yesterday by a court in Beijing. It is the first time anyone on the mainland has been punished for a practice often ignored by authorities.

The sentences ranged from two years to seven years eight months. The Haidian District People's Court also fined the traffickers, involved in three different cases, between 50,000 yuan (HK$57,500) and 200,000 yuan. None of the seven expressed an intention to appeal.

According to court records, they were convicted of trafficking one to five organs each, being paid 100,000 to 580,000 yuan by patients' families. Prosecutor Qiu Zhiying from the district procuratorate said the traffickers were charged with "illegal business operations" because the nation's criminal law had no provision for organ trafficking. He said the lack of legislation caused certain difficulties in identifying evidence and determining the nature of the crime.

Qiu told the Beijing Evening News the three trafficking cases were the first of their kind in the country, so there were no precedents to follow. The father of a patient who received a kidney transplant wrote a mitigation letter to the court, saying the organ traffickers were actually saving his child's life when the country lacked a proper organ donation system and had tens of thousands of patients needing organ transplants to survive. State media reported that although about 1.5 million Chinese need organ transplants every year, only about 10,000 organs are donated. Many patients and their families have to turn to organ traffickers for a chance to survive. Qiu admitted he had noticed a huge black market for organs and demand was high. He urged legislators to criminalise organ trades, even though some trades may be agreed by both donors and the receivers. Beijing is considering adding an accusation of "illegally trading human organs" to its criminal law, with a penalty of at least five years' jail. ^ top ^

Government to give greater aid to minority areas: official (Global Times)
China's government is determined to give greater support to the people of the country's ethnic groups and ethnic areas in the 12th Five-Year-Plan period (2011-2015), said Vice Premier Hui Liangyu at a plenum of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission in Beijing Thursday.

Hui, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, urged the delegates to seriously implement the demands and arrangements of the government regarding the economic and social development of ethnic minorities.

In the 11th Five-Year-Plan period (2006-2010), the government launched a series of policies on ethnic minorities and ethnic areas, which had resulted in outstanding economic, social and environmental achievements, Hui said.

He called for the adoption of more substantial policies and measures during the 12th Five-Year-Plan period, so as to achieve coordinated development between ethnic areas and other parts of the country and common prosperity and progress for all Chinese people. Hui highlighted the goal of building a well-off society in ethnic areas. Greater efforts should be made to support border regions, pasturing areas and areas that were densely populated by very poor ethnic people, said Hui, who is a member of the Hui minority. He pledged to step up infrastructure development, deepen industrial restructuring, and accelerate the development of social undertakings in ethnic areas. ^ top ^

Top leaders complete 'tour of China' (Global Times)
China's top leaders have been touring the country during the past two weeks trying to personally learn about the economic and social challenges facing most people, a tradition that usually comes before the plenary sessions of the CPC Central Committee. Starting on September 3, all nine members of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee (CPCCC) Political Bureau, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, have visited nine regions in the coastal, northwest, western and central China.

The intensive investigative trips by senior leaders are considered a preliminary step before the 12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2011-2015) is drawn up. According to agenda for the 5th Plenum of the 17th CPCCC scheduled for next month in Beijing, the Political Bureau will make a work report at the meeting and all participants will discuss proposals for the future plan. The first goal during those trips is to study the feasibility of the Plan's basic framework and whether it matches the reality, some analysts said."Chinese leadership faces many challenges when making policies for the country, which is afflicted with unbalanced development in different regions and in urban and rural areas," said Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance. As China is a unitary state, the central government takes up the role of formulating most major policies. ^ top ^



China's cabinet appoints senior officials (Global Times)
The State Council, China's Cabinet, announced the appointment of several high-level officials in Beijing Wednesday. According to the State Council circular, Wang Yong has been appointed director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC). Zhi Shuping has been appointed director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ). Li Wei has been appointed deputy director of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. An Jian has been appointed deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council. Liu Peizhi has been appointed deputy director of the executive office of the State Council's Food Safety Commission. The State Council ended Lou Qinjian's tenure as Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology. It also ended Lu Xinshe's tenure as Vice Minister of Land and Resources and deputy State Land Inspector-general. The State Council also ended Yi Xiaozhun's tenure as Vice Minister of Commerce and Li Rongrong's tenure as an SASAC director. The State Council also ended Wang Yong's tenure as AQSIQ director and Liu Dongsheng's tenure as chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Key State-owned Large-scale Enterprises with SASAC. ^ top ^



Arnie praises workers for new Bay Bridge (SCMP)
California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed his gratitude with high praise to Shanghai workers yesterday as he visited a factory that is making the central segment of the new San Francisco Bay Bridge. […] The movie star turned politician was swamped by hundreds of workers as they scrambled for a chance to shake his hand during the brief visit. Schwarzenegger was visiting the Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries factory, where a key section of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is being built. Zhenhua is constructing prefabricated steel parts for a 624-metre self-anchored suspension bridge and its 83-metre-high supporting tower - due to become the longest span of its type when completed next year - on the 13.5-kilometre link joining the two cities. […]. ^ top ^



Guangdong Party chief says to expand co-op with Ukraine (Xinhua)
China's Guangdong Province will expand cooperation with Ukraine in economics, trade, technology and culture, its Party chief Wang Yang said here Monday in a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. "Guangdong will make its own contributions to the China-Ukraine annual trade target of 10 billion U.S. dollars by 2012," Wang said, recalling Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich's earlier visit to China. Early in September, Yanukovich held talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, top legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao during his four-day visit. The two sides agreed to boost economic and parliamentary cooperation as well as increase two-way trade to 10 billion U.S. dollars by 2012. "The extensive consensus between top leaders has given a clear direction to the future China-Ukraine ties," Wang said. […] The delegation led by Wang arrived in Ukraine on Saturday at the invitation of the Ukrainian Party of Regions. Azarov, also the Party leader, said the Party of Regions attaches great importance to its cooperation with the Communist Party of China (CPC), hoping to learn from the CPC in governing the country. The CPC would like to develop friendly and cooperative relations with the Ukrainian Party of Regions, Wang said. ^ top ^



Police 'breaking promise' to let news flow freely (SCMP)
The amount of information about crime, accidents and incidents reaching the media has dropped dramatically since police began using a secure radio system, preventing journalists from overhearing their radio traffic, the Hong Kong Journalists Association says. The result is that the media must rely on information supplied by police - as well as other sources - but the association says that the promise of information flow made by the police in 2004 has not been kept. […] According to the association, in 2004 the police promised to pass to the media information on 100 incidents a day. But a survey done by the association showed that the average number passed to the media through the police online system in the second half of last year was only 2.7, or 1.27 per cent of the average number of cases reported to police every day. In fact, the police did not announce any spot news information at all on nine days during the study period. […] Mak Yin-ting, chairwoman of the association, said the police were creating an illusion that the city had no crime. […] Police had also promised to inform the media of incidents within 20 minutes. But the association found that 80 per cent of incidents were not reported within that period. […] Spot news that involved senior government officials, disciplined services officials and celebrities had also been filtered by police, the association said. Mak said the media could not monitor the government if this kind of information was not provided by the police. "Power corrupts. Power with no one to monitor corrupts absolutely," she said. Certain types of crime, like mainland marine police crossing into Hong Kong waters, street swindles and accidents inside buses were removed from the system, she said. Also, information released was too simplified or sometimes misleading, she said. A family killing spree in Yuen Long on July 6 last year was categorised as a request for police assistance, and the media were not informed until four hours after the bodies were discovered. […] A police spokesman said the force respects press freedom and would assist media coverage whenever possible. He said information released complied with rules concerning access to information and the privacy ordinance. Journalists can also follow up on any cases by calling the Police Public Relations Branch, which operates 24 hours a day, he said. […]. ^ top ^



'Mainland threat' fabrication in Taiwan hurts mutual trust (Global Times)
A mainland official Wednesday criticized some people in Taiwan for ignoring the mainland's good will and fabricating the so-called "mainland threat." Their actions do not accord with the current atmosphere of peaceful development in cross-Strait relations, said Fan Liqing, spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. Fan made the remarks after a reporter asked about the recent comments of Lai Shin-yuan, chairwoman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council. Lai said Taiwan's future is in the hands of the island's 23 million people while urging the mainland to remove its missiles targeted at the island. "Taiwan's future lies with the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," Fan said, stressing that it is the secessionist forces in Taiwan and their activities that have stirred up tensions across the Strait and that threaten the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations.When asked to comment on recent remarks by Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou, Fan said the promotion of the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations is in line with the fundamental interests of Chinese compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. According to previous reports, Ma told reporters he has a so-called "Three Phases" conception for cross-Strait relations, with the first phase being Taiwan opening up to the mainland in commerce and trade as much as possible, while declining to talk about reunification. ^ top ^



Backgrounder: Summer Davos forum in China (Global Times)
The Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also known as the Summer Davos, is to open Monday in China's northern port city of Tianjin, with focus on sustainable growth while seeking post-crisis recovery. With the theme of "Driving Growth through Sustainability" this year, the three-day meeting, one of the foremost global business gathering sponsored by the World Economic Forum (WEF), attracts more than 1,400 participants from 88 countries, according to organizers. The Annual Meeting of the New Champions provides a platform for the rising generation of global leaders from business and society to contribute to broader policy discussions and engage with the world's top business executives. […] China has held three Summer Davos meetings as the world is showing an increasing interest in the developing country's economic development. […]. ^ top ^

Wen promises fair play for foreign companies (SCMP)
[…] Increases in productivity have moved China higher in the WEF's Global Competitive Index, yet World Bank rankings on the ease of doing business in the country have declined this year. There have been claims Beijing is discriminating against foreign companies in areas such as state procurement. Multinationals are concerned that as China's need for foreign capital is reduced by having the world's largest foreign reserves they may be sidelined. Meanwhile, state-owned enterprises are growing stronger especially after the global financial crisis when a considerable part of the government's stimulus efforts was directed to infrastructure and other sectors where they dominate. Wen said the concerns of foreign companies stemmed from "misunderstanding" and "unclearly defined Chinese policies". In government procurement, China gives equal treatment to all products produced on the mainland by foreign-invested enterprises and Chinese-invested enterprises alike, he said at the forum that focuses on small, high-growth companies. Wen promised to give high priority to intellectual property protection and encouraged foreign companies to play a big role in China's initiatives to boost domestic demand and the deepening of reforms. […] China would not "close the door" to developing the economy, Wen said. Continuously rising foreign direct investment, which grew more than 20 per cent year on year in the first seven months, indicated China was still a favoured investment destination. Jia Kang, a researcher with the Institute of Fiscal Science at the Ministry of Finance, said some local governments have not kept their word with foreign firms and changed their policies after the investment was made. And some local government purchases in the stimulus package gave preferences to local companies. Wen said the 4 trillion yuan (HK$4.59 trillion) stimulus, unveiled in late 2008 to prevent economic slowdown, had worked well but there was a possibility of more bad loans from local government financing vehicles. A large part of the 9.6 trillion yuan of new loans banks extended last year went to these financing vehicles, and in some cases the capacity to repay is questionable. The local government debt problem has "existed for a long time", and the risk has been intensifying recently, Wen said. In the five years to 2015, China will give priority to developing agriculture, environment protection industries and manufacturing-related services, according to Wen. ^ top ^

Stronger yuan not about to ease trade tensions (SCMP)
The yuan's climb to its highest level since 1994 is not likely to ease tensions between China and its US and European trade partners over the value of the currency. The People's Bank of China set the yuan exchange rate at 6.725 to the US dollar yesterday, after the currency rose against the greenback for a fourth consecutive day and from 6.7378 on Tuesday. The currency has gained 1.38 per cent since Beijing relinquished its peg to the dollar in favour of a basket of 11 currencies in its latest currency reform announced on June 19. The fresh peak for the yuan came just hours ahead of a meeting of powerful US lawmakers with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. They aim to come up with an action plan on the yuan, which they claim is undervalued by as much as 40 per cent. The US has been pushing Beijing to let the currency strengthen much more than the PBOC has so far been prepared to accept.

Economists and Hong Kong exporters expect the US to further ratchet up pressure on Beijing, as the currency issue remains a thorny subject in Sino-US trade relations. They expect the yuan to continue to strengthen gradually until the end of this year on the back of a combination of factors, including weakness of the US dollar and gains in the euro, yen and won. (…) The yuan is tied to the US dollar, the euro, yen and won as well as seven other currencies - the Malaysia ringgit, Singapore dollar, Russian rouble, Canadian dollar, British pound, Australian dollar and the Thai baht. Most of these currencies hit fresh highs yesterday, with the yen gaining so rapidly that the Japanese central bank intervened to weaken the currency and protect Japanese exporters. World Bank president Robert Zoellick supported the US in its call for a stronger yuan, saying it was appropriate to lift its value. Ministry of Commerce spokesman Yao Jian said the US was "not reasonable" in judging the currency value according to China's trade surplus and that "politicians should not point fingers" in a bid to attract votes. The US has accused Beijing of keeping the yuan artificially low in order to give an unfair edge to Chinese exporters and swell the country's trade surplus. Morgan Stanley chief economist Wang Qing expects the yuan will strengthen to 6.6 against the dollar by the end of this year and 6.20 by the end of 2011. "The Chinese authorities will likely be more proactive in implementing their strategy for a flexible exchange rate arrangement," Wang said. "It will allow faster appreciation of the yuan in part to ease political tensions."

Chinese Manufacturers' Association permanent honorary chairman Paul Yin Tak-shing complained that a stronger yuan meant higher costs for tens of thousands of Hong Kong exporters across the border as the US is their key export destination.The Federation of Hong Kong Industries deputy chairman Stanley Lau Chin-ho said yuan appreciation exacerbated exporters' burden in the wake of labour shortages, wage rises and uncertain consumer demand in the US and Europe. ^ top ^

China urges World Bank for more say (Global Times)
China Wednesday urged the World Bank to promote the formulation of new international economic rules and standards, and to give more say and presence to developing nations. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan made the remarks in a meeting with visiting World Bank President Robert Zoellick. The international financial crisis provided an opportunity for international financial reform, and an increased say for developing countries in major international financial organizations was an important step, Wang said. In April, an agreement was reached among the World Bank members to increase the voting share of emerging and developing countries by 3.13 percent to the current total of 47.19 percent.

As a result of the agreement, China, a World Bank aid recipient in the past, has become the institution's third-biggest shareholder, increasing its share from 2.77 percent to 4.42 percent.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of China-World Bank cooperation. "China and the World Bank should continue to strengthen cooperation, so as to contribute to the development and poverty reduction of China and the world," Wang said. He said that since China is a developing country with a huge population, it needs to transform its development model, adjust its economic structure and achieve coordinated development among different areas, people and the environment. Zoellick said the World Bank will continue to support China's modernization and development. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

Full report on sinking released (SCMP)
South Korea yesterday released a full report into the sinking of a warship in which 46 sailors died, blamed on North Korea, saying it was acting to quell "groundless" suspicions about who was to blame for the tragedy. The defence ministry report, containing about 300 pages, reaffirms conclusions reached in May by international investigators that a torpedo attack by a North Korean submarine sank the corvette and killed 46 of its crew. But many South Koreans are sceptical. A survey by Seoul National University's Institute for Peace and Unification Studies showed that only three in 10 trust the findings of the international inquiry. There are widespread rumours that the United States was behind the sinking. The 1,200-tonne warship was split in two on March 26 near the tense inter-Korean sea border off the west coast. Investigators from the US, Sweden, Australia and Britain as well as South Korea concluded in May that there was overwhelming evidence that a torpedo attack was the cause. "There are individuals who raise doubts against the investigation results based on their own interest, and they are taking irresponsible actions such as spreading groundless accusations," said the report. It gave detailed explanations and evidence related to the sinking. ^ top ^

South Korea to send rice and aid to flood-hit North as tensions ease (SCMP)
South Korea announced plans yesterday to send 5,000 tonnes of rice and other aid to flood-stricken North Korea in a sign of easing tensions. It would mark South Korea's first major aid shipment to North Korea since the deadly sinking in March of a South Korean warship, which was blamed on Pyongyang. That incident raised tensions, but the two Koreas have exchanged conciliatory gestures in recent weeks. […] South Korea is planning 10 billion won (HK$66.95 million) in aid to help the North recover from flooding that swamped farmland, houses and public buildings in its northwest last month, the South's Red Cross said. The aid would include 5,000 tonnes of rice, 10,000 tonnes of cement, medicine and other items to be financed by the government, Red Cross chief Yoo Chong-ha said. The North has relied on outside aid to feed much of its 24 million people since the mid-1990s and experts fear the latest floods worsened its chronic food shortages. About 80,000 to 90,000 people were affected and the rice would feed about 100,000 people for 100 days, Yoo said. The aid was expected to be delivered within a month, he said. North Korea had sought rice, cement and heavy equipment as aid. Heavy equipment was excluded over concerns it could be used for military purposes. South Korea also sent the North a message on detailed aid plans yesterday but there was no immediate response from the North, according to the Ministry of Unification, which handles relations with Pyongyang. Also yesterday, the ministry said it would hold talks with Pyongyang this week about restarting reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean war. More than 20,800 separated families have been briefly reunited in face-to-face meetings or by video since a landmark inter-Korean summit in 2000. But the programme stalled a year ago as relations deteriorated. The scheme is highly emotional for Koreans, as most applying are elderly and eager to see loved ones before they die. […]. ^ top ^

Six-party talks "fundamental" way of solving Korean Peninsula nuclear issue: senior Chinese diplomat (Xinhua)
[…] From the long term perspective, the fundamental way of settling regional contradictions and disputes is through continuing to advance the six-party talks, achieving the conversion of the mechanism of armistice to peace, and finally establishing a security system of peace in Northeast Asia, said Hu Xiaodi, China' s permanent representative and ambassador to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna. To this end, China hopes that no matter how situation changes, parties concerned should fix their attention on the overall situation, exercise restraint, resume direct dialogues and talks at an early date, Hu said, adding all sides should make joint efforts to achieve an early resumption of the six-party talks, and continue to advance the process of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. […] The current situation once again shows that severe lack of mutual trust among parties concerned is the root cause of both frequent tensions in northeast Asia and difficulties for the six- party talks. Under such circumstances, the only way to gradually accumulate trust and seek to properly address concerns of each side in a balanced manner is through maintaining contacts, dialogues and frank communications, Hu said. Hu said all parties should give serious thoughts on how to change the situation and put the Korean Peninsula issue back on the track of dialogue and consultation at an early date. Hu also said that China is willing to work with all the parties concerned and the international community to achieve an early resumption of the six-party talks, play a constructive role for achieving denuclearization on the Korean Peninsular and maintaining peace and stability in northeast Asia. ^ top ^

DPRK proposes military talks with S. Korea (Xinhua)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has proposed to hold military talks with South Korea, Yonhap news agency quoted military authorities in the South as reporting on Thursday. Pyongyang Wednesday suggested the working-level talks via a military communications line at the border truce village of Panmunjom, according to Yonhap. In a related development, on September 8, the DPRK released the South Korean fishing boat "Daeseung 55" and its crewmembers that it captured last month for violating the DPRK's exclusive economic zone. Pyongyang also offered to hold a new round of reunions for separated families and accepted rice and cement for flood victims in the DPRK from Seoul. ^ 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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