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
  18-21.4.2011, No. 367  
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Foreign Policy

China, UK hold 4th defense strategic talks (Xinhua)
China and the UK held the fourth defense strategic talks here on Sunday. Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Ma Xiaotian and British Vice Chief of Defense Staff Nicholas Houghton co-chaired the one-day talks. "Facing the changing international situation, it is more necessary and important to strengthen our exchanges and consultation. We have made earnest preparation, and we are candid and open for the discussions. I believe with our joint efforts, the talks will score positive achievements," Ma said. Houghton said in view of the international security situation, it is important for the two countries to conduct the defense strategic talks. He hoped the two sides would discuss the emerged new problems on the basis of mutual trust and friendship they have built in previous talks. Ma said the strategic talks is an important exchanges mechanism between the two militaries, and China holds a positive, candid and open attitude towards the continuation of the talks. [...]. ^ top ^

CPC congratulates Cuban party on opening of national congress (Xinhua)
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Sunday sent a congratulatory message to Cuba's Communist Party (CCP) for the opening of its Sixth National Congress on Saturday. On behalf of the CPC and the Chinese people, the committee hailed the event and extended via the congress the most cordial greetings to all CCP members and the Cuban people. Under the CCP's leadership, the Cuban people work arduously and persistently to develop their economy and improve their livelihood, winning wide support from the international community. The CPC is overjoyed by their achievements since the previous national congress, the message said. The ongoing congress is of great significance for Cuba as the country is entering a critical period. It will have a momentous and far-reaching impact on the sustained development of Cuba's socialist cause, the message added. China-Cuba relations have weathered the vicissitudes of the international arena. The CPC and the Chinese government have always viewed bilateral ties from a strategic and a long-term perspective and remain committed to consolidating and developing the traditional friendship between the two countries. [...]. ^ top ^

China, Iran to enhance parliamentary cooperation, exchanges (Xinhua)
Senior Chinese legislator Chen Zhili met with vice speaker of Iranian Majlis (parliament) Seyed Shahabedin Sadr here on Monday, agreeing to boost parliamentary cooperation and exchanges. Chen, vice chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, said Sino-Iranian relations have been developing steadily and healthily. The NPC and the Iranian Majlis have played an irreplaceable role in promoting bilateral ties on all levels. China is willing to enhance parliamentary cooperation and exchanges with Iranian side, deepen mutual understanding and friendship and enhance the cooperation to a higher stage to benefit the two peoples, Chen said. Sadr spoke highly of the bilateral relations and expressed his satisfaction with the achievements in cooperation in political, trade and cultural areas in recent years. Iran is ready to improve pragmatic cooperation between the two countries in all areas, he said. Chen arrived in Tehran Sunday for a friendly visit at the invitation of the Iranian Majlis. ^ top ^

China urges early resumption of six-party talks (People's Daily Online)
China on Tuesday urged relevant parties to seize the current situation of easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and create conditions to restart the long-stalled six-party talks. "The situation on the Korean Peninsula has recently shown signs of easing and relevant parties are gradually conducting interactions," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing. [...] Hong made the remarks when asked to comment on the U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner's view that a successful inter-Korea rapprochement was an essential first step to restart the six-party talks [...]. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Seoul late Saturday for talks with ROK officials [...]. China has also conducted contact with other sides and held in-depth discussions on resuming six-party talks. ROK Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik said during his China trip that the six-party talks was "an important mechanism to realize peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia" and urged relevant parties to make the talks substantial, if they resumed. The DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan visited China last week at the invitation of Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun [...]. Hong said it was in the common interests of all parties to implement the September 19 Joint Statement in a comprehensive and balanced way, realize denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, and maintain lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia. He urged all parties to engage in dialogue as soon as possible, build trust and find proper solutions to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. [...]. ^ top ^

China, U.S. discuss substantive issues as heavyweight Senate delegation visits Beijing (Xinhua)
Leaders of China and the United States sought open communications on issues ranging from politics and diplomacy to clean energy and trade, as one of the largest and most senior U.S. congressional delegation came to Beijing Wednesday. "It is a great pleasure for me to have an opportunity to meet 10 heavyweight U.S. Senators," China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan said at the start of an hour-long meeting with the delegation Wednesday afternoon. The delegation was led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. [...] Vice premier underscored the importance China paid to the delegation as top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo and Vice President Xi Jinping will have separate meetings with the delegation on Thursday. [...]&nbssp; The delegation will also travel to the cities of Chengdu and Xi'an in west China. ^ top ^

China's top political advisor meets head of Pakistan's opposition party (Xinhua)
China's top political advisor Jia Qinglin met with Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), in Beijing on Wednesday, where the officials vowed to maintain exchanges between political parties in both countries. Jia [...] said the CPC will maintain high-level exchanges with the PML-N, strengthen communication between young politicians and promote sound, stable and sustainable development in relations between the two countries. Sharif said the PML-N, Pakistan's largest opposition party, attaches great importance to its relations with the CPC. It will further enhance exchanges and cooperation with the CPC, learn from the party and promote the in-depth development of Pakistan-China relations. Jia, also chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, said the relationship between China and Pakistan was "solid as a rock," and the two countries' "harmonious, trustful and friendly" relationship has become a model of the kind of relationship that can exist between countries with different cultural backgrounds. [...] He vowed that the Chinese government will encourage more companies to join in Pakistan's development. China will work with Pakistan to deepen their friendship and expand cooperation. Sharif said Pakistan and China are best friends, and that their friendship is built on the basis of mutual understanding, trust and respect. [...]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Police round up pastors, Christians for second time (SCMP)
The government showed no signs of relaxing its grip on unofficial churches over the weekend, as police detained church leaders in Beijing and Shandong and rounded up nearly 50 Christians trying to attend an outdoor service in the capital for the second Sunday in a row.

[...] The recent crackdown on Shouwang, one of the largest house churches on the mainland with nearly 1,000 members, and a few smaller churches prompted fears that a fresh crackdown on unregistered churches was under way. Yesterday morning, large numbers of police officers were deployed near the building where the Shouwang church planned to worship in the Zhongguancun area, said church members who were in custody [...]. Last night most were still in custody. [...] Pastor Jin TTianming, who was taken away by police on Saturday night and interrogated for nearly 12 hours, said nearly 50 people in his congregation were detained yesterday. Many were among those detained last week. Pastor Li Xiaobai and his wife were also taken away for a few hours on Saturday night, and Pastor Zhang Xiaofeng had been removed from a restaurant near the planned place of worship yesterday morning, church members said. Jin and Li remained under house arrest. Beijing police refused to make any comment. One of the church elders, who had been confined to his home for more than a week and declined to be named, said he believed fewer church members turned up yesterday than last Sunday because many had been stopped by police from going out, while others were forced to sign statements last week promising not to worship outdoors again. [...]< Meanwhile, police in Shandong detained a pastor and four church members in Zuozhuang town over the weekend. A church leader, Zhang Guangxia, said she was taken away on Saturday night. Pastor Zhang Qingan was detained yesterday morning and three others were detained in the afternoon. They were trying to distribute evangelical pamphlets. All five were released early yesterday evening. ^ top ^

Chinese Premier calls for more efforts to heed public opinion (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has called for increased efforts to heed public opinion in formulating government policies, saying the government will create conditions to encourage people to speak truthfully. In the full text of a speech released Sunday, Wen told the members of the Counselors' Office and the Central Research Institute of Culture and History (CRICH) at a seminar on April 14 to convey the people's wishes without concealing anything, and let the government know existing problems, contradictions and difficulties. [...] The government must "listen to public opinions and pool the wisdom of all people concerned in a bid to work out good government policy which accords to reality and people's aspirations," Wen said. Wen pledged that the government would create conditions to encourage the people, as well as the members of the Counselors' Office and the CRICH, to speak truthfully. [...] He said despite progress in the past decades, the cultural building, especially the fostering of the moral culture, is lagging behind the country's economic development. [...] Wen said that advancing the moral and cultural construction would help safeguard normal production, life and social order, as well as to eradicate the stain of swindling, corruption and other illegal conduct. China should incorporate the concept of rule by law into the moral and cultural construction so as to make the ethical firms and individuals be protected by law and be respected in society, while the immoral be punished in accordance with law and be condemned by the people, he said. [...] Wen said he hoped the counselors and researchers would study how to solve the problems of unfair income distribution and unbalanced development between urban and rural areas and different regions. Deepening reforms of the economic and political systems should also be put on the research agenda, Wen said. Wen suggested that counselors and researchers do more to investigate the situation at the grassroots level and offer factual and valuable advice for the government to solve existing problems and difficulties. ^ top ^

Wen to cadres: speak the truth (SCMP)
Amid one of the largest government crackdowns on dissent in years, Premier Wen Jiabao has urged cadres to "speak the truth" and expressed outrage over moral degeneration in society. Analysts say Wen's remarks, to newly appointed State Council advisers and members of the Central Research Institute of Culture and History late last week, are a continuation of his attempts to push political reform and the rule of law. Wen reiterated that people should be able to express their opinions freely. He made a similar appeal to the nation's official writers' association nearly five years ago and created waves twice last year by discussing political reform [...].. "I still stress [the importance] of speaking the truth... We must create conditions for people to speak the truth," Wen said. "For the government's policy to be... in line with people's wishes, one must listen to people's opinions." He lashed out at the deterioration of moral standards in the country, saying recent scandals such as tainted milk powder and poisonous chemicals found in food across the mainland demonstrated that integrity had plunged to fresh lows. "A country without improvements in the quality of people and moral strength cannot be a truly strong country respected by others," Wen said. "We must deepen political and economic reforms... to make lawbreakers and immoral people punishable by law." Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based political analyst, said that in stressing the importance of free expression and voicing his outrage over the moral vacuum, Wen was highlighting the importance of democracy and the rule of law. [...] "He wants to push China towards the road of democracy and the rule of law to create conditions for speaking the truth. You can only build moral strength when you have democracy and the rule of law." [...] The rights group Chinese Human Rights Defenders said yesterday it had documented the criminal detention of at least 39 people, while 21 remained missing after being taken away by police. Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, a political scientist at City University of Hong Kong, said Wen's apparent inability to introduce political openness to the country despite his beliefs was "ironic and tragic". "It is obvious he is the symbol and the voice of the reforming forces... The fact that he appears helpless is a very good reflection of China's political reality," he said. "You have people in the party who might be interested in reforms but they are certainly in the minority and can't do much." Wen has long advocated political reform and touted "universal values" such as freedom, democracy and human rights. Resented by powerful party conservatives, his comments on these topics are sometimes censored in the state media. Professor Chan Kin-man, a China expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, [...]. The situation would not have been as bad had civil groups and the media been allowed to investigate government and business misconduct, he said. [...] "They have made it happen... They would not allow the growth of [civil society]," Chan said. ^ top ^

Rebel church urges Easter act of defiance (SCMP)
An unregistered mainland Protestant church urged its followers yesterday to ignore government warnings and risk being arrested by attending Easter services in Beijing at the weekend. In an appeal posted on its Google Buzz page, the Shouwang Church warned that police would likely detain those gathering at a set meeting site, but that it was more important that followers stood up for their faith [...]. "The courage that we sacrifice becomes the peace between the oppressor and the oppressed," the church said. "Our sole desire is that we can awaken the conscience of our rulers through our peaceful and holy action of sacrifice. We also hope that this action can dissipate the hatred between people... Only in this way can we really love our government." The Shouwang church, one of Beijing's largest unregistered churches, was forced outdoors after the government blocked the rental of its previous place of worship and prevented it from buying a new meeting place, the church said. [...] <"We again reiterate that the Shouwang church is a church of Jesus Christ and we are not under the control of, or being used by, any domestic or foreign organisation," yesterday's statement said. The church set up its Google Buzz page, a Twitter-like microblog service, after its China-based webpage was shut down recently. Although freedom of religion is enshrined in China's constitution, all religious groups are required to register with the government and worship in officially sanctioned churches. About 15 million Protestants and 5 million Catholics worship at official churches on the mainland, according to recent official data. But more than 50 million others are believed to pray at underground or "house" churches. ^ top ^

AIDS deaths hit 'peak' as 7,700 die (China Daily)
AIDS deaths are believed to be peaking on the Chinese mainland as many from the large number of people infected with HIV in the 1990s because of unsanitary blood-selling schemes develop full-blown AIDS, a senior health official said on Tuesday.Hao Yang, deputy director of the disease prevention and control bureau at the Ministry of Health, made the remarks at the launch of the Tsinghua-Janssen Public Health Day on Tuesday. By the end of last year, the total reported number of AIDS deaths had reached 68,000, according to statistics from the ministry. Since 2008, AIDS has become the country's top infectious killer and it claimed the lives of 7,700 people in 2010 alone. [...] Currently, China has about 740,000 people living with AIDS/HIV, including 140,000 full-blown AIDS patients, official statistics show. Hao urged people with the virus to accept the free medication they are entitled to and the first-line antiretroviral regimen, and said the government is making efforts to also provide free second-line drugs to those in need. [...] Despite regulations that prohibit homosexuals and carriers of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, from donating blood, some gay people with HIV are believed to have donated blood and refused to declare their sexual orientation in order to avoid discrimination, Zhang said. [...] In the past few years, men who have sex with men (MSM) have become one of the most vulnerable groups for contracting AIDS/HIV, experts said. Among the 44,000 new HIV infections detected in 2010, nearly 13 percent were infected through gay sex, according to the Ministry of Health. [...]. ^ top ^

China vows to double workers' pay in 5 years (China Daily)
China is striving to increase the average wages by 15 percent each year in a bid to double workers' pay by the end of 2015, a senior labor official has said. The ambitious plan was revealed by Yang Zhiming, vice minister of the Ministry of Human Resource and Social Security during a national labor relations conference on Monday, reported the Beijing Times. Authorities in 13 provinces raised the minimum wage by an average of 22.8 percent since the start of the year, with more cities likely to follow suit, Yang told the meeting. The problem of migrant workers failing to get paid on time will be addressed by the newly-revised Criminal Law, which added "malicious arrears of wage crime" into its articles thanks to MHRSS lobbying the Standing Committee of National People's Congress earlier this March during China's "two sessions." "We'd spare no effort step by step to ensure there's no wage-arrears in China by the end of 2013," Yang said. ^ top ^

Crackdown on illegal land use nets 18.6b yuan (SCMP)
The Ministry of Land and Resources will step up efforts to clamp down on illegal land use after recovering 18.63 billion yuan last year from 8,612 persons that it says was obtained through malpractice. Gan Zangchun, deputy director-general of the ministry's land inspection authority, said those responsible for illegal practices had been punished or faced further investigation. He said the authority had made routine inspections in 77 major mainland cities, resulting in the review and verification of 10,800 land-use approval cases at the provincial level, adding that there were field inspections for 3,801 land-use cases for construction projects last year. The recovered money included 4.06 billion yuan in fines for land misuse, 13.23 billion yuan in land transfer revenues, 497 million yuan in royalties for new construction sites and 843 million yuan in land reclamation fees, Xinhua quoted Gan as saying. [...] Xu Tonghui, customer and corporate branding manager at mainland developer Longfor Group, said the move would help clean up the industry. "It will create a sustainable and healthy real estate market," he said. He said the firm and the market overall would benefit from the central government's tight regulation of land use because eliminating illegal practices created a level playing field. In the past two years, the central authority has increased land supply for government-subsidised and small homes to ease property prices to help first-time buyers. But some developers have built commercial properties on land earmarked for affordable housing, prompting an extensive campaign to punish culpable officials and executives. [...] The government's scrutiny of land use is part of a broader effort to rein in runaway home prices. [...]. ^ top ^

Build legal bulwark against moral decline (People's Daily Online)
A series of recent food safety scandals has alarmed us that we do need to take some prompt actions, said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. [...] The comments are targeted at the deterioration of social ethics. However, Premier Wen's other comment also requires our attention when he mentioned that China needs to closely combine the rule of law with moral construction as well as deepen political, economic, cultural, judicial restructuring. Furthermore, it is necessary to ensure businesses and individuals who abide by moral standards are protected by law and respected, while those with corrupt morals should be punished according to law and cast aside by the people. Wen's remarks were not only directed at the food safety incidents but are also relevant to the cultural reconstruction in China as it is undergoing social transformation. It also touches upon the reconstruction of credibility, responsibility and morality, which need support from socialist rule of law. [...] The questions now are how to make those unscrupulous merchants conscientious of their shameful deeds, how to hold regulatory bodies responsible and how to make profit-driven business credible. Persuasion and education are not enough. [...] Man is partial and selfish, and tends to seek personal profits, protect private interests and avoid punishment. Without rigid discipline, man is usually driven by lust. Therefore, he abandons moral standards and makes reckless moves all for personal gains. [...] The loopholes in the legal system greatly impair social morality and mislead social orientation and public confidence. On one hand, people are encouraged to be credible, open-minded and responsible. On the other hand, those who violate the law and neglect their duties can escape the punishment. In this sense, man is the biggest loser in the social conflicts and moral disputes. [...] Improving the system of law is the best way to eradicate profit-before-everything mentality, entrapment and cheating, embezzlement and corruption. This will maintain sustainable development and ensure that moral development grows at the same rate as the GDP. ^ top ^

Rights lawyers free after being held in crackdown (SCMP)
Prominent mainland human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong, taken into police custody at the beginning of a massive crackdown on dissent two months ago, has been released, his wife says. Another rights lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan, a friend of detained maverick artist Ai Weiwei, has also been released after being detained for five days. [...] Rights groups have expressed fears that Jiang and dozens of other lawyers and activists detained in the latest crackdown on government critics were tortured. [...] The rights group Chinese Human Rights Defenders said yesterday it had documented the criminal detention of at least 39 activists, lawyers and bloggers, while 18 remained missing after police took them away. Yang Zili, a dissident who has spoken to Jiang on the phone since his release, said he believed his freedom was still being restricted. Jiang told Yang he needed to change the way he behaved. "He sounded like he was under a lot of pressure still," Yang said. Of seven rights lawyers detained two months ago, Jiang and Tang Jitian are the only ones to have been released. Tang was quietly released in early March and is said to be suffering from tuberculosis, former colleague Liu Wei said. "He is still under a lot of restrictions and we heard he had been beaten up badly," she said. The other five - Teng Biao, Liu Shihui, Tang Jingling, Liu Zhengqing and Li Tiantian - have not been heard of since they were taken away by police in February. [...] Meanwhile, Liu Xiaoyuan, who was earlier entrusted by activist artist Ai to represent him should he ever be arrested, said he himself had been released on Tuesday after [...] being interrogated over cases he is handling. Liu said his incarceration was likely to be related to Ai, who was detained in Beijing on April 3 and had been accused of unspecified economic crimes. [...]. ^ top ^

China mulls amendment to improve insurance for coal miners, construction workers (Xinhua)
China's top legislature on Wednesday began to discuss an amendment to laws regarding coal miners and construction workers, aiming to improve their insurance cover. Besides the access of work-related injury insurance, the draft amendment offers a complementary insurance against accidents to the miners working underground and construction workers involved in dangerous operations, according to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) during a bimonthly session. The work-related injury insurance policy, covering expenses on rehabilitation and assistive devices for long-term care, could provide higher compensation amounts than the one-off accidental injury insurance policy, said Shi Xiushi, who chairs the financial and economic affairs committee of the NPC. Employers would pay the premiums for these two types of insurance policies, according to the draft amendment. The work-related injury insurance is supported by the new social insurance law, which states that all workers should have such insurance. [...] Shi said the amendment was meant to bring in line different laws, and it would help improve social security for the workers. [...]. ^ top ^

China vows to increase government scholarships for African students (Xinhua)
China announced on Wednesday to largely increase the number of government scholarships to African students, in a bid to step up youth exchanges and lay a solid foundation for future China-Africa friendly ties. The pledge was made by Li Changchun, a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC), while he was addressing hundreds of students and teachers at the University of Nairobi. [...] Li said the Chinese government is to double government scholarships to Kenya, from previous 32 every year to 64 starting from this year. [...] He said China is willing to continue enhancing assistance to African countries including Kenya within its capacity, with investment inclining to the areas of education, agriculture, health, poverty reduction as well as environmental protection. Besides, China would increase investment in the building of Confucius Institutes in Africa, he said, vowing to create better condition for African youth to learn Chinese language. [...] During his visit, the two countries would sign a series of cooperation agreements to boost bilateral cooperation, including one on China's provision of 740 million yuan (113 million U.S. dollars) of preferential loans to Kenya in higher education and scientific research. [...] He also praised the rapid development of the China-Africa ties since the founding of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000, adding the trade volume between both sides rose from 10 billion U.S. dollars in 2001 to 130 billion last year. [...] China and Africa set up a new type of strategic partnership in the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2006, which features political trust, economic mutual benefits and cultural reciprocity [...]. ^ top ^

Door about to close on forced home demolitions (China Daily)
Property owners in China may soon see the end of forced demolitions, which have triggered conflicts and even seen people set themselves on fire in their desperation to hang onto their homes. A draft law being discussed by the nation's top legislature calls for an end to the use of violence, intimidation and other illegal means by both local administrations looking to take possession of people's homes and third-parties acting on their behalf. It also rules out such property seizures taking place on holidays or at night, unless there is an emergency that justifies it. The draft law on administrative coercion was submitted for its fourth review on Wednesday, two years after it was last reviewed. According to the Legislation Law, draft laws can be abolished if they are not reviewed within two years of their previous reading by the legislature. Qiao Xiaoyang, deputy director of the National People's Congress (NPC) Law Committee, told members of the NPC Standing Committee that the fourth draft, which is designed to regularize administrative coercive power, also seeks to "protect people's legal rights and supervise administrations in the performance of their duties in accordance with the law". Qiao, [...], said the draft law has gradually been refined during the past six years and noted that the committee has solicited more than 3,800 suggestions from the public since its third review in 2009. [...] In the latest draft, the power to use coercive measures rests with "legislatures at national and local levels", a move hailed by legal experts as "great progress" because it will restrain local government bodies and ministries under the central government from misusing administrative coercive power. [......] Zhan Zhongle, a professor of administrative law at Peking University, told China Daily that administrations responsible for social management are facing increasing challenges and more and more complicated social circumstances. "For this reason, government departments hope they can be authorized to have administrative power equal to their rising responsibilities and challenges," he said. For instance, the draft law entrusts chengguan, or urban management officers, to carry out administrative coercive measures, including closing down places and facilities and impounding property, as stipulated in laws and local regulations. [...] Zhan added: "It (the latest draft) can be seen as an attempt from the top legislature to restrain administrative coercive power on one hand, and to maintain their ability to undertake social management on the other." He admitted that discrepancies between the expectations of the administrations and the top legislature were a major reason why the draft law's passage had been so slow. "It is one of the most long-awaited laws in China's legal history. It has been more than 12 years since my colleagues and I started to draft the first version in the 1990s," said the 75-year-old Ying. ^ top ^

Rising sea level brings more marine disasters to China (People's Daily Online)
China's coastal sea level has been rising 2.6 mm every year for the past three decades, bringing more marine disasters to coastal regions, according to documents released by the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) on Wednesday. The two documents[...], said that marine disasters in 2010 resulted in 137 deaths and disappearances, with direct economic losses totaling nearly 13.3 billion yuan (about 2 billion U.S. dollars). Economic losses caused by marine disasters between 2006 and 2010 increased 18 percent over the number of those that occurred between 2001 and 2005, the documents said. SOA expert Liu Kexiu attributed the rising sea level to global warming. [...] The documents said that average air and sea temperatures in coastal regions rose about 0.4 and 0.2 degrees Celsius, respectively, over the past decade, and that the average sea level rose about 25 mm. As a "gradual" marine disaster, the cumulative effect of rising sea level could "aggravate storm tides, coastal erosion, seawater invasion and other disasters," the documents said. The documents call for strengthening the investigation of the changing sea level, regulating coastal construction projects and building defensive facilities to mitigate the effects of marine disasters. ^ top ^



China visas tougher for consular staff in HK since Liu's Nobel prize (SCMP)
Beijing has tightened its visa policy for officials from consulates and global institutions stationed in Hong Kong since the Nobel peace prize ceremony for jailed mainland dissident Liu Xiaobo. Some foreign officials have claimed the change is a deliberate attempt to make travel to the mainland more difficult following their organisations' support for Liu's award. Before December 10 last year [...] consular officials and staff of international organisations could travel freely to the mainland in a private capacity. [...] But now, official notice is required, regardless of whether the visit is private or for work. [...] The Chinese Foreign Ministry would not comment on the visa policy change, but it can be found on the ministry's Hong Kong's website. Here it states that officials of foreign governments or members of consular missions in Hong Kong, and staff of the United Nations or other international organisations "who wish to travel to mainland China for official or private purpose" must submit a note from their governments, diplomatic missions or their employing organisations along with their applications. [...] A staff member of one of the international organisations said: "It was common knowledge that the visa change was due to the support given to Liu." Another person said the unexpected spread of "jasmine revolutions" in the Middle East this year "only exacerbated China's worries". [...]. ^ top ^

Appeal court agrees torture claimants must first overstay visa (SCMP)
The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld an Immigration Department requirement that people fleeing torture in their home countries stay in Hong Kong long enough to be illegal "overstayers" before they can lodge an appeal to stay in the city. Mr Justice Michael Hartmann said the United Nations convention was silent on the exact way an application had to be processed, as long as the claimants were not sent back to a state where they could be tortured. [...] Hartmann agreed with Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung's Court of First Instance judgment that without a special regime to deal with torture claimants, the Director of Immigration has the legal power to run the procedure as he wishes. [...] The case was also heard by Mr Justice Joseph Fok and Mr Justice Anthony To.The judicial review concerns two separate torture claimants from Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo who were both permitted to stay in Hong Kong for 14 days on arrival. Each man, during that period, approached the Immigration Department to lodge a claim under the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture. As part of the convention since 1992, Hong Kong is obligated to practise non-refoulement [...]. However, both applicants were told they could not make a claim while they were lawfully in the city. They had to remain longer than the legal 14 days and become "overstayers" before they could attempt to gain protection. Technically that made them illegal immigrants, giving authorities the right to arrest, detain and prosecute them. Philip Dykes SC, for the appellants, argued that a delay in processing could weaken a claimant's case, because the best proof that they could be tortured if sent home was evidence they had been tortured [...]. ^ top ^



Another handout for Macau residents (SCMP)
Macau is to give every permanent resident a handout of 3,000 patacas - the fifth such bonus since the casino town began splashing the cash in 2008. The move comes as Hong Kong awaits a decision on how and when each permanent resident will get the controversial HK$6,000 handout announced after finance chief John Tsang Chun-wah's budget in February. Macau Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on announced the handout - 3,000 patacas for permanent residents and 1,800 for non-permanent residents - yesterday. It will cost the Macau government 1.7 billion patacas. Answering lawmakers' questions in Macau's Legislative Assembly, Chu said the cash would help counter high inflation. [...] The move is also interpreted as an attempt to assuage public concern over the lack of a trickle-down affect as the city's booming casino continues to post massive profits. [...] Chu also announced the introduction of a special stamp duty to rein in property speculation. Properties bought from today and sold within a year of purchase will incur a 20 per cent stamp duty. The new levy will be reduced to 10 per cent between one and two years after purchase. Macau's Monetary Authority will also cap the mortgage on new purchases at 70 per cent. For non-permanent residents, mortgages are capped at 50 per cent. […] Macau University economist Davis Fong ka-chio said: "This latest round of cash handouts is influenced by Hong Kong. The cash handout last time was only 4,000 patacas, and 6,000 patacas went into people's provident fund account. " [...]. ^ top ^



Taipei gave 'democracy' cash to me: Wang Dan (SCMP)
A mainland dissident said Taiwan's previous government gave him money to promote democracy in his homeland, but the cash did not come from the pockets of the island's disgraced president. Wang Dan wrote in Monday's Taiwan edition of the Apple Daily newspaper that he received an undisclosed amount of money from Taiwan's government during the 2000-08 administration of President Chen Shui-bian." Mr Chen Shui-bian provided financial support to China's democratic movement on behalf of the Republic of China," Wang wrote, using the official name used by the Taiwanese authorities. "I would not have considered taking the money if it had come from Mr Chen Shui-bian as a private individual." Chen is serving a 17-year prison sentence after his conviction on a wide range of corruption charges. […] Wang, who is teaching at a Taiwanese university, was one of the leaders of the 1989 movement on the mainland that ended when security forces killed hundreds and possibly thousands of protesters in Tiananmen Square. He served five years in prison in the 1990s and was exiled to the United States in 1998. Under Chen and predecessor Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan offered strong support for mainland dissidents, opening its doors to a number of prominent figures from the Tiananmen protest movement, including Wang and fellow student leader Wuer Kaixi. [...]. ^ top ^



New hike in reserves for banks (China Daily)
The central bank raised the amount of money that banks must hold in reserve by 50 basis points on Sunday [...] to mop up excessive liquidity and control inflation in the world's second-largest economy. The People's Bank of China, the central bank, announced on Sunday that the measure wil be effective from April 21. This is the tenth increase since the beginning of 2010. The new reserve requirements for large commercial banks will be 20.5 percent. It's estimated that the move will soak up about 376.4 billion yuan ($57.66 billion) from the market, and affect lending of about 1.71 trillion yuan, Dong Xian'an, chief economist with Peking First Advisory, said. Abundant liquidity this month makes the decision necessary, with 900 billion yuan of central bank bills due to return, analysts said. The measure came after the central bank raised interest rates for the fourth time since October on April 5, and the consumer price index (CPI), [...], rocketed to 5.4 percent in March, a 32-month high, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released on April 15. Although the CPI showed a month-on-month decline in March of 0.2 percent, rising international grain and oil prices have increased concerns over inflation. The CPI for March was well above the government's 2011 target of 4 percent and fueled expectations of further interest rate hikes and lending restrictions. The government has made reining in prices a key task for this year. [...] The economic data showed China's growth still maintained a strong momentum and confirmed the resolve of policy makers to curb inflation through tightening measures, said Liu Erhfei, country executive of Bank of America Merrill Lynch in China. He expected that the monetary environment will become tighter during the year and dismissed concerns over economic slowdown. The economy grew by a faster-than-expected 9.7 percent in the first quarter, according to NBS on April 15. The central bank reported a day earlier that M2, the broad measure of money supply including cash in circulation and deposits, grew 16.6 percent in March, and new yuan loans for the month also exceeded estimates at 679.4 billion yuan. [...]. ^ top ^

SMEs bear brunt of govt inflation fight (Global Times)
The latest move by China's monetary regulators to raise banks' reserve ratio requirements, the fourth this year alone, appears more aimed at seizing liquidity than at really taking a tilt at inflation, analysts cautioned on Monday. Relying on such an approach to curb runaway inflation risks harms small businesses that employ 80 percent of the workforce, they argued. The People's Bank of China (PBC), the country's central bank, announced it would raise the required reserve ratio for banks by 50 basis points to 20.5 percent from Thursday. This will be the fourth increase of the year and the seventh since October. [...] Liu Shangxi, deputy director of the Finance Research Institute under the Ministry of Finance, told the Global Times on Monday, "The policy is really a symbolic move to rein in inflation. It reduces the total amount of money on the market, but more specific measures should be taken, such as punishing speculation on agricultural produce." The consumer price index (CPI) [...] rose by 5.4 percent in March< from a year earlier, […]. The increased bank deposit reserve reduces amounts available for loans, which will mainly affect small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Liu said. As banks tighten lending, SMEs will feel the brunt of the storm as some of them already face financing difficulties, he added. Huang Hongwei, a manager of Beijing-based Mediva Company, which exports tiles, told the Global Times that small and medium-sized businesses were simply finding bank loans increasingly inaccessible. "The prices of our products have increased by more than 10 percent in recent months due to inflation, and our sales dipped," Huang said, [...].> China's inflation was supercharged by a loose monetary policy that began in 2009 during the global financial crisis. At the time, Beijing moved aggressively to pass a 4 trillion yuan stimulus package to prop up the country's economic growth through excessive bank lending. [...]. ^ top ^

PBOC governor says foreign reserves excessive (China Daily)
China's huge stockpile of foreign exchange reserves, the world's largest, have become excessive and the government must diversify investments using the reserves, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, said [...] on Tuesday. The country's foreign exchange reserves swelled by nearly $200 billion in the first quarter of this year to more than $3 trillion, indicating hefty capital inflows, and the government has so far focused on investing mainly in US dollar assets, including US Treasures [...] "The State Council has required a cut in excessive accumulation and good management of the funds accumulated, including diversification of investments," Zhou was quoted [...]. To keep the yuan exchange rate stable in a capital account control system, the PBOC injects huge amounts of yuan into the banking system by buying foreign currencies from commercial banks. The central bank then soaks up the excess yuan in the system via open-market operations and higher bank deposit reserve requirements. This is to prevent the money from flowing into the economy and fuelling inflation. [...] Chinese economists have urged the government to buy more assets in other currencies, such as euro and yen, as well as to invest in strategic goods such as oil and non-ferrous metals. [...]. ^ top ^

Why is foreign investment still strong in China? (People's Daily Online)
According to the statistics released by China's Ministry of Commerce, China approved 5,937 new foreign-invested companies in the first quarter, up 8.8 percent year on year, and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in China has increased with a 29.4 percent year-on-year rise in the first quarter to 30.34 billion U.S. dollars, By the end of March, China had approved 716,578 foreign-invested companies and used 1.08 trillion U.S. dollars of FDI. [...] "The quick increase in foreign investment introduced by China in the first quarter was within the expectation because China has a big market as well as a large population. [...]" said Zhang Hanya, the president of the Investment Association of China. He also pointed out that some of China's regulations on foreign investment in recent years did make some small foreign companies unhappy, [...]. Zhang said the world is currently walking out of the shadow of the financial crisis and needs more liquidity. Therefore, China, with its stable politics situation, fewer natural disasters and better environment for investment, has automatically become the priority for foreign investors [...]. However, the major driver behind the increase in FDI in the first quarter of this year is due to the attractiveness of the domestic economy, said Mei Xinyu, a researcher from China's Commerce Ministry. Analysis emphasizes that despite the downturn the global economy, foreign enterprises in China are generally doing pretty well due to the quick recovery of China's economy and the investment environment, which is constantly being enhanced [...]. China, which has [...] already become the "safe house" for international capital amid the financial crisis. [...] Commerce Minister Chen Deming said recently that China continues to blend into the global economy, complementing advantages with other countries and sharing benefits since joining into WTO. China has become an emerging market with a large scale and rapid growth, and China's strong development provides important force for Asia and even the whole world. Upward trend in foreign investment will continue. [...] Regarding how China will use foreign investment in next step, Mei Xinyu believes China's share of introducing foreign investment will be larger in the world, especially those investments targeting China's domestic market. [...] Some scholars say the inflow of international capital eases the shortage of capital in China as it continues on the road of development and promotes the rapid growth of the export-oriented economy. At the same time, foreign direct investment upgrades the technical level and organization efficiency of China's economy and increases the production efficiency of its national economy. [...]. ^ top ^

China releases 'green book' on rural economy (People's Daily Online)
The "China's Rural Economy Analysis and Forecast Green Book (2010-2011)" was jointly released by the Rural Development Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Rural Social Economic Survey Department under the National Bureau of Statistics [...]. The green book predicts that in 2011, China's grain output is expected to reach 550 million tons and that China's agricultural production will continue to maintain stability and the growth rate of agricultural product prices may drop to 9 percent. The green book pointed out that China's total grain output may reach 550 million tons under normal circumstances in 2011[...] and is expected to see increases for eight consecutive years. China's grain output reached 546 million tons in 2010, an increase of nearly 3 percent compared with 2009, which was a record high. In regards to the factors causing the grain production increase in 2010, the contribution rate of the production increase per unit yield to the grain production increase stood at nearly 2 percent while the expansion of sown area contributed to more than 28 percent of grain production. In regards to regional situations, the grain production increase is mainly from the northeastern region of China and Inner Mongolia, which contributed more than 89 percent of China's total grain production. ^ top ^

EU 'hyping' procurement bias (Global Times)
The EU Chamber of Commerce complained on Wednesday that European companies cannot penetrate China's huge public-procurement market, citing protectionism and discrimination, but analysts say the chamber was exaggerating the issue. In a report released on Wednesday by the trade body's Beijing branch, the chamber claimed that Chinese companies have gained an unfair advantage over foreign firms in the bidding process for government contracts. The report, based on surveys with more than 50 European companies, noted that factors such as a lack of transparency in the bidding process and impossible standards have barred foreign firms from much of the estimated $1 trillion "overall public-procurement market." [...]> The reports demand that Chinese authorities ensure all bidders have equal and timely access to information before bidding, enforce transparency and fair evaluation during the tendering process, and streamline the legal framework for public procurements. Gu Liaohai, a public-procurement expert with the Beijing Liaohai Law Firm, told the Global Times that since China has not yet signed on to the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), the country is entitled to give preference to domestic companies [...]. Yu An, a professor at the School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University, told the China Financial and Economic News that favoritism toward domestic products is a policy adopted by all the countries in the world, including GPA signees. [...] Xiao Lian, a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that Chinese companies have never been easily welcomed on their road to international expansion, as they have always been met with protectionism by foreign governments. "In a recent case, IT giant Huawei's bid in London's subway mobile phone signal project was eventually turned down by local authorities," Xiao told the Global Times. "And after Lenovo acquired IBM's PC business, the company began to face more and more difficulties in joining biddings for US government procurements." Xiao noted that the EU's complaint also highlighted the change of foreign companies' status in the Chinese market that they are no longer enjoying favoritism as they were in the early years of China's opening-up. Chen Deming, China's commerce minister, said at the Boao Forum for Asia annual meeting last week that Beijing hoped to see equal opening-up within the WTO, according to the Xinhua News Agency. [...]. ^ top ^



Premier receives miner's representation (Montsame)
The Prime Minister S.Batbold received Monday a representation of some 30 thousand self-employed miners who for many years used to work for the Nalaikh mine. The Premier told the visitors that want to hear their opinions instead of talking himself. Representing them, a head of trade unions of miners (TUM) A.Ganbold thanked the Premier for the audience and then requested to supply the Nalaikh mine and its workers with measuring facilities for shafts and protective masks. Other issues were touched upon such as compensations for miners, effective function of the Nalaikh's coal mine, coal and jobs labor protection and safety, difference of pensions of the retired miners who had served in army. Underlined that the government treats the miners in just the same way it does towards other workers, the Premier has said last week the cabinet decided to grant the miners compensations equal to doubled minimum salary. Saying to all that a priority has been given to exploitation of mineral deposits, coal trade, workers trainings and jobs increase, S.Batbold has obliged some officials to study the visitors' suggestions and proposals and to solve them. The cabinet will consider pensions difference matter, he added. Present at the meeting were Ts.Batbayar MP; B.Bayandelger, the governor of the city's Nalaikh district; A.Ganbold, the head of the TUM. ^ top ^

Madeleine Albright to visit (Montsame)
A former U.S Secretary of State Mrs. Madeleine Albright will visit Mongolia April 20-22 at an invitation of Mongolia's Premier S.Batbold. Mrs. Albright is working as a director of the Board of the National Institute for Democracy. In frames of the visit, Mrs. Albright will be received by the Premier S.Batbold on Thursday and then given banquet. The same day, she will meet N.Altankhuyag, the First Deputy Premier and a chairman of the Democratic Party (DP). Then Mrs. Albright will give a lecture themed "Success of Mongolian democracy: Role and importance in Asia" in a conference hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ^ top ^

Price of electricity and heat increase (Montsame)
At the cabinet meeting held Wednesday, a Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy D.Zorigt spoke about a a change made in tariffs of electricity and heat which are sold by the Regulatory Authority of Energy (RAE). The RAE has said the change is to rise electricity and heat prices but assured that the electricity nighttime tariffs will not go up for biggest factories and enterprisers, public places, apartments and paved roads, "Electric transport" company, and the change in heat cost will not affect factories, enterprisers and poor families' dwellings. ^ top ^

Civil movement members put up gers in Sukhbaatar square (
Members of three civil movements -United for Rivers and Lakes, Khuder River, and Gal Undesten... convergged on Sukhbaatar Square yesterday morning with 100 horsemen and horse carts and put up eight gers there. An earlier plan to demonstrate had been foiled by Bayanzurkh police who seized their gers on April 4. Members of the movements want a national discussion on the present situation, resignation of the Government, and dissolution of Parliament. Most of them are herders from Arkhangai, Uvurkhangai, Tuv, Khentii and Dundgobi aimags who want to protect these areas from mining. The head of the Ongi River movement, Ts.Munkhbayar, said those who held power were working against the interests of the people who elected them. “We want them to resign and to have a special election,” he said. Both the assembly and the putting up of gers in Sukhbaatar Square are in violation of orders, but the gers were still there on Wednesday afternoon. Another 300 horsemen are on their way to Ulaanbaatar from the western aimags to join those already here. ^ top ^

Tuul and Selbe rivers will be protected (Montsame)
The “Development of Tuul, Selbe rivers” project has been started by Mongolia's Ministry of environment and nature and S.Korean “Chungsuk engineering” company. For the time being, the administration of UB city and the company have been working on a plan aiming to equip the Tuul river's banks and on making technical-economic justification for repairing the Selbe river dam. All this will enable the sides to launch a “Complex of Tuul-Songino water resources” project to purify and use sewege waters, which come from Sonsgolon water plant near the city, and to determine waters pollution and to neutralize it at Songino, Altanbulag and in the Tuul river in 2012. Another plan is ready according to which fresh waters will be accumulated. It will be implemented by this Ministry and Japan. The complex erection will start in 2012 to put it into use three years later. ^ top ^

People offer flowers to the statue of Zorig (
The birthday of S.Zorig, a leader of the democratic movement who was killed in his prime with the murderer yet to be caught, was observed this morning in the way that has become a tradition, with family members, friends, political associates, members of Zorig Foundation and Civil Will Party, and ordinary people gathering at his statue and offering flowers. Among those who came were the Green Party leader D.Enkhbat, and the sister of Zorig, MP S.Oyun, with her son. She spoke to students of the Political Studies Faculty, where Zorig had taught, and discussed with them the draft law on election. ^ top ^


Jean Binder
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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