Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  16-20.5.2011, No. 371  
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Foreign Policy

China hits out at US human rights comments (Global Times)
Anyone who attempts to ignite unrest in China is on a "fool's errand", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday in response to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent harsh comments on China's human rights record. "Mentioning China in the same breath as other countries in West Asia and North Africa where volatility and turmoil have occurred recently is inappropriate. Anyone who attempts to bring the Middle East turbulence into China and to change the development road that the Chinese people have chosen for themselves is on a fool's errand," said Jiang Yu, the foreign ministry spokeswoman [...]. "I'm not surprised by Hillaryy's remarks, because she is a 'free imperialist' in the Democratic Party, who highly praises human rights and is prone to intervening in other countries," Da Wei, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations [...]. Zhou Qi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times that Clinton's remarks were "irresponsible" and "childish". In a poll conducted by on Friday, 86 percent of over 30,000 participants felt that Clinton acted discourteously as the top diplomat of the US and was disrespecting China [...]. Yang Bin, another researcher at CCASS, told the Global Times that the US has no right to criticize China, saying the US itself has a bad human rights record and has launched wars on other countries. ^ top ^

SCO FMs meet on regional peace, security (Xinhua)
Foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) met here Saturday on regional peace and security. During the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi lauded the SCO's contributions to promoting regional harmony and development as well as to the democratization of international relations since its inception 10 years ago. In the second decade of the 21st century, the SCO will meet more diversified challenges as unstable, uncertain and insecure factors are on the rise despite the mainstream world trend of peace and development, Yang said. The member states need to make continued efforts to consolidate their unity and mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation and strengthen strategic coordination in a bid to make greater contributions to world peace and security, he said. Having reviewed what the SCO has achieved in the past 10 years, the foreign ministers were of one mind that the SCO has raised its international profile and played a positive role in promoting regional peace and stability as well as the economic and social development of its member states. They agreed that in the current international situation, the SCO needs to further strengthen its internal mechanism and boost practical cooperation in such areas as security and economy [...]. ^ top ^

China criticised yet again (SCMP)
International criticism of China's human rights record issues got a little louder yesterday as the leaders of several European political parties warned that relations with Beijing would be adversely affected if the nation does not make changes to better safeguard such rights. The delegates were speaking at the Second China-Europe High-Level Political Parties Forum - a three-day gathering that started in Beijing yesterday and ends tomorrow in Tianjin [...]. European repreesentatives said they expected economic ties between the two sides to improve in the coming years, but they also noted that a large divide still exists. China's crackdown on dissent "will make things more difficult because people in Germany will ask, 'How can we trust a government that does not trust its people?'" said Markus Loning, Germany's human rights commissioner and the vice-chairman of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party. He went on to say he would speak with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about China's detention of internationally recognised artist Ai Weiwei, [...], but the rulee of law. If we want to have development, it is important for people to claim that they are protected," Loning said. He added that it is important to raise these types of concerns regarding crackdowns against people "who have openly said what they think." Martin Schulz, chairman of a socialist group in the European Parliament, also noted that it is important for China to abide by the international human rights charters that it has signed. ^ top ^

Latest China-EU trade frictions not trade war (Xinhua)
The latest trade frictions between China and the European Union (EU) do not amount to a trade war, said Ministry of Commerce (MOC) spokesman Yao Jian on Tuesday. It's not surprising for China and the EU to have trade disputes as the two sides have maintained large trade volumes over the past years, said Yao at a routine press release. "For some products, there might be a lasting legal disputes. But the total dispute ratio will be very low between 1 to 3 percent," he said. Yao's remarks came after the EU slapped its first-ever anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties on coated fine paper imported from China and China found that EU members had subsidized domestic production of potato starch exported to China [...]. As for the country's investigation iinto the potato starch from the EU, he explained that it was at the request of the China Starch Industry, which represents 98 percent of the industry's output. "The investigation, which lasted two and a half months, was in line with China's laws and WTO rules. We also adopted data from the EU enterprises," he added. The country said in an initial ruling that it will impose an anti-subsidy provision of the tariff on potato starch products imported from the EU effective from May 19, according to the MOC. ^ top ^

China, Pakistan reaffirm all-weather friendship (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Wednesday reaffirmed the two countries will maintain an all-weather friendship [...]. They are expected tto witness the signing of a number of cooperative documents between the two countries […]. Wen first welcomed Gilani to China, adding that his visit would enhance the China-Pakistan friendly cooperative relationship. According to Wen, the two sides had in-depth exchanges of views on bilateral relations as well as important international and regional issues."We have reached a broad consensus," he said. "I want to stress that no matter how the international situation changes, China and Pakistan will always be good neighbors, friends, partners and brothers," Wen added [...]. The two siddes signed three cooperative documents during the signing ceremony, including an agreement on economic and technical cooperation between China and Pakistan, Amendment to the Memorandum of Understanding on Crisis Management between the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) and the State Bank of Pakistan, and Addendum No. 2 to Lease Contract Sanduck Copper-Gold Project for Extension between Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd and Sanduck Metals Ltd […]. ^ top ^

China hopes China, Japan, ROK meeting produces positive results: official (Xinhua)
China hopes the upcoming leaders' meeting between China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK), will instill cooperation and produce positive results, a Chinese official said Wednesday. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will attend the fourth China-Japan-ROK Leaders Meeting from May 21 to 22 in Tokyo, Japan. "Premier Wen's attendance at the meeting is aimed to further promote the pragmatic cooperation in a wide range of areas among the three countries, deepen the development of China-Japan and China-ROK relations and make contributions to regional peace, stability and prosperity," Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue said at a news briefing. During Wen's stay in Japan, he will hold bilateral meetings respectively with Japanese Primer Minister Naoto Kan and ROK President Lee Myung-bak, Hu said [...]. Hu said China hopes trilateral cooperation will make new progress in four aspects. Firstly, China hopes the three countries can enhance cooperation in areas such as countering natural disasters and nuclear safety, strengthen the ability to fight natural disasters, effectively reduce risks and damages brought by disasters, Hu said. Secondly, China hopes the three parties can determine the priorities for the cooperation in trade and economy, sustainable development, society and culture, as well as the direction for the cooperation in important projects such as the joint study on the China-Japan-ROK free trade area and the China-Japan-ROK recycling economy demonstration base, Hu said. Thirdly, China expects the three countries to improve the trilateral cooperation mechanism by establishing an effective, normative and professional secretariat as early as possible, Hu said. Fourthly, China hopes the three parties can consolidate the political base for trilateral cooperation by communicating on important regional and international issues, enhancing coordination in international affairs and mutual trust, Hu said [...]. ^ top ^

EC President expects to address challenges together with China (Xinhua)
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said Wednesday here that he hopes the European Union (EU) and China will work together to address their common challenges. Van Rompuy made the remarks in his speech at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai [...]. He mentioned three aspects of the exchange, including innovation, urbanization and talents. In his speech, Van Rompuy suggested China and Europe establish another academic institute, besides the existing CEIBS in Shanghai and the China-EU School of Law in Beijing. Van Rompuy also highlighted the importance of bilateral trade between China and the EU [...]. Van Rompuy said that it is also necessary to establish a "China Chamber of Commerce" [...] to help Chinese investors to fully exploit the opportunities in the EU market [...]. ^ top ^

China central bank governor says IMF leadership should better reflect emerging markets (People's Daily Online)
China's central bank governor on Thursday said the high-level leadership structure of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should better reflect the changes in the global economic layout and emerging markets. The G20 has decided that the leaders and high-level managers of international financial organizations should be selected through open and performance-based programs and it will help the IMF chief to lead the fund more effectively, said Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), or the central bank. "Amid a very serious charge, Strauss-Kahn has resigned his position as the IMF chief, the IMF's effective operation is in trouble and I feel very sorry for that," Zhou said responding to a reporter's question on Strauss-Kahn's resignation [...]. The IMF said in a statement that its managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has resigned. Strauss-Kahn denied the charges in his letter of resignation, [...]. ^ top ^

General tells Pentagon: you are safe from P.L.A. (SCMP)
A top Chinese general rejected growing American concerns about China's military build-up, telling audiences at the National Defence University and the Pentagon that the People's Liberation Army is no threat and has no intention of challenging the US military [...]. But the reassurances by Chen during his high-profile visit to the United States were also accompanied by fresh, stern warnings against any future US arms sales to Taiwan, which underscored the fragile nature of the relationship. When asked by a reporter if US weapons sales to Taiwan would affect military ties between the two economic powers, Chen said: "My answer is affirmative. It will." As to how bad the impact will be, it will depend on the nature of the weapons sold to Taiwan," he added. The general said the arms sales amounted to US meddling in the "domestic" affairs of another country. Chen went on to deny during Wednesday's speech that Beijing had missiles on its southeast coast targeting Taiwan, merely defensive troops [...]. National Security Bureau Director Tsai Teh-sheng said that the missiles deployed in coastal areas targeting Taiwan had been "increasing in both quantity and capability, rather than decreasing" [...]. The general said there was still "a 20-year gap" between China's military and Western powers. "To be honest, I feel very sad after this visit, because I think, I feel and I know how poor our equipment is and how underdeveloped we remain," Chen said [...]. General Chen went on to say it was "very strange" that questions were raised about his country's military build-up when the same concerns were not voiced about the United States [...]. ^ top ^

Internet regulation a sovereign issue: FM (China Daily)
The way the Chinese government manages the Internet in accordance with law is a sovereign matter and foreign courts have no jurisdiction according to international law, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Thursday. The Chinese government's Internet management accords with international norms, and China always supports the development of the Internet and guarantees citizens' lawful freedom of speech, Jiang said at a regular news conference. Jiang's remarks referred to a lawsuit in which eight New York residents accused China's biggest search engine and the Chinese government of Internet censorship on Wednesday [...]. However, Yu Guofu, a partner with Beijing Shengfeng Law Firm, told China Daily that it still depends on how the United States defines its jurisdiction. Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo declined to comment. China is not the only country that faces the issue of how to supervise the Internet, because problems including online pornography, gambling and fraud have hampered its sound development or even threatened national security, analysts said. Almost every country in the world supervises the Internet, the difference lies in how they manage online information, said Wen Weiping, associate professor at the Department of Information Security of Peking University. The US government unveiled plans on Tuesday to work with other nations to make the Internet more secure and enable law enforcement bodies to work closely on cyber crime [...].. Cyber security experts have argued that the Internet cannot be a safe place until nations implement international agreements that better define and regulate cyber crime, provide oversight of the Internet, and set out new standards and rules for the industry [...]. ^ top ^

China to attend Non-Aligned Movement meeting (China Daily)
Senior Chinese officials will attend a ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement(NAM) in Indonesia next week, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. "We give much attention to the NAM and support its bigger role in international issues. With our participation in the meeting, we expect to boost solidarity and cooperation among developing countries," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement Thursday. The 16th ministerial meeting of the NAM will take place in Bali, Indonesia from May 23 to 27 [...]. She lauded NAM as an important mechanism for developing countries to seek self-improvement, an important channel to ensure common interests, and an important platform to exert influences on international issues. "It has played an indispensable and unique role," she said. Jiang stressed that China has consistently supported and paid significant attention to NAM, appreciated its principle of independence and non-alignment, and worked closely with it in international issues. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Crackdown on church continues (SCMP)
Beijing police detained 13 Christians yesterday in an ongoing action against one of the mainland's most influential unregistered churches as the congregation tried to worship outdoors in the centre of the capital for the sixth week running, [...]. Amid a heavy police presennce, the Shouwang Church followers were taken away when they tried to hold a Sunday service at a public plaza in the Zhongguancun commercial area. Scores of church members, many detained on previous Sundays for trying to meet outdoors, were confined to their homes over the weekend. The church's six leaders have been under house arrest for more than a month [...]. Shouwang, meaning "to keep watch", became homeless after official pressure forced its previous landlord to evict it last month [...]. The churrch has been seeking formal approval from the authorities to worship on its own property [...] but officials blockeed the move into the 1,500-square-metre office space. Four days ago, the church said in an online statement that more than 30 followers had been forced to move after their landlords had evicted them under government pressure, and nearly 10 lost their jobs because they refused to leave the church. It said these actions were against the law and the constitution, which guarantees religious freedom, and warned that church members may take legal action [...]. Inn solidarity with Shouwang, leaders of 20 unofficial mainland churches and Christian groups made an unprecedented appeal last week to the National People's Congress, calling for their right to worship freely to be upheld [...]. The auuthorities have largely tolerated small gatherings of unregistered churches but are wary of evangelical churches such as Shouwang, with its fast-developing and educated congregation [...]. ^ top ^

Locked up in an asylum - even if you're sane (SCMP)
The mainland still lacks a law governing the treatment of the mentally ill even though the process of drawing up such legislation started 26 years ago. The legal vacuum has been highlighted by a spate of high-profile scandals in which sane people have been locked up in psychiatric hospitals due to personal grudges or for challenging the authorities [...]. Suchh absurdities are caused by a glaring hole in mainland law that gives relatives, employers or the police the right to confine a person to a mental institution if a single psychiatrist says they are suffering from a mental illness. The consent of the person being confined is not required. However, doctors' diagnoses may be wrong, sometimes because not asking too many questions results in more patients and more money, and sometimes because they have come under government pressure to curtail the activities of dissidents. That means that sane people have almost no way of fighting against being locked up, especially as they are kept in almost complete isolation from the outside world, said Liu Xiaohu, a researcher at the Shenzhen-based non-government Equity and Justice Initiative. Their only chance of discharge rests with the people who confined them [...]. Professor Liu Xiehe, from Sichuan University and one of the key drafters of the long-stalled Mental Health Law, said he did not expect it would take so long when he began work on the legislation in 1985. He said that in three study sessions given by World Health Organisation specialists in the 1990s - organised by the Ministry of Health, which has been spearheading the legislative effort - the major split between mainland and foreign doctors had been over involuntary committal [...]. Since 2000, the ministry has attached more importance to the legislation, translating foreign laws and carrying out nationwide surveys [...]. Xie Bin, from the Shanghai Mental Health Centre, said an investigation he conducted in 2003 found that just a fifth of people staying in mainland psychiatric clinics were there voluntarily. Sixty per cent were taken to the facility against their will by relatives acting as their guardians, and the other 20 per cent were brought there by police" [...]. ^ top ^

Ai Weiwei sees wife for first time since detention (SCMP)
Maverick mainland artist and government critic Ai Weiwei was permitted to see his wife for the first time after being detained for 42 days without charge, his sister said yesterday. It is believed to be the first face-to-face meeting between 53-year-old artist and a family member since his incarceration on April 3. Police took Ai's wife Lu Qing to a secret location on Sunday, but their conversation was monitored and they could not talk about his case, Gao Ge said. Before the 15-minute meeting, Ai [...] had not been seen since border police took him away at the Beijing airport last month. "For such a long time, Weiwei has had no idea what is going on in the outside world and Lu Qing was unable to talk about those things," Gao said. "There were people taking notes throughout. "Lu Qing doesn't know anything about his situation in custody. She only knows Weiwei is taken care of and has enough to eat" [...]. "He was definitely not tortured, this is what Weiwei said himself," she said. After meeting Ai's mother and wife yesterday, lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan, a friend of Ai, said on his blog that the artist appeared to be under "residential surveillance" [...]. Citing Ai's wife, Liu said the artist, who suffers from diabetes, was in reasonable health and was given checks and medications daily [...]. Jerome Cohen, a China law expert at New York University, said Ai had been detained for longer than Chinese law permits. The law allows the police to hold a suspect for up to 30 days and prosecutors then have seven days to decide whether to approve formal arrest [...]. "He has become a poster boy for the Chinese criminal justice system," Cohen said. "It's an opportunity for the world to see the formal Chinese criminal justice system in action, if they're allowed to see it" [...]. "His final contribution to human rights may be that his own case illustrates how bad the criminal justice system is," Cohen said. ^ top ^

Illegal farmland confiscation on the rise (China Daily)
As instances of farmland being illegally confiscated soar, China is tightening regulations on home demolitions to prevent forced relocations, the country's land watchdog said. In the first quarter of this year, more than 9,800 cases of illegal land use were detected, involving more than 1,700 hectares of farmland, 2.5 percent more than the same period last year, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Land and Resources. According to a notice released on the ministry's website on Sunday, the ministry is now requiring local authorities to strengthen supervision of demolitions and to immediately launch special action against illegal demolitions. Demolition must be stopped immediately when there has been insufficient compensation for farmers or when the living conditions of the farmers cannot be guaranteed, the notice said [...]. Heads of the local land departments should be held accountable to carry out the central governments' policies. Illegal confiscation has become a large threat to the land rights of Chinese farmers, and conflicts related to land can even influence the stability of the country's rural society […]. "The land disputes in rural China are devastating, because the land supply cannot meet the soaring demand for economic development," Liu said. The revenues of local governments depend heavily on land transfer fees, which causes local authorities to use powers to demolish residents' properties, he added. Forcible demolitions are common with illegal land use, which has long been a widespread issue across the country [...]. ^ top ^

China closes stem-cell gap with the West (SCMP)
China's aggressive drive to close the gap with the West in stem-cell research is paying off after five years of heavy investment in a branch of science free of the tight regulatory constraints and intense debate over moral issues that hamper experimental work elsewhere.

A decade ago, China had 37 stem-cell research papers published by reputable journals. By 2008, it was 1,116, the China Medical Tribune said. It now ranks fifth in the world in both the number of stem-cell patents filed and research papers published. And its numbers are growing faster than in any other nation [...]. The government has poured billions of yuan into the research hoping to find innovative cures to chronic and deadly illnesses such as heart disease, liver failure and Parkinson's disease. "China is aggressively investing in biomedical sciences in general, and particularly stem-cell research. Not only will it serve as a way to flex its muscle as a technological powerhouse but also a means to ultimately bring forth a knowledge-based economy," said Professor Ronald Li, director of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Consortium at the University of Hong Kong […]. Although the trend is encouraging, the fever for stem-cell research and treatment also has problems. Many mainland hospitals are not waiting for clinical approval. They are offering stem-cell injections for diseases such as cerebral palsy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes called Lou Gehrig's disease. The ballyhoo is attracting thousands of desperate foreigners ready to pay for treatments that are untested and successes are sketchy at best [...]>. Unlike in the West, few people ask where those stem cells are from. Many mainland researchers and doctors profess not to know the source. But a reading of articles in mainland journals leaves little doubt that many cells are from induced abortions, harvested from fetuses aged from five weeks to six months. ^ top ^

HIV/AIDS sufferers rejected by hospitals (China Daily)
People living with HIV and AIDS in China are routinely denied treatment in mainstream hospitals and face widespread medical discrimination due to fear and ignorance about the disease, according to a study released on Tuesday by the United Nations' International Labour Organization (ILO). Healthcare providers deny treatment for sufferers or transfer them to designated infectious disease hospitals, falsely citing the protection of other patients or using a lack of resources as an excuse, the report said. "Stigma and discrimination in the healthcare system largely stemming from low awareness is potentially more deadly than AIDS itself," Ann Herbert, director of the ILO Office for China and Mongolia, said [...]. Meng Lin, the coordinator of the secretariat of the China Alliance of People Living with HIV/AIDS, said denial of surgery was one of the most pressing issues facing HIV-infected people. They were also denied medical treatment for simpler procedures such as hemorrhoids and cleaning and stitching of wounds [...]. Meng also said thaat "unnecessary" HIV testing before surgery had left many sufferers feeling exposed and reduced their chances of getting proper medical services. A survey led by Lu Fan, director of policy research and information at the national AIDS center, the organization that helped the ILO with the report, found 12.1 percent of the HIV-infected interviewees had experienced denial of medical treatment at least once [...]. Wang Ning, deputy director at the natiional AIDS center, said patients could file official complaints to their local health administration if they were denied treatment due to discrimination. But "few dare to do so for fear of exposure and social discrimination", said an AIDS patient called Laoji in Beijing. Zhang Ke, deputy director of the infectious disease department at Beijing YouAn Hospital, said it is a designated hospital for people with HIV but is limited in terms of capacity and the treatment it can provide. The policy that people with HIV/AIDS should only be treated in designated hospitals is a root cause of discrimination, he said [...]. ^ top ^

Price of high-speed rail ticket still a mystery (People's Daily Online)
That nobody knows the ticket price weeks before the launch of the prestigious Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail link is becoming an increasingly sensitive and contentious issue in media. Both experts and passengers have called for a transparent mechanism in line with the national Price Law that stipulates when setting a price for goods or services that concern the interests of the people, the relevant authority must convene a public hearing. The railway ministry had failed to implement any such hearing before the 2008 Beijing-Tianjin high-speed rail link, wrote Zhang Guifa, a commentator in Jinan Daily, and called for a hearing before the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail concludes its trial runs at the end of June. Various guesses at the price of the 1,463-kilometer rail ticket range from 500 yuan ($76.8) to 900 yuan ($138.3) [...]. Railways minister Sheng Guangzu told People's Daily on April 13 the train would run at 250 or 300 kilometers per hour, significantly lower than the purported 380 kilometers promised when the railway was designed and built. Two types of ticket would follow the two different speeds, Sheng said, mentioning "safety considerations" in the pricing [...]. The price of high-speed rail tickets should be lower than airlines to attract more passengers, Sun told the Global Times. There should be both luxury and cheap seats to ensure the largest number of citizens gained access to high-speed travel, he argued. "The price of train travel at 300 kilometers per hour should be about 600 yuan, while the 250 kilometers-per-hour train should be cheaper” [...]. "The main idea for the pricing of high-speed rail is to ensure more and more people can enjoy the nation's rapid transport development," he said [...]. ^ top ^

Another activist under investigation (SCMP)
Hu Jun, who is paralysed from the waist down, could become the latest rights activist to potentially be charged with inciting subversion in relation to the so-called Jasmine Revolution.

Hu - a main volunteer for the web portal Human Rights Campaign in China (HRCC), which speaks out for petitioners - was first put under "residence surveillance" on May 9 at his home in Changji, Xinjiang. Police said in a written notice that he was suspected of inciting subversion. On Monday, Hu received another written notice, this time from the Changji People's Procuratorate, informing him the case had been passed to prosecutors to decide whether to lay charges and telling him he had the right to hire a lawyer. Neither of these two documents specifies the grounds for the inciting subversion allegation, but Hu told [...] yesterday that he had been summoned to meet police five times since February [...]. Every time, the police asked him about online articles regarding a Jasmine Revolution and warned him to remove them from the internet. "I didn't write those articles, I only posted them online," Hu said. "I believe the Jasmine Revolution was just an excuse. They are more upset at HRCC, which has been an advocate for petitioners." While Chinese law allows for a case to proceed from "residence surveillance" to an assessment by prosecutors, skipping detention and arrest, the actual use of residence surveillance is rare and controversial. According to Hu, he was first thrown into jail in 1992, when he was convicted of economic fraud following a business dispute with the local Public Security Bureau. He was then made to labour in a coal mine as part of the sentence and became paralysed in an accident in the pit one year later. Hu was meant to be imprisoned for only two years, but ended up being jailed several times because he petitioned for compensation. He was released in 2008. Hu said police had asked him about HRCC funding and why the HRCC server was in the United States, and accused the group's organisers of colluding with anti- Chinese forces overseas [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing vows it will overcome 'issues' at dam (SCMP)
Beijing approved a comprehensive plan yesterday to cope with enormous challenges that have arisen from the controversial Three Gorges Dam, amid widespread concerns over its unfolding environmental and social impacts. The long-expected plan, which will be implemented over the next decade, was adopted at a State Council meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao. In a brief statement issued by Xinhua, the government said it still faces an uphill battle in dealing with the negative effects of the world's largest dam, considered by many critics to be the mainland's biggest white elephant. In a rare admission, it also said the government had been warned about many of the grave challenges faced by building the dam, long before its construction, but failed to find solutions over the years, Xinhua said [...]. Beijing also vowed that it was capable of repairing geological hazards, of cleaning up pollution, of completing the resettlement of 1.4 million people and of addressing a wide range of other urgent issues [...]. Beijing also promised that all of the people displaced by the gigantic project, from 20 cities and counties in Hubei and Chongqing, would be able to catch up with the average living standards of the two provinces by 2020. No other details of the plan were released [...]. But the plan was not received well yesterday by mainland environmentalists, who voiced doubts about the government's ability to avert what they saw as waiting disasters. "I don't believe the plan can solve any of the problems, given the authorities' poor record in heeding concerns about the project," said Dai Qing, a critic of the project [...]. Geologist Fan Xiao, based in Sichuan said many of the measures included in the plan would be difficult to implement because the project has too many conflicting functions. "We have seen the dilemma since authorities began to fill water in the reservoir behind the 185-metre-high concrete dam," he said. "If they want to generate power, then it will be difficult to provide enough water in down-river areas to ensure the safety of transport and water supplies.". ^ top ^

Crackdown on cities with major lead pollution (SCMP)
The mainland's top environmental watchdog has stepped up its crackdown on lead pollution after a spate of poisonings, saying it will stop approval of environmental assessment studies in cities with major pollution problems. The new notice issued by the Environmental Protection Ministry on Wednesday also said executives of companies using the toxic heavy metal element would be held accountable in cases of contamination. Xinhua reported that prefecture-level cities identified as having lead-poisoning problems would be heavily criticised and have environmental impact assessment applications for all new construction projects halted. Also, production would be immediately suspended if businesses were found to be heavy polluters. Local government leaders would also be held responsible [...]. But Professor Wang Canfa of the China University of Political Science and Law, said he was not impressed with the scale of crackdown. "This is merely a working notice alerting officials within the environmental protection system to pay attention to lead poisoning. It's not even a legally binding regulation," Wang said. He said the mainland had long banned large-scale environmental pollution, so the latest move just highlighted old regulations. "The government should set up a new anti-pollution law covering a wider sector by giving the public a formal legal weapon in seeking compensation for any bodily harm caused by environmental pollution," Wang said. "Only this will be enough of a deterrent to pressure businesses to behave.". ^ top ^

China trains grassroots officials to improve governance (Xinhua)
The Communist Party of China (CPC) is improving social management by training grassroots officials. More than 120 Party committee secretaries from townships, villages, neighborhoods and communities from the country's 31 provincial divisions are attending a training program here, said a statement from the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee on Thursday. The performance of grassroots officials will greatly affect the country's development and stability as well as people's trust in the government, the statement quoted Li Yuanchao, head of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, as saying. The party officials will study social management policies and guidelines issued by the central government and learn how to implement them at the local level, the statement said [...]>. They should be well-informed about what people find unsatisfactory, and use good communication skills to urge local people to express their requests in a legal and rational way, he said [...]. ^ top ^

Long may Wen fly the flag for reform (SCMP)
In a political system defined by shades of grey, Premier Wen Jiabao is a colourful character. His regular calls over the past year for political reform are in stark contrast to the firm stand of other senior Communist Party leaders that there will be no change. Questions abound as to the nature of his campaign and why he can voice such thoughts when others have been quickly silenced. What is of no doubt, though, is that he is holding the torch of reform high and ensuring the debate continues at the uppermost political echelons. Wen should be supported in his efforts [...]. President Hu Jintao has made the position plain - one party rule is here to stay. For Wen to be persistently reiterating the need for a rethink in such an environment may seem brave, even foolhardy. Yet within the country and outside [...] he has been publicly sharing his concept of political reform. Former senior leaders Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang were purged for their outspoken liberal remarks, but Wen has been able to continue. There are a number of plausible reasons for his actions, from his widespread popularity to the fact that he has less than two years left in office. His remarks are in keeping with rights found in China's constitution, including free speech. But the reality is different; the party puts itself above such laws. The crackdown suggests that Wen's thinking will have little sway, [...]. Still, the leadership recognises that with economic growth, people's expectations have changed. A mechanism has to be found to ensure voices can be aired and grievances properly handled [...]. While Wen's views have been given wide coverage in the foreign media, they have been paid little heed on the mainland [...]. Why, then, is Wen making the effort? There is talk he is trying to build on his legacy and further burnish his popular image. Whatever the reason, though, we trust he believes in what he is preaching. For someone of his authority and standing to be pushing for a more representative government is good. Keeping the call alive and making sure it continues among the leadership is essential. ^ top ^

Yangtze River diverted to ease drought in central China (People's Daily Online)
Water from China's Yangtze River was diverted to central China's Hunan and Hubei provinces on Wednesday to ease a lingering drought in the region. About 300,000 people living in the Huarong River valley near the city of Shishou in Hunan have had difficulty obtaining enough water for daily use, said Xue Jianhua, an official with the water resource bureau of Huarong County [...]. Covering an area of 1,679 square kilometers, the Huarong River runs into Hunan's Dongting Lake, China's second-largest freshwater lake. A lingering drought has been affecting parts of central and southern China for more than four months, leaving residents and livestock without drinking water and drying up rivers across the region. China's Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric power station, has been discharging larger amounts of water to help counter the severe drought in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. ^ top ^



Beijing listed among world's most water-scarce cities (People's Daily Online)
Beijing is now in a state of emergency, with per capita water resources at about 100 cubic meters, far less than the international alarm level of 1,000 cubic meters per head. It is reported that this drought, starting from 1999, has been the longest-lasting and most severe since New China was founded. Yesterday, on the occasion of the National Week of Water Conservation, the Beijing Water Authority published the current water situation and announced it would carry out a series of activities on a theme of "Improving Water Ecological Environment and Promoting the Use of Recycled Water in Beijing." Facing the shortage of water resources, the authority has taken a variety of measures to encourage residents to use recycled water, such as keeping the current low price of reclaimed water unchanged at one yuan per cubic meter. In addition, the households that use recycled water will be free of water resource and sewage charges [...]. In 2010, the use of reclaimed water reached 680 million cubic meters, accounting for 19 percent of the city's water supply, up 11 percentage points compared to that of 2005. By 2015, the total volume of reclaimed water is planned to be 1 billion cubic meters. ^ top ^



Shanghai to reform healthcare (China Daily)
The municipality of Shanghai kicked off a week-long debate on its draft plan to reform its medical and drug system, posting the plan online on Wednesday for public comment. In the plan, the government promised to set up a basic healthcare network covering urban and rural residents by 2020. Meanwhile, the city will enhance health management and improve residents' health as well as their quality of life. It will also develop medical technology and build the city into a medical center in Asia. The municipal government will provide basic medical service for the whole population, including the registered population and people who live in the city for more than six months, and will greatly increase its health funding to ease the financial burden on residents [...]. The plan will be addjusted based on public suggestions and the final version is likely to be issued in mid-April. "Shanghai is one of the leading cities to carry out healthcare reform. The city has abundant healthcare resources, high-level medical services as well as advanced medical technology," said Xu Jianguang, director of the Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau [...]. Faced with a large migrant poopulation, most of whom live in the suburbs, the city should adjust the administration of medical resources to meet the increasing demand, he said [...]. According to the plan, the city will take measures to deal with the problem of an aging society [...]. "In addition to being aan international metropolis, Shanghai is also an important port city, which means a higher risk of importing diseases […]" Xu said [...]. The city was also exploring wayss of improving the service of community-level hospitals and establishing the family doctor system. Family doctors will not only be able to offer home visits but also organize remote online consultations. In addition to the 307 commonly used medicines regulated by the health ministry on its essential drug list, the city added another 381 medicines. All of these drugs will be covered by medical insurance and sold at cost. ^ top ^



Nearly 60% of the total trade of Guangdong was processing trade last year (Guangzhou Daily)
On 16th May, the General Administration of Customs and the People's Government of Guangdong Province signed a Memorandum of Cooperation in Beijing to build a demonstration region in Guangdong for upgrading the processing trade industry. Wang Yang, said there are around 33 thousand processing trade enterprises in Guangdong at present. In 2010, the total processing trade of Guangdong reached 446.08 billion USD, and it comprises 56.9% of the province's total trade and 38.5% of the country's total processing trade. ^ top ^

1/3 of Guangzhou residents do not have Guangzhou hukou (Guangzhou Daily)
There are 12.7008 million residents in Guangzhou, with an average annual growth rate of 2.48%. Among them, 6.6372 million are male, i.e. 52.26%; 6.0636 million are female, i.e.47.74%. The ratio of male to female grows to 109.46 from 108.70 in 2000. 6.62% of the population are 65 years old or above, and it was lower than the national and provincial average. 37.48% of the populations do not have Guangzhou hukou. ^ top ^

Guangdong children suffer lead poisoning (SCMP)
Another case of excessive lead pollution has been uncovered on the mainland, this time in Guangdong, where a county government admits dozens of children are affected. Forty-four children and at least one adult in villages close to a battery factory in Zijin county, under the administration of Heyuan city, were found to have excessive lead levels in their blood, with tests showing lead levels as high as 600 micrograms per litre, far in excess of the nation's 100mcg limit, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday [...]. About 300 villagers undeerwent blood tests recently. The actual situation might be even worse, as more than 1,100 other villagers had been examined by Monday and many are still awaiting the results of their blood tests. County officials shut down the Sunnyway Battery Company's production on Sunday, accusing it of not having proper emissions control equipment or approval to produce dangerous goods [...]. Earlier this month, the cenntral government took over an investigation into lead pollution involving one of the biggest battery factories, in Deqing county, Zhejiang. At least 99 children were found suffering from lead poisoning. On Sunday, the Zijin county government released its first statement, saying only three of 199 villagers who had been tested were affected. But dozens of angry villagers doubted that result and rented a bus on Monday to take them to Guangzhou Children's Hospital for blood tests, according to the Nanfang Television Station [...]. Residents complained yesterday that locall governments had allowed the polluting factory to move into their rural community from Shenzhen five or six years ago. The firm has more than 1,200 workers and produces 10 million batteries annually [...]. ^ top ^



Tibet gov't chief rules out talks with illegal 'exile gov't' (Global Times)
Tibet's top government official on Thursday called the 14th Dalai Lama's "exile government" an illegal organization and ruled out talks with or about it. Padma Choling, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, said his government is the only legal government representing the Tibetans and that none of the world's countries recognize the "exile government." Choling said Tibet's feudal serfdom system, which is ruled by a conjoined political and religious authority, was abolished in 1959. "You said the Dalai Lama has picked a successor. But what he is going to succeed, and from whom?" Choling said while answering questions at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office in Beijing. "I am the eighth chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the only legitimate government elected by Tibetans since 1965," Choling added. Choling said that if talks with the Dalai Lama are held, the Chinese government will only talk about the future of the Dalai Lama and the people around him and that the Chinese government will not talk about the "exile government." The door is open for talks with the Dalai Lama as long as he truly relinquishes his stance of "Tibetan independence" and stops participating in separatist activities, Choling said. "The key is not what he says, but what he does," Choling said [...].> The Tibetan official said the Dalai Lama's retirement will only have limited effects on Tibet, [...]. He said the regional government and the Tibetans are confident and capable of maintaining social stability regardless of what the Dalai Lama says or does. "Whether he retires or not, the Dalai Lama is not allowed to sabotage the happy lives of the Tibetans," Choling said. The official said the Dalai Lama has not done anything good for the Tibetans since fleeing the country in 1959 [...]. Statistics show that Tibet's social and economic development surpassed the government's five-year target from 2005 to 2010 by the end of last year. ^ top ^



Legco vacancy scheme questioned (SCMP)
Fresh doubts have been raised about the government's controversial plan to scrap by-elections and fill mid-term vacancies in the Legislative Council by installing the next best-placed candidate [...]. Magnus Smidak, research and information officer of Britain's respected Electoral Reform Society, said in countries which have a system of proportional representation it was common for vacancies to be filled by the next-in-line candidate on their specific list. Under the government's proposal, announced on Tuesday, a seat held by a small party would automatically go to another party if its representative resigned or died and the small party would lose its presence in the legislature, Smidak said [...]. In the Hong Kong plan which takes effect next year [...] a vacant Legco seat as a result of the resignation or death of a legislator would be filled by the runner-up in the previous election. Candidates in geographical constituencies need a certain number of votes to be elected; when several candidates run on the same list, those ranked low on the slate miss out because the remaining votes are insufficient to earn them a seat. Observers worry this could lead to some unusual consequences [...]. Ma Ngok, a political scientist at the Chinese University, said the government proposal aimed at preventing lawmakers using by-elections to trigger what they see as a "referendum" and chose to play down the fact that it would unfairly undermine the representation of parties if lawmakers died or resigned during their tenure. In January last year, five Civic Party and League of Social Democrats lawmakers resigned to trigger by-elections they hoped would be a de facto referendum on political reform. But the other parties put up no candidates, and all five were voted back into office last May [...]. ^ top ^



Taipei looks within to project itself on the world stage (SCMP)
From chic styles to cuisine, from cinema to comics, Taiwan is trying to project its soft power across the globe in an effort to step out of Beijing's shadow [...]. "It's very imporrtant for Taiwan to employ soft power as a tool to attract support from other countries” [...]. For Taiwan, it makes sense to use soft power as an increasingly powerful China shows no sign of relenting in its efforts to wipe out the island's international presence, experts say [...]. "Soft power is paramount to Taiwan's efforts to pursue its diplomatic objectives," said Elizabeth Larus, an expert on Chinese and Taiwanese soft power at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. "Taiwan's soft power helps keep it from being marginalised in the international community." Humanitarian aid is one area where Taiwan is becoming a force to be reckoned with. President Ma Ying-jeou, who often refers to the value of soft power, said this month that Taiwan had pledged about NT$5.7 billion ($1.54 billion) for quake and tsunami-hit Japan in a record donation of foreign aid by the island [...]. "Taiwan has redirected aid that oncee built government buildings and stadiums for diplomatic partners to humanitarian aid," she said. China's soft power efforts partly focused around the offer of a societal model that combined a free economy with a conservative political system. Here Taiwan could present a viable alternative, analysts argued. "While dictators and other authoritarian-leaning regimes may favour China's model, many democratic-leaning leaders in developing countries favour the Taiwan method," Larus said [...]. Paradoxically, ssome observers believe that Taiwan is not really pushing its soft power as much as it could do, due to a feeling that the odds are stacked against it, and any effort is in vain in the face of crushing rivalry from Beijing."There's a kind of collective shrug at the shoulders. The inclination towards proactive behaviour seems to be lacking in Taiwan," said Gary Rawnsley, a China specialist at the University of Leeds. It may be hard to measure the benefits of soft power, but it is still worth pursuing, according to experts” [...]. ^ top ^

Ma marks three years in office (SCMP)
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday marked the end of his third year in office by trumpeting his government's effort to uphold its sovereignty, promote human rights and protect the environment. Analysts said the remarks, in a high-profile speech in the southern city of Tainan, were Ma's attempt to canvass support from the pro-independence camp's traditional power base ahead of January's presidential election [...]. "In the past three years, we have signed 15 agreements with the mainland, and do any of these agreements fail to place Taiwan in priority and benefit the public?" Ma said [...]. Ma [...] said some people had criticised him for selling out Taiwan to the mainland by signing those agreements. "Can they tell me which of these agreements are pro-China and selling out Taiwan?" he asked, referring to the series of pacts [...] signed since he took office as president on May 20, 2008. Ma said because of his mainland engagement policy, cross-strait tensions [...] had been reduced. And with improved cross-strait ties, Taiwan had reached out to the world in the past three years, helping the island uphold its sovereignty. Ma stressed the reason to improve ties with the mainland [...] was to seek peace and prosperity for the island [...]>.Ma also spoke on the government's efforts to promote human rights, including revising and instituting laws that fit in with United Nations human rights conventions. For the sake of environmental protection, he chose to drop a prominent petrochemical complex project, a decision he believed would ensure Taiwan's sustainable development. He also noted a gradual improvement of the island's economy since he took office, [...]. George Tsai Wei, professor of political science at China Culture University in Taipei, said, however, that continuous and systematic contact with people in southern Taiwan was a must if Ma was to gain support from them [...].. "Ma also hopes to use the opportunity to canvass support from the young people or the so-called first-time voters, […]. About 1.3 million young people, who will have reached 20 years of age, will vote for the first time in the presidential poll on January 14. Both Ma and Tsai are aggressively courting this group of voters. ^ top ^



China protests EU anti-dumping duties on imports (China Daily)
China opposes the European Union's decision to impose its first-ever anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties on imports from China, said Ministry of Commerce (MOC) spokesman Yao Jian on Saturday. Yao made the remarks in a statement on the MOC website after the EU announced its anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties on Chinese coated fine paper [...]. The EU has violated the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules by imposing both anti-subsidy and anti-dumping trade remedies on the same goods, Yao said. The Chinese government and enterprises provided much evidence to show the coated fine paper industry in China is a competitive one where market economy principles are applied and the government never intervened in company operations or goods pricing, Yao said. The EU ruling contravened many WTO rules and seriously impaired the interests of Chinese enterprises, Yao said. China and the EU should oppose trade protection, avoid abuses of trade remedies and properly tackle trade frictions through negotiations, Yao said. China will carefully study and evaluate the final ruling and reserve its right to take legal action accordingly to protect the interests of Chinese enterprises, Yao said [...]. The dual duties would last for the nnext five years and could be extended if the expiry leads to a recurrence of injury to the European paper industry, the European Commission said [...]. ^ top ^

China in hunt for Russian reactors (SCMP)
China is in tough price negotiations with Russia to buy a new generation of nuclear reactors that are more fuel-efficient and safer than current generators, according to a senior Chinese nuclear engineer. Beijing is adopting a two-pronged strategy of imported and self-built technology to develop so-called fourth-generation, or "fast" nuclear reactors. Its plan is to commission the first commercial-scale demonstration unit in around a decade and to mass-produce the reactors in two decades. China has long had ambitions to become a big user of nuclear energy to fuel the rapidly growing economy that is critical to maintaining social stability. It is also seeking to become a major exporter of nuclear power equipment by building plants, mostly in developing countries. Beijing is in talks with the Russian state-backed nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly, Atomstroyexport, to buy two 800MW fast reactors, said Xu Mi, [...]. Xu is chief engineer of the experimental fast reactor programme at the China Institute of Atomic Energy. According to an October 2009 agreement signed by Beijing and Moscow, construction on the two reactors was set to start in August this year, in Sanming, Fujian province. But Xu said construction is now expected to begin in 2013, with completion of the units in 2018 and 2019 [...]. But he said the experience of importing proven Russian technology would help substantially lower the construction cost of self-developed fast reactors in China. Together with the imports, the institute last year made plans to begin construction of a self-built reactor in Sanming in 2017, with commissioning in 2023 [...]. A 2.5 billion yuan (HK$2.99 billion), 65MW experimental fast reactor built by the institute and its Russian technology partner Afrikantov, near Beijing, started producing electricity in July last year. Fast reactors burn uranium 60 times more efficiently than reactors available in the commercial market, thus extending the usable life of the world's uranium resources [...]. ^ top ^

Piracy of software declines in China (China Daily)
China's software piracy rate dropped 2 percentage points from 2009 to 2010, but the commercial value of the illegitimate software last year was up by 1.55 percent, to 130.94 billion yuan ($20.1 billion), a new survey shows. The survey by Internet research firm Chinalabs said the overall piracy rate declined from 14 percent to 12 percent. The State Intellectual Property Office commissioned Chinalabs to track such data since 2005 [...]. Losses caused by the piracy accounted for 9 percent of the Chinese software market in 2010, down from 12 percent in 2009, according to the survey. The decline in the piracy rate was attributed to government campaigns to increase the use of legitimate software, the emergence of cheaper products offered by domestic companies, the wider availability of free programs and to more diversified software distribution channels. The survey's report called for continuous support from governments and large companies in promoting legitimate software, which will reassure the software industry and guide consumers. Zhang Qin, executive secretary of the China Association for Science and Technology, said China's software industry is undergoing a change in its development mode [...]. However, he warned against complacency over the decline in the piracy rate because the number of unlicensed software installations continued to grow. Earlier this month, the Office of the US Trade Representative said China was making progress in fighting online piracy, but it kept the country on its annual "priority watch list" for weak protection of intellectual property rights [...]. The report said China's piracy rate dropped from 79 percent in 2009 to 78 percent last year. It put the commercial value at $7.779 billion. ^ top ^

China cuts US debt holdings for fifth month (SCMP)
China, the biggest foreign holder of United States Treasury bonds, trimmed its holdings for a fifth straight month in March as American lawmakers grappled with runaway government debt that is about to reach its legal limit. The mainland owns US$1.145 trillion in Treasuries, down US$9 billion, or less than 1 per cent, from the previous month, according to US government data released on Monday. Beijing's concern that the securities may become more risky because of the US' deficits and debt burden prompted its call this month for President Barack Obama's administration to lay "a solid fiscal foundation" for long-term growth. China is likely to reduce its holdings of US treasuries over the next few years to better diversify its foreign reserves and improve its purchasing power of commodities and fuel sources, according to economists [...]. "China will consider the sensitivities in the US by cutting holdings in some months and increasing it in other months. However, the theme will be a gradual reduction," Shi said [...]. But the diversification has to be done carefully, since news that China will reduce its holdings would affect Treasury prices, causing China losses. Lawrence Lau Juen-yee, head of China Investment Corp's Hong Kong office, said last week that US Treasuries were a safe investment [...]. Lu Ting, from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, said buying US Treasuries did give some protection as inflation in the US was quite low and the purchasing power of the US dollar in the US could be preserved [...]. ^ top ^

Property prices still rising in most cities (China Daily)
More tightening measures may be introduced by the government if property prices and transactions in second and third-tier cities continue to rebound, an industry insider warned on Wednesday. Property prices in April rose year-on-year in 67 of 70 major cities surveyed, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Smaller cities recorded higher increases than larger metropolitan areas. Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, posted the biggest increase in property prices of the 70 cities, up 9.3 percent in April from a year earlier [...]. As local governments in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have introduced rigorous restrictions on buying property, investors are turning their attention to second and third-tier cites, pushing up prices [...]. According to the China Index Academy, 77 cities of the 100 it monitors saw prices rise in April from March. A 0.4 percent rise in prices was recorded, on average, for the 100 cities. However, price growth in big cities showed signs of slowdown. Prices rose in Beijing by 2.8 percent year-on-year last month, compared with 4.9 percent for March, while prices in Shanghai gained 1.3 percent in April, compared with 1.7 percent for March, the NBS statistics show [...]. Since the end of last year the government has launched a slew of measures, including raising mortgage rates for second-home buyers and restricting the number of homes a family could purchase in some cities, to cool the property market [...]. Some property developers will employ a different strategy than just cutting prices to win customers. "The market is still not clear at the moment," said a marketing chief at Runze Real Estate Development Co, who declined to be named. "What we can do is adjust our product line to meet the demands of buy-to-live buyers, following the purchasing restrictions in Beijing" [...]. But some experts expressed doubts over the long-term effect of tightening measures. "The policies may have some effect on property prices, but it's not a fundamental solution," Mao Yushi, a celebrity economist, said. He attributed surging property prices to unbalanced income distribution. "No matter how high prices are, there are always people who can afford to buy," he said. Buying property, he added, is the fastest way to make money in China because of limited investment channels. ^ top ^

China inaugurates national tourism day, hopes to fuel tourism boom (Xinhua)
The government announced last month that the newly established tourism day will fall on May 19 each year, the date when Xu Xiake started writing his famous travel books [...]. Many believe China's decision to mark the day reflects the growing importance of tourism in the country's ongoing economic restructuring. Tourism is among the least energy-consuming and polluting industries, which is in line with China's major task for the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) to transfer its economy from high resource-consuming to environmental-friendly, said Wei Jie, a professor with Tsinghua University. Meanwhile, the industry can use the massive labor force no longer needed by industries that have gone through technology-driven transformations, he said. According to a report from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, tourism can drive growth in as many as 110 sectors, including food, hotel and transportation [...]. Tourism revenues rose 20 percent year-on-year to 1.55 trillion yuan (about 238 billion U.S. dollars) in 2010. Domestic trips jumped 11 percent to 2.1 billion, while inbound trips increased 6 percent to 134 million, making China the third largest tourism destination in the world, according to data from the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) [...]. Zhu said that the day will help raise awareness of the importance of travelling, revive people's desire to travel and create a better environment for tourism [...]. ^ top ^

Profits of Chinese SOEs rose 24.2% year-on-year in January-April (Xinhua)
China's state-owned enterprises (SOEs) continued to expand in the first four months of this year, but at a slower pace, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said on Thursday. The operating revenues of non-financial SOEs dipped 1.9 percent in April from March, but the total operating revenue of the country's SOEs in the first four months rose 24 percent year-on-year to 11.12 trillion yuan (1.71 trillion U.S. dollars), MOF said in a statement on its web. Profits from those non-financial SOEs rose 24.2 percent from the same period last year to 712.59 billion yuan from January to April, compared to a 24.1 percent year-on-year increase in costs, which stood at 10.44 trillion yuan, according to MOF. The net profit margin on sales for non-financial SOEs was 4.8 percent in the first four months, down 0.1 percentage point from a year ago. Inventory level, a key indicator of a company's future growth, was up 25.3 percent from a year earlier. In the first four months, non-financial SOEs turned in taxes of 1.01 trillion yuan, up 27.9 percent year-on-year. The building materials, chemical, non-ferrous metals and petroleum industries enjoyed notable increases in profits in the first four months of this year, while the real estate and iron and steel sectors reported declines in profits [...]. ^ top ^

Japan's nuke crisis boosts Chinese aquatic product export (China Daily)
China's aquatic product exports rose significantly in March, as Japan's nuclear leak crisis prompted consumers to look for other sources, official data showed on Thursday. Exports of shellfish, shrimp and other aquatic products jumped to $1.28 billion in March, up 63.8 percent from the same period last year, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) said. Exports in the first quarter increased 35 percent year-on-year to 905,500 tonnes worth $3.61 billion, an increase of 36.3 percent. Japan's demand for imported aquatic products surged after the nuclear crisis dealt a heavy blow to its fishing industry. Consumers in Europe and the United States also turned to China for uncontaminated products, MOA said [...]>. The MOA estimates exports will maintain steady growth in 2011. Despite the surge, the ministry said the aquatic product trade faces huge challenges as the global economy is not stable, and the pressures of environmental issues and rising labor costs have intensified. ^ top ^



Development bank opens (Montsame)
A ceremony to open the Development Bank (DB) took place Thursday with a participation of officials of the Ministry of Finance, the National Development and Innovation Committee, and the State Property Committee. Five experts from the Republic of Korea will work in the DB's management team. During the ceremony, a head of the DB's Representative Managing Board Ch.Khashchuluun has underlined that a half of the management team and all the executive workers are the Mongolians. As of present, the DB is located in the 2nd building of the government, a previous building of the Ministry of Finance. In the first turn, the DB will start working with 40-50 workers and experts expected to rise to some 100 people in future. ^ top ^

Parliament refused Minister Zorigt's resignation- second time the charm (UB Post)
The MPs Gankhuyag, Erdene and Bayarsaikhan have demanded that Zorigt, Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy, step down from his post. The issue was discussed on Friday's session of the SGK. The three MPs have listed 7 reasons for the Minister's resignation. Prime Minister Batbold and Ministers of the Government were present during Friday's session and replied to the three MPs questions. The Prime Minister stated that Minister Zorigt's resignation should not be politically discussed as the aim of the collaborative government is to co-operate efficiently and productive and achieve targets thus whether the outcome be good or bad, both parties should be equally responsible. Some MPs defended Minister D.Zorigt whilst others declared that his work and attitude were unacceptable. According to the Standing Committee on Economy, out of the 41 votes collected 35, or 85.4%, were for Minister Zorigt. It is the second time that the decision went positively for Zorigt after he had been appointed as Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy, ensuring he will stay at his post for a third term. ^ top ^

Ivanhoe gearing up for construction of main project, posts US$ 429.5 million loss (UB Post)
Ivanhoe Mines reported a US$492.5 million net loss in the first quarter, primarily due to the revaluation of a derivative security as the company worked on building the huge Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold-silver complex in Mongolia. The company, which owns two-thirds of Oyu Tolgoi, said Friday that overall construction was about 15 per cent complete at the end of March ... slightly ahead of schedule. The loss, reported in U.S. currency, was the equivalent of 79 cents per share and compared with a net loss of $193.9 million or 43 cents per share in the first quarter of 2010. The quarter included a $432.5-million loss related to a change in the fair value of a derivative. Exploration expenses were $46.2 million, down from $71.4 million in the first quarter of 2010. Only about $13.5 million of the exploration expenses were in Mongolia, while $30.4 million was incurred by Ivanhoe Australia. Revenue from coal sales by Ivanhoe's publicly traded subsidiary South Gobi Resources was $20.2 million. That was up from $13.9 million in the first quarter of 2010 but down from $41.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. During the quarter, Ivanhoe generated US$1.18 billion from a rights offering to shareholders. At the end ofthe quarter, Ivanhoe had $1.9 billion of cash and as of May 13 its cash position was $1.6 billion. ^ top ^

State head receives EU's Delegation (Montsame)
The State Head Ts.Elbegdorj received Tuesday a visiting delegation headed by Paolo Bartolozzi, a chair of the European Parliament's (EP) Central Asia and Mongolia Group.The President has pointed out Mongolia set an example in its region of transmitting into the democracy and market economy and of strengthening justice and human rights. He has said the relations and cooperation between Mongolia and the EU have been widening for 20 years tied up with common valuables and democracy's ideology for the sake of global peace and stability. "We thank the European Union for supporting the democracy of Mongolia. The bilateral agreement on partnership and cooperation will bring the cooperation into a new level and will create a legal environment for developing the ties in all spheres. I believe the agreement will be signed within this year," the State Head has said. Ts.Elbegdorj has asked the EU to consider a matter on establishing a permanent representative in Ulaanbaatar.In response, Mr. Bartolozzi has expressed thanks to the President for the audience, and hoped the agreement on partnership and cooperation will be signed soon. He has mentioned about a successful visit of the President paid last year to the EU, and said the EU will continue its assistance to and collaboration with Mongolia. Some officials of the delegation have asked The President about such matters as property privatization, students exchange with European countries, opportunity to receive EU tourists.Present at the meeting were G.Batkhuu, a Vice Speaker; L.Purevsuren, an advisor to the President, and other officials. ^ 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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