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
  30.5-3.6.2011, No. 373  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

China opposes Vietnam oil, gas exploration in China's jurisdictional sea area (Global Times)
China opposes Vietnam's exploring oil and gas in China's jurisdictional area of the South China Sea, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Saturday."China's stance on the South China Sea is clear and consistent. We oppose the oil and gas operations conducted by Vietnam, which have undermined China's interests and jurisdictional rights in the South China Sea and violated the consensus both countries have reached on the issue," Jiang said in a statement. Jiang made the remarks responding to a recent report saying that Hanoi claimed Chinese marine surveillance vessels interfered with Vietnam's oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea and accused Beijing of violating its sovereignty. "What relevant Chinese departments did was completely normal marine law-enforcement and surveillance activities in China's jurisdictional sea area," Jiang said. "China has been committed to safeguarding the peace and stability in the South China Sea. We are willing to work together with relevant parties to seek a solution to related disputes and implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea," Jiang said. ^ top ^

Hanoi blames Beijing for maritime incident (SCMP)
Vietnam accused Beijing yesterday of increasing regional tensions and said its navy would do everything necessary to protect its territorial integrity after Chinese patrol boats interfered with a Vietnamese oil and gas survey ship in the South China Sea. The remarks appeared to raise the stakes in the latest row over long-standing conflicting maritime claims. Vietnamese officials rejected Beijing's claims that the Vietnamese ship conducting a seismic survey was in Chinese waters. The incident happened about 120 kilometres off the south-central coast of Vietnam and about 600km south of Hainan. "The Vietnamese navy will do everything necessary to firmly protect peace and the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Vietnam," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said [...]. The Chinese boats then threatened the Vietnamese ship with violence, he added without elaborating. Beijing blamed Vietnam on Saturday for the incident, saying such Vietnamese oil and gas operations undermined China's interests and jurisdictional rights. ^ top ^

Myanmar President concludes visit to China (Xinhua)
Myanmar President U Thein Sein concluded his three-day China visit, departing Beijing for the Myanmar capital of Naypyidaw on Saturday afternoon. During his stay in Beijing, Thein Sein held talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, and they witnessed the signing of a series of economic agreements. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and the country's top political advisor Jia Qinglin also met with Thein Sein, respectively, to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries. It was Thein Sein's first state visit since assuming presidency in March. ^ top ^

China pledges further cooperation with ASEAN police agencies: official (Xinhua)
China will further promote cooperation with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) police agencies on regional law enforcement, a senior Chinese official said here on Tuesday. China's Vice Minister of Public Security Huang Ming told Xinhua that in recent years, cooperation on regional enforcement had constantly strengthened between China and ASEAN countries, and both sides had developed good police relations [...]. He said the main purpose of the Chinese delegation was to continue to promote understanding and mutual trust between China and the ASEAN Police agencies, in order to further enhance regional law enforcement cooperation. Over 200 high-ranking police officers from the ten ASEAN member countries and the dialogue partner countries including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand as well as the representatives of the ASEAN Secretariat, ASEANAPOL Secretariat and Interpol attended the conference [...]. Participants will also update each other on the Electronic- ASEANAPOL Database System and discuss how ASEANPOL can increase mutual assistance on criminal matters with Interpol. On the same day Huang met Thongban Sengaphone, the Lao Minister of Public Security, with both parties exchanging views on enhancing cooperation in law enforcement [...]. ^ top ^

Manila calls in envoy over Spratly spat (SCMP)
The Philippines has summoned a Chinese diplomat to protest about new construction activities on a reef claimed by Manila in the South China Sea. Territorial spats in the Spratly Islands involving China and several Southeast Asian nations have recently intensified, heightening tension at a time when China's neighbours have expressed concern over its rapid military build-up. The Philippine military has reported that a Chinese surveillance vessel and navy ships were seen unloading building materials and erecting posts in the vicinity of Iroquois Reef and Amy Douglas Bank - an uninhabited undersea hill claimed by the Philippines about 230 kilometres from southwestern Palawan province. Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto del Rosario said any new construction by China in the area "is a clear violation" of a 2002 accord that China signed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, [......]. It calls for countries to exercise restraint in the disputed waters. Chinese charge d'affaires Bai Tian was summoned on Tuesday for talks in which Philippine officials conveyed "serious concerns" about China's recent actions and sought clarification of them, the Philippine Foreign Affairs Department said. Embassy officials did not return calls seeking comment, but China has consistently claimed sovereignty over the entire South China Sea. The Philippine defence secretary, Voltaire Gazmin, said that the Philippine military was ready to defend the country, but "we're not in the position to confront China that is a rising power in Asia". The incidents happened on May 21 and 24, Gazmin said. Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie was in Manila for an official visit from May 21-24, but Gazmin said they did not receive the reports until after the visit. The incidents would be raised at an Asia Security Summit in Singapore this week, which will be attended by China and the United States, he said [...]. ^ top ^

Defence minister to wade into maritime debate (SCMP)
Defence Minister Liang Guanglie is expected to wade into rising South China Sea tensions this weekend when he becomes the first Chinese minister to attend the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore on regional security issues. Liang's appearance at the forum, which is attended by most of the region's defence chiefs, including US Defence Secretary Dr Robert Gates, comes after a week of tension over disputed sea territories between Beijing on one hand and Manila and Hanoi on the other [...]. At the same time, Sino-US military ties are warming up. Before boarding his plane to Singapore, Gates said Washington wanted to forge a stronger dialogue with Beijing's expanding military [...]. The informal, three-day event starting tonight has attracted hundreds of military leaders, intelligence officials, weapons manufacturers and analysts in the region and beyond. At last year's event, China's assertiveness in the South China Sea gave rise to tensions between Washington and Beijing. Gates engaged in open debate with senior PLA officials at some of last year's sessions. "The core issues haven't changed, other than to become more entrenched in some ways," said one veteran Southeast Asian envoy involved in regional South China Sea talks. "But what has changed is the Sino-US military relationship, so we are all waiting for signals as to how this will play out. ^ top ^

China says it's not behind Google email hacking (China Daily)
China denied it supports hacking activities and said it is part of global efforts to combat computer security threats Thursday, a day after Google disclosed some of its email users suffered hacking attacks that orginated within the country. Google disclosed Wednesday that personal Gmail accounts of several hundred people, including senior US government officials, military personnel and political activists, had been breached. Google traced the origin of the attacks to Jinan, China. China is firmly opposed to activities that sabotage Internet and computer security, including hacking, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters Thursday [...]. US authorities were investigating Google's disclosure, the coordinator for cyber issues at the US State Department said Thursday in London. Christopher Painter said the hacking illustrated a problem of attribution in cyberspace. "The issue of attribution and knowing whether a state or non-state actors are involved is a huge problem in cybersecurity," Painter told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a conference [...]. The Pentagon said Thursday it had very little information since the reported breaches involved personal accounts rather than government email. And since the accounts were not official, the US Department of Defense was unaware if the targeted individuals were defense employees, the statement said. China's Xinhua News Agency said in an unsigned commentary on Thursday that Google "provided no solid proof" to support its claims that the hack attacks originated in China. Xinhua said Google's compaints had "become obstacles for enhancing global trust between stakeholders in cyberspace.". ^ top ^

Beijing hits at Pentagon's cyber strategy (SCMP)
China's state media lashed out at what has been billed as the Pentagon's first formal cyber strategy, saying it would open the door for the United States to use military force against perceived cyberattacks. The cyber strategy could trigger "extremely dangerous consequences", Xinhua said. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the Pentagon had concluded in its first, formal and yet to be published cyber strategy that computer sabotage coming from another country could be considered an act of war, to which the US could respond with traditional military force [...].. Li Shuisheng, a researcher at the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science, told Xinhua on Wednesday that the new US cyber strategy was an "excuse to expand traditional military power, strengthen global hegemony" and "fuel arm races and even wars". The US had long alleged that China was a major enemy in cyberspace, disregarding the fact that China had the world's largest number of computers controlled by zombie viruses and was itself vulnerable to cyber attacks, Li said [...]. Professor Fang Binxing, president of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications and the father of the Golden Shield Project, the internet censorship and surveillance project at the core of the mainland's "Great Firewall", said cyber attacks could just be an excuse for launching military strikes [...]. He said that the US had a virtual monopoly on global internet resources, with the root server and nine out of 12 secondary root servers located in the US [...]. An information security expert at a university in eastern China with close ties to the PLA's Nanjing Military Region said that however well hackers or countries hid after launching a cyber attack, their location could be pinned down [...]. ^ top ^

China's Xi urges UN to pay more attention to development issue (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping said here on Thursday that the United Nations should pay more attention to and increase its input on the development issue. "Only by doing so can the UN achieve the Millennium Development Goals, better tackle complicated international issues, and promote world peace and development," Xi said while meeting with UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon here [...]. According to Xi, the global situation has witnessed complicated and profound changes and the cause of world peace and development still faces a number of uncertain elements. As the world's most universal and authoritative inter- governmental organization with widest representation, the UN plays an important and irreplaceable role in pushing forward multilateralism, coordinating international cooperation and coping with global threats and challenges, Xi said [...]. Xi said that China, the world's largest developing country and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has always actively promoted, supported and practiced multilateralism while safeguarding the authority and function of the UN [...]. China will continue to fully support the UN to play its core role in the international affairs, actively participate in the UN's work in all areas, develop a partnership with the UN and render support and coordination for the UN, he pledged. Ban spoke highly of China's achievements in socio-economic development [...]. China has also made important contribution to helping underdeveloped nations in Africa and other places and easing the tension on such hot spots as the Korean Peninsula, thus winning praise from the international community, he said [...]. ^ top ^

China warns citizens of rising safety risks in Yemen, Central African Republic (Xinhua)
China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) Thursday urged Chinese citizens and companies in Yemen and the Central African Republic to take caution due to deteriorating safety situations in those countries. In a statement posted on its website, the MOC warned Chinese people not to travel to Yemen for the time being and suggested that people who have plans to travel or invest in the Central African Republic to closely monitor local conditions. The ministry also encouraged Chinese companies in those regions to enhance their security procedures. The statement came after reports of an increase in violent incidents in Yemen and several recent robberies committed against Chinese people in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. ^ top ^

China supports UN's higher role in int'l affairs (China Daily)
China supports the United Nations (UN) in carrying out reforms and playing an increasingly more important role in international affairs, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday. Hong made the remarks at a regular news briefing, where he was asked to comment on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's recent appointment of a senior UN official to lead a new reform team […]. "China will continue to support the UN in carrying out reforms to improve efficiency, enhance authority and play a more important role in international affairs," Hong said. Ban announced Tuesday that he has appointed UN Assistant Secretary-General Atul Khare, an Indian national, to lead a team that will implement an agenda of reforms aimed at streamlining and improving the efficiency of the world body [...]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Grass-roots candidates rally online (Global Times)
The nation has seen a wave of independent grass-roots candidates seeking to be elected as deputies to local people's congresses, a phenomenon propelled by the Internet and cautiously welcomed by analysts. The trend started Wednesday with an entry by controversial blogger, writer and sports commentator Li Chengpeng, declaring he would run as an independent candidate in September for deputy to the people's congress of Wuhou district in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Within three hours of Li nominating himself, more than 3,000 Internet users forwarded the message, leaving more than 2,700 comments. Li's blog has more than 2.9 million followers. After the announcement, a number of people also declared their online candidacy for deputy posts, most notably Wu Danhong, an associate professor at the China University of Political Sciences and Law, and Xiong Wei, an independent scholar [...]. Chinese law states that all citizens over 18 have the right to vote and be elected, with the exception of those who have been deprived of their political rights. A deputy to people's congress at the level of county, autonomous prefecture, township, ethnic-minority township, district under a city and a city without district can be elected among local people. Li told the Global Times that he sought to establish a 10-member advisory group made up by scholars, lawyers and celebrities. His supporters include director Feng Xiaogang and writer Han Han [...]. "The authorities will find out that I am no troublemaker, just an advisor." Compared with conventional candidates, the independents are closer to the common people, Li argued [...]. Candidates were normally nominated by local governments and voters organized to cast their ballots without even learning about each candidate, said Zhu Lijia, a public administration professor at the National School of Administration. "The recent wave of self-nominated candidates is a good trend for democratic progress in China, as those independent candidates, who reached the largest number this year, will help to improve the country's electoral system," Zhu told the Global Times [...]. China's political culture does not encourage common people's participation in politics, which is one of the main reasons why most Chinese don't know how to use their political rights, said Yu, a director of the Institute of Rural Development at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. "The current phenomenon shows that people's awareness of their political rights is improving," he said. The independent electoral trend had mostly happened online, other analysts warned, and so did not represent all Chinese people, with some nominations maybe just publicity seekers. "New media such as blogs make it easier for public figures to draw attention, but solely relying on online support is not enough for an election campaign," Zhu said. "You have to get down to earth and find out what people are concerned about so as to win their hearts." Li has a reputation among Internet users for making outspoken comments [...]. ^ top ^

Coming to the aid of a party divided (SCMP)
For anyone interested in mainland politics, recent developments have made for both fascinating and puzzling reading. It is fascinating because the signs of division within the Communist Party over its future direction and its history are becoming increasingly public in the run-up to the 90th anniversary of the party in July and, more importantly, to a significant party congress to approve top leadership changes scheduled for the autumn of next year. So-called conservatives and moderates are engaging delicately in the state media - but they are openly slugging it out and trading barbs in internet chat rooms and on blogs. To top it off, the political rumour mill is in overdrive, churning out all kinds of comments that highlight divisions within the party and create more confusion [...]. Making sense of the mainland's notoriously opaque politics is always difficult, but the new developments suggest the party is undergoing a painstaking, intense search for ways to reshape itself and consolidate its grip on the world's second-largest economy. Over the past year, the outside world has been fascinated by Premier Wen Jiabao's one-man attempt, among top mainland leaders, to preach political reforms as a sure sign of political division within the party leadership. Indeed, following Wen's many calls for political restructuring, other leaders, [...], have vowed that the mainland will never go down the road of westernised democracy [...]. But the fact that Wen can continue to be the lone voice against the odds is very notable and should be seen as a positive development [...]. Internet chatrooms and blogs have also helped in having those different views made public. But this also means that the outside world should not come to the hasty conclusion that Wen's lone voice signals serious trouble for the party. While opinions vary as to why Wen has spoken out as he has, his views clearly represent the party liberals who strongly believe that a political restructuring is urgently needed to keep the party in power. After all, liberals and hardliners alike want to see the party consolidate its grip, even if they may disagree on how to achieve that goal [...]. It helps outsiders make sense of the mainland's political manoeuvring if they can apply some of the political electioneering seen in Western countries [...]. Perhaps outsiders can find some resemblance to the US presidential elections, in which the challenging candidate, Republican or Democrat, usually slams the sitting president for his cosy relationship with China. But even if the opposition wins, engagement with China remains a top priority. After all, commercial interests usually trump political talk. ^ top ^

China's social insurance to cover foreigners (Global Times)
China is drafting details of the Social Insurance Law that will allow it to apply to foreign employees, a senior official with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said Monday. Xu Yanjun, deputy director of the ministry's social security center, said at a news conference that foreign employees in China will be able to enjoy social insurance benefits as Chinese nationals under the law. The law, adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, will go into effect on July 2011. The law specifies that all workers will have the right to five forms of insurance: basic endowment ensurance, basic medical insurance, work injury insurance, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance. The law will also ensure that workers from countries that have signed bilateral social insurance agreements with China will be able to avoid paying two premiums, Xu said. Most foreign workers currently living and working in China's larger cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, are limited to having work injury insurance and basic medical insurance, according to Xu [...]. Unlike wealthy investors and senior marketing and technical executives who have relocated to China from overseas in the past, these foreign workers are largely unskilled and unable to get work visas, he said. ^ top ^

CPC urges improvement in social management (China Daily)
The Communist Party of China (CPC) on Monday called for strengthening and innovation in social management so as to address prominent social problems and safeguard the rights of Chinese citizens and promote social fairness and justice. "Improving and innovating in the area of social management is closely related to consolidating the ruling status of the Party, the country's long-term stability and people's livelihoods," said a statement released Monday [...]. According to the statement, China is now facing important strategic opportunities for development, and is a period with prominent social contradictions, making the task of social management "heavier and more arduous." According to the statement, the country will focus on "solving obvious problems that impact social harmony" and ensure social order and justice. The statement stressed improving management and services for the country's migrant population and people with "special needs," as well as non-public economic organizations and social groups [...]. ^ top ^

Politburo tackles social unrest (SCMP)
A Politburo meeting chaired by President Hu Jintao yesterday discussed ways to "strengthen and innovate" social management, state media reported [...]. Better social management was key to "constantly meeting the people's daily increasing materialistic needs", it said, adding that the party's performance in the task would affect its long-term ability to rule. "[Social management] would affect the party's ruling status, the country's long-term stability and the people's prosperity," the report said. The term "social management" - first introduced by Hu at a Politburo meeting in February - has become a buzzword used by the central government as a euphemism for social controls aimed at defusing tensions between a disenfranchised public and their political overlords. Those tensions [...] have peaked in recent months in many areas, culminating in a series of incidents this month [...]. The central government's nervousness about social unrest was laid bare in February and March with the authorities' heavy-handed response to calls for "jasmine demonstrations" [...]. A Ministry of Finance report released in March said the public security budget had risen 13.8 per cent year on year to 624 billion yuan (HK$746.7 billion) as a result of the demands to maintain stability. The 12th five-year plan, covering the years to 2015, contains for the first time a chapter dedicated to "social governance", stating the need to adopt preventative measures to reduce social problems [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing faces pressure to act against Mao critics (SCMP)
Pressure is mounting on Beijing to respond to a neo-Maoist campaign spreading throughout the country that aims to bring two of the Great Helmsman's most outspoken critics to trial. Utopia (or, one of the mainland's leading neo-Maoist websites claims to have collected thousands of signatures calling for the "public prosecution" of economist Mao Yushi and writer Xin Ziling, a retired People's Liberation Army officer, for their comments on China [...]. Fan Jinggang, who runs the Utopia site, said this was only the beginning, with a second phase due to start on June 15 when a citizens' complaint would be formally delivered to the National People's Congress, [...], and to the municipal legislature. Fan did not say whether the campaign had any official backing [...]. What sparked the campaign was Mao Yushi's review of Xin's book on Mao Zedong, called The Fall of the Red Sun, that was published on the economics information website last month. The 5,000 character review [...] is a damning account of Mao Zedong's policies. "He is not god, and he will be removed from the altar, divested of all the myth that used to shroud him and receive a just evaluation as an ordinary man," Mao Yushi wrote. Xin's book [...] is mainly about the political campaigns of the 1950s, in which innocent intellectuals were often labelled "rightists" and fell victim to political persecution. Mao Yushi was not available for comment, but Xin said he believed the neo-Maoists were not just targeting Mao Yushi and himself. Their primary aim, he said, was to overturn an alleged politburo decision, said to have been made in December but never publicised, to drop the use of "Mao Zedong thought" in all future party documents. Fan insists such a document does not exist, calling it a rumour that started in the Hong Kong-based Cheng Ming magazine. But Xin maintains that the order was made, regardless of whether neo-Maoists want to believe it. Xin also said his accusers would not even accept a newly published Communist Party history that states Mao's Great Leap Forward programme resulted in 10 million deaths from starvation from 1959 to 1961 [...]. Xin said any plans that the neo-Maoists had to influence the leadership would be unsuccessful. But confidence is running high in the neo-Maoist camp with some using online forums to liken their campaign to the Cultural Revolution. A message posted on said the campaign "is the first gunshot we are going to fire... it is very important to win the first battle and the best time is now". Whether the two critics are ever tried for their opinions would be a challenge for the leadership, said Professor Hu Xingdou of the Beijing Institute of Technology. "We'll see how they use reason and defend the bottom line of law.". ^ top ^

Mongolians 'sidelined' in mining growth (SCMP)
Ethnic Mongolians in the resource-rich Inner Mongolia autonomous region say they have been marginalised by a mining boom that has damaged their grassland. One former herder said protests in the past week [...] were the result of long-standing "suppression". He said Mongolians had long wanted to express their frustration to the regional government, though he insisted the protests should not be seen as a sign of ethnic tension. "Coal mining has brought huge benefits, but the survival of herders, who depend on the grassland, is threatened," the former herder [...] said. Another herder, Yalataihu, said grassland degradation had worsened in the past two years. "Coal mining has also caused pollution and sandstorms," he said. "The production of the grassland has been reduced." Officials paint a prosperous picture of the region's development prospects, with growth forecasts based mainly on coal mining. In Xilingol, coal production rose 49.2 per cent last year and is expected to reach 200 million tonnes a year by 2015. However, Mongolians say many of them have not benefited from the development boom […]. "This is similar to protests sparked by forced demolition - victims will eventually find the situation unbearable and will make their voices heard." China News Service reported earlier that the productivity of grassland in Xilingol had halved since the 1970s, while the Economic Information Daily said 2 per cent of the Hulun Buir grassland, in the northeast of the autonomous region, was being lost to encroaching desert each year. Mongolians, who make up less than 20 per cent of the region's population of 24 million, are often disadvantaged when trying to defend their lands from miners. "The courts usually do not accept petitions filed by herders concerning inappropriate use of their grassland," the former herder said [...]. Authorities across the region have been on the alert since word of the herder's death triggered protests in cities. No protests were reported yesterday, but students in Hohhot, the regional capital, threw Chinese-language textbooks out of dormitory windows, the US-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre said. Armed police patrolled central Xilinhot and students complained of being confined to campuses. Authorities try to appease Mongolians by pledging subsidies [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing again warns of 'overseas forces' (SCMP)
Beijing has vowed to act to tackle problems that have sparked protests by ethnic Mongols while also warning of "overseas" forces fanning the unrest in Inner Mongolia. The protests mark a rattling turn of events for the central leadership, which has long battled ethnic unrest by Tibetans and Muslim Uygurs in Xinjiang but who have seen Inner Mongolia as a model, its economy booming and its Mongols integrated into the mainstream. President Hu Jintao gathered the Communist Party's powerful Politburo on Monday to discuss what it said was an urgent need to reduce social tensions and promote fairness. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said yesterday that "local authorities will respond positively and will also try to protect the local environment and handle the issues between economic development and environmental protection". Her comment at a regular press briefing was the latest in a series of statements by the government and state media aimed at tamping down Mongol anger by acknowledging their grievances [...]. Jiang issued a warning to overseas groups "who are stirring up trouble". "As for some people overseas who try to play up the issue and realise their ulterior motives, their attempts are doomed to failure," she said, declining to elaborate. Beijing, loathe to admit dissent by its many ethnic minorities, has made similar vague accusations before [...].'. ^ top ^

Payout discussed with family of June 4 victim (SCMP)
Mainland authorities have for the first time discussed giving money to relatives of a victim of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Public security officers in Beijing had approached relatives of an unnamed victim twice since February, offering an unspecified amount of money, said families of those killed in the brutal crackdown in the capital 22 years ago. It was not clear if the money was offered as compensation, or if there were strings attached. So far, only one family has been contacted, the Tiananmen Mothers Support Group revealed in an open letter [...]]. The group accused the authorities of trying to settle the issue with money while continuing to skirt around sensitive issues [...]. "The visitors [police] did not speak of making the truth public, carrying out judicial investigations, or providing an explanation for the case of each victim," the group said. "Instead, they only raised the question of how much to pay, emphasising that this was meant for that individual case and not for the families in the group as a whole." The open letter called on the government to end "constant surveillance and personal restrictions" of the victims' families. This would create a condition for further dialogue. They also dismissed the possibility of accepting settlements as individuals rather than as a group. The relatives said they had documented 203 victims over the past 22 years. Many victims' relatives are yet to be located [...]. The open letter also noted the recent deterioration of human rights in general on the mainland, which it describes as the worst since 1989 [...].. Dai Qing. a veteran writer, journalist and advocate of reconciliation on the June 4 issue, said paying compensation without establishing the truth would be unacceptable [...]. "As long as the authorities refuse to make public the whole truth, the relatives should not give up their hope and should be persistent to demand dialogue and try to make every little progress possible." In Hong Kong [...] organisers expect 150,000 people to attend the candlelit vigil in Victoria Park on Saturday, similar to last year. Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, said the group had noticed a growing enthusiasm for the event among young people and people from the mainland. The group did not carry out a survey on participants' background. But Lee said the group was getting more donations in yuan, and it was also trying to reach out to mainland participants, including using more Putonghua in street broadcasts [...]. ^ top ^

China's smoking ban facing tough test as enforcement falters (People's Daily Online)
China's Ministry of Health introduced the "Regulations on Health Management in Public Places" on May 1, which banned smoking in indoor public places. One month has passed, but the smoking ban has not yet made a big difference. Statistics show that there are more than 300 million smokers in China, making up one-third of the world's smoking population. In addition, some 770 million non-smokers in the country are exposed to secondhand smoke [...]. The blanket smoking ban shows the political will of the Chinese government and is a symbol of social progress [...]. If the Chinese government does not take strong tobacco control measures immediately, China will face more severe public health issues than it does today. Tsinghua University law professor Wang Chen'guang said that China needs to fully realize the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke and draw on the legislative experience of foreign countries as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan [...]. Jiang Yuan, deputy director of the Tobacco Control Office under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that there are no penalty provisions regarding both the people who smoke in indoor public places and operators in the new rules. Offenders cannot be effectively punished due to the lack of specific penalty provisions, and together with other reasons such as the light punishments and the blurry subject of law enforcement, the tobacco control work is faced with huge law enforcement problems. The new rules also did not give clear explanations about whether offices are considered public places [...]. Results of the "Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2010" show that more than 75 percent of the people in China do not fully know the risks smoking can bring to human health, and more two-thirds do not know about the risks of second-hand smoke. The data is essentially the same as the survey results of 2002 [...]. ^ top ^

Cities asked to help grads obtain hukou (China Daily)
College graduates may soon have the chance to change their permanent residence permits to any place they work except four municipalities - Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing. "All cities except municipalities should remove restrictions of hukou settlement for college graduates and should permit their settlement where they work or where they start their own businesses," said a recent announcement by the State Council. The move aims to help boost graduates' employment [...]. A total of 6.6 million students will graduate from college this year, 300,000 more than last year [...]. A hukou in Beijing or Shanghai is the most desirable for college graduates but is harder to get. In Beijing, a person without a hukou is not allowed to buy a house or register a car unless he or she pays income tax in Beijing for five consecutive years. But some cities have already mapped out favorable hukou policies for college graduates. In the manufacturing hub of Shenzhen, the local government has allowed graduates from 133 universities in the country to apply for a local hukou if they work in the city [...]. "Beijing and Shanghai's populations are too large and I think it's the central government's plan to encourage some graduates to go to second- and third-tier cities," he said. When other cities' public service facilities and economic development catch up with Beijing and Shanghai there will be no restrictions for hukou settlement for college graduates in all cities, said. ^ top ^

Chinese Internet to be characterized by openness in next decade (People's Daily Online)
The openness of the Internet will become a major trend in China in the next decade, said Zhou Weihong, chairman of Qihoo 360 in the first Internet Openness Conference, held on June 1 in Beijing. Huang Chengqing, vice president of the Internet Society of China, said openness will help innovation and specialization pick up steam among Chinese Internet companies [...]. The theme of the first Internet Openness Conference is "openness, integration and boosting development." The conference is organized by Qihoo 360 and guided by Internet Society of China. Internet expert Hu Yanping noted the opening of the conference signifies that 2011 will be the first year of Internet openness era. From 2011, the competition will heat up on open platforms and Chinese Web users will undoubtedly become the biggest winner. ^ top ^

Beijing plans to name new bishop (SCMP)
The government-backed Catholic church is preparing to ordain a new bishop this month, and the leading candidate reportedly is a priest who lacks the Vatican's backing, potentially adding fuel to a long-running feud between Beijing and Rome [...]. China ordained another bishop without the pope's approval in November, which the Vatican later called a "grave wound" to the faith., a news service that covers the Catholic church in Asia, reported on Wednesday that the Reverend Joseph Shen Guoan is expected to be ordained on Thursday in Wuhan diocese in the central Hubei province. Liu Bainian, vice-president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, would not confirm that Shen would become bishop. But he said the Wuhan diocese has been without a bishop for many years and that Shen has been in charge in the interim [...]. "Now that the conditions for having a bishop in the Wuhan diocese are overdue, there should be an ordination," he said. "We hope that the Vatican will agree. And we believe that the people's voice is actually God's voice. The Vatican should show their love and agree on the ordination. Then there would be no tension between them and China" [...]. Disputes over appointments in China's official church have been avoided by quietly conferring on candidates, leading to several ordinations of bishops with the Holy See's blessing [...]. said that Chinese officials are pressuring bishops to take part in next week's ordination, citing anonymous local sources. Liu denied there was pressure [...]. ^ top ^

Inner Mongolia quieter after herder's death (SCMP)
Security remains tight after days of protests in an Inner Mongolian area where a herder was killed while attempting to block a coal truck, and in Xilinhot, the city which witnessed the first unrest over the incident, life seemed back to normal [...]. Local travell authorities told the travel agent that tour guides, drivers and tourists must register before entering the area. [...]]. Mainland residents can enter the area, but only after their identity cards are checked. People not holding mainland ID cards are not allowed in. Police at the identification checkpoint said the measure was being taken to protect the safety of tourists, who were being advised not to come back for at least two weeks. A local resident who asked not to be named said work had returned to normal, but the atmosphere was still tense [...]. The situation in Xilinhhot, the capital city of Xilingol League in the middle of the region, appeared to be calm yesterday, with residents saying business had returned to normal, but the travel agent said sporadic protests by Mongolians were still occurring [...]. But a Han resident in Xilinhot said the situation in the city had improved. "Nothing special has happened over the past two days. The city is quite quiet," he said [...]. Meanwhile, the Southern Mongolian Humaan Rights Information Centre said on Wednesday that hundreds of Mongolian students and residents marched on streets near No18 High School heading toward City Hall on Tuesday. The protesters were blocked by paramilitary forces and a standoff ensued for nearly two hours before the marchers were dispersed. ^ top ^



Droughts in Yangtze River may push up Guangzhou CPI in May (Guangzhou Daily)
Prices of vegetables and rice in Guangzhou market increased because of the droughts. The CPI in May is estimated to be 5.4% and hit a record high of 34 months. Prices of rice increased for 0.2 yuan per kilo than only three days ago. The lotus root price increased for 10%. The crayfish price increased for 30%. ^ top ^



Tibetans' religious freedom fully guaranteed (China Daily)
The freedom of religious belief of the Tibetans has been fully guaranteed with support from China's central government, a visiting Chinese expert on Tibet said Monday. Zhang Yun, an expert with the China Tibetology Research Center and head of a Chinese delegation, made the remarks while meeting Katerina Konecna, vice chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee of the Czech House of Parliament. Tibet has made substantial economic, social and cultural progress over past decades while Tibetans' livelihood has also been greatly improved, said Zhang. Most Tibetans hope that the autonomous region could develop better and faster under the leadership of the central government of China, he added [...]. ^ top ^



Senior leaders pledge greater efforts to improve living standards in Xinjiang (Xinhua)
Senior Chinese leaders pledged to promote further development in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region while making the improvement of the residents' lives the first priority during the second National Work Conference on "pairing assistance" projects to support Xinjiang development in Beijing, [...]. Li Keqiang and Zhou Yongkang, who are members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, attended the conference [...]. Government departments should make effortts to advance the construction of projects that can promote higher living standards, said Li, who is also vice premier. Li also called for measures to promote equal access to basic public services in Xinjiang, and he said efforts should be made to foster the region's development capabilities. Projects to build major infrastructure and promote industries in Xinjiang should be accelerated, and the region's advantages in resources and geography should be taken advantage of in its economic development, he said [...]. Practtice has proven that the CPC Central Committee's decisions regarding the assistance to Xinjiang are correct, he said. While championing the importance of improving people's welfare, Zhou said efforts would be made to improve people's living conditions, strengthen bilingual education and create more jobs. Further, Zhou called ethnic unity a "life line" of Xinjiang and underlined the significance of more exchanges between residents in Xinjiang and those from the rest of the country. Zhou also stressed the necessity of properly tackling conflicts and problems during Xinjiang's development, saying it was important to ensure that both rural and urban residents benefit from local development [...]. ^ top ^

Xinjiang to recruit 9,200 bilingual teachers (China Daily)
China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region will recruit around 9,200 bilingual primary and middle school teachers this year to promote bilingual education, local education authorities said Tuesday. Xinjiang will hire 11,502 primary and middle school teachers in 2011 in total, 80 percent of whom can speak both Mandarin and a language of an ethnic group, the region's education department said in a press release [...]. In an education development plan unveiled last October, the regional government pledged to offer bilingual education in Mandarin as well as Uygur or other ethnic languages for all 2.6 million primary and middle school students of ethnic groups by 2020. According to the plan, this will help ethnic group students gain a command of the national language upon graduation from high school and prepare them better for jobs or higher education. ^ top ^



Airport needs HK$136 for third runway (SCMP)
The public is being asked to make a choice: an airport with or without a third runway by 2030. But the government has said little so far on the social and environmental costs of the project. The third runway [...] would be the city's most expensive single project, but the Airport Authority said yesterday it would bring eight times as much in economic benefits over the next 50 years. The cost was put at HK$86.2 billion in 2010 dollar terms. If the plan is rejected, the authority says, the airport's two runways will run out of capacity by 2020. Hong Kong will stand to lose 23 million air passengers, 2.9 million tonnes of cargo volume, 182,000 aircraft movements and 96,000 jobs that the city could have had in 2030 [...]. While the project has the support of the aviation and tourism industries, economists, professionals and pro-administration lawmakers, it may be a tougher sell with the public. It requires reclamation of 650 hectares - half the present size of the airport. It would be the second largest reclamation in local history. Executives said a new reclamation method would be used and a new flight path drawn to minimise noise, but a solid compensation plan will not be produced until they apply for an environmental permit. Officials yesterday gave no details on how the government would bridge a funding gap expected to reach HK$112.8 billion after netting the authority's contribution [...]. The authority may even review an old proposal to raise funds via a listing on the stock exchange. But all these will only be discussed after a decision is made on the third runway [...]. Supporters of the project want construction to start by 2013 or 2014, but transport analyst and environmentalist Hung Wing-tat said the public should be given more time to ponder the consequences. "The economy will grow continuously and we can't always be struggling to catch up," Hung said. "Where does it end? It isn't like there are no real and social costs to pay" [...]. ^ top ^



Macao's trade deficit reaches 471 mln USD in April (Xinhua)
Macao recorded a trade deficit of 3.77 billion patacas (471 million U.S. dollars) in April 2011, as merchandise import soared by 25.2 percent year-on-year, according to the figures released on Tuesday by the city's Statistics and Census Service (DSEC). Total merchandise export for April amounted to 590 million patacas, with value of domestic export decreasing by 3.4 percent to 181 million patacas, the figures showed. Meanwhile, total value of merchandise export in the first four months of 2011 dropped by 11.8 percent year-on-year to 2.22 billion patacas, of which value of domestic export and re-export declined by 0.4 percent and 16.6 percent respectively. Analyzed by destination, value of merchandise export to Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland and USA in the first four months of 2011 decreased by 18.9 percent, 4.3 percent and 27.5 percent respectively year-on-year, the DSEC said. In the first four months of 2011, value of merchandise import from Chinese mainland (5.33 billion patacas) and the EU (4.5 billion patacas) expanded by 29.9 percent and 56.1 percent respectively year-on-year, the figures indicated. Imports of consumer goods soared by 31 percent to 10.53 billion patacas, with that of food and beverages, gold jewelry, and handbags and wallets rising by 35.5 percent, 24.9 percent and 106.7 percent respectively year-on-year, the DSEC said. ^ top ^



Taiwan battles beverage crisis (SCMP)
Taiwan is scrambling to contain a toxic drink crisis that has gone global. The island's worst food crisis in more than a decade came to light on May 23 when three types of sports drinks were removed from store shelves for containing the cancer-causing chemical DEHP. Residents were soon shocked to learn that not only sports drinks but also tea drinks, juices, jams, syrups, health food powder, tablets and cosmetics were contaminated, affecting many brand-name products [...]. Worse still, the chemical has been used as an additive in food and medication for at least five years [...]. Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has ordered an inspection and crackdown across the island [...]. Hong Kong, Macau, the mainland, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Canada, the United States and other markets have also either registered alarm or banned imports of suspect products [...]. Authorities have detained four people: major suspect Lai Chun-chieh, owner of Yu Sheng Chemical; two from Pin Han Perfumery and another from Jin Kor Wang, all upstream suppliers of DEHP-tainted clouding agents to food makers. Prosecutors said Yu Sheng, the largest emulsifier supplier on the island, allegedly added the chemical to an emulsifier or clouding agent as a substitute for the more expensive palm oil in order to cut costs. The reports said emulsifiers with DEHP could also extend the shelf lives of products, prompting many food makers to buy them from Yu Sheng [...]. It was not immediately known if the tainted additive was sold on the mainland [...]. Kang Jaw-jou, director general of Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration, said the government reported the issue to the World Health Organisation on May 24 [...]. Taiwanese Premier Wu Den-yih said laws and regulations would be toughened. Offenders now face up to three years in jail and a NT$300,000 fine. The health ministry yesterday said it aimed to raise the fine to NT$10 million and the jail term to five years. The National Health Research Institutes says DEHP affects the liver, kidneys and reproductive system and is especially harmful to children. ^ top ^



China's external assets valued at $4 trillion (China Daily)
The country's external financial assets expanded 19 percent from a year earlier to $4.13 trillion by the end of 2010, boosted by increased foreign exchange reserves and overseas investment, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said Monday. According to 2010 year-end figures on China's international investment position (IIP) released by the SAFE, the country's external liabilities rose 20 percent year-on-year to $2.34 trillion, while net external financial assets increased 19 percent to $1.79 trillion in 2010. About 71 percent of China's external financial assets were its $2.91 trillion of foreign exchange reserves, according to the SAFE. China's $310.8 billion of direct investment overseas, $257.1billion of securities portfolio investment and $643.9 billion of other unspecified investments made up the rest. In terms of China's foreign financial liabilities, direct investment by other countries or regions in China totaled $1.48 trillion, securities portfolio investment reached $221.6 billion and other unspecified investment stood at $637.3 billion. China'a foreign exchange regulator, the SAFE, also revised China's IIP for 2009 in its statement on its website. According to the statement, China increased its holding of gold to $48.1 billion in 2010, up from $37.1 billion in 2009 [...]. ^ top ^

China raises electricity prices to ease power shortages (Xinhua)
China has raised prices for electricity used for industrial, commercial and agricultural purposes across the country's 15 provinces and municipalities by 16.7 yuan (about 2.57 U.S. dollars) per 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kwh), the country's top economic planner said on Monday. Electricity prices for residential use remained unchanged, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said. The move is intended to ease regional power shortages, restrain the development of energy-guzzling industries and ensure a steady supply of electricity for residential use, according to the commission [...]. The hikes will only help electricity producers to cover losses caused by rising coal costs, rather than negate losses generated by rapidly expanding industrial development, said the NDRC. Electricity producers in the country have recently dealt with heavy losses, as coal prices are set by the market, while the government sets electricity prices. To prevent coal producers from taking advantage of the situation, the NDRC has started checking contract coal prices for evidence of manipulation [...]. China's total electricity consumption rose 12 percent year-on-year in the first four months of this year. Power consumption rose by 11.2 percent year-on-year in April to reach 376.8 billion kwh, compared with 388.8 billion kwh of electricity used in March. ^ top ^

Drought worsens fears of inflation (People's Daily Online)
A rare drought that has wreaked havoc in central and southern China is expected to send grain prices soaring as experts predict the worst disaster of its kind in 50 years could offset the government's efforts to curb inflation and threaten its annual CPI target of 4 percent. Five provinces in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River [...] have suffered the most serious droought in decades. The drought had affected 34.8 million people, over one million livestock, and 3.7 million hectares of farmland as of Friday, causing direct economic losses of 14.9 billion yuan ($2.3 billion), the Ministry of Civil Affairs said [...]. Of the seven major vegetables, the priices of Chinese cabbage, rape and celery increased by 11.9, 16.4 and 11.6 percent respectively over the first ten days in May, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said last week. Some experts say the price hikes will send up China's consumer price index (CPI). "We're not sure whether the drought directly caused the price hikes, but it's certain that the drought will create expectations of food price hikes, which will then cause the CPI to rise," Zhao Xijun, a vice director of the School of Finance at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times. A report released on Monday by the Bank of Communications said that due to the impact of the drought, agricultural food prices have resumed their upward trend after a short period that saw a slight fall in May [...]. NBS data showed that tthe CPI was 5.3 percent in April, exceeding the government's target of 4 percent for 2011 [...]. However, some experts ddownplayed the impact the drought would have on CPI. "The drought won't have a big impact on grain supply despite the rising prices, as the nation's rice stocks are abundant," Li Guoxiang, with the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times. Other major grain-producing provinces, such as Henan, Shandong and Hebei, have not been affected, Li added […]. According to the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, as of Sunday, a total of 6.96 million hectares, or one-eighth of the nation's farmland, had been hit by the drought [...]. ^ top ^

China's drought won't cause huge jump in grain prices, experts (People's Daily Online)
The worst drought in half a century in China will not push up grain prices drastically, but paddy rice growth will be affected, experts say. Paddy rice output will be hit in the thirsty provinces of Hubei, Hunan and Jiangxi, Mei Xurong, head of the Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), told the People's Daily on Thursday. But anti-drought measures should alleviate the situation somewhat, Mei said, adding that it was too early to forecast a decrease in paddy rice output [...]. China has large amounts of grain in reserve and this year's winter wheat harvest is expected to be good, Cheng said. But the cost of labor, fertilizers, pesticides and seeds may push up the price, Cheng said. The drought, the worst since 1961, has affected both irrigation and water supplies in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. ^ top ^

Local government debt higher than first thought (Global Times)
China's local government-backed financing vehicles had total debt of 14 trillion yuan ($2.16 trillion) at the end of last year, higher than market estimations, but fears over the effect that defaults could have are exaggerated, observers said on Thursday. "Loans to local government financing vehicles (LGFVs) accounted for less than 30 percent of total outstanding loans at the end of 2010," the People's Bank of China said in a financial review report published Wednesday night [...]. Based on that figure, LGFV debt would amount to a maximum of 14 trillion yuan out of total outstanding loans of 47.92 trillion yuan at the end of last year. That would be equivalent to 35 percent of China's 2010 GDP and higher than previous estimations of about 10 trillion yuan. Debt has risen since China started its massive economic stimulus package in 2008 and embarked on a lending spree over the last two years. Local governments, barred from selling bonds or borrowing directly from banks, had set up more than 10,000 financing vehicles by the end of 2010 to raise funds, mostly for infrastructure, the central bank said. LGFVs are backed by local government revenues, which mainly come from land sales. But tightened monetary policy, efforts to rein in soaring housing prices and the limited land resources have prompted fears that some LGFVs will not be able to repay their loans [...]. ^ top ^

China to deliver eight Y-8 aircraft to Venezuela (Xinhua)
China's AVIC Xi'an Aircraft Industry (Group) Co. confirmed on Thursday that it will deliver eight Y-8 commercial aircraft to Venezuela. The aircraft will all be delivered to the country by August 2012, a company official said. The official added that due to customer demands, the planes will undergo several changes before being delivered, including changes to the aircraft's dashboard layout, avionics system, lighting and power distribution systems. These changes will make the aircraft more adaptable to changing flight conditions, the official said. The Y-8 is the largest medium-sized multifunction transport plane entirely researched and developed by China. As a major Chinese commercial aircraft, Y-8 aircraft have been exported to several countries, including Sri Lanka, Sudan, Myanmar and Iran. China has exported a total of 25 Y-8s so far, including the eight aircraft that will be delivered to Venezuela. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

'Success' of Kim's China visit feted (SCMP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his son and heir apparent celebrated the "successful" outcome of his trip to China last week, state media said yesterday, without elaborating on what was achieved. The North held art performances celebrating the accomplishments of his visit and watched by Kim and his youngest son, Jong-un, as well as senior officials of the communist regime, Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency said without saying when it took place. "A music and dance performance was given... on his successful unofficial visit to the People's Republic of China," KCNA said, [...]. It said Kim's tour made an "undying contribution" in boosting ties between the two communist neighbours. It is rare for Pyongyang to stage such a large public celebration of a trip to China by the leader, who has made seven visits to the neighbouring country since 2000, [...]. The 69-year-old's trip to China, the impoverished but nuclear-armed state's sole major ally and economic prop, was aimed at garnering more aid and Beijing's support for the hereditary power transfer to Jong-un, analysts said [...]. China has pressed the North to return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks and to ease tensions with South Korea. It also wants its ally to undertake a Chinese-style opening-up of the state-directed economy. But it was unclear immediately what Kim's trip achieved on any of the issues, with official media in Pyongyang and Beijing putting different glosses on Kim's talks with Hu on Wednesday. Xinhua said Kim called for a quick resumption of the long-stalled nuclear disarmament talks and expressed hope for better ties with South Korea. But KCNA said only that the two leaders agreed that denuclearisation "on the whole Korean peninsula" was in the region's interests. KCNA also said Kim praised China's "dynamic progress", but gave no hint on whether his own country would follow suit in opening up its faltering state-led economy. Analysts say Kim's isolated regime fears the loss of political control that this would entail. ^ top ^

EU officials to visit North Korea on food aid (Global Times)
A group of European Union officials will visit North Korea next month to assess the food situation in the impoverished state after a similar trip by US officials, a report said on Sunday.Officials from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) group will head to Pyongyang after the US team wraps up a probe into the North's food needs this week, Yonhap news agency said, citing a Seoul government source [...]. The US delegation, led by Robert King, Washington's special envoy on the North's human rights, arrived in Pyongyang Tuesday. King left the North on Saturday after securing a release of a Korean American detained there for months, but several officials will stay until Thursday to tour the state and investigate its food needs. Washington is likely to reach a decision on resuming food aid to Pyongyang after the European officials finish their own two-week tour, said the source quoted by Yonhap [...]. ^ top ^

North says no more deals with South (SCMP)
North Korea yesterday said it would no longer deal with South Korea and threatened to retaliate against any moves by Seoul to wage "psychological warfare". The North's powerful National Defence Commission said it would also cut a military communications line on the east coast and shut a liaison office at the jointly-run Mount Kumgang resort. The statement comes days after leader Kim Jong-il, who chairs the commission, returned from a visit to key ally China. Kim was quoted by Beijing's media as saying he wants to improve cross-border relations. "The army and people of the DPRK [North Korea] will never deal with traitor Lee Myung-bak and his clan," said the statement on the official KCNA news agency, referring to the South Korean president [...]. The commission also reiterated threats of "physical action without any notice" to halt psychological warfare. The North has repeatedly threatened to open fire at sites used by South Korean activists to launch leaflets criticising Kim's regime across the heavily fortified border. Cross-border ties have been icy for a year, since the South accused the North of sinking one of its warships. The North denies involvement in the sinking, which cost 46 lives. But in November it shelled a South Korean border island, killing four. The dispute is complicating efforts by China to revive six-nation nuclear disarmament talks also grouping the two Koreas, the United States, Russia and Japan. Yang Moo-jin, of Seoul's University of North Korean Studies, said the statement "indicates that Kim might have secured China's pledge to provide economic assistance and guarantee the security of his regime". ^ top ^

North Korea rejects secret olive branch from South (Global Times)
North Korea delivered a stinging rejection of the South's proposal for a series of three presidential summits over the next year, giving a blow-by-blow account on Wednesday of a secret meeting between officials of the two countries last month. A spokesman for the National Defence Commission, the North's supreme leadership body, said a trio of South Korean officials ... from the presidentiall office, intelligence service and the Unification Ministry ......had tried to persuade the North during a meeting in Beijing to agree to the summits in order to defuse tensions. The North's representatives "told them to go back to Seoul at once," he said, according to state media in an embarrassing outline of the meeting. Seoul said it was regrettable the North had provided such a one-sided account and that this would not help improve Korean relations, but added it stood by its call for dialogue [...]. "We have made it clear there would never be a summit meeting as long as the South maintains a hostile policy and insists (North Korea) should abandon its nuclear program and apologize over the two incidents," KCNA state news agency quoted the commission spokesman as saying [...]. Lee ended a decade of unconditional aid to the North when he took office in 2008 and demanded Pyongyang's leader disarm as a condition for resuming aid and dialogue [...]. ^ 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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