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
  27.6-1.7.2011, No. 377  
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DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

China, Vietnam 'vow peaceful end to sea row' (SCMP)
China and Vietnam pledged yesterday to resolve the territorial disputes over the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations, Beijing said following their first high-level talks since the long-standing maritime disagreement took a nosedive last month. Analysts said it was a sign that the increased tension over the potentially natural resources-rich waters was easing, although one said it did not represent any key breakthrough. The apparent friendly gesture between the bickering neighbours also came as the United States called for Beijing to help lower the temperature and as Vietnamese protesters marched through the streets of the capital, Hanoi, for a fourth straight week against Beijing's attitude in the disputes. State Councillor Dai Bingguo, China's top diplomat, and Vietnamese deputy Foreign Minister Ho Xuan Son [...] held talks in Beijing on Saturday after Ho met his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Zhijun, according to a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry's website yesterday. China and Vietnam agreed to "peacefully resolve their maritime disputes through negotiations and friendly consultations", the ministry said. They agreed to seek speedy implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea - a pact signed in 2002 between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to prevent conflict until the myriad territorial disputes are resolved. They also agreed to "strengthen public opinion guidance to prevent words and actions that would be detrimental to the friendship and mutual trust between the peoples of the two countries" [...]. Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, a political scientist at City University, said the bickering would "dissipate within one or two weeks", if no extraordinary situation arose. However, he expressed doubt over Hanoi's sincerity, saying it was trying to exploit nationalism to distract public attention from economic woes. Xu Guangyu, retired People's Liberation Army general and analyst with the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said he was cautiously optimistic of a peaceful resolution. The latest spell of the long-standing disagreement over sovereignty in the South China Sea broke out last month when Hanoi said Chinese boats had cut the cables of a Vietnamese oil exploration ship. ^ top ^

Wen, Cameron unveil trade deals (Global Times)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and British Prime Minister David Cameron signed trade deals worth £1.4 billion ($2.2 billion) at a summit on Monday, boosting British businesses' ability to branch out into fast-growing cities in China [...]. One of the centerpieces of the Downing Street summit will be a multi-million pound commercial underground coal gasification deal secured by Seamwell International, a British company specializing in new clean coal technology, according to the Guardian. Gas company BG Group said it had signed a cooperation agreement with Bank of China that allowed for up to $1.5 billion of new funding options to support BG's growth plans, according to Reuters. The two countries also restated their desire to double the value of bilateral trade by 2015 [...]. British exports to China have increased by 20 percent since Cameron led a major business delegation to Beijing last November, BBC reports. Britain is, however, scrambling to catch up with European rivals Germany and France, the latter of which secured contracts worth $20 billion for French firms last year. Paul Bromelow, director of sales for London & Partners, a non-profit, official promotional agency to attract investments to London, told the Global Times that bilateral trade barriers still exist but that high-level discussions would continue to improve the overall situation […]. Cameron rejected suggestions there was a "trade-off" between the UK's commercial interests in China and its willingness to speak out about human rights. Wen's visit is the latest of several high-level diplomatic exchanges between Britain and China, including a visit to China by Cameron last November, [...]. ^ top ^

China-US talks focus on issues in Asia-Pacific (China Daily)
China and the United States held their first round of consultations on Asia-Pacific affairs over the weekend, [...]. Co-chaired by Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai and US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the one-day closed-door consultations were held in Honolulu on Saturday, [......]. They agreed to use the consultation mechanism as a platform to keep close contact and coordinate on the regional situation and respective policies to advance bilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific and play an active role in safeguarding regional peace, stability and prosperity, he added. Campbell said he held "open and frank" discussions with his Chinese counterpart, with the goal of "attaining better understanding of each other's intentions, policies and actions toward the Asia-Pacific region" [...]. The two sides discussed issues related to the Asia-Pacific, as well as each other's objectives at a series of meetings, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional forum, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' meeting to be held in Hawaii, the Pacific Islands Forum, and the East Asian Summit, Campbell added. Analysts said a stable China-US relationship and enhanced interaction will also benefit stability and development throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Qin Yaqing, vice-president of China Foreign Affairs University, said the consultations "are not seeking a 'G2' or a leading role for China and the US in regional affairs", Qin said [...]. According to Reuters, Campbell said the US delegation noted that China's military expansion had raised concerns, but hoped greater transparency and dialogue would help ease those concerns. The two delegations also discussed the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Campbell said he asked China to urge the DPRK to deal responsibly and appropriately with the Republic of Korea without provocation [...]. ^ top ^

Deals worth US$15b boost ties (SCMP)
China and Germany signed more than US$15 billion worth of deals yesterday during Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Berlin. Twenty agreements, inked after the German and Chinese governments held their first joint cabinet meeting, include four purely commercial deals, the biggest being an order for dozens of A320s from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus. Airbus issued a statement yesterday saying that China had ordered 88 of its A320 aircraft, while the Germans announced an order for 62 planes [...]. No other financial details were given, but German media reported that the framework agreement with Airbus was worth more than ...7 billion (HK$78 billion) [...]. "Foreign companies that are legally established in China will be given the same rights as their local counterparts," he said at an economic forum. "The intellectual property rights of these corporations will be protected. I hope Germany will also encourage Chinese companies to invest in Germany." He also demanded that the European Union lift an arms embargo which has been in place against China for more than two decades, and called on Germany to advocate lifting restrictions on the export of high-tech products to China. Wen said China would continue strengthening trade ties with Germany and hoped to double the volume of bilateral trade over the next five years. Bilateral trade between the two countries reached US$140 billion last year. Merkel also raised concerns about the cases of dissident artist Ai Weiwei and activist Hu Jia [...] during the press conference. Addressing the Chinese community in Berlin, Wen also said that it would take more than 10 years for China to fix its own social and economic problems. "Just five years is not enough to really fix these problems," he said. He said China is not becoming complacent with its achievements, admitting that corruption is still the main cause of public frustration against the government. ^ top ^

Welcome for war-crimes accused (SCMP)
China rolled out the red carpet yesterday for Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide following the deaths of an estimated 300,000 people in Darfur. Among the Chinese leaders who shook hands with him in Beijing were President Hu Jintao, NPC chairman Wu Bangguo and Vice-Premier Li Keqiang. Bashir has dismissed accusations of murder, extermination, torture, rape and directing attacks against civilians. Chinese international relations experts said talks with Bashir were likely to concern China's relations with Khartoum and the soon-to-be-independent south Sudan [...]<. "So the timing of Bashir's visit is very significant," said Liu Youfa, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies. "Sudan may expect to have China's continued support." Most of the Sudanese oil resources are in the south, while most industrial and logistics facilities are in the north, Liu noted. China had already built a "mutual trust mechanism" with southern Sudan, said He Wenping, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of West Asia and Africa Studies. China has had a consulate in southern Sudan since 2008, and the region is home to many Chinese construction workers. Several agreements were expected to be signed during Bashir's visit to Beijing. On Tuesday, the China National Petroleum Corporation signed an agreement with the Sudanese government to boost co-operation, based on a 20-year, multibillion-dollar development deal struck in 2007. The company's president, Jiang Jiemin, said it was ready to double its investment in the country, according to Sudanese media reports. China's trade with Sudan was worth US$8.2 billion in 2008, with its imports (primarily oil) more than triple its exports, and it has called a halt to recent violence in areas contested by the north and south [...]. ^ top ^

Trust in China increases with Wen's visit (SCMP)
Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Europe has resulted in improved trust of China among Europeans, analysts say. But scepticism remains about political conditions in China despite Wen's repeated emphasis that political reform is the only way the nation can sustain development [...]. Beijing has attached growing importance to Sino-Europe relations in recent years, as evidenced by the timing of Wen's latest trip, which came just two months after he went to France, Spain and Portugal. Other senior officials, such as Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, visited Britain last year. Dr Thomas Heberer, a Germany-based expert on East Asian studies, said that with the US playing a dominant role in world affairs, Beijing was looking to strengthen global ties. "China needs a friend and partner other than the US, and clearly Europe is the only one that might... be a challenge to the US. So China needs to have a good relationship with the US on one side, but a good relationship with Europe as well on the other side," Heberer said. "If necessary, China can counterbalance both." Wen expressed confidence that Europe could fend off its sovereign debt crisis. He also stressed that Beijing wanted to establish trust with Europe, and he urged Europe to show similar intentions by calling for an end to an arms embargo and restrictions on hi-tech exports to China [...]. And Josef Janning, director of studies at the European Policy Centre think tank in Brussels, said both Europe and China largely got what they wanted from Wen's tour. "A deeper partnership... is emerging. And there is a general recognition that the best way to deal with China is to respect the comprehensive challenge that China is going through," he said. However, Steve Tsang, director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, said Beijing had not offered much help [...]. But even though Europe can trust China more on trade issues and support for the debt crisis, analysts say, Europeans will still be sceptical about its political environment. Britons and Germans said their impression of China was adversely affected by the April arrest of artist-activist Ai Weiwei, [...]. At the Royal Society in London, and at a meeting with the Chinese community in Berlin, Wen admitted China faced many social problems despite 30 years of economic boom. He called for the implementation of reforms that would let citizens monitor and criticise the government [...]. European officials said they would keep pressing Beijing to improve human rights. Nevertheless, political issues are unlikely to affect Sino-Europe ties. Germany, once very critical of China's rights environment, softened its tone in 2009 as it needed Beijing's support in the financial crisis, Heberer said. "Economic issues take a strong priority over political and social issues," he said. "Governments in Europe know it is useless to stress human rights every time they meet.". ^ top ^

China voices confidence on Euro zone economy (China Daily)
China said Thursday it believes that the Euro zone will realize steady economic growth. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks when asked to comment on Greece's approval of a key austerity bill and the country's debt crisis [...]. "The international community should cooperate with confidence and tackle the challenges hand-in-hand," Hong said. As part of the first Eurogroup bailout package for Greece last year, the second tranche of loans, which amounts to 12 billion euros ($17 billion), should be handed to Greece in June. But the loans have been held back as the country has failed to meet austerity targets. The adoption of the bill is also expected to facilitate a second bailout package for Greece. ^ top ^

DPRK, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba offer congratulation on CPC 90th anniversary (Xinhua)
The ruling parties of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Vietnam, Laos and Cuba respectively have sent congratulatory messages to the Communist Party of China (CPC), congratulating the CPC on the 90th anniversary of its founding on July 1. "The founding of the CPC was a historic event which marked an occasion of a decisive turn in carrying out the Chinese revolution and carving out the destiny of the Chinese people," Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea of the DPRK, said in his congratulatory telegram to Chinese President Hu Jintao, [...]. "Thanks to its founding the Chinese people came to have their genuine guiding vanguard and could work world-startling miracles through a gigantic struggle and creation to eradicate centuries-old backwardness and poverty and achieve the country's prosperity," the telegram said [...]. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam said in a congratulatory letter that, over the past 90 years under the leadership of the CPC, the Chinese people overcame various difficulties and achieved a historic great victory in the cause of national liberation and socialist construction, especially in reform and opening-up to the outside world as well as modernization drive [...]. The Central Committee of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) said in a congratulatory letter that, under the leadership of the CPC, China's cause of reform and opening-up to the outside world has scored enormous achievements and the merits of socialism have been fully displayed [...]. Raul Castro, first secretary of Cuba's Communist Party, said in his congratulatory letter that, over the past 90 years, the CPC has embarked on a hard struggle for winning and safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and unity, and established great achievements in complex circumstances. He said that Cuba's Communist Party will continue to strengthen the friendly relations between the two parties, the two countries and the two peoples. ^ top ^

China seeks to further cooperate with GMS countries (China Daily)
China is committed to cooperating with other countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) to the best of its capacity, Assistant Minister of Commerce of China Yu Jianhua said here on Thursday. He made the remarks at the Third GMS Economic Corridors Forum, [...]. "We should continue to use the forum as a platform for furthering cooperation through coordination by central governments, implementation by local governments, advancement by regional organizations such as ADB, and participation by private sectors," Yu said [...]. China has provided over 45 billion RMB (around 7 billion U.S. dollars) worth of assistance to other GMS countries, helping to build infrastructure projects, Yu said. By the end of May 2011, China had provided training to 6,628 personnel from GMS countries in the fields of economy, finance, agriculture, transportation, health care, science and technology, energy and environment protection, with plans to train a total 1, 170 personnel in 2011, he added. "We will continue our efforts to make our own contribution to the best of our capacity," Yu said [...]. The GMS Economic Corridors Forum was established in Kunming, Yunnan Province of China, on June 6, 2008, to serve as the main advocate and promoter of multi-sector coordination in corridor development, by raising awareness of the needs of the priority GMS corridors, increasing the involvement of local authorities in corridor affairs and improving public-private collaboration. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Some Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway projects started without bidding: chief auditor (Xinhua)
Several of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway's auxiliary projects have begun construction without calling for bids, which is a violation of the country's bidding rules, national chief auditor Liu Jiayi said Monday. "These projects involve supervision, consultation and construction with a combined contract value of 4.446 billion yuan (686.64 million U.S. dollars)," said Liu. Liu, auditor-general of the National Audit Office, made the statement in a report submitted to the 21th session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature. A high-speed railway linking Beijing and Shanghai will officially go into operation on June 30. Construction on the railway began in 2008, with an estimated total investment of 220.9 billion yuan. ^ top ^

Railway ministry dismisses fraudulent train speed claims (People's Daily Online)
A senior official from China's Ministry of Railways (MOR) on Monday dismissed an allegation by a former MOR official that the MOR had exaggerated how fast the country's high-speed trains could run. "The claims of the former MOR official are groundless," said the MOR's chief engineer He Huawu, adding that China's high-speed trains are "fast, comfortable and safe." He made the comment in reply to a claim made by former MOR deputy chief engineer Zhou Yimin, who said in an article published by financial magazine Caijing last week that the MOR's claims that its high-speed trains could run at 350 km per hour were "fraudulent.". ^ top ^

$64m misused or embezzled in govt funds (China Daily)
Auditors found that a total of 82 government units had illegally kept 414 million yuan ($63.7 million) for unauthorized use by means such as misappropriating income or fabricating expenses, the country's chief auditor said Monday. Liu Jiayi, head of the National Audit Office, made the statement in a report submitted to the 21th session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature. According to Liu, the money was mostly used in the form of bonuses and allowances. In addition to the "small coffers," other financial violations included expanding the spending scope without approval, fabricating expenditure figures and illegal charges. Liu said these violations, 80 percent of which occurred in inferior government departments, were largely due to slack supervision and management loopholes from incomplete reform. ^ top ^

Blacklisting journalists not allowed: China's press watchdog (Xinhua)
China's press watchdog said on Monday no organizations or individuals are allowed to block reporters from doing their jobs or blacklist them. The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) made the statement in response to public discussions stirred by a health ministry media officer's comments that the ministry will blacklist journalists who publish phony food-scare stories. On June 13, Mao Qun'an, director of the publicity center of the health ministry, said at a conference that food safety reports were increasingly worrying the public, and that journalists who publish false stories that mislead the public will be blacklisted [...]. An official with the GAPP said that media supervision plays an indispensable role in promoting democracy and civilization, and it also helps improve social management. As to potentially flawed or erroneous reports, the GAPP called on government agencies and the public not to be too hard on reporters. Rather, relevant government agencies should timely disclose correct information to the public, said the official. The official cited the "rules on management of press card," saying reporters' lawful practices are protected by law, and governments at all levels and its functionaries should facilitate the work of reporters. Additionally, the official said if reporters are involved in misconduct, such as fabrication. ^ top ^

Taxman chasing Ai for 12m yuan, lawyer says (SCMP)
Artist-activist Ai Weiwei is being pursued for more than 12 million yuan (HK$14.4 million) in unpaid taxes and fines, according to a lawyer and friend. Liu Xiaoyuan said Beijing's tax office had issued a notice to the FAKE Design company, where Ai's wife, Lu Qing, serves as legal representative, to pay the amount. Almost 5 million yuan was for unpaid taxes and the fines totalled more than 7 million yuan, Liu said, adding that he had seen the notice. It was not clear how the sum was calculated. Ai, who was released on bail one week ago and given a year-long gag order, was told to respond to the notice in writing within three days if he objected [...]. Lawyer Pu Zhiqiang confirmed yesterday he would represent FAKE Design in the tax-evasion case. He said his client would consider seeking an administrative hearing to determine if the tax bureau had sufficient administrative and legal basis to demand the money. "We are very inclined to call the hearing now," Pu said [...]. Xinhua said Ai was granted bail because he had confessed and promised to pay the money he owes. Another factor, it said, was his chronic health problems [...]. ^ top ^

China to expand medical insurance for rural kids (China Daily)
China plans to expand a pilot medical care project to all rural areas by September to give increased financial assistance to children with congenital heart disease and leukemia, Health Minister Chen Zhu said Tuesday. By September, all rural children who have joined the New Rural Cooperative Medical Care System, a medical insurance plan for villagers, will be eligible for more than 70-percent reimbursement for the costs involved in treating these diseases, a rate established in the pilot program, Chen said at a meeting. The government launched the pilot project in 15 provincial-level regions in June 2010 [...] succeeded in cutting their medical expenses by about 60 percent, according to the ministry. The project helped 9,059 children get medical treatment for these illnesses as of April, ministry's figures show. China's new rural cooperative medical care system now covers 832 million people, or more than 96 percent of the rural population. Under the plan, the government and a farmer jointly contribute 300 yuan in premiums each year, which then allows farmers to be reimbursed for about 70 percent of their inpatient costs. ^ top ^

No new party needed: CPC (Global Times)
The future of the country's multi-party cooperation system remains secure under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and the creation of new parties is unnecessary, officials announced on Wednesday. "The cooperation system is a unique political advantage of the CPC. It is different from the one-party system and the multi-party system," Chen Xiqing, a deputy head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, said at a press briefing. "There are eight non-Communist parties and non-politically affiliated people. These two groups participate in state affairs under CPC leadership. They are not out of power and should not be viewed as the opposition," Chen said. "In the West, opposition parties' supervision aims to topple the ruling party, whereas China's non-communist parties intend to help the CPC improve its ruling and avoid mistakes through supervision," Chen noted, [...]. Zhang Xiansheng, a spokesman for the United Front Work Department, said the cooperation system extends "wide coverage" across society, [...]. According to him, there are about 840,000 non-Communist-party members, a major rise from 60,000 when the country started reform and opening-up in the late 1970s. By the end of 2010, the number of CPC members in China exceeded 80 million [...]. The CPC's vitality is not determined by time, but by its credibility among the public. The progress of political reform in China has to be balanced with the country's overall development, Cai added. On Monday, Premier Wen Jiabao stressed the need for political structural reform. "Without democracy, there is no socialism. Without freedom, there is no real democracy. Without the guarantee of economic and political rights, there is no real freedom," Xinhua quoted Wen as saying during a visit in London [...]. General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Hu Jintao called in 2009 for a vigorous improvement to inner-party democracy in order to enhance the CPC's ruling capacity and leadership, Xinhua reported. "The realization of inner-party democracy must rely on the guarantee of all Party members' democratic rights to know, to participate, to vote and to supervise in all of the Party's internal affairs," Hu said. Hu Shuli, editor-in-chief of Caixin Media, said in a commentary in Century Weekly magazine that "democratic centralism is one of the CPC's basic principles, but that in reality, centralism is usually overemphasized." "Due to over-centralism, some officials gain excessive power at the expense of democracy. This also brews corruption. That's why inner-party democracy is emphasized," Hu Shuli said [...]. ^ top ^

Party is deifying itself, scholar warns (SCMP)
An outspoken academic has launched a scathing attack on the propaganda blitz marking the Communist Party's 90th anniversary, saying the ongoing campaign is deifying the party. In an open letter to the party leadership just two days ahead of tomorrow's anniversary, Professor Zhao Shilin, a scholar at Beijing's Minzu University of China, also criticised the propaganda machine for trumpeting the party's successes and achievements "selectively", while deliberately ignoring the "terrible mistakes" the party has made. "Don't deify and glorify the Communist Party in the propaganda campaign to mark the party's 90th anniversary," Zhao wrote. As the anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party has drawn closer, the country has been swept up in a wave of orchestrated revolutionary nostalgia unseen since the Cultural Revolution [...]. Zhao also attacked an ongoing campaign, launched by Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai some three years ago and now flourishing across the country, urging citizens to sing "red songs". In the run-up to the anniversary, the Chinese people have been constantly urged "to love the party, love the nation and love socialism". Propaganda tsar Li Changchun, ranked No 5 in the party's nine-man Politburo Standing Committee, recently ordered state media to create "a dense atmosphere of solemnity and ardour, joy and peace, unity and advancement and scientific development". "[We] should not let the `masters' (the people) say to the `servants' (party officials) every day `the party is my dear mother'," Zhao wrote, referring to popular songs that describe the ruling party as the people's beloved mother […]. "Yes, without the Chinese Communist Party, there is no new China," Zhao said. "Also there is no Great Leap Forward campaign, no anti-rightist campaign and no Cultural Revolution." During the Great Leap Forward, from 1958 to 1961, millions died of hunger under late leader Mao Zedong's extremist economic policies. Millions of intellectuals were purged, with many tortured to death under Mao's anti-rightist campaign in 1957 and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution [from 1966 to 1976]. "The propaganda campaign to mark the party's anniversary should not just focus on the [party's] achievements, and even go as far as to deify the party, while turning a blind eye to numerous corrupt officials. [We] should not fill our ears with [such words as] great, glorious and righteous," Zhao said, referring to a party slogan - "the party is great, glorious and righteous". ^ top ^

Unrest over land flares again in Inner Mongolia (SCMP)
Police beat up and detained ethnic Mongolian herders protesting against a lead mine's expansion on to grazing land, an overseas rights group said yesterday. The New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre said the trouble began when the lead mine in Bayannuur, Inner Mongolia, took over a piece of grazing land last month. "After repeatedly petitioning the [local] governments expressing their concerns regarding the danger to their environment and health with no satisfactory response, on June 24 frustrated herders marched to the area of the mine and shut down the mine's water pump," the group said in an e-mailed statement. "On June 25, the [local] government mobilised more than 50 riot police and attacked the protesters. Many herders were beaten severely and taken away by police. Their health condition and status are unknown as of the date of this report," it added [...]. The protesters are among a group of 600 herders who moved to land bordering the mine about a decade ago. An ethnic Han Chinese woman, Wang Cuiping, who lives in housing on the mine compound, said that nearly two weeks ago, about 100 of the herders set up their traditional dome tents in front of the mine's offices in protest [...]. The shutdown of the water pump forced production at the mine to be suspended for two days, she said. She said the mine agreed to compensate the 600 herders with 1.2 million yuan (HK$1.4 million) in total, and the herders left two days ago. An official reached by telephone at the Bayannuur government said he had not heard of any protests, and declined further comment. Calls to the lead mine went unanswered [...]. ^ top ^

I am a free man, my guards are not (SCMP)
Mainland activist Hu Jia says he used to be filled with vengeful thoughts when police came knocking on his door, followed him everywhere or held him in extrajudicial detention. After 3-1/2 years in prison, Hu, one of the mainland's most high-profile dissidents, says his old hatred for them has gone [...]. The 37-year-old Buddhist and activist was released on Sunday but is still guarded by dozens of security men who block visitors from going near his home on the outskirts of Beijing. A convoy of cars follows him and his wife wherever they go. There are even security people outside his parents' home, he said [...]. "My hatred in the past has turned into pity... those people who make us live in hell, do you think they live in paradise? "I'm a free person but they are not free. At least I have freedom in thought and the freedom not to do bad things, but they don't." Hu said he was treated with respect by police and prison guards while in jail - most of the time [...]. Hu, who has campaigned for Tibetan antelopes, Aids patients in rural villages and fellow activists in detention, said he spent about 2-1/2 years studying law in prison and spoke about his vision for the country with prison police. "I told them the charge 'inciting subversion' is an infringement of people's freedom of speech... I told them we must have this law abolished and we cannot allow it to be a sword of Damocles forever dangling over everyone's head," he said, raising his voice [......]. His passion for democracy, freedom and human rights appears undiminished, although he says he will now take a less confrontational approach for the sake of his three-year-old child, his wife and his parents. Hu said that he wants to push for the rule of law rather than just tackle individual cases where people's rights have been abused. "We have to get down to the root cause," he said. He added: "If the charge `inciting subversion of sovereignty' is never scrapped, police will carry on arresting government critics" [......]. Hu said it was a sign of the authorities' weakness. "We have to let them know that if they carry on like this, there will be no future. They should know they are only digging their own grave through [these] measures." Hu's sentence included a year of deprivation of political rights on his release. He emphasised his conversations with reporters were not interviews but discussions among friends. He believed a moment of truth and reconciliation would come, as in South Africa, adding: "The revenge mentality should end - we need rationality and the rule of law. Our duty is to ensure history is [correctly] remembered.". ^ top ^

World's longest cross-sea bridge opens in east China (People's Daily Online)
The world's longest cross-sea bridge spanning Jiaozhou Bay of Qingdao City, Shandong Province, opened on Thursday. The opening ceremony of the 36.48-km eight-lane Qingdao Jiaozhou Bay Bridge was held Thursday morning. The bridge, connecting the urban district of the city to its Huangdao district, cost 14.8 billion yuan (2.3 billion U.S. dollars). Construction of the bridge began in May 2007. The bridge will shorten the route between the two centers by 30 km, cutting travel time down from over 40 minutes to around 20 minutes, said Han Shouxin, deputy director of the city's traffic management committee [...].." ^ top ^

CPC warned of complacency (Global Times)
Celebrations have festooned nationwide for the 90th birthday of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Party officials used the occasion to warn against complacency and urged members to "serve the people wholeheartedly." In a commentary to be published today, the People's Daily urges all Party members to never forget the principle of serving the people wholeheartedly and to integrate the people's interests into their work. "All comrades of the Party must always keep in mind that the source of strength for economic development and social progress comes from close dependence on the people, trust in the people, and consideration of the people's fundamental interests," the commentary says. It warns that the Party should never feel complacent and refuse to make progress in light of the expectations of the people, [...]. The comments came after [...] Hu Jintao urged Party committees on Tuesday at various levels to maintain the Party's "advanced nature." Stressing the ability to manage itself strictly, Hu urged the CPC to improve its governance and enhance its ability to root out corruption among various other risks. During a visit to London on Monday, Premier Wen Jiabao said that the best way to eradicate "corruption, unfair income distribution and other ills" in China is to "firmly advance political structural reform and build socialist democracy under the rule of law" [...]. The Changjiang Daily said in an editorial that Wen's repeated emphasis on political reform reflected the Party leadership's overall determination on this matter. "Some officials worry that political reform may bring turbulence and harm the economy. Some others think that as long as the economy is progressing, political reform is unnecessary. They are wrong. Political reform is the foundation for the success of other reforms," the daily said. Wang Yang, the Party chief of Guangdong Province, said Wednesday during a provincial celebration meeting that the Party needs to foresee the challenges and problems ahead and manage gaps between reality and expectation. "We should not let flowers and applause drown out public opinion, we should not let achievement figures cover existing problems and we should not let a peaceful and harmonious society numb our awareness of the unexpected," he said [...]. ^ top ^

Rivals celebrate in competing styles (SCMP)
Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai led a mass revolutionary song sing-along ahead of the Communist Party's 90th anniversary today. Political rival and predecessor Wang Yang told cadres not to be overwhelmed by flowers and applause and not to overlook public opinion [...]. Wang called for "free thinking and mind liberation" to remove red tape and obstacles to economic development, for Guangdong to "be a vanguard of scientific development" and focus on "real happiness" for its people, [...]. In Chongqing, Bo has been busy churning out new campaigns and slogans to praise the ruling Communist Party. On Wednesday, he presided over a 100,000-strong rally of revolutionary songs, to which even former US state secretary Henry Kissinger was invited. Ong Yew-kim, an expert on mainland politics, said Wang's sophisticated speech was an oblique criticism of Bo's "red campaign" and suggested that two very different political views were competing within the party. "Personally, I believe Wang's speech also tried to reassure Hong Kong... that Guangdong won't follow Chongqing's leftism," he said. In Guangdong's best-selling Southern Metropolis News, Wang's speech took out the front page, with the headline in huge red characters, while Bo's red song campaign merited only a four-paragraph report on an inside page. The Nanfang Daily omitted any mention of Bo's red song campaign [...]. Beijing-based independent commentator Yao Bo said he believed the Guangdong and Chongqing models were in competition, with Guangdong representing reform and opening-up but facing the task of upgrading itself, and Chongqing reverting to leftist stereotypes. Some scholars have criticised Chongqing for wasting billions of yuan of public money organising mass revolutionary singing events over the past two years. ^ top ^

China blocks Google+ (Global Times)
Google China said on Thursday that it was suffering no technical difficulties after China blocked Google+, the giant's new social networking platform. A Google spokesperson told the Global Times on condition of anonymity that "there is nothing technically wrong on our side," but refused to elaborate. According to ABC News, the newly launched Google+ is the search giant's most ambitious attempt to break into the social networking realm, [...]. Although Google+ is not yet complete and still accessible only by invitation, it has spurred high expectations and wide interest, the report said [...]. The new social networking platform is currently only available to a small group of users, and China has reportedly blocked the new social media site. The blocking of Google+ has caused controversy among analysts in Western countries, as China has already blocked some social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare. "This was the quickest blockage I can remember," New York's Daily News quoted China Internet analyst Sage Brennan as saying, [...]. Meanwhile, James Lewis, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that there is a grudge match between Google and China. Google is not very popular with the Chinese government," he said, adding that "Chinese authorities are really afraid of social networks, in particular of American social networks, and they think the US government uses them to destabilize China" [...]. Kang Lingyi, a hacker and editor-in-chief of a current affairs website, told the Global Times that China has its own ways of managing the services, and that the operation of such services needs to be allowed by relevant authorities. China has already established its own social networking services, such as Sina weibo, Kang added. ^ top ^



Foreigners top drug traffickers (China Daily)
More than 95 percent of the 98 drug smuggling cases heard at the second branch of the Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate since 2008 involved foreign defendants, an official of the municipal prosecuting authority said on Wednesday. From 2008 to May 2011, the procurators established 98 drug trafficking cases, which accounted for 67 percent of the 147 smuggling cases, according to the procuratorate's statistics. The procuratorate is responsible for handling all drug trafficking cases in Beijing. Many of the foreign drug traffickers were from developing or under-developed countries in Southern Africa, Central Asia and Southeast Asia, where drug-related crime has a long history and is rampant, Gui Yang, head of the public prosecution department of the procuratorate, said at a news briefing [...]. Li Wenjun, an associate professor at the Chinese People's Public Security University specializing in the investigation of drug smuggling, told China Daily the reasons for the increasing number of foreign traffickers were the county's fast economic development and a market of keen buyers [...]. "The majority of the African or Southeast Asian traffickers, especially the women, were very poor and had little education," she said. "Meanwhile, the demand for drugs in some coastal cities in our country encouraged these people." Qu Hong, the head press officer with the prosecuting authority, said that many new and more elusive ways of smuggling drugs have started to emerge in the capital, [...]. He also said the amount of smuggled drugs had been increasing since 2008. In 2008, the largest amount of trafficked drugs in a single case was 2.45 kg. By the end of 2010, it was 13 kg, according to statistics from the procuratorate [...]. Dai Peng, director of the criminal investigation department at Chinese People's Public Security University, said the best way to solve these difficulties is to cooperate with foreign police and customs. "We should first reach a consensus with foreign countries about cracking down on drug smuggling," he said. ^ top ^

Beijing invests in small towns (Global Times)
Beijing is building a 10 billion yuan ($1.55 billion) fund to splurge on 42 small towns in the city's outskirts, authorities announced on Tuesday. The capital would pick 42 out of 182 small towns around the city for development, according to a press release from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform on Tuesday. Every outlying district and county would have one fund-supported town during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), the Beijing Times on Tuesday quoted commission district and county division director Xiao Huili as saying. Each town would have a specialty such as tourism, advanced agriculture, conferencing or an industrial park, according to the release. Pilot schemes will begin with tourism development in Changgou township of Fangshan district and an industrial park economy for both Weishanzhuang of Daxing district and Lisui in Shunyi district, the release said. As the small towns are situated at the junction between the countryside and urban areas, the plan would help resolve the agricultural problems and provide more space for residents from both downtown Beijing and the countryside, according to the press release [......]. Good governance would be the key to the three cities' success, Li believed. The government will invest 500 million yuan ($77.27 million) venture capital guiding fund, hoping to attract capital from the China Development Bank Capital Corporation, State-owned and private companies, social insurance funds and overseas funds [...]. The authorities had signed the small town development fund cooperation agreement to experiment with an equity fund model to deal with funding shortages in small town development, a first in the country, according to the commission. ^ top ^

Beijing issues pay rise guidelines for this year (China Daily)
Enterprises in Beijing are advised to give their employees a wage rise of about 10 percent and no less than 5 percent this year, according to a living cost adjustment guide issued on Wednesday by Beijing Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security. The guide is intended as a basis for employers and employees to collectively discuss wage adjustments this year, but is not obligatory. For those enterprises that are not making money the wage rise can be less than 5 percent or even zero, but wages should not be below Beijing's minimum wage, which is 1,160 yuan ($179) a month. According to the bureau, the guide, based on the government's goal of macro-control for this year, is a means for the government to redistribute social wealth. It also stipulates that executives should not get a rise unless staff members do. Statistics from the bureau show that the average salary in Beijing last year was 74,446 yuan a year, a 28.6 percent increase on that of 2009. While for factory workers and service providers, the average annual income was 34,328 yuan, about a 7 percent increase [...]. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of China also said that the minimum wage across the country will rise by an average of 13 percent every year for the next five years. Employees welcomed the guidelines but worry that enterprises will ignore them [...]. But with commodity prices rising, food is becoming increasingly difficult to afford, especially for those on low incomes [...]. ^ top ^



Shanghai unveils plan for 7 new satellite cities (People's Daily Online)
As the key goal in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for Shanghai, the city will focus on the urban planning of suburbs in seven new satellite cities and on developing links with neighboring cities in the Yangtze River Delta. The municipal city held a news conference on Monday to announce a long-term plan to move development from the downtown area to the suburbs. "The development of new cities in the suburban area will help Shanghai to become an international city with a well-balanced urban and rural development system and to lead the upgrading restructure of the Yangtze River Delta," said Hu Jun, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Planning, Land and Resources Administration. According to the plan, the seven new cities, [...]] will be developed to be the main industrial bases for advanced manufacturing, emerging industries and the modern services industry [...]. The plan also said that the high-density population in the urban area would be reduced by equipping the new cities with supporting facilities such as schools, hospitals and cultural centers to encourage more people to move out of the city center [...]. The goal for the Songjiang New City, the biggest among the seven new cities, was to have as many as 1.1 million residents in an area of 120 sq km by 2020. Population targets have been set for six other new cities as well. "We are trying to attract more residents with convenient transport networks, including high-speed railway and other rail transitions as well as better job opportunities after the launch of industrial bases," said Hu [...]. ^ top ^



Guangdong plans big rewards for tipsters (China Daily)
South China's Guangdong province may reward those who report corruption according to the amount of ill-gotten money involved in the case, reported. The report said Guangdong's move is modeled after Chongqing municipality, where reporting a crime can result in rewards of up to 200,000 yuan ($29,740). The Guangdong government said they are planning the project without disclosing the exact amount of rewards. Currently, the provincial government's highest reward for reporting a crime is 30,000 yuan, the report said. ^ top ^



New enterprises set up in Xinjiang's poor regions to enjoy favorable tax policies (Xinhua)
China will give favorable tax treatment to companies established in poor areas of the country's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from 2010 to 2020, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday. The poor areas include the southern regions of Xinjiang, border cities and counties, as well as national priority poverty alleviation and development counties, the ministry said in a statement on its website. Companies set up in those poor areas will be exempt from corporate income taxes during the first two years since their establishment. The government will levy only half of corporate taxes on them during the following three years, the statement said. The move will help push forward Xinjiang's leapfrog development and maintain long-term stability. ^ top ^



Police accused of double standards (SCMP)
Organisers of the annual July 1 anti-government march yesterday denounced police "double standards" for lax treatment of a rival pro-Beijing group hosting celebrations in Central on the same day. Police have imposed harsh noise restrictions on the marchers, making shouting slogans and playing music possible causes for arrest if officers consider them too loud. But it was revealed yesterday that the Hong Kong Celebrations Associations, headed by executive councillor and pro-Beijing unionist Cheng Yiu-tong, would be allowed to hold a carnival in Central on Friday without any noise restrictions. "It is crystal clear that the police are applying double standards," said Gary Fan Kwok-wai, convenor of the march organiser the Civil Human Rights Front [...]. The carnival will be held in Chater Garden and Statue Square to mark the 14th anniversary of the handover [...]. Cheng said yesterday that his association had obtained the go-ahead from the police with no noise controls. He declined to comment on the suggestion that his group had been given preferential treatment because of its political background, but said: "Our carnival, unlike the protest march, is not located in a densely populated residential area. But overall, the government has been very supportive of our work and thus the preparation work for our carnival has been going very well indeed" [...]. The Civil Human Rights Front has lodged an appeal to the Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions, which is expected to deliver a ruling today after a hearing. Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong yesterday dismissed suggestions that the police had been targeting the front, saying the restrictions on the organisers were more or less the same as those for the marches in previous years [...]. Fan admitted similar conditions were imposed in previous years but the front decided to appeal this time after sensing a more hardline approach by police against protesters in recent months [...]. More than 50,000 people are expected at Friday's protest march, at which one of the demands will be for Tsang to step down. ^ top ^



Exporters in Macao face manpower shortages (Xinhua)
Over 60 percent of Macao's manufacturers faced the challenge of insufficient workers, although they were optimistic about the territory's exports in the coming six months, the Macao Daily Times reported on Saturday. The newspaper quoted a latest survey by the city's Economic Services Bureau as saying that 78.6 percent of the interviewed manufacturers faced the challenge of surging prices of materials and 73.7 percent faced increasing international competition in the first quarter of 2011. Aside from prices, there have been other issues that have raised concern for local manufacturers. According to the survey, 64.9 percent said they were affected by issues of insufficient workers. The lack of workers is something that has been raised not only by the manufacturing industry, but also by local businessmen who blame new rules for foreign worker employment they believe restrains the development of the economy, the report said. Meanwhile, 38.2 percent of respondents expect exports to " slightly increase", while only 8.6 percent believe exports will " strongly increase" in the next six months, according to the survey. ^ top ^



Taiwan upgrades fleet of locally made fighters (SCMP)
Taiwan will this week receive its first batch of a fleet of Indigenous Defensive Fighters upgraded as part of a US$587 million project to beef up air defences, officials said yesterday.

An unspecified number of the domestically-manufactured jets were scheduled to be delivered in central Taichung city on Thursday, an air force spokesman said. The defence ministry is spending NT$17 billion (HK$4.58 billion) upgrading 71 IDFs, or nearly half of the fleet based in the southern Tainan air base, as part of a four-year project which began in 2009 [...]. The air force had been reluctant to give the green light to the project, first presented by the island's sole aircraft-maker Aerospace Industrial Development Corp in the early 2000s, experts said. But Taiwan fast-tracked the upgrade in 2008 after the United States refused to sell the island F16C/D jets or upgrade its F16A/Bs. Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou, the architect warming ties with Beijing over the past three years, renewed his call on the United States to sell F-16C/Ds while meeting in Taipei on Saturday with Paul Wolfowitz, a former US deputy secretary of defence who is now chairman of the US Taiwan Business Council. The US last year approved US$6.4 billion in weapons for Taiwan, including Patriot missiles and Black Hawk helicopters. Not included were fighter jets, which Taiwan says are necessary as the mainland rapidly increases its military spending. Beijing angrily protested the package, temporarily cutting defence ties with the US [...]. ^ top ^

Six decades of suspicion finally over (SCMP)
Some came for medical check-ups, some to check out the property market. One planned to collect her father's ashes. Close to 300 "solo" mainland tourists arrived in Taiwan yesterday, the first mainlanders in more than six decades to be allowed to make visits, individually or in small groups, to the island following a warming of cross-strait relations in recent times [...]. Taiwan and the mainland [...] have been mending fences since 2008, when Ma Ying-jeou, of the increasingly mainland-friendly Kuomintang party, became Taiwan's president, adopting a policy of engagement with Beijing. The two sides since have signed a series of agreements, including one permitting mainland tourists to visit Taiwan. Visitors have been allowed to travel to the island in large groups since July 2008, then earlier this month Taipei agreed to lift its ban on solo tourists [...]. Initially, up to 500 tourists a day are allowed to visit for up to 15 days at a time. The ban had been in place since 1949 because of fears that unsupervised mainland tourists might overstay and start working illegally or engage in espionage [...]. Taiwan says it will review the scheme in three months before deciding whether to raise the quota and open up to more mainland cities. The purposes of yesterday's visits - from as short as three days to as long as nine - ranged from simple sightseeing to medical check-ups and property market surveys [...]. Taiwan said the programme would admit more than 170,000 individual mainland tourists and generate at least NT$2.4 billion (HK$650 million) in economic gains for the island each year. ^ top ^

Former Taiwan leader charged of misusing public money (Xinhua)
Former Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui was charged by prosecutors Thursday for embezzling public funds of 7.79 million U.S. dollars during his tenure. Prosecutors also indicted Liu Tai-ying, founder of the Taiwan Research Institute, according to a statement on the website of the island's prosecutors office. Lee stands accused of embezzling national security funds, laundering the money for personal use, and transferring it to Liu when he was in office from 1988 to 2000. Liu was charged with laundering the money for personal use and paying expenses of the Taiwan Research Institute with it, the statement said [...]. ^ top ^



China steps up subsidy help for the needy amid inflation woes (People's Daily Online)
More than half of all Chinese provincial-level regions have established a mechanism to offer subsidies to the needy as high inflation pushes up their daily living costs. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, said Friday that 18 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities had set up the mechanism to give financial support to the needy in both urban and rural areas. Another six provincial-level regions will implement the mechanism before the end of August, according to an NDRC statement. The statement said the entire country will be covered by the end of this year. The scheme mainly covers the disabled, low-income residents and unemployed. In Tianjin, a monthly subsidy of 20 yuan is offered to the needy if the consumer price index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, rises between 3-5 percent; if the CPI rises between 5-7 percent, the subsidy will rise to 30 yuan. Most regions will hand out subsidies if the price index surges above 4 percent [...]. The NDRC said earlier this week that the country's inflation rate will accelerate this month despite the government's efforts to stem price increases. It estimated that June's overall price levels will be higher than those of May [...]. Sheng Laiyuan, spokesperson of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said earlier this month that rising food prices were a major cause of the high inflation while a severe drought this spring and floods in south China had also pushed prices up. Prices of pork, the main kind of meat consumed in the country, have shot up this year. Pork price increased 40.4 percent in May year-on-year [...]. According to data from the NBS, pork prices continued to rise during June 11-20 from the previous 10 days. Prices were up more than 4.3 percent [...]. In a written article by Premier Wen Jiabao in the Financial Times newspaper on June 23, he said China has made capping price rises the priority of macroeconomic regulation and that a host of targeted policies, including hiking interest rates and bank's reserve requirement ratio, have worked. He also expressed his confidence that the overall price level is within a controllable range as the nation's grain output has increased for seven years in a row and there is an oversupply of main industrial products. ^ top ^

China's local-level government debts exceed 10 trillion yuan (People's Daily Online)
China announced the size of its local governments' debts for the first time on Monday, which experts said will ease concerns over systemic financial risks. Liu Jiayi, the auditor-general of the National Audit Office, said in a report submitted to China's top legislature that local government debts totalled 10.72 trillion yuan (1.66 trillion U.S. dollars) by the end of 2010 [...]. Liu's report marked the first time for China to publicly reveal the size of its local governments' debts [...]. "There have been concerns about a possible hard landing for the Chinese economy, as well as systemic financial risks, based on the overflow of local government debts. The disclosure of the size of local government debts will ease these concerns," said Li Yang, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "There are local-level risks, but these are not as serious as some people thought," Li said. The indebted local governments have repayment obligations for approximately 62 percent of the total 10.72 trillion yuan sum. Obligations under bond account for 21.8 percent of the debt and obligations to render assistance make up the last 15.58 percent, according to Liu. ^ top ^

Ministry: US export control disappoints China (China Daily)
A spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Tuesday China is deeply disappointed at the United States' decision to withhold export control of high-tech products to China, saying such move was "discriminatory." "The persistent US discrimination against China is not in line with the efforts to establish a Sino-US cooperative relationship of mutual respect that benefits each other," said MOC spokesman Yao Jian in a statement on MOC website. The remarks of discontent came after the US Department of Commerce rejected the inclusion of China into its new list of license exception, Strategic Trade Authorization (STA), this month [...]. Yao said US exports to China have expanded rapidly in recent years, but exports of high-tech items lag far behind goods such as agricultural products. China's trade with the United States climbed by 22.3 percent to $169.52 billion in the first five months of this year with a trade surplus of US$65.5 billion, according to the Customs data [...]. "The unreasonable export control not only constrains the trade development between the two countries, but directly damages the interests of US firms and reduces their job opportunities," he added. According to the US Commerce Department, the STA regime aims to build higher fences around a core set of items whose misuse can pose "a national security threat" to the United States [...]. Yao reiterated that loosening of export control against China is a major concern for China [...]. ^ top ^

Energy industry 'triangle' to be implemented soon (China Daily)
A plan to build an energy industry "golden triangle" in Northwest China has been submitted for approval and may be implemented soon, the China Securities Journal quoted an unnamed source as saying Tuesday. The plan involves building a comprehensive energy production and supply base that will cover an area of 133,800 square kilometers in Northwest China's Inner Mongolia and Ningxia autonomous regions and the provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu, according to the report. The move is intended to allow the government to take advantage of petroleum resources in the nearby Ordos Basin, [...]. The plan is part of an overall effort to map out regional revitalization plans in Inner Mongolia, the report said. A series of revitalization programs related to the energy industry will be implemented in other developing regions in the near future, Chen Xiushan, an economics professor from the People's University of China, said in the report. ^ top ^

China's annual minimum wage to increase by 13 percent (People's Daily Online)
In the next five years, China's minimum wage standard is expected to be raised by at least 13 percent on average annually and the minimum wage standard in most parts of China will reach more than 40 percent of the average income of employees in urban areas, according to the 12th Five-Year Plan of the development of human resources and social security released recently. According to the plan, China will accelerate to form a reasonable and orderly pattern of wage and income distribution, promote the reasonable and rapid growth of the salaries of employees, restrain and gradually reduce unreasonable wage gap and realize no arrears of wages of employees, especially the migrant workers' wage. In the first quarter of this year, China's 13 provinces and municipalities have raised the minimum wage by 22.6 percent on average. [...]. ^ top ^

China revises individual income tax law, raises exemption threshold (Xinhua)
China's top legislature on Thursday adopted an amendment to the country's individual income tax law. The amendment raises the monthly tax exemption threshold from 2,000 yuan (307.7 U.S. dollars) to 3,500 yuan (538.5 U.S. dollars). The adjusted threshold is 500 yuan greater than the amount originally proposed in a previous draft of the amendment, which was submitted to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee on Monday for its second reading [...]. The amendment was "necessary and timely" and will reduce tax burdens for people with low incomes, as well as help to adjust the distribution of income, according to the committee's proposal. The previous law stated that individuals who earn less than 2,000 yuan (307.7 U.S. dollars) per month are not required to pay income taxes. The draft amendment, submitted for its first reading on April 20, proposed raising the threshold to 3,000 yuan per month [...]. Before the NPC Standing Committee started its second reading on Monday, the legislature publicized suggestions and opinions solicited from online taxpayers, hoping to acquire useful ideas for lawmakers to consider in their reading of the draft amendment [...]. ^ top ^

'Discriminatory' govt procurement rules scrapped (China Daily)
Three key rules on indigenous innovation for government procurement, which have come under fire from foreign companies for being discriminatory, were scrapped on Friday. Experts said the move, praised by foreign firms for allowing them better access to the domestic market, shows that the government is determined to continue to open to the outside world and treat Chinese and foreign companies equally. The Ministry of Finance said on its website that the three rules, linking government procurement to indigenous innovation by domestic firms, have been scrapped from July 1 [...]. Foreign businesses praised the scrapping of the rules, calling it a positive sign and an indication that they would have easier access to government purchasing orders, worth $1 trillion annually. The move is "a step forward toward leveling the playing field in the government procurement market in China," Davide Cucino, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China, said [...]. The American Chamber of Commerce in China also welcomed the news. "It is a meaningful step... in de-linking government procurement from indigenous innovation, and it is consistent with China's commitments made during the recent Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue," AmCham-China said in a statement but also warned that it would monitor its implementation. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

Trade zone to boost DPRK economy (China Daily)
A free-trade area and a tax-free zone will be set up as part of the first special economic zone straddling the mainland and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), a Chinese government official told China Daily. Dai Yulin, secretary of the Dandong committee of the Communist Party of China, said the area will help boost foreign direct investment, turning the zone into a hot investment destination. In early June, China and the DPRK agreed to build three special economic zones to enhance China-DPRK economic and trade cooperation and promote economic relations with the rest of the world. A free-trade area of 20,000 sq m will be established on Hwanggumpyong Island, an undeveloped DPRK island adjacent to China's border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, where a tax-free zone of 10 sq km will be set up. "Hwanggumpyong Island and Dandong city will become the hot ground for investors worldwide, as vast business opportunities exist on the island, DPRK's first open zone where international trade projects related to the DPRK will be developed," Dai said. He said both domestic and foreign investors have shown great interest in joining the economic zone [...]. Those economic zones will be followed by development of the Rason and Wihwa Island economic zones. According to Li Wei, an economist from Standard Chartered Shanghai, establishing these zones will have a positive impact on the economies of both the DPRK and China's northeast region. "Prosperity in the DPRK will help stabilize the economic and political situation in the Asia-Pacific region," he said [...]]. The DPRK announced it would open up to the outside and promote local economic growth after leader Kim Jong-il visited China from May 20 to 26, signaling Pyongyang's approach to studying China's development and attracting more Chinese investment. "Pyongyang is now increasing its efforts to develop the economy. Kim's visit helped promote the construction of the highway connecting China's Hunchun city and Najin in the DPRK and a new bridge across the Yalu River, projects which can help attract more Chinese investment to the DPRK," said Hu Mingyuan, an assistant research scholar with the Center for Northeast Asian Studies, a research institution in Jilin province. "We expect to see details about rules and regulations tailored for the special economic zone and the free trade zone. A stable investment environment is the most important thing," said Zhang Xiaoji, senior researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Council. ^ top ^

Seoul delegation to visit N. Korea resort (Global Times)
South Korea will send a delegation of government officials and business representatives to a North Korean mountain resort tomorrow to discuss Pyongyang's decision to strip a South Korean company of its contract to run tours to the area, an official said. The North said this month it had revised a law overseeing the tourism project at Mount Kumgang on the east coast, effectively ending Hyundai Asan's contract to exclusively run all cross-border tours to the resort. The North wants to redevelop the resort, which has been shut since 2008 after Seoul suspended tours following the fatal shooting of a South Korean tourist there. Mount Kumgang had been a lucrative source of hard currency for the destitute North under two liberal governments for the South, attracting 300,000 tourists a year at its peak. Pyongyang said this month that South Korean companies had until June 30 to visit Mount Kumgang "to discuss the matter of disposing of the frozen and seized properties." The Unification Ministry announced on Monday that the visiting delegation would consist of six government officials and six representatives from corporate investors in the Mount Kumgang complex, including Hyundai Asan [...]. The North last year seized or froze several South Korean assets at the resort, including two hotels, a duty free shop and a golf range as well as a reunion center for families. Pyongyang has since taken steps to try to revitalize the zone that once served as a key cash cow for the North. The North's state media said Mount Kumgang would be open to outside investors, including South Koreans with investors encouraged to build casinos, nightclubs and golf courses. ^ top ^

North Korea, Russia cancel planned summit (Global Times)
North Korea has cancelled a planned meeting between its leader Kim Jong-il and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Vladivostok, according to media reports. A Russian intelligence government source told the Seoul-based Yonhap news agency that the summit was called off as Moscow and Pyongyang had failed to resolve "narrow differences over the agenda" of the talks. Japan's Kyodo news agency quoted sources as saying that among the reasons given by Pyongyang was that Kim was not in the best of health [...]. However, Reuters quoted Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova as saying that the meeting between Medvedev and Kim was not on the agenda for the Russian leader's trip to Vladivostok. Medvedev is scheduled to travel there to chair a conference on preparations for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2012. "It's more likely that the summit between the two leaders was cancelled because the two sides need more time to map out the details," Lü Chao, director of the Korean Research Center at China's Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, [...]. The reports of the planned meeting between Medvedev and Kim, which would have been the first between top leaders of Russia and North Korea since 2002, came after Kim's trip to China last month. The North said last month it would have no further contact with the Lee Myung-bak administration in Seoul. Russia is a member of the stalled Six-Party Talks aimed at ending the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. Russia has long been a diplomatically important country for North Korea and the two sides have been cooperating strategically, Lü said, noting that it was Pyongyang that invited Moscow to participate in the six-way dialogue [...]. ^ top ^



President to pay State visit to Ukraine (Montsame)
The President Ts.Elbegdorj will pay a state visit to Ukraine on June 26-29 at an invitation of the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. During the upcoming visit, the President Ts.Elbegdorj will hold talks with governmental and parliamentary authorities of Ukraine, and will issue a Mongolia-Ukraine joint statement on development of the partnership relations. The sides will also establish some treaties and agreements focused on widening the bilateral cooperation. In addition to it, the President will visit Lvov city to leg the Land Forces Military Academy he had graduated. ^ top ^

Petroleum shortage likely to continue until Naadam (
Petroleum shortage has upset the rhythm of life in Ulaanbaatar. Many planning to spend the weekend away from the city were frustrated on Friday evening to find petrol stations either closed or not selling AI-92. AI-95 has also not been freely available for several days. Importing companies state that AI-92 petroleum is sold to those with tokens and cards, but few individuals have either. Their use is more common with business companies. Also, Petrovis has stopped issuing new cards. This situation is likely to continue until July 10, with the authorities believed to have instructed importers to hoard AI-92 for the time and release the stock during Naadam, so that the festival days are celebrated normally. Until then, people will be compelled to buy AI-80 petroleum which has a higher octane rate. It was seen on Sunday that some petrol stations displayed AI-92 price as MNT1,500 per liter but were actually charging MNT2,000. Some private taxi drivers have raised their rates to MNT1,000 per km. ^ top ^

Mongolia asks China for 22,000 tons of petroleum immediately (
Mongolia has requested China for immediate supply of 22,000 tons of AI-92 petroleum and of regular monthly supplies of 10,000 tons thereafter. Deputy Prime Minister M.Enkhbold, who heads the Mongolian team at meetings of the Mongolia-China Commission, made the request to the Chinese Ambassador on Tuesday and asked him to forward it to Chinese Deputy Minister for Commerce Chen Zyan, who leads his country's team to meetings of the commission. ^ top ^

Government will give finance (Montsame)
A Cabinet meeting on Wednesday decided to give one billion 541 million to estimate a damage caused by mining activity to the protected zones with water reservoirs and forest reserves. The money also include expences for closing mines and for nature restoration on the lands owned by holders of 246 special licenses in 12 aimags. The finance have been determined by environmental impact assessment commission according to offers from environmental impact assessment organizations. ^ top ^

Poland's honorary consulate opens here (Montsame)
A honorary consulate of Poland has opened in Ulaanbaatar. An opening ceremony has attracted representatives, led by the Ambassador of Poland to Mongolia Todash Chomiki, Poland's foreign affairs asisstant secretary Ms B.Stelmah and others. Poland's Embassy used to work here but was closed several years ago. For this reason, many suppose that the honorary consulate will definitely contribute to the ties between the two countries. At the ceremony, the sides exchanged views on present situation of the relations and cooperation and sealed an agreement on freeing the two sides' holders of diplomatic and official passports from visa requirements. Poland will chair the EU from July 1 this year. ^ top ^

Presidents call press conference (Montsame)
The Presidents of Mongolia and Ukraine have called a press conference after the expanded talks. It has been underlined that the Mongolia-Ukraine relations have been brought into a new level, and that the sides decided to develop the partnerships ties. Mr Elbegdorj has said that by sealing of the documents an aspiration of the two countries is confirmed to to widen the bilateral relations. he has added that Mongolia wants to cooperate with Ukraine in agriculture, defense, nuclear energy, mining and education. “This visit has contributed to developing of the Mongolia-Ukraine traditional friendly relations in the 21st century,” Ts.Elbegdorj has stressed. Ukraine's President has mentioned about warm and friendly talks with the Mongolian President, and said they exchanged views on possibility of widening the relations and agreed on specific issues. “We have reached a specific agreement on expanding the ties in educational sector. Our countries considered as necessary to support an effectiveness of works done by the intergovernmental commission,” he has said. During the press conference, the Ukrainian side reported that a decision is made to bestow upon the Mongolian leader the 1st class Order of Yaroslav Mudry for his contribution to the Mongolia-Ukraine relations. ^ 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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