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
  11-15.7.2011, No. 379  
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DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

China establishes diplomatic tie with South Sudan (People's Daily Online)
China established its diplomatic tie with the Republic of South Sudan Saturday and vowed to provide assistance at the best of its ability to develop the world's newest nation. Jiang Weixin, a special envoy of Chinese President Hu Jintao, signed the joint communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations with Foreign Minister of South Sudan Deng Alor Kol in Juba, capital of the new nation [...]. South Sudan is newly founded and lots of work needs to be done. China would strengthen its political contact with South Sudan, provide assistance at the best of its ability, and expand pragmatic cooperation in an all-round way, Jiang said at the opening ceremony of Chinese embassy. "The establishment of diplomatic ties and the official operation of the embassy have brought the relations between the two countries to a new stage," he said. "We also hope that South Sudan will set up an embassy in Beijing as soon as possible to promote communication," he said [...]. "There are still on-going negotiations on some unsettled issues between South Sudan and Sudan. We believe that the two sides would put peace first and solve the issues through negotiations and consultations based on mutual understanding," he said [...]. ^ top ^

China, Philippines agree not to let maritime disputes affect relations (Xinhua)
China and the Philippines on Friday agreed not to let maritime disputes affect their relations. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario exchanged views on the maritime disputes and agreed not to let the disputes affect "the broader picture of friendship and cooperation between the two countries," according to a joint press release issued after the ministers' talks in Beijing. ^ top ^

China, US agree on navy drills, dispute over S. China Sea (People's Daily Online)
Senior officers of the Chinese and United States armed forces agreed to conduct a series of exchange programs on Monday, but failed to iron out their differences regarding the South China Sea. Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) hosted his U.S. counterpart Mike Mullen with a red-carpet welcoming ceremony Monday morning [...]. According to a press release issued by the Defense Ministry, the two sides have agreed to carry out a number of exchange programs. Those programs range from anti-piracy drills in the Gulf of Aden, medical and rescue drills by hospital ships and humanitarian rescue and disaster relief drills by armed forces to exchanges between senior military officers and working group meetings [...]. During his four-day trip to China, Mullen [...] has met with Vice President Xi Jinping and other top military leaders such as Guo Boxiong and Liang Guanglie, as well as with Jing Zhiyuan, commander of the Second Artillery Force and Navy Commander Wu Shengli [...]. The oil- and gas-rich South China Sea is partially claimed by several southeast Asian states, including the Philippines and Vietnam. However, China has indisputable sovereignty over the sea's islands and their surrounding waters. Navies from the United States and the Philippines recently finished an 11-day military exercise near the South China Sea. The United States and Vietnam are scheduled to hold joint naval drills in the region from July 15 to 21. The U.S. side has repeated that it does not intend to engage in the disputes. "However, their behavior has given us some mixed signals," Chen said at a joint press conference [...]. "The U.S. is not going away (from the South China Sea). Our enduring presence in this region has been important to our allies for decades and will continue to be so," Mullen said on Sunday [...]. "We want to know how many U.S. military forces will be deployed in this area and what they will do with their presence," Chen said, [...]. In response to a question regarding U.S. surveillance operations in waters near the Chinese coastline, Chen said that China is a responsible country and that there is no need for the United States to conduct frequent surveillance in the region […]. ^ top ^

Chinese president stresses reinforcement of China-DPRK relations (People's Daily Online)
President Hu Jintao emphasized China's readiness to deepen its traditional friendship and boost mutually beneficial cooperation with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) during a meeting with a high-level DPRK delegation Monday afternoon. Hu said that as China and the DPRK celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the DPRK-China Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, the two countries have dispatched delegations to visit each other to jointly commemorate the signing. The delegations will further deepen China-DPRK relations and boost mutually beneficial cooperation, Hu said. Hu made the remarks during a meeting with Yang Hyong Sop, vice president of the Presidium of the DPRK's Supreme People's Assembly and leader of the delegation, at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Monday afternoon [......]. During his meeting with Yang, President Hu said that over the past 50 years, China and the DPRK have continuously advanced bilateral relations by respecting and supporting each other under the guidance of the treaty. "We are ready to work with the DPRK to carry forward traditions, embrace the future, maintain a neighborly friendship and strengthen cooperation," Hu said [...]. Hu said China is ready to boost the development of China-DPRK relations in a sustained and extensive way. Yang congratulated the Communist Party of China (CPC) on the celebration of its 90th founding anniversary this year. He said that DPRK-China relations have been developed and fostered by previous generations of leaders and are a source of "precious wealth" to be shared by both sides [...]. He said the DPRK places great importance on its relations with China, and is ready to work with China to continue to reinforce and expand bilateral relations and to collaborate with China to maintain peace and stability in the region [...]. ^ top ^

China to provide humanitarian materials to Libyan people (People's Daily Online)
China announced Monday to provide humanitarian materials worth 50 million yuan (7.73 million U.S. dollars) to the Libyan people. The move is made "to ease the humanitarian disaster of the Libyan people," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in response to a journalist's question. ^ top ^

Beijing to 'adjust plans' in bid for South Sudanese oil (SCMP)
China is keen to work with the new state of South Sudan in developing its oil industry but may have to adjust its investment plans, state media said. South Sudan produces about three-quarters of the former Sudan's 500,000-barrels-of-oil output and depends on oil for 98 per cent of its revenue. South Sudan funnels its oil through northern pipelines to Sudan's only commercial port on the Red Sea coast. South Sudan is involved in tortured negotiations over oil rights with its old civil war foe, which has received half of the revenues from southern oil for six years and wants pipeline fees after secession. China relied on Sudan as its sixth largest source of oil imports last year and has been keen to build a relationship with leaders in South Sudan. Li Zhiguo, charge d'affaires of the Chinese embassy in South Sudan, said China could leverage its experience in the oil industry in Sudan to help the new nation, Xinhua said [...]. "We'd like to carry forward [that] advantage in future co-operation with South Sudan” [...]. "Any intervention in this key sector from the outside would only complicate the situation" he said. "We will respect the decision by the two sides and adjust our plans of co-operation accordingly" [...]. ^ top ^

Politics Zhu Min nominated as Deputy Managing Director of IMF (China Daily)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced Tuesday that its Managing Director Christine Lagarde has proposed the appointment of Zhu Min, currently Special Advisor to the Managing Director, to the position of IMF's Deputy Managing Director. Lagarde also proposed the appointment of David Lipton, a White House aide, to the position of IMF's First Deputy Managing Director to succeed John Lipsky, whose term ends on August 31, 2011. Zhu last year joined the IMF as a Special Advisor to the Managing Director from the People's Bank of China (PBOC), China's central bank. Lagarde has proposed that Zhu assume his duties in the newly created Deputy Managing Director position on July 26, 2011, working with the other three Deputy Managing Directors in support of the Managing Director. Zhu has "a wealth of experience in government, international policy making and financial markets, strong managerial and communication skills as well as an institutional understanding of the Fund, and I look forward to his counsel," Lagarde said in a statement [...]. As Deputy Governor of the PBOC, Zhu was responsible for international affairs, policy research and credit information. Prior to his service at China's central bank, he held various positions at the Bank of China [...]. Lipton, a national of the United States, is currently serving as Special Assistant to the US President and Senior Director for International Economic Affairs at the US National Economic Council and US National Security Council at the White House [...]. IMF's Managing Director selects and appoints the First Deputy Managing Director and Deputy Managing Directors of the Fund. These appointments require approval by the Executive Board of the IMF. ^ top ^

China, Switzerland eye stronger military ties (China Daily)
Defense Minister Liang Guanglie met with his Swiss counterpart Ueli Maurer Wednesday, pledging to strengthen military ties between the two countries. "Bilateral ties have maintained sound development since the two countries established diplomatic relations. Military ties also saw healthy and stable advancement," Liang said. Recent years witnessed frequent high-level visits between the two militaries, the development of an annual dialogue mechanism between the two defense ministries and multiple exchanges in defense-related areas, Liang added. China is satisfied with the current state of bilateral military ties and is willing to work with Switzerland to develop them even further, Liang said. Maurer said the Swiss government and its people hope to strengthen the country's relations with China and are willing to promote political, economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries. "Maintaining close exchanges and cooperation between the two defense departments and militaries benefits both sides. Switzerland is willing to promote cooperation between the two defense departments and their militaries," Maurer said. ^ top ^

NZ questions Beijing's aid strategy (Global Times)
New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully raised concerns Wednesday about China's soft loans to Pacific nations such as Tonga, saying they could worsen the islands' already severe debt crisis. McCully said finances in Pacific island nations were being stretched by the soft loans, which come with a five-year interest-free period but have the potential to create a debt crisis when the repayments are due, according to AFP. "I'd like to encourage governments that provide support in the form of so-called soft loans to do more of by way of grants," McCully told reporters in Tonga [...]. "The issue with soft loans is there's always an element of doubt in everyone's minds about what might be forgiven later on." "Grants will leave specific countries knowing where they stand, knowing what their actual level of indebtedness is... soft loans arre of course more difficult to characterize and assess," he added. Jiang Yong, director of the Center for Economic Security Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that foreign aid has long been traded for diplomatic leverage by many countries. "Some Pacific nations continually switch allegiance between Taipei and Beijing in return for increased aid," Jiang told the Global Times [...]. Tonga's Acting Prime Minister Samiu Vaipulu said his government had adopted a policy of not borrowing any more money until 2013 in a bid to ease its debt burden, AFP said. Vaipulu also said the government was in discussions with China about converting a 118 million Tongan Pa'anga ($69.8 million) loan into a grant that would not have to be repaid. "It's still talk but nothing has been confirmed," he said. China is the Pacific's biggest supplier of soft loans, according to the Lowy Institute for International Policy, a Sydney-based think tank, which estimated in April that Beijing had pledged more than $600 million in the region since 2005 [...]. However, Jiang noted that aid from the West comes with conditions attached that are aimed at furthering the Western agenda in the region, which may not be shared by China. ^ top ^

China urges direct talks on South China Sea disputes (People's Daily Online)
China on Thursday reiterated that the South China Sea disputes should be resolved through direct negotiations between related parties in accordance with historical facts and recognized international laws. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a regular press briefing. "A lot of practices have proved that direct negotiations between related parties are the most effective way to resolve the disputes of territorial sovereignty as well as those pertaining to marine rights and interests," Hong said. He added that China's stance on the South China Sea issue is clear and consistent. Hong made the statement when commenting on Philippine Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario's public statement on bilateral disputes regarding the Nansha Islands. Del Rosario said China's hesitation to bring the disputes before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea showed that China might not be able to validate its stated positions in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). ^ top ^

Soldiers 'beat fisherman' (SCMP)
Armed Chinese soldiers allegedly beat a Vietnamese fisherman and threatened other crew members before driving them out of waters near disputed South China Sea islands claimed by both countries, a Vietnamese official said yesterday. A Chinese navy ship chased the fishermen before dispatching a speedboat with 10 soldiers armed with automatic rifles and batons, a border official in Vietnam's central Quang Ngai province said on condition of anonymity, [...]. The soldiers boarded the fishing boat near the contested Paracel Islands. The soldiers punched and kicked the Vietnamese captain and threatened nine other crew members in the July 5 incident, he said, adding the captain was not injured. The Vietnamese official said the Chinese soldiers confiscated one tonne of fish from the boat and drove it from the area. The fishermen continued working before coming to shore and reporting the incident to authorities on Wednesday, he said. ^ top ^

Chinese official visits UAE's planned carbon-neutral city, hopes for strategic partnership (Xinhua)
China attaches great importance to sustainable development and is ready to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in relevant fields, a visiting senior Chinese official said Thursday. He Guoqiang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC, made the remarks during a visit to Masdar City, a global clean-technology cluster that is currently under construction on the outskirts of the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi. The Chinese official viewed the scale model of the carbon- neutral city, a renewable energy initiative of Abu Dhabi which kicked off the project in 2008 [...]. On Wednesday, he also held talks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi [...]. People-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and the UAE have also become more and more active, he noted, saying the two sides continued to strengthen coordination and cooperation on important international affairs. China attaches great importance to its relations with the UAE and is willing to work with the Gulf nation to push forward the establishment of a strategic partnership between the two countries, He said [...]. Against the backdrop of significant changes in the regional situation, China is willing to play its due role as a permanent member of UN Security Council and work with the international community to strive for the realization of peace, stability and development in the Middle East, He said [...]. The current relationship between the UAE and China is becoming closer and they share more and more common interests, Sheikh Mohammed said. He expressed his hope that the two sides would make concerted efforts to establish a strategic partnership as soon as possible [...]. ^ top ^

Senior CPC official visits Iran to strengthen bilateral ties (Xinhua)
He Guoqiang, a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC), arrived in the central Iranian province of Isfahan on Thursday afternoon, kicking off an official visit to the Islamic Republic, which is designed to further strengthen the bilateral political and economic relations [...]. He, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC, is the second senior CPC official to visit Iran in less than a year. Li Changchun, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, paid a visit to Iran last September. The visits underlined the close political and economic relations between China and Iran as Tehran has been engaged in bitter diplomatic clashes with the United States and some other Western countries over its nuclear program. The West alleged that Iran has been seeking a covert nuclear arms project and slapped harsh sanctions against the country, but Tehran repeatedly says its nuclear endeavor is solely for peaceful purpose. China, while respecting the sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council against Iran, opposes some of the more harsh punishments taken by Western countries and has maintained business and trade relations with Iran [...]. He said in the statement that Iran, as a major country in the Middle East, has adopted a proactive foreign policy and played an important role in regional affairs [...]. He will travel to the Iranian capital Tehran on Friday afternoon, where he will meet with top Iranian leaders on Friday and Saturday, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Parliament speaker Ali Larijani [...]. He will also witness the signing of government and business agreements that is worth over 4 billion U.S. dollars [...]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Deathly silence is not so golden (SCMP)
In mainland politics, few secrets are guarded more zealously than those about the health of present and former leaders. While the authorities ban reports on this subject in the state media and try to censor such talk online, officials usually stay quiet if the speculation surfaces in overseas media. That explains why the developments last week around rumours that former president Jiang Zemin was dead were not only interesting reading for the public, but also lessons for mainland officials [...]. The news spread quickly through text messages and on microblogs. This writer received two such messages around 2am on Wednesday. But the speculation didn't start to gain credence until that night, when ATV led its 6pm news with Jiang's "death", announcing a last-minute change in its schedule to air a two-hour package on Jiang's life later that night [...]. Mainland leaders appeared to have told Xinhua to issue a terse English-language denial of Jiang's purported death, saying the reports were "pure rumour", and separately instructing the central government's liaison office to lambast the TV channel for "seriously breaching professional journalistic ethics" [...]. The credence of the ATV report partly came from Wang Zheng, ATV's majority owner. Wang, a mainland-born businessman, is widely known for his close ties to senior mainland officials and is rumoured to be close to Jiang's family. On Thursday, Wang denied that he had advance knowledge of the story and that he was a distant relative of Jiang's wife. While the Xinhua statement probably helped cool rumours in the short term, they're unlikely to go away, not least because it didn't explicitly deny the reports Jiang was ill. In fact, last week's developments have heightened speculation that Jiang's death may be approaching quickly [...]. At least one thing is clear: Jiang's health problems could dim the chances of promotion for those officials from the Shanghai faction. There are also some other key points to consider. Despite the Xinhua denial, some people still suggest that Jiang is dead and the government has delayed the announcement partly because of the time needed to prepare for his funeral. This is unlikely. The authorities might try - out of habit - to cover up the state of leaders' health, but it's impossible for them to cover up a leader's death. Moving forward, officials should also learn from their handling of last week's developments. They should be more proactive in dealing with such politically sensitive news items. The Xinhua statement would have been more effective if it were issued soon after ATV's report. They should also know that the government's default response to such speculation - silence and censorship - is always counter-productive in this age of internet forums and blogs. In fact, whenever the government tries hard to suppress politically sensitive news, those news items tend to travel faster over the internet and by mobile phone text messages, likely leading to wilder speculation along the way. ^ top ^

Civilian roads, buildings infringe on P.L.A. (SCMP)
Poorly planned construction and urban expansion have eaten into the territory of some important military facilities such as airports and radar stations, not only making the places harder to defend but also threatening the safety of residents, according to an inspection across the mainland that ended on Sunday. Major General Meng Guoping, deputy operations director of the General Staff Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army, who headed the checks, told Xinhua that three "big problems" were undermining the function and safety of military facilities. The PLA had urged some city governments to solve the problems as quickly as possible. The disputes involved the boundaries of some core and sensitive military-controlled zones, disturbance of the PLA's electromagnetic environment and airport clearance, and counterfeit military zones set up by civilian government agencies, Meng said [...]. In some cities, construction work was planned and carried out without regard for military facilities, he said. Expressways were built across permanent camps and civilian buildings blocked military roads. In such circumstances, the military could no longer guarantee the safety of civilians, he said [...]. Xu Guangyu, a retired PLA general who is now a researcher at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said he was not surprised by the findings of the inspection. In peacetime, the lack of communication and co-ordination between civilian governments and the military was a headache in almost every country, he said. Xu said Beijing enacted a law on protecting military facilities two years ago, and that the checks were meant to see how well it was being executed. City planners, especially those in mid-sized and small cities, probably did not know about that law, he said. Others might have put economic concerns before the military when drawing up development blueprints. "Such a conflict of interest is inevitable during peaceful periods. The only solution is that everyone plays by the law. Compared to other countries, the problems of Chinese military facilities are small and under control. Most civilian officials take the military's complaints seriously.". ^ top ^

China developing new military satellites (SCMP)
China is developing cutting-edge satellites that will allow it to project power far beyond its shores and deter the United States from using aircraft carriers in any future conflict over its rival Taiwan, a report said. The piece in next month's Journal of Strategic Studies, a UK-published defence and security journal, runs at odds with China's stated opposition to the militarisation of space. But the report, an advance copy of which was obtained by Reuters, said that the rapid development of advanced reconnaissance satellites to enable China to track hostile forces in real time and guide ballistic missiles has become a key to the modernisation of its forces. While the United States used to be unrivaled in this area, China is catching up fast, it added [...]. Beijing has consistently denied it has anything other than peaceful plans for space and says its growing military spending and prowess are for defensive purposes and modernisation of outdated forces. But with the recent unveiling of a stealth fighter, the expected launch of its first aircraft carriers and more aggressive posture over territorial disputes such as one in the South China Sea, Beijing has rattled nerves regionally and globally [...]. The successful missile “kill” of an old satellite in early 2007 represented a new level of ability for the military, and last year China successfully tested emerging technology aimed at destroying missiles in mid-air. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned earlier this year that advances by China's military in cyber and anti-satellite warfare technology could challenge the ability of US forces to operate in the Pacific. China's need to use satellites to up its military game became apparent during the 1995-96 Taiwan Straits crisis, when the US dispatched a carrier group after the mainland menaced the self-ruled island with war games, the report said. Beijing realised it could neither track nor respond to the US ships. The incident also led Beijing to realise it needed the means to keep Washington from using its navy to intervene in a war over Taiwan [...]. More broadly speaking, satellites will be able to help China project power. “As China's capabilities grow, with space reconnaissance as an example, it will be increasingly hard to reconcile the rhetoric of a defensive posture and a more expansive capability.”. ^ top ^

Top fugitive may be returned (SCMP)
China's most-wanted fugitive, Lai Changxing, could be extradited back home within days following media reports that he has been detained by Canadian border security officers ahead of a one-day federal court hearing on July 21. Lai was arrested after four years of deliberation by Canadian immigration authorities determined that he was not at risk of being tortured if he was sent back to China. Canadian national newspaper The Globe and Mail reported that he was scheduled to be put on a flight to China as early as yesterday, but he won an interim stay of deportation on Monday morning. Canada Border Services Agency representative Kevin Boothroyd told the newspaper that if Lai lost his extradition appeal hearing on July 21, the tentative date for his return would be July 25. The hearing could end a protracted 10-year legal battle over the former Fujian businessman's application for refugee status. He was accused of operating a large criminal ring under the cover of his Yuanhua Group and allegedly smuggled goods worth billions of yuan into China. He could face smuggling, tax evasion and bribery charges. He fled to Canada in 1999. Beijing formally applied for his extradition in November 2007, [...]. However, such assurances are controversial at home, where criminals have been executed for embezzling or misappropriating far less than Lai is accused of taking. Some Chinese commentators argue that the assurances contravene the fundamental principle of equality before the law. Sun Kui, a Beijing-based criminal lawyer who has been following Lai's case, said China had to abandon capital punishment when seeking the extradition of suspects from countries that abided by some international conventions [...]. Beijing has signed bilateral extradition treaties with a number of countries, including Spain and France, in which it agrees to waive capital punishment for those who are returned to China, even though the country's 2000 Extradition Law does not include such a provision. To tackle the discrepancies between the international treaties and national law, Sun said, the legislature should move to phase out the death penalty in convictions for financial crimes, since China was not likely to abolish the death sentence across the board in the short term. David Matas, Lai's lawyer, told another Canadian newspaper, The Province, that his client was being used as a scapegoat in a bogus public relations exercise to try to convince the Chinese people that their government was tough on corruption. He said torture and arbitrary execution were quite common in China and that Lai's brother and his accountant had died in prison [...]. ^ top ^

41pc of mainland websites close in just one year (SCMP)
The number of websites on the mainland almost halved last year, an official think tank says - but it denies a clampdown by the authorities is mainly to blame. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Annual Report on the Development of New Media said there were 1.91 million websites at the end of last year, down 41 per cent from 3.23 million at the end of 2009. Liu Ruisheng, managing editor of the report and a deputy researcher at the academy's journalism and communications research institute, said the drop in website numbers was a result of the economic downturn. The mainland has 457 million internet users. "China has a very high level of freedom of online speech," Liu said. "There have been very few cases where websites were shut down in recent years purely to control speech" [...]. "The establishment and operation of websites is subject to laws and regulations," Liu said. "Some illegal websites were shut down during a clampdown on obscene content." Since December 2009, thousands of small websites, including some not linked to pornography, have been shut down in a nationwide campaign supposedly targeting pornographic websites. The websites closed were not "officially registered". Independent analysts said the reduction in the number of websites was a result of measures to tighten control of public expression. "The number of interactive websites, including online forums, has plummeted," said Wu Qiang, an internet analyst at Tsinghua University. "The drop in numbers was effective in controlling speech. Online forums and bulletin boards are much less active than before" [...]. The report also said regulators had become increasingly aware of foreign forces trying to "infiltrate our [political] ideology" online. It said ideological safety had become the most important issue for China in the internet era, with the US government-backed Voice of America having shifted its propaganda focus from radio to the internet [...]. It was getting more difficult to maintain China's ideological safety, he warned. "The withdrawal of Google last year was a complete political conspiracy planned by Google and the US government, in which new media became an important tool for the US in pursuing hegemony and reining in other countries, like a machine gun in a political attack on China," Liu said [...]. New words including "jasmine" were added to the list of terms filtered from online postings. "When Western countries are friendly and no longer speculate on the jasmine [revolution], we won't hesitate to [remove jasmine from the filtered list]," Liu said. While the number of websites may be down, the report said the number of mainland webpages had risen 78.6 per cent to 60 billion, which it said was an indication of a wider variety of online content. ^ top ^

China issues anti-corruption regulation targeted at village officials (Xinhua)
China issued a new anti-corruption regulation on Wednesday that will discourage village-level officials from engaging in bribery and other abuses of power. The regulation, issued by the General Office of the State Council and the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, is aimed at strengthening ties between village leaders and villagers, according to a joint statement by the offices [...]. Under the regulation, village officials are forbidden from misappropriating collective assets such as land and other natural resources, manipulating village elections and supporting criminal gangs, the statement said. The officials are also prohibited from abusing their power to seek illicit gains or favors for their families, according to the regulation. The central government warned that any illicit gains by corrupt officials will be confiscated or recovered and that they will be referred for prosecution [...]. According to the regulation, township governments will carry out annual appraisals of village officials to ensure that they have been abiding by the regulation. ^ top ^

State Council hails China's success on human rights (SCMP)
Beijing yesterday hailed what it's calling a successful implementation of the country's first human rights action plan, saying citizens' overall living conditions have been improved and their rights safeguarded, even though rights groups say abuses continue unabated. “The fulfilment of all targets... shows that the cause of human rights in China has entered a new stage," the assessment report released by the State Council said [...]. The two-year plan was published in April 2009 and promised protection for a wide range of civil liberties, including the right to a fair trial, the freedom to be heard by the government and religious freedom. The assessment report highlighted the government's efforts to maintain growth amid the global financial crisis and its efforts to narrow regional and social inequality by increasing incomes and providing social security and health care. It also mentioned successes such as the abolition of the death penalty for 13 types of economic crimes, as well as measures taken to prevent illegal detention and the extraction of confessions through torture. The report has come amid the harshest crackdown on dissent in years [...]. Despite the progress claimed by the government, rights groups say it has continued to violate many of the rights mentioned in the plan. "Over that two-year period, the Chinese government took unambiguous steps to restrict rights to expression, association and assembly," Phelim Kine, a researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch, said. "It sentenced high-profile dissidents to lengthy prison terms on spurious state-secret or `subversion' charges, expanded restrictions on the media and internet freedom, as well as tightened controls on lawyers, human rights defenders and NGOs" [...]. State Council Information Office director Wang Chen told China Daily this week that the government was drawing up a new four-year human rights plan (2012-2015). ^ top ^

China amends laws for ratification of ICCPR (China Daily)
China has amended laws to prepare the ground for the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), according to a report issued by the Information Office of the State Council, or China's cabinet, on Thursday. China is carrying out legislative and judicial reforms. It amended the Law on Lawyers and the Law on State Compensation to prepare the ground for the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, says the report titled Assessment Report on the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010). ^ top ^

China to prevent extortion of confessions, illegal detention (People's Daily Online)
China has implemented measures to further prevent extortion of confessions and illegal detention in the past two years, says a report released on Thursday by China's State Council Information Office (SCIO). Titled Assessment Report on the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010), the report says to prevent the extortion of confessions by torture and the infliction of corporal punishment, abuse and insult on detainees, the Ministry of Public Security stipulates that, "except for special cases, all interrogation of detainees must be conducted in the interrogation rooms of detention houses." Every interrogation room must have a metal mesh as separation between detainees and interrogators, and two doors - one for the detainee and one for the interrogator - to avoid physical contact between them, it says. [...]. Meanwhile, measures on forbidding illegal detention by law enforcement personnel have been implemented in the past two years, according to the report. In April 2010, related departments jointly promulgated the Ordinance on Discipline for the People's Police of Public Security Organs to prohibit illegal deprivation or restriction of others' freedom of the person [...]. In 2009 and 2010, procuratorial organs filed and investigated cases involving 1,002 government functionaries who had taken advantage of their positions and powers to conduct illegal detention, revenge and frame-ups, and disruption of elections and other crimes that infringe upon citizens' rights of the person and democratic rights, it says. In the last two years, people's courts at all levels have held hearings for 18,600 cases of illegal detention, including those committed by government functionaries who used their positions and powers. In April 2009, the SCIO published the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010) [...]. ^ top ^

Railway official pledges better CRH operation (People's Daily Online)
Chinese railway authorities are making all efforts to iron out problems with the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway and hoping for more public understanding and support on the project, a railway official said Thursday. Wang Yongping, spokesman with the Ministry of Railways, apologized on Thursday for three delays on the newly-built railway over the last five days [...]. Currently, there was more likelihood of problems arising as the railway line had just opened, he said. One of the high-speed trains heading for Beijing broke down on Wednesday, and hundreds of passengers had to change trains to complete their journey. Power failures halted 19 trains on Sunday and 29 others on Tuesday [...]. The Wednesday incident was caused by a failure in the tractive transformers on the train, which lead to a drop in speed to 160 km per hour [...].. Wang said the railway was designed to be "sensitive" to safety risks, therefore, the trains had immediately to stop running in case of a power failure or bad weather. High winds and thunderstorms caused an equipment failure in a high-speed train on Sunday when it was passing through Shandong Province [...]. Wang admitted that railway authorities should increase capabilities to prevent equipment failures and deal with emergencies [...]. Authorities will further improve emergency response plans, which were established before the railway was put into operation, including passenger evacuation and aid repairs. Enhanced training will be offered to staff on the trains. Sun Zhang, a researcher with the Shanghai-based Tongji University, said the railway operator should also strengthen communications to passengers and other departments. There would be fewer disputes if train attendants could clearly explain what had happened to the passengers instead of simply saying "there will be a temporary stop," he said. Railway authorities should also get timely weather information from weather observatories, so that the train operators can find solutions to unfavorable weather conditions as early as possible, he added. The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway has carried an average of 165,000 passengers each day from July 1 to 13, with highest daily transportation volume of 197,000 people, according to Wang. ^ top ^

Ai's wife disputes 12m yuan tax bill at 'unfair' hearing (SCMP)
A design firm linked to artist-activist Ai Weiwei appealed against a tax bill of 12 million yuan (HK$14.45 million) at a hearing in Beijing yesterday, and demanded the return of seized financial records it says it needs to fight the case. The tax bill was issued after Ai was released on bail last month after being detained for three months. At a three-hour closed-door hearing before the Beijing tax bureau, Beijing Fake Cultural Development, owned by Ai's wife, Lu Qing, formally appealed against the tax bill. Lu was joined by lawyers Pu Zhiqiang and Xia Lin, both representing Beijing Fake Cultural Development, at the hearing. Ai was not present. After the hearing, Xia said the company was unfairly disadvantaged by the authorities' seizure of its financial records, which it needs to appeal against the tax bill [...]. Xia said the authorities should have returned the documents by July 8, three months after the seizure, in accordance with Chinese law [...]. Tax officials said the company owed almost 5 million yuan in back taxes from the past decade and over 7 million yuan in fines. Lu said they were presented with photocopies of the financial records at the hearing, which the tax authorities got from the police. Lu said she could not verify their authenticity because the company's accountants could not be reached. Hu Mingfen, one of the accountants, was detained by police days after Ai was arrested [...]. Earlier media reports said Hu was released after Ai was granted bail on June 22, but Lu said she had not been able to reach Hu. Xia said the authorities explained that a closed hearing was required because it concerned commercial secrets that involved a third party. "But no third party opposed the hearing," Xia said [...]. Xia said they reserved the right to take the issue to court. Security outside the hearing was tight yesterday. Dozens of journalists were kept in a condoned-off press area, while police videotaped and wrote down details of the journalists waiting outside the tax bureau. Xinhua reported earlier that Beijing Fake Cultural Development had been investigated for evading a "huge amount" in taxes [...]. ^ top ^

China to further standardize land acquisitions and compensation practices (Xinhua)
China's central government on Thursday said local governments must conform with its regulation on land acquisitions and compensation practices. The Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the Ministry of Land and Resources jointly issued an order to phase out rules and regulations contradictory to or not in line with the national regulation [...]. Local governments are required to phase out rules and local regulations counter to the national regulation by Oct. 1. The national regulation on land acquisition and compensation came into effect on Jan. 19, 2011, and is designed to protect homeowners. It provides, for instance, that compensation paid to homeowners should not be lower than the sum of the market price of the property, the cost of moving and temporary accommodation, and losses caused by suspension of business. There have been many instances since China reformed the property market where homeowners and property developers have come into conflict over demolition plans and compensation payouts. ^ top ^

Watchdog deems oil leak in bay a 'disaster'(China Daily)
ConocoPhillips said on Thursday that the total volume of oil spilled from the Penglai 19-3 Oilfield in northern China's Bohai Bay is expected to reach about 1,500 barrels. The amount also includes oil-based drilling fluids [...]. China's ocean watchdog, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), on Wednesday ordered ConocoPhillips China to shut down production at two platforms at the Penglai 19-3 Oilfield to reduce the risk of further leaks. The suspension may lead to a reduction in production of about 17,000 barrels of oil a day for ConocoPhillips, which holds a 49 percent stake in the oilfield. China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) Ltd, which owns the remaining 51 percent, said on Wednesday that the net production from the two platforms was about 22,000 barrels a day. The total production from these two platforms is approximately 47,000 barrels a day, accounting for a third of the production from the entire Penglai 19-3 Oilfield. The leak in Bohai Bay of 1,500 barrels is "definitely a disaster" to the marine environment, said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs [...]. "The environmental effects of the incident are hard to estimate, [...]," Liu Qingzheng, director of the environment department of the National Marine Environment Forecasting Center, told China Daily. The leak in the bay was first observed on June 4 and had not stopped completely by Wednesday, according to SOA. So far, more than 4,240 sq km of coastal waters have been contaminated by the oil leak [...]. "Technically speaking, it will still take time to stop the oil leak completely after the platform shutdown," said Chen Jianmin, a professor at the School of Petroleum Engineering at China University of Petroleum. This temporary shutdown will be in effect until the risks of another spill are eliminated in accordance with orders from SOA, ConocoPhillips said [...]. "We will work closely with SOA and CNOOC to minimize the impact to the environment," ConocoPhillips said. But many Chinese environmental organizations questioned the credibility of the spill volume released by ConocoPhillips. Zhong Yu, senior action coordinator of Greenpeace, an international environmental organization, said the amount is questionable because, apart from ConocoPhillips China and the State Oceanic Administration, no "third party" attended the assessment. "How did the company get the number? Is the oil dispersed by dispersing agents included in the amount?" Zhong said, adding that the dispersing agent used in the cleanup will create secondary pollution in the marine environment, and that this should not be ignored [...]. ^ top ^



OTIS responsible for escalator malfunction that killed one, injured 30 in Beijing: officials (People's Daily Online)
The escalator which malfunctioned on Tuesday leaving one dead and 30 injured in Beijing, has flaws in its design and manufacture, and its producer OTIS should be held accountable, local authorities said Thursday. The accident happened Tuesday morning when a rising escalator, type OTIS 513 MPE, suddenly changed its direction at the A exit of the Zoo Station on Line 4 subway. An initial investigation shows that the accident was caused by flaws in OTIS's design and manufacture. It also had something to do with the fact that the producer's maintenance was not thorough enough, said Zhang Juming, deputy chief of the municipal Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau. The accident happened when a component malfunction led to the sudden loosening of the escalator's drive chain, according to a statement released by the municipal Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau Wednesday. The escalator, produced by the world's largest escalator producer OTIS, was still in the guarantee period and the manufacturer just completed a routine check on June 22. The escalator's protection mechanism that was supposed to prevent such a sudden backward movement did not work, said a spokesman of Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport on Wednesday. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has asked all the users of OTIS 513 MPE escalators in China to suspend the escalator's operation and have the producer to check them before they can be reused, Zhang said [...]. ^ top ^



Shanghai ranked sixth on financial center list (Xinhua)
A recently released financial index ranks Shanghai as the world's No 6 financial center, two positions behind Hong Kong. Experts said mature market regulations and more diversified investment channels are necessary to boost the city's competitiveness. It is the second year that the Xinhua-Dow Jones International Financial Centers Development Index (IFCD Index) has been published, and Shanghai moved up two spots from last year, surpassing Paris and Frankfurt [...]. The traditional financial centers of New York, London and Tokyo remained in the top three positions in this year's list. Michael Petronella, president of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group Index Services LLC, said he believed the results clearly reflect China's growing economic prominence on the world stage [...]. "The capital market, particularly the stock market in Shanghai, will become the largest in the world soon," said Jiao Ran, director of the economic information editorial department of Xinhua News Agency. "The ranking mirrors the status quo of the world's major financial centers, particularly as the top three positions are still held by the traditional financial centers," said Liu Shengjun, deputy director of the Lujiazui International Finance Research Center, which is affiliated with the China Europe International Business School [...]. Qi Xiaozhai, director of the Shanghai Commercial Economic Research Center, said that the city's efforts to build a global financial center and shipping hub have been recognized by the world. However, he warned that the city is still a long way from challenging the dominance of the traditional financial hubs. "Shanghai should improve many sectors such as trade, industry, service, and education," he said. "In addition, market supervision and transparency still lags far behind some Western markets," said Liu of the Lujiazui International Finance Research Center [...]. ^ top ^



Guangdong in bid to amend one-child rule (SCMP)
China's most populous province has asked Beijing for permission to pilot a province-wide relaxation of the mainland's controversial one-child policy, Guangdong's family planning chief said, [...]. The special status would allow the province to become China's first, since the one-child policy was introduced in 1979, in which couples can have a second baby if either spouse is a single child. It could also help curb the number of pregnant mainland women seeking to give birth in Hong Kong, where no restrictions apply on having a second child [...]. Many economists are worried that China's phenomenal economic growth could be slowed down by a rapidly ageing society, a dwindling labour pool and mounting pressure on the social security system. After 2000, several provinces began to allow urban couples to have a second child if both parents are single children. In an interview published by the province's official newspaper, Nanfang Daily, Guangdong family planning chief Zhang Feng said the province had tendered an official application to Beijing to run a pilot version of an adjusted one-child policy [...]. Guangdong's population reached 104 million last year, surpassing Henan as the nation's most populous province. Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences population expert Zheng Zizhen welcomed the proposal, saying: "This is the first of many steps for fine-tuning the birth controls. The ultimate target is for everyone across the country to have two children regardless of background. We could see this happening by 2020" [...]. However, Dr Peng Peng, a Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences researcher, said Beijing was unlikely approve a major shift away from a fundamental national policy. "The effectiveness of allowing couples where both parents are single children to have a second baby still remains to be seen," Peng said. "It's still very rare to see families having second children in the light of surging living costs such as housing and food prices unless the government introduces subsidies." He said he expected mainland women would still seek to give birth in Hong Kong even after a relaxation of the policy because they wanted to secure Hong Kong residency and other advantages for the child. ^ top ^

6 jailed over South China city unrest (China Daily)
Six people have received jail terms ranging from nine months to three and a half years over last month's unrest in a city in Guangdong Province, a local court said in a statement Tuesday. The People's Court of Zengcheng City handed down the jail terms on Monday. Li Zhonghuang, who was accused of destroying three police vehicles during the unrest in the town of Xintang on June 11, was sentenced to three and a half years. Li led a group who threw stones and set vehicles on fire, according to the court document. He was convicted on the charges of creating disturbances and destroying public property. Four others were convicted on the same charges. Kang Chuan, who smashed and overturned several police vehicles during the unrest near a shopping center in town, was sentenced to two and a half years. Yang Fajun and Ran Qinghua, who threw stones at and smashed vehicles on a main highway in Xintang following the unrest, were sentenced to two years. Ou Lin, who attempted to set parked cars on fire but was stopped by police, received a nine-month jail term. Another suspect, Zhao Jiufu, was sentenced to two years for obstructing official affairs. Zhao threw stones at police who were attempting to maintain order during the unrest. When a police officer tried to grab him, Zhao bit him on the stomach. The defendants all confessed their crimes and pleaded guilty during the trial, the court document said [...]. Several officials, including the secretary of Communist Party of China (CPC) Committee of Xintang, where the unrest occurred, and the town chief, had also been removed from their posts [...]. ^ top ^



China publishes white paper to mark 60th anniversary of Tibet's peaceful liberation (Xinhua)
The Chinese government Monday published a white paper on the development of Tibet since 1951 to mark the 60th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of the region. The document, released by the State Council's Information Office, reviewed the history of Tibet, particularly the liberation in 1951, as well as profound political, social and economic changes that have taken place in Tibet over the past 60 years. "Within six decades Tibet has achieved development that would normally call for a millennium. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government, the people of Tibet have created a miracle," it reads. "Only by adhering to the leadership of the CPC, the path of socialism, the system of regional ethnic autonomy, and the development mode with Chinese characteristics and Tibet's regional features, can Tibet enjoy lasting prosperity and a bright future," it adds. While stressing Tibet has been an inseparable part of China since ancient times, the white paper says the so-called "Tibetan independence" is in fact "cooked up by old and new imperialists," and "was part of Western aggressors' scheme to carve up the territory of China" [...]. In the 60 years since its peaceful liberation, Tibet has fulfilled two historic leaps "from a society of feudal serfdom to one of socialism, and from a state of isolation, poverty and backwardness to one of opening, prosperity and civilization," the white paper says [...]. Over the past 60 years the central government has allocated more than 160 billion yuan in direct investment to Tibet, it says. The document says significant progress has also been made in protecting ethnic culture and ecological environment. It says ecological conservation has been progressing rapidly, and environmental protection is being strengthened in an all-round way. Ethnic culture in Tibet is enjoying unprecedented prosperity, and freedom of religious belief is respected and protected, it notes. All religions and all religious sects are equal in Tibet. The Living Buddha reincarnation system, unique to Tibetan Buddhism, is fully respected. People are free to learn and debate Buddhist doctrines, get ordained as monks and practice Buddhist rites, says the white paper. ^ top ^



Early nod by Beijing for city's new chief (SCMP)
Beijing may have to indicate its preference for the next chief executive sooner than it likes - as early as October - in order to ease in-fighting among its allies in the pro-government camp, according to a Hong Kong politician familiar with the central government's thinking. Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen remains the candidate favoured by many mainland officials, although his popularity lags that of Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, the politician said. The politician said Beijing originally planned to make its position known in January, two months ahead of the March 25 election [...]. "The central government believes there is a need to state its position and give its blessing to its favoured candidate earlier than originally planned," the politician said [...]. The next chief executive will be chosen by a 1,200-strong Election Committee whose members will be chosen in limited-franchise elections in December. The committee is expected to be dominated by business and professional elites from the Beijing-friendly camp. Mainland officials will signal their preference "in talks with influential people in Hong Kong's pro-establishment circle", the politician said [...]. "Notwithstanding his shortcomings, Tang is the person who possesses the relevant qualities. He has a good relationship with the various political forces," the politician said [...]. Tang, who has long been seen as the front runner for next year's chief executive election, trails in third place among five likely candidates, according to a survey commissioned by the Post last month. Political commentator Allen Lee Peng-fei said Tang still stood the best chance of getting the top job. "Leung has failed to boost his popularity although he has virtually engaged in an election campaign for two years. But he refuses to give up the fight.". ^ top ^

Flesh-eating bug death toll hits new high (SCMP)
A deadly flesh-eating disease has killed more people this year than in the past two years combined. Five people have died from the bacterial disease so far this year compared to one last year and two in 2009, while 16 people had been admitted to public hospitals by the end of June. Over the whole of 2009, there were 11 admissions. The disease mainly affects the elderly and the chronically ill, and can be caused by two bacteria - Vibrio vulnificus or group A streptococcus - which can also cause scarlet fever among young children. The surge in cases coincides with an outbreak of scarlet fever which had topped 830 infections by Saturday [...]. Doctors said that with the transmission of group A streptococcus especially active this year, the flesh-eating disease and scarlet fever would both be more common. University of Hong Kong microbiologist Professor Ho Pak-leung said the two diseases were periodic and in recent years the number of infections had peaked more frequently. "It is probably because a large part of our population has not been exposed to the bacteria before and so does not have the antibodies," he said. The Centre for Health Protection and the Medical Association met yesterday to discuss the increasing number of flesh-eating-disease cases. Most of the infections - which can kill a patient in 12 to 24 hours - began in limb injuries. "If the wounds turn black or become unbearably painful, one should see a doctor immediately," Ho said [...]. Flesh-eating disease is normally treated with antibiotics. In many cases, surgery is also needed. Ho said as long as scarlet fever activity remained high, there would be more cases of flesh-eating disease. The university recently discovered that the cause of this year's scarlet fever outbreak was a genetic mutation in group A streptococcus [...]. ^ top ^



Macao's police chief warns that region has become drug transit point (Global Times)
Macao's police chief warned that the city has become a transit point for international drug trafficking, the Macao Daily Times reported Wednesday. The newspaper quoted Wong Sio Chak, director of Judiciary Police (PJ), as saying that despite drug offence numbers remaining steady, the amount of illicit drugs seized at Macao International Airport and the rapid changes in the means of drug trafficking showed that "Macao has already become a transit point for international drug trafficking". According to official figures, PJ handled 1,627 drug-related cases between 2000 and the end of March this year [...]. PJ also reported 191 arrests last year, the highest number of drug-related cases since 2001 [..]. Macao's position as gateway to the Chinese mainland along with the increasing number of budget airline flights had already raised concerns that the region may be used as a transit point for drug trafficking. Wong said the PJ will reinforce inspection at various borders and be equipped with "advanced drug-detection devices.". ^ top ^



China's H1 trade surplus down 18.2% (China Daily)
China's trade surplus in the first half of this year fell 18.2 percent from a year ago to reach $44.93 billion, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said on Sunday. During the same period, total foreign trade value topped $1.7 trillion, up 25.8 percent year on year, with exports up 24 percent to reach $874.3 billion and imports surging 27.6 percent to hit $829.37 billion. In June, exports and imports reached $301.69 billion in value, up 18.5 percent year on year. In breakdown, June's exports hit a record monthly high of $161.98 billion, up 17.9 percent, but the rate of growth decelerated from the 19.4-percent increase in May. Imports reached $139.71 billion, up 19.3 percent. The growth also slowed from the 28.4-percent increase in May, according to figures that are live-broadcast on the GAC's website Sunday. GAC spokesman Zhao Fudi said it marked the first time that China's exports and imports data were published online [...]. ^ top ^

More subsidies to boost pork supply (SCMP)
Beijing is increasing subsidies to pig farmers in an attempt to contain soaring pork prices that are adding to inflation woes. The State Council decided that farmers would get 100 yuan (HK$120) for every reproductive female pig, along with other subsidies, to stimulate growth in pig supply [...]. The latest decision followed the National Bureau of Statistics saying on Saturday that the consumer price index in June rose to a three-year high of 6.4 per cent. Instead of just rewarding local governments of 421 major pork exporting counties, cash incentives would be offered to 500 of them. Other preferential policies include giving subsidies and compensation to pig farmers and butchers to pay for the treatment of sick animals and to offset losses resulting from any culling over diseases. The subsidy for killing a pig because of anti-epidemic purposes will be raised from 600 to 800 yuan per pig. However, some analysts and pig farmers don't think the measures will encourage farmers to raise more pigs, which would help curtail price rises. Feng Wei, a farmer who raises about 1,000 pigs in Jining, Shandong province, said the 100-yuan subsidy for reproductive female pigs did not help farmers much in 2007 and 2008. He said at that time, when pork prices reached record highs, farmers expanded their businesses because of the subsidies, but they ended up losing money [...]. He Zhonghua, an analyst at industry website, said that instead of administrative intervention, the government should put more effort into letting big farms expand so that the market could become more stable. "The latest round of price rises were triggered by short supply after a large number of small-sized pig farms got out of the business," he said. The average wholesale price of fresh pork hit a historic high of 26 yuan per kilogram last week. ^ top ^

China's GDP growth sees moderate slowdown (China Daily)
China's economic growth rate is decelerating, and many officials and analysts believe the moderation is healthy and will not lead to a hard landing. Gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 9.5 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2011, tapering off slightly from the 9.7-percent growth posted in the first quarter and 9.8 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Wednesday. According to preliminary statistics, the country's GDP reached 20.45 trillion yuan ($3.15 trillion) in the first six months, up 9.6 percent year-on-year, NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun told a press conference. Sheng called the growth deceleration a desired outcome of macro regulation, which was also "normal" after the ending of some stimulus policies. "The country's economic development is now shifting to self-initiated growth from previous overheated expansion spurred by the economic stimulus," he said [...]. "The momentum of China's economic growth remains strong and the risk of a sharp growth plunge is slim," he said. On an annual basis, both retail sales and industrial production registered double-digit increases in the first half and in June alone. Fixed assets investment surged 25.6 percent year-on-year from January to June. According to the NBS data, consumer spending contributed 4.6 percentage points to the country's GDP growth in the first half, investments made up 5.1 percentage points while foreign trade deducted 0.1 percentage points [...]. At the beginning of the year, the Chinese government has made ensuring price stability a top priority for 2011 and announced an array of targeted policies. To soak up liquidity, [...]. The country will maintain its macroeconomic policy stance and continue to prioritize price stability during the rest of the year, he said. With the inflation rate staying stubbornly high and an economic growth plunge unlikely, "we believe there will be no let-up in the monetary policy during the second half of the year and another interest rate increase is possible in the coming months," said Peng Wensheng, analyst with China International Capital Corp. ^ top ^

China to alter rare-earths exports policy (SCMP)
China will change its policy regarding the export of rare-earth minerals, after the World Trade Organisation ruled this month that the country has violated its trade obligations by imposing limits on exporting the raw materials, European Union Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht says. The commissioner made the comment yesterday after meeting Commerce Minister Chen Deming and after China announced that it would almost double its rare-earths export quota for the second half of the year. The Ministry of Commerce announced the quota rise yesterday, saying it would total 15,738 tonnes for 26 companies, up from 7,976 tonnes during the same period last year. The WTO ruled on July 5 that export duties China imposed on certain raw materials were inconsistent with the country's obligations under the WTO's accession protocol, and that limiting the export quotas out of environmental concerns was not justified [...]. Speaking after the meeting with De Gucht, Chen said he was not concerned about any possible WTO challenge to Beijing's policy on rare earths [...]. "The issue has not entered the WTO stage," he said. "I am not worried because we have had some negotiation with the European Union." De Gucht said the EU preferred to negotiate a solution with China but the EU would not hesitate to take additional action if a negotiated solution could not be reached. "They have indicated that they are going to change the policy. They realised they have to change the policy. They gave only a general indication of that, but from the general indication they gave, I can conclude that they realised that they cannot have different policies with respect to exports and with internal consumption." China controls about 90 per cent of the world's rare-earths supply. It began reducing their export last year. ^ top ^

China's FDI up 18.4% in H1 (China Daily)
China's foreign direct investment (FDI) rose by 18.4 percent year-on-year to $60.89 billion in the first half of this year, Yao Jian, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said on Friday. In June alone, China's FDI rose 2.83 percent from one year earlier to $12.86 billion, Yao said at a regular press conference. The growth rate had slowed for three consecutive months, and the June figure was 10.3 percentage points lower than that of May. China approved 2,919 foreign-invested companies to start business operations in June, up 6.57 percent from the same month last year. A total of 13,462 foreign firms received approvals to start operations in the first half, up 8.77 percent year-on-year, he said. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

Restaurants serve up a taste of luxury in food-starved N Korea (SCMP)
The decor looks dated, like a luxury establishment opened in China maybe 20 years ago. Red and gold cloth cover the tables and chairs, chandeliers and marble floors gleam while uniformed staff stand smiling stiffly in the foreground. This is a picture of North Korea's latest luxury restaurant and leisure facility, one of a growing number of privately owned, government managed establishments in Pyongyang which have sprouted up in the past decade - including pizza restaurants and hamburger joints. This is despite the serious food shortages affecting a quarter of the population, according to estimates by UN food agencies. The luxury facilities are part of the new headquarters for Hana Electronics JVC, and the result of a joint venture between Phoenix Commercial Ventures and the North's culture ministry, the company said. They include "The Restaurant at Hana", a swimming pool, sauna, bar, gym and hairdressing salon, all of which will be open to both foreigners and locals [...]. "The DPRK [North Korea] is undertaking small experiments with free market economy principles that would have been unthinkable a couple of years ago," the company said. Restaurants and bars catering to foreign tourists are valuable sources of hard currency for the impoverished state. Currency which Scott Snyder of the Asia Foundation says is increasingly necessary for the Kim regime to stay in power. "The days of North Korea being able to use ideology alone to keep legitimacy are over," Snyder said. "They have to make sure the people at the top are happy. Certain needs and desires need to be met and one way to do that is to buy people off. They need cash to do that” [...]. ^ top ^

France to open cooperation office in North Korea to support NGOs (Global Times)
France announced Tuesday that it will open an office in the North Korean capital Pyongyang to develop cultural ties and represent French non-governmental organizations working in the totalitarian state. French foreign ministry made it clear Tuesday that the mission does not mean the creation of diplomatic ties with Pyongyang [...]. Former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said in March last year that his country would not establish diplomatic relations with the North but would open an office to support NGOs [...]. France is the only major European Union member that does not have diplomatic ties with the North. Paris has argued that the country must improve its human rights situation and give up nuclear proliferation before striking up diplomatic relations. French special envoy to Pyongyang, Jack Lang, visited the North in 2009. He said afterward that France had offered to forge permanent cultural links with North Korea but not full diplomatic ties. The French move came as Canada threatened to boycott the UN Conference on Disarmament that North Korea is chairing. ^ top ^

Korea, DPRK make no breakthrough over assets at Mt. Kumgang resort (Xinhua)
South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Wednesday failed to narrow gap over Seoul's assets at the Mount Kumgang resort, Seoul's Ministry of Unification, which oversees inter-Korean affairs, said in a press release. A South Korean delegation composed of government officials and businessmen held heated debates with DPRK officials at Kumgang Hotel at the mountain resort earlier in the day. During the meeting, the DPRK side informed the South that it has the right to dispose the South's properties at the resort in accordance with its special laws on international tours to Mount Kumgang, if the South's operators do not participate in international tour programs. It also said the South should admit its responsibility over the suspension of Mount Kumang tours, the ministry said. On its part, the South reiterated its stance on the property issues, noting that it can not accept any acts of infringement against property rights, and the North's new laws are a violation of related agreements and contracts between the two sides. The DPRK side proposed further consultation over the issue, saying that it will carry out the disposal actions unilaterally unless the South gives any responses by July 29, the ministry said. The ministry said it will seek more discussions with related companies, vowing to protect property rights of the firms involved in the project. Last year, the DPRK unilaterally seized South Korean properties at the resort in response to what it saw as South Korea's reluctance to reopen the suspended tours [...]. ^ top ^

DPRK to repatriate body of S. Korean civilian (Xinhua)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has agreed to send the body of a South Korean civilian found dead in its waters back to South Korea, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency quoted Seoul's Red Cross as saying Friday. South Korea's Unification Ministry, which oversees inter- Korean affairs, is planning to receive the corpse of the 43-year- old man, identified only by his surname Ko, at the truce village of Panmunjom that straddles the divided Koreas, according to Yonhap. Ko's body is believed to have drifted toward waters off the DPRK's Hwanghae Province. ^ 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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