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
  21-27.1.2012, No. 407  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

Chinese, Iranian officials discuss Iran nuclear issue (People's Daily Online)
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Hailong held talks with Ali Baqeri, visiting deputy secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council here on Friday, exchanging views on the Iran nuclear issue. China believes the Iran nuclear issue should be resolved peacefully through dialogues and negotiations, and that sanctions and military means will not fundamentally address the problem, Wu said. He said the top priority is that Iran should resume talks as soon as possible with the group of six international mediators, which includes the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, and strengthen cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). China will continue to work with the international community to facilitate peace and talks and seek a long-term, comprehensive and proper solution to the Iran nuclear issue, he said. The Iranian side expressed its willingness to resume talks with the group of six and to strengthen cooperation with the IAEA. The guests meanwhile emphasized Iran's rights to peacefully use the nuclear energy. The Chinese and Iranian sides agreed to maintain communication on the issue. Following an IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program in November, the United States, Britain and Canada announced new sanctions against Tehran and are working to impose an embargo on Iran's crude exports. In the report, the IAEA said Iran appeared to have sought nuclear weapon-making capabilities. But Tehran rejected the report and insisted its nuclear program was purely for peaceful purposes. ^ top ^

China urges Sudan, South Sudan to keep calm after S. Sudan's decision to stop oil production (People's Daily Online)
China on Saturday urged Sudan and South Sudan to remain calm and restrained after South Sudan's decision to stop the production of oil and its exportation through Sudanese territories. "Oil is the economic lifeline shared by Sudan and South Sudan," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Weimin said in response to a question on South Sudan's decision. "We urge the two sides to remain calm and restrained, avoid taking any extreme action and continue working together with mediation by the African Union and other parties to resolve their dispute through negotiation at an early date and to benefit the two countries and their peoples," he said. "The Chinese side hopes that the two governments will fulfill their commitment to protecting the legal rights of Chinese enterprises and those of other partners." The South Sudanese government on Friday decided to stop oil production due to a disagreement with Sudan over exportation of South Sudan's oil via Sudan's pipelines and harbors. ^ top ^

UN chief congratulates Chinese people on Spring Festival (Xinhua)
With the traditional Chinese Spring Festival around the corner, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has delivered a message wishing the Chinese people Happy New Year. "I sent my warmest congratulations on this auspicious celebration. The New Year is time for families and friends to come together. It is a season of renewal. The year of the dragon reminds us of our dynamism, our energy, our power to make a difference," Ban said in the video message. "Let us, in this spirit, work throughout this year to help those who are suffering to advance peace and to build a future we want. Happy New Year to all of you!" he said. [...]. ^ top ^

China says Africa's views should be respected in solving Libyan conflict (Xinhua)
China said here on Thursday that in the process of addressing the Libyan issue, Africa's concerns should receive adequate attention and Africa's views should be duly respected. Wang Min, deputy permanent representative of China to the UN, said at a Security Council open debate on the impacts of the Libyan conflict on the Sahel region in northwestern Africa. Wang said that the Libyan conflict has a grave impact on the political, security, economic and humanitarian situation in the Sahel region. The large scale of return of foreign nationals in Libya has created a heavy economic and social burden to the countries in the region. The proliferation of weapons has further encouraged cross-border organized crime and terrorism. "The negative impact of the Libya situation will continue to grow, posing a sustained threat to peace and stability in the region. China expresses its grave concern in this regard," he said. In order to eliminate the above-mentioned negative impact, the regional countries have made positive efforts assisting their own nationals to return and integrate into local society, strengthening border control and cooperation in justice and law enforcement. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other sub-regional organizations have made full use of existing mechanisms in coordinating relevant effort of the countries in the region. [...] The international community should provide active assistance to the countries and organizations in the region, seriously consider and effectively implement the relevant recommendations of the report of the assessment mission, and in this process enhance communication with countries and regional organizations, he said. [...]. ^ top ^

China to carry out programs to import foreign experts in five years (People's Daily Online)
China will carry out programs in four key industries to import foreign experts during the next five years, according to sources within the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) on Thursday. The four fields include agriculture, manufacture, the service industry and software and integrated circuits, according to the SAFEA. The SAFEA said that China plans to attract 2,000 highly skilled foreign experts in manufacturing to boost newly emerged industries such as energy conservation, high-end equipment production, new energy and new material. Also, 1,000 experts with management experience will be hired in the service industry to train more people in finance, insurance, security and comprehensive transportation. In the field of software and integrated circuits, China will launch five international training bases to import high-caliber foreign experts and teams to further global cooperation. [...]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Senior Chinese official urges further judicial reform (Xinhua)
Senior Chinese official Zhou Yongkang on Friday called for deeper reforms to China's judicial system to maintain social equity and justice. Zhou, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks at a meeting on judicial system reform held in Beijing. Zhou said further actions are needed so that more people can share the fruits of the country's judicial system reform and development. The revision of China's Criminal Procedure Law is one of the important tasks of the judicial system reform, and judicial organs should finish the draft amendment as soon as possible, the official said. Local judicial organs should be wary about the debt problems in infrastructure construction and spend their budgets in a frugal way, Zhou said. He said 2012 will be an important year for the country's judicial reform to realize practical effectiveness, and all judicial organs should make more efforts to promote the reform. ^ top ^

Li Changchun visits cultural figures ahead of Spring Festival (Xinhua)
Senior Chinese leader Li Changchun has visited some cultural personages ahead of the Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 23, calling for efforts to produce more good works and train more talents in 2012. Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, extended festive greetings to figures in China's cultural circles on behalf of President Hu Jintao and the CPC Central Committee, during the visits on Jan. 18-19. Terming 2012 a significant year for promoting cultural sector development and building China into a strong nation in terms of cultural power, Li urged the creation of more great cultural and artistic works. The figures that Li visited included scholar Yang Jiang, orchestra conductor Yan Liangkun, writer Deng Youmei, dramatic actor Lan Tianye, ethicist Luo Guojie, former President of the Central Academy of Arts and Design Chang Shana, radio announcer Wang Tiecheng, antiquarian books collation and publication expert Fu Xuancong, and veteran photographer Yuan Yiping. ^ top ^

Leaders extend Spring Festival greetings to nation (China Daily)
Chinese leaders on Saturday offered festive greetings to people across the nation as well as overseas Chinese around the world at a gathering to mark the Lunar New Year that falls on January 23. President Hu Jintao, top legislator Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao and top political advisor Jia Qinglin attended the gathering, organized by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Hosting the gathering, Hu, also General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, extended regards to Chinese people at home and abroad and foreign friends on behalf of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the Cabinet. Premier Wen delivered a speech at the gathering, saying that the country has made a good start to the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) at a time of an austere and complicated international economic situation. [...] "We are going to face bigger challenges in the new year," Wen said. "We have the will, determination, courage and ability to overcome any difficulties. We have confidence in the motherland's successful and bright future." Wen said the country will resolutely take the socialist road with Chinese characteristics, and promote economic growth and social progress, as well as improving people's livelihoods, and democracy, rule of law, equality and justice. [...] Wen called for excellent achievements in a bid to put the country on a firm footing for the upcoming 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. [...]. ^ top ^

28,000 die of HIV/AIDS in China 2011 (China Daily)
A total of 28,000 people died of HIV/AIDS in China in 2011, and another 48,000 in the country were found newly infected by the virus, according to an official publication on Saturday. The report on the epidemic situation of HIV/AIDS in China, which was jointly produced by China's Ministry of Health, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS and the World Health Organization, said that the number of people living with HIV/AIDS increased by 40,000 in two years from 2009, although cases of new infections remained at a low level. [...] The major reasons for the rise of the number of AIDS patients on record are the government's increasing efforts in prevention and intervention of the disease, which helped reduce deaths out of the patients, as well as some long-infected HIV carriers showing symptoms, said the report. The report added that more than 136,000 AIDS patients had received anti-virus treatments by September 2011, bringing the treatment coverage rate to 73.5 percent, an increase of 11.5 percentage points compared to 2009. The epidemic situation of HIV/AIDS is showing some new trends, as imported and sexually-transmitted cases keep increasing, according to the report. It called for expanding the checking range in relevant groups, further strengthening the treatment of people with HIV/AIDS, as well as expanding the coverage of health education and reducing social discrimination. ^ top ^

Hu joins public to celebrate New Year (China Daily)
Chinese President Hu Jintao visited grassroots cadres and people in Beijing on Sunday, the eve of the Spring Festival, extending greetings to them and celebrating with them the lunar New Year. Hu arrived at the old style Qianmen shopping street, south of the Tiananmen Square, waving hands to the passersby, who were surprised by Hu's appearance and then responded with jubilancy. [...] Hu walked into a 270-year-old store famous for braised pork, praising its long-term high quality produce and honesty in doing business. Hu said he hoped the store would promote its fine traditions so to better serve the people. Hu then inspected the whole street aboard a trolley car, and urged officials of Beijing Municipality to develop the service industry in the city to meet the people's material and cultural needs. After that, Hu went to a food processing and delivery company in Shunyi district in the city's northeastern suburb, where he inspected the processing line and food safety check laboratory, urging the company to make strict checks on food safety. At the last stop of his tour, Hu went to a small village of Tianxianyu near the Great Wall in the city's northern mountainous area, experiencing the traditional rural New Year circumstances [...]. Visiting the home of Shao Qicheng, an 85-year-old army veteran, Hu listened to Shao's war experiences, praising Shao and other veterans' contribution to the country and the people, and promised that the authorities will take care of their livelihood [...]. Hu then joined the crowd on the village square while villagers were watching Chinese traditional opera. [...] "Fellow villagers, today is the eve of Spring Festival, I wish you a happy New Year!" Hu told the crowd. "I'm happy with the improvement of your living standard!" Hu added that the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee attaches great importance to the issues concerning agriculture, rural area and farmers, and will continue to strengthen the related favorable policies. [...]. ^ top ^

Premier urges to improve livelihoods of rural, urban dwellers (China Daily)
Premier Wen Jiabao urged governments at all levels to improve the livelihoods of people residing in rural and urban areas on the eve of Chinese Lunar New Year. Wen made the remarks during his visit to northwest China's Gansu Province on Saturday and Sunday. Premier Wen visited a community with more than 1,500 households in the city of Qingyang on Saturday. He encouraged local residents to produce more and better handcrafted sachets with traditional Chinese cultural characteristics. [...] Wen said although most people living in Gansu had no problem buying basic necessities, the average income was still comparatively low. The government should improve their livelihoods and increase their income by developing the economy, he added. The Premier stressed that the government should well protect farmers' interests in land circulation transactions. "Circulation transactions must be conducted based on farmers' free will, and they must be given fair compensation," Wen said. On January 22 morning, Premier Wen arrived at Huan county on the edge of Muus Desert. Wen told local government officials to pay more attention to rural households facing economic difficulties at villager Xia Yanbin's home. Wen said the county has rich oil and coal reserves but still has problems with clean water supply, road and railway transport. Wen asked local residents to be confident about the future since the government construction and exploration would not only promote local the economy but also increase tax income and employment opportunities. [...]. ^ top ^

Man dies of bird flu in southwest (China Daily)
A 39-year-old man died of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) in southwest China on Sunday, the Ministry of Health said. The man, who began to suffer from fever on January 6, died Sunday noon in a hospital in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou Province, after being treated with intensive care for three days, the ministry said. The disease control and prevention centers at both the provincial and national levels have confirmed the case of H5N1 infection. Till now, the 71 individuals who have been in close contact with the victim, have not shown unusual symptoms, the ministry said. ^ top ^

1.2b yuan payout for oil spill 'an insult' (SCMP)
State-owned oil giant CNOOC and US partner ConocoPhillips have reached a 1 billion yuan (HK$1.23 billion) compensation deal with China's Ministry of Agriculture over last year's Bohai Sea oil spill. The US firm said the payment was "to settle public and private claims of potentially affected fishermen in relevant Bohai Bay communities", and that it "fulfils the objectives of the compensation fund announced in September 2011". The two companies also said 100 million yuan from Conoco and 250 million yuan from CNOOC would be set aside to assist in "the recovery and conservation of natural fishery resources, environmental surveying and monitoring of fishery resources and scientific research". [...] At least 6,200 square kilometres of sea - six times the area of Hong Kong - off the coast of Hebei and Shandong were contaminated by the leaks in China's largest offshore oil field that started in June but dragged on for months. [...] Thousands of fishing families have been affected, with the industry's economic losses estimated at several billion yuan, but attempts at gaining compensation have been so far unsuccessful. [...] Jia Fangyi, a lawyer who has made several unsuccessful attempts at litigation on behalf of some of the fishermen, condemned the deal, both for the sums involved and how it had been made. [...] Jia questioned the agriculture ministry's approach of engaging in closed-door negotiations with the oil companies. "This is the wrong way to handle this important issue. The proper place for this to be settled is in the courts to ensure a fair outcome. We are in a very bad situation if even the government's own departments do not trust the law.". ^ top ^

China braces for Spring Festival return travel (China Daily)
Railway terminals in major Chinese cities are braced for a new travel rush, as millions of travelers are returning to city work near the end of the week-long Spring Festival holiday. The country's railway authority said that it put 514 more trains into service on Thursday to cope with Lunar New Year travel demand, compared with 315 on Wednesday. About 4.5 million passengers hit the rails on Wednesday, up from 3.7 million on Tuesday, the Ministry of Railways said in a statement on its website. The ministry said it expected a post-festival travel peak on Friday and reminded travelers to pay close attention to updates on ticket information. The country's trains carried a total of 83.46 million passengers from Jan 8 to 22, up 7.9 percent from a year earlier, the ministry said in a statement issued on Tuesday. The 40-day Spring Festival travel season kicked off on Jan 8 this year, with hundreds of millions of people, mainly migrant workers and college students, heading home for the most important festival in China. A total of 3.16 billion passenger trips are expected during the year's travel rush, up 9.1 percent from a year earlier. Of those journeys, 235 million are likely to be made by train, up 6.1 percent year-on-year. The Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Jan 23 this year. ^ top ^

China accepts 2.65 mln legal cases in five years (Xinhua)
China accepted 2.65 million legal cases in the last five years, with the number growing each year by an average of 23.5 percent, and provided legal advice for 20.78 million people, the number growing 12.8 percent each year on average, said the Ministry of Justice on Thursday. The ministry said that, with the improvement of legal services, judical organs at all levels around China are expected to accept one million cases in 2012 and further improve services in order to help more people. In 2011, the central government subsidized local judical departments and increased the funds donated to legal service providers from the public lottery. Also in 2011, special funds for judical help were established in 21 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions and 28 departments of justice at provincial level founded working organs to offer legal help, with more than 80 cases accepted. ^ top ^

China to further reduce paper use (China Daily)
China will promote recycling paper and reducing its use in order to save resources and protect the environment, according to the country's new five-year plan for its paper industry. The authorities should urge people to cut back on using high-quality paper such as sheets with high whiteness, said the country's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for the Paper Industry, released last week. Current paper product standards should be revised to encourage the production of energy-saving and emission-reducing paper, and promote the substitution of paper packaging for alternatives, said the plan. The plan requires government purchasers to give priority to paper products mixed with waste paper, and to reduce paper use by switching to digital systems. Meanwhile, it called for news publishing and packaging industries to take effective measures to reduce paper consumption. China is the world's largest producer and consumer of paper and paperboard products. The country has made plans to eliminate at least 10 million tonnes of outdated papermaking capacity before 2015 by encouraging corporate mergers and acquisitions. Meanwhile, the country aims to cut chemical oxygen demand, which accounts for around 47 percent of the sector's total emissions, by 10 to 12 percent this year. It will also cut the combined emissions of nitrogen and ammonia by 10 percent this year. ^ top ^



New Year fireworks leaves Beijing air smothering (China Daily)
China's New Year firework spree has not only left thousands of tonnes of scraps in Beijing but also driven up the city's air pollution data to "hazardous" level until winds blew them away Tuesday morning. The Beijing Environment Protection Monitoring Center said its monitoring station at the city's second ring road detected 1,593 micrograms of PM (particular matter) 2.5 per cubic meter at 2 a.m. Monday, after hours of fireworks burning spree on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Beijing's environment authority only launched the PM2.5 measure of air quality one day ahead of the Spring Festival holiday, which starts on Sunday. Monday's figure is 80 times higher than that recorded at 6 p.m. Sunday. The PM2.5 gauge is considered stricter than Beijing's previous standard of PM10, as it monitors "fine" particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter. Normally, 50 percent of the total PM2.5 particles in the air are contributed by automobile exhausts, and another 23 percent are brought by floating dust. However, Monday's air pollution was directly resulted from huge amounts of fireworks burning, according to environmental officials. [...] Cold currents helped blow away the pollution on Tuesday. The PM2.5 reading reached 29 micrograms per cubic meter of air at 8 a.m., suggesting the air quality is "good." [...] Chinese big cities including Beijing had instituted bans on fireworks, as it polluted the air and led to injuries and even deaths. However, the Beijing authorities lifted the ban in 2005 under public wishes that fireworks burning could create more festive atmosphere. But the government restricted setting off fireworks within certain areas during a 16-day period around the Spring Festival to reduce accidents and the impact on citizens' lives. ^ top ^



Second protester shot dead in Sichuan (SCMP)
Another protester has been shot dead in escalating violence in a Tibetan prefecture in western Sichuan, taking the death toll to at least two in two days. Xinhua quoted unnamed local officials as saying that police were "forced to open fire" in a clash with protesters attacking the Chengquan police station in Seda county, in the Ganzi Tibetan autonomous prefecture, leaving one rioter dead and another injured. The report said police arrested 13 other protesters. But the Tibetan government-in-exile and the advocacy group Free Tibet said two protesters were killed and scores of others injured in the violence on Tuesday. The riot came a day after a similar attack on a police station in neighbouring Luhuo county that left at least one protester dead. A police officer told Xinhua that a mob gathered in Seda at 2.40pm on Tuesday before storming the police station and assaulting police with petrol bombs, knives and stones. "They also opened fire at us, injuring 14 police officers," the officer said. Police resorted to using force only after failing to disperse the mob by peaceful means, he said. The wounded had been taken to hospital and order had been restored in Seda yesterday, the report said. Xinhua said yesterday that Monday's unrest in Luhuo was triggered by a rumour-monger claiming that "three monks would set themselves on fire there, and their bodies should not be given to the government". Upon hearing the rumour, the report said, dozens of incensed residents, some wielding knives and hurling stones, took to the streets and attacked a police station, damaging two police vehicles and two fire engines. [...] Dozens of calls from Hong Kong to numbers in Seda and Luhuo - including local inquiry lines, hotels and personal cellphones - over the past couple of days could not get through. [...] On Tuesday, Maria Otero, special co-ordinator for Tibetan issues at the US State Department, said Washington had repeatedly urged China to address "counterproductive policies in Tibetan areas". The situation has also prompted Lobsang Sangay, head of the Indian-based Tibetan government-in-exile, to call on the international community "to not remain passive" and "to intervene to prevent further bloodshed". ^ top ^



Hong Kong's exports up 7.4 pct on year in Dec. (Xinhua)
The values of Hong Kong's total goods exports and imports in December recorded year-on-year increases of 7.4 percent and 8.1 percent respectively, said the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) of the city government on Thursday. During the month, the value of total goods exports, comprising re-exports and domestic exports, increased to 271.8 billion HK dollars (35.03 billion U.S. dollars), after a year-on-year increase of 2 percent in November. Concurrently, the value of goods imports increased to 320.7 billion HK dollars, after a year-on-year increase of 8.8 percent in November. For the year of 2011, Hong Kong's exports increased by 10.1 percent, while the imports went up by 11.9 percent from a year earlier. Meanwhile, a visible trade deficit of 427.3 billion HKD, equivalent to 11.4 percent of the value of goods imports, was recorded in 2011. In December, total exports to Asia as a whole grew by 11.4 percent year on year. In this region, increases were registered in the values of total exports to some major destinations, Vietnam and Malaysia in particular. Meanwhile, decreases were registered in the values of total exports to major destinations including Britain, the United States and Germany. The value of merchandise exports posted a slightly faster year-on-year growth in December, mainly led by better performance of the mainland market, said a government spokesman after the release of the statistics, who also noted the U.S. and EU markets remained sluggish and exports to many other Asian markets also slowed. [...]. ^ top ^



Mainland official extends Lunar New Year greetings to Taiwan compatriots (Xinhua)
The Chinese mainland's Taiwan affairs chief extended his festive greetings for the upcoming Spring Festival to Taiwan compatriots on Friday. Wang Yi, director of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, extended his best wishes to Taiwan compatriots via [...] He encouraged people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to uphold the Dragon spirit in the New Year and contribute to the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties and the "great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation." The Spring Festival, which falls on Jan. 23, comes at the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year, Year of the Dragon. In Chinese culture, dragon symbolizes being auspicious, confidence and bravery. ^ top ^

Ma promises free trade area in south of island (SCMP)
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said a free trade area would be set up soon in the south, as the government began moves toward joining a trans-Pacific free trade alliance. "In order to follow the trend of regional economic integration, the government has been pushing hard for free trade in the hope that Taiwan can join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 10 years," Ma said while visiting Kaohsiung. Ma, who was re-elected earlier this month, was referring to a new regional trade pact within the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum. He said some free trade areas - which allow the tax-free flow of capital and goods - had to be set up on the island before the long-term goal of joining the TPP could be reached. [...]. ^ top ^



Fiscal revenue reaches record 10 trillion (Global Times)
China's nationwide fiscal revenue last year surged to a new record of 10.37 trillion yuan ($1.64 trillion), an increase of 24.8 percent over a year earlier, according to the country's Ministry of Finance Friday. The ministry said the strong fiscal revenue growth in 2011, which previously was budgeted at 8 percent, reflected the country's rapid economic growth, rising prices of consumer products, and profits generated by companies. The country last year saw its economic growth hold at 9.2 percent however, which was much lower than the government's 24.8 percent revenue growth. According to the ministry's data, revenues of corporate income tax, personal income tax, value added tax and consumption tax on imported goods and tariffs all increased more than 25 percent, with the corporate income tax jumping 30.5 percent from a year earlier to 1.68 trillion yuan. [...] Although the authorities lifted the personal income tax threshold for individuals from 2,000 yuan to 3,500 yuan in September last year, the country still saw its personal income tax revenues increase by 25 percent. But the growth rate of fiscal revenue has witnessed a decreasing trend on a quarterly basis, from the first quarter's 33.1 percent growth to the last quarter's 10 percent growth. [...] According to the ministry's announcement, the year's fiscal expenditures stood at 10.89 trillion yuan, an increase of 21.2 percent from 2010, creating a fiscal deficit of 519 billion yuan, lower than the budgeted 900 billion yuan. The country's education expenditure accounted for 14.8 percent in last year's fiscal expenditure picture, money going into medical care 5.8 percent, and social securities and employment 10.2 percent. The ministry did not disclose the sensitive expenditures on "three publics" - government spending on their international travel, feasting and vehicle purchase and maintenance - which is believed to reflect the governments' transparency, as well as their determination to crack down on corruption. ^ top ^

Income gap between China's urban, rural residents narrows in 2011 (Xinhua)
Data from China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Friday showed the income gap between the country's urban and rural residents narrowed further in 2011. The income ratio between urban and rural residents stood at 3.13:1 in 2011, meaning city dwellers' average income was 3.13 times of that for rural people. The ratio shrank from 3.23:1 in 2010 and 3.33:1 in 2009. Rural residents' per-capita income rose 17.9 percent year-on-year in 2011 to 6,977 yuan (1,105.71 U.S. dollars), while the per-capita disposable income of urbanites was 21,810 yuan, up 14.1 percent from one year earlier, the NBS said, citing figures from a survey of 74,000 rural households and 66,000 urban households nationwide. The survey results showed the per-capita wage income of rural residents rose 21.9 percent to 2,963 yuan in 2011, with wages accounting for 42.5 percent of rural residents' incomes, up 1.4 percentage points from one year ago. The NBS attributed the big increase in rural residents' wages to rising incomes of migrant workers last year. However, it also said price plunges of some farm produces such as cotton and potato caused losses for farmers. [...]. ^ top ^

China's centrally administered SOEs profits rise 6.4% in 2011 (Xinhua)
China's centrally-administered state-owned enterprises (SOEs) reported net profits of 917.33 billion yuan (141.3 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011, up 6.4 percent year-on-year, the country's SOEs regulator said Friday. The growth rate was 33.8 percentage points down from a year earlier, partly due to the complicated economic situations at home and abroad, the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council said in a statement on its website. However, it was up from the 3.6-percent increase recorded during the first 11 months of 2011, which indicated that profits of these companies rose significantly in December, the statement said. Total revenues of those companies rose 20.8 percent to 20.24 trillion yuan last year, 11.3 percentage points lower than a year earlier, according to the commission. [...]. ^ top ^

China's urban jobless rate at 4.1 pct in 2011 (Xinhua)
China's urban jobless rate stood at 4.1 percent in 2011, the same as a year earlier, said the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) on Friday. Altogether, 12.21 million jobs were created in urban China in 2011, well above the 9 million annual target, MOHRSS spokesman Yin Chengji told a press conference here. [...] The employment situation stayed basically stable in 2011 and the government will carry out "more proactive" policies to boost employment, Yin said. The government will continue to give priority to creating enough jobs for college graduates in 2012, Yin said. Official estimates put the number of college graduates in 2012 at 6.8 million, 200,000 more than in 2011. Meanwhile, more policies will be made to encourage college graduates and rural workers to start their own businesses, while investment in job training will be increased, Yin added. In 2011, 8 million jobs were created for farmer-turned workers. More than 17 million people received government-subsidized training aimed at helping them find employment. China aims to keep the registered urban jobless rate within 5 percent in the 2011-2015 period, according to a statement released by the State Council, or China's cabinet, last month. Yin told reporters China's social security funds covering pensions, medicare, unemployment, maternity and work-related injury insurances collected 2.37 trillion yuan (375 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011, up 26 percent year-on-year. Spending by social security funds increased 21.1 percent year-on-year to 1.79 trillion yuan, he said. China had extended its pension insurance system to cover 364 million people in urban and rural areas as of the end of 2011, he noted. ^ top ^

China voices "deep concern" over U.S. wind tower dumping probe (People's Daily Online)
China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on Saturday expressed its deep concern over the United States' anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe into Chinese exports of wind towers. "The act will not only hamper bilateral cooperation in the field of new energy and harm the interests of U.S. industries, but also go against global efforts to tackle the challenges of climate change and energy security," the MOC said in a statement on its website. "China hopes the U.S. side can respect relevant laws and facts, and abide by the commitment made at the G20 summit in Cannes that all countries should avoid introducing new trade protectionism measures," it said. The statement came after U.S. Commerce Department announced on Thursday that it was to launch anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations on wind towers from China and Vietnam. [...]. ^ top ^

China sees second month of net forex sales in December (Global Times)
Chinese banks sold more foreign currency than they bought from clients in December, reflecting that companies and individuals have become more willing to hold foreign currencies, the country's foreign exchange authority said Saturday. Chinese lenders bought 142.5 billion US dollars on behalf of clients in December, while they sold 157.8 billion US dollars, marking the second monthly deficit, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a statement on its website. The December deficit stood at 15.3 billion US dollars, up from 800 million US dollars recorded in November. The SAFE data came after the central bank said earlier this month that the country's yuan funds outstanding for foreign exchanges fell to 25.36 trillion yuan in December, the third monthly decline. Analysts said the deficit, like falling yuan funds, was a result of a narrowing trade surplus, a slowdown in the growth of foreign direct investment and weakened expectation for yuan's appreciation. Last year, Chinese banks bought 1.6 trillion US dollars in foreign currency, and sold 1.23 trillion US dollars, leading to a surplus of 367.8 billion US dollars, the SAFE said in the statement.. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

S. Korean civic group to send flour aid to DPRK (Xinhua)
South Korea allowed a civic group to visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) next week to deliver flour aid, the government said Friday. Some 180 tons of flour, provided by the (South) Korea Peace Foundation, will be delivered to elementary schools and nurseries in North Hwanghae Province during the civic group officials' two- day trip beginning on Jan. 27, according to the unification ministry. It will mark the first such aid since the death of top DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Il, as South Korea tentatively suspended humanitarian aid to its neighbor late last year following his sudden death. Pyongyang's approval for the planned visit "might indicate the new leadership is taking root", Kim Hyung-suk, a spokesman for the ministry that oversees inter-Korean affairs, said in a press briefing. ^ top ^

DPRK gives priority to development of light industry, agriculture in 2012 (Xinhua)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) held an enlarged cabinet plenary meeting Monday, setting development of light industry and agriculture as a priority for this year, the official news agency KCNA reported. Priority will be given to improving the people's livelihood, implementing the prosperity-oriented strategy by the ruling Worker's Party of Korea, and seeking ways to fulfil the strategy, said DPRK Vice Premier Ro Tu Chol in a report during the meeting. The meeting said it is necessary to produce qualified light industry goods favored by people to develop local industry and agriculture, adding attentions should also be paid to fields like electric power, coal, metal, railways, machine and materials for constructions and buildings. The meeting also pledged to turn the country's economy into a technology-based one in a forward-looking manner required by the new century. It also discussed development of education, public health, sports, capital construction, land management and urban management. According to the KCNA, DPRK Premier Choe Yong Rim, cabinet members and other senior officials have attended the meeting. [...]. ^ top ^



State head wants to support Mongolian studies (Montsame)
On Wednesday, the President Ts.Elbegdorj released a decree of creating a fund for supporting Mongolian studies. In respect of his decree, the President has given a direction to the government to activate scientific and research works by supporting Mongolian studies in both Mongolia and abroad with investments and to encourage young scholars. It also aims to propagandize Mongolian studies over the world by publishing works of the foreign researchers improve their skills. In addition, a recommendation has been given to the government for running training and research works of doctor degree at the Academy of Sciences in order to prepare Mongolian studies scholars. The fund's main purposes are to comprehensively develop Mongolian studies at international level, to protect Mongolian history and culture, to propagandize it to the world and to prepare young scholars. The State Head said that he is concerning about a decreasing number of Mongolian studies scholars and weakening of it, and then underlined an importance to systematically study Mongolian history and heritage of national culture at the present time of globalization, enrolling foreign scholars into it. ^ top ^

Some ministers appointed (Montsame)
In view of a parliamentary resolution on discharging some cabinet members from the posts, S.Batbold PM has released an order. Accordingly, current Deputy Premier M.Enkhbold has received duties of a First Deputy Premier; the Foreign Minister G.Zandanshatar--duties of Defense Minister; the head of the Cabinet Secretariat Ch.Khurelbaatar--duties of Finance Minister; the Minister of Education, Culture and Science Yo.Otgonbayar--duties of Minister of Environment and Tourism; the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy D.Zorigt--of Minister of Road, Transportation, Construction and Urban Development; and the Minister of Social Welfare and Labor T.Gandi--of Minister of Health Minister. They will work as the acting ministers until appointment of the six ministers. ^ top ^

Some aimags hit with heavy snow (
The Weather Institute is predicting snow and cold temperatures beginning on Wednesday. A National Emergency General Board official told our correspondent that 80 percent of the country is now covered with snow, with some aimags, including Dornod, Bulgan, Zavkhan, Uvs, and Sukhbaatar, reporting between 20 cm and 30 cm on the ground. Some 12 soums, including Bulgan soum of Bayan-Ulgii aimag, Burt soum of Uvurkhangai aimag, and Numrug of Zavkhan aimag, will face harsh weather conditions in the coming days, with snow and heavy winds expected from January 25 to 28. Pastureland is already under thick snow. The office is warning herders and travelers to be cautious. ^ top ^

Ministry plans to build 40 kindergartens (
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science plans to build 40 kindergartens in the state this year with the assistance of the World Bank. 19 kindergartens will be built in Ulaanbaatar and 21 in local settlements. Four kindergartens will be erected in the capital's Bayanzurkh district, four in Sukhbaatar district, five in Songinokhairkhan district, and one each in Khan-Uul, Bagakhangai, Baganuur, and Nalaikh districts, according to the ministry. Z.Tsendzaya of the ministry told our reporter that the new kindergartens will be built with money from the state budget and the World Bank. There are currently 275 kindergartens in the capital attended by 56,211 children. But there are not enough kindergartens in the state, and thousands of children are unable to go to kindergarten. The new kindergartens in Ulaanbaatar will cost about MNT 330 million. Each will have enough capacity for 100 children. The ministry hopes to finish construction by the end of the year. ^ top ^

Mongolia to exploit 100 million tons of coal by 2017 (
Mongolia earned USD 2 billion from its coal sector in 2011, a 30 to 50 percent increase over previous years. The Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy plans to increase coal exploitation, and it projects the country will mine some 100 million tons of coal by 2017. The ministry plans to process 60 to 70 percent of the mined coal for domestic use and for export. A coal processing plant in Ulaanbaatar will go on line later this year. It will supply as much as half the coal needed to produce the capital's electricity. Also, the Government has concluded an agreement with foreign investors to build a new power plant in Ulaanbaatar. ^ top ^

Working group discusses rising prices (
On Tuesday, a Standing Committee on Economics working group headed by D.Gankhuyag held an open discussion on rising prices at the Government House. The working group discussed recent increases in the prices of gasoline and consumer goods. Ts.Sedvanchig suggested establishing a three-to-six-month fuel reserve, since Mongolia does not have an oil refinery. He said the Government has concluded agreements with two Russian companies and has started to reserve gasoline. He said the Government should work to stabilize currency rates and regulate petroleum importers. Ts.Sedvanchig also emphasized that the monopoly of petroleum importers should be held accountable, because they have not paid a fine levied by the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumers. Z.Enkhbold said construction of an oil refinery in Mongolia should begin as soon as possible, and the relevant ministers should monitor the project. He noted that Mongol Bank should regulate and stabilize the tugrik's rate against foreign currencies. Z.Enkhbold also said petroleum importers should pay fines of MNT 10 billion for conspiring to raise prices. He also said the working group should reinstate the excise and customs taxes on petroleum products that the Government has lifted. ^ top ^


Gregor Muischneek
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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