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
  24-30.3.2012, No. 416  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

China, Indonesia push ties (China Daily)
China and Indonesia signed agreements on a range of issues on Friday, a sign analysts said shows the wish of both nations to push forward ties in strategically important Southeast Asia. [...] The deals were signed as President Hu Jintao met Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Beijing on Friday. [...] Hu said China will promote a strategic partnership with Indonesia in areas including trade and economic cooperation, defense, maritime and space, education, media, tourism, and cooperation in regional and international affairs. The two countries will deepen defense cooperation by gradually expanding collaboration on defense and security, staging joint drills, increasing visits, combating terrorism and cross-border crimes, and safeguarding the security and peace of their own countries and the region, Hu said. The two countries will also strengthen cooperation on regional and international issues to safeguard their common interests, he said. Yudhoyono said Indonesia is willing to maintain close high-level contact and dialogue as well as consultation at all levels with China. Indonesia welcomes increased investment from Chinese companies and their participation in major infrastructure projects, he said. Yudhoyono is confident that the two countries will achieve the goal of boosting bilateral trade to $80 billion before 2015. Bilateral trade in 2011 was about $60 billion. Reiterating Indonesia's stance that relevant countries should address regional issues through consultation and cooperation, Yudhoyono said Indonesia is ready to step up communication and coordination with China within the regional cooperation mechanism to promote the peace, stability and prosperity of the region. Experts said Sino-Indonesian ties are important as China is pressing ahead with its relations with Southeast Asian countries amid territorial disputes on the South China Sea and as the United States beefs up its presence in the region. [...] Before the two presidents met on Friday, company representatives from China and Indonesia signed 15 agreements worth more than $17.6 billion. The deals include hydropower, iron and steel, textile, mining and agriculture, according to Wan Jifei, president of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. [...]. ^ top ^

Zimbabwe, China to strengthen party-to-party ties (People's Daily Online)
The Communist Party of China (CPC) and Zimbabwe's ruing party ZANU-PF agreed on Friday to step up bilateral party-to-party cooperation in the new era. The message was sent out when Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is also ZANU-PF First Secretary and President, met with visiting CPC delegation at the State House on Friday. The CPC delegation led by Liu Qi, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, arrived in the country after a three-day visit in Angola. [...] Mugabe said Zimbabwe remains China's greatest friend and stressed the need to further cement bilateral relations in the new era where China has grown into a major global economic powerhouse and a strong political voice on the international stage. Liu, also secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the CPC, said China-Zimbabwe ties are a role model for other states in the region. ZANU-PF National Chairman Simon Khaya Moyo [...] described the visit as significant, adding that relations between the two parties should be consolidated [...]. Relations between ZANU-PF and the CPC have been rooted in the fight for the independence of Zimbabwe when China assisted the liberation party and many others in the region. ^ top ^

Chinese, South African presidents discuss bilateral cooperation (People's Daily Online)
Chinese President Hu Jintao met Monday with South African President Jacob Zuma to discuss development of China-South Africa ties and exchange views on improving cooperation between the two countries. Hu said the international situation is undergoing a profound and complicated transformation. Because of that, the Chinese president said, solidarity and cooperation among developing countries has become more important and pressing. Under the Beijing Declaration, the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and South Africa is vigorously developing with frequent exchanges of high-level visits, increases in mutual political trust and expansion of cooperation in fields such as economy and trade, people-to-people exchange, science and tourism, Hu said. He said China is willing to promote the comprehensive strategic partnership with South Africa from three aspects to make it a good example for the unity and cooperation between major developing countries. First, to promote political exchanges. [...] Second, to deepen pragmatic cooperation. [...] Third, to promote people-to-people exchanges. [...] For his part, Zuma said developing South Africa-China relations benefits both sides and Africa as a whole. He said his country would like to implement all the consensus reached with China, and increase high-level visits, party-to-party exchanges and cultural cooperation between the two nations. South Africa is undergoing a massive infrastructure overhaul and China's participation would be welcome, he added. Hu praised South Africa's contribution to promoting peace and development in Africa, expressing firm support to the efforts of the African countries in solving regional affairs by themselves. [...] He said China and South Africa share common interests in many international affairs, and China hopes to cooperate with South Africa in the UN, G20, BRICS and other international forums to increase the collective voice of developing countries and propel the international political and economic order toward a more fair and reasonable direction. [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese, U.S. presidents meet on ties, major issues (Xinhua)
Chinese President Hu Jintao and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama met Monday in Seoul to discuss bilateral ties and major world and regional issues of common concern. The meeting, which came on the sidelines of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, was the two leaders' first this year. China-U.S. relations are one of the most important bilateral relationships in today's world. In the past 40 years since their diplomatic normalization, bilateral ties have forged ahead and made historic achievements despite twists and turns, bringing huge benefits to both countries and peoples. In January last year, Hu paid a visit to the United States, during which the two countries agreed to build a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. Last year, two-way trade between the two countries stood at 440 billion U.S. dollars, and mutual visits exceeded 3 million. In February, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visited the United States to implement the important consensuses reached by Hu and Obama. China and the United States should view and handle bilateral ties from a strategic and long-term perspective, said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at a press conference earlier this month. ^ top ^

Territorial claims set out in map of South China Sea (SCMP)
Mainland authorities will publish a map of the South China Sea this year to strengthen their claim to the disputed region. The map is part of a national campaign involving a dozen ministries and the Communist Party's publicity department to help raise public awareness of the country's territories and safeguard its sovereignty in disputed areas. In a statement posted on the website of the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation in the middle of this month, a joint national steering group set out its work priorities for this year. "[The government will] continue the research programme on mapping the South China Sea, making and publishing maps of the South China Sea and its islands with a view to laying out our [territorial] claim," the statement said. [...] "Propaganda and education on national boundaries... serves the need to promote patriotism," the statement said. "It is also needed to safeguard China's dignity and integrity." Professor Du Jifeng, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, said Beijing had recently made some relatively aggressive moves in the South China Sea, such as the arrest of Vietnamese fishermen early this month. Neighbouring countries would be further provoked by the release of the map. "But I don't think China will go further than that. Military actions can almost certainly be ruled out.". ^ top ^

Wen gives massive boost to Annan's Syria mission (China Daily)
The Syrian government and parties involved should respond positively to mediation by Kofi Annan, the United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria, and Beijing will strengthen its efforts to solve the crisis, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Tuesday. Wen made the remarks during a meeting with the envoy in Beijing. Annan, who had just visited Moscow, secured Russia's backing for his six-point plan. Wen reiterated that the safety of the Syrian people and halting the violence was the priority as this would allow the opportunity for dialogue and a peaceful resolution. Wen also said that Annan's mediation will lead to a fair and peaceful resolution of the crisis. "I cannot do this job alone, I need help, I need support and I need support and advice from countries like yours and that's why I am here," Annan told Wen at the beginning of the talks. Annan acknowledged China's stance on the crisis and said he would continue closely cooperating with the international community to move the whole process forward. China and Russia vetoed UN Security Council resolutions which, following events in Libya, they feared might open the way for foreign intervention and regime change in Syria. However, the council did agree to fully support Annan's six-point plan for ending the violence. This includes a call for a daily two-hour cease-fire, troop withdrawals and talks between the regime and opposition. [...] According to Ahmad Fawzi, spokesman for Annan, the Syrian government on Tuesday accepted the six-point plan endorsed by the council. This visit will consolidate the sense of moving forward and will lay a solid foundation for future mediation, Zhao Xiaoan, vice-president of the UN Association of China, said. "The difficulty at this stage is to materialize all the proposals into action," she said. Foreign countries had a negative impact on the crisis, she said. The opposition hoped for foreign intervention and they still have chance to overthrow the regime, she added. Any prospect of foreign intervention must be ruled out and countries must not send conflicting signals, she said. [...]. ^ top ^

Hu: China committed to enhancing nuclear security (China Daily)
Chinese President Hu Jintao said in Seoul Tuesday that China has taken active steps to enhance nuclear security and achieved new and substantive progress since the first nuclear security summit in Washington two years ago. Speaking at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, the Chinese leader elaborated on China's position, efforts made and important measures taken in the field of nuclear security. China has attached great importance to building nuclear security capacity, earnestly honored its international nuclear security obligations, engaged in extensive international nuclear security cooperation, and worked hard to ensure nuclear security during major public events, said President Hu. He said that China has actively provided assistance in nuclear security and safety to other countries. In his speech, the president put forward the following proposals on enhancing nuclear security under the new circumstances: -- to follow a scientific and sensible approach to nuclear security and boost confidence in the development of nuclear energy. -- to strengthen nuclear security capacity building and live up to national responsibility for ensuring nuclear security. -- to deepen international exchanges and cooperation and improve nuclear security around the world. -- to take a comprehensive approach and address both the symptoms and root causes of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. [...]. ^ top ^

China urges restraint between Sudan, South Sudan (Xinhua)
China on Tuesday urged Sudan and South Sudan to maintain calm and exercise restraint to prevent current tensions from escalating. "We have noticed relevant reports," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing when commenting on reports that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir suspended a planned visit to South Sudan because of the latter's attacks on Sudan's oil area. Hong called on the two sides to properly handle disputes through negotiations. The Sudanese army said Monday that limited clashes took place between it and South Sudan's army in South Kordofan, which lies on the border between the two countries. The clashes between Sudan and South Sudan came at a time when the two sides have shown signs of understanding, as they have agreed to convene a summit for the two countries' presidents on April 3 in Juba to discuss outstanding issues. South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit announced Monday that his forces had entered Higlieg, Sudan's strategic oil area, and, in response, the Sudanese government threatened to halt dialogue with South Sudan. ^ top ^

China, Ireland issue joint statement (Xinhua)
China and Ireland issued a joint statement in Beijing on Wednesday, agreeing to build on their good relations and establish a strategic partnership for mutually beneficial cooperation. [...] Both sides expressed their respect for each other's choice of development path in light of respective national conditions, as well as each other's domestic and foreign policies, national sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to the statement. Ireland reiterated its firm and unwavering commitment to the one-China policy and its opposition to all comments and propositions aiming at undermining China's territorial integrity. [...] Joint efforts will be made to upgrade trade in services between the two countries to a higher level, boost cooperation between small-and medium-sized enterprises, encourage capable domestic businesses to invest in the other country, and provide an enabling environment to enterprises of the other side. The two sides agree on furthering bilateral cooperation in the fields of science and technology, health and agriculture (food and agribusinesses), information and communications technologies, software, financial services and other important industries, according to the statement. On China-EU relations, the statement said Ireland supports early EU recognition of China's full market economy status and recalls its strong commitment to free trade. Ireland expresses its view in favor of work toward lifting the EU arms embargo against China, taking account of the existence of relevant EU instruments and European Council conclusions in recent years, the statement said. [...] It said the two sides are in full support of a fair, just and rule-based multilateral international system and the leading role of the United Nations in safeguarding world peace, promoting common development and advancing international cooperation. The statement was issued during Prime Minister of Ireland Enda Kenny's visit to China. [...]. ^ top ^

China, Russia call for end to violence in Syria (China Daily)
China and Russia will work together to push for an immediate cessation of violence in Syria and prevent tension in the war-torn country from escalating, leaders of the two countries said on Wednesday. President Hu Jintao and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, made the commitment as they met in the Indian capital, New Delhi, for the annual BRICS summit on Wednesday and Thursday. [...] The two leaders urged the Syrian government and every party involved to solve the crisis peacefully through political dialogue. "China is ready to work together with Russia and the global community to play a constructive role in proper settlement of the Syria issue," Hu told Medvedev, who stressed that the two countries had always maintained close contact and had adopted a concerted stance on the issue. During their one-hour meeting, the two leaders also urged the parties involved on the Korean Peninsula to remain calm and restrained, and to keep in contact for regional peace and stability. The strategic partnership of China and Russia had proved its trustworthiness and effectiveness through the two countries' joint action and aligned stance on not agreeing to foreign intervention in the ongoing Syrian political power struggle, experts said. They used their rights as standing members of the United Nations Security Council to veto the Western-backed draft resolutions on Syria, which might open ways for foreign intervention and regime change. [...]. ^ top ^

China calls for resolution of Mali crisis via dialogue (Xinhua)
China on Wednesday called on relevant parties in Mali to resolve the current crisis through dialogue and negotiations. "We think the priority should be to resume normal constitutional order and social stability as soon as possible. Relevant parties there should find an appropriate way to resolve the crisis through dialogue and negotiations," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. Hong made the remarks at a regular press briefing while commenting on the current situation in Mali. [...] "China appreciates and supports the efforts made by the African Union, ECOWAS and regional countries to mediate the Mali issue," said Hong. He also called on relevant sides in Mali to actively respond to the concerns of the international community and carry out cooperation with regional organizations, so as to properly resolve the crisis through peaceful means. [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese delegation says BRICS summit a success (Xinhua)
Leaders of the five-nation BRICS bloc have reached important consensus in a just-concluded summit here, the Chinese delegation said Thursday. "The summit is a success as it has again showcased the cooperative partnership among BRICS countries, delivered a positive message to the world that BRICS is a united grouping aimed at win-win cooperation, and the meeting has successfully advanced cooperation among member countries," said Chinese delegation spokesman Qin Gang. [...] The countries reaffirmed their support for the Group of 20 in strengthening international macroeconomic policy coordination and promoting world economic recovery and growth. They also called for reforms of the international monetary and financial system and for increasing the voice and representation of emerging economies and developing countries. They see it an urgent need to speed up quota and governance reforms in the International Monetary Fund in order to build up a better institutional framework for world economic growth. [...] All five countries in the bloc have pledged to facilitate the implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals in the international community, work for a successful conclusion of the Doha Round of trade talks, help developing countries relieve poverty, safeguard energy and food security, and support the hosting of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development and the U.N. Conference on Biological Diversity by BRICS countries this year. Leaders of the five countries also discussed the possible establishment of a new development bank to finance infrastructure projects and sustainable development programs in BRICS countries and other developing countries. They have asked finance ministers of member countries to study the possibility and set up a joint working group to conduct further research. [...] Tthe meeting has achieved new progress in deepening practical cooperation among BRICS countries in various fields. It has endorsed an action plan that covers a broad range of areas including finance, trade and economy, agriculture, technology and public health. These cooperation efforts are in the common interests of BRICS peoples and will strengthen the foundation of and become powerful support for the economic and social cooperation among BRICS countries. [...] The five countries agreed that nations worldwide should deal with various challenges in accordance with international law and in the spirit of multilateralism. They believed international hotspot issues should be resolved in line with relevant U.N. resolutions and through peaceful means, while the United Nations should play a focal role in fighting terrorism. The Chinese side is confident that a higher level of cooperation of the BRICS countries would play a constructive role in promoting world economic growth, improving global governance, and strengthening multilateralism and democracy in international relations, said Qin. [...] In addition to their pledges to further enhance financial cooperation and study the feasibility of setting up a development bank of the bloc, the BRICS countries have reached a financial cooperation agreement and held a number of meetings and seminars on finance and business. They also agreed to hold meetings of finance ministers and central bank governors. ^ top ^

Hu: China and India should handle disputes properly (China Daily)
Chinese President Hu Jintao Thursday pledged on China and India to handle their disputes properly while meeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The meeting between Hu and Singh took place after the fresh conclusion of the India-hosted annual BRICS leadership meeting [...]. Hu said China and India should preserve peace and stability and advance their border negotiation based on the current mechanisms, to jointly preserve border peace and stability. Hu also called on the two countries to enhance political trust by enlarging the exchanges among all sectors and explore "conducting discussion and dialogues on new sectors including maritime cooperation." According to Hu, the two countries can cooperation in infrastructure building, information technology, mutual investment, and environment protection. Singh said India will take concrete measures to welcome Chinese firms investing in India and participate in India's infrastructure construction. Singh said Thursday that India has no intention and nor will it participate in any containing-China strategy. Singh also said that India will not allow Tibetans to conduct anti-China activities in the country. Singh made the remarks while meeting Chinese President Hu Jintao as the two leaders pledged to push forward ties between Asia's two biggest countries. According to Chinese foreign ministry, Singh said that India acknowledges the Tibet is part of China, and India will not allow Tibetans to conduct anti-China activities in India. [...] The two leaders also declared 2012 as the year of India-China friendship and unveil initiatives to boost cultural exchanges and overall contacts. ^ top ^

Wen calls for orderly, efficient energy cooperation with UAE (Xinhua)
Premier Wen Jiabao said Thursday that China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) should work closely to promote orderly, efficient and sustainable development of bilateral energy cooperation. He made the remarks when meeting with visiting Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Beijing. The bilateral exchanges and cooperation were entering into a new development phase, Wen said, noting the two peoples enjoyed profound friendship. Wen said the UAE possessed strategic vision in dealing with ties with China, as it is the first country in the Gulf region to establish a strategic partnership with China, which was forged this January during the premeir's visit to the UAE. Wen also called on the two countries to improve investment cooperation in infrastructure, high-end manufacturing and the green industry, and deepen educational and cultural exchanges. The two countries should work together to promote the negotiation of a free trade zone between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), he said. Sheikh Mohammed said the strategic partnership conformed with the two sides' fundamental interests, and the UAE was ready to cement practical cooperation with China in all fields. He said the UAE will adhere to the one-China policy, and support for a bigger role of China in international and regional affairs. The two leaders exchanged views on the situation in western Asia and northern Africa. [...] Sheikh Mohammed arrived in Beijing Tuesday afternoon for a three-day visit. Vice President Xi Jinping held talks with him on Wednesday. ^ top ^

China, Russia to conduct joint navy drill (People's Daily Online)
China and Russia will carry out a joint navy exercise between April and May, a Defense Ministry spokesman said on Thursday. The military drill will take place based on a consensus reached between Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, and Russian military leaders, spokesman Yang Yujun said at a monthly press briefing. The two sides are preparing for the joint exercise, which is aimed at deepening the Sino-Russian strategic partnership of cooperation, Yang said. "It's also designed to improve both countries' abilities to cope with challenges and safeguard peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large," Yang said. Since 2005, China and Russia have conducted several joint military exercises within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. ^ top ^

China to participate in P5+1 talks with Iran (Xinhua)
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday that China will actively participate in the dialogue process between Iran and the P5+1 countries. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a regular press briefing in response to questions related to the resumption of dialogue between Iran and P5+1, namely the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany. The next round of nuclear talks will be held on April 13, but the venue has not been decided yet, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said Wednesday. "The six countries are communicating with Iran on relevant arrangements," Hong said. He added that China was ready to work with all sides to continue to play a constructive role in the comprehensive, long-term and proper resolution of the Iran nuclear issue. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Senior officials sent for on-campus training (Xinhua)
An on-campus training program targeting 4,200 senior Chinese officials was launched Saturday in Beijing. The newly enrolled officials, ranked at the division-director level within central government ministries or other Beijing-based public institutions, are required to go to universities on the weekends and complete their courses, according to a report from the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. A pilot project for the program was launched in 2010, expanded in 2011, and upgraded to a routine training program for senior Chinese cadres after the issuance of a high-profile CPC directive in January. The program's 2012 syllabus includes four compulsory courses, 58 optional seminars and 60 optional lectures covering nearly 600 subjects, including socialism, macroeconomics, social management, and cultural and communication studies. The report also noted that the courses would be given by leading scholars at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, the Chinese Academy of Governance, the National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army and four prominent public universities, including Tsinghua University and Peking University. On the 90th founding anniversary of the CPC in July 2011, President Hu Jintao, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, called upon all Party members and cadres to take learning as an intellectual pursuit, genuinely cultivate virtues, increase knowledge and enhance competence through learning. [...]. ^ top ^

Corruption is crucial threat, Wen says (China Daily)
The government will mull over the possibility of publicizing assets of officials to a limited circle as an effort to fight corruption, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Monday. "Corruption is the most crucial threat to the ruling party," Wen said at the State Council's annual conference on anti-corruption work, adding that corruption may completely undermine the country's political foundations if not handled properly. Despite taking consistent measures to fight corruption in previous years, Wen conceded that the overall performance of the government and officials has yet to meet the public's expectations. [...] In addition, he called for tighter management of and discipline over officials, especially those whose spouses and children have gone to live overseas. The money spent on overseas trips, receptions and vehicle purchases and maintenance by government officials will also be strictly controlled. Wen pledged no increase of such government expenditure this year. [...] So far, 98 central government departments and some of the provincial and city governments have publicized expenditure on overseas trips, receptions and vehicles, according to Wen. He said the government should improve transparency and create favorable circumstances for the public to supervise the government and officials. [...] The Supreme People's Procuratorate said in its annual work report this month that prosecutors across the country investigated about 18,500 major cases of corruption and embezzlement in 2011, with seven minister-level officials having been investigated. ^ top ^

More live in cities, but reform still needed (Xinhua)
China's urbanization rate has rocketed over the past three decades, but statistics don't tell the whole story, and the country faces a challenge in improving the quality of urbanization, senior officials said on Sunday. Urban residents accounted for 51.27 percent of the population in 2011, compared with about 18 percent in 1978 at the beginning of reform and opening-up, according to official figures. However, this rapid pace of growth is unsustainable, as it is, to some extent, based on cheap labor and land, insufficient social security and inadequate public services, senior officials said at the annual China International Urbanization Forum in Shanghai on Sunday. China must improve the quality of its urbanization by deepening reforms, said Peng Sen, deputy minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner. The priority is to further reform the land expropriation policy, he said. Land expropriation has played a role in advancing urbanization and industrialization, but it has also led to problems such as inadequate protection of farmers' property rights and the irrational use of land, Peng said. "China can no longer push forward its industrialization and urbanization at the cost of farmers' property rights," Peng said. Policymakers must provide the conditions for farmers to benefit more from the appreciation of land values, and the land acquisition system must be reformed on the basis of protecting farmers' interests and ensuring the economic use of land, he said. Also, the country needs to make steady progress in reforming the household registration system - most crucially, to allow migrant workers equal access to public services as that enjoyed by urban residents, Peng said. [...]. ^ top ^

Chongqing channel restores TV series (China Daily)
Satellite TV in Chongqing has resumed broadcasting TV series in prime time, one year after it dropped all sitcoms and commercials to forge the first provincial-level "red channel". Starting Monday, TV series and a news program have replaced programs that promote social morals and revolutionary traditions in prime time (7:30 pm to 11 pm) at the Chongqing Satellite TV channel. The broadcasting of Daily Red Songs, a gala program that displays a grassroots chorus of red songs, will also be reduced from a daily to a weekly basis. The latest move is made to "cater to the taste of audiences and follow the management pattern of television channels", a spokesman for the channel was quoted on Monday by Chongqing Daily. [...] According to Chongqing Daily, the channel denied that it will restore commercials in this round of program adjustment. [...] In July 2008, the Chongqing government said that red songs should be sung at official events held on days of national importance. A little less than a year later, the government announced a series of steps to promote the development and prosperity of red culture. [...] "I think the program adjustment at Chongqing Satellite TV this time is a step back to normal," said Huang Hua, president of Wowa Media, a company dedicated to media consultation and research. [...]. ^ top ^

US report on religious freedom rejected (Global Times)
China's religious community has rejected a US report on world religious freedom and "advised" the US side not to "kidnap" the issue. A statement was issued yesterday after a joint meeting of the secretaries-general of the country's major religious groups - Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) continued in its role as "international religious police" and "irrationally criticized" China's religious situation and policies in its 2012 annual report, attempting to tarnish the image of China, according to the statement. "The situation of China's religious freedom cannot be distorted by merely releasing several speculation-based reports by a certain country. The actual feelings of the Chinese religious community is the best proof," it said. Every country asks followers to abide by its laws, said the statement, which added that a handful of people who engage in criminal activity under the cloak of religion should be dealt with according to law, under the same situation that applies in the US. ^ top ^

China makes progress on nuclear security: report (Xinhua)
China has made significant progress on improving nuclear security, according to a government report. The report, titled "National Progress Report on Nuclear Security of the People's Republic of China," was issued during the Nuclear Security Summit, which is being held in the Republic of Korea's capital of Seoul from March 26 to 27. The Chinese government has taken active measures to implement the suggestions made at the 2010 Washington Nuclear Security Summit and made significant progress in enhancing its national nuclear security, the report said. The report said authorities have already finished assessing security systems at operational nuclear power plants all over the country. Since April 2010, China has cooperated with the IAEA, the United States and other countries in conducting 20 training courses and seminars for more than 500 nuclear security workers, the report said. According to the report, China and the United States are jointly constructing a Center of Excellence on Nuclear Security in Beijing, with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Canada and several other countries consulting with China to participate in its construction. "China will use the center to provide nuclear security training for other countries in the Asia-Pacific region," the report said. Starting from September, 2010, China and the United States have worked together to convert Chinese miniature research reactors, allowing them to substitute high-enrichment uranium (HEU) fuel with low-enrichment uranium (LEU) fuel. "China is willing to assist other countries in converting their research reactors by utilizing the expertise and experience gained through cooperation with the U.S.," the report said. [...] The report said China has created a number of laws and regulations to enhance security for radioactive storage facilities. [...]. ^ top ^

People's Daily urges consensus in promoting reform (Xinhua)
People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, will carry a commentator's article Thursday urging consensus in promoting China's reform and development initiatives adopted at the annual parliamentary session early this month. The article, received by Xinhua on Wednesday, said as China is in "vital period of strategic opportunities" for development, it is important to be clear-minded about what are difficult areas and key aspects of the reform and development drive. The annual parliamentary session have identified some key aspects such as deepening the reform of fiscal, taxation and financial systems, price reforms, income distribution system reform, reform of public institutions based on their classification, and government reform. The article said fulfilling these reform tasks are significant for improving China's socialist system and its sustained development. The government work report and amended Criminal Procedure Law along with other official or legal documents adopted at the session represent unification of the CPC Central Committee's strategic decisions and the people's will, said the article. "We should reach consensus on the central authorities' decisions, and focus attention on and devote wisdom to achieving the economic and social development goals," reads the article. ^ top ^

Family find jailed lawyer Gao well (SCMP)
Relatives of jailed lawyer Gao Zhisheng said yesterday that the authorities had allowed them to visit him in prison, allowing them to confirm for the first time since he disappeared nearly two years ago that he is alive and in good health. Gao's brother Gao Zhiyi said he had seen his brother but it was "not convenient" to say more. The dissident's wife, Geng He, said her father and Gao's brother saw him for half an hour in a remote prison in Xinjiang on Saturday in an emotional reunion. She expressed relief at proof her husband was alive and relatively well. Geng, who now lives in California, says she was told Gao appeared paler than the last time his brother saw him two years ago but seemed otherwise the same. The whereabouts of Gao, who earlier said he had been kidnapped and tortured by the authorities, was unknown for 20 months until state media reported in December that he was being sent back to prison for three years for violating his probation. Gao [...] has been a galvanising figure for the rights movement, advocating constitutional reform and arguing landmark cases to defend property rights and political and religious dissenters. Convicted in 2006 of subversion and sentenced to three years, he was released on probation before being taken away by security agents in 2009 in the first of his forced disappearances, which set off an international outcry. In December, the government said it was moving Gao to prison, the first time it had acknowledged holding him. Yet speculation about his health spiked again after authorities refused to let his brother visit him in prison. During the visit, Gao Zhisheng talked to Geng's father first for 10 minutes then to his brother for 20 minutes, Geng said. They spoke to each other by phone and were separated by glass, she said. [...]. ^ top ^

Three executed over fatal fire in NE China (China Daily)
Three people responsible for a fire that killed 11 people and severely injured two others in Northeast China's Jilin province in 2011 were executed Thursday, court officials said Thursday. Wang Jiansong, Qu Long and Wang Lu were convicted of setting fire to a bar. The fire spread to the upper floors of a budget hotel on May 1, 2011, said officials with the Intermediate People's Court in the city of Tonghua. The three were found to have set fire to a basement bar, in a bid to seek revenge on the bar's owner, with whom they had had disputes, officials said. Their death sentences were approved by the Jilin provincial Higher People's Court. Eleven people, including hotel tenants and firefighters who responded to the accident, were killed as the fire spread to a karaoke bar and later to the guestrooms of budget hotel chain Home Inns. The fire also caused about 1.8 million yuan ($285,478) in economic losses. ^ top ^

Tsinghua aims to be world's top financial school (China Daily)
China's elite Tsinghua University on Thursday set up a graduate school for financial studies with the central bank and appointed a former deputy governor of the bank as the dean. Minister of Education Yuan Guiren and Central Banker Zhou Xiaochuan attended the opening ceremony in Beijing. Wu Xiaoling, the dean, who served as deputy head of the People's Bank of China (PBoC) from 2000 to 2008, said Wudaokou Financial School aims to become the world's top graduate school for financial studies. The school will pool the world's top teachers and researchers, focus on high-end studies in finance, and serve as a think-tank for policymakers of the PBoC and the country's other financial institutes, Wu said. Wudaokou Financial School, named after its location near Tsinghua, was relaunched from PBoC's Graduate School, which was set up in 1981 and gained its name for training China's top financial talents. Wu, 65, was herself a graduate from the school in 1984. The new school under Tsinghua will carry on its tradition of "small-but-elite" education as it only offers master and doctoral degrees in finance, Wu said. Originally founded in 1911 as a training school for students seeking to study abroad, Tsinghua is best known for training large numbers of scientists and engineers, including Nobel Prize laureates Lee Tsung-dao, Yang Chen-ning and Lee Yuan-tseh. Tsinghua is also a cradle for China's politicians. Its alumni include President Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Vice President Xi Jinping, and former premier Zhu Rongji. ^ top ^



Emergency plan for city's bad air days (Global Times)
Beijing will launch an emergency plan within this year for days when the air pollution, is considered to be heavy, according to environmental officials at a conference Friday. Chen Tian, head of the municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said that primary and middle schools will cancel outdoor activities, and government employees will set an example by not driving official cars, the Beijing News reported. [...] International schools in Beijing commonly cancel outdoor activities if the pollution or weather is bad. [...] The emergency plan is part of a government air pollution control blueprint for Beijing in the next eight years. It indicates that road cleaning will be enhanced and construction sites should stop transporting residue and work involving earth if air pollution is heavy. Beijing still needs 18 to 20 years before its PM2.5 readings reach a national standard, Hong Feng, deputy mayor of Beijing said during the conference. Eliminating motor vehicles with excessive emissions, expanding green coverage and reducing coal burning are measures to reach that goal, he said, given that Beijing's air quality ranks 1,035 worldwide, according to a report by the World Health Organization last year. ^ top ^

Former residences of notable figures must be protected: official (Xinhua)
A senior official with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage has stressed that notable figures' former residences, once listed as fixed cultural heritage, must be protected. Li Yaoshen, head of the policy and regulation bureau under the administration, made the remarks Wednesday -- days after a district government in Beijing revoked its controversial decision to demolish the temporary residence of a late Chinese writer amid public outcry. The No. 84 Courtyard on Zhuanta Hutong, or Zhuanta Lane, has been confirmed as the residence of Lu Xun, a 20th century literary master. Lu is said to have composed "New Year Sacrifice" during his short stay there. The district government initially said it wanted to bulldoze the building to create public green space. It later vowed to restore the residence to its original appearance with the help of historical records and photos. [...] Li urged cultural relics and heritage departments to map out detailed qualifications for famous people's former residences that should be protected while conducting deep research on the historical values of these buildings and listening to public opinions. ^ top ^



Industrial product exports see negative growth in Guangdong (Xinhua)
South China's Guangdong province, a major global manufacturing base, has seen a decrease in its exports of industrial products amid a slowing industrial economy, partly as a result of shrinking overseas demand. According to figures released by the Statistics Bureau of Guangdong, the export value of industrial products above the designated size amounted to 384.14 billion yuan (60.89 billion U.S. Dollars) over the past two months, down 4 percent year-on-year. The cities of Shenzhen and Dongguan have seen their export values drop 10 and 9.3 percent, respectively. Industries above the designated size in the province generated an added value of 296.68 billion yuan over the past two months, up 5 percent from the same period of last year. Foreign investment accounts for about 60 percent of Guangdong's industrial economy. The added value generated by investment from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and foreign countries added up to 154.18 billion yuan over the past two months, down 0.4 percent year-on-year. ^ top ^

Committee officials suspended (China Daily)
All seven members of the Party committee of Wanfeng community in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, have been suspended following protests by local residents about under-priced land transfers and dubious collective financial accounts. Three people sent by the Party committee of Shajing subdistrict are handling the daily work of the Wanfeng Party committee, according to a statement from the subdistrict office. The Party disciplinary body of Baoan district is investigating possible corruption and related financial matters, the Shenzhen-based Daily Sunshine newspaper reported. Once one of the most developed villages in China, Wanfeng village, now called Wanfeng community, has seen its economy deteriorate in the past 10 years. Its residents have been petitioning higher-level authorities over the irregularities since February. Some residents blocked the road in protest on Saturday, the Shenzhen Economic Daily reported. They are demanding that the collective land transferred at below-value prices in recent years be recovered, and that the financial accounts of the community and its corporation, made public. They say no dividends have been paid to them for years. The residents also demand that the members of the Wanfeng Party committee and residents' committee be sacked for the disorderly administration, and new elections be held. [...] Xie Xiaodong, Party chief of Shajing subdistrict, admitted that problems existed in Shajing subdistrict, and the situation in some communities was serious and complicated. He pledged to work out measures in accordance with the law and to improve communication and coordination. ^ top ^

Fortune 500 companies ordered to accept collective salary negotiation (Xinhua)
Labor union authorities in south China's Guangzhou city have ordered Global Fortune 500 companies running business locally to put in place the collective salary negotiation system within the year. Chen Weiguang, head of the Guangzhou city federation of trade unions, said Thursday the agency will meet company executives or send working groups to push hard for collective salary negotiation if any Fortune 500 company failed to comply before the deadline. The global Fortune 500 companies have about 600 subsidiaries in Guangdong Province, mainly in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, and Shenzhen. The last two years saw sporadic strikes at mainly foreign-funded enterprises in Guangdong, dubbed as "factory of the world" for its labor-intensive manufacturing industry. Workers demanded pay rises as a result of rising living costs and severe labor shortage. In most cases, they got pay hikes after collective negotiation with company managers. [...]. ^ top ^



Dalai clique's separatist attempt doomed to fail: Tibet governor (Global Times)
The Dalai Lama clique's separatist attempt is doomed to fail, Tibet's government chief Padma Choling said Tuesday night in a televised speech. In the speech on the eve of the fourth Serfs Emancipation Day, the chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region also said that the Dalai clique's separatist attempt is against the trend of history and the will of people. Padma Choling also blasted various extremist violent acts "instigated and trumped by the Dalai clique" that sought to spoil the peaceful and happy life of Tibetan residents. The Dalai Lama has publicly applauded the "courage" of the people who died or were injured in a string of self-immolations in the Tibetan regions in Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces bordering Tibet. Similarities found in the self-immolations have pointed to behind-the-scenes orchestration with a transparent political motive, a local official in Sichuan said early the month. Wu Zegang, chief of the Aba Tibetan-Qiang autonomous prefecture, the major region that witnessed the self-immolations, said that police have investigated self-immolations that occurred in Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu in recent months, finding that the victims were used by separatists to create chaos. The backward forces of old Tibet headed by Dalai Lama and its so called "exile government" are not willing to see their "paradise" lost and are still reluctant to give up privileges they enjoyed in the old time, said Padma Choling. They lobby everywhere with distorted facts in order to obtain sympathy and support from people who know little about the truth to seek Tibet independence, the chairman said. "No matter what tricks the Dalai and its clique use, Tibetan people's strong will to oppose separation and safeguard the country's unity will not change," he said. Wednesday marks the 53rd anniversary of the emancipation of 1 million serfs following the central government's democratic reform in Tibet on March 28, 1959. Local authorities have held various activities to mark the occasion and more are expected on Wednesday. "March 28, 1959 is the watershed between the old and new Tibet. History will forever remember the glorious day," Padma Choling said. Tibet has achieved an all-around economic and social growth over the past decades and people from all nationalities now share the fruits of reform, he said. Tibet's gross domestic product climbed to 60.6 billion yuan (9.6 billion US dollars) in 2011, 94 times more than the level in 1959. During the same period, Tibet's population more than doubled to 3.03 million in 2011, 90.5 percent of whom are Tibetans. In addition, the life expectancy in Tibet nearly doubled to 67 years old from 35.5 years old in 1959. The political rights, religious freedom, traditional culture and ecological system in Tibet also are respected or protected, Padma Choling said. "Only by resolutely safeguarding the country's unity and opposing separation can Tibet achieve the leap-forward development and long-lasting security," he said. ^ top ^

Tibet marks emancipation of serfs (Xinhua)
Residents of southwest China's Tibet autonomous region on Wednesday marked the emancipation of 1 million serfs when the theocratic rule in Tibet was abolished in 1959. Thousands of people gathered in Potala Square in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in the morning. Local residents, monks, students and soldiers sang the national anthem as they watched the red flag of the People's Republic of China rise before the imposing Potala Palace. Authorities designated March 28 as the day to commemorate the 1959 democratic reform in Tibet, which ended the feudal serf system, freeing about 1 million Tibetan, over 90 percent of the region's population at the time, from a life of serfdom. "I feel excited about the day," said Nyma Choling, 68, who added that he was born a serf and, and without the abolishment of serfdom, he would not be able to enjoy the good life he has today. Government officials said that after the democratic reform, Tibet has achieved all-around economic and social growth and people from all ethnic groups in Tibet benefit from the reform. "Over the past 53 years, marvelous changes have taken place in Tibet. History has proven that today's Tibet would not exist without the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC)," said Lhasa's top official Qizala, secretary of the CPC Lhasa municipal committee. [...] Overall, Tibet's gross domestic product rose to 60.6 billion yuan (9.6 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011, 94 times more than the level in 1959. The government plans to invest 193.1 billion yuan for 226 projects in Tibet from 2011 to 2015, about 2.5 times the amount invested during the previous five-year period. In a televised speech delivered prior to the day, Tibet's government chief Padma Choling said the political rights, religious freedom, traditional culture and ecological system in Tibet have been well respected and protected. But he said Tibet can only achieve leap-forward development and long-lasting security by resolutely safeguarding the country's unity and opposing separation. [...]. ^ top ^



Mastermind behind Kashi terrorist attacks given death sentence (Global Times)
A local court in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region handed down the death penalty Monday to the head of a terrorist group responsible for a killing spree that left 15 people dead last month. The Intermediate People's Court of Kashi convicted Abudukeremu Mamuti of organizing and heading a terrorist group, and intentional killing. Mamuti spread ideologies of religious extremism and terrorism, conspired to form a terrorist group with eight other people and plotted attacks between July 2011 and February 2012, the court said. The group carried out an attack at a busy avenue in Yecheng county affiliated to Kashi at around 6 pm on February 28, killing 15 people and injuring 14 with knives and axes. Police seized Mamuti at the scene and gunned down other attackers. Four policemen were injured while a local security officer was killed during the incident. Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that "the group is linked with the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, a terrorist group listed by the UN, which provides it with terrorist training." China's top legislature adopted a decision on strengthening anti-terrorism efforts last October, providing a legal basis for the country's fight against terrorism, which will severely strike terrorists, according to Li. [...]. ^ top ^

Military leader urges troops to consolidate political ideology (People's Daily Online)
Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission Xu Caihou has urged troops to consolidate political ideology and improve awareness of guarding national unity and stability during an inspection of forces based in Xinjiang region. According to an official statement Xinhua received Wednesday, Xu said in his undated tour that all levels of the troops should resolutely follow instructions from the central authorities throughout their efforts. "(The troops) should actively adapt to the emerging situation, new tasks and demands, closely focus on the theme of national defense and military building, and step up ideological and political construction," Xu said. Xu said the military should strive to make excellent achievements in all work, so as to better greet the 18th national congress of the Communist Party of China, which is set to be held later this year. ^ top ^



Hong Kong to seek stronger ties with Indonesia (Xinhua)
Hong Kong is looking forward to enhancing cooperation with Indonesia in various aspects, the city' s Chief Executive Donald Tsang said here Saturday when meeting with Indonesian President in Hong Kong. Tsang welcomed President of the Republic of Indonesia H Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his delegation at Government House here Saturday. [...] "Our meeting signifies the commitment of Indonesia and Hong Kong to promoting growth in our bilateral relations," Tsang said, bilateral trade in goods alone has witnessed impressive growth at an average rate of 11 percent annually in the last five years. At their bilateral meeting, Tsang and Yudhoyono exchanged views on the strong potential for strengthening all round relations in a wide range of areas including trade, financial services, tourism, education and culture. The chief executive conveyed the communities' wish for early ratification of the Comprehensive Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement, signed between Indonesia and Hong Kong in 2010. He also introduced the strengths of Hong Kong as a global financial center and offshore Renminbi (RMB) center. [...] Tsang also looked forward to Indonesia's support for Hong Kong' s request to join the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement. [...] Tsang expressed appreciation of the contributions made by the 164,000-strong Indonesian community in Hong Kong, including close to 150,000 who are foreign domestic helpers. [...]. ^ top ^

C.Y. Leung seeks unity after divisive poll (SCMP)
Chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying called for unity yesterday and promised to defend Hong Kong's core values after winning a narrow victory in the most controversial leadership contest since 1997. Acknowledging the difficulties that await him after he takes office on July 1, Leung struck a conciliatory tone as he thanked rivals Henry Tang Ying-yen and Albert Ho Chun-yan for their participation in what was a bruising campaign. "From now on, there won't be any Tang camp, Ho camp nor Leung camp. There is only one camp - the Hong Kong camp," the former Executive Council convenor said. Among the most pressing challenges now facing Leung are appointing his cabinet, mending fences with the big business figures who backed Tang, and building a working relationship with civil servants rattled by some of the controversies that emerged during the campaign. Leung also listed the five top priorities for his administration: tackling the uneven distribution of income, inflation, housing, medical services and education. He said his campaign had reaffirmed the core values of Hong Kong, which he identified as the rule of law, human rights, clean government, and freedom of the press, speech and assembly. Leung said these were the essential components of the principle of "one country, two systems". Leung saw his own support on the 1,193-strong Election Committee climb steadily as that for Tang fell amid scandals over marital infidelity and unauthorised renovations to a Tang family home in Kowloon Tong. Yet despite winning in the first round with 57.7 per cent of the votes available - and 61 per cent of those actually cast - his victory was unconvincing, and the narrowest since the first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, won 320 of 400 votes in 1996. [...] Delivering his victory speech in the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai over the voices of protesters shouting slogans such as "down with small-circle elections", Leung said: "Now that the contest is over, it is time to reunite. We must work in unison, be inclusive, embracing diverse views." [...] Tang said he hoped Leung would govern with his heart in the coming five years and uphold "one country, two systems" and the city's high autonomy. He also hoped Leung would pay close attention to public opinion and give fair treatment to every citizen, "working towards a society with virtuous and honest governance". [...] Donald Tsang congratulated Leung and said: "My administration and I will render every assistance to Mr Leung as he makes the necessary preparation for the new term of government." [...]. ^ top ^

HK wins appeal over right of abode (China Daily)
The Hong Kong government has won its appeal against a lower court ruling, in a case that Hong Kong leaders feared would lead to a mass migration of foreign domestic helpers and their families seeking permanent residency status in the metropolis. The case emerged from a judicial review in the High Court of Hong Kong that granted permanent right of abode to a Filipino domestic helper. The appeal hinged on the interpretation of the term "ordinarily resident in Hong Kong", since the petitioner in the case had worked in Hong Kong for two decades. Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, secretary for security, welcomed the judgment. He said the Immigration Department will continue to withhold processing of right of abode applications submitted by foreign domestic helpers. The government will not change the existing arrangements for the entry and employment of such helpers, he added. Spokespersons for two groups are in support of the right of abode for foreign domestic helpers. [...] Chief Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung, together with Vice-President Justice Frank Stock and Vice-President Justice Robert Tang Ching said in passing judgment that it is not unconstitutional for the government to rely on the legislature to exclude certain groups from the right of abode. [...] Stock said that any constitution under Common Law has always been amenable to legislative definition and exception and also responds to changing societal demands. Addressing this point, Cheung said the government retains the right to "define, refine, elaborate and adapt the expression to meet changing political, economic and social needs" via the legislature. [...]. ^ top ^

Hong Kong CE-elect thanks Central Government for appointment (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao presided at the State Council meeting on Wednesday and endorsed Leung Chun-ying as the new Chief Executive (CE) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), according to the SAR government website. Leung, the Chief Executive-elect, issued the a statement on Wednesday, saying that he was grateful to the Central People's Government for appointing him as the fourth term Chief Executive of the HKSAR. "It is a huge mission and honor for me to lead the SAR government in serving the community and the people of Hong Kong, as well as to promote our social and economic development. "I will continue to unite different sectors and strata of the community with humility, do my utmost, and face up to the challenges ahead. I will uphold the principles of 'One country, Two systems', 'Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong', and a high degree of autonomy," he said. Leung said that he will also safeguard the rule of law, advance democracy and foster social harmony, and build a more prosperous, just and progressive Hong Kong, adding that he will live up to the expectations of the Central People's Government and the people of Hong Kong. ^ top ^



Right time to boost Taiwan-Fujian cooperation, says governor (Xinhua)
Governor of Fujian Province Su Shulin said he believes now is the right time to boost cooperation between Fujian and Taiwan, given the peaceful development momentum between the Chinese mainland and the island. In a meeting with Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) on Tuesday, Su said Fujian has become an ideal place to invest because it is geographically close to the island and has formulated favorable policies for Taiwanese to invest in the province. Su, who is leading a delegation on a five-day trip to Taiwan, said Fujian's "abundant business opportunities" have raise its profile among Taiwanese businessmen, who used to prefer to channel investment into the coastal provinces of Guangdong and Jiangsu over the past two decades. The governor said he believed the close cultural, geographic, and people-to-people ties between Fujian and Taiwan would help promote Fujian-Taiwan cooperation. Su is the mainland's second high-level local official to visit the island this year. Upon his arrival in Taichung on Saturday, he highlighted the common ancestry of Taiwanese people and residents in Fujian. [...] During his trip, Su toured temple fairs, visited tea farmers and talked to entrepreneurs. He also used the opportunity to woo Taiwanese investment in Pingtan, a Fujian island that was designated as a pilot area for cross-strait cooperation in July 2009. [...] When meeting Lien Chan, the honorary chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party, Su said the Pingtan project was aimed at bringing practical benefits to Taiwan compatriots. Taiwanese could enjoy a slew of preferential policies regarding taxation, finance, among others. Meanwhile, Pingtan imposes looser restriction on Taiwanese media, according to the governor. [...] The mainland aims to channel 60 billion yuan (9.53 billion U.S. dollars) to develop the zone this year, targeting an overall investment of 250 billion yuan during the 2011-2015 period, Su said during a meeting at Taiwan's Hsinchu on Sunday. [...]. ^ top ^

Mainland supports military trust talks with Taiwan (People's Daily Online)
The Chinese mainland agrees to exchange views with Taiwan on military issues "in due time" and discuss establishing a mechanism of cross-Strait military mutual trust, a mainland official said Wednesday. Such a mechanism is aimed at "stabilizing the situation across the Taiwan Strait and alleviating security concerns," Yang Yi, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a regular press conference. "We are glad to see scholars discuss the issues," Yang said, in response to questions. When commenting on the establishment of a "cross-Strait peaceful development committee," proposed by a national political advisor from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region earlier this month, Yang said, "Any opinions and suggestions that are conducive to cross-Strait relations can be put forward and discussed." Furthermore, Yang said the all issues are open to discussion so long as the fact that both sides belong to one China is recognized. ^ top ^



Moutai reports 8.76 bln yuan profit in 2011 (Xinhua)
Moutai, the fourth most valuable luxury brand in China according to the Hurun Report's 2011 list, reported a net profit of 8.76 billion yuan (about 1.39 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011, an increase of 73.49 percent over that of the previous year. The Guizhou-based company has attributed the profit jump to increased sales and higher prices in 2011, according to the company's report. The price of a 500 ml bottle of standard Moutai liquor now costs over 1,500 yuan following a recent series of price rises. The report also showed that the company achieved an annual income of 18.4 billion yuan in 2011, an increase of 58.19 percent from 2010. The company targets an annual sales income of 100 billion yuan in 2017. ^ top ^

China to expand VAT reform: official (Xinhua)
China will expand the scope of value-added tax reforms in a bid to accelerate structural adjustments in the economy, a senior official said Sunday. While attending the first Lingnan Forum held in Sun Yat-sen University in the south China city of Guangzhou, Xiao Jie, director of the State Administration of Tax (SAT), said China will continue to extend the current pilot program in Shanghai to more areas and sectors. To avoid double taxation, China started replacing its turnover tax with a value-added tax (VAT) in the transport sector and some service sectors in Shanghai from Jan. 1 this year. Turnover tax refers to a tax on the gross revenue of a business, while a VAT refers to a tax levied on the difference between a commodity's price before taxes and its cost of production. Xiao said although the pilot program just started, it has already brought about some changes, such as an easing of tax burdens on a majority of people. Based on SAT calculations, the replacement of the turnover tax could lift GDP growth by 0.5 percentage points and export growth by 0.7 percentage points, while helping to create some 700,000 jobs, according to Xiao. He said if the reform unfolds in full-swing, it will result in tax reductions of over 100 billion yuan (15.9 billion U.S. dollars). Xiao also expressed hopes that the province of Guangdong will also carry out similar pilot programs. The first Lingnan Forum, co-hosted by Lingnan College of Sun Yat-sen University and Caixin Media, opened on Sunday to discuss China's economic reforms. ^ top ^

CPC regulates conduct of SOEs officials (China Daily)
The Communist Party of China (CPC)'s disciplinary body issued rules Monday to regulate the conduct of State-owned enterprise leaders, strictly banning them from insider trading and violating accounting rules. The regulations specify punishments for various types of misconduct, in order to "correctly deal with" violations of CPC discipline and "uphold integrity" in state-owned enterprises, according to a circular from the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. State-enterprise leaders who embezzle state assets, ask for or receive bribes or illegally deal with state assets in order to seek profits for themselves and others, will be given a warning, removed from their posts, or even stripped of party membership, according to the severity of the misconduct, the rules say. They will also be referred to prosecutors after the party imposes punishment. State-enterprise leaders are banned from seeking profits for themselves or others by using the advantage of their enterprises. The rules state that they are forbidden to seek profits for themselves, spouses, children or "special parties" by using "inside information, commercial secrets, enterprises' intellectual property rights and business channels" during the listing, restructuring and additional stock issuance of their companies. They will be stripped of their party membership for this behavior. ^ top ^

Imported wine market grows rapidly in China (Xinhua)
China imported a record 1.27 billion U.S. dollars of bottled wine in 2011, up 94 percent year-on-year, according to figures released Tuesday at the first China Worldwide Wine Summit Forum. Meanwhile the value of imported loose-packed wine was down 20 percent from the previous year to 120 million U.S. dollars. The sale of imported bottled wine first surpassed imported loose-packed wine in 2009, according to Lin Feng, vice president of H & J Consulting Company. "The sale of imported bottled wine doubled that of loose-packed wine in two years, indicating that the imported wine market is evolving from low-end to high-end," Lin said during the forum held in Hefei, capital of Anhui Province. According to statistics provided by the China Culture Association of Poetry and Wine (CCAPW), also the sponsor of the forum, the total volume of imported wine increased 76.5 percent and 80.9 percent in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The CCAPW said that sales of China produced wine had grown an annualized 18 percent from 2006 to 2010 and the revenue of domestic wine industry reached 34.2 billion yuan in 2011, up 36.3 percent year-on-year. [...]. ^ top ^

Baotou Steel Rare-Earth posts hefty profits (Xinhua)
Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare Earth Hi-Tech Co., the nation's largest rare earths producer, said Tuesday its net profit jumped 363.33 percent year-on-year to 3.48 billion yuan (553.54 million U.S. dollars) in 2011. The company's sales revenue rose 119.25 percent to 11.53 billion yuan on surging prices, while earnings per share increased 363.33 percent to 2.87 yuan in 2011, according to its annual report filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange. It attributed the gains to favorable national policies which boosted development in the sector. But it noted retreating prices in the second half of last year show no signs of rebounding. Meanwhile, the company said it expects new competitors in the international market as resource exploitation picks up in Australia and the United States. Failing to meet certain environmental standards, the company has not yet received export quotas for this year. [...]. ^ top ^

BRICS banks to sign pacts to push forward local currency lending: head of China Development Bank (Xinhua)
China Development Bank (CDB) and its BRICS' counterparts will sign agreements on Thursday to formalize cooperation in local currency lending, in a bid to further facilitate trade and investment among the five countries, said chairman of CDB Chen Yuan here on Wednesday. Under the agreements, namely the Master Agreement for Extending Credit facilities in Local Currency, and the Multilateral Letter of Credit Confirmation Facility Agreement, each country will make its own currency loans available to other four member countries. "Using our own currencies to issue loans and settle payments can minimize exposure to exchange rate fluctuations, reduce our reliance on third-party currencies, and facilitate trade and investment," said Chen in a financial forum gathering of CDB and its Brazilian, Russian, Indian and South African counterparts. [...] Statistics showed that from 2001 to 2010, inter-BRICS trade soared with an average annual growth of 28 percent. Total trade among the five countries stood at 230 billion U.S. dollars in 2010. These two agreements will also be important outcome documents for this year's BRICS summit, bearing far reaching significance in deepening financial cooperation, commented Chen while attending a press conference later in the day. [...] The pacts to be signed have also been applauded by bank leaders of other BRICS countries. [...]. ^ top ^

China to reform electricity, oil pricing mechanisms (Xinhua)
China will reform the pricing mechanisms for electricity and refined oil products this year, an official with China's top economic planner said here Wednesday. Peng Sen, deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a work conference that the country will initiate a tiered pricing system for household electricity consumption in the first half this year. Peng also said that China will reform the pricing mechanism for refined oil products this year by reducing the price adjustment cycle and enhancing the transparency of the pricing mechanism. ^ top ^

Wenzhou to pilot private investment overseas (China Daily)
Wenzhou won Beijing's approval on Wednesday for a landmark financial pilot project that will allow residents of the coastal city to, among other things, invest privately overseas and set up loan companies. At a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, the government selected Wenzhou in eastern Zhejiang province, a city with a deep tradition of entrepreneurship, to be a "pilot zone" for a series of financial reforms. [...] Owners of private businesses welcomed the move. [...] The State Council decision covered 12 major points, which include developing privately owned financial services, setting up village banks and rural financial co-ops and encouraging lending by State-owned banks to smaller businesses. The government of Zhejiang province was required by the State Council to set up a working group to lead the implementation of the reform program and to work closely with the People's Bank of China. A communique after the cabinet meeting said: "It is imperative to launch comprehensive financial reform in Wenzhou in order to iron out long-standing problems in local economic development and lead private fund-raising activities to develop in an orderly way to strengthen their capability to serve the real economy." Such comprehensive financial reform is "of the utmost importance, not only for Wenzhou, as it can serve as an example for financial reform and economic development nationwide," it said. [...]. ^ top ^

E-commerce to make even bigger gains (Xinhua)
China aims to double the value of its e-commerce sales to 18 trillion yuan ($2.86 trillion) by the end of 2015, which would make it the leading market for global e-commerce. That's according to an E-commerce 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) that was released on Tuesday by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the nation's top industry regulator. China, with 513 million Internet users, is home to more residents who are online than the United States, according to a China Internet Network Information Center report in January. "During the 11th Five-Year Plan (2005-10), the growth rate for China's e-commerce sales increased by an average of 250 percent, reaching 4.5 trillion yuan by the end of 2010," the ministry said. In 2010, about 161 million Internet users purchased 513.1 billion yuan in goods online, an amount making up 3.3 percent of the value of all retail sales in China. "E-commerce has expanded into various industries such as the agriculture, trading, transportation, finance and travel industries and is merging with China's substantial economy," the plan said. [...] The plan also says the ministry is targeting markets overseas. Even so, there are some difficulties in the market, the ministry said. The new business has not reached its potential for making contributions to the economy, and online shopping services and legislation need to be improved. ^ top ^

Vice Premier Li Keqiang meets Apple's Tim Cook (Xinhua)
Vice Premier Li Keqiang said Tuesday that China will strengthen intellectual property rights protection and continue to transform its economy, when meeting CEO of Apple Tim Cook in Beijing. "To be more open to the outside is a condition for China to transform its economic development, expand domestic demands and conduct technological innovation," Li said. [...] The vice premier called on multinational companies to expand cooperation with China, actively participate in the development of the western part of China, pay more attention to caring for workers and share development opportunities with the Chinese side. Cook said Apple will strengthen comprehensive cooperation with the Chinese side and conduct business in a law-abiding and honest manner. Li highlighted the importance of development of new technologies and industries for a healthy recovery and strong, sustainable and balanced growth of world economy. He said the Chinese government will make more efforts to strengthen innovation and cultivate strategic emerging industries. ^ top ^

China grants 24 bln USD of external debts for foreign banks (Xinhua)
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner, said Thursday foreign-funded banks in China are allowed to borrow as much as 24 billion U.S. dollars of medium- and long-term external debt this year. The approval of foreign banks' issuing external debts aims to open up China's banking sector to the outside world and let foreign banks play an active role in attracting foreign investment and helping Chinese enterprises go global, the NDRC said. HSBC, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and the Bank of East Asia are chosen to carry out the pilot scheme to issue external debts. According to the NDRC, foreign banks must report to the commission about the size, tenure and overseas creditors of yuan-denominated funds whose terms are one year or above. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

DPRK to hold parliamentary session as satellite launch enters "full-fledged" stage (Xinhua)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will convene a parliamentary session in April, the official KCNA news agency reported Saturday. The Fifth Session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK will be held on April 13, and representatives of the SPA should be registered on April 11-12, said the KCNA in a brief dispatch, without elaborating its agenda. The SPA is the supreme power organ of the DPRK, which holds the highest position and authority of the country and exercises legislative power. The announcement came as the country's preparations for a satellite launch "have entered a full-fledged stage of action," a spokesman for the DPRK's foreign ministry said Friday. According to the KCNA, the projected launch of the Satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 is to mark the centenary of the birth of late President Kim Il Sung, and it is a worldwide trend to launch and use satellites needed for a country's economic development. The spokesman said peaceful satellite launching is an exercise of "an independent and legitimate right" for all countries. The DPRK's satellite launch is "an issue fundamentally different from the Feb. 29 DPRK-U.S. Agreement," as the DPRK has consistently clarified that "the satellite launch is not included in the long-range missile launch" covered by the DPRK-U.S. high-level talks, the spokesman added. ^ top ^

DPRK holds national memorial service for late leader Kim Jong Il (Xinhua)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) held here Sunday a national memorial service commemorating the 100th day of the death of their leader Kim Jong Il. Kim Jong Un, the late leader's successor and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army (KPA) and supreme leader of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), attended the memorial service at the Kim Il Sung Square. Premier Chon Yong Rim delivered a speech at the ceremony and praised the late leader, saying "He successfully solved the issue of succession to the leadership to accomplish the revolutionary cause of Juche". Chon encouraged the countrymen to accomplish "the cause of building a thriving socialist nation under the leadership of Kim Jong Un". At noon local time (0300 GMT), sirens and whistles sounded across the country with national flags flying at half-mast. Citizens observed three minutes of silence in reverence towards the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where Kim Jong Il's body is on display. Earlier on Sunday morning, Kim Jong Un and some senior party, state and military officials also paid a visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun. [...]. ^ top ^

Hu stresses hard-won easing of Korean tension (China Daily)
The hard-won reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula must not be lost, President Hu Jintao said on Monday amid growing concern over a planned satellite launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea next month. Hu made the remarks as he met US President Barack Obama and Lee Myung-bak, the president of the Republic of Korea, on Monday at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit. [...] The ROK government warned that it might shoot down the rocket if it violates ROK airspace. Both US and ROK leaders also want China to use its influence in the region to help ease tension. According to Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu, Hu said in the meeting with Obama that China is concerned about the DPRK's satellite launch. "We have urged relevant parties to remain clam and exercise restraint, and prevent an escalation of tension. This serves the common interests of all parties," Hu said. China hopes the US and the DPRK will continue with contact and dialogue, uphold the consensus already achieved, and improve relations, Hu said. Hu emphasized, in his meeting with Lee, that "at present, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is very complicated and sensitive. We hope we do not see a reversal of the hard-won relaxation of tension on the peninsula". [...] "China is ready to work with other parties and continue to make active efforts toward peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," Hu said. [...] Hu's comments showed China shared concerns on the situation with other countries and was determined to reach a peaceful solution, said Wang Junsheng, an expert on Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "China is the only country which has a stable relationship with all the other members of the Six-Party Talks, so China's mediation among them is extremely important," Wang said. [...] The two presidents also discussed the Iranian nuclear issue, with both welcoming upcoming diplomatic efforts by the "P5 plus One Group" to end the nuclear standoff. [...] Hu urged that the US should continue to adhere to the policy of engagement to solve the Iranian nuclear issue. [...]. ^ top ^

DPRK defends its human rights while assails UNHRC resolution (Xinhua)
A Foreign Ministry spokesman of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Monday denounced a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution against the country. The spokesman strongly refuted the "resolution" against the DPRK adopted at the 19th session of the UNHRC last Thursday when answering the question raised by the official news agency KCNA. He said that the resolution is "a product of the disgusting farce staged by those hostile forces towards the system in the DPRK". The DPRK would decisively frustrate the intrigues of those hostile forces with "the might of the single-minded unity and unswervingly keep to the path of independence, path of Songun chosen by its people," the spokesman said. ^ top ^

DPRK vows not to give up planned satellite launch (Xinhua)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Tuesday that it would never give up its planned satellite launch which is for peaceful purposes. A DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman, answering a question from the country's official KCNA news agency, said the United States should not apply a double standard to the DPRK's satellite launch. The spokesman said the DPRK will not give up the planned lunch of Satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, which he said is a "legitimate right of a sovereign state and requirement essential for its economic development." The spokesman also said U.S. President Barack Obama's assertion that the DPRK's satellite launch would constitute a "provocation threatening international peace and security" reflects the U.S. conception of "confrontation" and "hostility" toward the DPRK. "It is the behests of leader Kim Jong Il to launch a working satellite to mark the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung," he said, adding that it has been planned long ago. [...] The DPRK's stand on implementing the agreement remains unchanged, he said, adding: "There is no reason or need to launch a long-range missile at this time." The DPRK has invited foreign experts and journalists to observe the satellite launch to prove it is for the peaceful use of space, "irrelevant to any military purpose," he said. Pyongyang has said "the satellite launch is not included in the long-range missile launch" covered by the Feb. 29 DPRK-U.S. agreement. [...] China has urged all relevant sides to keep calm and make joint efforts for an appropriate handling of the current situation. ^ top ^

Kim Jong Un vows to improve people's living standard (Xinhua)
Leader Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Monday that the country will make efforts to improve people's living standard step by step. The DPRK will unswervingly implement the instructions of late leader Kim Jong Il to early realize the victory of the revolutionary cause and build a thriving nation, the official KCNA news agency quoted him as saying. Kim Jong Un, supreme leader of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, called on the DPRK people to unite around the WPK Central Committee and make great efforts toward that goal. The current leader made the remarks in a letter where he thanked all DPRK party members, service personnel and people for their profound condolences on the demise of Kim Jong Il, who passed away in December. ^ top ^

U.S. suspends food aid to Pyongyang (Xinhua)
The United States has suspended its planned nutritional food aid to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) over the latter's insistence on satellite launch, a Pentagon official said on Wednesday. "We have been forced to suspend our activities to provide nutritional assistance to North Korea," said Peter Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs. [...] "Our suspicions about North Korea using its celebrations this year to enhance its missile program were confirmed when North Korea announced on March 16 that it plans to conduct a missile launch between April 12 and 16," he claimed, calling the planned launch "highly provocative" as it "manifests North Korea's desire to test and expand its long-range missile capability." "In addition, the launch, if it occurs, would be in direct violation of Pyongyang's international obligations, including UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874, which prohibit North Korea from conducting any launches that use ballistic missile technology," he said. The Pentagon official expressed regret at the suspension of the food aid, saying: "Why we're not providing that food assistance at this point is because our confidence in their ability to meet their agreements has been diminished. We do not use it as a lever to change their policies." [...]. ^ 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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