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
  28.4-4.5.2012, No. 421  
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DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

Chinese vice premier meets Russian president on deepening strategic partnership (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met here Friday to discuss how to deepen the Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination and exchanged views on major issues of common concern. [...] Russia is a key pole in the world, Li said, adding that China always views China-Russia ties from a strategic height and a long-term perspective and regards Russia's growth as an important opportunity for its own development. Li also said China is willing to work jointly with Russia to deepen strategic mutual trust, expand all-round pragmatic cooperation, strengthen mutual support on issues concerning each other's core interests, and increase strategic coordination in international affairs in a bid to elevate their comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination to a new level. [...] As two important members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), China and Russia need to map out a development strategy for SCO, enhance economic cooperation among its members, and jointly promote economic development and improve people's livelihood in the member countries, Li said. He also expressed China's support for Russia's hosting of the 8th Group of Twenty (G20) summit in 2013. [...] For his part, Medvedev hailed Li's visit as a significant step for facilitating the development of bilateral ties, which holds great importance for the world. [...] During the meeting, Li and Medvedev also exchanged views on enhancing economic and trade investment, energy, scientific and technological innovation, cultural and people-to-people exchanges and regional cooperation. Li arrived here Thursday for an official visit at the invitation of the Russian government. Russia is the first leg of Li's current European trip, which will also take him to Hungary, Belgium and the EU headquarters in Brussels. ^ top ^

China dismisses Japan's claim of UN backing in continental shelf extension (Xinhua)
China on Saturday dismissed Japan's claim of UN backing in its extension of continental shelf, saying that Japan's claim was baseless. Japanese media reported that Japanese government officials on Saturday welcomed the backing of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf for the country's claim that the seabed north of the Okinotori atoll is part of its continental shelf. "The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has not announced its decision concerning the case of the outer limits of Japan's continental shelf. I don't know on what grounds did Japan make such a claim," Liu said, adding that international mainstream views do not support Japan's claim. China insists that according to the international law, the Okinotori atoll shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, Liu said. The Okinotori atoll, some 1,700 kilometers south of Tokyo, is only about 10 square meters above the sea at the flood-tide. According to Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, rocks that cannot sustain human habitation or an economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf. ^ top ^

China, Hungary sign a series of agreements (China Daily)
China and Hungary signed a series of investment and cooperative agreements on Tuesday, covering agriculture, telecommunications, infrastructure and finance, showing that China is strengthening its presence in Central and Eastern Europe. Companies and governments from both countries, including the Ministry of Commerce, Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation and China Development Bank, signed seven cooperative deals in Budapest. The cooperative agreements were signed while Vice-Premier Li Keqiang paid a two-day visit to Hungary starting on Monday, a visit through which China aims to enhance economic and trade cooperation with the country. [...] China is Hungary's largest trade partner outside the European Union. Hungary is the largest destination for Chinese investments in Central and Eastern Europe. Huawei Technologies, a leading information and communication technology solutions provider, agreed to set up a logistics center in Hungary. [...] Huawei is the largest Chinese company and in Europe in terms of investment volume. It employs 7,000 people around Europe. [...] As part of the seven cooperative deals, the commerce and agriculture ministries signed cooperative memorandums on cooperation of small and medium-sized enterprises and cooperation in agriculture. China Development Bank signed an agreement with the Hungarian government on a finance framework. China Civil Engineering Construction Corp signed a memorandum worth $1 billion on building a 20-kilometer rail express linking the airport to the downtown Budapest. [...] On Tuesday, Li also met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Li's visit to Hungary sends a clear signal that the Chinese government is ready to deepen strategic cooperation with Central and Eastern European countries, and the country has received a positive response from Hungary, said Guan Chengyuan, former Chinese ambassador to the European Union. [...]. ^ top ^

China willing to enhance communication, coordination with AL: diplomat (Xinhua)
CAIRO - Director-General of the Department of West Asian and North African Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Chen Xiaodong voiced willingness to beef up communication and coordination with the Arab League (AL) when meeting with AL chief Nabil al-Arabi and Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamel Amr here on Monday. "I exchanged views with Arabi on China-Arab relations and issues of common concern," Chen said after meeting the AL chief, noting that China attaches great importance to AL's role and influence on regional affairs. "We are willing to strengthen communication and cooperation with the AL for an early and proper solution to some regional issues," Chen said. Chen said China pays high attention to Arabi's upcoming visit to China, due in next week, noting "coordination are under way to make sure the visit a successful one." Besides, Chen said the two sides also compared notes on the Fifth Ministerial meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum which will be held in Tunisia in May. Arabi, for his part, expressed expectation to meet with leaders of China, saying that he wish to talk with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on issues of common concern. Chen also held talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr, asserting that China supports Egypt in its efforts to maintain stability and develop economy, vowing to continue support and assistance within its capability. ^ top ^

China, ROK start talk on free trade area (Xinhua)
China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Wednesday announced the beginning of negotiations for setting up a Free Trade Area (FTA), according to a press conference attended by Minister of Commerce Chen Deming and ROK Trade Minister Bark Tae Ho. Chen said the first round of negotiations will be held in May, adding that he hopes the negotiations will be concluded within two years. "The launch of the FTA negotiations will be conducive to the economic integration of north Asia and the prosperity and stability of the region as a whole," Chen said. Bark Tae Ho said the two countries will start by finalizing modalities for trade in goods, services, investment and other areas, which will be an integral part of the agreement. [...] Both ministers agreed that the level of liberalization for trade in goods and services should go beyond each country's commitment to the World Trade Organization. Meanwhile, they said a normal track and a sensitive track will be established to address sensitivities in the area of trade in goods. Bilateral trade between the two countries has witnessed strong growth during the past two decades, with bilateral trade volume rising 18.6 percent year-on-year to 245.6 billion U.S. dollars last year. China has become ROK's largest trading partner, while ROK ranks as China's fourth-largest foreign investor. ^ top ^

China calls for balanced position on Sudan-South Sudan issue (Xinhua)
United Nations - China has always maintained that the international community should take an "objective, impartial and balanced" stand in handling the issue concerning Sudan and South Sudan, said Chinese UN Ambassador Li Baodong here Wednesday. Li made the remarks at a UN Security Council meeting where a resolution on Sudan and South Sudan was unanimously adopted. "China has all along maintained that the international community should take an objective, impartial and balanced position on Sudan and South Sudan, avoid taking sides or imposing unbalanced pressure on the parties, and refrain from interfering in the mediation efforts of the African Union and other regional organizations and countries," said Li, "We are always very cautious about use or threat of sanctions." [...] Li also said China has maintained that African issues should be settled by Africa in African ways. [...] China hopes Sudan and South Sudan "stick to the path of peace, put an immediate end to all hostilities and violence, and fully respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, restore peace and stability along their borders as soon as possible". Li said China also hopes that the two African countries " fully implement the existing agreements in good faith, resolve the outstanding issues through dialogue and negotiations and make joint efforts to forge good-neighborly and friendly relations of equality, mutual trust and mutual benefit." China, for its own part, will continue to play a positive and constructive role in promoting the proper settlement of issues between Sudan and South Sudan, along with the international community, he added. ^ top ^

China-U.S. dialogue highlights will for new ties (Xinhua)
A new round of China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) on Thursday highlighted the will of both sides to build new relations in the era of economic globalization. China and the United States should break the traditional belief that big powers will conflict with each other, and seek new ways to develop relations between major countries, said Chinese President Hu Jintao when addressing the opening session of the fourth round of the S&ED in Beijing. To build such a new type of relations between China and the United States, Hu called on the two sides to advance with the times in their thinking, policies and actions. Over the past 30 years and more since its reform and opening-up process started, China has, through the hard work and wisdom of the Chinese people and win-win cooperation with people around the world, pursued peaceful development, he said. "To follow the path of peaceful development is China's strategic choice that will never change, and it is a solemn commitment China has made to the world," according to Hu. To build a new type of relation between China and the United States, the president also called on the two sides to act in a spirit of equality and mutual understanding. Given different national conditions, it is impossible for China and the United States to see eye to eye on every issue, he admitted, calling on the two sides to expand common ground and properly manage their differences through dialogue and exchanges and by improving mutual understanding. As the world's top two economies were linked by shared global responsibilities, Hu suggested the two countries should step up coordination on regional and international issues, and promote peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. In a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, co-chairs of the dialogues, China Vice President Xi Jinping noted the significant consensus reached between the two state leaders already paved the way for China and the United States to explore and construct such a new relationship. Given the fact that China and the United States have so many differences in political system, history, culture and economic development, the two nations should bear the faith and determination that makes one a true hero to reach the Great Wall, as well as patience and wisdom to test each stone under step to cross a river, Xi said. He called on the two sides to continuously increase mutual understanding and trust, step up cooperation with mutual benefit, strengthen coordination on important regional and international issues, and promote friendship between the two peoples. "This year is a pivotal year for the China-U.S. relationship," in the view of Xi, who expressed hope that the United States can eliminate disturbance, always bear the overall and long-term situation in mind and make joint efforts with the Chinese side to maintain the healthy and stable growth of the bilateral relations. [...] The 3rd China-U.S. High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange was also held on Thursday. [...]. ^ top ^

Powers partner to secure stability (China Daily)
China and the United States will enhance mutual trust and cooperation on regional security issues through the Strategic Security Dialogue mechanism, officials from both sides said on Wednesday. The second China-US Strategic Security Dialogue under the framework of the fourth China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue was held in Beijing on Wednesday. Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Zhijun and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns co-chaired the dialogue, according to a release by the Foreign Ministry, which noted that the two sides worked to deepen mutual understanding through an in-depth exchange of views on issues of strategic and comprehensive security. Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Ma Xiaotian, Chinese Ambassador to the US Zhang Yesui, acting US Undersecretary of Defense James Miller and Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the US Pacific Command, also attended the event. Despite differences in ideology and culture, China and the US share the common interest of safeguarding the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, said Teng Jianqun, a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies. [...] Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo said on Thursday that no one should expect the Chinese people to leave the path they have set for themselves. When addressing the opening session of the dialogues, Dai said that the fundamental way to manage state-to-state affairs is to abide by the basic norms governing international relations. Specifically, he said it is crucial to respect each other's sovereignty, core interests, and choice of social system and development path. "This is particularly important for the relations between major countries," Dai said. ^ top ^

Li focuses on urban potential (China Daily)
Accelerating urbanization will provide a new growth engine for China-EU economic and trade relations, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday. "China is committed to transforming its growth model and views urbanization as a significant step in the modernization process," Li said. China's commitment to boost urbanization can help the EU realize its economic recovery, the vice-premier said as the EU expands its investments in China, turning urban technology into business opportunities. Li was speaking during the EU-China Urbanization Partnership Conference in Brussels, the last leg of his 10-day European tour. China and the EU signed an urbanization partnership declaration on Thursday and a series of energy-related agreements. [...] "China expects that urbanization can provide a new platform and growth engine with the focus on energy-saving, environmental protection and new energy," Li said. [...] "When made-in-China meets designed-in-Europe, and when the technology from the EU meets the market from China, the outcome will be wonderful," Li said. On Thursday, Li met the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy. "We looked at EU-China strategic relations which are increasingly comprehensive. He (Li) gave me a positive assessment on the progress of our bilateral agenda," Van Rompuy said. "Today, another two chapters in our cooperation, urbanization and energy, are unfolding," he said. As part of his keynote speech made at the conference, Li pointed out that China is willing to learn from the EU on "setting up green and low-carbon cities", and Chinese cities are "willing to partner cities from the EU". The two sides should focus on "cooperation in big projects, concerning infrastructure and city-related services". [...]. ^ top ^

China expects dialogue, negotiation for Iran nuclear issue (Xinhua)
China believes dialogue and negotiations are the proper way to handle the Iranian nuclear issue, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday. Spokesman Liu Weimin announced Thursday that the deputy secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Baqeri paid a working visit to China on Tuesday. Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu held talks with Baqeri during his visit, and they exchanged views on the Iranian nuclear issue and other international and regional issues of common concern, Liu said. Dialogue among Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, Germany and Iran has seen positive momentum, Liu said, adding China hopes each side can cooperate sincerely and make more efforts to solve the issue peacefully on the basis of previous agreements. Liu said China will continue to play a constructive role in resolving the issue. ^ top ^

China in touch with ROK on fishermen-guards conflicts: spokesman (Xinhua)
China has remained in close contact with the Republic of Korea (ROK) over the conflict between Chinese fishermen and ROK coast guards in the Yellow Sea in an effort to properly address the incident, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday. "Officials from the Chinese Consulate General in Gwangju have visited the fishermen that were detained after the conflict," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a regular news briefing. Reports say the conflict took place in the Yellow Sea between a Chinese vessel and ROK coast guards on Monday morning. The incident left four of the coast guards injured and resulted in nine Chinese fishermen being detained. China always requires its fishermen to operate in accordance with a bilateral fishery agreement between the two countries, said the spokesman. In August 2000, the two nations reached the agreement on issues regarding sea areas for fishing, the scale of fishing and fishing conditions. "We also hope that ROK authorities will enforce laws in a civilized way and work together with the Chinese side to advance fishery cooperation between the two nations in a healthy way," said the spokesman. ^ top ^

China, Japan, S. Korea to enhance regional financial cooperation (Xinhua)
China, Japan and South Korea have agreed to enhance the regional trilateral financial cooperation during the 12th Trilateral Finance Ministers' and Central Bank Governors' Meeting of China, Japan and South Korea hold in Manila on Thursday. The senior financial officials of the three countries exchanged views on various issues, including the current macroeconomic situation and regional financial cooperation. The attendees reaffirmed their commitment to enhance trilateral financial cooperation and promote the bilateral currency swap arrangements among the three countries, which was considered to be significantly beneficial to stability of regional financial markets. The three countries also agreed to promote the investment by the foreign reserve authorities in one another's government bonds, further strengthen the cooperation, including information sharing, and thereby enhance economic relationship among the countries. The delegates from the three countries said in a joint statement released after the meeting that they were aware of the remaining uncertainties of the global economy and the potential downside risks. [...] The meeting, which was hosted by Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi, was attended by the central bank governors of the three countries for the first time. ^ top ^

Beijing warns Manila not to complicate standoff in Huangyan Island (Global Times)
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin Thursday warned the Philippines not to complicate the South China Sea situation through "speeches and tricks." Philippine media reported Thursday that more Chinese ships arrived at Huangyan Island in the South China Sea, where a standoff started after a Philippine warship tried to warn off Chinese fishermen but was stopped by Chinese surveillance ships last month. The Philippine news website quoted Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command spokesman Captain Aurello Kigis as saying that there are now 14 Chinese vessels in this area, including three maritime surveillance ships and a fisheries law enforcement command vessel. At a regular press conference Thursday in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin did not comment on the reported presence of Chinese ships near Huangyan Island, but reiterated China's stance that the earlier incident was caused by the Philippine side harassing Chinese fishing boats in Chinese territory. "We hope the Philippines and China can solve the situation through diplomatic means instead of escalating, complicating and internationalizing the matter through continued speeches and tricks," said Liu, adding that China will directly negotiate with the relevant country in disputes concerning the South China Sea. The Philippines has deployed the Coast Guard's BRP Edsa Dos and a ship from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to the area. There were six other Philippine fishing vessels in the area last Sunday, but it is not known how many have remained as of Wednesday, according to Two Chinese surveillance ships were ordered on April 10 to protect the Chinese fishermen there and managed to shield the Chinese fishing boats from the warship. In a bid to de-escalate the situation, China withdrew two law enforcement vessels, and only left a surveillance ship there on April 24. However, a similar response did not come from the Philippine side, which called for help from bigger powers, while asking for more ships and planes to be deployed in the area. ^ top ^

Chinese navy vessel concludes friendship visit to Malaysia (Xinhua)
Chinese Navy training vessel "Zhenghe" left Malaysia on Thursday after a five-day visit to the country. The People's Liberation Army (PLA)'s ocean-going training ship, named after the Chinese great navigator, left Port Klang, Malaysia 's largest port 40 km from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, at 10 a.m. local time. During the stay in Malaysia, the Chinese Navy officers and sailors held a series of activities with Malaysian government officials and military personnel, as well as local people. They also visited historical and cultural relic in the city of Malacca, where Zhenghe's fleet visited several times in early 15th century. More than 10,000 people visited the vessel during its stay in Malaysia. Malaysia is the second leg of the vessel's global goodwill voyage covering more than 30,000 nautical miles, aiming at promoting friendship and exchanges. It is scheduled to visit ports in more than 10 countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Italy, Spain, Canada, Ecuador, Indonesia and Brunei. It will visit India after Malaysia. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Crackdown after dissident flees (SCMP)
The fate of supporters and relatives of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng remained uncertain after his dramatic escape from house arrest last week. [...] The fate of Chen Guangcheng's wife and two young children remain unknown, say fellow activists, who fear the family might be subjected to torture by local officials angered by Chen's escape. Another activist, Hu Jia, who met Chen at a secret location in Beijing last week, was taken away by police on Saturday afternoon but was released yesterday after 24 hours. Hu confirmed his release via a text message last night but could not be reached for comment. He told Cable TV that police questioned him over how Chen fled from his village and who helped him. [...] Hu and US rights group China Aid said they believed the blind activist was sheltering at the US embassy. However, officials at the embassy declined to comment yesterday. [...] Over the weekend, two supporters of Chen who helped pick him up from his heavily-guarded residence in Linyi and drove him to safety in Beijing remained missing after they reported being trailed by police. Fellow activists said they believed He Peirong and Guo Yushan remained in police custody. He Peirong said earlier that she picked Chen up and drove him to a "safe place". She could not be reached after she told China Aid on Friday morning that police were knocking on the door of her home in Nanjing city. Guo told a reporter on Friday that he was under police surveillance and that he was likely to be detained. The mobile phones of both He and Guo remained switched off yesterday. Local police have already issued an arrest warrant for Chen's nephew, Chen Kegui, according to the Yinnan county government website, after he attacked government officials who broke into their home the night after Chen Guangcheng fled. China Aid earlier said Chen Kegui and his father, Chen Guangfu - who is Chen Guangcheng's brother - were taken into custody. The father and son's cellphones went unanswered yesterday. [...]. ^ top ^

Jia Qinglin calls for socialist core values among non-communists (Xinhua)
Senior leader Jia Qinglin on Saturday called on China's non-communist political parties to better learn and implement socialist core values. Jia, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remark in a written comment to a meeting concerning the progress of a program for encouraging non-communist parties to learn and implement socialist core values. Jia, also chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said that after two years of the program, non-communist parties have made achievements and accumulated experience in learning and implementing the values, calling for the program to continue. He also urged non-communist parties to summarize their experience and promote a consensus with the CPC. The leaders of China's eight non-communist political parties stated at the meeting that they agree with Jia, adding they will promote the success of the program. ^ top ^

Rumors about Bo Xilai incident ungrounded (China Daily)
Wiretaps, political struggles and so-called "exclusive tip-offs" regarding the Bo Xilai incident have been reported by some foreign media in recent days. However, people who know a little bit about China's actual conditions may find these reports quite absurd. Generally speaking, the tip-offs in the foreign reports have something in common. They lack exact sources of information, make groundless speculations and feature critical remarks about China's political situation. In fact, those reports made by some foreign media have been circulated long ago on some websites sponsored by the evil cult that the people despise. Isn't it a startling anecdote in international press history that rumors from cult-run websites appear in traditional media? The truth is, as the Chinese authorities said on April 10, that the evidence uncovered so far in the investigation of the death of British national Neil Heywood indicates that he died of homicide. Bogu Kailai, wife of former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai, and Zhang Xiaojun, an orderly at Bo's home, are suspects in the case. Both have been transferred to judicial authorities over suspected intentional murder. [...] The incidents are being handled under law and Party discipline. With no proper sources and a lack of knowledge regarding China's actual conditions, some foreign media bodies have failed to respect the facts and ignored their social responsibility by making groundless comments and misleading the public. [...] For one thing, most of them are still trying to turn a profit. Many media organizations have suffered from the global economic downturn and the impact of the Internet. Consequently, some media organizations have turned to gimmicks to attract readers and maximize their profits. China has become a common target for speculation, as demand for news about China has risen in foreign countries in recent years. For another thing, foreign media bodies often lack a basic understanding of China's actual conditions. [...] Their opinion of the current situation remains tied to Cold War-era beliefs, with preoccupations, biases and hostility toward China. Therefore, they have interpreted China's decision on the Bo Xilai incident as a political struggle, when in fact, the country has made the decision in line with the rule of law and Party discipline. There are some in the West who are uneasy about China's development. They may wish to slander or destabilize China, hoping to see the country collapse as the former Soviet Union did instead of watching it become a democratic, modernized socialist nation. [...] China's clear targets for development, major policies and socialist system with Chinese characteristics allow all of its people to unite as one and make it impossible to destabilize the country through individual acts, let alone rumors from foreign media. ^ top ^

Police beefing up hospital security vigilance (China Daily)
Police are stepping up their vigilance for people who disrupt the daily operation of hospitals because such acts violate the Security Management and Punishment Law, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Public Security said in a joint announcement on Tuesday. The statement is part of an effort to better maintain order in hospitals and other medical institutions following a series of violent attacks on medical workers in recent months. [...] Anyone who carries illegal flammable materials, explosives or other items controlled by the government into hospitals, or who insults or threatens medical workers will be held legally accountable, according to the announcement. People who burn offerings like incense, set up funeral tables and wreaths for patients who died in the hospital and place their bodies outside the morgue for mourning will also be punished, the announcement said. "Such behaviors, if constituting crimes, will be called to account by the Criminal Law," it said. The announcement didn't come easy, said Ling Feng, neurosurgery director of Xuanwu Hospital affiliated with Capital Medical University, also a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee. She had proposed measures to beef up hospital security for five years in a row. [...] According to Ling, after the annual session of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference this year, the two ministries organized at least two meetings soliciting opinions and ideas from mainly clinical doctors and hospital directors about the announcement. [...] According to a report by Xinhua on April 24, some 53 police stations were set up at 50 hospitals in Beijing to help maintain order and respond to emergencies as quickly as possible after two local doctors were stabbed in two separate cases. [...] The announcement also requires hospitals to set up a window to handle complaints from patients, and to put up instructions for filing complaints and the addresses and phone numbers of medical dispute mediation organizations. It also requires patients and their families to solve their problems according to law and certain procedures if any dispute occurs between them and the hospital. [...]. ^ top ^

Fake capsule crackdown expanded (Global Times)
China's food and drug safety watchdog has launched a nationwide comprehensive investigation into edible gelatin, capsule and medicine producers and listed another 10 types of capsule drugs that contain excessive levels of chromium. Starting yesterday, producers of pharmaceutical gelatin, capsules and capsule drugs should strictly examine each batch of raw materials in every category before production, the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) said in a statement on its website Friday. The watchdog listed 10 types of capsule drugs produced by nine pharmaceutical companies on its website and imposed an immediate product recall. All self-examinations and recalls must be finished before May 31. The Ministry of Health issued a statement Monday requiring all medical institutions to stop using the capsule drugs on the SFDA's list, and report related data on these medicines to local health and drug supervision departments. Local drug safety supervision departments have initiated investigations into three enterprises under the Tonghua Pharmaceutical Group, and may transfer their cases to security authorities if they are suspected of committing crimes. The China Product Quality Association gave the country's capsule industry a CCC rating on Sunday, indicating the lack of credibility and bad reputation in the sector. A total of 18 edible gelatin producers were investigated after China Central Television reported half a month earlier that commonly prescribed drugs had been packed into capsules made with industrial gelatin, and 13 batches of nine company's products were found to contain excessive chromium. The SFDA also examined 117 capsule producers nationwide, and 74 batches of products from 15 capsule makers were found to contain excessive amounts of chromium. [...]. ^ top ^

China demands US apology in Chen case (Global Times)
China Wednesday demanded an apology from the US for taking a Chinese citizen "via abnormal means" into its embassy in Beijing, stressing that the country respects human rights and citizens should voice their appeals in a lawful manner. "It should be pointed out that Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese citizen, was taken by the US side to the US embassy in Beijing via abnormal means, and the Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with the move," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said. According to him, Chen, a native of Yi'nan county, Shandong Province, entered the US embassy in late April and left "of his own volition" Wednesday after staying there for six days. "What the US side has done has interfered in China's domestic affairs. The US embassy in Beijing has the obligation to observe relevant international laws and Chinese laws, and it should not do anything irrelevant to its function," Liu said. "China noted that the US has expressed the importance it attaches to China's demands and concerns and has promised to take necessary measures to avoid similar events," Liu added. AFP cited an unnamed senior US official as saying Wednesday, "This was an extraordinary case involving exceptional circumstances, and we do not anticipate that it will be repeated." Escorted by US Ambassador to China Gary Locke, Chen was taken to Beijing Chaoyang Hospital Wednesday afternoon. In a press statement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Chen has a number of understandings with the Chinese government about his future, including the opportunity to pursue higher education in a safe environment. "Chinese officials further stated that they will investigate reported extralegal activities of local authorities against Chen and his family," Reuters quoted another senior US official as saying. Analysts noted that people in China agree that human rights should be protected and advocated, and human rights issues can be solved in the country without foreign interference or politicization that only complicate matters. [...] Chen was arrested in 2006 and later sentenced to four years in prison on charges of damaging property and disturbing traffic. He had tried to help reveal to the press the alleged violent practices of local family planning officers. In 2007, Chen won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, dubbed as the Asian Nobel Peace Prize. Since then foreign human rights groups or foundations started to pay more attention to him, and Chen has been often mentioned by Western politicians. The family planning policies, which Chen was fiercely against, have generally been relaxed since its peak years. [...] Qu Xing, head of the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that Chen's case is an isolated one. "Public policies are not made to satisfy everyone. Chen holds some different opinions toward certain government policies, but this will not cause him any problem as long as he obeys the law and expresses his demands lawfully," Qu said. ^ top ^

Web in a flurry as Chen steps out (SCMP)
Despite a blitz by censors to limit online discussion about blind activist Chen Guangcheng - who left the safety of the US embassy yesterday afternoon and plans to stay on the mainland - internet users who have followed his dramatic escape from police custody have commented however possible. Many comments expressed admiration for Chen and his decision to remain on the mainland, where he plans to attend university, while others were contemptuous of the government placing blame on the US and demanded an apology. They also speculated that Chen, who left the embassy and met with his family at a hospital in the company of US ambassador Gary Locke suggested the two countries had reached some sort of accord. Qiu Xuyu, a lawyer and a verified Sina microblog user, wrote: "I strongly support the US embassy 'interfering' in China's internal affairs this time, and I hope this kind of interference is done more often. "Every inch of China should be free, and it is humiliating to all Chinese people that Chen had to escape to the US embassy [for shelter]." [...] Sina's microblog site was among those heavily targeted by censors, who were quick to pull down most mentions of the story. Some mild criticism and neutral discussions were left untouched, but many commenters were careful not to mention the activist by name. A Sina search for "Chen" returned no results "based on relevant laws and regulations". Many tech-savvy internet users also took to overseas social media sites such as Twitter to discuss Chen. Lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said on Twitter that it was ridiculous for the Chinese government to lash out at the US for protecting Chen. [...] Some web surfers joked that the safest place on the mainland was the US embassy, and they suggested it would make a good petition office for Chinese who feel they have been wronged by government officials. [...] Lawyer Yang Xuelin wrote on Sina weibo: "Is it the much-vaunted 'rule of law' when a blind person, as a free citizen, is put under house arrest ... and made to suffer physical abuse?" Although many internet users supported Chen's decision to stay, saying he would be more politically influential, some, such as rights activist Wang Lihong, said they could not help but worry about him and his family. "Chen did everything he could for this country, and his fate is connected to every one of us," Wang said on Twitter. ^ top ^

China approves 5-year plan for social security development (Xinhua)
China approved a five-year plan to speed up the establishment of a social security network that covers both urban and rural citizens by 2015, the State Council, China's Cabinet, said Wednesday. The government will strive to build a basically complete social security system and a relatively sound management service system by the end of its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), according to a statement released after a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao. The statement said the country's social security development is unbalanced, as its state in rural areas obviously lags behind, and the coverage rate of some basic social security systems is still low. It said the government will advance system construction, which includes extending its old-age pension scheme to cover all residents, improving insurance systems for healthcare, employment injury, unemployment and maternity, as well as adopting measures to cope with an aging population. The government will work to integrate social security mechanisms and management resources in urban and rural areas, in order to allow regional transfer of social insurance, it was promised. Efforts will also be made to expand the coverage and increase the benefits of the social security system, promote construction of the social assistance system, and strengthen management of and supervision over the social security network. [...]. ^ top ^

Lewd microblogs that 'perverted social morals' shut down by SIIO (Global Times)
Chinese authorities shut down 535 microblog accounts over the past week due to the alleged dissemination of pornographic and lewd content, the State Internet Information Office (SIIO) said Wednesday. Some individuals were found to have used their microblog accounts to distribute video clips, pictures, text and links related to topics such as "one night stand," "flirtatious self-shots and candid images" and "teen prostitution," according to a statement from the office Wednesday. "These acts violated the law and have had a bad influence on the public in terms of perverting social morals and disrupting order on the Internet," the statement said. [...] The SIIO said public security authorities have begun criminal investigations into some of the accounts' owners. Officials at the SIIO were quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying that nine central government agencies started the campaign in March to crack down on misdemeanors including the spreading of lewd information via mobile phones and the Internet in an effort to create a better online environment for young people. ^ top ^

Chen wants out - U.S. and China in renewed talks (SCMP)
Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng says Beijing has reneged on promises to safeguard his family and wants to leave China - a dramatic U-turn that has prompted renewed talks between US and Chinese diplomats. A US official said the assistant secretary of state, Kurt Campbell, had been in touch with the Chinese side about Chen's case yesterday. On the phone with the South China Morning Post from his Beijing hospital room yesterday, Chen explained his change of heart - just hours after he left the US embassy in the capital following a six-day stay. He said he was disappointed with the agreement, which was hastily reached to provide necessary safety assurances for Chen and his family on the eve of high-level bilateral talks and was initially seen as a victory for both sides to avoid an escalation of the stand-off. "I feel there are no safeguards for my citizen's rights nor my safety," Chen said. "Now I just want to get medical treatment and rest, I haven't thought of other things." Chen only found out after he left the embassy from his wife that she had been badly treated by local officials since his escape. [...] The Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Chen's request to leave with his family and repeated its criticism of the "unacceptable" way the US had handled the issue. In Beijing, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said US officials had spoken twice yesterday to Chen and also with his wife and "they as a family have had a change of heart about whether they want to stay in China". "We need to consult with them further to get a better sense of what they want to do and consider their options," Nuland said. Accompanied by senior US diplomats, including ambassador Gary Locke, Chen, a 40-year-old activist, left the embassy on Wednesday afternoon to go to a Beijing hospital for injuries suffered when he escaped house arrest in his hometown in Shandong, and for a reunion with his wife and two children. [...] "The Chinese side said I'm free and I'm a lawful citizen, I abided by the agreement and walked out of the embassy. I have so many friends, but I can't see them. My family situation is terrible, my mobile [phone] is disrupted," he said. "These things shouldn't happen, and [yet] they happened on the first night straight after the agreement was reached." He also complained US officials were barred from seeing him in hospital. Chen said that what his wife, Yuan Weijing, had told him about what happened to his family when he fled into the US embassy was unacceptable, especially after Beijing had promised to improve the situation. [...] US officials appeared to have been caught off guard by Chen's sudden change of mind and scrambled to set the record straight and to deflect criticism about its pursuit of a stronger partnership with the authoritarian government in Beijing. [...] Clinton, who co-chaired the opening of annual bilateral talks in Beijing yesterday, urged China to protect human rights, but did not mention Chen. She spoke to Chen by phone when he was on his way to the hospital on Wednesday. [...] "We believe all governments have to answer our citizens' aspirations for dignity and the rule of law and that no nation can or should deny those rights." [...]. ^ top ^

Campaign targets journalistic malpractice (Xinhua)
Chinese authorities have announced a three-month special campaign against journalists involved in blackmail or demanding pay-offs in news reporting. The crackdown from May 15 will target so-called news reporting and blackmail journalism activities by fake press entities or journalists, and kickback-oriented practices by accredited media organizations and people. According to a statement Xinhua received Thursday from the General Administration of Press and Publication, the administration and another two central agencies have jointly issued a circular about the campaign. It demanded media groups fire staff involved in such malpractice and crack down on reporting based on kick-backs and the carrying of advertisements in the form of news reports. Those who are suspected of being involved in crimes will be transferred to judicial departments. ^ top ^

Chinese passports to get chipped (Xinhua)
China will start to issue a new type of passport, which contains an electronic chip recording the holder's personal information, according to a Ministry of Public Security announcement on Thursday. The new passports will look similar to traditional ones but an electronic chip will be inserted inside containing elements including the holder's name, date of birth, photo and finger prints, said a statement from the ministry. Under preparation for three years, the new passports will be available from May 15. Their introduction will help improve the safety of Chinese passports and effectively prevent counterfeiting, the ministry hopes. More rigid anti-counterfeiting technologies, such as special printing ink, laser signs, holographic film and digital signatures, have been applied. The country also worked to ensure the safety of digital information contained in the passport chips. Strict protection measures will be imposed on the reading of this data, especially finger prints, the statement said. Finger print data can only be extracted through decoding devices used by China's border control authorities and police, according to the ministry. The annual number of passports issued by China has increased sharply from 1 million in the 1990s to 10 million now, with an annual average growth of 20 percent. As more than 90 countries have adopted such digital passports, China has felt the need to follow the trend and expects new technologies to play a constructive role in maintaining state security and facilitating citizens' travel abroad, the ministry said. The procedure of applying for new passports remains the same, except that, for an applicant aged 16 or over, finger prints and a signature are required. [...]. ^ top ^



Small budgets leave big mark at Beijing Film Festival (Xinhua)
In the midst of a film industry inundated by big-budget sequels, smaller movies have been attracting audiences with fresh and subtle storytelling techniques. [...] The festival opened with a showing of "A Separation," a low-budget Iranian film that has won acclaim from both Chinese and international audiences. [...] Chinese domestic low-budget films have also enjoyed success in recent years. Since its release last November, "Love Is Not Blind," which tells the story of a woman struggling out of the shadow of a break up, saw domestic box office revenue top 100 million yuan (15.88 million U.S. dollars) in just four days. [...] Analysts say the development of the low-budget film sector contributes to the well-being of the film industry as a whole, as it encourages filmmakers to work on storylines instead of blindly chasing dazzling special effects. [...] Meanwhile, Zhen said the success of low-budget films proves that creativity is central to filmmaking, and filmmakers should explore different subjects and search for new elements in order to make their movies unique and original. [...] Experts have also said that the increasing popularity of low-budget films could also lower the industry's threshold, allowing more talent and creativity to flow into the sector. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing subway handles 8.39 m passengers (China Daily)
Beijing's subway lines posted a record daily passenger trips of 8.39 million on Saturday, according to the Beijing MTR Corporation. The Labor Day holiday encouraged many people to take public transportation, with all of the subway's lines breaking passenger records on Saturday, the company said. Subway lines one and two recorded 1.6 million and 1.5 million passenger rides, respectively, on Saturday. Beijing currently has 15 subway lines in operation. The total length in operation is 372 kilometers. According to plan, number of lines will reach 19 by 2015 with a combined length of 561 kilometers. By 2020, the total subway length is expected to increase to 1,000 kilometers. ^ top ^

Xicheng ramps up 24-hour surveillance system (Global Times)
Beijing police have installed a network of 3,000 security cameras on streets in Xicheng district, as part of a major crackdown on street crime in the capital, the Global Times confirmed with Xicheng police authorities yesterday. According to the Xicheng district branch of the Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB), the newly installed cameras will be monitored continuously by 20 police officers. An official from Xicheng PSB, who requested anonymity, said yesterday that the monitoring center is in the duty command center, with five large screens displaying real-time videos [...]. The cameras will also enable police to respond rapidly to accidents or follow suspects more easily. Xicheng district aims to reduce street crime, such as theft, robbery and swindling, by 11 percent this year. The rise of street crime in the capital in recent years is the main reason for the increase in surveillance. A recent surge in the number of street robberies, especially in the CBD, has worried Beijing residents, some of whom posted their experiences on the Internet to call attention from the police. The public have voiced concerns over safety in city, particularly at subway stations. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing's limit on car licenses to stay (China Daily)
Beijing will limit car usage based on license plates a long-term policy in order to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads and address air pollution, the government said. In 2011, the capital began to limit car usage through a system based on license plate numbers that keeps one-fifth of potential vehicles from being used downtown on weekdays. According to an announcement released by the municipal government of Beijing on Tuesday, the city has set a target of a year-on-year decrease of 2 percent in the density of major pollutants this year. [...] Beijing announced a package of measures to tackle worsening traffic congestion at the end of 2010. The measures include sharp limits on new vehicle registrations, limiting car usage, increasing parking fees and improving public transportation. Only 174,000 new cars were registered last year, the slowest increase since 2000, said Liu. As of the end of March, the capital had 5.04 million vehicles, compared with 4.81 million at the end of 2010. Thanks to those measures, the average Traffic Performance Index in downtown Beijing has dropped from 2010's 6.1 to 4.8 last year, he said. The index gauges traffic congestion. [...] The public transportation system handled 42 percent of the daily transport volume in Beijing at the end of last year. The proportion of private car use experienced its first decline, standing at 33 percent, a 1.2 percentage point decrease from 2010's figure, said Liu. ^ top ^



Anti-smoking law could get tougher (China Daily)
People who light up in non-smoking areas in Guangzhou may soon be slapped with a fine without warning. The current law in the Guangdong provincial capital requires enforcement officers to provide a warning before fining someone 50 yuan ($8) for smoking in indoor workplaces and other public areas. So far this year, officers in the city have received more than 1,200 complaints about smoking in public places, with 84 percent occurring in restaurants and entertainment venues such as nightclubs and karaoke bars. But only one smoker has been fined so far this year, according to enforcement officials. Guangzhou People's Congress is now seeking public opinions for a draft amendment that would drop the requirement for a warning before a fine. The public can visit the legislature's website to see the full text of the draft and e-mail, fax or write to the legislature to air their opinions before May 15. After hearing from the public, the legislature will update the draft and put it to a vote at next month's legislative session. [...] According to statistics from the Guangzhou Tobacco Control Association, Guangzhou is estimated to have more than 2 million smokers, representing 18 percent of the city's population. That figure has been on the rise in recent years. ^ top ^



News broadcast in Kirgiz language in Xinjiang (Xinhua)
Television news in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is now broadcast in four different languages, after a program in Kirgiz, a language of the local Kirgiz ethnic group, began to air on Wednesday. Kirgiz-language news content lines up alongside Chinese, Uygur and Kazak, local authorities said. "Xinwen Lianbo," a 30-minute daily news show produced by China Central Television, and a similar local news program of Xinjiang, are available from May 2 in Kirgiz from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. everyday, said Wumarjan Mohamed, deputy chief of Xinjiang TV. "Many Kirgiz people could not understand the TV news due to language barriers, so I think the Kirgiz programs will keep them posted of the latest news," said Nurgul, a resident of Kizilsu Kirgiz autonomous prefecture. [...] Xinjiang TV began to produce Kirgiz programs in 2004, but most programs available in the language were dramas. The national census in 2000 showed there are 160,000 Kirgiz people, and most of them reside in Kizilsu Kirgiz autonomous prefecture in western Xinjiang. ^ top ^



HK to start national education in primary, secondary schools (Xinhua)
Moral and national education will be taught in Hong Kong's primary and secondary schools from 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years and schools will have a three-year initiation period, the city's Education Bureau announced Monday. Secretary for the governmental department Michael Suen accepted Monday the recommendations made by the Curriculum Development Council on the refined Curriculum Guide for the Moral & National Education subject in primary and secondary schools. It will give students a more systematic, holistic and sustainable learning experience catering to their developmental needs and cultivate their moral and national qualities through a value-based curriculum. [...]. ^ top ^

US envoy sees progress towards full suffrage (SCMP)
Washington's lead envoy to Hong Kong spoke yesterday of his "respect" for chief-executive-elect Leung Chun-ying, praising his successful campaign as a potential step towards universal suffrage by 2017. In his first public remarks since Leung's victory in March, US consul general Stephen Young said he looked forward to the broad and inclusive public debate about Hong Kong's political future that was on show during the campaign "further expanding" during Leung's term. "I have gotten to know Mr Leung and have a lot of respect for him," Young said after his annual address to the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. "I have to say he ran a pretty good campaign. He was out there well before the selection process began last year talking about public issues ... [And] you had a lot of aspects that were important building blocks towards universal suffrage in 2017 and 2020. "Hong Kong people are ready for progress," he added, noting that there had been extensive public appearances by candidates, debates and polls. Hong Kong is due to elect the next chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017 and the Legislative Council in 2020, but nomination procedures and other details have yet to be finalised. [...] The veteran diplomat, previously posted in Taiwan and the former Soviet Union, has been repeatedly attacked in Beijing-mouthpiece newspapers for trying to influence Hong Kong affairs through the consulate's long-standing political contacts. [...] He said he believed that the "one country, two systems" concept remained a "very effective instrument" as it served both Beijing's and Hong Kong's interests. [...]. ^ top ^



Political reforms likely in Macau (SCMP)
Macau is likely to go ahead with political reforms as a public consultation has found most residents supportive of the proposed legislative and election changes, the administration says. It released results of the consultation just nine days after the exercise ended and only a day after hundreds of young people rallied against the plan and alleged media censorship. One youth group accused the government of manipulating the findings. The government said in its report: "During the consultation, the society has discussed more deeply the principles of the forming of the Legislative Council and the reform proposals. A wide consensus has been reached. "Apart from pushing forward Macau's constitutional development, the city's security, prosperity [...] and stability are also ensured." The public exercise took views on the election processes for the Legislative Council next year and the chief executive in 2014. It proposes expanding the chief-executive election committee from 300 to 400 people, and adding four new seats in the 29-member council with two directly elected and two indirectly elected seats. The body now has 12 directly elected, 10 indirectly elected and seven appointed lawmakers. Indirectly elected seats are similar to functional constituencies in Hong Kong. [...] Young people and journalists alleged the government made the media portray the public as having reached a consensus on the reforms and arranged organisations to submit views. Scott Chiang Meng-hin, vice-president of Youth Dynamics, said: "It's clear the results were manipulated by the government, especially when it could process more than 100,000 documents in a few working days." The group plans to protest in the next few days. [...]. ^ top ^



White House considers selling new fighters to Taiwan (SCMP)
The administration of US President Barack Obama is raising the possibility of selling new jet fighters to Taiwan to help redress the island's air-power deficit with the mainland. If the move goes through, it would infuriate Beijing, which claims the island as its territory and regards all foreign military sales there as interference in its affairs. The mainland has 2,300 operational combat aircraft, against only 490 for Taiwan. In September, the US turned down a Taiwanese request for 66 relatively advanced F-16 jet fighters, while agreeing to help Taiwan upgrade its existing F-16 fleet. Critics accused the White House of yielding to pressure from Beijing. [...] The possible change in US policy was indicated in a letter on Friday from White House director of legislative affairs Rob Nabors to Republican Senator John Cornyn. The letter said that a newly appointed assistant secretary of defence for Asia and Pacific affairs would consider the matter of selling new US warplanes to Taiwan. [...] Taiwan's Defence Ministry welcomed Nabors' letter. "We welcome and express our gratitude for any acts that may help elevate and strengthen our defence capabilities," the ministry said in a statement. Any sale of new US combat aircraft to Taiwan would infuriate Beijing, which sees the Taiwan arms issue as the biggest irritant in relations with Washington. [...]. ^ top ^

Taiwan rules out anti-air missiles on disputed islets (SCMP)
Taiwan ruled out redeploying short-range surface-to-air Chaparral and Stinger missiles to defend its sovereignty on some of the islands it controls in the South China Sea. Citing escalating tensions in the region, Taiwanese Deputy Defence Minister Chao Shih-chang said yesterday that it would be inappropriate in the current politically sensitive environment to place the missiles on Pratas and Taiping - the largest of the heatedly contested Spratly Islands. "Redeploying short-range anti-air missiles in Pratas and Taiping islet could ignite political dispute," he told lawmakers during a legislative session. "It could affect regular patrols by our relevant agencies as well as our delivery of air and sea supplies." He also said Taiwanese coastguard troops currently stationed on Taiping were not capable of maintaining the short-range missiles, as high humidity and sea air could easily rust the weapons without proper care. Instead, the defence ministry would equip Taiping with older high-powered cannons - 40mm self-propelled anti-aircraft guns and 120mm mortar systems. Taiwan stationed marines and missiles on Taiping before 2000, but replaced them with the coastguard that year in a bid to reduce tensions in the region. The Taiping islet is currently manned by about 120 coastguard personnel, who have received training similar to that of the marines. Taiwan's military has come under mounting pressure by legislators to put more weaponry on the Pratas and Taiping islands in order to defend Taipei's sovereignty in the disputed South China Sea, as neighbouring countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines stepped up action to uphold their claims. [...] Lin Yu-fang, a ruling Kuomintang legislator who chairs the legislature's defence committee, led a three-person delegation on Monday to Taiping in a symbolic action to uphold Taiwan's sovereignty claim. After returning, they demanded that the military boost defence capabilities on Taiping. [...] The defence ministry said on Wednesday that it had formed an airborne unit capable of rapid response and providing maritime support. ^ top ^



China's petrochemical sector growth slows further in Q1 (Xinhua)
China's petrochemical industry expanded at much slower pace in the first quarter amid the economic slowdown, according to data released by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on Monday. Petrochemical industrial production rose 16 percent annually to reach 2.4567 trillion yuan (391.3 billion U.S. dollars) in the first quarter, decelerating further from 22.1 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, according to NDRC. From January to March, the petrochemical sector processed 114.91 million tonnes of crude oil, up 3.1 percent year-on-year, while refined oil products added 5.5 percent annually to reach 69.15 million tonnes, according to NDRC. Investment of the petrochemical sector, however, kept rapid growth during the first quarter, with the combined investment amounting to 202.4 billion yuan, up 33.5 percent year-on-year. ^ top ^

China boosts imports with tariff cuts, financial stimuli (Xinhua)
The Chinese government on Monday called for more attention to increasing imports while stabilizing exports in order to promote more balanced and sustainable growth in foreign trade. In a clear signal to encourage imports, the State Council, China's Cabinet, said in a guideline posted on its website that China will stabilize its imports of commodities and actively increase the imports of advanced technology and equipment, key components and parts, as well as resources and raw materials. Imports of consumer goods will also be increased "appropriately," according to the 18-clause guideline. Increased imports and the balanced development of foreign trade will ease domestic pressures for the resources and environmental sectors, accelerate scientific and technological innovation, improve people's consumption and reduce trade frictions, said the guideline. "[Such moves] are of great strategic importance," it said. [...] According to the guideline, China will encourage imports from the least-developed countries within multi-lateral trade rules with faster tariff cuts, and it will expand imports from developing countries. China will lower import tariffs for some resources and raw materials with provisional tax rates and "appropriately" bring down import tariffs for some goods that are closely linked with people's daily life, the guideline said, without giving further details. The adjustment in duties on some advanced technology and equipment and key components will be done at an appropriate time, it said, adding that China will continue to implement duty-free treatment policies for imports from those least-developed countries and widen the duty-free treatment for more goods. Chinese enterprises are encouraged to widen imports with trading partners that have already signed free-trade pacts with China, according to the guideline. The government will also allocate more funds to support increasing imports and offer interest discounts to products under the state's encouraged lists. The guideline also vowed to offer diversified financial stimuli such as credit support, financing facilitation, commercial insurance and cross-border trade settlement in Renminbi, or the yuan, to increase imports. [...]. ^ top ^

China opens compulsory traffic accident insurance to foreign firms (Xinhua)
Foreign insurance companies will be able to undertake the business of China's compulsory traffic accident liability insurance as of Tuesday, according to an amended regulation released Monday. The State Council, China's Cabinet, has unveiled a decision to amend the Regulation on Compulsory Traffic Accident Liability Insurance for Motor Vehicles, which takes effect on Tuesday. Under the previous regulation, "Chinese-funded insurance companies can undertake the compulsory traffic accident liability insurance business after approved by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission." The amended version deleted the word "China-funded," indicating that all insurance companies will be allowed to undertake the compulsory insurance upon approval. Analysts say that the green light will be beneficial for foreign insurers and increase their share in China's insurance market. [...]. ^ top ^

China urges innovation in strategic emerging industries (Xinhua)
The year 2015 will see two times more patent and international patent filings in strategic emerging industries in China than 2010, if the government's newly publicized aims are met. According to a document posted Wednesday on the central government's website, the State Council said relevant departments and local governments should fully understand the importance of strategic emerging industries and work to increase the nation's production of patents in these sectors. The government has pinpointed seven industries, including energy saving and environmental protection, new generation of information technology, biology, high-end equipment manufacturing, new energy, new materials and new-energy vehicles, as priorities. The document said that, by 2020, the nation's emerging industries of strategic importance should be effectively supported by intellectual property and enjoy significant advantages in this respect. ^ top ^

Country diversifies oil sources (China Daily)
European and US tensions with Iran will not affect China's crude oil supplies in the short term as China diversifies its oil sources and expands its oil reserves to offset its declining purchases of Iranian oil. The most likely sources of replacement oil are countries such as Saudi Arabia, Angola and Russia, Han Wenke, director of the Energy Research Center of the National Development and Reform Commission, told China Daily. "China's strategy to diversify its crude oil supplies in recent years has proved effective in the current situation," said Han. China, which uses more oil than any other country besides the United States, slashed its imports of Iranian crude by more than 50 percent in March year-on-year to 254,000 barrels a day because of commercial disputes, marking the biggest reduction this year. Saudi Arabia, the top supplier of crude to China, exported 3.95 million tons of crude oil to the country in March. China, the top buyer of Iranian crude oil, which makes up more than 20 percent of the Middle East country's exports of crude oil, reduced its oil imports from Iran by 5 percent in January year-on-year and 45 percent in February year-on-year, according to figures from China's customs administration. The reductions were the result of a delay in contract negotiations with China International United Petroleum & Chemicals Co, according to analysts. [...] In a ranking of countries that export the most crude to China, Iran has fallen to the eighth place, going from third place in 2011, when the holders of the first two positions were Saudi Arabia and Angola. The change was the result of China importing more crude last month from Russia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Russia, which exported 2.31 million tons of crude to China in March, replacing Iran as the country's third biggest supplier, recently moved forward in its long-stalled negotiations over a plan to deliver 68 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year to China through pipelines. That progress came during a visit by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang to the country last week. Analysts expect stronger energy cooperation with Russia will help slake China's thirst for energy and mitigate possible disruptions in the Iranian supply of the resource. [...] He also said China's strategic oil inventory will provide relief from supply cuts from Iran, as will big petroleum companies' increasing capacity to hold reserves. China has completed the first phase of a plan to have the capacity to stockpile an amount of crude oil equal to more than 30 days of its net imports of the resource. [...]. ^ top ^

China blames U.S. export controls for trade imbalance (Xinhua)
Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said Thursday that the current trade imbalance between China and the United States has mainly been caused by U.S. restrictions on over 2,400 items exported to China. He said it will be difficult for the two countries to achieve balanced trade if the U.S. continues to maintain control over such a large variety of exported goods. The minister made the remarks while addressing journalists at a press briefing held during the ongoing fourth round of China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), which kicked off Thursday in Beijing. Chen urged the U.S. to stick to its pledges and take timely action in relaxing its export controls. "Currently, the fact is that the U.S. has not only failed to relax export restrictions, but has instead tightened them in some areas," Chen said. "For instance, the U.S. is now mulling loosening controls on exports of commercial satellites, but it has also stressed that the controls will not be eased for China," Chen said. He added that a failure to remove export controls for China will be harmful to the U.S. companies and employment, as well as the U.S. plan to speed up exports. [...] Chen said China's foreign trade is now basically balanced, indicating that the exchange rate issue is already having a limited impact on the country's foreign trade. [...]. ^ top ^

CIC, partners launch Europe-China growth fund (Xinhua)
China Investment Corporation (CIC), the country's sovereign wealth fund, announced Thursday it has launched a joint growth fund with the Belgian Federal Holding and Investment Company and private equity firm A CAPITAL to invest into European groups to boost their growth in China. The new fund is targeting solidly performing European midcaps with revenues over 100 million euros and strong growth potential in China, according to a joint statement released by the three companies. The fund will primarily invest in leading European brands, technologies and distribution channels and invite Chinese private and state-owned strategic co-investors, according to the statement. The first round of fundraising closed during an official signature ceremony attended by Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang and Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo held at the Palais d'Egmont in Brussels. [...] CIC and its partners did not disclose the size of the new fund in the statement, but earlier media reports said the fund initially plans to invest between 30 million and 50 million euros (39 million U.S. dollars and 65 million U.S. dollars), and target investing 250 million euros in total. ^ top ^

China's non-manufacturing sector slows in April (Xinhua)
China's non-manufacturing sector continued to expand in April, although at a slower pace, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) said Thursday. The non-manufacturing sector's Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a key economic indicator, fell 1.9 percentage points from March to 56.1 percent, according to a CFLP statement. A PMI reading above 50 percent indicates expansion from the previous month, while readings below 50 percent indicate contraction. Taking seasonal factors into account, the index had increased for two consecutive months before retreating in April. The April figure remains relatively high and shows that the non-manufacturing economy has maintained steady growth, said Cai Jin, vice chairman of the CFLP. "All industries saw balanced development and stable expansion overall," said Cai. "The non-manufacturing sector will continue to pick up steadily as investment and holiday consumption increase." The release came two days after the CFLP announced that China's PMI for the manufacturing sector rose for the fifth consecutive month in April to 53.3 percent, although at a much slower growth rate compared to March. China's gross domestic product expanded 8.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, the slowest growth in nearly three years, over flagging exports and a softening property sector. All major sub-indices under the non-manufacturing PMI dipped in April except those for inventories and new export orders, the CFLP said. The sub-index for new orders in the real estate industry remained below 50 percent in April, although the industry's business activity index reached its highest level since September 2009, Cai said. The situation will help subdue housing prices, as supply is expected to outpace demand, he added. [...] China's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, expanded 3.6 percent year-on-year in March after logging a 3.2-percent growth rate in February, the lowest in 20 months. [...]. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

DPRK leader guides combined military exercise (Xinhua)
Top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un recently observed a combined military exercise marking the 80th anniversary of the Korean People's Army (KPA), the official news agency KCNA said Saturday. The report, without specifying the date of the exercise, said Kim, also the supreme commander of the KPA, guided the military maneuver and expressed satisfaction with the success of the exercise. Kim also called on all the officers and service personnel to "mercilessly wipe out the enemies with the arms of justice and revenge if they dare provoke." The exercise involved aircraft, tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and infantry from combined unit 655, said the report. The 80th anniversary of the KPA was celebrated on Wednesday with a national meeting, during which DPRK officials issued a stern warning to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, saying anyone who provokes or hurts the DPRK's dignity would be undoubtedly defeated. ^ top ^

Tourist train goes into service between Chinese city and DPRK (Xinhua)
A tourist train in northeast China's Jilin province went into service on Saturday, offering trips between the city of Tumen and Chilbo Mountain in the neighboring Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). A total of 65 Chinese tourists took the train into the DPRK for its first trip and will spend three days and four nights in the country, said Zhao Renjie, deputy director of the Tumen Municipal Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Tourism. [...] The group will visit Mount Chilbo and the city of Chongjin in Hamgyong, and hot spring spas in Kyongsong County during their stay, Zhao said. The train, which will make one trip between the cities each week, went into service as part of Jilin's efforts to promote cultural exchanges with the DPRK. The province launched a one-day walking tour of Namyang in May 2008. China decided to grant approved outbound destination status to the DPRK in September 2008. The first Chinese group tour to the DPRK took place on April 12, 2010. ^ top ^

UN adds three DPRK companies on sanctions list (Xinhua)
The UN Security Council has decided to impose sanctions on three companies of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) following its failed rocket launch last month, Susan Rice, the U.S. permanent representative to the UN, announced here Wednesday. "This morning, the 1718 committee, the North Korean Sanctions Committee, has reached an agreement on a new set of sanctions as a consequence of their missile launch a few weeks ago," Rice told reporters outside the chamber of the UN Security Council. "These new sanctions include the designation of, and the freezing of assets of three very significant North Korean entities, very much involved in their illicit missile and nuclear programs," said the U.S. diplomat. The sanctions, which were initially adopted in 2006, were originally to enforce a series of restrictions on the DPRK in the economic and nuclear testing areas. According to Rice, the newly revised set of sanctions "includes the updating of the missile technology control regime list, and the nuclear suppliers group list, which we viewed as very important to tightening and keeping current the important regime against North Korea, and it also entails a new work plan for the panel of experts." Rice expressed a positive outlook toward the new set of sanctions, saying "we view this as a strong and credible set of sanctions by the 1718 Committee and we're pleased with that result as well." [...] On April 12, the DPRK launched a satellite, allegedly using ballistic technology banned by the UN Security Council resolutions, disregarding the calls from international leaders to cease all efforts to do so. ^ top ^

DPRK to continue launching satellites: KCNA (Xinhua)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Thursday that no one could prevent it from exploring outer space and more satellites would be launched. Space technology has become a symbol of a country's prosperity and the DPRK's endeavor to conquer space aims to develop the economy and defend its sovereignty, said an article carried by the official KCNA news agency. "It is an inviolable independent right for a sovereign state to develop the outer space for peaceful purposes," the article said, adding that "no one can block the DPRK in its grand drive for conquering space." The DPRK launched a Kwangmyongsong-3 observation satellite on April 13 to mark the 100th birthday of late DPRK founder Kim Il Sung. The long-range rocket crashed into the sea after traveling a short distance and the DPRK confirmed the failure later in the day. On April 16, the UN Security Council issued a presidential statement, condemning the launch and demanded that Pyongyang fully comply with relevant resolutions and suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program. The Security Council also said it would take further action in the case of a fresh launch or nuclear test. ^ top ^



Mongolia's opposition blames incumbent president for being behind arrest of predecessor (Xinhua)
Ulan Bator - Mongolia's opposition coalition Tuesday blamed the country's incumbent president Tsakhia Elbegdorj for orchestrating the arrest of former president Nambar Enkhbayar. The coalition of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) and the Mongolian National Democratic Party said in a statement that the Mongolian court system, which should have been independent from politics, is effectively controlled by Elbegdorj, and the country's independent anti-corruption agency has been under his direct control. On April 13, Enkhbayar, also chairman of the MPRP, was arrested by Mongolia's special police agents upon the instruction of the anti-corruption agency. The agency accused Enkhbayar of being involved in an illegal privatization deal of a hotel and publishing house and of using TV equipment donated by the Japanese Buddhist Organization to a Mongolian Buddhist organization to form his own TV station. The opposition said: "The authorities have blocked every attempt of Enkhbayar, the opposition leader, politician and patriotic fighter, to defend himself." The opposition said that Elbegdorj effectively controlled the court and law enforcement agencies and therefore orchestrated the arrest of Enkhbayar. The arrest of Enkhbayar continuously shocked Mongolia's political system. On Monday, four lawmakers of the ruling Mongolian People's Party decided to quit after their demand to dismiss Interior Minister Tsend Nyamdorj was rejected by the party. The lawmakers blamed Nyamdorj for being responsible for masterminding the arrest and rough handling of Enkhbayar. However, Nyamdorj has repeatedly claimed he was not aware of the planned arrest. Enkhbayar is currently in jail in Tuv province of Mongolia after a district court of Ulan Bator last week decided to extend the arrest of the MPRP chairman for two more months until June 27, just one day before the June 28 parliamentary and local elections. Enkhbayar's supporters claimed that the arrest was motivated by political purposes and aimed to stop him from running for the parliamentary elections. ^ top ^

China to deepen health cooperation with Mongolia: minister (Xinhua)
Ulan Bator - China's Health Ministry will deepen bilateral cooperation with its Mongolian counterpart to benefit both countries, Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu said here Wednesday. The China-Mongolia relationship currently is in a good development period and bilateral exchanges in health sphere are increasingly expanding, Chen said when meeting Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold at Mongolia's State Palace. Within the framework of the newly signed bilateral health cooperation program, China would like to work with Mongolia to further promote bilateral pragmatic health cooperation and further benefit the two countries and peoples, Chen said. Batbold highly valued the health cooperation program reached between Mongolia and China, hoping the two health ministries could continuously deepen cooperation in health sphere. Earlier, Chen met Health Minister N. Khurelbaatar to discuss bilateral health cooperation. The two sides agreed to strengthen their cooperation in health system construction, hospital management and the establishment of border-region infectious disease control mechanism. After the meeting, the two ministers signed the Health Cooperation Plan from 2012 to 2016 between the two ministries. [...]. ^ 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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