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
  22-28.9.2012, No. 442  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

China, Fiji ink three pacts, vow closer relations (Xinhua)
China and Fiji signed three agreements on economic cooperation here Friday, pledging to boost bilateral ties to a new height. Visiting China's top legislator Wu Bangguo and Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama attended the signing ceremony after their one-hour long talks in Nandi, Fiji. The three agreements include one on economic and technological cooperation, a framework agreement on government-level concessional loan, and an agreement on concessional loan for a road upgrading project. [...] The two sides should further deepen pragmatic cooperation and strengthen cooperation on major projects in the fields like infrastructure in a bid to push forward overall trade cooperation between the two countries, said Wu during his talks with Bainimarama. [...] Wu spoke highly of China-Fiji relations, saying China has always regarded Fiji as a good friend and partner in the Pacific island region, and is willing to work with Fiji to lift bilateral ties to a higher level. "The vigorous development of China-Fiji not only brought about tangible benefits to the two peoples, but also made positive contribution to stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region," Wu said. Wu suggested the two countries further increase political trust, adding that China appreciates Fiji's adherence to the one-China policy and its support on issues related to China's core interests and major concern. [...] Wu also called for the two countries to carry out people-to- people exchanges and hold close multilateral cooperation. China will support the Pacific island nations including Fiji for their reasonable appeals on such issues as sustainable development, energy security and ocean resources, said Wu. [...] On climate change, Wu said Chinese government fully understands the concerns of the island nations like Fiji, hoping the developing nations to keep united, uphold the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" and urge the developed countries to fulfill their due obligations. China will continue to echo and support the reasonable claims by the developing countries including Fiji, and help push for the rich countries to implement their pledged fast-start fund at an early date, said Wu. Meanwhile, Wu called for the two countries to enhance cooperation on energy-saving and environmental protection and jointly improve the ability deal with and adjust to the climate change. [...]. ^ top ^

Xi says China hopes China-Philippines ties back on track (Xinhua)
China's Vice President Xi Jinping said Friday that he hopes bilateral relations between China and the Philippines could come back to the right track. "China-Philippines relations have encountered some difficulties. However, through effective communications between the two sides, the tensions have been eased," Xi told the Philippine Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, a special envoy of the Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III. "I hope the situation would not reverse backwards and bilateral relations could come back to the track of normal development," Xi said when meeting Roxas on the sidelines of the ninth China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. [...] "President Aquino showcases how he values China-Philippines relations by sending you as a special envoy to attend the CAEXPO and convey the message of developing bilateral ties," Xi told Roxas. [...] Speaking highly of the role played by the CAEXPO to foster ties between China and the ASEAN, Roxas said the Philippines sincerely wants to establish a friendly, close and normal relationship with China. [...]. ^ top ^

China surveillance ships enter waters near Diaoyus (SCMP)
Two Chinese marine surveillance ships entered what Japan considers its territorial waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea on Monday, the Japanese coastguard said, a move bound to raise tension between Asia's two largest economies. The Xinhua news agency confirmed that two civilian surveillance ships were undertaking a “rights defence” patrol in waters near the disputed islands, citing the State Oceanic Administration, which controls the ships. [...] The ship patrols were intended to exercise China's “administrative jurisdiction” over the islands, it said. [...] The Japanese coastguard ordered the Chinese ships to move out of the area, but received no response, a coastguard official said. Besides the two marine surveillance ships, there were nine Chinese fishery patrol ships near the islands as of 7am, but they were outside what Japan calls its territorial waters, the coastguard said. [...]. ^ top ^

China to promote drones for marine surveillance (Xinhua)
China will promote the use of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to strengthen the nation's marine surveillance, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said on Sunday. The SOA verified and accepted a pilot program of using drones to undertake remote-sensing marine surveillance in Lianyungang, a costal city in eastern Jiangsu Province on Sunday. With the experience learned from the pilot program, the SOA would try to form a managerial system and technical regulations in a bid to set up UAV surveillance and monitoring bases in provinces along China's coastline by 2015, Yu Qingsong, a division chief of the administration said. In addition, the SOA would step up efforts to enhance its surveillance of the islands and islets including the Diaoyu Islands and Huangyan Island. [...]. ^ top ^

Top security official in Central Asia to sign cooperation agreements (Global Times)
Zhou Yongkang, China's top security official, arrived in Turkmenistan Sunday to help strengthen cooperation after reportedly signing agreements on security and economic cooperation with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. [...] Zhou, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, arrived in Ashgabat late Saturday night after his four-hour surprise visit to Afghanistan. In talks with the Afghan president, Zhou said terrorism, drug trafficking and international crimes have seriously threatened regional security, and China resolutely supports Afghan anti-terrorism efforts. China is willing to help Afghanistan in strengthening its security capabilities, and cooperate in fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism, especially the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, Zhou said. Zhou signed various agreements, including a deal to help "train, fund and equip Afghan police," Reuters reported. Under the agreements, around 300 Afghan police officers will be sent to China for training over the next four years, an Afghan foreign ministry official was quoted by the BBC as saying. [...] Afghanistan would like China to be involved in its reconstruction efforts and is expecting China to play a bigger role in the peaceful development of Afghanistan and the region, Karzai said during his meeting with Zhou. [...]. ^ top ^

China calls Diaoyus sacred territory in 'tense' Japan talks at UN (SCMP)
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba urged China to exercise restraint at what he called a tense hour-long meeting over the dispute, which triggered violent anti-Japanese protests in China this month and is threatening ties between Asia's two biggest economies, Japan's Kyodo news agency said. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi reiterated China's “solemn position on the issue of Diaoyu Islands, which have been China's sacred territory since ancient times”, Xinhua said. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a news conference in Tokyo the two sides had agreed to keep talking. [...] China's meetings with Japanese diplomats – at the United Nations and a day earlier in Beijing – suggest Beijing does not want the tensions over the island chain, believed to be in waters rich in natural gas deposits, to lead to a rupture in relations. But the unyielding tone of China's published remarks suggests that the row is far from over. Beijing has repeatedly called the islands its “sacred territory since ancient times”. “The Japanese move is a gross violation of China's territorial integrity and sovereignty, an outright denial of the outcomes of victory of the world anti-fascist war and a grave challenge to the post-war international order,” said Yang, according to the Xinhua summary of his comments. [...]. ^ top ^

China's first aircraft carrier handed over to PLA navy (SCMP)
China's first aircraft carrier was formally delivered to the PLA Navy and commissioned in Dalian, Liaoning, yesterday after seven years of refitting. The defence ministry said the carrier, named the Liaoning, would "raise the overall operational strength of the Chinese navy", but analysts said its role would be largely limited to training, at least in the near future. As yet it has no aircraft. State media have been silent on which fleet the carrier will be assigned to, and analysts said it might not be assigned to any fleet at all to avoid association with territorial disputes in the East China and South China seas. In a ceremony attended by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, the Liaoning was officially handed over by the navy's main contractor - China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation - at a naval base in Dalian, the Ministry of National Defence said on its website. But Vice-President Xi Jinping, China's leader-in-waiting and a vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), was apparently absent. Hu, CMC chairman and Communist Party general secretary, handed a military flag and naming certificates to the carrier's commander, Senior Captain Zhang Zheng, and his unit, while Wen read a congratulatory telegram jointly issued by the party's central committee, the State Council and the CMC. "The delivery and commissioning of the first carrier is a milestone in the PLA's history and embodies a major achievement in China's weaponry and equipment development, as well as its national defence modernisation," Wen said. [...] There has been speculation the Liaoning may serve in the East China Sea Fleet because of escalating tensions between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan calls the Senkakus. But Senior Captain Li Jie of the People's Liberation Army Navy's Military Academy, said there was no direct connection. "We don't need to use the Liaoning to solve the Diaoyus dispute because carrier development is a long-term strategic plan, not something for short-term purposes," Li said. The carrier would be directly managed by the navy's headquarters. [...]. ^ top ^

Mainland ready to help Taiwanese fishing near Diaoyu Islands (Xinhua)
A Chinese mainland spokesperson said Wednesday that public service vessels from the mainland will be ready to offer help to both mainland and Taiwanese fishermen operating in waters around the Diaoyu Islands. Fishermen from the mainland and Taiwan have the right to fish in the waters around the Diaoyu Islands, Fan Liqing, spokeswoman of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a press briefing. Public service vessels from the mainland have conducted patrols in the waters and will continue to do so in order to enforce relevant laws, protect legal fishing activities and safeguard China's sovereignty, she said when asked if the mainland would protect Taiwanese fishermen near the islands. [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese FM meets diplomats on sidelines of UN General Assembly (Xinhua)
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met here Tuesday with his counterparts from Germany, Equatorial Guinea and Sri Lanka on the sidelines of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly. In a meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Yang said China regards Germany as an important strategic partner. "China is willing to work with Germany to implement important agreements reached by the leaders of the two countries, enhance communication and coordination, deepen cooperation of mutual benefit and improve the strategic partnership which envisions the future," he said. Westerwelle said Germany attaches great importance to China's role and position in international affairs and the UN. He added that his country will strengthen communications and cooperation with China. [...] China is willing to make joint efforts with Equatorial Guinea to implement the follow-up actions of the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and raise the level of bilateral relations. [...] In a meeting with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris, Yang said that China and Sri Lanka are traditional friendly neighbors. China, he said, is willing to work with Sri Lanka to seize the opportunities to expand cooperation in all areas and bring the comprehensive cooperative partnership between the two countries to a higher level. [...]. ^ top ^

DM defends China's South China Sea drones (Xinhua)
A Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said on Thursday that the country's use of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, over Huangyan Island, the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters is "justified and legal," and warned that China opposes any military provocation in the South China Sea. Yang Yujun made the remarks at a monthly press briefing in response to comments by a Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman that Chinese drones may be shot at if they enter the above-mentioned airspace. China has indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan Island, the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, Yang responded. "Therefore, Chinese aircraft' flying in the airspace in question is justified and legal," he said. [...]. ^ top ^

China, DPRK hold investment meeting in Beijing (Xinhua)
China and the DPRK want to attract more companies to two special economic zones in the DPRK. Leaders from the two countries held a joint meeting in Beijing on Wednesday to address the issue. As Chang Dili reports, the word is the development plan has entered into what's beind described as "substantial" phase. More than 160 companies, including many private and foreign companies, are showing great interest in the two free trade areas, the Rason Economic and Trade Zone and the Hwanggumphyong and Wihwa Islands Economic Zone. The Ministry of Commerce, provincial governments and management committees in both economic zones gave a comprehensive introduction to local laws, climate and geographic conditions, and resources. Chinese officials expressed a lot of confidence for development. Chen Zhou, Department of Asian Affairs, Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said, "The two areas have rich resources and healthy market conditions. The opening up of both economic zones have provided great chances to not only China's state owned companies, but also to its private ones and foreign companies to develop business in such economic zones." The Hwanggumphyong and Wihwado Zone will focus on sectors including information and tourism. Organizers say the goal is to "gradually become an intelligence-intensive emerging economic zone of the DPRK." The Rason zone will focus on areas including raw materials, equipment manufacturing, high-tech, and high-efficiency agriculture. [...]. ^ top ^

China dismisses reports about second aircraft carrier (Xinhua)
Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun on Thursday dismissed foreign media reports that said China is building a second aircraft carrier in Shanghai and that it will be launched late this year. "Such reports are inaccurate," Yang said at a regular news briefing. Yang said China will plan the development of aircraft carriers in an all-round way, taking its national economic and social development and the needs of national defense and military construction into account. [...] When asked to confirm reports that the Chinese navy will create an aircraft carrier formation in the future and build an aircraft carrier base in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, Yang said "the formation is generally made up of the aircraft carrier itself, escort vessels, submarines and aircraft. China will study the issue in accordance with the development and real needs of the aircraft carrier." [...] Responding to doubts about the self-innovation in the development of the aircraft carrier, Yang said Chinese military's weaponry building has always adhered to the principle of independent innovation, relying on the country's own capacity for research and development. The main system of Liaoning is the result of independent building and modification. The carrier borne aircraft is also developed by ourselves based on domestically built planes, for which we have independent intellectual property rights and is pushing forward with relevant procedures as scheduled, he said. [...]. ^ top ^

Low-key reception to mark China-Japan diplomatic anniversary (SCMP)
A fraying of ties over the Diaoyus cast a shadow over a function in Beijing yesterday where Politburo Standing Committee member Jia Qinglin met former Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono and other "friends of China" to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Jia, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, reiterated that the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkakus in Japan, were China's inherent territory, and blamed the Japanese government for ruining the atmosphere of the anniversary by buying three of the islands earlier this month. He said this had severely damaged Sino-Japanese relations to "an unprecedented, tightening level". Subsequently, a ceremony to mark the anniversary was scaled back to a reception for a small group of Japanese guests. Kono, famous for his pro-China stance in Japan, was quoted by Xinhua as saying that he felt "deeply sorry" over the deteriorating relationship between the two countries. [...] Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang criticised Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for saying Japan would not compromise on ownership of the uninhabited islands. Qin said Japan was deceiving itself by disregarding historical facts and international laws. [...] Ministry of National Defence spokesman Yang Yujun said the Chinese military would work closely with maritime surveillance authorities to conduct escort missions in waters near the islands. He did not deny earlier reports that Chinese frigates were in waters close to the isles. "It's absolutely legal for Chinese frigates to patrol or train in China's waters," he said. [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese FM calls for earliest new round of Iranian nuclear talks (Xinhua)
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Thursday called for a new round of talks on the Iranian nuclear issue as soon as possible, urging all parties to be dedicated to achieving progress. Yang made the remarks when foreign ministers of the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany met here on the subject on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly. The Iranian nuclear talks have gained hard-won positive momentum, and there is still room for diplomacy in this regard, Yang emphasized in the meeting. The six countries should intensify their diplomatic efforts, maintain and promote talks, stabilize the situation, and gradually seek a comprehensive, long-term and proper resolution, he said. [...] Yang and his counterparts exchanged views on the status quo of the Iranian nuclear issue and the next step forward, and stressed that they would continue to maintain and promote dialogue with Iran and to be committed to settling the issue through negotiation. The six chief diplomats said they are looking forward to holding a new round of talks with Iran soon, and will push for substantial progress. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

"Grinning" Chinese official sacked over violation of discipline (Xinhua)
A work safety official who was photographed smiling at the scene of a fatal bus crash that occurred in northwest China's Shaanxi Province late last month has been removed from his post over a serious violation of discipline, local authorities said Friday. Yang Dacai was dismissed from his position as member of the Shaanxi Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC), as well as head and Party chief of the provincial work safety administration, according to the provincial discipline watchdog. The commission said a further investigation of Yang is under way. Yang first came into the spotlight after he was photographed wearing a broad smile while surveying a collision between a bus and a methanol tanker that left 36 people dead on Aug. 26. His inopportune expression was seen as unsympathetic and aroused wide public indignation, although he explained that he was "unprepared" at the time the photo was taken and smiled at the site in an attempt to comfort his colleagues. Yang then found himself targeted by netizens looking to rake the muck, with photos surfacing of Yang wearing 11 luxury wristwatches [...]. ^ top ^

Ex-cop Wang Lijun sentenced to 15 years, no plan to appeal (SCMP)
Former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun – who exposed China's worst political scandal in a decade – was sentenced to 15 years on Monday morning at a court in Chengdu. [...] Wang was sentenced to seven years for bending the law for selfish ends, two years for attempted defection, two years of abuse of power and nine years for receiving bribes. Wang has no plan to appeal, CCTV reported. Analysts have expected Wang, who was widely seen as playing a decisive role in the plotting and cover-up of the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood that led to Bo's dramatic downfall, to get a lenient sentence. [...] The court in southwest Chengdu was under tight security on Monday and police sealed off the nearby area to keep onlookers and journalists away. With Gu already jailed, and Wang set to join her, the ruling Communist Party must next decide what to do with Bo, whose contentious downfall has dogged a leadership handover due to take place at a party congress as early as next month. [...] The Chinese government has not said what will happen to Bo, who in March was sacked as party boss and in April suspended from the ruling Communist Party's Politburo, a powerful decision-making council with two dozen active members. So far, Bo has only been accused of breaching internal party discipline. But experts say the public citing of Bo's angry rebuke of Wang has raised the likelihood that he too will face criminal charges, probably after the party congress. Before then, party leaders could first expel Bo from the party and hand him over for criminal investigation. [...]. ^ top ^

Anti-Japan protestors surrender in Shenzhen (SCMP)
Five anti-Japan demonstrators who turned violent at a protest in Shenzhen surrendered to police, state media said on Monday as China began to question whether protests over disputed islands went too far. The five men gave themselves up after police launched a social media campaign targeting demonstrators who damaged property in the city, Xinhua said, with 350 calls received by Sunday night. [...] There was huge public sympathy for 51-year-old Li Jianli, a Chinese citizen said by domestic media to have been left partially paralysed after being brutally attacked by a mob for driving a Japanese-made car. The attack in the northern city of Xian, in Shaanxi province, was heavily discussed on China's popular Sina Weibo microblogging site – the country's version of Twitter – where it was ‘re-tweeted' more than 100,000 times and received almost 60,000 comments by Monday morning. [...]. ^ top ^

China penalizes unsafe coal mines (Xinhua)
China's work safety watchdog on Monday unveiled several lists of penalties for unsafe coal mines, including mines that should be shut down or have production suspended for safety checks. The State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) decided to shut down eight coal mines around the country, including a mine in the city of Liaoyang, Liaoning Province, where a gas blast in March left 22 people dead, according to a statement on its website. Local authorities should carry out itinerant inspections on coal mines that have been ordered to shut down to avoid their reopening, the administration said. The SAWS has also decided to suspend production in 374 coal mines in violation of relevant laws and regulations in order to conduct safety overhauls, according to the statement. The statement also revealed a list of 88 coal mines that should pay penalties of more than 500,000 yuan (78,850 U.S. dollars) and a list of 13 coal mine chiefs whose safety certificates were revoked. ^ top ^

40 injured after Foxconn plant clashes (China Daily)
Some 40 people were injured after clashes broke out at a Foxconn Technology Group plant dormitory in the northern city of Taiyuan late Sunday, police said. Workers at the factory, which employs about 79,000 people, told China Daily that the clashes erupted after the plant's security staff beat up a worker. The company, which is a major Apple supplier and that has recently been shrouded in controversy over its working conditions, said that the incidents were not work related. On Monday, workers said that the factory did not resume production that day, and that they did not know when they would work again. Three workers were in serious condition after the incidents, while most of the other workers were only slightly injured, according to the initial investigation from the public security bureau of Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province. [...] Taiyuan's public security bureau said that the incident involved 2,000 workers and attracted more than 10,000 local people, who went to the facilities to watch the fighting, and that it triggered chaos in the area surrounding the plant. About 5,000 police officers were sent to the scene, and had the incident under control at 9 am on Monday. "According to the police, a number of individuals were arrested," Foxconn spokesman Louis Woo said on Monday. [...] Debris such as broken windows and destroyed cars could be seen around the plant after the clashes. [...] Ji Feng, secretary-general of the Citygate Industrial Relations Forum, a nonprofit organization based in Shenzhen, said the frequent reports of unrest or suicides at Foxconn also show the "uneasiness of the new generation of migrant workers". [...] Ji believed that Foxconn has caught the public's attention mainly because it is an Apple supplier. "In fact, working conditions in many medium and small factories are much worse," Ji said. [...]. ^ top ^

Officials post income online (China Daily)
Fourteen county officials up for promotion in Zhejiang province have declared their incomes and personal assets to the public online. The candidates' financial information was published on the Pan'an county government website this week, along with a hotline for residents to report false information. Hu Yuxian, who is in line to become the head of a township, has an annual income of 62,123 yuan ($9,860) from her job as secretary of the county's Communist Youth League committee, according to the website. She reported having two housing estates — one measuring 143.95 square meters bought by her family and another measuring 304.17 square meters, which she inherited. The purpose of publicly releasing the information is "to ensure that newly promoted officials do not have any problems regarding properties", said an official who answered the hotline on Wednesday. The official, who said he was discipline inspection director for the county's organization committee but would only give his surname, Yang, because he wanted to remain low key, confirmed that the authority had so far received no calls about erroneous statements by the 14 officials. If any false information is discovered, the candidate will lose the chance of promotion and will be punished, Yang added. [...] Some officials still decline to disclose the information, claiming it infringes on their privacy, Yang said. [...]. ^ top ^

Sinopec closes three petroleum plants after pollution exposed on state TV (SCMP)
Petrochemical giant Sinopec has suspended production at three subsidiaries in Guangdong after a state television exposé showed the company being scolded in an internal meeting over severe environmental pollution breaches. In rare coverage by state television, CCTV broadcast footage yesterday showing inspectors from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Guangdong's provincial environmental protection bureau berating the company for repeated regulatory violations. Zhou Quan, director of the bureau's inspection office, pounded a table and shouted: "This is a blatant [violation]. And no one supervised [the companies] and asked them to correct [their wrongdoings] even though it was crystal clear that their pollution emissions were beyond national standards. "Even so, [the companies] are still bullying local governments all the time, claiming [their operation] is important for the national economy and people's livelihood. Then what about the livelihood of local people?" CCTV reported that Zhanjiang Dongxing Refinery, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed China Petroleum & Chemical - Sinopec - dumped toxic sewage in rainwater drains without proper treatment. The plant was also found to have resumed operation without approval after being ordered to shut down in May for failing to relocate residents. Another subsidiary, Sinopec Guangzhou Petrochemical, illegally stored a large amount of liquid in two tanks designed for emergency use only, posing high environmental risks.And Xinzhongmei Chemical Industrial, a joint venture in Zhanjiang partially controlled by Sinopec, tried to dilute its waste with tap water before dumping it. [...] Sinopec said it had ordered the three plants to suspend production and sent a team to investigate. "[We will] severely deal with those who are responsible and the subsidiary management according to the results of the investigation," the company said. [...] CCTV showed Zhang Zhimin, from the environment ministry, who headed the inspection team, asking: "Why, in their previous visits, did local environmental authorities fail to find out the problems and risks in the three plants?". ^ top ^

Ai Weiwei will carry on fight if he loses appeal on tax fine (SCMP)
Dissident artist Ai Weiwei says he will continue to battle the legal system if he loses a second appeal tomorrow against a huge tax evasion fine, a case that has badly tarnished China's human rights reputation. [...] Ai, who has waged a nearly five-month legal battle with a Beijing tax agency, said on Wednesday that he had little hope of winning the second appeal. "We will keep trying, we will not stop," said Ai, 55. "This price is large, but if I don't bear this, it will be a loss to society." Ai had asked the Chaoyang district court to overturn the city tax office's rejection of his appeal against the 15 million yuan tax evasion penalty imposed on the company he works for, Beijing Fake Cultural Development, which produces his art and designs. "My efforts are not just for the company, but it's also so that this matter will have a clear record," he said. "This record will tell us: a price must be paid for defending our rights. At the same time, we can tell the government that they can't treat people like this, because they pay a huge price too." Ai, whose 81-day detention last year sparked an international outcry, said the government had spent massive resources on his case, including deploying dozens of police to flank the road leading to the court during the hearing and appeal this year. [...] Ai said he believed the court's unusual decision to accept his appeal is because of the global interest in his case. Courts rarely accept lawsuits filed by dissidents and appeals against official decisions are routinely dismissed. ^ top ^

Forensic expert rejects cyanide explanation for Heywood's death (SCMP)
Wang Xuemei, a forensic medical expert with the Supreme People's Procuratorate, wrote on her blog on Wednesday that she questioned whether Heywood had been poisoned by cyanide, as announced after the trial of Gu Kailai, who was given a suspended death sentence in August for his murder. Gu is the wife of disgraced former Chongqing Communist Party boss Bo Xilai. Wang told the South China Morning Post yesterday that although she had no access to the evidence presented in court, she found the official statement on Heywood's death illogical based on years of forensic experience. The 56-year-old is deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Association of Forensic Medicine. "I feel very pained, upset and scared that our court believed the theory [Heywood] was poisoned with cyanide," she wrote, arguing that if Heywood had indeed been killed by cyanide, the forensic experts sent to the scene would have immediately noticed obvious symptoms such as discolouration of the corpse or an unusual bright red colour of heart blood samples, making it impossible for four subordinates of Wang Lijun, Chongqing's then police chief, to disguise it as death caused by excessive drinking. She argued that either the forensic experts had colluded with Wang's subordinates or Heywood had not been killed by cyanide. As no experts were charged with covering up, she was inclined to rule out the former. She also questioned why such symptoms were not mentioned in the trials of Gu or Wang. "In my professional view, that [conclusion of the cause of death] is very problematic," she said. Wang is famously outspoken, but it remains very rare for an expert to publicly challenge the government in such a sensitive case. Wang said she did not care. "Our profession deals with matters of life and death. Political sensitivity means nothing to me." In her blog, she suggested that Heywood could have been suffocated. The posting was deleted by censors within hours. ^ top ^



Beijing, Copenhagen sign MoU on cooperation in sustainable development (Xinhua)
The city authorities of Beijing and Copenhagen signed here Wednesday a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) strengthening collaboration on sustainable planning and construction, the first since the two capitals entered a twin-city partnership three months ago. Beijing Vice Mayor Chen Gang and Copenhagen Lord Mayor Frank Jensen inked the deal at a ceremony at Copenhagen Town Hall, which was also attended by delegations from both city's councils, and Chinese and Danish business representatives. [...] Under the MoU, the two cities will establish a working group on sustainability in planning and construction, with the group set to meet at least once a year to advance dialogue and cooperation and involve enterprises from both sides, the statement added. Practical benefits accruing to both cities from the partnership include developing sustainable urban heating and cooling infrastructure, and public transport systems. For instance, Copenhagen will launch in 2013 a pilot program testing Chinese-built, full-length electric buses in the Danish capital, to help reduce noise and air pollution in the city. Meanwhile, a Danish company has already carried out a restructuring of urban heating systems in Niujie community in Beijing, resulting in around 31 percent and 13 percent savings in electric power and heat consumption, respectively. [...]. ^ top ^



Guangzhou corruption probe snares two officials (SCMP)
The Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog in Guangzhou said yesterday it had wrapped up internal investigations into two high-profile corruption cases, amid a provincial-wide campaign targeting officials. The city's former deputy police chief, He Jing, and the former publisher of the official Guangzhou Daily, Dai Yuqing, have been handed over to prosecutors for alleged economic crimes, the city's Commission for Discipline Inspection said on its official microblog yesterday. Guangdong party chief Wang Yang is championing the anti-graft campaign, which has resulted in 132 officials being sacked since February, according to the Nanfang Daily. The allegations against He indicate that he accepted bribes, maintained long-term affairs with several women and held a large amount of wealth and property from unidentified sources since 2003. The crimes took place while he served as the chief of the Baiyun district Public Security Bureau and then as deputy chief of police in Guangzhou, China News Service reported, citing a press conference held one week ago by Guangzhou's Bureau of Corruption Prevention. Dai was accused of "severely violating party disciplines" by abusing power to promote subordinates and taking bribes when serving as publisher of the Guangzhou daily between 2006 and 2011. [...]. ^ top ^

Boom city Dongguan faces bankruptcy as village debts soar (SCMP)
After three decades of spectacular growth, Guangdong's boom town of Dongguan is on the brink of bankruptcy. Up to 60 per cent of its villages are running up deficits and will soon need a bailout from the township, researchers at Sun Yat-sen University have discovered. It is a dramatic turn of fortune for Dongguan - one of the richest cities in China - and could foreshadow a wider fiscal crisis as the country's economy cools. Local government debt hit 10.7 trillion yuan (HK$13.16 trillion) nationwide at the end of 2010, equivalent to about 27 per cent of gross domestic product. Credit rating service Moody's estimates the actual figure could be about 14.2 trillion yuan. [...] Experts have found Dongguan's village debt woes stem from two factors: a tightly-bound landlord economy, plunged into crisis by failing factories in the global downturn, and political pressure on local village chiefs to pay generous "dividends" to voters under the immature rural election system. [...] While competitive elections are still absent at almost all levels of government, Beijing has started to let villages choose their leader through universal suffrage. These elections have been getting increasingly competitive, and candidates often promise to pay generous "dividends" to villagers to attract votes. Lately, village chiefs have found it difficult to fulfil such election pledges. But instead of reneging on their promises and sparking the anger of villagers, they turn to the rural credit co-operatives - the de facto local banks - for short-term loans at interest rates as high as 30 percentage points. Banks are willing to lend, because they know that the township government would have to bail villages out if things go wrong. [...] The Dongguan government is in poor shape to handle a crisis. Its GDP growth slowed to 2.5 per cent in the first half of the year. The average growth in the past eight years was about 11 per cent. Xu Jianghua, Dongguan's party secretary, urged villages last month to stop raising money to pay dividends. Few took heed. [...]. ^ top ^



Tibet charting 44 rivers for water management (Xinhua)
Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region will compile a comprehensive set of data on each of its 44 rivers within two to three years for efficient water resource management, local authorities told Xinhua on Wednesday. The "basin-planning" project will cover the major waterways of the Yarlung Zangbo River, Jinsha River, Lancang River and Nujiang River, according to the regional water resources department. The total investment is expected to reach 160 million yuan (about 25.39 million U.S. dollars). Tibet has more water resources than any other Chinese province or region, with over 500 billion cubic meters and the country's highest per capita availability of water. [...] The project targets solving water resource management issues in the region, which has suffered uneven distribution of water resources as well as regional and seasonal water shortages in the past. In the 2011-2015 period, China plans to invest 11.61 billion yuan in Tibet's water conservancy facilities to control geological disasters, build small- and medium-sized hydropower stations and ensure drinking water safety. ^ top ^



HK journalists call on Beijing to curb mistreatment of city's reporters (SCMP)
The Hong Kong Journalists' Association has called on the central government's liaison office to curb cases of assault and intimidation by regional authorities on reporters from the city working on the mainland. The demand was laid out in a letter submitted by a dozen representatives of the local media to the liaison office's headquarters in Sheung Wan yesterday. Addressed to the office's director, Peng Qinghua, the letter described as "unreasonable" and "intolerable" the interference of local-level officials and security officers in the work of Hong Kong journalists on the mainland. Bruce Lui Ping-kuen, a visiting lecturer at Baptist University who spent years working as part of Cable TV's reporting team on the mainland, said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying also had an obligation to ask Beijing for assistance on the matter, given "his influential ties" there. Lui also said local authorities on the mainland had in recent years "stepped up" their interference with the work of Hong Kong journalists. "Our Whatsapp [a smartphone app] messages with intended interviewees were intercepted by police," Lui recalled. "When we arrived at the scene, teams of officers were already there." The protest came a week after South China Morning Post photographer Felix Wong Chi-keung was beaten by police when covering a large anti-Japanese protest in Shenzhen. Wong remained on sick leave yesterday. The assault followed the detention of two Ming Pao Daily reporters by Hunan authorities earlier this month when they travelled to interview relatives of the June 4 democracy activist Li Wangyang, whose death by hanging in June was explained as suicide by officials. [...]. ^ top ^

Carrie Lam gets support, but no advice, from Beijing (SCMP)
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is back from Beijing with words of support from national officials - but no tips on how to handle the recent political turmoil. Wrapping up her first official three-day duty visit to the capital since assuming her new post in July, Lam said mainland officials had expressed support for Leung Chun-ying's administration but gave no advice. "We didn't touch on such an issue," Lam said. "They just generally said they would continue to support the governance of the SAR government." Asked whether Beijing had affirmed the work of the city's government, she said: "What we have heard is strong support. [The support] is not only for this term of the government. Since the handover 15 years ago, all the bureaus and ministries have given full backing to various aspects of the work of the SAR government." On Monday, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director Wang Guangya told Lam at a closed-door meeting that he was aware that the government was facing difficulties. "He just encouraged us to keep up our work," Lam said when asked if Wang gave the administration any advice. [...] Lam said the administration had been adhering to advice given by President Hu Jintao during his visit to Hong Kong in July. Hu told the administration to act in accordance with the law, to remain united, to be attentive to the public's demands and to have long-term vision. [...]. ^ top ^

Parties tell Leung Chun-ying bigger minimum-wage rise needed (SCMP)
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is facing mounting pressure to raise the minimum wage level further, after the current HK$2-an-hour increase was blasted by both sides of the political camp. Leung must now decide whether to reconsider the figure before it is put to a vote in the Legislative Council. Beijing-loyalist and pan-democrat politicians alike said yesterday the HK$2-an-hour increase put forward was insufficient. [...] Labour-sector lawmakers-elect Tang Ka-piu and Kwok Wai-keung, of the Beijing-loyalist Federation of Trade Unions, want the figure raised to HK$33. [...] Pan-democrats, including Peter Cheung Kwok-che and the Labour Party's Lee Cheuk-yan, deemed a HK$2 increase of little help to workers. Cheung said the democrats would use "every means" to press Leung to raise it. "I hope the chief executive can … use his power to raise the level further before it is tabled in Legco. Otherwise it will be too late," Cheung said. In March this year, the Census and Statistics Department released its 2011 Annual Earnings and Hours Survey, which revealed 146,600 people currently make between HK$28 and HK$30 an hour. The property management, security and cleaning industries seems likely to be hardest hit, with 218,400 people in this field - 14.14 per cent - making HK$28 to HK$30 an hour. Another report by the Minimum Wage Commission, released after the minimum wage law took effect in May last year, showed the HK$30 level will impose extra operating costs of HK$640.2 million a month on this industry. [...]. ^ top ^

National education guidelines should be scrapped, says panel (SCMP)
A government-appointed panel set up to scrutinise national education has suggested "invalidating" the curriculum's guidelines. The recommendation marks a second setback for the programme, which triggered huge protests at the government headquarters earlier this month against what critics called an attempt to brainwash youngsters with lessons in patriotism. The Committee on the Implementation of Moral and National Education would advise the government to "invalidate" the curriculum guide, said chairwoman Anna Wu Hung-yuk yesterday. It would also recommend that schools be allowed to use a different name for the controversial subject to suit their own curriculum, which could contain religious or other social elements. "There is no need for an official set of guidelines," Wu said after a four-hour meeting. [...] Yesterday Wu used the term "invalidate" instead of "withdraw" in describing the approach to the curriculum. She skirted questions on whether the committee's decision was a political one bowing to public pressure. In the meantime, a committee member revealed that the decision was not unanimous among the panellists. Principal Leung Siu-tong, of HKFEW Wong Cho Bau School - among a handful of schools that have started teaching national education - said withdrawing the curriculum guide would put schools in a difficult position. "It will create a weird scenario for schools that are teaching it if there are no guidelines to follow," he said. The Professional Teachers' Union said the committee's suggestions meant "the ball is in the authorities' court" on whether to scrap the subject altogether. [...]. ^ top ^



Macao's unemployment rate stays at 2.0 pct (Xinhua)
Macao's unemployment rate for the period of June to August 2012 held stable as the previous period of May to July at 2.0 percent, according to the figures released Thursday by the city's Statistics and Census Service (DSEC). The number of the unemployed remained unchanged from the previous period at 7,000, with 21.9 percent being fresh labour force entrants searching for their first job, an increase of 7 percentage points caused by school graduates entering the labour market, the figures indicated. In comparison with the same period of the previous year, the labour force participation rate and unemployment rate both dropped by 0.7 percentage point respectively, and the underemployment rate also went down by 0.1 percentage point, according to the DSEC. The city's total labour force was 351,000 in the period, and the labour force participation rate stood at 72.3 percent, with total employment increasing by 2,400 over the previous period to 344,000. [...]. ^ top ^



Taiwan civilian ship enters Diaoyu Islands waters (Xinhua)
A civilian ship from Taiwan on Friday entered the waters around the Diaoyu Islands and left after being threatened by Japanese ships, Taiwanese media reported on Saturday. Named "Ta Han 711," the working platform ship was approached by Japanese Coast Guard ships from in front and behind when it entered the waters 22 nautical miles off the Diaoyu Islands, the media said. Japanese ships warned the Taiwanese ship in Chinese saying that it had entered Japanese territorial waters. However, the Taiwanese ship responded by saying, "Diaoyutai (Diaoyu Island) belongs to us. We are coming to recover territory, please don't disturb." Wong Chu, the first mate of the ship, said they intended to supply water and instant food to ships from the Chinese mainland in the waters around the Diaoyu Islands. After they failed to contact the mainland ships, they decided to go to the islands. Reports said the ship was threatened by four Japanese ships along with Japanese aircraft. Under the escort of Taiwanese coast guard ships, ships from the two sides did not collide nor did a stalemate develop. The ship returned to Keelung on Friday night after circling the Diaoyu Islands five or six times, according to the reports. [...]. ^ top ^

Taiwanese fishing vessels enter disputed waters near Diaoyu islands (SCMP)
Dozens of Taiwanese fishing boats entered waters near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea yesterday before leaving at about noon after Taiwanese coastguard vessels exchanged water cannon blasts with the Japanese coastguard. "We have made contact with the Taiwanese authorities, and told them that they cannot enter our territorial waters," Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Osamu Fujimura, said. "This is something that needs to be solved in the context of good bilateral ties between Japan and Taiwan." [...] The altercation, which was shown on Japan's NHK public television network, occurred after about eight Taiwanese patrol ships escorted dozens of fishing boats near Diaoyu Island, the largest of the disputed islands, called Uotsuri Island in Japan. [...] The footage showed Japanese vessels racing up alongside a Taiwanese fishing boat and spraying it with water, while Taiwanese coastguard ships sprayed water back at them. [...]. ^ top ^

Number of mainland tourists to Taiwan to hit record high (Xinhua)
Mainland tourists made 1.32 million trips to Taiwan from January to August this year, surpassing the number for the whole of last year, according to the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. Spokeswoman Fan Liqing said at a regular press conference that the number of mainland tourists traveling to the island is expected to surge during the upcoming National Day holiday, which begins on Oct. 1. As more tourists are heading to the island, Fan expressed concern over the safety of mainland tourists. A total of 30 tourists from the Chinese mainland were injured in a road accident in Taiwan's eastern Hualien county on Monday. Earlier this year,another two road accidents occurred in the same area, killing two mainland tourists. [...] The Chinese mainland is currently the largest source of tourists for Taiwan. Mainland tourists account for about 30 percent of the island's visitors.Taiwan is the third-largest source of tourists for the mainland, accounting for 6 percent of tourists received by the mainland. The total number of tourists traveling between both sides surged from 4.7 million in 2008 to 7.05 million last year, representing an annual growth rate of 14 percent, official statistics show. [...]. ^ top ^



Individuals to be taxed for oil consumption (China Daily)
China is expected to change its oil consumption tax coverage to individuals from companies, and to tax consumers at the gas station after a consumption tax reform, said a tax official at the 5th General Assembly of Chinese Corporations' Tax Management and Innovation on Thursday. The country will also adjust the scope of taxation, to increase the taxes for high energy consuming, highly polluting and resource-based products, said Cong Ming, an official from the State Administration of Taxation. "Tax cuts may include cosmetics and gold, which have already become mass consumer goods and are not luxury products," Cong said. It's necessary for the consumption tax to be collected explicitly instead of implicitly, he said. [...] The consumption tax has a macro-economic adjustment function, and is already the fourth-biggest tax, after the value-added tax, the income tax and the business tax. [...]. ^ top ^

Rich defy economic slowdown (China Daily)
Zong Qinghou, the 67-year-old founder and chairman of the drinks giant Wahaha Group, is China's wealthiest person, according to this year's annual China Rich List published by Hurun Report Inc, making him only the third person in 14 years to retain the crown. Owning 80 percent of Wahaha, China's largest and most profitable drinks business, Zong and his family's fortune has risen to 80 billion yuan ($12.6 billion), up from $10.7 billion last year, helped by the company's net profit of $1 billion last year. According to the latest list of China's super-rich, five of the top 10 come from the real estate sector. Wang Jianlin, 58, chairman and president of Dalian Wanda Group, saw his personal wealth soar 44 percent to $10.3 billion, giving him the second spot. [...] "China's rich have defied the global financial crisis with another record year of growth," said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun Report, who began publishing it in 1999. However, 469 of the top 1,000 saw their wealth decrease, and of those, 37 shrank by over 50 percent, at a time when the Shanghai Stock Exchange index fell by 19 percent compared with Aug 15 last year. The annual list shows 251 people were ranked as billionaires in China this year, down 20 from last year, but still a huge increase compared to as little as six years ago, when there were only 15. The average wealth of the top 1,000 is down by 9 percent to $860 million, but still almost double that of 2008 when it was $439 million. [...]. ^ top ^

China central bank to maintain prudent monetary policy (Xinhua)
China's central bank said Tuesday it will maintain the prudent monetary policy while fine-tuning it at an appropriate time to promote a stable and relatively fast growth. "We will continue to implement the prudent monetary policy, make it more targeted, flexible and forward-looking, while fine-tuning it according to the economic situation development," the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement after its third-quarter monetary policy meeting. "The current economic and financial operations show signs of stabilizing at a slower pace and the consumer price situation is basically stable," the statement said. It said the central bank will employ various monetary tools to guide credit supply to grow at a steady and moderate pace and maintain reasonable social financing scale. [...] PBOC pumped a record 290 billion yuan (45.74 billion U.S. dollars) into the money markets via reverse repurchase agreements Tuesday in an effort to ease a cash crunch towards the quarter end and the forthcoming Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday starting from Sept. 30. It will also steadily push forward market reform of the interest rates' formation system and improve the renminbi's exchange rate mechanism to strengthen its two-way flexibility, according to the statement. ^ top ^

China becomes Russia's top trade partner in first seven months of 2012: report (Xinhua)
China was Russia's top trade partner in the first seven months of 2012, with bilateral trade volume reaching 49.8 billion U.S. dollars, the Russian Federal Customs Service said on Tuesday. Bilateral trade between the two countries increased 10.9 percent year on year, the agency said in its regular report. Russia and China have set a goal of lifting bilateral trade to 100 billion dollars by 2015 and 200 billion by 2020. China was followed by the Netherlands, whose trade volume with Russia during the period increased 31.1 percent to 49.3 billion dollars, and Germany, also at 49.3 billion dollars, the agency said. [...]. ^ top ^

GDP may slow for 9th quarter (China Daily)
China's economic growth is likely to slow for its ninth consecutive quarter in the period from July to September, top policy advisers said on Tuesday. If their predictions prove true, the government may find itself taking "remarkable measures" to combat the slump, they said. Zheng Xinli, deputy head of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a government think tank, said China's economic data for August has turned out worse than expected and the economy's prospects remain gloomy. Amid those circumstances,the country's GDP is unlikely to grow at a faster pace in the fourth quarter. "The urgent need right now is to clarify what are the most effective ways to boost domestic demand," Zheng said. [...] In August, the year-on-year growth rate for industrial output decreased to 8.9 percent, down from 9.2 percent in July. The August number was the lowest in the past 39 months, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Meanwhile, the country used 37.87 million metric tons of oil in August, down 1.5 percent year-on-year. That was the lowest monthly amount since September 2011, according to the New York-based energy and metals information provider Platts. [...]. ^ top ^

Industry profits shrink for fifth straight month on mainland (SCMP)
Earnings at the mainland's industrial companies fell for the fifth consecutive month last month, reflecting the impact of weaker overseas demand and slowing domestic growth. Profits at companies surveyed with annual sales of at least 20 million yuan (HK$24.6 million) fell 6.2 per cent to 381.2 billion yuan from the same month a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said. For the year's first eight months, total profit of the firms, from 41 sectors, was 3.06 trillion yuan, 3.1 per cent lower than in the year-earlier period. The declines were led by the steel smelting and processing and petrochemicals industries, while power generation, food processing and vehicle manufacturing recorded increases in profit. [...] The data's release adds pressure on the central government to launch more measures to support slowing economic growth, which fell to 7.6 per cent in the second quarter, the lowest in three years. A survey commissioned by HSBC shows mainland manufacturing activity has shrunk this month for the 11th consecutive month. [...]. ^ top ^

China cuts customs fees to boost trade (SCMP)
The measures are part of the plans outlined by the State Council this month to support trade. Other new steps the cabinet has pledged to roll out include expanding tax rebates for exporters, cutting financing costs for companies and widening the coverage of export insurance. Starting Monday, all customs supervision fees would be removed, a statement posted yesterday on the Ministry of Finance website said. In addition, inspection and quarantine fees for goods shipped across the border and the vehicles carrying them would be suspended in the fourth quarter, the statement, issued jointly by the ministry, the customs bureau and other agencies, said. Stanley Lau Chin-ho, deputy chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, said: "We generally welcome the new measures, as they will help trading firms cut costs. But weak demand remains the biggest challenge." Mainland exports rose only 2.7 per cent last month, after surging 24.5 per cent in the same month a year earlier, as demand from the West cooled amid the European debt crisis. [...] Removal of the customs fees would save exporters and importers 3.5 billion yuan (HK$4.3 billion), the Securities Times said, citing estimates by an unnamed official at the ministry. [...]. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

IAEA resolution calls on DPRK to cooperate (Xinhua)
Member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution Friday, calling on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to "cooperate promptly" with the atomic agency. The text was adopted without a vote by the General Conference of 155-nation IAEA. The 4-day 56th IAEA General Conference that ended here on Friday "stresses its desire for a diplomatic resolution of the ( DPRK) nuclear issue so as to achieve the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," said the resolution. It "reaffirms that (DPRK) cannot have the status of a nuclear- weapon state" under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which entered into force in 1970 to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The DPRK withdrawn from the NPT in 2003, and suspended cooperation with IAEA. [...]. ^ top ^

DPRK denounces S. Korean navy's warning shots as military provocation (Xinhua)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has denounced the warning shots fired at its fishing boats by South Korean warships along their disputed western sea border as acts of provocation. A report from the official KCNA news agency said on Saturday that South Korea's actions were "nothing but an adventurous military provocation." KCNA also quoted the Southwest Front Command of the Korean People's Army (KPA) as saying that the command was ordered to stand ready to fight a "great war of national unification" if the south fires "even a bullet" into its territory. South Korea's Navy on Friday fired warning shots at six DPRK's fishing boats, which crossed a disputed western border called the Northern Limit Line (NLL), and retreated. [...] The South Korean Navy has reportedly raised the alert level along its western sea border in response. [...]. ^ top ^

DPRK parliament approves 12-year compulsory education (Xinhua)
The parliament of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Tuesday approved 12-year compulsory education, the official KCNA news agency reported. Choe Thae Bok, vice chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), reported on enforcing universal 12-year compulsory education at the sixth session of the 12th SPA. He stressed the need to strengthen education in computer technology and foreign languages, saying all schools should set up an information network with the education committee and other educational institutions across the country. The universal 12-year compulsory education shall be enforced free of charge for all children aged from 5 to 17. It will consist of one year of pre-school education, five years of primary schooling, three years of junior middle schooling, and three years of senior middle schooling, KCNA said. The six-year middle schooling shall be enforced from the 2013-2014 school year. The work for converting four-year primary schools to five years shall go through the preparatory phase in the 2014-2015 school year and be finished in 2-3 years, KCNA said. [...]. ^ top ^

Secretive and cash-starved North Korea quietly sells off gold: report (SCMP)
North Korea has been secretly selling gold to make up for shortages of hard currency after it spent millions of dollars on celebrating the 100th birthday of its founder, a news report said on Tuesday. The Chosun Ilbo daily quoted sources in China as saying that the impoverished communist state had cashed more than two tonnes of gold worth US$100 million in China over the past year. “North Korea has been exporting not only gold ingots it had obtained from mines or stored in government agencies but gold trinkets it had collected from ordinary people,” an ethnic Korean businessman told the daily. “North Korean trading companies in China have been cashing the gold in secrecy,” the source said. “For this purpose, North Koreans are compelled to sell gold trinkets to government authorities.” [...] North Korea has been starved of hard currency after economic exchanges with South Korea came to a halt following its alleged torpedoing of a South Korean warship with the loss of 46 lives in March 2010, Chosun Ilbo said. It was estimated to have spent millions of dollars on celebrating Kim Il-Sung's 100th birthday in April this year and launching a space rocket in a disguised test of a long-range missile. North Korea produces up to two tonnes of gold every year in mines, mostly in the northwestern provinces. [...]. ^ top ^

Images show North Korea launch pad halt (SCMP)
North Korea has stopped construction on a launch pad where intercontinental-range rockets could be tested, an interruption possibly due to heavy rains and that could stall completion up to two years, according to an analysis of new satellite imagery. Despite the setback, however, Pyongyang is also refurbishing for possible future use another existing pad at the same complex that has been used for past rocket launches, according to the analysis of August 29 images provided to reporters by 38 North, the website of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. [...] North Korea has repeatedly vowed to push ahead with its nuclear program in the face of what it calls US hostility that makes a “nuclear deterrence” necessary. Both the new launch pad where work has been suspended and the existing launch pad being refurbished are at the Tonghae launch complex, which houses nine facilities around the villages of Musudan, No-dong and Taepo-dong on the northeast coast, according to the report. [...] The new commercial satellite photos of Tonghae, taken by DigitalGlobe, also show halted construction at fuel and oxidizer buildings near the new pad, the analysis said. Those buildings are described as crucial to any future tests. The exact reason for the halt isn't clear, but the analysis says the rains this summer that killed dozens of people and submerged large amounts of farmland are one explanation. North Korea is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters because of its poor drainage, widespread deforestation and poor infrastructure. [...] ^ top ^



Ts. Elbegdorj meets with president of Switzerland (Montsame)
While participating in the 67th session of the UN General Assembly, the President Ts.Elbegdorj met on Wednesday with his counterpart from Switzerland. Saying she is happy to meet with Mongolia's State Head, the President of the Swiss Confederation Ms Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf asked Mr Elbegdorj about a situation with human rights and freedom in Mongolia. The leader of Mongolia replied that new cabinet and parliament have been formed after the June parliamentary election, local elections will take place this November. Mongolia started its democratic revolution 23 years ago, now it has reached achievements, we are making steps to transmit into the direct democracy from the representative democracy to give people more power, a control over budgets, for example, he said and added that Switzerland has a rich experience in the direct democracy. The Mongolian President said he is glad to see that the Swiss scholars and researchers arrive to Mongolia to meet our people and to cooperate with them in spreading the democracy values, for example, a Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) Martin Dahinden visited Mongolia last summer to see an implementation of some projects realized by their agency. He hoped that the two countries will reach big success in propagandizing the direct democracy at international arena. Saying Mongolia is focusing a great attention on educating of its people, Mr Elbegdorj expressed a willingness to expand the ties with Switzerland in the education sector. Then the dignitaries discussed issues of cooperating at regional and international levels. Ms Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf congratulated Mongolia on success and achievements in human rights and democracy, and said she will support Mongolia's efforts to transmit into the direct democracy. ^ top ^

ADB Greenlights Mongolia's sustainable urban transport program (
“Ulaanbaatar is a boom town bursting with people and vehicles. For the long-term livability of the city, its growth needs to be managed to ensure it's sustainable, and to allow greater access to the wide array of economic opportunities and social services available to its residents,” said Raushan Mamatkulov, Senior Urban Development Specialist at ADB. Using a multi-tranche loan of up to $217.4 million, the first phase of the program will upgrade 7.7 kilometers of road and expand a bridge for a bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor installation, and also upgrade 14-km of electric trolleybus infrastructure, including electric wires, feeder cables and substations. The second phase will build three additional bus depots and upgrade 11.1-km of trolleybus infrastructure. The final phase, which will be completed by 2020, includes the further expansion of the BRT system. The project will also help Ulaanbaatar implement its city master plan, which includes investments in new infrastructure, combined with modern traffic management technologies, policy reforms, and institutional development. By 2020, public transport use is expected to increase substantially, with a significant reduction in bus travel time and traffic delay during peak hours compared to 2011. Ulaanbaatar's population doubled from about 600,000 in 1989 to more than 1.2 million in 2010. With internal migration expected to continue, the city's population is forecast to reach 1.4 million in 2020 and 1.7 million in 2030. At the same time, the number of registered vehicles has increased 4.4 times over since 1998. To accommodate increased population and number of vehicles, the city's transport infrastructure needs to be expanded. The majority of buses are outdated and in poor condition. The increasing number of vehicles, unplanned urbanization, overburdened transport system, and poor traffic management are contributing to congestion, reduced traffic safety, and deteriorating air quality. The multitranche loan is a combination of financing from ADB's concessional Asian Development Fund and the LIBOR-based ordinary capital resources. The Global Environment Facility will provide grant funding to help finance part of the program. ^ top ^

Mongolia runs fifth meeting of CD's Governing Council (Montsame)
Mongolia organized the fifth meeting of the Governing Council of the Community of Democracies /CD/ at the headquarters of the United Nations during the 67th Session of the General Assembly. As known, Mongolia is heading the CD. The gathered discussed several matters and made decisions. For example, a seventh Ministerial conference of the CD will run in Mongolia in April 29 of 2013. Related to it, some important actions are to have place prior such as Parliament forum, Women's forum, Youth's forum, Civil society forum, Business democracy forum. The Ministerial conference is expected to be attended by over 140 countries. Another important agenda was a situation around Mali. The gathered appealed to Mali to restore the democracy. Several officials addressed the meeting such FMs of Mongolia and Chile, Vice-minister of Foreign affairs of Italy, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, and the Assistant Secretary of State Department of the United States of America. The gathered highly spoke Mongolia's leadership in the CD and expressed a willingness to cooperate more in all activities. The forum was chaired by S.Badral, the special envoy of Mongolia. ^ top ^


Fabian Eng
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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