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
  1-7.12.2012, No. 452  
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DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

US Senate's backing for Japan's control of Diaoyus attacked (SCMP)
The US Senate's backing last week for Japan's administration of the disputed East China Sea islands will only escalate tensions between Beijing and Tokyo, Chinese analysts say. Beijing has yet to officially respond, but Xinhua yesterday carried a commentary that said the senators' attempt to "fish in troubled waters will not succeed". The senate's backing for Tokyo, through a vote on a legal amendment, has been widely covered in mainland media, prompting comments by Chinese internet users attacking the United States for interfering. The US Senate unanimously backed the amendment, introduced by a long-time critic of China, Democrat senator Jim Webb. The measure notes that while the US "takes no position" on the ultimate sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan calls the Senkakus, it "acknowledges the administration of Japan over the Senkaku Islands". It also notes that "unilateral actions of a third party" would not affect US acknowledgement of Japan's administration of the islands. [...] Xinhua's commentary said the senators were pouring oil on a fire and "trying to contain China, which had claimed sovereignty over the Diaoyus", but that Thursday's vote would backfire. [...] Liu Jiangyong, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said the senate's decision would only stoke tensions. He said if the US president, Barack Obama, signed the amendment into law, it would have "grave consequences for Sino-US and Sino-Japanese relations". "It is sowing tension and will put Beijing and Tokyo at loggerheads," Liu said. "Japan is not the sole country controlling the waters off the Diaoyu Islands. Our coastguard vessels and fishing boats have entered the archipelago's waters as part of China's sovereignty declaration." [...]. ^ top ^

China's top Doha negotiator attacks lack of climate control progress (SCMP)
China's top climate negotiator has taken a swipe at the Doha climate talks one week into negotiations, complaining of a lack of progress and underscoring concerns that no concrete deals to slow global warming will be reached this year. A total of 190 nations are in the talks, and ministers began arriving at the weekend for the high-level portion of the meeting, which will begin tomorrow. But after a week of lower-level meetings, Su Wei, China's chief climate negotiator, was less than optimistic. China News Service quoted him as saying: "It is not clear whether any breakthrough can be achieved." Little progress has been made on so-called core issues, such as arrangements for a US$100 billion climate fund to help poor countries cut emissions and adapt to the effects of global warming, as well as an extension of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set binding obligations on industrialised countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends on December 31, and a second commitment period has not been set. "Whether the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol should last for five years or eight years, and how to ensure it will be implemented immediately from January 1 have yet to be negotiated," Su said. [...] Meanwhile, delegates at the negotiations are still at odds with each other over how to address unresolved issues, including how to ramp up funding provided from developed countries to developing ones. Su lamented that developed countries were unwilling to be more open about how much money they have already put on the table. "They just don't want to do it, and you can't force anyone to do anything," he said. [...]. ^ top ^

The Liaoning has long way to go to achieve combat effectiveness (People's Daily)
Besides the training of taking off and landing, the pilots of carrier-based aircraft must complete trainings of air and naval combats, said military expert Li Jie during an interview at the Qiangguo Forum of People's Daily Online last week. Li said that the successful taking off and landing of the carrier-based aircraft is a proof of the compatibility of the aircraft and aircraft carrier, which laid a solid foundation for the future combat effectiveness of the aircraft carrier. The five pilots' successful attempt is an effective proof of the progress made by Chinese navy, but this is not enough and it still has some distance away from the formation of combat effectiveness of the aircraft carrier of China. Typically there are dozens of aircrafts on an aircraft carrier, and therefore the carrier needs dozens of pilots who are able to accomplish these tasks. [...] In addition to the coordination between the mother ship and the aircraft, the cooperation from frigates and destroyers are also important to compose a powerful three-dimensional, information-based naval force of an aircraft carrier formation, said Li Jie. Li said that support and cover from the satellite, shore base, and air force as well as cooperation from other troops and weapons are also needed to complete combat missions. After an aircraft carrier battle group formation is in place, there is still a long way to go before the formation of real combat effectiveness and it requires the efforts of all the staff. ^ top ^

China, India play down border spat (Global Times)
China and India should overlook "noises" that might divert friendly cooperation between the two countries, Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, who is also the Chinese special representative on China-India boundary talks, told his Indian counterpart Shiv Shankar Menon in Beijing on Monday. Their meeting was supposed to be the 16th round of China-India border talks but has now been reclassified as an informal talk. Indian media said this is because Dai is due to retire in March, when the new Chinese government will name a new special representative to lead the border talks. The two countries should have a clear idea about some parties' intentions of undermining bilateral ties, and should also remember that there is more consensus than differences, and more cooperation than competition between China and India, Dai told the Indian national security adviser, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Dai was apparently referring to the latest passport map row between Beijing and New Delhi. [...] Menon, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday for a three-day visit, also met Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Monday and is scheduled to meet Wu Bangguo, the head of the National People's Congress, and is scheduled to call on Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday. The Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency said Menon's visit is mainly aimed at "making formal contacts with the new Chinese leaders." An Indian embassy official declined to comment on the visiting agenda of the former Indian ambassador to China. In addition to talks with Chinese leaders, Menon will also release a book of a Chinese translation of the works of Professor P. C. Bagchi, regarded as India's most eminent scholar on Chinese culture. He will also deliver a talk on India-China relations at the Indian embassy on Tuesday, according to the PTI. [...] During their talks on Monday, both Dai and Menon reiterated a previous agreement to maintain peace and stability in the border region and not to let border issues affect the two countries' ties in other areas. [...]. ^ top ^

Blind activist urges Xi Jinping to free prisoners (SCMP)
China defended its human rights record yesterday after the United States slammed Beijing for jailing the nephew of blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng and voiced concerns over its policy in Tibet. Chen, who caused a diplomatic row when he escaped house arrest in Shandong province and reached the US embassy in Beijing earlier this year, has urged the Communist Party chief and Vice-President Xi Jinping to follow Myanmar's model of reform or risk a violent political transition. [...] "The legitimate rights and interests of relevant personnel have been duly protected," China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said yesterday when asked to respond to the US reaction on Chen's sentencing. "We express strong dissatisfaction with the relevant country's gross interference in China's internal affairs and absolutely cannot accept this." In a recorded message posted on YouTube over the weekend by Texas-based Christian advocacy group ChinaAid, Chen Guangcheng also accused the Chinese government of breaking a promise to investigate what he says is the persecution of his family. Chen said that if Myanmar's President Thein Sein was able to release people like Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, then Xi, who will become president in March, should be able to release Chinese prisoners of conscience. [...] On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters the conviction of Chen Kegui was a violation to internationally accepted human rights norms. She further announced that the families of three of the over 80 Tibetans who have set themselves alight to protest China's rule since 2009 met Assistant Secretary of State Mike Posner on Thursday last week. Hong said the meeting marked further "gross interference in China's internal affairs" and insisted that people in Tibet were "leading happy and peaceful lives". ^ top ^

Chinese ship enters disputed Japanese waters (SCMP)
A Chinese government ship briefly sailed into the territorial waters of disputed islands controlled by Tokyo in the East China Sea on Tuesday, Japan's coastguard said. The maritime surveillance vessel entered the 12-nautical-mile zone around Minamikojima, one of the islands in the chain called the Senkakus by Japan and the Diaoyus by China, shortly after noon 11am for about 10 minutes. Chinese vessels have been spotted in and around the territorial waters almost every day for the last two months. The latest episode came a day after Beijing branded a US-Japan security treaty “a product of the cold war” when Washington lawmakers bolstered Japan in its territorial dispute with China over the islands. The amendment, attached to the National Defence Authorisation Bill, noted that while the United States “takes no position” on the ultimate sovereignty of the territory, it “acknowledges the administration of Japan over the Senkaku islands”. It added that “unilateral actions of a third party” would not affect its position. The legislation passed last week reaffirmed the US commitment to Japan under the Treaty of Mutual Co-operation and Security and warned that an armed attack against either party “in the territories under the administration of Japan” could be met with force. [...]. ^ top ^

China warns India against oil exploitation (Global Times)
China opposes any unilateral energy exploration and development activities in the disputed areas in the South China Sea, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday. The statement came in response to remarks by the Indian navy chief that its navy is prepared to deploy vessels to the sea to defend the South Asian country's economic interests there. "China opposes any unilateral oil and gas exploration activities in disputed areas in the South China Sea and hopes relevant countries respect China's sovereignty and national interests, as well as the efforts of countries within the region to resolve disputes through bilateral negotiations," Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei said. Hong's remarks came after Indian navy chief Admiral D.K. Joshi said on Monday that Indian warships would sail to the South China Sea to protect its economic interests and freedom of navigation. India is not a direct claimant of disputed islands in the South China Sea, but a deal signed by the Indian state-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Vietnam in October last year to explore the oil and gas block in the disputed waters has sparked a diplomatic row between Beijing and New Delhi. [...] "When the requirement is there, for example, in situations where our country's interests are involved, for example ONGC... we will be required to go there and we are prepared for that," Joshi said in comments made a day ahead of Indian Navy Day. [...]The Indian navy chief made his remarks as Indian National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon was engaged in a string of intimate meetings top with Chinese leaders speaking highly of China-India cooperation. [...] "The real threat posed by India to China is the military cooperation between India and Vietnam. Moreover, India is now controlling several Indian Ocean islands at the entrance of the Malacca Strait, an international energy channel that sees 80 percent of Chinese oil imports passing by every year," said Du Jifeng, an Asia-Pacific issues researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "As for China, India poses far less of a threat than the US and Japan, because what India can offer to Southeast Asian nations is much less than what the US and Japan can offer," Zhuang added. ^ top ^

China calls on DPRK to proceed prudently (China Daily)
Beijing on Tuesday called on Pyongyang to "act prudently" about its proposed rocket launch this month, as the UN urged it to reconsider the decision. Observers warned of consequences of the launch, including increased tension on the Korean Peninsula, possible UN condemnation, sanctions and the likelihood that Washington would plan more joint military drills in the region. China has exchanged views with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea "several times" about the rocket launch, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in Beijing on Tuesday. "As a sovereign state, the DPRK is entitled to the peaceful use of outer space, but in consideration of the situation on the Korea Peninsula and the restrictions of UN Security Council resolutions, China hopes the DPRK will proceed looking at the big picture of peace and stability on the peninsula and act prudently," the spokesman said. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is "seriously concerned" that the launch would heighten tensions in the region and urged the DPRK to reconsider its decision, Ban's office said in a statement on Tuesday. Ban said the move would violate UN Security Council resolutions forbidding Pyongyang from conducting launches that use ballistic missile technology. Shi Yuanhua, director of the Center for Korean Studies at the Institute of International Studies of Fudan University in Shanghai, warned that the situation could deteriorate. "Pyongyang might not change its plan despite Beijing urges it to make a cautious decision," Shi said. Meanwhile, Hong Lei confirmed that China has maintained contact with the other nations in the Six-Party Talks, which also include the ROK, US, Russia and Japan. "We hope these parties will look at this from a long-term perspective, deal with this calmly and avoid taking actions that may further escalate the tension," he said. ^ top ^

China backs developing countries to combat climate change: official (Xinhua)
China has devoted substantial resources to helping developing countries deal with the severe challenges posed by climate change, a senior Chinese official said on Tuesday. The country has earmarked 200 million U.S. dollars for this cause over a period of three years, Xie Zhenhua, head of China's delegation to the ongoing UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar, said. The funds will be used to finance climate programs in Africa, the least developed countries and small island countries, Xie, also deputy director of China's National Development and Reform Commission, added. [...] China has also offered training programs on climate change to hundreds of officials and technicians from other developing countries and the number will reach 2,000 in the next two years, he added. The Chinese efforts, part of developing countries' drive to promote so-called South-South cooperation on climate change, was welcomed by international deputies at the Doha climate talks. Tewolde Berhan, director-general of Ethiopia's Environmental Protection Authority, praised China's contribution to the South-South cooperation, citing China's support for his country's hydropower development as an example. Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, said at a meeting held on the sidelines of the Doha climate talks that South-South cooperation is important for environment protection and the fight against global warming. ^ top ^

Wen proposes prioritizing SCO regional infrastructure connection (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao proposed Wednesday that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) make the connection of regional infrastructure its top priority. The work should be reasoned and programmed scientifically, make full play of the principal function of enterprises, and be run by the market to ensure quality and efficiency, Wen said in a speech at the 11th SCO prime ministers' meeting here. China was ready to boost coordination with other SCO members to fulfill the commitment it made in June of providing 10-billion-dollar loans to other SCO members, and was mulling setting up an economic and technological cooperation fund earmarked for the region, Wen said. He suggested developing a SCO telecom satellite service and turning the service into a platform for dealing with regional emergencies and rescues, fighting terrorism, and providing mobile telecommunications. Wen also talked about establishing a China-SCO environment protection cooperation center to strengthen the capacity to protect the environment. [...] The regional group, as a growing family and with a significantly increasing influence, had become a strategic carrier for safeguarding regional peace and stability and promoting common development, he said. [...] Currently, the momentum of a world economic recovery was noticably weaker and the deep-level impact caused by the international financial crisis continued to spill over to the Central Asian region, Wen said. The Chinese premier called on SCO members to beef up solidarity, mutual trust and support for each other, and communicate with each other closely on major issues concerning regional security and stability. The meeting, chaired by Kyrgyz Prime Minister Zhantoro Satybaldiyev, was attended by leaders from the six SCO member states, China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and representatives from five observer states, India, Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, plus delegates of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC). [...]. ^ top ^

China inks energy and trade deals with Russia (China Daily)
China and Russia on Thursday signed a number of agreements, with a focus on energy and trade, to boost cooperation as both countries are eyeing further growth against the backdrop of the global economic downturn. [...] Wen and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev witnessed the signing of cooperation agreements in energy, nuclear power, transport, high-tech, personnel training and cultural sectors. "As profound changes are taking place in the world and in the regional situation and risks are growing with the global economic downturn, China and Russia should come closer to jointly tackle the challenges and speed up our own development," Wen said. [...] Co-chairing the meeting with Medvedev, Wen put forward seven proposals including promoting cooperation in energy, investment, processing industry, technology and aviation. [...] Hailing the meeting "efficient and having strategic meanings", Medvedev said in addition to increasing trade, the two countries should also improve the quality of cooperation in two-way investment, high-tech, nuclear power and aircraft manufacturing.The two sides also agreed to boost interregional and border cooperation. Leaders from the two countries had a deep discussion on energy cooperation in the natural gas, oil and coal sectors, Medvedev said. "Consensus in this area will lay a foundation for future cooperation." China and Russia on Wednesday inked four agreements on energy cooperation, including a roadmap on cooperation in the coal sector and an agreement on electricity supply. Close ties between the two neighbors have blossomed, especially in the economy and trade, with bilateral trade reaching $73.6 billion in the first 10 months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 13.4 percent. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing rejects Hanoi's fishing boat allegation (China Daily)
China urged Vietnam on Thursday to halt its unilateral oil and gas development in waters with overlapping sovereignty claims and to stop harassing Chinese vessels there to ensure that the ongoing maritime border talks can bear fruit. Beijing also refuted allegations Hanoi made against Chinese fishing boats and said their dispersion by Vietnamese warships in the disputed waters was groundless. According to Vietnam News, PetroVietnam's geological survey vessel, the Binh Minh 2, was operating in Vietnamese territorial waters on Nov 31 when it was approached by a number of Chinese fishing vessels that cut its exploration cables, Xinhua reported. Beijing must "immediately end this wrongdoing and not allow similar acts to reoccur", Luong Thanh Nghi, Hanoi's ministry of foreign affairs spokesman, said on Tuesday, adding that the incident "violated Vietnam's sovereignty". During a daily news conference in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei rejected those assertions as "not in accordance with the facts". "The waters mentioned by the Vietnamese are near the Beibu Gulf, in an area where China and Vietnam have overlapping sovereignty claims, and the Chinese ships were conducting routine fishing activity in those waters but were driven away by Vietnamese military vessels," he said. Hong confirmed that the two countries are engaged in negotiations about the maritime border and joint development of the waters. "Vietnam should stop its unilateral development of oil and gas in the areas and stop disturbing Chinese fishing ships so as to create a favorable atmosphere for negotiations," Hong said. Jia Duqiang, a researcher of Southeast Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said conflicts are inevitable in the disputed waters because Vietnam's interest in the energy resources has been mounting in recent years. "As both sides elaborate on their plans for oil and gas development (in the waters), dialogue and substantial contact become necessary," Jia said. [...]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

New anti-graft head promises more supervision (China Daily)
The chief of the ruling Party's top discipline watchdog has vowed to strengthen supervision of officials. "Trust can never replace supervision," said Wang Qishan, secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China. He made the pledge while leading a seminar in which scholars gave their suggestions on how to fight corruption. Wang is one of the seven newly elected members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. Eight experts in anti-corruption research from universities and government agencies were invited to give their opinions at the seminar, which was held in Beijing on Friday. During the seminar, the experts said that publicizing officials' assets is an effective measure to prevent corruption, and should be done as soon as possible. [...] Jiang Ming'an, a law professor at Peking University who also attended the seminar, said that even though publicizing officials' assets has been implemented as a pilot project in some places, many officials reported only a small portion of their assets, having hidden part of their wealth. [...] "He (Wang) said that he took part in the legislation of inheritance tax, and he found that it was difficult to turn the tax into practical law immediately because there are lots of complex issues," Jiang told China Daily on Sunday. "He said that publicizing officials' assets is also a complex issue which needs thorough research before being turned into law." An online investigation initiated by China Youth Daily last week showed that 76.6 percent of people expect anti-corruption work to be strengthened in the next decade. More than 62.8 percent of people agreed that publicizing officials' assets is an effective means to prevent corruption, according to the survey, which polled more than 10,200 netizens, including workers at private and State-owned enterprises, university students and officials. [...]. ^ top ^

Communist Party changes style in effort to win back 'lost trust' (SCMP)
The Communist Party's new leadership is certainly wielding a new broom when it comes to revamping the working style of top officials. Just over a fortnight after they assumed control of the world's largest political party, general secretary Xi Jinping, Politburo Standing Committee No 2 Li Keqiang and party discipline chief Wang Qishan have revealed a style in stark contrast to that of their predecessors. They have abandoned old customs, refusing to read from prepared scripts when giving public speeches, and have encouraged officials in meetings they have chaired to do the same. They have also tried to use the language of the common people, throwing out the jargon and ideological verbiage of the party's fourth-generation leadership, headed by President Hu Jintao. They also appear more confident, relaxed and easy-going than their predecessors. [...] In chairing a seminar on fighting graft last Friday, Wang stopped speakers when they began their speeches by addressing him as "respected secretary Wang". Analysts said it reflected a changing political environment on the mainland, with the leadership desperate to gain people's trust amid widespread discontent due to worsening corruption and social injustice, and a widening wealth gap. "The new style of the leaders is to accommodate the rapid changes in society, in which people's distrust of the government, their sense of democracy and their demands on the government are all increasing," said Professor Ma Guoxian, a political affairs analyst at Shanghai University. Ma said Xi's frequent use of the word "people" in his speeches and his efforts to use the language of the common people were attempts to win public support for the government. [...] However, analysts also said they had not seen any clear signs suggesting that the substance of the new leadership would be significantly different. "Now we can see their style is definitely different, but we still have to see if the substance has changed," Ma said. ^ top ^

Birth permit process simplified for migrants (Global Times)
In the past, migrant workers in China have had to rush back and forth between cities to collect dozens of signatures before they could give birth, but an announcement from the nation's family planning authority Monday indicates this will change. The National Population and Family Planning Commission announcement stated that the procedures required to receive a birth permit would be simplified, a move analysts said herald huge changes for the floating population. Migrant workers will be able to get birth permits from their workplaces without traveling to their hometowns to seek government proof of their marital and maternity status, according to the announcement. The move is aimed at saving time and money for couples who do not have a local hukou, (household registration), when they have their first child. The family planning service permit, known as the birth permit, is a must for residents on the Chinese mainland before giving birth to babies. Without the permit, a new baby will risk becoming a "black member" of a family, as the baby will not be allowed to register with the household, and won't receive a hukou, which is necessary for an education and many kinds of benefits. To prove it is their first child, husbands and wives basically have to submit proof provided by community administrators both in their hukou registration places and their current workplaces. [...] According to the new policy, the administrators at both the household registration location and workplaces are responsible, and officers who attempt to dodge their responsibilities or delay the procedures will be punished. Authorities should also publicize and explain the process, and couples can also ask others to go through the procedures for them if they are unavailable. It can take a couple more than two months and 800 yuan to get a permit, according to a Legal Weekly report on November 11, and the couple had to visit more than 10 government offices and get more than 40 signatures and government stamps. [...]. ^ top ^

Grass-roots govts catching Weibo bug (Global Times)
The numbers of grass-roots government officials, departments and agencies that have opened official Weibo accounts have more than doubled over the last year making the phenomena the most significant change in the social networking scene, according to a report released Monday by and the media monitoring center of The report shows that well over 90 percent of the 60,064 government sponsored Sina Weibo accounts were registered by government officials or departments at the country level or lower. Only 2,064 Sina Weibo accounts were opened by governments above that level, said the report. As of October 10, the number of government sponsored Weibo users registered with, had increased 231 percent since 2011. Together they released 320 million posts for an average of 531 posts per account. The number of government Weibo users in Jiangsu Province topped all other jurisdictions with 6,000 registered Sina Weibo accounts, calculated the report. [...] The content of government Weibo postings in 2012 appears to be changing from being mainly a vehicle to promote the positive to releasing relevant and important news and a way of collecting public opinion, said the report adding that using a social networks has become a regular part of government work. [...] However, Wei Wuhui, a Shanghai Jiao Tong University lecturer, told the Global Times that government Weibo users still need to hone their interactive skills with Web users. "Most government-sponsored Weibo users simply release news about weather and transportation conditions. The messages they publish are mainly about positive things." Wei said. "I seldom see them provide timely, concrete responses to Web users." [...]. ^ top ^

China sets natural gas development targets (Xinhua)
China plans to add 3.5 trillion cubic meters of proved conventional natural gas reserves during the 2011-2015 period, according to a latest development plan. The plan, compiled by the National Development and Reform Commission and approved by the State Council, also said that explorable reserves will reach around 1.9 trillion cubic meters. It was released Monday by the National Energy Administration in a statement. By 2015, China aims to bring its natural gas supply capacity to around 176 billion cubic meters, making the energy reachable to 250 million people, or 18 percent of the population, according to the statement. [...] Currently, natural gas makes up only around 4.6 percent of the country's primary-energy consumption, much lower than the international average of 23.8 percent. This leaves room for exploration potentials as the geological reserves of China's conventional natural gas is estimated at 52 trillion cubic meters, according to the statement. [...] Regarding the development of shale gas, a variety of unconventional natural gas, China plans to prove 600 billion cubic meters of geological reserves by 2015, with explorable reserves at 200 billion, the statement said, setting the output target of 6.5 billion cubic meters by that time. The country also vows to "basically complete" the assessment on China's shale gas potentials during the 2011-2015 period and master the key exploration techniques. [...] The NDRC also said China will add new pipelines spreading 44,000 kilometers during the period. ^ top ^

Jailed former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun's sartorial secrets revealed (SCMP)
Weeks after Wang Lijun was sentenced to prison, more details have begun to surface about the flamboyant style of the former anti-triad hero who played a central role in the scandal that felled the ex-Politburo member Bo Xilai. Colleagues of the former Chongqing police chief have described Wang, once Bo's most trusted aide and ally, as an ambitious maverick who showed more concern about his public appearance than upsetting subordinates or superiors. He did not hesitate to mete out punishment, police and government sources in Chongqing said. Many officers, including some who once worked closely with Wang, were subjected to punishment, ranging from receiving demerits or demotion to loss of their jobs or even detention over minor mistakes. "Wang once said that he had nothing to fear, even if what he did may have been against the direct orders from the Ministry of Public Security," one source recalled. Colleagues also described him as wild, self-centred and highly particular about appearances. Last year he ordered staff in the municipal police bureau to attend a concert by the folk singer Song Zuying and bought them matching 5,500 yuan (HK$6,800) suits for the occasion. "It is an open secret within the Chongqing police that only Wang was allowed to wear suits of a specific light-grey colour, which he believed was more elegant than other colours," a police officer said. [...] Sources said more than 2,000 Chongqing police officers who were sidelined by Wang have appealed for their cases to be re-examined, with about half reinstated or already under review. Meanwhile, police and government sources in the southwestern municipality confirmed that the newly appointed party chief, Sun Zhengcai, would scrap most of the policies adopted under Wang by the end of the year, including some once seen as his biggest achievements. One of the best known policies was a costly project Wang launched in 2010 to deploy thousands of police and police vehicles on the street to ensure rapid police response to any public security threat 24 hours a day. Although part of Bo's controversial crusade against organised crime, which was often attacked as the pair's attempt to promote their political agenda at the expense of the rule of law, the project itself has been widely hailed by local residents. [...]. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping overhauls leaders' working style to regain public's trust (SCMP)
The Communist Party leadership has rolled out a raft of pledges to revamp the working style of senior officials, calling for fewer empty words and a lower-key treatment of top leaders in an effort to win back "lost trust". A meeting of the party's Politburo yesterday, chaired by new party general secretary Xi Jinping, pledged to reduce ostentation and bureaucratic visits, meetings and talks. [...] In a statement issued after its meeting, the Politburo said it would scrap or restrict traffic controls arranged for leaders' trips to avoid unnecessary inconvenience to the public, state broadcaster China Central Television reported in its main newscast last night. The statement said the party would also reduce or restrict airport welcoming and seeing off ceremonies for visiting leaders and cut spending and the number of escorts for leaders on official domestic and overseas visits. The leadership also took aim at wordy meetings, saying the arrangements for national meetings of officials and major events would be strictly regulated and improvements made to the efficiency of official conferences and the issuing of official documents. "We will make clear our determination to improve our style of work and to solve the problems that the masses are particular discontented with," the statement said. "The style of officials, particularly top officials, has an important impact upon the style of the party and the style of the government and even on the whole of society. "Such a working style must first start with the members of the Politburo. If you want people to do something then do it yourself first; if you don't want somebody to do something then certainly do not do it yourself." [...]. ^ top ^

Xi vows to boost rule of law (Global Times)
Xi Jinping, newly elected leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Tuesday admitted abuse of power among some officials and pledged to promote the authority of the Constitution and the rule of law. "The supervising mechanisms and systems ensuring the Constitution's implementation have not been perfect, and there are still phenomena of lawlessness, lax enforcement and not punishing law-breakers in a timely fashion," Xi said at a congress marking the 30th anniversary of the Constitution's implementation. Some officials have been abusing their power and seriously damaging the authority of the country's laws, and the awareness of the Constitution among citizens, including some government leaders, still needs improvement, Xi said. As corruption and violation of people's basic rights have triggered increasing public anger in recent years, scholars have pointed out that China does not lack laws and regulations. As long as the Constitution, which guarantees people's freedoms of speech, press, religious belief and association, among other rights, are respected and strictly followed, the people can live a much more worry-free life, they said. Xi echoed this concern and said Tuesday that the Constitution must be respected or there would be no guarantee of people's rights and freedom, and the ruling Party and the country would also suffer a setback. "We must firmly establish throughout society the authority of the Constitution and the law and allow the overwhelming masses to fully believe in the law," Xi said. Xi's remarks were received with a mixture of hope and caution on the Internet Tuesday night. Chen Zhiwu, a professor of finance at Yale University, said he was impressed by Xi's announcement, as it is the first time a high-profile comment on the Constitution has been made by a top leader in years. "But we must start with opening up the media, protecting freedom of speech and ensuring the independence of the judicial system," he wrote on his Weibo. [...]. ^ top ^

Chongqing official Wu Hong latest to become embroiled in sex scandal (SCMP)
Another Chongqing official has become the latest in a series of mainland cadres to become embroiled in a sex scandal. Authorities in the municipality's Peiling district issued a brief statement on their official microblog account yesterday morning saying an investigation would be conducted into Wu Hong, who works for the district's Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau, after pictures appeared online on Sunday showing him with a half-naked young woman in a hotel room. The exposé came a week after a whistle-blower released a sex-video clip of a district-level party boss in the municipality and said there were similar videos featuring at least five other senior Chongqing party cadres. It was unclear if Wu was one of the five. In the latest pictures, Wu is seen wearing his official uniform. Authorities announced the investigation two days after the anonymous post on popular web portal and the party's disciplinary inspection authorities confirming the man was Wu. Keeping mistresses is common among mainland officials, despite a party ban. Their decadent lifestyles have come under increased scrutiny in recent months, amid a series of crackdowns and online revelations. Late last month, Lei Zhengfu, 54, party chief of Chongqing's Beibei district, was reportedly removed from his position amid bribery allegations - just three days after a video surfaced online appearing to show him having sex with an 18-year-old. In the anonymous post that accompanied the pictures of Wu, the whistle-blower claimed to have kept the pictures for two years and decided to release them after hearing about the Lei sex scandal. [...]. ^ top ^

China releases air pollution reduction plan, vows PM2.5 cut (Xinhua)
The Chinese government plans to further cut emissions of gas and pollutants in economically dynamic areas. According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP)'s plan for reducing overall air pollution for the 2011-2015 period on Wednesday, China will cut the PM2.5 intensity by at least 5 percent by 2015 in 13 major areas covering 117 cities. It also made a commitment to reduce the intensity of PM10, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide by 10 percent, 10 percent and 7 percent, respectively. [...] For the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta region and the Pearl River Delta region, the PM2.5 intensity will be cut by at least 6 percent, the plan said. [...] According to the plan, China will strive to reduce the amount of fine particles and pollutant in the air by strengthening controls over industrial waste treatment and auto emissions. China will vigorously develop city bus and rail transportation systems and explore ways of regulating vehicle totality and trips, promote upgrading of vehicle fuels, strict emissions of newly-produced cars and eliminate high-emission vehicles. The plan meted out an "offset measure," stipulating that the newly produced emissions from new projects in a region must be offset by reducing a larger amount of emissions from other projects in the region. [...]. ^ top ^

War veteran, 80, sent to labour camp for protests (SCMP)
An 80 year old Chinese war veteran spent a year and a half in a “re-education” camp for trying to complain about a policeman, his son said on Wednesday, the latest in a series of high-profile labour camp cases. Liu Chunshan, a veteran of the Chinese civil war and Korean war, was sent to a “re-education through labour” camp after he visited Beijing 37 times to try to complain about a local policeman, state broadcaster CCTV reported. The dispute stemmed from rows with officers over Liu's scrap metal recycling business. Authorities in Liaoning province offered to pay Liu not to visit Beijing, but sentenced him to one and a half years of “re-education through labour” after he persisted in his campaign, CCTV said. He has now been released. [...] Chinese media have grown more vocal in exposing inhumane cases of re-education through labour in recent months, with some opinion page pieces calling for the system to be abolished completely. State media harshly criticised authorities for sentencing college student Ren Jianyu, to two years in a labour camp for posting messages critical of the local government online. Last month he was released early. [...]. ^ top ^

Shandong to implement new gaokao law in 2014 (Global Times)
The new policy regarding the national college entrance examinations, or gaokao, allowing nonlocal students to take the test alongside native residents, will go into effect in 2014 in Shandong Province, Qilu Evening News reported Wednesday. Students who entered high school in 2011 will be the first to take the gaokao under the new policy. Song Chengde, the deputy director-general of the Shandong Provincial Education Department, confirmed that nonlocal students who have attended local schools for three consecutive years and whose names are on the school rolls will be legally allowed to take the test alongside native students. Song noted that the new policy had been carefully considered and public opinion was sought before it was issued. He went on to note that many parents of nonlocal students have made great contributions to local development over the years, which should ensure them equal treatment with local residents. Song also acknowledged the challenges of implementing gaokao reform facing Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, adding that Shandong students will be exposed to fierce competition after the relaxation of the policy concerning nonlocal gaokao takers. Figures show that a maximum of 15,000 nonlocal students will be taking the test in 2014. Song expressed his hope that the enrollment quota of nationally prominent universities would be increased, thus giving students more opportunities to receive a good education. Song pointed out that the recruitment system should also be improved on the premise of educational fairness. ^ top ^

Yet another official hit by online wristwatch scandal (Global Times)
The mayor of Lanzhou in Northwest China's Gansu Province has become embroiled in a corruption controversy after several photos posted online showed him wearing an expensive wristwatches on Monday. Yuan Zhanting, 51, was exposed by an Internet user who said Yuan owned at least five expensive wristwatches, including a 150,000 yuan ($24,096) Omega. Yuan told the Oriental Morning Post on Tuesday that he saw the photos and "the Guansu government is dealing with it" but declined to make further comments. The Web user, who said his name is Zhou Lubao on Sina Weibo, said he received at least eight phone calls from Lanzhou and Beijing after he exposed Yuan's expensive tastes, trying to talk him into deleting the postings. Zhou said he held no personal grudge against Yuan. "I have held these photos for quite some time but only decided to post them after I heard what the Lanzhou government has done to Zhao Meifu," Zhou said. Zhao Meifu was sentenced to a year-long term of re-education through Labor in Lanzhou after being sent back from Beijing for "inappropriate" petitioning on November 12 this year. ^ top ^

Echoes of Deng Xiaoping as Xi Jinping heads to Shenzhen on first inspection trip (SCMP)
Xi Jinping has decided Shenzhen will be the venue for his first inspection trip as the party's new general secretary. It is a move political observers say pays tribute to the famous southern tour of Deng Xiaoping in 1992 and sends a signal of commitment to deepening reform. A Shenzhen propaganda official said Xi, who will succeed Hu Jintao as president in March, would follow in the footsteps of Deng's tour to "express his determination to further deepen China's reform". Xi is due to visit the Yunong fishing village in Luohu, the Qianhai experimental zone and export factories in Shekou today, before heading to Zhuhai and Guangzhou. [...] Former National People's Congress deputy Ng Hong-man said Xi chose Shenzhen for his first tour to pay tribute to Deng and his reformist father Xi Zhongxun's commitment to reform and opening up. Deng gave Xi's father the task of setting up experimental zones for economic reforms in 1979. There was no noticeable tightening up of security in Yunong yesterday, nor any signs of extravagant preparations for a VIP visit, although villagers were told to prepare for a family visit by "an important leader". The Qianhai experimental zone cancelled the media tour for Hong Kong reporters that was scheduled for today, without giving a reason. The party's 25-member Politburo banned fawning, over-the-top, red-carpet welcoming ceremonies for top leaders on Tuesday and political observers expect Xi's first inspection trip to be a low-profile affair. [...] Zhang Lifan, a political analyst formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Xi was trying to demonstrate he was a legitimate successor to the spirit of reform advocated by Deng and his father. "Hu Jintao chose Xibaipo as the destination of his first trip, the red headquarters of the Communist Party and the People's Liberation Army in the late 1940s before the communists came to power," Zhang said. "New leaders always want to emphasise and connect themselves with some glorious image from the past. But I don't think Shenzhen and Guangdong have done a good job in terms of reform in recent years." [...]. ^ top ^

Wife of jailed Nobel winner Liu Xiaobo weeps in rare media interview (SCMP)
Liu Xia trembled uncontrollably and cried yesterday as she described how her house arrest has been absurd and emotionally draining in the two years since her jailed activist husband, Liu Xiaobo, was named a Nobel Peace laureate in 2010. Breathless from disbelief at receiving unexpected visitors into her home and with a shaking voice, Liu gave her first interview in 26 months - a brief conversation with journalists who visited her apartment while the guards who watch it apparently stepped away for lunch. Liu said her house arrest had been painfully surreal and in stark contrast to China's celebratory response to this year's Chinese victory among the Nobels - literature prize winner Mo Yan. Liu said she has been confined to her duplex apartment in downtown Beijing with no internet or outside phone line and was only allowed weekly trips to buy groceries and visit her parents. "We live in such an absurd place," she said. "It is so absurd. I felt I was a person emotionally prepared to respond to the consequences of Liu Xiaobo winning the prize. But … I really never imagined that after he won, I would not be able to leave my home. This is too absurd. I think Kafka could not have written anything more absurd and unbelievable than this." Once a month, she is taken to see her husband in prison. It was not clear when Liu Xia started regular visits to her husband or if they would continue following her interview. She was denied visits for more than a year after she saw him two days after his Nobel win and emerged to tell the world he had dedicated the award to those who died in the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. [...] Though she is forbidden to discuss the specifics of her situation with her husband, Liu says he knows that she is also under detention. "He understands more or less. I told him: 'I am going through what you are going through almost'." Dressed in a track suit and slippers, Liu's first reaction to seeing journalists at her door was to put her hands to her head and ask several times: "How did you manage to come up? How did you manage?" At around midday, the guards who keep a 24-hour watch on the main entrance of Liu's building had left their station - a cot with blankets where they sit and sleep. Liu appeared frail and explained she has a back injury that frequently keeps her confined to bed. A poet, photographer and painter, Liu said she spends her time reading and sometimes painting. She last saw her husband a few weeks ago and said he was in good health, but she could not recall the exact date of the visit. "I can't remember," she said. "I don't keep track of the days anymore. That's how it is.". ^ top ^

Report on propaganda chief Liu Qibao released (SCMP)
A report about the recent official activities of Liu Qibao, the new propaganda chief whose conspicuous absence from the limelight for nine days has sparked intense speculation among overseas media and pundits, was released yesterday by Xinhua. Some online postings on mainland chatrooms and overseas media reports say his mother has died while others allege he was implicated in the downfall of the Sichuan vice-party boss Li Chuncheng, Liu's former subordinate when he was Sichuan party boss. Xinhua reported last night that Liu had made visits to the office of foreign propaganda, which is more commonly known as the Information Office of the State Council, and the cultural ministry, recently. The report did not specify when the visits were made, but its release last night was apparently aimed at dismissing rumours about him. Meanwhile, another figure under close scrutiny by overseas media in recent days, Gu Liping, wife of the United Front minister Ling Jihua, also appeared in public recently. The website of Youth Business China carried a photo of Gu with her colleagues on Wednesday, saying she is leading the team to make plans for the non-governmental organisation for next year. There were intense rumours online recently alleging Gu was being investigated for corruption. Ling, a top aide of the retiring leader Hu Jintao, suffered a severe setback in his political career after his son died in a controversial Ferrari crash in March. Meanwhile, CCTV last night carried a lengthy report about Hu's visit to a historical site from the Communist revolution recently, his first publicised activity since he handed over power last month. Hu, who is still president after surrendering his two most powerful positions, general secretary of the Communist Party and chief of the military, to Xi Jinping, travelled to Zhunyi, a small town in Guizhou province along the route of the historic Long March. [...] The visit by Hu was widely considered to be a tribute to revolutionary leaders before Hu hands over his presidency to Xi in March. CCTV said Hu made the visit from December 1 to 6. [...]. ^ top ^



Beijing policy shift on 'black jails' unlikely after charges for detentions (SCMP)
Charges of illegal detention of petitioners filed against a number of people in Beijing have shed a rare light on the operation of so-called black jails in the capital. The case, which some reports have said was heard by a Beijing court late last month, is seen by legal experts as evidence that the authorities want to crack down on illegal treatment of petitioners. But they also said the authorities would not take drastic measures to curb illegal detention. Petitioners have long complained of being detained in unofficial detention centres. An indictment issued by a Beijing prosecutor said Wang Gaowei from Henan, who started operating a black jail in Beijing's Chaoyang district in February, allegedly hired several thugs to abduct four petitioners from the province in the capital on April 28, forcing them into a car that was taken to a black jail. The petitioners were sent home the next day but returned to Beijing to report the case to police, who charged Wang and his aides with illegal detention. Ten people - three of them under the age of 18 - were prosecuted, the Southern Metropolis Daily cited unnamed sources as saying, adding that the court had yet to deliver a written verdict after hearing the case for the second time late last month. Confusion over the case arose on Sunday after the state-run Beijing Youth Daily said the Chaoyang District People's Court had jailed the 10 defendants for up to 18 months last Wednesday. But several other state-run newspapers, including the People's Daily and the Global Times, said the Beijing Youth Daily report was untrue, with court spokesman Huang Shuo as saying the case was pending. [...] Legal experts said the case was a step forward by the authorities in addressing the grievances of petitioners, but added that they would not be getting too optimistic about the development. "The officials who are behind the black jails are not being prosecuted," said Guangzhou-based rights lawyer Tang Jingling. "I don't expect there will be any major policy shift regarding petitioners." [...] Li Fangping, a lawyer based in Beijing, said the confusion over Wang's case indicated that the central government wanted to adopt a low-key approach. "High-profile handling would mean [admitting] that there are a lot of black jails in Beijing.". ^ top ^

Beijing to offer 72-hour visa-free stay for foreign visitors in 2013 (Xinhua)
Beijing will start a 72-hour visa-free stay policy for citizens of 45 countries to boost tourism, municipal authorities said Wednesday. From Jan. 1, 2013, tourists holding third country visas and plane tickets can apply for a transit without visa (TWOV) in the capital city at Beijing Capital International Airport, said Ji Lixia, assistant director of the Beijing General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection. Ji made the announcement at a press conference held by the Beijing municipal government. [...] "Foreign visitors must be reminded that they are not permitted to leave Beijing to other Chinese cities during the 72 hours, and have to depart from Beijing," Ji said. According to Ji, visitors have to register at a police station with their visas within 24 hours of their arrival. "A relaxed visa policy is common practice to boost the inbound tourist market," said Wang Yue, deputy director with Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development. [...] "On average, overseas visitors always stay in Beijing for three days and four nights, and their personal spending is about 1,000 U.S. dollars, twice the amount spent by domestic visitors," Wang said. [...] Beijing will develop tourism products targeting visitors who will stay two or three days in the city, and build new tax-free shops in the airport to attract more foreign consumers. ^ top ^



Shanghai gains in competitiveness list (China Daily)
Shanghai is likely to overtake Hong Kong in just a few years to become China's most competitive city, according to a report published by the China Institute of City Competitiveness. The institute, a non-government organization founded in 1998 in Hong Kong, released 21 rankings on Wednesday at a news conference in Hong Kong in its latest annual evaluation of Chinese cities. The rankings were compiled by taking into consideration a wide range of attributes among various cities, including comprehensive competitiveness, internationalization, growth potential and safety. Shanghai took second place on five of the 21 lists, coming in behind Hong Kong in each case. Hong Kong has held the top spot in the ranking of comprehensive competitiveness in each of the past 11 years.But Shanghai has been catching up recently. For 2012, Shanghai scored 14,607 points on the ranking of comprehensive competitiveness, only 253 points below Hong Kong. Beijing and Guangzhou took the third and fourth places on the list. [...] Shanghai's economy is in fact already much larger than Hong Kong's. In the first half of the year, Shanghai's gross domestic product increased by 7.2 percent year-on-year to 955.2 billion yuan ($115 billion). That compares with Hong Kong's GDP of $96.68 billion, a year-on-year increase of just 0.9 percent. [...]. ^ top ^



Details emerge in graft investigation into former Shenzhen vice-mayor (SCMP)
More details about a graft probe into former Shenzhen vice-mayor Liang Daoxing emerged yesterday after party disciplinary authorities in Guangdong formally announced last week that he was under investigation for corruption. Guangdong and Shenzhen disciplinary authorities have remained tight-lipped about their probe of the 63-year-old former deputy mayor, but mainland newspapers have started pointing fingers at the four years Liang spent in charge of the preparation and construction work for the World University Games, which were held in Shenzhen last year and are also known as the Universiade. In particular, newspapers have highlighted a link between Liang and Xu Zongheng, the former Shenzhen mayor who was implicated in the Games scandal and received a suspended death sentence in May last year. Liang resigned his position as vice-mayor in February 2009, just four months before Xu was arrested, but remained in charge of the Universiade preparations until the Games closed. The massive bill that Shenzhen paid for the Games has been a persistent subject of controversy in the city, and the government has yet to say exactly how much was spent on the Games, though an audit report of the competition is expected by the end of this month. "Liang has been publicly praised many times by disgraced mayor Xu Zongheng as 'the hero of the Universiade'," Beijing News reported yesterday, citing government sources as saying that the investigation into Liang may be linked to a misappropriation of Universiade funds. "Many operational works were outsourced [at a price much higher than the market average]," the newspaper said, adding that staff from the Universiade's executive board were quoted by reporters as saying that a buffet meal for journalists was outsourced for more than 200 yuan (HK$247) a head. [...] Mainland media have also reported that Liang was accused by his subordinates of corruption and misconduct as early as 2001, when he was the party boss of Shenzhen's Nanshan district. Wen Xuan, who was the district's propaganda chief at the time, wrote a three-sentence slogan on the district government's car park twice in 2001 criticising Liang, Southern Metropolis Daily reported. ^ top ^

Guangdong officials to declare assets in pilot scheme (SCMP)
Guangdong's top graft-buster has vowed that the province will be the first regional government to implement an assets declaration scheme for party cadres, but pundits question whether the oversight is in place to make the scheme effective. [...] Guangdong's party disciplinary chief, Huang Xianyao, told the Nanfang Daily in an interview published yesterday that the province would study anti-corruption efforts in Hong Kong, Macau and foreign countries. The Caixin Magazine website said the pilot scheme will be launched in Nansha district, Guangzhou, and Shixing county, Shaoguan. [...] "From next year, officials who are to be promoted will be required to declare their personal and family assets, provide information about any investments and private businesses, and say whether they have kept a clean record during their political careers," he said. Dr Peng Peng, a senior researcher with the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said the scheme indicated Guangdong authorities' will to make asset declarations a long-term practice. "However, there is no effective supervisory mechanism to verify whether officials declare their assets honestly," he said. [...] Professor Qi Mingshan, who teaches public administration at Renmin University, said the new scheme would be mere political posturing if Guangdong authorities did not carry it out with an iron fist. "Chinese officials have decision-making and supervisory power concentrated in their own hands, and it will be very difficult for the asset declaration system to be successful due to conflicts of interests," he said. [...]. ^ top ^



Top US official meets families of Tibetan self-immolators (SCMP)
The families of three Tibetans who have set themselves alight to protest China's rule met this week with a top US official who voiced Washington's grave concern over the Chinese crackdown. More than 20 people have set fire to themselves this month and assistant secretary Mike Posner met with some families on Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday. He voiced “deepest condolences and our grave concern for the spiraling violence and harsh crackdown in Tibetan areas as well as... grief with regard to the self-immolations,” she said. “We remain very concerned about rising tensions that result from counterproductive policies, including those that limit freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association in Tibet,” she said. Nuland did not say where the meeting was held in a bid to protect the families who were involved “from reprisals.” [...] “We are going to continue to raise this publicly and privately and urge the Chinese government, at all levels, to address policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and that threaten the distinct religious, cultural and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people,” Nuland said. ^ top ^

China to press murder charges for inciting Tibet immolations (SCMP)
China will charge anyone caught aiding or inciting Tibetan self-immolations with murder, state press said on Wednesday, after more than 90 Tibetans set themselves alight in protest at Beijing's rule. A joint legal opinion issued by China's supreme court, top prosecution body and police said the charge of “intentional murder” should apply to anyone urging Tibetans to set themselves alight, the state-run Gannan Daily reported. [...] The ruling comes alongside an already intense security crackdown in Tibetan-inhabited regions and could implicate Tibetan monks, family members of anti-China protesters, or sympathisers. More than 90 Tibetans have set themselves alight since 2009 in protest at China's rule of the Tibetan plateau, with the incidents becoming more frequent this year and nearly 30 happening in November. “The recent self immolations in Tibean areas are mutually linked to hostile forces in and out of China, they are plotted, organised and incited by separatist nations and are seriously odious incidents aimed at destroying ethnic unity and fomenting social disorder,” the paper said. “The legal opinion clearly points out that those criminals behind the scenes who plan, incite, aide, abet... and help those perpetrating self immolations will be investigated for criminal liability in the crime of intentional murder.” The Gannan Daily is the local government-run paper in Gannan prefecture, part of northwest China's Gansu province, where many of the November burnings took place. [...]. ^ top ^

Students in Tibet to receive schooling on 'national territory awareness' (SCMP)
Hong Kong has put national education on the backburner, but in Tibet, it is being reformed and revamped. Local authorities in Tibet have kicked off a campaign aimed at boosting public “awareness of national territory and education”, holding a celebratory event at a Lhasa primary school, state media reported earlier this week. Photos of the event published by the Xinhua News Agency showed young students saluting the Chinese national flag during a flag-raising ceremony in the school's courtyard. “This is Tibet, this is Hong Kong and this is Taiwan,” the China News quoted a group of young students as they studied a map of China and learnt about its “proper usage” during a class. According to the reports, the campaign hopes to strengthen awareness amongst students, the community and the media regarding affairs of national territory and identity. [...]. ^ top ^



Thousands of mainland students flock to Hong Kong for SAT exams (SCMP)
Mainland Chinese students flooded to Chep Lap Kok's AsiaWorld-Expo early on Saturday morning, to take the SAT US college entrance exams, The Beijing News reported on Monday. The event, organised by Beijing-based New Oriental Education, a company providing study-abroad services, drew thousands of mainland Chinese students seeking to break away from the ultra-competitive Gaokao – China's own college entrance exam system. Huge queues stretching several hundred metres wound round corners as concerned parents shuffled to and fro to find out the latest exam times and details for their children. According to mainland media reports, an estimated 95 per cent of the candidates taking the tests were from mainland China, where SAT test centres are still non-existent. Tour operators have been quick to cash in on the growing phenomenon in recent years, providing chartered buses shuttling them directly to test centres, hotel rooms and entire tour packages to students and parents, spawning a whole new industry dubbed “exam tourism”. [...] According to local media reports, from October 2007 to June 2008, up to 7,000 mainland students came to Hong Kong to take the exams. From October 2008 to June 2009, the figure had nearly doubled to more than 15,000. The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) estimates this figure will exceed 40,000 by the end of this year. [...] Increasing numbers of parents and students are opting out of China's high-stakes Gaokao, the mainland's one and only do-or-die college entrance exam system, which has been the subject of heated debate in recent years due to a caste-based system. Chinese netizens were quick voice their opinions. "Some migrant workers don't seem to have a choice," said one user on microblogging site Sina Weibo. "They have no choice but to pay a lot of money to take the SATs and study abroad, since they can't get fair access to the [Gaokao] college entrance examinations at home." The current policy allows students from major Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai to get into better universities even with scores significantly lower than those of their counterparts in other provinces. Migrant workers without urban Hukou – China's household registration system – find it much harder to get in. “Students who take these [SAT] exams are just afraid of competition,” said another Weibo user. ^ top ^

City's poor spend more on food (SCMP)
The city's poorest spend more of their income on food than a decade ago as inflation continues to push prices higher. Groceries account for more than half of their monthly household expenditure, a study found. For the poorest 5 per cent of three-member households in the city, 51.5 per cent of their average HK$5,181 a month spending went towards food in 2009-10, up 8.8 percentage points compared with 10 years earlier. That means each member in those families spent about HK$29.60 on meals every day, compared with HK$26.60 in 1999-2000. The Council of Social Service yesterday released its analysis based on data from the Census and Statistics Department's household-expenditure surveys of 1999-2000 and 2009-10. "There has been serious inflation in food prices, but the rise in spending could also be, in part, because families can spend more on food as public-housing rent waivers help lessen the housing burden," said Chua Hoi-wai, the council's business director of policy research and advocacy. In 2009-10, 16.7 per cent of the average monthly spending for a three-member household went to housing, down from 22.6 per cent of HK$5,609 per month in 1999-2000. But Chua said that some low-income households still needed to squeeze their food expenditures in order to meet other living costs. Christine Fang Meng-sang, the council's chief executive, proposed that the government set up more community hot-meal canteens to serve the elderly and poorer households, and that it lengthen the period over which the poor could receive food aid. [...]. ^ top ^

Hong Kong sees record rise in HIV infections in third quarter (SCMP)
The city saw a record number of new HIV infections in the three months to the end of September. Of the cases for which a cause was established, most were the result of men having sex with other men, the Department of Health said. The number of infections in the quarter was 140, the highest quarterly figure since 1984. That exceeded the 131 new cases in the previous quarter, also a record. "The increase is worrisome," said Dr Wong Ka-hing, a consultant at the department's Centre for Health Protection. He said he hoped that with more homosexuals in the city openly declaring they were gay - including the recent coming out of lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen and singer Denise Ho Wan-sze - better awareness of HIV/Aids prevention could be promoted. [...] Of the newly infected, 65 - or 46 per cent - were reported to have contracted HIV through homosexual sex, while 28 per cent got the virus from heterosexual sex. Two of the victims said they were bisexual and one reported injecting drugs. The method of transmission for the remaining 44 was undetermined due to inadequate information. Of the 140 cases, 112 were in males. It was the third quarter in a row to see a rise in new infections. The last three months of last year saw 121 new cases, and the first quarter of this year saw 122. [...] "The increasing tendency matches the trend we have observed in other affluent cities in Asia and the US, where the number of infections among men who have sex with men has been on the increase in recent years," Wong said. "We expect the numbers will continue to rise." [...]. ^ top ^



Macau unworried by return of Broken Tooth from jail (SCMP)
Triads in Macau now earn rich pickings from the city's casinos instead of robbing the public. And with Beijing in charge, the public disorder that dogged the then Portuguese enclave before the 1999 handover is unlikely to be seen again. So say a Macau politician and a businessman whose trade was badly affected by pre-handover criminality. They suggest the public does not expect the release of the once-feared gangster "Broken Tooth" Wan Kuok-koi, 57, from prison yesterday to destabilise Macau. Au Kam-san, a New Democratic Macau Association legislator, said the city's residents were generally not worried, as the public security situation had changed in the past 13 years. "Gangsters in Macau have never been afraid of their own government, whether it is the Portuguese or the Macau people," Au said. "The only thing they fear in the world is the Chinese Communist Party. "That is the reason why fights broke out among gangs as the handover drew close. They were making the final effort to secure their own interests." After the 1999 handover, Au said, gangs turned to the booming gambling business to make a living. Since then there had been few open challenges to public order, he said. "The [monetary] benefits that gangsters can gain from society would be much less than what they get from the casinos," Au said. "No one would fight and kill if they can earn money." [...] Chan Peng-hong, whose shop Sam Long Jewellery has operated for more than 30 years in the grass-roots district of Sam Chan Tang, still remembers the days of disorder, but says he too is not worried today. "The casinos could not produce enough benefits in the past, but now the benefits are shared harmoniously," he said. "They are too busy making money as betting agents in the increasing number of casinos and do not have much conflict of interests." [...]. ^ top ^



Taiwan concerned over China high-tech talent poaching (SCMP)
Taiwan on Wednesday voiced concern over “malicious talent poaching” in reaction to a report that a high-tech firm run by former Chinese president Jiang Zemin's son was aggressively recruiting staff from the island. “The flow of talent has to follow proper procedures,” Economic Minister Shih Yen-hsiang told a session of parliament. “We don't approve of malicious talent poaching.” Shih made the comment after the Taiwan-based CommonWealth magazine reported that Jiang's son Jiang Mianheng was among a string of Chinese businesses going after the island's high-tech talent. According to the biweekly magazine, tech company He Hui operated indirectly by the younger Jiang allegedly had recruited 70 people from top research institutes and firms in Taiwan to the alarm of the island's authorities. “We hope recruitees will seriously consider the potential damage they could cause or the liabilities they could face when making any move,” Shih said. He was referring to an industrial secret protection law recently passed by parliament that imposes tougher punishment on the theft or improper usage of trade secrets. Taipei has long taken care to protect its high-tech sectors, imposing restrictions on local firms investing in China to avoid the risk of giving the Chinese side a technological advantage. [...]. ^ top ^



Industry growth brightens outlook (China Daily)
China's manufacturing picked up for the third straight month in November, official data showed on Saturday, pointing to further recovery of the world's second largest economy. The purchasing managers' index rose to 50.6 in November from 50.2 in October, reaching a seven-month high, according to China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. The PMI rebounded to 49.8 percent in September, ending four straight months of decline. A reading above 50 indicates an economic expansion. "Though the November PMI is a bit lower than the market expectation of 50.8, it remained above 50 and has risen for three months in a row, demonstrating that the country's real economy and financial market is improving," said Zhou Hao, an economist at ANZ Banking Group Ltd. Readings for sub-indices also indicated an expansion. The sub-index for new orders climbed 0.8 percent from October to 51.2 last month. The export order sub-index for November stood at 50.2, up 0.9 percent from the previous month, CFLP statistics show. For Zhang Liqun, an analyst with the Development Research Center of the State Council, increases of new orders and improvements in some PMI sub-indices mean companies have finished cutting inventories, which points to further expansion in coming months. HSBC China's flash PMI, which prefers samples from small and medium-sized enterprises, bounced back into expansion territory for the first time in 13 months to stand at 50.4 in November. [...] "The recovery in industrial activity appears to be gaining traction, supported by policy easing and stabilization in the housing market," said Zhu Haibin, chief China economist and head of Greater China economic research at J.P. Morgan. "External demand has also improved in the near term." Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Friday affirmed the AA- long-term and A-1+ short-term sovereign credit rating of the People's Republic of China, with the outlook being stable. The ratings reflect the country's strong economic growth potential, robust external position, and the government's relatively healthy fiscal position, S&P said. [...]. ^ top ^

Real estate prices rise for sixth month (China Daily)
Home prices in major cities increased for the sixth consecutive month in November amid rising market expectations. The China Index Academy, a property research body, reported on Monday the average price of new homes in 100 monitored cities increased 0.26 percent monthly in November to 8,791 yuan ($1,395) per square meter. A rise of 0.17 percent was recorded in October. Sixty of the 100 cities saw a rise in property prices, up from 56 in October. But 38 cities experienced a fall, down from October's 42. In 10 major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, prices rose, reversing an 11-month decline. Their month-on-month growth rate hit 0.39 percent in November, 0.13 of a percentage point higher than the national average. HomeLink, a real estate agency, attributed the price increases to a rebound in market expectations. "Potential homebuyers are giving up their wait-and-see approach since they learned from the National Congress of the Communist Party of China that no new measures will be introduced to lower prices," said Chang Qing, a HomeLink analyst. [...] Sales of existing homes in Beijing, for instance, saw a strong rebound in November, with transactions hitting 14,000 units for the month, close to the August peak. The average price was 23,998 yuan per square meter, up 3.2 percent on the previous month and 6.3 percent on the same period last year, industry statistics showed. [...] Moody's believes that the regulatory environment will not change significantly in 2013. The government is unlikely to impose further regulatory restrictions to tighten the property market, because the current restrictions have been effective in discouraging speculation and reining in the price rises as a whole. [...]. ^ top ^

Consumer survey adds evidence of China soft landing, economy revival (SCMP)
Consumer sentiment in China has risen to its highest level in almost five months, a new survey showed on Tuesday, further evidence of signs of a pickup in the world's second largest economy. The MNI China Consumer Sentiment Indicator rose to 95.5 in November from 92.3 in October, marking a second straight month of gains, according to the report issued by MNI, a unit of Deutsche Boerse Group. The group said the gains were broad-based, including current personal finances, the economic outlook, and the willingness to purchase household durable goods. [...] Both current and future indicators improved in November. The current indicator rose to 98.7 from 93.6 the previous month, while expectations rose for the third consecutive month, to 93.7 from 91.6. Consumers' willingness to buy large household items rose in November to its highest since May 2011, after dropping each of the previous three months. Moreover, car purchase sentiment rose again in November, with morale improving among so-called middle-income respondents. [...] The number of consumers saying it was a good time to buy a house increased marginally in November, with the outlook for housing prices rising for the second straight month. Car purchase sentiment rose to the highest level since March, as Japanese car sales started to recover. [...]. ^ top ^

Pilot system will monitor capital flow (China Daily)
China will launch a pilot system to monitor cross-border capital flow, in a move seen as a new step toward yuan convertibility. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange said on Monday it would start a pilot program in Liaoning, Zhejiang (excluding Ningbo) and Shaanxi provinces, and Dalian city in the northeast, to update the data collection system regarding capital transactions. The program will become effective on Jan 14 and will cover all capital account business processed by foreign exchange regulators, and by banks for enterprises and individuals in the four regions. "The new system is in accordance with the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) to gradually realize yuan convertibility," the administration said. It said the system would also help to facilitate capital account transactions and better fend off risks by strengthening monitoring over cross-border capital flow. Banks and authorities will evaluate the pilot program in the last two weeks of April."Such a system is a necessary step to prepare for the opening up of the capital accounts, a goal that was stated clearly in the current five-year plan," said Zhao Xijun, deputy dean of the school of finance at Renmin University of China. The new system also requires banks to submit certain data that had previously not been collected. For instance, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's largest commercial lender by market value, will be required to hand over data related to loans and external guarantees next year. By tracking data more extensively and integrating existing systems, the administration is gradually shifting its focus from administrative control to monitoring capital, the Oriental Morning Post in Shanghai quoted an official as saying. Although China is trying to build a more comprehensive and integrated information system to pave the way for yuan convertibility, the new pilot program cannot be interpreted as indicating greater speed, Zhao said. [...] "This is not a good time for China to accelerate lifting its control of capital accounts and making the yuan more convertible, given the large scale of capital inflow into emerging markets since the US announcement of a new round of quantitative ease in September," said Danny Quah, professor at the London School of Economics and a former member of Malaysia's National Economic Advisory Council. A country must establish a sound market-oriented domestic financial system before opening up capital accounts, he said. [...]. ^ top ^

China heading for an economic downturn, economists warn (SCMP)
The mainland's double-digit economic growth of the past few decades may never be repeated, say an increasing number of economists at home and abroad. Unless Beijing carries out new economic reforms in key areas, they believe the next pattern of growth will not be so stellar, as the nation begins to lose its traditional advantages of cheap manpower, land and natural resources. [...] Issues in most need of attention are uneven income distribution and a flawed social welfare system, discriminatory residency and land policies and the breaking up of state monopolies. [...] Wu Jinglian, a senior research fellow at the State Council's Development Research Centre, said the party congress put reform back on the agenda. However, "vested interests are increasingly powerful", he said. "It would be hard to push ahead with the reforms if we cannot conquer the obstacles introduced by the interest groups." Wu did not identify the vested interests but Cheng Siwei, an economist and a former vice-chairman of the National People's Congress, criticised administrative intervention in a financial forum hosted by Caijing magazine last week. "The existence of prevalent administrative approvals creates market unfairness," Cheng said. "It is a warm bed for corruption, which partly explains why our construction and transport departments are stricken with graft incidents." [...] Firm resistance to reform is also expected from state-owned enterprises, which are favourably granted with projects and financing and enjoy monopoly in telecommunications, oil, railways and other areas. [...] Ha Jiming, a vice-chairman and chief investment strategist of the investment management division, China, at Goldman Sachs, expects Li to emphasise development and expansion in areas that "do not pose a direct or immediate challenge to the vested interests". "For example, developing capital markets and other direct financing channels to reduce reliance on bank financing, instead of encouraging private investment in the economy to reduce the influence of the existing SOEs instead of directly confronting the SOEs," Ha said. "Gradualism, instead of cold turkey, will be the tone of future reforms.". ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

North Korea completes rocket installation (SCMP)
North Korea has completed installing a long-range rocket on its launch pad, ahead of its planned launch this month in defiance of widespread international condemnation, a report said on Wednesday. All three stages of the Unha-3 rocket have been placed on the pad at the North's Sohae satellite launch station, a South Korean government source told Yonhap news agency. “Some workers are pulling out of the site,” the source said. [...] North Korea is now expected to install support equipment, such as radar and cameras, before fuelling the carrier, Yonhap said. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday urged her Nato allies and Russia to press North Korea to call off the mission. “The United States is deeply concerned about North Korea's recent announcement that it plans to carry out another rocket launch,” Clinton told a meeting of the Nato-Russia council. “We urge everyone here to publicly call upon North Korea to comply fully with its UN Security Council obligations.” [...] But analysts say the international community is running out of options for pressuring the impoverished but nuclear-armed North, which is already under layers of sanctions. [...]. ^ top ^



UN to continue cooperation with Mongolia in fighting HIV/AIDS: envoy (Xinhua)
UN representative Sezin Sinanoglu said Friday that the UN team in Mongolia will continue cooperation with the Mongolian government in fighting HIV/AIDS. At a press conference held to observe the World AIDS Day, Sinanoglu said significant progress has been made in halting and reducing HIV/AIDS worldwide in recent years. According to a 2012 AIDS report released by UNAIDS, there has been over 50 percent reduction in the rate of new HIV infections across 25 low- and middle-income countries, and more than half of the countries are in Africa, the region most affected by HIV/AIDS. However, she noted that countries in East Europe and Central Asia have witnessed increasing numbers of new HIV/AIDS cases and AIDS-related deaths. Unfortunately, Mongolia, another low-prevalence country, has experienced a similar trend with a significant increase in the cumulative number of HIV/AIDS cases from 11 in 2005 to 121 as of today, she pointed out. Sinanoglu suggested that the Mongolian government invest more money in HIV/AIDS prevention programs, improve its legal environment in protecting the rights of HIV/AIDS patients, and provide more services for the population with higher risks. D. Munkhbat, director of the Policy Department of the Mongolian Ministry of Health, said the government will further increase its investment in the HIV/AIDS prevention programs. ^ top ^

Mongolian Students Sports Federation is the best in Asia (UB Post)
The Mongolian Students Sports Federation has made Mongolian sports history by being awarded as the best Federation in Asia. During the 20th anniversary of the General Assemble of Asian University Sports Federations held in Cha-Am Thailand, the Mongolian Students Sports Federation was awarded as the best Federation. The president of the Asian University Sports Federation (AUSF), Zang Shin, handed the award to D.Jargalsaikhan, the senior official of the Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry of Mongolia. The second Asian University Beach Volleyball Championship, with the support of AUSF, will be held in Cha-Am, Thailand, from November 27th to 30th. A Mongolian team consisting of four athletes and a coach will take part in the competition. AUSF selected the Mongolian Students Sports Federation based on its past years' success and achievements.The Mongolian team successfully hosted the first Asian University Table Tennis Championships in 2008, the fourth World University Boxing Championships in 2010 and the second Asian University Women`s Volleyball Championships in 2012. ^ top ^

Snow covers 80 percent of Mongolian territory (UB Post)
The Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Light Industry of Mongolia has conducted a video conference with officials of the food and agricultural department and heads of office of 21 provinces regarding the winter preparation works and climate conditions in 21 aimags. “The summer was great. The hay and feed for the cattle is prepared well as the summer was wet and rainy. However, this winter seems already to be harsh and the provinces might suffer from winter drought” informed the delegates of 21 aimags during the video conference. This year there are 4.7 million livestock registered with 155 thousand households in Mongolia; and 4 million will spend the winter for pasturing in encampment. 95 percent of the total livestock fattened over the average this year because of the cooperative summer conditions. Also 90 percent of the total manufactured and hand harvested feed for livestock was prepared. The state feed reserve for livestock is planned to be distributed to the herders starting from the New Year. The weather condition in local areas is poor and 80 percent of the Mongolia's territory is covered with snow. Pasture grass in 7 provinces couldn't provide the feed for livestock because of the heavy snow. The weather will get colder staring from the mid of the December. Moreover the official of the Public Relations for the Department of Traffic Police Administration reported that the local roads in the Baganuur area and roads from Arkhangai to Zavkhan and Zamiin-Uud routes are blocked for an unknown period due to harsh weather conditions. He also warned drivers and passengers to follow road traffic safety rules and maintain technical upkeep during a trip to the countryside. He also stated that it is not a good idea for passengers and drivers to travel to the countryside if there is not a necessary reason. Roads in the countryside have been blocked due to sudden snow fall and difficult conditions. ^ top ^

Tavan Tolgoi seeks a way to move on (
It is widely believed that Tavan Tolgoi might yield more benefits than even Oyu Tolgoi's larger copper project when it`s development is finished. According to a study by the Economics School of the National University of Mongolia, Tavan Tolgoi potentially can produce 10 million tons of coking coal and 40 million tons of fuel coal a year. Experts say that State owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi LLC will play a big role in its development. However, the growing Mongolian economy has been hit by a slowing of the Chinese economy and a decrease of steel production therefore Mongolians see Tavan Tolgoi as a promising hope. Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi has started operations in East Tsankhi in Tavan Tolgoi while surface soil removal is planned for 2013. The newly appointed CEO of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi LLC will not hesitate to move on with development until the debt of 350 million US dollars to Chinese state owned Chalco is paid. According to an official source Erdens Tavan Tolgoi seeks a way to negotiate on a coking coal deal with Shenhua or other buyers in different countries. Ya.Batsuuri, CEO of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi said “We were in a much better condition until the company distributed free allowance to Mongolians via the Human Development Fund. Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi could have increased the production and started on the infrastructure projects. The 350 million US dollars which Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi took from Chalco as a loan were spent for the election. We should fix this condition as soon as possible. And we can see how to do this.”. ^ top ^

200 billion MNT bond approved (
The Standing Committee on the Economy in parliament discussed the Government bond that was designated to support tanneries and approved it during today`s meeting. Currently there are 35 tanneries and 178 processing factories operating in Mongolia. Herders supply 178 million skins to these tanneries. Domestic producers process only 25 percent of this supply and foreign tanneries buy 75 percent. The reason for this small national production is lack of circulating capital and in-ability to maintain enough reserves during peak time. Therefore the Standing Committee on Economy decided that the Government should issue a 200 billion MNT bond for 5 years. The Standing Committee on Economy estimates that 25,000 jobs and 460 million MNT products would be created and benefits reaped would be 1 trillion MNT. ^ 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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