Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  22-28.12.2012, No. 455  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

China firmly opposes U.S. congress defense authorization bill (Xinhua)
China voiced firm opposition on Sunday to contents concerning the country in a defense authorization bill approved by the U.S. congress. The bill contains sections relating to the Diaoyu Islands and Taiwan. In a written statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, "China is deeply concerned and firmly opposed to the contents concerning China in the 2013 Defense Authorization Act." [...] The spokeswoman also pointed out that China is firmly opposed to arms sales to Taiwan by any country, urging the politicians in the U.S. congress to abandon their cold war mentality, adhere to the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques and respect China's key national interests. […] The U.S. Senate approved the 2013 Defense Authorization Act with an 81-14 margin. It contains controversial sections relating to the Diaoyu Islands and arms sales to Taiwan. The two clauses are both written as "sense of Congress," which means they have no binding power over the president. [...]. ^ top ^

China on alert for Japanese fighter jets over East China Sea: spokeswoman (Xinhua)
China is on alert after Japan dispatched fighter jets to airspace over the East China Sea, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Tuesday. Hua Chunying made the remarks at a daily news briefing. Media reports say Japan's Air Self-Defense Force sent F-15 fighter jets to the area on Saturday to intercept a Chinese marine surveillance plane bound for the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. "As far as I know, China's marine surveillance plane you mentioned has been conducting routine patrols in airspace over the East China Sea," she said in response to a journalist's question. "The Chinese side is highly concerned with, and alert to, Japan sending the Air Self-Defense Force jets," said the spokeswoman, adding that China had lodged solemn representations to Japan over the issue. "The Chinese side will pay close attention to Japan's intentions," she added. ^ top ^

China says Egypt's new constitution a "major step" (Xinhua)
China is positive about the approval of Egypt's new constitution and wishes the country a smooth political transition, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Wednesday. At a daily press conference, Hua Chunying said, "China has taken note of the passage of Egypt's new constitution. This is a major step in the country's political transition." [...] "We expect Egypt to continue to push forward its orderly political transition and maintain political and social stability," Hua said. ^ top ^

Japanese ambassador arrives in Beijing (China Daily)
Japan's new Ambassador Masato Kitera, who arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, called himself a "Christmas present". [...] Kitera told Japan's NHK television on Monday that he will explain to China's senior officials that there is a need to develop warmer economic ties in order to stop political ties from cooling further. He will stress that Japanese corporate activities in China are contributing to the Chinese economy. [...] Not a China hand, Kitera admitted that he was shocked to be informed by Gemba that he would replace Uichiro Niwa as Japan's ambassador to China. Niwa's original replacement, Shinichi Nishimiya, collapsed and died of heart failure near his home in Tokyo two days after his appointment. Kitera joined the Japanese Foreign Ministry in 1976, but he has never been posted to China. He does not belong to the "China school" of Japanese diplomats, trained to speak Chinese and handle ties with Beijing. [...] Kitera visited all of the former Japanese ambassadors to China to ask their advice. He said he will let Niwa, who traveled a great deal in China, to be his role model, and he will communicate with as many Chinese people as possible. [...] Niwa's warning that Tokyo's plan to illegally "purchase" the disputed islands would lead to an extremely grave crisis in bilateral relations cost him the post of ambassador to China. [...]. ^ top ^

Abe unveils new cabinet (Global Times)
Shinzo Abe formally became Japan's prime minister once again on Wednesday. [...] Abe, 58, who previously served as prime minister from 2006 to 2007, has promised aggressive monetary stimulus by the Bank of Japan and big fiscal spending by the debt-laden government to fight against the deflation in which Japan's economy has been stuck for two decades. Taro Aso, also a former prime minister, was named by Abe as his deputy and finance minister. Ex-trade and industry minister Akira Amari will be the state minister in charge of economic revitalization. [...] Itsunori Onodera, 52, who was senior vice foreign minister in Abe's first cabinet, became defense minister, while Fumio Kishida, 55, a former state minister for issues related to Okinawa island, was appointed to the top diplomatic post. Both positions are seen as key in reshaping the Abe administration's foreign relations with the US, China, South Korea and Russia. "The hawkish Onodera holds a hostile stance against China in the Diaoyu Islands disputes," Zhou told the Global Times. [...] The appointment of Kishida, Zhou said, reflects Abe's desire to focus on strengthening Japan's ties with the US. China said Wednesday that it is paying close attention to the direction of Japan's foreign policy. […] Abe's agenda also includes revising Japan's pacifist constitution and rewriting Japan's wartime history with a less apologetic tone. The appointment of Akihiro Ota, a former leader of LDP's small ally New Komeito Party, as the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, is seen as a prudent choice in dealing with potential maritime collisions with China's vessels near the Diaoyu Islands. The New Komeito Party has supported a friendly Japan-China relationship. [...]. ^ top ^

China urges Japan's Shinzo Abe to meet 'halfway' over East China Sea (SCMP)
The central government yesterday called on Japan's new Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, to meet it "halfway" to try to improve relations hurt by the territorial dispute in the East China Sea. "We hope the new Japanese administration will meet the Chinese side halfway and make concrete efforts to overcome difficulties in bilateral relations," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, adding that such efforts were needed "to push bilateral relations back on to the normal track". [...]. ^ top ^

China to boost food security in Africa through various channels (People's Daily Online)
In Africa, there is a pesticide company that has been running for seven years and providing trainings for over 200,000 people. This company is Xinan Sunshine Agric Products and Trading Company (Ghana). General Manager of Xin'an Sunshine Agric Products and Trading Company (Ghana) Yan Yuting said that the company's sales revenue in 2010 was 5 million U.S. dollars, and the figure exceeded 40 million U.S. dollars in 2012. Affected by the exchange rate and drought, pesticide demand in Ghana this year fell by 20 percent, but the sales revenue of the company increased by 50 percent. CEO of Kumasi Agger Chemicals Company said that the Chinese pesticide is highly efficient, with low toxicity and residue. Safe and reliable, it is very popular with the consumers. The company not only provides affordable agricultural products to the West African farmers, but also holds hundreds training sessions for farmers as to how to use the products and plant protection skills. […] The company has been highly praised by Ghana's Ministry of Agriculture for several times. Ghanaian President Mahama once commended it for its contribution to the agricultural development in Ghana. While in assisting Africa, China and Western countries also began to cooperate with each other. China and the United Kingdom recently signed a four-year joint project agreement, aiming at increasing agricultural production in Africa. According to this agreement, the Department for International Development (DFID) will offer investment funds, whereas the Chinese experts provide agricultural technologies. "This project is China's first cooperation with Western countries to boost the development of African agriculture, a new way to safeguard food security in Africa," Professor Tong Yan'an, Secretary-General at the Secretariat Offices (China) of China-UK Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (SAIN) told the reporter. According to DFID Minister Mike Foster, China has the technologies on how to employ the limited arable land to feed such a huge population. If China and the U.K. can join hands sharing these technologies to a large extent, they would make a stride in improving global food security. In this way, the goal of reducing half of starving people in 2015 is likely to be achieved. ^ top ^

Chinese government aircraft disturbed by Japan (Xinhua)
A Chinese spokesman confirmed on Thursday that a Chinese marine surveillance plane was disturbed by Japanese military aircraft while patrolling airspace near the Diaoyu Islands. Japan's action is meant to escalate the situation, and it should bear the consequences of this action, said Shi Qingfeng, spokesman for China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA). The SOA spokesman said the Chinese government plane was conducting a routine patrol in China's undisputed airspace about 150 kilometers away from the Diaoyu Islands. ^ top ^

China pledges further cooperation with UN (Xinhua)
China on Thursday pledged to continue its close cooperation with the United Nations, as Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with Vuk Jeremic, president of the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly. Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said the world has been generally stable during the past year, although the international community still needs to engage in closer cooperation next year to maintain global peace and development.[...] Xi said China will continue to work with the UN and other countries to realize global peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit. China plays a constructive and crucial role in international affairs by adhering to principles and upholding justice, Jeremic said, citing China's efforts to support and safeguard the interests of developing nations. The U.N. attaches great importance to its cooperation with China and believes China will make greater contributions to world peace, development and prosperity, he said. Prior to the meeting, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held talks with Jeremic, exchanging views on cooperation between China and the UN and other issues of common concern. ^ top ^

China, Australia weigh joint military exercises, which may also involve US (SCMP)
Australia and China are planning joint military exercises which may also include the US as the nations work to ensure stability in the region, Canberra's defence chief said yesterday. General David Hurley told The Australian newspaper that the war games were "on the short-term horizon". The planned exercises come as the United States pushes to bolster its military might in the strategically vital Asia-Pacific region amid concerns about China's increasing assertiveness and territorial tensions with its neighbours. This includes an enhanced US naval presence in the region and the deployment of up to 2,500 marines to a barracks near the northern Australian city of Darwin. The marines contingent has irked Beijing, which has described their presence as proof of a "cold war mentality". But Canberra has been keen to reassure Beijing that the decision to allow the marines on Australian soil was not aimed at China. [...] Hurley added that he thought the Americans would also want to be involved. "When, where and in what form would be the next iteration of the discussion." [...] Antony Wong Dong, chairman of the Macau-based International Military Association, said the planned military exercises would likely be low-level and restricted to the areas of medical rescue and anti-terror co-operation, and would not involve sharing intelligence or other military resources. "But it is still going to send a positive message on regional stability and security, as it could boost mutual understanding and reduce suspicion.". ^ top ^

Domestic Policy

China considers fairer land expropriation compensation to farmers (Xinhua)
China's top legislature is considering fairer recompense for farmers whose land has been expropriated, by breaking the legal compensation ceiling and covering them with a social security package. A draft amendment to the Land Administration Law, submitted to the bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) for its first reading on Monday, addresses the outstanding problems in land expropriation. Song Dahan, director of the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, said current legal compensation methods have deficiencies including "low compensation standard, rigid regulations and a lack of guarantee for the farmers' long-term livelihood and social security." "Illegal expropriation of rural land frequently occurred in some regions. It has become a prominent problem endangering social stability," said Song when briefing lawmakers on the draft. [...] "Fair compensation" means the standard should be set by taking more factors into consideration such as the land location, supply and demand relationship, level of economic and social development, and social security fees instead of only taking into account the annual output of the land before it is expropriated, Song said. The draft amendment removes the compensation ceiling for rural collective land expropriation which says compensation and relocation subsidies should be "no more than 30 times the average annual output of the land for three years before it is taken." […] Many localities have seen compensation standards exceed the current ceiling, Song said. The draft amendment also includes fees of social security as a new form of compensation. Farmers, whose land is expropriated and with difficulties in finding a job, could enjoy preferential policies concerning professional training, employment guidance and help in looking for work, Song said. They could also get subsidies which will be added to their personal accounts to enable them to enjoy better old-age insurance, according to Song. [...] Protests over land seizures have occurred in villages across the country in recent years, prompting calls for better protection of farmers' property rights. [...] The Land Administration Law was passed by the top legislature in 1986. [...]. ^ top ^

China mulls trial to limit administrative power (Xinhua)
The top legislature is mulling a pilot reform program in south China's Guangdong Province to further limit administrative power by suspending or adjusting a list of governmental examination and approval items. The list consists of 25 examination items set by national laws, including settings for special business entities, qualifications for health care facilities for work-related illnesses and architect registration. The suspension or adjustment of local governmental examinations and approvals for such items must be authorized by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC). Once adopted, Guangdong would be given special authorization to temporarily cancel administrative approval items or assign them to authorities at lower levels, Minister of Supervision Ma Wen said while briefing legislators at a bimonthly session of the NPC Standing Committee, which opened Monday. It would also mark the first such decision made by the top legislature after the country declared that it has successfully established a socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics in March 2011, as previous authorizations were often made to address the absence of major legislation. Zhou Hanhua, an administrative law expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the arrangement will help to legitimize the reforms. [...] If the program is successful, laws will be amended to make the program universal; however, it will be terminated if unsuccessful, Ma said. According to the draft, 15 government approval items targeted for suspension will be handed over to qualified professional associations outside the government. […] On the same day, the State Council revealed the Guangdong program and specified that the program will be effective through the end of the country's 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015). ^ top ^

China convicts nearly 30,000 for IPR crimes (Xinhua)
Chinese courts convicted 29,852 people for crimes relating to intellectual property rights (IPR) from 2008 to June 2012, China's Chief Justice Wang Shengjun said Tuesday. During the period, courts received 20,596 IPR-related criminal cases and concluded 19,691, said Wang during a briefing to legislators at an ongoing bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC). In the meantime, 180,213 civil law suits were closed, including 5,670 involving foreign parties, according to Wang, president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC). The SPC is responsible to the NPC and its standing committee under the Chinese Constitution. The figure of concluded administrative trials stood at 8,749, with 1,088 resulting in revocation of government decisions, Wang said. Wang highlighted the use of mediation in IPR proceedings, noting that 66.7 percent of civil IPR cases ended up in withdrawal after mediation, including the highly attended Apple vs. Proview over the "iPad" trademark. The courts also published 43,488 pieces of IPR case judgment documents on the Internet, so as to enhance transparency of judicial work, said Wang. The 2008-2011 period also witnessed an average annual growth rate of 33.1 percent of registered IPR cases, 26.3 percentage points higher than those of regular civil disputes, according to Wang's report. China had 2,731 IPR judges working in 420 courts by June, said Wang. In response to growing difficulties in handling complex cases, Wang suggested to set up independent IPR courts, further clarify legislation on IPR proceedings and promote a culture of credit in commercial activities and social life. [...]. ^ top ^

World's longest high-speed railway debuts (Xinhua)
The world's longest high-speed rail line, which spans over half of China, began operating on Wednesday, further cementing the country's high-speed railway development ambitions. Two trains departed from stations in Beijing and Guangzhou at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively, to mark the opening of the 2,298-km line. Running at an average speed of 300 km per hour, the new route cuts travel time between Beijing and Guangzhou from over 20 hours to about eight. A total of 155 pairs of trains will run on the new line daily and alternative schedules have been made for weekends and peak travel times, according to the Ministry of Railways (MOR). There will still be 183 pairs of trains running daily on the old Beijing-Guangzhou line that runs parallel to the high-speed line, allaying concerns that the new line will increase passengers' travel costs. A second-class seat on the new high-speed line costs 865 yuan (138 U.S. dollars), while a sleeper on the old line sells for around 430 yuan. [...]. ^ top ^

Tianjin introduces organ donor legislation (China Daily)
The northern port city of Tianjin has passed the country's first regulation on organ donation to help standardize and encourage public organ donation on the mainland. The Ministry of Health and the Red Cross Society of China launched a nationwide public organ donation system about two years ago to help facilitate organ donations by the Chinese public for lifesaving transplants. […] According to Gao Shaolin, director of the legislative affairs committee of the city's top legislative body, the Tianjin Human Organ Donation Regulation will be effective from March 1, 2013. […] Under the latest regulation, those who are willing to donate their organs after death can submit a written application and register at the city's Red Cross branch and its district and county affiliates. The registration, however, can be modified or revoked, it said. Also, without such applications, donors can still donate with written consent from surviving family members. To encourage donations, the donor's immediate family will be given priority if they require an organ transplant. Civil affairs authorities will exempt donors from basic funeral expenses, it said. In addition, the city's Red Cross branch will set up a special fund to assist donors with financial difficulties. Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that about 1.5 million people in China need organ transplants, but only around 10,000 transplants are performed annually. […] The Red Cross has been commissioned by the ministry to help promote organ donations. "We're under great pressure to do the job, given deep-rooted traditional beliefs that people should keep their bodies intact after death," said Han. […]. ^ top ^

Lawmakers' proposals, suggestions handled by legislature (Xinhua)
Proposals and suggestions put forth by lawmakers during the parliament's annual session in March have all been properly handled, according to official reports delivered Wednesday to the top legislature. During the fifth session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) held in March, lawmakers across the country gave a total of 8,189 suggestions. Nearly 79 percent of the problems referred to in the suggestions have been resolved and the lawmakers have received responses about their concerns, according to a report delivered by He Yehui, vice general-secretary of the NPC Standing Committee, to the ongoing bimonthly session of the top legislature. Most of the lawmakers are satisfied with the way their suggestions were handled, He said. Regarding a suggestion tabled by lawmakers from Tibet on constructing a water conservancy project in Shigatse, the NPC agriculture committee has organized field research for the project and helped the project get approval, He said. The project has central investment of 5 billion yuan (800 million U.S. dollars) and is expected to increase rural incomes and improve the environment in Shigatse. […] Lawmakers on Wednesday said more efforts were needed to improve and protect arable land. They also voiced overwhelming support for a separate court system dedicated to cases involving intellectual property rights (IPR), an idea introduced in a Tuesday report delivered by Chief Justice Wang Shengjun. A report on the implementation of the Agriculture Law was also deliberated at the session. ^ top ^

China's bloggers must use real names under proposed law (SCMP)
New legislation governing the internet, which officials claim is aimed at combating online vigilantes and privacy breaches, is proving controversial on the mainland because it will require bloggers and bulletin board users to register using their real names. Many internet users say it is an attempt to further curb freedom of speech and have expressed concern that it could scare off many wanting to expose corrupt officials. A draft proposal to "strengthen protection of internet information ", discussed at a National People's Congress Standing Committee meeting on Monday, would oblige internet service providers to protect personal information and restrict the sending of spam text messages and e-mails. Li Fei, deputy director of the NPC's Legislative Affairs Committee, told the meeting that because of "difficulty in getting evidence and punishing the right person" in cases of online crimes, "it's necessary to strengthen regulation of the identity of internet users", state media reported. He was quoted as saying that people would be legally required to register with their real names when they signed up for platforms that released information, such as blogs, microblogs and bulletin board services. Such platforms have become a major source of anti-corruption exposés recently. Microblog users were told to register their real identities by March this year in a bid to curb "rumours and vulgarity", but that was a directive rather than a law. Official propaganda on the legislation has focused on online frauds and harassing phone calls, but more people are concerned about the basic human right of information freedom. The proposal will become law if passed by the NPC Standing Committee. The whole text was not released after Monday's discussion. [...] Professor Shen Kui, from Peking University's law school, questioned the legal reasoning behind the proposal. He said that it was not technically necessary, since the police could already bust online crimes without requiring real name registration, for example, via a user's IP address, while it could frighten off many potential whistleblowers. [...]. ^ top ^

School bus safety (Xinhua)
Monday's deadly school bus accident in Jiangxi province is a fresh example of local governments' impotence in implementing a regulation of China's Cabinet aimed at ensuring school bus safety that was promulgated in April. Three children were killed at the scene when a seven-seater van overloaded with 15 kindergarten children fell into a roadside pond in a village in Binjiang township in the city of Guixi. Eight more later died in hospital. According to media reports, the van was speeding when the accident occurred and the driver was the head of Chunlei kindergarten, which is unlicensed and has been shut down more than once by the local government. The police have detained the driver and investigations into the cause of the accident are under way. A 480,000-yuan ($77,000) compensation deal has been struck between the local government and every victim's family. However, compensation alone is not enough. Aside from the punishments that should be meted out to those who have played a role in the accident, competent departments should reflect thoroughly on the factors underlying the frequent occurrence of school bus accidents. That Peng Chun'e, the head of the unlicensed kindergarten, reportedly drove the poorly equipped vehicle herself reveals a stunning lack of awareness among some kindergarten operators of the country's explicit standards on kindergartens and school buses. It also shows that local governments have made insufficient efforts to monitor the implementation of the relevant State stipulations, a kind of dereliction of duty. [...]. ^ top ^

Guo Shengkun may be named public security minister in March (SCMP)
Former Guangxi Communist Party secretary Guo Shengkun chaired a security teleconference on Monday as party chief of the Ministry of Public Security, China News Service reported yesterday, providing further evidence that he was set to be named public security minister in March. [...] China News Service's report was the first time mainland media had mentioned Guo's new job, following his replacement in Guangxi by Peng Qinghua former head of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong. Peng was appointed Guangxi party boss on December 19. [...] Guo is set to succeed Meng, a member of the 25-member Politburo, as public security minister. He was identified as party chief of the Ministry of Public Security in a report on China News Service's website about a nationwide crackdown on drunk driving and drug driving. The report did not say when he took up the post. ^ top ^

White paper offers cure for health system (China Daily)
Despite China facing long-term challenges in providing people with high-quality medical care, particularly in rural areas, the top health authority has vowed to ease patients' economic burdens. By 2015, individual out-of-pocket medical spending will be reduced to below 30 percent from the current 34.8 percent, said Vice-Minister of Health Zhang Mao at the launch of the country's first white paper on medical and health services. The document was released by the Information Office of the State Council on Wednesday in Beijing. Citizens in many developed countries pay about 20 percent of their medical bills out of pocket, thanks to sound health insurance coverage. […] The figure in China has declined to its current level from nearly 60 percent in 2001, said the white paper. "That's largely because of increased government investment in health and medical care and ongoing medical reform which has entered a fourth year," Zhang said. [...] According to the white paper, by 2011 the reimbursement rate for hospitalization expenses under the system reached roughly 55 percent. But Zhang also conceded that medical care resources, especially those of high quality, are still in short supply in rural areas and grassroots-level health institutions. [...] In response, the government has invested more than 47 billion yuan ($7.5 billion) in the past three years to support grassroots-level hospitals. [...] Also, by 2015, the country will train 150,000 general practitioners particularly for grassroots-level hospitals, according to Zhang. ^ top ^

Analysts look for clues in leaders' family albums (SCMP)
The release of personal photographs and profiles of the Communist Party's top leaders is being seen as a step towards increased openness. But analysts are divided about whether it represents a starting point for reforms that will require officials to declare their own and families' personal assets. In the latest salvo in a charm offensive dating back to mid-November, the seven members of the party's new Politburo Standing Committee gave the public a rare glimpse of their personal and family lives, with state media releasing photographs and details of their families, breaking the long-held taboo that such information is a state secret. For three days from Sunday, the state-run Xinhua news agency released collections of photos of the seven men, including party general secretary and president-in-waiting Xi Jinping and premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang. The profiles chronicled the men's careers, from their early days working at the grass roots, with rare snapshots that traced their jobs and family lives. [...] The profiles were the first time state media mentioned Xi's and Li's family members, including Xi's folk-singer wife, Peng Liyuan, and their daughter, and Li's wife Cheng Hong, a professor of English at Capital University of Economics and Business, and their daughter. The reports failed to mention that both men's daughters are studying in the United States, with Xi's daughter at Harvard. Gu Su, a political analyst and professor of constitutional law at Nanjing University, said the reports were designed to quell anger at officials' corruption and ill-gotten gains. [...] While analysts have welcomed the release of the profiles and photographs for promoting transparency, some cautioned against over-interpreting the move as an indicator of leaders' determination to introduce meaningful change, including moving to require officials to declare their and their families' personal assets. [...]. ^ top ^

China confirms it's developing large transport aircraft (Xinhua)
China is developing Y-20 large transport aircraft to meet its military modernization drive, a Ministry of Defense spokesman said Thursday. "We are developing large transport aircraft on our own to improve the capability of air transport," spokesman Yang Yujun said at a monthly news briefing held days after photos of a Y-20 appeared online. The advanced long-range carrier is being developed to serve the military modernization drive, as well as to meet demands in disaster relief work and humanitarian aid in emergency situations, he added. The spokesman did not say when the Y-20s will be fitted out in force, only saying "the research and development of the large transport aircraft is going forward as planned." There will be a series of steps before the carriers are fitted out, "as the technology is complicated," he added. ^ top ^

Plan to limit Shenzhen-Hong Kong border crossings (SCMP)
Mainland authorities may limit the number of times Shenzhen residents can cross the Hong Kong border in a day as part of efforts to clamp down on parallel trading. An anti-smuggling office of the Guangdong government has announced that several agencies are looking into the possibility of imposing restrictions on the multiple-trip permits given to Shenzhen permanent residents, which are now unlimited. This comes after official statistics showed traders buying goods in Hong Kong for resale in Shenzhen without paying import tax make up 95 per cent of those who cross the border with the permits, with just 5 per cent being genuine tourists. It also follows protests by residents of New Territories border towns about disruption and price increases caused by the traders that led to crackdowns by Hong Kong enforcers. [...] But a spokesman for Hong Kong's Security Bureau said yesterday the proposals should be studied with caution. Their effectiveness, impact on tourists and Hong Kong's image as Asia's world city should be considered. Apart from curbs on visits, the Guangdong Provincial Maritime Defence and Anti-smuggling Office said on its website that authorities were considering a separate channel for people making multiple crossings to make baggage checks easier. [...] Another councillor, Law Sai-yan, said a limit of two trips a day by Shenzhen residents would be acceptable. Apart from parallel traders, there could be legitimate merchants needing to travel back and forth more than once a day. ^ top ^



Beijing continues to scrap polluting cars (China Daily)
The capital's initiative to rid the city of polluting vehicles has taken 458,000 old cars off the road, and the government is providing more benefits to local motorists to encourage them to scrap aging vehicles. "The campaign has not only boosted the local car market to some extent, which had been stagnant, but has also substantially improved the capital's air quality," Li Kunsheng, director of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau's department of motor vehicles, said at a news conference on Tuesday. The policy offers people who get rid of cars made in 1995 or earlier subsidies of 2,500 yuan ($390) to 14,500 yuan. Sellers who buy a new car from qualified dealers can receive up to 10,000 yuan. The bureau said the drive has proved effective in weeding out heavily polluting vehicles, and the city government will provide more benefits to motorists to get more polluting vehicles off the road. [...] "Though only 22 percent of cars on the road are more than 8 years old, they produce more than 50 percent of the automobile pollution," Li said. According to the bureau, the city has 5.19 million vehicles. The vehicles contribute 86 percent of the capital's carbon monoxide emissions, 40 percent of the hydrocarbon emissions and 56 percent of the nitric oxide emissions, said Li. [...] Removing the 458,000 old cars from the road will prevent 160,000 metric tons of pollutants, including carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, hydronitrogen and particulate pollutants, among which nitric oxide accounts for 11,000 tons. [...]. ^ top ^



Shanghai gets new mayor (China Daily)
Yang Xiong, deputy mayor of Shanghai since 2003, was promoted to acting mayor of the eastern metropolis on Wednesday. The appointment was made at a session of the city's top legislature ― the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress. The session also accepted the resignation of Han Zheng as mayor. [...] Similar to his predecessor Han, Yang, 59, has spent his entire professional life in Shanghai since 1985. He has extensive experience at government departments and State-owned enterprises in Shanghai. [...] He started his career as deputy head of a division at the municipality's economic research center. He also served at the municipal planning committee in Shanghai, a predecessor of the city's development and reform commission, which oversees economic development in the municipality. Yang was later appointed chairman of the board of Shanghai Information Investment and chairman of the board of Shanghai Airlines. He became the deputy secretary-general of the Shanghai municipal government in 2001 and was elected deputy mayor in 2003. ^ top ^

Shanghai plans to ban companies found violating food-safety laws (SCMP)
Shanghai will introduce tough new measures to blacklist firms that flout food-safety laws, Xinhua reported, a significant move to end the food scandals that in recent years have killed children. Under the proposed law, firms caught using banned substances, producing food from inedible ingredients or illegally making, selling or using banned additives will be banned from operating in Shanghai, Xinhua quoted city officials as saying. The mainland's food-safety record is abysmal. Frequent media reports refer to cooking oil being recycled from drains, carcinogens in milk and fake eggs. In 2008, milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine killed at least six children and made nearly 300,000 ill. [...] Errant businesses and company executives will be banned from operating in the city and excluded from government subsidies and preferential policies, and receive "administrative punishment at the highest level", Xinhua said, citing Gu Zhenhua, deputy director of the municipal food safety committee office. [...] Beijing pledged greater consumer protection in 2008 after the scandal over milk adulterated with melamine to pass tests of protein content. Last year, the government also cracked down on the use of cooking oil reprocessed from restaurant waste. ^ top ^



All eyes on Hu Chunhua as he takes over as Guangdong party chief (SCMP)
New Guangdong Communist Party chief Hu Chunhua is filling some big shoes, with his predecessor, Wang Yang, one of the most high-profile and outspoken politicians on the mainland. As the new head of the mainland's economic powerhouse, 49-year-old Hu will find his capabilities tested. If he passes that test, he could be rewarded with elevation to the Communist Party's supreme Politburo Standing Committee in five years. [...] Hu is also known as "Little Hu" after following in the footsteps of President Hu Jintao by building his political career through the Communist Party Youth League and time spent in Tibet. He was named a member of the 25-strong Politburo at the Communist Party's national congress last month. Hu Chunhua has vowed to maintain Guangdong's spirit of reform, something emphasised in new party general secretary Xi Jinping's recent southern tour, and strengthen cross-border collaboration with Hong Kong and Macau. […] Before being appointed Guangdong's party secretary he held the same post in Inner Mongolia. [...] Liu Kaiming, director of the Institute of Contemporary Observation, a labour rights NGO in Shenzhen, said Hu lacked the track record of outstanding political achievements necessary to impress Guangdong officials. "After spending extensive time in remote inland areas, Hu might find it hard to fit in at first in Guangdong, especially when dealing with vested interests," Liu said. "I'm not very sure about officials from remote regions because they often appear very conservative and arrogant, but Hu might be different because he's young. [...] Guangdong's economic success over the past two decades laid a solid foundation for the mainland's economic miracle. The province is still the biggest contributor to the mainland's tax revenue but has also become a hotbed of complicated social problems. With the mainland's highest concentration of migrant workers, an outspoken media and residents who are relatively aware of their rights, Guangdong has hit international headlines in the past for strikes, migrant-worker protests and peasant revolts. [...] The province's export-dependent economy has been battered by the global financial crisis, the European debt crisis and economic stagnation in the United States, dealing a blow to hopes of transformation. Guangdong's economic growth slowed to an annual rate of 7.9 per cent in the first three quarters of this year, one of its weakest performances in a decade. [...] Peng said Hu "won't make any significant breakthrough, but he probably won't drive Guangdong backwards either". ^ top ^



Lhasa's old city zone gets face-lift (Xinhua)
The city government of Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, is investing 1.2 billion yuan (196 million U.S. dollars) to upgrade infrastructure in the old urban areas. The face-lift project will cover upgrading of water supply, drainage, pipelines, electrical lines and street lamps, as well as the building of heating facilities, preservation of buildings with Tibetan architecture styles, and improvement of sanitation services. [...] "To protect the ancient temples and street, the government and cultural relics preservation authorities had joint hands to work out a delicate and scientific renovation plan, so that we can eliminate safety hazards and protect the religious sites," said Chimed Tsering, deputy head of the Chengguan District government.[...] The face-lift project is scheduled to be completed by the end of July next year. […]. ^ top ^



Foreign capital flows into Xinjiang (Xinhua)
European and U.S. businesses led the inflow in 2012 of foreign capital into northwest China's Xinjiang, eyeing its abundant resources and proximity to central Asia, industry observers say. Shanghai Volkswagen, German carmaker Volkswagen AG's joint venture in China, in December set up a its auto workshop in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, marking a step toward its plant there becoming operational next year with an annual output of 50,000 vehicles. Hu Maoyuan, chairman of SAIC Motor Corp. and Shanghai Volkswagen, said the company wants to explore the booming western China and central Asia markets. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Xinjiang reached 396 million U.S. dollars in the first 11 months of this year, up 30.8 percent from a year earlier, according to the regional government's commerce bureau. [...] "Xinjiang is striving to lay a good foundation for cooperation with the world's leading companies to advance businesses," said He Yiming, head of Xinjiang's commerce bureau. It provides an easy access to markets in the Eurasian heartland, with Russia, India, Pakistan, Mongolia and four other central Asian countries on a borderline extending 5,600 km. With 17 state-level open ports, two international airports and extensive roads and railways linking with its neighbors to the west, the region has become the bridgehead in the country's fresh westward opening-up drive, He said. [...] Covering about one-sixth of China's land mass, the remote and formerly backward border region of Xinjiang holds abundant resources such as oil, coal and natural gas. Pipelines transporting gas from central Asia enter China through Xinjiang. Executives of global mining giant Rio Tinto visited Xinjiang in July to look for opportunities for cooperation. United States-based Peabody Energy is involved in the geological inspection of one of the region's largest integrated coalfields in order to advance an open-pit coal mine project that is expected to produce 50 million tonnes of coal every year. He Yiming said the influx of foreign capital proves Xinjiang has finally built a competitive industrial base, improved government services, and established a much more convenient transportation network. […] The region has added four state-level economic and technical development zones to its original 15 and a border economic cooperation zone. The two special zones of Kashgar and Korgas set up at the end of 2011 provide favorable policies ranging from tax exemptions, subsidized electricity and transportation, to low-interest loans for infrastructure. ^ top ^



56 arrested in anti-triad raids on Christmas Eve (SCMP)
Police have arrested 56 suspected triad members in several raids, including two at upscale bars, on the night of Christmas Eve. […] In all, 22 men and 10 women were arrested. A small dose of drugs was seized as well. […] The youngest suspect arrested was 17 years old. After the Tsim Sha Tsui operation, police also searched several other locations and arrested 24 people. Au believed they had busted several branches of triad gangs. Triad members sold drugs around the clock by using private cars to deliver them to entertainment establishments, said police in a preliminary investigation. Meanwhile, police said they also uncovered a triad gang's armoury on the rooftop of a building in Kowloon. They seized 16 metal pipes and five beef knives and other weapons allegedly used in triad campaigns to expand power in the district, Au said. ^ top ^

Veterinary surgeon shortage 'poses threat to public health' (SCMP)
A severe shortage of veterinary surgeons in Hong Kong is hitting farmers and posing a threat to public health. The crisis has been caused by a lack of veterinary training in the city and the fact that more than 90 per cent of the 400-plus vets practising in Hong Kong care for household pets. The issue has emerged at a time when the World Health Organisation (WHO) is warning of a mounting threat to humans from animal-related diseases. Veterinarian and infectious disease specialist Howard Wong Kai-hay said: "Hong Kong may be one of the few places in the world where we raise livestock and produce meat without [the supervision of] veterinarians. [...] The WHO warned recently that 70 per cent of emerging diseases were animal-related. [...] With no veterinary school, local people wanting to pursue the career must train overseas and many stay to practise in the country of their qualifications. Of 650 vets registered in the city, only about 400 practise here. This means there are just 68 veterinarians per 1 million population, compared to 281 in Japan and 332 in Australia. Adding to the pressure is a growing trend for pet ownership with the numbers surging 40 per cent to 415,000 last year. Agriculture and fisheries lawmaker Steven Ho Chun-yin said: "There are not enough vets in the city and most vets are keener to run private pet clinics than work on the farm." Ho said most of the 70 local farms were without resident veterinarians for their average daily output of 255 pigs and 10,300 live chickens. If there is an outbreak of disease, farmers have to alert the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), which will send a veterinarian. But Ho said a resident vet would be able to detect early symptoms that farmers might not identify. City University, which wants to establish the city's first veterinary school in 2014 - including a training farm, hospital and laboratory - submitted a new proposal to the University Grants Committee on December 10. It will be considered in January. [...]. ^ top ^

Government releases six more sites for flats to meet promises (SCMP)
The government moved closer towards fulfilling its promise to provide land for 20,000 private flats a year with its announcement that six more sites would be put up for sale before the end of this financial year. But uncertainty about future land reserves, including railway sites for property developments, has cast doubt on the pledge in the long run. The announcement on Monday by Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po seemed timed to appear as a Christmas gift to Hongkongers yearning for affordable flats. The six sites - two at Kai Tak and one each in Tseung Kwan O, Ho Man Tin, Sha Tin and Tuen Mun - are expected to be released in the fourth quarter of this financial year and eventually provide about 3,000 flats. [...] The pledge of land for 20,000 flats a year over the next 10 years was made by former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in his 2010 policy address.[...] City University real restate specialist Dr Lawrence Poon Wing-cheung said he saw no difficulty in achieving the target this year. "But I'm worried about the year after 2013, especially when the government is having a hard time pushing through new developments in the Northeastern New Territories and generating land through reclamation," Poon, a spokesman for the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, said. [...] With conflicts involving developers and villagers in the New Territories and reclamation taking about eight years, meeting the annual target could be a daunting task, experts say. ^ top ^

Number of quality migrant applicants rises 10pc in Hong Kong (SCMP)
Hong Kong has seen an increase of nearly 10 per cent in the number of well-qualified people who want to live here, says the Immigration Department. Most of those approved were from the mainland. In the first 11 months of the year, 1,834 people applied for admission under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme - 9.5 per cent more than in the whole of last year - the department said. Since 2006, the department has approved 2,392 applications - 77.6 per cent of them from the mainland. The programme was set up to attract highly qualified people without the prior offer of employment required for a normal working visa. The city issued 30,557 visas last year under the general employment policy. [...] Immigration figures show that more than half of those admitted as quality migrants were working in industries already well developed, such as finance, accounting, information technology, trading and commerce. Mo said Hong Kong should admit quality migrants in areas where talent was scarce, such as the cultural and scientific sectors, to avoid competition with locals. [...]. ^ top ^

'Chinese Hong Kong citizens' feel stronger sense of belonging, poll finds (SCMP)
More people see themselves as both Chinese and Hong Kong citizens, while the overall sense of belonging to the city is at its strongest since the former British colony returned to China 15 years ago, a poll showed. Academics attributed the change to the recent discussions on national education and Hong Kong's autonomy, which they said might have deepened the feeling of integration between Hong Kong and the mainland. [...] The survey by the University of Hong Kong asked about 1,000 respondents to rate the strength of their ethnic identity. Almost half of the respondents, or 49 per cent, see themselves as "Chinese Hong Kong citizens", up 15 percentage points from a same survey six months ago. The figure is the highest since the handover. [...] In comparison, about 27 per cent of respondents now see themselves only as "Hong Kong citizens", marking a sharp drop of 19 percentage points from the survey six months ago. [...] Another political scientist, James Sung Lap-kung of City University, added: "They [Hong Kong people] are becoming aware that the city's affairs are not in entire control of Hongkongers. It [Hong Kong] is inseparable from China.". ^ top ^



Taiwan authorities hold hearing on lifting mainland post ban (Xinhua)
Taiwanese businesspeople on Friday urged the island's authorities to lift the ban on Taiwanese people holding public posts in the Chinese mainland. Taiwan's legislative authorities on Friday held a public hearing on an amendment to the regulation on relations of the people across the Taiwan Strait. About a dozen representatives of those doing business on the mainland were invited to offer suggestions. Mark Yeh, executive vice chairman of the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland (ATIEM) and a specially invited member of the Guangdong provincial committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said at the public hearing that Taiwanese businessmen can assist in the handling of issues involving Taiwan people through channels provided by the CPPCC system. [...] Tseng Chan-jaw, executive vice chairman of the ATIEM and chairman of the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises in Xiamen, Fujian Province, said Taiwanese businesspeople can participate in the discussion of political affairs on the mainland through the CPPCC system. Tseng added that they can also join the major political sessions in the mainland each year. This will help them to better understand the mainland's policies, which is conducive to the development of Taiwanese businesses on the mainland. […] Citing the regulation, authorities in Taiwan ban Taiwanese people from holding public posts in the mainland. However, the regulation can accommodate those taking posts as specially invited members at different levels of CPPCC committees. [...] Published in 1992, the regulation is used by Taiwanese authorities to deal with issues concerning cross-Strait exchanges in economic, trade, cultural and other fields. It has gradually become outdated, as cross-Strait relations have witnessed significant developments in recent years. [...]. ^ top ^

Taiwan drops graft charges against former top officials (SCMP)
Taiwanese prosecutors said on Wednesday they had decided to drop charges against two former top officials in a corruption case involving nearly US$30 million embezzled from the government. A businessman had accused former vice premier Chiou I-jen and former foreign minister James Huang of “splitting” the diplomatic fund with him in 2006 under the island's previous government. However, prosecutors said in a statement that there was insufficient evidence to prove that “Chiou and Huang took any actions to embezzle the public fund or colluded or collaborated with the businessmen”. Chiou and Huang resigned in May 2008 over the scandal in which two businessmen allegedly pocketed the money earmarked to help diplomatically-isolated Taiwan forge official ties with Papua New Guinea. The businessmen were entrusted with the money by the foreign ministry as they claimed to have good connections with officials in the Pacific nation but allegedly made no progress in bringing about ties. One of the businessman, who made the accusation, is serving a jail term on embezzlement and forgery convictions in the same case, while the other is believed to have fled to the United States. Taiwan and China long accused each other of using generous financial packages to woo each other's diplomatic allies away until ties improved markedly after the island's Beijing-friendly government took power in 2008. ^ top ^



Home buying limits to be extended: housing minister (Global Times)
The policy of limiting home purchases in major Chinese cities will be extended next year as part of the government's determination to cool the property sector, Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development Jiang Weixin said Tuesday. [...] Recent data has showed that home prices in some cities have begun to rebound, so "a limit on purchasing should not be loosened as it is the most important way to contain property speculation," Liu said.[...] Among 70 major cities monitored by the National Bureau of Statistics, 53 saw a month-on-month rise in home prices in November, up from 35 in October. [...] Although the policy of limiting home purchases has been in place for around two years, a decline in home prices, while long-hoped for by ordinary citizens, has been nowhere to be seen, especially in big cities. "A sudden price decline is unlikely in China as the demand for apartments is huge, and urbanization will be an unavoidable trend in the coming decades," Liu said. [...] Even though the central government is determined to curb the property market, many cities, whose revenue depends heavily on land sales and housing development projects, have done a poor job of enforcing the limits, analysts said. "Actually in some second and third tier cities like Changsha and Shijiazhuang, the policy of limiting home purchases was only implemented in downtown areas," Chen Baocun, a deputy director of the research institute with the National Real Estate Managers Association, told the Global Times Tuesday. Chen said a limit on purchasing should not be a long-term policy, since this would be contrary to the basic principle of the market economy, and that comprehensive reform of the country's land and real estate market is urgently needed. During the period when purchasing limits are implemented, the central government could take further strict measures to resolve the key issues in the property market, such as developers stockpiling land without developing it in order to wait for land and housing prices to rise, Liu of Centaline China said. "Setting up a healthy stock market and offering more financial investment products could also ease people's enthusiasm for property speculation," Liu said. [...]. ^ top ^

Govt gets hands out of coal market (Global Times)
In what an expert called Tuesday "the most significant reform yet in the energy sector," China's cabinet announced Tuesday it would cancel government intervention in coal prices for power generation, in a bid to further drive coal and power market reform necessary to ensure stable power generation and supply in the country. Starting January 1 2013, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's economic planner, will no longer impose prices on coal and power producers, according to a statement posted on NDRC's official website Tuesday.[...] Coal accounts for about 70 percent of power production and consumption. These new measures will help solve the confrontation between coal supplier and power producers and ensure a stable supply of power, he said. Coal price contracts are currently signed at an annual meeting organized by the NDRC and the industry associations. Coal suppliers have to sell a certain quantity to power companies at government-guided prices which are sometimes far below or above the market price. If the market price is higher than the contract price, coal suppliers are reluctant to sign the contract, leading to shortfalls in the coal supply. "The oversupply of coal will not change after the reform, and competition will lead to lower price," said Li Chaolin, a senior coal market expert. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing mulls plan to boost debt market (SCMP)
Beijing is weighing the introduction of a depository receipt system in the country's bond market to direct a part of the debt currently traded on the interbank market to the domestic stock exchanges. The National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors, a government-backed syndicate under the central bank, is leading the feasibility studies on the planned liberalisation, according to state-run Shanghai Securities News. The move is expected to boost bond trading on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, as part of Beijing's efforts to create a mammoth integrated bond market to aid fundraising by companies. [...] Under the depository receipt system, bond holders transfer the debt to a custodian bank, which sells them on the stock exchanges. The new system would help the regulators integrate the two domestic bond markets, analysts said. [...] The depository receipt system will not be launched until it receives approval from the State Council, according to the Shanghai Securities News. At present, the Shanghai-based interbank market plays a dominant role in bond trading. Some 22.2 trillion yuan (HK$27.3 trillion) of treasury and corporate bonds are traded on that market, says Chinabond, the country's bond clearing house. Individual investors are barred from buying debts on the interbank market, where only institutions such as banks, brokerages and non-financial companies are allowed to take part in trading. Retail investors can only buy bonds listed on the two stock exchanges. [...] The CSRC also plans to allow foreign companies to sell yuan-denominated bonds on the Shanghai exchange. The mainland's bond market is off-limits to overseas firms at present. Beijing began a pilot scheme in 2005, allowing a handful of foreign financial institutions to offer so-called panda bonds on the interbank market. ^ top ^

China's external debt hits $770.83 bln (Xinhua)
China's outstanding external debt amounted to 770.83 billion US dollars as of the end of September, the country's foreign exchange regulator said Thursday. The amount fell from the 785.17 billion US dollars recorded at the end of June and does not include the outstanding external debts of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), the Macao SAR and Taiwan, according to a statement on the website of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. Outstanding long- and medium-term foreign debt stood at 198.02 billion US dollars by the end of September, while the figure for short-term foreign debt was 572.82 billion US dollars, the statement said. Of the total outstanding external debt, registered external debt reached 471.33 billion US dollars, while the balance of trade credit between enterprises amounted to 299.5 billion US dollars. In terms of currency structure, debt in US dollars accounted for 77.45 percent of the outstanding registered external debt, down 0.32 percentage points from the end of June. Euro-denominated foreign debt accounted for 7.3 percent, down 0.21 percentage points from the end of June, while debt in Japanese yen took up 7.27 percent, compared with 6.99 percent in June, according to the statement. China accrued medium- and long-term external debt amounting to 30.99 billion US dollars in the first nine months, and it repaid 23.43 billion US dollars in principal and 1.75 billion US dollars in interest during the period. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

American detained for "crime against DPRK" (Xinhua)
A U.S. citizen was detained in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for committing a crime against the country, the official KCNA news agency said Friday. Pae Jun Ho, the American, entered the DPRK's Rason City on Nov. 3 as a tourist, and he has admitted the crime, which was proved by evidence, it said. Pae was detained by "a relevant institution" and is facing "legal actions," it said. Officials of the Swedish embassy, which represents U.S. interests in the country, visited him on Friday, according to the report. ^ top ^

ROK: Debris shows DPRK missile technology (Xinhua)
South Korea's defense ministry says an examination of the debris of the DPRK's rocket launched earlier this month shows the country looks to have developed the technology needed to deliver a warhead with a range of more than 10,000 kilometers. This may put the US west coast under the DPRK missile threat. The South Korean Ministry says studies of the DPRK rocket's oxidizer tank, which was retrieved from the Yellow Sea last week, suggests the launch was aimed more at testing missile technology. Defense Ministry Official said, "As a result of analysing the material of the DPRK's Unha-3 rocket, we judge the country has secured a range of more than 10,000 kilometers with a warhead of 500-600 kilograms." The official also says the rocket used red fuming nitric acid, which most other countries don't use as an oxidizing agent. Red fuming nitric acid, which can be stored for a long time at a normal temperature, is often used by some countries such as the DPRK and Iran to make missiles. […]. ^ top ^

China trade with North Korea nearly triples in four years (SCMP)
North Korea's trade with China has nearly tripled since 2007, data published by South Korea showed on Thursday, underlining the isolated state's deepening dependence on its only major ally. Bilateral trade jumped from US$1.97 billion in 2007 to US$5.6 billion last year, Statistics Korea said, with North Korean exports accounting for US$2.44 billion against imports from China of US$3.16 billion. Statistics Korea releases the annual data based on figures from trade and economic organisations at home and abroad. The North does not report economic data. Trade with China as of last year accounted for 70.1 per cent of the North's entire trade of US$8.0 billion, up from 41.7 per cent in 2007. During the same period, trade with South Korea – the North's second-biggest partner – fell from US$1.79 billion to US$1.71 billion. Cross-border relations have been on ice since outgoing President Lee Myung-bak, known for his hawkish stance towards the communist North, took office in 2008. Lee suspended humanitarian aid to the North in 2010 and tied any resumption to progress on resolving the issue of Pyongyang's nuclear programme. Inter-Korea commerce, which accounted for 38 per cent of the North's total trade in 2007, was down to 21 per cent last year. Apparently fearful of the consequences of North Korea collapsing, China has pumped in fuel and aid to its neighbour for years. [...]. ^ top ^



Rio Tinto commissions largest copper concentrator to Mongolian mine (Xinhua)
Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto commissioned its largest copper concentrator to the gold-copper deposit Oyu Tolgoi in the southern Gobi region in Mongolia on Thursday. Mongolian Mining Minister Davaajav Gankhuyag attended the commission ceremony, according to a press release of Oyu Tolgoi. "From the signing of the investment agreement to activating the concentrator, Oyu Tolgoi's progress has been remarkable," said Rio Tinto Mongolia manager Cameron McRae. "We are doing more than just constructing the most technologically advanced mine in Mongolia's history. We are also helping to usher in a new wave of economic development." The Oyu Tolgoi mine has an estimated deposit of more than 31 million tons of copper, 1,328 tons of gold and about 7,000 tons of silver. The project was on the verge of becoming a world-class mine. ^ top ^


Anna Boffo
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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