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
  26.1-1.2.2013, No. 460  
Startseite / Homepage   Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea


^ top ^


Foreign Policy

Sansha taking shape with projects (China Daily)
Sansha authorities vowed to accelerate the construction of infrastructure and a series of projects that were expected to be finished this year. "Within the year, we will finish the operation of the first phase of the new port of Yongxing Island, a seawater desalination plant, a sewage treatment plant and a garbage collection and transfer system," Xiao Jie, mayor of Sansha, said at the annual session of the Hainan provincial people's congress on Sunday. The desalination plant, approved by the provincial development and reform commission, will process 1,000 cubic meters of seawater a day, supplying fresh water to nearby islets, reefs and ships. A new supply ship, the Sansha No 1, will be completed in early 2014 to help transport much-needed materials to the island, Xiao added. [...] Xiao declined to disclose the total investment in Sansha's construction in 2013, but the city's first 28 infrastructure projects cost nearly 24 billion yuan ($3.81 billion), the Sansha government said in September. "Sansha is entering a period of booming development that is being closely followed by the country and the Hainan government," said Wu Shicun, director of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies. Xiao said Sansha authorities will try to get maximum support from the central government in policy and finance for its development. [...] Besides infrastructure construction, local authorities will further develop the marine economy in the South China Sea this year. According to the report released by the provincial development and reform commission on Monday, a South China Sea fishing fleet will be established with 200 fishing boats to fish in the waters surrounding Sansha. [...] Sansha was established in late July to administer more than 200 islets, sandbanks and reefs in the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and the 2 million sq km of surrounding waters. ^ top ^

Chinese official expresses support for Brunei's ASEAN presidency (Xinhua)
Defense Minister Liang Guanglie on Monday expressed support for Brunei regarding its holding rotating presidency of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2013. Liang made the remarks while meeting with Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan, major general of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces. Liang said China and ASEAN enjoy important common interests in the region, and is ready to give full support for Brunei regarding its holding ASEAN rotating presidency in 2013. Liang said China hopes to make joint efforts with ASEAN countries to increase mutual trust and make contributions to regional peace, stability and prosperity. Aminuddin said his country's military attaches great importance to developing relations with the Chinese military and will continue to strengthen communication and cooperation between the two sides. ^ top ^

China's anti-missile test successful: govt (Global Times)
China's second ground-based mid-course missile interceptor successfully completed an anti-missile test within Chinese territory on Sunday, hours after the US conducted a test flight of its own missile interceptor. There were no details available on China's test except for the official announcement that "the test has reached the preset goal" and is "defensive in nature." It was the second time that China announced such an anti-missile test. A similar test was successfully conducted on January 11, 2010. Ground-based mid-course anti-missile tests, which involve highly complicated technology in detecting, tracking and destroying a ballistic missile flying in space, have only been attempted by China and the US. [...] A ballistic missile's mid-course phase begins after its engines burn out and the warhead begins coasting in space. After mid-course, the warhead of long-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles will re-enter the atmosphere with a velocity of about 20 times the speed of sound, making it very difficult to intercept with current terminal-phase interception systems, according to Lan Yun, a military observer and editor with Modern Ships magazine. Shao Yongling, a senior colonel from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Second Artillery Command College, told that China's ground-based mid-course interception test was aimed at intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the test's technical requirements were much higher than that of short- to medium-range missile defense systems. According to Russia's Ria Novosti News Agency, the US Ground-Based Mid-course Defense (GMD) has a maximum interception altitude of 1,500 kilometers and interception range of 4,000 kilometers. In comparison, the US' terminal-phase interceptor Patriot PAC-3, which was used to defend Japanese territory during North Korea's controversial rocket launch last year, only has about 15 kilometers of maximum operational ceiling. "China is still far from forming an operational anti-missile shield, as the US has carried out at least 16 interception tests and China has only done two so far. Even the US GMD is far from mature," Lan said. "The initial tests may focus on the performance of the interceptor itself. A complete system will include not only land-based radars and interceptors, but also a surveillance satellite network, sea-based radar systems and a complete command and control center," Lan said. [...]. ^ top ^

China hopes for no more Huangyan Islands conflicts: FM (Xinhua)
The current situation around the Huangyan Islands has remained stable and China hopes there are no more conflicts concerning the issue, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Monday. Hong's remarks came at a routine press conference after reports quoted Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III as saying that he could not allow China to claim effective control over the Huangyan Islands, as doing so could encourage China to continue to move into the resource-rich Liyue Tan, also known as the Reed Bank. "The Huangyan Islands are an indisputable part of Chinese territory," Hong said, noting that the issues concerning the islands last year were caused by Philippine military vessels harassing Chinese fishermen and fishing boats. Hong also stressed that China has a clear stance on the Liyue Tan, which is a part of the Nansha archipelago in the South China Sea. "China has undisputed sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and neighboring sea," Hong reiterated, calling on the two sides to resolve the disputes via bilateral negotiation and consultation, which, according to Hong, all parties have unanimously agreed upon. [...]. ^ top ^

China urges peace amid Japanese defense budget increase (Xinhua)
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Monday urged Japan to stick to the path of peaceful development after Japan announced it will increase the country's defense budget. "Owing to historical reasons, any move taken by Japan in the military area will draw great attention from neighboring countries," spokesman Hong Lei told a daily press briefing. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Sunday said Japan's yearly defense budget will expand by 40 billion yen (440 million U.S. dollars), or about 0.8 percent, starting from April. "We hope the Japanese side will stick to the path of peaceful development, respect the concerns of countries in the region, take history as a mirror and do more things conducive to regional peace and stability," Hong said. Onodera announced the plan to beef up Japan's defense budget as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe voiced his willingness to improve relations with China through dialogue. Media reports speculate that the budget rise is aimed at dealing with Chinese ships and planes. "We have noted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's relevant remarks," Hong said, adding that the Chinese government has not changed its policy of attaching importance to its ties with Japan, as the two countries are close neighbors important to each other. Under the current circumstances, the two sides should shoulder national and historical responsibilities as well as display political wisdom to overcome the prominent difficulties and advance the strategic, mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries in line with the "four political documents," said the spokesman. The documents -- the China-Japan Joint Statement on Comprehensively Advancing Strategic and Reciprocal Relations, the Sino-Japanese Joint Statement, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship and the Sino-Japanese Joint Declaration -- were signed by the two sides in 1972, 1978, 1998 and 2008, respectively. "We hope the Japanese side will make joint efforts with China to appropriately control and resolve problems through practical action," Hong added. ^ top ^

Xi says China will not waive its legitimate international rights (SCMP)
Communist Party chief Xi Jinping said China would never waive its legitimate rights on the international stage but vowed that the nation would stick to its peaceful development path. Xi made the comment as relations between Beijing and Tokyo remained strained amid a territorial dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea. Xi's remarks also came as hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a high-level bilateral summit and former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama continued his China tour, meeting Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Politburo member Li Yuanchao. A member of Murayama's delegation said Li expressed concern that some Japanese politicians had rejected an important speech made by Murayama as Japanese prime minister in 1995, when he said Japan had caused tremendous damage to the people of many countries. Speaking at a Politburo study session on Monday, Xi said China would never pursue development by harming other countries' interests, Xinhua reported yesterday. Xi added that other countries should also follow this development path. "We will never sacrifice our core national interests," he said. "No country should presume that we will compromise over our core interests, or that we will swallow the 'bitter fruit' of harming our sovereignty, security or development interests." Both China and Japan have stepped up diplomatic efforts to ease tensions over the disputed Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan. [...] In remarks that suggested that Beijing did not want an armed clash with Tokyo, a senior People's Liberation Army officer said yesterday that China would never initiate maritime conflict. "China will not provoke maritime confrontations. Global security is facing a lot of problems and China believes that peaceful dialogue is the best way to settle disputes," Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff of the PLA, said in a meeting with a delegation led by Rick Larsen, of the Congressional US-China Working Group. ^ top ^

German bank ends ties over death penalty (Global Times)
Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, on Monday said it will end cooperation with China on anti-counterfeiting, due to the country's use of the death penalty for note forgers. "The Bundesbank wants to make sure it doesn't give advice on the subject of counterfeiting to countries that impose the death penalty for money forgery," said a spokesman for the Frankfurt-based central bank on Saturday, according to the Deutsche Welle report. Analysts say it is not appropriate to jeopardize bilateral cooperation in other fields due to an anti-death penalty stance. "The move has little effect in forcing China to abandon the death penalty, and was just made under domestic pressure," said Chen Zhimin, deputy director of the Centre for European Studies at the Shanghai-based Fudan University. The announcement came after a report in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, which accused the Bundesbank of supporting Chinese officials in combating forgery, after a forger named Wu Shengyou was sentenced to death for producing millions of counterfeit banknotes in China on June 2012. "But it's improper to expand the disagreement on the death penalty into cooperation in other fields, especially given the current economic situation in Germany," Chen said. [...] The German central bank was criticized by Human Rights Watch, whose German branch director Wenzel Michalski said in Die Zeit's report that "the central bank only insists on its principles with countries such as Bangladesh, but becomes servile to strong powers such as China." [...] The use of the death penalty in China has been long debated since the country joined the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1998, which regulates that the death penalty should only be imposed on those who commit the most serious crimes. However, according to the Criminal Law of China, 55 kinds of crimes are punishable by death, a decrease of 13 since it was amended in early 2011. "We can see that China is progressing in abandoning the death penalty, which should be fully abolished ultimately," said Mo Shaoping, a prominent defense lawyer based in Beijing, adding the improvement was mostly due to increasing pressure from the international community, "However, we should also be aware that it is not practical to abolish it now." Mo said that death penalty is rooted in the public as a traditional notion and has acted as a deterrent to potential criminals. ^ top ^

China willing to consolidate trust with ROK (China Daily)
China is willing to further consolidate mutual trust with the Republic of Korea and work together to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia, a senior Chinese leader said on Jan 29. The new Chinese leadership highly values the relationship between China and the ROK, and would like to improve communication and coordination in international and regional affairs with the ROK, said Wu Bangguo, China's top legislator. He made the remarks while meeting his counterpart, Kang Chang-hee, speaker of the ROK's National Assembly, at the sideline of the ongoing 21st Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum held in the Russian Far East city of Vladivostok. Kang said the ROK speaks highly of the constructive role that China plays in international and regional affairs, and would like to further strengthen communication and trust with China. While meeting Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang, president of the Senate of Malaysia, on Tuesday, Wu said relations between China and ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) plays an important role in achieving peace and growth in Asia. [...] Wu also met Pany Yathotou, president of the Lao National Assembly, on Tuesday and expressed wishes to consolidate friendship and cooperation with the Lao PDR. Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, arrived in Vladivostok on Jan 27 for the parliamentary forum meeting. It is the first time a Chinese top legislator has gone abroad to attend the forum since its founding in 1993. Wu is scheduled to leave Vladivostok for Ulan Bator on Jan 30 to start the first official visit of a top Chinese legislator to Mongolia in 16 years. ^ top ^

China upbeat over Kerry's prospects as top diplomat (Global Times)
Veteran US Senator John Kerry Tuesday sailed through a Senate confirmation for his nomination as secretary of state to replace Hillary Clinton. Analysts expect the new top US diplomat's extensive diplomatic experience and skills to boost mutual understanding between China and the US and reinforce bilateral ties against the backdrop of Washington's pivot to Asia. Kerry, 69, could be sworn in as secretary of state as early as Friday, when Clinton is scheduled to step down. [...] Ruan Zongze, a deputy director with the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that compared with Clinton's tough diplomatic approach, Kerry, as a "moderate" Democrat, is expected to stress the role of bilateral or multilateral dialogues. Ni Feng, a deputy director with the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that during Obama's first term, US foreign policy was largely dominated by Clinton. But with Kerry taking over the post, his diplomatic measures will greatly embody Obama's concepts. Speaking at his confirmation hearing to a Senate panel on January 24, Kerry said it was "critical" to strengthen the relationship with China, hoping that the new Chinese leadership will also recognize the need to "sort of broaden the relationship with us in return." "China is cooperating with us now on Iran. I think there might be more we could perhaps do with respect to North Korea," he said. [...] In last week's hearing, Kerry appeared to rule out any move toward a further increase to the US military force in the Asia-Pacific region. "I'm not convinced that increased military ramp-up is critical yet," Kerry said, adding that if confirmed he wanted to "dig into this a little deeper" and try a thoughtful approach. "We have a lot more bases out there than any other nation in the world, including China today," he argued, saying the Chinese must be wondering, "What's the United States doing? They trying to circle us? What's going on?" Kerry asked. Ruan said the new secretary of state will carry forward the strategy of the pivot to Asia, but unlike his predecessor, who only focused on the military, Kerry is likely to adopt diverse measures to build up its presence in this region, including economic and cultural strengthening. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing hopes to meet Tokyo 'halfway' in spat (China Daily)
Beijing called on Tokyo on Wednesday to "create conditions" for improving strained relations, in response to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's proposal for a bilateral summit. China attaches importance to developing relations with Japan and hopes to meet Japan "halfway" to get ties back on track, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wednesday. Following visits to China by a succession of prominent Japanese politicians, more tangible measures are expected from the Japanese government before the timing of a top leaders' meeting can be discussed, observers said. During an appearance on Japan's Nippon Television on Tuesday night, Abe said it is necessary to "re-establish the relationship, starting with a summit". Although he said high-level talks are needed for the problems the two countries are facing, the prime minister, known for his hawkish style, reiterated that the territorial issue is non-negotiable. Despite normalized ties for more than 40 years, political stability had not been ensured between the two neighbors since the impasse flared, and the heated fray has dragged economic ties into turbulence, said Jiang Ruiping, a Japanese studies expert and vice-president of China Foreign Affairs University. "Both sides are expected to expand shared interests and exert positive energy into bilateral relations," Jiang said. [...] Without Tokyo's determination to face up to the problems, it is virtually impossible to make a breakthrough in restoring relations. The Japanese coast guard is considering deploying another 10 patrol vessels in the country's southwestern Okinawa prefecture over the Diaoyu Islands situation, Japan's Okinawa Times newspaper confirmed on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, three China Marine Surveillance ships continued their regular patrols in the territorial waters surrounding the islands, China's State Oceanic Administration said. "If the islands standoff continues for a long time in the future, both sides should reach a new consensus in crisis management to avoid tensions," said Zhang Tuosheng, a researcher at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies. Abe made the proposal to hold a leader summit on the same day that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Tuesday met with Japanese guests, including former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama. Yang said that at "such a critical juncture" for China-Japan relations, both countries should properly handle tensions over the Diaoyu Islands on the basis of previous understandings and with a responsible attitude toward history. [...]. ^ top ^

China opposes taking sea disputes to the United Nations (Xinhua)
China has reiterated its opposition to the Philippines' request of taking South China Sea disputes to a UN tribunal, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday. Responding to a question at a daily news briefing, spokesman Hong Lei said, "China disagrees with the move that goes against the consensus (reached before)." China signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) with members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2002. According to the declaration, relevant disputes should be solved through friendly talks and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned. Hong made the remarks after Chairman of U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ed Royce, met with Philippine officials on Tuesday. Royce said that China should agree to face the Philippines before a U.N. arbitration tribunal to avoid regional turbulence. During the briefing, Hong said he had made clear China's stance on the Philippines' demand to go to arbitration last week. [...] Hong said all countries signing the DOC should adhere to their commitments and that relevant disputes should be solved through negotiations between sovereign states directly involved. China has always been committed to addressing disputes with the Philippines through bilateral consultations and negotiations so as to safeguard bilateral relations and regional peace and stability, Hong said, adding that it showed China's utmost goodwill and sincerity. The spokesman said that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters in the South Sea and that it has consistently opposed the Philippine illegal occupation of some islets and reefs of the Nansha Islands. ^ top ^

Vice Premier stresses common interests between China, U.S. (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday that China and the United States, the biggest developing and developed countries, should work together for their respective core and common interests. Li made the remarks in Beijing during a meeting with a U.S. Congress delegation headed by Ed Royce, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Taking their respective core interests into consideration forms the basis for the boom of China-U.S. relations, Li said, urging the two to further increase mutual trust and manage their differences and disputes. On the other hand, the expansion of common interests helps consolidate the foundation of bilateral relations, Li said. To manage well the two types of interests is key to developing the two countries' cooperative partnership featuring mutual respect and mutual benefit, the vice premier said. He stressed that China and the United States, although at different stages of development, could be more mutually beneficial than competitive. He suggested the politicians of the two nations contribute their efforts to create favorable conditions to boost exchanges and cooperation between businesses, and humanitarian and cultural communities at various local levels. Including Royce, five U.S, congressmen from the democratic and republican parties, responded to Li's remarks and agreed that U.S.-China relations are the most important bilateral relationship in the world. They said the two American political parties would work actively to support two-way communication and dialogue, as well as the development of bilateral relations. Lu Yongxiang, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, also met the delegation on Thursday. ^ top ^

Domestic Policy

China deploys 70,000 railway police for travel rush (Xinhua)
More than 70,000 police were deployed to train stations across China to manage orders and ensure travelers' safety on Saturday, when the nation begins the biggest annual migration on earth. They will carry out all-day patrols in squares, waiting rooms and ticket lobbies, platforms and trains to leave no room for "dangerous things," according to the railway police authorities under the Ministry of Public Security. The authorities said they also sent 96 teams to focus on smashing crimes including pick-pocketing and bag-snatching. [...] During the 40-day period from Saturday to March 6, Chinese people are expected to make more than 220 million journeys by rail. Another 3.2 billion journeys are expected by highways, water and air. ^ top ^

Senior official stresses military-civilian unity (Xinhua)
Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xu Qiliang on Friday called for enhanced efforts to promote unity among the army, the government and the people. Xu, who is also a Political Bureau member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, issued the call at a high-profile symposium held to mark a movement initiated by late Chinese leader Mao Zedong to boost military-government and military-civilian solidarity 70 years ago."Rock-solid military-government and military-civilian unity has proven to be a tool for us to overcome difficulties and march forward from one victory to another," Xu said. He asked CPC organizations and local governments to make good use of the resources and advantages provided by the armed forces to support local economic and social development, as well as make efforts to help the military modernize itself. Relevant parties at all levels should strengthen guidance and take effective measures to enhance ties among the military, the government and the people, he said. The move will provide a solid political guarantee for China's goals of building a moderately prosperous society and a modernized national defense and military, he said. Xu said the movement, which initiated in the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia border region 70 years ago, greatly contributed to the country's victory in the war of Japanese aggression against China and later to its construction and reform. The movement calls for the army to support the government and cherish the people and for the government to support the army and give preferential treatment to the families of servicemen. Zhang Gaoli, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, also attended Friday's symposium. ^ top ^

China lacks quality environment assessment agencies (Xinhua)
China lacks quality environment assessment agencies, according to a government report issued on Monday. The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) publicized a report after a three-year survey into the country's environment assessment agencies. By the end of 2012, 1,163 such organizations had been registered. However, their overall performance and quality did not meet standards, the report said. Unprofessional practices include weak quality control, lack of follow-up surveillance reports and poorly compiled evaluation documents. In recent years, the public have become increasingly aware of their well-being and environmental disputes have led to several mass protests. In 2012, three violent protests against the construction of chemical projects near residential compounds broke out in the southwestern Chinese city of Shifang, as well as eastern cities of Qidong and Ningbo. There were confrontations between local residents and government officials. All of the projects were eventually scrapped. The MEP said they will make sure existing assessment agencies improve. ^ top ^

Pledge to purge 'unqualified' members of China's Communist Party (SCMP)
Communist Party chief Xi Jinping chaired a Politburo meeting on the cultivation of new party members yesterday, vowing to control the size of the party and purge "unqualified members" in a timely manner. A statement issued by the meeting, reported by CCTV, said some party organs were not strict when enlisting members and the quality of new recruits needed to be looked at. Meanwhile, some party members were corrupt and not disciplined. "Such problems have affected the party's vigour and vitality and its prestigious image among the public," it said. Yesterday's meeting recognised the significance of upholding the "advanced and pure nature" of the party and vowed to optimise its membership structure and keep the party at a proper size with good quality members. "The overall number of party members should be controlled, and the membership structure and quality should be optimised in order to let them play their role," the statement said. [...] Special attention would be paid to recruiting young workers, farmers and intellectuals to "optimise the party member structure". However, recruitment from the private sector, allowed since the rule of former party general secretary Jiang Zemin, was not mentioned. [...] Professor Ma Guoxian, a political affairs analyst and director at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics' Public Policy Research Centre, said the statement showed a swift change of party management style from focusing on quantity to quality. "But it is not the first time an administration has talked about building a clean party and the problem is not what you say, but how you realise it," Ma said. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping's PLA booze ban gives troops a kick (SCMP)
Chinese troops are getting healthier, they're cholesterol levels are dropping and (brace yourselves, Japan) accuracy on the artillery range is now supposedly sharper. And all this is happening because they're giving up the drink – at least according to a report in the People's Daily newspaper on Sunday. Since taking the reigns of the Central Military Commission's in November, Xi Jinping has been tweaking the country's military protocol and part of his new “ten provisions” for the CMC – which includes cutting out fancy receptions and big dinner banquets – is banning alcohol consumption. According to the state newspaper, “prohibition” has managed to alter the troops' lifestyles drastically. At a military base in Chengdu, medical examinations revealed a “decrease in cases of fatty livers, high-cholesterol and high blood pressure” compared to last year. [...] “In the past, it was always about entertainment and drinking, this delayed a lot of work being done. In less than a month, I have been able to make huge progress in the development of a new artillery chassis. All thanks to prohibition!” said Li Rui of the Jinan Military Region. Chinese netizens did hesitate to express their support for their comrades on Sina Weibo. “I am glad to hear they have been so 'busy' defending the homeland in the past,” wrote one user on the microblogging service. A few others however, were more sceptical. “How will they have the capability to recover the Diaoyu Islands without getting drunk?!” another said. Ren Yufei, a political commissar at a PLA Air Force regiment supported the ban and told reporters that prohibition was “the only way can we develop a force able to perform the most dangerous and complex of combat missions”. Meanwhile, stocks of Kweichow Moutai, the company behind China's famous luxury spirit, have reportedly plunged 20 per cent since November, according to a Bloomberg report. The report also said Chinese officials account for about a third of the nation's high-end liquor consumption. ^ top ^

6 regions' per capita GDP above $10,000 (Global Times)
Per capita GDP in six municipalities, provinces and regions including Beijing, Zhejiang and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region surpassed $10,000 in 2012, putting them at a level close to a developed economy, according to statistics released by the local governments as of Tuesday. For the first time, per capita GDP in East China's Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces as well as North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region surpassed $10,000 in 2012, while the per capita GDP in three municipalities - Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai - stayed above $10,000 last year. According to the World Bank's standards in 2011, a region with a per capita gross national income (GNI) greater than $12,476 can be considered a high-income economy. In China, the gap between the values of GNI and GDP is usually within 2 percent. "The six areas' per capita GDP data has already reached or is close to the threshold of a high-income economy, but compared with the US and some countries in Europe which have a per capita GDP between $30,000 and $50,000, they still lag far behind," Tang Jianwei, a senior macroeconomic analyst at the Bank of Communications, told the Global Times Tuesday. While Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces are traditional manufacturing bases, the emergence of Inner Mongolia is largely attributed to the region's abundant natural resources, experts said. [...] In 2012, the per capita disposable income of urban residents reached 23,150 yuan ($3,716) in Inner Mongolia, lower than the figure of 34,550 yuan in Zhejiang and 29,677 yuan in Jiangsu, data from local statistics departments showed. Experts said China's developed regions also lag behind their Western counterparts in terms of the structure of their industries and income distribution. "In China, residents' disposable income accounts for a small share of GDP, which means people don't enjoy many benefits from the rapid GDP growth," Tang said. "Instead of per capita GDP, other indicators such as per capita disposable income and the Gini coefficient, a gauge of the gap between the rich and the poor, are more useful in terms of reflecting people's happiness," he said. [...]. ^ top ^

Outcry over Sichuan woman's death sentence for killing abusive husband (SCMP)
More than 400 lawyers and women's rights activists have sent a petition letter to the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate calling for the reversal of a death sentence that was handed down to a Sichuan woman who killed her husband after suffering months of domestic violence. Li Yan, from Anyue county in Ziyang, quarrelled with her drunken husband on the night of November 3, 2010. He threatened to shoot her in the buttocks with an air rifle while she was washing dishes at their home, and then began kicking her. Li, 42, then hit her husband twice with another gun that she had grabbed from nearby, accidentally killing him. She dismembered his corpse, throwing most of his body parts in a public toilet and a dyke, before telling a friend about the killing. The friend alerted the police. Li was sentenced to death by the Ziyang Intermediate People's Court and lost her appeal at the Sichuan Higher People's Court in August. The Supreme People's Court authorised her execution this month. Teng Biao, director of China Against Death Penalty who launched the petition campaign, said they were calling on the judiciary to re-examine the domestic violence that led to the killing and take it into full account in a new decision showing due respect for human life. He said the death sentence was flawed because it failed to take account of complaints Li had lodged with the local women's federation and statements she gave to police in the months before the killing, as well as testimony from her neighbours, which all pointed to her having been a victim of domestic violence since the couple married about two years prior to the fatal incident. "She had no excuse to kill her husband, but she's nothing like a cold-blooded killer who planned the killing," Teng said. Amnesty International said Li's husband, Tan Yong, frequently beat her, and had cut off one of her fingers, stubbed cigarettes out on her face and locked her outside on the balcony of their apartment for several hours in freezing weather while she was wearing little clothing. Feng Yuan, from the China Anti-Domestic Violence Network, said she had supported the petition letter because Li was not given a fair trial and her execution would do little good for the fight against domestic violence on the mainland. "Her tragedy should serve as a resounding wake-up call to the public, because we'll continue to see such tragedies happen if a preventative mechanism is not put in place offering victims of domestic violence timely help before violence gets out of control," she said. "We'll either see a desperate wife kill her husband, or a husband kill his wife as he gets more violent," Feng added. ^ top ^

China uses PM 2.5 in weather alert system (Xinhua)
China's meteorological authority has introduced a new weather warning system for smog which will use readings of PM 2.5, a particle pollutant. The announcement comes as thick haze chokes many cities. The National Meteorological Center (NMC) has introduced a three-tier color-coded weather warning system to alert the public to the severity of smog. The system uses yellow to imply moderately smoggy weather, orange for severe conditions and red for extremely severe levels of smog. The system not only measures the density of PM 2.5, a major pollutant that triggers smog, but also takes into account visibility and relative humidity to better reflect air quality conditions, according to the center. The smog that has blanketed many Chinese cities in recent days has affected a total area of 1.3 million square kilometers, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. [...]. ^ top ^

Woman in Chongqing sex-tapes scandal charged with extortion (SCMP)
The woman at the centre of a sex scandal that has been the downfall of 11 officials has been arrested and charged with extortion, according to her lawyer. Zhao Hongxia was detained in November after screen shots from a video showing her having sex with Chongqing district-level party official Lei Zhengfu were posted online, Zhang Zhiyong said. Lei was fired after the shots went viral, and Xinhua reported yesterday that he would be handed over to judicial authorities following an investigation into allegations he was involved in economic crimes and bribery. "Zhao was officially arrested on December 31 for extortion," Zhang said yesterday, adding that she had been "brainwashed" by a company she left in 2009 to secretly record herself having sex with officials to give the firm leverage. "After all, she was young and a victim herself." A staff member at the Chongqing People's Procuratorate refused to comment. Zhao's former employer could not be reached. Zhu Ruifeng, who posted the screen shots, said a police source told him that the firm had trained young women to secretly record sex videos. State media said last week that a Chongqing construction firm had hired at least one woman as part of a blackmail scheme and the bosses had been arrested. Zhao has drawn support on social media, with internet users hailing her as a heroine for exposing corrupt officials. Many have compared Zhao's case with that of Deng Yujiao, a hotel waitress who in 2009 stabbed to death a local party official in Hubei and wounded another after they tried to force themselves on her. Deng was charged with assault, rather than murder, but walked free on grounds of diminished responsibility after having received widespread support from the online community. ^ top ^



Beijing bribery cases up in 2012 (SCMP)
Bribery cases in Beijing involving officials continued to rise last year, but there were fewer incidences of embezzlement, prosecutors in the capital said. Zhang Guoying, director of the anti-corruption office of the Beijing Municipal Procuratorate, told the Beijing People's Congress yesterday that municipal prosecutors had handed 1,883 graft cases involving 2,238 officials to legal authorities over the past five years, with 115 defendants being bureau-level officials, the Legal Evening News reported. Bribery cases involving officials accounted for 58 per cent of all cases being investigated by prosecutors during the past five years, while embezzlement accounted for 31 per cent, it said. The report came a few days after the Communist Party's anti-graft tsar Wang Qishan vowed that the near-term goal of anti-corruption drives would be to focus on addressing "symptoms" in a bid to "buy time for the party to wipe out the source of corruption". "We should focus on the Spring Festival and the [annual meetings of the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference] to prevent officials from squandering public funds on pomp and perks," Wang, chief of the party's Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection, said at a commission workshop on Wednesday, according to the website of the Ministry of Supervision. "We will continue keep a close watch during the May Day, National Day and New Year holidays. With our iron fists and persistence, we will see results." [...] Political analysts doubted the latest anti-corruption campaign would be any more effective than previous ones. "The fatal problem with the anti-graft campaign is that there are no warriors with clean hands in the party's corrupt political system," said Professor Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University in Beijing. "The new party leadership dreams only of the party's revival … yet none of them dare take the political risk of pushing political reform.". ^ top ^

Pollution top for new Beijing leaders (China Daily)
Lawmakers and advisers renewed calls to tackle environmental and traffic issues, both major sources of public concern, on Monday, as Beijing elected its new leadership. Acting mayor Wang Anshun was elected mayor of the Chinese capital on the final day of the first session of the 14th Beijing Municipal People's Congress. Nine deputy mayors, including two new faces — former chiefs of Beijing's Daxing and Shunyi districts — were also elected at the annual legislature's meeting. At a news conference following his election, Wang, a native of Huixian county in Henan province, said the leadership will stand with residents to overcome difficulties. He did not specify what those difficulties are, but at a discussion with lawmakers on Sunday, he said environmental issues should be the new government's top priority. [...] The lawmakers' meeting received 187 proposals, of which 68 were focused on the city's environment and public transport. Qian Xiaomeng, a legislator, said making Beijing a livable city has become a popular topic in the session's discussions. "The air pollution is a comprehensive problem. It needs a system to deal with it, such as increasing green areas," said Qian, who comes from the Xicheng district river parks management office. She said the district will add more than 22 hectares of green area this year and some new tree species will be planted in parks. [...] Some said the government should also look into the traffic issue when it deals with air pollution, because car emissions are a major source of air pollution. [...] Xia Yuchen, a 25-year-old resident who returned to Beijing from France three months ago, welcomed the new leadership's determination, but said she hoped the problems can be tackled as soon as possible. "To tackle air pollution, a transparent supervision system is needed," she said. "In Western countries, governments must disclose the pollution data in a timely matter, but our government isn't good at taking emergency action." "I'm still looking forward to the new leadership's real action to solve the congestion and pollution this year," she added. ^ top ^

Hospital admissions for respiratory infections up 20pc amid Beijing smog (SCMP)
Hospital admissions for respiratory complaints rose 20 per cent in the latest smog to hit Beijing, reports said yesterday as state media demanded greater government openness on pollution. This week's pollution across vast swathes of the northern mainland region - the fourth serious case of toxic air in recent weeks - has sparked online anger and prompted unusually outspoken calls for action, even from official media. The number of patients admitted to several hospitals in the capital for breathing problems rose by a fifth in recent days, the Beijing Morning Post reported. Half of those admitted to a city children's hospital were suffering from respiratory infections, the newspaper said, citing doctors. State broadcaster CCTV quoted Zhong Nanshan, the president of the China Medical Association who revealed the cover-up of the Sars epidemic of 2003, as saying: "Air pollution is much more scary than Sars, and affects the heart and veins." [...] The China Daily urged the government to reveal details of the causes of the pollution, saying departments had yet to provide credible data. Without such information "the government's promise to tackle the problem may fail to materialise", it said. The pollution in the capital has been blamed on emissions from coal-burning in power stations and exhaust fumes from vehicles on choked streets. The elderly, young and those with health problems in the city of 20 million were urged to stay indoors earlier in the week - or wear protective masks if they had to venture out - while dozens of flights were cancelled after visibility fell drastically. Beijing ordered the emergency closure of factories and removed government vehicles from the streets to try to reduce the haze, but experts say more radical controls are needed to combat the problem effectively. Real estate tycoon and internet blogger Pan Shiyi - who has 14 million followers on Sina Weibo, a mainland version of Twitter - started a campaign for clean air legislation. It had attracted more than 46,000 signatures as of yesterday afternoon. Social media users reacted angrily to comments from an official at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, who said developed countries took up to 50 years to solve their pollution problems. "It will take years and years and cost taxpayers all their money," one user wrote. Traffic policemen urged officials to change the dress code and let them wear masks on duty, the China Daily reported. The US embassy's air quality index in Beijing stood at 207 yesterday afternoon, or "very unhealthy", after it peaked at more than 500 on Tuesday. [...]. ^ top ^



Shanghai to lure multinationals (China Daily)
Shanghai is expected to attract 150 more foreign multinationals' regional headquarters by 2020 — in addition to the 403 today — as it also works to nurture more domestic multinationals, Acting Mayor Yang Xiong said in the Report on the Work of the Government at the first session of the 14th Shanghai Municipal People's Congress on Sunday. Transforming the city into the international economic, financial, trading and shipping centers ("Four Centers") has been the focal point of Shanghai's 12th Five-Year Plan as it pursues innovation-driven economic transformation. Yang pointed out "openness represents Shanghai's biggest advantage" in moving the international goal forward. The city's major objectives for the next five years are to become a world-renowned base for service trade and a major import-export hub. [...] "The city is opening up to welcome more foreign investors to advance the economic development of Shanghai and quickly turn it into a global trading center," said Huang Renwei, a deputy to the Shanghai People's Congress and vice-president of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Trade in services will account for about 25 percent of the city's total imports and exports, compared with 22.1 percent in 2010, and greater emphasis will be placed on helping domestic businesses to build up their ability to withstand international economic risks and managing their international operations with a view toward nurturing world-class indigenous multinationals. [...] Modern shipping services will be significantly improved, and the city will acquire all the core functions of an international trade center, with total merchandise sales amounting to 10 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion). [...] The modern service sector, one of the city's focal points, will be boosted vigorously with the development of financial markets and products by attracting more corporate headquarters and departments of financial institutions. "Customer service in Shanghai is still not as good as in international cities like New York, London and Paris, and it will take time for the city to improve its service sector along with its economic development," said Liu Xiaobing, a professor at the School of Public Economics and Administration at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. ^ top ^

CPPCC backs real estate disclosure (Global Times)
Members of one of Shanghai's main political advisory bodies called on the local government Sunday to create a system that requires officials and their relatives to disclose their personal assets, including real estate and financial investments. The proposal, put forward on the second day of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), aimed to crack down on official corruption. Local prosecutors handled 1,815 cases related to officials abusing their positions from 2008 to 2012, more than 90 percent of which involved corruption or bribery, according to a proposal by Li Fenhua, the former deputy director of the Shanghai Branch of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC). An investigation found that 62 percent of the cases involved the exchange of money for power, Li said. "These crimes have had a very bad impact on our society," Li told the Global Times. Li's proposal was supported by other CPPCC members. Another proposal, submitted by the Shanghai Committee of the China Democratic National Construction Association, suggested establishing a similar system for director-level bureau officials first. Li's proposal favored establishing the disclosure system for new officials in Shanghai first. The proposal included requiring officials to disclose the property holdings and financial investments of their relatives. It also forbade them from owning property overseas or opening foreign bank accounts. "The accuracy of the disclosure should also be considered when an official is up for promotion," the proposal said. ^ top ^

Proposal seeks to stem 'brain drain' (Xinhua)
The government should invest more in local universities and reform the admission process to stem the ongoing brain drain in the city, a Fudan University administrator said Tuesday at the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). There has been a growing tide of outstanding local students leaving the country in recent years, said Shanghai CPPCC member Ding Guanghong, the director of admissions at Fudan University. At several top foreign language high schools, as much as 50 percent of each graduating class goes overseas to study. "Many of these students will not choose to come back," Ding said. "It is an unimaginable loss of talent for our country." It has been a growing trend across the city, especially for more well-rounded students, who are the most likely to go abroad. Ding said that students these days have higher expectations. They no longer just want to get into a university. They want to get into a university that provides a high quality education. "If we can't satisfy their needs, they will turn to schools overseas," he said. The US is the top destination for Chinese students, according to a report by the Institute for International Education. About 128,000 Chinese students studied at US universities during the 2009-2010 school year, up 30 percent year-on-year. Business was the most popular major for Chinese students, followed by science and engineering. Ding suggested that the government continually increase investment in undergraduate education so it can reach a world-class level as soon as possible. The national college entrance examinations, or gaokao, also contribute to the problem, Ding said. The gaokao system limits the number of universities a student can seek to enter. For example, students can choose only two top-tier schools when they make their list of universities they would like to attend, which restricts what majors they can choose. [...]. ^ top ^

CPPCC report recommends lower hurdles for AIDS organizations (Global Times)
Shanghai should make it easier for community-based organizations (CBO) working on AIDS prevention to register with authorities, members of the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) said in a report Wednesday. In 1995, Shanghai was the first city in the country to establish a CBO focused on AIDS prevention. By the end of 2012, the city had 40 AIDS prevention CBOs, according to the Shanghai Committee of Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party (CPWDP). According to a CPWDP report, CBOs have become an effective extension of government work that is closer to the public. The report pointed out that the CBOs explored multiple ways of raising funds to meet AIDS prevention needs that weren't being fulfilled by the government. However, of 40 CBOs, only five were registered with the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, the report said. Another five were registered with the industrial and commercial administration as business organizations. The rest are all unregistered. They have no articles of association and lack a formal management system. The situation has hurt the organizations credibility with the public and has made them difficult to regulate. Most activities that CBOs sponsor are limited to solving a narrow range of problems. "Considering Shanghai's population and status, their efforts to help AIDS patients are far from enough," the report said. The report advised the local government to loosen registration standards for social organizations like CBOs and encourage more organizations to help with AIDS prevention. [...]. ^ top ^



Guangdong leaders fear they will lose economic pole position to Jiangsu (SCMP)
A sense of urgency looms large among senior Guangdong leaders who are worried that the economic powerhouse may lose its top spot in terms of total economic output by as early as 2015, while the province's new party chief, Hu Chunhua said pressure on future growth was "beyond my expectation". In a panel discussion on Friday afternoon, Hu told the provincial legislative congress that the gross domestic product of Jiangsu province was catching up quickly with Guangdong, according to a China News Service report. Hu said that whichever province earned the No1 ranking for GDP growth would attract even more investment. The comment came in stark contrast to Hu's predecessor, Wang Yang, who told local officials a year ago to focus more on industrial upgrades and social reform, while keeping a cool head about GDP. Echoing Hu's remarks, the director of Guangdong's statistics bureau, Xing Xiaowei warned that Jiangsu, whose GDP expanded by 10.1 per cent in 2012, would overtake Guangdong in 2015 "if we do not accelerate our pace", the Guangdong party mouthpiece, Nanfang Daily, reported on Saturday. Dr Peng Peng, a researcher at the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said it was "only a matter of time" before Jiangsu overtook Guangdong, as the former was already doing better in terms of investment and the use of foreign funds. "Jiangsu's GDP is only 310 billion yuan less than Guangdong's… So the sense of urgency is growing," Peng said. Guangdong's deputy party secretary, Zhu Mingguo, told a panel of political advisory congress members over the weekend that "we have to grit our teeth and speed up growth", according to The Southern Metropolis Daily. "What will Guangdong people think of the new government if we lose our edge to Jiangsu?" he added. [...] The comments were a departure from the policy priorities of Wang, who emphased quality of growth and tackling social woes. "We'll lose our opportunity to transform the economy if too much attention is paid to GDP figures… If Jiangsu wants to take over, just let it," he told the provincial party congress a year ago. Peng said the drastic turnaround showed that Hu, a rising political star, could not afford to lose Guangdong's economic edge under his leadership. "Maintaining the top spot is important for Hu if he wants to move higher," he said. ^ top ^

Guangdong mayors pledge to disclose all family assets (Global Times)
The mayor of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province declared his willingness to disclose his personal assets after several mayors in the province made similar pledges, and more than 500 other local officials are being required to make asset declarations after Spring Festival break. Mayor Xu Qin told a press conference during the current session of the Guangdong Provincial People's Congress that he agrees with the other mayors and will push for mandatory declarations of personal assets among government officials in Shenzhen. The disclosure plan currently does not call for the declarations to be made public. "I am willing to declare my assets once I receive notice to do so," said Xu, "The strategy helps curb corruption and I will do my best to promote the strategy according to plans from the central government." Zheng Zhentao, the mayor of Shaoguan, also made the same pledge during the provincial session which started Friday and will last seven days. "The best place to start is with the higher level government officials," Lin Zhe, an anti-corruption specialist with the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, told the Global Times. "When the mayor starts to do it, his or her subordinates will follow." Lin believes that one of the major reasons the asset declaration failed in previous attempts is because the officials who were in charge tried to avoid making declarations themselves. "The government needs to put in some serious effort, otherwise the strategy will not work," Lin added. Zheng announced that 526 government officials in Shixing county, one of 27 places in a nationwide pilot program, will start declaring their family assets after Spring Festival. ^ top ^

Guangdong to stop "laojiao" system in China (Xinhua)
South China's Guangdong Province is planning to end the "laojiao" -- re-education through labor -- system within the year, according to the provincial judicial department Tuesday. Guangdong has made preparation work to be the leading and exploratory region to stop the "laojiao" system, said Yan Zhichan, director of Guangdong Provincial Department of Justice. If the system is abolished, re-education institutions will no longer receive people. Those receiving re-education through labor will be released after expiration, Yan said. Public criticism of re-education through the labor system has grown. In August, Tang Hui, a woman in central China's Hunan Province, was sentenced to 18 months in a labor camp after protesting and demanding tougher penalties for the seven men convicted of abducting, raping and prostituting her 11-year-old daughter. Tang was released within a week following complaints from academics. The national political and legal work conference in early January announced changes to the "laojiao" system, which will be pushed forward this year. [...] In Guangdong, most of those in "laojiao" institutions are drug addicts under compulsory rehabilitation and detoxification addicts, but not people accused of minor illegal behavior such as gambling and prostitution, Yan added. ^ top ^



China appoints new Tibet governor, hardline policies to remain (SCMP)
Losang Gyaltsen, 55, was elected at the end of the annual meeting of Tibet's largely rubber stamp regional assembly, and replaces previous governor Padma Choling, according to an announcement by the official Xinhua news agency. Losang Gyaltsen is a former mayor of Tibetan capital Lhasa and once taught Marxist theory, according to his official biography. His name is also spelled Losang Jamcan in English. He reports to Tibet's top official, Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo, a position which traditionally has always been held by a Han Chinese rather than an ethnic Tibetan. “He's rather hardline, but all officials at that level are the same,” said prominent Tibetan writer Woeser. “There will be no real change in Tibet.” China has defended its iron-fisted rule in Tibet, saying the mountainous region suffered from dire poverty, brutal exploitation and economic stagnation until 1950, when Communist troops “peacefully liberated” it. [...] Speaking to Tibet's legislature on Tuesday, the new governor, Losang Gyaltsen, said the government would “resolutely struggle” against exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who China accuses of promoting violent separatism, charges he denies. “We will unswervingly protect the unity of the motherland and ethnic harmony... and maintain harmony and stability in Tibet,” the China News Service quoted him as saying. “Harmony and stability are the basic guarantee of Tibet's development and prosperity,” he added. [...] Despite expectations for improvement, the crackdown inside Tibet could become even worse once Chinese Communist Party boss Xi Jinping becomes president in March as he seeks to cement his rule, said an overseas Tibetan rights advocate. “I wouldn't be surprised if at the beginning of his tenure things might get worse before they get better, because he will want to stamp his authority early on,” said Kate Saunders of the International Campaign for Tibet. Xi's late father, Xi Zhongxun, a liberal-minded former vice premier, had a close bond with the Dalai Lama before the monk fled into exile in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule. ^ top ^

China sentences another 6 Tibetans over self-immolation (Xinhua)
Six ethnic Tibetans were sentenced to three to 12 years in prison for their roles in an October self-immolation case by a local court in northwest China's Gansu Province Thursday. The Xiahe County People's Court convicted Padma Tamdru, Kelsang Gyamuktso, Padma Co, Lhamo Tamdru of intentional homicide and sentenced them to 12, 11, eight and seven years in jail, respectively. Two other defendants, Do Gekyap and Yang Monje were convicted of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles" and sentenced to four and three years in prison, respectively. The court found that Togye Rinchen, a local Tibetan villager, set himself on fire near a shopping center in the county around 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2012. After spotting the incident, police officers put out the fire, with Togye Rinchen still showing signs of life. When the police officers were trying to rescue the self-immolator, Padma Tamdru, with the help of Kelsang Gyamuktso, Padma Co, and Lhamo Tamdru, attacked the officers and hindered their rescue efforts, the court found. Public security personnel requested a crowd that had gathered there not to hinder police officers' efforts in trying to rescue Togye Rinchen. Ignoring the requests, the four defendants continued to attack police officers. Togye Rinchen was taken away by Kelsang Gyamuktso and others and later died without receiving timely medical treatment. The two other defendants, Do Gekyap and Yang Monje, created disturbances near the self-immolation site. Their acts resulted in a crowd gathering, causing a chaotic scene, and disrupting both business in the shopping area and road traffic, the court found. [...] Also on Thursday, the Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People's Court in neighboring Sichuan Province convicted two other Tibetans. One was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and the other to 10 years in prison for inciting eight people to self-immolate, three of whom died. [...] Lorang Konchok, 40, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and has been stripped of his political rights for life. His nephew, Lorang Tsering, 31, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and has been stripped of his political rights for three years, according to the court verdict. [...]. ^ top ^



Xinjiang probes 178 mid-level officials on graft suspicion (Xinhua)
Xinjiang's procuratorial agencies investigated 178 officials at the county level or above from 2008 to 2012 to fight against corruption, a local official said Wednesday. Nixam Ibrayim, head of the People's Procuratorate of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, released the information during the ongoing session of the 12th Xinjiang People's Congress, the regional legislature. The agencies investigated and handled 2,844 cases related to local officials' corruption, bribes and dereliction of duty, and 17 of the 178 punished officials were at the department level, said Nixam Ibrayim. Economic losses totalling 466 million yuan (74.9 million U.S. dollars) were recovered with these efforts, he added. He said Xinjiang procuratorial agencies have mainly focused their attention on work-related crimes in Xinjiang's key national investment fields and capital intensive industries. ^ top ^



Hundreds march against CY Leung's policy speech (SCMP)
About 1,000 people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against the city leader's policy speech, which they said offered nothing new on tackling a housing crisis and poverty. About 1,000 people marched from Causeway Bay to Tamar. Photo: Felix WongChief Executive Leung Chun-ying pledged, among other things, to increase housing supply in the densely populated city and tackle poverty in his January policy address widely seen as an attempt to halt mass protests against his leadership. “Leung Chun-ying does not have the heart or the ability to solve the problems for the Hong Kong people,” said Icarus Wong, vice-convener of one of the protest organisers, Civil Human Rights Front. People were showing their “disappointment and anger” because his speech offered no new ideas on solving the housing crisis and tackling poverty, Wong said. Protesters also called for universal suffrage. Hong Kong maintains a semi-autonomous status but cannot choose its leader through the popular vote. Beijing has said the chief executive could be directly elected in 2017 at the earliest, with the legislature following by 2020. Leung, who was chosen by a 1,200-member election committee dominated by pro-Beijing elites, saw his approval rating plunge to a low of 31 per cent, according to an opinion poll released in January by the University of Hong Kong. ^ top ^

Most families wait over four years for public housing, says Oxfam (SCMP)
The government's promise of a maximum three-year wait for public housing is a myth, according to a study by Oxfam Hong Kong released yesterday. Instead, the majority of families on the list have been waiting for four years without getting a single housing offer, Oxfam's report found. Conducted from August to October, the study reveals that over 70 per cent of the 501 "n-nothing" households interviewed have been waiting for 4.4 years on average, with no offers. The so-called n-nothings are low-income people who receive no government assistance, not even Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA). Oxfam director general Stephen Fisher said: "Housing is a structural cause of poverty [in Hong Kong] due to some of our land policies." One long-term solution is to increase the supply of public housing, which could effectively reduce poverty, he said. Oxfam urged the government to study the option of providing a rental subsidy for tenants who do not receive CSSA benefits and have been on the public housing waiting list for over three years. It should also look into building more temporary social housing to ease accommodation problems among the poor, Oxfam said. [...] On Monday the Social Welfare Department announced a 7.8 per cent increase in the maximum rental allowance under the CSSA scheme. Also on Monday, at a Commission on Poverty meeting, the government proposed including welfare benefits - such as public housing, education and medical subsidies - as income when calculating the poverty line. That would move a large number of poor people above the line without increasing their income, critics of the measure pointed out.. ^ top ^

Hong Kong press freedom drops to 5-year low on global index (SCMP)
Hong Kong's ranking for press freedom has fallen to a five-year low of 58 among 179 places worldwide, the latest index compiled by Reporters Without Borders shows. When the global index started in 2002, five years after China resumed sovereignty of the city from Britain, Hong Kong came 18th. Its position sank to 56th the following year. The latest drop coincides with fears over the government's plan to hide key information of firm directors in a revision of the companies law. Local journalists see the change as detrimental to investigative journalism. Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, a former journalist, called the further dip in the ranking "traumatising". "[Chief Executive] Leung Chun-ying promised a law on freedom of information during his election," Mo said. "He has paid lip service to an archives law. It turns out he has avoided and procrastinated on both issues." Mo said "self-censorship remains quite rampant". She also cited the government's delay in issuing free-to-air television licences and a proposed stalking law that could hinder journalists. The city's ranking in the World Press Freedom Index 2013 released yesterday was down from 54 the year before. The non-governmental, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders promotes freedom of information. The report did not explain the ranking. Hong Kong's lowest score, recorded in 2007, was 61. [...] Meanwhile, mainland China was ranked sixth from the bottom, while Taiwan, at 47th, topped regions in Asia. "China shows no sign of improving," Reporters Without Borders said. "Its prisons still hold many journalists and netizens, while increasingly unpopular internet censorship continues to be a major obstacle to access to information … Many Tibetan monks have been convicted or abducted for having sent information abroad about the disastrous state of human rights in Tibet." [...]. ^ top ^

Jackie Chan appointed to Beijing's top advisory body (SCMP)
Action star Jackie Chan, who stirred controversy with his comments on limiting people's right to protest, has been named a Hong Kong delegate to China's top political advisory body. Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference standing committee member Chan Wing-kee, who has seen the proposed list of members who will serve for the next five-year term, said yesterday the Hollywood actor's name was on the list. One of the incumbents, TV actress Liza Wang Ming-chun, was said to have kept her membership, while actor and director Stephen Chow Sing-chi was also recently appointed to the Guangdong chapter of the CPPCC. Political observer Dr Chung Kim-wah, of Polytechnic University, described Chan's appointment - yet to be officially announced - as "another political vase" for decoration's sake. "I don't expect there's anything revolutionary Chan can or will do for Hong Kong in the CPPCC, which is largely a talk shop," said Chung. "But for him, it is very good because he can more strongly secure the China market." Chan's latest movie, CZ12, released in December, reportedly broke China's box office records, earning more than US$130 million in just its first three weeks. The film has a patriotic theme that sees Chan on a quest to steal 12 ancient Chinese zodiac statues taken by Western forces during the 1840s Opium Wars. Chan, 58, has drawn criticism in recent years over his perceived pro-Beijing political stance. "[Chan] knows that his future, and Hong Kong's future, is in China," said cultural critic Perry Lam Pui-li. "If his market were still in Hong Kong, he wouldn't have made those comments." Chan came under fire in December after he told a newspaper that the city's authorities should stipulate what issues people could protest about. ^ top ^



Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou urged to pursue higher level military exchanges (SCMP)
Beijing and Taipei should work together to establish a cross-strait military co-operation mechanism in a bid to defend territory in the East and South China seas, retired generals from Taiwan and the mainland have urged. Admiral Fei Horng-po, formerly Taiwan's deputy chief of general staff, said he had suggested to Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou that he should push for higher level cross-strait military exchanges with Beijing based on the platform provided by the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats) and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), as well as talks between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. "I suggested President Ma should appoint retired generals to attend the next round of talks between the KMT and the mainland Communist Party," Fei said on the sidelines of a workshop organised by the Chinese Century Communicating Association in Hong Kong on Tuesday. He said current military exchanges across the strait between retired generals were focused on single-faceted and meaningless friendship-building activities because they were not authorised to go further. [...] "Beijing and Taipei have still failed to make a joint declaration to show their consistency on the Diaoyus issue," Fei said. "The problem will be possible to tackle when a cross-strait military working team is set up and authorised by Arats and SEF." [...] Xu Guangyu, a People's Liberation Army major general and senior researcher at the Beijing-based China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said both sides urgently needed to put aside their political disagreements and work together to tackle the territorial problem amid an escalation of tensions with Japan. "The current Diaoyus tension also provides us with a good opportunity to start our military talks, with seeking a consensus and coming up with a collaborative mechanism in disputed areas in the East and South China seas being a must," Xu said. "Cross-strait military talks could be started ahead of other political issues. For example, we can declare a ceasefire in disputed waters in the East and South China seas and announce a joint cross-strait stance on our goal to defend our sovereignty in those areas to the world." [...]. ^ top ^



Ban on games consoles may be lifted (China Daily)
Chinese authorities are reviewing a decade-long ban on game consoles and considering the possibility of opening up the country's video game hardware market, a government source told China Daily. Because of fears of the potential harm to the physical and mental development of the young, seven Chinese ministries collectively banned the manufacture, sale and import of game consoles in China in 2000. Major game console vendors across the world, including Microsoft Corp, Nintendo Co and Sony Corp, made several attempts but failed to find a way to enter the Chinese mainland market officially. "We are reviewing the policy and have conducted some surveys and held discussions with other ministries on the possibility of opening up the game console market," a source from the Ministry of Culture, who asked not to be named, said. "However, since the ban was issued by seven ministries more than a decade ago, we will need approval from all parties to lift it," the source said. Rumors have circulated in the Chinese media that some international companies have already sensed the government's changing attitude. They hope to figure out the Chinese authorities' intentions so they can make a rapid response, analysts said. [...]. ^ top ^

China to pursue RMB internationalization (Xinhua)
China is determined to pursue the internationalization of the renminbi on a market-oriented basis, and will closely watch the spillover effects of Japan's ultra-loose monetary policy, Yi Gang, a vice governor of China's central bank, told Xinhua. "It is the basic policy of the People's Bank of China to let the renminbi compete with US dollar or euro fairly in the international market," Yi said in an interview on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In the past, it was not allowed to use the renminbi in cross-border trade transactions and investments. "What we are doing now is nothing but remove discrimination against the renminbi and let it act just as other reserve currencies," he said. On concerns about the potential rise of the Chinese currency, Yi said, "It is just natural that foreigners might have some concerns, but it is not our policy to specifically promote the renminbi, and I hope people of other countries can treat it with calm." "Whether the pace of the internationalization is a little bit quicker or slower, it is always and completely the choice of the market," he added. "I would be actually pleased to see people have more confidence in the renminbi and choose it over other currencies thanks to a more sophisticated market, better implementation of China's monetary policy, China's macroeconomic stability and social stability, and stronger rule of law," he said. ^ top ^

Industrial profits show economy recovering (Xinhua)
Chinese industrial firms' profits climbed for a fourth consecutive month in December, adding evidence that the world's second-largest economy is gaining steam after seeing its lowest growth rate in 13 years. Profits at major industrial firms, or those with annual revenues of more than 20 million yuan ($3.17 million), climbed 17.3 percent year-on-year last month to reach 895.2 billion yuan, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Sunday. The growth, however, eased from November's 22.8-percent increase and October's 20.5-percent rise. Chinese industrial companies recorded negative profit growth in each of the first eight months last year, with the only exception being March, when a 4.5-percent rise was registered. The industrial companies' profits rose a mere 5.3 percent in 2012, compared with the 25.4-percent surge registered in 2011, as slowing growth at home and global economic woes dented corporate earnings. [...] Combined with other strengthening indicators revealed this month, including export and industrial output figures for December and a preliminary HSBC reading on January's manufacturing activity, the figures have made many hopeful for an economic turnaround. Analysts have predicted the country's economy will pick up in 2013, as the global economy is stabilizing and government measures and reforms have come into play. [...]. ^ top ^

Demand for oil to rise 4.8% (China Daily)
As China's economy gradually rebounds, its demand for oil will rise at a modest rate of 4.8 percent to 514 million metric tons this year, and imports will continue to grow, the CNPC Economic and Technology Research Institute said on the same day. The country will import about 289 million tons of crude oil this year, up 7.3 percent year-on-year, according to a report released by the institute under China National Petroleum Corp. The figure means that about 59 percent of China's crude oil demand will depend on imports in 2013. "As the country's oil consumption increases, its dependency on foreign imports will continue to rise," said Qian Xingkun, the institute's deputy director. Meanwhile, domestic crude output will be about 210 million tons. [...] China imported 269 million tons of crude last year, with a foreign dependency of about 57 percent. The country's total crude consumption was 475 million tons, up 4.7 percent year-on-year in 2012, CNPC said. [...] Global oil reserves increased by 2 percent, mainly from Russia and China. China's overseas oil and gas exploration rights reached 92 million tons in 2012, up 3 percent compared with the previous year. [...] By the end of August, there were 41 private Chinese companies doing businesses in oil and gas exploration in the country, and up to 50 firms are refining companies with a total refining capacity of 40.7 million tons a year, accounting for 7.1 percent of the country's overall number. ^ top ^

Growing debt burden in mainland provinces causes concern (SCMP)
The debt burden of some provinces on the mainland is becoming "worrisome" as they face the double whammy of slowing fiscal revenue and tightening bank loans, warn credit rating agencies. The debts of four provinces - Hubei, Jilin, Hainan and Hunan - are "fairly high" and may result in "high financial risks", said Terry Gao, an associate director at Fitch yesterday. Local authorities at the moment hold far less cash than they need to repay loans, said Moody's analyst Katie Chan. She warned of a high rollover rate at mainland banks for local-government loans that will mature this year as local financing vehicles are struggling to pay back. The debt-to-fiscal-revenue ratio for the central province of Jilin, for example, reached 181 per cent in 2010, according to Fitch. That is on par with countries known to have high debt levels, such as Britain and France. China's overall debt-to-revenue ratio is 165 per cent. "The whole area is very opaque, so it is difficult to know what the outcome would be. But... there is a lot of these debts being built up and we expect the financial pressure on local governments to increase as more debt piles up this year," said Andrew Colquhoun, head of Asia-Pacific sovereign ratings at Fitch. Although some western provinces such as Gansu, Henan and Xinjiang have relatively lower debt-to-revenue ratios, at less than 100 per cent, investors should not be too optimistic, since these provinces also have limited financial flexibility because of their dependence on the fiscal subsidy they receive from the central government, Fitch said. For Guangdong province and Beijing, the risk is much lower as they have more diversified tax bases and strong economic fundamentals, Fitch's Gao said. Tax, land sales and central government transfers are the main components of provinces' incomes. The latter two sources were stagnating, said Fitch. Land sales, the major revenue generator, fell by 14 per cent year on year last year and could flatline this year, Fitch said. Margins from selling land use rights to property firms were set to decline to just 20 per cent from over 40 per cent five years ago, it added. According to Moody's senior credit officer Ivan Chung, whether local governments will go bust will depend on the central government's readiness to share some of the burden. Some changes in this direction are anticipated after March as the new leadership takes over. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

DPRK leader vows to safeguard national dignity with "physical countermeasures" (Xinhua)
The paramount leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Sunday pledged to resort to "powerful physical countermeasures" in safeguarding his country's dignity and sovereign rights. Kim Jong-un's pledge was made known by KCNA, DPRK's official news agency, in a statement. Though without elaboration, Kim said it while attending a work meeting of officials for national security and external affairs held recently on current situation, said KCNA's statement, quoting a report from the meeting. The 15-nation United Nations Security Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the Resolution 2087 which condemns DPRK's rocket launch in December and requires the DPRK to comply with all relevant resolutions approved by the Security Council and not to use the ballistic missile technology for any launch. [...] The KCNA meeting's report said the resolution with sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council is a rude provocation to DPRK in its efforts to execute its rights as a sovereign state and described it as an "unprecedented anti-DPRK strangling act" which leads to the grim situation on the Korean Peninsula and the periphery. The meeting's report also stressed that it would be impossible for the Korean Peninsula to become denuclearized before the world over realizes denuclearization. [...]. ^ top ^

DPRK top leader urges enhanced role of grassroots leaders, branches (Xinhua)
Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Tuesday called upon grassroots ruling party chiefs to decisively enhance the function and role of the party branches in building a thriving socialist nation, the official news agency KCNA reported on Wednesday. Kim, also the first secretary of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), delivered a speech here at the Fourth Meeting of Secretaries of Cells of the WPK, asking all cell secretaries to enhance their responsibilities and roles and to creditably perform their duties. "An important task facing the party branches at present is to energetically organize and mobilize the party members and general public for implementing the party's policies," he said. Kim stressed the party, the army and the people of the DPRK should unite closer to "advance straight along the road of independence, Songun (military-first) and socialism true to the behests of great leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il." The previous three meetings were held in 1991, 1994 and 2007. The irregularity suggests that such meetings are held only when deemed necessary. ^ top ^

Six-Party Talks could still go ahead (China Daily)
Although Pyongyang claimed to end the Six-Party Talks after the latest UN resolution, experts said there is still the possibility of dialogue to resolve issues on the Korean Peninsula, and urged all parties to respect the concerns of others. Pyongyang didn't refuse all communication, so the door of negotiations is not closed, said Alexander Zhebin, head of the Centre for Korean Studies at the Russian Institute of the Far East. Zhebin made his comments at a video meeting held by the Russian Information Agency Novosti on Jan 29. Vladimir Evseev, director of the Center for Social and Political Research in Russia, echoed Zhebin's statements, saying the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is still interested in dialogue, especially that focusing on its economic development. [...] Analysts said the key reason for Pyongyang's fierce rhetoric and its nuclear program is that its security concerns have not been respected. Every relevant party should talk about its own security concerns, which should also be heard by other parties, Zhebin said. People should hold discussions not only on how to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, but also on what kind of security guarantee should be offered, he added. Zhebin also suggested recognizing DPRK's legal right to peacefully use nuclear energy and its space, so that Pyongyang can abandon its nuclear weapons program. Zhu Feng, a professor on international studies at Peking University, said the DPRK cannot change its tune until it is included in a peaceful and open cooperation in East Asia. ^ top ^



Rio Tinto may halt work at mine in protest at Mongolian demands (SCMP)
Rio Tinto Group is considering a temporary halt to construction work at its US$6.2 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold project in Mongolia as the government demands a greater share of profit from the mine, according to two people familiar with the plans. The group, based in London and the second-biggest mining company in the world, is discussing the suspension of building to protest at Mongolia's demands for a bigger stake in the project and new mining royalty rates, the sources said. A suspension of work, which may halt mining and processing, is not certain, and is among options that managers are discussing in London, one of the people said. Bruce Tobin, a spokesman for Rio in Melbourne, said: "We continue to work together with all stakeholders, including the government of Mongolia, to bring the benefits of Oyu Tolgoi to all parties." He declined to comment on whether Rio was considering a temporary halt. The dispute comes as the government of Mongolian prime minister Norovyn Altankhuyag tries to maintain support for foreign investment amid growing nationalism and wealth disparity. In October, Rio rejected a second move by Mongolia to renegotiate a 2009 investment agreement for the development of Oyu Tolgoi, which is the world's biggest copper project under construction. At full capacity, the mine will account for almost a third of Mongolia's economic output. It is on schedule to start commercial production in the first half, Tobin said. The first ore has been mined and the concentrator, which processes the raw material at the site, has been switched on, he said. [...]. ^ 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.
Page created and hosted by SinOptic Back to the top of the page To SinOptic - Services and Studies on the Chinese World's Homepage