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
  18-22.3.2013, No. 467  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

China replaces Britain in world's top five arms exporters (SCMP)
China has become the world's fifth-largest arms exporter, a respected Sweden-based think tank said on Monday, its highest ranking since the cold war, with Pakistan the main recipient. China's volume of weapons exports between 2008 and last year rose 162 per cent compared to the previous five year period, with its share of the global arms trade rising from 2 per cent to 5 per cent, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said. China replaces Britain in the top five arms-dealing countries between 2008 and last year, a group dominated by the United States and Russia, which accounted for 30 per cent and 26 per cent of weapons exports, […] Now the world's second-largest economy, China's rise has come with a new sense of military assertiveness with a growing budget to develop modern warfare equipment including aircraft carriers and drones. At the Zhuhai air show in southern China in November, Chinese attack helicopters, missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and air defences were on public show for the first time. SIPRI maintains a global arms transfers database base that tracks arms exports back to the 1950s. It averages data over five-year periods because arms sales vary by year. “Pakistan – which accounted for 55 per cent of Chinese arms exports – is likely to remain the largest recipient of Chinese arms in the coming years due to large outstanding and planned orders for combat aircraft, submarines and frigates,” SIPRI said. Myanmar, which has been undergoing fragile reforms that the United States thinks could help counter Beijing's influence in the region, received 8 per cent of China's weapons exports. Bangladesh received 7 per cent of the arms, and Algeria, Venezuela and Morocco have bought Chinese-made frigates, aircraft or armoured vehicles in the past several years. Beijing does not release official figures for arms sales. Germany and France ranked third and fourth on the arms exporter list. China followed only India in the acquisition of arms, though its reliance on imports is decreasing as it ramps up weapons production capabilities at home. After decades of steep increases in military spending and cash injections into domestic defence contractors, experts say some Chinese-made equipment is now comparable to Russian or Western counterparts, though accurate information about the performance of Chinese weapons is scarce. China faces bans on Western military imports, dating back to anger over its crushing of pro-democracy protests in and around Tiananmen Square in 1989. That makes its domestic arms industry crucial in assembling a modern military force that can enforce claims over Taiwan and disputed maritime territories. China has faced off recently with its Southeast Asian neighbours and Japan over conflicting claims to strings of islets in the South China Sea and East China Sea, even as the United States executes a military pivot towards the Pacific. ^ top ^

Top US officials due to visit Beijing to cement ties with new leadership (SCMP)
Two top-ranking US cabinet members will be visiting China in the next month after the installation of the new leadership. Analysts say it suggests a common desire by the leaders of the world's two most powerful nations to work more closely together on a range of issues. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will arrive today, with Secretary of State John Kerry to follow during a tour of three Northeast Asian countries next month. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will also visit next month. The news comes after several relatively quiet months in Sino-US diplomacy, with both nations more focused on major government reshuffles. Analysts said the revived diplomatic effort was a sign that US President Barack Obama wanted a closer working relationship with the new government, headed by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. [...] On Thursday, Obama was among the first world leaders to call Xi to congratulate him on becoming president and to discuss future relations. […] Analysts said issues that required consultation and action included the heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula in the wake of North Korea's third nuclear test and the heated row between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, called the Senkakus by Tokyo. Another was sovereignty disputes involving China and several Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea. Claims that China was behind the hacking of US computers have also become a hot topic. Beijing is searching for a response to the Obama administration's strategic "pivot" towards the Asia-Pacific region, a move many Chinese interpret as a bid to contain the country's rise. At a recent news conference, Yang Jiechi, China's top diplomat, said Beijing welcomed the US playing a "constructive role" in the Asia-Pacific region, but "at the same time, the US side should respect the Chinese side's interests and concerns".[...]. ^ top ^

Washington missile boost to inflame tension, FM says (Global Times)
China warned Monday that the US plan to beef up missile defenses in response to threats from North Korea would further strain regional tensions, urging Washington to seek solutions to the issue via diplomatic means. "The anti-missile issue concerns global and regional strategic balance and stability, as well as strategic trust between relevant countries. Actions of bolstering anti-missile defenses will only inflame antagonism and will not help to find a solution for the problem," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily press briefing. China hopes relevant countries can adopt a responsible attitude and act in a cautious manner, Hong added. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Friday that Washington would deploy an additional 14 ground-based missile interceptors in Alaska in response to provocations from North Korea, bringing its total number to 44. Pyongyang threatened to launch preemptive nuclear strikes against the US after the UN slapped new sanctions over North Korea's nuclear test last month. North Korea also test-fired short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan on Friday, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, after North leader Kim Jong-un oversaw a live-fire drill near the disputed Yellow Sea border with the South. […] The ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads and use them on intercontinental rockets is very complicated and it would take a long time to acquire the ability, Lü Chao, director of the Korean Research Center at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "I think the US was quite clear that North Korea's threats are more rhetoric than action, but the US still wanted to use the opportunity to ramp up its military deterrence against North Korea," Lü noted. US President Barack Obama told ABC News in an interview last week that he did not think Pyongyang could carry out a missile attack on the US, but said Washington should be wary. The US move could also have other significant regional implications, Lü added, noting that Alaska is also close to Russian territory and China. ^ top ^

Chinese president says BRICS cooperation benefits world economy (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Tuesday that cooperation among BRICS countries is conducive to a more balanced world economy and the improvement of global economic governance. […] He said the BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, have become an important force in safeguarding world peace and promoting common development. As to the reform of the global economic governance, Xi said it must reflect the profound changes in the global economic landscape, and the representation and the voice of emerging markets and developing countries should be raised. The newly-elected president of China is scheduled to attend the fifth BRICS summit on March 26-27 in Durban, South Africa. He said China is expecting the summit to send positive messages of unity, cooperation and double win to the international community. It is the first time that the BRICS summit is held on the African continent, with the cooperation between the BRICS countries and Africa high on the agenda. Xi said both China and Africa are of the developing world and share broad common interests, pledging Beijing will continue its role as a staunch supporter of Africa's development. [...] China and Africa are enjoying all-around and mutually beneficial cooperation, he added. In addition to attending the BRICS summit, Xi is also due to visit Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo between March 22 and 30 on his first overseas tour since he took office last week, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. With Russia to be the first leg, Xi said his forthcoming visit to Moscow shows the high level and special nature of the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between the two countries. "The fact that I will visit Russia, our friendly neighbor, shortly after I become China's president, is a testimony to the great importance China places on its relations with Russia," Xi said. "China and Russia are each other's major and most important strategic partners of coordination and both countries accord priority to their bilateral relationship in their overall diplomatic agenda and foreign policy," Xi said. He said the two countries should consolidate strategic and political mutual trust, enhance mutual support in issues concerning each other's core interests, expand pragmatic cooperation and deepen people-to-people communication. China and Russia should strengthen coordination in international and regional affairs to safeguard world peace, safety and stability, Xi said, adding he is looking forward to exchanging views with Russian President Vladimir Putin on bilateral ties. Commenting on the relations with the rest of the world, Xi said China will adhere to the path of peaceful development. [...] China, as its strength grows, will assume more international responsibilities and obligations within the scope of its capabilities and make greater contribution to world peace and development, the president said. China hopes that countries and civilizations around the world will carry out exchanges on the equal footing, learn form each other and achieve common progress, added Xi. The Chinese president also urged all countries to make united efforts to build a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping and US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew vow to strengthen Sino-US ties (SCMP)
President Xi Jinping and visiting US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew yesterday pledged to work together to advance bilateral ties, in the first high-level meeting between the world's two biggest economies since leadership reshuffles in both countries. It was Xi's first diplomatic activity since being elected head of state last week and the first high-level contact between the two governments since a leadership transition in China that has taken months and began with Xi being named Communist Party leader in November. Lew is the first cabinet-level US official to visit Beijing since US President Barack Obama began his second term in January and it is Lew's first visit abroad since he took office three weeks ago. […]. Xi said the fact that Obama had dispatched Lew as his personal representative to visit China suggested that the US leader attached great importance to Sino-US ties, state-run China Central Television reported. "I attach great importance to China-US relations, and am willing to work with the US side to jointly advance the co-operative partnership," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying. The two nations' economies had a "seamless connection" and their relationship was of "great importance", Xi said. Although differences existed, Xi said that as long as the two sides viewed bilateral ties from a strategic and long-term perspective, the relationship would continue to advance. In response, Lew said Obama was also "firmly committed to building a relationship of growing strength". He said Washington wanted to work with Beijing to reduce trade and investment barriers and to "protect the work of our innovators" - a reference to complaints about rampant Chinese copying of foreign goods. He said the US government also looked forward to China's growth as a market for foreign goods. Lew raised the issues of the yuan's exchange rate, intellectual property, cybersecurity and North Korea during the 45-minute meeting, a US official said. […] Secretary of State John Kerry will visit China in April. ^ top ^

China to push forward Arms Trade Treaty negotiations (Xinhua)
China hopes to work with all parties concerned to push forward negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday. "China attaches great importance to the problems created by the illicit trade in conventional weapons," spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing. He said China approves of effectively addressing these problems through rational and proper regulations on the arms trade. The UN Final Conference on the ATT is being held at the UN Headquarters in New York City on March 18-28. The ATT is expected to be a key tool in helping reduce problems caused by irresponsible international arms transfers and arms brokering. "China has been actively participating in the negotiations on the treaty with a responsible and constructive attitude," said the spokesman. He said China attaches great importance to the conference, and hopes to make joint efforts with all parties concerned to reach a consensus on a feasible and generally accepted treaty. In December 2006, the UN General Assembly voted to begin working on a new treaty regulating international trade in conventional weapons. The last round of negotiations on the ATT ended last July without an agreement. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping looks to boost ties during visit to Moscow (SCMP)
President Xi Jinping will arrive in Moscow tomorrow on his first overseas trip as China's head of state. Russia has been chosen in a bid to further tap into the enormous shared geopolitical and business interests of the two neighbours, which share a complicated past. First lady Peng Liyuan, a famous folk singer, will accompany her husband on the trip. It will mark the couple's first public appearance together since Xi took the helm of the Communist Party in November. Analysts expect Peng will be different from her predecessors by taking a more active role in community services to promote the country's "soft power", as her foreign counterparts often do. Western diplomats and analysts see China's growing ties with Russia as evidence of a shared interest in countering the US-led Western alliance's domination of global affairs. [...] Jin Canrong, a professor at Renmin University's school of international relations, said that growing, shared interests in global affairs had pushed both nations closer together. Jin said maintaining peace along their shared border remained a top concern. [...] He added that Russia and China had stood together on several global diplomatic issues, including the ongoing fighting in Syria and other conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. They had also co-ordinated and co-operated closely on the North Korean nuclear crisis. [...] In recent years, Russia and China have furthered co-operation in the oil, gas, atomic energy and coal sectors, plus the field of technology. The China Institute of Contemporary International Relations forecasts that trade between Russia and China will exceed US$100 billion in 2015. It grew 11.6 per cent last year to US$88.1 billion. Long-stalled talks on a Russia-China gas pipeline gas deal will top the agenda during Xi's summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the Xi presidency seen as a chance for a fresh start in the talks. In briefings in Beijing, Vice-Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping and Russian ambassador to China Sergei Razov had struck an optimistic note, saying that "significant progress" had been made and that both nations hoped that a breakthrough on the deal would be made during the visit. [...] Cheng told a briefing yesterday that Russia and China would co-ordinate their reactions to US plans to boost its missile defence in the Asia-Pacific region, which the US says will protect it from a potential North Korean attack. During his stay of less than 48 hours, Xi is scheduled to attend about 20 events, including making a speech to students at Moscow College of International Relations. [...] Xi will attend the BRICS summit in South Africa next week of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. ^ top ^

Chinese, S. Korean leaders pledge to promote bilateral ties, maintain regional stability (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye pledged Wednesday in a telephone discussion to further relations between their countries and make more efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Initiating the call, Park offered congratulations on Xi's election as Chinese president and lauded "the Chinese Dream" that Xi has promoted to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the well-being of the Chinese people. [...] Expressing his appreciation of Park's congratulations, Xi said the ever growing Sino-South Korean ties in the past 20 years have brought tangible benefits to the two countries and their peoples, and played an important role in maintaining regional peace and stability. Xi emphasized the importance of enhanced mutual understanding, trust and cooperation to the two countries as well as regional peace and development under the current circumstances. The Chinese president said China has taken South Korea as an important partner of strategic cooperation and is ready to join hands with it to push their relations to a higher level. Xi noted that peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is relevant to the interests of the Koreans and the Chinese people. China, which has been long devoted to realize denuclearization on the Peninsula through dialogue and consultation, is willing to provide assistance necessary to the reconciliation and cooperation between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and South Korea, he added. All parties concerned in the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula should make efforts to ease the current tension and achieve turnabout of the situation. Park echoed Xi, saying South Korea is ready to join the efforts for denuclearization on the Peninsula, and work with China to safeguard peace, stability and prosperity on the Peninsula and in a wider East Asia. ^ top ^

Chinese president pledges to deepen cooperation with U.N. (Xinhua)
New Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday pledged that his country will deepen cooperation with the United Nations and shoulder due international obligations. In a telephone conversation with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Xi said that China will work with the United Nations to safeguard international justice and promote international cooperation so as to contribute more to peace and development of the world. China has always been a staunch supporter and an important partner of the United Nations, Xi told Ban. China has actively advocated and pursued multilateralism, upheld the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter and safeguarded the authority of the United Nations and respected its roles in world affairs, Xi added. The United Nations, in particular, has made important contributions to peace and development in Africa. China is willing to step up cooperation and exchanges with the United Nations to boost peace and development in Africa and in the world at large, said Xi. Ban congratulated Xi on his election as Chinese president. He expressed the belief that the Chinese people would be able to realize the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation under Xi's leadership. The U.N. chief thanked China for its strong support for the world body and expressed the belief that cooperation between China and the United Nations would be further expanded. Ban also wished Xi success in his forthcoming visit to Russia and the three African nations of Tanzania, Congo and South Africa. He also expressed the hope that the BRICS summit in South Africa would produce positive results. The United Nations is willing to strengthen cooperation with China in African affairs, he said. The United Nations highly appreciates China's adherence to the road of peaceful development and expects China to play a greater and more active role in world affairs, said Ban. Xi said that China's development is inseparable from that of the outside world and that China stick to the path of peaceful development, continue opening-up policies and promote world peace and development. ^ top ^

U.S. ready to levy steep duties on drawn stainless steel sinks from China (Xinhua)
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) on Thursday decided that the domestic industry was materially injured by imported drawn stainless steel sinks from China, thus allowing Washington to impose punitive duties on these products. The ruling, another move by Washington that smacks of trade protectionism against China, was backed by all six commissioners of the federal bipartisan trade panel. It cleared the way for the U.S. Commerce Department to issue antidumping and countervailing duty orders on imports of drawn stainless steel sinks from China. The Commerce Department alleged in Feb. 20 that Chinese producers and exporters sold drawn stainless steel sinks in the U. S. market at dumping margins ranging from 27.14 percent to 76.53 percent, and those products from China also received countervailable subsidies of 4.8 percent to 12.26 percent. The latest USITC decision concluded the probe that commenced on March 1, 2012, in response to a petition filed by Illinois-based Elkay Manufacturing Company. Imports of drawn stainless sinks from China were valued at an estimated 118 million U.S. dollars in 2011, according to the U.S. government. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has repeatedly urged the United States to abide by its commitment against protectionism and work together with China and other members of the international community to maintain a free, open and just international trade environment. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China unveils new cabinet amid function reform (Xinhua)
China's new cabinet, which was unveiled on Saturday, is expected to accelerate its functional transformation and present a new style under new Premier Li Keqiang. Citizens expect the new cabinet members to create a favorable environment for development, provide high-quality public services and maintain social fairness and justice. All of these will set a decisive foundation for building a well-off society in an all-round way and realizing the "Chinese dream" -- the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Members of the State Council, or China's cabinet, include ministers, heads of commissions, the central bank governor and auditor-general. With the launch of a restructuring plan, the current cabinet lineup has 25 members, two fewer than the previous one. According to legal procedures, they were nominated by the new premier, endorsed by lawmakers at the first session of the 12th National People's Congress and appointed by newly-elected President Xi Jinping. The average age of the new cabinet members is 60, nearly three years older than the last lineup. On the whole, however, they have richer work experience in central and local departments and remarkable advantages in terms of their knowledge, education and professionalism. All cabinet members have a college education background, an 11-percent increase over the last cabinet. In the new cabinet, one member has a junior college certificate and three are university graduates. Twenty-one members have post-graduate diplomas, accounting for nearly 85 percent, or 14 percent higher than the previous cabinet. Furthermore, their college majors are more diverse, with a remarkable increase in humanities. The cabinet has eight new faces, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei, Minister of Supervision Huang Shuxian, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng, Minister of Land and Resources Jiang Daming and Minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission Li Bin. Wang Yi, who was previously director of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, has also worked in the foreign ministry before, holding the posts of vice foreign minister and the Communist Party of China (CPC) chief of the ministry. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping outlines his vision of 'dream and renaissance' (SCMP)
China's new leaders vowed to maintain sustainable growth for the world's second biggest economy and "pursue a renaissance of the Chinese nation" at yesterday's conclusion of an annual parliamentary session that completed the transfer of power to a new leadership. In his maiden speech as head of state, Xi Jinping invoked his favourite concept of the "China dream" and laid out a vision of a stronger nation with a higher standard of living for its 1.3 billion people during his administration. New Premier Li Keqiang, speaking later at a news conference in the Great Hall of the People that wrapped up the two-week annual session of the National People's Congress, gave assurances that the new government's top priority would be to maintain stable growth and that his administration was up to the task, a message likely to be applauded by investors and the market. Both Xi and Li stressed the necessity of deepening reform to deliver sustained growth but neither mentioned systematic political reform. Painting his vision of a great renaissance of the nation, Xi stressed that the "China dream" could only be realised by seeking "China's own path," cultivating patriotism and following the Communist Party's leadership. "We must continue to strive to achieve the China dream and the nation's great revival," he said. Analysts say Xi's speech outlined lofty goals but stopped short of mentioning initiatives that would have real impact. Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based historian, said: "It stressed that everyone should rally around the Communist Party: Follow us, then we'll have a bright future." On a more down-to-earth note, Li defined the areas of reform for his cabinet in his 107-minute-long debut press conference as premier. They focused on administrative streamlining to make governance more efficient. These included transforming government roles and functions, simplifying bureaucratic procedures and delegating power. […] In an effort to show his determination to tackle the obstacles in pushing forward economic reform, he said: "Sometimes stirring vested interests may be more difficult that stirring the soul. "But however deep the water may be, we will wade into the water. This is because we have no alternative. Reform concerns the destiny of our country and the future of our nation." […] Zhang Ming, a political science professor at Renmin University, said such goals indicated China would not see radical changes in the near future. "Political reform was omitted," Zhang said. "The new government will probably make no structural or radical change.". ^ top ^

Li sets out strategic mission for next 5 years (China Daily)
Premier Li Keqiang outlined the top three tasks of the new government over the next five years, and vowed to push forward reforms and the rule of law, at his media debut in his new position on Sunday. Maintaining economic growth, improving people's livelihood and safeguarding social justice are the government's three main tasks, Li said. […] "The most important one, I think, is to facilitate the continuous growth of the economy," he said. China may face complex economic conditions, he said, noting that the government must overcome adversity, handle change calmly, facilitate economic growth, curb inflation and prevent major fluctuations of the economy. To reach the target of doubling 2010 per capita GDP and personal income by 2020, China must register annual average economic growth of 7.5 percent over the next few years, he said. The second task, Li said, is to improve people's livelihood by raising the income of urban and rural residents, in particular for those in impoverished areas, and to expand the size of the middle class. He emphasized the significance of establishing a solid social security network to safeguard basic public welfare, especially concerning education, medical care, social insurance and housing. A welfare system and medical aid must be in place for the poor to fall back on if they encounter difficulties, he said. Li said his government would strive to ensure all Chinese people enjoy equal opportunities and receive due rewards for their hard work, regardless of social or family backgrounds. But Li acknowledged that these are not easy tasks and could only be realized through deepening reforms and upholding the rule of law. In reforming the country's financial sectors, he reiterated the government will carry out market-oriented reforms of interest rates, the currency exchange rate, develop a multi-tier capital market and make direct financing easier. To improve public well-being, Li said the government needs to reform the income distribution system and narrow the gap between urban and rural areas. While allowing more private capital to invest in the financial, energy, railway and other sectors, the government will also reform social security, medical and pension insurance to contribute to labor mobility, the premier said. The premier also said he will push forward the reform of streamlining government functions and cut the existing 1,700 administrative approval items by at least one-third in the coming five years. […] Li acknowledged on Sunday the difficulty in advancing reform as the nation has to shake up vested interests, which he said may be more difficult than "touching the soul". Li urged the "building of a modern economy, modern society and modern government with the spirit of the rule of law," and vowed to "be loyal to the Constitution". "The law has a sacred place in society. No matter who he or she is and what he or she does, the boundaries of the law should not be breached," he said. ^ top ^

Officials facing extensive reshuffles after two sessions (Global Times)
Extensive reshuffles of official positions in central and local governments are expected to continue following the transition of the top leadership at the recently-concluded two sessions, which saw a slew of provincial leaders being promoted. Li Jiahua, former Party chief of the Chinese Academy of Governance, was appointed secretary of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China on Tuesday. At least nine provincial-level officials received promotions during the two sessions, acquiring posts in the country's top legislature, political advisory body and ministry-level organs. Zhang Xixian, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said the large-scale political reshuffle, which occurs every 10 years, had new features compared with those of past decades, as China is progressing from extensive economic growth to scientific development. It is obvious that most newly-elected or promoted officials were born after 1949. They have more differences with those born before the founding of New China, said Zhu Lijia, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance. "They are more aware of the problems and obstacles lying ahead in the process of further developing the socialist country," Zhu told the Global Times. Qin Yizhi, 48, former deputy chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional government, was appointed Tuesday the first secretary of the Secretariat of the Communist Youth League of China Central Committee. With more provincial-level cadres being transferred to new posts, the vacancies are expected to be filled via varied means. A series of administrative organs affiliated with the State Council are also expected to appoint new leaders soon. Zhu expressed his expectations of the new generation of officials, saying they are "not only for reform, but also support the direction of reform," which he said is crucial for the realization of the "Chinese dream" to be shared by the Chinese people. ^ top ^

China's new ethnic affairs commissioner 'has little power' (SCMP)
The appointment of a Hui Muslim as head of the State Council's ethnic affairs body may seem strategic, but experts say this will do little to ease the country's ethnic tensions as the chief will have limited political power. Wang Zhengwei, 55, chairman of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in the northwest, succeeds Yang Jing as head of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission (SEAC). Wang is also the youngest vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), whose meeting ended on Tuesday. However, Ilhan Tohti, a Central University for Nationalities economics professor and an ethnic Uygur, said the commission "has had the lowest political impact among the 25 departments under the State Council since [the SEAC] was set up in 1949, no matter what official rankings its heads have held". "As an ethnic Hui from Ningxia, Wang might be more familiar with Uygurs, but he can't influence China's ethnic policy because the role of CPPCC is just a 'political vase' [for display]," the academic said. […] Meanwhile, Jiang Zhaoyong, a Beijing-based expert on ethnic issues, said the SEAC had no political role as it was simply involved in research and education. "It's a fact that Wang can't do anything to influence our country's ethnic affairs," Jiang said. "In Xinjiang [a restive region in the northwest], all ethnic issues are decided by the party's Political and Legal Affairs Commission, while the United Front Work Department controls Tibetan policies." Yang Jing himself was vice-minister of the department when he headed the SEAC from 2008 until his promotion this year. He was named one of five state councillors on Saturday. Tohti pointed out that two party officials from ethnic minority backgrounds - former vice-premier Yang Jingren, a Hui from Gansu province, and Ismail Amat, an Uygur from Xinjiang - headed the commission from 1978 to 1998, but ethnic conflicts between minority Uygurs and Han Chinese who settled in the region continued for nearly four decades. ^ top ^

Train tickets may cost more than air travel (China Daily)
Traveling by train could become more expensive than flying after the reform of China's railways authorities, a top engineer said. Wang Mengshu, deputy chief engineer of the China Railway Tunnel Group and a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, predicted the debts built up by the now-defunct Railways Ministry will lead to a rise in prices. Railway freight costs have not increased for 30 years, but that will end after the establishment of China Railway Corp, the 75-year-old said. He also expressed concern the corporation is likely to construct the most profitable railways rather than the most needed. […] During the [National People's Congress], the Ministry of Railways, which was established in 1949, was dismantled. China Railway Corp has taken over its commercial functions, while the administrative functions were absorbed by the Ministry of Transport. The reform was in response to public criticism over the fact the Railways Ministry was both a policymaker and service provider. […] Wang said that steady railway prices have contributed to the country's economic growth. However, China Railway Corp will have to take high costs and its mountainous debt into consideration when setting new ticket prices. Railways Ministry data showed that by the end of September, the authority had amassed a debt of 2.66 trillion yuan ($428 billion). Wang said most of the debt was caused by the rapid expansion of high-speed rail. […] Wang called on the central government to pay part of the debt from revenues, as construction of the railways benefits most citizens. "If the central government refuses to cover part of the debt, the corporation will have no choice but to raise ticket prices," he said. "Some tickets for high-speed lines will probably cost more than airline flights." His remarks have stirred controversy. Some people criticized him for defending the monopoly status of China Railway Corp, while others praised his honesty. […]. ^ top ^

Provincial chiefs named as a new generation steps up (SCMP)
A number of new provincial Communist Party bosses were appointed yesterday, plus four deputy party secretaries expected to succeed provincial governors who have already been given new jobs. Meanwhile, a Taiwan affairs official from Fuzhou, Fujian, yesterday confirmed speculation that former trade minister Chen Deming would become the mainland's top negotiator with Taiwan. Zhou Benshun, secretary general of the party's Political and Legal Affairs Commission, has been appointed party chief of Hebei province, succeeding Zhang Qingli, who was made a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference last week. Zhou, 60, is widely considered a protégé of retired security tsar Zhou Yongkang and a hard-line party official. In a 2011 article published in the party journal Qiushi, he described the concept of civil society as a politically dangerous trap that Western countries wanted to sell to China. Over in the northern autonomous region of Ningxia, chairwoman-in-waiting Liu Hui is set to become one of the few women in China's governing elite. Liu, 53, was appointed as vice-chairwoman of Ningxia's government last month and had now been appointed the region's deputy party secretary. Liu, who spent most of her political career in the region's Communist Youth League, is expected to become acting chairwoman of the government until formal confirmation of that role at the region's people's congress meeting early next year. Former national youth league head Lu Hao, a 45-year-old rising star, was appointed deputy party secretary of Heilongjiang province, putting him in line to succeed governor Wang Xiankui, 61, who was appointed as Heilongjiang's party secretary. Henan governor Guo Gengmao was also promoted to provincial party secretary, replacing Lu Zhangong, who was elected as vice-chairman of the CPPCC. Former State Council policy research chief Xie Fuzhan is set to become Henan's governor. Qinghai party chief Qiang Wei officially became the top party official in Jiangxi province, as predicted on Tuesday. Cai Fuchao, former head of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, made his first appearance on Tuesday as director of the reorganised department which now also oversees the press and publishing. A Taiwan affairs official from Fuzhou said in Hong Kong yesterday that Chen Deming would soon become chairman of Beijing's semi-official Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait. "The cross-strait economic and trading talks have entered deep water, with investment protection and the trading of commodities and services being the most difficult topics," the official said on the sidelines of a commercial forum. ^ top ^

Drought continues to wreak havoc in SW China (Xinhua)
Little rainfall over the winter and into the spring has left many areas across southwest China facing a severe drought. As of Wednesday, nearly 2.6 million people and more than 1.33 million heads of livestock in southwest Chins'a Yunnan Province were facing a drinking water shortage, the provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said Wednesday. Dry weather and rising temperatures from Feb. 18 to March 10 have expanded the drought to 15 cities and prefectures across the province. Drought has affected the cities of Kunming, Yuxi, Chuxiong and Dali for four consecutive years, the headquarters said. In Dabaihu Village in Yanshan County of the Zhuang-Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Wenshan, villagers need to drive 5 kilometers to buy water, as the reservoirs and ponds have all dried up. "It costs 25 yuan to buy 1 cubic meter of water. My family is not rich, so we could only buy 400 yuan worth of water each time, but we spent almost 2,000 yuan buying water last winter. We have no idea how our lives will go on if it won't rain," said Wang Jiancheng, a villager of Dabaihu. (25 yuan is equal to about 4 U.S. dollars.) Lingering drought has also had a grave impact on western parts of neighboring Guizhou Province, where more than 910,000 people, 130,000 heads of livestock and 51,400 hectares of crops have been affected. Guizhou's civil affairs department said more than 3,000 hectares of crops will be barren due to the drought, and direct economic losses will exceed 200 million yuan. Meanwhile, southwest China's Sichuan Province has seen the widest-reaching drought in two decades. As of March 15, 126 counties in 12 cities and prefectures had been hit by the winter-spring drought, with 715,200 people and 789,400 heads of livestock short of drinking water, according to the provincial drought relief office. Relevant departments in those provinces have taken action to ensure people's water supplies, protect crops and reduce economic losses. ^ top ^

Future of rail reform unveiled (Global Times)
The transport ministry pledged Thursday to further push forward the transformation of its operations as emphasized during the recently-concluded annual "two sessions," in an effort to promote service quality. It also noted that the market will have a bigger say in determining railway ticket prices as reforms proceed. The newly reorganized Ministry of Transport (MOT) will make efforts to streamline administration and advance the construction of a comprehensive transportation system incorporating railways, He Jianzhong, a spokesperson for the ministry, told a press conference. "At the moment, the ministry is still in charge of 65 administrative project assessments and approvals, and we have started researching which should be canceled … and which can be transferred to local authorities," said He. Following the State Council's plan for institutional restructuring, the decades-old railways ministry was dismantled, with its overall development strategy and policy-making functions being transferred to the MOT. In the process, the State Railways Administration was established and put under the administration of the MOT. He said the bureau's main responsibilities would focus on the formulation of railway technical standards, supervision of railway construction and operational service quality, among others. On Thursday, some media reported that the newly founded China Railway Corporation, which is to take control of the former railways ministry's business functions, will maintain "ministry-level" status and will be directly overseen by the State Council. The news soon prompted people to worry that the reform will only have limited effects. Zhao Jian, a professor specializing in railway economics at the Beijing Jiaotong University, said that since there are still many problems left from the railways ministry, it is not surprising that the public is still pessimistic. "The former railways ministry left huge debts and the question of who will pay for them remains a problem. Meanwhile, more high-speed rail lines are still under construction, which may make the issue worse," said Zhao, adding that guaranteeing their safe operation in the future will require more efforts. The ministry was 2,600 billion yuan ($418 billion) in debt before the split. "Reform will certainly be difficult because it will affect the interests of vested groups and it takes a lot of time in terms of human resources rearrangement," Yun Jie, director of the administration research department at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "It's easy to work out a reform plan, but effectively implementing it will be tough." In response to the prevailing concern that railway ticket prices would go up after the railways system was pushed onto the market, He said supervision over the pricing of railway tickets should be strengthened by related authorities, but "as an enterprise, the National Railway Corporation should have a certain level of commercial autonomy." Yun said there will need to be a process before the railways sector fully enables market competition, and ticket prices are not expected to see remarkable changes in the short term. He also said the ministry will further loosen the access threshold for private capital to broaden the investment and financing of transportation construction. ^ top ^



Potable seawater to flow soon (Global Times)
Beijing is likely to begin piping in desalinated seawater from the Bohai Sea in three years, says the State-owned Beijing Enterprises Water Group Limited, claiming that it has mastered the core technology of seawater desalination. "The water meets all the 106 indices listed in the national water quality standards and has a higher degree of safety than the tap water Beijing is using now," said Zhang Yilan, manager of the seawater desalination department of the group, the Beijing Daily reported Saturday. The project is in Caofeidian in Tangshan, Hebei Province. Water will be transported 270 kilometers to Beijing through underground pipes through Tangshan, Tianjin and Langfang in Hebei Province, the report said. The project is expected to reach a capacity of 1 million tons daily in three years, which equals one third of the daily water consumption in Beijing. The cost for the water is around 4.5 yuan ($0.72) per ton, plus a transportation cost of 2.5 to 3.5 yuan, almost double the current water price in Beijing. The group said the project won't affect water prices for Beijing residents because it only constitutes part of the water supply, according to the Beijing Daily report. Wang Zhexiao, a water resource expert in Beijing, said while seawater desalination is a meaningful way to diversify the water supply, the fundamental solution for alleviating Beijing's water shortage is to promote the coordinated development model in the greater Beijing area. […] Other experts said desalinated water is likely not as nutritious. Ma Jun, director of the NGO Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said desalinated water might be purer than tap water, but it is not as healthy as traditional sources because the desalination process destroys most beneficial minerals found in drinking water. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing's limits to growth detailed (Global Times)
Beijing's capacity for future growth will be severely strained by existing shortages of water, land and civic services, which have been caused by a sharply increasing population over the last two decades, according to a study co-released Tuesday by the Social Sciences Academic Press and the Capital University of Economics and Business (CUEB). The 2013 Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Development Report: the Capacity Measurement and Solutions, said that Beijing's current population has already overstepped its capacity for sustainable development by 38 percent. "Beijing is facing huge pressures created by its growing population," Zhu Erjuan, director of the Capital Research Institute of Economics at CUEB and chief editor of the report, told the Global Times. "The mass of people and their economic activities are rapidly draining natural resources and overstraining the city's infrastructure." Beijing continues to attract huge numbers of people who are attracted by work and study opportunities, the study said. According to the study, the population of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province reached 104 million in 2010 and will hit 120 million in 2020. The region's current infrastructure growth will meet the needs of only 98 million people by 2015. "The population growth is already challenging the capacity to provide transportation, water, medical and education resources. Severe environmental damage is already apparent in the mega cities," the report said. Beijing's most pressing problem is water. The capital's water supply can only sustain 60 percent of its current residents, the report said, adding that the city's current per capita water resources in 2011 was 119 cubic meters, far short of the internationally recommended level of 1,000 cubic meters. Zhang Xuying, a researcher at China Population and Development Research Center, told the Global Times that the construction of the massive South-to-North Water Diversion Project, which will bring water from Southern China, will help alleviate Beijing's water shortage. [...] Lu Jiehua, professor of social demography at Peking University, told the Global Times that the government should try to redirect Beijing's population by evening out the huge economic gap between the capital and its surrounding cities. "People come to Beijing because there are jobs, industries and infrastructure that other areas don't have," Lu told the Global Times. "To get people to voluntarily leave Beijing, the government needs to provide opportunities for work in other regions," Lu added. While Lu wants to see more second-and third-tiers cities such as Shijiazhuang in Hebei be given a developmental push, the report's author Zhu believes Beijing's suburbs such as Tongzhou district and Daxing district still have growth potential. "Now is the time to develop strategies for growth in Beijing's outskirts. The government needs to learn from developed countries and plan for potential problems before they happen," Zhu said. ^ top ^



Dead pigs pulled from rivers in and near Shanghai top 13,000 (SCMP)
The number of pig carcasses recovered from rivers in and near Shanghai since early last week has surpassed 13,000. About 9,500 have been retrieved from the Huangpu River, a source of more than a fifth of the city's drinking water, as workers pulled nearly 500 more pig carcasses from the waterway yesterday. Upstream, the government of Jiaxing said it had recovered around 3,600 from streams in its jurisdiction. About 80 per cent of the pigs recovered yesterday were young hogs, the Shanghai government said in a statement. Government spokesman Xu Wei said the authorities were intensifying searches along the upper reaches of the Huangpu and were ready to move to waters bordering Jiaxing to prevent more pig carcasses from floating beyond the area. Starting from yesterday, all carcasses pulled from the river were taken to the city's animal-incineration centre, the statement said. The government previously said that some of the carcasses were buried near where they were recovered and others were incinerated. The quality of the river water and tap water in Shanghai remained normal, the government reiterated yesterday. In addition, six straight days of food-quality checks in the city's markets did not uncover any unqualified pork, it said. Shanghai also denied online rumours that some local pig farms and pork-derivative producers were connected to the scandal, as Jiaxing had insisted that it was not the only source of all the carcasses being retrieved from the Huangpu. Shanghai municipal animal health authorities, who had visited two pig farms and the Shanghai Maling Aquarius Company, a leading canned food producer, said on Saturday after their visits that they did not find any dead pigs or pork derivatives had been illegally disposed of, Xinhua reported. Meanwhile, the ongoing search for more dead pigs and the clean-up effort continued yesterday in river-interlaced Jiaxing. Townships had sent out brochures to pig farmers urging them to allow government workers to collect dead pigs instead of disposing them on their own, the website of the Jiaxing Daily reported yesterday. A series of similar carcass discoveries have been reported across the nation since residents started complaining on March 5 about finding dead pigs in the Huangpu.There has been an abnormally high number of dead hogs following an outbreak of porcine circovirus, a common disease, plus changeable weather this winter, the Ministry of Agriculture said on its website. ^ top ^

Pressure grows in Shanghai over dead pigs in Huangpu River (SCMP)
Shanghai authorities are under increasing pressure to release detailed information about tests on water in the Huangpu River, from which more than 10,000 dead pigs have been retrieved. Officials from the water, environmental protection, health and agricultural authorities will meet today to discuss possible publication of test results. Shanghai's municipal government has insisted water quality in the Huangpu River, which provides water to more than a fifth of the city's residents, has not been affected by the dead pigs. It said the nine measures of water quality - including turbidity, ammonia-nitrogen level, coli bacillus level and chemical oxygen demand - had tested as normal, without giving specific figures. Tests for six kinds of virus and five kinds of bacterium, all related to pig diseases, had also been carried out since the first reports of dead pigs in the river at the start of this month. All the tests had so far proved negative. The authorities said tap water from water plants in the city's Songjiang, Jinshan, Minhang and Fengxian districts, which took water from the river, had met national standards. "Recently we have received a large number of inquiries from university students and other residents from those four districts asking for concrete information about the water tests," an official from the municipal water authority's inquiries hotline said. "When I told them that according to the government's publicity regulation, we are required to reply to their inquiries within 15 working days, they became enraged and sometimes scolded me and my colleagues." Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said Shanghai's government should let the public know more "specific and comprehensive" information about the water tests, rather than giving them vague assurances that there was no problem. "The public tend to ask why the water quality in the Huangpu River, where so many dead pigs were floating, hasn't deteriorated," Ma said. "In the circumstances, the authorities should release more details and should do it more frequently." He also suggested that independent institutions should be invited to conduct water tests to ease public concerns. ^ top ^



Police seek foreign aids in investigating self-immolation case (Xinhua)
Chinese police have sent co-investigation request to police authorities in related countries concerning a 32-year-old man who instigated a self-immolation incident in which two teenage boys died. Police in southwest China's Sichuan Province said two teenagers died after setting themselves ablaze in Jamcha Village, Ruoergai County, in the Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba. Rinchen Tseli, 15, and Sonam Dakyi, 16, self-immolated on Feb. 19 and died at the scene, according to a statement released Monday by police authorities. Fear and homesickness prompted Ye Ja, a 17-year-old who had planned to self-immolate with the other two teens, to reconsider, said the statement. Police said they found that Rinchen Tseli's 32-year-old uncle, known as Tenpa Gyatso, among other names, organized the self-immolations. He formerly served as a monk in the Jage Monastery in Jamcha Village. Tenpa Gyatso illegally crossed the border to India's Dorje Monastery in 2007, and he was also a staff member with the press contact group of India's Kirti Monastery. He maintained close contact with Rinchen Tseli and inculcated the idea of "Tibet independence" upon him frequently, said the statement. Since January, Tenpa Gyatso repeatedly incited Rinchen Tseli to self-immolate through the Internet-based smartphone chatting software WeChat and claimed that self-immolators are "national heroes," according to the statement. "The Indian side will carve your name on the Monument to Self-immolators in Takla Sala and pray for you. You will become an extraordinary man," Tenpa Gyatso encouraged Rinchen Tseli, according to the statement. Tenpa Gyatso described self-immolation as "a beautiful thing," and asked Rinchen Tseli whether he would dare self-immolate. Under the continuous instigation of Tenpa Gyatso, Rinchen Tseli finally agreed to self-immolate and even suggested convincing others to do so, as well. Tenpa Gyatso also ordered Rinchen to send pictures that could be used in propaganda spread overseas following the self-immolations. Rinchen Tseli found his friends Sonam Dakyi and Ye Ja, and coaxed them into jointly planning the self-immolation activity. The statement cited police authorities as saying that organizing self-immolations and convincing others to commit such acts jeopardize society and constitute serious criminal acts. Police have vowed to continue investigations into such cases and punish those responsible. ^ top ^

Self-immolation by monk confirmed (Global Times)
A senior police officer in Sichuan Province's Aba prefecture, which is home to many Tibetans, confirmed to the Global Times Monday that a monk in the Kirti Monastery self-immolated and died on Saturday. Zhou Mu, an officer with Aba county's public security bureau, told the Global Times a 27-year-old monk named Thokmey self-immolated in his room on Saturday and was declared dead at a hospital in Maerkang, capital of Aba prefecture. "He ran out of his room for some 200 meters toward the monastery gate, and collapsed. Police officers found him and extinguished the fire," Zhou told the Global Times, adding that the monk was carrying a religious flag. Police said it remains unclear if other monks were involved, Zhou said. A media officer with the county government also confirmed there was a self-immolation but said no further details were available. A Kirti Monastery management deputy director refused to comment on the case. The monk died on March 16, the fifth anniversary of a day of unrest in 2008, during which officials say some 300 monks rushed out of the Kirti Monastery and attacked police and local government offices. Another monk also killed himself on the same date in 2011 and armed police stood guard around the Kirti Monastery for a month to prevent other immolations or unrest, Zhou told the Global Times earlier. Meanwhile, a government employee in Ruoergai county of Aba prefecture on Monday said a recent Radio Free Asia report was wrong when it reported that a 31-year-old Tibetan woman self-immolated before midnight Wednesday in protest against government policies. "A Tibetan woman did die last week, but it was not a self-immolation. It is likely a criminal case," said Yang Yunjian, a media officer with Ruoergai's county government, adding that police are investigating. ^ top ^

Police dismiss reports of Tibetan woman's self-immolation (Global Times)
Officials in the ethnically-Tibetan prefecture of Aba, Sichuan Province told the Global Times Tuesday that the charred remains of a woman discovered on March 12 in Aba's Ruoergai county was the result of a homicide, dismissing earlier media reports of self-immolation. Local police said 28-year-old Guangqiu Ome (name transcribed from Chinese report) was strangled to death by her husband, who later burned her body on the morning of March 12. The husband, 32-year old Drolma Gya, is now in police custody. According to Aba prefecture media officer Jiang Zuquan, the strangling occurred after a fight escalated between the couple over Drolma Gya's alcohol addiction at their home at Dazha township on the evening of March 11. Drolma then moved the body to a nearby building at around 2 am the next day and set her body ablaze with gasoline. Jiang added he was certain the case was not a protest against Chinese policy in Tibetan-inhabited areas as reported by Radio Free Asia. The news follows police confirmation of a 27-year-old Kirti Monastery monk named Thokmey who self-immolated in his room on Saturday and was declared dead at a hospital in Maerkang, capital of Aba prefecture. ^ top ^

Tibetan man detained after wife self-immolates (SCMP)
A Tibetan woman burned herself to death, leading authorities in China to detain her husband, rights groups and media reports said on Tuesday, in the latest such protest against Beijing's rule. Around 110 Tibetans have now set themselves on fire since 2009. Kunchok Wangmo, in her early 30s, set herself on fire in southwestern Sichuan province's Aba prefecture, said the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and UK-based Free Tibet, which spelled her name Kunchoek. Free Tibet and the US-based Radio Free Asia added that authorities cremated the body and handed the ashes to her family, then detained her husband Dolma Kyab after he refused to blame the death on family problems. The incident occurred on March 13 but was only reported this week. Many Tibetans in China accuse the authorities of repressing their religion and eroding their culture as the country's Han ethnic majority increasingly moves into traditionally Tibetan areas. Tensions erupted in violent protests in March 2008 in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, which then spread into neighbouring areas. Authorities have sought to crack down on the protests by arresting and trying those accused of inciting them, while also launching a major publicity drive on the issue. A court in the nearby province of Qinghai on Tuesday sentenced three men to four to six years for “state subversion”, saying they “used others' self-immolations” and “spread text and images related to Tibetan independence”, the People's Daily said on its website. Beijing accuses the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and his “clique” of inciting such acts to push a separatist agenda, and has previously jailed Tibetans in China for sending information about immolations abroad. The Nobel peace laureate says he is seeking greater autonomy rather than Tibetan independence. He fled his homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising, and has since based himself in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala. ^ top ^



Xinjiang police detain 5 for dealing counterfeit money (Xinhua)
Police in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region confirmed Saturday that they have detained five suspects for selling a large sum of counterfeit money. Police conducted a sting operation last week while the suspects were making the deal. Two of the suspects threw the money on the street as they tried to escape from the police. Li Zhenyu, a police officer involved in the case, said the scattered money created temporary chaos on the street. However, passersby helped retrieve 60,000 yuan (9,600 U.S. dollars) in counterfeit cash after police shouted that the money was fake. Police seized another 340,000 yuan in counterfeit money from the suspects' car. The money was transported by the sellers from east China's Anhui Province. The buyers intended to use the cash in marketplaces in Urumqi. The case is still under investigation. ^ top ^

Melting snow wreaks havoc in Xinjiang (Xinhua)
More than 16,000 people have been affected and thousands of houses damaged by floods triggered by melting snow in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, local authorities said Tuesday. Temperatures in Xinjiang's northern Burqin County are rising, leading to melting snow in mountainous areas and flooding. It has caused damage and direct economic losses of more than 80 million yuan (12.87 million U.S. dollars). As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, more than 16,000 people in the county were affected, and about 7,000 houses collapsed or were damaged by the floods. More than 2,300 residents have been relocated, according to Xinjiang's Civil Affairs Department. Local Communist Party members and villagers have been dispatched to repair and reinforce channels and dams, and eliminate potential risks and reduce economic losses. ^ top ^



Xi asks Hongkongers to think of national interest (SCMP)
President Xi Jinping, in his first open speech as head of state, appealed to Hongkongers to uphold the interests of the nation and the city. "Compatriots in the Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions should put emphasis on the country, Hong Kong and Macau's overall interest," Xi told delegates at the closing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing yesterday. "[This is] so as to safeguard and foster the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macau," he said. Last March, about two weeks before Hong Kong's chief executive election, then vice-president Xi had also told delegates to the legislature that the city should put the country's overall interest above their personal concerns. Xi's speech yesterday came shortly before new Premier Li Keqiang urged Hong Kong to make good and full use of the central government's policy initiatives that benefit the city. Local NPC deputies and a political analyst said Li's comment referred to some of the 36 economic, financial, tourism, social and Guangdong-Hong Kong co-operation measures announced during his 2011 visit to the city, as well as to the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa) initiatives that had not been fully utilised. Asked if he had plans to introduce any other measures to help Hong Kong after his "gifts" two years ago, Li said: "One has to take the goods in the gift box out one by one, in order to make good and full use of them." "The two sides [the mainland and Hong Kong] have to work together," the new premier said, adding that Beijing would do its best to advance the initiatives that were good for Hongkongers and would keep the city prosperous over the long term. Hailing the Hong Kong community as open, inclusive and vibrant, Li said there was room for deeper bilateral co-operation. Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said it was evident that some of the Cepa and preferential measures in place were not being fully utilised. Li's remarks did not rule out the possibility of more preferential socio-economic initiatives being rolled out when necessary, he said. Xi's speech, meanwhile, was to remind Hongkongers to uphold the nation's interests, Lau said. ^ top ^



Int'l environmental forum kicks off in Macao (Xinhua)
The 2013 Macao International Environmental Cooperation Forum & Exhibition kicked off Thursday, with a series of green activities to showcase the latest products, technologies and related services in the environmental industry. The activities include forums and seminars, exhibition, business matching, Green Public Day and technical visits, said organizers of the three-day event held with the theme of " Sustainable Cities The Way Towards a Green Future". The annual event this year has attracted more than 400 exhibitors from 20 countries and regions, occupying an area of 16, 000 square meters. Hosted by the government of Macao Special Administrative Region and coordinated by Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute and Environmental Protection Bureau, the forum is aimed to serve as a platform for environmental protection industries between the Pan-Pearl River Delta Region and the international market. ^ top ^



Mainland's new Taiwan affairs chief welcome to visit (Xinhua)
A senior Taiwanese official on mainland affairs said Wednesday that Zhang Zhijun, the Chinese mainland's newly appointed Taiwan affairs chief, is welcome to visit the island at a proper time. The continuous development of cross-Strait relations and enhanced exchanges between the mainland and Taiwan will promote mutual prosperity, Wang Yu-chi, mainland affairs chief for the Taiwan authorities, said at a press conference. Zhang, born in 1953, previously served as the mainland's vice foreign minister. He replaced Wang Yi as director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office. ^ top ^



Chinese state-owned railway giant goes into business (Xinhua)
The China Railway Corporation, which will take over the commercial functions of the former Ministry of Railways (MOR), went into business on Sunday. The company announced its arrival via Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, two days after receiving approval from the State Council, China's cabinet. The company will conduct business operations that were previously conducted by the now-defunct MOR, while the newly formed State Railways Administration will handle the MOR's administrative responsibilities. With registered capital of 1.04 trillion yuan (165.73 billion U.S. dollars), the China Railway Corporation will take over all of the MOR's related assets, liabilities and personnel, as well as shoulder the responsibility of running trains for public welfare, according to a statement posted on the government website. The wholly state-owned enterprise is administered by the central government and supervised by the Ministry of Transport, the statement said. The move was made as part of the government's efforts to restructure its cabinet, as well as eliminate a previous situation in which the MOR played roles as both market participant and regulator in the railway sector. The company is expected to address the MOR's high remaining debt and improve the country's massive railway network. ^ top ^

Increased salary expectations (China Daily)
Salary levels in China are likely to increase in 2013 as the nation expects stable growth in gross domestic product, recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Plc said. Generally speaking, candidates moving jobs usually will get a 15 to 25 percent pay increase in the nation this year, said a survey released by the London-headquartered company. Those who stay in their jobs are getting approximately 8 percent salary increases, which corresponds with the forecast for GDP. The World Bank estimated in January China's 2013 GDP growth could hit 8.4 percent. With the economic environment challenging, salary increments for professionals who moved jobs were generally lower than previous years, said the survey. Candidates typically received increases of 15 to 20 percent when changing roles in 2012, while the amount was between 15 to 30 percent in 2011. Strong performers could receive as much as a 40 percent increase in some cases, it added. The banking and financial services industry was the most affected by the global economic recession. As these employers were keen to increase profitability and hire sales professionals, they were also required to minimize costs and, in some cases, were subject to headcount freezes, according to the survey. "In the second half of last year, international financial institutions bolstered their control functions in response to several overseas banking scandals. Senior professionals with risk, compliance, credit risk approval and anti-money laundering expertise were highly sought after,” said Robert Walters. A number of overseas financial firms delayed their expansion plans last year because of economic uncertainty. The demand for talent is set to bounce back this year as China's economy stabilizes, said Arthur Wang, managing director of Robert Walters China. Multinational companies will be eager to recruit candidates with better knowledge of the Chinese market as banks start to explore markets beyond major financial centers such as Shanghai and Beijing. "Candidates who could develop strong relationships with local clientele and possessed both overseas and local experience were particularly sought after and generally received average salary increases of 10 to 20 percent when moving jobs,” Wang said. "Meanwhile, as Chinese financial institutions continue to increase their presence within the local market, we expect to see continued demand for local candidates with Mandarin skills.” Speaking fluent Chinese will also help the candidates to seek jobs in other industries such as information technology. The survey found that candidates were not only required to master IT systems made by industry giants such as SAP or Oracle: Bilingual proficiency in English and Mandarin will also be expected. ^ top ^

Surveys show improving economic confidence, rising inflation concerns (Xinhua)
Amid growing public concern about inflation, Chinese entrepreneurs and bankers are more confident in the country's economic outlook, the latest reports from the central bank revealed Tuesday. The entrepreneurs confidence index rose 7.6 percentage points to 68 percent in the first quarter this year from the fourth quarter in 2012, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said in a report, citing results from a survey of over 5,700 Chinese entrepreneurs. In a separate report based on a survey of 3,100 bankers, the PBOC said their Q1 confidence index was up 17.2 percentage points to 72.2 percent from the previous quarter. The data marked the second quarter of recovery since confidence dipped to a low in the third quarter, when China's economic growth slowed to 7.4 percent, the lowest pace in more than three years, on the back of worsening external demand and domestic property cooling policies. Growth quickened to 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter on the government's pro-growth measures, and many analysts have forecast that the economy will expand by around 8 percent in the first quarter. Though the country's economy is improving, the PBOC surveys found that more people are concerned about price rises. Of the 20,000 savers the bank surveyed, around 62.1 percent considered prices "high and hard to accept" in the first quarter, up 3.6 percentage points from the previous quarter, according to the reports. The latest official data show that China's consumer price index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, rebounded to a 10-month high of 3.2 percent in February. The Chinese government announced earlier this month that its GDP growth target will remain around 7.5 percent this year and it aims to control inflation within 3.5 percent. Tuesday's reports also show that home prices are still a major issue of public concern, with 68 percent of people surveyed describing prices as "high and hard to accept," up 1.3 percentage points from the previous quarter. Over 34.4 percent reported that they expect home prices to rise in the second quarter, the report said. According to statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics, out of a statistical pool of 70 major Chinese cities it monitors, 66 saw home prices rise month on month in February, despite the government's control policies in the sector. ^ top ^

China Exclusive: Solar panel giant declares bankruptcy (Xinhua)
Leading solar panel maker Wuxi Suntech, a major subsidiary of the New York-listed Suntech Power based in the east China city of Wuxi, declared bankruptcy on Wednesday. In accordance with China's Bankruptcy Law, the Wuxi City Intermediate People's Court on Wednesday approved Wuxi Suntech's filing for bankruptcy following a joint application issued by the company's nine creditor banks on Monday. The company made no objection to the ruling. Founded in 2001, Wuxi Suntech supplies more than 95 percent of Suntech Power's products. Wuxi Suntech's total production capacity reached 2.4 gigawatts (GW) last year. As of February, Wuxi Suntech's credit balance of local and foreign currencies among its creditor banks totaled 7.1 billion yuan (1.14 billion U.S. dollars), a senior company manager said. The banks said based on market rules and the law, since the outstanding loans have been overdue and the company did not render a feasible repayment plan, declaring bankruptcy will protect their legal interests and maintain social stability. In order to revive the company, the banks also expect it to seek a third party for strategic reorganization, according to the manager. One of China's largest solar module makers, Wuxi Suntech was founded in 2001 by Shi Zhengrong, a prominent solar power scientist. In 2005, Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd., or Suntech Power, was founded and listed in New York. The liabilities of Wuxi Suntech reached 2.3 billion U.S. dollars, and the market value of Suntech Power dropped from 4.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2005 to 150 million U.S. dollars at present. "The key reason lies in global overcapacity," said a member of the bankruptcy liquidation team, adding that the company was defeated in the fierce price war. Qu Xiaohua, chairman of Canadian Solar, one of the world's largest solar companies listed on Nasdaq, said the bankruptcy of Wuxi Suntech was a dangerous signal of operational losses for photovoltaic (PV) companies. "The company was a respected competitor. Their products are among the world's highest in both quality and performance," said Qu, adding that a series of bad decisions led the company to bankruptcy. According to the bankruptcy liquidation team, the company signed long-term contracts with foreign polysilicon suppliers at high prices, leading to high materials costs. The company also invested tens of millions of U.S. dollars into developing thin film cells, which later proved to be another strategic failure contributing to the company's bankruptcy. An official with the National Development and Reform Commission said the government may intervene in the reorganization, as the company currently has nearly 10,000 employees, but such assistance would be limited. "The whole PV industry is downsizing. It is regrettable that the company went bankrupt, but it is a common market phenomenon," said the official. The case has become a landmark for the Chinese PV industry amid the global economic downturn, industrial overcapacity and punitive duties levied by the United States and Europe, said Wang Bohua, secretary-general of the China Photovoltaic Industry Alliance (CPIA). "Downsizing production capacity is painful, but I believe more competitive companies will arise in the coming years, thanks to booming domestic demand," said Wang. To help companies stay afloat, the Chinese government rolled out measures last year to boost the domestic solar power market in order to wean the country's PV industry off its dependence on overseas markets. The newly-installed capacity of energy generated by solar panels in China last year surged to 4.5 GW from 0.45 GW in 2010, and it is expected to exceed 6 GW this year. ^ top ^

Sino-Brazilian trade to see steady growth (China Daily)
Trade between China and Brazil is on the rise, but it will increase at a steady pace in the coming years as it becomes more mature, Roberto Azevedo, Brazil's permanent representative to the World Trade Organization, said on Wednesday. Azevedo - who is also Brazil's candidate for the WTO's director-general job - met Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng during a two-day trip to Beijing. "There are several factors affecting the trade trends between the two countries. One important trend is that bilateral trade is currently commodity-oriented and commodity prices have a big influence on trade volume," said Azevedo. Goods including iron ore, petroleum, steel and soybeans account for nearly 80 percent of Brazil's exports to China. Major Chinese exports to the Latin American country are vehicles, clothing and manufactured components. China is Brazil's biggest trade partner, while Brazil is China's fifth-largest trading partner. In 2012, Sino-Brazilian trade volume rose 1.8 percent year-on-year to $85.72 billion. The growth rate was 33.2 percentage points lower than in 2011, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce. "For a while, commodity prices were growing very fast, but now prices are stable or are decreasing, so the price adjustments have an impact on trade figures," Azevedo said. As the peak oil consumption season is coming to an end, international oil prices have fallen. Meanwhile, global demand for soybeans is estimated to remain at a stable level this year. "In addition, the growth rates of many economies are lower than they were before and trade usually follows that because a big part of trade depends on the input of the production chain, which is slowing down," Azevedo added. A trade growth rate of about 30 percent per year is not sustainable, Azevedo said, adding that bilateral trade is expected to grow at a stable rate. China is the biggest investor in Brazil, with projects in sectors such as commodities, agriculture and automobiles. [...] Regarding the increasing number of global trade disputes, Azevedo noted that both China and Brazil have actively participated in the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism. [...] He said that in recent years, the BRICS countries have been increasing their participation in the decision centers of multilateral systems, not only in trade but also in other international organizations. To extend their presence, they should keep exchanging views and boosting coordination in areas where they have common interests. ^ top ^

Suntech bankruptcy hurts new energy drive (Xinhua)
The bankruptcy of solar panel giant Wuxi Suntech made front page news on Thursday, with many reports looking to the factors that caused the bankruptcy, as well as the bankruptcy's future impact. Suntech's problems are undoubtedly a heavy blow to the industry and the country's drive to promote new energy. Hopes that were pinned on the sector's rise have been dashed. On Wednesday, the Wuxi City Intermediate People's Court approved Wuxi Suntech's bankruptcy following a joint application issued by the company's nine creditor banks on Monday. Suntech is not the first solar energy company to find itself trapped in a debt crisis. Chaori Solar, another leading player in the solar energy industry, ran into debt last December. On Thursday, Chaori reminded its investors that its losses in 2012 may be as huge as 1.3 billion yuan (209 million U.S. dollars). Generally speaking, none of the companies operating in the solar industry have been in a comfortable position in recent years. It's not a problem that is specific to any one company -- the whole industry is in danger. Some have criticized Suntech and some other companies for misjudging the market and expanding without measure. But the real reasons behind the crisis lie in the sector's lack of cost-efficiency. For many years, solar energy companies have had to rely on government subsidies to make profits. However, these subsidies have generally fallen short of the industry's expectations. Externally, the global economic crisis had a fatal impact on the solar energy industry, especially leading companies that sell most of their products in the international market. Since 2008, major solar markets, including Europe and the U.S., have shrunk dramatically, while anti-dumping and anti-subsidy moves targeting solar energy products have made things even worse. As a result, solar energy companies have had to rely on the domestic market. In January, the government said solar facilities capable of generating a combined 10 gigawatts of power would be installed this year. However, analysts believe that if subsidies, grid connection policies and financing channels are not improved, it will be hard to reach the target. China has been making great efforts to encourage renewable energy development to provide power for its fast economic growth while preventing the environment from worsening. For many years, China's economy has been powered mainly by coal, which accounts for over 60 percent of the nation's total energy consumption. In its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), the government paid special attention to new energy industries, including solar energy, wind power, hydropower, nuclear power and biomass energy. The government has shown determination to solve China's pollution problems. But achieving this goal will require the government to adjust its policies in pace with the development of the solar industry. Globally speaking, new energy is closely related to the welfare of mankind. China has already become a leader in new energy development and will contribute even more in the future. To that end, it would be prudent for all the world's countries to refrain from engaging in trade wars and protectionism targeting new energy products. ^ top ^

China to stabilize its overseas market: commerce minister (Xinhua)
Despite mounting challenges, China will work hard to stabilize its overseas markets, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said Thursday. The country will accelerate foreign trade restructuring to improve trade quality and build technology, brands, quality and service as new trade advantages, the new minister said during an interview with Xinhua. He vowed to realize the goal of not allowing the growth rate in foreign trade to fall below that of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the domestic market, the priority is expanding consumption and cutting logistics costs, Gao said. In regards to regional economic integration, Gao said every economy has the right to choose a suitable economic integration path based on its own situation and development level, and China holds an open and tolerant attitude toward this. The international trade rule system represented by the World Trade Organization is the foundation for global free trade, and its role can not be replaced by any regional pacts, Gao said. "Under the current situation, we should first safeguard existing multilateral trade rules and fight trade protectionism," Gao said. China eyes an 8-percent increase in foreign trade in 2013. Its foreign trade climbed 6.2 percent year on year to 3.87 trillion U.S. dollars in 2012, considerably lower than the 10-percent growth previously targeted by the government. Meanwhile, China has targeted 7.5-percent economic growth and 3.5-percent inflation this year. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

North Korea threatens action over B-52 bomber flights (SCMP)
North Korea on Wednesday condemned training flights by nuclear-capable US B-52 bombers over the Korean peninsula as an “unpardonable provocation” and threatened military action if they continue. The Pentagon says at least one B-52 has flown over South Korea in recent weeks as part of joint South Korea-US military exercises that Pyongyang has denounced as rehearsals for invasion. “It is an unpardonable provocation,” a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). “The US is introducing a strategic nuclear strike means to the Korean peninsula at a time when its situation is inching close to the brink of war,” the spokesman said. Military tensions on the Korean peninsula are at their highest level for years, with North Korea – angered by UN sanctions imposed after its nuclear test last month – threatening a second Korean War backed by nuclear weapons. The foreign ministry said Pyongyang was closely watching the ongoing exercises and vowed a “strong military counteraction, should the strategic bomber make such a sortie to the peninsula again”. Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Monday that a B-52 from Andersen Air Force base in Guam flew over South Korea on March 8. South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that another B-52 sortie was carried out on Tuesday. B-52s have taken part in annual exercises on the peninsula before, but Little said the Pentagon wanted to underline their use this time given the heightened tensions. The flights should be seen as underscoring US commitment and capacity to defend Seoul against an attack from the North, Little said. That message was echoed in Seoul on Monday by visiting Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who promised to provide South Korea with every available military resource “offered by the US nuclear umbrella”. ^ top ^

North Korea threatens US bases Okinawa, Guam as 'within target' (SCMP)
North Korea's supreme military command said on Thursday its “precision attack” weapons have US navy bases in Okinawa and Guam in their sights and will attack them if it is provoked. “The United States is advised not to forget that our precision target tools have within their range the Anderson Air Force base on Guam where the B-52 takes off, as well as the Japanese mainland where nuclear powered submarines are deployed and the navy bases on Okinawa,” the North Korean command spokesman was quoted by KCNA news agency. North Korea earlier made a threat to stage a nuclear attack on the United States, something that is well outside of its current military capacity, although the US Pacific bases are in range of its medium range missiles. The North has responded angrily to reports that the United States has flown B-52 bomber sorties over the Korean peninsula as part of the annual military drills with South Korean forces.. ^ top ^

South Korea cyber attack is linked to Chinese IP, pointing to Pyongyang (SCMP)
A hacking attack on the servers of South Korean broadcasters and banks originated from an IP address based in China, officials in Seoul said on Thursday, raising suspicions the intrusion came from North Korea. An unnamed official from South Korea's presidential office was quoted by the Yonhap news agency as saying the discovery of the IP address indicated Pyongyang was responsible for the attack on Wednesday. A previous attack on a South Korean newspaper that the government in Seoul traced back to North Korea also used a Chinese IP address. “We've identified that a Chinese IP is connected to the organisations affected,” a spokesman for South Korea's Communications Commission told a press conference. The attack brought down the network servers of television broadcasters YTN, MBC and KBS as well as two major commercial banks, Shinhan Bank and NongHyup Bank. South Korea raised its alert levels in response. Investigations of past hacking incidents on South Korean organisations have been traced to Pyongyang's large army of computer engineers trained to infiltrate the South's computer networks. “There can be many inferences based on the fact that the IP address is based in China,” the communications commission's head of network policy, Park Jae-moon said. “We've left open all possibilities and are trying to identify the hackers.” It took the banks hours to restore operations. Damage to the servers of the TV networks was believed to be more severe, although broadcasts were not affected. About 32,000 computers at the six organisations were affected, according to the South's state-run Korea Internet Security Agency, adding it would take up to five days to fully restore their functions. North Korea has in the past targeted South Korea's conservative newspapers, banks and government institutions. […]. ^ top ^

UN sets up commission of inquiry into rights abuses by North Korea (SCMP)
The UN yesterday set up a commission of inquiry into human-rights violations in North Korea, saying some "may amount to crimes against humanity". The 47-member Geneva forum unanimously adopted a resolution brought by the European Union and Japan, and backed by the United States, condemning alleged torture, food deprivation and labour camps for political prisoners. It launched a three-member investigation for a year and called on Pyongyang to co-operate with the team, which will include Marzuki Darusman, its special rapporteur on North Korea who last month reported rapes, torture and executions in the country. […] At the debate, North Korean Ambassador So Se-pyong rejected the resolution as "an instrument that serves the political purposes of the hostile forces in their attempt to discredit the image of [North Korea]". "As we stated time and again, those human-rights abuses mentioned in the resolution do not exist in our country," So said, warning that the sponsors should be held accountable "for all serious consequences". The UN body's move comes amid heightened tension in the region after North Korea threatened retaliation for UN sanctions imposed for its nuclear test and launch of a long-range rocket in December. Pyongyang blames Seoul and Washington for leading the push to punish the North. Earlier yesterday, North Korea threatened strikes on US military bases in Japan and Guam, further escalating tensions. The tone of the threat, attributed to a spokesman of the army's supreme command, blended with the torrent of war-like rhetoric churned out by Pyongyang in recent weeks, but stood out for its precise naming of targets. Military tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their highest level for years, with Pyongyang irate at the use of nuclear-capable US B-52 bombers and nuclear submarines in ongoing joint military drills with South Korea. "The US should not forget that the Andersen base on Guam, where B-52s take off, and naval bases on the Japan mainland and Okinawa, where nuclear-powered submarines are launched, are all within the range of our precision target assets," the army spokesman said. North Korea has successfully tested medium-range missiles that can reach Japan, but has no proven long-range missile capability that would allow it to hit targets on Guam, more than 3,200 kilometres away. US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel announced last week that Washington had decided to bolster missile defences along the US west coast to "stay ahead of the threat" from North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had issued a more general threat to destroy US bases "in the operational theatre of the Pacific" on Wednesday, as he directed a drone strike exercise. […]. ^ top ^



The 51% of Russia-Mongolia “Erdenet” Mining Corporation will be wholly owned subsidiary of “Erdenes MGL” LLC (Info Mongolia)
At the Cabinet meeting held on Saturday, March 16, the Government's resolution was issued on accelerating some measures in order to run the strategically important mining deposits into economic circulation. In conjunction, mining special licenses of the following strategically important mining deposits including Russia-Mongolia joint venture “Erdenet” Mining Corporation (Mongolia owns 51%), “Baganuur” JSC and “Shivee Ovoo” JSC were resolved to transfer into “Erdenes MGL” LLC's account, that also to be responsible on implementation of infrastructure development of these mine deposits. Moreover, affiliated ministers were obliged to conduct bilateral talks with special license owners of Tsagaan Suvarga mine (copper, molybdenum), Tumurtei Ovoo (zinc, plumbum), Nariin Sukhait (coal), Boroo (gold), and Burenkhaan mine (phosphorite) in order to determine a state-own share, nevertheless make some estimation on feasibility study, agreement on stability, environmental rehabilitation and on implementation and its completion of regulations regarding nature protection. The “Erdenes MGL” LLC a state-owned limited liability company (LLC) was established for purpose of representing the Government of Mongolia in ownership and development of strategically important mining deposits in Mongolia. As part of directives by the Government of Mongolia and the State Property Committee, “Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi” JSC and “Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi” LLC, wholly owned subsidiary of “Erdenes MGL” LLC, were established to develop and operate the Eastern Block of Tavan Tolgoi massive coal and gold deposits located in Tsogttsetsii and Khanbogd sums of Umnugovi aimag (province), Mongolia, besides “Erdenes MGL” LLC owns a mining special license of Shivee-Ovoo coal deposit that stretched up to 4,293 ha of territory. ^ top ^

2013 World Circus in Mongolia (
The "World Circus in Mongolia" event is coming soon to the ASA Circus. The National Circus of Mongolia in association with the "Development Center of the Mongol Circus" NGO and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is organizing the show in Ulaanbaatar between March 25th and April 7th. Over 60 circus artists from 14 countries have been invited to take part including fabulous troupes from Armenia, Canada, China, Germany, Hungary, Spain, the United States, and Mongolia. This is a largest scale event ever organized in 30 years, since the International Circus performance was organized as a part of the “Friendship of Brotherhood Socialist Countries” in Ulaanbaatar in 1983. ^ top ^

OT: Our shareholders' meeting will not run (Montsame)
The shareholders' meeting of the Oyu tolgoi project, scheduled on March 20 will not take place, the OT LLC officially reports. "We deny the news spread by some media about running this meeting, it is not clear when exactly it will take place, for the time being the sides are having a talk about the issues," the OT LLC spokesman Ch.Burenbayar said Wednesday. As we informed before, there were two meetings of the OT shareholders in Ulaanbaatar by initiative of the Mongolian side. The Government of Mongolia has demanded a solution of six problems: Dramatically increased initial investments; Implementation of the feasibility study; The investment agreement's clauses that violate laws; The management service payment; A special license owned by the Entree Gold Inc which covers 30 percent of the deposit minerals; A conflict of interests related to a company that rendered advisory services to the Mongolian side. In addition, the Government has decided to give a term obligation to the Representative leading council in 13 directions. In other words, the Government demands that the Rio Tinto must adhere to the investment agreement. Fir the time beng, the Rio Tinto has accepted the demands. ^ top ^

Mongolia Investment Summit draws near (
The Mongolia Investment Summit will be held in London this April. Major investors, government officials and mining companies will be in attendance to provide insights and fuel discussions on current hot topics. The summit will be held between the 16th and 18th April in London, one of the world"s leading financial centres. There will be an extensive exhibition of mining and infrastructure companies, real estate, financial services and other professional services. But the main event will be presentations by guest speakers including Bayarsaikhan Tsevelmaa, the Minister of Construction and Urban Development, Byanjargal Byambasaikhan, CEO of the Business Council of Mongolia and Ya. Batsuuri, CEO of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi. Other interesting speeches will be given by Johan Kahm, Founder and Principal of FMG Fund based in Malta and John Man, author of Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan. Pre-conference workshops will include sessions on “Raising capital: Learning ways to raise money in the European market” and “Navigating the foreign investment law and analyzing the potential impact of the new securities white paper”. ^ top ^


Andrin Eichin
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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