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
  15-21.3.2014, No. 516  
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Table of contents


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Foreign Policy

China urges against confrontation on Ukraine crisis (Xinhua)
China on Sunday called for a political solution instead of confrontation after the United Nations Security Council failed to adopt a draft resolution on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. "China does not agree to a move of confrontation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in response to a question after the vote on Saturday. Russia vetoed the draft resolution, drawn up by the United States and backed by Western countries, that declared that a planned referendum slated for Sunday on the status of Ukraine's Crimea region "can have no validity" and urged nations and international organizations not to recognize it. "The vote on the draft resolution by the Security Council at this juncture will only result in confrontation and further complicate the situation, which is not in conformity with the common interests of both the people of Ukraine and those of the international community," Qin said, explaining why China, a permanent Security Council member, abstained from the vote. China always respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, which is the long-standing fundamental foreign policy of China, said the spokesman. Qin said the Chinese side had taken into consideration the complex historical and realistic causes for the Ukraine situation in an inclusive and balanced way when making its decision. "In the current situation, we call on all sides to remain calm and exercise restraint to avoid further escalation of the tensions," Qin said, adding that what is most pressing now is finding a political solution. "China holds an objective and fair position on the Ukraine issue," said the spokesman. He said China will continue to mediate and promote dialogue to play a constructive role in bringing about a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine. Quoting China's permanent representative to the United Nations Liu Jieyi, Qin urged all sides to establish as soon as possible an international coordinating mechanism of all concerned parties to explore means to a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. "All parties in the meantime should refrain from taking any action that may further escalate the situation," he stressed. ^ top ^

China, Saudi Arabia reaffirm commitment to energy cooperation (Global Times)
China and Saudi Arabia reaffirmed their commitment to intensify energy cooperation as Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud concluded his four-day official visit on Sunday. In a joint communique issued by both countries, the two sides pledged to strengthen cooperation in areas such as energy, trade, mineral resources, investment and infrastructure building, as well as in high-tech fields including aerospace and the peaceful use of nuclear power. China appreciates Saudi Arabia's contribution to accelerating free trade agreement talks between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council, according to the communique, adding they will work together for an early agreement on the talks. On the Syria crisis, the two countries reiterated solving the issue through peaceful means, urging full implementation of the Geneva Communique released on June 30, 2012, which requires the establishment of a transitional governing body. They called on the international community to offer more aid for Syrian people in the country and abroad. The two countries also vowed to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in any form and to make the Middle East a nuclear-free region, according to the communique. Both sides are opposed to terrorism in any form, and are also opposed to linking terrorism to any religion or any religious sect, said the communique. Saudi Arabia condemned a terrorist attack in southwest Chinese city of Kunming on March 1 and expressed sympathy with the Chinese people and families of victims, said the communique. Salman, also deputy prime minister and defense minister of Saudi Arabia, visited Beijing from March 13-16. During his stay he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. Vice President Li Yuanchao held talks with him. The two countries signed several cooperation documents on quality inspection, investment and space technology during Salman's visit.” ^ top ^

China cannot tolerate Philippines' occupation of reef (China Daily)
China will not tolerate the Philippines' occupation of the Ren'ai Reef in the South China Sea and will closely watch the next move in the area, a spokesman said on Monday. "The Chinese government is as resolved to safeguard our sovereignty as ever," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing. "We will never tolerate the Philippines' occupation of the Ren'ai Reef which violates the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC)," Hong said in response to a question after the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on the reef. In the statement on Friday, the Philippine side claimed that a Philippine warship stranded near the reef has served as a permanent installation since 1999 in response to China's "occupation" of Meiji Reef in 1995. "In 1999, the Philippines clearly promised China many times that it would tow the stranded ship away but has failed to do so," said the Chinese spokesman. Hong said the Philippine side had promised in 2003 that it would not be the first country to violate the DOC regarding the Ren'ai Reef. "Now, the Philippines not only refused to remove this ship, but attempted to deliver construction materials, including steel and cement, to build on the reef, against its own promise as well as the DOC," said the spokesman. "What is even more astonishing is that the Philippines has recently admitted intentionally occupying the reef by grounding the warship 15 years ago," He said. Hong said the Philippines, as a country, should be accountable for its actions and promises despite changes of administration. "By blatantly denying the commitment, the Philippines will lose credibility with the international community," he said. "China will watch closely and keep high alert on other provocation in the South China Sea," Hong said, warning that the Philippines must bear all "ensuing consequences" caused by the provocation. ^ top ^

Opportunity to enhance China-EU ties 'never greater': Chinese ambassador (Global Times)
China and the European Union (EU) should take President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit as a "never greater" opportunity to lift their relations to a new height, the head of the Chinese mission to the EU said in an article published Tuesday. Although China and the EU are already enjoying one of the world's most "dynamic trading relationships," the two sides still have much to offer to each other and the world, Yang Yanyi said in the article carried by the Brussels-based Parliament Magazine. "I was very impressed with the achievement made over the past decade in China-EU relations," Yang said. "We have set in place three pillars underpinning the summit, the annual high-level strategic dialogue, the annual high-level economic and trade dialogue and the bi-annual high-level people-to-people dialogue, which have proven instrumental in promoting mutual understanding and trust," she said. Yang said China had become the EU's second largest trade partner after the United States and the EU was China's second largest export market. "I was even more impressed with the importance attached to China-EU relations by both sides," Yang said. "As pointed out by President Xi Jinping, China and the EU are 'two major forces for safeguarding global peace', 'two major markets for promoting common development' and 'two major civilizations for pushing for progress of mankind'." The Chinese diplomat said both China and the EU, sharing a dream of realizing global peace and prosperity, were committed to their shared responsibility to promote peace, prosperity and sustainable development for the benefit of all. The two sides were also committed to consolidating and developing mutually beneficial cooperation, she said. Yang said both China and the EU were committed to working together toward the implementation of the China-EU 2020 strategic agenda for cooperation, adopted at their last summit, while China was fully deepening reform and moving toward the goal of becoming a moderately prosperous society and the EU was striving for reform and advancing the integration process. "Our embarkation on the road of the second decade of strategic partnership will be jump-started by the first ever visit to the EU by Chinese President Xi Jinping later this month," she said. "There is no doubt this landmark event will give a stronger boost to China-EU ties and elevate our mutually beneficial cooperation to a new height." She called on the two sides to deepen mutual trust to push forward their partnership and meet regional and global challenges together. "China stands ready to consult fully and effectively with the EU on major bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern to build common ground, strengthen coordination and cooperation, and provide strategic support for promoting bilateral relations while safeguarding international peace and development," Yang said. The ambassador said China and the EU, by firmly anchoring their partnership on mutual trust, aligned interests and common prosperity, had so much to offer each other and the world as a whole. "With the commitment of our leaders and our peoples, I am fully confident that our relations will sprint forward in 2014, the Chinese Year of the Horse," she said. ^ top ^

Xi to meet 5 countries' leaders in Netherlands (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping will have meetings with leaders from five countries later this month on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in the Netherlands, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Thursday. The global summit, the third of its kind since 2010, will be held in the Hague from March 24 to 25. Besides U.S. President Barack Obama, Xi will also meet with President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and British Prime Minister David Cameron, Hong told a regular press conference. China is still coordinating with the countries involved on arrangements for these meetings, he added. In addition to attending the NSS, Xi will pay state visits to the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium, and will visit the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the headquarters of the European Union during the trip. ^ top ^

Michelle Obama and her daughters arrive in Beijing for week-long visit (SCMP)
US first lady Michelle Obama arrived in Beijing yesterday to buzz from Chinese internet users on anything from her choice of outfit to details of her itinerary, despite the White House insisting that her tour is more cultural than political. Visiting on the invitation of Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan, Obama's trip will focus on building cultural ties between the two nations and will avoid political topics. Obama waved as she stepped out of the airplane with her mother, Marian Robinson, and daughters, Sasha and Malia, at Beijing's Capital International Airport, where they were welcomed by Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng. Mainland internet users were quick to point out that Obama's dress was designed by American Derek Lam, who has Chinese lineage. The White House promised social media updates about her trip, but Obama had no plans to give media interviews. Today, the US first lady and Peng will visit the Beijing Normal School, which helps students prepare for study abroad. Peng will also take Obama to the Forbidden City and host a dinner in Obama's honour. The visit "is an important opportunity not just to share China's rich history and culture with young people like you, but to connect you with the stories of young people in China", Obama said in a video ahead of the trip. Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Obama's visit could promote Sino-US friendship. Tomorrow, Obama will deliver a speech at the Stanford Centre at Peking University, visit the Summer Palace, and meet with US embassy staff. On Sunday, she will host a round-table discussion on education and visit the Great Wall, before heading west to Xian on Monday and Chengdu on Tuesday. Mainland internet users were particularly interested in Obama's plan to eat Tibetan food in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on the last day of her trip on Wednesday. Some saw the stop as indicating Washington's tacit support for Tibet's exiled leader, the Dalai Lama. "Eating and drinking are also political," wrote one blogger. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Australia locates possible debris of missing Malaysian flight (Xinhua)
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament that new satellite images showed two possible objects in the ocean, and new and credible information had come to light in relation to the search. "Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified," Abbott said. But the prime minister also cautioned "We must keep in mind the task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult and it may turn out that they are not related to the search for flight MH370." The Australian prime minister said he had informed his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak about the latest developments. Shortly after the announcement, Australia held a press briefing on the latest development on the search for the lost Malaysian plane in Canberra. John Young, an official from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said at the briefing that the biggest object found possibly related to missing Malaysian flight MH370 is 24 meters in size and the another one is smaller. John Young said that the objects are in the vicinity of the search area defined and searched in the past two days and the assessment of these images was provided by the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organization. He said it was the best lead they had right now. "The objects are relatively indistinct. The indication to me is of objects that are of a reasonable size and probably awash with water and bobbing up and down over the surface." "This is a lead. It is probably the best lead we have right now, " he said. He also said that they would be difficult to find. "We need to get there, find them, see them, assess them..." Xinhua has been told by an AMSA spokesman of the areas extreme remoteness. "It is a challenging search operation and AMSA continues to hold grave fears for the passengers and crew on board the missing flight," the spokesman said. So far four aircraft have been deployed to locate the floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean, approximately 2,500 km southwest of Perth, in possible connection with a missing Malaysian jetliner, with one having already arrived there, AMSA said on Thursday. AMSA said it is coordinating the search for the missing aircraft, with assistance from the Australian Defense Force, the New Zealand Air Force and the U.S. Navy. AMSA's Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) Australia earlier received satellite imagery of two objects possibly related to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The assessment of these images was provided by the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organization as a possible indication of debris south of the search area that has been the focus of the search operation. After the Australian prime minister informed his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak on the development earlier in the day, a Malaysian official said in a statement "The Australian High Commissioner has also briefed me on the situation." Hishammuddin Hussein, minister of defense and acting minister of transport of Malaysia, said at this stage, the Australian officials had yet to establish whether these objects were indeed related to the search for MH370. ^ top ^

Chinese president receives credentials of 14 new ambassadors (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday received credentials of 14 new ambassadors to China. The ambassadors are Abdulrahaman A. Shimbo from Tanzania, Nebojsa Koharovic from Croatia, Getrude Kasuba Mwape from Zambia, Ali Murat Ersoy from Turkey, Sultan S. Almansouri from Qatar, Ashok Kumar Kantha from India, David Aptsiauri from Georgia, Lansina Boua Kone from Mali, Chandradath Singh from Trinidad and Tobago, Chelston Brathwaite from Barbados, Jean-Jacques de Dardel from Switzerland, Soegeng Rahardjo from Indonesia, Sela Molisa from Vanuatu, and Max Baucus from the United States. Xi welcomed the new ambassadors to their posts and asked them to convey his sincere greetings and best wishes for the leaders and peoples of their countries. The president spoke highly of China's bilateral relationship with them. He wished the new ambassadors well in China and called on them to contribute to China's mutual understanding and friendly cooperation with their countries. The ambassadors conveyed greetings from their state leaders to Xi and vowed to make efforts to promote friendship and cooperation with China during their tenure. ^ top ^

Chinese army to raise military training standards (China Daily)
The level of Chinese military training will be raised to actual combat standard to improve the army's capabilities, according to a guidance issued by the country's military leadership. The Central Military Commission (CMC) issued the guidance after approval by Xi Jinping, Chinese president and chairman of the commission. The guidance outlined concepts, principles, major tasks and measures to raise the military training level. The guidance said strengthening combat readiness should be viewed as a top priority. It also called for improved mechanisms for training. The guidance clarified tasks that need to be carried out for improving standards, and stressed that problems in military training should be addressed through mechanisms and systems with innovative ideas and measures. The guidance came after news that President Xi is heading a leading group for deepening reform on national defense and the military. During the first plenary meeting of the group under the CMC on Saturday, Xi stressed the country's military reform should be guided by the objective of building a strong army. ^ top ^

Foreign ministry denounces ETIM support for Kunming terror attack (Global Times)
China on Wednesday reiterated its stance on fighting against the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a terrorist group that voiced support on Tuesday for the March 1 terrorist attack in Kunming. ETIM released a video online and expressed support for the attack in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province in southwest China, which killed 29 and injured another 143. "It has fully exposed the terrorist nature of ETIM," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing. Terrorism is a common enemy of mankind. Fighting ETIM is a key component of the international anti-terrorism war, Hong said. He called on the international community to fully recognize the terrorist nature and severe damage of the "East Turkistan" forces, as represented by ETIM, and to support China's anti-terrorism stance. The ministry earlier revealed that flags related to the ETIM were found at the scene. ETIM, listed by the United Nations Security Council as a terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the Tiananmen attack in October in which five people were killed and 40 injured. ^ top ^

Inquiry into activist Cao Shunli's death sought (SCMP)
Two mainland rights lawyers yesterday urged the government to allow an independent investigation into the death of detained activist Cao Shunli, who died in a Beijing hospital last week after being repeatedly denied medical treatment. Cao's lawyer, Wang Yu, said in an interview that the authorities must explain the circumstances which led up to her death after six months in detention. Cao was stopped by police in September while attempting to fly to Geneva to attend the UN's Universal Periodic Review on China. She was brought to a capital detention centre and formally arrested on October 21 on a charge of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles". Throughout her detention, Cao repeatedly complained to Wang that she had been denied treatment for her various ailments, which included tuberculosis and liver disease, and was even barred from taking the medication she had with her. Still, Wang was surprised by Cao's rapid decline in health since she last saw her client alive on January 28. Cao looked thin and fatigued, but did not appear in grave danger, Wang said. By the time authorities sent Cao to a military hospital on February 20, she was already in a coma and in need of intensive care. She died last Friday. "In just around 20 days, her condition deteriorated so rapidly and badly - why?" Wang said. "We suspect that something has happened to her and we need a reasonable explanation." Cao's brother said his sister's body appeared bruised and swollen when he visited the hospital after her death, according to Wang. The skin on Cao's shoulders looked dark and scaly. Her brother could not be reached for comment yesterday. Teng Biao, a lawyer who represented Cao when she was sent to re-education through labour in 2010, said the denial of medical care amounted to inhumane treatment that breached the UN Convention Against Torture, which China has signed and ratified. In June, Cao and other activists launched a two-month sit-in outside the foreign ministry to press the government to allow activists to contribute to its human rights report to the UN. Wang said Cao later submitted her own report to the UN - an act that likely angered authorities. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon this week joined the US and Europe in expressing concern over Cao's death. The Chinese foreign ministry on Monday denied that she died due to the lack of medical care. ^ top ^



Scientists cast doubt over Beijing smog-busting technology projects (SCMP)
Scientists have questioned whether specialised anti-smog technology, including the use of drones to disperse air pollution with chemicals, will have any significant impact on the problem. Their concerns come after the Beijing municipal government announced it had set aside a small budget to test equipment designed to tackle smog. The capital's meteorological bureau would spend 20 million yuan (HK$25 million) this year carrying out experiments aimed at reducing air pollution, the city government said. No details were given of the equipment to be tested, but the cash will come on top of routine spending on weather-modification technology, such as cloud seeding used to produce rain. The authorities in Beijing have come under intense criticism from the public in recent weeks and accused of failing to take decisive action to tackle smog. Concentration of PM2.5 levels in the capital exceeded 500 last month, according to US embassy data. The World Health Organisation recommends day-long exposure levels of 25. One of the technologies scientists in the city have previously said they were investigating was spraying super-cold gas produced from liquid nitrogen into the air. It is hoped that a belt of cooler air, less than 20 metres thick, could stop polluted air from reaching street level. Wang Gengchen, a researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that proposed measures, including using drones to wash away pollutants by spraying chemicals, were ineffective and unrealistic. "When smog occurs, it usually covers a large area. How is it possible to deal with smog on such a large scale?" Wang told the Beijing Youth Daily. Clearing a small patch of sky would be pointless as the pollutants would soon spread to other areas. The nation has tested technologies to disperse natural fog, rather than man-made smog, Wang said, but the systems were rarely used because of the high cost, limited effect and ecological impact of using chemicals. Wang Zhihua, a senior official at the China Meteorological Administration, said artificial intervention to reduce smog would have a very limited effect, the Beijing Daily reported. Reducing pollution emissions was the only meaningful solution to tackle the problem, Wang said. The Beijing meteorological bureau declined to comment, saying it would not discuss budget details with the media. Some internet users have questioned whether the technology research was the best way to tackle air pollution. "Is it a waste of money? You won't be able to get rid of the smog if you don't reduce emissions, isn't that clear?" one Sina Weibo user wrote. Premier Li Keqiang told the National People's Congress in Beijing earlier this month the government had declared war on pollution. ^ top ^



Uygur kills police officer in Urumqi, state media say (SCMP)
A police officer has been killed and his attacker shot dead in Urumqi in Xinjiang, the city government reported. The assailant, a Uygur, attacked the officer - also a Uygur - at the entrance to a government building, according to an article posted on a news website run by Urumqi authorities. The officer later died from his wounds. The attacker used a knife and an axe, said another police officer on his Sina Weibo account. He then went to a police station where he was surrounded and shot dead by paramilitary officers, the weibo posting said. The public security ministry identified the victim as Wusi Manjiang, 29, father of a one-month-old boy. No motive for the attack was offered. Police are continuing their investigation. Tensions in the city were already high following violence earlier this month in Kunming in Yunnan province, where a group of assailants went on a rampage and killed 29 people and injured 143 others. Four attackers were killed at the scene, and another was taken into custody. Beijing blamed Xinjiang separatists, whom it accuses of wanting to establish an independent state called East Turkestan. Abdullah Mansour, leader of the rebel Turkestan Islamic Party, called the Kunming attack an "expensive offer" for China to reconsider its "cruel" policies in Xinjiang, the SITE monitoring service said late on Tuesday, citing a video by the group. "Know that blood of those who are killing themselves is not being spilled for nothing, for their blood will bring tens more to carry out jihad." The Turkestan Islamic Party, which China equates with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), keeps a low profile in Pakistan, where it is holed up in a lawless tribal belt. Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Mansour's video "exposes the true nature of their terrorist organisation" with their open support for the Kunming attack. "Terrorism is the public enemy of mankind. Cracking down on the ETIM terrorist group is an important part of the international community's fight against terrorism," Hong said. ^ top ^



Duo behind new newspaper beaten with iron pipes in Tsim Sha Tsui attack (SCMP)
Two key figures behind a new Hong Kong newspaper were attacked by four masked men wielding iron pipes yesterday, the second attack on media executives in a month. Lei Iun-han, 46, director and vice-president of Hong Kong Morning News Media Group, and news controller Lam Kin-ming, 54, were set upon in Tsim Sha Tsui East just after 1pm. Police said the men, wearing caps, surgical masks and gloves attacked the pair as they walked along Science Museum Road before fleeing in a car. Lei's nose and knees were injured, as was Lam's right elbow. They were treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and discharged. The attack - four weeks after former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to was critically injured in a chopping attack in Sai Wan Ho - brought condemnation from Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok. "Hong Kong is a lawful society. We will not tolerate any savage act. We must condemn such violence," he said. Deputy chairman of the Legislative Council security panel James To Kun-sun said there was reason to believe the pair were attacked because of their editorial work - and if so it would be another attack on press freedom. "Does it mean that some people do not want to see the newspaper join the market?" he asked. "It is unlikely [they were assaulted] because of their own personal matters." The attack also prompted condemnation from the Hong Kong Morning News Media Group and Hong Kong Journalists Association. Lei is the sole director of the company, which was formed on November 26, according to the company registry. It is not clear when the paper will be launched or if it will be free. Police appealed for anyone with information to call 9193 3324. ^ top ^



Student protesters in Taiwan threaten to take 'further action' over review (Global Times)
Student protesters occupied the assembly hall of Taiwan's legislative body for a third day on Thursday, threatening to take "further action" if the authorities didn't respond to their demand for a "proper review" of a cross-Straits service trade agreement by Friday. A student from Chengchi University told the Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday that they demanded that the agreement be reviewed clause-by-clause before being sent to the legislative floor and that more information be made public. Hundreds of students stormed through security barriers on Tuesday evening accusing the Kuomintang of cutting short the review of the agreement. They then occupied the assembly hall and physical disputes broke out between police and students. Students have been delivering speeches and shouting slogans since Tuesday. More than 1,000 students and members of the public also rallied outside the compound in a stand-off with police. Other members of the public called for restraint. A middle-aged man urged a group of students outside the building to be rational and not to disrupt legislative proceedings. Wang Jin-pyng, head of the legislative body, called for calm, so the legislative body could resume its work on the agreement. The Kuomintang central committee issued a statement calling for the rational expression of opinions, while accusing the opposition Democratic Progressive Party of inciting the public. Taiwan's industry sectors voiced support for the agreement, which was signed in June 2013 but awaits ratification. ^ top ^



China No.4 in global arms sales (Global Times)
China has become the world's fourth biggest supplier in major weapons over the past five years, notably replacing France, according to a Swedish research institute. Analysts said the new ranking shows China's military industry has gained momentum, but that the main advantage of arms produced by China is the low price rather than core technology. Chinese exports of major weapons increased by 212 percent during 2009-2013, compared with the previous five-year period, and China's share of global arms exports increased from 2 to 6 percent, said a report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday. The three biggest exporters of arms were the US, Russia and Germany. China supplied major weapons to 35 states in the past five years, mainly low and middle-income countries. Almost three-quarters of Chinese exports went to just three clients: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, the report said. China's rapidly developing military technology partly explains its expansion as an arms supplier, in direct competition with Russia, the US and European states, said the report. "The progress in the military industry has been made due to the nation's increase in investments in the field," Shan Xiufa, a research fellow at the Academy of Military Sciences of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), told the Global Times. However, he noted that China mostly exports regular weapons. China's military industry can only be considered at the global second-tier level, distant from the first-tier countries such as the US, due to its lack of weapons with independent intellectual property rights. "Weapons produced by China are price competitive and the country is skillful in combining others' technology," Shan said, noting that it is a reflection of the country's relatively low innovative capability in general industry. The US delivered more weapons than any other supplier in the past five years, to at least 90 recipients. Asia and Oceania were the biggest recipient regions for US weapons, accounting for 47 per cent of US deliveries, said the report. "Chinese, Russian and US arms supplies to South Asia are driven by both economic and political considerations," said Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program, noting that China and the US are using arms deliveries to Asia to strengthen their influence in the region, reported Press Trust of India. However, Liu Weidong, an expert on the US with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that China is not comparable with world powers in increasing political influence through arms sales. "China will consider raising its political influence in the countries that import its arms, for example, it sells weapons to allies such as Pakistan or Myanmar, but the US is more assertive in maintaining its political influence through arms exports," he said. He noted that China holds an inclusive attitude as it is not at the same level with the US on expanding political influence by selling arms due to China's less competitive technology. Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), has come under strong pressure from its NATO allies since it announced in September last year it would purchase China's HQ-9 long range surface-to-air missile system in preference to European, Russian and US alternatives. Ankara may yet rethink the potential $3.44 billion deal with China, Istanbul-based Hurriyet Daily News reported on March 11. The five biggest importers were India, China, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, said the report. Arms imports by states in Asia and Oceania increased by 34 percent between 2004-2008 and 2009-2013. "China's lack of independent research and development in arms demands more imports of weapons, especially those with information-based technology, to realize the modernization of the army," Shan said, noted that it partly accounts for China's increasing defense expenditure. Liu noted that Asian countries are gaining further ground on importing arms, reflecting the current potential for tension in the region. ^ top ^

Direct trading between RMB, NZ dollar begins (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and visiting New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced the beginning of direct trading between the RMB and NZ dollar in Beijing on Tuesday. Li said direct trading would help both countries to reduce costs for currency exchange and facilitate bilateral trade and financial cooperation. In their talks at the Great Hall of the People, Li hoped New Zealand would continue to support Chinese financial institutions to set up branches in the country, and promote the use of RMB for New Zealand enterprises. Key, on his fourth trip to China since taking office in 2008, vowed joint efforts to promote RMB-NZ dollar direct trading. He hoped the opportunity would help further expand bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, finance, education, tourism and other fields. Li told Key China paid close attention to food safety, asking New Zealand to export more high-quality agricultural products to China and maintain strict quality controls. In return, Key said his country fully understood Chinese customers' concerns over food safety, vowing to take stricter measures to ensure the quality of food that is exported to China. As China is to host the 2014 APEC summit in the fall, Li called on enhanced coordination with New Zealand to promote progress of the conference, and boost regional economic integration. The Chinese government encourages competitive and reliable companies to invest in New Zealand, Li said, urging the country to ease restrictions so Chinese technical labors and raw materials can enter. Key is on a three-day working visit to China as Li's guest. ^ top ^

Retail sales lead weakness in business activity, China Beige Book survey finds (SCMP)
Slowing retail sales stand out as the primary drag on mainland economic growth so far this year, while activity in almost every other business sector sagged, the latest quarterly China Beige Book survey found. But signs of stability in the availability of credit and growth in new domestic and export orders for the massive factory sector were indications that a further deterioration in the economy might be averted. “The pace of Chinese economic expansion has plainly slowed,” Leland Miller, president of survey publisher CBB International, said in a statement accompanying the results. “There is certainly gloom, but also perhaps a bit of light.” The fall-off in retail extended far beyond luxury goods, hurt by the government's nationwide corruption crackdown, and only firms in the transportation sector reported better revenues in this year's first quarter than in the fourth quarter of last year. Gains in retail revenues were reported by just 54 per cent of survey respondents, down from 61 per cent in the fourth quarter and 73 per cent a year ago. Retail sales over the Lunar New Year period were the weakest in at least three years. Revenues, sales, profits and wages were all weaker than a year ago for firms surveyed in one of the most comprehensive nationwide polls of business conditions in the world's second-biggest economy. Tightening credit that had been a problem in previous quarters stabilised, but access to finance for firms was only slightly better than the nine-quarter low in the fourth quarter. Loans to new customers edged up, with 17 per cent of bankers surveyed saying more than 30 per cent of loans went to new customers – up three percentage points from the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the spread between interest rates paid on loans made by banks and those made by non-bank lenders pushed out to its widest in a year, indicating that capital is getting more expensive for firms that cannot borrow from mainstream lenders. But a bounce back for the factory sector was flagged by new order data showing solid growth in domestic and foreign order books everywhere except the northeast of the country. Firms in the main manufacturing engine, Guangdong province, reported stronger orders. “The results do not indicate a boom later in 2014, but they do suggest that linear forecasts of continued deterioration may be overly simplistic,” Miller said. A number of major international investment banks have cut their China economic growth forecasts for this year in recent weeks as official data has indicated lingering export weakness, a softening of industrial output and an easing of credit growth. The China Beige Book survey, modelled on the United States Federal Reserve survey of the same name, polled executives from manufacturing, retail, services, transport, property and construction, and farming and mining firms. Respondents run businesses of every size, from micro-level firms with a handful of staff to large companies employing more than 500 workers. The survey also canvassed opinions from bank loan officers and bank branch managers. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

DPRK's missile launch will lead to increased tension in region: UN chief (Global Times)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday voiced his concern that the latest missile launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) "will lead to increased tension in the region." "The secretary-general is concerned that the launch of short-range ballistic missiles by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will lead to increased tension in the region," Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here Monday night. The DPRK fired off a total of 25 more short-range missiles toward eastern waters Sunday evening, local media reported from Seoul, citing the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. The DPRK launched 10 projectiles for 10 minutes from 6:20 p.m. local time, before firing off eight projectiles for five minutes from 8:03 p.m. and seven more projectiles for four minutes from 9: 28 p.m., according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Those projectiles were believed to be short-range missiles, possibly the FROG surface-to-surface missiles, as they have a range of around 70 km, according to South Korean military officials. The DPRK was known to have introduced the FROG missiles from the Soviet Union from the 1960s. Those missiles were fired from Wonsan areas in the DPRK's southeastern coast toward the eastern open waters. The launches came 12 days after Pyongyang fired off seven projectiles, possibly artillery shells from the DPRK's new multiple rocket launcher termed by the South Korean military as KN- 09. "The secretary-general emphasizes the need for the DPRK to refrain from any provocative acts and instead to work with its neighbors to build a political atmosphere conducive for the resumption of dialogue," the UN spokesman said. On Jan. 29, the DPRK's ambassador to China, Chi Jae Ryong, said in Beijng, capital of China, that the DPRK agrees on the resumption of six-party talks, calling on the United States to fulfil its related obligations. On the issue of the stalled six-party talks, involving the DPRK, the Republic of Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, Chi said the DPRK has already "taken a seat on the boat of the talks," urging other concerned parties to come on board. The six-party talks, first held in Beijing in August 2003, repeated a pattern of agreement and its annulment. In 2005, the six parties agreed on a historic Sept. 19 Joint Statement, in which the DPRK pledged to abandon all its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in exchange for energy aid and security guarantees. Chi said the reason why the Sept. 19 Joint Statement was not implemented is that the United States has evaded its promises and obligation. ^ top ^



China, Mongolia vow to cement party-to-party exchanges (Xinhua)
A senior leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Liu Yunshan vowed on Thursday to beef up party-to-party exchanges with Mongolia. Liu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the pledge during his meeting with a Mongolian delegation led by Chairman Miegombyn Enkhbold of the Mongolian People's Party, also vice chairman of the State Great Hural, Mongolia's parliament. Liu said China expected to strengthen political trust with Mongolia, facilitate exchanges between ruling parties, governments and parliaments, and enhance cooperation in such areas as mineral resources and infrastructure building. He said China was committed to deepening reforms, in order to push forward greater development of the country, improve people's livelihood and contribute to world peace and development. Enkhbold said he was happy to be visiting China at a time of the 65th anniversary of Mongolia-China diplomatic ties. He said he had witnessed China's development achievements during his visit, which will also take him to south China's Guangdong Province. He hopes to further boost party-to-party exchanges and pragmatic cooperation between both countries through his visit. Enkhbold is visiting China from March 17-21 at the invitation of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee. ^ top ^

South African "Sasol Mining" expresses its interest to cooperate (Info Mongolia)
On March 19, 2014, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia D.Gankhuyag received South African delegation led by Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Godfrey Oliphant, who is on working visit to Mongolia. Mr. D.Gankhuyag said that South Africa is the main partner of Mongolia in Africa and the bridge linking to other states of the region and welcomed the intensification of bilateral cooperation in the mining industry giving start to the realization of agreements reached during the official visit of Deputy President of South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe to Mongolia in November 2013. Deputy Minister Godfrey Oliphant mentioned that the South African "Sasol Mining" company is interested in cultivating cooperation with the Mongolian side and informed that he plans to meet representatives of corresponding ministries and state-owned companies to discuss cooperation issues, reports the Foreign Ministry of Mongolia. Mongolia and the Republic of South Africa have established the diplomatic relations on May 25, 1994. ^ top ^


Mrs. Lauranne Peman
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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