Connecting with ASEAN
Increased connectivity will fuel a strong China- ASEAN cooperation, said the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the recently concluded foreign ministers’ meeting between China and ASEAN countries in Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan province. He pointed out that a major initiative in achieving a robust link with ASEAN nations was the Master Plan on ASEAN connectivity adopted in 2010. The Kunming meeting was organised to exchange views on the 20th anniversary of the dialogue, the China- ASEAN free trade zone and the cooperation in East Asia. Thanking the Chinese government’s hospitality, the Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said that he was impressed by the quality of the Kunming- Bangkok road. In order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the dialogue, the two sides will hold several activities, he said.
Source: China Daily, January 25, 2011.
Security Talks with Moscow
China and Russia held the fifth round of strategic security talks pledging more joint efforts to strengthen national, regional and international security. During the talks, the two parties exchanged views on major international issues and ways to strengthen the strategic partnership between Russia and China. To further enhance strategic mutual trust and improve the security situation around the global, the two sides agreed to steer the development of Sino- Russian relations for the next ten years from a strategic and comprehensive perspective. The next round of talks is scheduled to be held later this year in China.
Source: China Daily, January 25, 2011.
Korean Military Talks
China welcomed attempts made by North and South Koreas to initiate a dialogue for resolving their mutual differences. The Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China supported the improvement of ties between DPRK and ROK through reconciliation and bilateral cooperation. The official KCNA news agency confirmed last week Pyongyang’s proposal for high level talks between the militaries of the two sides on the Korean Peninsula. If the talks are held, it will mark the first major contact between the two sides for years.
Source: China Daily, January 21, 2011, Xinhua News Agency, January 21, 2011.
Raising minimum wages
The prevailing wages in several of China’s cities are extremely low. Thus, keeping the prevailing situation in mind, many Chinese cities are raising minimum wages for workers. Tianjin for example is preparing to raise the city’s minimum monthly wages to 1070 Yuan from the current level of 920 Yuan. Similarly, Beijing has announced that its minimum wage will rise about 20.8 per cent in 2011. Jiangsu is hiking its minimum monthly pay by 15 per cent and Guangdong by about 10 per cent in March to 1300 Yuan, which will be the highest in the country. Besides this, Shanghai and Chongqing are launching the first ever property tax for second home buyers, as part of a series of government measures to curb soaring prices and real estate speculation. The State Council announced on January 26, 2011 the decision on tightening regulations to cool the housing market. Chongqing’s and Shanghai’s decisions came soon after this. According to Huang Qifan, the mayor of Chongqing, 200 million Yuan is expected to be collected as property tax in 2011. Property tax is aimed at narrowing the wealth gap, and to guide property purchases along with better distribution of housing resources.
Source: China Daily, January 28, 2011, China Daily, January 26, 2011.
Wal-Mart China was blacklisted for deceptive pricing by the National Development and Reform Council on January 26, 2011. The council said some Carrefour and Wal- Mart stores in China were involved in deceptive pricing practices. An investigation into price cheating was launched in Guangzhou and Shanghai. A day later, Wal- Mart apologised to its customers. Wal- Mart (China) Investment Co., Ltd expressed “sincere apology” to affected customers in an interview with the Xinhua News Agency. Wal- Mart said that the company will strengthen its price monitoring as the Spring Festival approaches. Similarly Carrefour offered “sincere apologies” to affected customers and offered to refund customers five times the difference between the price charged, and that on the label.
Source: China Daily, January 28, 2011, People’s Daily, January 28, 2011.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said that Chinese President Hu Jintao’s latest state visit to the U.S. had opened a new chapter of cooperation between the two countries. During the tightly scheduled trip, which saw Hu attend nearly 20 events in Washington and Chicago within 68 hours, the Chinese leader also reached out to the U.S. public, conveying China’s commitment to peaceful development and presenting China’s image of peace, development, opening up and progress.
In a five-point proposal, the Chinese President underscored the need to develop a political relationship that featured equality, mutual trust and the precept of seeking common ground while reserving differences, to deepen their comprehensive, cooperative, mutually beneficial and win-win economic ties, to cooperate in meeting global challenges, to promote friendly exchanges between the two peoples and to establish a pattern of high level contact based on in depth communication and candid dialogue. China said it was ready to work with the U.S. to carry out comprehensive economic cooperation, jointly ease trade imbalances, advocate free trade, oppose protectionism, boost the development of bilateral trade and economic ties, and push the Doha round of global trade talks to achieve substantial results as soon as possible.
Hu urged the U.S. side to relax its restrictions on high tech exports to China, offer an environment of fair competition to Chinese enterprises investing in the U.S., and adopt active measures to recognise China’s full market economy status. The two sides inked more than ten agreements, memoranda of understanding and letters of intent. Companies from the two countries also yielded rich cooperative fruits, which covered trade, investment, technology, people to people and cultural exchanges, energy, environment, high speed rail, and smart grids.
Hu emphasised that the Chinese and U.S. peoples cherished great interests and friendly feelings toward each other, adding boosting people to people exchanges, especially youth to youth exchanges, and how it is of key importance to the development of bilateral ties. The two sides announced the launch of a China-U.S. Governors Forum and decided to further support exchanges and cooperation at local levels in a variety of fields, including support for the expansion of the province and city relationships. During his visit, President Hu exchanged views with the U.S. side on the world economy, the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue, the Sudanese situation, climate change and other major international and regional issues. He said China and the U.S. should strengthen consultation and coordination on major issues concerning peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world, effectively cope with global challenges, and create a better future for the world.
Source: China Daily, January 23, 2011.
Call for Help in the Haitian Presidential Elections
In his address at an opening meeting on Haiti at the UN Security Council, Wang Min, the Chinese Ambassador to the UN, stressed on the need for a free, fair and credible election in Haiti for long term stability, and reconstruction. Wang also called for more support to Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction efforts one year after the earthquake, as well as its pandemic outbreak of cholera. He also urged countries to implement their assistance pledges as soon as possible. He added that under the prevailing conditions, the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti should focus on pushing forward Haiti’s political processes and should support capacity building of the country’s security and law enforcement departments.
Source: China Daily, January 21, 2011.
Soft Power and Public Diplomacy
Public diplomacy is increasingly playing a visible role in China’s efforts to help improve its image and communicate its stand on key issues to the world. Prior to Hu’s U.S. visit, a promotional video on China was displayed in New York’s iconic Times Square. The 60 second video, which features basketball superstar Yao Ming and astronaut Yang Liwei among other celebrities, will stay on the big screen until Feb 14. The display, which included a 30-second commercial to be aired on US television and a 30-minute documentary, is part of a major campaign to promote China’s image in the United States. This is the first time that China has been promoted overseas on such a scale through a commercial channel.
Meanwhile China and Austria officially kicked off celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations with the Chinese New Year concert .It also marked the launch of Austria’s Year of China. To mark the anniversary, an array of rich cultural events will be offered in both China and Austria, including jointly held concerts, exhibitions, lectures and plays.
Elsewhere in France, the first session of Chinese Movie Festival began in Paris. From January 26 to February 8, about 12 selected Chinese films of different styles will also hit screens of Lyon, Toulouse and Versailles, for the first time held in four French cities simultaneously. According to Chinese officials, this festival aims to provide an opportunity for French audience to enjoy ordinary Chinese films and promote Chinese films in France
Source: China Daily, January 26, 2011.