SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

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

Press review, if not selected: all SinOptic
  19-25.7.14, No. 534  
    Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

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Bilateral Issues

China, Switzerland sign currency swap agreement (Xinhua)
2014-07-21
China's central bank announced on Monday that it signed a bilateral currency swap agreement with the Swiss National Bank (SNB) worth 150 billion yuan, or 21 billion Swiss francs (24.4 billion U.S. dollars). The term of the swap agreement will be three years and can be extended if both parties agree, the People's Bank of China (PBoC) said in an online statement. The signing of the currency swap deal can help facilitate trade and investment between China and Switzerland and provide liquidity support for the development of the offshore yuan market in Switzerland, the PBoC said. In a separate statement on Monday, the SNB said it was also granted an investment quota for the Chinese interbank bond market in the amount of 15 billion yuan. Since 2009, China has set up bilateral currency swap lines with more than 20 countries and regions. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China calls for ceasefire to stop civilians' losses in Gaza (Xinhua)
2014-07-20
China's special envoy on Middle East Affairs Wu Sike on Sunday called on Israel to immediately stop the military operations against the Gaza Strip and put an end to the blockage it imposes on the coastal enclave. "We condemn the killing and the targeting of innocent civilians and we urge Israel and all parties involved to immediately cease fire," he told reporters. Wu, who is on a regional tour that includes Palestine, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Qatar, voiced China's support to the Egyptian initiative, which seeks to reach a truce between Israel and Hamas. The solution to the current conditions in Gaza and elsewhere in the region is a political not a military solution, said the Chinese official, stressing China's keenness to continue coordination with Jordan. "China is exerting its utmost efforts at the regional and international levels to reach a ceasefire and stop the suffering of the civilians," he said. The Chinese official also called on the Palestinian Authority to urge Hamas to stop firing rockets to Israel. He said China is coordinating with the Palestinian leadership to send humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to reduce their suffering amidst the Israeli offensive. ^ top ^

Competing interests between BRICS nations could lead to challenges for new bank: analysts (SCMP)
2014-07-21
Last week leaders from five emerging economies celebrated the birth of a new bank on the block. The New Development Bank is intended to rival Western-led financial institutions and become a more sympathetic alternative for developing countries and a platform for China to exert greater global prowess. But it faces an uphill battle, analysts say. Potential competing interests among the five so-called BRICS nations, and the bank's relatively small initial capitalisation, present obstacles, they say. Founded by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the bank will start lending by 2016 with an initial capitalisation of US$50 billion and a US$100 billion emergency reserve fund. Despite disagreement about the location of the bank's headquarters, Shanghai was chosen in the end. The bank's declaration says all member states will play equal roles. India will provide the first president, while the first chairman of the board of governors will be from Russia, and the first chairman of the board of directors chosen by Brazil. According to a People's Bank of China spokesman, all members would have equal share of voting rights in the new bank. But for the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, a US$100 billion pool to help countries facing short-term liquidity pressures, China would have the largest voting right - 39.5 per cent. Any such friction could undermine the lender's growth. Oliver Rui, a professor of finance and accounting at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, said nations seeking to cast a more influential role and leverage could present a hurdle. "It takes a long time and intense negotiation for such issues to be settled," Rui said. "It's not easy at all." But he said such questions would not prevent the bank from providing financing to developing nations. No consensus has emerged on which nations will be the initial recipients of the loans. The founders have said any nation can apply for assistance, but some scholars say the bank is unlikely to lend outside the BRICS grouping, at least initially. In either case, the bank's capitalisation will limit the reach of the institution. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese FM welcomes UN resolution on MH17, urges independent, fair, objective probe (Global Times)
2014-07-22
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday that Beijing welcomes the just passed UN resolution on the recent crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine. Wang, who is accompanying Chinese President Xi Jinping in an ongoing Latin America tour, made the comments shortly after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution demanding safe and unrestricted access of international experts to the crash site. The resolution is in line with China's consistent position that an independent, fair and objective international probe be carried out to find out the truth, said the minister, noting that China played a constructive role in the deliberations and unanimous passage of the resolution. Stressing that the tragedy, which claimed 298 lives, should not be repeated, Wand said the current priority is to implement the resolution, especially to give international investigators full access to the crash site. The International Civil Aviation Organization should be allowed to play a key role in the investigation and its professional expertise be brought into full play, he said. Before the result is produced, he stressed, all parties concerned should refrain from making conjectures and prejudgment and, more importantly, avoid politicizing the issue. The crash further suggests that an early settlement of the Ukraine crisis is the fundamental way to maintain regional peace and stability, Wang said. "We urged all Ukrainian parties concerned to cease fire as soon as possible and conduct dialogue and consultation so as to seek a comprehensive, lasting and balanced political solution," Wang said. ^ top ^

President Xi Jinping meets Fidel Castro as Beijing aims to capitalise on Cuba ties (SCMP)
2014-07-23
President Xi Jinping visited Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in Havana on Tuesday as he aims to expand investment in the fellow communist nation, his last stop on a four-country Latin American charm offensive. “You are the founder of the causes of Cuban revolution and construction and also of the China-Cuba relationship,” Xi told Castro, according to Xinhua. Xi recalled meeting Castro in 2011 and said he was pleased to see the 87-year-old former Cuban leader in good health now. “You are deeply admired by the Cuban people and have also won the respect of the Chinese people. We will never forget the significant contributions you have made to the bilateral relationship,” Xi said. Castro led Cuba for five decades until failing health prompted him to hand power to his brother eight years ago. Cuba, the only one-party communist state in the Americas, began opening up its economy in 2008, but has not grown as much as hoped and could desperately use more Chinese investment. Xi for his part has made a point during his tour of reaching out to countries often shunned by US and European investors, including Venezuela and Argentina as well as Cuba. “This visit will realise the aims of boosting friendship, deepening mutual trust, expanding cooperation and driving development, opening a new phase in the mutually beneficial, friendly cooperation between China and Cuba,” said Xi after touching down on Monday night in Havana. […] ^ top ^

China hit by Western military moves in Africa, says Academy of Social Sciences report (SCMP)
2014-07-23
China's involvement in Africa will face complications despite pouring in billions in investment and aid because Western nations are stepping up their military presence on the continent, a major Chinese think tank says. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences also warned in its annual report on development in Africa that the continent might be used by the United States to expand its containment of China should the Sino-US relationship continue to worsen, but Beijing was not well equipped to handle such a move. It said China had become more proactive in establishing its presence in Africa over the past decade, but would face more resistance from Western nations which had been keeping a "close watch" on China's activities on the continent. "Nations such as the US have been strengthening military ties with Africa in recent years under the pretext of security and anti-terrorism," said one of the report's authors, Zhang Hongming, a senior research fellow at the academy's Institute of West Asian and African Studies. "The military presence of the US can be used to deter China if the two nations mistrust each other and see themselves as strategic rivals." US President Barack Obama will host an African summit in Washington next month. The US also announced the establishment of a drone base in Niger last January, which will provide assistance to French forces in Mali and gather intelligence about terrorist activities in North and West Africa. French President Francois Hollande hosted a security summit with representatives from 53 African states in Paris last December, signalling France's ambitions in the area of African security, the report said. Britain hosted a similar summit last year. The report said such moves had helped tackle local security concerns but also raised questions over whether the stepped-up military roles had a "hidden agenda" of containing China. "Such military moves and security arrangements can be transformed into an effective tool against China in Africa," the report said. "This has already suppressed China's strategic manoeuvrability in Africa to a certain extent." But Zhang said China did not have an effective strategy to handle the challenge because "sending troops there will trigger controversy". China has been boosting its influence in Africa for the past decade. In his trip to Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya in May, Premier Li Keqiang pledged to double bilateral trade to US$400 billion by 2020 and quadruple Chinese direct investment to US$100 billion. But China's increasing involvement in Africa has triggered claims it is acting like a neocolonial power, exploiting the continent for its resources while adding little to local livelihoods. Li admitted there were still "growing pains" in Sino-African ties and that China would focus more on aid projects for Africa. ^ top ^

China to contribute to new global trade system (Global Times)
2014-07-23
China will join in and contribute to the construction of a new global trade system, said Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Tuesday. Li also called on the United States to be more open and to create more favorable conditions for the two countries' deeper cooperation, while meeting a delegation of US business leaders and former senior officials. The delegation, headed by President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Thomas Donohue, included former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, former US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, and a group of senior business executives. Li said a good China-US relationship is conducive to both countries, and will help them to realize more global interests. The two countries should respect each other, strengthen mutual trust, deepen cooperation and control disputes. He called on business circles and think tanks of the two countries to have closer communication to promote a stable and sound development of the China-US cooperation. Donohue and several delegation members said deeper cooperation between the United States and China will benefit the two countries and the global economic growth. The US business circles will continue to promote bilateral trade and investment cooperation and the development of US-China ties. Li also pledged that China will be more open and improve the market environment to give fair competition for companies from both home and abroad. Li also answered questions from US business leaders about China's reform and opening up, and China-US trade and financial cooperation. ^ top ^

BRICS not a firm foundation for a new global economic order (SCMP)
2014-07-23
Rarely has an acronym led such a charmed life as BRICS. Casually invented by former Goldman Sachs Group economist Jim O'Neill to label emerging markets of promise, it actually brought together leaders from the disparate countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Last week in Brazil, they took a decisive step towards building institutions that could plausibly challenge the long geopolitical and economic ascendancy of the West. The New Development Bank, headquartered in Shanghai, would finance infrastructure and development projects. This would be the biggest rival yet to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the economic architecture designed by the US at Bretton Woods in 1944. There are good reasons why China is working hard to establish it. The BRICS countries contain more than 40 per cent of the world's population and account for a quarter of its economy. China itself may shortly bypass the US to become the world's biggest economy, based on domestic purchasing power. Yet leadership of the World Bank and the IMF remains the exclusive preserve of the US and Western Europe. The promised reforms to these institutions have not materialised. China now clearly wants to build its own global system with the help of the BRICS nations. […] ^ top ^

China donates technical, medical equipment to Serbia (Xinhua)
2014-07-24
Chinese and Serbian defense ministries Wednesday signed a protocol by which China agreed to donate technical and medical equipment worth 355,000 euros (about 479,250 U.S. dollars) as a way of assistance after heavy floods hit the country mid-May. The protocol for the donation was signed by the representative of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, Senior Colonel Wang Haibin, and chief of the Serbian Military Medicine Department Brigadier General Zoran Popovic. The signing ceremony was attended by Serbian Defense Minister Bratislav Gasic and new Chinese ambassador to Serbia Li Manchang. After the signing, Li said that the "Chinese people always stood together with the Serbian people." "After the heavy floods that caused great damage to Serbia, the donation of the Chinese people shows friendship and support towards the Serbian people," he added. Gasic said that the donation to the Serbian Armed Forces and the Defense Ministry was significant as the army spent much of its resources trying to provide medical assistance to people across Serbia affected by the floods. "This is yet another in a series of donations coming from China directed to the Serbian Armed Forces. Last year, we received significant assistance in specialized ambulance vehicles worth 2 million U.S. dollars in total," Gasic recalled. According to the Serbian Defense Ministry, China also made three donations in IT equipment worth 1.5 million euros since 2005. (1 euro = 1.35 U.S. dollars) ^ top ^

China welcomes Libya election results (Xinhua)
2014-07-24
China on Thursday welcomed the announcement of the results of Libya's parliamentary election, calling for dialogue to address disputes in the war-afflicted country. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks in response to a question on the situation in Libya. On Monday, Libya's electoral committee announced the results of the June 25 election, but many fear it may only fuel the ongoing clashes between pro-secular militia and armed Islamic groups. The new parliament, the House of Representatives, was elected to replace the previous General National Congress. Commenting on the election results as "important and positive development" in Libya's political transition, Hong said it is regrettable that military conflicts are continuing in some areas in the country and that the situation is still worrisome. He said Libya is a friend of China, which hopes all the sides concerned in Libya will address their disputes through dialogue and consultation, with the fundamental interests of the nation and the people as the main motivating factor. "China stands ready to work with the international community to continue playing an active and constructive role in Libya's process of political transition and economic rebuilding," the spokesman said. ^ top ^

Japan challenges China's sovereignty over islands (China Daily)
2014-07-24
The Japanese Foreign Ministry released declassified diplomatic archives regarding the Diaoyu Islands on Thursday, a move observers say attempts to challenge China's centuries-long sovereignty over the islands. In 1971, the year the archives cover, a backroom deal was signed by the United States and Japan, with China excluded from the talks. The Okinawa Reversion Agreement required the US to return the "administration" of Okinawa to Japan, but the document integrated the Diaoyu Islands — a Chinese territory and geographically part of Taiwan — into Okinawa. The Chinese Government has never recognized the agreement. However, according to Japan's Kyodo news agency, the newly released documents said Chinese Taiwan "started its claim" over the islands in 1971, indicating a denial of China's centuries-long sovereignty over them. The archives said the then-Japanese Foreign Minister Kiichi Aichi demanded that Taiwan tone down the islands issue and avoid stirring up the Japanese public "at the critical period of time" when the Okinawa Reversion Agreement was being considered. In return, Japan would support Taiwan's efforts to keep its seat at the United Nations. Japan has a record in recent years of denying its political consensus with China on putting aside the islands dispute, which was reached when the two countries normalized diplomatic relations in 1972. ^ top ^

Japanese war criminal germ research confession published (Xinhua)
2014-07-24
The confession of Okabe Miyake, a Japanese war criminal, detailing his involvement in plague germ experiments and murder of Chinese people during Japan's war of aggression against China was published on Thursday. The confession is the latest in a series published on the website of China's State Archives Administration (SAA). According to his written confession, Okabe Miyake, born in 1902, was appointed section chief of the police department in Rehe Province in "Manchukuo" and director of the puppet Mukden Police Department. In November 1938, an epidemic prevention headquarters meeting was held, at which it was decided the puppet police force should surround a plague outbreak area and cut the seat of Nongan County off from the outside world, he said in the confession. The purpose of the order was to take advantage of the plague situation in Xinjing in order to conduct research and experiments to prepare for germ warfare, it said. Okabe Miyake also confessed that he ordered puppet police forces to assist in "wiping out" the 1st Route Army of the Anti-Japanese United Army, shooting dead about 20 soldiers and detaining about 1,500. According to the confession, he ordered to arrest 13,180 Chinese people and transfer 4,565 of them to the puppet procuratorate, with 14 sentenced to death and later slaughtered in prison. This is the 23rd confession of a total of 45 Japanese war criminal confessions the SAA plans to publish. The SAA has been issuing one a day since July 3. The move follows denials of war crimes by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Japanese right-wing politicians. ^ top ^

China stands ready to deepen cooperation with Portugal: Xi (Xinhua)
2014-07-25
Chinese President Xi Jinping said here Thursday that his country stands ready to deepen pragmatic cooperation with Portugal, hailing it as China's good friend and partner in the European Union (EU). Xi made the remarks when he met with Portuguese Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas, during a stopover on the western Portuguese island of Terceira on his way back to Beijing from Latin America tour. China has consistently attached great importance to its relationship with Portugal, said Xi, calling on the two sides to take the 10th anniversary of the establishment of their comprehensive strategic partnership next year as an opportunity to enhance pragmatic cooperation in trade, technology and investment, among others. China wishes the Portuguese economy could keep its recovering momentum, encourages more and competent Chinese enterprises to invest in Portugal and hopes the Portuguese side could facilitate the communication between companies and personnel of the two countries, said Xi. As countries with long coastlines and abundant maritime resources, China and Portugal could strengthen cooperation in developing marine economy and utilizing marine resources, said the Chinese president. He noted that China and Portugal had realized the smooth handover of Macao to China in 1999 through negotiations, hailing it as a historically correct decision. Xi also briefed Portas on the sixth summit of BRICS leaders and his trip to Latin America, saying that China is willing to make joint efforts with Portugal for the peace, stability and development in relevant regions and countries. For his part, Portas said the two sides have solved the historical issue of Macao and set a good example for the world. He thanked China for its valuable support to Portugal during its debt crisis. Portugal stands ready to boost its comprehensive strategic partnership with China, strengthen political dialogue and expand cooperation in such fields as trade, investment and tourism, he said. Portas welcomes more Chinese companies to invest in Portugal, noting that his country is willing to play an active role in the development of China-EU relations. He also congratulated Xi for his successful visit to Latin America. Portugal is willing to use its advantage to enhance cooperation on Latin American and African affairs with China, he added. Xi wrapped up his Latin America trip and left Cuba on Wednesday. The four-leg trip also took him to Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China intensifies official education to curb moral corruption (Xinhua)
2014-07-20
Chinese authorities on Sunday announced intense ideological education for officials to strengthen their faith in communism and curb corruption. Profound social-economic changes at home and abroad have brought multiple distractions to officials who face loss of faith and moral decline, said the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in a statement. The conviction and morals of officials determine the rise and fall of the CPC and the country, it added. Officials should keep firm belief in Marxism to avoid being lost in the clamor for western democracy, universal values and civil society, according to the statement. Education in national and world conditions will be carried out among officials to strengthen their political, ideological and emotional identity in socialism with Chinese characteristics. The authorities pledged to improve officials' morals, calling on them to be noble, pure and virtuous persons who have relinquished vulgar tastes. "Chinese officials should safeguard the spiritual independence of the nation and avoid becoming an echo of western moral values," it warned. In China's far-reaching anti-corruption drive, several officials have been stripped of their CPC membership and official posts for committing adultery, a discipline violation that has been largely ignored in the last few decades. The word appeared again recently when the CPC discipline watchdog announced investigations of vice governor of Hainan Province Ji Wenlin and former senior political advisor of Hunan Province Yang Baohua. ^ top ^

Death toll rises to 43 in China highway explosion (Xinhua)
2014-07-20
At least 43 people were killed and another six injured in an explosion and fire after a highway pileup in central China Saturday morning. A van loaded with alcohol rear-ended a passenger coach at around 3 a.m. on a section of the Hukun (Shanghai to Kunming) Expressway in Hunan Province. A total of five vehicles were destroyed in the accident. Shi Shiping, a villager living near the scene, told Xinhua that he "heard a huge bang" when the accident happened. "It was like the explosion of an atomic bomb," Shi said, adding that local villagers were unable to get close to the site because of the fierce fire. "Four people escaped from the blaze with severe burns, their hair and clothes burnt," Shi said. "They could barely talk and were just moaning. As we did not have medicine or any medical equipment, we just comforted them by saying everything will be OK," Shi said. A joint task force led by the State Administration of Work Safety, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Transport has arrived at the site. The investigation team concluded in their preliminary findings that the van had been remodeled and the coach driver had not followed mandated stop-over policy that requires passenger coaches to rest after midnight. ^ top ^

China shuts down 31 websites temporarily as crackdown on 'rumour mongers' continues (SCMP)
2014-07-20
A total of 31 websites have been temporarily shut down by the mainland's internet regulators in the latest crackdown against “rumour mongers”. Xinhuanet.com, the state-run website of Xinhua, reported that the affected sites include an online game forum and two online bulletin boards – known as BBS – one based in Guangdong and the other in Hebei province. Also shut down was the Beijing-based website for zhiqing or “sent-down youth” generations – the Cultural Revolution campaign that saw millions of young city dwellers sent to the hinterlands to be “re-educated by the peasants”. The services of a Beijing-based mobile phone app for aggregating information – mostly news and forum posts – have been suspended, too, for seven days as a punishment, xinhuanet.com said. This is not the first time internet regulators have targeted websites, but until now police have detained dozens for individuals and shut down websites that have circulated pornographic content. Xinhuanet.com's report quoted an unnamed official, who said some people had “maliciously fabricated and circulated rumours, and these claims are seriously inaccurate”. The websites that were closed had “caused bad influence because of their improper management … and will be condemned”, xinhuanet.com reported. Although the official did not say what rumours had been circulated, two sources familiar with the case said that the crackdown had targeted only “political rumours”. Last August the Ministry of Public Security announced the special campaign against online rumours. The following month legislation came into force, which means internet “rumour mongers” can be jailed for writing defamatory messages. […] Only yesterday, President Xi Jinping, gave a keynote speech to the Brazilian congress, during his week-long visit to Latin America, in which he called for stricter management of the internet, Xinhua reported. Xi believes the web will pose increasing challenges to state sovereignty, national security and development. Chinese microblogs have become drivers of public opinion in recent years, with commenters drawing attention to official corruption, pollution and other issues. […]. ^ top ^

Party re-emphasizes ideology education (Global Times)
2014-07-21
A new round of moral and belief education is requiring Chinese government officials to reaffirm their faith in "socialism with Chinese characters." According to a circular issued recently by the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, "deepened education" in Marxist principles must be stressed among officials to prevent them from "being disoriented and losing themselves" to the influences of Western ideals, including constitutional democracy, universal values and civil society, or to the influences of superstition and religion. "Lack of faith" and "bad morality and ethics" among officials have become a serious problem for the image of the CPC, especially with the surge in temptations that has come hand-in-hand with profound changes in international and domestic circumstances, Xinhua News Agency recently reported. The circular also required local Party schools and governance academies to reinforce education in traditional Chinese culture, urging officials to defend the spiritual independence of the nation, to fight against harmful behaviors and to avoid becoming a "yes-man for Western moral values." A long-term education mechanism should be established to address these challenges, said the circular. An anonymous Beijing-based professor of political science told the Global Times that China should establish its own core value system, so as to resist so-called Western values. "The present problem is not a result of the penetration of Western ideology. The policy of reform and opening up doesn't only apply to building [the physical aspects of our] civilization, but should [be applied to] spiritual and cultural life as well," said the professor. The circular comes together with the intensification of a new round of ideology work. Earlier this month, officials at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the country's top State-run think tank, said that ideology and political discipline are its primary criteria for evaluating officials and research fellows after receiving warnings from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Party's central disciplinary watchdog. ^ top ^

Tianjin police chief detained by CCDI for alleged corruption (SCMP)
2014-07-21
The head of the police in Tianjin has been detained for suspected corruption. The Communist Party's anti-graft agency said yesterday that Wu Changshun (pictured) has been held for suspected serious violations of law and party discipline, a phrase often used to refer to corruption. Wu is also a deputy chairman of the municipality's political advisory body. No other details were given about the allegations against Wu. He made his last public appearance on July 11 when he took part in a live two-hour radio programme in Tianjin, answering questions about security, household registration and transportation, Xinhua reported. Two days prior, the party's anti-graft agency published a report on the city, with inspectors highlighting "rampant corruption" within state-owned companies as well as the construction sector. Inspectors said they had discovered growing problems of "procrastination and passive attitudes" among officials and flagged up concerns over cadres' appointments and other issues. Inspectors said they had given evidence of officials suspected of corruption to the agency's investigators and the Communist Party's Organisation Department. […] Wu, 60, began his career at age 16 in the city's traffic police bureau and has spent his entire career in the public security system. He became the city's police chief in 2005. Mainland media reported yesterday that Wu was implicated in the corruption investigation into Song Pingshun, the former chairman of the city's political advisory body, who killed himself in 2007 after he found he was the subject of a graft probe. Song was expelled from the party after his death for having a mistress and for abuse of power. The Legal Evening News reported Wu was allegedly under investigation following Song's death, but he emerged unscathed. The Beijing News reported that Song was Wu's boss in the 1990s when Song was police chief and later deputy mayor overseeing public security. ^ top ^

China's Red Cross blasted after sending quilts to sweltering typhoon disaster zone (SCMP)
2014-07-22
Sending quilts to people affected by natural disasters is a routine practice even in summer, the scandal-plagued Red Cross Society of China said yesterday in response to widespread criticism over the charity's choice of assistance to victims of China's most severe typhoon in four decades. Yang Xusheng, director of the organisation's aid department, told The Beijing News that it had sent thousands of cotton quilts to Guangdong, Hainan and Guangxi since Super Typhoon Rammasun made landfall on Friday. As of 5pm yesterday, 38 people were confirmed dead, and 31 were missing in Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi and now Yunnan, battered by heavy rainfall from the typhoon. Members of the public questioned why the charity would send quilts to areas where daytime temperatures in the middle of summer can reach 35 degrees Celsius or higher. In an online poll of 5,400 internet users by sohu.com only 12 per cent said it was reasonable to dispatch quilts because they have multiple uses. Sixty per cent said they did not understand the need to "send warm bedding during extremely hot days", while others said the public now had a habit of questioning anything the Red Cross does following a slew of scandals. Officials in the worst-hit areas of southern Guangdong said victims were in dire need of water, sleeping mats and towels. They did not think they would use the quilts now, Xinhua reported. Yang said the quilts were sent in response to a request for such items made by officials at local Red Cross centres. […] Quilts were also better than mats - which were hard and had only one function - as they had various uses. Temperatures can vary greatly between day and night even in those areas, especially away from the coast or in the hills. Chen Rui, who heads the aid team in Sanya, Hainan, said it was 28 degrees during the day, but dropped to 18 degrees at night. "Without jackets or quilts, people cannot stay outside," he said. Some 5,000 jackets were also sent to Hainan to help those in poor health, such as the elderly, women and children. Donations to the Red Cross have shrunk in recent years, as the charity's image has been tarnished by a string of scandals. Three years ago, a young woman known as Guo Meimei posted photos of herself online driving sports cars and wearing designer fashion. She claimed to be the "commercial general manager" for the "China Red Cross Chamber of Commerce", neither of which exist. ^ top ^

'Air traffic control' to cause widespread flight delays (Global Times)
2014-07-23
Aviation authorities confirmed Tuesday that passengers should expect considerable flight delays during the next month at 12 airports in Eastern and Central China due to "air traffic control" issues. Due to frequent drills on the part of "other airspace users," widespread flight delays began on Sunday and are expected to last until August 15, a total of 26 days, said the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), according to China National Radio (CNR). The affected airports include Hongqiao and Pudong international airports in Shanghai, as well as airports in major Chinese cities such as Nanjing, Hangzhou, Hefei, Ji'nan, Wuxi, Ningbo, Qingdao, Lianyungang, Zhengzhou and Wuhan. Airlines have been required to reduce the number of flights departing from these airports, said the CNR report. Although the notice did not specify the "other users," many believe that the "air traffic control" issues may in fact be caused by military drills. According to Li Jiaxiang, head of the CAAC, the civil aviation has jurisdiction over only 20 percent of China's airspace, Phoenix TV reported. It is rare for air traffic control issues to cause delays of this duration across such a wide area. The People's Daily reported earlier that China has launched a three-month live-fire drill for army units across six major Military Area Commands, including Nanjing, Ji'nan, Chengdu and Guangzhou, on July 15. The drills have mobilized artillery, long-range rocket projectile and air defense units. The authorities have not released any information on the question of whether these massive drills are the cause of the flight delays. Widespread flight delays and cancellations in Shanghai's two airports last week, also due to air traffic control issues, triggered numerous complaints from passengers. ^ top ^

China braces for Typhoon Matmoes (Xinhua)
2014-07-24
Coastal Chinese regions are bracing for typhoon Matmo as the 10th typhoon to affect the country this year made landfall in Fujian Province on Wednesday afternoon. With a wind speed of up to 30 meters per second, Matmo landed in Gaoshan Township in Fuqing City at 3:30 p.m., according to the provincial meteorological bureau. The typhoon is moving northwest, the bureau said. Matmo has brought strong winds and heavy downpours to parts of Fujian. A total of 296,804 people were evacuated by 3 p.m., said the provincial flood control headquarters. The provincial marine and fishing department said Fujian has suspended all shipping services. Some 157,200 fishermen and 30,470 vessels have been called back to shore. The Fujian Marine Affairs Bureau said it has four helicopters, four rescue vessels and 55 patrol boats on standby in case of emergencies. According to the State Grid Fujian Electric Power Co. Ltd., more than 340,000 families in the province had suffered a blackout as of 4:30 p.m.. The company has dispatched 5,167 employees to repair equipment. As of 4 p.m., east China's Zhejiang Province had relocated more than 44,000 residents and over 30,000 vessels had been told to return to shore, said the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters. Railway authorities in Nanchang City, capital of Jiangxi Province, suspended 182 trains running in southern and eastern coastal areas. In Shanghai Municipality, nineteen trains linking to coastal cities like Xiamen and Shenzhen were suspended, affecting more than 5,300 passengers. Provinces on southern and eastern coasts have been buffeted by typhoons Matmo and Rammasun, with the latter hitting Hainan and Guangdong on Friday. Rammasun was the strongest typhoon to strike China in four decades. Tourists have been evacuated from coastal and island resorts in Zhejiang, Fuzhou, Hainan and Guangdong provinces this week. In Hainan, super typhoon Rammasun had led to 25 deaths and six people missing as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. Economic losses have hit 11.95 billion yuan, a spokesman said at a disaster relief meeting. ^ top ^

China conducts successful land-based missile interception test (Xinhua)
2014-07-24
China has announced the success of a missile interception test conducted from land. The test, conducted within its territory late on Wednesday, "achieved the preset goal", according to a statement posted on the website of the Ministry of National Defense. Military authorities provided no other information about the operation. China has already successfully completed two mid-course land-based missile interception tests, in 2010 and 2013, both of which "attained preset objectives." By developing the ability to intercept incoming warheads such as ballistic missiles, it is hoped that the tests can help strengthen China's air defense. It is reported that such interception technology requires sophistication in information processing, reconnaissance, early warning, transportation of weaponry, guidance and precision. Analysts say the strategic importance of mid-course land-based missile interception could be compared to that of atomic and hydrogen bombs and man-made satellites. Missiles can be intercepted in three stages of their trajectory: boost phase, mid-course phase or terminal phase. ^ top ^

China plans establishment of IPR courts throughout nation (Global Times)
2014-07-24
"Setting up intellectual property courts is a critical step forward for China's judicial reform," said Feng Xiaoqing, an intellectual property law expert with the China University of Political Science and Law. In a historic move to step up intellectual property rights (IPR) protection standards, China has recently completed the initial phases of planning to establish the nation's first batch of IPR courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong, the Legal Weekly reported on July 16. The country first announced the plan to set up a special court to handle IPR disputes in a landmark policy document released during the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in Beijing last November. As the nation's economic power and international standing grows, the recent issuing of a massive 260 million yuan ($42 million) fine against popular video sharing site QVOD, also known as kuaibo, has raised the public's awareness of China's development of IPR. "China has become a leading owner country of intellectual property," said a partner of Perkins Coie LLP, a US-based international firm specializing in business law and litigation, during his attendance at an IPR conference in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province in late 2013. While China topped the world's list of patent applications in 2011, disputes have also multiplied. Over 100,000 cases were handled from 2009 to 2013. In 2013, over half of the disputed cases were related to foreign companies, according to the Beijing Times. "The establishment of such courts will be hugely beneficial to China's economic and market structure," said Fu Zitang, president of Southwest University of Political Science and Law. Feng Xiaoqing said the move represents China's latest effort to match domestic judicial practice with international standards, as countries like the US, Japan, Germany, the UK, Russia and Thailand have such courts in place already. The new courts are also expected to standardize the guidelines for court rulings. "I recently received a case and found out that rulings in the courts in Guangdong and Shanghai can be completely different, even with the same claimant and the same act of infringement," said Cheng Yongshun, deputy president of the China Intellectual Property Law Association, adding that it is essential to rule out unpredictability in terms of ruling standards in intellectual property cases. Cao Xinming, deputy head of Research Center of Intellectual Property Right at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, echoed this view and said China lacks standardized practices when handling related cases. "While IPR cases in one region are passed to the grass-roots court, similar cases in another region are passed to the intermediate court," said Cao. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing police teach bus drivers anti-terror (China Daily)
2014-07-24
More than 300 bus drivers and conductors were taught anti-terror procedures by Beijing police on Wednesday after two bus arsons this month. Two people died after a bus was blown up in Guangzhou on July 15 while 30 were injured in a bus arson in Hangzhou earlier this month. In one training session, a conductor tried to prevent a person from igniting explosives while the driver stopped the bus and evacuated the passengers. A police officer said the training would help bus drivers and conductors when an accident occurs. The bus drivers and conductors were also taught methods of dealing with terror attacks and suspected explosives. The heavily policed capital vows to contain violence in heavily populated areas within one minute. Terrorists hacked 29 people to death at Kunming railway station in March. In May, 39 people were killed in a terrorist attack in Urumqi. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai meat supplier for McDonald, KFC suspended for safety concerns (Xinhua)
2014-07-21
Shanghai food and drug administration has suspended the operation of a food company suspected of supplying stale meat to McDonald and KFC outlets. Earlier on Sunday the administration had ordered that all meat products supplied by Shanghai Husi Food Co., Ltd should be taken off shelf for safety concerns. Local media reported the company reprocessed meat products that had outlived their shelf life and supplied them to transnational fast-food chains including McDonald, KFC and Pizza Hut. Reporters who managed to enter Husi workshops said they saw clear evidence that stale beef and chicken were repackaged after processing and their shelf life was prolonged for another year. Investigators sent by Shanghai food and drug administration arrived at the company's facility in an industrial town in Jiading District at 7:30 p.m., but were stopped by security guards at the main entrance. The two sides argued for more than an hour, until the investigators called police. Shanghai Husi Food Co., Ltd, a member of the U.S. OSI Group, was a solely foreign-funded company with a registered capital of 50.47 million yuan. In a "commitment to customers", posted at Husi's Shanghai plant, the company promised "hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP)", a systematic preventive approach to food safety, and "routine sample microbe test". Yang Liqun, general manager of deep processing with OSI China, said the company has a strict quality control system and will cooperate in the investigation. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Mystery as hundreds of young Chinese workers are dying in their sleep (SCMP)
2014-07-22
The number of young male workers with no history of health problems who died suddenly in their sleep has risen sharply over the past decade in the manufacturing hub Dongguan, research shows. The city's police recorded 893 cases of sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome from January 2001 to October last year. It is a more than triple the 231 cases recorded from January 1990 to December 1999. The sharp increase came to light after researchers at Zhongshan School of Medicine based in Guangzhou released their analysis of police records of deaths in Dongguan over the past two decades, the official Guangzhou Daily reported. The syndrome covers the deaths in their sleep of otherwise healthy adults with autopsies revealing no potentially fatal disease or injury. The men who died usually experienced an abrupt difficulty in breathing before death, the school's studies into the syndrome said, but the cause remained unclear. The syndrome is mostly noted in the Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. The newspaper reported that it first drew the attention of mainland medical scholars when an increasing number of migrant workers in Dongguan were reported to have died suddenly in their sleep in the 1990s. The recent analysis of cases in Dongguan revealed a similar pattern to international studies, suggesting that young male manual labourers were at greatest risk. More than 90 per cent of victims in Dongguan were manual labourers, the newspaper quoted the analysis as saying. It said that long working hours as well as poor sanitation and ventilation in their living and working spaces might have put the workers at higher risk. Workers' rights groups in Guangdong have long been concerned about the sudden deaths of migrant workers, which they believed were caused by overwork, according to Zeng Feiyang, the director of the Guangdong Panyu Migrant Worker Centre in Guangzhou. "It is especially hard to help the victims get compensation since the concept of overwork has not been recognised by Chinese law," said Zeng. "Factories owners could easily argue against the accusation, saying the victim's colleagues were working for the same number of hours a day healthily." The analysis found people aged 20 to 40, usually the breadwinners under heavy pressure, were at highest risk. More than 80 per cent of the 328 people who died during 2001 and 2006, for instance, were aged between 21 and 40. More than nine out of every 10 victims were male, according to the analysis. ^ top ^

NWS Holdings plans to buy majority stake in Guangdong highway operator (SCMP)
2014-07-23
NWS Holdings plans to pay 2.56 billion yuan (HK$3.2 billion) for a 51 per cent stake in the company that operates the Erguang Expressway in Guangdong province. The firm said yesterday a wholly owned subsidiary was the highest bidder at the auction for an equity interest in the highway operator, which is being sold by Zhejiang Highway Development. However, NWS said, the execution of the equity purchase agreement was subject to waiving the pre-emptive right to buy Zhejiang Highway's equity interest held by the other shareholder, Guangdong Province Road and Bridge Construction Development. The pre-emptive right will be waived if Guangdong Province Road does not exercise it by August 20. NWS said the purchase would be funded by internal resources and bank financing, with the total consideration to be paid in three instalments. Once the second instalment was paid it would be able to nominate and replace the directors, senior management personnel and legal representatives of the highway operator. NWS said the investment was consistent with its focus on infrastructure assets and would further strengthen its presence as a toll road operator in Guangdong. The Erguang Expressway has a total length of 118.04km in Guangdong. The dual three-lane road links to nearby provinces including Guangxi and Hunan, with an average daily traffic flow of more than 31,000 vehicles last year. The Guangdong section is part of a much longer expressway being built between the provincial capital, Guangzhou, and Erenhot in Inner Mongolia. As of the end of last year, Zhejiang Highway's net asset value was about 2.5 billion yuan. It made a loss of 99 million yuan last year. Trading of NWS shares was halted yesterday morning, pending the announcement. The shares rose 2 per cent after trading resumed before closing down 0.13 per cent at HK$14.96. ^ top ^

Uygur community workers help to solve migrants' problems in Guangzhou (SCMP)
2014-07-24
Eleven Uygurs are working as part of an urban management force helping migrants from China's far west Xinjiang region living in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. Guangzhou's municipal authorities hired the Uygurs in April to solve problems in the city involving Uygur migrants, such has helping them find accommodation, or catching those that get into trouble, local newspaper News Express reported. This is the first time Uygurs – the Turkic-speaking Muslim minority from Xinjiang – have been employed in such a role in Guangzhou. The city has seen a growing number of Uygur migrants in recent years. But due to language barriers, disputes have often occurred between the migrants and police officers. Ten of the 11 Uygur officers are former police graduates. Their duties are focused in communities that have large numbers of Uygur migrants. […] Official figures show Uygurs form 46 per cent of the population of Xinjiang, which is twice the size of Turkey and rich in oil and gas. Another 39 per cent are formed of Han Chinese. Relations between them have grown worse in recent years, especially since two terrorist attacks took place this year, which the Chinese government blames on Uygur separatists. In March a deadly knife attack at Kunming railway station, in Yunnan province, left 29 civilians dead and 143 wounded. Four people have been charged with the attack. In May, 31 people died when terrorists in two vehicles drove into shoppers and traders and threw explosives in a street market in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital. Uygurs call Xinjiang East Turkestan. A movement for independence for East Turkestan comprises up to 50 fragmented organisations, which are grouped under the name East Turkestan Independence Movement. ^ top ^

Guangzhou locals seek 'Cantonese Day' to help preserve mother tongue (SCMP)
2014-07-25
Supporters of the local dialect of Guangdong are campaigning to name today - and every July 25 - "Cantonese Day", it being the anniversary of boisterous street rallies four years ago in support of Cantonese. The campaign follows reports the provincial television station plans to switch the language most of the original programmes on its news channel is broadcast in from Cantonese to Putonghua in September. Lao Zhenyu, editor-in-chief of GZNF.net, a news and discussion website on Guangzhou lifestyle and culture, has launched an online campaign to encourage more locals to remember their mother tongue. "We support the government policy to promote Putonghua, but it should aim at enabling everyone to be proficient in Putonghua rather than limiting them to speaking Putonghua only. Otherwise, it will destroy the diverse fabric of Chinese culture," said Lao. […] Tired of being swamped by the relentless tide of Putonghua, more and more Cantonese parents complain that their children are reluctant to speak their mother tongue even at home. Liang Zhifeng, 34, a Guangzhou football fan, is one of them. "My kid has spoken Putonghua since kindergarten and we speak Cantonese at home, but my child always mixes Putonghua in between," Liang said. "I feel like Cantonese is being gradually washed away by the authorities. My cousin's son is not familiar with many allegorical sayings unique to Cantonese. Many of these sayings are lost on the next generation. I think local culture should be preserved." ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Grid link powers border defense (Chinadaily)
2014-07-22
A stable power supply is a crucial strategic element for military border defense missions in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Huang Xiaoming, the deputy commander of the People's Liberation Army's Xinjiang military region, said on Monday. Huang made the remarks after power lines were connected to frontier defense stations on the China-Pakistan border. The PLA border defense company in the Tashkurgan Tajik autonomous county's Khunjerab Pass on the Pamir Plateau installed high definition surveillance cameras on the mountain passes leading to Pakistan in September, but they sometimes failed to work because of an unstable power supply. Electricity is essential, if surveillance cameras are to monitor suspicious activities, and it will improve the troops' ability to catch terrorists or separatists trying to cross the border illegally, Huang, a company commander, said on Monday. "Now the troops can monitor the border day and night." Previously, the company's base was powered by solar panels and a diesel engine. When it snowed, little electricity was generated, Huang said. The forces in Kashgar's Tashkurgan that are deployed along the 87-kilometer passage to Wakhan Corridor, which separates China and Afghanistan, will be connected to the power grid in September. Huang said some tribal terrorist cells in Afghanistan are still active near the corridor, posing a big threat to China, which has experienced a series of attacks. In addition, some separatists and terrorists who plotted attacks in Xinjiang were trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Qi Yanping, deputy commander of the PLA's Xinjiang military region, said that with high-tech equipment, the troops can better guard China's borders. "Our basic mission is to not let a single terrorist or weapon enter China. We are even responsible for stopping herdsmen's livestock, such as yaks, from crossing the border," said Wang, whose company guards the 96-km China-Pakistan border. With sufficient electricity, armed border inspection forces based near the Khunjerab boundary marker, at an altitude of 5,200 meters, can employ advanced X-ray systems to check different vehicles for weapons and drugs. The 116-km power line from the generating plant in the county seat of Tashkuegan, cost almost 100 million yuan ($16.1 million), said Jiang Guoping, deputy manager of the Tashkuegan electricity company. "The project mainly serves the border defense forces, but it also benefits more than 60 herdsmen who previously lived without electricity." ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

HK must 'strictly follow' Basic Law for elections: top legislator (Global Times)
2014-07-21
Hong Kong has to "strictly follow" the Basic Law in implementing its electoral reform for the 2017 leadership election, China's top legislator told Hong Kong's chief executive in a rare meeting in Shenzhen over the weekend, days after the city's submission of an election report. "We have to strictly follow the provisions of the Basic Law and also the stipulations of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee's decisions," said Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, quoting the words of Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, at their most recent meeting. Leung told reporters Saturday afternoon he and three other senior government officials had met Zhang on Saturday morning, who went from Beijing to Shenzhen, four days after receiving the report submitted by Leung on Hong Kong's political reform. The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post described the meeting as a surprise, as it is the first time the chairman of the nation's top legislature has travelled to Shenzhen to discuss political reform with Hong Kong leaders. Beijing's representative also met with Hong Kong's political party and business leaders during his stay in Shenzhen. In a meeting with the Liberal Party, Zhang expressed concern regarding foreign intervention over Hong Kong matters and called it "unacceptable," reported Commercial Radio Hong Kong. […] ^ top ^

Hong Kong 'hands PLA radar station on territory's highest mountain in secret deal' (SCMP)
2014-07-23
A radar station that is sitting on public land at the top of Tai Mo Shan has been granted secretly to the People's Liberation Army, according to a lawmaker who is threatening to take the government to court for keeping the public in the dark. Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, of the Civic Party, said he would not rule out seeking a judicial review over the government's non-disclosure of the construction and use of the radar station by the army's Hong Kong garrison, when there was a proper channel and mechanism to announce it. Chan urged officials to release more details about the allocation of the estimated 9,300 square metre site, which was not listed among the 19 designated military sites and facilities in the city. The radar, along with a building and a basketball court, is located near the Observatory's weather radar and the Civil Aviation Department's radar on the 957-metre mountain, Hong Kong's tallest peak. All three facilities lie behind fences, with public access restricted. Garrison officers have been spotted inside the station. Chan said that under the Garrison Law, Hong Kong officials and the PLA were obliged to tell the public about the existence of such a site. "They should follow the Garrison Law provisions to designate the place as a military site with restricted public access," he said. "But now the public has no knowledge about this and we cannot find anything about it from documents filed to the legislature, either." Chan was referring to section 12 of the law, which states the "Hong Kong garrison shall delimit military restricted zones in conjunction with the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region". It also says "the locations and boundaries of the military restricted zones shall be declared by the government". A government spokesman was tight-lipped about the claim, saying only that the government had a role to play in facilitating the army's defence duties. He used the word "secret" in declining to reveal further information about the station, such as the type of land grant, or whether other undisclosed military sites existed elsewhere in the city. "The Garrison Law provides that the government of the HKSAR shall support the Hong Kong garrison in its performance of defence functions," the spokesman said. "It is inappropriate to disclose the details of any defence operations." The Development Bureau declined to comment on the format in which the local garrison had been given the site, such as whether it was on a short-term tenancy or a private treaty grant. Aerial photographs covering the hilltop areas showed the structures were not in existence in 2009, but began to take shape in 2010. That indicated the land grant might have been allowed by 2009 at the latest. Roy Tam Hoi-pong, president of environmental group Green Sense, said after visiting the site yesterday that having the three radars - two civil and one military - share a small confined area was "sensitive". ^ top ^

Pan-democrats soften stance amid hopes of meeting with Beijing (SCMP)
2014-07-23
The pan-democratic camp appears to be softening its push to allow the public to nominate candidates for chief executive, in an attempt to set up a meeting with Beijing officials and forge a consensus on electoral reform. Signs emerged on the eve of a meeting today with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, whom pan-democrats intend to ask for help in arranging direct talks with Beijing to discuss universal suffrage. Cyd Ho Sau-lan, of the Labour Party, said the idea of letting the public put forward candidates in the 2017 election could be negotiable, "depending on what Beijing has to counter-offer". Another person familiar with the situation said: "The central government wants a chief executive it can work with. Obviously Beijing is unlikely to accept public nomination. But there is still room for discussion on details such as nomination threshold." But the planned meeting is clouded by worries that news of pan-democrats having received huge donations from media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying could pose a hurdle for the central government to invite pan-democrats for talks in Beijing. Lai has close ties with American politicians and is known for his anti-communist stance. "The chances of a meeting between pan-democrats and Beijing officials on the mainland are getting slimmer," a government source said. "But the door for meetings in Hong Kong remains open." Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying yesterday promised that his administration would do its best to facilitate communication between the two sides. But he said: "This cannot be only [the government's] own wishful thinking. I hope [the pan-democrats] can create good conditions and a good atmosphere so that we can better perform our role as a bridge." In April, Leung arranged for lawmakers to meet senior mainland officials in Shanghai for electoral reform talks. But only 14 of the 27 pan-democratic lawmakers showed an interest, and just 10 joined the trip. Frederick Fung Kin-kee, convenor of the pan-democratic camp's lunchtime meetings, said: "We will ask Lam to help arrange a meeting with Beijing officials again." Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah added: "Now it seems the public nomination issue has reached a deadlock. Is it necessary for us to think of another way in order to make progress?" He said further discussion should focus more on the composition of the nominating committee, its operation, nominating procedures and the number of candidates. Next week, Lam will meet a group of 18 academics who have put forward a proposal for moderate reform, as well as the organisers of the Occupy Central movement for democracy. ^ top ^

Pan-democrat lawmakers could face probe over donations from media mogul Jimmy Lai (SCMP)
2014-07-24
Five pro-democracy lawmakers accused of secretly accepting millions of dollars in donations from media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying may face official investigations. This follows leaks of about 900 confidential files concerning business and personal affairs of the Apple Daily founder as well as his political donations. The leak has been slammed by pan-democrats as a smear campaign. A Beijing-loyalist group yesterday asked Legco's committee on members' interests to look into the matter. A member of a "lawmaker integrity" concern group said it had filed a report to the Inland Revenue Department and would hand another to the Independent Commission Against Corruption over donations of more than HK$10 million that Lai allegedly paid to pan-democratic parties and lawmakers. "An inquiry by the Legco committee, we believe, could help clarify whether the lawmakers' non-disclosure constituted any conflict of interests," said Wong Kwok-kin, of the Federation of Trade Unions. Legco rules require lawmakers to disclose "material benefits" from a single source where the total value exceeds 5 per cent of their annual remuneration, or one-off benefits over HK$10,000. As there is no political party law, there are no rules covering donations to groups. Two of the lawmakers - the Civic Party's Claudia Mo Man-ching and the Democratic Party's James To Kun-sun - rejected claims they had received donations that were made in an e-mail sent from an unknown source to media this week. But their stance seemed to contradict Lai's remarks on Apple's online talk show Hammer Out on Tuesday when he apparently agreed that he paid them "for electioneering". Radical "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and the Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah-kit - shown to have received HK$500,000 and HK$300,000 respectively - have said they did so on behalf of two pan-democratic groups. The Labour Party's Lee Cheuk-yan, shown to have been paid HK$500,000 last year, was overseas and could not be reached for comment. None of the lawmakers disclosed the sums as required by Legco rules. Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said relevant matters would be handled by the members' interests committee of which she was vice-chairwoman. She added the reports seemed to be smear tactics. […] ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's DPP delays decision over freezing independence stance (SCMP)
2014-07-21
Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has put off a decision on a controversial proposal to "freeze" its long-held call for nationhood. The party is preparing for local elections and any change to its platform risks alienating hard-core supporters of independence. At a national congress held at the Taipei International Conference Centre, party chairwoman Dr Tsai Ing-wen delayed decision on the thorny issue by calling for the central executive committee to discuss the proposal in the future. "As the election of the central executive committee will be held at 3pm and we only have 20 minutes left, [I] suggest that several proposals, including the change of the party charter and resolution … be dealt with by the … committee" in the future, Tsai said. The proposal to freeze the independence clause was raised by 40 elite party members, including Dr Tung Chen-yuan, former vice-chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, earlier last month. They argue Taiwan has long been sovereign and its de facto independence status made it unnecessary for the DPP to seek the creation of a new nation. Freezing the sensitive clause could lead to better relations between the DPP and Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province subject to eventual union, by force if necessary. Beijing maintains it will not deal with any party that supports independence. Shortly after Tsai called for review of the proposal, the same 40 members issued a statement asking the DPP to "honestly" examine itself and resolve the issue if it wanted to return to leadership. "Freezing the clause does not necessary mean giving up Taiwanese independence, but it tells others that Taiwan - whose title is 'Republic of China' has long been independent and is not under the jurisdiction of the 'People's Republic of China'," the statement said. Pundits said sending the proposal to the executive committee for handling would protect Tsai from mounting criticism by the hard-core pro-independence camp. Its members have either raised counterproposals demanding the DPP establish the Taiwanese republic when it returns to power or called for the bloc to challenge Tsai for leadership of the party. […] ^ top ^

48 dead, 10 injured in Taiwan plane crash (Chinadaily)
2014-07-24
[…] Flight GE 222, carrying 54 passengers and four crew members, smashed into residential buildings after a failed emergency landing in the outlying island county of Penghu Wednesday evening. Twelve people were injured and sent to hospital. The rest remain missing. According to the transport authority, the passengers included two French nationals. No one from the Chinese mainland was on board the plane. One of the black boxes has been found, according to the authority. The twin-engine ATR-72 turboprop aircraft was originally scheduled to take off at 4 p.m., but left Kaohsiung at 5:43 pm due to bad weather. As the plane was preparing to land at Magong Airport in heavy rain, it was forced to pull up due to poor visibility. The aircraft requested to circle above before trying to land but lost contact with the tower, said Jean Shen, director general of Taiwan's civil aeronautics administration, at a press conference. On its second attempt at landing, the flight crashed into residential buildings in the village of Xixi in Penghu. Several villagers were also injured in the crash, according to local media reports. A flurry of reports have generated somewhat chaotic information, with earlier local media reports quoting also sources from local transport authority as saying that 47 people had been confirmed dead in the plane crash. It is not instantly clear what had led to the failed landing. Wang Hsing-chung, head of Taiwan's aviation safety council, said it is still too early to speculate the cause of the crash. But many have blamed foul weather conditions, for the accident took place just as typhoon Matmo slammed the island with heavy rains and strong winds, shutting financial markets and schools. There had been 11 aviation accidents in waters off the Penghu islands since 1967, resulting in 289 people dead or missing. Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou expressed deep sorrow on Wednesday night after learning of the plane crash, and has instructed relevant authorities to investigate the accident in a timely manner, according to his office spokeswoman Ma Wei-kuo.[...] According to TransAsia Airways, the pilot of the 13-year-old plane had 22 years of flying experience and the co-pilot had professional experience of two and a half years. TransAsia Airways, founded in 1951, is Taiwan's first private airline, mainly focusing on the island's market and short trip overseas flights. It is now the third airline company in Taiwan. The ATR 72 is a twin-engine turboprop short-haul regional airliner built by the French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR. It can take more than 70 people on board. ^ top ^

 

Economy

More cities report falling property prices in June (Global Times)
2014-07-19
More cities reported dropping housing prices in June compared to earlier months, a trend that may further dampen China's economic growth, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed Friday. Among the 70 major cities monitored by the NBS, 55 reported a month-on-month drop in new commercial housing prices last month, compared with 35 in May. Seven reported flat new commercial housing prices in June and eight saw their prices increase, and the highest month-on-month increase was only 0.2 percent. New commercial housing prices in the four first-tier cities are also dropping. In June, only Beijing reported a moderate month-on-month increase of 0.1 percent. Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen all saw their prices drop in the month, according to the NBS. On a yearly basis, Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province is the only one that reported a drop in new commercial housing prices last month. The highest year-on-year increase narrowed to 9.4 percent in June, compared with 11.3 percent in May. "Inventories are increasing amid the prevailing wait-and-see attitude of consumers, and many developers have had to cut prices hoping to boost sales," Liu Yuan, a senior research manager at Centaline China Real Estate, said. "Transactions may rebound in September or October, as developers continue to cut prices and local governments further loosen restrictions." Some 20 cities, mostly in second- and third-tier such as Nanchang in Jiangxi Province and Ji'nan in Shandong Province, have loosened housing purchase restrictions that were imposed in 2011. ^ top ^

RMB developing quickly as major world currency (Chinadaily)
2014-07-22
The renminbi is on track to become the third-largest international currency behind the US dollar and the euro within five years as China accelerates its promotion of the yuan, said a Renmin University of China report released on Sunday. Last year, RMB cross-border trade settlement amounted to 4.63 trillion yuan ($746 billion), up 57.5 percent from 2012. It accounted for 2.5 percent of cross-border trade settlement worldwide, the report said. By the end of the fourth quarter of 2013, direct investment settled in renminbi amounted to 533 billion yuan, 1.9 times the same period in 2012. The RMB is currently the fifth-most widely used currency internationally. The British pound is third and the Japanese yen fourth. […] By the end of 2013, the outstanding volume of international bonds and bank notes denominated in renminbi rose 24.9 percent year-on-year to $71.9 billion. The issuers of RMB-denominated bonds started to expand out of Hong Kong, with countries such as Japan and Canada joining in. As Chinese economic power continues to grow, an increasing number of countries have become willing to accept the renminbi as a reserve currency. By the end of 2013, the PBOC had signed currency swap agreements involving a total of 2.57 trillion yuan with 23 countries and regions, the report said. ^ top ^

Bulgaria, China's Anhui Province sign memorandum on economic cooperation (Xinhua)
2014-07-22
Bulgarian Ministry of Economy and Energy (MEE) and the Development and Reform Commission of east China's Anhui Province signed first Memorandum of Understanding on Economic Cooperation, officials said Wednesday evening. "The Memorandum will enable businesses and organizations from Bulgaria and Anhui Province to develop investment and trade cooperation, and jointly explore opportunities for cooperation in the implementation of joint projects in areas of mutual interest," Krasin Dimitrov, Deputy Minister of Economy and Energy said at the signing ceremony according to a MEE press release. Zhang Shaochun, Director of Anhui Development and Reform Commission, signed the memorandum on behalf of his organization, the press release said. He is a member of the official delegation of Anhui Province led by Zhang Baoshun, Party Chief of Anhui Province, which is visiting Bulgaria at the invitation of MEE. "The purpose of our visit, which is at the highest level in 10 years, is to deepen exchanges and cooperation in sectors such as economy, agriculture and education," Zhang said. He hoped cooperation between Anhui Province and Bulgarian MEE would encourage investment, and provide the basis for cooperation between enterprises and development of the business in the two countries, Zhang said. In 2013, trade exchange between Bulgaria and China reached 1.8 billion U.S. dollars, with about a third of it done with Anhui Province, the press release added. ^ top ^

China speeds up drafting of property regulation (Global Times)
2014-07-22
China is accelerating the drafting of a property registration regulation originally scheduled to be issued by June, the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) said on Wednesday. An anonymous MLR source told Xinhua that the ministry has conducted research and solicited opinions from experts and other central government departments, and that work is going smoothly. The source said formulation of the regulation needed a lot of efforts but did not reveal when it would be completed. The State Council designated the MLR to lead a number of ministerial departments to draft the regulation, which is widely expected to curb speculation and graft in the real estate market. ^ top ^

Stocks link with mainland takes Hong Kong market to three-year high (SCMP)
2014-07-25
Hong Kong stocks rallied to finish at a three-year peak yesterday and are on course to test record highs. The market was driven by a strong flow of funds into the city ahead of the Hong Kong-mainland stock connect scheme in October and optimism about economic conditions on the mainland. The Hang Seng Index closed up 0.7 per cent at 24,141.50 points, its highest close since April 2011. The China Enterprises Index of the leading offshore Chinese listings in Hong Kong was up 1.1 per cent to close at its loftiest level since December 2013. "Liquidity will continue pouring in and recovering China data is accelerating fund managers' pace of buying in Hong Kong equities," said Linus Yip, chief strategist at First Shanghai Securities, who expected the index to reach at least 25,000. "Fund managers are busy pre-positioning in the Hong Kong market ahead of the stock connect scheme. They favour undervalued Chinese blue chips such as property developers and banks," he said. Under the stock connect scheme, Hong Kong investors will be able to trade up to 300 billion yuan of mainland A-shares, subject to a maximum of 13 billion yuan a day. Chinese stocks led the gains after the country's flash manufacturing index showed an upbeat reading of economic conditions that bolstered sentiment in financial and property stocks. The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI yesterday came in at 52.0 in July, an 18-month high, bolstering the central government's chances of meeting its economic growth target. A reading above 50 signifies expansion. Last week Beijing said second-quarter gross domestic product increased 7.5 per cent. Total market capitalisation of the city's two listing venues - the main board and junior growth enterprises board - jumped to more than HK$25 trillion for the first time. Bank of America-Merrill Lynch China economist Ting Lu said: "For financial markets, worries about leverage, shadow banking and the property sector could emerge again in the second half. However, with the volatility in the first half, markets are more likely to be immune to those calls that predict an imminent economic and financial crisis in China." Turnover hit the highest since early April at HK$86 billion. The Hang Seng Index has been climbing for three straight sessions, posting total gains of 2.2 per cent. Mainland property stocks gained on hopes more cities would cut restrictions that have cooled the housing sector, forcing many companies to reduce prices to spur sales. Sunac China Holdings led the sector by adding 5.3 per cent to finish at HK$5.75. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia, Canada seek to strengthen ties (Xinhua)
2014-07-24
Mongolia, Canada are seeking to strengthen ties as Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird arrived in the country for an official visit. Canada is one of Mongolia's foreign policy priorities, Mongolian Foreign Minister Luvsanvandan Bold said during talks with Baird here on Thursday. Bold proposed to elevate their four-decade-old bilateral relations to a new level and strengthen cooperation in mining, judicial reform, agriculture, healthcare and educational sectors. Baird said that the Canadian government values its relations with Mongolia and has recently designated Mongolia as one of 25 countries that will receive Canadian development assistance in 2014-2018. This bilateral development cooperation aims to help Mongolia stimulate sustainable economic growth by strengthening public service capacity, particularly the management of natural resources. The ministers emphasized that Canada and Mongolia are willing to build enduring relations, based on regional and global security concerns and values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. The two sides issued a joint statement after their talks. ^ top ^

 

Mrs. Eveline Bagnoud Zhou
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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