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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
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  21-25.5.18, No. 719  
    Archiv / Archives
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Table of contents

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

'They stood us up': White House says it cancelled Kim Jong-un meeting because North Korea refused to talk – despite Donald Trump's earlier claims (SCMP)
2018-05-25
US President Donald Trump cancelled a planned meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-un on Thursday because Pyongyang refused to reply to White House requests to help organise the event, among other "broken promises" in the run-up to the summit, a senior White House official said. "They waited and they waited. The North Koreans never showed up. They simply stood us up," the official said, referring to coordinating sessions planned to take place in Singapore last week. The summit had been scheduled for Singapore on June 12. North Korea responded early on its Friday morning, saying the government was still "open" to a meeting, and would work with the US "at any time, in any way". The remarks by the White House official about the missed meetings in Singapore differ from an open letter released by Trump earlier on Thursday, in which he blamed North Korea's "tremendous anger and open hostility" for the cancellation, which came just after Pyongyang said it had destroyed a key nuclear test site as a demonstration of goodwill. "We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you," Trump said in the 161-word letter. Our [nuclear capabilities] are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they never have to be used US President Donald Trump, in his letter to North Korea "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. "You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they never have to be used." Trump later tweeted a copy of the letter, saying he was "sadly … forced" to cancel the summit. He posted the letter a second time an hour later, as he had misspelled the leader's name as "Kim Jung Un" in his initial tweet. "We had set in high regards President Trump's efforts, unprecedented by any other president, to create a historic North Korea-US summit," responded North Korea's vice-foreign minister, Kim Kye-gwan, in a statement released by the North's central news agency, according to Reuters. "We tell the United States once more that we are open to resolving problems at any time in any way," he added. Asked what factor weighed more heavily in Trump's decision to cancel the summit – North Korean officials' failure to show up in Singapore or the "open hostility" – the White House official said a verbal attack by a senior North Korean official on US Vice-President Mike Pence "wasn't helpful". South Korea's presidential office expressed confusion over Trump's motives after the announcement. Spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters, "[We] are trying to figure out what President Trump's intention is and the exact meaning of it," Yonhap News Agency said. The meeting between Trump and Kim had been scheduled for June 12 in Singapore. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that it would happen as planned, even as he began to express doubts about the preparations. Inability to agree on the content of the discussions or what the two sides would agree to likely contributed to Trump's move on Thursday, said Thomas Byrne, president of the New York-based Korea Society. […] China had been supportive the Trump-Kim summit because Washington and Beijing both want to prevent North Korea from becoming a nuclear-armed country. "China firmly supports the meeting between the United States and the DPRK leaders," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday in a joint press conference with Pompeo in Washington. "Contact and dialogue between the leaders is key to addressing the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula. We look forward to seeing the meeting take place as scheduled and be successful," Wang said. Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Kim twice in little more than a month after Pyongyang's detente with South Korea and the US, which started during the Olympics in February, with China consistently stressing the need for denuclearisation and Kim appearing to agree in principle. However, that understanding might not have been as clear as the two sides had portrayed it. "The Chinese understood North Korea's concept of denuclearisation to be something akin to cutting off a weed by the surface instead of pulling it up by the roots, and the Chinese wanted the North Koreans to pull up by the roots and take everything out, as did the Americans and the South Koreans," the Korea Society's Byrne said. "That might have been an obstacle." ^ top ^

The summit is off, but Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un commemorative coins still for sale in White House bargain bin (SCMP)
2018-05-25
US President Donald Trump's letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un cancelling their summit next month prompted a deluge of derisory comments on Twitter on Thursday, including many about the now discounted commemorative coin pre-minted for the occasion. The "President Trump United States and Korea Summit" coin was the "deal of the day" at the White House Gift Shop on Thursday after Trump earlier in the day called off the historic summit with Kim, citing Pyongyang's "open hostility." The coin, which was selling for US$19.95 after the price was cut from US$24.95, shows gold embossed images of Trump and Kim facing each other with a montage of their countries' flags in the background. Kim's title is designated as "Supreme Leader". The coin was minted by the US military, which has long issued "challenge coins" commemorating specific events or accomplishments. A military detachment called the White House Communications Agency, regularly issues coins when the president travels abroad. What some described as the "breakup" tone of Trump's letter to Kim, coupled with the premature coins, drew a lively response from social media users on Twitter. "I am going to break up with you before you can break up with me and I get to keep all of the commemorative coins … SO THERE," said @AOPhoenix. "Are they going to make a coin to commemorate the breakup between Kim Jong Un and Trump?" Steelsnowflake1 asked. do with all his silly challenge coins he made?," asked Stablegenius Steve @numberone2. "You didn't break up with me, I broke up with you first. I want my ring back and reimbursed for the stupid coins I had made," said @sandrafualkenb1. Trump's letter to Kim announced his abrupt withdrawal from what would have been a first-ever meeting between a serving US president and a North Korean leader. It had been due to take place in Singapore on June 12. "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it would be inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting," Trump wrote in his letter to Kim. "Please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place." ^ top ^

'Dear Mr Chairman': here is the full text of the letter Trump sent Kim Jong-un, cancelling summit (SCMP)
2018-05-25
Dear Mr. Chairman: We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was expected to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used. I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only the dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated. If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history. Sincerely yours, Donald J. Trump President of the United States of America. ^ top ^

Military trust under more strain after US tells China it can't take part in Pacific naval drill (SCMP)
2018-05-25
The Pentagon's withdrawal of an invitation for China to take part in a multinational naval drill in the Pacific this summer has put military trust between the two sides under greater strain, analysts say. The US military said on Thursday it had disinvited China from the Rim of the Pacific exercises, the world's biggest international naval drill, citing "China's continued militarisation of the South China Sea". It came just days after China's air force landed an advanced H-6K strategic bomber on Woody Island in the Paracel group and deployed radar position, anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles on three newly built features on Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands. Subi Reef, located some 1,200km (750 miles) from China's coast, now has nearly 400 individual buildings – far more than the other Chinese islands according to private sector data, Reuters reported on Thursday. It could be the future location of hundreds of Chinese marines and a possible administrative hub as Beijing tries to cement its claim to the disputed waterway with a civilian presence, security analysts and diplomatic sources said. The Pentagon said in a statement that Beijing's activities in the South China Sea "raise tensions and destabilise the region" so it had cancelled the invitation. China's defence ministry responded that "invited or not, China will never change its determination... to firmly defend its national sovereignty and security interests" in the South China Sea. Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang reiterated Beijing's claims over the South China Sea islands, saying its construction and deployment of military facilities there was "legitimate" and "necessary", and had "absolutely nothing to do with militarisation". China took part in the US-led Rim of the Pacific drill – held off Hawaii every other year in June and July – for the first time in 2014 and again in 2016. This year's invitation was sent to Beijing in January and a Chinese delegation then went to the US to discuss logistics. The US withdrawal of an invitation to such a symbolic event comes at a difficult time in relations between the two sides and is potentially just the first setback in military exchanges between them, said Zhang Yuquan, an international relations specialist at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. "If the US military believes antagonistic acts in the region are in the US interest, we'll see more of this to come," Zhang said. "The US has become quite anxious about China's rise in recent years." Philip Davidson, incoming commander of the US armed forces in the Pacific, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month that "China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States". Including China in the Pacific drills was "designed to help with misunderstandings and to build upon cooperation, which was supposed to help deal with the most contentious issues", according to Oriana Skylar Mastro, assistant professor of security studies at Georgetown University and Jeane Kirkpatrick visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "The logic behind these military exchanges has weakened," Mastro said. "The US position was that through engagement, China would come to understand that they were better off when the US is in charge," she said. "I thought that was naive from the very beginning, but now I think many areas of the US government are coming to that conclusion." But the Pentagon's move was not a surprise given tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade and politics, and it would not be too much of a loss for the PLA Navy, said Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie. "The Chinese were not part of the core aspects anyway," he said, referring to the past two drills where China took part in areas such as disaster relief and search and rescue operations. China's participation in the past two drills improved understanding between the Chinese, US and other navies, its knowledge of how foreign exercises are conducted, and experience in international search and rescue cooperation – but it did not help much with its military capabilities, according to Li. "This is a deliberate move to isolate China in the region," he said. "But the worst aspect is when there's a need for international cooperation in the future, it won't be so easy for them to get that from China." The decision was announced before Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his US counterpart Mike Pompeo in Washington. He said at a joint press conference afterwards that the move was not constructive and was "unhelpful to the trust and cooperation between the Chinese and US militaries". Pompeo said he had raised US "concern" with Wang about Beijing's activities in the South China Sea, and that he would leave decisions about international military exercises to the defence department. ^ top ^

US may place compliance officers in ZTE's offices, Wilbur Ross says after punishment bill passes the House (SCMP)
2018-05-25
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the White House was considering options other than placing crippling penalties on Chinese telecom manufacturer ZTE Corp. on Thursday, hours after the House of Representatives passed a bill to punish the company in the new annual defence policy bill. The US is considering a plan to require compliance officers to be installed at ZTE, Ross told CNBC. "If we do decide to go forward with an alternative, what it literally would involve would be implanting people of our choosing into the company to constitute a compliance unit," he said. These officers would "report back to the Department of Commerce", he said. "The whole key is enforcement." Earlier on Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a bill banning US government agencies from using technology made by ZTE and would prohibit the Department of Defence from renewing contracts with vendors that work with ZTE. The bill, "The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019", passed on a 351-66 vote. It states that national security concerns have accompanied the dramatic growth of China's telecom sector, "particularly those 'national champions' prominent in China's 'going out' strategy of overseas expansion". The measures also would apply to another Chinese company, Huawei, and must be passed by the Senate and signed by US President Donald Trump before they come into effect. The bill marks the latest resistance from Congress against Trump's softening stance on ZTE. The Banking Committee approved an amendment in a bill on Tuesday that would prevent Trump from easing any punitive measures without first certifying to Congress that ZTE was complying with US law. Separately, 27 senators – including Republicans John Cornyn of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, and Democrats Chuck Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California – signed a letter to say that China's policies and practices are "designed to strengthen its own national security innovation base, and essential tools of efforts to spread China's influence in other countries". ZTE came in the spotlight in April on the backdrop of trade disputes between the US and China. In April, the US prohibited American companies from selling their components to the company for seven years after ZTE breaches US sanctions and sold products to Iran and North Korea. The ban caused ZTE, one of the largest telecom equipment makers in the world, to shut all of its major operations. The Shenzhen, China-based company depends on US components such as silicon chips from Qualcomm to build its products. But in a surprise tweet on May 13, Trump said he had asked the Commerce Department to help ZTE back into business. Since then, congressional objections on rolling back on penalties have been escalating. Trump has said he "envisions" a revised penalty for the company, including a requirement that it appoint a new board of directors and pay a "very large fine" of perhaps US$1.3 billion. The defence policy bill passed Thursday is HR 5515. ^ top ^

Xi meets Merkel, calls for higher-level China-Germany ties (Xinhua)
2018-05-25
President Xi Jinping Thursday told visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel that China will work with Germany to push bilateral ties to a higher level. Xi welcomed Merkel on her 11th visit to China, hailing the great importance she has attached to bilateral ties. Since the two countries launched an all-dimensional strategic partnership in 2014, bilateral ties have improved significantly with the cooperation width and depth reaching an unprecedented level, said Xi. He said China and Germany must set an example of win-win cooperation, take the lead in promoting China-Europe ties, advocate the new type of international relations and override the ideological differences for cooperation. "This should be the direction that bilateral ties will move to in the next stage," said Xi. He called on both sides to maintain high-level exchange, enhance top-down planning on bilateral ties, encourage bilateral cooperation in various areas and give full play to dialogue mechanisms. "We welcome Germany to grasp opportunities arising from China's new round of reform and opening up," said Xi. He said the two countries should expand industrial and market cooperation, driven by innovation, and jointly explore the third-party markets. The two countries need to enhance cultural and people-to-people exchanges to consolidate the basis of friendship, and jointly deal with global challenges, said Xi. "We would like to promote global governance and multilateralism together with Germany within the multilateral frameworks," said Xi. China appreciates Germany's support for the Belt and Road Initiative, and welcomes German enterprises' active participation, he said. For her part, Merkel said she was glad to visit China soon after her re-election as German Chancellor in March. Echoing Xi's comments on Germany-China ties, Merkel said China is an important member of the international community and an important trade partner of Germany. As Germany-China ties have entered into a new era, Germany is ready to take the new opportunities of China's reform and opening up to expand cooperation on trade and investment as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges, she said. On European integration, Xi said China has always firmly supported Europe in choosing a path of integration. He added that China hopes the European Union will maintain unity, stability, openness and prosperity. China is willing to work with the European side to advocate multilateralism and send more messages that are clear, predictable and confidence-boosting, for the development of international situation that is stable and conducive to all, Xi said. Merkel said because the international situation has undergone great changes, Germany and China must enhance communication and coordination on international affairs, intensify cooperation within multilateral frameworks such as the G20. Germany backs Europe-China cooperation, she said. The two sides also exchanged views on international trade, the Iran nuclear issue and other issues of common concern. Merkel is paying an official visit to China on Thursday and Friday at the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Also on Thursday, Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, met with Merkel, calling for more cooperation between the two countries' legislatures. ^ top ^

Putin meets Chinese vice president on ties (Xinhua)
2018-05-25
Russian President Vladimir Putin met here Thursday with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, and they agreed to further boost bilateral cooperation for the benefit of both countries and the whole world. In their meeting, Wang conveyed to Putin Chinese President Xi Jinping's sincere greetings and best wishes, saying that Xi attaches great importance to China-Russia ties and cherishes his friendship with Putin. The Chinese president, added Wang, looks forward to meeting Putin again to jointly chart the future course of bilateral relations as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is scheduled to hold this year's summit in June in China. The heads of state of the two countries have made painstaking efforts for and injected robust energy into bilateral cooperation, continuously steering the China-Russia relationship forward, said Wang. He pointed out that the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is of great significance not only to the two countries themselves but to the world at large. The two neighbors, he said, respect each other, trust each other, cooperate on the basis of equality, and enjoy mutual understanding and support on major international affairs. In so doing, they have set a model of major-country relations in the current world and made great contribution to safeguarding global strategic stability and building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind, added Wang. The Chinese vice president stressed that it is a choice both of history and of the people that China and Russia steadfastly pursue development paths that suit their respective national realities. Now the Chinese people, under Xi's leadership, is vigorously pushing forward the building of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, said Wang, adding that China's development is making rapid and remarkable progress. Meanwhile, the Chinese side firmly believes that under Putin's leadership, Russia will grow stronger and more prosperous, said the vice president. China, he added, resolutely supports Russia's development, and stands ready to carry out strategic and long-term cooperation with Russia, lift the level and quality of bilateral practical cooperation more swiftly, and achieve deeper integration of interest, so as to bring more benefits to the two nations. Putin, for his part, asked Wang to convey his sincere greetings and best wishes to the Chinese president, saying he is confident that Xi will lead the Chinese people to new achievements in China's development. The Russian leader added that he is looking forward to visiting China and meeting Xi again. Russia-China ties have kept developing at a high level, he said, noting that political mutual trust is deepening, bilateral practical cooperation is strengthening, the structure of economic and trade relations is witnessing sizable improvement, cooperation on large projects are speeding up, and exchanges and cooperation in people-to-people areas and at local levels are gathering steam. Meanwhile, it serves as an important stabilizer in the world that the two countries maintain close communication and coordination as well as mutual support on major regional and global issues, said Putin. The Russian side, he added, is willing to work with China to further deepen all-around cooperation, cement mutual understanding and support on international affairs, and keep lifting the two countries' comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination to higher levels. Wang is here for the 22nd St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The ongoing overseas trip, his first as vice president, will also take him to Belarus for a visit. ^ top ^

Chinese delegation to Vienna for Iran nuclear deal talks (Global Times)
2018-05-21
A Chinese delegation will attend a meeting to revive the Iran nuclear deal to be held Friday in Vienna, Austria, a China foreign ministry spokesman said Monday. China will keep its dedication to maintaining and practicing the Iranian comprehensive nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Lu Kang said at a daily briefing. As the coordinator of the deal, the EU is arranging for Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany and the UK to hold a meeting to discuss next steps, Lu said. Wang Qun, director-general of the foreign ministry's department of arms control, will lead the Chinese delegation. "We want to solve all the problems that are impeding normal trade in oil," Miguel Arias Canete, European Commissioner for energy and climate was quoted by Reuters as saying on Saturday. "We have to preserve this agreement so we don't have to negotiate a new one." Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Sunday that the "EU should take further practical steps to continue economic cooperation with Iran and boost investments in the country," the Xinhua News Agency reported. Hopes were high in the EU to retain the achievements of the deal, he said. Iran, the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany reached the historic accord in July 2015, Xinhua said, according to which Iran would restrain its nuclear plans and enjoy the rights of peacefully using nuclear power. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China gears up for employment of 8.2 million college graduates (Xinhua)
2018-05-24
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Thursday instructed a national government meeting to work for stable employment of college graduates this summer. It will be a tough task to help the record 8.2 million graduates find jobs and start careers, said Li in a written instruction to the meeting. The premier told governments of all levels to well implement proactive employment policies, improve their services for graduates and explore all possibilities. The government will nurture a more favorable environment for business, particularly new industries and services, which will recruit educated professionals and enable graduates to release their creativity and realize their potential, Li said. Measures will be adopted to boost high-end manufacturing and service sector, as well as upgrade traditional industries, according to a statement issued after the meeting, attended by Vice Premiers Sun Chunlan and Hu Chunhua. Preferential policies for small businesses and startups will be well implemented, while regulators will crack down upon malpractice in human resource services. The government encourages young people to take up jobs in the field and welcomes them to join the armed forces, the statement said. Graduates will receive better training and coaching so that they will have reasonable expectations and planning for their careers, it said. ^ top ^

Transparency will convince foreign investors of China's genuine opening-up (Global Times)
2018-05-24
Pro-foreign investment efforts in progress to offer foreign businesses wider and more transparent access to China's market will effectively address foreign investors' concern over roadblocks in one of their most coveted markets. In a fresh sign of progress, Tang Wenhong, director of the Department of Foreign Investment Administration of the Ministry of Commerce, told reporters on Thursday that the government is moving to revise two negative lists for foreign investment, one of which is effective nationwide while the other is effective only in pilot free trade zones. The outcome will be announced soon, according to Tang. Negative list revision efforts are a pivotal component of the country's overall push for reform and opening-up. The negative list approach provides both more leeway as well as clarity for foreign businesses seeking to engage in the Chinese economy. Except for any sectors on the list, all are accessible to foreign investment. This matters a lot to foreign businesses that are constantly complaining about China's foreign investment climate. With the country pledging to open its market wider to the world, foreign investors have high hopes for opportunities in the world's second-largest economy. Nonetheless, many of them still have no clear idea about which investment areas are off-limits for foreigners, and they consider this as one of several hidden barriers in the market. The seeds of skepticism have thus been sown over whether they are being treated fairly in China's hugely promising but opaque market. Four out of five respondents reckon that opportunities outweigh risks for German companies in the Chinese market, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Wednesday, citing a survey of 511 top executives from the worlds of business, politics and administration in Europe. Two-thirds, however, consider it unrealistic that China's market will become as open as Germany's anytime soon. This shows the discrepancy between China's actual opening-up efforts and the perceived progress the country is making. In addition to allowing for wider market access, China needs to attract foreign businesses into the market in a more transparent manner. The revision of the two negative lists is one of many recommended moves to ease investor doubts, and it is to be hoped that more efforts are in the pipeline that will translate China's opening-up into broad recognition of a market-oriented economy.  ^ top ^

China's first indigenous nuclear power plant 'nerve-center' starts functioning (Global Times)
2018-05-23
FirmSys, China's first indigenously-developed Integrated Digital I&C System (DCS) solutions for nuclear power plants, started functioning at Yangjiang Nuclear Power Co of China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) on Tuesday, allowing China to end its reliance on other countries' in this area. The application of the nuclear-grade DCS product with proprietary intellectual property rights was significant in the field of equipment manufacturing for China's nuclear power apparatus. DCS works as a nuclear power station's "nerve center," playing an important role in safe and stable operations. For a long time, only some advanced countries had core technologies of the nuclear-grade DCS which safely shuts down a nuclear reactor and handles accidents. China has always relied on imports for purpose. In 2003, the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in the US state of Ohio was infected with the Slammer worm, which led to a five-hour loss of safety monitoring at the plant. In 2010, Iran's first nuclear power plant, Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, was attacked by the powerful Stuxnet virus, which led to a shutdown of the nuclear program. According to China Economic Weekly, network attacks against nuclear power plants have occurred frequently in the world. The covert attacks against atomic power plants pose a bigger security threat than missiles. International nuclear security experts pointed out that none of the previous major nuclear accidents in the world involved failure of the control system. However, if something went wrong with the control system, national security could be threatened. ^ top ^

China's new space tech test a success (Global Times)
2018-05-23
China has successfully experimented with its space program's inflatable reentry and descent technology (IRDT), a technology that can allow China to land heavier spacecraft on celestial bodies with thin atmosphere, including the moon and Mars, specialists said. The experiment, the first of its kind in China, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) recently conducted on IRDT successfully validated working principles, working process and multiple key technologies, Science and Technology Daily reported on Wednesday. The tested space vehicle was shaped like a flying saucer and covered in thick air bags - key components to the IRDT system. IRDT is a new integrated inflatable heat insulating deceleration system that can land spacecraft without heat shields and parachutes, the Beijing-based newspaper said. Landing systems using technology like this can handle more weight than with deceleration systems of earlier generations. It will provide a more effective landing approach that would allow heavier spacecraft to land, Pang Zhihao, a Beijing-based rocket and aerospace expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday. Current landing methods such as parachute landing and thrust reversal make it difficult for spacecraft to land on celestial bodies with thin atmosphere such as the moon and Mars. That is where IRDT excels at, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday. He added that IRDT provides buffer and protection to spacecraft while landing while inflating air bags which cover the spacecraft. The US conducted experiments in 2014 and 2015 on low density supersonic decelerators, a technology similar to China's IRDT, to land manned spacecraft and large robots on Mars. Although their attempts continue to face technical issues, the technology proved to be valuable, Pang said. The IRDT will be used in deep space exploration and the quick return of space stations, scientific experiment satellites and space freight, Science and Technology Daily reported. "It requires spacecraft to use different kinds of landing methods on different celestial bodies… China must consider new methods (like IRDT) to learn all technical approaches," Song noted, believing China will master the technology despite the challenges. "China is looking to land on the moon and Mars. The new technology will be of great help." China plans to launch its first spacecraft using this technology in 2019, the newspaper reported. ^ top ^

China, Southeast Asian nations sign action document to eliminate malaria during World Health Assembly (Global Times)
2018-05-23
Health officials from China, Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao, Thailand and Vietnam along with World Health Organization representatives on Tuesday signed the Ministerial Call for Action to Eliminate Malaria in the Greater Mekong Subregion before 2030. The event was co-sponsored by China, Myanmar and Sri Lanka and the signing was led by Dr. Myint Htwe, Myanmar's Union Minister for Health and Sports at a side-event during the World Health Assembly which began on Monday. The event was attended by Cui Li, vice minister of China's National Health Commission, who made a speech before the signing explaining how China is eliminating malaria. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke at the event in support of the fight against malaria which he said afflicts 200 million people worldwide every year. The document was originally drawn up in Nay Pyi Taw on December 8, 2017, affirming a "One Region, One Strategy" as its guiding principle for malaria elimination. It commits the national governments to adequate domestic budgetary allocations for malaria elimination efforts from 2015-2030. The call for action seeks to explore innovative financing mechanisms that tap diverse resources, that may include the business sector (corporate social responsibility), taxation of tobacco and alcohol and special levies on tourism, for example. The document pledges its signatories to work together with relevant entities as a sub-region to develop and implement cross-border elimination strategies and action plans that concretely address the malaria-related needs. These include challenges for the populations at risk of malaria living in border areas and cross-border mobile and migrant populations. ^ top ^

Chinese FM says deployment of defensive facilities on South China Sea islands legitimate (Global Times)
2018-05-24
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday that China's deployment of defensive facilities on its islands in the South China Sea is legitimate and necessary. Wang, who made a stopover in Washington D.C. on his way back home from Argentina, made the remarks at a press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after their meeting. China's constructions on its territorial islands in the South China Sea mainly focus on civilian facilities and some necessary defense facilities, Wang said. China's moves are within the framework of international laws that give the right to self-defense and preservation to every sovereign state, Wang said. China's deployment has nothing to do with militarization, just like the US military presence in Hawaii and Guam, Wang added. The scale of China's deployment is much smaller than that of the United States, Wang said, adding that there is no need to make exaggeration on this matter. ^ top ^

Consumer confidence reaches 10-year peak (China Daily)
2018-05-25
Consumer confidence index in the first quarter reached its highest level in the past 10 years, buoyed by an improved macroeconomic outlook and better employment prospects, Nielsen's latest survey showed on Thursday. Nielsen's index, which measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finance and immediate spending intentions, climbed one point quarter-on-quarter to 115 points in the first three months of this year. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 respectively indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism. "As China's economy maintains steady growth, innovation and emerging industries are creating opportunities and improving overall employment expectations," said Tina Ding, vice-president of Nielsen China. "At the same time, domestic demand becomes the main driver for economic development and continues to be a catalyst of Chinese consumers' willingness to spend." China's GDP growth remained stable in the first quarter, up 6.8 percent year-on-year and 1.4 percent month-on-month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed. The steady expansion shows that as the three main drivers of economic growth—consumption, investment and exports-remained strong, China's economy developed in a steady manner with new growth points, according to Wan Zhe, chief economist at the International Cooperation Center, which is affiliated to the National Development and Reform Commission. The consumer confidence index's increase in the first quarter was a result of the combination of employment prospects, personal finance, and the willingness to spend. Specifically, employment prospects surged to 77 in the first quarter, three points higher than the last quarter. The growth of job prospects in rural areas was the most obvious, jumping from 78 points in the previous quarter to 83 points in the first quarter of this year. At the same time, the rise in employment prospects also contributed to the improvement of local buyers' demand and consumption upgrading. "China's urbanization has been further advancing along with the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. It began in coastal areas and eastern city clusters, and then extended to China's midwest regions, leading to the rapid development of a host of lower-tier cities," said Ding from Nielsen China. "This development has brought new business and industry growth that are creating employment opportunities in local markets," she added. ^ top ^

New policies to improve government efficiency, benefit public and business (Xinhua)
2018-05-24
Chinese authorities Wednesday published a guideline to cut red tape and improve government efficiency so that the public and businesses can have easier access to public service. A set of measures will streamline those public services that directly affect the daily lives of ordinary people and normal business practices, according to the guideline issued by the General Offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council. The work is aimed at minimizing the visits ordinary citizens and business people have to make to government departments, the document said. New practices, such as 24-hour online government, one-stop applications and minimal procedure, have already made a difference, said a press release from the State Commission Office of Public Sectors Reform. Those practices have significantly lowered institutional transaction costs and improved the administrative and business environments. However, the current improvement still has not reached the level of comprehensively deepening reform, nor met the expectations of the public. According to the new guideline, public services should be online. If law and conditions allow, up to 80 percent of administrative approvals and other services could be processed on line. Public services should be available in neighborhoods and communities so citizens do not have to travel far. Procedures should be simplified so that most matters can be handled in one visit. A national information platform will be established to integrate the databases of departments and regions. National and provincial governments will share their databases with public services at lower levels, including databases for identity checks, taxation, real estate registration and social security. Databases and office systems within provincial divisions will be integrated into one network and share information. ^ top ^

Xi stresses auditing's role in Party and state supervisory system (China Daily)
2018-05-23
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Wednesday stressed the CPC's leadership over auditing work and the vital role of auditing in Party and state supervisory system. Efforts should be made to establish a centralized, unified, comprehensive, authoritative, and efficient auditing supervisory system, so that auditing can play a better role in Party and state supervisory system, he said. President Xi, also chairman of the Central Military Commission and head of the central auditing committee, made the remarks when presiding over the first meeting of the committee. He said the reform of auditing management system and the formation of the central auditing committee are both important measures to strengthen the CPC's leadership in auditing. He stressed coordinated efforts in national auditing work and called for improved allocation of auditing resources. Also attending the meeting were Premier Li Keqiang and Secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Zhao Leji, who are both members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and vice directors of the central auditing committee. The central auditing committee should strengthen its top-level design as well as planning and coordination, Xi said. Efforts should be made to expand the scope and depth of auditing, and eliminate blind spots in supervision, Xi said. Auditing institutions should step up efforts in tracking the implementation of key policies of the CPC Central Committee, revealing all sorts of risks in the country's economic and social work, and auditing key projects and funds associated with people's livelihood, he said. Party and government officials at all levels should support and cooperate with auditing work, voluntarily accept auditing supervision in accordance with the law, earnestly rectify problems found out by the audits, and carefully study and then accept suggestions raised by auditors, he said. The meeting approved documents including work rules of the central auditing committee and audit reports on the implementation of the 2017 central budget and other fiscal expenditures. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet celebrates Saga Dawa Festival, stresses social order (Global Times)
2018-05-24
Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region is celebrating the traditional Saga Dawa Festival, with authorities providing convenience to locals and calling for more efforts to maintain order. Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, is helping more people who turn prayer wheels, which is one of the most popular traditions during the Saga Dawa Festival. "We have set up convenience service centers… As people pass by, we give water to drink in paper cups," an official in charge of publicity at the Jibenggang sub-district office of Lhasa said on Thursday. Jibenggang is where a traditional route for prayer wheel turning runs through, and that is why providing convenience is important during the festival, said the office, adding that these measures will be in place for the entire festival from May 15 to June 15. Doctors will provide free medical services to senior citizens. The local government also gives away flyers on festive events and provides fire safety advice. Tibet is also doing its best to maintain order during the Saga Dawa Festival, according to a notice published by Lhasa's audit bureau on the Lhasa's People's Government website. The government calls for enhanced supervision of order and public security during the festival by assigning officials 24 hours a day and prohibiting Party members from taking part in the Saga Dawa religious activities, according to the notice. "The security measures have improved, especially in important and crowded places during the festival such as the Potala Palace," Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Tibet University, told the Global Times. The Saga Dawa Festival, an annual festival held from April 1 to 30 in the Tibetan calendar, celebrates Sakyamuni's birth, enlightenment and Nirvana, which Tibetans consider important. Apart from turning prayer wheels, it is traditionally important for the rich to share their wealth with the poor and make blessings. This is why the Saga Dawa Festival is also called the "poor people's festival," as poor people accept alms on the turning prayer wheel route, Xiong added. ^ top ^

Senior CPC official stresses ethnic, religious work in Tibetan areas (Xinhua)
2018-05-23
Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) leader Wang Yang has called for better work regarding ethnic and religious affairs as well as poverty relief in the country's Tibetan areas. Wang, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks during an inspection and research tour to Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwest China's Gansu Province. The three-day tour ended on Wednesday. The CPC's policy regarding governance of Tibetan areas should be carefully implemented, Wang said, noting that related authorities and officials must fully understand the significance and importance of the work regarding Tibetan areas. He called for greater efforts to promote ethnic unity and religious harmony, fight separatist elements and activities, guarantee and improve people's lives and eliminate extreme poverty to ensure the economic and social development and enduring peace and stability in Tibetan areas. The focus of work regarding Tibetan areas is to maintain national solidarity and strengthen ethnic unity, Wang said, requiring greater efforts to create social conditions for people of all ethnic groups to live, study, work, and enjoy their lives together. He also urged the upholding of the principle that religions in China must be Chinese in orientation, stressing that the CPC's leadership over religious work should be strengthened. Also, noting that many Tibetan areas are located in remote and harsh areas, Wang said the poverty relief work in these places will be "very arduous" and required better organization and leadership and greater efforts by related authorities and officials to practice their duties and implement policies. He also stressed environmental protection in these areas. ^ top ^

China jails Tibetan-language advocate Tashi Wangchuk for 5 years for "inciting separatism" (HKFP)
2018-05-22
A Tibetan who has campaigned to preserve his region's ancestral language was jailed for five years in China on Tuesday for "inciting separatism" in a case Amnesty International denounced as "beyond absurd". Tashi Wangchuk was featured in a New York Times documentary that followed him on a trip to Beijing, where he attempted to get Chinese state media and courts to address what he describes as the diminishing use of the Tibetan language. A court in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the northwestern province of Qinghai sentenced him on Tuesday morning, according to his lawyer. The court could not be reached for comment. Tashi had been detained in his home town of Yushu without access to his family since January 2016, not long after the New York Times published its story and documentary video about his activism. "Tashi plans to appeal. I believe he committed no crime and we do not accept the verdict," lawyer Liang Xiaojun told AFP. Tashi had pleaded not guilty at his trial in January. But nearly every case that goes to trial in China — especially on sensitive state security issues — ends with a guilty verdict. Liang told AFP the short documentary was the main evidence used by the prosecution. In the video, Tashi complained of a "systematic slaughter of our culture". In the New York Times stories Tashi notably said he wants to use Chinese law to build his case and praised President Xi Jinping. Beijing says it "peacefully liberated" Tibet in 1951 and insists it has brought development to a previously backward region. But many Tibetans accuse it of exploiting the region's natural resources and encouraging an influx of the majority Han ethnic group which critics say is diluting the native culture and Buddhist faith. China's constitution protects free speech but critics say in reality there is little room for any opinions that challenge government policies. Rights groups have accused Xi's government of an escalating crackdown on expression. Amnesty International said the sentence was "a gross injustice". "He is being cruelly punished for peacefully drawing attention to the systematic erosion of Tibetan culture. To brand peaceful activism for Tibetan language as 'inciting separatism' is beyond absurd," said Joshua Rosenzweig, its East Asia research director. "The documentary underscores that Tashi Wangchuk was merely trying to express his opinions about education policy through entirely legitimate means," Rosenzweig said in a statement. The video ends with Tashi discussing the many Tibetans who have self-immolated in protest at China's policies over the years, while adding what he would do if he is "locked up or they force me to say things against my will". "I will choose suicide," he said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

No separate sections on Hong Kong for new history curriculum, education authority says (SCMP)
2018-05-25
A new curriculum framework for teaching Chinese history at Hong Kong secondary schools was announced on Thursday – with no separate sections on the city's past. As reported on previous consultation drafts of the framework, there would also be no mention of contentious issues such as the June 4 protests or the 1967 riots. The Education Bureau said the revised curriculum guidelines for Chinese history at junior secondary levels would be implemented progressively in Form One, starting from September 2020 at the earliest. Josephine Lee Shuk-yin, senior curriculum development officer for personal, social and humanities education at the bureau, said one change from previous drafts was subsuming elements of Hong Kong's development and cultural characteristics into nine topics of broader historical periods. In previous drafts, Hong Kong's history had its own designated subsections to help students understand the city's connection with the country. But Professor Leung Yuen-sang, chairman of the committee for revising the junior secondary Chinese history curriculum, said the time dedicated to teaching students about Hong Kong's development remained the same as before – 10 per cent of the total lesson time across three years. Leung added the change was motivated by opinions from teachers gathered during four years of review, including two consultation sessions. "We did not consider whether this would make people feel Hong Kong history is more important or less so," he said. "In any case, Hong Kong history should not be the most important part as it is a Chinese history curriculum." Leung, who is the dean of arts and a professor of history at Chinese University, said the new curriculum was already "Hongkongers' Chinese history" as it contained more Hong Kong elements than Chinese history taught in other parts of the world. Lee Wai-hung, chairman of the Association of Chinese History Teachers, welcomed the move saying that it would help students understand Hong Kong's national connections clearer. Controversial topics such as the June 4 protests held since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 were not included in the guide, despite dominating headlines during the last two consultations. Leung explained the June 4 protests were an important part of the reform movement that had started in the 1970s and led to the surge in China's economic strength, while stirring up social unrest. He said teachers could make use of the reform movement to discuss both the positive and negative effects of the reform movement, but he did not think there was a need to specifically include the protests in the guidelines. Chen Yan-kai, a Chinese history teacher and deputy director of the Professional Teachers' Union's academic department, questioned why the guidelines focused on the period from 1950 to 1953, when addressing the early years of the People's Republic of China. He said this could result in teachers opting to leave out important events such as the Anti-Rightist Campaign, which started in 1957, if they did not have enough time to complete the curriculum. The campaign was to purge alleged "rightists" within the Communist Party of China and abroad, which saw the political persecution of an estimated 550,000 people. Chen said the topic was covered in the current curriculum. Chinese history has in recent years become a subject of controversy with Beijing supporters advocating more emphasis to address the issue of radical separatist thoughts among youngsters. But pan-democrats fear it could be used as a way to promote a biased view of history. From the next school year, all Hong Kong secondary schools will be required to teach Chinese history as an independent compulsory subject at the junior levels. Responding to a recent incident of an Education Bureau review group ruling that a textbook's description of China as "taking back" Hong Kong in 1997 was problematic, deputy secretary for education Hong Chan Tsui-wah also mentioned there was no list of banned words for publishers. ^ top ^

HK vows to further sharpen edges after being ranked as world's 2nd most competitive economy (Global Times)
2018-05-24
The government of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) vowed on Thursday to consolidate Hong Kong's competitive edges after an annual global competitiveness ranking listed it as the world's second most competitive economy. In the International Institute for Management Development's (IMD) World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) 2018, Hong Kong maintained the top rank in "government efficiency" and "business efficiency," both for the fourth consecutive year. Its "economic performance" climbed up from 11th to ninth on the back of above-trend economic growth, while its ranking in "infrastructure" fell from 20th to 23rd. "The HKSAR government is committed to enhancing the competitiveness and vibrancy of our economy. The WCY again recognized that Hong Kong is one of the most competitive economies in the world," a HKSAR government spokesperson said. The spokesperson added that "amid the fierce competition from other economies, it is of utmost importance for us to consolidate Hong Kong's competitive edges, including the fine tradition of the rule of law, an open and free market, an efficient public sector, and a robust institutional framework." The HKSAR government is also dedicated to taking up a more proactive role as a "promoter" and "facilitator," and will "promote diversified economic growth and enhance human capital from a forward-looking and strategic perspective, with a view to broadening the economic base," the spokesperson said. Stressing developing innovation and technology as a "new engine of economic growth," the spokesperson said that the HKSAR government has allocated substantial resources in recent years to upgrade technological infrastructure, build a vibrant ecosystem for startups, and pool and nurture more technology talent in Hong Kong. "Following the shift in global economic gravity from West to East, China and Asia will continue to be the key driver of the global economy. Hong Kong can play a unique role in the National 13th Five-Year Plan, the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development. These major initiatives will provide new and continuous impetus for Hong Kong's economy." ^ top ^

June 4 motion in Hong Kong's Legco to remember Tiananmen crackdown defeated by pro-Beijing lawmakers (SCMP)
2018-05-24
Pro-democracy lawmakers on Wednesday urged an "end to one-party dictatorship" while acknowledging that these calls would displease Beijing as they proposed a motion at the Legislative Council to remember the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. But their move was defeated by the pro-Beijing camp, as 27 lawmakers said no and six abstained from casting their ballot out of the 57 who took part in the vote. Only 26 members of the 68-member council are pro-democracy. It marked the 18th year the motion had been tabled and not passed, with the three-hour debate featuring impassioned speeches by the pro-democracy camp. Their rivals remained largely silent. The non-binding motion sought to express disapproval at the central government's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the centre of Beijing on June 4, 1989, in which many activists died. Though the death toll may never be known, hundreds, maybe more than 1,000, died. The Civic Party's Tanya Chan, who raised the motion, referred to how Tam Yiu-chung, the city's sole deputy to the nation's top legislative body, and Wang Guangya, Beijing's former top official in charge of the city's affairs, said in recent months that Hongkongers who chant slogans in favour of ending "one-party rule" in China are breaking the law and should not be allowed to run for political office. "There are more and more 'red lines' drawn by Beijing … which is trying to undermine our rule of law," Chan said. She said the central government wanted to turn the city into a place where rules are set by its officials. Pro-democracy activists in the city have traditionally used the run-up to June 4 to lobby support for their cause and hold peaceful memorial ceremonies. On the day itself, there is a mass vigil at Victoria Park. At Legco on Wednesday, pro-democracy lawmakers pushing for the motion included Lam Cheuk-ying, Leung Yiu-chung, Au Nok-hin and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen. Au said: "Facing increasing political suppression, Hong Kong citizens would never forget the wounds of the June 4 massacre." Members of the two largest pro-Beijing parties, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Federation of Trade Unions, remained silent and voted against the motion. But a few pro-Beijing lawmakers abstained from voting and spoke up. They included Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, who broke ranks during last year's debate to back the motion, and Abraham Razack of Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong. Razack raised eyebrows by reading out Laurence Binyon's poem For the Fallen, an ode to those who died during the first world war. He said the poem was a dedication for the "Tiananmen Mothers", a group made up of family members of those who died in the crackdown. Ho praised the student protesters and described them as people who loved the country and wished for it to be better. "I believe that their spirits in heaven would be gratified when they see the development and achievements of the country today," he said. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

China appreciates Burkina Faso's decision to cut "diplomatic" ties with Taiwan (Xinhua)
2018-05-24
China appreciates Burkina Faso's decision to cut "diplomatic" ties with Taiwan, said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Beijing on Thursday. The government of Burkina Faso earlier announced its decision to sever its "diplomatic" relationship with Taiwan. Spokesperson Lu Kang said it is known to all that in October 1971, the 26th session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Resolution 2758, specifying that the government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government that represents China. The one-China principle acknowledged in the resolution has become the universal consensus of the international community, Lu said, adding that it concerns China's core interests and the feelings of the 1.3 billion Chinese people, and serves as the premise and political foundation for China to maintain and develop friendly and cooperative relations with foreign countries. Noting the sound development of China-Africa comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation, Lu said the Beijing summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to be held in September this year will bring a new upsurge of friendly cooperation between China and Africa. "In recent years, Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe have normalized their relations with China and returned to the big family of friendly cooperation between China and Africa, which fully indicates that the one-China principle corresponds with the will of the people and the irresistible trend of the times," Lu said. "We welcome Burkina Faso to join in China-Africa friendly cooperation as soon as possible on the basis of the one-China principle," said the spokesperson. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Are days of fake 'fapiao' numbered in China? Tencent teams up with taxman on blockchain receipts (SCMP)
2018-05-25
For unscrupulous businesses attempting to take advantage of tax loopholes in China, the sellers of fake receipts on the mainland usually know the way. One such seller, who calls herself Mrs Wang, claims she can provide a faked official invoice – the legal proof of payment called fapiao in Chinese – in 24 hours and guarantee that it will be verified by the country's tax system. She charges two per cent of the fake receipt's face value after it is verified. "Let me know your company name, the amount of money and the sales item. I can have it ready and mail it to you tomorrow," Wang said. The days of Mrs Wang's counterfeit receipt business could be numbered, as China employs blockchain technology in its fight against tax evasion. Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings has teamed up with the Shenzhen branch of the State Administration of Taxation in a blockchain-enabled digital invoice solution, designed to protect the authenticity of invoices by tracking the process of issuance and circulation. "We hope to make every fapiao checkable, verifiable, reliable and traceable, and use blockchain technology to manage the whole circulation process of fapiaos," Hong Kong-listed Tencent said in a statement on Thursday. Pony Ma Huateng, Tencent's chairman and chief executive, said in the statement that the solution represents the first application of blockchain technology in the handling of digital invoices in China. Tencent's latest initiative also marks the ramped up adoption of blockchain, the distributed ledger technology behind bitcoin, in China even as regulators continue the clampdown on cryptocurrency fundraising schemes in the country. In Shenzhen, the sprawling metropolis in the southeastern province of Guangdong and home base of Tencent, a local government-backed fund was recently established to focus on blockchain investments. The fund has an initial war chest of 500 million yuan (US$78.3 million). Blockchain enables the creation of an online database network where all participants create, share and store records of transactions in a secure and efficient manner, according to a white paper commissioned by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. The initial applications of this distributed ledger technology outside cryptocurrencies have included post-trade settlements, record checking and management, and cross-border fund transfers, the paper said. China helped raise the profile of blockchain when it became one of the first countries in the world to include the technology as part of a state-level policy. In 2016, Premier Li Keqiang announced that blockchain was written into the 13th Five-Year Plan, a road map for the country's development in the five years to 2020. The ability to trace official invoice information on the Tencent-developed blockchain solution can improve the government's surveillance procedure against counterfeit fapiao, according to the company. Tencent said that blockchain solution would be incorporated in the Mini Program platform of WeChat, the company's popular messaging-social-media-and-payments app with more than 1 billion users. It would also be included in the enterprise version of WeChat, according to Tencent's Ma. Last year, there were more than 18,000 cases related to the issuance of counterfeit invoices, which amounted to more than 300 billion yuan, filed to China's public security authorities, according to a report by state broadcaster China Central Television in March. Blockchain's ability to effectively record and track information has sparked interest in other fields. Walmart, the world's largest retailer, unveiled last year its use of blockchain technology to trace the genuine origins of its food products after holding a successful pilot project in the China. By digitalising and documenting details into a unified storage platform, the technology significantly reduces the time it takes to trace a product back to farm, which is expected to help achieve rapid and accurate product recalls, if needed, and significantly reduce exposure by contaminated products. The jewellery industry was also looking to blockchain to resolve a range of issues, helping customers ascertain the origin and authenticity of gemstones. Hong Kong jeweller Chow Tai Fook recently said it would use blockchain to help reduce trade in illicit diamonds by dispensing with paper certificates that can easily be tampered or forged. ^ top ^

Lenovo chief says US and China need each other, globalisation won't reverse course (SCMP)
2018-05-25
The head of Lenovo Group said that despite trade tensions between the US and China, the world's two biggest economies need each other as globalisation pushes forward. "No country can develop just relying on themselves," said Lenovo chairman and chief executive Yang Yuanqing in an interview in Hong Kong on Thursday. "China needs technology products from the US, while US companies need many things from China, not the least of which are the domestic market and manufacturing." "That's the globalisation trend, and it will not reverse course," Yang said. His comments followed recent talks between senior officials from Beijing and Washington that have helped eased frictions between the two sides and averted a trade war for now. It also reflected how Lenovo, the world's second-largest personal computer supplier, has conducted itself as a global enterprise, with operations in more than 160 countries, since it acquired the PC business of IBM in 2005. Lenovo has dual headquarters in Beijing and Raleigh, capital of the state of North Carolina in the US. "We originated from China, but we are now a global company," Yang said. Hong Kong-listed Lenovo has so far escaped the scrutiny and suspicion that hangs over telecommunications equipment manufacturers Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp. The two Shenzhen-based firms also have vast international operations, but both have been the target of US scrutiny for suspicion of being threats to national security. Such concerns have stymied efforts by Huawei and ZTE to sell network equipment to large US telecoms carriers. The US recently imposed a seven-year export ban on ZTE for violating sanctions on selling telecoms equipment to Iran and North Korea. That ban prevents US hi-tech suppliers from selling software and other components, especially semiconductors, to ZTE. Huawei was reported to be under investigation for violating US trade sanctions on Iran, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources. The strained relations prompted Huawei founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei to urge employees not to harbour any anti-US sentiments, according to a memo addressed to several departments, dated April 8 and seen by the South China Morning Post. Yang declined to comment on the security issues faced by Chinese hi-tech companies, saying "those topics are hot enough". Lenovo, which reported on Thursday a US$189 million net loss for its financial year ended March 31 due mainly to a one-time charge, will be among the first group of companies to launch a 5G smartphone in the US and other markets in 2019, according to Yang. He said Lenovo also plans "to embed 5G [connectivity] into other kinds of devices, including PCs and tablets". 5G, the latest advance in mobile communications technology, has become the biggest opportunity for China to emerge as a leader in telecoms development. We originated from China, but we are now a global company Yang Yuanqing, chairman and chief executive of Lenovo Beijing has forecast the country's total investments on 5G mobile networks to reach 2.8 trillion yuan (US$438 billion) from 2020 to 2030, which would mark the most expensive buildout of telecommunications infrastructure on the mainland. Lenovo, however, has recently been the subject of speculation that it failed to back Huawei in the setting of the universal standard for 5G. Although Lenovo initially voted for a technology led by US firm Qualcomm when a Huawei alternative was available, the vote in question was only for part of one specification. The company ultimately voted for Huawei's Polar Code, which won the group vote in a third and final meeting in November 2016, Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi said in a post on the company's WeChat channel last week. Yang said Lenovo was also sharpening its focus on artificial intelligence (AI), but different from the strategy of Chinese internet giants Baidu, Tencent Holdings and Alibaba Group Holding, the parent company of the South China Morning Post. In a separate interview on Thursday, Lenovo chief operating officer Gianfranco Lanci said the goal was to have AI capabilities in a range of products, including personal computers, smartphones and so-called Internet of Things devices. That would be followed by Lenovo entering the systems integration field, offering services and a new range of products to other manufacturers and large companies to automate their processes using AI. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

Is Kim Jong-un back in Beijing? High-ranking North Korean official reportedly visiting Chinese capital (SCMP)
2018-05-25
A high-ranking North Korean official appears to be visiting Beijing, a source with knowledge of the matter said Thursday, as the country has been bolstering ties with China. The purpose of the visit is unclear. The official was believed to be en route to Singapore for working-level talks with the United States reportedly later this week to prepare for the June 12 summit in the city-state between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump. But Trump late Thursday abruptly called off the summit, citing what he called North Korea's recent "open hostility". After arriving in Beijing by air, the official was picked up by a Chinese government vehicle, and he could be there to hold talks with Chinese officials, the source said. China-North Korea relations have drastically improved recently. Kim travelled to Beijing in March to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and earlier this month the two leaders met again for two days in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian. Kim, who wants the United States to ensure the survival of his regime in return for pledging denuclearisation, has been trying to obtain support from Xi, analysts say. Kim's visit to Beijing in March was his first foreign trip since becoming North Korea's supreme leader following the death of his father Kim Jong-il in December 2011. Since the trip, several high-ranking Chinese and North Korean officials, including their foreign ministers, have made reciprocal visits. However, North Korea has recently threatened to cancel the Kim-Trump summit, taking issue with ongoing joint military drills by South Korea and the United States, and accusing Washington of pushing for Pyongyang to unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons. In the run-up to the summit, Kim was apparently testing Trump, as some US officials had still urged North Korea to agree to a "Libya-style" denuclearisation process, in which Pyongyang first gives up all its nuclear weapons before receiving any benefits. ^ top ^

DPRK confirms demolition of nuclear test site (Xinhua)
2018-05-24
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has confirmed the demolition of its nuclear test site at Punggye-ri on Thursday, saying that all the tunnels have been collapsed by explosions and their entrances completely closed, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). The Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK issued a statement saying that a ceremony was held "for completely dismantling the northern nuclear test ground... to ensure transparency of the discontinuance of nuclear tests." "Dismantling the nuclear test ground was done in such a way as to make all the tunnels of the test ground collapse by explosion and completely close the tunnel entrances, and at the same time, explode some guard facilities and observation posts on the site," the statement said. The statement also said that it has been confirmed that there was neither leakage of radio-active materials nor any adverse impact on the surrounding ecological environment. Complete closure of the area surrounding the nuclear test ground will come after a successive removal of all ground observation facilities, research institutes and structures of guard units, and withdrawal of staff concerned, it said. The three tunnels of the test site were blown up by 16:00 local time (0700 GMT), according to Xinhua reporters on site. Pyongyang invited journalists from China, Russia, the United States, South Korea and Britain to witness the site's dismantlement. The DPRK conducted six nuclear tests at Punggye-ri between October 2006 and September 2017. The Third Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea decided last month that the country will discontinue its nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic rocket test-fire from April 21. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Foreign Minister meets US Congressman (Montsame)
2018-05-23
During his visit to the United States on May 18-22, Foreign Affairs Minister D.Tsogtbaatar met with Mongolia-US Congressional Caucus Co-chair and Congressman Don Young and exchanged views on Mongolia-US bilateral relations. The Minister appreciated the United States for its steadfast support to Mongolia's development of politics and socio-economy and underlined a necessity to make much effort to export Mongolian products to the US and augment its investment to Mongolia within a scope to expand bilateral economic and trade relations further. Mr Tsogtbaatar invited the Congressman to visit Mongolia at his convenience. Mr Don Young expressed his commitment to pay an attention on implementing issues forwarded by Mongolian Minister, convey the issues to relevant US organizations and officials and increase a number of members of Mongolia-US Congressional Caucus. The Minister also met with authorities of prominent research institutes such as the Asia Society and the Hudson University, gave information about Mongolia's foreign policy and exchanged views on further cooperation opportunities. ^ top ^

Health workers protest outside IMF office (Montsame)
2018-05-24
On May 23, health workers continued their sit-down strike outside the International Monetary Fund (IMF) representative office in Ulaanbaatar. They submitted some demands to the Government and the Ministry of Health on May 8. They demanded to increase monthly salary of health workers by more than 50 percent by the second quarter of this year, to give state support to the nurses, to improve social security, to increase number of workers so that human resource standards are ensured and to allocate the required expenditure in the 2019 budget, to raise wage incentive of health workers up to 60 percent and to give overtime payment to family health centers' doctors and staff for working during a flu outbreak. The protesters have reached agreement with the Ministry of Health on three issues. However, the Government could not come to an agreement with the IMF on raising salaries in 2018. That was the reason for striking outside the IMF office, they said. Prior, the Government and IMF agreed not to increase salaries of civil servants till the end of 2018. Therefore, they demand the Finance Minister and IMF to soften the terms of the agreement and respond it by May 28. "Only MNT 77 billion is needed to increase our salaries by 50 percent in the second quarter of 2018. We will lose workforce in the sector unless making investment to the employees. It is possible to solve the issue in short time if we try enough" said head of the Mongolian Health Workers' Trade Union B.Myagmar. ^ top ^

UB Mayor meets Bucheon city Mayor (Montsame)
2018-05-24
On May 24, S.Batbold, Governor of the Capital and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city, met with Kim Man-soo, Mayor of Bucheon city of Gyeonggi Province, S.Korea. During the meeting, the sides discussed about exchanging specialists in smart transportation system and planning public transportation service timetables, organizing series of training on public transportation planning, developing cooperation with Bucheon city on smart transportation system and studying experience of Bucheon city to improve operations at Ulaanbaatar Transportation Information Management Center. Moreover, they exchanged views on receiving support to formulate master plan of Ulaanbaatar's transport sector and establishing terminals in passenger transportation. Following the meeting, the parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in development and utilization of smart transportation system. ^ top ^

Agricultural delegation from Nepal visits (Montsame)
2018-05-24
On May 24, 2018 Secretary of Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry D.Enkhbat met with the Nepalese delegation led by Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperatives of Nepal Shyam Prasad Paudel. The purpose of the visit to Mongolia is to get acquainted with the activities of entrepreneurs and business entities running food and agricultural production and to study experience from Agriculture, Rural Area Development project that is being implemented by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry with funding from Asian Development Bank. During the meeting, the sides exchanged views on developing agricultural production, experience sharing in agriculture sector and development of value chain. ^ top ^

 

Yang Xinhui
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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