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
  4-8.12.17, No. 699  
    Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

Mongolia

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Switzerland

Xi congratulates conclusion of China-Switzerland Year of Tourism (Xinhua)
2017-12-08
Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to the closing ceremony of the China-Switzerland Year of Tourism held on Thursday in Lausanne, Switzerland. In his message, Xi said he made the decision to launch the China-Switzerland Year of Tourism together with his Swiss counterpart, Doris Leuthard. Taking this opportunity, China and Switzerland held exchange activities and expanded personnel exchanges during the year, which enhanced mutual understanding between the two peoples and promoted bilateral communication and cooperation in such areas as culture, economy and trade, injecting fresh impetus to the development of China-Switzerland relations, he said. The Chinese president stressed that people's involvement and support have been important foundation for the development of China-Switzerland relations. He called on both sides to strengthen people-to-people exchanges and enhance practical cooperation, so as to keep consolidating the public foundation for the development of bilateral ties. ^ top ^

Cabinet adds three countries to list of offshore territories (Montsame)
2017-12-07
During its regular meeting on December 6, the Cabinet resolved to modify the list of countries and territories designated as offshore zone. The list now includes Singapore, Hong Kong and Switzerland. The Law of Mongolia on Regulation and Prevention of Conflicts of Interest for Public Service prohibits government officials, who submit income statement, and their affiliates from opening bank accounts, placing and managing assets, owning movable or immovable property and establishing legal entities through contribution as a shareholder in countries and territories declared as offshore zone during their tenures. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China and Maldives sign FTA (China Daily)
2017-12-08
China and the Maldives signed 12 documents, including a free trade agreement, to boost cooperation in such areas as economy, health, infrastructure and finance on Thursday. The agreements and memorandums of understandings were signed as President Xi Jinping and visiting Maldives President Abdulla Yameen witnessed while at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. According to the documents, the two countries will enhance cooperation on jointly developing the Belt and Road Initiative. The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is similar to Maldives' strategy of achieving economic progress by making use of its geographic advantages, Xi told Yameen, while expressing appreciation for the Maldives' proactive participation in the Belt and Road Initiative. "China deems the Maldives as an important partner to building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road," Xi said. The two countries should seize the opportunities of signing the free trade agreement and the memorandum of understanding on jointly working on the Belt and Road Initiative, invigorate bilateral economic and trade cooperation, push forward cooperation on major projects and promote investment, finance and maritime cooperation, Xi said. China hopes that the Maldives will continue to support regional cooperation with South Asian countries to promote the region's prosperity, Xi said. Since establishing diplomatic relations 45 years ago, the two countries have treated each other equally, cooperated for win-win outcomes and supported each other on issues related to their core interests, Xi said. During the meeting, Xi expressed gratitude for Yameen's congratulatory letter on the success of the CPC's 19th National Congress and his re-election as general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. Noting his government attaches great importance to its relations with China, Yameen said the countries could enhance cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative. It is of great importance for China to set Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as an action guideline of the CPC Central Committee, he told Xi. "I am confident under the guidance of the CPC Central Committee with your excellency as the core, the Chinese people will move forward to achieve your centenary goals and build China into a great modern socialist country," he said. Premier Li Keqiang also met with Yameen in Beijing on Thursday. Noting that China has been the largest source of tourists to the Maldives over the past seven years, Li said the two countries have great potential to cooperate in tourism. China is willing to strengthen cooperation in areas of building infrastructure, civil aviation, trade and marine research, as well as in efforts to deal with climate change, Li said. ^ top ^

China, Russia seek closer military cooperation (Xinhua)
2017-12-07
Russian President Vladimir Putin met a top Chinese military official here Thursday on improving military cooperation between the two countries. Military cooperation plays an important role in Russia-China relations and the two countries should continue to strengthen their partnership in joint military drills, army games and personnel training, Putin said. He made the remarks at a meeting with Zhang Youxia, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and vice chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission. Putin said Russia prioritizes relations with China in its foreign policy and praised the high-level strategic coordination between the two countries. He said Russia and China should further improve communication and coordination to maintain regional and global peace and stability as they hold the same or similar positions in many issues. Zhang said the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is ascending to higher levels thanks to efforts made by the two presidents. Ties between the two militaries have been expanding and deepening with effective practical cooperation, said Zhang. He said that China is ready to work with Russia to implement the consensuses between the two presidents, support each other, and jointly safeguard security interests of both countries and help maintain world peace and stability. ^ top ^

China vows defense against new EU anti-dumping methodology (Global Times)
2017-12-07
China said Thursday it is concerned about the European Union's new anti-dumping methodology, calling on the bloc to avoid abusing trade remedies. The Council of the European Union earlier this week approved a new anti-dumping legal framework that removes the former distinction between "market and non-market economies" for calculating dumping. Instead, it requires proving the existence of a "significant market distortion" between a product's sale price and its production cost. The removal of the so-called "non-market economy list," which included China, was an effort by the EU to fulfill its international obligations as an important World Trade Organization (WTO) member, said Gao Feng, spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce. However, the notion of "significant market distortion" makes it possible for the EU to continue the surrogate country approach, Gao told a press conference. "We are worried over the possible abuse of this notion in the EU's future legal practice," he told reporters. This move lacks support from WTO rules and weakens the authority of the WTO anti-dumping legal system, he noted. The surrogate country approach allows WTO members to use costs of production in a third country to calculate the value of products from countries on the "non-market economy" list. In accordance with China's WTO accession protocol, this approach expired on December 11, 2016. Gao said China hopes the EU will strictly abide by WTO rules, fulfill its duty in a well-intentioned and comprehensive way, and avoid the abuse of trade remedies. ^ top ^

Why is China so worried about Trump recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital? (SCMP)
2017-12-07
China anticipates more conflict in the Middle East following the United States' move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which in turn would disrupt its investment plans in the region, diplomatic observers said. Beijing has extensive economic and military relations with Israel, but also maintains close ties with Palestine. China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday that President Donald Trump's plan would trigger an escalation in tensions. "The question over the status of Jerusalem is complicated and sensitive," Geng said. "All parties should be cautious in order to maintain peace. All parties should avoid shaking the long-term foundations of solving the Palestinian issues, and avoid creating new divisions in the region." China supported the Palestinians in building an independent and fully sovereign state, taking the 1967 borders as the basis and with East Jerusalem as its capital, Geng said. The US was expected to announce its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday, which would make it the first nation to do so since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. China and Israel established diplomatic relations only in 1992, but the two had begun military cooperation in 1979. The hi-tech arms and equipment bought from Israel have aided China's military development in recent decades, and Beijing is now interested in buying other advanced technologies, in sectors such as agriculture and clean energy, from the Middle Eastern nation. Trade between the two countries has accelerated rapidly since the start of the millennium, rising to US$11.4 billion in 2015 from just US$1.1 billion in 2000. China is now Israel's third-largest trading partner after the US and the European Union, and its second-largest export destination. As China attempts to expand its reach into the Middle East through its "Belt and Road Initiative" – a massive programme initiated by Beijing to build trade and infrastructure links across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, any turbulence between Israel and Palestine would be a cause for concern, Li Guofu, a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said. "It's not just that the Palestinians will protest, or even use violence," he said. "This [relocating the US embassy] would stir up anti-America sentiment in the Middle East and fuel Islamic extremism, which would have a negative impact on the global counterterrorism effort." As a holy city for Jews, Muslims and Christians, defining Jerusalem's status is one of the most contentious and sensitive issues in the Middle East. Israel, which controls the city, claims Jerusalem as its indivisible capital, while Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Leaders from around the world have expressed their opposition and concerns to the United States' expected move. Li said that European countries were unhappy with Washington's plan, which threatened to undermine the US' relations with Europe. "They believe this goes against Europe's interests, and will increase divergences within Nato," he said. For its part, China has long supported the Palestinians politically. It was among the first group of countries to recognise the state of Palestine in November 1988, and has on several occasions voted in its favour at the United Nations, including in 2012 when the state was granted non-member observer status. In July, when he met with visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, China's President Xi Jinping put forward a "four-point proposal" emphasising security for both Israel and Palestine and calling for more international coordination and development in the region. The unilateral move by the Trump administration – following a promise made to pro-Israel voters during the presidential election campaign – would not change China's position on the issue, or its relationships with Israel and Palestine, an observer said. "Now is a good time for Trump to do it," Xiao Xian, vice-president of Yunnan University and an expert on Middle East affairs, said. "Despite the strong words [from Arab leaders] actual opposition to the move is likely to be weak as major Arab countries are struggling with their own internal troubles," he said. ^ top ^

Constructive role in 16+1, SCO show China as responsible power (Xinhua)
2017-12-05
China's growing presence in the international arena to foster a community of shared future for mankind was further evidenced recently by two fruitful meetings of leaders of China, Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) and member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has just concluded a week-long visit to Budapest in Hungary and Sochi in Russia, where he reached important consensus and discussed concrete projects during meetings with his counterparts at the annual China-CEEC and SCO gatherings. Both of these cooperation mechanisms bear a strong Chinese imprint and have witnessed greater contributions over the years by China to promote win-win cooperation, a further testimony to China's readiness to foster a community of common destiny in the world. The 16+1 cooperation mechanism took root in the China-CEEC Economic and Trade Forum in Budapest in 2011, a precursor to the first China-CEEC Leaders' Meeting in Warsaw in 2012, which marked the founding of the mechanism. Over the past five years, the 16+1 cooperation has become an influential trans-regional mechanism with substantial projects and cooperation results in such fields as trade, investment, infrastructure, industrial partnerships and tourism. At this year's meeting, the Chinese premier announced the establishment of the China-CEEC Inter-Bank Association and the second phase of the China-CEEC Investment Cooperation Fund, a further boost to investment and finance cooperation between the two sides. As an "incubator for pragmatic trans-regional cooperation," the 16+1 cooperation helps promote balanced development in Europe by enhancing economic performance in its central and eastern region. According to Liu Zuokui, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China's participation filled the gap while the global financial crisis and the European sovereign debt crisis limited the European Union's (EU) ability to support the development of CEE countries. Meanwhile, the SCO has just had its first major gathering of heads of government after a membership expansion in June to include India and Pakistan. The SCO now has China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan as its full members. Concluded on Friday, the meeting approved a joint communique that stresses efforts to enhance cooperation and coordination to address economic as well as security challenges, and push the construction of a community of shared future in the region. All SCO members are major countries in China's neighborhood and along the Belt and Road routes. China will continue to develop its friendship and partnership with its neighbors, and work with fellow SCO members to build a community of shared future in the region, said the Chinese premier. The eight-member bloc, which covers nearly half of the world's population and three-fifths of the Eurasian continent, is the world's largest regional cooperation organization in terms of area and population with tremendous potential for development. It was founded in the Chinese city of Shanghai in 2001 by the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia and China, and has its secretariat in Beijing. The "Shanghai Spirit," the bedrock of the organization, features mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development. It stands in sharp contrast with the Cold War-era confrontational mentality that is still found in many Western mechanisms. As the Chinese economy grows bigger, higher expectations are placed on China to shoulder more international responsibilities to contribute to world peace and development. China's answer to such calls is firm and confident. China is unswervingly pursuing reform and opening-up domestically while presenting to the world the win-win cooperation framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, which features many flagship projects on infrastructure, finance and people-to-people exchanges. As Chinese President Xi Jinping put it, China welcomes all countries aboard the express train of its development. China is also ready to share with other countries its development experience, and play its part as a major country and take an active role in improving the global governance system. At the remarkable 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that wrapped up in late October, building "a community of shared future for mankind" was written into the CPC constitution, a symbol of its priority for China's leadership. Quite unlike what might have been feared, there are no strings attached to cooperation with China. Neither does China, the world's largest developing country, seek hegemony in global affairs. "No matter what stage of development it reaches, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion," Xi told the 19th CPC National Congress. From Southeast Asia to Africa, China's rapidly growing engagement overseas is committed to win-win cooperation based on equality and fairness. The peace-loving nation wants to create an international environment that is conducive to the development of itself and other nations, and set an example of a new type of international relations that highlights mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. ^ top ^

China dismisses Japanese mayor's proposed name change of Diaoyu Islands (Xinhua)
2017-12-04
China said Monday that the proposed name change of the Diaoyu Islands by a Japanese mayor would not change the fact that they belong to China. Ishigaki Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama plans to submit a proposal to the city assembly Monday to change the islands' name from "Tonoshiro, Ishigaki City" to "Tonoshiro Senkaku, Ishigaki City," according to Japanese media. "The Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets have always been an inherent part of Chinese territory, and China has unshakable will to protect its own sovereignty," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a regular news briefing. "Whatever tricks Japan plays, it will not change the fact that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China." He urged the Japanese side to "face up to history and reality, stop stirring up trouble on the issue and avoid harming the improvement of bilateral ties." ^ top ^

China willing to share, but not to export Chinese model (Global Times)
2017-12-04
A recent high-level political party conference in Beijing drew representatives of nearly 300 political parties and organizations from more than 120 countries, opening a window for the world to learn about the Communist Party of China (CPC). Behind the four-day CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting, which concluded Sunday, was the message that the CPC is willing to share its vision, path and experience, which have been key to the Chinese miracle. China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty and become the world's second largest economy. The success of the Chinese model has not only made it impossible for the West to overlook it, but has made China more confident in the path it has taken. However, it is a modest and sober confidence. Addressing the opening of the meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said the CPC would neither import foreign models of development nor export the Chinese model. "We will not ask other countries to copy Chinese practice," he said. Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute at National University of Singapore, said Xi has acknowledged there is a Chinese model -- the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The Chinese model offers an alternative, rather than a replacement, to the Western model, Zheng said. Xi has also put forward a way for developing countries to learn from China by finding their own paths based on their own conditions. The CPC itself has learned from the experience of many countries, while adapting these lessons to China's conditions and culture. Many of the meeting's participants also attributed China's success to its ability to translate vision into action. Apart from progress in domestic goals such as poverty reduction, strict Party governance and deepened reform over the past years, China has transformed the Belt and Road Initiative from concept into action, and has set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund to finance it. At the meeting, Xi listed some facts and figures that offered a glimpse at the CPC's sincere willingness to share. To date, China has dispatched more than 36,000 peacekeeping personnel, and the country has acted as a major peacekeeping force and contributor of funds for UN peacekeeping missions. Thousands of Chinese scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, technicians, medical workers, teachers and volunteers are working alongside locals in other developing countries to help change their destiny. In the next five years, the CPC hopes to invite 15,000 members of foreign political parties to China for exchanges. A country should not develop by simply following the models of other countries. China has blazed a new trail for other developing countries that want to modernize while preserving their independence. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Xi calls for respect to developing countries' will in human rights development (Xinhua)
2017-12-08
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on the international community to respect and reflect the will of the people in developing countries in human rights development. Xi made the remarks in a congratulatory message to the South-South Human Rights Forum, which opened in Beijing Thursday. "It is important for the international community to respect and reflect the will of the people in developing countries in the spirit of justice, fairness, openness and inclusiveness," the message said. He extended "warm congratulations" on the convening of the forum, which will discuss the promotion of human rights in developing countries and the world. "It is the lofty ideal of mankind that everyone enjoys human rights to the full," the message read. Since modern times, people in the developing world have fought long and hard for national liberation and independence, for freedom and equality, for dignity and happiness, and for peace and development, the message said. "By doing so, they have also contributed significantly to the progress of human rights in the world," it read. The message said that following a people-centered development philosophy, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government have all along placed people's interests above all else, and worked hard to meet people's desire for a better life and improve respect for and protection of the fundamental rights of the Chinese people. The development blueprint outlined at the 19th CPC National Congress will give a strong boost to human rights development in China and make new and even greater contribution to the progress of mankind, according to Xi's message. Noting the development of human rights worldwide cannot be achieved without the joint efforts of developing countries, which account for more than 80 percent of the world's population, he stressed that human rights must and can only be promoted in light of specific national conditions and people's needs. Xi called on developing countries to uphold both the universality and particularity of human rights and steadily raise the level of human rights protection. "The Chinese people would like to work in concert with people in other developing countries and beyond to advance development through cooperation, promote human rights through development, and build a community with a shared future for human beings," the message read. The message was read by Huang Kunming, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, at the opening ceremony of the forum. The important thought on building a community with a shared future for human beings proposed by Xi offered Chinese wisdom and solutions toward a more fair and reasonable global human rights governance, said Huang, who also heads the publicity department of the CPC Central Committee. The two-day forum attracted more than 300 officials and scholars from over 70 countries and international organizations. Victor Mukonka, director of Zambia National Public Health Institute, believes China's people-centered development philosophy is worth learning for other developing countries. "Development is key to solving all the problems and ensuring the people have access to clean water supply, housing, health care and education," he said while attending the forum. He also praised China as Zambia's strong partner in development. "By human rights, we mean making life better for the people," said Professor Li Yunlong, with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. "The CPC is striving to satisfy the people's needs for a better life, clear evidence that the Party fulfills its promise of protecting human rights." ^ top ^

China, under Xi Jinping, embarks on a quest to win the trust of its people (SCMP)
2017-12-07
The significance of the new "principal contradiction" in Chinese society, established at the 19th Communist Party congress in October and advocated vigorously by President Xi Jinping, is underappreciated. It's a surprisingly powerful lens for viewing China's domestic policies. Two recent events in Beijing which have shaken public trust highlight why. The first was alleged child abuse at a kindergarten. When authorities claimed that the hard disk of the surveillance camera had broken and that the recovered data showed no evidence of abuse, netizens ridiculed the claim and suspected a cover-up. What's worse, they said, is that the police accused two parents of spreading rumours of the abuse. Angered netizens criticised authorities for enabling the alleged abuser to mask the truth. And when the online criticism was censored, anger escalated. The second event was a fire in which 19 people died. All were migrant workers and, within days, many migrant workers were forced to leave their "illegal" apartments, literally, in some cases, thrown out into the cold, stoking more public anger. Again, social media, including WeChat, was cleansed of critical comments. The sense was that the local government was taking advantage of the fire by doing what it wanted to do anyway: reduce the number of migrant workers living in Beijing to create a beautiful Beijing of the future. Even the Chinese state media criticised the local government, saying more "warmth" was needed in moving migrant workers. Sensitivities are so high that the Chinese media can no longer use the pejorative phrase "low-end population". Some Chinese scholars warn that the government is at risk of falling into the so-called "Tacitus trap". The Roman historian Tacitus had observed that once a ruler became an object of hatred, the good and bad things he did only aroused people's dislike of him. The Chinese scholars draw the analogy: "When a government department or an organisation loses its credibility, whether it tells truth or lies, does good or bad, the public believes them to be lies and bad." It may surprise Westerners that these two isolated incidents can trigger such heated emotions, even vitriol, towards the government. After all, such tragic or scandalous events are not uncommon in all countries. Why then have these caused such a stir in China, whereas in the US, for example, public interest would barely budge? At the risk of oversimplifying, I suggest two interlocking reasons. First, people in China have unrealistic expectations that the government can do everything, and second, they believe that the media reports only that which the government approves. The result is that for every problem, the government is blamed, and no matter what the media says, people assume the truth is worse. Recall the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) epidemic. When the government tried to hide the actual facts to avoid panic, the cover-up engendered wild rumours that were far worse than the actual facts. People believed the wild rumours, causing greater panic. Only when the truth was told did the public relax. It was a good lesson. How to improve public trust? The party, I believe, has taken a decisive step by redefining the principal contradiction in society. "Contradiction" is a Marxist term describing a kind of political analysis – "dialectical materialism" – which identifies "dynamic opposing forces" in society, and seeks to resolve tensions by applying "correct" political theories. In Deng Xiaoping's era, the principal contradiction was "the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people versus backward social production" – a change most welcome from the prior contradiction of "proletariat versus bourgeoisie", which catalysed severe, widespread and prolonged chaos and destruction during the political mass movements in the 1950s and 1960s, especially the ruinous Cultural Revolution. Now, even as China achieves its goal of becoming a moderately prosperous society, fulfilling basic needs through economic growth, there is growing dissatisfaction with social conditions. Thus, in Xi's "new era", the principal contradiction is "between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life". As Xi said: "The needs to be met for the people to live a better life are increasingly broad. Not only have their material and cultural needs grown; their demand for democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice, security, and a better environment are increasing." This "new-era contradiction", replacing quantitative gross domestic product growth with qualitative quality-of-life improvement, is what will now drive policy. For example, it is not that people cannot afford medical care, it's that they must wait for hours at overcrowded hospitals and, even then, have only five minutes with a doctor. It's not that people do not have good homes; it's that they do not have clean air. Success will be measured more by the satisfaction of the people than by the growth rates of the economy. Will "satisfaction" be harder to judge? Chinese people are not shy. Implementing ways of thinking consistent with the new principal contradiction would mean trusting the people more. Here, the media plays a crucial role. As with Sars, when truth about unpleasant events is censored, the cover-up engenders false rumours and fuels conspiracy theories. The media should be an ally, not an adversary, in the government's quest for public trust. This need not mean adapting the Western media model. China needs to find its own media model for its own stage of development – which should encourage, in cases like child abuse or tenement fires, truth to be told. I can appreciate the opposite view. China's leaders want the best for the Chinese people, of that I am sure, and there can be a perceived tension between, on the one hand, reporting bad news that could upset the public, and, on the other hand, restricting the reporting that could erode public trust. Given China's social disparities and stage of development, such decisions are challenging. When Xi first announced the new principal contradiction, some dismissed it as arcane party-speak. Public reaction to the child abuse and to the fire, albeit "minor" incidents among many, reveal its prescient and perspicacious wisdom. ^ top ^

Yearender-China Focus: Monotown boom plays important part in China's urbanization drive (Xinhua)
2017-12-07
Monotowns are becoming increasingly common in China's urbanization drive, raising concerns of a new real estate bubble. Monotowns feature specialized industries. Since October, more than 50 listed companies have issued statements about monotown investment projects, covering film, medicine, fashion, energy and robotics sectors. State-owned conglomerate CITIC Group announced a cooperation agreement on Nov. 25 with the local government of Yichuan in central China's Henan Province to build a town featuring the game of go and the pastoral scenery. It is estimated that such towns in China, which are seen as a good means to boost urbanization and lure away people from overcrowded big cities, are attracting private investment worth trillions of yuan every year. In southern Guangdong Province alone, a total of 60 "marine towns" will be created by 2020, according to a local government plan announced last month. In Zhejiang Province in east China, 37 such towns have been announced, including one in Deqing county that focuses on the geographic information industry. The town in Deqing had a total industrial output of 3.5 billion yuan (about 530 million U.S. dollars) over the past three years, according to a local official. Across the country, 127 state-level monotowns were unveiled in October last year by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD). In the second batch of such towns announced in July this year, the number more than doubled to 276, including Yanqi town in Huairou district of Beijing. Besides Yanqi town, Beijing has seven towns of this type, with dozens in the pipeline. MOHURD plans to help create about 1,000 monotowns nationwide by 2020, covering tourism, logistics, modern manufacturing, education technology and traditional culture. The boom in such towns has raised concerns that there might be risks, including real estate bubbles and local government debt. "The pillar of monotowns should be industry, but 90 percent of the towns lack specific industries," said Hu Xiaoying, a manager with CRIC Group's property development branch. To regulate the development of these towns, guidelines were issued jointly by MOHURD, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Land and Resources as well as the Ministry of Environmental Protection Tuesday. The guidelines said that monotowns should stick to industrial development, and control property development rigidly. Enterprises rather than governments should play a key role in the development of monotowns. They state that local governments should introduce policies to solicit private capital, while avoiding exacerbating government debt burden Government departments will launch regular evaluations on the monotowns. ^ top ^

China to further promote government information sharing and disclosure (Xinhua)
2017-12-07
China will further integrate government information systems and enable more information disclosure on the allocation of public resources, according to a decision made at the State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. The government will work to consolidate and integrate the national data sharing and exchange platform to enable connectivity across networks, data and administrative services, the meeting has decided. This move is part of the government effort to streamline administration, enhance compliance oversight and provide better services, with the aim of delivering greater benefits to the public with easier and faster access to administrative services. Chinese leaders have stressed the importance of integration, sharing and disclosure in the running of government information systems on multiple occasions. President Xi Jinping said that the integration of information resources should be pushed forward to break information silos and develop a national information resources sharing system. Premier Li Keqiang said that the integration and sharing of government information systems should be accelerated to deliver better administrative services. According to a decision at the meeting, the contents and modality of data sharing across State Council departments will be clearly defined to ensure public access to information that can be released. The 40 vertical information systems run by the State Council bodies will be made open to governments at various levels by the end of this year, which will enable the sharing of service information on some 500 data items, including the identity verification of natural persons and enterprises, tax payment certificate, real estate registration, and diploma certification. The government will encourage multi-purpose service stations to raise efficiency and cut the legwork of the public and businesses in seeking government services from different departments. The security of information sharing will also be a priority, with measures set to be introduced to enhance the security management system and risk assessment. In the establishment of any new government information system, sharing shall be a guiding principle to prevent duplication and new information silos. The government will also step up technical safeguards for such public infrastructure as the National E-Government Network and the national data sharing and exchange platform. "We should use the integration of government information systems to achieve connectivity of data and government services, and break the barriers to our reform to streamline administration, enhance compliance oversight and provide better services. Such integration will also help spur social creativity, foster a more favorable business environment and bring greater conveniences to our people. This effort meets the public expectation and will help strike a proper balance between the government and the market," the premier said. A new guideline, which specifies a set of requirements for government information disclosure on the allocation of public resources, was also approved at the meeting. The guideline, issued as part of the plan by the Communist party of China Central Committee and the State Council to push forward government information disclosure comprehensively, has identified a number of key areas for information disclosure, including housing, transfer of state-owned land use rights, transfer of mining rights, government procurement, transaction of state-owned property rights and tendering of engineering construction projects. Information disclosure in these areas will be conducted through government portal sites, mobile Internet platforms, or the press by the competent government departments or the state bodies, government-affiliated institutions or enterprises that undertake the allocation of these public resources. "More transparency in the allocation of public resources can help reduce corruption and unfair distribution. It can also lower cost, raise efficiency and enhance government credibility." Li said. The use of high and new technology should be prioritized in integrating government information systems and releasing government information on public resources allocation on the basis of ensuring information security, he added. ^ top ^

North China allows temporary use of coal for heating (Global Times)
2017-12-07
Cities are allowed to use coal for heating in winter if cleaner fuel is unavailable, China's environment manager said on Thursday. In the heating season, cities and regions not equipped with electrically-controlled or natural gas heating facilities can use coal-fired furnaces or other options for heating, the Ministry of Environmental Protection confirmed with the Global Times on Thursday. The notice was released to 28 city governments in northern China on Monday in the list of places which are banned from using coal. The MEP's response comes after reports said many cities and regions suffer from a shortage of electricity or natural gas in winter due to the delayed construction of heating facilities. Some regions resent the shortfall of heating facilities, the Global Times learned. Students at some rural primary schools in North China's Hebei Province reportedly had to bathe in the sun to keep warm as their heating equipment still have to be completed, China Youth Daily reported earlier. Hebei Province raised an orange alert for a shortage of natural gas last week, which means the province is short by 10 to 20 percent, news portal Caixin had reported. Other areas in northern China, including Shaanxi and Shandong provinces, reportedly suffered similar problems. The MEP also asked local governments to ensure a stable supply and price of natural gas and electricity. "When problems occur, industrial heating has to give way to civilian use of gas and electricity," it said. The price of liquid natural gas has risen 60.2 percent since September, the 21st Century Business Herald reported Tuesday, citing the National Bureau of Statistics. Lin Boqiang, director of Xiamen University's China Center for Energy Economics Research, praised the MEP's timely response, saying "the public's need for heating in winter should come ahead of environmental considerations." "That doesn't mean China will end its campaign against the use of coal. The MEP's compromise on the use of coal is merely temporary," Lin told the Global Times on Thursday. ^ top ^

Scientists close in on origin of SARS (China Daily)
2017-12-07
Chinese scientists believe they may have found the origin of the deadly SARS virus in a remote cave in Yunnan province, where they identified a single population of horseshoe bats that harbor virus strains with all the genetic building blocks. The strain could easily have arisen from such bats, according to research published in PLoS Pathogens on Nov 30. Scientists also warned that the ingredients are in place for a similar disease to emerge again. Two scientists, Shi Zhengli and Cui Jie from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Hubei province, led the research team, sampling thousands of wild horseshoe bats from nine provinces. Most caves are located in remote areas, according to Cui. In one particular cave in Yunnan province, the research team found that the strains of coronavirus looked similar to human versions of SARS. It took five years for researchers to monitor the bats living in the cave. Severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, is a highly fatal viral disease characterized by fever, headache and respiratory symptoms including cough, difficulties breathing and pneumonia. It emerged in South China in 2002 and rapidly led to a global pandemic, killing almost 800 people worldwide. The culprit was identified as a strain of coronavirus, and genetically similar viruses were found in masked palm civets that are sold in animal markets in Guangdong province. Later, a large number of SARS-related coronaviruses were found in horseshoe bats. Scientists believe that the strain probably originated in the bats, and later passed through civets before reaching humans. The report by the Wuhan team shows multiple incongruent associations between the phylogenies of horseshoe bats and their coronavirus. "The result showed that host shifts have occurred in the recent evolutionary history of this group. It may be due to either virus biologic traits or host behavioral traits. This finding has implications for the emergence of SARS and for the potential future emergence of SARS-coronavirus or related viruses," the researchers wrote in the report. Shi told Hubei Daily that wild animals such as bats and rats carry various viruses but spreading across species rarely happens. "There is no need to feel panic about it, but close contact with those wild animals should be prevented," she said. In a recent interview with Nature Magazine, Tu Changchun, a virologist who directs the OIE Reference Laboratory for Rabies in Changchun, Jilin province, said the results are only 99 percent persuasive. He said he would like to see scientists demonstrate in the lab that the human SARS strain can jump from bats to another animal, such as a civet. Also, he questioned how a virus from bats in Yunnan could travel to animals and humans about 1,000 kilometers away in Guangdong, without causing any suspected cases in Yunnan. According to Nature, Cui and Shi also conducted research on other bat populations that could have produced strains capable of infecting humans, and have isolated about 300 bat coronavirus sequences, most not yet published, with which they will continue to monitor the evolution of the virus. ^ top ^

Sex education gains recognition among Chinese parents (Global Times)
2017-12-07
Teaching kids about sex, which has traditionally been a taboo and embarrassing topic for many parents in China, is now coming out of the closet especially after a child abuse case at a Beijing kindergarten made headlines last month. The Chengdu-based Tianfu Morning News reported that local bookstores are selling many more self-help books on the delicate subject. In October alone one store sold 200 sex-ed books, more than the total sales of the previous year. The store has since moved the books from a shelf tucked in the back to a recommended reading area, said the report. Online book-selling platforms are also seeing an increase in sales. Dangdang.com, one of the most visited online book stores in China, saw its collection of books on teaching children how to recognize and protect themselves again sexual predators shoot to No.2 on its list of best sellers. Between 2014 and 2016 the same collection wasn't even among the top 40 best-sellers. Hu Zhen, an expert at the Sichuan Province Center for Youth and Teenager Sex Education, told at a forum that while today's Chinese are exposed to as much information about sex as the rest of the world, there remains a deep misunderstanding about sex education. "A lot of people don't know what sex education is actually about. Many adults think it's teaching children about having sex," Hu said. Hu was a keynote speaker last week at a sex education forum sponsored by Marie Stopes International China, which provides sexual and reproductive health services and education. Having worked in China for more than seven years, Susie Jolly, a program officer at the Ford Foundation's Beijing office, said that while Chinese society was more conservative prior to the 1990s, many people's attitudes about sex now mirror those found in many Western cultures. She suggested that instead of trying to develop a sex education course for the whole of China, the diversity of different regions within the country should be considered. "A teacher from Shanghai once told me that sex education is very difficult to teach because in each class there will be some students who think they already know much more than the teacher, and other students will so embarrassed they do not dare raise their eyes and look at you," said Jolly. "Sex education should be tailored to address the different situations and ages of the children," she added. Hu Jiawei, founder of the children's sex education institution Soy & Pea, said that he's sensed a gradual change in attitudes among Chinese parents over the years. "Parents used to say 'my kid is too small' for sex education, but now many are even consulting with me in a very active way," Hu told the Global Times. On November 24, several days after the kindergarten child abuse case became a hot topic, Hu launched an online course on WeChat, which attracted an audience of 250,000. "Usually, such a class has about 20,000 listeners at a time," Hu said. ^ top ^

China to phase out more pesticides to improve food safety (SCMP)
2017-12-05
China plans to eliminate another 12 highly toxic pesticides from use within five years, state media reported late on Monday, as the government looks to improve the safety of its farm produce. That comes amid an ongoing campaign to improve the environment and, in particular, tackle severe soil pollution. Beijing has already withdrawn 22 highly toxic pesticides from use and it prohibits the use of any such products on fruit, vegetables and tea. But it still had a number of highly toxic chemicals in use on other crops where they were particularly effective in fighting underground pests, Zeng Yande, head of the crop management department at the agriculture ministry, was quoted as saying by Xinhua. The ministry has already issued a notice banning the highly toxic substances endosulfan and methyl bromide by 2019. Three others – aldicarb, phorate and isocarbophos – would be withdrawn next year, while substances including omethoate and aluminium phosphide should be removed by 2020, the report said. Chloropicrin, carbofuran and methomyl will be phased out by 2022. Zeng called for more research and development to produce highly effective alternatives with low toxicity. The Ministry of Agriculture was already testing a subsidy system for low toxic biological pesticides, Economic Daily reported. Zeng said local governments should support demonstration bases for such biological pesticides, according to that report. Beijing announced two years ago a goal to achieve zero growth in the amount of pesticides used by 2020, and said it had already seen negative growth over the past three years. Zeng said also that the government should raise the barriers to pesticide registration and increase penalties for those making unlicensed products or selling counterfeit pesticides. The agriculture ministry had proposed that new pesticide manufacturers must be located in chemical industry parks to reduce their environmental impact, Economic Daily reported. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping renews 'cyber sovereignty' call at China's top meeting of internet minds (SCMP)
2017-12-03
Chinese President Xi Jinping has again sought to rally support for "cyber sovereignty" in a message to China's annual World Internet Conference on Sunday. In a letter read out to the conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, by Communist Party publicity chief Huang Kunming, Xi said developments online were raising many new challenges to sovereignty and security, and China was "willing to work with the international community to respect cyberspace sovereignty and promote partnerships". The letter underscores Xi's previous cyber sovereignty calls to the conference in which he has promoted the idea that all countries have the right to regulate the internet within their own borders. But the letter was a departure from last year when Xi delivered the message via a video link and 2015 when he pressed his point in person. Xi's presidency has coincided with extraordinary growth and tighter censorship online in China. Tencent and Alibaba are now among the world's most valued internet companies, followed by an army of powerful players such as Baidu, JD.com and handset maker Xiaomi. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post. A report by Deloitte and China Venture released in September said China had 98 unicorns – 40 per cent of the world's companies valued at at least US$1 billion before listing. The growth has been in large part due to the widespread use of internet applications in China, making the country a leader in services from cashless payments to bike sharing. "China's digital economy development is entering a fast lane, and China hopes to promote all countries in the world to jump on the internet and digital economy express," Huang said, reading from Xi's letter. Zhejiang party chief Che Jun said Xi "had pointed to the future path of the world's internet development and governance" and showcased China's responsibility as a major internet country. The idea that each country has the right to censor and regulate the internet is taking root elsewhere. For example, Russia temporarily blocked Tencent's social media app WeChat in May because it did not comply with local regulations. Also addressing the conference on Sunday were Apple chief executive Tim Cook and Google boss Sundar Pichai. In the last year, Apple has had to remove various apps the government does not like, including Skype, from its local App Store, and Google is still blocked in China. China was also last in terms of internet freedom in a survey last month by Freedom House, a US pro-democracy group that lists Google among its funders. One person who won't be making an appearance this year is China's former internet tsar Lu Wei, who delivered a speech at the closing ceremony two years ago. Lu has been detained amid an internal party corruption investigation. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Laid-off Beijing workers to get financial aid, official says (China Daily)
2017-12-06
Workers who lose their jobs because of Beijing's efforts to relocate noncapital functions to neighboring regions will receive compensation to soften the blow, a senior official said on Wednesday. The city government is moving manufacturers and wholesale markets, as well as other industries, to outlying areas to ease pressure on resources and reduce congestion. Experts say layoffs are inevitable. However, Liu Xiaojun, head of employment promotion for the Beijing Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, said a subsidy will be paid to those affected while they search for alternative employment, according to a Beijing News report. To qualify, workers will have to satisfy two conditions: they need to have contributed to social security insurance; and they need to have been laid off instead of resigning. The amount paid will depend on their social security insurance contributions, while migrant workers will be required to proof from their former employer that they were laid off. Liu was speaking at a job fair in the capital's Dongcheng district on Wednesday. He said more job fairs will be organized in the run-up to Spring Festival, which falls on Feb 16. ^ top ^

Beijing migrant worker evictions: the four-character word you can't say anymore (SCMP)
2017-12-04
In the end, those four characters had to go, never to be seen or mentioned again: di-duan-ren-kou, or "low-end population". A cold bureaucratic definition of low value-added manual jobs that somehow expanded to designate the people who do those jobs, has caused as much heartburn as the harsh spectacle of Beijing's ongoing eviction of the people who fit that description. The censors have now banned that word from social media and elsewhere. In an angry WeChat post, the writer-filmmaker Xu Xing said: "Low-end population – who invented those four characters? I'm over 60 and I've never heard anything like that. When I was in Germany it was a crime to use this expression." Migrant workers do not read government documents, so they had no idea that this is what they were called," says Professor Jiang, an academic who studies the new Chinese working class and prefers to be referred to only by his last name. "Now they have discovered that they are second-class citizens." It all began on November 18, when a fire killed 19 migrants in the village of Xinjiancun – part of the southern suburb of Daxing in Beijing. The Beijing government immediately ordered a 40-day campaign to demolish thousands of unauthorised houses in the city and evict the migrant workers occupying these rickety premises. The execution has been rapid and clinically efficient, wiping out whole neighbourhoods. Xinjiancun has been razed. A textile factory worker points to the rubble, saying many of her colleagues once lived right there. "Now they are theoretically still working here but they have lost their homes and disappeared," she says. "They have to find their own housing now." In Picun, one of the villages in the northern belt of Beijing, officials used a softer strategy, but it hit just as hard in the biting cold. Power and heating were cut off in two buildings occupied by migrant workers. As one of the stated government goals is to reduce coal-fired homes, the authorities are entirely within their rights, no matter how ruthless it looks. People are taking away their belongings, filing out through the dark and cold corridors. I try to engage a woman dragging away a suitcase, asking her how she feels being called "low-end". She isn't interested, and asks me to leave. Right now she doesn't care what she is called – there are far more pressing matters on hand. According to Jiang, what's coming is a new wave of real estate speculation. In 2005, a resolution by the National People's Congress identified 33 pilot counties, cities and districts that would have to "temporarily adjust and implement the Land Administration Law" while the authorities go about "getting the city into the countryside", or turning rural land into attractive residential area. Daxing is one of those 33 pilot zones. Whatever the official rationale for the eviction, Beijingers are perplexed at how these evictions in sub-zero temperatures could possibly be helping the cause of "harmonious" and "beautiful" China. And the drive is hurting them too. "They sent my ayi [housekeeper] so far away that now she has to travel two and a half hours to come to Beijing," says a woman who lives near the second ring road. "What happens to the delivery boy who brings me the goods I buy on Taobao, or the guy who replaces the water tank in the office every day?" Suddenly two cornerstones of the Chinese economic miracle seem to have come head to head: real estate and cheap labour. Jiang thinks that sooner or later the government will establish quotas. "Maybe a certain number of ayi and delivery boys for a certain number of city dwellers, by area or zone. And maybe, those who remain will have a Beijing hukou [household registration] and decent and affordable accommodation." The others will go far, far away from Beijing. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Fortune Global Forum sends 'open' signal (Global Times)
2017-12-06
Thousands of business representatives gathered in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, on Wednesday for the annual Fortune Global Forum, with many participants expressing confidence that new steps are being taken to further open China's market to the world. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the forum, saying the country and its business environment will become more open, with greater transparency and more standardized services. China welcomes entrepreneurs from all over the world to invest in the country, and share the benefits of China's economic reforms, Xi's message stated. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, called for broader global cooperation, telling the forum that China will continue to open its market to the world. The annual Fortune Global Forum is a major three-day business event. The first Fortune Global Forum was held in 1995. "China's further development will be driven by innovation, it has a labor force of 900 million and a million highly educated people with great potential," said the Vice Premier in his speech. He also noted that the Chinese government has stepped up efforts in building a fair business environment in which both domestic and foreign investors are treated equally. Wang said qualified foreign companies registered in China will receive equal treatment in government procurement, standards setting and projects related to "Made in China 2025," the Chinese government's blueprint to upgrade the manufacturing sector with new technology. Some foreign organizations have expressed concerns that the manufacturing strategy designed by Beijing might actually hurt the interests of foreign firms. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in Beijing warned foreign firms to be cautious of policy tools such as "Made in China 2025," according to a report it released in March. Attendees at the three-day Fortune Global Forum heard an answer to the Chamber's worries. "Chinese officials sent a strong message to the world today that the country will open more sectors of the economy to foreign investors, particularly in terms of upgrading manufacturing," said Miao Lü, executive secretary-general of the Beijing-based think tank Center for China and Globalization. "Wang's speech is a direct response to concerns rising from foreign business groups," she told the Global Times at the forum. From January to October, total foreign investment grew 1.9 percent year-on-year to 678.7 billion yuan ($102.6 billion), and manufacturing, high-tech and services have become a major magnet attracting foreign capital, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce in November. "It's also a strong signal sent by the central government after the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) National Congress. China's move to gradually open up its market will become a major economic trend over the next few years and foreign investors should fully take this into account," Miao noted. While some foreign investors are still taking a cautious attitude toward China's openness, others believe the country has already made progress in granting market access to foreign companies. "China is becoming more and more open," said Alain Galliano, vice-president in charge of international relations in the French city of Lyon, who has done business in China for 40 years. Galliano noted that French electric car companies are sure to see greater investment opportunities in China once curbs on foreign investment in the sector are loosened. "I believe that in China when top government officials say something is going to change, usually something changes. It's very much a top-down system," Jay Walker, founder of Priceline, a US commercial website that helps users find discounts, told the Global Times on Wednesday, noting that 19th CPC National Congress made it clear that an open economy will be a priority. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetan NPC delegation ends US visit (Global Times)
2017-12-07
A National People's Congress (NPC) delegation from China's Tibet Autonomous Region on Wednesday has completed its five-day visit to the United States. The delegation, led by Danzeng Langjie, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region, visited Boston and Washington, DC, where they met US congressmen, Chinese students and US scholars. During the visit, the delegation discussed the social and economic achievements of Tibet after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and its prospects after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which was held in October. The Belt and Road initiative, Tibet's economic development, religious and cultural protection, local people's lives and China's preferential policies for Tibet's development were among the other issues discussed. At a press conference in Washington on Tuesday, the delegation responded to media questions about Tibet's poverty alleviation efforts and the protection and development of its traditional culture. The delegation also visited Argentina and Canada. They met Argentine parliamentarians, officials from the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship and scholars during their first visit to the South American country. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

5.2-magnitude quake hits Xinjiang, no casualties reported (Global Times)
2017-12-07
A 5.2-magnitude earthquake jolted Yecheng County in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region at 7:29 a.m. Thursday. No casualties have been reported. The epicenter was monitored at 35.69 degrees north latitude and 77.46 degrees east longitude. The quake struck at a depth of 87.0 km, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center. The Xinjiang Seismological Bureau said the quake-affected area is sparsely populated. It is 244 km away from Yecheng's county seat. With an average height of 6,113 meters above the sea level, Yecheng is located on China's border with Pakistan. It has a population of 500,000 and is adjacent to Taklimakan Desert. On Thursday morning, residents of Yecheng and neighboring Pishan and Hotan counties reported feeling the tremor. The county authorities have dispatched investigators to border townships to check damage. ^ top ^

Over 700,000 join voluntary services in Xinjiang in 2017 (Xinhua)
2017-12-06
Over 700,000 people have participated in voluntary services in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region this year, according to the local youth organization. As of Dec. 5 (International Volunteer Day), more than 20,000 volunteers have registered with 781 voluntary associations and service teams at various levels in Xinjiang, the Xinjiang Regional Committee of the Communist Youth League said. Apart from social volunteers, many the registered volunteers are from China's "Go West" program, which was launched by several government departments in 2003. The program sends university graduates to perform volunteer work in education, health, agriculture and social management in the country's remote and underdeveloped western regions. The number of participants in the program in Xinjiang grew from 400 in 2013 to more than 3,000 this year, making a great contribution to local development. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong, Palace Museum sign letter of intent to strengthen cultural exchange cooperation (Xinhua)
2017-12-07
The Leisure and Cultural Services of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Thursday signed the second Letter of Intent on Cultural Exchange and Cooperation with the Palace Museum. Under the new agreement, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Palace Museum will strengthen the cooperation and communication in preserving and showcasing cultural heritage established with the signing of the first Letter of Intent in 2012. Under the five-year plan, the two sides will continue to stage thematic exhibitions featuring artefacts from the Palace Museum in Hong Kong every year. In addition to sharing their expertise and experiences in various areas including collection preservation and management as well as academic research, the two sides will also establish a mechanism for cooperation in personnel training for museum professionals by organizing thematic forums, academic seminars and training programs. The two sides will also enhance public understanding of history, culture and arts through education and extension activities including exchange and internship programs for young people. Starting in 2018, a new range of events and activities will see the Leisure and Cultural Services Department continue to collaborate with the Palace Museum in promoting Chinese culture. A new series of educational programs for students and other members of the public entitled "Traversing the Forbidden City" will be rolled out to feature an array of activities in the coming five years. Under specific themes to be set out each year, a wide range of diverse and creative programs such as roving exhibitions, interactive theatrical performances, hands-on workshops and competitions will be launched to introduce aspects of ancient imperial architecture, collections, historic relics and stories of the Forbidden City from different angles. These will enable students and members of the public to learn more about traditional Chinese culture through looking at the Forbidden City from various perspectives, and promote Hong Kong arts and culture. Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, signed the letter of Intent with Director of Leisure and Cultural Services Michelle Li. Shan also gave a thematic talk entitled "The culture horizon of Hong Kong culture Palace Museum" at the Hong Kong Science Museum, in which he spoke about his experiences in enhancing exhibition curation and customer services. ^ top ^

Legal specialists among almost 60 to join battle for National People's Congress seats (SCMP)
2017-12-04
Almost 60 people, some of them new faces from the legal sector, joined the race to elect 36 deputies to the National People's Congress as nominations closed on Monday. Sources in the pro-establishment camp had said that Beijing hoped to have more local deputies with such backgrounds to strengthen its influence in legal issues in the city. The development came weeks after Li Fei, the Basic Law Committee chairman, reignited the debate over whether Hong Kong should speed up its pace in enacting national security legislation. A move to pass a law was shelved in 2003 after half a million people protested, fearing for their liberty. At least four of the hopefuls were from the legal sector: former Law Society chairman Ambrose Lam San-keung; current council member of the Law Society Nick Chan Hiu-fung; an opponent of the 2014 Occupy Central movement, Maggie Chan Man-ki; and a legal adviser of the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, Zhan Meiqing. The spotlight was also on another newcomer, Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, the former minister in charge of the city's mainland affairs. He had echoed calls by incumbent deputies, including Cheng Yiu-tong and Stanley Ng Chau-pei, that the government should push to enact national security law within the next five years. Tam Yiu-chung, a former chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, also entered the race. He is tipped to replace the retiring Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai as the sole local delegate to the NPC Standing Committee, which holds the power to interpret the Basic Law. Tam was endorsed with more than 860 nominations – from the same committee used in chief executive elections – when hopefuls need the backing of only 10 to enter the race. Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki is the only pan-democratic lawmaker running. But he has refused to sign the new declaration form under which candidates must pledge allegiance to both China and Hong Kong, and declare that they will uphold the Chinese constitution and the Basic Law. He called this an unacceptable requirement that would restrict people from participating in the election. Kwok said he was confident of winning should the race be carried out in a fair and just manner. Seven Occupy Central supporters and Election Committee member Roger Wong Hoi-fung were among the pro-democracy figures who had signed up for the campaign. A panel of 1,989 Hong Kong electors, including about 300 pan-democrats, will choose the 36 deputies by block vote on December 19. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan vows to press on with indigenous arms policy (SCMP)
2017-12-02
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen vowed Friday to forge ahead with her administration's policy of building military equipment at home despite an ongoing procurement scandal. Speaking at a commissioning ceremony held at a military base in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, Tsai called the scandal involving minesweepers for the navy an "isolated case" that would "not change the course of bolstering the indigenous arms industry". Tsai said she was confident that the military would correct the wrong and learn a lesson from it, thus helping itself establish a better system and create a better environment for advancing the development of the indigenous military industry. She added that as the commander-in-chief of the military forces, she wanted to take the opportunity to express her strong support for the military and for the policy of building military equipment at home. The ceremony was held for 12 P-3C submarine-hunting and maritime surveillance aircraft acquired from the United States to replace ageing S-2T anti-submarine warfare aircraft, which were officially decommissioned on Friday. The P-3C aircraft are part of a US$2.23 billion arms sale the US government approved in 2007. The defence ministry has said that it is planning to add the aircraft, which have an operational range of 2,000 nautical miles, to regular patrols in the South China Sea. Tsai is not the first Taiwanese president seeking to build military equipment at home. However, the scandal surrounding Ching Fu Shipbuilding has struck a blow to the policy. Kaohsiung-based Ching Fu won a contract in October 2014 to build six minesweepers for the navy. The navy said it would decide no later than December 8 whether to terminate the contract with Ching Fu, which failed to meet a contract deadline due to its financial woes. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Xi vows more openness for business (China Daily)
2017-12-07
China will not close its door to the world, and will only become increasingly open, with its business environment becoming more open, transparent and regulated, President Xi Jinping said. Xi made the pledge in a message sent to convey his congratulations on the start on Wednesday of the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou, in which more than 1,100 prominent political, economic and academic figures from around the world are participating this week. China's economy has the foundation, conditions and impetus to maintain stable growth and sound momentum, Xi said. China will continue to forge global partnerships, expand common interests with other countries and further liberalize and facilitate trade and investment, the president said. Xi welcomed global businesses to invest in China to share the opportunities brought by the country's reform and development. The country will further comprehensively deepen its reform, spur innovation capability in all walks of life and unleash the dynamics of development, Xi said. Also, China will develop the open economy to a higher level and promote the Belt and Road Initiative, and the country will create more opportunities and make a greater contribution to the world, he said. Vice-Premier Wang Yang spoke at the opening ceremony of the forum, and said that China will deliberate on a timetable and a road map for expanding the opening-up in some priority areas. The whole country will ensure that before foreign investors enter the market they will get treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to national investors, that there will be a negative list and that there will be greatly lowered thresholds for their market entry, according to Wang. A negative list specifies areas where investment is prohibited; all other areas are presumed open. China will further protect the legal rights and interests of foreign investors and create a business climate that offers treatment based on equal footing and fair competition, Wang said. Leaders attending the forum also hailed Beijing's renewed commitment to boosting trade, openness and interconnectivity. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "When it comes to trade and international cooperation, China and Canada share the belief that more openness and more collaboration is the right way forward, indeed, the only way forward." Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said his country, like others, will benefit from the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road plans, first proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, as it "will connect our businesses more fully with China and the wider global market". It "further creates potential for us to develop effective solutions to the real world problems we face today", he added. ^ top ^

All aboard China's newest high-speed rail service – from terracotta warrior world to giant panda country (SCMP)
2017-12-05
A new 658km high-speed rail service will be up and running in western China on Wednesday, linking Xian, home of China's famed terracotta warriors, to Chengdu in the heart of giant panda country. With a top speed up to 250km/h, the new line took five years to build, winds through one of China's most mountainous areas and will cut the rail journey between the two cities from about 11 hours to 3½ hours, according to Xinhua. The new line will not be the fastest in China but it will form a key part of the country's national high-speed railway system, linking the upstream areas of the Yellow and Yangtze rivers via 127 bridges and 34 tunnels. Ticket sales started on Sunday, with a second-class ticket for the full journey costing 263 yuan (US$40), the report said. In about a decade, China's high-speed railway network went from zero to 22,000km at the end of last year, becoming the biggest of its kind in the world. China plans to have 30,000km of high-speed rail in operation by 2020, linking 80 per cent of its major cities. China's extensive investments in railways have been a priority in its five-year development plans, and a major export under its "Belt and Road Initiative". But the rapid roll-out has raised safety concerns. Potential safety problems were discovered on the newly opened Shanghai-Kunming line, prompting operator China Railway to punish various companies involved in the line's construction, supervision, and design along the route in Guizhou province, state-owned outlet Thepaper.cn reported last month. In 2011, a deadly train collision in the southeastern city of Wenzhou resulted in train speeds being capped at 300km/h for several years. The railways have also raised environmental concerns. The Xian-Chengdu route will be the first to cut through the ecologically important Qinling Mountain range, a natural boundary between northern and southern China. The area is home to many endangered species, including giant pandas and crested ibis. To protect the birds a net was installed along a 33km section of the line in Yang county in Shaanxi near the site of a crested ibis nature reserve. ^ top ^

Senior EU official pushes China to live up to Xi Jinping's promise to open up country's markets (SCMP)
2017-12-02
A senior European Union official has called on China to deliver on President Xi Jinping's promises to allow greater access to Chinese markets. Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for the euro and social dialogue, also said China and Europe should set aside their differences on contentious trade issues and look to strengthen their cooperation in economic and environmental matters. Noting that European companies have repeatedly voiced concerns about access to Chinese markets, which are far less open than their European counterparts, the former Latvian prime minister said the EU was keen to know what Beijing would do to honour Xi's pledge at the Communist Party's national congress in October. "We welcome the initiative President Xi made at the 19th party congress about openness, economic integration and international cooperation. We are interested to see what concrete initiatives there will be on market access for European companies," he said. He said the EU looked forward to "practical steps in terms of investment opportunities in certain sectors where there are restrictions on majority ownership for foreign companies, conditions and requirements over market access, and unusual market practices regarding technology transfer". China's efforts to buy EU companies have met increasing resistance, with stronger screening systems being adopted in several European countries in the wake of increased Chinese investment in the hi-tech and energy sectors. Dombrovskis said the investment screening mechanisms were "very limited" and only affected Chinese investments in a few strategically important sectors where national security interests were at stake. "I would say that access to the EU market is much more open as we have much fewer market access obstacles," he said. According to the EU official, market access will be an important part of the ongoing talks on a bilateral investment agreement between Beijing and Brussels. From the EU's perspective, "we'd like to have an ambitious agreement... meaning its coverage goes beyond classical investment agreements", he said. He also defended new anti-dumping and anti-subsidy legislation the EU will soon put into effect, which critics say targets China and will threaten bilateral trade relations. China said the legislation violated its WTO commitments and encouraged protectionist trends. Beijing filed a lawsuit last December against the EU over its handling of the anti-dumping investigation but Dombrovskis said the new measures "are fully in line with WTO rules" and "will apply to all countries without any exception". He also insisted that the surge in Chinese investment and increased influence in Europe was not a threat to the continent's cohesion. Many western European countries have been uneasy about China's push for export markets and greater influence in Central and Eastern Europe, which has gathered steam under the "Belt and Road Initiative" as well as the "16+1" mechanism created by Beijing five years ago. The forum brings together 16 Central and Eastern European countries – both EU and non-EU states – with China, but, Dombrovskis shrugged off the concerns, pointing out that he had taken part in the first "16+1" summit when he was prime minister of Latvia. "The EU is used to this kind of multilateral cooperation and it is a way to explore the potential of different forms of cooperation to advance projects. At the end of the day, what is important is what practical outlooks we can bring forward," he said. Dombrovskis, who was visiting Hong Kong for the second annual EU-Asia Pacific forum on Financial Regulation, noted Hong Kong was actively positioning itself to help push forward the belt and road plans. "We are looking for ways to have synergies between the Belt and Road Initiative and our investment plan for Europe. Europe is interested in attracting investment," he said. Dombrovskis was upbeat about China-EU relations amid growing concerns that a stronger and an increasingly assertive China may pose a threat to its neighbours and the existing world order led by the United States and Europe. "It's important that China is committed to multilateralism in international cooperation and respecting international rules and regulations. We are very much willing to cooperate with China on that basis. We see China as a partner that we are willing to cooperate with," he said. Although China and the EU failed to reach a formal climate agreement at the EU-China summit in June, he said both sides remained strongly committed to playing a global leadership role after the US withdrew from the Paris climate pact. Dombrovskis also brushed aside the concerns over the impact of political uncertainty in Germany after the recent elections on euro-zone reform and other efforts to strengthen the economic and monetary union. He also dismissed concerns about r implications of the persistent uncertainty over Britain's future relations with the EU. He said Brexit was more likely to affect the British economy rather than the rest of the EU. "We do not see any major economic slowdown because of Brexit right now," he said, adding broad-based economic growth was expected in all 28 EU member states this year. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

North Korea says nuclear war inevitable because of military drills by US and South Korea (SCMP)
2017-12-08
A nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula is inevitable because of threatening military drills by South Korea and the United States, North Korea's foreign ministry said in comments carried by the official Korean Central News Agency late on Wednesday. The foreign ministry said the military exercises involving hundreds of South Korean and US warplanes made the outbreak of war an "established fact." It also blamed high-ranking US officials, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, for "bellicose remarks." Two US B-1B heavy bombers joined large-scale combat drills over South Korea on Thursday. The annual US-South Korean "Vigilant Ace" exercises feature 230 aircraft, including some of the most advanced US stealth warplanes, and come a week after North Korea tested its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to date, which it says can reach all of the United States. North Korea's foreign ministry blamed the drills and "confrontational warmongering" by US officials for making war inevitable. "The remaining question now is: when will the war break out?" it said in a statement. "We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it." China, North Korea's neighbour and lone major ally, again urged calm and said war was not the answer, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said North Korea wanted direct talks with the United States to seek guarantees on its security, something Moscow was ready to facilitate. "We hope all relevant parties can maintain calm and restraint and take steps to alleviate tensions and not provoke each other," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. Pompeo said on Saturday that US intelligence agencies believe North Korean leader Kim Jong-un does not have a good idea about how tenuous his situation is domestically and internationally as he pushes ahead with North Korea's nuclear weapons programme. North Korea said "should the US miscalculate our patience and light the fuse for a nuclear war, we will surely make the US dearly pay the consequences with our mighty nuclear force which we have consistently strengthened." US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said direct talks with North Korea were "not on the table until they are willing to denuclearise." "It is something that Russia says it agrees with; it is something China has said it agrees with, and many other nations around the world as well," she told a regular briefing. Nauert said North Korea was "not showing any interest in sitting down and having any kind of serious conversations when they continue to fire off ballistic missiles." The comments were consistent with the tone of Pyongyang's previous confrontational remarks and statements condemning Washington and Seoul. South Korea's military said the drills – a Guam-based bomber simulated land strikes at a field near South Korea's eastern coast – "displayed the allies' strong intent and ability to punish North Korea when threatened by nuclear weapons and missiles." Flyovers have become an increasingly familiar show of force to North Korea, which after three intercontinental ballistic missile tests and six nuclear tests has moved closer toward building a nuclear arsenal that could viably target the US mainland. ^ top ^

North Korean airspace could be declared no-fly zone after missile test comes within sight of Cathay Pacific passenger plane (SCMP)
2017-12-07
North Korean airspace could be declared a no-fly zone in response to the country's missile tests, the aviation industry's global trade body says, after the latest launch came within sight of a passenger plane. Excluding aircraft from the area is one option open to aviation safety regulators as they ponder how to deal with the arbitrary firing of missiles that has encroached on busy commercial air routes between Asia and North America. Pilots on a plane operated by Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific Airways saw from a distance what were believed to be the remnants of a North Korean rocket fired last Wednesday. The airline disclosed the sighting on Monday in an internal note to staff. While no international flights currently use North Korean airspace, the area around it is full of activity. Any sanctions by the United Nations safety regulator, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), would likely bring into sharper focus the safety of aircraft operating nearby as well as commercial flights in and out of North Korea. "The ICAO could declare a no-fly zone," Alexandre de Juniac, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said at its Geneva headquarters on Tuesday. "We are working with the ICAO on how we can protect these zones [for] flying. "The ICAO is trying to implement and ask North Korea to apply safety rules. If you look at the North Korean airspace, there are not too many aircraft overflying." An IATA spokesman said there was an obligation on North Korea to provide notice of any missile tests, which thus far had not been given. In the absence of such notice, it was up to airlines to carry out risk assessments to see how far from North Korea it would be safe to fly. "For sure" there was no risk to passengers and airlines, de Juniac said. Carriers decide on their own flight paths based on safety notices from local and international agencies. Cathay Pacific said on Monday that despite the missile sighting it would not change its routes. Airlines have not yet taken any action in light of the North Korean rocket launches. In 2015, when Russia escalated its military campaign against Islamist militants in Syria, it started firing rockets from the Caspian Sea, which prompted international aviation safety agencies to issue warnings. The alerts spurred airlines to eventually take action based on their own risk assessments. However, not all carriers steered clear of "at-risk" routes identified at the time. In Monday's message on an online staff communication platform, Cathay's general manager of operations, Mark Hoey, said: "Today the crew of CX893 reported: 'Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location. We advised ATC [air traffic control] and ops [operations] normal. Just letting you know.' Looking at the actual plots, CX096 might have been the closest, at a few hundred miles laterally." Other aircraft were also in the area at the time, according to radar information. Taiwanese carrier China Airlines' flight from Vancouver and an Eva Air flight from Seattle, both headed to Taipei, and Japan's All Nippon Airways' Frankfurt flight from Tokyo were all over the area where the rogue state's missile terminated. Some European airlines adjusted flight routes in response to Pyongyang's earlier missile tests this year. Lufthansa said it had changed course, without specifying details. Air France said it had widened its no-fly zone around North Korea. The stretch of airspace hugging Japan's east coast over the Pacific Ocean is a prime route used by hundreds of flights every day criss-crossing Asia and North America. Another important route directs planes over northern China and into Russia. ^ top ^

Chinese living on North Korean border told to prepare for nuclear disaster by state newspaper (SCMP)
2017-12-06
A state-run newspaper in northeast China published a full-page article advising local residents on how to cope with a nuclear attack – a sign of Beijing's concern about a possible disaster in the Korean peninsula. Wednesday's article in J ilin Daily, published in a province that borders North Korea, ran under the headline "Knowledge about Nuclear Weapons and Protection", came as sabre rattling continues to escalate following Pyongyang's repeated nuclear and missile tests – the latest one last week. A US B-1B bomber flew over the Korean peninsula on Wednesday during a large-scale joint aerial drill, which Pyongyang said would lead to the "brink of war". Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier that he felt that tensions over North Korea had resurfaced. Jilin Daily did not mention North Korea in the article, but it said when the United States dropped a nuclear bomb in the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945, fires, radiation and a blast wave killed more than 70,000 people. It offered advice on measures it said could help to protect people from radiation, including taking iodine pills. The page was accompanied by cartoon illustrations asking people to close their windows and doors during an emergency and immediately take a shower and wash out their mouths and ears after being exposed to radiation. Jilin, a province that borders North Korea and shares a 1,200km boundary with the reclusive state, is close to the country's Punggye-ri nuclear test site. The newspaper has previously run reports on how to ward off the impact of radioactive contamination following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011, but has not specifically discussed nuclear weapons before. Other nations, including the United States, Japan and South Korea, have previously given their citizens similar advice. In August, Guam's Homeland Security and Office of Civil Defence released a two-page fact sheet on social media and its website, giving people advice such as making a list of potential concrete shelters near home and avoiding looking at the fireball. The US overseas territory is about 3,400km from North Korea – well within range of North Korea's intermediate range ballistic missiles – and earlier this year Pyongyang threated to target the Pacific island. Zhang Liangui, a professor of international strategic research at China's Central Party School, said: "North Korea has fired a new missile that can reach the US and the US is conducting large scale navy drills with South Korea.` "We cannot say war will come, but in situations like this, China has to educate people more about nuclear weapons," said Zhang. Global Times, a tabloid owned by the official People's Daily, said in an editorial on Wednesday that China was closely watching the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and was fully prepared for various scenarios. "The North Korean situation is worsening, and it is necessary for both the country and public to step up awareness and prepare for the worst," said the editorial. "Even if there is another war on the peninsula, our country will try its best to minimise the impact of the war to northeastern China." Xu Yucheng, a deputy director of Jilin's civil air defence office, downplayed such concerns, saying that the content of the article was mainly for national defence education and should not be over-interpreted. "Many countries use the media to educate the public regarding nuclear protection. But education in China is far more limited when compared with developed countries like Japan," he was quoted by The Beijing News as saying. A Jilin Daily staff member said the full-page article was just a one-off. Some residents in cities bordering North Korea said they were concerned about the possible nuclear risk. "The situation appears to be calm now," said a local resident in Dandong in Liaoning province, who did not want to be identified. "But the site used by North Korea for nuclear testing is very close to Dandong. Sometimes when we look at the sky above North Korea, we cannot tell if it is a [mushroom] cloud or smog. We are a bit worried." Two residents in the city of Tonghua in Jilin province, who declined to be named, said they did not know much about the current situation on the Korean peninsula and were carrying on with their lives as normal. Wang Sheng, a North Korean affairs expert from Jilin University, said Jilin Daily was telling people in China's northeast that a disaster could be imminent. "It reflects the deep worries, disappointment and frustration across northeastern China towards North Korea and the article is timely in educating the public on how to protect themselves," said Wang. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Cabinet Meeting in brief (Montsame)
2017-12-07
The Cabinet discussed and agreed to submit to Parliament a Financing Agreement on 'Economic Management Support Program, First Development Policy' between the Government of Mongolia and the World Bank's International Development Association. The Program aims to improve budget stability, reduce deficit and direct social welfare programs to target groups. The Cabinet authorized Finance Minister to sign a financing agreement of USD 500 million from the People's Republic of China, which will be spent on supporting agricultural production. The Cabinet authorized the export of meat, by-products, seeds and seedlings and livestock through Khangi border crossing in Dornogobi aimag and Shiveekhuren border crossing in Umnugobi aimag. The Cabinet adopted a follow-up action plan regarding the 16th Meeting of Mongolia-Republic of Korea Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation. ^ top ^

Mongolia is among 17 blacklisted territories published by EU (GoGo Mongolia)
2017-12-06
The first ever EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions has been agreed today by the Finance Ministers of EU Member States during their meeting in Brussels. In total, ministers have listed 17 countries for failing to meet agreed tax good governance standards. In addition, 47 countries have committed to addressing deficiencies in their tax systems and to meet the required criteria, following contacts with the EU. This unprecedented exercise should raise the level of tax good governance globally and help prevent the large-scale tax abuse exposed in recent scandals such as the "Paradise Papers". Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: "The adoption of the first ever EU blacklist of tax havens marks a key victory for transparency and fairness. But the process does not stop here. We must intensify the pressure on listed countries to change their ways. Blacklisted jurisdictions must face consequences in the form of dissuasive sanctions, while those that have made commitments must follow up on them quickly and credibly. There must be no naivety: promises must be turned into actions. No one must get a free pass." The idea of an EU list was originally conceived by the Commission and subsequently taken forward by Member States. Compilation of the list has prompted active engagement from many of the EU's international partners. However, work must now continue as 47 more countries should meet EU criteria by the end of 2018, or 2019 for developing countries without financial centres, to avoid being listed. The Commission also expects Member States to continue towards strong and dissuasive countermeasures for listed jurisdictions which can complement the existing EU-level defensive measures related to funding. The EU listing process is a dynamic one, which will continue into 2018: As a first step, a letter will be sent to all jurisdictions on the EU list, explaining the decision and what they can do to be de-listed. The Commission and Member States (in the Code of Conduct Group) will continue to monitor all jurisdictions closely, to ensure that commitments are fulfilled and to determine whether any other countries should be listed in the future. A first interim progress report should be published by mid-2018. The EU list will be updated at least once a year. The 17 blacklisted territories are: American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macau, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates. ^ top ^

1200 North Korean workers to leave Mongolia as UN sanctions bite (Gogo Mongolia)
2017-12-04
UN Security Council has ordered nations to stop providing guest worker permits to North Koreans after Pyongyang detonated its most powerful nuclear bomb. North Koreans have toiled and slept at construction sites in Mongolia, they have operated cashmere sewing machines, and their acupuncture skills are highly prized in one of the few democracies employing them. But the nearly 1,200 North Koreans living in the country wedged between Russia and China must now pack their bags as Mongolia enforces tough United Nations sanctions severely curbing trade with Pyongyang. The UN estimated in September that 100,000 North Koreans work abroad and send some $500 million in wages back to the authoritarian regime each year. But the UN Security Council ordered nations to stop providing guest worker permits to North Koreans after Pyongyang detonated its most powerful nuclear bomb. The US is now pushing for more sanctions after the regime tested another intercontinental ballistic missile in late November. North Koreans have to leave Mongolia by the end of the year as their one-year work authorisations will not be renewed, the labour ministry said. "Private entities will not be able to offer new contracts due to the UN resolution. Mongolia has been following every part of the resolution," Shijeekhuugiin Odonbaatar, a Mongolian foreign ministry official, said. The number of North Koreans working in Mongolia has dropped every year since peaking at 2,123 in 2013. There were 1,190 North Koreans employed in the vast country of three million people as of November – often under murky work and living conditions. Most of the North Koreans who work abroad are in China and Russia, but they have also been found elsewhere in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Across the world, they work 12-hour to 16-hour days, with only one or two days off per month. The North Korean government takes between 70 and 90 per cent of their monthly wages, which range from US$300 to US$1,000, according to the US State Department. But their days abroad are numbered. In Mongolia, construction companies have hired North Koreans for their reputation for working long hours without complaint. They live in toolsheds of construction sites or in the basements of flat projects. They never take time off or even leave the construction sites as they are not allowed to wander in the city on their own. In September, a 27-year-old North Korean worker died after falling from a flat in a residential complex under construction in Ulan Bator. A South Korean Christian activist who has sought to help North Koreans said he wished that Mongolians would do more for those who work in poor conditions. ^ top ^

China appreciates Mongolia's commitment to one-China policy (Xinhua)
2017-12-04
China appreciates Mongolia's reiteration that it will adhere to the one-China policy and respect China's core interests and major concerns related to Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday. Wang made the remarks here during talks with visiting Mongolian Foreign Minister Damdin Tsogtbaatar. "China and Mongolia are friendly neighbors," Wang said. "The new Mongolian government has sent a clear message to the Chinese side on maintaining mutual trust and properly handling sensitive issues, and the country has expressed a strong desire to deepen cooperation with China." Wang said China welcomed Mongolia's attitude and believed bilateral ties would continue in the right direction. He said China would always respect Mongolia's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and the Mongolian people's choice of development pattern. "The Mongolian side's declaration is very important. It has increased the two sides' mutual trust," Wang said, emphasizing that trust was a key factor to ensuring healthy and stable China-Mongolia relations. Tsogtbaatar said the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China had "outlined a blueprint for China's future development and set the goal to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, as well as making an important contribution to world development that would bring opportunities to neighboring countries." He said Mongolia "firmly adheres to the one-China policy and maintains Tibet and Taiwan are inalienable parts of the Chinese territory. Mongolia is willing to promote the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries to a new high on the basis of respecting each other's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and core interests." During the talks, both sides agreed to enhance exchanges at all levels and keep the current momentum in high-level exchanges. Both sides agreed to coordinate the Belt and Road Initiative with Mongolia's Prairie Road development initiative, build a cross-border economic cooperation zone and begin feasibility research for a China-Mongolia free trade agreement. China will continue to support the Mongolian side to overcome economic difficulties with free assistance and loans programs. Both sides agreed to facilitate people-to-people exchanges in culture, education, technology, sports, tourism and among the young people, and to convene the first meeting of a joint committee on China-Mongolia people-to-people exchanges as soon as possible. Both sides agreed to push forward the construction of the China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor. Later in the day, Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi also met with Tsogtbaatar. Briefing the Mongolian Foreign Minister on the 19th National Congress of the CPC, Yang called on both sides to "respect each other's core interests and major concerns and deepen mutual political trust." He said China and Mongolia should "seize the opportunities derived from the Belt and Road Initiative to strengthen bilateral ties and benefit people of both sides." Expressing his congratulations on the success of the 19th CPC National Congress, Tsogtbaatar said his country stood ready to boost the two countries' comprehensive strategic partnership. ^ top ^

 

Julia Tran
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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