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

Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine

Press review, if not selected: all SinOptic
  17-23.1.15, No. 557  
    Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

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Switzerland

Premier Li arrives in Switzerland for Davos forum, working visit (Xinhua)
2015-01-20
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived here Tuesday to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos and pay a working visit to Switzerland. Li is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the annual meeting, meet representatives of the International Business Council of the forum and hold talks with Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman, during his three-day trip. He will also meet President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga. Upon his arrival, Li said that the WEF, which is dedicated to promoting international dialogue and communication, building consensus and discussing how to address global challenges, has been playing an important role in pushing forward the development of the global governance system. The Chinese premier expected to have an in-depth exchange of views with participants on the topics of world economy, international and regional situations, China's reform, opening up and economic development, as well as other hot issues of common concern. "We can make joint efforts in maintaining world peace and stability and promoting the world economy to grow in a strong, sustainable and balanced manner," Li said. The premier's visit came as China and Switzerland are set to celebrate the 65th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. Bilateral trade grew by 126 percent year-on-year to hit nearly 60 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, when they inked a free trade agreement (FTA), the first such pact signed between China and a country in continental Europe. […] Li said he is expecting to exchange views with Swiss leaders on bilateral ties and issues of common concern to consolidate the traditional friendship, expand and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and make their FTA more fruitful to benefit the two peoples, adding that financial cooperation should become the new highlight of overall bilateral cooperation. The two countries are set to sign a series of cooperation deals in finance, people-to-people exchanges and scientific research during Li's stay in Switzerland, China's fifth-largest trade partner in Europe. […] ^ top ^

China offers Switzerland 8-bln-USD QFII quota (Xinhua)
2015-01-22
China has agreed to give Switzerland an 8-billion-U.S.-dollar investment quota under its Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) program. The agreement is part of a memorandum of understanding signed by the central banks of the two countries here on Wednesday, which also includes a plan -- pending regulators' approval -- to set up the first branch of a Chinese bank in the Swiss financial hub of Zurich for future RMB clearance. The deal is set to materialize Beijing and Bern's pledge for closer financial ties and accelerate the establishment of a Zurich offshore RMB market, which will mark a crucial step in the internationalization of the RMB, especially in Europe. The signing came after visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met in this ski resort with President Simonetta Sommaruga of the Swiss Confederation on the sidelines of the 2015 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). As the RMB, also known as yuan, is rapidly gaining traction in international transactions, China has established offshore RMB markets in Hong Kong and London, among other places. In July last year, Chinese and Swiss central banks signed a bilateral currency swap agreement worth 150 billion yuan (24 billion dollars) in a bid to provide liquidity support for bilateral trade and economic cooperation. Li is attending the WEF meeting in Davos and paying a working visit to Switzerland, his second trip to the Alpine country since he took office in 2013. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Switzerland. The Chinese foreign ministry said earlier that Li's visit is in part aimed at reaping the "dividend" of the free trade agreement between the two countries, which took effect in July 2014. Switzerland, famous for its precision instruments and pharmaceuticals, was the first among the world's top 20 economies to reach a free trade deal with China. ^ top ^

 

World Economic Forum

Interview: Li's presence at Davos forum to bolster int'l confidence in Chinese economy: envoy (Xinhua)
2015-01-18
The WEF meeting, scheduled for Jan. 21-24 in Davos, Switzerland, will explore solutions to major global challenges under the theme "The New Global Context". Over 2,500 participants from more than 140 countries representing governments, international organizations, businesses, academia, civil society and the media are expected to attend this year's meeting. According to the WEF, more than 40 heads of state and government will participate in the four-day meeting featuring 280 sessions and workshops. Wu Hailong, China's ambassador to the United Nations Office in Geneva, told Xinhua in a recent interview that China always attaches great importance to the annual meeting. He said that in 2010, Li attended the annual meeting in his then capacity as vice premier, adding that it will be not only Li's second attendance to the gathering of global elites this year, but also a major diplomatic activity for a Chinese leader since the beginning of 2015. During the forum, Wu noted, the Chinese premier is expected to share his views on the international situation and the current state of global economy, as well as possible solutions to challenges. Li will also expound China's domestic and foreign policies, respond to other countries' concerns on China, and boost the international community's confidence in the prospects of the Chinese economy, he said. The ambassador stressed that the international community is paying close attention to China's development, including its economic prospects and ensuing global influence, the Chinese economy's "new normal" and comprehensively deepening reforms, as well as the trend of Chinese foreign polices. Meanwhile, people around the world are closely watching China's response to various global challenges, in particular its role in promoting international economic cooperation and its contribution in that respect, he said. Speaking of this year's Davos forum theme, he said that amid ongoing significant and rapid changes in the world's political, economic, social and technological aspects, there is a close link between China's development and "The New Global Context", since the country is getting closer and closer with the world. […] With its recent proposals and initiatives on global economy, hot-spot issues and global governance, China will make positive contribution to the world's response to "The New Global Context", Wu added. ^ top ^

Davos explores economic solution (China Daily)
2015-01-19
Klaus Schwab has long been optimistic that China is on the right path. But as the country enters what many are calling a new normal of medium growth, the 76-year-old founder of the World Economic Forum thinks Premier Li Keqiang needs to let the world know that China will continue to drive the global economy. […] "With sluggish global economic development, we can't assume that China will remain unaffected. It will be crucial to find ways to "unlock China's growth potential in a balanced and sustainable way", he said. For China and the world, it is paramount that the country's economy remain stable and continue to grow. "I applaud the efforts the Chinese leadership is undertaking in this regard. The transition from mass production to innovation-driven growth is underway, but challenges remain." "We are confronted by profound political, economic, social and, above all, technological transformations. They are altering long-standing assumptions about our prospects, resulting in entirely new parameters for decision-making." Because this is a global phenomenon, China will not be spared from those challenges, economic or otherwise. Schwab expects China's leadership will have to further strengthen social inclusion and work on mitigating the risks of fast economic growth and urbanization. Switzerland and China have signed a free trade agreement and Schwab said he welcomes this step toward economic integration and the promotion of free trade. While limited in size, Switzerland can be a good partner to help Chinese businesses make the transition from exporting mass goods to creating more value through high-end goods by emphasizing innovation, research and development, he said. "Switzerland, in turn, will benefit from better access to China's fast-growing middle class." Schwab also said China and the EU should act faster to forge free trade ties. […] Schwab said the Davos meeting will be a perfect venue for exploring opportunities for strengthening Sino-European trade and a round-table will be organized for trade ministers to discuss existing hurdles to free trade. "In addition, we have invited the World Trade Organization to present its latest findings to our participants." […] China's leadership has set itself an ambitious agenda, he said. The country, with its economic importance and political clout, must play a role in preventing conflict, protecting the climate and creating stronger global growth. This can only be achieved through collaboration, he said. "But despite all the challenges, it is possible. I've learned that those who are pessimistic about China's development and course are usually proven wrong." ^ top ^

China pledges active, constructive role in solving Ukraine crisis (Xinhua)
2015-01-22
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko here on Wednesday that Beijing stands for a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis and will continue to play an active and constructive role in such efforts. China adheres to an objective and just stand on the Ukraine issue, said Li when meeting with the Ukrainian leader on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort. It is the common aspiration of people across the world for peace while against war, for development while against poverty, and for cooperation while against confrontation, he said. […] Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China and Ukraine have respected and treated each other equally, and their cooperation has achieved fruitful results, said Li. China will always respect the national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and support the Eastern European nation to adopt a path of development in accordance with its national conditions, he added. China, he said, will continue to carry out pragmatic cooperation with the Ukrainian side on the basis of win-win and mutual benefit. For his part, Poroshenko said his government attaches great importance to its relations with China and is willing to maintain cooperation with the Asian country. The Ukrainian side, he said, hopes that China would play a more active role in the political settlement of the Ukraine issue. […] ^ top ^

Chinese economy not to suffer hard landing: premier (Xinhua)
2015-01-22
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Wednesday that the world's second largest economy is not heading for a hard landing. As the Chinese economy has entered a state of new normal, the shift of growth gear from high speed to medium-to-high speed reflects the profound adjustment of the world economy, and is consistent with the law of economics, Li said in a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting. In 2015, China plans to withstand downward pressure and continue with its strategic focus, added the premier. "We will continue to pursue a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy," Li said. "We will step up anticipatory adjustment and fine-tuning as well as targeted macro-regulation, in order to stabilize economic growth, upgrade its structure and achieve better quality and performance." For the Chinese economy to maintain medium-to-high speed of growth and achieve medium-to-high level of development, Li said, China must properly use the hand of the government and the hand of the market, and give full scope to both the traditional and new engines of growth. "To foster a new engine of growth," Li said, "we need to encourage mass entrepreneurship and innovation, and mobilize the wisdom and power of the people." "To transform the traditional engine of growth, we need to focus on increasing the supply of public goods and services, and strengthening the weak link of the economy," the premier said. China, he added, will continue to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and open up its service sector, central and western regions as well as the capital market wider to the outside world. "China will encourage its companies to explore the international market, and work for common development with other countries through greater openness towards each other," Li said. Li arrived here Tuesday for the WEF gathering in this ski resort and a working visit to Switzerland. This year's WEF winter meeting, which opened Wednesday, will run till Saturday under the overarching theme "The New Global Context." Over 2,500 participants from across the world are expected to attend the event and exchange views on a wide range of issues, including global economy, environmental protection and non-conventional security. ^ top ^

Chinese premier pledges deepened reform, wider opening-up (Xinhua)
2015-01-22
Premier Li Keqiang vowed here on Wednesday to advance China's comprehensive reform and open the country wider to foreign investors. Li made the pledge when meeting with representatives of the International Business Council of the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, the Swiss mountain resort. […] He promised that China will carry out deeper and wider reform in its administrative approval system to stimulate market vitality and create a better environment for fair competition. China, Li said, will also promote the development of inclusive finance, develop multi-level capital market, support small and medium-sized banks and private banks, and lower the corporate leverage gradually through the development of the capital market and direct financing. China will advance its ongoing reform in fiscal, tax and key financial areas, Li pledged, adding that his country is to further relax foreign investment access and open its service industry wider to the outside world. "China welcomes foreign investors," Li stressed. […] ^ top ^

Li reassures investors of China's property market (Xinhua)
2015-01-22
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of a systematic financial risk in China, saying the recent fluctuations in its real estate market were normal. Li said so when meeting with representatives of the International Business Council of the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos. Adjustments in China's real estate market in a certain period are "normal," Li said, citing reasons including the country's steady urbanization drive which will unlock huge housing potential, and its deepening efforts in rebuilding the sprawling and dilapidated shantytowns. "The hard housing demand in China's property market will be durative," Li reassured. "It will drive the development of related industries and product supply." Li was commenting on the slowdown seen in China's once-sizzling property market since the beginning of last year, which has triggered concerns about a burst of the real estate bubble in the country. During a State Council meeting in last October, Li vowed to stabilize housing consumption, improve affordable housing projects and relax lending rules, indicating that the government is loosening its grip on property market policies. In Davos, Li also said that the Chinese government attaches great importance to shadow banking and has taken related measures to put the problem under its supervision. "The Chinese government is capable of ensuring that no regional or systematic financial risks will happen in the country," he stressed. Over 2,500 participants from more than 140 countries, regions, international organizations, academia, the civil society and media are attending this year's WEF winter meeting, which is convened under the theme "The New Global Context." ^ top ^

China vows to cut fossil fuel in painstaking energy revolution (Xinhua)
2015-01-22
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged here on Wednesday to reduce the proportion of fossil fuel in China's total energy mix and promote clean technology. This marks the latest effort of the world's most populous country in its uphill battle against air pollution and climate change. When meeting with representatives of the International Business Council of the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, Li said China has pledged to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030, which means that painstaking efforts must be made by the developing country with a population of 1.3 billion. China will endeavor to lower the proportion of fossil fuel, especially the coal, in the country's total energy consumption, Li pledged. He also said China will promote clean coal technology, calling on the developed countries to export more such technology and products to China. The Chinese premier reiterated the principle of common but differentiated responsibility in the battle against climate change. "We will spare no efforts to pursue low-carbon development," he added. This year's WEF winter meeting is held in Davos from Wednesday to Saturday under the theme "The New Global Context." ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Chinese FM's Africa visit strengthens ties, cooperation (Global Times)
2015-01-18
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wrapped up his week-long Africa tour on Friday, which has taken him to Kenya, Sudan, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo). The visit is to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation between China and African countries in areas such as politics, economy and security, Wang told reporters in Kinshasa, capital of DR Congo, the last leg of his Africa trip. Africa hosts most of the developing countries, and China-Africa cooperation is an essential part of South-South cooperation, he said. "China is willing to transform the traditional friendship between China and Africa into impetus for common development, and to work with African countries to convert their potential in human and natural resources into economic strengths," he added. […] Wang said that China cherishes the sincere friendship with Africa, and is willing to work with African countries to pursue common benefits, realize win-win results and achieve common development. During his first stop in Kenya, Wang stressed that the sides will further promote cooperation in seven priority areas, including agricultural modernization, infrastructure development and renewable energy, so as to deepen bilateral relations and practical cooperation. In Cameroon, the foreign minister said China will continue to enhance political mutual trust with Cameroon and boost win-win cooperation on the basis of the development needs of Cameroon and the ability of China. China will further promote cooperation with Equatorial Guinea in energy and other fields and create more win-win achievements, Wang said when visiting the country. In DR Congo, Wang said China is willing to work with the country to support each other politically, achieve win-win outcomes economically and deepen security cooperation. […] Besides strengthening political ties and economic cooperation, another highlight of Wang's Africa visit is China's support for the efforts of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) to promote reconciliation and realize peace and stability in South Sudan. The Chinese foreign minister held a consultation with the IGAD and the conflicting parties of South Sudan on Monday in Khartoum, capital of Sudan, during his visit to the country. […] ^ top ^

China rejects cyber-espionage allegations (Xinhua)
2015-01-19
China on Monday described allegations that its spies stole key information on the F-35 Lightening II fighter jet as "groundless and unproven." Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a daily press briefing in response to a report in German magazine Der Spiegel, which cited documents disclosed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, that Chinese cyber spies stole "huge volumes" of sensitive military information relating to the plane. "The allegations are totally groundless and unproven," said Hong. China has been the victim of cyber-attacks and cyber security is a common challenge of every country, Hong said. He said it was extremely difficult to confirm the sources of cyber-attacks as they usually involved several countries and were hard to backtrack. "I don't know what proof they hold to back up their accusations," said Hong. "We, on the other hand, do have documents that show a certain country has a dishonorable record on cyber security," the spokesman said. He called for an end to finger pointing and urged nations to fight cyber hacking together. ^ top ^

China dismisses report that hundreds of its citizens are trapped in fighting in Myanmar (SCMP)
2015-01-19
China's embassy in Myanmar says reports that hundreds of Chinese citizens are trapped in the north of the country, caught up in fighting between government troops and ethnic rebels, are untrue. Officials from a taskforce from the embassy who arrived in Myitkyina on Monday, the capital of Kachin state, told national television in China that the reports were unfounded. An unnamed intelligence official with ethnic-Kachin rebels told the state-run Global Times newspaper in China that hundreds of Chinese citizens, including jade dealers, gold miners and lumberjacks were among 2,000 civilians trapped in the region during fighting. The embassy said it had not been contacted by any Chinese citizens or their families saying they were in danger, the report said. Meanwhile, another group of officials from the embassy are due to visit Chinese workers on Tuesday after they were detained earlier this month for illegal logging in Kachin state and will “provide consular assistance”, the state television report said. Some 146 people, including 126 Chinese citizens, were arrested in raids on illegal logging operations that began on January 4 in Kachin, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported, citing official media in Myanmar. ^ top ^

Potential Pope, Dalai Lama meeting could harm Sino-Vatican ties (Global Times)
2015-01-22
China on Wednesday urged the Vatican to take tangible steps to better ties, after Pope Francis sent his greetings to Chinese President Xi Jinping while denying that he had turned down a meeting with the Dalai Lama. "China is always sincere in improving ties with the Vatican and has been making efforts to this end. We are willing to have constructive dialogue with the Vatican," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying at a Wednesday press briefing in response to a question about the telegram. Religious experts believed the pontiff's greetings, a follow-up to two 2014 letters, are another encouraging sign of improving Sino-Vatican ties, but worried the possibility of a meeting with the Dalai Lama might be a setback to bilateral relations. "I assure you of my prayers for you and the people of China, invoking abundant blessings of harmony and prosperity," read a telegram sent by the pontiff to Xi as the Pope returned to the Vatican from Manila on Monday, AFP reported. He sent two greetings to Xi when he went to and returned from South Korea in August 2014. Meanwhile, the Pope left the door open to a future meeting with the Dalai Lama. "Some newspapers said that I did not meet with him out of fear of China. This is not true … A date has been fixed. But not for the moment. We are in contact," the pontiff was quoted by AFP as saying on Tuesday. An earlier Reuters report said that the pontiff denied in December 2014 a private audience to the Dalai Lama because it could harm the Holy See's already fraught relations with China. The Dalai Lama was in Rome at that time for a summit of Nobel Peace Prize recipients. "His two [different] remarks in one day reflect his ambivalence [toward China] … His audience with Dalai Lama alone will definitely be seen as a step backward for bilateral relations," Xu Yihua, a professor with the Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times Wednesday. The "stick and carrot" approach is not a proper conduct for a religious leader, Yan Kejia, director of the Institute of Religious Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Wednesday. "China's mild reaction leaves more leeway for the Vatican to negotiate with China in the future," Yan said. China has on several occasions asked the Vatican to stop interfering in China's internal affairs in the name of religion, setting this as one of the conditions for the Vatican to improve relations with China. ^ top ^

Speech shows 'US ambition to dominate world' (Global Times)
2015-01-22
Analysts on Wednesday hit back at US President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, saying that China has never sought to be the rule maker, and the statement reflects a US ambition to pursue world domination. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday the US, not China, must write trade rules for Asia, and called on Congress to give the White House a freer hand to close trade deals as he delivered his annual State of the Union address. "But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world's fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field," Obama said. "Obama's address indicates that the US still wants to dominate the world. They worry that China's fast development will challenge the status of the US," Zha Xiaogang, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times Wednesday. Rather than becoming the rule maker, China is more interested in developing an economy that aims at creating mutual benefits, Zha said. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a media briefing on Wednesday that China has always followed the win-win principle in economic cooperation with other countries, including the US. China wishes all parties to work together to create a fair, open and transparent environment for economic cooperation as well as to contribute to the improvement of world trade rules, Hua said. Obama, who is pushing to overcome resistance to so-called fast-track authority from within his own party as well as conservative Republicans, said that if China prevailed, US workers and businesses would be at a disadvantage. "That's why I'm asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren't just free, but fair," he said. China is not included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the US is negotiating with 11 other trading partners, which aims to set common standards on issues such as workers' rights and the environment as well as lower trade barriers. China is pushing for faster progress toward a trade pact with the wider Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) bloc. […] ^ top ^

China urges U.S. to be impartial in South China Sea (Xinhua)
2015-01-22
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Thursday urged non-parties to stick to an objective and impartial stance over the South China Sea issue. Non-parties should contribute to mutual trust, cooperation, regional peace and stability instead of sowing discord or fanning flames, said spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a routine press briefing. Hua's remarks came after U.S. assistant secretary of state Daniel Russel on Wednesday said that "bigger nations can't bully the small" in the South China Sea. China has always stood for equality of all countries, big and small, said Hua. Bigger countries should not bully the small, and the small should not make trouble out of nothing, she stressed. Countries are equal not only in their rights but also in abiding by international rules, said the spokeswoman. China has repeatedly expounded its position in the South China Sea, Hua said, stressing the country has always sought peaceful settlement of territorial and maritime disputes through dialogue and consultation. She urged parties concerned to take practical actions to implement the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to safeguard regional peace and stability. The DOC was signed in 2002 between China and the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including the Philippines. ^ top ^

China, Japan hold high-level talks over maritime issues (Xinhua)
2015-01-22
China and Japan held their third round of high-level negotiations over maritime issue in Yokohama on Thursday and agreed to launch at an early time the bilateral contact mechanism over air and maritime issues involving their defense organs. Yi Xianliang, vice chief of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, headed the Chinese delegation, while deputy Director-General Makita Shimokawa of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau at the Japanese Foreign Ministry represented the Japanese side and the talks also covered other government branches from both sides. The two sides agreed to continue cooperating over cracking down maritime crimes like smuggling and to establish a dialogue channel between both sides' coast guard headquarters. China and Japan also achieved the agreement to intensify dialogue on maritime policies and laws under the mechanism and will enhance maritime cooperation in fields such as searching and rescue, science and environment. The two sides also agreed to hold the fourth round talks of the mechanism in China in the second half of this year. The bilateral high-level talks over maritime issues formed in January 2012 and the first talks was held in Hangzhou in China in May 2012. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Xi calls out military corruption, forbids 'non-salary income' (Global Times)
2015-01-19
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech over the weekend targeting corruption among high-ranking military officers that any income other than their salaries is strictly forbidden, after the People's Liberation Army (PLA) announced investigation on 16 senior military officials. In an editorial released Saturday in the PLA Daily, Xi was quoted as saying in an important military meeting that military officers can only rely on their salaries for income. Any unapproved income or illegal gains will be investigated and punished. The editorial emphasized that Xi, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), was targeting senior military officers in his speech, which came during a deepening crackdown on corruption within the army. "The fight against corruption begun in 2012 is not a selective investigation of a few corrupt officials, but rather a campaign to uphold the rule of law and to eliminate the root causes of corruption," read the Saturday editorial, adding that the real solution to prevent corruption is to institutionalize anti-graft efforts and public monitoring. The editorial also said that achieving real results in the crackdown will require the military to create a "new norm" in which military officers are no longer interested in taking bribes. CMC Vice-Chairman General Xu Qiliang said Wednesday that senior officers within the PLA would be among the key targets of the ongoing crackdown. Liu Zheng, deputy head of the PLA General Logistics Department, became the latest senior military officer to come under investigation. Liu was on the list released on Thursday revealing 16 senior military officers who were investigated for corruption in 2014, which was seen as a move to institutionalize the anti-graft efforts by increasing transparency. ^ top ^

China toughens controls on illegal guns and explosives ahead of Lunar New Year (SCMP)
2015-01-20
China's police are cracking down on illegal guns and explosives ahead of the Lunar New Year festival and the annual session of parliament, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported today. The campaign to “eliminate public security risks linked to guns and explosives” was launched yesterday and will run to the end of March, it reported. The possession of guns by private individuals is illegal in China. Lunar New Year is on February 19 this year, while China's parliament, the National People's Congress, meets each year in early March. The Ministry of Public Security said that crime related to guns and explosives fell by 3.6 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, last year. However, online purchases of guns and explosives and their delivery by courier services had become a “prominent issue”, Huang Ming, deputy minister of public security, was reported as saying by Xinhua. In addition to focusing on smuggling and the illegal manufacture and sale of guns and explosives, police will also inspect safety practices in national defence departments where work involves their use. Last April authorities in Guiyang, the capital of the southern province of Guizhou, seized 10,500 guns and 120,000 prohibited knives – China's largest haul of illegal firearms at that time. Fifteen people suspected of being part of a criminal gang involved in the manufacturing and trafficking of firearms – with a distribution network stretching to 30 provinces, including Hunan, Guangdong and Sichuan – were arrested, China Central Television reported. ^ top ^

China to strengthen ideological work in colleges (Xinhua)
2015-01-19
China has issued a guideline on the ideological work in colleges, which underscored their role as facilitators on the frontline of championing the concepts of Marxism, Chinese Dream, socialist core values and traditional culture. Issued by the General Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council, the guideline highlighted that the ideological work in colleges is "a strategic project that can consolidate the foundation [of values] and shape spirit." The guideline said the ideological work should follow the Party's leadership. The ideological and political work should be enhanced at the faculty-level, with socialism with Chinese characteristics underlying teaching methods, according to the guideline. Colleges were urged to closely manage their ideological and publicity teams and further strengthen cyber security. In addition, classroom discipline was highlighted as an area for attention, and the guideline called for regulations to guide classroom discipline. Systems that approve and supervise students' associations should also be established, the guideline said, adding that religious studies and anti-cult awareness should be also be developed. ^ top ^

China's draft anti-terrorism laws a 'licence to commit human rights abuses' (SCMP)
2015-01-20
The US-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch on Tuesday urged China to revise draft legislation aimed at combating terrorism, saying it was little more than a licence to commit human rights abuses. The law, which was made public for consultation last November, would establish a new counter-terrorism body that would have the power to designate organisations and their members as terrorists without any protection through due legal process. The draft's definition of terrorism includes thought, speech or behaviour that attempt to subvert state power, incite ethnic hatred or split the state. Subversion and “splittism” are catch-all charges that have been used against dissidents. Human Rights Watch China director Sophie Richardson called for the draft law to be brought in line with international legal standards. “The Chinese government needs to respect rights, not build a new architecture of surveillance,” Richardson said in a statement. The law would require all telecommunications and internet service providers to help the government in preventing the spread of terrorism-related content. Public areas would be fitted with facial recognition equipment, a system that “could easily be abused for personal or political ends”, Human Rights Watch said. China's government has stressed that the nation is facing a serious and complex struggle against terrorism. Hundreds of people have been killed over the past two years in the far western region of Xinjiang in unrest the government has blamed on Islamists who want to establish a separate state called East Turkestan. China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed inquiry for comment. Rights groups and exiles say the government's repressive policies are fuelling resentment among the Muslim Uygur people who call Xinjiang home. ^ top ^

China's population grows to 1.37 billion (China Daily)
2015-01-20
The population of the Chinese mainland stood at 1.37 billion by the end of 2014, an increase of 0.52 percent or 7.1 million on the previous year, the National Bureau of Statistics said. Women make up 70.08 million of the population and men 66.70 million. China's gender ratio stood at 115.88 newborn boys for every 100 baby girls. ^ top ^

Xi asks Party to support independent judiciary (Xinhua)
2015-01-20
President Xi Jinping has ordered Party departments to support judges and prosecutors to exercise their duties independently. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks in a written instruction on political and legal work. The central conference on political and legal work was convened in Beijing Tuesday. Party committees at all levels should set an example of abiding by the law, he wrote. They should enable law enforcement agencies and judicial departments to work independently according to the Constitution and laws and "create a favorable environment" for them to do so, he wrote. Meanwhile, the president noted that party committees should improve their leadership in judicial affairs, appointing qualified officials to take the lead, raising their political awareness and ensuring their integrity. Officials in law enforcement agencies and judicial departments should be loyal to the Party, to the state and the people, he wrote. The president stressed management and supervision of the police and ordered them to strictly follow Party discipline. He also strongly warned officials in law enforcement agencies and judicial departments against using public power for personal interest and other misconduct. Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, delivered Xi's instruction to the meeting. A statement issued after the meeting said officials will try to be more proactive, law-abiding, efficient and open while using more information technology in their work. They pledged to advance the judicial reform, identify and control social security risks. An October CPC session outlined legal reform that stressed the supreme authority of the Constitution and promised wide ranging changes to the judicial system. The plan includes ensuring the independence of courts and prosecutors, and rules to control intervention in court cases by senior officials. ^ top ^

Chinese civil servants to get pay rise, with some seeing their salaries double or even triple (SCMP)
2015-01-21
Salaries for mainland civil servants and public interest organisation workers will double and even triple in some cases to offset the rising cost of pensions. In some cases, "duty salaries" - one of various components in civil service remuneration packages - will increase by up to 50 per cent, while "post-rank salaries" will almost triple, the Economic Observer reported, citing a State Council directive that was issued last week. Civil servants in the lowest ranks will see their duty salaries rise from 340 yuan (HK$430) to 510 yuan and post-rank salaries rise from 290 to 810 yuan. Those in the highest ranks - including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang - will see the two salary components rise from 4,000 yuan to 5,250 yuan, and from 3,020 yuan to 6,135 yuan, respectively, the report said. Besides these two salary components, a mainland civil servant's remuneration package usually includes a dozen others, such as position compensation and subsidies for cars, housing and meals. The rises - which will be backdated to October 1 - would also cover staff at public interest organisations such as hospitals and schools, as well as those retired from such organisations and government agencies, Hu Xiaoyi, vice-minister of human resources and social security, said on Monday. Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po said some public interest organisation staff would have their overall pay doubled from the same date. The maximum pay for skilled workers and managers would increase from around 5,400 yuan to 9,600 yuan, and the maximum for general workers would rise from about 1,700 to 3,500 yuan, the newspaper said. Hu said the rises were to offset rising costs for civil servants and public institution staff after reforms to their pensions that were also being backdated to October. Last week, the ministry announced that these workers would have to start paying into a pension scheme, along with contributions from their employers. Professor Liu Xutao, from the Chinese Academy of Governance, said considering the pension reform, the real rises in income would be much smaller than those announced. […]. ^ top ^

China Daily accused of faking an editorial it said was written by a US journalist (SCMP)
2015-01-21
A New Yorker journalist famed for his reporting from China has written that the state-run newspaper China Daily faked an editorial under his byline after interviewing him. Peter Hessler said on Facebook yesterday that he did not write the piece posted on China Daily's website a day earlier entitled "US observer: Comparing Egypt with China". His words were taken out of context, he said. Hessler wrote that the China Daily reporter had asked him to compare China with Egypt. Hessler, who was formerly based in China, now reports from Egypt. The resulting editorial repeats Communist Party talking points, lauding China's stability and education system, and suggesting any changes in China were "likely to be subtle, incremental, and coming from the top". After living in Egypt, the editorial reads, "I think I have a better understanding of how essentially stable the Chinese system is". The article continues: "It reminds me that in China, even in a tiny village, there was a great deal of government activity. The villagers were very clearly connected to the larger political systems and issues of the country." Hessler, however, wrote on Facebook that he was asked mainly about his reflections on the past year and that the piece misrepresented his larger points. "It omitted crucial parts, including the most important point: that I believe it's harder to make a political change in China, where the system is deeper rooted than in Egypt, and thus the flaws are also more deeply rooted," Hessler wrote. […] A China Daily editor said she did not have details about the dispute, but that she would make inquiries. The newspaper removed the online piece in English, but it remains available in Chinese. Hessler wrote on Facebook that he asked China Daily for a retraction, but that the paper turned down the request. […] ^ top ^

Official pledges transparent, efficient petitioning system (Xinhua)
2015-01-21
The chief of China's petition-handling authority pledged to promote the transparency and efficiency of the country's petitioning system on Wednesday. Shu Xiaoqin, head of the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, made the remarks at a national conference attended by chiefs of local petition-handling authorities. Shu said authorities will embrace the principle of transparency and make the receiving, handling and settlement of petitions public. "Transparency will help promote justice, reduce misgivings and safeguard the petitioners' and the public's right to know, participate, express and supervise," Shu said. The online petitioning system should also be improved to encourage petitioners to file their complaints via the Internet, according to the official. Efforts should be made to ensure that public grievances are solved in a timely manner and to enhance supervision over authorities' work. According to a document issued at Wednesday's meeting, petition-handling authorities across the country in 2014 intensified investigations into cases left unsettled in recent years. The investigation found about 167,000 such cases, and to date about 83 percent of them have been solved, the document said. Shu urged promoting the rule of law to settle complaints and enhance the authority of the petitioning system. "The petitioners' reasonable claims should be properly met. Their unreasonable requests should get proper responses. Petitioners who have difficulties with their livelihood should get proper assistance, and illegal behaviors discovered in the petitions should be handled in accordance with the law," Shu said. ^ top ^

Party to strike at cliques (China Daily)
2015-01-21
China's graft-busters will investigate Party members forming cliques to further curb corruption, according to the Central Committee for Disciplinary Inspection (CCDI). The Communist Party of China (CPC) adopts "zero tolerance" towards cliques and factions within it, Su Jing, senior official under the CCDI's Research Department said on Wednesday adding that Party members must safeguard the authority of the Central government and unity of the Party Some local government officers have held class or fellows' gatherings with the intention of forming factions to help gain promotions in future rather than making friends, she said. In addition, some officials fail to report to the Party that they have sent their spouses and children abroad to operate businesses or study, and make a permanent living. Others, who married, divorced or their family underwent significant changes also failed to report such facts. "Such behavior is considered breaking Party regulations, and once they go further, they are close to involving graft," Su said. Before the new year, the political bureau of the CPC Central Committee held an official meeting presided over by President Xi Jinping and issued a notice saying: "Those who break the Party rules to have a bad work style and extravagant deeds will be severely punished, and their supervisors will also be held accountable". The condemnation of cliques and factions could be considered the latest warning for other officials to avoid the misdeeds of Zhou Yongkang, former security chief; Xu Caihou, former vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and Ling Jihua, former minister of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, as well as other corrupt senior officials. According to a Xinhua news report, the fallen "tigers" – senior officials at bureau level or above alleged to have been involved with corruption - have established close relationships with groups of officials in local governments and among business directors to set up many factions, dubbed " oil clique", " secretary clique" or "shanxi clique". ^ top ^

Xinhua Insight: Xi's Yunnan visit highlights poverty elimination, ethnic solidarity (Xinhua)
2015-01-22
In his first domestic inspection tour in 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping sought to rally support for a "tough battle" against poverty, and to speed up growth in the country's relatively underdeveloped ethnic regions. Speaking in an inspection in southwest China's Yunnan Province that lasted from Jan. 19 to 21, Xi said authorities must accelerate poverty elimination efforts to support the building of a moderately prosperous country. […] "[There is] only five to six years left for us to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, time will not wait for us," Xi said, highlighting that poverty relief was the most arduous task. Authorities must expedite poverty relief work -- with more action than words, he urged, adding that measures must be more effective. Ludian County, which experienced a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in August last year, was the first on the president's inspection agenda. […] "The disaster destroyed your homes, but the [Communist] Party [of China] and the government will help you build more beautiful ones," Xi said. Xi also promised the people that their standard of living would be improved, and the government would continue to increase investment in rural areas and help to raise farmers' incomes. Experts said Xi's Yunnan visit shows the central leadership is increasing its focus on disadvantaged groups in society. […] Despite being the world's second largest economy, China still has 92 million people who still live in poverty. […] Meanwhile, Xi went on to comment that economic development should not come at the cost of the environment, stressing that China should protect its environment in the same way as one "values his own eyes." […] Xi offered four pieces of environmental advice. "We cannot afford to be penny wise and pound foolish, nor catch one and lose another," he said. "We should also not live beyond our means or be more interested in the here and now, while ignoring our long-term interests." […] Xi also called for efforts to facilitate the economic and social development in ethnic regions to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020. […] During his tour, Xi urged the province, which is home to many of China's 56 ethnic groups, to be a model region of ethnic solidarity in the nation. Calling ethnic solidarity a lifeline of people of all ethnic groups, Xi said the system of regional ethnic autonomy should be upheld and enhanced and the education on ethnic solidarity should be promoted. Xi added it should be made a strategic task to build a spiritual home that is shared by all the ethnic groups. ^ top ^

China launches drive vs online extortions (Global Times)
2015-01-22
China will launch a six-month campaign against online extortion, the country's cyberspace regulator said Wednesday. Peng Bo, a deputy director of China's Cyberspace Administration, said at a Wednesday conference that they have been receiving complaints from Chinese netizens about Internet media abusing their publishing and supervision rights, allegedly extorting local governments and enterprises with negative reports. Peng noted that some illegal websites will include "China" or "nation" or national agencies in their website names while some others will pretend to be "civil rights groups" to gain credibility. The campaign will also target public accounts on WeChat or other social media. In late 2014, the popular business news website of the 21st Century Business Herald was found to have received 200 million yuan ($32.1 million) from over 100 listed companies in exchange for squelching negative news. Peng also pointed out that some PR companies are involved in deleting negative posts of their clients by bribing people from commercial websites. […] "It will be one of the main tasks in 2015 to continue cracking down on such operations, in addition to further cleaning up cyberspace." The ministries of public security, industry and information technology as well as the country's top media watchdog will also take part in the campaign. Meanwhile, the cyberspace watchdog will also launch a three-month campaign to monitor its own officials at all levels. "Some officials, working at local cyberspace agencies, were found to have been in cahoots with commercial websites or PR companies," Peng said. […] The administration also encourages whistleblowers on violations, who will get as much as 50,000 yuan as reward. ^ top ^

State procurator says new anti-graft agency on the way (Global Times)
2015-01-23
China's top procuratorial body announced Thursday that it will establish a new anti-graft agency and reform its crime investigation and prevention mechanisms, in an effort to promote China's ongoing anti-graft campaign. The reform plan, which has been approved by the central government, will strengthen the investigation ability and effectiveness of the procurator, Cao Jianming, procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), said at a meeting for national procurators on Wednesday. The new anti-corruption general administration is scheduled to be established in 2015, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Qiu Xueqiang, deputy procurator-general of the SPP, said in an interview with Xinhua in November that the current General Anti-Corruption Administration has some issues that affect its efficiency, including insufficient staff, improper coordination and outdated equipment. The new agency will be headed by a vice-ministerial level member from the SPP procuratorial committee, Qiu said. The current anti-corruption administration under the SPP, established in 1995, is in charge of investigating officials who are involved in bribe-taking and embezzlement. Investigations into top officials are usually carried out first by the Communist Party of China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), which investigates serious violations of Party discipline. Once the CCDI completes its investigation, it transfers all the evidence to prosecutors to file legal charges if it finds an offence has been committed. Wang Jingbo, an anti-corruption expert at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times Thursday that the SPP reform will not affect these investigation proceedings. […] The reform, emphasizing upgrading investigation ability, might empower low-level investigators and require them to report to the SPP directly, which could make them more effective, she said. The SPP also announced on Thursday that China's prosecuting authorities probed 53,043 officials for suspected corruption in the first 11 months of 2014, with 24 at or above ministerial levels, including Zhou Yongkang, former security chief. The total number was an increase of 7 percent compared with the same period in 2013, according to the SPP, without revealing the exact number of prosecutions. ^ top ^

China denies hacking Outlook (Global Times)
2015-01-23
China's Internet regulator has dismissed rumors that Microsoft's Outlook email service was hacked by Chinese authorities as slander by "foreign anti-China forces," the Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday. "The Chinese government safeguards Internet security and opposes any form of cyber attacks. We will investigate and crack down on Internet attacks in China or against the Chinese network in accordance with the law," Jiang Jun, a spokesperson at China's Cyberspace Administration, said on Thursday. The GreatFire.org said on Monday that people using e-mail clients like Outlook, Mozilla's Thunderbird and apps on their phone with the SMTP and IMAP e-mail protocols, which are used to send and receive messages, suffered attacks on Saturday, Reuters reported on Monday. Jiang said GreatFire.org is an anti-China website set up by an overseas anti-China organization, which has long made groundless charges against China. This attack is aimed at deliberately provoking public discontent and criticizing China's cyberspace regulations after the authorities shut down some illegal websites, website columns, and public WeChat accounts, he said. The hack was launched by a "man-in-the-middle," who simulated Outlook.com to send a notice to verify the identities of a few e-mail users. Once the users clicked "continue," their e-mails were stolen by the hackers, Xinhua reported. Since the attack lasted less than an hour, few Chinese e-mail users were affected, Xinhua added. ^ top ^

Foreign VPN service unavailable in China (Global Times)
2015-01-23
Cyber security analysts on Thursday defended China's Internet management after an overseas VPN (virtual private network) company on Wednesday announced some of its users in China have been unable to use the service since an upgrade of the Great Firewall, China's Internet infrastructure. Cyber services should observe the network governance of the country for safety, analysts urged. Astrill claimed in a Wednesday notice that since this year, VPN protocols used on iOS devices, including IPSec, L2TP/IPSec and PPTP, are not accessible in China in almost real-time. An anonymous service support employee said Thursday that only iOS devices were affected while other devices like Macbook worked fine as they use different protocols. "It is because of the Great Firewall upgrade, and unfortunately, we can't tell you the exact time [about how long it will last]," said the employee, adding that the company has other solutions. […] Whether to block VPN services and how to block them are closely related to the country's ability of network governance, Qin An, a cyber security expert at the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy, told the Global Times Thursday. "Authorities apparently cannot ignore those services as they affect our cyberspace sovereignty. For instance, a shortcut has to be blocked since it could be used for some ulterior purposes although it might affect others who use it in a right way," said Qin. A cyber security analyst previously pointed out that companies running a VPN business in China must register with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and unregistered VPN service providers are not protected by Chinese laws. A free VPN provider fqrouter also said on its official Twitter account on January 8 that the service of fqrouter has officially closed. Separately, VPN Tech Runo announced on January 5 that many of its IP addresses and users in some areas with L2TP protocol have not been accessible in China since December 31. "The Great Firewall is blocking the VPN on the protocol level. It means that the firewall does not need to identify each VPN provider and block its IP addresses. Rather, it can spot VPN traffic during transit and block it," one of the founders of an overseas website which monitors the Internet in China told the Global Times Thursday via e-mail. […] ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing's "southern water" safe and clear (Xinhua)
2015-01-22
Beijing's tap water has passed daily tests since last month, when a massive project drove water from a south China river into the Chinese capital, Beijing's water supplier said. Water from a tributary of the Yangtze River has flowed about 1,200 km to Beijing since Dec. 27 as part of a south-to-north water diversion project to quench China's drought-hit north. Beijing Waterworks Group said testing facilities have been installed at 159 sites across Beijing, and tests have been conducted twice a day. So far, the city's tap water has met national standards, said Liang Li, spokeswoman of the group. The project delivers 800,000 cubic meters of water to Beijing each day, up from 700,000 when the supply began, according to Liang. Residents have praised the influx of "southern water" for clearer tap water. Beijing's water supply previously relied heavily on groundwater with high calcium and magnesium content that irritated residents by clogging showerheads and stiffening laundry. "Tap water has become clearer. Even my tea-loving parents say tea brewed with tap water tastes better," said Yang Yufei, who lives in Beijing's Fengtai District. With a population of over 20 million, Beijing consumes 3.6 billion cubic meters of water annually, but its water resources per capita are only one-eightieth of the world average. The water project will deliver 9.5 billion cubic meters of water per year to China's northern regions, including the cities of Beijing and Tianjin, and the provinces of Henan and Hebei. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

11 officials punished over Shanghai stampede (Xinhua)
2015-01-21
Eleven officials in Shanghai were punished over the New Year's Eve stampede that left 36 people dead and 49 injured. Four officials -- Zhou Wei, Communist Party chief of Huangpu District, his deputy Peng Song, also district governor, Zhou Zheng, deputy district governor and Huangpu's public security chief and Chen Qi, deputy police chief of the district, were removed from their posts, according the decision of Shanghai municipal authorities. Seven other officials in tourism, public security and urban management, received disciplinary punishments, said the decision announced Wednesday at a press conference. […] It was lack of public security that caused heavy casualties and serious consequences, said an investigation report released at the conference. Inadequate prevention and preparation for the mass activity and poor on-site management should be blamed. […] ^ top ^

Shanghai stampede payouts fall short of families' hopes (SCMP)
2015-01-23
Relatives of Shanghai's New Year's Eve stampede fatalities were divided on Thursday over an official compensation offer of 800,000 yuan (HK$1.01 million) per family. Many said the amount was lower than their lawyers had advised; others demanded that in addition to the payouts officials should meet them to express their condolences in person. Huangpu district authorities announced the payments on Wednesday night, 12 hours after the municipal government released the results of its investigation into the tragedy. The stampede on the Bund left 36 people dead and 49 injured. The Huangpu government said the compensation scheme was "lawful, reasonable, practical, and impartial". It said those injured in the stampede would be awarded payouts depending on the severity of their injuries. Beijing-based lawyer Hao Junbo said the compensation was in line with guidelines from the Supreme People's Court, which stipulates that payouts in such cases should be about 20 times the average annual income of a local resident. But a cousin of Fujian victim Li Xiang said: "Many relatives have said they cannot accept the offer." "The scheme doesn't mention mental injury or parents' support payments," he said, adding that a Shanghai lawyer he consulted had suggested the payouts should be more than 1.5 million yuan. An uncle of Hubei victim Wu Cuixia said the family's lawyers had expected a payout of more than 1.3 million yuan. "We're now seeking ways to negotiate with the government, and preparing for funerals," he said. None of the relatives has threatened to take legal action. Lin Lin, a cousin of Changchun victim Zhan Yang, said families deserved a face-to-face apology from top city government officials. She said of the payout: "The government just gave us this so far. More than 30 lives were lost; they have said nothing to us." Officials in Huangpu district took full blame for what was one of the worst stampedes in China in recent years, but none of the municipal leaders was punished, Wednesday's official announcement into the handling of the tragedy, said. Four top district officials, the party chief, the governor, police chief and his deputy, were fired. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangdong's 'more than 90 corrupt senior officials' tops China's national annual rankings (SCMP)
2015-01-21
More than 90 senior officials were detained on suspicion of corruption in Guangdong province last year - the highest number in the country. With an average of one chief-of-department-level official investigated every four days during the year, Guangdong was ranked top in President Xi Jinping's nationwide anti-corruption campaign. Guangdong party boss Hu Chunhua stressed the need to fully comply with the Central Committee to promote party behaviour and the anti-corruption campaign during the fourth plenary session of the 11thsession of the provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection on Tuesday afternoon. Hu stressed that all levels of the provincial government needed to study Xi's important speeches and unite under the goal of clean governance. The commission said that 37senior officials were now waiting for their cases to be transferred to the relevant judicial authorities. The cadres that are being investigated include Liang Yimin, the former Communist Party secretary of Maoming city, Jiang Zunyu, former secretary of Shenzhen's committee of political and legal affairs, and Wei Likun, the former Yangjiang city chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The provincial commission said that last year it had also closed down and "rectified" 31 private clubs, collected more than 65 million yuan (about HK$82 million) paid out as "red envelope" gifts, and confiscated 30 VIP cards for luxurious clubs, which are alternative kinds of bribes. In all, the province estimated that last year's corruption crackdown had prevented about 1.5billion yuan in bribes being paid to officials. It reported that local discipline inspectors had been ineffective in carrying out their job because of disciplinary problems. Many personnel had been too afraid to offend officials and therefore affect their own performance review, it said. However, local officials were now working alongside higher-level inspectors to ensure that all cases were handled smoothly and efficiently. Last year the provincial commission for discipline inspection also carried out a new round of internal organisation reforms, and increased the supervision of official personnel. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

China clamps on "jihadi migration" at SW border (Xinhua)
2015-01-20
Violence in the name of "jihad" has emerged as a major threat along China's southwestern border, prompting a crack down on illegal immigration since last May, according to China's police authorities. Just two days ago, Chinese police shot dead two illegal immigrants who attacked them with knives in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region that borders Vietnam. Police found five illegal immigrants on Sunday in Pingxiang City, but they resisted capture. Two were shot dead and two others were apprehended at the scene. The other fled but was captured on Monday. It is the instant case following a campaign by the Ministry of Public Security against "jihadi migration", a step for terrorist training abroad in the disguise of religion. To date in the current campaign, local police have busted 262 human smuggling cases, seizing 352 suspects who allegedly organized such activities and 852 suspects who attempted to cross the border illegally. Unlike human smuggling in general terms, such activities in southwestern regions carry obvious features of terrorism. According to local police, most immigrants, influenced by the thoughts of religious extremism, were ready to participate in "jihad" abroad. Based on joint operations among provinces across China and cooperation with southeast Asian countries, several cells have been busted, which has gone someway to contain the rampant situation in the region. The special campaign mainly focuses on three kinds of crime offenders, namely organizers, traffickers, drivers and guides. Police named the East Turkistan Islamic Movement as a key player behind those activities by spreading extremism, organizing "jihad" and providing illegal immigration channels. A source in the police said organizers often planted an ex-convict or an outlaw in a group of immigrants. It was them who urged the rest to wage "jihad" at home when they were inspected or arrested. Sun Xiaoying, an expert on Southeast Asia, said such illegal migration involves more than one country, which means stowaways could be arrested anywhere and sent back. "It was a mission impossible for most people." "And the destination is by no means heaven, males are most likely to end up as 'cannon fodder' on battlefield, young females are deprived of even the slightest human rights, and old, weak, ill ones will be abandoned before they can have a look at the organization," Sun said. ^ top ^

Xinjiang official calls for fewer births, later marriage in rural south (Global Times)
2015-01-23
A senior political advisor for the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Wednesday urged strict measures to combat early marriages, high divorce rates and rapid population growth in southern Xinjiang, media reported. Speaking at a Wednesday conference of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Xinjiang regional committee, Hou Hanmin, a CPPCC member, pointed out that the rural areas of southern Xinjiang have seen extensive early marriages and high divorce rates in recent years, with worryingly high birth rates, Hou said. "This negatively effects not only the physical and mental health of children and women, but also the population quality in the region, posing risks to social stability," Hou said. According to local family planning polices, a Uyghur family can give birth to up to three children. Many local couples fail to follow marriage laws and do not register their marriages in local civil affairs bureaus, Hou said, instead choosing only to get a religious marriage. Some girls, under the pressure from their parents, are even married by illegal religious personnel, according to Hou. A survey by Hou found that 50 percent of 500 women in one village were married before the age of 18, becoming a grandmother at the age of 34. Of those surveyed, 45 percent have been divorced. Some couples were divorced with the husband only saying "talaq" three times, which means divorce in Arabic. "Not following marriage law will make it hard for women who suffer domestic violence to safeguard their rights," Hou said, suggesting educating the local population about strengthening the implementation and popularization of marriage law. ^ top ^

PLA strengthens Xinjiang forces to foil terror attacks (China Daily)
2015-01-23
China is strengthening its military power in its northwestern frontier region bordering Afghanistan and Central Asia. The military reinforcement comes against a backdrop of United States troops pulling out of Afghanistan and extremists launching terrorist attacks on civilian targets. People's Liberation Army troops based in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region will vigorously enforce border controls, according to their chief. Peng Yong, commander of the PLA Xinjiang military region, said the army will continue to carry out "realistic combat training" and increase its ability to carry out a variety of military missions this year. The Xinjiang military region is a regional command that covers Xinjiang and the Ali area in the west of the Tibet autonomous region. "We have the responsibility to stay on high alert and strike hard against terrorist activities in the region," Peng said. Peng, a lieutenant general, made the remarks at the annual session of the 12th People's Congress of Xinjiang in Urumqi. Three more PLA generals have been appointed to the Xinjiang military region, including Li Wei, a major general, who will serve as its commissar. The two other appointees, Ye Jianjun and Han Bingcheng, are also major generals. Sources familiar with the Chinese military system said Xinjiang is the largest provincial-level military region in China. It has four deputy commanders and four deputy commissars, while other military regions normally have only one deputy commander and one deputy commissar. Xinjiang shares a border with Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Xinjiang military region increased the number of routine patrols last year to guard against infiltration by terrorist cells after the planned withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. Li Wei, an expert on anti-terrorism studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, who shares the same name as the major general, said, "The PLA troops in Xinjiang will deal with large-scale terrorist forces. They will concentrate especially on those carrying firearms smuggled from Pakistan and Afghanistan, rather than on individual terrorist attacks. They also need to keep an eye on the combat forces formed jointly by international and domestic terrorist groups." […] ^ top ^

Xinjiang arrests nearly doubled (China Daily)
2015-01-23
[…] Prosecutors in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region approved the arrests of 27,164 criminal suspects last year, an increase of more than 95 percent year-on-year, as Xinjiang launched a strike-hard campaign to combat violent and terrorist activities, the chief prosecutor of the region said on Thursday. "We've shortened the time between approving arrests and prosecution in major terrorist-related cases so the suspects can be tried as soon as possible to show the region's determination to fight terrorism in accordance with the law," Nixiang Yibulayin, chief prosecutor of the Xinjiang People's Procuratorate, said in the Work Report he delivered at the annual session of the 12th Xinjiang regional People's Congress, which started on Tuesday in the regional capital of Urumqi. […] A yearlong campaign to reduce terrorist attacks was launched on May 23 and will be extended to at least the end of this year. Meanwhile, the number of criminal cases handled by courts in Xinjiang has increased by 45 percent year-on-year, Nayim Yassen, president of the Xinjiang People's High Court, said on Thursday. "We have organized training for judges around Xinjiang," he said. To effectively fight terrorism, the regional people's congress has proposed that the National People's Congress, the nation's top legislator, draft an anti-terrorism law, said Wang Yongming, deputy director of the standing committee of the regional people's congress. The research group working on the draft of China's first anti-terrorism law was sent to the region by the NPC last May to seek advice from Xinjiang, Wang said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

National security laws have place in Hong Kong, says former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa (SCMP)
2015-01-21
Hongkongers should stop acting like "outsiders" in their own homeland and start appreciating the importance of national security, the city's first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, said in rare remarks about controversial laws seen to be behind his premature resignation in 2005. Beijing had the power to introduce mainland laws into Hong Kong, but whether it would do so was another matter, said Tung, now vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the nation's top advisory body. He was responding to a suggestion by Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a local deputy to the national legislature, at the weekend to apply the mainland's tough security laws to the city. But Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reiterated his government had no plan to enact national security legislation. Also yesterday, Basic Law expert Albert Chen Hung-yee said the mainland's security laws "were probably deemed not applicable to Hong Kong" when the mini-constitution was drafted. Tung brought up the topic in the first comments ever by a former chief executive on a current leader's annual policy address. Speaking in his third media conference since September, the 77-year-old said it was only a matter of time before the city would draw up its own national security laws, as Article 23 in the Basic Law required it to pass legislation prohibiting acts of "treason, secession, sedition, or subversion". He said: "Our nation is starting to become strong, and its importance is growing on the international arena. From a Hong Kong perspective, we cannot act like outsiders. We should know this is important, and we have to make the legislation one day." […] Apparently referring to Article 18 of the Basic Law, Tung added: "The central government has the power to introduce mainland laws into Hong Kong. Whether to exercise it or not, what the scope is, and whether it is appropriate, are separate questions, but the legal ground is there." […] ^ top ^

No need to apply national security laws to Hong Kong, says top Basic Law Committee member (SCMP)
2015-01-21
A top adviser to the central government on the Basic Law says there is no need for Beijing to impose the mainland's new national security law on Hong Kong. Describing the idea as inappropriate as well as unnecessary, Elsie Leung Oi-sie dismissed the suggestion by a local delegate to the national legislature at the weekend that Beijing unilaterally impose its tough security legislation in the city in the absence of local laws on the matter. National People's Congress deputy Stanley Ng Chau-pei raised the idea amid growing concern from local and national officials about calls for self-determination for Hong Kong. Leung, vice-chairwoman of the Basic Law Committee under the NPC Standing Committee, said there was no point in having the debate, especially at a time when Beijing was drafting a new law to replace its own national security legislation. "The national laws are more constitutional and concerned with principles, whereas Hong Kong's legal system needs more solid and clearer [provisions] to define its area and ways of application," Leung, a former Hong Kong justice minister, said. […] Under Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong is supposed to enact laws on national security. But an attempt to do so in 2003 prompted massive protests, and no government has resurrected the idea. […] Leung reiterated on Sunday that his government had no plans for a national security law. The draft of the new national security law will be deliberated by the NPC's Standing Committee later this year. The law follows new counterespionage legislation passed last year under which foreign organisations and individuals who conduct or instigate spying can be punished. Basic Law Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu said the implementation of national laws was an extreme measure that was unlikely to happen. Instead, she suggested Hong Kong pass its own security law - to prohibit treason, secession, sedition and subversion - as required under Article 23. Pan-democrats have long feared that a national security law would stifle debate and suppress the rights and freedoms of Hongkongers. But Tam said Article 23 was often misunderstood. She said security laws were not intended to stifle the city or suppress freedom, but would benefit Hong Kong. Article 23 "lays down rules to safeguard social order", she said. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macao casinos targeted in the fight against graft (China Daily)
2015-01-21
China will strengthen supervision of assets that corrupt officials transfer abroad illegally through gambling houses in Macao, the Ministry of Public Security said on Tuesday". Once a suspicious flow of capital being sent overseas through casinos is discovered, the People's Bank of China will inform us quickly and provide intelligence for us to conduct further investigations," a senior official from the ministry told China Daily. The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong reported that ministry officials will travel to Macao in the coming week to meet with directors from Macao's financial supervisory authority and bankers. They will discuss combating such crimes. In recent years, many corrupt Chinese officials have transferred their assets acquired illegally to overseas destinations through money laundering and some underground banks, including through Macao casinos. They have then fled to the United States, Canada and Australia to avoid punishment. According to the Macao Financial Intelligence Unit, from January to June 2013, the city's gambling industry received more than 900 reports of suspicious activity, an increase of more than 31 percent compared with 2012.
Dai Peng, director of the Criminal Investigation College at People's Public Security University of China, said the Foreign Exchange Control Regulation prohibits Chinese from carrying or sending large amounts in foreign currencies to overseas countries. Many corrupt officials tend to gamble in Macao casinos, through which they transfer their ill-gotten assets abroad with the help of underground banks. […] ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Momentum of growing CPC, KMT dialogue irreversible (Xinhua)
2015-01-18
Direct communication between the Communist Party of China (CPC) on the Chinese mainland and Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) has increased since 2005, helping foster the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties. On Saturday, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, called for strengthened communication between the two parties in a congratulatory message to Eric Chu, who was elected chairman of the ruling KMT party in an uncontested election on the same day. In his reply to Xi's message, Chu said he expects the two parties to continue to expand exchanges. The top leaders of both parties are continuing a trend of increased communication between the two parties that began in April 2005, when Hu Jintao, then general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, met with then KMT chairman Lien Chan in Beijing. Their meeting marked the first in six decades between the top leaders of the two parties. The same year, the two parties established an annual cross-Strait economic, trade and culture forum as a key communication platform between the two parties, as well as between the mainland and Taiwan. Communication has picked up remarkably since 2008, when then KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou won the island's leadership election. In that year, direct air transport, sea transport and postal services were launched in December. Two years later, the mainland and Taiwan signed the ECFA, a comprehensive cross-Strait economic pact featuring reduction of tariffs and commercial barriers between the two sides. These moves, led by the CPC and KMT, have brought burgeoning trade across the Strait. Mainland statistics showed that in 2014, trade values between the two sides reached 198.31 billion U.S. dollars, up 0.6 percent year on year, with imports from Taiwan worth more than 152 billion U.S. dollars. The figure was 168.96 billion U.S. dollars for 2012. These encouraging numbers indicate that improved communication between the CPC and KMT has been fruitful, bringing benefits to both sides of the Taiwan Strait. However, it should be remembered that the momentum since 2005, particularly after 2008, can only continue if both parties adhere to the common political commitments of upholding the 1992 Consensus and opposing "Taiwan independence." The 1992 Consensus is an agreement reached between the mainland and Taiwan in 1992, upholding the one-China principle. […] ^ top ^

Taiwan stays on course for closer ties with mainland China (SCMP)
2015-01-23
Taiwan will continue to forge closer ties with the mainland, despite signs the public is growing wary of doing so. Wang Yu-chi, the chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, which oversees policies towards the mainland, said on Thursday that further dialogue with Beijing was one of the government's main goals this year. "We will continue to push for dialogue and exchanges at official levels between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, and strive for more benefits for Taiwan … in line with the peaceful development of cross-strait relations," Wang said. Opinion polls indicated that 80 per cent of the Taiwanese public backed closer links, Wang said. Earlier this week, Eric Chu Li-luan, chairman of the island's governing Kuomintang, had warned that the public were increasingly concerned that closer ties were benefiting only the rich and powerful. […] Wang said yesterday it was "important for the council to take into account mainstream opinion in Taiwan and help the mainland understand the views and thinking of Taiwanese people". Wang said he had invited his mainland counterpart to meet him next month in what would be their third official exchange. The pair first met in Nanjing in February last year, when Wang became the first Taiwanese official to have travelled to the mainland in an official capacity. Zhang Zhijun, the head of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, will visit Kinmen for three days in February. The islands are controlled by Taiwan and are a former defensive outpost off the coast of Fujian on the mainland. Zhang will be the first head of the TAO to visit the islands. Wang said Kinmen was chosen because he had relayed wishes from its local government when he met Zhang at the Apec summit in Beijing last year. Wang and Zhang will discuss Beijing's plans for new air routes close to Taiwanese airspace. Wang said he hoped aviation authorities could reach agreement before the meeting. If not, he would "solemnly express our stand on this controversial issue" to Zhang. Taipei says the four routes would endanger aircraft. ^ top ^

 

Economy

IMF trims forecast for China's GDP growth, raises outlook for US (SCMP)
2015-01-20
The International Monetary Fund has cut its forecasts for China's economic growth for this year and next as the global economic rebound plateaus, despite a sharp drop in oil prices. The fund expects China's gross domestic product growth to slow to 6.8 per cent and 6.3 per cent - estimates revealed in the update to its World Economic Outlook published three months ago. Back then, it expected economic growth of 7.1 per cent and 6.8 per cent for the two years, respectively. But Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, a deputy director of research at the IMF, said slower growth and lower prices provided a positive backdrop for much-needed structural reform to rebalance the world's second-biggest economy. "The decline in oil prices is a positive for China. China needs to rely less on stimulus, which is good for rebalancing. It is going to provide a boost to the Chinese economy in the next few years," Milesi-Ferretti said. […] "We have concluded from discussions with the Chinese authorities that they will do less public investment and take more measures to clean up shadow banking," said Olivier Blanchard, the IMF's research director. Investment growth in China declined in the third quarter of last year, and leading indicators pointed to a further slowdown, an IMF report said. One sector where excess capacity was acute was real estate, where there were many unsold properties in third and fourth-tier cities, Milesi-Ferretti said. "The bigger macroeconomic risk comes from real estate." Oil prices, which have fallen to more than five-year lows, would enable the Chinese government to maintain economic growth at a decent level without having to resort to infrastructure investments, Milesi-Ferretti said. […] Given that China's oil imports accounted for 2.5 per cent of its GDP, the drop in oil prices translated to a 1.25 per cent boost to the nation's GDP, which was fairly substantial, he said. China's slowdown in the short term was due to declining real estate prices, but the ageing population and increasing wealth of its people would be factors that would slow the nation's GDP growth in the medium term, Milesi-Ferretti said. The slowdown in global growth mainly came from developing nations, which were hurt by the slowing Chinese economy, Milesi-Ferretti said. "With slower growth in China will come slower import growth for China." The IMF projects global GDP growth to be 3.5 per cent this year and 3.7 per cent next year, down from its projections in October last year of 3.8 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively. The World Bank recently downgraded its forecast for global GDP growth this year to 3 per cent from 3.4 per cent. In contrast, IMF revised up its forecast for US GDP growth to 3.6 per cent this year and 3.3 per cent next year, from 3.1 per cent and 3 per cent respectively. It was the only major economy upgraded in the update to the World Economic Outlook. ^ top ^

China denies being world's No.1 economy (Global Times)
2015-01-20
Claims that China has overtaken the United States as the world's largest economy were denied by the head of China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Tuesday. "The NBS does not countenance these claims by some scholars and media organizations," said bureau head Ma Jiantang at a press conference in Beijing. A study last year by the International Comparison Program (ICP) projected that China would overtake the US in 2014 based on purchasing power parity (PPP), which measures GDP in terms of prices of the same goods between nations. […] "The NBS also took part in the study, which established PPP for different countries, but we need to be cautious in applying the study results," Ma said. "For various reasons, we think the PPP methodology might have underestimated actual price levels in China and over-estimated China's GDP. With that proviso, we don't agree with the results," Ma said. Despite a continuously growing economy, it should be noted that China remains a developing country with a population of 1.3 billion, which means per capita GDP is still very low. Latest data released by the NBS showed the Chinese economy expanded 7.4 percent year on year to 63.65 trillion yuan (10.4 trillion US dollars) in 2014. ^ top ^

China's rich-poor gap narrows in 2014 (Xinhua)
2015-01-20
The Gini coefficient, an index reflecting the rich-poor gap, dropped for the sixth consecutive year in China since a peak recorded in 2008, new data showed Tuesday. The index stood at 0.469 in 2014, dropping for six years in a row since the index hit its 0.491 high in 2008, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement. Last year, the average disposable income of Chinese residents rose 8 percent in real terms to 20,167 yuan (3,294 U.S. dollars), faster than a 7.4 percent economic growth, the NBS said. The disposable income of rural residents increased 9.2 percent year on year, while that for urban residents rose 6.8 percent. ^ top ^

Ministry confident of stable trade growth in 2015 (Xinhua)
2015-01-21
China's exports and imports are expected to maintain "moderately stable" growth in foreign trade in 2015, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang said on Wednesday. Shen spoke about how new trade advantages in technology, brand, quality and services would be nurtured in 2015. "China's promotion of the [Silk Road] belt and road initiatives, the establishment of free trade zones, as well as a boom in trans-border e-commerce are likely to be contributing factors," he said at a monthly press conference held in Beijing. However, Shen acknowledged, foreign trade would continue to suffer from the effects of worldwide economic recovery, downward pressure on the domestic economy, rising corporate costs and an uncertain geo-political environment. "In terms of external demand, as a result of the financial crisis, the global economy is still in a restructuring period, as such, recovery remains weak. This poses many uncertainties," Shen said at a monthly press conference held in Beijing. "Internally, the economy is in its 'new normal' state and downward pressure on growth continues. Slowing investment and economic growth are expected to further curtail imports," Shen said. Meanwhile, the traditional low-cost advantages of Chinese exports are fading and trade subsidy investigations against Chinese exports are rising, according to the official. Amid those challenges, foreign trade only increased 3.4 percent in 2014 denominated in U.S. dollars, significantly lower than the 7.6 percent rise in 2013 and the 7.5 percent target. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

North Korea calls defectors 'human scum' in bid to deflect UN rights probe (SCMP)
2015-01-21
North Korea argued today that the admission of inaccuracies in the memoir of a high-profile gulag survivor rendered any existing or future UN resolution on Pyongyang's human rights record “invalid”. Defector Shin Dong-Hyuk acknowledged this week that some elements of his story as told in the best-selling book Escape from Camp 14 were inaccurate, although he stressed that the crucial details of his suffering and torture still stood. But a spokesman for North Korea's Association for Human Rights Studies, said his admissions “self-exposed” the flimsy foundations of efforts by the United States and other “hostile forces” in seeking to censure Pyongyang for its rights record. In a statement carried by the North's official KCNA news agency, the spokesman noted that Shin was among those defectors who had testified last year before a UN Commission of Inquiry that concluded North Korea was committing human rights violations “without parallel in the contemporary world”. The commission's report formed the basis of a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly last month that urged the Security Council to consider referring Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The North Korean spokesman said Shin's recent retractions proved that the commission's report was “a false document cooked up on the basis of false testimonies made by human scum”. “So, needless to say, all the resolutions on human rights forcibly adopted against [North Korea] on the basis of such false documents are invalid,” he added. The Security Council held its first-ever discussion on the North's rights record in December, but any referral to the ICC would almost certainly be vetoed by permanent members China and Russia. The North has repeatedly sought to discredit Shin as a fabulist and criminal, and last October aired a TV interview with his father who called Shin a “liar” and denied the family was even in a labour camp. Shin said his father must have been coerced into denouncing him. North Korean rights advocates have expressed disappointment with Shin but stress that the huge volume of corroborative testimony of systemic rights abuses in North Korea remains unchallenged. Michael Kirby, the retired Australian judge who headed the UN Commission of Inquiry, said Shin's partial retractions were “substantially immaterial” to the panel's findings or recommendations. Stressing that Shin was only one of 300 witnesses interviewed by the commission, Kirby said the panel's conclusions were based on a mass of “overwhelming” evidence. […] For activists within the North Korean defector community, however, Shin's admissions are a genuine blow, especially given his high profile. […] The US-based Human Rights Watch described him as the world's “single strongest voice on atrocities taking place in North Korea”. Shin has acknowledged that the damage his retractions have done meant he “may not be able to continue” his activist work. ^ top ^

U.S. rejects DPRK's call for resumption of six-party talks (Xinhua)
2015-01-22
The United States on Wednesday dismissed an unconditional resumption of the six-party talks suggested by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) over its nuclear program, reiterating a call for Pyongyang to abide by its past commitments. State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki was responding to a proposal made on Monday by DPRK's chief nuclear negotiator Ri Yong Ho following a two-day unofficial meeting with former U.S. special representative for DPRK policy Stephen Bosworth in Singapore. "I think the important point here is that the view of the United States, as well as our six-party partners, is that North Korea would need to abide by their international obligations, including the 2005 joint statement," Psaki told reporters at a daily news briefing. "The ball has long been in their court, but we certainly reject new proposals that don't have any backing," she added. While in Singapore, Ri once again called on Washington to end its large-scale war games with the Republic of Korea, blaming them for the rising tension on the Korean Peninsula. Psaki had criticized Pyongyang's past offer to suspend future nuclear tests for Washington's agreement to halt joint military exercises with the Republic of Korea this year, calling the proposal "an implicit threat." Asked what pre-conditions the DPRK was setting for its return to the six-party talks, Ri said "For the first time, we had proposed the meeting without any preconditions." The six-party talks, which also involve Russia, China and Japan, were initiated in Beijing in August 2003 but have been stalled since December 2008. The DPRK dropped out of the talks in April 2009. In the 2005 joint statement, Pyongyang committed itself to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning at an early date to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, while Washington affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade the DPRK with nuclear or conventional weapons. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia assumes the chairmanship of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation (infomongolia)
2015-01-21
The first 2015 meeting of the Forum for Security Cooperation of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) started on 20 January in Vienna. Foreign Minister of Mongolia, Mr. Lundeg PUREVSUREN made a statement at the opening session of the Mongolian chairmanship of the FSC. He outlined in his statement the priorities which Mongolia will pursue during its chairmanship. They would include among others the issues related to peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, combating international terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. […] As an Asian country Mongolia attaches a particular importance to the cooperation with the Asian Partners for Cooperation. He noted that Mongolia is making every effort to promote peace and security in Northeast Asia, initiating the “Ulaanbaatar dialogue on Northeast Asian security”, and expressed hope that the OSCE's experience over the past forty years could be an inspiration to promoting security and cooperation in Asia. Representatives of the OSCE participating States who spoke in the opening session congratulated Mongolia on its assumption of the OSCE chairmanship, and offered their support and cooperation. The Forum for Security Cooperation is the main body of the OSCE which considers the security aspects of politico-military dimension. Mongolia will chair the Forum during the first trimester of 2015. […] Mongolia became the fifth OSCE Asian Partner for Cooperation during the 12th Ministerial Council Meeting held in Sofia, Bulgaria, in December 2004. On 21 November 2012 it became the 57th participating State or full-fledged member of the OSCE during the 19th Ministerial Council Meeting in Dublin, Ireland. Later on the same day Minister L.Purevsuren also participated in a roundtable discussion organized by the International Peace Institute in Vienna. Foreign Minister made a presentation about foreign policy of the Government of Mongolia and on the initiatives put forward by Mongolia in the international arena. […] ^ top ^

President Elbegdorj is attending the WEF Meeting in Davos (infomongolia)
2015-01-22
President of Mongolia Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ arrived in Davos, Switzerland, to attend the 45th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum which is scheduled from January 21 to 24th, 2015. The World Economic Forum (WEF) was founded in January 1971 when a group of European business leaders met under the patronage of the European Commission and European industrial associations. German-born Klaus Schwab, then Professor of Business Policy at the University of Geneva, chaired the gathering, which took place in Davos, Switzerland. The organization was subsequently incorporated as a not-for-profit Foundation. At this year's Forum, President Ts.Elbegdorj is accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Lundeg PUREVSUREN and other officials from Mongolia. Mongolia has always attached great importance to the WEF. Besides active participation in the Forum, Mongolia has successfully co-organized the WEF meetings including: the “Fair Mineral Development” roundtable meeting in 2010, the “Partnering Against Corruption Initiative” roundtable meeting in 2011 and the “Water Secure Future in Mongolia” conference in 2011 respectively. Mongolia joined the WEF's Partnering Against Corruption Initiative /PACI/ and established anti-corruption network in Mongolia. In 2013, a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation was signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and the WEF, and in the scope of this, a roundtable meeting “Strategic Dialogue on Mongolian Development” was held in Ulaanbaatar. ^ top ^

 

Mrs. Petra Salome Merki
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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