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
  18-24.10.14, No. 546  
    Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

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Foreign Policy

Chinese coastguard vessels patrol disputed waters after Japan angers Beijing (SCMP)
2014-10-20
China has sent coastguard vessels to disputed waters in the East China Sea after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe angered Beijing by sending a ritual offering to a Tokyo shrine that honours the dead from Japan's wars. The uninhabited islands - which Japan controls and calls the Senkaku but which China also claims as the Diaoyu - have inflamed passions in the world's second and third biggest economies. Relations between them are further aggravated by the respects that Japanese politicians regularly pay at the Yasukuni Shrine, which is widely seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism. Three Chinese coastguard vessels - 2305, 2101 and 2112 - patrolled Chinese "territorial waters" near the Diaoyu islands on Saturday, China's State Oceanic Administration said in a terse statement on its website. It gave no further details. Patrols by vessels and aircraft from both sides near the disputed islands have raised fears of a clash. China expressed "serious concern" on Friday after Abe sent a small masakaki tree to the shrine. South Korea deplored the offering saying the shrine was "the symbol of glorification of Japan's colonisation and invasive war". On Saturday, three Japanese cabinet members visited the shrine which honours wartime leaders convicted by an Allied tribunal as war criminals along with millions of war dead. Bitter memories persist of Japan's brutal 1931-45 occupation of parts of China and its 1910-45 colonisation of the Korean peninsula. Both countries feel Japan has never fully atoned for its actions. Abe outraged Beijing and Seoul by visiting Yasukuni in person in 2013. He said he went not to glorify the war but to honour those who fought and died for their country. But he has stayed away from the shrine since then, instead sending offerings on key dates, seeking to tread a fine line between his conservative convictions and the diplomatic imperative to improve ties with China. Expectations have been growing in Japan that Abe will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for ice-breaking talks on the sidelines of a Nov. 10-11 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing. Abe has also signalled that he wants to meet South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the summit. But the ill will over the legacy of Japan's colonisation have cast doubts over that. ^ top ^

Signs of easing tensions as China and Vietnam agree to reforge military links (SCMP)
2014-10-20
China and Vietnam agreed in high-level meetings yesterday to resume military ties and resolve their maritime disputes, sending the first signals that tensions over their territorial claims in the South China Sea might be easing. "Both China and Vietnam … should keep their forces under control, refrain from detrimental remarks, and not do anything to affect the general situation," Xinhua quoted Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, as saying to Vietnamese Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh in Beijing. "It's impossible for neighbouring countries to move. It is in the interests of both China and Vietnam to get along well with each other and to handle differences appropriately." Thanh also held talks with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan and Vice-President Li Yuanchao on Friday, according to Xinhua. Analysts said the high-level meetings indicated both countries were keen to prevent the outbreak of military conflict. Zhang Mingliang, a Southeast Asian affairs expert from Jinan University, said Fan was reminding Hanoi not to try to curry favour with great powers like the United States, but to focus on developing good ties with China, because "a good neighbour is better than a distant brother". "We should note that the high-level meetings were arranged just weeks after the US announced earlier this month that it was partially lifting its 40-year-old arms embargo on Vietnam," Zhang said. Tensions between Beijing and Hanoi over their territorial disputes in the South China Sea erupted into anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam in May after China deployed an oil rig off the Paracel Islands, territory that Hanoi also claims. China announced this month that it had completed the Paracels' biggest airport, a military and civilian facility on Woody Island, which China calls Yongxing Island. Beijing has seven construction projects under way in the disputed Paracel and Spratly island chains, with five approved under the administration of President Xi Jinping, according to Taiwanese intelligence sources. The sources also said that Wu Shengli, chief of the People's Liberation Army Navy, spent a week inspecting those construction projects and observed a joint drill by the navy and air force off Fiery Cross Reef, known as Yongshu in China, which the Philippines also claims. Shanghai-based military commentator Ni Lexiong said Thanh wanted to determine the PLA's real intentions over the territorial disputes. "The Vietnamese military needs to know whether the PLA really wants to maintain the status quo in the South China Sea. For Vietnam, it's not worth going to war with China," he said. On Thursday, Premier Li Keqiang also met his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan, with both sides agreeing to properly handle bilateral maritime differences and keep bilateral ties on the right track, Xinhua reported. ^ top ^

China, U.S. exchange views ahead of Obama's visit (Xinhua)
2014-10-20
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had an in-depth exchange of views on a wide range of issues Saturday ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to China. Their discussions mainly focused on the two countries' preparations for Obama's visit early next month, when the president will also attend the informal leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Beijing. [...] At the same time, he said, China and the U.S. also need to strengthen mutual communication and coordination to make sure that the upcoming APEC summit will achieve expected results in advancing the process of regional integration. Yang called on the two countries to increase mutual cooperation in Asia-Pacific affairs and promote regional stability and prosperity. For his part, Kerry said there are many areas in which the U.S. and China can cooperate in the future. The U.S. is willing to work with China to enhance communication, dialogue and cooperation despite their differences and divergences, thus enriching the content of building a new model of major-country relations, he said. [...] And the U.S. side is willing to coordinate with China to make the upcoming APEC summit a success. During their talks, Yang and Kerry also exchanged views on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula [...]. The state councilor reiterated China's "clear, determined and consistent position" that realizing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maintaining its peace and stability, and resolving disputes through dialogue and consultation "are in the common interest of all related parties, including China and the United States," Qin said after the talks. Yang said China hopes that all relevant parties will continue making efforts in the same direction and seize the opportunity to ease the tense situation on the peninsula, so as to pave the way for reviving the stalled six-party talks. On the Iranian nuclear talks, he said it will benefit all related parties if the issue is properly resolved. Noting that the talks have entered a crucial stage, Yang urged all parties involved to give a full play to their wisdom and creativity by seeking common ground while setting aside differences in order to reach as early as possible a fair, balanced and win-win agreement, which will take care of each other's concerns, through equal consultations. On the issue of counterterrorism, he said China is firmly against all forms of terrorism and is willing to conduct exchanges and cooperation with the international community including the United States in the area of fighting terrorism. [...] On cooperation in fighting the Ebola epidemic, he noted that the deadly virus, which continues to spread in West Africa, has become a threat to the public health and requires concerted efforts by the international community. China and the United States have their respective advantages in fighting Ebola, he said, adding that China is willing to strengthen coordination and cooperation with the U.S. as well as the international community to help affected African countries. [...] ^ top ^

China seeks help from Australia to track fugitives (SCMP)
2014-10-21
China is seeking Australia's cooperation to track suspects wanted for corruption amid media reports police in Australia are about to apprehend Chinese fugitives and seize their assets. Australian Federal Police were cooperating with Chinese counterparts as part of a joint operation that "will make their first forfeiture of assets within weeks", Commander Bruce Hill was quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald as saying. Both sides had "agreed on a priority list" of wanted people residing in Australia. The list was culled from a broader one of "less than a hundred people", the Herald quoted Hill as saying. The assets being pursued were in the "many hundreds of millions of dollars". A media representative for the force declined to confirm or deny the report. Beijing launched Operation Fox Hunt in July, a campaign that targets corrupt officials who have fled overseas with illicit gains, according to mainland Chinese media reports. Over 100 suspects from more than 40 countries had been returned to China, the Southern Weekly reported, citing the Ministry of Public Security. Among the high-profile former officials believed to be living in Australia are Gao Yan, a former top executive of the State Power Corporation. Gao was governor of Jilin and later the Communist Party boss for Yunnan in the late 1990s. He reportedly fled China in September 2002. Australia runs an investor visa scheme that allows potential immigrants who invest A$5 million (HK$33.9 million) for four years to be eligible for a permanent visa. In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not directly confirm the Australian media report yesterday, but said China welcomed Australia's help in cracking down on corruption. "The Chinese government is resolute in fighting corruption and chasing fugitives and illegal assets overseas. Corrupt officials should be brought to justice wherever they flee," Hua said. China has extradition treaties with 38 countries, but these do not include the United States, Canada and Australia, all popular destinations for economic fugitives, according to earlier media reports. Hua said that by last month, China had signed treaties with 63 countries, including Australia, on judicial assistance or extradition. ^ top ^

From reef to biggest island in Spratlys, and China's not done yet at Fiery Cross (SCMP)
2014-10-21
China has turned a strategically important reef into probably the biggest island in the Spratlys, Chinese scholars say, and the expansion is expected to continue. Analysts said the continued expansion of Fiery Cross Reef, which China calls Yongshu Reef, is expected eventually to provide a vital outpost for Chinese military and civilian commercial activities in disputed areas of the South China Sea, many of which are closer to other claimants' coasts than to China's. Claimant states such as the Philippines and Vietnam have protested against China's reclamation activities in the South China Sea. Beijing has yet to openly admit its plans to artificially expand reefs in the sea into islands. Last week, Taiwan's top intelligence official, Lee Hsiang-chou, said publicly that Beijing was conducting seven construction projects in the South China Sea, with five of them reportedly having been approved since Xi Jinping became president. The expansion of Fiery Cross Reef proceeded faster than scheduled and it was likely to have outgrown Taiping Island - the biggest in the Spratlys chain - said Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. Controlled by Taiwan, Taiping, also known as Ita Aba, is the only one of the islands with fresh water. It has an area of about 0.5 sq km. Wang Hanling, an expert on the South China Sea from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Fiery Cross Reef now nearly covered about 1 sq km and reclamation work would probably continue. Both scholars said it was unclear how big the island would eventually become but it would probably house both military and civilian facilities. Fiery Cross Reef is about 740 nautical miles south of the Chinese mainland, but closer to the Vietnamese coast. It was vulnerable to ballistic missile attack from Vietnam should conflict break out, said Carl Thayer, professor emeritus at the University of New South Wales and a member of the Australian Defence Force Academy. He said there was no strong evidence yet to suggest China was planning to turn the artificial island into a naval base. But the islet could be turned into an outpost providing supplies and shelter for those engaged in commercial activities in the South China Sea, hence bolstering China's civilian presence in the area, Thayer said. "It can make the life of people sitting on oil rigs that China deploys easier. Fishing vessels can also call in as they don't have to go all the way back to Hainan," he said. Analysts have said that by expanding islets, China has sought to bolster its presence in the South China Sea, which it claims almost in its entirety. Over the weekend, Chinese website Guancha.cn published a report saying Fiery Cross Reef had been upgraded to an island. It cited unnamed sources and satellite images from DigitalGlobe taken between late September and October 16. It said it was now bigger than Taiping. Jin from Renmin University said it was unlikely the reef would be renamed an island, since it "would involve international law and would be too complicated". ^ top ^

Beijing, New Delhi establish hotlines to defuse border tensions (China Daily)
2014-10-21
Beijing has praised the "strong" determination that both China and India showed in handling border problems, after the neighbors agreed to establish hotlines and hold regular military meetings to deal with the issue. Both governments have made remarkable progress in recent years in defusing border tension, observers said. A key meeting on border issues was held in New Delhi on Thursday and Friday, gathering senior officials from diplomatic and defense authorities from both countries. The meeting reached a consensus on a range of measures and agreed to establish "regular meetings" involving the headquarters of the two militaries, adjacent combat units and border defense forces. "A telephone hotline will be established between the two headquarters and a telecommunication liaison will be set up between the frontline forces of both countries," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing on Monday. The meeting was held under the latest consensus reached by the countries' leaders. During his visit to New Delhi in mid-September, President Xi Jinping reached an agreement with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resolve border issues. Xi highlighted that before a final settlement, the countries "should jointly manage differences, safeguard peace and tranquility of the border area and prevent the border question from holding up the development of bilateral relations". Modi said India stands ready with China to manage any border issues and to accelerate negotiations. Wang Yusheng, executive director of the Strategy Research Center of China International Studies Research Fund, said "the two countries now are both sober when considering these problems" and they both have decided to maintain peace and stability. Such problems "do not affect the cooperative agenda between China and India", Wang said. The announced measures "will further strengthen contact and liaison between the two militaries, especially the two border defense forces, boost trust and cooperation, and facilitate timely discussions by both countries in regard to border affairs", Hua said. Beijing and New Delhi also highlighted reconciliation in handling border affairs. In another sign of goodwill on Sept 30, China and India "completed simultaneous withdrawals according to the steps formulated by the two countries and restored peace and tranquility" in the border area, according to a previous news release by the Foreign Ministry. Hua said that during the talks last week both countries agreed to "greater cooperation in order to ensure peace and stability on the border and create a good climate for the developing bilateral relationship". Zhou Gang, former Chinese ambassador to India, said some difficult problems yet to be resolved have led to the diminishing of mutual trust. "The latest frequent contacts of top leaders from both sides have outlined shared vision in securing the big picture," Zhou said. ^ top ^

Feature: Chinese premier behind settlement of telecoms dispute with EU (Xinhua)
2014-10-22
Top-level diplomacy by Premier Li Keqiang played a significant role in the recent resolution of a China-EU trade row over Chinese wireless communications equipment, Xinhua has learned. Trade officials from China and the EU on Saturday reached an agreement under which the 28-member bloc would drop its anti-subsidy probe into the Chinese telecoms products, averting a possible trade war between the two trading partners. Hours before the consensus on the high-profile case was announced, Li landed at Beijing after wrapping up a nine-day tour to three European countries, namely Germany, Italy and Russia. During his visit to Germany, Li made a public appeal for the EU to cease the telecoms probe, which threatens billions of dollars' worth of annual trade. "The EU and China should join hands to oppose all forms of protectionism. We would like to actively negotiate with the EU over the anti-subsidy probe into Chinese wireless communications equipment and reach consensus as soon as possible," Li said in a keynote speech at the Hamburg Summit on Oct. 13. He reiterated the message during his talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, an economic and political heavyweight within the EU, diplomatic sources said. Thanks to Li's direct push, representatives from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the European Commission held several rounds of fresh negotiations to seek a solution, the sources added. The premier also raised the issue when he hosted outgoing European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Milan, Italy, on Oct. 15 before attending the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit. A breakthrough was probably achieved at Li's talks with the EU leaders, as afterwards Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, who was accompanying Li, hurried to Brussels for a meeting with EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, which produced the consensus. The telecoms dispute started in May last year, when the European Commission, the EU's executive body, decided in principle to start anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes into Chinese wireless communications equipment. In March 2014, the EU dropped the anti-dumping part of the investigation. The telecoms case marks the second time that Li has employed top-level diplomacy to resolve major trade disputes with the EU. In May 2013, during his maiden trip to Europe since taking office, he engaged himself in a China-EU row over the latter's anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into photovoltaic products imported from China. Thanks to Li's personal involvement, the two trading giants worked out a settlement in August last year, bringing an end to a trade dispute that had 20 billion U.S. dollars of trade and about 400,000 Chinese jobs at stake, the largest concerning a single industry. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier calls for closer Asia-Pacific partnership (Xinhua)
2014-10-22
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Wednesday China hopes to establish a closer partnership among the Asia-Pacific economies. In his speech at the opening ceremony of the APEC 2014 Finance Ministers' Meeting, Zhang said this year is the China Year of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum(APEC) as the 22nd APEC economic leaders' meeting will soon be held in Beijing. "We will take this opportunity to face to the future, seek to establish an even closer partnership, deepen practical cooperation, push for a greater leading role of APEC and draw up a long-term vision for the Asia-Pacific region," Zhang said in the speech, quoting President Xi Jinping. Zhang said the finance ministers meeting is an important activity for APEC. The meeting will focus on topics such as Asia-Pacific and global economic situation, cooperation on infrastructure investment and financing, fiscal policies for economic restructuring and financial support for entity economy in the region. He said because the Asia-Pacific region is a major driving force for global economic growth, APEC should truly assume the mission of advancing regional and global growth by helping promote the regional growth featuring coordinated policy, interactive growth and integrated interests. He said the APEC economies should step up dialogue on macro-economic policies and share information in order to reduce the negative spill-over effect of their policy readjustment and to maintain stability of the regional economy. Zhang said the APEC economies should advance economic restructuring to increase vigor of the market, expand human capital and advance innovation so as to achieve more robust, inclusive and sustainable growth. Zhang said the economies should strengthen cooperation on infrastructure development by innovating the mode of investment and financing. The economies should explore new ways of cooperation between government and market capitals by guiding the rich deposit of savings into infrastructure development. Zhang said China, as a member of the Asia-Pacific community, will continue to advance economic growth with reform and innovation. It will advance innovation in the areas of technology, social and economic systems, governance and business models for a sustainable, healthy and high-level development. Zhang said China will adopt an even more active strategy of opening up, and will continuously improve its business environment to attract overseas investment. "The more China grows, the more, greater and better opportunities it will bring about for growth in the Asia-Pacific region and the world," Zhang said. ^ top ^

Space launch to pave the way for lunar expedition (Xinhua)
2014-10-23
China will launch an experimental spacecraft between Friday and Sunday to test a key technology designed to help a future lunar probe return to Earth with soil samples. The unnamed spacecraft is due to reach a location near the moon before returning to Earth, said a spokesman for the China National Space Administration, which announced the launch on Wednesday. It will be China's first lunar module to return to Earth, at a speed close to 11.2 km per second, space experts said. Hu Hao, chief designer of the lunar exploration program's third phase, said in an earlier interview with China Daily that the re-entry speed could cause the return capsule to overheat or become difficult to track and control. No simulated tests on Earth can recreate the challenge, he said. The space agency spokesman said the re-entry will involve one or more "skips" off the Earth's atmosphere to slow the spacecraft before final re-entry. It is due to land in a central area of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Experts said "skip re-entry" could help to disperse the huge amount of heat that is usually generated on faster descents. Data from the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration show that "skip re-entry" technology was used on lunar missions by the former Soviet Union. If successful, the technology will help the Chang'e-5 lunar probe to return to Earth with lunar soil samples around 2017, the spokesman said. On Wednesday, technicians at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province began fueling the Long March 3C rocket that will carry the experimental spacecraft. Rocket expert Jiang Jie said that compared with the previous three launch missions this one poses the sternest test. "The mission requires that the rocket sends the spacecraft to a fixed spot in space. Any inaccuracy will mean that the spacecraft will fail to enter the moon's orbit," she told China Central Television. Liu Jianzhong, deputy chief engineer for the Long March 3 series rockets, said the mission will have a launch window of 35 minutes each day between Friday and Sunday. The national space agency said the experimental mission marks the start of the third phase of China's lunar program featuring probes returning to Earth. The country launched the Chang'e-1 probe in 2007, Chang'e-2 in 2010 and Chang'e-3 in 2013, completing experiments in orbiting and landing on the moon. China has one moon rover, the Jade Rabbit, on the lunar surface. This craft, launched as part of the Chang'e-3 mission late last year, has been declared a success by Chinese authorities, although it has been plagued by mechanical troubles. ^ top ^

Japan's deputy PM pushes for meeting between Abe and Xi at Apec summit (SCMP)
2014-10-23
Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso held an informal meeting with Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli yesterday, telling him the first official meeting between their top leaders should be held next month to mend relations strained by territorial and wartime issues. "Although Japan-China relations are moving in a good direction by mutual efforts, to further improve the situation, I said that it would be very fruitful if the leaders … could hold a meeting on the occasion of the Apec summit next month in Beijing," Aso said. His contact with Zhang, one of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, took place on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation finance ministers' meeting in Beijing. Aso refused to disclose what Zhang said. But the chat lasted seven to eight minutes, according to a senior Japanese government official. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes to hold official talks for the first time with President Xi Jinping during the two-day leaders' summit, which begins on November 10. Observers have said Tokyo's repeated calls for the high-level contact might be aimed at pushing Xi into meeting Abe, or into a public snub of Japan that allows it to paint itself as the aggrieved party in the gathering public relations war. Aso, who doubles as finance minister, noted that Japanese direct investment to China had nearly halved in the first six months of the year, compared to the same period last year. He also said the two countries had a "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests". It was the first time in four years Japan had sent its finance chief to the annual forum. For the first time since taking office in December 2012, Abe exchanged direct greetings with Premier Li Keqiang while they were in Milan for a meeting of Asian and European leaders last Friday. But it remains uncertain whether Xi is ready to accept Abe's overture. "It very much depends on his side, rather than our side," Aso said. "We [have been] expecting to have a meeting from the very beginning." Senior Chinese officials have repeatedly said the meeting can only take place if Japan acknowledges that a territorial dispute exists over the Diaoyu, or Senkaku, Islands. Beijing also wants Abe to promise not to visit the Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo, which commemorates 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including war criminals. ^ top ^

China, ASEAN to discuss formulating COC (Xinhua)
2014-10-23
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and Southeast Asian diplomats will gather in Bangkok late this month to discuss the formulation of a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, a spokeswoman said on Thursday. China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will hold the 8th Senior Officials' Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in Thailand from Oct. 28 to 29, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. The parties will discuss the comprehensive and effective implementation of the DOC, promoting practical maritime cooperation and formulation of a COC within the framework of the DOC, Hua said. Prior to the senior officials' meeting, China and ASEAN will hold the 12th joint working group meeting on the implementation of the DOC, the spokeswoman said. ^ top ^

Dalai Lama US visit will not affect APEC summit: experts (Global Times)
2014-10-24
The Dalai Lama's recent visit to Canada and the US will not have any political influence on the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, experts said. The Dalai Lama started his three-week visit to North America on October 20. He is scheduled to finish his visit to educational institutes in Canada on Friday and then leave for the US. He will then visit schools and religious centers in the US until November 4. There are no meetings with Canadian or American political figures on his schedule, according to the website of the Dalai Lama's office. His visit to North America comes ahead of the APEC summit, which will be held in Beijing on November 10 and 11, but experts said his visit won't affect the summit or achieve any political purposes. "Western countries have been very cautious in meeting with the Dalai Lama in the past three or four years, and there's no chance that he could accomplish any of his political demands," Niu Xinchun, an expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times. China has long opposed foreign dignitaries meeting with the Dalai Lama, who fled to India and created the self-declared "Tibetan government in exile" in 1959 after a failed armed rebellion, the Xinhua News Agency reported. "The Dalai Lama is a political figure in exile who is undertaking anti-China separatist activities in the name of religion. The Tibetan issue is a domestic affair for China, and there is no other country which has the right to interfere," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a press release in February, ahead of a meeting between US President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, Xinhua reported. Many countries have avoided the Dalai Lama in recent years. South Africa turned down his visa application in September out of concerns that such contact might affect its relationship with China, the AP reported. The International community will not risk relations or economic ties with China to support the Dalai Lama as China's economic and political status is rising worldwide, Niu said. Niu's view was echoed by Shao Yuqun, director of the Department of American Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies. "The world now focuses more on China's economic growth and comprehensive power rather than the Tibet issue and the Dalai Lama," Shao told the Global Times. Both Niu and Shao said that the status of minority issues involving Tibet and Xinjiang have been declining in international talks in recent years. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Xinhua Insight: CPC convenes first plenum on "rule of law" in reform, anti-graft drive (Xinhua)
2014-10-20
When elite members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) gather this week for a key annual policy-setting meeting, their presence alone will be enough to make history. The fourth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee - slated for Oct. 20-23 - is billed as a milestone in China's political reforms and progress, as it will be devoted to the central theme of "rule of law" for the first time in the Party's history. The meeting will deliberate on a draft decision of the CPC Central Committee on "major issues concerning comprehensively advancing rule of law," sources close to the meeting said. The decision is widely expected to set the tone for the CPC to promote rule of law in China in an all-rounded manner under new circumstances. Seldom has any other political concept been assigned the same gravity - rule of law is, as many analysts have noted, the cornerstone of the modernization of China's state governance and national rejuvenation. "OLD PHRASE" But the phrase is not new in the CPC's official discourse, rather one that has been championed for decades. China wrote rule of law into its Constitution in the 1990s. The 15th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1997 decided to make "the rule of law" a basic strategy and "building a socialist country under the rule of law" an important goal for socialist modernization. [...] Never before had the notion carried so much weight in a country that has for thousands of years championed the efficiency of "rule of man" over rule of law. "All the land under heaven belongs to the emperor, and everyone is his servant," the famous saying from China's first poetry collection Shijing goes. KEY TO REFORMS Many believe rule of law holds the key to the success of China's current reforms and is the harbinger of the nation's evolution toward modern civilization. They also argue that rule of law could help institutionalize the popular anti-corruption campaign, push forward deeper reforms, and help stabilize the Chinese economy. [...] With China's current reform drive picking up momentum, the quest to make Chinese governance more law-based is more urgent than ever. Fortunately, profound changes are taking place. [...] Nonetheless, past shadows of the "rule of man" are not easily shaken off. From macroeconomic overhauls to micro social management, an obsolete "above-the-law" privilege mentality remains among some Party and government officials, with unchecked power turning into a hotbed for corruption. [...] The government announced that a "socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics" was basically established in 2010. But rule of law entails much more than just having a system of laws, according to Shen Guoming, deputy head of the China Society of Jurisprudence. "Having a set of laws in place is not the whole story. We must also make sure that the laws are enforced in a strict manner and that lawbreakers are all prosecuted in accordance with the law," said Shen, who has worked as a consultant for this week's CPC meeting. Jiang Ping, another law expert, believed that however the rule of law was stressed, power abuse is still a common phenomenon in China. [...] Improvement of laws and regulations is another necessity for rule of law. [...] Shen said the focus of this week's plenary meeting is to enhance judiciary efficacy and authority, adding that it is not plain sailing to have 1.3 billion people act in strict accordance with the laws in every aspect of their lives. [...] Chinese president Xi Jinping also said that the authority of the Constitution and the rule of law should be promoted, adding that fully implementing the Constitution is the primary task and basic work in building a socialist nation ruled by law, and that the Constitution is the country's basic law and the general rule in managing state affairs. [...] ^ top ^

Xi, Mao and the dark art of ideology (SCMP)
2014-10-21
President Xi Jinping's landmark speech on arts and culture last week signalled his intention to revive Maoist ideology over the sector and to tighten censorship of art and literature, analysts said. Xi, who is also Communist Party general secretary, told a forum of writers, artists and actors that their works should present socialist values and not be polluted by the "stench of money". Echoing many of Mao's teachings, Xi said art should serve socialism and the people, and be consistent with Marxist-Leninist thinking. Xigen Li, associate professor with City University's department of media and communication, said the remarks signalled the president's aim to exercise greater ideological control. "It is a sign that Xi wants to have more control over the arts, and through that, more control over ideology," Li said. Steve Tsang, head of the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham, said the speech pointed to the tightening of ideological control over the arts and culture, with Xi trying to ensure that the arts promoted the party's brand of nationalism. "The signal [for censorship] has been hoisted. Those who do not fall in line should know that the days when they can still not do so are numbered," Tsang said. He said the speech had parallels with one late helmsman Mao Zedong delivered in 1942 during the Yanan rectification movement. In a famous speech at the revolutionary base in Shaanxi province, Mao called on writers and artists to contribute their works to serve the cause of revolution and communism. "Xi is tightening censorship and control. It is to ensure that the arts and literature do what Xi and the party wants in shaping public opinion in China. This focus on nationalism implies an inherent xenophobia as China under Xi asserts what Xi sees as 'Chinese values and Chinese rights'," Tsang said. Journalism professor Yuan Fang, from Communication University of China, said Xi's message was clear: the arts' primary role was to work in the service of the party and its priorities. Yuan said censorship was on the rise, prompting many artists to avoid politically sensitive subjects in their work. Arts and culture have boomed on the mainland as market reforms have ushered in some relaxation of controls on the sector since the 1970s. But Xi's address last week contained a warning to artists that their work should not "fall slave to money". Li said it would be difficult to impose an ideological burden on the arts and ignore the market given the market's central role in the economy. He said artists faced a dilemma - they needed to follow the market to survive but also needed to be politically correct to be accepted by the government. "How can politically correct artworks win over a market-oriented audience?" Li asked. ^ top ^

Rule of law and rule by party can coexist, party scholar says (SCMP)
2014-10-21
The rule of law does not conflict with the Communist Party's rule because the country's legal system was established by the ruling party, a mainland scholar says. Central Party School professor Xie Chuntao delivered the assessment yesterday as the party started its fourth plenum, a closed-door gathering expected to underscore the rule of law and anti-corruption efforts. The four-day meeting would debate a draft decision of the party's Central Committee on "major issues concerning comprehensively advancing the rule of law", Xinhua reported, citing sources close to the meeting. The gathering is expected to result in some measures to stop local governments influencing courts and to improve the professionalism of judges. Addressing a journalists' forum, Xie said the crux of improving the legal system was to ensure officials at different levels were restrained by law. He added that upholding the rule of law ran parallel with upholding party rule. "The nation's legal system is established under the leadership of the Communist Party," he said. "Therefore the party should follow the legal system it has established. This is in itself an important demonstration of the party's leadership." The authorities have repeatedly stressed the need to uphold the rule of law and demanded a more credible judicial system since Xi Jinping was named party chief in November 2012 and president in March 2013. In a statement last month, the Politburo said the rule of law should be promoted under the leadership of the party, while justice and national security should be safeguarded. Xie said he supported the view that Beijing needed to introduce a mechanism to determine and remedy any violation of the constitution, but he was not sure if such a proposal would come up in the party plenum discussion. The plenum comes amid a massive party campaign to clamp down on officials violating discipline - a euphemism which usually means corruption. The party made the rule of law a basic strategy for "socialist modernisation" in 1997, but the nation's legal system is still criticised as corrupt, with local governments standing in the way of fair judicial and investigation procedures. ^ top ^

China 'executed 2,400 people last year', rights group reveals (SCMP)
2014-10-22
China put 2,400 people to death last year, a US-based human rights group said yesterday, shedding rare light on a statistic Beijing considers a state secret. The figure was a fall of 20 per cent from 2012, the Dui Hua Foundation said, and a fraction of the 12,000 in 2002. China is so reticent on the issue that it has done nothing to publicise the long-term decline in its use of the death penalty. But it still executes more people than every other country put together, human rights groups say. The total for the rest of the world combined was 778 people in 2013, according to campaign group Amnesty International's annual report earlier this year. It did not give an estimate for Chinese executions. Dui Hua said it obtained its figures from "a judicial official with access to the number of executions carried out each year". But the annual declines were "likely to be offset" this year, it said, due to factors including the "strike hard" campaign in the violence-wracked region of Xinjiang. Hundreds of people have been convicted of terrorist offences in the area, and last week a court condemned 12 to death in connection with a July attack. "China currently executes more people every year than the rest of the world combined, but it has executed far fewer people since the power of final review of death sentences was returned to the [Supreme People's Court] in 2007," Dui Hua said. The top court examined all death sentences issued in the country, and sent back 39 per cent of those it reviewed last year to lower courts for more evidence, Dui Hua said, citing the Southern Weekly newspaper. The legal system is tightly controlled by the ruling Communist Party and courts have a virtual 100 per cent conviction rate in criminal cases. The use of force to extract confessions remains widespread in the country, leading to a number of miscarriages of justice. The authorities have occasionally exonerated wrongfully executed convicts after others came forward to confess, or because the supposed murder victim was later found alive. In one landmark case in June, the Supreme People's Court overturned the death sentence on Li Yan, a woman who killed her abusive husband. Earlier this year the director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, Mabel Au Mei-po, said that in 2011 Beijing took 13 offences off a list of 68 crimes punishable by death, including financial crimes. ^ top ^

Net closes on Ling Jihua, one-time top aide to ex-president Hu Jintao (SCMP)
2014-10-23
Graft-busters on the mainland are closing the net around a powerful family headed by Ling Jihua, for long the right-hand man of former president Hu Jintao. Ling Wancheng, the youngest of the five Ling siblings, recently left China for the United States via Hong Kong and Singapore but has since returned to the mainland, where he is under investigation, sources say. It is not clear if the businessman, better known as Wang Cheng, returned of his own volition or as a result of cooperation between China and the US. Hu has been conspicuously silent over the investigation. In August, anti-corruption investigators detained Ling Zhengce, the eldest brother and a senior official in Shanxi province. The detention of Ling Wancheng will help authorities prepare a move against Ling Jihua, the second-youngest and most powerful of the five siblings. Sources said the investigation against Ling Jihua could start soon after the Communist Party leadership wraps up its agenda-setting meeting today. Ling Jihua was on the fast track to the highest reaches of political power before his career was ruined in 2012 by the scandalous death of his son in a Ferrari crash. But even after his fall from grace, Hu's trusted top aide has held on to a ministerial position as head of the party's United Front Work Department, a vice-chairmanship of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and membership of the party's elite Central Committee. For the better part of Hu's presidency, Ling Jihua, although not a Politburo member, commanded power and influence far greater than his position and party ranking suggested, becoming known as a go-to man in mainland politics. If the case against Ling Jihua goes ahead, it will be the biggest political scandal since the fall of former security tsar Zhou Yongkang. […] ^ top ^

PLA ideology struggles 'acute' (Global Times)
2014-10-23
The Central Military Commission (CMC) warned on Wednesday that ideological struggles within the People's Liberation Army (PLA) are "acute and complicated," and called for the military to remain loyal to the Party's leadership. The CMC published an article advocating that the army be run according to rules and regulations on the front page of the PLA Daily on Wednesday. The article echoes the main theme of the Fourth Plenum of the Central Committee of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which focused on strengthening the nation's governance through the rule of law. Military reform has entered "uncharted waters" with concerns growing that reform could be impeded by "structural problems," according to the article. The CMC said that among the problems facing the army, the struggle over ideology has been "exceptionally acute and complicated." Different ideologies and new ideas that have emerged in Chinese society have penetrated the military, and will have a disruptive impact, it claimed. "There have been some public intellectuals advocating the nationalization of the army through disaffiliating it from the Party's leadership," PLA Major General Luo Yuan told the Global Times. Luo's comments were echoed by Xu Guangyu, another military expert and senior consultant at the Chinese Military Disarmament Control Council. Xu said that some young military leaders may have been influenced by these ideas, and warned that they could cause a split within the army. The CMC called for the army to be "steadfast in their actions" and submit to the Party's authority and to the CMC. The CPC announced a series of military reforms at a plenary session of the CPC Central Committee in November 2013 that pushed for the PLA's modernization via major organizational restructuring, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Xi Jinping, who is also the chairman of the CMC, outlined plans to build a more combat-ready military at a time of increasing tensions with neighboring countries, such as Japan. The CMC also vowed in the article that it would deal with disciplinary issues in the army using established rules and regulations. "With China currently experiencing a relatively peaceful period, it is easy for the army to neglect its regulations and the rule of law. The army has to address the corruption problem," Xu said on Wednesday. Xu Caihou, former vice-chairman of CMC, was placed under investigation for corruption. He became the highest-ranking military official brought down in the sweeping nationwide anti-corruption campaign. Investigators claim that he took advantage of his post to secure promotions for individuals and accepted bribes. ^ top ^

Three officials fill vacancy of CPC Central Committee membership (Xinhua)
2014-10-23
Three new members filled vacancies of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) following the dismissal of former members from the Party, according to a communique issued on Thursday. The three new members are Ma Jiantang, Wang Zuo'an and Mao Wanchun, who were alternate members of the CPC Central Committee, according to a communique of the fourth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which was held from Monday to Thursday. Ma is chief of the National Bureau of Statistics, and Wang head of the State Administration of Religious Affairs, while Mao is a member of the standing committee of the CPC Shaanxi provincial committee. The three officials replaced Li Dongsheng, former vice minister of public security, Jiang Jiemin, former head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, and Yang Jinshan, former deputy commander of the Chengdu Military Area Command of the People's Liberation Army. The plenum deliberated and passed a report filed by the CPC's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) on the "serious disciplinary violations" of Li Dongsheng, Jiang Jiemin, Wang Yongchun, Li Chuncheng and Wan Qingliang, according to the communique. The communique said the plenum also deliberated and passed a report filed by the discipline body of the Central Military Commission (CMC) on Yang's "serious disciplinary violations". It also endorsed prior decisions to revoke the membership of six former officials, including Li Dongsheng, Jiang Jiemin, Yang Jinshan, Wang Yongchun, Li Chuncheng and Wan Qingliang. The previous decisions to strip them of their membership were made by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. ^ top ^

Plenum's lack of action on Zhou Yongkang suggests party divisions, analysts say (SCMP)
2014-10-24
That there was no announcement of the fate of disgraced former security tsar Zhou Yongkang or of personnel changes in the army leadership in the communiqué issued at the end of the Communist Party's fourth plenum indicates wide divisions within the party persist. Both announcements had been widely expected. "The absence signalled that the top leadership needs more time to prepare for a trial based on 'rule by law'," Hong Kong-based political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said. "Given previous cases, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspections (CCDI) will need to transfer Zhou's case to the judiciary soon after they expel him from the party." Lau said reforms by President Xi Jinping faced "strong resistance" within the party. "That's why many legal reform schemes that he plans to introduce, such as setting up administrative courts and further dismantling the politics and law committee, were also absent from the communiqué." A formal investigation of Zhou, 71, was announced in late July. But almost three months later, the public is no closer to knowing how Zhou's case will be handled. The former domestic security chief and former Politburo Standing Committee member is the most senior party official to face a graft probe since the Cultural Revolution. There were strong reasons to believe that a statement about Zhou would be made at this plenum. "Rule by law" was the main topic for the four-day meeting of senior leaders, and plenums have been used in the past to announce how cases involving high-ranking cadres would be handled. Former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, for example, was expelled from the party at the seventh plenum in 2012, so many speculated that a final decision on Zhou would be made during the lasted meeting. However, Zhang Ming, a political science professor at Renmin University, was not surprised that no announcement was made. "Zhou is no longer a member of the Central Committee, so according to convention a decision regarding his expulsion from the party should not be made during the plenum," which discusses affairs among members of the Central Committee, Zhang said. Nevertheless, the plenum decided to expel from the party four of Zhou's protégés - Li Dongsheng, a former deputy public security minister; Jiang Jiemin, former head of the state assets regulator and chief of China Petroleum Corporation (CNPC); Wang Yongchun, a deputy general manager of CNPC; and Li Chuncheng, a former deputy party chief of Sichuan. The Central Committee approved reports of investigations of the four and confirmed they will be expelled from the party. "The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection [the party's anti-corruption watchdog] is likely to make the announcement on Zhou," Zhang said. Meanwhile, the silence over the promotion of PLA generals Liu Yuan and Zhang Youxia to more senior roles in the Central Military Commission - the other announcement widely expected from the plenum - disappointed military observers. "I am surprised and very disappointed as I had heard from my sources close to the PLA … that Zhang, who comes from a princeling background and fought with distinction in the border conflicts with Vietnam [in the late 1970s and 80s], was very likely to be promoted," Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong said. ^ top ^

Communiqué stresses CPC leadership in advancing law (Global Times)
2014-10-24
The communiqué issued following a key Party plenum has reaffirmed Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership in advancing the rule of law in China, and calls for the CPC to improve its internal rules and mechanisms. According to the communiqué, issued after the fourth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, the general aim will be to form a system serving "the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics" and build a country under "the socialist rule of law." To realize this target, the leadership of the CPC must be upheld. The Party's ruling and governing ability will be maintained and improved by advancing the rule of law and China can only rely on the CPC to advance it and build a country under the socialist rule of law, observers said. Party leadership, authorized by the Constitution, is consistent with the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics, the communiqué said, and the Party should rule the country in accordance with the Constitution and laws, and rule itself with its internal rules. One of the major tasks listed by the communiqué is to sharpen CPC leadership in pushing forward the rule of law. Yang Xiaojun, a law professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said that China's experience in the past more than six decades has shown that only the CPC has the capability to build a national top-down legal system. Wang Zhanyang, director of the Political Science Department at the Central Institute of Socialism, shared similar sentiments. He said insisting on CPC leadership is a choice borne of realism, as no other individual or organization can mobilize the people and local governments like the CPC. At the same time, the CPC has to advance the rule of law, which is essential to social prosperity and reform, in order to maintain its ruling status and mass support, Wang said. According to the communiqué, the effectiveness of implementing the rule of law will be a significant indicator to judge the work of officials at various levels and will be added to their performance appraisal system. "To link the building of the legal system with officials' careers can be a huge motivator for them to promote building a law-abiding government," said Wang Jingbo, an expert at the China University of Political Science and Law. Some local governments have instituted such a performance appraisal system, she noted, adding that the plenum's decision will help to promote the measures nationwide. The document also stated that Party committees in local governments, judicial organs and people's congresses should lead and supervise the compliance with law. Party members should take the lead to act under the Constitution and law, Yang said, adding its internal mechanisms will be stricter than the law. ^ top ^

China scraps 130,000 'leading groups' in effort to streamline local government (SCMP)
2014-10-24
China, in an effort to streamline bureaucracy, has scrapped over 130,000 of the many “leading groups” that operate at all levels of governments across the nation, state media reported on Thursday. Formally called “leading small groups”, these structures are set up independently by each local party or government body and they primarily serve the same purpose: bringing control over a broad policy area to a single conference table. The central province of Hunan saw 13,000 groups abolished. The coastal eastern province of Jiangsu and the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region each had over 8,000 such panels scrapped. The cancelled groups spanned a broad range of industries – from foot therapy, watermelon sales, steamed bun retail, live pig auctions and even weed removal. The “leading group” scheme was originally designed to allow the government to form temporary task forces to deal with specific issues by helping to cut through bureaucratic roadblocks and working more efficiently in the face of provisional incidents. But the scheme has had the potential for abuse because it has enabled local party cadres to bypass formal government institutions. The “leading groups” are often kept opaque from the public's perspective and the local officials' inclination to rely on them to administrate has led to an excessive number, leading to waste and overstaffing. A district government in Shandong, for instance, set up 19 such groups in 2012 alone and the district chief secretary was leader of all of them, Xinhua reported. One deputy county chief secretary headed nearly 40 different “leading groups”, the official news agency said. In a separate case, northeastern province of Liaoning in 2013 scrapped its “provincial SARS prevention leading small group” – ten years after the corona virus epidemic outbreak in 2003. The nationwide order is part of President Xi Jinping's “mass line education and implementation campaign” announced last year. It focuses on the need for the authorities to be down-to-earth by disciplining local governments against extravagance, laziness, laxity, excessive formality, and bureaucratism. While this measure is specifically targeted at local government, the nation's highest-level of leadership has seen three new “leading groups” established since the third plenary session of the 18th Communist Party held last November. In addition to the other pre-existing government structures Xi took the reins of after he came to power in 2012, the president is also head of at least six high-level “leading groups” overseeing national security, foreign policy, cybersecurity, comprehensive reform, defence systems and military reform. State media said the “leading groups” allow national leaders to effectively coordinate the actions of several agencies. Experts have said this is what has enabled Xi to amass more power within less than two years than his two immediate predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Water diversion to improve Beijing's water quality: official (Global Times)
2014-10-21
Water from Beijing's taps later this month will be much cleaner than currently thanks to China's south-to-north water diversion project, an official said Monday. Sun Guosheng, director of the project's construction commission office in Beijing, told Xinhua that water from the south will have much less hard mineral sediment, a problem that has haunted Beijing residents for years. "Beijing's water sources, mainly from underground, contain too much incrustation scale such as calcium and magnesian ion, posing potential health hazards," Sun said. "With the new water, people's life quality will be improved," he said. The middle route of China's south-to-north water diversion project will see a massive 9.5 billion cubic meters of water per year pumped through canals and pipes from the Danjiangkou reservoir in central Hubei Province to the northern provinces of Henan and Hebei and to Beijing. The water transfer project was conceived by former Chairman Mao Zedong in 1952. The State Council approved the ambitious project in December 2002 after debate lasting nearly half a century. ^ top ^

Clean air? Don't hold your breath (China Daily)
2014-10-23
Intense air pollution is expected to strike China's northern cities twice more before November. Smog of moderate and intense levels settled in on Wednesday evening and will last until Saturday in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the National Meteorological Center predicted on Tuesday. During that period, visibility will fall to 2 to 6 km. A forthcoming thick fog in some parts of the region may cut it to less than 500meters. The second period of heavy smog will be around Oct 28. October this year will have had four periods of hazardous smoggy weather. Both the smog's intensity and frequency are rare for the area at this time of year. Cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region have seen intense air pollution twice earlier this month, from Oct 7 to Oct 11 and from Friday to Monday. During that time, the capital had heavy smog for seven days, already four days more than the same period last year. Ma Xuekuan, chief weather forecaster of the National Meteorological Center, said October is when smoggy weather often happens. "But it is very rare to see this high intensity of smog," Ma said. He said the main cause of all the recent smog is that cold air and wind, which can help disperse pollution, have been less frequent and weak in October. "Under stable meteorological conditions, fog and haze usually occur because there's no cold air or wind, "he said. The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region has had five days of no cold air and wind since the beginning of October - one day more than the same period in recent years. The average wind speed has also fallen. In Beijing, it is now 5.4 km per hour, 1km/hour less than usual for this time of year. Pollutants can easily accumulate when the wind speed is slower than 7km/h. The burning of straw in some parts of the region may also have contributed to the smog's formation, although it is not a primary cause. Ma said fog is formed by tiny drops of water, and haze is mainly caused by particles of pollutants in the air. High air humidity in recent days may have resulted in the high intensity of smog and poor visibility. The topography of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region also plays a role in forming smog. The region is neighbored by Taihang Mountain to the west and the Yanshan Mountains to the north. Local generated pollutants and inflows can easily accumulate in areas near the mountains and cause the intense air pollution, Ma said. Hua Cong, an expert in charge of environmental prediction at the National Meteorological Information Center, said with the end of summer, rain that can help remove air pollutants to an extent has gradually fallen. In addition, lower temperatures in autumn have cooled the activity of the atmospheric boundary layer, which can speed up the accumulation of water droplets and particle matter. […] ^ top ^

Taxi passengers gain new clout (China Daily)
2014-10-23
A new taxi industry regulation will allow passengers to refuse to pay fares if drivers break certain rules. According to the regulation, which comes into effect on Jan 1, if drivers don't use meters properly, don't get passengers to destinations on time, don't give receipts or don't accept payment by subway cards, passengers can refuse to pay the fare. The regulation also requires drivers to choose the most direct route, and says they cannot refuse passengers' requests, negotiate the price or drop off passengers in the middle of the trip. Drivers who don't obey the rule may be punished with fines ranging from 50 yuan to 200 yuan ($8 to $32) In addition, the regulation creates more detailed standards, including rules that drivers cannot smoke or eat food with strong smells. The regulation encourages cities to develop a taxi appointment service through phone, mobile app or website. Zhang Jinfang, 28, said that taxi services in Beijing have improved a lot recently, but there are still some problems. "I always noticed that drivers like to make phone calls when they are driving, or are too focused on the mobile apps that alert them of coming orders from other passengers," said Zhang. "This really distracts the driver's attention and it's not safe." A driver surnamed Shen in Beijing approved of the regulation, saying some drivers' bad behavior had damaged the industry's image. "As licensed drivers, we should set stricter standards for ourselves and provide passengers better service. We must give receipts if customers ask, which is a difference from unlicensed cabs," Shen said. But he said passengers who break appointments should be also punished. "If I fail to keep an appointment, my company will quickly find and criticize me, and I might be fined. But most of the time, it's the passengers who don't keep an appointment," he said. "A mutual understanding must be established between passengers and us," he added. Yu Lingyun, a professor specializing in traffic laws at Tsinghua University, spoke highly of the regulation, saying its enforcement will alleviate the problem of unlicensed taxis in the capital. There are some problems with smartphone applications, like drivers who don't show up or who want more money, so it's urgent to regulate them, Yu said. In the United Kingdom, for example, passengers are accustomed to booking taxis, "but in our country it's in the beginning stage", he said. He suggested taxi companies make a blacklist of passengers who break appointments without good reason. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

'Naked officials' may lose shot at higher office (China Daily)
2014-10-23
Guangdong tightening rules to keep them from joining families overseas. Guangdong province plans to bar officials who have spouses and children living overseas from playing leading roles in government departments, public institutions, people's organizations and State-owned and State-held enterprises. "Naked officials" also will not be allowed to work in "important or sensitive" posts, including those related to security, finance, financial regulation, human resources and accounting. Anyone considered for promotion to a leading post will have to truthfully report their marriage, house property, personal investment and debt, self-discipline records and the jobs of their spouses and children. The provisions were formulated in the province's draft on corruption prevention, the first such anti-graft measure in the country, which was released for public comment on Wednesday. The regulations will be effective in preventing corruption, said Zhang Jin'gen, a professor of political science at the School of Government of Sun Yat-sen University. "Disqualifying naked officials from leading roles can reduce the risk of having corrupt officials who flee the country," said the researcher at the Guangzhou university's Center for Anti-Corruption Studies. "However, it's better to authorize an independent third party to investigate the backgrounds of the State personnel in line for promotion rather than solely rely on their own reports," Zhang said. "And the provincial government needs to set specific standards on examining the collected information and picking out naked officials." According to the draft, the reports handed in by public officers being considered for promotion should be made public "within a certain scope", which Zhang interpreted as "within the Party committees' organization department". "The reports should be released to the general public, who have proved their power online to supervise the government and uncover naked officials and corrupt officials," he said. As required by the central inspection team in February, Guangdong has identified 2,190 naked officials and reassigned 866 of them. ^ top ^

Fears new Guangzhou registration law will stifle NGOs (SCMP)
2014-10-24
Guangzhou's non-government sector fears an imminent clampdown after city authorities said they were considering new measures against "illegal" social organisations. The city government launched an unusually brief 10-day public consultation on a controversial regulation that would close down and confiscate the property of "influential NGOs without legal status" that were raising funds, organising events in the name of the social organisations or that had continued operating after their registration had been revoked. "Ah Qiang", the pseudonym of a member of the Guangzhou-based concern group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays China expressed the fears of his group. "According to this rule, all homosexual rights groups … can be shut down at any time because none of them have been granted registration with the city's Civil Affairs Bureau," he said. "These organisations wish to be registered legally but it seems the authorities are trying their best to deter them." The proposed regulation was posted on the bureau's website on October 16 but it was not picked up by local media until Wednesday. The public have until Sunday to air their views on the matter. Many local NGOs say they are still struggling to gain legal status even though a policy relaxing NGO registration was launched in 2012. Professor Guo Weiqing, of Sun Yat-sen University's school of government, was "shocked" to see the new regulation. "It is more important to review the policy relaxing registration than eradicate NGOs. I don't understand where is this coming from." Guo praised the former policy for nurturing social development because it gave the public "something to look forward to", but the new rule "essentially pushes things backward". The regulation also seems to work against the spirit of the 2012 policy launched by Wang Yang, the former Guangdong party secretary who is now a vice-premier. That policy relaxed NGO registration as part of Wang's wider pledge to "reform social management". A Guangzhou Civil Affairs Bureau spokesman from the office that manages NGOs told the Southern Metropolis News yesterday it would listen to public opinion and refine the regulation. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Southern Xinjiang reforms hukou in effort to draw talent, investment (Global Times)
2014-10-21
Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is encouraging more people to settle in southern Xinjiang by relaxing the conditions required to obtain a household registration, or hukou, in an effort to attract talent and investment to facilitate development in the area. According to a document on the region's hukou reform, no restrictions or conditions will be imposed on those who want to settle in southern Xinjiang and they will be able to enjoy the same benefits in education, social welfare and employment as local people. Released on Sunday night, the regional reform plan is in line with the country's hukou system reform, which was announced by the State Council and aims at pushing forward urbanization and equality. The loose household registration policy in southern Xinjiang can assist the central government's preferential policies for the local economy and social development, Xu Taizhi, a senior population management officer from Xinjiang's public security department, was cited by news portal ts.cn as saying. High school students in Xinjiang's southern regions, which are mainly inhabited by ethnic Uyghur people and have lower living standards, will receive free education, according to a statement released after a meeting in late May of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee chaired by General Secretary Xi Jinping. The country's top economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), vowed in June that it would gear up its support for southern Xinjiang by speeding up the construction of major transportation, water conservation and agricultural infrastructure in the region. Turgunjan Tursun, an associate research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that pushing forward the development of southern Xinjiang would require talent and investment from outside areas, but the security situation there has stopped many from coming to the area. In response to some speculation that the new policy aims to uplift the proportion of people from Han ethnic group in the local population, Tursun noted that such an assumption is an "over-interpretation" as Xinjiang is just following the country's trend of urbanization. "Urbanization will improve the local economy and residents' livelihoods, which will be helpful to maintain social stability in the region," said Tursun. While applauding the intention of the new policy, some people held doubts over the feasibility of the policy in attracting talent and investment. "People might still be cautious if the working and living environment in the region has not improved," an official surnamed Niu, who works in the southern Xinjiang city of Hotan, told the Global Times. In recent years, southern Xinjiang has witnessed a series of terrorist attacks, which caused heavy casualties. In contrast, to encourage settlement in the southern part of the region, Urumqi, the capital city of the region and Karamay, an oil city in northern Xinjiang, will have their population sizes controlled, according to the new policy. ^ top ^

Global anti-terror agenda should not miss out Xinjiang (Global Times)
2014-10-24
With the rise of the Islamic State (IS), terrorism continues to wreak havoc on global peace and stability. By sweeping across almost half of Iraq, causing atrocities, and revealing its ambition to establish its own state, the extremist IS has apparently opened up a new vision for its fellow terrorist groups, including its "frenemy" Al Qaeda. In the first issue of Resurgence, an English-language magazine recently founded by Al Qaeda Central Command, there is a strong focus on the Asia-Pacific region, with an article entitled "10 Facts about East Turkistan." Besides distortions of the history and status quo of China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and instigating hatred between the region's ethnic groups, the point of the article is directly articulated, implying that Al Qaeda is looking at the bigger picture. Al Qaeda's trajectory reveals some new characteristics of global terrorism, among which the convergence of different terrorist groups and the pursuit of a caliphate are prominent. The old and fragmented pattern is being changed. Terrorist groups are no longer limited to their own independent activities but are trying to find consensus amid competition. More offshoots of Al Qaeda have pledged allegiance to the IS, whom they believe will lead them to this strong caliphate. Despite internal conflicts, the convergence of these terrorist groups is posing the greatest threat to world stability. The victory of the IS in Iraq has clearly boosted the terror group's confidence. In late June, it released a map of its visionary caliphate, whose vast land stretches from Spain to Xinjiang. This sudden focus on China means Al Qaeda, by taking advantage of the rise of global terrorism and the withdrawal of NATO in Afghanistan, is attempting to expand its influence. It will pose an unprecedented challenge to Xinjiang's security as the Chinese government and security forces will not only face domestic separatists and terrorists, but also must fight against the encroachment of global terrorism. Under general circumstances, Xinjiang's prominence in the anti-terrorist undertaking will be highlighted and the area will be irreversibly included in this global war on terror. Xinjiang's security and stability will not only rely on the effectiveness of domestic government policies or the strength of regional anti-terrorist efforts, but be deeply influenced by the global scenarios in this regard. Beijing's iron fist to fight terrorism should be extended beyond its borders, which will help it secure the stability of its westernmost land. International cooperation is playing a bigger role in anti-terrorism, and China must enhance its efforts as a part of it. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Fears over 'radicals' as protest violence increases, but sources say Beijing won't be embarrassed into action (SCMP)
2014-10-20
Beijing will not seek a quick end to the political turmoil in Hong Kong to avoid possible embarrassment ahead of some important domestic and international events, sources say. People familiar with central government thinking also said there were "worrying signs" that radical groups in the city were pushing for the city's de facto political independence under the cover of democracy and were "actively collaborating with foreign forces". For the first time yesterday, the People's Daily linked the Occupy movement to an attempt to seek Hong Kong's political independence. It said in a commentary that the movement's organisers wanted Hong Kong to have "self-determination" and even to be "independent". Protests in Mong Kok are getting increasingly violent as the political elite gather in Beijing for a four-day meeting today. Dozens of people, including police officers, were injured in clashes over the weekend. Many officials, including Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, have said the movement is getting out of control. "There are external forces getting involved," Leung told a television talk show. "This is not entirely a domestic movement and it is getting out of hand." Pan-democrat lawmakers, in a joint statement, said the confrontation resulted from Leung's attempt to clear the rally site in Mong Kok. They urged restraint on both sides. "It is biased to call this movement 'out of control' or 'riotous'. A vast majority of protesters are peaceful," they said. Police announced they had arrested a 23-year-old man in Tin Shui Wai on Saturday for posting messages online calling on protesters to charge police cordons and to paralyse the railway. With ministerial-level meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum in Beijing just a week away, many are watching how the central government handles the protests. Dong Likun, a retired senior research fellow at the Institute of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, a think tank under the State Council's Development Research Centre, said Beijing would not feel embarrassed if the protests continued during the Apec meeting. "In a democratic society, it's normal to see arguments, protests and dissenting voices," he said. Another mainland policy researcher agreed. "Some [in Hong Kong] may think if they make a bigger noise now, the central government will be under international pressure. But Chinese leaders will make no compromise because what the protesters ask is unlawful," he said. "They will also avoid bloodshed. As long as we operate within the framework of the 'one country, two systems' principle, no foreign country can fault China on this." Dong said Beijing "cannot concede anymore or Hong Kong will be back under a foreign power's control". "I think the central government will reconsider its policies towards Hong Kong... we have stressed too much on 'two systems' and not enough on 'one country'," he said. Televised talks between the Hong Kong government and students have been scheduled for 6-8pm tomorrow. Alex Chow Yong-kang, secretary general of the Federation of Students, said the time would enable more people to watch the coverage live. He said Occupy Central founders and Scholarism had been invited to watch from an adjacent room. ^ top ^

Talks fail to narrow gap between student leaders and Hong Kong government (SCMP)
2014-10-21
The government and student leaders remain poles apart on how the city should elect its leader in 2017, after their televised talks yesterday failed to resolve the issues that triggered the Occupy Central mass sit-ins. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government would submit a report to Beijing reflecting the latest public sentiment and would consider setting up a platform for dialogue on constitutional development. But that failed to please the five leaders from the Federation of Students. Lam and fellow officials ruled out the possibility of reversing the National People's Congress Standing Committee's August decision imposing tight limits on the 2017 election. They also rejected the students' demand for public nomination of candidates. Lam called on protesters to withdraw, but federation leaders said they would not retreat as the government had not given any concrete response. Lam said the government respected the students' passion in pursuing democracy, but added: "However respectful one's ideal is, it should be achieved by reasonable and lawful ways." Tens of thousands of people at the protest sites in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok watched the televised talks - the first face-to-face dialogue between top officials and activists in the city's history. The two-hour meeting was broadcast by mainland and overseas news organisations. CCTV's 24-hour news channel ran a couple of minutes of the debate live. Lam said the government would submit a report to the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office to "reflect what had happened in Hong Kong and the concerns of different sectors" since the Standing Committee's announcement that only two or three candidates could run for chief executive in 2017 and they must win majority support from a 1,200-strong nominating committee. "The report will serve as a crucial reference for constitutional development in future," she said. Lam stressed arrangements for electing the city's leader could be amended after universal suffrage was attained in 2017. There was also room to make the election more democratic within the restrictive framework, she said. Hong Kong was not an independent entity, but only a special administrative region, she said. "It cannot decide on its own its political development." At the end of the talks, Lam said they had been constructive. "There was no quarrel and no confrontation. I hope this is not the only time we meet." The federation's deputy secretary general, Lester Shum, rejected Lam's call for the protesters to end their sit-in. "Have we not made enough concessions? So many young people … are even willing to be arrested and go to jail," he said. "What do we want? The right to vote and the right to stand in elections. Now the government is only telling us to pack up and go home." [...] ^ top ^

Protesters plan counter action against court injunctions to clear the streets (SCMP)
2014-10-22
Protesters intend to argue in court that injunctions granted to bar them from occupying parts of two sit-in sites restrict their right to free speech. Protesters said they planned to appear in the High Court on Friday, when a judge will weigh whether to extend three temporary restraining orders granted on Monday barring protesters from blocking portions of Nathan Road in Kowloon and pathways to Citic Tower in Admiralty. The High Court granted the orders to two transport groups and the office tower's owner. Protesters have remained in the areas. Yesterday, Ng Ting-pong, 38, who said he quit his job to spend the past 20 days at the Mong Kok protest site, was applying for legal aid with the intention of having lawyers represent him as an interested party in court on Friday. He said he would argue that the injunction violated Hongkongers' freedom of expression. In Admiralty, the Reverend Bob Kraft, who has offered guidance to protesters for the past three weeks, said that he would be in court "as one of the parties", but did not specify what role he would play. Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a solicitor and principal lecturer at the University of Hong Kong law faculty, said that on Friday the court would likely try to strike a balance between the right to demonstrate and the damages claimed by the applicants. Barrister Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, of the Civic Party, said it would be the court's duty to decide if the evidence presented on Monday had complied with the principle of "full and frank disclosure". Monday's injunctions were granted to a taxi drivers' group and a minibus operators' group seeking to disperse the Mong Kok protesters. Another injunction was granted to Goldon Investment, owner of Citic Tower in Admiralty near government headquarters, where protesters have been lining pavements and roads since September 27. Protesters were not represented in court on Monday. Building staff at Citic Tower tried to remove all the barricades near its car park and Tim Mei Avenue yesterday afternoon. About 10 protesters sat on one row of roadblocks, preventing their removal. It was the last row of barriers remaining near the office tower at around 6pm. Earlier in the day, lawmaker and lawyer Albert Ho Chun-Yan negotiated with the building staff to let the barricades remain. He said that Citic staff would not enforce the court order and wouldn't remove the barricades until Friday, and not without calling him first. In Mong Kok, representatives of the Taxi Association and the Taxi Drivers and Operators Association posted two orders on barricades on the southbound and northbound lanes of Nathan Road, and one near Soy Street. Lawyers for Chiu Luen Public Light Bus Company said they would enforce their order today. More than 900 complaints against police officers related to the Occupy movement have been filed to the force's Complaints Against Police Office. Of those, 23 cases were referred to the Independent Police Complaints Council, said Larry Kwok Lam-kwong, its chairman. The cases mostly involved complaints of use of excessive force, negligence and inappropriate behaviour. ^ top ^

HK students at risk of anti-China scheming (Global Times)
2014-10-22
The Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong has lasted more than three weeks. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Tuesday held talks with the Hong Kong Federation of Students. But given a lack of positivity on the part of the latter during the talks, it remains unknown when the Occupy movement will end. The external political situation concerning Occupy Central is increasingly clear-cut. Western public opinion has given it full support. Besides, a mix of traditional forces that are confronting the current Chinese regime, including Tibetan, Xinjiang and Taiwan separatists, Falun Gong devotees, and pro-democracy activists, have beaten the drums for the Hong Kong protests like cheerleaders. The Occupy Central activists and their adherents must wake up. They shouldn't act as a puppet of those hostile external forces. With the Hong Kong radical forces becoming a new member, the anti-China camp seems to be expanding. If this is the case, it will yield terrible results. Hong Kong, the Asian financial hub and a role model for the rule of law, will be held hostage by those hostile external forces, transforming into a battlefield between them and the rising China. We suggest the Occupy Central activists not take on such a perilous role. Being already embroiled in the political competition in the Asia-Pacific region, they may have been pushed further than they originally intended. The young Hong Kong students who have participated in Occupy Central should know that China, which is developing rapidly, is their home country and Hong Kong is a part of China's rise. They therefore enjoy more opportunities than their counterparts from a smaller country. Meanwhile, they have to accordingly take responsibility to safeguard China's security as it rises. If the Occupy Central forces keep advancing, this will attract more international anti-China forces. The longer the protests last, the harder it will be for the Occupy Central forces to back down. Incredible role reversals have often occurred throughout history. A marginal part or even central part of a camp could be converted into the enemies of that camp. We strongly hope the Occupy Central activities won't do so. The West-supported external forces will continue cheering for Occupy Central. Exiles will take the Occupy movement as their chance. Their aim is to strike a heavy blow against China and take it down, but is this the goal of the young student participants of Occupy Central? If not, they should withdraw from the protests as soon as possible. And for a small number of hostile elements to China, the country knows how to deal with them. ^ top ^

CY Leung shows how not to talk to the world's media (SCMP)
2014-10-23
Someone sent me The New York Times' write-up of the by-now-infamous interview with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and I thought it was a spoof from The Onion. Actually, the New York satirical publication would not have been able to invent the story because the chief executive was saying things that simply couldn't be made up. You have probably heard his comment about how open elections would let the poor and grass roots of society dominate politics and create a welfare state. The sentiment is nothing unusual. It's how the business elite and the government think, with their steadfast refusal to expand the social safety net for fear of creating a welfare state. We only do welfare for the rich. Still, it's rare to have a leader speak so frankly. "You look at the meaning of the words 'broadly representative', it's not numeric representation," Leung said. "You have to take care of all the sectors in Hong Kong as much as you can and if it's entirely a numbers game and numeric representation, then obviously you would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than US$1,800 a month. "Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies." Leung must be under a lot of stress from the Occupy movement. It's not that people say things they don't mean under stress; rather they say things they do mean. To explain how he took care of "all sectors", he boasted how he wooed 20 sports representatives on the election committee that led him to the top job. "If it was an entirely universal suffrage election," he said, "then the sports community would not count, they would not feature on my radar screen." Humm … maybe they really shouldn't loom so large on your radar screen, Mr Leung? On having the expensively renovated Government House to host meetings with aides because protesters were besieging his office, he bragged: "We didn't miss a beat." And commenting on foreign forces being behind Occupy, Leung assured his audience: "I didn't overhear it in a teahouse." Boy, oh boy, thank God for that! Leung has set the gold standard on how not to do a media interview for generations of politicians to come. ^ top ^

Government source hints at tougher line on Occupy protests if deadlock persists (SCMP)
2014-10-23
Hong Kong's government yesterday increased pressure on Occupy protesters, warning that "hawks" favouring tough action to clear sit-in sites would gain the upper hand if the deadlock between officials and student leaders was not resolved soon. The warning came a day after unprecedented talks between top officials and student leaders failed to persuade the protesters to end the occupation that has paralysed parts of the city for more than three weeks. "If the conciliatory approach doesn't work, doves within the government would be sidelined while hawks would gain the upper hand," one person familiar with the situation said. "We are worried that the administration would eventually use force to disperse protesters and a certain degree of bloodshed would be unavoidable." Tensions rose at the Occupy protest sites, with a new application for a court order to eject the crowd on Harcourt Road in Admiralty and a man splashing a flammable solvent at Mong Kok protesters. Neither the government nor the Federation of Students have announced plans to seek a second round of talks to end the protests, triggered by restrictive rules for the 2017 chief executive election laid down by Beijing in August. Federation leader Alex Chow Yong-kang said his group had not decided whether to seek another meeting. "Officials made half a step and showed they were willing to talk," Chow said. "But unfortunately, they took us nowhere and their ideas offered no fundamental cure for the problems." In the televised talks, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told students she would consider making a report to the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office to reflect the public sentiments during the pro-democracy protests. But she rejected students' demand that Hong Kong ask the national legislature to withdraw its framework for the 2017 poll, under which the public could vote on two or three candidates who win support from a majority of a 1,200-strong nominating committee. Lam also said a "platform" would be set up to gauge views on further constitutional changes beyond 2017. A government source questioned the use of further dialogue if students refused to retreat from protest sites, asking: "What can we achieve if student leaders stick to their guns?" Chinese University vice chancellor Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu said he hoped there would be further talks. Sung, who is understood to have communicated closely with the federation leaders, recognised both sides had expressed sincerity and said students were "very mature and well prepared" for the talks. Executive Councillors Lam Woon-kwong and Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun also called for further talks. Separately, China used the visit of jazz star Kenny G to the Admiralty protest site yesterday to reiterate its warning against foreign interference. "Kenny G's music is popular in China but China's position on the illegal Occupy Central activities in Hong Kong is very clear," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. ^ top ^

Public support for Occupy movement growing, survey shows (SCMP)
2014-10-23
Public support for the Occupy movement has grown since the campaign began, and it continues to divide residents, a Chinese University survey has found. Support for the movement was particularly significant among young people, pan-democrats and moderates. Pollsters said they believed that the police force's controversial handling of protesters - including using tear gas and batons - was a catalyst. Nearly 38 per cent of respondents said they supported the Occupy movement, which seeks to have chief executive candidates in 2017 run without vetting by Beijing. More than 35 per cent said they did not support the Occupy protests. The poll, conducted between October 8 and 15, questioned 802 Hongkongers aged 15 and above by phone. The level of support grew 6.7 percentage points from a poll a month earlier, and opposition shrank by 10.8 percentage points. The university conducted the earlier survey between September 10 and 17, just days before the class boycott started. Professor Francis Lee Lap-fung, one of the pollsters with Chinese University's school of journalism and communication, said: "Mathematically speaking, neither side has really represented the majority." Lee said the police force's tactics to control protesters - including allegations that protesters were beaten - might have triggered the surge in public support for the Occupy movement. The poll found that 42.2 per cent of respondents considered the police's handling of conflicts between Occupy supporters and opponents to be inappropriate, compared with 26.7 per cent who found the methods appropriate. Nearly 54 per cent said it was inappropriate to use tear gas against protesters on September 28. Twenty-two per cent said it was appropriate. Among respondents aged 15 to 24, support for the movementrose from 46.7 per cent to 62.1 per cent. Among pan-democrats and moderates, the support increased from 52.3 per cent to 66.3 per cent, and from 18.5 per cent to 26.6 per cent respectively. Asked if they trusted the police force, 44 per cent said they still did, while 28.6 per cent respondents said they did not. The survey had a sampling error of 3.5 percentage points. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan tests submarine-launched Harpoon missiles supplied by the US: report (SCMP)
2014-10-20
Anti-ship missiles that enhance the attack capabilities of the Taiwan navy's Dutch-built Hai Hu submarines successfully tested, according to sources quoted by local media. Taiwan's navy successfully test-fired two anti-ship missiles from a submarine in the first such exercise since the weapons were bought from the United States, Taiwanese media reported. The Harpoon missiles were launched during a drill last week from the Hai Hu, or Sea Tiger, a Dutch-built conventional submarine, the Liberty Times and the United Evening News said yesterday, citing unnamed naval sources. Taipei's defence ministry spokesman, Major General Luo Shou-he, refused to comment on the reports, saying only that the navy had successfully carried out its training, the Central News Agency reported. The Taiwanese navy started taking delivery of the missiles last year to arm two submarines. The sea-skimming missiles, which have a range of 278km, would boost the attack capabilities of the two submarines previously only armed with torpedoes with a much more limited range, the naval sources were quoted as saying by the newspapers. The defence ministry declined to comment on the reports. Taiwan, which already has Harpoon missiles installed on frigates and F-16 fighter jets, ordered the submarine-launched weapons in 2008 as part of a US$6.5 billion arms sale that was strongly criticised by Beijing. The deal also included advanced interceptor Patriot missiles and some 30 Apache attack helicopters. Ties between Taipei and Beijing have improved markedly since the island's president, Ma Ying-jeou, and his mainland-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) party came to power in 2008 promising to strengthen trade links and allow more mainlanders to visit the island. Ma was re-elected in 2012. Beijing has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence, prompting Taipei to seek more advanced weapons, largely from the US. However, it was reported last week that Taiwan was seeking US support to build its own submarines after failing to get the military hardware from the US or other countries. Washington has not followed through with a 2001 deal to sell eight diesel-electric submarines over fears it could hurt mainland-US relations. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

S. Korea, DPRK exchange fire near border (Global Times)
2014-10-20
Militaries from South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) exchanged fires on Sunday across their border near the Paju city in Gyeonggi Province, Yonhap news agency reported. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said South Korea fired warning shots to the DPRK border post at around 5:40 p.m. local time (0840 GMT) when the DPRK soldiers were approaching the military demarcation line in Paju, according to the Yonhap. The South Korean side has broadcast warning messages before the firing. The DPRK military fired back and the gun fight lasted for around 10 minutes. No casualties of the South Korean soldiers were reported so far, Yonhap quoted the Joint Chiefs of Staff as saying. It added that South Korea has withdrawn tourists and farmers near its fortified border with the DPRK. ^ top ^

Jeffrey Fowle, American freed from detention in North Korea, has joyful family reunion (SCMP)
2014-10-23
An American detained for nearly half a year in North Korea returned to an emotional homecoming yesterday amid tears of joy and hugs from his wife and surprised children. A plane carrying Jeffrey Fowle landed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the state of Ohio, where he was greeted by his family. Base Colonel John Devillier said Fowle had a tearful reunion with his three children, wife and other relatives. He said Fowle was happy and seemed thrilled to be back in the US. Devillier said Fowle's family hadn't told the children why they were being brought to the base and that it was a surprise for them to see their father walk off the plane. The State Department announced on Tuesday that the 56-year-old had been released. He was taken into custody after leaving a Bible at a nightclub. Christian evangelism is considered a crime in North Korea. Fowle had been awaiting trial - the only one of three Americans held by Pyongyang who had not been convicted of charges. The two others were each sentenced to years in prison after court trials that lasted no more than 90 minutes. The three Americans entered North Korea separately. Fowle was flown out of North Korea on a US military jet from Pyongyang's international airport. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un released Fowle taking into consideration the "repeated requests" of US President Barack Obama, North Korean state news agency KCNA said yesterday. "The criminal was handed over to the US side according to a relevant legal procedure," KCNA said. In Berlin, US Secretary of State John Kerry said "there was no quid pro quo" for the release of Fowle. "We are very concerned about the remaining American citizens who are in North Korea, and we have great hopes that North Korea will see the benefit of releasing them also as soon as possible," Kerry said. "We're in constant touch with their families, we're working on their release, we've talked to the Chinese and others, and we have a high focus on it," he said. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Tuesday that Fowle was seen by doctors and appeared to be in good medical health. She declined to give more details about his release except to thank the government of Sweden, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, for its "tireless efforts". Relations between Washington and Pyongyang, never warm, are at a particularly low point, and the US has sought unsuccessfully for months to send a high-level representative to North Korea to negotiate acquittals for all three men. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

President Ts.Elbegdorj: This is a manifestation of trust and confidence in Mongolia (infomongolia)
2014-10-20
The 10th ASEM Summit concluded in Milan, Italy on October 17, 2014. Mongolia has won the right to host the next 11th ASEM Summit in Ulaanbaatar in July 2015. President Ts.Elbegdorj answered the questions of media reporters and journalists accompanying the Mongolian delegation to ASEM Summit in Italy. It has just been announced that Mongolia is to host the 11th ASEM Summit. Please share your feelings and impression at this moment. This is indeed a splendid moment. To be chosen a host country of ASEM Summit testifies how highly Mongolia is regarded internationally. This is a great news, great joy for the Mongolian people, we must congratulate and thank our people. Every Mongolian citizen has contributed to the good name and high reputation of Mongolia. The success of the people of Mongolia is acknowledged, and Asia and Europe accord trust and confidence in Mongolia. Fifty three countries have joined the ASEM. This 10th ASEM Summit is being attended by heads of state or government of 43 of 53 of its members. The scope of the Asia-Europe Meeting encompasses over 60% of the world's trade. It is a great responsibility for us to host and organize ASEM summit in 2016. The 11th ASEM Summit is special because it marks the 20th anniversary of establishment of this organization. What are the dates of the 11th ASEM Summit? We discussed the dates with the leaders of European and Asian countries. UN and other major international meetings usually take place in autumn. For Mongolia the most suitable time falls at the end of July. So we agreed to organize the ASEM Summit in the last week of July of 2016. [...] Why, do you think, Mongolia was given the right to host ASEM Summit? How will Mongolia benefit from it? Of course, other Asian countries did want to win this right. And, importantly, the discussion, the decision to give Mongolia this right was not sudden. This is a result of many years of hard work in our international relations, this is a result of a hard work of our working groups. It also sets a performance criterion for Mongolia. Since Mongolia is capable to host such a large international summit, we will be able to host major international sports and cultural events too, and such opportunities will open up too. This, in its turn, will strengthen international trust and confidence in our businesses, NGOs, general public. Therefore, the value, the significance of such important international summits are truly enormous for Mongolia. ^ top ^

State officials are playing with the budget (UB Post)
2014-10-23
The Mongolian National Audit Office examined state budget spending in 2013. The examination showed that state officials were exceeding the budget amount to be spent on international assignments. The Democratic Party took most the seats during the last election and established its government. At that time, the Prime Minister said that he would work with his Cabinet members six days a week; if there was anyone who couldn't tolerate this work load, then they could leave. He also criticized previous governments that passed “corrupt” budgets. But, in reality, his government was no different. To clarify, most of the Members of Cabinet exceeded their budgets for international assignments, and Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Bold topped the list. He overspent the budget by 558 million MNT, which was set at nearly 2.79 billion MNT. (See Table 1.) The ministry explained this issue and said that the overspending of the budget was because of transportation costs for 40 diplomatic representatives, referring to the account of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Whether this explanation was true or not, it calmed down taxpayers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs mostly uses foreign currency to cover transportation costs instead of Mongolian currency. They suggest that they estimated that one USD was equivalent to 1,336 MNT at the time of budget planning, which may have also led to the shortage of funds. Other ministers exceeded their budgets by 17 million to 93 million MNT. But not all of the MPs blew through their budgets. Some people, including the PM, conserved their budgets, which is really good news. […] Mid-level officials of the State are playing with state funds more than our ministers. To point out a recent example, there are several officials in the Civil Aviation Authority who always had international assignments, including B.Gan-Ochir, an administration head, and L.Nergui, a head of the finance and economics department. They both participated in a two-week conference in France and Italy this February, and recently went to a meeting in Taiwan. At present, they are about to go to Korea, the U.S., and Canada to visit Mongolian students who are studying there. […] It would be a very long list if we mentioned every example of state funds being wasted by public officials as if it were their own money. So, where is the implementation of the law that limits and enforces the conservation of the budget? ^ 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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