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
  16-20.1.17, No. 656  
    Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

Mongolia

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Switzerland

Switzerland tour throws limelight on Xi's global vision and charisma (Global Times)
2017-01-20
The Old Town of Bern is usually quiet on weekends, yet the tranquility was shattered on Saturday by a group of demonstrators chanting slogans against globalization and free trade along Europe's longest weather-protected shopping alley. The protest, its participants mostly young, offers a glimpse of the simmering sentiment among those in the West who felt lost in the formidable global trend. What is wrong with globalization? Why has the West, its biggest beneficiary, turned into its biggest opponent? What does the world need to do about it? In his just concluded trip to Switzerland, Chinese President Xi Jinping offered his answers to those questions of the times. At Davos, the weathervane of the global economy, and in Geneva, the cradle of modern multilateralism, he presented China's prescription for global woes and his vision for mankind. Besides his inspiring global statesmanship, Xi's first foreign visit in the new year has also shed more light on the broad spectrum of his charisma.
A VISIONARY LEADER Xi's Switzerland trip came at a time when the world is standing at a crossroad. A vehement debate about the impact and future of globalization has emerged from across the globe, notably in the developed world. In two keynote speeches delivered respectively at the 2017 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG), the Chinese leader figured out the cruxes of the current social and economic problems, charted a new and right path for global economic integration, and envisioned a better tomorrow for all. While addressing global political and business heavyweights at the WEF, Xi voiced his belief that economic globalization, despite being a "doubt-edged sword," should not bear all the blames. He pointed out that the real problems are a lack of robust driving forces for global growth, inadequate global economic governance and uneven global development. WEF founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said the Chinese president's speech was "very important" and "brought us some sunshine" at this historic moment. In his UNOG address, the Chinese leader presented to the world his vision of building a community of shared future for all mankind. To turn this notion into reality, Xi urged members of the international community to jointly promote dialogue and consultation, cooperation and cross-cultural exchanges, as well as environmental protection.
A CHAMPION OF INNOVATION Innovation is the hinge of the China-Switzerland partnership as both countries value it as an engine to boost bilateral cooperation and their respective development. Back in China, Xi has been a strong advocate for innovation. He lists it as the first of China's "five development concepts," with which he aims to pivot the Chinese economy away from the old model that relied heavily on smokestack industries to a more sustainable and environment-friendly one. Switzerland is famous for its craftsmanship in making high-quality products, such as watches and knives. It is also a land of innovation. The annual Global Innovation Index has ranked it as the world's most innovative economy for six straight years. That is why Beijing has chosen to join Bern in building such a partnership that underscores innovation. In his meeting with Swiss President Doris Leuthard on Monday, Xi said China wants to step up cooperation with the European nation in digitization and smart manufacturing. These are some of the key areas that will transform the face of manufacturing in the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. Last year, Beijing introduced the "Made in China 2025" initiative, a campaign to reshape China's manufacturing edges within 10 years via advanced technologies like robotics, sensors and artificial intelligence. As Bern is also advancing its own Industry 4.0 programs, the two countries have agreed to better align their efforts and unleash the potential of innovation.
A GREAT COMMUNICATOR Good communication inspires people and helps build consensus. The Switzerland trip has once again proved that the Chinese president is not just a visionary leader, but also a skillful communicator. Opening his Davos speech, he quoted English writer Charles Dickens -- "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" -- to draw a general picture of today's world, one of contradictions. In explaining why the world cannot and should not backslide on globalization, he compared the global economy to a big ocean no one can escape from. "Any attempt to cut off the flow of capital, technologies, products, industries and people between economies, and channel the waters in the ocean back into isolated lakes and creeks is simply not possible," he said. Making a vivid case against protectionism, the Chinese leader said resorting to such measures is like "locking oneself in a dark room." "While wind and rain may be kept outside, that dark room will also block light and air. No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war," he warned. In his UNOG speech, he said he is confident that with joint efforts, the international community can make a multi-functional "Swiss army knife" to solve the various problems troubling the current world. The rounds of applause Xi received proved that his remarks, studded with quotes, similes and metaphors, succeeded in striking a chord with his foreign audience.
A SPORTS FAN During his trip, the Chinese president also visited the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, where he held talks with IOC Chairman Thomas Bach and made a tour of the Olympic Museum. At the museum, Xi was invited by Bach to get onto the top of a podium, a spot only for Olympic champions. Smiling and waving to the crowd, Xi invited Bach to join him. "President Xi is a true champion and I want to give him a set of medals because he has a clear vision about the important role of sports in society," Bach said in a later interview with Xinhua. It is widely known that Xi is a soccer fan, but football is not his only favorite. He once told a foreign media organization that he loves soccer, swimming, mountain climbing, volleyball, tennis and basketball, and is also fond of watching many winter games, like speed skating. Meanwhile, the Chinese leader has been ardent in promoting a comprehensive development of sports in China. Xi believes that the dream of building a China that is strong in sports is closely related to realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. In 2022, Beijing will host the Winter Olympics for the first time. In his talks with Bach, Xi said China is ready to work with the IOC to ensure its success. "I was very impressed to see President Xi has a vision and strategy to make his vision a reality," Bach said. ^ top ^

China to boost global health cooperation and hold clean, green Winter Olympics (SCMP)
2017-01-19
China will boost cooperation with the World Health Organisation in global health issues, President Xi Jinping told WHO director-general Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun. Xi was speaking on his first visit to the WHO headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday, the fifth day of his visit in Switzerland. He and Chan, Hong Kong's former director of health, agreed to step up health cooperation under China's “One Belt, One Road” initiative. The belt and road initiative is aimed at linking economies into a China-centred trading network and involves more than 60 countries, including many WHO member states in which poor levels of public health have affected overall economic development. “China welcomes the WHO's active participation in the construction of the Belt and Road, and of a 'healthy' Silk Road,” Xi said, according to Xinhua news agency. During Xi and Chan's meeting, a memorandum of understanding was signed covering areas of collaboration including refugee health and humanitarian health response, as well as the Syrian crisis, according to WHO website. China has played an active role in addressing the global health crisis in recent years, including sending 1,200 medical workers to Ebola-stricken West Africa in 2014. Beijing also promised to train Syrian medical workers in the Chinese capital, the Chinese defence ministry said in August. It is also a major contributor to the WHO Emergency Medical Teams, a new system set up to ensure flexible, rapid response to national outbreaks and disasters. Under the system, a Chinese team was deployed to Nepal to support local earthquake response in 2015. In a special ceremony after Xi and Chan's meeting, WHO and UNAIDS jointly presented an award to China's first lady Peng Liyuan as goodwill ambassador for tuberculosis and HIV/Aids. Peng, who was appointed to the WHO role in 2011, has often spoken out against the stigma and discimination children affected by the diseases face. In Lausanne later on Wednesday, Xi met International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. China would hold a clean and green Winter Olympics when it hosts the games in Beijing in 2022, Xi told Bach. The games would be a “remarkable, extraordinary and excellent event”, Xinhua cited Xi as saying. “The preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics will be a major task for China in the years to come. China will prepare and host the 2022 Games in a green, sharing, open and clean-fingered manner,” the report paraphrased Xi as saying. “Hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics will also boost the economic growth of China and other countries along the Belt and Road routes, and enhance regional peace and stability,” Xi added. The report made no direct mention of a possible lack of snow or Beijing's terrible smog problem. Large parts of northern China have been swathed in noxious fumes this winter. There have also been concerns about Internet restrictions, though the IOC said in October it was confident China would guarantee uncensored Internet when it hosts the Games. Beijing and the nearby city of Zhangjiakou won the right to host the Games in 2015. The only other city bidding was Almaty in Kazakhstan, after other competitors dropped out, citing costs and other concerns. ^ top ^

China's Xi calls for a world without nuclear weapons (SCMP)
2017-01-19
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a world without nuclear weapons at the UN on Wednesday and urged a multilateral system based on equality among nations large and small. His speech at the United Nations in Geneva came at the end of a diplomatic tour that included a landmark address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, just days before Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Some experts have seen Xi's Swiss tour as a bid to capture the mantle of global leadership at a time when Washington is clouded by uncertainty with an unpredictable political novice about to take charge. “Nuclear weapons should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons,” Xi said, according to an official translation. China has been a nuclear power since 1964. In an address that stretched beyond 45 minutes, Xi also sought to make the case for a global governance system that strives for a level playing field among countries where interventionist tendencies are resisted. “We should reject dominance by just one or several countries”, Xi said, adding that “major powers should respect each other's core interests.” “Big countries should treat smaller countries as equals instead of acting as a hegemon, imposing their will on others,” he further said, speaking alongside the new UN secretary general Antonio Guterres. “Sovereign equality is the most important rule”, Xi continued. He also praised UN organisations governed by the principle of one nation, one vote. China has reacted harshly against attempts to influence what it considers its internal domestic affairs, from concerns over human rights issues in Tibet to a democracy push in Hong Kong. Beijing has also used its veto on the UN Security Council to block intervention in some global hotspots, including notably in Syria. In his disarmament call and plea for sovereign equality Xi offered China as a nation “committed to building a world of lasting peace.” In Davos, Xi backed unity in the face of mounting global challenges such as resistance to globalised trade. Some analysts saw that as a bid to contrast Trump, whose often bombastic rhetoric has at times defined international relationships in terms of winners and losers. While he made no mention of the incoming Republican administration, Xi's message on nuclear weapons stood apart from Trump's at times contradictory remarks on American nuclear power. In a tweet last month, Trump said “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes”. But this week, the real-estate mogul and former reality TV star Trump struck a different note, saying “nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially”. He also suggested he would be open to a disarmament deal with Russia in exchange for easing sanctions imposed by Washington against Moscow. ^ top ^

No chance of trade war between China and US, says Jack Ma in Davos (SCMP)
2017-01-19
China and the United States are not about to be drawn into a trade war, Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma said on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. “China and (the) US will never have a trade war. Give Trump some time. He's open minded,” Ma told a panel at the meeting of business and political leaders in the Swiss Alps. Ma's speech comes about a week after he met US president-elect Donald Trump in New York, offering the company's e-commerce platform to help US businesses sell products to Asia. Such businesses had the potential to create up to 1 million American jobs, he said. The consequences of a trade war between the world's largest and second-largest economies would be so grave that Ma said he'd even sacrifice his own company, Alibaba, if that would prevent such a conflict. Alibaba is the owner of the South China Morning Post. Trump has promised to impose stiff tariffs on nations like China and Mexico that he deems have an unfair advantage over the U.S. He has pressured U.S. companies to keep and create jobs in the country and has criticised American businesses that have operations abroad, threatening punitive import tariffs, which could lead other countries to retaliate with their own tariffs, sparking a global trade war. Alibaba has a large part of its business tied to the U.S., giving it a strong incentive to avoid a situation in which Trump puts his campaign rhetoric into practice. Ma said he and Trump didn't specifically discuss trade earlier this month when the two met in New York, or Trump's labelling of China as a currency manipulator, or the U.S. losing jobs to countries like China. “In America there is freedom of speech so he can say whatever he wants,” the Chinese billionaire said. “I respect and understand, but of course I have my views.” Ma also defended Alibaba's efforts to counter piracy on its sites after being recently put back on the list of “Notorious Markets” compiled by the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative. Alibaba argued at the time that it's doing all it can to combat fakes and suggested that the designation could have been influenced by politics. “Fighting against fake products is a war against human greediness,” Ma said at Davos. “It's not easy and you can't finish it,” he said. “Whether people criticise me, criticise us, the most important is that we are happy about the progress we've made.” President Xi Jinping addressed the Davos forum yesterday, using the platform to vigorously defend globalisation. He said no winner would emerge from a trade war. ^ top ^

China, WHO to build "healthy" Silk Road (Xinhua)
2017-01-19
China and the World Health Organization (WHO) pledged here Wednesday to step up health cooperation under the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. A memorandum of understanding in this regard was signed between the two sides at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, witnessed by visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. "China welcomes the WHO's active participation in the construction of the Belt and Road, and of a 'healthy' Silk Road," Xi said during a meeting with Chan. Chan echoed Xi's remarks, saying that the WHO is willing to enhance cooperation with China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, amid efforts to improve the public health in countries along the Belt and Road. The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, refers to the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes. During their meeting, President Xi briefed Chan on China's health policy and development, especially the Outline of the Healthy China 2030 Plan issued by the central government in 2016, saying that China hopes the WHO can continue to offer professional assistance. Xi lauded the cooperation between China and the WHO as "exemplary," noting that China stands ready to enhance cooperation with the WHO in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and assisting other developing countries. China appreciates the WHO's adherence to the one-China principle, and believes it will continue to uphold this important political principle, Xi said. Chan praised China's important contributions to global health and the WHO's work over the past years, as well as China's drive to improve its people's health. The WHO will continue to support China's efforts in deepening medical and health reform, and continue to firmly pursue the one-China principle, she said. On the same day, the Chinese government presented a bronze acupuncture statue to the WHO, which shows acupuncture points on the human body. Xi and Chan unveiled the statue. While addressing the presentation ceremony, Xi called for inheriting and making good use of traditional medicine, and promoting a better integration of traditional medicine and modern medicine. He said that China expects the WHO to play a bigger role in this respect. Also on Wednesday, the WHO renewed its appointment of Xi's wife, Peng Liyuan, as Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. At the invitation of Chan and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe, Peng attended a ceremony in Geneva hosted by the WHO to extend her service and present her awards for her outstanding work. Peng was first appointed this role in 2011. ^ top ^

Beijing gearing up for green, clean Winter Olympics in 2022, Xi says (China Daily)
2017-01-19
While meeting with Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, at the committee's headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Xi said Beijing will host a green, open-minded and corruption-free Olympic event in a shared manner. Gearing up for the 2022 Winter Games shows China's support and proactive participation in the sporting event, the president said. Preparatory work will be a major task for China in the next few years, he added. Beijing, the host city for the 2008 Olympics, and neighboring city Zhangjia-kou, Hebei province, won the right in 2015 to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Beijing will be the first city to hold Summer and Winter Games. The organizing committee for the 2022 Games, which was set up in December 2015, has assembled a team of more than 170 staff members across nine departments and two operational centers. According to its work plan, the preparation work will speed up this year. Venue construction will start and the organizing committee will kick off overseas recruitment for foreign experts. "The lack of talent in winter venue operation and technical support has been a challenge. We will work closely with international winter sports federations, equipment providers and foreign venue operators to train our own staff," said Tong Lixin, director of the sports department of the organizing committee. China will seize the opportunity of the Winter Olympics to promote sports and improve health among the general public, Xi said, adding that hosting such an event will also push forward the Belt and Road Initiative, which he proposed in 2013. As highlighted in Beijing's bidding plan, the country is rolling out a national campaign to encourage 300 million people to participate in winter sports by 2022. The call has inspired greater investment in the winter recreation sector, which has seen 108 ski resorts built since Beijing won the bidding to be host for the Winter Games. In winter 2015, the number of people who participated in winter sports increased by 30 percent year-on-year in Beijing and Zhangjiakou, reaching 6.8 million. The country aims to build 650 skating rinks and 800 ski resorts by 2022, laying the foundation for the winter sports industry to generate 1 trillion yuan ($146 billion) by 2025 in gross revenue, including spending at venues, equipment production and training fees. IOC President Bach welcomed Xi's visit, saying the committee will work together with Beijing to ensure an excellent Winter Olympics. Xi and first lady Peng Liyuan also visited the Olympic Museum after meeting with Bach. ^ top ^

Backgrounder: 10 key quotes from Xi's speech at UN Office at Geneva (Xinhua)
2017-01-19
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech here on Wednesday at the United Nations Office at Geneva. Here are 10 key quotes from the 50-minute address, which elaborates on China's solution to current global challenges: building a "community of shared future for mankind" that features all-win cooperation and sharing: 1. The essence of sovereign equality is that the sovereignty and dignity of all countries, whether big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, must be respected, their internal affairs allow no interference and they have the right to independently choose their social system and development path. 2. Nuclear weapons, the Sword of Damocles that hangs over mankind, should be completely prohibited and thoroughly destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons. 3. No country in the world can enjoy absolute security. A country cannot have security while others are in turmoil, as threats facing other countries may haunt itself also. When neighbors are in trouble, instead of tightening his own fences, one should extend a helping hand to them. 4. Fighting terrorism is the shared responsibility of all countries. In fighting terror, we should not just treat the symptoms, but remove its root causes. 5. China has decided to provide an additional 200 million yuan of humanitarian assistance for refugees and the displaced of Syria. 6. As terrorism and refugee crises are closely linked to geopolitical conflicts, resolving conflicts provides the fundamental solution to such problems. Parties directly involved should return to the negotiating table, and other parties should work to facilitate talks for peace, and we should all respect the role the U.N. plays as the main channel for mediation. 7. Trade protectionism and self-isolation will benefit no one. 8. The Paris Agreement is a milestone in the history of climate governance. We must ensure this endeavor is not derailed. 9. Swiss army knife embodies Swiss craftsmanship. When I first got one, I was amazed that it has so many functions. I cannot help thinking how wonderful it would be if an exquisite Swiss army knife could be made for our world. When there is a problem, we can use one of the tools on the knife to fix it. I believe that with unremitting efforts of the international community, such a knife can be made. 10. China's development has been possible because of the world, and China has contributed to the world's development. We will continue to pursue a win-win strategy of opening-up, share our development opportunities with other countries and welcome them aboard the fast train of China's development. ^ top ^

President Ts.Elbegdorj attends World Economic Forum (Montsame)
2017-01-18
The President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj is attending the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 is running on 17-20 January with theme “Responsive and Responsible Leadership”. Within the framework of the forum, President Ts.Elbegdorj is to participate in sessions, meetings and discussions regarding issues on priorities of next US administration, energy priorities of the region, silk road, responsible leadership in the multi-polar world and mining and nature protection policy, expressing position of Mongolia and sharing his views. Mongolian participation in the forum at high level is considered highly significant to promote the country, give its contribution to resolve global problems and challenges, introduce the current state of economic development of the country and attract foreign investment. The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters is considered a creative force for engaging the world's top leaders in collaborative activities to shape the global, regional and industry agendas at the beginning of each year. This year, the meeting will focus on four key leadership challenges for 2017: strengthening global collaboration, revitalizing economic growth, reforming capitalism and preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution – a huge leap powered by the digital age, which is transforming the way we live and work. It will do this through a programme where more than half of the 400 sessions focus on social inclusion and development. ^ top ^

China, Switzerland pledge to develop innovative strategic partnership, oppose protectionism (Global Times)
2017-01-17
China and Switzerland on Monday pledged to better develop their innovative strategic partnership and jointly oppose trade protectionism. Chinese President Xi Jinping kicked off his four-day visit to Switzerland on Sunday before he is due to attend events including the World Economic Forum in Davos. During talks between Xi and his Swiss counterpart Doris Leuthard, the two countries also agreed to align their respective development strategies and strengthen cooperation in promoting the One Belt and One Road initiative proposed by China. Xi said that China stands ready to discuss cooperation with Switzerland in infrastructure construction, insurance and other areas to jointly promote the initiative. The president proposed that the two countries enhance cooperation and exchanges in a wide range of areas, including politics, trade, finance, digitalization, intelligent manufacturing, industrial capacity, culture and education. The two leaders agreed to strengthen the alignment of "Made in China 2025" and Switzerland's Industry 4.0 strategies, and push for the upgrading of their bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). The two sides have also agreed to jointly launch a China-Switzerland Year of Tourism in 2017, and enhance cooperation in winter sports by using the opportunity of China hosting the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. China and Switzerland established an "innovative strategic partnership" during then-Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann's visit to China in 2016, the first such partnership China has had with a foreign country. "China and Switzerland are complementary in their economic structure. Switzerland excels in precision instrument manufacturing and other advanced manufacturing sectors, which is China's focus in economic growth in the future," said Zhuang Rui, deputy dean of the Institute of International Economics at Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics. Zhuang told the Global Times as China is seeking to transform its economic model, Swiss-made products can satisfy China's increasing demand for advanced manufacturing. China is expected to learn from Switzerland on how to improve domestic industries through shifting focus from mass production to quality, she said, and "improvement of technology is also much focused on Chinese enterprises." The two countries are beefing up efforts to advance economic and trade ties to a new stage through a combination of China's large market and increasing demands on industrial upgrading with the technological and innovative advantages of Switzerland, noted Liu Jianying, an associate research fellow with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a think tank under the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). Bilateral investment will expand to more sectors in the coming years including bio pharmaceutics, financial services, tourism, machinery, clocks and energy conservation, Liu said. Upgrade expected China and Switzerland have seen stable growth in trade and investment in recent years, and the Sino-Swiss FTA, which entered into force in July 2014, has provided firm support, Sun Jiwen, MOFCOM spokesperson, told a press conference on Thursday. By November 2016, accumulative investment from Swiss companies in China amounted to $6.4 billion, according to MOFCOM data. The Sino-Swiss FTA has created a positive and dynamic environment for business activities between the two countries which, in turn, has contributed to new cooperation, State Secretary Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs of Switzerland, told the Global Times. The successful establishment of a Renminbi hub in Zurich last year is just one example, she said. The FTA has improved bilateral economic and trade exchanges in general by expanding market access for goods and services for both countries, Zhuang said. But the agreement has some restricted impact because the opening-up level set in the Sino-Swiss FTA is relatively low compared to FTAs China signed with countries like Australia and South Korea, according to Zhuang. The Sino-Swiss FTA is expected to be upgraded during Xi's visit. Such measures as tariff reduction and further opening-up in the services sector are expected. Experts said that China's large consumption market has driven the sales of Swiss products and services in recent years. Products made of precious metal are the largest kind of goods Switzerland brings to the Chinese market, rising 26.3 percent year-on-year to $9.29 billion during the first nine months of last year, according to Liu. Food, beverages and tobacco from Switzerland are also exported to China in large quantities, while outbound visitors are increasingly favoring Switzerland. The number of overnight stays by Chinese tourists in Switzerland is estimated to reach 2 million by the end of 2022, according to data released by the Switzerland Tourism office on Monday. ^ top ^

Beijing, Bern to upgrade FTA (China Daily)
2017-01-17
After 'fruitful' talks, Xi says two sides will work together to maintain open and inclusive global trade China and Switzerland agreed on Monday to upgrade their free trade agreement, amid both countries' calls for opposition to protectionism, during President Xi Jinping's state visit. Witnessed by Xi and Swiss President Doris Leuthard, the two sides signed 10 documents to boost cooperation in areas including free trade, clean energy, sports, customs and intellectual property. Describing the talks with Leuthard as "fruitful", Xi told reporters after the signing ceremony that China and Switzerland will make joint efforts to maintain an open and inclusive global trade system. The China-Switzerland FTA, which waived most tariffs on goods, became effective in July 2014. Talks began in 2011, and the two sides sealed the deal in July 2013. Switzerland is the first continental European country to conclude and implement a free trade agreement with China. China and Switzerland hold similar views on opposition to trade protectionism, Xi said, adding that economic globalization is an inexorable trend. He also called on the two countries to provide more confidence and "positive energy" to the global economy. "The China-Switzerland relationship has become a model for the cooperation between two countries with different social systems, development stages and size of homelands," Xi said. Leuthard spoke highly of China's promotion of free trade, saying free trade is "of vital importance for an open economy like Switzerland". Bilateral trade has increased remarkably since implementation of the two countries' free trade agreement in 2014, she said, adding that there is still much potential for further trade growth. The two countries also agreed during the talks to lift technological barriers and streamline customs procedures, she said, adding that China has played a responsible role in facing global challenges. Xi will make a speech at the opening ceremony of the Davos World Economic Forum on Tuesday. Leuthard said she was glad to receive the invitation from Xi to attend an international summit on the Belt and Road Initiative in May in Beijing. Alain Gaschen, minister and deputy head of mission at the Swiss embassy in China, said that Chinese entrepreneurs are increasingly showing interest in developing their business in Switzerland. "We are among the top 20 economies to have a free trade agreement with China. We welcome Chinese investments," he said. He Maochun, director of the Research Center for Economic Diplomacy Studies at the Tsinghua University Institute of International Studies, said the China-Switzerland relationship, highlighted by the FTA and the two countries' innovative strategic partnership, is an example of China-Europe cooperation. "Switzerland has the craftsman spirit in precise instruments, advanced machine tools and clocks and watches, which is quite supplementary to China. China's huge market and Switzerland's techniques could lay a good foundation for a closer economic and diplomatic relationship between the two countries," he said. Huang Ping, director of the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China and Switzerland have potential for innovative cooperation in several areas, such as manufacturing, immigration management, anti-terrorism and healthcare. "China could seek solutions for the problems it faces now through cooperation with Switzerland," he said. Statistics from the Swiss government show that in 2015, the country saw a 33 percent increase in the number of hotel bookings by Chinese tourists. China has become the fourth-largest source of tourists for Switzerland, behind only Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom. The two countries established an innovative strategic partnership during then-Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann's state visit to China in April. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Just how far will reckless Trump push China? (SCMP)
2017-01-20
Sino-US relations in the age of Donald Trump is a hot topic, in part because nobody really knows what will happen. Uncertainty invites speculation. Many wonder what will happen next, given the new president's belligerent, bombastic behaviour during the election campaign. He was rude to almost every social group in America and to many others around the world. He regularly blasted China, as a currency manipulator, a job-stealer and fabricator of climate change to disadvantage gullible Americans. He also compared his proposal for a wall in Mexico with the Great Wall of China, and probably thought that was a compliment for China. But who really knows? What is one to make of his cosying up to Vladimir Putin and the Russians? Is there a sanjiao guanxi, or a ploy in triangular diplomacy, in the works? What is one to make of his thumb-in-the-eye phone call with Taiwan's president,Tsai Ing-wen, soon after his election? Does he want to use Taiwan as a “card” against Beijing? Trump then selected Iowa Governor Terry Branstad to be US ambassador to China. Branstad has had a long and friendly relationship with President Xi Jinping (習近平) and the choice is seen as positive for Sino-US relations. And then there was the public mutual admiration get-together with Jack Ma, after which Alibaba declared it could help create one million jobs in America under a Trump administration. Does any of this make logical sense? Watch: What cards can President Trump play against China? Trump himself probably doesn't think about all of this very seriously or coherently. That can be said about much of his public behaviour and his tweets, and not just about China. Trump exhibits all the traits of opportunism and hype befitting a self-promoting television personality. And that's the problem: who knows what he'll do next? The chances are that Sino-US relations will enter a tough, even dangerous, period. It is unlikely that anyone in his administration will say, as president Barack Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton did, that the US-China relationship was the most important bilateral relationship in the contemporary world, and that the two – one an established great power, the other a rising great power – had to find a way to get along without serious conflict. They may not have been consistent in their words and fell far short in deeds, but words count, and at least for a while, in the early Obama years, transpacific relations appeared to be promising (remember Sunnylands?) and serious minds devoted themselves to seeking ways forward. Even when the relationship worsened, the rhetoric never took on the tone it already has with Trump and his closest advisers. During his campaign, Trump declared he would “make America great again” and though it is unclear what that actually means, he has presented himself as an unabashed great-power nationalist, uninterested – even hostile – to the idea of a multipolar, globalised world. He expresses hostility towards the idea of trying to craft a cooperative international order, as all his predecessors had tried to do to varying degrees since the end of the cold war. George W. Bush appears to be a Wilsonian multilateralist in comparison to Trump. All indications point to domestic policy as Trump's focus of attention. He exhibited astonishing ignorance in foreign policy during the campaign. His appointments so far, however, suggest that military and conservative points of view will be strongly represented in his administration. In contrast, his pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has never had any experience in government policymaking; just like Trump himself. Trump is the first president in American history never to have been elected to any public office or to have served in the military high command. The Trump-Tillerson foreign affairs team is the least prepared in modern American history. Other presidents whose careers largely centred on domestic matters all had as their first secretary of state some of the most tested and respected figures in public life. Just think of Harry Truman and Dean Acheson; John F. Kennedy/Lyndon Johnson and Dean Rusk; Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger; Jimmy Carter and Cyrus Vance; Ronald Reagan and Alexander Haig/George Shultz; Bill Clinton and Warren Christopher; George W. Bush and Colin Powell; and Obama and Hillary Clinton. In economic policy, Trump's choices are a mix. Steven Mnuchin, his pick for Treasury secretary, is a former partner at Goldman Sachs. Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, for commerce secretary, had expressed admiration for China's economic development, but as he moved into Trump's inner circle of advisers during the presidential campaign, he sounded increasingly like Trump on China. Attorney Robert Lighthizer, chosen to head the US trade office that regularly interacts with Beijing, has been harshly critical of China's trade practices. Highly controversial is Trump's selection of Peter Navarro as director of the National Trade Council, a newly created unit of the White House. Navarro is a polemical economist mostly known for his series of sensationalist books predicting war with China and his advocacy of extremist measures against Chinese businesses. A week before his inauguration, Trump himself suggested that the “one China” policy is an open issue. Days earlier, Tillerson made headlines at his confirmation hearing with comments about the US possibly blocking China's access to South China Sea islands that Beijing has claimed. It is unclear whether those comments were the stuff of ignorance, efforts at bluffing and bullying, or real indications of possible major departures in US policy. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York who knows Trump well, declared in his speech at the Democratic Party convention that Trump was “risky, reckless, and radical”. He summed it up well. As for China's attitude towards Trump? As with the rest of us, Beijing is waiting to see how things will develop. But, an increasingly assertive China does not easily suffer threats or bluster. It quickly and sharply rebuked Trump and Tillerson, reiterating its longstanding positions. This early “Trumping China” does not bode well. ^ top ^

China woos foreign diplomats in hunt for corruption suspects overseas (SCMP)
2017-01-20
China urged foreign diplomats to help “weave a cooperative network against corruption”, state media said on Friday, as the country scrambles to build international support for President Xi Jinping's four-year war on graft. Xi has vowed to fight deep-rooted graft at all levels of the ruling Communist Party until officials “dare not, cannot and don't want to” be corrupt, warning that a failure to deal with the rot could threaten the party's future. China has taken the battle global, publishing a list of the 100 most-wanted corruption suspects who have fled overseas to countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia, often taking their wealth with them. Authorities have said they clawed back 2.3 billion yuan (HK$2.6 billion) in graft proceeds from more than 70 countries and regions in the first 11 months of 2016. But China has struggled to win full cooperation in tracking and repatriating such fugitives, with foreign countries blaming an under-developed legal system for their reluctance to sign extradition treaties. In an unusual step, Wu Yuliang, deputy head of the top graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), briefed representatives of 113 diplomatic missions and 13 international bodies on Thursday about China's efforts to fight graft, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It did not list the countries, but said the Greek ambassador to China, Leonidas Rokanas, was among those who attended. Efforts to strengthen supervision constitute a “major political reform”, Wu said, giving examples such as tougher laws against corruption and the establishment of a national supervisory body. The campaign to return corrupt officials and other overseas fugitives adhered to the law, not only that of China, but also other countries, Wu added. Looking to allay doubts about China's legal processes, Liu Jianchao, who leads the efforts to bring home corruption suspects, said details of 105 repatriation cases had been released, according to a transcript on the watchdog's website. He also offered to arrange for diplomats to visit corruption suspects in detention or under trial, saying he hoped to dispel concerns and spur more countries to sign extradition pacts. China's top legal body this month clarified the procedure to seize the ill-gotten gains of corruption suspects who are dead or have gone missing, in a step state media hailed as key to recovery of overseas assets. ^ top ^

Disruptive, intolerant and populist icon: why Trump is seen as an American Mao (SCMP)
2016-01-20
As a political leader who knows how to overturn tradition and established order through populism, US president-elect Donald Trump could be the true heir of Mao Zedong, according to several China experts in the US who see many identical traits ­between the two men. Orville Schell, an old China hand and former dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, said Trump bore many similarities to the late strongman. “Mao Zedong was a revolutionary, he was a populist. He could take aim at anyone and turn over order,” Schell said. Mao believed that you had to destroy the old before you could build the new, Schell told a workshop organised by the Asia Society in New York forecasting Trump's China policy during his first 100 days in office. Schell pointed to Mao's push to destroy China's ideological system by staging the Cultural Revolution, which saw elites replaced by peasants and workers in an “absolutely upside down situation” Kerry Brown, a China expert at King's College in London, also drew parallels between the two leaders. Writing in the online magazine The Diplomat, Brown said both Mao and Trump disliked scholars, and Mao brutally retaliated against anyone who even “slightly opposed him”. “Brutal attacks on the media, constant direct appeals to the public to support him in taking on the vested interests of the elite, and a policymaking ethos dominated by contradictions seems to be what America and the world can expect in the coming years,” Brown wrote, warning the United States could see its own version of the Cultural Revolution. However, Daniel Rosen, founding partner of research company Rhodium Group who also attended the Asia Society event, argued that Mao believed in revolutionary moves as a core “political tactic”, and it was too early to know if Trump was “a real revolutionary”, given the discordant message coming out of his transition team. But mainland-based Chinese experts said America's complex system of governance would prevent Trump from carrying out any “significant subversive reform”. Chen Daoying, an associate professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said both Mao and Trump were skilful in using populism to bypass bureaucratic systems dominated by elites, to directly engage with the people. Mao used the Cultural Revolution to canonise his image among the grass roots, while Trump solidified his popularity via Twitter. But Zhang Yuquan, a researcher of American studies at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said Mao and Trump were only similar in so far as both had subverted some traditions in their countries.“Trump's businessman nature makes him believe that everything can be negotiated, even including human rights and ideology. Mao's political sense is much more lofty than his.” ^ top ^

Admiral named to head PLA's new Southern Theatre Command (SCMP)
2017-01-19
High-ranking military officers confirm that two vice admirals have been formally made the naval chief and the head of the command overseeing the South China Sea respectively on Monday, while an ally of President Xi Jinping was named the next day political commissar of the People's Armed Police. Vice Admiral Shen Jinglong, former commander of the People's Liberation Army South Sea Fleet, was promoted to be the next navy commander, according to senior colonel Xie Zhanqiu. Xie, former head of the mobilisation department at the former Guangzhou Military Command, spoke to the South China Morning Post during the annual session of the Guangdong provincial political advisory body yesterday. Vice Admiral Yuan Yubai, the former commander of the North Sea Fleet, became the commanding officer of the Southern Theatre Command, which is responsible for the South China Sea. The appointments of Shen and Yuan took effect this week. Tension has simmered among various countries including China, the Philippines and Vietnam after Beijing build artificial islands in the South China Sea. As a senior Navy officer, Yuan's appointment to head the Southern Theatre Command is a break from the practice of sourcing commanders at this level from the land force. Shen succeeded Admiral Wu Shengli, 71, while Yuan took over from General Wang Jiaocheng, 64. Xie said: “As General Wang has not yet reached the retirement age of 65 for cadre in his ranking, he is assigned to lead the Strategic Planning Committee affiliated with the CMC.” Lieutenant General Zhu Shengling was named a political commissar of the People's Armed Police (PAP), according to Wu Tingfu, the former deputy commander of the Guangdong branch of that force. Zhu, 59, is regarded as a close ally of Xi – he spent a long time in Fujian province, where Xi worked for years, ahead of being named commissar of the National Defence Mobilisation Department at the CMC years afterwards. Wu added that Major General Yang Guangyue, the commanding officer of Yunnan province, had been named the deputy commander of the PAP force on the same day as Zhu's appointment. ^ top ^

First China-Britain freight train arrives in London as Beijing forges closer trade ties with Europe (SCMP)
2017-01-19
The first direct freight train service from China to Britain arrived in London on Wednesday, another leg in Beijing's plans for closer trade ties with Europe along a modern-day Silk Road. The 18-day trip saw dozens of containers packed mainly with clothes and household goods transported from the city of Yiwu in eastern China's Zhejiang province to a freight terminal in Barking in east London, via Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and western Europe. The train entered Britain from France through the Channel Tunnel, completing a journey of some 12,000km. The yellow and red locomotive bearing a Deutsche Bahn logo arrived at Barking in east London, slowing down as it made its final approach. It broke through a paper banner reading: “First Freight Train from China to UK – Yiwu to London – January 2017” and was showered with confetti. The train, which left the industrial city of Yiwu on January 1, is filled with clothes and other retail goods in 24 containers – far less than ships which can carry between 10,000 and 20,000 containers. The train that arrived was different from the one that left China since the locomotive and the carriages had to be changed because of the larger gauge on railways in the former Soviet Union. The new service offers businesses a new middle ground between shipping and air freight – it's quicker than sending goods by sea, and cheaper than transporting by air. China Railway already has more than 10 freight train services to several European destinations including Madrid and Hamburg. They are part of President Xi Jinping's “One Belt, One Road” policy to revive the fabled Silk Road trading routes to the West, and London is the 15th city to be linked to the network. Weekly trains will initially be run to assess demand. Analysts say the service is not yet economically significant, because the volume that can be transported is small compared with using container ships. There also isn't yet a return service to transport goods from Britain back to China, though this could be in the works. Other European countries have used the service to export items like wine and olive oil to China, said Ramon Pacheco Pardo, an international relations lecturer at King's College London. “Economically [its significance] is still quite small. But politically it's very significant because China wants to show it is connecting directly with Europe,” he said. The European Union is China's largest trading partner, with Germany and France being the biggest players. Carsten Pottharst, managing director of Switzerland-based InterRail Group, the train's operator, said he hoped there would be more such runs between China and Britain. “This moment was important to show that we can run the train in less than 18 days to the UK,” he said. “It depends also on how much cargo we can get from the UK to China – if we can manage to get more trains eastbound, then there could be more.” Oscar Lin, general manager at OTT Logistics, the local British booking office for the train, said there had been good interest in the service. “This is the first train for a test – we want to know what's the reaction of the UK market,” he said. “But we've already received a lot of enquiries... 50 or 60 in just two weeks, without any marketing.” Prime Minister Theresa May has said the relationship with China remains “golden” as she seeks to bring in billions of dollars in Chinese investment as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. ^ top ^

Will Donald Trump aggravate the China-US arms race? (SCMP)
2017-01-19
Already engaged in a regional arms race with Washington, Beijing is bracing for even more military pressure from the United States after Donald Trump's inauguration as US president on Friday. In remarks that would have triggered more fears in Beijing about a heightened US military presence and greater risk of confrontation, Trump's nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said China should be denied access to islands it has built in the South China Sea, and reaffirmed Washington's commitment to the defence of Japan if China attempted to seize the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, which are known as the Senkakus in Japan. “The arms race would only aggravate under the Trump administration,” Professor Shi Yinhong, director of the Centre for American Studies at Beijing's Renmin University, said. Tillerson's remarks, in a Senate confirmation hearing on January 11, came as both Beijing and Washington flexed their military muscles in the Western Pacific. The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its escorts entered the Taiwan Strait the same day, while the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group was en route to the Western Pacific, where the Liaoning had just finished high-profile exercises. Meanwhile, 10 F-35B fighters jets from a US Marine squadron landed in Iwakuni, Japan, on January 11 and 12, marking the first permanent international deployment of the advanced Joint Strike Fighter. On January 9, Chinese bombers had flown over the Korea Strait and Japan Sea, prompting South Korea and Japan, both US allies, to scramble fighter jets. China and the US have also exchanged accusations over cyberwarfare in recent years. Chinese spies were accused of hacking into US workstations and servers at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation last year and were also blamed for a massive data breach at the US Office of Personnel Management in 2015 which compromised the data of more than 21 million people. In 2014, members of the People's Liberation Army were indicted by the US for cyberespionage. Trump has called for an end to the sequester on America's defence budget – a US$500 billion cut over 10 years imposed in 2011 – and increasing military spending, while China's military budget has been rising rapidly for about 30 years. “There are structural contradictions of interest between the two countries in the region, and to develop or contain China's military power is one of them,” Li Jie, a Beijing-based military expert, said. In an article published after a meeting of the Central Military Commission, which oversees the People's Liberation Army, in December, Liu Yazhou, the political commissar of PLA's National Defence University, wrote that time was running out for the Chinese military to boost its capabilities. Liu highlighted three potential military challenges for China – a war in the Taiwan Strait, a war between China and Japan, and chaos along China's borders – and said US influence would be a factor in each of them. China could not bear the consequences of failure in any of the three events, Liu said, likening it to the humiliation China faced when it was defeated in the first Sino-Japanese war in 1895. Even though Trump focused his toughest campaign rhetoric on trade, he infuriated Beijing after the US presidential election by speaking directly with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and subsequently questioning America's one-China policy, the issue Beijing is most sensitive about. It has said it would use military force if necessary to prevent Taiwanese independence and is worried that a change in Washington's Taiwan policy might encourage the self-ruled island to move towards it. Shanghai-based military analyst Ni Lexiong said Beijing retaliated with military gestures designed to demonstrate its determination, including test firing of DF-21 anti-ship missiles, fighter jet patrols around the island, a live-fire drill by the aircraft carrier Liaoning combat group, and a flight over the Korea Strait by six nuclear-capable H-6 bombers. Professor Zhang Yuquan, an international relations specialist at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said: “As the situation surrounding the Taiwan issue gets worse, increasing military expenditure is an inevitable choice for China.” Rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait have increased the military friction between the US and China, which was already at a high level due to naval confrontations in the South China Sea, the deployment of Chinese surface-to-air missiles there, and the planned deployment of America's Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea. Trump is expected, at the very least, to continue the US Navy freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, one of world's busiest waterways, begun by the Obama administration. He has also backed the goal of expanding the US Navy fleet to 350 ships from the current 272, including up to three additional aircraft carriers, which means the US Navy will see its biggest build-up in decades. The People's Liberation Army Navy, meanwhile, has been on a massive ship-building spree since 2013, with about 20 vessels commissioned last year. China is expected to launch its second, and first home-made, aircraft carrier this year, in addition to new Type 055 guided-missile destroyers. The PLA Navy will have about 279 ships by 2020, according to a report by the Virginia-based Centre for Naval Analyses last year. As for the air force, the US signed an agreement with Australia in December to base its world-leading F-22 stealth fighters in the north of that country as a response to what the head of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, described as China's “aggressive” activity in the South China Sea. Trump also wants more military planes, but complained about Lockheed Martin's “overpriced” F-35, a “fifth-generation”, stealthy combat aircraft with sophisticated sensors and software, and asked Boeing to figure out the cost of a “comparable” version of the F/A-18, a plane that first saw combat three decades ago. China has two domestically-designed “fifth-generation” stealth fighters – one in service and the other under development. The Chengdu J-20 entered service with the PLA Air Force last year, and the Shenyang J/FC-31 made its first public appearance at an air show in 2014. In addition, the first four of 24 Russian-made Sukhoi-35 fighters were delivered to the PLA Air Force in December. “China could never catch up with the US, which has 11 aircraft carriers, and could never afford that,” Ni said. “But only by constantly developing new weapons, upgrading armaments and improving capability can China have a say on its own core interests. The US will not back off. Nor will China.” But Zhang said China would manage the arms race carefully and show restraint to ensure it did not step into the same pitfall of excessive military spending that badly hurt the economy of the Soviet Union and had contributed to its eventual collapse. Li said that with the Chinese economy still growing, and taking the advantages it enjoyed in terms of purchasing power parity into account, money was not yet a big problem. That might not be true for the US. Since 2008, annual US spending on military research and development and procurement has fallen by more than a third. From 2011 to 2015, the Obama administration cut the US defence budget for five years in a row, amid a rapidly increasing fiscal deficit and mounting federal debt. With Trump having promised big tax cuts, just how he would be able to fund his ambitious defence build-up remains in question. But Li said heightened tensions with China could pay off for US arms manufacturers. “Trump will certainly use the 'China threat' theory to push other countries in the region to buy large amounts of American weapons,” he said. Trump is familiar with at least one existing customer. In his first tweet after the phone call from Tsai, he said: “Interesting how the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.” The arms race between China and the US could also spill over into nuclear weapons. Trump tweeted last month that “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” The New York Times said there were three ways that could be interpreted: modernising existing nuclear forces; developing delivery systems like nuclear cruise missiles; or deploy nuclear weapons closer to potential adversaries. In a speech a few hours earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country should fortify its military nuclear potential and “develop missiles that can penetrate any missile-defence system”. In November, China successfully test-fired a hypersonic missile delivery vehicle capable of carrying nuclear warheads at speeds of more than 12,000km/h, becoming the second country after the US to do so. Zhao Tong, a fellow in the nuclear policy programme at the Beijing-based Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy said that had echoes with the nuclear arms race between the US and Russia over the past few years – from Nato's missile-defence system to Russia's development of a nuclear torpedo – which might ease a little if Trump was able to “get along” with Putin, The third nuclear power in the region, China has a much smaller nuclear arsenal than the US or Russia – about 260 warheads compared to the 7,000 or so they each have, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Beijing's deterrence strategy has long relied on keeping a small but viable nuclear force for self-defence. After its first atomic bomb test in 1964, the Chinese government pledged not to be the first to use nuclear weapons “at any time or under any circumstances”, and said it would only use them after being attacked by nuclear weapons. That commitment has been repeated in recent annual defence white papers. Zhao said the strategy was unlikely to change even if Trump embarked on nuclear expansion, although China would gradually improve the quantity and quality of its nuclear weapons anyway, following its pre-planned pace. “What really worries China more is the deployment of US missile-defence systems in the region, like the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system set to be installed in South Korea,” he said. Zhao said China would have to develop more sea-based missiles and multiple re-entry vehicles to be able to break through such defences. Ni said military competition and confrontation between the US and China was likely to be long-lasting following Trump's inauguration, and would only end when the Americans changed their “superiority” mindset and accepted the creation of a new strategic balance in the region. Few of America's Asian allies have cleared the defence spending bar that Trump has set for its allies in Europe. Trump has urged Nato countries to ease America's financial burden by raising their defence expenditure to 2 percent of their gross domestic product, and has threatened to withdraw the American defensive shield they rely on if they do not step up to the plate. Among America's Asian allies, Japan's defence spending has only rarely topped 1 per cent of GDP, according to World Bank data, the Philippines' has never been above 1.6 per cent in the 21st century and Australia's has been below 2 per cent since 1995. Only South Korea has cleared the threshold, never falling below 2.3 per cent of GDP. “Inevitably the countries in the Asia-Pacific region will keep investing in their military, largely on weapons,” Zhang said. “But until Chinese military power keeps growing and reaches a certain level, the neighbours' participation in the arms race would turn out to be unnecessary.” Li said bigger Chinese and American military presences in the region would inevitably increase the likelihood of military friction. “But no one wants war, and with proper communication the frictions would not escalate into big problems,” he said. ^ top ^

Duterte to attend Belt & Road summit as ties warm up (Global Times)
2017-01-19
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will visit China in May to attend a multilateral meeting, China's foreign ministry said on Thursday, marking his second visit to Beijing since taking office. While meeting with Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, Duterte spoke highly of the progress achieved in the rapprochement of China-Philippines relations since last year, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday at a regular press briefing. Duterte said he will travel to Beijing in May for a high-level forum on international cooperation of the Belt and Road initiative and looks forward to having another meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two sides had candid and in-depth exchanges and forged broad consensus on the South China Sea issue, said Hua. Both sides agreed that the South China Sea is only a tiny part compared to the overwhelmingly friendly relations between China and the Philippines that keep growing, and should be peacefully resolved through dialogue and consultation, Hua added. Diplomatic sources in Beijing say the government is expected to invite a large number of foreign leaders to attend the summit to be held in Beijing in May, Reuters reported. China has dubbed a series of infrastructure projects stretching across some 60 countries as the One Belt and One Road initiative, based upon resurrecting the old Silk Road that once connected China with Central Asia, Europe and beyond, the report added. Duterte reiterated last month that he wanted to avoid confrontation with China and saw no need to press Beijing to abide by a July ruling on China's claims in the disputed South China Sea that went in favor of the Philippines. During Duterte's four-day visit to China in October, 2016, the two countries signed 13 cooperation agreements in sectors including trade, investment, tourism and infrastructure construction, said a statement released on the website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 2016. China and the Philippines should steadily push forward their relations in the direction of neighborly friendship and cooperation, Xi said on the sidelines of the 2016 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, where Duterte also noted that the Philippines is willing to be friends with "brotherly" China forever. Xi spoke highly of Duterte's visit to China in October, 2016, saying it fully improved China-Philippines relations, the Xinhua News Agency reported. ^ top ^

Massacre museum slams Japanese official's statement (Global Times)
2017-01-19
China's Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall said on Thursday it strongly protests a response from Japan's chief cabinet secretary to books sold in a Japanese hotel chain which openly deny the massacre and forced prostitution in Korea and China during World War II. "We need to tackle shared global challenges with a forward-looking view, rather than paying excessive attention to our unfortunate history," The Guardian quoted Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga as saying on Wednesday. Though some Japanese right-wing forces have been denying the Nanjing Massacre for a long time, the statement of Japan's government spokesman has created a worse effect, Zhang Jianjun, head of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, said in a statement released on the hall's WeChat account on Thursday. The books, written by APA Group CEO Toshio Motoya under the pen name Seiji Fuji, could be found in every APA hotel room in Japan and are for sale. The company refused to withdraw the books despite mounting pressure, claiming that the articles or opinions of the books in question are from adequate academic materials. The book refers to the "300,000 people slaughtered in Nanking (now known as Nanjing)" as a "falsehood," and labels the Nanjing Massacre, "comfort women" and forced prostitution in China and South Korea as "untruths." "The books portray Japan as 'a war victim,' that Japan had to 'fight' China's continuous 'provocations.' This is an attempt to clean up Japan's 'identity as an invader,' which turns the facts upside down," Zhang wrote in a separate statement. "The truth of what happened will not change with the passing of time nor will the facts disappear because of deliberate ignorance," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press briefing on Wednesday. Motoya is also the deputy director of a support group of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the hotel's "right wing" background had been exposed on Japanese social media. Many Sina Weibo users are calling on travel agencies to boycott the hotel chain. Chinese travel giant Ctrip removed reservation services for the APA Hotel. Platforms such as qunar.com and tuniu.com also removed the hotel from their rosters. The organizing committee of the 2017 Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan has demanded that the APA Hotel, which will accommodate athletes, to remove the books, the Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday. ^ top ^

Australian business leaders back President Xi's calls to embrace globalization (Xinhua)
2017-01-19
Australian business leaders have backed calls from Chinese President Xi Jinping for world leaders to support and embrace free trade and globalization in the face of growing protectionism. Xi told the World Economic Conference in Davos, Switzerland, overnight that it was important that world economies do not get bogged down in a trade war, explaining that "no one will emerge a winner" if protectionism is embraced. On Thursday, a raft of Australian business leaders backed Xi's stance including Business Council Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott, who said, as a nation, Australia was "too small an economy to go down the protectionist path and attempt to insulate ourselves from global forces". "President Xi is right," Westacott told News Corp. "There's no viable alternative to open global markets if we're serious about sustainably raising living standards across the globe." The ANZ's Martin Whetton, an interest rate strategist, said it wasn't "in anyone's interest" to shun globalization in favor of protectionism, while former Australian ambassador to China Geoff Raby said protectionism, especially towards China, would only be bad news for the Australian economy. "Anything that harms China's growth is harmful for Australia as a major supplier of materials to China," Raby told News Corp on Thursday. CEO of the Australia China Business Council, Helen Sawczak also agreed with Xi, explaining that China's rise as a global power continues to be a brilliant advertisement for the benefits of globalization. "We welcome President Xi's championing of globalization," Sawczak said in comments published on Thursday. ^ top ^

Donald Trump's meeting with Jack Ma suggests new wave of 'business diplomacy' (SCMP)
2017-01-16
US president-elect's talks with Alibaba boss and other businessmen seen as sign that business contacts will add new dimension to foreign relations, say analysts. Donald Trump's surprising meeting with Jack Ma, chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has triggered concerns about a new “business-to-business” approach on the diplomatic front lines. As Trump would be the first US president with a career spent exclusively in business, it was likely that he would pay more attention to personal connections and contacts – on top of established diplomatic channels – to deal with international economic issues, including Sino-US ones, analysts said. Since Trump won the US election in November, he has been breaking protocol by throwing out his views on his Twitter account, and his base in New York City has been frequented by business executives. He had met Masayoshi Son, the Softbank chairman, before he met Ma, and Son said he intended to invest US$50 billion in the US and create 50,000 jobs. Trump had also invited executives from firms like Google, Apple and Facebook for a meeting to discuss jobs and the economy. Trump is also trying to fill key public offices with business executives, including proposing Rex Tillerson, the former chief executive of oil company Exxon Mobile, as secretary of state. Li Mingjiang, a professor from Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, said Trump's interactions with business figures had been “vigorous”. “[Mr Trump] is not a political figure, it's natural for him to meet political leaders as well as business leaders from other countries,” Li said. “Other national political leaders meet important foreign business leaders quite often as well. We can't judge whether he's a person who only likes to meet with businesspeople because of this meeting with Jack Ma.” Li said political leaders in western countries came from many different backgrounds, and to judge an elected president's political policies after the campaign based on his or her background was a stretch. “There might be some influence because he's been in business for decades,” Li said. “But once his position changes to the presidential level, the most influential factor will be politics, not business.” Philip Le Corre, a China analyst at the Brookings Institution, said the meeting between Ma, whose Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post, and Trump showed only that the new president would be of a different type than his predecessor, Barack Obama. Asked if the Trump-Ma meeting was authorised by the Chinese government, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said “the two governments are encouraging the cooperation of companies from the two countries, and creating better conditions”. In his first press conference after being elected, Trump said last Wednesday that he had been meeting people who would create jobs for the US, including Ma. “And I will say, if the election didn't turn out the way it did, they would not be here,” Trump said. Le Corre said “Alibaba is a smart company with lots of good lobbyists and advisers in Washington and New York”, but that there were doubts about how many jobs Alibaba could create in the US. Wang Yiwei, an international relations specialist from Renmin University, said the US president-elect was pragmatic and cared only about domestic economic development. “Russia can't help Trump rebuild the American economy,” Wang said. “We [in China] are very practical, too. We can give him what he wants. There are lots of infrastructure projects inside the US that need investment, and we can give them that.” ^ top ^

China to promote PPP model in Belt and Road Initiative (Xinhua)
2017-01-15
China will spread public-private partnerships (PPP) in countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, an infrastructure and trade network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes, a senior official has said. He Lifeng, deputy head of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), made the remarks Saturday at the 15th China Enterprise Development Forum. The NDRC, China's top economic planner, and several other departments, have come up with a working mechanism to boost the PPP model in countries along the routes, according to He, without providing further details. He said the PPP model would help facilitate the progress of projects as it broadens financing channels for companies. Innovative financing models are necessary since some projects under the Belt and Road Initiative require large investments with long payback periods, He said. PPPs have existed in China since the 1980s, but the adoption of the financing mode had been slow until China released two PPP guidelines in 2014. In China, PPP project operators are encouraged to directly solicit money from the capital market, and social security funds and insurance premiums are allowed to invest in these projects. The Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was put forward by China in 2013. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China to launch graft-busting super bureau next year (SCMP)
2017-01-20
China's national anti-graft super-body will be established next March, leaving the long-disputed anti-corruption campaign one year to fit into a legal framework. The country's law-making body is scheduled to pass legal bills then on the National Supervision Committee, which will kick off the operation of the super body, and nailing down how it works, as well as their members are, according to an annual report of the party's anti-corruption force. The new committee will integrate various government and prosecutorial anti-corruption departments with the Central Committee of Discipline Inspection (CCDI), which is a party organ. The passage is expected to take place during the National People's Congress meeting next March, said the report, which was delivered two weeks ago and made public on Thursday. The timeline will leave the party around a year to finally fit its anti-graft forces in a legal framework, making it accountable to the law. As the party's spearhead of anti-graft efforts, the CCDI has been as effective as it has been controversial. While it was credited by the party with netting down corrupt officials of unseen levels at paces unprecedented, it has what critics said unchecked authority in detaining and interrogating cadres. Critics said the anti-corruption campaign was a selective one that only targeted opponents of President Xi Jinping. While the new committee make legal accountability possible for the CCDI, its status as a national super body could also further weaken judiciary independence, according Tong Zhiwei, a law professor with East China Normal University. “Before the founding of the committee, the CCDI did not need to report to the National People's Congress. There was no law to regulate it, either,” said Tong. “However, the move also further empowers of the CCDI, as it merges it with other anti-corruption forces in the prosecutors' office. With its status further improved against the prosecutor's office and the court, the flaw in judiciary independence concerning corruption cases may remain still or become worse.” China's prosecutors' offices and courts are ranked humbly in the party, which critics argue to have caused the two offices only rubber stamping decisions of the party's cadres. The new committee, which will be given more independence and placed parallel with the government's executive branch, will share same offices and largely the same personnel with the CCDI, senior officials had said. The provincial supervision committee of Shanxi Province, one of the three places chosen for the new super body's pilot programs, saw its director and three deputies elected Wednesday. The four are exactly the four most senior cadres in the provincial party discipline force. “The three pilot programs will need to sort out how they could be supervised by provincial people's congress... and a year ahead seems to be short time,” said Tong. A senior anti-graft officials said last week that the new committee must be placed under the party's leadership, and independence from the Communist Party was out of the question. The comment was made despite the common belief among international scholars that independence is crucial to the success of anti-corruption agencies in any country. ^ top ^

Three reported injured after helicopter crashes in China (SCMP)
2017-01-20
Three people have been injured after a helicopter crashed in southeast China on Thursday evening, Chinese media reported. The crash happened in a village in Quanzhou in Fujian province on the west side of the Taiwan Strait, the Beijing Youth Daily reported. Few details have been released by the authorities, but a witness said he heard an explosion at about 7pm and saw thick choking smoke. The area around the crash was cordoned off by police officers shortly afterwards, he said. The small village near the town of Jieshan is sparsely populated, the report added. Three people were injured in the accident and taken to hospital, according to The Beijing News. Fire engines were dispatched and the blaze from the crash was soon put out, the report said. It added that power went out in the whole town for half an hour after the accident. A video clip shared online by internet users showed a large blaze and heavy smoke at the site of the crash. The propaganda department of Quanzhou's Quangang district told reporters asking for information about the aircraft to check with the military authorities. ^ top ^

China mulls force to check political loyalty of police, judiciary (SCMP)
2017-01-19
China's Communist Party is considering setting up a force of inspectors to check and ensure the political loyalty of the police, judges and prosecutors. The proposal comes months ahead of a major transition of power in the government at a party congress due to be held this autumn. All law enforcers must have “absolute political loyalty” and strictly abide by the political norms and disciplines of the party, a directive issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party said, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported late on Wednesday. The plan comes after an inspection report into the Ministry of Public Security last month called on the country's police to eradicate the bad influence of the disgraced former security tsar Zhou Yongkang. He was jailed for life two years ago for corruption and leaking state secrets. Zhou is the most senior party leader to be charged with corruption under a huge anti-graft campaign initiated by Xi. The party has said Zhou's case and other corruption investigations highlight the serious problem of political loyalty among what it describes as political conspirators. The directive from the Central Committee said it would study introducing a new political inspector force to ensure the “absolute leadership” of the party in all areas of law enforcement. The inspectors will routinely check whether law enforcement agencies properly uphold party discipline and conform with political standards, as well as implementing party leaders' major policies. At a top level meeting on the nation's legal apparatus that opened last week, President Xi Jinping said the security and stability of the government must be made the top priority ahead of the 19th party congress later this year. The meetings, expected to take place this autumn, will see more than 10 seats open in the 25-strong Politburo. Up to five of the seven members of the top leadership in the Politburo's Standing Committee will also step down and retire, if there is no change to its size and retirement age. ^ top ^

Tackling smog, poverty and home prices top Chinese provinces' agenda (SCMP)
2017-01-18
Cutting smog, reducing poverty and keeping home prices under control are the three top priorities for China's provincial governments as they kick off their local legislative and consultative meetings this week. More than half of the 31 provinces and big cities holding their local lianghui, or “two sessions”, have already started their meetings since January 7. They will address issues ranging from the economy to the environment ahead of China's annual National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference meetings in Beijing in March. Plans to counter the country's choking smog problem dominated the northern provinces' reports. Beijing government aims to keep PM2.5 levels below 60 micrograms per cubic metre this year. PM2.5 refers to fine particles in polluted air that are smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter and are considered the most harmful to human health. Beijing raised 2016's first red alert for air pollution during its worst period of smog in December last year. The red alert is the highest of China's four-tier alert system for air pollution For about a week, the city and its surrounding regions were blanketed in severe smog. PM2.5 levels of over 200 micrograms per cubic metre were recorded in various areas around the city by different air pollution monitors. The density of PM2.5 pollutants in the air on an average day last year was 80.6 micrograms per cubic metre, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau – far exceeding the World Health Organisation's recommended safe level of 25 per cubic metre. The Beijing government also vowed in its report to make obsolete 300,000 old motor vehicles and to bring more areas in the city under regulations to achieve its “zero coal emissions” target. In neighbouring Hebei, the provincial government vowed to take PM2.5 levels down by six per cent by the end of the year. Provincial governments across the country also laid out targets to bring people out of poverty and to bring property speculation under control. Yunnan and Henan provinces, among China's poorest and most populous regions respectively, each aimed to lift one million people above the poverty line this year. People in China who earn less than 2,300 yuan (HK$2,580) a year are deemed to be living beneath the poverty line. In Shanghai, Chongqing and Hubei and Shaanxi provinces, local governments included targets to curb property speculation. Their measures were in line with the central government's direction to cool the property market after home prices in major cities skyrocketed in the first nine months of last year. ^ top ^

China to keep proactive employment policy (Xinhua)
2017-01-18
China will keep a proactive policy on employment by providing diversified skills training, encouraging entrepreneurship and restructuring inefficient industries, aiming to boost both the number of jobs created and the overall quality of the workforce. The State Council's executive meeting on Wednesday presided over by Premier Li Keqiang approved a new five-year program on employment (2016-2020). "Employment is vital to people's livelihood and provides core support for developing our economy," Li said. "The importance of employment can not be over estimated." Priorities are to be placed on unleashing market potentials and enhancing policy implementation. China's economic transition carries huge job potentials, as new economic driving force is growing with strong momentum, calling for immense efforts to keep the skill and talent pool improving with economic upgrading. The new plan offers a set of measures that will help with such move. Emerging industries, not least services sectors that facilitate everyday life and productive activities will play a bigger role in creating jobs. Enhanced efforts will be made in boosting mass innovation and entrepreneurship for job creation. Start-ups will deal with lower institutional cost and a more enabling market environment. New jobs will be more flexible, but offers no less security. More diversified training will be provided to workers affected by curbing outdated capacity industries. The new plan also stresses more on building a long-term, systematic approach in job creation, and the government pledges to work more with market forces to guide job creation. While China successfully withstood challenges in curbing out excess capacity and industrial upgrading, employment across the country remained sound and steady in 2016. Latest figures from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security shows that the country managed to create jobs for more than 13 million urban population in 2016. The premier said that equal emphasis is required in developing new economic driving forces and upgrading traditional sectors, stressing that it is a whole-of-government effort. "With jobs, there is income, and hence a basis for innovation, stability and development. We want a sound momentum forward, and sound jobs are a start," Li said. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing to spend billions to tackle air pollution in 2017 (Global Times)
2017-01-15
Beijing will spend 18.2 billion yuan ($2.6 billion) to fight air pollution in 2017, officials said Saturday. This year, the city will strengthen air pollution treatment, replace coal with clean energy for 700 villages, phase out 300,000 high-polluting old vehicles, close or upgrade 2,570 polluting factories, said acting mayor Cai Qi while delivering the city government work report to the annual session of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress, which opened on Saturday. Cai said Beijing will take tougher measures to improve the city's air quality in 2017. The city will "strictly implement emission standards, enhance the environmental law enforcement and establish an environmental protection police force," he said in the work report. Acts of excessively or secretly discharging pollutants will be severely punished, Cai added. According to an official of the Beijing Public Security Bureau,the 150-strong environment,food,drug and tourism safety police force has been established and will be officially inaugurated soon. The environment police squad can detain suspects in serious environment-related cases, the official told municipal lawmakers. The environment police will work with the city's environmental protection authorities to crack down on violations in environmental protection, Fang Li, head of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, told reporters with qianlong.com, a major news portal of the capital. Beijing's environmental watchdog handled 13,127 environment-related cases in 2016, with fines totalling 150 million yuan (21.8 million US dollars), including 40 million yuan for nearly 1,400 air pollution cases. Last year, Beijing had 198 days with good air quality, an increase of 12 days from 2015. Its average density of PM2.5, airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, was 73 micrograms per cubic meter in 2016, down 9.9 percent from 2015. The city aims to control the annual average density of PM2.5 to around 60 micrograms per cubic meter this year, said Lu Yan, head of the Beijing Development and Reform Commission. ^ top ^

Relationship between smog and lung cancer being studied in Beijing (China Daily)
2017-01-16
The health authority in Beijing is studying the long-term impact of smog on people's health, including the widespread concern that smog could be a cause of lung cancer. Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning (BMCHFP) has begun to study the issue, reported the Beijing News on Sunday. The report said that current studies have confirmed that inhaling smog may lead to some acute diseases in people's respiratory systems. Long-term contact with pollutants in the air could cause chronic inflammation, hypo immunity and allergies. But the exact relationship of smog and lung cancer is not clear at the moment. "It will take a decade or longer to collect data before the researchers can make clear the relationship between smog and people having a certain kind of disease," said Fang Laiying, director of Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning. Based on previous studies on smog, the BMCHFP recently issued a common-sense list about protective measures against smog, together with the Beijing Center for Diseases Control and Prevention. On smoggy days, the BMCHFP, first of all, advises people to stay indoors. It added that people should use masks that are tight to the face. But it also said that the wearing of masks is not fit for pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic disease, as it will add to breathing resistance. Fang Laiying added that BMCHFP will make more efforts in studying effective measures that citizens can take to protect themselves from smog that has been a frequent issue in many Chinese cities in recent years. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Ying Yong elected Shanghai mayor (Xinhua)
2017-01-20
Ying Yong was elected mayor of east China's Shanghai Municipality Friday at the fifth session of the 14th Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, the city's legislature. Ying previously served as the executive vice mayor of Shanghai. Ying, born in 1957 and a native of Zhejiang Province, has been serving as vice secretary of the Shanghai municipal committee of the Communist Party of China since 2014. ^ top ^

Shanghai court sells seized foreign ship via Taobao for first time (Global Times)
2017-01-17
China's first online auction of a confiscated foreign-owned cargo ship was help by the Shanghai Maritime Court, with the seized boat going for 16.89 million yuan ($2.41 million), news portal xinmin.cn reported Monday. The Panamanian-flagged Mahoni was bought by the Hong Kong-based Zhongjiang Ocean Shipping Limited via an auction hosted by Taobao, China's biggest consumer-to-consumer online shopping platform, and was transferred to the firm by the court on Friday. Mahoni was seized in May 2016 by the local court in Shanghai Harbor after 31 Filipino crew members filed a lawsuit against the boat's owner - an Indonesian shipping company - as they claimed they had not been paid for 18 months. The auction attracted 12,112 viewers and went through 63 rounds of offers, before reaching the final price. This is not the first time that the Shanghai Maritime Court has auctioned seized vessels online. As the first Shanghai court to make use of Taobao's online auction platform, it sold a confiscated Chinese ship for 769.92 million yuan in January 2016, the Xinhua News Agency reported. "Online auctions can boost enthusiasm for this kind of activity since they require less time and expense, and the process of making bids is clearer compared to traditional auction modes," Ni Zhongyue, an official from the court, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Compared to live auctions who charge proportional commissions based on the final deal price, Taobao's online auction platform takes no commission. "Online auctions can avoid potential buyers communicating before making bids in order to keep prices low," added Ni. The Mahoni will be used by Zhongjiang to ship lumber, according to Ni. ^ top ^

Shanghai looks to Hong Kong for jaywalking solution (China Daily)
2017-01-17
A Shanghai legislator has proposed the city adopt a system of road markings similar to Hong Kong's in a bid to cut down on jaywalking. Yu Guoqiang, a deputy to the Shanghai People's Congress, made the suggestion to the legislative body's ongoing annual session on Tuesday. "When I was in Hong Kong, I learned from the residents there that since childhood they had a very clear concept of what red lines on the pavement meant," said Yu, who is also chairman of Shanghai Xiaolin Printing Co. "They said they would never cross the street wherever they saw red lines." Chen Danyan, another local legislator, said that when deputies carried out an inspection of some of the city's intersections last summer, they found pedestrians and nonmotorized vehicles committed far more traffic violations than motor vehicles did. She called jaywalkers to be more severely punished, as at present they are only fined 10 yuan ($1.45). ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Mastermind arrested after China's double bus bomb blasts (SCMP)
2017-01-19
The suspected mastermind behind two bus explosions in southern China on Wednesday has been apprehended, according to Chinese media reports. The man is believed to have installed bombs in the rubbish bins on two buses in Foshan, Guangdong province, the China News Service reported. The bombs went off on Wednesday afternoon, injuring six passengers on the buses. Five of them suffered minor injuries, according to the report. The first bomb went off at 3.30pm, blowing out the bus windows and hurting four people in Foshan's Nanhai district. The second blast happened around 45 minutes later in another bus in the same district. Two people were injured in that incident. The 22-year-old suspect, surnamed Liang, was apprehended by police at 11pm in a rented house in Foshan. He has confessed to his role in the crime, the report said. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet protesters detained in Swiss capital during Xi Jinping visit (SCMP)
2017-01-16
Swiss police detained 32 Tibetans and Swiss nationals protesting against a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, a spokesman said. Swiss authorities had limited the duration of the protest in the centre of Bern to two hours before noon to avoid the kind of confrontation that marked the last visit by a Chinese president 18 years ago. Several people near a security zone set up for the state visit failed to comply with police instructions, Bern cantonal police said in a statement. “Thirty-two people were detained to secure safety,” a spokesman said. At noon, police prevented a man from setting himself on fire, according to the statement. The man was taken care of by doctors. Fourteen activists were detained near the Swiss parliament building in the afternoon as they continued to protest past the time restriction, waving posters saying “Free Tibet” and “Don't Deal With Killers”, the association of Tibetan Youth in Europe said. “The situation inside Tibet is getting worse day by day. Our people are being oppressed, our people are being imprisoned,” association spokeswoman Migmar Dhakyel said. “We are really concerned [about] how our government, our own government treats us, doesn't permit us to demonstrate.” Between 700 and 800 Tibetans and Swiss had gathered in the city centre and protested peacefully against the Tibet policies of China, Tenzin Nyingbu, president of the Tibetan Community in Switzerland & Liechtenstein, said. Most of them left before noon as agreed with Bern municipal security, Nyingbu said. The Chinese leader arrived in the Swiss capital for a gala dinner on Sunday afternoon. After holding talks with Swiss officials on Monday, he will attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday, a first for a Chinese president. In 1999, demonstrators took to roofs overlooking the Swiss parliament with banners demanding “Free Tibet” during a visit by China's then-president Jiang Zemin. Police intervened when people tried to throw eggs at the Chinese delegation. Jiang questioned Swiss leaders' control over their country and remarked that they risked “losing a good friend”. China and Switzerland forged a free-trade agreement in 2014 and Swiss companies count China among their most important markets. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Chinese top political advisor makes inspection tour in Xinjiang (Xinhua)
2017-01-19
Yu Zhengsheng (2nd L), member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), speaks during a meeting at the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Jan. 18, 2017. Yu made an inspection tour in Xinjiang from Monday to Wednesday. ^ top ^

Xinjiang to invest huge amount for highway network (China Daily)
2017-01-18
The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region will inject record funding into building new roads this year so it can better serve as China's trade hub linking countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt. Xinjiang to invest huge amount for highway network New infrastructure projects are also expected to bring more job opportunities for locals, the region's top economic planning official said. This year, the northwestern region will invest 170 billion yuan ($24.8 billion) into new roads, up nearly six fold from 2016. The region has never seen such investment in road construction, Zhang Chunlin, director of the Xinjiang Development and Reform Commission, said in an exclusive interview in the regional capital of Urumqi. The region will also invest 8.1 billion yuan in constructing railways and 4.8 billion yuan in civil aviation projects, both up by 50 percent from last year. The investment in building roads, railways and airports this year will top the total funding for transportation infrastructure from 2011 to 2015. Building a highway network in a region that takes up one-sixth of China's territory is a priority, Zhang said. Currently, about 40 percent of the cities and counties in Xinjiang are not connected by highways. "Without the highways, oil, coal and agricultural products of Xinjiang cannot be shipped out of the region smoothly, and logistics costs will remain high," Zhang said. After the planned highway network is completed, logistics costs in the region can be reduced by 30 percent, he added. The region plans to start construction this year on 6,096 kilometers of highways. Although poor infrastructure has been holding back development of the region, Xinjiang now sees opportunity for economic growth, he said. Massive transportation projects can use significant amounts of steel and concrete, which can help to stimulate economic growth. What's more, locals can fill the jobs created by those projects, he added. Currently, there is one highway linking Xinjiang and other parts of China to the east. The roads now connecting the region and China's neighbors to the west cannot meet the demands of future trade. Zhang believes that without the support of transportation, becoming the trade hub on the Silk Road Economic Belt is not feasible, so Xinjiang must face the challenge head-on. The central government sees Xinjiang, which borders countries including Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Mongolia, as the key trade center on the economic belt. The economic belt, part of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to revive the ancient trade route. Xinjiang also plans to begin research on a high-speed railway connecting Urumqi and Horgos, a land port on the China-Kazakhstan border. Additionally, Urumqi International Airport will be expanded to cope with surging domestic and international traffic. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Beijing interpretation on electoral reform to guide Hong Kong, new top job candidate John Tsang says (SCMP)
2017-01-20
Beijing's earlier blueprint on Hong Kong's electoral method should be regarded as the basis for future political reform, John Tsang Chun-wah said on the day after he declared his candidacy to lead the city. The former financial secretary also stated it would be irresponsible for the administration to restart the process if the political climate did not change from 2014 when the 79-day pro-democracy Occupy movement emerged. Speaking on RTHK on Friday morning, Tsang said a new round of political reform “should be started from the 'August 31 decision' rolled out by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress” – a reference to Beijing's interpretation in 2014 of how Hong Kong elections should be conducted. The framework, which served as a rallying point for Occupy protesters, would effectively allow the proposed 1,200-member nominating committee to screen out chief executive candidates the central government deemed unacceptable. Tsang said it would be necessary to examine whether the city was more receptive to such legislation. “If it is just the same as 2014, it would not be responsible [for the administration] to launch the reform again. We should not hastily launch something highly controversial that will bear no fruit in the end.” A restarting of political reform should be based on trust, the veteran civil servant said, and he hoped different parties could consider making compromises based on the national legislature's blueprint. Responding to criticisms that he had not vigorously advocated constitutional reform, Tsang again said it would be unwise to revive a touchy subject without careful consideration. He added he would convey Hong Kong's political climate to Beijing with the goal of forging a new consensus. Tsang is expected to face a tight race with former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, regarded as the central government's favoured candidate. Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong had reportedly dissuaded Tsang from running and called on pro-establishment allies to back Lam instead. Later Friday, on Commercial Radio, the former finance minister reiterated it would be an uphill battle to secure the required 150 nominations from the election committee, revealing that a number of people over the past month had advised him not to run. Tsang said some had told him he had “no chance of winning” and that he should not “waste my time” with a chief executive bid. In the end, however, it was “my own decision to run”. Tsang refused to state whether anyone had offered him another job in place of running for chief executive, saying cryptically: “I could not say 'yes' or 'no'.” Later asked if he saw bagging nominations from pan-democrats as a “devil's kiss” that might upset Beijing, Tsang said he would seek support from across the political spectrum and strive to strike a suitable balance. Asked if he would consider working for Lam as a top aide should she win the race, Tsang said he had served as the city's finance chief for a decade and that it would be a “challenge” for him to continue. “Every chief executive would hope to find someone who could work closely with them as his or her chief secretary,” he said. “I guess Lam would have her own view on that.” To describe the campaign ahead, Tsang identified the Simon and Garfunkel song Sound of Silence – namely the lyrics, “the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls” – as emblematic. And asked by the Commercial Radio host to write a few Chinese words to reflect his feelings, Tsang wrote: “Stay true to the mission”, a phrase frequently cited by President Xi Jinping. It is also resembles a slogan used by Occupy protesters. As of Friday morning, Tsang's election page on Facebook, which launched Thursday, had drawn over 121,000 likes. Fellow candidates Woo Kwok-hing had tallied over 17,700 likes, while Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee had picked up over 78,300 likes. Lam has said she would not create a Facebook page. ^ top ^

CY Leung rules out 'Putin-style' bid for chief executive post after stepping down (SCMP)
2017-01-20
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who will step down later this year, has “no plan at all” for another run at the top post, ruling out even a “Vladimir Putin-style” U-turn. Asked on Wednesday whether he would run again in 2022 – at the end of his successor's five-year term – Leung dodged the question by saying he would continue contributing to Hong Kong and the country “if there was a use” for him. The coy answer sparked speculation that Leung was not ready to call it quits, and the issue was revisited during an RTHK radio phone-in programme on Friday morning. “You didn't rule it out on Wednesday – I'll give you another chance now. Are there any, are there no circumstances under which you would consider standing for chief executive again?” the host asked. “I haven't considered how I should spend my time after July 1 this year – I have no plan at all,” Leung responded. “No plan – you're not answering my question. Are there no circumstances at all, would you rule out under any circumstances standing for chief executive again?” the host repeated. “I have no plan at all... For 40 years now, I've been in public service, both on the Hong Kong level and also on the country's level. After July 1 this year, I'll probably be the same CY Leung, meaning helping in whatever way I can, serving Hong Kong, serving...” The host then interrupted and said: “You're not going to do a Vladimir Putin, are you – you step down and come back again?” The Russian leader left the president's office in 2008 but was re-elected in 2012. He also served two separate stints as prime minister. Leung quickly laughed off the idea. “I'm definitely not Mr Putin, but I just have no plan. “The one thing on the uppermost of my agenda for the next five-and-a-half months is to push as hard and as much as I can all the initiatives that I laid out in my policy address.” The hour-long show also touched on the coming chief executive race. Former finance chief John Tsang Chun-wah threw his hat into the ring on Thursday, following in the footsteps of ex-chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. “You've worked with Carrie Lam and John Tsang – who do you think would make a better chief executive?” Leung was asked. “I shouldn't say that. I shouldn't comment on it... They have not come out with the [election] manifesto – I'd like to see it,” he replied. Leung also dismissed suggestions by Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Elsie Leung Oi-sie that four candidates would be “too many” for the leadership race. Former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing have also voiced their intention to run. “We're now in a rather interesting situation. It's not just the number of candidates, it's the fact that all the candidates are from the so-called pro-establishment camp. “I do believe that we should have competition... We haven't seen any candidate from the other side. If there's to be another candidate from the other side, making it five or even six, I don't think it's a bad thing,” Leung said, adding that he did not think it was beneficial for the longer-term development of Hong Kong's election system if all the candidates were from the same camp, whether there were four of them or only two. Asked if there were things he regretted, such as being too confrontational, Leung said: “I have actually been quite, if I may say so, self-restrained in responding to some of the things that have been levelled at me.” ^ top ^

Hong Kong's Anson Chan gives talk on democracy as she visits US ahead of Trump's inauguration (SCMP)
2017-01-20
Hong Kong's former No 2 official turned democracy activist Anson Chan Fang On-sang has begun her visit to the United States ahead of US president-elect Donald Trump's inauguration ceremony on Friday. On Tuesday, Chan gave a talk titled “Developments on rule of law, civil liberties and democracy” at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C. Audience members asked questions about the city's coming chief executive election as well as Article 23 in the Basic Law, which requires Hong Kong to pass legislation prohibiting acts of “treason, secession, sedition, or subversion”. Chan, the convenor of think tank Hong Kong 2020, also met several members of the Republican Party, including former Massachusetts Republican Party chairman Robert Maginn, congressman Chris Smith as well as Ronna Romney McDaniel, who chairs the Republican National Committee. On January 9, Chan revealed that she had accepted an invitation to attend Trump's inauguration ceremony. This will be her first time attending the inauguration of a US president. The former chief secretary, an outspoken pro-democracy figure, said earlier that she was delighted to be invited and called on the new US administration to support the democracy movement in Hong Kong. Chan, who was invited by her Republican contacts, also said before the trip that she hoped to meet the president-elect in person. ^ top ^

Youngspiration and HKNP barred from operating stalls at Hong Kong's largest Lunar New Year fair (SCMP)
2017-01-19
Two pro-independence political parties have been barred by the government from operating stalls at the city's largest Lunar New Year fair due to public order and safety concerns, prompting at least one localist leader to blast the decision as violating free speech. Youngspiration and the Hong Kong National Party received a letter from the head of Food and Environmental Hygiene Department on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, saying that the department believed that the items the parties intended to sell and the activities they had planned for the event in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay from January 22 to 28 would be related to their pro-independence messages. It added that the fair would be packed with visitors, with some approving of and others disagreeing with the parties' political ideas, and that such a situation would probably endanger public order and public safety. The licence agreements signed by the parties and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department in November over the operation of the stalls had been terminated with immediate effect to safeguard public interest, the letter stated, noting that the agreement carried a clause empowering the LCSD to terminate it at any time. Hong Kong National Party convenor Andy Chan Ho-tin fumed at the move, saying it was unreasonable to ban his party just because the government believed its political ideas might attract dissenters. The party had secured a stall with HK$18,000 at a public auction last year. “This could mean that any anyone with political ideas that might draw opponents should not join the fair. Then the FEHD should also disqualify all political parties at the fair,” Chan said. “[The letter] said we would advocate certain political ideas, but they didn't have any evidence. This will affect Hong Kong's business environment. We did pay and sign an agreement,” he added. This would have been the first time the party, which was founded in March, took part in the fair, which has seen participation by political parties from different camps in the past. Baggio Leung Chung-hang, disqualified lawmaker from Youngspiration, told the media on Thursday that he demanded the FEHD to give a full explanation before the end of office hours on Friday. “We are furious with what the FEHD has done. I believe none of the Lunar New Year stalls have been terminated like this before,” said Leung. He would decide what to do next after hearing from the FEHD. But he ruled out the possibility of lodging an appeal, which required 10 days to complete. Youngspiration had earlier said that the government had acted groundlessly, as the party had not yet decided what to sell at the event. The party said it would continue to try to operate a stall at the fair. On Thursday, Chan said the ban violated freedom of speech as protected by the Basic Law. “It is definitely political suppression,” he said, adding it was a long-standing practice of local political parties to operate stalls at the Lunar New Year fair. Chan said their merchandise, comprising books and apparel, broke no local laws. “The terms of the contract didn't specify that we can't sell anything about Hong Kong independence,” the activist said, claiming they had fulfilled all the licence agreement conditions. “Since our Hong Kong National Party was established, I couldn't run in the Legislative Council elections, I couldn't register a company in my name, and now we can't even set up a stall in the market,” he added. Party member Jason Chow Ho-fai, who had previously bid and got permission for the stall, said they were considering writing an open letter to US president-elect Donald Trump to urge him to take note of Hong Kong's current political situation. The party said it was also considering filing a claim against the authority to seek compensation. ^ top ^

Legco meeting adjourned after Lau Siu-lai ordered to leave for playing video of CY Leung (SCMP)
2017-01-19
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's meeting at the Legislative Council was adjourned on Thursday after a localist lawmaker was ordered to leave the chamber for playing a video clip of Leung promising to improve retirement protection in Hong Kong. The incident took place a day after the city's top official delivered his final policy address, during what began as a relatively calm meeting involving proposals on issues ranging from economic development to sports. Leung declared on Wednesday that he had “basically” delivered on all his election promises, a claim instantly challenged by democratic lawmakers, who said he had stopped short of giving Hong Kong a “universal” retirement protection scheme. Leung insisted that his promise was only to improve retirement protection in the city. During the Legco question-and-answer session at 10.30am on Thursday, five pro-establishment legislators spent the first 45 minutes querying the chief executive on various policy proposals. When it was localist lawmaker Lau Siu-lai's turn to speak, she played a video of Leung promising that “a universal retirement protection scheme needed to be done in a serious manner”. But before the clip had finished playing, Legco president Andrew Leung ordered Lau to be expelled from the chamber. Shocked, many of the lawmaker's democratic allies tried to block the door or surround the security guards who were trying to drag her away. Andrew Leung called for a break and went back to his room, apparently to decide what to do next, leaving Lau, the security guards and many democrats standing near the exit. Returning after 20 minutes, the Legco president told the democrats to return to their seats. When they refused, he announced that the meeting was adjourned at 11.40am – 20 minutes before it was due to end. At the democratic camp's joint briefing after the episode, Lau said: “Andrew Leung allowed each pro-establishment colleague up to 15 minutes to ask a question [and for CY Leung to answer it]... but I could not join the discussion. Is fair discussion still allowed here?” Civic Party vice-chairwoman Tanya Chan said in support of Lau: “According to the rules of procedure, the president can only expel a member whose conduct is 'grossly disorderly'... I don't know how Lau's conduct could fit that criteria.” Later, 26 pan-democratic lawmakers issued a joint open letter, calling for the Legco president to step down over his repeated “unfair” treatment of pan-democrats since October. Leung subsequently said at separate briefing that Lau was expelled because she “disrupted the meeting's order”. He said that while a lawmaker could quote someone else, they could do so only verbally, and not by using a recording device. “If I allow this, can officials answer questions with recorders too?” he asked. Leung also dismissed the accusation that he had allowed pro-establishment lawmakers to dominate the meeting with long dialogues with the chief executive. This is the first time since May 2014 that the chief executive's Legco question-and-answer session has been adjourned prematurely. It is understood that the council will arrange another session with the chief executive before he steps down in June. The chief executive attended the Legco session after a morning joint phone-in programme on his policy address. During the programme, 17 callers expressed their concerns over various issues, including unaffordable housing, universal retirement protection and financial support for low-income families. On Wednesday, the University of Hong Kong asked 664 residents to rate Leung's policy address on a scale of 100. The average score was 52.3 points, making this the third most popular among his five addresses. Leung's most popular policy address was his first, with a score of 56.4 points. Last year's address was the most unpopular, with a score of 41.1 points. ^ top ^

Chief executive election: biographies of the four candidates bidding to lead Hong Kong (SCMP)
2017-01-19
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor Age: 59 Education: Obtained a sociology degree from the University of Hong Kong Number of years in civil service: 36 years Career highlights: 2000 to 2003: Director of social welfare 2004-2006: Director-general of economic and trade affairs office in London, United Kingdom 2006-2007: Permanent secretary for home affairs 2007-2012: Secretary for development 2012-2017: Chief secretary December 2016: Announced a deal with Beijing to build Hong Kong Palace Museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District. January 2017: Resigned as chief secretary and declared candidacy for chief executive election
Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee Age: 66 Education: Obtained a master's degree in English literature from the University of Glasgow Number of years in civil service: 28 years Career highlights: 1996-1998: Director of immigration 1998-2003: Secretary for security 2003: Resigned as security secretary after half a million people protested in streets against a government plan to implement a national security law 2006: Set up Savantas Policy Institute after returning to Hong Kong from studies at Stanford University 2008-present: Legislative Council member 2011: Launched pro-establishment New People's Party December 2016: Declared candidacy for chief executive election
John Tsang Chun-wah Age: 65 Education: Obtained a master's degree in bilingual education from Boston College and a master's in public administration from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government Number of years in civil service: 34 years Career highlights: 1987-1992: Administrative assistant to Financial Secretary Sir Piers Jacobs 1995-1997: Private secretary to Governor Chris Patten 1999: Commissioner of customs and excise 1999-2001: Commissioner of customs and excise 2001-2002: Secretary for planning and lands 2003-2006: Secretary for commerce, industry and technology; chair of World Trade Organisation ministerial conference in 2005 2007-2017: Financial secretary January 19, 2017: Declared his candidacy for chief executive election
Woo Kwok-hing Age: 71 Education: Obtained a master's of laws from University College London Number of years in judiciary: 24 years Career highlights: 1987: Queen's Counsel 1993-2006: chairman of Electoral Affairs Commission 2006-2012: commissioner on interception of communications and surveillance December 2016: declared candidacy for chief executive election ^ top ^

CY Leung opens with warning to localists before pledging HK$125m for teaching of national history (SCMP)
2017-01-18
After months of legal wrangling against pro-independence and localist lawmakers, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying yesterday spared the camp more vitriol even as he said there was “absolutely no room for independence”. He also announced a HK$125 million grant to support teaching efforts for Chinese history and traditional culture, a move quickly portrayed by critics as an attempt at “brainwashing”. Two years ago, Leung faced a barrage of criticism after he hit out at student leaders at the start of his policy address, attacking them over their “fallacies” about self-determination for Hong Kong. Last year, Leung steered clear of thorny political issues in his address and focused on economic development instead. But after the political storm last autumn that saw pro-independence lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching disqualified by the court over their anti-mainland antics in the Legislative Council, warnings against local independence were the introduction of Leung's speech. “Hong Kong is an inalienable part of our country. There is absolutely no room for independence or any form of separation,” it said. “Under 'one country, two systems', every one of us has the obligation to fully comply with the Basic Law and safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.” During his speech, Leung also announced that the government would provide a one-off grant of about HK$125 million to all local schools, to promote Chinese history and culture. According to the Education Bureau, the funding is to help teachers enhance the teaching of general studies in primary schools as well as the Chinese language, Chinese history and Chinese literature in primary and secondary schools. The bureau also said in a paper to the Legislative Council that schools may flexibly deploy the grant, such as in developing teaching resources, and organising joint school activities between schools in Hong Kong and the mainland. A government source said the use of the funding needs to be approved by authorities. Leung added that the Education Bureau would strengthen Basic Law education and further promote the Basic Law. The bureau had said it was developing a 15-hour learning module on “Constitution and the Basic Law” and updating relevant learning and teaching materials, which would be ready for school use by mid-2017. In recent months, Chinese history became a hotly debated political issue after a growing independence movement in Hong Kong led to the call for more focus on the teaching of subject, such as making it compulsory at senior secondary levels. But many pan-democrats have spoken out against such a curriculum change, claiming it is an attempt at “brainwashing” and tantamount to a “new national education”. The Education Bureau is also in the process of revising the junior secondary Chinese history curriculum. Dr Leung Yan-wing from the Education University, who specialises in civic education, said that while not much is known on how exactly the money could be used to enhance teaching, there could be a political agenda behind the move and the government's previous push for the addition of national education courses made him worried that the provision of the funding was an act of brainwashing. In 2012, a government plan to add national education courses, aimed at nurturing patriotism for China, to the school curriculum was scrapped after protests lasting 10 days were held that year. Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies vice-chairman Lau Siu-kai, who used to head the Hong Kong government's think tank, believes that “the government is adopting a multi-pronged approach to help young people to understand Chinese history”. He also said it was “politically correct” for Leung to mention Hong Kong independence in his farewell address, given Beijing's warnings against any act of independence in recent months. ^ top ^

Hong Kong democracy activists Joshua Wong and Oscar Lai 'had right to freedom of expression breached' at National Day protest (SCMP)
2017-01-18
Student activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Oscar Lai Man-lok had their right to freedom of expression breached when security guards dragged them from a special area at the 2013 National Day ceremony, a court heard on Wednesday. But lawyers for the director of home affairs said the pair's rights under Hong Kong's Basic Law were never breached during the October 1 event, pointing out the activists were still able to carry out their silent demonstration during the national anthem, as they had planned. Lai, 22, was a spokesperson for disbanded campaign group Scholarism. He is judicially reviewing the director of home affairs' decision to remove him and Scholarism colleague Wong from the invite-only “community viewing area” at the event. At a High Court hearing on Wednesday morning, Lai's lawyer Jeffrey Tam Chun-kit said the pair's right to freedom of expression and right to freedom of the person – under Articles 27 and 28 of Chapter 3 of the Basic Law – had been breached. Lai – who was 18 at the time of the incident – and Wong had entered the special area, and were calmly talking to reporters when security guards approached them and asked them to leave, Tam said. Ho Fook-wah, then chief executive for administration at the Home Affairs Department, said in a statement read by Tam that the pair were asked to leave once again after that, and he then asked security guards to remove them after hearing “hushed comments” that the pair were “troublemakers and rubbish”. Tam said the pair were “very peaceful” before they were removed. “They did not act in a disruptive manner,” he said. “They were removed only because they entered into the wrong area.” Security guards hauled the pair to the edge of the invite-only area. Tam said the level of force was unreasonable and the decision to remove them was a disproportionate restriction on the pair's freedom of expression. Although the pair had entered a restricted area that was under the exclusive use of the government that day, the area had a “significant degree of public character” as it was usually a public space, he said. But Victor Dawes SC, representing the director of home affairs, said the pair's freedoms under the Basic Law hadn't been breached at all, as the pair had carried out the silent protest as they had planned. “The whole incident is really a storm in a teacup,” Dawes said, noting it arose from a “spur of the moment” decision to go into another area. “We are really looking at a minor incident,” he said. Dawes said there had been no need for Lai and Wong to enter the restricted community groups area, as the protest they hoped to carry out could have been done in the public area. He said the security guards had a right to forcibly remove the pair as they were trespassing by not responding to requests to leave. And he said there would be no point in dividing the venue into four areas if the separation of sections wasn't enforced. “There is no suggestion that they were injured, or that they made a report to the police,” he said. Mr Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming, who reserved his judgment, noted Wong had complained to the police about an injury after the incident. ^ top ^

Ex-leader Tung Chee-hwa to keep things at arm's length after causing stir by hugging favourite for top Hong Kong job (SCMP)
2017-01-18
Chief executive contender Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor says former leader Tung Chee-hwa has stopped his usual practice of hugging her to avoid speculation she has been favoured for the job. Lam, who quit as chief secretary last week, revealed his new hands-off approach on Wednesday. Her rival Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee also said Tung had embraced her in the past. Elder statesman Tung set tongues wagging last month when he hugged Lam in front of other officials and the press during a ceremony to commemorate the Nanjing massacre. Pundits speculated whether the hug from Tung, a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, was Beijing's blessing for Lam to be the next chief executive. But Lam dismissed such talk and said it was merely the “usual practice” between her and Tung. “He would hug me every time we meet. But now he told me 'I'm not hugging you as it has raised so much speculation',” Lam said. She said she had been in regular contact with Tung for some time. “We would meet up for tea and chats occasionally and talk about state affairs or Sino-American relations,” she said. But she admitted that Tung did contact her after she announced last month that she would reconsider whether to run for election. “He asked me to think about it seriously as it was for the sake of Hong Kong,” she said. Executive councillor Bernard Chan, now Lam's campaign office chief, was among others who had contacted Lam directly and encouraged her to run. Lam also said she understood the stress facing Ip, who welled up with tears on Tuesday after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying singled out Lam, praising her as an accountable and competent official. “Ip might have faced pressure or felt wronged at some point and simply expressed her emotions. I think this is natural,” Lam said, adding that Ip was also an accountable person and had done much for the public. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen aspires to create 'new era' of peace with Beijing (SCMP)
2017-01-20
Taiwan aspires to create a “new era” of peace with mainland China, which should set aside the baggage of history and have positive dialogue, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said in a letter to Pope Francis, adding military action could not resolve problems. The issue of self-ruled and proudly democratic Taiwan has shot to the top of the international agenda since US President-elect Donald Trump broke with decades of precedent in December by taking a congratulatory telephone call from Tsai. That, along with subsequent comments by Trump that the one-China policy was up for negotiation, has infuriated Beijing, which views Taiwan as a wayward province, to be bought under its control by force if necessary. Mainland China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, whose ruling Democratic Progressive Party espouses the island's formal independence, a red line for Beijing, and has cut off a formal dialogue mechanism with Taiwan. In her January 5 letter to the Pope, released by her office on Friday, Tsai said upholding peace across the Taiwan Strait called for goodwill and communication. “Based on many years of experience in cross-Strait negotiations during my political career, I am convinced that military action cannot resolve problems,” Tsai said. “Taiwan and mainland China were once embroiled in a zero-sum conflict that caused tension in the region and anxiety among our peoples. In contrast, today people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait enjoy stable lives and normal exchanges under peaceful separate governance.” Taiwan was committed to maintaining its democracy and the status quo of peace, but would not bow to pressure, she added. “I urge the governing party across the Strait, together with the governing party in Taiwan, to set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue,” Tsai said. The Vatican is one of only a handful of countries which still maintains formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, although the Pope is trying to heal a decades-old rift with mainland China where Catholics are divided between those loyal to him and those who are members of a government-controlled official church. Tsai said she sought to live up to the Pope's words on nonviolent action. “As the first female president in the ethnic Chinese world, I aspire to live up to your words as I devote myself to enhancing the well-being of the Taiwanese people and creating a new era for cross-Strait peace.” ^ top ^

Tsai's trip south a success, but woes await back home (SCMP)
2017-01-15
Taiwanese president returning from Central America to thorny problem of relations with Beijing and Washington. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has wrapped up a widely watched visit to four Central American allies seen by analysts as relatively successful. But awaiting her back home were a host of thorny issues, with the delicate problem of relations with Washington and Beijing seen as the trickiest one, they said. Tsai, who had completed a week-long state trip to Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador – four of Taiwan's just 21 allies – stopped in San Francisco on Friday on her way back to Taiwan. No diplomatic snub had been reported during her Central American visit and she got good news during her Nicaraguan stay, as Managua – originally seen as one of the allies that might switch formal recognition to Beijing – ended up in assuring her of no change in its relations. Upon her arrival in San Francisco on Friday night, Tsai was given a high-level reception by the city government, which dispatched an honour guard of 60 motorcycles to take her to her hotel, Taiwanese media reported. Tsai, who likes using Facebook, reactivated a Twitter account she had not used for a few years during her visit to Twitter headquarters in San Francisco the next morning. Her spokesman Alex Huang said Tsai made several phone calls to “her American friends, including US Republican Senator Cory Gardner” who reiterated US commitments to Taiwan. All of Tsai's movements during her transit stops in the US, including her previous one in Houston on January 7, were under the watchful eye of Beijing, which was angered by a congratulatory talk between her and US president-elect Donald Trump shortly after his election victory. Analysts said as successful as Tsai's Central American visit might have been, she would return to a host of thorny issues, including Trump and Washington's support for the one-China policy, which Beijing has stressed is “non-negotiable”. “The one-China policy issue is the trickiest one as it involves the power wrestling of Washington and Beijing,” said Sun Yang-ming, vice-president of the National Policy Foundation in Taipei. As Tsai arrived in San Francisco, Trump told The Wall Street Journal “everything is under negotiation, including the one-China policy” when asked whether he supported the policy. “The Tsai government must tackle the issue with great care to avoid becoming a pawn of Trump,” Sun said, adding that it was highly unlikely Beijing would tolerate any attempt to use Taiwan as a bargaining chip. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's economic powerhouse cuts growth target to 7pc but bids to boost high-tech manufacturing (SCMP)
2017-01-19
Guangdong will boost spending on research and development and cultivate the robotics industry as it tries to transform away from its role as the world's factory, the provincial chief told lawmakers and political advisors. The pledges were contained in a work report that Acting Governor Ma Xingrui delivered at the opening of the annual meeting of the Guangdong People's Congress in Guangzhou on Thursday. Ma said the government had set a flexible target for economic growth at “7 per cent or above”. That compares with the province's 7.4 per cent growth last year. Guangdong struggles to keep top spot as China's economic powerhouse while Jiangsu closes in( “Given the persistently depressed global environment, and a challenging domestic economic situation at home, it was really not easy for Guangdong to achieve the current result,” Ma said. Guangdong would seek to take investment in R&D to 2.65 per cent of gross domestic product, up slightly from 2.58 per cent last year. The province also aimed to increase the number of corporations involved in high-tech innovation by 8,000, taking the total to 23,000 by year-end, Ma said. As part of its drive to overhaul its economic foundation, Guangdong would focus on nurturing 20 large robotics manufacturing companies. The province will also launch pilot schemes to test robotics and digital based production plants. Guangdong is set to spend 540 billion yuan (HK$608 billion) on infrastructure this year, a rise of more than 10 per cent, strengthening the transportation network and developing waterworks. Commenting on the provincial work report, Professor Lin Jiang, a finance expert at Sun Yat-sen University, said setting a flexible target for growth gave Guangdong more room to focus on economic restructuring. By setting higher spending goals for R&D, Guangdong was setting an example for other areas to take the sector as a serious source of growth. “Three years ago, Dongguan's R&D only took up 1.5 per cent of its GDP... [Guangdong] cities have a lot of catching up to do,” he said. But cross-border cooperation between the province and Hong Kong received scant attention in the report, apart from the listing of a few existing construction projects. Lin said Hong Kong's turbulent political environment could be the reason collaboration was played down. “There have not been any eye-catching highlights in cross-border collaboration in recent years. A direction seems to have been lost,” Lin said. “Nothing ever gets realised effectively,” said Lin, referring to regional infrastructure projects such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the cross-border high-speed railway project. ^ top ^

US commerce pick Wilbur Ross warns world trading nations to play fair (SCMP)
2017-01-19
Billionaire Wilbur Ross, nominated by US president-elect Donald Trump to serve as commerce secretary, is warning America's trading partners to practice “fair trade” and cut state control over business if they want access to the world's biggest economy. “The United States should provide that access to nations who agree to play by our standards of fair trade,” Ross said in testimony on Wednesday in Washington before the Senate Commerce Committee, which will vote on his nomination. “We should not put up with malicious trading activities, state-owned enterprises or subsidised production.” While Ross didn't mention any country by name in his remarks, the reference to state-led business and subsidized production could be seen as an indirect jab at China. The US recently launched a complaint to the World Trade Organisation alleging that China has been suppressing aluminum prices by subsidizing domestic producers. President-elect Trump, who will be inaugurated Friday, has promised to take a tougher approach toward China and to renegotiate the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, which he has called a “disaster.” Ross, 79, would be one of the most seasoned business leaders on Trump's economic team. As a private-equity investor, he restructured companies across a range of industries including steel, banking and textiles. Bloomberg values his fortune at $2.9 billion, and in financial disclosures released Tuesday, he revealed assets topping $336 million, including at least $150 million held in bank accounts and an art collection worth more than $50 million. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who introduced Ross at the hearing, said Ross has valuable business experience and created jobs in many sectors of the economy. As a cabinet member, he'll be able to connect policy debates to what's happening in the real world, Rubio said. In Wednesday's prepared statement, Ross said the companies he's invested in operated in 23 countries, and he's been in complicated situations involving the U.S. manufacturing sector. He said he's probably had more direct experience than any cabinet nominee with unfair trade practices such as non-tariff barriers and state subsidies of foreign exports. “I am not anti-trade,” he said. “I am pro-trade. But I am pro-sensible trade, not trade that is detrimental to the American worker and to the domestic manufacturing base.” Ross's vast business holdings may open him to the same line of attack Mitt Romney faced when he ran for president in 2012 -- that he was a corporate raider who flipped companies for profit while laying off American workers. The Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, says Ross's corporate holdings represent a conflict of interest. In an ethics agreement released Tuesday, Ross said he'll resign his positions with 38 entities. Those include Invesco Ltd., which bought Ross's private-equity firm in 2006, as well as seven named subsidiaries. He will also divest his stakes in publicly traded companies and some bond positions within 90 days of confirmation and his interests in WL Ross private equity funds, which are less liquid, within 180 days of his being confirmed. Ross has set an example in avoiding business conflicts that Trump should imitate, Bill Nelson, ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, said at the opening of Ross's hearing. He is positioned to elevate the status of the Commerce Department and help lead Trump's trade agenda, he said. “In recent years the Commerce secretary post has not been one of the most sought after or appreciated positions in Washington. But I have a feeling that's about to change in a big way,“ Nelson said. ^ top ^

China preparing to hit back if Donald Trump starts trade war, says US business group (SCMP)
2017-01-18
China is preparing to retaliate if US president-elect Donald Trump launches a trade war, a key US business lobby group warned on Wednesday. “To our knowledge, China is already preparing measures in the event of actions by the new ­administration... should [they] impose restrictions on trade and investment with respect to China,” Lester Ross, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in China's policy committee, said. Ross also said new anti-dumping investigations by China were in the pipeline. “China has indeed threatened to and is preparing to take steps in retaliation if such actions take place,” he said. Ross made the comments as the chamber unveiled the results of a business survey, which ­reflected concerns about rising protectionism, limited market assess and unclear regulation in China. Chamber chairman William Zarit said foreign business had not observed any substantial moves by Beijing towards reforms pledged in 2012. Instead of liberalising or privatising the economy, the reforms seemed to only make state firms more competitive, he said. The Ministry of Commerce did not reply to the Post's request for comment. On the campaign trail, Trump threatened punitive tariffs of up to 45 per cent on China's exports to the US and nominated hardline China critics to take up positions in his administration. Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, President Xi Jinping said there would be no winner in a trade war. Vice-Premier Wang Yang also discussed economic issues in a phone call to US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew yesterday, Xinhua reported. Zarit said the business group would send seven or eight members to Washington next month to “share ideas on a win-win path forward” and to “speak to whoever we can” to convey “realistic” messages about China. “We would recommend the US... be more aggressive in talks [with China] … we want to make sure that we don't do things that are counterproductive to both countries,” he said. The chamber said dimmer prospects for bilateral ties and the lack of progress on easing market access by China had dashed hopes on sealing an investment treaty. The chamber previously expected the deal could be reached by 2018. The negative list submitted by China for the treaty was “far from acceptable”, Ross said. Shen Jianguang, a Hong Kong-based economist with Mizuho Securities, said China could choose to cut imports from US aviation, car, mechanical equipment and hi-tech suppliers and turn to business rivals such as ­Airbus. China could also reduce the imports of US agricultural products, Shen said. Other options for Beijing were to carry out strict and frequent anti-dumping or anti-subsidy ­investigations on US products, to dump its holdings of US treasuries or launch investigations into US businesses operating in China, he said. “But all these countermeasures have side effects for China,” Shen said. “China is the largest overseas market for many US companies, and China still has room for negotiation.” ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Defense Minister meets Japanese Ambassador (Montsame)
2017-01-20
On January 19, B.Bat-Erdene, Defense Minister received Masato Takaoka, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia. At the meeting, Minister B.Bat-Erdene said “As Japan is Mongolia's main partner in Asia, Mongolia attaches great importance to the bilateral relations of Mongolia and Japan that have a long history. The two countries' defense collaboration is intensifying and reaching for a new level after a memorandum of understanding between the Ministries of Defense was signed in 2012". "The sides are developing bilateral cooperation by organizing reciprocal visits at all levels, holding consultative meetings, exchanging views on regional security issues and training army specialists. The Defense Minister believes that the Japanese Ambassador will contribute to strengthening the relations with new content and maintaining the traditional figures of bilateral cooperation in the future. In response, Masato Takaoka said “This year marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations established between Mongolia and Japan. During the past years, the two countries have been cooperating in the fields of politics, society, economy, culture and so on. Especially, defense sector plays main role in bilateral ties. A new Japanese military attaché will be appointed next March. I hope the Mongolia's Ministry of Defense will support the activities of the Embassy of Japan”. In conclusion, the Japanese Ambassador underlined the necessity to develop cooperation in all possible spheres in the future. ^ top ^

Soums provided with new vehicles to overcome difficult winter (Montsame)
2017-01-20
Fifteen vehicles were granted to the emergency departments of 15 soums of 11 provinces today in order to improve the public and health services to herders and citizens living in remote areas with much wintering difficulties. About 70 percent of the territory is covered with snow as of today. Wintering conditions are reported to be critical in 127 soums of 17 provinces and one district of Ulaanbaatar. Present at today's ceremony to render the vehicles were, Deputy Minister of Health L.Byambasuren, Chairman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Brigadier General T.Badral and other related officials. To diminish the disaster risks, the government also resolved to distribute the 2,410 tons of hay preserved in the state reservoirs free-of-charge and 1,700 tons of animal fodder with 50 percent discount, NEMA reports. ^ top ^

Presidential Election to be organized adhering current law on Elections (Montsame)
2017-01-20
Bill on Presidential Election has been returned to the initiators of the bill, as majority of MPs attended today's plenary session voted against discussing the bill further. MPP group in parliament considered that the bill has not been developed properly, as it did not reflect how to invalidate currently enacting regulations and 149 proposals were put by MPs during the first discussion of the bill. Moreover, even though the bill was approved, new regulations could not have been adhered due to time limitations. The last parliamentary and local elections 2016 were held following to the unified law on elections and General elections commission claimed that it was difficult to organize different elections with one law. Some MPs initiated the bill on Presidential Election, beforehand to incoming Presidential Elections, explaining the other laws for parliamentary and local elections could be developed later separately. General elections commission Chairman Ch.Sodnomtseren said that after the Presidential election, the commission would submit its proposal on developing bills on Parliamentary, Presidential and local elections separately to the Parliament and MPs' proposals during the discussion would be reflected in the bill. ^ top ^

President Ts.Elbegdorj attends 'Silk Road' session as panelist (Montsame)
2017-01-20
The President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, who is attending the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, has participated in a session 'Silk Road' as a panelist. The session discussed on how political efforts and investment infrastructure, targeted to develop the modern Silk Road that connects Asia and Europe will influence economic growth and integration of the two regions. Investments into industrialization, e-economy, trade and energy sectors, which will develop following the Silk Road were on focus of the discussion. The President said that green technology should be used in 'Silk Road' projects and from now on,attention should be given to operating trains in route Asia- Europe with renewable energy. President Ts.Elbegdorj mentioned that Presidents of Mongolia, Russia and China held a trilateral meeting last year and signed an agreement on establishing economic corridor, which connects the three countries. “ – Mongolia hosted ASEM last year, where 53 heads of states participated. One of main subjects that reflected in the Ulaanbaatar Declaration of the meeting was about being connected through Silk Road. Obviously, Mongolia has a big plan to participate in this major project. Historically, Mongolia is a founder of Silk Road. The basis of free trade which connected Asia and Europe was founded during the Mongolian Empire. As you know, Mongolia established the biggest empire on earth, governed by Chinggis Khaan and Khubilai Khaan. It means Silk Road cannot exist without Mongolia. Participation in the Silk Road is a big ambition of Mongolia” he said. ^ top ^

Amendment to traffic security law removes duplicated penalty (Montsame)
2017-01-20
Yesterday, amendments to the law on road traffic security were approved by the parliament. An official who is entitled to impose penalty of arrest was identified and duplicated penalties were removed by the law amendment. Section 27.3 of the previous law stated that “ - In case a legal body, who has no valid driving license or has a suspended license, drives under the influence of alcoholic beverages, drugs or psychotropic drugs, will be fined two to four times the minimum wage and will be arrested for 7 to 30 days”. According to the amendment, if violation is repeated, the driver will get arrest penalty. ^ top ^

PM receives Chinese Ambassador (Montsame)
2017-01-19
On January 19, J.Erdenebat, Prime Minister received Xing Haiming, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to Mongolia, upon his request. At the meeting, PM J.Erdenebat and Ambassador Xing Haiming exchanged views on a wide range of issues of bilateral relations and cooperation between Mongolia and China and agreed to make efforts for stimulating bilateral collaboration in the fields of policy, trade, economy and humanitarian in the future. Ambassador Xing Haiming conveyed greetings from Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China and Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of China to the Prime Minister of Mongolia. In turn, PM J.Erdenebat requested the Ambassador of China to convey his greetings on Chinese New Year to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. ^ top ^

PM meets U.S. Ambassador (Montsame)
2017-01-18
Today, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat received U.S. Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt and some US business representatives from Polaris Asset Corporation, General Electric and J.P. Morgan. The Ambassador expressed her readiness to help the Government of Mongolia in all aspects during the period of economic difficulties. Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt wished success in ongoing talks between the Government of Mongolia and the International Monetary Fund and stated that the embassy would cooperate to successfully implement the second compact of US Millennium Challenge Corporation in Mongolia. General Electric is working together with 'Erdenes Mongol' company to implement a liquefied coal project (producing petroleum and other byproducts through liquefying coal), financed by J.P.Morgan. The project will bring positive impacts to the citizens and the economy, ensuring energy independence of Mongolia, reducing air pollution of Ulaanbaatar, lowering dependence on imported oil and reducing outflow of money, underlined the project team member. After the project completion, the coal liquefaction plant will be transferred to the ownership of Mongolia. PM J.Erdenebat said the government would support this kind of project that the project implementer had found financial source or the investor. PM also underlined the project should be realized without delay. “Although Mongolia now faces economic difficulties, it is a country with very high promising future and our economic growth will achieve high. Therefore, considering the market, the main raw material reserves and future of Mongolia, you can be confident that you are implementing prudent and non-risky project. ^ top ^

Mongolia has now a debt of USD80 million loan to Chalco (gogoMongolia)
2017-01-18
Mongolian Government has now a debt of USD80 million loan to the Aluminum Corporation of China Limited (Chalco). Mongolia has been paying off its USD 350 million debt to Chalco since 2011. 65 per cent of all extracted coal from East Tsankhi block of Tavantolgoi mine has been paid back to “TTJVCO” company for its extraction work and 35 per cent has been supplied to Chalco for the loan repayment. The Erdenes Tavantolgoi Company could not raise its coal price more than USD30, when coal price jumped to over USD200 in the world market due to the loan agreement. However the company has managed to agree with Chalco to supply coal from East Tsankhi block of Tavantolgoi at USD59.3 within the first quarter. That price is expected to be kept till the second quarter. ^ top ^

The Asia Foundation is asked to expand its support for Mongolia's women entrepreneurs (The UB Post)
2017-01-18
Member of Parliament M.Oyunchimeg received the Asia Foundation's Country Representative in Mongolia, Meloney Lindberg, to discuss the promotion of the businesses of female entrepreneurs. MP Oyunchimeg noted that whenever she meets with her electorate, women entrepreneurs always ask her to help them find ways to connect to business networks to sell their products. She said that they have faced challenges in reaching customers. MP Oyunchimeg asked Lindberg to help women participate in the Women's Business Center (WBC) project being funded by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and implemented by the Asia Foundation. Meloney Lindberg stated that 829 women have taken part in the WBC since it was launched in 2016, and that the project will be implemented until 2018. She noted that the project's resources are available to women entrepreneurs who are interested in taking part in the business incubator. The center helps women entrepreneurs learn how to write a business plan, offers business advice, helps its members improve their marketing skills, and teaches women how to access financial resources. ^ top ^

Ms. Annina Burri
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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