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
  13-17.7.15, No. 581  
    Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

DPRK

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Foreign Policy

China could invest up to €10b in EU's new infrastructure fund (SCMP)
2015-07-14
China could invest up to €10 billion (HK$86 billion) in Europe's new infrastructure fund, but a final decision is being held up by the complex mechanics of a deal to give Chinese technology companies a greater role in Europe, people familiar with the talks say. Premier Li Keqiang had been expected to put a figure on China's contribution to the EU's €315 billion fund at an EU-China summit on June 29, part of Beijing's efforts to become a more advanced economy and not just the world's factory floor. Li made a pledge to invest in the European fund, which aims to reverse the dramatic fall in European investment since the 2008 global financial crisis, but he created some confusion by also talking about an additional China-EU co-investment fund. "China wants to invest between €5 to 10 billion initially. The question is how to do it," said one person close to the discussions, who declined to be named. A second person said the investments would be "in the billions" and added the goal was to agree the scheme at a meeting in Beijing in late September between European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Vice-Premier Ma Kai. The Chinese pledge follows decisions by EU governments to join the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, in defiance of Washington. One of the obstacles is the design of the EU fund, known formally as the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which relies on guarantees that are designed to attract investors by covering any initial losses should a project fail. If China were to put its money directly into the fund as a guarantee, that would have a multiplier effect by attracting more investment. But under the rules of the fund, Beijing would have no say in choosing the kind of technology projects that Chinese companies could invest in. China's money could also be lost and need to be replenished if projects fail. For the moment, the fund's guarantees will come from unused funds of the European Union's budget. Other ways would be to invest in projects chosen by the fund's board, known as platforms, that are defined by the type of economic sector chosen. That would allow China to go into the kind of digital projects they are looking for. Another option would be to create a vehicle linked to the EU fund, possibly what Li was referring to, but that would still need collateral to go to market to issue bonds and raise capital. The EU has little spare cash. Chinese officials in Brussels last week said there was no doubt China would eventually invest in the fund. This time, Beijing wants to work closely with Europe to avoid past project failures in places such as Poland and Greece. "We are ready to invest because there are infinite opportunities. We can build a digital Silk Road, a Silk Road in cyberspace," Lu Wei, China's top internet regulator, told European technology executives in Brussels. He led a delegation of technology companies including ZTE, Tencent and Alibaba to find ways to invest in Europe, mainly through the EU's EFSI fund. Beijing wants to focus on digital projects to gain technological knowledge, part of a grander plan to link Asia and Europe under the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, to create a modern Silk Road to boost trade and extend China's influence. ^ top ^

Beijing invites Japanese prime minister to ceremony marking end of second world war (SCMP)
2015-07-12
President Xi Jinping has officially invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a ceremony in September commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war. Beijing had been waiting for a reply since the invitation was made three weeks ago, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheng Guoping said on Friday following a BRICS summit. Cheng said all leaders from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation members - Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - had agreed to attend the September 3 ceremony, which includes a military parade in Tiananmen Square. Abe had told aides he was willing to visit China, the Asahi newspaper reported. However, fearing a domestic backlash, he was considering a visit either before or after the ceremony, it said. A Japanese government source said Abe hoped to talk with Xi on repairing the damage caused by territorial disputes and differing perceptions of history. Jiang Yuechun, a professor at the China Institute of International Studies, said Abe's hesitation was understandable. "If Abe decides to attend the ceremony, it would be a good opportunity to help his country get rid of its historical burden [as an invader]. It would also be a chance to [turn back] Sino-Japanese bilateral ties," he said. "Of course, it's impossible for the two countries to remedy the breach even if Abe does meet Xi, because there are so many problems left by history that have hindered the relationship, such as maritime disputes over the Diaoyu Islands and fishing rights. It will take time to solve these by rational communication." Whether Abe's trip goes ahead could depend on the content of a statement he is expected to make regarding the war anniversary and China's activities to press sovereignty claims in the East and South China seas. China has urged Abe to include a full apology and note that Japan was engaged in a war of aggression. Recent speeches by Abe had reflected on Japan's "wrongdoing" but "offered no apology", said Sun Cheng, director of the East Asia International Studies Centre at the China University of Political Science and Law. Sun said the attitude of the US would be key to pushing Japan into an open apology "because Tokyo cares more for Washington's [approval] than for China's or South Korea's". To lay the groundwork for Abe's visit, Shotaro Yachi, the head of Japan's National Security Council, was planning to travel to China this month to hold talks with Yang Jiechi, the mainland's top diplomat, a Japanese government source said. Abe and Xi held talks last November in Beijing and this April in Jakarta on the sidelines of international conferences. Observers say Beijing hopes to improve its relations with Tokyo before Xi's visit to the United States in September, while Abe is eager to bolster his domestic support by repairing ties with Beijing amid deliberations on controversial security bills. Meanwhile, Japan has proposed sending its foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, to Russia from August 31 to September 1. Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Japan within the year. ^ top ^

Xi's invitation to Abe shows aspiration for peace (Global Times)
2015-07-14
Chinese President Xi Jinping's invitation to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to attend the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in Beijing in September demonstrates China's peaceful foreign policy, analysts said. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said on Friday at a press conference that China has extended an official invitation to Abe to attend the event marking victory in China's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, adding that no response has yet been received. "It is not a surprise that China has offered this invitation to Abe since all the major powers will be invited to this anniversary, marking the victory over fascism. It also shows China is promoting a peaceful foreign policy," Liu Junhong, a research fellow specializing in Japanese studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times. According to Asahi Shimbun, Abe is considering a fence-mending mission to China in early September. It would be a chance for Abe to hold a one-on-one talk with Xi to repair strained bilateral ties, according to the report. A source was quoted as saying that Abe has shown interest in accepting the invitation, telling aides, "I didn't want to shy away when the invitation was given [from China]." However, given the chance of a domestic political backlash, Abe is considering the chances for a visit either before or after the anniversary, the paper said. "It would be a big step to improve relations with China and to change Japan's negative impression among the Chinese if Abe would visit China on September 3," Tadayoshi Murata, honorary professor at Japan's Yokohama National University, told the Global Times, adding that watching the parade with Chinese people could prove to be meaningful. Many Chinese netizens on Sunday expressed their hope that Abe would accept the invitation to visit China for the parade and take the "historic" opportunity to make apologies, not only to China, but to other neighboring countries in Asia for its wartime atrocities. Analysts, however, said the decision could prove to be a difficult one for Abe, who has to weigh both the domestic political environment and the US attitude toward his visit to China. "Abe's decision reflects Japan's attitudes to historic issues. Accepting the invitation would show that Japan is ready to face up to history and handle issues left over from the past with other Asian countries," Liu said. "Japan needs this opportunity to balance ties with China since its economic power has been on the decline," Geng Xin, deputy director of Japan's JCC New Japan Research Institute, told the Global Times. "Abe also hopes to ease some pressure from both the domestic and the international communities to create a stable environment to implement the security bills." Japanese media reported that Abe's approval ratings are steadily sliding due to his push in the Diet for the security legislation, which would mark a radical shift in Japan's postwar defense policy by significantly expanding the overseas role of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. Abe and his aides are reportedly hoping that the Abe-Xi meeting could help reverse the downward trend. A good relationship between China and Japan will help both countries resolve the East China Sea dispute, Geng said. The US wants to find a new balance to make Japan and China contain each other without hurting US interests, he noted. Abe plans to express "deep remorse" over World War II in a statement before August 15, the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender, but he is unlikely to offer an apology for the war, Kyodo News reported. Shotaro Yachi, the head of the National Security Council, reportedly plans to visit Beijing for talks with Yang Jiechi, China's State Councilor. Yachi is expected to lay the groundwork for a summit between Abe and Xi, NHK reported. ^ top ^

China opposes U.S. official meeting with Dalai Lama (Xinhua)
2015-07-13
China on Monday voiced its opposition over a senior U.S. official meeting with the Dalai Lama. "China is strongly displeased by and opposed to a senior U.S. official meeting with the Dalai Lama in disregard of China's multiple representations," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a statement issued on Monday. Hua's comments came after U.S. President Obama's senior adviser Valerie Jarrett took part in Dalai's 80th birthday "celebrations" in New York on Friday. "We urge the U.S. side to honor its commitment to recognizing Tibet as part of China and not supporting 'Tibet independence' and take concrete measures to rectify mistakes and undo any harm done," Hua said. She called on the United States to stop providing any convenience and support to "Tibet independence" forces and not let it interfere with and damage China-US relations. ^ top ^

China dismisses claims that Uyghur deportees face unfair treatment (Global Times)
2015-07-14
China's Ministry of Public Security rejected claims that deportees from Thailand are refugees who might face unfair treatment in China, Singapore-based newspaper Lianhe Zaobao reported Sunday. Such claims aimed to “demonize” China, Tong Bishan, an official of Ministry of Public Security who has been helping lead China's efforts to get the Uyghurs back, was quoted as saying by the newspaper. Tong said that most of the 109 Uyghurs deported from Thailand back to China last week come from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and they were on their way to participate in jihad in Syria and Iraq. They are now in the regional capital of Urumqi undergoing investigation. A dozen of them were involved in terrorism crimes, Tong said. The report said that preliminary investigation shows that among the deportees, there are women, elderly people and children, who had to pay large amounts of money to ring leaders in the passing-by countries and some of the money were transferred into the accounts owned by East Turkestan Islamic Movement. “They are under-educated and it is difficult for them to make a living abroad.” said Tong, adding that if these people arrive in Turkey, several terrorist organizations would pick them up and some would recruit them as fighters by giving them at least $2,000. The ministry told the Global Times that China has reported eight ring leaders to the Turkish police and requested their arrest. Since October last year, Chinese police have seized 22 Turkish suspects, who confessed that they were ordered by the ring leaders in Turkey to organize Chinese people to sneak into other countries. Police said that the embassy of Turkey in certain Southeastern Asian country also provided help for the illegal emigration. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier to visit Vietnam (Global Times)
2015-07-14
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli will pay an official visit to Vietnam in mid-July, a press release said on Monday. Zhang is a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. He will make the trip at the invitation of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the International Department of the CPC Central Committee said in the press release. ^ top ^

Google Maps drops Chinese name for disputed area in the South China Sea (SCMP)
2015-07-15
Google has quietly removed the Chinese name for a South China Sea shoal bitterly disputed by Beijing and Manila from its maps service following an outcry from Filipinos. The Google Maps website on Tuesday referred to the rich fishing ground, a subject of a case lodged by the Philippines at an international arbitration tribunal, by its international name, Scarborough Shoal. The service had earlier labelled the shoal as part of China's Zhongsha island chain, prompting an online campaign demanding that the internet giant stop identifying the outcrop as part of Chinese territory. “We've updated Google Maps to fix the issue. We understand that geographic names can raise deep emotions, which is why we worked quickly once this was brought to our attention,” Google's office in Manila said in a statement. Scarborough Shoal lies 220 km off the main Philippine island of Luzon and 650 km from Hainan island, the nearest major Chinese land mass. China has controlled the shoal since 2012, following a brief standoff with the Philippines. The Philippines has accused the Chinese coast guard of harassing Filipino fishermen at the shoal, including robbing them of their catch at gunpoint earlier this year. Campaigns website Change.org began a petition last week to get Google Maps to drop the Chinese name of the shoal on its site. The petition drew close to 2,000 supporters. “China's sweeping claim of [the] South China Sea under their nine-dash line purportedly historical boundary is illegal and is creating tension among nations,” the petition read. “Google maps showing this is part of [the] Zhongsha island chain gives credence to what is plainly a territory grab that peace loving nations should stand against.” A United Nations-backed tribunal at The Hague started hearing a Philippine petition last week to declare illegal China's maritime claims in the South China Sea that overlap those of the Philippines. Filipino officials wrapped up arguments on Monday to convince the panel it had jurisdiction over the case, presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the Philippines was confident the tribunal would assume jurisdiction. “We are doing this as a peaceful means to resolve the dispute. We can't fight China economically, militarily and even politically. This is the way to do it,” de Lima told Manila broadcaster ABS-CBN on Tuesday. ^ top ^

Chinese premier meets South African VP (Xinhua)
2015-07-15
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with South African Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa here on Tuesday, vowing to enhance cooperation with South Africa. Calling the two economies highly compatible, Li said South Africa is committed to boosting industrialization and infrastructure, while China has advanced and cost-effective assembly lines for steel, building materials and consumer products. "We hope to enhance capacity cooperation with South Africa, and carry out technology exchanges and personnel training," Li said. He also vowed to enhance cooperation with South Africa in such areas as nuclear power, ports, offshore gas exploration and aquiculture. Ramaphosa told Li South Africa highly values its relations with China as well as Africa-China ties. South Africa hopes to learn from China's experience in industrialization and economic zone development, and facilitate bilateral cooperation in such areas as capacity, ocean economy and energy, he said. Ramaphosa also welcomed China to expand investment in South Africa. Li hailed the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma last week during the 7th Summit of the BRICS in Ufa of Russia. "China is ready to strengthen political trust and win-win cooperation with South Africa, enhance coordination in global and regional affairs, and work with other African countries to set an example for South-South cooperation," Li said. Ramaphosa is visiting China from July 13 to 17 at the invitation of Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao. ^ top ^

Chinese, Bolivian presidents exchange congratulations on anniversary of ties (Xinhua)
2015-07-15
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Bolivian President Evo Morales recently exchanged congratulatory messages to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between their countries. In his message to Morales, Xi said that China-Bolivia ties have achieved significant development over the past 30 years, thanks to the joint efforts of both sides. Xi said that he and Morales had exchanged views on China-Bolivia cooperation and China-Latin America cooperation and reached important consensus during his Latin America trip in July 2014 and Morales' state visit to China in December 2013. Xi said he is glad to see that the relevant departments of the two countries currently are fully implementing the above-mentioned consensus,and bilateral pragmatic cooperation in such fields as energy, mining, infrastructure and aerospace have made new progress. Xi said he highly values the development of China-Bolivia ties and is willing to join hands with Morales to advance exchanges and cooperation in various fields between the two countries and bring more benefits to the two countries and two peoples. In his message, Morales said Bolivia-China relations have been advancing constantly over the past 30 years under the framework of friendship, solidarity, cooperation and respect, and the two countries have made important steps in generating benefits for the peoples of the two countries. Complementation and cooperation are the basic principles that both countries follow, Morales said. The Bolivian president believed that Bolivia and China will continue to join hands to go ahead in order to establish a fairer, more united and more peaceful world. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca have also exchanged congratulatory messages on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Bolivia. ^ top ^

Panama Canal expansion to boost China-LatAm infrastructure cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-07-15
The expansion project of the Panama Canal will create more opportunities for the cooperation on infrastructure between China and Latin America, a Chinese official said Monday. The canal, which was built 101 years ago, is undergoing an expansion project of 5 billion U.S. dollars to allow larger modern vessels to go through. Upon its completion in 2016, the canal will be able to accommodate so-called Post-Panamax ships that are larger than Panamax ships, which is important for trade between the Americas and Asia. A Panamax ship, determined principally by the dimensions of the canal's lock chambers, is no more than 300 meters long, no more than 33 meters wide and has a draft no more than 12 meters deep. Ports in the Caribbean countries and other Atlantic coastal nations will therefore need to update their facilities to receive bigger vessels, which will provide new opportunities of construction projects for Chinese companies, said Wang Jian, deputy representative of the Chinese Commercial Development Bureau in Panama. In the Cologne harbor on the Atlantic side of the canal, a wharf expansion project constructed by China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) is about to complete. The company is preparing for the bidding for another wharf expansion project on the Pacific side, said Wang. The canal will be equipped with new and larger chamber locks, which enable large liquified natural gas carriers and oil tankers to pass through. The administration is working on a feasibility study on new docks and facilities for those vessels, according to Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano. As a strategic passage for international shipping, the Panama Canal also faces competition from the Nicaragua Canal, now under construction, which will serve super-sized ships. The Panama Canal Authority has invited the CHEC to participate in the construction of the fourth set of chamber locks, according to Wang Weihua, representative of the Chinese Commercial Development Bureau in Panama. "We are studying on the possibility of our participation in all Canal projects, especially in the design, construction and financing of the fourth set of chamber locks," CHEC Chairman Mo Wenhe said. The canal contributes about 1 billion dollars a year to the Panamanian government through transit fees. China now is the second largest user of the canal, following the United States. After the expansion, the shipping cost from China to the eastern coast of the United States will be lowered, according to the Panama Canal Authority. ^ top ^

China's stance on Iran nuclear issue (Xinhua)
2015-07-15
Iran and six major countries of the world have reached an agreement in Vienna on the Islamic republic's nuclear program, reports said on Tuesday. China has always played a constructive part in resolving the decade-long dispute, had an objective, fair and responsible attitude toward the issue, and stood ready to work with other countries to uphold international non-proliferation regime. DIALOGUE IS ONLY WAY OUT As a peace-loving country, China has always played a constructive role in moving forward the negotiation with a just and objective position. It opposes imposition of unilateral sanctions and use or threat of military force against Iran. Meanwhile, China opposes Iran's attempts to develop nuclear weapons and supports the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. China hopes that all parties will implement earnestly the comprehensive agreement, maintain a good momentum of the negotiation, and uphold peace in the Middle-East region. "China will continue to take an active part in the negotiation and will work tirelessly for a comprehensive, long-term, proper solution to Iran's nuclear issue," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday on the sidelines of the negotiation in Vienna. FLEXIBILITY NEEDED IN NEGOTIATION As significant differences have existed for a long time, China called on all parties to treasure the hard-earned results of the talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne, and use the Lausanne framework as the basis for new negotiations. Meanwhile, there should not be any new demands from any party in the new talks in order to prevent further complication of the issue. Due attention should be paid to the legitimate concerns of all parties involved and reasonable solutions should be found, he said. Besides, all sides should advance toward the same direction. China hopes that all parties show flexibility and creativity to seek a package of solutions that takes all parties' concerns into consideration. "China believes no agreement could be perfect,......Conditions are already in place for us to reach a good agreement," Chinese foreign minister said. "We believe that there can not and should not be a further delay of the negotiations." In China's point of view, reaching a comprehensive agreement is conducive to safeguarding the system of nonproliferation of nuclear weapons as well as the peace and stability in the Middle East. ^ top ^

China won't accept Hague sovereignty arbitration (Xinhua)
2015-07-15
China will refuse to recognize the conclusion of the arbitration requested by the Philippines over the two countries' maritime sovereignty dispute, a spokesperson said on Tuesday, after an international tribunal heard the matter at the Hague. "China has repeatedly expounded its position of not accepting or getting involved in these proceedings initiated unilaterally by the Philippines," the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Hua Chunying said. "On the issue of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights, China will never accept any imposed plan, nor any solution arrived at by unilaterally resorting to a third party for resolving disputes," Hua said. The Philippines filed its arbitration case at the Hague in early 2013. The hearing on jurisdiction and admissibility began last week and was concluded on Monday. China refused to be involved in the proceedings, citing a policy of resolving disputes on territorial sovereignty and maritime rights only through direct consultation and negotiation with the countries directly involved. This is common practice in the international community, and has been consistently applied by China, said Hua, urging the Philippines to negotiate directly with China. She said China's stance is based on international law and has been clearly stated in the position paper published by the Foreign Ministry in December in response to the arbitration. The Philippines' initiation of the arbitration ignored China's legitimate rights under such international laws as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and breached commitments made by the Philippines not to unilaterally seek arbitration, according to Hua. The spokesperson laid the blame for the current tension in the South China Sea on the the Philippines, saying it has illegally occupied Chinese islands there since the 1970s. "Despite being the victim of the South China sea disputes, China remains highly restrained and keeps safeguarding regional peace and stability in mind," Hua said. ^ top ^

China to continue to help Laos fight UXO (Global Times)
2015-07-15
China will continue to support Laos in tackling its unexploded ordinance (UXO) problems, said Chinese Ambassador to Laos Guan Huabing in Lao capital Vientiane on Tuesday.
Guan on Tuesday handed over medical supplies donated by the Chinese Embassy in Vientiane to the Center of Medical Rehabilitation (CMR) under Laos' Ministry of Health. "China attaches great importance to the work of UXO clearance in Laos, and has been supporting Laos in the field in recent years. The two countries will continue to work together in order to provide Laos with more supports," Guan told Khamphet Manivong, director general of CMR. Khamphet Manivong, for his part, thanked the Chinese Embassy in Laos for its supports, adding that the donated facilities are valuable not only materially, but also in a spiritual sense as they reflects the friendship between Laos and China. According to statistics from the National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action Sector in Laos, from 1965 to 1973, the United States dropped some 2 million tons of ordinance on Laos during the Vietnam War, including 2.7 million cluster bombs which are designed to break apart and release a payload of smaller bombs. As many as 30 percent of these bombs did not explode. Before 2008, an average of 300 people had been killed and countless more injured from accidents related to UXO in Laos each year. At present, 41 out of 46 poor districts in Laos still suffer UXO contamination. Established in 1962, the CMR was in charge of taking care of injured soldiers during wars in the past century, especially the Vietnam War. At present, the center offers free treatment and prosthetics for the disabilities resulting from UXO accidents. Annually, the CMR provides treatment for 20,000 person-times of UXO victims and offers over 1,000 prosthetics and around 500 wheelchairs for disabilities by UXO. ^ top ^

Chinese VP meets New Zealand deputy PM (Global Times)
2015-07-15
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli met with Bill English, visiting deputy prime minister of New Zealand, on Monday, talking up opportunities for cooperation between the two countries. At the meeting in Zhongnanhai, the headquarters of the Chinese government, Zhang said China is ready to work with New Zealand to strengthen dialogues and exchanges on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. He said bilateral relations have developed soundly following President Xi Jinping's visit to New Zealand last year. The two countries have maintained frequent contact between their leaders and China has become New Zealand's top trade partner as two-way trade has grown rapidly, Zhang noted. English said New Zealand is glad to see China's economic development. He expressed readiness to help prepared for the establishment of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, saying New Zealand is willing to cooperate more broadly with China. ^ top ^

China arrests 20 British and South African tourists for 'watching terrorist propaganda videos' (SCMP)
2015-07-16
China has formally detained nine foreigners - South Africans, Britons and an Indian national - for suspected ties to a "terror group" after authorities accused them of watching banned videos, according to the foreign ministry and a South African charity. The ministry said on Wednesday that 11 others would be deported and the nine were "criminally detained" - meaning they have likely been charged and could be prosecuted. All were suspected of violating the law, it said, without specifying what they had done. Law enforcement authorities in Inner Mongolia, where the group was detained, are in touch with diplomatic officials from the countries, it added. Imtiaz Sooliman, head of the Gift of the Givers Foundation, a South African charity, quoted Chinese authorities as saying some of those arrested had been watching propaganda videos from a banned group while in their hotel room. Family members of some of the detainees asked Gift of the Givers to speak to the press on their behalf. The South African families were considering appointing a Chinese human rights lawyer, the charity said, adding: "Information received from China this morning is very disconcerting as we were told many top human rights lawyers have been arrested by the Chinese government." Shameel Joosub, chief executive of South African telecoms firm Vodacom Group, said members of his family were among those detained. Sooliman said the group - five South Africans, three Britons and one Indian national - included a veteran of the African National Congress' military wing, which was co-founded by Nelson Mandela. "There's no way … they were part of any terrorist group." A British Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "Consular staff have visited the group to provide assistance." The South African embassy declined to comment. An Indian embassy spokesman said he had no information on the matter. The group was on a 47-day historical tour of the country when they were detained at an airport in Erdos. Their tour operator received no word from Chinese authorities and sought them out two days later, Sooliman said, when he had not heard from the group and realised something had gone "horribly wrong". The incident coincides with a visit to China by South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Gift of the Givers said it had called on Ramaphosa to raise the issue with Chinese leaders. A representative travelling with Ramaphosa could not be reached for comment. The detentions come as the Communist Party tightens control on foreign charities and on any groups perceived as a political threat. Beijing recently extended a year-long nationwide crackdown on "terrorism" it declared after a series of violent assaults it blames on Islamist separatists from Xinjiang. ^ top ^

China's Uygurs go overseas to train for jihad at home, Beijing says (SCMP)
2015-07-16
Uygurs from Xinjiang who have travelled to Turkey via Southeast Asia are being trained in Syria and Iraq with the aim of bringing jihad back to China, the foreign ministry said on Thursday. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Uygurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority that calls Xinjiang home, have left China in recent years. Rights groups say such migrants are mostly fleeing ethnic violence in Xinjiang and controls on their religion and culture. Hundreds of people have died in unrest in Xinjiang in the last three years, blamed by Beijing on Islamist militants. The foreign ministry said the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group that Beijing says seeks an independent state in Xinjiang, found followers from the region to send for training in the Middle East with the intent of returning for jihad. "Terrorist extremists from within China's borders are recruited to illegally exit the country. Through Southeast Asian countries, they go to Turkey and from there head to the so-called holy wars in Syria and Iraq, receive terrorist training and bide their time to return," the foreign ministry said. "This not only seriously damages China's national security, but is also a threat to the security and stability of other relevant countries and regions." The comments come as the state steps ups efforts to bolster its claims that some of the 109 Uygurs deported from Thailand back to China last week posed a security threat, amid global concern about their well-being. Their deportation sparked anger in Turkey, home to a large Uygur diaspora, and fed concern among rights groups and the United States that they could be mistreated upon their return. In March, Xinjiang's Communist Party chief Zhang Chunxian said authorities had busted "extremists" that had returned from overseas wars, but authorities have offered little evidence to support their claims. Many foreign experts have questioned whether ETIM exists as the coherent group China claims it is. "To strengthen so-called diplomatic victories, China meticulously fabricates lies to obtain its own political goals, and will force those repatriated to serve as propaganda tools," said Dilxat Rexit, spokesman for the exiled group the World Uygur Congress. ^ top ^

Chinese vice president meets Japanese orphans raised by Chinese families (Xinhua)
2015-07-16
Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao met with a group of Japanese orphans who were raised by Chinese families after the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. The militarist Japan left behind thousands of children in China after its defeat in World War II in 1945. The Japanese children were adopted and raised by large-minded Chinese people. They later returned home to Japan with the help of the Chinese government and the people. During the meeting with around 50 representatives of the orphans, mostly in their 70s, Vice President Li said the two countries suffered the tragedy caused by Japanese militarism. Li said the Japanese orphans have worked actively to promote friendship between the two countries. Noting that China will mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression this year, Li said China is ready to push for the improvement of China-Japan relations on the basis of the four political documents signed by the two countries and in the spirit of taking history as a mirror and facing up to the future. The Japanese orphans said they will always remember the Chinese people's kindness and work for friendship between Japan and China. ^ top ^

President Xi pledges stronger relations with Fiji (Xinhua)
2015-07-16
Chinese President Xi Jinping met here on Wednesday with Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, vowing stronger relations and cooperation in agricultural technology and infrastructure. Xi recalled his state visit to Fiji last year, during which both countries announced a strategic partnership featuring mutual respect and common development. Xi hailed the fruitful progress of bilateral relations over the past 40 years, citing frequent exchanges among top leadership and other levels, enhanced cooperation in trade, investment, economy, technology and law enforcement, vigorous local, cultural and military exchanges, and sound coordination in global and regional affairs. "China respects the development road that the Fijian people chose for their country, supports the Fijian government's efforts in boosting economic and social development and improving people's livelihood, and backs Fiji's reasonable claims in global and regional affairs," Xi said. Calling this year the start of efforts in comprehensively building a China-Fiji strategic partnership, Xi said China hopes to enhance exchanges with Fiji among governments, parliaments, parties and local governments, and share governance experience. He pledged to encourage more Chinese companies to invest in Fiji. Xi said China hopes to keep close coordination with Fiji in multilateral frameworks such as the United Nations, and enhance contact on major issues such as the UN Security Council reform, climate change and the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Bainimarama, in his turn, said Xi's state visit to Fiji last year has upgraded bilateral ties up to a new level. He appreciated China's support for his country over the years. Calling China an important partner, he expressed his hope to enhance all-round cooperation with China and coordination on major global and regional issues such as countering climate change. The Fijian prime minister is visiting China from July 14 to 24 at the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. ^ top ^

Belt and Road countries call for ample information on related projects (Xinhua)
2015-07-16
The China-proposed Belt and Road initiative, a trade and infrastructure network already in play to expand China's exports and investment as well as bilateral trade with countries along the route, could generate further economic development by providing stakeholders with more information, experts and officials told Xinhua. According to data released by the Central Administration of Customs (CAC) on Monday, China's exports and investment increased steadily in the first half of 2015 as the country strengthened economic ties with the region. In the meantime, bilateral trade with countries involved in the Belt and Road initiative reached close to 3 trillion yuan, about one fourth of the total trade volume. However, information about national economies, data on such industries as manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and transportation, as well as policies on labor and taxation are largely difficult to acquire, yet they are greatly craved by countries passionate to join in the rapid development provided by the initiative. D. Shurkhuu, a researcher with the Institute of International Studies at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, said there is huge potential for the Belt and Road initiative to dovetail with Mongolia's Steppe Road plan on the sidelines of the Ufa Summit, where China, Russia and Mongolia signed a memorandum aimed at promoting trilateral cooperation. He said Mongolia wants to have more information on such topics as trade facilitation, preferential tax policy, agricultural products' exports to China and logistics discounts, which will not only "help Mongolians to gain insight into China's relevant policies" but also "support the implementation of certain projects." Meanwhile, officials in Kazakhstan said the country is eager to participate in projects along the Silk Road in the hope of introducing foreign high-tech enterprises to help develop its relatively single-product economy that heavily relies on exports. However, there is no agency, or institution, at home or abroad, to provide information on energy-related projects. Ng Peng Hay, board member of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority, said he wished he could access comprehensive information on the projects along the Silk Road, saying the information he has acquired from local and Western media outlets is not always accurate, making it difficult for him to make investment decisions. Faced with these needs, Xinhua News Agency, one of the world's leading news organizations and China's state media, has decided to create a product series named "Xinhua Silk Road," which provides information collection, publication, information screening and customized services, as well as a business connection platform as an overall business information solution to investors in the Belt and Road initiative. "Xinhua Silk Road" integrates four key products and services, including the Silk Road Database, Xinhua Credit Reports, Consulting & Thinktank Services and the Xinhua Silk Road IM System, which are committed to generating quality information to facilitate policy communication, trade exchange, financing and cultural intercourse with the Belt and Road region so as to help Xinhua partners better seize business opportunities and eliminate risks. "China is a rapidly developing economy. Any economic information service of China and from China is important both for the economic development of Egypt and the decision-making body in Egypt," said Abdel-Khaleq Farouk, director of the Nile River Economic and Strategic Research Center. Dr. Shimail Daud, member of the board of directors of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the Belt and Road countries must not have any doubts concerning the need for economic and financial information about the Belt and Road projects. "They must have it because with such information, their businessmen, decision-makers, investors and rulers and others can keep themselves up to date to improve their performance and decide better," Daud said. ^ top ^

Philippines' warship consolidation angers China (Xinhua)
2015-07-16
China on Wednesday protested against the Philippines' consolidation of its illegally "stranded" warship on a Chinese reef in the South China Sea. The Philippine navy is "quietly reinforcing the hull and deck of a rusting ship" it ran aground on Ren'ai Reef, which the Philippine Foreign Ministry spokesman Charles Jose said is "for the safety of its personnel and safety of navigation," according to media reports. "China expresses strong protest and firm opposition to the reinforcement of the warship," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, reiterating China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and surrounding waters. Hua recalled how the Philippine warship illegally landed on the beach of the Ren'ai Reef of China's Nansha Islands in 1999 under the excuse that it had been stranded. Since then, China has repeatedly lodged protests and representations to the Philippines, demanding that the country tow the warship away, Hua said. The Philippine side has said that it will not be the first country to violate the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and has not dragged the warship away because of a "lack of parts," stressing that the country does not have any intention of building any facilities on the reef, Hua said. "But the Philippines have not only failed to deliver on its promise to tow away the ship but is increasing illegal activities on the reef in an attempt to occupy it forever," she said. "The Philippine side has broken its own promise and lost the trust of the international community," said the spokesperson. "Its behavior fully reveals its hypocrisy and dualistic character, and proves that the Philippines is the real trouble maker and rule breaker in the region," Hua said. China is determined to safeguard its national territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, she said. "We urge the Philippine side to immediately stop these violations and fulfill its promise," said the spokesperson. ^ top ^

Xi meets German SDP chairman for broadening common ground (Global Times)
2015-07-16
President Xi Jinping said China and Germany aimed to broaden common interests and realize mutual benefits during his meeting with Sigmar Gabriel, chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Germany, Wednesday in Beijing. Xi said during his visit to Germany last year, he reached a consensus with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to transform bilateral relations into a comprehensive strategic partnership. The aim of this move is to further enrich the content of bilateral cooperation, expand their common interests and realize mutual benefits, Xi said. He said since China and Germany established diplomatic relations 43 years ago, bilateral relations have maintained stable and healthy growth. The two sides have maintained close high-level contact and continued to enhance mutual trust. China and the European Union(EU) are to celebrate the 40th anniversary of official links this year. Noting that Germany is an important member of EU, Xi expressed the hope that the German side will continue to play a leading role in advancing China-EU cooperation in various areas, integration of the Investment Plan for Europe with the Belt and Road initiatives and the four major partnerships between China and EU. Xi emphasized that the Communist Party of China (CPC) places great importance on its relations with the German SDP. He recalled that in May 1984, then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping held talks in Beijing with visiting German SDP Chairman Willy Brandt when the two sides decided to establish relations between the two political parties in the spirit of "surpassing ideological differences and seeking mutual understanding and cooperation". Xi said over the past more than three decades, the two parties have continuously deepened mutual understanding and trust and reached great result of exchanges and cooperation. He said looking into the future, the two parties should strive to upgrade their relations from seeking common ground while maintaining differences to expanding common ground while resolving differences. He expressed the hope that the two parties will accumulate common interests and responsibilities, address common challenges and resolve differences on ideology, political systems and development stages, in order to develop a new mode of party-to-party relationship that suits the times. Xi also hoped that the two parties would conduct even closer contact between their high-level officials and persons at various levels, enhance strategic planning and reinforce mutual trust. Xi said the two parties should strengthen communication and coordination on international issues, especially major global issues so as to advance China-Germany relations and China-EU relations in a stable and healthy way. Gabriel said Xi's successful German visit last year is an event of historical significance in bilateral relations and ushered in a new tide of bilateral cooperation in all areas. He said Germany is confident about China's economy and aspired to deepen pragmatic cooperation in the areas of trade, technology and people-to-people contact. He said the SDP treasures its relations with the CPC and is ready to expand exchanges and dialogue and enhance mutual trust. ^ top ^

China expert says Japan's law changes mean more opportunities for war (SCMP)
2015-07-17
Sino-Japanese relations will be harmed and the chances of war in Asia will increase now that a controversial security bill that could see Japanese troops fighting abroad for the first time in 70 years has been backed by the powerful lower house of parliament in Tokyo, a Chinese expert says. Yesterday's vote, which opponents say undermines 70 years of pacifism, marked a victory for nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has ignored popular anger in a bid to break what he sees as the shackles of the US-imposed constitution. Abe and right-wingers say restrictive clauses preventing Japan from having a fully fledged military serve as a straightjacket that stops Tokyo protecting its citizens, allies and friends. The bill will allow Japan's military to take part in non-United Nations peacekeeping missions. It is expected to be passed in the upper chamber, where Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner have a majority. The vote came on the same day one of Abe's most trusted aides, Shotaro Yachi, held talks with China's top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, in a move that could set the stage for another meeting between their leaders in September. Yang described the vote as "unprecedented", saying it raised concerns over whether Japan would "abolish its pacifist posture." Zhou Yongsheng, a Japanese affairs expert at China Foreign Affairs University, stressed the bill would harm Sino-Japanese ties and the long-term stability of Northeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. "Opportunities for war in Asia will increase when the bill is passed. China should enhance its crisis awareness by strengthening its comprehensive capabilities, not only military might, but also economic, political and diplomatic powers," he said. Beijing criticised the vote and questioned if Japan was "going to give up its exclusively defence-oriented policy". Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said any changes to Japan's defence policies must not affect regional stability, and Tokyo must "respect the major security concerns of its Asian neighbours". The defence ministry said the new bill "will complicate the regional security environment". "China's ability and determination to defend its territorial sovereignty and national security interests is steadfast and unwavering," it said. Abe's ruling coalition voted alone after opposition parties walked out in protest. "The security situation surrounding Japan is increasingly severe," Abe said after the vote, in an apparent reference to the rise of China. ^ top ^

Premier meets World Bank president (Xinhua)
2015-07-17
China is ready to enhance partnership with the World Bank to jointly withstand the downward pressure on the global economy, Premier Li Keqiang said during his meeting with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim Thursday in Beijing. Li said China will work with the World Bank to promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy. Li spoke highly of a joint research on China's health care reform, which was conducted by China, the World Bank and the World Health Organization(WHO). Noting that health care reform is a big project concerning people's welfare, economic growth and employment, he hoped that the three parties could improve cooperation and make contributions to a health system that suits China's national conditions. Li also briefed Kim on China's economic situation, saying the economy is stable and improved, running within a reasonable range and major economic indicators have rebounded in recent months. With progress in job creation, expansion of domestic demand, and industrial structure adjustment, China's targeted fine-tuning measures and structural reform are increasingly effective, he said. China is the world's largest developing country with 1.3 billion people, and its economy is resilient and has great potential, Li said. He said China will continue to stimulate the vitality of the market by deepening reform and promoting mass entrepreneurship and innovation. "We are well-positioned and capable of coping with various challenges, stabilizing market expectations and maintaining a sound economic development," he said. Kim said China's economic growth has greatly contributed to the world economy. The World Bank appreciates China's resolve to push forward reform and the positive measures it has taken to deal with challenges, he said, adding that the World Bank will continue to strengthen cooperation with China in the areas of urbanization and the health care reform. He believes China will set up a high-quality, coordinated health system and provide a new route for reforms in other countries. ^ top ^

China, Vietnam pledge to boost strategic partnership (Xinhua)
2015-07-14
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli held talks with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Thursday and pledged to make joint efforts to boost comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two nations. Recalling the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, and Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) in April, Zhang said the two party chiefs reached extensive consensus on elevating the relationship between the two countries as well as the two parties in a new situation. Zhang said the purpose of his Vietnam trip was to implement the consensus, by discussing with the Vietnamese side on concrete measures to strengthen strategic communication, enhance political trust, boost practical cooperation and increase people-to-people exchanges to advance the China-Vietnam partnership in a stable and healthy way. The Chinese vice premier arrived in Hanoi on Thursday afternoon for an official visit at the invitation of the CPV Central Committee. Zhang is a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. Stressing on the significance of political trust and high-level interactions, Zhang said the Chinese side looks forward to more frequent high-level interactions with Vietnam to exchange views effectively and advance bilateral relations on a right track. "As an important part of bilateral relationship, the party-to- party ties play a special role in the development of China-Vietnam relationship,"Zhang said. He added that solidarity and cooperation between the two parties, in the new situation, helps to consolidate their status as ruling parties and advance socialist undertakings. He hoped the two sides would well practise the mechanism of high-level meetings between the two parties and exchange experience on governance more deeply. The win-win cooperation has not only benefited people of the two countries substantially, but also helped promote peace, development and prosperity in the region, said the vice premier. He proposed the two sides work together to conjoin their development strategies, referring to the alignment between China' s Belt and Road initiative and Vietnam's"Two Corridors and One Economic Circle"plan. Zhang said the two sides should boost cooperation on trade, industrial capacity, infrastructure, finance and people-to-people exchanges. He suggested the two sides work hard to boost maritime cooperation, appropriately handle maritime disputes in line with consensus reached between party and state leaders of the two countries, seek common ground while putting aside differences, keep in mind the big picture of bilateral relationship and maintain peace and stability in the South Sea on the basis of mutual respect and friendly consultation. Zhang said the two sides should focus on joint development in the sea. Echoing Zhang, Phuc said the April meeting has helped build a good momentum of bilateral relationship and Zhang's visit will help implement the consensus between the party leaders, cement the traditional friendship and boost practical cooperation between the two nations. It is a strategic choice and long-standing policy of the Vietnamese party and government to develop relationship with China in a healthy and stable way, Phuc said, adding that the Vietnamese side is determined to safeguard and carry forward the traditional friendship with China. Vietnam will advance all-round practical cooperation, and appropriately handle disputes with China to promote their comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership in a sustained way, Phuc said. The Vietnamese deputy prime minister said Vietnam will support and join the building of the Belt and Road. Phuc suggested the two sides work together to ensure that a joint survey would be conducted outside the bay mouth of Beibu Gulf. After the talks, Zhang and Phuc jointly witnessed the signing of a document on implementing an inter-governmental cultural agreement. Wang Jiarui, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, attended Thursday's talks in Hanoi. ^ top ^

Chinese premier expects progress in China-Fiji FTA feasibility study (Xinhua)
2015-07-17
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday asked for progress in the joint feasibility study of a China-Fiji Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Li told visiting Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama that the study of the FTA would facilitate closer two-way trade cooperation. In their talks at the Great Hall of the People, Li vowed to boost cooperation with the Pacific island country in such areas as agriculture, fishery, forestry, infrastructure and tourism. "China supports its enterprises investing in Fiji's agriculture, and also welcomes Fiji to explore China's maritime products market," Li said. China backs Fiji's constructive role in regional cooperation among the Pacific island countries, he said, pledging stronger cooperation with the country on issues such as climate change and UN Security Council reform. Calling China Fiji's important partner, Bainimarama praised China's role in countering climate change. He expected stronger cooperation with China in such areas as trade, fishery and aviation, as well as in global and regional affairs. Fiji was the first Pacific island country that established diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China on Nov. 5, 1975. Li hailed the achievements of bilateral ties over the past 40 years, vowing to deepen political trust, exchanges and cooperation with the country. After their talks, the two leaders witnessed the signing of cooperation documents regarding trade, technology and culture. Bainimarama is visiting China from July 14 to 24 as Li's guest. ^ top ^

Xinhua Silk Road meets Sri Lanka's demand for information: Sri Lanka counselor (Xinhua)
2015-07-17
Xinhua's new Silk Road information service is providing Sri Lanka with much-needed information to promote its exports to China, Sri Lanka's Commercial Counselor to China Ruwanthi Ariyaratne said Thursday. The China Economic Information Service, a unit under China's state-owned Xinhua News Agency, Thursday launched its latest Xinhua Silk Road information service in both Chinese and English, which will be committed to providing investment and trade information to enterprises from China and the Belt and Road countries and regions. Xinhua News Agency, China's official news outlet, provides quality news and reliable information products, Ariyaratne said after the launching ceremony. "The information provided by Xinhua Silk Road is very important to businesses in our country, especially the English version which helps overcome language troubles for us in accessing information about China," Ariyaratne told Xinhua. Ariyaratne applauds Xinhua's efforts to build such an information outlet and business connection mechanism to help Belt and Road investors access all-around trade and investment information about China. Ariyaratne is particularly interested in the trade matching platform and credit reporting service provided by Xinhua Silk Road, which she believes would help trade and investment grow between China and Sri Lanka. The South Asian country now mainly exports tea and gems to China and has received a growing number of Chinese tourists in recent years. With the launch of Xinhua Silk Road, Ariyaratne expects more Chinese enterprises to invest in Sri Lanka and to export industrial goods such as iron ore and steel to her country. ^ top ^

Canadian court to reconsider Chinese fugitive's refugee status (Global Times)
2015-07-17
A court in Canada Thursday has agreed to reconsider the refugee status of Michael Mo Yeung Ching, who is wanted by the Chinese government for alleged corruption. Experts believe the case does not indicate a setback of China's operations in repatriating international fugitives. A Federal Court judge in Winnipeg reviewed a 2014 decision of Canada's refugee protection department denying Ching's refugee status, saying the evidence was unclear. The problem lies in the quality of the evidence on which the Refugee Protection Division relied on, which was "fuzzy and third-hand," according to the court decision sent to the Global Times by David Matas, a lawyer representing Ching. It is likely that Ching will be given a new hearing at the Refugee Protection Division (of the Immigration and Refugee Board) for reconsideration of his claim [seeking refugee status], Andrew Baumberg, legal counsel of the Federal Court in Canada, told the Global Times in an email. Ching was included in a list of 100 most-wanted people released by the Chinese government as part of its "Sky Net" operation in April. He is being sought for alleged embezzlement. The operation comes on the heels of the 2014 Fox Hunt operation, which arrested 680 officials who fled overseas. Huang Feng, director of the Institute for International Criminal Law at Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times that Ching sought refugee status to keep his permanent residency in Canada to increase the difficulty of having him repatriated. Ching, 45, is the son of a former party chief in Hebei Province who was expelled from the Party in 2003 for corruption. Ching was accused of graft in the 1990s, but fled to Canada and started a business, and even obtained permanent residency in 1996, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Most fugitives suspected of corruption in countries like the US and Canada, which have no extradition treaties with China, were deported as illegal immigrants, said Zhuang Deshui, expert at Peking University. "But repatriation requires authorities to revoke Ching's permanent residency first," Huang said. "The difficulties involved in Ching's case are quite normal in repatriating fugitives, and we should seek other alternatives like freezing their assets or encouraging local Chinese people to report their misconduct to repatriate them," Zhuang said. Notorious smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing was repatriated to China in 2011, 12 years after fleeing to Canada, after China reportedly agreed not to sentence him to death. He was handed a life sentence for smuggling and bribery in 2012. Ching's status in Canada is more stable since he is a permanent resident but Lai was only visiting, according to Huang. Ching can still be extradited to China if both countries agree, though none of the fugitives have been extradited to China this way, Huang said. Canadian authorities require a careful review of evidence of non-political crimes for extradition, Huang said. China has signed extradition treaties with 39 countries, including France and Italy, and has signed mutual legal assistance agreements with 52 countries like the US, Canada and Australia as of 2014, according to the foreign ministry. ^ top ^

Thailand suspends buying submarines from China over US concern (Global Times)
2015-07-17
The relationship with the US is an important factor in Thailand's decision to hold back its plan to buy submarines from China, analysts said on Thursday. Thailand's navy had planned to purchase its first submarine from China, said Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan earlier this month. However, Prawit told reporters the previously approved $1.06 billion acquisition was on hold, for the navy needs to reconsider the role of the vessels and their cost, Reuters reported Wednesday. "We will wait for now and not introduce it to the cabinet for approval," Prawit said Thursday. Thailand, a staunch US ally, has been stepping toward a closer relationship with China amid China's increasing influence in the region with loans and aid for infrastructure, said Reuters. Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the relationship with the US is an important factor contributing to Thailand's decision, though "not necessarily the major one." "It's clear that the US definitely does not want to see any closer cooperation between China and Thailand, especially in terms of military and defense," said Li, adding that from the perspective of foreign relations, it is understandable and predictable that Thailand considers its relationship with the US as a very important diplomatic priority. The majority of Thailand's 17-strong submarine purchasing committee voted to buy submarines from China, saying it was the "best value for money," US news portal freerepublic.com reported on June 26. Lan Yun, deputy editor-in-chief of the Beijing-based Modern Ships magazine, said that the S-26T Submarine China pitched is the most cost-effective model among all the biddings. "Thailand's defense ministry might not have reached a consensus with its finance ministry on the issue of cost and Thailand is not in urgent need of a submarine," said Lan. With an Air-Independent Propulsion system, the 2,600-Ton submarine priced $355 million was obviously a better choice than the 900-Ton S-210 German submarine, costing around $340 million, added Lan. The purchasing committee of Thailand's defense ministry has given a budget of no more than $355 million for one submarine. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Two detained in China's crackdown on human rights lawyers placed under 'residential surveillance' (SCMP)
2015-07-14
Two people who were detained by police during the sweeping crackdown on human rights lawyers and advocates over the weekend have been placed under residential surveillance – a form of police detention that can last up to six months. The Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group said as of Monday afternoon, 114 people had been detained, summoned, questioned or were missing, but 92 had been released. Ge Ping, or Gou Hongguo, a Christian businessman, was on Saturday placed under residential surveillance at an unknown location, accused of “seeking quarrels and provoking trouble”, a police document circulated online showed. Lawyer Xie Yang, who was taken away on Saturday, was on Monday placed under residential surveillance on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”, Amnesty International says. People's Daily on Sunday said the crackdown on lawyers was coordinated by the Ministry of Public Security. It condemned rights lawyers for drawing a public outcry over the fatal shooting of a man called Xu Chunhe by a policeman in Qingan, Heilongjiang, in May. Xie represented Xu's mother and was at the time attacked by a gang of unidentified men. ^ top ^

Chinese police detain more than 100 lawyers and activists in weekend sweep (SCMP)
2015-07-14
More than 100 people were swept up in an unprecedented police crackdown on mainland human rights advocates on the weekend, with six – including four lawyers – criminally detained in what state media said was a nationwide operation to smash a “criminal gang”. In an article on Sunday headlined “Uncovering the dark story of 'rights defence'.”, spanning two-thirds of its second page, People's Daily said the Ministry of Public Security launched the operation to “smash a major criminal gang that had used the Beijing Fengrui law firm as a platform since July 2012 to draw attention to sensitive cases, seriously disturbing social order”. The article said the firm's director Zhou Shifeng, his assistant Liu Sixin, lawyers Wang Quanzhang, Huang Liqun, Wang Yu and her husband Bao Longjun were in criminal detention for “seriously violating the law”. It did not specify a charge. On the mainland, police can detain suspects for up to 37 days before prosecutors approve their formal arrests. It said “the criminal gang” comprised Zhou, Wang Yu, Wang Quanzhang, Huang as well as Liu, Bao and high-profile activist Wu Gan, who masterminded many plots in the name of “rights defence, justice and public interest”. It accused them of “colluding with petitioners to disturb social order and to reach their goals with ulterior motives”. Wu, an online activist nicknamed “Super Vulgar Butcher”, was formally arrested a week ago on charges of “inciting subversion” and “provoking trouble”. He also worked at Fengrui and Wang Yu was his defence lawyer. People's Daily said Wu was “a key player” in drawing a huge public outcry over the fatal shooting of an unarmed man, Xu Chunhe, by a policeman in Qingan, Heilongjiang, in May, offering 100,000 yuan (HK$126,000) for any footage showing the incident. Other rights lawyers were accused of involvement. “These lawyers publicly challenged the court … and mobilised troublemakers to rally petitioners … outside the court,” it said. “They are the direct pushers.” The six people criminally detained were among over 100 lawyers and rights advocates taken away, summoned or detained by police over the weekend. At least three law firms were also searched. Many of the detainees had signed a statement condemning Wang Yu's disappearance early on Thursday after her electricity was cut and her home broken into. Late Saturday, lawyer Sui Muqing was put under “residential surveillance at a designated location” – a form of police detention that can last up to six months – for alleged “incitement to subvert state power”, according to a police document. By 10pm Sunday, 106 people from 15 cities and provinces had been detained, summoned, questioned or were missing, said the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group. It said 82 had been released. But of those released, at least three were taken away for a second time, said a lawyer, who declined to be named. The family of lawyer Li Fangping said he returned home late Saturday after having been questioned by police in Jiangxi province for three hours but police took him away again early the next morning. He was released again late on Sunday. Lawyer Wang Cheng, who was released on Saturday after being questioned by police, had his home searched by police on Sunday, the same day that lawyer Li Jinxing was taken away for questioning, another released lawyer said. Teng Biao, visiting fellow at Harvard Law School, said the Qingan incident was only a pretext for action against rights lawyers and activists, who have long been seen as a thorn in the side of the authorities. He said the crackdown on the lawyers made a mockery of the authorities' claim to “rule the country by law”. Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said the action showed the Ministry of Public Security's interpretation of “disturbing public order” was ever-expanding. “That these lawyers are a 'major criminal gang' is a new and serious allegation, one that demonstrates the authorities' willingness to warp the law beyond all recognition,” she said. ^ top ^

'Terrorists chanting for jihad' shot dead by Chinese police (SCMP)
2015-07-14
Police in Shenyang, Liaoning province, have shot dead three suspected terrorists and arrested a fourth. The three men, from Xinjiang, were waving long knives and chanting jihadist slogans when police opened fire at a rental home in a downtown area on Monday, the police bureau said. The officers also arrested a 28-year-old woman, a Uygur from Xinjiang, who was injured in the shooting. Police said more than 200 armed officers had been sent to the rental home to subdue the four, who were suspected of involvement in a "terrorist case" on June 12. A police statement did not say what the case involved, but said that in the past month 16 people had been arrested in connection with it. Xinjiang authorities said in May they had broken up 181 terrorist groups over the past year. The development came as a senior police official said poor intelligence and porous borders with Southeast Asia were hindering China's efforts to stop the flow of ethnic minority Uygur Muslims heading to Turkey, where many go before joining up with Islamists in Iraq and Syria. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Uygurs keen to escape strife in their far western Chinese homeland of Xinjiang have travelled clandestinely via Southeast Asia to Turkey. Tong Bishan, a senior police officer who has been helping lead China's efforts to get the Uygurs back, said that the Uygurs were mostly crossing into Vietnam and Laos. Tong said he believed the numbers escaping had fallen a lot, but that it was impossible to stop them totally. "I've been to the front lines, to the border with Vietnam, it's mountains and rivers," he said. "In some places, the border is a little stream, two or three metres wide. Jump over and on the other side it's Vietnam. There's no fence or anything." Rights groups and exiles have disputed Beijing's account of why the Uygurs are leaving, saying the driving cause is a desire to escape discrimination and Beijing's controls on their culture and religion. The government denies there is a problem with its treatment of Uygurs, but hundreds of people have died in violence in Xinjiang in the last three years. Uygur militants have been blamed for attacks elsewhere in China. One Beijing-based diplomatic source said China had been successful at stopping Uygurs from crossing into Central Asia via Kyrgyzstan, after Kyrgyzstan increased security at Beijing's request. This had led to Uygurs trying to leave via Southeast Asia. Yet while security at transport hubs like train and bus stations in Xinjiang has been increased, Uygurs are Chinese citizens and have the right to travel anywhere in the country. Tong said Uygurs, who speak a Turkic language, were using that right to get to border areas. "You can't just stop them because they are from Xinjiang or are Uygur. "You can't tell from their faces if they are terrorists." His remarks underscore the intelligence challenge Beijing faces in Xinjiang, where government officials often do not speak Uygur and where many Uygurs are suspicious of the state. Mainland media have put the number fighting in the Middle East at about 300. But a source with ties to the Ministry of Public Security said it estimated 10,000 Uygurs had gone abroad in recent years. Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, said in a recent inspection trip to Xinjiang that the People's Liberation Army should contribute to social stability in the region, Xinhua reported. ^ top ^

Top Chinese judge being investigated for corruption has links to energy tycoon, mainland media claim (SCMP)
2015-07-14
The most senior judiciary official to be investigated for corruption since the start of the anti-graft campaign has close ties with a tycoon in the resource-rich Shanxi province, mainland media reported. Xi Xiaoming, 61, a vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, is being investigated by the nation's anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, on suspicion of “serious disciplinary violations and offences”. Mainland news portal Caixin reported yesterday that Xi, who has expertise in civil and commercial jurisdictions, and is leading a new group on China's civil code, is connected to a tycoon in Shanxi, which has been hit by a series of corruption scandals. It said that Xi had interfered in court proceedings on behalf of the province's former richest tycoon. “Xi Xiaoming well understood the civil and commercial laws and would take different techniques to flip cases to help others gain illicit benefits,” Caixin quoted a source as saying. One of the most controversial cases, according to Caixin, involved coal mine owner Zhang Xinming. In March 2004, Zhang had spent 18 million yuan (HK$23 million) to acquire a 60 per cent stake of the 53-sq-km Daning Jinhai coal mine, which was estimated to have more than 400 million tonnes of 8reserves. However, because Zhang couldn't afford to pay 224 million yuan for the mining rights till 2007 he started to borrow cash from, and sell equities to, two other companies. After a series of loans and equity transfers, by the end of 2007, Shanxi Qinhe Energy had replaced Zhang as the owner of the mine with 62 per cent of the equities. By this time, the value of the mine had rocketed to over ten billion yuan and Zhang wanted the equities back, but Qinhe refused. In March 2010, Zhang sued the company, asking the court to void the earlier contracts, saying the acquisition cost paid by Qinhe was too low. The court ruled in Zhang's favour. Qinhe then appealed to the Supreme People's Court, which also ruled in Zhang's favour. Caixin cited an anonymous source saying that although Xi wasn't the judge of the case, he arranged to have his law school classmate act as Zhang's lawyer and helped in other ways, too. The South China Morning Post reported last August that Zhang had been detained over a controversial coal deal with China Resources Power. Caixin said Xi was taken away by investigators before July 11. ^ top ^

China's carbon growth rate in decline (China Daily)
2015-07-14
Despite the continued increase in global carbon emissions in China, the growth rate of carbon emissions has been "in a steady decrease" since 2005, and was near zero in 2014, according to a new climate report released Monday. The report, commissioned by Britain's Foreign Office, was written by experts from Britain, China, the U. S. and India. It gives a detailed assessment of the progress made in reducing carbon emissions, and various threats posed by global warming. Several factors have played key roles in bringing down the carbon growth rate in China, including better energy efficiency in major sectors, development of renewable energy, and concern for air pollution, the report said. By the end of 2014, China's energy intensity had decreased by about 30 percent from the 2005 level, and "the national average efficiency of all power plants is now rising to among the best in the world," according to the report. Meanwhile, China is now leading the world in investing in renewable energy, contributing a quarter of the world total, the report also said. Taking solar power as an example, experts predicted that China is likely to overtake Germany to become the largest developer of solar power in the world by the end of 2015. Another noticeable factor is that China's concern for air pollution has helped to "set a cap for coal consumption in key regions, which will eventually extend to the whole country," according to the report. The Chinese government is fully aware of the challenges, and is very keen to have a detailed analysis of the impact of climate change, said Prof. David King, the leading author of the report and Britain's climate change envoy. China has recently announced its plans to cut carbon dioxide emission per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 percent from the 2005 level by 2030. Last year, China signed a bilateral agreement on climate change and clean energy cooperation with the U. S., promising to achieve the peaking of carbon emissions around 2030, make best efforts to peak early, and increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030. If these goals are achieved, it opens the possibility that economies of scale will bring down the cost of non-fossil technologies, enabling them to become more widely used in the rest of the developing world, the report said. ^ top ^

Beijing announces plans for 1,000 km rail network linking capital with Tianjin and Hebei (SCMP)
2105-07-15
A 1,000km suburban railway network will be built around Beijing to link the capital with neighbouring Tianjin and Hebei province, the city's transport authority said late Monday. The plan is part of an infrastructure overhaul to encourage the integration of the three regions and help to relieve the overpopulated and congested capital of non-core functions. Beijing's population had reached 21.5 million at the end of last year, including 8.18 million migrants, official figures show. The proposed rail network for the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin area comprises four layers: arterial lines, intercity and suburban links and urban subways. Suburban links will serve commuters travelling up to 70km. The first route in the network will be the 72km Pinggu Line, linking central Beijing to the suburb of Pinggu, through Hebei's Yanjiao township. The arterial rail lines will connect areas that are more than 150km apart, while the intercity lines will link major cities that are between 70km and 150km apart. Up to 27km of new subway lines will be built in Beijing this year to extend the network to 554km. The subway's average speed will be between 60km/h and 70km/h, while suburban trains will reach a top speed of 160km/h because of the longer distances between stations. "This means the travelling speed [of suburban rail services] will dramatically increase," said Zhou Zhengyu, director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport. "The trains will be expected to finish the whole journey in 40 to 50 minutes." Zhou said the 1,000km subway network and the 1,000km suburban rail links would together form the main part of Beijing's future rail network. Xinhua reported that the suburban rail network was expected to make it easier for residents to commute between the capital and neighbouring cities - the first step by the authorities to channel more people out of Beijing to ease traffic and pollution problems. Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Intercity Railway Investment, which is in charge of building the intercity rail projects, was set up last year by the local governments of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei and China Railway Corp. Beijing's municipal government said on the weekend that it would be moving some of its administrative offices to suburban Tongzhou district in the city's east and would limit the capital's population to 23 million. The transport overhaul would also include linking existing highways and allowing commuters to use a single travel pass on all public transport across Beijing, Tianjin and four cities in Hebei province, Xinhua said. ^ top ^

Raid in Shenyang 'points to terrorists spreading across China' (SCMP)
2015-07-15
The raid on suspected terrorists in northeastern Liaoning province on Monday indicated that Muslim extremists motivated by jihad were spreading across the mainland, a security expert said. According to a statement posted on the provincial government's Weibo account on Monday night, police in Shenyang shot dead three suspected terrorists from Xinjiang and arrested another, when searching for suspects related to what the authorities are calling the "June 12 Hijra case".details of the Hijra case were provided. Hijra refers to the journey of the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina to escape persecution. Li Wei, director of the counterterrorism research centre at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said extremists had co-opted the word to justify their violence. "The case in Shenyang suggests that the Hijra movement might have spread across the country," Li said, adding that in the past suspected terrorists usually went to the southern part of the country. Exiled Uygurs and human rights groups said China's repressive policies on culture and religion in Xinjiang were to blame for the illegal migration. But Beijing said many Uygurs had fled to join terrorist groups abroad. The provincial government's Weibo account and official media outlets deleted the statement yesterday. State media carried only a brief report saying Shenyang police shot dead three suspected terrorists and had captured a fourth. The public security bureau declined to comment on the statement. Beijing officials earlier said Uygurs were fleeing the mainland to Southeast Asia, before heading to Turkey and joining up with Islamists in Iraq and Syria. Thailand recently deported more than 100 Uygurs to China. According to a police document leaked earlier this year, the coastal province of Guangdong had overtaken the mountainous and tightly guarded Yunnan and Guangxi provinces as the preferred route for Uygurs to leave the county. Li said northern China, including Henan and Liaoning provinces, had also become an "interchange station" for militants seeking to join "terrorist groups abroad", including Islamic State and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. "If they fail [to flee the mainland], they might carry out jihad, or terrorist attacks, in the region where they become stuck, just like those who hacked passengers at the Kunming train station in March 2014," Li said. This migration was part of a global trend that had seen religious extremists from around the world join groups like Islamic State, he said. ^ top ^

Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei to coordinate law making (Xinhua)
2015-07-15
Legislatures in Beijing and Tianjin municipalities and Hebei Province have agreed to share opinions with each other when making laws in an attempt to stamp out local protectionism and hasten the full coordination regional development. The three legislatures recently agreed to improve coordination of the legislative process in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, according to the Standing Committee of Hebei Provincial People's Congress on Tuesday. The deal means the three will share information when making new laws, cooperate with each other on legislative theory, and exchange work experience. Transportation, environmental protection and industrial restructuring will be priority areas where coordination in the law making process will be needed, said Feng Zhiguang of the Hebei provincial legislature. Zhou Ying, another lawmaker of Hebei, said the improvements will help ensure consistency of local legislation throughout the region. A guideline on coordinated development for Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei was approved by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in April. ^ top ^

Tibetans protest outside prison to demand China's release of prominent monk's body (SCMP)
2015-07-16
Dozens of Tibetans shouting "return the body" protested outside a Chinese prison on Wednesday after a prominent Tibetan monk died in jail, reflecting anger among his supporters and family, who believe he was murdered. The death on Sunday of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, 65, in Sichuan province's Chuandong prison also caused concern overseas as he was one of the mainland's most prominent political prisoners, with the United States calling for an investigation. On Wednesday, up to 60 Tibetans journeyed from Garze, a heavily Tibetan part of Sichuan, to the other side of the province from where he was jailed on charges of "crimes of terror and incitement of separatism". They rallied outside the prison where he died, a protester said. Photographs showed dozens of police officers watching the protesters. Police and local officials could not be reached for comment. Prison officials said they would not return the monk's body, said his sister, Dolkar. His cousin, Geshe Nyima, also confirmed the protests over the release of his body. "If the body isn't returned to us, then that tells us they have murdered him," Dolkar said. Authorities have not disclosed the cause of death, relatives have said, prompting suspicion over the circumstances of his passing. Authorities said they would cremate Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's body on Wednesday afternoon, another protester said. Yet another protester said on Wednesday evening that officials had told them the body had not yet been cremated. "If they don't return the body to us, we'll just stay and sleep here," the protester said. A prison official said she "was not clear" and hung up the phone when asked if the government was returning his body. The calls to release his body stem from the distrust that Tibetans have for the central government, said prominent Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser. ^ top ^

Sex selfie video in Beijing Uniqlo store goes viral (Global Times)
2015-07-16
Beijing police said Wednesday they are investigating a video posted online showing two people having sex in a fitting room at a Uniqlo store. The video that shows a young couple having sex in the fitting room of a Uniqlo store in Beijing's bustling Sanlitun district was leaked on Tuesday night and spread quickly on Chinese social media. In the video, the man, wearing glasses, a black T-shirt and jeans, is heard telling the naked woman to kiss him while using his iPhone to record the incident in front of the fitting room's mirror. Other statements like “call me husband” and “we will be together” could also be heard on the video. As the video ends, a female voice could be heard saying, “Dear customers, welcome to the Uniqlo store at Sanlitun.” It is unclear who leaked the video, which has since been deleted online. An online search showed that the woman is allegedly a student at the Commerce School of Beijing Union University, and the couple's phone numbers and WeChat accounts, a popular social networking application, were also found on the Internet. The Global Times dialed the numbers but failed to get an answer, while the university refused to comment on the incident. The video quickly made the Japanese clothing brand a hot topic with millions of people discussing it on the Internet. Some Net users said the video might have been part of company publicity stunt. Uniqlo has denied that allegation and said that the company is looking closer into the incident. “Uniqlo is committed to providing comfortable and high quality service to customers and hopes they would uphold social ethics, safeguard social justice and use the fitting room in a proper way,” read a statement released on Weibo. The Beijing News reported many people flocked to the Uniqlo store Wednesday to take photos. Meantime, the company's share price rose by 5 percent on Wednesday morning on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, finance.sina.com reported. A sina.com survey shows that 40.8 percent of 12,837 respondents say it's a publicity stunt, while 51.1 percent said they will not spread the video. However, the Global Times saw Netizens allegedly selling copies of the video online, and the online shopping platform taobao.com was seen selling clothes similar to those worn by the woman in the video. “If the video was uploaded by someone other than the couple, he or she would be violating people's privacy and spreading pornographic material,” Wang Sixin, a law professor at the Communication University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times. If it was a company publicity stunt, the company should also be held liable, said Wang, adding that websites should also delete pornographic material as soon as possible. China's Criminal Law states that people who produce, copy, publish, sell or spread pornographic material for commercial purposes could face up to 10 years in jail. ^ top ^

14 arrested over online gun sales (Global Times)
2015-07-16
Police in north China's Hebei Province have arrested 14 people for illegally selling guns and ammunition on the Internet, they announced on Wednesday. Officers from the public security bureau of Hengshui City seized 1,142 guns, more than 400,000 bullets and a large quantity of accessories in busting the ring earlier this month, according to a spokesman with the bureau. In March, police noticed an online advertisement posted by the dealers in which the word "gun" was replaced by "dog", argot often used in the online gun sales business. In the following two months, the police found that the dealers sold the goods, which they purchased from Beijing and Henan Province, to 13 clients in different parts of the country. During the period, they struck nearly 10 deals a day. An investigation found that the ring peddled the guns and ammunition to more than 20 provinces and cities, raking in more than one million yuan (about 163,500 US dollars). ^ top ^

China sees record summer grain output (Global Times)
2015-07-16
China's summer grain output increased for a 12th consecutive year in 2015 thanks to intensified government support for agriculture and favorable weather, according to new official figures. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement on its website on Wednesday that summer grain production reached a record 141.07 million tonnes this year, up 3.3 percent, or 4.47 million tonnes, from that of 2014. "The bumper harvest came after the central government has continued to intensify their support for grain production and fully capitalize on science and technology," said NBS senior statistician Hou Rui. The total area for growing summer crops stood at 27.69 million hectares this year, up 0.4 percent from the previous year and adding 548,000 tonnes to the yield, the bureau said. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, grain production in China has increased by 1.04 tonnes per hectare in the past decade. The country has used 9 percent of the world's arable land and 6.5 percent of its fresh water resources to produce a quarter of the world's grain and feed nearly one-fifth of the world's population. ^ top ^

Wan Li, ex-head of NPC, dies at 99 (China Daily)
2015-07-16
Wan Li, a former top legislator, champion of China's agricultural reforms and driving force behind improvements to the country's legal system, died on Wednesday at age 99. Born into a farmer's family in Shandong province in 1916, Wan joined the Communist Party of China before he turned 20 and eventually became chairman of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature. He served in that position from 1988 to 1993. Among his many contributions to the Party and the country were his efforts to build up the nation's railways, dissolve agricultural communes in the late 1970s and later oversee sweeping reforms that transformed the way farms were run. After being appointed Party chief of Anhui province in 1977, Wan became concerned about the destructive agricultural policy that drove farmers into poverty, and decided to give them more opportunity to use their initiative. He instituted a contract responsibility system under which the land in every village of the province was divided and contracted to households, and farmers were allowed to sell their surplus production. "The policy yielded benefits immediately," said Tian Jiyun, former vice-chairman of the NPC's Standing Committee. "The agricultural output increased in 1979 despite the drought that Anhui province suffered that year." With support from Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China's reform and opening-up, the system was introduced across the country in 1980 and remains the mode of production in rural areas to this day. As the head of the legislature, Wan worked ceaselessly to formulate laws, most of which supported the development of the economy and facilitated reform and opening-up initiatives. A total of 86 laws and regulations were enacted during his tenure, including the tax law covering foreign investment and companies, the Patent Law and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. A fine tennis player who was known for his affable personality, Wan is also remembered for his acute sense of fairness. His son Wan Zhongxiang said his father never used his powers to benefit his family. Tian Jiyun recalled a discussion in 1992 when Wan said he asked for nothing after retirement other than to see peace in the country and the happiness of its people. "He never gave personal consideration to himself and his family, and his courage to shoulder responsibility greatly impressed me," Tian said. ^ top ^

Chinese cult leader faces criminal prosecution (China Daily)
2015-07-16
Wu Zeheng, founder and leader of the cult "Huazang Zongmen", is facing criminal prosecution along with several other suspected cult members, following year-long investigations by police in south China's Guangdong Province, it was announced late on Wednesday. Local procuratorate of the coastal city of Zhuhai in Guangdong has instituted the prosecution for organizing and using cult to sabotage law enforcement, alleged rape, fraud, and production and sale of harmful food. Wu, born in 1967, got his first police record for sexual assault at an early age and was later put in detention in 1991 for fraud and rascality. In 2000, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for illegal fund-raising and unlawful business operations. Upon release from prison in 2010, Wu began to propagate the pseudo religion "Huazang Zongmen" as a lofty sect of Buddhism and claimed to be the successor of several eminent monks. Glorified with fabricated educational background and life experience, Wu eventually became a master with supernatural power in the eyes of his followers. Among many glamorous titles, Wu claimed he held a PhD of Cambridge University. But investigations at his hometown in Guangdong's Huilai County revealed that he dropped out from a local junior high school. In the name of charity and life science and through inflammatory preaching, Wu lured a growing number of believers who wished to study Buddhism, seek disease treatment, or ward off ill fortune by joining the cult, according to the police involved in the investigation. "When we arrested Wu in his locked bedroom last July, he was with a young woman in pajamas," said a police officer, who also seized philters, luxurious liquors, cigarettes, watches, jewelries and cash in his 200-square-meter apartment in Zhuhai. Several female followers believed "practicing" with Wu in bed could help themselves "gain supernatural power," an excuse Wu used to seduce or coerce dozens of women, including two pairs of sisters and several minors, to have sex with him. A follower surnamed Wang said she had been raped frequently. She got pregnant three times and was forced to have abortions. Some of the raped followers became barren. Police said Wu had six children born in wedlock and at least another six born out of wedlock. ^ top ^

What China's crackdown on lawyers says about authorities' fear of burgeoning rights defence movement (SCMP)
2015-07-17
It was going to be just another day. Wang Yu, a 44-year-old human rights lawyer, saw off her husband and teenage son at the airport on Wednesday last week, where they were due to fly to Australia to put their son into school. But after she got home, things started going horribly wrong. At around 3am, the electricity and internet connection was suddenly cut off. Then she heard someone picking at her front-door lock. She heard people murmuring outside, so she looked through the peephole, but couldn't see anyone in the darkness, according to a message she sent to a friend. Shortly after 4am she sent another message, saying someone was forcing her front door open. That was her last message before she disappeared. Her friend tried to call her back later, but there was no answer. No one has been able to contact Wang or her husband since then. Friends who had her house keys tried to get into her home last Friday, only to find the locks had been changed. They could not find any record of her husband and son's departure from the airport. A security guard at her housing compound told them he saw someone being taken away by dozens of policemen in the early hours of last Thursday. The incident was only the start of an unprecedented crackdown on mainland human rights lawyers over the past week, which so far has seen about 215 lawyers and rights advocates taken away, summoned or detained by police, according to figures compiled by China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group. The offices of at least three law firms have been searched. Although most have since been released, at least 14 people are feared still detained by police. And another 11 have been placed under criminal detention or "residential surveillance" either on unspecified charges, or "incitement to subvert state power" and "seeking quarrels and provoking trouble". Veteran China watchers say the police action is the worst since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. They also say it shows the mainland authorities' fear of the fast-growing civil society and their wariness over the crucial role played by an expanding community of rights lawyers in the grass-roots "rights defence" movement. Analysts say that these rights lawyers - whose number has grown at least tenfold to 200-300 from a decade ago - have long been seen as a thorn in the side of the authorities for using litigation and advocacy to help members of the public assert their rights and seek justice under the Communist Party-controlled legal system. But while the crackdown was nationwide, it appeared to have a specific target: the partners and lawyers at one Beijing law firm - Beijing Fengrui, where Wang works. Fengrui has a reputation for handling prominent rights cases, including artist Ai Weiwei's 81-day detention in 2011. It describes itself on its website as "full of passion in our pursuit of liberty, equality and democracy". The day after Wang disappeared, several lawyers and staff at the firm, including Zhou Shifeng, the director of Fengrui, his assistant Liu Sixin, and lawyers Li Zhuyun, Wang Quanzhang and Huang Liqun were also either taken away or disappeared. Several other people at the firm had also been taken away. On Sunday, party mouthpiece People's Daily went so far as to depict Wang Yu and her husband, Bao Longjun, Zhou, Liu, Huang, who were the first to be taken away in the crackdown, as "a major criminal gang" that "seriously disturbed social order". It said they had been placed in criminal detention for "seriously violating the law", but did not name a charge. Analysts say the crackdown is an effort by the authorities to discredit the rights defence movement and sully the reputation of the lawyers and its advocates. They also say it is also meant as a warning to other lawyers not to take on rights cases. Eva Pils, a China legal expert at King's College, University of London, said that in recent years, mainland rights lawyers had formed themselves into a community, often coordinating their actions to support colleagues assaulted while working on rights abuse cases. "Since so many lawyers started openly identifying with human rights causes and coordinating their advocacy campaigns, they are one of the closest things China has to a political opposition," she said. This was the case with the fatal shooting in Qingan, in Heilongjiang province in May of an unarmed man. Xu Chunhe was shot dead by a policeman at a train station in front of his mother and children, leading to a public outcry over concerns the policeman used excessive force. People's Daily said the public outrage over the Qingan case was the result of lawyers "masterminding plots" and "colluding" with activists and petitioners to create public disorder "in the name of 'rights defence, justice and the public interest'". After the shooting, lawyer Xie Yang, who represented Xu's mother, was attacked by a gang of unidentified men. Several lawyers also travelled to Qingan but were detained. Their detentions triggered public outrage and hundreds of fellow lawyers issued a joint statement condemning police abuse. This pattern of support has been repeated over many incidents - and lawyers say the authorities now want to put a stop to this. "What rattles [the authorities] is that civic-minded lawyers have the capacity to get together in such large numbers to protest [against] what they see as illegal behaviour on the part of the state," Pils said. "They want to break this model of coordinated, vocal defence of human rights lawyers' right to defend rights." The People's Daily coverage on Sunday labelled the lawyers as the "black hands", or masterminds, behind rights defence activities, accusing them of "confronting the court" and getting "troublemakers" to rally around sensitive cases they wanted to publicise. It also accused Wu Gan, a flamboyant campaigner better known by his nickname "Super Vulgar Butcher", of plotting with rights lawyers to draw public attention to more than 40 "sensitive cases", including the Qingan shooting. Wu, who also worked at Fengrui, was charged this month with "inciting subversion" and "provoking trouble". As in many past cases where lawyers were attacked or detained, Wang Yu's disappearance prompted her colleagues to immediately express their solidarity. More than 110 lawyers issued a joint statement last Friday to condemn her detention and voice support for her. By late last Friday and early Saturday, many of those who signed the statement were detained one after another across the country. Those released said they had been warned against voicing support for Wang Yu and Fengrui staff. On the mainland, because the laws meant to protect citizens' rights are often flouted by government departments and officials, and outcomes in the party-controlled courts are often predetermined, lawyers and human rights advocates often have to resort to social media campaigns and protests to promote their cases and raise public awareness about the victims' ordeal. "[They] have to ensure that laws and regulations are actually adhered to: not just to give their clients justice and to hold the government accountable, but they have also used creative advocacy tools to enhance the social impact of their cases." said William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International. Teng Biao, a fellow at Harvard Law School, said the authorities were nervous about the large numbers of rights lawyers, who used the law to challenge the government and officials' abuse of power. "They fear the lawyers will unite into a force to pose a challenge to the current political system," he said. Teng said that after the national security law was passed this month, law enforcers and security departments now also had more justification to suppress activities perceived to be a threat to national security. The sweeping action against lawyers came amid a tightening of ideology overseen by the administration of President Xi Jinping, said political commentator Ching Cheong. Ching, a China watcher for nearly 40 years, said the unprecedented crackdown on rights lawyers was in line with Xi's conservative ideology, which regards human rights advocates and government critics as a threat to the regime. He said the rhetorical foundation of the crackdown could be traced to a 2012 article in People's Daily, which cautioned that the United States would use five categories of people - rights lawyers, underground religious followers, dissidents, opinion leaders on the internet and the underprivileged - to "infiltrate" Chinese society to push for a regime change. Nee said the central government was pushing an "irreconcilable set of goals", by wanting to promote the rule of law, but at the same time suppressing lawyers who held officials accountable. "With this crackdown, the government is trying to send a clear signal to the rights lawyers: no taking on 'sensitive' cases, no social media advocacy, and no street protests," Nee said. "With strikes and other social protests growing in scale, and with the possibility of decreased economic growth... there's no doubt that 'maintaining social stability' will be the government's top priority." Poignantly, just days before her own detention, Wang Yu spoke against the incrimination of citizens for expressing their opinions. As Wu Gan's former lawyer, she argued he should have the freedom to criticise the government. "As citizens, people should be able to question the government without being accused of 'inciting subversion'," she said. "This is political persecution." ^ top ^

China aims to get hybrid fission-fusion nuclear reactor up and running by 2030 (SCMP)
2015-07-17
China will build a hybrid reactor to achieve nuclear fusion and fission in one place by 2030, according to the Science and Technology Daily, a newspaper run by the official Ministry of Science and Technology. The report said the project was being developed at a top secret military research facility after conceptual design was recently completed at the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics in Sichuan, where China's nuclear weapons are developed. China is not the only nation engaging in fusion-fission hybrids. The idea to combine nuclear fusion and fission in one reactor had been around for at least half a century. Relevant research has been carried out in Russia, European countries, the United States and Japan. Fission, which occurs in all commercial reactors nowadays, splits an atom in half, while fusion merges two atoms in one. Both processes can release enormous amounts of energy, following Einstein's famous mass to energy equivalence, or E=MC2. But neither method is perfect. Fission can generate large amounts of radioactive waste, while fusion requires a tremendous amount of energy to get going and control. The Chinese hybrid reactor is not much different from mainstream designs proposed by scientists elsewhere, according to the latest report. At the core is a fusion reactor which is powered by electric currents as strong as 60 trillion amps. The reactor will be blanketed by a fission shell stuffed with nuclear fuel uranium-238. Such a design has numerous advantages. The high-speed neutrons generated by fusion could split apart the u-238 atoms to generate fission, and the fission could generate lots of energy to help maintain the fusion, thus significantly reducing the amount of external energy input, and achieve the complete burning of nuclear fuel to avoid radioactive waste. Professor Wang Hongwen, deputy director of the hybrid reactor project, said that the key components will be built and tested around 2020, with an experimental reactor due to be finished by 2030. The team said the proposed hybrid reactor could generate three times the power of a current fission reactor, while being safer as both fusion and fission reactions could be stopped immediately by cutting off external power, so disasters are less likely. Some scientists warned that the timeline may be too ambitious however. “A viable fusion reactor is nowhere in sight, not to mention a hybrid,” said a physicist with Tsinghua University, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue. “It's like talking about hybrid cars before the internal combustion engine was even invented. We will be lucky to have the first fusion reactor in 50 years. I don't think a hybrid can be built way before that.” Others are more optimistic about the technology. Professor Evgeny Velikhov, the "godfather" of modern fusion reactor design, has long been an advocate of the hybrid approach. A hybrid reactor could be easier to build partly because it requires only a fifth of the external energy input of a “pure fusion” reactor to maintain operation, he said in 2012 during a visit to the International Thermonuclear Experiment Reactor project in France. ^ top ^

Chinese censor pushes liberal magazine to brink of closure, says former chief editor (SCMP)
2015-07-17
The former chief editor of the mainland's most liberal political magazine has lashed out at the country's top censor, accusing it of forcing the publication to the brink of closure. Yang Jisheng, who was ordered to leave Yanhuang Chunqiu by his former work unit Xinhua at the start of this month, said in a letter to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television dated June 30 – his last day at work – that the draconian censorship rules imposed by the administration on the publication “have forced it into a corner”. Yang confirmed on Thursday that he had written the letter, but said he had not made it public. He declined to comment further. Yanhuang Chunqiu, known for its first-hand accounts that contest official versions of Communist Party history, has for years been under pressure to soften its editorial stance. But it managed to maintain a relatively liberal line because of the support of dozens of retired party elders, mostly in their 80s and 90s, who joined the party in their youth for its then democratic aspirations. It has faced closer scrutiny then ever amid a tightening of ideology in recent years, although liberal party elder Xi Zhongxun, the father of President Xi Jinping, endorsed the magazine. Yang's letter said administration's demands that articles related to 15 topics must be submitted and approved before publication made it impossible for Yanhuang Chunqiu and similar journals to function. The topics include “important documents regarding the party and the state”, “the publications, lives and work of past and present party and state leaders”, “party and state secrets”, “ethnicity and religions”, “military defence and historical warfare”, the Cultural Revolution and “important historical events and historical figures in Communist Party history”. He wrote: “These topics are not clearly defined – they are unworkable.” The administration issued a warning in April over 37 Yanhuang Chunqiu articles that supposedly breached its rules because they had not been submitted for prepublication approval, but Yang said some were articles previously published in books or newspapers. Yang argued that the magazine had already censored itself for a decade, pledging to the authorities it would not to touch upon eight “sensitive” areas: multiparty democracy, separation of powers, stories on party leaders and their families, Tibet and Xinjiang pro-independence rhetoric, the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown and religious issues. “Please leave the popular Yanhuang Chunqiu a little bit of space to survive,” he said at the end of his letter. In another letter to the magazine's editorial board and readers, Yang wrote: “Times are changing. Maybe one day, under our opponents' pressure, Yanhuang Chunqiu may have no choice but to perish. Yet publisher Du Daozheng, 91, who has taken on Yang's role since his departure, vowed the magazine would keep going. “We will be more understanding of our country's difficulties... and be more careful. But our stance and mission will stay unchanged,” Du said. He said the magazine would continue to embrace the reform and opening-up principles of a party plenum in 1978, supporting economic and political reform. “If we have to change, then please close our magazine,” Du said. Calls to the administration went unanswered on Thursday. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

HK 'Occupy Central' leaders to stand trial (China Daily)
2015-07-17
Two Hong Kong students who initiated the "Occupy Central" last year will stand trial on Friday for allegedly obstructing a police officer from performing his duties. Joshua Wong Chi-fung, the leader of Scholarism, and Nathan Law Kwun-chung, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, were arrested Tuesday and were accused of obstructing police officers during a demonstration in June 2014. The two may face imprisonment up to two years if found guilty, according to Hong Kong laws. During the event, Wong and Law protested outside the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government and burned a copy of the white paper on the practice of the "one country, two systems" policy. Wong, 18, said after being released on bail that he was surprised the prosecutors filed the lawsuit against him a year after the event took place and suspected that the government action was politically motivated. But he admitted the video footage showed he had physical contact with a police officer. The "Occupy Central" protest in Hong Kong started on Sept 28, 2014 and lasted for about 80 days. Protesters blockaded several main roads and streets, which has resulted in serious traffic disruption, fewer tourists, temporary closure of schools and banks and a slump in local stock market trading. There had also been a series of clashes between protesters and police during the protest. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Yu Zhengsheng stresses Taiwan's Anti-Japan war contribution (Global Times)
2015-07-13
Top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng stressed that victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression was achieved by the whole Chinese nation as he met with a delegation of Taiwanese ethnic groups on Monday. As China holds activities marking the anniversary of the conflict's beginning, Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said all those who fell while fighting for national sovereignty and territorial integrity should be remembered. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, and also the 70th anniversary of the end of Japan's occupation of the island of Taiwan. Yu praised Taiwan's ethnic minority groups for their efforts in opposing Taiwan independence and promoting peaceful development of cross-Strait ties. He called on people from both sides to cherish and maintain the achievements of cross-Strait relations, stick to the "1992 Consensus", and oppose the political basis of Taiwan independence in order to realize common development and prosperity. ^ top ^

 

Economy
Rise of 'entrepreneur worship' in China encourages more people to set up shop (SCMP)
2015-07-14
In Shanghai Book City, the largest bookstore in town, Stephen Ding stands in front of a shelf in the “business management” section, carefully comparing a handful of books. In his hands are books about China's richest man and Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin, Alibaba founder Ma Yun, property tycoon Feng Lun, and Hong Kong multibillionaire Li Ka-shing. Eventually, he decides on Wanda Philosophy, written by Wang about himself and his property conglomerate. “I'm interested in these four entrepreneurs,” Ding, a Shanghai-based salesman, says. “But Wanda Philosophy is written by Wang, while the others aren't written by the entrepreneurs themselves. So I think Wang's book can give me some real insight into his thoughts. “I'll analyse his experiences and ideas, and will borrow those parts that are suitable for me.” A few steps from Ding is Yan Bin, seated on the ground, deeply engrossed as he studies a book on the internal management of Chinese computer giant Lenovo. Having owned a small IT equipment store that closed down a few years ago, Yan said he wanted to get some tips on how to control business costs. “The entrepreneur I admire the most is [online game developer Giant Interactive chairman] Shi Yuzhu because he would never be defeated by career setbacks,” Yan said. “He was once among China's richest men only to have his business empire collapse suddenly. But he stood up from where he fell down and moved on. Later, he built another great company.” Ding's and Yan's views reflect the Chinese society's growing tendency towards “entrepreneur worship”. Interest in successful entrepreneurs has risen over the past few years as China's private companies grew in influence and state leaders encouraged young people to set up their own businesses. But entrepreneurs have not always been looked up to in China. In fact, Chinese people used to look down on them. There is even a proverb that says every businessman is crafty and every crafty person should become a businessman. As a result of a policy of promoting agriculture and restraining commerce adopted by China's feudal dynasties, for a long time in the country's history, business people were at the lowest level on the social hierarchy, below intellectuals, government officials and farmers. After the country opened up and undertook reforms, people were gradually allowed to do business – but the job was usually taken up only by those who could not find other work. At the time, people thought of entrepreneurs as being “pot-bellied” and having “a mouth full of gold teeth”, according to a survey by Horizon Research Consultancy Group. But this impression has since changed drastically – and for the better, the group says. About 40 per cent of those Horizon polled in April believed entrepreneurs possessed leadership skills. Some 37 per cent said such people had “vision” and 36 per cent felt they were “hardworking”. Chen Lijun, general manager of the book business unit of China's largest online book distributor Dangdang.com, said the company's sales of entrepreneur-themed books surged 50 per cent last year compared with the year before. For the first half of this year, 20 per cent more of such books were sold compared with the same period last year. Chen said books about Japanese business guru Inamori Kazuo topped the list of entrepreneur-themed books sold, with an accumulated one million copies sold through the website. Other business gurus whose books sold well included Google China founder Lee Kai-fu and property tycoons Feng Lun and Wang Shi. “The sales of entrepreneur-themed books still can't compete with books of other types such as literature books … But I would say the sales of such books have jumped quickly over these two years,” Chen said. Entrepreneurs have become not so different from pop stars, it would seem, with frenzied fans taking to the internet to keep track of their business idols. Among Chinese entrepreneurs, property tycoon Wang Shi, chairman of residential real estate giant China Vanke, has the most followers – 20 million – on his Sina microblog. Alibaba's Ma Yun has 19.4 million followers while Pan Shiyi, chairman of property developer Soho China has 17.2 million and Yu Minhong, founder of education service provider New Oriental Education has 14.2 million. Xu Zijian, a Shanghai-based angel investor and co-founder of the Bund CEO Group, believes that the rise of “entrepreneur worship” in China is partly because of the high-profile of many company bosses these days. Entrepreneurs in the past used to shun the spotlight, he said. “In the current era, many entrepreneurs are comfortable having a high profile and some are quite outspoken,” Xu said. “I think it's because they are well educated, well exposed and are confident about the clean way in which they have gained their wealth. These aspects were all very different for our first-generation entrepreneurs back in the 1980s or 1990s.” The increase in respect and admiration towards businessmen would encourage more people to venture out to set up their own businesses, Xu said. “The successful entrepreneurs can be good examples for young people,” he said. Shanghai University sociologist Gu Jun said it was better for people to follow in the footsteps of entrepreneurs than to fear change and hang on to “iron rice bowl” jobs. ^ top ^

China's trade figures beat forecasts, but imports dip again amid slowing economy (SCMP)
2015-07-14
China's exports picked up unexpectedly in June but imports tumbled again, reinforcing expectations that the government may further loosen policy to lift the Chinese economy after a recent stock market rout. However, imports slid much less than analysts had forecast, leading some to see a silver lining in the latest data. China's June exports exceeded analyst expectations, rising 2.8 per cent from a year earlier, while imports fell by 6.1 per cent. That left the country with a trade surplus of US$46.54 billion for the month, the General Administration of Customs said on Monday. Analysts had expected exports to fall by 0.2 per cent and predicted imports would fall by 15 per cent. China Customs said that the crisis in Greece was having “a certain effect” on trade, but also blamed weak external demand in general, rising labour costs and a stronger yuan for the weakness in exports. It said enduring industrial overcapacity continued to dampen import demand. Persistent weakness in Chinese imports, which have fallen eight straight months, suggests that domestic consumption remained tepid even though the central bank has repeatedly loosened monetary policy in the past seven months to stoke activity. “There was quite a recovery in import growth and it looks like there's more going on than FX rate differences,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in Singapore. “It suggests there was an improvement in domestic demand probably due to previous policy easing.” A survey of factories earlier this month showed that China's manufacturing sector grew slightly in June, although not as much as expected. To boost the economy, China's central bank cut lending rates on June 27 for the fourth time since November and trimmed the amount of cash that some banks must hold as reserves, stepping up efforts to support an economy that is headed for its poorest performance in a quarter century. But a tumble in Chinese shares in recent weeks that knocked nearly one-third of the value off key benchmark stock indices has rattled confidence and raised worries about potential knock-on effects on the Chinese economy. The government is due to release second-quarter gross domestic product data on Wednesday and many economists expect annual growth to have dipped below 7 per cent, the weakest performance since the global financial crisis. ^ top ^

Slower economic growth on cards but Premier Li Keqiang's plan still in play (SCMP)
2015-07-15
China's first-half growth figures are likely to be lacklustre but won't thwart Premier Li Keqiang's plan ramp up consumer demand and innovation in the drive towards a sustainable economy, economists said ahead of the release of the data on Wednesday. The general consensus among economists is for 6.9 per cent growth in second-quarter GDP, down from 7.0 per cent in the first three months. That result would be the slowest quarterly growth in six years. Given its repeated pledges to improve livelihoods, the government would normally not accept slowing growth because of the risk of higher joblessness and lower wages. “[But] in general, the leadership remains upbeat about the outlook,” Lian Ping, Bank of Communications chief economist, told the South China Morning Post. “The planned reform is still on the right track.” Lian was among a dozen economists and entrepreneurs who met Li to discuss economic conditions and policy in Beijing last weekend. “Weak first-half data wouldn't be a damper at all,” he said. Economists said growth could rebound in the second half as the central government's monetary easing translated into investment growth and stronger economic activity, a process that can take about six months. Beijing has slashed interest rates four times since late November, relaxing monetary constraints to stimulate fixed-asset investment and bolster consumption. In the latest sign that the policy is starting to take effect, the central bank said on Tuesday yesterday that China's banks extended 1.28 trillion yuan (HK$1.62 trillion) in new loans in June, up from 1.05 trillion yuan in May. “The lacklustre growth in the second quarter, together with recent equity market turmoil, suggests that the People's Bank of China will have to maintain an accommodative policy stance to support growth,” Liu Li-Gang, ANZ Bank's chief economist for greater China, said. “We believe a reserve requirement ratio cut is still on the table despite improvements in June's monetary data.” Concerns about China's financial system have risen since an A-share rout wiped out US$3 trillion in market capitalisation in three weeks from June 15. To try to stop the death spiral, the central bank pledged liquidity support to state-backed margin debt provider, China Securities Finance Corp. But ANZ said the market crash was unlikely to trigger a financial crisis. The premier's bigger concern is to revamp the economy by encouraging companies to overhaul their business models and technology, and by supporting more businesspeople to venture out on their own into the fast-growing world of internet tech. The central plank of the push is to shift focus from building infrastructure to igniting consumer demand. In the first five months, fixed-asset investment grew 11.4 per cent year on year, 4.3 percentage points lower than the full-year figure for 2014. “The investment figure will improve in the next two quarters because of the monetary easing,” Lian said. “The investments are no longer as important as they once were.” ^ top ^

China's growth holds steady at 7pc despite forecasts of a slowdown (SCMP)
2015-07-16
China reported better growth than expected for the second quarter, but Beijing warned the economy still faced rough weather ahead as the government pressed on with its restructuring plans. Gross domestic product grew 7 per cent year-on-year in April to June, unchanged from the first quarter and beating economists' forecasts of 6.8 to 6.9 per cent. The State Council on Wednesday said the country planned to give more importers subsidised loans as part of efforts to shore up trade, and would keep the yuan at a stable, reasonable level to minimise foreign exchange risks that firms faced. Analysts had believed quarterly growth in the world's second-largest economy - battered by slowing trade growth, fewer fixed-asset investments and stock market turmoil - would hit a six-year low. National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Sheng Laiyun rejected suggestions the figures were inflated. Sheng said the leadership was steering the economy into a "new normal" model - slower but sustainable growth with a new driving force from stronger consumer spending rather than huge investments and external demand. "The economy will continue to suffer pain amid the restructuring," he added. "The switch from the old growth engine to the new one is still in the process, and the new driving force is not enough to offset the negative impact from the slowing old engine." The bureau described the growth as a "hard won" victory thanks to the leadership's measures such as interest rate cuts to buoy the economy. Sheng said the global economy's slow recovery and falling commodity prices added uncertainties to the growth outlook. Domestic consumption accounted for 60 per cent of first-half growth, compared with 51.1 per cent at the same time last year. "The figures [show] the policies to steer the economy from export-led to local-consumption-driven growth are working," said Kamel Mallahi, professor of strategic management at Warwick Business School in Britain. Li Wei, China and Asia economist with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said China's economic activities would moderately improve in the second half. The bank kept its full-year growth forecast at 7 per cent. The recent stock market rout sparked fears of a financial crisis as the key indicator dived more than 32 per cent between June 15 and July 8 - a crash that could hijack economic policymaking. Beijing stepped in to put a floor under the plummeting stocks with liquidity support from the central bank to the securities regulator. A temporary ban on initial public offerings disappointed firms seeking to raise funds on the capital market to grow their businesses. Sheng said a healthy stock market was vital to economic development and that Beijing was confident of preventing systemic risks. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 3.03 per cent to 3,805.7 on Wednesday despite the data. ^ top ^

 

DPRK
China-DPRK border trade zone approved (Global Times)
2015-07-14
A border trade zone between China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), located in northeast China's Liaoning Province, has been approved, the provincial government announced on Monday. According to the city's foreign trade bureau, the Guomenwan border trade zone covers 40,000 square meters of land in the border city of Dandong. It is expected to open in October. Residents living within 20 kilometers of the border will be able to exchange commodities with people from the DPRK and enjoy a duty-free policy on goods purchased for less than 8,000 yuan (1,288 US dollars) per day, authorities with the bureau said. Dandong is the key hub for trade, investment and tourism between China and the DPRK. There are more than 600 border trade enterprises in the city, and trade with the DPRK accounts for 40 percent of the city's total trade turnover. ^ top ^

 

Mrs. Lauranne Macherel
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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