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
  23-27.3.15, No. 565  
    Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

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Foreign Policy

China mourns death of former Singaporean PM Lee Kuan Yew (Global Times)
2015-03-23
China on Monday mourned the death of former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, calling him a statesman of unique influence in Asia. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei made the remarks in a written statement. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding father, served as the country's premier from 1959 to 1990 and then as a senior minister and minister mentor. He died early Monday local time at the age of 91. ^ top ^

IOC team inspects Beijing (Global Times)
2015-03-23
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission arrived in Beijing on Sunday to determine whether China's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games is successful. Observers predicted promising prospects due to the potential host cities' prior experience and infrastructure. The Evaluation Commission members began the visit that will last until March 29 to conduct a field inspection of 19 competition and non-competition venues and supporting facilities. At the same time, they will assess the transportation systems and all other infrastructural elements in the three Games zones of Beijing, Yanqing county in the city's northwest and Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province, reported China Central Television on Sunday. The IOC inspectors will be presented with plans for the joint bid by Beijing and Zhangjiakou for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, and will complete an evaluation report based on the inspection of the two bid cities, reported the Xinhua News Agency. The 19-member IOC Evaluation Commission is made up of representatives of national and regional Olympic committees, athletes and experts. Representatives of the International Paralympic Committee are also in the group. The report will be used as a key basis for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games Host City Election, which will be held on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Wang Hui, spokesperson and director of media and communications for the Beijing 2022 Bid Committee, said at a press briefing on Saturday that Beijing has taken the "toughest measures" to tackle pollution in preparation for the bid. The Chinese government is proposing a budget of $4.7 billion to fight air pollution, following the announcement made earlier that Beijing authorities plan to bring down the readings of PM2.5 to 60 by the year of 2017. Beijing's previous experience in holding high-profile international events and the existing stadiums used for the 2008 Summer Games may prove crucial, said observers. "With Beijing's continental climate, there are concerns over the city's natural capacity to host winter sports events. But most events are indoors. Beijing will also benefit from its previous experience in hosting the 2008 Olympic Games," Yan Qiang, a sports commentator, told the Global Times. Of the five venues in Beijing for the 2022 Winter Games, four of them would be converted from existing facilities built during the 2008 Games, including the National Aquatics Center, known as the "Water Cube," and the National Indoor Stadium. The newly planned speed skating stadium is scheduled to start construction in 2016. Beijing and Kazakhstan's Almaty are the only two candidates left in the race. Previous candidates included Stockholm, which dropped its bid in January 2014 due to lack of political support. Others dropped out due to the expense. A recent poll conducted by the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games Bid Committee shows that domestic support in Beijing for the bid is 91 percent. For Zhangjiakou, the co-host city for most snow events and about 200 kilometers northwest of Beijing, the rate is 99.9 percent. "The experience of hosting international sports events helps to advance the city's urban development, including improvements to its environmental and social infrastructure, which are essential for China as a developing country," Zhu Dajian, Director of Institute of Governance for Sustainability at Tongji University, told the Global Times. Zhu also pointed out that it is essential to use the bid as an opportunity to improve people's livelihood so as to gain widespread support. But the government should also avoid repeating the same phenomenon of soaring property prices after the 2008 Games, he said. "People's quality of life needs to be improved along with the infrastructure, such as sustainable measures to improve air quality," Zhu noted. At the Saturday press briefing, Wang also said that hosting the 2022 Games will create job opportunities and industry advancement in Zhangjiakou, which is not so advanced economically. Jin Canrong, a deputy dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, said that bidding for and hosting the 2022 Winter Games would also benefit China's international reputation, as the country has become more confident in its capability following the 2008 Games. "Besides GDP growth, the nation's management ability [in hosting major international events] is another key indicator in evaluating the country's progress towards modernization," Jin told the Global Times. "[Hosting the Winter Games] will serve as an opportunity for China to participate and familiarize itself with rules and procedures in hosting international events, as well as a chance for the international community to understand China's latest developments," he said. ^ top ^

China's Belt, Road initiatives not geo-strategic tool (Global Times)
2015-03-23
China's Belt and Road initiatives will facilitate economic cooperation and will not act as a geo-strategic tool, a senior foreign affairs official said Saturday. The initiatives do not target particular countries or international organizations, said Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui at the China Development Forum in Beijing. The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, proposed by China in 2013, follow the principles of joint consultation, construction and sharing. It will be an open and inclusive platform for regional cooperation, taking into full consideration the position, interests and convenience of every side, Zhang said. China and the United States share much common interests and space for cooperation in the Asia Pacific, which should become a region of priority to build a new model of major-power relations between the two countries, he said. He also noted that the planned Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which would finance infrastructure construction along the belt and road, conform to the needs of the region and complement existing financial institutions. China is a participant, builder and contributor to the current international order and system, Zhang said. The country has always safeguarded post-war international order with the United Nations at its core. China also advocates reform in accordance with the development of situations, promoting democratic international relations and law-based global governance, he said. ^ top ^

Ambassadors laud Xi's book on governance of China (Global Times)
2015-03-21
Chinese President Xi Jinping's book on governance enables the world to become better informed about China's development as well as its internal and foreign policies, ambassadors to China said in a series of interviews with Xinhua. "Xi Jinping: The Governance of China" contains speeches, answers to questions and instructions by Xi from Nov. 15, 2012 to June 13, 2014. It has sold more than 3 million copies since its release in September last year, including more than 300,000 copies in foreign languages. Jean-Jacques de Dardel, ambassador of Switzerland to China, said the book was a good reference on modern China policies, and that Xi's thoughts about reform were very constructive. Friis Arne Petersen, Danish ambassador to China, said for public and government officials in Denmark with an interest in China, the book provided a more direct link to Chinese leaders' thinking than media reports. The book reflects Xi's wisdom of governance and his aspiration for national rejuvenation, said Kuwaiti Ambassador to China Mohammad Saleh Al-Thuwaikh. Pakistani Ambassador Masood Khalid said the book presented the Chinese leader's great vision during China's economic and social transformation. Foreign readers could better understand how the Chinese leadership has translated wisdom into reality and learn more about Chinese history, society and politics, he said. He noted the significance of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives, as proposed by Xi, to enable China to further broaden international collaboration and partnerships. Xi's book will be useful for foreigners to understand regional connectivity and common prosperity, a blueprint embodied in the Belt and Road initiatives, he said. Khalid was echoed by Magdy Amer, Egyptian ambassador to China, who said the initiatives as well as principles on security and common development would play an important role in promoting international relations. As shown in the book, China wants to work with the rest of the world to strive for a better future through win-win cooperation. This is crucial for China to achieve the current success, he said. Soegeng Rahardjo, Indonesian ambassador to China, said he would recommend the book to his colleagues so that they could understand modern China better and its future direction. ^ top ^

FMs to discuss East Asian leaders' meet (Global Times)
2015-03-21
The "right political atmosphere" is needed before a meeting between Chinese, Japanese and South Korean top leaders can be held, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Friday, one day ahead of a meeting between foreign ministers from the three countries in Seoul. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his South Korean and Japanese counterparts Yun Byung-se and Fumio Kishida are scheduled to meet in Seoul on Saturday and for exchanges on a wide range of topics including free trade agreement, the North Korean nuclear issue, cooperation on environment and energy, and a possible meeting between the three countries' top leaders. The ministers will swap briefs on the development situations in three countries and exchange views on the principles and directions of future development, Hong said in a press conference in Beijing. "The foreign ministers will exchange views on a leaders' meeting," Hong said, adding that "right political atmosphere is needed" for the summit. "The historical issue, a major obstacle to the three countries' relationship in the past few years, is also a major reason for the suspension of high-level meetings,"Hong said. He also called on the foreign ministers to have "candid exchanges" on historical issue to improve bilateral relations between relevant countries. Analysts say the three-day meeting, the first trilateral meeting between the nations' foreign ministers since April 2012, will highlight regional cooperation and more importantly, begin to mend the China-Japan and South Korea-Japan relationships, which have been damaged by historical and territorial rows over past two years. A meeting between three top leaders is likely if the Japanese authorities take a "correct attitude" toward history and territory, said Liu Jiangyong, deputy dean with the Institute of Modern International Relations of Tsinghua University. Liu said that improving the strained ties in the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression is a primary aim of this meeting. For South Korea and Japan, it is also an important year as it marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral relations, Liu added. According to Yonhap News Agency, Yun plans to hold a bilateral meeting with Wang and Kishida early Saturday on the sidelines of the trilateral talks, and Yun and Kishida are expected to reaffirm the importance of improving Seoul-Tokyo ties. South Korean foreign ministry Friday called on Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to include an expression of "sincere repentance" for wartime atrocities in a historic address when speaking to the US Congress, as sources in Washington said Abe will become the first Japanese prime minister to address a joint session of the US Congress in April. Seoul said Abe's speech should share the view about history held by Japan's previous governments and show sincere repentance for the past. The relationship China and South Korea, with steady political ties, will certainly see breakthroughs in economic cooperation, Liu said, adding that the Sino-Japan relationship has also made progress since the release of a four-point agreement, under which the two countries will resume political, diplomatic and security dialogue while acknowledging different positions on the Diaoyu Islands. On Thursday, foreign and defense officials from China and Japan resumed high-level security talks, the first in over four years, with both sides recognizing improved ties and vowing to make further efforts. Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama said bilateral ties have gradually improved since last year as the two sides agreed to establish air and maritime emergency contact mechanism and high-level negotiations over maritime issues. Meanwhile the Chinese side urged Japan to stick to its decades-long "purely defensive" defense strategy and to have an "objective and rational" perception on China's development, expressing concerns over Japan's security moves. Miao Ji, research fellow on Northeast Asian studies with the China Foreign Affairs University, said that apart from discussions on history issues, another important goal of the trilateral meeting is to expand cooperation and step forward in "non-sensitive areas" like finance, environment and energy. Miao cited the non-governmental organizations from the three countries working together during the World Conference on Disaster Risk and Reduction in Sendai this month and on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei Wednesday said that the issue of AIIB will be touched upon during the trilateral talk. Although Japan and South Korea have not signed up for AIIB, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said Tokyo could consider joining and a South Korean diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the matter quoted by Yonhap said Seoul is "positively" considering joining the AIIB. ^ top ^

Sino-Japan ties are on the mend, says Beijing (SCMP)
2015-03-24
Top political adviser Yu Zhengsheng said yesterday that steps towards repairing Beijing's ties with Tokyo were gradually getting back on a positive track. "Sino-Japanese relations are currently improving. The force is not strong yet, but it is heading in a good direction," Yu said at a meeting in Beijing with a group of senior lawmakers of Japan's ruling coalition parties. Yu said China's upcoming commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of second world war were not intended to fan resentment against Japan and that this year was a good chance to mend bilateral ties that had chilled over territory and views on history, according to Kiyohiko Toyama, a Komeito party lawmaker who was part of the seven-member group. But to seize the chance, Yu said, it was essential for Japan to properly face up to its wartime history, according to Toyama. China and other Asian countries that suffered Japan's militarism before and during the war are concerned whether Tokyo will uphold its past apologies on the anniversary. The senior Japanese lawmakers who attended the meeting, which lasted nearly an hour, included Liberal Democratic Party secretary general Sadakazu Tanigaki and Yoshihisa Inoue, his Komeito counterpart. Tanigaki told Yu - one of the seven members of China's top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee - that he believed that the content of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's statement on the war anniversary would not be a cause of concern for Beijing. Today, Tanigaki and Inoue will meet Wang Jiarui, head of the international department of the Communist Party's Central Committee, and formally agree to resume exchanges between the two countries' ruling party members. The exchanges have been suspended since 2009. The Japanese lawmakers, who arrived in Beijing yesterday, are scheduled to return to Japan tomorrow. ^ top ^

China, India agree to safeguard peace, tranquility in border regions (Xinhua)
2015-03-24
China and India agreed on Monday to properly handle and control their disputes and jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in their border regions before the boundary issue is solved. At the 18th round of talks of special representatives for boundary issue, Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval exchanged in depth their opinions on the boundary issue, and made strategic communications on bilateral ties as well as international and regional issues of mutual interest. The two sides said that after Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India last September, the leaders of the two countries have given guidelines for the development of strategic cooperation between the two countries in the next five to 10 years. The two sides will make common efforts to implement the important consensus reached by their leaders, maintain the momentum of high-level exchange of visits, and enhance the development of China-India strategic cooperation partnership. The two sides also reviewed the progress achieved over the past years at the talks of special representatives on boundary issue. They emphasized that the two sides should continue to move forward the process of framework talks in a correct direction on the basis of the existing achievements and consensus, while taking into consideration of the overall bilateral relations and long- term interests of the two peoples. The two sides also agreed to work together to promote pragmatic cooperation in all fields, strengthen coordination and provide mutual support in international and regional affairs and build closer relations of development partnership, in order to contribute to global peace and development. ^ top ^

China says to deepen and widen mutual beneficial ties with Iraq (Xinhua)
2015-03-23
China is willing to further widen and deepen mutual beneficial cooperation with Iraq in all fields and actively participate in its reconstruction, said Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. Yang made the remarks on his visit to Baghdad on Sunday when meeting with Iraqi President Fuad Masum, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri. Yang said that China and Iraq have enjoyed long-standing friendship and made new achievements in promoting bilateral ties. China is willing increase high-level visits, strengthen political mutual trust, push forward pragmatic cooperation with Iraq and upgrade bilateral ties to higher level, said the Chinese State Councilor. He added that the new Iraqi government has gained a series of achievements since its establishment last September. And China will help Iraq to improve its self-reliance development capability. China firmly supports Iraq in its bid to maintain independence, safeguard sovereign and territorial integrity as well as its efforts for peace and stability in the region, he said. Iraq highly appreciated China's achievement in development and its important role in upholding justice in international affairs, particularly its humanitarian aid to Iraq, said the Iraqi leaders. Iraq has given high priority to enhancing ties with China and is willing step up cooperation with China in the fields of energy, telecom, agriculture and scientific research, they said. Yang conveyed to Masum the best regards of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman of China's NPC Standing Committee Zhang Dejiang. ^ top ^

China pledges closer legislative ties with Latin America (Xihnua)
2015-03-24
Top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang on Monday held talks with Elias Castillo, president of the Latin American Parliament, on stronger legislative ties. Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, reviewed Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Latin America last July when Xi and Latin American leaders announced the establishment of China-Latin America all-round cooperation partnership. With the ministerial meeting held in Beijing in January, China-Latin America relations have begun a new era of development and cooperation, Zhang said. China and Latin America are faced with new opportunities to deepen cooperation, Zhang said. He called the Latin American Parliament, with 23 member parliaments in Latin American and the Caribbean, the most important parliamentary organization in the region. He called on the NPC and the Latin American Parliament to work more closely. Castillo called China a great country and said that the Latin American Parliament attaches importance to developing friendly exchanges with China's legislature. Castillo said he was glad to see China become an observer of the Latin American Parliament, calling for more exchanges and cooperation. Earlier Monday, Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao also met with Castillo. Li said stronger China-Latin America ties are in the interests of both sides, as well as world and regional peace, stability and development. He called on the two sides to make joint efforts to continuously push forward bilateral relations. Castillo said the 23 member parliaments of the Latin American Parliament thanked China for its support. ^ top ^

Nepal sees China's Belt and Road initiative as chance for Asia to improve connectivity (Global Times)
2015-03-24
China's Silk Road Economic Belt initiative is an opportunity for Nepal and other Asian countries to improve their regional and global connectivity, Nepal has said. Addressing a talk program Monday in Kathmandu, Nepalese Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey voiced his country's support for China's initiative. "With due respect to our long-standing cordial relations with China, the government of Nepal has extended its support for China' s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative," Pandey said. The talk program "Silk Road: Enhancing Nepal-China Connectivity " was organized by a state-owned think-thank, the Institute of Foreign Affairs. Nepali foreign minister's remarks came at a time when China is going to reveal the details of revival of Silk Road initiatives this week during the 2015 Boao Forum for Asia to be held in China' s Hainan province. The foreign minister recalled that Nepal signed a four-point document with China in December last year in Beijing during an inter-governmental committee's meeting when Nepal agreed to become a part of the Silk Road Economic Belt. "The issue of infrastructure development under this initiative also surfaced during my visit to China," Pandey said while talking about his recent five-day official visit to China. The foreign minister said Nepal will join the Silk Road Economic Belt as it has great significance to Nepal as it will enhance connectivity and take the Nepal-China relations to a new height. He said most of other members of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) have also planned to join either the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road or the Silk Road Economic Belt. "Silk Road revival is not only Nepal-China affairs alone. It is heartening to learn that most of SAARC members have also planned to join either the Maritime Silk Road or the Silk Road Economic Belt. This is really a good beginning for enhancing regional and global connectivity," the minister said. Speaking on the same occasion, Nepalese Acting Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi said it is high time for Nepal to think about establishing better connectivity with the region and the world from which Nepal can benefit economically and geographically as well. "Nepal will be definitely benefited if we realize the immense potentialities of China's initiatives such as the Silk Road Economic Belt," he said. While talking about China's "one belt, one road" initiatives, former foreign secretary Madhuraman Acharya said China's proposal for reviving the old Silk Road has created potential for unleashing a new wave of opportunities in trade, tourism, transportation and pipeline connectivity in the Asian region. He said that Nepal should make concerted efforts to benefit from China's initiatives. ^ top ^

Lee Kuan Yew was ahead of the curve when he predicted China's emergence (SCMP)
2015-03-24
In the early 1990s in Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew invited a visiting Chinese Communist Party secretary from Fuzhou city to a private meal. The party official was barely 40 at the time and relatively unknown. Lee, who had already stepped down as prime minister but remained in cabinet, apparently wanted to meet the young man because he was the offspring of a Chinese revolutionary hero and considered a potential leader in China's future. Former Singapore Member of Parliament Peh Chin Hua, the only other person at the gathering that has never been reported in the local Chinese press, told the South China Morning Post: "It was rather unusual for someone of his stature to host a foreign provincial politician. But it became clear to me he held the visitor in high regard." The meeting was part of Lee's unremitting investment in understanding China's pantheon of leaders - whom to many in the West seemed faceless and interchangeable. Indeed, Lee was the only global leader who met all five Chinese Communist Party leaders, from Mao Zedong to Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao andXi Jinping - the same young party secretary from Fuzhou he entertained two decades ago. Convinced that China would always affect his little city state, Lee wanted to look beyond ideology and punditry to comprehend the Asian giant's future trajectory. The student became the master: at his prime he was sought after by other world leaders for insights into the China's leadership and its thinking. In his memoirs, Lee makes plain his admiration for the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping who led China's opening up in 1978. Lee recalled his conversations with Deng, including one that year when Deng visited Singapore. Deng was impressed with Singapore's transformation. He told Lee: "If I had only Shanghai, I too might be able to change Shanghai as quickly. But I have the whole of China." Lee told Deng that the Singapore Chinese were descendants of illiterate landless peasants from Guangdong and Fujian, whereas the scholars, mandarins and literati had stayed and left their progeny in China. "There was nothing that Singapore had done which China could not do, and do better," Lee wrote. "He stayed silent then. When I read that he had told the Chinese people to do better than Singapore, I knew he had taken up the challenge I quietly tossed to him that night 14 years earlier." In Deng's much-publicised tour of southern China in February 1992, he famously challenged Guangdong to catch up with Asia's four "dragons", and to draw specifically from the experience of Singapore. Always aware of the size of the problems that the Chinese leadership was dealing with, Lee had no patience for Western politicians and commentators who were pushing for democratisation in China, encouraged by the collapse of the Soviet Union. ^ top ^

How Lee Kuan Yew's political legacies have rubbed off on China (SCMP)
2015-03-25
China's ruling Communist Party has indicated it will inherit some of Lee Kuan Yew's political legacies, saying the late Singaporean leader's thinking offers much to today's China. In an article to commemorate Lee, who died on Monday, People's Daily yesterday summarised what it called his four major legacies with implications for China: maintaining social stability, achieving a smooth and orderly transition of political power, building a clean and uncorrupt government, and introducing the rule of law. "Maintaining social stability and a harmonious environment for development is of critical importance," the article in the party mouthpiece said. China had been inspired by how Lee managed the smooth and orderly succession of power in the city-state since his retirement in 1990, it said. "China and Singapore have observed the same rules as they fit China's national condition and meet the requirement of the times," the paper said, referring to the leadership transitions in both nations in a commentary headlined "How Lee Kuan Yew's political legacy inspires China". Both nations have twice seen leadership transitions in the past two decades. Lee handed over premiership to his deputy Goh Chok Tong in 1990, completing the so-called transition of power from the first generation to the second. In 2004, Lee's son Lee Hsien Loong succeeded Goh as prime minister as power moved to the third generation. The Communist Party's first smooth and orderly transition of power without a living strongman was from president Jiang Zemin to Hu Jintao at the 16th party congress in 2002. Power then changed from Hu to President Xi Jinping at the 18th party congress in 2012. In communist-ruled China, chairman Mao Zedong is seen as the first generation leader, Deng Xiaoping the second, Jiang third, Hu fourth and Xi fifth. The commentary said China shared Lee's legacy of fighting graft among senior officials, which Lee called "netting big fish"- the equivalent of the "tigers" in Xi's crackdown. It said Lee's legacy of the rule of law also inspired China to improve its legal system. The fourth plenum of the party's Central Committee held last October focused on an agenda to introduce rule by law. It said Lee's legacy was to make Singapore citizens bear in mind the rule by law that China was trying to introduce. All major state media yesterday gave prominent coverage to Lee's death, with editorials and commentaries praising his achievement of transforming a small island with few resources into a world-class financial and trade centre. State broadcaster CCTV devoted nearly half its midday news bulletin to reports on Lee's death, while obituaries were splashed across the homepages of websites of all major media outlets. Xinhua praised Lee for never deviating from his political beliefs and values despite facing "defamation and criticism from foreign media". China Daily quoted Jin Canrong, deputy dean of the School of International Relations at Renmin University, as saying Lee's contribution to China was "sharing Singapore's successful experience in governance". The China Internet Information Centre, a central-government-run news portal, said Lee's accomplishments with Singapore convinced China that it, too, could become a strong and prosperous nation "by insisting on following its own path". ^ top ^

How Lee Kuan Yew crafted Singapore into a role model for China (SCMP)
2015-03-24
For years, China's leaders have been obsessed with learning from Singapore's success. The city state has maintained single-party rule with popular legitimacy, retained good governance with an uncorrupted bureaucracy, and delivered inclusive growth with equal opportunities for its people in a harmonious, multiracial society. But beyond its success, what makes Singapore most attractive to China is the special bond between the two states, nurtured by their respective patriarchs Deng Xiaoping and Lee Kuan Yew. In November, 1978, Deng, then senior vice-premier, made an official visit to Singapore during which both strongmen statesmen sowed the seeds to cultivate that special relationship, historians say. Lee developed a keen understanding of China and its leadership during 33 visits starting in 1976, when he shared a brief handshake with the ailing chairman, Mao Zedong. In the four decades since, Lee maintained cordial relations with five generations of Chinese leaders. Only former United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger can boast the same. Singapore's success as an overseas Chinese-majority society made the tiny city state all the more relevant to China as it opened up its economy with market-oriented experiments in the late 1970s and throughout the '80s and '90s, said Zhuang Guotu, a Southeast Asian affairs expert and dean of Xiamen University's Centre for Southeast Asian Studies. China's leaders embraced the “learn from Singapore” slogan as they tried to fathom the secrets behind the island's good governance and successful socio-economic policies including housing, health care and welfare. They have been particularly drawn to the Singapore model of “managed democracy” or “benevolent dictatorship”, viewing the Southeast Asian country as boasting the world's most successful authoritarian rule, according to Zhuang. Steve Tsang, dean of the University of Nottingham's School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, said China was inspired by the achievements of Lee, who insisted on maintaining his People's Action Party's single-party leadership. This was especially so after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, casting doubt on the sustainability of China's own communist rule. Lee's advocating of so-called “Asian values” also gave China's Communist Party an external “intellectual” justification to revamp itself from old-fashion Leninism to the post-Deng consultative Leninist variant, which continues under President Xi Jinping. “China under Xi has gone beyond the need for Lee Kuan Yew, but its leadership still find the success of the authoritarian Singapore under Lee a useful ideological partner in the contest of political models against liberal democracies,” Tsang said. Over the past two decades, China has sent large groups of officials to Singapore each year on study tours and training courses. To date, more than 20,000 mainland officials have undergone such training with the National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. In a speech at the school in 2010, Li Yuanchao, then chief of the Central Committee's Organisation Department, said China saw Singapore as its first choice to provide overseas training for leading cadres, as the city state's road to development was relevant for China. David Zweig, director of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology's Centre on China's Transnational Relations, said he believed most of China's regional leaders favoured the Singapore development model. Zweig recalled that years ago, the party secretary of Zhangjiagang, a port city in Jiangsu province, said after a visit to Singapore that he found city a wonderful model for his own town, especially its orderliness, cleanliness and its people's work ethic and discipline. “He made [Zhangjiagang's] entire population study Singapore. I'm sure many local leaders in China share this view of Singapore,” Zweig said. Chinese leaders also remember with gratitude Lee's help as an arbitrator in cross-strait relations. The Singapore government hosted the first direct talks between mainland China and Taiwan in 1992, during which the Communist Party and the Kuomintang government reached the “1992 consensus”, laying the ground for sustained exchanges across the straits over the next two decades. Beijing also appreciated Singapore's role in Asia Pacific diplomacy, maintaining balanced relations between China and the US. Lee probably had the longest and most diverse influence on international politics of any post-war Asian statesman, said Kerry Brown, a Chinese politics professor and director of the University of Sydney's China Studies Centre. “Lee uniquely balanced excellent relations with the US against equally strong relations with China,” Brown said. Beijing also acknowledges Singapore's special role as a leader of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). “China is certainly looking towards Singapore for an impartial solution to the disputes in the South China Sea and other regional issues,” Zhuang said. ^ top ^

China urges parties of Iran nuclear issue to seize window of opportunity (Xinhua)
2015-03-25
A Chinese envoy to the United Nations on Tuesday called on all parties of Iran nuclear issue to seize the window of opportunity and solve the problem through diplomatic negotiations at an early date. Wang Min, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, made the appeal at a Security Council meeting on the latest work of 1737 Committee, which is tasked with monitoring a set of sanctions against Iran established by Resolution 1737 and subsequent Council resolutions. "China believes that the sanction itself is not the purpose of the relevant Security Council resolutions," Wang said, adding that tightening up the sanction is not the criterion for the work of the Committee. Although the negotiations are faced with many difficulties, he said, reaching a comprehensive agreement on time is the aspiration of the international community, represents the general trend and serves the common and long-term interests of all parties. "Therefore, the Committee and the Panel should fulfill the duties in a steadily and orderly way, contribute to the international efforts to negotiate a solution to this issue, and refrain from any move to disrupt the negotiation process against the spirit of the resolution," Wang said. Solving the Iran nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations will "safeguard the international nuclear non-proliferation system, contribute to peace and tranquillity in the Middle East, and offer beneficial experience of negotiated settlement to major hotspot issues," the envoy said, noting that twists and difficulties during the process are unavoidable. Recently, the six parties, namely the U.S., UK, Russia, China, France and Germany, plus Iran have held intensive consultations and negotiations with an eye on the final deadline, Wang said. "China believes that the negotiations have reached a critical point," said Wang, urging the parties to seize the current important window of opportunity, strengthen the political will, mobilize favorable factors and continue working to meet halfway, and make a political decision as soon as possible so as to jointly run the most difficult and also the "last kilometer" of the marathon. "In this way, a comprehensive agreement that is equitable, balanced, mutually beneficial and win-win can be reached at an early date," he said. The ambassador expressed China's support for the continued positive role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in resolving this issue. "We hope the agency will strengthen the cooperation with Iran and gradually resolve the relevant pending issues," he said. "China is a responsible party in the talks and has always behaved in objective and impartial way," he said. "We have made positive contribution towards resolving the central and difficult issues of the negotiations." The Chinese envoy said his country will continue its constructive participation in the negotiation and along with other parties, finish the marathon talk on the Iran nuclear issue as soon as possible. "In this way we can contribute China's wisdom and strength towards a comprehensive, thorough and long-term solution to this issue," he said. ^ top ^

China 'invites Japan's Abe to second world war anniversary in Beijing' (SCMP)
2015-03-26
China has invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Beijing in September to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war, but Abe is cautious about accepting it, according to government sources in Tokyo. Analysts say his caution is to be expected as joining the ceremony would not only be an embarrassment to Japan but would also signal the country's submission to its former wartime enemy. Beijing had contacted the leaders of "all relevant countries" to gauge their interest in attending the event, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday, without clarifying if Japan was included. Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday declined to say if Abe received an invitation. "It is extremely important to show a stance to tackle common challenges … in a future-oriented manner," he said. "We have conveyed Japan's views on such events. We have told them our country's way of thinking regarding such an official ceremony." Japan's Kyodo news agency cited an anonymous government source as saying Abe was reticent about attending Beijing's ceremony on China's September 3 "victory against Japan" day as it included a military parade. The Yomiuri newspaper also reported that Abe was unlikely to attend, citing Tokyo's unease at what it sees as Beijing's growing assertiveness in the region, including through its regular increases in military spending. "Japan is asking China to improve the transparency of its military budget, so it's impossible for the prime minister to attend," a senior Japanese diplomat told the newspaper. Analysts say China's invitation is a kind of "carrot and stick" approach to pressure Japan to face up to its wartime past so that it will issue a statement that conforms to Beijing's views on the conflicts over the war. "By inviting Abe, China appears to show it is willing to reconcile with Japan over the historic wounds," said Philip Yang, president of the Taiwan Association of International Relations. "This will help improve long-strained Sino-Japanese ties." But the parade was also to demonstrate China's military might, which served to warn Japan against repeating its past mistakes and to demand that it face up to its past, Yang said. Japan formally surrendered to the Allied powers on September 2, 1945. Abe has said he will release a fresh statement on the second world war this year - one that would "in general" stand by previous apologies for the state's wartime misdeeds. But the statement's exact wording will be carefully examined for any signs of backsliding. ^ top ^

UN council adopts statement celebrating 20th anniversary of Beijing Declaration (Xinhua)
2015-03-26
The ongoing 28th Human Rights Council session on Wednesday adopted a Presidential Statement marking the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Presidential Statement by the Council reaffirmed the importance of the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action in fostering global gender equality 20 years after it was adopted by the United Nations(UN) in 1995. In his statement, Joachim Rücker, President of the Human Rights Council, stated that "governments bear the primary responsibility for the achievement of gender equality and that international cooperation has an essential role to play in assisting developing countries in progressing towards the full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action". He also reiterated the pivotal role played by the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in terms of achieving set development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. The Platform for Action, which adheres to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, is an agenda of women's empowerment. As such, it is the central policy framework for the achievement of gender equality. It builds on the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women set out in 1985, and seeks to provide equal participation for women in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making. Twelve critical areas of concern are outlined, including women and the economy, women and poverty, women and armed conflict and violence against women. In the past 20 years, governments, civil society groups, NGOs and the private sector have been called upon to instigate societal and legal changes aiming to improve women's lives. Ren Yisheng, Minister Counsellor in the Permanent Mission of China to UN at Geneva, thanked all participants for their constructive cooperation in a general statement, and said that the Fourth World Conference was an important milestone in the achievement of women's rights. According to the diplomat, China will co-host and organize, in collaboration with UN Women, a Global Leaders' Meeting on Achieving Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in September 2015. ^ top ^

China, Armenia pledge closer friendship, cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-03-26
Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday, both pledging to cement ties and boost cooperation. The Armenian president is paying a state visit to China this week. He will attend the the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2015, which will be held from March 26 to March 29 in south China's Hainan province. Hailing the smooth development of the relationship over the 23 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, Xi said the two sides should continue supporting each other on their development paths, core interests and efforts for prosperity. The Chinese government will encourage domestic enterprises to participate in transportation, mining, electricity, information technology and infrastructure sectors in Armenia, Xi said. The two presidents agreed to cooperate on the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, which provides historic cooperation opportunities. China will make use of its advantages in technology and equipment and will work with Armenia to establish appropriate means of cooperation, Xi said. He said he hoped Armenia will help promote cooperation between China and the Eurasian Economic Union, which includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia. Sarkisian said the Armenian and Chinese people have enjoyed a long history of friendship, dating back to the times of the ancient Silk Road. Hailing the increasing economic cooperation and political trust between the two countries since Armenian independence, Sarkisian expressed his gratitude to China for political support and economic assistance. Armenia hopes its major highway and railway projects could be included in the framework of the proposed Silk Road Economic Belt, the visiting president said. The two leaders were upbeat that cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries could increase. Xi suggested the two sides enhance coordination in major international and regional affairs to promote peace, security and stability in the world. As this year is the 70th anniversary of the victory of World War II and China's victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, Xi said China and Armenia should work together with all people and nations who cherish peace to safeguard international peace and justice. According to Xi, more than 6,000 Armenian soldiers from the Soviet Red Army joined China's fight against Japanese invaders. Sarkisian said China played an important role in safeguarding world peace and that he admired China's policy of treating all countries, big or small, equally and always developing relations with other countries on the basis of equality and mutual respect. Armenia looked forward to closer cooperation with China with a view to secure win-win results, Sarkisian said. Lauding China's great contribution to World War II, Sarkisian said the Armenian people would work together with the Chinese people to commemorate the victory. After their talks, the two leaders inked a joint statement on enhancing friendly cooperation, in which it was pledged that cooperation on currency swap, human rights, reform of the United Nations and fight against terrorism would be boosted. According to the statement, Sarkisian has invited Xi to make a state visit to Armenia. The Chinese president has accepted the invitation. Afterwards, Xi and Sarkisian witnessed the signing of a string of deals on trade, finance, judicial affairs, law enforcement, customs, education and tourism. Prior to their talks, Xi held a red carpet ceremony to welcome the Armenian president. ^ top ^

Chinese leaders send condolences to Germany, Spain over plane crash (Xinhua)
2015-03-25
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday sent separate messages of condolences to German President Joachim Gauck and Spanish King Felipe VI over the crash of a Germanwings flight. Xi mourned the dead in the crash and extended heartfelt condolences to their families, on behalf of the Chinese government and people and in his own name. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday send condolences to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy respectively over the tragedy. Also on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi sent messages to his German and Spanish counterparts, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, expressing his deep grief for the victims. The Germanwings plane crashed in the Alps in southern France on its way from Barcelona, Spain, to Dusseldorf, Germany. All 150 people on board were killed. The victims were mainly from Germany and Spain. ^ top ^

China, Greece vow to advance pragmatic cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-03-25
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias in Beijing on Wednesday, pledging to advance pragmatic cooperation. Wang said the two countries trust and support each other, which is the foundation of the China-Greece comprehensive strategic partnership. The two sides should make the Chinese-run project at the Greek port of Piraeus "a paradigm of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Greece," Wang said. Wang spoke highly of the positive role Greece plays in the ties between China and Europe. Kotzias said Greece attaches great importance to the Piraeus port project and is willing to play positive role in the construction of the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line. Kotzias said the Greek government hopes to sign cooperation plans with China for the medium-and-long term to promote cooperation in various fields. ^ top ^

China, Russia vow to step up anti-corruption cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-03-25
China is ready to strengthen anti-corruption cooperation with Russia, China's anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan said here Wednesday. Wang, head of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, made the remark as he met with Oleg Plokhoi, head of the anti-corruption department of Russia's presidential executive office. Wang, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, said strictly governing the CPC in a comprehensive way constitutes the fundamental guarantee for realizing the strategic goals unveiled by the Chinese leadership with Xi Jinping as the General Secretary. The strategic layout, known as "four comprehensives", refers to a political concept initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which comprises comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, comprehensively deepening reform, comprehensively advancing the rule of law, and strictly governing the Communist Party of China in a comprehensive way. Wang said strengthening self-supervision is a must for the CPC to address various risks and challenges while remaining in power for the long run. He said the CPC has the confidence to ensure its leadership through self improvement, purification and innovation. Plokhoi said Russia is ready to exchange experience and deepen cooperation with China on the fight against corruption. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy calls for zero-tolerance in protecting children (Global Times)
2015-03-26
The UN Security Council should adopt "zero-tolerance policy" towards armed groups in order to create a peaceful environment to protect children, said a Chinese envoy here Wednesday. Liu Jieyi, China's permanent representative to the UN, made the remarks at a Security Council open debate on children and armed conflict. "The Security Council should not condone acts by terrorist and extremist forces and other armed groups of brutal killing of children, using children as human bombs and forcing them to kill hostages," said Liu. The international community should comprehensively halt the act of harming children by any party to the conflict and urge them to observe relevant international law and international obligations, he added. Liu noted the protection of children in armed conflict starts with halting and easing armed conflicts, saying that only by preventing the worsening of the security situations can countries avoid children from being harmed in armed conflict. He also said the government of the country in conflict bears the primary responsibility for the further protection of children in armed conflict. "In executing council resolutions and effectively implementing the various programs, plans and initiatives for the protection of children, the role of the government in question is irreplaceable, " he explained. In this regard, he said the international community should make full use of the leading role of the government in question, support the government's efforts and mobilize the international community to assist in overcoming financial and other difficulties as well as strengthening its capacity building. In addition, Liu also called on all UN bodies to leverage their respective strengths and advantages so as to form synergy in the protection of children in armed conflict. "The UN peacekeeping operations should comprehensively fulfill their mandate and increase their protection of children," he said. "Related agencies and institutions such as the United Nations Children's Fund and World Bank should engage in close cooperation to support the countries in conflict to launch their peace- building efforts, promote economic and social development in these countries, guarantee children's physical and psychological health and ensure that they have the rights and opportunities for equal access to education," he added. The Security Council held the open debate under French presidency with a particular focus on child victims of non-state armed groups, since acts of abducting children or recruiting children have become frequent tactics of extremist armed groups nowadays. ^ top ^

2015 Boao Forum to unite Asia-Pacific nations, promote all-win aspiration (Global Times)
2015-03-26
With the advent of the 2015 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), China, the host country, hopes the BFA annual meeting will promote solidarity and cooperation among Asian nations as well as the regional integration process to achieve an all-win outcome. Themed "Asia's New Future: Toward a Community of Common Destiny," the annual conference will witness more than 70 formal discussions on topics of macroeconomy, industrial transformation, regional development, technological innovation, politics and security, people's livelihood, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesperson. Presidents from Armenia, Austria, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Zambia will attend the annual meeting. The guests also include the Governor-General of Australia and prime ministers from Kazakhstan, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Qatar and Sweden, as well as Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tanasak Patimapragorn. Georgy Petrov, vice-president of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said "China, India and other Asia-Pacific countries are the main engines of the global economy today", despite the fact that China has slowed down its overall economic growth to achieve a quality one. It is a shared view that the Asian community which shares the same fate should seek common development. MD Nalapat, an Indian strategic analyst, said without the development of Asia it is impossible for China to develop and Asia's progress needs China, which works for other Asian countries as well. With that in mind, China hopes the meeting will also push for the joint construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which consists of a network of railways, highways and other forms of infrastructure, as well as oil and gas pipelines, power grids, Internet networks and aviation routes in the Eurasian area. Aimed at strengthening regional connectivity through the reinforcement of transport infrastructure, investment and trade, financial cooperation and cultural exchanges, the two initiatives are calling for the collective efforts of countries along the routes. Under the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiatives, Asian nations could create newer and freer trade regimes and reach a closer interdependence within the community, which could be further facilitated by the financial support provided by the AIIB. "The AIIB comes into being as a result of the rise of rejuvenation of Asian countries. Asia will keep leading the global economic growth as the global power and wealth is shifting towards Asia. I hope that the forum could encourage more countries to join the AIIB," Indonesian Political Analyst Bambang Suryono said. The AIIB will not only help break the infrastructure bottleneck and boost regional development, but also bring considerable benefits to any party participating in or cooperating with the enterprise. It is worth noting that the AIIB will function as an open and inclusive organization dedicated to cooperation and development, not as an arena to wield power and influence. International Monetary Fund Deputy Managing Director Zhu Min, Former French Finance Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, People's Bank of China Deputy Governor Yi Gang, World Bank Vice President Cyril Muller and Asian Development Bank Vice President Stephen Groff will attend the event slated for March 26-29 in the scenic town of Boao in south China's tropical island province of Hainan. "The Boao Forum will strongly push for the integration process of Asia, as well as the construction of the Asian Community of Common Destiny," Suryono said. ^ top ^

Widodo invites Chinese firms to back infrastructure projects in Indonesia (SCMP)
2015-03-27
Beijing and Jakarta agreed to develop a "maritime partnership" yesterday as the visiting Indonesian president said his country was firmly behind a new China-backed investment bank. Indonesian President Joko Widodo also called for more Chinese private firms to invest in his country's infrastructure and pledged to work closely with Beijing to fight graft and terrorism, Chinese state media reported. Widodo arrived in Beijing yesterday for a three-day state visit, and is expected to attend the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan province. "Indonesia supports the [Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank] and hopes it can be a tool for financial stability," Widodo said in a joint appearance with President Xi Jinping after their talks. Chinese and Indonesian government agencies also signed eight agreements, including deals on taxation, high-speed rail, aerospace and marine search and rescue. Widodo said he hoped the two countries could reach a currency swap deal and have US$150 billion in bilateral trade by 2020. "Upon realising this goal, we can both better experience our strategic partnership, in a more specific and practical way," he said. Xi said he hoped the AIIB would help attract investment to Indonesia to build ports, high-speed rail lines and airports. "In regional and international matters, we have the same interests, which makes us share the same responsibilities," he said. In their joint statement, China and Indonesia agreed to improve communication on official policies, advance maritime infrastructure links, deepen cooperation in industrial investment and major project construction, and improve cooperation to develop a "maritime partnership". The Chinese president also called for more cooperation with Jakarta on youth and religious exchanges. Zhang Jie, an expert on regional security at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China wanted Indonesia to act as a coordinator among Southeast Asian countries amid rising tensions over the South China Sea. "Though Indonesia does not completely accept China's territorial claims in the area, it tends to stay neutral," Zhang said. ^ top ^

Will China's president attend Lee Kuan Yew's funeral? (SCMP)
2015-03-26
Who attends a foreign leader's funeral is not simply a matter of diplomatic protocol, it is also an indicator of the state of relations between two countries. So who represents China at Lee Kuan Yew's funeral in Singapore on Sunday will speak volumes about the importance that Beijing places on its ties with the city state and more importantly the respect it reserves for its founding father. A Foreign Ministry spokesman has said only that Chinese leaders will attend Lee's funeral, without elaborating. China's seventh-ranked leader and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli paid his respects to Lee at Singapore's embassy in Beijing, the most senior Chinese leader to do so. China's heads of state or Communist Party chiefs have rarely attended foreign leaders' funerals, even those of founding fathers of China's communist allies. Premier Zhou Enlai, not Mao Zedong, attended Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's funeral in 1953. Likewise, Vice Premier Li Xiannian attended the funeral of Vietnam's communist founding father Ho Chi Minh in 1969. The only exception was in 1980 when then party chairman and premier Hua Guofeng led a Chinese delegation to attend Yugoslavian leader Marshal Tito's funeral. However, Hua was a lame duck leader as Deng Xiaoping was in real charge and Hu Yaobang was the party general secretary. Diplomat experts said that according to China's diplomatic protocol, it normally sends a deputy premier or a president's special envoy to the funeral of a foreign leader who is identified as “an old friend of the Chinese people”. President Xi Jinping described Lee in these terms this week in his message of condolence. This practice was observed when Vice President Li Yuanchao attended Nelson Mandela's funeral in December 2013. Diplomatic sources in Beijing and Singapore said President Xi was unlikely go to Singapore, partly due to diplomatic protocol, and also because Barack Obama is also unlikely to attend. But some China watchers speculate that Xi, or another very senior Chinese leader might go, given Lee's exceptional status. Zhu Zhiqun, the director of the China Institute at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, said it was likely Xi would attend the funeral, given the huge impact that Lee and Singapore have had on China. “Lee's influence on China's development model is probably unparalleled,” Zhu said. It was also revealing that condolences were immediately sent to Singapore from the highest levels of China's government, the Chinese Communist Party and the National People's Congress, which was very rare, he said. Steve Tsang, the dean of the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at Nottingham University in Britain, said that if Xi did go it would be to send a signal that he approved of Lee's leadership style and wanted to embrace a similar approach in China. “Xi has plenty on his agenda and making a trip like this to Singapore will require a real reason, which will have to be about sending a powerful message to his colleagues and to the country at large,” Tsang said. Pan Chengxin, a China watcher at Deakin University in Australia and Pu Xiaoyu, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Nevada, said that if Xi does not attend, Premier Li Keqiang or another very senior leader might go. “I think at least someone like Premier Li Keqiang will attend, if not Xi Jinping himself,” Pan said Pu said the Foreign Ministry did not name any particular leader because they wanted to maintain some flexibility as top officials in the government always have busy schedules President Xi is scheduled to visit the Boao Forum on the southern island of Hainan this week. Zhu at Bucknell University, said, however, that the trip south would make it easier for the president to opt to fly to Singapore. “I would be very surprised if Xi does not go,” he said. ^ top ^

China, Myanmar conduct joint investigation on warplane bombing (Xinhua)
2015-03-27
Experts from China and Myanmar's armed forces conducted a joint investigation on a Myanmar warplane bombing from March 24 to 26 in Lincang of southwest China's Yunnan Province. Defense Ministry spokesperson Geng Yansheng made the remarks at a regular press briefing Thursday. On March 13, a bomb dropped by a Myanmar warplane hit a sugarcane field in Lincang, which borders the conflict-hit country. The incident killed five villagers and injured eight others. After the incident, China lodged serious complaints with Myanmar. Myanmar expressed sorrow over the Chinese casualties. Geng said China had a consistent and clear policy with regard to relations with Myanmar. China respects Myanmar's sovereignty and territorial integrity and it will not allow any organization or people, using China's territory, to infringe upon China-Myanmar relations or stability in the border areas, Geng noted. ^ top ^

Cambodia supports China's Belt and Road (Xinhua)
2015-03-27
Cambodia supports China's initiatives of the Silk Road and Economic Belt, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ( AIIB) which will contribute to greater regional connectivity, Prince Norodom Sirivudh, chairman of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, has said. In a interview with Xinhua ahead of the Boao Forum for Asia which opened Thursday in China's Hainan province, Sirivudh said, " The ideas show that China is quite open to the world, and that China is ready to play a role in contributing to peace and stability in the region." The three initiatives proposed by China are expected to top the agenda of the forum which will wind up on Sunday. Sirivudh, who will share his views in the forum's session on " ASEAN Community: A Major Milestone for Asian Integration" on Saturday, said Cambodia is very supportive of the establishment of the AIIB and the Silk Road Fund. "We hope that other friendly countries will follow the suit of France, Germany, Italy and other European countries to join the AIIB," Sirivudh said. The prince said Cambodia will benefit from AIIB and the Silk Road Fund because they will promote regional connectivity. Some analysts have termed the Boao Forum for Asia as Asia's version of the World Economic Forum which is held annually in Davos, Switzerland. Lauding the Boao Forum for Asia, Sirivudh said leaders of governments, politicians, economists, businessmen, academics have all agreed that the forum is a very effective venue where important issues could be raised and discussed. "This year's Boao Forum becomes one of the most important events among other forums in the world," Sirivudh said. The Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2015 is themed with " Asia's New Future: Toward a Community of Common Destiny". "It's a great honor to hear that Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a keynote address on March 28," Sirivudh said. In a separate interview with Xinhua, Kem Gunawadh, director- general of the state-run National Television of Cambodia (TVK), also hailed China for organizing the forum, saying it is a very important venue since it will bring together leaders in governments, businesses and academia in Asia and other continents to share visions on topics related to economy, regional connectivity development, politics and security, telecommunications, information, and culture. Gunawadh said during the forum, China is expected to win support for its initiatives which are essential to strengthen Asian economies and regional integration. Gunawadh said he would attend a media leaders' roundtable at the Boao Forum on Friday. "Media has played a very important role to promote the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road to the peoples in the region." He said it is media's role to apprise the people in the region of the economic benefits that the ambitious projects would bring to them. "Aside from the economic benefits, the twin projects would also promote closer relations among countries and their respective peoples," Gunawadh added.

"Belt and Road" no tools of geopolitics (Xinhua)
2015-03-26
The "Belt and Road" initiatives, a key topic for the 2015 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) as it opens on Thursday in Hainan, are a product of inclusive cooperation, not a tool of geopolitics. However, there are observers with an outdated Cold War mentality who claim that the Silk Road Economic Belt and The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Asian infrastructure networks are instruments for China to boost its political influence. These views are either ill-intended or lacking in research in an age of globalization. In essence, the "Belt and Road" are original Chinese concepts aimed at improved cooperation with Asia, Europe and Africa and building a community of common interests. The ideas were timely when proposed by China in 2013, because attempts to build mutual trust and common prosperity in the region have faced challenges in recent years for complex reasons including differences in political systems and cultural traditions. A recent BFA report said the effects of the Asia "miracle" of high growth and robust trade are ebbing fast. Economic indicators show an uncertain future for Asia as economic integration dawdles. Asia's goods trade grew only at the global average in 2013, while growth of services fell below the world average, the report said. Given the situation, regional integration must be accelerated and no Asian nation must be left behind. There are strong reasons for an inclusive Asian community where all members seek cooperation, not least because they are geographically close to each other. That's why the four-day BFA this year is themed "Asia's New Future: Toward a Community of Common Destiny". Understanding the origin of the initiatives will also help in grasping their nature of creating a win-win situation. The ideas involve a reinvigoration of the ancient Silk Road trade network, which had a history of more than 2,000 years and was used by people of many countries for friendly exchange and commerce. Noting there is a huge gap between infrastructure demand and the limited resources available for many Asian nations to pool, China is willing to share its infrastructure expertise and experience accumulated over decades with its neighbors. Statistics from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) show that between 2010 and 2020, around 8 trillion U.S. dollars of investment will be needed in the Asia-Pacific region to improve its infrastructure. However, the ADB is only able to provide about 10 billion U.S. dollars annually for this cause. The hunger for funding will be much alleviated after the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) starts operating before the end of the year as a key pillar to finance the initiatives along with a 40-billion-U.S.-dollar Silk Road Fund. The inclusiveness of the AIIB, which has received applications from Britain, Germany and France to be founding members, is evidence of China's sincerity in promoting common development in the region. Given the attractiveness of the AIIB, nations in Asia should take immediate action to embrace the Belt and Road plan in good faith.

Chinese premier meets Austrian president (Xinhua)
2015-03-27
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with Austrian President Heinz Fischer Thursday. Li said the government attached high importance to relations with Austria, and was ready to achieve new developments on the basis of mutual respect, equality and reciprocity. He called for strengthened cooperation in areas including environmental protection, new energy, renewable energy, agriculture and technology, and upgrades their financial and civil aviation cooperation. Fischer echoed Li saying the relationship with China was very important. He said Austria had an active attitude toward the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and welcomed China-funded banks to expand in Austria. On Tuesday, Austria decided to participate the establishment of the AIIB, making it the seventh European state intending to join the China-initiated multilateral financial institution. With regard to China-EU relations, Li said China was willing to see a united and prosperous EU with a strong and stable Euro, which was in the interests of the multi-polarization and diversification of international reserve money. The further development of China-EU trading relations will help the recovery and stability of the world economy, Li noted. The Austrian president also voiced hope for a further development of EU-China relations. Fischer was invited by Chinese President Xi Jinping for a state visit. He will also attend the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia held in Boao, a coastal town in south China's Hainan province.

Boao part of home court diplomacy (Global Times)
2015-03-27
Analysts believe the 2015 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), which is scheduled to open on Thursday, is another major event in China's home court diplomacy this year, as China becomes more confident and actively involved in international affairs. More than 1,700 delegates from 49 countries are expected to attend the BFA in South China's Hainan Province, including top executives from 65 Fortune 500 companies and more than 80 senior officials. "Boao's status has been increasing over the past years. When it was first launched, BFA was projected as a regional forum focusing on Asian or Southeast Asian economies. But today the forum has become more inclusive with topics expanded to include global issues," said Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of international relations from China Foreign Affairs University. In 2013, the BFA first introduced non-economic topics to its agenda, such as food safety and US-Asia relations. This year's discussion will cover anti-graft topics for the first time in BFA history. Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to attend the forum and deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony on Saturday. It will be Xi's third year to attend the forum after attending in 2010 and 2013. Regional collaboration initiatives, such as the "One Belt, One Road" strategy and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, are said to be the highlights of the four-day forum. "An important aspect of this year's Boao forum is for China to clarify the definition of 'One Belt, One Road' initiatives," said Zhao Lei, a professor from the Institute of International Strategic Studies of the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China. "One Belt, One Road" refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives brought up by President Xi in 2013. "The initiatives are not designed to serve one country. They are seen as a public product [for the international community] that will boost economies and promote social stability in Europe, Asia and Africa. In this sense, we must not let the initiatives be misinterpreted by some, especially not from a political perspective," Zhao told the Global Times. He believes that the forum, together with a string of other diplomatic events in 2014 and 2015, shows that China's diplomacy has entered a new phase. "I would like to consider it as an upgraded version of China's diplomacy. China used to be more passive in international affairs," he said, adding that China has become more active in proposing new initiatives for discussion on the global stage.

Deadlock broken on port project (China Daily)
2015-03-27
China and Sri Lanka have ended a stalemate over a $1.4 billion port project in the island nation's capital of Colombo — the biggest Chinese investment project in the country. The development sees Beijing recovering their ties amid Colombo's policy shift after a leadership reshuffle. During meetings with Chinese leaders in Beijing on Thursday, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena promised to continue the infrastructure project, which was suspended by the country's new administration. President Xi Jinping said China has always seen Sri Lanka as holding an "important diplomatic position in the region", while Premier Li Keqiang called for "consistency and stability of policies" in Sri Lanka. Sirisena, who visited India soon after taking office in January, is making his first trip to China. He said Sri Lanka appreciates China's continued support for the Colombo port project as well as other Chinese investment, adding that his government will take more effective measures to promote cooperation with China. Problems surrounding construction of the port project are "temporary and do not lie with the Chinese side", he said. China, which is sinking millions of dollars into Sri Lanka's infrastructure, is the island's biggest investor. The new Sri Lankan government has ordered a review of the Colombo port project following allegations of wrongdoing that arose since Sirisena took office in January. The suspension triggered concerns from China, which said the project was in line with local laws. Media reports said the commercial losses caused by the suspension could be as high as $380,000 a day. During Thursday's talks, Xi pledged to expand bilateral trade and industrial cooperation with easier funding from the Beijing-led Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The two financial institutions are committed to funding economic development in countries along the New Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Xi also promised to speed up talks on a free trade agreement with Sri Lanka to lower tariffs, and to deepen economic exchanges, especially on health, agriculture, science and technology, tourism and talent training. Liu Xiaoxue, a researcher of South Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Sri Lanka is an important partner in building Beijing's initiative for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is located at a key section on the route linking the resource-rich Gulf of Aden with China's booming coastal cities. Hower, Sri Lanka needs support to rebuild its infrastructure after its civil war, Liu said. "The port project, like many other Chinese investments in the country, is a commercial deal, which means conflicts over the project should be solved through talks," she said. Meanwhile, China and Indonesia issued a joint declaration on deepening ties and signed eight agreements in Beijing on Thursday. They signed one memorandum of understanding on greater cooperation in infrastructure and industry, and another on building a high-speed railway linking the Indonesian capital of Jakarta and Bandung, about 180 km southeast of Jakarta. Others cover wide-ranging areas, including maritime searches, taxation, airspace and cooperation between Chinese and Indonesian enterprises. Xi told his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo before they witnessed the signings that China is willing to use the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Silk Road Fund to take part in Indonesia's development of ports, high-speed railways, airports, shipbuilding and special economic zones in coastal areas. Widodo, making his first state visit to China since taking office in October, said Indonesia welcomes Chinese State-owned and private enterprises to its infrastructure sector and in constructing special economic zones.

 

Domestic Policy

Top meteorologist Zheng Guoguang warns of climate change risks to China (SCMP)
2015-03-23
The mainland's top weather official has issued a stark warning on climate change, saying that rising temperatures could have "huge impacts" on the world's most populous country, state media reported on Sunday. Global climate change would reduce crop yields, lead to "ecological degradation" and create unstable river flows, Xinhua quoted Zheng Guoguang, chief of China's Meteorological Administration, as saying. "As the world warms, risks of climate change and climate disasters to China could become more grave," Zheng said. China is the world's largest source of carbon dioxide emissions which cause climate change. Beijing has said it aims for those emissions to peak "around 2030". Temperature increases on the mainland over the past century had been more extreme than global averages, Zheng added. He described climate change as a "serious threat" to several mega-projects including the vast Three Gorges Dam, a railway connecting Tibet with northwest China, and a huge scheme to divert water from the country's south to its dry north. Zheng called for China to take a "low-carbon development path". But Xinhua also quoted him as saying the potential for wind and solar energy was "limited", without giving details. China and the United States, which together produce around 45 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide, will be key to ensuring a global deal on reducing emissions after 2020 at a Paris summit later this year. The Communist Party has for decades emphasised economic growth, which has caused demand for energy - especially coal - to skyrocket. Coal use grew by an average of 9 per cent each year from 2000 to 2010, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Beijing has pushed for alternative schemes - such as facilities that convert coal into gas - but these have been criticised as resulting in greater emissions. ^ top ^

Chinese premier pledges wider market access, stronger IPR protection (Xinhua)
2015-03-24
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday pledged wider market access while meeting dozens of CEOs from international corporations. "We will continue to expand market access, open the service sector wider, and strengthen intellectual property rights protection to create a stable and transparent policy environment; an efficient and normative administrative environment; and a fair market environment for foreign corporations," Li said. He hoped foreign enterprises could benefit from China's economic growth and realize reciprocity. Li made the remarks while meeting over a hundred CEOs, experts and scholars, who are here for the annual meeting of the China Development Forum. He discussed China's external cooperation, social justice, industrial upgrading, prevention of financial risks, balance between supply and demand, climate change and social construction, and answered questions. Li said China was carrying forward structural reform as the economy enters the "new normal" mode of growth. The government will streamline administration and delegate power; and provide basic living security for the people, while promoting coordinated social and economic development. He welcomed foreign companies to participate in manufacturing industry upgrading and jointly exploit markets of the third parties. The premier also called on other countries to ease restrictions on export of hi-tech products; advocate free trade and investment facility; and jointly oppose trade protectionism. CEO of the Schneider Electric Jean Pascal Tricoire, said the forum was "a unique occasion for companies to understand what is happening in China and to participate in it." He added that what happened in China had a strong impact on the world economy. Other CEOs also expressed willingness to participate in China's reform process and hoped for stable and sustained development. Established in 2000, the China Development Forum serves as a platform for business and academic leaders to interact with China's top decision makers and economic planners. ^ top ^

Political advisors propose law revision for better application of new techs (Xinhua)
2015-03-23
Political advisors on Monday pooled their wisdom to discuss legal revisions that would facilitate the application of scientific and technological achievements. Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, presided over the bi-weekly symposium. According to a statement issued after the meeting, political advisors suggested that the Law on the Application of Scientific and Technological Achievements, enacted in 1996, was not suitable in the current environment. The results of scientific or technological research are not often transformed into marketable products due to policy barriers, they argued. It was suggested that the legal interests of researchers and intellectual property rights should be protected. The law should also encourage businesses to take an active part in research and development, and cooperation with research institutions should be facilitated, the advisors said. ^ top ^

Plan to make capital the only hub of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei project (Global Times)
2015-03-24
The plan of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development project has undergone several amendments to the original draft and stressed that Beijing will be the only core hub of the region, media reported. According to Economy and Nation Weekly, a magazine under the Xinhua News Agency, the development plan, which is expected to be released by the end of March, will map out detailed industrial strategies of different areas in the region. The draft plan originally proposed that Beijing and Tianjin would each have four core functions while Hebei would have five. "The plan stressed that Beijing would be the only hub because too many hubs means no true center," an official who participated in the drafting of the plan told the magazine, adding that Tianjin and Hebei will carry various industrial bases and zones. Beijing's core functions as the center of the nation's politics, culture, international communications and technological innovation remain unchanged. "The new positioning will help make the plan and the functions of the regions clearer and better," Zhang Gui, a professor of regional development at the Hebei University of Technology, told the Global Times Monday. "A hub may appear more superior to a base, but the amendments do not intend to lower a region's status, because the idea of the program is about balancing the differences of the three regions and promoting development through shared resources," Zhang said. The magazine's report said the development plan includes a general layout, a detailed implementation plan and a project list. The plan is highly detailed, including specific plans to relocate certain enterprises or build new transport infrastructure. It also has clear annual timetables and liability rules to push forward the implementation. Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the integration of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region at a seminar on regional development in Beijing in February 2014. The plan aims to relieve pressure on the capital and to boost development in the surrounding regions. However, the release of the development plan has been delayed due to difficulties in positioning the three places and balancing regional interests. ^ top ^

Chinese would consider giving up their car due to traffic and petrol prices, survey suggests (SCMP)
2015-03-25
Up to 30 per cent of mainland car owners would consider giving up their cars if traffic continues to worsen or petrol prices rise sharply, a survey suggests, presenting a challenge for automotive businesses. Global consultancy Bain & Co has found that car ownership, once a symbol of wealth and social status in China, appears to be becoming increasingly less attractive. A Bain survey of 2,100 consumers in five major cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Wuhan found that people were reassessing the value of car ownership because of congestion, with road journeys in China taking twice as long as comparable trips in Germany, according to Pierre-Henri Boutot, a Bain partner. "Increasing income levels in China mean that consumers can afford the comfort of a personal vehicle, yet many are interested in alternatives to car ownership," he said. "The status and flexibility that comes with having a car is, for many, no longer worth the hassle and increasing cost." China has been the world's largest auto market since it surpassed the United States in 2009, buoyed by its rising middle class. But sales growth has slowed. Last year, sales hit 23.5 million units, up 6.9 per cent from 2013, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The year-on-year growth last year dropped by seven percentage points from 13.9 per cent recorded in 2013. Aside from traffic congestion and the price of petrol, road safety issues and the lack of affordable parking spaces were also turn-offs, Bain said. Worsening air quality and road conditions have prompted regional governments to issue multiple regulations to control car ownership, restrict road access and encourage environment-friendly vehicles. In Shanghai, a car buyer has to spend about 80,000 yuan (HK$100,000) to own a car licence plate, in addition to going through a lottery system. "It's not just a matter of the money you want to spend," said Xin Xudong, a would-be car buyer. "You need good luck to win the right to buy a licence plate through the monthly auction. The experience was painful." Raymond Tsang, a Bain partner, said: "Car ownership isn't as attractive, or even necessary, in China as it once was … The shift will force major car companies to think and act more like technologists, marketers and even safety and environmental activists if they are to develop new models of private transportation that are once again attractive and viable for consumers." ^ top ^

Three men executed in China over railway station knife attack that left 31 dead (SCMP)
2015-03-24
The authorities in southwest China on Tuesday executed three men convicted of masterminding a knife attack a year ago that killed 31 people outside a railway station in Kunming. A notice from the Kunming City Intermediate People's Court said Iskandar Ehet, Turgun Tohtunyaz and Hasayn Muhammad were put to death after China's Supreme Court upheld their convictions for the crimes of murder and organising and leading a terrorist organisation. Five knife-wielding assailants hacked 31 people to death and injured 141 on March 1 last year, an act of violence that shook the country as tensions between the Uygur Muslim minority and the majority Han ethnic group spread beyond the Uygur homeland of Xinjiang. Four of the assailants were shot dead at the scene and the fifth, a pregnant woman, Patigul Tohti, was captured alive and later sentenced to life in prison on the charges of joining a terror group and murder. The authorities said Ehet, Tohtunyaz and Muhammad were arrested two days before the attack while attempting to flee across the Chinese border. Having lost contact with the three men, the other five members of the group mounted the attack as planned, the Kunming court said. Beijing has blamed Uygur separatists and religious fanatics for a spate of recent violence that has caused hundreds of deaths over the past year. Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uygur Congress, said he did not believe the defendants had a fair trial. “China is evading the root cause for the problem through the political means of the death sentence,” Dilxat Raxit said. “The defendants were not granted a dignified trial.” Critics say heavy-handed Chinese rule and economic disenfranchisement have pushed some Uygurs towards extremism. ^ top ^

Top prosecutor urges protection of lawyers' rights (Xinhua)
2015-03-24
Top Chinese prosecutor Cao Jianming has called for correction of misconduct plaguing the country's procuratorate including a lack of respect for lawyers' rights. Speaking at a Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) conference, Cao said problems highlighted at the recent national legislative session need to be addressed, such as obstructing lawyers from meeting with their clients, collecting evidence or browsing interrogation records. Prosecutors should give full consideration to lawyers' arguments, especially when they argue for acquittal or lighter charges for suspects. Procuratorates should also designate venues for lawyers to review case records, Cao was quoted as saying by an SPP document released on Tuesday. The top prosecutor also identified long-standing problems including illegal surveillance of suspects' homes, illegal property seizures, and trials conducted without video or audio recording. ^ top ^

China considering laws to attract overseas talent (Global Times)
2015-03-25
China plans to launch a more competitive system to attract overseas talent, which includes regulations and laws to manage foreigners who work in China and their application of permanent residence, the State Council announced. China will push forward legislation on issuing permanent residence to foreigners, lift the threshold for technical talent to apply for permanent residence, and build a mechanism on skilled migration, according to a guideline on accelerating innovation issued by the State Council on Monday. Foreigners who obtain permanent residence in China will be granted the same benefits enjoyed by Chinese citizens when they start innovative businesses, the guideline said. Immigration observers applauded the guideline. "Establishing laws on skilled migration is the best way to attract overseas talent," Wang Huiyao, director general of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), told the Global Times. In the past decades, China's development has been relying on internal migration from less-developed regions to coastal cities. But China's "One Belt and One Road" initiatives require participation of more overseas talent, said Wang. According to the guideline, foreigners who meet the criteria can enjoy preferential policies in applying for work permit, and their accompanying family members will also be given visas and residence permits. The age restrictions will also be lifted for high-level technological talent. An annual report on China's migration status released by the CCG on Thursday said that there are 848,500 foreigners in China in 2013, accounting for 0.06 percent of the total population, while the figure in many Western countries exceeded 10 percent. The guideline said that China also plans to establish a visiting scholar system to attract overseas talent for innovative research. Liu Guofu, an expert on immigration law from the Beijing Institute of Technology, told the Global Times earlier that the current policy fails to keep outstanding foreign students in China. Many of Liu's foreign students are annoyed as they cannot find an internship in China, and it is almost impossible to obtain citizenship by working in China, he said. ^ top ^

Beijing's Winter Olympics bid warms IOC team (China Daily)
2015-03-25
Beijing's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in line with China's regional development strategy has impressed a visiting International Olympic Committee team. On Tuesday, the IOC Evaluation Commission began a five-day inspection tour to Beijing and Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, to inspect proposed venues and assess their ability to jointly host the winter showpiece. The commission is chaired by Russian IOC member Alexander Zhukov. He said the commission is impressed by Beijing's bid. "We are glad to note that you have already incorporated some of the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms into your Games concept," he said. "You have maximized the use of existing world-class sports venues; you have taken advantage of your experience in hosting major international events; and you have identified clear legacy goals," he said. According to Beijing's candidacy file, which was submitted to the IOC in January, the city will "fully mobilize the legacy of the 2008 Summer Olympics" by using 11 existing venues in downtown areas for most of the ice events and will upgrade skiing resorts in Chongli county, Zhangjiakou, for snow sports if the bid is successful. Six new venues, including an indoor speed skating rink in Beijing and a cross-country skiing center in Chongli, will be built under a venue budget totaling $1.92 billion, according to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games Bid Committee. Vice-Premier Liu Yandong, who attended the commission's opening session, said the central government will provide full support for Beijing's bid. As China has launched a strategy to integrate the development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province, Beijing's joint bid with Zhangjiakou will take advantage of the plan's implementation while creating a longterm legacy in return for boosting economic, social and ecological development in the region, Liu said. Zhukov said the commission is keen to have a better understanding of how Beijing's bid aligns with the regional development plan. "This integration will be vital for Beijing to deliver its vision for the Games and to ensure a positive impact for the people of Beijing and the region," he said. The IOC will help with operational costs and contribute about $880 million to the 2022 host city, Zhukov added. On Tuesday, the commission was briefed by the Beijing bid committee on five topics, including the bid's vision, legacy and sustainability. During a tour in the afternoon, commission members inspected five venues in the capital, including the National Stadium-the proposed venue for the opening and closing ceremonies-the National Aquatics Center and the Wukesong Arena, which will host curling and women's ice hockey if the bid succeeds. Zhang Jiandong, vice-president of the bid committee and vice-mayor of Beijing, said the commission members exchanged views with accompanying bid officials, especially on the use of venues after the Games. On Wednesday, the commission will visit Yanqing county in northwest Beijing to inspect proposed Alpine skiing venues before touring Chongli on Thursday to look at the remaining skiing venues. ^ top ^

China heating up twice as fast as rest of the world (China Daily)
2015-03-24
China has been heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world since the middle of the 20th century, said an official of the China Meteorological Administration on March 23, the World Meteorological Day. Zheng Guoguang, head of the CMA, said that the temperature of China has increased by 0.23 degrees Celsius every decade since the middle of the 20th century, almost twice as fast as the rest of the world, and this extra heat has cost around 1 percent of China's GDP, eight times as much as the rest of the world, since 2000. Zheng said the warming climate is posing great challenges to agricultural production, water supplies, and the safety of projects with strategic importance such as the Three Gorges Dam and the South-North Water Diversion Project. The Chinese government has made cutting greenhouse gas emissions a priority in recent years. In November 2014, a national blueprint on adapting to climate change from 2014 to 2020 was issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning agency. It is China's first strategic plan to tackle climate change at a national level. In the blueprint, the NDRC plans to cut CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent by 2025 compared with 2005 levels. In a deal signed with the US in November 2014, China pledged to cap its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and raise the proportion of renewable energy in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent. ^ top ^

China hands US list of corrupt officials alleged to have fled to America (SCMP)
2015-03-26
China's government has provided a list to the United States of Chinese officials suspected of corruption who are believed to have fled there, according to a state-run newspaper. Xu Jinhui, the head of the anti-graft bureau at the state prosecutor, told the China Daily that a priority list of alleged Chinese corrupt officials believed to be at large in the United States has been provided to US authorities. Chinese officials said last year more than 150 economic fugitives, many of them described as corrupt government officials, were in the US. Most suspected corrupt officials overseas either worked for the government or state-owned enterprises and took bribes or embezzled public funds, Xu said, without elaborating. Senior US officials will meet their Chinese counterparts in August to discuss the possibility of repatriating Chinese officials who have fled to America with billions of dollars of allegedly stolen government assets, an American official said last month. Xu added that the Chinese authorities would start legal procedures to confiscate assets overseas, the newspaper said. “Once in possession of solid evidence, we will initiate confiscation procedures according to the law,” he said. The United States may deport to China the ex-wife of a fugitive Chinese official indicted on money laundering and immigration fraud charges, a US prosecutor said last week. There is no extradition treaty between the two countries and Western governments have long been reluctant to hand over suspects because of a lack of transparency and due process in China's judicial system. Liu Dong, head of the Ministry of Public Security's economic crimes division, told the China Daily that the US authorities were prejudiced against the country's legal system and mistakenly believed it would undertake unfair prosecution of suspects. The government has launched a campaign, dubbed Operation Fox Hunt, to hunt down officials and businessmen who have absconded, often taking their ill-gotten gains with them, part of President Xi Jinping's battle against deep-seated graft. The Communist Party's anti-corruption watchdog said last week that 500 suspects were repatriated to China last year, along with more than 3 billion yuan (HK$3.8 billion). The watchdog said that in some instances its officials would give evidence to host countries so suspects could be prosecuted there, or to help with their repatriation. ^ top ^

China to boost "Made in China 2025" strategy (Xinhua)
2015-03-25
China's State Council pledged Wednesday to boost the implementation of the "Made in China 2025" strategy, which will upgrade the manufacturing sector. Accelerated industrialization is supported by the manufacturing sector, according to a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council, presided over by PremierLi Keqiang. The "Made in China 2025" strategy proposed in this year's government work report can empower the manufacturing sector, while boosting "innovated in China," it said, adding that this will help the country achieve a medium-high-level economic growth. On March 5, Premier Li said China will implement the "Made in China 2025" strategy alongside an "Internet Plus" plan, based on innovation, smart technology, the mobile Internet, cloud computing, big data and the Internet of Things. Following this, informatization and industrialization will be unified and priority will be given to the development of ten particular fields, including information technology, new materials and agricultural machinery, the statement said. More efforts will be made to boost the integrated growth of productive services and the manufacturing sector, and improve the levels and core competition of the manufacturing sector, the statement said. Favorable policies will be mapped to help forge an upgraded version of the manufacturing sector, it said. Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, said intelligent manufacturing would shift China from a big manufacturing country to a strong one. Su Bo, vice minister of industry and information technology, said industrial restructuring faced the problem that companies do not own core technologies to innovate, thus, to achieve "Made in China 2025" more innovation was needed. Meanwhile, industrial companies must improve its competition with the help of Internet technology, Miao said. Small companies and start-ups drove innovation and they needed more favorable policies, Miao said. The meeting also discussed the merging processes of the two high speed rail manufacturers -- China North Railway and China South Railway. The merger should follow market rules and the enterprises' will to ensure stable company operation and improve performances, the statement said. The meeting also vowed to boost state-owned enterprise reform and tackle problems like repetitive construction and over competition. ^ top ^

Environment tax law on fast track (Xinhua)
2015-03-26
The State Council, China's cabinet, said on Wednesday that it would review the draft environment tax law "as quickly as possible". The State Council adopted a plan for its legislative work in 2015 at an executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. Economic management, social and cultural development, environmental protection and government reform will be prioritized, according to a statement issued after the meeting. Last November, the draft environment tax law was submitted to the State Council for review, which will levy tax on polluters. The bill will not be tabled at the legislature until the State Council approves it. Sun Youhai, an environment expert with the Counselors' Office of the State Council, told Xinhua earlier this month that the draft law planned to tax sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia nitrogen and fine dust emission as well as activities that cause an increase in chemical oxygen demand, a key index of water quality. The new tax is expected to help deter polluters and fund environmental protection efforts. Also on the fast track are regulations on government investment, affordable urban housing, agricultural irrigation and management of residence permits, the statement said. The State Council pledged at the meeting that the government will try to prevent policies from overpowering the law. It will incrementally reduce the number of regulatory documents issued by ministries and commissions under the State Council and limit government approvals, the statement said. The State Council will also comb through existing regulatory documents and abolish outdated ones. ^ top ^

Chinese court accepts first lawsuit from environmental organization (Xihnua)
2015-03-25
A commonwealth organization has demanded an industrial polluter in Shandong province receive hefty penalties when filing the country's first environmental lawsuit under a new law that came into effect on Jan.1. On Wednesday, the Intermediate People's Court in Dezhou City, east China's Shandong Province, confirmed it accepted the lawsuit lodged by the All-China Environment Federation. In it, the federation demands 30 million yuan (4.8 million U.S. dollars) compensation for damages from air pollution discharged by the Zhenhua Co. Ltd., an affiliated branch of Dezhou Jinghua Group. The case arose after Zhenhua Co., which produces glass, neglected warnings by environmental watchdogs that they were emitting excess sulfur and dust. The company was placed on a blacklist by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in October last year after failing to treat the emission. Experts from the federation received several strong complaints from residents living near the company's plant, which regularly discharges foul-smelling yellow smoke. "Neither fines by the local environmental watchdog nor the blacklist warning by the ministry pushed the polluter to take effective measures in the pollution control. The litigation is a new attempt to check headstrong violators like Zhenhua," said Ma Yong, a litigation director with the federation. It is the first case after amendments to the environment protection law were enacted by China's national legislature in April 2014. The new law makes it much easier for environmental NGOs to file lawsuits against polluters for public good. The new environment law must be a powerful, effective tool to control pollution instead of being "as soft as cotton candy", Premier Li Keqiang said while speaking at a press conference following the annual national legislative session which concluded last week. Fu Qiang, a lawyer with the Shandong Pengfei Law Firm, said big industrial polluters are often protected by the local government, which makes pollution control difficult. Non-governmental organizations will play a bigger role in representing public interests for environmental cases in the future. The federation's involvement has also triggered more government efforts. The Dezhou municipal government urged Zhengzhou Co. to immediately overhaul emission treatment facilities to meet pollution control requirements before the end of the month. Otherwise, it would be ordered to suspend production on April 1. ^ top ^

Lawyers demand more autonomy for bar associations as country pushes for rule of law (Global Times)
2015-03-25
China's current leadership has enacted several measures to ensure lawyers' ability to effectively defend their clients. However, some local government officials still see lawyers as troublemakers that must be controlled, allegedly imposing restrictions on them by manipulating lawyers' associations. The associations have - encouraged by the central government - redoubled their efforts to protect the lawyers rights and interests. The success of judicial reform largely lies in the development of the legal profession, experts say. Despite facing the risk of their law licenses being revoked, five lawyers from Southwest China's Yunnan Province jointly released an open letter in which they publicly declared that they were quitting their local lawyers' association. In the letter they accused the lawyers' association of failing to safeguard lawyers' rights and interests and of actively obstructing them from defending their clients. According to the law regulating the activities of lawyers in China, all lawyers and law firms must join their local lawyers' association. The law says that the associations should be self-regulatory social organizations. But some lawyers have complained that in some places, local associations lack democratic elections and financial transparency, and even turn a blind eye when lawyers' rights are infringed. "The major problem is that lawyers associations are still manipulated by the authorities. They are yet to be non-governmental," Wang Liqian, one of the five lawyers and the director of the Lianyu Law Firm based in Zhaotong, Yunnan Province, told the Global Times. As these local organizations are supposed to examine and regulate lawyers and law firms, too much government interference will affect the ability of lawyers to defend their clients and may even cause miscarriages of justice, Wang said. Lü Hongbing, who has been a vice president of the All China Lawyers Association since 2008, refuted the accusations and said that some lawyers misunderstand the government's role in managing lawyers' associations. "Just like other industrial associations, lawyers' associations also need the supervision and guidance of the government," Lü told the Global Times. Reactions to the five lawyers' move have been mixed. "Some complaints are understandable but openly quitting is not wise. Most provincial-level associations are separated from government justice organs. They hold democratic elections and their financial auditing is made public," Xu Jian, dean of the Renmin University of China's law college, told the Global Times. "As in other countries, it is mandatory that lawyers join such associations. If there is no organization to punish wrongdoings, the growth of the whole industry will be damaged," Lü stated. The government has made efforts to show lawyers that it is concerned about their rights. In the work reports of Supreme People's Court (SPC) and Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) delivered at the recent annual two legislative sessions, chief justice Zhou Qiang and Procurator-General Cao Jianming mentioned "lawyer" a total of 25 times, many more than ever before, and pledged to protect lawyers' rights and interests and improve their occupational environment. "Judicial irregularities like restricting lawyers' rights take place from time to time," Cao said. "Measures should be introduced to ensure the right of lawyers to practice, to speed up the building of service platforms for them, to provide them with convenience and to help them play the full role of a lawyer," Zhou said in the report. Xu said that lawyers are a vital part of the country's political and legal systems, and the democratization of the lawyer management system will drive the rule of law. Interfering officials Restrictions on the rights to investigate, collect evidence, meet with detained clients, and read case records have long been occupational barriers for lawyers in China. In some cases, lawyers were allegedly beaten or driven out of courts during hearings. To the disappointment of lawyers, some local lawyers' associations have failed to respond to complaints about such incidents. "Last year during litigation, I was assaulted by police officers, my cameras were destroyed and my audio recorder was seized. I reported these offenses to the district, municipal and national-level lawyers' associations, but none of them responded," said Cheng Hai, a lawyer from Beijing Wutian Law Firm, who represents administrative cases such as when individuals pursue equal access to education or seek to publicize officials' assets. Lü said that they would try to respond to any complaint regarding the infringement of lawyers' rights. The Shanghai Lawyers Association, where he was president from 2005 to 2008, has dealt with a total of 96 complaints from lawyers in the past four years, according to Lü. Some lawyers have complained that lawyers' associations encourage them not to take sensitive cases, as if they did they may not pass the association's annual review. This would mean that they would officially be an "unqualified" lawyer and would likely find it very difficult to attract clients. Lin Zhong, a lawyer from Heilongjiang Province, was quoted as saying by the Southern Weekly in a November report that he received such a warning from his local association after he accepted a sensitive administrative lawsuit. Mo Shaoping, a renowned criminal defense lawyer claimed he had a similar experience to Lin, and said establishing lawyers' associations as independent social organizations is an international practice. "But in China, some lawyers' associations are controlled by the local justice authorities. And its director or secretary is appointed by a senior official from the justice administration," Mo told the Global Times. Thus the association becomes an accessory of local administration, which helps the government crack down on lawyers who are insubordinate, he said. Chi Susheng, a Heilongjiang-based lawyer and former National People's Congress (NPC) deputy, agreed with Mo's sentiments. "Sometimes, an association's secretary is appointed by the justice organs and they have the real power, instead of the association head chosen by the members," Chi told the Global Times, citing an experience she had when the Heilongjiang prevented her from attending a seminar on criminal law in Taiwan. "I later learned that the association's head and deputy heads all agreed that I should go, but the secretary appointed by the provincial justice department didn't want me to go," she said. Lü denied these claims, saying that all personnel appointments and other decisions are deliberated on by associations' congresses through legal procedures. "And from my personal experience in past decade, I have never encountered any occasion in which associations have intervened in lawyers' legitimate practices," said Lü. Wang Liqian said the Yunnan Lawyers Association approached them soon after they issued the letter on the Internet. "They just argued that the association had done nothing wrong, but they didn't ask us to withdraw the letter," he said. The Global Times requested an interview with the association's president but received no response. "The problem has existed for many years. We raised the issue now as we see the hope from the resolution of the new leadership. And we hope our move can promote some changes," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Xi wants public trust in justice boosted (China Daily)
2015-03-26
Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that public confidence in the judicial system should be the ultimate gauge of the effectiveness of reform in this sector. The president was speaking during a collective study session of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee's Political Bureau on deepening judicial reform on Tuesday afternoon. Xi said that building a fair, efficient and authoritative judicial system is integral to the modernization of the state governance and governance capabilities. He acknowledged that malpractice still existed, citing injustice and wrongful convictions. He added that if these problems were not addressed in a timely manner, they would hinder the progress of the rule of law, and damage social fairness and justice. The country will not falter in advancing judicial reform and realizing social justice, he said. The people have the final say on the effectiveness of judicial reform, Xi said, adding that the reform was supposed to boost public confidence and to solve problems. Public confidence and satisfaction are the evaluation criteria. Xi identified the judicial accountability system as being crucial to reform. Judges and prosecutors must be held accountable for cases they handle for their entire lifetime, and their power should be checked and supervised. He urged the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee and other authorities to meticulously plan and implement concrete and effective reform measures. Xi also urged localities and departments to implement measures, and to ensure reviews are undertaken to identify potential flaws. Moreover, Xi underscored the Party's authority as the leadership represents the basic characteristics and political advantages of the socialist judicial system. "With judicial reform, we are still walking the road of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics," he said. Xi also warned against copying the judicial systems of other countries, while acknowledging the need to learn from them. Judicial reform should reflect the principles of coupling power with responsibility, checks of power, transparency and justice, as well as respect for procedures, Xi said. ^ top ^

Beijing makes its case for 2022 Olympic Games (China Daily)
2015-03-26
Beijing announced on Wednesday that all key infrastructures in the metropolis and surrounding areas are in place to meet the transportation, accommodation and tourism demands of the 2022 Winter Olympics. Thanks to the region's experience and facilities in hosting international tourists and various major events, the key infrastructure needed to host the 2022 Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games already exists and is ready to serve, the Beijing 2022 bidding committee confirmed, while presenting plans for accommodation, transport and media operations to the visiting International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission. Last year, Beijing welcomed more than 260 million domestic and international tourists exploring the Chinese capital's art, cuisine and entertainment scene, according to the bid committee. Xiang Ping, deputy director of Beijing Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, emphasized on Wednesday that there is no need for new hotels to be built for the Winter Olympics should the bid succeed. "The IOC requirement for accommodation can be fully satisfied with our existing room supply, which will contribute to making Beijing 2022 truly sustainable and economical," said Xiang. Beijing plans to host the games in three separate hubs, connecting the venues by quick and efficient transport. An integral part of the country's Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Intercity Rail Master Plan, the construction of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway began in 2014 and will be fully operational by early 2019. The railway is being constructed independently as a regional development plan regardless of the Olympic bid. The travel time from Beijing to co-host city Zhangjiakou will be cut to just 50 minutes by rail from the current two hours by cars. The high-speed service will be free of charge for all accredited Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games client groups, ticket-holding spectators and the extensive games workforce. Vitally, travel time from the Olympic Village to any Olympic venue in each of the three zones in Beijing, Yanqing and Chongli will be within just 5 to 15 minutes to ensure the maximum convenience for athletes and help them perform to their very best. Multiple motorways, an extensive green public transport system and one of the major airport hubs in Asia all combine to create an integrated transport plan that would provide excellent connectivity, punctuality, reliability and flexibility in the run up to and during the games, the bid committee argued. Northwest Beijing's Yanqing county, which would only be 20 minutes from downtown on high-speed bullet train, registers a steady annual tourism growth of 4.3 percent with hotel and services development boosted by preparations for the 2019 World Horticultural Expo. Zhangjiakou, Heibe province, which is proposed to host most of the skiing events in 2022, is a developing winter sports destination which has attracted hotel and resort investment and has been seeing an average annual growth of 28.2 percent in hotel guest nights over the past three years. Beijing bid committee underlined China's long experience in delivering state-of-the-art media facilities and managing complex media and broadcast operations for large international sports events, including the Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Beijing bid committee on Wednesday also explained how it will fully utilize experience and facilities of managing complex media and broadcast operations for large international events such as the 2008 Summer Olympics for the 2022 Winter Games, helping fans all over the world enjoy the games and feel part of the Chinese New Year Spring Festival celebration, which will fall during the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. The IOC evaluation commission heard plans to host both the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and Main Press Centre (MPC) within the China National Convention Centre (CNCC), which served as IBC for the 2008 Olympics. Without the need for additional construction or alteration, the CNCC already fully meets the IOC's space and technical requirements, including the broadcast compound and satellite farm. It has a large number of experienced staff who worked on previous games and other major international events. Yanqing and Zhangjiakou will feature their own dedicated Mountain Media Centers, environmentally-friendly temporary facilities that will be dismantled and removed after the games. Both centers will be located within walking distance of the venues. Xu Jicheng, deputy director of communications of the Beijing 2022 bid committee, added: "Beijing 2022 will offer excellent and diverse media accommodation options adjacent to the venues and the media centers in mountain and city locations for all budgets and needs. The select media hotels are ideally located and perfectly integrated with the media and public transport systems to provide the media an easy and pleasant overall games and work experience." On Wednesday afternoon, the IOC evaluation commission delegates visited proposed sites and venues in Yanqing, which would host alpine skiing, luge, bobsleigh and skeleton events. ^ top ^

Beijing bans burning leaves for cleaner air (Global Times)
2015-03-26
Beijing has completely banned the common trash-disposal practice of burning leaves, the city's landscape and forestry bureau told Xinhua on Thursday. The bureau said they hoped to reduce air pollution and risks of fire by prohibiting disposal of leaves, weeds and other plant wastes in gardens and mountain areas via bonfires or incinerators. Beijing banned open-air burning of straw, leaves and weeds in 2014 in its battle with the choking air pollution. In the latest ban, issued earlier this month, the bureau threatened to punish gardening administrations if their workers violate the rules. It said Beijing churns out three million tonnes of plant waste each year. Eco-friendly disposal and recycling methods, including turning the waste into fertilizer or bio-fuel, were required. ^ top ^

China dealing death blow to funeral pollution (Global Times)
2015-03-26
An official report has documented how local governments are pumping millions of yuan into making funeral services less polluting. Cremation is a major source of air pollution, so governments are upgrading cremation equipment to lower its emissions, according to the report, released on Wednesday. It said that Fujian, Shaanxi and Hebei respectively invested 62.5 million yuan (about 10 million US dollars), 20 million yuan and 14.54 million yuan to upgrade their facilities in 2014. Beijing, Jiangsu and Henan also improved their cremators. Li Bosen, editor in chief of the report, said governments are also discouraging residents from the traditional practice of building large, extravagant tombs for deceased family members and instead encouraging them to choose more environmentally-friendly practices such as tree burial. The report was jointly published by the 101 Research Institute of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Social Sciences Academic Press. ^ top ^

'Sky Net' cast over corrupt officials abroad (Global Times)
2015-03-27
China is stepping up its anti-graft campaign by launching a campaign code named "Sky Net" to nab fugitive corrupt officials, the country's top anti-graft body announced Thursday. The new operation, set to begin in April, follows the previous Fox Hunt operation in 2014 in which 680 officials who fled overseas were arrested. The main thrust of the new operation will be to capture corrupt officials, crack down on fake passports, bust underground banks, recover assets involved in criminal cases and persuade fugitive suspects to return home, said a statement on the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The tasks will be undertaken by the Organizational Department of the CPC Central Committee, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and the People's Bank of China, according to a meeting of the central authority's anti-graft coordination group. The MPS will continue to head the Fox Hunt campaign in 2015 as part of the Sky Net operation. The far-reaching campaign against corruption began in late 2012, with close to 100 officials of governor or ministerial level being held for disciplinary or criminal investigations. Efforts are now ramping up to find and bring back suspects who fled the country, often with huge amounts of State assets. Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed in January to strengthen efforts to chase down fugitive officials and their assets, "placing a net in the sky and on the ground, making sure corrupt officials can't hide in safe havens." Central and local authorities will closely coordinate and cast the net wide to hold the corrupt officials responsible, Huang Shuxian, deputy head of the CCDI and director of the central authority's anti-graft coordination group, said at the Thursday meeting. "The ultimate goal is to build a system to prevent corruption, so Sky Net isn't just a campaign, but also a big step toward building that system which will destroy the fantasies of officials that they can be secure in other countries," said Cai Zhiqiang, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. Local governments at every level must also participate in the new campaign. From Tuesday to Friday, 130 officials from courts, prosecutors, public security departments and disciplinary inspection committees from some provinces and regions gathered in Beijing to receive group training on how to capture fugitive suspects and recover transferred assets. The officials were taught techniques on how to persuade fugitive officials and their families to return home and surrender, a lecturer at the training course told the Global Times on condition of anonymity. Experience was accumulated after operation Fox Hunt last year when some 390 of 680 captured officials voluntarily surrendered, the lecturer said. Officials studied nine methods, which include extradition, persuading officials to return and suing them in local courts, he added. Huang Feng, director of the Institute for International Criminal Law at the College for Criminal Law Science in Beijing, told the Global Times that local officials should be motivated to provide evidence and other materials needed for repatriation. While China has extradition treaties with over 40 countries, fugitives can only be brought to trial in nations with no treaty, such as the US, if the evidence is sufficient to satisfy local statutes. China recently handed the US government a priority list of over 150 high-profile fugitive officials in the US with hopes of bringing them back to China for trial. US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday that the Chinese side agreed to supply more evidence regarding the priority fugitive cases "so that we can increase our focus on the location and prosecution or removal of these fugitives." Central authorities will handle international negotiations under the auspices of Sky Net and will lay down the general framework for lawsuits and repatriation, said Huang. Officials at local levels are responsible for laying the groundwork for individual cases. This will include evidence gathering or negotiating with the fugitives or their families to return. On March 18, the US Justice Department indicted fugitive Chinese official Qiao Jianjun and ex-wife Zhao Shilan on immigration and money-laundering charges. This is the first indictment of a fugitive Chinese official since 2006 in the US. Qiao, a former grain reserve director at the State-owned China Grain Reserves Corporation, fled with 300 million yuan and is still at large. Zhao is under arrest without bail. Gao Bo, an anti-graft expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that this case shows that China-US anti-corruption has been enhanced, and sends a clear signal that the US is not a safe haven for Chinese corrupt officials. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai may raise cap for housing fund loans (China Daily)
2015-03-24
Shanghai is considering raising the ceiling for housing loans under its provident fund by as much as 75 percent, the Shanghai Securities News reported on Tuesday. Currently, an individual in Shanghai can borrow as much as 400,000 yuan ($64,376) from the provident fund to buy a home, while a family can borrow up to 800,000 yuan. The local government is considering raising the lending cap to 700,000 yuan and 1.2 million yuan, respectively, the newspaper said, citing unidentified officials at the Shanghai Provident Fund Management Center. On March 20, Chen Zhenggao, head of China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, called on local governments to make good use of housing provident funds to help low- and mid-income residents improvement their housing conditions and promote healthy development of the real estate market. China's property sales in the first two months of 2015 dropped by the most in three years amid a glut of housing supply, and real estate investment growth eased, dragging on the world's second-largest economy. ^ top ^

Chinese Ebola human vaccine declared safe and effective (Global Times)
2015-03-27
China's early trial of an Ebola vaccine studied and developed by Chinese scientists has proven its safety, according to a paper published on The Lancet, one of the world's leading medical journals. The findings suggest the high-dose vaccine is safe and "robustly immunogenic," its developers said Wednesday in the journal, adding that one shot of the high-dose vaccine could mount a "glycoprotein-specific humoral and T-cell response" against the Ebola virus in 14 days. While early vaccines were based on a virus strain from 1976, the study marked the first Ebola vaccine that matched the 2014 West African Ebola virus. The vaccine was jointly developed by the biotechnology institute of the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and Tianjin CanSino Biotechnology. The team conducted the trial on 120 healthy Chinese volunteers who were randomly assigned a placebo, low dose or high dose of the vaccine. According to the study, the new trial vaccine is stable and much easier to store or transport in tropical areas with inadequate cold-chain capacity, such as West Africa. The outbreak of Ebola virus has been ongoing for about 16 months in West Africa. More than 9,500 people across the three hardest-hit West African countries - Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia - have died from the disease. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

HK Chief Executive calls for forbearance towards mainland tourists (China Daily)
2015-03-23
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is calling for patience with the growing number of tourists coming from the Chinese mainland. Speaking ahead of an Executive Council meeting, Leung said the rising number of tourists has added pressure to certain districts. However, he stressed that Hong Kong is a peaceful society where the law is upheld and no one would like to see the commotions happened in the past few weeks in the New Territories, referring to the protests against mainland parallel traders. He said this will not do any good to the society's image and economy. Leung hoped that local people could be patient with the issue, which the special administrative region has reflected it to the central government. Hong Kong's Travel Industry Council has estimated that the total number of tourists this year could drop by up to 50 percent due to anti-parallel trader protests directed at mainlanders. ^ top ^

CY Leung condemns anti-parallel goods protests in Legco Q&A session (SCMP)
2015-03-26
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying condemned recent protests against mainland Chinese tourists and parallel traders as he appeared before the Legislative Council this morning at a question and answer session with lawmakers. Leung said the demonstrations were against the law and had a negative impact on Hong Kong's reputation overseas. "We totally understand the impact brought by the [parallel traders] to local residents, but the protests over the past few weeks where some protesters attacked shops and tourists... are absolutely unacceptable," he said. "It is not only illegal but has severely damaged Hong Kong's international image. I condemn such acts." Leung added that the problem of an influx of mainland tourists had to be dealt with carefully as it would affect the livelihoods of many grass roots citizens working in the tourism industry. On political reform, Leung said the government would release the report of the second consultation and a concrete proposal by next month and called on Legco to vote on it before its summer recess. The Legco question-and-answer session was the first to be held since the annual session of the national legislature ended earlier this month. During the annual session, various Beijing officials commented on Hong Kong issues, including political reform and the controversy surrounding parallel goods trading. Pan-democratic lawmakers chanted slogans and accused Leung of “selling fake universal suffrage” ahead of the session this morning. About 20 pan-democrats gathered outside the Legco chamber to shout slogans at Leung, who walked past them and ignored their calls for a debate on political reform. In the chamber, Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan asked: “Mr 689 … did you tell the central government that Hong Kong people want genuine universal suffrage, and want it to scrap its decision on [Hong Kong political reform] on August 31 [last year]?” Opponents of the chief executive call him “689” in reference to the number of votes he received from the 1,200-member Election Committee when he was elected in 2012. Leung answered that: “[The government] has truthfully reflected to the central government on all proposals, whether it fits the Basic Law or not … But different societies have different 'genuine universal suffrages' … and the genuine universal suffrage of Hong Kong, is the universal suffrage designed according to the Basic Law and the [national legislature's] decision,” in a veiled attack on the pan-democrats' electoral proposals that were criticised by officials for deviating from the city's mini-constitution, the Basic Law. When Wong followed-up and asked whether Myanmar, North Korea and the Chinese Communist Party are implementing “genuine universal suffrage”, Leung sidestepped and reiterated the Basic Law's stipulation that the chief executive candidate shall be nominated by a committee when universal suffrage is achieved. Lawmaker Aron Kwok Wai-keung, of the Federation of Trade Unions, criticised Leung for failing to legislate standard working hours for the city's employees, as promised in his manifesto three years ago. "You have said you would not rule out seeking a second term... how should we treat your next manifesto then?" he asked. Leung's reply, that the legislation of standard working hours was a very complicated issue on which the government still needs time to garner views from different sectors, failed to impress the lawmaker representing the labour sector. "The government has gauged public opinion [on the matter] for two years already... I don't think the government is trying to listen to people's views but to drag out the issue," Kwok said. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macau leader Fernando Chui vows to strengthen casino regulation (SCMP)
2015-03-24
Macau should steel itself for a more regulated gambling industry, the city's leader has said at a time when operators are facing the double challenge of an unprecedented decline in business and the government's review of casino licences, starting this year. In his policy address, Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on also urged casinos, the mainstay of the local economy, to focus more on non-gaming businesses in an apparent response to Beijing's repeated demands for diversification. Chui's annual agenda-setting speech yesterday came against the backdrop of months of declines in year-on-year gaming revenues that are widely attributed to the mainland's anti-corruption drive. He conceded the planned industry "adjustments" could spawn unemployment and that, worse, public safety "will be influenced by more unstable factors" amid the changing times. But he was confident the sector would not suffer further under tightened regulation. "The Macau government's supervision of the gaming industry is not excessive. Nor will it be excessive in future," Chui said. "We will remain cautiously optimistic [about its prospects]." Measures would be rolled out if needed to prevent unemployment from spilling into other industries, he said. Public policy observers believe any effect of the intended adjustments on the job market will not be significant. "The only issue is that wages may go down in the long run," said Eilo Yu Wing-yat, an associate professor at the University of Macau's government and public administration department. Sunny Chan Cheuk-wah, president of the Macau Public Policy Association, noted that several construction projects were under way. "As casinos release some employees, other sectors will absorb them," he said. He expected regulation to affect more the casino owners than the ordinary people. "It may damage the profits of the concessionaires, but not the public." The shifting winds in Macau gel with Beijing's calls for the former Portuguese enclave to shake off its heavy reliance on gaming to fund the public coffers. Casino revenues last month halved from a year ago, the biggest drop on record and the ninth straight month of decline, despite the Lunar New Year holiday that would usually see mainland gamblers show up in spades. But Macau's rapid growth in the past decade had equipped the city financially to brave challenges arising from economic diversification, Chui said. On the possible regulatory changes, he said new applications for gambling tables would be strictly assessed, and that casinos might be made to report to the government regularly on their progress on diversification. The licence review will consider the proportion of non-gaming elements in a casino's business and whether it sources products locally. Six contracts will expire between 2020 and 2022. The government has not said how many licences it will grant or whether sub-concessionaires - whose licences are attached to those of concessionaires - will finally get their own licences. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

KMT may not choose leadership candidate next month (Global Times)
2015-03-23
Taiwan's ruling party Kuomintang (KMT) does not have to come up with its nominee for the 2016 leadership election in April, KMT chairman Eric Chu said Saturday, ignoring concerns over who will represent the party in its rivalry with the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). At a gathering with young KMT councilors in Kaohsiung, Chu said the KMT usually decides its candidate for the leadership election between April and June. Chu said he has taken note of the petition by more than 30 KMT lawmakers urging him to run for the 2016 leadership election. To date, there has been no KMT party member announcing their bid to seek a party candidacy endorsement and the KMT has yet to decide the date and procedure for its primary. Taiwan's leadership and legislative elections will be held on Jan. 16 next year. Chu, 53, replaced Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou as KMT chairman on Jan. 19. Whoever becomes the KMT nominee will have to run against Tsai Ing-wen, DPP chair, who has been nominated by DPP as the party's candidate for the leadership election. Tsai, 59, lost to incumbent leader Ma Ying-jeou in her 2012 race. ^ top ^

 

Economy

New China-led AIIB may work with ADB (SCMP)
2015-03-23
China is discussing ways in which a new regional lender being pushed by Beijing can cooperate with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said on Sunday as he sought to fend off concerns that the two banks would become rivals. Some 27 countries have signed up to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a US$50 billion fund due to begin operations at the end of the year providing project loans to developing countries. At least eight more countries may join the lender by the March 31 deadline, Jin Liqun, secretary general of the interim secretariat that is establishing the AIIB, told a panel at a conference in Beijing. But the AIIB is seen by some as a challenge to the Manila-based ADB and World Bank, with the United States urging countries to think twice before signing up. Lou described the relationship between the AIIB and the ADB as "complementary", saying he and ADB president Takehiko Nakao had discussed how the two could cooperate. "We discussed what safeguard standards we should adopt. I don't agree [with suggestions] which one is the best," Lou said. ^ top ^

World Bank welcomes AIIB initiative (Xinhua)
2015-03-23
The World Bank welcomes the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and will closely cooperate with the China-proposed institution, World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati said Sunday. "Any new initiative that will mobilize funding in order to fill infrastructure gap is certainly welcome. World Bank really welcomes the AIIB initiative," Indrawati told Xinhua in an exclusive interview. She dismissed worries that the AIIB will compete against World Bank or existing regional development banks, saying that the global need of infrastructure is huge and the market is large enough. "What's important is whether you are going to be able to match the funding with the need of infrastructure," said Indrawati. "We will definitely open for cooperation with AIIB. Even now, we are working very closely in the beginning and looking at the setting, principle and framework of this institution," she said. She said World Bank will work to support and make sure that AIIB can live up to the expectation of many countries in the world who really want to see infrastructure to develop in a better and sustainable way. "By working with us, it's going to show and prove that they (AIIB) are adopting the same principle like other international institutions, for example, like World Bank," said Indrawati. The AIIB aims to become an international financial institution providing support to infrastructure projects in Asia, and is expected to be established by the end of this year. The bank has had 27 prospective founding members. Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland have applied to join the AIIB as a founding member. ^ top ^

China to unleash new growth vitality for "new normal" economy (Xinhua)
2015-03-22
China will work to unleash new growth vitality for its economy, which is under increasing downward pressure, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Sunday. "New normal" calls for new thinking and new measures, Zhang said during the opening ceremony of the ongoing China Development Forum. He called for more efforts to actively adjust to and lead the "new normal". China will deepen reform to unleash, to the greatest extent, new growth vitality from entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity, while speeding up the formation of new engines for maintaining a medium-high level of growth rate and moving toward a medium-high level of development, he said. The vice premier also highlighted the role of opening up to the outside world, saying it is a major engine for achieving continuous prosperity of the Chinese economy and also an inevitable requirement for China and the world to share development opportunities. China will explore new moves to make its economy more open and create a stable, fair, transparent and predictable business environment, he said. China's proposals to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, known as the "Belt and Road" initiatives, and set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund have been met with positive responses from a number of countries, he said. All countries are welcome to join in the building of the Belt and the Road so as to achieve mutually beneficial cooperation and common development, Zhang said. For macroeconomic policies, Zhang said, as the downward pressure on China's economy has somewhat increased, China will continue to implement proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy while putting more focus on targeted regulation. ^ top ^

China-led AIIB 'remains open' as US signals desire to team up (SCMP)
2015-03-24
China said on Monday that it remained open to countries keen to join its new development bank after reports emerged that the US had made a policy U-turn and now wanted to cooperate with the Beijing-led institution. The United States, worried about China's growing diplomatic clout, had urged countries to think twice about joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, considered by some as a challenge to the World Bank and the Manila-based Asian Development Bank. But The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that US Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs Nathan Sheets as saying: "The US would welcome new multilateral institutions that strengthen the international financial architecture." Sheets told the Journal that co-financing projects with existing institutions like the World Bank or the ADB would help ensure the AIIB complemented rather than competed with them. Despite US misgivings, Britain said this month it would join the AIIB. France, Germany and Italy quickly followed. Beijing touts the US$50 billion bank as a tool to help meet gaps in financing needs for regional development in Asia. Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said yesterday that China upheld an open, inclusive attitude in the AIIB's building and operation. "China welcomes interested countries to join the bank," Xinhua quoted Hong as saying. Jin Liqun, secretary general of the AIIB's interim multilateral secretariat expects as many as 35 countries to become the bank's prospective founding members by the end of the month, when applications are due. Indonesian Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro yesterday said Jakarta would compete with Beijing to host the AIIB headquarters. ^ top ^

China eyes innovation in face of economic "new normal" (Xinhua)
2015-03-23
A document, co-published by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, China's cabinet, on Monday underscored the role of innovation-driven development amid the economic "new normal" of slower growth. A government work report, delivered by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on March 5, highlighted the "twin engines" that would drive development, namely popular entrepreneurship and mass innovation paired with increased supplies of public goods and services. The growth target for 2015 was set at "approximately 7 percent," down from 7.5 percent in 2014, when the economy grew 7.4 percent, the lowest pace since 1990. Monday's document said that all psychological and institutional obstacles must be broken to accelerate innovation-driven development to ensure mass innovation is brought into full play. An institutional and legal framework, conducive to innovation-driven development, should be established by 2020, the document continued. Such a framework would allow free movement of talent, capital, technology and knowledge, thus, encouraging coordinated innovation and enhancing efficiency. In particular, the document promised to step up intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and to further open up industries to market competition. Anti-monopoly enforcement will also be enhanced to allow small- and medium-sized enterprises to bloom, it read, weeks after Chinese authorities imposed a record fine of 6.09 billion yuan (994 million U.S. dollars) on mobile chip maker Qualcomm following an anti-trust probe. Meanwhile, enterprises should play a leading role in technological innovation and application, the document read. National innovation programs should consult enterprises more, although "strategic needs" must also be taken into account, it said, adding that innovative enterprises could enjoy favorable tax policies and privileges. The document also pledged to facilitate the progression of inventions by research institutes and universities to commercial realization. Rather than profits being channeled to the central treasury, research establishments could retain all income to award scientists and fund future research projects. Meanwhile, researchers should be awarded no less than 50 percent of the transfer or license income, or with company stocks and dividends to provide further innovation incentives. Enhanced S&T innovation: The document called for further relaxation on foreigners with technological talent applying for permanent residence permits and research into a new system for them to get Chinese citizenship. It was noted that the age limit could be lifted for foreigners who have high-level science and technology (S&T) innovation capacities, and high-caliber foreigners with permanent residence permits could enjoy the same treatment as Chinese nationals when founding S&T enterprises. Meanwhile, human resources service providers in China were encouraged to partner with foreign counterparts and even establish branches overseas. "Research institutes are encouraged to arrange programs independently, and the academic autonomy of higher education and research institutes as well as the rights to choose research directions individually will be expanded," it said. The document noted that both basic and advanced technological research will be subjected to peer evaluations, and key factors will include "research quality, originality and practical values." Trumpeting "a culture that encourages innovation and tolerates failure," the document urged universities to involve enterprises in jointly enrolling students and honing their skills while widening international cooperation and learning from leading overseas counterparts. "Regulations will be drafted on the opening-up of state-level science and technology projects to encourage foreign research institutes to take part in national science and technology projects," it said. While urging Chinese institutes to actively participate in major international S&T projects, the document vowed that projects concerning basic and global topics would be initiated to pool the wisdom of leading scientists across the world. ^ top ^

Beijing vows 'open attitude' as US shifts on AIIB (Global Times)
2014-03-24
China has vowed an open and inclusive attitude and welcomes interested countries to participate in its planned Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the foreign ministry said on Monday. "The AIIB will draw upon the sound practices of existing multilateral development banks and set up a high standard and feasible safeguard policies," Hong Lei, a foreign ministry spokesperson, told reporters at a Monday briefing. The response came after the US reportedly proposed cooperation between the China-led bank with US-backed institutions. "The US would welcome new multilateral institutions that strengthen the international financial architecture," Nathan Sheets, US Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. "Co-financing projects with existing institutions like the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank would help ensure that high-quality, time-tested standards are maintained," Sheets said, adding that the AIIB would help meet major infrastructure-investment gaps if the AIIB could adopt the same standards. The US had taken a negative attitude toward the $50 billion bank initiative proposed by China in October 2014 to fund infrastructure projects in Asia, according to previous media reports. "The softened attitude toward the AIIB shows that the US is becoming pragmatic," Gong Jiong, an associate professor at the Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times on Monday. Several European countries - including the UK, Switzerland and Luxemburg - have signed up as AIIB founding members since March 18. Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso signaled for the first time on Friday that Tokyo could be part of the AIIB if the new bank can guarantee a credible mechanism for providing loans, but top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the government remains cautious over his country's participation, Reuters reported. The bank will have more than 35 prospective founding members by the deadline, Jin Liqun, secretary-general of the Multilateral Interim Secretariat for Establishing the AIIB, said at the China Development Forum held on Sunday. "The US is aware that it cannot stop others from participating, which is beneficial to the AIIB. With the greater participation of financial powers like Switzerland, the AIIB will have more credibility to facilitate bond sales in the future," Ding Yifan, a research fellow at the Development Research Center of the State Council, told the Global Times on Monday. "However, it may be difficult for the US to join, considering that its Republican-dominated Congress might not approve its participation," he noted. Instead of being a rival, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei emphasized on Friday that the AIIB will complement other financial institutions. World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati said in an interview with the Xinhua News Agency on Sunday that the World Bank and the AIIB are working "very closely" in the beginning and looking at the AIIB's setting, principles and framework. Other leading global lenders, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have also said they welcome collaboration with the new bank to fill Asia's infrastructure gap. In a statement issued after she met Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Monday, IMF head Christine Lagarde hailed Beijing's "impressive efforts" to reform and said she welcomes China's creation of a new infrastructure bank. Lagarde also said earlier at the China Development Forum that IMF would cooperate with the new bank. Lou insisted on Sunday that some current mechanisms and principles proposed by the West may not be the best practices and China will take the requests of developing countries into consideration in the future. "The AIIB can work with other institutions in various ways including cross-holding and project development, as there will be some overlapping of project operations. But we are in no position to accept supervision from others as we are in a peer relationship with other multinational institutions," Huang Wei, deputy director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday. ^ top ^

Tomorrow belongs to China's 'new wealth builders' (SCMP)
2015-03-24
The total wealth held by China's moderately wealthy – households with financial assets of between US$100,000 to US$2 million – will be double that of their American counterparts in 2020, a study shows. The United States topped the list last year with households from this wealth segment holding US$23 trillion in financial assets, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit global report sponsored by Citi. The report, which measured the trend in 32 countries, says this group – which it calls “the new wealth builders” (NWBs) – is the world's fastest growing wealth segment. China occupied second place in last year's report when the nation's NWB assets amounted to US$19.5 trillion. But the Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that the US will soon cede the top spot to China. This wealth segment will grow faster in the world's second-largest economy because of its population advantage and a rate of economic growth fuelled by the loosening of monetary and fiscal policy, the report said. NWB assets in China were expected to soar to US$53 trillion in 2020, almost double the US in second place with total assets of US$27 trillion. The average wealth per NWB household in the US (US$491,000) will still maintain a lead over China (US$319,000), however, the report said. NWBs typically do not consider themselves wealthy, and their wealth is earned, not inherited, it said. “They are charitable … and invest with a conscience.” David Wu, who owns two cement plants in Jiangsu?, said he hoped his wealth would grow at a steady pace in the coming years, rather than rapidly, to avoid excessive risk. His plants are being transformed to treat household garbage and sewage sludge, in response to Beijing's call to develop the environmental protection industry. Wu, 40, said he was looking for investment opportunities in growth companies ahead of their initial public offerings. “If you want to make big money quickly, the mainland is a good choice,” he said, “But if you want steady growth, you should probably look elsewhere.” He said he had invested a third of his wealth overseas through mutual funds, insurance products and banks' wealth management products. “These products invest in assets in the US, Britain, Germany and Singapore – places where I have more confidence in their legal environments,” he said. Jonathan Larsen, Citi global head of retail banking and head of consumer banking for Asia Pacific, said: “NWBs represent an increasingly important phenomenon in the world economy, driving growth in savings and economic activity more generally.” Last year, according to the report, the global NWB segment was worth more than US$88 trillion, double the US$43 trillion of the high-net-worth segment, which covers those with more than US$2 million. ^ top ^

China vows to control risks as yuan becomes more convertible (SCMP)
2015-03-26
China will control economic risks as the country pushes reforms to make the yuan convertible on the capital account, the foreign exchange regulator said on Thursday. “It's viable for China to steadily achieve capital account convertibility, but controlling risks remains the top priority,” Wang Yungui, head of policy and regulations for the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said at a press conference. Wang said China had “the last kilometre” to go before achieving full yuan convertibility, but did not elaborate. China has pledged to move towards making the yuan convertible on the capital account, amid hopes that the International Monetary Fund could include the yuan in its special drawing rights (SDR) basket during a five-year review due to be conducted this year. Central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan said on Sunday that China would take more steps this year to smooth the way for citizens to invest in overseas financial markets, and reform the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (QFII) scheme, which is “not convenient and flexible enough”. While the yuan is already convertible under China's current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, the capital account, which covers portfolio investment and borrowing, is still subject to restrictions due to worries about abrupt capital flight and hot money inflows. Chinese officials have not given a firm timetable for making the yuan freely tradeable, although the central bank has outlined the task of making it “basically” convertible this year. Wang said China had net capital inflows in January and February, but no figures were provided. China has suffered a wave of capital outflows in recent months amid jitters about a protracted economic slowdown in the mainland and expectations for the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year. China will control economic risks as the country pushes reforms to make the yuan convertible. ^ top ^

C.Y. Leung under fire over universal suffrage claims at question and answer session (SCMP)
2015-03-27
The pan-democrats waged open warfare against Leung Chun-ying on Thursday, making it clearer than ever there will be no compromise over universal suffrage. A day after the chief executive fired the opening volley by urging voters to punish opposition lawmakers in next year's Legislative Council election, they confronted him with slogans, banners and yellow umbrellas as he entered the chamber for a highly charged question-and-answer session During the meeting, Leung said all universal suffrage systems in the world can be regarded as "genuine" if they are designed in accordance with the law. However, pan-democrats ridiculed Leung for "failing in elementary political theory", adding that his remarks could make Hong Kong a "laughing stock". It was the third day in a row that Leung's comments had irked the pan-democratic camp. On Tuesday, Leung stated he would "not rule out any possibility" about seeking re-election in 2017. A day later, he said electors should "vote out" the pan-democrats in upcoming elections if they were unhappy with the camp's filibustering in Legco and its support for Occupy Central. The comments raised questions over whether the government can win over some pan-democrats to get its political reform package through Legco with a two-thirds majority. Yesterday, Leung reiterated that he would not agree to a televised debate, as pan-democrats insist Beijing should scrap its firm stance on political reform. Last year, Beijing ruled that while Hong Kong can elect its leader by popular ballot in 2017, it must choose from two or three candidates endorsed by the majority of a 1,200-strong nominating committee. When asked by the Democratic Party's Helena Wong Pik-wan if he had told Beijing "that Hongkongers want genuine universal suffrage", Leung replied that "different places have their own [form of] genuine universal suffrage". He said: "Their system would be genuine universal suffrage as long as it is in accordance with their constitution, system and electoral law. "Genuine universal suffrage in Hong Kong is universal suffrage implemented according to the Basic Law and the national legislature's relevant decisions." When Wong asked whether Myanmar, North Korea and the Chinese Communist Party are implementing "genuine universal suffrage", Leung appeared to backtrack and said "universal suffrage is to be implemented according to the law of the place". Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan said Leung's remarks were "typical" of authoritarians who abuse legislative power, but Leung compared Hong Kong's electoral system to that of Britain. "The UK has universal suffrage and I believe Ho would not say their election is fake democracy," Leung said. "But [Britain's] election method to choose the prime minister is very different from... the US president," he added, saying that even the British PM is not popularly elected. After the meeting, Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said: "This exposes … how C.Y. Leung fails even very elementary political theory. How can he say that any political model designed with the restraints of [Beijing's] decision could be comparable to... the USA and the UK?" In a survey commissioned by the pan-democratic Alliance for True Democracy, University of Hong Kong pollsters interviewed 1,011 Hongkongers last week, and found that 41 per cent agreed that Beijing's decision "is tantamount to turning the popular vote in 2017 into a fake universal suffrage". But 21 per cent disagreed. ^ top ^

 

DPRK
DPRK warns of shelling at S. Korean balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets (Global Times)
2015-03-22
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) warned Sunday that its military will blow up balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets which are reportedly to be flown by civic groups in South Korea, the state media KCNA reported. South Korean civic groups announced a plan to float anti-DPRK leaflets across the inter-Korean border around March 26, the fifth anniversary of South Korea's Cheonan warship sinking. "It is the height of hostility that the South Korean puppet forces still misuse the warship sinking case, which has long been branded as the unprecedented hideous conspiratorial farce, for escalating confrontation with the DPRK by linking the case with it," said a statement issued by frontline units of the Korean People's Army. The statement said the reckless acts are aimed at deliberately escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula "where the situation has reached the brink of a war due to 'Key Resolve' and 'Foal Eagle' joint war rehearsals." The army threatens to launch attacks "without prior warning" on the balloons involved in the move, no matter "whether the scattering operations are conducted in areas along the MDL (Military Demarcation Line) or in any point of sea or in the air, whether balloons or drones are used for those operations and whether openly or secretly." The statement also recommended South Korean inhabitants living close to the border to evacuate in advance for their own safety in case such leaflet drops take place. About 500,000 leaflets, denouncing the DPRK government, and some 10,000 copies of "The Interview," a film featuring a fictional plot to assassinate top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un, will reportedly be sent via hot air balloons to the DPRK across the inter-Korean land border. South Korean Unification Ministry spokeswoman Park Soo-jin told a press briefing that civic groups' scattering of anti-DPRK leaflets is "basically" a matter of freedom of expression that cannot be forcefully restrained because it has no legal grounds. But the government will take necessary measures if the anti-DPRK leaflets dispersion endangers the safety of residents living near the border, while considering the guarantee of basic rights of people and the protection of people's safety in a balanced manner, Park said. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia to participate in the Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair 2015 with charter flights to North Korea (Infomongolia)
2015-03-25
Mongolian Embassy in Pyongyang, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) are jointly to participate in the "Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair" to take place in Pyongyang on May 11-14, 2015. In the frames of collaboration between the MNCCI and North Korean Committee for the Promotion of External Economic Cooperation, the DPRK is also to attend the 19th “SME's Product, Service and Technology 2015” International Exhibition & Trade Fair to be organized at the Misheel Expo Center in Ulaanbaatar on June 11-15, 2015. In 2014, Mongolia participated in the "Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair" showcasing its leather accessories, handbags & outfits, cashmere products, camel & sheep woolen blankets, jackets, goat, sheep & camel socks, small & medium size carpets, meat & meat products as well as other food products that were much attracted by Korean side. Contrary, Mongolian entrepreneurs were interested in importing traditional and modern medical drugs from North Korea as well as pharmaceuticals, medicinal plants, fruits, and cotton textiles. In conjunction, charter flights from Ulaanbaatar to Pyongyang will be conducted for consumers and travelers during the event. The “SME's Product, Service and Technology 2015”, an annual International Trade Fair, is the largest business hub in Mongolia with the great variety of exhibits and the most onsite deals annually supported by the Government of Mongolia. The purpose of this trade fair is to present domestic & foreign SME's commodity products and services promoting its business between interested parties. The SME's Product, Service and Technology International event was first initiated in 1997 and thereafter, 18 sessions have been successfully hosted so far. In 2014 Fair Trade, exhibitors from many countries such as Russia, China, India, Poland, and Taiwan had performed their products and services.  ^ 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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