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
  12-16.8.13, No. 488  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

India to hold dialogue with China on Central Asia (Xinhua)
2013-08-10
India will send a senior diplomat to China next week to hold first bilateral dialogue with Chinese counterpart on Central Asia on Aug. 12 and 13 in Beijing, reported local newspaper Indian Express Saturday. The move is made amid India's policy of "Connect Central Asia" and engagement between Delhi and Beijing on regional and global issues, said the newspaper. India and China have already held dialogue at senior diplomatic level on Afghanistan, West Asia, Africa and anti-terrorism. The two sides are also expected to hold dialogue on maritime affairs, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, according to official sources. India is seeking greater economic and trade ties with Central Asian countries, all former Soviet republics, in its "Connect Central Asia" policy. ^ top ^

NZ Prime Minister John Key, top diplomat and trade chief to visit Beijing over dairy scandal (SCMP)
2013-08-12
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully will visit China in about a week as both sides deal with fallout from a contamination scare involving the world's largest dairy exporter, Fonterra Co-operative Group. McCully would be followed in a "few weeks or months" by Trade Minister Tim Groser and Prime Minister John Key would visit once a report on the incident was finished, spokeswoman Kelly Boxall said yesterday. The value of New Zealand's dollar fell to a one-month low after Fonterra said on August 3 that a dirty pipe at a processing plant might have tainted whey protein, used in dairy formula, with botulism-causing bacteria. Beijing halted imports of some Fonterra products and Xinhua said buyers were losing faith in New Zealand's clean image. "It's really about what is the damage to New Zealand's reputation, both for Fonterra and for dairy products, but also for the wider products we sell into the Chinese market and other markets overseas," Key told Television New Zealand yesterday. "Fonterra is the poster child for New Zealand's exports, whether we like that or not." Key would wait to visit Beijing until an inquiry into the incident was completed because "he wants to be able to look them in the eye and give them answers", Boxall said. Groser was also planning to be in touch with his Sri Lankan counterpart after media reports that Fonterra had recalled milk powder in that country after the government claimed it contained traces of an agricultural chemical, Boxall said. Dairy products are New Zealand's biggest foreign exchange earner, accounting for 28 per cent of overseas sales in an economy where exports make up about a third of output. Fonterra, New Zealand's biggest company, accounts for about a third of the world's trade in dairy products and posted revenue of NZ$19.8 billion (HK$123 billion) in the year through July 2012. In 2008, Fonterra's Chinese partner, Sanlu Group, collapsed after locally made melamine-contaminated milk powder killed and made ill babies, causing an industry-wide scandal. In January this year, Fonterra had to assure China that some milk containing traces of dicyandiamide, the agricultural chemical at the heart of the Sri Lankan recall, posed no health risks. [...]. ^ top ^

China urges Japan to follow peace, friendship treaty (Xinhua)
2013-08-12
The China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978 should be commemorated and followed well, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Monday. The treaty signed by the two countries on Aug. 12, 1978, affirms the principles in the China-Japan Joint Statement inked in 1972, defines the direction of China-Japan friendship from generation to generation, and consolidate the political foundation for the long-term development of bilateral relations, Hong said. China and Japan are close neighbors, and developing a long-term, stable and friendly relationship serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, and benefits the peace, stability and development of Asia and the world, Hong said. Given the severe difficulties in bilateral relations at present, both sides should uphold the four political documents signed between the two countries, take history as a mirror for looking into the future, properly handle problems affecting bilateral ties, and work for the restoration of of normal development in bilateral relations, the spokesman said. The four documents include the China-Japan Joint Statement inked in 1972, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978, the China-Japan Joint Declaration of 1998 and a joint statement on advancing strategic and mutually-beneficial relations in a comprehensive way that was signed in 2008. Relations between China and Japan soured following the Japanese government's unilateral move in September 2012 to "nationalize" part of the Diaoyu Islands which, China says, have been Chinese territory since ancient times. Recently, Japan has made calls for a dialogue with China without any conditions, but Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the Japanese side kept acting provocatively while chanting empty slogans "without any sincerity for dialogue at all." Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would not stop his cabinet ministers from visiting the Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15, the day of Japan's surrender at the end of World War II. Abe's words further strains Japan's already tense relations with China, as the shrine to the 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 convicted Class-A war criminals, is seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism. ^ top ^

Chinese hackers back smarter than ever, says US security firm (SCMP)
2013-08-14
The hackers who penetrated the computer network of The New York Times last year have resurfaced with an attack on "an organisation involved in shaping economic policy", experts have warned. The security firm FireEye said the original perpetrators "appear to be mounting fresh assaults that leverage new and improved versions of malware". Revelations about the attacks on The New York Times and Wall Street Journal heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing, prompting harsh comments from the White House and other US officials. Chinese officials repeatedly denied responsibility for the attacks, and since then the United States has in turn been accused of penetrating foreign networks through the spy programmes revealed by leaker Edward Snowden. FireEye said it had detected "a retooling of what security researchers believe is a massive spying operation based in China". "The new campaigns mark the first significant stirrings from the group since it went silent in January in the wake of a detailed exposé of the group and its exploits," FireEye researchers Ned Moran and Nart Villeneuve said. FireEye said its researchers "spotted the malware when analysing a recent attempted attack on an organisation involved in shaping economic policy". The name of the organisation was not disclosed. The security firm said the malware "uses new network traffic patterns, possibly to evade traditional network security systems". The New York Times said in January that hackers stole its corporate passwords and accessed the personal computers of 53 employees after the newspaper published a report on the family fortune of then premier Wen Jiabao . The Wall Street Journal said later its computers were also hit by Chinese hackers. The Journal said in a news article that the attacks were "for the apparent purpose of monitoring the newspaper's China coverage" and suggested that Chinese spying on US media "has become a widespread phenomenon". ^ top ^

Japan PM Abe may make offering at Yasukuni Shrine for war dead (SCMP)
2013-08-14
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may make a ritual offering to a shrine seen as a symbol of Japan’s former militarism, media said on Wednesday – a move likely to anger China and risk tentative diplomatic overtures. An offering on Thursday, the emotive anniversary of Japan’s defeat in the second world war, would highlight the fine line Abe seeks to tread between mending frayed China ties and appealing to his conservative support base. A similar move in April infuriated China and South Korea, both victims of wartime aggression. Abe is likely to skip visiting the Yasukuni Shrine to war dead, where people convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal are also honoured. But he may make the offering through a representative of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japanese media said. Neither the prime minister’s office nor LDP headquarters could confirm the media reports. Abe and other conservatives say it is only natural to pay respects at Yasukuni to those who died for their country, especially on Aug 15, but Tokyo hopes that if Abe stays away on the day it could score points with China and help pave the way for a summit that Japan has been signaling it wants. At least two cabinet members and a ruling party executive are likely to visit the shrine in central Tokyo, prompting China’s Foreign Ministry to say last week that visits by Japanese political leaders were unacceptable in any form. A group of conservative lawmakers is also expected to pay their respects. [...] Abe has called for dialogue with China, although he has rejected any conditions on talks, and several of his advisers have visited Beijing in the past few months. But China has denied that any talks are taking place towards a summit. ^ top ^

Commentary: Aircraft carrier creates no waves for China-India cooperation (Xinhua)
2013-08-14
India unveiled its first indigenously built aircraft carrier Monday, joining the elite club of nations capable of making such colossal warships. Indian Defense Minister A. K. Antony hailed the launch of INS Vikrant as a "crowning glory", saying "India needs a strong navy to defend itself and will press ahead with developing its maritime capabilities." Pundits obsessed with geopolitical rivalry wasted no time in hyping the Indian feat as a threat to China, fanning speculations the two Asian neighbors would slide deeper into an arms race aimed at regional supremacy. However, such conflict-obsessed fear-mongers have apparently ignored the larger picture. For starters, China and India, the world's top two developing countries, have vast interests in common. It is true India, already a regional heavyweight, has always held the dream of becoming a global power. It has been the world's largest importer of weapons over the past few years. Doomsayers also point to the high-profile support from the United States, which they assume is bent on containing China's rise. During their visits to India, then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden suggested India play a bigger role in the Asia-Pacific region. Underneath the gloomy prophecy also lies the increase in the number of carrier-equipped naval forces in the region. Just days before the Vikrant's launch, Japan launched a new helicopter carrier. However, the normal buildup of defense capabilities is no cause of worry. China and India are important trading partners, and they hold identical or similar stances on a wide range of regional and global affairs. They have also recognized the world is large enough to accommodate the development of both of them. China and India should have the vision to look beyond slanted interpretations and stick to the right path of cooperation. With the Asia-Pacific region gaining more weight in the global landscape, their cooperation is particularly necessary. Joining hands, they can make more contribution to the peace and prosperity of not only the region but also the world at large. ^ top ^

Shinzo Abe's Yasukuni war shrine concession won't appease Beijing (SCMP)
2013-08-15
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected today to make a ritual offering to the Yasukuni shrine instead of actually visiting the monument in an attempt to appease China while satisfying his conservative base. But Chinese analysts said the move would do nothing to improve Sino-Japanese ties and would instead anger Beijing. An offering today, the emotive anniversary of Japan's defeat in the second world war, would highlight the fine line Abe seeks to tread. The offering would be made through a representative of Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japanese media said. A similar move in April only infuriated China and South Korea, both victims of Japanese wartime aggression. "Abe's ritual offering through a representative of his Liberal Democratic Party instead of paying a personal visit does not make anything different in terms of displaying his attitude toward the history of Japan's former militarism. Rather, Chinese people, as well as the Chinese government will see such an act as a display of 'no remorse' attitude over wartime history," said Liu Jiangyong , a Japanese affairs expert with Tsinghua University's Institute of International Studies. The Yasukuni shrine commemorates Japan's war dead, including 14 people convicted of being class-A war criminals by an Allied tribunal. Also enshrined are foreign troops who died fighting Japan, but Yasukuni is typically seen by China and South Korea as a symbol of Japan's former militarism, and visits there by Japan's leaders are considered controversial. Neither the prime minister's office nor LDP headquarters could confirm the media reports. At least two cabinet members and a ruling party executive are likely to visit the shrine in central Tokyo, prompting China's Foreign Ministry to say last week that visits by Japanese political leaders were unacceptable in any form. A group of conservative lawmakers is also expected to pay their respects. Liu said that because China's government was increasingly concerned about domestic public opinion, Abe's possible tribute would not improve ties. Wang Xinsheng, a Sino-Japanese affairs expert with Peking University, said he feared that a tribute by Abe would anger the Chinese government and make diplomatic overtures more difficult in the near future. Liu and Wang both said a Yasukuni tribute by Abe would make a summit with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang less likely. "It is naïve of some Japanese politicians to think that Abe's staying away would help pave the way for a summit that Abe himself has been seeking recently," Wang said from Tokyo, where he is on an academic exchange. "It becomes more difficult than ever to build mutual understanding and trust between the two governments." Relations between Japan and China have been strained for months, largely because of a dispute over a group of uninhabited islands that worsened in September when Japan bought several of the islands from a private owner. Ships and aircraft have for months played a cat-and-mouse game near the islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyus in China, ratcheting up tensions, with Chinese ships venturing in and out of what Japan considers its territorial waters. ^ top ^

Philippine president wants to attend Asean trade expo in China (SCMP)
2013-08-15
Philippine President Benigno Aquino says he wants to attend an Asean trade expo in China early next month - a possible overture to Beijing as he seeks to repair souring relations between the two countries. However, Aquino has yet to confirm the trip to the China-Asean Expo in Nanning, Guangxi. It would be Aquino's second trip to China since becoming president; the first was in September 2011. The move appears to leave the door open for Beijing to signal if Aquino would be welcome. Ties between the two countries are at their lowest in years amid assertive efforts by Beijing to stake its claims in the South China Sea. Raul Hernandez, from the Department of Foreign Affairs, said they had a received an invitation from China to send "high-level" officials to the event. "The president has signified his intention to attend … however, it is not confirmed yet that he will attend," Hernandez said. Expo organisers could not confirm which state leaders would attend the event, being held on September 3-6. [...] Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that Aquino was still awaiting a recommendation from the foreign affairs department. Lacierda was quoted by the Philippine Star newspaper as saying that if Aquino went, his agenda would be economic relations and not South China Sea disputes. The Philippine government had apparently been keeping Aquino's possible trip to China under wraps, until a local news website, Vera Files, claimed that Aquino had accepted China's invitation and that Premier Li Keqiang would receive Aquino, along with envoys of other Asean nations. However, Chinese analysts doubt that Beijing would invite Aquino personally. Nor do they believe that Beijing would use the occasion to arrange a meeting between Aquino and top leaders. "The current environment is not good enough for such high-level diplomacy," said Du Jifeng , a Southeast Asian affairs expert at the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Professor Zhuang Guotu , director of Xiamen University's Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, said both nations had almost frozen exchanges. Amid a tense stand-off over Scarborough Shoal, known as Huangyan Island by China, Aquino sent Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas to last year's expo. Roxas held a 45-minute discussion there with then-vice-president Xi Jinping , in an attempt to resolve the territorial dispute peacefully. Roxas described the talks as deadlocked. Reports of Aquino's possible visit came on the day that Philippine and US officials began talks on giving the US military wider and increased access in the Philippines - a move that would be closely watched by Beijing, which bristles at an increased US presence in the region. ^ top ^

Chinese FM holds talks with UN General Assembly president-elect (Xinhua)
2013-08-15
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Wednesday held talks with John William Ashe, president-elect of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, pledging that China will support his work to further strengthen the assembly. The General Assembly provides an important forum for developing countries, especially small and medium-size countries, to participate in international affairs, said Wang during his talks with Ashe. China supports the General Assembly president to strengthen and improve the assembly, and advocates that the United Nations should make the common development of developing countries (the majority of the UN members) its main task, Wang said. Ashe said the United Nations attaches great importance to the role China has played in international affairs. He said he will maintain close contact and cooperation with China on the work of the General Assembly, hoping for the nation's continued support. The two sides also exchanged views on international and regional affairs of common concern. Ashe, elected president of the General Assembly on June 14, will assume office at the start of the 68th session in September. He arrived on Tuesday for a three-day visit at the invitation of the Chinese foreign minister. ^ top ^

China, Russia conclude joint drill (Xinhua)
2013-08-15
China and Russia concluded their joint anti-terrorism drill "Peace Mission-2013" Thursday with a closing ceremony. During the drill that had three phases of troop deployment, battle planning and simulated combat, the troops practiced joint reconnaissance, joint block and control of accident areas, joint support for campaign equipment and live-ammunition exercises, and organized field maneuvers using live fire. The joint maneuvers, which were launched on July 27, have been conducted at the Chebarkul combined training range in Russia's Ural Mountains. ^ top ^

Chinese, Russian presidents to meet at G20 Leaders' Summit (Xinhua)
2013-08-15
Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the Leaders' Summit of the Group of Twenty to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia, in early September and will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the summit. That was learned from a meeting between visiting Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held here Thursday and was hailed as a major event for the latter half of the year in the course of Sino-Russian relations. China reiterates full support for Russia to hold a successful summit, and pledges it will go all out to cooperate closely with Russia over the summit to this end, said sources from the meeting. The G20, established in September 1999, groups 20 major economies of the world, including 19 countries and the European Union. It is the premier forum for international cooperation on the most important issues of the global economic and financial agenda. Russia assumed the G20 rotating presidency for the first time on Dec.1, 2012. The G20 Leaders' Summit this year will be held in St. Petersburg on Sept.5-6, according to a statement posted at the official website of the G20. ^ top ^

No remorse as Abe marks surrender (China Daily)
2013-08-16
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose hawkish views have raised concerns in the region, broke with two decades of tradition on Thursday by omitting any expression of remorse for Japan's past aggression in Asia on the 68th anniversary of its World War II surrender. In a speech, he avoided words such as "profound remorse" and "sincere mourning" used by his predecessors to acknowledge the suffering caused by the Imperial Japanese Army as it stormed across East Asia. He has previously expressed unease over Japan's apologies for wartime aggression. Abe stayed away from the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals from World War II. But he sent a ceremonial gift to the shrine, bearing his name and title as head of the Liberal Democratic Party. At a time when Japan is witnessing an unprecedented surge of nationalism that is downplaying its past militarism, three of Abe's cabinet members — Keiji Furuya, state minister in charge of the abduction issue, Yoshitaka Shindo, internal affairs and communications minister, and Tomomi Inada, administrative reform minister — made their pilgrimage to the shrine, together with 102 Diet members. Abe joined Emperor Akihito at a ceremony at a Tokyo arena where they bowed before a backdrop of white and yellow chrysanthemums in respect for the war dead. Abe has said he regrets not visiting Yasukuni on the anniversary during his first term in 2006-07. Abe also failed to pledge not to fight a war in the future, as his predecessors did in previous speeches at the memorial ceremonies. "Abe's failure to apologize to Japan's victimized neighbors has made it clear that his ruling Cabinet is the most nationalistic in recent years," said Yang Bojiang, deputy director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. A recent poll showed that 56 percent of Japanese supported a visit by Abe to the Yasukuni. Compared with his restrained attitude in his first term, Abe has shown a stronger will in pushing ahead with right-wing policies, which will lead to further friction with its neighbors, including China and South Korea, Yang warned. Beijing strongly condemned the visits of Japanese Cabinet members to the Yasukuni Shrine on Thursday, with Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin summoning the Japanese ambassador to China, Masato Kitera, to express the anger. [...] Liu Jiangyong, an expert on Japanese studies and the deputy dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, said Abe's decision to make a ritual offering instead of visiting the shrine is his tactic for repairing ties with neighboring countries. "However, by making an ornamental offering to the shrine, he has shown an ingrained nationalistic sentiment, which will never appease Asian neighbors," Liu warned. South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said in a statement that leading Japanese politicians and Cabinet members "still turn a blind eye to history" In his proposal on improving China-Japan relations, Shin Kawashima, director of the CSIS-Nikkei virtual think tank, said the two countries should have dialogues and seek common interests as a way to mend ties when they mark the 35th anniversary of the China-Japan Treaty on Peace and Friendship this year. He hopes that Japanese Cabinet members treat Yasukuni visits with caution. In a letter to Abe published in Japan Times, J. F. van Wagtendonk, president of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts in The Hague, asked Abe to face Japan's war responsibility. "You cannot pass this responsibility to your and Japan's children.". ^ top ^

China launches naval drills to mark Japan's war defeat (SCMP)
2013-08-16
The PLA Navy launched four days of exercises in the East China Sea yesterday - part of a new round of sabre-rattling by Beijing coinciding with anniversary of Japan's defeat in the second world war. The military muscle-flexing came as Beijing vented anger over the decision by top-level Japanese politicians to visit a Tokyo shrine commemorating Japan's war dead, including several war criminals. China's first aircraft carrier - the refurbished Soviet-era warship now called Liaoning - was also dispatched from its home port of Qingdao, Shandong province, for training of ship-borne aircraft and other manoeuvres, China News Service reported yesterday. Mainland media speculated the ship might be sailing to the northern Bohai Sea off Liaoning province, where a separate round of military exercises began yesterday. The exercises in the Bohai and East China seas come against the backdrop of the territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo over the Diaoyu, or Senkaku, islands. The East China Sea drills will be conducted off the coast of Zhejiang province by the East Sea Fleet, which oversees the waters around the Diaoyus. Meanwhile, a China Coast Guard vessel passed close by a Japan Coast Guard ship, just south of the chain's largest island, Kyodo News reported. The moves coincided with two Japanese cabinet ministers' visit to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo yesterday, which drew fury from Beijing. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided against a personal visit, and instead paid for a ritual offering. Ni Lexiong, director of the Sea Power and Defence Policy Research Institute at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said the PLA aimed to pressure Tokyo into not inflaming tensions. "It is expected that there will be more drills in the East China Sea to build up the combat capabilities of the Chinese army," Ni said. "It is also possible that China's aircraft carrier will participate in some of these drills." Mainland media called on Tokyo to learn a lesson from history. An editorial in the Global Times said the Japanese "do not necessarily have a complete plan to become extreme, but they hope to change the current state of affairs". "What Japan is doing today makes us wonder if it will commit the same error again," it said. "Japan is tempering itself using nationalism and attempting to boost national cohesion." A commentary by Xinhua said the international community should exert pressure on Tokyo to "face history". "It is a day when righteousness defeats the devil, and civilisation defeats the barbaric," it said. "It is a day when we should remember the lessons, and pray for a peaceful world and that no war will happen again.". ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Chinese activist Yang Lin arrested on subversion charge as crackdown deepens (SCMP)
2013-08-12
China has arrested an activist on a charge of subversion, his brother and a rights group said on Sunday, the second such arrest in less than two months and the latest sign that the authorities are hardening their stance towards dissent. Yang Lin, 45, a critic of China’s one-party system who lives in Guangdong, was arrested on a charge of “inciting subversion of state power”, his brother, Yang Mingzhu, said by telephone. In China, an inciting subversion charge is commonly levelled against critics of one-party rule. It carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail, though lengthier sentences have been handed down. Yang Mingzhu said he had received a notice of his brother’s arrest, dated July 19, but it gave few details. The US-based group Chinese Human Rights Defenders said Yang Lin, had spent a year in a labour camp, and he was also a signatory of “Charter 08” – a manifesto organised by jailed Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo – which calls for political reform. “He would not hesitate in throwing himself wholeheartedly in helping disadvantaged citizens fight for their rights and in activities promoting constitutional democracy,” the advocacy group said on its website on Sunday. Chinese liberals and intellectuals had hoped the new government that took over this year, under President Xi Jinping, would be more tolerant of calls for reform but authorities have seemed to indicate they will not tolerate any challenge to their rule. In recent months, authorities have detained at least 16 anti-corruption activists involved in demonstrations calling for government officials to disclose their assets. The Futian District Detention Centre, where the brother said Yang Lin was being held, declined to comment. A formal arrest usually leads to a trial. Activists who are detained are sometimes released before they are formally arrested. In June, authorities formally arrested a man for inciting subversion after he applied for permission to demonstrate on June 4, the 24th anniversary of the bloody crackdown on protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. ^ top ^

Central government's urbanisation plan meets resistance from mayors (SCMP)
2013-08-12
Beijing's plan to encourage hundreds of millions of rural residents to settle in cities to boost growth faces opposition from local governments, according to Li Tie, an official with the country's top economic planning agency. Li spoke at an urbanisation forum in Beijing over the weekend where officials, researchers and company executives highlighted the challenges facing the leadership's push. These obstacles included strains on local government finances, the dangers of overbuilding and the cost of scrapping the hukou, or residence permit, system that denies migrants and their families the same welfare, health and education benefits as city-dwellers. Premier Li Keqiang has championed urbanisation as a "huge engine" for growth as he seeks to shift the world's second-largest economy towards a model that relies on consumption rather than investment and exports. As policymakers draft plans for the new leadership's reform agenda ahead of a key Communist Party meeting later this year, Li is grappling with vested interests that could stymie some of his plans. "Nobody wants such a big group of migrants to be their neighbours and share their so-called civilised space. This is a conflict of interest," said Li Tie , director-general of the China Centre for Urban Development under the National Development and Reform Commission. "We are facing rejection from so many mayors and city elites who have enough ability to influence decision-making." One of the thorniest issues facing policymakers is who pays for urbanisation - the cost of the physical infrastructure and the recurring annual spending on providing millions of new urbanites with health care, welfare and education services. "Urbanisation isn't only about changing people's residency, it's about their overall development and an improvement in the quality of their lives," said Li Lianzhong, head of the economy bureau at the Policy Research Centre of the Communist Party Central Committee. Ending the hukou system and replacing it with identity cards will signal the "victory of reforms", he said. Mao Daqing, executive vice-president of China Vanke, the biggest developer by market value traded on the mainland's stock exchanges, questioned whether China needed more towns and cities when most migration has been to the mainland's 70 biggest conurbations. "These big cities interest people because they have more job and education opportunities, and medical resources," Mao said. "Those other 610 cities can't attract people even though they already exist," he said. "It indicates some of those 610 cities have problems or can't survive." Taking Beijing as an example, Mao said that assuming 700,000 people moved into the city each year, that could cost the local government at least an extra 77 billion yuan (HK$97 billion) a year in urbanisation-related spending, equivalent to doubling its annual land sales or a 25 per cent increase in tax revenue.[...] Speaking at his first news conference after becoming premier in March, Li said: "Urbanisation will usher in a huge amount of consumption and investment demand, increase job opportunities, create wealth for farmers, and bring benefits to the people."[...] Separately, a deputy director of the China Centre for Urban Development, Qiao Runling, warned that reckless expansion of cities had left many of them empty, Xinhua reported. "China now has an oversupply of cities, given the number of new urban districts that we have," the report quoted Qiao as saying at a forum held in southern Jiangxi province last week. ^ top ^

New guideline can safeguard judicial independence (Xinhua)
2013-08-13
China's first guideline to prevent unjust or wrongful judgments will better safeguard judicial independence, build credibility for the judicial system and help to improve public trust. The guideline, issued by the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Tuesday, said law enforcement personnel will have to bear life-long responsibility for their roles in wrongful judgments. To prevent the extortion of confessions via torture, the guideline reiterates the Criminal Procedural Law, saying all interrogations should be conducted in detention houses and recorded using audio or video equipment. The guideline will safeguard the independence of the judicial system by minimizing human interference in decision-making for law-enforcement personnel, who sometimes have to compromise the law when facing pressure from their superiors. The guideline also advocates the principle of "innocent until proven guilty," as well as calls for changes to the current judicial appraisal system, which evaluates the performance of law enforcement personnel based on the number of criminal cases that have been solved and the number of suspects who have been detained or prosecuted. This system has acted as a strong incentive for law enforcement authorities to use improper means to inflate their arrest and conviction numbers, according to Zhao Bingzhi, dean of the College for Criminal Law Science at Beijing Normal University. Experts believe the guideline is a response to public calls for greater judicial fairness following the emergence of several wrongful judgments. In one case, two men in east China's Zhejiang Province were acquitted of rape in March after a retrial found insufficient evidence to support their previous convictions. Zhang Hui and his uncle Zhang Gaoping were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and 15 years in prison, respectively, for allegedly raping a 17-year-old girl. The introduction of the guideline is a testament to authorities' willingness to address public concerns and uphold justice. However, the guideline must be properly implemented in order to reduce wrongful judgments and boost public trust in the judicial system. ^ top ^

Liu Yunshan re-emerges, suggesting Beidaihe policy talks winding down (SCMP)
2013-08-15
A top Communist Party's official's reappearance in Beijing yesterday hinted at an end to the closely watched policy meetings in the coastal resort town of Beidaihe. Liu Yunshan, who ranks fifth on the Politburo's all-powerful Standing Committee, appeared in Beijing to host a meeting on the Communist Party's "mass line" education campaign, according to China Central Television. The mass line is jargon coined by Mao Zedong to describe the party's need to stay in touch with the public, but the subject matter was seen by many as less significance than Liu's presence. Liu heads the party's Secretariat and serves as its propaganda tsar and would be expected to be part of any top-level discussions in advance of key policy meetings this autumn. "This hints that Chinese leaders might be wrapping up their Beidaihe summit," said Zhang Lifan , a political affairs commentator. Most of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee have been out of the public view for nearly two weeks, coinciding with the annual start time of the secretive policy conclave. The last time a Standing Committee member was seen was when Yu Zhengsheng concluded a six-day trip to Tibet on August 6. Liu's visit to Beidaihe the previous day was viewed as a signal that the meetings were beginning. In addition to Liu's reappearance yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that top leaders would host Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta when he arrives next Monday. Such plans would likely not be announced if leaders expected to be hunkered down in Beidaihe. Xinhua cited a statement by the Kenyan government which said that Kenyatta and President Xi Jinping expected to discuss several issues, including Kenya's infrastructure, security in the region, enhancing trade and economic relations. Such a meeting would be Xi's first public appearance since July 31, when he attended a ceremony to promote six senior military officers to the rank of full general in Beijing. "Personally, it feels like this year's Beidaihe meeting is longer than in previous years," Zhang said. "This could reflect heated discussions behind the curtains." He speculated that there was considerable disagreement within the party leadership on economic policies, but that a general consensus has been reached, without any major changes. The central government planned to unveil details about the Shanghai free trade zone late last month, but policymakers sent lawyers to tighten the legal framework and reduce the risk of legal disputes involving foreign investors, the South China Morning Post has reported. ^ top ^

China to unveil long-term property market plan (Xinhua)
2013-08-15
China is expected to unveil a plan for a long-term mechanism to nurture the healthy development of the real estate market in the next three months, a senior industry official said Wednesday. The plan outlining measures on urbanization development and a long-term development mechanism concerning the property sector is in the board room and can be expected soon, Zhu Zhongyi, vice president of the China Real Estate Industry Association, told the ongoing 2013 Bo'ao Real Estate Forum held in south China's resort city of Sanya. "The mechanism will not only adopt economic means such as taxation and credit policies to regulate the market, but it will also create policies to improve the housing and land supply systems," Zhu said. The Chinese economy's growth has been stuck in a protracted slowdown, easing to 7.6 percent in the first half of 2013, the weakest first-half performance in three years. However, the country's real estate market posted strong growth, which has renewed public concern of runaway home prices. Official data show that prices of both new and existing homes continued to rise in most Chinese cities in June. Out of a statistical pool of 70 cities, 63 saw month-on-month home price rises. Last month, Beijing posted the biggest year-on-year gains, up 16.7 percent from last year. Meanwhile, investment in the country's property sector increased 20.5 percent year on year in July, accelerating from 20.3 percent in the first half. The Chinese government has been launching efforts to contain the red-hot real estate market since 2010, introducing a raft of control measures such as third-home purchase bans, property tax trials and widespread low-incoming housing construction. But the measures, most of which were administrative means, have been widely criticized for only temporarily reining in home prices, as drastic rebounds could arise once they are lifted. Zhu said that the forthcoming mechanism is expected to address issues regarding fund-raising, supervision, planning, quality and distribution for homes built for the country's low-income families. However, the establishment of such a mechanism will take years, because the measures require a string of reforms, including fiscal reforms, to entrust local governments with more financial resources in order to wean them off their reliance on revenues from land sales, he said. ' To correct the strong market expectations of further hikes in home prices, Zhu warned that the central government will face greater difficulties in capping real estate prices if it does not move to strengthen the responsibilities of local governments in coordinating housing supplies and stabilizing land prices. The annual meeting of the Bo'ao Real Estate Forum, the 13th of its kind, has been serving as a platform for officials, experts and industry leaders to discuss the development of the country's real estate sector. The four-day meeting, which kicked off on Tuesday, has attracted nearly 1,000 participants this year. ^ top ^

Cirque du Soleil pulls Tiananmen image from China shows after 'collective gasp' (SCMP)
2013-08-15
Cirque du Soleil has removed a photo of the Tiananmen crackdown from its show in China after surprising an audience of 15,000 in Beijing with the iconic "tank man" image, which remains banned and highly controversial in the country. [...] During its first performance at the MasterCard Center in Beijing last Friday, three large screens showed the Associated Press photo of an unarmed man, who temporarily stopped tanks near Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. The photo appeared for four seconds during Jackson's track They Don’t Care About Us and "within a montage sequence of civil-rights style protest movements, resulting in an audible collective gasp from the audience", according to a blogpost on That's Beijing, which has since been deleted. The tour's publicist Laura Silverman said in an e-mailed statement that "the image was removed immediately and is no longer shown". "Our scheduled performances will go on as planned," she said. In what appears to be a blunder by Chinese censors, she said the art troupe had submitted the full show for approval as required by the Chinese Ministry of Culture. “The Cirque du Soleil incident is just the latest in a line of embarrassing, high profile 'slips' the Chinese censors have made with respect to foreign performers and content,” said Robert Cain, from the entertainment consultancy Pacific Bridge. [...] Cirque du Soleil is not the first foreign performer getting caught up with the ministry's strict regulations on what can and cannot be said on a stage in mainland China. In 2011, US singer-songwriter Bob Dylan wrote in a rare statement he was not aware of any of his songs being censored during his tour of China. He chose not to perform political songs such as Hurricane and The Times They Are a-Changin' on tour. Months ahead of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, singer Björk, who enjoyed a huge fan base in China, embarrassed her official hosts by calling for Tibetan independence during a concert in Shanghai. While official news media went silent, bulletin boards, the predecessors of microblogs, flared up. The Icelandic pop star has not performed in the country since. ^ top ^

Petitioners attempt group suicide in jobs conflict with railway bureau (Global Times)
2013-08-15
Twenty-one petitioners from Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province tried to commit group suicide in Beijing on Tuesday after their petition for Harbin Railway Bureau to provide the jobs it had promised for their children fell on deaf ears. A witness surnamed Li told the media that these petitioners, all wearing the same white T-shirts with the words "Harbin Railway Bureau" printed on their chests, attempted suicide by drinking pesticide near the Beijing West Railway Station on Tuesday morning. "They lay on the ground after taking the pesticide. They looked in pain. Their vomit was scattered around,"said Li. The petitioners were escorted by police to the Fuxing Hospital of Capital Medical University and the General Hospital of the Ministry of Water Resources. All nine petitioners in the Fuxing hospital were released on Tuesday afternoon after treatment, a press officer from the hospital confirmed with the Global Times. It is unknown how many petitioners remain in the General Hospital of the Ministry of Water Resources, as the hospital declined to comment. The released petitioners have been detained. Han Meiying, one of the pesticide drinkers, told Luo Jingyun, a Beijing-based reporter, that they were transferred to a detention center in the city's Haidian district on Wednesday afternoon and will stay there for at least five days. Han confirmed to Luo that the Harbin Railway Bureau promised to help the employees' children land jobs inside the railway bureau if the children agreed to serve in the army first. The bureau later broke their promise and ignored them even after they petitioned repeatedly. According to Luo, there are currently over 200 families of returning veterans from the bureau, many of which, including Han's son, have served two years in the army. The group suicide attempt shocked many observers, who believe these railroad workers used the act of group suicide as a way to "blackmail" the railroad bureau into giving them whatever they want. "The reality is that no organization can offer that many jobs, even if they have promised. It's difficult enough for college graduates to finds jobs nowadays. It would only be harder for veterans, who are usually older and demand better pay," Yang Yansui, a professor in social security at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times. "It's a difficult time for everyone and it is not a problem that can be easily solved. The solution involves major adjustment to social and economic structure," Yang noted. A policy released by the State Council in 2011 stipulated that the government will help but would not secure job offers for veterans who voluntarily joined the army but served less than 12 years. Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau refused to comment and Harbin Railway Bureau could not be reached. ^ top ^

Chengdu sweeps out 51 officials, state firm heads (SCMP)
2013-08-16
Dozens of government officials and heads of state-owned enterprises in Sichuan's capital city of Chengdu have been reassigned or removed from their posts, including people with alleged ties to disgraced former deputy provincial party chief Li Chuncheng and the judge who presided over the trial of Wang Lijun. The change affects 51 cadres and was announced on the official website of the city's organisation department late on Tuesday. No reasons were given for the decisions. Among those removed from their posts were Zhang Jun, former chairman of the state-owned Chengdu Construction Engineering Corporation, and Tan Jianming, chairman of Chengdu Xingrong, a tap water provider involved in the region's environmental protection projects. Both were detained earlier this year, allegedly in connection with Li's corruption case, according to earlier mainland media reports. Purges started in December when the 56-year-old Li was detained for "serious violations of laws". Months later, Guo Yongxiang, a former deputy governor and the chairman of the province's branch of the Federation of Literary and Art Circles, a national non-governmental organisation, was also taken into custody. The scale of the action is unusual, as the downfall of a high-level official traditionally does not affect his or her followers, according to political scientist Zhang Ming at Renmin University of China. "The action likely means the investigation into Li's case is nearing its close," Zhang said. Meanwhile, Zhong Erpu, deputy chief of the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court, was also removed from his post. He was the chief judge at Wang's trial in September. Wang, the ex-police chief of Chongqing , fled to the US consulate in Chengdu in February last year. He was at the heart of the scandal that felled the municipality's now disgraced former party chief, Bo Xilai. Wang was sentenced to 15 years in jail on charges of corruption, defection and other crimes. The Chengdu court was praised by the higher provincial court in May this year, after Wang's trial, for handling "some major cases that had great national impact". Zhong said his removal was simply due to him reaching retirement age, according to the 21st Century Business Herald. But there has been wide speculation online that he might have been involved in Li's corruption case. A representative for the Chengdu court refused to comment. Li was the first senior official sacked after President Xi Jinping became Communist Party secretary last November. After taking power, Xi vowed to come down hard on party graft. After Li's fall, several senior officials, including some vice-ministerial-level officials, were detained over corruption allegations. Among them were Li Daqiu, vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee in Guangxi, and Wang Suyi, head of Inner Mongolia's United Front Work Department.. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Censors to join the crowd at Beijing's small theatres (SCMP)
2013-08-13
Beijing has long been known for its rich history of cultural attractions. Among them are small, community theatres that not only help serve the cultural needs of local residents, but also introduce tourists to some of the capital's traditional performing arts. Interest in modern dramas, Peking opera, crosstalk (a form of comedy), acrobatics and other performances has been booming in recent years as more private and public capital is injected into the industry. As a result, the number of small theatres has surged from just a few a decade ago to dozens today. But that success of relatively small, local troupes has also been a double-edged sword of sorts. On the one hand, the booming industry offers more choices for patrons of the arts, as well as more opportunities to industry players. On the flip side, however, authorities are growing increasingly uneasy that some dramas or shows might touch on sensitive topics such as social stability, and this means more control is being exerted over performances. Earlier this month, guidelines issued by the city government sparked some concerns of censorship among culture watchers. The guidelines call on the city's neighbourhood administrative units to assemble teams of volunteers to monitor performances. Those selected for the task must have a strong sense of responsibility, political acumen and a good knowledge of cultural performances. After some proper training, the teams will be dispatched to watch live performances to be on the lookout for harmful elements that violate laws and regulations. The teams will report their findings to cultural administrative officials, and any theatres presenting content deemed inappropriate may be punished. Officials with the city's cultural bureau said only that the guidelines were drafted by its security supervisory department, but would give no further details about how the scheme would be implemented. According to the bureau's website, one of the security department's main roles is to ensure that cultural performances are politically acceptable. That may particularly apply to crosstalk (rapid, witty dialogue between two actors) and modern drama, which try to attract audiences with their critiques or reflections on society at large. "The scripts of all dramas are [already] scrutinised by district- and city-level cultural offices," said one staff member at Nine Theatre in Chaoyang district, questioning the need for the new measures. "We really have nothing to be censored." All small theatres across the city were required to install CCTV systems several years ago, with monitoring by cultural censors. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Moderate 5.7 earthquake strikes Tibet (SCMP)
2013-08-12
A magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck early on Monday in Tibet at a depth of 50 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said. The epicentre of the quake, which was initially reported as magnitude 6.1, was located 143 kilometres south-southeast of Qamdo, Tibet autonomous region. The China Earthquake Networks Center measured the quake as 6.1 magnitude at a relatively shallow 10 kilometres, the official Xinhua news agency reported, and the Hong Kong Observatory registered it as 5.9. A magnitude 5.7 quake, which struck at 5.23am, is considered moderate and capable of causing considerable damage. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The USGS said the population of the region, which borders northeast India, mostly lived in buildings that were highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking but estimated there was a low likelihood of casualties and damage from the tremor. ^ top ^

Quake relief supplies sent to Tibet (Xinhua)
2013-08-13
Quake relief supplies were sent on Tuesday to southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, which was jolted by a 6.1-magnitude earthquake on Monday. The Ministry of Civil Affairs sent a shipment of supplies, including 3,000 tents, 20,000 cotton sheets, 20,000 cotton-padded coats, 3,000 folding beds and 3,000 sleeping bags, to the quake-stricken area. In addition, the regional and prefectural governments have sent 1,200 tents, 20 tonnes of food, 20,000 cotton quilts, water, milk and feed grain to people in the quake zone, said Yang Guoyi, deputy director of the regional civil affairs department. An initial investigation showed that 570,000 residents in 11 counties were affected by the quake, which hit the border of Zogang and Markam counties in Qamdo Prefecture at 5:23 a.m. Monday. The earthquake damaged 45,000 houses, as well as multiple highways, bridges and some water conservancy facilities. No deaths have been reported, although 87 people have been injured. Subsidies have been offered to quake victims who had to be relocated in the wake of the disaster. Each resident will receive a daily subsidy of 10 yuan (about 1.6 U.S. dollars) for the next year. Some 17,000 yuan has been offered to each household whose home was destroyed or severely damaged in the quake. Families whose homes were not as badly damaged may receive 3,000 yuan, according to the regional civil affairs department. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

China sentences two to death over Xinjiang unrest (SCMP)
2013-08-13
A court in China has sentenced two men to death over violent unrest in the ethnically divided western region of Xinjiang that left 21 people dead, state media said on Monday. China blamed the April 23 violence on “terrorists”, a charge rights groups say is often used to justify the authorities’ use of force against members of the mostly Muslim Uygur minority. The Intermediate People’s Court in Xinjiang’s Kashgar Prefecture sentenced Musa Hesen and Rehman Hupur to death for crimes including murder and taking part in a “terrorist group”, the Xinhua news agency reported. Hesen was accused of leading the group and manufacturing explosives. Another three men accused of belonging to the group were given prison sentences ranging from nine years to life, Xinhua reported. All of the defendants reportedly confessed to their crimes in court. A total of 19 suspects were arrested after the April incident in Kashgar’s Bachu County, which saw gunfights break out leaving 15 police and community workers and six “terrorists” dead. Xinjiang, a region about twice the size of Turkey, is home to about nine million ethnic Uygurs, many of whom complain of religious and cultural repression by Chinese authorities. The region is regularly hit by unrest. Violent riots involving Uygurs and members of China’s Han ethnic majority in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi in 2009 killed about 200 people, leading the ruling Communist Party to tighten surveillance and boost investment in the region. ^ top ^

Condemned Uygur had founded terror group (SCMP)
2013-08-14
One of the two Uygur men sentenced to death by a court in Xinjiang had founded a "terrorist" group just a month before his arrest, state media reported. The two defendants were, along with three other ethnic minority Uygurs, found guilty by the Kashgar court of crimes related to terrorism and intentional homicide, stemming from a deadly outbreak of violence in April that killed 21 people in Bachu county. The three spared the death penalty received sentences ranging from nine years to life in prison for participating in the terrorist group, and for their part in the April confrontation between police and residents. Among those killed were 15 community workers and police officers, as well as six "terrorists". Musa Hesen was sentenced to death for murder, organising and leading a terrorist group, and illegally manufacturing explosives, according to the verdict. Rehman Hupur was also sentenced to death for murder and participating in the terrorist group. Xinhua reported that the group was set up on March 8, by Qasim Muhammat and Hesen, with Muhammat as its leader. According to a court statement, the five defendants and Muhammat, who was killed in the attack, carried out illegal religious activities, promoted religious extremism and regularly watched video clips advocating terrorism since March 2008. They also "made knives and banners in preparation for terrorist attacks" and created 10 explosive devices and carried out explosive tests, the statement said. All of the defendants confessed to their crimes in court, Xinhua reported. The Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the People's Daily, also quoted experts to support the sentence. "Upholding laws during our fight against terrorism helps people at home and abroad get a clearer understanding about terrorist threats in Xinjiang," the newspaper quoted Li Wei , an anti-terrorism expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, as saying. Turgunjan Tursun, a research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, asserted that the violence was unrelated to ethnic, religious or political issues, according to the paper. [...] The violence on April 23 was among a series of incidents highlighting ongoing tensions between authorities and members of the region's native Turkic-speaking Uygurs. That month, community watch members came across a room being used by the defendants and their associates and reported their suspicions to police. Fearing exposure, the court said, the men used machetes and axes to attack the community workers and police officers. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Beijing bites lip over Taiwan President Ma's US stopover (SCMP)
2013-08-14
Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou wrapped up his low-key but diplomatically significant stopover in New York and headed for Paraguay and the Caribbean yesterday, without having triggered any protest from rival Beijing. During his 40-hour transit visit, Ma engaged in a series of activities carrying diplomatic significance, such as having breakfast with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and meeting US Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, and ranking committee member Eliot Engel. He also visited the site of the September 11 attacks in New York, toured the campus of his alma mater New York University, and met business executives and representatives from Chinese-American communities. Taiwan's state-run Central News Agency quoted Bloomberg as saying after the hour-long meeting with Ma that the United States was very lucky to have an ally like Taiwan. Neither the Foreign Ministry in Beijing nor the cabinet-level Taiwanese Affairs Office commented on Ma's activities. Beijing once opposed any overseas visits by officials from Taiwan, which it still regards as a renegade province. Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. Former president Lee Teng-hui's stopover in the US and his high-profile visit to his alma mater Cornell in 1995 set off a crisis across the Taiwan Strait. Beijing protested to the United States when then-president George W. Bush approved a stopover in New York in 2001 by Ma's predecessor Chen Shui-bian. In 2006, Chen was asked to transit in Alaska rather than a major continental US city and nearly called off his trip following a protest from Beijing. Taiwanese media said Ma had made it a principle in relations with the US "to be low profile" and advised the media corps with him not to carry reports on his visit to New York. George Tsai Wei, a professor with the Sun Yat-sen Institute of Globalisation Studies at Chinese Culture University in Taiwan, said Beijing's mute reaction reflected an increased understanding between the political rivals. [...] Ma's visit to Paraguay will see him attend the inauguration of that country's new president, Horacio Cortes. Paraguay is the only South American country with formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Ma will visit Taiwan's four allies in the Caribbean Haiti, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Christopher and Nevis. The president's stop in New York was his first in the city since he took office in May 2008. In 2010, Ma transited in the US on a visit to Latin American allies, without complaint from Beijing. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Key Chinese cities and provinces set to receive stimulus - on the quiet (SCMP)
2013-08-12
The mainland government is quietly offering financial stimulus to key cities and provinces to help them maintain local economic growth. This is in addition to Shanghai taking up a huge loan from a state-owned bank to set up the first Hong Kong-like free-trade zone on the mainland. Government and banking industry sources familiar with the situation told the South China Morning Post that Agricultural Bank of China (Agbank), one of the big four state lenders, signed an agreement with the city government last week to provide loan credit worth 250 billion yuan (HK$314 billion) - equivalent to about 12.5 per cent of Shanghai's GDP for last year. This year senior government officials have repeatedly insisted that Beijing will not launch any nationwide economic stimulus - as it did in 2008 - to ensure that the world's second-biggest economy will not see a significant slowdown. But the sources, who declined to be named due to the highly sensitive nature of the matter, said Beijing did not rule out the possibility of "unofficial economic stimulus" to help key economies like Shanghai boost their growth. Other banks may quickly copy Agbank's loan plan for Shanghai and support other areas such as Guangdong province, where the export industry has been badly hit, the sources say. Such a huge loan arrangement by one state-owned bank for a mainland city like Shanghai is considered rare. Shanghai's continued growth is strategically important for the central government to ensure that the country can meet this year's 7.5 per cent growth target.In late 2008, Beijing announced a massive 4 trillion yuan stimulus package to help keep the country's economy growing during the financial crisis in the West. But it came under fire from many scholars and even some government insiders for being ineffective. According to an internal government memo seen by the Post, Agbank said it would support "the constructions of key international tourism and resort projects in Shanghai, in particular the Disneyland project" and it would also "play an active role in the construction of Shanghai's free-trade zone". The bank confirmed to the Post that it had signed an "all-aspect strategic co-operation" agreement with Shanghai, but declined to elaborate. ^ top ^

New green policy gives industries a big boost (China Daily)
2013-08-12
China will speed up development of the energy-saving sector and make it a pillar of the national economy by 2015, top policymakers said on Sunday. The State Council vowed in a statement to spur technological innovation, expand demand for energy-saving products and boost the environmental-protection service industry. According to the State Council, the value of the energy-saving industry's output will reach 4.5 trillion yuan ($728 billion) by 2015, an average annual growth of 15 percent. Wang Xiaokun, an energy analyst at Sublime China Information, a Chinese commodities consulting firm, said the policy gives clear direction to the industry and brings opportunities to investors, including private companies. The government will play a leading role and allow non-State capital to invest in energy-saving projects. "The government encourages low-carbon and energy-saving development, which means business opportunities to the suppliers for such industries," said Wang. "For instance, the equipment manufacturers for power plants and grid will benefit from the policy." Ren Junming, a commentator on Xinhuanet.com, said the policy is significant in terms of expanding domestic demand and promoting upgrading of traditional industries. China will invest 1.8 trillion yuan in the renewable energy industry during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) and spend another 2.3 trillion yuan on energy-saving and emissions reduction, Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said in late July. China has committed to reduce its carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from the 2005 level and raise its non-fossil energy consumption percentage to 15 percent of its energy mix. From 2006 to 2012, China's energy consumption per unit of GDP was reduced by 23.6 percent, equivalent to a reduction of 1.8 billion metric tons of carbon emissions. Market share of high-efficiency energy-saving technology and equipment will rise from the current 5 percent to 30 percent by the end of 2015, Xie said. "Facing the promising green and low-carbon markets, related companies should increase their investments in research, development and the application of low-carbon technology to strengthen their competitiveness in the global market," said Xie. "By coping with climate change and adapting to the new trend, companies can make profits and fulfill social responsibility at the same time." The market share of energy-efficient products will increase at least 50 percent by 2015, the State Council said. Urban sewage treatment capacity will also increase to 200 million cubic meters per day by 2015. ^ top ^

Foreign investing up (Global Times)
2013-08-12
Some 442,000 foreign-invested companies had been set up in China by the end of July, up 0.26 percent from a month earlier, according to a report released by the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) on Monday. Their registered capital fell 0.03 percent from a month ago to 12.09 trillion yuan ($1.95 trillion). In July, the number of newly registered foreign-funded companies increased 3.11 percent from a month ago to 3,000. Amid the lackluster global economic environment, ­multinational companies scaled back their investment in China. The actual use of foreign direct investment declined for eight consecutive months from June 2012. According to the SAIC, China had 14.38 million business enterprises by the end of July, up 2.07 percent month on month. Their registered capital rose 1.93 percent to 90.73 trillion yuan. ^ top ^

China to be world's largest oil importer (China Daily)
2013-08-14
China is set to overtake the United States as the world's largest net oil importer from October, according to US figures, spurred by rising Chinese demand and increasing US production. Next year, China's net oil imports will exceed those of the US, and the gap will continue to widen, the US Energy Information Administration said in a report. China is already the world's biggest energy user and the second-largest oil consumer after the US. The shift has been driven by steady growth in Chinese demand, increased US oil production and stagnant or weakening demand in the US, the EIA said. A graph on the EIA's website shows China's net imports steadily rising, with those of the US falling at a faster rate. The crossover point comes in two months. US annual oil output is expected to rise 28 percent between 2011 and 2014 to nearly 13 million bpd, while Chinese production is forecast to grow 6 percent. China's output will stand at just one-third of the US level in 2014, the EIA said. China's liquid fuel use will increase 13 percent over the period to more than 11 million bpd while US demand hovers near 18.7 million bpd. China imported 26.11 million metric tons (186.5 million barrels) of crude oil last month. Its exports were a mere 170,000 tons, according to official Beijing figures. China's rise as an oil importer will have a profound impact, the China Business News said on Monday. "China and the US will no longer be pure competitors in the energy sector - China is likely to import energy in bulk from the US," wrote commentator Li Dongchao. "The (rising) independence of US energy will support the rejuvenation of US manufacturing, which will renew competition with Chinese manufacturing," Li said. ^ top ^

China's 2013 growth around 7.5 pct: economist (Xinhua)
2013-08-14
China's economy is stabilizing, and if exports continue to see modest growth in the second half, then the pace of economic growth for the year is likely to be close to 7.5 percent, said a well known economist. Fan Gang, head of the National Economic Research Institute and former advisor to China's central bank, made the remarks at a forum in Sanya southern Hainan, Wednesday. While China cannot tackle problems like excess capacity and bad loans in the short term, stable growth in the property sector, the auto industry and infrastructure mean the economy has stabilized and is rebounding, Fan said. Data showed property investment in the January-July period rose 20.5 percent year-on-year, 0.2 percentage points higher than the rate in the first half. Vehicle sales jumped 12 percent, almost triple the race in the whole of 2012. Double-digit growth is no longer realistic and a rate between 7 and 8 percent - the world's fastest - is a natural rate for China, he said, adding that a rate below 7 percent would bring risks of deflation. Double-digit growth indicated overheating, he said. China's economic growth slowed to an annual rate of 7.5 percent in the second quarter, in line with the target for the whole year, but the trend has been downward for two consecutive quarters. The Chinese economy does not lack liquidity, but due to a shortage of opportunities, new bank loans have not trickled into the real economy to spur growth, he said. ^ top ^

China starts anti-dumping probe into optical fibers from India (Xinhua)
2013-08-14
China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) announced Wednesday that it has launched an anti-dumping investigation into single-mode optical fibers imported from India. The investigation has been launched in response to a petition filed by the domestic industry, according to a statement posted on the MOC's website. The MOC will investigate whether Indian companies have sold single-mode optical fibers at an artificially low price in China and damaged Chinese businesses. The investigation is expected to last for one year, but it may be extended to Feb. 14, 2015, according to the statement. Single-mode optical fibers are mainly used in high-rate and long-distance transmissions for TV cables and Internet networks. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Koreas reach agreement to reopen Kaesong industrial zone (SCMP)
2013-08-15
North and South Korea reached an agreement yesterday to reopen the Kaesong joint industrial zone - closed by Pyongyang in April at the height of soaring military tensions. A five-point agreement that came out of a seventh round of talks committed both sides to making "active efforts" to resume normal operations as soon as possible after inspecting shuttered plants. A joint panel will discuss compensation for economic losses suffered as a result of the complex's closure. The agreement will help lower tensions ahead of the launch of joint South Korean-US military exercises on Monday which the North had warned could bring the divided peninsula "to the brink of war". Established in 2004 as a rare symbol of inter-Korean co-operation, Kaesong was a key hard-currency earner for the North and the decision to shut it down took many observers by surprise. It was closed amid heightened tension following the North's third nuclear test in February. The previous six rounds of talks had foundered on the South's insistence that North Korea provide a binding guarantee that it would not close the complex again. Yesterday's deal suggested a compromise had been reached where the North accepted that a worker pull-out had closed Kaesong, while both sides promised to ensure it remained open in the future. "The South and the North will prevent the current suspension of the Kaesong industrial complex caused by the workers' withdrawal from being repeated again," the pact said. It also included a pledge to promote foreign investment in Kaesong - a key South Korean demand. The North had proposed the seventh round of talks last week, just hours after Seoul announced it was going to start compensation payments totalling US$250 million to businesses hit by Kaesong's closure. The payout move was widely seen as the first step towards a permanent withdrawal from the zone. Yesterday's accord was welcomed by South Korean company owners who had complained that Seoul and Pyongyang were using their livelihoods as political football. "We will do our best to help the Kaesong industrial park boost its international competitiveness and become a globally viable place for investment," said the association representing the owners. Monday's military exercises will involve about 50,000 South Korean and 30,000 US troops practising a North Korean invasion scenario. Although largely computer-simulated, it is viewed as highly provocative by North Korea, which has already issued dire warnings of its impact on stability on the peninsula. "If the drill takes place, conditions in the region will become unpredictable and escalate to the brink of war," the North's ruling-party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said last month. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolian law on Nuclear Weapon Free Status nominated for international award (UB Post)
2013-08-12
The World Future Council (WFC) annually holds the “Future Policy Award” which celebrates policies that create better living conditions for current and future generations, with the aim to raise global awareness for these exemplary policies and speed up policy action towards just, sustainable, and peaceful societies. This year, the Mongolian law on its Nuclear Weapon Free Status from the year 2000 has been nominated for the award. The WFC is an international non-governmental organization and it started granting the award in 2009 towards the goal of influencing countries’ policies by raising the awareness of the public about various challenges facing humankind. In 2009, the award promoted exemplary policies in food security, the finest biodiversity policies in 2010, successful forest preservation policies in 2011, and policies that protect coasts and oceans from pollution in 2012. This year, the award focuses on celebrating rightful and influential policies on the disarmament of nuclear weapons. A total of 25 policies have been nominated and a team of nine acknowledged judges have highlighted nine policies in its last meeting in which, to the delight of the country, this Mongolian law was included as the WFC reported. The winning policy will be announced at the UN Headquarters in New York on the eve of the United Nations Disarmament Week from October 24 to 30. ^ top ^

Former president has gone abroad for treatment (news.mn)
2013-08-14
Former president, Nambar Enkhbayar, the head of the Mongolian People`s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) left for South Korea for treatment on Tuesday August 13th. The former president, who has been in custody on charges of corruption, asked permission to go abroad for treatment. It is reported that he is not able to be treated in Mongolia after doctors diagnosed his health problem as cytolysis. His chronic weight loss has been used as proof in confirming his illness. The imprisoned former president N. Enkhbayar received a Presidential pardon from the re-elected Ts. Elbegdorj on August 1st. Originally jailed on corruption charges, Enkhbayar was convicted in August 2012 for a prison sentence of seven years, later reduced to two and a half years. With the exception of one month in jail, Enkhbayar spent most of his time in the second general hospital thanks to changes in the law regarding the medical treatment of prisoners. ^ top ^

Oyu Tolgoi LLC has announced they will not be firing workers (Info Mongolia)
2013-08-15
The decision made by Board Members of "Oyu Tolgoi" LLC to stop the underground expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi mine during their meeting on August 12 had caused quite a commotion. In connection to this news, medias are reporting that the managers of Oyu Tolgoi have been meeting with underground workers since Tuesday and some workers have been release from their jobs. Most of the underground mining workers are contract workers from Redpath Mongolia LLC. Over 90% of the 1,000 workers from the company are Mongolians. It is unclear how many people will lose their jobs and Head of the Oyu Tolgoi public relations department Ts.Ganzorig made statement saying, “Our stockholders held a meeting on August 12 and made the decision to stop the Oyu Tolgoi underground expansion until the financial matters are resolved. Therefore, the Government will probably make a decision in the near future after talking with Rio Tinto. However, there was news in the media saying “Oyu Tolgoi has fired 1,700 workers”. This is false information. We have developed a plan and are implementing it to resolve this matter. This plan includes transferring the workers to other posts. In other words, Oyu Tolgoi did not fire 1,700 workers. The underground mining workers are all highly trained, professional people. Our company spent time and money to train them. Therefore, if the stockholders resolve the issue, we will rehire them within 6 months”. ^ top ^

 

Andrin Eichin
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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