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
  9-13.9.13, No. 492  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Xi Jinping signs deals worth US$15b in Uzbekistan (SCMP)
2013-09-10
President Xi Jinping and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, signed agreements worth US$15 billion in key sectors, including the exploitation of oil, gas and uranium fields in the Central Asian state. In the latest stop on Xi's tour of Central Asia, Karimov praised his energy-rich country's growing ties with China which he described as the locomotive of the world economy. "For all the years of our independent development, China has never linked the provision and expansion of multifaceted bilateral co-operation with any political or other conditions," Karimov told reporters. The remarks appeared to be a veiled reference to Tashkent's sometimes awkward relations with the West over human rights concerns. Xi is on a closely-watched four-nation tour of Central Asia that has already seen him sign major energy deals in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. He is due to travel to Kyrgyzstan next. Beijing has in recent years been ramping up its influence in a region that was once Moscow's playground, seeking new sources of energy for its fast-growing economy. The two sides also signed a document to make changes to an Uzbekistan-China gas pipeline agreement signed a few years ago. The changes were due to the planned construction of a fourth branch of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline that runs through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Since 2002, China has invested more than US$6 billion in the Uzbek economy, and the volume of two-way trade reached US$3.4 billion last year, according to the Uzbek president. "One of our priorities is to increase the trade turnover between our countries to US$5 billion by 2017," Xi said. Xi president will also visit the ancient Silk Road town of Samarkand, where a Confucius Institute - China's equivalent to the British Council or the Goethe Institute - is expected to open. "I have long dreamt of visiting ancient Samarkand... and it is a great honour for me that President Karimov is accompanying me to his hometown," Xi said. ^ top ^

China, Sri Lanka pledge to cement friendship, boost cooperation (Xinhua)
2013-09-10
Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Liu Yunshan and Sri Lankan Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne met here Monday and agreed to further promote bilateral friendship and cooperation. To further consolidate the China-Sri Lanka friendship "not only serves the interests of both nations, but also helps promote peace, cooperation and development of the whole region," said Liu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. He hailed the "high level of mutual political trust" and thanked the South Asian country for its support on issues involving China's core interests. The Chinese side, he said, is happy to see the achievements Sri Lanka has made in ethnic reconciliation, economic development and the improvement of people's livelihood in recent years. Recalling that the two countries upgraded their relationship to a strategic cooperative partnership in May, he said China stands ready to work with Sri Lanka to grasp this opportunity and further boost bilateral economic and trade cooperation. Meanwhile, Beijing encourages more Chinese enterprises to invest in Sri Lanka, and will further deepen mutual exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, tourism, media and other areas, he added. Jayaratne, for his part, said the time-honored Sri Lanka-China friendship has been deeply rooted in the hearts of both peoples and bilateral cooperation has witnessed steady expansion. The prime minister expressed his gratitude for Chinese assistance for his country's development, and reaffirmed Sri Lanka's support for China's efforts to safeguard its core interests. Sri Lanka, he added, has strong will and stands fully ready to further boost cooperation with China in a comprehensive manner, and hopes to work together with China to carry on their friendship forever. Liu and Jayaratne also witnessed the signing of several bilateral cooperation agreements. Before his talks with Jayaratne, Liu met with Sri Lankan Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa and exchanged views with him on bilateral economic cooperation. China looks forward to the establishment of a China-Sri Lanka free trade zone as soon as possible, Liu told Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa said his country is confident of an early signing of a free trade deal with China given the positive progress in the negotiations over the past six months. [...]. ^ top ^

Xi visit shows new diplomatic thinking (Global Times)
2013-09-10
Chinese President Xi Jinping is still on his state visit in Central Asia. This visit to four countries in Central Asia shows that Beijing is paying special attention to this region. This region, in the traditional mindset of international politics, has inevitably drawn major powers to rival for larger spheres of influence. China has been included in this by some analysts. In Kazakhstan, President Xi reiterated China's three standpoints in dealing with foreign affairs with Central Asian countries: China will never interfere in the domestic affairs of Central Asian nations; China will never seek a dominant role in regional affairs; China will never try to nurture a sphere of influence. These remarks are not diplomatic cliché, but honest claims to build a new type of relations with foreign countries. China is not an empire, and it rejects the deep-rooted imperial thinking in forging diplomatic relations. China was humiliated and bullied for a century, which made the country much more eager for equality than its Western counterparts. China expands its diplomacy to Central Asia and the rest of the world not by guns and warships, but economic cooperation. In the meantime, such economic cooperation is also based on mutual benefits. When doing business in Central Asia, China does not claim itself as a "boss," but a partner. In those coordinating projects with Central Asian countries, China does not have a bigger say, but insists on a bilateral decision-making mechanism. Mutual benefit is always the strongest energy that can make cooperation progress. Even though it is said that China is competing with other major powers in Central Asia, such competition is transparent and positive, because the one who can benefit first is Central Asia. [...] Western public opinion is constantly talking about how intense the competition between China and Western powers will be. However, China never has the intention to engage in an intense competition with any other country. China's economic takeoff has made its economic influence spill over but China has always been played a cooperative and reciprocal role in world business. It is understandable that other countries have misread China because the world has been deeply influenced by the traditional zero-sum game. China is dedicated to developing new relations with the rest of world, simply because a peaceful and reciprocal development mode meets China's best interests. The China-Russian relationship has already established a model for the rest of the world, and China and the US are trying to develop a new type of relations. [...]. ^ top ^

China backs Russian plan for Syria chemical weapons (SCMP)
2013-09-10
China on Tuesday backed a Russian plan to head off threatened punitive US air strikes on Syria by destroying the regime's chemical weapons. “We welcome and support the Russian side's suggestion,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a regular briefing in Beijing. “As long as the suggestion is conducive to easing the current tension in Syria, solving the Syria issue politically and safeguarding peace and stability of Syria and the region, the international community should give positive consideration to it,” he added. Officials from China's foreign ministry were due to meet on Tuesday with a visiting delegation of six members of the Syrian opposition and “exchange views with them on the situation”, Hong added. Washington accuses Bashar al-Assad's forces of using chemical weapons to kill 1,429 people last month, and has been looking to build international momentum for a punitive strike. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Damascus to “place the chemical weapons under international control and then have them destroyed”. President Barack Obama has said the idea could be a “significant breakthrough”. China is a veto-wielding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and over the course of the conflict it has joined with Russia, a fellow veto-holder, to block resolutions supported by Washington and its allies. Beijing regularly calls for a “political solution” to the crisis in Syria. Hong's comments came after a senior American defence official pressed the US case for action in Syria at talks in Beijing by arguing that neighbouring Pyongyang should not be allowed to believe it could get away with using chemical weapons. “I emphasised the massive weapons arsenal that North Korea has, and that we didn't want to live in a world in which North Korea felt that the threshold for chemical weapons use had been lowered,” US Under Secretary of defence James Miller said he told his counterpart Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong on Monday. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he said he stressed “the importance from not just a US perspective but an international including Chinese perspective that this norm against the use of chemical weapons be upheld”. ^ top ^

China welcomes Syria's "major step" to ease tension (Xinhua)
2013-09-11
Syria has taken a "major step" in easing tensions in the country by showing support for a Russian proposal to place its chemical weapons stockpiles under international control, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wednesday. "China welcomes the Syrian government's latest statement. We hope all parties can seize the opportunity, respond positively to the statement and push for a proper solution to the issue of chemical weapons in Syria through political and diplomatic means," Hong told a daily news briefing. Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi stressed support on Tuesday for the Russian initiative in order to avoid a possible U.S. strike against Syria. Also on Tuesday, France reportedly drafted a United Nations Security Council resolution to demand a complete declaration of chemical weapons program from Syria and immediately open all related sites to UN inspectors. The draft says necessary measures might be taken under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, referring to steps ranging from sanctions to military intervention. China supports the UN Security Council in playing its important role in peace and security issues and is willing to keep in contact with all parties on the Council's next move, Hong said. "We maintain that the Security Council's actions should be based on consensus after full deliberation from all parties," Hong said, adding that the action should be conducive to easing tensions, preserving peace and stability in Syria and the region, and achieving a political solution in Syria. Hong reaffirmed support for the Russian proposal, saying China has been in touch with Russia, Syria and other parties involved. "On the Syria issue, we should safeguard the international rule prohibiting use of chemical weapons while adhering to a political solution," Hong said. "We need to promote the two tracks." Russia has been working on a feasible, clear, detailed plan to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control. Contact with the Syrian side is under way at the moment, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday following talks with his Libyan counterpart, Mohamed Abdulaziz. Lavrov assured that the plan would soon be submitted for further discussion to the UN Secretary General and the Security Council as well as the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. China will continue to uphold an objective and fair position, promote peace and dialogue, and play a constructive role in seeking a proper diplomatic and political resolution, Hong said. He also said China has noted U.S. President Barack Obama's televised address Tuesday and reiterated China's opposition to chemical weapons use and the threat or use of force in international relations. Hong said unilateral military action bypassing the Security Council is against international law and the basic norms of international relations, and worsens the unrest in Syria and the region. Russia's proposal offers an important opportunity to ease the tension and properly resolve the international community's concerns on the chemical weapons issue in Syria, he said. ^ top ^

China, Kyrgyzstan agree on security cooperation (China Daily)
2013-09-11
China and Kyrgyzstan vowed here on Wednesday to boost cooperation on security and jointly fight the "three evil forces" of terrorism, extremism and separatism. The "three evil forces" remain the major threat to security in the two countries and the whole region, the two countries said in a joint declaration issued after talks between visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambaev. In the declaration, they strongly condemned and opposed all forms of terrorism, extremism and separatism, and agreed to expand and strengthen coordination and cooperation to jointly combat transnational crimes including illegal arms and drugs trafficking. As members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), both countries agreed that the organization has contributed positively to safeguarding regional security and stability and promoting common development among member states. The two sides will deepen practical cooperation within the SCO, and promote the establishment of a SCO development bank and food safety mechanism. China and Kyrgyzstan, said the declaration, will have close coordination within the framework of the SCO. The Chinese side believes Kyrgyzstan, which currently holds the SCO's rotating presidency, has made a great contribution to promoting the SCO's development and successful preparations for the 13th meeting of the Council of Heads of the SCO Member States. On the role of the United Nations, the two countries pointed out that the UN has played a key role in safeguarding world peace and promoting international cooperation. They said international cooperation remains an important part of the strategic partnership between the two countries, adding that they would maintain cooperation within such multilateral frameworks as the United Nations to respond to regional and global challenges. They also supported the UN institutional reforms to improve its work efficiency and the ability to cope with challenges and threats timely, said the declaration. They agreed that peace and stability in Central Asia is in the interest of every country in the region, saying that they firmly oppose any external forces to interfere in the internal affairs of Central Asian countries. On cultural and people-to-people exchanges, the two countries attach great importance to strengthening exchanges and cementing their time-honored friendship. They expressed the willingness to deepen cooperation in culture, science, education, health, tourism, sports, intellectual property protection, innovation and cultural relics protection. Beijing, the declaration said, will provide 1,500 scholarships to Kyrgyz students in the next five years, and Bishkek supports China to set up Confucius Institutes in Kyrgyzstan's Osh. The Chinese president arrived here late Tuesday for a state visit to the Central Asian country, where he will also attend a SCO summit. Kyrgyzstan is the last stop of his ongoing overseas trip, which has taken him to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. He also attended a Group of 20 summit on September 5-6 in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. ^ top ^

Xi's Central Asia tour makes common ambitions clear to regional leaders (Global Times)
2013-09-11
In less than six months of coming into power, Chinese President Xi Jinping set off for his third major foreign visit. This time around, he plans to consolidate his country's position with important states in Central Asia. In his short stint as the Chinese president, Xi has covered three continents with important visits to Africa, Latin America and the US, and Central Asia. Although Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his latest meeting on the side lines of the G20 Leaders' Summit with his Chinese counterpart, said that the relations between Russia and China are moving "positively," yet China's renewed Central Asian focus may attract some attention from Moscow. Xi's latest 10 day program consists of four Central Asian states, namely Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, along with a second visit to Russia for the all-important G20 summit in St. Petersburg. He will round off his tour with an Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders' summit in Kyrgyzstan. All four Central Asian republics are enjoying major economic cooperation deals with China. From the longest gas pipeline in the world, from Turkmenistan to China, to infrastructure deals with Kazakhstan, China's investments in the region are boosting bilateral ties with all its regional partners. Xi started his tour with Turkmenistan, where one of the major highlights was the inauguration of the first phase of the world's second largest gas field, making China the biggest buyer of gas from Turkmenistan. According to reports, Xi will also be signing oil and gas deals worth $30 billion with Kazakhstan. Such deals indicate that the president is looking to acquire maximum possible resources to keep his country's economy moving in the right direction. Amid all these intricacies and regional dynamics, China will seek a cooperative mechanism with Russia over Central Asia as the close partners have the same energy suppliers, especially Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Thus, Xi's visit would send a positive signal of cooperation to Russia so that both countries can achieve mutual benefits. That is why, using the G20 summit in St. Petersburg as an ideal opportunity, China signed a long awaited mega gas supply deal with the Russian energy giant Gazprom. The deal was signed by the heads of Gazprom and CNPC, in the presence of both country's presidents. Furthermore, Xi, during the summit, was also categorical in his stance on Syria and supported the Russian narrative. Xinhua quoted Xi telling US President Barack Obama that only a political solution could solve the Syrian crisis and not a military one. In terms of regional stability, Afghanistan is also an integral part of Xi's agenda of discussion with his Central Asian counterparts. This is because the possible US pull out from Afghanistan makes the whole situation tricky as any spillover of violence from the country could harm Chinese interests in the region. Furthermore, along with these interests, instability in China's Xinjiang is also a matter of concern for China as the rebels are allegedly trained in Afghanistan. Xi's concerns and emphasis on importance of regional peace and stability was evident in his congratulatory letter to a meeting for law and justice ministers of SCO member states recently. Finally, the annual summit of the leaders of the SCO in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Friday, would also help define the direction of Xi's regional policies and cooperation. China and Russia have effectively used the platform to bring regional states together and thus place high value to it. On the other hand, both the states are also willing to take India and Pakistan on board as full members of the SCO. Xi is starting to explain what his vision of the Chinese dream actually means. The dream signifies a prosperous China, but this prosperity is only possible through regional stability and cooperation. ^ top ^

Japan boosts security at Diaoyus on anniversary of 'acquisition' (SCMP)
2013-09-12
Japan has boosted security around the disputed islands it nationalised a year ago yesterday amid protests from China, which also claims them and has been stepping up patrols of its own. Tokyo and Beijing are at odds over the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, called the Diaoyu Islands by China, and the Senkakus by Japanese. Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the Japanese government's purchase of several of the islands from their private owners - a sale China says was invalid. Both countries have since regularly sent coastguard vessels and aircraft to the area to assert their claims. The Japanese defence minister, Itsunori Onodera, said surveillance had been increased in the area for the anniversary, but gave no details. No incidents were reported as of early yesterday afternoon. The stand-off, which shows no sign of abating, has deeply damaged diplomatic relations between the two Asian powers and heightened concerns of a possible military clash. Japan lodged a protest after eight Chinese vessels on Tuesday briefly entered waters Tokyo claims near the islands. Japanese fighter jets were scrambled on Monday when a Chinese military aircraft believed to be a drone was spotted. Though the drone remained in international airspace, Japan expressed concern about the increased activity. So far, Tokyo and Beijing have been careful to calibrate their actions to avoid an armed incident. But with neither side backing down or wanting to look weak, the dispute continues to simmer. In a statement that appeared to up the ante, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday that Tokyo considered deploying personnel to the islands an option. No one lives on the islands, and China immediately called the remarks provocative. "If they do provoke, they must be prepared to take the consequences," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Tuesday in Beijing. Stationing public servants on the islands was a campaign promise made by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's hawkish ruling party, which is also pushing to give Japan's military a more assertive role in international peacekeeping and in stepping up territorial defences. The islands, also claimed by Taiwan, are 2,000 kilometres southwest of Tokyo, at the western end of Okinawa prefecture. ^ top ^

Foreign Ministry dismisses Philippine accusations (China Daily)
2013-09-12
The Philippines' claim that China has laid 30 concrete building blocks on Huangyan Island is a "sheer fabrication", the Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated on Wednesday. Philippine navy Vice-Admiral Jose Luis Alano said on Tuesday that Manila is "considering removing the concrete blocks", AFP reported. "China has indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan Island and its adjacent waters, and it is China that knows the island's situation best. What the Philippines claimed was a sheer fabrication," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in Beijing. On Sept 3, Philippine Defense Department spokesman Peter Galvez said that China laid 30 blocks on the island, and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told Parliament members that the concrete blocks were a "prelude to construction", a claim that Beijing strongly rejected. Xu Liping, a researcher on Asia-Pacific studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Philippines is attempting to "play the victim and attract sympathy" from the international community just days ahead of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting on the South China Sea issue. China and ASEAN member nations will begin consultations at a senior- level meeting in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on Saturday and Sunday on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. he waters off Huangyan Island have been a traditional fishing ground for Chinese fisherman since ancient times, and Manila did not assert any official claim over the island until 1997. What China has said and done in regard to Huangyan Island and its adjacent waters are completely within the prerogative of China's sovereignty, Hong said. "China urges the Philippines not to make any further provocations, meet the Chinese side halfway, make due efforts to safeguard the peace and stability of the South China Sea and mend the Sino-Philippine relationship," Hong said. A serious impasse over the island's situation loomed in April after a Philippines warship entered territorial waters off the island. ^ top ^

Don't expel liberal professor, US academics urge Peking University (SCMP)
2013-09-12
Peking University should not expel a liberal professor, Xia Yeliang, for political reasons, faculty members at Wellesley College in the United States urged in an open letter. In the plea addressed to the university's president, the dean of the School of Economics and the university's party secretary, the 130 American academics urged the university to uphold its commitment to academic freedom and not to fire Xia "based solely on his political and philosophical views". They said if the university expelled Xia, who has been teaching there since 2000, they would ask Wellesley College to reconsider its institutional partnership with Peking University. Xia, of the School of Economics, said yesterday he appreciated the support of Western colleagues but did not think it would help him. "They [Peking University] told me pressuring the university with outside support would not work in my favour," Xia said. The university has told Xia that it will tell him his fate this month. Wellesley College said in June it was launching a partnership with Peking University that encompasses "faculty and student exchanges, joint research and virtual collaborations". Xia visited Wellesley College on an academic trip last month. The Wellesley petition drew a harsh response from Beijing's Global Times, which published an editorial headlined, "Pass the evaluation first if you want to be a Peking University professor". The editorial, believed to have been written by the editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin, accused Xia - who it called an "extremist liberal" - of trying to seek special treatment simply because he's "advocating freedom and democracy". "Peking University should not give in to outside pressure and Xia's attitude," the editorial said. It said the university should make an independent decision by going through "regular procedures". One of the first signatories of Charter 08, the call for personal freedoms that landed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo in jail, Xia is one of the most outspoken liberal voices among Chinese academics. In 2009 he wrote an open letter to Liu Yunshan, who until last year headed the Communist Party's propaganda department, calling for an end to state censorship. Xia says he has been constantly watched and harassed. "Sometimes the plain-clothes officers sit outside my classroom and wait for me while I am teaching or having a meeting," he said. ^ top ^

Xi says China is keen to help get Iran nuclear talks back on track (SCMP)
2013-09-13
China was willing to help get Iranian nuclear talks back on track, President Xi Jinping said yesterday in a meeting with his new Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation summit in Bishkek, Kyr gyzstan. Iran's legitimate rights should be respected, Xi said, adding that the issue must be resolved through dialogue.
"The nuclear issue is a vital one concerning Iran's interests and regional peace and stability," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying, calling relevant parties to seek a solution acceptable to all sides.
Rouhani said Iran was willing to accept monitoring and supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran is at odds in particular with Western powers, which fear that its nuclear programme is covertly directed at giving it the means to build nuclear bombs. Tehran denies this and rejects any limits on its enrichment of uranium or a more intrusive IAEA inspection regime, as several UN resolutions have called for. The IAEA has held 10 rounds of talks with Iran since last year to resume a blocked inquiry into suspected atom bomb research. The talks have so far produced no results but a meeting is set for September 27 in Vienna and is seen by Western states as a litmus test of any substantive Iranian shift away from the intransigence under Rouhani's hardline conservative predecessor. In Vienna, Tehran's new envoy, Ambassador Reza Najafi, said at his first board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran would co-operate with the UN nuclear agency to find ways to "overcome existing issues once and for all", hinting at a more flexible approach under relatively moderate Rouhani. ^ top ^

Chinese, Tajik presidents agree to accelerate gas pipeline construction (Xinhua)
2013-09-13
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rakhmon met here Thursday and agreed to accelerate the construction of Line D of the China-Central Asia gas pipeline. Recalling that the two countries established a strategic partnership during Rakhmon's visit to China in May, Xi urged both countries to continue to be each other's good neighbors, good friends and good partners. The two countries should work together to safeguard security, stability and promote cooperation in the border areas, strengthen mutual trust and support each other on core-interest issues, and expand win-win cooperation to bring more benefits to the two peoples, said Xi. The Chinese president hoped both sides will launch the construction of Line D of the China-Central Asia gas pipeline as soon as possible, expand cooperation in such fields as mineral resources exploitation, agriculture and transport infrastructure, and make new breakthroughs in relevant cooperation projects. Moreover, the two countries' defense and law-enforcement agencies should push forward cooperation in counter-terrorism, drug control and border defense, said Xi. Both countries, Xi added, should strengthen cooperation under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to achieve long-term stability and common development and prosperity in the region.
Rakhmon, for his part, said Tajikistan has great expectations for future relations with China.
Tajikistan will sincerely work with China on the gas pipeline construction, which bears great significance for boosting the Tajik economy, Rakhmon said. The Tajik president also wished for an early signing of a long-term economic and trade cooperation agreement to boost bilateral trade. Meanwhile, the two countries should jointly combat the "three evil forces" of terrorism, extremism and separatism and maintain common peace and development, he said, adding that his country is ready to enhance coordination with China within the framework of the SCO. The two presidents also exchanged views on Afghanistan and presided over the signing of an agreement on the construction and operation of the natural gas pipeline.
Both Xi and Rakhmon are in Bishkek for the 13th meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the SCO slated for Friday. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Chinese premier calls for efforts to tackle urbanization challenges (People's Daily)
2013-09-08
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has called for efforts to tackle challenges in the country's urbanization wave and seek quality and efficiency in this process. China's urbanization needs to be supported by integrated reforms, said Li in a recent meeting with academicians and experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE). More than 100 experts from the two academies have conducted research on different aspects of urbanization, and they recently shared the research findings with the premier. A survey by the CAE showed that most of migrant workers born after 1980 are unwilling to go back to the countryside. The rural-urban population shift has become an inevitable trend. Academicians also found that more than 100 million migrant workers in Chinese cities cannot enjoy the same public services as urban residents, highlighting the need for reforms. A number of other issues including job creation and environmental protection in the urbanization process were also raised by academicians. Li said urbanization is a complex and big project and the government must hear opinions from all sides. The premier reiterated that China will put the people in the heart in pushing for urbanization, adding that China will take an urbanization path that incorporates the ideas of green and efficient growth. ^ top ^

Growth in number of Chinese Christians (Global Times)
2013-09-09
A Sunday report showed that the Chinese mainland saw over 2.4 million Protestant Christian followers baptized during the five years to the end of 2012, with experts saying that more people are turning to the religion for help and spiritual consolation. The report, released during the ninth National Chinese Christian Congress, said during the past five years, 5,195 churches had been newly built or renovated, as well as 1,057 pastors, 482 curates and 1,443 elders ordained. It also pointed out that the total number of full-time theology teachers had also seen a rise to 292, 130 of whom hold a master's degree or above, while three new Protestant seminaries were founded during the period. Over 4,300 seminary students had graduated and 3,702 were studying at seminaries. Ninety-four new branches of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China (TSPM) and the China Christian Council (CCC) were set up in cities and counties. Jiang Jianyong, deputy director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said during the congress that Christian churches in China must shoulder their social responsibilities and play a positive role when the society is undergoing dramatic changes. Xiong Kunxin, a professor with the Beijing-based Minzu University of China, told the Global Times that the rising number of Christian followers reflects the pursuit of spiritual belief among the public, especially when people feel troubled by social problems. [...] Shi Hengtan, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the growth is the hard-won result of local pastors' work and it also reflects that the government has eased the limits on religious activities. "The number of Christian believers is small compared with that of Buddhists in China, and among the 2.4 million, there may be some attending house churches at the same time," Shi said. According to China's regulation on religious activities, house churches are illegal and conducting religious activities outside authorized venues are banned. The TSPM, the CCC and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association are the only officially registered Christian groups in the country. Over 62 million copies of the Bible were distributed by TSPM and CCC from the resuming of worship by Chinese churches from 1979 to the end of 2012, said the report, adding that an annual average of 3.5 million copies were distributed in China over the period. ^ top ^

School explosion kills 2, injures 45 (Global Times)
2013-09-09
A man and a woman were killed in a Monday blast outside a primary school in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which also injured 45 others, 29 of whom were school children. At least 39 have been hospitalized due to injuries. Preliminary investigations showed that the blast took place at 7:10 am. The suspect rode past the school on a tricycle that caught fire and then exploded, killing the suspect, according to an official with the local government of Lingchuan county in Guilin. A student surnamed Chen told the Global Times that he felt the whole school building shake and fearing an earthquake, he rushed to the playground, where he claimed to have seen a mushroom cloud. [...] The injured are being treated at local hospitals and most of the injuries were from cuts due to the broken glass, the official said. Local authorities are still investigating, while pledging to tighten security inspections in Guilin as well as management of illegal explosives. Shu Kexin, a research fellow with the Workshop of Institutional Analysis and Public Policy of the Remin University of China, said that stricter supervision is only a temporary solution to prevent such cases from happening, with the rising number of people bearing grudges against society. "Rich people must shoulder their social responsibilities and care for the less-privileged groups. Once they are given enough attention, their unbalanced mood will be adjusted," Shu said, adding that the government is also obliged to protect those suffering from poverty. "Social stability is closely connected with the deeds of the social elites, who must contribute to their neighborhood and show some tolerance to the seemingly vexatious actions of the poor. People should not stoke discontent among this group of people as they are also the victims," Shu noted. ^ top ^

New nano-tech could treat China's lake pollution (Xinhua)
2013-09-09
Chinese scientists announced on Monday that they have developed a type of nanomaterial which can catalyze algae masses growing on water surfaces into inorganic earth. Chinese lakes are often plagued by catastrophic outbreaks of blue-green algae. Triggered by vast amounts of sewage water drained into rivers and lakes, it can exude an unusually bad odor, suffocate fishery stocks and turn water into a milky green shade. Algae pollution has been a particular problem in three of China's major freshwater lakes -- Chaohu, Taihu and Dianchi. Chinese governments at multiple levels have invested billions of yuan in recent years to treat the pollution. But large blooms of algae, although reduced in density, still persist in times of sufficient heat and sunshine, conditions that are favorable for its growth. Scientists with the Chinese University of Science and Technology said on Monday that their laboratory tests had showed a single gram of the new nanomaterial that can kill algae floating in an area equal in size to a basketball court. Fan Chongzheng, who led the research, said that the catalyzer leads to a biodegradation of the algae into an inorganic earthenlike substance. He added that lab tests were conducted on water covered with a density of algae of over 100 million particles per liter. The water of Chaoku Lake, home to the most serious algae pollution among China's major lakes, is covered with a density of algae of over 5 million particles per liter. The 13,000-square km lake, located in east China's Anhui Province, is surrounded by fast-growing cities. Heavy use and local industrial development in recent years have made it one of the country's most polluted lakes. Sewage discharge has brought excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus to the lake, incurring eutrophication of water, fueling the algae outbreak. The development and reform commission in the provincial capital of Hefei pledged last year that facilities that can handle 5,000 to 10,000 tonnes of wastewater per day will be built in every township surrounding Chaohu Lake by 2015. Fan said that the biological treatment, along with the government's measures to intercept sewage from urban areas, can together solve the algae pollution conundrum. He said the project team will conduct field studies at the lake, before reporting the research results to concerned central government departments for the application. ^ top ^

Infectious diseases kill 1,497 in China in August (Xinhua)
2013-09-10
A total of 1,497 people died of infectious diseases on the Chinese mainland in August, with AIDS the top cause of death, according to figures released by health authorities on Monday. AIDS infections resulted in 1,102 deaths last month, according to a statement posted on the website of the National Health and Family Planning Commission. Tuberculosis was the second-biggest killer by claiming 161 lives. A total of 619,396 infectious disease cases were reported on the Chinese mainland last month, according to the statement. Ten cases of cholera were reported, but no deaths were reported in this regard. Plague and cholera are categorized as Class A infectious diseases -- the most serious infectious disease category. About 323,921 cases were identified as Class B infectious diseases. Hepatitis, tuberculosis, syphilis, dysentery and gonorrhea accounted for 95 percent of cases in this category, the statement said. The statement said category C infectious diseases claimed 19 lives in August, with foot-and-mouth disease, infectious diarrhea and mumps reported most frequently. ^ top ^

CNPC officials ordered to surrender their passports as corruption probe widens (SCMP)
2013-09-11
All members of the middle and top management at China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) have been ordered to surrender their passports, a mainland newspaper and a source said, as authorities rush to contain the fallout from a widening corruption inquiry into the oil and gas giant. As many as 1,000 section heads and higher-ranking CNPC executives were also ordered to submit daily reports about their attendance, and industrial accidents, even if none occurred, the Securities Daily newspaper reported yesterday citing an unidentified company source. The initiatives aimed to prevent some of the main suspects fleeing abroad and make sure other officials were available to assist the probe, the paper said. Repeated attempts to reach CNPC for comment on the Daily's report yesterday were unsuccessful. A source close to CNPC told the South China Morning Post yesterday that the passport requirements were introduced at a company-wide meeting last week, days after authorities said they were investigating four top CNPC officials, including deputy general manager Wang Yongchun, for corruption. Days later, Xinhua announced Jiang Jiemin, director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (Sasac) was also under investigation for graft. The investigation of Jiang - who is a former chairman of CNPC, a ministerial-level official and a full member of the party's 205-strong Central Committee - and other top CNPC officials has sent shock waves through the state oil industry. In an apparent attempt to contain fallout from the widening graft probe in the sector, Sasac's party secretary Zhang Yi last week toured the Daqing oilfield in Heilongjiang province and the Changqing oilfield in the northwest to show solidarity with frontline production managers and workers. Zhang has called the investigation of top officials "some isolated cases" and said the central government still had faith in the company. A CNPC official told 21st Century Business Herald that other senior CNPC officials were particularly worried about the impact of the investigation on daily production. ^ top ^

Rules to combat online rumours 'unconstitutional', say experts (SCMP)
2013-09-11
China's first legal document on controlling online rumours has sparked public outrage, with legal experts saying it is a violation of the constitution. The judicial interpretation, which took effect yesterday after being jointly issued by the country's top court and prosecution body, has granted such unprecedented power to security authorities that web users can easily be charged for spreading false information online, analysts say. The top court's spokesman Sun Jungong said in a press conference on Monday that the interpretation was finalised after in-depth research lasting more than a year, and both the court and prosecutors made extensive efforts to seek feedback from both government bodies and legal professionals. But law experts said the so-called judicial interpretation was in fact a de facto revision of the law which neither the top court nor the top prosecuting body had the right to do. "Constitutionally, such major revision of the law can only be made after review by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature," said Wang Cheng, a Zhejiang-based lawyer who wrote an open letter to the committee to request the interpretation be repealed, saying that it contradicted the constitution. The 1982 constitution clearly states that only the NPC Standing Committee has the right to revise laws or to issue judicial interpretations, but in reality the court and the prosecution would sometimes take the latter role, Wang said. The new rules set out a list of charges by which an internet user can be punished when it comes to spreading online rumours, including stirring up trouble, a controversial and vague charge for which offenders can be sent to prison for up to 10 years. The charge previously referred only to crime that occurred in what is described as "the public space" and did not cover the internet. But Sun, the court spokesman, said cyberspace can be part of "the public sphere" since the internet is also a key component of public order. Tong Zhiwei, professor of law at Shanghai's East China University, said the authorities were playing with words by changing the term from "public space" to "public sphere". "The public space refers to the real world but the public sphere doesn't," said Tong. "This is a revision, not a new interpretation that could be given by the court and the prosecution." He added it was also a problem for the top court and prosecutors to jointly issue the document, as constitutionally they should be two separate bodies that keep each other in check. Liberal scholars also believe the legal document is so vague and broadly worded it could easily interfere with the right of freedom of speech, which is enshrined in the constitution. Under the new rules, people can be charged with defamation if online rumours they create receive 5,000 views or are reposted more than 500 times. In addition, "serious cases" that could result in criminal charges, including online posts that lead to mass protest, instigate ethnic or religious clashes, damage the nation's image or cause a bad international effect for the country, can be pursued by prosecutors. [...] Political scientist Zhang Ming of Renmin University in Beijing said the new rules give enormous power to police so that they can potentially arrest anyone that they want. [...]. ^ top ^

New policies on poverty relief through education (Xinhua)
2013-09-11
Quality education will make people in impoverished regions more capable of finding jobs, and poverty will thereby be reduced, according to a circular published on Wednesday by the State Council, China's Cabinet. "Education will help residents in the impoverished regions cast off poverty, expand the mid-level income group, promote regional economic and social development and the construction of eco-civilization," said the release. While urging a boost in the coverage and quality of basic education, the document stressed the role of vocational education in helping people increase their income and the value of higher education in acclerating regional development. The circular included detailed policies on funding, employment, support from other regions and the relocation of experts, calling for more money to be poured into areas with severe poverty. More efforts will be made to guide students in social practices, job-hunting and the design of their career path. The circular said that experts, scholars, experienced teachers, retired professionals and volunteers will be sent to temporarily serve in schools in impoverished regions, and more favorable policies will be drafted to attract talent to work there. According to the circular, the country aims to provide basic public education services that are "close to the national average level" for concentrated impoverished regions -- mostly in the underdeveloped west -- by 2020. The document urged provincial-level government to coordinate poverty relief in poor regions and lay down a work evaluation mechanism for inferior governments in accordance with the progress of various educational projects. The document was jointly mapped out by seven government departments including the ministries of education and finance as well as the National Development and Reform Commission. ^ top ^

One sixth of country are migrants (Global Times)
2013-09-12
One sixth of the Chinese population was migratory in 2012, according to a report published by the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Tuesday. The report on migratory population read that the total number of floating people who had left their birthplace reached 236 million last year and half of those who worked elsewhere were born after 1980. Some 75 percent of the new generation of floating population, aged 28 on average, left their hometown before 20 and more than 70 percent tended to settle in new cities. "Compared with the previous generation, the new one tends to safeguard their rights and their awareness of political participation has also increased," said Wang Qian, director of the floating population division of the commission. Niu Fengrui, former director of the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the new generation is better educated and less familiar with rural life, which explained their willingness to pursue opportunities in urban areas. "This new generation is a new driving force for urban construction thanks to their adaptability," Niu said, adding that the migrant population is more likely to cause civil unrest if the cities fail to fully accommodate them. Wang said as figures show that nearly 70 percent of the floating mothers-to-be prefer to give birth to their babies in their new cities, they are conducting a survey on basic public services for the floating population in an effort to prioritize the improvements for women and children. One third of the newborns nationwide in 2012 came from floating families. Zhang Zhiqiang, founder of Migrant Workers' Friend, an organization that helps protect migrant workers' rights, said that it is still hard for migrant workers to have a family in cities and this often leads to premarital cohabitation. "Some even gave birth to babies out of wedlock, which puts more pressure on local authorities, as many babies are born without any certificates," Zhang noted. The commission issued a notice in 2012 to facilitate the application for birth permission, which read that parents could provide a letter of commitment if their childbearing history could be traced to prove that they had not given birth previously. Niu noted that the number of the floating population will further increase during urbanization and it will take more time for authorities to come up with a feasible plan to clear the obstacles for them, as the interests of native urban dwellers will be affected. ^ top ^

Call to reduce English lessons to 'save' Chinese (SCMP)
2013-09-12
A former senior education official has triggered heated debate after he publicly denounced the teaching of English to young children and called for more classes on Chinese traditional culture. Wang Xuming, a former spokesman of the Education Ministry and now president of Language and Culture Press, wrote on his verified Sina microblog account that China should abolish English classes in primary schools and commercial English schools for children. Instead, it should increase the number of classes on guoxue, or national study, which refers to the study of Chinese traditional culture."[We should] free the children and save the Chinese language," he wrote. In 2002, the Ministry of Education ordered primary schools across the country to teach English classes, starting from the age of nine in the third grade, but it is now common for first-graders to have English classes. Wang, who boasts more than 1.8 million followers of his microblog, said he proposed more lessons on guoxue because the quality of Chinese-language textbooks and examination results were so weak, while English-language teaching materials and performance results were strong. He later published a lengthy online comment to elaborate on his opinions on "hitting the brakes on English learning by children across the country", saying Chinese language as the mother tongue had been facing numerous challenges. "Many Chinese cannot use the language properly. Chinese language and its characters are gradually being marginalised … It's a practical measure to protect the Chinese language by cancelling or reducing English lessons and increase enthusiasm for studying the Chinese language," Wang wrote. He called on education authorities to ban English studies in junior years of primary school and make it a selective course beginning in senior years of primary school. English tests should be removed from entrance examinations for high schools and universities, while examinations on Chinese-language should be increased. Meanwhile, profit-driven English tutorial schools, especially those targeting young children, should be limited or abolished, Wang wrote. Public opinion over Wang's remarks is divided. Some people argue that the academic load primary students bear is already too much, so they should focus on learning their mother tongue. Others say stopping English classes would not necessarily guarantee better Chinese-language skills. [...]. ^ top ^

China unveils tough measures to combat air pollution (SCMP)
2013-09-13
The mainland yesterday unveiled its first comprehensive plan to fight air pollution, promising significant improvements in air quality in key regions by 2017. The measures announced by the world's largest carbon emitter include closing down polluting factories, improving fuel quality and reducing overreliance on coal. Three major city clusters around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have been told to reduce levels of PM2.5 - the tiny airborne pollutants most harmful to human health and a major cause of smog - by 25, 20 and 15 per cent respectively between 2013 and 2017, according to the plan issued by the State Council. Beijing, which was shrouded in thick smog for months last winter, has a specific goal to limit its yearly average of PM2.5 to around 60mg per cubic metre by 2017. This is still well above the national standard of 35, and the safe limit of 10 recommended by the World Health Organisation. As a major measure to improve energy and economic structure, the plan aims to cut coal consumption in the total energy mix to below 65 per cent by 2017, down from 66.8 per cent in 2012. Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta - key industrial regions - should "strive for a reduction in total coal consumption", the plan said, and no new coal-fired power plants would be approved in these regions. Professor Chai Fahe, vice-president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, said the plan, which had been delayed by more than three months, could quicken the pace of the clean-up without sacrificing economic growth. But critics said the plan fell short of expectations, such as quantified coal caps in key areas. Dr Yang Fuqiang, senior Beijing-based adviser with the Natural Resources Defence Council, said municipalities such as Beijing and Tianjin should have aimed higher and cut PM2.5 by more than 25 per cent, as they had more resources. Shandong - a big coal consuming province perennially cloaked in smog - was left out in the PM 2.5 reduction scheme altogether. Li Yan, Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaign manager, said the targets to reduce dependence on coal and boost the use of renewable energy were largely in line with those in the national five-year plan for energy sector till 2015. Still, he hoped to see quantified coal reduction targets for the three major economic regions. "Without specific and binding targets to reduce coal consumption … whether the regional PM2.5 reduction targets could be met still remains to be seen." Yang agreed, and pointed out that resistance from local governments and industrial sectors to such caps was high. "There was a large gap between the central government's goal [for coal caps] and the offers made by provincial authorities," he said. Beijing and Hebei province have promised to cut coal consumption by 13 and 40 million tons respectively by 2017. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing reveals annual vehicle emissions load (Xinhua)
2013-09-11
Motor vehicles in Beijing consume more than 7 million tons of fuel annually, discharging about 900,000 tons of emissions every year, municipal environmental authorities said on Tuesday. The capital currently has 5.35 million vehicles, which consume over 4 million tons of gasoline and more than 2 million tons of diesel annually, said Li Kunsheng, an official in charge of vehicle emission management with the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. The annual vehicle emission load is about 900,000 tons and contains 77,000 tons of hydrocarbons and over 80,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, according to Li. "Vehicle emissions have been proven to contain over 100 kinds of carcinogenic substances. Even worse, the emissions are discharged at low altitudes, which may affect people's health more directly," Li said. Cars in the city are considered major polluters in Beijing, with its number keeps growing. A report by a research team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences revealed that vehicle exhaust has beaten industrial emission to become Beijing's top sources of air pollution, contributing to 22.2 percent of PM 2.5 particles. PM 2.5 particles are airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter that caused hazardous smog earlier this year. Li said that it is difficult for Beijing's emissions to diffuse because the city is surrounded by mountains, and emission reduction should be the first consideration when the city government strives to improve air quality in the often smog-shrouded city. Beijing unveiled a package of anti-pollution measures earlier this month, including cutting vehicle emissions and curbing industrial pollution. The package is part of an action plan released by the municipal government, which has pledged to reduce PM 2.5 density by 25 percent or more by 2017. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangzhou to end controversial labor camps (People's Daily)
2013-09-09
All detainees in Guangzhou labor camps will have completed their sentences and be released by the end of the year, a senior judge has said. Authorities in the Guangdong provincial capital stopped approving applications for laojiao — a controversial system of re-education through labor — in March. "The police and many legal experts have realized the drawbacks of laojiao and called to abolish the system, which has become outdated," Yu Mingyong, deputy president of Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court, was quoted as saying by local media. "Many of those released from laojiao find many difficulties returning to society, families and work after... their personal freedom has been restricted in labor camps for several years." Guangzhou still has about 100 people in labor camps, he said. Police with Guangzhou's public security bureau declined to comment when contacted by China Daily. Last year, Yu's court overturned a district court's ruling that police had the right to sentence a man to laojiao for visiting a sex worker. The man, whose identity was not released, was detained after visiting a prostitute in the city's Yuexiu district in the early hours of Dec 10, 2011. He was fined and detained in a labor camp for six months. The 23-year-old took the police to court, arguing that the punishment was too severe. The Yuexiu district court originally ruled in favor of the police in January. However, that verdict was later overturned on appeal by Yu's court. The man was released and given 22,000 yuan ($3,600) compensation after serving less than six months of his sentence. The laojiao system was established in the early 1950s and legalized in 1957 by China's top legislature. It allows authorities to detain people for minor crimes for up to four years without trial. [...] Public opposition to the practice has grown stronger in recent years, particularly among legal professionals. In response, in one of his first speeches after taking office, Premier Li Keqiang promised reforms to laojiao. "The system should come to an end, as it runs counter to legal procedures and infringes on the rights of a citizen," Wang said, adding that it also creates opportunities for police corruption and abuse of power, as officers can put people in labor camps without any court ruling. [...] "Guangzhou can be a role model in gradually abolishing the decades-old system," Peng said. ^ top ^

Guangdong studying a free-trade zone to include Hong Kong and Macau (SCMP)
2013-09-10
Guangdong authorities are studying a plan to create a free-trade zone covering parts of the province, Hong Kong and Macau. The idea, floated by provincial party secretary Hu Chunhua at a Pan Pearl Delta forum yesterday, came two weeks after Shanghai won State Council approval to set up the mainland's first free-trade zone. It is the first time a leader of Hu's stature has raised the idea of forming a free-trade zone spanning Guangdong's borders with the two special administrative regions, adding weight to the proposal. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said he had discussed the idea with Hu and was also looking into it. "I have met Mr Hu to discuss [the free-trade zone], but it is still in its infancy," he said in Guiyang, Guizhou province, where the forum was held. No concrete details were offered yesterday about how the free-trade zone should be formed, how it would operate or what its role would be. But among the initial ideas was a plan to bundle the new zone with three existing special development zones in Guangdong, according to some mainland media reports. Those zones - earmarked as pilot free-trade zones - are Qianhai in Shenzhen, Hengqin Island off Zhuhai, and Nansha in Guangzhou. If formed, the new zone would cover more than 1,000 square kilometres, making it much bigger than Shanghai's 28.78 sq km zone. The revelation of the plan by Hu, a member of the Politburo, came as Vice-Premier Wang Yang called for closer co-operation between the Pearl River Delta region economies. [...] Ding Li, an economist at the Guangdong Academy of Social Science, believed more innovative measures would be tried in the free-trade zone covering Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau than in Shanghai's. "The central government may apply some rules of Hong Kong and Macau to Guangdong," he said. "The formation of a cross-border free-trade zone could provide a strong hinterland for the offshore yuan business in Hong Kong, such as allowing easier investment of offshore yuan back to the mainland." [...]. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

China sentences three to death over Xinjiang unrest (SCMP)
2013-09-13
A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced three people to death and another to 25 years in jail over violent unrest in the ethnically-divided Xinjiang region in which dozens were killed, state media reported. China labelled the June 26 riots as a “violent terrorist attack”, and reacted by boosting security and vowing to crack down on such incidents. The Xinhua state news agency said at the time that “knife-wielding mobs” attacked police stations and other sites in Lukqun township, Shanshan county, before officers opened fire, leaving 35 people dead. In a brief report late Thursday it said a court in Xinjiang “sentenced three persons to death and one person to 25 years in jail for a violent terrorist attack” in Shanshan on that date. The incident was the deadliest to hit the western desert region – home to around 10 million members of the mostly Muslim Uygur minority – since July 6, 2009, when riots killed around 200 people. Two days later, in Hotan city more than 1,000 kilometres away, Xinhua said, 100 “terrorists” provoked “riots” and attacked people “after gathering at local religious venues”. Xinjiang, a region about twice the size of Turkey, is periodically hit by clashes between members of China's Han majority group and Uygurs, many of whom complain of religious and cultural repression by Chinese authorities. On August 12 a court in Xinjiang sentenced two “terrorists” to death over an incident in April in which gunfights broke out and 21 people died. Just over a week later, 22 Uygurs were shot dead according to overseas reports in what state media said was an “anti-terrorism” incident in which a Chinese policeman was also killed. Violent riots involving Uygurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi in 2009 killed around 200 people, leading the ruling Communist Party to tighten surveillance and boost investment in the region. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

New listing rules to strengthen Hong Kong's IPO market (SCMP)
2013-09-13
A lot has been said about the recent amendments to the listing regime, which comes into effect on October 1. Many people see these changes as a positive step to protect investors' interests, but there are others who view them as overly onerous and unnecessarily restrictive, especially in this stormy market where there seem to be more typhoons than successful listings. While there is uncertainty on the impact and implications of the new rules, some of which may seem controversial, they have the potential of benefiting the investors and the stock exchange and improving the initial public offering market in the long run. A key purpose of introducing tougher rules is to raise the responsibility and liability standards for "sponsors", which are the banks most closely involved in the management of a company's listing process and responsible for "blessing" the deal. A sponsor will now face criminal liability for mis-statements in the prospectus. This will be a strong deterrent for banks who are less familiar with the process and forces them to enhance internal compliance and ensure that the pre-IPO work is carried out properly. In addition, a sponsor must complete all reasonable due diligence before a draft prospectus is submitted to the stock exchange for review and simultaneously released to the public. This forces sponsors to be more thorough in their pre-submission work in order to ensure that only a substantially completed and verified draft is ready for scrutiny. Will banks become less inclined to take up sponsor roles, thus impacting the future number of IPO deals? Not necessarily, given that acting as a sponsor is likely to lead to a larger cut of the underwriting fees. As long as strict compliance standards are maintained, a sponsor can easily minimise its liability risk. The new listing regime will likely be received with open arms by investors, who can take comfort that a listing candidate would have undergone and passed stricter checks. Investors can also be more assured that they are not putting their money into immature deals, because sponsors will likely be more selective and focus on companies truly suitable and ready for listing in Hong Kong. What about the worry that the stricter rules will reduce Hong Kong's competitiveness as a global IPO destination? Although the new rules may not have the immediate effect of encouraging more companies to list in Hong Kong, it can be expected that the potential candidates that do become listed will be better managed and more prepared. This enhances the overall standard and quality of the companies listed on the stock exchange, which in turn boosts the international reputation of Hong Kong as a preferred listing destination for good companies. Given recent examples in which the sponsor's work was truly sub-standard, such as the Hontex case, it was vital and timely for Hong Kong to introduce these changes to its listing regime to restore investor confidence, and to up its game in the Asian and global IPO market.
The Singapore Stock Exchange, for example, has already raised its listing qualification requirements in a bid to attract bigger and better companies. It is now up to the dedication and commitment of regulators to enforce these new rules and help Hong Kong regain its No 1 position in the international IPO market. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Ma Ying-jeou risks splitting Taiwan's KMT, lawmakers warn (SCMP)
2013-09-10
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou is said to be risking a major rift in his party amid the fallout from alleged influence-peddling that has forced his justice minister to resign. Ma at the weekend accused legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng, a fellow member of the Kuomintang, of influence-peddling by lobbying former justice minister Tseng Yung-fu not to appeal against the acquittal of prominent opposition lawmaker Ker Chien-ming in a breach-of-trust case. Yesterday, Premier Jiang Yi-huah - a Ma ally - weighed in, saying Wang should resign because his integrity in future legislative sessions could be in doubt. If Wang is forced to step down, it could drive a wedge between supporters of both men, analysts and lawmakers said. Some KMT lawmakers said yesterday that they feared a stormy legislature ahead if Wang was sacked. I don't know if Ma has considered the possibility of a split within the party if the speaker is sacked. This would also affect our chances in next year's local government elections." The opposition Democratic Progressive Party has accused Ma of undercutting the judiciary's independence. Ker, the DPP caucus whip, led the attack. "Ma Ying-jeou is the one who violates the law and disrupts judicial independence," said Ker, adding that he had orchestrated a power struggle within the KMT to force Wang from his post. Ker was found guilty in the breach-of-trust case and sentenced to six months in jail or a fine of NT$180,000 (HK$47,000). He appealed to the High Court, which overturned the verdict in June. Tseng quit on Friday after investigators from the Supreme Prosecutor's Office accused him and the head of the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office, Chen Shou-huang, of trying to block an appeal against Ker's acquittal. On Sunday, Ma said that Wang's lobbying of Tseng was the "most serious infringement of Taiwan judicial independence" and the "most shameful day in the development of Taiwan's democracy". Wang is influential within the KMT, as well as in southern Taiwan. Premier Jiang said the KMT's disciplinary committee could reach a decision as early as tomorrow on whether to pursue influence-peddling allegations against Wang. [...] DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang said Ma, in his dual role as KMT chairman, could order the party's disciplinary committee to expel Wang. Su claimed Ma was displeased by Wang's apparent inaction on various bills, including a referendum on a nuclear power plant and a cross-strait service trade agreement. "By sacking Wang, Ma could take the reins of the legislature and order KMT legislators to follow his instructions," Su said. ^ top ^

Taiwan speaker Wang Jin-pyng expelled from KMT (SCMP)
2013-09-12
Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang yesterday kicked the legislative speaker out of the party for allegedly meddling in a legal case, intensifying a political crisis that has already brought down the justice minister. Analysts and lawmakers warned that the decision to revoke Wang Jin-pyng's party membership - which would almost certainly lead to his losing the speakership - would exacerbate instability in Ma Ying-jeou's administration, which has been plagued by economic woes and public discontent at its performance. "We have decided to revoke Wang's membership for damaging the image and reputation of the party, following a heated debate of the issue," Huang Chao-yuan, head of the KMT's disciplinary committee, said after a two-hour meeting. The committee said Wang, 72, would be given 20 days to appeal and would lose the speakership if the appeal failed. Wang launched action in the Taipei District Court late yesterday against the party's decision. His status as a legislator is uncertain. Ma, who is KMT chairman as well as the island's president, had demanded that the committee revoke Wang's membership if he did not resign from the party. Ma, who had been calling for Wang's removal since last week, shed tears when asked by committee members why he was insisting that Wang must go. "Though it is a painful decision, it should still be made," Ma said at a news conference. The president added that he was disappointed with Wang's insistence on Tuesday night that he had not done anything wrong and would not quit his post. The veteran politician enjoys broad support in the legislature and throughout southern Taiwan. A special investigation division under the Supreme Prosecutors Office accused Wang of lobbying former justice minister Tseng Yung-fu not to appeal in a breach-of-trust case against Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Ker Chien-ming. Citing wiretap transcripts, the division said the lobbying was inappropriate, although no money was involved. It asked the Control Yuan, a government watchdog, to decide whether to impeach Tseng, who resigned on Friday. Although he had no direct evidence of the alleged irregularity, Ma denounced Wang on Sunday for what he described as the "most serious infringement of Taiwan's judicial independence" and the "most shameful day in the development of Taiwan's democracy". The way Ma dealt with the case without due process of law and his subjective conclusion has seen Wang gain overwhelming support and sympathy from the public and news media. Wang's allies in the south of the island launched a campaign yesterday to support him, with 11 community leaders quitting the KMT and more threatening to follow suit. But Wang asked his followers to show support for the party, of which he said he wanted to remain a loyal member. Political analyst Chuang Suo-han, of Shih Hsin University, said: "The sacking of Wang will not only usher in a stormy legislature, with opposition legislators using violent means to block legislative bills they oppose, but also bring forth political instability due to a widening rift within the KMT.". ^ top ^

 

Economy

Exports expand in Aug amid signs of recovery (China Daily)
2013-09-09
The accelerated pace of China's exports in August has added to the signs of a gradual recovery, experts said on Sunday. Exports jumped in August by 7.2 percent from a year earlier to $190.73 billion, compared with 5.1 percent growth in July, the General Administration of Customs said on Sunday. But imports increased by only 7 percent year-on-year to $162.12 billion, down from the 10.9 percent increase in July, leaving China with a $28.61 billion trade surplus. Overall foreign trade grew 7.1 percent year-on-year in August to $352.85 billion, compared with the 7.8 percent increase in July. Zhang Liqun, a researcher at the State Council's Development Research Center, said the boost in exports was the result of favorable government policies. [...] "The 7.2 percent growth rate indicates a clear recovery of exports," Zhang said. [...] Mukhisa Kituyi, secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, said China should increase its overseas investment in high-end manufacturing and knowledge services while encouraging its enterprises to establish overseas manufacturing bases and production networks to better use global resources. "This will not only enhance local employment, but also reduce pressure on China's environment and resources and thus sustain growth," he said. Rintaro Tamaki, deputy secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said China's economic growth will accelerate in the second half of this year, but the pace will still be slower than in past years. Wang Jun, an expert at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said China's economic growth in the second half will outstrip that of the first half. He said the upward foreign trade trend in August, driven by the government's facilitating measures and improvement in overseas demand, matches the growth momentum. China's trade with major partners expanded in August, except for a continued decline with Japan. Trade with the European Union, China's largest trading partner, rose by 3.2 percent, while that with the United States, China's second-largest trading partner, rose by 9.2 percent. ^ top ^

Nation vaults to world's 3rd-largest investor (China Daily)
2013-09-10
Even as global outward foreign direct investment contracted last year, China set records in this area, becoming the world's third-largest investor, a government report said on Monday. China's outbound FDI rose 17.6 percent year-on-year in 2012 to a record high of $87.8 billion, according to the 2012 Statistical Bulletin of China's Outward Foreign Direct Investment, which was released by the Ministry of Commerce, the National Bureau of Statistics and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. The report was released during the 17th China International Fair for Investment and Trade, held in Xiamen, Fujian province, which began on Sunday and closes on Wednesday. Global ODI slid 17 percent last year, amid uncertainties confronting the world economy. China's increase made the nation the world's third-largest investor last year after the United States and Japan, for the first time since the country began to release the data a decade ago. China was the world's sixth-largest investor in 2011, with an outward FDI flow of $74.65 billion, according to last year's report. "The Chinese government introduced measures to encourage outbound direct investment in pursuit of the 'going abroad' strategy, and the country's outward FDI maintained robust growth in recent years," said Zhou Zhencheng, commercial counselor of the department of outward investment and economic cooperation of the Ministry of Commerce. Huo Jianguo, president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a think tank of the ministry, said that the surge in outward FDI was mainly driven by domestic enterprises eager to tap overseas markets and profit from using global resources.[...] Flows to the US jumped 123.5 percent to $4.05 billion, making the nation the second-largest destination for China's ODI. Total ODI to developed economies, at about $13.51 billion, was virtually flat year-on-year at $13.42 billion, according to the bulletin. [...] Developed economies where growth has been weak since the 2008 financial crisis have welcomed ODI from China, which has huge foreign-exchange reserves and cash-rich enterprises, Zhou said. "The fast increase of China's outward FDI also showed that the country's manufacturing is significantly gaining international competitiveness. "Further, the country is eager to establish transnational cooperation through mergers and acquisitions in international markets," Huo added. In 2012, Chinese enterprises completed 457 outward M&A transactions valued at $43.4 billion. Those were record highs for both numbers and value. [...]. ^ top ^

Sun has set on China's bid to build solar economy (SCMP)
2013-09-10
Only five solar power vendors remain in a space built for 170 at a sprawling complex of offices stacked three storeys high outside Xinyu city, Jiangxi province. Locked doors and empty offices are what's left of the government's audacious plan to dominate the global solar industry. What happened in Xinyu is being replicated across the mainland, which used subsidies and US$47.5 billion of credit to wrest supremacy from Germany, Japan and the United States, saddling the industry with losses for at least two years. "There is definitely a slew of smaller zombie companies out there that are going to continue to fall one by one," said Angelo Zino, an analyst at S&P Capital IQ. "You'll see 10 to 12 names here when it all shakes out. The remaining names will either go bankrupt or be consolidated." Government support created manufacturing giants such as LDK Solar and Suntech Power Holdings and made them dependent on financial aid from local authorities.[...] Panel prices, even after gains in the past six months, are 60 per cent lower than in November 2010 and have forced into bankruptcy dozens of those companies, including the largest unit of Suntech, once the industry's biggest producer. The market, known as Silicon Xinyu, was the first permanent trade fair of its kind in the country when it opened last year. Today, it's a ghost town, highlighting the unfulfilled promise following the country's investment in building its solar industry. [...] LDK and Suntech are in the top tier of mainland solar manufacturers that prospered with state support and sold shares to investors in New York in the past decade. China's solar industry now accounts for seven out of every 10 solar panels produced worldwide and eight of the top 10 panel makers, according to data. All that building led to overcapacity. Were they to run at full speed, the mainland's factories could produce 49GW of solar panels a year, 10 times more than in 2008 and 61 per cent more than installed globally last year, according to data. A gigawatt is about as much as what a new nuclear reactor can supply. China's involvement in the industry widened in 2004, when its suppliers began to boost capacity to meet demand created by incentives for solar projects in Germany, according to Jenny Chase, an industry analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Sales soared as Europe and US states from New Jersey to California offered incentives for renewable energy. Solar-cell prices declined, making even more developments profitable. Annual global solar installations reached 30.5GW last year, more than 10 times the figure for 2007, according to London-based BNEF. Hundreds of manufacturers sprang up, including Suntech and LDK. They built bigger and more automated factories than ever seen, squeezing prices lower and hurting Sharp of Japan, Q-Cells of Germany and Solyndra of California. The latter two entered bankruptcy along with at least 30 other companies. The cost of a solar cell is about 41 US cents a watt today, down from US$1.46 in 2010. ^ top ^

Mexico offers China US$300b in infrastructure deals (SCMP)
2013-09-11
Mexico is looking to China to boost its economy while offering Chinese companies a share of US$300 billion of infrastructure projects being planned for the country, which could serve as a back door for mainland manufacturers to export their goods to the United States. "Mexico requires large investments in infrastructure, such as oil platforms, trains, ports, bridges and highways. China has premier quality in infrastructure and time-to-market delivery," said Banco Interacciones managing director Fernando Moreno, who is in Beijing seeking mainland investment and building relations with potential Chinese partners. "Mexico has a large border with the US. There is going to be a lot of interest from Chinese companies in putting up factories to supply to the US market. This infrastructure can help. "Our bank is looking for Chinese industrial companies to invest in Mexico to supply the US market." Banco Interacciones is Mexico's largest infrastructure-financing bank. Under the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, there are no tariffs on most goods moved between the US and Mexico. Previously, Mexican factories that exported to the US were seen as competitors by Chinese manufacturers. [...] Earlier this year, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced a transport and communications infrastructure investment programme for the six years to 2018, under which the government would allocate US$300 billion for building highways, railway, ports, airports and telecommunications infrastructure. Pena Nieto also announced the opening of opportunities for foreign investment in energy and mining, which were previously closed to foreign investment. "There is greater possibility of Chinese companies investing in Mexican oil," Moreno said. The government aimed to boost infrastructure spending from about 4 per cent of gross domestic product in the past to 7 per cent, he said. Moreno said the two previous governments had neglected foreign investment, but Pena Nieto, who took office in December last year, was more proactive in courting foreign investment. Chinese investment in Mexico was still small, he said. The US was the biggest investor last year with investments reaching US$7.52 billion, according to government data. China invested US$80.7 million. China was also Mexico's second-biggest trading partner after the US, with trade between the two countries soaring to US$62.7 billion last year from just US$3.2 billion in 2000, Mexican data showed. ^ top ^

China's global firms face 'trust gap' (China Daily)
2013-09-12
China's multinational corporations face a wide gap between how they are trusted at home and abroad, according to an international survey released on Wednesday. While enjoying an 83 percent trust rate in the domestic market, these companies won only a 50 percent trust rate among respondents in other emerging markets — and the figure was just 24 percent for developed markets, a survey by global public relations firm Edelman found. The level of trust in Chinese corporations in developed markets is even lower than for companies based in South Africa and India: 31 percent of the respondents in developed markets trust corporations based in South Africa and 28 percent trust companies from India. China-based companies rate particularly low in Germany (19 percent), France (22 percent) and the United States (26 percent), the survey found. Edelman interviewed 5,400 "informed online respondents" in nine developed and emerging countries. The report attributed the trust deficiency mainly to low brand familiarity and sensitivities about State involvement. Respondents in developed markets believe that companies from the emerging markets have close ties with their national governments. While respondents in developed markets have a 50 percent trust rating in listed companies, only 37 percent trust State-owned companies. Richard Edelman, president and chief executive officer of Edelman, noted that people in developed markets are increasingly nervous about Chinese companies entering their markets. He noted that only one-third of the respondents in developed markets are willing to see a Chinese company buy a company in their markets, and only 38 percent want a Chinese company to get access to their markets. "This is a big problem. 'Branding China' is not helping if Chinese companies want to go global," he said. But a few Chinese corporations stand out. Lenovo Group Ltd earned a 72 percent consumer awareness level in the US and Air China Ltd enjoyed a 63 percent rating. These levels were much higher than corporations in other emerging markets. Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group Co Ltd, a major Chinese real estate developer that has expanded aggressively overseas in recent years, said the trust deficit is "normal" because corporations in emerging markets are still in the early stages of development. He said at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian that his company's overseas expansion, including the acquisition of US cinema conglomerate AMC Entertainment last year, had not been affected by the trust issue. He added that Wanda had discussed the move fully with AMC executives before seeking shareholder approval. The survey also found that in developed markets, the most common perception of China-based corporations is they lack transparency and openness. Developed market respondents also think that Chinese companies have failed to produce high-quality products and act responsibly in a crisis. David Brain, Edelman Asia-Pacific president and chief executive officer, warned that companies will pay the price if they fail to respect employee rights and protect intellectual property rights. [...]. ^ top ^

Demonstrative economic change required (Global Times)
2013-09-13
At the opening ceremony of the Summer Davos Forum on Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the new season of Chinese economic miracle, one of better quality and higher efficiency has been unveiled. He stressed the importance of economic transformation and called for innovation, and promised to carry forward the reform to the end. Transformation, restructuring and innovation - these have gradually become high-frequency words in the reports of China's top leadership, which means they have made steadfast determination to let the reform carry on. However, so far, local governments have not been on the track to fulfill these established goals. It is believed that local governments have been "kidnapped" by the vested interests acquired through the out-dated development model, and innovation is risky. To some extent, this is true. Local governments are more dependent on simple routes to make revenue, such as selling land. What's more, deep reform, which will inevitably tackle vested interests, imposes greater risks on the promotion of local officials. China has already established a pattern of infrastructure construction to boost its social and economic development. Using a government-led model, China has speeded up its development. However, rapid development is pushing the Chinese economy to over-heat. Wasted resources, environmental destruction and property bubbles corrode China's economic achievements. These problems are also sounding alarms to government officials. But besides the need to safeguard their vested interests, officials are facing a huge barrier: They don't know what to do. So far, there are no existing successful examples of economic restructuring. The long-practiced extensive economy has already combined the benefits of both the local governments and the local people, making them reluctant to "start a new undertaking." It should be noted that this extensive economic model has created many employment opportunities, promoted consumption and produced large revenues. But besides some theoretical assumptions, China has not explored more practical patterns to replace it. Now China is in need of some pioneers to make breakthroughs, like the ones who opened China's reform and opening-up 35 years ago. Like sparks of fire, China needs a handful of enterprising officials in local governments to break the deadlock. Their breakthroughs will prove that restructuring is feasible and the reform will produce more profits than before. This will be tough exploration. China is doing it before crisis happens. It could be held back by the difficulties. Fully releasing the energy of the market is the key to the success of reform. It is necessary to reinvigorate the innovation of enterprises, which have been too reliant on the government. At the start of China's reform and opening-up, special economic zones demonstrated the change. It might be unfeasible to set up a few similar zones officially to research economic transformation, but it is important for the government to hold this thought and allow certain places to make this undertaking possible. Wisdom and encouragement will bring restructuring breakthroughs. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

DPRK holds paramilitary parade to mark 65th founding anniversary (Xinhua)
2013-09-09
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Monday marked its 65th founding anniversary with a parade of paramilitary forces and civilians. DPRK leader Kim Jong Un, who was standing on an upper podium overlooking Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square, inspected massive throngs of goose-stepping Worker-Peasant Red Guards. It was the second time that the DPRK held a massive parade in less than two months. Unlike the July 27 military parade marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement, little military hardware was on display this time. Squads composed of scientists, athletes, medical staff, teachers and students followed the march, with flowers and banners in hand, hailing the leader's name loud to "celebrate the country's military-first guideline's victory." Delivering a speech, DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju called on all people to make contributions to building the country into an economic power and improving people's living standard. Celebrations kicked off on Sunday with a national meeting and a grand gymnastic and artistic performance. ^ top ^

Two Koreas agree to open Kaesong zone next week (SCMP)
2013-09-11
North and South Korea agreed on Wednesday to reopen their Kaesong joint industrial park next week, five months after it was shut during soaring military tensions. Following a marathon negotiation session, the two sides set a date of September 16 for restarting the shuttered complex, the South's Unification Ministry said. South Korean firms in Kaesong, which lies 10 kilometres over the border in North Korea, will be allowed to resume operations after a trial run on Monday, the ministry said. The agreement came at a second round of talks between the two Koreas in a newly created Kaesong joint committee that began on Tuesday morning and stretched through the night. Born out of the “sunshine” reconciliation policy initiated in the late 1990s by then-South Korean president Kim Dae-Jung, Kaesong was established in 2004 as a rare symbol of inter-Korean co-operation. It has provided an important hard currency source for the impoverished North through taxes, other revenues, and its cut of workers' wages. It had appeared immune to previous downward spirals in North-South relations, but finally fell victim to two months of intense military tensions that followed the North's nuclear test in February. Both sides blamed the other for its closure, with the North insisting that its hand was forced by hostile South Korean actions - in particular, a series of joint military exercises with the United States. As military tensions eased, the two Koreas agreed last month to work together to resume operations at the zone. As part of the deal, the North accepted the South's demand that Kaesong be opened to foreign investors - a move seen by Seoul as a guarantee against the North shutting the complex down again in the future. Wednesday's agreement included plans to host a road show for foreign investors at Kaesong in October. Once Kaesong is reopened, Pyongyang is likely to step up pressure on Seoul to revive another cross-border project - South Korean tours to the North's Mount Kumgang resort. The South suspended the tours - another important source of hard currency for the North - after a North Korean soldier in 2008 shot dead a female tourist from the South who strayed into a restricted zone. In response the North scrapped a deal with the resort's developer - Seoul's Hyundai Asan company - and seized its properties there. Seoul has agreed to discuss resuming the Kumgang tours but has delayed the date for talks to begin. In the meantime, Kumgang will play host at the end of this month to the first reunion in three years of family members separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. The reunion programme began in 2000 following an historic inter-Korean summit. Sporadic events since then have seen around 17,000 relatives briefly reunited. But it was suspended after the North's shelling of a South Korean border island in November 2010. Millions of Koreans were left separated by the Korean War, which sealed the peninsula's division. Most have died without having had a chance to reunite with family members last seen six decades ago. ^ top ^

DPRK probably restarts plutonium-producing reactor: U.S. institute (Xinhua)
2013-09-13
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) appeared to be restarting its 5-megawatt plutonium-producing reactor in the Yongbyon nuclear complex, which houses nuclear facilities such as centrifuges for uranium enrichment. "New commercial satellite imagery of North Korea (DPRK)'s Yongbyon nuclear facility indicates that Pyongyang is probably restarting its 5 megawatt gas-graphite plutonium production reactor," the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) said in a Sept. 11 report posted on its website "38 North." According to satellite images secured by the SAIS, white steam rose from a building near the reactor hall that was housing the gas-graphite reactor's steam turbines and electric generators. The reactor generates electricity by using the heat from nuclear reaction in the core to create steam that spins the turbines, so the white steam being vented indicates that the reactor is in or nearing operation, according to the report. The report said the DPRK seemed not to use the cooling tower like in the past, noting that Pyongyang could instead connect the reactor to a newly built pump-house near the experimental light- water reactor at the site. A copy of the Yongbyon reactor in Syria constructed by the DPRK used a pump-house instead of a cooling tower. The DPRK agreed in 1994 with the United States to shut down the reactor under the Geneva Agreed Framework, but it was restarted in 2002 when the agreement collapsed. The reactor had been disabled since October 2007 under an agreement at the six-party talks, leading to the televised demolition of the cooling tower in June 2008. Amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula following the DPRK's third nuclear test in February, Pyongyang announced its intention in early April to restart the reactor. "Work has progressed rapidly over the spring and summer to bring the facility back into operation," the institute said, estimating that the five-megawatt reactor can produce six kilograms of plutonium a year. Regarding the report, Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young declined to confirm it, but Cho said that Seoul was closely monitoring and tracing information related to the DPRK. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Oyu Tolgoi LLC appoints Craig Kinnell its President and CEO (Montsame)
2013-09-11
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The Oyu Tolgoi Board of Directors Wednesday approved an appointment of Craig Kinnell as its new Oyu Tolgoi president and chief executive officer. Mr Kinnell, currently the Chief Marketing Officer for Rio Tinto Copper, will commence his new position on 1 October 2013. Over the past three years, Mr Kinnell has been instrumental in developing Rio Tinto's strategy for increasing revenue from the Copper business, including international market price as part of OT's long-term sales contracts. "I am delighted that Craig Kinnell will be taking up this position. He has a proven history as a dynamic and very capable leader. OT has moved from being a huge construction undertaking to a steady and stable day-to-day business. Craig's years of experience running mines and selling minerals at international market prices make him the perfect choice to successfully lead the project in the coming years,” Chairman of the OT Board of Directors Mr Batsukh Galsan said. As President and CEO, Mr Kinnell will oversee all aspects of OT's operations, including safety, strategy, social license to operate and growth initiatives. He will also lead OT's Executive Committee. Mr Kinnell has a long history in the international mining industry. Born in St Andrews, Scotland, he joined Rio Tinto in 1985 as a graduate trainee, after successfully completing a Bachelor degree in Marketing and Economics from Paisley College. In 1992, he gained a MBA from Cranfield University School of Management in Bedford, England. He has since gone on to hold a number of senior management positions including Managing Director, Rio Tinto Uranium and Senior Vice President, Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium. Mr Kinnell succeeds Cameron McRae, who will be leaving Rio Tinto at the end of his three-year contract at OT in October and 27 years of service with the Rio Tinto Group. ^ top ^

The XV Session of Mongolia-EU Committee was held in Ulaanbaatar (Infomongolia)
2013-09-11
The XV Session of Mongolia-EU Committee meeting was held at the Government House on September 10, 2013. The meeting was headed by Minister of the Cabinet Office of the Government of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg, head of the Mongolian side, and Managing Director of the Asia and Pacific Department of the European External Action Service Viorel Isticioaia Budura, head of the EU side. During this year's meeting, the sides exchanged information about the current political and socio-economic situations of Mongolia and the European Union and assessed the implementation of cooperation agreements. At the end of the meeting, parties have signed a joint statement to enhance the current levels of bilateral trade and investments, projects and programs being implemented by the EU and develop the 2014-2020 program plan of development cooperation to implement, and activate the partnership in agriculture, relationship between the citizens, research and innovation cooperation as well. Evaluating the meeting, head of the Mongolian side Ch.Saikhanbileg stated, “The European Union considers itself as the third neighbor in Mongolia's foreign policy and in the frames of the preferential trade agreement provided by the EU, we are exporting over 7,000 types of products without taxes in the markets of this region. At this meeting we have agreed about continuing these favorable conditions until the end of 2015 and possibilities of reaching sufficient levels with the results. We also introduced the open policy dedicated to the investors and discussed on exporting milk and dairy products on such a large market”. ^ top ^

New draft law on foreign investment submitted to Parliament (news.mn)
2013-09-11
Several draft laws that are designed to attract foreign direct investment were submitted to Speaker Z.Enkhbold by the Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar on Tuesday September 10th. If these draft laws are passed by Parliament, the previous laws on the regulation of foreign Investment of business entities operating in sectors of strategic importance (Strategic Investment Law) might be over-turned. The reasons behind the drafting of a new strategic investment law are multiple. The latest statistics report says that Mongolia, where 12 thousand entities from 112 countries were registered, has benefited by over 14 billion US dollars of foreign investment. Almost 80 percent of the foreign investment was done between 2008 and 2012. The statistics report also indicates that a large amount or 74 percent of the foreign investment was directed to the geology and mining sectors in Mongolia. But the foreign investment flow in Mongolia declined in March 2012. Around 42 percent of investment in the Mongolian economy that was made by foreign countries and international organizations dropped compared to the same period last year. This happened at the same time as the first phase of the massive Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia. The content of the new draft law: Firstly foreign and national investors must benefit fairly according to the regulations. Foreign investors complained that “Mongolian lawmakers frequently “fix” the foreign investment law and the legal environment is temperamental”. The new draft law will regulate that “any amendments into the law will be passed with notification not less than three MPs.” The current foreign investment law refers to investment of “strategic importance” meaning the sectors of minerals, banking, financing, media and telecommunications. The new draft law will not classify sectors as having “strategic importance”. ^ top ^

 

Théodore Sarasin
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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