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
  16-20.9.13, No. 493  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Bilateral Issues

China, Switzerland eye deepened economic cooperation (Xinhua)
2013-09-16
Beijing and Geneva have been developing economic cooperation that has resulted in a boost in trade volume, a Beijing government official said on Monday. At the Geneva-Beijing Economic Forum, Cheng Hong, deputy mayor of Beijing, said around 220 Swiss enterprises have invested in Beijing, and the total trade volume from January to June between Beijing and Switzerland has surpassed 16.3 billion U.S. dollars. Swiss Ambassador to China Jacques de Watteville said that the two countries have developed cooperative relationships in fields such as education, medical care and luxury industries. In May, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Switzerland for furthering bilateral trade. The two nations inked a free trade pact in July, the first such agreement signed between China and a country in continental Europe. More than 40 Swiss enterprises took part in the forum and a Geneva-Beijing cooperative agreement was signed between the two governments before the event. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China's top political advisor meets King of Bahrain (Xinhua)
2013.09.15
China's top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng met on Sunday with King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-khalifa, on the sidelines of a China-Arab States Expo held in Yinchuan in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said China and Bahrain witnessed friendly relations between their peoples and steadily growing cooperation in all areas. The two countries should further consolidate their political mutual trust, promote pragmatic cooperation and push forward the bilateral ties to a new high, he said. He also welcomed the king's attendance to the expo, saying he hoped the expo could become an effective platform to enhance the mutual understanding, trade and economic cooperation, and common development of China and Arab states,through active participation and support from both sides. The first China-Arab State Expo opened on Sunday morning in Yinchuan, capital city of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, which is home to more than 10 percent of China's 20 million Muslims. Yu attended the opening ceremony and delivered a speech. The King said the two countries' cooperation is facing good opportunities for further development. His state visit to China aims to expand reciprocal cooperation with China and promote the Bahrain-China relations. The king is paying his state visit to China from Sept. 14 to 16, at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The chairman also vowed to enhance the friendly communication between the CPPCC, China's top political advisory body, with relevant departments of Arab states, and exchange with them experience on national governance and development, so as to make bigger contribution for the development of China-Arab relations. The China-Arab States Expo originated from the China (Ningxia) International Investment and Trade Fair and the China-Arab States Economic and Trade Forum, which has been held annually since 2010. ^ top ^

Around 1,100 stranded Chinese passengers leave Jeju Island (Xinhua)
2013-09-15
After the fifth chartered plane departed from the airport of Jeju Island with 250 passengers at 10: 43 p.m. local time, around 1,100 passengers stranded in the cruise liner Henna have left Jeju Island to Beijing, according to the Chinese Consulate General in Jeju Island. The HNA Tourism, the Beijing-based operator of the Henna, has so far sent five chartered planes to South Korea to bring back passengers of the detained cruise liner, said Sun Limin, an official of the Chinese Consulate General in Jeju Island. Each passenger taking the chartered plane has signed an agreement with the HNA to accept a compensation of around 2,000 RMB (327 U.S. Dollars) or a free ticket of Henna within one year, Sun said. A total of 550 passengers are still staying on board. Some 55 of them demanded higher compensations and reject to take the chartered plane, while others, who are mostly the elders, preferred to return to China on cruise Henna, according to the Consulate. "We can hardly deal with all the disputes and satisfy all the passengers in Jeju, so we will try our best to bring all 550 passengers home with the cruise liner Henna tomorrow," Sun said, adding that the detained ship is expected to leave as early as Monday after finishing all the departure procedures. The cruise Henna, with 1,659 passengers and a crew of 650 on board, was scheduled to sail at 4:00 p.m. local time Friday from Jeju to Incheon. It was detained before departure by a Jeju court, which received a seizure application on claims of legal disputes from a subsidiary company of Jiangsu Shagang Group Co., Ltd., the cruise operator said on Saturday. ^ top ^

China welcomes Russia-U.S. deal on Syria, says foreign minister (Xinhua)
2013.09.15
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday said China welcomes a recent agreement between Russia and the United States over the issue of Syrian chemical weapons, according to a Foreign Ministry press release. Wang told visiting French counterpart Laurent Fabius that China also welcomes the Syrian government's decision to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention. The explosive situation in Syria is easing and the prospect of settlement of the Syria's chemical weapons issue through peaceful methods is opening up, according to Wang. China hopes the settlement process of the Syria issue will be brought into the United Nations framework as soon as possible, the minister said, adding that the UN Security Council should play an important role. China also expects the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will conduct work with an attitude of neutrality, objectivity, impartiality and professionalism with the international support, Wang said. A political resolution is the only realistic way to solve the Syria issue, he stressed, adding that the political resolution process should be pushed forward together with the destruction of the chemical weapons. Military means cannot solve the issue, said the minister. Wang urged an immediate cease-fire to create conditions for destruction of the chemical weapons and an early convening of the second international conference on Syria in Geneva. Fabius said the Russia-U.S. deal is a significant progress and called on all sides to accelerate the settlement process, according to the press release. The UN Security Council should play a greater role, he said. The minister said that France is ready to strengthen communication and coordination with China. After three days of intense negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov reached agreement Saturday on a framework to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons by mid-2014 and impose UN penalties if the Bashar al-Assad government fails to comply. According to the framework, Syria must submit a "comprehensive listing" of its chemical weapons stockpiles within one week, and weapons inspectors must be on the ground in Syria by November. ^ top ^

China urges Syrian resolution within UN framework (Global times)
2013.09.16
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Monday called for early and proper resolution of the Syrian issue within the framework of the United Nations. Hong made the comment in response to a framework agreement on resolving the issue of Syrian chemical weapons reached by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Saturday. The agreement is to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons by mid-2014 and impose UN penalties if the Bashar al-Assad government fails to comply. Under the agreement, Syria must submit a "comprehensive listing" of its chemical weapons stockpiles within one week, and weapons inspectors must be on the ground in Syria by November. Hong said China welcomes the signing of the framework agreement and hopes that the agreement will be implemented. A political resolution is the only realistic way to solve the issues in Syria, he said, adding that this political process should be pushed forward together with the destruction of the chemical weapons. China calls for an immediate ceasefire in Syria to create conditions for destruction of the chemical weapons and an early convening of the second international conference on Syria in Geneva, according to the spokesman. ^ top ^

China-Arab States Expo opens in northwest China (People's Daily)
2013-09-16
The first China-Arab States Expo, a key platform to promote the relationship between China and the Arab states, kicked off on Sunday in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. President Xi Jinping sent a letter of congratulations to the event, in which he said the expo is of great significance in promoting an all-round cooperation between China and the Arab states. China is willing to carry out cooperation with Arab states to benefit the people of both sides and contribute to the prosperity of the world, Xi said. Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, delivered a speech at the opening of the exposition, which runs until Sept. 19 in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia. Yu called for further expansion of cooperation with Arab countries in energy resources and trade. He said China and the Arab nations should further consolidate mutual political trust and deepen economic and trade cooperation. He also called for more active mutual exchanges in culture and human resources. King Abdullah II Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-khalifa of Bahrain, Vanuatu's Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil and some other foreign leaders attended the opening ceremony. Kuwait has been invited as the guest country of honor. Anas AL-Saleh, Minister of Commerce and Industry of Kuwait, said at the opening ceremony that Kuwait has always kept a close relationship with China, and the bilateral ties between both sides have developed in the past 40 years. China has become an important trading partner of Kuwait, and the two sides have seen rapid increase in trade. Trade value between China and Kuwait totaled 12.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2012. According to the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Kuwait has invested 887 million U.S. dollars in 35 projects in China during the past 30 years, which included road, airport, port and railway construction, and covered fields of environment, education and hospitals. "Kuwait is willing to participate in trade activities like the exposition to develop relationships with each country," he said. More than 7,300 domestic and overseas officials, exhibitors, purchasers and investors from nearly 70 countries including Bahrain, Jordan, Oman and Kuwait participate the fair. The event will feature trade fairs and seminars on agriculture, energy, finance, culture, education and tourism. The Expo is jointly sponsored by China's Ministry of Commerce, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, and the government of Ningxia. Its predecessor, known as China (Ningxia) International Investment and Trade Fair and the China-Arab States Economic and Trade Forum, was held annually from 2010 to 2012. Ningxia is home to more than 10 percent of China's 20 million Muslims. ^ top ^

Chinese premier meets World Bank Group president (Xinhua)
2013-09-17
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim here on Monday and pledged to deepen cooperation with the Washington-based agency, according to a press release issued by the Chinese government on Tuesday. During the meeting, Li praised the cooperation between the World Bank and China, saying the key to advancing the recovery of the world economy was to address the issue of development. China is happy to see the World Bank play a bigger role in helping developing countries and reducing poverty, and is ready to work together with the agency to resolve problems regarding global development and to instil sustainable driving forces into the world economy. Li also briefed Kim on China's reforms and development, stressing the significance of innovation, not only in technology, but also in ideas, systems and mechanisms, said the release. For his part, Kim said the World Bank admires Chinese government's resolve in pushing reform and appreciates the government's measures taken in this regard. The World Bank is willing to cooperate with China more closely to endorse the country's economic upgrade, Kim was quoted as saying. Kim is visiting China from Sunday to Wednesday to discuss expanding collaboration on climate change, one of the most important challenges facing China and the world currently. It is Kim's second visit to China since taking the helm of the World Bank in July last year, according to the China National Tourism Administration. ^ top ^

Chinese premier meets Jordanian king (Xinhua)
2013.09.18
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with Jordanian King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein here on Wednesday afternoon and called for closer win-win cooperation between the two countries. Li said China regards Jordan as an important partner in the Middle East and stands ready to deepen mutual trust, strengthen strategic coordination and cement people-to-people friendship with the kingdom. Li said the two sides should further tap the potential for cooperation in transportation, energy, telecommunications, infrastructure and other sectors to enrich the bilateral relationship and achieve win-win results. Briefing the Jordanian king on China's push for economic transformation and upgrade, the premier said the Chinese side is willing to share the opportunities for development with all other countries and make joint efforts with them to create a peaceful and cooperative environment for development. During the meeting, King Abdullah II thanked the Chinese side for their support and assistance, saying Jordan welcomes investment from China. The Jordanian side will step up strategic dialogue and boost friendly and long-lasting cooperation with China to elevate the bilateral relationship, and play an active role in promoting ties between China and Arab nations, said the king. ^ top ^

China asked to help end Syrian conflict (China Daily)
2013.09.19
Jordan's King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein on Wednesday called on China to exert its influence to help resolve the conflict in Syria. The king's comments came as world powers kicked off negotiations on a draft resolution on Syria's chemical weapons.(...) It is in that spirit that I am here today to discuss with you, as a key member of the United Nations Security Council and a friend of Jordan and the Middle East, ways and means of achieving peace, stability, civility and prosperity in our region through an active role in the (Israel-Palestine) peace process as well as that of the Syrian conflict," Abdullah told President Xi Jinping on Wednesday. Abdullah made the appeal at the start of a meeting between the two leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The king ended his four-day state visit to China later on Wednesday, after a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang. Premier Li said China is willing to consolidate political mutual trust, strengthen strategic communication and collaboration with Jordan. In talks with Xi, Abdullah said Jordan appreciates China's role in promoting the Middle East Peace Process and in searching for a political settlement for the Syrian issue.Calling Jordan "a good friend and partner" of China, Xi called on the two countries to maintain communications on major international and regional affairs. Jordan has been trying hard to avoid friction with Syria, its larger neighbor. A Jordanian government spokesman said in late August that the pro-US kingdom will not be a launch pad for attacks on Syria. US troops are stationed in Jordan. The spokesman said Jordan would prefer a "diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis". Beijing and Moscow have both called for a negotiated political settlement to the conflict, which has been ongoing for more than two years. Abdullah's request came as negotiations among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council began in New York on Tuesday, focusing on a draft resolution on Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons. The meeting with Xi came a day after UN investigators confirmed the use of sarin nerve gas in an attack on Aug 21. US President Barack Obama has said it is "inconceivable" that anyone other than the Syrian government could have carried out the attack. But on Wednesday, Russia said the Syrian government had handed over new evidence that implicated rebel forces in the chemical attack.Hua Liming, former Chinese ambassador to Iran and the United Arab Emirates, said Jordan is deeply concerned about a possible military conflict which could see "Syrian refugees pour into Jordan". On Monday, Jordanian officials said the number of Syrian refugees crossing into the country rose nearly tenfold last week, to an average 900 people per day, the highest level for months. Jordan is the second-largest host of Syrian refugees after Turkey. There are more than 560,000 refugees in Jordan. Abdullah is the latest in a string of Middle Eastern leaders to visit Beijing, and China has frequently dispatched diplomats to the region. Wu Sike, China's special envoy to the Middle East, visited Jordan in May. Li Guofu, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said that, in addition to the challenges posed by the refugees, Jordan is also troubled by other problems brought about by the Syrian crisis, such as the impact on trade and possible Syrian retaliation if Jordan is used by the US as a base for attacks. "In the broad position, Jordan's position is similar to that of Russia and China. However, Jordan is an ally of the US and has relatively good relations with Gulf countries, so naturally there are also differences in their stances," Li said. He said that despite the Syrian issue, the main focus of King Abdullah's visit was to establish ties with new Chinese leaders. "By attending the China-Arab States Expo, the king has shown the importance he attaches to the ties," Li said, adding that bilateral trade is growing quickly, although the volume is not yet large. Earlier in his visit, the king attended an expo that included China and Arab states in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, home to more than 10 percent of China's 20 million Muslims. ^ top ^

Indonesian president, Chinese state councilor meet on ties (Xinhua)
2013.09.19
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met here Thursday with visiting Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on bilateral ties. Lauding the healthy development of bilateral relations, Yudhoyono stressed the need to advance cooperation in an all-round way. The Indonesian people warmly welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming state visit to Indonesia and attendance of the 21st informal economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Cooperation (APEC) forum to be held in Bali Island of Indonesia, said Yudhoyono. The Indonesian president said he is looking forward to conducting in-depth exchanges of views with Xi on bilateral ties and key international and regional issues to cement friendship, promote cooperation and advance the Indonesia-China strategic partnership. Yang, for his part, said that China and Indonesia are both major countries and emerging markets in Asia. It is a common aspiration of both governments and peoples to strengthen their strategic partnership, which will play an important role in safeguarding regional peace, stability and development, and in promoting unity among developing countries, he said. As a key event in bilateral relations, Xi's upcoming state visit to Indonesia is of profound significance, said Yang, who voiced confidence that with concerted efforts, the visit will reap a bumper harvest and elevate the bilateral ties to a higher level. Yudhoyono and Yang also exchanged views on the Syria issue and agreed to seek a political solution to the problem. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Charles Xue Biqun admits Weibo fuelled ego, state media reports (SCMP)
2013-09-16
Chinese-American investor Charles Xue Biqun, a popular weibo commentator who was detained last month on suspicion of soliciting prostitutes, has offered to work with authorities in their internet crackdown to help secure his release, state media reported. Xue's pledge was carried across state media yesterday in what appeared to be the latest attempt by Beijing to justify its campaign against internet rumours and "Big V" - or "verified" - online celebrities who can command millions of followers. Xue - known as Xue Manzi to his 12 million followers on Sina Weibo - told Beijing police that he had made mistakes with his online postings, and held himself out as an example of the need to regulate the internet, according to a Xinhua report. The report featured prominently on major news portals on the mainland yesterday. Xue told police in a Beijing detention centre that online influence had fuelled his ego, adding that he had misled internet users on various incidents. "I once felt like an emperor reviewing the documents when replying or forwarding online posts. I got so carried away that my vanity ballooned," the article quoted Xue as saying. "I overlooked the social responsibility of being a Big V, and brought about an undesirable outcome [for society]," Xue said, referring to his "irresponsible" republishing of unsubstantiated weibo posts. "The internet is a virtual reality, but it needs order; a mature cyberspace needs law to keep it in check," Xue said. Xinhua also said Xue "began to get noticeably nervous" after authorities issued a judicial interpretation under which web users can be charged for spreading false information online. "I can co-operate and we could work together [on this] - how about a handcuff-wearing Xue Manzi talking about the internet?" he said. He hoped to "get out sooner" if he "facilitated the propaganda work". Police said they had received more reports from internet users about Xue's alleged criminal behaviour and his case was still under investigation. The report drew a strong reaction among bloggers, with many focusing on the fact Xue was still in detention. Some bloggers said the tactic appeared like something out of the Mao Zedong era. "The article makes me feel like I'm living in the time of the Cultural Revolution when people had to make constant apologies to win leniency from the authorities, who have unchecked power to smear their challengers," read one post on Sina Weibo. On Friday, Wang Gongquan, another Big V and civil society advocate, was detained for "assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place". President Xi Jinping has said the Communist Party should wage a propaganda war to win over public opinion and "seize the ground of new media". ^ top ^

Six Chinese officials stand trial for torture in landmark case (SCMP)
2013-09-17
Six Communist Party officials will stand trial in China on Tuesday on charges of torturing a man to death during an internal investigation in a case that has exposed the secret workings of the party's judicial system. Yu Qiyi, 42, a chief engineer for a state-owned investment firm in the eastern city of Wenzhou, drowned in April after being dunked repeatedly in a bucket of ice-cold water, state media said last week. His case sheds light on the detention of party officials under a system lawyers say is rife with abuse. The officials - five from the party's corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and a local prosecutor, were indicted on charges of intentional infliction of harm leading to death for the alleged abuse of Yu. They face the death penalty. Yu had spent 38 days under “shuanggui”, a form of extra-legal detention imposed on party officials being investigated for disciplinary violations. “I believe that these egregious cases in which officials who have been under 'shuanggui' have died rarely enter the judicial process,” said Pu Zhiqiang, a lawyer representing Yu's family. Reuters was not immediately able to locate lawyers for the six accused. Neither the government nor the party has publicly given an account of what happened. The story has received limited coverage in state-run media. It is not precisely clear why Yu was being investigated, according to his family's lawyers. Si Weijiang, a second lawyer for the family, said it was possibly because of improprieties related to a land deal. Ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai was subject to “shuanggui” for 17 months before facing trial last month on charges of corruption and abuse of power. During his trial, Bo recanted an earlier confession to party investigators saying it was made under psychological pressure. A verdict is expected in the coming weeks. “We think this (Yu's case) is a real tool to measure whether China wants to become a country ruled by law,” said Si. “That is: 'Should shuanggui be included in the legal system?'” Investigators put Yu's head in a bucket of ice-cold water and held it down repeatedly, eventually causing his death, according to Si. Yu was also beaten and his body scarred by what appeared to be cigarette butt marks. Yu's death comes as China wages war on corruption. President Xi Jinping has pledged to go after “tigers” and “flies” in the battle against graft, referring to both political heavyweights and low-ranked officials. Pu said Yu, who was made to strip naked before interrogators dunked his head, struggled and shouted during the questioning session, citing the indictment. Photographs of Yu taken by family members after his death showed an emaciated man who was “black and blue”, Pu said. Si said it was likely the hearing would be closed to the public, saying authorities had worked to keep information about the trial under wraps such as preventing lawyers from photocopying evidence and restricting the number of lawyers the family could hire. The question of who authorised the harsh treatment of Yu remains largely unanswered, Pu said, adding the six officials were carrying out orders from the disciplinary commission. “Who approved the use of such torture? The bucket and the ice cold water were already prepared in that place in advance,” Pu said. “These people have not been investigated yet.” Most Chinese criminal trials are over within days, often after just a single day. The country's courts rarely acquit defendants in criminal cases. Yu's ex-wife, Wu Qian, said she was not confident justice would be done. “We've noticed a certain degree of interference in the legal process already in preparing for this case,” she told Reuters, without elaborating. ^ top ^

China's cabinet removes Jiang Jiemin from post (Xinhua)
2013-09-17
The State Council, China's Cabinet, announced on Tuesday the removal of Jiang Jiemin from his post as head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC). In a statement, the State Council also announced a number of appointments and removals of government officials. Li Baodong was appointed vice foreign minister, while Ma Zhaoxu and Le Yucheng will no longer hold assistant foreign minister posts. Wang Wenbin was appointed SASAC deputy director, replacing Shao Ning; Shi Yaobin was appointed vice minister of finance, replacing Li Yong; Chen Shixin was appointed World Bank executive director for China, replacing Yang Shaolin. Ning Jizhe was appointed the head of the Research Office of the State Council; Wang Shouwen, Wang Bingnan and Zhang Xiangchen were appointed assistant commerce ministers; Fu Zhenghua, incumbent head of Beijing's Public Security Bureau, was appointed vice minister of public security. ^ top ^

Verdict in Bo Xilai case expected within days but an appeal is likely (SCMP)
2013-09-18
The Jinan court hearing the case of disgraced Politburo member Bo Xilai is expected to hand down its verdict this weekend, a source with direct knowledge of the case said. The source, who declined to be named, said it was unlikely that the verdict would bring an end to China's most sensational scandal in decades, as Bo would probably lodge an appeal. Bo, 64, is charged with bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. He rejected the accusations and struck a defiant, almost accusatory, stance throughout his five-day trial at Jinan's Intermediate People's Court, in Shandong province, which ended on August 26. The source said the verdict would probably be delivered on Sunday - the mainland begins three days of holiday for the Mid-Autumn Festival tomorrow. Prosecutors linked Bo to almost 27 million yuan (HK$34 million) in bribes and embezzlement. He faces a minimum of 10 years in jail or even the death penalty. The prosecution pressed for a severe punishment, citing Bo's lack of remorse. "The defendant's crimes are extremely serious," the prosecutors said during the trial. "It must be dealt with severely according to the law." But two sources with close ties to family associates of Bo and his wife, Gu Kailai, said he would likely receive a lenient sentence. They both said Bo would be jailed for less than 15 years. Bo, party chief in Chongqing until his fall, is the highest-ranking official prosecuted since former Beijing party boss Chen Xitong in 1998 and Shanghai party chief Chen Liangyu in 2008, who were jailed for 16 and 18 years respectively. Chen Xitong's appeal was rejected by the supreme court. During the trial, Bo said he was flawed, but suggested Gu and his former police chief Wang Lijun, who both testified against him, had an "extremely special relationship". "Ninety-nine per cent of the facts the prosecutor just stated have nothing to do with me or my case," Bo said during the trial. ^ top ^

Dongguan police officers detained for spreading online rumours, report says (SCMP)
2013.09.19
Two leading Dongguan police officers are being investigated for organising an online smear campaign against their former boss which accused him of raping a woman colleague, a Guangdong newspaper has reported. The detentions come after the nation's top court warned that anyone spreading libellous information on the internet could be jailed. Wei Xiangmin, chief of the Nancheng police branch in Dongguan, and his deputy Kong Yihong are being investigated for severely violating party discipline, according to the official website of the Dongguan disciplinary committee. There were no further details about the inquiry, but a report by the Southern Metropolis Daily yesterday cited a top Dongguan police officer as saying the two were under scrutiny for online rumours. According to the report, Wei and Kong paid hundreds of thousands of yuan to professional strategists from Shenzhen to post frequent messages attacking a Nancheng district leader who previously headed the Nancheng police branch. The Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate, the country's top prosecution body, jointly issued a document last week stating that anyone who posted libellous messages online that were forwarded more than 500 times or viewed more than 5,000 times could be jailed for up to three years. The Communist Party is aggressively trying to rein in the internet following President Xi Jinping's call to "seize the ground of new media". According to the report, Wei was made Nancheng police chief in 2009, with responsibility for public security and management of migrant workers. The branch was named as one of the top 10 police offices in Dongguan last year, and Kong has a reputation as an outstanding criminal investigator. It was reported the smear campaign began at the end of last year and ran to this June, with postings on all major microblogging platforms and online forums. The poster claimed to be a woman police officer who was raped repeatedly by the former chief of Nancheng police. The poster also claimed the individual directed his subordinates to buy paintings, embezzle money allocated for housing compensation, and illegal obtain land and run internet cafes. The postings were combined with graphics, attracting over a million followers on Sina microblogs. Dozens of mainland media have reported the allegation. ^ top ^

An eclipse of the mooncake (China Daily)
2013.09.19
Sales of traditional palm-size pastries eaten during Mid-Autumn Festival feel the pitch of campaign to curb extravagance launched by nation's leader, reports Xu Junqian in Shanghai. [...] Corporations give mooncakes — or vouchers for them — to business partners and government officials, subordinates to bosses and parents to their children's teachers to cultivate guanxi, or relations, whose importance might be illustrated by the Western saying: It's not what you know, but who you know that matters. But the situation has changed radically this year, and the once-popular mooncakes have become almost taboo — following Moutai (Chinese liquor) and luxury banquets — widely shunned even weeks before Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Sept 19 this year. Two events led to the change. First, President Xi Jinping implemented "eight rules" at the end of last year to fight corruption and reduce extravagance. Then, in late August, the disciplinary authority of the Communist Party of China issued a notice banning the use of government money to buy mooncakes as gifts during Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day Holiday, from Oct 1 to 7. The disciplinary watchdog repeated the message in early September, instructing officials nationwide to avoid any lavish banquets and gifts, including mooncakes, paid for with public funds during the upcoming holiday. In a back alley in Shanghai near the headquarters of Xinghualou, the traditional bakery chain, mooncake voucher scalpers have gathered for years to "do business" as the festival approached. But the atmosphere is grim this year. "It's unprecedented," a full-time scalper who gave only his surname, Shi, said recently. Shi complained he hadn't "recycled a single mooncake voucher over the past weekend", while in previous years, the 40-something Shanghai native would collect scores of vouchers in a single weekday morning. "The main problem is that nobody is coming to sell their vouchers because nobody is allowed to give them as gifts," he said. Shi said this is "my most important season" and the amount of business he lost was incalculable. According to the Shanghai Confectionary Industry Association, at least 40 percent of mooncakes sold every year were group-purchased by companies and institutions as gifts for their "clients on the special occasion". How much of that 40 percent will vanish this year is not yet known, but the association said mooncake sales in Shanghai were down at least 20 percent this year in five-star hotels, restaurants and bakeries. "It's just a few weeks before the festival. Usually this is the peak sales time," said Feng Fusheng, deputy secretary-general of the association. "If there's no peak now, it's not going to happen at all, because mooncakes are a seasonal thing." Nationwide, mooncake sales have also declined by 20 percent compared with last year, the China Association of Bakery and Confectionery Industry said. It estimated that 280,000 metric tons of mooncakes were produced this year, and sales revenue is likely to exceed 16 billion yuan ($2.6 billion). ^ top ^

China issues alert for super typhoon Usagi (Xinhua)
2013.09.19
An alert was issued on Thursday for this year's 19th typhoon Usagi, which was upgraded to a super typhoon at 5 p.m., according to China's meteorological authority. At 7 p.m. Beijing time, the National Meteorological Center (NMC) issued a yellow alert for the typhoon, the third highest on the country's four-tier weather warning system -- with red being the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue. The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) also initiated an I-class emergency response for the typhoon on Thursday, the highest level of the nation's maritime disaster response system. Usagi may become one of the strongest typhoons to hit China's southeastern coast this year, according to the administration. It predicted that Usagi will hit a coastal region between the north of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and southeastern Fujian Province in the evening of Sept. 22. The NMC said the center of Usagi was at about 850 km southeast of Taiwan at 5 p.m. and was moving northwestward at a speed of around 15 km per hour with strengthening force. Affected by the super typhoon, strong wind will sweep waters in the east and north of Taiwan, the sea near China's Diaoyu Islands, the south of East China Sea and the northeast of South China sea, the center said. The SOA and the NMC have urged related government organs to take precautions against the typhoon. ^ top ^

5.1-magnitude earthquake hits northwest China (Xinhua)
2013.09.20
An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale jolted the junction area of northwest China's Gansu and Qinghai Provinces on Friday morning. No casualties have been reported so far, according to local authorities. A 5.1-magnitude earthquake hit a region between Sunan county, Gansu Province, and Menyuan county, Qinghai Province, at 5:37 a.m., the China Earthquake Networks Center said. The epicenter, with a depth of seven km, was determined to be at 37.7 degrees north latitude and 101.5 degrees east longitude, the center said. The quake was felt strongly in the county seat of Menyuan, said Feng Xiuying, vice director of publicity department of the Menyuan County. Initial investigation showed no houses have been toppled in the county seat. People have rushed to a square to take refuge. As the temperature is low, some people took their cars as temporary shelters to keep warm, Feng said. The quake was also felt in the city of Xining, capital of Qinghai Province, which is about 150 km away from Menyuan county. No casualties have been reported in the neighboring Gansu Province, said the emergency office of the province. The quake lasted for a dozen seconds and was felt slightly in Sunan county when most local residents were asleep. The county has launched an emergency plan and sent quake-relief teams to the affected areas. Further verification of the impact of the quake is under way. ^ top ^

16-year-old Weibo user detained in Gansu under new online rumour rule (SCMP)
2013.09.20
A teenager in Gansu province has been detained under new rules aimed at clamping down on social media. The case is the first reported by the mainland media since a controversial judicial interpretation was issued last week that allowed the jailing of anyone who posts defamatory messages online which are reposted at least 500 times. The Zhangjiachuan county government in southeastern Gansu province yesterday announced one person had been detained under the new rule. The suspect's identity was not disclosed but the Beijing Times yesterday quoted a man as saying police took away his 16-year-old son on Tuesday on charges of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles". The report only identified him by his surname Yang. According to the county government's statement, the case centred on the police's handling of the death of a local karaoke bar manager, whose body was found lying on a road on Thursday morning last week. Public security officials conducted an autopsy and said he had died from head injuries after jumping from a building. Yang heard a different account of the circumstances of the death from the man's family, the Times reported. In an online posting, he said the manager had been beaten up after a quarrel, and accused the police of failing to properly investigate the incident. The karaoke bar's legal representative was Su Jian, he wrote, the same person who served as the deputy head of a local court. The Times said Yang was mistaken and the representative was the wife of a local police officer. There was no deputy court head by the name of Su Jian, it said. In addition to Yang, another person had received administrative detention and five others were fined for spreading similar rumours, the government said. On September 9, the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate issued a document stating a libellous online post that is forwarded more than 500 times or viewed more than 5,000 times could land its author in jail for up to three years. It also warned that prosecutors could use the judicial interpretation to pursue "serious cases" in which online posts led to mass protests, ethnic or religious clashes, damage to the nation's image or harm to China on the global stage. Pu Zhiqiang, a leading human rights lawyer, said Yang's detention, if confirmed, was the first known law enforcement action under the new rule. "It indicates that sometimes a local government is very eager to implement a new policy of the central government," Pu said. The county government statement hailed the social media crackdown as a concrete step towards "purifying the cyberspace community". Beijing-based lawyer Mo Shaoping said local authorities could use the judicial interpretation to stop people from expressing views that did not align with authorities'. "This will have a negative impact on the freedom of expression," Mo said. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing court hears airport blast case (Global Times)
2013-09-17
A Beijing court on Tuesday began hearing the case of a man charged with causing a blast in the Beijing Capital International Airport in July. The court hearing began at 9 a.m. at the Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court, where the suspect, Ji Zhongxing, appeared on a stretcher. Ji, a wheelchair-bound man from east China's Shandong Province, set off a homemade explosive device outside the airport's Terminal 3 arrivals exit on July 20, severely injuring himself. A police officer at the scene suffered minor injuries in the explosion. The Beijing Chaoyang District People's Procuratorate filed charges against Ji of causing an explosion on August 29.According to the country's criminal law, anyone who causes an explosion or uses other means to endanger public security without causing serious consequences shall be sentenced to a fixed-term imprisonment of no less than three years but no more than ten years. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong fightback urged as new zones blunt edge (SCMP)
2013-09-16
Beijing's experiment with freer transfer of the yuan in Shanghai and Qianhai could spell the end of Hong Kong's pre-eminent role as China's international financial centre, analysts warn. The only way to stave off the challenge from Shanghai, some suggest, is for Hong Kong to team up with Qianhai. Senior central government officials will be in Shanghai on September 27 for the launch of its free-trade zone, designed to be at the vanguard of the mainland's drive for wider convertibility of the yuan and freer, market-oriented interest rates. In June last year, Beijing also earmarked Qianhai, in western Shenzhen, as a testing ground for freer transfer of the yuan. It is offering tax and other incentives to attract Hong Kong and international firms and talent. Hong Kong Institute of Directors chairman Kelvin Wong said Hong Kong would face pressure from both Qianhai and Shanghai. "If Beijing grants a lot of special incentives for international firms to go and set up in Qianhai or Shanghai, some companies may consider they would be better off to invest in the two cities to enjoy the incentives," he said. Wong said that when international investors had more choice of cities in which to invest, they would inevitably reduce their investment in Hong Kong. "It is not just the international investors but Hong Kong businessmen may also go north to invest in these special economic zones to capture the growing opportunities," he said. "This will be a double blow if Hong Kong receives less international investment inflow while more local entrepreneurs leave the city to invest in Qianhai or Shanghai." Hong Kong has enjoyed a competitive advantage thus far due to the mainland's restrictions on the flow of yuan in and out of the country, with many international firms choosing to base themselves in Hong Kong, where such restrictions do not exist, and international investors opting to invest in mainland companies through the Hong Kong market's H shares. But Wong said the new challenges meant Hong Kong needed to come up with a survival strategy, or it would lose out. [...] Gregg Li Ka-lok, vice-chairman of the Business and Professionals Federation, said Hong Kong had to prepare itself for competition from special economic zones on the mainland. "It is true that there will be competitive pressures from special economic zones such as Qianhai," he said. "However, Hong Kong will still have a role to play and will not be replaced by Qianhai any time soon." Li said that even if Beijing allowed companies based in Qianhai to sell their financial products across the country, the firms involved would still worry about whether they could take the money out of the market easily. Even though freer capital transfer was being promised, there might still be some controls, in marked contrast to Hong Kong, where fund houses, insurers and brokers could transfer money in and out whenever they wanted. In addition, Li said, the mainland had many restrictions on access to internet information, meaning that analysts and brokers based in Qianhai might not be able to get the latest international news quickly. [...]. ^ top ^

China urges Britain to stop interfering in Hong Kong's affairs (Xinhua)
2013-09-16
China on Monday expressed "strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" to a newspaper opinion piece by a British minister and has urged Britain to immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong's internal affairs. "The British minister of state at the foreign office (Hugo Swire) issued an article in a newspaper in which he openly made irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong's political system. The Chinese government expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to it," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing. Hong said that the development of the political system is an internal affair for Hong Kong and a domestic affair of China. "We do not allow any interference by external forces," said the spokesman. The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) also expressed its solemn position of opposing interference by any foreign force, Hong said. "We urge the British side to immediately stop intervening in Hong Kong's internal affairs in any form," he said. Hong Kong suffered long-term colonial rule, said Hong. Since the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, the Basic Law of the HKSAR has fully protected fundamental rights and freedom of the Hong Kong people. The development of Hong Kong's political system has been steadily promoted in accordance with the Basic Law and resolutions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, he said. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Complaints surface of attempted vote-buying in Macau elections (SCMP)
2013-09-16
Free rides and cut-price meals were widely available in Macau yesterday during elections for its fifth Legislative Assembly. But taxis appeared to be a scarcity - unless you were a registered voter and your destination was a polling station. Some 145,274 people cast their votes in the election between 9am and 9pm at 31 polling stations to elect 14 out of 33 lawmakers. The turnout rate was lower than in the election four years ago. Results were expected early this morning. Counting was delayed at two polling stations when two candidates, in separate incidents, harassed staff. One of them was led away by police but not arrested. Ip Son-sang, president of the Electoral Affairs Committee, condemned the behaviour, saying: "Legislative candidates should set a higher moral standard for themselves." Twelve lawmakers were elected uncontested in functional constituencies and seven others will be appointed by Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on. Candidates campaigned until the last minute, with some observers saying some antics were close to the limits of acceptability. Commissioner Against Corruption Fong Man-chong admitted that many acts had "tested the boundary of legality" and had reached an unprecedented level, but he said any complaints would be closely followed up. "Even one case [of vote-buying] is too many," he said. Voters were provided with bottled water at one hotel and taxis ran from its forecourt all afternoon to take them to polling stations. One taxi driver said a hotel owner and candidate "gave us 1,500 patacas for the day to take voters to cast their ballots - usually we only earn around 1,000 to 1,200 patacas per day". Other hotel owners had organised free coach tours - with several routes running every hour - to take their staff to vote and low-priced meals were provided for residents.A member of staff at another establishment said his employer had provided low-priced buffets especially for the occasion. Officials at the Electoral Affairs Commission said candidates were allowed to provide transport for voters but were prohibited to promote themselves during the ride and could not offer drinks or inducements to voters in return for votes. By yesterday evening, at least 13 voters had been arrested for taking pictures inside polling stations illegally. Ip said the cases had been passed on to the Public Security police and Public Prosecutions Office for investigation. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Ma Ying-jeou's approval sinks to record 9pc amid KMT infighting (SCMP)
2013-09-17
Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang yesterday appealed against a Taipei court's order that allowed party rival Wang Jin-pyng to temporarily keep his KMT membership and his post as speaker of the island's legislature. The move came as the KMT sought to contain an escalating political crisis that saw Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's approval rating slip to an all-time low of 9.2 per cent and public pressure mounting on him to resign. Ma initiated the ouster of Wang, his long-time rival. A three-member legal team from the KMT went to the high court yesterday to file an appeal against a lower court's order on Friday that blocked Ma's bid to oust Wang from his post. "We maintain that the court has no power to determine a party's internal dispute," said Chen Ming, one of the KMT lawyers, citing a similar ruling by Japan. "Also, Wang already lost his [speaker's] status the minute when the legislature received a Central Election week found that Ma's approval rating dropped to 11 per cent from more than 65 per cent when he was first elected as president in 2008. Another poll by ERA television put Ma's approval rating even lower - at 9.2 per cent. More ominously, more than 49 per cent of respondents said they would support a recall campaign against the president. More than 160,000 Facebook users said they would join a protest in front of the president's office to call for Ma's ouster when the KMT holds its party congress on September 28. Many internet users cited Ma's own words about former president Chen Shui-bian in 2006 to make their case for recall. Then Taipei mayor, Ma told a huge rally that Chen's approval rating was so low that he should step down regardless of what happened in his corruption case. "The recall action has nothing to do with whether [Chen] has committed a crime or not," Ma said. "As long as he is incapable of administering and his approval rating has dropped to 18 per cent, it means the public no longer trusts him, no longer respects him, and the public can take back his power." Former vice-president Annette Lu Hsiu-lien, announcing a campaign to recall Ma yesterday, said: "Now that [Ma's] approval rating has dropped to 9 per cent … even 50 per cent less than [Chen], he should stick to his word and step down. "On Saturday, the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party said it would initiate impeachment proceedings within the legislature against Ma, despite slim chances of getting the required three-quarters voteCommission's notice that he was no longer a KMT member," Chen said. Ma's decision to go after Wang triggered a public outcry with many seeing Ma's ouster of Wang as inappropriate. An opinion poll conducted by the TVBS news network late last. ^ top ^

Taiwan legislature to probe influence-peddling claims against lawmakers (SCMP)
2013.09.19
Taiwan's legislature will launch its own investigation into influence-peddling allegations against two legislative leaders that have triggered a stability-threatening political crisis. The probe was requested by Democratic Progressive Party whip Ker Chien-ming, who has been accused of enlisting the help of legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng to get a criminal prosecution against him dropped. "I am willing to accept any results that are made in a fair and transparent way," Ker said in a news conference. The legislature, which opened its new session on Tuesday, was expected to act after it forms a new disciplinary committee on Monday. The influence-peddling claims, which were detailed by special investigators for the Supreme Prosecutors Office on September 6, led Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou to push for Wang's expulsion from the ruling Koumingtang, effectively removing him as speaker. The KMT's disciplinary committee removed Wang last week, but a court order has put the action on hold. The KMT is currently appealing against the decision. Yesterday, Wang said he would co-operate fully with the legislature's investigation. A finding in favour of Wang and Ker could bolster Ma's critics who say the president unfairly rushed to judgment on Wang. Ker said he would also ask the legislature to examine whether Prosecutor General Huang Shih-ming overstepped his powers under the constitution by tapping lawmakers' phones. Investigators have released wiretap transcripts appearing to show Ker calling Wang for help and Wang in turn lobbying former justice minister Tseng Yung-fu for leniency in the case. At the time, prosecutors were considering whether to appeal against a not guilty verdict in a breach-of-trust case involving Ker. Wang has said he sought only to remind Tseng of the legislature's opposition to wasteful and unnecessary prosecutions. Tseng has since resigned. Ma's popularity, already low due to growing public resentment over his government's inability to improve the sagging economy, has slipped further to 9 per cent according to a recent opinion poll by ERA cable television. The same poll found 63 per cent of the respondents thought his handling of the allegations was unacceptable. ^ top ^

Ma Ying-jeou seeks to control fallout from bid to expel speaker (SCMP)
2013.09.20
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has held a series of closed-door meetings with Kuomintang lawmakers in an effort to cool simmering discontent over his bid to oust legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng. Since Monday, the president, who also serves as KMT chairman, has met some 65 members of Taiwan's ruling party to explain his response to allegations that Wang interfered in a criminal case against another prominent legislator. Ma, whose popularity has sunk to a historic low of 9 per cent amid the controversy, has also appealed to the public for understanding, saying during one television interview that Wang's expulsion was something that "must be done as it concerns what is right and what is wrong". The KMT's disciplinary panel voted to strip Wang of his party membership last week over allegations he lobbied the then-justice minister to drop an appeal in a criminal breach-of-trust case against Democratic Progressive Party whip Ker Chien-ming. The move effectively removed Wang as speaker, since he relied on the KMT's recommendation for his "at-large" legislator status, and he turned to the courts in a bid to preserve his political career. The island's High Court agreed on Wednesday to hear an appeal filed by the KMT against a lower court's decision that allowed him to keep his party membership. Ma's confrontation with Wang threatens to drive a rift within the party, since the speaker has long been a leading rival of Ma's in the KMT. A KMT lawmaker who attended one of Ma's damage-control meetings this week said the president sought to quiet concerns that his actions were politically motivated. Ma said he was shocked when Prosecutor General Huang Shih-ming informed him of the influence-peddling allegations earlier this month. "The president told us it was purely unexpected and left him with no choice but to take action," said the lawmaker, who declined to be named. Some lawmakers said Wang could have merely been expressing concern for Ker when he was caught on wiretap discussing the case with former justice minister Tseng Yung-fu. But Ma argued he could not ignore the evidence. "The president said this was why he had to make that painful decision," the legislator said. Wang has said that he only sought to remind Tseng about the legislature's opposition to wasteful and unnecessary criminal prosecutions. Some KMT veterans, such as former chairmen Lien Chan and Wu Poh-hsiung, have suggest that Ma and Wang hold talks to end the dispute. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Big changes await mortgage market (Global Times)
2013-09-15
Several banks, including those in Guangzhou and Beijing, have recently stopped issuing real estate loans. Over the short term, as we will enter the final quarter of the year, numerous lenders have already used upwards of 80 percent of their annual real estate loan quotas. And in order to look better on their performance reviews, many banks are now passing over individual homebuyers and lending to clients that can bear higher interest rates, such as small enterprises. Over the long term, interest rate liberalization and uncertainties in the real estate market mean that home loans will become increasingly marginalized. Safety, a quality many previously associated with real estate loans, can no longer be guaranteed. Narrowing margins are to blame as well. Financial products are rapidly becoming the largest income source for banks, and their interest rates are over 4 percent on average. In comparison, interest on a standard property loan is only 6.55 percent, leaving banks with a 2.55 percent margin. ^ top ^

China to invest 80 bln yuan in exploring oil, gas this year (Xinhua)
2013-09-15
China's investment in exploration of oil and gas resources is expected to stand at 80 billion yuan (13.07 billion U.S. dollars) in 2013, according to the Ministry of Land and Resources. Such investment has risen steadily in China over the past years as the country moves to reduce dependence on imports and ensure security of energy supply. The ministry figures show that money spent on exploration of oil and gas fields rose from 19.0 billion yuan in 2002 to 67.3 billion yuan in 2011.In the 2008-2011 period, some 5.01 billion tonnes of petroleum reserves and 2.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas were discovered. China's dependence rates on imports of oil and natural gas came in at 58 percent and nearly 30 percent respectively in 2012, according to a report by the Economics and Technology Research Institute of China National Petroleum Corporation. ^ top ^

China on track to double 2010 GDP (Global Times)
2013-09-17
An annual average GDP growth of at least 7 percent in the next seven years will allow China to double the 2010 GDP by 2020, an official at the research office of the State Council said Monday. Speaking at a press briefing in Beijing on Monday, Yang Shubing, head of the Information Research Department at the Research Office of the State Council, the country's cabinet, said that China could achieve its strategic goal of doubling its GDP and annual income per capita between 2010 and 2020. "Even if the economic growth slips below 7 percent annually after 2020, China could achieve its target of realizing modernization by 2050," Yang said, noting that the lower limit of economic growth is still 7.5 percent this year. "In the first 30 years since China's reform and opening-up, the potential annual growth rate of the economy was 10 percent and the reasonable growth range was between 8 percent and 12 percent," Fan Jianping, chief economist with the State Information Center (SIC), a government think-tank, told the Global Times Monday. "Between 2011 and 2020, the potential annual growth rate of the economy will be 8 percent. That means a reasonable growth range for the 10 years will be between 7 percent and 9 percent, so the 7 percent growth rate is the bottom line for the period," Fan said. Commenting on the speech made by Premier Li Keqiang at the opening ceremony of the Summer Davos Forum last week, Yang acknowledged Monday that the government's innovation in macro management helped China achieve the smooth economic performance in the first half of the year. Facing the downward pressure in the economy, the government proposed a reasonable growth range of the economy and is striving to stabilize the economy through restructuring and reform instead of rolling out stimulus," Yang said. Premier Li said Wednesday in Dalian that China is at a crucial stage and will not be able to achieve sustained economic growth without structural transformation and upgrading, and expected to use the reform to unleash fresh institutional vitality. The country's GDP slowed to 7.6 percent in the first six months of 2013, the weakest first-half performance in three years but above the full-year target of 7.5 percent. The government has said it will focus on restructuring and advancing reforms as long as the economic growth rate does not fall below the lower threshold of 7.5 percent and inflation doesn't rise beyond the upper threshold of 3.5 percent. "The biggest innovation of macro management by the government is proposing a reasonable range for economic growth. It helps stabilize market expectations and avoids chaos in the capital market and real economy," Fan from SIC said. Positive signs for China's economy have emerged since August amid a raft of economic data released recently, showing that the economy is stabilizing following a shaky first half of the year. The latest evidence came Saturday when China's power consumption, a key indicator of economic activity, rose 13.7 percent year-on-year in August, the third straight month of recovery since June and the fastest rise since March 2012. On August 27, the Political Bureau decided that the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee will be held in November in Beijing to discuss deeper reforms. ^ top ^

China to invest 2 trillion yuan to expand broadband (SCMP)
2013.09.19
China plans to invest 2 trillion yuan (US$323 billion) to improve its broadband infrastructure by 2020 with the aim of taking the nearly entire population online, a vice-minister said on Wednesday. The government is trying to improve fixed-line and wireless connectivity throughout China, home to the largest number of mobile phone users in the world despite only 45 per cent of the population have access to the internet. China's investment in broadband could benefit global network equipment makers such as Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, as well as home-grown players like Huawei Technologies and ZTE. “Our 3G network has to cover cities and villages and, at the same time, we have to put 4G into wide commercial use,” Shang Bing, a vice-minister at the Ministry of Information and Industry, said in an interview published on official website www.gov.cn. Shang said the government aimed to boost the average broadband speed in China's cities to 20 megabits per second by 2015, which is less than what internet users in Hong Kong and Singapore currently enjoy. In rural China, where internet penetration is very low, broadband speeds would hit 4 megabits per second by 2015, he said. China's broadband strategy will ensure that the number of 3G and Long Term Evolution (LTE) users will increase to 1.2 billion by 2020, four times of the current figure, Shang said. The government aims to increase the number of broadband users by 25 million and fibre optic internet users by 35 million this year, according to the state-run China Internet Network Information Center. Three companies currently operate all of China's broadband services: China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Six-Party Talks to restart (Global Times)
2013-09-18
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi said Tuesday that the Sino-North Korean relationship is at a crucial stage that connects the past and the future during a meeting with Kim Kye-gwan, first vice foreign minister of North Korea. Kim is in China for an international workshop on the 10th anniversary of the currently suspended Six-Party Talks. Both sides should keep up with the times, grasp opportunities and tackle challenges to advance the healthy, stable development of bilateral ties, Yang said. The talks are an effective mechanism for realizing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintaining peace and stability of the peninsula and Northeast Asia, Yang said, adding that China hopes relevant parties make efforts to strive for an early resumption of the talks. Kim said the North Korea-China friendship should carry on, and that bilateral ties should be strengthened, adding that the North supports China's effort to restart the talks. ^ top ^

Japan urges DPRK to implement agreed steps on denuclearization (Xinhua)
2013.09.18
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) should firstly implement steps it agreed to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula before seeking the resumption of the six-party talks, according to local media. The remarks indicated that Japan rejected the appeal by DPRK's top nuclear official for resuming the six-party talks without any preconditions, said Japan's Kyodo News. It is natural that the DPRK has to commit completely to a joint statement agreed at the talks in 2005 saying Pyongyang would abandon all of its nuclear weapons and programs, the top government spokesman was quoted by Kyodo as saying. DPRK's First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan called in Beijing Wednesday for early resumption of the multilateral talks, adding there should be no preconditions. The six-party talks, which involve China, DPRK, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States, have been stalled since late 2008. China hopes relevant parties make concrete efforts to strive for an early resumption of the six-party talks, said Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi Tuesday during his meeting with Kim in Beijing. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

World Economic Forum in Ulaanbaatar: Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Mongolia (Infomongolia)
2013.09.13
On September 14-15, 2013, Mongolia hosts the World Economic Forum themed “Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Mongolia” in Ulaanbaatar. At the Forum, President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj, Prime Minister of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag, Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) Z.Enkhbold and other Government officials are to attend. Mongolia is currently one of the world's fastest growing economies, with GDP growth for 2013 forecasted to be between 14-16%. The country is benefiting from a booming mining industry, which is still far from realizing its full potential, and the government has strong ambitions to use this wealth to improve infrastructure and foster growth across different sectors, ultimately improving the lives of its people. Given these positive foundations, Mongolia is at a crucial turning point. Its future prosperity is affected by highly uncertain drivers of change, from the reliability of foreign investments to fluctuating commodity prices and the future of geopolitical relations with neighboring Russia and China. The World Economic Forum - "Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Mongolia" is an unparalleled opportunity to bring together the Mongolian government and other leading domestic and international stakeholders to explore economic pathways. The meeting forms an essential part of the World Economic Forum's project Scenarios for Mongolia, the outcomes of which will be presented at the Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, January 2014. ^ top ^

Activists arrested after gun fired near Government House (News.mn)
2013.09.17
The Gal Undesten Union held a demonstration with 11 activists opposing the amendment law banning mineral exploration and exploitation in river and forest basins. The demonstration was held outside of the Government house during the emergency session meeting of Parliament called by Speaker Z.Enkhbiold today on September 16th. Local reports say that the activists fired shots into air near Government House around 10.30 am this morning. An emergency state was called in Government House disallowing any entry or exit for some hours. Police arrested the activists who fired shots into the air and found firearms and small bombs after conducting a search at the park north to of Government House. During the arrest one of the activists was delivered to hospital. The law on the Prohibition of Mineral Prospecting Exploration in water basin areas and forest areas was passed in 2009 but the law was impractical. The Water and Forest Law, prohibits mining activities in water basins and forested areas of the landlocked country of fewer than 3 million people where water is in short supply.
One of the main issues to be discussed at the emergency session meeting of Parliament is a new amendment to the law on the Prohibition of Mineral Prospecting Exploration in water basin areas and forest areas. The emergency state in imposed on Government House was cancelled and police arrested nine activists amid protests against making amendments to the law.”. ^ top ^

Mining Minister meets new president of OT LLC (Montsame)
2013.09.18
The Minister of Mining D.Gankhuyag Wednesday met Mr Craig Kinnell, president and CEO of the Oyu Tolgoi LLC at a request of the latter. The Minister expressed a satisfaction with the OT project's collaborating with the world-scale and biggest company. He said Mongolia wants the new CEO of the OT LLC to carry out the project, maintaining the country's laws and related rules under open and transparent principles. Mr Kinnel promised to adhere to the Mongolian culture, custom, laws and the cooperation treaty and to collaborate with Mongolia at a level of international standards. He also pledged to maintain principles of responsible mining and the mining rules. The parties agreed to quickly resolve the current problem in a creative way. ^ top ^

The world's best draughts players gather in Ulaanbaatar (News.mn)
2013.09.18
In a few days the World Women`s Draughts Championships 2013 will begin in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Ulaanbaatar will host the World Women`s Draughts Championships 2013 between October 1st and 10th. The 16 world leading draughts players who qualified from the World and Continental Cup will compete for the title of World Champion of Draughts. The 38th World Women`s Draughts Championships will be attended by international draughts players from 10 countries. The competition will be lead by 12 times legendary champion Zoya Golubeva (Riga, Latvia) and attended by three competitors from Mongolia, three from Russia, two from China, two from the Ukraine and Holland, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Estonia will each send one player. Efforts have been made by the Mongolian Draughts Federation to encourage children`s enthusiasm for draughts and success in competitions in order to develop the sport in Mongolia. Through support from the Federation to reach success in the World and Continental Cups, the number of draughts players has reached 25,000 in Mongolia. ^ top ^

 

Ludivine Candiotti
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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