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
  09-15.11.13, No. 501  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China's deepening reform catches world attention (Xinhua)
2013.11.10
The key meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was expected to unveil an overall deployment of China's comprehensively deepening reform, overseas media reported. The four-day Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which kicked off here Saturday, will deliberate on a draft decision on major issues, including transformation of government functions, urbanization, opening up in the financial sector, fiscal and tax system reform, and price regulation. "Some moves would be relatively easy to implement, such as insurance on bank deposits - a move that would help underpin China's financial system as capital controls are gradually relaxed," the Wall Street Journal said. Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta, or the Independent Newspaper, predicted transformation from an export-oriented to a consumer-oriented economy would be addressed in the meeting, including giving rural households title to land and allowing private capital into the country's financial sector. "These moves will motivate China's domestic market with its 1.35 billion population, thus promoting the country's economic development," it said. The meeting would "decide the economic policies that will steer China's direction over the coming decade," said Forbes, a U.S. biweekly business magazine. Forbes said it was the most prominent "Third Plenum" since 1978 when Deng Xiaoping led China on its opening up and reform path, because China had reached a turning point which could not be neglected by its leadership. The Daily Telegraph said this year's meeting would rival that under Deng 35 years ago by delivering a "profound revolution" which would drive the country to break free of the middle income trap and switch to a grown-up growth model. The reforms will in theory break China's "reliance on investment" and allow the hard working Chinese people to enjoy more of what they produce, said the British newspaper. The Financial Times said the meeting would be "just the moment" for the party to introduce a slate of reforms for China's economic, social and democratic development. China needed to achieve high-quality sustainable economic growth as well as create a fair and reasonable environment for competition, thus weakening its social conflicts, it said. El Mercurio, a Chilean paper, said the meeting would help China sustain its economic growth and increase its mid-term manufacturing capacity. China's economic growth rate was being closely watched across the world, said Die Welt, a German national daily, adding that, even Germany's economic growth, was unprecedentedly reliant on that of China. It forecast the upcoming reforms would be welcomed by the Chinese people and also investors around the globe. The meeting would show just how committed the new leadership was to reform, the Globe and Mail reported. Not only steering China in the right direction, the results of the meeting would also benefit other countries, the Canadian newspaper said. ^ top ^

Chinese FM expresses great expectation of Asia-Europe ties (Xinhua)
2013.11.11
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here Monday that the relations between Asia and Europe are becoming tighter and the perspective of their cooperation wider against the backdrop of globalization and information age. Addressing the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in the Indian capital, Wang said that a common development of Asia and Europe will contribute to the forming of a multipolar world and a better global power equilibrium, as well as a stronger, more dynamic and more sustainable growth of world economy. He said both Asia and Europe have contributed greatly to human civilization and progress in history. "Today, more and more Asian countries are entering the track of fast development, which is a general trend in the evolution of human society," he said. He expressed confidence that Europe, as one of the major economic powers of the world, will recover from its debt crisis and rebound to its former position. Wang said Asia and Europe should stand at a new start of history, promote the facilitation of trade and investment, in order to seek and realize Asia-European economic integrity. He suggested that the two continents focus on strengthening cooperation in communications, clean energy, environment protection, IT and urbanization. China is willing to combine the design for a new Silk Route Economic Corridor with Asia-European cooperation to benefit the people of the two continents, he said. ^ top ^

China rejects Geneva II preconditions (Xinhua)
2013.11.12
China on Tuesday called for all parties to participate in the Geneva II conference "without setting preconditions" and end Syria's conflict. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the comment after the Syrian opposition, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), agreed on Monday to attend the Geneva peace conference, but with conditions. China has always maintained that a political solution is the only way out of the Syria issue, which is also the common understanding of the international community, Qin said at a daily news briefing. "It is imperative for all parties to back the mediation effort of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, facilitating and participating in the Geneva II conference without any preconditions," Qin said. Any party can raise their political stand, proposals or appeals at the conference, Qin said. He hoped the conference would map out the next step for the political process in Syria and bring peace and stability at an early date. The United States and Russia are trying to convene the talks in Geneva by the end of this year with the aim of ending the 31-month conflict in Syria. ^ top ^

China, Cameroon sign 4 cooperation agreements (Global Times)
2013.11.12
Cameroon and China on Monday signed four cooperation agreements in the domains of water, air transport and telecommunication. In the first agreement worth 173 million US dollars, China promised to fund water projects in four Cameroonian towns of Bafoussam, Bamenda, Kribi and Sangmelima. The second agreement worth about 158 million dollars will provide partial funding to an emergency national telecommunications network in Cameroon. Cameroon also received 16 million dollars for funding economic and technical cooperation projects and another 80 million dollars to purchase two MA60 aircraft from China. Chinese Ambassador to Cameroon Wo Ruidi hailed the signing of the agreements and said this would reinforce the 40-year bilateral relations between Beijing and Yaounde. Cameroon's Transport Minister Robert Nkili recalled the agreements were concluded during President Paul Biya's visit to China in July 2011. Through another agreement, a third MA60 was received by Cameroon in November 2012 and the transport minister said it was already serving Cameroon and its neighboring states. "It is the same small plane that carried seven French hostages who were released in March 2013 after having been kept in captivity for over a month by Nigerian kidnappers," Nkili recalled. Cameroon's Economy Minister Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi said the signing of agreements in the water sector will enable the government to achieve its objective of increasing the rate of access to water in the capital from the current 25 percent to 75 percent by the year 2020. The economy minister expressed confidence that the national telecommunications project will improve the country's disaster prevention and management system. "It will boost the early warning system for better protection of the population and their properties," he said, adding that "the telecommunications system will also coordinate rescue operations at the local and national level." He revealed that there were ongoing talks between the Cameroonian and Chinese authorities for the construction of a high- speed standard gauge railway in Yaounde to end the perennial traffic jams. ^ top ^

China wins UN Human Rights Council seat... despite its refusal to allow inspectors in (SCMP)
2013.11.13
China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Cuba and Algeria won seats Tuesday on the U.N. Human Rights Council, riling independent human rights groups who said their election undermined the rights watchdog's credibility. The General Assembly elected 14 new members to the 47-seat Geneva-based council, which can shine a spotlight on rights abuses by adopting resolutions — when it chooses to do so. It also has dozens of special monitors watching problem countries and major issues ranging from executions to drone strikes. Britain, France, the Maldives, Macedonia, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia and South Africa were also elected to three-year terms. Human Rights Watch noted that five of the new council members — China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Algeria — have refused to let U.N. investigators visit to check alleged abuses. China, Russia and Algeria have 10 or more unfulfilled requests for visits by U.N. experts, some dating back to 2000, the group said. Saudi Arabia and Vietnam each have seven outstanding requests, they said. “Countries that haven't allowed U.N. experts appointed by the council to visit have a lot of explaining to do,” said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director of the New York-based non-government group. “It's like hiring someone, then not allowing them to enter the office.” Across the street from the main gate of U.N. headquarters, pro-Tibet activists hung a huge banner saying “China Fails Human Rights.” Seats, allotted by region, are sometimes contested and sometimes not. All 193 members of the General Assembly can vote by secret ballots, which were collected in wooden ballot boxes from delegates. Geneva-based UN Watch, a frequent critic of U.N. rights practices, denounced what it considered the worst new members. “China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia systematically violate the human rights of their own citizens, and they consistently vote the wrong way on U.N. initiatives to protect the human rights of others,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “For the U.N. to elect Saudi Arabia as a world judge on human rights would be like a town making a pyromaniac into chief of the fire department. “Regrettably, so far neither the U.S. nor the EU have said a word about hypocritical candidacies that will undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the UN human rights system. By turning a blind eye as human rights violators easily join and subvert the council, leading democracies will be complicit in the world body's moral decline.” UN Watch and other groups have also criticized the Human Rights Council for its preoccupation with reports and resolutions criticizing Israel over the Palestinian issue. By contrast, Neuer said that the council has never adopted a resolution critical of Russia, China or Saudi Arabia. This year's election had some added backstage drama. Saudi Arabia had been expected to run into trouble in the General Assembly vote because last month it won, and then a day later rejected, a seat on the Security Council for 2014-2015, an unprecedented move. The kingdom was apparently protesting differences with the United States on issues in the Mideast, including Washington's response to the Egypt and Syria crises and its outreach with Iran, the Saudis' regional foe. Until last week, Jordan had also been a candidate. But then it dropped out of the Human Rights Council race, clearing the way for Saudi Arabia to win unopposed. Jordan, meanwhile, is angling to replace Saudi Arabia on the Security Council. The losers in Tuesday's balloting were Uruguay, beaten by Cuba and Mexico for seats in the Latin America and Caribbean group; and South Sudan, which failed to get enough votes to win one of the four African seats. The United States is among the current members of the council, with a term set to expire in 2015. Hicks of Human Rights Watch called on responsible nations to call out the abuses of the worst offenders, regardless of who is on the council. “With the return of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Cuba, human rights defenders will have their work cut out for them at the Human Rights Council next year,” Hicks said. “States truly committed to advancing human rights will need to redouble their efforts on key issues, such as accountability in Sri Lanka, grave abuses in Central African Republic, and the ongoing crisis in Syria. Fortunately, no states have a veto in Geneva, so a hard-working majority can still achieve concrete results.” ^ top ^

Former Japanese PM Yukio Hatoyama apologises for atrocities in China (SCMP)
2013-11-14
Former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama has offered a personal apology for Japan's wartime atrocities in China and blamed tensions in the East China Sea on Tokyo. He also departed from the view of Japan's political establishment by criticising Tokyo's dependence on the US. Hatoyama made the remarks at a speech delivered at the City University of Hong Kong yesterday. Commenting on his visit this year to the memorial hall dedicated to victims of the massacre in Nanjing, the former prime minister said what Japanese troops did during the Nanjing massacre was not acceptable. "As a Japanese citizen, I feel that it's my duty to apologise for even just one Chinese civilian killed brutally by Japanese soldiers and that such action cannot be excused by saying that it occurred during war," he said. Hatoyama, 66, stirred controversy earlier this year when he told Chinese media that territorial sovereignty over the East China Sea was disputed, even though the Japanese government insists there are no disputes over the islands known as Diaoyus in China and Senkakus in Japan. His remarks prompted Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera to label him a "traitor". Yesterday, Hatoyama said tensions over the East China Sea were a result of "signals sent to China by Japan". He did not elaborate on these "signals" but earlier this year he told Phoenix TV that it was "unavoidable that the Chinese side thinks Japan stole" the islands, a remark that Tokyo described as "outrageous". Hatoyama, of the Democratic Party of Japan, now in opposition, criticised the Japan administration for complicating strained relations between the two Asian powers by enhancing ties with the US. "Instead of trying to resolve the issue by sitting down with China, the current administration makes it very difficult; they move the relationship closer to the United States," he said. Jeff Kingston, director of Asia Studies at Temple University in Japan, said the mainstream view in Japan was that China was to blame for tensions in the East China Sea. "There are many Japanese who do recognise war responsibility, but given the spiralling down of bilateral relations, many Japanese feel threatened by China, [and] his remarks seem overly positive," Kingston said. ^ top ^

China, Yemen pledge to step up ties (Global Times)
2013.11.14
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday met with visiting Yemeni President Abdorabuh Mansour Hadi, pledging to improve bilateral relations. Hailing the two countries' political mutual trust, mutual respect and healthy development of bilateral ties, Li said China will continue to support Yemen's efforts in safeguarding its stability and development as well as advancing its political transition process, adding China is willing to upgrade the two countries' bilateral relations to a higher level. China is willing to increase cooperation in all fields, create better plans for economic and trade cooperation, further provide assistance for Yemen in personnel training, encourage more Chinese companies to conduct business in Yemen and broaden financing channels, said the premier. He said China wants Yemen to make concrete efforts to ensure the safety of Chinese people in Yemen. Hadi spoke highly of China's role in safeguarding regional peace and stability and promoting Yemen's economic growth. Yemen hopes to strengthen coordination with China, expand mutually beneficial cooperation, he said, adding that Yemen welcomes China's investment and will provide convenience for investors. ^ top ^

China supports continuous advance of Libya's political transition: envoy (Global Times)
2013.11.15
China supports Libya in continuing to advance its political transition and calls on all parties in the country to solve their differences through dialogue, a Chinese envoy said Thursday. China's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Liu Jieyi, who is also the rotating president of the Security Council for this month, made the remarks at a meeting of the 15-member council on the situation in Libya. "Thanks to the efforts of the government of Libya, important progress has continued to be made in the country's political transition," Liu said. He underlined that China supports Libya in continuing to move forward its political transition process. "We hope that, for the best interest of the country and the people, all relevant parties in Libya will work to maintain state unity, solve differences through dialogue and tackle the many challenges it faces in the political transition process, in order to achieve early national reconciliation, rebuilding and development," he said. The Chinese envoy also noted that his country supports the government of Libya in its efforts to realize judicial justice. "China's position on the question of the international judicial institutions remains unchanged, Liu added. ^ top ^

Chinese can visit 18 countries without prior visas (Global Times)
2013.11.15
Chinese passport-holders can visit some 18 foreign countries and regions without first having to acquire visas but the exit and entry inspection could bar Chinese nationals from leaving the country if their destination does not fit with the government protocol. The Beijing General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection said on Tuesday on its official Sina Weibo account that its intention as one that "does not want to stop travelers but the inspection station itself has to follow protocols issued by the Ministry of Public Security." The Inspection said it had not received instructions from the Ministry of Public Security to implement the visa-free policy in certain countries. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs must first sign visa-free agreements with relevant countries for such a policy to be fully understood and implemented by both sides. The foreign ministry would then inform the Ministry of Public Security, which would make new protocols and pass them on to inspection stations, according to the Weibo post. "Otherwise the visa-free or visa-on-arrival policy, as declared by some countries unilaterally, cannot be honored from our side," the post said. Chinese travelers face difficulties traveling to some foreign countries owing to historical reasons, the Inspection said. "In earlier times, China had launched strict exit and entry policies to control the number of people traveling abroad. Many Chinese people tried to find their way into developed countries and stay there as illegal immigrants, triggering complaints from immigration departments of those countries," the Weibo post added. "The complaints have in turn prompted authorities to strengthen the crackdown on illegal immigration." The 18 countries and regions are Mauritius, Jeju Island in South Korea, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Indonesia, San Marino, Seychelles, Samoa, Maldives, Haiti, Georgia, Brunei, Fiji, Comoros, Palau, Bahrain, Jordan, and Myanmar. Chinese nationals can also travel to Timor Leste without a visa but will need an approval letter from its embassy in China. Among all 18 countries, China has signed memorandums with Mauritius, San Marino and Seychelles, agreeing mutually of visa-free policies. The news report has shocked many Chinese Netizens, many of whom are from the younger generation and view the current visa policy as "inconvenient" and "inconsistent" with China's status as the world's second-largest economy. China is working to sign a no-visa agreement next year with Thailand. The new agreement could open a door in terms of visa policies with other countries, according to the Inspection, which also said that the number of countries that offer on-arrival visas or visa-free policies could increase from 18 to 180 in coming years. ^ top ^

China to give additional 10 million yuan to Philippine storm victims after criticism (SCMP)
2013.11.15
Beijing said yesterday it would increase its aid to the typhoon-pummelled Philippines after criticism of its initial modest response, but some Chinese web users called for no help at all. The two countries are embroiled in a row over islands in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety. Beijing announced a US$100,000 cash donation on Monday, with a matching one from the Chinese Red Cross, far less than other countries and a move that prompted criticism overseas. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the country decided "just days ago" to provide an additional 10 million yuan (HK$12.6 million) for relief efforts in the form of blankets, tents and other materials. "We hope that these supplies will be delivered to the disaster-stricken areas as soon as possible to show our sympathies with the Philippines," Qin said. However, mainland media and internet users were divided on how the country should respond to the disaster. One internet user said: "I think what China has done was rational - facts have long showed the wickedness of the Philippine regime. It will not be grateful even if we hand them much money. Instead, it could use the cash to buy weapons from the US to attack us." However, a commentary in the Global Times took a different line: "A country's status on the world stage does not only rely on its economic and military strength. It is also determined by how much soft power it can master, which includes its approach to humanitarianism." Survivors in the Philippines are pleading for food, water, clothes and medicine - as well as security from mobs pilfering what little aid is getting through. Authorities say 2,357 people are confirmed dead, but that figure is expected to rise. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Man detained over fatal Taiyuan 'revenge' explosions (Global Times)
2013.11.09
Local police on Friday detained a 41-year-old ex-convict who "took revenge on society" by setting off deadly explosions in Taiyuan, capital city of North China's Shanxi Province, on Wednesday. One person died and another eight were injured in the explosion. The suspect, Feng Zhijun, a local resident of Taiyuan, admitted to having intentionally committed the crime in order to "take revenge on society" after his capture at 2 am on Friday, according to a statement from the Shanxi Provincial Public Security Department. He also confessed all details of his crime, police said. The explosions occurred on Wednesday morning in front of the office building of the Shanxi Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China in Taiyuan. Among the eight injured, one was seriously wounded. Police found self-made bombs in Feng's residence and seized the vehicle which they believe he was using at the time of the explosions. Feng had previously served nine years in prison for theft, police said. The case is still under investigation. ^ top ^

Singles' Day sales hit 35 bln (Global Times)
2013.11.12
The Alibaba Group, which owns China's largest online shopping platforms tmall.com and taobao.com, announced on Tuesday that it had achieved record sales of 35 billion yuan ($5.75 billion) on Monday's Singles' Day, initially created by young people to celebrate their loneliness. Fireworks were lit at the e-commerce giant's headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province after online transactions reached 30 billion yuan at about 9:20 pm. Tens of millions of shoppers stayed up on Sunday night, poised to pounce on their favorite items, as the day's sales officially started just after midnight. In just one hour, Alibaba's online transactions reached 1 billion yuan. In less than nine hours, revenue amounted to 12.1 billion yuan ($1.98 billion). This figure was similar to one cited by the Adobe Digital Index, which used the figure in a report of total online sales in the US on Cyber Monday, the first Monday following Thanksgiving. Some 13 hours into the day, sales figures had already reached 19.1 billion, the same amount as the 24-hour total of last year's Singles' Day. Many items claimed to be 50 percent off, some even 90 percent off. The most popular items sold on Singles' Day included underwear, diapers, baby milk formula, mobile phones and home appliances. One of the largest single deals was made by a female consumer in East China's Zhejiang Province, who paid 5 million yuan as a deposit for a 13.3-carat diamond worth 20.50 million yuan on tmall.com.Smartphone producer Xiaomi was the first to achieve 100 million yuan of sales revenue among all retailers on tmall.com, followed by insurance firms Guohua Life and Sino Life, as well as home appliance maker Haier and menswear chain Jack & Jones, according to data provided by Tmall. Another e-commerce giant, jd.com, is expected to surpass 5 million orders on this year's Singles' Day, the company said in a statement on Monday, without disclosing specific sales revenue. Suning.com has also launched an online shopping promotion campaign since Friday, but had not released any sales data by press time. Not everyone has had a happy experience in the shopping rush, though. Some complained that the huge discounts were based on marked-up prices. Others grumbled that slowed-down Internet speeds made it difficult to place orders and confirm bill payments - Tmall reported up to 17 million consumers online at peak time on Monday. "A lot of items in my online shopping cart were sold out within a few seconds after Midnight," Xi Yang, a 26-year-old consumer in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times on Tuesday. "For those items that are still available for purchase, the discounts are not as much as I expected, so I felt a little disappointed," she said. The final sales figure was beyond Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma Yun's estimation, who earlier predicted the sales revenue for the whole day would stay at around 30 billion yuan. "What I am most concerned about now is not how to boost consumer demand, but how to match up purchasing power with logistics and financial systems as well as after-sales services," Ma said in an interview with China Central Television broadcast on Sunday. The large number of orders has put pressure on the domestic express delivery industry. The China Express Association estimated that about 323 million packages generated on Singles' Day would be delivered by Saturday. "It means up to 70 million packages need to be handled every day during the period, but normally the domestic express delivery industry can handle just half of that volume," Xu Yong, chief consultant with China Express and Logistics Consulting, told the Global Times on Monday. There are also concerns that consumer spending is amplified on Singles' Day but that customers will tighten their belts in the following months. "The online sales revenue on Singles' Day, although impressive, still accounts for a small proportion of China's total retail sales, which stayed at 2.15 trillion yuan in October," said Song Yang, a senior analyst at IT consultancy Analysys International. "Traditional retailers should not just see Singles' Day as a threat, instead, they should look for ways to improve consumers' offline shopping experiences," Song said, noting the trend of the retail industry is an online-to-offline business model, in which the Internet is the first stop for customers to get promotions that then lead them to physical stores. ^ top ^

Commentary: China on new starting point of reform after key meeting (Xinhua)
2013.11.13
The just finished key meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) ended with an array of new reform ideas, which puts the country at a new starting point of development for the next few years. According to a communique issued after the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which took place from Nov. 9 to 12, a decision on "major issues concerning comprehensively deepening reforms" was approved. The third plenary sessions of the CPC central committee often focus on reforms. In 1978, the 11th CPC Central Committee decided to carry out the reform and opening-up policy, resulting in China's boosting economy and overall change for society as a whole. This time around, the country is standing at a new starting point of development. Facing challenges from inside and outside of the country, the Party decided to give a bigger role to the market as it seeks comprehensive reform. The general objective of the reforms is to improve and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics and push on with modernization of the country's governing system and capabilities, said the communique. Government administration is from top to bottom, while governance focuses on bottom to top and the integration of all levels. The decision shows that reform will help the public to participate more. In the meantime, the country will set up a central leading team for reform. The team will be in charge of designing reform on an overall basis, arranging and coordinating reform, pushing forward reform as a whole, and supervising the implementation of reform plans. A dedicated institution shows the importance the top leadership has given to reforms and their sense of urgency. Furthermore, the leading team will provide an organizational guarantee for reforms, and implement reform policies more effectively. The decision acknowledged the market's "decisive" role in allocating resources, according to the communique. The market had been often defined as a "basic" role in allocating resources since the country decided to build a socialist market economy in 1992. It is not only a change in wording, but more importantly, a breakthrough in China's market reform and highlighting the importance of market power. The expression also means that the state should exert the government's role under the domination of the market, rather than exerting the market's role under the domination of the government. The decision said promoting social equity and justice and improving people's well-being is the starting point and the objective of the deepening reform. It is another major guiding principle to address domestic problems. The meeting decided to set up a state security committee, improving systems and strategies to ensure national security and calling for the innovation of systems to effectively prevent and end social disputes and improve public security. This will be a major change for China when it responds to emergencies involving state security in the future. It comes after a series of security challenges at home and abroad in recent years. ^ top ^

Haiyan toll rises in Guangxi, Hainan (Xinhua)
2013.11.13
The official death toll in Hainan province and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region was raised to 10 on Tuesday after Typhoon Haiyan grazed the coast of southern China, with millions affected, according to local civil affairs authorities. Heavy rain and strong winds caused massive damage to houses and farmland over the past three days, disrupting flights and road traffic and forcing schools to close. More than 1,000 students and teachers at a middle school in Guigang in Guangxi were stranded on the upper floors of the school as floodwaters rose to 1.5 meters on Tuesday morning. They were later rescued by firefighters. In Dongxing, also in Guangxi, fast-rising water caused two 100-metric-ton ships to crash into a bridge on Monday afternoon. One of the ships was towed away from the bridge and the other was still stuck under the bridge on Tuesday. "The damage to the bridge is visible but there are no potential safety risks, and repairs will be made before next Friday," said an official with the Dongxing government who declined to be named. According to the latest statistics released by the local civil affairs bureau, the typhoon affected more than 1.2 million people, with two deaths and four missing in Guangxi as of Tuesday. Direct economic losses have been estimated at 465 million yuan ($76 million). Outside of Guangxi, the storm claimed eight lives, caused traffic chaos and damaged farmland in Hainan province since Sunday, said Chen Wu, deputy director of the local flood control and anti-typhoon bureau. Seven crewmembers of a cargo vessel registered in Guangxi disappeared on Sunday afternoon after the ship's mooring rope broke in the storm. Four of the crew were confirmed dead on Tuesday, with the remaining three still missing as search-and-rescue work continues, according to the Sanya maritime authorities. On Monday, more than 100 villages near the Wanquan River in Hainan province were flooded due to the torrential rains since Sunday. Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in Vietnam on Monday morning after it left thousands dead in the Philippines, where it made first landfall. Since Monday, the National Meteorological Center has sent typhoon monitoring data and relevant analyses to Vietnam twice a day. ^ top ^

Detained activist Guo Feixiong tells lawyer of hunger strike (SCMP)
2013.11.14
Veteran legal activist Guo Feixiong, whose three-month detention had sparked worries over his well-being, was allowed to see a lawyer for the first time yesterday and said he had been on a hunger strike, his lawyer said. Lawyer Sui Muqing said Guo had been permitted to see lawyer Chen Guangwu and told him he had protested his detention by refusing to eat for 25 days starting on August 8, the day he was taken into custody. Sui had tried eight times to see Guo, but police have refused to grant the request. Calls made to Chen's mobile phone were not answered yesterday. Guo, whose real name is Yang Maodong, said he had not been tortured as some feared. His sister said last month that when no one was allowed to see him, her concerns for Guo's safety were growing given he had been tortured during his previous time in jail. She only received notification in October, a month after he had been formally arrested on the charge of "gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place". Mainland law mandates that detainees' families are to be notified of their detention or arrest within 24 hours. Guo, 47, said police had accused him of being a mastermind behind rallies in support of the Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou in January, after reporters and editors complained of censorship interference. Police also suspected he had organised a campaign to press the government to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China signed in 1998, Guo was quoted as saying. Officials also accused Guo of organising another campaign to lobby officials to publicly disclose their assets. Guo rejected all the claims. "It is typical political repression, and even if the accusations were true, we can't see that these acts are in any way illegal," Sui said. Guo is a supporter of the New Citizen civil rights movement which has seen at least 18 of its activists detained or arrested. The Tianhe District Detention Centre in Guangzhou, where Guo is being held, refused to comment. ^ top ^

58 arrested in telecom swindling crackdown (Xinhua)
2013.11.14
A telecom fraud ring has been busted with the arrest of 58 suspects, including four Taiwanese ringleaders, police in east China's Fujian Province said Thursday. The arrests came after police stormed the gang's six bases in the city of Xiamen in July, the Public Security Department of Fujian said in a press release. Initial investigations revealed the ring had been involved in more than 400 cases, in which the suspects claimed to be bank or court staff and cheated victims out of money via telephone calls, police said. The ring, described by police as well-organized, allegedly employed staff in Xiamen and trained them in Taiwan. Telecom-based fraud is a growing type of crime in China. In recent years, Chinese police have busted several big telecom fraud gangs involving Taiwanese or foreign nationals. ^ top ^

Party to flesh out reform promises by releasing full version of third plenum communiqué (SCMP)
2013.11.15
Beijing is expected to release the full transcript of a key policy document signed off at the Communist Party's third plenum within a week after the meeting ended. Detailed reforms aimed at sustaining economic growth would be unveiled in the full version of the communiqué, said Zhang Zhuoyuan, who helped draft the document. "China will accelerate the reform of the exchange rate," Zhang said, adding that the full version of the communiqué would also mention the controversial property tax. The vaguely worded communiqué, released on Tuesday night after a four-day meeting of nearly 400 top leaders, failed to impress. Mainland and Hong Kong stock markets slumped the next day. But Zhang, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that while the communiqué "briefly touched" on the reform topics, the full version would be more specific. Guan Qingyou, a vice-director of research at Minsheng Securities, said the full transcript would be released next Tuesday. This week's communiqué was seen as long on goals but short on details. The markets had hoped for the faster deregulation of interest rates and the exchange rate and the opening-up of the capital account. But the 5,000-word document mentioned the word "financial" only once - in a terse sentence that the government would strive to "improve financial markets". Zhang said the "top-level design" of reform would be made public soon. "The party will ensure the reforms are implemented, instead of just paying lip service." Shen Jianguang, an economist at Mizuho Securities, agreed. "Although the communiqué appears to contain few details on financial markets, I don't think this means the pace of the reform will stall," Shen said. Beijing has basically deregulated lending rates and allowed deposit rates to float 10 per cent higher than benchmark figures. The yuan is convertible under the current account - which includes dividends, trade and service-related currency transactions - but not totally under the capital account, which includes foreign direct investment. The yuan exchange rate has been allowed to trade one per cent each side of a daily rate set by the central bank since April last year, widening from 0.5 per cent. Yi Gang, a vice-governor of the central bank, pledged earlier this year that the daily trading band would be further expanded. Guo Tianyong, a professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics and head of its banking research centre, said Beijing would completely liberalise deposit rates in about three years, starting with large amounts in the form of certificates of deposit. A deposit insurance system, protecting investors when banks collapse, would be launched soon and the nation's first privately owned banks under President Xi Jinping's administration would be set up as early as this year, Guo said. "The capital account will be the last financial area to be reformed, as many officials regard it as highly risky. Even though the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone may open up the capital account to some extent, it will hardly be fully opened." ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangzhou announces emergency measures to tackle heavy pollution (SCMP)
2013.11.13
Guangzhou's government has rolled out emergency measures for days when air pollution is high. They include taking nearly a third of government and half of private vehicles off the road and forcing factories to reduce emissions of pollutants. Yang Liu, director of the Guangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau, said yesterday that air pollution would now be formally categorised as an emergency. A 15-department task force would co-ordinate action centrally on days when the city was hit by intense smog. The announcement came two weeks after Beijing set out emergency measures to be taken when levels of PM2.5, the tiny airborne particles considered most harmful to health, are forecast to exceed 300 micrograms per cubic metre for three consecutive days. Air pollution is now a top public concern in several mainland cities, many of them in the north, where energy generation relies heavily upon coal-burning plants. In Guangzhou, the contingency measures will be activated under an orange alert. That will come into force when the air quality index is forecast to reach between 201 and 300 for 48 hours at five of 10 monitoring stations. Authorities will then take 20 per cent of the city's 13,000 government vehicles off the road. Under a red alert, triggered when the index exceeds 300, 30 per cent of government vehicles will be kept off the roads. Private vehicles will be usable only on alternate days based on whether their licence plate ends with an even or an odd number. Guangzhou's air quality index has not passed 300 in the past three years. It reached the level that would now trigger an orange alert on two days in 2011 and three days last year. Unlike Beijing, Guangzhou did not list school class suspension as mandatory on alert days. "Whether to suspend class is a preventive health guideline and we are relying on our education authorities to map out implementation details," Yang said. "All of our measures, including ways of informing citizens, monitoring and implementation, will require going through drills so we can effectively notify people and minimise inconvenience." Under a red alert, factories will be required to cut emissions by 30 per cent. Fireworks and outdoor barbecuing will also be banned, and there will be stronger monitoring of restaurant kitchens and petrol stations. Employers will be encouraged to allow staff to work flexible hours. According to Yang, the measures are in line with what the Beijing, Shanghai and Foshan city governments have unveiled, but Guangzhou has in addition specifically targeted ozone in its emission limits, which has proved a consistent concern in the city. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetan monk sets himself on fire in Qinghai (SCMP)
2013.11.12
A Tibetan monk has set himself on fire in an act of protest in China, reports and campaign groups said on Tuesday, as top Communist Party leaders hold a key gathering. Tsering Gyal, 20, set himself alight on Monday in Guolou, a Tibetan area of Qinghai province in southwestern China, according to the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and Radio Free Asia (RFA), which is funded by the US government. Police extinguished the flames and took Gyal to hospital, they said, adding that his condition was unknown. Another rights group, British-based Free Tibet, said he had survived. An image posted online by ICT showed what appeared to be a man in flames in the middle of a road, with a group of more than a dozen people watching from several metres away. The Guolou incident is the latest in a string of similar acts in Tibet and neighbouring provinces by about 120 people since 2009. Most of them have died. Occasionally, tensions in the region have flared into cases of mass violence. In early October Chinese police reportedly opened fire on a group of protesters in Tibet who had gathered to demand the release of a fellow Tibetan detained for refusing to fly the Chinese flag, injuring 60. Local police denied any incident. Beijing condemns the self-immolations and blames them on the Dalai Lama, saying the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader uses them to further a separatist agenda. But Tibetans and human rights groups say the protests are a response to Beijing's tight controls on their exercise of religion. The Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since 1959 after a failed uprising in Tibet, has described the protests as acts of desperation that he is powerless to stop. “If I created this, then I have the right to say, 'No, don't do,'” the Nobel Peace laureate said when asked about the self-immolations in a recent interview with the Financial Times. “This is their own creation: Tibetan people – inside Tibet,” he added. “The causes of these things are created by hard-line officials. They have the responsibility. They have to find ways to stop this.” ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

China pressures Muslim Uygur lawyer families on burqas, beards (SCMP)
2013-11-13
China's far-flung western region of Xinjiang is demanding that lawyers guarantee family members don't wear burqas or grow long beards, the latest government move critics say unfairly targets the region's Muslim Uygur ethnic community. Lawyers in Turpan, an oasis city southeast of the regional capital, Urumqi, have to sign a pledge denouncing extremism and participation in “illegal religious activities”, the Xinjiang judicial affairs department website said on Tuesday. “Lawyers must commit to guaranteeing that family members and relatives do not wear burqas, veils or participate in illegal religious activities, and that young men do not grow long beards,” the statement said. While many Uygur women dress in much the same casual fashions as other women in China, others have begun to wear full veils, something more common in Pakistan or Afghanistan than traditionally in Xinjiang. As an “important force” for protecting social stability, lawyers must take a leading role in combating extremism, the statement said, adding that 57 lawyers and six law students had signed the pledge so far. The demand comes after a car ploughed through bystanders on the edge of Tiananmen Square in Beijing and burst into flames in late October, killing the three people in the car and two bystanders. China called it a “terrorist attack” carried out by Islamist militants from Xinjiang. More than 40 people were hurt, and the police have detained five people in connection with the attack. But Uygur exiles, rights groups and some experts have cast doubt on the official accounts. Since 2001, China has intensified a sweeping security crackdown in Xinjiang, further repressing Uygur culture, religious tradition and language, rights groups say, despite strong government denials of offering the Uygurs anything but wide-ranging freedoms. The main Uygur exile group, the World Uygur Congress, said it feared those who did not sign the pledge risked losing their licence to practice law or would face investigation. “China's judicial reform forces Uygur lawyers into a choice: safeguard the sanctity of their duty as lawyers and lose their personal freedoms, or violate their professional ethics and support China's suppression of the Uygur people,” the group's spokesman, Dilxat Raxit, said in an emailed statement. ^ top ^

There is no ban on Uygur dress, police deputy says at congress (SCMP)
2013-11-14
Muslim head coverings and long beards are "kind of passé", a deputy police chief from Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture said this week when explaining why authorities discouraged such practices among Uygurs, who make up 40 per cent of the region's population. But Kurex Kanjir, a Uygur who is also a member of the Xinjiang delegation to the Communist Party's 18th national congress, said there was "absolutely no ban" on Uygurs wearing traditional Islamic dress. Some Uygurs and human rights groups have blamed policies enacted by the region's Han-dominated government - which they say suppresses religious freedom - for sparking riots in the autonomous region. Residents of the southern Xinjiang city of Hotan said a policy of discouraging women from wearing traditional black Islamic robes was one of the main triggers for a deadly attack on a police station in July last year that resulted in the deaths of at least 18 people. "We have never said people cannot wear traditional ethnic dress," Kurex Kanjir said on the sidelines of the congress on Sunday. "But we are now in a civilised society and we hope to use modern culture to guide a somehow backward culture. It is something not to be forced, but something to be achieved through guidance." His remarks follow a row triggered last year by a notice issued by a local government in Xinjiang that asked Uygurs, who are mostly Muslim, not to wear Arab dress, grow beards or cover their faces with veils. The controversial notice was issued by the authorities in Yining's Dunmaili district in December in a bid to "dilute religious consciousness", a euphemism for the simmering ethnic tensions in restive southern Xinjiang. Nearly half of the city's population is Uygur. The notice, first posted on the district's official website, was deleted following media reports. A spokeswoman for the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region said at that time that she was not aware of the policy. Government-linked experts said wearing veils, black robes and even growing beards were not part of the religious or cultural traditions of southern Xinjiang and had only become a local phenomenon recently. Pan Zhiping, a specialist in Central Asian affairs at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said the number of Uygurs wearing veils, black robes and sporting long beards had grown following ethnic clashes that swept Kashgar and the regional capital, Urumqi, in 2009, claiming 197 lives and injuring 2,000. But some Uygurs in southern Xinjiang disagreed, saying such forms of dress had a long history in the area and were widely respected. Pan said: "This is a very delicate issue and there is no law telling people what to wear or how to dress in the country. While it is plausible for the authorities to suspect there may have been some hidden forces inside and outside Xinjiang plotting against the government, it is of utmost importance for them to distinguish ordinary people from those potential trouble-makers." Jiang Zhaoyong, a Beijing-based expert on ethnic issues, said the authorities should exercise caution to avoid fanning religious tensions among the Uygurs or being seen as cracking down on them simply because of their ethnicity or religious beliefs. Kurex Kanjir said he was confident that, with Beijing's support, local authorities could maintain peace and security in Kashgar. "I can say it is in the best situation in history and even better than many other major cities," he said, crediting Beijing's massive investment in Xinjiang to boost the region's economy following the 2009 riots. "Only a few people carry out antisocial and anti-human activities … and they are hated by all peoples in Xinjiang. And to be honest, we are fully able to bring them under control." ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

CPC congratulates KMT on plenary congress (Global Times)
2013.11.10
The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Sunday congratulated the Kuomintang (KMT) in Taiwan on its plenary congress, voicing expectation of deepening peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. The KMT on Sunday held its 19th plenary congress, at which Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou delivered a speech as KMT chairman, calling for pushing forward reform and unity in his party. In a statement to the KMT Central Committee and Ma Ying-jeou, the CPC Central Committee said it expected the two parties to stick to the common wish for peaceful cross-Strait development. The two parties should strengthen the one-China consensus, deepen mutual trust, and make new contributions to deepening the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, bolster the well-being of compatriots on both sides and realize the great renewal of the Chinese nation, the statement said. In response, the KMT Central Committee said that the two parties, on the basis of the 1992 Consensus, have made unprecedented progress in promoting exchanges and cooperation in various fields over the past five years. The KMT expects to work with the CPC to boost Chinese culture and revitalize the Chinese nation, in a bid to improve the well-being of people on both sides. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, on Sunday made congratulatory calls to Lien Chan and Wu Poh-hsiung respectively for their reappointment of KMT honorary chairmen. Lien and Wu called back to express their thanks. ^ top ^

Protesters hurl shoes as Taiwan's ruling party meets (SCMP)
2013.11.10
Hundreds of angry protesters threw shoes at riot police Sunday as Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang party held a congress to call for unity as public discontent grows with the government. The demonstrators -- some of them jobless after factory shutdowns and others independence activists and supporters of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party -- vented their anger at President Ma Ying-jeou, who is also the Kuomintang chairman. “Ma Ying-jeou, step down!” the crowd chanted while hurling shoes at riot police behind barricades. A man was detained by police after climbing over barbed wire outside a gymnasium in the central city of Taichung, where the Kuomintang was meeting. Pressure on Ma's administration has mounted after workers lost their jobs following the mass shifting of assembly lines from the island to the Chinese mainland to capitalise on cheap manpower and land prices there. Inside the gymnasium, Ma urged party representatives to unify under the party's banner. Only with the Kuomintang's continued rule could Taiwan “walk on the right path and thus give the people the most benefits”, Ma said. “But your support and unity is needed if we are to reach the goals.” A row sparked by the expulsion from the Kuomintang of parliamentary speaker Wang Jin-pyng -- the second most powerful politician in the party -- had sparked fears the party would split. Ma had accused Wang of influence-peddling and said he was unfit to head the legislature, but was overruled by a court ruling which allowed him to keep his post. The party decided not to appeal the ruling, in the interests of unity. Wang was present at Sunday's congress. Ma swept to victory in presidential polls in 2008 on a platform of strengthening trade and tourism links with former rival China. He was re-elected for a second and final four-year term in January last year. However, his approval ratings took a severe hit later that year after a bribery scandal implicating top cabinet official Lin Yi-shih, one of his key confidants. ^ top ^

Ma Ying-jeou pledges against 'Taiwan independence' (Global Times)
2013.11.11
Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou on Monday said that he will not promote "Two Chinas," "one China, one Taiwan" or "Taiwan independence," inside or outside the island. Ma, also chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) party, made the comments during a speech at a KMT meeting. He said the relationship between Taiwan and the mainland is not a state-to-state one but a special relationship in many aspects. In his speech, Ma reviewed the KMT's efforts over the last five years since the party returned to power. He described them as "beneficial and tangible for the public in Taiwan." Measures had "greatly enhanced cross-Strait ties and created peace and prosperity." Thanks to such measures, cross-Strait relations are now in the most peaceful and stable condition than what they have been in the past 64 years, Ma said. He also called for support to get the cross-Strait service trade agreement approved at the island's legislative authority at the earliest date, saying that this will help Taiwan "move on and remain competitive in the global market." ^ top ^

 

Economy

SOE reforms to be launched after plenum (China Daily)
2013.11.11
Major steps to reform State-owned enterprises will be taken after the four-day Third Plenum of the Communist Party of China's 18th Central Committee, which started on Saturday, said Huang Shuhe, vice-chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission. To pave the way for changes, commission officials said private companies and investors are welcome to acquire larger shares in SOEs so they can have a bigger say in decision-making. There are 112 large State-owned corporations under the direct supervision of the commission. "Private investors can set up private equities to take over 10 to 15 percent of an SOE's equity," said Bai Yingzi, director of the commission's enterprise reform division. The restructuring and upgrading of State-owned enterprises is at a crucial stage, and Huang said further ownership diversification is "a high priority" that will benefit sustainable development of the Chinese economy. Specific plans on SOE reforms are expected to be drafted after the third plenum. Bai admitted that while SOEs may be too big for most privately held enterprises to invest in, private companies can band together to buy into them or take on specific projects. The total assets of central SOEs were worth 44.8 trillion yuan ($7.35 trillion) at the end of 2012. In early 2013, China National Petroleum Corp, the largest SOE, owned assets worth about 2.2 trillion yuan. In comparison, China's largest private industrial conglomerate Fosun Group had total assets worth only 150 billion yuan. Despite the gap in assets, SOEs and private companies will have serious problems if they don't have diversified ownership, said Song Zhiping, president of China National Building Material Corp. As the top manager of a Fortune Global 500 company, Song suggests that after purchasing another company, the building materials company should leave 30 percent of the equity to private investors. At present, the company operates net assets of 60 billion yuan, of which 20 billion yuan are owned by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission and 40 billion by small shareholders. According to the commission, private investment in SOEs is carried out mostly through deals with SOE subsidiaries or State-owned enterprises at the provincial level. However, in a rare exception, Fosun established a joint venture with China National Medicine Corp in 2003 with registered capital of 1.027 billion yuan, the biggest deal yet between private and State-owned companies. With its 500 million yuan investment, Fosun owns 49 percent of the venture, and the State-run CNM owns 51 percent. Bai said that this is a pilot deal for injecting private capital into State-owned assets. Diversified ownership is the direction for SOE reform. "All kinds of companies could join SOE restructuring," said Bai. During the World Economic Forum in September, Premier Li Keqiang said that the government will ease market access to financial institutions of various ownerships to develop their business, including both private and foreign companies. China's five biggest banks accounted for 35 percent of the profits by the country's 500 biggest companies last year, data from the Chinese Enterprise Confederation show. Singaporean investment company Temasek Holdings has been optimistic about China's banking sector. Its investment in China Construction Bank accounted for 8 percent of the Singapore State investor's portfolio. Temasek holds stakes of almost $18 billion in China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China, making it the biggest foreign investor in Chinese banks. Privately held companies are showing increasing interest in tapping into the financial sector. Retail giant Suning Commerce Group and Gree Electric Appliances were reported to have applied for banking licenses in September, just one month after the State Council said it would launch pilot programs for banks by private investors. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping shows muscle by setting up panels on economic reform, security (SCMP)
2013-11-14
The creation of two new panels to oversee economic reform and national security provides perhaps the strongest sign yet that President Xi Jinping has successfully consolidated power across the government after a year in office. The establishment of a central "leading team" on reform and a security co-ordinating committee required more political strength than Xi's predecessor Hu Jintao brought to bear a decade ago, analysts said. Even Jiang Zemin, who reportedly remains a powerful force behind the scenes, failed to set up a similar security committee in the late 1990s. The security committee will provide Xi with a new platform to wield influence over the diplomatic, intelligence, military and law enforcement agencies at a time of mounting security concerns at home and abroad. Many observers expect the president to chair the team. The role will give Xi more control over domestic security, re-elevating a position that appeared to have been downgraded with ex-security tsar Zhou Yongkang's retirement after the party reshuffle last year. "The power of the security chief in managing the nation's police force and judiciary is now passed to Xi," said Gu Su, a political science professor at Nanjing University. The forming of the committee also showed Xi's ability to navigate vested interests in the security sector, which had stymied such a body for decades. Calls for a security committee last peaked in 1997, with Jiang's visit to the US National Security Council. Gu said rising unrest and the fallout from the corruption case against former Politburo member Bo Xilai had raised concerns about factional divisions within the party and prompted Xi to establish a stronger power base. Setting up the security committee showed Xi had convinced other party elites of the need for such a team, he said. Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political commentator, said the committee was intended to rebalance power between vested interest groups, allowing Xi to work in a more "top-down authoritarian style". Aside from Xi, the security committee would include security chief Meng Jianzhu, long-time policy adviser Wang Huning and State Council deputy secretary general Wang Yongqing, Chen Li, the deputy publicity director for the Communist Party's Central Politics and Law Commission, wrote on weibo yesterday. The message was later removed. Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said such a committee was needed because of mounting security risks, including territorial disputes, cyberattacks and ethnic unrest. Xi was also expected to play a big role in the central leading team on "comprehensively deepen reforms", even though it was expected to be headed by Premier Li Keqiang. It will focus on overhauling the government and its relations with the market. ^ top ^

China stocks fall after party issues vague communiqué following plenum (SCMP)
2013-11-14
Chinese stocks yesterday saw their steepest decline in nearly two months after a key Communist Party meeting failed to deliver bold and detailed reform plans to sustain the growth of the world's second-largest economy. The Shanghai Composite Index slumped 1.8 per cent to 2,087.94 at the close, its biggest decline since September 26. The Hang Seng Index finished fell 1.9 per cent to 22,463.8 points, while the China Enterprises Index of Hong Kong-traded Chinese shares slid 2.7 per cent - their largest daily loss since August 20. The vaguely worded communiqué released on Tuesday after a four-day plenum of party leaders apparently failed to impress investors, businessmen or observers, even though it mandated a "decisive role" for the market. While few expected many details from the plenum's closing message, observers said they had expected the leadership to have the resolve to announce major policy moves that would put the Chinese economy on a healthier track. Hopes were running high in the lead-up to the plenum, with Politburo Standing Committee member Yu Zhensheng having pledged "unprecedented" reform policies, in terms of both scale and scope. "Public expectation for the third plenum had been extraordinarily high," said Tao Jingzhou, managing partner at law firm Dechert China. Tao welcomed some plans in the communiqué, such as expanding the development of free- trade zones, but said they did not go far enough. "It wouldn't make much sense simply to build more free trade zones," he said. "The key is to reduce barriers for investors to enter the market." While the communiqué contained broad-brush ideas, it was seen as lacking specifics. Bocom International chief China strategist Hong Hao said: "We could almost hear the sound of discontent when the curtain of the plenum was finally drawn. The communiqué from the plenum contains little details for reform, but compensates with its lofty ideals." Despite the party's promise to give greater room to the private sector, Guo Yang, the president's secretary at Baotao Petrochemical, said he did not expect the government to open up the energy sector thoroughly to private investors like his company due to national security concerns. "We need to see more details as to what extent the government will relax controls." By emphasising the need to let the market decide prices, the document indicated that controls on the financial sector would be eased. The establishment of a top-level team on "comprehensively deepening reform" was a strong indication of the leadership's determination to press ahead with economic restructuring, said Li Zuojun, a senior researcher at the State Council's Development Research Centre. Li said the reforms would come gradually. The platitudes the communiqué offered on political reform received a tepid response from liberals and conservatives. Sima Nan, a prominent leftist scholar, wrote on his blog that he was "relieved" when "Mao Zedong thought" was listed as one of the ideological guides to reform. But he expressed dissatisfaction that a reference to "common prosperity" was "hidden in a bunch of words". Chen Ziming, a political commentator, said the communique reflected Xi's fundamental attitude towards political ideology. "It might not be tightening further, but it will never be loosened up," Chen said. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

S.Korean point man to visit China to discuss DPRK nuclear issue (Xinhua)
2013.11.12
A South Korean point man representing the country at the six-party talks planned to visit China for two days from Wednesday to discuss the Democratic People' s Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear program, Seoul's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. Cho Tae-yong will leave for Beijing on Wednesday to negotiate with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei about the DPRK's nuclear program and other related issues, a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman told a routine press briefing. The spokesman noted that both Cho and Wu recently visited the United States to talk about the DPRK nuke issue, saying that those were part of efforts by the two nations to make substantive headway on the issue. The Chinese special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs traveled to Pyongyang last week to have in-depth discussions with the DPRK officials on resuming the long-stalled multilateral talks aimed at dismantling the DPRK's nuclear program. The string of recent negotiations is important as more contacts and dialogue between relevant parties of the six-nation talks may play a constructive role in easing the situation on the Korean Peninsula. The disarmament negotiations, which involve the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan and Russia, were last held in December 2008. The DPRK walked out of the aid-for-denuclearization talks in April 2009 in protest against fresh UN sanctions, but if recently expressed its wish to return to the negotiating table. Pyongyang said that its nuclear deterrent cannot be a bargaining chip, while Seoul and Washington claimed the DPRK should first show its sincerity by complying with past promises such as the 2005 Joint Statement to restart the six-party talks. South Korea and the DPRK declared in 1991 to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, and it was reconfirmed in the 2005 Joint Statement unveiled after the six-way dialogue. ^ top ^

U.S. envoy for DPRK to visit China, South Korea, Japan (Xinhua)
2013.11.15
The United States is sending back its envoy for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for a visit to China, South Korea and Japan, as the DPRK, Russia and China are calling for a resumption without preconditions of the six-party talks over the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative for the DPRK, will continue discussions with the three nations over policy coordination on Pyongyang during his strip on Nov. 19-25, State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said at a regular press briefing. She ruled out resumed talks for now involving the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States, a mechanism known as the six-party talks that has been stalled since December 2008. Davies and his counterparts from Japan and South Korea, after trilateral talks in Washington last week, agreed not to restart the talks until the DPRK shows its commitment to giving up its nuclear program. "The ball is in North Korea's court," Psaki said. "There are steps they need to take to abide by their international obligations, including the 2005 joint statement. Those are not steps they've taken, but obviously we continue to coordinate with partners in the region." Russian President Vladimir Putin joined China and the DPRK in urging unconditional resumption of the six-party talks, days before he flew to South Korea on Wednesday for a visit. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Oyu Tolgoi board members ignore meeting requests (News.mn)
2013.11.13
MP S.Ganbaatar invited the Oyu Tolgoi LLC board members, who are involved in the massive Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement, for a meeting on Friday November 8th 2013. However the Oyu Tolgoi LLC board members who represent the Mongolian Government failed to attend the meeting that was scheduled to be held at Government House. The only person who accepted the invitation and arrived at the meeting was former CEO of Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC, Ts.Sedvaanchig. MP S.Ganbaatar, who is supposed to get a document on the Oyu Tolgoi project, invited 13 officials including S.Bayar, S.Bayartsogt, D.Zorigt and L.Gansukh who signed the Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement. The current board members representing the Mongolian Government D.Ganbold, G.Temuulen, Ch.Otgochuluu as well as former board members Ch.Ganbold, P.Tsagaan, N.Bagabandi, D.Batbaatar and Ts.Sedvaanchig were also invited to the meeting on Oyu Tolgoi project. Of these, 10 of them sent their apologies and excuses as to why they could not attend but three; S.Bayar, S,Bayartsogt and N.Bagabandi, failed to reply to the invitation said MP S.Ganbaatar. But MP S.Ganbaatar says he will not give up on trying hold the meeting with officials related to the massive Oyu Tolgoi issues. ^ top ^

Ts.Elbegdorj: Mongolia will never bury nuclear waste (News.mn)
2013.11.13
On Wednesday November 13th President Ts.Elbegdorj expressed Mongolia`s strong stance on nuclear via twitter due he spread of suspicion about nuclear waste disposal in Mongolia among the public. Young members of MPRP held a press conference protesting against yellow powder and nuclear waste in Mongolia. President Elbegdorj posted on Twitter that: “Mongolia still stands on its nuclear-free status. I assure you again the rumor about nuclear waste burial in Mongolia is not the policy of Mongolia.” The Government of Mongolia issued a statement regarding the nuclear waste issue on Tuesday November 12th: “Some political parties and public organizations released a note claiming Mongolia is allowing the burial of nuclear waste from Japan in Mongolia. The note claimed that the Prime Minister signed a nuclear waste agreement during his visit to Japan and the Foreign Minister signed a uranium deal with France. Mongolia has declared its policy on nuclear energy and uranium exploration. The reform Government takes this responsibility seriously announcing that Mongolia has neither buried nuclear waste nor will bury nuclear waste in the future. ^ 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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