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
  3-9.5.14, No. 523  
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Table of contents

Mongolia

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Bilateral Issues

Analysts laud end of Swiss banks privacy (Global Times)
2014-05-08
Analysts in China lauded Switzerland's pledge to share the details of foreign bank accounts and believed it would gravely help the country's already tough anti-corruption drive. Switzerland agreed to sign a new global standard on automatic information exchange in tax matters on Tuesday at a ministerial meeting in Paris. Under the pledge signed by 47 countries, including China, financial information will be shared on an annual basis between governments, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The shared information will include bank balances, dividends, interest income and sales proceeds used to calculate capital gains tax. "It means that governments can really assess the tax owed by people who thought they could hide in other jurisdictions," Pascal Saint-Amans, tax director at the OECD, told Reuters. While making a significant breakthrough in the global crackdown on tax evasion, this move is also believed to be a sword to fight corruption by strengthening international cooperation. Swiss banks' centuries-old commitment to protecting the privacy of clients has been seen as a perfect shelter for corrupt officials who tried to hide their fortunes, said Ni Xing, a professor with the Center for Anti-Corruption Studies of Sun Yat-sen University. Switzerland is the world's biggest offshore financial center with $2.2 trillion of offshore assets, Financial Times reported on Tuesday. Several reports have estimated that assets transferred overseas by corrupt Chinese officials have exceeded $50 billion, but no official figures have ever been published. "Assets recovery is a major obstacle in the anti-corruption drive," Ni said. Some 150 developing countries, led by China, have been the source of flows of tainted money totaling $5.9 trillion for over 10 years up to 2010, according to a 2012 report by the Global Financial Integrity, a research and advocacy group in Washington DC. Switzerland's banking secrecy has posed difficulties in evidence collection when dealing with these cases and the breakthrough will bring international cooperation to a new level, experts believed. Ni believed this move can not only help recover embezzled money transferred overseas, but also pose as a deterrent to officials with such intention. Although the signatories did not officially commit to a specific deadline, a group of early adopters is aiming to have exchange of information up and running by 2017 using tax data collected from the end of 2015, Reuters reported. The OECD will deliver a detailed commentary on the new standard, as well as technical solutions to implement the actual information exchanges, during a meeting of G20 finance ministers in September, the organization said on its website. G20 governments have mandated the OECD-hosted Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes to monitor and review implementation of the standard, it added. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China says "deeply concerned" over Ukraine's violence escalation (Xinhua)
2014-05-03
China on Saturday said it is "deeply concerned" by the escalating Ukraine crisis with violence and clashes causing numerous casualties in east and south Ukraine. "We call on all parties in Ukraine to stay calm and exercise restraint," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. Qin's remarks came after the clashes in the Black Sea resort of Odessa killed at least 43 people and injured 174 others on Friday. Earlier that day, two Ukrainian military helicopters were shot down when government troops tried to retake the eastern city of Slavyansk held by pro-Russian protesters, causing casualties on both sides. Qin urged the concerned parties to back the Geneva agreements reached by Russia, the United States, the European Union and Ukraine on April 17, which called for an immediate halt of violence in Ukraine and practical steps to de-escalate the tension. "We hope that all sides can give up the use of force or violence that could deteriorate the situation, and start political dialogue and reconciliation process as soon as possible, in a bid to ease the situation," Qin said. ^ top ^

Whoever started trouble should end it, China tells Japan (China Daily)
2014-05-05
China on Monday continued to call on Japanese leaders to reflect on history to mend bilateral ties while welcoming a visiting delegation to China. "China has always welcomed people from all walks of life in Japan, including both the ruling and opposition parties, to make positive moves to improve China-Japan relations," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing. Her comment came as a group of senior lawmakers from Tokyo visited Beijing. Masahiko Komura, head of the delegation and vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was scheduled to meet with China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang on Monday afternoon. The current difficulties in bilateral ties are caused by Japanese leaders, whose wrong actions shook the political foundation of bilateral ties, Hua said. "Such actions pose severe political obstacles for high-level exchanges between the two countries," Hua said. "Whoever started the trouble should end it," she said, urging Japan to honor its commitments in the four China-Japan political documents and take real actions to get the bilateral relationship back on track. A couple of delegations have visited China since last month. Governor of Tokyo Prefecture Yoichi Masuzoe visited Beijing from April 24 to 26 and met with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang. Earlier, a delegation from the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade visited China and also met with Wang. Wang called on Japan's business community to make efforts to overcome the obstacles in bilateral ties. China and Japan have seen few high-level political contacts since the Japanese government's "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands in September 2012, a move that contributed to the disintegration of bilateral relations. Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine, which honors WWII war criminals, erected another political obstacle to the strained relations. ^ top ^

China offers aid after Afghanistan landslide (Xinhua)
2014-05-06
The Chinese government will provide support and help for Afghanistan in its relief efforts after a deadly landslide hit the country, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said here on Monday. Hua told a regular press briefing that the Red Cross Society of China had already provided Afghanistan's Red Crescent Society with emergency humanitarian aid. "The Chinese government will provide support and assistance for the disaster relief according to the need of the Afghan side," Hua said. More than 2,500 people are feared to have lost their lives in the landslide in a remote village in northern Afghanistan Friday. Days of heavy rain in the mountainous Badakhshan province caused the landslide. Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message of sympathy to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, expressing condolences and sympathy to those affected by the disaster. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also sent a message of sympathy. The search for survivors is still underway, with rescuers scrambling to get aid into the village through flooded and destroyed roads, about 315 kilometers northeast of Kabul. ^ top ^

China blasts Abe's refusal to apologize (China Daily)
2014-05-06
China on Tuesday criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his recent refusal to apologize to Japan's neighbors for wartime atrocities. "Abe's words revealed the Japanese leader's wrong conception of history and lack of sincerity in facing up to that history," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, in response to a question about Abe's comments in Europe that Tokyo cannot follow in the footsteps of Germany in addressing its wartime atrocities. "There is always a political force in Japan that attempts to deny or even glorify its wartime aggression and colonial rule, and deny the verdict of the Far East International Military Tribune," she said. Abe has visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors WWII war criminals, and Japan has intensified tension with its neighbors on territorial disputes, said the spokeswoman. "Japan's wrong words and deeds are a major obstacle for reconciliation and cooperation between Japan and countries in the region," she said. Hua urged the Japanese government and leader to draw a line between themselves and militarism. "This is the political foundation for Japan to rebuild and develop ties with its neighbors, the principle and spirit of the normalization of China-Japan ties, and the four political documents between the countries." "We call on Japan to correct its mistakes with concrete actions and win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community," she said, adding this is the sole correct path for the country. ^ top ^

Li pledges larger credit line, high-speed rail technology to Africa (SCMP)
2014-05-07
Premier Li Keqiang unveiled extra aid for Africa totalling at least US$12 billion on Monday, and offered to share advanced technology with the continent to help with high-speed rail development, state media reported.Li pledged the additional funding in a speech at the Organisation of African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. China will increase credit lines to Africa by US$10 billion and will boost the China-Africa Development Fund by US$2 billion, bringing the latter to a total of US$5 billion, Li said, according to Xinhua. He provided no details of the time frame. Li "depicted a dream that all African capitals are connected with high-speed rail, so as to boost pan-African communication and development", the report said. Li said China was ready to work with Africa "to make this dream come true". China would also offer US$100 million in aid for wildlife protection, Li added, for a part of the world where the Chinese appetite for ivory and rhino horns have driven some species to the brink of extinction. It is Li's first visit to Africa as premier, and follows a trip to the continent by President Xi Jinping in March last year, when he renewed an offer of US$20 billion in loans to Africa between 2013 and 2015. Li said that the new US$10 billion credit line would be on top of the existing US$20 billion offered, the China News Service reported. Meanwhile, ahead of Li's arrival to Nigeria, the second leg of his African trip, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, a subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), signed a framework contract with a provisional value of US$13.12 billion with the Nigerian Transport Ministry for a 1,385-kilometre coastal railway, according to a CRCC announcement filed at the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges. Chinese officials said last week that Li's trip, which also takes in oil-rich Nigeria and Angola, would not simply be for energy deals and Beijing would be seeking to help boost African living standards. Li said he hoped that some of the loans being offered would be used to support small and medium-seized companies in Africa, adding that African economic development offered huge opportunities for both sides. "History and reality make clear to all: China's development gives opportunity to Africa; Africa develops and China also benefits," he said. Trips by Chinese leaders to Africa are often marked by big natural resource deals, triggering criticism from some quarters that China is only interested in the continent's resource wealth. ^ top ^

Philippines police capture Chinese fishing boat in South China Sea (SCMP)
2014-05-07
Philippines police seized a Chinese boat near 'Half Moon Shoal' in the South China Sea on Wednesday after it was found to have hauled in 500 turtles. Philippine police confirmed the capture and said the vessel was being towed to southwestern Palawan province. China's official Xinhua news agency earlier reported contact had been lost with 11 fishermen in the South China Sea after they were intercepted by “armed men”. The fishermen were on board the boat Qiongqionghai 09063, which was “intercepted by an unidentified armed vessel at about 10am in waters off” the Spratly Islands, Xinhua said, citing a fishing association in Qionghai on China's southern island province of Hainan. Reporters were not immediately able to reach officials in Hainan for comment. It was also not clear from the report if the fishermen were Chinese nationals. China claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Sea, rejecting rival claims to parts or all of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. There are frequent tensions in the South China Sea between China and the other claimant nations, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines, both of which say Beijing has harassed their ships in the waters there. On Tuesday, China warned Vietnam not to disturb activities of Chinese companies operating near disputed islands in the South China Sea, after Hanoi condemned as illegal the movement of a giant Chinese oil rig into what it says is its territorial water." ^ top ^

Chinese police to patrol in Paris to help tourists (China Daily)
2014-05-08
Chinese police officers are expected to assist their counterparts in France on patrols following recent attacks targeting Chinese tourists in Paris, according to the Ministry of Public Security. "We are in discussions with the French Interior Ministry and will release more details about the arrangement later," said a senior officer from the ministry's international cooperation bureau, who did not want to be named. It would be the first time that Chinese police have appeared on streets abroad to help local officers combat crimes targeting Chinese tourists, he said. The unprecedented deployment, mostly in Paris, would include eight to 10 Chinese officers who are proficient in French. They will conduct joint patrols with their French counterparts and help to communicate with Chinese tourists who need assistance, he said. Teams of two or three Chinese and French officers will also be used to step up patrols at tourist attractions including the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine, the officer said. "Once we receive reports or complaints about Chinese tourists being harmed, including theft and robbery, we will rush to the scene and assist French police in dealing with them. That includes helping with communication such as translation," he said. Details on the length of deployment and what the Chinese officers will wear have still to be finalized, but they will not be armed and will have no law enforcement powers in France, the officer added. The French Interior Ministry declined to comment on the deployment of Chinese officers when contacted by China Daily on Wednesday. But according to an earlier report by The European Times, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told the media, "In order to welcome lots of Chinese tourists, apart from enhancing patrols at scenic spots and on public transportation, French police will conduct joint patrols with their Chinese partners starting this summer. "The main duties for Chinese police include being on duty at tourist attractions in Paris, providing interpretation services for Chinese tourists, or helping them to communicate with Paris police," Cazeneuve was reported as saying. Wu Xiaojun, a press officer at the Chinese embassy in Paris, said negotiations between the two countries on the arrangement were at an advanced stage. In March last year, 23 Chinese tourists were robbed after dinner in downtown Paris, Xinhua News Agency reported. The group's leader suffered facial injuries and the tourists had their passports, air tickets and cash stolen. France is one of the most popular overseas destinations for a growing number of Chinese visitors. About 100 million Chinese tourists traveled abroad from 2010 to 2013, double the number for the previous three years, figures from the International Travel Association show. Last year, 1.5 million Chinese tourists visited France and spent $798 million there, according to the association. Early this year, after the French authorities offered services in Beijing to help Chinese visitors apply for French visas, the number of tourists bound for France increased by 40 percent, Beijing Youth Daily reported. Dai Peng, a professor at People's Public Security University of China, said Chinese tourists usually carry a lot of cash to buy luxury goods and do not pay much attention to safeguarding their personal property, which can make them easy targets for theft and robbery. "The introduction of the joint patrols can effectively crack down on crimes targeting Chinese tourists," Dai said. Chen Jidong, a 36-year-old from Beijing traveling in Paris, said, "The presence of Chinese police officers in Paris will not only make us feel safer but also make France a more attractive destination." ^ top ^

China, Russia vow to increase two-way investment (Xinhua)
2014-05-08
China is ready to join with Russia to increase two-way investment, Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said Thursday. Zhang made the remark as he met with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov in the Great Hall of the People. Their talks were focused on bilateral investment and practical cooperation in the financial area, in preparation for the forthcoming meeting between the two heads of state. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet when Putin attends the Fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), on May 20 and 21 in Shanghai. Zhang said bilateral cooperation in the areas of investment and finance has made major progress. China has increased investment in Russia and become the country's fourth largest source of foreign direct investment. He said financial cooperation between China and Russia is growing as local currency settlement in two-way trade increases and consultations on a package of currency swaps are on-going. Zhang expressed the hope that the two sides increase mutual investment via the China-Russia investment fund and carry out the first batch of investment projects as planned. He said the two sides should increase investment in the forms of greenfield investment, equity investment, bond issuance and mergers and acquisitions. Zhang asked the Russian side to help Chinese enterprises to invest in special economic zones in the Far East region of Russia. Zhang expressed the wish that the two sides will step up exchanges and actively explore proper forms of cooperation in a bid to expand financial cooperation and promote common prosperity. Shuvalov said Putin's China visit will be of great significance for maintaining high-level of bilateral relations. He said Russia is ready to work with China to lift bilateral trade, investment and financial cooperation to new levels. ^ top ^

China, Nigeria to deepen pragmatic cooperation: joint statement (Global Times)
2014-05-08
China and Nigeria have agreed to deepen their pragmatic cooperation in key fields so as to strengthen their strategic partnership, according to a joint statement released in Abuja Thursday. The statement was issued during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's official visit to Nigeria, where he signed a number of cooperation deals with the West African country. According to the statement, the two sides would encourage their companies to expand cooperation in infrastructure, in particular railways, power plants and airports. Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to promoting bilateral trade and addressing the trade imbalance. In addition, they agreed the economic cooperation zones established by Chinese enterprises in Nigeria had achieved progress, it said. The Chinese side would continue to encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in various fields of the Nigerian economy, while the Nigerian side would fulfil its commitment to provide preferential treatment and to offer supporting facilities to the economic cooperation zones, it said. On financial cooperation, the two sides reaffirmed support for financial institutions in the two countries to cooperate in re-lending to small-and-medium-sized enterprises in Nigeria, it said. Both sides agreed the central banks of the two countries would promote local currency settlement to facilitate bilateral trade and investment, it said. On agriculture, the two sides agreed to expand cooperation so as to help Nigeria reduce poverty and enhance food security. On space and aviation cooperation, both sides commended the positive role of their communication satellite project in promoting the development of Nigeria, and expressed willingness to enhance cooperation in satellite technology. The two sides considered the signing of a bilateral air services agreement as an opportunity to further deepen cooperation in the field of aviation, the statement said. Nigeria is the second leg of Li's four-nation Africa tour, which will also take him to Angola and Kenya. Before Nigeria, Li paid a visit to Ethiopia, where he also visited the African Union headquarters and delivered a speech there on China's Africa policy. ^ top ^

China: Stop oil rig harassment (China Daily)
2014-05-09
Beijing demanded on Thursday that Hanoi cease its harassing actions against a Chinese oil rig in waters off an island in the South China Sea and called for dialogue to end the conflict. Since May 2, Vietnam has carried out intensive disruptions of a Chinese company's normal oil drilling in waters administered by China. China is deeply surprised and shocked, said Yi Xianliang, deputy director-general of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, on Thursday. Yi said the Xisha Islands are inherent territory of China and there are no disputes in this area. The oil rig operation is undertaken by China Oilfield Services Ltd, and it is a normal drilling activity in the coastal waters off the Xisha Islands of China. The oil rig operation, which is only 31 km from Zhongjian Island, is completely within waters off China's Xisha Islands, and the operation completely falls within the area of China's sovereignty and jurisdiction. From Saturday to Wednesday, Vietnam dispatched 36 vessels of various kinds that rammed Chinese vessels as many as 171 times. The Chinese vessels are only government and civilian vessels. But the Vietnamese have many armed vessels deployed to the scene. At one point, the Chinese side found Vietnamese frogmen 5 meters away from the Chinese government vessels. Yi said Vietnam's disruptions of the Chinese company's normal activities have seriously violated China's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, gravely affected the order of the oil rig's work and the rig's safety, and in addition caused unnecessary troubles for China-Vietnam ties. He added that China had to take more security measures in response to Vietnam's disruptions, so as to ensure the order of maritime operation and the safety of navigation. The conflict remains unresolved just days ahead of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit. Chinese analysts said the dispute could add fuel to tensions between the two nations. Beijing said lines of communication between Beijing and Hanoi "are working well" and they have had contact many times over the past five days. Li Yong, CEO of China Oilfield Services, which is contracted to drill on the rig, said that a vessel ramming the oil rig "could have disastrous consequences". Dong Manyuan, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said countries such as Vietnam have "stirred up... an incident that has upset neighboring nations". "All of the other countries are watching this situation closely," Dong said. Su Hao, a professor of Asia-Pacific studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said Vietnam "has misjudged the ongoing rig drilling, treated it with huge hostility and taken irrational measures". "Hanoi should change its way of thinking into a cooperative and win-win perspective to better implement what the two countries have agreed on," he added. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

President Xi urges sound values for Chinese youth (Xinhua)
2014-05-05
Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the country's young people to study diligently, improve moral character, and hone their perspectives and honesty. Xi made the remarks while visiting the prestigious Peking University on Sunday, China's Youth Day. Xi extended greetings to Chinese young people of all ethnic groups on behalf of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and stressed that they must follow the core socialist values and promote them throughout society. Sunday marked the anniversary of the May 4th Movement, a patriotic campaign that began at the university and was launched in 1919 by young Chinese students and intellectuals to fight imperialism and feudalism. It is regarded as a mark of the beginning of the new-democratic revolution in China. "Pushing forward reform and development and realizing modernization requires the guidance of philosophy, the inspiration of history and the force of literature. Research in these fields should focus on people's spiritual worlds and social realities," Xi told students and staff on the campus. According to Xi, contemporary academic research should shoulder the social responsibility to help people better understand themselves and the world while strengthening confidence and direction toward progress. ^ top ^

China tightens disciplinary checks during holiday (Xinhua)
2014-05-05
China's anti-graft organ said Monday it strengthened disciplinary inspection during the just-concluded three-day Labor Day holiday. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and the Ministry of Supervision issued a statement on its website, saying that it warned against any violations before the holiday and strengthened checks during the holiday. The country's anti-graft organ has worked to combat corruption and the undesirable work styles of formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance. It strengthened checks during holidays to restrain extravagant dinners and banquets, travels at public expense, and gifts, all of which may be abused through corrupt practices. The CCDI said before the holiday that it launched a website for tip-offs on violations during holidays, and so far over 700 cases of regulation violations were made public. The anti-graft organ also issued a notice saying that it would strengthen inspections during the holidays. Local anti-graft organs in Beijing, Shanxi, Shandong, Sichuan and other regions also issued notices before the holiday warning against any violations during holidays. During the holiday, local anti-graft organs dispatched staff to inspect at scenic spots and dining places. In Tianjin, staff of the local anti-graft organ went to a scenic spot and found suspected misuse of government vehicles. In Chongqing, a driver of a government vehicle was punished for using the car for private purposes. In coordination with police, business, taxation and other departments, anti-graft staff in Liaoning Province investigated the sales records of restaurants and found evidence of suspected consumption at the public's expense. ^ top ^

Nationwide campaign to promote smoking ban in public spaces in China (SCMP)
2014-05-06
A month-long publicity campaign is to be launched in China from Monday to promote a nationwide ban on smoking in public places. A spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission Mao Qunan told a launch ceremony in Beijing the campaign was aimed at raising public awareness of the health risks of tobacco use, Xinhua reported. China has pledged to ban smoking in public areas – such as restaurants, hotels, bars, cinemas and on public transport – under the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The country ratified the pact in 2005, but has failed to enforce all its anti-smoking measures. “China still faces an uphill battle to honour its commitment on smoking control. The popularity of tobacco use is partly due to the lack of understanding of smoking-induced diseases and the harm of being exposed to secondary smoke,” Mao said. Health authorities said in January they aimed to roll out a nationwide smoking ban in public places by the end of this year. The central government issued an order in December telling Communist Party officials to “lead by example” and to stop smoking in areas such as government offices, schools, hospitals and sports and cultural venues. China is the world's largest cigarette manufacturer and consumer, with more than 300 million smokers, according to national statistics. About 740 million people, including 180 million children, are affected by passive smoking. Medical experts have blamed smoking as a main contributor to the country's surging lung cancer rates. A study released by the Peking Union Medical College Hospital, a leading Chinese medical institution, found the death rate from lung cancer had risen 465 per cent over the past three decades. National legislation enacting a ban on smoking in public places is viewed by the authorities as the most effective way for the government to fulfil its commitments, but so far action has been limited to several cities. ^ top ^

Police detain at least four participants in Tiananmen event (SCMP)
2014-05-07
At least four prominent participants at a low-key event commemorating the 25th anniversary of the crackdown on the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement have been placed under criminal detention, their lawyers and families said yesterday. Liberal scholar Xu Youyu and cyberactivist Liu Di were both placed in criminal detention yesterday after attending a seminar involving 15 people at a private home in Beijing on Saturday, their lawyer, Shang Baojun said last night. Police took Xu away on Monday and questioned Liu on Sunday. Shang said they were likely to be accused of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble". Human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who took part in the Tiananmen protests as a student in 1989, was criminally detained yesterday at the Beijing Number One Detention Centre for "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", his friend and fellow lawyer, Si Weijiang, said. Dissident writer and Christian house church leader Hu Shigen was also placed under criminal detention on the same charge yesterday, his brother said. The website of rights group Chinese Rights Defenders reported that scholar Hao Jian had also been criminally detained, but this could not be independently verified. Under mainland law, police can hold people for up to 30 days in criminal detention before deciding whether to pass the case to prosecutors. The whereabouts of former lecturer Liang Xiaoyan remained unknown, rights activist Hu Jia said. Other participants were also questioned by police but not detained, including Qin Hui, a historian at Tsinghua University, and another scholar, Guo Yuhua, Qin said. He said he told police that whatever one's view on the Tiananmen crackdown, it was not the uprising authorities had labelled it 25 years ago. "One thing that is certain is that it was not an uprising; even the authorities don't say that now. Things should be changed. You can't handle it like this," Qin said. According to a statement released after the event, the participants - scholars, activists and relatives of the victims killed in the Tiananmen crackdown - called for an official investigation into the suppression of the pro-democracy movement and urged the authorities to compensate victims. Beijing police yesterday did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Hu Jia said the authorities were likely to be furious about the commemoration having taken place without their knowledge, and so resorted to heavy-handed retaliation. "And these [detainees] are influential people in society so this would create an atmosphere of fear," said Hu, who has called on people to wear black to mark the June 4 anniversary. The authorities suppress commemorations of the Tiananmen crackdown every year in the run-up to its anniversary, detaining activists or placing them under house arrest. ^ top ^

China is 'ill-prepared' to combat terror attacks, experts warn (SCMP)
2014-05-07
China's anti-terrorism efforts face "grave" challenges due to problems ranging from poor intelligence gathering to local government capabilities to deal with such emergencies, a government think tank warns. The just released 2013 edition of the China National Security Studies annual report wrapped up current threats facing the nation, with articles by scholars from various institutions concluding that the terrorism risk had intensified. "Terror attacks in China have become more active than in previous years in both the number and seriousness of the attacks. The anti-terrorism condition facing China is grave," said the report released by the Centre for International Strategy and Security Studies at Beijing's University of International Relations. The report comes at a sensitive time after an apparent suicide bomb and knife attack in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, killed the two assailants and a bystander a week ago. It follows a knife attack blamed on Uygurs in Kunming train station in Yunnan in March that killed 29 and injured dozens. Fears of a terror attack emerged in Guangzhou yesterday as at least one knife-wielding man injured six people at the city's main railway station, although police are investigating the incident. The report said a suicide car attack by Uygur separatists that killed two people in Tiananmen Square in October was a sign that the "East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is expanding its attack target from Xinjiang to other areas". The experience and capacity of places outside Xinjiang make it "more possible for terrorists to launch successful attacks", Professor Wu Shaozhong, from the Chinese People's Public Security University, wrote in the report. Wu added that even Xinjiang - where the bulk of incidents had occurred - had inadequacies, especially in intelligence gathering, referring to a violent clash in Bachu county, Kashgar, that killed 21 people in April. A police investigation revealed that the gang started planning the attack seven months earlier, and even tested explosives five times. Many police officers were not properly trained for terror attacks, Wu said. Meanwhile, Su Juan, from the University of International Relations, warned that religious extremism was gaining ground via the internet. Professor Yang Shu, from the Institute for Central Asia Studies of Lanzhou University, told the Post that some Xinjiang extremists were encouraged by similar attacks overseas. ^ top ^

Beijing police detain gay rights activists before conference (Global Times)
2014-05-07
Nine gay rights advocates were detained Wednesday early morning in Beijing, right before their participation in a conference on homosexual rights originally scheduled on Wednesday morning. Three of them were still under detention as of late Wednesday. The nine people, including organizers and participants of the conference, are gay rights advocates or are from related NGOs. The nine were taken to four police stations between 12 am and 12 pm Wednesday. Six of them were released by 3 pm the same day. The police came without any warrant, and invited them for some questioning, one of the detained activists who refused to be named told the Global Times. Some of them were required to sign on the warrant issued after they were detained. "They asked about the reasons why we want to attend the conference, and who would be invited to the conference," A Qiang from Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays China, told the Global Times after being released. The police demanded two of the activists to send out a message to call off the meeting, which was expected to host about 20 to 30 participants, through text messages, said the activists after release. "I believe their main objective was to prevent us from attending the conference, as the issue we are dealing with is quite sensitive," an activist who is now out of the police station told the Global Times. The conference was going to look into the legal procedures for establishing gay rights groups in China, Yu Fangqiang, the executive director of the Nanjing-based NGO Justice for All, told the Global Times after his release. The meeting was organized following a Changsha-based gay rights group's application to register was turned down by the local government at the end of last year. "The police have overreacted," said A Qiang, "We just want to explain the difficulties of gay rights groups and to promote equality among people of different sexual orientation." The Shuangyushu, Xiangheyuan and Huayuan Road police stations all denied the detention, and refused to comment on the issue. ^ top ^

China to cut capacity in polluting industries (Xinhua)
2014-05-08
Authorities across China should shut down production capacity in polluting industries, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said Thursday in a statement on its website. In its tasks assigned to local authorities, the MIIT ordered the shutdown of 28.7 million tons in steelmaking production capacity, a figure that exceeds the total steel output of Italy last year. As part of the government's efforts to restructure the economy and clean up the environment, another 19 million tons of ironmaking production capacity must also be eliminated this year, the MIIT said. Overcapacity has long been a problem plaguing China's policymakers. Steelmakers, for example, have not only been blamed for polluting China's air, rivers and soil, but for impeding the country's economic restructuring. Chinese steel companies posted combined losses of 2.33 billion yuan (380 million U.S. dollars) in the first quarter, compared with profits of 8 billion yuan a year ago, according to data by the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA). However, crude steel output continued to expand in the first quarter by 2.4 percent to 203 million tons, according to CISA. Along with a reduction of 50.5 million tons of cement production capacity, the MIIT also required excess capacity to be shut down for other metal smelters, glassmaking and paper manufacturing plants. ^ top ^

Proposal to let farmers in China sell off housing land given cool reception (SCMP)
2014-05-09
A government official's suggestion that farmers in China should be allowed to sell land allocated to them for housing has been given a lukewarm reception by analysts and experts on rural affairs. Zhao Hui, the director of the village and township construction department under the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said at a conference on urbanisation the move would allow more private capital to help fund the development of rural areas. Farmers are given plots for housing that are controlled collectively by villages. Most are forbidden to sell it. Zhao said that if plots of housing land were sold, roughly a fifth of the cash could go to the farmer and rest shared between the government and the village. Development in urban area and cities has largely been funded by land sales to the private sector, according to Zhao, but rural development has lagged behind because it relies on government funding. “No matter how hard the central government tries to allocate funds, it will be dwarfed by funds from private capital,” Zhao said. Li Guoxiang, a researcher at the Rural Development Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the proposal ran counter to existing laws. “The constitution stipulates rural land is owned collectively and that is unlikely to be changed in the near future,” said Li. If farmers sold their land and could not make a living in urban areas, social stability would be affected, Li said. Kong Xiangbin, a professor at the China Agricultural University, agreed that if farmers sold their land it could create problems, but said an exception might be made in tourist areas in the countryside where some homes could be sold off. A Communist Party plenum held in Beijing in November last year issued a resolution suggesting there may be changes in the rules governing land allocated to farmers for housing. Mainland media reported last month, citing anonymous sources, that the government was working on draft regulations on housing land in rural areas, which might be announced this year. ^ top ^

Journalist Gao Yu in detention for allegedly leaking secret Communist Party document (SCMP)
2014-05-09
Outspoken journalist Gao Yu has been placed in criminal detention for allegedly leaking a confidential Communist Party document and had admitted her guilt, state media said yesterday. Gao, 70, who had already been jailed for a total of seven years for her political writing, is one of a number of intellectuals and activists who have been detained across the country ahead of the 25th anniversary of the crackdown on the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement. State broadcaster China Central Television and Xinhua reported yesterday that Beijing police detained Gao on April 24 for leaking state secrets abroad, after a special task force seized a large amount of "important evidence" at her home. Xinhua said Gao expressed "deep remorse" and "was willing to accept legal punishment". Her friends raised the alarm after she failed to turn up at a private gathering on April 26 to commemorate an event that led to the Tiananmen crackdown. The news reports said that last August an overseas website published the full text of a secret Communist Party document that was then circulated widely on other websites. "After investigations, the suspect Gao Yu accounted for the criminal act that she had illegally obtained the secret central (party) document and provided it to the overseas website," Xinhua reported. The footage aired on CCTV yesterday morning featured Gao making a confession to police: "I believe what I did breached the law and endangered national interests. I was very wrong. I have sincerely learned a lesson and must confess my mistake." Xinhua did not specify which secret document Gao leaked but said she obtained a photocopy in June and sent it electronically to the website. The timing of the purported leak appeared to coincide with the reports of a confidential Communist Party circular known as Document No9 last year that ordered cadres to tackle seven subversive influences on society, including "Western constitutional democracy" and "universal values" such as human rights and free speech. This week's criminal detention of veteran journalist Gao Yu on charges of revealing state secrets and another five prominent liberal figures on public order charges have stoked fears that these are part of a new and co-ordinated government approach to deal with liberal intellectuals. Yesterday, state media reported that 70-year-old Gao, who had gone missing for the past two weeks, has been placed in criminal detention for allegedly leaking a confidential Communist Party document. On Tuesday, rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and liberal scholar Xu Youyu were among those criminally detained for "picking quarrels and provoking trouble" after attending a low-key event commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown. Political analyst Ching Cheong feared the latest detentions signalled a new strategy of targeting liberal intellectuals. Ironically, Gao herself reported on the Chinese website of Deutsche Welle last year that, at a propaganda conference on August 19, President Xi Jinping purportedly told cadres that "a small bunch of subversive intellectuals" were using the internet to "smear and attack the party's leadership" and must be "seriously dealt with." "These [detentions] appear to be the continuation of the spirit of Xi's August 19 speech," said Ching, a journalist who was jailed on the mainland for almost three years on what he called trumped-up espionage charges. Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said an "alarming trend in the past year has been the lowering of [Beijing's] tolerance of dissent." She said the fact that the government detained people who attended a seminar held at a private home by only 15 people was a "profound sign of weakness". Rights groups also expressed concern that Gao was shown on state television confessing after being held incommunicado in police custody for two weeks, probably with no legal counsel."There will be questions to answer about where she has been held, by whom, and how she has been treated for the past two weeks," Richardson said. Rights lawyer Mo Shaoping said state-secret charges were vaguely defined and authorities often selectively classified information a "state secret" only after they target someone. Mo and Ching also said that journalists should be able to report freely where it involved matters of public interest. "This charge directly conflicts with the public's right to know," Mo said. "You can't call things state secrets at every turn." Gao has served seven years in jail for her political commentaries: for 15 months after she was arrested on the eve of the June 4 Tiananmen crackdown, and again for six years in 1993 for leaking state secrets. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing sets up leading small group to guide internet policy (SCMP)
2014-05-09
Beijing has established the mainland's first city-level leading small group on cybersecurity and adoption of information technology, a move some analysts say could lead to tighter control over the internet. The ad hoc steering committee will report to the municipal Communist Party committee and be chaired by Beijing's party chief and mayor. It will oversee policy and planning of internet development in the capital, the mainland's internet hub, the Beijing Daily reported yesterday. The group was set up after a central-level leading group, headed by President Xi Jinping, highlighted internet safety as a national security issue. "It's not surprising to see Beijing have its own leading small group, and other provinces or municipalities will likely follow suit," said Qiao Mu, an associate professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University. "The leading small group will ensure the party central's dictates on internet management will be strictly followed, especially as so many online portals are based in Beijing." Xi said earlier online opinion must be properly guided, and the internet should help spread "mainstream values and positive energy". The central government is tightening its grip on the internet. Last year's move against "online rumour-mongers" led to the detention of several leading internet celebrities. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Six wounded in knife rampage at Guangzhou Railway Station (SCMP)
2014-05-06
One was subdued by police and a luggage handler after being shot by an officer. But police said later on social media that only one suspect was involved. Witnesses also said one of the injured was a middle-aged Westerner, but Guangzhou police denied any foreigner was among the victims. At least four people were taken to the General Hospital of Guangzhou Military Command, local police said. Three were in stable condition after surgery. The attack comes less than a week after an explosion at a railway station in Urumqi - capital of Xinjiang, the vast western region home to ethnic minority Uygurs - left two attackers and a civilian dead and 79 wounded. It also follows a March attack at a railway station in the southwestern city of Kunming, in which machete-wielding attackers killed 29 people and wounded 143 in what many in China dubbed the country's "9/11". Four attackers were shot and killed by police and four more were captured. Authorities blamed both the Kunming and Urumqi incidents on terrorists from Xinjiang. President Xi Jinping demanded "decisive action" against terrorist attacks in Xinjiang following the railway station blast. The train station in Yuexiu district resumed normal operations by 2pm yesterday. Yet the pungent smell of steriliser used to clean the bloody scene lingered for hours. Hu Zhong, a 70-year-old luggage handler from Henan province, said: "One of the attackers was only 50 metres away from me. "Everyone was running for their lives, even leaving their luggage behind. I was very scared." Hu added: "I saw one suspect in a white shirt and a white hat chopping six people on the left-hand side of the station plaza. "The other three, also in white shirts and holding long knives, were running away from the scene towards the right. The suspect was blocked by two policemen, but the police didn't approach him until they shot him twice in his chest. "A luggage handler tackled him before the police grabbed him. The luggage handler was even braver than police." Ni Zhiquan, 43, from Sichuan province, said the attacker began chopping people 100 metres from the station entrance. He saw one woman receive a wound to her neck. Police in Guangdong have been patrolling with guns since 1994. Since May 1, more than 4,000 police officers and 10,000 auxiliary police officers have been patrolling the streets of Guangzhou. All 4,000 police carry guns. On top of that, SWAT teams and plainclothes officers patrol popular destinations. In addition, 397,000 security cameras in Guangzhou have been turned on since May 1. Other major cities have also stepped up security after the recent attacks. Shanghai police have been patrolling with guns and in Beijing armed police had joined local police in patrolling railway stations. ^ top ^

Knife attack suspect loitered outside Guangzhou train station for two hours, cameras reveal (SCMP)
2014-05-08
The suspect in Tuesday's Guangzhou Railway Station knife rampage was seen wearing a red tennis cap and waiting outside the station for two hours before launching his attack, according to police sources. The third such attack at train stations on the mainland in the past two months left at least six people injured. In Guangzhou, the train station in Yuexiu district resumed normal operations yesterday. According to a brief statement released by the local police on Tuesday, only one suspect was involved. However, according to a source close to local police, three other suspects fled the scene and were still at large. The detained suspect has refused to reveal his name. After examination of surveillance video, the source said the footage showed the suspect squatting between two convenience stores on Huanshi Dong Road on the western side of the railway plaza for nearly two hours before the K366 train from Kunming arrived. The source added that the suspect was wearing a red tennis cap and a white shirt. He was spotted meeting up with one partner who appeared in the crowd from the southern end of the railway plaza and two others from the northern end. “Upon meeting up, the suspect was seen taking off his red tennis cap, revealing a white hat beneath it,” the source said. Meanwhile, security has been stepped up at major train stations throughout the mainland. In a high-profile gesture designed to reassure the public that the government was taking security seriously, the public security minister and two deputy ministers visited railway stations in big cities including Beijing and Shanghai on Tuesday night. Hours after Tuesday's attack, Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun visited Changsha South Railway Station in Hunan to inspect security measures there. Fu Zhenghua, deputy minister of public security, assessed the police's first response capabilities at Beijing Railway Station and South Railway Station and was told it would take only one or two minutes for police to arrive at the scene in the event of an emergency. Another deputy minister of public security, Liu Yanping, inspected railway stations in Shanghai and Suzhou and ordered armed police to remain on high alert. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Uygurs see little to celebrate in Xinjiang's economic development (SCMP)
2014-05-05
Xinjiang launched its new intercity rail line on Thursday, but there was no one to cheer off the first train. Instead, armed police ringed the station as cleaners mopped up blood from a knife and bomb attack the night before that left three people dead and 79 injured. In the eyes of some, the railway dubbed "the star of northern Xinjiang" is proof of a stronger economy. It heralds a future where the region is at the heart of the flow of goods and people across energy-rich Central Asia. For some among the region's Turkic-speaking Uygur minority, though, the new railway is simply a faster way to return home after failing to find work in Xinjiang's big cities. Standing in front of a shopping mall in the capital, Urumqi, where the attack happened, a 28-year-old Uygur said that despite his engineering degree, he had been jobless for more than a year. As he talked, a squad of armed police descended from an armoured vehicle nearby. "We have grown used to having these gun-toting officers looking at us in our neighbourhood," he said. "But you don't see many of them in the Han people's part of town." Companies run by Han Chinese will not hire him because of his ethnicity, he said. "I plan to go back to my hometown of Kashgar next month to help herd my family's cattle, if I still can't find a job here." At the Grand Bazaar, Urumqi's most famous landmark, a smiling Uygur offers to take photographs for passing tourists at 10 yuan (HK$13) apiece. "The Han people usually look scared of me and will grimace and leave," he says. Beijing and the regional government have blamed violence in the region on Islamist militants and separatists. But exiled Uygurs, and many human rights groups, say the cause is Beijing's heavy-handed policies, including curbs on Islam and the culture and language of the Uygurs. President Xi Jinping made his first visit to the region as the nation's leader last week. He stressed the importance of ethnic unity and the need for security. State television showed him smiling with Uygur students and visiting troops. Beijing has invested heavily to develop Xinjiang's economy in a bid to integrate it more deeply with the rest of the country. A train on Thursday carried more than 800 passengers northwest to the oil town of Karamay. Construction of a new line, which will link the area with Kazakhstan, began about two weeks ago. It will be part of the national network connecting Xinjiang with neighbouring Gansu province and Inner Mongolia. It should provide an easier link to Central Asia and, ultimately, Europe. Xinjiang has less than 5,000 kilometres of railway, but Xinhua has reported the region is expected to become a transport hub by the end of next year. The region's Communist Party boss, Zhang Chunxian, has urged its tourism office to make every attempt to attract more visitors to "halt a decline at this difficult time". The office said it would increase its advertising overseas and develop new attractions. The Uygur photographer in Urumqi lamented the drop in tourism after after 2009, when deadly riots swept the city. "It is a holiday today, but you see, so few people," he said, pointing at an almost empty arcade at midday. Ning Yuhong, a Han Chinese from Gansu who sells dried fruit in the bazaar, said that before the riots people from across the mainland, Japan and Southeast Asia filled the bazaar. Her revenue has since dropped by half. "I have been running this shop for 10 years. Every time there is an attack in Xinjiang, business suffers a little more." ^ top ^

Military hold anti-terrorism drill after Urumqi train station attack (SCMP)
2014-05-06
The military has carried out an anti-terrorism drill in the wake of the attack on Urumqi railway station in Xinjiang last week that left three people dead. Troops simulated an assault on a terrorist camp and used drones and missiles during the exercise, the PLA Daily reported. The drill involved several branches of the armed forces and was carried out at the base of the Tian Shan mountain range on the border with Kyrgyzstan, the report said. No details were given on how many troops took part or when it happened. Xinjiang authorities said two people carried out a suicide attack on Wednesday evening in Urumqi. One bystander was killed and 79 people were injured. The attack coincided with the end of a four-day visit to Xinjiang by President Xi Jinping. This is not the first time the military has responded to violence in Xinjiang with a show of force. Authorities staged a large military exercise in Urumqi last June after a series of clashes in the region killed at least 35 people. Beijing has blamed the violence in Xinjiang on separatists. The government has said the militants were also behind the knife attacks at a Kunming railway station in Yunnan in March that left 29 people and four assailants dead. Exiled Uygur groups and human rights organisations say tensions have been inflamed in Xinjiang by government curbs on the ethnic group's language, culture and religion, allegations Beijing denies. Xi has pledged to crack down on terrorism, but during his trip to Xinjiang he urged people to learn both Putonghua and Uygur to foster greater unity. In a meeting to discuss how to better implement initiatives outline during Xi's visit, Xinjiang party boss Zhang Chunxian vowed to step up anti-terrorism and make counterterrorism work a fundamental and routine part of Xinjiang society. Dilxadi Rexiti, a spokesman for the World Uygur Congress, said the government was using propaganda to create tension and anxiety in the region in order to justify repression and surveillance of Uygurs. "Condoning the discrimination against Uygur culture and traditions is one of the leading reasons behind the deterioration of the situation in Xinjiang," he said. ^ top ^

Xinjiang police shoot dead attacker armed with knife and bomb, capture another (SCMP)
2014-05-09
Police in Xinjiang shot dead one man and captured another yesterday after they attacked the officers with a knife and explosives. The incident follows attacks at railway stations in the past two months, blamed on Uygur separatists from Xinjiang, that have put security forces on high alert. Police were inspecting a suspicious car in Aksu after a tip-off at about 1.20pm when the suspects came at the officers with a knife and threw explosives at their patrol car, Xinhua reported. One attacker was killed and another captured, while an auxiliary officer was seriously injured. The brief report did not identify the attackers or say whether the explosives injured passers-by or damaged buildings. "The social order in that area is normal," it said. Dilxadi Rexiti, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uygur Congress, said the incident stemmed from police insulting Uygurs during the vehicle check. In recent years violence has escalated in Xinjiang, where the mainly Muslim Uygurs make up a large minority of the population. Authorities blame the trouble on religious extremists and separatists. Uygur assailants were blamed for attacks at the Kunming and Urumqi railway stations in the past two months, in which killed 30 innocent civilians were killed and more than 200 injured. In February, Xinhua said 11 "terrorists" were killed in Aksu after they attacked a police patrol. "Such attacks have become increasingly frequent and it might take a long while before we see the turning point," said Pan Zhiping, professor at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences. "The complexities of ethnic and religious issues have always been a difficult task historically and we need to review our way of administering Xinjiang for the past three decades." Meanwhile Beijing staged an anti-terror drill involving more than 30 armoured vehicles travelling 100 kilometres around the capital. Troops demonstrated their ability to respond swiftly to attacks and dispose of bombs, while helicopters hovered above. And a court in Kashgar, Xinjiang, sentenced five people to between seven and 15 years in jail for "separatism and endangering national security", the Xinjiang Daily said. They were accused of calling on people to go to Afghanistan and Pakistan to join "the holy war". They were also accused of spreading extremist religious thoughts, preparing restricted weapons and distributing material that promotes separatism. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

China urges US to stop interference in Hong Kong affairs (China Daily)
2014-05-07
China on Wednesday demanded the United States to stop issuing orders regarding the political reform of Hong Kong or doing anything to damage its prosperity and stability. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the comment when asked to respond to US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel's remarks about Hong Kong's political reform and universal suffrage in the chief executive election. "Political system development is Hong Kong's own affair and China's internal affair. Others have no right to interfere in it," Hua said at a daily news briefing. The Chinese government firmly opposes any foreign interference in Hong Kong's political reform or other affairs, Hua said. China resumed exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997. Universal suffrage in the chief executive election is regarded as an important development in the region's political system. In December, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government launched a five-month-long public consultation on methods for the election of Hong Kong's next Chief Executive through universal suffrage in 2017 and for forming the Legislative Council in 2016. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Thousands of pro-government supporters rally in Taipei to counter protests (SCMP)
2014-05-04
Thousands of Taiwanese calling for peace and the rule of law rallied in Taipei on Sunday to counter a recent series of demonstrations that turned violent and led to clashes with police. Police estimated that about 1,500 people from the ruling Kuomintang party and their supporters rallied in the downtown area, ending up with a march to police headquarters. Demonstrators voiced gratitude to police for maintaining peace in the demonstrations since March. Police estimated 15,000 turned out for a separate gathering organised by the right-wing New Party, which is friendly to the Kuomintang. Waving Taiwan flags, the crowd kicked off the event by singing the national anthem. Chanting “Long Live the Republic of China” (Taiwan's official title), demonstrators fired salvos at Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting, the most prominent student leaders during the island's first-ever occupation of parliament starting on March 18. “What is their contribution to the country? They acted wildly in defiance of the law,” an angry Yok Mu-ming, chairman of the New Party, told the crowd. Activist Wang Ping-chung labelled the pair as “fascists”. There has been a series of protests against a controversial services trade pact with China and a contentious nuclear power plant. In the student-led demonstrations against the trade pact with China, protesters occupied parliament and also stormed the top government headquarters. Opponents say the services deal would damage Taiwan's economy and leave it vulnerable to political pressure from China. In late April an estimated 28,500 protesters blockaded a main street in the capital calling for the scrapping of a nearly completed nuclear power plant, prompting police to use water cannon to dislodge the demonstrators. President Ma Ying-jeou has overseen a marked thaw in relations with Beijing since he came to power in 2008 pledging to strengthen trade and tourism links. He was re-elected in January 2012. His party says the island needs the new nuclear plant to ensure electricity supplies, while opponents say it would be too dangerous in an earthquake-prone zone. ^ top ^

We're listening, Xi Jinping says to Taiwan (SCMP)
2014-05-08
President Xi Jinping yesterday said Beijing was willing to learn more about the concerns of the Taiwanese people as he met a key emissary between Taiwan and Beijing. His comment during a meeting in Beijing with James Soong Chu-yu, chairman of the minor opposition faction People First Party came amid Beijing's planned charm offensive for the island following a wave of student-led protests in Taipei against a mainland trade pact. "We'd like to know more about the practical needs of the Taiwan people, especially those [in] the grass roots," Xi said. The mainland was also willing to "take proactive and effective steps to take care of vulnerable groups" in Taiwan, Xi was quoted by Xinhua as saying. Claiming the trade service pact would lead to thousands of lost jobs and that closer ties with the mainland might erode the island's autonomy, some 200 Taiwanese students seized the island's parliament from March 18 to April 10, demanding the pact's withdrawal. Their move gained popular support, with half a million showing up in one major protest in front of the Presidential Office on March 30. Wang Kung-yi, a professor of international affairs at Tamkang University in Taipei, said Xi's comments showed that Beijing had taken note of the protests, widely seen as the biggest threat to President Ma Ying-jeou's administration in recent years. "Through the meeting with Soong, Xi has indicated the mainland's choice to have closer interactions with the grass roots and [youth] in Taiwan," Wang said. Xi noted that as the future development of cross-strait relations rested on young people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait, there was a need to "create more conditions for them to have more interactions". This could help them better understand and see the peaceful development of relations as well as the grand mission of "Chinese renaissance", Xi said. Xi vowed to expand all levels of contact, communication and exchanges with various sectors of Taiwan. But Soong, who arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a four-day visit, asked Xi to understand the desire of the Taiwanese to be the "masters of their own destiny" and urged Beijing to be more tolerant of Taiwan's centrist and pluralist bent. "After all, the political and social systems of Taiwan and mainland China are different," he said in a press statement. Soong said Xi assured that cross-strait relations were not about "who swallows up the other" and that Beijing had no desire to take advantage of Taiwan. It was Soong's first meeting with the president and marked his return to the political scene following a hiatus after his wife's death in 2012. Soong had been active in cross-strait affairs, paving the way for a rapprochement. He was the second leader of Taiwan's mainland-friendly camp to meet Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao, in 2005, which warmed ties even before Ma became president in 2008 and adopted a policy of engaging Beijing. ^ top ^

 

Economy

New generating unit operational at east China nuclear power station (Xinhua)
2014-05-05
The second generating unit of the nuclear power station in Ningde City in east China's Fujian Province began commercial operations on Sunday after 168 hours of test runs, the operator said. The Ningde nuclear power station is the first of its kind in Fujian Province. Its first generating unit was put into commercial run on April 1 last year. The power plant now has an installed capacity of 2.178 megawatts, generating 13 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, or 7.64 percent of Fujian's total electricity consumption in 2013. Units 3 and 4 of the nuclear power station will be completed and start operations around 2015, said Li Yinong, general manager of the Fujian Ningde Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. Including the new unit, the Chinese mainland now has 19 nuclear generating units in operation, with a total installed capacity of 16.95 megawatts, according to Li. ^ top ^

Trade set for stable growth: MOFCOM (Global Times)
2014-05-05
China's overall trade is expected to report stable growth this year, with the weak data in the first quarter mainly resulting from high base effects, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said in a post on its website on Monday. China's total trade volume unexpectedly declined 1 percent year-on-year to $965.9 billion in the first three months, which added to concerns that China's economy could slow further. But MOFCOM explained that the drop was mainly due to distorted trade figures in the first quarter of 2013, which had been inflated by fake export invoices used to disguise money flows. Excluding the base effects, trade growth in the first quarter was within a stable range and was better than the performance of other major economies, MOFCOM said, adding that China's trade situation is expected to improve after May as trade figures returned to normal after a crackdown on fake invoices in May last year. Though many uncertainties are still weighing on China's foreign trade, such as rising labor costs and appreciation of the yuan, steady growth of the Chinese economy and recovery in the global economy will allow for stable trade growth, the ministry said. In the first quarter, total trade volume with the US, Europe and Japan reached $334 billion, up 6.4 percent year-on-year. Trade volume with these three accounted for 34.6 percent of China's overall trade volume, compared with 32.2 percent in the same period of 2013, MOFCOM data showed. "If there are no big fluctuations in the external environment, China's imports and exports are likely to maintain relatively stable growth in 2014," the ministry said. "China could report trade growth of 7.5 percent to 8 percent this year… given that the overall global economy is showing signs of warming up," Xu Hongcai, director of the Department of Information at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times on Monday. But He Weiwen, co-director of the China-US-EU Study Center under the China Association of International Trade, noted that it would be a tough task to reach trade growth of 7.5 percent as Chinese goods still have relatively low added-value and lack competitiveness. Also, developed economies are trying to boost their own manufacturing industries. In a post on Sunday, MOFCOM said the decision in March by the People's Bank of China, the central bank, to double the daily yuan trading band against the US dollar to 2 percent would add to uncertainties over the profits of exporters. Data from MOFCOM showed that China's total trade in goods reached $4.16 trillion in 2013, up 7.6 percent year-on-year, overtaking the US for the first time to become the largest goods trading country. In a separate press conference in Beijing on Monday, MOFCOM spokesman Yao Jian said that trade in services would become a strong boost for China's overall trade in the future. In the first quarter, total services trade reached $138.8 billion, up 15.6 percent year-on-year, accounting for around 12.8 percent of the country's total trade volume, up from 11.5 percent for the whole of 2013. The trade deficit in services rose to $118.5 billion in 2013, but Xu noted that the deficit could help to maintain the balance of China's international payments. Also, introducing advanced services to China can benefit the domestic manufacturing industry. "The growth rate of services trade will continue to outperform [that of] goods trade in the future… and the deficit in services trade will also remain for a period as China still lags behind developed economies in the sector," He noted. ^ top ^

China's coal production, sales drop (Xinhua)
2014-05-07
China's coal sector has been hit by rising stockpiles, falling prices and declining profitability since the beginning of this year, an industry association said Wednesday. In April, coal production dropped 1.31 percent year on year and sales dropped 1.29 percent, according to data released by the China Coal Industry Association (CCIA). In the first quarter of 2014, coal output edged down by 1 percent to 878 million tonnes, while sales declined 1.4 percent to 844 million tonnes, the data showed. Coal stockpiles at the end of last month totaled more than 300 million tonnes for the 29th consecutive month, according to the association. The China Coal Price Index plunged 17.3 points year on year to 150.1 points on April 25. Combined profits of major coal miners plummeted 41.2 percent, while total losses climbed 39.7 percent, data showed. Wang Xianzheng, director of the CCIA, said that coal demands in China dropped against the backdrop of the country's economic slowdown, accelerating transformation of energy structure, as well as rising resource and environmental constraints. The industry should scientifically manage total coal output and make production arrangements based on changing market conditions, Wang said. China's economic growth slowed to a six-quarter low of 7.4 percent in the first quarter of the year, down from an annual figure of 7.7 percent in 2013. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

NK arms freighter passes through Panama (Global Times)
2014-05-04
The North Korean freighter Chong Chon Gang exited the Panama Canal on its way home Saturday, more than nine months after it was seized with an undeclared cargo of Cuban arms. "The Chong Chon Gang passed through the Panama Canal early this morning bound for Pyongyang with 10,200 tons of sugar," the lawyer for its crew, Julio Berrios told AFP. Panama Canal administrator Jorge Quijano confirmed the ship had transited the canal without incident. In July 2013, after docking in Cuba, the ship was stopped on suspicion of carrying drugs as it tried to enter the canal, the busy waterway linking the Caribbean and Pacific. A search by Panamanian authorities uncovered 25 containers of Cuban military hardware, including two Soviet-era MiG-21 aircraft, air defense systems, missiles, and command and control vehicles. The containers were concealed under more than 200,000 sacks of sugar. Both Havana and Pyongyang said the weapons were obsolete Cuban arms being shipped to North Korea for refurbishment under a legitimate contract and due to be returned to Cuba. Panama held the boat for months before finally releasing its crew. North Korea was fined $1 million for endangering the canal. In addition, Panama asked the United Nations to send a mission to determine if the attempted shipment violated a UN embargo on arms deliveries to North Korea. The results of the mission's probe have not been made public. But Panama authorities say the UN team's report confirms the cargo violated the embargo. The ship's 35 crew members were arrested and the ship and cargo seized for potential violations of a UN weapons embargo and as a threat to the canal's security. After paying the $1 million fine, the ship was allowed to leave on February 15 with 32 crew members, minus its cargo and three senior crew members charged with arms trafficking. The Chong Chon Gang sailed back to Cuba to pick up a replacement cargo of sugar and returned through the canal. Its passage was briefly delayed by some technical problems with its engines and electrical system. ^ top ^

ROK says discovered drones sent by DPRK (China Daily)
2014-05-08
The Defense Ministry of the Republic of Korea (ROK) said Thursday that three drones discovered around the inter-Korean border were sent by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a press briefing that the US-ROK joint investigation team conducted a scientific probe into three DPRK drones after announcing an interim probe result on April 11. Kim said three drones were pre-arranged to take off from and return to the DPRK based on investigation into the built-in memory chips. The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) flew in accordance with pre-arranged coordinates via the global positioning system (GPS). Kim called flight paths collected from the pre-arranged coordinates as a "smoking gun" to prove the drones came from the DPRK, saying the pilotless airplanes flew over major ROK military installations. The first DPRK drone was found on March 24 in Paju, the northwestern ROK city close to the land border. The second one was discovered in the Baengnyeong Island just south of the disputed western sea boundary on March 31 when the two Koreas exchanged artillery fires. One more UAV, flown by the DPRK possibly last year, was spotted on April 6 in Samcheok, around 290 km east of Seoul and some 130 km south of the military demarcation line between the two Koreas. The drones were equipped with digital cameras, capturing images of military installations near the Demilitarized zone and the Blue House in Seoul where President Park Geun-hye's residence and office are located. The ROK military said earlier that the drones were not sophisticated enough to send images in real-time and the quality of images was no better than those from commercial satellites. The UAVs were believed to carry just 2-3 kilograms of TNT for an attack purpose, which will not cause a serious damage. Concerns remained that the DPRK drones can be modified to carry chemical and biological explosives and crash into somewhere in the capital area of the South. Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said in early April that the drones will possibly advance into a "suicide bomber" though they looked rudimentary yet for the reconnaissance purpose. President Park said insecurities were growing among citizens in ROK, especially people living near the border area, noting that though DPRK drones spied in all directions, the military was completely in the dark about it. The military planned to purchase advanced low-altitude radars to detect and strike the small drones. The ROK's army was operating low-altitude radars called TPS-830k, but they were unable to spot the small UAVs. The spokesman said that this DPRK act is a clear military provocation and a violation of armistice agreement that banned mutual aggression, noting the military will take a stern response to such provocation and issue a warning against the DPRK through the UN command. The ROK military will view the small DPRK drones as a new threat and push to strengthen its air defense capability, Kim said, noting it will build up a comprehensive defense system that can detect and strike the drones. The DPRK has denied having sent the drones to the South, claiming it was fabricated by ROK. The DPRK's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said after the interim probe result announcement that ROK was fabricating another "Cheonan incident," calling it Seoul's smear campaign against Pyongyang. The Cheonan incident referred to the sinking of the ROK's navy corvette Cheonan, which killed 46 soldiers. The warship sank in waters near the western maritime border in what a Seoul-led multinational investigation team claimed was a torpedo attack by Pyongyang. The DPRK has repeatedly denied its involvement in the incident. ^ top ^

North Korea nearly ready for fourth nuclear test, Seoul says (SCMP)
2014-05-08
North Korea is making final preparations to conduct its fourth nuclear test but may not do so, South Korea's defence minister said yesterday. Kim Kwan-jin told South Korean journalists that North Korea could detonate a nuclear device the instant the decision is made, though he didn't elaborate on what the final step of those preparations was, according to ministry officials. The defence minister also said North Korea may hold off on a test or it may be aiming to trick outside observers into believing it will explode a device even though it doesn't intend to do so, the officials said, requesting anonymity. North Korea has threatened in recent weeks to conduct a nuclear test to protest against what it calls US and South Korean hostility and international condemnation over its rocket and missile tests earlier this year. Many North Korea watchers had suspected a nuclear test would occur when US President Barack Obama visited Seoul last month but nothing happened. Analysts remain divided over whether North Korea would go ahead with a test anytime soon. But the test, if made, would mark another defiant response to US-led international pressures on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programme. North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013. Western experts believe North Korea has a handful of rudimentary bombs, though it's not yet believed to acquire a technology to manufacture warheads small enough to mount a missile that could threaten the US. Recent months have seen a flare-up of animosities on the Korean peninsula, with Pyongyang conducting a barrage of rocket and missile tests and resuming fierce rhetoric against Seoul and Washington. Before then, the North had been gradually toning down its threats and seeking improved ties with South Korea in what foreign analysts say is an attempt to lure investment and aid. A year ago, Pyongyang threatened nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington in protest over tougher US sanctions following its third bomb test. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

DPRK to introduce its Economic Free Zone and Investment issues in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (Info Mongolia)
2014-05-05
Upon the invitation of Mongolia's Ministry of Roads and Transportation, delegates from State Economic Development Commission and Ministry of Railways of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea are conducting a working visit to Mongolia on May 08-12, 2014. In the frameworks of the visit, North Korean delegation will attend and introduce the “DPRK Economic Free Zone and Investment” issues at the meeting scheduled at the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry at 03:00 pm on May 08, 2014. At the meeting, Korean delegates will be represented by authorities from the DPRK Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Legal Departments of Ministry of Land and Marine Transportation, and State Economic Commission's Development Division for Special Region. ^ top ^

Mongolia and the Kingdom of Cambodia have arranged its first consultative meeting at Foreign Ministry-level (Info Mongolia)
2014-05-06
Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia D.Gankhuyag who is on a working trip to some Southeast Asian countries with aim to develop friendly relations with these countries and forward the process of Mongolia's joining the Asia-Pacific regional multilateral dialogue, chaired the Mongolian part at the first consultative meeting of the Foreign Ministries of Mongolia and the Kingdom of Cambodia held in Phnom Penh on May 02, 2014. The Cambodian part was led by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Long Visalo. The sides emphasized an importance of fostering bilateral relations and cooperation which have undergone stagnation over the past 30 years, in all possible spheres under the new circumstances. With this purpose, the Foreign Ministries signed a cooperation memorandum. During the consultation, the sides shared views on certain ways and spheres of bilateral cooperation, the activities for the celebration of the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Cambodia next year. The Cambodian side expressed its readiness to support Mongolia in its joining the East Asian cooperation mechanism, including East Asia Summit and ASEAN Dialogue. The same day, Deputy Minister D.Gankhuyag paid a courtesy call on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong. The latter highly valued Mongolia's efforts for the stimulation and development of bilateral relations and cooperation and expressed readiness to promote Mongolia's willingness to join regional cooperation integration process, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia. Mongolia and the Kingdom of Cambodia have established the diplomatic relations on November 30, 1960. ^ top ^

 

Mrs. Lauranne Peman
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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