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
  17-23.5.14, No. 525  
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Table of contents

Mongolia

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Bilateral Issues

Senior Chinese official urges closer China-Switzerland ties (Xinhua)
2014-05-20
Sun Chunlan, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), who is on a visit to Switzerland, met with Swiss Federal Councilor and Economic Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann on Monday in Bern, capital of the central European country. During the talks, Sun said China-Swiss relation has continued to develop positively over the years and the pragmatic cooperation in all sectors have yielded concrete achievements. Sun hailed the China-Swiss Free Trade Agreement, which is going to enter into force on July 1, as a new milestone in the bilateral relationship between the two countries, and stated that it will inject new dynamic impetus into the economic ties between China and Switzerland. Sun said that China will make joint efforts with Switzerland in taking the opportunity to promote the friendly cooperation between the two countries in all walks of life and in all sectors. Schneider-Ammann said that the free trade agreement would be mutually beneficial and rewarding for China, one of the world's largest economies, and Switzerland, a country with advanced economy and technologies. Schneider-Ammann noted that Switzerland will take the opportunity provided by the free trade agreement to further pragmatic cooperation with China in economic and social fields and promote the bilateral relation to a higher level. During her visit, Sun, who is also the secretary of the CPC Tianjin Municipal Committee, also met with Guy Morin, president of the government of the canton of Basel-Stadt, and exchanged views on communication and cooperation at the local level. ^ top ^

SDC Director-General is visiting Ulaanbaatar to celebrate Switzerland-Mongolia 50 years of Diplomatic Relations and 10 years of cooperation (Info Mongolia)
2014-05-23
In 2014, the Swiss Confederation and Mongolia are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Mongolia. To mark this occasion, the SDC Director-General. Mr. Martin Dahinden is visiting Ulaanbaatar from May 20 to 22, where he will meet high-level government representatives and represent Switzerland at the official celebrations. The Swiss confederation and Mongolia have established diplomatic relations on May 22, 1964. In this capacity as representative of this Swiss Government at the 50th anniversary celebrations, SDC Director-General and Ambassador Martin Dahinden is meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Luvsanvandan BOLD, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Agriculture Mr. Tsevegdorj TUVAAN, ;inister of Labor Mr. Yadamsuresn SANJMYATAV and the Head of the “Justice” Coalition Mr. Namdag BATTSEREG respectively in Ulaanbaatar on May 21,2014. The talks will focus on bilateral relations and Switzerland's activities in the context of development cooperation. Other subjects of discussion will be cooperation on migration, the fight against human trafficking and the Swiss Chairmanship of the OSCE, where Mongolia is the most recent state joined the OSCE as the 57th participating state. Since establishing diplomatic relations, Switzerland and Mongolia have maintained friendly contacts and since 2008, political consultations have taken place at a two-yearly rhythm, most recently was held in Bern on March 24, 2014. Switzerland has an excellent reputation in Mongolia. In particular, Switzerland's model of direct democracy Is highly regarded in Mongolian Government circles. Decentralizing the system of the Government is a priority of Swiss Development Cooperation in Mongolia. In addition, the SDC supports Mongolia in promoting civil society. Other thematic priorities of Swiss development cooperation over the past ten years, during which the countries bilateral relations have been considerably expanded, are agriculture and food security as well as vocational education and training and small-scale mining. In agriculture, the SDC is currently involved in potato and vegetable growing (improved varieties, seed and storage), providing support for herders cooperatives for the purpose of improving use of pasture land, wool marketing, building up veterinary facilities and introducing a national livestock insurance scheme. In the field of vocational education and training, the SDC focuses on the employability of young people and adults, and supports the Mongolian government among other things in developing short-term professional training programs and advisory services. The SDC cooperation office in Ulaanbaatar was opened in 2004 and has been implementing timely projects such as Pasture Management Project and Fighting Against Desertification Project, and the Swiss Humanitarian Aid was provided to Mongolia since 2001 during severe winter periods called “zud” or “Dzud”. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China, Japan hold first high-level meet since December (SCMP)
2014-05-18
The Japanese and Chinese trade ministers held talks yesterday in the first high-level meeting between the two countries since a visit by Japan's prime minister to a controversial war shrine sparked a furious diplomatic row in December. Toshimitsu Motegi and his Chinese counterpart Gao Hucheng agreed to put political tensions to one side to improve bilateral economic ties, when they met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum in Qingdao, Shandong province, Kyodo news agency reported. It was the first cabinet-level meeting since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine on December 26 provoked outrage in Beijing, worsening diplomatic tensions already running high over a bitter territorial dispute. China, along with other Asian nations, regards the shrine as a symbol of what it says is Japan's unwillingness to repent for its aggressive warring last century. "Although Japan and China have difficult issues, we agreed that we should proceed with cooperation between the two countries based on our mutually beneficial and strategic relationship," Motegi was quoted by Japanese state broadcaster NHK as saying after the meeting. The talks, which lasted about 20 minutes, were held in a "very good atmosphere", Motegi said. Relations between the Asian giants plunged to their lowest in years in September 2012 after Japan nationalised part of a South China Sea island chain known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in China. Tokyo controls the islands, which are strategically sited and may harbour mineral resources, but Beijing claims sovereignty. Paramilitary vessels from both sides have shadow-boxed in waters around the islands since then, with some observers warning of the risk of a limited military confrontation that could have disastrous regional implications. However, in recent months the temperature has cooled and there have been signs that the two sides, which are economically interdependent, are moving towards a diplomatic detente. ^ top ^

Thousands more Chinese to be evacuated from Vietnam after riots (SCMP)
2014-05-19
Another 4,000 mainlanders are expected to be evacuated from Vietnam as soon as today in the aftermath of deadly anti-China protests last week. China's foreign ministry said yesterday that more than 3,000 people had already been evacuated as of Saturday afternoon. Sixteen critically injured Chinese nationals were evacuated from Vietnam early yesterday aboard a chartered medical flight arranged by the central government, the ministry said. They landed in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. Xinhua reported workers from the China 19th Metallurgical Corporation, a contractor for an iron and steel plant being built by Formosa Plastics Group, Taiwan's biggest investor in Vietnam, were among those evacuating. The plant, in Ha Tinh province, came under heavy attack by mobs during last week's violence. Zhang Zhaoxiang, president of the Metallurgical Corporation of China, told China National Radio from Ha Tinh that 140 women and frail employees were also flown out early yesterday. He said another 3,900 people, including the company's contractors, were expected to return home by sea today. The transport ministry said it had sent five ships to Vietnam from Hainan yesterday, with the first one expected to arrive early this morning. Each of the five ships could take 1,000 passengers, Xinhua reported. China's maritime safety administration said it had also sent a rescue vessel to nearby waters to provide emergency support. The Hong Kong Immigration Department received two more requests for assistance from Hongkongers in Vietnam yesterday, raising the total to 10. Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said earlier yesterday that the department had handled eight cases. He said air traffic between Hong Kong and Vietnam remained normal and that there were enough plane seats available to cater to demand. In Taipei, President Ma Ying-jeou has ordered commercial jets to be on standby to evacuate Taiwanese in the event of further violence. Taiwan-based China Airlines and EVA Air have already provided extra chartered flights to Vietnam. The Central News Agency reported Vietnam's de facto chief envoy to Taiwan, Bui Trong Van, had formally apologised on behalf of Hanoi yesterday over the losses suffered by Taiwanese investors in last week's violence. Van said reducing or removing land or business taxes could be one of the forms of compensation to Taiwanese companies, without giving a time frame when Hanoi would make a decision, the report said. Meanwhile, in Pingxiang city, Guangxi, which borders Vietnam, a resident said cross-border trade and everyday life were going on as normal yesterday. "Pingxiang is quite quiet today. All restaurants, cross-border markets and travel business are running normally," said the resident, who declined to be named. "Highways to Pingxiang and Dongxing from other cities of Guangxi have also been running as normal." Two-way trade between the mainland and Vietnam was worth US$50.2 billion last year, according to Vietnamese trade statistics. The two nations signed an agreement last year as part of plans to boost trade to US$60 billion by 2015. ^ top ^

China hosts major Asia security conference (China Daily)
2014-05-20
China will host a major regional summit in Shanghai on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of an effort to facilitate Asia-wide security discussions. The country is not alone in its aspirations for more effective regional security. The largest number of leaders in the 22-year history of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, or CICA, will attend the summit. While Asia has become the world's most economically dynamic region and is closely watched in the world's power landscape, security cooperation has been a weakness. The region faces a slew of traditional and non-traditional security threats, ranging from terrorism to economic instability. Though it has some subregional organizations that are grouped according to the cultural background and development level of member countries, Asia lacks a platform for dialogue that covers the region as a whole, according to He Jingjun, an observer with the Chahar Institute a Beijing-based think tank. What's more, some Asian countries are imbued with the traditional mindset of "hitchhiking" on security issues, relying heavily on external forces such as the United States in the face of the region's shared challenges, He said. Given the lack of an Asia-wide security mechanism, it is hoped CICA can fill the void. Whether Asia can form a multilateral security system covering most countries may determine the direction of Asia's future development, the Diplomat Magazine said in an article on its website. According to Feng Shaolei, a scholar at East China Normal University, the summit will include a historic overview of the evolution of Asia's security framework and an important review of the current situation. As China will take over as the organization's host from 2014 to 2016, the summit was designed by the Chinese government as one of the two most important symbols of China's "host diplomacy" in 2014. The conference is viewed as being at the same level as November's APEC summit. President Xi Jinping will elaborate China's views on the Asian security situation and put forward proposals for beefing up dialogue and cooperation, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheng Guoping said. Addressing terrorism is one focal point. Covering about 90 percent of the Eurasia continent and more than half of the world's total population, CICA has been viewed by observers as a potentially effective platform to soothe regional disputes. According to Diplomat Magazine, the simultaneous visits of Russian President Vladimir Putin, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may offer an opportunity to discuss the ongoing negotiations over Iran's nuclear program between the P5+1 and Teheran. Dong Manyuan, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said that as CICA has not yet become an international group or organization, its resolutions and policies are mostly symbolic. But it's expected that a document will be approved to enhance the partnership between the CICA and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, another key regional security organization. ^ top ^

US charges five members of China's military with cyber-espionage (SCMP)
2014-05-20
Report led by former US officials estimated last year that hacking was costing the US economy more than US$300 billion each year. The United States on Monday indicted five members of the Chinese military on charges they stole US secrets through hacking to help state-run companies, the Justice Department said. A grand jury filed charges against five people in the People's Liberation Army's shadowy Unit 61398 for allegedly stealing steel industry secrets to benefit Chinese state-owned companies. The criminal charges said that the hackers broke into US computers to gain a competitive advantage, hurting companies such as Westinghouse and the US Steel Corp as well as workers. Attorney General Eric Holder said the charges were the first of their kind against state actors and should serve as “a wake-up call.” “This administration will not tolerate actions by any nation that seeks to illegally sabotage American companies and undermine the integrity of fair competition in the operation of the free market,” Holder told reporters. “The indictment makes clear that state actors who engage in economic espionage, even over the Internet from faraway offices in Shanghai, will be exposed for their criminal conduct and sought for apprehension and prosecution in an American court of law,” he said. The charges, which US officials said came after several years of investigation, were filed against Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu and Gu Chunhui. The move marks an escalation in an intense dispute between the world's two largest economies over hacking, with the United States moving beyond rhetoric in pressuring China. Hacking has emerged as a major irritant in the already complicated relationship between China and the United States, with President Barack Obama raising concerns directly with his counterpart Xi Jinping. In a report in February last year, the security firm Mandiant said that China has made a major investment in cyber-espionage and set up a military-linked unit with thousands of workers who pilfer intellectual property and government secrets overseas. The workers operate from a non-descript, 12-story building on the outskirts of Shanghai and had stolen data from at least 141 organisations spanning 20 industries, the last year study said. The report said that the hacking group known as APT1 – which stands for “Advanced Persistent Threat” – was believed to be a branch of what is known as Unit 61398 of the People's Liberation Army. A separate report led by former US officials estimated last year that hacking was costing the US economy more than US$300 billion each year – equivalent to what the United States sells each year to Asia. China was by far the biggest culprit, although other countries including Russia also have hacked US intellectual property, it said. Beijing has hit back that Washington is hypocritical as it conducts widespread surveillance around the world, as revealed by former government contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden's leaks have indicated that the United States has hacked into Chinese telecom giant Huawei – whose own attempts to penetrate the US market have been blocked by lawmakers' concerns on national security. The United States has invested heavily in cyber-warfare, with the Pentagon setting up a dedicated unit, and is widely suspected to have worked with Israel to infect Iran's nuclear programme. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, on a visit to Beijing last month, asked China to be more open about its cyber capabilities in hopes of reducing the chances of an inadvertent conflict. The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, in its annual report released in November, had urged US action to change the “cost-benefit calculus” for Beijing on hacking. The commission, which has an advisory role to US policymakers, called for Washington to consider a ban on import of certain products from China. ^ top ^

Embargo, Dalai Lama 'not obstacles' in Sino-French relationship (Global Times)
2014-05-20
The weapons embargo to China and the Dalai Lama will not be obstacles in France-China relations, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the Global Times on Monday, demonstrating from another perspective that the "China-France relationship is at its all time best."A long term attitude of France, the country wishes to lift the EU's weapons embargo to China, Fabius said. However, doing so would require approval from all EU member states, some of which still hold a different opinion, he added. In regard to Tibet, Fabius said that the way France treats the Dalai Lama does not cause a problem to China. Tibet has its unique cultural characteristics but the region remains part of China, he said. Fabius will invite Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong to visit France in September to jointly hold the first meeting of a high level cultural and educational exchange mechanism. He also plans to invite Premier Li Keqiang to visit France at an appropriate time. Ukraine crisis is another hotly discussed topic in the interview. Fabius said he discussed the situation in Ukraine with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday. Ukraine will hold presidential polls on May 25 while the situation in eastern and southern Ukraine remains unstable. Fabius said the international community wishes the polls be carried out as scheduled and does not want to see Ukraine split. "If the territory of a country splits, it has major influence on the entire world, especially Asia, because maintaining the territorial integrity is an important principle in the international community and Asians have deep understanding regard that principle," Fabius said. Regarding Ukraine, France has three principles, Fabius said, to see that the presidential polls be carried out, to de-escalate the tensions and to see that the constitution be amended. As Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to attend the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia on Tuesday in Shanghai, Fabius said that a good Sino-Russian relationship would benefit the world. France has also invited Putin to attend commemorating activities that mark the 70th anniversary of D-day in June as Russia made great sacrifices for the victory in World War II. During the interview, Fabius stressed that it is his responsibility to promote French tourism and external economy as he holds the concurrent position as Minister of International Development. Fabius met the founder of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province Friday afternoon. Both sides signed a memorandum to help French brands enter Tmall, Alibaba's online shopping platform. Fabius hopes that the move will open up the Chinese market for mid- and small-enterprises in France. Fabius also signed an agreement with ctrip.com, a Chinese online travel service company, on Saturday. "More Chinese tourists today prefer to travel by themselves and Ctrip has a huge advantage in that aspect," said Fabius, adding that France has taken other measures to promote tourism, such as the 48-hour visa policy and providing more Chinese-language services at airports, train stations and museums. ^ top ^

Xi and Putin put on show of solidarity with joint declaration and naval drills (SCMP)
2014-05-23
President Xi Jinping presented a united front with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Shanghai as they faced mounting pressure over their handling of conflicts. The two leaders vowed in a joint declaration to oppose interference in the domestic affairs of other countries and came out against unilateral sanctions - a remark widely seen as targeting the United States. They also pledged to counter attempts to "falsify the history" of the second world war. And in a further show of unity, they launched joint naval exercises around the sensitive East China Sea, where China and Japan are involved in a dispute over territorial sovereignty. The joint naval exercises were conducted off Shanghai yesterday, with Xi launching the drills at a ceremony in a room lined with officers of both navies in white dress uniform, as Putin looking on, state broadcaster CCTV showed. Beijing says a combined 14 surface ships from both countries will take part in the week-long drills in the East China Sea which are aimed at a “maritime threat” and include live-fire exercises. The exercises show “the unshakable determination and will of China and Russia to together face new threats and challenges to protect regional security and stability”, Xi was quoted as saying by the government-backed China News Service. Putin said he hoped “the two militaries can strengthen cooperation under the new situation”, it added. It is the third time in as many years that the two countries have held naval exercises near China's coast, according to state media. “The Chinese are much more agitated about what happens on the sea and one sees support there from Russia,” said Raffaello Pantucci, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. “The Russians want support on the international stage to grandstand." Relations between China and Vietnam have worsened after Beijing's move earlier this month to send a deep-water oil drilling rig into contested waters in the South China Sea, sparking violent Vietnamese protests in which two Chinese were killed. China and Japan have a long-running feud over disputed islands in the East China Sea, while the Philippines accuses China of reclaiming land on a disputed reef within its exclusive economic zone under a UN convention. Meanwhile, Xi described the declaration and the other cooperation documents signed as carrying "heavy weight", even though a massive natural gas supply deal could not be signed. "Further facilitating the China-Russia all-round strategic partnership of cooperation based on common interests is a requirement for promoting international fairness and justice," Xi said. "I am convinced that the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership will keep growing," Putin was quoted as saying by Russia's Itar-Tass news agency. The talks on the sidelines of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia were overshadowed by conflicts facing the nations. China is involved in territorial disputes with its neighbours, while Russia is under pressure from sanctions after annexing Crimea from Ukraine. Both accuse the US of manipulating the regional and domestic affairs of other nations. Li Lifan, an expert in Russian affairs at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said: "The suspicions towards the US have pushed China and Russia to move closer, forming a 'sub-alliance' relationship that see both sharing a common stance." But the relationship was not confined by any treaty similar to the one that pledges US security support to Japan because China sticks to a non-alignment foreign policy doctrine, Li said. On Ukraine, the two nations called for political dialogue to ease tensions. The two nations would establish a "comprehensive energy cooperation partnership", but failed to sign the deal for Russia to supply 38 billion cubic metres of natural gas to China annually. Reports suggested Russian gas giant Gazprom's average price in Europe was US$380.5 per 1,000 cubic metres, but China wants a lower price as it has secured natural gas supplies from Central Asian nations. The pledge of closer relations between Beijing and Moscow has triggered concerns about ties between China, Russia, Germany and Japan. Germany is China's major trade partner, but is at odds with Russia over Ukraine, while Japan is one of Russia's main investors. But observers insisted any impact would not last long. ^ top ^

ASEAN-China defense ministers' meeting held in Myanmar (Xinhua)
2014-05-23
The 4th ASEAN-China Defense Ministers Informal Meeting was held in Myanmar's capital Nay Pyi Taw Tuesday, gathering visiting Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Chang Wanquan, defense leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and official of the ASEAN Secretariat. The meeting was chaired by Myanmar Defense Minister Lieutenant- General Wai Lwin. Wai Lwin said China is an important force leading the region's economic development and maintaining the region's peace and stability. It is the most important dialogue partner of ASEAN. The meeting of ASEAN-China defense ministers would have positive impact on strengthening strategic mutual trust between the two sides and boosting practical cooperation, he added. Chang said China's advocation of a new security concept featuring common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security measures would bring about development and cooperation opportunity to the region. Regarding the issue of South China Sea, Chang stressed that China commits to settling dispute through negotiation and coordination on the basis of respecting historical facts and international laws. Internationalizing and multipolarizing the issue would not help bring solution to the issue, but only be counterproductive to the process, Chang said. China unshakably pursues a path of peaceful development, and its resolve to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity, security and development interest is also unshakable, he said. To deepen ASEAN-China defense and security cooperation, the Chinese side has invited ASEAN defense ministers for a special meeting in China in 2015, suggested launching consultations on establishing ASEAN-China direct telephone defense communication and strengthening ASEAN-China defense policy and academic communications, Chang said. ASEAN defense leaders welcomed Chang's proposals for enhancing practical cooperation in the defense sector and expressed willingness to maintain communication and coordination, strengthen exchange and cooperation with the Chinese side to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the region. ASEAN-China defense ministers' meeting takes place annually in alternate ASEAN chair country since it started in 2011. ^ top ^

Israel, China agree to expand bilateral cooperation (Xinhua)
2014-05-23
Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday met with visiting Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong in Tel Aviv, Israel, pledging to step up cooperation between the two countries in diverse fields. During the meeting, Peres recalled his successful visit to China last month. "China has created a miracle of sustainable high speed development due to the extraordinary leadership of the Chinese leaders and hard struggle of the Chinese people," said Peres, who believed strengthening the cooperation in technology and innovation fields between the two countries is reciprocal. Liu, who arrived in Israel Sunday for a five-day official visit, said that during the Second World War, the Chinese and Jewish peoples fought shoulder to shoulder against the world's fascism, stood together through the dark time and forged profound friendship. China and Israel have developed amicable relations and fruitful cooperation since two countries established diplomatic ties more than two decades ago, said Liu. The Chinese vice premier also said China hopes to boost the bilateral cooperation in areas such as technology, innovation, education, culture, health care and humanities. An inter-government economic and technological cooperation mechanism has been established. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Liu on Monday signed a memorandum on the establishment of a joint bilateral committee to expand innovation cooperation between the two countries. "China would like to take this opportunity to further integrate resources, continuously boost and deepen bilateral exchange and cooperation on the fields mentioned above. So that it would better benefit the people from the two countries," Liu said. ^ top ^

Summit to reshape Asian security with new concept (Xinhua)
2014-05-23
Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed on Wednesday a new concept of Asian security which analysts said bears significant implications for regional stability and the rebalancing of global security. Addressing the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) held in Shanghai, Xi envisioned a mechanism that stresses common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security to tackle rising challenges facing the region with 67 percent of the world's population and one third of the global economy. In sharp contrast to the decades-old security scheme based on Cold War mentality, the new concept addresses Asia's unique challenges shaped by its historical grievances, current tensions and potential risks, said Qu Xing, head of the China Institute of International Studies. "We need to innovate our security concept, establish a new regional security cooperation architecture, and jointly build a shared and win-win road for Asian security," Xi said. One cannot live in the 21st century with the outdated thinking from the age of Cold War and zero-sum game, Xi said. By stressing sustainable security supported by sustainable development, the concept also provides a framework under which Asia can aspire to its revival based on economic prosperity, stability and cooperation, Qu said. In his proposal, Xi said Asia should oppose beefing up a military alliance targeted at a third party, and any attempt to dominate regional security affairs or infringe upon the legitimate rights and interests of other countries. Security problems in Asia should eventually be solved by Asians themselves who are able to achieve regional peace and stability through cooperation, he said. He urged countries in the region to insist on resolving disputes through peaceful means and oppose the arbitrary use of force or threats. Provocations and escalation of tensions for selfish interests should also be opposed, he added. Besides traditional security threats, Asia has found it difficult to respond effectively to non-traditional security threats including terrorism, transnational crimes, environmental security, cyber security, energy and resource security and major natural disasters which are clearly on the rise. To build an Asian security mansion that could stand the test of wind storms, Xi said, "we need to focus on development, actively improve people's lives and narrow down the wealth gap to cement the foundation of security." "We need to advance the process of common development and regional integration, foster sound interactions and synchronized progress of regional economic cooperation and security cooperation, and promote sustainable security through sustainable development," the president added. The summit came six decades after the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence was put forward by Asian countries and adopted as a guide to international relations, said Li Weijian, a researcher with Shanghai Institute for International Studies. As an extension of the five principles, the new concept will not only provide significant guidance to promote peace and stability of Asia, but also add momentum to the rebalancing of the world's economic and security dynamics, Li said. The summit was attended by leaders and representatives from 47 countries or international organizations, the largest scale in CICA's 22-year history. Huang Renwei, deputy dean of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the summit reached wide and concrete consensus instead of empty talks. Proposed solutions to the region's most pressing issues have high feasibility, and, if implemented well, could drive the forum to an architecture with higher level, he said. Calling the CICA the largest and most representative regional security forum with the largest number of participants, Xi proposed to make the forum a security dialogue and cooperation platform that covers the whole of Asia. He called for enhancing the capacity and institutional building of the CICA, improving functions of the CICA Secretariat, and establishing a mechanism within the forum for defense consultations among member states. Xi expected closer regional exchanges and cooperation in anti-terrorism, business, tourism, environmental protection, culture and people-to-people exchanges. The Chinese president proposed to put in place a non-governmental exchange network for CICA parties through holding CICA non-governmental forums and other means, to increase the conference's influence and promote regional security governance. He also suggested strengthening the inclusiveness and openness of the CICA, and step up cooperation with other organizations in the region and expand dialogue and communication with other regions. Xi's comments were echoed by Russian President Vladmir Putin who called the CICA an effective mechanism to drive security cooperation in Asia. It is highly expected that as China has taken over the CICA presidency for 2014 to 2016, the forum would further promote peace and cooperation as a balanced, equal and coordinated security construct that takes into consideration each country's interests and concerns, he said. Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev said expanding economic cooperation should top CICA's agenda. He believes the Silk Road economic belt envisioned by Xi could boost infrastructure development, laying a sound foundation for security cooperation among nations along the route that overlaps with the ancient trade itinerary connecting the East and the West. ^ top ^

China, Russia ink long-awaited gas deal (Xinhua)
2014-05-23
China and Russia on Wednesday signed a long-awaited gas deal in Shanghai, ending a decade of natural gas supply talks between the two neighbors. The 30-year deal came one day after visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin said that "significant progress" had been made over price. Two documents, China and Russia Purchase and Sales Contract on East Route Gas Project and a memorandum, were signed at a ceremony attended by President Xi Jinping and Putin. The talks have repeatedly stalled over price. The agreed price in the latest deal is not known. According to a news bulletin on the website of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the contract will see the east route pipeline start providing China with 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from 2018. In 2013, CNPC signed a framework gas supply agreement with Russia's Gazprom, the world's largest gas company, but the divergence in pricing left the purchase and sales contract unsettled until Wednesday. "The deal...fully embodies the principle of mutual trust and the mutual benefit of China and Russia," said the bulletin. The agreement will accelerate economic and social development in Russia's far east region. The gas will come from the Kovyktin and Chayandin gas fields in eastern Siberia of Russia and will be piped to China's northeast, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei metropolitan area in the north and the Yangtze river delta in the east. China and Russia have vowed to strengthen cooperation in energy and infrastructure in Russia. According to a joint statement signed by the two leaders after their talks on Tuesday, they will "establish a comprehensive energy cooperation partnership". CNPC chairman Zhou Jiping, and Wu Xinxiong, head of China's National Energy Administration and deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, signed the latest deal on the China's behalf. Li Zhonghai, a researcher with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the final natural gas deal enhanced energy cooperation and improved the bilateral relationship. "The deal is a milestone," said Liu Yijun, professor with China University of Petroleum: "The east route pipeline explored natural gas import channels and guarantees energy security." "The contract reflects the final compromises from the two country's enterprises, especially in the pricing method," Liu explained. Feng Yujun, an expert on Russia, said that the deal helped Russia realize simultaneous gas supplies to Asian-Pacific and Europe, which will balance the natural gas market in Eurasia. Importing 38 billion cubic meters will satisfy China's demand for clean energy to tackle air pollution and pursue sustainable development. According to the CNPC, natural gas consumption stood at 167.6 billion cubic meters in 2013, up 13.9 percent year on year, and the annual growth rate was estimated to be 10 percent in the next few years. The deal will boost the construction of China's pipeline network, as well as fueling the economic growth and increasing job opportunities along the pipelines, Liu added. ^ top ^

Russia, China veto draft U.N. resolution on Syrian civil war (Xinhua)
2014-05-22
Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, on Thursday wielded veto power over a draft resolution which is intended to refer the Syrian civil war to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The unadopted draft resolution, proposed by France, received 13 votes in favor and two against. "The draft resolution has not been adopted owing to the negative votes of permanent members of the council," said Oh Joon, the South Korean permanent representative to the United Nations, who holds the rotating council presidency for the month of May. The Thursday vote at the 15-nation UN body made it a fourth double veto by Russia and China on a West-drafted resolution on Syria. Syria is not a state party to the Rome Statute which established the ICC, so the only way the Middle East country can be referred to The Hague-based tribunal is by the Security Council. Under the UN Charter, the adoption of a draft resolution requires nine votes in favor and the absence of a negative vote by any of the five permanent members of the Security Council. France, another permanent council member, circulated the draft resolution among the council members on May 12 in a bid to refer the Syrian civil war, current in its fourth year, to the ICC for review of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. "The Security Council reaffirms its strong condemnation of the widespread violations of human rights law by the Syrian authorities and pro-government militias, as well as the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by non-State armed groups, all committed in the course of the ongoing conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011," said the draft resolution. After the council vote, Vitaly Churkin, the Russian UN ambassador, said at the Security Council that the vetoed draft resolution, if adopted, would "lay the ground for the eventual outside military intervention" in Syria. Churkin blamed France, which initiated the draft resolution, for trying once again to "create a pretext for armed intervention in the Syrian conflict," while "fully aware of the failure it will meet" in the wake of the council vote. "It is striking that there is not a single word on the political settlement and the negotiation process among the Syrians " mentioned in a communique at the end of the May 15 meeting on Syria in London, he said. Citing the case of Libya, Churkin said the referral to the ICC would not help resolve the crisis. The Security Council has previously referred Libya and Sudan's Darfur to the ICC. "We call on our Western colleagues to abandon the futile, dead- end policy on Syria," he said. "We share their emotions caused by the crisis in Syria, which has been dragging on for far too long," Churkin said, referring to the countries sponsoring the draft resolutions. Russia has already voiced its opposition to the referral of Syria to the ICC. On Wednesday, Churkin called a "public stunt" the planned council vote. The Geneva communique, issued in June 2012 on the principles of accountability and national reconciliation in Syria, will continue to serve as the basis for "the core efforts" to strive for the political solution to the Syrian crisis, he said. "We are convinced that the justice in Syria will eventually prevail." "Those guilty of perpetrating grave crimes will be punished," he said. "But in order for this to happen, peace is first needed, first and foremost." Also speaking at the council after his vote, Wang Min, the deputy Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations, said that China "has serious difficulties" with the draft resolution. "What is most urgently needed now is to urge the government of Syria and opposition to immediately start a ceasefire and end violence so that the third round of the Geneva negotiations can be resumed to push forward the political process and start the political transition," Wang said. Little progress has been achieved at the two round of peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition in Geneva in February this year. The international community is striving for the third round of negotiations in order to bring an end to the Syrian conflict, which has reportedly left some 150,000 Syrian people dead over the past more than three years. "Under the current circumstances, to forcibly refer the situation of Syria to the ICC is neither conducive to building trust among all the parties in Syria, or to the early resumption of the negotiations in Geneva, it will only jeopardize the efforts made by the international community to push forward the political settlement," he said. "We believe that at a time when there is a serious divergence of views concerning the draft resolution among all sides, the Security Council should continue to hold the consultations, rather than forcibly push for a vote on the draft resolution, so as not to undermine the unity in the council or obstruct the coordination and cooperation in the council in dealing with the questions such as Syria and other major serious issues," he said. The Thursday vote came just days before international Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi is scheduled to step down on May 31. "It is clear in this case that no side in this tragedy is innocent," said UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, who was addressing the Security Council on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. ^ top ^

Hanoi's charges 'irresponsible' (China Daily)
2014-05-23
Beijing slammed Hanoi on Thursday for "making irresponsible accusations" against China on the international stage, following Vietnam's decision a day earlier to consider pursuing legal action over China's islands in the South China Sea. The issue is being internationalized and complicated, observers said, as Vietnam may align with the Philippines and follow Manila's example and file a case at an international court, a development one analyst said indicated a "front" was being formed against China. During a visit to Manila on Wednesday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said Hanoi was considering various "defense options" against China, including legal action, Reuters reported. Dung did not elaborate on the other options being considered, but at a joint news conference with Philippine President Benigno Aquino Dung said Vietnam and the Philippines "call on countries and the international community to continue strongly condemning China and demanding China immediately end the violations". However, Aquino did not mention the territorial tensions with China in his speech. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a news conference on Thursday that Vietnam is simply confusing right and wrong. "As for who is challenging another country's sovereignty, who is creating tensions and who is sabotaging peace and stability in the South China Sea, facts speak louder than words," Hong said. Last year, Manila submitted a case to a UN arbitration tribunal in The Hague challenging China's claims in the South China Sea. Beijing has refused to participate, insisting that the best way to resolve matters is bilateral talks. On Thursday, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said the country is closely watching how the Philippines fares in an international court over its maritime dispute with China, according to Reuters. Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said: "It is pretty obvious that Vietnam and the Philippines are forming a front to confront China on the South China Sea issue as the two countries have both been stirring trouble recently in regional waters and have demanded that ASEAN release a statement on this issue. "Beijing's measures to respond to the apparently anti-China alliance forged by Vietnam and the Philippines should vary given the different conditions of the two countries," Wu said. "Bilaterally, China and Vietnam have open and smooth communication channels, which ushers in the possibility for more diplomatic consultations to solve problem. For the Philippines, China should take multiple measures, including economic ones, to pull Manila back to the negotiating table," Wu said. Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Hanoi and Manila tend to perceive China as a common opponent and therefore share similar policy options, but it is unlikely that the two countries will frame an "anti-China coalition". "Vietnam and the Philippines have different interests in the South China Sea. They are playing different roles and have a different influence in the region," Li said. "A coalition against China will risk great damage to their ties with China, which neither of them can afford." "In the big picture, the two countries should realize that the South China Sea does not account for the entirety of relations," he added. On May 2, Vietnam sent military ships to harass Chinese oil drilling operations around Zhongjian Island in the Xisha Islands, well within China's territorial waters. Anti-China protests in Vietnam followed and soon turned violent, claiming the lives of two Chinese citizens and injuring hundreds of others. "China repeatedly asked the Vietnamese to stop the violence. However, instead, they turned a blind eye," Hong said. Hong said Vietnam should immediately end the maritime harassment, punish the perpetrators of the riots and compensate for the property damage. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China's economic planning agency outlines key reform tasks (Xinhua)
2014-05-17
China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on Saturday vowed to deepen fiscal and market reforms this year to facilitate investment, trade and provide extra momentum for urbanization, environmental protection and social reforms. In a "to-do list"-like report posted on the commission's website following a two-day meeting that focused on China's economic reforms, the NDRC outlined nine major reform priorities the country would undertake this year. The NDRC will deepen reform in its investment system by simplifying and delegating the approval process, and open more investment projects to social capital. It will also push forward price reform for resource products by letting the market play the major role in price setting, and will deepen reform in the fiscal and financial sector. The latter includes building a fully-regulated and transparent budget system and a government debt financing system, promoting reform in taxation and in the marketization of interest rates and exchange rates, and developing a multi-layer capital market. Meanwhile, reform of state-owned enterprises should also be promoted, and rules must be laid down to build a just, open and transparent market, the NDRC said, highlighting the establishment of a negative list system on market access, a social credit system and market oversight. The commission also urged for efforts to deepen reforms concerning China's urbanization drive and to facilitate investment and trade by opening the country's service sector to the foreign capital. Reforms in sectors such as education, health, culture, social insurance, housing security and income distribution should be reinforced to ensure that all Chinese citizens could better share the fruit of the country's development more fairly, the NDRC said, adding that a resource conservation and an environmental protection system should also be set up. ^ top ^

Rights lawyer Tang Jingling detained ahead of Tiananmen anniversary (SCMP)
2014-05-17
Mainland authorities detained a human rights lawyer yesterday in an ongoing clampdown on journalists, scholars and lawyers ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. Police took Tang Jingling, 43, away from his home in Guangzhou and said he was suspected of "starting quarrels and provoking trouble", according to his wife, Wang Yanfang. Tang has represented clients complaining of corruption, land seizures and other grievances. A man who answered the phone at the district police office that issued the criminal detention notice said he knew nothing about the case. He refused to give his name. Each year, Beijing detains activists or puts them under house arrest ahead of the June 4 anniversary in an attempt to prevent commemorations of the crackdown. Last week, authorities detained lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, liberal scholar Xu Youyu, activist Liu Di and two other people after they attended a private forum on the 1989 crackdown. This week, police took away Pu's aide and niece, Qu Zhenhong, on suspicion of "illegally obtaining personal information". Also taken into custody this month were a Chinese assistant at the Chongqing bureau of Japan's Nikkei newspaper said to be connected to Pu's inquiry, and Gao Yu, a veteran reporter previously jailed for her writing on the Tiananmen protests, who was accused of "leaking state secrets". Other detainees included Chen Guang, a former People's Liberation Army soldier who was deployed in 1989 near Tiananmen Square and later left the army and became a painter. He has urged authorities to allow unfettered discussion of the crackdown. Tang's wife said domestic security officers had warned him earlier not to do anything to commemorate the 1989 crackdown. Police took away two personal computers, three cellphones, an address book, greeting cards from friends and books on human rights, she said. Tang gained prominence in 2005 when he represented residents in a southern village seeking to impeach a local cadre over corruption. The effort failed, and the law firm Tang was working for came under pressure to terminate his contract, his wife said. His licence to practise law, which must be reviewed annually, then expired as no firm was allowed to hire him, his wife said. In 2006, Tang started a civil disobedience movement, urging people not to cooperate with the government by staying away from political groups, making no donations to them and refusing to take part in acts of bribery. In another case, lawyer Liu Shihui has been detained in Shanghai, according to his girlfriend, Yue Senping. She said she had yet to find out the charge against him but noted that Liu was wearing a black shirt commemorating the 1989 pro-democracy movement and was on his way to meet a rights activist before he disappeared into police custody. Liu was recently forced to relocate from Guangzhou to his hometown in the northern Inner Mongolia region. ^ top ^

Steps urged to reduce tainted food (China Daily)
2014-05-21
China must act to combat toxic funguses that destroy grain harvests, and the situation is "an invisible threat" to human health worldwide, experts said. "Prevention and control of mycotoxins is an urgent need for China and the world in guaranteeing food and environment security," said Chen Mengshan, head of the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences, at the opening ceremony of the International Mycotoxin Conference 2014 in Beijing on Tuesday. Hosted by the academy's Institute of Agro-products Processing Science and Technology, the conference drew more than 300 officials, scientists and entrepreneurs from 28 countries to share their perspectives on the global prevention and control of mycotoxins. The conference will end on Friday. With proper prevention and control measures, the country can avert economic losses in mycotoxin-contaminated food and food products, which are up to 85 billion yuan ($13.6 billion) a year, scientists said. About 31 million metric tons of grain a year - about 6.2 percent of the country's total annual grain output - are tainted by mycotoxins during production, storage and logistics, according to the State Administration of Grain. Mycotoxins are toxic fungal metabolites produced by molds, which occur frequently in areas with a hot and humid climate that is favorable for the growth of molds. The metabolites can even cause sickness or death in humans or domestic animals when ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. "It is an invisible threat for agriculture and human health across the world," said Dai Xiaofeng, director of the institute. Dai added that climate change is making an environment more suitable for mycotoxins. "While China is endeavoring to maintain at least a 1 percent increase in its annual grain output, mycotoxin pollution is creating huge waste of grain and crops," Dai said. Mycotoxin pollution exists everywhere, from production to storage, and covers a variety of plants, including grain, corn, soybeans and fruit. The Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that 25 percent of the world's crops are affected by mycotoxins every year, with annual losses reaching about 1 billion tons of foods and food products. General interest in mycotoxins rose in 1960 when a feed-related disease caused by aflatoxin, a main kind of mycotoxins, killed hundreds of thousands of turkeys in farms in England. Aflatoxins can cause liver damage and even liver cancer in humans. In 2004, more than 100 people died in Kenya after they ate aflatoxin-contaminated maize. Liu Yang, professor from the Department of Food Safety and Quality Control of the Institute of Agro-products Processing Science and Technology, said that in addition to its effect on human health, mycotoxin contamination is one of the main barriers blocking Chinese foods exported to Europe. Liu said that from 2002 to 2011, nearly 30 percent of the 2,559 rejected export cases from China to the European Union involved an excessive level of mycotoxin. "Chinese authorities regard mycotoxin prevention and control as a top priority," said Jin Fazhong, deputy director of the agriculture ministry's agro-food safety supervision department. He said a nationwide biotoxin risk assessment for agricultural products has been launched with research, funded by the government, that started in 2012. Liu, chief scientist of a national research project on mycotoxin, said his team has developed a control mechanism for mycotoxin prevention and set up a mycotoxin database in the past few years. Markus Klingler, agricultural counselor of the Delegation of the European Union to China, praised what he called China's "impressive" achievements and suggested enhancing international collaboration in combating mycotoxin. ^ top ^

Anti-graft body under the spotlight as corruption probes gather pace (SCMP)
2014-05-23
The mainland's anti-graft organisation is building a fearsome reputation as a massive campaign against corruption gains momentum. The Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) has announced investigations into at least 26 senior officials at the provincial and ministerial level since December 2012, with more to follow. But the agency's operation has remained largely a mystery to the outside world. A mainland magazine, China Economic Weekly, recently tried to shed light on its work. The CCDI's working processes include five steps - accepting a complaint, initial verification, opening the case, investigation, then a transfer to the justice system. Complaints from members of the public - usually via petitions to the Offices of Letters and Calls, the traditional bureaus that handle grievances - are the main way for the CCDI to locate corrupt officials. In September, the CCDI set up a special area on its website to encourage people to file complaints. In the past eight months, the website has received more than 74,000 complaints, more than twice the number before the service was launched. Just over 40 per cent of all investigations since 2012 were triggered by complaints from citizens, the CCDI said, making the public the most important source of information for anti-graft officials. Businessmen were likely to confess and name to investigators the officials they had bribed, the magazine quoted a senior anti-graft official as saying. "Officials must not accept bribes from businessmen as they are very likely to confess this to investigators," the agent said. Colleagues, friends or corrupt officials' lovers normally discussed the misbehaviour of corrupt officials after a certain period of detention, the official said. Once a tip-off is deemed credible, CCDI officers will try to verify the claim before reporting to their superiors. Investigations of very senior officials, such as members of the Politburo, normally require the approval of the Politburo Standing Committee. The decisions to investigate the former party chiefs of Shanghai and Chongqing, Chen Liangyu and Bo Xilai - who were among the 25 members of the Politburo - were taken by the smaller, more senior Politburo Standing Committee, the party's highest decision-making body. Chen was sacked in 2006 and jailed for 18 years in 2008 for taking 2.4 million yuan in bribes and for abuse of power. Bo was sentenced to life imprisonment last year for similar crimes. The CCDI earlier this year expanded its offices from eight to 12, significantly boosting its manpower. Chen Wenqing, deputy head of the CCDI, said each branch office had 30 inspectors, for a total of 360 inspectors. The CCDI has also instructed its officers to handle the cases more quickly. "Previously, some complex cases might last two to three years. But now the investigation process has sped up and the basic requirement is to finish the cases as soon as possible," the magazine quoted a local CCDI official as saying. "Some cases were conducted directly by the CCDI, even without informing the provincial government. The CCDI would only tell them that the suspected corrupt officials had been detained." With the boosting of its power, the CCDI also established an internal supervision office in March. At least two senior officials with the agency were put under investigation in May, including Cao Lixin and Wei Jian. Investigated officials are always put under shuanggui, a secretive and controversial extra-judicial disciplinary measure that the party imposes on its own members suspected of corruption. The experience for interrogated party members can be as brutal as it is efficient - detainees are subjected to extreme mental and physical pressure - and most corrupt officials confess eventually. According to the report, extra steps are put in place to prevent detainees committing suicide. For example, suspects are usually put in rooms no higher than the first floor. Electrical cables are concealed behind walls and toilet doors cannot be locked from inside. Officials found guilty of corruption are normally sacked from their jobs and expelled from the party, before they face any judicial proceedings. ^ top ^

China's supreme court promotes presiding judge in Bo Xilai trial (Global Times)
2014-05-23
Wang Xuguang, who presided over the high-profile trial of Bo Xilai in Ji'nan, Shandong Province, has been promoted to the Supreme People's Court, the Legal Daily reported Thursday. Bo Xilai, former secretary of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and a former member of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, was tried at Ji'nan Intermediate People's Court and sentenced to life imprisonment in August, 2013 for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. The Legal Daily listed the Bo Xilai's case as one of the top 10 legal news in 2013 and commented that the court strictly followed legal procedures and let both sides question, debate and present evidence. Because of the case, the executive vice-president of Ji'nan Intermediate Court became the focus of attention. Before the Bo trial, Wang worked for many years on civil and commercial cases. "The judge presided over the entire trial process and balanced litigation activities from both sides," Hong Daode, an expert on criminal lawsuit from the China University of Political Science and Law, told the People's Daily. ^ top ^

Woman illegally detained in mental hospital and given electric shock treatment wins lawsuit (SCMP)
2014-05-22
A woman has won a lawsuit against the police for illegally detaining her after she was sent to a mental hospital for 132 days with no psychiatric tests. Wu Chunxia, from Zhoukou, Henan, said she was subjected to horrific electric shock treatment three times a week. She now suffers from a series of health problems. Wu had first been intercepted by police while travelling to Beijing to petition the All-China Women's Federation for help with an abusive marriage in April 2008. Three months later, she was suddenly seized from her divorce hearing by police and detained for 10 days. Local authorities sentenced her to one year of "re-education through labour" without trial. But instead she was detained at a psychiatric hospital in Xinxiang, where she was treated as a paranoid schizophrenic. Now she had won a verdict from the Henan High People's Court which issued a final adjudication on the case. Wu said staff at the hospital placed electrodes on her scalp three times a week and force-fed her drugs that caused weight gain, high blood pressure among other health problems. She told the Beijing News: “The doctors told me that I had paranoid type of mental illness, and the symptoms they wrote down were 'running around and petitioning for three years'.” She added “They covered my eyes, forced me to take pills and put steel needles on my head, which were charged with electricity, three times a week.” She went on: “The harder I tried to prove I was normal, the more they said I was actually sick.” Wu said that after she tried to commit suicide several times the hospital finally released her. In 2009, after she was released, Wu sued the mental hospital and received 150,000 yuan (HK$190,000) as compensation. But she didn't stop there. “Since that, I have gained more than 20 kg and started to suffer from hypertension and hyperlipidemia. I have become infertile. I need an explanation,' said Wu. Three years later in 2012, Wu sued the branch of the police which sent her to the mental hospital. A court ruled the Zhoukou Police Bureau violated the law by sending Wu to the hospital but 10 days later the police filed an appeal to the high court. Yesterday, the high court issued the final adjudication. “I no longer have a family. My child is my husband's now. I don't know what to do next. I want to start over,” Wu said. ^ top ^

Mine tycoon, mafia-like ganglord brothers sentenced to death (China Daily)
2014-05-23
Two brothers in Southwest China's Sichuan province received death sentences on Friday after being found guilty of multiple charges, including murder and leading mafia-like gangs. Liu Han and Liu Wei, who were tried with other 34 suspects for 17 days since March 31, were sentenced to death by Xianning Intermediate People's Court in Central China's Hubei province, according to a report of China Central Television. It remains unclear whether they will appeal or not. Liu Han, 49, once ranked the 230th richest person in China, denied all the charges during the trial, and he only admitted meeting with Liu Wei after the latter became a suspect in a shooting case in which three people died in 2009. He said he knew nothing about the allegations of covering up for a criminal at that time. Prosecutors allege that from 1997 when Liu Han and Sun Xiaodong set up the Hanlong Group in Mianyang, the pair cooperated with Liu Wei, Liu Han's younger brother, in recruiting a gang of thugs, and that the group gradually developed into a "relatively stable" criminal organization. Liu Han was board chairman of the Hanlong Group, the biggest private enterprise in Sichuan. He owned tens of subsidiary companies involved in electricity, energy, finance, mining, real estate and securities. From 1993, Liu Han, Liu Wei and Sun Xiaodong, who is being dealt with in a separate case, made their money running gambling dens and dealing in construction materials and futures in Sichuan's cities of Guanghan and Chengdu as well as Shanghai and Chongqing, according to a prosecutors' statement released when the trials began on March 31. From 1997, when Liu Han and Sun Xiaodong set up the Hanlong Group in Mianyang, the two cooperated with Liu Wei in recruiting a gang of thugs, and the group gradually developed in to a relatively stable criminal organization. The organization had ten steady members and another 20 followers. Liu Han, Liu Wei and Sun were the organizers and leaders of the group. The group boasted a clear division of labor with Liu Han responsible for commanding the group and decision making, Sun implementing Liu's instructions and managing Hanlong's daily operations, and Liu Wei leading the hatchet men or "bodyguards". The group made tremendous financial gains through organized crime and became an economic force to be reckoned with. They planned and committed murders and assaults; locked up their enemies; took part in extortion, illegal trade and possession of guns; and tyrannized local people, the statement said. Earlier reports quoted Liu Han as saying that he was "unaware (of the crimes)", "irrelevant (to the activities)" and "not organizing or leading criminal organizations". ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing hospitals prepare for baby boom (China Daily)
2014-05-20
The Beijing health authority called on its top-level hospitals to reserve more beds for pregnant women with high-risk cases as more women in their late 30s plan to give birth after the capital adopted the second-child policy earlier this year. Xi Shuyan, an official from the city's health and family planning commission in charge of maternal and child health management, said last week that the commission issued a circular recently, advising capable hospitals to reserve more beds for pregnant women with critical health conditions. Healthy pregnant women will need to go to other medical institutions, she said. Experts believe the city will see a baby boom in the near future after the local government began allowing parents to have a second child if either parent is an only child. An additional 270,000 babies will be born in the city in the next five years due to the new policy, the commission estimated in February. City hospitals, whose obstetric wards are already overcrowded, are bracing for the challenge. "The number of outpatients in our obstetrics department has been increasing by 20 percent annually in recent years, hitting more than 80,000 people last year. This year the number is going to be even greater," said Zhang Fuchun, assistant president of Peking University Third Hospital. The city's health and family planning commission recommended that all pregnant women go to local healthcare providers to establish a personal profile before they register in a hospital for maternal checks and childbirth. Xi said the city is going to establish a system to monitor how many pregnant women the hospitals are receiving and will pass on such information to local healthcare providers. These providers can then direct the pregnant women to hospitals that have vacant beds. "We hope by sharing such information, pregnant women won't have to rush from hospital to hospital in order to get admitted," she said. Local healthcare providers will also conduct preliminary screenings for pregnant women, and, based on the result of the screenings, advise them in choosing a hospital. "If the screening shows that a woman faces very high risks during pregnancy or is not suitable to give birth, she will be transferred to a hospital designated to treat high-risk pregnancies or other top level hospitals," said Xi. "Otherwise, grassroots medical workers will advise her to avoid top level hospitals, which are already overcrowded." (...) ^ top ^

Capital bumps up security patrols (China Daily)
2014-05-23
The Chinese capital is rolling out a three-tier patrol plan that covers the skies, subways and streets after a series of terrorist attacks across the country. Armed patrols will be particularly strengthened in 14 major areas, the Beijing Public Security Bureau said on Thursday. The areas include two popular shopping districts, Wangfujing and Xi'dan, and the Beijing Railway Station — all places where large crowds are flowing each day. "Once an emergency happens, nearby armed police will take one minute to rush to these areas," said Zhang Bing, deputy director of Beijing Public Security Bureau. Previously, police didn't carry firearms during patrols and it took them 10 minutes to arrive. But recent terrorist attacks across the nation have highlighted the necessity for police to act fast, Zhang said. According to Zhang Limin, director of the anti-terrorism department at Beijing Public Security Bureau, police will deploy 150 armed patrol vehicles. Chen Xiaoli, director of the traffic department at Beijing Public Security Bureau, said security checks in the subways have been tightened, and 2,000 police officers and 3,000 auxiliary police have been sent to ensure police will be present at each subway station to cope with emergencies. Lin Bo, director under the bureau's police aviation department, said five police helicopters will also be deployed to conduct air security patrols along 18 routes, including city and suburban areas, as well as areas neighboring Beijing. "The helicopters will collect intelligence, or once encountering emergencies, they will immediately investigate from the air, and carry out air support and rescue for the land action." Beijing resident Zong Wenkai from Fengtai district said the measure will improve police efficiency and help deter violent and terrorist activities. "Especially in the subways where the police will be present in each station, I feel so safe," he said. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

'Naked official' in Guangzhou reportedly under investigation (China Daily)
2014-05-23
Fang Xuan, former deputy Party chief of Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, is under investigation because of his status as a luoguan, or "naked official", Hong Kong media reported on Thursday. Officials with Guangdong's provincial commission of discipline inspection refused to confirm whether Fang has been placed under investigation. Luoguan describes officials whose spouses and children have left China. Fang is the first and highest ranking official forced to prematurely retire because of his luoguan status in Guangdong. Local media reported that he was instructed to resign last month, but they did not reveal where Fang's spouse and children have emigrated. Hu Chunhua, Party chief of Guangdong province, promised in March to take measures to investigate luoguan according to Party regulations. According to media reports, Guangdong began investigating luoguan since the end of last year by asking officials to report their properties, the employment status of spouses and children and exit and entry records. Luoguan will be dismissed or asked to retire early if they refuse to ask their family members to give up their overseas residence permits. According to Hong Kong media, many Party and government officials in cities in the Pearl River Delta have asked their spouses to return to the mainland and resume their household registrations after Fang's case was exposed. Zhou Tianming, former deputy head of Foshan, a prosperous city 20 kilometers from Guangzhou, was demoted to deputy mayor of Yunfu, a remote city in western Guangdong, last December. Hong Kong media said Zhou, who had worked in Foshan for decades, is a luoguan. Liu Hai, Party chief of Jiangmen, has asked his wife, who lives in Hong Kong, to give up her Hong Kong residence permit, and Liang Weidong, Party chief of Shunde district of Foshan, has asked his family members to give up their foreign residence permits, Hong Kong media reported. More than 30 officials township officials have also been forced to retire or have been transferred to nominal posts in Dongguan when they were found to be luoguan, according to Hong Kong media. Zhang Yiri, an associate professor from Guangzhou City Polytechnic, said the central government's policy to prevent luoguan from being promoted has been significant in fighting corruption. "Luoguan's patriotism and resistance to corruption must be questioned when they are alone in the mainland," Zhang said. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Top political advisor stresses religion-socialism harmony (Xinhua)
2014-05-19
During a visit to a Tibetan prefecture, top Chinese political advisor Yu Zhengsheng urged efforts to harmonize religion with socialist society and ensure stability. Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks during a two-day inspection tour to the Diqing Tibetan autonomous prefecture in southwest China's Yunnan Province that ended on Saturday. Yu urged further work to implement the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee's decisions regarding the Tibetan areas and to improve people's lives and promote comprehensive social development and long-term prosperity and stability in such areas. Moreover, Yu said the relationship between development and stability should be properly balanced. During his inspection, Yu visited local Tibetan communities and families. He chatted with local people and listened to their comments about social security, pensions, medicare and employment. "The fundamental purpose to accelerate development in Tibetan areas is to improve people's livelihoods, and that should be regarded as a key benchmark to evaluate the quality of development," Yu said. Yu said more funds and projects should be invested in farming and husbandry areas as well as grassroots units to increase the income of Tibetan farmers and herders. When visiting a secondary school, Yu called on local schools to advance the bilingual Tibetan-Han teaching and to educate students to love the Party, the country and the Chinese nation. Yu also visited representatives of local Buddhist circles, pledging to fully implement the CPC's policies to ensure religious freedom and administer religious affairs in accordance with the law. The government and officials should unite religious followers, respect their beliefs and understand their customs, he said, adding that their legitimate rights and interests should be protected. Yu called for efforts to help Buddhists recognize the nature and harm of the "middle way approach" and "high degree of autonomy" advocated by the 14th Dalai Lama clique. He called on the Buddhists to oppose all secession attempts and acts intended to sabotage the CPC's leadership and socialist system, urging them to resolutely safeguard national and ethnic unity as well as social stability and harmony. ^ top ^

Tibet on track to become global tourist attraction (China Daily)
2014-05-23
Tourism increased in the Tibet autonomous region in the first four months of the year, as the region aspires to become a world-class travel destination. The region had more than 830,000 tourists from January through April, a year-on-year increase of 23.4 percent, the regional tourism bureau said on Tuesday. Foreign tourists numbered 20,000, an increase of 10.3 percent, and the number of domestic tourists was 810,000, an increase of 23.8 percent. Meanwhile, the revenue generated by the tourism industry was 926 million yuan ($148.4 million), an increase of 26.2 percent, it said. Karral Millar, 62, an Australian tourist, said she had a good time in Tibet. "It's wonderful. It's been three days now. We have visited the Potala Palace and many temples, and we are learning new things about Tibetan Buddhism and history," Millar said on Tuesday. Cycling has become a popular way to tour the region in recent years, as many tourists want to have close contact with the natural scenery and culture of Tibet. "It's my second time in Tibet. I am absolutely impressed with the natural scenery and unique culture. I feel as if I am at home here," said Liu Xiaojun, from Hebei province. "I am also overwhelmed with the hospitality and politeness of the local people," said Liu, adding that he plans to make a bicycle tour to Zhangmu Port in Tibet's Xigaze prefecture. Many businesses near the scenic spots in Lhasa see the coming of summer peak season as a harvest. "Compared with the same period last year, we had more guests this year. We have 62 rooms, and more than half are booked every day," said India, 41, a receptionist at the Kyichu Hotel, a Nepalese hotel in Lhasa. Tibet received more than 12 million tourists from home and abroad lastar. The region hopes to have 15 million tourists this year. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Chinese police blame ETIM separatist group for deadly Urumqi attack (SCMP)
2014-05-19
Police blamed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for a train station attack in Urumqi last month that killed three people, Xinhua said on yesterday, the first time the separatist group has been directly linked to the assault. Seventy-nine people were also injured in the attack late last month. Until now officials had said the attack in the troubled Xinjiang region, home to the Muslim Uygur ethnic group, was carried out by two religious extremists who were also killed in the blast. Xinhua cited the region's publicity department as saying that ETIM member Ismail Yusup had planned the attack outside China. "On April 22, he ordered 10 partners in Xinjiang to prepare to strike," Xinhua said. The 10 set off explosives and slashed people with knives at the exit of the South Railway Station of Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, Xinhua said. Two members of the group, Saderdin Sawut and Memetabudula Ete, were killed by the explosion, and the eight others were caught by police, Xinhua said. Mainland police were hunting Yusup in cooperation with the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) Xinhua said. The agency reported that an investigation had shown that the main members of the gang started to preach Islamic extremism in 2005. Yusup fled abroad after becoming wanted by police for making explosives and joined the ETIM in 2013. Officials in Xinjiang could not be reached for comment. An Islamist militant group called the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), which Beijing equates with the ETIM, claimed responsibility for the attack, the SITE Monitoring service, which tracks Islamist militants, has said. Xinjiang has been beset by violence for years and recent attacks, some of which Beijing has called terrorism, have unnerved the country. More than 100 people have been killed in unrest in the region in the past year. But some of the Turkic-speaking Uygurs chafe at restrictions on their culture, language and religion, though the government insists it grants them freedoms. ^ top ^

39 sentenced for inciting violence in Xinjiang (Global Times)
2014-05-23
Thirty-nine people have been sentenced to up to 15 years imprisonment for inciting violence in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region within the last two months, the regional higher court said on Wednesday. Yu Huitang, spokesman with the Xinjiang Regional Higher People's Court, said the guilty were sentenced in 16 separate trials since March 31 for spreading videos that incited violence, organizing and taking part in terrorist activities, advocating ethnic hatred and illegally manufacturing firearms. Yu said organized terrorist crimes have become a priority for the court. China has witnessed a surge in the number of terror attacks under the name of Islam, which have caused deaths and serious losses. In the latest cases, three people were killed and 79 injured in an attack on April 30 at a railway station in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital. Earlier in March, assailants killed 29 civilians and injured another 143 at a railway station in the southwestern city of Kunming. A police investigation found evidence linking the crimes to Xinjiang separatists.
Yu said separatists from home and abroad have resorted to Internet communication methods and mobile storage devices to incite activities. He said courts, procuratorate, public security, cultural, industry and commerce departments in Xinjiang have launched a concerted combat against the illegal spreading of video and audio that incites violence. He said the sentences are a warning to those who have religious extremist thoughts and intend to incite violence. ^ top ^

Xinjiang attack that leaves 31 dead denounced as 'violent terrorist incident' (SCMP)
2014-05-23
At least 31 people were killed and more than 90 injured in an attack yesterday on a street market in Xinjiang. Two off-road vehicles ploughed into people in the regional capital, Urumqi, and unidentified assailants threw explosives, Xinhua reported. The cars then crashed head-on and one exploded. The authorities did not identify the suspects. It was not clear who was behind the violence, but the authorities have blamed a series of attacks in public places in recent weeks on Muslim ethnic-Uygur separatists from Xinjiang. Yesterday's incident in North Gongyuan Street was the bloodiest single act of violence in the restive northwestern region since about 200 people were killed in clashes in Urumqi in 2009 between Uygurs and ethnic Han Chinese. The Ministry of Public Security described it as a "serious violent terrorist incident". And President Xi Jinping called for those behind the incident to be severely punished. The injured were sent to hospitals for treatment and the scene was sealed off for several hours. Photographs posted on social media showed injured people on the ground, with clothes and other items strewn across the street. Fan Fangfang, who owns a small supermarket in North Gongyuan Street near the scene of the blasts, said that she had been woken by loud bangs. "I heard at least six or seven explosions. It sounded horrible," she said. "I didn't dare to go out to have a look." Fan said the makeshift market's customers and vendors were mainly Han Chinese and that more than 100 sellers set up their stalls in an 800-metre-long section of the street. "The people who come here are innocent ordinary people: housewives, retired people and hard-working market sellers. Why and who would attack us in this way?" she said. "Where can I go to be safe in the city in the future? Nowhere will be safe. I feel very worried." A number of crowded public places have been targeted on the mainland in recent months. A bomb and knife attack at the end of last month at the main railway station in Urumqi killed one bystander and wounded 79 people. Two attackers also died. Security in the city has been tightened since the attack, which happened as Xi was ending a visit to the region. Twenty-nine people were stabbed to death at a train station in Kunming in March. In October, a car burst into flames in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, killing five people, in what the government said was a terrorist attack. Tensions between Han Chinese and Uygurs in Xinjiang have been simmering for years. Human rights organisations and Uygur exiles say curbs on their language, culture and religion have created anger, a claim that Beijing rejects. Security in the city has been tightened since the attack, which happened as Xi was ending a visit to the region. Twenty-nine people were stabbed to death at a train station in Kunming in March. In October, a car burst into flames in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, killing five people, in what the government said was a terrorist attack. Tensions between Han Chinese and Uygurs in Xinjiang have been simmering for years. Human rights organisations and Uygur exiles say curbs on their language, culture and religion have created anger, a claim that Beijing rejects. ^ top ^

China's police chief calls for severe punishment on Xinjiang terrorist attackers (Xinhua)
2014-05-23
China's minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun on Thursday called for doing utmost to treat the injured people in Xinjiang terrorist attack, and severely punishing those terrorists. Guo, also a state councilor and leader of the national anti-terrorism leadership group, went to Urumqi immediately after the deadly attack. The attack on a market in Urumqi left at least 31 dead and 94 injured on Thursday morning. Two vehicles, without license plates, broke through roadside fences and plowed into people at an open-air market at Gongyuanbei Street near Renmin Park at 7:50 a.m. and explosive devices were set off. Evidence on the scene of the crime showed that it was a premeditated and organized terrorist attack. After checking the scene and learning the process of the crime, Guo held a meeting in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region's publicity department, deploying the investigation of the case. He said the incident showed the terrorists' nature of anti-human and anti-society, calling for making a thorough investigation of the case quickly, and severely punishing the terrorists in accordance with law. "The case warned us that we should keep a vigilant eye on anti-terrorist work, and take an iron-handed attitude to launch a special campaign against terrorism in Xinjiang," said Guo. Guo went to the People's Hospital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), visiting the injured people in the attack, and conveyed President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang's regards. He urged medical staff and related departments to spare no efforts to treat the injured people. Guo also urged to make all efforts to safeguard social stability, strengthen integrated prevention and control measures, and further screen potential dangers. He also called for strengthened armed patrol in crowded places, control of dangerous and explosive items, and severely punish all kinds of serious crimes. Guo urged the local authorities to rely on the people and the grassroots. Guo urged officials to keep a clear mind and a firm stance in the complicated situation, and do more to promote ethnic unity. On Thursday night, Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, also held an emergency video conference to address the Xinjiang incident. Meng called for a more resolute attitude and more forceful measures to be taken to crack down on terrorists. ^ top ^

International community strongly condemn Urumqi terror attack (Global Times)
2014-05-23
Strong condemnation of the terrorist attack that claimed over 31 lives in China's northwestern city of Urumqi poured in from the international community on Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to the victims of the attack, which took place at a morning market earlier on Thursday and left 94 injured, via a message to Chinese President Xi Jinping. In the message, Putin strongly condemned the bloody crime, saying he hoped the organizers will be found and prosecuted, and confirmed Moscow's interest in further strengthening Russia-China cooperation in fighting terrorism and extremism. Putin also sent condolences to the relatives of those killed and wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the attack. Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday condemned in the strongest terms the killing and injuring of many innocent people. Karzai offered his heartfelt condolences to the people and government of China and called the attack "an act by the enemies of peace and stability who don't want to see our region grow secure, stable and developed." The president stressed that the Afghan people, more so than others, can well understand such pains and grief as they have long been victims of terrorist attacks. He also expressed his deep condolences to the families of the victims and wished a quick recovery to those injured. The South African government condemned all forms and manner of terrorism. "We believe that terrorism in any form and from whichever quarter cannot be condoned," the country's Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement. France, Hungary and Greece, as well as the European Union (EU), also lashed out at the terrorist activity and showed sympathy with those who fell victim, with the EU branding it a "senseless act of violence." French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal expressed his country's solidarity with the government and the people of China in this ordeal. Hungary was shocked by the Urumqi attack, stressing that terrorist activities targeting innocent civilians are severe crimes and can not be accepted under any circumstances. Greece also strongly condemned the act, expressing solidarity with the Chinese people. "We condemn in the most unequivocal manner the deadly terrorist attack carried out today in China, in the city of Urumqi, in the Xinjiang region," Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in a statement released by the ministry. "We express our solidarity with the Chinese people and our condolences to the families of the victims, and we wish those who were injured a speedy recovery," he added. "The European Union condemns this senseless act of violence and extends its heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends of the victims," Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told Xinhua on Thursday. Australia's ambassador to China, Frances Adamson, has joined the global chorus of condemnation, reporting that the Australian government is concerned by reports of the explosions in Urumqi. "We extend our condolences and deepest sympathy to the victims of the attack and their families," she said. "The Australian government deplores all forms of terrorism and condemns any attack on innocent people." Pakistan also voiced its condemnation and showed sympathy with the government and the people of China. Iran said acts of violence and extremism targeting innocent people anywhere in the world are condemned and such moves have no connection with the principles of Islam at all, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said. Vietnam strongly condemned the terrorist attack and extended deep condolences to the Chinese people and relatives of the victims. Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said he hoped that the culprits would be brought to justice. Also on Thursday, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Secretary-General Dmitry Mezentsev condemned the violence, expressing the SCO's strong indignation and deep sorrow. "We express deep-felt condolence to the victims and convey sincere solace to relatives of the victims and the injured people, " Mezentsev said in a statement. It is the priority of the SCO to fight terrorism, the statement said, adding the international community should further boost cooperation to combat terrorist activities effectively. The Palestinian presidency condemned the terrorist attack. "We condemn with the strongest words this heinous crime," Nemer Hammad, political advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas told Xinhua. "We support our Chinese friends, and wish speedy recovery to the injured, as well as prosperity, safety and stability to the people of China," Hammad added. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China has the confidence and capability to crack down upon the audacious terrorists. "The violence, a further indication of the terrorists' anti-human, anti-society and anti-civilization nature, should be condemned by the Chinese people and society," Hong said. In response to the attack, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to severely punish terrorists and spare no efforts in maintaining stability, asking local authorities to solve the case quickly, put the injured under proper care and offer condolences to families of the victims. Two vehicles, without license plates, broke through roadside fences and plowed into people at an open air market in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Thursday morning. Explosive devices were set off, causing the deaths of at least 31 people and injuring 94 others. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Sun sets on joint Hong Kong-Shenzhen solar project (SCMP)
2014-05-23
The first-ever collaborative project between Hong Kong and Shenzhen to create solar cells for power generation will come to an end this year after a subsidiary of American chemical giant DuPont pulled out. The project's end came with the announcement from DuPont's local subsidiary, DuPont Apollo, that it was stopping production in the region of silicon thin-film modules, which are used in solar cells. That dealt a blow to cross-border efforts to establish the region as a hub for the research, development and production of solar power technology. The partnership, called the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation Circle, sought to create research and development facilities in Hong Kong for the technology that would be manufactured in Shenzhen. It was established in 2008 at the invitation of the Hong Kong and Shenzhen governments as part of the central government's 11th five-year plan. Thin-film solar cells use thin photovoltaic material, such as might be found on a solar calculator, deposited on a substrate. DuPont Apollo had aspired to become one of the world's top three providers of thin-film photovoltaic modules by next year. Its versatile thin-film products were cheaper to produce as it uses much less silicon than rival crystalline panels. In 2009, it still expected the photovoltaic market to grow exponentially. But a year later, an oversupply of silicon lowered the prices of rival modules, making the technology less competitive. DuPont Apollo ran the project's production facilities in Shenzhen and a research and development centre at the Hong Kong Science Park in Tai Po. News of the closure came as Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was seeking support for a technology bureau to take charge of the city's lagging hi-tech and science development. DuPont Apollo chairman Chuck Xu Chengzeng cited a flagging market for the decision to pull the plug on the project. "The state of the silicon thin-film solar module market segment has changed dramatically in recent years and market conditions for this segment continue to deteriorate," he said. Expressing regret over the decision, a spokeswoman for the Science Park said: "We understand and respect this tough business decision made against the backdrop of technology shift and the extremely challenging climate for amorphous thin-film solar module manufacturers." She said DuPont Apollo would hand back the research and development facility, opened in 2009, to the Science Park when the lease expired in August. About 100 scientists and engineers would be transferred within the group or paid to leave, a person with knowledge of the operation said. The production facility in Shenzhen, which came into full operation in 2010, will be suspended but the person believed the factory might be modified for new uses. DuPont Apollo boosted its nominal and paid capital to HK$804 million from HK$664 million in January. The extra shares were issued to DuPont China. ^ top ^

38 passengers injured as two boats collide off Hong Kong (Xinhua)
2014-05-23
A ferry collided with a boat on the sea area off Hong Kong's Cheung Chau Island on Wednesday night, injuring at least 38 people, local media reported. Police and firefighters have rushed to the scene to help in the rescue work. The ferry, which left Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry Pier at 10:30 p.m., was heading for Macao when the collision happened. So far it is unknown how many passengers were on board the ferry. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Portuguese President visits Macao (Xinhua)
2014-05-17
Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva arrived in Macao Saturday afternoon for a two-day visit. Chui Sai On, chief executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region, met Silva at the Government Headquarters, where the Amendment to the Cooperation Framework Agreement between the two sides was signed. Silva spoke highly of the economic and social development of Macao, saying "I'm glad to see Macao has achieved a strong economic growth, social development and political stability." "That's the best proof that the choice made in the Joint Declaration (of China and Portugal on the question of Macao) and transcribed for the Basic Law was the right choice," he told the media after the meeting. He said cooperation between Portugal and Macao would become stronger in the future in many domains. In the evening, Cavaco Silva presented a Grand Cross of the Order of Merit to Chui at the residence of the Consulate General of Portugal in Macao. During his stay in Macao, Cavaco Silva will visit the Ruins of St. Paul's, some schools and colleges. This is the last leg of Silva's week-long visit to China, which also brought him to Shanghai and Beijing. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Three die in Taipei subway attack (Xinhua)
2014-05-23
Three people have died and more than 20 were injured in a random subway attack in Taipei City on Wednesday afternoon. The dead include two men and a woman. All the injured have been sent to the hospital, according to local police. A young man allegedly began to assault passengers with a sharp knife in a carriage at about 4:30 p.m. when the train was traveling from Longshan Temple station to Jiangzicui station. He then tried to run away. He was captured by police and is under interrogation. Police said that the man is a 21-year-old college student and smelled of alcohol. ^ top ^

 

Economy

APEC ministers' agreements include completed road map for free trade (China Daily)
2014-05-19
Asia-Pacific region trade ministers made "a series of important agreements" at their two-day meeting, including finalizing a road map for the creation of a free trade area, senior officials said on Sunday. "We recognize the importance of demonstrating the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation's leadership and commitment to regional economic integration, and developing a pragmatic guide to advance work toward a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in a step-by-step approach," said the Qingdao Statement, released at the conclusion of the meeting. "We agree on the development of the road map for APEC's contribution to the realization of an FTAAP. We instruct officials to finalize the road map in 2014." As China is APEC host this year, the ministers' meeting was held on Saturday and Sunday in Qingdao, Shandong province. The meeting was a precursor to the economic leaders' meeting in November in Beijing. In addition to the Qingdao Statement, ministers from the 21 economies also adopted a stand-alone statement: Continuing Support for the Multilateral Trading System. Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said at the closing ceremony of the meeting that ministers reiterated continuing support for the multilateral trading system. They also agreed to make concrete moves to advance regional economic integration and the FTAAP, including a new Committee on Trade and Investment Friends of the Chair Group, an APEC information-sharing mechanism on regional trade agreements and free trade agreements. The ministers also made progress in formulating an APEC Blueprint on Connectivity, and continue work on advancing APEC cooperation in physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity. Alan Bollard, executive director of the APEC Secretariat, told China Daily that the meeting was notable as it included detailed proposals. "This year's meeting was more active than past ones. I am satisfied with the outcomes," he said. "The road map is significant and a big progress as it translates the FTAAP from a vision into actual moves this year. One more highlight is the connectivity blueprint — getting the region together on infrastructure, on different regular trade arrangements." Yao Weiqun, associate president of the Shanghai WTO Affairs Consultation Center, said that the two-day meeting laid out "a good foundation for the APEC development in the next decade". "What's left is action," Yao said. A.V. Ulyukayev, Russian minister of economic development, said that the biggest achievement of the meeting is the decision by all the member economies to support a liberal attitude on foreign trade as opposed to protectionism, and to start the FTAAP feasibility study as soon as possible. Xie Chuanjiao contributed to this story. "I also expressed an expectation for joint efforts on advancing the Asia-Pacific free trade area, the regional comprehensive economic partnership and also the early harvest of the expansion of the information technology agreement. I also hope China can provide a favorable environment for Japanese enterprises." ^ top ^

Bond sale program expanded (Global Times)
2014-05-19
China will allow 10 provinces and cities to sell municipal bonds later this year, as part of an effort to broaden financing channels for debt-ridden local governments, a media report said on Monday. East China's Shandong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, South China's Guangdong Province and two less-developed provinces in the central and western regions are on the list, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Monday, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Beijing and Shanghai municipalities, Shenzhen and another city on the eastern coast of China are also included, and the central government will unveil the plan later this month, with the bonds set to be issued as early as July, according to the WSJ. The Ministry of Finance was not available for comment on Monday. The news, if true, indicates an expansion of a pilot program that started in 2011, Liu Xiao, a senior analyst at Beijing-based Anbound Consulting, told the Global Times on Monday. In late 2011, China started a program to allow Shanghai, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Shenzhen to sell bonds directly, within a budget plan approved by the State Council and with credit backing from the central government. Jiangsu and Shandong were added to the list in 2013. "Expanding the pilot program is also in line with the country's latest urbanization plan," Liu said. A plan released in March by the State Council said that local governments would be allowed to raise money through direct selling of bonds to fund the local urbanization process. Unlike the previous practice, the local authorities' sale of bonds may be backed by their own credit, and the interest rate will be higher than for treasury bonds in order to attract investors, while also reflecting the lower credit security of local governments compared to the central government, Liu said. "It is likely that the local government bonds will be sold to individual investors as well as to financial institutions," he said. "The move is intended to ease the pressure of local government debt," Han Changji, a property analyst at CIC Research Center, told the Global Times on Monday. Direct sale of bonds will broaden local governments' financing channels, avoid potential risks from opaque shadow banking activities, and also lower the governments' reliance on revenue from land sales, Han noted. As local governments are normally not allowed to raise money by issuing bonds, they use local government financing vehicles to borrow massively from less regulated off-balance-sheet sources, which has led to swelling debts and greater risk of default. The real estate market has been cooling since early this year, sparking growing concerns about defaults. Annual growth in new home prices fell to an 11-month low in April, and second-hand home prices slumped month-on-month in 22 of 70 major cities in April, compared with 14 in March, official data showed on Sunday. "Cities with high [property] inventories will see further declines in home prices. The land market will cool and land prices will soften. Some developers and local governments will face greater financial strains," Barclays Capital told the Global Times in a research note on Monday. Local authorities rely heavily on revenue from land sales to repay their debts, which stood at 17.9 trillion yuan by the end of June 2013, up 67 percent from 2010, official data showed. Part of the problem is that local governments have to incur new debts in order to repay old ones, which further inflates the existing debt, Han said. In the case of a bond default, the local governments will have the obligation to repay investors with fiscal revenues or through selling local assets, and bond investors will have to take on default risks too, he said. ^ top ^

China to fuel capital market's sound expansion (Xinhua)
2014-05-19
China will continue striving for capital market reform to preserve the rights of medium and small investors and pursue sound development, a senior securities official said Monday. Xiao Gang, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), said that a multi-level equity market should be established as soon as possible. He mentioned exploring new stock transactions and changes to the ChiNext Index, a Nasdaq-style board of growth enterprises, with easier financial access and special sector for high-tech enterprises. Xiao urged better performances by listed companies to set solid example for the whole capital market, in areas such as timely information disclosure, commitment delivering and equity incentives. The initial public offerings, acquisition and delisting will be pushed forward to stabilize and improve the market circumstance. Xiao said that about 100 new shares will be issued from June to the end of this year, with strict supervision and severe punishment for accounts manipulation or false disclosure. He stressed establishing and promoting regular delisting system, allowing the listed companies to apply and forcing the ones with fraud issuance to delist. The CSRC will boost the private placement, futures market, securities services with less administrative approvals and more risk controls and supervision, in order to guarantee investors legal rights, Xiao added. ^ top ^

Home prices spurring a panic or patience? (China Daily)
2014-05-20
Property prices across China, often seen as a barometer of the overall health of the economy, are once again on the front pages. But this time, a real sense of panic appears to be the main message. Across more and more second- and third-tier cities, prices have been as much as halved in some cases amid reports of overcapacity and a collapse in demand. But is this really the beginning of the bursting of a far bigger property bubble across China, or is it simply a reflection of a slightly hasty and badly thought out construction craze outside of China's first-tier cities? Before attempting to examine this question, it is essential to present briefly the nature of China's miraculous economic emergence over the past 20 to 30 years. Of course, massive gains in prosperity have been achieved, but such has been the breakneck speed of this advancement in riches that, at this moment in time, an extremely unbalanced level of development is the result. First-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have enjoyed an unparalleled economic boom in comparison with China's numerous provincial capitals and smaller cities. It must be highlighted here that this is not just a property boom but major development of all aspects of urban infrastructure such as transportation, health and education. It is still the case that far more than 60 percent of all inbound foreign direct investment is attracted to the top-tier cities and nearby areas. Career opportunities, especially the more lucrative international business opportunities, remain solely a first-tier city attraction. Average salaries outside first-tier cities rarely reach 50 percent of those inside. As a result, it is hopelessly misguided and even fatuous to "lump" together one apparently cohesive Chinese property market. As most markets emerge and progress, so does the need for accurate segmentation. It is, therefore, critical to introduce several economic and infrastructure-related segmentation variables in order to dissect China's property market effectively and assess any extent to which a "bubble" is apparent. ^ top ^

US extends antidumping duties on Chinese graphite electrodes (Xinhua)
2014-05-23
A US trade panel voted Wednesday to extend antidumping duties on small diameter graphite electrodes from China after the first five-year review of the measures imposed initially in 2009. The US International Trade Commission (USITC) voted against revoking the existing duty orders on small diameter graphite electrodes from China, with a nominal or actual diameter of 400 millimeters or less, saying it "would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time." The US Commerce Department is required to remove an antidumping or countervailing duty order, or terminate a suspension agreement, after five years unless the department and the USITC vote against it, according to the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. The United States initially issued antidumping duty orders on imports of small diameter graphite electrodes from China in 2009. The Commerce Department agreed to institute the first five-year review of the measures early this year and later determined that revocation of the existing duty orders on small diameter graphite electrodes from China would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping, with the dumping margin of 132.9 percent to 159.64 percent. The USITC voted to conduct expedited reviews of the existing duties on Chinese small diameter graphite electrodes last month. Beijing has repeatedly urged Washington to honor its commitment against protectionism and work with China to maintain a free, open and just trade environment. ^ top ^

Beijing, Shanghai lead Asian cities in economic influence: survey (Xinhua)
2014-05-22
Beijing and Shanghai are among the world's five most economically influential cities, surpassing any other Asian cities including Singapore and Tokyo, a report revealed Thursday. Among the 30 major cities measured, Beijing ranks second in "economic power", with a tiny margin to the No.1, London, while Shanghai follows New York and Paris to rank the fifth, according to the report released by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The report said Beijing's high ranking was due to its strong performance in GDP growth, attraction to multinational companies and foreign direct investment as well as high employment rate in financial services. The report also ranked these cities according to other indicators such as intellectual capital, technology readiness, environmental sustainability, cultural vitality and quality of life. The Chinese capital also ranked second in terms of its openness as a global hub, thanks to the number of hotel rooms, passenger flows, airport-to-downtown convenience and number of international meetings. Beijing scores poorly in environment protection, quality of life and living cost. It is the most expensive city to live in among the listed 30 cities, according to the report. ^ top ^

Chinese firm wins Bangladesh mega bridge project (Xinhua)
2014-05-23
The Bangladeshi government has awarded a Chinese firm a 1.55-billion-U.S. dollars contract to build core structure of the country's biggest bridge project. Bangladesh's cabinet committee on purchase Thursday approved the China Major Bridge Engineering Company Limited's bid to construct the core structure of the Padma bridge project, which is to begin by November this year and be completed in four years. The proposed 25-meter-wide and 10-km-long bridge will be built over Padma River, one of the three major rivers in Bangladesh. About 6.15 km of the bridge will be built over the river while the remaining part on both banks. Apart from connecting nearly 30 million people in Bangladesh's southwest region to the rest of the country, the bridge will enhance regional trade and collaboration along the Asian highway No.1 and the Trans-Asian railway network. "We'll sign an agreement with the Chinese firm next month," Bangladeshi Finance Minister AMA Muhith told journalists after the cabinet committee's meeting. He said the Chinese firm will give a 100-year guarantee for the bridge. The Bangladeshi government on June 26 last year floated international bids for construction of the stalled Padma Multipurpose Bridge. The World Bank in June 2012 canceled its funding for the project, saying it had "credible evidence corroborated by a variety of sources which points to a high-level corruption conspiracy among Bangladeshi government officials, SNC Lavalin executives and private individuals in connection with the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project." Finance Minister AMA Muhith in September last year said the integrity unit of the World Bank should seek unconditional apology to Bangladesh government for its false corruption charges about the tender of Padma bridge. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

NK offers apology for 'unimaginable' apartment collapse (Global Times)
2014-05-19
Senior North Korean officials have publicly apologized for an "unimaginable" accident at an apartment construction site, state media said Sunday, a rare admission of culpability by the hardliner state. South Korean officials said the incident involved the collapse of a 23-story apartment building in Pyongyang's Pyongchon district, which already had close to 100 families in residence. It is extremely unusual for the North to report negative news of this type, and its official KCNA news agency also reported equally rare apologies from top officials. Leader Kim Jong-Un "sat up all night, feeling painful" after being told about the accident, the agency said. The accident happened last Tuesday and was the result of "irresponsible" supervision by officials in charge of construction, KCNA reported. An intensive operation had been mounted to rescue survivors and treat the wounded, it said. It did not give a figure for the number of dead or injured but said the accident left Pyongyang citizens "greatly shocked." The agency carried lengthy public apologies by senior officials including the Minister of People's Security, Choe Pu-Il. "(Choe) repented of himself, saying that he failed to find out factors that can put at risk the lives and properties of the people and to take thoroughgoing measures, thereby causing an unimaginable accident," it said. A South Korean official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the incident involved the collapse of a 23-storey apartment complex. "It is common in North Korea that people move into a new apartment building before construction officially ends," the official told AFP. The official said 92 families were believed to be living in the collapsed building, and the final death toll was likely to be "considerable." Among those making a public apology were Kim Su-Gil, chief secretary of the city committee of the ruling Workers' Party. He said Kim Jong-Un had "instructed leading officials of the party, state and the army to rush to the scene, putting aside all other affairs and command the rescue operation." The state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper also published Sunday a rare photo of an unidentified official bowing deeply in apology towards hundreds of people who gathered at what appeared to be a construction site. The rare official apology appears to be aimed at portraying Kim as a "sincere leader who pays great attention to public sentiment," said Kim Yong-Hyun, professor of North Korean studies at Seoul's Dongguk University. ^ top ^

NK fires shells near SK warship in Yellow Sea, island evacuated (Global Times)
2014-05-23
North Korea on Thursday fired shells into waters near a South Korean warship on patrol south of the disputed Yellow Sea border, prompting an evacuation of residents on a nearby island, officials said. Two shells fell near the South Korean ship, which was sailing near the front-line island of Yeonpyeong, the South's defense ministry said. "North Korea fired shells which fell near our ship, but it did not cause any damage to our ship," a ministry spokesman told AFP. The North's move began at 6 pm, prompting a response from the South Korean vessel which fired several rounds into North Korean territorial waters, he said. The North's military threatened Wednesday to attack South Korean warships "without any warning" if there was even a "trifle" violation of the maritime border. The threat came a day after a South Korean naval ship fired warning shots to stop an incursion by three North Korean patrol boats across the sea. The South's navy urged the North to stop "absurd threats" and warned: "We will mercilessly punish any provocative actions by North Korea." The North does not recognize the Yellow Sea border, the scene of brief but bloody naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and 2009. In addition, in November 2010, North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong island, killing four South Koreans and briefly triggering concerns of a full-scale conflict. In March, the North fired hundreds of shells in a live exercise near the sea boundary. About 100 shells dropped into South Korean territorial waters, and the South responded with volleys of shells into North Korean waters. Cross-border tension has been high for months, amid signs that the nuclear-armed North may be preparing to conduct a fourth atomic test. The two Koreas have upped the rhetorical ante in their verbal exchanges over crashed surveillance drones recovered in South Korean. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Government of Mongolia revises new state policy to adhere on science and technology (Info Mongolia)
2014-05-19
At the Cabinet meeting held on May 16, 2014, the state policy to adhere on science and technology was reviewed and agreed to submit to the State Great Khural (Parliament). The country's economic and social developments' tendencies have been changing and in the scope of the new policy to adhere, the country's economic development should not rely on its minerals wealth and mining, instead should develop based on knowledge. In the state policy ratified in 1988, it was emphasized maintaining the capacity of science and technology sectors to transfer into a market economy following the economic transition, so the new policy focused to fully utilize the power and resources that have been already generated and provide with creative and comprehensive maintenance goals. The new policy also underlines to provide Mongolian national sustainable development and security, to improve competitiveness and increase the role of science in order to expand economic sectors based on knowledge. In the frameworks, science and technology cluster, parks and a town will be erected, also it includes to establish technological exchanges and integrated database that would meet current requirements. In addition, to increase the number of qualified research personnel and engage scientists and researchers working abroad, create a system of supporting young scientists by providing grants and scholarships. If the draft bill is approved, the science and technology sector would meet market needs, and demands of society and the economy, consistent with competitive bidding would reach a new stage of development, and existing legal documents would be amended in accordance with the policy legal opportunity. By establishing a science park, high technology and product innovation would be increased in the gross domestic product. ^ 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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