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
  7-13.6.14, No. 528  
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Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China plans artificial island in disputed Spratlys chain in South China Sea (SCMP)
2014-06-08
China is looking to expand its biggest installation in the Spratly Islands into a fully formed artificial island, complete with airstrip and sea port, to better project its military strength in the South China Sea, a Chinese scholar and a Chinese navy expert have said. The planned expansion on the disputed Fiery Cross Reef, if approved, would be a further indication of China's change of tack in handling long-running sovereignty disputes from a defensive stance to an offensive one, analysts said. They said it was seen as a step to the declaration of an air defence identification zone. The Philippines last month protested against China's reclamation activities at nearby Johnson South Reef, site of a 1988 skirmish between the Chinese and Vietnamese navies that was triggered by China's occupation of Fiery Cross Reef. With recent developments in the South China Sea having again focused the international spotlight on China, the analysts warned reclamation at the Fiery Cross atoll - which China, the Philippines and Vietnam all claim - would further strain Beijing's relations with neighbours. The proposal to build an artificial island there had been submitted to the central government, said Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. The artificial island would be at least double the size of the US military base of Diego Garcia, a remote coral atoll occupying an area of 44 square kilometres in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Jin added. The reef currently houses Chinese-built facilities including an observation post commissioned by Unesco's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Li Jie, a naval expert from the Chinese Naval Research Institute, said the expanded island would include the airstrip and port. After the expansion the island would continue to house the observation post and to provide military supplies and assistance, he said. A retired People's Liberation Army senior colonel, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the construction of a landing strip on Fiery Cross Reef would allow China to better prepare for the establishment of an air defence identification zone over the South China Sea. Beijing's declaration of such a zone over the East China Sea in December prompted concerns among Southeast Asian countries that a similar arrangement could be imposed in the South China Sea. Fiery Cross Reef, known as Yongshu in China, Kagitingan in the Philippines and Da Chu Thap in Vietnam, is close to sea lanes and could serve as a strategic naval staging post, said Alexander Neill, a Shangri-La Dialogue senior fellow. Jin said consideration of whether and how to go ahead with the Fiery Cross Reef proposal would depend on progress on reclamation at Johnson South Reef. "It's a very complicated oceanic engineering project, so we need to learn from the experience" on Johnson South, Jin said. Late last month, renditions of a proposed artificial island were circulated among Chinese media. Citing a report posted on the website of the Shanghai-based China Shipbuilding NDRI Engineering, the Global Times said the unidentified artificial island could include a landing strip and a 5,000-tonne berth. Zhang Jie, an expert on regional security with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China had long been researching island reclamation. Institutes and companies had drafted various designs over the past decade, said Zhang, adding that she had attended deliberation of one proposal years ago. "We had the ability to build artificial islands years ago, but we had refrained because we didn't want to cause too much controversy," she said. However, this year had seen a "turning point" in which Beijing appeared to be making more offensive moves in the area, said Zhang, citing the recent deployment of an oil rig to disputed waters near Vietnam. "Building an artificial island can no doubt provide supplies to ships and oil rigs nearby, but this would also cause very severe negative impacts in the region." Such moves, she added, would further deepen mistrust among China's neighbours and cause instability in the region. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence in Beijing did not respond to requests for comment. ^ top ^

Chinese, Indian FMs hold talks on building closer bilateral ties (Xinhua)
2014-06-08
Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here on Sunday that China is willing to build closer and more comprehensive relations of partnership with India. During his meeting with Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, Wang said that China and India are two important forces which are on the ascendancy in the process of multi- polarization of the world, and Sino-India ties are a bilateral relationship with great dynamics and potentials in the 21st century. Wang said that the governments of China and India share similar ideas of governance and the two countries have a convergence of their strategies of development, as both countries are seeking to realize their dreams of national resurrection. Wang said that after the new government of India was elected and sworn in, Sino-India relations are facing a new start and new opportunities. Therefore, as the special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, he came to India to emphasize that China welcomes, supports and wishes for India's development. "China is willing to build closer, more comprehensive relationship of development and partnership, in order to hold hand with India to realize peaceful development, cooperative development and sustainable development," said the Chinese foreign minister. "This will not only bring to substantiality of our relationship of strategic cooperative partnership oriented towards peace and prosperity, but also help contribute to the national resurrection of our respective countries and the cause of regional as well as global peace and development," he added. For her part, Swaraj said that soon after the swearing in of the new Indian government, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India highly appreciated the visit by Foreign Minister Wang Yi to India as special envoy of President Xi Jinping. She said China is a big power with great influence in the world, as well as the second largest economy in the world. The new Indian government attaches great importance to relations with China, and will carry out a positive policy toward China and upgrade the relations to a higher level, which is also in conformity with the strong hope of Indian people. The two sides also agreed upon the following points in deepening bilateral ties: First, the two countries will maintain the momentum of exchange of high-level visits, strengthen strategic coordination on bilateral relations and work out strategic plans, in order give guidelines to the development of bilateral relations. The two countries will carry out commemorative activities for the 60th anniversary of the declaration by China, India and Myanmar of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence or Panchsheel, in order to inherit and spread the spirit of the principles. Secondly, the two countries will make strides forward of pragmatic cooperation. The two countries will try to realize the convergence of the two huge markets of China and India, promote regional economic integration, and create a new pole of growth for world economy. The two countries will quicken the construction of connectivities between them, let India's "Look Eastward" policy meet with China's acceleration of opening its western regions, and commonly work for the construction of Bangladesh-China-India- Myanmar economic corridor. The two sides will also expand trade and investment scales and seek common development. Thirdly, the two countries will deepen exchanges of humanity and culture. The two sides will hold various activities during the "China-India Year of Friendly Exchanges", increase exchanges of youths, media, sister cities and expertise. The two sides will also simplify visa issuing process for each other's citizens, in order to facilitate for the exchanges of personnel between the two countries. Fourthly, the two sides will properly handle the border issue. The two sides agreed that over the past few decades, the border issue between the two countries was put under effective control and management due to the common efforts of the two countries, which has provided environment conducive to each other's development. The two sides agreed that the two countries should stick to bilateral negotiations as the way to solve border disputes, and ensure that the border issue does not hamper development of relations, and maintain peace and tranquillity at the border regions before the final solution is found to the border issue. ^ top ^

State firms barred from Vietnam contract bids (SCMP)
2014-06-09
The government has temporarily stopped state-owned companies from bidding for fresh contracts in Vietnam, several sources familiar with the matter said, as the two countries are embroiled in an increasingly bitter dispute over territorial claims in the South China Sea. An official working at a state-owned enterprise, who asked not to be named, said the group had been informed of the move on the phone by the Ministry of Commerce. Three other Chinese contractors operating in Vietnam have also been told, sources with the firms said. A member of staff working at the ministry's bidding permit office confirmed the suspension, but said it was not known how long the ban might last. China's economic and commercial counsellor in Vietnam, Xu Qisong, declined to comment. Xu Liping, an expert on China's relations in Southeast Asia at the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Beijing may be trying to put economic pressure on Vietnam's government. "Any measure to enhance China's investment in Vietnam is inappropriate with the current political tension," said Xu. "This is a sign that China is playing the economic card. How effective will it be? We will have to wait and see." Vietnamese and Chinese ships have been involved in a series of clashes since China set up an oil rig near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea last month. Tensions over the move caused anti-China riots in Vietnam last month. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday that Vietnamese ships had rammed Chinese vessels and trespassed in Chinese restricted waters 1,416 times by 5pm on Saturday. China has been Vietnam's biggest trade partner since 2004. But it ranked only 11th in 2012 in terms of foreign direct investment in the Southeast Asian nation, according to figures from Vietnam's general statistics office. Some 113 Chinese companies, including electrical and chemical engineering firms, are listed as operating in Vietnam, according to the Business Association of China in Vietnam. China Southern Power Grid led investment in the US$1.76 billion Vinh Tan 1 coal-fired power plant last year, in what is thought to be the biggest contract undertaken by a Chinese company in Vietnam. Zhang Jie, another foreign affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the impact of the ban on bidding would be limited in Vietnam. "China is not able to threaten economic development in Vietnam as the amount of our development work there is too small," said Zhang. "Even if Chinese enterprises bid for projects in Vietnam, in the current conditions the Vietnamese government wouldn't let Chinese contractors win." ^ top ^

PLA says China will join US-led naval drill for first time (SCMP)
2014-06-10
China has confirmed it will participate in a major US-organised naval drill for the first time, official media said on Monday, amid heightened distrust between the two military powers. The Chinese navy will participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational naval exercises, the military's official People's Liberation Army Daily reported. China is embroiled in a series of rows with its neighbours in the East and South China Sea that have caused concern in Washington, which closely monitors Beijing's rapid military rise. The PLA Daily report quoted navy spokesman Liang Yang as saying it was the first time that China would participate in the joint maritime exercise. Beijing will send four ships, including a missile destroyer, a missile frigate, a supply ship and a hospital ship to the drill, the report said. The exercises are scheduled for mid-June, when Chinese ships will join US vessels off the Pacific island of Guam, a US territory, before sailing in formation to Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. US officials had previously said that China had accepted the invitation to attend the drill, but there has been no confirmation from Beijing. The RIMPAC exercise will be led by the US and will involve more than 20 nations and at least 25,000 personnel. In the previous RIMPAC in 2012 about 40 ships and six submarines took part. The Pentagon last week said China underestimates its growing defence budget, which last year probably neared US$145 billion, higher than the officially announced US$119.5 billion. China's defence ministry said it “resolutely opposes” the report, which it said “makes pointless accusations, exaggerates the 'Chinese military threat' and is a completely wrong course of action”, according to a statement reported by official media. Beijing has sought to counter the US's foreign policy “pivot” to Asia, seen as a move to refocus its attention on the region after years of intense diplomatic and military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington's traditional allies include Japan - where it has military bases and whose security it guarantees by treaty - and the Philippines. Both of those countries have maritime disputes with China. ^ top ^

China sends note to UN chief to clarify Xisha situation (Xinhua)
2014-06-10
A Chinese envoy on Monday sent a note to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, presenting documents making clear Vietnam's provocation and China's stance regarding the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. In the note, Wang Min, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, also asked Ban to circulate the documents, as UN General Assembly documents, among all UN member states. The documents included an article, released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sunday and titled "The Operation of the HYSY 981 Drilling Rig: Vietnam's Provocation and China's Position", as well as annexed material that proves the Xisha Islands are part of Chinese territory. "China sent the note to tell the international community the truth and set straight their understanding on the issue," Wang told reporters here after delivering China's second note to the UN chief on Vietnam's provocative actions on the sea. The first note was sent to Ban on May 22. He noted that the actions of the Vietnamese side, which illegally and forcefully disrupted the Chinese operation, were serious infringements upon China's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, grave threats to the safety of Chinese personnel and the HYSY 981 drilling rig, and gross violations of the relevant international laws, including the Charter of the United Nations, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf. "Such actions also undermined the freedom and safety of navigation in these waters, and damaged peace and stability in the region," Wang added. The Chinese envoy stressed that Xisha Islands are an inherent part of China's territory, over which there is no dispute. Wang quoted the documents as saying that, prior to 1974, none of the successive Vietnamese governments had ever challenged China 's sovereignty over the Xisha Islands. "Vietnam had officially recognized the Xisha Islands as part of China's territory since ancient times," he said. "This position was reflected in its government statements and notes as well as its newspapers, maps and textbooks." But now, Wang noted, the Vietnamese government goes back on its word by making territorial claims over China's Xisha Islands, which is a gross violation of the principles of international law, including the principle of estoppel, and the basic norms governing international relations. Wang also underlined that China is a staunch force for maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea and promoting cooperation between and development of countries in the region. He went on to say that China wants good relations with Vietnam, but there are principles that China cannot abandon. Wang reiterated that China urges Vietnam to bear in mind the overall interests of the bilateral relations and peace and stability in the South China Sea, respect China's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, immediately stop all forms of disruptions of the Chinese operation and withdraw all vessels and personnel from the site, so as to ease the tension and restore tranquility at sea as early as possible. "China will continue its effort to communicate with Vietnam with a view to properly addressing the current situation," he added. ^ top ^

Indian PM Modi meets with Chinese FM (Xinhua)
2014-06-10
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday met here with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wangyi, the special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping. During the meeting, Wang conveyed greetings and messages from President Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Prime Minister Modi. The Chinese president said in his message that he believes India will obtain greater development and progress under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. The Chinese president said that as two important forces in the process of multi-polarization of the world, China and India share far more common interests than differences and that the two countries are long-term strategic cooperative partners rather than adversaries. The Chinese president pointed out that the dreams of both China and India to build a strong nation and to upgrade the living standards of their people have a lot of commonalities and the two countries should make an in-depth convergence of their development strategy, support each other with their respective strengths, build a close development partnership, and hold hands to realize peaceful development, cooperative development, and inclusive development, in order to benefit their people and enhance peace, stability and prosperity of Asia and the whole world. Prime Minister Modi said that the important message from President Xi Jinping has given a clear guidance for developing bilateral relations. Modi said he highly appreciates the achievements in the field of development made by China and personally cherishes a friendly feeling toward China. Modi said India's new government is willing to join China to give a clear signal to the world that the two countries are dedicated to common development. He suggested that the two countries maintain exchange of high- level visits, consolidate strategic trust, and use each other's strengths to deepen cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, manufacturing, and IT industry. Modi also said that India and China should develop their resources of two ancient civilizations to enhance cooperation and increase exchanges in humanity. On the boundary issue, he said the two countries should commonly maintain peace and tranquility on the border areas in order to provide guarantees to the development of bilateral relations. Foreign Minister Wang said that China and India are now standing at a new historical starting point of developing their relations and in the meantime are faced with important opportunities of their own development. He said that China is ready to realize convergence with India in the fields of development theories and ideas, exchange and learn from each other in practice and theories of governance. Wang said China is also willing to realize convergence of development strategies with India and let the "Look East" policy of India meet and confluence with China's acceleration of opening its western regions. The two countries should also use their respective strong points to support and supplement each other in their respective development, he said. Wang said as the two ancient civilizations, China and India should join each other to make new contributions to human civilization and progress. He also suggested that the two countries properly control and manage their boundary problem to seek a mutually acceptable, fair and reasonable solution to the boundary issue. ^ top ^

China rejects US accusation of cyber attacks (Xinhua)
2014-06-10
China on Tuesday rejected the latest US charges of cyber hacking against the Chinese military, saying that what the US approach on the issue is not constructive at all. A private US cyber security company on Monday accused a unit of China's military of hacking to advance satellite and aerospace programs. The accusation is the second in less than a month after the United States announced on May 19 an indictment against five Chinese military officers on allegations of cyber theft. "I have noticed the report you mentioned, its wording and style looks familiar, citing the names of the hackers and their claims of their military identity," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular news briefing. "Have you ever seen thieves bearing a name tag saying thieves?" Hua questioned. After the US secret surveillance program codenamed PRISM, revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, abundant evidence shows the US has organized a massive cyber theft, wiretapping and surveillance activities against political figures, enterprises and individuals in a number of countries including China, according to Hua. "The US is a hacking empire," Hua said. "It is not constructive for the US to attack others instead of repenting and correcting its own mistakes." Cyber attacks are a global problem, transnational and anonymous in nature, requiring cooperation between countries, Hua said. China submitted an initiative for a code of conduct for information security to the UN in 2011, calling on all countries to jointly safeguard a peaceful, secure, stable and open cyber space, Hua said. China is willing to work with the international community to fight against hacker attacks and other cyber crimes, the spokeswoman added. ^ top ^

Comfort women history may enter UNESCO archives (China Daily)
2014-06-11
China has submitted applications to UNESCO to preserve the archives that prove the suffering of "comfort women" and make it part of the UN body's Memory of the World program. The application follows recent comments by leading Japanese politicians and academics casting doubt on the plight of the comfort women. The Japanese Imperial Army had a policy of forcing women captured in occupied lands to work as sex slaves in military brothels. Beijing's applications to UNESCO regarding the Nanjing Massacre and comfort women aim to "remember the history, cherish the peace and avert similar inhuman atrocities from taking place again", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday. The Memory of the World program is an international initiative launched to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity and protect experiences from being lost through neglect or denial. Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japan studies at China Foreign Affairs University, warned that revisionist remarks within Japan are "rampant" and many leading figures have attempted to deny the history of the comfort women. "They deny it to defend or make light of Japan's history of military aggression. We should have zero-tolerance for this," Zhou said. Public debate was further heated in January after Japanese public broadcaster NHK's newly appointed head Katsuto Momii stated that comfort women existed in any country that was at war, not just Japan, but also France and Germany. Momii even targeted South Korea for continuing to call for compensation for the women. Eighty-nine wartime documents were made public in April by the Jilin Provincial Archives to further prove that forcing women into sex slavery were sanctioned by the Japanese army in Asian countries. Su Zhiliang, director of the China Sex Slave Research Center and a professor of history at Shanghai Normal University, underscored the urgency of applying for the UNESCO program. "The historical archives not only prove that it was the Japanese government and its army that conducted the sexual slavery, but also showed that it was widespread behavior," Su said at a recent seminar. There was a stark example of revisionist voices at the highest levels on Monday when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explicitly denounced the former chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono and the "Kono Statement". In the statement, made more than 20 years ago, Kono apologized for Japan's wartime atrocities regarding the comfort women. Abe criticized Kono on Monday and said that Kono's statement "left huge hidden trouble for future generations", Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported. ^ top ^

Clinton gives inside account of US turmoil after helping blind activist Chen Guangcheng (SCMP)
2014-06-11
Hillary Clinton in her new book passionately defended her role in the release of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, criticising Republican assertions that the United States pressured him. In Hard Choices, the former secretary of state and potential presidential contender credited US efforts to nurture relations with China with allowing an atmosphere in which Beijing allowed the activist, who has been blind since childhood, to move to the United States. Clinton credited her assistant secretary of state for East Asia, the flamboyant academic Kurt Campbell, with his role in the episode and said at one point he volunteered to resign when the talks almost fell apart. Chen, who enraged authorities by exposing forced abortions and sterilisations under China's one-child-only policy, escaped from house arrest in April 2012 and fled to the US embassy days ahead of a visit by Clinton. The United States arranged an agreement with Beijing in which Chen would be allowed to study in China, receive medical treatment and file complaints over the beatings he said he suffered. The deal triggered an uproar in Washington, as Chen told a congressional hearing by telephone he was afraid for his safety by remaining in China. “It was like throwing fuel on the political fire,” Clinton said of Chen's remarks, saying that her aides had negotiated the initial deal in accordance with the activist's own wishes. “While Chen seemed to be talking easily with every reporter and activist from Beijing to Washington, no one at the embassy could reach him on the mobile phone that, ironically, we had provided,” Clinton wrote. Clinton said she moved to counter “breathless news reports” that the US refused him asylum and blamed “election-year politics”, criticising Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney whose campaign said that the Chen case marked “a dark day for freedom”. Clinton said that Dai Bingguo, then state councillor and considered the force behind China's foreign policy, had told the US side that they “had made a big mistake in trusting Chen” and called him a “manipulative criminal”. But Clinton said she wanted to comply with Chen's wishes and told Dai she faced a “political firestorm” over the case. Clinton said her deputy, William Burns, initially persuaded Chinese diplomats to resolve the case by arguing it was best to “put this whole incident behind us” so that top leaders could hold scheduled US-China talks without getting involved. Chen ultimately came to the United States to study and has emerged as an outspoken critic of China. ^ top ^

China, Italy pledge efforts to cement partnership (Xinhua)
2014-06-12
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi here on Wednesday and both pledged efforts to strengthen the partnership between the two countries. During their meeting at the Great Hall of the People, Xi hailed the friendship between the two nations dating back to legendary Italian explorer Marco Polo and missionary Matteo Ricci. He said China and Italy are important partners that have handled bilateral ties from a strategic and long-term perspective since establishing diplomatic relations. The China-Italy relationship stands at a new starting point as this year marks the 10th anniversary of the announcement of their comprehensive strategic partnership and the year 2015 marks the 45th anniversary of the founding of their diplomatic relations, Xi noted. "I hope the two sides will work together to enhance mutual understanding and expand cooperation to elevate the bilateral relationship to a new level," said the Chinese leader. He proposed China and Italy continue to understand and support each other on issues involving their core interests and major concerns, deepen political trust, increase exchanges of ideas on reform, and boost cooperation on energy conservation, environmental protection, sustainable urbanization, modern agriculture and tourism as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges. The two sides should also increase communication and coordination on major international issues to promote world peace and development, according to Xi. Recalling his visit to Europe in March, Xi said China and Europe should implement the China-EU 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation to advance their comprehensive strategic partnership. As Italy will assume the rotating chair of the European Union in the latter half of this year, Xi said he hopes the Italian side will continue playing an active role in the development of the China-Europe relationship. Echoing the Chinese president, Renzi said the Italian side will be even bolder and more far-sighted than Marco Polo and Matteo Ricci to advance the partnership between China and Italy. The Italian side stands ready to maintain close high-level interactions, increase exchanges on governance and boost cooperation in multiple areas with China, said the prime minister. Italy will take more measures to facilitate people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, especially for students, Renzi said. It will also continue pushing Europe-China cooperation and coordinate with China in international affairs, he added. ^ top ^

China, Singapore vow to further deepen cooperation (Xinhua)
2014-06-12
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Thursday met with Singaporean Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, vowing to further strengthen bilateral ties. Highlighting the good momentum of China-Singapore ties and mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, Yang said China would like to boost exchanges with Singapore at all levels. China will work with Singapore to promote the healthy development of China-ASEAN ties and contribute to regional peace and stability, said Yang. Singapore is the largest investor in China and China's second largest trading partner of the ten ASEAN countries. Shanmugam's current visit is his third to China in three years as foreign minister. "I think bilaterally, in economical terms, political terms and people-to-people terms, (the relationship) is very positive, and we believe that a lot more can be done," Shanmugam told Yang. He said Singapore is happy to be the largest offshore RMB trading center outside the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties between the two countries. Shanmugam said Singapore is ready to make joint efforts with China to enhance bilateral ties. As the coordinating country for China-ASEAN relations from 2015, Singapore will exert itself to push forward bilateral cooperation, he said. Also on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Shanmugam. The two ministers agreed that the situation in the South China Sea was stable on the whole, and that disputes should be solved by the countries concerned through direct dialogue and consultation, according to a press release issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. China and the ASEAN countries have the capability, the confidence and the will to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability in the South China Sea, it said. ^ top ^

China challenges Japan over jet encounter (Xinhua)
2014-06-12
China's Defense Ministry on Thursday criticized Japan's accusation that a Chinese military aircraft had "approached unusually close" to two Japanese warplanes, saying it's "a thief who cries thief." Geng Yansheng, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said that Japan's YS11EB and OP3C aircraft tailed China's Tu-154 plane, coming as near as 30 meters from the Chinese plane as it was conducting a routine patrol over the East China Sea at around 10 a.m. on Wednesday. The Japanese fighters' actions seriously threatened the safety of China's plane, Geng added. He said in a statement that Japan's accusation "was aimed at further deceiving the international community, smearing the image of our military and generating tensions in the region. "Japan's vile practice disregarded the facts and talked black into white." According to the spokesman, the Chinese pilots' operations were professional, standard and restrained while those of the Japanese counterparts were dangerous and obviously provocative. Japan has long conducted close tracking, surveillance and interference over Chinese warships and airplanes, which is the root of Sino-Japan security issues, Geng noted. "Rather than deeply reflecting on its own faults, the Japanese side often makes irresponsible and deceitful expressions to slander China," he said. "Japan's action completely unmasked its hypocrisy and it should make clarification to China and the international community." Shen Jinke, spokesman for the Chinese Air Force, said in another statement that Chinese aircraft tried to identify and warn the Japanese aircraft during a normal air patrol mission in its Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea on Wednesday. "It was conduct in line with international practice," said Shen. "There was no such notion as an 'abnormally close' encounter." It is Japanese aircraft that have repeatedly followed and harassed Chinese aircraft in China's own air defense zone, he added. "In face of the dangerous moves of Japanese aircraft, Chinese pilots have always been restrained. All reactions they made were defensive and in line with international practice," according to Shen. Since the air defense zone was established in November last year, China's Air Force has exercised regular and effective control over all objects flying over the zone. "The Chinese Air Force will continue air patrols in its Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea and safeguard the country's legal rights," Shen vowed. ^ top ^

China to hold third world peace forum (Xinhua)
2014-06-12
The third World Peace Forum (WPF) will be held at Beijing's Tsinghua University on June 21 and 22, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying announced on Thursday. Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi will address the opening ceremony of the WPF, Hua told a daily news briefing. Organized by Tsinghua University in partnership with the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, the forum is China's first high-level non-governmental seminar focusing on international security. With the theme of peace, mutual trust, duty and pursuing common security, this year's forum will discuss security issues in the Asian-Pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as nuclear nonproliferation. About 500 guests will attend the forum, including former Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi, former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, former French Prime Minister Dominique Galouzeau de Villepin, former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, and former European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. ^ top ^

Railways, nuclear power on agenda of Li's European visit (China Daily)
2014-06-13
China will likely explore business opportunities in the high-speed railway, nuclear power and shipbuilding industries during Premier Li Keqiang's upcoming visit to the United Kingdom and Greece, experts said. Li is scheduled to begin a six-day visit to the two countries on Monday - his third European trip since taking office in 2013 - according to the Foreign Ministry. He is slated to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron at his London residence on a "reciprocal visit" following the British leader's trip to China last year. Li will also meet Queen Elizabeth II. It will be the first visit to the UK by a Chinese premier in three years. Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Chao said talks with Cameron will cover trade, investment, energy and cultural exchanges. Ma Zhengang, former Chinese ambassador to the UK, said the visit is an indication that Sino-British relations are getting back on track after signs of recovery in ties last December when Cameron visited Beijing. Bilateral relations nosedived in 2012 when Cameron met the Dalai Lama, prompting China to cancel scheduled meetings with the UK. Tian Dewen, a researcher of European studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said he expects the visit will focus on economic cooperation. He identified the high-speed railway and nuclear power industries as two fields with high potential for cooperation. Ma said the UK's relatively aging infrastructure presents great opportunities for Chinese investors and exporters. Bilateral trade exceeded $70 billion in 2013, a rise of 11 percent year-on-year. That percentage far exceeds the 2.1-percent growth for overall trade between China and Europe. Zhao Junjie, an expert of European studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China and Greece will likely discuss the port, aviation, tourism and trade industries. He said China's advantages in the shipbuilding industry dovetail with Greece's need to revive its traditional strength in sea transportation. Li and his Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras are expected to visit Piraeus port near Athens, part of which is operated by China's State-owned shipping giant China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co under a 35-year lease signed in 2009. It was the first time that a Chinese firm had been granted operating rights to an overseas port. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China lawyers demand access to activists detained ahead of Tiananmen anniversary (SCMP)
2014-06-07
Around 20 lawyers gathered on Saturday in a central China's Henan province to demand access to several activists detained ahead of the politically sensitive 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square military suppression of protesters. Prominent rights lawyer Li Fangping said the attorneys staged an overnight protest starting on Friday outside the Zhengzhou city police bureau after authorities denied their requests for weeks to see their clients. “We feel that the entire system for defence lawyers is facing an enormous challenge,” said Li, who was among those who protested. Among the activists detained in Zhengzhou is the well-known lawyer Chang Boyang, who has campaigned for the rights of migrant workers, HIV patients and children poisoned in a 2008 tainted milk scandal. Chang was detained May 27 as part of a string of prosecutions against artists, lawyers, scholars and journalists ahead of the June 4 Tiananmen anniversary amid intense government efforts to deter public commemorations. Li said senior city police representatives in Zhengzhou met with the lawyers on Saturday afternoon and said the attorneys had to seek permission from police investigators in order to meet their clients. Under Chinese law, such a requirement is necessary only in cases such as major corruption, terrorism or subversion, Li said, and the activists in Zhengzhou were accused of public disturbance offences, which did not fall under that category. The officials told the lawyers their justification was that the detainees' cases were related to state security concerns, Li said. “This is setting a very bad precedent in which if you were detained even for the most ordinary offence, you won't be allowed to see your lawyer on the claim that it endangers state security,” Li said. “This is a subversion of Chinese law.” Reached by phone, officials in the propaganda departments of Zhengzhou's police and Communist Party offices refused to comment. Discussions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and its military suppression are taboo in China, and authorities tighten security ahead of the anniversary each year. But this year's suppression was harsher than in previous years, as police rounded up activists who had received only warnings in the past. ^ top ^

Special unit to help China fight cyber terrorism (China Daily)
2014-06-07
A special unit combating the spread of terrorism online set up by the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will help China, which has experienced a series of terrorist attacks in recent years, to maintain its social stability, director of the structure's executive committee said on Friday."Many terrorists who carried out deadly attacks in China have watched or listened to videos or audios with contents of extreme beliefs online, but those materials are produced and uploaded outside China. So RATS has decided to set up a special unit to deal with the threat," Zhang Xinfeng, the current director of SCO's Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure's executive committee said at the headquarters of the structure in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan. Zhang said the unit could provide assistance to China, especially Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which is on the frontline of the country's war on terrorism, to eliminate the online sources of terrorist and extreme information. He added that China's recent national campaign of striking hard on terrorism is necessary and will be effective. The member states of the SCO, which includes Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, have constantly made arrests of terrorists, separatists and extremists as well as tracked down terrorists wanted internationally. The structure has also always been assisted by China in fighting terrorism since it was founded on June 17, 2004, with the aim to enhance cooperation in the region's security, he added. "The terrorist attacks in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region are closely related to the activities of terrorists, separatists and extremists forces in Central Asia so the joint anti-terrorist efforts from the member countries are crucial to China's stability, and it is a long-term mission," Zhang said. The member countries have adopted an anti-terrorism mechanism in intelligence and information sharing. Also, they have strengthened he cooperation of border controls since 2013 to solve the issues of terrorists crossing the borders illegally, he added. RATS has two bodies: the Council and the executive committee. According to the agreement of the member countries, regular meetings of the Council have to be held at least once every six months. So far 24 meetings have been held since the organization was established 10 years ago and 356 documents regulating the cooperation of the member states in the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism have been reviewed. Besides the member countries, the structure has further enhanced the anti-terrorism cooperation with SCO's five observer countries: Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan. "Although countries may have some conflicts with each other, but they must realize that terrorism is their common enemy and they must fight it together," Zhang said. ^ top ^

Xi urges independent innovation in science, technology (Xinhua)
2014-06-09
President Xi Jinping on Monday stressed that the direction of China's science and technology development is "innovation, innovation and innovation." Xi made the remarks at the biennial conference of the country's two top think tanks, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE). Monday's conference was attended by more than 1,300 academicians from the two institutions, which advise the government and industries on key scientific and technological issues. Li Keqiang, Liu Yunshan, and Zhang Gaoli, all members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, attended the conference. "We should follow the strategy of innovation as an impetus for development. Independent innovation should be the essence of this strategy and the most urgent thing to do is to eliminate the system and mechanism obstacles so as to free up the huge potentials of science and technology as the primary force of productivity," Xi said. The president called for a national system for innovation to ensure "the abundant flow of the creative fountain," urging reform in the planning of national innovation strategy and the distribution of science and technology resources. According to the president, the relationship between government and market should push forward the fusion of science and economy, so that science and technology strength can be transformed into industrial and economic power. Xi called on academicians to "unswervingly pursue an independent innovation path with Chinese characteristics... and speed up the building of China into an innovative country." Scientists were asked to have a "global perspective" and accurately grasp strategic opportunities in key areas of scientific and technological development. The president asked scientists to "strive to make important breakthroughs in key technologies, and master crucial technologies into our own hands." While calling for further reform of China's scientific and technological system, Xi vowed to eradicate ideological and systematic obstacles. He also stressed the need to pool resources and make concerted efforts when seeking new scientific and technological breakthroughs. The cultivation of talents, Xi said, should be placed first when it comes to the pursuit of scientific and technological innovation. Xi vowed to reform mechanisms of training, attracting and employing talents and the training of more world-class scientists. Academicians were also asked to be patriotic, dedicate to their career, set examples to others, and enforce strict self-discipline. ^ top ^

Tiananmen leader Zhou Fengsuo vows solidarity after secret China trip (SCMP)
2014-06-10
A top leader of the Tiananmen Square protests said he found that the movement's message resonated more than ever after he slipped into China to mark the 25th anniversary quietly. Zhou Fengsuo had been number five on the government's wanted list as it crushed the student-led pro-democracy protests on June 3-4, 1989. Like most leaders at Tiananmen Square, he lives in exile with no prospect of returning back legally. To his own surprise, Zhou said that he managed to return briefly for last week's anniversary of the crackdown even though Beijing took extraordinary measures to prevent public observances. Now a US citizen, Zhou said he took advantage of China's policy of allowing 72-hour transit stops without a visa. Zhou said he commemorated the bloodshed by driving with a friend in a loop around Tiananmen Square where he said he saw at least 10 groups of police. He resisted the temptation to carry out a public protest, knowing he would be quickly muzzled. “If I couldn't hold back my emotion, I may have just jumped out of the car to shout, but then I would be gone in a minute,” Zhou said on Monday after his return to San Francisco. But Zhou said he saw small signs of mourning. At Tsinghua University, where Zhou studied physics, he snapped a picture of white flowers laid at what had been a monument to the Tiananmen dead. Inside the square itself, Zhou saw people dressed in black in what he interpreted as a protest. China's leaders have tried to stamp out memories of the uprising, with many young people unfamiliar with the mass movement. Troops killed hundreds of unarmed civilians, with some estimates putting the death toll at more than 1,000. But Zhou said that he believed the core principles of the students rang true – such as demands that government officials disclose their assets, an issue that has triggered small-scale demonstrations and arrests this year. “There is pretty much a consensus today in China that government officials should disclose their assets,” he said. The past 25 years have proven “that the massacre was for this small fraction of families that control China, not for the general well-being of the Chinese. If you look at the people who were hardliners 25 years ago, they are all billionaires now,” he said. Zhou said that he also showed solidarity by visiting a detention centre where Gao Yu, a veteran reporter previously jailed for writing about the Tiananmen protests, and celebrated human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang were being held. Zhou said he identified himself at the reception and faced no problem. But later police came to his hotel on the pretext of searching for drugs and then interrogated him at length and put him on a flight back to the United States, Zhou said. The activist, who has worked in finance since going into exile, said he told no one of his trip ahead of time. Fellow Tiananmen leader Wang Dan even spotted, during an event in Washington, that Zhou was carrying Chinese currency and joked that he was being paid by the embassy. Zhou revealed that he had also visited China secretly on two other occasions since the Tiananmen crackdown. But he acknowledged that a future trip would prove more difficult after his latest episode. “For me, I have overcome my doubt and fear to be there with my friends in China. That is tremendous for me,” he said. ^ top ^

Lawyer denied bail after detention ahead of Tiananmen anniversary (SCMP)
2014-06-10
A prominent lawyer detained in Beijing last month ahead of the 25th Tiananmen crackdown anniversary has been denied bail by the Chinese police. Well-known attorney Pu Zhiqiang was detained early last month after he attended a small meeting in a Beijing residence to discuss the June 4, 1989 military suppression on demonstrators. Pu's lawyer Zhang Sizhi said today that police would likely press criminal charges against his client. He declined to elaborate. “I don't think he will be released any time soon,” Zhang said. “A criminal charge is very likely, given the circumstances and the reasons of the detention.” Pu was among dozens of activists detained or placed under house arrest across the country as part of the authorities' expansive efforts to deter any commemoration of the anniversary. Several other people who attended the meeting in Beijing with Pu to discuss the Tiananmen crackdown had also been detained but they were released last week after the June 4 anniversary passed, activists said. Pu is one of the best-known lawyers in the country who has represented dissidents such as artist Ai Weiwei and led public campaigns for the abolition of labour camps. Discussions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and its military suppression are taboo in China, and authorities tighten security ahead of the anniversary each year. But this year's suppression was harsher than in previous years, as police rounded up activists who had received only warnings in the past. ^ top ^

Rare decision: Xiamen labour panel punishes foreign-run company in dispute over workers' strike (SCMP)
2014-06-11
A labour dispute committee penalised a foreign-run electronics company for firing 34 workers after going on strike - in a rare move that challenges an arbitration system typically seen as favouring employers. The workers had walked out of the plant in Xiamen, Fujian province, earlier this year to oppose plans to relocate the factory. Kewei Tongchuang, backed by Singapore investment and managed by Americans, had accused the 34 employees on strike of violating company regulations by not showing up to work. The company issued an ultimatum, saying they should be back to work by February 28 or they would be fired. The striking workers returned to the factory floor on March 3, but were sacked the next day due to “violations to company policy”. The workers challenged their termination before the Xiamen government's labour arbitration committee. The panel ruled yesterday that the workers had reasonable cause not to show up to work and that their industrial action should not be seen simply as a company rule violation. On top of that, the committee ordered the firm to compensate the workers. The labour committee's decision was extraordinary as mainland labour dispute arbiters – under pressure from stability-obsessed local governments – typically decide on the basis of discouraging future strikes, according to legal experts. "Local governments bear huge pressure of maintaining stability,” a legal expert familiar with the Kewei case said. “Many don't want to convey the impression that strike is a way to solve [a] dispute.” The company refused to accept yesterday's decision and will take the case to court. Calls to Kewei's offices went unanswered. Thirty-four senior workers led negotiations from last May to February about Kewei's proposed relocation, before deciding to go on strike for 16 days that month. They said they were barred from entering the gates on February 14. Kewei, which proposed the plan in May, had offered to pay relocation fees, such as transport and housing, but the workers still opposed the move. The term “strike” does not have a legal definition in the Labour Contract Law in China – but “violations to company regulations” does, Ge Lei, a labour dispute lawyer in Beijing, told the South China Morning Post. Although the right to strike is enshrined in the constitution, “often [a] strike is treated as absenteeism, which violates company regulations”, according to the legal expert, who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter. The expert said court rulings or arbitration decisions not in favour of companies were “very infrequent”. According to the source, the committee argued that absenteeism was caused only by personal reasons – which was not applicable in the Kewei workers' case. It also noted that the factory shut the gates at one point, preventing the striking workers from returning to work, should they choose to. The committee found that Kewei Tongchuang violated the Trade Union Law, which states that “trade unions shall coordinate labour relations, and safeguard the labour rights and interests of … employees through equal negotiation and a collective contract system”. But Kewei's management unilaterally terminated contracts without informing the union. The legal expert said the Xiamen committee in this case was not subjected to any outside pressure. “Xiamen has a healthy legal environment. The administration doesn't interfere too much in the legal system. The case [did not face] interference from the local government.” ^ top ^

Party recruitment to tilt toward working class (Global Times)
2014-06-12
The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee urges all local Party committees to enlist new Party members in a "prudent" and "balanced" manner, a rare description that analysts say is aimed at adjusting its structure to focus on recruiting members from the working class, a return to the Party's traditions. According to the latest detailed rules for recruiting new Party members, released by the General Office of the CPC Central Committee late Tuesday, new recruitment efforts should control the overall size of the Party, optimize the structure, improve the quality and enhance the role of Party members in society. "The new version of the recruitment rules is trying to revive some of the old traditions in the Party which were ignored in the process of reform and opening up," Yin Yungong, a political science scholar with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. Starting as a proletarian party, it took decades for the CPC to accept entrepreneurs as members. The idea had long been mooted and was finally introduced in 2002, when people with "advanced thoughts" were welcomed into the CPC. "Optimizing the structure has three meanings, to optimize the age structure, the knowledge structure and the class structure. The Party aims to recruit more young members with better educational backgrounds. More importantly, the Party needs to adjust its currently unbalanced structure to recruit more members from workers and farmers, or a new group that's emerged in the past 20 years, the migrant workers," said Cai Zhiqiang, a professor on Party building with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. The number of CPC members has doubled in the past 20 years to surpass 85 million, according to statistics from the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, but the percentage of workers, one of the basic pillars of the Party, dropped to around 8.5 percent. "The Party is not an organization that can expand without limit. It is a vanguard organization. The larger the size, the more difficult it is to manage the Party," said Xin Xiangyang, a research fellow on Marxism from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Problems such as corruption, derelict of duty, nepotism and cliques within the Party have come to haunt the CPC, the ruling Party of the world's second largest economy. "As the ruling Party of China, it naturally attracts different interest groups who join the Party not due to a common ideology, but because doing so will help them gain access to power or wealth," said Cai. "The Party's goal is not to represent interest groups but to serve the people, which is why the CPC needs to be more prudent in selecting new members and establish an efficient evaluation system, which it currently lacks," Cai said. The new rules stress the importance of "political criteria," which is evaluated based on how thoroughly members understand Marxism and how firmly they believe in it. The People's Daily described belief in Marxism as the No.1 criterion in judging whether one is politically mature enough to join the CPC. "With the development of the market economy in the past 20 years, many new circumstances and new problems have emerged in the enrollment of new members, including a huge impact on the Party members' values," said Xin. ^ top ^

CPC demands continued fight against undesirable work styles (Xinhua)
2014-06-12
The leading group of the Communist Party of China (CPC) "mass line" campaign on Thursday ordered continued fight against undesirable work styles. The campaign was launched in June 2013 to bridge gaps between CPC officials and members, and the public, while cleaning up undesirable work styles such as formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance. In a circular issued by the leading group, authorities are required to "punch heavily" and "take practical actions" to clean up unhealthy work styles, enforce strict work disciplines, cut red tape and punish officials who abuse their power for personal gains. CPC officials and members are told to reject nepotism in poverty-relief programs and refrain from formalism in implementing the campaign. The public are welcome to supervise the campaign via hotlines and surveys, and authorities should expose malpractice that infringes upon people's interests, according to the circular. ^ top ^

Flea bites and wading in sewage: Xi Jinping's account of working among peasants goes viral (SCMP)
2014-06-12
An interview President Xi Jinping gave 10 years ago about his days working with peasants as the Cultural Revolution raged has become a surprise internet hit. It has become the latest online sensation for Xi, after he scored a major propaganda coup by queuing up in a steamed bun restaurant in Beijing for lunch in December. He also courted publicity by visiting a hutong in the capital during thick smog in February. Xi, then party secretary of Zhejiang province, had sat down with a television reporter from Yan'an, Shaanxi province, where he worked for seven years during the Cultural Revolution. Xi spoke warmly of his experience in Yan'an and how it taught him about life. At 16, the future president volunteered to go the rural area from Beijing after his father Xi Zhongxun, a communist revolutionary, was purged. The younger Xi recalled he was the only one smiling when his family were crying as his train left the capital. "I told my family If I didn't go I was not sure I would survive. How is that not a good thing?” Xi recalled. Liangjiahe village, where he was to stay for a total of seven years, became a haven for Xi but at first he struggled. Xi admitted he was criticised for being wasteful because he fed a dog with a stale bread when the locals did not even know what bread was. He found the work difficult too at the beginning because he was already exhausted after climbing up a mountain to work in the fields. He learn to smoke because smokers were sometimes allowed a break. "The hardship of working shocked me,” Xi said. He left the village after three months but returned six months later because he had no family to stay with in Beijing. This time he was determined to mingle with the locals. Xi recalled how he endured everything from flea bites to bad food, boredom and having to knit his own woollen socks. He did not eat meat for months and when he did finally have some he ate it raw with his fellow labourers. He also said he became a strong and tough worker. "I took 100kg of wheat and it was no sweat to walk 5km on a mountain road,” Xi recalled. He was later elected party secretary of the village and led the construction of the first sewage system in Shaanxi province, which Xi remembered vividly. "The pipe from the pond was blocked and I unblocked it. The excrement and urine flew all over my face,” Xi said. Xi left the village in 1975 when he was admitted to the Tsinghua University. Villagers waited quietly outside his room to say goodbye and Xi was touched to tears. "It was the second time I cried there. The first time was when I got a letter [saying] that my elder sister passed away,” Xi said. ^ top ^

Fears of Shanxi power vacuum amid ongoing anti-graft probes (Global Times)
2014-06-13
Fears of a power vacuum in North China's Shanxi Province have sprouted amid the latest series of probes into senior officials in the region, according to caixin.com. Wang Yinwang, secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Pingding county committee, has become the latest official in Shanxi to come under investigation for "serious disciplinary violations," the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced Tuesday. Shanxi native Wang, 45, assumed the role in 2011. During his previous tenure as head of the county government, Pingding was plagued by illegal private mining and subject to continuous media attention. Shanxi has seen a series of arrests and investigations targeting corrupt officials and business executives since last year, leaving many empty seats among the higher ranks in government organs. The probed senior officials included Jin Daoming, vice chairman of Shanxi Provincial People's Congress Standing Committee and Shen Weichen, former Party chief of Taiyuan. In April, mayor Yang Xiaobo of the province's southeastern city of Gaoping was fired over serious violations of discipline. The post has remained empty. Some officials in Jincheng's Yangcheng and Qinshui counties have taken up double positions since March. Local sources said it is increasingly difficult for the government to promote officials as they tend to have problems once selected. ^ top ^

Top court overturns death sentences for rapists (SCMP)
2014-06-13
The Supreme People's Court has overturned the death sentences given to two men convicted of raping and forcing an 11-year-old girl to work in a brothel. The court said the high-profile case, which has received national media attention, would be retried. Tang Hui, the victim's mother, has campaigned for years believing death sentences should be handed out to all people who were guilty in her daughter's case. She has also petitioned local governments to punish officials who she said had been bribed by prostitution gangs to protect their operations. "The ruling has dealt a heavy blow to us," Tang told the South China Morning Post yesterday. "My family just tries to live a normal life. As the case reopens, we'll experience all the nightmares again. I'm especially worried about my daughter." Tang's daughter has contracted herpes, an incurable sexually transmitted disease, and psychological trauma after she was raped and forced to work as a prostitute at the age 11 for two months in a brothel in Yongzhou in Hunan province in 2006. Her daughter's two main kidnappers were sentenced to death in June 2012, four accomplices received life sentences and one was jailed for 15 years. A representative from the Supreme People's Court said in an interview with the People's Daily that the death sentences had been overturned because the crimes were not serious enough to warrant capital punishment. "The circumstances of the crime had not reached the degree of being extremely serious," the spokesman said. Forcing a large number of victims into prostitution, or performing torture on victims that resulted in death or permanent injury might have warranted the death sentence, the official added. Lu Miaoqing, a lawyer in Guangzhou, said the Supreme People's Court ruling was understandable as judges tended to avoid capital punishment unless a crime had caused deaths. In August 2012, the local authorities sentenced Tang Hui to 18-months re-education through labour after she petition ed for the death sentence for all the people convicted in her daughter's case. Her protests had "seriously disturbed the social order and exerted a negative impact on society", Xinhua reported. Lawyers representing Tang publicised her story on microblogs and received nationwide attention and support. The local authority reversed its decision and released her after locking her up in the labour camp for nine days. "If [my daughter's] case opens and fails to deliver justice, I will appeal and petition again," she said. Si Weijiang, the lawyer representing Tang, said they would collect new evidence and present the facts to the court. "I'm afraid that another two to three years might burn Tang out and the rest of her family. She may learn to accept the possibility that the criminals will not die," Si said. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing launches new bid to 'civilise' residents ahead of Apec summit (SCMP)
2014-06-11
Beijing on Tuesday launched a new effort to “civilise” its residents by clamping down on queue-jumping and smoking ahead of a summit for Asian leaders later this year. The campaign, labelled “Embracing Apec Wonderful Pekingese-Citizen Civilised Behaviour Promotion,” also promises to crack down on jaywalking, drink driving and drivers refusing to stop at zebra crossings. The Beijing municipal government said in a press release that it aims to encourage “civilised orderly and courteous transport, to improve people's overall quality to display (their) wonderfulness.” It follows a similar campaign ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which saw authorities target spitting, littering and disorderly lines for public transport. Beijing government Civilisation Office spokesman Han Longbin said that the Olympic campaign had achieved results, but “people are still running red lights”. “We still need to promote better queueing, and we will depend on promoting civilisation and also legal measures,” he added, without giving details. Residents will be encouraged to tackle the capital's chronic smog by taking part in a “clean atmosphere blue day action,” which involves taking public transport and buying “green” products. Other behaviours due for censure include “making a racket”, smoking in public places and eating while on public transport. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum, which includes China and the United States, will see leaders from more than 20 countries and economies descend on Beijing in November. In 2008, Beijing residents were told by authorities not to wear more than three colours, not to shake hands for longer than three seconds nor match white socks with black shoes, in a government etiquette-education campaign to prepare the capital for to host the Olympics that year. A booklet distributed to residents also told people not to jump queues, spit or take off their shoes and put their feet on the opposite bench when taking a train. The booklet also listed eight taboo questions when talking to foreigners, including asking about their income, age, religious beliefs and political views. Education campaigns also touched on details such as the best skirt length for young women, with older women asked to wear dresses extending at least 3cm below their knees. People were discouraged from visiting neighbours in pyjamas and slippers, as some elderly mainlanders often do. Women were told to stand with their feet slightly apart, in a V or Y shape, when wearing skirts, and males and females were cautioned against putting their faces too close to members of the opposite sex when talking in public. Men were told to refrain from helping women carry their handbags. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangdong authorities say more than 3,000 arrested in sex trade crackdown (SCMP)
2014-06-13
Guangdong police have broken up 214 criminal rings and arrested more than 3,000 individuals suspected of involvement in the sex trade in a wide crackdown that began four months ago, according to the provincial public security department. Provincial authorities had planned to wrap up the campaign by the end of last month, but yesterday announced it would continue until at least the end of the year. The drive to root out the vice trade in the province began with a police swoop in Dongguan city in February following an exposé by state broadcaster CCTV. As of Tuesday, police had arrested 3,033 people, including 1,497 suspected operators and organisers of prostitution, while more than 3,553 hotels, saunas and massage parlours saw their licences revoked or were ordered to close until they rectified their operations, Zheng Zehui, a director at the Guangdong provincial public security department, said at a news conference in the provincial capital of Guangzhou yesterday. In addition, 1,200 websites and more than 1 million instant-messaging accounts were closed for allegedly advertising prostitution and escort services. The authorities said in March the campaign would last until May, and expand from Dongguan to the entire province. But Zheng said it would continue until at least December. "Fighting prostitution is a tough and long-term task … But we will no longer allow prostitution to run rampant in Guangdong," Zheng said. Since February, six inspection teams led by senior officials at the provincial-level had been sent to 21 cities across Guangdong to combat the vice trade, he said. Prostitution became rampant in Dongguan after manufacturing industries closed or relocated to other parts of the country when export demand slumped in 2009 following the global economic crisis. Hundreds of hotels had sprung up in the city to serve visiting buyers and exhibition attendees, and when the economy shifted, many hotels narrowed their business focus. No one knows exactly how many people worked in the sex industry in Dongguan. Local analysts estimated there were more than 250,000 prostitutes working in the city at one point, and the business generated about 50 billion yuan (HK$63 billion) a year. Dongguan's gross domestic product grew just 7.3 per cent in the first three months of this year, below the nationwide GDP rise of 7.4 per cent during the same period. Dozens of police officials in Dongguan, including Yan Xiaokang, the former deputy mayor and head of the city's public security bureau, have been suspended from duty on suspicion of protecting prostitution businesses. Several high-profile hotel owners, including Liang Yaohui, a deputy to the National People's Congress and chairman of the Crown Prince Hotel Dongguan, were arrested for running prostitution businesses from their hotels. Liang, 47, director of Energy China Group based in Beijing, had been a Dongguan People's Congress member since 2008. In his 20s, he started off as a hairdresser, opening a salon hiring more than 50 women who offered sexual services, according to mainland media. He later went on to open the notorious Crown Prince Hotel, which was home to saunas that targeted Hong Kong businessmen. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Dalai Lama urged to stop secessionist activities (Xinhua)
2014-06-06
The Foreign Ministry on Friday slammed the remarks of a Tibetan leader in exile about dialogue with the central government and urged the Dalai Lama to stop secessionist activities. Lobsang Sangay, the "prime minister" of the "Tibetan government in exile" said that "Tibetan government in exile" will resume dialogue with the Chinese government soon and claimed that low-level talks have been kept all along. Lobsang Sangay also said the "Tibetan government in exile" will again promote the Dalai Lama's so-called "Middle Way" to seek "Tibet's self-rule". "Lobsang Sangay is a secessionist and the ringleader of the 'Tibetan government in exile,' who has never done anything good for Tibetan-inhabited areas," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news briefing. According to Hong, the "Tibetan government in exile" runs counter to Chinese laws. It is a secessionist organization with an attempt to seek "Tibet independence" and has not been acknowledged officially by any government since its existence, he said. Hong labelled Lobsang Sangay's comments "ridiculous". Hong said the essence the Dalai Lama's so-called "Middle Way" is actually "Tibet independence in disguise." He reiterated that the central government has made it clear that neither "Tibet independence" nor "semi-independence" is allowed. Hong said the central government's policy towards the Dalai Lama is consistent and explicit. The door for dialogue is always open. But, Hong said that the dialogue, with only Dalai Lama's private representative, will never be about the so-called "Tibet issue", but about the personal future of the Dalai Lama. He urged the Dalai Lama to give up his secessionist position, stop secessionist activities and match his words with deeds so as to gain trust from the central government and people with concrete actions. ^ top ^

Tibetan filmmaker freed from Chinese prison after serving six years for separatism (SCMP)
2014-06-07
Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who made a 2008 documentary about Tibetan nomads expressing discontent over China's rule, has been released from a Chinese prison after serving six years for separatism, his production company said. Wangchen, 40, was freed on Thursday in the western city of Xining, capital of Qinghai province, Switzerland-based Filming for Tibet said in a statement on its website. It said he was then driven by police to his sister's home about two hours away. Wangchen was arrested in March 2008 and sentenced to six years in prison in late 2009 on charges of trying to split the country. That followed his work on the 20-minute documentary Leaving Fear Behind, a collection of interviews with Tibetan nomads expressing disgruntlement about Chinese rule in Tibet, just ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Anti-government riots had broken out across Tibetan regions shortly before the Beijing games, leading to harsh punishments and a tightening of restrictions on dissent. Officers at the Qinghai Provincial Women's Prison, where Wangchen served out the last 17 months of his sentence, hung up the phone on Friday when a researcher attempted to confirm Wangchen's release. The statement quoted Wangchen as telling his cousin in Switzerland in a phone call that he looked forward to recovering his health and reuniting with his wife and children, who live in the United States. He also thanked those who supported him while he was locked away. “At this moment, I feel that everything inside me is in a sea of tears,” Wangchen was quoted as telling Gyaljong Tsetrin, who is also president of Filming For Tibet. Wangchen's wife, Lhamo Tso, who was granted asylum in the US in 2012, was quoted as saying: “Six years of injustice and painful counting the days ended today”. Wangchen spent the bulk of his sentence in a labour camp, partly in solitary confinement. His release follows the escape of an assistant on the film, Golog Jigme, 44, over high mountain passes to India after several terms in detention during which he says he was badly beaten. Beijing says Tibet has historically been part of China's territory for centuries, and the Communist Party has governed the Himalayan region since 1951. But many Tibetans say they were effectively independent for most of their history, and that Beijing wants to exploit their resource-rich region while crushing their Buddhist cultural identity. ^ top ^

Foreign minister says stapled visas show 'goodwill' during India trip (Global Times)
2014-06-11
China's policy of issuing stapled visas to residents in the South Tibet region that is claimed by India is a gesture of "goodwill," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday as his two-day visit to India ended. "It is a fact that a relatively big area along the eastern Sino-Indian border is in dispute. However, people living in those areas need interaction. As a special arrangement, we have resorted to stapled visas to address local people's need to travel," Wang said at a Monday press conference in New Delhi. Sun Shihai, vice director of the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that this may be the first time a Chinese official used the claim of "goodwill" in defense of stapled visas. "China always stands firm on settling the border issues through negotiation. The visa policy is not intended to deliberately create difficulty for local residents, but to show our principle on our territory in a friendly way. We have not acknowledged the legal status of the 'Arunachal Pradesh' since the 1970s, therefore a stamped visa is actually not acceptable," Sun noted. The stapled visa policy has long been a hotly debated topic for Indian media when writing on the disputed borders. China has issued stapled visas to Indian residents of Jammu and Kashmir since 2008 and to residents of the South Tibet region as part of a long-standing policy. High-level military exchanges were called off by India in 2010 after China provided a stapled visa for the then-head of India's Northern Army Command, which controls part of the disputed area of Kashmir. "Indian authorities will not let border disputes hinder cooperation in other fields, especially as the new Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known for pragmatism," Sun noted. "There are misunderstandings toward China's stance in the disputed region as some have been preaching about China's expansionism. China should make the historical facts known to more people," said Sun. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Officials laud Xinjiang business chances (Global Times)
2014-06-13
Officials from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Thursday expressed confidence about business opportunities in the region, saying the situation is under control. Stability in Xinjiang is guaranteed and people need not fear travel there, Shi Dagang, the vice-chairman of the region, claimed at a press conference held in Beijing on Thursday. More than 400 of 500 large domestic companies operate in Xinjiang while more than 100 among 500 large foreign companies have a presence in the region, Shi stated. The decision not to invest in Xinjiang is inadvisable and firms that pull out will regret it, said Xu Weihua, the deputy political commissar of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, citing an example of a Shandong-based company that invested in Xinjiang in the wake of a deadly riot on July 5, 2009 and achieved good economic results. Their comments came after a string of terrorist attacks, including one in the regional capital Urumqi that killed 39 civilians and injured 94 on May 22. Fears about terrorism in the region are widespread. Gao Hongbo, general manager of Horizon Oil and Gas Co in Alataw Pass in Xinjiang, told the Global Times Thursday that the situation in the area where his company is headquartered is stable. "We are in the bonded zone at Alataw Pass, where there are tremendous business opportunities. We want to turn the area into a platform for commodities display as well as a trading hub and introduce e-commerce in logistics," Gao said. Government support has been enhanced since Chinese President Xi Jinping called for development of an "Economic Belt along the Silk Road" connecting Central Asian states with China during his visit to Central Asia in September 2013.The National Development and Reform Commission said last week that it will work to implement a series of policies to promote employment, education and poverty reduction in Xinjiang. It also pledged to speed up the construction of major transport, water conservation and agricultural infrastructure. "Xinjiang has rich natural and energy resources and is a place fit for planting crops and cotton. It should serve as the core front during the country's western development drive and development of the economic belt," Zhang Baotong, a research fellow with the Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "The prospects for investing in energy, railway and textile will be great," Zhang told the Global Times. But there is a shortage of hard-working, well-educated and well-disciplined workers who understand Putonghua, said Mei Xinyu, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation. Companies operating in the region are currently required to hire at least 70 percent of new staff members locally. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

White paper helps improve understanding of "one country, two systems": HK chief executive (Xinhua)
2014-06-10
Hong Kong Chief Executive C Y Leung said on Tuesday that the white paper on "one country, two systems" practice in Hong Kong will help both local and international communities to better understand the "one country, two systems" policy. The Chinese central government on Tuesday published a white paper detailing the "one country, two systems" practice in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), stressing the policy as a basic state policy despite new circumstances. "It encompasses several important chapters, including comprehensive progress made in various undertakings in the Hong Kong SAR, efforts made by the central government to ensure the prosperity and development of the Hong Kong SAR, fully and accurately understanding and implementing the policy of 'One Country, Two Systems'," said Leung, at a media session at the Office of the Chief Executive at Tamar on Tuesday afternoon. The chief executive told reporters that a "high degree of autonomy" means a high degree of autonomy as stipulated in the Basic Law and as stated in the white paper and also previously by many members of the Hong Kong community and of the international community. "'High degree of autonomy' does not mean complete autonomy on the part of Hong Kong. So this is a high degree of autonomy as stipulated in the Basic Law, and it has been in the Basic Law since it was promulgated in 1990," he said. Leung said the white paper doesn't override the Basic Law, adding the paper not only reviews the successful implementation of the "one country, two systems" principle in Hong Kong in the past 17 years, but also looks forward to how this principle could further be implemented to the benefits of both Hong Kong and the country. The HKSAR government on Tuesday welcomed the white paper and encouraged the public to read it in detail for a deeper and comprehensive understanding of the practice of "one country, two systems" in the HKSAR. ^ top ^

Hong Kong politicians offer support to State Council's white paper (Global Times)
2014-06-12
The "one country, two systems" white paper released Tuesday has garnered support from the Hong Kong government and some legislators in Hong Kong and positive feedback from mainland scholars, even as some sections of Hong Kong legal professionals and the public have reacted against it. The official document, published by the State Council Information Office, marks the first official declaration by the Chinese government over Hong Kong's election disputes. President of the Hong Kong Legislative Council Jasper Tsang Yok-sing agreed the document has given a comprehensive explanation of the "one country, two systems" policy in Hong Kong, and believes it can set the tone for the city's political reform. The Hong Kong Bar Association has heavily criticized the white paper in a press release. It criticized the white paper for undermining the independence of the judiciary in the eyes of people in Hong Kong and the international community. Judges and judicial officers will not carry out any political mission, the association stated. The association also quoted a previous statement released in 2008 under the chairmanship of Rimsky Yuen, the current secretary of justice, stressing its point on independent judiciary. Yuen on Wednesday said he disagrees with the association's statement, and believes his intentions have been misinterpreted, the Ming Pao Daily reported. Zhang Dinghuai, deputy director of the Center for Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions at Shenzhen University, said Hong Kong society has misunderstood the true meaning behind the basic law. "What the white paper is proposing is not anything new," he told the Global Times, "It is intended to spell out the unspoken political meaning." The National People's Congress Standing Committee has "interpreted" the Basic Law four times in the 17 years since 1997, overturning Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal's verdict on four different cases. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Draft policy paper spells out Beijing's authority over Macau's autonomy (SCMP)
2014-06-13
The central government is drafting a policy paper on Macau which will stress that the city's autonomy is subject to Beijing's authorisation. The document on the practice of "one country, two systems" in the former Portuguese enclave will repeat messages similar to those delivered in the white paper on Hong Kong this week. But it will also address issues such as public order - in the wake of recent protests over lucrative retirement packages for top officials - and highlight the need for Beijing to step up communication with the Macau people. A central government-linked researcher who has been monitoring Macau's development said that while the outline of the document - the first stage in formulating a white paper - had been completed, the timing of its release had yet to be decided. "The drafting of the paper is partly related to the recent saga over the Macau government's proposal to grant lavish retirement packages to a former chief executive and top officials," the researcher said. On May 29, Macau's chief executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on bowed to public pressure and scrapped a bill that would have activated the packages. He made the U-turn two days after thousands of protesters converged on the legislature. The bill would have given former chief executives a stipend every month equivalent to 70 per cent of their monthly salary for as long as they were unemployed. Chui earns an estimated at 270,000 patacas a month. Retiring ministers would have received a one-off payment of up to 30 per cent of their monthly wage for each month of service. Protesters saw it as tailor-made for Chui's cabinet when its term ends on December 19. The researcher said Beijing was concerned about the controversy, which exposed governance problems within the Chui administration. "The central government will come up with ways to better explain to Macau people its policies towards the city," the researcher added. A deputy director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, Yin Xiaojing, said the promotion of the precise meaning of the "one country, two systems" policy needed to be deepened continuously. Yin added that a clear-cut and unequivocal stand against the "Occupy Central" movement should be taken. A spokesman for Macau's Government Information Bureau said: "At present, the Macau government does not have any information regarding this." Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said he also had no idea that the central government was preparing such a document. "Compared with Hong Kong, Beijing is relatively satisfied with the implementation of 'one country, two systems' in Macau," he said. In the Hong Kong white paper, the State Council stresses that the central government holds "comprehensive jurisdiction" over Hong Kong. It also emphasises there is no such thing as "residual power" for the special administration region. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Top political advisor to attend June cross-Strait forum (Xinhua)
2014-06-11
Top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng will take part in the week-long 6th Strait Forum, which will kick off on June 15 in the coastal city of Xiamen in southeast China's Fujian Province, a spokeswoman from the Chinese mainland said on Wednesday. Yu is chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. A number of politicians from Taiwan, including Kuomintang Vice Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu, will attend the upcoming forum, said Fan Liqing, spokeswoman of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, at a regular press conference. Taiwan's People First Party Secretary-General Chin Ching-sheng, New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming, and Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Chairman Lin Pin-kun will also take part in the event, Fan said. The forum will feature an array of activities on grassroots exchanges between the mainland and Taiwan, according to the spokeswoman. Fan highlighted two large-scale activities to be held during the event. A culture week to revere Matsu, the Chinese goddess of the sea, will be held from June 12 with the participation of more than 13,000 people, including over 8,600 from Taiwan. Matsu, or Mazu in Mandarin Chinese, is widely revered in Taiwan and other coastal regions of southern China. The other is a cross-Strait temple fair which will be held simultaneously in the cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou in Fujian Province. ^ top ^

Taiwan Affairs Office denies talks with Taipei stalled after legislature occupation (SCMP)
2014-06-12
Beijing yesterday rejected media reports that negotiations with Taipei had been suspended due to Taiwan's lack of progress in ratifying a free-trade services pact signed last June. "This is incorrect," said Fan Liqing, a spokeswoman for the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, under the State Council. Taiwan's deputy economics minister, Woody Duh Tyzz-jiun, said on Monday the mainland had not held talks with Taiwan over a merchandise trade agreement that was supposed to be signed at the end of this year. The possibility of concluding the talks this year was "nearly non-existent", he said. But Fan was quoted by Xinhua as saying that executive departments and business leaders on both sides "have remained in communication and exchanged opinions regarding various ongoing or preparatory talks". The trade-services agreement and the merchandise pact are follow-ups to the Economic Framework Cooperation Agreement - a semi-free trade pact - signed by the two sides in 2010. Duh cautioned that Taiwan would suffer if South Korea - one of the island's key competitors in the mainland Chinese market - signed a free-trade pact with Beijing. South Korea began formal free-trade negotiations with China, along with Japan, in 2012. They have so far conducted six rounds of talks with the hope of signing a pact within the next two years. Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has warned that failure to push through the follow-up pacts would discourage other countries from signing similar deals with Taiwan. Ratification of the trade services pact was delayed when students occupied the island's parliament for three weeks from March 18. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Strong rise in exports after measures prove effective (Global Times)
2014-06-09
China's exports rose stronger than expected in May, official data showed Sunday, giving a buffer against an unexpected fall in imports during the month. The country's exports grew by 7 percent in May from a year earlier to $195.47 billion, up from a 0.9 percent rise registered in April, while imports contracted by 1.6 percent to $159.55 billion, versus a gain of 0.8 percent in April, according to figures released on Sunday by the General Administration of Customs (GAC). Analysts had previously expected a rise of about 6.6 percent in exports during the month, while few had forecast a drop in imports. The trade surplus widened to $35.92 billion in May from the previous month's $18.45 billion, the customs data said. The brisk rise in May exports was mainly attributed to recovering external demand and the fading of base effects, said Zhou Jingtong, a senior analyst at the Bank of China in Beijing. The yuan's continued weakening against the US dollar, coupled with the implementation of a slew of government measures to support trade also serve to bolster export growth, he added. The State Council, the country's cabinet, announced in mid-May that new support measures, including more favorable tax rebates for exporters and increasing imports of crude oil, have kicked in to maintain stable trade growth. With the effect of the new measures being brought into full play, the export sector may see accelerated growth in June before stabilizing during the second half, Zhou forecast. An export climate index compiled by customs authorities was also announced on Sunday to have edged up 0.4 percentage points to 42.3 percent in May. The pick-up in the index is an indication that the country's exports will continue to see an improvement in the next two to three months, GAC said in a statement revealing the customs figures on its website. The shrinking imports, however, reflect still-weak domestic demand, Chen Wei, an analyst at Beijing-based brokerage house China Minzu Securities Co told the Global Times Sunday. Major commodity items such as iron sand, crude oil and soybeans had generally witnessed a decline in import prices in January-May, weighing down overall imports, said the GAC statement. But Chen stressed the country's imports are likely to turn around in months to come, as the economy may be warming up slightly in the second half of the year and drive domestic demand as a whole. A pickup in investment growth is likely for the rest of the year, buoyed by recent announcements of a raft of targeted measures, including additional spending on construction of railways and government-subsidized housing, Zhou at Bank of China said."This may compensate for the drag that has been put on growth by slowing investment," Zhou said, forecasting an uptick in overall economic activity. In the latest suggestion of the economy's ability to arrest downside risks, IMF Deputy Managing Director David Lipton told reporters in Beijing Thursday that China is on course to meet the official GDP growth target of 7.5 percent for this year, pointing to a favorable near-term outlook as part of the fund's annual review of the Chinese economy. In yet another sign, Nomura Securities last week raised its China growth target for 2014 to 7.5 percent from 7.4 percent. Still, both Chen at China Minzu Securities and Zhou at Bank of China said the trade picture has as yet not improved enough to meet the official target of 7.5 percent for trade growth. Combined exports and imports logged a mere 0.2 percent growth in the first five months of 2014, customs data showed, adding toughness to the target fulfillment. The country will likely miss its target for trade growth for the third year in a row in 2014, Zhang Ji, director of the Department of Foreign Trade with the Ministry of Commerce, said at a press conference on May 20, citing unfavorable factors, including higher labor costs and weaker global demand. After a lackluster start to the year, China's foreign trade growth would be required to reach an average annualized rate of 11.3 percent each month between May and December, Zhang said. ^ top ^

Reserve ratios cut for some Chinese banks as premier backs 'reasonable' growth (SCMP)
2014-06-10
The People's Bank of China announced details of a cut in reserve requirements for some banks and lenders yesterday, aimed at supporting small businesses, rural economies and consumption.The central bank said the 0.5 percentage point cut, effective next Monday, would apply to two-thirds of municipal commercial banks, most rural banks, as well as car financing companies and financial leasing firms. The announcement came as details of Premier Li Keqiang's recent remarks on the economy were released, showing what analysts say is a change of policy emphasis. "We have said no to the blind pursuit of GDP growth. That does not mean that we no longer care about reasonable economic growth," Li (pictured) told a mayor and seven governors from the mainland's most economically vibrant areas on Friday, according to a statement on the State Council's website. Last month the State Council revealed it would target more bank lending to small businesses and farms. Raymond Yeung Yue-ting, a senior economist at ANZ Banking, said the reserve ratio cut reflected the State Council and Li's increasing worries over slowing economic growth. "The RRR [reserve requirement ratio] cut is a signal that the government is considering more relaxation in monetary policy," Yeung said. "If economic data in May and June do not show a recovery, I expect a broad-based RRR cut to free up more funds in an effort to boost growth." Zhang Zhiwei, a China economist at Nomura, estimates 95 billion yuan (HK$120 billion) will be injected into the market as a result of the reduction. The mainland's gross domestic product grew by 7.4 per cent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, the weakest pace in six quarters and below its target of 7.5 per cent for this year - deepening concerns about the strength of the world's second-largest economy. Friday's conference on the economy was attended by Beijing's mayor and governors from Hebei, Shanxi, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Sichuan. Li said growth remained vitally important, despite the government's priority being restructuring the economy. He reminded officials of their "inescapable responsibility" to achieve this year's economic targets. "No delay in action is allowed," he said. At the meeting, Li asked ministers to submit a timetable for solving the top three problems complained of by governors: scarce credit, slowing direct investments and weak exports. Hao Hong, chief economist and managing director of Bank of Communications (International)'s research unit, said he believed that Li's statement suggested the "government will announce more pro-growth measures to boost growth very soon". ^ top ^

China stresses "targeted" economic control (Xinhua)
2014-06-11
China will attach greater importance to targeted control measures to keep economic growth in a proper range, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday. The country will focus on important issues in the economy, and make efforts to tackle them in a "precise, prompt and appropriate" manner, the premier said. Meanwhile, presetting and fine-tuning economic policies will be carried out along with risk prevention, said the premier while addressing the nation's top academicians and scientists at a conference in Beijing. Li said that the country will continue to innovate its macro-control ideologies, draw economic momentum from reforms and restructuring, and improve people's livelihoods. Li acknowledged that the economy still faces heavy downward pressure and imbalanced regional development. The Chinese economy grew 7.4 percent year on year in the first quarter, marking the weakest pace in 18 months. The country aims for an annual growth rate of around 7.5 percent for 2014. However, a growing consumption market at home and the processes of industrialization, informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization boast great potentials, said the premier, adding the country will have the capabilities to maintain medium to high level of economic growth for a long period. To achieve the goal, innovation is a must to drive growth toward better quality and greater efficiency, and lift the economy higher on the value chain. The government will continue to beef up fiscal support, to encourage enterprises to concentrate more on research and development, the premier said. Targeting support for agriculture and small companies, the central bank announced on Monday that it will cut the reserve requirement ratio by 0.5 percentage points for the banks engaged in proportionate lending to the farming sector or small and micro-sized enterprises, effective on June 16. ^ top ^

Economic belt planned along Yangtze (Global Times)
2014-06-11
A State Council meeting Wednesday said the country will build an economic belt along the Yangtze River, which involves around one-fifth of the country's land and 600 million people, according to a statement on the central government's website. The establishment of a modernized logistics system by 2020 is also on the government's agenda, according to the statement. Efforts will be made to cut logistics costs and foster large logistics companies. The meeting also decided to cut value-added tax for certain taxpayers, including some water suppliers and hydro power companies, which will save over 24 billion yuan ($3.84 billion) for them each year.  ^ top ^

China to meet M2 growth target (Global Times)
2014-06-12
China's broad money supply (M2) will grow by around 13 percent this year, meeting the target set by the country's top economic planner in March, the People's Bank of China (PBC) said on Wednesday. The PBC, China's central bank, said in its 2013 annual report that it will stick with a prudent monetary policy this year, while maintaining an appropriate amount of liquidity and guiding a stable increase in social financing and loans. Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the PBC, said in a statement included in the 145-page report that the central bank will "push forward the financial reform vigorously, maintain a stable financial market, increase the standards of financial services and management, and support the restructuring of the economy." The report was released after China on Tuesday posted a 2.5 percent year-on-year inflation rate in May, well below the 3.5 percent official target, which gives the government leeway to further fine-tune the economy. China's M2 increased by 13.6 percent to 110.65 trillion yuan ($17.11 trillion) year-on-year in 2013. On March 5, the country's top economic planning agency, the National Development Reform Council (NDRC), set a 2014 M2 growth target of 13 percent, the lowest increase in more than a decade. Lu Zhengwei, chief economist with the Industrial Bank Co, told the Global Times on Wednesday that China will likely meet the target, though the country's economy is facing serious downward pressure. "The slowing economy gives the central bank a good reason for monetary policy easing," Lu said. "China will achieve an annual M2 growth somewhere between 13 percent to 14 percent this year." Zhu Lixu, a Shanghai-based analyst with Xiangcai Securities, told the Global Times on Wednesday that a 13 percent increase will translate to a GDP growth of around 7.5 percent, meeting the target set by the central government at the beginning of 2014. However, achieving the NDRC target might have a negative impact on the economy, Zhu said. "It is not necessary for the government to maintain high-speed growth now," he remarked. "China needs to de-leverage, instead of adding more leverage which will delay the reform of the country's economic structure and increase the risks the government will have to manage in the future." The report reiterated major financial reform policies, such as quickening the liberalization of the interest rate and setting up a deposit insurance system, that have repeatedly been stressed by the government since a November meeting of the country's top leaders. The PBC made several moves in the first six months of this year to deepen the financial reform. On Monday, it announced that it will cut the reserve requirement ratio for banks with a certain proportion of lending to the agricultural sector and small firms in order to boost liquidity. On March 15, it widened the trading band of yuan to 2 percent above and below the PBC's fixed daily central parity rate, a vital move to reform the currency's exchange rate regime.The central bank will likely focus on establishing a deposit insurance system in the second half of 2014, Zhu said. However, no drastic measures will be taken to liberalize the interest rate, he noted, given that the reform might hinder a stable economic growth of the country, which Chinese Premier Li Keqiang vowed to maintain. However, Lu anticipated that the PBC might finally launch five banks owned entirely by private companies such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings in the next six months. That would be a significant move to free the interest rate, he said. ^ top ^

World Bank cuts growth forecast for China to 7.6pc (SCMP)
2014-06-12
The World Bank cut its forecast for economic growth in China this year to 7.6 per cent from its projection in January of 7.7 per cent. The Washington-based lender also lowered its forecasts for the other BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia and India - and called on emerging markets to strengthen their economies before the US Federal Reserve raises interest rates. The World Bank predicts the world economy will expand 2.8 per cent this year, less than its projection in January of 3.2 per cent. The forecast for the United States was reduced to 2.1 per cent from 2.8 per cent. The setbacks may be temporary: its estimate for world economic growth next year was unchanged at 3.4 per cent. "The global economy got off to a bumpy start this year, buffeted by poor weather in the United States, financial market turbulence and the [Ukraine] conflict", the bank said in its Global Economic Prospects report. "Despite the early weakness, growth is expected to pick up speed as the year progresses." Developed economies, where domestic demand is improving as fiscal pressure eases and labour markets recover, are providing the global expansion with momentum as their developing counterparts fail to accelerate. In the report, the World Bank warned emerging markets that the next bout of financial unrest may catch them off guard, recommending smaller budget deficits, higher interest rates and measures to boost productivity. Over the past year, emerging market assets have recovered from two sell-off periods, including one after the Fed first indicated in May last year plans to trim US monetary stimulus. The extra yield investors demand to hold dollar-denominated debt in developing countries over US Treasuries has since decreased to the lowest since January last year. That recovery is giving countries a respite to strengthen their economies before the inevitable increase in borrowing costs that will follow the Fed's interest rate increase, said World Bank economist Andrew Burns. The bank maintained its forecast this year for the euro zone, which is still recovering from its debt crisis, at 1.1 per cent, while its economic forecast for Japan was trimmed to 1.3 per cent from 1.4 per cent. ^ top ^

New yuan loans, money supply rise in May (Global Times)
2014-06-13
Both new yuan bank loans and money supply growth in May surpassed market expectations, data from the central bank showed Thursday, and experts said it was largely the result of the government's easing policies launched recently. Newly added yuan loans reached 870.8 billion yuan ($139.41 billion) in May, compared with market expectations of 750 billion yuan. By end of May, outstanding yuan loans reached 76.55 trillion yuan, up 13.9 percent on a yearly basis, according to data from the People's Bank of China. Xu Hongcai, director of the department of information under the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, noted that the central bank's decision to lower the reserve requirement ratio for some banks is the major reason behind the growth in new yuan loans. "A faster growth of loans will be a boost to the economy," Xu told the Global Times on Thursday. Broad M2 money supply reached 118.23 trillion yuan by the end of May, up 13.4 percent year-on-year, also slightly higher than the market consensus of 13.1 percent. The higher growth of money supply was largely the result of monetary policy easing, Nomura Securities said in a research note sent to the Global Times on Thursday. On April 25, the central bank lowered the reserve requirement ratio for some rural banks. On Monday, the central bank again announced to lower the ratio for banks that grant large loans to the farming sector and small and medium-sized companies. The credit loosening is already happening, which will help ease the downward pressure on the economy, Chang Jian, China economist with Barclays Capital, told the Global Times Thursday, noting that the economic growth already bottomed out in the first quarter. China's GDP growth slowed to 7.4 percent in the first quarter, and experts noted that the growth will remain at 7.4 percent or slightly higher in the second quarter, as major economic data such as the purchasing managers index have shown signs of improvement. Central bank data showed that the social financing aggregate, which measures liquidity in the economy, totaled 1.4 trillion yuan in May, compared with 1.55 trillion yuan in the previous month. A research note from China Merchants Bank said Thursday that besides factors such as smaller inter-bank financing, increasing difficulties faced by the property sector in raising money also contributed to the slowdown in social financing, which will be a negative factor in economic stabilization. "We continue to expect further easing measures in the next few months," the Nomura Securities research note said, forecasting that China's economy may rebound to 7.5 percent in the third quarter and 7.6 percent in the fourth quarter. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

US confirms another citizen held in DPRK (Xinhua)
2014-06-07
The United States confirmed Friday that another American citizen had been detained in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), bringing the number of Americans held by the Asian country to three. Jeffrey Edward Fowle, who entered the DPRK as a tourist on April 29, was detained for hostile acts, DPRK's official news agency KCNA reported Friday. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said her country was aware that Fowle had been detained in the DPRK. "This is the third US citizen that has been detained in North Korea," she told reporters at a daily news briefing held in the day. Two months ago, Pyongyang detained 24-year-old Miller Matthew Todd for "rash behavior" as US President Barack Obama met with President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye in Seoul. Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary, was arrested in the DPRK in November 2012 and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor last year for anti-state crimes. The US State Department issued a travel warning last month, advising US citizens against traveling to the DPRK, even by joining a group tour, to avoid the risk of being detained. Harf said the US remains prepared to send Robert King, its special envoy for human rights issues relating to the DPRK whose past trips had been canceled by the country, to Pyongyang to secure Bae's release. "That's the only one I can speak about specifically," she added. "But obviously, broadly speaking, it's important for us to get all of our citizens home." ^ top ^

S.Korea's top nuclear envoy to visit China this week (Xinhua)
2014-06-09
South Korea's top nuclear envoy will visit China for two days from Tuesday to meet his Chinese counterpart for talks on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear weapons program, Seoul's foreign ministry said Monday. Hwang Joon-kook, Seoul's chief negotiator for the six-party talks, will make a two-day visit to China from Tuesday to meet with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei, the foreign ministry said in a statement. During the meeting, the two diplomats will talk about how to deal with the DPRK's nuclear weapons program and overall situations on the Korean Peninsula, the ministry said. The two nuclear envoys were widely expected to discuss ways of resuming the long-stalled negotiations aimed at dismantling the DPRK's nuclear program. Hwang held a meeting in Washington last week with Glyn Davies, the US envoy for the disarmament-for-aid talks, reiterating that the DPRK should first demonstrate its sincerity toward denuclearization before resuming the talks. The DPRK has warned that it will conduct a "new form" of nuclear test. The latest test was carried out in February last year. The six-party talks, which involved the two Koreas, China, the United States, Russia and Japan, have been halted since late 2008. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mayor of Ulaanbaatar meets his counterpart of Beijing (Info Mongolia)
2014-06-06
Governor of the Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, Mr. Erdene BAT-UUL, who is conducting a working visit to China, was received by Mayor of Beijing Mr. Wang Anshun on June 05, 2014. During a meeting, Mayor E.Bat-Uul said, “Our two countries that bordered with mountains and rivers are eternal neighbors. Mongolia's priority policy to develop foreign relations with the People's Republic of China is to boost bilateral beneficial partnership at all sectors. Therefore, mutual cooperation between the two capital cities is significant in relations of the two countries. Mongolia and the PR of China are commemorating the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, besides 20th anniversary of “Friendship Relations and Partnership Agreement” and the 2014 is announced as the Friendly Exchange Year, where many events are being co-organized in a broad range. In the scope of this Friendly Exchange Year, I am delighted to conduct a visit to Beijing”. In response, Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun emphasized, “A capital city of any state is being a center of economy, education, society and culture. In this regard, our two cities have great opportunities to collaborate and contribute to development of the two countries. Thereby, we intend to support large companies of Beijing by promoting and investigating in Ulaanbaatar city's large scale project and programs. Currently, over 8,000 students from Mongolia are studying in China majored in trade and economy, whereas most of them are in Beijing. Therefore, we wish to expand this collaboration in culture and art fields”. At the end of meeting, Mayor E.Bat-Uul noted, “We will fully support your initiation. Meanwhile, the General Plan of Ulaanbaatar city was recently approved and in the frameworks, we plan to implement “Friendly Ulaanbaatar” program to develop tourism sector with our two neighbors. Furthermore, we expect to partner with Beijing on some projects and programs”. ^ top ^

The First Consultative Meeting between Foreign Ministries of Mongolia and Colombia run in Bogota (Info Mongolia)
2014-06-10
The Foreign Ministries of Mongolia and the Republic of Colombia held its First Consultative Meeting in Bogota city on June 05-06, 2014. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Damba GANKHUYAG representing Mongolian part and the other side by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia Patti Londoño Jaramillo, where parties reviewed the current state of bilateral relations and cooperation, and exchanged views on further possibilities to boost the ties. At the meeting, the Colombian side represented with its authorities from the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, National Planning Department, and Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, who delivered statements and expressed their willingness to collaborate and exchange experiences with Mongolia in the relevant sectors. The sides emphasized the official visit of Deputy Minister Patti Londoño Jaramillo to Mongolia conducted in 2012 stimulated the bilateral relations, particularly, created a business ties between the mining ministries of the two countries, besides sides also noted that there are wide opportunities for expanding bilateral collaboration in the areas of environmental protection, culture and education. In favor of promoting people-to-people ties, the Colombian side handed over a note on the endorsement of the visa waiver agreement for diplomatic and official passport holders. Issues were also touched upon the commencing talks between the related Ministries and Agencies on free trade and investment matters. Moreover, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia expressed its readiness to invite Mongolian tour guides and journalists in Spanish language training program at the first phase, which is being implemented by the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC). Parties also agreed on maintaining the frequency of bilateral political talks and supporting each other within international organizations. Besides the Deputy Minister D.Gankhuyag, Mongolian side was attended by Chairman of the Department of Americas and Africa B.Chuluunkhuu and the other part by Director of the Department of Asia, Africa and Oceania Sandra Rosas, Director of the Department of Multilateral Cooperation Andrea Alban, and Director of the Department of Cultural Relations Natalia Suescan. Mongolia and the Republic of Colombia have established the diplomatic relations on August 10, 1988. ^ top ^

President of the Republic of Latvia Andris Berzins is visiting Mongolia (Info Mongolia)
2014-06-13
The President of the Republic of Latvia, Mr. Andris Berzins is paying an official visit to Mongolia upon the invitation of the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj. This is the first ever visit by Latvian State Head to Mongolia that has a great importance for discussing ways of stimulating bilateral relations. During the visit the heads of state held a private meeting and official talks. As a part of the visit, President Berzins received courtesy calls from Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag and Deputy Speaker of Parliament R.Gonchigdorj. During the talks and meetings, the sides reviewed the current state of mutual relations and cooperation and deliberated directions for developing bilateral collaboration in all spheres. A focus was made on bilateral cooperation in the trade, economic and investment sectors, collaboration in transporting Mongolian export goods to European countries through the territory of Latvia, promoting contacts in the education sector, and training Mongolian youth in Latvia. In connection with the assuming by Latvia the chairmanship of the European Council in 2015, Latvia will provide support to Mongolia in launching the implementation of an agreement on partnership and cooperation established between Mongolia and the European Union last year, the sides agreed. Besides, international and regional issues of mutual concern were touched upon during the meetings. During the visit a number of documents were signed including a visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic and official passports, an intergovernmental agreement on international road transportation, and a cooperation memorandum between the Foreign Ministries of the two countries. In the context of the visit, a Mongolian-Latvian Business Forum was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a round table on education was hosted by Ministries of Education of Mongolia and the Republic of Latvia. Mongolia and Latvia had maintained comprehensive ties during the so called socialist period. Diplomatic relations between Mongolia and newly independent Latvia was established on October 15, 1991, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia. ^ 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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