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
  28.6-4.7.14, No. 531  
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Table of contents

Mongolia

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Bilateral Issues

China-Switzerland, China-Iceland FTA takes effect (Xinhua)
2014-07-01
Free-trade agreements between China and Switzerland and China and Iceland took effect on Tuesday, marking a new dawn for business between the countries. The agreements, which apply a zero-tariff policy to a wide range of merchandise, covers areas including government procurement, employment cooperation and intellectual property. Under the agreement, 99.7 percent of imports from China to Switzerland will be exempted from customs duties, while 84.2 percent of Switzerland's exports enjoy the same policy. Duties on China's exports including textiles, clothes, auto parts and metalware will be reduced substantially. Trade between Switzerland and China increased 126 percent year on year to 59.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2013. China is Switzerland's largest trade partner in Asia, while Switzerland is China's fifth-largest trade partner in Europe. Trade between China and Iceland stood at 220 million U.S. dollars last year. ^ top ^

China, Switzerland vow to boost parliamentary exchanges (Xinhua)
2014-07-03
China and Switzerland agreed in Beijing on Thursday to facilitate closer parliamentary exchanges and push forward stronger bilateral ties. The consensus was reached in the talks between China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang and Hannes Germann, president of the Council of States of Switzerland's Federal Assembly. Both of them hailed the new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between China and Switzerland that took effect on Tuesday. Zhang, chairman of the Chinese National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said the FTA has brought new opportunities to closer bilateral cooperation. He urged joint efforts to boost new achievements of their cooperation in all fields. Germann called the FTA as a milestone in bilateral friendship. The FTA, signed in Beijing on July 6, 2013, after nine rounds of negotiations over more than two years, is the first free trade pact between China and a country in continental Europe. According to the FTA, as much as 99.7 percent of Chinese exports to Switzerland will be immediately exempt from tariffs, while 84.2 percent of Swiss exports to China will eventually receive zero tariffs. Recalling that Switzerland was one of the first western countries that formed diplomatic ties with the new China, Zhang said the two countries had achieved remarkable progress. He recalled the China visit of Swiss President Ueli Maurer in July of 2013, in which Maurer met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. "Though the two countries differ in political systems and their paths for development, they enjoy the same goals of long-lasting peace and prosperity," he said. Zhang called on both sides to enhance understanding about each other's systems and national condition, and continue to support one another on issues regarding their core interests and major concerns. The NPC hopes to beef up exchanges with the Swiss Federal Assembly, and deepen cooperation in various areas to consolidate the public basis for bilateral friendship, Zhang said. Germann told Zhang that Switzerland adheres to the one-China policy and is willing to further cement economic links and win-win cooperation with China. The Swiss Federal Assembly hopes to strengthen exchanges and share experience with the NPC, to contribute to stronger bilateral friendship, he added. Germann is visiting China from July 3 to 9 as Zhang's guest. ^ top ^

Analysts say Sino-Swiss free trade deal to foster win-win trade ties (Xinhua)
2014-07-03
With the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) entered into force on Tuesday, China and Switzerland have established a preferential trade relationship for goods and services. Swiss officials and experts say the FTA will foster the win-win trade and economic exchange within the two sides. The FTA, signed in Beijing on July 6, 2013, after nine rounds of negotiations of more than two years, is the first free trade pact inked between China and a country in continental Europe. According to the FTA, as much as 99.7 percent of Chinese exports to Switzerland will be immediately exempted from tariffs, while 84.2 percent of Swiss exports to China will eventually receive zero tariffs. From a Swiss perspective, the FTA enables a competitive advantage compared to countries which have not a FTA with China. Noting that the vast majority of industrial and agricultural goods exported from Switzerland to China will enjoy tariff concession, either some with immediate effect or some after a period of transition, Swiss Federal Councilor Johann Schneider-Ammann on Tuesday said, "This means that Swiss products will become considerably more competitive over the short and medium term." "If you ask what shall be the positive effects out of it, naturally, it is trade, and trade development on both sides," he added. He said, "Switzerland is, honestly speaking, a very tiny market. We look for the huge Chinese market, but on the other side, China will find in Switzerland partners on a top technology level and innovation level." Meanwhile, in terms of services and the protection of intellectual property under the FTA, he said it will improve the legal certainty and therefore the ability to plan, which will cut costs for Swiss businesses and open up new opportunities. Patrick Odier, chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association told Xinhua that the FTA is going to facilitate enormously the exchange of know-how, in first place it triggers the collaboration in all sectors of the industry. "Switzerland will be beneficial in technique, construction and mechanics, and we will also have a strong improvement in the trade within the field of luxury goods and special products like chemistry," he noted. In the financial and banking industry, he said the FTA will bring in the two-way avenue both are looking forward to. Philippe Monnier, executive director of Greater Geneva Berne Area's Economic Development Agency also told Xinhua that the FTA will encourage bilateral trade and investment, by definition this will benefit both China and Switzerland. Besides, the Chinese consumers will enjoy the benefits of more tariff-freed Swiss products into the Chinese market, he reckoned the FTA will attract more Chinese companies and investment into Switzerland to use the country's geographical and policy advantages to conduct business in Europe. "In our view, the most important advantage is that Chinese business people will change their perception of Switzerland," Monnier said. He stressed that Switzerland will no longer be seen as only a country of chocolate and cheese but also as an ideal country for international business, in particular for hosting international operations such as European headquarters. He said compared to other European countries, Switzerland is more liberal and pro-business, and many global companies choose Switzerland for their European headquarters. By taking advantages of the country's competitive taxation, outstanding in innovation, academia-industry technology transfer, he added that Chinese companies could better use Switzerland as a platform to scale up their presence in Europe. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Chinese premier meets Indian vice president (Xinhua)
2014-06-29
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with Indian Vice President Mamid Ansari on bilateral ties on Saturday. Li said China and India are two most dynamic emerging economies facing great cooperation prospect. China will work India to grasp the opportunities brought by their respective development, and promote the growth of regional economy. He said China is willing to hold peaceful negotiation with India to properly resolve their boundary issues to jointly maintain regional peace and stability. China is ready to join hands with all parties to carry forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence to safeguard regional and global peace, development, prosperity and stability, he noted. Ansari said India and China are good neighbors and friends. Their cooperation is conducive to themselves, Asia and the world. India's new administration attaches high importance to the relationship with China and is striving for a stable and strong development of it. India is ready to work with China to strengthen their cooperation in areas of politics, trade and culture, consider each other's major concerns, and push forward bilateral ties to a new high, Ansari said. Ansari also attended a commemoration marking the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence on Saturday afternoon, after meeting with Li at the Great Hall of the People. Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the commemoration and delivered a keynote speech. Ansari was invited by Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao to pay an official visit to China from June 26 to 30. ^ top ^

Xi calls for global approach to security (Global Times)
2014-06-30
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday called on countries to participate in global security on an equal footing, saying that flexing military muscle only reveals the lack of moral grounds or vision rather than reflecting one's strength. Xi made the remarks in a keynote speech at a commemoration marking the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Stressing that security should be universal, Xi said all countries have the right to participate in international and regional security affairs on an equal footing and shoulder the shared responsibility to maintain security both internationally and in various regions. "We should champion common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and respect and ensure every country's security," Xi told an audience of over 700. "It is unacceptable to have security just for one country or some countries while leaving the rest insecure, and still less should one be allowed to seek the so-called 'absolute security' of itself at the expense of others' security," he said. He called on countries to step up cooperation at the global and regional level and jointly counter non-traditional security threats, fight against terrorism of all forms and remove the breeding grounds of terrorism. Disputes and differences between countries should be resolved through dialogue, consultation and peaceful means, Xi said, adding that countries should settle disputes and promote security through dialogue. "Willful threats or use of force should be rejected," said Xi. "Flexing military muscle only reveals the lack of moral grounds or vision rather than reflecting one's strength." He said security can be solid and enduring only if it is based on a moral high ground and vision. "We should work for a new architecture of Asia-Pacific security cooperation that is open, transparent and equality-based, and bring all countries together in a common endeavor to maintain peace and security in both our region and the world," Xi said. Myanmar President U Thein Sein and Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari participated in the commemoration and delivered speeches. Also present at the commemoration were Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, top legislator Zhang Dejiang and top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng. In 1954, leaders of China, India and Myanmar initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which stand for mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. Xi also warned against attempts to establish a dominant civilization in the world and said diversity of civilization is a defining feature of human society. There are 7 billion people of more than 2,500 ethnic groups who live in over 200 countries and regions and speak more than 5,000 languages, said the Chinese leader, adding that different nations and civilizations are rich in diversity and have their own distinct features. "No one is superior or inferior to others," he said. "We should respect diversity of civilizations and promote exchanges, dialogue, peaceful and harmonious coexistence," Xi noted, adding that human history has proved that any attempt to establish a dominant civilization in the world is an illusion. ^ top ^

"2014-RIMPAC" drill kicks off (Xinhua)
2014-07-01
The U.S. Navy held a welcome and opening ceremony for multinational naval drill "2014-RIMPAC" in Hawaii on Monday, marking the start of the month-long biennial war games. At the ceremony, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Harry Harris delivered a speech and introduce the drill organized by the U.S. Navy. Answering questions at a press conference, Harris also briefed the drill events joined by a fleet from the Chinese Navy, which is taking part in the drill for the first time. The drill events taken part in by the Chinese fleet, such as gun firing, maritime security operations, surface warship maneuvers, military medicine exchanges, humanitarian rescues and disaster relief, reflect possible common challenges faced by China, the U.S. and other countries of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), Harris told reporters. The participation of the Chinese Navy can enhance the transparency of the military of the participating countries, deepen mutual understanding and maneuver how to work together to handle a crisis appearing in the Pacific Ocean, Harris said. Zhao Xiaogang, drill director of the Chinese fleet, explained the three main goals of the Chinese Navy to take part in the drill, one of which is to remain committed to push ahead the new-type military relations between China and the U.S. in a sound and steady manner. He said the Chinese Navy is keen to deepen exchanges and practical cooperation with the navies of other nations, and to show the positive attitude of the Chinese armed forces towards maintaining world peace and regional security. A Chinese fleet with about 1,100 soldiers and officers arrived in the Pearl Harbor last week to take part in the RIMPAC naval exercise. It is composed of the missile destroyer Haikou, missile frigate Yueyang, supply ship Qiandaohu, hospital ship Peace Ark and two ship-borne helicopters, as well as a commando unit, a diving squad and a medical team. RIMPAC, which started in 1971, is the world's largest multinational maritime military exercise. A total of 22 nations will participate in this year's naval drill. ^ top ^

Xi to start two-day visit to S. Korea (China Daily)
2014-07-03
President Xi Jinping kicks off a two-day state visit to South Korea Thursday morning amid intense regional situation. Xi, who is on his first visit to the neighboring country since taking office,is doing something unusual by visiting only South Korea during the trip as it is rare for China's top leaders to visit a single country in a single trip. Accompanied by a large business delegation, including several of the country's leading telecom tycoons, the tightly scheduled trip focuses primarily on economic cooperation and strategic communication amid a changing situation in northeast Asia, according to diplomats from both sides. As many as 12 agreements are to be signed, in areas of economy, trade, finance, the environment and consular affairs, Chinese vice foreign minister Liu Zhenming said this week. Observers are expecting a breakthrough in the China-ROK FTA talks, which started in May 2012 and will soon enter 12th round in South Korea this month. A FTA mechanism has been long expected by the two sides, especially as the trilateral China-South Korea-Japan FTA talks has been stalled due to Japan's declining ties with the two neighbors. China has become the largest trade partner, export destination and import source of South Korea, while South Korea has become the largest import source and one of the most important investors for China 22 years after they established diplomatic relations. Two-way trade reached $274.2 billion in 2013, a 55-fold increase compared with that at the beginning of their diplomatic ties. The visit will also see the fifth meeting between Xi and his South Korean President Park Geun-hye since both became the state leaders. It has been widely believed that regional issues, including the Korean Peninsula and the growing assertive actions taken by Japanese leaders to beef up nationalism, will become key topics between the two leaders. ^ top ^

Beijing envoy urges positive ties with Manila despite South China Sea tensions (SCMP)
2014-07-03
China's ambassador to the Philippines says economic ties between the two countries are at disappointing levels and both must work to advance their common prosperity. Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines and Vietnam are embroiled in territorial rows with China over the South China Sea. Beijing claims most of its waters, including some of the world's busiest shipping lanes, as an integral part of China. Relations between China and Japan have also been strained by disputed islands in the East China Sea. Ambassador Zhao Jianhua did not refer to the territorial dispute, but called the share of Chinese investment in the Philippines as "disappointing", with Philippine companies investing more in China than the other way around. He told a business audience that the Philippines gets only 1.4 per cent of China's outbound direct investment to 10 Southeast Asian countries. "It is imperative and essential that the two countries focus on things that can unite us, focus on things that can promote common prosperity," he said in a speech to the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Zhao also said that 426,000 tourists from China visited the country last year, a 70 per cent increase on a year earlier, "despite the difficulties we're having". But he compared that with four million Chinese tourists who go to Malaysia yearly and three million to Thailand. If the country can attract one million or two million Chinese tourists, it would be a huge boost to the local tourism industry, he said. Mainland China is the Philippines' third-largest trading partner, with two-way trade of US$14.62 billion last year. ^ top ^

China, S. Korea reiterate denuclearization of Korean Peninsula (Xinhua)
2014-07-04
Chinese President Xi Jinping urged Thursday all parties concerned to refrain from creating more stirs on the Korean Peninsula as many uncertainties are still existing. "All parties concerned should jointly and properly manage and control the situation, avoid causing tension, prevent the situation from losing control, and creating no more stirs," he said during talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Xi told Park that China upholds an objective and impartial position on the Korean Peninsula issue, and is firmly committed to pushing for a nuclear-free Peninsula, maintaining the peace and stability on the Peninsula, and resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation. "We hold that the concerns of all sides should be treated in a balanced way, and a synchronized and equivalent method should be sought to bring the nuclear issue on Korean peninsula into a sustainable, irreversible and effective settlement process," said Xi. China positively evaluates the proposal of a "Korean Peninsula trust-building process" raised by Park and supports the improvement of relations between the north and the south to realize reconciliation and cooperation and ultimately achieve independent peaceful reunification, Xi said. Park said South Korea hopes to build south-north mutual trust through the "Korean Peninsula trust-building process," push for reconciliation between the two sides and safeguard peace on the Peninsula. South Korea spoke highly of China's efforts to promoting peace and talks, and is willing to enhance cooperation with China to achieve the goal of denuclearization on the Peninsula and boosting peace, stability and prosperity in Northeast Asia, she said. Meanwhile, in a joint statement issued here Thursday, the two countries agreed that denuclearizing and maintaining peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula are in the common interests of all countries involved in the six-party talks. The two countries called on all relevant parties to solve the major issue through dialogue and negotiation, the statement said. The statement also urged all relevant parties to unremittingly promote the process of the six-party talks. To achieve that end, all parties should respect one another, strengthen communication and coordination on both bilateral and multilateral levels, and address the concerns of all parties involved, it added. The six-party talks, involving the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, have been suspended since late 2008. Seoul said in the statement that it wants to build mutual trust with the DPRK through the "Korean Peninsula trust-building process", so as to boost the development of South Korea-DPRK relations and safeguard peace of the peninsula. China spoke positively of South Korea's efforts to improve relations with the DPRK, according to the statement. China supports South Korea and the DPRK to improve ties, and carry out reconciliation and cooperation via dialogue. It respects the will of the Korean people to realize peaceful reunification on the Korean Peninsula. The Chinese president arrived here Thursday for a two-day state visit to South Korea, his first trip to the Asian neighbor since he took office last year. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

People's Daily urged to strengthen "core values" publicity (Xinhua)
2014-06-29
Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Liu Yunshan on Sunday visited the People's Daily and asked the newspaper to strengthen publicizing the "socialist core values." Liu, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, asked the CPC's flagship newspaper to implement the core values in every report field in an imperceptible manner and inspire the whole society with the values. News reporters should take the responsibility of facilitating social progress and work as the pioneers for practising and promoting the important core values, Liu said. The core socialist values refer to the national goals of prosperity, democracy, civility and harmony; social goals of freedom, equality, justice and the rule of law; and individual values of patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendship. Liu also urged the newspaper to innovate reporting style and develop the new media to enhance its influence. ^ top ^

China recalls prisoners serving terms outside jails (Xinhua)
2014-06-30
China has recalled 247 criminals who are serving sentences outside the jail back into prison, as they were found to have not met the requirement for out-of-prison serving any more. Among them are 18 former officials at or above the level of a deputy department head, the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) revealed on Sunday. Some of these criminals were canceled the remission of serving terms out of prison for they had been found to have gained the serving mode by illegal means, such as offering bribery, according to the top procuratorate. The SPP said that it uncovered 188 cases involving illegal grant of commutation, parole and serving sentence outside jail from March to the end of May. It is investigating 30 cases concerning duty-related crimes, involving 40 officials in the judical system. ^ top ^

Growth of Party membership records slower growth (Global Times)
2014-07-01
For the first time in a decade, the Communist Party of China (CPC) saw a decline in its membership growth rate last year, the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee announced on Monday, a day before the world's largest political party celebrates its 93rd founding anniversary. The number of CPC members totaled 86.69 million by the end of 2013, up 1.8 percent year-on-year. The growth rate saw a rare decrease of 1.3 percentage points from 2012, according to the statement from the organization department. Some 2.41 million people joined the Party in 2013, 825,000 fewer from the previous year, which marked the first drop in newly-enlisted CPC members in the past decade. Statistics from the organization department showed that 2.42 million members enlisted in 2004 and the number of new members per year kept growing and finally exceeded 3 million in 2012. Some 21.66 million people had filed their applications by the end of 2013, read the statement. The CPC Central Committee urged earlier in June that new Party members should be enlisted a "prudent" and "balanced" manner. The 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, following requirements raised at a meeting of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau in January. Zhang Xi'en, a political science professor at Shandong University, told the Global Times that the decrease was an implementation of the decision made at the top to control the size of the CPC, rather than a result of fewer people being willing to join the Party. "Stricter controls on new membership cannot fix the structural problems of the CPC. There are some CPC members who are not able or willing to fulfill their obligations to the public. The system needs a mechanism to exclude unqualified members," Zhang noted, adding that the present standards, including a "lifelong struggle for Communism," are too empty. Some 114 unqualified people out of nearly 220,000 total members from Yichun, East China's Jiangxi Province have been expelled or told to quit during the discipline overhaul which started in April 2013. An official from a district justice bureau in Shanghai told the Global Times on condition of anonymity that the many problems have been revealed among Party members that require rectification and new members must go through strict inspection. "Some don't care for the Party, instead, they focus on their own promotion," the official said. Zhang also observed similar utilitarianism among student Party members, who make up 3 percent of all CPC members and 39 percent of the newly enlisted, as many students file their applications because Party membership can open some doors in job hunting. The Monday statement also noted that the number of the Party's grass-roots committees rose to 4.3 million last year, a 2.4 percent increase from 2012. "Instead of focusing on the number of CPC members or the coverage of local Party committees, what's more important is their role in and contribution to local communities. Many have failed to actually represent people's interests. Some damage the Party image through their wrongdoing," Zhang warned. ^ top ^

Xi sending strong message about graft in PLA with probe of Xu Caihou (SCMP)
2014-07-02
The announcement of several high-profile corruption cases this week ahead of the 93rd anniversary of the Communist Party, including the investigation into retired top general Xu Caihou, is a strong message from President Xi Jinping that fighting graft is crucial to the survival of the organisation, military analysts said. Despite the fact that many top generals were promoted by Xu, observers said the president was unlikely to launch a major reshuffle in the PLA, at least for now. The government announced details of the graft investigations on Monday, the day before the party's anniversary. Xu Guangyu, a Beijing-based retired major general, said the expulsion of Xu Caihou from the party, a former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, showed Xi had mustered strong backing and personal prestige in the military. The announcement indicated the party would "take practical action to fight corruption", he said. Xu Caihou is the most senior military official to be brought down in Xi's anti-corruption drive. Xu was in charge of managing high-level personnel in the army from 2004 to 2013, with most incumbent senior officials promoted by him. However, his downfall does not mean the PLA leadership will undergo a major reshuffle, two independent sources from the army told the South China Morning Post. "Xu's biggest mistake was using his power to arrange for his men to fill seats in the Central Military Commission leadership before Xi became its chairman in December 2012," one of the sources, a retired PLA officer, said. "That made Xi very unhappy. [But] Xi will not rashly make any personnel changes in the commission yet as he needs more time to boost the army's morale as a way to win trust." The president will use Xu's case as a warning rather than purging officers from the senior ranks and will offer the retired general's former supporters the chance to change their allegiance, another PLA source said. Xu's case has been handed to military prosecutors, hinting it will be a closed-door trial. ^ top ^

CPC expels three senior officials for bribery, adultery: CCDI (Global Times)
2014-07-03
Three officials were expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) over allegations of "serious violation of discipline and law," including bribery and adultery, announced China's top discipline watchdog Wednesday. According to an announcement posted on the website of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), Yu Gang, former deputy head of the general office of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, was stripped of his Party membership and official post for having taken advantage of his position to seek interests for others, and for bribery and adultery. Ji Wenlin, former vice governor of South China's Hainan Province, was also expelled from the Party for taking advantage of his position to seek interests for others, demanding huge bribes and committing adultery. Tan Hong, a former senior officer in the guard bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, was also expelled. The CCDI has handed all three cases to prosecutors for suspected infringement of law. In a previous post on its website, the CCDI made a rare explanation over the definition of "adultery," following heated discussion among the public over the scandal of Dai Chunning, a deputy general manager with China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation, who was dismissed from the Party following graft and adultery accusations. Adultery, as stated in the post on June 7, refers to voluntary sex between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse. While it is not illegal under China's criminal law, the act of adultery is said to have violated "moral ethics under communism," as well as Party regulations. Article 150 of "the Chinese Communist Party Disciplinary Regulations" stated that adultery causing a bad impact will receive a warning or serious penalty, while serious violators will be expelled from the Party. Yu and Ji are among a total of seven officials to be expelled from the Party Wednesday. The five others, all facing bribery allegations, include Zheng Xinghua, deputy mayor of Yichang in Hubei Province, Xu Tongwen, Qilu University of Technology's former Party secretary and Wang Shiyi, Party secretary of Xinzhou district in Wuhan, Hubei Province. ^ top ^

China's supreme court sets up environment cases division (Xinhua)
2014-07-03
The Supreme People's Court (SPC) has set up a tribunal for environment cases to better implement the revised environmental protection law, said a court spokesman here on Thursday. The tribunal will hear civil cases involving pollution, exploitation of natural resources and conservation of natural environment such as forests and rivers, said Sun Jungong, SPC spokesman, at a press conference. It will also hear appeal cases forwarded from lower courts, supervise the trial of environment cases at lower courts and draft judicial explanations about such cases, Sun said. The SPC expects that the tribunal can set the standards for trials of environment cases, better protect people's environmental rights and help fight pollution and other offenses harming the environment, he said. About 134 special environment tribunals have been established at local courts in 16 provincial divisions since the first was founded in southwest China's Guizhou Province in 2007. Following suit of the SPC, all provincial high courts will also set up similar institutions while city courts and lower ones can decide based on their own conditions, said Zheng Xuelin, chief judge of the tribunal, also at the press conference. According to Zheng, environment cases have taken a very small proportion of all court cases across the country, nearly 30,000 out of more than 11 million. Zheng admitted that it is still difficult for people to file an environment case since courts are held back by technical problems such as lack of practical standards to assess damage, and in some cases interference from local governments. With the operation of more environment tribunals, Zheng expects the number of these cases to increase. China's top legislature revised the environmental protection law in April, imposing much harsher punishment on polluters and heavier liability on government. The new law allows public litigation on environmental issues and expands the range of the plaintiff, from parties directly affected by environmental damage to officially registered social organizations that engage in public litigation on environmental issues for more than five years. China has faced an increasing number of protests, or "mass incidents", over environmental issues. Cities have seen residents take to the streets against paraxylene projects, which they believe are a major threat to the environment and public health. Courts are considered a more rational way for people to express their concerns without triggering chaos and violence. ^ top ^

CPC sets timetable for anti-corruption system (Xinhua)
2014-07-04
The Communist Party of China (CPC) will complete its new plan for disciplinary inspection reform by 2017, establishing a practical and effective anti-graft system. The plan was announced at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Monday, just as four formerly high-ranking officials were expelled from the Party, including Xu Caihou, former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission. The reform will focus on tightening checks and supervision of leaders, Huang Shuxian, minister of supervision, told Xinhua on Thursday. A dual leadership scheme will grant more power to discipline inspection agencies, Huang said. Local discipline inspection agencies will report not only to the CPC, but to superior inspection agencies when investigating cases. The Party will also sharpen the efficiency of inspectors dispatched to discover malpractice and harmful work styles in provincial governments, state-owned enterprises and public institutions. Last year, 10 teams of inspectors made 20 visits and came back with information that helped bring down a number of corrupt officials. More inspection agencies at the central level and new laws and regulations concerning corruption will be announced soon. According to the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), around 30 officials at provincial and ministerial level or higher have been investigated since November 2012, among them were two members of the CPC Central Committee and two alternate members. In the first five months of the year, 62,953 officials were punished, up 34.7 percent on the same period last year. "Decentralized anti-graft agencies impede the fight against corruption, often resulting in failure of major cases," Huang said: "To solve the problem, reform and institutional innovation are a must." In March, the CCDI and the Ministry of Supervision (MOS) established three new offices to handle inspections and oversight of discipline officers. Despite the new offices, the CCDI and the MOS have keep the organization's size unchanged through streamlining and integrating functions. "Like all other reforms, disciplinary inspection reform is a gradual process and needs solid step-by step-efforts," said Xin Ming of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangzhou's party boss Wan Qingliang, a rising political star, now facing graft investigation (SCMP)
2014-06-28
Wan Qingliang, the Communist Party chief of Guangzhou who was once considered a rising political star, is under investigation for corruption, the party's anti-graft agency has announced. Wan's downfall is significant, as being party chief of the metropolis of 12 million people is traditionally a stepping stone to higher office. Wan's predecessors Huang Huahua and Zhu Xiaodan were both promoted to Guangdong governor after holding the post. The brief notice by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection yesterday said only that Wan, 50, was suspected of "grave violations of discipline" - a party euphemism for corruption. A source close to the Guangzhou government said Wan was taken from the official compound by police yesterday afternoon. The announcement came as a surprise to many. A day earlier, Wan had made a public appearance touring a district in the city accompanied by local officials. Yesterday's Guangzhou Daily, the municipal party committee's official newspaper, had a report of the tour on its front page. The probe into Wan appeared to be a cause for concern for Guangdong officials. "[News of the detention] is a bombshell to us," said a Guangzhou official who declined to be named. Wan was seen as having a bright future after rising up the ranks at a relatively young age. He was head of the Guangdong Communist Youth League, the power base of former president Hu Jintao. Wan built a career as a propaganda official in Meizhou, Guangdong - hometown of famed general and state leader Ye Jianying. Ye's family is believed to have retained political influence in the city since his death in 1986. Wan served in top posts in Jieyang from 2003 to 2008, including party chief. It is widely believed that the probe into Wan may be linked to the recent interrogations of his former top aides. Former vice-mayor of Guangzhou Cao Jianliao was detained in December for corruption, along with a number of senior Jieyang officials. Hours after Wan's detention, the party's official websites said Ma Xingrui, a Guangdong deputy party chief, would step in to lead the provincial capital, which is the third biggest city in China. But authorities later deleted the posts, saying the appointment was unconfirmed. Wan came under fire soon after he took the Guangzhou post in 2011, when he appeared to suggest that housing prices were too low. He told mainland media at the time that his monthly rent for a luxury flat was only 600 yuan (HK$750), despite the market price being five times that. At a meeting on Thursday, as part of an ongoing "mass line" campaign initiated by President Xi Jinping, Wan urged local officials to better discipline themselves and their relatives, Southern Metropolis Daily reported yesterday. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang courts jail 113 amid Beijing terror crackdown (SCMP)
2014-06-30
Courts in the far west region of Xinjiang have imprisoned 113 people for terrorism or other charges, according to a government-run news portal. Regional courts in the Kashgar area held open sessions on Sunday to sentence the 113, including four who received life terms, in 69 cases, Tianshan.net said. The region, home to Muslim minority Uygurs, has seen a rise in violence in recent months. Most recently, an attack in a vegetable market in the regional capital of Urumqi left 43 dead, including four suspected attackers, prompting Beijing to announce a year-long crackdown on what it calls terrorism in the region. Beijing blames the violence on religious extremists with ties to overseas terrorism groups. Members of the Uygur minority have long complained of repressive ethnic policies and practices, and economic disenfranchisement in their resource-rich land. In one case, two defendants were convicted of organising and leading terror groups after they viewed terrorism materials, spread extreme religious thoughts and plotted terror activities, according to Tianshan.net. Both received life imprisonment. In another case, a man operating a cutlery shop in Kashgar we given a 10-year prison term after he sold two hatchets, two kitchen cleavers and two daggers to a man who used them in an attack that killed two and injured one. The knife vendor destroyed the registration book detailing the sale, and he was convicted of harbouring criminals, Tianshan.net said. A court also jailed a man for 10 years for forwarding to seven friends private messages believed to incite ethnic hatred and racial discrimination, the news portal reported. Another three men were sentenced to 10 years for failing to report wanted suspects and trying to cover them up, Tianshan.net said. Dilxadi Rexiti, spokesman for the Uygur rights group World Uygur Congress, said courts in Xinjiang are in a political race to sentence Uygurs to jail terms amid the crackdown. “They have trampled on the rights of the defendants to argue and appeal, accusing Uygurs who are rising against China's suppression and expressing their dissatisfaction of being terrorists,” he said. “It will only lead to extreme forms of resistance when people cannot protest peacefully.” ^ top ^

Beijing bans Xinjiang officials and schools from participating in Ramadan (SCMP)
2014-07-02
Beijing has banned civil servants, students and teachers in the mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from taking part in Ramadan fasting, government websites said. This has prompted condemnation from an exile group today. The ruling Communist party is officially atheist, and for years has restricted fasting in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uygur minority. Xinjiang sees regular and often deadly clashes between Uygurs and state security forces, and Beijing has blamed recent deadly attacks elsewhere in the country on militants seeking independence for the resource-rich region. Rights groups blame tensions on religious and cultural restrictions placed on Uygurs and other Muslim minorities in the vast area, which abuts Central Asia. Several government departments posted notices on their websites in recent days banning fasting during Ramadan, which began this weekend. During the holy month, the faithful fast from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious. The commercial affairs bureau of Turfan city said on its website on Monday that "civil servants and students cannot take part in fasting and other religious activities". The state-run Bozhou Radio and TV University said on its website that it would "enforce the ban on party members, teachers, and young people from taking part in Ramadan activities". "We remind everyone that they are not permitted to observe a Ramadan fast," it added. A weather bureau in Qaraqash county in western Xinjiang said on its website that "in accordance with instructions from higher authorities", it "calls on all current and retired staff not to fast during Ramadan". A state office which manages the Tarim River basin posted pictures of its staff wearing traditional Uyghur "doppa" caps tucking into a group meal on Saturday. "Although the meal coincided with the Muslim festival of Ramadan, the cadres who took part expressed a positive attitude and will lead the non-fasting," it said. Beijing has in the past said that restrictions on fasting are meant to ensure the health of government employees. Dilxadi Rexiti, a spokesman for the exiled World Uygur Congress, cited local sources as saying that authorities encouraged Uygurs to eat free meals on Monday, and inspected homes to check if the fast was being observed. "China taking these kind of coercive measures, restricting the faith of Uygurs, will create more conflict," he said. "We call on China to ensure religious freedom for Uygurs and stop political repression of Ramadan." ^ top ^

Xinjiang's party chief urges 'firm hand' in anti-terror crackdown and engaging with Uygurs (SCMP)
2014-07-03
Xinjiang party chief Zhang Chunxian has vowed to use an iron fist to stop terrorists, while also pledging to use an education campaign to engage ethnic Uygurs more effectively. Zhang vowed to respond to violence "firmly' and "precisely" during a visit to a military outpost in Urumqi with armed forces commander Wang Jianping yesterday, according to local news portal Tianshan.net. In the meeting, Zhang said the paramilitary police played an essential role in the long-term stability of the region. Xinjiang has become the front line in Beijing's national anti-terrorism crackdown, with the central government blaming the recent spate of violence around the country, including bombings and knife attacks, on separatists seeking to establish an independent Islamic state. However, human rights groups and the mainly Muslim Uygurs say Beijing's hardline stance against religious practices and human rights violations in Xinjiang are only driving more people to extremism. Several Uygur academics last week expressed support for the anti-terror campaign, saying militants sowing dissent and attacking innocents did not represent the majority's views. President Xi Jinping, while urging tough punishment for terrorists, called for a campaign to better engage and integrate Uygurs in the region during a visit in April. He encouraged the minority group to learn both their mother tongue and Chinese, and called for more development and jobs. Earlier this week, government websites in Xinjiang issued notices that officials, civil servants and students were banned from participating in Ramadan, a holy month of fasting for Muslims. The Turpan city website warned "civil servants and students cannot participate in fasting and other religious activities". The Xinjiang Tarim River Basin Management Bureau posted photos of Muslim cadres at a meal to celebrate the anniversary of China's Communist Party on a date coinciding with Ramadan. ^ top ^

New tales in the Gobi (Global Times)
2014-07-04
Accounting for one sixth of China's territory, home to a population of 22 million and rich in natural resources, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is set to embrace a new growth momentum created by the central government's initiative in developing a Silk Road economic belt, with the prospect of becoming a hub connecting Asia and Europe. Though now making headlines more often for its anti-terrorism efforts, Xinjiang is also a frontier of reform and development in Northwest China. As with other parts of China, Xinjiang is riding a wave of urbanization that is expected to offer a better solution to the issues of unemployment and poverty and improve ethnic cohesion. Urbanization has helped create the dazzling economic miracle of China in the last decade, but Xinjiang, with its unique geographic location, ethnic composition and development level, has to be innovative in drafting an economic development plan. A development strategy with a heavy focus on infrastructure may not be enough to provide the force to drive Xinjiang's economy forward. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), backbone of local economic development, is tasked with establishing new cities in Xinjiang, with a special focus on southern Xinjiang, now plagued by a serious terrorism threat. The XPCC has set the goal to build one city by each of its 14 divisions within the next three to five years. The private sector is expected to provide more vitality to local development. The private sector contributed 27 percent of local GDP in 2013, providing over 2 million job opportunities and playing an important role in maintaining social stability. The private sector is also showing greater flexibility in making inroads in foreign markets, especially in Central Asia. Central government emphasized in the second central working conference on the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region at the end of May that ethnic unity is the lifeline of all ethnic groups and the footstone for the development and progress. While making sure of Xinjiang's social stability and lasting peace, the government also called for the region to step up its opening-up process to build a prosperous Xinjiang. In this special report, we present you with a comprehensive report of how Xinjiang is trying to stage an economic takeoff through urbanization and developing the private sector, with the support of the central government and the whole country. Xinjiang is facing a major historical opportunity. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

60% mainlanders oppose referendum: survey (Global Times)
2014-06-30
A Global Times poll has revealed that the majority of residents of the Chinese mainland have no idea that there is an ongoing unofficial referendum and planned Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong, and more than 60 percent opposed these two activities after being informed. The survey interviewed 1,434 respondents aged over 18 in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Changsha, Chengdu and Xi'an. The poll found that less than one-third of respondents knew about the unofficial referendum, and less than a quarter knew about the Occupy Central movement. After being given a brief explanation, almost 60 percent of respondents opposed the vote and only 5 percent of them said they support the vote. Nearly half of the respondents said they oppose the Occupy Central movement and more than 28 percent said they not only oppose Occupy Central, but also added that such behavior should be strictly punished by the local police. In addition, more than 77 percent said the future of Hong Kong should be decided jointly by the 1.3 billion Chinese. And 82 percent polled said that they would support the government to take strong moves to maintain stability if riots happen. "The activists in Hong Kong should not focus on challenging the bottom lines [of the central government], they should try to win their rights and interests within the framework of the Basic Law," said Yin Hongbiao, a professor of international relations at Peking University. He added that the mainland people should also objectively look at the diversity of Hong Kong society. ^ top ^

Alliance for True Democracy proposal wins Occupy Central poll as nearly 800,000 Hongkongers vote (SCMP)
2014-06-30
A proposal tabled by the Alliance for True Democracy, a group comprising 26 of the 27 pan-democratic lawmakers, won the unofficial "referendum" on Hong Kong's electoral reform that ended last night. It secured 331,427 votes, or 42.1 per cent of the 787,767 valid ballots cast during the 10-day exercise, which was organised by the Occupy Central movement. A joint blueprint put forward by Scholarism and the Federation of Students came second with 302,567 votes (38.4 per cent), followed by a People Power's proposal, which clinched 81,588 votes (10.4 per cent). All three call for the public to be allowed to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive election, an idea repeatedly dismissed by Beijing as inconsistent with the Basic Law. And about 88 per cent of voters agreed that the Legislative Council should veto any reform proposal put forward by the government if it failed to meet international standards, compared with 7.5 per cent who disagreed. Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a co-organiser of Occupy Central, said: "Today should go down in the history of Hong Kong's constitutional development as the referendum was the largest scale of expression of public opinion in the city's history." He said they would submit the results to Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. A total of 798,957 people had voted since the exercise began on June 20. Discounting 11,190 repeat votes caused by people casting ballots both online and at polling stations, the number of valid votes cast was 787,767. More than 6,000 votes cast at polling stations had still to be counted. Alliance convenor Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek said: "In the last 10 days, Hong Kong people have spoken clearly that they want universal suffrage. They agree that public nomination is the most effective mechanism [to fight] against screening." Tai said the campaign would push for the winning proposal, and if the government refused to accept it and tabled a different proposal, the civil disobedience movement would hold another referendum to decide whether to mobilise supporters to block traffic in Central. The students' proposal calls for the nominating committee for candidates to comprise only directly elected lawmakers; People Power wants it to include both elected lawmakers and district councillors; the alliance does not suggest in detail how it should be formed. Commenting on the poll for the first time, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government would take note of the opinions. But she stressed again that electoral reform must comply with the Basic Law, saying officials "could not deviate from the legal considerations". A government spokesman said it was the common aspiration of the people and government of Hong Kong to implement universal suffrage for the 2017 election. But public nomination was unlikely to be adopted in view of controversies relating to the legal, political and operational aspects of the proposal. Many voters yesterday said their decision was motivated by the approval of funding in the Legislative Council on Friday for developing two new towns in the northeastern New Territories. Engineer Alan Lam said this was "one of many issues which showed officials stand on the opposite side of public opinion". "At least we have to let them know that we won't stay silent." ^ top ^

Annual march biggest in recent years, with the focus democracy in 2017 (SCMP)
2014-07-01
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets to demand "genuine" democracy in 2017 and express their anger at Beijing's declaration of its authority over Hong Kong in the biggest July 1 protest in recent years. The last marchers arrived at Chater Garden, Central, after 11pm - about eight hours after the scheduled start of the demonstration in Victoria Park. Some students sat in the street in Chater Road and vowed to stay all night in a rehearsal for the planned Occupy Central protest. Last night, organiser the Civil Human Rights Front put the turnout at 510,000, while police said 92,000 started the march in Victoria Park. In both cases, the figure was the highest since 2005. The University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme put the turnout at between 154,000 and 172,000. The march was another key test of support for the democracy movement, after 800,000 people voted in a 10-day unofficial referendum on models for the 2017 chief executive election. Passions were also stirred by lawmakers' controversial vote last week to grant funding for preliminary work on contentious plans for new towns in the northeastern New Territories. Civil Human Rights Front convenor Johnson Yeung Ching-yin said: "The massive turnout shows Hong Kong people want genuine universal suffrage. The government must respect public opinion." Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun agreed, saying: "[Chief Executive] Leung Chun-ying will find it difficult to govern now hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets." The police figure of 92,000 for those who joined the march at Victoria Park was almost three times the total given for last year. Yet police said 99,500 people took part in the June 4 vigil for the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown last month. Organisers said 430,000 marched last year. They claimed 530,000 people turned out in 2004 and 500,000 in 2003. A Post poll found demands for a democratic election for chief executive in 2017, with no candidates "screened out" on political grounds, was the most important cause for marchers, with 65 per cent making it one of their top two issues. More than 60 per cent cited last month's white paper, in which Beijing asserted its "comprehensive jurisdiction" over the city. However, Beijing's top man in Hong Kong, liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming, said neither the march or the referendum would affect the central government's determination to implement universal suffrage "in accordance with the law". Beijing-loyalist groups said about 500,000 people took part in 150 events marking the 17th anniversary of the handover. They included a free concert at Kai Tak and a carnival outside government headquarters in Admiralty. Despite temperatures hitting 32 degrees Celsius and thunderstorm warnings for most of the evening, protesters began queuing more than an hour before the scheduled 3pm start time. "My elder daughter didn't want to come as she said it was too hot today, but I told her we had to come to protect our city," said advertising worker Tom Shum, 40, who was joined by his wife and two daughters. Marchers took more than three hours to leave the park, as Causeway Bay became jammed and police refused organisers' pleas to open all six lanes of Hennessy Road to marchers. Police accused the organisers of deliberately slowing down the procession. About 4,000 police were on duty. While the march passed off with few incidents, officers kept a wary eye on hundreds of students later as they carried on their protest in Central. The Federation of Students and the student-led group Scholarism had announced plans for overnight sit-ins in Chater Road and outside the chief executive's office in Admiralty. The Hong Kong government said it respected residents' rights to free expression, but said allowing the public to nominate candidates for chief executive in 2017, as 91 per cent of those polled by the Post wanted, was "unlikely" due to "legal, political and operational" issues. ^ top ^

Beijing unmoved by massive rally turnout, say advisers (SCMP)
2014-07-03
Beijing is unlikely to make concessions on political reform despite demands by hundreds of thousands of people who joined the July 1 pro-democracy march, according to state media and advisers to the central government. Financial authorities also called on the city to guard against economic instability in the face of possible disruption by the Occupy Central movement, with one adviser warning of "bloody conflicts" if confrontation between Beijing and Hongkongers worsened. "It is difficult for the central government to change its stance simply because of the massive turnout," Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said. "I'm worried the escalating confrontation between Beijing and Hongkongers could result in bloody conflicts." The Civil Human Rights Front, organiser of the annual march, put the turnout on Tuesday at 510,000, while police said 92,000 started the march in Victoria Park. Despite the turnout, a Global Times editorial said Beijing would not make concessions. "Some Hongkongers see 'democracy' as their only advantage over the mainland, now that the city is losing its economic edge," the newspaper, known for its hardline stance, said. "Joining protests makes some people feel proud and superior to their mainland counterparts." Peking University law professor Wang Lei said the Hong Kong government should take the protest seriously. But whether it would give the pro-democracy camp more bargaining power was hard to say. "Since the final plan of how to achieve universal suffrage hasn't been released yet, such populist protests will not help us solve problems in society," he said. The People's Daily said putting patriots in charge of the city was in line with "the principles of heaven and earth". It said late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping defined patriots as those "who loyally support China's exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, and those who do not impair [its] prosperity and stability". The Hong Kong government plans to release its proposal for the 2017 chief executive election later this year. In Beijing, Vice-Minister of Finance Wang Baoan said Occupy Central - which threatens to block traffic in the financial hub if the government fails to come up with a satisfactory proposal for 2017 - would damage economic development and social stability. "Hong Kong is an important offshore renminbi centre, but the development of the business relies on the stability of its financial environment," he said. The People's Bank of China said Hong Kong was the largest offshore renminbi market and should value this status. "The [renminbi] business is a good piece of pie. If you don't want to eat, this is your choice," said Guo Jiangwei, of the bank's monetary policy department. The US State Department also weighed in, saying: "The legitimacy of this person [elected in the 2017 chief executive poll] will be enhanced if universal suffrage is fulfiled and if the election provides a genuine choice of candidates that are representative of the voters' will." Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei responded yesterday by saying the central government "resolutely opposes any form of interference by any foreign country, and hopes the relevant country stops gossiping about Hong Kong's internal affairs". ^ top ^

HK chief executive firm on reform (Global Times)
2014-07-03
Hong Kong Chief Executive C Y Leung Thursday reiterated the government's stand that constitutional reform should be implemented in accordance with the Basic Law and National People's Congress Standing Committee decisions. Speaking at his Legislative Council question and answer session, Leung said many people are not clear about the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration in defining Hong Kong's constitutional reform. He urged the community to read the Basic Law in depth. During the question and answer session, Leung also urged the public not to express views by unlawful actions. He noted police arrested 511 people who illegally occupied Chater Road in Central and blocked traffic on Wednesday, saying these people had clearly expressed their views but still refused to leave after repeated advice and warnings from police. Their actions caused a waste of police resources, he said. ^ top ^

 

Macau

For first time, Macau sees contested election for body that will choose next chief executive (SCMP)
2014-06-30
Macau held its first competitive poll yesterday for members of the election committee that will choose the city's next chief executive in August. But that was not enough to satisfy critics, who said more than 99 per cent of residents in the former Portuguese enclave would still have no say. Only 5,448 people were qualified to vote for the 344 seats on the election committee out of a shortlist of 352 candidates from various sectors - the first time that there were more runners than available seats. The remaining 56 representatives were chosen by the political sector - including the city's legislature, members of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference - and by the religious sector, which is not required to follow the rules imposed on other sectors. "Although it sounds like an unprecedented situation where some members would not be elected uncontested again, people in Macau still regard it as a game in which they have no chance to participate," said activist Sulu Sou Ka-hou of the pan-democrat group Macau Conscience. The group protested outside polling stations to condemn the "small-circle election", handing out pamphlets printed with a big Chinese character for "ugly". "We hope the electors understand that this is a very ugly election," Sou said. "It allows the politically privileged to pick the chief executive, whereas more than 99 per cent of Macau residents have no say in the race." Competition only existed in the labour, education and sports sectors. In many other sectors, such as commercial and professional, lone candidates ran unopposed. No pan-democrats ran for election to the committee. Macau watcher Larry So Man-yum said the so-called competition did not make the election more representative. "Different sectors in Macau have long been coordinating the list for the election. It's just that they failed to come up with a perfect one this time," he said. Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on, who is seeking a second five-year term, bowed to public pressure last month and shelved a bill that would have given lavish retirement packages to former officials. Thousands took to the streets to protest against the plan in what was the biggest march in Macau since the June 4, 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. But So believed it was very likely that Chui would be reelected, as the new election committee would not want any great changes. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Cross-Straits ties boosted as historic Taiwan visit finishes (Global Times)
2014-06-30
The Chinese mainland's chief of Taiwan affairs Zhang Zhijun said that the mainland will continue to develop cross-Straits ties when meeting with Taipei mayor Hao Lung-bin on Sunday, following his historic four-day visit to Taiwan. Zhang expressed his appreciation for the active role that Hao and the city of Taipei have played in recent years in promoting cooperation and exchange. Zhang said that throughout his four-day visit to the island, he sensed mainstream public support for peaceful development across the Straits and that local people expressed hopes that cross-Strait ties would be further enhanced. The trip by Zhang marked the first time a ministerial-level Taiwan affairs chief from the Chinese mainland visited the island in 65 years. However, he was forced to cancel several appearances on the final day of his visit on Saturday, after demonstrations turned rough on Thursday. Protesters included members of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, according to the Taipei Times. The top negotiator for cross-Straits affairs also on Friday met with Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu and exchanged views on deepening cooperation between Kaohsiung and mainland cities. Separately, Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou said in an interview with Forbes that the mainland needs to "do more homework" about Taiwan. "Even though the mainland has invested a great deal of time and money into researching Taiwan... they still need a more in-depth understanding of these issues, and to figure out how to handle them so that mainland is not seen as a threat to Taiwan. This is not an impossible task, but they need to do more homework," he said. Ma made the remark after a statement by the spokesperson of mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office earlier, which stated that all Chinese mainland nationals have the right to decide issues concerning national sovereignty, including Taiwan affairs. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China signs RMB business MoUs with Luxembourg, France (Xinhua)
2014-06-29
The People's Bank of China (PBoC), China's central bank, on Sunday announced that it has inked two Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) on renminbi (RMB) business with the central banks of Luxembourg and France. The MoU between the PBoC and Banque centrale du Luxembourg (BCL) aims to establish cooperation in terms of oversight, exchange of information and assessment pertaining to the renminbi business in Luxembourg in view of a forthcoming designation, by the PBoC, of a renminbi clearing bank in Luxembourg, said the PBoC. Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the PBoC, and Gaston Reinesch, Governor of the BCL, on Saturday signed the MoU in the margins of the Bank for International Settlements' Annual General Meeting taking place in Basel, Switzerland, the BCL said in a statement on its website.`The BCL will monitor the renminbi market in Luxembourg and share relevant data with the PBoC, noted the statement. Zhou and Christian Noyer, Governor of the Banque de France, on Saturday signed a separate MoU to set up shortly a renminbi payment system in Paris. This MoU was the first step towards the creation of a renminbi clearing and settlement infrastructure in Paris. This payment system will function on the basis of a clearing bank that will be designated by the PBoC, the French central bank said in a statement on its website. ^ top ^

Shanghai reduces restrictions (Global Times)
2014-07-01
Shanghai on Tuesday shortened the negative list that bars overseas investment into some sectors in the Shanghai free trade zone (FTZ), a policy move designed to lower the entry barriers for foreign investors into the Chinese market, but analysts suggested that the focus should be on the rules for a wider market. The newly revised version of the negative list cut the number of bans and restrictions on foreign investment in the FTZ to 139 items from the previous 190 items. One of the biggest changes is made in the financial sector. In the previous version of the negative list, foreign investors were not fully allowed to participate in the banking industry and the services offered by finance, trust and currency brokerage companies. But in the revised version, foreign investors can do business in these sectors as long as they abide by the related regulations. Other sectors that are newly opened to foreign investors include oil refinery, nonferrous metal smelting and the wholesale market, according to a statement on the website of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone. The easing of restrictions is in line with the market expectations, Zhang Yugui, director of the School of Economics and Finance at the Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. But Zhang also noted that foreign investors should have more access to the services industry, as core industries such as the manufacturing sector are still firmly controlled. Shanghai FTZ, launched in September 2013, was seen as a testing ground for financial reforms, commodities trading and logistics. Shanghai adopts a "negative list" approach for foreign investment in the zone, which ensures foreign companies can invest without any restriction if a sector is not on the list. The number of bans or restrictions that the new negative list has lifted for foreign investment is not the central issue. What matters more is whether what has been achieved in the FTZ can be extended to the whole country, analysts said. "At present, the newly opened sectors that are excluded from the shortened negative list actually don't attract much interest from foreign investors, and the policy is only confined to the free trade zone. What overseas investors value the most is the massive market potential in the whole country," Qiang Yongchang, director of the International Trade Study Center at Fudan University, said on Tuesday. The actual impact of the policy innovations carried out in the FTZ on the dynamics of the entire Chinese economy is the fundamental issue, instead of the specific policy privileges, Qian pointed out. The opening of the sectors is an unprecedented move in China, and where the line should be drawn for the restrictions in the future will require time and patience to figure out, he said. The People's Bank of China has held an internal discussion and expects the rules related to the negative list could be expanded beyond the FTZ by the end of this year or early next year, Zhang said without elaborating. "It's just an anticipation for now, and whether it will be achieved depends on China's risk control ability, as an open capital market is vulnerable to arbitrage," Zhang noted. "The reduction to the scope of the negative list re-establishes European companies' confidence in China's commitment to the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone," said Stefan Sack, vice president of the European Chamber and Chairman of its Shanghai Chapter in a statement e-mailed to the Global Times Tuesday. There is, however, still great room for further eliminating many of the remaining barriers to foreign investment in the zone that would bring benefit for both European business and China, Sack said. ^ top ^

China to strengthen media cooperation along Silk Road Economic Belt (Xinhua)
2014-07-02
Nearly 100 representatives from 11 countries gathered in Beijing on Wednesday to discuss media cooperation among countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt. Officials, diplomats and media representatives from China, Russia, India, Iran and some central Asian countries are attending the Silk Road Economic Belt Media Cooperation Forum. China is willing to strengthen media cooperation with relevant countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt, said Li Haifeng, vice chairwoman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, when delivering a keynote speech. Li noted that discussing the media's role in the Silk Road Economic Belt is important to promote mutual understanding and beneficial cooperation among the countries. China's initiatives to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st-century maritime Silk Road, known as the "One Belt and One Road," were put forth by Chinese President Xi Jinping during two separate visits to Central Asia and Southeast Asia in 2013. President Xi Jinping's proposed "Silk Road Economic Belt" revival project could involve over 40 Asian and European countries and regions with a combined population of 3 billion. ^ top ^

China's Q2 GDP to grow 7.5%: report (Xinhua)
2014-07-03
China's economy is expected to grow 7.5 percent in the second quarter this year due to obvious signs indicating a pick-up in the economy since May, a report forecast on Wednesday. The forecast came after economic growth in the world's second largest economy slowed to 7.4 percent in the first quarter, marking the lowest rate of growth in six quarters. In order to ease the downward pressure, the government has rolled out a raft of measures to ensure stable growth since April, including plans to boost investment in railways and affordable housing projects, tax reductions for small and micro-sized firms, and cuts to reserve requirement ratios for certain banks, said the report, which was released by the International Finance Research Institute under the Bank of China, a major state-owned commercial bank. The report said that these initiatives have started to take effect in boosting the economy, as reflected by improvements in industrial output, consumption, exports and electric power generation. Official data showed industrial production expanded at a faster pace in May by rising 8.8 percent year on year, accelerating 0.1 percentage points from the April figure. Retail sales in Jan-May grew 12.1 percent, slightly higher than the 12 percent growth rate in the first four months. Meanwhile, fixed asset investment was generally steady by growing 17.2 percent year on year in the first five months. The country's statistical authority is scheduled to announce the second-quarter data for gross domestic product (GDP) and others including industrial output, fixed-asset investment, and consumption on July 16. The report predicted that third-quarter growth will rise to 7.6 percent on expectations of improved external demand, domestic policies to stabilize exports and the depreciation of the yuan, the Chinese currency. However, challenges remain that may pose risks to the economy, including a cooling real estate market, local government debts and overcapacity, the report noted. Faced with these challenges, the report forecast the government's fiscal policies will be more active with an eye on boosting the economy as well as pushing forward economic restructuring. It also forecast that monetary policies are not likely to become overly relaxed, though they will become more flexible and targeted. ^ top ^

WTO concludes fifth review of China trade policy (Xinhua)
2014-07-04
The fifth World Trade Organization (WTO) trade policy review of China concluded here on Thursday, with WTO members commending the vital role of China's economic growth to the world economy and some also raising higher expectations for China to assume more responsibilities. During the two-day review with the first session held on Tuesday, WTO members conducted a collective evaluation of measures of the comprehensively deepening reforms launched by China's new leadership, and the full range of China's trade policies and practices and their impacts on the functioning of the multilateral trade system. Having presented to members China's trade and investment development in the context of carrying out its reform agenda, Wang Shouwen, head of the Chinese delegation and assistant minister of Commerce of China, delivered responses on Thursday to the statements made during the review sessions from over 40 WTO members, including the United States, the European Union, Japan, Brazil, India, South Africa and Russia. As for concerns raised by members in their statements regarding issues such as the relationship between Chinese government and market, transparency, consistency in implementation of laws, regulations and polices, China's support policies, and the use of trade remedies, Wang replied in details and clarified certain misunderstandings. It was noted that China has received around 1,600 written questions from 30 WTO members in advance of this year's review, a reflection of China's increasing importance in global trade. Mariam M.D. Salleh, the Chairperson of the Trade Policy Review Body and Malaysian ambassador to WTO, said in her concluding remarks on Thursday that "the fifth trade policy review of China has provided an excellent opportunity to improve our understanding of its trade and investment policies," commending this review as a "successful" one. "Members noted the role that China's economic growth had played in contributing to world economic recovery in the aftermath of the global financial crisis," said Salleh, adding that members also commended China's determination to carry out reforms. China, the world's largest merchandise trader and second largest economy, also got praises for their efforts and progresses in implementing the new trade facilitation agreement and opening its markets to products from the least developed countries. Given the size of China's economy and the impact of its policies to the world economy and the functioning of WTO, some members expected China to play a leading role in the multilateral trade system. In this regard, Wang said that behind the two high rankings was the fact that China is still a developing country, facing daunting tasks in maintaining sustainable economic growth. "Therefore, China would actively participate in the multilateral trade negotiations and assume responsibilities commensurate with our level of development, competitiveness of our industries and level of people's income," he said. Wang said that China looked forward to work with all to smoothly implement the whole Bali package, to successfully formulate the post-Bali work program, and to fully conclude the Doha round towards a multilateral trading system that is more balanced and development-oriented. Trade policy reviews are an exercise, mandated in WTO agreements, in which member's trade and related policies are examined and evaluated at regular intervals. Significant developments that may have an impact on the global trading system are also monitored. All WTO members are subject to review, with the frequency of review depending on the economy's size. The United States, China, the European Union and Japan are reviewed every two years. ^ top ^

China's external debt hits 5.44 trln yuan (Global Times)
2014-07-04
China's outstanding foreign debt hit 5.44 trillion yuan (891.41 billion US dollars) by the end of March, the country's forex regulator said on Thursday. The figure is about 3.3 percent, or 175.1 billion, more than that at the end of last year. The amount does not include the outstanding external debt of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions or that of Taiwan, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said in a statement on its website. Of the total outstanding external debt, registered external debt reached 3.48 trillion yuan, while the balance of trade credit between businesses amounted to 1.96 trillion yuan. Most of the debt owed to foreign creditors resulted from short-term borrowing, as outstanding external debt with a term of one year or less amounted to 4.25 trillion yuan, while long- and medium-term outstanding external debt came in at 1.19 trillion yuan. In terms of currency structure, debt denominated in US dollars accounted for 81.32 percent of the outstanding registered external debt, that in Japanese yen accounted for 4.46 percent and that in euros accounted for 5.26 percent. ^ top ^

Mainland China services sector booms (SCMP)
2014-07-04
Activity in the mainland's services sector expanded last month at its fastest pace in 15 months, a private survey showed yesterday, reinforcing signs that the broader economy is stabilising. The services purchasing managers' index compiled by HSBC/Markit rebounded to 53.1 from 50.7 in May, well above the 50-point level that demarcates expansion in activity from contraction. "The expansion in the services sector reinforces the recovery seen in the manufacturing sector, and signalled a broad-based improvement over the month," said Qu Hongbin, the chief economist for China at HSBC. "We think the economy is slowly turning around, and expect the recovery to remain supported by accommodative policies on both the fiscal and monetary fronts over the coming months." In a sign that the mainland economy is regaining some internal strength, a sub-index measuring new business jumped to 53.8 last month, the strongest expansion since January last year. Government data on the services sector released earlier in the day also pointed to continued strong expansion, although the pace of growth dipped slightly to 55 from 55.5 in May. The findings follow upbeat readings from similar factory activity surveys earlier in the week which offered signs that the world's second-largest economy is steadying as a flurry of government stimulus measures start to kick in. Beijing has stepped up policy support in recent months to give a lift to economic growth, which dipped to an 18-month low in the first quarter. Such measures include targeted reserve requirement cuts for some banks and quicker fiscal disbursements. "We should especially note the evident rebound in services businesses related to manufacturing activities," said Cai Jin, a vice-president at the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, which compiles the official PMI. Official data showed companies remained confident despite a slowdown in new order growth. The services sector, which accounted for 45 per cent of the mainland's gross domestic product in 2012 and about half of all jobs in the country, is expected to post steady growth in coming years as the economy matures. However, some economists warn economic recovery still appears patchy, with a cooling property market, sluggish exports and high local government debt levels remaining as key risks. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

North Korea fires ballistic missiles ahead of President Xi's visit to South (Global Times)
2014-06-30
North Korea on Sunday fired two short-range ballistic missiles into waters off its east coast, triggering speculation about what signal the nation is trying to send a few days ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to South Korea. The North fired two missiles around 5 am from the vicinity of Wonsan, Gangwon Province, which landed in international waters in the Sea of Japan, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) told the Xinhua News Agency. The missiles are presumed to be Scuds with a range of about 500 kilometers, the JCS added. According to a JCS official, the North fired the missiles without designating no-sail zones, which the South Korean military views as a clear provocation. The launch came three days after the North fired what were believed to be three short-range projectiles off its east coast on Thursday. The latest missile launches were aimed at increasing pressure on Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-hye ahead of their talks, Shin In-Kyun, head of Korea Defense Network, a Seoul-based think tank, told the AFP. South Korea said Friday that the talks between Xi and Park will include how to deal with North Korea's nuclear weapons program. "The North is sending a message of warning in advance, to prevent the leaders from criticizing Pyongyang too harshly," Shin said. Cai Jian, an associate professor of Korean studies at Shanghai's Fudan University, saidChina has made it clear that it would like to see a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. The North, however, is sending a strong message through recent missile launches that it will continue developing nuclear weapons while ignoring international pressure. Based on the North's recent moves, the Six-Party Talks that China has been pushing for are unlikely to be resumed anytime soon, Cai said. However, other observers are downplaying the meaning behind the North's missile launches. "The missile launches have nothing to do with Xi's visit to the South," said Cui Zhiying, director of the Korean Peninsula Research Center at Tongji University. "Xi's visit is a return favor after Park's visit to China last year, which was set long ago. The North has known about it for a long time." He said the launches are part of the North's normal military drills, which will not affect China-North Korea relations. A North Korean diplomat told Japanese media that the launch was just a routine drill. Xinhua quoted Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the private Sejong Institute in Seoul, as saying that the North's recent missile launches should be viewed as a protest against the latest US-South Korea military exercise, which the North denounced Saturday as a rehearsal for a war of aggression. ^ top ^

Military officers of S.Korea, US, Japan to meet for talks on DPRK nuke program (Xinhua)
2014-07-01
Top military commanders of South Korea, the United States and Japan will hold their first talks in Hawaii this week about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( DPRK)'s nuclear program, local broadcaster YTN reported Tuesday. Three chairmen of their respective Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), including Adm. Choi Yun-hee, Gen. Martin Dempsey and Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, will meet in Hawaii at 5 a.m. local time Wednesday on the sidelines of the biannual Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational naval exercises. It will be the first meeting among top military commanders of the three nations. Defense ministers of the three allies meet every year on the sidelines of the Asia security dialogue, called the Shangri-La Dialogue. The RIMPAC, which will start on July 9, is the world's largest multinational maritime military exercise, in which the United States and Pacific Rim nations participate. The trilateral military meeting will be held at the invitation of the United States to talk about military coordination among the three allies in dealing with the DPRK's nuclear and missile threats, said the report. After the meeting, the three commanders reportedly plan to announce a joint statement. The meeting was expected to raise controversy here in South Korea as Japan has refused to repent its wartime atrocities. The Japanese government, headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, provoked South Korea recently by unveiling the results of its review on the Kono Statement, which acknowledged and apologized for its wartime sex slavery. The results said the South Korean government intervened in the wording of the 1993 apology, indicating it was the consequence of political dealings behind the closed doors. Historians said around 200,000 young women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during the World War II. Almost all the victims already passed away, with only 54 alive in South Korea. ^ top ^

Japan-DPRK deal should be conducive to peace: FM (Xinhua)
2014-07-03
Negotiations between Japan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) should be conducive to regional peace and stability, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday. Referring to Japan's decision, announced earlier in the day, to lift some of its sanctions against the DPRK, Hong Lei told a daily press briefing, "We have noticed the progress made by their negotiations." The easing of sanctions is in return for the DPRK's decision to launch a new investigation into the abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, a major concern of Japan during the six-party talks. "We hope the improvement of DPRK-Japan relations through negotiation can be conducive to regional peace and stability," Hong said. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia and Japan held the first strategy consultation meeting in Tokyo (Info Mongolia)
2014-06-27
The Foreign Ministries of Mongolia and Japan held the first ever strategy consultation meeting in Tokyo on June 26, 2014. The Mongolian part was chaired by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs D.Gankhuyag and the other side by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shinsuke Sugiyama. During the meeting parties reviewed the present state of Mongolia-Japan strategic partnership relations and exchanged views on the further goals. The Japanese side emphasized that a statement delivered by the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj at the Parliament of Japan during his visit in 2010 had given a noticeable impetus to the stimulation of bilateral ties and thereafter the two sides agreed to develop strategic partnership relations. Deputy Minister D.Gankhuyag highlighted the expansion of bilateral strategic partnership relations in all spheres including politics, security, economy, culture, education and people exchange as well as at regional and international levels. Moreover, the sides agreed on effective implementation of mid-term program on strategic partnership and intensification of bilateral collaboration in the economic area. In this term, the Government of Mongolia is working on hosting a Mongolia-Japan Business Forum in cooperation with the Japan Business Federation and the Japan External Trade Organization in Tokyo in July 2014. At the first strategy consultation meeting, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Japan S.Khurelbaatar, Director of Department of Asia and the Pacific at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, Ch.Bayarmunkh and Director of First China and Mongolia Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Atsushi Ueno were present. ^ top ^

The first General Consulate of the PR of China to Mongolia is established in Zamyn-Uud Sum of Dornogovi Aimag (Info Mongolia)
2014-07-04
On July 03, 2014, Deputy Foreign Minister of Mongolia D.Gankhuyag and other officials have attended in the official opening ceremony of establishment of the General Consulate of the People's Republic of China in Zamyn-Uud Sum of Dornogovi Aimag, Mongolia. Following the opening ceremony, Deputy Foreign Minister D.Gankhuyag held a meeting with the Vice Foreign Minister of the PR of China Mr. Xie Hangsheng to exchange views on bilateral relations and further collaboration issues. At the event, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PR of China to Mongolia Wang Xiaolong, Governor of Dornogovi Aimag P.Gankhuyag, Vice Director of Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs N.Bataa and other officials from both sides were present. The newly established Office in Zamyn-Uud Sum is the first General Consulate of the People's Republic of China to Mongolia and the first foreign diplomatic office opened in Zamyn-Uud. The General Consulate of China in Zamyn-Uud Sum is chaired by the Consul General Mt. Li Xiangyang. Mongolia and the People's Republic of China have established the diplomatic relations on October 16, 1949 and this year, the two countries are celebrating the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations, moreover the year of 2014 is announced as a Mongolia-China Friendly Exchange Year. Dornogovi (East Gobi) is one of the 21 Aimags (provinces) of Mongolia and located in the southeast of the country, bordering with Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the PR of China. There are 14 Sums (Administrative Subdivision) in Dornogovi Aimag and the Zamyn-Uud Sum with about 11 thousand residents is located 230 km away from Sainshand, center of Dornogovi Aimag and 780 km from Ulaanbaatar, capital city 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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