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
  9-15.8.14, No. 537  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

China-ASEAN strategic partnership enter new stage (Xinhua)
2014-08-10
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday that China-ASEAN strategic partnership has entered a new stage of higher-level development after experiencing a golden decade of development. Wang made the remarks when he attended the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Myanmar's capital of Nay Pyi Taw Saturday, He said last year, the two sides marked the 10th anniversary of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership. President Xi Jinping had championed joint efforts to build an even closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny, charting the course for long-term development of China-ASEAN relations. Premier Li Keqiang further proposed the 2+7 cooperation framework, mapping out practical cooperation in various areas. Wang Yi stated that China and ASEAN share common interests as well as a common destiny. No matter how the international situation may evolve, China will continue to take ASEAN as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy. China firmly supports a more prosperous and stronger ASEAN and ASEAN's centrality in regional cooperation, as well as the conclusion of ASEAN community building in 2015. Wang Yi stressed that China is committed to the path of peaceful development and pursues a policy of good-neighborliness and friendship with its neighbors. China has maintained steady and sound economic growth, reform in various sectors has deepened and its opening-up and cooperation with the rest of the world has continuously expanded. China will continue to offer more development opportunities and cooperation space for ASEAN countries and other countries in the region. China stands ready to work with ASEAN to pursue good- neighborliness and friendship, strengthen solidarity and mutual assistance and realize common development, in order to make greater contribution to peace, development and prosperity of the region and beyond. Wang Yi put forward 12 specific initiatives on three fronts for the purpose of advancing China-ASEAN relations through cooperation under the 2+7 cooperation framework. On the political front, he stressed making sure that leaders have even closer interactions to build up trust, strengthen communication and lead cooperation between the two sides; holding of a China-ASEAN informal leaders' meeting in conjunction with the China-ASEAN Expo and the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference; pushing forward conclusion of a China-ASEAN treaty on good- neighborliness, friendship and cooperation; signing with ASEAN the Protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone at an early date; strengthening strategic planning and kick- start the formulation of the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity (2016-2020). On the regional front, he emphasized acceleration of the negotiation on an upgraded version of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area; jointly building the 21st century maritime Silk Road; establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank at an early date; enhancing dialogue and cooperation between China and countries along the Mekong river; expanding security cooperation and inviting ASEAN defense ministers to attend the first informal China-ASEAN defense ministers' meeting in China in 2015. On the maritime cooperation front, he also stressed designation of the year 2015 as the China-ASEAN maritime cooperation year; advancing dialogue and cooperation among coastal countries of the South China Sea; and promoting joint development at sea through dialogue and negotiation. On the South China Sea issue, Wang Yi said that full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) is the truly effective approach to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. Thanks to joint efforts of China and ASEAN, positive progress has been made in implementing the DOC. China is ready to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with ASEAN to deepen practical cooperation within the framework of the DOC and push for the early conclusion of a code of conduct of the parties in the South China Sea (COC) through consensus. A China-ASEAN special SOM will be held in China this coming September, and the 8th SOM and the 12th Joint Working Group Meeting on the implementation of the DOC will be held in Thailand this October, in order to reach agreement on sorting out previous documents of commonalities and identifying the terms of reference of the Eminent Persons and Experts Group ( EPEG) by the end of the year as the early harvest of COC consultations. Wang Yi emphasized that China and ASEAN countries have the ability and wisdom to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation. ASEAN foreign ministers stated that ASEAN and China have built a high level of mutual trust and deepened their partnership for peace and prosperity in the past decade. ASEAN-China relations have contributed significantly to peace, stability and prosperity of the region and China has become an irreplaceable strategic partner of ASEAN. ASEAN countries support China's peaceful development, and China's constructive role is an important guarantee to upholding peace, stability and common development of the region. The 2+7 cooperation initiative proposed by China has demonstrated China's sincerity and determination to advance ASEAN- China relations and has become the foundation on which to deepen relations between the two sides. ASEAN countries attach great importance to relations with China and stand ready to build a new diamond decade of ASEAN-China relations. ASEAN countries are ready to discuss with China conclusion of a treaty of good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation and launch the action plan for the next five years. The two sides will work to promote an upgraded version of the ACFTA and RCEP negotiation, deepen connectivity, and jointly build the 21st century maritime Silk Road. ASEAN supports and is willing to take an active part in the building of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. ASEAN will expand exchanges with China in culture, tourism and education to increase the friendly sentiments between people of the two sides. ASEAN wants to work with China to address traditional and non- traditional security challenges and enhance disaster reduction and relief capacity. ASEAN countries voiced their readiness to work together with China to fully implement the DOC and move forward COC consultations to jointly uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea. ^ top ^

Japan, China foreign ministers discuss how to improve soured relations (SCMP)
2014-08-11
Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Japan to "make practical efforts to overcome existing political obstacles between the two sides", as he held an "informal" meeting with his Japanese counterpart for the first time since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power in 2012. Few details were revealed about the Saturday night meeting on the sidelines of the Asean Regional Forum in Myanmar. But analysts said there was now a greater chance of a summit between President Xi Jinping and Abe during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing later this year. Tensions between the two countries have risen in recent months, with each side accusing the other of flying military aircraft too close to its own jets in a long-running territorial dispute over islets in the East China Sea. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida yesterday said he and Wang had discussed measures to improve relations. He is believed to have called for Wang's cooperation in setting up a meeting between Abe and Xi. "I met him [Wang] and spoke with him for a long time," Kishida said. "With this [the meeting] as a starting point, we would like to promote relations with China." Xinhua reported Wang had clarified China's principles and stance in "a serious manner". Da Zhigang, chief researcher in Northeast Asia relations at Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, said the meeting underscored that Beijing and Tokyo understood the current impasse was in nobody's interests. "I think the chance for Xi and Abe to meet during Apec is increasing, but there are two pre-conditions," he said. "First, Japan doesn't do anything to offend China and, second, the public should accept such a meeting." Lian Degui, deputy director of Japanese studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said the Wang-Kishida meeting showed "early signs of improvement in relations" but there was still mistrust on both sides. ^ top ^

Chinese FM holds talks with Myanmar counterpart (Xinhua)
2014-08-11
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday held talks with his Myanmar counterpart U Wunna Maung Lwin in Nay Pyi Taw. China-Myanmar relations have witnessed a good trend of development, Wang said, adding that the two economies are highly complementary and enjoy great cooperation potential, while both considered development as an important strategic responsibility. China wishes to practically implement the common consent reached by leaders of the two countries and launch all-sided cooperation to boost common development to bring wealth to the two peoples, he said. Wang called on the two sides to make good preparations for the two countries' high-level exchanges in the next phase to push forward China-Myanmar relations. In accordance with demand of the Myanmar side, Wang called for practically pushing ahead the two countries' economic and trade cooperation and further enhancing the role of major cooperation projects in strategically supporting bilateral ties, which would practically boost employment and improve people's livelihood. He also expressed China's wishes to jointly push forward the construction of Silk Road economic belt and Bangladesh-China-India- Myanmar economic corridor to strengthen mutual link. China would like to encourage Chinese enterprises to come to Myanmar to establish businesses, develop industrial zones and actively take part in Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone projects, as well as to study and develop the construction of transnational economic zones, he said. He also said the Chinese side would like to deepen agricultural cooperation with Myanmar to support its agricultural modernization. China wishes to make joint efforts with Myanmar in pushing this year's China-ASEAN summit to achieve more outcome and further promote China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, he added. Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin said for a long period, Myanmar and China enjoyed a neighborly and close relationship. The cooperation between the two countries has enhanced Myanmar's socio-economic development. Noting that China has become Myanmar's top foreign investor, he hoped to enhance cooperation with China in industrial and agricultural sectors and launch more major projects. He added that Myanmar wishes to play the roles of geographical and bridge link between ASEAN countries and China and actively take part in the construction of Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor to enhance China-ASEAN mutual link and strengthen ASEAN-China strategic cooperation. ^ top ^

New book clarifies nine-dash line (Global Times)
2014-08-12
China recently published its first book on the theories of the nine-dash line of the South China Sea, China Ocean News reported Monday. The book, mainly illustrating the history, functions and legal basis of the nine-dash line, is authored by Chinese maritime experts from the China Institute for Marine Affairs, the School of Law at Tsinghua University and the International Law Association. The book states that the nine-dash line is a historical line of maritime rights, which include the right to claim Chinese sovereignty on islands of the South China Sea and the right for Chinese fishing and the exploration of mineral resources inside the line. The book concludes that any attempt or behavior to deny or deprive the rights that the nine-dash line stands for is legally wrong and politically impractical. Gao Zhiguo, one of the authors of the book, said that the book has clearly summarized and explained the definition and legal basis of the nine-dash line, providing an important legal ground for China to guard maritime rights. The year of 2014 marks the 100th year of the announcement of the nine-dash line. After the return of the Xisha and Nansha Islands to China, the government in 1948 mapped out the line, which is clearly marked in historical documents and world maps drawn by different countries. ^ top ^

Foreign troops head for anti-terror drill in China (Xinhua)
2014-08-13
Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Tajik troops set for a joint anti-terror drill have entered China and are heading for the drill site in the country's north, a statement from military sources said Wednesday. Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members will participate in "Peace Mission-2014" which will take place from Aug. 24-29 in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Reaching Xinjiang on Monday morning, 480-plus soldiers and officers from Kyrgyzstan were the first to arrive, followed by Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. As of Tuesday, more than 1,000 foreign soldiers and officers are heading toward their destination in Inner Mongolia via road, rail and air. The drill, which is expected to involve over 7,000 Chinese, Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Tajik troops, is part of joint anti-terrorism exercises launched under the SCO framework. The last batch of foreign troops is expected to arrive by Aug. 18, the statement said. ^ top ^

China's selfless aid to Africa's fight against Ebola (Xinhua)
2014-08-13
As the proverb goes, "A friend in need is a friend indeed," and China's aid to Africa during the Ebola outbreak highlights China's resolve to help the African people fight the epidemic. China, deeply concerned over the spread of the deadly virus, has sent disease control experts to three Ebola-affected West African nations -- Guinea, Liberia and Sierra -- marking the first time China provided assistance to foreign countries in the form of dispatching taskforces of public health emergency experts. A Chinese plane carrying emergency humanitarian supplies, including protective clothing, disinfectants, thermo-detectors and medicines, landed in Guinea on Monday. The experts and supplies came at a critical time as the deadly virus became rampant in the region, claiming nearly 1,000 lives. China has long been committed to helping African countries improve their medical and healthcare conditions, and answered the call from Africa and the World Health Organization (WHO) for assistance swiftly and efficiently out of true concern for the health of African people. Well aware of the destructive effect of viruses, with the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and the H7N9 bird flu virus in recent years, China has accumulated rich experience in control and prevention of public health emergencies. The Chinese experts in Africa will work with local medical teams and share their expertise in controlling and preventing disease, training local medical workers on personal protection, disinfection and biological safety. Some may suspect China's aid to Africa is conditional. Those people should know that it is in line with Chinese virtues to help those in need while asking nothing for return, which is something few countries do. To help Africa fight against malaria, the widespread epidemic, China assisted with the construction of 30 hospitals and 30 malaria prevention and control centers. It also provided 800 million yuan (about 130 million U.S. dollars) worth of medical equipment and supplies, such as anti-malaria drugs, and trained over 3,000 medical staff. Meanwhile, there are currently 43 Chinese medical teams in 42 African countries, and an increasing number of teams are sent to remote areas in Africa annually, offering programs to train various types of qualified personnel on the continent. Since the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic, members of Chinese medical teams have remained in their positions and continue to offer treatment to the patients infected with the virus, due to their deep concern for the health of African people and strong belief that the virus can be defeated. It is hoped that with the assistance from the international community, China included, the spread of the deadly virus can be controlled and prevented sooner rather than later. ^ top ^

Pope's approved China fly-by seen as sign of 'possible détente' (Global Times)
2014-08-14
Relations between China and the Vatican may see an upswing after Beijing gave permission for Pope Francis to use Chinese airspace as he flies to South Korea Thursday ahead of a six-day visit, said religious affairs experts. There may be a rare chance to engage Chinese President Xi Jinping, as the Pope always sends greetings to state leaders via telegram when he passes through their airspace, according to Vatican protocol. This routine rarely makes headlines, but the Pope's messages this time attracted great attention as he will communicate with China, which severed diplomatic relationship with the Vatican in the 1950s. Beijing refused to allow then Pope John Paul II to cross Chinese airspace when he was on the way to South Korea in 1989 due to the tension. As a result, observers see this papal fly-by as a small step forward in improving relations between the Vatican and China. Wang Meixiu, a research fellow with the Institute of World Religion Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that to allow the papal fly-by shows the Chinese government's courtesy and is a sign of possible détente. "The lack of communication and understanding between the two sides hinders the development of relations. This fly-by shows Chinese government may hope to resolve their issues." Wang noted that the main obstacle between the two countries is that the Vatican does not recognize the authority of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the bishops it appoints. However, Wang said that there may still be an impasse as the Vatican will not give up its right to appoint bishops in China. "There is still a way out, if the Vatican can reach an agreement with Chinese authorities over the candidates for bishops," Wang said. Whether Xi will respond to the Pope's telegram and if so, what kind of message he will convey remains unknown. Wang noted that the possible response may be a courtesy rather than anything tangible. A Catholic worshipper in Shanghai, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Global Times that he felt it was progress that the Pope is allowed to fly over China. Pope Francis is the first Pope to disclose that he received a reply from a Chinese leader to whom he wrote letters, reported Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera. The Pope said he exchanged letters with Xi in March 2013. Yang Fenggang, a religious studies professor at Purdue University in Indiana, told the Global Times that both China and the Vatican have changed greatly over the years, in spite of the conflicts in the 1950s between China and the Vatican. "Coming from a developing country, Pope Francis has won great popularity across the world. He is also known for promoting reform and anti-corruption inside the church," Yang noted. Improving relations would benefit both sides, Wang said, adding that underground churches and the lack of authority of some bishops have become a problem which can impact the stability of Chinese society. China's authorities cannot solve the problems without the Vatican's involvement, she said. Some Chinese Catholics intend to go to South Korea for an opportunity to meet the Pope, although there are no organized tours by local churches. "One of my Catholic friends has already arrived in South Korea. Some priests may have organized believers to travel together privately," the anonymous Shanghai-based Catholic said. One Chinese Catholic priest, who goes by the name of Paul, told the Global Times that believers are supposed to go to South Korea according to religious tradition, but many were hindered in reality. "There was a notice that recommended people not to go to South Korea, which is understandable given the current diplomatic conditions between China and the Vatican," said Paul. He said that there were no organized trips to South Korea and his church had seen no evidence of individuals making the trip so far. ^ top ^

Hard to warm up frozen ties with Tokyo (Global Times)
2014-08-15
As the 69th anniversary of Japan's surrender in WWII, August 15 has become the perfect time for Japanese nationalists to put on a farce to draw world attention. Will Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visit the notorious Yasukuni Shrine? This has become the most disconcerting mystery in the geopolitics of Northeast Asia. Abe released some messages, saying he wouldn't visit the Shrine. But media outlets guessed he might offer tribute instead. This could be called a positive signal sent to China from a Japanese perspective. It was also reported that he is looking forward to having a bilateral meeting with Chinese leaders at the forum of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Beijing in November. Bitter confrontations over historical issues have dragged both China and Japan into a tug-of-war. With years of friendliness buried, China and Japan seem to be locked into a blood feud. The conflicts over historical issues are no longer limited to different understandings of history. They have become a major manifestation of the geopolitical rivalry between both sides. A sober mind can tell that such a conflict can only result in a lose-lose situation: Japan is losing its upper hand in the international community due to its irresponsible attitude toward history, and China has spent too many unnecessary resources and attention on it. But now, it could be anticipated that warming Sino-Japanese ties are still impossible, even though Abe acted mildly on the Yasukuni Shrine issue this year and Chinese leaders might meet him at the APEC forum. On historical issues, both sides are just speaking to themselves. These issues have become a battle of public opinion in the international community. In this case, only national strength matters. Japan was the side which took the initiative in the historical issues, as it was in full authority of whether to visit the Shrine and revise history books. But China has established a system to penalize provocative Japanese government officials. China has got back part of the initiative. The fact that China is getting used to the political deadlock and carries forward economic cooperation also requires full attention. The unfolding tensions between both nations have not inflicted many losses on China, which is able to sustain a long-term standoff with Japan. China's rise has changed many foundations of the former Sino-Japanese ties, and we must accept and get adapted to the fundamental changes. The biggest force that can transform Sino-Japanese relations is the rise of China. It probably won't make Japan and China regain rapport, but it will drive Japan to assess the outcome of a full confrontation with China. In the past 20 or 30 years, China has not been engaged in such tense relationship with a major power as it does with Japan. There are so many uncertainties ahead, and Japan is destined to offer unavoidable and significant challenges to China's confidence and patience when the latter is rising. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

British investigator Peter Humphrey jailed for 2.5 years for buying private data (SCMP)
2014-08-09
A year after their detention sent shockwaves through China's booming due-diligence industry, British corporate investigator Peter Humphrey was sentenced last night to two-and-a-half years in prison and his wife, Yu Yingzeng, to two years. The Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court also fined Humphrey 200,000 yuan (HK$250,000) and Yu 150,000 yuan for illegally obtaining private information on Chinese citizens after the one-day trial. Humphrey will be deported after serving his jail term. After the sentence was handed down, the couple's 19-year-old son, Harvey, made a brief statement outside the court. "I'm very sad about the court's verdict but I hope the authorities will take into account their poor health," he said. The couple's representatives did not say if they would appeal against the decision. Humphrey had admitted he had been paying contractors for the private information for almost a decade. Humphrey, 58, and Yu, 61, both acknowledged using "illegally obtained private information" for due diligence reports in the nine years they ran the ChinaWhys risk consultancy in Shanghai and Hong Kong. However, they put up a defiant defence, telling the court that they did not know it was illegal to hold information such as identity records, phone numbers and overseas travel records on hard drives in their Shanghai office. "Had I known it was illegal, I would have destroyed it," Yu said, according to transcripts the court posted on its Weibo page. "I have lived abroad for a very long time. My US phone number and address can be found in the yellow pages. It is very easy in the US to find such information." The Post could not independently verify the accuracy of the online statements. The couple's prosecution for conducting an illegal investigation was the first in China in which the defendants were foreign nationals. About half of an estimated 700 due diligence reports ChinaWhys compiled between 2004 and last year for foreign and domestic clients contained elements of private information, Humphrey said in his testimony. But both Humphrey and Yu stressed that such personal information was only a minor part of their overall due diligence investigations. Changes to China's criminal law in 2009 made trading in private information a criminal offence. Shortly before their detention, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoKlineSmith (GSK) had asked the couple to investigate the origin of a sex tape. It showed Mark Reilly, the head of GSK's China division, having sex with his girlfriend. Along with the tape came allegations that GSK bribed Chinese doctors. The same allegations were shared with Chinese authorities in anonymous emails. Chinese authorities have not officially connected the trial to the graft probe, but Humphrey has linked the investigation with his own arrest. He said the company misled him on the seriousness of the allegations. Humphrey and Yu investigated Vivian Shi, the former head of government affairs for GSK in China. GSK had fired Shi, the daughter of a Shanghai municipal government official, in 2012 for falsifying travel expenses. Shi has denied wrongdoing. Following an international investigation into the bribery accusations, GSK said it had found evidence of wrongdoing. Reilly has since been dismissed from his position and is assisting the Chinese investigation into the bribery of doctors. He is in China and barred from leaving the country. In May, the Ministry of Public Security said it had completed its investigation into the accusations and passed the case to prosecutors in Hunan province. Reilly, along with two local executives, paid bribes to law enforcement officials, doctors and hospitals, police said at the time. The GSK executives then systematically covered up their actions, police said. ^ top ^

85 people 'arrested or detained' as China steps up clampdown on internet rumours (SCMP)
2014-08-09
Four people were arrested and while 81 others were either detained or warned by Chinese police as the government cracks down on alleged internet rumour-mongering, state media reported on Saturday. Police did not give details on the timing of the actions, Xinhua news agency said, adding that 16 websites were punished for “weak safety management”. Citing police, Xinhua said the alleged rumour-mongers “used social network services to fabricate and spread rumours, or forward rumours published on foreign websites”. It added that among the rumours were “predictions of an earthquake in Beijing within two to six days and gunshots having been heard in the west of the Chinese capital”. The latest moves come amid a crackdown on the spread of online rumours, which rights groups have criticised as an excuse to punish people who publish information critical of the ruling Communist Party. Hundreds have been detained in the campaign, while several bloggers have been handed lengthy jail sentences, resulting in a decline in use of microblogs. Dong Rubin, a blogger known for criticising Communist Party officials, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in jail as part of the campaign last month, state media said. China tightly controls the Internet, but its online population of 632 million has used messaging applications to push the boundaries of restrictions on free speech. Control measures include the blocking of foreign websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube using a system known as the “Great Firewall”. State media reported Thursday that China is banning users of Internet messaging services from posting political reports without permission, and demanding they promise to “uphold the socialist system”. Internet companies are required to ensure that users of online messaging services register with their real names, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) cited the government's National Internet Information Office as saying. Users will be required to agree to “seven bottom lines”, including a vow to “uphold the socialist system”, a euphemism for China's one-party dominated regime, when they register, CCTV said. Hundreds of millions of Chinese use the Twitter-like Sina Weibo, and messaging app WeChat, among other online services. The latest regulations appeared to be aimed at WeChat, an instant messaging platform that allows users to share text, photos, videos and voice messages over mobile devices. ^ top ^

P.L.A. urged to unite behind Xi Jinping and prevent 'political liberalism' (SCMP)
2014-08-12
The PLA's political wing has urged officers and soldiers to stand united behind the leadership of President Xi Jinping in a call that coincides with the annual summer meeting of the ruling elite at the seaside retreat in Beidaihe. Soldiers should resolutely prevent "liberalism in politics" and "oppose misconceptions" that might hinder reform efforts, the military's General Political Department said in a circular published in the PLA Daily yesterday. "The party's leadership over the army must be absolutely upheld," it said. The circular comes at a politically sensitive time. Party elites are gathering in Beidaihe to work out major policy decisions, including on a reform programme for the world's largest armed force. The military has also fallen under scrutiny as Xi widens his anti-corruption campaign. In June, the party said it had expelled Xu Caihou, a retired general and former vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission. Xu faces a court martial on charges of corruption, becoming the most senior PLA officer to fall in the anti-graft drive. In recent speeches, Xi has pledged to strike hard against corruption in the military and has urged officers to banish corrupt practices. Analysts said the release of the circular indicated possible anxiety among some senior officers over the reform programme and anti-graft drive. "There must be strong resistance among some top brass over both Xi's reform package and his extended anti-graft campaign into the army," said Zhang Lifan, a political affairs analyst. The party leadership cracked down on corruption in the military in the late 1990s, ordering the army to stay out of business activities. However, graft has become a problem in recent years as some army units extend into business dealings. The circular said that officers and soldiers should understand reforms were needed to ensure the army was capable of fighting and winning modern battles. It also warned reforms might touch on some officers' or groups' personal interests. "Individuals should be amenable to the comprehensive interests of the entire army and adapt to the changes," the circular urged. It said officers and soldiers must "always be vigilant and steadfast on political issues and strictly abide by discipline regarding politics, organisation and secrecy". The circular also told officers and soldiers not to comment on or spread political rumours. ^ top ^

Graft watchdog calls for public tipoffs on holiday spending (Global Times)
2014-08-12
The top disciplinary body of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has started publishing a special column on its website to encourage public tip-offs regarding lavish spending by officials during the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival. The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) is calling on the public to report incidents of officials spending lavishly during the traditional holiday. The CCDI did the same thing during the May Day holiday. Misconduct could include using public funds to buy mooncakes or gift cards, a statement on the CCDI website said on Sunday. Violators will be named and shamed in a weekly report on the website, the statement said. Celebratory gifts and feasts, usually involving sweet or savory pastries known as mooncakes, are a custom during Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on September 8 this year. The moves aim to better implement the "eight-point rules," introduced by the CPC leadership at the end of 2012, which were an effort to reject extravagance and excessive formalities and help prevent harmful work styles, the statement said. Mooncake producers like the time-honored Quanjude Group and Daoxiangcun Foodstuff Co. Ltd, have shifted their focus onto middle- and low-end mooncakes, the Beijing-based Securities Daily reported Friday. The minimum price of mooncake gift boxes has decreased from 200 yuan ($32.5) last year to 100 yuan due to shrinking bulk purchases by the government, said Zhang Zhan, the deputy general manager with Quanjude-Fangshan Food. The maximum price of all the 32 types of moon cake gift boxes is below 300 yuan, and most are below 200 yuan, according to a report Daoxiangcun gave to the Global Times. Around 10 years ago mooncakes began to be used as a cover for bribes as corruption intensified, said Wang Laihua, director of the Public Opinion Research Center at Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences and a mooncake mold collector. ^ top ^

10 judges quizzed in bribes inquiry (China Daily)
2014-08-13
Ten county-level court judges in Liaoning province are being investigated on suspicion of dereliction of duty and taking bribes, according to provincial prosecutors. The 10 judges, from the court in Qingyuan Manchu autonomous county in Fushun, were questioned one after another between May and July, and the provincial people's procuratorate said most of them are suspected of accepting bribes, perverting the law, abusing their power and rendering illegal verdicts. The 10 judicial officers - including three deputy presidents, five chief judges, one assistant chief judge and the director of the court's enforcement department - were reported by residents, the prosecuting authority said, adding that it had approved the arrest of five of them and confirming that one of the deputy presidents is still at large. The prosecutors said on Tuesday that the case is still under investigation, but they declined to provide further details. It is not the first time that judicial officers in the province have been investigated for alleged violations. In July, authorities confirmed that Li Wei, president of Dalian Intermediate People's Court, was being investigated for alleged serious disciplinary violations. Wang Yanshu, a Dalian resident, showed anger toward these judicial officers, saying violations by a judge are more serious than by other officials. China's top court issued a five-year plan in July, stating that a verdict must be decided by the presiding judge, rather than being approved or influenced by the chief judge or president of a court. However, Wang said she is still worried. In reality, said Wang, who once reported Li, a verdict is usually decided by the president of a court through administrative power. Yang Weidong, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said it is rare to see 10 judicial officers in a court being investigated at the same time, "which also means self-discipline in the legal system is still far from enough". Yang Xiaojun, another professor in the academy, echoed him and said the exposure of a number of judicial officers reflects that the central government has highlighted violations in the judicial system. ^ top ^

Controversial Deng Xiaoping drama series is based on fact, say producers (SCMP)
2014-08-13
The producers of a controversial television series about late leader Deng Xiaoping have hit back at online critics accusing the programme of rewriting history, saying the plot is based on fact. Deng Xiaoping at History's Crossroads, a 48-episode drama that started airing in prime time on Friday on state broadcaster China Central Television, spans the time between the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976 and 1984, the early days of the country's economic reform and opening up, Xinhua reported. Mainland media said the show surprised many viewers with its novel portrayal of controversial political figures such as Hua Guofeng, Mao Zedong's successor, who was sidelined by Deng, and ousted liberal leader Hu Yaobang, whose death triggered the 1989 pro-democracy protests.The first episode ignited fierce online debate after it portrayed Hua as saying the Mao decided to "crush the 'Gang of Four'" before he died. The Gang of Four was led by Mao's fourth wife, Jiang Qing, and its downfall signified the end of the decade-long Cultural Revolution, which Mao launched to root out "capitalist roaders" whom he thought had infiltrated the party. Some Weibo users accused the programme of making up history, while academics said the plot tried to whitewash Mao's legacy by distancing him from the Gang of Four. The producers defended the script by producing what they said was an official document issued by the party's Central Committee in 1976 outlining the decision to bring down the Gang of Four, news website ThePaper.cn reported. The document detailed Mao's criticism of Jiang and his determination to deal with the group sooner or later. "The party Central Committee, headed by Hua Guofeng, carried out the unfulfilled wish of Chairman Mao … to solve this serious problem [the Gang of Four] and eliminated a scourge within the party," the news site quoted the document as saying. The 120 million yuan (HK$151 million) series was overseen by the literature research office of the party's Central Committee and the party committee of Sichuan province, where Deng was born, Xinhua reported. It was made to mark the 110th anniversary of Deng's birth on August 22. More than 10,000 copies of the series were sent to government leaders, researchers and Deng associates for feedback, China Daily reported. ^ top ^

Micro-blogger in court charged with spreading rumors (China Daily)
2014-08-14
A popular Chinese micro-blogger went on trial on Thursday for allegedly spreading rumors to attract followers and helping others delete posts for profit. Yang Xiuyu, founder of Erma Co and with the online identity Lier Chaisi, was accused of illegal business operations after receiving 531,200 yuan ($86,312) for helping people remove Internet posts and publish rumors, according to Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court. Yang, 41, from Northeast China's Jilin province, was charged with running the illegal operation between May 2012 and September 2013, the court said. Lu Mei, one of Yang's employees responsible for the media department, also stood trial on the same charges. Lu, 31, from Hunan province, allegedly sought about 220,200 yuan after she deleted some online posts, the court said. Prosecutors formally arrested the pair in September 2013, saying they had disturbed market order. The trial, open to the public via the court's official micro blog on Sina Weibo, China's largest Twitter-like platform, continues. In April, the court sentenced Qin Zhihui, better known by his online alias, Qin Huohuo, to three years in prison for defamation and causing trouble. Qin, 30, from Hunan province, was the first man to be sentenced after spreading rumors on the Internet damaging the reputation of celebrities. ^ top ^

Gao Zhisheng's wife wants him to seek treatment in US after 'horrific torture' in Chinese jail (SCMP)
2014-08-14
Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng suffered malnutrition and psychological abuse in prison, his wife said as she called for Beijing to let him seek treatment in the United States. Gao, who has defended some of China's most vulnerable people such as underground Christians, aggrieved miners and members of the banned Falungong spiritual movement, was released last week after serving a three-year prison sentence. His wife, who fled with their two children to the US in 2009, said on Wednesday that she learned Gao had lost 22.5kg in weight after being fed only a slice of bread and cabbage each day. Gao can no longer speak intelligibly after being deprived of any interaction with people and kept in a small cell with little light and no reading material or television, she said. “I am completely devastated by what the Chinese government has done to my husband. The only thing I feared more than him being killed was his suffering relentless and horrific torture and being kept alive,” the wife, Geng He, said in a statement. Gao remains under round-the-clock surveillance of Chinese authorities at his sister-in-law's home in the western Xinjiang region, where he was imprisoned, according to Freedom Now, a rights group that is offering him free legal representation. Saying that Gao has been prevented from seeing a doctor since his release, Geng urged the United States to press China to allow him to come to travel. “If President Xi Jinping has any sense of decency or humanity, after crushing my husband both physically and psychologically, the least he could do is allow me as a devoted wife to care for him,” Geng said. Despite Gao's release, China still imprisons a number of high-profile critics including Liu Xiaobo, the writer and democracy advocate who won the Nobel Peace Prize. ^ top ^

Petitioner tells of abuse and torture in 'black jail' (SCMP)
2014-08-14
An Anhui petitioner has revealed in court how he was tortured and kept in a “black jail” for two months, as he testified in the trial of one of his alleged abusers – a rare case highlighting China's shady, unlawful detention centres. Wang Weilong, a villager from Anhui province, testified that he was hauled away after filing a petition in 2012 before Beijing's Supreme People's Court. It was unclear what he was complaining about, but petitioners typically air grievances in the capital about social problems in their home areas. Wang said that in the “black jail”, his guards “hit his head with a bell” and once “stabbed him with a burning metal prong", according to The Beijing News. He was speaking at the trial of one of the alleged guards, surnamed Xing, at the Daxing District People's Court in Beijing. Details about the case are scant, but the lawsuit was brought by the prosecutor's office and deals with the illegal detention. Wang presented photos to the newspaper showing long streaks of burn marks and scars on his body. Wang said more than a dozen petitioners from other provinces were kept at the “black jail” when he was there, and claimed the provincial governments' liaison offices in Beijing were behind the detentions. The defendant Xing, who was underage at the time of the alleged abuse, said in court he “was hired” to guard the petitioners for a salary of over 2,000 yuan (HK$2,500) a month. He plead guilty to the charge and apologised, but the court has yet to issue a ruling. The newspaper quoted him as saying that another alleged guard, who is still at large, had direct contact to the provincial liaison offices. However, Anhui's Beijing liaison office on Thursday curtly denied having any involvement in the case. “We've never heard about this man [Wang],” a spokesman of the office told the South China Morning Post. “And we have never conducted anything that violates laws.” Responding to Wang's account in the court, the spokesperson said: “You should know these petitioners always tell lies.” The spokesman said the office welcomed ever “mannered petitioner” and exercised restraint when confronting “radical” ones. Lodging complaints to the central government in Beijing is not uncommon for petitioners across China. It often represents the last resort for citizens who feel they are being mistreated by local authorities. The trip is a risky one: many human rights groups have said that petitioners are frequently intercepted – and sometimes illegally detained – by thugs. Most of the complaints that reach Beijing involve land grabs, labour disputes and social security, the government's report has shown in the past. Despite Beijing's long-term efforts to rein in the number of petitions, there are mounting cases brought to the administration every year. The State Bureau for Letters and Calls, which handles petitions, and its offices across China have in total received an estimated 10 million enquiries and complaints every year between 2003 and 2007. As of May 1 this year, however, Beijing banned citizens from bypassing local authorities and filing complaints with higher authorities in Beijing – a measure to prevent social unrest or protests in the capital. In some cases, desperate petitioners have taken radical measures to draw public attention to their cause. Last month, seven Jiangsu petitioners who claimed they were victims of a land grab, attempted to kill themselves by swallowing insecticide in front of a newspaper office in Beijing, and drawing nationwide attention. This triggered a local investigation which resulted in 14 local officials being punished for the land grab. But the petitioners themselves were detained by police for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”. ^ top ^

Prison posts of former officials prove popular (China Daily)
2014-08-14
A micro blog run by the prison management bureau on Sina Weibo, Twitter's Chinese counterpart, has been in the public spotlight for its posts of confessions from former government officials who are now inmates. One of the most popular posts reveals the confession by a former police officer from Guizhou who was sentenced to 19 years in jail mainly for the crime of concealing the crimes of others. The confession recalled his life from a rural resident to a local police officer and expressed his regrets. The official micro blog, which was awarded as one of the top 10 micro blogs on government affairs last year, has posted 29 confessions on Sina Weibo since Aug 16, 2013. ^ top ^

Worst drought in 63 years hits Liaoning province in northeast China (SCMP)
2014-08-15
Liaoning province in northeast China is experiencing its most severe drought in 63 years, affecting more than two million hectares of crops and leaving 136,000 people without water, Xinhua reports. The province received only 90mm of rainfall in July, the least since 1951, when the average July rainfall is 165mm. Western Liaoning has been hit hardest by the dry spell, including cities such as Dalian, Huludao, and Chaoyang. Farmers in areas affected most by the drought may also see their crop yield cut by half if the dryness continues. Some are electing to abandon their stunted grain stalks in favour of cultivating greenhouse vegetables in hopes of making a better winter profit. Liaoning produced over two million tonnes of grain in 2012, around 5 per cent of the country's output. “We've tried our best and distributed more than 3,000 water pumps,” an official from Xincheng told People's Daily, “But the drought came too hard and too fast. More than 26,000 hectares of our crops are lost out of 53,000 hectares planted.” Western Liaoning has been hit hardest by the dry spell, including cities such as Dalian, Huludao, and Chaoyang. Farmers in areas affected most by the drought may also see their crop yield cut by half if the dryness continues. Some are electing to abandon their stunted grain stalks in favour of cultivating greenhouse vegetables in hopes of making a better winter profit. Liaoning produced over two million tonnes of grain in 2012, around 5 per cent of the country's output. “We've tried our best and distributed more than 3,000 water pumps,” an official from Xincheng told People's Daily, “But the drought came too hard and too fast. More than 26,000 hectares of our crops are lost out of 53,000 hectares planted.”Meteorologists said that the drought became worse later in July, and that August would be equally dry. Liaoning officials issued a third-degree meteorological disaster drought warning on August 8 and paid out 19 million yuan (HK$24 million) in emergency disaster funds to fight the drought. Officials also say they have put into use 218 artificial rocket systems and three artificial aircraft to try to increase rainfall. Meteorologists are blaming the widespread droughts nationwide this summer on El Niño, the warm oceanic phase that created a southeastern high pressure zone in the Pacific, blocking moist air from reaching northeast China. Mainland grain prices may rise this autumn as many of its largest grain-producing provinces are seeing cutbacks because of the droughts. Henan, Shaanxi and Jilin, which are also combating droughts, combined to produce more than 17 per cent of the nation's total grain in 2012. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing demolishes 'eyesore' news stands ahead of Apec meeting (SCMP)
2014-08-12
Authorities in Beijing have demolished at least 70 news stands, state media reported on Tuesday. The news stands were “forcibly demolished” in the night between July 31 and August 1, according to China Economic Weekly, a magazine under the auspices of the Communist Party's mouthpiece People's Daily. However, authorities in Chaoyang district, on the east side of the capital, denied the news stands were demolished. They said they had removed the news stands and “standardised” another one in accordance with “relevant provisions”. In a report by China Central Television, they said the news stands “failed to meet the standards. In a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Beijing municipal officials said the 72 news stands were removed because they had “obstructed pedestrians”. Calls to Chaoyang authorities by the South China Morning Post went unanswered. Media reports said the news stands were torn down because they “sold things other than newspapers” and they “were the city's eyesores”. “Urban enforcement officers told [me] that the TV broadcast and newspaper reports all said [we] were not allowed to sell soft drinks. [My stand] should be removed now, too, because I sell them,” Liang Tao, owner of a news stand in Chaoyang, told China Economic Weekly. Selling bottled water and other soft drinks is a common practice for news stands in the city. “Urban enforcement officers told us when they came to demolish the stand that Beijing would soon host the Apec meeting and my stand was an eyesore to the city,” said Cui Meiling, another news stand owner. Beijing is hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation's third senior officials' meeting until August 21 and the Apec summit in November. Authorities have ordered 70 per cent of its government cars off the roads during the current meeting. The Beijing Newspaper Retail Company, which oversees the news stands, told the magazine they received a notice in April from municipal authorities asking them to revamp the news stands, but they were not informed of any demolition. Chaoyang authorities said vehicles of the Retail Company had tried to obstruct their work, and there was other “disturbance by non-news stand staff”. The authorities also said they would provide assistance to news stand owners once local governments provided confirmation that the owners were having financial difficulties. ^ top ^

Beijing to cancel public records fees (China Daily)
2014-08-14
The Municipal Development and Reform Commission of Beijing has said the city is to cancel the charge for the management of personal record files, or better known as Dang'an before 2016. The timetable was released after a Xinhua article questioned the whereabouts of the collected money on Tuesday. Currently, people who entrust public record centers to keep their files need to pay 120 RMB, or about $20, a year for the service. The centers in Beijing can collect up to hundreds of millions yuan annually, while the service providers nationwide can earn around a billion yuan from the business, according to the report. A Dang'an is a document which includes information about the owner's education background, employment records, qualifications and physical status etc. Dang'an includes one's education records, working permits, technical level, vocational qualifications, employment records, physical status, political status and crime records, etc. What's it for? Dang'an is necessary when one gets promoted. Dang'an helps a public servant applicant pass the political censorship. Dang'an is necessary for fathers applying for a birth permit for a baby. Dang'an is necessary for the retirees to claim pension as pensions will be granted according to years at work and seniority recorded in the files. People are not allowed to keep their own Dang'an files by themselves. Records of students are kept in their schools till their graduations, then, the files would be transfered to their employers, personal agencies or archive bureaus at their working locations. Employees of private or foreign companies which are ineligible for keeping personal record files have to entrust the work with the personal agencies or archive bureaus in their hometowns. In the past, the Dang'an archival system was working together with Hukou (household registation) to maintain public records of Chinese citizens. Before China's reform, the dossiers were consulted by work unit officials as they made decisions about the major life events of those directed by them. A work unit managed employees through the Dang'an system. Employees cannot transfer to another work unit without his Dang'an. As Chinese economic reform proceeded, the situation has been less clear-cut, as the Dang'an system conflicts with market-oriented labour contracts. Graduates have been able to choose their own employment since the mid-1990s in most regions, and marriage has not required work unit consent since 2003. Some private or foreign companies now do not require access to these documents. However, promotions and some social security benefits are still based on information in their Dang'an. The records of your performance at school and at work or a serious illness will be kept in your Dang'an and travel with you for the rest of your life. If one breaks the law, Dang'an will also be used in the investigation. ^ top ^

Pollution control set as priority for APEC meeting (China Daily)
2014-08-15
China is hosting the Third Senior Officials' Meeting and related meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Beijing from Aug 6 to 21, when there will be about 100 sessions covering topics including trade, investment, agriculture, food and anti-corruption. The senior officials' meeting will involve a large number of participants and a more intensive schedule than the two previous meetings, which were held in Ningbo of Zhejiang province and Qingdao of Shandong province. The city will launch tougher, comprehensive measures to control air pollution effectively for the events, said Yao Hui, deputy director of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, adding that updates on air quality will be issued and sent to the public quickly if air quality worsens. When at any point during the conference the air quality index is estimated at higher than 200 for the next three days, the municipal government will issue an orange alert, which is the second-highest level in the four-level warning system. In such an event, Beijing will take tougher measures than called for under an orange alert. It will put into effect the steps called for under a red alert, the highest level, including forbidding the use of 70 percent of government vehicles and restricting the use of private vehicles based on even- and odd-numbered license plates. All vehicles with plates belonging to other cities and provinces will be banned all day long from driving inside the Sixth Ring Road if an orange alert is issued during the conference. Additionally, all construction sites would be required to stop demolition and other procedures that might generate dust, as required by the Beijing Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said Wang Chengjun, deputy director of the commission. Also, if an orange alert is issued, the traffic authority will cooperate with government departments to guarantee that vehicles follow the emergency restrictions."The comprehensive efforts for the meeting can be an opportunity for different government departments to exercise joint work in air pollution control for the APEC meeting in November, too, and also in the future," said Yao, the deputy director of the Environmental Protection Bureau. It is estimated that during the period there will be no extreme weather, while winds and rainfall might be slight and temperatures high, so there will be the possibility of severe air pollution in the city. However, it's not easy to release a red alert. In the past week, the capital has witnessed mild air pollution, though in the first six months of the year in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region the days with good air quality increased to 36.4 percent, according the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Beijing has issued no red alerts on air pollution since November, when the emergency plan was put into effect, even though smog covered the city for days at a time. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Taskforce heads for Tibet traffic site (Xinhua)
2014-08-11
A taskforce headed by an official from the State Administration of Work Safety left Beijing on Sunday for the site of a deadly traffic accident that killed 44 in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region on Saturday. The taskforce was led by Xu Shaochuan, deputy head of the administration. They are expected to help rescue the injured, help relatives of the dead and investigate the accident, according to the administration. All 11 people injured in the accident are in stable conditions under treatment, local authorities said on Sunday. A 55-seat bus carrying 50 people fell off a cliff more than 10 meters in height after crashing into an SUV and a pick-up truck at about 4:25 p.m. on Saturday on the No. 318 National Highway in Nyemo County. The bus passengers were mainly tourists from regions including Anhui, Shanghai, Shandong and Hebei. Four people were in the SUV and one was in the truck. The crash occurred on an accident-prone road section extending along the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, on high mountains with multiple sudden turns. ^ top ^

China opens Tibet forum with focus on development (Xinhua)
2014-08-12
Around 100 representatives, including about 40 from Britain, India, the United States and other countries convened on Tuesday at the two-day forum on the development of Tibet in Lhasa, the autonomous region's capital. The forum, jointly sponsored by the Information Office of China's State Council and the regional government of Tibet, will see the delegates put their heads together in penal discussions on how should Tibet develop. The topic of the forum is the opportunities and choices for Tibet's development. Issues concerning the protection of Tibetan culture and environment will also be highlighted. After the forum, nearly 100 representatives from China and abroad will conduct field trips in Lhasa and Nyingchi Prefecture. ^ top ^

Four development modes to create Tibet's future: official (Xinhua)
2014-08-13
A bright future is expected for Tibet through four practical development modes, said a senior official at a forum on the development of Tibet on Tuesday. Losang Jamcan, chairman of the Tibetan regional government, made a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the two-day forum in the autonomous region's capital of Lhasa. Losang Jamcan proposed realizing Tibet's goals by the combination of the leap-frog, sustainable, non-balanced and harmonious development. Around 100 representatives from around the world convened for the forum. Among which, about 40 foreign delegates from Britain, India, the United states and other countries. Leap-frog development is the basis for solving all problems Tibet is facing and sustainable development is at the core, said Losang Jamcan. The central government has defined leap-frog development of Tibet based on its weak foundation, comparatively low development level and its large gap with the national level. Tibet should keep its growth rate and pay attention to its development quality by improving infrastructure, developing characteristic industries and strengthen its self-development abilities, said Losang Jamcan. Tibet's GDP has maintained double-digit growth for the past two decades. In 2013, the economy of Tibet reached 80.2 billion yuan (13 billion US dollars). The sustainable development is the core of Tibet's leap-frog development, with structural improvement and good ecological environment, said Losang Jamcan. "Tibet will never develop at the expense of its environment," he said. "To protect Tibet's environment is the biggest contribution we can make to the nation and even humankind." Tibet is still one of the regions in the world with the best ecological environment. Tibet has implemented the most strict environmental access system and environmental impact assessment system in the region as the nation's major ecological barrier. The region will boost gradual development in its three economic zones and provide people of all ethnic groups with fair fundamental public services, he said. Jointly sponsored by the Information Office of China's State Council and the regional government of Tibet, the forum seeks to gather opportunities and suggestions for Tibet's future. ^ top ^

"Shangri-la complex" stymies rational perception of Tibet (Global Times)
2014-08-14
Since British novelist James Hilton introduced the fictional "Shangri-la" to Western readers eight decades ago, foreign minds have often perceived Tibet as a mystical but harmonious paradise. They believe the mythical Himalayan region, isolated from the outside world, has been a permanently happy land where most inhabitants are meditative lamas clad in crimson robes, holding prayer beads and chanting scriptures. But scholars and journalists from China and abroad attending the ongoing forum on the development of Tibet said that Westerners' "Shangri-la complex" is hampering and limiting rational understanding of the autonomous region of China. In many Chinese eyes, Tibet used to be a backcountry with an inhumane serf system. The highland craves for development and civilization as any other part of the world. Hilton had never been to the Tibetan areas he wrote. When journalists, film directors and politicians in his time portrayed Tibet as a heavenly place, the region was under the feudal system -- a form of society the same cruel as, if not worse than, its European alternatives in the dark Middle Ages. It was also a land where the average life expectancy for Tibetans was no older than 36 years and wives with extramarital affairs would have their noses and ears cut off for punishment. "Despite the British invasion of Tibet in 1904, the West did not have the opportunity to understand Tibet," Alessandra Spalletta, China news editor of the Italian news agency AGI, spoke at the forum. "They started a mystification of Tibet while building the mythology of 'Shangri-la.'" "Western people are fond of their own images of Tibet," she said, "rather than the real Tibet." As some scholars pointed out, Tibet has become a "spiritual supermarket" for Westerners, who are trying to find what they have lost in their own societies in the process of industrialization and modernization. Some believed that Tibet, as the "last pure land on the earth," should be immune from any development which they are afraid might lead to destruction of the traditional Tibetan culture and annihilation of Tibetan Buddhism. "Those people believe that Tibet should remain in a primitive stage for ever and Tibetans should always ride yaks and live in tents," Cui Yuying, vice head of the State Council Information Office, spoke at the opening ceremony of the forum. For the past half century, however, Tibet has been on an irreversible path of development and civilization, which complies with the general trend of the development of the human society, the senior official said. With the "Shangri-la complex," many Western scholars have opted to study Tibet's history before the 20th century. Some even suggest the history of Tibet after 1951, when the region was peacefully liberated, is not worth studying at all. Some Western media have shunned the economic achievements Tibet has made over the recent decades. The notion of Shangri-la, created by the Westerners, has been utilized by separatists for splitting Tibet from China. "Romanticization (of Tibet) is a part of the Dalai Lama's campaign for separatism," said Narasimhan Ram, chair of Kasturi & Son Limited and publisher of the Indian newspaper Hindu. He said that the Dalai Lama always talks about beauty and isolation of the old Tibet rather than its backwardness and extreme poverty, taking advantage of the "Shangri-la complex." Matevz Raskovic, a board member of the Confucius Institute, the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, told Xinhua that some Western media's skewed depiction of Tibet that has reinforced the "Shangri-la complex" hinders and limits rational understanding of Tibet. "When you look at Tibet the way some Westerners perceive it, it always goes to religious issues," he said. "It should be responsibility of journalists to expose other faces of Tibet, such as tourism opportunities and cohabitation of diverse cultures." ^ top ^

Tibet's intangible heritage well-protected, says official (Xinhua)
2014-08-14
The Chinese government's efforts to preserve intangible heritage in Tibet and other ethnic regions have proven effective, said sources at the first Tibet development forum Wednesday. "Of the 386 million yuan (62.7 million U.S. dollars) for cultural heritage preservation allocated by the central treasury between 2002 and 2009, about a quarter was spent in ethnic regions including Tibet," said Li Jianhui, a culture promotion official with the State Ethnic Affairs Commission. Over the past eight years, the central treasury allocated a total of 97.2 million yuan to intangible heritage in Tibet Autonomous Region, said Li. The plateau region is home to more than 1,000 intangible heritage items, including the famous Tibetan opera and the Epic of King Gesar, which have been listed as World Intangible Cultural Heritage items by UNESCO. Preservation of cultural essence is aimed at passing on the heritage to future generations, said Li. "A total of 4 million copies of the Tibetan language edition of King Gesar have been published, averaging one copy for each Tibetan adult," he said. Other forms of intangible cultural heritage in Tibet include traditional music, dancing, craftsmanship and traditional herbal medicine and folkways. More than 100,000 articles, nearly 2,000 audio and video clips and 45,000 pictures have been collected since Tibet started a census on intangible cultural heritage in 2006, according to figures provided by Tibet's regional government. ^ top ^

Lhasa-Shigatse railway to open on Saturday (China Daily)
2014-08-15
A new rail line will open to passengers tomorrow in the Tibet autonomous region. It will link the region's two largest cities, the regional capital Lhasa and Shigatse. The new line is over 250 kilometers long and has 14 stations. Trains will travel at speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour. The new train will cut travel time in half between the two cities, reducing the trip down to three hours. It's expected this will boost tourism and economic development in the southwest part of the Tibet autonomous region. Journalist Zhang Junjun got to take the train during a recent test run. "Many people suffer from altitude sickness in this region, so the coaches are installed with an oxygen diffusion system to relieve this issue." The altitude is well over three thousand meters, and in some areas exceeds four thousand meters. But he says it's a smooth trip, despite the mountains and steep terrain the line crosses. "It is very quiet in the coach. I hardly heard the noise from the train wheels on the track." The first train will depart Lhasa railway station at 9 am Saturday. It will stop at four stations between Lhasa and Shigatse. Other stations will be completed in the following months. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

18 people 'surrender' over attacks Xinjiang (SCMP)
2014-08-11
State media reported yesterday that 18 people who took part in violence that killed dozens in Xinjiang have handed themselves in to the police. The authorities said a group of assailants attacked people on a highway and at a police station and government buildings in Shache county in the Kashgar area on July 28, killing 37 victims before police shot dead 59 of the attackers. Of the 37 civilians who were killed, 35 were Han Chinese and two were Uygur, according to Xinhua. No information on the attackers has been released. The Xinjiang Daily, the region's official newspaper, said 18 people had since surrendered. It said most of them were "ordinary people", some of whom had been coerced into taking part in the violence without knowing the reasons for it. Dilxat Rexit, spokesman for the exiled World Uygur Congress, said the "so-called surrenders" were made in order to avoid death at the hands of armed police. Amid a manhunt for the participants in the violence, armed forces encircled a corn field where 18 farmers, the youngest of whom was 15, had retreated and were shooting in the air. Neither account could be verified. The Shache incident appeared to be the most serious single instance of bloodshed in Xinjiang since riots broke out in 2009 that left nearly 200 dead. However, overseas Uygurs activists disputed the official version of events, saying police killed Uygurs who had been protesting against a security crackdown during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The regional government last week said it had arrested 215 people over the attack. ^ top ^

Suspected jihadi phone calls target underage Uyghur girls (Global Times)
2014-08-13
Law enforcement authorities in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region said they have taken note of online allegations that Uyghur girls were being telephoned and asked to serve as "sex slaves" for Islamic State (IS) jihadists in the Middle East, and are investigating the issue. Such appeals were brought to public attention by a Sina Weibo entry posted on Sunday. The post claimed that some Uyghur students from Xinjiang, who are studying at high schools outside the region, have received anonymous phone calls. These appear to be soliciting them to give up studying to travel to Iraq to become sex slaves for IS fighters. The post immediately caught wide attention and was reposted at least 2,000 times before it was deleted on Monday. A source in Fujian Province, who claimed he had knowledge about such calls and would rather be identified as Zheng, told the Global Times that he was told by several Uyghur school girls about similar phone calls. "They told me that they received anonymous calls, asking them to go to Syria through Indonesia for battlefield service. They were asked to dedicate themselves to jihadists. But the girls did not report this to the police. They were hesitant, because [they thought] all Muslims are brothers and sisters," Zheng noted. Zheng added that the solicitation may expand from individuals to larger groups. "Many teenagers [studying outside Xinjiang] are from rural areas in southern Xinjiang. They are easily affected due to their family backgrounds," Zheng said. Some Net users were shocked at the alleged instigation and called for attention from related authorities. Website snapshots showed that the official Weibo account of the public security bureau of Altay prefecture in Xinjiang also retweeted the post, with a comment that it is following up on the issue. But the repost could not be found on the home page of the bureau's Weibo account Tuesday. "It is possible that such calls do exist. One of our investigation focuses at present is how the students' numbers were leaked," a police officer from the Altay bureau, who didn't reveal his name, told the Global Times. The officer added that before local students leave to attend schools outside the region, they all have to go through a training session. "Such training is more about warning against participation in illegal religious activities, instead of being designed to guard against such calls, but I believe students will be highly alert if they receive such calls," said the officer. Meanwhile, an anti-terrorism official in Xinjiang, who asked not to be named, Tuesday told the Global Times that authorities have taken note of similar online revelations, and are looking into the issue. However, this is yet to be confirmed. Li Wei, an expert on anti-terrorism with the Chinese Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said it would be very difficult to actually send those students out of the country, even if the alleged instigators are able to contact the students. Sun Lizhou, a Xinjiang-born scholar from Chongqing University, told the Global Times that the authenticity of such calls still needs to be verified, "but since some Uyghurs are reportedly fighting alongside IS in Syria, it would be possible to speak to the students on the phone." While this case cannot be verified for the moment, terrorist organizations seeking to split Xinjiang from China have long incited people in the region to join jihad both within the country and abroad. "Religious extremism has misled people, particularly youngsters, into taking part in terrorist activities. Those deceived became chess pieces in a politically motivated plot," Nur Bekri, chairman of the regional government of Xinjiang, said in April. Most of these efforts involve disseminating audio or video clips about provocative speeches, bloody scenes or burning national flags. Such content can be exchanged online or via memory cards. Some underground preaching sites, including home preaching, can also become a source for terror incitement, according to experts. "Junior or senior high school students are an easy target of such incitement since they are psychologically immature and many are rebellious in their teenage years. A lack of objective judgment also makes them vulnerable to these audio or video files," Li added. The anonymous anti-terrorism official in Xinjiang said that separatist groups tend to link themselves with overseas terrorist organizations, such as the IS, so as to boost their international standing, and win recognition from those groups in exchange for financial and personnel support. The IS is also reportedly planning on expanding its "holy war" to Xinjiang. According to a report from Phoenix Weekly, in a video released early July, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi claimed he will take revenge on those who took away the rights of Muslims in 20 countries, with China allegedly placed at the top. Experts pointed out that such vows are no more than a bluff. "This is the habitual practice of terrorist groups for propaganda efforts. It won't have any substantial influence," Li said. Turgunjan Tursun, a research fellow from the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, echoed such sentiments, but added that the IS may incite extremists in Xinjiang by spreading audio or video clips about extremism. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Occupy Central protest 'would need 20,000 participants for effective blockade' (SCMP)
2014-08-14
Organisers of the Occupy Central protest will need either to mobilise more than 20,000 protesters or strategically place participants at key junctions if they are to succeed in blockading the city's financial district, the South China Morning Post has found. Occupy Central organisers have previously said their aim is to rally 10,000 people and use non-violent means in an effort to paralyse the district to pressure authorities here and in Beijing over political reform. But a Post study found it would take more than 11,000 people just to occupy Chater Road. The number is based on protesters locking arms, as they did in a July 2 sit-in protest on Chater Road. That protest required two adults for each square metre. Most sit-in protests require 1.67 people per square metre, according to Paul Yip Siu-fai, a University of Hong Kong expert who specialises in crowd counting. But that density leaves large gaps between protesters, making it easy for police to disperse them. It would take at least 22,000 protesters to form a single, high-density crowd covering Chater Road and a main section of Des Voeux Road Central - two of the main arteries of Central. Alternatively, organisers could split up the crowd and stage simultaneous sit-ins at critical junctions such as the intersections of Queen's Road Central and Wyndham Street, Connaught Road Central and Pedder Street, and Garden Road and Queen's Road Central. While a police spokesman said the force would not comment on its operations, a source familiar with the issue said police believed this tactic was the most likely. "Police management has been thinking: if Occupy Central is to go ahead, will it take the same form as the Chater Road [protest]?" the source said. On that day, a single crowd of some 500 protesters occupied a section of Chater Road. It took police more than five hours to remove the protesters. The source said police believed the protest may not be limited to Central and were now trying to identify "choking points". "The police are preparing for the worst: the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, Western Harbour Tunnel or major highways and landmarks may also be their targets," he said. "They will probably have a team of 100 or 200 just to occupy the tramway or a particular junction." Occupy Central organiser Dr Chan Kin-man said: "If paralysing [Central] is our only aim, just a handful of people blocking the MTR train doors can achieve that. What makes civil disobedience truly powerful is that lots of people are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the common good." ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's consumer inflation tame in July, but producer deflation stubborn (SCMP)
2014-08-10
The mainland posted mild consumer inflation yesterday, well below the annual target in July, giving authorities room to further relax monetary policy. But deflationary pressure for producers remained stubborn, highlighting a wobbly economic rebound. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the consumer price index held steady at 2.3 per cent year-on-year in July, while the producer price index fell 0.9 per cent for the 29th consecutive month. Analysts attributed the steady CPI to slides in prices for fresh fruit and vegetables, which offset rises in other categories. "In general, China's inflation outlook remains mild; however, the deflation risks may even rise in the foreseeable future if the growth momentum weakens again," ANZ economists Liu Li-Gang and Zhou Hao said in a research note. "Against this backdrop, the central bank should maintain an accommodative bias in the monetary policy stance." Ma Zihui, researcher at Huarong Securities in Beijing, said the slide in the PPI was "not a good message". He added: "July macroeconomic data might come out worse than some people expected." The bureau said on its website that the slowing pace of PPI declines in recent months - after plummeting 2.3 per cent in March - suggested a nascent recovery in industrial demand. Consistently mild inflation this year has given the government leeway to ease up on liquidity taps, and it has experimented with a variety of measures intended to support growth without reinflating asset bubbles. But economists are divided as to how effective these efforts have been. While exports and manufacturing activity produced positive surprises in July, import and services data suggest fundamental domestic demand remains subdued. ^ top ^

China-ASEAN trade, investment has room to deepen (Xinhua)
2014-08-11
Trade between China and the ASEAN has been growing despite recent disputes in the South China Sea, economists say. According to Chinese customs data published on Friday, trade between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) rose 5.4 percent year-on-year to reach $261.3 billion in the first seven months. China's exports to the ASEAN bloc grew 8.1 percent to $146.2 billion in the first seven months, while imports amounted to $115.1 billion, up 2.3 percent from a year earlier. China has been ASEAN's largest trading partner since 2009, and ASEAN has been China's third largest trading partner since 2010. Since 1995, trade between China and the ASEAN economies has grown an average of close to 20 percent a year. In 2013, two-way trade rose 10.9 percent to $444 billion, significantly higher than the $54.8 billion in 2002, Chinese customs figures showed. Economists say there is still a lot of room to grow. The ASEAN is a political and economic organization which was formed in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Membership has since expanded to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. "China and ASEAN are a natural fit as trade partners. The links have strengthened in the last 20 years thanks to regional trade pacts, supply chain integration and rising incomes," banking giant HSBC wrote in an extensive report sent to Xinhua on Wednesday. The report, titled "What a globalizing China means for ASEAN", is the latest in an HSBC series that looks at what a globalizing China means for various parts of the world. It is compiled by leading HSBC economists Herald van der Linde, Trinh Nguyen and chief China economist Qu Hongbin. ASEAN's trade with China represents 14 percent of its total trade, up from 3 percent from 1995. It is now greater than China's trade volume between the US and EU, according to the report. Around 12 percent of ASEAN's exports went to China in 2013, up from 6.5 percent in 2003. More than 16 percent of ASEAN's imported goods came from China in 2013, up from less than 8.5 percent in 2003. Since 2002, tariffs for more than 90 percent of goods in the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area have been reduced to almost zero. This year, analysts worry disputes between China and some ASEAN nations - Vietnam and the Philippines - over the South China Sea could bring economic clouds to the tide of trade. Customs figures tell a different story, however. ^ top ^

Envoy: China still vital for Japanese firms (China Daily)
2014-08-12
China remains crucial for Japanese enterprises despite strained relations between the two largest economies in Asia and the sharp decline of Japanese investment in China, according to the Japanese consul-general in Shanghai. "Emerging as a huge market, China will occupy a more important role in the strategies of Japanese enterprises, including manufacturing businesses," Masahiro Kohara said in an interview with First Financial Daily. "In this sense, China's crucial role (for Japanese enterprises) has not changed much." From January to June, Japanese direct investment in China fell by 48.8 percent from a year earlier to $2.4 billion. Kohara said: "The primary reason for the sharp decline is the rising cost of labor. In the past, massive investment by Japanese enterprises in China was mainly driven by cheap and qualified labor. But the situation is changing." In recent years, Japanese enterprises have adopted a "China plus one" strategy, selecting a cheap investment destination outside China, but Kohara said China's role can never be ignored. "China's services and banking sectors are at a crucial stage in reforms. This means there is a golden opportunity for related Japanese enterprises. We will pay high attention to any policy adjustment in these areas, such as the establishment of the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Pilot Zone," Kohara said. Yao Haitian, an Institute of Japanese Studies researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, agreed and said the huge and expanding Chinese market is important for each transnational company. "The Chinese market continues to hold an important position for Japanese companies, as they have cultivated the market for decades and accumulated large stocks of investment here. "Despite the fall in Japanese investment in China, Japanese companies continue to show an interest in some emerging sectors in China such as retail, logistics and finance, owing to their advanced management," Yao said. However, he added that the strained ties between the two countries will continue to dent Japanese investment in China. "As Japan continues to foster investment destinations outside China, China's role for Japanese enterprises will probably weaken in the future. "Meanwhile, competition between Chinese and Japanese companies in other markets will be somewhat clouded by political factors," Yao said. On May 17, the first investment pact between China, Japan and South Korea took effect, boosting the ongoing trilateral free trade agreement. Kohara said,"I am very optimistic about cooperation between China, Japan and South Korea in economic areas." Referring to a fall in the number of Japanese residents in Shanghai, Kohara attributed this to difficult political ties, air pollution concerns, the drop in the yen's value and the increased use of local employees at Japanese companies. ^ top ^

Nation needs to rethink industrial strategy (Global Times)
2014-08-12
China should rethink its industrial strategy to enhance competitiveness of its manufacturing sector, which will help the reform and restructuring of the Chinese economy, the head of a manufacturing association said on Tuesday. It is not an easy mission to push the transition, Luo Jun, CEO of the Asian Manufacturing Association (AMA), told a media briefing in Beijing, suggesting Germany's implementation of a strategic initiative known as "Industry 4.0" could be a model for reshaping China's factory sector. The Industry 4.0 term, which was first used at Hanover Fair in 2011, has become the linchpin of the German government's industrial strategy that aims to advance computerization of traditional industries such as manufacturing. New technologies - the likes of 3D printing, robotizing and innovation in materials - will drive the future of the nation's manufacturing which is currently beset with a lot of challenges, Luo noted. As part of the association's efforts to help prompt a shift in the country's manufacturing activity, Luo also announced on Tuesday that the seventh Annual Conference of Asian Manufacturing Forum will be held in Weifang, East China's Shandong Province in September, focusing on deep discussions about the German pattern of industrial revolution. But there is a long way to go before China could leapfrog traditional manufacturing and go straight to what has now been achieved by Germany, as the development of industrial technologies in China can hardly match that in Germany, Xu Hongcai, director of the Department of Information under the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times on Tuesday. A key roadblock to manufacturing upgrade is the absence of a systematic innovation mechanism capable of fostering renovations that will add value to products, Xu said. "Equipping [traditional] manufacturing with various new technologies would be a rather long-term task," Luo told the Global Times on the sidelines of the briefing. The latest data which points to brisk growth in the earnings of industrial firms cannot mask manufacturers' struggle for existence against a backdrop of overcapacity, especially the small ones, Xu believes. Profits earned by major industrial firms were up 17.9 percent in June from the previous year to 588.08 billion yuan ($95.52 billion), an apparent improvement from an 8.9 percent increase in May, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed in late July. In the first half of the year, profits jumped 11.4 percent year-on-year, the bureau said. With tight credit conditions, manufacturers lack motivation to invest in industrial research and development, which partly makes their transition to advanced manufacturing more difficult, Luo remarked, urging the adoption of preferential financial policies to prevent capital flows from being siphoned to fields such as the property sector which are considered as surefire to get rich. ^ top ^

Team formed to boost Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration (China Daily)
2014-08-12
A leading team and office to promote the synergetic development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province has been set up by China's cabinet, with Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli appointed director, people.cn reported on Aug 8. Integration of Beijing with its two neighboring provincial areas will be speeded up after the creation of this office, said Hu Cunzhi, vice-minster of the Land and Resources Ministry. The three regions are new engines that will boost China's economy growth, said Xu Yaotong, professor of China National Administration School. The integration of these areas will get a substantial boost, he added. ^ top ^

Mainland economic activity slows (SCMP)
2014-08-14
A shock fall in the mainland's broadest measure of credit in the economy and sluggish data for real estate investment in July flagged the risk that investors have got too optimistic too soon about the strength of a burgeoning economic rebound. Economists say the performance will add pressure on Beijing to ease policy further to consolidate a still fragile economic rebound, while some expect growth will be sustained on fresh infrastructure investment. "The slight growth rebound seen in the second quarter appeared short-lived, as the economy lacks momentum for sustained fast expansion," said Peng Xingyun, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The Shanghai Composite Index recouped earlier losses to close 0.1 per cent higher as investors speculated on further easing steps to come. Hong Kong's benchmark share index finished at its highest in more than 31/2 years, with the Hang Seng Index ending up 0.8 per cent at 24,890.34 points, while the China Enterprises Index of the leading offshore Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 1.2 per cent. "If investment growth slows further with a property market downturn hitting more cities," a cut on interest rate or "a slight reduction" on overall banks' reserve requirement ratio cannot be ruled out, Peng said. New yuan loans issued in July slumped to 385.2 billion yuan (HK$484.9 billion), which may be a temporary fall back from a peak of 1.08 trillion yuan in June, but economists say it also reflects slow industrial demand. Total social financing tumbled to 273.1 billion yuan last month, the lowest since November 2008 and down from 1.97 trillion yuan in June. Despite the nationwide relaxation on home purchases, property investment growth cooled to 13.7 per cent in the first seven months from 14.1 per cent in the first half. That dragged down fixed-asset investment growth to 17 per cent from 17.3 per cent over the same period. Industrial production failed to move in tandem with strong export data last week, with growth decelerating to 9 per cent in July from 9.2 per cent in June, while retail sales growth eased to 12.2 per cent from 12.4 per cent. In an attempt to shore up market confidence, the People's Bank of China said the slumping money data was mainly owing to seasonal factors and a high comparison base, saying its monetary stance was unchanged. Economists at banks including UBS Securities and Bank of America Merrill Lynch expected credit data to rebound soon. State Information Centre senior researcher Zhu Baoliang said the unexpected money data may be linked to the one trillion yuan worth of pledged supplementary loans extended by PBOC to China Development Bank to support social housing construction. Zhu said that Beijing does not need any dramatic easing amid existing policies. Hu Yifan, head of research at Haitong Securities, said investment is set to pick up in highways, railways, airport and housing renovations. But she said financial risks may be accumulating as a peak in repayments is approaching for trust loans. ^ top ^

China's demand for overseas crude to expand this year (China Daily)
2014-08-14
China's dependency on foreign crude will continue to increase this year despite the ongoing strife in major oil-producing nations like Iraq, a leading industry think tank said on Tuesday. According to a report published by China National Petroleum Corp, the country's largest oil and gas producer, China is expected to import 298 million metric tons of crude this year, accounting for about 58.66 percent of the total crude consumption in the country. The company's research institute estimated that full year crude demand in China would be around 508 million tons and domestic output around 210 million tons. However, some analysts feel that the reliance on overseas crude supplies may be much higher than the levels estimated by CNPC. Gao Jian, a crude analyst at domestic commodities consultancy Sublime China Information Co Ltd, said foreign crude may account for about 60 percent of China's total crude supplies this year because of the higher imports in the second half. "International crude prices have been falling in the first half and are at relatively low levels now. It is a good time for Chinese companies to bolster crude imports for commercial or strategic reserves," he said. According to Gao, China's crude imports during the second half will register a 10 percent year-on-year growth. China imported 129 million tons of crude during the first five months, up 10.9 percent year-on-year, according to CNPC. Foreign dependency for the first five months reached 59.87 percent. The CNPC report, however, indicated that the ongoing strife in Iraq could have a potential impact on global crude supplies and oil prices. Gao from Sublime, however, feels that the situation in Iraq will not imperil China's oil security, especially if the strife is restricted to northern Iraq. Oil product demand in China grew at relatively low levels during the first six months of the year. Diesel consumption in China has declined for 14 successive months due to the sluggish economy. Diesel consumption in the manufacturing industry dropped 13.5 percent year-on-year. The power sector's consumption of diesel declined by 16.8 percent year-on-year while the construction industry consumed 18.3 percent less diesel compared with the same period last year, according to data provided by the CNPC. Gao said the main reason for the lower diesel consumption is the government's policy on eliminating outdated production capacity. "Many companies in high-energy consuming industries were forced to shut down, which resulted in less diesel consumption," Gao said. "The diesel use is also falling due to the increasing natural gas consumption in the transportation sector." ^ top ^

Central cabinet outlines measures to ease SME financing costs (SCMP)
2014-08-15
The central cabinet has issued a guideline detailing measures outlined at a July meeting to ease funding bottlenecks for companies, particularly smaller ones. The State Council document, dated August 5 but posted on its website yesterday, came a day after the central bank reported sharply lower credit data. Total social financing tumbled to almost a six-year low last month, fuelling slowdown concerns. As "downside pressures remain large" in the economy, the cabinet said it was important to ease high financing costs. While large, state-owned enterprises can take out loans at 5.8 per cent interest, borrowing costs for smaller firms can be as high as 17 per cent. It added the central bank should keep liquidity "steady and appropriate", ensure good implementation of targeted reserve requirement ratio cuts, and increase lending to areas such as shanty town renovation, railways, services and energy saving. New yuan loans slumped to 385.2 billion yuan (HK$484.8 billion) in July from June's 1.08 trillion yuan due to seasonal factors, but also reflected sluggish industrial demand and banks' caution on rising bad loans, analysts said. "More policy easing is unavoidable and lowering the financing cost of the economy is the top priority" for the central bank as Beijing remains keen to achieve a growth rate around 7.5 per cent, said Barclays Capital economist Chang Jian. The State Council said it would cut the weighting of deposits and asset size in banks' performance evaluation to discourage them from purely chasing scale and profits, in a bid to guide them to channel loans to the weaker areas of the economy. Authorities should expand financing channels for banks and other institutions, including pushing forward securitisation backed by credit assets, and roll out "as soon as possible" internet finance regulations, it added. The government will also expand the scope of tax cuts for long-term fund investments in the capital market and lower the threshold for banks to issue financial debts targeting small and rural companies. Companies that belong to industries with excessive capacity but are run profitably will receive differentiated treatment, the guideline said, implying that lending curbs to such businesses might be loosened. It reiterated the government would "orderly" push forward interest rate reforms, without elaborating. ^ top ^

Tax rebate program expanded (Global Times)
2014-08-15
China rolled out an expanded export tax rebate pilot program on Thursday to support the country's exporters, in a move to further stabilize its trade growth. Exporters at eight domestic ports will enjoy more convenience in collecting export tax rebates starting from September 1, according to a statement jointly released by the Ministry of Finance, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) and the State Administration of Taxation. The new program will save around two weeks for exporters at eight ports in cities including Nanjing, Suzhou, Qingdao and Wuhan, as the new policy allows exporters to apply for tax rebate immediately after the goods left the port of departure, an official from the Shanghai Municipal ­Transportation Commission told the Global Times Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity. Only container goods for export in the eight ports that were transshipped to Yangshan Free Trade Port in Shanghai are covered by this policy, the statement said. Shanghai is set to play an increasingly important role in China's foreign trade in the future. Boosted by the establishment of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, total trade volume in Shanghai increased by 7.1 percent year-on-year in the first seven months of 2014, which is 5.1 percentage points higher than the nation's average, data from Shanghai customs showed Thursday. The current tax rebate program is an expansion of a previous pilot program launched in August 2012, which brings tax refund convenience for transshipments from the ports of Qingdao and Wuhan to the Yangshan port. Experts noted that the new policy will help streamline the procedures for granting tax rebates to exporters and increase their capital efficiency. "The new program allows exporters to choose closer ports and to get tax refunds faster, which will help to save cost," Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce, told the Global Times on Thursday. Tian Yun, a research fellow with the China Society of Macroeconomics at the National Development and Reform Commission, noted that similar support policies are expected to follow in the near future to spur the country. Earlier in May, the State Council unveiled a slew of broad measures, including creating better financing conditions for exporters and improving the tax rebate system, to boost the country's trade growth. China reported encouraging trade data in July, helped by the government's stimulating policies as well as a recovery in external demand. Total trade volume in the month rose 6.9 percent year-on-year to around $378.48 billion. Exports surged 14.5 percent to $212.89 billion, compared with 7.2 percent growth in June, according to the GAC. However, Tian noted that it is likely that the July export growth was inflated by hot money, and the outlook on foreign trade may not be that rosy. Also, slowing investment and credit growth indicate that China's economic recovery is still patchy. New yuan loans came in at 385.2 billion yuan ($62.54 billion) in July, well below the June figure of 1.08 trillion yuan, the central bank said Wednesday. Urban fixed-assets investment increased by 17 percent year-on-year in the first seven months this year, cooling from a 17.3 percent growth in the January-June period, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Wednesday. Tian noted that China is suffering from severe oversupply, and as it will take a long time to boost domestic consumption, the country needs to further explore the overseas market. "Exports still play a crucial role in absorbing ­China's overcapacity," he said. Bai agreed that a rise in exports will help ease the downward pressure on the economy, but noted that relying too much on policies to drive exports is not a sustainable strategy in the long term. ^ top ^

Exporters eyeing boost in Russian business (China Daily)
2014-08-15
Fruit and vegetable exporters in China expect to increase sales to Russia, which has banned such imports from the European Union and the United States in retaliation to Western economic sanctions imposed over the situation in Ukraine. "Russia's ban on vegetables and fruit from the US and EU is encouraging for our exports, which are gaining momentum," said Cao Xinyi, general manager of Dili Group's subsidiary in Mudanjiang, a city in Heilongjiang provinces. "Judging from our future orders, this boost is very obvious and will become stronger in the second half of this year," Cao said. He expects sales to Russia this year to rise by 80 percent from last year to $3 billion yuan ($487.58 million). Exports in the first half rose by 20 percent to 800 million yuan. On Aug 7, in retaliation to economic sanctions imposed by the West amid the crisis in Ukraine, Moscow imposed a ban on all meat, fish, poultry, fruit and vegetables from the EU and the US for one year. Russia is by far the largest importer of fruit and vegetables from the EU. The EU's ambassador to Russia, Vygaudas Usackas, says the ban will result in an EU export loss of 11.8 billion euros ($15.8 billion) worth of food and farm products to Russia, or 10 percent of total EU agricultural exports. An unnamed source at fruit and vegetable company Lontrue was quoted by Security Times as saying it will "seize this great opportunity" to expand sales and enhance exports to Russia. Liu Guohua, deputy manager of the operations department at Greenwood Business Park in Moscow, said the Russian ban on the Western imports will be a very good chance for Chinese fruit and vegetable exporters to increase sales to Russia. Zhang Jianping, a researcher at the Institute for International Economic Research at the National Development and Reform Commission, said the boost to Chinese fruit and vegetable sales in Russia will be hard to estimate in the short term. "Europe and Russia are both exchanging blows and we have to wait and see how long this lasts," Zhang said. "If the EU and Russia standoff continues or deteriorates... in the medium to long term, there is the opportunity for Chinese agricultural enterprises to increase their global strategy and operations and production in eastern Europe, from where they can enter the Russian market." Baorong Co, a branch of Dili Group's Mudanjiang subsidiary, established the customs control zone in Dongning county. Video cameras, set up by customs and quarantine authorities, will supervise the warehouse in the zone round the clock, avoiding the double-checking of cargo and improving customs clearance. "The Baorong zone project marks direct exports for the company's fruit and vegetables. The zone will develop into a logistics, distribution and price-setting hub for exports of fruit and vegetables to the Russian Far East," Zhang Chunjiao, chairman of the Heilongjiang Province Applied Economic Association, told Interfax News Agency. A similar customs control zone will be set up at Suifenhe port in southeast Heilongjiang with investment of 1 billion yuan. Work will be completed in late 2015, Cao said. A China-Russia cross-border e-commerce platform will be launched at the end of this year to boost trading in agricultural products. China and Russia signed an agreement on August 8 allowing specific goods, including fruit and vegetables from China to Ruyssia and timber from Russia to China, to directly pass through Suifenhe-Pogranichnyy port and Dongning-Burtaphca port after one inspection in the country of origin. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

NK to issue 'rosy' report (Global Times)
2014-08-12
North Korea said Monday it would publish its own "rosy" human rights report, six months after a UN inquiry published a list of violations so severe as to amount to crimes against humanity. "The report will show the true picture of the people of the (North) dynamically advancing toward a brighter and rosy future," a spokesman from the North's Association for Human Rights Studies said in an interview with the official KCNA news agency. ^ top ^

DPRK fires 3 short-range projectiles into eastern waters (Xinhua)
2014-08-14
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired three short-range projectiles into eastern waters on Thursday morning, Yonhap News Agency and YTN reported. The three projectiles were believed to be launched from the DPRK's 300mm-caliber multiple-rocket launchers with a range of some 200 km. The firing came after the DPRK's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland unveiled a statement earlier in the day, which urged South Korea to lift economic sanctions against the DPRK and cancel the scheduled military drills with the United States. ^ top ^

DPRK leader guides test-fire of tactical rocket (Xinhua)
2014-08-15
Top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un has guided the test-fire of a Korean style ultra-precision high-performance tactical rocket on the occasion of the 69th anniversary of the nation's liberation, the official KCNA news agency reported Friday. Before the test-fire, Kim was briefed on the engineering data of the rocket, which was developed under his guidance, said the KCNA. The test-fire was "successful" and proved "the maneuverability of the tactical rocket in different trajectories fully meets the requirements of latest military science and technology," it said. Kim expressed satisfaction with the test-fire result, appreciated hard work of officials, scientists and technicians in national defense and munitions factories, and expected them to continue to contribute to bolstering up the country's armed forces. The DPRK said earlier that it will conduct more military drills on a regular basis to deal with the joint military maneuvers between South Korea and the United States. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Vladimir Putin is to pay high-level visit to Mongolia in coming September (Info Mongolia)
2014-08-08
The Head of Mongolian part of the Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Committee, the Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia D.Terbishdagva has received the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, the Head of Russian part of the Russia-Mongolia Intergovernmental Committee Sergey Yefimovich Donskoy on August 8th in the Government Palace of Mongolia. The Deputy Prime Minister D.Terbishdagva has noted “The forthcoming official visit of the President of Russian Federation to Mongolia is the vital important event for Mongolia; therefore, we've been ensuring all preparatory conditions in somewhat higher level for celebrating the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Battles at the Khalkh River between August 22 and September 04, 2014. During the visit of the Russian President, the Government of Mongolia plans to place the medium-term program to develop further strategic collaboration between Mongolia and the Russian Federation”. In response, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Russian Federation Sergey Donskoy has said “The 75th anniversary of the victory of the Battles at the Khalkh River is also significant event for Russia; that's because the President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is going to pay a high-level official visit to Mongolia on coming September 3rd, 2014. As for Russian Federation, we also plan to sign off several important documents to increase our bilateral cooperation further ahead during the upcoming visit of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin respectively. ^ top ^

Russia-Mongolia-China Fair Trade will be commenced in Manzhouli to promote trilateral economic partnership (Info Mongolia)
2014-08-11
In the frameworks to develop the trilateral economic partnership and bring inter-border collaboration into a new level, Russia-Mongolia-China Fair Trade will be commenced at the International Convention and Exhibition Center in Manzhouli city of Inner Mongolia, China on August 22-25, 2014. The Fair Trade is hosted by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions as general organizer in collaboration with Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the People's Government of Manzhouli. Nevertheless, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation will be participating as an official partner along with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the People's Government of Inner Mongolia. This year's event will be focused on forestry and mining industry, construction materials, vehicles and auto parts. Also, during the presentation of the exhibition, enterprises will be enabled to host workshops and seminars, and ceremony to select the best participants will be also organized. ^ top ^

The first ever meeting between the State Heads of China, Russia and Mongolia expects to be organized in Ulaanbaatar (Info Mongolia)
2014-08-13
Following the participation at the 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, Mongolian delegates led by Foreign Minister Luvsanvandan BOLD attended in the 21st ASEAN Regional Forum took place on August 10, 2014. At this Regional Forum, Foreign Ministers and Vice Ministers from 28 states have participated including representatives of Russia, China, United States, EU, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Australia and Mongolia. At the Forum, Foreign Minister L.Bold delivered a speech introducing Mongolia's policy being adhered towards provision on regional peace and security. Besides, Minister L.Bold pointed out Mongolian President's initiation on Ulaanbaatar Dialogue, Mongolia's activity on not spreading nuclear weapon being carried out at international level, and contribution of Mongolian peacekeepers. During the Forum, Minister L.Bold held official meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Wang Yi and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation I.V.Morgulov, where parties exchanged views on bilateral and trilateral cooperation. The main topic of the meeting with Ministers of the two neighbors were focused on providing preparations of the upcoming state visit of President of the PR of China, Xi Jinping and working visit of President of the Russian Federation, V.V.Putin to Mongolia. Moreover, Foreign Minister L.Bold extended Mongolia's initiation on organizing first ever meeting between the state heads of the three countries in Ulaanbaatar in September 2014, and underlined that the Government of Mongolia pays high attention to bring the upcoming high-level visits' significance and results at highest level and to increase the impact of the visits to Mongolia's development. Besides, Foreign Minister of Mongolia L.Bold held separate meetings with Foreign Ministers of Australia, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Singapore and Thailand, and with representatives of 11 countries headed by their Vice Foreign Ministers. Also, Minister L.Bold met with United States Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union Catherine Ashton respectively and during the meetings, Foreign Minister L.Bold touched upon issues on Mongolia's priority goals in foreign policy such as to become ASEAN Dialogue Partner country and to join the APEC as a member-economy. ^ top ^

Xi looks to energy ties on Ulaanbaatar visit (Global Times)
2014-08-15
Eyeing cooperation in the energy sector, Chinese President Xi Jinping will embark on a State visit to Mongolia from August 21 to August 22 at the invitation of Mongolian President, foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang announced on Thursday. It will be Xi's first State visit to Mongolia and his second solo presidential trip since he took office, which observers say indicates the distinctive role Mongolia plays in China's diplomacy. "Mongolian people have a good impression of Xi," Tsagaan Puntsag, chief of staff of the Office of the President of Mongolia, said during an interview. "His visit will be historic. We believe both countries will reach agreement in many important topics." China and Mongolia are expected to sign important documents covering areas such as energy, mining and infrastructure, Jigjid Rentsendoo, State Secretary of Mongolia's Ministry of Mining, said during an interview on Tuesday in Ulaanbaatar. The two countries are also seeking to sign an initial agreement on a gas project which includes construction of two coal-to-gas plants with 95 percent of the output going to China through pipelines, according to Erdenebulgan Oyun, vice-minister of Mining, the Bloomberg reported. Transportation will be another important subject during Xi's visit, as Mongolia would like to discuss access to more Chinese harbors, said Tsagaan, who declined to give more details. China currently allows Mongolia to use its Tianjin port so that the country can trade its goods with other countries in the Asia Pacific region. "It is very important for Mongolia to ship its coal to other markets through the sea," said Jigjid."We believe that Xi's visit will push for cooperation in that field." Coal comprises a big part of Mongolia's export revenue and the country has been seeking to expand its coal exports to countries other than China. Xi's trip will come roughly two weeks ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Mongolia in early September. Bordered by Russia in the north and China in the south, Mongolia is landlocked and relies heavily on its two neighbors for access to ports. Bilateral trade between China and Mongolia has reached some $6 billion in 2013. China has long been Mongolia's biggest trading partner and a major source of foreign investment. ^ 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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