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
  16-22.8.14, No. 538  
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DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

Oops! China fails to receive pope's fly-by message over 'technical glitch' (SCMP)
2014-08-17
China's leadership failed to receive an unprecedented message of goodwill sent by Pope Francis as he flew over the country, Vatican officials admitted, blaming technical problems for the mishap at a delicate moment in relations with Beijing. The pope offering his blessings in a message to China's President Xi Xinping on Thursday, taking advantage of protocol that sees him send a note to nations' leaders as he travels through their airspace. But the message never arrived, the pope's spokesman Federico Lombardi said, leaving China's embassy in Rome in the position of having to request the pontiff's words be retransmitted. “We didn't know if the message had been received,” said Lombardi. “The Chinese embassy in Rome asked for information about the message because it seemed not to have arrived.” The glitch is especially unfortunate timing as the pope was en route to South Korea for a visit squarely aimed at fuelling a new era of growth for the Catholic church in Asia, while China continues a long-running battle with the Vatican for control of its Catholic community. It was the first time that the pope had been permitted to fly over China, with the world's media giving extra scrutiny to the papal dispatch, which invoked “the divine blessings of peace and wellbeing on the nation”. His words were later resent via the Italian embassy, as Beijing and the Holy See have no formal diplomatic relations. When Pope John Paul II visited South Korea in 1989, Beijing refused to let his plane fly over China. Although the Church is making some spectacular gains in Asia, Catholics still only account for 3.2 per cent of the continent's population. But expansion faces tough challenges, especially in China which prohibits its Catholics from recognising the Vatican's authority. According to various reports, scores of Chinese Catholics were prevented from travelling to South Korea for Asian Youth Day, and Beijing also warned Chinese priests in attendance not to participate in any event involving the pope. ^ top ^

Chinese President meets UN Secretary-General on hot issues (Xinhua)
2014-08-17
Chinese President Xi Jinping and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday discussed several hot issues, including Ebola, Ukraine and Iraq, in their fourth meeting this year. The meeting in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, was held before they attended the opening ceremony of the 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games. Welcoming Ban to attend the ceremony, Xi said the spirit of the Olympic Games aligns with the purpose of the UN Charter. Ban wished the games a success. He said the games will help bridge cultural, ethnic and social divides between young people from different countries and regions, enhance their understanding and friendship, and promote world peace and development. The Youth Olympic Games, the brainchild of former International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, are held for young athletes ages 15 to 18. Xi said next year marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. The international community should take it as an opportunity to strengthen multilateralism, maintain the UN Charter and principles, and promote world peace and development. China will participate in the UN climate change summit to be held at the UN Headquarters in New York in September this year, the president said. Ban spoke highly of China's important role in international affairs and vowed to strengthen cooperation to deal with global challenges. He also expressed condolences to Xi for the earthquake that hit Ludian in southwest China's Yunnan Province on Aug. 3, leaving 617 people dead, and praised the relief efforts made by the Chinese government. CONTINUED HELP IN FIGHTING EBOLA - Xi said China will continue to make joint efforts with the international community to prevent and control the Ebola virus outbreak that has hit west Africa. China has provided emergency medical assistance to Ebola-hit countries and sent expert groups. China's medical teams in the countries are working with local staff, according to Xi. A Chinese plane carrying supplies worth 30 million yuan (4.9 million U.S. dollars) arrived in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia on Monday. The supplies include medical protective clothes, disinfectants, thermo-detectors and medicines. China also sent three expert teams composed of epidemiologists and specialists in disinfection and protection as well as medical supplies to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone despite high risk of infection. Before their arrival, eight members of a Chinese medical team sent to assist patients in Sierra Leone's hospitals were quarantined after treating Ebola patients. (...) Ban applauded China's timely assistance and called on the international community to continue to help African countries fight the epidemic. (...) PREVENT UKRAINE FROM HUMANITARIAN CRISIS - (...) Describing the crash of a Malaysian plane in eastern Ukraine as "a tragedy," Xi said the incident showed that "it is important and imperative to properly address the Ukraine crisis." (...). Xi urged all parties to negotiate for a program that could take into consideration the interests of all parties in a balanced manner at an early date. (...). He stressed that China continues to support the UN to play a major part in the process. Ban said that a political solution, rather than the use of force, is the only right way to resolve the Ukraine issue. The United Nations appreciates China's stance on the issue and hopes China will continue playing a constructive role in advancing dialogue and addressing the Ukraine crisis in a peaceful way. SUPPORT IRAQI GOVERNMENT IN STABILIZATION - (...) Xi described the development of the situation in Iraq as "both expected and unexpected." The way for Iraq to escape its current troubles is internal unity and no more external turmoil, he said. Since June, an insurgency by the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or simply the Islamic State (IS), has forced thousands of Iraqi people, mainly from minority communities, to flee their (...) On Friday, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on sanctions against extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, including ISIL. Xi hoped all parties in Iraq could put the country's interests first, push forward the reconciliation process and form a broadly representative government. He also stressed that the international community should respect the country's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity while providing assistance. Ban echoed Xi, saying he hoped all sides could make joint efforts to promote Iraq's reconciliation process. "VIOLENCE AGAINST VIOLENCE" CANNOT SOLVE THE PALESTINE-ISRAEL ISSUE - With regard to the escalating situation in the Middle East, Xi said China is concerned about the region, where conflicts between different ethnic groups, religions and religious sects have reemerged, and the Palestine-Israel, Syria and Iraq issues have intertwined and affected one another. The president said "violence against violence" cannot solve the Palestine-Israel issue. China will also continue to support the conciliation efforts by the UN and Ban to promote all parties in Syria to find a "middle way." Xi and Ban also discussed the situation in northeast Asia. Xi said he hopes countries in the region can make concerted efforts to promote regional peace, stability and prosperity. ^ top ^

7,000 troops take part in SCO exercise (China Daily)
2014-08-19
The arrival of a Tupelov Tu-134 aircraft carrying 39 military officers from Kazakhstan on Sunday brought to more than 7,000 the number of troops from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization gathered for the "Peace Mission-2014" joint anti-terrorist military exercise in Zhurihe, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. "Peace Mission-2014", the fifth such exercise under the SCO framework, began on Sunday and will end on Friday. This year's drill involves 2,200 foreign personnel including infantry, aviation and airborne troops and special forces, as well as weaponry such as fighters, transports, helicopters and tanks transported here from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. A Russian general said the anti-terrorism drill is very important for global cooperation, and he hopes China, Russia and the other countries in the SCO can work together to sharpen their anti-terrorism capabilities. The SCO, which includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, was founded in Shanghai in 2001, with Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers, and Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka as dialogue partners. ^ top ^

Xi urges Uzbek investment boost (China Daily)
2014-08-20
Top leaders from China and Uzbekistan mapped out the future of the countries' relationship on Tuesday by signing a joint declaration, ratifying a five-year plan and witnessing the sealing of seven agreements. The agreements covered various areas including economic and technical cooperation, energy and financing. The bilateral relationship is the best in its history and the newly inked documents will "lay a foundation" for the sides to deepen cooperation, President Xi Jinping told Uzbek President Islam Karimov in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Xi called for both sides to boost trade and investment, saying that China encourages its enterprises to increase investment and participate in industrial park construction in Uzbekistan. The countries should work together for the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt, and strengthen cooperation in energy, financing, agriculture and transportation, Xi said. The president highlighted the construction of Line D of the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline and the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway project. A gas pipeline has already linked the countries. Calling China a "most reliable partner", Karimov said Uzbekistan would learn from China's successful experience in development. The Uzbek side welcomes Chinese investment and would like to participate in Beijing's proposals for the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, he said. Karimov received a red-carpet reception before his second meeting with Xi this year. He attended the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia in Shanghai in May. Xi also visited Uzbekistan in September in his first state trip to Central Asia since taking office in 2013. Cheng Guoping, vice-minister of the Foreign Ministry, called the latest visit "a successful one" on Tuesday, saying a sound relationship between China and Uzbekistan is helpful to peace and stability in Central Asia. Karimov is scheduled to meet Premier Li Keqiang and visit Xi'an, Shaanxi province, on Wednesday, Cheng said. China is Uzbekistan's second-largest trading partner and its biggest investing country. Two-way trade volume reached $2.88 billion in 2012, a year-on-year surge of 32.8 percent. Observers said the two economies are highly complementary. Uzbekistan boasts rich oil, gas and mineral resources, while China has a technological edge in energy, transportation, telecommunication, agriculture, mechanical equipment, light industry and household appliances. Cooperation in non-energy sectors has also improved recently. The Pengsheng industrial park in Uzbekistan, the biggest non-energy cooperation project between the countries, received investments of more than $43 million by September. The leaders also pledged on Tuesday to strengthen cooperation in fighting terrorism and extremism. China has been hit by a slew of terrorism attacks this year. ^ top ^

S.Korea, China upgrade partnership on trade, finance, culture: think tank (Xinhua)
2014-08-21
South Korea and China have upgraded the bilateral partnership since the two nations set up diplomatic relations in 1992, especially on areas of trade, finance and culture, a South Korean think tank said Thursday. After Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Seoul in July, the neighbors strengthened their strategic cooperative partnership, upgrading the quality of bilateral economic cooperation and widening communication channels both politically and diplomatically, the Hyundai Research Institute (HRI) said in a report. The report said Xi's visit to South Korea drove Seoul and Beijing to enter a new era of "politically warmer and economically hotter," noting that it would be meaningful as this year marks the 22nd anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties on Aug. 24, 1992. Since that day, trade between South Korea and China surged some 36-fold from 6.4 billion US dollars in 1992 to 228.9 billion dollars in 2013, equaling to an annual average increase of 19 percent. China has become South Korea's largest trade partner since 2004, and in 2013, South Korea was China's fourth-largest partner for trade. The bilateral trade has been qualitatively upgraded as main trade items changed from low value-added products such as textiles and cement to high-end goods, including semiconductors, synthetic resins and oil products. Financial and monetary cooperation has been strengthened. Central banks of the two countries signed a currency swap deal worth 180 billion yuan (about 29 billion US dollars) in December 2008, before expanding the contract to 360 billion yuan in October 2011. Also, the countries agreed to open a market to trade their currencies directly in Seoul as early as within this year. Cultural exchanges continued to widen. Personnel exchange between the two countries expanded more than 87-fold since the diplomatic normalization, from 90,000 in 1992 to 7.89 million in 2013. A total of 3.97 million South Koreans visited China last year, and 433 million Chinese toured South Korea. South Korea's exports of cultural contents, including K-Pop or soap opera, to China rose from 581 million dollars in 2009 to 1.29 billion dollars in 2012, equivalent to an annual average expansion of 28.4 percent. The portion of content exports to China accounted for 27.6 percent of the total in 2012, up from 24.5 percent in 2010. ^ top ^

Over 50 Chinese arrested in the Philippines for working illegaly (SCMP)
2014-08-21
More than 50 people from the mainland are to be charged with working illegally in the Philippines after they were arrested in a series of raids. A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Immigration, Elaine Tan, said that the suspects had been working on tourist visas. The mainlanders were arrested on Tuesday in three separate raids conducted by the bureau in and around the capital, Manila. Twenty-nine Chinese nationals had been working at a retail business in the capital. The rest were employed as construction workers in neighbouring Quezon City and Malabon City. Tan denied that the arrests were connected to increased tensions between the Philippines and the mainland over rival territorial claims in the South China Sea. She said the investigations were part of the regular work of the bureau. "It has no connection to the tensions with China. This is just coincidental," she said. "We are in touch with the consul as to the documents of their nationals. If a foreign national fails to present any document to support his employment, he will be issued the necessary charge sheet and will eventually be deported." The process could take at least a month, she said. Tan said the bureau had acted on a tip-off, but declined to give any details. The Chinese embassy in Manila yesterday said in a statement that it had sent its counsel to visit the detained Chinese nationals and had demanded that they be treated fairly by Filipino authorities. The largest labour group in the Southeast Asian nation, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, asked the government last week to investigate the rising number of illegal workers from overseas in the country. The labour group said that two weeks ago the immigration bureau had arrested 50 mainlanders, and an Australian and a British national working without employment permits at a power plant construction site in Davao City. Chinese without work permits are not allowed to work in the Philippines. The Chinese-language newspaper World Times said some had been detained for overstaying their visa and running retailing businesses. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Xi Jinping's appearance on CCTV marks end to party conclave (SCMP)
2014-08-16
A public appearance by Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping yesterday signalled the end of the annual direction-setting gathering of party elites and elders at the seaside resort of Beidaihe in Hebei. The Beidaihe meeting has long been the backdrop for informal closed-door talks among the country's leaders and elders to determine the course for major domestic issues. Footage on China Central Television's prime time news programme Xinwen Lianbo showed a smiling Xi touring the training venue of the Chinese delegation to the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, Jiangsu. Xi is expected to attend the Games' opening ceremony tonight. Xi urged the young athletes to promote understanding and communication with their counterparts from around the world and to encourage other young people in China to take up sport. "Strong youth lead to a strong county. Strength lies not only in virtue, academic results and the capacity to improve but also in a healthy body and sportsmanship," Xi said. Vice-Premier and Politburo member Liu Yandong, who is in charge of sport, accompanied Xi yesterday. Xi's last known public appearance was on July 31, when he visited a military command in Fujian ahead of the anniversary of the establishment of the People's Liberation Army. The other members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the party's elite inner circle, have also stayed out the limelight since the PLA anniversary on August 1. Premier Li Keqiang was one exception when he briefly visited Ludian county in Yunnan after an earthquake rocked the area, killing at least 617 people. Propaganda chief Liu Yunshan, also met scientists, engineers and other top thinkers on behalf of Xi in Beidaihe on Wednesday last week. The Beidaihe attendees are believed to have debated domestic issues ahead the annual plenary session of the party's 205-member decision-making Central Committee in October, which will address laws to modernise the government. The case of Zhou Yongkang is also thought to have been on the agenda after last month's announcement of the official investigation into the former security chief for "serious disciplinary violations" - a euphemism for corruption. Zhou, 71, who retired from the Politburo Standing Committee in 2012, is the most senior Chinese official to have been brought down by corruption in decades. ^ top ^

Tanks need more power, experts say (China Daily)
2014-08-18
China's tanks have advanced weapons, armor and automation systems, but their engines need to be improved, according to military officers and experts. "The Type-96A main battle tank is the backbone of the armored units in the People's Liberation Army's ground force," said Senior Colonel Li Shengli, head of the training department at the PLA Academy of Armored Forces Engineering. "Its weapons, fire control and sight devices and computer and automation systems can compete with any other tank of its kind used by foreign militaries." Colonel Yu Kuilong, a researcher at the academy who specializes in vehicle engineering, said the PLA ground force has continually upgraded its armaments over recent years and its tanks are much better than before. "Now our tanks have supreme performance in terms of maneuverability, firepower and control," he said. The adoption of cutting-edge ergonomic technologies has substantially reduced the number of complaints about discomfort from soldiers. "Though the engines of our tanks still need to be improved, their real combat capability must be tested by actual operations rather than a single competition," added Yu, referring to the second Tank Biathlon world championships in Alabino, Russia, that ended on Saturday. The Chinese team won the bronze medal in the team event, behind first-place Russia and runner-up Armenia. Twelve nations took part in the competition, including Belarus, Venezuela and India. The PLA sent four Type-96As, while other contestants used the Russian-made T-72 series tank. The Type-96A is a third-generation main battle tank developed by China North Industries Group Corp based on its Type 88C design. It entered service in 1997, and more than 2,500 are estimated to be in service with the PLA. Unlike predecessors such as the Type-85 and Type-88, the Type-96A features advanced imaging and jamming instruments, a more-powerful engine, improved electronics, add-on armor modules and explosive reactive armor. Lieutenant Hou Peng, who took part in the biathlon, said the Type-96A performed well in shooting contests, hitting every target. "However, the tanks used by the Russian team have a 1,130-horsepower engine that is 300 horsepower more powerful than ours, so their tanks run faster," he told China Central Television. Chinese engineers are well-aware that the engine's relative lack of power poses a severe problem for the PLA's tank regiments, according to Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Command, who oversaw the development of the Type-96A. "The power of the Type-96A's engine is constrained by a host of factors such as its materials, structure and several key parts," he told Global Times. "However, considering the costs of an upgrade and the fact that it is designed to be deployed in China's central and southern regions, its current speed is fast enough." Qin Zhen, executive editor of Ordnance Knowledge magazine, said, "In a real battle, what truly matters is a tank's protective armor, use of information, survivability and ability to detect enemies and move faster than them." Wang added, "The public should be confident in China's tanks." ^ top ^

Xi Jinping calls for new style of media organisation (SCMP)
2014-08-19
President Xi Jinping called for the country to build a homegrown new media industry yesterday as he chaired the powerful central leading group for deepening reform. The meeting came after the conclusion of the annual informal closed-door talks among Communist Party leaders at the seaside resort of Beidaihe in Hebei, and ahead of a series of key events including the 110th birthday anniversary of late leader Deng Xiaoping and the party's fourth plenary session in October. Xinhua reported that various other reform initiatives were discussed at yesterday's meeting, including regulating the pay of top executives at state-owned enterprises. Xi also chaired a meeting of the leading group for financial and economic affairs yesterday, at which he called for a faster adjustment of the economic development pattern. A report on promoting the integration of traditional and new media was approved at the reform group meeting, calling for measures to be taken to develop new media organisations that are "diversified", "advanced", and "competitive", Xinhua reported. "Several new media groups that have strength, communication capacity, credibility and are influential should be established," Xi was quoted as saying. Authorities have to "properly integrate and manage traditional and new media, ensuring the integration is heading in the right direction," Xi said. New media is hugely popular in China. Nearly 400 million monthly active users were reported in the first quarter for the instant messaging platform WeChat, where more than 5.8 million content providers are disseminating information on its public accounts. Many journalists also use the platform. The Shanghai United Media Group, which publishes the Dongfang Daily, last month launched The Paper, which is available online and through a mobile phone app and WeChat. Hu Yong, a journalism professor at Peking University, expected the central government would give political and financial support for more new media platforms as the impact of traditional media dwindled. Qiao Mu, an associate professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said the impact of new media would be limited because authorities were tightening their grip over all platforms. Earlier this month, the State Internet Information Office said only news agencies and news websites were authorised to publish original news content on instant messaging platforms. "The authorities still want to maintain tight control over ideology. The promotion of new media will not lead to any real change in the nature of the media industry," Qiao said. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping is awakening China (Xinhua)
2014-08-19
The well-known New York-based Chinese-language news website dwnews.com recently carried an article titled "Xi Jinping is awakening China". The following is an excerpt: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a movie based on the 1995 autobiography of the revered late South African president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, was screened in the Chinese mainland in July. Nelson Mandela was one of the few political leaders who gained universal recognition and the respect of people from different factions in Africa and around the world. At present, China, to which Mandela had special connections, is on the road to national rejuvenation, following its more than 30 years of skyrocketing economic growth. But it is also facing the challenge of the US' rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific, which is widely seen as being aimed at containing China. At this critical moment of great changes and transitions, China is in dire need of a political leader who has the courage, sense of mission and wisdom to lead the country to its reawakening. After showing his resolve with a sweeping and unprecedented anti-graft campaign, which netted Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee, the spotlight of global attention is now on President Xi Jinping. A year ago, many in China didn't believe that the CPC would investigate such a high-ranking former top official as Zhou, nor did observers in other countries imagine that Xi, who just came to power, had the capability and courage to cage such big "tigers" as Zhou and Xu Caihou, the former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission. The outside world has mostly been impressed by the ruthlessness of the CPC's anti-corruption campaign. Yet, many people close to the CPC ruling circle said that the fight against corruption is just part of the political objectives of the central leadership led by Xi. Behind the anti-graft campaign is a grand blueprint, which analysts have labeled "The Second Reforms". The new concept contains a lot more than the word "reforms" can convey and has gone farther and wider than the outside world would imagine. Xi aims to break the entrenched bureaucracy and vested interests of officialdom formed during the fast economic expansion and initiate a brand-new model of governance for a modernized country. What is even more noteworthy is that Xi is quietly leading a revolution that is transforming the CPC's theory of governance and the legal framework for governance. It has yet to be seen how Xi is going to implement it, but one thing is for sure, he highly cherishes the breadth and depth of traditional Chinese culture. As for economic development, the "new economic normal" idea, which runs counter to the reckless development of the past 30-plus years, has appeared and is starting to take root. What is more, reform of the People's Liberation Army has been initiated and rebuilding the soul of military has become a top priority. Therefore one can conclude that all of Xi's ideas and actions on cultural, military, political and economical reforms are meant to push China further along the road to rejuvenation (...). ^ top ^

Nearly 1,000 sect members arrested in crackdown (SCMP)
2014-08-20
Chinese authorities have arrested nearly 1,000 members of a Christian sect since June after its members were accused of murdering a woman at a McDonald's restaurant the previous month, according to state media. The suspects are members of The Church of Almighty God, a Christian group that has attracted followers in some rural areas for more than a decade. The arrested included "high-level organisers and backbone members" of the group, Xinhua said, citing officials. It did not give details of what crimes the suspects, said to come from more than six provinces, are accused of. Beijing has for years struggled to suppress the group, with state media reporting the arrest of nearly 1,000 followers in 2012 when the organisation was under the spotlight for predicting an apocalypse. The group told members at the time that a "female Jesus" had arrived and called on members to overthrow the Communist Party, which it refers to as "the big red dragon", the state-run Global Times reported. State media reports said the group brainwashed its members and encouraged them to isolate themselves from family and friends. This year's crackdown follows the murder in May of a woman at a McDonald's in Shandong province. She was attacked because she refused to give sect members her telephone number. Five people would go on trial tomorrow in connection with the murder, Xinhua said. The movement's founder has reportedly fled to the United States. The central government tightly controls the exercise of religion, permitting worship at government-controlled Buddhist, Daoist, Muslim, Protestant and Catholic religious centres, but banning other religious organisations. Beijing often proclaims that it grants citizens wide-ranging religious freedoms. The authorities have previously cracked down harshly on groups it labels as "cults", most notably the Falun Gong spiritual movement. ^ top ^

China spends more on social security (Xinhua)
2014-08-21
China's government spending on social security and employment rose 12.6 percent in the January-July period from a year earlier, Ministry of Finance (MOF) data showed on Wednesday. During the seven months, total social safety-net and employment spending stood at 965.36 billion yuan ($156.77 billion), accounting for about 60 percent of the budgeted 1.59 trillion yuan for the whole year. As much as 914.69 billion yuan of the total spending was by local governments, up 12.7 percent year on year, while the spending by the central government increased 10.4 percent to 50.67 billion yuan. This is the first time the ministry has released monthly figures on social security spending, in addition to data on a yearly basis. Bai Jingming, a researcher with the MOF, said the budget for social security and employment, which accounted for 10 percent of this year's total public finance budget, is the second-largest expenditure for state and local governments only after the spending on education. The release of more detailed spending information to the public will help make sure that no expenditure is missed, Bai said. According to the MOF, the largest portion of social security spending in January-July went into social insurance fund subsidies, which rose 17.4 percent from a year ago to 357.02 billion yuan, as the country raised basic insurance for retirees in 2014. During the period, 8.01 billion yuan was spent by central and local governments on disaster relief, up 10.1 percent year on year. ^ top ^

Deng's legacy of 'strategic thinking' critical for current China (Xinhua)
2014-08-21
At the seminar marking late leader Deng Xiaoping's 110th birthday on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping summarized six aspects of Deng's political legacy, one of which is Deng's strategic thinking. It is the first time the Chinese leadership mentioned strategic thinking as one of Deng's political legacies. It is not only about the wording, but closely relates to the current situation in which China needs to address various issues by embracing Deng's approach. Deng and his comrades saved China at a critical time in the country's history, not by small repairs, but with systematic methods and visionary designs. Deng's reform concerned almost all aspects of the country, from science and technology to ideologies, from industrial powerhouses to the most rural areas. Deng took all aspects into the greater picture, and made breakthroughs on easier issues at the beginning. With comprehensive and strategic thinking, he led the country on its way to prosperity. In the new century, the country has always vowed reform, but in many aspects, reforms have yet to reach people's expectations. In health, education, income distribution and many other fields, people are still making complaints. China began a new round of reforms after the transition of Communist Party and state leadership in late 2012 and early 2013. A package of reform policies have also been announced and some have been implemented. Like Deng's approach, the current reforms are not simple repairs of current policies. In a key decision made at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in November last year, a total of 60 missions were clearly laid out. Simple and separate reforms cannot succeed as almost all state issues are interconnected. At the plenum, the central leadership vowed to strengthen independence of local governments from China's judicial system. Reform of the administrative system will cut governments' power, empowering the market instead. In addition, many changes will be directed toward State-owned Enterprises. All the reforms involve various departments, levels of governments and interests groups, which require the central authorities to view them in the bigger picture and the political courage to implement. In this sense, Xi's mentioning of strategic thinking has its practical significance. Xi has in several occasions stressed the importance of top-level design, which was in essence follows Deng's forward-looking strategic thinking. Reform is never an easy task, especially in a country as big and complicated as China. Reviewing Deng's legacy gives the current Chinese leadership a wise methodology and experience to carry on reform tasks. Although the situations are different, the essence of Deng's statesmanship will always serve as a lighthouse for which progress can follow. ^ top ^

China's second test of hypersonic glider fails (SCMP)
2014-08-22
The People's Liberation Army has carried out a second, albeit unsuccessful test of a hypersonic vehicle, two sources close to the military said, as China attempts to find a way to deliver nuclear weapons at immense speed to evade defence systems. The test was carried out on August 7 at a missile and satellite launching centre in Shanxi province, about 300km from its capital Taiyuan, said the sources, who asked not be named. It was the second time the system had failed, the two sources said. The vehicle broke up soon after it was launched. It is designed to be carried by a ballistic missile to an undisclosed suborbital altitude, then released. The vehicle then dives towards its target at speeds of up to Mach 10, more than 12,000km/h. The United States is the only other nation known to have developed similar technology. China first tested the technology successfully in January. Russia and India are also known to be developing similar vehicles. The defence ministry in Beijing did not respond to requests for comment. Wang Xudong, a satellite adviser to the central government, said the system was needed for the nation's defence. "It's a necessary for China to boost its missile capability because the PLA's weapons are weaker than the US' shields, which are deployed everywhere in the world," Wang said. The Pentagon has dubbed the Chinese vehicle WU-14. Media reports in the US in June said Washington was funding the further development of a hypersonic missile programme amid concerns over China's research. A US-based news website, the Washington Free Beacon, reported on this month's test on Tuesday, quoting unnamed American government officials. Satellite expert Wang said China had a military disadvantage to the US because current technology meant Chinese missiles had to be fired from the mainland itself and could easily be intercepted. "The US has sophisticated intelligence to routinely monitor the PLA's military development, but China doesn't have any overseas military bases," Wang said. "All missiles launched by the PLA, if there was a military conflict, would be intercepted by the US' defence systems before entering the atmosphere." Professor Arthur Ding Shu-fan, the secretary general of the Taipei-based Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies, said if Beijing successfully developed the vehicle, existing US missile defence systems might be rendered obsolete. "The WU-14 will become China's global strike weapon that would cause a great threat and challenges to the US." A hypersonic expert told the South China Morning Post in January that China had more than 100 teams from leading research institutes and universities involved in the project. "Developing [the vehicle] could definitely help China enhance its military deterrence, but Beijing will also stick to a no-first use nuclear doctrine," Beijing-based military expert Li Jie said. Military spending topped US$145 billion in China last year, prompting fear and unease among many of its neighbours. ^ top ^

SOE chiefs could be next target of anti-graft campaign (SCMP)
2014-08-22
State media have started to roll out articles lambasting the luxurious lives of senior executives at state-owned enterprises (SOEs) - a clear indication, observers say, that President Xi Jinping not only plans to cut their perks, but will make them the next target of his anti-graft campaign. In an article yesterday, Xinhua gave a list of SOE executives and their perks, including extravagant meals, fancy cars and games of golf. Xi had vowed at a meeting on Monday to eliminate these kind of expenses attached to senior positions at SOEs and to cut salaries. The article said: "Some executives have enjoyed privileges ranging from clothing, meals, homes and travel to recreational activities in the name of job-related expenses." Zhu Lijia, a professor of public policy at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said SOE executives were generally paid more than government officials. "They are both public servants. Why should one get much higher pay?" he said. "Taking advantage of public resources is also corruption." China News Service reported yesterday that provincial governments had recently rolled out their own reform plans for SOEs, including specific benchmarks to keep executives' salaries "reasonable". It noted that public discontent over high salaries at SOEs was mounting, and was directed at the monopolised sectors in particular, where high pay levels were deemed particularly unjustified. Andy Yao Shaohua, senior economist at Hang Seng Bank, said reform in this area was related to the continuing campaign against corruption. "The major issue is that many officials have spent too much public money in the name of work. Banquets and travelling out of the companies' purses should be strictly limited," he said. According to Xinhua, the approximate 250 A-share companies linked to the government spent a combined total of 6.5 billion yuan (HK$8.2 billion) on receptions in 2012. And in Shandong province, nearly half of business expenditure by all 32 of the SOE chiefs under the provincial government was spent on vehicles. A commentary in yesterday's People's Daily by Jin Bei, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, argued that unlike regular companies, where the goal is to maximise profits, SOEs are set up to operate in the public interest, and executives' salaries should be in line with that. ^ top ^

German citizen sentenced to death for double killing despite Berlin protests (Global Times)
2014-08-22
A local court in Xiamen, Fujian Province on Wednesday sentenced a German citizen to death for a double homicide, which is the first time that the People's Republic of China has imposed a death penalty on a German citizen. "The execution will not be carried out soon. The verdict will be submitted to the Supreme People's Court for approval," a source from the Xiamen Intermediate People's Court told the Global Times on condition of anonymity. The German foreign office on Thursday told the Global Times via telephone that the German government strongly opposes all form of capital punishment, and that it will try everything in its power to ensure that the death sentence will not be carried out. The 36-year-old German man is reportedly from Teisendorf, the southern German state of Bavaria. He killed his ex-girlfriend from Venezuela and her new German boyfriend with a hammer and a knife on a street in Xiamen in June 2010, according to German weekly Focus Online. Chen Liqun, the defendant's lawyer, said in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur that his client has not decided whether to file an appeal or not. "China will not accept any judicial interference from other countries," Mo Shaoping, a renowned criminal defense lawyer and a professor with the Central University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times on Thursday. He added that German government's opposition to the death penalty will not affect any judicial decision in China, unless the criminal enjoys diplomatic immunity. To date, around 140 countries have abolished the capital punishment. Only 58, including China, Japan, Singapore and the US, retain it. The German is not the first foreign national in China to be sentenced to death. In 2009, a Pakistan-born man with a UK passport was sentenced to death for drug smuggling. In 2011, three Filipinos were also executed for drug trafficking. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Vibrant capital boosts science popularization for young, old (China Daily)
2014-08-20
Beijing's determination to innovate is helping to transform it into a major high-tech center. The capital offers a range of opportunities designed to unleash the creative genius of technology specialists and enable it to achieve its full potential. China Daily takes an in-depth look. In August 1952, an astronomy exhibition in Beijing introduced China's ancient astronomy achievements and modern knowledge to the capital's residents. "Long live Chinese astronomy," Joseph Needham, the British scientist and historian, wrote in his congratulations to the event - the first recorded science popularization event in Beijing after the founding of the People's Republic of China. Needham traveled across China from 1942 to 1946 to research science history. After returning to Europe, he finished the influential paper Science and Civilization in China. Amazed by China's ancient scientific findings and great inventions, he raised "Needham's grand question", which is: Why was China overtaken by the West in science and technology despite China's earlier successes? Sixty years later, Needham's question seems to belong only in the past, as Beijing has become an international scientific research technology innovation hub. President Xi Jinping called for science popularization to be made as big a priority as innovation two years ago, when he attended a session in Beijing on National Science Popularization Day. Beijing - with a population of 20 million and the home of China's leading universities and science institutes - is becoming a vibrant center of science popularization in China. To more and more Beijingers, young and old, science and technology have become a part of their lives. Last Saturday, a free public astronomy seminar about the power of dark matter in the universe attracted many young people to Beijing Planetarium. The program is one of dozens of the planetarium, which was founded in 1957. In September, Beijing Science and Technology Festival, an annual science event organized by the Beijing Association for Science and Technology, will again gather national and international science lovers. Last year, a weeklong festival in Beijing's Olympic Park attracted science educators from 14 countries who brought with them about 300 science projects to interact with local science enthusiasts, both parents and children. Science projects that included the latest in 3-D printing, cloud computing and hands-on chemical experiments were no longer strange to the 100,000-plus visitors. "We are confident of making the Beijing Science and Technology Festival one of the most successful science festivals worldwide, like the renowned Edinburgh International Science Festival," said Zhou Lijun, deputy director of the Beijing Association for Science and Technology, during last year's event. Many types of science events reach out to the public and serve in different ways to ignite the public's passion for science and innovation. A digital skills competition open to thousands of Beijing families has taken place in the city since 2004. Breaking the technology gap between generations and teaching more middle-aged and senior citizens to learn new technology such as the Internet is the clear theme of the program. Meanwhile, since 2001, the Beijing Youth Robot Competition has continued to gain participation from almost all primary and secondary schools in Beijing. Every two years, Beijing invited Nobel Prize laureates to attend forums and seminars that are open to the public. In 2013, the event had four Nobel Prize laureates, including US cosmologist George Smoot, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2006 for his work with the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite. In June, Zhou was invited to attend the annual conference of European Science Event Association in Copenhagen and made a speech titled Popularizing science to 20 million people. He said that the Chinese government will purchase more science popularization services for attracting companies and non-profitable organizations in the field. "Science popularization has no border, and we like to share and learn experiences from other countries," Zhou said. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai finds balance on public info (China Daily)
2014-08-20
Shanghai is bringing more transparency to its procuratorates via a "negative list" system, in a bid to guarantee the public's right to know and protect the interest of litigants. The list developed by the Changning district procuratorate regulates 34 categories of information that are not suitable for release, while any other information not on the list should be made public. "Development of the negative list is to protect the victim, the defendant, the witness and juveniles," said Liu Jing, deputy chief procurator of the Changning district procuratorate. Classified information regulated by the list includes trade secrets, rape cases, cases involving underage defendants, and "information that may bring pain and pressure to the litigants" if made public. According to Chen Ming, chief procurator of the Changning district procuratorate, only selected information could be made public in the past, and much of this information was passively released under pressure. The Changning procuratorate has released 500 legal documents since a trial run of the "negative list" began in May. Four documents were decided not suitable for release after reviewing the negative list, because they might have violated the privacy of the litigants. Shanghai was one of the five pilot regions selected by the Supreme Procuratorate in November to test the waters of further opening the procuratorate affairs. The Changning district procuratorate was one of the key experimental units in Shanghai. The documents can be viewed on the Changning district procuratorate website. An information release website for the Shanghai municipal procuratorate will be launched in late August, and one on the national level is expected to go online in October. "The negative list is a pioneering policy in the country, for it has brought down the high walls of China's procuratorates and removed the mystery," said Qi Yanping, dean of the school of law with Shandong University. "It has the potential to spread nationwide," Qi added. The biggest resistance to more transparent procuratorate work was from grassroots officers who used to follow a "less trouble the better" principle, because they worry any improper release of information would put them at unnecessary risk, Liu said. "The negative list has clearly drawn the red lines here and will ease the burden on these officers, and encourage them to be more open to the public," he said. "This is a small step for us, yet a giant leap for the establishment of credibility of procuratorates," he added. The negative list will be modified regularly in accordance with the latest legal developments, Liu said. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Full text of the "Lhasa Consensus" (Xinhua)
2014-08-18
Following is the full text of the Lhasa Consensus reached at the "2014 Forum on the Development of Tibet, China." The "2014 Forum on the Development of Tibet, China," jointly organized by the State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China and the People's Government of Tibet Autonomous Region, was held from August 12 to 13. Nearly 100 distinguished participants from more than 30 countries and regions attended the event. It is the first large-scale international conference themed on the development of Tibet held in Tibet Autonomous Region. Centering on the theme of "The Development of Tibet: Opportunities and Alternatives" and the sub-themes of "Sustainable Development," "Inheritance and Protection of Tibetan Culture," and "Ecological and Environmental Protection," delegates to the forum conducted intense and in-depth discussions in a friendly and candid atmosphere. The delegates reached the following consensus: 1. Participants notice that Tibet enjoys sound economic growth, social harmony, deep-rooted Tibetan culture and beautiful natural scenery, and the people enjoy a happy life. It is a place where the modern and the traditional meet and where man lives in harmony with nature. Tibet has embarked on an irreversible path of modern civilization. 2. Participants notice that ordinary people in Tibet are satisfied with their well-off lives, good education, sound medical care, housing and various social securities. All ethnic groups in Tibet have full confidence and motivation for building a better future. 3. Participants notice that Tibet's traditional culture is apparent everywhere. Fine traditional culture and cultural relics have been well preserved. This is a result of the dedication and efforts of the Chinese Central Government and the People's Government of Tibet Autonomous Region in protecting, inheriting, and advocating Tibetan culture, which should be encouraged and supported. 4. Participants notice that different religions co-exist in harmony in Tibet and the Tibetan people enjoy religious freedom. Prayer flags, pilgrims and people burning aromatic plants for religious purpose can be seen easily on the streets of Lhasa. The temples are crowded with worshippers and pilgrims. 5. Participants notice that most parts of Tibet are still in a natural state. While enjoying modern civilization, the Tibetan people are able to enjoy blue skies and white clouds, holy mountains and lakes, forests, grasslands, clean water and fresh air. 6. Participants notice that a path of sustainable development in Tibet featuring coordinated and balanced economic, social, cultural development, ecological and environmental protection will not only be beneficial to the long-term development of Tibet but also offer a significant model for other countries and regions. Participants appreciated the substantial efforts and considerable achievements of the Chinese Central Government and the People's Government of Tibet Autonomous Region in promoting economic and social development, improving people's well-being, preserving the culture and improving the ecology and environment of Tibet. 7. Participants unanimously agree that what they have actually seen in Tibet differs radically from what the 14th Dalai and the Dalai clique have said. The Dalai clique's statements on Tibet are distorted and incorrect. Many Western media reports are biased and have led to much misunderstanding. Seeing is believing. Participants express the aspiration to introduce the real Tibet to the world. 8. Participants notice that the forum, jointly held by the State Council Information Office of China and the People's Government of Tibet Autonomous Region is of great significance for bringing Tibet to the world and helping the world have a better understanding of Tibet. Participants were satisfied with the considerate arrangements for the forum and looked forward to regularly holding the forum in Tibet. ^ top ^

Five Tibetans confirmed killed after police open fire on protesters (SCMP)
2014-08-21
Five Tibetans died in China after police opened fire on unarmed protesters, a rights group said on Wednesday, the latest report of unrest linked to ethnic minority rights. Police last week opened fire on locals in Garze, a Tibetan-majority area of China's southwestern Sichuan province, rights groups and US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA) said, citing local sources. Three people aged from 18 to 60 are now confirmed dead from injuries inflicted during the shootings, British-based group Free Tibet said in a statement, without specifying how the other two are believed to have died. The US-based International Campaign for Tibet earlier said that one of the protesters had committed suicide in custody. China's ethnic minority regions in Tibet and far-western Xinjiang, home to the mainly Muslim Uygurs, have been regularly hit by unrest in recent years. Rights groups blame the clashes on cultural and religious repression – claims that the Chinese government denies. The protests in Garze were sparked by the arrest of a local leader, reports said. The International Campaign for Tibet said police had fired “anti-riot projectiles”. Free Tibet said several shooting victims were denied medical treatment. “This shooting and the subsequent treatment of detainees exposes the reality of China's so-called 'rule of law' in Tibet,” the group added. China heavily restricts local and foreign media from reporting in minority areas, making it very difficult to independently verify such reports of unrest. In recent years Tibetans have turned to self-immolation to protest against Beijing's rule. At least 120 Tibetans in China have set themselves alight since 2009, according to tallies kept by Free Tibet and RFA. Garze, known in Chinese as Ganzi prefecture, has in the past been a flashpoint for protests and was the site of a self-immolation by a nun in March, Free Tibet and RFA reported. Beijing says it has brought economic development to poverty-stricken Tibetan areas, while claiming to grant broad religious freedoms. Ganzi, also known as Garze in Tibetan, appeared to be seeing more unrest, said Barry Sautman, a social science professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who studies ethnic minorities on the mainland. However, the wave of protesters in Tibetan areas setting themselves on fire appeared to be diminishing, he said. "It probably means that Garze continues to be an area where there's the most likelihood of confrontation between the authorities and local people," Sautman said. "In the Tibet autonomous region, there's nowhere near the level of manifested discontent as there is in Garze." Rights activists say Beijing suppresses religious freedom and culture in Tibet. Beijing rejects the allegations, saying its rule ended serfdom and brought development to a backward, poverty-stricken region. More than 100 Tibetans have set themselves alight in protest against Beijing's rule since 2009, mostly in the heavily Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces. ^ top ^

Passenger limit set for tour buses in Tibet (China Daily)
2014-08-21
The local government of the Tibet autonomous region has put a cap on the number of passengers allowed on tour buses on the region's mountainous roads after two recent deadly accidents involving buses. "It's for safety," said a man who answered the phone at the Tibet Regional Tourism Bureau on Wednesday but refused to give his name. He confirmed that the new rule puts a 20-person limit - including a driver, a guide and a police officer - on any tour vehicle in Tibet. Tourism has been booming in the Himalayan region, which also is home to some treacherous roads that wind and dip amid steep mountains. A tour bus carrying about 50 people plunged into a ravine on Aug 9 after colliding with a pickup and a sport utility vehicle in southern Tibet. Forty-four people died. On Monday, a 45-person tour bus fell into a river in southeastern Tibet, killing three and leaving 13 others missing. A man at the Lhasa Youth Travel Service, who gave only his surname of Wang, said he received a notice announcing the limit on Tuesday. A woman at the Lhasa International Travel Service also confirmed the same directive, saying the recent traffic accidents prompted the size restriction on traveling groups. Li Simin, an expert on tourism, said the measures, including the addition of a police officer on board, will improve safety. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

UAVs used to locate suspects in Xinjiang anti-terrorism campaign (Global Times)
2014-08-18
Unmanned aerial vehicles have been employed to aid anti-terrorism campaigns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China Space News reported Friday. Personnel from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Cooperation (CASTC), who had been trained in operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), were sent to Xinjiang on July 31 at the request of the anti-terrorism command center in Xinjiang, after a fatal terrorist attack in Shache county on July 28, which left 37 civilians dead and 13 injured. A technical support group equipped with UAVs and spare parts arrived in Ailixihu township, Shache county, on August 3. Local special weapons and tactics (SWAT) officers were directed by the group at the scene to manipulate the UAVs to search for suspected terrorists in key regions including Ailixihu and Huangdi townships day and night. The UAVs transmitted images in real time, providing clues to hunt for the suspects. Police arrested 215, and another 18 suspects had surrendered by August 9. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps also used UAVs to locate campsites in an anti-terror drill conducted on May 4, China Central Television reported. The Public Security Department of Xinjiang cooperated with the CASTC to build up a satellite earth station equipped with a 6.2-meter-wide antenna on August 4 in a bid to facilitate smooth communications between the SWAT officers on the front line and the command center. In order to enhance the counter-terrorism investigation capabilities of the police, the Xinjiang government bought a number of unmanned aircraft systems from the center for unmanned aircraft systems research, a division of the CASTC, in 2013. The unmanned aircraft systems integrate emergency responses, command and dispatch, and air-land communication systems. UAVs were also used during the anti-terrorism drill conducted by the port inspection station of Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province, on Sunday, the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily reported. The armed police employed UAVs to patrol the grounds and respond to emergencies as they provided a bird's-eye view of the port. ^ top ^

Xinjiang officials face disciplinary violations (Global Times)
2014-08-20
The government of Kashgar in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has announced punishments toward 15 local officials for violating disciplinary regulations, including "practicing religion," media reported on Tuesday. One of the 15 officials was dismissed from his position for violating a rule that officials should not have any religious beliefs, the Xinhua News Agency reported, adding that the official had a bad attitude and caused a negative impact. The discipline of the Communist Party of China (CPC) stipulates that all Party members should be atheist. Some local government websites in Xinjiang have posted notices during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in July, calling for all CPC and League members, civil servants and students not to take part in fasting and other religious activities. Party discipline is the primary motivation for such restrictions, experts said, the Global Times reported earlier. Another one of the 15 officials was warned and removed from position for illegally appointing religious personnel, Xinhua said. Another official, one of the 15, was expelled from the local public security division for being "politically incorrect" and spreading audio and video containing ethnic discrimination content via WeChat, according to Xinhua. The official is also said to have spread harmful information and rumors damaging ethnic unity online. According to Xinhua, another local official received a warning and was removed from his position for holding an "ambiguous" attitude and inefficiently implementing counter-terrorism campaigns. Xinhua did not specify what this anonymous official had done exactly. In a previous case, a local official in Ili was put under investigation for the same reasons in May 2014. Batur Duwamet, the official, made public remarks that were inconsistent with the regional government's ethnic policies and held an ambiguous stance over terrorist attacks, according to the authorities. Enwer Tursun, deputy secretary of the Party committee of Kashgar, said on Tuesday that local officials should keep in mind that "Kashgar is the frontier and main battle field of the anti-terrorism campaign." He requested officials to stay in line with Party discipline. The city government also noted that discipline watchdogs should give harsher punishment for any violations, according to Xinhua. Other 11 Kashgar officials received punishments of warnings or removals for discipline violations like holding illegal publications and wrongly implement government policies. The punishment of the 15 officials was announced in a government meeting on Tuesday, with more than 800 local officials and heads of primary and high schools attending. Xinjiang has witnessed a number of terror attacks this year. A Xinjiang official told the Global Times previously that the irresponsible work style of a minority of local officials could be blamed for the frequent terrorist attacks. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Thousands protest HK's Occupy Central (Global Times)
2014-08-18
Tens of thousands of people Sunday turned out in Hong Kong to protest against the upcoming Occupy Central movement that threatens to shut down the city's business hub amid debates over ways to select candidates for the 2017 chief executive election. The rally, organized by the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, who claimed to have mustered 193,000 participants, marked the climax of the anti-Occupy Central movement following the alliance's month-long petition. The alliance said the petition gathered close to 1.5 million signatures in opposition to the Occupy movement deemed by many as harmful to Hong Kong's social stability and economic development. "It has been a successful and peaceful rally that has reflected Hong Kong people's stance against the Occupy Central movement and desire for a peaceful election in 2017," alliance spokesperson Robert Chow Yung told the Global Times on Sunday night. The city government Sunday said it welcomes and supports all activities which take forward the implementation of universal suffrage for the chief executive election in 2017 in accordance with the law and opposes all unlawful acts that affect social order and the betterment of people. The Occupy Central movement, initiated by scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting, threatens to paralyze Hong Kong's financial district with a mass sit-in to bargain for their demand that candidates of the 2017 Hong Kong leader election be selected through public nomination. Noting that a shortlist for candidates should be approved by a nominating committee, Hong Kong and Beijing officials repeatedly said that civic nomination is not in accordance with the Basic Law. The Occupy movement organizers in June organized an unofficial "referendum" and claimed to have collected around 800,000 ballots, followed by the July 1 pro-Occupy Central march which the Civil Human Rights Front claimed to have gathered 500,000 supporters. The pro-democracy camp may begin occupying Central in September as Alex Chow Yong-kang, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, warned of strikes at schools and universities if public nomination of candidates is ruled out in the reform framework to be released by the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee at the end of August, reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP). Concern quickly arose among the Hong Kong public and government officials that the campaign may turn into violence that could hurt Hong Kong's economy and halt the city's democracy progress. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Friday signed the petition to endorse the anti-Occupy movement, stressing his hope that the universal suffrage could take place as scheduled in 2017, and that all illegal actions against the Basic Law should be forbidden, Hong Kong-based The Standard reported. Beijing's top representative in the city, Zhang Xiaoming, also expressed his support by citing the petition as "doing Hong Kong a great favor" and "reflecting genuine and strong public opinion." "We want universal suffrage to be held peacefully … We oppose the Occupy Central movement and we don't want violence," said a protester at the anti-Occupy Central march, reported Hong Kong Cable Television. Another protester at the Sunday rally, which lasted around four hours, said he agrees with the demands raised by the Occupy Central, but fears that the protest may turn into turmoil. "The silent majority of the public has taken to the streets and voiced their opinions," said Gu Minkang, an associate dean of the School of Law at the City University of Hong Kong, also a participant at the rally. "The strong turnout represents the Hong Kong people's desire for the 2017 election to be held smoothly and we don't want violence to happen in the Occupy Central movement that could affect Hong Kong's economy," noted Gu. Gu expects the city's legislators will take the rally turnout into consideration when they are to vote for the reform package which needs a two-thirds majority in the legislature to pass. The Sunday protest was also joined by government adviser Cheung Chi-kong, legislator and Hong Kong's former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Chan Wing-kee, a business tycoon and member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The march remained largely peaceful, except for a counter-protest by about a dozen people including members of People Power, a radical political party in Hong Kong, which saw the two sides shouting and swearing at each other. Zhang, head of the central government's liaison office to the city, met Democratic Party lawmakers on Friday, and will continue to meet with other pan-democrat lawmakers at separate group meetings to discuss political reform. He is expected to join Li Fei, who chairs the NPC's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Basic Law Committee, for a meeting in Shenzhen on Thursday in which all 70 Hong Kong lawmakers are invited, reported the SCMP. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macao's Chui unveils political platform for chief executive election (Xinhua)
2014-08-17
As the solo candidate of the election for China's Macao Special Administrative Region's fourth- term Chief Executive (CE), Chui Sai On presented his election program here on Saturday, pledging to steadily conduct the principle of One Country, Two Systems, while contributing to Macao 's long-term prosperity and stability. The Political Platform Presentation and the Question and Answer Session of the Fourth-term Chief Executive Election took place at the Macao East Asian Games Dome on Saturday, hosted by Song Man Lei, president of the Electoral Affairs Committee for the Election of the Chief Executive. Chui, the incumbent CE, presented his policy outline to the 265 members of the election committee. Chui said his election program was based on the total implementation of the Basic Law of the Macao SAR of the People's Republic of China and the One Country, Two Systems principle. If he wins the election, Chui said, the government will give priority to improving the people's livelihood under scientific decision-making. Chui also said the development of Macao SAR is at the critical moment facing both opportunities and challenges. The region benefits from fresh opportunities inspired by China' s comprehensively deepening reform, said the CE, adding that, however, the shortage of land and human resources create inharmony. According to the Basic Law of the Macao SAR, the chief executive shall be elected by a broadly representative Election Committee in accordance with the law and appointed by China's central government. The election for the region's fourth-term chief executive will be launched on Aug 31. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Let Taiwanese first share the mainland's development: official (Xinhua)
2014-08-19
Senior Chinese official Yu Zhengsheng on Monday said the mainland is willing to let Taiwan compatriots be the first to share the opportunities of its development. Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks while meeting a business delegation from the Taiwan's Federation of Industries. Yu said the economic cooperation between the two sides has tied their interests together and is an important force in peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. The mainland has always been creating active conditions for cooperation among companies of both sides, and will not change the cooperation policy, Yu said. He praised the federation's efforts in advancing economic cooperation and improving peaceful relations between the two sides. ^ top ^

Taiwan reshuffles its mainland affairs authority (Xinhua)
2014-08-20
Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou's office released an official document on Tuesday allowing the resignation of Chang Hsien-yao, deputy chief of the island's Mainland Affairs Council. Lin Chu-chia was named to replace Chang, and Shih Fui-fen appointed as a deputy chief of the council, according to the document. On Aug 16, Taiwan's administrative authorities said Chang offered to resign and his resignation was accepted. However, Chang later claimed that he "was told to resign on Aug. 14". ^ top ^

 

Economy

Financial, technology sectors push mainland stock markets higher (Global Times)
2014-08-17
Stock markets in the Chinese mainland edged higher on Friday, backed by gains in financial and tech stocks. The Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.92 percent or 20.27 points to 2,226.73 points on Friday, up 1.46 percent from the previous Friday, August 8. The Shenzhen Component Index nudged up by 1.12 percent or 88.18 points to 7,982.07 points, with a weekly gain of 1.23 percent. Combined turnover on the two bourses on Friday was 287.90 billion yuan ($46.83 billion), down from Thursday's 307.57 billion yuan. The Chinese markets experienced fluctuations last week as investors digested mixed economic data. The markets began last week strongly following upbeat export data but were hit by downbeat new loan figures on Wednesday, and continued the losses on Thursday. But the markets later recovered to close the week with a fifth consecutive week of winning streak. On Friday, financial stocks outperformed, with brokerages and insurers leading the gain. Tech and auto companies also rose on Friday. China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co jumped by 4.11 percent to 20.50 yuan and Guoyuan Securities Company soared by the daily limit of 10 percent to 13.74 yuan on Friday. Tech stocks rallied on Friday, with companies linked to mobile games, touch screen and software gaining strongly. Beijing Bewinner Communications Co, Success Electronics and China National Software & Service Co all soared by the daily maximum of 10 percent on Friday. ChiNext, China's NASDAQ-style board for high-tech and start-ups listed in Shenzhen, inched up on Friday, reversing a losing streak for three straight days. The index gained by 0.88 percent or 12.15 points to 1,392.45 points, with a weekly gain of 1.09 percent. ^ top ^

Brainstorming with Branson (China Daily)
2014-08-18
An influential group of business leaders from China say they are planning to set up a college in the country to cultivate talent able to better tackle future public initiatives and charitable activities. Ma Weihua, the executive chairman of the China Entrepreneur Club, says that China now lacks enough talented people to work in the field, compared to many of other major nations. He says that in the United States, for instance, 292 universities already have public initiatives or charity majors. But in China, only one tertiary institution, Beijing Normal University, offers a similar course and a few minor programs. Ma is just back from what he calls an "enlightening" trip, along with other members of the CEC, to the British Virgin Island where they were hosted by Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, the British travel, music, entertainment and financial services conglomerate. Branson, one of the world's leading philanthropists and recently listed as the world's 302nd richest person by Forbes magazine, met CEC members in London last year, and was interested enough in their work to invite them back to meet him for more formal discussions. He chose to host the event on his idyllic 30-acre Necker Island in the Caribbean, Aug 2-6. Ma, also a former president of China Merchants Bank, says the event provided him and the group with insights into how they could better use China's wealth and business strength, to do good. Eight leading CEC members, from a range of companies, made the trip, including Wang Weibin, the chairman of Suntrans Holdings; Ai Xin, chairman of Suntone Group; and Xia Hua, chairwoman of Eve Group. Ma says the five days of meetings focused on being responsible in business and using innovative business models to improve society. Branson has played a visible role in areas such as alternative fuels and other green initiatives and peace efforts. Ma says that he and his fellow-guests found lots of common ground with Branson, as they discussed the importance of running public initiatives and charities like businesses, to make them more sustainable. Branson told his guests that he knew there were issues on which they could collaborate with Chinese entrepreneurs, and that he wanted China's entrepreneurs to make a greater effort to be involved with him and others from the West. He added that his group can help China as it deals with many of its most-pressing social issues, such as protecting the environment, public initiatives and charities. He and senior members of his staff shared ideas about their own public initiatives and charities. Branson noted that campaigns in China to reduce consumption of shark fins, for instance, showed the potential for environmental and other such initiatives. ^ top ^

China unveils policies to revitalize northeast (Xinhua)
2014-08-19
The Chinese central government announced an action plan to assist the northeast region's staggering economy with a list of new measures. The plan aims to free up private businesses, deepen reforms of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), develop modern agriculture, renovate urban rundown areas and launch dozens of infrastructure projects in the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, according to the new measures announced Tuesday. The 35 new measures, listed in a document by the State Council on its website, came as the northeastern regions saw the slowest economic growth among China's provincial areas during the first half of this year. China will speed up the construction of eight rail lines and build or expand 10 regional airports in the region, the document said. SOEs are encouraged to sell part of their equities to private and foreign investors to build a mixed ownership system and pay for the reforms. A new state-owned regional investment company will be established to hasten the reorganization of poorly run SOEs in the region, the document said. The central government will fund the building of affordable housing and grain logistics facilities, included in a 60-billion-yuan (9.7 billion U.S. dollars) new credit reserve for shanty town renovation by the China Development Bank. Once China's industrial base, the northeast provinces relied heavily on SOEs to drive local economy but they fell short of the national economic growth of 7.4 percent in the first half of the year, with Heilongjiang's GDP ranking at the bottom with an increase of just 4.8 percent during the period. ^ top ^

Beijing not likely to lift restrictions on overseas investments (SCMP)
2014-08-20
In light of President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign, which has unveiled officials with all kinds of investments and holdings, China is unlikely to ease its restrictions on overseas investments by individuals in the near future, state media said. Regulators worry that if the restriction were lifted, the outflow of domestic capital would offer opportunities for corrupt officials to launder their assets overseas, said China Economic Weekly, a financial magazine owned by Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, quoting an unnamed source who it says is knowledgeable about the situation. The National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, said in a long report on its website two weeks ago that “the next step is to improve relevant regulations on utilisation of foreign capital and overseas investments, and allow individual investors to make overseas investments”. Without elaborating when and how that will happen, the report lifted some hopes that the government will soon raise its limit on individual overseas investment. The current law limits foreign currency transfers by individuals to US$50,000 a year. In a recent twist, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) aired a programme in July, accusing the Bank of China (BOC) of helping rich clients transfer money abroad through one of its services, which violated the foreign exchange regulations. Although BOC claimed the service was a legitimate pilot programme of which regulators were made aware, the allegation by CCTV against the country's fourth-biggest lender struck a nerve, especially in a country where it is an open secret that corrupt officials move billions of US dollars gained from malfeasance to offshore accounts or use it to buy property. Xi has said often that corruption will ruin the Communist Party's control over the country, and that was the reason he launched a massive anti-graft campaign after moving into the presidency last year. In another part of the widening anti-corruption campaign, China has stepped up its hunt for financial fugitives overseas – most of whom are corrupt officials and criminal suspects. At least 18 fugitives charged with major economic crimes have been returned home since the Ministry of Public Security launched a special operation late last month, Legal Daily reported. Beijing has been pushing Chinese companies to venture abroad to diversify the investment of its foreign exchange reserves. The government also launched the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor programme in 2006 to allow individuals to buy securities in overseas markets through asset managers and funds. However, the programme falls far short of satisfying wealthy individuals on the mainland who are looking for high-return investment opportunities. According to an annual report by the Boston Consulting Group, the number of millionaire households in China rose from 1.5 million in 2010 to 2.4 million last year. China passed Japan to become No 2 in the world, following the United States. ^ top ^

Antitrust probes 'won't deter investors' (China Daily)
2014-08-19
Antitrust investigations into foreign companies in China will not scare away foreign investors despite the inflow of overseas spending in July hitting a two-year low, an official said on Monday. "Just a few antitrust probes will never scare away foreign investors," Shen Danyang, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, told reporters. "As for China stepping up economic restructuring, it's normal to have some monthly fluctuations in foreign direct investment figures. This doesn't represent the overall FDI trend and should never be connected with antitrust probes into foreign companies. Groundless speculation is completely unnecessary," Shen said. "We expect FDI for the whole year to remain at the same level as last year," he added. The FDI last year was $117.59 billion. From January to July, actual FDI flowing into China, excluding the financial sector, dropped by 0.35 percent from a year earlier to $71.14 billion, the ministry said. For July alone, FDI slumped by 16.95 percent year-on-year to $7.81 billion, the lowest since July 2012, according to the ministry. Antitrust authorities have launched a series of investigations into several industries, including technology firms Qualcomm and Microsoft and auto brands such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, representing more than 1,800 companies, has voiced concern that foreign companies are being targeted disproportionately. Shen said: "After the Antitrust Law took effect six years ago, both domestic and foreign companies were investigated. The law treats all enterprises equally, and foreign ones are not targeted. "The investigations into suspected monopolies aim to build a fair, transparent and orderly market, which is helpful in improving the investment environment. The assumption that some companies or countries are targeted is completely baseless." Ma Yu, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a ministry think tank, said, "The intensive antitrust probes have somewhat dented the inflow of foreign investment. "The investigations raised foreign investors' concerns over China's policies and investment environment. Restraints on market access to modern services in China are also to blame for the slowed investment inflow." ^ top ^

Antitrust advances nation to rule of law (Global Times)
2014-08-21
A record anti-trust fine totaling 1.23 billion yuan ($201.12 million) has been levied on 12 Japanese companies by the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission. These auto parts makers are expected to pay a great cost for fixing prices in the Chinese market. This is the most serious penalty inflicted under China's six-year-old anti-monopoly law. Global opinion has not overreacted to this punishment, although some Japanese and Western media proclaimed that it is an apparent effort by Chinese government to pressure foreign companies in China, by aiding local enterprises to gain more market share. But in the face of China's allegations, all Japanese companies involved have pleaded guilty, making this case much less controversial than Western media anticipated. Anti-monopoly law, which is hailed as the "constitution of the market economy" and a "charter of freedom," plays a fundamental role in guarding fair competition in a market economy. China has lagged far behind compared to the US, which enacted its anti-trust law in 1890, and South Korea, which introduced the same law in 1986. It is high time that China take a leap forward. Companies which produce and sell similar products should be competitors, but if they collude to fix prices, this makes them no different than if they stole from their customers. Monopoly is one of the major reasons why imported cars always sell at a high price in China. Tracing the 30-year history of the Chinese market economy, we can find that monopolies were not given much emphasis at the early stage. But in the past six years, the anti-monopoly law has started to take effect, sending several companies, especially in the liquor industry, onto the list of penalties. Besides cracking down on misconduct in terms of quality and taxation issues, Chinese authorities have begun to put more effort into clamping down on any monopoly, a higher level measure to keep economic order. The 1.2 billion-yuan penalty has just demonstrated China's efforts to do more. Compared with the monopoly crackdowns in the US and EU, what China has done can only serve as a warning. The execution of anti-monopoly law will be expected to be much tougher in the future. Anti-monopoly should be regarded as an integral part of Chinese reform. Following the anti-graft campaign, a modern social governance system will be carried forward, in which regulating the market economy is the priority. Monopoly as a misconduct or even violation of law is not known to the public very well, but it will be in the future. China is establishing the rule of law, and anti-monopoly is of great value in this process. Currently, China's anti-monopoly campaign targets big companies which rack up profits by breaking the law. It will be a deterrent to others. A mature anti-monopoly mechanism is one of the symbols of a highly developed economy. China is moving toward this end. ^ top ^

Nation plans to double domestic spending on tourism (Global Times)
2014-08-22
China aims to double domestic spending on tourism by 2020 by offering financial and other support to develop the sector, the central government said Thursday, as it seeks to boost spending at home to spur economic growth. By 2020, the government is aiming for spending on domestic tourism to reach 5.5 trillion yuan ($894 billion), more than double the 2013 figure of 2.6 trillion yuan, with tourism accounting for more than 5 percent of GDP, according to a guideline released on the central government's website. The guideline also aims for ­Chinese citizens to make an average of 4.5 trips a year by 2020, up from an average of 2.5 in 2013. "Speeding up reform of the tourism industry has important meaning for boosting employment, increasing incomes, pushing development in central and western China, helping poor areas get rich and promoting stable economic growth," it said. Tourism companies will be encouraged to list on the stock market. Loans and other financial support will be given to small firms operating in the sector, especially at the village level, according to the guideline. "Being one of the country's highly opened-up industries, the tourism industry sees fierce competition, but the sector faces obstacles in financing and land use," Dai Xuefeng, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying Thursday. Experts noted that a batch of measures announced in the guideline will boost the development of the sector. China also plans to get more foreign tourists, by better promoting itself outside of the country and continuing to perfect a new system granting 72-hour visa-free access to several major cities, mostly for Western tourists, the guideline said. Trips in China by foreign tourists declined 2.8 percent year-on-year to 62.3 million in the first half of this, data from the National Tourism Administration showed. ^ top ^

Services trade deficit rises in July (Global Times)
2014-08-22
China recorded a deficit of 94.2 billion yuan ($15.3 billion) in its foreign trade in services in July, official data showed on Monday. The figure was up from a deficit of 55.2 billion yuan in June, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a statement. In the first seven months, the combined services trade deficit stood at 455.7 billion yuan, the SAFE said. International trade in services refers to the cross-border sales and delivery of intangible products, including areas such as transport, travel, telecommunications, construction, insurance, finance and IT. ^ top ^

Duties on India TBHQ imports (Xinhua)
2014-08-22
China has decided to impose an anti-dumping duty of 49.8 percent on Indian companies after they were found to have dumped Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) products in the Chinese market, the Ministry of Commerce said Thursday. The anti-dumping duties on the TBHQ imports from India will begin Friday and last for five years. According to the ministry's year-long investigation, TBHQ imports from India have been dumped in the Chinese market and such imports have caused substantial damage to China's domestic industry. TBHQ can be used as antioxidant in cooking oil or as additives in the pharmaceutical and animal feed industries. However, the anti-dumping duties will not be retroactive to imports before April 30 this year, according to the ministry. ^ top ^

Mainland factory sector growth hits 3-month low (SCMP)
2014-08-22
The mainland's factory sector expanded at its slowest pace in three months as new orders and production moderated, a private survey showed, increasing the pressure for more policy easing given the slowdown in the economy. The HSBC flash China manufacturing purchasing managers' index fell to 50.3 from 51.7 last month, trailing economists' average forecast of 51.5. The data "suggests the economic recovery is still continuing but its momentum has slowed again", said Qu Hongbin, the chief economist for China at HSBC. "We think more policy support is needed to help consolidate the recovery. Both monetary and fiscal policy should remain accommodative until there is a more sustained rebound in economic activity." Almost all the PMI sub-indices declined, with output dropping to a three-month low of 51.3 from 52.8 and new orders sliding to 51.3 from 53.3. Export orders also declined, albeit less drastically. "Given the HSBC PMI tends to lag [month on month industrial production] slightly, it may be a reflection of weaker growth momentum in July amid tighter monetary conditions and less aggressive policy measures," Goldman Sachs economist Song Yu said. Earlier this month, official data showed total social financing, the broadest gauge for credit, fell last month to the lowest since November 2008. Industrial production growth decelerated while real estate investment rose at the slowest rate in nearly five years. Analysts said the latest survey underscored the pains that small and medium-sized enterprises had suffered from weak demand and tight credit, given the HSBC PMI's greater sample focus on smaller businesses compared with the official PMI gauge to be released by the National Bureau of Statistics on September 1. But such a situation might be temporary and seasonal, analysts said, with most seeing a rebound in industrial activity this month as credit conditions normalised. Still, economists are split over how aggressive Beijing's easing policy may turn in the rest of the year as the leadership has vowed to defend the annual economic growth target set at about 7.5 per cent. The economy expanded 7.4 per cent in the first half, thanks to the government's mini-stimulus policy, including reserve requirement ratio cuts for banks, reduced taxes for selected small firms, and acceleration in infrastructure projects. In the latest efforts to reinvigorate the economy, the State Council said it would cut tax rates for qualified high-technology companies to as low as 15 per cent. That compares to the 25 per cent rate for most companies on the mainland, although the favourable treatment may affect a limited number of enterprises. Citigroup said it might take a sharper downturn, such as PMI falling below 50, for the government to intensify its policy easing, including adopting broad-based reserve ratio and interest rate cuts. Barclays Capital said two interest rate cuts in the second half would help the economy expand 7.4 per cent for the year. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

DPRK warns S. Korea of paying huge price for war exercises (Xinhua)
2014-08-17
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) warned Seoul on Sunday that it will launch preemptive attacks at any time in response to a joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States. The Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) military drill, which adopts a so-called "tailored deterrence strategy" this year, is a premeditated war exercise that follows Washington's hostile policy toward the DPRK and Seoul's provocation against inter-Korean unity, a spokesperson for the General Staff of Korean People's Army said in a statement. This year's UFG drill, which engages a vast number of US and South Korean military forces and involves nuclear strike means, is putting the Korean Peninsula to an extremely critical situation, it stressed. As the United States and its follower South Korea have declared war by employing the tailored deterrence strategy in the war maneuver, the DPRK once again claim to ruthlessly launch strongest attacks at any chosen time in its own way, the statement said. By putting war maneuvers on a regular and annual basis, the United States and South Korea have more flagrantly demonstrated their aggressive attempt to subvert the system of the DPRK and realize the reunification of Korea through annexation of the country. To cope with the situation, the DPRK will carry out more intensive military exercises on a regular and annual basis, it added. It also warned that Washington and Seoul, which responded to Pyongyang's peaceful proposals with war exercises instead, will pay a huge price of blood for their anti-peace and anti-nation moves. The UFG is a joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States aimed at defending South Korea from attacks from the DPRK. This year's UFG exercise is scheduled to start next Monday. ^ top ^

12 captured North Korean defectors released: report (Global Times)
2014-08-18
A group of North Korean defectors detained on the Chinese border with Laos have allegedly been released, Sky News reported on Friday. Chinese authorities have not confirmed the report but analysts say that if it is real, it signals China's shifting policy on North Korea. Sky News reported that the group of North Korean defectors, including 10 men and women around their 20s and 30s and one 4-year-old child, have not been returned to North Korea. According to bilateral agreements between Beijing and Pyongyang, China has regarded the North Korean defectors as illegal immigrants and has been sending them back. "There is legal basis, however, it has been questioned worldwide. Because once these defectors get back, they will face severe punishments," Zhang Liangui, a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, told the Global Times. The group of North Koreans was reportedly detained by the Chinese military on August 12 along the border between Laos and China's Yunnan Province, according to Sky News. "If we did release them and hand them over to South Korea, then it is a different gesture," Zhang said. Wang Sheng, an expert on Koreans at Jilin University, said he does not believe the report, saying if it's true, North Korea would be very dissatisfied and there is unlikely to be such big change on China's North Korean policy. "If there were great numbers of North Korean defectors flooding to South Korea, the situation in North Korea would be chaotic," Wang told the Global Times. "South Korea is of course happy to witness it. However, I do not think it realistic," he added. Sky News said that the group left Ryanggang province at the end of July, crossed the country's northern border with China and then used smuggling routes to travel south. They apparently travelled to Qingdao, Shandong Province before Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, the report said. In February 2012, Seoul protested against China's repatriating North Korean defectors, saying China failed to abide by relevant international conventions in its handling of illegal border crossers. Foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei responded that they are not refugees, but illegal immigrants who entered into China for economic reasons. ^ top ^

Joint annual drill begins despite N.Korea threats (Global Times)
2014-08-19
South Korea and the US launched an annual military drill despite condemnation by North Korea which has threatened a "merciless" retaliatory strike, Seoul's defense ministry said on Monday. The beginning of the "Ulchi Freedom Guardian" exercise, which will last until August 29, came as Pope Francis led a mass for inter-reconciliation in Seoul. Although largely played out on computers, the drill involves tens of thousands of South Korean and US soldiers and is aimed at testing combat readiness for a North Korean invasion. According to the South Korean Defense Ministry, this year's drill will, for the first time, simulate the response to a nuclear-attack threat, using a strategy of "tailored" deterrence developed last year at annual South Korea-US defense talks. North Korea has repeatedly called for the exercise to be cancelled, and last week its military joint chiefs of staff threatened to "mercilessly open the strongest... pre-emptive strike" if it goes ahead. On Monday Pope Francis wrapped up the first papal visit to Asia in 15 years, urging the divided Koreas to reject suspicion and confrontation, and unite as "one family, one people." ^ top ^

'A wolf with a hideous lantern jaw': North Korea launches personal attack on John Kerry (SCMP)
2014-08-21
In its latest personal attack on a prominent official from a rival country, North Korea on Wednesday called US Secretary of State John Kerry a wolf with a “hideous lantern jaw.” North Korea has unleashed a slew of crude insults against leaders in Washington and Seoul this year, calling President Barack Obama a monkey and South Korean President Park Geun-hye a prostitute. Wednesday's slur against Kerry appeared only in a Korean-language dispatch, suggesting it was meant to rally anti-US sentiment and burnish the leadership's image domestically at a time when Washington and Seoul are conducting annual military drills that Pyongyang calls an invasion rehearsal. An unidentified policy department spokesman at the North Korean defence commission, led by leader Kim Jong-un, described Kerry as a “wolf donning the mask of sheep.” The spokesman criticised Kerry for recently saying Washington wants to see peace on the Korean Peninsula although the United States and South Korea then went ahead with their summertime drills that North Korea has demanded be scrapped. The US and South Korea say the drills are defensive in nature. The North Korean spokesman also criticised Kerry's comments on North Korea's human rights record and weapons programmes. “His behaviour fully revealed once again the US inveterate nature as a hypocrite who has deceived and mocked mankind with all sorts of gimmicks,” the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. A KCNA editorial released on May 2, written in English, described South Korean President Park as “no more than a mentally deranged [sic] who does not have normal thinking faculty and insight, and a confrontation maniac just like a rabid dog always keen on biting others.” It described Park as “no more than an old prostitute coquetting with outside forces”, in reference to South Korea's ties with the US. “What she has done, kowtowing to outside forces since she took office as 'president', clearly proves that she is no more than a dirty political harlot and old prostitute without an equal as she is steeped in sycophancy and treachery,” the editorial said. An editorial released by KCNA on the same day, written in Korean, used racist language to refer to Obama, describing the US president as “a wicked black monkey” and a “crossbreed with unclear blood.” The article said Obama “should live as a monkey in an African natural zoo licking the breadcrumbs thrown by spectators.” South Korean and US officials often criticise the North's invectives but stop short of similar rhetoric against North Korean leaders. But conservative activists in South Korea frequently use images depicting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as a pig in anti-Pyongyang rallies. Tension on the Korean Peninsula remains high as North Korea has conducted an unusually large number of missile and artillery test firings this year. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Xi Jinping's Mongolia trip to focus on energy, infrastructure (SCMP)
2014-08-19
China will sign a series of energy and infrastructure deals with Mongolia as part of President Xi Jinping's two-day state visit to the neighbouring country this week, according to the Foreign Ministry. Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Jianchao said yesterday that the trip would also yield support for Mongolia's plans to boost cross-border transport through China. The trip, scheduled for Thursday and Friday, comes as China tries to expand its influence in Central Asia by promoting its idea of a Silk Road Economic Belt, an initiative designed to expand economic cooperation in the region. It also comes as China continues to look beyond its borders to meet its growing economy's increasing demand for energy and resources. Mongolia is also fostering ties with nations such as India and Japan to meet its infrastructure needs. It signed a free-trade deal with Japan last month and is also working to improve logistics links with other nations through China and Russia. "We are aware of the demand in Mongolia to step up cross-border transport through Chinese territory. We will work hard to help the Mongolians in this regard," Liu said. "We believe this will benefit economic and trade cooperation between Mongolia and other nations." The last time a Chinese president visited Mongolia was a 2003 trip by Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao. Dialogue between China and Mongolia has expanded in recent months. In May, Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj went to China for a regional security summit, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Mongolia in June, paving the way for Xi's visit. Vice-President Li Yuanchao also visited the country in April. Erdenebulgan Oyun, Mongolia's deputy minister for mining, said Mongolia aimed to sign a gas project and supply accord with China during Xi's trip. The agreement would cover the construction of two coal-to-gas plants, with 95 per cent of the output being piped to China. Liu said the two countries would also sign deals on coal mining and infrastructure, but did not give details. Li Lifan, an expert on Central Asian affairs at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said Mongolia might seek Beijing's support to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and upgrade its status from observer to full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a regional security bloc that includes China, Russia and several Central Asian countries. Li said a cross-border transport agreement would facilitate the delivery of coal and other materials from Mongolia to China, and further on to other nations such as Japan. ^ top ^

Ulaanbaatar and Beijing have established sister-city relations (Info Mongolia)
2014-08-19
In the scope of the Northeast Asian Mayors' Forum being organized in Ulaanbaatar, Deputy Mayors of China's Beijing, Tianjin, Shenyang, Hohhot and Hailar cities accompanied with over 20 representatives are participating in this Forum. In the frameworks, Ulaanbaatar and Beijing have established sister-city relations and the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding was held at the Capital City Administration on August 18, 2014. The Memorandum was signed by Mayor of Ulaanbaatar Mr. E.Bat-Uul and Vice-Mayor of Beijing Mr. Chen Gang, where parties noted that the two municipalities will be developing economical and business cooperation by establishing the sister-city relations. As start of this partnership, Ulaanbaatar Administration will organize trade fair in Beijing in upcoming September to promote Mongolian products and goods. As of today, Ulaanbaatar city is collaborating with over 40 cities of the world in the frames of sister-city and friendship relations. ^ top ^

The III Asian Forum on the Rights of the Child will be held in Ulaanbaatar (Info Mongolia)
2014-08-20
The National Authority for Children of Mongolia in association with National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia, UNICEF Mongolia Office and General Research Institute on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Japan are organizing the III Asian Forum on the Rights of the Child in Ulaanbaatar on August 23-24, 2014. The Forum is aimed to discuss abolition of the child labor and the role of the government and NGOs to monitor the implementation of the rights of children as well as safety media for children and education programs, and during the second day session to discuss issues related to the support for children and the development of child-friendly city, where over 50 delegates from East Asian countries are to attend. Speeches will be presented by representatives from Cambodia, Japan, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Mongolia and to share their experiences. Afterwards, “Asian Children Rights Forum 2014” Declaration will be approved. ^ top ^

China and Mongolia Customs General Administrations have established Memorandums of Understanding on Cooperation (Info Mongolia)
2014-08-20
At the invitation of the Chairman of Customs General Administration of Mongolia Osor GANBAT, Chinese delegation led by Minister of the General Administration of China Customs (GACC) Commissioner-General Yu Guangzhou has been conducting an official visit to Mongolia on August 19-22, 2014. During their visit, GACC delegates held bilateral talks with Mongolian counterparts and parties established intergovernmental agreement of cooperation on border port issues. Moreover, the two sides established two Memorandums of Understanding on Cooperation between the General Administration of China Customs and Customs General Administration of Mongolia, and between the Customs Office of Manzhouli, China and Customs Office of Dornod Aimag, Mongolia. ^ top ^

Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea to pay an official visit to Mongolia (Info Mongolia)
2014-08-20
At the invitation of Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Mr. Luvsanvandan BOLD, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea Mr. Yun Byung-se will pay an official visit to Mongolia on August 25-27, 2014. In the frames of the visit, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se will pay courtesy calls on the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj and the Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag and to hold official talks with Foreign Minister L.Bold. During the bilateral talks, parties will discuss and exchange views covering several topics such as boosting the Mongolia-Korea “Comprehensive Partnership” relations; broadening trade, economic and investment cooperation; facilitating travel conditions between citizens; confirming Mongolia's position on situations in Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula; and partnership in the frameworks of “Ulaanbaatar Dialogue” on Northeast Asian Security forwarded by President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj and "Eurasia Initiative" proposed by the President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye as well as Mongolia's tasks to join the APEC and participation in the East Asia Summit. Mongolia and the Republic of Korea have established the diplomatic relations on March 26, 1990. ^ top ^

China, Mongolia explore ways to expand bilateral economic ties (Xinhua)
2014-08-21
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected, during his upcoming visit to Mongolia, to work with Mongolian leaders to explore effective ways to expand and deepen bilateral economic and trade relations between two countries. China has been Mongolia's largest trading partner and a major investor for more than a decade, with the bilateral trade volume reaching nearly 6 billion U.S. dollars in 2013 -- nearly 20 times that of 2002 and more than half of Mongolia's total foreign trade. Xi's visit will largely promote investment, economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, said Sun Weiren, the commercial counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Mongolia. There are 6,169 Chinese enterprises registered in Mongolia as of June, 2013, accounting for 48.8 percent of foreign enterprises registered in Mongolia, according to statistics released by Mongolia. Chinese investment totaled 2.56 billion U.S. dollars by the end of 2013, according to statistics released by China. China and Mongolia share 14 border crossings for exports and imports, with the advantage of less transportation distance and lower cost. China imports coal, oil, minerals, livestock and other primary products from Mongolia, while the electromechanical products, agricultural products, construction materials, and textiles from China are also popular in Mongolia. The projects Chinese enterprises have engaged in include construction of roads, thermo-electricity stations, and housing, all of which serve as infrastructure build-up to help improve Mongolian people's living standard. China's Gezhouba Corporation has built roads in western Mongolia, and other Chinese companies have built houses for Mongolian people. The Beijing Construction Engineering Group plans to build residential buildings in Ulan Bator, covering an area of 210 hectares with the support of preferential loans from China. The financial cooperation between the two countries is also enhanced. The Bank of China (BOC) set up its representative office in Mongolia in 2012. In June 2014, the bank allocated its first loan of 25 million dollars to a local company, TUUSHIN. And more than 40 local companies have applied for loans of more than 3 billion dollars from the bank, covering such fields as energy, manufacture and infrastructure. BOC will continue to support Chinese enterprises in Mongolia, as well as Mongolia's construction of infrastructure, energy and resources development, and avoid competition with local banks, the chief representative of BOC to Mongolia, Dai Xingjun, said. BOC, jointly with other Chinese enterprises, established two funds to help improve Mongolia's education and the livelihood of the people, and to enhance cultural exchanges between the two. Experts expect that China and Mongolia will work together to increase bilateral trade volume, improve the structure of foreign trade and investment, promote industrial upgrading, develop interconnection of railways, highways and electricity, as well as support cooperation in key areas and large-scale projects. ^ top ^

Xi upgrades Mongolia ties (Global Times)
2014-08-22
China and Mongolia have stepped up bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership as Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday embarked on a historic visit to Mongolia. During the first day of Xi's two-day state visit, the Chinese president signed a joint declaration with his Mongolian counterpart Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj in Ulan Bator. Xi also proposed to expand China-Mongolia trade to $10 billion by 2020, allowed the opening of northern and northeastern China's seaports to the landlocked neighbor and supported Mongolia's bid for joining APEC. It was the first visit to Mongolia by a Chinese head of state in 11 years and only the second time that Xi has made a solo presidential trip to a foreign country since he took office in March 2013, a rare gesture that signals Mongolia's geopolitical importance to China. Xi said China and Mongolia will boost cooperation in politics and security and invited Elbegdorj to attend the APEC meeting in Beijing in November. "China will continue providing convenience to Mongolia in areas such as cross-border transportation and access to ports. China will work with Mongolia to facilitate cross-border transportation between Asia and Europe and together we will build the Silk Road Economic Belt," Xi said, adding that collaboration in mineral product processing, new energy, electricity and animal husbandry will also be strengthened. Rich in mineral resources, a big part of Mongolia's export revenue depends on coal exportation and Mongolia has been actively seeking more access to Chinese ports to expand its overseas market. Mongolia will be allowed to use sea ports in northern and northeastern China that are open to foreign vessels, a major breakthrough as China currently only allows Mongolia to use the port of Tianjin to trade its goods with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. International and multilateral cooperation is another key point in Xi's visit. Xi said both sides will continue working with each other in the UN, the Asia-Europe Meeting, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as well as the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. "China supports Mongolia's decision to join APEC, supports the Ulan Bator Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security and the proposal of a trilateral summit between China, Mongolia and Russia," Xi said. Elbegdorj said the comprehensive strategic partnership signals that relations between China and Mongolia have entered their all-time best. "Mongolia has always supported China in its stances regarding the questions of Taiwan and Tibet. Mongolia does not support any group or activity that aim at splitting China," Elbegdorj said. According to Japan's Mainichi Shimbun, Mongolia has canceled a scheduled visit by the Dalai Lama in August. Several government officials, including Tsagaan Puntsag, chief of staff of the Office of the President of Mongolia, and Jigjid Rentsendoo, state secretary of Mongolia's Ministry of Mining, have called Xi's visit historic in previous interviews. "Chinese leaders are pragmatic people. I believe together we can push bilateral cooperation to a higher level," Puntsag told the Global Times. His remarks were echoed by Gombosuren Tserenpiliin, former foreign minister of Mongolia and former Mongolian ambassador to China, who told the Global Times that he respects China's long history and admires Deng Xiaoping's policy. "We hope China could develop with stability. Disturbance in China will inevitably take its toll on Mongolia," he said. Xi's trip came roughly two weeks ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Mongolia in early September. Bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, Mongolia is landlocked and is the only country in the world sandwiched between two world powers. Mongolia has always been careful in maintaining balance between its two neighbors. To diversify its diplomacy, it has adopted a Third Neighbor Policy where the country seeks to develop relations with countries like the US and Japan. Xi is scheduled to deliver a speech at the State Great Hural of Mongolia, the country's parliament, on Friday. Bilateral trade between China and Mongolia stood at only $324 million in 2002, and has rocketed to nearly $6 billion in 2013, accounting for more than half of Mongolia's total foreign trade. ^ 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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