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
  1-7.11.14, No. 548  
Startseite / Homepage   Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China, U.S. to meet on WMD nonproliferation (China Daily)
2014-11-02
China and the United States will sit down for the first joint work group meeting on the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Beijing on Monday, China's Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday. China and the U.S. decided to establish a joint group on the nonproliferation of WMD during their Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing last July. It is the first time China has established a mechanism for discussion about nonproliferation with other major countries. Li Yang, Deputy Director-general for the Department of Arms Control in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and Van Diepen, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation for the U.S. Department of State, will attend the meeting, the Ministry said. The meeting is expected to enhance practical cooperation in nonproliferation and strategic trust between the two countries, which is conducive to the building of a new type of relationship between major countries. It is also expected to promote international nonproliferation process by showcasing the cooperation between big countries. China has always opposed proliferation in all forms and conducted international cooperation in this area. China and the U.S. have shared interests and concerns in nonproliferation and kept communication and cooperation in implementing the UN Security Council Resolution 1540, arms export control and regional nonproliferation hotspot issues. ^ top ^

China develops anti-drone laser (Xinhua)
2014-11-02
China has successfully tested a homemade laser defense system specially targeting small-scale drones flying at low attitude. The machine is able to shoot down various small aircraft within a two-kilometer radius and can do so in five seconds after locating its target, said a statement released Sunday by the China Academy of Engineering Physics, one of the system's co-developers. Characterized by its speed, precision and low noise, the system is designed to destroy unmanned, small-scale drones flying within an altitude of 500-m and at a speed below 50m/s, it said. "Intercepting such drones is usually the work of snipers and helicopters, but their success rate is not as high and mistakes with accuracy can result in unwanted damage," said Yi Jinsong, a manager with China Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment Corp., a group under the academy spearheading the project. According to Yi, small-scale, unmanned drones are relatively cheap and easy to use, which makes them a likely choice for terrorists. In addition, concerns have been raised over drones engaged in unlicensed mapping activities and the affect this could have on military and civil aerial activities. The new laser system, which will either be installed or transported in vehicles, is expected to play a key role in ensuring security during major events in urban areas, the statement said, adding that a recent test saw the machine successfully shoot down more than 30 drones -- a 100 percent success rate. The academy revealed that it was developing similar laser security systems with greater power and range. ^ top ^

China, Morocco to expand cooperation for better ties (Xinhua)
2014-11-04
China will expand practical cooperation with Morocco in various areas to step up the China- Morocco ties, visiting Chinese top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng said Tuesday. Yu, chairman of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), was here on a three-day official friendly visit. He met with Moroccan King Mohammed VI on Tuesday and separately held meetings with Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane and President of the Chamber of Representatives Alami on Monday. He has also held talks with Mohamed Cheikh Biadilla, president of the Senate of Morocco. Morocco is one of the earliest countries in Africa to establish diplomatic ties with China. Yu said the two countries have enjoyed good cooperation in the areas of politics, economy and people-to- people exchanges since they set up diplomatic relationship 56 years ago. Yu said China is willing to keep frequent high-level exchanges and enhance political mutual-trust with Morocco. He pledged to encourage more Chinese companies to invest in the North African country and called for Morocco to create a better and convenient environment for foreign investment. He suggested the two sides to give a priority to the simplifications of their people-to-people exchanges for closer cooperation in culture, education and tourism. Describing Morocco as an important partner in Africa and the Arab world, Yu called for the two countries to jointly push forward the China-Africa and China-Arab cooperation and continuously cooperate in maintaining regional peace and stability, as well as striking terrorism. During his talks with Moroccan leaders, Yu also briefed them about China's political, economic and social situation. He stressed the CPPCC is willing to enhance multi-tier, multi-channel exchanges with the parliament of Morocco to promote mutual understanding and mutual trust between the two nations. King Mohammed VI and other Moroccan leaders said they appreciated the long-term support and help that China has provided to their country, pledging closer cooperation with China in the areas of politics, economy, culture and education. They said Morocco will enhance friendly exchanges between the parliaments of the two countries and conduct close coordination with China on international and regional affairs and promote the sustainable, rapid and comprehensive development of Morocco-China ties. Morocco is the second leg of Yu's four-nation tour in North Africa and Middle East following Algeria. He is set to visit Bahrain on Wednesday and Jordan on Friday. ^ top ^

Chinese FM vows to forge substantial China-Indonesia ties (Xinhua)
2014-11-04
China is willing to jointly forge a comprehensive strategic partnership with Indonesia in name and in fact, visiting Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said here on Monday. [...] The Chinese foreign minister said issues that have been discussed include preparations for the scheduled APEC meeting between the leaders of both sides, synchronization on the development strategy of both, forging commonalities on the practical cooperation and the synchronization on the regional and international issues. Indonesian President Joko Widodo is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his trip to Beijing attending the APEC Economic Leaders' meeting in early November. The two countries share views on the maritime vision, as Xi's initiative of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road proposed during his trip to Indonesia last year coincides with Joko's vow to rejuvenate his country as a maritime power through the development of maritime economy, Wang said. [...] As for the practical cooperation, Wang said he proposes to enhance cooperation on sectors including the maritime economy, infrastructure, construction of industrial zone, energy and resources, agriculture, high technology, defense and security, people to people contact, as well as the international and regional issues of common concern. [...] "China is willing to seize the chance to deepen the mutual trust and work together with Indonesia, to forge the comprehensive strategic partnership in name and in fact," said Wang. [...] ^ top ^

China to push for new Asian trade agreement during Apec summit (SCMP)
2014-11-05
Beijing signalled yesterday that it plans to use next week's Apec summit to promote a new Asian trade pact to have a bigger say in the region, a push widely seen as a countermeasure to the proposed US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Without giving a timetable for a deal, assistant commerce minister Wang Shouwen said China hoped to complete a road map for a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and "strengthen analysis and study" of the plan at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on November 10-11. Wang also said China and South Korea would hold a new round of bilateral free-trade-area talks in Beijing tomorrow, in the hope of wrapping up negotiations by the end of the year. Observers said that forging another transpacific deal might help Beijing counter Washington's power in the Asia-Pacific, a region playing a crucial role in the global economic recovery but also facing challenges from mounting geopolitical tension. Zhang Yunling, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said "a very strong power" was needed to ensure integrated development in the Asia-Pacific region. "Pushing forward the FTAAP plan is very urgent and important," he said. But there are doubts that Apec nations can reach a deal, said Sanchita Basu Das, a researcher and coordinator of the Singapore Apec Study Centre at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. "[It's] difficult for the US and China to mutually agree on a high-quality FTA," she said. "The same is true for Japan, China and South Korea, whose broader economic cooperation, in addition to their defensive trade positions against each other, especially in relation to sensitive sectors like agriculture and cars, [have been] constantly mired in historical conflicts and unsettled territorial disputes." The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that under US pressure, China had to drop two provisions from the draft of the Apec communiqué. The report said the statement no longer called for an FTAAP "feasibility study" - or the start of negotiations - and had no target date to finish the deal. Beijing had wanted to set a 2025 deadline. Wang denied the report, saying "there's no so-called block or conflict". He said the FTAAP idea was raised by Apec, an association of 21 economies, in 2006. "In terms of building the FTAAP, so far we have received basically - we can say - all member nations' support," Wang said. "I am confident that different views regarding FTAAP will be handled well." The US-led TPP, involving 12 Apec members but not China, is believed to set a high bar on issues such as intellectual property rights, the environment and state-owned enterprises, which analysts say China and some other Apec economies could find hard to meet. Countries involved in the TPP plan are expected to meet this weekend to discuss the trade pact, on which Japan and the US have been at odds over issues including tariffs and the car trade. ^ top ^

Top Chinese legislator meets Emir of Qatar (Xinhua)
2014-11-05
Top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang on Tuesday met with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani on seeking stronger ties. Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, reviewed the 26-year-old diplomatic ties between China and Qatar, saying the two countries respect each other and have worked productively in various sectors. Zhang said Chinese President Xi Jinping and Tamim reached an important consensus and issued a joint statement on building a strategic partnership, which ushered in a new era of China-Qatar relations. Under the joint statement, the two countries pledged to increase communication between the leaders of the two countries, support each other on issues involving national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, boost cooperation in trade, investment, energy, finance, counter-terrorism, the military industry and other sectors as well as step up people-to-people exchanges. Zhang called on the two countries to make the best of this opportunity and boost the growth of the strategic partnership. Zhang said the NPC would like to work more closely with Qatar, share experience on how to run a country, create sound legal environments for cooperation, lay a solid public foundation and contribute to cooperation between China and Gulf countries as well as China-Qatar relations. Describing his China visit as "productive," Tamim said his country would like to deepen all-round cooperation with China. Tamim will conclude his three-day state visit to China later on Tuesday. ^ top ^

Chinese diplomats make exception to non-interference rule by meeting South Sudan opposition (SCMP)
2014-11-05
China could be straying from its decades-old position of "not interfering in the internal affairs of other nations", with a Chinese diplomat for Africa saying that Beijing was becoming more involved in the conflict in South Sudan, where it has big oilfield investments. Zhong Jianhua, China's special envoy for African Affairs, said China used to be "rigid" about not getting involved in foreign internal conflicts but was doing so this time in the interests of peace and stability in Africa. Zhong told the South Africa-based Sunday Independent that he met members of the South Sudanese opposition in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia soon after fighting erupted in December in the South Sudanese capital of Juba between President Salva Kiir's army and rebel forces allied with his former deputy, Riek Machar. Oil production, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of South Sudan's revenue, has been shut down and more than 1.5 million people have fled their homes because of the conflict. An official from the Chinese embassy in Juba told the South China Morning Post that more meetings between Chinese officials and the South Sudanese opposition had been held since December, including one in September. "This is a typical domestic conflict. Usually when this happens, we try to avoid making direct contact with the opposition because, to some extent we think, it's a rebel force," Zhong said. "When you talk to a rebel force that means stepping into internal affairs." But Beijing decided it was time to meet the opposition because of its pledge to the continent, and China's huge commercial interests in South Sudan's oil industry."We have billions of dollars of investment in the oilfields. When they split the oilfields after the South's independence, 70 per cent of the oilfields belonged to South Sudan. That also goes for our investment there," Zhong was quoted as saying. Yin Gang, an expert on African affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of West Asian and African Studies, said the meeting with the opposition was "a part of mediation efforts by the Chinese government". Jin Canrong, an international relations professor at Renmin University, said Beijing would stick with its "non-interference" policy. But South Sudan was an exception because as it was widely understood that the South Sudanese government was struggling to keep the situation under control, and China was a big investor in the country. "China is not fighting a battle there," Jin said. "It is just mediating." ^ top ^

One-on-one Xi-Abe meeting uncertain (China Daily)
2014-11-05
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation members will meet in Beijing from Nov 5 to 11 to discuss the future of APEC and the overall development of the Asia-Pacific region. But apart from trade and economics, the APEC meeting will also see diplomacy in full play. Given this fact, should we expect a one-on-one between President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the APEC meeting? The answer is uncertain because, as Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Oct 29, the problems facing China-Japan ties are facts that cannot be ignored. Despite enjoying rapid economic growth, the Asia-Pacific region is far from being an integral whole with a shared destiny, because of the political differences and territorial disputes among the regional powers. This situation, regional countries should realize, is not beneficial to pan-Pacific countries, including China and Japan. Confronted with the containment policies of some Asia-Pacific countries, China, as a responsible regional power, is expected to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough at the APEC meeting. For one, China believes in using diplomacy to resolve even the most difficult bilateral, regional or global issue. And that is precisely why it can only condemn the online slogans such as "Abe not welcome at APEC meeting". There is no reason why Abe should not attend the APEC meeting. Radical nationalism, marked by "anti-China" rhetoric, has made inroads into Japan in recent years. […] Japan has supported an increasing number of US-led "China-containment" policies; it even "nationalized" China's Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku Islands in Japan), escalating the bilateral dispute. Worse, apart from denying Japan's militarist past and invasion of China before and during World War II, Abe has also supported countries such as the Philippines in their territorial disputes with China. And by calling for an official meeting with Chinese leaders after souring Sino-Japan ties, Abe has confused many observers with his diplomatic tricks. […] Some of his recent moves, including reclaiming the right of collective self-defense for Japan and re-investigation into the 1993 Kono Statement, apology rendered by former Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono for the country's use of "comfort women" during World War II, are apt examples of his efforts to rewrite Japan's wartime history. To achieve these goals, Abe has to "amend" (or revise) Japan's pacifist Constitution. But his moves to do so seem to have backfired on the diplomatic front because of the strong opposition from neighboring countries, especially China and the Republic of Korea. Moreover, economic and strategic pressures have pushed the Abe administration to seek help from Japan's East Asian neighbors. With the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership and Abe's economic policies failing to revive the economy, Japan has to fall back on the flourishing market in its neighborhood despite the country's close economic and strategic ties with the United States and Europe. Of course, strategic concerns underlie Abe's controversial diplomacy. The US-Japan defense cooperation guidelines, revised earlier this month, could be seen as Washington's attempt to encourage Tokyo in its military designs. But given China's rise both in strategic importance and military power, Japan seems to have become less attractive to the US as a strategic partner in the Asia-Pacific. Instead, Japan has to seek help from its neighbors such as China, Russia, and the ROK to address its security concerns. […] ^ top ^

China offers donation to aid Syrian refugees in Lebanon (Global Times)
2014-11-05
Lebanon's Minister of Social Affairs Rashid Derbas and Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon Jiang Jiang signed an agreement Wednesday on a donation granted by China to the social service centers affiliated with the ministry. During a joint press conference, Derbas said that "the donation was advantageous to the Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them", pointing that the donation "is comprised of humanitarian aids earmarked to hospitals in addition to tents that should be erected before the advent of winter" He stressed that the mutual relations between China and Lebanon are "strong and friendly," hoping that "the Chinese grant would be a starting point for developing the relations between the two countries." For his part, the Chinese envoy said the donation was especially for the hosting communities bearing the brunt of the reverberations of the Syrian crisis. He said that China appreciates the Lebanese government's efforts in supporting the Syrian refugees, expressing hope that this agreement would help Lebanon overcome the burden of the refugees' crisis." According to the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees, there are currently more than 1.2 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and the number may reach 1.5 million by the year-end. ^ top ^

China plans 1,000 more staff to fight Ebola in Africa (Xinhua)
2014-11-05
China plans to send over 1,000 medical workers and experts to West Africa in the coming months in its latest bid to aid African countries' fight against the Ebola virus. A team of 12 public health trainers will leave for Sierra Leone on Sunday, according to a document issued at a conference on the aid programs held by the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Wednesday. A team of virus testing experts from China's national disease control center and another team of high commissioners from the Chinese government to coordinate the country's assisting forces will also set off later this month, the document said. In the months to come, more than 1,000 medical workers and public health experts will be sent by China to assist in the battle against Ebola in West African countries, according to the country's plan. To date, China has sent a total of 252 people to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three hardest-hit countries, and there are still 134 people who are currently working there. The commission's document said controlling the spread of the disease will be one focus in future assistance. With experience in prevention and control during the SARS epidemic, Chinese trainers will help provide training for local medical workers, grassroots administrators, community leaders, government staff, students and volunteers in the three countries and neighboring countries at risk for the epidemic. It is expected that 10,000 people will receive the training. ^ top ^

China willing to share anti-terror intelligence, conduct joint operations: official (Xinhua)
2014-11-05
China is willing to exchange counter-terrorism intelligence and carry out joint anti-terror operations with other countries at a proper time, according to the Ministry of Public Security. Meng Hongwei, Vice Minister of Public Security, made the remarks at the ministerial meeting of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) held Monday and Tuesday in Monaco. He said that China would like to intensify international security cooperation to fight against violent terrorism, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and cyber terrorism, blocking the channels for terrorists' personnel and capital flows. Meng also stressed to advance cooperation in chasing fugitives overseas and getting illicit money back, hoping Interpol will provide more support for members' anti-terror and fugitive operations. China is one of the founding members of the Interpol, the biggest police cooperation organization in the world, which was founded in 1914 in Monaco. ^ top ^

Anti-corruption statement proposed by China, U.S.: APEC official (Xinhua)
2014-11-06
An anti-corruption statement will be included in outcome documents of the on-going Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, an APEC official said Thursday. Alan Bollard, executive director of the APEC Secretariat, said the Beijing Statement on Anti-corruption has been proposed not only by the leadership of China "but also from the United States." Bollard said at a news briefing that the statement will result in the establishment of a group "which could get the enforcement agencies together across the APEC region and allow them to pass on the information on particular cases with one another." "This is necessary for us to track cases across borders within the APEC region and even to follow up and recover assets if they are illegally moved," Bollard said. This year, China intensified efforts in its anti-corruption campaign to snag crooked officials who have absconded overseas. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Oct. 2 that China stands ready to enhance cooperation with the U.S. side in criminal manhunt and illicit-money recovery. APEC is an important economic forum in the Asia Pacific with 21 member economies including China, the United States, Japan and Australia. Police authorities of Australia said last month they are cooperating with the Chinese authorities in hunting down corrupt Chinese officials who fled and settled in Australia. ^ top ^

Backgrounder: Major topics of 2014 APEC summit (Xinhua)
2014-11-06
The 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting will be held here on Nov. 10-11. Themed "Shaping the Future Through Asia-Pacific Partnership," the 2014 APEC summit will focus on three major topics -- advancing regional economic integration, promoting innovative development, economic reform and growth, and strengthening comprehensive development in infrastructure and connectivity. Such designs are in line with the trend of economic development in the Asia-Pacific and the wider world, and have met the common demand of all Asia-Pacific economies. ADVANCING REGIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION APEC members are expected to launch the process of Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and take a new step forward in achieving regional economic integration. The realization of FTAAP is a long-standing consensus and vision of APEC economic leaders. It can help consolidate the various bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms in the region, and minimize the risks caused by overlapping and fragmented free trade arrangements. Through coordination and cooperation among APEC members, an important consensus will be reached on the launch of the FTAAP process during the meeting in Beijing to send out a clear signal of enhancing regional integration and turning this long-standing vision into concrete actions. PROMOTING INNOVATIVE DEVELOPMENT, ECONOMIC REFORM, GROWTH APEC members will identify five pillar areas of cooperation and unleash new impetus for Asia-Pacific economic development. Shifting growth model, restructuring the economy, fostering steady growth and promoting reform are the common tasks of APEC members. The APEC meeting in Beijing will feature in-depth discussions on the five pillars of economic reform, new economy, innovative growth, inclusive support and urbanization in order to deepen cooperation in such frontier areas as Internet economy, urbanization and blue economy. The APEC Accord on Promoting Innovative Development, Economic Reform and Growth, which is expected to be formulated and adopted at the meeting, will have a far-reaching impact on Asia-Pacific's future. STRENGTHENING COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE, CONNECTIVITY APEC members will focus their efforts on promoting interconnected development and draw up a new blueprint for establishing comprehensive connectivity in the Asia-Pacific. With a view to benefiting members across the Pacific, APEC members will work for the formulation of the APEC Blueprint on Connectivity involving hardware, software and people-to-people exchanges in order to provide a strong backing for Asia-Pacific's long-term development. ^ top ^

Xi ranks 3rd on Forbes' powerful people list (Global Times)
2014-11-07
Chinese president Xi Jinping was ranked as the third most powerful person in the world for a second time in Forbes magazine's annual ranking of the World's 72 Most Powerful People. A panel of the magazine's editors came up with the list based on factors including financial resources, scope and use of power, and the number of people they impact. Xi followed Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama, whom the magazine ranked first and second, respectively. Experts believe Xi's high ranking on the list reflects the expanding influence of China over the Western world. "For a US magazine which evaluates the world's power players according to Western values, Xi's high ranking reflects Xi's prestige. China's rapid development also makes Xi's listing inevitable," Cai Zhiqiang, a professor of Party building with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, told the Global Times. Considered the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, the Forbes' report said, Xi is the country's leader, the head of its Communist Party, and its military since taking office two years ago. China is the world's largest economy, valued at $17.6 trillion, according to the Forbes' report. It also said that Xi is currently leading an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign in China, as well as reforms in Chinese market economy and judicial system. Cai said that China has reached a critical stage in its development, facing challenges of unsolved problems accumulated over the past 30 years of China's reform and opening-up policies. What Xi is doing is of great importance, he added. Extending his footprints around the world, Xi met with leaders of the US, South Korea, India and Russia, among others. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang joins Xi on the list in 13th spot. Business leaders such as Tencent's Pony Ma and Alibaba's Jack Ma ranked 43rd and 50th, respectively. Forbes launched its list in 2009. It provides one slot for every 100 million people. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China amends law to support citizens suing government (China Daily)
2014-11-01
China's top legislature adopted an amendment to the Administrative Procedure Law Saturday, aiming to expand the people's right to sue the government. Members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) passed the amendment through a vote at the close of the week-long, bi-monthly legislative session, saying it is in line with the reality of administrative litigation and makes it easier for citizens to take the government to court. Courts will launch administrative proceedings if the government is sued for violating agreements on land and housing compensation and commercial operations franchised by the government, according to the amendment, which was deliberated on three times by national legislators. The amendment says the courts should order authorities to follow contracts or give compensation for the breach if they are confirmed to have violated a contract. Even if authorities have legitimate reasons to terminate contracts, they should offer compensation, according to the revision, without detailing how to determine the amount of compensation. The revision compels defendants -- representatives of the administrations concerned -- to personally appear before the court. Those who refuse to appear without legitimate reasons or leave the court during the trial without approval may face additional punishment. Currently most defendants ask their lawyers or other staff to represent them in court. "Having them appear in court will also effectively promote the officials' awareness of the rule of law," said Prof. Jiang Ming'an of the Peking University. Participants in lawsuits, including government staff, will be fined or detained if they "force" a plaintiff to withdraw the suit through illegal means such as threats or fraud, it says. The revision also adds stipulations that more rights infringement cases are to be accepted by courts and actionable cases will no longer be confined to "specific administrative acts" -- in practice, an excuse for courts to throw out cases. The 1990 Administrative Procedure Law is a major guarantee for the citizens' right to pursue the government through the courts. Lawmakers said the amendment would provide a more solid legal foundation for administrative and judicial reform. Bai Zhijian, an NPC Standing Committee member, said the revised law would better protect the rights and interests of citizens and other organizations and ensure administration by law. ^ top ^

China passes Counterespionage Law (China Daily)
2014-11-01
China's top legislature adopted the Counterespionage Law Saturday aimed at more comprehensive state security. Members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) passed the bill through a vote at the closing of the bi-monthly legislative session. Formerly known as the National Security Law, it includes new rules that have proven effective in practice. The bill specifies espionage's definition: foreign organizations and individuals who conduct espionage activities or who instigate and sponsor others in conducting them will be punished, as will domestic organizations and individuals who spy on the country for foreign organizations and individuals. It grants national security agencies the authority to ask an organization or individual to stop or change activities considered harmful to national security. If they refuse or fail to do so, the agencies will be entitled to seal or seize related properties. The agencies are also entitled to seal and seize any device, money, venue, supplies and other properties that are related to espionage activities, according to the bill. They will be either confiscated by national security agencies or handed over to judicial departments. The illegal income and properties gained through knowingly hiding and fencing properties related to espionage will be confiscated, the bill says. However, lawmakers suggested regulating counterespionage power. It stipulates that "counterespionage work should proceed according to law, respect and ensure human rights, and guarantee the legal interests of citizens and organizations." Information and material obtained for counterespionage work should only be limited in the field, and confidentiality should be ensured regarding state and commercial secrets and personal privacy, the law says. It also bans illegally possessing special espionage instruments. In order to prevent law enforcement at discretion, the bill says whether something is considered an instrument of espionage should be confirmed by state security departments according to regulations. […] President Xi Jinping advocated an "overall national security outlook" at the first meeting of the central national security commission in April. Xi stressed that the challenges China faces in maintaining national security today are more diverse than they have ever been, as it has seen complicated internal and external situations. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping calls on the PLA to remember the past in fight against graft (SCMP)
2014-11-02
President Xi Jinping has called on the military to reflect on discipline and uphold its revolutionary tradition in the wake of a corruption scandal involving a fomer top general. Xi ordered more than 400 senior military officials, including leaders of the Central Military Commission (CMC), the army's four headquarters and seven key military commands as well as heads of military-related organisations to gather in the historically significant town of Gutian in Fujian province for a two-day conference that ended on Friday, Xinhua reported. Xi called for serious thought on the disciplinary and legal violations of disgraced former CMC vice-chairman Xu Caihou, telling the gathering that the lessons learned from Xu's case deserved profound reflection while the unfavourable influence of the case had to be thoroughly cleared away. Xu had confessed to taking bribes, military prosecutors announced last Tuesday. Political analysts said the meeting indicated that Xi, who is also chairman of the CMC, is facing some resistance to his ongoing anti-corruption campaign and reform of the PLA. "In Communist Party history, party heads can consolidate their political status in two ways, through ideological and military legitimacy," Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said. He said Xi had shown his control of ideology by chairing a forum of writers and artists last month. However, Xi had yet to gain full control over the PLA, since the party's fourth plenum did not promote his allies, Liu Yuan and Zhang Youxia, to CMC vice-chairmen, Zhang said. The PLA Daily reported separately that Xi had taken the military leaders to visit the venue of the historic Gutian Party Congress in 1929 and a memorial hall for Mao Zedong to reiterate the importance of upholding the traditional spirit of the PLA's predecessor, the Red Army. At that congress, Mao reaffirmed party leadership and proposed the principle of "the party leading the army", an important tenet in the history of the party and the PLA. Xi adopted that principle when he became head of the PLA two years ago. Xi also visited an experimental development zone in Pingtan county.Xi spent 17 years in official positions in Fujian. ^ top ^

Official confident China can contain domestic Ebola outbreak (Global Times)
2014-11-03
China is confident, capable and ready to battle a domestic Ebola outbreak as it strengthens preventative measures, said an official with China's health authority on Monday. Wang Wenjie with the National Health and Family Planning Commission said at a press conference that a national joint prevention and control mechanism can help China contain the disease in a timely manner in the event of an outbreak. China has not reported any confirmed cases of the virus, but experts say risks exist with the rise in international travel between China and African countries, said Wang. The official also revealed that there have been no confirmed Ebola cases in Chinese citizens living and working abroad or in Chinese medical workers helping to combat the disease in Africa. "China has devised contingency plans to give timely and effective treatment to Chinese citizens once there is a confirmed case abroad, including transferring patients back home if necessary," said Wang. [...] Starting from April this year, China has delivered three rounds of emergency relief materials to the affected countries. The fourth round is under way. In addition to providing funds, food, and disease prevention materials, China has also set up laboratories and holding centers and sent expert groups and medical teams to the affected countries. ^ top ^

China to reform anti-corruption bureau to help in the fight against graft (SCMP)
2014-11-04
The bureau that tries corrupt party members will receive more staff and see its status raised to the vice-ministerial level, senior legal official says. The central government has approved a plan to beef up the anti-graft team within the national prosecutors' office to better cope with the higher case load, state media has reported. Manpower levels at the General Office of Anti-Corruption would be increased, and its status would be raised to the level of vice-ministry, Qiu Xueqiang, deputy head of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, was quoted by Xinhua as saying. Experts said the reforms could better enable the office to take on high-ranking officials. The bureau, which was established in 1995, is responsible for prosecuting cases investigated by the Communist Party's graft-busters, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). Qiu said the bureau in its current form could not fulfil its duties and the reforms were needed to boost its "fighting capacity, credibility and agility". "The anti-corruption fight is going on everywhere. Either we take down corruption, or corruption takes us down," Qiu said in the Xinhua report, published late on Sunday. Wang, who heads the CCDI, said the party would continue to put pressure on cadres and gradually build effective systems so that they "don't want to be corrupt" and "can't be corrupt". Wang told more than 100 inspectors earlier in Beijing that wayward officials who were undeterred by the anti-corruption campaign would pay a price for their behaviour, according to a notice on the commission website. Zhuang Deshui, an anti-corruption expert at Peking University, said the reform would upgrade the bureau into a vice-ministerial body, and the number of staff increased and its functions expanded. "It will have a stronger capacity to handle important corruption cases," Zhuang said. "Meanwhile, it is also expected to deal with more cases relating to the offering of bribes - previously the focus was on those who took bribes." The new arrangement might also bolster the independence of local prosecutors to reduce possible interference by local governments, according to Zhuang. Professor Hu Xingdou at the Beijing Institute of Technology, however, said the revamp was not radical enough to ensure the office remained independent. "The new agency should be at least at the ministerial level so that it could deal with high-ranking officials," Hu said. ^ top ^

China to launch hack-proof quantum communication network in 2016 (SCMP)
2014-11-04
China will complete and put into service the world's longest quantum communication network stretching 2,000km from Beijing to Shanghai by 2016, say scientists leading the project. The quantum network is considered "unhackable" and will provide the most secure encryption technology to users. [...] China is the first major power to come up with a detailed schedule to put the technology into extensive, large-scale use.[...] Xinhua said the network would be used by the central government, military and critical business institutions like banks. [...] Edward Snowden's revelations last year that the US was targeting "network backbones", through which huge amounts of data are transmitted, convinced Chinese leaders that developing the next generation of internet infrastructure was a priority. A quantum communication network is, in theory, unbreakable. Any attempt to intercept the encryption key would alter the physical status of the quantum data, or qubits, and trigger an alert to the communicators. [...] The Beijing-Shanghai project was launched last year. Though the government has not revealed its budget, mainland scientists told state media that the construction cost would be 100 million yuan (HK$126 million) for every 10,000 users. ^ top ^

670,000 smog-related deaths a year: the cost of China's reliance on coal (SCMP)
2014-11-05
Smog caused by coal consumption killed an estimated 670,000 people in China in 2012, according to a study by researchers that tries to put a price tag on the environmental and social costs of the heavy reliance on the fuel. Damage to the environment and health added up to 260 yuan (HK$330) for each tonne produced and used in 2012, said Teng Fei, an associate professor at Tsinghua University. The 260 yuan is made up of two parts: the health cost and the environmental damage caused by mining and transporting coal. "With existing environmental fees and taxes of between 30 to 50 yuan for each tonne of coal, the country's current pricing system has largely failed to reflect the true costs," Teng said. Tiny particulate pollutants, especially those smaller than 2.5 micrograms (known as PM2.5), were linked to 670,000 premature deaths from four diseases - strokes, lung cancer, coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - in China in 2012, Teng said. That translated to an external cost of 166 yuan for each tonne of coal consumed. Authorities levied only about 5 yuan as a pollution fee per tonne of coal used by consumers including power companies and iron, steel and cement producers. Mining and transport add 94 yuan per tonne, including through damage to groundwater resources, subsidence, deaths and occupational diseases. Beijing is considering replacing pollution charges with more stringent environmental protection taxes, but progress on legislation has been slow. Li Guoxing, from Peking University's School of Public Health, said the full impact of coal use was still underestimated as the study did not take into account medical costs associated with other pollution-induced diseases such as asthma. […] The study found that in 2012, more than 70 per cent of the population was exposed to annual PM2.5 pollution levels higher than 35 micrograms per cubic metre, the country's benchmark for healthy air quality. The World Health Organisation sets its PM2.5 safety limit at an annual concentration of 10mcg/cubic metre. […] ^ top ^

No timetable for full relaxation on one-child policy in China (Xinhua)
2014-11-05
China currently has no plans to suspend or further relax its one-child policy, Zhao Yanpei, an official with the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), said Wednesday. The announcement means that couples, who both have sibling, are still bound by the one-child rule. Chinese couples with one spouse being an only child are now permitted to have two children, as part of the country's deepening reform plan hailed by the Communist Party of China (CPC) during the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee held in November 2013. The relaxation came as the world's second largest economy strives to address its declining labor force and aging population. Although 11 million couples have been granted a permit to have a second child since the country relaxed its family planning policy at the end of last year, only 700,000 of them have filed birth applications, according to the latest NHFPC statistics. "This number really falls short of our expectations," Zhao said. The government currently has no timetable for an overall easing on the one-child policy, but is carefully monitoring demographic changes for future policy adjustments, Zhao said. Under the one-child policy, many couples, particularly in China's countryside, had abortions as they prefer boys to girls. This led to a wide gender gap, for example in 2010 there were 118 male births to 100 female births. ^ top ^

China to boost IPR protection (Xinhua)
2014-11-05
The Chinese government on Wednesday vowed to boost intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in upgrading the country's economy. IPR protection is key for a country's development and competition and China will work to forge a better legal, market and cultural environment for IPR protection, said a statement issued after an executive meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. More efforts will be made to boost IPR protection and encourage innovation, and authorities should crack down on IPR violations, it said. Practice and innovation in patents, copyright and trademarks should be encouraged. The IPR application and maintenance costs for medium and small enterprises should be lowered, it said. A mechanism should be set up to evaluate IPR in the country's science and technology planning and to guard against IPR risks in key industrial planning and investment activities, it said. More financial policies should be made to help turn science and technology into production, it said. Meanwhile, the government also vowed to streamline administration and cut certain government approvals, which usually precede business license procedures. A better IPR mechanism can help encourage innovation across society, said Liu Haibo, a researcher with the Institute of Policy and Management under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. China has seen rising patent applications, but its overall IPR quality is not strong enough and lacks competitive edge, said Shen Changyu, head of the State Intellectual Property Office. China had the most invention patent applications in the world at the end of 2013 for the third year running, and its trademark applications also ranked the first globally at the end of 2013 for the 12th year in a row. However, among China's high and new technology exports in 2013, 73 percent were produced by foreign-funded enterprises and 65.3 percent were processing trade. ^ top ^

Supreme Court weighs rules to keep evidence within law (SCMP)
2014-11-06
The mainland's top court is drafting new guidelines on excluding illegally obtained evidence. It is hoped the move could help reduce confessions obtained through torture, but legal experts are sceptical given previous efforts have failed. The Supreme People's Court issued guidelines in 2010 on excluding illegally obtained evidence but there has not been any reported instance of such evidence being excluded from trial. The process drew criticism because it required defendants to provide evidence of torture. The new rules are an attempt to clarify court procedure. The court is also considering requiring police to present video of the entire interrogation process. It might decide that police evidence would be inadmissible if the officers did not testify in court, a source who has seen previous drafts of the guidelines told the South China Morning Post. Judges should also make timely decisions within hearing sessions on requests by the defence for the court to investigate whether evidence was obtained irregularly. "If these measures appear in the final guidelines, I believe a lot of the problems with confessions obtained through torture could be addressed," the source said. Work on the new guidelines began after President Xi Jinping took office in November 2012, the source said. "The key is whether there are clearly stated consequences holding violators of the … procedure accountable. It's something we are waiting to see in the final guidelines," the source said. "I'm rather optimistic." Hu Yunteng, a member of the final appeal board under the top court, told Thepaper.cn an online news portal owned by Shanghai United Media Group, the guideline was aimed at preventing the use of torture to obtain evidence. "From then on, should a defendant suggest certain evidence was secured through irregularities, courts must follow the procedural guidelines," Hu said. Dr Xu Xin, a law professor at Beijing Institute of Technology, said he doubted the new guidelines would be effective because none of the previous measures to curb such procedural problems had worked. Si Weijiang, a leading criminal lawyer, was also sceptical. "The judicial system needs a structural reform that raises its jurisdiction above … the police and the procuratorate or else it would continue to be a lame duck [unable] to hold police accountable for procedural irregularities," Si said. Song Yinghui, a legal scholar, told the news portal the rules would be concrete. "Excluding illegally obtained evidence is crucial in judicial reform," Song said. "In the past, police could … present a statement certifying the entire interrogation was legal even if defendants complained." ^ top ^

Zhou remains under Party disciplinary probe: official (Global Times)
2014-11-06
China's former security chief Zhou Yongkang is still under investigation by the Party's disciplinary watchdog and the probe will take time, a senior official from China's Ministry of Justice said on Wednesday, adding that the government is committed to announcing details of the case. China's government and top court have commented publicly on Zhou's case at least three times since the conclusion of the Fourth Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on October 23, which laid down a blueprint for guiding China by rule of law. Zhang Sujun, vice-minister of justice, told a press conference on Wednesday that the investigation is still ongoing, as the case must be based on solid evidence and developed in line with relevant laws and regulations. "Once relevant authorities have completed their probe, they will reveal [their results] to the public in an appropriate way," Zhang said. Zhou, former member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, was put under investigation by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) for "serious disciplinary violations" on July 29. He is the highest-ranking official to be investigated for corruption since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Jiang Bixin, deputy head of the Supreme People's Court, told a press conference on Saturday that legal proceedings against Zhou have not started. "If prosecuting bodies initiate a case, the Supreme People's Court will, without doubt, handle it in accordance with legal procedures," said Jiang. There were expectations among some that Zhou's case might be transferred to judicial organs at the end of the fourth plenum in October. [...] According to the Party's disciplinary rules, an investigation should be concluded within three months but investigators can ask for more time if the case is "significant" or "complicated." "Cases of high-ranking officials, like Zhou, usually implicate many people and [require a great deal of] evidence. Some may also relate to State secrets," Ni Xing, a professor with the Center for Anti-Corruption Studies of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, told the Global Times. The length of a disciplinary investigation also depends on the degree to which officials under investigation cooperate, Ni said. "The CCDI investigation into Zhou could take a long time because the Party needs to carefully review any offences they have found," a Beijing-based political scholar who wished to remain anonymous told the Global Times. [...] However, experts pointed out that the public should not worry about the possibility that a lengthy investigation of Zhou would allow him to escape punishment. "Not a single official has escaped punishment following the Party's announcement of an investigation," said the Beijing-based political scholar. Chen Zhonglin, a legal professor at Chongqing University, said that Zhou is likely to be tried publicly if he is prosecuted. "Open trials of corrupt officials are increasingly common, as it is a principle of the rule of the law and can boost public trust in the government." ^ top ^

China to speed up construction of new Silk Road: Xi (Xinhua)
2014-11-06
China will accelerate the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and strengthen cooperation with the countries involved, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced. "We should prepare timetables and road maps for the coming years for the 'One Belt and One Road' project," Xi said when presiding over the eighth meeting of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs on Tuesday. "We will focus on some significant projects and let the construction of 'One Belt and One Road' commence as soon as possible," said the president, adding that the cooperation between China and the countries involved would be mutually beneficial. Xi, who also heads the central leading group, said China would help partner countries with infrastructure projects, including transportation, electricity and telecommunications. China will launch projects that improve the countries involved and boost cultural and people-to-people exchanges, the president said. "'One Belt and One Road' is a huge and inclusive platform, which aims to combine the rapidly expanding Chinese economy with the benefits of all parties involved," Xi said. In addition, China will provide more foreign aid and encourage private capital to participate in the construction of "One Belt and One Road". A total of 21 Asian countries willing to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as founding members signed a memorandum of understanding in Beijing on Oct. 24. The authorized capital of the bank, with headquarters in Beijing, is 100 billion U.S. dollars. The AIIB was established to finance infrastructure constructions along the belt and road, said the president. Xi announced at the meeting that China will set up a Silk Road Fund with the aim of directly supporting the construction of "One Belt and One Road". No further details on the fund are available. "The AIIB and the Silk Road Fund are complementary rather than substitutive to global- and regional-development banks," said the president, adding that both the bank and the fund would work transparently and in accordance with international conventions. [...] ^ top ^

Xi Jinping shifts control of PLA audit office to military's top decision-making body (SCMP)
2014-11-07
The Central Military Commission has taken direct control of the PLA's audit office, the Defence Ministry announced yesterday, a move experts said would strengthen President Xi Jinping's campaign to root out graft in the army. The office was supervised by the military's General Logistics Department, which has come under scrutiny since its deputy chief, Gu Junshan, was charged with crimes including bribery and embezzlement. Gu was reportedly a close ally of disgraced retired top general Xu Caihou, who is expected to be indicted soon on bribery charges. The decision to change oversight of the office was made at a meeting on reforming the military's audit system and attended by top brass in Beijing yesterday, the ministry said. The order was signed by Xi, who is chairman of the CMC. PLA watchers hailed the move. "The new policy will stop the previous abnormal relationship between the audit office and the logistics department, which is responsible for almost all the army's expenditure, but also oversaw all auditing jobs," Beijing-based military expert Li Jie said. The logistics department is also responsible for the military's manufacturing wing, supply chain, transport, housing and medical services. "After the new rule, the audit office will be more independent … as it is now directly managed by the CMC," Li said. According to a statement on the website of the PLA Daily, the restructuring - part of the army's wider efficiency drive - would ensure reliable auditing. "This is a major decision made by chairman Xi... It's also a key measure to deepen national defence and military reform as well as to push forward innovation in the army's auditing system," the statement said. CMC vice-chairman Fan Changlong, who attended the meeting, urged audit officials to be professional and efficient. Dr Zeng Zhiping, a military law expert at the Nanchang Institute of Technology in Jiangxi, said the change would likely run into resistance from many senior officials and commanders in the logistics department. "Auditing work in the army is more complicated than [in] other government organs due to a lot of military secrets. The new measure will definitely face a lot of challenges if department heads refuse to cooperate with the auditors," Zeng said. The CMC last month approved a new "results-based" management system to better monitor spending within the People's Liberation Army. It's scheduled to be in place by 2020. Xi last week gathered 420 senior officers in Gutian in Fujian to strengthen the PLA's allegiance to the Communist Party. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing enforces traffic restriction for greener APEC (Xinhua)
2014-11-02
Beijing is committed to managing the flow of traffic, even banning certain government vehicles, in an effort to improve air quality during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, authorities said Sunday. According to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, starting Monday, 70 percent of the municipal government's vehicles, around 19,000 of its fleet, will face driving restrictions. An odd-even license plate policy for cars, including those from outside Beijing, will be put in place from Nov. 3 to 12. Depending on the license plate, cars will only be able to drive on alternating days throughout that period. Beijing imposed a traffic ban based on an odd-even license plate system during the 2008 Olympics, which saw 45 percent of the city's cars off the roads and helped clear the skies. The APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting is slated for Nov. 10 to 11. ^ top ^

Beijing IPR court to open this month (Xinhua)
2014-11-03
A special court for intellectual property rights (IPR) cases will open in Beijing early this month, said the Supreme People's Court (SPC) here Monday. Two similar courts in Shanghai and Guangzhou will open by the end of this year, said Wang Chuang, deputy head of the IPR division with the SPC. In August, China's top legislature approved the SPC's plan to set up three special courts for IPR cases in an effort to improve efficiency and quality of trials in IPR cases. The decision said that courts will focus largely on civil and administrative lawsuits regarding patents, new plant varieties, integrated circuit layout design and technological knowledge. A regulation issued by the SPC on Monday added computer software to the list. Wang explained that courts at lower levels often do not have the technical support for computer software cases, which is why the IPR court will step in. According to him, the IPR court in Beijing will mainly hear administrative cases, in which plaintiffs sue governments for IPR violations. The IPR courts in Shanghai and Guangzhou will mainly hear civil cases. [...] Chinese courts hear about 110,000 IPR cases annually and the number will continue to increase, he said. "IPR courts in China are very likely to be the busiest in the world," he said. ^ top ^

Beijing's short-term fixes fail to address real causes of pollution (SCMP)
2014-11-04
Temporarily shutting factories and other short-term measures not the answer, experts say.
Having attracted unwelcome global coverage for hosting an international marathon in toxic haze last month, mainland leaders will be less than pleased if the capital is again shrouded in smog when it hosts the Apec summit this week. [...] The official pollution reading in Huairou district, where the venues are located, showed the Air Quality Index (AQI) was 263 at about 11am on October 19. A reading above 300 is deemed hazardous. In central Beijing, the AQI was 358, while the US embassy's monitoring equipment, on the busy third ring road, recorded 403. Near the venue at Yanqi Lake, concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 - tiny particles that can pass through the lungs, threatening a person's respiratory and cardiac health - were 213 and 277 micrograms per cubic metre, respectively. That's about two-thirds of the levels in the city, but still eight and five times the levels recommended by the World Health Organisation. [...] In recent weeks, Beijing and its immediate neighbours have stepped up efforts to reduce air pollution by temporarily shutting factories and construction sites and reducing the number of cars on the roads. At 8pm yesterday, the AQI in central Beijing was 62 and in Huairou district it was 60. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum is China's highest profile event since the 2008 Olympics. [...] While hundreds of factories will stand idle in Beijing and surrounding Hebei province, whether the smog returns to the capital during the summit depends largely on the weather. Beijing's environmental and meteorological authorities held a third joint meeting on October 24 to fine-tune weather and pollution forecasts ahead of the summit. [...] However, experts say the repeated use of such measures to lift smog for political reasons may do more harm than good to the mainland's pledge to clean up its air pollution in the long run. Ma Jun, of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said local officials risked losing the impetus in tackling polluters if they found they could order them to suspend production for short-term purposes. [...] Professor Song Guojun of Renmin University in Beijing said the repeated adoption of temporary measures showed the mainland had failed in managing the environment. Ma said authorities should take advantage of the temporary political will to ensure good air quality at key events and turn it into permanent action. "Because long-term public health should be at least as important as hosting grand events," he said. ^ top ^

Beijingers prefer traveling in APEC holiday (Xinhua)
2014-11-06
Residents in Beijing are traveling outside of the city during the six-day holiday designated by the government for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, mainly to warmer places with cleaner air. Data from travel agencies show tour sales have seen tremendous growth compared with the same period of last year since the government announced the Nov. 7-12 public holiday early last month, with APEC meetings scheduled in the city around that time. Sun Liqun, manager of China International Travel Service, told Xinhua that sales of domestic travel bookings doubled versus the same period last year. "Outbound trips, mainly to Southeast Asia, have also risen by almost 40 percent." According to Ctrip.com, another major agency, the eastern and southern parts of China have attracted the most tourists. "We have launched products catered to high-speed bullet train passengers. The sales are more than 10 times higher than in the same period of last year," said Zhang Hui, a manager of Ctrip.com. As an added bonus, traveling during the period is cheaper than normal as it is normally the low season following the annual "golden week" National Day holiday from Oct. 1 to 7. "As sales went up recently, air tickets are more expensive now, but the prices of hotels and local traffic remain about the same as last year. So, all in all, the prices are more attractive than during the National Day holiday," said Sun Liqun. ^ top ^

Beijing mobilizes police, civilians for APEC security (Xinhua)
2014-11-07
Beijing police said they will deploy 28,000 police officers each day starting Thursday as the Chinese capital raises security for this week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting. Another 800,000 civilians will be mobilized to aid in security in the city, said an official with the Beijing Municipal Security Bureau (BMSB). The official said all police officers will be put on duty to crack down on crime and guard the city against terrorism. Motorcycle police, police dogs, surveillance video and other security measures will be stepped up in downtown areas. Meanwhile, checkpoints and temporary roadblocks have been added to strengthen checks on vehicles and people entering Beijing. BMSB said earlier they had seized 1,003 suspects, 1,235.3 grams of drugs, 881 kilograms of dangerous chemicals, more than 1,000 knives, and illegal fireworks through vehicle checks. In downtown Beijing, 161 police stations are equipped with bulletproof helmets, knife-proof uniforms and explosion-proof blankets. Police also bought a medium-sized helicopter capable of taking high-definition pictures and carrying more relief. A series of APEC meetings bearing the theme "Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership" will be held from Nov. 5 to 11 in Beijing, one of the city's highest-profile international events since the 2008 Olympics. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangzhou OKs foreign cash for NGOs (Global Times)
2014-11-07
Authorities in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province have issued a new regulation for the city's fast growing non-governmental sector, deleting a draft clause stipulating that NGOs that receive overseas funds or are "under de facto management" by overseas organizations should be shut down. Analysts and NGO professionals said that it is a positive signal from the government that will encourage the development of NGOs. According to the regulation, which will take effect in 2015, NGOs will only need to submit a report to management authorities 15 days before obtaining overseas funds. The report should include information on the form, scale, participants, time, location, and budget of their activities. The regulation has been amended following a controversial draft published in late 2013. The draft stipulated that any local NGOs, if their funds mainly derive from overseas organizations, will be regarded as a branch of an overseas organization in Guangzhou or as under its de facto management. These NGOs, along with others that share the same logo, name and similar businesses with overseas organizations, should be shut down, read the draft. From October 22 to 25 this year, Guangzhou-based ngocn.net conducted a survey on the draft document. Some respondents said the definition of illegal NGOs is vague, and could lead to panic in the non-profit sector. Several Guangzhou NGOs reached by the Global Times revealed that they have received overseas funds. Wang Jiangsong, a professor of labor relations with the China Institute of Industrial Relations, told the Global Times that compared with the draft, the formal regulation is a progressive move, as the Guangzhou government officially admitted that it is legal for NGOs to accept overseas funds and will promote the development of local NGOs. [...] Guangzhou-based NGOs previously needed to pass an annual inspection and would be shut down if they failed in two consecutive years. The stipulation was canceled in the formal document. NGOs still need to submit an annual report for inspection, but a detailed financial audit report is no longer required. "While welcoming overseas funds, it is also important to prevent the infiltration of overseas forces. We should open more domestic financing channels for NGOs to achieve that," said Wang. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Dalai Lama backers among officials to be punished (Global Times)
2014-11-05
Authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region pledged to punish officials who follow the Dalai Lama and support activities of splitting the country, after receiving feedback from inspectors of the Communist Party of China's (CPC) discipline watchdog on Monday. "Some officials have failed to take a firm political stand and some grass-root officials in the region were found to have serious corruption issues," said Ye Dongsong, head of an inspection team of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). Ye stressed that "the Tibet Autonomous Region enjoys no exception in the anti-graft campaign." Ye required the regional government to focus on neutralizing separatists and maintaining social stability, crack down on corruption and strictly monitor projects in the region. In response to the CCDI inspection team's report, Chen Quanguo, Party chief of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, said that the anti-separatism campaign should be strengthened and will severely punish those officials who are more concerned with their personal welfare, or those who still want to follow the Dalai Lama group or support separatism. "Some officials in Tibet still sympathize with the Dalai Lama. They continue to support the Dalai Lama out of their religious beliefs," said Xiong Kunxin, a professor with the Minzu University of China, adding that those officials also support the Dalai Lama's separatism activities. Xiong noted that those officials support the Dalai Lama's renewed push for a high-degree of autonomy in Tibet to drive away the Han people. "Such officials should not be tolerated," he said. Apparently, Western countries support this idea, which made the Tibet issue more international, said Xiong. People should be encouraged to report on such dangerous trend among officials, Xiong said. Since July, 13 inspection teams were dispatched by the central discipline inspection agency to 10 regions including Tibet, Zhejiang, Sichuan and Jiangsu, to weed out corruption and close loopholes in Party and government work. An inspection team in Zhejiang Province also found some local Party members allegedly embraced religious beliefs. In China, Party members are banned from joining religions. In the past few months, local officials in Zhejiang demolished several churches. Another inspection team revealed problems in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, saying that it has mismanaged research funds. It also said land meant for scientific research was used for commercial purposes without prior approval. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Federation of Students now Hong Kong's most popular political group, poll finds (SCMP)
2014-11-05
The Federation of Students is the city's most popular and best-known political group, according to a University of Hong Kong poll carried out amid pro-democracy street protests that the federation has been leading. The poll, conducted from October 20 to 23, found 89.2 per cent of 1,013 people knew of the group and gave it an average support rating of 47.7 points out of 100. But in a poll by Polytechnic University, nearly three-quarters of respondents felt that now was the right time to stop the civil disobedience action. Nearly half wanted the campaign to end because they said it had affected the economy and livelihoods. The prolonged protests have apparently dragged down the pan-democratic and pro-establishment camps, with every political group except the federation recording drops in popularity in the HKU poll. "All political groups have become losers in the Occupy movement," said Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, head of the HKU public opinion programme. The federation's poll showing was remarkable, considering it had never ranked among the 12 most recognised political groups before - and so had never had its popularity rated. Federation leaders took part in televised talks with government officials in an attempt to resolve the protest stalemate. Chung said the public ought to review significant events of the past months and "make their own judgments" about the federation's surge in recognition. The Beijing-friendly Federation of Trade Unions was the second most popular group, despite dropping 8.2 points to 42.6. The pan-democratic Civic Party, Democratic Party and Labour Party fell the most in support ratings, dropping by around 9 points. The Democrats, Civic Party and Confederation of Trade Unions as well as the pro-establishment FTU and Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong all recorded their lowest ever poll ratings. In PolyU's poll, carried out last weekend, more than a third of the 554 respondents said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his ministers should be responsible for the prolonged protests. The HKU poll on the support ratings has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 points, while the one for the PolyU poll is plus or minus 4.16 percentage points. ^ top ^

Plan for Legco by-elections as 'referendum' on reform looks a non-starter (SCMP)
2014-11-05
A proposal to trigger Legco by-elections as a "de facto referendum" to break the impasse of the Occupy movement is unlikely to go ahead. The idea, floated by student leaders of the protest movement, has not been welcomed by pan-democratic lawmakers, who are either unsure of their chances of being re-elected or fret over what to do with the voting results. With the government showing no sign of compromise on electoral reform, student leaders such as Alex Chow Yong-kang and Joshua Wong Chi-fung have said that by-elections would serve as a way to take the movement to the next level. "The elections will be an opportunity to reach out to those outside the occupation zones, and to educate the public about our cause and the reform," Chow said. Wong's Scholarism, meanwhile, has held discussions with the crowd in Admiralty for the past three nights. The students propose that either one or five lawmakers resign to trigger a by-election or by-elections, with the main campaign theme whether the government should restart public consultation on electoral reform. There are two ways to trigger a city-wide vote. Under the first, five legislators, one from each geographical constituency, would resign. Under the second, one of the five lawmakers holding a "super seat", for whom 3.2 million voters would be eligible to vote, would stand down. Some legislators share the students' vision, such as Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan, who said he "tended to support" triggering a de facto referendum. […] But Lee said he and some colleagues were also struggling to answer a question: what if the voting results are not favourable? "We should be bound by the results if we say it is a referendum. But if the turnout is low, should we accept the reform framework laid down by Beijing?" Even if politicians are ready to be bound by the results, most worry about the risks of them being absent from the chamber, especially if five resign. […] ^ top ^

Regina Ip proposes giving seats on nominating committee to students (SCMP)
2014-11-06
The Beijing-friendly New People's Party has suggested giving students seats on the nominating committee that picks candidates for the 2017 chief executive election. In a proposal rejected by the students and branded "idiotic" by one protester, party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said the agriculture and fisheries representatives on the committee could be reduced to make way for younger people. "Our party is strongly of a view that we should give votes to young people and women since they are under-represented on the existing Election Committee," Ip said after meeting Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and other officials. "The government could do so by reducing the 60 votes available to the agriculture and fisheries" subsector. Party vice-chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun said the reason so many young people joined the Occupy movement was that their voices could not be heard. Taking part in civil disobedience had therefore become their only way to make their voices heard, he said. Ip said the Federation of Students could be allocated seats as it had a long history of representing university students. But federation deputy secretary general Lester Shum said there was very little room for negotiation as long as the restrictions imposed by Beijing on the nominating process remained. [...] In the Election Committee that selected the chief executive in 2012 - which is to be used as a model for the nominating committee - 60 seats for the agricultural and fisheries subsector were elected by 159 organisations, an arrangement slammed by critics as a "small-circle election". Leo Cheung, a civil engineer who supports the students, said giving the federation seats in the committee would only establish another "small circle" within it. "The nominating committee, in its original form, should reflect all citizens' public opinion and not just some," he said. Former office worker Vivian Chan Yin-Wan, 43, said that even if the committee included young people, it would still not be representative. "At the very least, the voters should get to choose who's on the nominating committee." Party leader Ip said she expected the electoral reform proposal would be put to a vote in the legislature in June as the second round of consultation is expected to begin by the end of this year. Meanwhile, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on his official blog yesterday hailed the police force as "the last line of defence" of Hongkongers' stable living and the "guarantor of Hong Kong's social order". Leung said he appreciated the stress police officers were experiencing on the streets as occupiers openly defied the law and court orders. ^ top ^

HK at crossroads to future development: LegCo president (Xinhua)
2014-11-06
President of Hong Kong's Legislative Council (LegCo) Tsang Yok-sing has said that the Special Administrative Region is now at the crossroads to its future development. Tsang, who has served as chief of the legislative body since October 2008, made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Monday. He said nobody in Hong Kong has foreseen the Occupy would evolve into the current state. "The longer it lasts, the more dangerous it could be," he added. Tsang noted that although rule of law is one of Hong Kong's core values and also the cornerstone of its society, some people in Hong Kong take it for granted without thinking if someone's behavior is in line with the principle. Regarding the election of the region's next chief executive in 2017, Tsang said universal suffrage should be realized by making every effort possible so that Hong Kong could have a breakthrough of governance. He said, "The Occupy movement has postponed the opportunity for all circles to discuss Hong Kong's constitutional reform." "Hong Kong is at the crossroads, and how we take the next step is vital," Tsang said, adding that the impact on Hong Kong would be unimaginable if the related reform plan could not be approved by the Legislative Council. ^ top ^

Stocks 'through train' gets 'positive' response but no green light from Beijing (SCMP)
2014-11-06
Hong Kong's lobbying for Beijing's approval to directly link the city's stock exchange with the one in Shanghai received nothing but a vague "positive" response from the central government, said the city's top officials, who have spent the past three days trying to make a case for the link to mainland leaders. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, who headed a high-level delegation to Beijing, said he told officials that Hong Kong was ready and wanted to start the "through train" scheme as soon as possible. But he admitted not knowing when the scheme would get the go-ahead. "The relevant authorities responded positively," he said. Tsang said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying would again take up the issue with the central government when he visits Beijing next week for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. The scheme's launch date has become the subject of intense speculation in both Hong Kong and Shanghai. Premier Li Keqiang, when announcing the scheme in April, said it could be ready in six months. When asked why it had not started last month, Tsang said the date was only "market speculation". He refused to say what the remaining obstacles were or whether the scheme could be launched by the end of the year. "Hong Kong is ready anytime. We are waiting," he repeated. He said the authorities in Shanghai and Hong Kong had done a lot of preparation and solved all the technical problems. The stocks through train would allow investors to conduct cross-border share trading up to a quota of 550 billion yuan (HK$700 billion). [...] ^ top ^

CY Leung says Hong Kong is in discussions with Beijing over latest Cepa trade deal (SCMP)
2014-11-07
Hong Kong and Guangdong are still working to tear down more barriers to cross-border trade in services, leaders of the two governments said yesterday, as business chiefs bemoaned the long wait for details of the agreement. A scheme first touted in 2011 to allow Hong Kong businesses easier access to the Guangdong market in a range of services is under discussion, but no details emerged from the latest meeting between the two sides. Guangdong Governor Zhu Xiaodan said the pilot scheme, scheduled to be implemented this year, was still awaiting approval from the central government, although he said good progress had been made. "We are still trying to secure the endorsement from the Commerce Department," Zhu said after attending the 17th cooperation meeting between the two governments in Guangzhou. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the measure was important, as 90 per cent of Hong Kong's gross domestic product came from service industries. "We hope to further remove the limitations Hong Kong businesses face when they enter the Guangdong and even the [overall] mainland market," he said. Leung added that the city government was in discussions over the plan with Beijing under the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa), the cross-border free-trade agreement. Yesterday, the parties signed five agreements on cooperation in such areas as the creation of a new research and development institutions, cultural exchanges and weather technology. [...] "According to existing rules, Hong Kong products can only be traded in Guangdong province. Lawyers setting up businesses on the mainland are also required to look for partnerships with mainland lawyers," Lau said. Under Cepa, most products designed and manufactured in Hong Kong are exempt from mainland tariffs. [...] Referring to the Occupy protests, Zhu said they would not affect the governments' efforts to deepen cooperation. "Although something that neither Hong Kong nor Guangdong wanted to see has taken place in Hong Kong, the meeting went ahead. [It] means that the cooperation between the two places will not necessarily be interfered with," Zhu said. ^ top ^

After Occupy, Beijing to pay more heed to 'two systems', but stress 'one country' (SCMP)
2014-11-07
Beijing will pay more respect to the "two systems" element of the post-handover formula for Hong Kong while also stressing its "one country" aspect in the wake of the Occupy protests, a source familiar with the central government's thinking says. Beijing would make "appropriate adjustments" in its policy towards the city, said the mainland official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Noting that young people formed the backbone of the protests, the official said Beijing wanted to improve Hong Kong youngsters' understanding of the nation's history and development. [...] "The central government is now attaching more importance to the Hong Kong question and will make appropriate adjustments in its policy towards the city," the official said. "We need to stress more on 'one country' while paying more respect to the differences between 'two systems'," the official said, of the "one country, two systems" formula, without giving details of how this might be done. The official said the protests had achieved the students' goal of getting their voices heard by Beijing and they should now end their action as soon as possible. Although the official said Beijing would not retreat from the strict framework it laid out for the 2017 chief executive election - the spark for the protests that began nearly six weeks ago - the remarks were hailed as refreshing. Professor Ray Yep Kin-man, of City University's department of public policy, said they contrasted with the tough stance of many national officials in their public remarks. [...] Zhang Dinghuai, deputy director of Shenzhen University's Centre for Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macau, said there was a need to put more stress on the concept of "one country" and that national education was one way of doing so. "Hong Kong needs to have a unified national education whose contents are accepted by the majority of the people. Unless you have a better understanding of China, the conflicts will not decrease," he said. "Chinese history is another subject that we need to strengthen. That will help the young people understand more about the country." [...] ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Xi welcomes more Taiwan business to tap into mainland (Xinhua)
2014-11-02
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the pilot development zone in Pingtan in southeast China's Fujian Province over the weekend, during which he championed the flow of Taiwan's products to the mainland. The pilot zone was established in 2009 to improve cross-Strait business cooperation. During his visit Xi urged local officials to continue to be innovative and to preserve the healthy cross-Strait business and industrial cooperation environment. Xi visited a local factory affiliated to TPK, a touch solution provider from Taiwan, where a meeting with Taiwanese entrepreneurs was held. He said during the meeting that "the mainland has a large population, a broad market and a wide scope of industries, thus, it is big enough for Taiwan products and enterprises". Xi said he hoped the entrepreneurs would continue to contribute to the economic cooperation and peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. He also boarded a ferry that was about to leave for Taiwan, greeting tourists and encouraging them to take more cross-Strait trips to improve mutual relations. ^ top ^

Taiwan defence minister inspects Taiping garrison in disputed Spratlys (SCMP)
2014-11-06
Taiwanese Defence Minister Yen Ming inspected Taiping Island in the South China Sea yesterday, a move seen as an assertion by Taipei of its sovereignty over the largest of the disputed Spratly Islands. The inspection tour came a day after Taiwan staged live-fire drills on Taiping, which drew protests from Vietnam, one of six claimants to the highly contested South China Sea archipelago. Joined by Taiwan's coastguard chief Wang Chin-wang, military officials and members of the legislature's foreign affairs and defence committee, Yen boarded a military plane for his first visit to Taiping as defence minister, military officials said. "The main purpose of the inspection was to assess the defence preparedness of the coastguard garrison there and progress on the construction of our installation on Taiping," a defence ministry officer said. The officer was tightlipped over what exactly Yen was inspecting on Taiping. But the office of Chiu Chih-wei, a legislator from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, said the inspection covered the combat readiness of troops, artillery tests, the renovation of a runway and construction of a new pier for naval vessels of up to 3,000 tonnes. Chiu, convener of the legislature's foreign affairs and defence committee, asked Yen last month to inspect Taiping and report to lawmakers on how well prepared the military was to defend the island amid rising tensions in the South China Sea. An aide to Chiu said the garrison staged an artillery drill for Yen without live fire due to the sensitivity of the minister's visit. On Monday and Tuesday, the coastguard staged live-fire drills on Taiping, which Vietnam protested would raise tensions. Taiwanese foreign ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao said yesterday that Taiwan had every right to launch the exercise in its own territory. The drills were merely a "routine exercise" held annually by Taiwan "without expanding its scale", she added. The Spratly Islands, known in mainland China as the Nansha Islands, are claimed wholly or in part by Taiwan, mainland China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The islands lie between southern Vietnam and the Philippine island province of Palawan. ^ top ^

Mainland tourists to Taiwan up 43 pct in first nine months (Xinhua)
2014-11-06
Chinese mainland visitors to Taiwan reached 2.39 million in the first nine months of 2014, up 42.86 percent year on year, a mainland official said on Thursday. The number of individual tourists from the Chinese mainland to Taiwan hit 835,400 in the same period, a rise of 140 percent year on year, said Liu Kezhi, secretary general of the mainland-based Association for Tourism Exchange across the Taiwan Straits. Mainland people who signed up for organized group package tours to Taiwan reached 1.56 million in the first nine months, Liu said at a press conference on the Taipei tourism exhibition, which will open Friday. The exhibition, co-organized by the Association for Tourism Exchange across the Taiwan Straits and the Taiwan Visitor Association, will see a 650-strong delegation from the tourism industries of the mainland's 29 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. The Taipei tourism exhibition has served as a vital platform to boost cooperation between tourist industries across the Strait since it was initiated in 2006, said Liu. The number of Taiwan visitors to the mainland has maintained steady growth, with 3.97 million traveling to the mainland in the first nine months of 2014, or an increase of 3.6 percent year on year, he said. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

North Korea 'could double nuclear capacity' with new nuclear plant (SCMP)
2014-11-05
North Korea is operating a new nuclear facility that could double its known capacity to produce uranium-enriched fuel for nuclear weapons, a South Korean news report said on Wednesday. The move, if true, would be a further step in defiance of international pressure on Pyongyang to end its nuclear programme in the form of layers of UN sanctions. The new facility sits right next to a plant where in 2010 the North allowed a team of US nuclear experts to tour what one described as a sophisticated and “industrial-scale” uranium enrichment facility. “We've discovered the plant has recently been completed and is now in operation,” South Korea's Joongang newspaper, a mainstream daily, quoted a government official who handles intelligence on North Korea as saying. Images taken by US intelligence authorities with cameras mounted with heat sensors revealed indicators pointing to the operation of centrifuges inside the plant, the official was quoted as saying. South Korea's Foreign Ministry, which is involved in the monitoring and negotiations over the North's nuclear activities, did not immediately comment. The plant, if operational and producing weapons-grade uranium, could sharply boost the North's ability to build nuclear arms by way of a second route to obtain fissile material in addition to its stockpile of plutonium. The North is believed to have made advances in trying to build an atomic bomb, with three test detonations of nuclear devices, but is still believed to be working on the technology to miniaturise a nuclear warhead to mount on a delivery system. The commander of the US military in South Korea has said he believed the North has the capability to build a nuclear warhead that can be mounted on a ballistic missile although there was no test or evidence that it had taken that step. North Korea took a team led by Siegfried Hecker, Stanford University professor and a former head of the US Los Alamos National Laboratory, to its Yongbyon nuclear site and showed them a facility its officials said contained 2,000 centrifuges. Hecker said he had no way of verifying that number or whether the equipment was working but said it was likely the North was capable of running the facility as it claimed. He estimated the North had enough plutonium left for four to eight weapons. It was possible it had mastered the technology for both the plutonium and highly enriched uranium bombs, he said. ^ top ^

DPRK leader emphasizes importance of reinforcing army battalions (Xinhua)
2014-11-05
Top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong Un, has ordered strengthening of the construction of battalions of the Korean People's Army (KPA), the official KCNA news agency reported Wednesday. Kim made the urge in a speech delivered at the third meeting of KPA battalion commanders and political instructors held on Nov. 3-4. In the speech, Kim said the session was a landmark in applying former DPRK leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il's idea of reinforcing battalions and ushering in a heyday of bolstering up the military muscle. He stressed the importance of the position and duties of battalions in increasing military capability and expected all battalion commanders and political instructors to strive to build the battalions into "invincible elite combat ranks capable of beating back any formidable enemy at one blow." At the meeting, Chief of the KPA General Staff Ri Yong Gil declared a decree issued by the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly to award titles of hero and medals to five outstanding battalion commanding officers. ^ top ^

North Korean association in Japan loses appeal over forced sale of its HQ (SCMP)
2014-11-06
Chongryun, the association that represents North Korean residents of Japan, is running out of ways to keep its most prized asset after the Supreme Court ruled that the sale of its headquarters to a Japanese real estate developer would go ahead. The dismissal of the appeal by Chongryun represents "a serious loss of face" for the organisation and the North Korean leadership, according to analysts, and could even serve to weaken links between the regime's citizens in Japan and their homeland. "They have not made any official comments yet but it is clear that this will be a major disappointment because it is such a serious loss of face," Ken Kato, a Tokyo-based human rights activist, said. "I also hope that North Koreans living in Japan … are able to stand up against the regime. Many of them have relatives in North Korea and they are effectively held as hostages to ensure that the people here send back 'donations' that are then spent on developing missiles and nuclear weapons," Kato said. "I hope they wake up to the reality." Representatives of Chongryun could not be contacted but sources said last month that retaining a building that served as an embassy in Japan had been made a priority by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Chongryun leader Ho Jong-man visited North Korea for the first time in eight years in October and, although he was not able to meet him in person, was handed a personal letter from Kim. One of the instructions in the letter was to secure the continued use of the Chongryun headquarters in Tokyo. The Supreme Court's decision makes that target effectively impossible and will not go down well in Pyongyang. The legal decision is in favour of Marunaka Holdings, which had lodged a bid of 2.21 billion yen (HK$149.5 million) for the building and the prime 2,387 square metre plot that it occupies in Chiyoda Ward. Moves to sell the building began in March after the government-backed Resolution and Collection called in loans amounting to more than 62 billion yen that it had extended to the residents' association. Chongryun initially attempted to sell the property to a Kagoshima-based religious order that would permit the organisation to remain in residence. It was later alleged that the temple had links to underworld groups. The deal fell through when the temple was unable to raise the funds. The next bidder was a mysterious Mongolian company known as Avar that was using an address in Ulan Bator but had no presence at the building and had never previously purchased a property in Japan. Analysts believe it was a front for the North Korean government. That transaction was blocked by authorities in Japan for a lack of transparency, triggering a third round of bidding. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolian parliament ousts PM Norov Altankhuyag amid slump (SCMP)
2014-11-05
Mongolia's parliament voted yesterday to remove prime minister Norov Altankhuyag amid concerns about a serious economic downturn as gold, copper and coal prices slump along with foreign direct investment. Out of 66 members of parliament who voted, 34 were in favour of ousting Altankhuyag, Mongolian television showed. Ten members of parliament, including eight members of his own coalition government, did not show up. It will now be up to the coalition government to select a new candidate, who will have to be approved by the president and confirmed by parliament. The government has been in turmoil over the past month. Seven ministers, including the ministers of mining and foreign relations, resigned after Altankhuyag won parliamentary approval to consolidate ministries from 16 down to 13. That led to calls from the opposition Mongolian People's Party for the prime minister to stand down, and finally people from his own government demanded his resignation. The political fight has distracted the government of the resource-rich country, landlocked between Russia and China, from passing a budget. Parliament rejected a budget proposal for the second time on October 31, amid criticism of exorbitant spending and overly optimistic economic projections. Mongolia's Fiscal Stability Law takes full effect next year, which will cap the country's debt at below 40 per cent of gross domestic product. "It's quite clear that whoever will run next year will have big, big trouble even paying state employees' salaries," said Luvsanvandan Sumati of the Sant Maral polling group. Key to reviving foreign investment, which has slumped 59 per cent this year, is a resolution of a long-running dispute over the huge Oyu Tolgoi copper mine. Mongolia shares ownership with mining giant Rio Tinto. Rio suspended work on a US$5.4 billion expansion in August last year because of disagreements on construction costs. Altankhuyag had been expected to sign a memorandum of understanding before bankers release US$4 billion in financing to help pay for the expansion. China bought more than 90 per cent of Mongolia's exports, mainly of coal and copper, and 49 per cent of foreign enterprises registered in Mongolia were Chinese, Xinhua reported in August. ^ top ^

 

Mrs. Petra Salome Merki
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.
 
Page created and hosted by SinOptic Back to the top of the page To SinOptic - Services and Studies on the Chinese World's Homepage