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
  8-14.11.14, No. 549  
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Foreign Policy

China, neighbors vow to strengthen connectivity, deepen cooperation (Xinhua)
2014-11-08
China and its neighbors pledged on Saturday to enhance connectivity and deepen practical cooperation to seek Asia's common development. Chinese President Xi Jinping, along with leaders of seven other neighboring countries and two international organizations, reached consensus on a host of measures to boost regional connectivity, ranging from speeding up infrastructure construction to innovating financing mechanism, according to a joint press communique released at the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings. The communique came after a dialogue meeting on strengthening connectivity and improving cooperation in China's neighborhood. Xi chaired the dialogue which was attended by leaders of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Tajikistan, and representatives of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. According to the communique, the signatories recognize that strengthening connectivity is consistent with the trend of times and represents a common necessity for all Asian countries. They also believe that strengthening connectivity involves work in five areas, including policy communication, infrastructure connectivity, trade link, capital flow and understanding among peoples with the infrastructure development being the basis and priority. "Strengthening connectivity, which is conductive to identifying new growth point and fostering new competitive edge, offers new driving force for Asian cooperation and sustained prosperity," the document said. The communique also hailed the building of "One Belt and One Road," or the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, saying the initiative will inject strong impetus in enhancing political mutual trust, deepening economic cooperation and promoting cultural and people-to-people exchanges among relevant countries. At the dialogue, Xi, in his five-point proposal aimed at promoting inter-connected development in the Asia-Pacific region, said China will contribute 40 billion U.S. dollars to set up a Silk Road Fund. "We welcome and appreciate China's announcement of creating the Silk Road Fund to provide investment and financing support for Asian countries' participation in connectivity cooperation," the communique said. The signatories are resolved to intensify efforts in transportation infrastructure development, shape an open economic landscape in Asia with unwavering commitment to open regionalism, as well as adopt a people-centered and development oriented approach for the realization of prosperity, the document said. It stipulated that China and its dialogue partners are committed to improving institutions and mechanisms to help develop cooperation platform with distinctive Asian characteristics. The signatories support efforts of China and relevant countries to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a complement to the existing financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, according to the communique. ^ top ^

China, Canada announce cooperation agreements during Harper's visit (Xinhua)
2014-11-09
China and Canada on Sunday published a document listing a series of agreements signed by the two countries during Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's China visit this week, including ones on jointly combating corruption and on Renminbi clearing service. Harper is in China for a five-day official visit and attending events related to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting. According to the China-Canada Joint List of Outcomes, Harper has met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and top legislator Zhang Dejiang. Some 20 agreements were signed between the two countries during Harper's visit, the document read, including the establishment of mechanisms of the foreign ministers' annual dialogue and the economic and financial strategic dialogue. The central banks of the two countries also signed a bilateral currency swap agreement and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish Renminbi clearing arrangements in Canada, in a bid to support the use of local currencies in trade and investment. Chinese regulators will grant an initial of 50 billion yuan (8.2 billion U.S. dollars) quota of investment to Canadian financial institutions under the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (RQFII) program, the document read. A dialogue to study new approaches to enhance energy trade will be set up and an expanded MOU on nuclear cooperation between China and Canada was also signed. The two countries also agreed to establish new direct air links between Beijing and Calgary, Montreal, and announced increased cooperation in the health sector. […] Cooperation on combating transnational crime and corruption in accordance with the two countries' respective law are also to be enhanced. […] Other agreements signed during Harper's visit involved trade services, market access of agricultural products, air transport and visa application. […] ^ top ^

Australia-China free-trade agreement moves closer after signing new billion-dollar deal (Global Times)
2014-11-10
Australia and China are set to complete a second, multi-billion dollar trade deal within a week, reaching an agreement to lift exports and cut the price of some consumer goods. The announcement comes as a historic free-trade agreement between the two countries grows ever closer, with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirming on Monday she was "optimistic" that a deal will come to fruition in the coming days. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chinese President Xi Jinping will finalize the new agreement next week at the G20 summit, which is expected to inject in excess of 15 billion US dollars into Australia's economy over the next decade. Tariffs will be removed from Australia's biggest mineral and energy exports as a result of the new deal, while food producers will benefit from an increase in horticulture exports. Australian legal, design and financial firms will also have increased access to Chinese markets and, in turn, Chinese investors will have a greater influence on the Australian share market due to relaxed investment rules. The news comes as Bishop announced free trade agreements with Beijing were reaching a conclusion. Australia has been in long-term negotiations with China regarding an agreement and, following 130 billion USdollars worth of two-way trade in the last financial year, an official announcement is expected imminently. "It's looking very positive," Bishop told Fairfax Media. "[ Trade minister] Andrew Robb assures me that the areas of negotiation have narrowed significantly, so we are quite optimistic, but there's not an agreement until everything's agreed. " "They're continuing to negotiate and I believe that some considerable progress has been made of recent days, so we will obviously push for as early an agreement as we're able to get." However, Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten has criticized the government's announcement, suggesting details regarding the agreements need to be disclosed before the deal can be completed. "What is in the deal? The government has been leaking out selectively good news -- I just want to see all the detail and the government should tell Australians what's really the case," Shorten said. "I think a trade agreement is good if it works for your national interest. A trade deal is bad if it doesn't. We're interested in the creation of jobs and trade, but not necessarily just signing up to anything like a blank cheque." ^ top ^

China unveils first Mars rover and exploration system for red planet (SCMP)
2014-11-10
China's main contractor supplying its space programme has unveiled details of a prototype Mars rover. Photographs of the vehicle have been published by Xinhua before it goes on display at an international aviation show that starts today in Zhuhai. The vehicle has been built by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation and comes after the failure of China's rover on the moon early this year. Ouyang Ziyuan, China's chief scientist for lunar missions, told state media earlier this year the nation's first mission to Mars could be launched as early as 2020 and that by 2030 an unmanned spacecraft would return from the planet with samples. The government has yet to set an official timescale for any mission. The six-wheeled Mars rover looks almost identical to the lunar rover, Yutu or Jade Rabbit, with wing-spreading solar panels, head-mounted cameras and a fixed robotic arm at the front. But there are some significant design changes to deal with the different environment on Mars. To beef up communications over longer distances, the Mars rover carries a larger dish antenna than Yutu. The wheels on the Mars rover are also more solidly built to deal with the rockier landscape on the red planet. The entire Mars exploration system will include a planet orbiter, landing craft and the rover, according to China Aerospace Science. Questions including whether the rover should carry a nuclear power source and the types of scientific experiments on board have yet to be answered. [...] Scientists said earlier this year that they had been asked to look for rocky, arid sites in Tibet to build a research centre to test a Mars rover. Tibet is cold and dry, with dust storms, and is the nearest equivalent on the mainland to Martian conditions. Researchers have also proposed farming worms rich in protein as a potential source of food for the first residents on the planet. But China's Mars exploration project still faces numerous uncertainties. The Mars project, which is likely to be far more costly than China's lunar missions, also needs to compete for money and resources with other equally ambitious space missions under consideration by the government. China is reviewing proposals, scheduled to start in about 2020, to put a human on the moon and send spacecraft to land on three asteroids with the highest probability of hitting the earth.[...] China also lags behind nations such as Russia in critical areas in space technology, including building large rockets and deep space communication. [...] ^ top ^

Xi urges Japan to take cautious approach on military and security issues (SCMP)
2014-11-10
President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held their first meeting in two years in Beijing, making a symbolic move to break the ice between the world's second and third-largest economies. The two leaders met for about half an hour on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit that concludes today. Many observers said it was an important first step to contain escalating tensions between the two sides. The bilateral relationship - crucial to the region's peace and stability - has deteriorated since Abe took power in 2012. The two countries have sparred over disputed maritime territories, wartime history and perceived military threats from the other side. Xi looked frosty when greeting Abe at the Great Hall of the People. Both appeared stern and strained in front of the cameras as they shook hands, and they did not speak before going into a closed-door meeting. It was not clear if the tension eased at the state dinner hosted by Xi afterwards, where the president and first lady Peng Liyuan chatted amiably with Russia President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama. The Chinese foreign ministry said that Xi met the Japanese prime minister "in response to the [Japanese] request". Experts said the attempt to downplay the meeting highlighted Beijing's reluctance to appear soft towards Japan in front of a highly nationalistic public. "This is to address the domestic audience," said Liang Yunxiang, a professor of Japanese studies at Peking University. Xi told Abe that the "rights and wrongs" that have been troubling the bilateral relations were very clear, a Xinhua statement said. "The historical issues bear on the feelings of the 1.3 billion Chinese people and to the peace, stability and development of the region," Xi said. "Only when Japan upholds bilateral documents and promises made by other Japanese governments - such as the speech by [former Japanese prime minister Murayama] Tomiichi - can it foster a friendly relationship with neighbouring countries." Abe, for his part, said the face-to-face contact was "a first step" towards improving the Sino-Japanese relationship. He said he had raised the issue of establishing a crisis-management mechanism at the meeting. Abe also said Tokyo would uphold an apology Tomiichi made in 1995 for Japan's wartime aggression. Both sides agreed to develop a strategic relationship and resolve differences through dialogue. Liang said yesterday's meeting could only temporarily contain tensions between the two countries while fundamental issues on history and maritime disputes remained unresolved. "But the meeting will definitely send positive signals for governments and people from both sides to resume efforts on addressing the problems," he said. ^ top ^

China, S.Korea closer to an FTA (Global Times)
2014-11-10
China and South Korea have concluded substantive negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) on Monday, which covered 17 fields including e-commerce and government procurement. The agreement would remove tariffs on 90 percent of all products on bilateral trade. The China-South Korea FTA has the widest coverage and biggest trade volume among all the FTA talks that were undergoing for China, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday. Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye confirmed the conclusion of the talks in a meeting Monday on the sidelines of the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, Xinhua added. "The establishment of the China-South Korea free trade area is of landmark importance and will effectively promote regional integration of the Asia-Pacific," Xi said during the meeting. Park said the setting up of the free trade area is good news for global economic recovery as well as the development and prosperity of Asia. She said South Korea will continue to make efforts to implement the agreement as soon as possible. Li Xiangyang, vice director with the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the deal will bring more opportunities to both Chinese and South Korean enterprises. […] The agreement could add between 0.92 percent and 1.25 percent to South Korea's GDP in five years, with shipping and automobile sector firms being the largest beneficiaries, An Ki-tae, an analyst at Woori Investment and Securities, told Reuters. But South Korean civic groups said the agreement would destroy their country's agriculture sector and mid-sized businesses, Yonhap reported. In 2013, two-way trade between two countries reached $274 billion, and the leaders have promised to increase this to $300 billion by 2015. An RMB clearing bank opened by the Bank of Communications of China officially opened in Seoul on November 6. The yuan clearing business in Seoul will aid cross-border transactions among companies and financial institutions from China and South Korea through the yuan. However, the future of the free trade zone was difficult to predict as South Korea will also consider its ties with the US, Tian said. Apart from the economic benefits to both China and South Korea, the deal could also put pressure on Japan as the China-Japan-South Korea FTA has failed to make any progress. ^ top ^

China, U.S. to extend validity of business, tourist and student visas (Xinhua)
2014-11-10
China and the United States will grant each other's citizens a business or tourist visa with multiple entries and the maximum validity of ten years, China's Foreign Ministry announced on Monday. The student visa will also be extended to five years of validity at most with multiple entries, said Qin Gang, the ministry spokesman, in a press release. The two governments have reached the agreement and will finalize the arrangement soon, he said. The visa extension policies will facilitate people-to-people exchanges and benefit cooperation in all areas between the two countries, he said. According to the ministry, China has signed mutual visa exemption agreements with nearly 90 countries and reached 53 visa simplification agreements with 39 countries. A total of 37 countries and regions have agreed to grant Chinese citizens visas on arrival, while eight countries and regions unilaterally allow Chinese citizens to enter without a visa. ^ top ^

APEC economies decide to launch anti-corruption network (Xinhua)
2014-11-11
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies have decided to set up a cross-border law enforcement network to strengthen transnational anti-corruption cooperation in the region, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Tuesday. Leaders and representatives of the 21 APEC economies have reached consensus in hunting down fugitives at large, recovering their ill-gotten assets and expanding law enforcement cooperation, Xi told a press conference at the end of a two-day APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. Gao Bo, vice secretary general of Clean Government Studies Center under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it signaled that APEC economies have reached a consensus that they put aside political and ideological differences to clamp down corruption. The decision was echoed by an anti-corruption declaration adopted by the APEC Ministerial Meeting that wrapped up on Saturday. In the Beijing Declaration on Fighting Corruption, APEC members pledge to eliminate corruption through extradition and judicial assistance, and adopt more flexible measures to recover the proceeds of corruption within the law of the APEC economies. Li Chengyan, professor with Peking University, said the Asia-Pacific economies tend to be the major targets of corrupt officials who flee overseas, especially the United States, Canada and Australia which haven't signed extradition treaties with China. The declaration will speed up negotiations over extradition treaties, Gao said. A regular contact mechanism and a law enforcement cooperation mechanism will be built under the network to facilitate information sharing and build up trust, and to investigate corruption, bribery, money laundering and illegal trade crimes. It will also gather and share experiences in anti-graft areas through seminars and exchanges. Zhou Shuzhen, professor with the Renmin University of China, who attended an APEC anti-corruption forum in August, said, "The network was only a blueprint at that time, but it came into realization three months later. It reflected China's strong power for action under the APEC framework." Gao said the building of the network could make the anti-corruption efforts in the APEC region more unified and cost-efficient. China is in the middle of an anti-corruption campaign targeting both high-ranking "tigers" and lowly "flies." The country is also seeking to widen the campaign to those who have fled abroad in what it called the Fox Hunt 2014 operation, to "block the last route of retreat" for corrupt officials. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping unveils China's plan for Asia-Pacific free-trade pact (SCMP)
2014-11-12
China upped the ante in its bid to be the Asia-Pacific's economic leader when President Xi Jinping unveiled a plan for a Chinese-led regional free-trade framework to visiting foreign leaders yesterday. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit ended with all 21 Apec economies endorsing China's plan to create a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). It was the first major international gathering held in China since Xi took power in late 2012. Addressing leaders including US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Xi hailed the endorsement as a "a decision to be written in history". "[The endorsement] demonstrates the confidence and determination of Apec in advancing regional economic integration," Xi said. The FTAAP has often been described as a counter to the 12-nation, US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - a claim denied by the chief US trade envoy, Michael Froman. China is promoting its plan just as the TPP appears to have lost steam. There had been reports that Washington - eager to push ahead on the TPP - had pressured Beijing to downplay the FTAAP idea. A US official told the South China Morning Post that the FTAAP proposal would be declared in the annex of the final Apec communiqué. Xi's high-profile announcement yesterday was effectively the launch of a road map instead of a "feasibility study", a term for actual negotiations the US side has resisted. The president also called on member states to work together to raise funds for cross-border infrastructure to help better integrate their economies. He raised other initiatives to cut red tape and promote the flows of people and capital in the region as part of a blueprint for regional connectivity to be in place by 2025. Xi, who has built his power on a popular and sweeping anti- corruption campaign in China, successfully lobbied fellow Apec leaders to help weed out graft. Apec leaders have agreed "to set up a cross-border law enforcement network to strengthen transnational anti-corruption efforts", Xi said. [...] ^ top ^

Sino-US breakthrough on tech tariff cuts affects US$1 trillion in goods (SCMP)
2014-11-12
The US has reached an agreement with China to progress on eliminating tariffs of US$1 trillion in global sales of information and technology products. The agreement, reached during marathon negotiations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing, creates a pathway for a final deal by as soon as December, one that would mark the first major cuts to tariffs at the World Trade Organisation in 17 years. "This is encouraging news not just for the US-China trade relationship, it shows that the US and China work together to both advance our bilateral economic agenda, but also to support the multilateral trading system," US Trade Representative Michael Froman said yesterday in Beijing. Froman called the agreement a "breakthrough" and said negotiators would "work quickly" to finalise the terms of a deal to expand what is known as the Information Technology Agreement. US President Barack Obama personally broke the news to fellow world leaders at the summit. "It was Apec's work that led to the Information Technology Agreement, which we are now negotiating to expand," Obama said, according to the White House. The progress represents a victory for Obama as the US tries to advance high priority trade deals during Obama's trip to Beijing. Negotiations continue on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation accord that administration officials have identified as a central component to the "rebalancing" effort Obama has pursued with the Asia-Pacific region. […] President Xi Jinping hosted a private dinner for Obama last night. The two will have a formal meeting today. China and the US are among members of the WTO seeking to expand the agreement, signed in 1996 before the introduction of smartphones, tablet computers and other electronics goods. Talks to expand the technology agreement collapsed in 2013 as China proposed to exclude many items from the talks. Those outstanding issues were agreed upon last night, Froman said. The list of products that would be affected include medical devices, video game consoles and computer software. More than 200 tariff lines will be reduced to zero under an expanded accord, according to the White House. The White House estimates that the expanded agreement will support as many as 60,000 additional US jobs and lower costs for manufacturing and services industries that rely on the components covered. ^ top ^

Vladimir Putin's gallantry raises Chinese censors' eyebrows (SCMP)
2014-11-12
It was a warm gesture on a chilly night when Vladimir Putin wrapped a shawl around the wife of Xi Jinping while the Chinese president chatted with Barack Obama. But that seemed too much for the Chinese authorities. The incident at a performance linked to this week's Asia-Pacific summit was originally broadcast on state broadcaster CCTV and spread online as a forwarded video. But it was soon scrubbed clean from the Chinese internet, reflecting the intense control authorities exert over any material about top leaders while also pointing to cultural differences over what's considered acceptable behaviour in public. "China is traditionally conservative on public interaction between unrelated men and women, and the public show of consideration by Putin may provide fodder for jokes, which the big boss probably does not like," said Beijing-based historian and independent commentator Zhang Lifan. Xi's wife, Peng Liyuan, was once a popular folk singer, more famous than her husband, and in contrast to her predecessors she has taken on a much more public role, prominently joining her husband on trips abroad as part of China's soft power push to seek global status commensurate with its economic might. Propaganda officials have built the image of Xi and his wife as a loving couple. Photos of Xi shielding his wife from rain on a state visit, picking flowers for her, or simply holding her hand have circulated widely on China's social media, prompting much oohing and aahing. "When the president personally held up the umbrella for the madam, it complies with the international norm of respecting women," blogger Luo Qingxue wrote on the news site for the party-run newspaper People's Daily last year after Xi was seen holding an umbrella over himself and Peng on a state visit to Trinidad and Tobago. But Putin messed up the script on Monday night while Xi chatted with the American president. In the video, Peng stood up, politely accepted the grey shawl or blanket offered by Putin, and thanked him with a slight bow. But she soon slipped it off and put on a black coat offered by her own attendant. It spawned a flurry of commentary on China's social media before censors began removing any mention of the incident. Li Xin, director of Russian and central Asian studies at Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said Putin was just being a proper Russian and did nothing out-of-line diplomatically. "It's a tradition in Russia for a man of dignity to respect ladies on public occasions, and in a cold country like Russia, it is very normal that a gentleman should help ladies take on and off their coats," Li said. "But the Chinese may not be accustomed to that." ^ top ^

China and US reach historic deal on climate change (SCMP)
2014-11-12
President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Barack Obama yesterday unveiled a flurry of agreements on climate change, trade, defence and international security as the two leaders sought to set aside their differences and redefine the relationship through cooperation. Among the agreements announced in Beijing was a ground-breaking commitment for both countries to cut greenhouse emissions. It was hailed by climate change experts and officials as a "historic pact", although some conservative American politicians branded it as unrealistic and a jobs-killer. The agreement between the world's two major energy consumers will help galvanise support for upcoming global talks on climate change. UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said the deal was a landmark and would give "a significant boost" to efforts to reach a global accord. China agreed that its carbon dioxide emissions would peak by around 2030 and non-fossil fuels would generate 20 per cent of its energy by the same deadline. Renewable energy now accounts for less than 10 per cent of China's total energy production. Washington agreed to cut net greenhouse gas emissions to 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025. […] By focusing on cooperation and areas that promise real progress, the world's two most powerful countries were seeking to defuse tensions over key strategic issues such as cyberattacks, geopolitical rivalry and differences over freedom of navigation, analysts said. "I believe that President Xi and I have a common understanding on how the relationship between our two countries should move forward," Obama said at a joint press conference with Xi yesterday. "Where we have disagreements, we will be candid about our intentions and we will work to narrow those differences where possible." Xi said China was ready to work with the US. "The Pacific Ocean is big enough for the two countries to grow," Xi said. "China and the US should work hand-in-hand to contribute to Asia's security. This should be complementary, not mutually exclusive." The two leaders also agreed to establish confidence-building mechanisms between the two militaries to reduce the risks of accidental clashes, with the two armies agreeing to inform each other in advance of any major operation. […] The White House said the two leaders also discussed threats posed by the militant group Islamic State, but no further details were released by either administration. Earlier in the week, the two countries struck a deal to eliminate tariffs on a range of technology products for the first time since 1996. […] ^ top ^

China pledges over 20-bln-USD loans to boost Southeast Asian connectivity (Xinhua)
2014-11-13
China on Thursday offered loans worth over 20 billion U.S. dollars to support Southeast Asia's connectivity construction. The offer, including a preferential loan worth 10 billion dollars for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and a 10-billion-dollar special loan set up by China Development Bank for the regional infrastructure development, was made by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the 9th East Asia Summit here. China will also set aside altogether 30 million yuan (around 4.89 million dollars) in the next three years for China-ASEAN economic and technical cooperation. The premier said China will start raising 3 billion dollars for the second phase of the China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund which targets investment opportunities in infrastructure, energy and natural resources in the ASEAN countries. At the same time, Li pledged to offer assistance worth 3 billion yuan (about 480 million dollars) to less developed members of the ASEAN next year to help the regional bloc reduce poverty. China will also offer 100 million yuan (16 million dollars) for rural poverty reduction project in East Asia, he added. China, which regards ASEAN as a priority in its diplomacy with neighboring countries, is the largest trading partner of the 10-member regional bloc, and ASEAN has emerged as China's third-largest trading partner, a major investment destination and an important tourist destination. The Chinese premier is here for a series of leaders' meetings on East Asian cooperation and an official visit to Myanmar. ^ top ^

China, ASEAN set 2015 as goal for upgrading free trade agreement (China Daily)
2014-11-14
China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members have set a goal to conclude the negotiations on upgrading the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area by the end of 2015, as both sides are keen to pursue a larger foothold in each other's lucrative markets with more access to foreign goods and investment. Premier Li Keqiang said China is willing to take part in the CAFTA negotiations on the basis of the pre-establishment of national treatment plus the negative list model, as well as supporting Hong Kong further in talks on building a free trade area with ASEAN countries. "China will set aside 30 million yuan ($4.9 million) over the next three years to support economic and technical cooperation between the two sides," Li said on Thursday at the 17th China-ASEAN Leaders' Meeting, in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar. The two sides launched their first round of negotiations on upgrading CAFTA in September, and agreed to focus on key areas of trade in goods, service trade, dispute settlement and investment. Launched in 2010, CAFTA has become the world's largest free trade area among developing countries, with a population of 1.9 billion. "In our view, various FTA arrangements need to play a positive role in fostering a just and free international and regional trade order," said Li. While accelerating CAFTA negotiations, China has contributed to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations, which have moved from consultations on procedures to a new stage of substantive negotiations. [...] Li said China will encourage its companies to invest in the ASEAN member markets, as well as cooperating with local partners to build cross-border businesses and industrial zones to accelerate the pace of regional economic integration. China is ASEAN's largest trading partner, while ASEAN ranks as China's third-largest trading partner. Bilateral trade increased 11 percent year-on-year to $443.61 billion in 2013. In the first three quarters of this year, the trade figure reached $346.6 billion, a 7.5 percent year-on-year increase. Both sides are also determined to push their trade volume to $500 billion by 2015 and $1 trillion by 2020. Wang Zhile, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation said as countries differ in their economic development modes, pillar industries and political environments, China is taking a flexible stance in negotiations to upgrade CAFTA and allow special treatment for the least developed ASEAN countries. [...] ^ top ^

ASEAN, China to increase mutual trust for maritime security (Xinhua)
2014-11-14
Southeast Asian countries agreed here on Thursday to increase mutual trust with China to enhance maritime security and resolve disputes by peaceful means without resorting to threat or use of force. In a chairman's statement issued after the 17th leaders' meeting between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and China, the ASEAN reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability and maritime security in the region. The ASEAN reaffirmed its commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in its entirety as well as to work towards the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea. The statement also voiced support for the implementation of early harvest measures, including the adoption of the first list of commonalities on COC consultation, the establishment of a hotline platform among search and rescue agencies, a hotline among foreign ministries on maritime emergencies, and a table-top exercise on search and rescue. The ASEAN agreed to designate the year 2015 as the ASEAN-China Year of Maritime Cooperation, welcoming China's comprehensive plan for utilizing the ASEAN-China Maritime Cooperation Fund to provide financial support for their cooperation in the areas of maritime connectivity, marine science and technology, as well as maritime scientific research, search and rescue, disaster management and navigation safety. Myanmar President U Thein Sein, whose country holds the rotating chair of the ASEAN this year, presided over meeting in the Myanmar capital of Nay Pyi Taw, which was attended by leaders of ASEAN countries and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. ^ top ^

China and Mexico to launch US$2.4b fund for mining, energy projects (SCMP)
2014-11-14
China and Mexico agreed to develop close, long-term ties as the two countries' leaders met in Beijing yesterday, just days after Mexcio abruptly scrapped a US$3.75 billion high-speed rail deal awarded to a Chinese-led consortium. In talks with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, President Xi Jinping said the two countries had made "speedy progress" and "substantial achievements" in bilateral cooperation in the year since his visit to Mexico, Xinhua reported. He also said the countries offered each other development opportunities. "As major developing countries and emerging economies, China and Mexico face similar challenges as we both are at a crucial stage of growth and reform," Xi said. Peña Nieto said Mexico and China would set up a US$2.4 billion investment fund to support infrastructure, mining, and energy projects. Three Chinese firms would also invest up to US$5 billion to finance projects for Mexican oil company Pemex, including the Ramones pipeline to import natural gas from the United States. But he did not mention the scrapped high-speed railway contract, which had been granted to a consortium led by Chinese rail builder China Railway Construction Corp and included Mexican companies and Chinese train maker CSR Corp. Mexico rescinded the contract last week, citing "doubts and concerns" about the winning group. China expressed shock at the cancellation, and Premier Li Keqiang told Peña Nieto this week that Chinese firms should be treated fairly. The trade ministry said on Wednesday that it believed there were legal grounds for compensation after the agreement was cancelled. Since the Mexican leader took office in late 2012, he has sought to forge closer ties with China following years of rivalry between the two countries seeking to supply the US market. "Now Mexico-China relations are broader, more stable, more productive and more beneficial for our people," he said. The two presidents witnessed the signing of 14 pacts, including a China Development Bank deal with Bancomex and Pemex for petroleum projects, as well as one between Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Pemex and Chinese oil giant CNOOC. No details of any of the agreements were given. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Former chief justice proposes Constitution committee in legislature (Xinhua)
2014-11-08
Former chief justice Xiao Yang has advocated to set up a Constitution committee in the national legislature to advance rule of law. Xiao, also former president of the Supreme People's Court, said Friday at a forum, ruling the country in line with the Constitution is an effective way to tackle problems China is currently facing. He proposed the Constitution committee, under the National People's Congress (NPC), to deal with amendments, explanations, essential issues stipulated by the Constitution and oversee significant cases that jeopardize national economy and people's livelihood. He also said the administrative law enforcement system and the operating mechanism of law enforcement power should be improved to ensure justice, which is the "lifeline" for rule of law. The NPC passed the Constitution on Dec. 4, 1982, based on a previous version enacted in 1954. There are several committees, including the Ethnic Affairs Committee, the Law Committee and the Financial and Economic Committee, under the direction of the NPC and its Standing Committee to examine, discuss and draw up relevant bills and undertake routine legislative and supervisory tasks. ^ top ^

Xi's "new normal" theory (Xinhua)
2014-11-09
The "new normal" theory elaborated by Chinese President Xi Jinping would be one of the hallmarks to be engraved in history by the ongoing meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Beijing. In his speech delivered to over 1,500 business leaders from the Asia-Pacific region at the APEC CEO Summit on Sunday, Xi, for the first time ever, sketched out a full picture of Chinese economy's "new normal." "A new normal of China's economy has emerged with several notable features," the President said. First, the economy has shifted gear from the previous high speed to a medium-to-high speed growth. Second, the economic structure is constantly improved and upgraded. Third, the economy is increasingly driven by innovation instead of input and investment, he added. [...] The world's second-largest economy is having a rocky year, with growth having slid to a low not seen since the 2008/09 global financial crisis in the third quarter, dragged by a housing slowdown, softening domestic demand and unsteady exports. This slowdown is labelled the "new normal," because there used to be an old one. In the 35 years between 1978 and 2013, annual growth of the Chinese economy averaged close to 10 percent and, between 2003 and 2007, it was over 11.5 percent. Along with this came the change of the destiny of several hundred millions of Chinese, which were lifted from abject poverty. However, the "good old days" cannot last forever. Growth decelerated to 7.7 percent in 2012 and 2013, and in the first three quarters of 2014, we saw a figure of 7.4 percent. Even if this can continue, it is something not desirable, as the three decades of almost uninterrupted double-digit growth came at a high price of choking air pollution and exhaustive exploitation of natural resources. It is long overdue to rethink China's growth story under a new normality, with new thinking and a new framework. [...] Chinese leader's elaboration about the "new normal" on the international stage would first serve as a reassurance to the world about the health and vitality of the Chinese economy, observers said. "A Chinese economy entering the 'new normal' would be good news for both the Asia-Pacific and the world," said Wang Xiaoguang, a policy-making expert with the Chinese Academy of Governance. According to Xi, under the new normal conditions, China' s economy has still registered considerable increment albeit the slowdown; China's economic growth has become more stable and been driven by more diverse forces; the Chinese economic economic structure has been improved and upgraded, heralding a more stable development prospect; the Chinese government has vigorously streamlined administration and delegated power, further unleashing market vitality. [...] ^ top ^

Rule of law: one term, two characters, many meanings (SCMP)
2014-11-10
President Xi Jinping called for it, the Communist Party endorsed it and the country's judicial system is to be governed by it but there is still no consensus on how it should be rendered in English. At the end of the annual gathering of the party's elite last month, leaders backed Xi's push to promote fazhi - a concept officially translated as "rule of law". But others argue that the term is better translated as "rule by law" or "rule through law" to drive home the point that whatever the changes to the system, the law is not something unto itself - it's there to serve the party. The term fazhi is comprises two characters - fa meaning "law" and zhi meaning "to rule" and "to govern" - and dates back to the second or third century BC. University of Nevada political science professor Xiaoyu Pu said "rule of law" and "rule by law" both meant that law should govern a nation. But while "rule of law" in the western sense stressed that political authority should be held in check by the law, the "rule by law" in the Chinese tradition underscored the use of law to rule society. In the West, rule of law is also associated with democracy, government accountability and human rights, elements that have long been rejected by the Communist-ruled government. [...] Indeed, the party has stressed that its absolute leadership is a requirement for the promotion of the "rule of law". The 16,000-character statement issued after the plenum also emphasised the strong "Chinese characteristics" in such an endeavour. Analysts also noted that the party gathering endorsed a raft of legal changes to promote a more predictable and rule-based legal system while keeping the courts under the party's firm control. The leadership said in a keynote document released after the plenum that the party would retain ultimate control over the legal system. "Socialist rule of law must uphold the party's leadership, and party leadership must rely on socialist rule of law," the post-plenum document said. Howson said the party would neither introduce true rule of law nor "party rule of the judiciary". "Is it the same idea as the form of governance used to describe how both the Kuomintang after 1927 and the Communist Party after 1949 governed China - with Chiang Kai-shek's 'party-ised judiciary' and the Maoist regime's complete subjection of the legal system to Communist Party leadership," Howson said. However, Oswald said that the fact that the party had begun a conversation on the rule of law was encouraging. "Merely using the vocabulary - 'rule of law' - is a step forward," she said. "That doesn't mean that this conversation might not eventually lead to significant and welcome reform at local levels of government." ^ top ^

Chinese province uses drones to control smog (Xinhua)
2014-11-10
Northeast China's Liaoning Province has started to use drones with remote sensing systems to battle air pollution, a local environment watchdog said on Monday. Northeast China usually sees a surge in the number of smoggy days in winter as a large amount of coal is burned to heat the region. Since bad traffic and snowstorms disturb air quality checks, Liaoning will use drones to detect polluters and control smog. The drones provide real-time inspection of the source of pollutants, said Wu Di, deputy director of the environmental inspection bureau in the city of Liaoyang, which is the first in the province to use drones in smog control. Wu said the bureau can determine if a factory emits too many pollutants using two drones. "One drone will record the real-time ground image and send it back immediately to the command center. Another will then fly to areas which we think cause smog, and then analyze the air quality index of those areas at an altitude between 200 and 1,000 meters," Wu said. Those violating the emission rules will be punished, Wu added. Tianjin, a coastal city in north China, also uses remote sensing technologies to monitor car emissions. ^ top ^

Another cadre found with huge hoard of yuan, and gold, this time in Hebei (SCMP)
2014-11-13
A corrupt official in Hebei province kept more than 100 million yuan (HK$126 million) in cash and 37kg of gold in his flat, and had amassed a portfolio of 68 properties by the time graft-busters caught up with him. The case of the unnamed official and more than 230 others in the province - many of whom also stashed huge sums of ill-gotten wealth in their homes - underscored the seriousness of corruption at the local level, Xinhua reported, without giving further details. Many lower-level officials had taken large bribes, including the head of one traffic police unit who took more than 10 million yuan, and the director of a land and resources bureau who had more than 10 million yuan in assets that he could not account for. The director of a social security bureau also lost 20 million yuan of bureau funds through dereliction of duty, Xinhua said. Higher-ranking cadres being investigated for disciplinary violations - a term that usually refers to graft - include Liu Xueku, a former standing committee member of the provincial people's congress; Liang Shulin, the former deputy chairman of the provincial legal affairs commission; and Zhang Liande, the former head of the Hebei branch of China Mobile. The provincial government vowed to step up its anti-corruption drive, in particular against officials responsible for land, urban construction, and state-owned enterprises and assets. Authorities launched their massive anti-graft drive two years ago when President Xi Jinping became general secretary of the Communist Party. Xi said at the time that corruption was rampant and threatened the party's survival. Xi's drive for party purity has netted some the nation's most powerful officials. Retired general Xu Caihou, a former vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, was expelled from the party at the end of June in a bribes-for-promotions scandal. A month later, the party announced that former national security tsar and Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang was under investigation for violations of party discipline. In April, investigators found some 200 million yuan in local and foreign currency at the home of Wei Pengyuan, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission's coal department. ^ top ^

End of China's coal boom signals cleaner and healthier future (SCMP)
2014-11-13
China's ambitious plan for carbon emissions to peak around 2030, if not earlier, could lower its economic growth by as much as 1 per cent every year, but the cost would be offset by the massive environmental and health benefits it brings, experts say. The government's target of raising non-fossil fuels' share of energy production to about 20 per cent by 2030 would also end the boom in coal production and boost the nuclear and clean- energy industries as the country battles chronic air pollution. The announcement of the targets, part of a landmark climate change deal between China and the United States, may also rejuvenate stalled climate change negotiations, increasing hopes of a robust global agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions after 2020, analysts said. Teng Fei, an associate professor at Tsinghua University, the lead researcher on an extensive study on the impact of a 2030-carbon peak on China's economy, said the timeframe was "rather aggressive" and would require smart policies to limit damage to the economy. "Our study shows China's carbon emissions would peak after 2040 under existing measures on pollution reduction and energy conservation, so it's a rather bold move to make the peak occur at least 10 years earlier," he said. [...] Lin Boqiang, director of Xiamen University's Centre for China Energy Economics Research, said fighting smog was a top priority and any economic costs would be bearable. [...] Lin said the carbon peak target was achievable as China's coal consumption could peak early in the next decade and the growth of carbon emissions would then start to slow. "The share of nuclear, solar and wind energy in the total energy mix is expected to rise further in the run-up to 2030, although it's too early to say which sector will gain most. The share of hydropower will largely stay the same," said Lin. The government's target of expanding non-fossil fuels' share of energy production to 20 per cent will require the country to deploy an additional 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other clean energy capacity by 2030, more than all the coal-fired power plants in China today and close to the total current electricity generating capacity in the US, the White House said. A BP energy report said non-fossil fuels accounted for 9.6 per cent of China's energy mix last year. China said earlier it would raise this to 15 per cent by 2020. [...] ^ top ^

Party mouthpiece compares Xi with Deng as the 'new architect of reform' (SCMP)
2014-11-14
The Communist Party's mouthpiece has dubbed President Xi Jinping as the "new architect" of China's reform, a comparison with late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, who was known as the nation's "chief architect". In a commentary published through the mobile phone app of People's Daily, Xi was described as being "in position to answer the call" as the new architect of reform to "take a good path, a new path and make new achievements". "His courage, accountability and hard-working spirit have made Xi's image as top architect of overall, deepening reform increasingly clear," the article said. Observers said the article was the latest sign that Xi had consolidated his authority since becoming the party's general secretary in 2012, and the country's president last year. "Although some people have frequently compared Xi with Deng and Mao Zedong, such a reference coming from People's Daily is significant and carries an impact," said Pu Xingzu, a professor of politics at Fudan University in Shanghai. […] The article said Deng and Xi faced similar obstacles as leaders. Deng's reforms faced resistance from "complicated forces", while Xi faces the daunting task of narrowing the wealth gap, correcting the relationship between political power and the market economy, and breaking the hold of vested interests. Yet with or without the label of the "new architect" of reform, Xi looked to be the most powerful leader since Deng, observers said. In addition to being president, head of the Communist Party and chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, Xi heads the powerful taskforce on deepening reforms. The decisions of that body will influence policy over a vast range of areas - not just economics, politics and the environment, but culture, society and even how the party functions. Xi also heads other powerful taskforces on internet security and technology, finance and economics and making the military more effective and accountable. But his most controversial and risky move has been the massive anti-corruption campaign to restore the legitimacy of the party, whose survival he warns is threatened if rampant corruption is not stamped out. […] Fudan University's Pu said Xi may have consolidated his power but Mao and Deng had greater influence. Both deceased leaders exercised their authority even though neither had as many titles as Xi. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing reports 70 percent less criminal alarms during APEC week (Xinhua)
2014-11-13
No violent terror happened and 71 percent less criminal alarms reported during the APEC week, Beijing police announced Wednesday night. Beijing has maintained sound public order due to top security measures, according to the police. The APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting was held in Beijing from Nov. 10 to 11. During the APEC week, China hosted a series of meetings from Nov. 5 to 11. Beijing police launched the top security control plan on Nov. 6 with an average of 28,000 police officers on duty daily. All buses and trains operating on key routes were under supervision. The municipal police have examined four million in-bound vehicles and 10.9 million people. Since November, the police have cracked about 2,100 criminal cases and caught some 700 suspects. Beijing authorities also imposed a traffic control based on an odd-and-even vehicle plate rule from Nov. 3 to 12. Traffic accident emergency calls dropped therefore by 44 percent on a daily average. APEC meeting is a platform for leaders and representatives of member economies to discuss the economic development of the Asia-Pacific region. This was the second time for China to be the host following the APEC meetings held in Shanghai in 2001. ^ top ^

Beijing authorities release pollution data for APEC week (Global Times)
2014-11-13
Beijing environment authorities released air quality data on Thursday for the week of APEC, with PM 2.5 levels, a key indicator of air pollution, dropping dramatically. Following a special air pollution control plan for APEC meetings, the city's daily PM 2.5 density fell to 43 micrograms per cubic meter between November 1 and November 12, a 55-percent reduction compared with the same period last year, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. Daily average levels of PM 10, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide decreased by 44 percent, 57 percent and 31 percent respectively over the same period of 2013, it said. "Beijing had 11 days with good air quality, while only one day suffered from mild air pollution," said Fang Li, deputy head of the bureau. In order to tamp down on pollution for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, Beijing and neighboring regions imposed tight limits on car use, ordered factories and construction sites to close and declared a holiday for public-sector employees. "The city became cleaner and cars ran more smoothly and quickly during APEC," said Song Qiang, head of Beijing Municipal Research Institute of Environmental Protection. The tough emissions-reduction measures have greatly improved the air quality of the region. The phrase "APEC blue" was even coined by Chinese netizens to describe the blue sky in heavily polluted Beijing during the week. A post circulating widely on China's popular messaging service WeChat said that APEC also stands for "Air Pollution Eventually Controlled." Another post defined "APEC Blue" as "something that is beautiful but transient, almost like an illusion." With the end of APEC meetings, the emission-reduction measures have also been removed, but residents hope to retain the blue skies and clean air. "But solving the air pollution issue is a complicated and long-term task. Everybody needs to shoulder the responsibility to cut emissions and make APEC Blue the new normal," Song said. ^ top ^

Beijing wants to keep 'APEC blue' (China Daily)
2014-11-14
Beijing plans to phase out around 1 million vehicles with low emission standards, a move toward allowing residents to enjoy the same good air quality experienced during the recent APEC meeting. Fang Li, deputy chief of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said that getting rid of the 1 million vehicles with emission standards meeting the National Phase I and II - equivalent to Euro 1 and 2 - would greatly reduce air pollutants. To guarantee a clean sky during the APEC meeting, Beijing took a series of measures targeting vehicles from Nov 3 to 12, such as restricting the use of private cars based on their license plates, keeping 70 percent of public vehicles for governments and institutions off the road, and banning work trucks. Additionally, production was suspended at polluting industries and construction sites. Thanks to the tough measures, air quality in the region was greatly improved, leading Chinese netizens to coin the phrase "APEC blue" to describe the sky during the week in Beijing. Fang said that the amount of nitrogen oxides generated by vehicle exhaust was 44 percent less than the same period last year. The concentration of PM2.5 was cut by 30 percent, authorities said. Regional cooperation in curbing air pollution among six provinces and municipalities like Tianjin and Hebei also helped. Of the 5.5 million vehicles in Beijing, less than20 percent are in the lowest emission categories. But each emits five times the emissions of a vehicle meeting the latest national standard, said Li Kunsheng, director in charge of exhaust emission at the bureau. How and when the government will phase out vehicles with heavy emissions is still under discussion, Fang said. ^ top ^

Clear skies in 5 years: survey (Global Times)
2014-11-14
Over half of respondents living in Beijing believe that clean air experienced during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings will become normal in Beijing within five years, according to a poll conducted by the Global Times Global Poll Center. The survey was conducted from Tuesday to Thursday and involved 1,008 residents at least 18 years old in Beijing. About 52 percent of the respondents said that the good weather popularly dubbed as "APEC blue" can become permanent within five years, while some 8 percent think that it will take longer than 21 years to achieve that goal. When asked whether citizens are satisfied with the air quality during the APEC summit period, 84 percent said they were content, with about 29 percent saying they are "very content" while only over 1 percent expressed dissatisfaction. The study also found that nearly 57 percent of the people interviewed support a long-term odd-even license plate system, a rule which requires vehicles to run on alternate days based on their license plate number, to ease traffic congestion. Among them, 15 percent said they "strongly support" the plan while only 2 percent said they "strongly oppose" the idea. Respondents who do not drive are more supportive of the system. To make "APEC blue" more frequent, over 70 percent said they are willing to "promote green commuting and take public transport" in order to reduce air pollution. Over 62 percent of them said they would "pay attention to energy saving such as lowering the use of electricity." Options like "reporting enterprises and individuals who pollute the environment" and "volunteering to promote an environmentally friendly concept" were also widely accepted by respondents, with 45.6 percent and 44.3 percent supporting them respectively. The survey found that older people tend to be more satisfied with the air quality during the APEC summit and are also more willing to promote environmentalism. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang aims for financial hub on economic belt (Global Times)
2014-11-09
Authorities will try to make northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region the financial hub for the Silk Road economic belt by speeding up infrastructure construction. Guo Hongchuan, deputy director with Xinjiang's regional office of finance, said the local government supports the building of a financial network in the region, with Urumqi, the regional capital, as the pivot. "We plan to speed up infrastructure construction of the financial districts in Urumqi to boost economic growth," Guo told Xinhua Saturday at an ongoing seminar in Urumqi, where experts convened to discuss improving financial services in Xinjiang. The scheme will help strengthen Xinjiang's economic influence in Central Asia, he said. The economic belt, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Central Asia in September 2013, eyes the cultural revival of the Silk Road, which historically links China with Central Asia and Europe, as a way of developing political and economic ties. The project involves more than 40 Asian and European countries with a combined population of 3 billion. Xinjiang is home to China's western-most section of the Eurasian Land Bridge, a transcontinental rail route connecting east Asia and west Europe. It connects Pakistan, Mongolia, Russia, India and four other central Asian countries with a borderline extending 5,600 km, giving it easy access to markets in the Eurasian heartland. Urumqi was once a stop on the old Silk Road. ^ top ^

Xinjiang Muslim preachers jailed for 'stirring up religious hatred' (SCMP)
2014-11-12
Twenty-two religious preachers in Xinjiang, the scene of a series of violent attacks the government has blamed on Muslim separatists, were jailed for inciting ethnic hatred and disturbing public order, state media reported yesterday. They were given prison terms ranging from five to 16 years, the China News Service said. The preachers were given prison terms at a public sentencing at the Kashgar People's Court. The mayor of the city, Ainiwaer Tuerxun, was quoted as saying that Xinjiang had been plagued by religious extremism and that this had fuelled terrorism in the region. The preachers jailed were either "wild imams" who had been sacked from official positions or clerics still holding religious posts, the report said. A photograph showed the preachers wearing prison uniforms standing in a line with boards hung from their necks detailing their crimes. They were convicted of a range of offences, including instigating ethnic crimes, using superstitious thoughts to impede the law, gathering a crowd to disturb public order and rape. Kashgar's mayor said the public sentencing would act as a deterrent and help crack down on people who broke the law through religion. Mass public sentencing has become common in Xinjiang in recent months for people accused of involvement in terrorism, even though the mainland has banned the public display of criminal suspects or convicted felons. A court in Kashgar last month gave 12 people the death sentence for their roles in a series of terrorist attacks in Shache county in Xinjiang in July. In all, 37 civilians died in the attacks. Meng Caixia, a teacher at Kashgar Teachers' College, said the preaching of religious extremism, often in secret, was a serious problem and had a deep impact on society in the region. "Some are engaged in this activity and it's very difficult for them to be open-minded and accept what you try to tell them," Meng said. Human rights groups and exile organisations representing Uygurs, a Turkic Muslim minority in Xinjiang, accuse the authorities of inflaming tensions by discriminating against Uygur culture and religion, an allegation the government strongly denies. ^ top ^

Uyghurs found in Thai human-trafficking camp raid (Global Times)
2014-11-14
Chinese authorities in Thailand on Thursday have identified dozens of Uyghurs, who were discovered in a raid on a suspected human trafficking camp by Thai authorities in March, are from Xinjiang, and are looking into reports that more than 100 Chinese Uyghurs allegedly escaped from Thai shelters. The migrants were among 300 people discovered in a raid on a suspected human trafficking camp by Thai authorities in March, and a southern Thai court held the suspected traffickers in detention centers and the women and children in shelters, the AFP said. A total of 137 suspected Uyghur migrants left shelters in Songkhla as of November 6, and Thai authorities fear that the Uyghurs might have been taken by human traffickers, the Bangkok Post reported Thursday. Songkhla authorities were searching for the missing Uyghur women and children, adding that police were still trying to determine their nationalities, the AFP reported. The migrants were thought to be from China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. On the hundreds of migrants who allegedly escaped to Thailand in March, an officer surnamed Qin from the Chinese Consulate in Songkhla, Thailand, said that the consulate has identified some of the male migrants, and found out dozens of them were from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region. Qin told the Global Times on Thursday that Chinese officials there were aware of the incident. "The local police told us that there was no such thing, so we contacted the Songkhla Home for Children and Women where those Uyghurs stayed," Qin said. He added that the consulate is awaiting a response. Thai police said the migrants claimed to be Turkish, but US-based Uyghur activists identified them as Uyghurs. "The nationality of the women and children has not been identified as far as I know," Qin said. The consulate is trying to identify the rest, and also was negotiating with the Thai government, he said. "Once we confirm that they are Chinese, they would be sent back to China," Qin said. Thailand has long been a hub for human trafficking activities, with thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim minority group from neighboring Myanmar, believed to have passed through the kingdom in recent years, according to the AFP. It was the first time in recent years that a group of Uyghurs escaped to Thailand, according to Qin. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Amnesty demands China release 76 citizens still in detention for supporting HK protests (SCMP)
2014-11-09
Rights group Amnesty International urged mainland China to release at least 76 people, detained on the mainland for supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests, before the start of next week's Asia-Pacific leaders summit in Beijing. [...] “Apec leaders must end their recent silence on the crackdown against mainland Chinese activists expressing support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters. Political convenience should not trump principled action,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia research director at Amnesty. “The leaders should take this opportunity to speak out and urge President Xi to ensure all those detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are immediately and unconditionally released,” she said in a statement. Amnesty published a list of 93 mainlanders detained for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” after attending events expressing support for the pro-democracy protests, creating related artworks and other activities. Seventeen of them have been released. China's foreign ministry, in a statement faxed to Reuters, said Amnesty was a group “prejudiced” towards China which often made irresponsible statements and interfered in the country's internal affairs. “We are resolutely opposed to this,” it added. [...] Amnesty said the detentions in China have been especially concentrated in Beijing, as well as the southern cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, which abut Hong Kong. People have been held for putting pictures online with messages of support, planning to go to Hong Kong to take part in the protests or shaving their heads in solidarity, it said. The government has stepped up security in Beijing ahead of the summit. Amnesty said some activists had been forced to leave the city, including prominent dissident Hu Shigen. Xi has presided over a sweeping crackdown on the rights community since taking office two years ago and, while he has promised to improve the rule of law, the Communist Party will remain firmly in charge of the judicial system. “The latest wave of detentions is part of a concerted attack on fundamental freedoms since President Xi took office. It makes a mockery of Xi's recent claims that the rule of law and human rights will be fully respected in China by 2020,” Rife said. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping pledges support for Hong Kong's efforts to safeguard rule of law (SCMP)
2014-11-09
The central government will "resolutely support" the Hong Kong government's efforts to safeguard the city's rule of law which is the cornerstone of its future, President Xi Jinping told visiting Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying at their first meeting since the Occupy protests began. Xi said China was committed to the city's democratic reform but stressed it must be done within the framework of the Basic Law - the city's mini-constitution. He reiterated the need for Hong Kong people "to fully and accurately" understand the "one country, two systems" principle. "The rule of law is a key foundation for Hong Kong's long-term stability and prosperity … The central government will stay committed to the 'one country, two systems' principle and the Basic Law. We will firmly support Hong Kong to develop democracy in line with law and its endeavour to maintain its long-term stability," Xi said. Xi called on "all sectors in Hong Kong, under the leadership of Leung and the SAR government", to "seize the historic opportunity to realise universal suffrage according to [the Basic] Law", Xinhua reported. Leung also said the central government would "soon" announce a through-train scheme to allow cross-trading of stocks in Hong Kong and Shanghai. [...] A source close to the Hong Kong government said Xi cited a line from an ancient poem - "strong winds reveal the strength of sturdy grass" - as praise for Leung's loyalty and resilience in handling the Occupy protests and Beijing's firmest support yet for the chief executive. The poem, said to be written by Emperor Taizong during the Tang dynasty, was often cited by emperors to praise loyal ministers in times of adversity. The line is followed by "turmoils test the loyalty of a good minister". Leung said he told Xi that the Occupy protests had seriously disrupted the city's social order and shaken its rule of law, but that the Hong Kong government could handle the protests by itself and in accordance with the law. Xi offered full support for Leung's efforts to maintain "social order". The chief executive later said that Xi had expressed approval of his administration's recent performance, although Xi did not make such a reference in the opening remarks of the meeting, which was open to media. [...] China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said Beijing's attempt to link implementation of the through-train scheme with the city's social order would exert more pressure on Occupy protesters and strengthen public opposition to the movement. [...] ^ top ^

Obama says his priority for Hong Kong is to avoid violence at Occupy protests (SCMP)
2014-11-10
US President Barack Obama on Monday said his priority when it came to Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests was to ensure that violence would be avoided. This comes after President Xi Jinping told visiting Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in Beijing on Sunday that the central government would “resolutely support” the Hong Kong government's efforts to safeguard the city's rule of law. Speaking in Beijing, Obama said China wasn't in the same place as the US when it came to development. But he said it would be unrealistic for the US to set aside its concerns about human rights. He said the US wouldn't stop speaking out about the things it cared about. This is not the first time that Obama has commented on the Occupy Central movement in the city. Early last month, he called for the Hong Kong government to exercise restraint and said he hoped for a peaceful resolution to the political stand-off during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The US president is visiting the Chinese capital to attend the high-level Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit where he has been scheduled to meet key Asian leaders. During his three-day trip to China, Obama scheduled to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. ^ top ^

Green light for through train after Leung's pledge to Xi Jinping on handling protests (Xinhua)
2014-11-11
State leaders gave the green light to the launch of the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock market "through train" scheme after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying pledged that the city's government was capable of handling the Occupy Central protests. The market originally expected the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme to kick off in October given the joint announcement by securities regulators in Hong Kong and the mainland in April stating that it would take about six months to complete the preparations. The Hong Kong government originally expected to announce the launch of the long-awaited scheme on October 27. But a Hong Kong government source said state leaders started to worry about the threat to the rule of law and social order in Hong Kong as the Occupy protests continued. "The central government informed the Hong Kong government on October 25 that the scheme would be postponed without giving a date for its launch," the source said. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing issued a statement the following day saying that it had not received approval for the launch of the scheme and there was no firm date for its implementation. Zhang Rongshun, vice-chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee's legislative affairs commission, said on October 28 that the postponement was due to the Occupy campaign. The source said Leung subsequently offered a written assurance to the central government, pledging that the Hong Kong government would deploy its own resources to restore social order and address Beijing's concerns about the threat to the rule of law in the city. It remains unclear if Leung mentioned in his report to Beijing whether the Hong Kong government would clear protest sites and when. "The chief executive repeated the pledge when he met President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Sunday. The president was convinced and told Premier Li Keqiang later in the day to give the go-ahead to the scheme," the source said. The source said relevant central government ministries worked out the details on Sunday night and a joint announcement by the Securities and Futures Commission and the China Securities Regulatory Commission on the approval of the launch of the scheme was issued yesterday. Vincent Lo Hong-sui, chairman of Shui On Land, said in Beijing yesterday that the timing of the announcement of the through-train scheme had showed the central government's support for the chief executive. "I believe the central government will support him to complete his remaining term in office," said Lo, a staunch supporter of Leung. ^ top ^

Interview: HK to play unique role in advancing China-ASEAN cooperation (Xinhua)
2014-11-11
Hong Kong will play a unique role in promoting China-ASEAN cooperation and helping bring bilateral relations to a new and higher level, a senior Hong Kong entrepreneur said ahead of an ASEAN summit slated for Wednesday and Thursday. The China-ASEAN cooperation mainly includes goods trade, service trade and investment, while Hong Kong has advantages on all the three fields, especially the latter two, Dr. Jonathan Choi, permanent honorary president of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview with Xinhua. "Hong Kong should be given full play in deepening the partnership between China and ASEAN," he said. As a major international financial and trade hub, Hong Kong has an integrated network of institutions and markets, which provide a wide range of products and services to local and international customers and investors. "The service industry in Hong Kong accounts for over 90 percent of GDP, buoying the city's prosperity," Choi said, adding that Hong Kong is ready to provide personnel and management services in China-ASEAN cooperation. The 10-member ASEAN is Hong Kong's second largest trading partner with bilateral trade accounting for 10 percent of Hong Kong's gross trade volume last year, according to government data. Bilateral trade between Hong Kong and ASEAN increased at an average annual rate of 9.5 percent over the last decade, higher than Hong Kong's 8.3-percent overall trade growth rate. ASEAN is also Hong Kong's fourth largest trading partner in services and the fifth largest destination of foreign direct investment from Hong Kong. Choi said Hong Kong has been investing in ASEAN for more than 50 years and has witnessed closer ties with the 10-member bloc, which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The two sides started negotiations on a free trade agreement in July, the latest move to expand bilateral trade ties. "The agreement would enable Hong Kong goods, services and investment to access the ASEAN market under more favorable conditions," Choi said. As Hong Kong boasts extensive economic and trade network in ASEAN, Choi suggested that companies from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong bind together when investing in the bloc. "Partnering with Hong Kong companies could reduce investment barriers and increase the probability of project success," Choi said. An international financial center located in southern China, Hong Kong has served as a bridge connecting China and ASEAN. Enhancing cooperation with ASEAN will not only create growth opportunities for Hong Kong, but bring China-ASEAN ties to a new phase of development as well, he noted. ^ top ^

Occupy Central leaders prepare to surrender as police make plans to clear sites (Xinhua)
2014-11-12
Occupy Central co-founders tentatively plan to turn themselves in to police next week, the South China Morning Post has learned. This comes as police sources say the force may begin executing from tomorrow the injunctions taken out against the Mong Kok and Admiralty sit-ins. A core member of Occupy Central told the Post that the three organisers of the civil disobedience movement and its volunteers were planning to surrender to police on Friday next week, in an attempt to show that they were willing to accept the legal consequences of joining the "unlawful" pro-democracy protest. "We will sit peacefully on the roads and let the police arrest us if the clearance starts earlier than Friday next week," the source said. "We don't want to surrender before Monday - when the Hong Kong-Shanghai stocks 'through train' officially kicks off - as the last thing we want to do is to give [Chief Executive] Leung Chun-ying a chance to show Beijing that he can 'resume social order' as he promised [President] Xi Jinping." However, the deputy leader of the Federation of Students, Lester Shum, had some reservations. "The police are already planning to clear the sites," he said. "I would rather be arrested than surrender." Acting Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor yesterday urged the protesters to leave the occupied sites as soon as possible, as police had already started preparations to execute the court orders. "To uphold the rule of law, police are preparing to enforce the law, including making arrests," she said yesterday. "An injunction is a solemn order made by the court, which should be fully respected and strictly followed by all." The three injunctions cover sections of Nathan Road, Mong Kok, and the space around Citic Tower in Admiralty, opposite government headquarters. Under the court orders, protesters face arrest if they prevent bailiffs removing barricades. Detectives from the elite organised crime and triad bureau, led by senior superintendent Brian Lowcock, had held day-long talks with the Department of Justice to discuss legal issues surrounding the implementation of the injunctions, according to a police source. An application from two subsidiaries of private transport operator Kwung Chung Bus for further injunctions to eject protesters from the main Admiralty protest site on Harcourt Road was held up at the High Court yesterday. Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-ching adjourned the case to next week so more evidence could be gathered. The companies had argued that the blockading of parts of Connaught Road Central and Harcourt Road had hit their business, including school bus services. Barrister Warren Chan SC, representing the bus companies, read letters from parents detailing how pupils had to wake up at 4.30am to catch school buses. "The world has turned upside down" since the protest campaign began, Chan said, and parents and pupils were exhausted and suffering in "hell". ^ top ^

Occupy site clearance may not occur till next week (SCMP)
2014-11-13
Legal wrangling and police preparations look set to delay until early next week official action to enforce controversial court injunctions aimed at dismantling barricades at Occupy Central sites in Admiralty and Mong Kok. The High Court permitted the force on Monday to move in and make arrests in the event of physical resistance from protesters. But amid police preparations for a site clearance, a group of students planned to open a new front - by blocking roads near the British consulate in Admiralty. Both protesters and the police are striving to ensure they do nothing that may see them lose legal or political credibility in the battle for the city's streets. [...] ^ top ^

Judge refuses to delay injunction that lets police help clear protesters (SCMP)
2014-11-14
A High Court judge yesterday refused to delay an injunction that will allow the police to assist bailiffs in clearing Occupy protest areas in Mong Kok and even arrest people who obstruct them. Two defendants, Dominic Fok Wai-pong and Ng Ting-pong, had filed applications to stay the court order, and also asked for leave to appeal after Mr Justice Au Hing-cheung rejected their application yesterday. The case will be heard in the Court of Appeal this afternoon. The protesters' legal team argued that the judge's ruling had been in error because he addressed the question of public order by way of civil litigation, but not by the government itself. They also said the drivers' group that applied for the injunction had failed to show they suffered substantial losses beyond those of the rest of the public. But Au found those grounds were not arguable and refused to grant them leave to appeal. He told the lawyers for the taxi and minibus drivers' group that he would hand down the order of injunction no later than today. Solicitor Maggie Chan Man-ki, for the minibus drivers, said that once they had the order they would follow all proper procedures, including publishing the terms of the order in newspapers and putting it up at protest areas before taking action. Barrister Margaret Ng, for the protesters, complained that the court and plaintiffs had failed to inform people in protest areas about the terms of the order since the judge handed down the judgment on Monday. "The order will affect a lot of people in the area. They have the right to know details of the court order and how it will be carried out. Otherwise, it will be unfair," Ng said. Occupy protesters in Mong Kok said they had seen unusual police behaviour this week and were preparing to retake areas if they were cleared. "We will not give up [the occupied streets] unconditionally," said Man Ip, 20, who has been camping in the protest areas. Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said police action would be justified. Although court injunctions were civil in nature, Yuen said an open refusal to comply with them constituted a "collateral criminal act in contravention of the rule of law". Meanwhile, 31 Occupy activists who were arrested during a clash with police in Lung Wo Road on October 15 were freed unconditionally yesterday. They had refused to keep making regular visits to a police station to renew their bail. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Gambling kingpin Paul Phua accused of making 'under the table' payment to Macau police (SCMP)
2014-11-12
A former Macau casino junket operator who is currently awaiting trial in Las Vegas has been accused of making a multimillion-dollar "under the table" payment to police in the former Portuguese enclave to secure his release from custody. Court documents filed this week by US federal prosecutors allege Asian gambling kingpin Paul Phua Wei-seng paid a police officer in Macau as much as HK$5 million shortly after his arrest in the world's richest gaming destination in June. Phua, who the US authorities also accuse of being a member of the 14K triad society, left Macau on a private jet bound for Las Vegas hours after he was detained. Within days of arriving in the US gaming mecca, he and a number of his associates were arrested in an FBI sting operation targeting online sports betting at Caesar's Palace Hotel in Las Vegas. Phua and several other men are expected to face trial in coming weeks. Malaysian national Phua, 50, has denied any wrongdoing. Phone transcripts lodged by prosecutors on Monday (US time) appear to show Phua's son Darren, 23, telling a friend via instant messaging that an "under the table" payment of between HK$4 million and HK$5 million would secure his father's release. The transcribed message in the court documents alleges that Phua's son tells another man: "We just received a call from Macau saying that the one who arrested Paul is a friend of Paul and they are negotiating now. Hopefully they just want money." Malaysian national Phua is considered by the FBI to be one of the key players in the online betting business. Legal documents - contested by Phua's lawyers - suggest he plays a major role in what is probably the world's largest online sports gambling agency - IBCBet. Yesterday Phua's lawyer David Chesnoff dismissed suggestions that he bribed his way out of police custody in the former Portuguese enclave. "We vehemently deny these allegations which, interestingly, were unknown to law enforcement but for their illegal search and were only cited to prejudice Mr Phua," said Chesnoff. A spokesman for the office of the Macau Secretary for Security said it did "not have any information to provide on this issue." The Macau Public Prosecutions Office, where Phua was reportedly sent after his arrest could not be reached for comment. Last month, Chesnoff filed motions to suppress evidence obtained by FBI agents during a search of Phua's Las Vegas villa which the defence lawyer deemed unconstitutional. The attorney also called on prosecutors to furnish "real evidence" of Phua's alleged involvement with the 14K. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

President Xi Jinping skirts prickly issues in meeting with Taiwanese envoy (SCMP)
2014-11-10
President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese envoy Vincent Siew Wan-chang steered clear of thorny issues like a stalled trade pact and top support on the island for protests in Hong Kong when they met in Beijing yesterday on the sidelines of Apec. Instead, Xi said it was inevitable that the two sides would encounter problems and they should respect each other's development path and social system, according to Xinhua. Mutual trust was the key to ensure a "correct direction and positive momentum" for cross-strait peace and development, he was quoted as saying. Siew said after the talks that the discussions did not touch on the failure of a cross-strait service trade pact to make it through Taiwan's parliament or Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's open support for the Occupy Central protests. But Siew said the two sides should examine difficulties in their economic ties. "As Xi said, it has never been a smooth road for cross-strait relations and there could be obstacles. I'm pleased to see that Xi is confident of advancing [cross-strait relations]," he said. The meeting came amid allegations from Beijing that Taiwan recruited mainland students as spies, and renewed scepticism on the island over the Beijing's "one country, two systems" reunification model following the protests in Hong Kong. Siew said that instead of raising the "one country, two systems" concept, Xi agreed that the 1992 consensus was the foundation of cross-strait relations. That consensus allows both Taipei and Beijing to retain their own interpretation of what China stands for in order to skirt political differences and allow dialogue. Siew also conveyed a message from Ma that the consensus would be the basis of steady progress on cross-strait relations. He added that he hoped more Taiwanese people could support cross-strait trade cooperation. The meeting followed talks on the weekend between Taiwanese Economic Affairs Minister Woody Duh Tyzz-jiun and mainland Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng, in which Gao pledged to speed up discussions on a merchandise trade pact allowing mainland-based Taiwanese companies to buy raw materials from Taiwan at lower prices. Wang Yu-chi, chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, is also expected to meet his mainland counterpart Zhang Zhijun for informal talks on Wednesday. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's overseas investment to hit 1.25 trillion USD in next decade (Xinhua)
2014-11-09
China's investment abroad in the next 10 years is expected to reach 1.25 trillion U.S. dollars, President Xi Jinping said on Sunday. He made the remarks while addressing the CEO Summit of the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings. In the next five years, China's import of goods is projected to exceed 10 trillion U.S. dollars while the number of outbound Chinese tourists will surpass 500 million, added the top leader of the world's second largest economy. In his speech at the summit, Xi reassured the world that China will advance opening-up at a higher standard. Xi said that China will ensure greater market access, increase openness of the services sector including the capital market and open up more hinterland and border areas. "China is committed to shaping an open economy in the Asia-Pacific featuring innovative development, interconnected growth and integrated interests," he said. Promoting innovative development, economic reform and growth is one of the topics that are prioritized at this year's APEC meetings. "We will explore the management model of pre-establishment national treatment plus the negative list, which will help China blaze new trails and gain fresh experience in the process of comprehensively deepening reform and opening-up," Xi said. He also said that the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) process will be launched this year and the Roadmap for APEC's Contribution to the Realization of an FTAAP will be formulated.^ top ^

China Railway Construction "extremely shocked" by Mexico's scrapping of rail deal (Xinhua)
2014-11-09
China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) said on Sunday it is "extremely shocked" by Mexico's decision to withdraw a high-speed rail deal with a China-Mexico joint consortium, pledging to resort to legal means to protect its interests if necessary. The statement came after Mexico's Ministry of Communications and Transport on Thursday announced it will annul the deal due to public concerns about the bidding process. Earlier, a Chinese-led consortium, including the China Railway Construction Corporation and several Mexican construction firms, won the bid to build a high-speed railway connecting Mexico City with the industrial hub of Queretaro to the north. While acknowledging the bid was legitimate, Mexico's Ministry of Communications and Transport said President Enrique Pena Nieto's decision to scrap the deal was aimed at expelling any public doubts on the project. The CRCC said it set up a legal team after being notified of the decision and vowed to resort to legal means to protect its legitimate interests if necessary. It stressed that the firm has strictly followed the public bidding procedures and requirements, and the bidding content complied with the requirements of the Mexican government. "The Mexican side bears whole responsibility for scrapping the deal. It has nothing to do with our company. We are closely watching any further developments," said the CRCC.^ top ^

FTAAP not against existing free trade arrangements: Xi (Xinhua)
2014-11-10
The proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) does not go against existing free trade arrangements in the region, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday. Xi made the remarks when speaking at the dialogue between the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders and representatives of the APEC Business Advisory Council. "The FTAAP does not go against existing free trade arrangements, which are the potential pathways to realize the FTAAP goals," Xi said. The FTAAP can be the "aggregation" of existing free trade arrangements, he said. The aim of pushing forward the FTAAP process is to consolidate the regional integration and define long-term goals, he added. Xi's statement came two days after a historic roadmap for the FTAAP has been sketched out at the ongoing APEC meetings. Ministers of the APEC members on Saturday agreed to "launch and comprehensively and systemically push forward the FTAAP process."^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

UN chief hails DPRK's release of two U.S. citizens (Xinhua)
2014-11-09
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Saturday welcomed the release of two U.S. nationals by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), voicing his hope that "the positive momentum for improving relations among the concerned parties" will be built on. Ban "appreciates the decision of the DPRK to release them" following the release last month of another American detainee Jeffrey Fowle, said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesman. "The secretary-general is relieved that they are safely returning home and commends the work of international partners in helping to secure their release," the statement said. "The secretary-general hopes that this positive momentum for improving relations among the concerned parties for peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and beyond will be built on," the statement added. Earlier Saturday, the United States confirmed and welcomed the release of the last two American detainees held by the DPRK. "We can confirm that U.S. citizens Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller have been allowed to depart the DPRK and are on their way home," the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement. It said James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence who engaged in discussions with Pyongyang about the release of the two detainees, was accompanying them on their way home. Bae, 42, and Miller, 24, have been held by the DPRK for two years and seven months respectively. They were sentenced to separate hard labor of 15 years and six years by Pyongyang. ^ top ^

Rise in N. Korean workers (Global Times)
2014-11-13
The number of North Korean workers in China is increasing, the Korea Joongang Daily reported. There were 93,000 North Korean workers in China in 2013, with an annual increase of around 20 percent over the past four years, according to data released by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) on Tuesday. There were only 54,000 North Korean workers in China in 2010. According to the newspaper, a North Korean worker makes on average 1,600 yuan ($261) per month, much lower than the monthly salary earned by a local worker. Choi Yong-min, the head of KITA's Beijing branch, said that companies in China are likely to increase their hiring of North Koreans in the mid and long term due to lower labor costs. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

China supports Mongolia to join APEC (Xinhua)
2014-11-08
Chinese President Xi Jinping voiced support for Mongolia to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) during a meeting with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj on Saturday. China welcomes Mongolia's entry into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and backs its participation in international and regional affairs, including joining the APEC, Xi said. China is also willing to work with Mongolia and Russia to build the economic corridor linking the three countries, he said. Xi visited Mongolia in August and the two countries upgraded their bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership. "I would like to keep a close contact with you. Legislatures, governments, parties, armed forces and civilian sectors of the two countries should enhance exchanges and cooperation," Xi said. China and Mongolia should sign the free trade treaty "as early as possible" and speed up the program to build a cross-border economic cooperation zone, he said. Xi noted that the primary cooperation areas should involve connectivity development, mining, power and agriculture. Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, who has met Xi for five times this year, said that Mongolia would like to push forward major cooperation programs in railway, mining and energy as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Mongolia expects to strengthen the three-party cooperation with China and Russia, he said. The Mongolian president is in Beijing for a dialogue on strengthening connectivity partnership on Saturday, which is also attended by leaders from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan and Tajikistan. ^ top ^

Prime Minister Of Mongolia Is Expected To Be Announced On December 08, 2014 (InfoMongolia)
2014-11-10
On November 07-08, 2014, the irregular 43rd Meeting of the National Consultative Committee of Democratic Party (DP) was held in the Government House behind the closed doors and following the two-day meeting as was expected to promote new Prime Minister of Mongolia, the DP Secretary General Mrs. Ts.Oyundari gave a press conference on November 09, 2014. The Secretary General noted the DP Consultative Committee revised the current situation of resigned Cabinet used to chair by Premier N.Altankhuyag, who was dismissed by Parliament decision on November 05, 2014 and following the two-day meeting, the DP members consequently agreed to call the Party Assembly Meeting scheduled on December 08, 2014. DP Secretary General Ts.Oyundari stressed that the National Consultative Committee of DP is authorized to raise a candidate for the Prime Minister of Mongolia and at the meeting it was decided to give this full privilege to incumbent Head of Democratic Party, MP N.Altankhuyag and other Parliamentarians. After consideration, the DP Group at the Parliament will submit the names of new Cabinet members to the National Consultative Committee before December 08, 2014. Under this privilege, the DP Group members are entrusted to negotiate with other political forces having seats at the Parliament (State Great Khural). Moreover, it was agreed to annul the Partnership Agreement established between the Head of DP N.Altankhuyag and the Head of MPRP N.Enkhbayar, which was signed last October 18th and brought a lot of conflicts among DP members. According to DP regulations, the Prime Minister will be announced within 30 days and therefore, it was decided to meet again and announce new Prime Minister of Mongolia on December 08, 2014. ^ top ^

Democratic Party Executive Committee promotes MP R.Amarjargal for the Prime Minister of Mongolia (InfoMongolia)
2014-11-13
On November 12, 2014, following the decision of the Democratic Party Group at the State Great Khural (Parliament), the DP Executive Committee members unanimously agreed to promote MP R.Amarjargal for the post of the Prime Minister of Mongolia and resolved to call the DP National Consultative Committee meeting tomorrow at 05:00 pm on November 14, 2014. At the DP Group meeting two candidates were revised as the incumbent Head of the Cabinet Secretariat Ch.Saikhanbileg and MP R.Amarjargal, but final decision was on behalf of MP R.Amarjargal as considered as an experienced politician, who formerly served as Premier of Mongolia in 1999-2000. If it would be finalized at the Consultative Committee meeting tomorrow, the promoted candidature issue will be consulted with other political forces having seats in the Parliament and then will be revised at the Standing Committee of the Parliament and if resolved would be submitted for an approval at the Parliament plenary session. Moreover, at the latter DP National Consultative Committee, it was decided to call the Party Assembly Meeting on December 08, 2014 and in conjunction, the Speaker of the Parliament Z.Enkhbold yesterday announced on his Twitter page to promote his name for the Head of Democratic Party. ^ 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.
 
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