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
  6-12.12.14, No. 553  
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Foreign Policy

China has given list of 100 fugitives to US, official says (SCMP)
2014-12-06
China has provided the US with a list of alleged fugitives from justice amid a campaign to track down corrupt officials and others who have fled abroad, an American official said yesterday. The US State Department's representative to recent law enforcement talks with China, William Brownfield, said the sides had agreed to a finite number of wanted individuals and would develop a strategy on how to deal with each. An American official speaking on condition of anonymity said Beijing had provided more than 100 names, but offered little information about their identities or possible whereabouts in the US. China launched Operation Fox Hunt in July, and 428 suspects had been apprehended so far, Xinhua reported the Ministry of Security as saying this week. But the effort has been hampered by a lack of extradition treaties with the US, Canada and some European Union nations, which cite concerns over the death penalty and whether suspects will get a fair trial. Without the treaties, China had been forced to consider alternatives, such as using immigration laws in overseas countries to trigger expulsions, Xu Hong, director general of the ministry's Department of Treaty and Law, said last month. Beijing had also looked into whether civil legal action can be taken to sue the fugitives, or pressing courts abroad to start criminal proceedings, he said. "We have actually talked to the United States, saying that in view of the increasing exchanges and cooperation between China and the US, should we consider signing an extradition treaty," Xu said. "However, it looks as though the US is not ready to do that yet." Xu said that only two fugitives had been extradited from the US back to China over the past two decades. "Overseas countries must strengthen their political willingness and discard their prejudices," he said. China has so far signed 39 extradition treaties with various nations, with 29 in force, plus 52 criminal judicial assistance treaties, with 46 in force. ^ top ^

China releases paper denouncing Philippine 'pressure' over sea dispute arbitration (SCMP)
2014-12-08
China yesterday rejected an attempt by the Philippines to challenge its vast territorial claims over the South China Sea through international arbitration, a week before a deadline for Beijing to respond to the case. In a position paper, China outlined its arguments against the jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague to take up the case filed by the Philippines last year that could have implications for Beijing's claims over the South China Sea. The document, released by the Foreign Ministry, reiterated that China would "neither accept nor participate in the arbitration", arguing Beijing believes a United Nations arbitration tribunal lacks jurisdiction over a territorial dispute between countries. […] The tribunal has given China until December 15 to reply in the case. The paper also said that Beijing had declared in 2006 that it would not accept compulsory arbitration or other dispute settlement procedures outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in regard to sovereignty, even though China is a signatory to the convention. Xu Hong, head of the ministry's treaty and law department, said the paper did not constitute a response to the tribunal and that the timing of the paper had nothing to do with the December 15 deadline, according to an interview with Xinhua. While the paper did little more than elaborate details of China's existing stance, analysts had mixed views on its release. Some called the document's release a "proactive" move while others said it was a "preemptive" move to cushion international fallout from an unfavourable decision at The Hague - even though Beijing is not required to attend the arbitration nor abide by its decisions. […] Beijing could choose to ignore the arbitration, and the verdict itself was not legally binding, Du [a research fellow at the Institute of Asia Pacific Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences] added. "But China may find itself more isolated internationally as the convention is still endorsed by a majority of countries, even though Beijing does not accept the arbitration." The Philippine government said it would study China's paper and might issue a response later, Charles Jose, the Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said. ^ top ^

China rejects US-sought carbon pledge review at UN climate talks (SCMP)
2014-12-08
China has rejected the scrutiny of efforts to limit carbon emissions, a key tool that the US says is necessary as more than 190 countries work to come up with a new deal to fight climate change. Chinese negotiators sought at a climate conference in Lima, Peru, to delete provisions in a draft text that would have paved the way for other countries and non-governmental organisations to submit questions about its carbon-reduction plans, according to environmental groups that are official observers to the talks. The pledges will be included in a global deal to be sealed next year and that starts in 2020. US lead climate envoy Todd Stern told reporters that all national pledges should be subject to scrutiny by other countries, saying "the sunshine is intended to prod countries to be as ambitious as possible" in limiting carbon emissions. The United States and China last month jointly announced efforts they plan to make under the new climate deal. "The spirit of constructive cooperation of the US-China agreement seems to have come to a full stop," Liz Gallagher, senior adviser to the policy analyst group E3G, said on Saturday in an interview in Lima, where two weeks of UN climate talks began last Monday. Chinese negotiator Su Wei did not immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment. "This is exactly the kind of risk that we face when hard lines are taken by parties," Tasneem Essop, a spokeswoman on climate policy for the environmental group WWF International, said. "It's early days … so we do hope that arties will soften their lines." Essop said her remarks referred to all nations. She also criticised what she called a "slash-and-burn" exercise by the United States, European Union, Australia, Canada and New Zealand to remove any reference to a review of the commitments they had made to cut emissions before 2020. ^ top ^

New rocket on drawing board (China Daily)
2014-12-08
Long March-9 expected to raise nation's capability for space expeditions. China is conducting preliminary research on a super-heavy launch vehicle that will be used in its manned missions to the moon. "We are discussing the technological feasibility and requirements of the Long March-9, and research on the solutions to some technical difficulties have started," said Li Tongyu, head of aerospace products at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. "Its specifications will mostly be determined by a host of factors, including the government's space plan and the nation's overall industrial capability, as well as its engine's development." The Long March-9's diameter and height will be much larger than those of the Long March-5, and its thrust will also be much stronger, he said. "Our current launch vehicles, including the Long March-5, which is set to conduct its first launch soon, will be able to undertake the country's space activities planned for the coming 10 years, but for the nation's long-term space programs, their capabilities will not be enough," he added, emphasizing the necessity and significance of a super-heavy rocket. […] The senior engineer noted that manned lunar missions will not be the sole use of the Long March-9, hinting that other deep-space exploration projects will also need the super-heavy vehicle. […] According to an earlier report by China News Service, Liang Xiaohong, deputy head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, disclosed that the Long March-9 is planned to have a maximum payload of 130 tons and its first launch will take place around 2028. [...] Once the Long March-9 is developed and put into service, China will be able to go deeper into space, as it has begun to draw an ambitious blueprint for exploration beyond the moon. The China National Space Administration has started preliminary research for the Mars exploration program and is persuading the government to include the project into the country's space agenda, according to Tian Yulong, secretary-general of the administration. In November, China made public a prototype of its Mars rover at an air show in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. Peng Tao, a space expert at the China Academy of Space Technology, the nation's leading developer of spacecraft, said at the exhibition that the country plans to conduct a Mars mission around 2020, which will include orbiting, landing and roaming operations by an unmanned probe. ^ top ^

China, EU hold 33rd round of human rights dialogue (Xinhua)
2014-12-09
China and EU here on Monday held the 33rd round of dialogue on human rights, exchanging views on issues including international cooperation on human rights and women's rights. The dialogue was co-chaired by Gerhard Sabathil, Director for East Asia and the Pacific in the European External Action Service, and Li Junhua, director-general of the Department of International Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Noting the two sides conducted "open and deep exchanges," Li said at a press briefing after the dialogue that China briefed EU on its human rights progress, especially the plans to comprehensively advance rule of law, which was mapped out at the recently concluded fourth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee. Li also called on the European side to objectively view China's achievements in human rights, based on the principle of equality and respect. "We welcome friendly and positive feedback from our international friends, but China has its own specific system to deal with human rights," Li said, noting China is confident about its own model. He added the human rights are a long-term project that requires long-term attention. Sabathil said the two sides have got more understanding about issues of each other's concern, and touched on future cooperation. The dialogue was launched in 1995. ^ top ^

China's Africa aid "not neocolonialism": official (Xinhua)
2014-12-09
A Ministry of Commerce (MOC) official said on Monday it is groundless and irresponsible to accuse China of carrying out so-called "neocolonialism" in Africa. Liu Junfeng, vice director of MOC's foreign assistance department, stressed that China provides foreign aid to help other countries realize poverty relief, better livelihood, faster growth and stronger self-dependence, which has been a steadfast rule in the past few decades. "Even in the old days when China was much less developed, people witnessed our continuous foreign assistance out of humanitarianism," he said. "It's extremely irresponsible and groundless to criticize China for grabbing resources and markets in Africa." "China's cooperation with African nations in fields of energy and resources follows global market rules," he said, adding that the aid and preferential loans provided to foreign nations mainly went to projects of agriculture, education, medical care, transportation, telecommunication and electricity. He said China had sent more than 50 medical teams with more than 4,000 professionals to Africa over the past 50 years. Most recently, some 500 Chinese doctors and health experts went to west Africa to assist the fight against Ebola. China has so far offered 400 billion yuan for 166 countries and international organizations, and helped finish more than 2,700 aid projects, he said. ^ top ^

China urges US to block bill on arms sales to Taiwan (Global Times)
2014-12-09
China's Foreign Ministry urged the United States to block a bill related to arms sales to Taiwan Monday. According to a media report, the US Senate passed a bill to authorize the president to sell Perry-class frigates to Taiwan Thursday. The US arms sales to Taiwan interfere in China's internal affairs, Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a routine press briefing, stressing China is firmly opposed to the bill and has made solemn representations with the US side. Hong said the move by the United States runs counter to the three China-US joint communiques, particularly the US commitments specified in the August 17 Communique signed in 1982, under which the United States agreed to gradually reduce arms sales to Taiwan. The US congress should stop the bill and US administrative authorities should take effective measures to block the bill so as to avoid hurting China-US ties, Hong said. ^ top ^

China, Ireland pledge closer partnership (Xinhua)
2014-12-09
Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with Irish President Michael D. Higgins Tuesday with both pledging to boost partnership between the two countries. Recalling his visit to Ireland as vice president in 2012, Xi said China and Ireland have set a good example of friendly coexistence between countries of different national conditions, different culture and different social systems, featuring mutual respect, equality, mutual understanding on each other's development path, mutual support on major issues, and friendly cooperation. China will continue to respect, trust, benefit, learn from and help each other with Ireland, and work with the Irish side to consolidate the mutually beneficial strategic partnership between the two counties, said the Chinese leader. As China is advancing a strategy of innovation-driven development and speeding up urbanization and agricultural modernization, the two countries can boost cooperation in these sectors, Xi said, highlighting Ireland's advantages in information technology, medicine, life science, and agriculture and husbandry. China encourages investment into Ireland, Xi said, looking forward to more cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. Xi said China attaches importance to Ireland's special role in the European Union and stands ready to work with Ireland on building a China-EU partnership of peace, growth, reform and civilization. Higgins said the two countries have similar views on many major issues and that Irish and Chinese people are good friends. The Irish side appreciates China's culture and admires China for its economic and social development achievements, Higgins said. China has seen great progress in human rights, with hundreds of millions of people lifted out of poverty. Higgins said he is confident of China's peaceful development and that President Xi's notion of the Chinese dream is of great significance for enhancing mutual trust and cooperation between different countries, and promoting peace and development in the world. Ireland is willing to work with China to address global challenges and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, Higgins said, voicing his hope to boost cooperation with China on economy, technology, education and culture as well as increase people-to-people exchanges. Ireland will work as a bridge between China and the European Union, he added. After the talks, Xi and Higgins witnessed the signing of some deals between the two sides. Prior to the talks, Xi held a red-carpet ceremony to welcome the visiting Irish president. ^ top ^

China's stealth fighter could 'take down' US rival F-35, says confident maker (SCMP)
2014-12-10
China's new stealth fighter could certainly "take down" its main combat opponent, the president of China's top aircraft maker said yesterday, referring to the US-made Lockheed Martin F-35. Lin Zuoming, president of Aviation Industry Corp of China (Avic), which has developed the J-31 stealth fighter, made the remarks in an interview with state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV). "When it takes to the sky, it could definitely take down the F-35," he said. "It's a certainty." Lin also emphasised the company's desire to compete with the US in new markets, in particular countries that the US will not sell military equipment to or cannot afford the pricier F-35. The US fighter also had input from some Nato members and other allies. "The next-generation air forces that are unable to buy the F-35 have no way to build themselves up. We don't believe the situation should be that way," Lin said. "The world should be balanced. Good things shouldn't all be pushed to one party." China unveiled the highly anticipated twin-engine fighter jet at the Zhuhai air show last month, a show of muscle during a visit to the country by US President Barack Obama. Stealth aircraft are key to China developing the ability to carry out both offensive and defensive operations, the Pentagon said in a report about developments in China's military. The J-31 is China's second homemade stealth fighter jet. President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen the 2.3 million-strong PLA as China takes a more assertive stance in the region, particularly in the South China and East China seas. ^ top ^

China Focus: China concerned about U.S. Senate torture report (Xinhua)
2014-12-10
Chinese media coverage of a much-anticipated report released by the United States Senate, on the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) torture of terrorists suspects after the Sept. 11 attacks, gripped the nation on Wednesday. Ironically, the report, which included a list of the ten major interrogation techniques used by the CIA, was released on the eve of Dec. 10, Human Rights Day -- the day the world honors the United Nations' (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). State television China Central Television (CCTV) covered the story during its early morning program, with its Washington D.C. correspondent, Wang Guan, focusing on the brutality and questionable effect of the brutal interrogation techniques the CIA used on detainees, who it held without trial on the basis that they were suspected members of al-Qaeda. "[The questioning under torture] didn't result in Osama bin Laden being found, according to the report," said Wang Guan, adding that the CIA had also lied about the number of detainees it had tortured. It was also revealed that the interrogators would not face criminal charges despite the fact that their behavior violated U.S. laws and the Geneva Convention. CCTV's 15-minute coverage also exposed that before its release the long-delayed report had undergone editing due to political pressure. The anchorman called the report "a heavy slap in the face of the American government", which has long portrayed itself to be a defender of human rights. Although most of Wednesday's morning newspapers missed releasing of the report due to publishing deadlines, the Beijing News, which has a daily circulation of more than 500,000, still managed to dedicate a whole page to the story with a map detailing where and how torture had occurred. The paper also quoted former U.S. president George W. Bush, who, during an interview with CNN, said that the CIA were "patriots". The Communist Party of China-run Global Times ran a front-page story on the report on Tuesday, based on foreign media coverage, analyzing the content and possible impact the report would have. In addition, the Internet has been abuzz with the news, with users of Chinese social media passionately debating the report's content. Observers attributed the Chinese public's interest in the report to the blatant contradictions between what the U.S. said it did and the actually reality. Netizens criticized the interrogation techniques used by the CIA, which not only violated the International Human Rights Law but also ran contrary to the values the U.S. claims to uphold. However, opinion was divided, with some saying that although the way in which the U.S. treated these suspects was wrong, counter-terrorism efforts should continue. [...] ^ top ^

China's President Xi to mark Nanking Massacre amid improving relations with Japan (SCMP)
2014-12-11
President Xi Jinping is expected to attend the first national memorial day for the Nanking Massacre on Saturday, as China marks a deeply symbolic anniversary while it tries to improve ties with old foe Japan. China consistently reminds its people of the 1937 massacre in which it says Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in its then capital. A post-war Allied tribunal put the death toll at 142,000, but some conservative Japanese politicians and scholars deny a massacre took place. China and Japan have long sparred over their history. In March, Japan lodged a protest with China over comments in Germany by Xi about the massacre. [...] Xi, who met Abe in Beijing in November, is expected to attend the memorial in Nanjing, diplomatic sources said. He will have to tread a fine line between reminding Japan of what happened and not derailing the thaw in ties. “They don't want to work things up,” said a Beijing-based diplomat. “China wants to appear conciliatory while also not forgetting the past.” Former Chinese minister Tang Jiaxuan, who heads a committee on improving relations with Japan, dispensed with the usual fiery words last week when talking about next year's 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war. “The 70th anniversary is an important opportunity for Japan to renew how it looks on and thinks of history, to unload its burden by facing up to and reflecting on history, to have real reconciliation with its Asian neighbours,” Tang said. That is not to suggest China will start playing down the massacre. In the days running up to the memorial, the government has been releasing accounts of the violence from its archives. Xinhua news agency carried excerpts from the diary of Nanjing teacher Cheng Ruifang, who recorded how Japanese soldiers “killed and raped at will, regardless of the victims' ages”. [...] ^ top ^

Massacre survivors, relatives urge Japan to reflect in letter to UN (China Daily)
2014-12-11
The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall said on Wednesday - Human Rights Day - 3,361 survivors and relatives of the massacre victims have sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and human rights officials to call for Japan's introspection over history. According to the memorial hall, the survivors and the victims' relatives chose to disclose the news on the Human Rights Day to draw worldwide attention and to urge the Japanese government to reflect on its aggression and the harm it did to the Chinese people. "China and Japan can only be truly reconciled when both of the two sides respect the historical facts," the letter said. It also said that the massacre "flagrantly violated human conscience and human rights and marred human civilization", and that the misdeeds of the right-wing forces and some politicians in Japan are "violating human rights" yet again. "The right-wing forces in Japan have been challenging the history for all those years, repeatedly denying the hard facts of the Nanjing Massacre. Some Japanese politicians have been making offerings to the Yasukuni Shrine where Class-A war criminals including Iwane Matsui are honored. Their misdeeds are doing great harm to the family members of the deceased and survivors of the Nanjing Massacre!" The letter said that such behavior will misdirect Japanese people's concept of history, especially among the youth, "and will create troubles for friendly exchanges between China and Japan, as well as for peace in Asia and in the world". Zhu Chengshan, the memorial hall's curator, said that the letter was drafted by the survivors and the victims' relatives, and sent in their name and that of the China Society for Human Rights Studies in seven languages. The letter was sent on Nov 28 to Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, Baudelaire Ndong Ella, president of the UN Human Rights Council, and Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for Human Rights. No reply has been received so far, according to the memorial hall. [...] ^ top ^

Fidel Castro wins China's 'Confucius Peace Prize' (SCMP)
2014-12-11
Fidel Castro has been awarded China's version of the Nobel Peace Prize. The former Cuban leader beat more than 20 nominees including South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a regional group led by Moscow and Beijing, to win this year's Confucius Peace Prize, the mainland's state-run Global Times reported. The Cuban revolutionary was selected by nine judges out of a group of 16 experts and scholars. "While in office, Castro didn't resort to violence or force to settle disputes in international relations, especially with the United States," the Global Times wrote. "After his retirement, he has been actively meeting with leaders and groups from all over the world and has made important contributions to emphasising the need to eliminate nuclear war," it added. The Confucius prize was first given out in 2010, when it was awarded to Taiwan's Lien Chan. However, the suddenness of the announcement and the timing - just two days before jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, much to Beijing's anger - sparked claims it had been set up under the government's guidance. A Cuban exchange student received this year's award on Castro's behalf at a ceremony on Tuesday, one day before Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi accepted their joint Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. […] The Foreign Ministry yesterday denied any government connection to the Confucius Peace Prize. The award was "organised by a civil organisation in China, which showcases their aspirations for world peace", spokesman Hong Lei said. In 2011 the ministry ordered organisers to scrap the Confucius prize, but academics pressed ahead and awarded it to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping shared the award in 2012. Yi Cheng, a Zen master who is the honorary head of the Buddhist Association of China, was awarded it last year. ^ top ^

China rejects U.S. officials' criticism of China's human rights situation (Xinhua)
2014-12-11
China on Thursday rejected criticism of its human rights situation from U.S. officials, urging the United States to focus more on its own human rights issues and stop its groundless accusations against China. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks in response to comments made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus on Human Rights Day on Wednesday. The people are best qualified to speak on the human rights situation of their own country, Hong said, adding that the United States has no right to act as a referee and make irresponsible remarks about other countries. Hong said the United States is also facing serious problems in racial discrimination and prisoner abuse. "We hope the United States will put more effort into examining and improving its own human rights situation," he said. China has witnessed continuous improvement of human rights since its reform and opening up, Hong said, adding that if the United States attempts to discredit China, it will expose its hypocrisy and double standards on human rights. ^ top ^

China dismisses Vietnam's sovereignty claim for South China Sea islands (Xinhua)
2014-12-12
China has dismissed Vietnam's sovereignty claim for the Nansha and Xisha islands in the South China Sea, saying it is "illegal and invalid" and "China will never accept such claim." Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the comment on late Thursday after Vietnam's foreign ministry said Vietnam held sovereignty over the Nansha and Xisha islands and objected to China's nine-dash line stance. Vietnam also said its position has been made clear to the Arbitral Tribunal on the South China Sea Arbitration initiated by the Philippines. Hong said China holds indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the surrounding waters while the Xisha Islands have been China's inherent territory, without any dispute on this. In 1948, the Chinese government published an official map that displayed the dotted line in the South China Sea. China's sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea formed and evolved over a long course of history. They are solidly grounded in history and law and have been continuously upheld by the Chinese Government, Hong said. The nine-dash line takes in about 80 percent of the 3.5 million square kilometers of the South China Sea on Chinese maps. This boundary was first officially published on a map in 1948 and has been included in subsequent maps issued after 1949. "China urges Vietnam to earnestly respect our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and resolve relevant disputes regarding Nansha with China on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law so as to jointly maintain peace and stability on the South China Sea," Hong said. The Chinese Government publishes a Position Paper on Dec. 7 to elaborate on the legal basis for China's position that the Arbitral Tribunal manifestly has no jurisdiction in this case and to demonstrate that China's position not to accept or participate in the proceedings stands on solid ground in international law. Hong said China's stance on the arbitration will not change. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Zhou Yongkang can expect tougher treatment than Bo Xilai: analysts (SCMP)
2014-12-07
Zhou Yongkang, the former security tsar and Politburo Standing Committee member, is likely to face a suspended death sentence, a tougher penalty than the one meted out to disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, analysts say. Announcing yesterday that Zhou had been expelled from the Communist Party and would face prosecution, Xinhua listed six key areas in which he had violated "party and organisational discipline and secrecy". One of those claims was leaking state secrets, which Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said could pave the way for a closed trial. […] He said the state secrets claim was just an excuse to depart from the open hearings of Bo's trial. Bo was sentenced to life in prison last year on charges of bribery, corruption and abuse of power. "Bo's open hearing was not good because Bo's public image was not destroyed by it. If Zhou doesn't want to cooperate with the authorities, he could embarrass the central leadership," Zhang said. Chen Daoyin, from Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said the state secrets referred to in the statement could be "some internal discussions about an upcoming Politburo personnel reshuffle". "Zhou might have used his position to leak some information to officials and candidates, or even overseas media, to manipulate a reshuffle of the party leadership," Chen said. Zhang said a verdict against Zhou could result in anything ranging from a death sentence to a suspended death sentence. But Zhou's execution could not be ruled out given President Xi Jinping's "fearless political style". But other analysts said Zhou was likely to be given a suspended death sentence at most. […] Xinhua said the Politburo decided to hand over Zhou's case after hearing a report on violations uncovered by the party's anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection last December. Zhou is so far the most senior official to be brought down since Xi declared a nationwide anti-corruption drive two years ago. […] Chen said: "I don't think the results of that investigation could indicate that Zhou is more evil than Bo or other disgraced senior officials. Those accusations could be applied to anyone involved in corruption. "The downfall of Zhou and his subordinates just proves that they are losers of power struggles in the party. The accusations of economic crimes and violations of party and moral principles are just excuses to bring them down." Zhang Ming said all of the senior officials to fall so far had grass-roots backgrounds, and no officials and entrepreneurs with a princeling background like Xi had been investigated. Zhang Lifan said he was disappointed that the accusations against Zhou did not reflect public complaints about Zhou's violent suppression of civil protests during his decade at the top. ^ top ^

Almost a quarter of China's bottled 'purified' water is sub-standard: report (SCMP)
2014-12-08
Almost a quarter of purified drinking water tested by China's top safety watchdog has been found to be substandard, with many products containing excessive levels of bacteria, the official Shanghai Daily newspaper said on Monday. The findings underline the challenge to controlling supply chains in China, after a slew of food safety scares over the past year from donkey meat products contaminated with fox to heavy metals found in infant food. The Food and Drug Administration found excessive bacteria in purified water products from the nation's biggest drinks maker, Wahaha Group, as well as C'estbon Beverage and Danone SA's Robust brand, the newspaper said. In a statement posted on the official Xinhua news agency's website, Wahaha said it had recalled the affected products and cut its supply relationship with the water station where it said the contamination occurred. C'estbon and Robust were not immediately available for comment. Chinese consumers either boil water for drinking or rely on bottled or barrelled water because of high levels of pollution in waterways. The CFDA checked 2,088 batches of purified drinking water and found that 23 per cent were substandard, the Shanghai Daily reported. Most failed the tests for excessive levels of bacteria. ^ top ^

China punishes 11,114 environmental violations (Xinhua)
2014-12-08
Chinese environmental authorities handed out punishment in 11,114 cases in the third quarter of this year, as the country reinforces a crackdown on environmental violations. Violators were fined a total of 483.45 million yuan (78.9 million U.S. dollars), the Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a statement on Monday. Environmental authorities at all levels transferred 371 cases of suspected environment-related crimes, such as discharging heavy metal or persistent organic pollutants, to the police for criminal investigations. East China's Zhejiang Province tops the list of cases transferred to police, with 173 cases uncovered in the region. Many companies involved have been shut down, according to the ministry. ^ top ^

China's top court mulls new rules on police interrogations (SCMP)
2014-12-09
The country's top court was expected to clarify rules on illegally obtained evidence by the end of the year, outlawing long, gruelling interrogations and specifying court procedures for excluding such evidence, mainland media reported yesterday. The proposed rules are contained in a draft Supreme People's Court judicial interpretation that includes a detailed definition of illegally obtained evidence and confessions, The Beijing News reported. If implemented, the rules would for the first time widen the definition of illegal interrogation to include any questioning sessions that lasted more than 12 hours. The South China Morning Post reported last month that the court might also require police to present video of the entire interrogation process to testify to the validity of the evidence. Changes to the Criminal Procedure Law two years ago outlawed some interrogations to protect the basic rights of the suspects. It bans "judges, procuratorial personnel and investigators from extorting confessions and using torture, threats, enticement, deception or other unlawful means to collect evidence". But analysts said there had been few reported cases of such evidence being excluded because the definitions and relevant court procedures were too vague to be implemented. The judicial interpretation would fill those gaps in a legal system in which lengthy interrogations had become common practice in some police departments, analysts said. If not, the interpretation would just be another "scrap of paper", they said. "I've witnessed many cases where courts have admitted police evidence obtained through long hours of interrogation … after the police filed a brief statement that basically said their questioning did not constitute illegal interrogation," Beijing lawyer Li Xun said. Hong Daode, a criminal procedure law specialist from China University of Political Science and Law, said the top court needed to clarify court procedure for the rules to be implemented. "There are questions that need to be answered, including when a defendant's lawyer can question the validity of police evidence, what kind of proof lawyers or prosecutors must present to determine the validity of evidence, and whether the trial can proceed if evidence is in question," Hong said. He said he was concerned that the interpretation would be rejected by the Ministry of Public Security, the ministry in charge of police officers handling interrogations. "The ministry could easily argue that the clauses on gruelling interrogations lack a legislative foundation," Hong said. ^ top ^

Young migrant workers pushing reforms (Global Times)
2014-12-09
China's young migrant workers are becoming more active in pushing for labor union reform, according to a recent Tsinghua University report, which warns that ignoring workers' demands could lead to labor rights activism. A report released by Tsinghua University's Department of Sociology and China Youth Development Foundation shows that the young generation of migrant workers, who were born since 1980, have shown a stronger desire to form labor unions and are becoming more active in advocating reforms in workers' unions, news portal caixin.com reported Monday. Because of the increasing use of temporary staff and flexible work shifts by Chinese companies, young migrant workers have fewer chances to socialize and bond with their colleagues, hence becoming more isolated, according to the report. "The young generation has realized from the previous generation's experience that their fight for labor rights will not be effective until they do it collectively. As individuals, they lack the bargaining power and resources to fight for their rights," said Wang Jiangsong, a professor at the China Institute of Industrial Relations. The report said that more than half of young migrant workers it polled have received secondary or higher education. Better education and exposure to the Internet and social media have given these young workers knowledge and access to be aware of their rights and to voice their demands, said Wang. "These young workers have a much stronger desire to develop a sustainable career and blend into urban areas than their parents. China's farmlands are declining, leaving the young generation of migrant workers no alternative career options like returning to their hometown and becoming a farmer," he said. But with the slow development of labor rights, Wang said there is a huge gap between their expectations and the reality that their unions have failed to protect their interests. China's labor unions are usually led by management, while attempts to establish a worker-led union have been difficult, said Wang. Young workers have taken to suicides and violence to fight for labor rights, said the report. It went on to say that these workers may even resort to joining underground gangs for help if traditional workers' unions fail to support their demands. In June 2011, thousands of poorly paid garment workers in Zengcheng resorted to riots and strikes allegedly involving gang members in the Pearl River Delta region. The rise in labor unrest has prompted some unions like those in Shenzhen and Guangdong Province to adopt union leadership elections and collective bargaining. In 2013, government records showed that China had 269 million migrant workers, with younger workers accounting for 46.6 percent. Their average monthly salary in 2013 was 2,609 yuan ($423). ^ top ^

China to regulate preferential tax policies (Xinhua)
2014-12-09
China will regulate preferential tax policies, forbidding local taxation authorities from making such policies, according to a statement released Tuesday by the central government's website. The State Council, China's cabinet, recently issued a notice on trimming local preferential tax measures that may impair market mechanisms and macro controls, in some cases leading to international trade frictions. The statement stressed that the move aims to build a more orderly and open market and fight against regional protectionism, seeking to eliminate the barriers hindering free flows and give full play to the dominant role of market in resource distribution. Adhering to the tax statutory principle, the regulation bans any form of preferential tax policies without approval by the State Council, except for the tax administrative privilege set by laws. The notice also demanded higher standards for managing non-tax revenues from selling land, state-owned asset and illegal exemption from compulsory fees. Meanwhile, fiscal expenditure shall be strictly arranged to abolish any kind of illegal returns, subsidies and discounts. The notice set a deadline for local governments to give detailed reports on their regulation processes to the Ministry of Finance by the end of March 2015. ^ top ^

Mongol dissident Hada freed but in poor health, family says (SCMP)
2014-12-10
One of the country's longest-serving political prisoners, the ethnic Mongol dissident Hada, who spent much of the last two decades behind bars, has been freed, a family member said yesterday. Beijing fears ethnic unrest in strategic border areas and keeps a tight rein on Inner Mongolia, just as it does on Tibet and Xinjiang in the far west, even though the region is supposed to have a large measure of autonomy. "He's not in good health," the dissident's uncle, Haschuluu, said, adding that Hada's younger brother had told him of the release, which took place yesterday morning in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. He declined to comment further. Many Mongols in China go by just one name. Hada was tried behind closed doors in 1996 and jailed for 15 years for separatism, spying and supporting the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, which sought greater rights for China's ethnic Mongols. He said the charges were trumped up. After being released in December 2010, he had to serve a separate four-year sentence of "deprivation of political rights", mostly in an illegal detention centre in Inner Mongolia, his family said. Hada's wife Xinna, who lives in Hohhot, and their son, Uiles, have also been in and out of detention over the past few years. Calls to the Inner Mongolia government to seek comment went unanswered. ^ top ^

Green groups name and shame China's publicly listed polluters (SCMP)
2014-12-10
Mainland environmental groups have named and shamed big publicly listed polluters, accusing more than 200 Shanghai or Hong Kong-listed firms of worsening the country's smog crisis with unchecked emissions exceeding national standards. Using pollution data published by government agencies, the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) for the first time compiled an extensive database of public companies' environmental practices, finding that 1,069 of the firms, or more than 40 per cent of those on the mainland, had recorded violations. The biggest environmental offenders were firms involved in the power, cement, non-ferrous metal smelting, iron and steel, and chemical sectors, the group found. The group found that 34 out of 36 listed iron and steel companies on the mainland had environmental violation records. And nearly 80 per cent of the mainland's listed power companies also had a record of breaches. The group tracked more than 200 companies - many of them large state-owned firms - in the biggest smog-related sectors over 92 days between August and October, and found widespread environmental violations by their local branches and subsidiaries. In Beijing yesterday, the institute and two local green groups from Hunan and Jiangsu provinces singled out a number of listed companies for repeated violations. These companies included top state enterprises Sinochem International Corp and Aluminum Corp of China Ltd (Chinalco). "Some of their subsidiaries were even emitting beyond national standards for most of the time during the 92-day period, meaning they were not running their pollution treatment facilities at all," IPE director Ma Jun said. "Such findings are alarming, especially because many of the publicly listed companies are large state-owned firms, which should have better resources to tackle pollution. "It also shows the failure of oversight of the local authorities." Ma said that power plants, coking companies, cement mills and aluminium smelters in Shandong and Hebei provinces, the mainland's most polluted areas, pumped out high levels of pollution even on days of heavy smog, when emergency regulations demand a cut in production. [...] ^ top ^

Court begins ConocoPhillips Bohai Bay oil spill case (Global Times)
2014-12-10
A court began hearing arguments on the Bohai Bay oil spill incident, which involved the multinational oil and gas producer ConocoPhillips and the State-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), on Tuesday in Tianjin, three years after the incident occurred. Twenty-one fishermen who used to own sea cucumber farms in Hebei Province are suing ConocoPhillips and CNOOC for 142 million yuan ($22 million). The fishermen claim the two companies failed to inform the public in time when the oil spill occurred at the Penglai 19-3 oil field, which had polluted a wide swath of the Bohai Bay including their farms. ConocoPhillips said it had immediately reported the incident to the State Oceanic Administration and had carried out clean-up work. Also, according to evaluation reports, the oil spill did not pollute the marine area of the fishermen's farms. CNOOC also claimed the fishermen have no right to seek compensation because the farms were illegal while some of the fishermen were not the registered owners of the farms. It also said that there is insufficient evidence to show the oil spill damaged the fishermen's business. However the fishermen said tests on samples of sea water near the farms showed the presence of oil in the water and that the oil was the same as that from the Penglai oil field. In September 2011, ConocoPhillips was ordered to suspend its production in the bay, following a series of oil spills in the oil field in June of that year. The spills were called "severe accidents" by the State Oceanic Administration as they had tainted some 10 percent of Bohai Bay. It took three years to begin court hearings because ConocoPhillips was registered in Libya at the time the country was facing turmoil, China National Radio reported. Jia Fangyi, an attorney who provided legal advice to other fishermen in similar lawsuits, told the Global Times that Tuesday's court hearing was a boost for other fishermen who are waiting for compensation. He also said the fishermen deserve compensation whether or not they were farming legally. ^ top ^

Former senior economic planning official sentenced to life in prison (Xinhua)
2014-12-10
A Chinese court sentenced former senior economic planning official Liu Tienan to life imprisonment on Wednesday. The former deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, and former head of the National Energy Administration was convicted of bribery by the Langfang Intermediate People's Court in north China's Hebei Province. Liu has been stripped of his political rights for life and all personal property and wealth will be confiscated. The court ruled that Liu had accepted bribes of 35.58 million yuan (5.8 million U.S. dollars) from 2002 to 2012, personally or through his son Liu Decheng. He was found guilty of abuse of power by securing profits for four companies -- including Nanshan Group, a chemical firm based in east China's Shandong Province, Zhongjin Petrochemical Co. Ltd. based in east China's Zhejiang Province, GAC Group in south China's Guangdong Province and Zhejiang Hengyi Group Co. Ltd. -- as well as several individuals. The court confirmed that all the dirty money amassed by Liu had been returned to the state. Liu's trial closed in September but it took until Wednesday for the court to deliver its verdict. The court said the mitigating circumstances included Liu's honesty about most of his crimes and showed remorse. When asked for his plea, Liu said he had accepted his guilt and would accept any punishment. "Faced with the facts, I have been asking myself every time I read the indictment, is this me? How did I end up like this?" said a tearful Liu, according to court scripts posted on one of the court's official social media accounts in September. "Each morning, I wonder where I am and how I have ended up in this state," said Liu, adding that he had also been a bad influence on his son. Liu's case was brought to light through allegations posted online. Luo Changping, then a deputy editor of the magazine Caijing, disclosed Liu's suspected misconduct on social media and the post drew nationwide attention. ^ top ^

Former SOE executive sentenced to death for huge graft (Xinhua)
2014-12-10
A former executive of a state-owned enterprise (SOE) in south China's Guangdong Province was sentenced to death on Wednesday on charges of bribery and embezzlement amounting to nearly 400 million yuan (65 million U. S. dollars). The suspect, Zhang Xinhua, 52, was the general manager of the state-owned Baiyun Industrial and Agricultural Corporation in Guangzhou City. In addition to the death sentence, he also got all personal assets confiscated, according to the intermediate people's court of Guangzhou. The court's investigation shows from June 1998 to May 2013, Zhang took 56.8 million yuan and 7.3 million Hong Kong dollars in bribes by offering helps to institutions and individuals who bought land from Baiyun or collaborated with Baiyun in real estate development. After 2003, Zhang registered two companies without the consent of his superiors, and transferred property and land owned by Baiyun to the two companies by illegal means such as fabricating debts, underrating assets, and fraud litigation. It is evaluated that he embezzled more than 280 million yuan of public assets through these means. The court also found that in 2010 and 2011, Zhang received 35.29 million HK dollars and 4.5 million yuan in bribes in exchange for favors in debt restructuring and land deals involving one of the two companies mentioned above and a company in Jiangmen city, Guangdong Province. Zhang lodged an appeal at the trial. ^ top ^

CPC disciplinary watchdog to supervise more central Party, government organs (Xinhua)
2014-12-11
The Communist Party of China's (CPC's) disciplinary watchdog will establish resident offices in four CPC central organs to intensify anti-graft work, it was decided on Thursday. Similar branches will also be set up in the country's top legislature, top political advisory body and the General Office of the State Council, or the cabinet. It is the first time the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) has sent resident supervisors to the CPC Central Committee's General Office, Organization Department, Publicity Department and United Front Work Department, and the National People's Congress, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and the General Office of the State Council. The decision was made at a Standing Committee meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Thursday. The move is an important step for establishing CCDI offices at all central Party and government organs in future, said the CCDI's deputy secretary Chen Wenqing. The central Party and government authorities are organs of supreme power and main center of the country's governance system. However, graft cases in recent years within some of these organs have caused very bad impacts, said Chen, adding it is "imperative" and very necessary to strengthen supervision over them. According to Chen, resident disciplinary offices had already been established in 52 central government organs. Thursday's decision was part of the work to set up CCDI offices at all 140 central Party and government organs. These offices will focus on the function of supervision, being responsible for disciplinary inspection, pressing implementation of party disciplines and tracing accountability, according to the decision. With the core tasks of building a clean party and government and fighting corruption, the CCDI will improve the work system of these offices to ensure their authority and effectiveness and strengthen their role in supervising and tracing accountability, Chen said. ^ top ^

China's supreme court urges efficient trials of IPR cases (Xinhua)
2014-12-11
A senior official of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) has called for improved efficiency in the trials of intellectual property rights (IPR) cases, according to a SPC statement published Thursday. Tao Kaiyuan, vice president of the SPC, said the special courts for IPR cases should push forward a reform that is focused on trialing while working out ways to handle the increasing number of cases. China established its first special court for IPR cases in Beijing in early November. Two similar courts in Shanghai and Guangzhou are scheduled to open by the end of this year, according to the SPC. In August, China's top legislature approved the SPC's plan to set up three special courts for IPR cases in an effort to improve efficiency and quality of trials in IPR cases. The courts will specialize in civil and administrative lawsuits regarding patents, new plant varieties and technological knowledge. While on a fact-finding tour at the IPR court in Beijing, Tao said the courts should better management and improve their ability to examine and confirm evidence. The Beijing IPR court handled 221 cases in one month since being established on Nov. 6, according to data from the State Intellectual Property Office. About 63 percent of the cases are administrative lawsuits regarding patents and brands, according to the office. Chinese courts dealt with more than 88,000 new IPR cases in 2013, up 1.3 percent from the year before, according to the SPC. ^ top ^

China launches university 'time out' scheme so students can start their own businesses (SCMP)
2014-12-11
Entrepreneurial students at mainland universities can now defer their studies to start their own businesses in a move by authorities to deal with an increasing number of graduates. Next summer's record 7.5 million graduates - 220,000 more than last year - will put pressure on the job market, according to the Ministry of Education. In a circular on Wednesday, it asked universities for greater flexibility, including allowing students to defer studies if they wanted to try out a business idea. Unlike Western counterparts who often take a gap year, mainland students must complete their studies, usually four years for degrees, without interruption. Universities will also be required to offer courses with academic credits in entrepreneurship, and invite business owners, investors and academics to mentor promising students. Practical assistance in business registration, raising capital and tax reduction would also help students succeed. Students will be encouraged to open online businesses where they can attract funding and support from financial institutions, non-governmental organisations, trade associations and other companies. The ministry is to release data on graduate employment next September and report on their employment rate in December. Graduate employment is a key concern for the state leadership, as many struggle to find jobs upon finishing their studies. […] According to Xinhua, the success rate of first-time start-ups is only 2.4 per cent, and even in Zhejiang, where e-commerce is popular, the rate is just 5 per cent. […] Liu Gang, director of China Hub, a Beijing-based organisation that provides entrepreneurial training, said the low success rate did not matter because starting a company was a process of failures followed by success. Students learnt more about innovation this way than by working at large companies, he said. ^ top ^

Police nab 44,000 in China's anti-drug war (Xinhua)
2014-12-12
Chinese police arrested 44,000 suspects for drug-related crimes in the past two months, seizing more than 21 tons of various drugs, the Ministry of Public Security revealed Thursday. About 180,000 drug users were also punished, according to the ministry's statistics. The police have uncovered another 91,653 new drug users since October, when a nationwide campaign was launched to "ban drugs in hundreds of cities," with 55,679 people placed under compulsory rehab programs, the ministry said. The campaign will last until April next year. The southwestern province of Yunnan had the most drug crimes discovered. Police arrested 3,084 suspects and captured 5 tons of drugs in the province which neighbors Myanmar and Vietnam. The ministry said it has strengthened efforts in cutting off inflows of drugs from Yunnan and other border areas. China has reinforced its crackdown on drug-related crimes in recent years, which began with several celebrities being caught for drug offenses. Beijing police arrested talent show star Li Daimo in March for taking drugs in a rented house. Jaycee Chan, son of martial artist and actor Jackie Chan, was arrested on Aug. 14 in Beijing along with noted Taiwan movie star Kai Ko, following a marijuana bust in his residence. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Touch screen maker Wintek lays off 7,000 in China as 200 firms demand money (SCMP)
2014-12-11
More than 7,000 employees of Taiwanese touch screen maker Wintek Corporation were laid off yesterday at its factories in Dongguan, Guangdong province, where more than 200 mainland suppliers have spent the past week protesting against unpaid debts they say total 230 million yuan (HK$290 million). Dozens of armed civilian policemen guarded the two plants - Dongguan Masstop Liquid Crystal Display in Dongcheng district and Wintek (China) Technology in the Songshan Lake Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone - as the workers left in the afternoon. Most went peacefully, having received compensation and their last month's salary, though suppliers vented their anger. "Wintek shut down the factories suddenly. It's an absolute swindle of more than 200 mainland suppliers," said Hu Zhi, a supplier who says he's owed two million yuan. "All the Taiwanese managers ran away. Our mainland suppliers have no way to contact the Taiwanese company. If the local authorities do not help us to reach Wintek over the undischarged debts, many of us will also face capital chain failure and have to back-pay our workers." Huang Wei, manager of Dongguan-based Huixin Company, said Wintek owed his company 600,000 yuan. Wintek reported a loss of NT$10 billion (HK$2.48 billion) last year, and NT$3 billion in the first half of this year. It filed to a Taiwan court in mid-October for financial restructuring. Most workers received compensation according to the labour law, said worker Liu Wei. "Those working for the factory for between half an year and one year got about 6,000 yuan in compensation. I got about 12,000 yuan for working for two-and-a-half years," he said. Another worker said: "We were not surprised the factories shut down. Many had already quit because there has not been enough work for months." Wintek could not be reached for comment. The Taichung-based company was once a long-term supplier to Apple. Apple still lists a Wintek facility in Suzhou as a supplier, but none in Dongguan. Jade Han, from a Suzhou-based silicone supplier, said Wintek had struggled to compete with Japanese and Korean counterparts. "If Wintek fails and loses the high-end smartphone market, it will definitely impact on hundreds of down-stream enterprises on the mainland that employ a lot of workers." ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Eight sentenced to death for Xinjiang terrorist attacks (Xinhua)
2014-12-08
A Xinjiang court sentenced eight people to death on Monday in connection with two deadly terrorist attacks in April and May in the regional capital, Urumqi. The Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi sentenced another five to death with a two-year reprieve, and four others were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Xinjiang saw its bloodiest day in five years on May 22 when 39 people were killed and 94 injured in an attack on a market in Urumqi. On April 30, three people were killed and 79 were injured in an attack at a railway station in the city. Those sentenced to death include Ahmat Rixit, head of the group responsible for April's violence, and Abliz Dawut and Nurahmat Ablipiz, main plotters of the May attack. From February 2010 to April 2014, Ahmat Rixit and his associates gathered many times to listen to and watch audio and video clips about terror under the guidance of Ismail Yusup, a member of the terrorist group Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Following April's violence, the ETIM publicized a video showing a masked man assembling a bomb. The man, later identified as Ahmat Rixit, claimed the incident "a piece of good news," and called those who detonated the bomb "warriors." The video was made by his brother Abliz Rixit. According to Ahmat Rixit, the mastermind behind the video was Ismail Yusup, who also arranged for two other associates to help carry out the attacks. Investigations found the April 30th violence was jointly organized and premeditated by terrorists both in and outside China, according to local police. In cooperation with the International Criminal Police Organization, Chinese police are hunting Ismail Yusup, who is believed to be outside of China. The May 22 attack was also influenced by videos of terrorist attacks. ^ top ^

Ilham Tohti students sentenced (Global Times)
2014-12-09
The Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, has sentenced seven students who allegedly worked for a website run by Ilham Tohti, a former lecturer from the Minzu University of China, to various jail terms, Tohti's lawyer told the Global Times Monday. The court ruled that the students actively participated in Tohti's separatist activities and sentenced them to jail terms of between three years to eight years, according to Li Fangping and Liu Xiaoyuan, Tohti's lawyers. Li said that one student was sentenced to eight years imprisonment and that two other students were sentenced to seven years behind bars. "The others were sentenced to five years, three and a half years and three years, respectively," Li said, without saying which student received what jail term. Whether the verdict was handed down on Monday or earlier could not be confirmed. "The verdict was not as harsh as [I had] expected," Li said. The students were charged with separatism, the same crime Tohti was convicted of in September. Six students, Perhat Halmurat, Shohret Nijat, Mutellip Imin, Abduqeyyum Ablimit, Atikem Rozi and Akbar Imin, are of Uyghur ethnicity. The final student, Luo Yuwei, is from the Yi ethnic minority. They allegedly worked together as administrators at Uyghur Online, a website founded by Tohti. Shohret Nijat, Perhat Halmurat and Luo Yuwei have testified against Tohti on TV. They stood trial at the Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi on November 25. ^ top ^

Xinjiang burqa ban could 'spark unrest' (SCMP)
2014-12-12
A proposed burqa ban in the capital city of Xinjiang province could spark further unrest in the troubled region, experts warn. The Urumqi People's Congress Standing Committee voted yesterday in favour of banning people from wearing the garment in public, the local news website Tianshan.net reported. The proposal must now be reviewed by the regional People's Congress Standing Committee before it is implemented, though the report - later deleted from the site - did not specify when this would happen. The burqa […] is considered a symbol of religious extremism by the local authorities. "Burqas are not a traditional Muslim garment in Xinjiang," said Jiang Zhaoyong, a Beijing-based expert on ethnic affairs. "The ban has been issued following public security concerns. Some people are wearing it not because of their religion, but to act out their resentments against society." […] Xinjiang launched a "beautifying project" in 2011 to discourage women from covering their faces and wearing the burqa. Several campaigns against producing, selling or wearing the garments have been mounted by county and district-level governments in the province. Last month, Xinjiang said it would ban the practice of religion in government workplaces, public schools and state-owned enterprises from next year. People will also be prohibited from forcing others to wear clothes or logos associated with religious extremism. Uygurs have traditionally followed a moderate form of Islam, but many, especially in the impoverished southern Xinjiang areas, have begun adopting practices, such as the wearing of full-face veils, that are more common to the Persian Gulf. Some experts say these practices have increased as China has intensified its security crackdown in the area. James Leibold, an expert on China's ethnic policy from Melbourne's La Trobe University, warned that banning the burqa could make it "more popular as a symbol of resistance and assertion of ethno-national identity". "The Communist Party has drawn a one-to-one link between these styles of head, face and body coverings and religious extremist thoughts and violence," Leibold told Reuters. "It's a very crude and counterproductive way of trying to deal with the problem of terrorism." […] Rights groups say heavy-handed policies, including curbs on Islam and the culture and language of the Uygurs, cause the unrest. Beijing denies this. Last week, Beijing said it had launched operations against 115 terrorist groups since May. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Rita Fan tips Regina Ip and Antony Leung as 2017 election candidates (SCMP)
2014-12-06
A Beijing-loyalist heavyweight has become the latest - and most significantly connected - voice to tip two former senior government officials as contenders for the city's top job in 2017, sparking claims a campaign was under way to create the appearance of democratic choice. As the city grapples with the unprecedented Occupy Central protests - now into their third month - and rancour over what constitutes true democracy, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai tipped ex-financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung and lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee as candidates for chief executive in 2017. While their names are not new to the political rumour mill, some have interpreted the intervention by Fan - a former president of the Legislative Council and now Hong Kong's sole representative on the powerful National People's Congress Standing Committee - as an indication that a strategy is being deployed to give the perception of a race with many runners. Fan's remarks were also criticised as they seemed to rule out the chance of a pan-democratic candidate joining the first chief executive election to be voted by the whole population. [...] "As I can see now, those possible to throw their hat in the ring include, one, Mrs Regina Ip and, two, Mr Antony Leung," Fan said in an interview with RTHK. And if incumbent Leung Chun-ying ran again, "among these three people, I think I do have a choice". In 2012, Fan supported Leung's arch-rival Henry Tang Ying-yen. Ip, an Executive Council member, tried to run for the top job in 2012 but failed to get enough nominations. She thanked Fan, adding: "She's my mentor... I'm grateful for her high regard for me." She said the lack of a pan-democratic candidate would not compromise the legitimacy of the poll, as an election by universal suffrage would generate enough differentials to justify an election of a choice. Political commentator Ma Ngok said Beijing seemed to be "establishing some sort of expectation" of competition. "That expectation was... like the rivalry between Leung and Tang in 2012," said Ma, a Chinese University politicial scientist. "What's interesting is that [Beijing] is telling Hongkongers in 2014 who they will be voting for in 2017. The plot seems to have been written. And that's not what a truly democratic race is like." ^ top ^

Public consultation on 2017 election will happen 'soon after Occupy ends', says lawmaker (SCMP)
2014-12-07
The debate over the 2017 chief executive election looked to be moving from the streets to the political arena yesterday, as government officials pledged to start a second round of consultation "soon after Occupy ends". Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said that when the consultation begins, "I'll be very willing to meet student representatives and listen to them". The comments came as student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung ended a 108-hour hunger strike. The officials ruled out dialogue with Wong, saying talks were possible only within the framework of the Basic Law and Beijing's guidance on 2017. The new consultation is the final stage before the government puts a reform plan to the Legislative Council, probably in the summer, moving a showdown with pan-democrat lawmakers closer. Wong and two fellow members of Scholarism gave up their hunger strikes, which started on Monday, yesterday. Another quit on Friday. Lam called on two others who had not eaten since Wednesday to give up. [...] The new consultation will cover the details of the 2017 poll after the National People's Congress Standing Committee laid down a framework in August for how "two or three" candidates will be chosen for a public vote. Tam said the consultation, to start "soon after" Occupy ended, would focus on topics including how hopefuls could enter the "primary election" in which a 1,200-strong committee will choose candidates. It will also look at how public opinion can be "formally channelled" and how to make the committee transparent and accountable. Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit and Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan said pan-democrats would stand by their vow to veto any reform based on Beijing's framework. Pan-democrats say the committee will "screen out" critics of Beijing. The reform needs a two-thirds majority in Legco, meaning pan-democrats have the votes to block it. [...] Speculation continued last night on how long the Admiralty camp would remain. A clearance is thought to be unlikely until after President Xi Jinping visits Macau on December 19. ^ top ^

247 arrested in peaceful end to Hong Kong's Occupy protests after 75 days of turmoil (SCMP)
2014-12-12
The police ended the main sit-in of the Occupy movement in Admiralty yesterday with the arrest of 247 people, including politicians, student leaders and a pop star. Traffic through the area resumed 75 days after the occupation started. However, student leaders vowed to continue their prodemocracy cause in other ways after Christmas. Monitored by members of the police watchdog and more than 200 local and international journalists, the seven-hour police operation proceeded without any clashes between officers and protesters, unlike in the clearance operation in Mong Kok. By 11pm, all traffic on Harcourt Road had resumed. Police cordoned off the camp along Harcourt Road at 2.20pm, after court bailiffs cleared the roads covered by an injunction which applied to one-fifth of the area. By that time, more than 100 protesters had started a sit-in on the road, waiting to be arrested. Speaking at the sit-in before he was arrested, Federation of Students secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang said: "I would not say … the movement ends with victory, but I don't think we have failed either." He expected a "second wave of occupation" would happen in the coming months, when people protest at public forums during the second stage of public consultation on political reform. Other sit-in participants included Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming, Apple Daily boss Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, Canto-pop singer Denise Ho Wan-see and nine members of the federation. There were also ordinary citizens […] A government spokesman said the occupation was a "severe blow to the economy, politics, society and people's livelihood". He expressed "gratitude" to the police force for their hard work, while urging the public to abide by the law in expressing their views in future. Executive councillors made the same appeal in a joint statement. Lester Shum, Chow's deputy, said the clearance would not mark an end to their fight for genuine universal suffrage. "I believe what the government has lost is not only the support of young people, but also Hongkongers," he said as he gathered with dozens outside Kwai Chung police station last night, where the first batch of those arrested were being held. About 7,000 officers were deployed in two shifts for the clearance operation, and 909 protesters who left voluntarily after the area was sealed off at 2.20pm had their details taken. A police source said the remaining Occupy site in Causeway Bay would probably be cleared next week as the priority was to make sure that Admiralty was not reoccupied. Some owners of businesses near the Occupy camp and workers affected by traffic jams expressed relief, while worrying that protesters would return. Chung Kim-wah, director of Polytechnic University's Centre for Social Policy Studies, said Leung Chun-ying's administration would not find governance easier despite the end of Occupy, which he added had "torn society apart". ^ top ^

 

Macau

Top legislator urges Macao to fully implement "one country, two systems" (Xinhua)
2014-12-08
China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang on Monday urged Macao's new government to continue fully implementing the "one country, two systems" principle. Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), made the remarks at a meeting with Chui Sai On, chief executive of Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR). Zhang praised the performance of officials in the current Macao SAR government, whose terms will end on Dec. 19. He said he expects the new government to be fully aware of challenges ahead, continue implementing the "one country, two systems" principle and abide by the Basic Law. In the past 15 years since Macao returned to the motherland, the region has achieved notable economic and social progress through the hard work of all Macao people and with support from the central government, Zhang said. Chui is in Beijing to attend an exhibition on the development of Macao for the 15th anniversary of the Macao SAR's founding. He took office in 2009 and was re-elected as Macao SAR chief executive in August. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taipei mayor-elect Ko charts neutral course in choice of top adviser (SCMP)
2014-12-09
Taipei mayor-elect Dr Ko Wen-je yesterday invited a disaffected former Kuomintang heavyweight to be his top adviser in a surprise move observers said would greatly aid Ko in the next four years as head of the city's government. Ko met James Soong Chu-yu, a one-time KMT force who went on to found the People First Party, during his first visit to local party leaders. Ko bowed deeply to show his respect before seeking advice from Soong, much-praised for his performance in running the now defunct Taiwan Provincial Government. "The [former] provincial government was recognised by all people in Taiwan as the best government team," Ko said, adding he hoped Soong "could accept our invitation to be the top adviser of the city government". Soong accepted, saying he was willing to serve without pay. He told Ko it was possible for one person to run for mayor, but impossible for a government to be run by just one person. During the mayoral race, Soong favoured Ko's bid, refusing to join the camp of Ko's KMT opponent, Sean Lien Sheng-wen, son of KMT honorary chairman Lien Chan. Yesterday, Soong asked Ko for his views on cross-strait relations. Ko, known for his leanings towards the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, said the two sides should seek to develop ties with goodwill, and that they could gain each other's trust without needing to treat each other as an enemy. Observers said Ko's "wise" move would ensure the municipal government would not be hijacked by the green camp, led by the pro-independence DPP. Ko had agreed to form an opposition coalition with the party after it agreed not to field a candidate. By embracing Soong, a former KMT governor, Ko would be able to keep his campaign promise to remain politically neutral, observers said. Campaigning on a pledge to "go beyond the blue and green" of the KMT and DPP camps, Ko beat his KMT opponent by 250,000 votes. "The rich political and administrative experience of Soong will help Ko do a good job, despite his [inexperience] in political and administrative affairs," KMT Taipei City councillor Wang Hung-wei said. Meanwhile, the new Cabinet was inaugurated with Mao Chi-kuo replacing Jiang Yi-huah as premier. The justice ministry also decided that jailed former president Chen Shui-bian did not qualify for medical parole. ^ top ^

Chinese mainland top negotiator arrives in Taiwan (Xinhua)
2014-12-09
The president of the Chinese mainland-based Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chen Deming arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday noon to start a 8-day visit to the island. As part of annual exchanges between ARATS and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), Chen's trip includes seeing Taiwan's agriculture, bio-technology, green tourism, volunteer groups and senior citizen welfare sectors. On Tuesday afternoon, Chen visited Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and a rental residential complex built by Chang Gung for senior citizens in nearby Taoyuan. Chen's counterpart Lin Join-sane, chairman of the SEF, will host a dinner in honor of the guests around 6 p.m. in Taipei. ^ top ^

KMT chairmanship election slated for January (Xinhua)
2014-12-10
Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) will elect a new chairperson on Jan. 17 of 2015, following the party's defeat in the island's biggest-ever local elections. The KMT made the announcement at its Central Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday. Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou stepped down as the chairman on Dec. 3, handing over the reins to the party's First Vice Chairman Wu Den-yih as interim chief. According to the party's charter, the interim chief will be tasked with organizing a new election for a replacement to serve out the predecessor's remaining term within three months of a chairmanship vacancy. The KMT will publicize an election notice on Dec. 11 and cast ballots for the election on Jan. 17. ^ top ^

Taiwan navy releases first video of self-designed 'killer' warship Tuo Jiang (SCMP)
2014-12-12
Taiwan's first self-developed stealth missile corvette showcases its "killer" credentials in a newly released video by the island's navy. A 110-second clip shows the 500-tonne corvette, Tuo Jiang, sailing backwards and making consecutive turns during a trial in the South China Sea that took place throughout November. The corvette reached a speed of more than 38 knots during the trial, the results of which were "satisfactory", navy officials told the Central News Agency. "The corvette will play the role of 'killer' to attack the enemy's vessel, as it can sail fast and get close to its target without being easily detected by radar," the agency said. The video, released on Wednesday, compares the corvette to the American combat ship USS Independence to highlight its credentials. Tuo Jiang was part of a NT$25-billion (HK$6.2 billion) programme to build between seven and 11 corvettes as a defence against the mainland's aircraft carriers, Taiwanese media said. Tuo Jiang is 60.4 metres long, 14 metres wide. It has a range of 2,000 nautical miles and can hold 41 crew. It will be equipped with anti-ship missiles Hsiung Feng II and Hsiung Feng III, also made in Taiwan, and be based in Suao, Yilan county on the east of the island. The vessel was constructed by the Taiwanese shipbuilding company Lung Teh. Su Guan-chiun, a Taipei-based military expert, said the corvette would address the navy's lack of offensive weapons. "Most vessels we have bought from the US are defensive, like anti-submarine vessels. Taiwan has very limited resources when it comes to weapon imports. By developing armaments by ourselves, the growth of our navy will not be limited by other countries," Su said. The video is the latest in a series of high-profile shows of military might by the island, which is developing its own ground-to-air missiles and held a large-scale military drill in September. This month the US Senate and congress passed a bill to sell four frigates to Taiwan, despite objections from Beijing. "Taipei wants Beijing to know how far its military development has reached," Su said, adding that the corvette posed a "real threat to PLA surface vessels". Yang Lixian, a cross-strait relations expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, accused Taiwan of "wasting taxpayers' money". "[The mainland's] development of its navy is not targeting Taiwan, and in a way Taiwan could benefit from it [after reunion]. It would be much more effective for Ma to spend the money on the grassroots and raise the average wage. [If he had] his party would not have done so badly [in the local elections]." ^ top ^

 

Economy

Record China trade surplus exposes fragile domestic demand (SCMP)
2014-12-09
A record trade surplus last month offers no comfort for policymakers in Beijing facing the prospect that a fall in imports shows fragile domestic demand weakening even further. Slower export growth and an unexpected fall in imports pushed the mainland's trade surplus to a record US$54.5 billion last month, adding to fears of a sharper dip in fourth-quarter economic growth, even after the central bank cut interest rates for the first time in two years last month. Wang Tao, head of China economic research at UBS Securities, predicted that gross domestic product growth on the mainland would ease to 7.0 per cent this quarter, with full-year growth likely slowing to 7.3 per cent, compared with 7.7 per cent last year. […] “The falling imports reflected quite weak domestic demand, although it was also affected by easing prices of major commodities such as crude oil, iron ore, and copper.” Wang said she expected more interest rate cuts would be rolled out as authorities sought to ease soaring funding costs exacerbated by easing inflation. The trade surplus widened by 61.4 per cent from a year earlier, after hitting US$45.4 billion in October, Customs Bureau data showed on Monday, as 4.7 per cent year-on-year growth in exports was offset by an unexpected decline of 6.7 per cent in imports, both trailing market expectations. “The export growth in our country would still face a certain degree of pressure at the end of this year and the start of the next year,” the bureau said. […] While the record trade surplus may add to yuan appreciation pressures in the near term, Wang said the currency might depreciate by 3 per cent next year as Beijing did not want a strong yuan to hurt exports. Pressures are building for government leaders to trim next year's GDP growth target to as low as 7 per cent when they meet this week for the central economic work conference and discuss monetary and fiscal policies for 2015. The Communist Party politburo decided at a meeting on Friday to pursue twin priorities of stabilising growth and deepening reform next year. The reforms would address distorted resources allocation in financial, fiscal and land systems, part of Beijing's strategy of rebalancing the mainland economy's growth model to favour consumption while cutting reliance on exports and investment in favour consumption. Nevertheless, even as GDP growth eased to a five-year low of 7.3 per cent in the third quarter, its expansion was largely driven by a rebound in exports. The Politburo pledged on Friday to pursue a more balanced trade and investment structure next year. It vowed to roll out more policies to support imports and outward direct investment, including advancing regional development plans, such as the New Silk Road strategy that seeks to build stronger economic links between China, the rest of Asia, and Europe.^ top ^

Stocks plummet as rally in Shanghai screeches to halt (SCMP)
2014-12-10
Shanghai shares shuddered to their biggest one-day loss since 2009 yesterday, sinking to close down 5.3 per cent after having rallied through the morning to a fresh three-year peak. The plunge that broke a rampant rally of the past few days was triggered by a move by regulators to stop low-quality bonds being used as collateral to back short-term loans. Bonds rated below AAA or sold by issuers graded lower than AA can no longer be used as collateral for loans issued as part of bond repurchase agreements. That prompted a sell-off in risky assets by institutional traders and by retail investors who had funded stock purchases on margin - credit provided by brokerages that is now at risk of being withdrawn as financial authorities seek to stamp out soaring speculation. "This will be a new lesson for investors - a capital-driven rally will always be short-lived," said Dai Ming, a fund manager at Hengsheng Asset Management. "A sustainable bull run won't happen unless there's an upward momentum in the mainland economy." The Shanghai Composite Index had surged 21 per cent in barely a dozen trading days before closing at 2,859.92 yesterday. The value of shares changing hands on the mainland hit a record-breaking 1.24 trillion yuan (HK$1.56 trillion) yesterday - roughly five times the daily average of the past 12 months - just two days after breaking the 1 trillion yuan mark for the first time. That frenzied activity has fuelled volatility. The Shanghai market's swing between high and low yesterday was a huge 8.5 per cent. The tumble dragged down the value of stocks around the region and unsettled financial markets globally with the scale of the sell-off, though the biggest losers were closer home. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, which tracks mainland stocks listed in Hong Kong, sank 4.6 per cent, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 2.3 per cent to 23,485.83. Investors have been growing increasingly wary of a rally that has outperformed all major markets worldwide. The question for many now is if yesterday's plunge is the start of a bear market, which in Shanghai typically occurs when trading volumes surge. [...]^ top ^

2015 economic goals defined (Global Times)
2014-12-12
China's annual agenda-setting economic conference concluded on Thursday with a statement meant to soothe market concerns over the outlook for the tapering economy. The main economic targets for 2014 are expected to be hit "relatively well," said a statement issued at the end of the Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC). The tightly watched GDP growth target for 2015, which is usually not made public until March when the country's annual legislative and advisory sessions are held, was not revealed in the statement. At the three-day meeting, policymakers who were discussing economic priorities for the coming year placed striving to maintain steady economic growth atop the list of five major economic goals for 2015, according to the statement. Second on the list is exploring new economic growth engines. The tone of this year's CEWC was similar to last year's, with the leadership pledging to seek steady growth and stick to a proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy. However, the statement said "the fiscal policy should be stronger and the monetary policy should be more pragmatic," which market watchers say hints toward more robust measures next year to stimulate the flagging economy. Xu Hongcai, director of the Department of Information under the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), told the Global Times Thursday that China's economy is expected to expand at 7.3 or 7.4 percent in 2014, a level that is still consistent with the official full-year target of around 7.5 percent set in March. […] "There are concerns about whether China's economy would expand below 7 percent in 2015 as it still faces downward pressures, but the statement which lists stabilizing economic growth as the primary task gives the market more confidence and we now predict the economy will expand above 7 percent next year following potential stimulus policies," Lian Ping, chief economist of the Bank of Communications in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Thursday. A more proactive fiscal policy shows the central government may incur more debt in 2015 and increase the possibility of interest rate cuts with a more pragmatic monetary policy, Lian said. [...] The statement is not only seen as having assured markets of sustained growth, but giving fresh vigor to innovation. China will continue targeted and structured control policies to maintain a medium- to high-speed economic growth, the statement said. It will actively adapt to the economic new normal of slower speed but higher quality. Among the nine characteristics summarized in the statement as representing the new normal, doing away with waves of copycat consumption and embracing personalized and diversified consumption is already taking hold in the mainstream. […] Deepening economic reforms were also highlighted at the CEWC, with the statement saying market access in the services sector will be improved and manufacturing sectors will be further opened up. The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone will be further promoted. In addition, reforms will be ramped up in administrative approvals, investments, pricing, monopolies, franchising, government purchased services, and overseas investment next year.^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

North Korea denies role in Sony cyberattack (Xinhua)
2014-12-08
North Korea denied involvement in a brazen cyberattack on Sony Pictures, but praised it as a "righteous deed" potentially orchestrated by supporters furious over a Hollywood comedy depicting a fictional CIA plot to assassinate leader Kim Jong-un. "The hacking into the Sony Pictures might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathisers with the (North) in response to its appeal," the North's top military body, the National Defence Commission, told the state-run KCNA news agency. The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as two journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim, has infuriated Pyongyang, which had earlier warned of "merciless retaliation" against what it called a "wanton act of terror". Forensics experts hired by Sony to investigate the attack said the breach was unprecedented, well-planned and carried out by an "organised group". The hacking attack on the US movie studio late last month is known to have included the leaking of sensitive personal information on some 47,000 individuals, including celebrities. The attack also made unreleased Sony films available on illegal file-sharing websites, with reports indicating the pattern matches past attacks carried out by the isolated state. The NDC rejected the media reports as "false rumour", but went on to slam Sony for producing the film, which it said was "hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership". "We do not know where in America the Sony Pictures is situated and for what wrongdoings it became the target of the attack nor do we feel the need to know about it," the NDC spokesman said. "But what we clearly know is that the Sony Pictures is the very one which was going to produce a film abetting a terrorist act while hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the (North)," he said. On Friday, in the latest cyber threat, Sony Pictures staff received an email claiming to be from the same hackers who earlier breached the firm's computer network, reportedly with warnings that they and their families were "in danger". The email from a group calling itself Guardians of Peace also warned that "all hope will leave you and Sony Pictures will collapse", according to the industry journal Variety. Sony Pictures described the hack attack a "brazen" effort. ^ top ^

DPRK criticizes U.S. for referring human rights issue to Security Council (Xinhua)
2014-12-10
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Tuesday criticized the United States for mulling officially bringing the country's human rights issue before the UN Security Council for further implementing its anti- Pyongyang policy. The U.S. move to bring the issue forward at the United Nations is prompted by its intention to launch military invasion of the DPRK in the disguise of addressing human rights issue, an anonymous DPRK foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by state media KCNA. The spokesman pointed out that the Security Council, if it hopes to discuss the issue of human rights, should not turn its face away from torturous interrogation techniques employed by the Central Intelligence Agency, on which the U.S. Senate intelligence committee is about to release part of a 6,000-plus-page report. He blamed the UN Security Council for dealing with DPRK human rights record while turning a blind eye to human rights abuse in the United States, one of its permanent members. On Nov. 18, the Third Committee of the 69th United Nations General Assembly passed a draft resolution recommending the Security Council to refer the DPRK to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. The resolution followed a detailed report released in February by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK. The report raised widespread concerns over abuses of human rights in the country, but Pyongyang firmly rejected the report and said it was full of "prejudice and lies." ^ top ^

Pyongyang rejects S.Korean president's remarks on nukes, human rights (Xinhua)
2014-12-11
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Thursday rejected remarks by South Korean President Park Geun-hye on its nuclear program and human rights record. "This is another intolerable grave provocation against the DPRK and a mockery of its people," the official KCNA news agency quoted an unnamed spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea as saying. Park has said in a recent keynote speech in Seoul that the "North's nuclear development is the biggest factor of instability in Northeast Asia and poses a serious threat to world peace." She urged the DPRK to abandon the nuclear program and development of ballistic missiles at a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in November. The spokesman refuted Park's remarks, saying that nuclear weapons are "a shield of justice and a powerful treasured sword" for defending the country from war moves by U.S. and South Korean forces. The spokesman also criticized Park's expression of serious concern about the human rights record in the DPRK on Human Rights Day on Dec. 10. Park should first censure the United States, which is the "worst human rights abuser for its barbarous killings of innocent black people" and for "tortures in various parts of its land," the spokesman said. The spokesman warned Park to "control her tongue" if she truly hopes to improve the north-south relations. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Ministers of the Coalition Government of Mongolia (December 2014-2016) are accredited (infomongolia)
2014-12-10
The 28th Prime Minister of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg introduced 18 candidates for Members of the new Coalition Government on December 05, 2014. On the same day, only Deputy Prime Minister's issue was approved at the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia by promoting U.Khurelsukh and due to late time Parliamentarians agreed to continue the plenary session meeting on Tuesday, December 09, 2014. At the morning session meeting started at 10:00 am on December 09, Parliament approved the Head of Cabinet Secretariat as S.Bayartsogt, Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism as D.Oyunkhorol and Minister of Foreign Affairs as L.Purevsuren and after breaking Parliament continued to discuss each nominee's issue, which ended at 12:40 am on December 10, 2014. Consequently, the Parliament of Mongolia finished accrediting 19 Members of the new Coalition Government including 15 Heads of affiliated Ministries. On December 10, 2014, Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg handed the state stamps to some Ministers of the Government. [...] ^ 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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