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
  30.3-3.4.15, No. 566  
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Foreign Policy

Chinese navy evacuates Chinese nationals from war-torn Yemen (SCMP)
2015-03-30
China had started evacuating its 590 citizens from war-torn Yemen, Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirmed yesterday, as Arab leaders vowed to continue Saudi-led air strikes against Shiite rebels. "We have about 500 compatriots in Yemen, and we are concerned about every one of them," China National Radio quoted Wang as saying on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan province. "They will soon be on their way home safe and sound." A port official and witnesses told Reuters that a Chinese warship had docked in the embattled Yemeni port city of Aden yesterday to evacuate Chinese diplomats and expatriate workers. There were 590 Chinese nationals in Yemen, CNR reported, citing ambassador Tian Qi. Wang said the foreign ministry activated its emergency response system on Thursday night when the air strikes started. On Friday, China's naval escort mission in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia was abruptly suspended. The China Shipowners' Association, which announced the suspension, said it did not know when it would resume. The mission's fleet comprises two guided-missile frigates - the Linyi and the Weifang - and the supply ship Weishanhu. Dozens of special forces soldiers are among the 700 or so crew, according to China News Service. In 2011, more than 35,000 Chinese were evacuated from Libya during its civil war. Last summer, more than 1,000 Chinese nationals were withdrawn after new conflicts broke out. India yesterday said it was preparing to fly out about 4,100 stranded citizens from Yemen. Pakistan said it had sent a jumbo jet and a naval frigate to evacuate its citizens and diplomatic staff. More than 200 staff from the UN, embassies and other organisations were evacuated by air on Saturday, aid workers said. ^ top ^

Chinese FM calls for efforts to "seize opportunity" in Iran nuclear talks (Xinhua)
2015-03-30
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday called on all sides to seize the opportunity to show flexibility and political decision to push the Iranian nuclear negotiations into fruition. Wang arrived in Lausanne on Sunday morning and made the remarks during an one-hour bilateral talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. "Important progress have been made in the Iranian nuclear talks, and it is in every party's interests, including Iran, to reach a comprehensive agreement," Wang said. China, which upholds a fair, objective stance, will continue to contribute positive efforts to advance the negotiations, he added. During the talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Wang called on all sides to seek negotiation room amid focused sticking points, and to bridge gaps to find solutions which are acceptable to all parties. Wang also held intensive bilateral talks with his counterparts from France, Germany, European Union and Russia to negotiate towards Teheran's potential framework deal. He said the marathon talks has entered the home stretch, all sides should work together to make a decisive political decision. Since Saturday, foreign ministers from six major countries and Iran joined the Iranian nuclear talks in their final efforts to hammer out a framework agreement before the March 31 deadline. ^ top ^

Chinese FM heads for meeting over Iran nuke issue in Switzerland (Global Times)
2015-03-29
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi headed for Switzerland Saturday to attend a ministerial meeting over Iran nuclear program. The meeting is to be held in the Swiss city of Lausanne Sunday, said a Foreign Ministry press release. New round of talks resumed Thursday between Iran and the P5+1 group, namely the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain plus Germany, to reach a framework agreement by the end of this month. ^ top ^

Chinese VP attends state funeral of Lee Kuan Yew (Xinhua)
2015-03-29
Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao on Sunday attended the state funeral of Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew as a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Li conveyed deep condolences for the passing of Lee on behalf of President Xi, the Chinese government and the Chinese people. President Xi expressed his sadness on Lee Kuan Yew's departure in the message to Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Xi said Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew is a strategist and statesman respected across the world. Expressing his respect to Lee Kuan Yew, Xi said, Lee was also an old friend of the Chinese people and the founder, pioneer and promoter of China-Singapore relations. Lee and the old generations of Chinese leaders jointly set the direction of China-Singapore ties, said Xi, adding that Lee made great contributions to enhancing friendship of the two peoples and broadening bilateral cooperation. Stressing that China attaches great importance to the development of friendly cooperative relations with Singapore, Xi said, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of both diplomatic relations, China is willing to work with Singapore to continue traditional friendship between the two countries, consolidate their good-neighborly ties and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation so as to benefit the two countries and peoples. During his three-day visit in Singapore, Li paid tribute to Lee Kuan Yew at the Parliament House on Saturday, and met with Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean respectively. ^ top ^

Chinese leader Xi Jinping spells out ambitious Asia vision at Boao Forum (SCMP)
2015-03-30
President Xi Jinping yesterday reassured the world that China's economy remained strong, as he vowed his initiative to boost links with Asian and European countries would provide trade and investment opportunities to "all nations". Addressing the annual Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan province, Xi said China welcomed all countries to join the Beijing-led "One Belt, One Road" initiative, which aims to improve regional connectivity in a project inspired by the ancient Silk Road. He stressed the project was not meant to replace existing economic partnerships. "The programmes of development will be open and inclusive, not exclusive. They will be a real chorus comprising all countries along the routes, not a solo [effort] for China," Xi said. Xi's comments came as China released a blueprint outlining its vision for linking infrastructure, finance and telecommunications, and removing trade barriers, along the route. The "One Belt, One Road" initiative has various threads. The Silk Road Economic Belt focuses on linking China, Central Asia, Russia and the Baltic states; linking China to the Gulf and Mediterranean through Central Asia and West Asia; and connecting China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road will stretch from China to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean in one route, and from China to the South Pacific in the other. Xi said China's economy would continue to be a major driving force for Asia even though it forecast its rate of growth to slow. "As the economy continues to grow in size, around 7 per cent growth would be quite impressive, and the momentum this would generate would be larger than the double-digit growth of previous years," Xi said. The Chinese economy grew 7.4 per cent last year, its lowest increase in 24 years. "When looking at China's economy, one should not focus only on the growth rate," Xi said. "We will focus on improving quality and efficiency, and give even greater priority to shifting the growth model and adjusting the structure of development. "This new normal of the Chinese economy will continue to bring more opportunities for trade growth and development for the countries of Asia and beyond," Xi said. In the next five years, China would import more than US$10 trillion worth of goods, its investment abroad would exceed US$500 billion, and Chinese tourists would make more than 500 million trips abroad, all of which would bring opportunities to the rest of the world. In remarks apparently aimed at Asian neighbours, Xi said all countries, regardless of size, should be treated as equals and that China wanted peace. "A big country has a bigger responsibility for peace and development in the region and world, not a greater monopoly over regional and global issues," he said. He said Asia needed to build "a community of common destiny" that would contribute to global prosperity. Without specifying regional disputes, Xi said China was committed to resolving conflicts peacefully. "China has in the past 100 years or more suffered turmoil and war, and the Chinese people will never impose upon other countries or people the tragic history our own people have experienced," Xi said. A document released yesterday by the National Development and Reform Commission said China would support countries along the route with good credit ratings to issue renminbi bonds in China. It also encouraged "qualified Chinese financial institutions to issue bonds in both renminbi and foreign currencies outside China, and use the funds collected in countries along the Belt and Road". Countries should promote the development of the bond market in Asia, it said. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Hong Kong's "advantages in financing and professional services will be able to contribute to the 'One Belt, One Road' plan". ^ top ^

Xi's Boao remarks draw high comments (Xinhua)
2015-03-28
The keynote speech of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) on Saturday is both inspiring and encouraging, foreign experts, politicians and business leaders have said. Addressing the opening ceremony of the 2015 BFA annual conference, Xi called on the international community to build a community of common destiny and welcomed participation in the China-proposed "Belt and Road" initiatives, namely, the initiatives on building the Silk Road Economic Zone and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The "Belt and Road" initiatives and the AIIB, two major concepts noted several times by Xi in his keynote speech, will exert an indirect boosting effect in advancing science and technology, said Ernst Ulrich von Weizsacker, co-president of the Club of Rome, a Switzerland-headquartered think tank. The two epoch-making initiatives will also facilitate development of the energy sector, said the German political scientist and politician, noting China's active efforts in preserving natural resources including water, conserving energy and improving energy efficiency. He also hailed Xi's call for mutual learning among civilizations. A growing number of foreign scholars, he said, have come to China for academic exchanges, broadening both minds for academic study and research, which is of great significance. As Thailand is faced with a sluggish economy, China's "Belt and Road" initiatives and railway collaboration between the two sides is more crucial than ever, said Tang Zhimin, director of China ASEAN Studies under Bangkok-based Panyapiwat Institute of Management. Those endeavors will not only stimulate Thailand's economic performance in the short term, but also help it develop into a regional logistics hub, Tang said. As shown in the positive response of many countries to the China-initiated AIIB, the professor said China's economic and national strength have been increasingly recognized worldwide. More importantly, it demonstrates that they trust China as a responsible global power, which cooperates with other nations on an equal footing and in accordance with international rules, Tang added. Yangon Mayor U Hla Myint voiced his welcome for the "Belt and Road" initiatives, saying that his side stands ready for relevant cooperation at the current stage, while expecting more effective and pragmatic cooperation between Myanmar and China following the specifying of plans and projects of those initiatives. Also inspired by Xi's remarks on the "Belt and Road" initiatives and the AIIB, Yong Chanthalangsy, director general of the Laos Institute of Foreign Affairs, noted that his country have prepared to participated in the grand vision. As an inland nation, Laos hopes to take part in the development of the 21st century Maritime Silk Road and the AIIB in particular, with an eye to improving its infrastructure, said the former Lao Ambassador to the U.N. He also expressed the hope to enhance cultural and academic exchanges with China in a bid to cement mutual understanding while learning from the world's second largest economy, Chanthalangsy said. The China-proposed "Belt and Road" initiatives are vital to strengthening and consolidating economic cooperation within Asia, said Peter Cai, Business Spectator's China editor with Media Group of Australia. China's successful experiences in infrastructure development could be made use of by its neighboring countries, said Cai, expecting economic interconnectivity and political mutual trust to be enhanced during state-to-state cooperation. He added that Xi upheld a regionalism featuring openness and inclusiveness, which is well evidenced by the China-led AIIB. Vlad Martynov, CEO of Russian smartphone manufacturer Yota, said the "Belt and Road" initiatives will facilitate regional development and provide more opportunities for success. Countries need to unit together for regional success, which can be achieved at a faster pace as the "Belt and Road" initiatives bring together energy, knowledge, technology and other resources, said Martynov. The "Belt and Road" initiatives eye a win-win scenario, rather than being based on the mind-set of zero-sum game by which some win at the cost the losses of others, he added. Martynov continued to commend efforts to establish the AIIB, a to-be-launched international multilateral financial institution that is aimed at financing infrastructure construction and promoting regional interconnectivity and economic integration. The AIIB could concentrate financial resources for joint investment in infrastructure, said Martynov, adding that those funds are previously very difficult to acquire but will no doubt benefit all. Thanks to the AIIB, regional business, not confined to big ones, will be able to realize their ambition to compete and success in the global market, he said. ^ top ^

US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew presses China to open markets in Beijing talks (SCMP)
2015-03-30
United States Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has pressed China to open its markets further by removing restrictions on technology transfers in talks with Chinese vice-premier Wang Yang. “Promoting innovation and open markets is in our mutual interest,” Lew said before the meeting with Wang in Beijing on Monday. “We have already made clear our concerns regarding forced technology transfer and other attempts to bar technological competition, most recently in the banking sector, and I look forward to further discussion today.” Lew said the discussion aimed to build a “trade and investment relationship that provides a level playing field and supports jobs and growth”. “In addition, it is critical that China continues to move to a more market-determined exchange rate and a more transparent exchange rate policy,” Lew said, according to a US Treasury Department press release. Some analysts believed that Lew's visit might have been arranged to discuss a possible US move to follow its allies in joining the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) bank, as the trip had been arranged in haste and came before the March 31 deadline for countries applying for founding membership to the bank. US has not announced a decision on the matter, but analysts believed Lew would definitely discuss it when he mets Chinese leaders, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Lew came to China on behalf of President Barack Obama. He will also meet Lou Jiwei, China's finance minister and soon-to-be head of the AIIB. Other items to be discussed inlcude President Xi Jinping's visit to the US in September and the Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue. “The timing of Secretary Lew's visit to coincide with the deadline for countries applying for founding membership of the AIIB may signal that the US has decided to join,” said Tim Condon, chief economist and head of Research at ING Asia. The US has stood on the sidelines as countries rushed to join the AIIB. On Saturday, Russia, Brazil, the Netherlands and Denmark said they would sign on. A day earlier, Georgia, Turkey and South Korea filed their applications. The four leading European economies – the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy – announced they would join earlier in March. Of the world's major economies, only the US, Japan and Canada have not declared their intention to join the bank. Hao Hong, chief economist and managing director of Bocom International, expected the AIIB to be high on Lew's agenda. Hong said that as the US influence in the new organisation was waning, Washington's participation represented an opportunity for it to steer the future direction of AIIB from within. “Previously, the US said its main concerns were the AIIB's ability to adhere to best practices. Yet in world where standards are in a race to the bottom, such reasoning looks really pale,” Hong said. Analysts said Lew would also press Beijing to adopt a more market-determined exchange rate policy as Wall Street investors believed a rising yuan would help US and the global economies. But Hong said that yuan had strengthened and the central bank was intervening less. “As such, continuing to find faults in the yuan could backfire. China's ambition to found an alternative currency system is clear. The US should start worrying now,” Hong said. ^ top ^

US welcomes AIIB, infrastructure plans (Global Times)
2015-03-31
A senior US official reiterated on Monday that Washington is looking forward to cooperating with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), after dozens of countries, including US allies, voiced their willingness to join the China-led organization. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew made the remarks during his talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Monday, adding that the US welcomes and supports proposals that are helpful to infrastructure construction, reported the Xinhua News Agency. The cooperation can be carried out through the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED), the World Bank and the AIIB, and any other mechanism acceptable to the two countries, Chinese Vice Minister of Finance Zhu Guangyao quoted Lew as saying. Zhu told the Xinhua News Agency after the hour-long talks that Lew also welcomes a greater China role in international economic affairs. He added that Lew said the US hopes the AIIB can come up with a quality management structure, and that it is ready to discuss this with China. The meeting came ahead of the March 31 deadline for countries to apply for founding member status with the AIIB, which aims to support infrastructure projects in Asia. The US, which has a dominating influence in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, expressed its concerns when traditional allies such as the UK, France and Germany voiced willingness to join the AIIB. "Will it adhere to the high standards that international financial institutions have developed? Will it protect the rights of workers and the environment?" Lew was quoted by AFP as saying two weeks ago. A day ahead of the deadline, Egypt and Finland announced their intention to join the AIIB as founding members on Monday, expanding the list of potential members to 44 countries. According to a report in the Financial Times on Monday, Masato Kitera, Japan's ambassador to Beijing, said that he believes Japan would join the China-led development bank by June. "Lew's visit to China a day before the deadline is a positive sign and shows a softened attitude toward the AIIB," He Maochun, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Monday. "The US would welcome new multilateral institutions that strengthen the international financial architecture," the Wall Street Journal on March 22 quoted Nathan Sheets, US Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs as saying. But He said it will be hard for the US to change its prudent stance on participating in the China-led bank in the short run. Lew also came to Beijing to prepare for the upcoming SED in June and President Xi Jinping's state visit to the US in September, Xinhua reported. During the visit, Lew also pressed the Chinese government over alleged restrictions on the use of foreign security products in the Chinese banking sector. "We have already made clear our deep concern about issues involving forced technology transfer and other attempts to bar technological competition most recently in the banking sector, and I look forward to continuing that discussion," Lew said in a meeting with a deputy Chinese premier, Wang Yang, on Monday, according to an AP report. In response, Premier Li said that China hopes the US would relax its restrictions on technology exports to China, and solve problems faced by Chinese companies when they invest in the US. Li said China and the US will focus on the negotiations of the Bilateral Investment Treaty and a negative list. He promised that Beijing will further open up the service and manufacturing industries, and cut in half restricted items for foreign investment. Li also expressed hope that the US can approve reform to the IMF that will give China more sway in the organization, and that the US will support the adoption of the yuan in the basket of special drawing rights, an exchange arrangement under the IMF. ^ top ^

Xi eyes China-Australia FTA this year (Xinhua)
2015-03-30
China is looking forward to a China-Australia free trade agreement being signed this year, President Xi Jinping said when meeting with Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove on Monday. "The two sides should work to sign and approve the free trade agreement this year and implement it as soon as possible, as it can act as a new accelerator for economic cooperation," Xi told Cosgrove, who is making his first state visit to China. A closer China-Australia relationship not only benefits the two nations but also the Asia-Pacific region, Xi said, assuring Cosgrove that he is ready to maintain close communication with him and Prime Minister Tony Abbott to ensure the smooth development of ties. The two sides should increase interaction between their governments, legislatures and political parties, Xi said. The president highlighted energy and resources, agriculture and farming, and infrastructure as sectors that would particularly benefit from cooperative projects. Xi also expressed hope for more people-to-people interaction between the two countries. Cosgrove arrived in China on Wednesday and is scheduled to leave on Tuesday. On Saturday, the governor-general attended the opening ceremony of the 2015 annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in south China's Hainan Province. During Monday's meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Cosgrove said the BFA conference was a success, which once again proved the vitality of the Asia-Pacific region. Cosgrove told Xi that Australia, which has applied to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, also looks forward to the establishment of an RMB clearing bank in Sydney. He said he believes that the free trade agreement in discussion will greatly benefit the two countries. The two leaders also talked about cooperation on law-enforcement and fighting corruption, pledging to increase coordination in international affairs. Prior to the meeting, Xi held a red carpet ceremony to welcome the Australian governor-general. ^ top ^

Top Chinese political advisor meets Zambian President (Xinhua)
2015-03-31
Top Chinese political advisor Yu Zhengsheng on Monday met with visiting Zambian President Edgar Lungu. Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) said relations between the two countries have developed healthily and steadily. Yu said Lungu, who was on a state visit to China, has reached important consensus with Chinese President Xi Jinping and charted a direction for the development of China-Zambia relations. The CPPCC would like to have good relations with the Zambian parliament, parties and social sectors and share experience with Zambia on China's reform and opening up and economic development, he said, adding that China encourages businesses to invest in Zambia. Lungu said Zambia and China are friends and partners, pledging to increase party-to-party and people-to-people exchanges with China. Earlier on Monday, Lungu also met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. On Saturday, Lungu attended the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia, held in south China's Hainan Province. ^ top ^

Israel, China launch task force to boost economic ties (Xinhua)
2015-03-31
Israel and China on Monday launched a joint Israeli-Chinese Task Force to boost business cooperation between the two countries in Tel Aviv. The Israel-China Task Force, led by Israel's Prime Minister Office and Israel Export Institute, aims to expand bilateral economic ties with the goal of doubling Israeli exports to China within five years to about five billion U.S. dollars per year. The task force will advance a three-tier multi-year plan, according to a statement released by the Task Force. The first tier deals with building a business climate, including developing Israeli professionals with a Chinese orientation, expanding tourism links, facilitating the issuing of entry visas to Israel and strengthening government representation in China. The second tier deals with providing support and government sponsorship for major projects, including advancing joint business projects, providing financing and assistance, and initiating joint projects with the Chinese government. The third tier focuses on investments and technology development, including activities to expand investments from Chinese companies in Israel. "The expansion of bilateral economic relations will have far-reaching macro-economic effects on the Israeli economy," National Economic Council and Israel-China Task Force Chairman Prof. Eugene Kandel said. The year of 2014 saw "a dramatic increase" in Chinese investments in Israel, and this trend is expected to continue in 2015, he said, adding that "it led to the establishment of new Israeli companies, the creation of new industries and sectors in the local economy, the development of products for the Chinese market and the establishment of Israel's status as an enterprising and innovative force in Asian markets." Meanwhile, Israel Export Institute Director General Ramzi Gabbay said that the Chinese market is a strategic target for Israeli exporters. "China's need to continue upgrading its technology infrastructures offers an opportunity for Israeli companies especially in fields the Chinese government has set as development targets such as: water technologies, medical equipment and high-tech industrial equipment," said Gabbay. China is Israel's fourth largest export target in the world and the largest in Asia. According to data by the Israeli Export Institute, Israeli trade volume with China in 2014 was approximately 8.52 billion dollars, a four percent year-on-year increase. ^ top ^

First round-world solar flight stops in China (China Daily)
2015-03-31
Picard's co-pilot, the former Swiss fighter pilot André Borschberg, will fly the plane from Chongqing to Nanjing, and then the pair will cross the Pacific Ocean to the United States. They will take turns piloting the single seater for 21,748 miles (35,000km) over 12 legs, including across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The entire journey back to Abu Dhabi, where the plane took off from on March 9, will take five months and include stops in India and the United States. ^ top ^

Solar-powered airplane team visits Chongqing school (Global Times)
2015-04-01
The team flying the world's largest solar-powered plane around the world visited a secondary school in Southwest China's Chongqing Tuesday afternoon as part of its mission to raise awareness after landing in the municipality early Tuesday. The Solar Impulse 2 team arrived at Bashu Secondary School on Tuesday after flying for 19 hours. During the two-hour visit, the team taught the children about their aircraft and discussed the project with the students, according to a member of staff at the school. A press conference which was originally scheduled to take place in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province was also held at the school. Solar Impulse 2 departed from Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city, on Monday morning and arrived at Jiangbei International Airport on Tuesday, completing the fifth leg of its round-the-world journey. The team originally planned to arrive in Nanjing Tuesday night but their journey had to be delayed due to poor weather conditions. Claudia Durgnat, head of media relations at Solar Impulse, told the Global Times that the team chose to land in Chongqing because of the overall weather and airspace conditions. She said the team will head to Nanjing when the weather improves. Xie Jin, an official at the air traffic management bureau of Chongqing, said the airplane is not suitable for flying in the rain, according to the Chongqing Evening News. The plane - piloted by Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg - started its journey on March 9 and has visited Abu Dhabi, Oman and Myanmar. The two pilots are trained to take 12 naps every 24 hours when they are in the air, each of which lasts no longer than 20 minutes, in order to be able to fly for long stretches. Piccard told reporters that the plane was flying backward due to the strong winds the plane faced in its approach to Chongqing, reported the China News Service. The team hopes to raise public awareness of renewable energy and environmental protection through the journey. The plane - made of carbon fiber - can travel at speeds of more than 100 kilometers per hour. It has more than 17,000 solar cells built into its wings. ^ top ^

Arrival of solar-powered airplane in Chongqing hits heights with students (China Daily)
2015-04-01
About 1,600 young Chinese students stood, applauded and cheered as two Swiss pilots entered a school hall in Chongqing on Tuesday afternoon. Early in the morning, pilot Bertrand Piccard had landed the Solar Impulse 2, the world's first solar-powered plane, at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport after completing the fifth leg of an attempt to fly the Swiss-developed aircraft around the world powered only by the sun. He is making the flight with fellow pilot Andre Borschberg. The pair are taking turns to fly the single-seater aircraft - which is made from carbon fiber and has 17,248 solar cells built into its wing - 35,000 km over 12 legs, including across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The journey back to Abu Dhabi, from where the journey began on March 9, is scheduled to take five months. On Monday afternoon, Piccard took off for Chongqing from Mandalay, Myanmar's second-largest city. The plane flew for more than 20 hours, covering the 1,459 km above mountainous terrain in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. Piccard had to wear an oxygen mask and faced temperatures that fell to below-20 C. He also flew through strong low-level winds in Chongqing, making this leg one of the most challenging to date, according to both pilots. The pilots and staff members from the Swiss embassy in China visited Chongqing Bashu Middle School to tell students about the journey and to raise awareness of clean energy. Piccard told the audience, "Remember, this is an example, a symbol, an inspiration for you to do the same in your lives - to be pioneers. It can be for energy, for clean technology. It can also be in your way of thinking." Borschberg, a former fighter pilot, told the students that he and his friend Piccard used to share a dream many years ago of building a plane as big as a Boeing 747, but as light as a car. "If you have a dream, just go for it," he said. "Don't be afraid of failure. You will learn (from failure) and you will succeed in the end." Jiang Chuhan, a ninth-grade student, asked the pilots how they acquired the pioneering spirit. "I have been so inspired by their bold exploits," she said. "We young Chinese students really need to be encouraged to be more innovative." The plane is expected to remain in Chongqing for about 10 days due to weather conditions before being flown to Nanjing, Jiangsu province, and then across the Pacific Ocean to the United States. ^ top ^

China's new reclaimed islands in South China Sea 'causing concern', says US admiral (SCMP)
2015-04-01
China's creation of more than 4 sq km of artificial islands in the South China Sea is increasing tensions with the US and its allies, according to Pacific Fleet Commander Harry Harris. "What's drawing a lot of concern … is the unprecedented land reclamation … by China," Admiral Harris said in Canberra yesterday. "China is building artificial land by pumping sand onto live coral reefs … and paving over them with concrete." China, alongside a number of Southeast Asian nations, contests parts of the waters that house some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. The Philippines has accused China of undertaking large-scale reclamation work on contested reefs. Disputes over the sea, with China claiming about 80 per cent under a nine-dash line drawn on a 1940s map, have escalated as the nation expands its military's reach to back its territorial interests and challenges decades of US Navy dominance in the Pacific. The tensions risk overshadowing trade and investment ties with Southeast Asia. The United States urged all claimants to comply with the 2002 Declaration of Conduct between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in which the parties committed to "exercise self-restraint in … activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability", Harris said. "How China proceeds will be a key indicator of whether the region is heading towards confrontation or cooperation." China's reclamation work in the South China Sea might create inhabited islands that declare allegiance to Beijing, bringing its military ever closer to the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino said last week. If the reefs were built up enough, "somebody might say 'we're a new country'". "At some point … will that be the basis of a new claim, right of self-determination, we want to be part of China?" Aquino said. "One of these islands, the Mischief Reef, is very close to Palawan. Suddenly we're a hop, skip and a jump from their various weapons of war." China is building mall-like structures on the Spratly islands, with some reaching several storeys high on the Cuarteron and Gaven reefs, Philippine defence spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said last month. Harris said he was hopeful China would contribute to stability in the Asia-Pacific region, but added: "Hope is not a strategy." ^ top ^

China, Uganda presidents pledge further cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-04-01
Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday in Beijing, pledging to enhance bilateral and China-Africa cooperation. The two leaders agreed to maximize the synergy of each other's development strategy and build China-Uganda relations as a model modern international partnership, featuring equality, mutual trust, cooperation and win-win results. Xi applauded the fruitful cooperation between the two countries since the establishment of diplomatic ties 53 years ago. He said the two countries should increase high-level contact, share experience on state governance, and exercise mutual support on issues concerning each other's core interests. China is willing to share with Uganda its experiences in developing special economic zones and industrial parks, the president said, calling on the two sides to cooperate more in infrastructure building, investment, health and tourism. China encourages and supports enterprises to invest in Uganda in energy, mining, industry and agriculture, he said. The president also suggested enhanced cooperation between the two countries in youth, defense, counterterrorism and international affairs. Museveni voiced appreciation for China's long-term support for African countries. He said Uganda hopes to cooperate more with China in infrastructure construction, including hydropower and standard-gage railways, as well as cooperation in oil, mineral resources, tourism and industrial parks. After the talks, the two leaders witnessed the signing of a number of cooperative documents on economic and technological cooperation, infrastructure building and personnel training. On Tuesday afternoon, Museveni offered a wreath to the Monument to the People's Heroes in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. ^ top ^

Chinese, Uzbek presidents talk bilateral ties, cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-04-01
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov vowed Tuesday to further propel the ties and cooperation between their countries during a phone conversation. Xi congratulated Karimov on his reelection as the head of state of Uzbekistan, and voiced the confidence that under Karimov's leadership the Uzbek people will continue to make more progress in their country's construction, development and revitalization. In recent years, the Sino-Uzbek relationship has developed by leaps and bounds, Xi said. The two nations have established strategic partnership, signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation, while mutual political trust and strategic coordination have continuously deepened and reciprocal cooperation in various fields has advanced vigorously, he added. China attaches great significance to ties with Uzbekistan, firmly supports the country's choice of its own development path and its efforts to preserve national sovereignty, security, development and other core interests, said Xi. He expressed the hope that under new circumstances both sides make concerted efforts to forge ahead, share opportunities, address challenges together, strengthen their cooperation in the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt construction, achieve more successes in enhancing bilateral relations and better benefit the two peoples. For his part, Karimov thanked Xi for his congratulation. "President Xi sent a congratulatory message to me on my reelection as the head of state at the first time, which reflected mutual trust and respect between the two countries and their leaders as well as the great importance that the Chinese government attaches to the Uzbek-Chinese ties," said Karimov during the talks. He fully agreed on Xi's assessment and views about the two countries' ties, and pledged to make all efforts to boost the development of the Uzbek-Chinese relationship in his new mandate. Karimov noted that these years President Xi has raised a series of important initiatives and suggestions with deep thoughts on international and regional affairs as well as global peace and development, which have shown the globe China's growing influence in world affairs. Uzbekistan will expand the collaboration with China in international and regional affairs, he said. ^ top ^

China pushing second world war anniversary events, but Western turnout could be low-key (SCMP)
2015-04-02
China is trying hard to get world leaders to attend events marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war in Beijing this year, including a military parade, but some diplomats say President Xi Jinping could be left standing on the stage with few top Western officials. These Western diplomats said their countries were worried Beijing would use the occasion to blast Japan over its eight-year-long occupation of large parts of China before and during the war. Other concerns were the fact that Chinese troops would probably march in Tiananmen Square, scene of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, and the expected presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Beijing-based diplomats told Reuters. The commemoration in early September is getting widespread coverage in state media and will be among the most important public events for Xi this year. A small turnout might embarrass him at a time when China's influence in global affairs is growing, the diplomats said. China has usually marked the end of the war in a low-key manner. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has not explicitly said who had been asked to attend the events, though in a roundabout way has confirmed that Japan had been invited. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo had not made any decision on attending. Britain and France said it was too early to comment on their representation while a US State Department spokesperson said Chinese officials had raised the commemoration in a “general manner” but had not extended a formal invitation. A German government spokesman said Chancellor Angela Merkel had not yet been invited. Sino-Japanese ties have deteriorated sharply during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's tenure, partly over his less apologetic tone toward Japan's wartime history. He also riled Beijing in late 2013 by visiting Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine to Japan's war dead, which is seen in China as a symbol of Japan's past militarism. Abe has said he intends to express remorse over the war this year in a statement to coincide with the anniversary. “If the focus is about Japan, it will make a lot of people very uncomfortable,” said a senior Western official in Beijing, who is familiar with the activities the Chinese are planning, including the main event, the military parade. One diplomatic source said China was “strongly” pushing its invitation with major participants in the war and other Asian nations. That source and the other diplomats asked that their countries not be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. Asked at a news briefing on Monday if Beijing was worried leaders of major Western nations would not attend because of possible squeamishness over the events, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “This way of thinking isn't very rational.” Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said last week that China would invite soldiers from Western Allies to march in the military parade that he said was expected to take place in Tiananmen Square. Sources told Reuters in February that Xi would review the parade. Putin, who has angered Europe and the United States with his annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in Ukraine, plans to travel to China in September, Russian media have reported, on a visit expected to encompass the commemorations. It's been a good six months for Xi on the diplomatic front. He sought to show China's softer side when he hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November, in particular taking a more conciliatory line on territorial disputes with countries such as Japan and the Philippines. Xi's government also pledged billions of dollars in loans to neighbouring countries at the time. More recently, US allies have thrown their weight behind the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that Washington had urged them to stay away from. But Beijing rarely misses an opportunity to remind the world of Japan's wartime role and has already stepped up the criticism as the anniversary approaches. “China and the United States, we were allies and we defeated the fascist aggression,” Cui Tiankai, China's ambassador to the United States, told a small group of reporters on the sidelines of China's annual meeting of parliament in early March. ^ top ^

China, Mongolia pledge to commemorate victory of World War II (Xinhua)
2015-04-02
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with his Mongolian counterpart Lundeg Purevsuren on Wednesday and they pledged to work together to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II. As this year marks the 70th anniversary, China stands ready to work together with Mongolia and other Asian countries to highlight Asia's contribution to the victory of the world anti-fascist war and firm will to safeguard world peace, Wang said as the two officials held a joint briefing after their talks. Purevsuren said he believes China's commemorative activities to be held this year will play an important role in promoting regional peace. He proposed the two sides hold some commemorative activities together, including making TV programs, as China and Mongolia fought shoulder to shoulder in the war against invaders. The two countries should also teach the history among youngsters on their cooperation in the war, said the Mongolian foreign minister. The two foreign ministers also hailed the recent development of the bilateral relationship, especially after Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Mongolia last August. China will stick to its friendly policy toward Mongolia and make its own development beneficial for Mongolian and other neighboring countries, Wang said, adding that the Chinese side will enhance communication with Mongolia and Russia to jointly build a China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor. Purevsuren said he is highly appreciative of China's efforts to pursue common development with neighboring countries and that Mongolia looks forward to closer cooperation with China in various fields. Purevsuren is paying an official visit to China from Tuesday to Friday at Wang's invitation. ^ top ^

China, Somalia sign bilateral pact for socio-economic development (Xinhua)
2015-04-02
China and Somalia on Wednesday signed a bilateral agreement which also saw Beijing donate money for socio-economic development in the Horn of Africa nation. Chinese Ambassador to Somalia Wei Hongtian and Somali Foreign Affairs Minister Abdisalam Hadliye Omar said during the signing ceremony that the agreement will go a long way in deepening relations between the two countries. "We are ready to take part in the reconstruction process of Somalia and ensure socio-economic prosperity of its people. The improving security situation gives us a chance for a restart to focus on education empowerment, infrastructure and health projects among others," Wei said in Mogadishu. In marking 55 years of political and diplomatic relations between the two countries, Wei noted that China has played a key role in Somali history, notably the construction of Banadir hospital, the biggest public hospital in the country, and that of Mogadishu stadium. The Chinese envoy added that his government will increase its assistance to Somalia to ensure the country's development and livelihoods improvement. The Somali foreign minister thanked China and promised the fund will be used prudently for the benefit of the whole country. "We thank you and your country for your generous support towards the reconstruction of this country. We will ensure that all the money is used for the benefit of the people of Somalia," he said. ^ top ^

Investment ties to further strengthen China-EU cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-04-02
Officials and experts foresee growing China-EU cooperation ever since Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Europe a year ago, noting both sides could strengthen ties in fields such as investment and trade. Xi visited the Chinese-owned Volvo manufacturing factory in Ghent in April last year when the plant produced its 300,000th car to be exported to China. "Employees showed more confidence about their future after Chinese capital was injected into the company. Their worries about layoffs have been eased," Mark De Mey, PR manager for Volvo in Ghent, told Xinhua in a recent interview. "After discussing with Chinese stakeholders, Volvo has set an ambitious strategy and target to double production by 2020 to 800,000 cars globally," De Mey added. According to official figures, non-financial sector investment from China to the EU in the first two months of 2015 was 9.5 times more than the same period in 2014. Commenting on investment from China, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said increasing Chinese investment in Europe is welcome. "Chinese investors in Europe have their own experience and knowledge. They are also dramatically increasing their activities abroad -- albeit from a low base. The European economy badly needs investment to drive our recovery from the crisis," Malmstrom said. Apart from direct investment, officials from the EU and member states are trying to engage in more economic activities with Chinese partners through investment. A case in point -- more than 10 European countries recently decided to join the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and thereby broaden cooperation beyond their own markets. Together with AIIB, the "Belt and Road" initiative of China also sparked interest from the EU, which has its own ambitious investment strategy in upcoming years. Addressing the Brussels-based think-tank European Policy Centre, Vice-President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen said the EU hoped to attract Chinese investments of up to 315 billion euros (339.3 billion U.S. dollars) into an EU infrastructure investment plan. According to EU sources, its investment strategy is seeking to cooperate with the "Belt and Road" initiative in specific projects. Katainen said Chinese investment was "very welcome," especially to fill in the gaps in long-term infrastructure needs in EU member states. This is particularly the case in eastern and central European countries and in Balkan countries, for which China is ready to allocate investment funds from the AIIB and the Silk Road Fund. Some experts see this as a good sign for EU-China economic cooperation, also taking into account other positive developments such as the China-EU 2020 Strategic Agenda and negotiations on a bilateral investment agreement hopefully to be concluded by 2015. Duncan Freeman, research fellow at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, said the EU needs as much investment as China could offer, although China will not be able or willing to cover all the possible investment requirements. According to Freeman, "there is likely to be more interest from member states and business sectors that see a real benefit from the initiative." "Rather than seeking a broad framework at the EU level, it may be more practical to work on a project-by-project basis," he added. ^ top ^

Vietnamese Communist Party leader to visit China (China Daily)
2015-04-02
Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, will pay an official visit to China from next Tuesday to Friday. According to a statement released by the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Nguyen Phu Trong was invited by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. ^ top ^

Myanmar apologises for bombs that killed five in China's Yunnan province (SCMP)
2015-04-03
Myanmar has accepted responsibility and apologised for bombs dropped on Chinese territory last month that killed five people, China's foreign ministry said yesterday. The incident happened during clashes between Myanmar government forces and a rebel group called the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army. Thousands of refugees have fled to China since fighting flared on the Myanmar side of the border. China was infuriated by the deaths in Yunnan province and warned of a "decisive" response if it happened again. Meeting his Myanmar counterpart Wunna Maung Lwin in Beijing yesterday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said a joint team formed to look into the bombing had clearly ascertained what had happened. Wunna Maung Lwin accepted the team's finding that bombs from a Myanmar aircraft killed Chinese citizens, and extended his apologies and offered compensation, the ministry said. "The Myanmar side will go after and punish in accordance with the law those responsible, and will also strengthen internal controls to avoid such an incident happening again," the ministry added. It said Myanmar would work with China to ensure stability along their 2,000km border. The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, led by ethnic Chinese commander Peng Jiasheng, was formed from remnants of the Communist Party of Burma, a powerful China-backed guerrilla force that battled the Myanmar government until it splintered in 1989. The group struck a truce with the government that lasted until 2009, when government troops took over their region in a conflict that pushed tens of thousands of refugees into Yunnan. ^ top ^

China helps 10 countries evacuate nationals from Yemen (Xinhua)
2015-04-03
The Chinese government has helped 10 countries to evacuate 225 nationals in conflict-ridden Yemen on Thursday, following its own evacuation of 571 Chinese nationals. Linyi missile frigate, carrying the 225 nationals of 10 countries, departed the Port of Aden in Yemen for Djibouti at 16:25 on Thursday, Beijing time, a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The people come from Pakistan, Ethiopia, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Britain, Canada and Yemem. The evacuation is at the requests of these countries and is humanitarian aid in nature, the press release said. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the evacuation, with the foreign ministry coordinating relevant countries and People's Liberation Army Navy dispatching warships to Port of Aden immediately, it said. Chinese embassies and consulates in Yemen and Djibouti overcomed difficulties and made arrangements, going all out to organize a safe evacuation, according to the press release. Chinese warships have also helped evacuate 8 foreigners from Romania, India and Egypt during its evacuation of Chinese nationals, it said. ^ top ^

China disagrees with U.S. sanctions program on overseas cyber attackers (Xinhua)
2015-04-02
China voiced disapproval of imposing sanctions on individuals or entities of foreign countries by passing national laws on Thursday. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks while responding to a question regarding a new sanctions program that U.S. President Barack Obama ordered on Wednesday, which could block assets of U.S. and foreign hackers and of companies that seek to profit from cyber attacks. "Cyber security concerns the common interests of all countries. The international community should jointly solve the issue of cyber attacks through dialogue and cooperation, and based on mutual respect and trust," Hua told a regular press briefing. She reiterated China is firmly opposed and committed to fighting against cyber attacks in any form. In the executive order, Obama said increasing malicious cyber-attacks on U.S. targets from the outside poses an "unusual and extraordinary" threat to national security, foreign policy and economy of the country. He declared "a national emergency" to address the threat. Under the presidential order, the sanctions include freezing all assets of targeted individuals or entities and deny their entry into the United States.  ^ top ^

FM slams US hack penalties (Global Times)
2015-04-03
China opposes the willful imposition of sanctions by any country on citizens and entities of another country through its laws, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday, after the US government unveiled a new sanctions program against cyber attacks. US President Barack Obama on Wednesday ordered a sanctions program that could block the assets of hackers or companies that seek to profit from cyber attacks and hurt US national security or business interests. He added that hackers in China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are among those which had attacked US government or business targets. Obama also said that hackers are hard to go after partly because "some governments are either unwilling or unable to crack down on those responsible." In response, Hua said at Thursday's press conference in Beijing that China firmly opposes and combats any form of cyber attack, and this stance remains consistent and clear. She said that cyber attacks are usually launched across nations and are hard to trace, thus requiring the efforts of the international community to solve through dialogue and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and trust instead of unilateral sanctions. The program, which is believed to be the first aimed at cyber attacks in US, is part of the country's plan to form international rules for cyberspace in a world confronted with increasing cyberspace security risks, Chinese cyberspace security experts said. Under the order, the US Treasury would be able to freeze or block assets of those involved in attacks on "critical" US computer networks like banking systems or power grids. Chinese companies are likely to be targeted since the US has been accusing China of being a major source of cyber attacks without concrete evidence, said Li Yuxiao, director of the International School at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. In the latest case, the US accused China of being behind a hacking attack that led to the data theft of up to 80 million customers of US health insurance giant Anthem on February 6. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the claim is groundless. Most cyber attacks are transnational and it is easy for hackers to attack another country through the network and service provider in a third country, so it's hard to trace, said Zuo Xiaodong, vice president of the China Information Security Research Institute. "Although China has been accused many times, the US has never provided concrete evidence," Zuo said, citing his own experience in Washington, where the US State Department failed to provide more evidence other than those mentioned in media reports. "China believes that the two countries can cooperate and China can assist in the investigation if the US provides enough evidence," Zuo said, recalling his involvement in a discussion between Chinese and US information officials and experts in Washington in October 2014. China called off its participation in the US-China Cyber Working group, after the US Justice Department indicted in May 2014 five Chinese military officers for hacking and economic espionage. The talks remain suspended. To deal with the possibility that Chinese companies may be targeted by the US government for allegedly launching cyber attacks, the Chinese government should accelerate the drafting of a cyberspace security law, Li said, adding that with such a law, Chinese authorities can do more things other than lodging a "representation" or "protest" against foreign accusations of cyber attacks. In an article on Wednesday in the Washington Free Beacon, US officials also accused China of boosting "cyber warfare funding" by billions of dollars. China is incapable of such "warfare" as China is itself a victim of cyber attacks and is often being used as a third country to launch attacks, an Internet engineer from the China Information Technology Security Evaluation Center, told the Global Times on condition of anonymity. Rather than slowing down cyberspace research, China should work harder to strengthen cyber security, he said. He added that accusing China, rather than cooperating, will affect bilateral ties. Lu Wei, minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, revealed last year that 80 percent of local government websites were hacked and over 10,000 websites were tampered with every month. According to Edward Snowden's leaks, the US National Security Agency's alleged China hacking unit has "successfully penetrated" Chinese computers and telecoms companies for at least 15 years, the Washington Post reported. The Washington Free Beacon reported that the US military is seeking $5.5 billion for cyberspace-related programs in the 2016 fiscal year.

Russians see China increasingly positive (Global Times)
2015-04-02
Three quarters of the Russian people have expressed their positive sentiments toward China, according to a public opinion poll released Thursday. Asked by the independent pollster Levada Center about which country they trust the most of all, 76 percent of the 1,600 respondents chose China, an increase of 2 percentage points compared to the poll conducted in November 2014. Meanwhile, negative feelings toward the West have been strong among the Russians, with only 24 percent of them said they are in favor of the European Union and 19 percent expressed positive attitude toward the United States. The most positive image in Russian eyes belongs to Belarus, with 85 percent of the respondents revealed their favorable feelings. Over Ukraine, 31 percent of respondents expressed favorable impression and 55 percent with negative feelings.

Nation still No 1 for US adoptions (China Daily)
2015-04-03
China remains the most popular country for parents in the United States to adopt a child, with 2,040 adoptions last year, according to US State Department figures released on Wednesday. The report shows that adoptions of foreign children from all countries to US families dropped by 9 percent in the fiscal year 2014 that ended Sept 30, and has reached its lowest level since 1982-6,441. That's down from 7,092 the previous year and from a high of about 23,000 in 2004. Adoptions from China in 2014 totaled 2,040, down more than 10 percent from 2013 and far below the 2005 peak of 7,903. Since then, China has expanded its domestic adoption program and sought to curtail the rate of child abandonment. It has also modified its one-child policy. At the same time, it has adopted more rigorous standards to qualify for the adoption of all children, including those with special needs. Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council for Adoption, said the lower number of adoptions from China last year is more "a reflection of the number they're willing to do than anything else". He said the type of children being adopted in the country has changed, with the majority now having a diagnosed special need. Most children who are abandoned fall into the special-needs group. Johnson added that China's adoption program has historically been one of the most reliable for US parents. The central authority, the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption, exercises "very strong oversight on the entire process," Johnson said. "It's been a little bit easier to work with the Chinese government than maybe some other countries because of the one central authority with one strong voice." In addition to policies intended to promote domestic adoptions and foster care, some sentiment against adoption is emerging against adoption in countries like China and South Korea. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that there has been an increase in US scrutiny of some countries, and of individual cases. "The State Department focuses too much on making sure children aren't trafficked, without seeing all the excellent things intercountry adoption can provide," Bill Blacquiere, president of Bethany Christian Services, a national agency, told the newspaper. Trish Maskew, the State Department's adoption chief, told the Journal that the US aims to protect all those involved in the process. "It's very troubling for families to adopt a child they believe is an orphan, and then find out they are not an orphan," she said. As international adoption has slowed, some agencies, including Michigan-based Bethany, have begun expanding domestic programs, the Journal reported. Johnson said that, starting in April, the Alexandria, Virginia-based adoption council will launch a campaign-"I Choose Adoption"-to encourage US women with unintended pregnancies to consider adoption. In May, it will launch a campaign called "Families For All" to remind parents about foster children who are available for adoption. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Beijing's Winter Olympics bid praised by IOC inspectors (SCMP)
2015-03-30
IOC inspectors left Beijing on Sunday after praising the capital's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics that, if successful, would make it the first city to hold both the winter and summer games. Their departure followed a news conference at which Evaluation Commission chairman Alexander Zhukov affirmed Beijing's embrace of the IOC's goals for a more frugal, sustainable and athlete-centred event. Beijing's bid relies heavily on the experience and infrastructure gained from the 2008 Summer Olympics, as well as expanding the appeal of winter sports in the world's most populous nation. "From this visit we can see that your Games in 2008 have left a profound legacy," Zhukov said. "We can also see the legacy of 2008 in the level of expertise and knowledge of the Beijing 2022 bid team," Zhukov said. Beijing's inspections and presentations went without a hitch, although air pollution remained at high levels throughout the visit. The visit was a test of Beijing's status as the front-runner against its rival Almaty, Kazakhstan. The International Olympic Committee will select the host on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The inspectors visited sites in Beijing and the Yanqing and Zhangjiakou ski areas north of the city. As an enticement to television audiences, some of the venues lie beneath portions of the Great Wall. While the venues' distance from Beijing is a concern, organisers say a high-speed rail line will reduce the three-hour travel time to 50 minutes. Air pollution and a lack of natural snow have also been raised as issues. Beijing plans to tackle the problem by making snow, closing polluting industries and taking older vehicles off city roads. It says this will bring a 25 per cent reduction in PM2.5 pollutants under a five-year plan begun in 2013. Following ballooning price tags, the IOC has made lowering costs a key criteria for hosts. After a visit by inspectors to Almaty in February, Kazakh organisers announced venue changes they say will save US$500 million. Beijing plans to spend US$3.9 billion on infrastructure and operations, a fraction of the US$51 billion spent by Russia on the 2014 Sochi Games. That does not include key infrastructure such as sports facilities and the rail line that Beijing says would be built regardless of its bid. ^ top ^

Olympic bid outlook remains bright despite pollution (China Daily)
2015-03-30
The International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission remains positive that Beijing is capable of hosting a successful Winter Olympics in 2022 despite concerns about serious air pollution. The evaluation commission concluded its five-day inspection visit to Beijing on Saturday with high marks for the city's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. "I can say that the Olympic spirit that Beijing and China showed the world in 2008 is alive and as strong as ever. Our visit has confirmed that Beijing is capable of hosting successful Olympic Winter Games in 2022," said Alexander Zhukov, Russian IOC member and chairman of the evaluation commission, at the wrap-up news conference on Saturday. During the evaluation trip, the commission raised approximately 150 questions for the Beijing bid committee on 15 themes, including bidding concept, athlete experience and public support. It also inspected all of the proposed venues in downtown Beijing, Yanqing county and Zhangjiakou in Hebei province, accompanied by bid officials and athlete representatives. Among all the concerns, how to tackle the notorious smog in Beijing and surrounding areas has been a pressing issue. Wang Anshun, president of the Beijing 2022 bid committee and mayor of Beijing, promised that if the bid succeeds, a series of tough measures taken previously by environmental authorities would bring "Olympic blue" in time for the Games. "We will continue implementing strict measures and tough penalties with great determination to improve the air quality, not only for the bid but also for residents' livelihood," Wang said. "Olympic blue", derived from the phrase "APEC blue", which was coined during November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Beijing, refers to the fresh air and clear days that would be the goal during hosting of the Olympics. During the APEC meetings, Beijing imposed strict pollution controls that led to a big decrease in airborne pollutants. Zhukov said the IOC commission has faith in the Chinese government's efforts to reduce air pollution for the sake of the athletes, officials and international spectators, should Beijing win the bid. "I don't think there is any doubt that the 2008 Games increased the environmental awareness in China and helped energize the government measures to tackle the pollution," he said. Beijing's rich legacy from the 2008 Summer Olympics of existing venues and expertise of event operation has provided a significant edge over its only bid rival, Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan. "I think Beijing has maximized the use of existing world-class sports venues and infrastructure. It's 100 percent consistent with the Olympic Agenda 2020 (reform recommendations that promote sustainability in future Olympics)," said Zhukov.^ top ^

China sets up leading team on Belt and Road initiative (Xinhua)
2015-03-30
The Chinese central government has set up a special leading group to oversee the implementation of the Belt and Road initiatives, the office of the group said. The group issued a statement on Sunday following the release of the principles, framework, priorities and mechanism for the China-led Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives. The statement said the leading group will be in charge of guiding and coordinating work related to the initiative. But it did not specify its members. The central authorities traditionally set up leading groups dedicated to major development and reform issues. "Construction of the belt and road is a huge and systematic job [...] that calls for strengthened leadership and coordination of domestic and foreign affairs," the statement said. The office of the group is under the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner. China will collaborate with partner countries to carry out research, forums and fairs, personnel training, exchanges and visits under the framework of existing bilateral, multilateral, regional and sub-regional cooperation mechanisms, so that they gain a better understanding of the initiative, said the statement. Countries involved will work together to substantiate and improve cooperation, work out relevant timetables and roadmaps, and align national development programs and regional cooperation plans, it said. The statement also said China will work with countries to steadily advance demonstration projects, jointly identify programs that accommodate bilateral and multilateral interests, and accelerate programs. The initiatives were proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013 with visions to connect Asian, European and African countries more closely and promote mutually beneficial cooperation. ^ top ^

Remarried couples still face baby restrictions (Global Times)
2015-03-30
The regional government of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region recently defended its decision to reject a couple's application to have a baby on the grounds that one of them has two children from a previous marriage, saying that it was in line with the region's family planning regulations. The 34-year-old woman surnamed Huang and her husband - who had two children with his ex-wife - began to apply for permission to have a baby of their own in 2014, but their application has been repeatedly rejected due to local family planning regulations. "But we are allowed to have a baby of our own, according to central government guidelines," Huang, who has no previous husband or children and is an only child, told the Global Times. The National Health and Family Planning Commission issued guidelines that would allow remarried couples in which one partner is an only child to have a single baby under three scenarios. The scenarios include if the partner that is an only child has no offspring and their spouse has two children. "It is only a recommendation and local authorities should abide by the local regulations," an employee of Guangxi's health and family planning commission surnamed Zhao was quoted as saying by the news portal thepaper.cn. Zhao admitted that Guangxi's current family planning regulations "might be a little harsh [on such couples]," and that investigations and research have been carried out by the local authorities into remarried couples in case of future amendments to the family planning regulations. Earlier government replies to Huang and her husband's applications read that the central government guidelines on remarried couples have not been applied in Guangxi due to its large population base and relatively fast population growth. The local family planning regulations stipulate that remarried couples could be allowed to have a baby if one has only one child and the other has none. The region implemented a two-child policy in March last year, but made no amendments to its rules regarding remarried couples. ^ top ^

Two fugitive officials caught by 'Sky Net' (Global Times)
2015-03-30
Two fugitive officials were brought back to China as the first battle of a new anti-graft campaign code named "Sky Net" to hunt down officials who have fled the country rolls on, China's top disciplinary watchdog announced Saturday. Pang Shunxi, the former director of Tianjin branch of the State Administration of Taxation and An Huimin, the former manager of the Tianjin-based Han International Trade Co Ltd, were escorted back on Saturday afternoon after they gave themselves up to the Chinese Embassy in Laos, according to the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China. The two fled to the Southeast Asian country after they were investigated for corruption and bribery in December 2014. The arrests are believed to be the first under "Sky Net," which is a new anti-graft campaign following the previous operation "Fox Hunt 2014," in which 680 officials who fled overseas were arrested. Jointly undertaken by the Organizational Department of the CPC Central Committee, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and the People's Bank of China, the new campaign will focus on arresting officials suspected of corruption and cracking down on fake passports and underground banks, in addition to recovering assets involved in criminal cases, according to media reports. The MPS will continue to head the "Fox Hunt" campaign in 2015 as part of the "Sky Net" operation. It also calls for suspects at-large to give themselves up as soon as possible for a more lenient punishment. ^ top ^

Beijing introduces new air pollution response (Xinhua)
2015-03-31
Beijing introduced new rules to deal with air pollution on Monday. According to the city's environmental protection bureau, the new heavy air pollution emergency response program will replace the current version, launched on Oct. 2013. Four-tier alerts--blue, yellow, orange and red--will be issued on "heavy pollution" days. Red alert, the highest, will be issued for heavy pollution that is expected to last more than three days. An air quality index of over 200 is defined as "heavy pollution". Orange and red alerts will be issued 24 hours before the heavy pollution days, according to Yao Hui, deputy head of the bureau. Drivers with odd and even license plates will be allowed on alternating days during red alerts. Heavy vehicles including construction vehicles will be banned from the roads during orange or red alerts. When an orange alert is issued, all the industrial factories will be closed except those necessary to maintain the operation of the city. Construction sites will be shut down. In 2014, Beijing issued blue alert 11 times, yellow alert five times, and orange alerts twice. ^ top ^

Male rape should be legally recognized (Global Times)
2015-03-31
A legal expert proposed Monday that China should expand the definition of "rape victims" in its Criminal Law to cover men who have been assaulted and therefore better promote gender equality. Jia Jian, a lecturer at the Chongqing-based Southwest University of Political Science & Law, told the Global Times that his proposal aims to protect men's rights to sexual autonomy as he has seen many cases in which sexual offences were committed against men and the victims were not helped by the police or safeguarded by the law. Jia put forward several suggested changes to the Criminal Law. Under one suggestion, the definition of "rape victim" in the law - which specifies that only women or underage girls can be rape victims - should be modified to use gender-neutral terms, meaning that the crime of rape not only refers to man-on-woman assaults, but also covers man-on-man, woman-on-woman and woman-on-man crimes. "This mode has been widely adopted by countries such as Germany, France and Italy, which define the victim of rape as 'others' and equally protect both women and men's sexual rights," said Jia. "Traditional conceptions of rape only saw rape victims as women when men can also be the victims." Jia added the law could also clearly point out that women are also capable of being rapists. Jia's proposal was published in the Procuratorial Daily, a newspaper under the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Monday. Many netizens showed their support for the proposal and his suggestions were especially welcomed by LGBT activists. "This suggestion is one we have promoted for a long time," said Xiao Tie, executive director of the Beijing LGBT Center. "This may be a way to eliminate the long-standing legislative discrimination against both genders," said Liu Junhai, a law professor at the Renmin University of China. China's Criminal Law, in which rape is defined solely as men having sexual intercourse with women without consent, only protects women's rights to sexual autonomy. It should be changed to keep up with the times and equally safeguard public sexual rights, said Liu. ^ top ^

Putting an end to green corruption (Global Times)
2015-04-01
Since his appointment in late February, China's new Environmental Protection Minister Chen Jining has stressed the need to curb corruption in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) industry. In a latest announcement released on March 25, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) required all government-backed EIA institutes either to disassociate themselves from local environmental protection authorities or to pull out of the EIA market by the end of 2016. Employees at institutes to be shut down will have to quit if they wish to continue working as EIA engineers. Chen vowed to disassociate all eight EIA institutes affiliated with the MEP before the end of 2015. The announcement came in response to serious violations and corruption in the EIA process revealed by the China's top discipline watchdog during an inspection in late 2014. The inspection team identified widespread professional negligence, and pointed out that government-backed institutes dominate the EIA market, making it easy for them to trade favors between the government departments associated with the EIA process. The State Council has stated that except for major energy or construction projects, the EIA will not be a pre-condition of approval, which some experts worried might worsen the environment protection in the country, thepaper.cn reported in December. Cheng Lifeng, director of the MEP's EIA department, said that only by eliminating administrative obstacles could China develop a healthy, truly market-based EIA industry. But some environmentalists have expressed doubts as to whether simply forcing government-backed EIA agencies to disassociate from government organs could lead to a healthy market, as rampant violations still exist at every point in the chain. Widespread violations : Information on disciplinary violations and corruption involving government-backed EIA institutes began emerging many years ago, said Peng Yingdeng, a senior EIA engineer with the Beijing Municipal Research Institute of Environmental Protection under the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. Peng, who has over 30 years' experience in the EIA field, said that most violations occur when EIA institutes help illegal projects gain government approval by fabricating the report or bribing local environmental protection officials in charge of approval. In one major corruption case that came to light in 2007, the Hangzhou Research Institute of Environmental Protection under the Hangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau offered a 30 percent kickback to officials responsible for the approval of EIA reports in 13 district-level environmental protection departments. The institute allegedly paid 7.4 million yuan in "commissions" in 2005 alone, the Outlook Weekly reported. There are a total of 11,368 EIA engineers in China as of March 22. Among the 507 EIA engineers in Henan Province, 178 of them reportedly have ties with government-backed institutions, according to China Central Television. "The EIA is the source and starting point for environmental protection. Approval of the EIA report is the key step in the EIA process and also where corruption is most likely to occur," said Chang Jiwen, vice director of the Research Institute of Resources and Environment Policies under the Development Research Center of the State Council. However, experts said that non-governmental EIA agencies are not immune to corruption and violation. "Corruption is worse in non-governmental EIA agencies, as the costs for breaking the rules are low," Peng said, adding those agencies have more flexibility in faking their financial records. Some non-governmental EIA agencies also brag about their "good relations" with environmental protection authorities in their online advertisements. One such EIA agency employee surnamed Mo told the Global Times reporter posing as a potential client that his nine years of working in the industry in Beijing have helped him build good connections with government officials. "I could get the EIA report approved for around 100,000 to 150,000 yuan even if your project has some problems," Mo said. The MEP punished 63 EIA agencies and 22 assessment engineers for violations in early March. The agencies either had their licenses revoked or were ordered to fix the problems that led to the violations. A total of 159 agencies and 169 engineers in China have been disciplined over the past two years for violations that threatened environmental safety, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Far from enough : "Barring government-backed agencies from conducting EIAs could provide fairness and justice for the EIA industry, but it's not enough to establish a healthy market," Peng said. At least a third of about 1,200 China's EIA agencies are affiliated with the government, Peng said. "Very few of their employees would like to keep doing assessments after the quit, based on the circumstances at my institute, which means that the EIA industry will lose lots of experienced engineers." A fundamental reason for the corruption in the industry is because the EIA mechanism is not transparent, and public supervision is largely absent, Peng said. Although guidelines for the publication of EIA report issued by the MEP in 2013 asked all companies and related environmental protection authorities to publish the full text of the EIA report and the approval decision, in practice, many published reports are stripped down, said Xie Xinyuan, a research fellow from Beijing-based NGO Green Beagle. In one case Xie is working on, a company building an incinerator told residents they could only see a shortened version of the EIA report at a designated place, with no photocopying or picture taking allowed. But after negotiations with the company, Xie said, the full report was finally published on the its website. "No matter whether the agencies are government-backed or not, the current EIA [process] has shifted to helping companies get their EIA report approved by the government." The public cannot be left in the dark about the EIA process and oversight, experts said. "The EIA should be conducted by a third party that consists of EIA engineers, residents' representatives as well as NGOs, to ensure the authenticity of the report, and the relevant departments should organize public hearings once the report has been approved," Xie said. ^ top ^

New rules against judicial meddling (Global Times)
2015-04-01
China has announced new measures against officials who interfere in judicial cases, as the country further strengthens the rule of law regime. The 13-article rules, issued by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the General Office of the State Council on Monday, state that judicial personnel are required to keep records of interference from officials and submit them to their superior judicial organ as well as to the CPC's political and legal affairs commissions at the same level. The commissions will then report the cases while the CPC's commissions for discipline inspection investigate such cases. Under the new rules, violations include interceding on behalf of litigants, asking personnel handling cases to meet with the litigants or their defenders privately, or overstepping their authority by offering suggestions or directions on how cases should be heard through hearing reports, meetings or issuing circulars, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Officials who violate the rules will be warned or brought to court if their behavior is deemed criminally liable. They are also banned from seeking revenge on judicial personnel who record their violations. Judicial officers who fail to report or make false reports on the violations will also be punished. The rules are part of a broader legal reform package adopted by a key session of the CPC Central Committee in October and are listed as one of the targets in the Supreme People's Court's fourth five-year reform plan. Wang Jingbo, a law professor from the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times that the new measures clearly define the responsibilities of legal supervision and further protect judicial personnel. "However, the procedures are not detailed enough. There should be incentives for judicial personnel to report on officials' misbehavior, including cash rewards and promotions, to encourage more people to participate," Wang said. Officials around the country have been criticized for eroding judicial credibility by meddling in cases. Such interference has involved officials who sent signed memos to the courts, phoned judges or asked their subordinates to talk with them. The Beijing News said in an editorial on Tuesday that legal supervision requires "not only great courage but also sufficient technique" as previous attempts from the court system to record official interference have all but failed. Official interference in judicial activities is widely seen as one of the key reasons for corruption in the judicial system and miscarriages of justice. Aside from the rules, the Political and Judiciary Commission under the CPC Central Committee also released a regulation on Monday that forbids any interference from within the judicial system in court matters. ^ top ^

27 water conservation projects planned, half in western regions (Global Times)
2015-04-01
China plans to build 27 major water conservation projects in 2015, with about half concentrated in western regions, in an attempt to promote urbanization, water resources authorities said on Tuesday. "The amount of investment in major water conservation projects will be further increased this year, compared with the 488 billion yuan ($79.74 billion) last year," Jiao Yong, deputy head of China's Ministry of Water Resources, told a press conference Tuesday. "The water conservation projects will help expand China's domestic demand and support economic growth," Jiao noted. They are part of China's plan for 172 water conservation projects. Jiao said a batch of small and medium reservoirs is expected to be built in counties and small cities to ensure urbanization due to their surging populations. 2014 saw the launch of 17 projects, 10 of which were constructed in the west. Jiao cited the Jiayan reservoir in Bijie county, Southwest China's Guizhou Province as an example. With an investment of 18.3 billion yuan, the project not only guarantees urban water supply but also alleviates the county's environmental concerns following soil erosions. The government pledged to further increase land compensation and resettlement allowance to those who relocate over water conservation projects. Meanwhile, Jia promised to carefully study the western route of the south-to-north water diversion project that feeds the thirsty Northwest and North China, including Gansu Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, "with water conservation as a priority." Beijing has received more than 100 million cubic meters of water from the south since December 12, when water was diverted from Hubei Province to Beijing, Jiao said. "It is too early to evaluate the effectiveness of the middle route of the mega project because it's only been four months since it began … I am confident that the project will play a dominant role in the economic development of northern China," Jiao said. ^ top ^

New emergency smog plan for capital (China Daily)
2015-04-01
If heavy smog continues for more than three days Beijing will launch top level emergency efforts to reduce pollutant emissions, including restricting half of private vehicles on the road based on their license plates. This is one of the major changes in the capital's updated emergency plan, released on Monday. The plan lowers standards for launching alerts when severe air pollution shrouds the capital, said Yao Hui, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. Last year the capital suffered severe air pollution on 45 days but no red alert, the highest in the four-level emergency plan was issued, raising questions from the public and experts. Under the new plan, the municipal government can issue the red alert when severe air pollution is forecast to extend for more than three days. Based on statistics, the capital would release red alerts two or three times a year after standards are lowered, which may last for 10 days in total, said Zhang Dawei, director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center. If a red alert issued, the government will impose the toughest restrictions on pollutant emissions. For example, use of half of private vehicles will be restricted based on odd-and-even license plates but new energy vehicles will be excluded. In addition, vehicles for government departments and institutes will have extra restrictions with 30 percent of vehicles which could be used will be banned. Major companies in polluting industries will be suspended from production and students of primary and middle schools and kindergartens will study at home.^ top ^

China puts elite graft watchers on duty at key Communist Party agencies (SCMP)
2015-04-02
They have the stamp of approval from the nation's top graft-buster, Wang Qishan, spotless records - and in the eyes of the leadership - integrity in spades. This week, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) announced it had sent seven teams, each with its own leader, to act as in-house monitors on the lookout for corruption at several key Communist Party organisations and the nation's two main political bodies. According to mainland media, Wang personally chose the team leaders taking up residence in the Central Committee's General Office, the State Council Secretariat, the Organisation Department, the propaganda department, the United Front Work Department, the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Such direct observation, by officials from outside the web of these influential organisations, marked a new step for the party in its campaign to control graft. The seven leaders - aged between 55 and 61 - built up extensive experience within local government before they were transferred to the discipline commission. Meanwhile, smaller central party committee or government units, such as state security services, which are monitored by these seven top party organisations, will also be overseen by the new resident units, according to the online platform of People's Daily. The seven chiefs were appointed because they have no ties with the organisations they are monitoring. For example, Xu Lingyi, 57, the former deputy chief of the party's ideology taskforce, has been posted to Central Committee's General Office. Xu previously worked in Zhejiang and the State Bureau of Letters and Calls, which handles petitions. Yu Hongqiu is the youngest among the seven. At 55, she was the former deputy chief of the All-China Women's Federation and will lead the team at the Organisation Department. She previously worked in Guizhou and with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions. Another leader, Xin Weiguang, worked in Guizhou for 12 years as party secretary for Guiyang and Liupanshui cities. The Politburo endorsed a guideline in December to set up the new teams. ^ top ^

China spends ¥400 million to keep tabs on pollution (SCMP)
2015-04-01
The mainland spent more than 400 million yuan (HK$505 million) monitoring pollution in 177 cities last year, according to Wu Xiaoqing, vice-minister for environmental protection. Cars were the main source of locally generated pollution in the country's four major cities, Wu said on Wednesday at an environmental monitoring site in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. The ministry had completed analysis of atmospheric pollution in nine major cities, Wu said. Particles from motor vehicles, industrial production, coal, and dust accounted for 85 to 90 per cent of atmospheric pollution, and cars were the main locally generated source of pollution in Beijing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. In Shijiazhuang and Nanjing, coal-burning was the primary source of pollution. In Tianjin, Shanghai, and Ningbo, dust, mobile source emissions such as vehicles, and industrial production were the biggest culprits. Air pollution in the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin area is notoriously bad, and Hebei, which surrounds Beijing and is China's biggest steel-producing province, accounting for nearly a quarter of the country's steel output. According to Wu, in 2014, the mainland spent 436 million yuan on 552 state-controlled air pollution monitoring points in 177 cities. Wu admitted that some local governments had fabricated or tampered with data to relieve pressure on them, and that this had seriously damaged the credibility of the government and his ministry. The government planned to complete work on an air quality forecasting system before October, and a second round of analysis into the sources of pollution and prevention measures in 26 major cities before November, Wu said. It has moved combating air pollution to the top of its agenda. At the close of the National People's Congress last month, Premier Li Keqiang said progress in tackling smog and pollution had fallen short of people's expectations. ^ top ^

MEP reveals PM2.5 sources (Global Times)
2015-04-02
Research into the source of PM2.5 pollution across nine major Chinese cities is complete, a senior environment official announced Wednesday, with analysts describing it as a major step toward combating the smog which has plagued large areas of the country. China's environmental protection authorities on Wednesday blamed vehicle emissions, industrial production, coal burning and dust for air pollution, with vehicle emissions the primary source in Beijing. Environmental experts said that while they welcome the analysis, they also expect more detailed and transparent data. These four sources are responsible for 85 to 90 percent of airborne pollution in Chinese cities, Wu Xiaoqing, vice minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) was quoted as saying by the Xinhua News Agency Wednesday. Vehicle emissions are the primary source in large cities including Beijing and the southern cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, according to first stage of the MEP study, which was conducted in nine cities concentrated in the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin region, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta. The nationwide air pollution source analysis program started in 2014, and the MEP plans to expand their research to 26 other cities. "The results can guide different cities to adjust their measures against air pollution accordingly," Wu said at a environmental monitoring work conference in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province Wednesday. Shanghai's main air pollution source is "mobile pollutants." Although the authorities did not specify what the pollutants are, Zhang Yuanxun, a professor of resources and environment at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), believes they mainly refer to vehicle emissions. The number of motor vehicles in Beijing has surpassed 5.3 million, the largest number in China, while Shenzhen and Guangzhou were home to some 2.7 million and 2.5 million vehicles, respectively. Beijing's traffic conditions exacerbate the problems, Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times. "The severe traffic jams multiply pollutants on the already crowded roads," he said. The density of PM2.5, particulate matter under 2.5 micrometers in size, was detected to be 90 to 100 micrograms per cubic meter during traffic congestion while the density stayed around 30 micrograms in free-flowing traffic, according to a 2013 test by The Beijing News. An article stating that "local governments are allowed to limit and prohibit vehicles from the roads based on their degree of causing air pollution" was added to the draft of China's air pollution prevention law, the People's Court Daily reported last December. The draft is expected to be tabled for a second reading by the top legislator in 2015. The MEP's report had intensified fears in Beijing that the city may introduce an odd-even number plate policy, as was in place during the 2008 Olympic Games. Under current rules, one-fifth of vehicles are banned from the roads during weekdays. "The government certainly should encourage citizens to use public transport more and restrict the growth in the number of cars," Wang Tao, a scholar at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, told the Global Times. "Nevertheless, we cannot only focus on the number of cars. The fuel quality, traffic management and road planning also assume great importance," Wang Gengchen, a research fellow with the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at CAS, told the Global Times. Ma warned that the MEP's findings should not mislead authorities into overlooking other pollutants, calling for more detailed data. "The major [pollution] sources should be categorized into local and outside pollutants, which also constitute a great proportion of air pollution," Ma said. Although pollutants blown into Beijing contributed 28 to 36 percent to the density of PM2.5 in the air, the proportion would increase to some 50 percent due to extreme weather conditions, the Beijing Evening News reported on January 25. Coal is the major source of air pollution in Shijiazhuang, a heavily polluted city in North China's Hebei Province, about 300 kilometers away from Beijing. The heavy industry city should strengthen the supervision of concrete and steel mills to use clean coal before burning and purify emissions by removing dust, sulfur and nitrogen, Zhang noted. However, authorities have made much headway with environmental monitoring in 2014. Central and local governments invested 436 million yuan ($69.7 million) to establish 522 national-level monitoring stations in 177 cities, forming the largest monitoring network among developing countries, according to the MEP. Despite the progress, the MEP's PM2.5 results are not authoritative enough as the government, research institutes and companies have not reached a consensus on tested pollutants and examination methods, Wang Gengchen told the Global Times. There is a chance that local governments and businesses have altered data to meet the air standards that the central government imposed, he said. Zhang demanded the disclosure of all the measurements and corresponding data, as well as constant real-time environmental monitoring data. ^ top ^

China's ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang charged with corruption, leaking state secrets (SCMP)
2015-04-03
China's former security chief Zhou Yongkang has been formally charged with corruption, abuse of power and intentionally leaking state secrets, state media reported. The charges have been laid by prosecutors in the northern city of Tianjin, the People's Daily said on Friday morning. The Supreme People's Procuratorate said it has completed its investigation into Zhou and handed the case to the No. 1 Branch of Tianjin's municipal prosecutors. Zhou has been accused taking large bribes during his tenures as the vice general manger of state-run China National Petroleum Corporation, provincial Communist Party chief in Sichuan, head of the Ministry of Public Security and as chief of Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate. “[Zhou's] abuse of power has led to great losses of public funds and has done severe damage to the national and the public interests, causing adverse social impact,” it said in a statement. No details were given of the allegations that he had intentionally leaked state secrets. Zhou will stand trial in Tianjin, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported. The authorities publicly announced in July last year that Zhou was under investigation for alleged abuse of power and corruption. The South China Morning Post reported in August the previous year that a case had been opened against him. Analysts said it broke the decades-old convention in China's Communist Party that senior leaders avoid prosecution for alleged wrongdoing. State media said in December that Zhou would face criminal charges after he was expelled from the Communist Party. Xinhua said the allegations against Zhou also included "exchanging power and money for sex". The People's Daily, the Communist Party's official newspaper, later described the former security czar asa "traitor" to the party. Dozens of officials with connections to Zhou have been detained for alleged graft in recent months. Many are connected with Zhou's former power bases in the oil industry and in Sichuan province. The charges against Zhou come amid a sweeping anti-corruption crackdown initiated by President Xi Jinping. Political experts say Zhou's case, which took months of painstaking evidence gathering, will be a litmus test for China's principle of the rule of law as it would be subject to the judiciary, not simply internal party disciplinary procedures. Analysts have previously told the South China Morning Post that Zhou was likely to face a suspended death sentence, if convicted, a tougher penalty than the one meted out to disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai who was jailed for life for graft. ^ top ^

Google drops support for Chinese internet security certificates after trust breach (SCMP)
2015-04-03
Search giant Google will no longer recognise security certificates issued by the official China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) following what experts called a "major breach of public trust and confidence". CNNIC, which is responsible for internet affairs under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, responded to Google's announcement with a defence of its practices, calling the move "unacceptable". Last month, CNNIC issued security certificates for a number of domains, including Google's, without their permission. Security certificates are akin to a website or online service's fingerprint, and tell a browser whether it can be trusted. By issuing unapproved certificates, CNNIC risked compromising the encryption protocols used to protect users of email services and other secure websites. "CNNIC is included in all major root stores and so the misissued certificates would be trusted by almost all browsers and operating systems," Google said in a statement. Chinese officials told Google they had contracted Mongolia-based MCS Holdings to issue the certificates. MCS said it would only issue certificates for domains it had registered. "However, rather than keep the private key in a suitable [hardware security module], MCS installed it in a man-in-the-middle proxy. These devices intercept secure connections by masquerading as the intended destination and are sometimes used by companies to intercept their employees' secure traffic for monitoring or legal reasons," Google said. Tom Lowenthal, a security and surveillance expert at the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the Chinese move marked a "major breach of public trust and confidence". "The deliberate breach had the potential to seriously endanger vulnerable users, such as journalists communicating with sources," he wrote. On Wednesday, Google said that "as a result of a joint investigation of the events surrounding this incident by Google and CNNIC", it would no longer recognise certificates issued by the Chinese authority. Websites and businesses using CNNIC certificates may now be flagged as dangerous on Google's Chrome browser, potentially scaring off customers. Google said it did not believe any other certificates had been affected aside from those issued by MCS, and praised CNNIC for taking steps to improve security. "[We] welcome them to reapply once suitable technical and procedural controls are in place," it said. In a response posted online on Wednesday, CNNIC said Google's decision was "unacceptable and unintelligible" and called on the US-based company to consider user rights and interests. "For the users that CNNIC has already issued the certificates to, we guarantee that your lawful rights and interests will not be affected," the agency said. Google's move comes as US President Barack Obama issued an executive order declaring cybersecurity a "national emergency", in the wake of a concerted attack on the open-source code repository GitHub. ^ top ^

"Sky Net" leaves corrupt Chinese officials nowhere to hide (Xinhua)
2015-04-02
China's implement of "Sky Net" campaign to round up corrupt officials who have fled the country is another piece of evidence showing China's unequivocal resolution to crash down corruption and graft, and destroys the fantasies of those officials that they can avoid punishment by hiding in other countries. To begin with, the "Sky Net" shows that China's determination to eradicate corruption is stronger than ever. Compared to last year's "Fox Hunt 2014" campaign, the "Sky Net" is a more coordinated move, which, besides the Ministry of Public Security, will also be participated by the Organizational Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the People's Bank of China, or the central bank. The name of the campaign, "Sky Net", is inspired by a famous Chinese proverb: The net of the sky (sky means heaven or divinity in the context of Chinese traditional culture) has large meshes, but it allows nothing evil escape. As Chinese President Xi Jinping had said in January, China is going to place "a net in the sky and on the ground, making sure corrupt officials cannot hide in safe havens." Moreover, the implement of "Sky Net" is also encountered with a ever-stronger willingness of cooperation from other countries. Many corrupt officials have chosen to flee to other countries, because they believed they can hide themselves behind the complex regularities on extraditions and jurisdictions. The top three destination countries for Chinese corrupt officials, namely the United States, Canada and Australia, have not signed extradition treaties with China, making the task of pursuing and capturing fugitives more difficult to fulfill. Most of the graft cases in the aforementioned countries can only be dealt with as money laundry, immigration fraud and so on. However, the international community has begun to realize that corruption is a crime that needs closer and swifter worldwide cooperation. Despite an absence of an extradition treaty between Beijing and Washington, there are positive signs that the United States will help. The U.S. State Department said last month that China had agreed to supply "more evidence regarding their priority fugitive cases, so that we can increase our focus on the location and prosecution or removal of these fugitives." Other countries, such as Britain and France, are expressing also their willingness to cooperate with China in the pursuit of fugitive officials. Combining the CPC's unprecedented determination and enhanced international anti-corruption cooperation, corrupt officials should cast off any hope that there still is a safe place for them, as the punishment of Chinese laws would fall no matter where they are. ^ top ^

China adds 360,000 teachers to rural schools (Global Times)
2015-04-03
China's Ministry of Education on Thursday said the country has added some 358,000 new teachers to rural primary and middle schools in the past year. In a report on the "balanced development of China's compulsory education," the ministry said it has also allocated 4.4 billion yuan to provide professional training for Chinese teachers and organized exchange programs for more than 500,000 teachers in 2014. The moves are meant to better allocate educational resources, improve the overall quality of primary and middle school teachers, and bridge the gap between urban and rural education, it said. The figures came just one day after the Chinese central authorities approved a plan to support rural teachers over the next five years by improving teachers' political and moral awareness, increasing their income, and persuading urban teachers to work in rural schools, among others. According to a statement issued after the 11th meeting of the central leading group for deepening overall reform on Wednesday, Chinese leaders agreed that education in remote and poor areas in central and western regions has been the weakest link in the modernization of education. "It is crucial that every child receives an equal education so as to stop poverty spreading to the next generation," the statement said. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Too ambitious? Shanghai aims to be both top financial hub and 'China's Silicon Valley' by 2020 (SCMP)
2015-04-01
Shanghai, China's financial capital, is raising the stakes. It is not just aiming to become one of the world's top three financial centres but it's also poised to launch an ambitious plan to become the country's version of Silicon Valley. The Shanghai government announced earlier this week that technological innovation would be its number 1 priority this year, ultimately seeking to become a “globally influential technological innovation hub”. Shanghai's ambition for technology and innovation comes at a time when the central government is urging support at all levels for Premier Li Keqiang's new “Internet Plus” strategy, which was revealed recently at China's annual political summit in Beijing. “We must seize the time now that takes 'Internet Plus' as a major backdrop,” said Shanghai's Communist Party chief Han Zheng in a statement on the municipal government's website. Han also said the city had made key strides in its “No. 1 Study Plan” – a seeming blueprint for its ambitions, though its exact details remain unclear. He said this would be a “policy of national strategy in the next step”. “The technological innovation centre that Shanghai will build is a large global platform that will keep an open mind about attracting everyone,” he said in a meeting on the study plan. Other cities like Shenzhen made similar statements following Li's speech on how to generate jobs and boost the economy by linking traditional sectors with internet-related technology. Shanghai's latest ambition for tech and innovation will also pose a challenge to southern neighbour Hong Kong. The autonomous Chinese territory is keen to step up its efforts to turn into a regional hub for start-ups, especially hi-tech businesses. The Shanghai government plans to launch specific schemes to work towards establishing itself as a start-up hub. One is the so-called “Entrepreneurship in Pujiang Action Plan”, under which a host of entrepreneurship schools will be built, with the aim of having 200,000 technology entrepreneurs by 2020. Shanghai also expects to have at least 3,000 angel investors and more than 100 venture capital firms doing business in the city. If successful, the Pujiang action plan would nurture more than 3,000 “sizeable tech companies”, according to the city government. Competition among investors and private businesses has become tougher in major mainland cities in recent years, partly because private businesses account for more than 60 per cent of the nation's GDP growth annually for the past decade. Many state-owned enterprises have seen business growth slow down due to economic restructuring. Over the past decade, Shanghai has been competing with top-tier cities including Beijing and Guangzhou to attract talent and new businesses, while Hong Kong's energies have focused on political disputes rather than economic developments in recent years. Zhang Xinxin, the Shanghai-based co-founder of a personalised travel itinerary app called Chufaba, said their team picked Shanghai over Beijing because of its much higher living standard and its international ethos. “It's true that Beijing does gather a lot more entrepreneurs than Shanghai and they get together for events very often, but for me having a good environment is also important,” said Zhang. Chinaccelerator, a Shanghai-based business incubator for start-ups, said on its website that the firm chose to set up shop in Shanghai instead of Beijing “to reduce all possible detractions from focusing on what's most important to achieving your dreams: pollution, traffic congestion, events, media, your personal network”. Han, Shanghai's party boss, said the study plan had been thoroughly studied and had given rise to important breakthroughs recently, laying the foundation for it to become an official directive. “The internet has become much more than a tool, it represents a brand new way of manufacturing and way of life. The mode and conditions of socioeconomic developments have also changed. These are not simple changes, but compounded changes that deeply affect society, the economy, and many different aspects of life,” said Han. Over the last six years, Shanghai has embarked on a mission to transform itself into a global financial hub by 2020, but question marks have hung over those ambitions as fears among state regulators about rampant hot money flows deter Shanghai from drastically liberalising the capital market. In 2013, Shanghai launched the mainland's first free-trade zone aimed at making the area a testing ground for experimental policies such as a fully convertible yuan. But the development of the free-trade zone has failed to live up to expectations. “How's Shanghai as a place for budding entrepreneurs? We can't just stay behind our desks and think. We must get out there and listen to what entrepreneurs have to say,” Han said. Shanghai should also take “self-revolutionary” approaches to innovate the mode of governance and “genuinely foster a culture and environment that leads to popular entrepreneurship and innovation”, he said. If the government does not transform itself, then the market mechanism would not be effective, he added, Shanghai mayor Yang Xiong said the plan would be brought forward by setting mid- to long-term goals, particularly towards the year 2020. The key would be to let manufacturers, universities and other research institutes take active control of the plan so that the city's “creative energy and power” could be unleashed. But it will not be smooth sailing, as the mainland faces the lack of intellectual property protection, which analysts say many businessmen have either fallen victim to or exploited. The mainland's education system should also rectify its “excessive” focus on exams and rote learning if it wants to transform its economy, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a bloc of developed economies such as the United States, Canada and Japan, though not including China, said in a report in March. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

3.9-magnitude earthquake hits Tibet (Global Times)
2015-04-02
A 3.9-magnitude quake struck Nyalam county of Xigaze in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region Thursday morning, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center. An earlier report also from the center said the quake was at 4.9 magnitude. The quake occurred at 8:56 a.m. at 28.7 degrees north latitude and 86.4 degrees east longitude with a depth of seven kilometers, the latest available report said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Mainland China officials says innovation can fail in talk on Hong Kong's Basic Law (SCMP)
2015-03-30
Any innovative system can fail, a top Beijing official said in reference to Hong Kong's Basic Law - before stressing that he strongly believed the "one country, two systems" principle would prove a success. The unprecedented comments came from Zhang Rongshun, vice-chairman of the Legislative Affairs Commission under the National People's Congress Standing Committee, at a symposium in Beijing to mark the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the city's mini-constitution. Zhang reminded his audience that late leader Deng Xiaoping responded to questions about whether his "one country, two systems" idea would work by saying that the facts would provide the answer. A source familiar with Beijing's policy on Hong Kong said Zhang's comments reflected that the central government was fully prepared for the possible failure of the city's political reforms this year and knew more difficulties could follow in implementing the mini-constitution. Beijing saw aspects of the Basic Law's implementation as "not very successful" due to problems and controversies since the handover, the source added. In his speech, Zhang stressed that the Basic Law contained concepts not found elsewhere. "We understand any new system may succeed but could also fail. We strongly believe the Basic Law's innovative system could succeed, but eventually we have to let the facts speak," said Zhang. Referencing Deng, he added: "Today we should still use this manner to address the disputes [that] emerged from the implementation of [the] Basic Law, and [how] we would end such disputes eventually with the successful practice [of the mini-constitution]." Zhang and other mainland officials used the symposium to condemn Hongkongers who failed to respect the Basic Law. Zhang stressed that the city's status as a special administrative region was not meant to "offer a stage" for certain powers to advocate independence. Zhou Bo, deputy head of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said violating the Basic Law would get the city nowhere. Some Hongkongers "have forgotten or violated the value of rule of law by destroying public order through illegal and violent actions", Zhou said. "But time has proven that any violation of the Basic Law could never resolve problems but tears society apart." And speaking on the day of Lee Kuan Yew's funeral, Zhou praised the founding father of Singapore for warning in 2000 that Hong Kong would be "locked in a frustrating process of attrition with the centre" should it fail to find agreement with Beijing on constitutional reform. Lau Nai-keung, a member of the Basic Law Committee, said there was no need to overreact to Zhang's remarks. "I think Zhang only states a logical fact. For all things, there is a chance that they may fail," Lau said. China-watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu saw Zhang's comments as an attempt to blame pan-democrats - who have vowed to vote down reforms based on a framework set by Beijing - if the city's political reforms fail. Executive Council member Cheng Yiu-tong saw Zhang's warning on independence as a reference to the pan-democratic camp and its "foreign backers". Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said Zhang should provide concrete evidence before making claims about the "certain powers" he spoke of. ^ top ^

Shock as HKTV boss Ricky Wong 'agrees to buy beleaguered rival ATV' (SCMP)
2015-04-01
Struggling free-to-air broadcaster ATV dropped a bombshell yesterday, announcing that major investor and de facto boss Wong Ching had agreed to sell his controlling stake to HKTVs maverick chief, Ricky Wong Wai-kay. The stunning announcement came during ATV's Chinese-language newscast at 6pm, and was repeated after the commercial break for added impact. HKTV offered no comment and made no announcement to the stock market yesterday. According to the report, Wong Ching and his relative, Wong Ben-koon, who holds the 52.4 per cent stake on paper, had accepted Ricky Wong's offer for the stake. HKTV would take over the broadcaster while the outgoing owners would take care of its debts. The station was waiting for approval by the High Court and accounting firm Deloitte, which was appointed to sell a 10.75 per cent stake to a "white knight". The Communications Authority would also have to approve. ATV's announcement stunned industry insiders, especially after Ricky Wong repeatedly and categorically denied he would do any such deal with the station he once ran for 12 days. They described it as a slap in the face for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who was evasive when asked about ATV yesterday morning, Leung would only say ATV's licence was being handled according to established procedures and the law. They noted that the Executive Council had already delayed a decision on renewing ATV's licence for four months while waiting for a white knight. That was despite the fact the Communications Authority's predecessor, the Broadcasting Authority, recommend not renewing the licence, which expires late this year. Exco today holds a special meeting on ATV, arranged before yesterday's news. Analysts and political commentators said Wong Ching had put the chief executive between a rock and a hard place. It's widely understood that the government does not want to let Ricky Wong run a free-to-air station, especially after controversially rejecting the outspoken telecoms veteran's application for a licence in 2013. But rejecting the deal would deny ATV a lifeline. "[The government] would rather renew ATV's licence than let it die," said James Sung Lap-kung, a political scientist at City University. He said the government had no grounds to reject it. Ricky Wong could not be reached for comment. He was understood to be out of town. After making his name by building City Telecom, Ricky Wong spent 12 days as CEO of ATV in 2009. A year later, he applied for a licence for HKTV and began filming dramas at HK$1 million per episode. The government instead granted licences to two pay-television players. HKTV's books show HK$819 million in cash on hand and assets of more than HK$3 billion, despite losses of HK$237 million. ATV is running out of cash and has been taken to court for failing to pay staff. Wong Ching said last week that the station had no hope without a "miracle" by the end of March - yesterday. IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said any deal might spark legal action, given PCCW and i-Cable had been awarded free-to-air licences in principle and now wanted a share of the broadcasting spectrum. "TVB might take action too," Mok said. ^ top ^

Man jailed for incest with teenage daughter who later gave birth (SCMP)
2015-04-01
A father who made his teenage daughter pregnant was branded a "shameless coward" by a judge yesterday as he was jailed for incest. The 55-year-old defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had tried to make the 17-year-old girl go to the mainland for an abortion. She later gave birth to a baby girl. He was sentenced to six years and eight months in jail. High Court Judge Madam Justice Esther Toh Lye-ping said: "The defendant is a totally shameless coward to prey on his own daughter," Toh said. "This is a case where instead of protecting his daughter, he violated her and breached the trust between father and daughter." The judge said had he pleaded not guilty and been convicted, she was would have sentenced him to 10 years - but she had to reduce his jail term by one third after he pleaded guilty to one count of incest. Toh urged lawmakers to consider reviewing the maximum penalty of 14 years for incest to allow more severe punishment and said her hands were tied by case precedents and legislation. The court heard that on October 21, 2013, the man had sexual intercourse with his then 17-year-old daughter, identified as X, who later gave birth. DNA tests proved the man was the biological father of both X and her daughter. "He selfishly suggested her go to China to have an abortion," Toh said. Summarising the case, she said that since Form One, X would occasionally wake up to find her underwear had been removed and pyjamas unbuttoned, and an unidentified secretion on her underwear. The judge added that X's coping strategy was to try to stay awake and wear tight clothes. Toh said: "The defendant will go to jail and regain freedom when he is released. But one would wonder when X could be released from her prison of psychological distress the defendant so cowardly and single-handedly brought on her." She urged X to undergo psychological treatment. The court also heard that the victim had no interest in relationships with men. In mitigation, defence lawyer Mahinder Panesar said the case had badly damaged the man's family, with his mentally disabled sister later committing suicide. However, Toh said the repercussions had been brought on by the defendant single-handedly. ^ top ^

Hong Kong struggling to breathe under weight of 'maximum' urban density, academic says (SCMP)
2015-04-03
Urban parts of Hong Kong cannot cope with any more high-rises as street-level airflow has become more stagnant and unable to disperse heat and pollutants, an academic says, warning of an "urban dome". The winds are weakening as more tall towers are built close to one another, Observatory data shows. Average wind speeds at the King's Park urban weather station in Hung Hom dropped from 3.5 metres per second in 1968 to two metres per second last year. With the still air came a 2 degrees Celsius rise in average temperatures in the same period. "Further densification of our city is highly not recommended," Professor Li Yuguo, who heads the mechanical engineering department at the University of Hong Kong, said. "Future land reclamation may also need to be more disciplined." Li said poor ventilation might be a factor behind days of very high pollution as the winds could barely disperse the pollutants. The urban lethargy contrasts with the Observatory's remote Waglan Island weather station, where wind speeds have been stable over the last 50 years. The Observatory says dense developments increase roughness at the surface, exerting a drag on winds near the ground. Li warned of an "urban dome" effect based on ventilation studies conducted by his team. They found that, in the absence of winds, convective heat from individual buildings rose and formed a dome-shaped accumulation of warm air and pollutants above the city. Few studies have been conducted locally on the urban dome, which differs from the "heat island" effect - which describes cities that are much warmer than surrounding rural areas - as it demonstrates airflow trapped within an inverted layer. If anything, the urban dome was a result of the heat island effect, Li said. The warm breezes felt on some afternoons tended to be man-made "city winds" induced by the heat island effect rather than natural winds. But there was "no removal strategy for the urban dome", Li said. He suggested that secondary streets along northern Hong Kong Island be kept "wide and short" to facilitate downslope windflow from the hills. Buildings could also provide openings of about 10 metres at their bases - as exemplified by the HSBC headquarters in Central - to improve low-level airflow, he said. "But of course, there are development challenges," Li admitted. "The price to pay is not having a 7-Eleven on the ground floor of every building." Urban planner Paul Zimmerman, of Designing Hong Kong, said the government could give incentives to developers to provide better ventilation and make land pricing policies more flexible. He said Li's study suggested the government could be more aggressive in improving ventilation in public spaces. "Unlike a city like New York, where streets run towards the water and air can come in on all sides, our streets run along the water and heat is trapped," he said. "That's why waterfront development is so important, because people can go there to enjoy cooler weather." ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan in last-minute bid to join AIIB as founding member (SCMP)
2015-03-31
Taipei decided on Monday night to make a last-minute formal application on Tuesday to join the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member. The decision was announced after Taiwan's Presidential Office held a closed-door national security meeting yesterday, bringing together the heads of various government departments to discuss the island's bid to join the new regional financing body. "The finance ministry will prepare the necessary documents, which will be reviewed and approved by the cabinet before they are sent to the mainland via our existing communication channel with the [State Council's] Taiwan Affairs Office [in Beijing]," presidential spokesman Charles Chen I-hsin said. Chen also said in a statement that joining the AIIB would aid Taiwan's push for regional economic integration "and increase the odds of the island taking part in international affairs and international economic and trade organisations". But it was not immediately known whether Taiwan would be accepted as a founding member. Taiwan and the mainland have been rivals since the end of a civil war in 1949, but relations have improved since Ma Ying-jeou became the island's president in 2008. The AIIB requires member countries to have statehood to join, and Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province. Taiwan's decision on the eve of Tuesday's deadline for submissions came as Egypt became the first African nation to apply to join the development bank. According to the finance ministry in Beijing, more than 40 countries have signed up. In Seoul, deputy finance minister of international affairs Choi Hee-nam said South Korea, a US ally, expected to take a 4-5 per cent stake in the development bank and wanted to be a founding member. "Stakes of the individual members will be decided based on economic size and other factors, and it looks like [South Korea's stake] will be 4 to 5 percent," Choi said on the KBS public radio channel. Choi said South Korea hoped to play an important role in the bank's management. He said South Korea had a 5.1 per cent stake in the Asian Development Bank, which is dominated by the United States and Japan and faces a challenge from the AIIB. In Hong Kong, the government has expressed an interest in taking part in the AIIB, although Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Professor Chan Ka-keung dismissed news reports that the city needed to put up HK$10 billion in capital. Speaking at a special finance committee meeting at the Legislative Council, Chan said: "The figure is not accurate, even though we don't have it yet … At the end, we will seek funding from Legco and will present the documents to garner … support for joining." He said the AIIB was still being established and the articles of agreement were being drafted. China is putting up much of the US$50 billion in initial funding, about half what it hopes to eventually attract. Chan said funding estimates for Hong Kong would not be ready until the agreement and details of its involvement were finalised. "Hong Kong is an asset management and finance centre. We believe … our finance or professional services could help nearby countries in their investment in infrastructure. So the benefits will be enormous." Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said he will discuss with Beijing how the special administrative region can get in on the act under the principle of "one country, two systems". ^ top ^

Mainland appreciates Taipei mayor's comments on cross-Strait ties (Xinhua)
2015-04-01
A representative of the Chinese mainland on Tuesday expressed appreciation to comments by Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je on cross-Strait ties. The mayor's latest remarks are expected to promote exchanges between Taipei and the mainland, said Fan Liqing, spokeswoman of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office. She also revealed that the mainland city of Shanghai is planning a forum between the two cities. Ko said in an interview with Xinhua on Monday that he himself is willing to assume new role in the development of cross-Strait relations. When commenting about the "1992 Consensus," Ko said "one China" is not a problem and that agreements already signed between the mainland and Taiwan, as well as the exchange history between both sides, should be respected. People on both sides should look to a common, better future, the two sides should, based on the existing political foundation, uphold the principle of knowing each other, understanding each other, respecting each other and cooperating with each other and adhere to the spirit of "both sides belong to one family", Ko said. The "1992 consensus" was an agreement reached in 1992 with a core of acknowledgment that the Chinese mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China. ^ top ^

Beijing welcomes Taiwan to join infrastructure bank under 'appropriate title' (SCMP)
2015-04-01
Mainland China would welcome Taiwan to join the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank under an appropriate title, officials said on Wednesday. The State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) received a letter of intent from Taiwan before Tuesday's deadline for founding membership and has transferred the letter to the multilateral interim secretariat for the AIIB, spokesman Ma Xiaoguang was quoted as saying by Xinhua. “We welcome Taiwan to participate under an appropriate name,” Ma said, without indicating what title Taipei should use and whether the island would be accepted as a founding member. Taiwan's finance ministry sent the letter of intent to become a founding member to AIIB through the communication channel between TAO and its Taiwanese counterpart, the Mainland Affairs Council, on Tuesday. The letter does not specify which title Taiwan would use. Mainland's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, however, said Taiwan's application “should avoid giving rise to the issues of 'two Chinas,' or 'one China, one Taiwan',” Xinhua reported. So far 48 countries and regions have applied for founding membership, of which 30 have been accepted. ^ top ^

 

Economy

AIIB useful complementary tool for world financial order (Xinhua)
2015-03-30
China's efforts to help create the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) symbolize the new financial muscle of the region and China itself, a Spanish expert has said. The AIIB is a useful complementary tool for world financial order as it provides mechanisms to transfer the global weight of the region's economies to other areas, said Xulio Rios, director of the Observatory of Chinese Politics. The bank is a great opportunity for European companies, which helps explain why the governments of the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland and Luxembourg have stood up to the initial pressure of the United States to boycott the initiative and have instead voiced their willingness to become members of the bank, according to Rios. The establishment of the AIIB could serve to reduce Washington's influence in Asia, Rios said, adding the United States' firm control of the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank will not be enough to put a brake on China. Rios believes the voting systems in some international financial organizations have become obsolete and reforms have remained inviable with U.S. opposition. The following step points towards a greater liberalization of the yuan and its rate of exchange, according to the expert. Rios highlighted that the conjugation of great financial power of China and improvements in expertise in certain areas have allowed Asia to open the door to a new development impetus from other geopolitical areas of the globe. The AIIB represents an important challenge for the Japan-U.S. presence of the region, as well as an imminent international institutional renovation. The bank can become an important geo-strategical tool, which is linked to other projects such as the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Maritime Silk Road initiative, according to Rios, adding such projects will determine the rise of new economic realities, which do not depend on the West. ^ top ^

China welcomes Russia, Finland's applications to AIIB (Xinhua)
2015-03-31
China has welcomed the applications of Russia and Finland to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on Monday, one day before the deadline to join the bank as a founding member. Russia and Finland will become founding members on April 14 and April 12, respectively, should all existing members approve, according to a statement on the Finance Ministry's website.^ top ^

Over 40 countries seek membership of China-led Asian infrastructure bank (SCMP)
2015-04-01
At least 47 countries and territories from five continents have applied to join the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as founding members. Sweden and Kyrgyzstan were among the last to apply before the deadline passed yesterday, adding further weight to the regional financing body, which has seen its influence grow even before it officially starts operation. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that 30 countries had already been approved as Prospective Founding Members (PFMs), but the exact number of PFMs would not be confirmed until April 15. "Some applicant states are still undergoing a multilateral review process," she said. Meanwhile, the AIIB's preparatory committee held its third round of negotiations in Kazakhstan with 29 PFMs to discuss operational charters and other details of the US$50 billion fund, which has a capital target of US$100 billion, according to the finance ministry. Hong Kong officials participated as part of the China delegation, the ministry said. Hong Kong, as a special administrative region of China, has signalled an interest in joining the bank. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying yesterday urged pan-democrat lawmakers not to filibuster should the government seek the Legislative Council's approval on matters related to joining the AIIB. Taiwan's cabinet said the island had applied to join as a founding member under the title of Chinese-Taipei, a name it uses in several international organisations, including the International Olympic Committee. But Beijing did not indicate whether it had received Taiwan's application. Norway said it wanted to join the new agency, a move which could help thaw relations between the two nations. While the deadline for founding members has passed, countries can still join as ordinary members. Japan indicated it would not be joining the bank, at least not yet. After a meeting of Japan's cabinet, Finance Minister Taro Aso said it had "no choice but to be very cautious about joining", Reuters reported. Aso said Japan was concerned about the bank's governance, its debt sustainability and environmental and social safeguards. But Japan's stance would not stop the AIIB from creating a new order in the global financial scene, analysts said. The popularity of the AIIB was a diplomatic victory for China and an setback for the United States, they said. Even in the US, some experts are now criticising Washington for mishandling the issue. Professor Yu Xiong, of Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University in Britain, said the decision by US allies to join the AIIB was proof of China's rising global influence. "This may mark another historic point of China's global influence surpassing the US," Yu said. "The AIIB - a rival of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank led by the US and Japan - is seen as a significant setback to US efforts to extend its influence in the Asia-Pacific region and balance China's growing financial clout and assertiveness," Kao Shien-quey, vice-chair of Taiwan's National Development Council, said. Kao said the new bank had been regarded as a good alternative by Europe and other US allies fed up by Washington's long-time dominance of global financial markets. Britain caught the US by surprise by declaring in mid-March that it intended to join the AIIB, prompting other European countries to follow suit. Just 21 countries had signed a memorandum of intent to join the AIIB last year. "With more countries joining the AIIB, a new global financial order is set to take shape and this is something the US must ponder," Kao said. ^ top ^

US 'failed' to give China IMF role (SCMP)
2015-04-01
Former US Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers said congressional inaction on a plan to overhaul the International Monetary Fund had helped China gain support among other countries for its own regional development bank. "They can quite legitimately ask, 'excuse me, you guys have had 5-1/2 years to support a reasonable role for us in the IMF, and you have not done it'," Summers, a Harvard University professor, said at a campus forum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "So we have basically ushered in that change with legitimacy on China's part, and it is a terrible reflection on our political system that we have not been able to find a compromise." European nations including Germany and Britain, along with other US allies such as Australia and South Korea, are seeking to join China's new institution in defiance of US warnings that it might lack the standards of institutions such as the World Bank, based in Washington. While China made it clear it would welcome the US in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the US still preferred to collaborate through existing international financial institutions, a US Treasury official said in Beijing on Monday after Treasury Secretary Jack Lew met leaders including Premier Li Keqiang. China, the world's second-largest economy, ranks sixth in its voting shares at the IMF, behind Japan, Germany, France and Britain. Under a plan forged in 2010, China would jump to third, while India would climb to eighth from 11th and Brazil would move up four spots to 10th. "While we have all this rhetoric about shaping a new global order - the truth is that China still only has 2.5 per cent of the vote at the IMF - and we have taken the position unsuccessfully that China should not be able to start a global development bank to do infrastructure in Asia," he said. Republican lawmakers in the US Congress have declined to approve the changes that would recognise the growing economic might of countries including China, India and Brazil. Most of the IMF's 188 member nations support the 2010 plan, as does the Obama administration. The lack of US approval for the IMF changes was a "symptom of a broader problem, which is that we have great difficulty getting the executive branch and the legislative branch together on international organisations, international trade agreements and the kinds of steps that are necessary for the US to be a leader in the global economy," he said. ^ top ^

China receives Norway's application to join AIIB (Global Times)
2015-04-02
China confirmed the reception of Norway's application to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on Wednesday. "We have received the application. The AIIB is an open multilateral institute and welcomes countries in and out of Asia to apply for joining," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing. Hua made the comments when asked to comment on Norway's confirmation of its intention to join as a prospective founding member. "Norway is a substantial contributor to global development efforts and wishes to join countries from Asia and other parts of the world in further refining the structure and mission of the AIIB," Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said in a press release on Tuesday. Tuesday was the application deadline and the number of founding members will be confirmed on April 15 as some applicants are still undergoing multilateral reviews, Hua said on Tuesday, She confirmed that 30 nations have been approved as prospective founding members of AIIB by Tuesday. With an expected initial subscribed capital of 50 billion US dollars, the AIIB will be an international financial institution to fund infrastructure projects in Asia and is expected to be formally established by the end of this year. Twenty-one countries including China, India and Singapore signed a memorandum of understanding to found the bank in Beijing last October. ^ top ^

China's manufacturing growth fails to ease fears of economic slowdown (SCMP)
2015-04-02
Manufacturing activity on the mainland grew last month as businesses resumed after the Lunar New Year holiday, an official survey showed, painting a rosier picture than expected. But the manufacturing growth – which was better than broad market expectation of prolonged contraction – may not be enough to dispel fears about weakening economic expansion in the first quarter. As a result, economists have continued to call for stronger policy easing to combat a growth slowdown and persistent deflationary pressures. The official purchasing managers index (PMI) for the mainland's manufacturing sector, compiled by the National Bureau of Statistics, rose to 50.1 last month. A figure above 50 reflects expansion while a figure below it indicates contraction. Before March, the PMI had been below 50 for two consecutive months. Last month's expansion indicated factory activity had reversed a contraction. But it was still lower than the same period last year, when the PMI was 50.3. “The readings suggest that manufacturing conditions, among large firms at least, have held up better than expected,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics. “But this doesn't do away with the need for more policy support to prevent growth from slipping further.” Evans-Pritchard expected new policy measures – including cuts to rates and reserve requirement ratios – to be rolled out as the government worked towards meeting the annual growth target. The 7 per cent annual growth target for this year was lowered from last year's 7.5 per cent. In last year, the country's gross domestic product grew 7.4 per cent, the slowest in 24 years. Lacklustre industrial demand, including a further weakening property sector, pushed the government into easing mortgage lending and home sales rules this week. Non-manufacturing PMI fell to 53.7 last month from 53.9 in February, the statistics bureau said, signalling continued albeit slower growth. Compounding concerns that smaller firms may be suffering more than larger ones from high financing costs and falling profitability, HSBC's PMI on China's manufacturing sector dropped to 49.6 last month. This was sharply below February's 50.7 but up slightly from a preliminary reading of 49.2. The difference between the national statistics bureau and HSBC's PMI “suggests that small- and medium-size enterprises may face a more severe downturn compared with large enterprises”, said Chang Jian, a Hong Kong-based economist with Barclays Capital. The official PMI covers 3,000 manufacturers with bigger, state-run firms carrying heavier weight. HSBC's PMI, which polls more than 420 manufacturers, focuses more on smaller players. ^ top ^

Former deputy finance minister Jin Liqun tipped to become head of China-led AIIB (SCMP)
2015-04-03
A former deputy finance minister may become the first head of the international development bank led by China that more than 50 countries around the world have signed up to join, according to analysts. Jin Liqun, who has been heading a panel to initiate the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), is expected to be the top candidate to become the lender's president when the bank is formally launched later this year, according to Wang Jun, a senior researcher at the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, a government-backed think tank. Jin, 66, a former deputy finance minister and ex-vice-president at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), had "Beijing's strong backing and wide endorsement from various areas", according to Wang. He said China was likely to retain the largest voting rights among the bank's members and there was a strong possibility that Beijing would name its own official as president. President Xi Jinping proposed setting up the bank during a visit to Southeast Asia in October 2013, hoping the institution would supply some of an estimated US$800 billion needed annually to upgrade infrastructure in the region. Xi Jinping (front center) guides guests at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank launch ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in October, 2014. Photo: Reuters The plan, analysts say, is also aimed at channeling excess infrastructure capacity in China overseas while also promoting wider use of the yuan in trade and investment. If he becomes the bank's president, Jin would also have the job of increasing Beijing's say in setting the rules of global economics and finance, countering the power of the Japanese-led ADB and the Washington-backed World Bank. But whoever leads the bank will face several challenges, analysts say. Critics have expressed doubts about how the bank will be run, with Japan and the United States saying that its decision-making and lending rules must be open and transparent. Analysts have also suggested that with more than 50 countries applying to join, the bank's president would have to strike a careful balance between the interests of members in the East and West. That would mean making Beijing's voice heard, while avoiding the impression that the bank is dominated by China's interests. Wang said Jin was a highly skilled troubleshooter and more than capable of meeting these challenges. "Jin is willing to face problems. He never hides away from them and always tries his best to solve them," Wang said, adding that Jin also expressed his views in a way easily understood by Western officials. During his time at the ADB, Jin oversaw operations in South Asia and the Mekong region, including Cambodia and Myanmar, Wang said. He flew to Phnom Penh to talk face-to-face with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen when problems arose over the bank's loans in the Southeast Asian nation. "He won trust within the ADB through such action," Wang said. Zhao Changhui, a researcher at China Strategic Thinkers, a non-governmental research institute, said Jin was definitely among the candidates to become the bank's first president. The successful candidate, he said, had to meet several criteria. These included familiarity with political issues and international affairs, strong management skills and the ability to maintain dialogue with countries' leaders and put in place a sound fundraising mechanism. Jin was among the first in China to study international affairs at a high academic level when the country began to open up its markets to the outside world, Zhao said. "He understands China's needs very well. His English is beautiful. He gained his experience through work, unlike some others who only talk big," Zhao said. Jin originally comes from Zhenhai, a district of Ningbo in Zhejiang province. In 1978, after a decade in the countryside working with farmers during the Cultural Revolution, he was admitted to Beijing Foreign Studies University. From 1987 to 1988, he was a Hubert Humphrey Fellow in the economics graduate programme at Boston University in the US. In a China Daily article he wrote in 2007, Jin said he had kept his dream of education alive during the Cultural Revolution, despite the tough conditions in the countryside. "The truth is that I was never for a moment convinced that a nation such as China could survive or survive well without education. I am sure that my crude, but never narrow nationalism was shared by many others of my generation," he wrote. Jin said his hard life working on the land did have a positive effect and brought back happy memories as he was overwhelmed by villagers' hospitality and friendliness. He said that later in life he felt lucky to be able to take charge of infrastructure projects financed by the World Bank and the ADB, which gave him a chance to see "a road connecting a remote village, a power transmission line bringing light to farmhouses or irrigated farmland draped with luxuriant vegetation". Before taking up his role in laying the groundwork for the AIIB, Jin was chairman of the investment bank China International Capital Corp and the head of the supervisory board at China Investment Corp, the country's US$653 billion sovereign wealth fund. An official who used to work with Jin said his working style was far less bureaucratic than many government officials in China and that he was impressed by Jin's flexibility when dealing with colleagues. "Some people may oppose something if they dislike it, but Jin is not subjective or stubborn. Even on something he dislikes, he may say, let's do it, as long as we can keep potential harm to the minimum," the official said. Jin was also very persistent, he said. "He is dedicated towards his goals until they are met," he said. But, he cautioned that Jin lacked a proven track record of successful investment decisions. "This will raise a high requirement and pose a challenge" if Jin was ultimately made head of the China-led development bank. "We'll wait and see," he said. ^ top ^

 

DPRK
DPRK rules out dialogue with Japan (Xinhua)
2015-04-03
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Thursday that Japan's "political provocation" has made it hard for the two countries to hold inter-governmental dialogue, the official KCNA news agency reported. In a notice sent to Japan, the DPRK accused Japan of internationalizing the abduction issue and putting it forward as a major issue at the UN human rights arena, according to the KCNA. Japan's moves, said the notice, violate the agreement aiming to settle the issue between the two sides and makes Japan an untrusted dialogue partner, according to the report. The notice also strongly denounces the Japanese police for forcibly searching the houses of top officials of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), who are also deputies to the Supreme People's Assembly, the country's top legislative body. Pyongyang claims that the move has infringed on the DPRK's sovereignty. The DPRK demanded that the Japanese government give a full explanation and offer an apology over the incident, the notice said. The DPRK acknowledged in 2002 that it had abducted 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s. Talks on the issue were shelved in December 2012, when the DPRK launched a long-range missile. Eight abductees have died and the remaining five have been repatriated, said the DPRK. However, Japan has pressed for more information about the fate of the abductees who have died and others that it believes were also kidnapped. The Japanese police searched the house of the head of Chongryon on March 26 on suspicion of illegally importing matsutake mushrooms and selling them in Japan, according to Japanese local media. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia seeks to bridge power deficit (Infomongolia)
2015-03-31
Despite abundant energy resources, Mongolia is struggling to meet its growing demand for electricity, increasingly relying on imports until long-term projects to develop new generation capacity are completed. Energy production rose by 6.7% last year, with a total of 5.5 billion KWh being generated domestically, according to data issued by the Ministry of Energy at the end of February 2015. The increase was secured by new capacity brought on line at existing plants, but production still fell short of demand for power. Total electricity requirements rose to 6.9 billion KWh last year, with the deficit made up by imports from China, which accounted for nearly 1 billion KWh, and Russia, which provided a further 0.4 billion KWh. The rapid rate of expansion of the Mongolian economy - led by a boom in mining and manufacturing - combined with a long lead time in rolling out energy projects, has led to an electricity shortfall since 2009. Installed capacity is currently just under 1,100 MW, of which only about 800 MW is available. With most of the existing plants and transmission systems built in the 1960s to 1980s, the facilities are prone to shutdowns and long periods of maintenance, worsening the supply shortage. Most of Mongolia's installed generational capacity is thermal, utilizing an abundant and cheap supply of coal deposits to fire power stations' turbines. Last year, 76.5% of power consumed and well over 90% of electricity generated locally came from thermal plants, with a further 2.8% of total supply coming from renewable energy sources, mainly wind farms. The Government has set a target of sourcing up to 25% of the nation's electricity needs from renewables, using a mix of solar, wind and geothermal by 2020. A 2007 law set parameters for feed-in tariffs on renewables like wind, solar and hydro, as well as for off-grid systems. The exact rate, however, is fixed by power purchase agreements (PPA) negotiated with the Energy Regulatory Commission. Transmission & connection problems : On top of issues with generation and distribution, end-users have also faced delays in being connected to the grid. In its “Doing Business 2015” report, the World Bank ranked Mongolia 142nd out of 189 countries in terms of the ease of small businesses procuring electricity. Mongolian businesses have to complete eight procedures before securing power connection, a process that on average takes 79 days, the report said. The ranking for procuring electricity was the second lowest achieved in the survey by Mongolia, and well short of its overall country rating in 72nd place. However, the report noted that Mongolia had implemented some reforms to improving efficiencies last year, including enforcing time limits at different stages of the connection process and improving internal processes. Industry, urban sprawl driving growth: It is hoped that new contracts will go some way to alleviate the shortages. In late January, Mongolia's MAK Energy signed an agreement with China's Harbin Electric International Company for the construction of two 135-MW power stations to be located in the Umnugovi Aimag region. The plants will provide power for the nearby Narin Sukhait coal mine and act as a back-up source for other large mines in the area such as Oyu Tolgoi. Rapid urbanization, in particular in and around the capital, has also seen energy demand swell. Central to government efforts to close the energy gap is the delayed 25-year build-operate-transfer concession for CHP5, a coal-fired plant in Ulaanbaatar, which will produce 415 MW of power and 587 MW of steam. The 1.2 billion USD project is to be developed by a consortium including France's GDF Suez, South Korea's Posco Energy, Japan-based Sojitz and Mongolian firm Newcom. A 25-year PPA was signed with the Government in 2014. ^ top ^

Mongolia Mining 2015 Program (Infomongolia)
2015-03-30
Mongolia Mining 2015 International Mining & Oil Expo will be held for the 5th consecutive year at Buyant-Ukhaa Sports Complex in Ulaanbaatar on April 01-03, 2015. The 5th edition of the expo will feature traditional mining and emerging oil industries of Mongolia with exhibitors and visitors representing the industry's major companies and the largest number of professionals. In addition, the organizing committee will hold seminars with guest speakers from the Government and its agencies, academic scholars, business professionals covering topics including the Government policy on mineral resource and adapted new laws, mega projects of Mongolia, the trend and forecast of the industry, and more. The expo is organized jointly by Minex Mongolia Co., Ltd, Erdenes Mongol LLC, Expo Mongolia Co., Ltd., and International Expo Bureau of Mongolia. As a tradition and the most important technological event of the country, the Ministry of Mining, Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mineral Resource Authority are serving as the main supporters of Mongolia Mining 2015. Moreover, Mongolia Mining will host exhibitor booths from mining and exploration companies, oil exploration companies, service providers and equipment suppliers, evaluation and consulting companies, investment and financing institutions as well as representatives of multilateral organizations interested in this crucial industry. ^ top ^

Mongolia Economic Forum 2015 Program (Infomongolia)
2015-04-01
The 5th Mongolia Economic Forum (MEF) starts tomorrow at the Government House in Ulaanbaatar to take place for two days, April 02-03, 2015, where the MEF invites acclaimed leaders to the Annual Forum Meetings with respect to the social and economic pressing issues and organize discussion on development policy and its implementation. The Mongolia Economic Forum is an independent, non-governmental, public organization committed to improving and creating common concept to accelerate development of Mongolia by organizing discussions between the business and political leaders, civil society and scholars. ^ top ^

ROK Ambassador Lee Tae-ro ends his diplomatic mission to Mongolia (Infomongolia)
2015-04-01
On March 31, 2015, President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj received the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Korea to Mongolia, Mr. Lee Tae-ro on the occasion of ending his diplomatic terms in Mongolia. Ambassador Lee Tae-ro noted, “Our two countries enjoy stable relations in recent three years of my term as Ambassador and during the first Mongolia-South Korea Intergovernmental Joint Committee meeting which held in March 2015, we discussed the works and achievements of the past 25 years after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and future goals. I congratulate Mongolia on hosting the ASEM in 2016. This attests that Mongolia's participation and reputation in the international arena is strengthening”. Also Ambassador emphasized the importance of the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on North East Asia Security Initiative, put forward by President Ts.Elbegdorj, for establishing and maintaining peace and security in the region. He mentioned that President and Government of South Korea launched initiative concerning the North East Asia security and expressed their interest to cooperate with Mongolia in this sphere. Ambassador expressed South Korea's interest to increase its investment to Mongolia, enhancing the mutual cooperation in education, health, agriculture and other sectors. President Ts.Elbegdorj expressed his appreciation for his contribution to the development of bilateral relations between Mongolia and the Republic of Korea and said, “Over the past 25 years, since the establishment of diplomatic relations, our two countries have been successfully maintaining the bilateral friendly relations. I often meet and exchange views with Ms. Park Geun-hye, President of South Korea at the international meetings”. At the conclusion, President Ts.Elbegdorj wished Ambassador Lee Tae-ro success in his further endeavors and good health, reports the President Office of Mongolia. ^ top ^

 

Mrs. Lauranne Macherel
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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