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
  4-8.5.15, No. 571  
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Foreign Policy

Chinese gov't to carry out new round of assistance to Nepal (Xinhua)
2015-05-04
The Chinese government will carry out a new round of quake relief assistance in epidemic prevention to Nepal which is hard hit by the devastating earth quake a week ago, a Chinese official told Xinhua here Sunday.  Xu Shuqiang, in charge of Chinese national medical teams in Nepal, said the new round of assistance to this south Asian nation will be based on its need and China's relief experience derived by the previous natural disasters.  Up till now, a total of five Chinese national medical teams are working in Nepal, offering treatments and epidemic prevention assistance to the local victims.  The 60-member Chinese government medical team, for an example, is the first national medical team from China arrived in Nepal after the quake. It has now received more than 600 local quake- affected patients and 500 of them were hospitalized in their tent hospital.  Xu also expressed gratitude to the hard-working Chinese medical workers and promised to continue offering the high-level medical service to the local people. ^ top ^

Chinese agriculture gets full display at Milan Expo (Xinhua)
2015-05-04
Looking at the "wheat wave" inside the China Pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015, Magenson said this is an innovated architecture design with vivid dynamics, which reminds him of a visit to China years ago.  Magenson and his wife are from the United States, they came to Milan for a visit, particularly to see the world exposition here, the American told Xinhua.  To build the pavilion, Su Dan, a Chinese artist, has been traveling many times to and fro between Italy and China, tasked with the job of overseeing the first national pavilion that China has built outside its borders. It is based on the design proposal by the 48-year-old Tsinghua University scholar and his team.  "National pavilions at each world expo are the indicators of the latest development in architecture. They not only showcase one country's prowess in technology but also the evolution of its culture," said Su, the pavilion's design director.  The theme of the China Pavilion is "The Land of Hope". Surrounding the pavilion is a field of what looks like 30,000 stalks of wheat - to remind visitors of Chinese farming culture - that are actually shafts of LED lighting.  The pavilion is a perfect reflection of the Milan Expro's theme: "Feeding the Planet, Energy For Life", Su believed.  The building features many Chinese characteristics throughout its wooden structure, such as the interior bamboo roof panels. According to Su, the design concept is loosely based on I Ching, also known as The Classic of Changes or Book of Changes.  "In our building, the roof, shaped like a cresting ocean wave of opaque glass-like shingles, represents heaven, the wheat field is Earth and the exhibition that shows China's civilization is a reflection of human activity," he said.  Piero Galli, Expo Milano 2015 Event and Entertainment General Director, said that China has given an outstanding interpretation of sustainable nutrition.  "China has wanted to have a strong presence at Expo Milano 2015, not only through the China national pavilion - the second largest foreign self-built pavilion after the German one - but also with two corporate pavilions and many initiatives," he said.  Galli said the visit to China pavilion offers a "fascinating, interactive, recreational and joyful experience."  At the world expo in Milan, visitors will also learn the name "Seeds of China" from the China Corporate United Pavilion, which interprets the dream of a group of Chinese companies that seek to live the values of conservation of natural resources and food security.  In the exhibition spaces of the pavilion, the themes on display are "The Origin of Life", "The Power of Growth", "The Dream of the Seeds", "Light of Life", "Cycle of Life", "The Culinary Arts" and others, showing the path of growth and the role of the business community within the rapid development that China has enjoyed.  It is the first time that Chinese companies unite to take part in a Universal Exposition with their own pavilion.  Daniel Libeskind, the world-famous architect who has created the pavilion of Chinese real estate developer Vanke, said that China is a valuable source of inspiration.  Libeskind told Xinhua that he first of all appreciated Vanke as a company. "It is not just a company for profit, it is a company that has also an ethical and social idea, which is very important, that's why I work with Vanke," he said.  The Vanke Pavilion, he explained, is a complex idea inspired by ancient Chinese thinking and combining different elements from the Chinese philosophy and landscape to Vanke's mission and the Shitang theme, the Chinese social dining hall.  Libeskind said the pavilion, built with sustainable materials, is a celebration of Vanke and of China. "Chinese people have been called people of the dragon. I developed three-dimensional tiles that transform carbon dioxide in oxygen and self-cleaning," he said.  At the Milan Expo 2015, the three different China-related pavilions are separate but interconnected with each another, like three Chinese name cards for visitors from all over of the world. ^ top ^

Top political advisor supports proper AIIB role for Taiwan (Xinhua)
2015-05-04
Top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng on Sunday said the Chinese mainland and Taiwan should discuss ways for the island to participate in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).  Talks may also encompass the Belt and Road Initiative and some regional economic cooperation, in order to develop the international market and improve the competitiveness of the whole Chinese economy, he said.  Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the 10th Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum, a regular event between the mainland and Taiwan.  The two sides should insist on the peaceful development of relations by adhering to the 1992 Consensus, and oppose "Taiwan independence", said Yu, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.  "Contact and exchange between young people from both sides will help them realize their dreams," Yu said, calling for better conditions for youngsters living, studying, working or starting businesses on the other side. ^ top ^

Chinese president to visit Russia, Kazakstan, Belarus,attend WWII celebration in Moscow (Global Times)
2015-05-04
Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay a visit to Kazakstan, Russia and Belarus, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced on Monday morning.   Xi will begin his visit to Kazakstan from Thursday at the invitation of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, spokesperson Lu Kang said in a statement.   At the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Xi will visit Russia from May 8 to 10 and attend the ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War in Moscow, Lu said.   Xi will pay a state visit to Belarus from May 10 to 12 at the invitation of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Lu said. ^ top ^

Pilot to fly solar plane across half Pacific Ocean for 5 days, 5 nights (SCMP)
2015-05-03
A pilot said he is anxious but excited about flying a solar plane solo from China to Hawaii on the longest leg of the first attempt to fly around the world without a drop of fuel.  Andri Borschberg, 62, is due to fly over the Pacific Ocean for five days and five nights in the plane that has more than 17,000 solar cells on its wings to power its motors and recharge its batteries for nighttime flying.  The Solar Impulse 2 set off from Abu Dhabi in March and has stopped in Oman, India and Myanmar. Borschberg and another Swiss pilot, Bertrand Piccard, are taking turns flying the single-seater Swiss plane during a five-month journey to promote renewable energy use.  The 8,175-kilometre (5,079-mile) flight from Nanjing in eastern China to Hawaii — which may take off Thursday, depending on weather — is the seventh of 12 flights. None of the previous legs were more than 20 hours — compared with an estimated flight time of 120 hours to Hawaii.  “It's the most challenging, yes, in the sense that we never flew over the oceans,” Borschberg said in a phone interview from Nanjing. “There are of course also question marks with the type of airplane we have, is it capable to fly solo with this type of energy, and of course the challenge is on the pilot side as well... can I stay alert for this leg and be able to pilot this airplane, can I keep my energy at the right level, can I keep my spirits, my mindset to get this airplane to Hawaii.”  The aircraft will climb to the altitude of Mount Everest, almost 9,000 meters (29,500 feet), during the day to get more sunlight, recharge the batteries and store more energy. At nighttime, the plane will fly lower, at a minimum of 1,000 meters (3,000 feet). The pilot will experience temperatures ranging from 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in the morning to minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) early in the evening while the plane is still high up.  “It's winter and summer every day in the cockpit,” said Borschberg, who flew military jets for 25 years as a reserve pilot in the Swiss army and is an entrepreneur by profession.  He plans to take periods of rest of 20 minutes up to eight times a day, but said he doesn't know if the weather or turbulence will let him. Borschberg said the plane has a “virtual co-pilot” that is a stabilization tool. It will sound an alarm to wake him if the aircraft does something unplanned. The cockpit is too small to stand in, although the seat can recline into a horizontal position to allow him to lie down and practice yoga. He also plans to use breathing techniques and meditation to help him through the long journey.  He said that when flying, he focuses on how he feels as well as the situation in the air, so that the journey wasn't just about exploring how to cross the Pacific using solar energy.  “You don't have the pressure of time so with this airplane you can really live the present moment,” he said. “It's almost an inner voyage, at the end it's not so much exploring the Pacific... it's also exploring myself.”  The Si2 aircraft has a wingspan of 72 meters (236 feet), spanning larger than a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. At about 2,300 kilograms (5,000 pounds), the Si2 weighs about as much as a minivan or mid-sized truck.  After Hawaii, the plane is slated to stop in Phoenix and New York before flying over the Atlantic Ocean. It will then stop either in southern Europe or North Africa, depending on weather conditions. ^ top ^

Nearly 200 Chinese workers stranded but safe in hydropower project construction site in quake-hit Nepal (Xinhua)
2015-05-04
Nearly 200 Chinese workers are still stranded but safe in Lamabagar Area's Upper Tamakoshi hydropower project construction site in Dolakha District, Central Nepal, eight days after a powerful earthquake struck the nation.  The workers are from the Sinohydro Corporation Limited, a Chinese Company which is the contractor of civil construction works for the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Company Limited in charge of the project, Nepal officials said.  A worker from the Chinese corporation told Xinhua on Sunday that a total of 194 Chinese workers are still trapped there while 35 others had been evacuated and another five had been airlifted earlier by the Nepali army.  Meanwhile, Peng wei, economic councilor of the Chinese Embassy to Nepal, told Xinhua on Sunday that more than 100 Chinese workers are trapped in the project construction site and they are all safe there.  Secretary of the Nepal Government Gajendra Thakur who is involved in the rescue and relief operation in Dolakha District said efforts are underway to rescue and airlift the Chinese workers to Capital Kathmandu.  Ganesh Neupane, chief of the Environment Division of the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Company Limited, told Xinhua those Chinese technicians and engineers as well as 70 Nepali workers with the hydropower project were stranded in the powerhouse station after a massive landslide caused by the 7.9-magnitude earthquake blocked the 11-kilometer-long Lamabagar-Gongar stretch of the local road. "Big rocks following the landslides have blocked the road. All the Chinese and Nepali employees would be airlifted to Kathmandu after the authorities clear the road," Neupane said.  He also said that all the Chinese and Nepali nationals are safe. ^ top ^

Indian PM's Weibo debut prompts jeers ahead of first China visit (SCMP)
2015-05-05
Narendra Modi, the third-most followed world leader on Twitter, joined Weibo to a chorus of jeers before his first trip to China as India's prime minister.  “Hello China,” Modi wrote in Chinese in his first post. “Looking forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo.”  While that greeting drew more than 8,000 likes, the most popular retort, with nearly 2,000 likes, was a demand for India to drop territorial claims disputed by China and its ally Pakistan.  “The southern part of Tibet belongs to China, and Kashmir belongs to Pakistan,” wrote one user. “Mr PM please return the lands of other countries first before we start talking about how to get along well.”  While the world's two most populous countries have been locked in a dispute over their borders since China took control of Tibet in 1951, friction has arisen in recent years as China seeks to broaden its sphere of influence in the Indian Ocean region. The two neighbours fought a war in 1962.  Yet Modi and President Xi Jinping have tried to set those differences aside to boost trade. In September, they announced a five-year plan for China to invest US$20 billion to help reduce India's largest trade deficit with any single country.  Modi is expected to travel to China on a three-day visit starting May 14.  Modi had announced his victory on Twitter after he swept to power last May. Since then, he and many top officials in his government have used social media to reach out to foreign leaders, communicate with the public, and announce policy decisions.  Modi, with more than 12 million followers on Twitter, trails only US President Barack Obama and the Pope among world 8leaders. ^ top ^

China urges Philippines to stop provocation on sea disputes (Xinhua)
2015-05-05
China on Monday urged the Philippines to stop "malicious hyping and provocation" on territorial disputes in the South China Sea.  Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks while commenting media reports of the Philippine foreign ministry, which allegedly said China's construction on islands in the South China Sea after the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002 had violated the DOC.  The Philippine side also argued that it constructed airport on the Zhongye Dao before 2002.  Hua said the core reason of the two countries' disputes in the South China Sea was the Philippines' illegal occupation of some of China's islands since 1970s. The Philippine side conducted large-scale construction of military and civil facilities including airports, ports and barracks on those islands for many years.  According to Hua, the Philippines violated commitment, refused to drag away its stranded warship near the Ren'ai Reef and tried to consolidate it to seize the reef.  In 2013, the Philippines violated its commitment in the DOC and the consensus reached by the two sides by unilaterally filing an arbitration case, Hua said.  The Philippines declared to restart its illegal construction on the Zhongye Dao recently. It also hindered maritime cooperation under the framework of the DOC, disturb the situation in the South China Sea, and defame China in regional and international occasions, Hua said.  "It is the Philippines who violated the DOC," she said.  China does not recognize the so-called "status quo" that some Chinese islands in the South China Sea were illegally occupied by the Philippines, Hua said, urging the country to stop construction on the islands and withdraw all people and facility.  Hua noted that China will firmly safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. Meanwhile, China has always been ready to find a solution to disputes through direct negotiation with relevant countries.  China will work with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to fully implement the DOC, strengthen maritime cooperation and promote the negotiation of a Code of Conduct (COC), she said.  "China has never, ever taken actions that may complicate and deteriorate the disputes or affect regional peace and stability," Hua noted.  She urged the Philippines to stop provocation, and work with China and most of ASEAN members to jointly maintain the peace and stability in the South China Sea. ^ top ^

China protests U.S. blacklisting in religious freedom (Xinhua)
2015-05-05
China on Monday lodged a protest against U.S. federal advisory body labeling China as a "country of particular concern" on a religious affairs blacklist.  The call came after the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its annual report published Thursday that China is a "country of particular concern", a ranking that also includes Vietnam, Myanmar and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  "The report is full of political bias and groundless accusation, which China strongly opposes," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing.  "China has already protested to the U.S., requiring the U.S. to stop interfering in China's internal affairs under the pretext of religion," she said.  Hua reiterated that the Chinese government respects and protects its citizens' full religious freedom. ^ top ^

Chinese premier vows more int'l public health cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-05-05
Premier Li Keqiang on Monday vowed that China will cooperate more with the international community in infectious disease prevention and control, as he met with the leaders of two major public health organizations.   Li met with Michel Sidibe, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.   Li said the Chinese government attaches high importance to HIV/AIDS prevention and control and is increasing expenditure in this area.   He said the central government will sponsor the establishment of an HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention fund, in which social organizations will participate.   The government will encourage more social organizations to take part in prevention work, he said, expressing hope that UN institutions can give more support in capital, technology, information and scientific research to help China build capacity to fight infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS.   The premier also called for more support for China's cooperation with African countries in medicine research and production.   Sidibe and Dybul spoke highly of the measures China has taken in HIV/AIDS prevention and thanked China for its contribution to the fight against the ebola epidemic. ^ top ^

Premier Li backs bigger UN global role (Xinhua)
2015-05-05
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has backed the United Nations playing a bigger role in international affairs as the 70th anniversary of the organization draws near.  The international community should take the anniversary as an opportunity to review history, look into the future, and abide by the rules and principles of the UN Charter, said Li in a Monday meeting with Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  He said China was ready to work with other countries, on the basis of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to map out a blueprint for the world's development in the coming 15 years, reduce poverty and cope with global challenges such as climate change.  Li said he hoped the UNDP could continue to promote global balance and sustainable development.  China, a founding member of the UN and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, will work with other countries to contribute to global peace and development, and the establishment of a new mode of international relations featuring cooperation and reciprocity, according to Li.  Clark spoke positively of China's achievements in realizing the MDGs. She also thanked China for its support to the UNDP and voiced willingness for more cooperation in poverty reduction and sustainable development. ^ top ^

Communist Party of China embraces virtues of religion in diplomacy (Global Times)
2015-05-05
In March last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping stood in the offices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, and extolled the profound impact Buddhism has had on China.   "Buddhism originated in ancient India," said Xi, the leader of the officially atheist Communist Party of China. "After it was introduced into China, the religion went through an extended period of integrated development with the indigenous Confucianism and Taoism and finally became the Buddhism with Chinese characteristics, thus making a deep impact on the religious belief, philosophy, literature, art, etiquette and customs of the Chinese people."  This is the first time that a Chinese president gave this kind of public speech, and is a sign of a sea change in the way the Party is talking about the role that religion plays in society.  Religion, once derided as the "opium of the people," was marginalized in China's political and social arenas after 1949. During the chaos of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), many houses of worship were turned into animal stables or destroyed, and clergymen were forced to work in the fields. China's treatment of religious followers has been a constant irritant in its relations with other countries.  However, China's stance toward religion is pivoting as it seeks to increase its influence in the region. For the first time, Communist Party leaders are discussing China's religious heritage and tolerance toward different religious groups, hoping to project a harmonious, accepting image as the country seeks to increase its influence with its religious neighbors.    On television and in statements from officials, government slogans and religious sentiments are starting to blend. Religion is becoming the glue that can help bond the region under the Chinese dream.   Thorn in its side : Religion has often been a headache for China's diplomats. Western countries frequently accuse China of violating the human right of religious freedom.   "Religion used to be a troublesome issue for China's diplomacy. The UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva (now the Human Rights Council) witnessed fierce battles between China and Western countries regarding religious freedom and human rights," said an official at the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council.  But now China's diplomats are regarding religion not as a negative, but an asset that can enhance relations with neighbors. Xi, for example, has attached great importance to it in his recent diplomatic initiatives.  China is currently investing billions of dollars into the "One Belt, One Road" initiative that seeks to bring Southeast, South and Central Asia and Eastern Europe together with roads, rails, ports and economic ties.  In July, Xi visited South Korea where he praised Kim Gyo-gak, an ancient Korean prince who practiced Buddhism for 75 years in China. In September he visited Sri Lanka and spoke of the thousand-year tie that Buddhism has created between the two countries.  In India, his visit was highlighted when he arrived in Gujarat, the place that the famous Chinese monk Xuanzang traveled to during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).  Explaining Xi's motivation, Xu Liping, the director of the Asia Pacific Society and Culture Research Office at the China Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times, "Today cooperation with developing countries is difficult due to the lack of trust, because they do not share the same values and have no spiritual communication."  But religion can act as a bridge connecting people's spirits. Religion will play a more and more important role in diplomacy, he said […]. ^ top ^

Sino-British ties and the UK's general election (SCMP)
2015-05-06
No matter who wins Thursday's fiercely contested general election in Britain, Sino-British relations will remain stable and shift only at the margins, if at all.  That was the assessment of various analysts as British voters prepared to cast their ballots in a race that was looking increasingly likely to result in a hung parliament.  Beijing would be at ease irrespective of the outcome because Sino-British ties were based more on economic considerations rather than political calculations, with the major parties in Britain acutely aware of the importance of the China market, analysts said.  Ding Chun, director of the Centre for European Studies at Fudan University, said that in terms of policy towards China, it made almost no difference if the Conservatives or the Labour Party formed the next government. "There will not be any substantial change in the current British policy towards China," Ding said.  He said the new government would follow precedent in seeking to improve economic ties with China.  "So there is not much for the Chinese government to worry about," he said.  "The foreign policies [of the major parties], including those dealing with China, will be more or less the same."  Kerry Brown, director of the University of Sydney's China Studies Centre, agreed that a change in government in London would have little immediate impact on China.  British political parties were relatively bipartisan on China policy, Brown said, with Prime Minister David Cameron following in the footsteps of former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. "Britain's influence on China declines by the day. Policy will continue to be driven by economic self-interest with the occasional hollow gestures over Hong Kong which will not be backed up by meaningful direct political action simply because there is nothing Britain can do," Kerry Brown said.  "Labour tends to be even less assertive on human rights issues than the Conservatives. A coalition government for its own internal stability will therefore be even more likely to follow the tried-and-tested track of economic collaboration, attracting Chinese investment, getting Chinese students and having more tourists to come spend their money."  That view was echoed by Zhao Chen, deputy chief of the department of European politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.  Zhao said the Conservatives and Labour were consistent in how much they valued the Chinese market but there could be "some small changes in Labour's China policy on the environmental front".  Zhao said the latest polls pointed to a hung parliament, with neither major party appearing to have the numbers to govern on its own.  The election may be coming down to the wire in Britain but in China the race has caused hardly a murmur, with almost no one paying attention to the contest.  A search of microblogs and other online social networking forums yielded no group chats about the election, a sharp contrast to the lively online debates already generated by the upcoming presidential polls in Taiwan or the United States, which are still months away.  There is also little coverage of the election in Chinese media and the few reports there are have been written by academics or experts in British or European relations.  Analysts said the near-silence on the issue showed that the focus of the central government's European policy was elsewhere - in Germany and France. Sino-British relations also went through a rough patch when Cameron met the Dalai Lama in 2012, and last year when Britain sought to intervene in Hong Kong affairs.  "But with Britain leading other European nations in joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the central government is expected to pay more attention to Britain," Zhao said.  Zhao also said Beijing used to see London as a bridgehead for the European market but China's development of ties with individual European countries meant that was no longer the case. Nevertheless, London's role as an international financial centre would be of greater interest to China as Beijing expands its global activities. "It means that in addition to Germany and France, Beijing will further improve its cooperation with Britain." ^ top ^

China and EU aim to deepen cooperation over international security (SCMP)
2015-05-06
The European Union and China on Tuesday expressed a desire to deepen cooperation on international security, diplomacy and climate change, though human rights appeared to remain a sensitive issue.  EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and China's top foreign policy official Yang Jiechi held talks in Beijing as part of a regular strategic dialogue in which the two sides exchange views and develop political and economic relations.  Mogherini, leading the EU side in the two-day discussions for the first time, said much of her talks with Yang had covered international hotspot issues such as Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Iran.  The two sides discussed “possibilities of strengthening our cooperation on security and defence”, Mogherini said at a joint press appearance, citing what she described as their “extremely successful” anti-piracy cooperation in the Gulf of Aden.  “We also discussed the situation in Iraq and Syria, briefly, and Libya where the European Union and China share common interests and where our joint efforts could make a real difference,” she said.  Yang said that the two sides “agreed to step up communication and coordination” on key global issues, such as Iran, where Beijing participated in negotiations with Tehran aimed at containing its nuclear programme as part of the so-called P5+1 – Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany.  Mogherini was full of praise for China's contribution, thanking it for what she called its “precious role” in the negotiations.  Human rights, however, appeared awkward to address.  Mogherini said that she and Yang would continue talks after the press appearance – at which neither took questions – and stressed that “internal developments” in the EU and China would be discussed.  She expected there would be “constructive exchange on human rights issues as well on the importance of fostering dialogue with and between different ethnic groups” as well as discussions on “civil society”– all sensitive topics for China.  Yang made no mention of human rights, but suggested that there were areas where they were bound to disagree.  “Given the breadth and depth of our relationship it would be unlikely for our two sides to see eye to eye on everything,” he said, adding that provided there was “mutual respect” differences could be “properly” resolved.  Human Rights Watch last week urged Mogherini to “express publicly and privately to senior Chinese leaders the EU's concerns about the deteriorating human rights environment” in the country.  It cited abuses of government critics, activists, lawyers, journalists and academics, including imprisoned 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and ethnic Uygur economist Ilham Tohti, who is serving a life sentence after being convicted of separatism.  The US-based International Campaign for Tibet also called for what it described as the “worsening human rights situation” in the Himalayan region to be raised.  Mogherini said that she and Yang reiterated that the conflict in Ukraine needed to be solved diplomatically, respecting the country's “territorial integrity and independence”.  The EU is at odds with Russia over the annexation of Crimea and fighting in Ukraine, while Moscow and Beijing are drawing closer.  The latest talks come as the two sides this year mark the 40th anniversary of relations and prepare for a summit set for June in Brussels.  Relations have shown dramatic development over the decades, especially in the field of trade and commerce.  The EU is China's biggest trading partner, while China is Brussels' second-largest.  Mogherini said that China and the EU were dedicated to ensuring a crucial UN climate conference this year in Paris would be successful and felt a “common joint responsibility” toward that end.  Mogherini also brought up the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war, saying that the EU “pays tribute to the enormous sacrifices made by the Chinese people”, apparently referring to the country's massive loss of life when it was invaded and occupied by Japan in the 1930s and 1940s.  However, she also appeared to stress the need for reconciliation amid lingering regional tensions in Asia, citing Europe's post-war experience, stressing that “a common peaceful future” is “the only way to build a common respectful vision of the lessons of the past”. ^ top ^

China, EU exchange congratulations on 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties (Xinhua)
2015-05-06
Chinese President Xi Jinping and leaders of the European Union (EU) exchanged congratulatory messages Wednesday to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the EU.  In his message to European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Xi said that thanks to joint efforts from both sides, China-EU relations have made considerable progress since the establishment of diplomatic ties 40 years ago.  China and the EU have kept broadening consensus on safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, with the depth and breadth of their cooperation continuously increasing, he said, adding that the bilateral ties are of growing strategic significance and have become one of the most important relationships in the world.  It is in the interests of the two peoples for China and the EU to build a partnership of peace, growth, reform and civilization, which will also help boost peace and development for mankind, he said.  China attaches great importance to its relations with the EU and is willing to work with EU leaders and use the anniversary as an opportunity to enhance the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation, Xi added.  Tusk said in his message that over the past four decades, EU-China relations have witnessed continuous development and remarkable achievements, which have promoted peace and prosperity and boosted close exchanges between the two peoples.  He hoped that European nations and China, as well as their peoples, would continue to achieve success along the path of development for the EU-China relations, so as to lift their comprehensive strategic partnership to new heights.  Juncker said EU-China relations have achieved enormous development in such fields as politics, economy and culture, adding that the EU is committed to pushing forward its comprehensive strategic partnership with China.  The EU is looking forward to working with China to jointly promote peace, prosperity and sustainable development, so as to benefit the two sides and the whole world. ^ top ^

Top Chinese legislator meets Japanese lawmakers (Xinhua)
2015-05-06
Top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang met with a group of Japanese lawmakers from the Japan-China Friendship Parliamentarians' Union on Tuesday, calling on them to play a bigger role in mending ties.  "China expects Japan to talk and act in a responsible way and properly settle sensitive issues," Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said at the meeting.  "We expect the Japan-China Friendship Parliamentarians' Union to play a bigger role in improving ties," Zhang told Masahiko Komura, vice president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and head of the delegation.  Zhang appealed for stronger communication between legislative bodies and lawmakers so as to improve mutual understanding and expand common ground.  Komura said the Japan-China Friendship Parliamentarians' Union stands ready to make efforts to mend bilateral ties.  The cross-party group's three-day visit to Beijing came two weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on the sidelines of the Asian-African Summit in Jakarta.  "President Xi's proposal during the meeting on handling China-Japan relations is of great guiding importance to mend ties," Zhang said.  He called on both countries to take history as a mirror and look into the future, stick to the direction of peace, friendship and cooperation and to observe the four political documents reached between them in a bid to ensure the steady growth of bilateral relations.  The four documents refer to the China-Japan Joint Statement inked in 1972, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978, the China-Japan Joint Declaration of 1998 and a joint statement on advancing strategic and mutually-beneficial relations that was signed in 2008. ^ top ^

China's top political advisor pledges stronger ties with Malaysia (Xinhua)
2015-05-06
China's top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng met with Malaysian Senate President Abu Zahar in Beijing on Wednesday, vowing to boost the partnership between the two countries.  Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, on the sidelines of the 2015 Boao Forum for Asia in South China's Hainan Province in March, marked a good start for bilateral ties this year.  Calling China-Malaysia ties the best in history, Yu proposed maintaining high-level contacts, enhancing strategic trust, boosting cultural exchanges and cooperation in infrastructure.  The CPPCC highly values its relations with the Malaysian Senate, Yu said, pledging to enhance personnel exchanges and share experience in governance.  Abu Zahar said Malaysia expects to further cement win-win cooperation and people-to-people exchanges with China, in a bid to upgrade their all-round strategic partnership. ^ top ^

Chinese president's trip to fortify military ties with Russia (SCMP)
2015-05-07
China and Russia are tipped to cement military ties when President Xi Jinping visits Moscow this week, expanding their strategic partnership to form a de facto alliance.  The move would consolidate their united front as the United States and Japan continued to strengthen their partnership, observers said.  Xi is due to arrive in Moscow on Friday for a three-day trip after a stop in Kazakhstan. Among the deals expected to be signed in the Russian capital are ones on deliveries of Russian natural gas to China, aviation, and the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, a Chinese plan to boost economic and infrastructure links between Asia and Europe.  But the centrepieces of the trip will be a military parade in Moscow for the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war, and discussions on Sino-Russian military cooperation.  The defence ministry announced last week that the two nations would conduct a joint naval drill in the Mediterranean Sea this month. In all, nine vessels would be involved, including Chinese ships on anti-piracy patrols off the Somali coast.  The ministry denied the drill was aimed at any third country, but analysts said the drill and the deals were a signal to the world that Russia and China were forming a de facto alliance.  Li Lifan, from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said: "While it may be premature to say that the expansion is aimed at countering the US-Japanese alliance, the military cooperation is necessary if the two sides are to develop a full partnership."  Beijing-based retired general Xu Guangyu said China and Russia did not want to form a military alliance. Instead, they were developing their "all-round strategic partnership", which covered "political, economic, security and diplomatic" issues.  "China's arms deals with Russia and their joint naval drills in the Mediterranean Sea indicate the two countries are taking real action to implement such an all-round strategic partnership, and Western countries should get used to this intensive military cooperation," Xu said.  Anatoly Isaikin, chief executive of Russian state-run arms trader Rosoboronexport, confirmed last month that China had agreed to buy the company's S-400 air defence system, the Moscow Times reported.  While Russia needed foreign funds after the West imposed sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, China also hoped to acquire the latest weapons to match its status as a world power, Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military commentator, said.  Da Zhigang, an international relations expert at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said Xi's visit was important not only as a gauge of post-war development but also to consolidate cooperation in the de facto alliance.  "It can also help speed up economic development in Asia and Europe through the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative," Da said. ^ top ^

China, Russia boost ties with naval drill in Mediterranean Sea (Global Times)
2015-05-07
Military observers believe the first joint naval drill of Chinese and Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea suggests the two countries' determination to further strengthen their military ties amid potential international conflicts.   Analysts also see the rare Mediterranean drill in mid-May as a sign that China is fully capable and prepared to protect its commercial interests where countries in the region, such as Libya and Syria, have witnessed escalating tensions.   Since China's Defense Ministry made the announcement on April 30, the exercise has drawn intense media attention over its political and military implications.    "It is the fourth time the two countries have conducted a joint naval drill. Both China and Russia have conducted naval activities in the region. The joint drill is their latest move in strengthening naval cooperation," Zhang Junshe, a research fellow at the Chinese Naval Research Institute, told the Global Times.   A total of nine ships from the two countries will participate in the drill, including vessels China now has on anti-piracy patrols in waters off Somalia, Chinese defense ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said at a monthly news briefing.   Geng said the aim is to deepen both countries' cooperation and to increase their navies' ability to jointly deal with maritime security threats.   "We have to stress that these exercises are not aimed at any third party and have nothing to do with the regional situation," he said.   The May exercises will focus on navigation safety, at-sea replenishment, escort missions and live-fire drills, said Geng, who gave no further details.   The two countries held their first naval drill in Pacific waters in 2012.    Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, believes that the joint naval drill in May will also help to safeguard China's regional commercial interests.   "The Mediterranean Sea is an important trade route linking China with Europe. It is also one of the key regions of China's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative. China's regional naval presence will ensure its maritime safety," Li told the Global Times.   Russia has a regular naval presence in the Black Sea which discharges into the Mediterranean Sea. China's navy began expanding its reach toward the Mediterranean in 2008, when it first sent ships to join in anti-piracy patrols.  In 2011, China evacuated 35,000 citizens from Libya during its civil war, followed by another effort in 2013 when it joined Russia in sending warships to Syria to peacefully monitor developments in the region through waterways close to the Mediterranean Sea.   In April, China dispatched three navy ships from its anti-piracy patrols to evacuate Chinese citizens and other foreign nationals from fighting in Yemen.  The US has maintained a naval presence in the Mediterranean since the early 19th century, and has in recent years considered increasing its military presence in the region.   Su Hao, director of the Asia-Pacific Research Center of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that since Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Moscow from Friday to Sunday to attend a parade celebrating the end of World War II, it is important for the two major anti-fascist countries to show unity and reaffirm their military ties.   Russian President Vladimir Putin will also attend China's military parade in September to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression as well as in the World Anti-Fascist War, China News Service reported on March 20.  Meanwhile, Estonia kicked off its largest military drill on Monday, involving some 13,000 servicemen from NATO nations and their allies, including the US, the UK and Germany, with analysts believing that the drill is targeting Russia.   "China and Russia have their own strategic interests in the Mediterranean Sea. Russia's intended military presence in Europe has been restricted by NATO. Its expanding reach into the Mediterranean will in return create pressure for the US and NATO and will help Russia keep its hold of Crimea," Su said.   Russia has been subjected to economic sanctions over its position in Ukraine which Washington said is threatening its NATO allies in Eastern Europe.  Du Wenlong, a senior researcher at the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science, said the US is likely to conduct air and sea reconnaissance operations during the drill, taking advantage of its vast military presence in the region to gather intelligence on Sino-Russia military cooperation, reported ifeng.com. ^ top ^

China committed to reaching Paris climate agreement (Xinhua)
2015-05-06
China is committed to taking its responsibility to reach a binding climate agreement in Paris in late 2015, said a Chinese scholar here on Tuesday.  Zhang Shiqiu, Director of the Institute of Environment and Economy, Peking University of China, made the comments at the panel of "The Road to Paris: The EU, China and Global Climate Governance", the last part of the one-and-a-half day conference on China-EU relationship against the background of the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between the two parties.  She also stated that China insisted the "common but differentiated responsibility" (CBDR) principle, which didn't mean China use it as an excuse to escape its responsibility but pose a picture of the future international governance.  In fact, China did make strong political commitments itself and take actions to address the climate change nationwide, said Zhang.  She explained that in the year of 2007, China developed its national programs and policies for responding the climate change; in 2009, China promised in Copenhagen that it would reduce the carbon intensity from the 2005 level to 45 percent by 2020, which was an ambitious target at that time but were not equally recognized by the international society in the past.  Last year, China and the United States also issued a joint statement on climate change, in which China promised to achieve the peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030.  Moreover, China insisted that countries with more capacities should take more responsibilities, and it expected more commitments from developed countries, so as to transform the whole world into a green and low-carbon society, said Zhang.  She also urged that the key issue concerning the Paris climate agreement should not be limited to argument over the responsibilities, but to do something to fix the problem worldwide.  When talking about China and the EU's role, she said the two parties had a lot of common interests concerning about the climate change, and both cared about air pollution, environment conservation, etc.  Besides, both China and the EU hoped to increase the use of renewable energy and transform into a greener society. She stressed that there were a lot of experiences that China can learn from the EU. ^ top ^

China, EU vow to further parliamentary cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-05-07
China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang and European Parliament President Martin Schulz on Wednesday pledged to strengthen inter-parliamentary cooperation between China and the European Union (EU).  Zhang and Schulz exchanged congratulatory messages Wednesday to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the EU.  In his message, Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said the relationship between China and the EU has made substantial progress during the past 40 years and has ushered in a new period of stable and vigorous development.  The increasingly close inter-parliamentary cooperation and exchanges, an important part of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, are conducive to enhancing mutual understanding between the peoples and promoting bilateral relations, he said.  China, Zhang said, stands ready to work with the EU to lift the bilateral parliamentary cooperation to a new level so as to enhance the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.  For his part, Schulz recalled his fruitful visit to China in March, which, he said, provided an opportunity to consider further steps of deepening the inter-parliamentary relations and setting an ambitious agenda for the comprehensive strategic partnership.  The EU and China have built up truly prolific relations over the decades, he said, adding that he looked forward to the prospect of deepening global cooperation between the two sides. ^ top ^

Chinese premier meets EU foreign policy chief (Xinhua)
2015-065-07
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Beijing on Wednesday, calling on both sides to consolidate their cooperation and mutual trust through giving full play to formal dialogues.   Mogherini, vice president of the European Commission, is in Beijing for a meeting with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and activities marking the 40th anniversary of China and the EU forming ties.  Hailing the progress of China-EU relations, Li said a sound China-EU relationship is of positive influence in regional and world peace, stability and prosperity.  He called on both sides to integrate their development strategies, and to push forward their cooperation through reform.  China hopes to work with the EU to push forward bilateral investment agreement negotiations, to forge closer trade ties and jointly fight protectionism, he said.  Li also urged both sides to strengthen coordination on climate change issue.  Mogherini said the EU is paying great attention to China's reform measures, calling on both sides to take the opportunity of the 40th anniversary to cement economic cooperation and cultural exchanges.  Hailing the common interests of the EU and China, she urged both sides to jointly counter global challenges and play positive roles on the climate change issue.  She said she was looking forward to Li's visit to Brussels to attend the 17th EU-China Leaders' Meeting later this year. ^ top ^

China 'willing' to seek EU investment treaty (China Daily)
2015-05-07
Premier Li Keqiang said the economic goals of China and the European Union can dovetail naturally with a win-win strategy.  Li made the remark in Beijing during a meeting with Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy. Mogherini is also vice-president of the European Commission.  Li said in a written statement that China wants to ensure stable economic growth through reforms and opening-up. A closer relationship in trade and investment, Li said, will contribute to both sides' ability to deal with the global economic recession.  "China is willing to push forward talks for a bilateral investment treaty" built on the idea of equal treatment for investors and Chinese companies, he said, adding that a treaty would include a "negative list" - a narrow list of areas off-limits to outside investors.  Li praised the progress made in China-EU relations since the two established bilateral ties 40 years ago, saying that a well-managed relationship will have a positive impact on regional and global peace and stability.  Li also said China and the EU should communicate better on climate change and work out a sustainable path toward environmental sustainability. ^ top ^

China expects Indian PM's visit to build stronger partnership (Xinhua)
2015-05-07
China on Wednesday hoped Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first visit to the country would build trust, boost practical collaboration and promote the strategic partnership.  "We are ready to work with India, through Modi's visit, to enhance strategic trust, deepen practical cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, increase communication and coordination on major international and regional issues and make progress on building strategic partnership of cooperation oriented to peace and prosperity," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing.  The prime minister's visit, scheduled for May 14-16, will be his first trip to China since he assumed office last May.  "The visit is another important high-level interaction between the two countries following President Xi Jinping's visit to India last September," Hua said.  Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Zhang Dejiang will all meet with Modi, Hua said.  The three-day visit will take Modi to Beijing, Xi'an, an ancient city in northwest China's Shaanxi province, and Shanghai.  "As the two most populous developing countries, and as emerging economies, China-India relations have strategic significance and global impact," Hua said, highlighting the relationship was the result of gradual exploration of mutual benefit and common development, and the resolution of concerns and differences.  Hua recalled Xi's state visit to India, stressing the two leaders made plans for the development of bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation for the next five to ten years.  The two leaders agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation and build a closer partnership, Hua said.  China is India's biggest trading partner with two-way trade totalling about 65 billion U.S. dollar in 2013. ^ top ^

China and Russia: just diplomatic friends with military benefits (SCMP)
2015-05-08
China and Russia are not planning to have any formal military alliance, say military and Sino-Russian analysts, despite significant ongoing cooperation between the neighbours ahead of President Xi Jinping's three-day trip to Moscow from Friday.  The strengthening of military and diplomatic ties between Beijing and Moscow has been encouraged by their common past and present-day containment by the West, but the fallout from the Sino-Soviet split in 1969 was a reminder to officials on both sides “not to repeat any historical tragedies by forming any alliance”, said Tian Chunsheng,  an analyst at the State Council's Russian Development Research Centre.    In the late 1950s, different interpretations of Marxism led then-Chinese leader Mao Zedong and his Russian counterpart premier Nikita Khrushchev to move from being “publicly international allies” to “privately ideological enemies”.  Bilateral ties suddenly deteriorated in 1969 when Moscow withdrew all Russian financial aid and technical experts from China.  Much has changed since then but “the present intensive military cooperation between China and Russia doesn't mean they will build up, or form any official military alliance”, Tian said.  “Setting up a state organisation, such as Nato, would violate the two countries' fundamental principles,” he said.  “They do not want to repeat the painful experience of the cold war, when China was regarded as a member of the Warsaw Pact [a defensive treaty agreed by European communist states] led by the former Soviet Union.  “Both Beijing and Moscow suffered a lot because of the ups and downs in their bilateral relationship during the 1960s and 1990s.”  Even though the two countries are forging closer ties – they will stage a joint naval drill in the Mediterranean Sea this month and have signed arms deals – the joint efforts are founded on mutual dismay at the actions of the United States, rather than a shared desire for an alliance, analysts say.  Beijing has been rankled by Washington's presence in Asia, while Moscow has been angered by US-led sanctions in response to its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.  Antony Wong Dong, a Macau-based military observer, said Beijing and Moscow would simply try to maintain a “collaborative relationship” amid the containment efforts of the US and its allies.  “Beijing and Moscow remain friends because so far they have had no reason to break their ties in the face of all the actions of the Western allies,” Wong said.  China and Russia are expected to sign deals on energy, infrastructure and military cooperation during Xi's visit.  Sino-Russia relations are at their warmest since the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991, with Beijing and Moscow reaching agreement in the past year on three of the largest arms deals for more than a decade, including the purchase of 24 Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters, six S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, and the Kremlin's promise to develop a fifth-generation Kalina-class conventional submarine for the People's Liberation Army navy.  “All the weapons Russia is going to sell to China are the most advanced arms used by the Russian army, indicating the close relationship between the two countries,” Beijing-based retired PLA major general Xu Guangyu  said.  “The Su-35, the Russian air force's latest generation multirole fighter jet, is scheduled to be delivered to China from 2017, while the sale of S-400 missile systems also includes the provision of electronic communication software technologies.”  Negotiations over the arms deals have gone on for years, but were finalised after Xi came to power.  Instead of providing the PLA with older Lada-class submarines,  as Beijing had requested, Russian President Vladimir Putin  was likely to authorise China to receive the more advanced Kalina-class submarines,  Vassily Kashin,  a senior research fellow at the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies,  was quoted as saying in March by Radio Sputnik, the Russian government's official radio news service.  The Kalina-class contractor reported that Russia's most advanced conventional submarine was equipped with an air-independent propulsion system that allowed the vessel to operate underwater for much longer periods and be more difficult to detect. ^ top ^

China, Kazakhstan to align development strategies for common prosperity (Xinhua)
2015-05-08
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev agreed here on Thursday that the two countries will align their development strategies in pursuit of common prosperity.  "We are ready to align the (China-proposed) Silk Road Economic Belt initiative to Kazakhstan's new economic policy of the Bright Road, so as to achieve common development and prosperity on the basis of equality and reciprocity," Xi said during the talks.  The Chinese president, along with his wife Peng Liyuan, arrived in Astana Thursday afternoon for a visit to Kazakhstan.  It was the first leg of his second overseas tour this year, which will also take him to Russia and Belarus.  Recalling his first visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013 when he raised the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, Xi said the Chinese side thought highly of the early harvest of the cooperation between the two countries on building the economic belt.  He said China and Kazakhstan should continue to boost cooperation on infrastructure, energy, finance, security, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges.  Echoing Xi, Nazarbayev said Kazakhstan backs China's initiative and stands ready to be an important partner of China to build the Silk Road Economic Belt.  Kazakhstan will work with China to link the Bright Road strategy to the building of the Belt, and cooperate with the Chinese side on trade, industrial capacity, energy and technology, Nazarbayev said.  During the talks, Xi congratulated Nazarbayev on his re-election as Kazakh president.  Nazarbayev won the election on April 26, garnering more than 97.7 percent of the votes.   Hailing the fast development of the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership over the past years, Xi said China attaches great importance to its ties with Kazakhstan and is ready to work with the Kazakh side to elevate economic, security and people-to-people cooperation bilaterally, and strengthen coordination in international and regional affairs.  The Chinese president also voiced China's support for Kazakhstan's bid to host EXPO-2017, which will focus on the theme "Future Energy."  Xi said China pays much attention to the work as chair of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), and will work together with Kazakhstan and other countries concerned to make the conference an efficient platform for promoting consensus, unity and mutual trust among Asian countries.  China's presidency will last till May 2016.  Nazarbayev said Kazakhstan is firmly committed to the friendship with China and will deepen cooperation with China in various fields.  He said the Kazakh side supports Xi's proposal of building a community of common destiny in Asia, which is in line with the historical trend as well as in the interests of countries in the region.  Kazakhstan is ready to work more closely with China under the framework of the CICA and that of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Nazarbayev said.  During the talks, the two presidents also discussed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the situation in Central Asia, among others.  Before the talks, Nazarbayev held a red-carpet ceremony to welcome the Chinese president at the presidential palace in Astana. ^ top ^

CPC discipline chief meets U.S. bi-party delegation (Xinhua)
2015-05-08
Communist Party of China (CPC) discipline chief Wang Qishan on Thursday met with a U.S. delegation of Democratic Party and Republican Party members.  Former U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk, and former chief of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs James Nicholson, are leading the delegation.  Wang, secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said the presidents of China and the United States had charted the waters for the building of a new-type of relations between major powers.  It is important for the two countries to maintain close contact in various sectors and enhance mutual understanding, said Wang, also member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.  With their unique national conditions, China and the United States need to have a good understanding of each other before they explore the path ahead, Wang said.  Wang said an essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the CPC's leadership role.  "Without understanding the CPC, it would be impossible to get along with China," Wang said.  The CPC is leading the people toward the building of a moderately prosperous society. Such a historic task would not be achieved if the CPC was poorly organized and undisciplined, Wang said, stressing the importance of continuing to strengthen CPC discipline.  Labelling the fight against corruption as a worldwide consensus, Wang called on both nations to seek common ground and deepen cooperation.  Kirk and Nicholson voiced their commitment to strengthening party-to-party exchanges with the CPC and deepening U.S. collaboration with China.  The U.S. bi-party delegation came to Beijing for the eighth U.S.-China High Level Political Party Leaders Dialogue, which took place on Wednesday. ^ top ^

Chinese president visits Kazakhstan to boost cooperation along ancient trade route (Xinhua)
2015-05-08
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived here Thursday for a visit to Kazakhstan, his second to the Central Asian country since he took office in March 2013.  Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, were greeted by Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov and First Deputy Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev at the airport in Astana.  The Chinese president paid his first visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013 and it was in this country that he raised the initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt.  Aidar Amrebayev, head of the Institute for World Economy and Politics under the Foundation of First President of Kazakhstan, said the initiative will bring opportunities to the country and serve as a positive factor in maintaining regional stability.  The Central Asian country, which is facing economic difficulties amid a challenging global economy, has a strong desire to strengthen trade and industrial capacity cooperation with China, the world's manufacturing power.P In late 2014, China and Kazakhstan reached preliminary consensus on industrial capacity cooperation worth more than 14 billion U.S. dollars.  The framework deal, inked during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to the country, covered infrastructure, highway and housing construction.  In March this year, the two countries signed 33 deals on industrial capacity cooperation worth 23.6 billion dollars during Masimov's China visit, covering steel, non-ferrous metals, sheet glass, oil refining, hydropower and automobiles.  With concerted efforts of the two countries, the comprehensive strategic partnership has developed rapidly since Xi's visit and new vitality has been injected into the traditional friendship.  After Kazakhstan, Xi will travel to Russia to attend the ceremony on May 9 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War in Moscow.  Then, he will pay a state visit to Belarus from May 10 to 12 at the invitation of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Chinese police shoot man dead at railway station (SCMP)
2015-05-03
Chinese police shot dead a man at a railway station in the country's north-eastern Heilongjiang province on Saturday, saying that he was threatening public security and assaulting police, the official Xinhua news agency reported.  Public sensitivity to security at China's railway stations has heightened following a series of incidents including a mass stabbing at a train station last March in the south-western city of Kunming that left 31 dead. Authorities said that was carried out by separatist militants from the western region of Xinjiang.  Citing a spokesman from the Harbin railway police authority, Xinhua said on Saturday that a middle-aged man forcibly prevented passengers passing through the security gate at Qing'an Railway Station in Suihua City at midday.  When a patrolling policeman tried to stop him, the man picked up a child and threw him at the police, Xinhua said. The man also tried to grab the policeman's gun and club, and the police opened fire to keep passengers safe, it added.  No passengers were injured and the suspect, whose identity has not been confirmed, died in the incident, the spokesman said. He said police were still investigating the case.  Violent crime is rare in China compared with many other countries, but there have been a series of knife attacks in recent years, many on school children.  In March this year, knife-wielding attackers slashed and stabbed people at a railway station in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, wounding at least nine before police shot dead one of the suspected assailants and arrested another. ^ top ^

China teaches top cadres Western ideas despite backlash (SCMP)
2015-05-04
Cadres make their way down tree-lined paths, through a polished lobby, down dim hallways and settle themselves in rows in plain, wood-panelled classrooms. Here, they sit at the vanguard of the Communist Party.  These rising party members have come to the China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong (CELAP) in Shanghai as part of the party's decade-long effort to introduce its elite to foreign ideas. Outside these walls, President Xi Jinping's government is scrubbing Western influence from classrooms, but here some 10,000 party loyalists each year hear from top Western scholars about management techniques, media relations, development and innovation.  “It does no harm for top leaders to get to know different ideas in the world,” said Zhang Xuezhong, who was barred from teaching at East China University of Political Science and Law in 2013, after publishing an article critical of the government. “The Communist Party expects the people it rules to be ignorant, but they would not expect themselves to be like this.”  As the country seeks to play a more decisive role on the global stage, such exposure is becoming more important – at least for those at the forefront of transforming China's economy and international role. For everyone else, education has become an ideological battleground, where destabilising Western values must be vanquished.  “Young teachers and students are key targets of infiltration by enemy forces,” Education Minister Yuan Guiren wrote in a January essay. Around the same time, he told university officials to bar “teaching materials that disseminate Western values”.  His remarks came shortly after Beijing ordered universities to promote loyalty to the party, core socialist values, and the teachings of Xi himself.  Meanwhile, Westerners continue to march through CELAP, bringing with them an uncontrollable parade of ideas.  More than 470 government leaders, business executives and academics from over 30 countries have taught at CELAP, which says it has partnered with Harvard Business School, the Wharton School, Columbia Business School, Oxford University and Berkeley's Haas School of Business.  Former prime ministers Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, Julia Gillard of Australia and the late Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore have visited. Former World Bank President Robert Zoellick and former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson have given lectures. The school also has tie-ups with IBM China and Procter & Gamble China.  “It's a very unusual institution in China,” said Oxford University's Nicholas Morris, who has taught at CELAP for a decade. “This institution's job is to help Chinese leaders understand Western practice.”  Shanghai has long been China's window on the world – the leafy streets of its old French concession strike some Chinese visitors as “exotic” – and the cadre academy in Shanghai's new Pudong area was founded to focus on innovation, reform and management. The place reeks of exceptionalism. There is the soaring French architecture. The fleet of chefs and long reflective pools. There's even a huddle of swans on a pond ringed with weeping willows.  Located near the intersection of “Splendid” and “Career” streets, the school takes up to 800 cadres for one to three-week courses. Thousands of party schools across China form an important network for maintaining control over the party's more than 86 million members, improving governance and incubating new ideas, according to China historian David Shambaugh. It was one of three academies founded in 2005 to train top cadres. Since then, it has hosted over 100,000 students.  President Xi, in a 2010 address, tasked CELAP with being “more innovative in helping participants develop a global perspective and enhancing their governing capacity”.  “We should understand the outside world,” said Chen Yili, a school spokeswoman. “China understands that ideas from the outside may not suit China, but we need to take the ideas that work for China.”  Foreigners teach 12 per cent of the classes. Lectures on media relations and financial reform are tempered by exercises in the “party-building lab”.  The deeper goal, some argue, is to help top cadres strike the balance between worldliness and ideological purity in China's shifting political environment.  “These cadres who have to mingle daily with foreign business people are treading a fine line,” said Willy Lam, an expert in Chinese politics at Hong Kong's Chinese University. “They have a mandate to study and benefit from Western management, but at the same time, they must satisfy Xi's demands on nationalism.”  “China is going to play a much bigger role in trying to transform the international financial order,” said Willy Lam, an expert in Chinese politics at Hong Kong's Chinese University. “Before you can transform the international financial order in line with Chinese priorities, you must learn the ropes.”  CELAP is not the only place where party orthodoxy gets salted with new ideas. Even within the ideological strictures of other party schools, human curiosity thrived, said Xia Yeliang, an economics professor who was dismissed from Peking University in 2013 after criticising the government. The school's official reason for his termination was poor student evaluations.  He began giving occasional lectures on constitutional democracy and Western rule of law at a party school in Beijing in 2008, even though he quit the party. by ending his payment of dues, which were about 5 per cent of his salary. “They never asked me if I'm a party member,” he said. “What I taught was quite against their traditional values, but they still kept inviting me.” he said.  He said many of his students yearned for fresh ideas to help explain China's path and new answers to restive questions about traditional Marxism and socialism.  “They need a new wrapping for their officials,” he said. “They need to be able to tell people we have learned new things, we know what America is like, we will see what is most suitable for the Chinese people.”  Last month, a US delegation came to CELAP to discuss clean energy innovation.  Officials from state-owned enterprises, banks and insurance companies packed the audience. You Xiang, president of Jiaozuo City Commercial Bank in Henan, said CELAP gave those on the front lines of China's globalisation invaluable insight.  “We are in the midst of a great change in China,” he said. “China's financial system is being integrated with the world. As someone who will be involved in pushing this integration and helping China work with America, I feel this experience will help us.”  You listened to Hugh Martin, a serial entrepreneur, talk about working with Steve Jobs at Apple.  “China could be as much or more of a powerhouse as Silicon Valley,” Martin said. “But there needs to be a freedom to create without regard for implications.” ^ top ^

President Xi Jinping's corruption crackdown linked to officials' suicides (SCMP)
2015-05-04
Reports of a third Chinese official committing suicide last month - following news that four other officials killed themselves in March - have caused a stir among users of mainland social media.  On Thursday morning Chen Tianhong, the head of a town in Jiangsu province, jumped to his death from the 21st floor of the government building.  Family members said Chen, 34, was emotionally unstable at the time of his death after suffering from serious insomnia, the Xinhua news agency reported.  His death was the third suicide of an official to be reported by Chinese media last month, after the division head of the public security bureau of Mudanjiang city, in northeastern Heilongjiang province, hanged himself on Friday last week and the Communist party chief of Yizhou city, in southern Guangxi province, leapt to his death last Tuesday.  In March, four officials jumped to their deaths on three consecutive days.  Some internet users questioned what had gone wrong with mainland officials, with many suggesting the deaths could be linked to the crackdown on corruption launched by President Xi Jinping after he came to power in November 2012.  The number of suicides recorded by officials has risen sharply in recent years, which analysts said was inevitably linked to Xi's anti-graft campaign. More than 100 "tigers" - corrupt senior officials - and many low-level cadres "flies" have been purged.  Between 2003 and 2012, the suicides of 112 officials were reported by mainland media, said an academic paper written about the phenomenon by Qi Xingfa, a politics professor at Shanghai's East China Normal University.  The number of "irregular deaths" among cadres reached 54 between January 2013 and April 2014, of which 23 were confirmed as suicides by authorities, the China Youth Daily  reported.  Last year the website of the People's Tribune, a magazine published by the Communist Party newspaper, People's Daily, reported that 36 officials had committed suicide. The Knowlesys online public opinion monitoring service put the number at 72 after counting cases that had appeared in media reports.  Little information about the reason for the suicides has been made public. But in those cases that authorities offered a brief explanation, "depression" was the most common cause of people taking their own lives.  Zhu Lijia, a public policy professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the increase in the number of cases of suicide was "directly related" to the crackdown on corruption.  "As the anti-graft campaign widens, and public participation in reporting corrupt officials increases, such officials are under huge mental stress," Zhu told the South China Morning Post.  "Although not all officials who committed suicides were related to corruption, the pressure from the anti-graft campaign did partially cause mental stress and depression among officials."  The rise in suicides among cadres since the crackdown had led the party to launch a national survey to find out how many members had killed themselves, the Financial Times reported.  Chinese law has also contributed to the rise in suicides among cadres, Qi said in his paper. Under the Criminal Procedure Law of China, suspects and defendants will no longer be held criminally liable after they die. Those already prosecuted will have their case withdrawn or be declared innocent. "This provision has led to officials using suicide as an effective way to protect families and others," Qi said. ^ top ^

New regulations to target misbehavior by Chinese tourists (Global Times)
2015-05-04
Chinese travel agencies have been granted the right to report improperly-behaved tourists, part of efforts to promote civilized tourism, in a new regulation issued by China National Tourism Administration (NTA).  According to the regulation, which came into effect Friday, at the start of the Labor Day holiday, tour guides and leaders should report tourists' bad behavior to authorities. The behaviors, if verified, will be entered into the tourists' records.    According to another regulation released on April 6, tourists will be blacklisted for uncivilized behavior such as antisocial behavior on public transport, damaging private or public property, disrespecting local customs, breaking cultural relics and historical sites or engaging in gambling or pornographic activities.  The record will be kept for one to two years, and authorities will have the right to report misbehavior to public security, customs or transport authorities, as well as the central bank's individual credit department.   The latest regulation comes amid growing criticism over tourists' ill manners both at home and abroad, and resulting damage to China's national image.   The regulations also stipulates that tour guides can cease providing services to tourists who violate laws or social morals, adding that the tour guides should also remind tourists of civilized behaviors, including those related to the use of toilets.   "I will shoulder those responsibilities to help build a good image for Chinese tourists. I believe that the situation will get better if the regulation is well implemented and tourists on blacklist really face harsh punishment," a Chengdu-based outbound tour guide surnamed Zhang told the Global Times.   Zhang said that the way to solve the problem lies in education, as "those badly-behaved tourists, mostly middle and elderly-aged people, cannot avoid bad behavior because of poor education and deep-rooted habits, although they know not to defame the country's image."  Conflicts between tourists and tour guides are an enduring issue. Many tourists have complained of travel agencies operating illegally and forcing them to purchase souvenirs.   A female tour guide from Kunming, Yunnan Province is likely to have her license revoked after she was exposed as having abused tourists, local authorities said on Sunday.  The travel agency where she works will also  face a penalty of 20,000 yuan ($3,224), China Central Television reported. ^ top ^

19 top SOE managers held in probe (China Daily)
2015-05-05
Dozens of senior executives in State-owned enterprises have been investigated on corruption charges in the first round of an inspection this year by the country's top anti-graft authority.  The Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection held 19 top managers from SOEs during its first disciplinary tour from late February to the end of April.  Thirteen teams were sent to the giant corporations, with each team reviewing two companies, including China National Petroleum Corp, China National Offshore Oil Corp, China Huaneng Group, State Grid Corp of China and China Mobile Communications Corp.  The number of enterprises under scrutiny was almost double that of previous inspections. Last year, such inspections investigated more than 70 executives. Companies in the oil and refinery sector are among those hardest-hit since the anti-corruption inspections intensified in SOEs with five top managers held from the three largest oil enterprises in China.  Liao Yongyuan, vice chairman of PetroChina Ltd and general manager of its parent company, CNPC, was placed under investigation on March 16 on suspicion of committing "serious violations of the law".  In addition to Liao, a 30-year-veteran and the key figure in oil exploration in Tarim Oilfield, An Wenhua, deputy general manager of PetroChina Tarim Oilfield Company, and Jia Dong, the oil field's chief accountant, also were placed under investigation in March.  Prior to the inspection, Wang Lixin, head of the conglomerate's disciplinary department, was investigated on suspicion of corruption in December.  About 50 executives have been held for investigation since CNPC was probed by the anti-graft authority in the middle of 2012.  Jiang Jiemin, a former regulator of State-owned assets who was investigated in September 2013, was head of the corporation.  Zhou Yongkang, China's former security chief, his predecessor at the corporation, also was placed under investigation.  Of the 19 top managers held in the latest round, seven were executives in SOEs in the electric power sector and four in the telecommunication sector.  The SOEs saw their profits rise by 3.4 percent last year to about 2.48 trillion yuan ($40 billion), but their debts increased by 12.2 percent to 6.66 trillion yuan, according to the Ministry of Finance.  A far-reaching plan to merge SOEs made news this week.  The number of major SOEs will reportedly be reduced from 112 to around 40. However, no timeline or details about specific mergers were released. ^ top ^

China scraps price caps for most drugs (SCMP)
2015-05-06
The central government will scrap price caps for most medicines from next month in a bid to cut official intervention and allow the market to play a bigger role in the sector.  The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement released yesterday that price caps would disappear on all drugs except anesthetics and some types of psychiatric medications.  The commission also pledged to keep a close eye on the market for disruptive practices such as price-fixing to ensure prices remained stable after the new rule took effect.  "From June 1, government-set prices on most drugs will be cancelled to improve purchasing mechanisms for drugs, control medical insurance costs and allow the price of medicines to be set by the market," the statement said.  A separate statement posted on the NDRC's website said the time was "ripe" for China to lift government controls on drug prices.  An unnamed commission spokesperson said the state-run tendering process for medication and national medical insurance spending limits meant the change would not result in big price increases for most drugs.  The national medical insurance system covers about 2,000 types of drugs, according to Xinhua.  A "transparent" system would be put in place to negotiate prices for about 200 types of patented drugs sold in China.  Chang Feng, head of China Medical University's medicine price research institute, said scrapping the caps would "unleash the power of the market in drug pricing", allowing the government to be a watchdog instead of a price-setter, Xinhua reported.  Most medication on the mainland is distributed through hospitals, with only a small fraction sold through independent pharmacies. The government has long kept a tight grip on drug prices to ensure medical costs remain affordable.  But some drug makers have sacrificed quality in the rush to keep prices low. In 2012, state media revealed that several commonly used drugs were packed into capsules made from industrial gelatin and had excessive amounts of chromium.  Price caps were lifted on a limited number of drugs in April last year after criticism that official controls had caused shortages of some critical medications used to treat millions of patients for hyperthyroidism and other ailments.  The central government has vowed to further relax price controls in many sectors to let the market play a bigger role.  The share price of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges dropped by 1.8 per cent on average yesterday. ^ top ^

Government lifts price controls on medicines (Global Times)
2015-05-06
China will remove price controls on most medicines starting June 1, the country's economic planner said on Tuesday, while assuring the public against a price spike. Medical observers said they believe that removing price caps was aimed at lowering medicine prices. But they said the government has to come up with more support measures to achieve that.   Medicine prices will be market driven after the government lifts price controls, which means prices will be determined by the law of supply and demand, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in an online notice.  The price reform will affect all drugs except for narcotics and some mental health drugs, the NDRC said. Market forces in the long run could result in more reasonable medicine prices, Cao Yang, an economics professor at the China Pharmaceutical University, told the Global Times.   The current prices are set by the government based on the costs reported by pharmaceutical companies, but one big problem is that the manufacturers inflate their costs in the report, which results in higher prices, Cao said.  Chinese patients have been complaining about steep medicine prices for some time. A survey on people's satisfaction with hospitals by the Guangdong Modern Social Survey and Evaluation Research Institute in January found that only 28 percent of 3,757 respondents were satisfied with hospital service, with most distraught by the high cost of medicines, according to the Yangcheng Evening News.   The new move will help low-cost medicines return to the market, Tang Zuxuan, a deputy of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) and director of the Dengzhou Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Henan Province, told the Global Times.  "Most of the low-cost medicines have been squeezed out of the market as the prices were set too low, and the manufacturers decided to halt their production, but they have a similar effect as some higher-priced medicines," Tang said.  There are over 8,000 licensed drugs in China, but only 2,000 of them are sold every year, according to the Xinhua News Agency.   The country has removed price caps on over 700 low-cost medicines last year.   Inadequate supervision over manufacturers has led to high prices. Those prices may further increase if the government fails to properly supervise them after price controls are lifted, Tang said.   Chinese authorities began imposing price controls on medicines in 2000 to cope with the health insurance system and market, but they failed to reflect true market prices, the notice said.   A marketing manager of a Jiangxi-based drug company who sought anonymity said that many manufacturers hailed the move, as the price controls had forced some manufacturers to use low-quality ingredients in the production.   "To lower prices, the government also has to simplify the medicine supply chain and break the practice of hospitals profiting from drug sales," Dong Keyong, dean of the public administration and policy school of the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times.   Some doctors demand a commission from drug companies when they purchase medicines, which in turn raises retail prices, according to Dong.   Currently, about 80 percent of the medicines in China are sold through hospitals.   Some cities have started to remove the price caps since last year. Liaoning Province lifted price controls on 533 medicines, including 283 Western medicines and 250 Traditional Chinese Medicines in May 2014.  Lifting price controls on medicines does not mean that the government will stop monitoring prices. But the government's key function will shift from setting prices to supervision, the NDRC said.   Premier Li Keqiang vowed that China will lift pricing controls over all goods and services that can viably compete in markets this year, including stopping setting prices for most pharmaceuticals, in the government work report delivered at the 12th National People's Congress in March, Xinhua reported. ^ top ^

Crack international law team to join in China's hunt for fugitives (SCMP)
2015-05-06
Beijing is building a team of experts on international law to help repatriate fugitives abroad and tackle its territorial disputes with neighbouring countries.  The foreign ministry established an international law committee earlier this year, emphasising Beijing's hopes of advancing its interests through treaties and legal provisions, the  South China Morning Post has learned.  The committee comprises 15 scholars and experts. These include: Shi Jiuyong, a former judge at the International Court of Justice; Rao Geping, a law professor at Peking University; Huang Jin, president of the China University of Political Science and Law; and Liu Nanlai, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.  Observers said China urgently needed to improve its study of international law as Beijing stepped up its anti-corruption campaign by targeting fugitives abroad.  Beijing released a list of 100 fugitives suspected of corruption last month - most of whom had fled to the United States, Canada and Australia.  China wants these nations to help return the fugitives as part of its "Sky Net" anti-graft operation.  The Post has revealed that one of the listed fugitives, Cheng Muyang, is now a Vancouver property developer seeking refugee status in Canada. Cheng, also known as Michael Ching Mo Yeung, is accused of graft and illegal asset transfers but denies all charges. The Post has no evidence of his guilt or innocence.  In remarks that signal Beijing's determination to bring Cheng back, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said fugitives were "bound to receive due punishment".  But the repatriation process is difficult in Cheng's case because there is no extradition treaty between China and Canada.  Up until last November, China had concluded only 39 extradition treaties with other nations since its first, with Thailand, was signed in 1993.  Observers say this is not enough for Sky Net to succeed.  "On one hand China has to sign more bilateral extradition treaties," said Ma Chengyuan, a professor of international law at the China University of Political Science and Law.  "But it also has to see how to advance its plans through multilateral cooperation and treaties."  Beijing is aware that the negotiation of extradition treaties is often hindered by concerns over human rights and whether suspects will face the death penalty, which many countries oppose.  But it believes it can use mechanisms such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption, adopted in 2003, which says that signatories are obliged to assist in extradition, legal assistance and criminal proceedings.  Member states of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation have also pledged to deny safe havens to corrupt officials.  "Beijing is seeking to fully utilise these multilateral platforms for its interests, and put such frameworks into practice," Ma said.  Beijing's flexing of its muscles in territorial disputes, particularly in the South China Sea, provides further impetus to study international law.  The Philippines, one of the nations contesting China's claims in the South China Sea, has initiated proceedings under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Beijing decided not to respond to the proceedings, but Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said China was seeking to justify its territorial claims through legal means and needed more experts to do so.  "The challenge facing China over the South China Sea is daunting and we don't have enough experts that are familiar with international law regarding territorial disputes," said Wu, who was recently invited to join the foreign ministry's Foreign Policy Advisory Committee.  "If we can count on talented people with experience … we may be able to [satisfactorily] submit our claims to arbitration."  International laws on the handling of territorial disputes were dominated by the United States and Europe, Wu said, adding that China sometimes found such rules unhelpful.  "China wants to maintain its interests using the existing international rules," he said. "But if the existing rules cannot function, then China may seek to change such rules."  Ma said studies of international laws would also be useful in helping to set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is led by Beijing as part of attempts to bolster links with Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. ^ top ^

Chemical plant lead poisoning lawsuit 'test of China's resolve to tackle pollution' (SCMP)
2015-05-06
A lawsuit filed by residents of a town in China against a chemical plant they say is responsible for high levels of lead in the blood of children is shaping up as a test of the central government's resolve to tackle pollution.  Of the more than 50 residents from in and around the rural town of Dapu in central Hunan province who originally agreed to join the lawsuit, only 11 remain, their lawyer, Dai Renhui, said.  Hu Shaobo, another lawyer advising on the case, said some plaintiffs had withdrawn under pressure from local government officials.  The lawsuit, described by lawyers as one of the first of its kind to be accepted by a court in mainland China, is scheduled to be heard next month.  The plaintiffs are seeking compensation, although Dai declined to say if they had agreed on an amount.  China's central government has declared “war on pollution” in the wake of mounting discontent over a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has spoiled much of the country's water, skies and soil.  A revised environmental protection law that came into effect in January raised penalties for polluters and enabled environmental groups to file public interest lawsuits.  But in less developed regions such as Dapu, factories accused of polluting are also leading employers and taxpayers, underlining the tensions inherent in China's fight to clean up its environment and improve the rule of law while continuing to grow the economy.  The Dapu lawsuit, filed in the Hengdong county court in March, alleges that pollution from a local chemical plant and smelter called Melody Chemical caused elevated levels of lead in the blood of 11 children named in the suit.  Dapu's lead problem made national headlines last June in an expose by state broadcaster CCTV, in which the head of the township was shown saying children might have raised their own lead levels by chewing on pencils.  After the broadcast, which said more than 300 children had high lead levels, officials opened an investigation and Melody was ordered to shut down.  Attempts to reach Melody for comment were unsuccessful.  Plaintiff Yin Wanchun said by telephone that local officials had urged him to withdraw from the case, saying he had made his point and that participating would cause unspecified problems for him.  “I told them this was a legal matter, what's the government doing interfering?” said Yin, who is acting on behalf of his 12-year-old granddaughter.  Tests at a hospital in Changsha, the provincial capital, showed she had high levels of lead in her blood, Yin said.  Liu Huan, a spokesman for Dapu township, said he knew of the lawsuit, but added that to his knowledge, local authorities had not urged anyone to withdraw from the suit.  Dai, the lawyer, said the court delayed the first hearing to June from April 28 on the grounds it was a significant, complex and difficult case. Attempts to reach the court for comment were unsuccessful.  Lead poisoning is one of the serious side effects of China's rapid economic growth and lack of environmental controls.  Exposure to lead is particularly dangerous for children: it inhibits intellectual and physical development and can cause poor concentration, disruptive behaviour and even death at high levels.  Dapu, home to about 62,000 people, is dotted with smelters and chemical plants.  A report published by environmental group Greenpeace last year found that rice samples taken there contained high levels of cadmium and lead, some as much as 22 times the national standard.  Experts said the Hengdong court's acceptance of the lawsuit was progress, noting how courts in China had in the past routinely refused to accept such cases.  Nevertheless, plaintiffs in cases like this one would probably struggle to gather sufficient evidence to prove the accused company was responsible for harming the children's health, said Wang Xi, a professor at Shanghai Jiaotong University's School of Law.  “In [less-developed regions], where the government's main job is economic development and poverty alleviation, it's hard for governments to close down all polluting companies at once,” said Wang. ^ top ^

40 more websites closed (Global Times)
2015-05-06
A total of 40 Chinese websites were closed amid China's campaign to clean up illegal online practices such as blackmail and deleting posts for profit, according to China's Internet watchdog on Tuesday.  Most of the violators were reported by the public, said a statement by the Cyberspace Administration of China.  It was the third time the watchdog had released a list of violators since the crackdown against websites which had violated the law or related regulations began in January.   The third list includes websites claiming to provide news or information, or websites that claim to belong to public relations or Internet companies.   The watchdog said it has strengthened its crackdown, as the number of violators caught has increased. ^ top ^

China's Xi highlights 'big picture' in reform drive (China Daily)
2015-05-06
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called on officials to view the country's reform drive in the context of "a larger picture" in order to deepen reforms.  Xi made the remarks at the 12th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform, during which he called on authorities to "grasp the larger picture of reform" and fully implement the "Four Comprehensives", an ideological framework that identifies the main pillars needed to support the rejuvenation of China.  "Four Comprehensives" refer to comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, deepening reform, advancing the rule of law, and strictly governing the Party.  "Authorities should subordinate themselves to the overall situation and have the courage to face up to challenges," Xi said.  An overall plan to promote innovation in reform in selected regions was adopted at the meeting. Members of the leading group also agreed that authorities must place scientific and technological innovation at the heart of the drive.  "Authorities should break down structural and institutional obstacles, advance sci-tech, management, branding and business models and promote innovation in military-civic integration," according to a statement issued after the meeting.  IMPROVING LAW ENFORCEMENT : At the meeting, the group approved a pilot reform plan for public interest litigation and a document on improving legal aid.  Describing legal aid as a "key project", it urged "efficient and quality" legal aid that caters to people's practical needs so they can "feel fairness and justice in every case".  Legal aid should be provided, with lower costs and requirements, to help disadvantaged groups solve basic problems in life and work, according to the group. ^ top ^

Nation's cyberspace 'vulnerability' exposed by attack (China Daily)
2015-05-02
China's massive Internet infrastructure is extremely vulnerable to overseas cyberattacks, experts warned on Thursday after a server malfunction redirected a large number of requests to wrong pages for days.  The country has seen an increasing number of attacks targeting key Internet infrastructure, government bodies and influential industrial organizations, according to a report.  This was released on Thursday by the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center, a nongovernmental agency that monitors China's Internet safety.  "Although protection methods have improved generally, the risk level for basic Internet infrastructure remains high," the report said.  Last year, the center detected more than 1,500 major security flaws from telecom carriers, triple the amount found a year previously.  Four days before the agency issued its warning, Internet users on the Chinese mainland were finding it difficult to access a large number of websites that allow visitors to log in using Facebook accounts.  Page view requests to these sites were hijacked and redirected to two addresses?wpkg.org, the home page of an open source software, and ptraveler.com, a travel blog.  The incident affected a long list of sites, including cnn.com, yahoo.com.jp and the site of Emirates airline.  A senior staff member overseeing Internet operations at the coordination center said: "It was a rather strange case because the hackers were directly targeting the telecom carriers' servers. It has rarely happened before.  "China Telecom was the biggest victim because it is the largest Internet service provider.... It is impossible to estimate the damage at the moment."  Access to the sites affected had been restored by Thursday afternoon.  In a statement, the center said the redirection was caused because some of the servers in China were "contaminated" by malware from overseas servers.  Experts said it will be difficult to trace the source of the attack because it is technically possible to carry it out by remotely controlling the servers.  No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.  Shen Yi, a researcher at Fudan University, said China has been on the receiving end of foreign online hacking.  "The country lags far behind the West in building an anti-hacking system. When the worst happens, we cannot find an effective way to defend Internet safety."  Shen added that China is focusing on improving cybersafety levels, but the vulnerabilities have been easy to find. ^ top ^

'It's a joke!' Chinese premier mounts another attack on 'ridiculous' red tape (SCMP)
2015-05-07
Premier Li Keqiang has again gone on the warpath against "ridiculous" red tape, saying it was a joke that in one case a holidaymaker was told to prove his mother was his mother just to name her as an emergency contact on a travel form.  Li's comments were released on a government website on Wednesday after he chaired a regular State Council meeting on ways to streamline administration, delegate power and cut administrative licensing and approvals.  During the meeting, Li offered three anecdotes to show how bureaucracy was making life harder for the public.  "I read a media report where a person put his mother's name down as an emergency contact on a travel form. But some department requested he provide materials proving his mother was really his mother," Li said.  "How can anybody provide such proof? It's a huge joke! He wants to go on holiday and this is what happens?  "Are they deliberately setting up obstacles?""  Li cited another case of a grass-roots worker in Hainan province who wanted to apply for a national model worker award.  "He needed eight official seals just to submit the application but he couldn't get them despite days of running around," Li said.  "It was only resolved after special approval by provincial leaders.  "Soon after he got the last chop, he melted into tears.  "Why is it so difficult for civilians to get things done with the government? Why must the government put up so many barriers for its people?"  Li's third example was from a meeting with a Taiwanese merchant during a trip to Fujian province last month.  Li said he was told the merchants were not getting enough protection for their intellectual property rights.  He said officials should focus on areas like these that needed attention and stop meddling in those that didn't.  Li told the State Council that gains had been made in streamlining administration and delegating power but there was still a long way to go to meet the public's expectations. ^ top ^

Uber Chengdu office 'visited' by local authorities (Xinhua)
2015-05-07
Authorities in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, visited the local offices of US-based car services firm Uber, an official said on Wednesday, following a recent raid on Uber's office in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province. The official at the city's transport commission told the Global Times that authorities visited the Uber's office to "obtain information."  The company sent text message to its drivers in Chengdu saying that its services have not been affected and they will continue actively communicating with authorities.   The Uber office in Guangzhou was raided on April 30, with a number of mobile phones in the office seized for investigation, the Xinhua News Agency reported Friday, citing a city official.  Uber is suspected of unlicensed operations and conducting illegal business by allowing private car owners to offer taxi services, a Guangzhou transportation official was quoted by Xinhua as saying.   The raid took place following protests by some taxi drivers in Guangzhou after Uber rolled out a new car-pooling service called People's Uber in October 2014.   The service allows users to find available private vehicles nearby and pay via the Uber app. Guangzhou is one of the six cities where the service is available, according to the company's Sina Weibo account.  "Uber should be investigated as it is illegal. However, it has greatly benefited local residents by providing high-quality services and a convenient experience," a local Uber driver surnamed Zhang told the Global Times.    "The company needs to negotiate with authorities and find a way to remedy current laws," Zhang said.  Another local citizen surnamed Liu who frequently uses this service said that he felt sorry to hear the news.   "It solves the long-existing problem of it being difficult to find a taxi," he said.   Unlicensed private cars are prohibited in China from offering taxi services, but booming market demand has fueled the popularity of illegal service providers, often sparking anger among licensed taxi drivers who protest that it is squeezing their profits.  Currently, only cars belonging to vehicle rental companies can be used for car-for-hire services, according to the latest regulation released by the Ministry of Transport.  The company, which offers taxi services in over 56 countries and regions worldwide, has encountered bans in 14 of them. ^ top ^

Beijing vows tax relief for start-ups and innovators (SCMP)
2015-05-07
Beijing says it will cut "unnecessary" tax hurdles to support emerging industries such as e-commerce.  The tax relief is aimed at easing the burden on innovative and start-up firms, which have been earmarked by Premier Li Keqiang as playing a key role in speeding up industrial upgrading, but face challenges to survive as the economy expands at its slowest pace in six years.  "We need to actively support healthy development in new industrial patterns and new business models," the State Administration of Taxation said on Wednesday. The government would make great efforts to bolster society-wide innovation, it said.  The agency urged local tax departments to ensure the proper implementation of relief policies already announced for new start-ups, small companies with high growth potential and innovative businesses. Beijing has previously halved corporate income tax and halted value-added and sales taxes for micro-sized firms.  The tax agency vowed it would also stop charging any "unnecessary" taxes and fees for innovative enterprises. It ordered tax officials nationwide not to carry out so-called comprehensive tax assessments and checks on small and innovative firms.  "The steps are aimed at ensuring tax policies aren't overly harsh for small firms as they are particularly important to the country's job stability, innovation and economic development," said Li Hongxia, a professor of finance and taxation at the Capital University of Economics and Business.  Mainland GDP growth slid from double digits in the last decade to 7 per cent in the first quarter this year, just meeting the government's annual growth target.  Some researchers estimate the taxes and fees paid by all companies on the mainland account for more than a third of the country's GDP.  Small firms account for most new jobs on the mainland. Innovative companies, such as e-commerce firms, are key job sources for new university graduates - expected to total 7.5 million this year - who have faced difficulties in finding jobs that match their knowledge and skills.  Start-ups, hi-tech companies and the booming internet sector have in part offset slowing growth in traditional manufacturing in recent years amid rising labour costs. Several world-class companies, including Alibaba and Tencent, have emerged with the help of tax incentives.  "In the next three to five years, we foresee the internet revolutionising the services sectors in China," Credit Suisse has forecast. ^ top ^

BBQs targeted for cleaner air before Beijing's Olympics bid (China Daily)
2015-05-07
China has scaled up air quality control in Beijing to make sure the capital's air pollution to be much improved by the time of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.   BBQ is the latest target as Beijing announced on Wednesday to ban restaurants from operating outdoor barbecues, which authorities say are a major contributor to smog, in selected suburban areas.   China is going all out to bring "Olympic Blue" to Beijing.   'Olympic Blue', derived from the coined phrase 'APEC Blue', refers to fresh air and clear days that may come with the Olympics.   During last November's APEC meeting, host Beijing imposed strict pollution controls which led to a big drop in pollutants in the air. Thus, Beijing netizens coined a phrase 'APEC Blue' to describe the clear blue sky.   Air pollution, which had haunted the city for quite a long time, is believed to be one of the major problems hurting Beijing's chance for the 2022 Games.   The first quarter of the year has witnessed Beijing's average PM2.5 density drop significantly, thanks to the capital's continuous air pollution control efforts and favorable weather conditions during this period.   The average density of PM2.5 (airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter) dropped by 19 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period last year, according to Beijing's environmental protection bureau.   The average densities of PM10, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide also dropped by 8.8 percent, 42.9 percent and 11.4 percent respectively in Beijing.   Chen Tian, head of the Beijing environmental protection bureau, attributed the remarkable air quality improvement to the reduction of coal burning, a drop in construction activities and good air conditions to disperse pollutants.   Last year, Beijing realized a record high of 2.8 million-tonne cut in coal use. In March, two sets of coal-burning power generation facilities of two plants were shut down in Beijing.   The capital will continue to improve its energy structure to keep coal consumption under 15 million tonnes, phase out another 200,000 vehicles and close more than 300 polluting factories this year.   Beijing has 5.5 million registered vehicles, which discharge 700,000 tonnes of pollutants a year.   "We will accelerate promotion of new energy cars to control emissions of vehicles," said Li Kunsheng, an official of the bureau.   Policies about the fees over traffic jamming or fuel burning and dust at construction sites will be adopted, according to Zhang Gong, vice mayor of Beijing.   Meanwhile, the air quality in nearby Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province also improved in the first quarter.   The PM2.5 density dropped 15 percent in Tianjin and 25 percent in Hebei Province respectively year-on-year in the first quarter.   Beijing and the neighboring Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province have been working together to fight air pollution in recent years. The region has been ordered by the central government to cut PM2.5 from 2012 levels by 25 percent by 2017.   The International Olympic Committee will vote on Beijing's bid race against Almaty, Kazakhstan, on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur. ^ top ^

China offers first glimpse of sweeping national security law (SCMP)
2015-05-08
China has for the first time released a draft of a sweeping law on national security, a far-reaching term ranging from finance, politics, the military and cybersecurity to ideology and religion.  Analysts said the law reflected Beijing's view that the scope of national security needed to be expanded but it also triggered fears of greater limits on freedom.  The full text of the draft, which had its second reading at a National People's Congress Standing Committee session last month, was posted on the legislature's website late on Wednesday for public consultation.  The law emphasises the Communist Party's leadership in the area, saying the party will direct efforts to establish "a centralised, efficient and authoritative national security leadership system". But it stopped short of referring to the party's new National Security Commission.  President Xi Jinping, who heads the commission, has previously said that national security should be comprehensive, encompassing politics, the military, the economy, technology, the environment and culture.  Li Wei, director of the anti-terrorism research centre at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the draft was geared to meet Xi's new approach to national security, which demands China's security apparatus adapt to changing conditions at home and overseas.  "Such broad areas reflect Xi's call … meaning China can't focus just on its local security issues, but needs to cooperate and develop new security ties with other countries," Li said.  The draft defines "national security" as ensuring that the political regime, sovereignty, national unification, territorial integrity, people's welfare and the "sustainable and healthy development" of the economy and society, and other unspecified "major national interests" are "relatively free from danger and not under internal and external threats".  The draft law also deals with the protection of the socialist market economy, industries vital to the economy as well as other economic interests. It underscores the importance of grain security and cybersecurity, as well as preventing and effectively resolving incidents that affect social stability, such as food safety scandals. In addition, the law stresses the need to prevent cyberattacks and dissemination of illegal and "harmful" content online.  It says the authorities should put mechanisms in place to guard against regional and international financial risks, to protect the security of Chinese citizens and organisations overseas, and to safeguard interests abroad.  In addition to stressing the need for ethnic harmony, the law addresses the threats of terrorism, religious cults, and overseas interference in religious issues.  Hong Kong University law professor Fu Hualing said he wondered why the party's National Security Commission was not mentioned in the draft, saying it was not clear what legal status it had and how its power would be regulated by law.  Dr Eva Pils, a China law expert at King's College, University of London, said that by not making a direct reference to the commission, the law was leaving open which party entity would be in charge of national security. And as the law did not regulate party organs nor seek to curb the party's power, it affirmed the party's supremacy over the state on national security.  Pils said she was also worried that the definition of national security meant that “practically any aspect of social or economic life can be regarded as a matter of national security and thus gives the institutions empowered by the law a mandate to intervene".  "I think the law also manifests a neo-totalitarian ambition  to reach into every sector or society," she said.  The first clause of the law stated that its mission was to “safeguard national security, defend the people's democratic dictatorship and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics” as well as the “realisation of the great rejuvenation of the nation”.  Joshua Rosenzweig, a law researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said he was alarmed at the "strong ideology flavour" of the draft law and the fact that "a strong link has been drawn between the nation and the one-party political system".  William Nee,  China researcher at Amnesty International,  said international practice was for national security laws to be drawn “narrowly” and “with precision”, referring to specific threats. But this draft would cement many problematic concepts that had little to do with national security, such as maintaining “internet sovereignty” through censorship, promoting socialist core values, defending against “unhealthy” culture, and limiting freedom of religion.  “Over the past 30 years or more, the Chinese government has gradually given more freedom to people in areas of life deemed to be non-sensitive. However, this law seems to be seeking to aggressively reassert control over many aspects of Chinese life in the name of national security,” he said.  While the draft said “socialist rule of law” principles, human rights, citizen's rights and freedom should be respected, it lacked checks and balances to safeguard human rights, he said.  The public have until June 5 to give feedback on the draft, which is expected to go before the national legislature again. ^ top ^

China's road accidents kill 30 children a day, says WHO (SCMP)
2015-05-08
The World Health Organisation's representative in China has called for tougher road safety laws, with traffic accidents killing up to 10,000 children on the mainland each year as car ownership escalates.  "That's almost 30 [children dying in road accidents] each day … They're kids just doing what normal kids do - travelling in cars with their families, walking or playing in the streets, going to and from school," Bernhard Schwartländer said in a speech in Beijing marking the UN's Global Road Safety Week.  Schwartländer urged lawmakers to put in place strict road safety laws and to ensure they were enforced. He called on manufacturers to produce good quality cars, and parents to make sure their children wore helmets when riding bicycles.  The figure did not take into account those children who were injured but not killed. The WHO said on Wednesday that at least 200,000 people died each year on the mainland as a result of road accidents.  The figure was significantly higher than the country's official statistics. The Ministry of Public Security said about 87,200 people died in about 426,000 road accidents in the first 10 months of last year.  A global study published last year by medical journal The Lancet pointed to road injuries as the third-leading cause of death on the mainland, ahead of a range of cancers, compared with eighth in the developing world. Experts said the high fatality rate was because of poor driving behaviour exacerbated by a rapid rise in car ownership. They also said traffic accidents had grown more alarming than other disasters such as mining accidents In 2003, there were 24 million cars on the mainland. But by last year, the number had grown to 154 million, the public security ministry said.  Thirty-one cities had more than a million cars each. Eight cities, including Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin and Hangzhou, had over two million cars while Beijing had more than five million.  Two cases of road rage this week have left the public stunned. An elderly man was killed in Yunnan province in one case, while a woman was brutally beaten in Sichuan province in the other.  In the Yunnan case, the elderly man was crushed to death by the driver of a Mercedes-Benz, after they argued over the driver jumping a queue.  In the Sichuan case, the woman was forced to stop her car, dragged out of her vehicle by a male driver and kicked several times on the head. The man allegedly did so because the woman had been swerving dangerously on the road, scaring his wife and child in the car.  In Beijing last month, two men, aged 20 and 21, crashed their cars while racing a Ferrari and a Lamborghini on a highway. They have since been charged with dangerous driving. ^ top ^

Beijing to end price controls for most products (SCMP)
2015-05-08
Beijing is to relinquish the government's role in setting the prices of a wide range of commodities and services used in everyday life, as part of its market-based reforms.  In a list released on Wednesday outlining what goods and services would be subject to price controls, the National Development and Reform Commission had dropped 80 per cent of the products it usually prices.  Xu Kunlin, head of the NDRC's pricing department, told Xinhua yesterday that the government would embark on a so-called negative list system, on which only a small portion of products and services - those of vital importance to the national economy or that required heavy regulation due to safety concerns - would be included.  On the new list, only seven categories of products and services remain subject to the NDRC's price controls. These include natural gas, electricity, tap water, and anaesthetics.  The NDRC is seeking public feedback on the list in a consultation that will end May 19.  "It will have far-reaching significance to the economy and the country's development," said Liu Zhongyuan, Xiangcai Qinian Futures' chief economist. "It's no easy job, but the top leaders have shown their ability to get reform implemented."  Normally, a new rule does not take effect until several months after the authorities complete the consultation process.  The new list coincided with the NDRC's announcement that the central government would scrap price caps for most medicines from June 1, to let market forces play a more decisive role.  Since the new leadership under President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang took office in 2013, Beijing has been actively seeking to shift the economy from a model driven by investment to one that relies on consumption and an enterprising spirit.  The state's tight grip on prices has been a stumbling block for business development and companies' efforts to improve product quality over the past decade.  "The government is barred from intervening in the prices of any products and services that are not on the list," Xu said. "All businesses have the freedom to set prices on their own." ^ top ^

China's corruption crackdown takes shine off sales of gold jewellery (SCMP)
2015-05-08
President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign, which has banned officials receiving gifts, has led mainland consumers to buy fewer jewellery and gold products in the past year, industry insiders said.   Sales of gold bars – seen as traditional investments and gifts among many Chinese people – have been hardest hit.  However other factors have influenced the decline, too, including the fall in the price of gold and a rally on the stock market that has led mainlanders to invest much of their money in shares, the insiders said.   “There has certainly been a big slump in sales of gold, which is often bought as a gift,” said Wang Ensheng, chief spokesman of Shanghai jewellery company, Lao Feng Xiang.    “The central government's corruption crackdown has had a lot to do with the drop in sales.  “Generally speaking, other jewellery has been affected, too, but not quite as much as gold.”  Lao Feng Xiang, a century-old jewellery company that specialises in gold, has been forced to diversify into sales of other jewellery items and luxury products as consumers target less high-profile items, Wang said.   Ou Canrong, assistant general manager of the marketing department at Hangbai Jewellery, a gold processor and wholesaler in Hangzhou, said its orders for gold bars, gold coins and gold stamps over the past year had fallen by 10 per cent compared with the year before.   “This is something that other gold companies have experienced, too,” he said.   A report written by Shi Hongyue, deputy chairman of the Gems and Jewelry Trade Association of China, said China's jewellery market literally stopped expanding last year – with a reported sales volume of about 500 billion yuan (about HK$633,000) – following three decades of double-digit growth.  A survey by the association of more than 600 jewellery companies in China showed that 90 per cent of them experienced a drop in sales of more than 10 per cent last year compared with 2013.   “The acute overcapacity of the market, the end to the practice of sending gifts to officials, and the slackness in restructuring the sector have all left jewellery companies facing an unprecedented struggle,” Shi wrote.   However, sales of pearls – more than 95 per cent of which are manufactured by China – remain buoyant. About 10 billion yuan worth of pearl products were sold last year – a 20 per cent increase compared with the year before.  Wang Feifei, sales manager of Angeperle, a pearl company based in Zhuji city, in Zhejiang province, said: “China's First Lady Peng Liyuan likes to wear pearls. She even gave pearl jewellery as gifts to state guests. There is no doubt that she has helped to boost our industry.”    Shi wrote: “The corruption crackdown doesn't prohibit the wearing or collecting of jewellery.”  He added: “Corruption is often linked with jewellery, but jewellery is never the main reason for corruption.”  Many Chinese jewellers also said mainland consumers had gained a more sophisticated appreciation of luxury goods and were also more sensible about what they bought.  Han Jing, the manager of Kimberlite Diamond's exhibition department, in Shanghai, said dove-egg-sized diamonds were no longer so popular among mainland shoppers.   “In recent years, what is regarded as 'affordable luxury' has grown in popularity,” Han said. “People like to buy smaller, specially designed and delicately made items.”  Zheng Qifei, a Shanghai white-collar worker and jewellery lover, said: “In the past, Chinese shoppers liked to buy big items so they could that show they were richer than other people, but now they pay more attention to whether an item of jewellery is comfortable to wear, or well designed.”  Wang Ensheng said that in the past, when he attended a buyers' meeting, people would have few specific design requirements. “But now we're all asking for exquisite items,” Wang said.  Despite the overall recession, the jewellery market was likely to recover slowly, he said.  “The basic demand is still there – especially for gold, which traditionally has been bought by Chinese people for more than 5,000 years. People will continue to buy it for special occasions, such as marriages and the birth of a child.”  Shi also expected this year's total sales of jewellery, including gold, would beat last year's level and reach 550 billion yuan.   Last year, China slipped back to become the world's second-largest country in terms of gold demand with 813.6 tonnes of jewellery consumption and bar and coin investment – with India in first place, according to the World Gold Council.  It was a substantial 38 per cent decline as mainland consumers pulled back after a record year in 2013.  China and India accounted for a combined 54 per cent of the world's consumer gold demand in 2014, according to the council, a London-based industry group. ^ top ^

Political advisors discuss media convergence (Xinhua)
2015-05-08
China's political advisors discussed the convergence of traditional and new media on Thursday.  According to a statement issued after a consultation session presided over by Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the advisors agreed that boosting media convergence is an urgent task.  Despite achievements in developing new media, Chinese media organizations still lack technology, capital and updated concepts on media convergence, said the statement.  Changes should be made in the way mass media is disseminated, and there should also be exploration of how to make new media more profitable, said the advisors, urging news agencies to strike a balance between insisting on meeting public demand and following market rules. ^ top ^

4 named in campaign to halt bad behavior (China Daily)
2015-05-08
A passenger who threatened to detonate a bomb on an aircraft and another who threw hot water at a flight attendant are among the first to be named and shamed under an initiative aimed at stamping out misbehavior by Chinese tourists.  The resulting brawl on a flight from Bangkok to Nanjing last December forced the captain to turn the plane around and return to Thailand.  A passenger surnamed Wang claimed he had a bomb, while the water was thrown by a tourist surnamed Zhang, the country's top tourism authority said on Thursday. Two other unruly tourists have been identified by the China National Tourism Administration. An online poll conducted by Sina.com.cn found that 92 percent of Chinese netizens believed the Bangkok flight incident was "humiliating" for the country.  The administration said afterward that it would explore the use of records of misbehavior by tourists to identify possible offenders in advance, and a system aimed at achieving this was announced last month.  The administration said the types of misbehavior it was targeting including disorderly conduct on public transportation, damaging public facilities or historical relics, ignoring social customs at tourism destinations and becoming involved in gambling or prostitution.  Records will be kept by provincial and national tourism authorities for a number of years, with the length of time depending on the seriousness of the case. Tourists have a right to appeal.  The campaign is intended to tackle misbehavior at home and abroad. Another case involved tourist Li Wenchun from Shaanxi province, who sat on top of a Red Army statue while having his photo taken last month. He will remain on the blacklist for 10 years. It remains unclear how the "blacklist" status will affect offenders.  Yu Yibo, 28, an engineer from Beijing, said he has witnessed "uncivilized" behavior during trips, and this has affected his travel experiences.  "I don't think posting names on the tourism authority's website will help, as no one will check the list frequently," added Yu. ^ top ^

All couples may be allowed to have a second child soon (China Daily)
2015-05-08
All couples in China may be allowed to have a second child in the next few years with the relaxation of the family planning policy, population experts say.  Currently, most couples in urban areas can have a second child if at least one parent has no siblings, and couples in rural areas can have a second child if the first one is a girl.  "I think most scholars in China agree with further relaxing the family planning policy so all couples can have two children if they want, and the focus of disputes on the issue center on when and in what form the policy will be carried out", said Yuan Xin, a professor in population studies in Nankai University in Tianjin municipality.  "In my opinion, all couples will be allowed to have two children after two or three years, following the current transitional period."  Family planning polices have a huge impact on the whole population and caution should be exercised in implementing any changes, Yuan said.  The National People's Congress, China's top legislature, adopted a proposal at the end of 2013 by the central government that allows couples to have a second child if either of them has no siblings.  About 1.07 million such couples had registered with the authorities to have a second child by the end of last year, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.  "It is a transitional policy, and it has some incentive to stimulate population growth in China, but the incentive will be diminished over the next few years," Yuan said. "And then it will be the time for a policy that allows two children for all couples."  Yang Juhua, a professor of the population development studies center at Renmin University of China, said it will be time for a more relaxed family planning policy, considering the very low fertility rate and a rapidly ageing population in China.  "I think there will be no question that all couples across the country will be allowed to have a second child during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020)," she said.  Zhai Zhenwu, head of the China Population Association, said family planning policies will be further relaxed at the current level, according to a report of the Southern Metropolis Daily on Thursday. ^ top ^

 

 

Tibet

More relief supplies sent to Tibet (Xinhua)
2015-05-06
China's Ministry of Civil Affairs on Tuesday sent another batch of quake relief supplies to Tibet Autonomous Region to assist in its disaster relief work following Nepal earthquake in April.  Tuesday's materials included 1,000 portable toilets, 10,000 camp beds, 10,000 tents and 100 sets of lighting equipment, according to a statement of the ministry.  Relief supplies to the region include at total of 30,000 tents, 65,000 coats, 65,000 quilts, 25,000 beds and 15,000 sleeping bags.  The 8.1-magnitude earthquake in Nepal on April 25 also affected the southwestern region of China, especially Xigaze City. The earthquake killed at least 26 people in Tibet, with more than 800 injured. ^ top ^

Chinese president urges continued quake relief work in Tibet (Xinhua)
2015-05-07
Chinese President Xi Jinping has again urged continued disaster relief work in Tibet Autonomous Region where nearly 300,000 people were affected in a devastating earthquake in Nepal on April 25.  Xi called for all-out efforts to rescue the wounded, accommodate the quake-affected people and carry out the reconstruction by restoring the damaged infrastructure in a timely manner, according to a government press release issued late on Wednesday.  Xi asked to safeguard social stability in Tibet, especially the quake-hit areas.  Premier Li Keqiang has also urged relevant governmental departments to assist with all strength in the relief work, said the release.  The 8.1-magnitude earthquake in Nepal jolted parts of Tibet, including Xigaze and Ngari, in the north of the Himalayas, leaving 26 people dead, three missing and 856 injured. About 2,700 houses have been toppled down, and nearly 40,000 houses and monasteries were damaged.  At present, 63,989 people who were evacuated have been well accommodated with safe food and drinking water and medical treatment. Power supply and telecommunication service were being resumed, said the release. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Loophole opens the door to radioactive food in Hong Kong, lawmaker warns (SCMP)
2015-05-05
Radioactive contaminated food may have been entering the city unnoticed for years because of deficiencies in safety controls on fresh produce brought in by sea, the South China Morning Post has learned.  Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan said food safety surveillance was too relaxed at the Kwai Chung container terminal - the only sea entry point for food from overseas - as it relied heavily on the importer taking the initiative.  Food imported by sea does not go through routine checks at the dock as the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has no food inspection checkpoint at the terminal. Food imported by air, however, is tested for radiation at the airport.  Food imported by sea is inspected by health officers only when it is moved to storage areas by importers, according to the department. This would allow some food importers to avoid inspection, Wong said.  She cited a case in January, when 10 boxes of Japanese carrots from Chiba, one of five prefectures from which imports of vegetables and fruits have been banned since the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident in 2011, entered the city by sea.  One box was sold and two other boxes were found for sale in the Yau Ma Tei wholesale fruit market when food safety officers acted on a complaint.  "It has exposed … loopholes in our food safety system," Wong said. "We do not know if there is more banned food being sold in the city that has not been discovered by the government."  Since importers are only required to complete the import declarations within 14 days after the importation under the Import and Export Ordinance, "some small importers" would not bother to alert food inspectors and simply sell their perishable produce before health officers obtained the details of the declaration, a source said.  "If the health officers want to conduct checks after getting the details of the import declaration, but the imported food is already distributed in the market for sale, how can the health officers trace the food and conduct checks?" the source said.  Hong Kong imported 15,093 tonnes of vegetables and fruit from Japan by sea last year, about 0.8 per cent of total vegetables and fruit imports by sea.  Since March 2011, the department had stepped up surveillance of fresh produce imported from Japan such as milk, vegetables and fruits, to examine radiation levels, a spokesman said.  These Japanese foods are subject to radiation checks. Importers must also provide relevant import documents showing the prefectures from where the food originated, he said.  He said the importer and retailers responsible for importing the questionable carrots might face prosecution, but he failed to explain how the vegetables managed to enter the city despite the food safety measures.  He also did not comment on whether there might be a loophole in the inspection system.  Kowloon Fruit and Vegetable Merchants Association vice-chairman Cheung Chi-cheung said importers had to notify the department for inspection whenever they picked up the goods.  "An importer has to notify the department of the exact date of collection, and the officers will come later for inspection," said Cheung. "If you don't notify the government they would know, as they have regular checks with shipping companies."  But Cheung said while food samples were sent for tests, goods from the same batch could be sold in the market before the results were known.  Spokesmen for Japanese-style retail chain Yata and food importer Aji-no-chinmi both said their products were inspected by the department before sale. ^ top ^

Gang who kidnapped Bossini heiress may have buried cash in border area (SCMP)
2015-05-07
The hunt for gang members accused of kidnapping Bossini heiress Queenie Rosita Law last night zeroed in on woodland in Hong Kong's Sha Tau Kok border area as police work on a theory that the gang buried the HK$28 million ransom cash in the city as they made their escape.  The South China Morning Post has also confirmed that all six core members of the gang - at least two of whom are the focus of the border area search - came from Guizhou province in the southwest of the mainland and entered Hong Kong using valid travel documents. The developments came a day after six men were arrested in Guangdong and follow the appearance in court yesterday of a seventh suspect detained by Hong Kong police on Sunday.  It is unclear how many of those arrested by the mainland authorities are suspected of being part of the core gang who snatched 29-year-old heiress Law from her Sai Kung home on April 25 before releasing her unharmed three days later.  A source with knowledge of the investigation said: "It is possible at least two of them are hiding out in woods in the Sha Tau Kok border area and looking for an opportunity to flee Hong Kong through illegal channels. We don't rule out the possibility that they buried the ransom money somewhere in Hong Kong before splitting."  Police are now focusing their search on the Sha Tau Kok border area and monitoring smuggling black spots across the city.  Information passed to the Hong Kong police by their mainland counterparts has convinced detectives here that at least two of the gang accused of entering the Law residence 11 days ago are still in the city.  Locals in Guizhou's Wengan county, where the accused gang members came from, said the formerly crime-ridden area had been cleaned up after a change of county party leadership in 2008, and many gangsters who operated there had moved.  "Armed robbery and shooting on the street used to be commonplace here before 2008, and the police would usually hide themselves before the thieves left," said one taxi driver there.  On April 25, six Putonghua-speaking men broke into Law's house, abducted her and also stole more than HK$2 million in cash and valuables.  The kidnappers are suspected of holding Law - granddaughter of Bossini founder Law Ting-pong - in a secluded cave before calling her father and demanding more than HK$40 million for her release. That was later reduced to HK$28 million. Police have not found the cave where she was held for three days. ^ top ^

New draft of China's national security law for first time highlights Hong Kong's responsibilities (SCMP)
2015-05-08
Beijing has for the first time highlighted Hong Kong's obligations under a new draft of the country's national security law, raising the prospect of renewed pressure on the city to get moving on its own relevant legislation.  The draft bill, published online yesterday, makes it clear that Hong Kong must do its part. Article 11 of the draft states: "China's sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division. Safeguarding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity is the common obligation of all Chinese people, including people in Hong Kong and Macau as well as Taiwan."  Article 36 goes on to say: "The Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong and the Special Administrative Region of Macau must fulfil their responsibility to safeguard national security."  The full draft, which is up for public consultation until June 5, will be scrutinised by the National People's Congress next March at the earliest.  While legal experts doubt that China's national security legislation can be directly enforced here, local commentators and politicians see the unprecedented reference to Hong Kong as a clear signal Beijing wants the city to stop dragging its feet on drawing up its own legislation to ban acts of "treason, secession, sedition or subversion", as stipulated under Article 23 of the Basic Law.  It will be a tough sell to the public, judging by mass protests sparked by the last attempt in 2003 that led to the early resignation of former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. Many in Hong Kong feared their rights and freedoms would be curtailed back then, and they continue to treat any talk of national security legislation with suspicion.  But pro-Beijing politicians say it's time to get moving on the highly controversial issue.  "There is no excuse for us not to fulfil our constitutional responsibility when our country has already enacted its own national security law," said trade unionist Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a Hong Kong deputy to the NPC. Ng triggered a storm in January by suggesting the mainland's national security law should be enforced directly in Hong Kong.  Legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, a legal academic who specialises in China law, said the draft was a warning to Hong Kong over the lack of progress on the issue.  Professor Michael Davis, a constitutional law expert at the University of Hong Kong, said the mainland law could not be applied in the city unless it was added to Annex III of the Basic Law. However, Article 18 of the Basic Law does allow Beijing to apply national laws directly to the city under extreme situations such as a state of emergency in Hong Kong.  Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said yesterday he had not heard of any intention by Beijing to amend Annex III.  Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan said the move was a declaration of intent by Beijing. He said: "Hongkongers should be cautious and not give Beijing any excuse to push for the legislation … by advocating independence".  The country's first national security law, which took effect in 1993, did not touch on Hong Kong. It was renamed the Counter-espionage Law last year. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Xi to hold talks with KMT chief on relations (Global Times)
2015-05-04
Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), is scheduled to meet the chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Chu Li-luan on Monday in Beijing.  The meeting with Xi in Beijing will be the highlight of his first visit to the mainland in his official capacity as Kuomintang leader.  Chu arrived in Shanghai on Saturday and led a delegation to the 10th Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum in Shanghai.   Speaking at the forum on Sunday as part of his two-day visit to the mainland, Chu Li-luan said the two sides across the Straits should "seek common ground while respecting differences" and maintain a stable path for the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.   The annual forum in Shanghai was co-hosted by KMT Vice Chairman Huang Min-hui and Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council. Chu flew to Beijing on Sunday afternoon to attend a banquet hosted by Guo Jinlong, secretary of the CPC's Beijing Municipal Committee.  Taiwan's New Party President Yok Mu-ming said Chu should initiate a new peace accord for cross-Straits development with Xi.   Taiwan observers, however, believe the meeting between Xi and Chu will be focused on strengthening the existing 1992 consensus, rather than coming up with new initiatives.   "Since the landmark 2005 meeting between Lien Chan [then KMT chairman] and the then CPC leader Hu Jintao, the KMT has been a driving force for the healthy development of cross-Straits relations.   Now with Chu being the new KMT chief, both the mainland and Taiwan sides should work to further strengthen mutual trust," Xu Shiquan, vice chairman of the Beijing-based National Society of Taiwan Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.  Chu replaced Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou as KMT chairman in January after KMT's landslide defeat in the regional elections in the island in November 2014.   The Democratic Progressive Party has indicated that it will not be bound by the 1992 consensus.   Hu Benliang, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Taiwan Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that after the Sunflower movement in March when hundreds of students protested against a service trade pact with the mainland showed a portion of the Taiwan people shares this sentiment.    Hu said it's unlikely for new policy proposals to be raised. Instead, he believes the mainland side will take this occasion to reaffirm the CPC's stand on cross-Straits relations.   Also on Sunday, top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng said the two sides should discuss ways for the island to participate in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Xinhua News Agency reported. ^ top ^

CPC Taiwan work official hails Xi-Chu meeting (Xinhua)
2015-05-06
A senior official of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has hailed the achievements of Monday's meeting between the top leaders of the CPC and the Kuomintang.  Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, on Monday met with visiting Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu in Beijing and called on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to "build a community of shared destiny" and settle political differences through equal consultations.  By stressing the importance of cross-Strait peaceful development, the political foundation of adhering to the 1992 Consensus and opposing "Taiwan independence," as well as efforts to carry on cross-Strait talks and cooperation, and to bring benefits to the mainland and Taiwan people, Xi's remarks have chartered a course for development of cross-Strait relations, the official said.  The official's comments were sent to Xinhua in a document that did not name the official.  The history of cross-Strait development confirms that adhering to the 1992 Consensus and opposing "Taiwan independence" brings about stability and development across the Strait and that no development can be secured if the foundation is undermined, the official said.  Xi's remarks on seeking benefit for people on the two sides demonstrated the mainland's good faith and positive attitude, according to the official.  His words also signaled the mainland's willingness to seek solutions to problems and differences between the two sides, the official went on.  The official called on the CPC and KMT to be courageous and shoulder their responsibility to contribute to the future of cross-Strait relations and national revival.  Before meeting with Xi, Chu attended the 10th Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum, a regular meeting between the mainland and Taiwan, on Sunday in Shanghai.  With the two parties' joint efforts in the past 10 years, peace in cross-Strait relations was hard-won after decades of hostility, so it should be cherished, said the official.  As for political differences, the two parties have agreed on compromise to avoid hampering cooperation and exchanges.  "As long as we have affection and empathy towards our fellows, we will find a solution," the official noted. ^ top ^

Taiwanese should jointly strengthen cross-Strait ties (Xinhua)
2015-05-07
Eric Chu, chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party, on Wednesday called on people in the island to jointly promote sustained development of cross-Strait relations.  The two sides across the Taiwan Strait have reconciled and maintained peace, said Chu at a meeting of the party's Central Standing Committee.  Chu, who concluded a mainland visit earlier this week, said the KMT is bringing Taiwan into an era featuring cross-Strait win-win cooperation.  A responsible political party should have a definite policy concerning cross-Strait ties, and "empty talk about maintaining the status quo will not fool anyone", said Chu, referring to remarks by Taiwan opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chair Tsai Ing-wen.  Tsai said at a meeting last month that the DPP handled the cross-Strait relationship under the basic principle of maintaining a status quo characterized by peace and stability.  Chu said cross-Strait relations are not confined to ties between the KMT and the Communist Party of China (CPC), that other political parties are welcome to participate in cross-Strait exchanges, and that all political parties and people should jointly promote development of cross-Strait relations.  He also expressed hope that the dividends of peaceful cross-Strait exchanges could be enjoyed by all in Taiwan.  During his mainland visit from Saturday to Monday, Chu attended the 10th Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum in Shanghai and met with Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, in Beijing. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's Canton Fair hits headwinds as trade slumps (SCMP)
2015-05-06
The country's biggest trade fair ended on Tuesday with organisers reporting the second-worst transaction results for the twice-yearly event since the 2008 global financial crisis.  Liu Jianjun, spokesman for the China Import and Export Fair, better known as the Canton Fair, said transaction volumes fell 9.64 per cent year on year to 172 billion yuan (HK$218 billion), or US$28 billion, the lowest total in six years.  Liu did not say why the figure was low, saying it simply reflected the performance of the country's foreign trade in the first quarter of this year.  "The state of the nation's foreign trade was dire in the first quarter," he said. "Chinese customs figures showed that the total value of China's imports and exports in the first quarter was 5.54 trillion yuan, representing a 6 per cent drop on the same time last year."  Exports slumped 15 per cent year on year in March to US$144.6 billion after increasing by nearly half in February.  The economy grew by 7.4 per cent in 2014, a 24-year low. The official growth target for this year is even lower at around 7 per cent.  The trade fair, held twice a year in eastern Guangzhou, has long been seen as a gauge of China's exports for the next six to nine months.  The fair recorded its worst post-2008 crisis results in the spring of 2009, when just US$26 billion in deals were sealed, well down on the US$38.2 billion in transactions recorded a year earlier.  Conditions were not much better for traders at the autumn fair last year - after that event organisers said that only about US$29.2 billion worth of deals were signed.  Liu said that in all 184,801 visitors from 216 countries attended the 2015 spring fair.  That overall number was 0.7 per cent less than last year's autumn session.  More than 105,000 people who did go to the event came from Asia, a 2.75 per cent increase on the autumn figure and roughly 57 per cent of the total.  Liu said there was a rare drop in the number of Hong Kong visitors - down about 8 per cent on the previous session.  But the special administrative region was still the trade fair's main source of participants, he said.  Liu added that the number of visitors from countries associated with Beijing's "One Belt, One Road" initiative was up 0.8 per cent over the last session to 80,954.  But the number of people from Europe was down by almost 18 per cent to 30,383 because of the continuing weakness in the euro, Liu said. Fewer visitors also came from Japan due to an increase in the country's domestic sales tax, Liu said.  The next Canton Fair, the 118th, will take place in October. ^ top ^

 

DPRK
China explains Belt and Road initiatives to DPRK (Xinhua)
2015-05-05
Chinese ambassador to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Li Jinjun on Monday explained China's strategic vision of Belt and Road initiatives in his meeting with DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Ri Gil Song.  Li noted that China is actively practicing major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics and has initiated and is pushing ahead the Belt and Road initiatives, which bring new historic opportunities for its neighbors and regional cooperation.  Friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries have unique advantages in politics, trade and economic development, geography and people-to-people exchange, he added.  "China and the DPRK are linked by rivers and mountains, and the China-DPRK friendship has a time-honored history," said Li.  He said the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government highly value China-DPRK relations and have considered constant consolidation and development of China-DPRK friendly and cooperative relations as an unswerving policy.  Under the new period and the new situation, both countries need to carry forward their traditional friendship, Li said.  And more importantly, China and the DPRK should look to the future, keep up with the times, be innovative, seek common ground while shelving differences, and seize the opportunity to deepen practical cooperation in various fields in order to promote sound and steady development of the relationship, said the ambassador.  Li briefed Ri on China's politics, economy and social development and appreciated the DPRK's achievements in economic development and improvement of people's livelihood.  Ri welcomed Li on his assumption of office in Pyongyang and expected Li to make positive contributions to advancing bilateral ties during his term.  Ri noted that the DPRK-China friendship is a valuable wealth shared by both sides.  Consolidating and developing the DPRK-China friendly and cooperative relations as required by the new century serves the common interests of both peoples and the DPRK is willing to work together with China to that end, he said. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

President meets Ambassador of China (Montsame)
2015-05-04
The President underlined that the Mongolia-China have gained many achievements within the office term of Mr Wang Xiaolong. He noticed two specific achievements—an establishment of the strategic partnership relations in 2011 and the China President Xi Jinping's state visit in 2014. During this visit, the countries brought the ties into a volume of comprehensive strategic partnership and signed vital documents, he said.  “Mongolia has two big neighbors--the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China. Mongolia and China relations are not limited to bilateral. Last autumn, Presidents of Mongolia, Russia and China successfully held the first trilateral meeting, establishing an appropriate mechanism of cooperation and discussions. The next three-sided meeting will run Ufa of Russia this July during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization / SCO / Summit,” Mr Elbegdorj said.  Expressing thanks to the President for the audience, the Ambassador conveyed to him an invitation to visit China. He said China appreciates Mongolian President's “Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security” initiative and welcomes the nuclear-weapon-free status of Mongolia, approved by the United Nations as well.    The President wished Mr Wang Xiaolong successes in his further endeavors. ^ top ^

Mongolia's human rights record to be reviewed by universal periodic review (Montsame)
2015-05-04
Mongolia is one of the 14 States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its upcoming session taking place from 4 to 15 May. Mongolia's first UPR review took place on 2 November 2010.  The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) national report - information provided by the State under review 2) information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3) information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups.  Among the issues raised in the above-mentioned documents are: investigating cases of torture and steps to prevent such acts and the use of statements and confessions obtained under torture; conditions of detention facilities; addressing allegations of corruption and reforming the judiciary; promotion of the rights of women, including addressing cases of gender-based and domestic violence; protecting the rights of LGBT persons and addressing negative social attitudes; the Law on Gender Equality; protecting the rights of the child and addressing cases of violence against children and child labour; combating human trafficking and compensation and rehabilitation for victims; accessibility for persons with disabilities to public services; the right to form trade unions; and the human rights impacts of business activities of the extractive industry. ^ top ^

Online freedom conference begins (Montsame)
2015-05-05
The conference will run for two days, attended by national and foreign 300 delegates representing the world's leading communication companies such as Google, Mozilla, Twitter, and research institutes and civil societies including the UNESCO, the UNICEF, the Asia Foundation, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Digital Partners Global, and other public and private entities.  A study ran by “Silk Road” foundation shows that one million 962 thousand and 149 people uses internet in Mongolia. Results of the survey on legal environment on internet freedom in Mongolia will be presented on the first day of the meeting. According to the survey, 90.2 percent of all internet-users live in Ulaanbaatar.  The main organizers of the Fifth Ministerial Conference are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Agency of Information Technology, Postage and Communications, the National Information Technology Park, Silk Road Foundation, and Online Express Union. ^ top ^

Minister of health meets Ambassador of Turkey (Montsame)
2015-05-05
The Minister said the Mongolia- Turkey political and economic relations have been intensifying, the ties in the health sector has been developing in directions of investment and strengthening human development.  In conjunction with a termination of the 2011-2013 cooperation plan between the countries' Ministries of Health, Shiilegdamba proposed upgrading this document and reflecting in it some works awaiting their realization. He also said Mongolia wants to involve its medical doctors in a short-term training in Turkey,” we want to sharpen their skills”.  In turn, Mr Karagoz underlined an importance of making the bilateral collaboration in the health closer because the health sector is one of the vital areas, and then supported the Monster's proposal.  “The health sector has been highly developed in Turkey. Our delegation of private hospitals has visited recently Mongolia to study the health sector. They will come to Mongolia again soon. I would like to ask You to provide them with necessary information about tendencies of Mongolia's health” Mr Karagoz said. ^ top ^

President of Mongolia heads for Moscow to participate the 2015 Victory Day Parade (Infomongolia)
2015-05-06

Today on May 06, 2015, the President of Mongolia, Ts.Elbegdorj left his country to participate the 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade, which is an upcoming grand event to take place on Red Square in Moscow on May 09, 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the capitulation of Nazi Germany in 1945.     The official visit starts today and President of Mongolia Mr. Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ will be having a one-to-one meeting with the Head of State of the Russian Federation, Mr. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.     At the 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade, important dignitaries and leaders from 26 countries are claimed to attend the Grand Parade in Moscow.     Among those expected to come to this year's event are President of the PR of China, Xi Jinping; President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic; President of Viet Nam, Truong Tan Sang; President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea, Kim Yong-nam; President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev; and President of India, Pranab Mukherjee as well as heads of UNESCO and the Council of Europe.     The following countries have opted not to participate in this year's parade in Moscow:     Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Germany, Georgia, Israel, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, USA, Finland, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Sweden, Estonia, Japan.     Moreover, Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel instead will visit Moscow in this year's celebrations on May 10, a day after the parade itself. ^ top ^

Program will be accelerated on renovating UB public transport (Montsame)
2015-05-07
At its regular meeting on Monday, the cabinet backed a financing agreement for the first draft of an investment program on developing the public transport of Ulaanbaatar city.  The cabinet also decided to have the PM issues an order on authorizing the Minister of Finance to sign the agreement, representing the government. This financing agreement was established in 2012 between the government of Mongolia and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with an aim to resolve the financial source for the program, coordinating it with the sector's policy.  Within the first phase of the investment, a 7.7-km road of the vertical axis will be repaired, the “Peace” bridge will be extended, a 14-km bus road and 14- km infrastructure for the electric transportation along the vertical axis will be run and renewed, a control system of monitoring bus locations will be introduced, and the project management, graphics and institution will be developed.  These works will be fulfilled under soft and mixed loans of USD 59.9 million from the ADB, a non-refundable aid of USD 1.5 million from the World Environment Organization and investment of USD 17 million from the government 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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