SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  1-5.6.15, No. 575  
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Foreign Policy

Solar-powered plane leaves China to face its greatest test yet (SCMP)
2015-06-01
The revolutionary Solar Impulse 2 aircraft took off yesterday for a six-day flight over the Pacific Ocean, the most ambitious leg of its quest to circumnavigate the globe powered only by the sun. Pilot Andre Borschberg, 62, left the ground in Nanjing to head for Hawaii at about 2.40am, after extended delays awaiting suitable weather. The 8,500km flight could set a record for duration by a single pilot, organisers said. "I cross my fingers and I hope to cross the Pacific," Borschberg said before take-off. "We have a good weather window, which means we have a stable corridor to reach Hawaii." It is the seventh and longest section of the maiden solar-powered global circumnavigation, an attempt to promote green energy. The journey began in Abu Dhabi in March and is scheduled for 12 legs, with a total flight time of around 25 days. Nonetheless Solar Impulse 2 spent two months in China after arriving in Chongqing from Myanmar on March 31, where it had been due to make only a brief stop, but was held up for weeks by weather issues. After more than eight hours in the air, the plane was over the East China Sea and Borschberg could be heard discussing light turbulence with the Solar Impulse team. "For the Pacific, I need to be ready for the unknown," Borschberg said before take-off. Solar Impulse 2 is powered by more than 17,000 solar cells built into wings that, at 72 metres, are longer than those of a Boeing 747 and approaching those of an Airbus A380 superjumbo. Each day on the Pacific voyage, Borschberg will experience altitudes of 28,000 feet, akin to the world's highest peak, and temperature changes of 55 degrees Celsius in the unpressurised, unheated cockpit. He will be able to catch only the shortest of naps - his seat doubles as a bed - given the need to check the autopilot. Failure could mean parachuting into the ocean hundreds of kilometres from rescue. No ship will trail the plane as it travels far too fast for a maritime vessel to keep up with, even though its maximum speed of 140km/h is much slower than conventional jet aircraft. Even so, with an engineer's detachment, Borschberg has declined to contemplate his own mortality. "I don't see it as risky, in the sense that we worked a long time on all these different questions," he said. "In the worst case, we have a parachute, we have a life raft and we know how to use it. Of course, we hope we will not need to do that." Planners had identified airports in Japan should the plane need to make a stop because of technical problems, but the open ocean offered no such possibility, he said. "As soon as we leave this part of the world, then afterwards we are in the open sea. There is no way to come back," Borschberg said. ^ top ^

China denies it is readying air defence zone in South China Sea (SCMP)
2015-06-01
China's top military representative to a regional security summit on Sunday dismissed speculation Beijing would soon establish an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in the disputed South China Sea, calling on other countries to stop trying to “sow discord” over the issue. But Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff for the People's Liberation Army, would not rule out creating the zone, saying it depended on the security situation. “The Chinese government and military never said they were going to establish an ADIZ in the South China Sea,” Sun said at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. “The security situation in the South China Sea so far is stable. It is groundless for people to play up such an issue.” Chinese Admiral Sun Jianguo addresses the fourth plenary session of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Photo: Xinhua The decision on whether to establish an ADIZ in the South China Sea – following one Beijing introduced in the East China Sea in 2013 – would be based on an assessment of the situation, Sun said. His remarks came amid escalating tensions between China and the United States over the disputed waters, with US Defence Secretary Ash Carter demanding an immediate end to all reclamation works by claimants and saying Beijing was “out of step” with international norms with its behaviour in the area. Reclamation work by China has fuelled speculation it will declare an ADIZ, which would require overflying aircraft to identify themselves to Chinese authorities. The United States has expressed concern that freedom of navigation could be at risk. Sun said in a speech to the forum that China was determined to protect its territorial interests and would never submit to “hegemony”. But he avoided commenting on the Pentagon's warning it would send aircraft and warships within the 12-nautical mile sovereign territory around the islets that Beijing claims. He said the main purpose of the reclamation work was civilian and scientific. “Apart from meeting necessary defence needs, it is more geared to help China better carry out its international responsibilities and obligations regarding maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and relief, maritime scientific research, meteorological observation, environmental protection, safety of navigation, fishery production, [and] services,” he said. Major General Jin Yinan, director of the strategic research institute at the PLA National Defence University, said Sun's comments that China had no plan to set up an ADIZ should not be taken as a permanent promise. It was just a “temporary decision”, said Jin, who is a member of the PLA's delegation to the forum. “What Admiral Sun wants to make clear is, China will decide to establish an ADIZ in the area when it feels challenged or in danger, but so far we don't need it.” Vice-Admiral Alexander Lopez, the Philippines' commander, said he was encouraged by Sun's speech, and agreed the situation was stable. “Those alleged potential military confrontations [between China and the Philippines] are all political speculation, and I don't want to make any comments,” Lopez said. “My fleet is not bothered” by the Chinese navy currently in the South China Sea, he said. Indonesian Defence Minister General Ryamizard Ryacudu, who held a bilateral meeting with Sun yesterday, said it was too early to judge China's actions in the South China Sea, but he welcomed the admiral's remarks. “I don't agree with most of Sun's standpoint, but I think it's a good beginning” to build trust, he said. “Once trust is built, then we can go to the next step to work together and come up with solutions,” he said. China insists it has sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea but rival claimants accuse it of expansionism. ^ top ^

US, China tone down rhetoric over South China Sea (SCMP)
2015-06-01
Chinese delegates attending the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore said Beijing had used a less hawkish approach in the security forum, refraining from tough remarks that would increase tensions over the South China Sea. Major General Jin Yinan said yesterday there had been no progress in resolving the dispute, but the atmosphere had calmed a little because of "reasonable consideration" by all parties. "We might disappoint overseas media because [they have been excited] since CNN's report on the Chinese navy's warning against a US spy plane flight … with many expecting an explosive quarrel," Jin said. "But [the Chinese delegation] are all very clear that we did not come here for a quarrel, but to explain our standpoint of why and how to build a community of common destiny for Asia, and to negotiate and cooperate with other countries." Jin, director of the strategic research institute at the PLA's National University, said the delegation did not expect to solve the problem, but hoped to ease the tension and prevent the recent diplomatic spats from escalating. He said the United States was "also very smart and flexible when dealing with South China Sea issues". He said that a speech by US Defence Secretary Ash Carter to the forum yesterday, in which Carter said that countries other than China were also at fault for the tensions, showed he was not being "driven by Western media's provocative reports". Tension in the South China Sea mounted on Friday when the US said China had placed mobile artillery on a reclaimed island. The next day the US called for "an immediate and lasting halt" to the practice, drawing a strongly worded response from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Major General Chen Zhou, a senior researcher at the PLA Academy of Military Science, said he had explained to China's neighbours that Beijing planned to build a lighthouse, disaster relief facilities and safe harbours for fishing vessels on the islands and that these would be shared with civilian ships from all Asian countries. "We are telling our counterparts that the key purposes for military ports will not be used for war in the future, but anti-piracy, counterterrorism and other non-traditional security issues," Chen said. "The chance for war is very slim in today's world, with all countries sharing complicated common interests. Whether our neighbours are willing to trust us … just let them wait and see what China will do." Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canada-based Kanwa Asian Defence magazine, said even the Japanese delegation, under the close watch of domestic and overseas media, had played down their criticisms of China. "Both the US and China realise that the Shangri-La Dialogue is not a place for problem-solving as it doesn't have any legal binding. Stirring up diplomatic spats becomes meaningless because it would only mess up the issue or even backfire," Chang said. ^ top ^

China firmly opposes 'US interference' (China Daily)
2015-06-01
Senior Chinese officials have spoken harshly about US interference in the South China Sea situation as China talked about its commitment to regional stability at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore over the weekend. At the dialogue on Sunday, Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, voiced China's "firm opposition" to the United States as it has ignored history, legitimate reasons and fact, delivered a number of "alienating comments", and made false accusations over China's construction on territorial islands. Construction taking place on China's Nansha Islands is "not targeting any country or impeding the freedom of navigation", Sun said. "Never expect us to surrender to poorly reasoned arguments, might and hegemony, and never expect us to accept the bitter consequences brought by sabotaging national interests in regard to sovereignty, security and development" Sun said. Last week, a US air force reconnaissance aircraft flew near the Chinese islands and reefs on a spying mission and received warnings from the PLA. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at the dialogue on Saturday that China has quickly done extensive land reclamation recently, and he criticized China's actions in the South China Sea as out of step with international norms and rules. The PLA senior official told insiders at the annual international defense affairs gathering that the construction on the islands and reefs is "completely within the scope of China's sovereignty, justified and legitimate". There is no change "in China's pursuits regarding the South China Sea", and "in China's position of peacefully resolving disputes through negotiation and reconciliation", Sun said. "The engagement of US vessels and aircraft has fueled regional tension, has brought changes to the nature of the disputes and drastically squeezed the space for a diplomatic settlement," Zhao Xiaozhuo, researcher at the Center on China-America Defense Relations at the PLA's Academy of Military Science, warned in an article. In response to Carter's comments, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters on Saturday that "the US is not a party to the South China Sea issue. It is not and shall not become an issue between China and the US". Hua said Beijing urges the US to "honor its commitment of not taking sides on issues concerning territorial sovereignty" and "show sincere respect to regional countries' efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea". Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, in an article published on Saturday, hailed "common efforts by China and ASEAN countries" for "positive progress that has been made in the consultation of the code of conduct in the South China Sea". ^ top ^

New mode to open new way for international cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-06-01
A new China-proposed mode of production capacity cooperation between China and Latin America will not only open new prospects for South-South cooperation, but will also explore a new route for strengthening South-North cooperation. The new mode, dubbed "three times three," was proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a just-concluded four-nation tour to Latin America. "Three times three" means the joint construction of three passages for logistics, electric power and information, giving full play to interaction among the three entities of private sector, society and the government and using three financing channels including funding, credit loans and insurance. The mode not only meets needs of Latin America, but also inspires development of new channels for high-level cooperation between China and other developing countries, especially emerging economies, thus ushering in a new era for South-South cooperation. The proposal is another milestone in the development of the cooperative partnership between China and Latin America, after Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a new "1+3+6" formula to promote bilateral cooperation, which focuses on cooperation of trade, investment and financing, during an official visit to the region in July 2014. Latin America is not only an important cornerstone for world peace and stability, but also an emerging force for global prosperity and economic growth. The region boasts vast potential for economic development. In face of the global economic slowdown, the promotion of international production capacity cooperation, starting from infrastructure construction, will bring a new growth point to the global economy and the development of all economies. In addition, the new mode also provides new means for North-South cooperation, as part of the high-quality production capacity transferred from China to Latin America comes from enterprises in developed countries. With China and Latin America continuing to deepen their cooperative ties, those developed countries have also indirectly taken part in the two sides' production capacity cooperation. Therefore, China-Latin America production capacity cooperation, which is open to third parties, does not only seek win-win results for China and Latin America, but also an all-win scenario for both developing and developed countries, The new proposal also comes along with China's initiative on building a "community of common destiny for all mankind," which conforms to the trend of world development and international cooperation. Under the lingering effect of the global financial crisis, it is important for China to engage in cooperation with emerging economies, including Latin American countries, which are short of funds and have a weak foundation in technology, infrastructure and industrialization. China, as the world's second largest economy and the largest developing country, has charted a series of grand blueprints for world development, including the "Belt and Road" initiative. The Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road plans proposed by China in 2013 for improved cooperation with countries in a vast part of Asia, Europe and Africa. It has also worked with other parties to design a number of new development modes like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund. In view of specific conditions and issues in international cooperation, China has proposed a multi-level development strategy for win-win cooperation with different countries, such as the new mode of "three times three," which gives full play to China's advantages and meets demand of Latin American nations. As a matter of fact, production capacity cooperation between China and Latin America has already been put into practice. By the end of 2014, China had signed deals in Latin America worth more than 110 billion U.S. dollars in the areas of natural gas, pipelines, electric power generation, highways, ports, housing, telecommunications and railways. During his stay in Brazil, Li also announced the establishment of a special fund totaling 30 billion dollars to back up production capacity cooperation between China and Latin America. Starting with China-Latin America production capacity cooperation, a new way will be found for upgrading the cooperation mode between China and developing countries, as well as among developing countries and between developing countries and developed countries. China's wisdom and initiatives will undoubtedly boost in-depth development of cooperation between China and other countries, improve the pattern of international development, and ease structural imbalance, so as to inject fresh impetus into the world economy. ^ top ^

Experts believe Shangri-La Dialogue major platform for cooperation in Asia-Pacific (Xinhua)
2015-06-01
Although one of the main topics has been the South China Sea issue at the Shangri-La Dialogue, experts and officials have agreed that the security forum is still an important platform to promote collaboration and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. China's Defense Ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said the Shangri-La Dialogue, which concluded on Sunday, offered multilateral channels for governments and scholars to exchange views, while military officials and delegates could also use this platform to conduct communications to enhance mutual trust. "It is good for better collaboration and regional security," he said. During the three-day event, Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the General Staff of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), met separately with military officials and delegates from 13 countries, and exchanged views on issues such as regional security and bilateral military ties. Organized by London-base International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Shangri-La Dialogue brought together defense ministers, senior officials and security experts to exchange views on key issues that shape the defense and security landscape of the region. The annual security summit has been widely recognized as Asia-Pacific's foremost defense and security platform. Just days before the forum, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter set a strong tone by claiming that China was "out of step" with both international rules and norms that underscore the Asia- Pacific's security architecture. However, in his speech on Saturday, the U.S. defense chief spent most of the time talking about the importance of regional cooperation and also vowed to build better habits of U.S.-China military-to-military cooperation, which "not only benefits both countries but the whole region as well." Sun, who delivered his speech on Sunday, also emphasized that China was committed to promoting win-win cooperation and a new model of international relations that meets the security and development needs of all countries. "Confrontation must be replaced with cooperation and zero-sum game with mutual benefits if the purposes and principles of the UN Charter are to be carried forward. And this is also the way to achieve peaceful development," he said. Tseng Hui-Yi, a research associate in East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, told Xinhua that communication played an utmost role in maintaining regional security. Despite the existence of differences, it was necessary to keep the doors open, and the Shangri-La Dialogue was the platform to relieve pressure. "No matter how fierce the conversation is, it is at least a form of communication," she said. Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow with S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies of Singapore Nanyang Technological University, believed China's participation in the dialogue helped other countries better understand its position. "China's continuous participation in the dialogue for many years would indeed, for example, clarify some misunderstanding in the international community against China, as well as deepen China 's understanding of what the wider international community is thinking in terms of defense, collective security and so on." He said China should continue to join the Shangri-La Dialogue as it will make a very constructive voice about how China views the regional security architecture. Oh also pointed out that the overdue spotlight shed on the South China Sea disputes has led to the neglect of other issues that deserve equal attention, including anti-terrorism and humanitarian aid. Although these topics were brought up at this meeting, they were not fully discussed. "The Shangri-La Dialogue shouldn't just focus on a single regional issue that is currently still under control," he said. Echoing Oh, Jin Yinan, a military strategist at the National Defense University of the PLA, also expressed his concern. "There' s a trend that delegates and the media are opt to intensify contradiction," he said, adding that the dialogue should not be a breeding bed for stirring up conflicts, but a place to solve problems. ^ top ^

China to stage military exercises on border with strife-torn Myanmar (SCMP)
2015-06-02
The People's Liberation Army will conduct live-fire drills near the Myanmar border from today. Analysts say the drills are meant to send a message to Myanmar, which is struggling to contain its fight against an ethnic insurgency from spilling over the border. In the past three months, stray bombs have caused Chinese casualties and thousands of Myanmese have crossed into Yunnan province. Troops from the army and air force would stage the drill along the border of Gengma and Zhenkang counties in Yunnan, which neighbours Myanmar, said PLA Chengdu Military Area Command spokesman Zhao Picong. He did not say when the drill would end, but state news agency Xinhua said an announcement would be made "in due course". Zhao said China had notified Myanmar of the drill. The exercise would take place in a restricted area and there would be no interruption to daily life, said Zhao. Tensions have flared in the border area since Myanmese government troops fought insurgents in the country's northeastern Shan state in February. In March, the battle spilled over to Yunnan when a Myanmese plane accidentally dropped a bomb on a sugarcane plantation in Gengma county, killing five Chinese and injuring eight. Last month, two bombs injured five people in Zhenkang county. Beijing responded by sending fighter jets to patrol the border, with Premier Li Keqiang promising to "resolutely protect" citizens. Yue Gang, a military commentator and a retired military officer, said the exercise was clearly meant to send a message to Myanmar over its failure to contain the conflict. "In addition to the bombing incidents, China has also been provoked by the intrusion over the Chinese border of a number of Myanmese," Yue said. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the drill was a "normal activity" for the military, but confirmed that China had called on Myanmar to ensure the safety of the border. Nearly 90,000 civilians in northeastern Myanmar were thought to have fled the fighting, Agence France-Presse reported. It said at least 30,000 people from Myanmar, mostly the ethnically Chinese Kokang, had crossed into Yunnan. Yue said this explained why the PLA had not specified when the exercise would end. "This is to show that Beijing is really unhappy about the issue." Residents in Gengma and Zhenkang said the areas were relatively peaceful. "We have heard about the start of the exercise, but so far we have not felt the tension," a driver in Gengma said. A restaurant operator in Gengma said he had been told to follow traffic orders by local and military authorities. Asked whether he knew anything about the fighting in Myanmar, he said he knew only that it was serious. A hotel clerk in Zhenkang said that since the bombing there had been calm. "I was told there is no war during the day now on the Myanmar side. Some of our hotel guests have even gone there for day visits." ^ top ^

Myanmar government says 126 soldiers killed in fighting with Kokang rebels (SCMP)
2015-06-02
The Myanmar government said that 126 soldiers have been killed and 359 injured so far in fighting with the Kokang ethnic army that has seen tens of thousands of people flee into neighbouring China. The conflict erupted in the remote region of Shan state on February 9, and Myanmar government air strikes have struck Chinese territory, killing several civilians and prompting a rebuke from Beijing. The conflict has also overshadowed a wider bid to secure a nationwide ceasefire with a host of other rebel groups as the country edges towards breakthrough elections after decades of junta rule. State-owned Myawaddy television also reported that Myanmar government soldiers have recovered 74 bodies of ethnic Chinese rebels from the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), arrested 22 MNDAA fighters and confiscated considerable amounts of munitions. There are no clear figures for the number of civilians killed or wounded in the remote, rugged area. However state media said government forces have cleared numerous explosive mines and barricades on roads in the northeastern Kokang region. During the latest offensive, government forces seized four more strategic hilltops and villages, the government said. At the end of March negotiators from the Myanmar government and ethnic armed groups signed a draft nationwide ceasefire agreement. ^ top ^

AIIB in quest for 'best bank' standards, says French ambassador to China (SCMP)
2015-06-02
Member states of the US$100 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank aim to put high standards of internal governance in place, ensuring the lender becomes "the best bank possible", according to France's ambassador to China. In an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne said chief negotiators from the AIIB's 57 prospective founding members met in Singapore last month to discuss governance goals, including sustainability, safeguards, debt policy and procurement. Finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the Group of Seven industrialised nations - four of which are AIIB founding members - met on Friday, urging the new lender to follow international standards and ensure transparency. "We want to build up with other founding members the best bank possible, the most solid, the one that can lend money efficiently to countries that require the money," Gourdault-Montagne said. Beijing has pledged to streamline the bank's governance and avoid the inefficient practices of lenders dominated by the West. The United States, in particular, has publicly expressed concern over how the AIIB - which is due to be launched by the end of this year - would operate. But that has not dissuaded some of its closest allies such as Britain and France from signing up. There were some "good practices" and "some difficulties and some hurdles" in the members' discussions so far, Gourdault-Montagne said, without elaborating. Another diplomat told the Post earlier that the bank was likely to adopt a high voting threshold for "key decisions". The mechanism would mirror that of some existing lenders, although those institutions have also been criticised for inefficiency. Gourdault-Montagne said the AIIB should not sacrifice rules for efficiency. "Of course we want the bank to be efficient. But we should also respect the rules." Responding to a report that Asian members would have 75 per cent of the AIIB's voting rights, Gourdault-Montagne said: "This is the beginning. There are Asian countries and non-Asian countries, founding countries and non-founding countries … We know the rules at the beginning are such and then there'll be discussions." He also said the capital split among nations would take factors such as gross domestic product into consideration. France felt it necessary to join the AIIB because of its economic links with China in a range of areas from nuclear power to aerospace manufacturing, as well as their long-standing political ties, Gourdault-Montagne said. "It's always better to be in than to be out," he said. He said the members would discuss whether the AIIB would have a branch office in Europe. He also said Jin Liqun, secretary general of the AIIB's multilateral interim secretariat, was talented and experienced. "He is also someone who knows the interests of China. He has a farsighted vision about what the bank must be.". ^ top ^

Russia-China joint sea drills show high-level coordination (Xinhua)
2015-06-02
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Monday praised recently-ended joint Russia-China sea drills "Joint Sea-2015" for high-level coordination. "The training generally demonstrated a high level of interaction between Russian and Chinese sailors. All combat training tasks were fulfilled with good and excellent results," Shoigu said at a defense meeting. Russia plans to continue such "important" joint operative and combat training exercises with China, he was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying. The "Joint Sea-2015" drills, which lasted for 11 days in the Mediterranean and involved six Russian and three Chinese ships, focused on military exercises of maritime defense, replenishment and escorting. It was the fourth since joint China-Russia sea drills began in 2012. During the meeting, Shoigu also reviewed recent snap drills carried out in the central military district. "The surprise check tested the ability of the district troops and forces to deter hostile air attacks and to carry out air strikes on extremists' bases," he said. Meanwhile, the minister announced that massive military infrastructure construction was underway on "several Arctic islands of Kotelny, Wrangel, Alexandra Land, as well as on Cape Schmidt and archipelagos like Novaya Zemlya." "The infrastructure construction is going on stage by stage, while a broad range of measures are planned to equip the troops and the Arctic zone," Shoigu said." ^ top ^

Hundreds of Chinese cancel travel plan to S. Korea on MERS fears (Global Times)
2015-06-02
Hundreds of Chinese people have canceled their travel plan to South Korea, where two deaths and tertiary infections with the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) were identified Tuesday. South Korea's top travel agency Hana Tour was quoted by Yonhap News Agency as saying that about 300 Chinese people dropped their travel plan to the country amid growing fears over the MERS spread. The second-biggest travel agency Mode Tour hasn't finished yet the calculation of the number of Chinese tourists who canceled travel plans, indicating the number would rise further. As of Tuesday, the total number of South Koreans diagnosed with the viral disease surged to 25 as six more cases were identified. It was the third-highest number in the world except Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE). Among the new cases were two tertiary infections, raising fears over an exponential increase in contagion. Two infectees passed away on Monday and Tuesday each, marking the first deaths since May 20 when the patient zero was tested positive for the viral disease. The MERS is a respiratory illness caused by a new type of corona-virus that is similar to the virus causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). There is no vaccine or treatment for the disease, with its fatality rate reaching 40.7 percent. The first case was spotted in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The World Health Organization has reported more than 1,000 cases of MERS globally and more than 400 deaths. ^ top ^

China, Pakistan pledge to strengthen military cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-06-03
Senior military officials from China and Pakistan met on Tuesday in Beijing, pledging to strengthen practical cooperation in such areas as training, military equipment, and anti-terrorism. In his meeting with visiting Pakistan Air Force Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission, said the Chinese military is willing to work with the Pakistan counterpart to maintain the growth momentum of military-to-military exchanges and beef up pragmatic cooperation in training, equipment and anti-terrorism. "China and Pakistan have become 'iron friends', always trusting and supporting each other," Fan said. He expressed his hope the two countries' military cooperation will contribute to regional peace and stability. Pakistan has always placed the two country's bilateral relationship as a top priority, Sohail said. Pakistan is willing to join hands with China to strengthen all-round military-to-military exchanges and cooperation, particularly in the air force. Sohail hoped the two countries' military cooperation will provide a safe and secure environment for China-Pakistan economic corridor and deepen their all-weather friendship and all-dimensional cooperation. ^ top ^

France sends condolences to China over ship sinking (Global Times)
2015-06-03
France on Tuesday sent its condolences to China over the sinking of a cruise boat on the Yangtze River on Monday which so far has left seven dead and over 400 people unaccounted for, a government official said. "We were extremely shocked to learn of the sinking. France extends its condolences to the victims' families. Our thoughts are also with the families of the hundreds of people who are missing," Romain Nadal, France's foreign ministry spokesperson, said at a daily e-press briefing. "In these tragic circumstances, France assures the Chinese authorities and people of its solidarity," he added. There were over 450 people onboard the Eastern Star when it sank "within one or two minutes" after being hit by a tornado in Jianli, Hubei Province, according to the ship's captain and chief engineer, who both survived. As of Tuesday night, 14 people had been rescued, with seven others confirmed dead and about 430 missing. ^ top ^

UN chief 'saddened' by ship accident in China (Global Times)
2015-06-03
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday that he was "deeply saddened" to learn of the major loss of life as a result of a passenger ship accident on the Yangtze river in China. "The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the victims and also sends his deep sympathies to the Government and people of China. He fervently hopes more survivors will be found," said a statement of Ban's spokesperson. With 458 people onboard, the passenger ship, named Dongfangzhixing, or Eastern Star, sank at around 9:28 p.m. local time Monday after being caught in a cyclone in the Jianli section of the river, China's longest, according to the Yangtze River navigation administration. So far, a total of 15 people have been rescued from the capsized ship, and another five were confirmed dead. Rescuers said there could be more survivors. ^ top ^

More Chinese law firms looking for overseas work (China Daily)
2015-06-03
More Chinese law firms have established branches overseas to provide legal services to Chinese enterprises setting up abroad. Chinese companies, especially small and middle-sized ones, have extended their business overseas as China's economy has become stronger in the past few years, according to Li Mingquan, a lawyer in London. In the process, Chinese enterprises have met legal difficulties that often could have been avoided if they had been given better legal advice before they entered the market, said Li, who has worked for the Ying Ke Law Firm in Britain for more than 15 years. In 2010, the firm launched a legal project to help Chinese enterprises before they extend overseas. "We help the companies research the foreign investment environment and partners' qualifications, as well as inform them how to register in Britain and draft legal documents," she said. "The service can reduce misunderstanding and unnecessary trouble for Chinese companies that are unfamiliar with foreign legal procedures and language," she added. The Ying Ke Law Firm has more than 4,000 lawyers and has set up offices worldwide, including in the United States, France and Germany. It continues to upgrade its legal services to adapt to the legal demands of different countries. In Beijing, the Jing Shi Law Firm is also considering extending its business to Europe, "because lots of European nations have established good commercial ties with China and need our energetic economy", said Liu Honghui, who is in charge of the firm's international office. The increase in foreign-related cases has also raised the requirements for Chinese judges. In 2013, Chinese courts tackled 5,272 family cases involving foreigners, mostly divorces, custody and property rights matters, a rise of 26 percent year-on-year, the Supreme People's Court said. Moreover, Chinese maritime courts handled 11,224 marine cases last year, according to the Supreme People's Court. It added that foreign-related marine disputes heard in China have involved 73 countries and regions, including Japan, Britain and the United States. Ensuring the quality of case hearings and improving the judicial image have become more important, the top court said. ^ top ^

China takes two-track approach to censoring Singapore debate (SCMP)
2015-06-04
Beijing imposed a two-track propaganda strategy on state media during the security forum in Singapore last week, banning the coverage of tensions in the South China Sea in Chinese-language reports, but allowing it in foreign-language reports. While overseas media focused on South China Sea issues during the annual Shangri-La Dialogue from Friday to Sunday, state media reporting in Chinese were told not to cover the topic, to avoid stoking nationalism. “The order came from high up, probably from the Communist Party's top publicity department, not from our editorial section head,” one reporter told the South China Morning Post. However, journalists at state-owned media outlets reporting in foreign languages were exempted from the censorship. Correspondents and hosts from Central Television's English-language channel were allowed to talk to foreign delegates and experts on the issue. Some young journalists reporting in Chinese got around the censorship by sending live broadcasts to their head offices, without sending written scripts – a popular measure at state media outlets to avoid being censored by propaganda departments. “For many years, foreign-language journalists working for state media on the mainland have enjoyed more privileges than their Chinese-language colleagues because of their different audiences,” Qiao Mu, dean of the Centre for International Communication Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said. “The propaganda leaders believe common civilians watching Chinese channels and reading Chinese newspapers are easily incited to nationalism. “That's why we find the standpoints of the English version of the Global Times can be so different from the Chinese edition.” Tensions in the South China Sea and Sino-US ties have mounted in recent weeks since US broadcaster CNN reported the Chinese navy had warned a US reconnaissance plane against flying over the area. On the opening day of the Singapore dialogue, Washington accused China of placing mobile artillery on a reclaimed island and called on Beijing for “an immediate and lasting halt” to the practice, drawing a strongly worded response from the Chinese foreign ministry. However, experts in Sino-US relations said that despite this, the Chinese delegation avoided sensitive topics, such as how it might respond if the US followed through on its threats to send aircraft and warships within 12 nautical miles of China's artificial islands. They said such topics could easily stoke nationalism among Chinese. The Chinese delegation had been briefed to promote the country's “One Belt, One Road” strategy for regional development, which meant it was best to avoid obvious conflict at the forum, said one expert. Huang Jing, a professor of US-China Relations at National University of Singapore, said Beijing had been carefully and skilful in dealing with sensitive issues, especially involving Sino-US and Sino-Japanese relations that could easily stoke nationalism. “Beijing has found nationalism may be effective in upholding the party regime by pointing to China's 'century of humiliation', but such nationalism could mess up the 'One Belt, One Road' strategy,” he said. ^ top ^

China rejects misinterpretation of lntl laws on South China Sea (Global Times)
2015-06-04
China on Wednesday rejected certain parties' misinterpretations of international law on territorial disputes in the South China Sea, saying its activities in the region were "legitimate and reasonable." Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was responding to the words of US President Barack Obama, who on Monday said China should "throwing elbows" in the South China Sea. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also said China should abide by international norms. "Even if these interpretations are not double standards, they come with ulterior motives," Hua said at a regular press briefing. "What [international] law forbids China to conduct reasonable construction on its own islands and reefs? What law allows close reconnaissance by warships and planes of another country's islands and reefs? What law allows the infringement of sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests in the name of freedom of navigation?" Hua asked. She said China's activities in the South China sea were legitimate and reasonable. China always safeguards and plays a constructive role for the international laws and rules. "China will not violate international laws nor harm others to benefit itself. However, it will safeguard its own sovereignty, security and development interests," Hua stressed. She said she hoped relevant countries could maintain an objective and just attitude, and play a constructive role in the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. ^ top ^

China deeply shocked by 'absurd' Aquino comments (Global Times)
2015-06-04
China is deeply shocked by, and ­opposes strongly, the "absurd" comments made by Philippine President Benigno Aquino that likened China to Nazi Germany, according to ­China's foreign ministry. "We are deeply shocked at, strongly dissatisfied with and opposed to the absurd remarks made by the Philippine leader," said Hua Chun­ying, spokesperson of China's foreign ­ministry, on Wednesday. During Aquino's visit to ­Japan on Wednesday, he made a ­comparison between China's ­activities in the South China Sea and Nazi ­Germany's expansion before World War II, ­hinting that the US should intervene. "If there was a vacuum, if the United States... says 'we are not ­interested,' perhaps there is no brake to ambitions of other countries," ­Aquino said. Hua went on to claim that the Philippines has illegally occupied Chinese islands and harassed ­China's fishing boats and fishermen since the 1970s. "It is still the Philippines who has collided with countries outside the region and slung mud at China in pursuit of its selfish gains over recent years," Hua said. China is a responsible ­country that honors commitments and ­remains dedicated to resolving relevant ­disputes through negotiation and consultation with countries directly concerned, Hua noted. "I once again solemnly urge some people from the Philippines to ­discard illusions, stop provoking and come back to the right track of ­resolving disputes through bilateral ­negotiation and consultation," Hua warned, adding that the ­Chinese ­government is resolute in ­safeguarding territorial sovereignty and ­maritime rights and interests. ^ top ^

China-U.S. common interests outweigh differences (Xinhua)
2015-06-04
The common interests between China and the United States outweigh their differences as they are having more cooperation than disagreement despite the recent dispute over the South China Sea, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said Tuesday. Speaking to reporters at a welcome reception held at the Chinese Embassy for newly-appointed Minister Li Kexin, Cui noted that there always exists a big picture in the China-U.S. relations, and that ensuring healthy and steady development of the bilateral ties is not only in the interest of both sides, but also the global responsibility shared by them. "If we both can keep the general situation in mind, then it will be easier to resolve some specific problems" in the bilateral relations," the Chinese envoy said. It is inevitable that differences, disagreements and even conflicts of interest exist in the China-U.S. ties, but there are always more areas in which the two sides need to cooperate. "This situation will never change," Cui said. In his speech at the reception, Cui pointed out that the China-U.S. ties are at a "critical juncture" this year, as the two sides will hold a series of high-level dialogues and talks. The two sides are to hold the seventh annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the sixth High-level Consultation on People-to-people Exchange in Washington late the month. And, most importantly, Chinese President Xi Jinping is to pay his first state visit to the United States in September. "China's relationship with the U.S. is at a critical juncture now. The choices we make will make difference for the relationship not only in the next year or two, but also even for a longer period," Cui said. Despite all the existing disagreements, which are sometimes exaggerated by the media, China and the United States "do have growing mutual needs and common interests. We're connected in so many ways and we're working together on so many fronts," the veteran diplomat said. He said the two countries enjoy common interest in security, economy, finance, trade, and mutual investment, and share responsibilities in dealing with many regional and global issues, like climate change, non-proliferation, countering terrorism, disease-control, and disaster relief. "So it's quite clear that our common interests far outweigh any possible differences between our two great countries, and there's certainly no alternative for us but to build up this new model of relationship between us," Cui said. On the recent dispute over the South China Sea that has raised tensions in the China-U.S. ties, Cui blamed Washington for "creating something out of nothing." He said that the South China Sea should not have become an issue between Beijing and Washington in the first place, because Washington is not one of the claimants. He reiterated that China's construction activities in the region fall well within the scope of its sovereignty. On the ongoing visit to the United States by Tsai Ing-wen, chair of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party and its sole candidate for the 2016 leadership election, Cui said that Washington knows very well about China's position on its ties with Taiwan, which strongly opposes the island's independence. Commenting on media reports that Tsai is in fact doing an "interview test" in Washington to seek U.S. endorsement before the 2016 election, Cui advised that she should instead pass the test by 1.3 billion Chinese on the Mainland by accepting the one-China principle rather than playing deceptive tricks through making ambiguous statements on whether she will abandon her ambition to seek the island's independence. ^ top ^

France's top tourist attractions launch Chinese social media accounts to boost visitor numbers (SCMP)
2015-06-05
Some of France's most famous attractions are trying to attract internet-savvy tourists from mainland China, with the Louvre, the Palace of Versailles, and the national monuments centre all announcing the launch of Chinese-language accounts on WeChat and Weibo. The Louvre – the Paris museum that houses the Mona Lisa – announced on Thursday that it had launched a WeChat account in Chinese. Internet users can find the account by searching for either the Louvre's Chinese name, or by its account name in English, “louvremuseum”. The WeChat account provides a map of the museum, a visitors' guide, and information on its history and latest exhibitions in Chinese. WeChat has more than 400 million users in mainland China. “Please follow us on WeChat to find out more secrets about the Louvre,” the museum said in a post on its Weibo account, which it launched in May. The museum's Weibo account already has more than 1,700 followers and has posted 25 messages. The Palace of Versailles, a national landmark on the western outskirts of Paris, launched a Chinese WeChat account on Tuesday. The account was aimed at having “better communications with Chinese tourists”, it said on its website. WeChat users can follow the palace by scanning the QR code on the website or by searching for its account name “chateau-versailles”. The account provides a travel guide, historical information, a schedule of its shows and details of its exhibitions in Chinese. Le Centre des Monuments Nationaux, run by France's Ministry for Culture and Communication, launched a Chinese Weibo account in May. The centre manages nearly 100 national monuments including Mont Saint-Michel and the Arc de Triomphe. France is the second most popular destination for China's luxury travellers, according to a recent report by Hurun. Australia came top. Europe was the dream destination for the next three years among so-called “super-travellers” – those who had spent at least US$30,000 on travel in the past year, the study said. There was a 61 per cent increase in visas granted to Chinese visitors last year from 2013, according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It said applications had been boosted by the introduction last year of a fast-track, 48-hour visa for Chinese travellers. In the first two months of the new visa being made available, the number of Chinese visitors increased by 65 per cent from the previous year. Outbound travel by Chinese is expected to grow significantly. Brokerage firm CLSA recently estimated outbound trips by Chinese tourists would double to 200 million from 98 million in 2013. ^ top ^

Guangdong may set up own Silk Road fund as it implements China's 'One Belt, One Road' strategy (SCMP)
2015-06-05
Guangdong might set up a provincial Silk Road fund to support local firms investing overseas as part of China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative, according to a senior provincial official. The southern province announced on Wednesday how it would implement the national strategy that seeks to boost links between the country and nations along the historic Silk Road trade route, which stretches from Asia to Africa. The Guangdong programme would focus on the "Maritime Silk Road", economic and trade cooperation, and ties with Hong Kong and Macau, Nanfang Daily reported yesterday. The provincial development and reform commission chief, He Ningka, told the newspaper officials were considering setting up the province's own Silk Road fund to give more financing options to local firms keen on expanding overseas. This would encourage more private firms to invest in "One Belt, One Road", he said, without giving details of the size or model of the fund. Beijing launched the US$40 billion national Silk Road Fund in February. Its chief, veteran central banker Jin Qi, has said the fund was "not an aid agency" and would invest in projects with guaranteed returns. The Guangdong official, He, said that under the national initiative, the local government had rolled out 40 key construction tasks until 2017 and produced a project list with an estimated investment of US$55 billion. The list covers six areas - basic infrastructure, energy and resources, agriculture, fishing, manufacturing and the service industry. The programme aimed to forge more global shipping and aviation hubs targeting Silk Road countries by strengthening port construction and increasing international air routes in cities across the province, He said. It also includes cooperation with Hong Kong and Macau in shipping and cross-border infrastructure development, leveraging the two cities' financial and professional services. Professor Lin Jiang, of Sun Yat-sen University, doubted the Guangdong fund would attract enough private investment. "Guangdong is struggling financially even as an affluent province," Lin said. "A provincial fund would be meaningless if it is too small, as infrastructure projects of such magnitude would cost hundreds of billions of yuan. "I also think it will be difficult to attract private funding, especially in light of the recent vibrant stock market." ^ top ^

SCO FMs discuss strategy for future development (Xinhua)
2015-06-05
Foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Wednesday discussed the strategy for the bloc's future development and made preparations for an SCO summit in the Russian city of Ufa in July. The ministers decided to formulate the future strategy based on the SCO Development Strategy until 2025 which will promote cooperation among member states in politics, security, economy and culture. They adopted a draft resolution on granting SCO membership to India and Pakistan, an enlargement the ministers believe is of great significance to deepen SCO member states' cooperation with its observers and dialogue partners. Also adopted at the meeting was a draft statement on the 70th anniversary of the victory of World War II. The ministers noted that SCO member states and other countries made great contributions to the anti-Fascist war. As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, the ministers stressed the need to consolidate the UN mechanism of global governance, calling for the need to uphold its key role endowed by the UN Charter in maintaining world peace and security. The ministers approved the draft of the Outline of Cooperation in the Fight Against Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism for 2016-2018, and vowed to work closely to crack down on narcotics trade. The ministers also called for dialogue and consultation to such hotspot issues as the situation in Afghanistan and Syria, the Ukraine crisis as well as Iranian nuclear issue. Founded in 2001, the SCO has China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as its full members, with Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers and Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka as dialogue partners. Russia holds the rotating presidency of the SCO in 2015. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

All eyes on Beijing as China, world's largest tobacco consumer, bans public smoking (SCMP)
2015-06-01
Beijing has banned smoking in restaurants, offices and on public transport from Monday, part of unprecedented new curbs welcomed by anti-tobacco advocates, though how they will be enforced remains to be seen. Health activists have pushed for years for stronger restrictions on smoking on the mainland, the world's largest tobacco consumer, which is considering further anti-smoking curbs nationwide. Under the rules, anyone in the capital who violates the ban, which includes smoking near schools and hospitals, must pay a 200 yuan (HK$250) fine. The present fine, which is seldom enforced, is just 10 yuan. Anyone who breaks the law three times will be named and shamed on a government website. Businesses, meanwhile, can be fined up to 10,000 yuan for failing to stamp out smoking on their premises. "Restaurant staff have a duty to try to dissuade people from smoking," said Mao Qunan, of the National Health and Family Planning Commission. "If they don't listen to persuasion, then law enforcement authorities will file a case against them." The government would also no longer allow cigarettes to be sold in shops within 100 metres of primary schools and kindergartens, according to state media. Smoking is a major health crisis on the mainland, where more than 300 million smokers have made cigarettes part of the social fabric, and millions more are exposed to secondhand smoke. More than half of mainland smokers buy cigarettes at less than five yuan a pack. The legislature passed a law last month banning tobacco advertisements in mass media, on public transport and in outdoor public spaces. Many mainland cities have banned smoking in outdoor public places, but enforcement has been lax. Bright red banners, typically used to display government slogans, have been posted around Beijing with anti-smoking messages. The city has also set up a hotline on which violators can be reported. The names of people and companies who violate the rules more than three times would be posted on a government website for a month, state radio said. Anti-tobacco advocates said they were more confident in the government's will to enforce the bans after a series of tougher measures in recent months, including a higher tobacco tax. "We couldn't say this is the strongest law in the world," said Angela Pratt, of the World Health Organisation's Tobacco Free Initiative. "But it's certainly up there with the strongest, in that there are no exemptions, no exceptions and no loopholes on the indoor smoking ban requirement." ^ top ^

Chinese judges quitting due to low pay and bureaucratic intervention (SCMP)
2015-06-01
Approaching 45, Dr Liao Yaozhong has only recently launched his career as a private sector lawyer. But his decision to make a new start, after quitting his job as deputy judicial bureau chief of Hengyang, Hunan province, in December 2013, was no hasty decision caused by a mid-life crisis. "Some say I'm a nerd but I would rather be a nerd than go against my conscience and morals," said Liao. Liao is far from alone in deciding to leave behind the Communist Party-controlled justice system. In recent years the nation's lower level judicial offices and courts have been experiencing particularly high turnovers due to resignations. More than 500 people had either resigned or asked to be transferred from Beijing's city court system in the past five years, citing low pay and high pressure, China Economic Weekly reported last week. Liao made national headlines in 2011 for coming to blows with his boss Wan Chunsheng, who was then Hengyang justice bureau chief. The fight started because Wan had wanted to transfer a staff member to the legal aid centre overseen by Liao, without following the usual vetting procedure. "I realised I wasn't much use to the [government] institution. I studied law but I was restrained in many ways due to bureaucratic intervention," Liao said. "Some of my colleagues understood nothing about law or would not follow it and this meant there wasn't much point for me to stay on." People's Daily, a party mouthpiece, called this week for more measures to retain judges. It noted that judges' remuneration had increased as part of ongoing judicial reform; in Shenzhen judges' pay had risen 10 per cent. It also called for judges to be given more independence, free of bureaucratic intervention. Jiang Yangbing, 33, spent eight years as a judge in the Zhanjiang Municipal Intermediate People's Court. Today he is waiting for approval of his licence as a private sector lawyer in Shenzhen. Jiang graduated with a major in archaeology from Zhejiang Normal University in 2006 before passing one of the most difficult professional examinations on the mainland, the National Judicial Exams. His score was the highest in Zhanjiang. Even so, when he joined the Zhangjiang city court his salary was only 2,000 yuan (HK$2,500) a month. He soon realised the idea of being a judge was quite different to the reality. By the time he left last year his salary was slightly more than 4,000 yuan a month, despite his promotion to deputy chief of the administrative court, which oversees cases involving civilians suing government offices. "With judicial reform gradually rolling out, I see more hope at the end of the tunnel," Jiang said. "The demand for legal services will surely increase as people are encouraged to resolve matters through legal means rather than relying on petitions." With his background in administrative cases, Jiang believes he has much to offer and can better serve the people as a lawyer. There was too much bureaucratic intervention into his court, he said. "When I was in charge of the administrative court, over 30 per cent of the verdicts favoured the people over the government. That is much higher than the average 10 per cent seen in other administrative courts," he added. Critics of those who leave the party-controlled justice system suggest many have done so because reforms of the system mean there are fewer opportunities for graft. Jiang says such a suggestion is laughable. "I was nothing but a grass-roots judge dealing with civilians struggling to overturn police detention orders or other government department irregularities. What opportunity for bribes would there be?" he said. The sentiment was shared by Yang Bin, 45, who in March quit her job as a criminal prosecutor in Guangzhou to develop a career as a private sector lawyer. Yang said it required courage and a solid skill set to leave a comfortable government job. People who did not like the system but chose to stay were often parasites too afraid to try something new, she said. "I left because I wanted to pursue my freedom in body and soul," Yang said. When she was a prosecutor, she needed to file requests to travel outside Guangzhou on her days off. "You know your superior would approve these in the end but you needed to file anyway. The institution is not afraid to repeat clumsy and mundane paperwork as a reminder that you are constantly under its control. "There is also never-ending political ideology training so your soul is never free." After quitting, Yang founded a non-government organisation called Tianxiang Compassion, which offers aid and consultation to people whose lives have been affected by criminal cases. Jiang said he believed in the power of law and that if the administration were to stop intervening in the justice system, he would be happy to return either as a judge or prosecutor. "Let's hope I don't need to wait too long," he said. ^ top ^

Condition of MERS patient worsens, 64 quarantined (China Daily)
2015-06-01
The number of people who had been in close contact with the first patient in China with Middle East respiratory syndrome rose to 77 in Guangdong, the provincial Health and Family Planning Commission said on Sunday. Among them, 64 have been quarantined while 13 others, including 11 passengers on a bus to Huizhou boarded by the man, have remained out of contact. None of the quarantined has showed any abnormality. The condition of the first patient, a 44-year-old South Korean man, aggravates, but he is conscious, his vital signs are stable, and his heart rate and blood pressure normal. He flew from Seoul to Hong Kong on Tuesday, a day after his father was diagnosed with MERS, and traveled to Huizhou by bus on the same day, ignoring instructions from doctors to stay home. MERS is a respiratory tract illness caused by the MERS coronavirus. The first known human case was confirmed in Saudi Arabia in 2012, and since then 1,142 cases in 23 countries had been reported up until May 16. There is no vaccine or treatment for the illness. The current outbreak has been traced to a 68-year-old man diagnosed on May 20 after returning from a trip to Saudi Arabia. Eighteen people in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region who had close contact with the patient in Huizhou have been sent to a quarantine camp-including two South Korean women who had earlier been reported to have refused to be quarantined-the Hong Kong Department of Health's Center for Health Protection said on Sunday. ^ top ^

Regulation strengthens CPC's role (Global Times)
2015-06-01
A regulation to strengthen the Communist Party of China's (CPC) role in State organs and non-Party units, especially in social organizations, has been passed over the weekend. "Leading Party members' groups in State organs, economic, cultural as well as social organizations, and other non-Party units are important channels to guarantee the implementation of the line and policies of the Party and the system must be strengthened and improved," read a statement released after a Friday meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, which was presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. "Including social organizations is the highlight of the regulation, while the CPC constitution does not specify such a category," Xu Yaotong, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) which manages social organizations in China, social groups, foundations and private non-enterprise units all fall under its administration. About 613,000 social organizations registered in China as of the end of March, the MCA said. Cai Zhiqiang, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, told the Global Times that it is necessary to set up a leading Party members' group in domestic social organizations - some of which do not have such groups yet - in order to maintain the Party's leadership as the foundation of governance in China. "However, the leading Party members' groups should only serve as a bridge between the Party and social organizations, stressing that they should not excessively interfere in the organizations' management," Cai emphasized. The establishment of Party groups can contribute to the development of service-oriented NGOs such as organizations for elderly care and poverty alleviation, as their services echo government advocacy, according to Zhang Junfeng, founder of the Beijing-based environmental organization Walk Water Wonderful. The regulation helps standardize the work of leading Party members' groups, strengthen the CPC's leadership and improve the Party's capability to govern, according to the Xinhua News Agency. "Some leading Party members' groups have failed to enforce their leading role as their functions and scope of work are vaguely prescribed in the CPC constitution," said Xu. Xu added that the regulation can help fulfill the Party groups' tasks including anti-corruption work. Meanwhile, Cai pointed out that social organizations in the regulation exclude international non-governmental organizations which set up branches in China. "Without the Party's leadership, those organizations are administered in accordance with the law," Cai explained. ^ top ^

Passenger ship carrying more than 450 people sinks in China's Yangtze River (SCMP)
2015-06-02
Rescuers are searching for survivors after a passenger ship carrying more than 450 people sank in the Yangtze River in central China. The Dongfangzhixing, or “Eastern Star”, was headed from the eastern city of Nanjing to the southwestern city of Chongqing when it sank in the Jianli section of the river, in Hubei province, on Monday evening, the state-run news agency Xinhua said. The cause of the sinking was not immediately clear, but the captain of the vessel said the ship was hit by a "tornado".There are conflicting reports about the number of people rescued. About 30 people have been found alive, according to the Hubei Daily newspaper. They include the captain and chief engineer. State television put the number saved so far at 10. One body has been recovered, the Hubei Daily said. An official with the martime bureau said survivors had been found inside the partially sunken vessel and rescue efforts were underway, the newspaper reported. There were 458 people on board when the vessel sank at 9.28 pm, state television CCTV said, including 406 Chinese passengers, five travel agency workers and 47 crew members. State radio reported that the ship sank within about two minutes and that no distress call had been issued. The 406 tourists, aged from around 50 to 80, are on a tour organised by a Shanghai tour group, the People's Daily reported. A local radio station in Hubei reported that 97 of the passengers were from Shanghai, 204 from Jiangsu province, 11 from Zhejiang province, 43 from the city of Tianjin, 23 from Shandong province, 19 from Fujian province, and eight from Anhui. According to CCTV, the vessel -- which measures 76.5 metres in length -- was capable of carrying up to 534 people and was owned by a firm that operated tours in the region of the Three Gorges dam. Xinhua said rescue work was difficult due to bad weather, strong winds and heavy rain. CCTV said Premier Li Keqiang was on his way to the site. China's mightiest river, the Yangzte has killed thousands of people in floods over the years and boat accidents are not uncommon. A total of 22 people, including eight foreigners, were killed when a tugboat sank on the river between the eastern cities of Jingjiang and Zhangjiagang in January. After the January accident, the provincial government said the boat was undergoing trials without properly completing the required procedures and without first reporting the condition of the ship, as required by regulations.. ^ top ^

President Xi urges all-out rescue efforts after ship with 458 people sinks (Xinhua)
2015-06-02
Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered all-out rescue efforts after a passenger ship carrying 458 people sank Monday night in the Hubei section of China's Yangtze River. The ship, named Dongfangzhixing, or Eastern Star, sank at around 9:30 p.m. after being caught in a cyclone in the Jianli section in Hubei Province of the Yangtze River, according to the Yangtze River navigation administration. Xi also ordered learning lessons and enhancing measures to ensure the safety of people's lives. Premier Li Keqiang, along with Vice Premier Ma Kai and State Councilor Yang Jing, has left for the site of the accident to direct the rescue and emergency response work. Li instructed a work team of the State Council to rush to the site to guide search and rescue work. The Ministry of Transport and other departments were ordered to mobilize all resources available to speed up the search and rescue work and the treatment of the rescued people. The ship was carrying 405 passengers, five travel agency workers and 47 crew members, according to the administration. It was heading from Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, to southwest China's Chongqing city. The rescue work is still underway. ^ top ^

Chinese prosecutors to step up supervision of police investigations (Xinhua)
2015-06-02
Chinese prosecutors will strengthen supervision of police investigations to safeguard human rights and prevent wrongful convictions, a top prosecutor said Monday. According to Deputy Procurator-General Sun Qian, the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPC) will explore ways to "set up a supervision mechanism for criminal investigations by the police" and to offer consultation on major cases. The goal is to further incorporate the rule of law into the handling of cases, Sun said, adding that the prevention of miscarriages of justice should be a bottomline requirement. Prosecutors should focus on evidence in criminal cases and scrutinize arrest procedures, Sun said, adding that supervision over judicial and investigative measures that limit individual liberty must also be improved. Sun's remarks follow a number of highly-publicized wrongful convictions that raised concerns over miscarriages of justice in China. One such conviction was that of Huugjilt from Inner Mongolia, who was still a teenager when he was wrongly executed for the rape and murder of a woman in June 1996. A self-confessed serial rapist and killer, Zhao Zhihong, admitted to the crime while in police custody in 2005. In December, Huugjilt had his innocence officially announced by Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regional Higher People's Court. His parents were awarded state compensation of more than 2 million yuan (322,399 U.S. dollars). Zhao was sentenced to death in February for multiple crimes, including the crime that Huugjilt was executed for. ^ top ^

Beijing begins public smoking ban (Global Times)
2015-06-02
Smoking in indoor public places has been banned in Beijing from Monday following the rolling out of new rules dubbed the "strongest ever smoking ban" in China, triggering public concern over how the ban will be enforced in the long term. Over 1,000 employees from the Beijing Health Inspection Institute on Monday launched inspection tours around major public facilities including government buildings, medical institutions, schools, restaurants and entertainment venues. A branch of the Sichuan hotpot chain restaurant Haidilao received the first rectification notice as the no-smoking signs in the restaurant were not in line with requirements. Two cigarette butts were also discovered in its men's room. Wang Benjin, a deputy director with the institute, told the Global Times Monday that such intensive inspections will last three days and after this inspections will continue in a three-month-long campaign to punish violators. Wang said that law enforcement officers cannot monitor all public venues all the time and that they will turn the inspections into a regular routine. All the smoking rooms in Beijing Capital International Airport were required to shut down on Monday. From Beijing to the nation : Previous anti-smoking regulations were rarely obeyed by smokers, as enforcement of the rules was rare. "Most people didn't realize how harmful secondhand smoking is. The rule aims to raise public awareness and curb smoking by combining government efforts, venue owners' management, personal discipline and social supervision together," Wu Yiqun, deputy director of ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development, a Beijing-based NGO, told the Global Times. Wu said that this ban differs from previous efforts to stamp out public smoking as it includes tough punishments for venue owners, which will urge them to dissuade people from smoking. Ensuring that this ban is enforced in the long term depends on different government departments cooperating and the involvement of the public. While those responsible for enforcing the ban should tighten their management, the public should also report violations via a supervision hotline, said Wu. According to The Mirror newspaper, the hotline received 39 calls on Monday morning. A survey conducted by the Beijing Patriotic Health Campaign Committee; the Association on Tobacco Control, an NGO; and 163.com, a news portal; showed that over 60 percent of 100,000 respondents said that they will take action against smokers that flout the ban. Zhang Jianshu, president of the association, said that such a campaign should be spread across China and that the authorities are drafting national regulations. "Curbing smoking doesn't aim to deprive people of their right to smoke, but to free people from being hurt by secondhand smoking," said Zhang. According to the new rules, smoking is banned in all indoor public places including restaurants, office buildings and on public transport. The ban also extends to some open-air spaces such as the grounds of schools, women's and children's hospitals, sports venues and cultural relic protection sites. Individual violators will be fined up to 200 yuan ($32), while a maximum penalty of 10,000 yuan will be imposed on the owners of venues who fail to put up no-smoking signs or who allow smoking in their premises. Health authorities have said that China currently has more than 300 million smokers and more than 1.4 million people in the country die of tobacco-related diseases every year. Beijing has 4.19 million smokers, accounting for 23 percent of the city's total population. Changing times : However, Wu said that tobacco enterprises might pose an obstacle for those seeking a nationwide ban, suggesting a larger hike on tobacco consumption taxes and that cigarette prices should be adjusted. Zhang said the anti-smoking campaign will be a long-term task, but it may have a promising future. According to Zhang, smoking used to be regarded as a symbol of power. Chinese officials and former leaders were often seen smoking in photos or on TV. "Times have changed. The anti-smoking campaign involves not only the public but also the government," he said, adding that President Xi Jinping's wife, Peng Liyuan, is a vocal anti-smoking campaigner and that Xi is never seen in public with a cigarette between his fingers. Since 2009, Peng has served as an ambassador for tobacco control for the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control. In 2013, the Chinese government iss ued a notice, requesting government officials not to smoke in public places and asking local governments to carry out detailed plans to supervise the behavior of officials. ^ top ^

Many netizens fall victim to fraud (China Daily)
2015-06-02
Chinese Internet users may become easy prey to cyberattacks, online malware and online fraud, according to a report released on Monday that stresses the urgency of raising people's cybersecurity awareness. The Chinese netizen cybersecurity report showed that about 55 percent of Chinese netizens have been victims of online fraud. However only 12.3 percent of them chose to contact police. Many of the victims didn't know how to deal with the fraud, especially children and seniors. More than 32 percent of Internet users under age 19, and more than 34 percent above age 60, said they had no idea how to protect their interests when encountering online fraud. The report was released by the Electronic Technology Information Research Institute, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China. More than 254,000 people participated in the survey. Hong Jingyi, head of the institute, said that with the fast development of the Internet economy, the growing cases of online fraud have become a concern for Chinese netizens. "The results also showed that, generally speaking, the awareness of rights protection among netizens is not strong," said Hong. "Seniors lack knowledge to cope with online fraud." Lai Pengfei, an engineer based in Shanghai, said he once lost 1,000 yuan ($160) because someone pretended to be his friend on instant messaging and borrowed money for an emergency. "I reported it to the police immediately, and the police froze the bank account I provided, but I didn't get my money back," said Lai, 28. "Before that, I heard about online fraud many times but I didn't think I would actually encounter this." To cultivate cybersecurity awareness, especially among teenagers, the Cyberspace Administration of China and other State-level departments opened the second Cybersecurity Week on Monday. Lu Wei, head of the CAC, said, "Cybersecurity isn't just about national security and development, but also concerns the immediate interests of every Internet user." Li Yuxiao, a professor of Internet governance at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication, said it will take some time before the public can have a better understanding of cybersecurity's influence on their lives. "The essence of many online fraud cases is about Internet technology, but the technical part is very difficult to understand," said Li. "For Internet users, they just want to know how to tell the good from the bad. So informing the public by example is a very good method." ^ top ^

Yangtze cruise ship sinking 'worst maritime disaster in China's modern history' with more than 400 still missing (SCMP)
2015-06-03
More than 400 people - most of them tourists aged from 50 to 80 - remain missing after a cruise ship carrying 456 people capsized in the Yangtze River during stormy weather on Monday night. The Dongfangzhixing, or Eastern Star, was en route from the eastern city of Nanjing to the southwestern city of Chongqing when it capsized at about 9.30pm on Monday in the Jianli section of the river in Hubei province. The national meteorological administration said a tornado had hit the area at about that time, but it's unclear whether it struck the ship. The PLA was committing 170 divers to the search and rescue efforts, a commander told China Central Television. The first batch of 13 divers sent to search for survivors said it had been very difficult to open the ship's doors underwater, especially given the poor visibility caused by the downpour. Fourteen survivors and the bodies of seven people had been found as of 9pm yesterday, the Yangtze River navigation authorities said. Satellite data released by the China Transport Telecommunication and Information Centre showed the ship had made a 108-degree turn at about 9.20pm. It then travelled for a further 10 minutes before capsizing. The ship had been carrying 405 passengers, 46 crew members and five tour guides, the youngest of whom was only three and the eldest over 80, according to a list of passengers obtained by the mainland media. Zhang Hui, a tour guide from a Shanghai-based tour agency that was a major organiser of the trip, was one of 14 who survived. The ship was sailing through a thunderstorm when it suddenly tilted at an angle of more than 45 degrees, he told the state-run Xinhua news agency. "I tried to tell my colleague that we were in big trouble. But before I was able to finish the sentence, the ship had capsized," he said. He managed to grab a life jacket and climbed out of the window of his bedroom, whiich had filled with water up to his neck. The 43-year-old, who did not know how to swim, floated in the stormy waters for the whole night before tides pushed him to the shore at dawn. Not until Zhang was found by local residents did he realise he had floated some 90km to Yueyang county in neighbouring Hunan province. One of those saved by the rescuers was a 65-year-old female passenger. She appeared to be frightened but conscious as she lifted her blanket and looked around as she was rushed to the ambulance. Deng Zhibo, deputy chairman of a local hospital, said three survivors had been taken to hospital with minor injures including dislocations. The cause of the sinking was not immediately clear, but the captain, who was rescued and then held in custody together with the chief engineer of the ship, told local newspaper the Chutian Metropolis Daily the ship tilted towards its right side after encountering a tornado. The ship capsized within one minute, he said. The meteorological administration confirmed that the Jianli section of the river had recorded a tornado that lasted for 15 to 20 minutes. The nearest weather station, 35km away, recorded winds of up to 16.4 metres per second at the time of the accident. Initial investigations found the ship, which is capable of carrying up to 534 people, was not overloaded and that it had enough life vests on board for the number of passengers it was carrying, state media said. The captain of another passenger ship that left port at around the same time as the Eastern Star on Monday pulled over temporarily at Chibi as the weather deteriorated, but the Eastern Star continued in an effort to arrive in Jingzhou by yesterday afternoon, the Chutian Metropolis Daily said. Relatives of the missing have arrived at the scene of the disaster, waiting for news, the China News Service reported. Family members arrived in two separate buses on Wednesday morning, organised by a travel agency that sold cruise tickets to many on board. Some stood on the river bank praying for the safe return of their loved one, the report said. The heavy rain is expected to continue until Friday morning. In the worst previous incident of its kind in China, the steamship Kiangya blew up on the Huangpu river in 1948, killing more than 1,000 people. ^ top ^

Relatives of missing passengers in Chinese cruise ship tragedy outraged over official silence (SCMP)
2015-06-03
Families of the Shanghai tourists missing since their ship capsized in the Yangtze River expressed outrage last night over what they said was the city government's failure to offer any response to the tragedy. About 100 people gathered at the petition office of Zhabei district after the authorities told them to wait there for any updates. One anxious relative, Ji Fumin, said he had not received any reply to inquiries about progress in the rescue operation, or what families should do at this stage. His wife, her sister-in-law and a friend were on board the ship. "I heard the news from the media this morning and I went to the office of Xiehe Travel only to find its door closed and a notice saying we should call the Hubei Marine Affairs Bureau. But the bureau can't be reached by phone," Ji told the South China Morning Post. Xiehe is the company that organised the tour aboard the Eastern Star, which capsized during severe weather at around 9.30pm on Monday. Ji said he went to the Shanghai municipal government and was told to check with the Zhabei authorities because the agency was located in that district. "We have been waiting here for so many hours … Officials didn't give us any food or water during the day," he said. Relatives said their frustration only grew after learning authorities in Nanjing, the provincial capital of Jiangsu where more than 200 passengers came from, acted swiftly by arranging for relatives to travel to Hubei province, where the accident occurred. Among the 456 people on board, 97 were Shanghai tourists, many of them aged above 50. Xiehe Travel had marketed the trip to the elderly. At 3.30pm, two officials with the district government arrived to speak to the relatives, but the families said they offered nothing constructive. "The two officials didn't give their names or titles. They didn't give us any helpful information," said one man whose uncle and aunt were missing. "The officials said what they knew was also available on the internet and they didn't have more information. This is ridiculous." Chen Lindi said her sister paid more than 4,000 yuan (HK$5,062) for a ticket in a first-class cabin and was travelling with her husband. They both could swim, but the location of their room near the top of the ship meant it would have been deep underwater after the ship capsized. It was unlikely they could have escaped, she said. "My nephew called his mother at 9.05pm, and 25 minutes later, the accident happened," she said. The travel agency's office in Nanjing was also shut yesterday, and a notice asked people to contact the ship company, Dongfang, for more information about the passengers, Xinhua reported. Shanghai's Oriental Morning Post reported that each traveller had bought insurance, up to 200,000 yuan, according to contracts with the relatives. In Chongqing, the families of the 47 crew members on board are also waiting for information. Dongfang has released the names of the crew. ^ top ^

China's graft-busters admit corruption drive has hurt Communist Party (SCMP)
2015-06-03
The corruption campaign that has felled several of China's political, military and business giants is a "double-edged" sword, the anti-graft agency said yesterday, its first public acknowledgment of the toll the drive has taken on the Communist Party. "While it punishes party cadres who have violated discipline and laws, it [also] hurts the organisation, and has caused damage to the party's image," said a commentary published on the website of the Central Committee for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). "The consequences of punishing every cadre who violates discipline and law hurt the party far worse than the individuals." The commentary published on Monday triggered speculation the agency might scale back or even halt its drive to bring down "tigers" - a term for top officials. Graft-busters have detained more than 100 cadres at provincial and ministerial levels since President Xi Jinping launched the drive in 2013. But the campaign is showing signs of slowing down. In April, only one such high-ranking official was held, and the situation was the same in May. Last year, authorities announced at least three high-profile detentions every month. One anti-corruption expert, however, cautioned against reading too much into the use of the term "double-edged sword". "It's not saying there is anything negative about the anti-corruption campaign," said Zhuang Deshui, the deputy director of the Clean Government Centre at Peking University. "Rather it says that the anti-corruption [drive] has hurt both party organisations and individuals. "On one hand, there has been great achievement in striking at corrupt officials, but on the other hand, the general public might wonder if it is because the government is so corrupt that [so many have been caught]." Beijing has signalled several times that graft-busters will shift their focus towards problems in the party structure, such as how appointments are decided. But state media have consistently pushed the message that the campaign will barrel ahead. A recent article carried by state media said there was no sign the party would be more lenient towards corruption. Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said scaling back the drive would be a difficult decision for the party. "Pushing the campaign to this stage, the leadership is not safe either. If opponents don't die, the leadership will be hurt; that's another way to interpret 'double-edged sword'," Zhang said. Speculation about the future of the drive was also stoked by the cancellation of a US visit by CCDI chief Wang Qishan. It had been reported he would visit the United States in April but the trip was postponed. Analysts said he was planning to seek legal cooperation in returning fugitives who had fled overseas. It's unclear why the trip was cancelled. "There are fewer tigers now, but that doesn't mean the 'quality' went down as well," Zhuang said. "This year, the campaign will sweep across state-owned enterprises and there will be new tigers." ^ top ^

14 rescued in Yangtze sinking, over 430 missing (Xinhua)
2015-06-03
Fourteen people have been rescued and seven are confirmed dead more than 24 hours after a passenger ship carrying 456 people capsized in China's Yangtze River, navigation authorities said Tuesday. Rescuers said there could be more survivors in the upturned wreckage, but strong winds and heavy rain are hampering rescue efforts. More than 430 people are still missing. The Eastern Star sank "within one or two minutes" of being caught in a tornado in Jianli, central Hubei Province, on Monday night, according to the ship's captain and chief engineer, who both survived the incident. The Changjiang (Yangtze) River Administration of Navigational Affairs, under the Ministry of Transport, said that as of 9 p.m., 12 people had been rescued from the water, and another two were rescued from the wreckage. Divers are combing the compartments for survivors, while the search on the river has expanded to 150 km downstream of the site and will continue to 220 km, said Li Jiang, vice head of the administration. A team of 4,000, including police, fire fighters and soldiers from the Chinese Navy, are involved in the rescue mission. Carrying mostly elderly tourists, the ship left the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing on May 28 for Chongqing Municipality on the upper reaches of China's longest river. The Ministry of Transport said there were 456 people onboard, including 405 passengers, 46 crew and five tour guides. Most of the passengers were from Shanghai and its neighboring province Jiangsu, aged between 3 and 83. The majority were in their 60s and 70s. The ship's captain and chief engineer are in police custody. Chinese President Xi Jinping has despatched a State Council work team to the site to guide the search and rescue work, and ordered all-out efforts. Premier Li Keqiang, who is at the scene, has asked rescuers to seize every second, battle fatigue and challenge the extremes. At about noon, A 65-year-old woman was able to swim out of the wreckage after divers gave her breathing apparatus. A 21-year-old man was found trapped in a small compartment. He was also given diving apparatus and swam out by himself at about 3 p.m. The Three Gorges Dam, located up-stream from the site of the accident, has limited water flow to counteract the rising water level caused by the persistent rain. The divers said ongoing rescue efforts had been complicated by the intricate layout of the vessel, as well as adverse weather condition. A 500-ton salvage vessel has arrived at the site, and another one of same size is scheduled to arrive Wednesday morning. The 76.5-meter ship can carry up to 534 people. Tickets for the cruise cost from 1,098 yuan (177 U.S. dollars) to 2,298 yuan. Passengers visit attractions during the daytime and return in the evening as the ship travels to the next port overnight. The agency arranging the tour marketed it toward senior citizens. On Monday, the passengers visited Chibi (the Red Cliffs), a famous ancient battlefield. On Tuesday, the tourists were scheduled to visit Jingzhou City. ^ top ^

China's health department steps up precaution against MERS (Global Times)
2015-06-03
The National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) on Tuesday issued a manual on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) for health departments and hospitals. It contains a detailed introduction on the epidemiological history of the disease, its symptoms, laboratory testing, preventative measures, and treatment and care, according to the NHFPC statement. Control measures at hospitals will be heightened and patients complaining of fever will be screened, the statement said. The NHFPC promised to keep the public well informed and give timely warnings. China reported its first MERS patient on Friday in Guangdong Province, south China, who is a man from the Republic of Korea (ROK). The hospital that is treating him told Xinhua Monday that his condition appears to be worsening. Guangdong health department estimates that 77 people have been in close contact with the patient. Among them, 67 have been quarantined while ten bus passengers had yet to be found as of Monday. None of those in quarantine are showing any symptoms of MERS. MERS is a respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, similar to SARS. The first human case emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It has a fatality rate of about 40 percent. According to the NHFPC manual, person-to-person transmission of MERS is limited. However, there is no effective antiviral treatment for MERS and medical care just focuses on alleviating the symptoms. ^ top ^

Draft Chinese law puts NGOs' future on the line (SCMP)
2015-06-04
A proposed law on the management of foreign charities would drive out many groups operating on the mainland and harm domestic non-government organisations that rely on them for funding and help, if enacted in its present form, say experts on NGOs and rights groups. Thursday marks the end of the public consultation period for the draft Foreign NGO Management Law, which is part of a raft of legislation that includes laws on national security and counterterrorism. Although the law's preamble says its aim is to protect foreign NGOs and to "promote exchange and cooperation", the law will severely limit the scope of those organisations, experts say. Analysts said the decision to subject the groups to police oversight and to insist that they "must not endanger China's national unity, national security, or ethnic unity" showed that foreign NGOs were viewed with suspicion as potential subversive forces that could threaten China's national security. The legislation would also require the groups to go through a complicated and restrictive approval process, which will involve so much resources and bureaucracy that many groups would no longer be able to carry on operating, experts say. Under the proposed legislation, foreign NGOs must be sponsored by a government organisation and be registered with the police. Professor Chan Kin-man, a sociologist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said he expected a number of international NGOs would fail to get approval simply because few government agencies would want to take the political risk of sponsoring a foreign organisation. And some independent grass-roots NGOs involved in advocacy, or "sensitive" areas such as labour, gay or sex workers' rights, that had often relied on these foreign groups for funding because of the difficulty of registering legally, might not survive, he said. "They are the most vulnerable group, because they wouldn't dare get funding from foreign groups that had no legal status. This could well be the end of them," Chan said. A staff member at an international NGO operating on the mainland, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said he was worried about the considerable power given to police to oversee foreign NGOs and the domestic NGOs that work with them. "It's rather like having a sword above your head, and you're not entirely sure how close it is to you," he said. According to the draft, police have a say on the annual assessment of foreign NGOs, which determines whether the groups can continue operating. If police investigated an NGO, they could enter its premises, seizing documents and information. The officers could also examine the organisation's bank accounts. The NGO staff member said that in order to survive, many NGOs would probably steer clear of projects in areas that the authorities deemed sensitive, such as democracy and rights. The layers of supervision required by the law, including those overseeing temporary activities, would also stifle international NGO cooperation with domestic partners, he said. Even if a foreign NGO managed to get registered, it could get into trouble for working with unregistered domestic partners, he said. Amnesty International warned that organisations would not be able to predict what kind of activities would run afoul of the law because of the draft's subjective terms, such as "endangering China's national unity, security or ethnic cohesion". One article lists circumstances in which foreign NGO workers could be subjected to criminal liability, including subversion of state power, undermining ethnic harmony or gathering state secrets. "These provisions could curtail activities based on perceived political risk under the guise of national security," the rights group said. "The opportunity for abuse is significant." The promotion of the draft law comes amid a tightening of ideological control across the board. In August 2013, Communist Party journal Qiushi cautioned against "ideological infiltration", saying it was a way for "Western hostile forces to push the agenda of Westernisation and alienation". Chan said the legislation was clearly aimed at preventing a potential "colour revolution" from happening in China and what the authorities see as "the infiltration of foreign hostile forces". But Chinese society would not benefit if independent NGOs were driven out and not allowed to be a check on government. "They're afraid NGOs will turn into a political force with a political agenda," Chan said. "[But] when there is no third sector, corruption, crony capitalism and inequality worsens. In the long run, there will be more grievances … and that will turn into a massive destructive force." NGO workers said it was already hard enough for NGOs to survive and the authorities did not need a draconian new law to deal with them. Some of the country's most progressive, independent NGOs have been targets in the government's ongoing crackdown on civil society. Anti-discrimination group Yirenping has been raided by police, think tank Transition Institute was forcibly shut down and its founder Guo Yushan detained. Yirenping founder Lu Jun, now a visiting scholar in the United States, said his group faced closure and he felt unable to return to China in the present atmosphere. "Shutting out all NGOs is a very unwise move," Lu said. Wan Yanhai, founder of Aids group Aizhixing, who fled China five years ago after often being harassed by the authorities, has seen his once-outspoken group shrunk to a few projects run by around a dozen part-timers. Wan said that if the draft law passed, it would not only hurt the NGOs, but would pose harm to China itself. "China wants to be a world leader, but if you reject your friends, it will damage your relations with the international community," he said. ^ top ^

Rescuers cut into capsized Eastern Star cruise ship as hopes fade for more than 370 missing (SCMP)
2015-06-03
Rescuers began cutting their way into the capsized Eastern Star cruise ship last night as bad weather hampered their search and the chances of survival faded for the more than 370 passengers and crew who are still missing. Salvage workers cut a rectangular hole about half a metre wide on the ship's hull - which is still visible on the surface - for divers to enter, Xinhua reported. Fourteen survivors and 65 bodies had been found as of Thursday. No survivors were found yesterday. The passenger ship was carrying 456 people when it capsized on the Jianli section of the Yangtze River in Hubei during stormy weather on Monday night. The capsized ship had been surrounded by three large salvage vessels, and two more were on their way, state media reported yesterday. Professor You Qinghua, from Shanghai Maritime University, said there was only a "slim" chance that any of the missing could have survived. "The survivors rescued from the ship [on Tuesday] already said they felt breathless," he said. "People can survive after being trapped in debris for 72 hours following an earthquake. But there is no way people could hang in there in a capsized ship for that long." The search-and-rescue mission would continue and another 180 divers had been sent to join the 183 already on site, a transport ministry spokesman said yesterday. Chen Xiang was among the first batch of divers. The diver from the PLA Navy's South Sea Fleet said low visibility underwater hindered the search. "I could not see anything and could rely only on touch," Chen said. "The water was muddy, and the current was strong. It was dark and cold." Chen said it took him 15 minutes before he could reach the second deck of the ship. Something heavy and sharp hit him on the shoulder as he tried to enter a room, forcing him to give up his search. Staff at a Jianli funeral parlour had prepared "a large number" of coffins, local official newspaper Changjiang Daily reported. Premier Li Keqiang bowed in silent tribute to the dead as he arrived at the scene of the rescue yesterday morning. Questions remain over why the ship made a sudden turn 10 minutes before capsizing and whether a tornado recorded in the area at the time of the accident had directly hit the ship. The ship's captain and chief engineer, who both survived, are in police custody. "If the voyage data recorder [the black box of the ship] shows the captain made the turn in the stormy weather instead of losing control [after the ship was hit by strong winds and tides], it would be fair to say he bears responsibility for the tragedy," You said. Chen Yuanjian, a director of the ship's operator, a Chongqing company called Dongfang, admitted the ship's structure had been modified. He said this was done only to meet updated standards from the shipping authorities, news website The Paper reported. Chen Yiylong, a captain from the company, said he did not believe the captain of the Eastern Star would have abandoned his passengers to escape. About 80 family members, frustrated by the paucity of information coming from authorities, hired a bus to make the eight-hour journey from Nanjing to Jianli county in Hubei, where the ship sank. The protesters later broke through a cordon of 20-25 paramilitary police who had tried to stop them at a roadblock. Early on Thursday, the deputy police chief of Jiangsu province, of which Nanjing is the capital, told the relatives they could go to the disaster site only in the daytime. He promised to arrange buses for them to view the boat in the morning, but said journalists were barred from the trip. ^ top ^

Close calls with tragedy on the Yangtze River (SCMP)
2015-06-03
The captain of a passenger ship that was near the Eastern Star when it capsized on Monday night said his vessel narrowly escaped the same fate, according to a mainland media report. The captain, identified only by his surname Li, told the Shanghai Morning Post that his passenger ship, the Jiangning, was sailing through the Jianli section of the Yangtze River at about 9.30pm on Monday, when the Eastern Star capsized. Li said the Jiangning's radar indicated "something was wrong". A storm descended so he decided to slow down, drop anchor and wait for the bad weather to pass. But the Eastern Star, which was travelling in the same direction as the Jiangning, continued on down the river, according to the report. "The Eastern Star proceeded about 200 metres farther when the Jiangning anchored," the report quoted Li as saying. As the storm grew stronger, Li thought the Eastern Star would turn back, but it disappeared from sight and he could not get a response from crew members on the vessel over the radio communication system. "I thought that the Eastern Star had returned to safety," he said. The Jiangning continued on towards Chongqing about one hour later when the storm died down. As the rescue efforts entered their second day yesterday, survivors of the Eastern Star offered their accounts of the tragedy. One of them, 52-year-old Xie Lin, told Xinhua that he was excited to be on board the ship for a 12-day cruise with his wife, but things went very wrong at about 9.30pm on Monday as strong waves hit the ship, tossing him around his cabin. "Strong waves threw me into the air and at that time, my only thought was that I wanted to see the sky and get out," Xie said. The ship turned over on its starboard side, Xie said, but he was pushed by waves to the port side of the ship. "I really had to get out," he recalled. A few minutes later he managed to escape the sinking ship. Xie grabbed a life preserver and he saw another survivor from Tianjin floating in the water. "The water was very cold and I was just wearing shorts. I also could not see clearly what was around me because of the heavy rain. I could only grab onto the life preserver as tightly as I could," he said. "I think I am very lucky for being able to survive." Xie and the Tianjin man saw a small boat and yelled for help, but to no avail. It was only after 10 minutes that marine police came to their rescue. "We saw a flashlight and yelled for help. And we heard the marine police saying that we would be saved," he said. But Xie's wife was missing and he was forced to give his son the news. "I called my son, telling him that his mother had probably died," Xie said. "It's a huge tragedy." Chen Shuhan, a 21-year-old crewman on the Eastern Star, was alone in an air pocket inside the capsized hull and in complete darkness when rescuers found him. Chen, a gas fitter, was checking the ship's main engine when the weather deteriorated outside, the Chongqing Morning Post reported. As the ship began taking in water, Chen donned a life jacket and found a spot where he could breath. After the ship capsized, everything went dark, a moment Chen described as terrifying. Rescuers searched the hull three times in the low visibility, before they found Chen. They then spent 20 minutes trying to calm him down. A doctor at the hospital where Chen had been admitted said his condition was stable and he was conscious, but he needed to remain under medical observation for a few days. ^ top ^

Li praises work of Yangtze search & rescue team (Xinhua)
2015-06-04
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang praised the work of those searching for missing passengers in the Yangtze River after Monday's fatal accident, and urged local authorities to ensure their well being. Li made the remarks on Wednesday morning at the site where he is leading rescue work. Strong rain and wind is hampering the efforts of personnel, including divers who continued to dive underwater through the night. "The search and rescue mission is very physically demanding, and providing high-nutritional, high-energy food for the rescuers is of utmost importance so that they can re-energize and redouble their efforts," Li said. "As long as there is the slightest hope, we must go all-out to find the missing. It's our obligation," he added. The Eastern Star disaster could become China's deadliest shipping accident in almost seven decades. Over 450 people were onboard the ship when it sank after being hit by a tornado in Jianli, Hubei Province. Rescuers have only found 14 survivors, and 26 bodies, leaving over 400 people still unaccounted for. While visiting members of the dive team, Li asked how they were feeling and what the conditions were like underwater, adding that they have brought hope for those missing. "Your skills are integral to this mission, and the public have huge expectations of you. The burden on your shoulders is heavy," Li told divers, urging them to be mindful of their own safety while racing against the clock to comb the ship. According to government and army representatives at the site, the country's best divers, search and rescue experts, and equipment are involved in the mission. Li called for "coordinated, scientific and pertinent" use of the equipment that had been rushed to the site overnight. He expressed gratitude to everyone involved for their "devoted, continuous" effort. Vice Premier Ma Kai also called on rescuers to prioritize saving lives when chairing a meeting with members of a State Council work team in Jianli on Wednesday night. Ma ordered divers to thoroughly search the inside of the capsized vessel for survivors, and demanded the best medical treatment for those already rescued. He also ordered preparing for giving aid and compensation to the relatives of the victims, and conducting a comprehensive investigation into the cause of the incident. Regular and transparent updates on the rescue and subsequent investigation must be also be published in a timely manner, he added. He said in general, the rescue work has been timely and orderly and the measures that have been taken effective. ^ top ^

China's Internet watchdog urges media to clean 'vulgar' language online (Global Times)
2015-06-04
China's top Internet watchdog and education professionals on Tuesday urged State-owned and commercial media, as well as netizens, to clean up vulgar language online. "There is a lack of respect for others on the Internet. While rumormongers can be held accountable, filthy word users are not," Jiang Jun, a spokesperson for the Cyberspace Administration of China, said on Tuesday at a symposium with Net regulators, media, publishers, schools, language and broadcast experts. The symposium is aimed at creating a cyberspace free of vulgar words for the youth. "Adopting vulgar catchwords will influence the adolescents' values and aesthetic orientation, and harm their linguistic competence," Cao Yaxin, deputy secretary general of the Chinese Cultural Institute of Internet Communication, said at the symposium. The top three buzzwords in Chinese cyberspace in 2014 were nima (F-word with your mother), diaosi (underachievers) and doubi (silly but lovely), according to a survey on online vulgar words conducted by news site people.com.cn, released on Tuesday. Dismissing speculation on regulations, Jiang said that "we are simply calling attention to the pervasive usage of foul words online." He pointed out that a drop in the use of vulgar words depends on public supervision, self-discipline and website management, Jiang said. Yan Yuanping, a Sina Weibo senior manager, said they will launch two online campaigns patterned after South Korean educator Min Byoung-chul's 2007 campaign, in a bid to promote a friendlier cyberspace environment by encouraging friendlier interactions. Yan added that they are considering filtering certain keywords, deleting posts containing filthy words and issuing warnings to spiteful netizens. Ma Zhi, editor-in-chief of news portal qq.com, said instead of removing posts, they would "guide" netizens in the proper use of language. They will prominently place friendly posts and review entries on its blog platform and its messaging app WeChat prior to their publication. At the end of 2014, students still made up the majority of Chinese netizens, accounting for 23.8 percent, according to the 35th Statistical Report on Internet Development in China released by the China Internet Network Information Center in February. ^ top ^

Body count rises as Chinese rescuers right the capsized cruise ship Eastern Star (SCMP)
2015-06-05
Rescuers have begun to right the Eastern Star cruise ship, after it capsized in stormy weather on the Yangtze River on Monday night, as relatives of the more than 300 passengers and crew still missing complained of slow progress. The decision to right the ship was made at about 8pm last night after President Xi Jinping - chairing a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee - ordered an increase in search efforts and "a thorough investigation" into the disaster. The transport ministry said the decision was made to right the ship after it assessed that there were no survivors. "In a situation in which the overall judgment is that there is no chance of people being alive, we could start the work of righting the boat," transport ministry spokesman Xu Chengguang told a news conference late on Thursday. Salvage workers cut their way into the hull on Wednesday night but did not find any survivors. Fourteen survivors and 82 bodies had been found as of Friday morning, but no survivors have been found in the past 48 hours. The ship was carrying 456 people when it capsized on the Jianli section of the river in Hubei province. Rescuers, many from the military, worked through the night to right the ship. Pictures on state television showed the vessel, which had capsized completely, now lying on its side. More than 200 divers have groped through murky water after cutting through the hull, searching every cabin on board, but have found no more survivors. The weather is expected to improve on Friday, after days of heavy rain, which should help rescuers. Four bodies were found in the Yueyang section of the river in neighbouring Hunan province after salvage workers on Tuesday expanded their work to cover 220km of the lower reaches of the river. Yin Yanxiang, whose 56-year-old sister was on board with a tour group from Changzhou, Jiangsu province, questioned the efficiency of the rescue operation. "Why did they wait until the third day to cut the hull?" asked Yin, 68. Chen, 73, from Nanjing, whose husband, 78, was in a third-class cabin, agreed: "The rescue was way too slow." Louis Szeto Ka-sing, a Hong Kong-based marine engineering expert, said the salvagers should have cut into the ship as soon as they had arrived. "They should have cut the hull and injected oxygen into it much earlier to rescue the passengers there who might have been alive," he said. It was almost impossible for the divers to enter cabins three to four floors' deep, he added. An expert who took part in rescue efforts after a TransAsia plane plunged into the Keelung River in Taiwan in February noted that it took more than two hours for mainland authorities to be notified of the Eastern Star's distress. "This was a serious lapse in shipwreck crisis handling by the [Eastern Star's] crew," he said. ^ top ^

Families try to break the silence around the Eastern Star disaster (SCMP)
2015-06-05
Frustrated by days of waiting and no word about the fate of their loved ones, family members of the missing from the capsized Eastern Star cruise ship on the Yangtze River have made repeated attempts to get to the scene of the disaster. But each time some of the more than 1,000 anxious relatives of the missing have tried to get through, they have been turned back by police and paramilitary officers and told to wait at their hotels in the small county of Jianli in Hubei province. "We came all the way here in the hope of knowing the latest information … But now we are just waiting here like idiots, unable to do anything. All they've told us is to wait for further notice," a man from Nanjing said. A 54-year-old Changzhou man whose wife and sister-in-law were on board the ship said: "I saw at least three vehicles carrying bodies wrapped in yellow plastic bags drive directly into the funeral parlour. But I don't even know whether they're from my family." Relatives said they were constantly blocked from going to the site of the vessel and had little information about the recovery efforts. As of last night, 77 bodies had been pulled from the water, but there were no details from the authorities about who the deceased were, making it impossible for the families to know who was among the dead. "They have pulled so many bodies from the water, why can't they take photos of them and show them to the relatives to identify them? It's not a very transparent process," another relative from Nanjing said. The families demanded the authorities not wait until all of the bodies had been recovered to start the identification process. That approach could take much longer, they said. Desperate for more information, more than 20 people from Changzhou in Jiangsu province walked more than 10km through pouring rain early on Wednesday morning to try to reach the scene. They made it through the one police line but were stopped at a second checkpoint by officers and sent back to their hotels in police cars. They made another attempt by car yesterday morning, but this time they were stopped at the first cordon and waited there in rain for two hours, one of the relatives said. Unable to go on, they returned to their hotel. Another group of about 80 people from Nanjing also marched towards the rescue site on arriving in Jianli county on Wednesday night after an eight-hour bus trip. They got as far as a second police cordon at about 3am yesterday. A senior police officer promised to let them go in groups to the site that morning, and brought in buses for them to sleep in. Some of the members of the group were picked up at about 7am and dropped off at Damazhou pier, the base for recovery operations about 3km from the site of the disaster. But there was nothing for the families to see. "It was raining heavily on the river and it was very misty, we could not see anything," a relative said. "There was not much use being there. We want only to confirm [whether our relatives were among the dead] as soon as possible. "We also know we should not interfere with the rescue work." The family members later demanded to meet Nanjing officials who had also come to Jianli. The meeting was finally arranged and the families were told that the authorities would improve communication with them. Some other family members demanded the government set up a dedicated team to investigate why the vessel went down and ensure the public could monitor the investigation so it was transparent. They also demanded an apology from transport authorities. "The captain of the ship should be held responsible. Why didn't he send an alert when the ship capsized, but had time to put on a life jacket instead?" 68-year-old relative Yin Yanxiang said. ^ top ^

Jianli residents give free rides, accommodation as victim relatives flock to site (Global Times)
2015-06-05
After witnessing the rescue efforts of the capsized Eastern Star in the past two days, Global Times reporter Jiang Jie left the scene of the accident on the Yangtze River and talked to people in Jianli county, getting a feel for the local people's support of the victims' relatives. I finally arrived on land on Thursday, after nearly 48 hours on the rescue ship at the scene of the capsized cruise ship in Jianli, Hubei Province. Almost every local resident I came across would inquire about the ship and its passengers. From the gear my photographer and I carried, they concluded we were journalists covering the tragedy. What could I say? The rescue efforts are ongoing in the Yangtze River. But everyone knew that the chances of finding any more survivors were getting slim. The number of bodies found from the wreck and downstream had been rising, more than 77 by Thursday night. But the number of survivors remained unchanged at 14 since Tuesday. Family members of the victims are reportedly converging on this small Central China city. Police had lined the county funeral home when we arrived. A sign read, "Unrelated personnel cannot enter." We did not get to enter the compound. Jianli residents regard the tragedy as their own even if the ship was merely on its way from Nanjing to Chongqing. The street was filled with cars emblazoned with yellow ribbons. By Thursday afternoon, some 1,000 cars, taxis and buses displayed yellow ribbons to show that they would be willing to offer free rides to family members of the victims and rescue workers, according to China Central Television. Electronic screens on taxis flashed encouraging messages such as "Merciless storm, but merciful Jianli." Some restaurants and hotels also posted banners of support. A local radio station provided information on donors and places offering accommodation to those in need. I could hear murmurs as the death toll rose. Some people also blamed the ship's captain for not docking the ship during a deadly storm. "A kid would bring an umbrella on a rainy day! Why must he [the captain] pretend to be a hero?" asked a local hotel manager surnamed Li, pointing to the pouring rain outside. But Li said he would also offer help to the victims' families in the aftermath of the tragedy. "This feels like our responsibility when tragedy happens right at our doorstep," he said. ^ top ^

Chance of survivors slim (Global Times)
2015-06-05
Rescuers on Thursday were preparing for the worst as they started to turn the capsized cruise ship Eastern Star upright after no signs of life had been discovered from the vessel for the past two days. The death toll from the ship jumped to 77 on Thursday from Wednesday's 29 as rescuers cut open the hull of the ship, only to find their efforts to look for more survivors were in vain. The number of survivors remained at 14, while more than 360 people were still missing as of press time. Xu Chengguang, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Transport, said at a press conference on Thursday night that chances of finding more survivors are fading. "Generally speaking, there is no chance of more survivors," he said, adding that it was time to start operation to right the ship, which will speed up the search process. On Thursday night, all but five rescue ships were ordered to leave the accident site. Rescue divers were seen wrapping the ship with steel cables earlier in the day and tying the cables to previously welded stakes. Lin Han, an official from the Wuhan Changjiang Waterway Rescue and Salvage Bureau, told the Global Times that the ship has been stabilized and that eight stakes had been welded to prepare for the tilting procedure. "The most important issue is how to maintain balance control. The moment the capsized ship is lifted, the center of gravity begins to shift. This could cause safety issues," said You Qinghua, a professor with the Merchant Marine College at Shanghai Maritime University. Although some believe that the rescue can be conducted more efficiently and thoroughly if the ship is tilted upright, an expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times the fact that the ship is turned upright could also mean that the chance of finding survivors is slim and that the rescue efforts have entered a different stage. "The water will gush in and the cabins will be disordered. This could cause further harm to the potential survivors," the expert said, adding that rescuers would not choose this plan if there were better approaches available. With 458 people on board, Eastern Star was caught in a tornado and capsized at around 9:28 pm Monday in a section of the Yangtze River flowing through Jianli county, Hubei Province. The incident is believed to be one of China's worst maritime disasters in decades. Until 8 pm Thursday night, rescue divers had been searching ship cabins and looking for potential survivors. From Wednesday night to Thursday morning, rescuers cut the hull open at various locations and looked for signs of life. When the search turned futile, they welded the hull shut so the ship, floating upside down on the river, would not lose its balance. "Cutting the hull open is our last chance to find survivors. Rescuers had previously used life detecting instruments, many times, to look for signs but found nothing. We don't want to take any chances so we decided to cut the ship open to verify," Wang Zhigang, a rescuer from the China Classification Society, a shipping and shipbuilding classification organization, told the Xinhua News Agency. "It is an international norm that all efforts should be made to rescue life in the first 72 hours after an accident. To flip the ship over after the first 72 hours is to show respect to human life," Wang noted. On Thursday, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee met to discuss the rescue and how to handle the tragedy's aftermath. While the meeting, chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping, called on rescuers to "take all possible measures" to save lives, it also stressed Chinese leaders' determination to thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident. China's Ministry of Transport also promised that the investigation will be conducted with "absolutely no cover-up or concealment." The disaster prompted hundreds of angry relatives of the victims to stage a protest near the accident site in Jianli, Hubei Province late Wednesday, demanding more information, Western media reported. On Thursday, an official from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, Zhang Shifeng, told the media that the authorities will allow the victims' families to travel to the accident site in an organized manner to prevent rescue efforts from being interrupted. China's Ministry of Finance allocated 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) in emergency funds for the rescue efforts. ^ top ^

China to limit urban expansion boundaries in major cities (Global Times)
2015-06-05
The boundaries for 14 major cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou will be limited by the end of the year to prevent them from "blind expansion," an urban planning official said Wednesday. Analysts believe that it will neither affect urban development nor affect regional economic integration. In an interview with Guangdong-based Nandu Daily, Zhang Xiaoling, assistant to the president of the land survey and planning institute under the Ministry of Land and Resources, said that setting a boundary for urban development will be compulsory. Dong Zuoji, director of the ministry's land planning department, said that the next step is to limit the expansion boundaries of over 600 cities across China. According to Zhang, the boundaries of emerging cities will change over time while strict limits will be imposed on large cities. Currently, many cities are expanding at a rapid rate especially by developing new districts and building big public squares. The boundaries will take into consideration factors like city construction scale, land use plan and expansion scale, she added. Dong said that the move is meant to accelerate the transformation of city development and promote the quality of urbanization to save land and protect farmland, and to protect the ecosystem. "Setting a boundary for urban development aims to optimize urban land-use structures and promote their development in a rational way. Such physical boundaries will not hinder regional economic integration as it depends on industrial coordination and economic complementation between cities," Li Jingguo, a property research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. In response to public concerns over the rise in housing prices, Li said that if authorities consider factors like population growth, a city's resources and real estate development trend, it may not affect housing prices. The report showed that from 2000 to 2010, the urban expansion rate reached 64.45 percent, 18.55 percent higher than the urban population growth rate in the same period. ^ top ^

Spread of MERS is low, thanks to disease controls (China Daily)
2015-06-05
With tight disease control, the risk of MERS-Middle East respiratory syndrome-being spread in China remains low, although the outbreak in South Korea has been rapidly worsening in the past two weeks, according to the Guangdong provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A South Korean visitor to Guangdong was confirmed to be the first MERS patient in China on May 29. South Korea is being urged to provide detailed information about its MERS outbreak as soon as possible in order for Chinese disease control authorities to prevent new imported cases, according to Song Tie, deputy director of the Guangdong CDC. The 78 people who had close contact with the South Korean MERS patient in Guangdong have all been located, according to the provincial health and family planning commission. Among them, 75 have been quarantined as of Thursday and none of them has shown any signs of sickness. For the three who have left the province, the commission has notified the countries and regions where they are staying. The South Korean patient in China is still in a serious condition. "We've adopted the strictest disease control measures to handle the MERS case, quickly locating the patient and those who had close contact and have put them under close watch. Based on the current monitoring results, it is nearly impossible for new MERS cases to appear in China unless there are new imported ones," Song said. "But we are concerned about the situation in South Korea. People travel frequently between the two countries for business or travel in large numbers. We hope South Korea can make public as soon as possible the detailed information of its MERS spread, such as where the epidemic points are and whether it has spread to communities," he said. The number of South Koreans diagnosed with MERS rose to 35 on Thursday, including five tertiary contagions, or third-generation cases, according to South Korea's Health Ministry. The first patient tested positive on May 20. As of Thursday, three people in South Korea had died of the disease. More than 1,100 schools in the country decided to suspend classes on Thursday. Anxiety about the MERS outbreak has also spread, with the Korea Tourism Organization reporting on Thursday that more than 4,400 tourists from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan had canceled their trips to South Korea. "Sustained human-to-human transmission was rare among previous MERS cases in the Middle East. The tertiary contagions in South Korea are a warning that the virus may have mutated and the infectiousness of MERS may have become stronger," said Li Chufang, an associate researcher at the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Disease. "However, we don't see a big possibility of large-scale human-to-human transmission," he said. Zhong Nanshan, a renowned respiratory expert, said a massive outbreak of MERS in China was unlikely given a lack of evidence on sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus. Local officials and doctors have also expressed confidence in controlling the virus, citing experience gained from outbreaks of bird flu and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). SARS was first reported in 2002 in Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong. It killed around 800 people in the world. In addition, Guangdong is one of the Chinese provinces that has dealt with the bulk of H7N9 bird flu cases since it emerged in 2013. MERS is a respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, similar to SARS. The first human case emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012. There is no vaccine or treatment for the disease, which has a fatality rate of about 40 percent. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

HK reform plan most suitable (Global Times)
2015-06-01
The electoral reform plan advocated by the Hong Kong government is the most suitable universal suffrage system and it is impossible that changes will be made to it before implementation, a top official stressed Sunday during a meeting with Hong Kong legislators in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. Fifty-four Hong Kong legislators, including 14 opposition members, met with three Beijing officials Sunday morning, including Li Fei, chairman of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Basic Law Committee under the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC). The local legislature of Hong Kong will vote in mid-June on the regional government's package of reforms related to the 2017 chief executive election. During the four-hour meeting, Li stressed that the proposed electoral reform package was democratic, open, fair and just and that it is the universal suffrage model most suited to the region's current political situation. He reiterated that Hong Kong's chief executive must be loyal to both the country and the region, while having candidates picked by a 1,200-member nominating committee showed the central government's trust in the region and the justness of the proposed electoral system. He said the central government has already solicited opinions from Hong Kong society and that the reform package has received broad public support. The plan was designed within a framework issued by the NPC on August 31 last year. The NPC allowed the nomination of two to three candidates by a nominating committee who would then be voted on by all eligible Hong Kong citizens from 2017 onward. "Voting against the reform plan would deprive all Hongkongers of voting rights," Li said. Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, a local lawmaker, told the Global Times that the talks were effective as they made it clear to the opposition that it is impossible to restart the reform process. "Many pan-democratic lawmakers have been misguiding the public, saying that it is possible to restart the reform as long as they continue to oppose it. Some also misled citizens by saying that the views of many central government officials are not consistent. The talks have now eliminated such beliefs," she said. Some pan-democratic lawmakers however said that they will vote against the proposal. Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor warned at the meeting that if the plan is voted down, it will only create a losing situation and many people will be let down, reported Radio Television Hong Kong. "If the reform plan is voted down, Hong Kong may lose its impetus to democracy... which would result in more internal contradictions and obstruct the region's democratic development," Liu Zhaojia, deputy head of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, was quoted as saying by the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ta Kung Pao. A poll conducted in May by DAB, Hong Kong's largest political party, revealed that 62 percent support the reform package. ^ top ^

China environment communique exposes poor air, water quality (Xinhua)
2015-06-05
One year after the world's second-largest economy "declared war" on pollution -- following decades of pursing growth at the expense of air, water and soil quality -- the battle is still being fought. The Ministry of Environmental Protection on Thursday released its 2014 Environment Condition Communique, revealing serious air and groundwater pollution. Only 16 of the 161 major Chinese cities subject to air quality monitoring met the national standard for clean air in 2014, statistics from the communique showed. The other 145 cities, more than 90 percent of the total, failed to meet the new standard, which was implemented in 2013 and includes a PM2.5 index for monitoring airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. Last year, authorities observed precipitation in 470 cities and detected acid rain in 29.8 percent of them, according to the communique. Authorities also conducted groundwater quality tests at 4,896 monitoring points. Of these sites, only 10.8 percent had "excellent" water, while 61.5 percent were deemed "poor" or "extremely poor". The communique also showed that 16 percent of China's soil was polluted. Decades of rapid economic growth have taken their toll on the environment, and disturbingly lenient penalties -- until this year -- had little effect. The new Environmental Law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, brought with it much heavier punishments for violations, and promised to name and shame any enterprises found to have broken the law. A daily fine system was also introduced, which punishes offenders and motivates companies to expedite the costly modifications needed to reduce pollutants. Should fined violators fail to rectify the problem, the fine increases without limit. However, Vice Environment Minister Zhai Qing admitted that the fight was far from over. The problem is so challenging that "reducing pollution by a few percentage points is not enough," he said. Experts believe significant amelioration is only possible if China can cut pollution levels by 30 to 50 percent. In addition, Zhai said, only a few key pollutants, such as chemical oxygen demand, are currently monitored. Other pollutants like volatile organic compounds are not included. "We are fighting a protracted, uphill battle," Environment Minister Chen Jining said. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's president warns stalled trade pacts with mainland China damaging economy (SCMP)
2015-05-03
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has warned of damage to the island's economy if the legislature does not pass controversial trade deals with the mainland. His comments yesterday came as tensions remained high over increased mainland influence on Taiwan. "I would like to voice my concern over related agreements with [mainland] China still under deliberation in the legislature," Ma said. The pacts are on hold after a service trade deal with Beijing sparked huge rallies and a three-week occupation of parliament last year, reflecting growing unease over Taiwan's warming ties with Beijing. Ma said the passage of the agreements should accelerate, particularly in the wake of a free-trade deal signed between the mainland and South Korea on Monday. That deal would impact Taiwan's traditional industries, including textiles, he said. "It took them only three years [to reach the deal]. Look at our service trade agreement with the mainland, which is still lying in parliament," he said. The pact is on ice as a concession to protesters, who said it had been passed in secret. They demanded new measures guaranteeing transparency over future deals, but that oversight legislation is now the subject of intense political wrangling and has yet to be passed. Beijing sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification - by force, if necessary. The island split from the mainland at the end of a civil war in 1949. Since Ma became president in 2008, his mainland-friendly Kuomintang has led a rapprochement with Beijing, with over 20 trade deals and a tourism boom as mainlanders flock to the island. But many ordinary Taiwanese feel they have not benefited from the deals and worry about getting closer to Beijing. The Kuomintang was trounced at local elections in November and faces a struggle in next year's presidential vote, amid a stagnant economy and a string of food scandals. Ma pointed to reports that Taiwan was lagging behind South Korea in its development. "We really have to work hard to try to face our predicament and do something substantial. Foreign trade is very important to Taiwan," he said. ^ top ^

No way forward for Taiwan secessionist stance (Global Times)
2015-06-04
A Chinese government spokesperson on Wednesday reaffirmed the country's opposition to Taiwan independence amid the island's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen's 12-day visit to the US. "Our stance on Taiwan is consistent and clear. There is no way forward for a secessionist stance," said Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office. Adherence to the "1992 Consensus" between the mainland and Taiwan is the basis of the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations, he restated. The core of the 1992 Consensus is the acknowledgment that the Chinese mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China. Ma's remarks came after Tsai had an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday in which she wrote that "a more consistent and sustainable relationship with China will be a core goal of my administration." The DPP chief is visiting the US on her first foreign trip since her party nominated her to stand in the January election. During Tsai's five-day stay in Washington, she was set to give a talk at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank on Wednesday afternoon, in which she was expected to further elaborate on her cross-Straits policy, which she has summed up as "maintaining the status quo." There have been media reports suggesting that Tsai's US visit is in fact an "interview" in which she will seek Washington's endorsement before the 2016 election. Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai said Tuesday that Tsai should instead seek the approval of the Chinese people by accepting the one-China principle rather than playing deceptive tricks through making ambiguous statements on whether she will abandon her ambition to seek the island's independence. "On this visit, compared with four years ago when she was running for election for the first time, Tsai has become less aggressive in her rhetoric. But Ma's remarks have proven that the central government is aware that, in essence, she has not changed her secessionist stance," Hu Benliang, a research fellow with the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Wednesday. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's tariff cuts for imported goods will have little effect (SCMP)
2015-06-02
Lower import tariffs that came into effect yesterday for foreign-made skincare products, shoes, garments and diapers will be ineffective in boosting local spending, industry experts say. To boost domestic consumption, the finance ministry has cut import duties on skincare products from 5 per cent to 2 per cent; on diapers from 7.5 per cent to 2 per cent; and on shoes and garments from a range of 14-24 per cent to 7-12 per cent. Domestic retailers and experts said the lower rates would lead to lower prices for some products, but the differences would be limited. In the past week, major foreign skincare and cosmetics groups including L'Oréal of France, Estée Lauder of the United States, Shiseido of Japan and Amorepacific of South Korea, have all said they plan to cut prices on the mainland. "We are very supportive of the Chinese government's measures to lower import duties. We have decided to adjust our retail prices [on the mainland] in response to the government's measures," said Estée Lauder. But some industry experts doubted the new policy would do much to spur local spending. Import duty accounted for only a small percentage of retail prices of imported goods on the mainland, said Ge Wenyao, chairman of the Shanghai International Fashion Federation. Value-added tax (VAT) and consumption taxes accounted for a much greater share of retail prices, he said. Ge gave the example of a 3000-yuan (HK$3,800) skincare product. After a 150-yuan import duty charge, a 765-yuan VAT charge and 1,350-yuan consumption tax charge, its price would be 5,265 yuan by the time it reached the shelves. "The new tariff rate would save only about 150 yuan for mainland consumers, which does not make a big difference for buyers," he said. Some online sellers of foreign goods also thought the tariff cut would have little impact on their businesses. "Currently, the prices on our website are less than half of those in shopping centres for the same products. This will not change much following the tariff adjustment," said a spokesman for Moximoxi.net the mainland's largest Japanese goods shopping portal. The e-commerce website, which sells such items as facial masks, sports shoes and baby diapers, delivers products directly from Japan to mainland consumers, who must then pay postal article taxes, rather than import tariffs. Chinese consumers spend up to 75 billion yuan purchasing goods from other countries through e-commerce channels, according to a recent report by Bain & Company. Global luxury brands like Chanel, Gucci and Coach have recently announced cuts to their retail prices on the mainland to boost declining sales and close the price gap with Europe. ^ top ^

China's service sector gathers pace in May amid gloom over slowing economy (SCMP)
2015-06-03
Activity in China's services sector accelerated in May as new business rose at the fastest pace in three years, a private survey showed on Wednesday, a rare piece of good news for policymakers struggling to reviving a cooling economy. Still, economists remain cautious on China's overall economic outlook, as credit growth remains weak and manufacturing stagnates, reinforcing views that the authorities will have to roll out more stimulus to avert a sharper slowdown. The headline HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index for May was 53.5, up from 52.9 in April and well above the 50-point level that separates expansion from contraction. The May figure represented the fourth straight month of acceleration. The new business sub-component was at 54.4, up from 52.8 in April and the highest reading since 54.7 in May 2012. Employment at services firms grew at the fastest rate since January 2013, the survey showed, another encouraging sign for policymakers as layoffs continue in the manufacturing sector, China's traditional jobs engine. “Overall, growth momentum appears relatively weak, weighed down by an ongoing deterioration in manufacturing operating conditions,” said Annabel Fiddes, an economist at Markit. “Therefore, further stimulus measures may be required to keep up with [the government's] annual GDP growth target of 7 per cent.” A news release did not give specific reasons for the strong pick-up in business in May. Some services companies in April attributed part of the increase in new business to the strong stock market, which hit a seven-year peak that month. Economists have been mostly sceptical that a rising stock market will do much to directly boost consumption, but do see the boom easing financing costs for some small and medium-sized private firms, many of which are in the services sector. “In China, the benefit of a strong stock market does not come from the wealth effect on consumption as China's marginal propensity to consume is very low and Chinese households only hold about five per cent of their total assets in stocks," wrote Chi Lo, an economist at BNP Paribas in a note. “Rather, the gain mainly comes from the reduction of equity financing cost, which should help ease the financial constraints on small and medium-sized [private sector] companies.” Still, the buoyant equities market is windfall for many financial services firms and companies which sell to them. Another piece of good news was the pricing sub-components of the purchasing managers' index, which showed that the both input and sales prices rose modestly in May, reversing a three-month decelerating trend which had resulted in prices charged falling outright in April. Nonetheless, input prices rose faster than sales prices, suggesting companies were still facing deteriorating margins. Companies surveyed cited recovering oil prices and higher staffing costs as key factors behind rising costs. Most analysts expect the economy to expand 7 per cent in 2015, in line with the government's growth target, provided authorities further loosen monetary policy to stoke activity. The services sector has accounted for the bigger part of China's economic output for at least two years, with its share rising to 48.2 per cent last year, compared with the 42.6 per cent contribution from manufacturing and construction. An official services survey released on June 1 also showed activity expanded in May, but at a slower pace, raising fears that the sector was slowly succumbing to the broader economic cool down. The People's Bank of China has cut benchmark interest rates three times in the past six months, on top of reductions in banks' reserve requirements and measures to shore up the ailing property market. ^ top ^

China's central bank to publish monthly PSL data (Xinhua)
2015-06-03
The People's Bank of China (PBOC) on Tuesday announced that it will publish monthly pledged supplementary lending (PSL) data starting from June, a move to improve monetary policy transparency. The PSL program, initiated in 2014, is designed to help the central bank better target longer-term lending rates and boost liquidity to specific sectors by offering low-cost loans to select lenders. In the first five months of this year, it provided PSL of 262.8 billion yuan (42.9 billion U.S. dollars) to financial institutions to fund residential renovation projects, the PBOC said in a statement. It provided PSL of 383.1 billion yuan to select financial institutions last year and outstanding PSL had reached 645.9 billion yuan by the end of May, it noted. The interest rate of PSL was reduced to 3.1 percent from 4.5 percent, the latest effort to support renovation projects in China and lower investment costs, said the central bank. The PBOC has managed to bring down short-term interbank lending rates with a series of open market operations, but longer-term borrowing costs remained high in China. Companies will take a hit from continued economic weakness and high financing costs. ^ top ^

Reforms at risk as China eyes 2020 growth goal (SCMP)
2015-06-05
China looks likely to target annual growth of about 7 per cent in its next five-year plan so it can meet ambitious 2020 goals, raising concerns that politics could trump a commitment to disruptive reforms entailing slower but more sustainable growth. Many economists already think growth this year will miss that mark – the IMF expects 6.8 per cent followed by 6.25 per cent in 2016 – but Beijing needs average growth of close to 7 per cent to hit a previously declared aim of doubling gross domestic product and per capita income by 2020 from 2010. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top planning agency, has been soliciting recommendations from think tanks and policy advisers, which are divided into those advocating a lower growth goal of 6.5 per cent for the five-year period and those recommending 7 per cent. “The goal of doubling GDP will be a hard constraint, which will make it difficult for the government to set a lower target,” said a researcher with the NDRC. The leadership will discuss the country's 13th five-year plan – a blueprint for economic and social development between 2016 and 2020 – at a party meeting in the autumn, according to sources involved in the internal policy discussions. “A 7 per cent target could be accepted by all sides,” said a senior economist at a top government think-tank. “It's more of a political issue than an economic issue,” the economist said. There have already been some signs that Beijing is open to flexing its push for reforms where they threatened growth; it put pressure on banks to help out when its preferred market solution for local government borrowing looked likely to lead to a funding crunch. It rowed back on a clampdown on opaque local government financing vehicles for the same reason and relaxed rules on phasing out some market-distorting tax breaks when their immediate withdrawal might have led to lower investment. “Growth cannot be too low,” said an influential economist who advises the government. “Changes in the economic model and structural adjustment require a sound economic environment.” The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a government think-tank, expects China's potential growth rate to fall to 6-6.5 per cent between 2016 and 2020 from an estimated 7.6 per cent during the 12th five-year period (2011-2015). If it is right about 2011-15, then annual growth of 6.5 to 7 per cent through to 2020 would be enough to meet the 10-year target of doubling GDP. But the economy's trajectory has slowed markedly. From annual growth of 9.3 per cent in 2011, it hit 7.4 per cent last year, and Beijing is targeting 7 per cent this year, which would be the slowest in a quarter century. Many private economists doubt the government can keep that up for the next five years. “We expect economic growth to be around 6 per cent over the next five years,” said Zhou Hao, an economist at ANZ in Shanghai. “It will be a surprise if they target 7 per cent.” Finance Minister Lou Jiwei caused a stir in April when he warned there was a 50 per cent chance China would slip into the “middle-income trap” in the next five to 10 years. That refers to a fast-growing emerging economy that stagnates before becoming a high-income economy, often because it cannot transform from low-cost, export-led manufacturing to an economy driven by domestic consumption and services. Lou said there must be reforms to avoid the trap, and deal with the rapid ageing of the population, the lack of flexibility in the labour market and high debt. But some advisers think those reforms and a high growth rate are inconsistent, and that adjusting to slower growth now could be the path to higher income in the longer term. “The next five years will be crucial for China to become a higher-income country. We could encounter problems such as slowing growth, widening income disparity and rising social tensions,” said an economist at a well-connected think-tank. “The trend of economic slowdown looks inevitable. There could be big pressures if we target 7 per cent growth,” he said. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

The World Health Organization awards Mongolia with a Certificate of Appreciation (Infomongolia)
2015-06-01
On May 29, 2015, a member of the State Great Khural (Parliament) L.Erdenechimeg and authorities from the Ministry of Health and Sports of Mongolia, General Agency for Specialized Inspection, General Police Department, and the World Health Organization Representative Office have called a press conference in the Government Palace regarding approach of the World No Tobacco Day, which is observed around the world every year on May 31. During the press conference, officials announced that the World Health Organization (WHO) awards the Ministry of Health and Sports of Mongolia with a Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of outstanding contribution to tobacco control signed by Director-General of WHO Dr. Margaret Chan, informs the Press and Public Relations. ^ top ^

Mongolia and North Korea host the first consultative meeting in Ulaanbaatar (Infomongolia)
2015-06-01
The first consultation meeting between the Departments of legal affairs of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was successfully held in Ulaanbaatar on May 28, 2015. The consultations were headed by Mr. A.Tumur, Director-General of the International legal affairs department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, and by Mr. Jin Jong Hyp, Director-General of the Law and treaty department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. During the consultation the sides exchanged views on specific issues of legal cooperation, bilateral relations, and commended the international legal matters of mutual interest, and also discussed the country's domestic laws and regulations governing international agreements. The DPRK MFA delegation paid a courtesy call to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mrs. N.Oyundari, and discussed the bilateral relations matters and exchanged views on further cooperation. Deputy Minister Mrs. Oyundari highlighted, that the people to people exchanges, investment and social welfare issues need to be addressed through expanding the friendly relations of the two countries. Moreover, noting that the previous bilateral agreements need to be renewed in accordance with the current conditions and international norms, and that the cooperation between the legal departments is expected to give impetus to the above mentioned issues, informs the Foreign Ministry of Mongolia. ^ top ^

Hungary re-opens its Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia after nine years (Infomongolia)
2015-06-01
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary Mr. Peter Szijjarto has paid an official visit to Mongolia and held a bilateral talk with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Mr. Lundeg PUREVSUREN on May 29, 2015. During the talks, Foreign Minister L.Purevsuren noted the exchange of high-level visits and re-opening of the Hungarian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar shows that the relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Hungary is broadening and deepening. The sides agreed to further develop the traditionally friendly relations and cooperation, especially in areas of education, environment, agriculture and construction. In the frameworks of the visit, “Agreement on visa exemption for holders of diplomatic and official passports between the Government of Mongolia and the Government of Hungary” was renewed, allowing citizens with diplomatic and official passports to travel without the requirement of visa for 90 days. Moreover, the “Memorandum of Understanding for the Establishment of Consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary” was inked. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Hungary. On the sidelines of the visit, the Hungarian side organized the official re-opening ceremony of its Embassy in Ulaanbaatar on May 29, 2015. During the ceremony, the Mongolian and Hungarian Foreign Ministers as well as the Ambassador of Hungary to Mongolia gave opening speeches. Foreign Minister L.Purevsuren welcomed his fellow Hungarians and noted the significance of the Embassy in taking the relations and cooperation in a new level. On the same day, President of Mongolia Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ received the Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto and at the beginning of meeting, President appreciated Mr. Peter Szijjarto for visiting Mongolia in commemorative data of the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Hungary and recalled recent visit of the Hungarian President, H.E. Janos Ader to Mongolia and accreditation of newly appointed Ambassador of Hungary to Mongolia Mr. Akos Madari that signifies the growing ties between the two countries. Mr. Peter Szijjarto said that he has just attended the opening ceremony of the Embassy of Hungary in Ulaanbaatar and this will play important role in the deepening of the political and economic cooperation between the two countries. Mongolia and Hungary have established the diplomatic relations on April 28, 1950. ^ 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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