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
  15-19.6.15, No. 577  
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Foreign Policy

China to work with U.S. to ensure success of President Xi's state visit (Xinhua)
2015-06-15
China will work closely with the United States to ensure a full success of Chinese President Xi Jinping's first state visit to the country in September, a top Chinese general said. In a meeting with U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice at the White House on Friday, Fan Chonglong, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, said both China and the United States attach great importance to Xi's visit, which he called the most important event in the development of the China-U.S. ties this year. The general, who is satisfied with the generally steady development of the bilateral ties, pledged that China will make joint efforts with the U.S. to create "a positive atmosphere" so as to ensure Xi's visit a great success. He commended the progress made in varied areas of the China-U.S. military ties, while proposing the two sides actively seek to build up a new type of military relationship based on "mutual trust, cooperation, non-conflict and sustainability" through increasing exchanges, conducting pragmatic cooperation and managing risks as well as crises. For her part, Rice agreed with Fan's assessment of the current state of the overall China-U.S. ties and the military-to-military relationship. She said the United States is looking forward to Xi's visit and the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue to be held in Washington late this month. She said the United States highly values the communications and coordination between the two sides on dealing with issues such as the Iranian nuclear talks, counterterrorism, climate change, and fighting the Ebola epidemic, which she said demonstrated the basis and capability for the two countries to conduct cooperation on key issues. Rice was satisfied with the progress in developing the bilateral military ties, while expressing the hope that the two militaries will strengthen communications and cooperation and strive to complete the consultations on signing the Code of Safe Conduct on Air Encounters. Fan also held talks with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department on Friday. He already held talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter at the Pentagon on Thursday. In these meetings, the Chinese general exchanged views with his U.S. hosts on many issues of mutual concern, including the South China Sea, Taiwan, cyber security, Japan and the Korean Peninsula. He demanded the U.S. side speak and act cautiously on issues related to China's core interests or matters of great concern for China, handle these issues in a fair and objective manner, and avoid doing something that will damage the bilateral military ties and regional security and stability. On Friday, Fan witnessed with U.S. Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno the signing of the China-U.S. Army-to-Army Dialogue Mechanism at the National Defense University, which will open a new channel for leaders in the two armies "to raise and discuss issues of mutual concern such as humanitarian assistance and disaster response practices," according to the Pentagon. Earlier in the morning, the general also met with Flying Tigers pilot J.V. Vinyard, and some former pilots' families to thank them for their contribution to and sacrifice for China in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression more than 70 years ago. The high-level Chinese military delegation headed by Fan, which started its U.S. trip on Monday, has visited such places as a Boeing factory in Seattle, the Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, and the U.S. Army base at Fort Hood, Texas and the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. ^ top ^

US defense chief invited to visit China this year (China Daily)
2015-06-15
China's Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Fan Changlong has invited US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter for a visit to China this year as part of the efforts to promote bilateral military ties, a Chinese defense spokesman said Friday. The invitation was extended to Carter at their talks held at the Pentagon Thursday, said Guan Youfei, director of the Foreign Affairs Office of China's National Defense Ministry, at a news briefing on Fan's visit to the United States. This will be Carter's first visit to China since he was appointed the Pentagon chief in February. During the talks, the two military chiefs exchanged views in a candid and cordial manner on a wide range of issues, such as the military-to-military relationship and issues concerning maritime security, Taiwan, Japan, and the Korean Peninsula. The main goal of Fan's visit is to create "a positive atmosphere" for the planned state visit to the United States by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September, by boosting mutual trust, deepening cooperation, promoting friendship and accumulating consensus, Guan said. "Fan has stressed on several occasions to the US side that Xi's visit to the United States is the most important event in the China-US relations, thus the two sides should contribute, rather than damage, efforts to ensure the success of the summit between the two heads of state," the spokesman said. The US side said that it is looking forward to Xi's visit, and pledged to work with the Chinese side in the next months to achieve more progress in the area of military cooperation as part of active preparation for the crucial visit. The two sides discussed the air-to-air annex to the "two mutual trust mechanisms" reached last year, namely the Mutual Reporting and Trust on Major Military Operations and the Code of Safe Conduct on Naval and Air Encounters, promising to achieve tangible results ahead of Xi's visit. Fan proposed three initiatives on building a new model of China-US military-to-military relationship based on mutual trust, cooperation, non-conflict and sustainability, Guan said. Firstly, he proposed the two sides intensify the exchange of high-level military visits to enhance mutual understanding and communications. For that sake, China has invited Carter and Harry Harris, the newly-posted head of the US Pacific Command, for a visit to China. Secondly, he advised the two militaries to increase practical cooperation, and support the existing working mechanisms with concrete measures. As part of the efforts, Fan witnessed, with US Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno, the signing of the Army-to-Army Dialogue Mechanism at the National Defense University on Friday afternoon. It is desired for the two armies to conduct a joint land drill or competition next year to make it become a landmark project for mutual cooperation, and for them to conduct some joint exercises on implementing the code of safe conduct for air encounters. Thirdly, Fan called for management of risks to avoid misunderstanding and misjudgment between the two militaries. For this end, the two sides should strive to complete the consultations on signing the Code of Safe Conduct on Naval and Air Encounters by August, while actively pushing forward with the construction of the "two mutual trust mechanisms," with prior consideration to the mechanism on mutual reporting on major exercises. Carter said he fully agreed with the Chinese initiatives on making joint efforts to improve the US-China relations and contributing to the creation of a better security environment in the Asia Pacific and the world as a whole, Guan said. On the South China Sea issue, Fan explained that the construction of facilities on some of China's islands and reefs in the region are mainly for civilian purposes, while insisting that China has the right to establish necessary defense facilities there. He emphasized that China's building activities will not affect the security of other nations, nor the freedom of navigation for the United States and other countries. China has not changed its position on seeking a resolution of disputes through bilateral negotiations and consultations between relevant parties. The two sides should look beyond the South China Sea issue to pay more attention to other more important global issues. Fan also expressed concern about the continued upgrading of US military contacts with Taiwan, while urging Washington to refrain from sending a wrong message to the forces seeking the island's independence from the Chinese mainland, citing that the Taiwan issue concerns China's core interests. The US reaffirmed at the talks that it had not changed its policy toward Taiwan. China believes that the two countries face opportunities as well difficulties in advancing bilateral military ties. In general, there are more common interests and mutual consensuses than divisions and conflicts, which means there is more space for future China-US military cooperation, Guan said. If the two militaries can further enhance the scope of pragmatic cooperation, gradually remove legal and practical barriers for military exchanges, and increase their collaboration and interaction on Asian security matters, they should be able to ensure steady and healthy development of a new type of military relationship, and make positive contributions to maintaining regional and global peace and stability, he noted. ^ top ^

Chinese airlines cut flights to S. Korea on MERS (SCMP)
2015-06-15
Chinese airlines are cutting flights to the Republic of Korea (ROK) as the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) reduces travel demand to the country. Air China will cut the number of flights linking Beijing and Seoul to 21 a week from 24. The cut will run from June 13 to the end of August. China Eastern Airlines will cut the number of its Kunming-Seoul flights from five to two a week between June 15 and June 30. From July 1 to the end of August, there will be three flights a week. Other companies including China Southern Airlines, Shandong Airlines, Capital Airlines and budget carrier Spring Airlines have either cut or suspended flights to ROK. The ROK surpassed Thailand and Japan to become the most favored destination for Chinese outbound tourists in 2014 with 6.1 million visitors. The Civil Aviation Administration of China on Friday ordered airline companies to strengthen education of crew members about the coronavirus and enhance disinfection after passengers disembark. Meanwhile, the CAAC requires airline companies to immediately report to local hygiene and quarantine authorities in case of suspected MERS cases. ROK reported one more death on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 15. The total number of people infected with the virus has increased to 145. ^ top ^

Manila incites anti-China sentiment in documentary (Global Times)
2015-06-15
The airing of a documentary aimed squarely at South China Sea disputes is a means to incite anti-Chinese sentiment in the country, a misstep which reflects Manila's complete misjudgment over the surrounding political and security situations, experts warned Sunday. The first episode of the three-part documentary, called "Karapatan sa Karagatan" (Maritime Rights), was aired on state-run Television Friday and features interviews that accuse China of "stealing Philippines land and resources." The video was jointly launched by the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, Presidential Press Office and the official Philippines News Agency. The Philippines government is attempting to expand the disputes with China over the South China Sea through the documentary by winning more support from its people and the international community, especially the US, said Wang Xiaopeng, an expert in maritime and border studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "But its inappropriate handling of the issue will be harmful to the country and also jeopardize regional security and stability. The country is making excuses for the US to deepen its involvement over South China Sea disputes," Wang said. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has made several "China-threat" remarks in speeches and interviews. During a visit to Japan in early June, Aquino likened China to Nazi Germany, hinting at similarities between Beijing's activities in the South China Sea and Nazi Germany's expansionist moves before World War II. The Philippines has been involved in provocative acts in the South China Sea in the past years - from illegally occupying China-owned islands to detaining Chinese fishing vessels, to increasing the number of servicemen on disputed islands. A significant factor behind all these acts is the Philippines' misconception that countries like the US and Japan will back it up, said Ren Xiao, director of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University. However, the Philippines is very wrong in holding that belief, as countries like the US are seeking a very different purpose in the region - a rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, experts said. "Pinning hopes on the US to achieve its purpose will only harm the Philippines itself, as the US would abandon the Philippines immediately if it adjusts its current policy in the Asia-Pacific region," Wang said. Trade and economic cooperation between the Philippines and its surrounding countries will be greatly affected, and in the long term, the deepened conflicts between China and the US would disrupt regional security, he said. The way forward is for Manila to hold direct talks with Beijing and skip the irrelevant parties of the US and Japan, however this has now become unlikely due to an aggressive Philippines government, Ren said. Analysts also believe that Aquino may try to win support for the presidential election in 2016 by preaching the "China-threat." Recently, the Philippines attempted to broaden influence in the international community by filing an arbitration case against China and also made unwarranted accusations over China's activities in the South China Sea at the at the 25th Meeting of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which was held at the UN headquarters in New York last week. China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, Wang Min, rebutted the accusations Friday and said that the country is trying to deceive the international community and pressure China into making compromises and concessions on issues concerning its sovereignty and territorial integrity. "Let me make this very clear to that country here: Its calculations are totally wrong. China's will to safeguard her sovereignty and territorial integrity is rock firm. No matter what and how much they say at this meeting or any UN venues, they will never get their way," Wang said. ^ top ^

China may sign free-trade deal with Australia this week (SCMP)
2015-06-16
China and Australia may sign a long-awaited free-trade agreement (FTA) as soon as this week, Chinese and Australian media reported, a deal that will facilitate bilateral trade and investment and also help Beijing counter the influences of another major regional pact led by Washington. After nine years of lengthy negotiations, Australia would become the biggest developed economy to sign an FTA deal with China, following a similar pact between Beijing and Seoul on June 1. Australia is also one of the 12 nations led by the United States in talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which seeks to link 40 per cent of the global economy, with China so far excluded. Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng would fly to Australia this week to finalise the FTA text, the National Business Daily reported on Monday, without citing any sources. The Australian, a newspaper owned by News Corp, said the text would be released on Thursday. An official at the Ministry of Commerce told the South China Morning Post the two nations had agreed late last year to sign the deal this month, but the exact date was still being finalised. Trade between the two countries hit US$136.9 billion last year. An FTA deal will eliminate all import tariffs for Australian products such as iron ore, diary, wool and cotton to the mainland, and for most Chinese products that are shipped to Australia. The threshold for investment into each other's markets will also be greatly lowered. In 2014, iron ore imported from Australia to the mainland, the world's largest consumer of the commodity, rose 32 per cent, to a record 548 million tonnes. The US-led TPP, which has been making progress towards being realised, is part of Washington's strategy to counter Beijing's growing economic and diplomatic influences in the region. “For Beijing, reaching more favourable trade pacts with other countries will dramatically offset the blows likely exerted on China by the TPP deal,” Liu Yuanchun, head of the global economy and trade department at Renmin University, told the Post. United States President Barack Obama on Friday gained “fast-track” approval for the TPP pact, but the approval is attached to wider legislation that remains stuck in the House of Representatives. They are expected to revisit the wider legislation today. Washington has demanded that newcomers to the TPP must meet high standards on issues such as intellectual property rights, which China has found hard to follow. Gao said in March that China was paying attention to the progress of the TPP deal, while he vowed to “unswervingly push ahead and speed up” the pace of China's FTA strategy. ^ top ^

China, Uzbekistan to strengthen cooperation under the Silk Road initiative (Xinhua)
2015-06-16
Top Chinese security official Meng Jianzhu and First Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Rustam Azimov agreed to expand trade and economic cooperation under the framework of the "Belt initiatives" on Monday. During the third meeting of the China-Uzbekistan intergovernmental committee of cooperation held in China's northern city of Rizhao, Shandong Province, the two senior officials agreed to deepen all-round cooperation and strengthen ties as China's Silk Road Economic Belt initiative rolls out. "Co-building the Silk Road Economic Belt will present a major opportunity for developing China-Uzbekistan relations," Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said at the opening ceremony of China-Uzbekistan trade and economic forum prior to the meeting. Meng said China and Uzbekistan should implement the various consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and push bilateral cooperation to a higher level and a greater scope. Efforts should be made on further deepening political mutual trust and connecting each other's development strategies, further optimizing trade structure and expanding cooperation scale, further improving investment environment and ensuring smooth trade, further coordinating infrastructure building and boosting connectivity, Meng said. China is an intimate friend and trustworthy partner of Uzbekistan, Azimov said, adding that Uzbekistan will actively participate in various projects under the framework of the "Belt initiatives" and expand and deepen all-round cooperation. Meng and Azimov signed a memorandum after their two-hour meeting and witnessed the signing of a pact to boost economic cooperation between the two countries' commerce ministries, under the framework of Silk Road Economic Belt initiative. China-Uzbekistan intergovernmental cooperation committee, established five years ago, played a central role as a mechanism in planning, guiding and coordinating the two countries' all-round cooperation. As the chairman of the respective side of the committee, Meng and Azimov hoped the intergovernmental cooperation committee would continue to play its critical role and contribute to cementing the two countries' bilateral strategic partnership. ^ top ^

China's graft watchdog vows to continue crackdown on corrupt government officials (SCMP)
2015-06-16
The top graft watchdog has vowed to root out corrupt heads of central and local government departments – no matter how difficult the task – as it focuses its investigations on suspects that have continued to offend since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012. In an article on the Central Committee for Discipline Inspection's website yesterday, it said that although the situation for the anti-corruption drive remained difficult and complex, the campaign's strong impetus would not falter. “Within a group, the leader is the most important person, who decides the political ecology of a locality or a department,” it said. “[The cases of] those heads with severe problems should be tackled – no matter how difficult.” The watchdog presented its efforts in a metaphor, vowing to root out all the “rotten trees” in a “forest” to prevent the infection of corruption from spreading. Peking University anti-graft expert Zhuang Deshui said government heads at various levels were very powerful and it was hard for graft-busters at the same level to keep their power in check, which exposed the position to a higher risk of corruption. “Around one-third of the corruption cases were related to the heads,” Zhuang said. “Taking down corrupted heads can bring a deterrent effect and send a message to the public.” China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said government department heads included both senior officials and low-ranking cadres. “The article did not specify which level of government heads would be targeted,” Lau said. “The graft probes at the lower level have not stopped, but they have slowed at the middle to senior levels.” The CCDI's article said the crackdown should remain focused. “The focus of the investigation should be on officials who have not restrained themselves since the 18th party congress [in November 2012], who have many problems and have received serious complaints from the public, and who hold key positions and may be promoted,” it said. In investigating cadres who violate party rules banning official extravagance, emphasis would also be on offences committed after the 18th party congress, especially after the new rules were introduced. Zhuang said while the focus was to suppress new cases, it did not mean the government would let off previous offenders. The report was the fourth of a series of articles the CCDI had published since last month to shed light for the public on its operations and internal reforms, including urging the party's anti-graft agents to seek approvals from their leaders before conducting investigations, not to focus only on the big cases, and to leave the investigations of criminal offences to the government prosecutors. Peng Xinlin, associate professor at the Beijing Normal University's College for Criminal Law Science, who is researching the crackdown, said the campaign had entered a transition phase. “On the surface, it has achieved a milestone, but it needs innovation in the system and mechanics,” Peng said. ^ top ^

China says land reclamation projects in disputed South China Sea territory to finish 'within days' (SCMP)
2015-06-17
Beijing will complete its land reclamation works in the disputed South China Sea within days, the Chinese foreign ministry says. It would then go on to build infrastructure on its territorial claims, it said on Tuesday. "As planned, the land reclamation projects on the Nansha Islands will be completed in the upcoming days," foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, using the Chinese name for the Spratlys. He did not specify the timeframe, however. "Apart from satisfying the need for military defence, the main purpose of the reclamation projects is to meet various civilian demands and better carry out China's international obligations and responsibilities." The statement came after military top brass General Fan Changlong's visit to the United States last week, during which the South China Sea territorial disputes topped the agenda at his meeting with US Defence Secretary Ash Carter. It also came ahead of the annual high-level Strategic and Economic Dialogue between China and the US in Washington next week. Experts say the statement is aimed at informing the US and claimants that the reclamation will not go on indefinitely. "Beijing wants to tell the Western media as well as Asian countries not to stir up the reclamation issue any more, because the size of the reclaimed land will soon be fixed," said Professor Wang Hanling, a marine affairs and international law expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The US says Beijing has reclaimed more than 2,000 acres of land in the South China Sea over the past 18 months - more than all other claimants combined. Carter last month said the reclamation had become a source of tension in the region and that the key problem was "it's unclear how much further China will go". But Wang said: "In fact, China has lagged Vietnam and the Philippines in reclaiming land for many years." It was unfair to blame China because it was also providing maritime search and rescue help as well as disaster relief to those Asian countries who had claims in the South China Sea, he said. Naval expert Li Jie said Beijing's statement increased its transparency and might help ease tension over its island expansion plans in the region. "Whether they are military or civilian constructions, all these projects will be completed when the reinforcement measures for the artificial islands is done," Li said. "We can expect more aerodromes, lighthouses and disaster relief facilities on those islands." Beijing's reclamation works have caused friction with the US, Japan, the Philippines and other countries in the region who fear China will use the islands as military bases and to assert control over the South China Sea. ^ top ^

China switches diplomatic focus from sea disputes to its economic vision (SCMP)
2015-06-17
China is taking a different approach to security forums and high-level diplomatic exchanges to shift global attention away from its actions in the South China Sea and towards its "One Belt, One Road" campaign, analysts say. The goal is to take advantage of the opportunities to showcase the benefits that projects like the Beijing-led infrastructure bank can bring to the region, they say. The new tact was on display at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last month. Defence delegations and experts from about 30 countries listened to Chinese officials lay down a vision for a more connected region - but one that still serves Beijing's interests in shifting the mainland economy outwards. "China proposes the 'Belt and Road' initiative, and is in the process of establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and all of these will bring tangible benefits to countries in the region," Admiral Sun Jianguo, China's top military representative, told the forum. General Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, echoed a similar line during his visit to Washington last week. Fan called on his US counterpart Ash Carter to avoid stoking tensions over the South China Sea issue, and instead "take the higher ground to look into the far future by paying more attention to other, more important regional and international issues". The United States and regional claimants to the South China Sea say Beijing's reclamation work in the area could be used for military purposes, and may be a precursor to an air defence identification zone, like the one established in the East China Sea. Beijing insists the new structures will benefit civilian maritime traffic. A Chinese international relations scholar said delegates in previous years were told to be ready to eat humble pie at international security forums. "We once described Asia security forums as denunciation meetings, with Beijing playing the role of a new landlord criticised by small Asian countries like how peasants scolded their bosses" during the Cultural Revolution, said the scholar, who requested anonymity. "But now Beijing has realised these large security forums like the Shangri-La Dialogue can be an ideal showcase to promote new initiatives like the New Silk Road strategy and the AIIB." Professor Wang Yiwei, an American studies expert at Renmin University, said the "One Belt" plan was not just a diplomatic objective, but also an economic initiative that would need decades for China to break even. "China is willing to do it because it has to seek overseas markets for further development after economic opening up and rapid growth over the past three decades," Wang said. "China cannot repeat the road taken by the US … to exclude some countries because this is a 21st century new model." Dr Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy, a research associate at the Institute of South Asian Studies at National University of Singapore, said the lack of political trust between Beijing and its neighbours had made selling that vision more difficult. "The initiative aims to seize the opportunity of transforming Asia and to create strategic space for China. Some people feel that through this initiative China is trying to 're-establish a China-dominated regional order'," Rajeev said. "Many countries in the region, including India, are not fully convinced. I think China has yet to cultivate much-needed political and strategic trust." ^ top ^

China calls for three common energy markets to be set up in Asia (SCMP)
2015-06-17
China is seeking to set up three common energy markets in Asia to help meet its need for cheap power sources and facilitate regional economic development. The plan, which capitalises on President Xi Jinping's "One Belt, One Road" initiative to foster closer economic cooperation in Asia, Europe and Africa, is highly feasible, according to a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Released at the Global Forum on Energy Security in Beijing on Monday, the report calls for three common energy markets to be set up - in Northeast Asia, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. "The formation of common energy markets through a shared financial platform is crucial," the academy's vice-president Cai Fang was quoted by Thepaper.cn as saying, as he urged greater currency and financial cooperation between China and the nations along the new Silk Road economic belt. "This is very important. We can learn from the experience of North America and the European Union," he said. Cai noted that China had become the world's largest consumer of energy and that it was therefore critical for the country to establish common markets to obtain cheap energy sources. Beijing could help build convenient, low-cost transport infrastructure within the markets to facilitate the trade in energy among the countries, he said. The academy's report also proposed setting up natural gas trading centres in East Asia and Southeast Asia, which would also leverage on the "One Belt, One Road" initiative. Additionally, it called for the construction of an energy pipeline between China and Central Asia, and for grid- and hydro-power cooperation with Southeast Asia. Cai, who was invited to address the opening of the energy forum, said the "One Belt, One Road" economic initiative was aligned with China's inland and maritime energy import passage. This would help strengthen energy cooperation between China and the countries along the passage, he said. The Silk Road belt passes through Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Malacca Strait and the South China Sea. Other experts at the energy forum highlighted the role that regional energy infrastructure cooperation played in building a more integrated and stable energy market. "By providing both technological and physical assistance to energy infrastructure development in Asia, the 'One Belt, One Road' strategy is expected to strengthen the capacity of less-developed Asian countries," Dr Patrick Ho, from the China Energy Fund Committee, was quoted by China Radio International as saying. Ho said such cooperation would create affordable access to more energy resources, thus promoting sustainable economic and social development among the nations involved. The forum's secretary general, Liu Qiang, said an energy trading hub in northern Hebei province's Caofeidian could form part of the Northeast Asian common energy market. ^ top ^

China to further cooperate with Iraq, says diplomat (Xinhua)
2015-06-17
Senior Chinese and Iraqi diplomats agreed to push forward cooperation in various fields on Tuesday in Beijing. Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi told visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari that China backs Iraq on its efforts to safeguard national sovereignty, territorial integrity and promote domestic stability. Yang stressed China is ready to expand bilateral cooperation in energy, infrastructure and other sectors under the country's "Belt and Road" framework so as to help Iraq to accelerate its economic reconstruction. Al-Jaafari said that Iraq appreciates China's strong support, is willing to further enhance cooperation with China in various areas and upgrade bilateral relations. Earlier Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Al-Jaafari in Beijing. Al-Jaafari is paying an official visit to China from June 13 to 17 as a guest of Wang. ^ top ^

China, Central Asia seek cooperation on Silk Road Economic Belt (Xinhua)
2015-06-17
The Silk Road Economic Belt was highlighted in the third China-Central Asia cooperation forum in Rizhao, Shandong Province on Tuesday. Speaking at the forum, Meng Jianzhu, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, lauded the achievements by China and Central Asian nations. He called on all those present at the forum to work together to build a new Silk Road based on inclusiveness, mutual benefit, peace and cultural integration. First Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Rustam Azimov, Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Valery Dil and representatives from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan attended the forum. Azimov and Dil praised the initiative, saying there were many opportunities for pragmatic cooperation. During a visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed that China and Central Asian nations collaborate on the Silk Road Economic Belt to boost cooperation. ^ top ^

Russian gov't approves draft bill to boost trade with China (Xinhua)
2015-06-17
The Russian government on Tuesday approved a draft bill to boost the country's trade with China within the mechanism of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an upcoming summit of the bloc is to be held in Russia. The bill, submitted for government consideration by Russian Foreign Ministry and Transportation Ministry, would simplify and harmonize the SCO countries' national procedures regarding cross-border road transit, according to a government statement. In particular, it will lifts the existing ban on the entry of Russian vehicles to China through border check points from Kazakhstan, and as a result, boost the trade turnover between Russian and China, said the statement. The bill will be reviewed at a government session later. 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, with a summit to be held in Ufa, the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia, in early July. ^ top ^

Chinese top legislator calls for strengthening cooperation between legislatures of China, India (Xinhua)
2015-06-17
Chinese top legislator Zhang Dejiang has called for strengthening cooperation between legislative bodies of China and India. Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), arrived in New Delhi on Saturday for his four-day official friendly visit at the invitation of Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Vice President of India and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or Upper House of Indian Parliament, and Sumitra Mahajan, Speaker of the Lok Sabha or Lower House of Indian Parliament. This is Chinese top legislator's first visit to India in 14 years. Zhang discussed the issue with the two parliament leaders of India respectively, saying one of purposes of his visit is to upgrade the level and improve the quality of the current cooperation between the legislative bodies of the two countries. Zhang proposed that the two sides should carry out more close exchanges of legislative bodies at all levels to increase mutual understanding, strengthen experiences of governance exchanges, and seek a better understanding of each other's policies and laws to establish well-being legal environment to promote strategic and pragmatic cooperation between the two countries. Leaders of both houses of the Indian parliament expressed wish to have more contacts with China's NPC and exchange experiences in economic and social development, lawmaking and law enforcement. During his visit, Zhang also met with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Zhang conveyed the cordial greeting from Chinese President Xi Jinping during his meeting with the Indian president on Monday. During his meeting with the Indian president, Zhang said China and India have thousands of years of friendly exchanges and a history of mutual learning and benefiting from each other's culture. Today the two neighbors have become not only the two biggest developing countries, but also the two most dynamic market economies in the world, he pointed out. "The two countries should join hands to realize goals for peaceful development, cooperative development and inclusive development, in order to benefit the 2.5 billion people of the two countries," he said. Mukherjee asked Zhang to convey his good wishes to President Xi. He said India always pays great importance to developing good neighborly relations and friendly with China and is willing to strengthen cooperation and increase exchanges with China in all fields. Raising the bilateral relations to new heights will help realize common development and prosperity of both countries, he added. ^ top ^

China willing to further cooperation with Czech Republic (Global Times)
2015-06-17
China is willing to work with the Czech Republic to expand areas of cooperation and lift bilateral ties to new stages, visiting Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong has said.Liu made the remarks while meeting with Bohuslav Sobotka, prime minister of the Czech Republic, on Monday in Prague. The vice premier said the "Belt and Road" initiatives will offer new, important opportunities for the development of Sino-Czech ties. She urged both sides to take advantage of the cooperation platform between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) and lift China-CEEC cooperation to a new level in the process of jointly advancing the construction of "Belt and Road." Sobotka said his country considers deepening friendly cooperation with China as a priority target of its foreign policies and is willing to advance exchanges and cooperation with China in trade, technology, transport, environmental protection, healthcare, sports and films and television, etc. Moreover, he said the Czech side appreciates China-proposed "Belt and Road" initiatives, which is good for promoting common development of the countries along the "Belt and Road," and his country is willing to actively participate in the process. ^ top ^

China reveals details on new facilities at Spratly Islands in disputed South China Sea (SCMP)
2015-06-18
The Chinese government yesterday rolled out more details of the building work it is undertaking in the disputed South China Sea, listing lighthouses, communications stations and other facilities for civilian and emergency use. Beijing stepped up its creation of artificial islands last year, alarming its Asian neighbours and drawing criticism from Washington. A senior United States government official urged China on Tuesday to immediately stop building facilities in disputed areas, while welcoming its announcement that the work there would be completed soon. "The stopping of the reclamation work is, that's welcome," a State Department official said, after Beijing announced earlier in the day that its reclamation activities around reefs in the Spratly Islands would be over "within days". But the official criticised China for planning to use the artificial islands for military purposes, saying: "That's not helpful and not productive." China's top planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, says the construction on the islands will help with maritime search and rescue, disaster relief, environmental protection and offer navigational assistance as well as fulfil undefined military purposes. The commission said it had drawn up a plan for the use of civil facilities on the Spratlys, and that these facilities would help improve living conditions there and also fulfil China's international obligations on environmental monitoring, disaster relief and navigational safety. Large lighthouses for navigation were included in the building plan, along with base stations for wireless navigation equipment, weather stations to monitor for tsunamis, scientific research stations, as well as equipment to tackle oil spills, it said. Facilities will also be provided for the supply of search and rescue ships and places for fishing boats to seek shelter from storms, the commission said, although it did not mention what sort of harbours or docks would be built. It did not give a timeframe for when the facilities were expected to be completed. ^ top ^

Premier Li pledges fruitful Summer Davos in China's Dalian (Xinhua)
2015-06-18
The annual Summer Davos forum will be held in northern China's port city of Dalian in September, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in Beijing on Wednesday, pledging to boost innovation and entrepreneurship. Li made the remarks while meeting with visiting World Economic Forum (WEF) Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab. "We are willing to make joint efforts with the WEF to determine a visionary and inclusive subject for the forum," Li told Schwab. A sub-forum on international capacity cooperation and economic transformation will be held during the summer Davos forum, which would help integrate China's advantages in capacity and equipment manufacturing with developed countries' advanced technology and management experience, said the premier. "This will meet the developing countries' need to build infrastructure and industrialization, and promote recovery and growth for the global economy," Li said. Schwab recalled Li's important speech at this year's WEF winter meeting in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, saying it had helped to boost the international community's confidence for China's development. The summer Davos forum will focus on innovation, entrepreneurship and creation, which fits the direction of China's economic development, he said. The WEF values China's important role in global affairs, and hopes to cement cooperation with China, Schwab said. Li said China is glad to see the WEF's new progress, and expects it to play greater role in boosting understanding and cooperation between China and the world. In face with deep changes of global economy and downward pressure, the Chinese government strives to stimulate market vitality, and promote mass entrepreneurship and innovation through reforms such as streamlining administration and improving service, Li said. Since May this year, China's economic data, including those for industry, investment, consumption, import and export, has been stable and continues to recover, he said, adding employment has maintained sound momentum. "We will continue to transfer development, adjust structure and improve the quality and efficiency of economic development, in order to maintain rapid growth of the Chinese economy," Li said. ^ top ^

Senior CPC official meets European Parliament S&D group delegation (Xinhua)
2015-06-18
Senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Liu Yunshan on Wednesday met with a Socialists and Democrats delegation from the European Parliament. The delegation was led by Gianni Pittella, president of the group in the European Parliament. Liu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, underscored the importance China placed on developing ties with the European Union and pledged to work with the EU to implement the consensus reached during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Europe last year, and promote China-Europe partnership. The CPC would like to work with the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament to deepen inter-party relations and inject vitality into China-Europe relations, Liu said. China, while maintaining the steady and sound growth of its economy, will continue to open to the outside world, promote the Belt and Road Initiative and share development opportunities with other countries, Liu said. The Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, are a Chinese framework for connecting economies in Asia Pacific and Europe. Pittella hailed China as Europe's important partner, saying various groups in the European Parliament are committed to developing ties with China. Pittella called for regular inter-party exchanges to promote Europe-China comprehensive and strategic partnership. After Beijing, Pittella and his delegation will travel to Shanghai, east China. ^ top ^

Investors caught in alleged $1.2b scam (China Daily)
2015-06-17
Chinese investors have flown 5,000 miles (8,047 kilometers) to show up on doorsteps in Geneva and demand their money back. This has been the fallout so far from an alleged scam that its victims say robbed 29,000 Chinese investors of $1.2 billion. They were promised returns of as much as 10 percent a month from currency trading by API Premiere Swiss Trust AG and associated companies, according to interviews with six victims and documents they shared during the past three months. The money disappeared from their accounts in January, the investors claimed. "We wanted to know the truth," Chen Biya, 43, an advertising agency owner in Beijing who flew to Geneva in late March with two-dozen fellow investors to try to recover their missing millions, said. They sought redress at API's locked former offices, the public prosecutor and in meetings with lawyers. They then went to Bern and Zurich to appeal to the Chinese embassy and Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, known as Finma. "But nobody has been able to tell us the entire story," Chen said. Unprecedented billions of yuan flowing from China and into investments around the world are creating opportunities for fraudsters, as well as legitimate money managers trying to get their hands on the cash. The cross-border nature of the flows is posing challenges for regulators and crime fighters alike. "Frankly, the law enforcement authorities tend to be focused only within their own jurisdictions and move deadly slowly on investigations," Steve Vickers, of Hong Kong-based risk consultancy Steve Vickers & Associates, said. Geneva's public prosecutor confirmed it is investigating API and an associated company, Alpen Asset Management Trust Sarl. Both are described as "heavily indebted" by Finma, which initiated bankruptcy proceedings against them last month. In January, Finma issued a public warning that API and Alpen were wrongly claiming to be licensed and supervised by the Swiss regulator. It came about 10 days after the investors said they discovered their accounts had been emptied. ^ top ^

China, Russia to increase bilateral investment, financial cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-06-18
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli arrived here Wednesday evening to advance bilateral investment and financial cooperation as Chinese and Russian companies are to seal the contract on a high-speed railway in Russia. During his stay in St. Petersburg, Zhang will also attend the 19th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Zhang is the third senior Chinese leader who visited Russia in just over one month, following Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit in May and top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang's visit earlier this month. Zhang's visit is aimed to implement the consensus that Chinese President Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached during Xi's visit to Moscow. The two presidents agreed to further expand cooperation in investment, finance and a number of other fields. During his visit, Zhang will attend the second meeting of the China-Russia Investment Cooperation Committee along with his Russian counterpart, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov. The two sides will discuss how to fully utilize the investment cooperation mechanism to advance large-scale projects and further facilitate investment in the other country. According to official statistics, China's investment in Russia has been growing steadily over the past few years. Chinese direct investment in Russia, including those via third countries, totaled 33 billion U.S. dollars by 2014. A group of Chinese and Russian companies are expected to officially sign a contract this week on jointly conducting pre- construction survey and design of the Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway. The 770-kilometer railway is a key infrastructure development project for Russia. It is estimated to cost more than 20 billion U.S. dollars. Upon completion in 2018, the rail link will dramatically reduce the travel time between Moscow and Kazan from 14 hours to three and half hours. It will become part of the planned Beijing-Moscow high-speed transport corridor. Beside the high-speed railway, China and Russia are also working on such large-scale cooperation projects as cross-border natural gas pipelines, the development of large, wide-body airplanes and development strategy of the Far East region. Both China and Russia have injected more and more financial resources to these cooperation projects. The central banks of the two countries signed a currency swap agreement worth 150 billion yuan RMB or 815 billion Rubles (24 billion U.S. dollars) last October. The amount of RMB currency used in bilateral trade settlement at the Russian branch of Bank of China grew more than six times last year, according to branch chief Zhao Lianjie. The National Development Bank of China, a state-owned bank for financing overseas investment by Chinese companies, has signed cooperation agreement with three major banks of Russia in May to finance large-scale cooperation projects and the development of the Far East region. China and Russia have also stepped up financial cooperation on such multilateral platforms as the Silk Road Fund and the Asia Infrastructure Development Bank. Under the direct guidance of top leaders of both countries, investment and financial cooperation has become a new growth point for China-Russia all-round strategic cooperation partnership. Two- way trade is expected to top 100 billion U.S. dollars this year after reaching an all-time high of 95.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2014. ^ top ^

China expected to submit climate action plan to the UN before July (Global Times)
2015-06-18
China is expected to submit its post-2020 climate action plan to the UN by the end of the month, which will lay out measures to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and increase its renewable energy consumption, experts said.The action plan, called the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), was put under review on Friday in a meeting presided over by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the Xinhua News Agency reported. China pledged in the joint announcement on climate change that it and the US signed after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November 2014 in Beijing that its carbon dioxide emissions will no longer increase around 2030 and that by the same year around 20 percent of China's energy will come from non-fossil fuel sources. "The joint China-US announcement serves as the cornerstone of China's INDC, and in the action plan, China is unlikely to promise an earlier emissions peak or a more ambitious non-fossil energy goal," Wang Tao, a scholar with the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, told the Global Times. China will be the last major emitter of carbon dioxide to submit its action plan ahead of climate change talks in Paris at the end of the year, following the US and all EU members, Guo Hongyu, program officer at the Climate and Finance Policy Center of the Beijing-based NGO Greenovation Hub, told the Global Times. "China's widely-expected INDC will guide and motivate other countries, especially developing countries, to prepare their own INDCs," she noted. In addition to the two main goals outlined in the joint announcement, the World Resources Institute, a global energy and environment think tank, hopes that the INDC may contain a post-2020 emissions intensity goal, which would lay out a target in terms of emissions per unit of GDP, and a forest restoration goal, which would "shed further light on China's future emissions trajectory," read a press release issued by its China office on Tuesday. China pledged in 2014 to reduce its carbon emissions intensity to 40 to 45 percent below the 2005 level by 2020. The country's carbon emissions intensity dropped to 28.5 percent below the 2005 level in 2013, equal to a decrease in annual emissions of 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide, according to Xinhua. ^ top ^

Thailand confirms first case of Mers as cost of South Korean patient in China put at 8 million yuan (SCMP)
2015-06-19
Thai health officials yesterday confirmed the country's first case of Mers since a deadly outbreak of the virus hit South Korea. "The man is from a Middle Eastern country. Test results confirmed he has the Middle East respiratory syndrome," Thailand's health minister, Rajata Rajatanavin, said. The 75-year-old had arrived in the kingdom with his family three days ago, he added. The news came amid reports that Guangdong had spent more than eight million yuan (HK$10 million) and deployed more than 60 medical staff in treating a South Korean patient infected with the deadly virus. The 44-year-old patient, surnamed Kim, was admitted to a Huizhou hospital on May 28, having travelled to the mainland via Hong Kong. Three weeks later, he is said to be recovering well, but has not been given a release date from the hospital. "We spared no effort to rescue the patient, whatever the cost. Our experts and our medicine were the best," Huang Yuliang, deputy head of the Huizhou Central People's Hospital, told the Guangzhou Daily. World Health Organisation head Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun yesterday praised South Korean officials, saying their efforts to contain the outbreak had lowered the risk to the public. But Chan also said their initial sluggish reaction might have contributed to the virus spreading more widely than expected. Early on, South Korean officials had struggled to trace people who had come into contact with the virus and they initially refused to identify hospitals where patients were treated. More than eight million yuan had been spent buying equipment to treat Kim, said Huizhou health bureau head Xu Angao. Kim had been treated in a negative-pressure isolation ward and he also required a blood gas analyser and a respiratory gas humidifier, Xu said. The hospital also set up a laboratory with bio-containment precautions to monitor him. Thirteen doctors and more than 50 nurses treated Kim and 25 experts had consulted on the case. These included Zhong Nanshan, who exposed the government cover-up of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003. Eight patients who were being treated in the intensive care unit had to be transferred. To protect staff, the provincial Health and Family Planning Commission allocated 300 protective suits, 150 pairs of protective glasses and four sterilising sprays to the hospital. Lin Yun, head of the ICU, said Kim had not developed a fever in the past 10 days, but the virus was still in his body. ^ top ^

American firms urge China to open up its economy to secure investment treaty with US (SCMP)
2015-06-19
Opening more sectors in China's economy to foreign competition is the critical element to successfully negotiating an investment treaty with the United States and building stronger financial links between the world's biggest economies, according to a US trade group. After seven years of talks on the treaty, both countries agreed last week to start what is probably the most contentious stage: formal discussions on market access. The two sides swapped “negative lists”, which outline which sectors of each economy will be closed to the other side's investors. The so-called Bilateral Investment Treaty is likely to be a focus at the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington next week. China is the United States'second-largest trading partner after Canada, with a total US$590 billion in trade last year. “For the two largest economies in the world, the investment relationship is clearly still in its early stages and probably ought to be bigger, if investment barriers could be removed,” said John Frisbie, president of the US-China Business Council. US officials are still assessing the initial offer from China, but so far they believe there is room for improvement. An industry source who is following the negotiations closely said expectations for the offer were low, and were not exceeded. “The word is that it's a fairly poor offer; that's not surprising in the least,” the source said. China has more restrictions on foreign investment than the United States and US investors hope a treaty will give them increased access to China's many state-dominated industries, from financial services to agriculture and healthcare. Frisbie said the US share of total foreign direct investment in China is only five per cent and the share for China in the United States is even less than that. “The negative list is going to determine the pace and the prospects for moving ahead” on the treaty, he said. A US State Department official said the United States has few limits on foreign investment and hopes China will follow the same approach. “We continue to emphasise to China that to successfully conclude the negotiations of this agreement, it will be critical for China's negative list to be very limited and narrow and to represent substantial liberalisation," said Kerry Humphrey, from the State Department's economic and business affairs bureau. China's Finance Minister has criticised a US negative list proposal for outlining prohibitions on key infrastructure, technology and national security investments without providing specific definitions. ^ top ^

MOD discusses defense white papers on Japan visit (Global Times)
2015-06-19
A press delegation from China's Ministry of National Defense (MOD) led by its spokesperson Geng Yansheng visited Japan's Ministry of Defense on Tuesday and Wednesday and the two sides exchanged opinions on their respective defense white papers and publicity work, the MOD announced on Thursday.Experts said the move put the 2014 four-point agreement between China and Japan in which they pledged dialogues on a variety of topics - including defense - into practice but that the two sides need to make further efforts to reduce mutual suspicion. The two sides reached a consensus that such exchanges can enhance mutual understanding during the two-day talks. The MOD delegation said it hoped that the Chinese military could be presented more objectively in Japan's defense white papers and urged the Japanese side to stop playing up the Chinese military threat." The communication mechanism between the publicity departments of the two defense ministries was established in 2010, but was suspended in 2012 after Japan unilaterally "nationalized" the Diaoyu Islands. "The exchange is part of the dialogues stressed in the four-point agreement reached during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November 2014," said Lü Yaodong, director of the Department of Japanese Diplomacy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The two sides will gradually resume political, diplomatic and security dialogues and build mutual political trust, said the 2014 agreement. The Chinese side proposed the meeting to introduce its white paper, Japan's Kyodo News reported. "The voluntary offer demonstrated China's sincerity to remove misunderstandings about its military strategy," Lü said. The Japanese side expressed its hope that China could make its deployment of equipment and troops "more transparent," Kyodo reported. "Japan's concerns [about China's military power] cannot be dismissed via such exchanges as military matters are by no means fully transparent,"said a Beijing-based expert who requested anonymity. ^ top ^

China's top political advisor vows closer ties with Slovenia (Xinhua)
2015-06-19
China's top political advisor, Yu Zhengsheng, met with Mitja Bervar, president of Slovenia's upper house National Council, in Beijing on Thursday, vowing to strengthen bilateral ties. Hailing the friendship between the countries, Yu said China values its relations with Slovenia, and considers it a good friend and partner. Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said the CPPCC is ready for more exchanges with Slovenia's upper house National Council to share experience. Bervar said Slovenia is committed to closer cooperation with China in the economy, culture and education. ^ top ^

Poland sets up consulate general in China's Chengdu (Xinhua)
2015-06-19
Poland on Thursday opened a consulate general in southwest China's Chengdu to develop deeper economic ties with the region. The consulate general in Chengdu is Poland's fourth consulate general in China. Poland ambassador Tadeusz Chomicki said he had hoped to open a consulate in Chengdu since the early years of his career. Chengdu is the starting point of a freight railway linking southwest China with Poland. The Chengdu government said it would build the city into a trade hub for European companies to run businesses in China and southeast Asia. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Former China Communist Party senior official Qiao Shi dies at 91 (SCMP)
2015-06-15
Former chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee Qiao Shi, known as a moderate reformist, died in Beijing yesterday morning aged 91. Xinhua reported Qiao died of an unspecified illness for which he was being treated. Qiao was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee - the Communist Party's top decision-making body - from 1987 to 1997, at a time when the party was led by Zhao Ziyang and then Jiang Zemin. A statement by the Central Committee called Qiao a "time-tested and loyal communist soldier" and an "outstanding proletarian revolutionist". Qiao was considered a political rival of former president Jiang in the 1980s, and seen as a contender for the top leadership. But Jiang became president in 1993, while Qiao took up the position of NPC chairman. While there, he tried to rid it of its image as a rubber-stamp body, insisting the institution had a crucial role to play in establishing the rule of law. He oversaw its work in economic legislation and strongly advocated for strengthening the mainland's legal system. Qiao retired in March 1998 and since then remained out of the limelight. "Everyone should do things according to the law. The constitution and the party constitution both stipulate that the party should also act within the boundaries laid down by the law," he was quoted as saying during an inspection visit to Guizhou province in 1994. Qiao also called for a rejuvenation of the leadership. "It is only when young cadres are given the chance for promotion that China will have hope for the future," he reportedly said at a private function. Qiao was considered as having had a key role in how Beijing handled the 1989 Tiananmen students' democracy movement, but there is no consensus on whether he supported the crackdown against the students. Born in Shanghai, Qiao took part in underground party activities from the age of 16 and was a major leader of Shanghai's student movement. At 30, he was transferred to the iron and steel industry and worked for two state-owned companies. He was transferred to the party's International Department but was harshly persecuted and forced to work on a farm in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. After the turmoil, Qiao returned to the International Department as its vice-chief. He rose through the ranks and served as the Central Committee's chief of staff, chief of the Organisation Department, secretary of the Politics and Law Committee and director of the secretariat. He oversaw the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection from 1987 to 1992 and was the principal of the Central Party School before becoming the chairman of the NPC Standing Committee in 1993. Qiao Mu, a professor at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, said it was difficult for the public to accurately assess the late cadre's character. "Most simply rely on their subjective imagination or incomplete records to make comment. Those who complimented him reflect their lack of satisfaction with modern-day leaders. Qiao Shi kept a low profile and his family is scandal-free, his reputation is quite positive in that regard," he said. ^ top ^

2 dead, 4 missing as SW China braces heavy rain (Xinhua)
2015-06-15
Heavy rain battered south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, leaving two dead and four others missing, local civil affairs bureau said on Sunday. Heavy rainfall since Thursday has brought flood across eight cities and 25 counties across the autonomous region. Thunderbolt and building collapse caused by rain and flooding have left two dead and four missing. The adverse weather condition has forced 2,910 people to relocate and affected more than 23,130 hectare of crops, including 2,190 hectare that has failed. In Guilin, where picturesque scenery and limestone karst have drawn visitors from both China and abroad, days of raining has elevated water levels, prompting authorities to ground all vessels on the Lijiang River. ^ top ^

People's Daily warns against colour revolutions, blames 'spread of Western ideology' (SCMP)
2015-06-15
People's Daily has launched an assault on colour revolutions, saying the movements are a byproduct of the United States spreading its ideology. The Communist Party's mouthpiece yesterday filled its page five with five articles written by scholars exploring the roots of colour revolutions, their negative impacts, and how China might learn from the experience of those nations affected. The term came into common usage to describe movements in the former Soviet Union and the Balkans during the early 2000s, though it has since been used to refer to events in the Middle East and Ukraine. Generally, the movements use nonviolent resistance against authoritarian governments and use colours or flowers as their symbols. One of the articles in People's Daily was written by Xu Songwen, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He said colour revolutions were most likely in nations that had a combination of slow economic development, high unemployment, and corruption. “The one non-neglectable factor [in the development of] colour revolutions in these countries is the spreading of Western ideology, especially from the US,” Xu wrote. Zhang Zhizhou, professor of International Relations at Beijing Foreign Studies University, wrote that colour revolutions were an “aftershock” that followed the fall of the Soviet Union. He said blindly introducing Western social reforms led only to chaos. “There should be exploration of one's own path and model instead of following the 'superstition of Western institutions',” Zhang wrote. Other articles warned of “a high price to pay for nations that fall into the trap of colour revolutions” and described the movements as “enemies of national security” and “a source of rioting”. Commenting on the coverage, Professor Qiao Mu, dean of Beijing Foreign Studies University's Centre for International Communication Studies, said the paper was trying to provide theoretical justifications for “bashing” colour revolutions. “[It] offered public opinion guidance two to three years ago during the Arab Spring and the theoretical justification now is a form of conclusion,” Qiao said. Gu Su, professor of political philosophy at Nanjing University, agreed. “It is simply a systematic propaganda strategy to prevent the occurrence of democracy in China,” he said. ^ top ^

China's Forbidden City caps visitors at 80,000 daily (Global Times)
2015-06-15
The Palace Museum in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City, capped the amount of visitors to 80,000 per day on Saturday. The museum also now requires all travel agencies book tickets online and demand the use of ID when purchasing tickets. There were around 50,000 visitors at the museum on Saturday, which marked the country's 10th Cultural Heritage Day. The new measures are part of its efforts to better protect the palace, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Meanwhile, the museum will try to improve its service to tourists, said an official of the museum. Located in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City was home to China's emperors and was the highest center of power from 1420 to 1911. It attracts more than 15 million visitors annually. ^ top ^

12-year-old suspected of poisoning two girls in Hunan (Global Times)
2015-06-15
A 12-year-old person is suspected of poisoning two primary school girls to death in Hengyang county, Central China's Hunan Province, local authorities said Saturday. Police in Hengyang announced Saturday on its official Sina Weibo account that two girls died of drinking beverage mixed with pesticides on Wednesday. But they have declined to identify the suspect's gender or if they have arrested the person. The case is still under investigation, according to the police. Police said the suspect is an acquaintance of the two sisters and confessed that pesticides were deliberately placed in the beverage, without specifying the motive, the Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday. Police said they found one of the dead girls foaming at her mouth on a road in Hengyang after receiving a report from local residents on Wednesday. Half an hour later, the local health center reported another girl's death for poisoning. Local media reports previously claimed that the two sisters, who were 14 and 8, respectively, died after eating food in the garbage heap that contained pesticides due to hunger. According to Xiaoxiang Morning Herald, the girls' mother lives on collecting garbage and always forgets to cook for them. The two would sometimes eat the garbage. China has seen several similar violent cases over the years. In 2013, a 10-year-old girl's attack on an 18-month-old toddler in Chongqing shocked the public, as video footage showed the girl throwing the toddler to the ground in an elevator and kicked him several times. ^ top ^

China investigates over 2,100 officials for environment-related crimes (Xinhua)
2015-06-17
China's procuratorial agencies have investigated or prosecuted more than 2,163 officials for environment-related crimes over the past 16 months, authorities announced on Tuesday. The officials were suspected of bribery or dereliction of duty regarding environmental issues and accidents, the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) spokesperson Xiao Wei said at a press briefing. From January 2014 to the end of April 2015, procuratorates at all levels arrested 10,084 and prosecuted 28,707 people suspected of damaging the environment and resources, such as polluting the environment, illegal mining and stealing timber, said Xiao. The SPP will launch a two-year campaign to supervise law enforcement authorities' handling of environment violation cases, preventing possible corruption or duty dereliction while they are handling environment violation cases, Xiao added. She noted some authorities have not transferred such cases to prosecuting organs as the law stipulated or just turn a blind eye to the violations. The SPP will also focus on cracking down on duty-related crimes in areas related to major ecological restoration projects, mining resources, environment assessment and pollution treatment, she said. ^ top ^

Political advisors discuss issues in 13th five year plan (Xinhua)
2015-06-17
China's senior political advisors met on Tuesday to offer advice and suggestions on economic and social issues to be included in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). A total of 13 political advisors spoke at the Standing Committee meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, which was presided over by Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee. China should focus on fine-tuning and structural adjustment of the macro-economy, and preventing the volatility that comes with abrupt policy switches, said advisor Li Yining, also a top Chinese economist. He stressed an economic growth mode of "progressing while remaining stable." CPPCC Standing Committee member Li Yizhong suggested that China should accelerate economic upgrades in the next five years and transforming China's manufacturing industry from "big" to "strong." China should also comprehensively promote higher education among the people and build itself into a power of talent, according to CPPCC member Ma Dexiu. Other advisors also want the environment better protected and life of the ethnic minorities and people in the west parts of China further improved. China has drafted five-year plans since 1953 to map strategies for overall economic and social development, setting growth targets and defining development policies. ^ top ^

CPC issues rules to regulate leading Party members' groups (Xinhua)
2015-06-17
The Communist Party of China announced a new regulation that seeks to strengthen the guidance of its members in various state organs and non-Party units on Tuesday. "Leading Party members' groups", organizations of high-profile party members who gather to help implement CPC policy, may be formed in state organs, organizations or other non-Party units, including ministries, state-owned enterprises and associations for writers and other professions. They work to ensure the Party line, theories and policies are properly implemented at their host organization. Unlike elected Party committees, the composition of a leading Party members' group is decided by the Party organization that approves it. The regulation is the first of its kind targeting these groups since their inception 70 years ago. China now has more than 86,000 such groups at all levels. "History proves that the CPC enjoyed smooth progress whenever the role of leading Party members' groups was valued. On the other hand, difficulties emerged whenever their role was overlooked or weakened," Xie Chuntao with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee told Xinhua. However, only three articles in the CPC constitution offer general stipulations on the groups prior to the new rules, with the absence of specific functions and operation standards. The new regulation offers fresh guidelines for the establishment, function, principles and decision-making procedures of such a group, stressing supervision over operations and a system to pursue liabilities in case of errors. With the power to make key decisions affecting their organizations' running and development, such groups are urged to keep key matters on record and submit them to higher authorities, with group secretaries responsible for delivering work reports for performance evaluations. "In general, leading Party members' groups must first make proposals based on research and investigations, solicited opinions, evaluated risks and by reviewing its legitimacy before making a major decision," the regulation said. The new regulation urges these groups to maintain strict management of Party members within their jurisdictions and cooperate with discipline inspectors to uncover misconduct. "Group members that fail to do their duty and result in slack performances that bring severe consequences in related Party organizations will be pursued and punished," it said. Meanwhile, group members themselves were told to obey political discipline and maintain an uncorrupt style, following the Party's principles to refrain from hedonism, empty words and ineffective work. "The making and implementation of the regulation is of crucial importance to strengthen and improve the CPC's guidance and governing capacities, ensuring that the Party plays a better role in overseeing the general situation and coordinating all sides," said a CPC statement accompanying the regulation. The regulation was approved late in May at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee presided over by President Xi Jinping. It took effect on June 11. ^ top ^

Nine Chinese SOEs slammed for discipline violations (Global Times)
2015-06-17
China's chief graft-buster lambasted nine state-owned enterprises (SOEs) on Tuesday for breaching the anti-graft regulations, listing a string of problems from traveling on public funds to stealing state assets. Leaders of all the nine SOEs, including the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), were scolded for lacking of awareness of conforming by Party disciplines and rules, nepotism and forming cabals by employing family members or acquaintance, according to a statement from the Communist Party of China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). Most of the nine companies have violations such as spending public funds on personal travel, shopping and entertainment, receiving expensive gifts and "chaotic" financial management. The CCDI started in March a disciplinary inspection targeting 26 SOEs, mainly the nation's energy and communication giants and has since publicized inspection results regularly. On June 12, it publicly criticized wrongdoings by six companies including the China Huaneng Group, China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation and Baosteel Group. The CNPC had never stopped holding back public funds in its "private coffers" after being warned for many times, and corruption risks was also found in its overseas investment projects, the statement said. The China Power Investment Corporation, State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation and State Grid have serious problems in projects bidding and material procurement. Some of their leaders abused power and often intervened in such affairs after taking briberies. Certain subordinate units of the State Grid spent huge amount of money buying luxury handicrafts and displayed them in office, it said. The China National Offshore Oil Corporation has made use of offshore oil resources to seek private profits and certain leaders even work for other companies while receiving salaries in the company. The China National Machinery Industry Corporation falsified the company's financial records and gave extremely high cash bonuses to the staff. Extravagance and waste problems are prominent in the China Southern Power Grid and China Telecom, the statement said, mentioning their extra-standard buildings and vast offices with luxury decoration. For the China Mobile, the statement said, corruption was concentrated on overseas projects, with some leaders forming family cabals to encroach on state assets. ^ top ^

China to 'strengthen pledges to tackle climate change' (SCMP)
2015-06-18
China will increase its targets for reducing carbon intensity as part of its pledges ahead of a key UN conference later this year aimed at tackling climate change, according to sources familiar with government policy. The new target, covering up to 2030, would be stronger than the one Beijing put forward in 2009, when it vowed to cut emissions by 40-45 per cent per unit of economic growth by 2020, the sources said. They would not give any firm figures but said details could be made public as early as this week. The new intensity pledge, together with two goals laid out by President Xi Jinping last November as well as a set of policy measures to ensure they are carried out, will constitute the package Beijing submits for the UN climate change conference in Paris in December. Xi said in November that China's carbon emissions would peak by about 2030. He has also said 20 per cent of the country's energy would come from sources other than fossil fuels by the same date, compared with 11.1 per cent last year. Critics say China should give clear targets for cutting emissions rather than pledges to reduce carbon emission intensity linked to each unit of economic growth. They argue that the system gives no clear guarantees that China will make cuts overall. Beijing says it is committed to tackling climate change, but stresses it is a developing nation in the midst of rebalancing its economy away from polluting industries and fossil fuels. Wang Yi, a member of the China Academy of Sciences and an adviser to the Paris team, said in a recent study that a carbon emissions peak at around 2030 was the most economically feasible way for the nation to regulate emissions growth. An earlier peak would dampen the economy and its ability to create jobs, according to Wang. Li Shuo, a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace, said a carbon intensity target combined with the peak year date would give a clearer trajectory of how emissions would grow. But specific numbers were needed to judge how ambitious the pledges were, he said. China's coal consumption decreased for the first time in years in 2014, leading some to speculate its emissions could peak sooner than expected. A report by the London School of Economics also said China had entered a "new normal" of economic restructuring, shifting away from a reliance on energy-intensive industries and encouraging greater use of clean energy. The study expects China's carbon emissions to peak around 2025. "China's officials are rather conservative in making pledges," Li said. "They say it's too early to say if the coal consumption drop is a structural change or just due to an economic slump. They're worried that coal use may rebound sometime in the future." ^ top ^

China's Communist Party tightens grip on private firms, joint ventures (SCMP)
2015-06-18
The Communist Party has moved to strengthen its grip on private enterprises, joint ventures and other non-party groups with a new rule governing the conduct of its members within such institutions. The Regulation on Leading Party Members' Groups, published by the state-run Xinhua yesterday, covers organisations of influential party members, which are formed within other more general groups to help implement party policy. "The leading party members' groups in state organs, organisations and 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," stated the regulation, which comprises eight charters and 39 clauses. According to the party constitution, such groups can be set up in state organs, social organisations and institutions, or other non-party organs. The new rule covers organisations across a broad spectrum. These include the National People's Congress, various levels of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the ruling party's advisory bodies, the central ministries under the State Council, the courts, state-owned enterprises, and even social organisations such as writers' and artists' associations. According to Xinhua, the regulation offers new guidelines addressing how to set up such groups, their supervision and decision-making procedures, as well as how to deal with liabilities and errors. The news agency quoted party experts as saying that the new rule would also help standardise the party's work in those areas. The regulation also aims to improve discipline among party members, directing the groups to cooperate with discipline inspectors to uncover any misconduct. "Group members who fail to do their duty … will be pursued and punished," it stated. The new rule is the first to target such groups since their inception 70 years ago. It is estimated that there are more than 86,000 leading party members' groups at all levels. Analysts say the new regulation is a move to shore up the party's leadership in private enterprises and joint ventures, which are employing an increasing number of the mainland's working population. Leading party members groups' have been set up in many private and foreign-invested ventures since former president and party chief Jiang Zemin declared that private entrepreneurs should be allowed to join the party. Other analysts believe the move is also an effort to buttress party leadership at state-owned enterprises about to undergo sweeping reforms to their ownership, which may include private investors. Under the reform initiatives, most state-owned firms are expected to be restructured into joint-stock companies, introducing either private or foreign investors. ^ top ^

Chinese Uygur dies after shooting at railway station (SCMP)
2015-06-18
A Uygur man who allegedly charged at a queue of passengers at a Xi'an train station while holding a brick died yesterday after he was shot by police. Public sensitivity to security at the mainland's railway stations has increased after a series of incidents including a mass stabbing in March last year that left 31 people dead in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province. Authorities blamed that attack on separatist militants from the region of Xinjiang, home to the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uygur people. In a brief statement on its official microblog, Xi'an railway police said that at about 6am yesterday a Uygur man holding a brick "charged into" a line of people at the station who were waiting to buy tickets. "On-duty police quickly got to the scene to stop [the man] and after repeated warnings were ignored, opened fire and injured [the man]," police said. The man died of his wounds in hospital, police said, adding the situation had returned to normal at the station. The statement was later amended without explanation to remove reference to the man's ethnicity. Police provided no further details. Xian is a popular tourist destination as it is close to the famous Terracotta Army. It also has a sizeable Muslim population, many of whom live in the city's famed Muslim Quarter that is home to the 8th century Great Mosque. A picture on state television's microblog showed a body on the ground, which had been pixelated out, on what looked like a square in front of the station with the old city walls behind it. The body was surrounded by police, two of whom carried riot shields. This week is the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a sensitive time in Xinjiang, especially after an increase in deadly attacks blamed by Beijing on Islamist militants over the past three years in which hundreds have died. The mainland has about 20 million Muslims spread across the country, about half of them Uygurs. Mainland authorities have blamed the violence on terrorists inspired by global jihadist propaganda seeking to overthrow Chinese rule in their homeland of Xinjiang. ^ top ^

China consumes almost half the world's antibiotics - and they're coursing through its waterways (SCMP)
2015-06-18
The Pearl River is a soup of antibiotics, containing some of the highest concentrations of the medicine found in any of the mainland's waterways, the nation's top science academy has found. Overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals was to blame for the high levels, according to a recently published paper, one of the first comprehensive studies of the domestic scale of the problem. The mainland was the world's largest manufacturer and consumer of antibiotics, using about 162,000 tonnes of more than 200 varieties in 2013, it found. Consumption was almost evenly split between humans and animals, researchers said. But overuse can be dangerous as it allows viruses to build up a resistance to treatments, reducing their effectiveness over time. "The usage of antibiotics in China is very high, it's almost half of the world usage when we compare it with international studies," said Ying Guangguo of the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and who lead the research. The study focused on 36 kinds of the most common antibiotics, including amoxicillin and florfenicol. In this narrower range, the mainland used 92,700 tonnes in 2013. Some 53,800 tonnes entered the environment in the form of urine and excrement after various wastewater treatments, according to the report. Researchers examined antibiotic levels in 58 river basins across the mainland and found concentrations were highest in the waterways around Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province, where the population is dense and rainfall scarce. But the Pearl River, which flows into the ocean past Hong Kong, had the most worrying levels in the south, partially due to the intense scale of farming in the region. It also found that eastern China was discharging six times more antibiotics than the west, which again was due to population differences. Ying said the government should step up regulatory control over the use of the medicines. "Antibiotics are a very important drug prescribed by doctors, but in China, anyone can purchase it without a prescription in local pharmacies," he said. "There is also no monitoring of antibiotics being used in animals. Local animal farm operators often add antibiotics into animal feed to prevent diseases and boost production." The paper was published in the Environmental Sciences & Technology journal last month. Online news portal Thepaper.cn cited research published by the Fudan School of Public Health in April that involved testing the urine of more than 1,000 children aged between eight and 11. Nearly 60 per cent of the samples contained some form of antibiotics. Of those, about a quarter had more than two types. A study published last year by researchers at Princeton University in the United States found global use of antibiotics between 2000 and 2010 rose 36 per cent, with BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - together accounting for more than three-quarters of the increase. It also found that by 2010, China was the second-largest consumer of antibiotics, after India and before the US. ^ top ^

5 dead, 4 missing in central China rainstorm (Xinhua)
2015-06-18
Five people died and another four are still missing following torrential rains in central China's Hubei Province since Tuesday, according to local civil affairs authority. As of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, more than 58,00 residents have been relocated, according to a statement from the provincial civil affairs department. The water levels of about 400 reservoirs in the province exceeded the warning level. Roads, houses, power and water conservation facilities have been damaged, causing a direct economic loss of 680 million yuan (111 million U.S. dollars), according to the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters. Yingshan County, where a four-storey residential building was washed away on Wednesday morning, was worst hit by the rainstorm. The owner of the building evacuated his family before the collapse after receiving a government warning. ^ top ^

End dog meat festival: protest against Guangxi celebration spreads across China (Global Times)
2015-06-18
Animal rights activists across China are calling for a stop to a summer solstice celebration in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, where thousands of dogs are expected to be killed for their meat. The China Small Animal Protection Association (CSAPA) organized a vigil in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, on Tuesday night, where dozens of local animal rights activists sat in the rain to protest against the annual dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi. "We want to inform the public that killing dogs for meat is cruel and it poses a threat to those who eat them as many of the dogs we intercepted were already sick," said Zhou Yusong, an activist from CSAPA's Henan branch. Activists in Beijing, Tianjin and Xi'an also held a vigil Tuesday night and the protest is expected to spread across the nation to cities like Kunming, Anyang and Luoyang. Hundreds of activists are expected to travel to Yulin to stop the dog meat festival, which is set for June 22 this year. Zhou said that the campaign this year is going to be "huge" and activists had previously met in Beijing, Tianjin and Shenzhen to plan for intercepting trucks carrying dogs and cats on the highway and how to deal with local police. Yang Xiaoyun, a 65-year-old activist from Tianjin, said she plans to travel to Yulin on Thursday and opens an animal rescue camp and a vegetarian restaurant. Yang made national headlines last year after spending 150,000 yuan ($24,000) of her retirement savings to buy dogs from restaurants in Yulin, with pictures showing her kneeling in front of a young man begging him to sell her his dogs. Knowing that she would spare no effort to save the dogs, dog dealers have been calling her recently, telling her that they have many dogs ready in Yulin and they are waiting for her to name her price. "They think it is good business and they mock me for saving the animals' lives," Yang told the Global Times. Meanwhile, local restaurants are quietly preparing for the festival that they believe is part of their tradition. Debates have been raging for a few years as locals argue that it is their right to eat what they want and eating dog meat is ethically no different from eating pork, beef or lamb. The owner of the No.1 Yulin Crispy Dog Meat restaurant, surnamed Ning, told the Global Times that he expects to sell meat from some 100 dogs on solstice day and is doubling his purchase in preparation. "We were told this year by the government that no table can be placed outdoors during the festival. People who want to eat dog meat have to eat it inside restaurants," Ning said. ^ top ^

CPPCC concludes five-year plan meeting (Global Times)
2015-06-18
China's top political advisory body on Wednesday concluded a three-day meeting focusing on issues to be included in the nation's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).The Standing Committee meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee was an important political consultation, during which political advisors offered their suggestions for the five-year plan, according to a statement released after the meeting. China has drafted five-year plans since 1953 to map strategies for overall economic and social development, setting growth targets and defining development policies. At the closing meeting, Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, described the 13th five-year plan period as "a stage that will decide the success of the building of a comprehensively well-off society." He urged CPPCC members to improve the political consultation system while sticking to the leadership of the Communist Party of China. China implements a multiparty cooperation and political consultation system that is mainly manifested in the CPPCC. Under the system, people from democratic parties or without party affiliation are encouraged to participate in political affairs through discussion and supervision. President Xi Jinping said last month that there should be more discussion under the system to reach consensus and optimize decision-making. The closing meeting announced appointment and removal of several officials. Lu Zhongmei was selected as a member of the CPPCC National Committee, to served as deputy head of its social and legal committee. Gu Boping will no longer hold the post because of old age. Han Zhiran was removed from the CPPCC National Committee. An amended general rule on special committees under the CPPCC National Committee was also passed at the meeting. ^ top ^

Online petition demands death for traffickers of children (Global Times)
2015-06-18
A campaign calling for the death penalty for child traffickers has recently gone viral on Chinese online social networks. "I firmly suggest that authorities revise laws on child trafficking. I insist that child traffickers be sentenced to death while buyers be sentenced to life. Why should they be given a second chance when the children they harmed don't get any?" wrote the advocacy that was posted by countless netizens on Weibo and WeChat. The advocacy began to circulate online roughly after a China Central Television report on May 30 revealed a child trafficking gang in Henan Province that bought and sold babies across the country. A total of 30 women and children from 26 deals were trafficked between February 2008 and April 2013. Of the 37 suspects, only the prime suspect received a death sentence in the first trial, while the others were given up to 15 years in jail. Buyers involved in the case were sentenced to up to seven months in prison. According to a survey conducted by news portal sina.com.cn, 88.3 percent of over 21,000 respondents were unsatisfied with China's crackdown on child-trafficking and 92.5 percent said that the same punishment should be imposed on both buyers and human traffickers to stop the crime. China's Criminal Law states that human traffickers can be sentenced to death "when the circumstances are particularly serious," but most human traffickers were usually jailed for several years. ^ top ^

Faith gets me through, says wife of Chinese lawyer facing subversion trial (SCMP)
2015-06-19
Wang Yanfang, the wife of rights lawyer Tang Jingling who goes on trial today for subversion in Guangzhou, draws comfort from her faith and bond with the wives of other dissidents. Wang lost her job as an accounting clerk because of her husband's efforts to promote political reform. She was once a firm believer that “everything could be resolved through hard work” but the couple are up against a monolithic force – the mainland justice system. Tang faces at least five years in jail in what supporters say are trumped-up charges aimed at silencing progressive voices. Two other activists will be tried alongside him. Throughout the year her husband has been in custody, Wang has pushed for visiting rights, to deliver him books and for the authorities to move the case to a larger courtroom but all the requests were rejected. “There is nowhere I could turn except to my faith,” said Wang, who was baptised in 2009. She is reading The Pastor's Wife by Sabina Wurmbrand, upon her husband's suggestion. Wurmbrand documents her struggle in post-war Eastern Europe to win the release of her husband, Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, after Communist authorities arrested him for spreading Christianity. Wang also identifies with Liu Xia, wife of Liu Xiaobo who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 after being convicted of subversion in the previous year. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison. “I now understand what kind of life Liu Xia is leading,” she said. She knows the emotional toll that forced separations bring. Her husband was placed under residential surveillance in a Guangzhou police cadet academy from February to August 2011 for taking part in discussions about the “jasmine revolution”. “He was deprived of sleep during detention. At one time, he was not allowed to sleep for five days in a row to make him write a confession statement.” Wang was forced into home detention a few weeks later for about six months. Nearly all contact with the outside world was cut off. During the period, she suffered from depression and would faint often “I have never realised solitary confinement would have such an impact on me,” said Wang, adding the problem had affected her fertility which had left the couple childless. They met in the 1990s in Shantou in Guangdong when Tang was working as a chemical engineer, and married in 1998. “Before our marriage, he warned me that our future might be a bumpy one, but I didn't think much about the severity of his words. Because he is a man of law, I trusted he would handle things well,” Wang said. Tang is gentle, caring and strong-willed, she said. “He keeps a low profile and never plays up his struggle or sufferings for fear it would discourage young people from joining his cause.” During Tang's detention, Wang was warned by the authorities that she would be arrested if she launched further campaigns to support him. But she said she has never tried to talk him out of what he does – his conviction is too strong. “I have never blamed him, but inside, I'm just like any other women who wishes for a peaceful life. There is no point to blame anything, so I'm going to support him on the path he chose.” The hearing takes place at Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court.  ^ top ^

Chinese autistic girl 'chained to a shack for five years'(SCMP)
2015-06-19
An autistic girl from northeastern China has been chained by her parents to a corn storage shack for five years to stop her from running away, according to a local newspaper. Neighbours said the girl, aged 16, often ran naked through the village in Jilin province before she was restrained, the Xinwen Hua newspaper reported. Her father, who was only identified by his surname Zhu, said he was worried she would disappear if she was not tied up as she had run away from home before. He added that the family, who live in a village near Huadian, was too poor to pay for the treatment and care she needed and that his daughter had been diagnosed as autistic. “The forests in the mountains are very big and we couldn't find her if she runs away,” he was quoted as saying. “A couple of times before, we only found her when our neighbours heard her in the forest and in the cornfields.” The girl's mother said her daughter had also fallen when she was three, which may have damaged her brain. A doctor from a mental health hospital was quoted as saying that it was highly unlikely she could be cured. The report did not say if the girl would remain chained to the shack. ^ top ^

China slashes thousands of news branches (Global Times)
2015-06-19
China has shut down or merged 1,134 local offices of major news agencies, accounting for 36 percent of the targeted 3,160 branches, the press watchdog announced on Thursday. Another 386 local news offices were asked to correct various violations, said the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) in a statement. The remaining 1,640 branches remain untouched. The campaign also dismissed 1,435 "unlawfully recruited employees," accounting for 12 percent of the total staff, just the first round of cutting. The campaign was launched in December to regulate local branches of centrally-administrated press and publication organizations including the Xinhua News Agency, China National Radio and some major news websites. But the People's Daily, newspaper of the Communist Party of China, along with the state Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television, have had almost all of their branches retained. In central China's Hunan Province, 16 news branches were slashed mainly from specialist publications such as China Tourism News and China Real Estate Business. Some agencies set up several branches and arbitrarily recruited employees, according to the violations listed by the SAPPRFT. Newsroom staff were often engaged in commercial business and some reporters abused interviews to seek illicit profits. In China, cases of journalists demanding money for covering up negative stories or releasing promotional ones -- largely fabricated -- have been routinely exposed. ^ top ^

Xi emphasizes innovation, better livelihoods on Guizhou Province tour (Xinhua)
2015-06-19
Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the government of southwest China's Guizhou Province to pursue economic development through innovation and improve people's livelihoods during a tour of the province between Tuesday and Thursday. Xi made a stop in Huamao village of Zunyi County that has been lifted out of poverty in recent years on Tuesday. He visited greenhouses, financial centers, bamboo and pottery workshops to learn how poverty reduction projects are running. Xi chatted with the villagers, saying the Communist Party of China (CPC) central committee cares a lot about farmers, particularly those in poverty, and has enacted various policies to boost rural development. Xi told villagers that "a good life is created with one's own hands" and nothing will stand in their way if they are confident and determined. Xi also visited the venue of the 1935 Zunyi Conference where Mao Zedong established his authority within the military. After watching a video clip of a battle where the Red Army, led by the CPC, crossed the Chishui River four times in the fight against Kuomintang forces, Xi exclaimed "Chairman Mao was a true master of the art of war, and the battle is a textbook case of mobile warfare." Xi called the conference "a watershed even in the history of the CPC". The conference showed the path China should take, which was to adopt Marxism principles according to China's reality, and to be independent and self-reliant, he said. In Zunyi, Xi also visited a Red Army graveyard. On his way from Zunyi to Guiyang, the provincial capital, Xi visited a small supermarket at a highway service area and inquired about the expiration date for a package of snacks. He also inspected two street-side food stands which sold stewed duck necks and other local foods. In China, substandard foods have been a safety concern in recent years. Visiting a demonstration center on big data in Guiyang City on Wednesday, Xi stressed the need for more investment and research into this field as China's big data industry is still in its infancy. "We must try to make a head start as we face the tide of information application. Concrete moves to promote use of big data are key in deepening its integration with industrialization," he said while talking to entrepreneurs at the center. Xi talked to the heads of companies engaging in building Internet hospitals and affirmed their plans of offering high-end, online health services, which will gather 1,000 top doctors. Xi was also shown a miniature 3D-printed drone built by a laser technology company and was told about big data usage in disaster relief operations. Guizhou is home to data centers for China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, the three largest Chinese telecommunication operators. Xi visited China Telecom's cloud computing research park and watched demonstrations of its Internet applications. In China Telecom's data centers, each room housed nearly 2,000 servers. Xi was told the fourth-generation data centers were completely developed independently and there would be more than 800,000 servers after the construction of the state research park finished. Although Guizhou is among the least developed regions in China, it has put more efforts developing its big data industry since last year, establishing a state-level big data agglomeration and aiming to contain two million servers. Some cities in Guizhou offer free city-wide WiFi service. While visiting an "education zone" which is home to 19 vocational colleges with nearly 60,000 students and teachers, the president described vocational education as an important part of the country's education system and urged continued improvement of it. During his visit to Guian New District, he stressed that the planning and construction of the new district should aim for environmental sustainability as well as high standards. Xi called for high-quality IT services and better e-commerce platforms as he inspected two IT enterprises in Guian New District. The president urged Guizhou to pursue a new development path that was different from those for other provinces, underscoring the need of balancing economic development and environmental protection and ecological conservation. The president advised the local government that it could improve its people's livelihood through sound management of key issues including education, medical care, social security and food safety. He also called for better care for senior citizens and rural children whose parents have left them to work in cities. He also urged the government to coordinate grassroots political, economic and social organizations so they can all contribute to the country's development. ^ top ^

182 detained during big international campaign against wildlife smugglers (China Daily)
2015-06-19
Authorities have confiscated more than 600 kg of illegal wildlife products during an international joint law - enforcement campaign targeting the illegal trade in endangered wildlife and plants, the State Forestry Administration said on Wednesday. Officers seized 10 pieces of raw ivory, 292 kg of worked ivory items, 226 kg of pangolin scales and 16.2 kg of products made of rhino horn, along with live animals such as turtles and birds. During the 23-day campaign that started on May 4, 182 suspects were held in 123 cases involving trafficking and illegal trading of wildlife and endangered animals, the administration said. The administration cooperated with 63 countries, including South Africa, Thailand, France, Germany and the United States, to fight cross-border trafficking involving Tibetan antelopes, rhinos, redwoods and a variety of other animals and plants. It was the third joint law enforcement action, code-named Cobra, since 2013 and considered the largest scale, with the most countries participating. With financial and technical support from Interpol and the World Customs Organization, the countries uncovered 300 contraband cases and captured more than 200 wildlife traffickers. They confiscated 12 tons of ivory and its products, 187 kg of rhino horn products, 5.2 tons of pangolins and their products, as well as 2,000 kg of redwood and 3,500 cactuses. Zhao Shucong, head of the State Forestry Administration, said the operation command center is based in Thailand. It draws up detailed action plans and coordinates with other countries and regions to make cross-border arrests. "We attach great importance to the action and enhanced law enforcement cooperation with some African countries, including South Africa and Kenya," he said. "We share intelligence and conduct joint actions that greatly reduce the occurrence of certain crimes." In recent years, Chinese criminals have colluded with gangs in Africa to smuggle wildlife contraband and sell it in black markets for huge profits, Meng Xianlin, director general of the Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Import and Export Management Office. "The criminal gangs tend to be professional. Gang members assume different tasks, including purchasing, smuggling, transport and sales, to form a secret chain of interest," he said. According to Meng, some of the traffickers smuggle ivory to Hong Kong or the Chinese mainland for transfer later to the US or Europe, after it is worked into some sort of art. Hu Wei, deputy director at the General Administration of Customs, said that most of the confiscated wildlife products, such as ivory and rhino horn, was smuggled from Africa either by travelers who carried it in their luggage or through the mail. He said customs departments will further broaden their pool of clues and assess travelers from key areas and their luggage. Moreover, it's necessary to enhance judicial cooperation with other countries, especially some Asian and African countries but also the US, so that case information can be shared in a timely manner and investigations can be launched to cut off interest chains between the traffickers and the purchasers, he said. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

TV at Tibetan temples (Global Times)
2015-06-19
All 1,787 temples in Northwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region have been provided access to radio and television after local authorities launched a project introducing the facilities in 2011, the Tibet Daily reported on Thursday. The project helped monks and nuns better understand the country's policies and regulations, improved their ability to distinguish truth from rumors, and also provided an effective channel to guide religions to fit in a socialist society. As most temples are located in the mountains, technicians had to carry the equipment on their backs or use horses. "We like to watch a dialogue program involving senior monks, which inspires us a lot," a monk was quoted as saying. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong protesters march to Legislative Council in protest at 'fake' democracy (SCMP)
2015-06-15
Thousands of protesters brandishing symbolic yellow umbrellas marched from Causeway Bay to the Legislative Council building in Admiralty yesterday in opposition to the government's electoral reform package, days before lawmakers vote on it. "I am confident that the lawmakers will vote down the proposal. I am here to show them my support," said 76-year-old protester Chow Fat-leung. "I took part in [last year's] Occupy movement for more than 50 days. Now I am coming out to protest for my children and my grandchildren." The rally was organised by a coalition of 14 pro-democratic groups calling itself the Citizens Against Pseudo-Universal Suffrage Campaign. After chanting slogans such as "say no to fake universal suffrage", the protesters left Victoria Park for an assembly at Tamar. The organisers said 3,500 people took part, well short of their original estimate of 50,000. The police said 3,140 joined the rally at its peak. "It may have to do with the recent reverse in public opinion [as reflected in opinion polls]. People now feel more confident that the proposal will be voted down," said coalition representative Sam Yip Kam-lung. Police kept them apart. The debate in Legco starts on Wednesday and all 27 pan-democratic lawmakers say they will reject the package, denying the government the two-thirds majority needed for the reform to pass. Yesterday's rally was the first of a series of actions by the coalition. There will be nightly assemblies outside Legco until the vote. But organisers have no plans to repeat the blockades of the 79-day Occupy movement last year. Protesters were confident the proposal would be rejected and were not worried about reports of a mystery man trying to bribe League of Social Democrats lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung into voting for the proposal. Along the route, protesters traded insults with about two dozen supporters of the proposals for the 2017 chief executive election. They branded the pro-democracy marchers "running dogs of Western imperialists" while displaying placards saying "genuine" universal suffrage was a false notion. "It is possible that some powerful people are doing what they can to get the pan-democrats to vote for it," said protester Stephen Au, 55. "It may not be just money. But I believe it will be voted down." Meanwhile, University of Hong Kong pollster Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu said that in a poll his team conducted last Monday and Tuesday, 50 per cent of 1,004 residents believed the package should be approved, while 33 per cent wanted it to be voted down. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said these findings were in sharp contrast to a poll by three universities in which 43 per cent of 1,115 residents wanted the package voted down, while 41.7 per cent supported it. Leung said: "[That's why] I said different polls asked different questions and collected different answers … so the people should make comparisons and understand [different polls] from different perspectives." ^ top ^

Bomb plot rattles nerves across Hong Kong, but lawmakers play down threat from National Independent Party (SCMP)
2015-06-16
Politicians across the board expressed concern yesterday about the arrests of activists over the alleged bomb plot, as pan-democrats distanced themselves from the pro-independence group involved and joined pro-establishment lawmakers in condemning violence. News of the plot prompted some to ask aloud if the polarising debate on political reform had taken another troubling turn with potentially damaging consequences for Hong Kong's reputation. Yet others said the arrests showed Hong Kong authorities had acted swiftly and that the city remained safe. Steve Vickers, a private investigator specialising in investigating organised crime in the city, said: "We should look very carefully and calmly at this case before we afford this incident too much priority or seek to amend the Hong Kong threat profile, which is justifiably low." His view was echoed by former security minister Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee. "A single incident doesn't mean we are a target for terrorist attacks," Ip said. The low profile and seemingly disorganised nature of the National Independent Party - with which at least one of those arrested was affiliated, according to a police source - raised questions among pan-democrats about how much of a threat it posed. Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan urged residents not to be too worried. "It is just a naive plot … by some disorganised people. Even its name, National Independent Party, contradicts itself … And from their terminology, I don't think they are the 'localist radicals' we have seen so far," Ho said. Ray Wong Toi-yeung, whose group Hong Kong Indigenous is often considered "localist", said he was concerned the arrests could be an attempt to smear dissidents. He pointed to the arrests in February of three people for attempted arson during protests against parallel-goods traders who were later either prosecuted for other unrelated offences or not charged at all. Danny Chan Tsz-chun, a member of the pro-independence Hong Kong Blue Righteous Revolt, said he did not back any violent protests. "Innocent citizens were killed by the bombs back in the 1967 riots. We would be supporting what Yeung Kwong did in 1967 if we were to back the making of home-made bombs today," Chan said, referring to the late director of the Anti-British Struggle Committee behind the riots nearly five decades ago. Daisy Chan Sin-ying, convenor of Civil Human Rights Front, said her group would continue to host a planned protest outside the Legislative Council tomorrow to coincide with the vote on the government's electoral reform package. Should they find any people attempting violence, the front would ask police and security guards to intervene, she said. Occupy Central co-founder Dr Chan Kin-man said he was surprised to hear of the plot, but that radicalisation was a problem the government would need to face. "Beijing should bear the most responsibility [for the city's radicalisation]," he said. ^ top ^

Vote to begin on Hong Kong's election reform (China Daily)
2015-06-17
The Hong Kong legislature is set to debate the single largest democratic reform in the city's history on Wednesday as a handful of lawmakers hold in their hands the fate of more than three decades of political wrangling over the issue of giving residents the right to vote for their leader. The motion to amend the Basic Law and grant universal suffrage under a framework endorsed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress could come to a vote in the evening at the earliest, though three days have been set aside for speeches, questions and answers. The government is seeking to secure the two-thirds majority vote needed to alter Hong Kong's mini-constitution. If the proposal is passed, candidates for the role of chief executive will be vetted by a 1,200-strong committee made up of representatives from different economic, political and social sectors who may support multiple candidates and will recommend and nominate two or three candidates. Candidates who secure support from at least half the nominating committee will then face the city's registered voters. ^ top ^

Hong Kong legislators refuse to budge as electoral reform debate kicks off (SCMP)
2015-06-18
Pan-democrat lawmakers stuck to their guns in a momentous Legislative Council debate on the government's controversial blueprint for the 2017 chief executive election yesterday, making it all but certain they would block the package in a vote that could be held as early as today. The debate began at 1.20pm yesterday as hundreds of supporters and opponents of the package held competing rallies outside the Legco complex, which was locked down. Two hundred police officers were deployed inside the building in case protesters tried to storm the complex, triggering complaints from the pan-democrats that the legislature's independence had been undermined by the unprecedented security measures. Twenty-five lawmakers made their cases in the chamber on the merits or pitfalls of accepting the blueprint under the framework set by the National People's Congress Standing Committee that would impose key restrictions while allowing Hongkongers to elect their own leader by "one man, one vote" for the first time in history. All 16 pan-democrats who spoke yesterday stood firm on their pledge to vote down the package, which they dismissed as "fake universal suffrage", while their pro-establishment colleagues chastised them for depriving five million eligible voters of a "historic opportunity". Two hours before the debate started, accountancy sector legislator Kenneth Leung claimed he had received a telephone call from a "friend" late on Tuesday night urging him to abstain from voting on the blueprint instead of casting a vote against the plan. "I'm not sure if he was acting as a middleman for some people or just talking to me for himself. He didn't offer anything for a change of mind though," Leung said. In her opening remarks, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor urged the pan-democrats to respect what she claimed was majority public opinion supporting the government package. The last round of the rolling poll conducted by three of the city's universities, from June 12 to Tuesday, found 47 per cent of 1,118 respondents supported the government proposal, while 38 per cent opposed it. In a front-page commentary published yesterday, official Communist Party newspaper People's Daily urged Hong Kong lawmakers to support the reform package and bring the city back onto the "right track". With all 27 pan-democrats and one pro-establishment lawmaker, Leung Ka-lau, vowing to vote against the reform plan, the government needs to persuade five legislators to change their minds so that it can secure the required two-thirds majority in the 70-member legislature. Under the government's reform blueprint, which closely follows Beijing's restrictive framework, Hongkongers would choose from two or three candidates endorsed by a 1,200-strong nominating committee in the 2017 chief executive poll. Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said lawmakers could make history if they endorsed the blueprint. The Civic Party's Ronny Tong Ka-wah, the moderate pan-democrat legislator who has been seen as the target of Beijing's lobbying efforts, lamented the huge discrepancy in the understanding of the "one country, two systems" policy between the central government and the pan-democrats. "Without a broad consensus overcoming these differences, any political reform is doomed to fail," said Tong, who earlier appeared to be fighting back tears. The original founders of Occupy Central, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Reverend Chu Yiu-ming and Dr Chan Kin-man, joined the rally outside Legco at 7pm. ^ top ^

Hong Kong lawmakers still divided over reform (China Daily)
2015-06-18
Hong Kong's Legislative Council moved closer on Wednesday to a vote on the city's electoral reform plan. Lawmakers on both sides of the political divide stood firm on their position during the first day of the reform motion reading. The Hong Kong government moved a motion to overhaul the method to select the city's next chief executive, prescribed in an annex of the Basic Law. The motion was moved 20 months after the creation of a special task force to run the electoral reform process. More than 3 million registered voters in the city will be able to elect the next chief executive by "one person, one vote" next year if more than 46 lawmakers out of the total of 70 vote for the motion. But 27 opposition members and Leung Kalau, an independent lawmaker representing doctors, vowed earlier to veto the proposal. Senior local officials made a last-minute pitch in the council chamber on Wednesday before the deliberations began, with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stressing that the electoral overhaul plan is the best possible option. ^ top ^

HK gov't moves motion on constitutional reform to legislature for debate (Xinhua)
2015-06-18
China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government on Wednesday officially moved a motion concerning the amendment to the method for the selection of the chief executive in 2017 to the Legislative Council (LegCo) for debate. At the LegCo meeting, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam tabled the proposed method by universal suffrage which allows about 5 million eligible Hong Kong voters to have a say in choosing their next leader. All 70 LegCo lawmakers are debating on the motion by taking the floor in turn and they are expected to decide whether to endorse the motion by an open ballot voting later. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen also attended the LegCo meeting, urging LegCo lawmakers to support the motion. "Hong Kong residents are eagerly looking forward to realizing universal suffrage. If the motion could be endorsed by the Legislative Council, we would finish the third step of Hong Kong's constitutional reform," Tam told the lawmakers. According to a decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, Hong Kong's constitutional reform, amending the method of selection of the chief executive and the method of the formation of the Legislative Council, should go through a five-step legislative procedure. According to the five-step procedure, the proposed universal suffrage must be endorsed by at least two-thirds of all LegCo members, or at least 47 LegCo members, before Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying gives his consent and China's top legislature gives final approval subsequently. After the legislative procedure, a 1,200-member nominating committee will select two to three candidates for all eligible voters who then elect the next chief executive in 2017 through " one person, one vote" using a first-past-the-post system. If the motion is vetoed, the next chief executive will be chosen by a 1,200-member electing committee, the same way as how incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was elected in 2012. "Today is a critical day for the democratic development in Hong Kong. The government has made every effort to develop an open, impartial, fair and competitive system for the chief executive election," said Chief Secretary Lam when addressing the LegCo meeting. She said that realizing universal suffrage for the region's chief executive will be a historic progress in the region's constitutional development. It will meet the residents' demand and it is the prerequisite to elect the LegCo lawmakers through the same method. Various polls conducted in Hong Kong have shown that the majority of local people support the universal suffrage proposal offered by the SAR government. The Alliance for Peace and Democracy has collected more than 1. 2 million signatures in its "sign for universal suffrage movement" in different districts of Hong Kong. Nearly 1,000 local residents gathered in front of the LegCo complex on Wednesday, holding banners to support the universal suffrage proposal. Before being handed over to China in 1997, Hong Kong was ruled by Britain for a total of 155 years during which local people never had a chance to choose their own leader in a democratic way. Under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems," the Hong Kong Basic Law and China's top legislature's relevant decisions empower the region to realize the election of its top leader by universal suffrage. For his part, Secretary Yuen said at the meeting that as China' s special administrative region, the universal suffrage for the Hong Kong's chief executive must implement the principle of "One country, two Systems" and must be in line with the Hong Kong Basic Law and the relevant explanations and decisions of the top legislature. The universal suffrage proposal is the most democratic election plan in Hong Kong's history, said Starry Lee, a LegCo member from the pro-establishment camp. "If the LegCo endorses the motion, it will make history," said Lee who is also the chairperson of the biggest local political organ Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Regina Ip, a LegCo member who is also the chairperson of the New People's Party, called on the opposition lawmakers to change their minds and support the motion. "The central government has shown its sincerity and determination to promote universal suffrage in Hong Kong," said Ip. Andrew Leung, a LegCo member and also chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, also urged the opposition lawmakers to support the motion for the sake of Hong Kong's long-term interests. ^ top ^

Decision on reform 'stays despite veto' (China Daily)
2015-06-19
China's top legislature said on Thursday its decision on Hong Kong's electoral reforms, announced in August, would remain in force despite being vetoed by city lawmakers. After a nine-hour debate, which began on Wednesday, 28 lawmakers voted against the motion, while eight voted in favor. Many lawmakers left the chamber before the vote. To pass, the motion needed to be endorsed by at least two-thirds of all 70 lawmakers, or 47 votes, under a decision reached by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. A statement from the committee's office said, "Although the universal suffrage motion was not passed by the Legislative Council, the direction toward universal suffrage and the legal principles laid down in the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee must continue to be upheld in future efforts to pursue universal suffrage. "The decision will continue to serve as the constitutional ground for Hong Kong in the future, as it enforces universal suffrage in the chief executive election, and its legal force is unquestionable." The Standing Committee also accused the opposition camp of serving personal interests at the expense of Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. The Liaison Office of the Central Government in Hong Kong said in a statement, "We are disappointed by the veto, as are the majority of Hong Kong people." The Liaison Office said the universal suffrage package, "upholding democracy, openness, fairness and justice, is an electoral arrangement that perfectly suits Hong Kong's actual conditions". Mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong was for the motion to pass, for a historic step forward to be made in the city's democratic journey, the statement added. However, a small number of legislators vetoed the motion against most residents' will, costing Hong Kong a valuable chance to realize "one person, one vote," the office said, adding that "those who vetoed (the motion) have to bear historical accountability." ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Top political advisor calls for closer cross-Strait ties (Global Times)
2015-06-16
Chinese top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng on Saturday called on people across the Taiwan Strait to build closer relations and work together to create a better life. Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks when meeting with some Taiwanese coming to attend the 7th Strait Forum in the coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian Province, east China. The visitors from Taiwan share the same kinship with local people living in Qingjiao village of Xiamen. They were all originated from the ancient Yan family clan in Shandong Province in east China. The majority of Taiwanese ancestors came from the mainland, especially the nearest Fujian Province. They went to the island centuries ago and named new settlements after their hometowns. No matter how far away the Chinese people traveled, their blood relationship and love for native place would never change, said Yu, referring to those who migrated from the mainland to Taiwan in history. He urged compatriots on both sides to strengthen peaceful cross-Strait ties and increase people-to-people exchanges that benefit both sides, giving stimulus to a better life. Yu also applauded ideas from the youth representatives from both the mainland and Taiwan, who have formed a cooperative society serving cross-Strait start-ups. He said exchanges and cooperation of this kind should be popularized and promoted, and he expected youngsters on both sides of the Strait to realize their dreams. Yu will attend the opening ceremony of the 7th Strait Forum on Sunday, which is the largest annual event for cross-Strait exchange at grassroots level. ^ top ^

Mainland removes entry permit requirements for Taiwan residents (China Daily)
2015-06-18
The Chinese mainland will remove entry permit requirements for Taiwan residents from July 1, according to a revised regulation made public Thursday. With the revision, Taiwan residents will need a travel pass for entering the mainland but do not have to apply for a visa-like entry permit for every visit. The policy change was announced by Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, at the seventh Straits Forum on Sunday as a measure to facilitate cross-Strait personnel exchange. The revision also eases the requirements for documents needed when Taiwan residents apply for the travel pass. The term of validity for a travel pass to Taiwan held by a mainland resident is extended from five years to ten, while that for a Taiwan resident's travel pass remains five years. But the revised regulation adds a new type of travel pass for Taiwan residents, with the term of validity lasting for three months. The mainland and Taiwan broke off communication in 1949, after the Kuomintang (KMT) lost a civil war with the Communist Party of China and fled to the island. Cross-Strait travels resumed in the late 1980s and have increased fast since 2008 when the two sides opened direct mail, transport and trade links and eased restriction on tourism. Official statistics show in 2014, Taiwan residents made 5.37 million visits to the mainland, up from 4.36 million in 2008. Mainlanders made 4.04 million visits to Taiwan last year, compared with 280,000 in 2008. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China has adequate fiscal space to absorb local govt debt risks (China Daily)
2015-06-15
China has adequate fiscal headroom to absorb local government contingent liabilities, a recent report by Moody's Investors Service said. As higher levels of local government off-budget investment financing pose a challenge to China's fiscal position, such debt levels are relatively moderate and can be absorbed over time by the sovereign's balance sheet, said Moody's. "While local government financing operations raised the general government debt-to-GDP burden to 34 percent in 2014 from a low of 17 percent in 2005, China's debt trend appears to have stabilized, " said Tom Byrne, a Moody's Senior Vice President for the Sovereign Risk Group. "In addition, the government has an appreciable amount of fiscal space to accommodate such known risks." Byrne also pointed out that China's fiscal profile is in the top bracket of Moody's global scoring range, based on the country's gross debt burden, total revenue and budgetary interest ratios. The central government may need to provide additional fiscal resources to local governments to bolster their finances and debt-repayment capacity, said Byrne. < China on Wednesday launched another 1 trillion yuan (163.9 billion U.S. dollars) debt swap deal to relieve local governments' burdens and balance the relationship between debt management and stable growth. According to China's National Audit Office, local government debt stood at around 10.9 trillion yuan by the end of June 2013.^ top ^

Stock market gains create extra one million millionaires in China, says global wealth report (SCMP)
2015-06-16
The population of US-dollar millionaires in China soared to four million last year as the country added the highest number of US-dollar millionaires amid the surging stock market, a study shows. China, which added one million new millionaires last year, had the world's second-largest such population in the world, following the United States'seven million, according to the latest Global Wealth report released by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on Monday. Private wealth in China was driven mainly by investments in local equities, with the country's equity market rising by 38 per cent, the annual report said. Japan, in third place, had one million millionaire households last year, but the number was down from the previous year because of the fall in the yen against the US dollar, it said. BCG defines millionaire households as those with more than US$1 million in private wealth, including cash, stocks and other financial investments, but not real estate, collectibles, business ownership or luxury goods. Globally, the total number of millionaire households reached 17 million last year – an increase of 13 per cent compared with the 15 million recorded in 2013. “The increase was driven primarily by the solid market performance of existing assets, both in developed and emerging markets,” the report said. Last year, global private wealth grew by about 12 per cent to US$164 trillion. About 73 per cent, or US$13 trillion, of private wealth growth last year was generated by the market performance of existing assets, while the rest was newly created wealth. The growth of private wealth in the Asia Pacific outperformed the global trend, with private wealth rising by 29 per cent last year to US$47 trillion to become the world's second-wealthiest region. “Growth in wealth in this region was driven heavily by the continued economic expansion of its two largest economies, China and India,” the report said. North America, with US$51 trillion in private wealth, remained the richest region last year, while Europe dropped one spot to third place with US$40 trillion. BCG estimated a compound annual rate growth of almost 10 per cent for private wealth in Asia Pacific, which will overtake North America as the world's richest region next year with US$57 trillion in private wealth.^ top ^

Beijing second child applications top 40k, short of 50k target (Global Times)
2015-06-16
More than 40,000 couples in Beijing have applied to have a second child since China relaxed its one-child policy last year, but observers said this was short of the government target and would not lift the low birth rate. The Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning said that, since May 31, it has received 42,075 applications for a second child, with 38,798 approved. Among the applicants, 57 percent were between 31 and 35 years old, about 23 percent were between 26 and 30 and 2 percent above 40. The relaxed policy allows couples to have a second child if either spouse is an only child. Lu Jiehua, a professor of social demography at Peking University, told the Global Times that despite the increase, the number is far from the government target of 50,000 a year. "It has been 15 months since the policy was implemented, there should have been more than 60,000 applications by now," he said, adding that the number of births would also be fewer than the number of applications for various reasons. "The government initially predicted that 60 percent of qualified couples would apply, but many do not want to have a second baby because of their career, financial status and lack of time to take care of children," he said. Some 450,000 couples from the city of 21 million people are qualified to have a second child. Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, has 270,000 qualified couples but as of March, the government only received 12,766 applications, local news site yangtse.com reported. China's fertility rate stands at 1.18, much lower than the international maintenance level of 2.1. Lu said the government may consider providing more incentives such as simplifying the application process and consultation services to encourage couples to apply for a second child. The National Health and Family Planning Commission said that as of January, about 1 million applications have been submitted around the country.^ top ^

Premier Li Keqiang pledges nuclear boost (China Daily)
2015-06-16
China will promote nuclear power on a larger scale at home and abroad as it steps up the upgrading of manufacturing and seeks more global deals, Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday. Li backed the Hualong One Reactor, a domestically developed third-generation reactor design, saying it is the latest on his list for businesses to go global. The premier also said that it is time for Chinese equipment makers to explore overseas markets, and that demonstrations of this equipment are needed to boost such exports. While China's high-speed railways are gaining a global reputation, Chinese nuclear power technology and its facilities should also have a place abroad, he said. He made the comments during a visit to China Nuclear Power Engineering Co Ltd in Beijing. "Safety is a must and should be ensured throughout the whole process, from design to operation. I hope you can adopt the highest standards, offer the best quality with the most competitive prices," he said. Xing Ji, the Hualong One chief designer, showed the premier a simulation to demonstrate that the reactors are strong enough to withstand an aircraft crash.^ top ^

 

DPRK
S.Korea calls for dialogue with DPRK without preconditions (Xinhua)
2015-06-16
South Korea on Monday called for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to return to the dialogue table without any preconditions in response to the DPRK's government statement that urged the South side to form an atmosphere conducive to improving inter-Korean relations. Seoul's Unification Ministry said in a statement that the DPRK should immediately stop acts of escalating military tensions on the peninsula as Pyongyang itself mentioned an atmosphere to ameliorate the north-south relations. The ministry said that Pyongyang should come to the inter- governmental dialogue table without proposing any unfair preconditions and should respond to Seoul's call for private- sector exchanges that contribute to recovering homogeneity between people of the two Koreas. The DPRK issued a government statement, carried Monday by the official KCNA news agency, saying that there is no reason that dialogue and negotiations are not launched if the atmosphere of trust and reconciliation is formed between the two Koreas. Urging South Korea to implement the June 15th Joint Declaration, the DPRK called on the South side to suspend its joint annual war games with the United States, stop slandering each other and remove legal and regulatory mechanisms that impede inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation. The joint declaration, which contains a consensus on reunification of the two Koreas, was signed on June 15, 2000 when then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and his DPRK counterpart Kim Jong Il met in Pyongyang. In response, the South Korean ministry said that it has made clear several times its position of honoring all inter-Korean agreements made in the past, including the June 15th Joint Declaration. Seoul has maintained a position that all issues of mutual interest, including how to fulfill inter-Korean agreements, should be resolved through a broad range of negotiations launched by sincere dialogue offers, the ministry said. On Dec. 29 last year, then South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae offered talks with his DPRK counterpart, toward which Pyongyang has kept mum. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

The Speaker of Parliament received Delegation from British Columbia province of Canada (Infomongolia)
2015-06-16
The Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold had received delegation headed by Edward John from British Columbia province of Canada. At the beginning of meeting, the Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold said: “The relations of Mongolia and Canada have been progressing actively in past years. We consider Canada as a partner country or “third neighbor” in Northern America. Mongolia and Canada have much in common with each other. Similar vast landscape, climate, sparse population, and economic and social status also government policy make Canada suitable country to Mongolian to cooperate and share experience. Mongolia considers all countries except its two neighbor countries as “third neighbor”. We can expand our cooperation with Canada not only in mining sector also Canadian wooden house technology, agriculture, education, infrastructure, health sport and winter sport. Our government give special importance to introducing Canadian wooden house technology to Mongolia. As of today, two sum centers of Bayankhongor aimag were renewed in frameworks of “New Sum Center” project using this technology. Further, we have proposed to collaborate with Canadian government on modernizing remaining 330 sums. I am sure that you will provide assistance and cooperation on “New Sum Center” project.”Mr. Edward John expressed his gratitude to the Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold and informed about his intention to pay on-site visit to renewed center sums of Bayankhongor aimag. Also, he noted that Canada is the leading country in wood industry and ready to collaborate with Mongolia in the future. Deputy Minister of Construction and Urban Development G.Baigalmaa and other officials attended the meeting. ^ top ^

L.Purevsuren FM visits France (Montsame)
2015-06-16
The Foreign Minister of Mongolia Mr L.Purevsuren paid a visit to France on June 11-12, 2015. Within the visit, Mr Purevsuren has met with his counterpart of France Mr Laurent Fabius, exchanging views on the Mongolia-France relations and co­operation, and noted about a celebra­tion of the 50th anniversary of the bilat­eral diplomatic relations. Mentioning that the Mongolia-France ties have been developing in the tour­ism, culture and other spheres, Mr Fabi­us pointed the countries have a chance to enrich the cooperation with economic contents, and then expressed a willing­ness to expand the collaboration in the sectors of agriculture and space tech­nology. In turn, Mr Purevsuren emphasized Mongolia and France have the history of hundreds-year of ties except the formal diplomatic relations, and underlined an importance of widening the economic relations with France, a Third Neighbor of Mongolia, by exploiting all opportu­nities of the cooperation in agriculture, culture and arts and supporting activi­ties of the private sector. The sides have concurred to collab­orate in introducing a gene pool of top breeding of French cows in the breed­ing of Mongolian cows, training experts, rendering technical assistance to Mon­golia, saving livestock gene pool and supplying veterinary equipment and fa­cilities to Mongolia. Apart from this, the sides noted the cultural ties play an im­portant role in the bilateral relations, and agreed to cooperate in the legal sphere of films. Mr Fabius supported proposals of the Mongolian side, underlining an impor­tance of implementing high-level mutual visits in frames of the diplomatic rela­tions'anniversary. Besides exchanging on international issues, the French side said it backed Mongolia at an election of the UN Human Rights Council. During the visit, Mr Purevsuren has met Mr Frederik Bredain, the president of the French National Center of Film Industry, sharing views on the coopera­tion. They have agreed to co-organize an international seminar in Mongolia on film policy and to learn French experi­ence in legal environment of films. ^ top ^

Government establishes cooperation memorandum with EEC (Montsame)
2015-06-19
The government of Mongolia has estab­lished a cooperation memorandum with the Eurasian Economic Com­mission (EEC). It was signed on Wednesday by the Prime Minister of Mongolia Mr Ch.Saikhanbileg; and the EEC Chair­man Mr V.B. Khristenko, in Moscow, Russia. The memorandum's objectives are to enhance the cooperation in all spheres between the Mongolia's government and the EEC, to support augmenting the trade profits and to realize measures for abolishing difficulties in a commercial development. “This memorandum is a start of our cooperation. We hope that the docu­ment will forward the cooperation be­tween Mongolia and the EEC mem­bers,” the dignitaries said. In accordance with the memo­randum, the sides will set up a coop­eration working group in order to take some measures for abolishing tariff and non-tariff obstacles, simplifying the commercial and customs rules, creat­ing sustainable, beneficial and reliable transportation direction and services, ensuring a balance in trade and growth of standard products'industry and mak­ing a condition for Mongolia and the EEC members to increase their competitive­ness of entities, said Mr Saikhanbileg. Within the visit to the Russian Fed­eration, the Premier will take part in the Saint Petersburg International Econom­ic Forum on Thursday. ^ top ^

Mongolia aspires to become member of UNHRC (Montsame)
2015-06-19
In 2012,Mongolia nominated for the 2015 election of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) based on the concepts on national security and foreign policy. In frames of the preparation works of the election, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr L.Purevsuren Wednesday organized an event for heads of the diplomatic missions in Mongolia and representatives of international organizations to present to them a reason of the nomination at the election and to take support. The Foreign Minister emphasized that Mongolia aspires to share its experiences in democracy and market economy with other countries as the country has set the 9th goal of the Millennium Development on cherishing human rights, strengthening democratic governance and staying on zero tolerance for corruption. Mongolia has joined some 30 contracts and conventions on human rights, and has started works of harmonizing the national laws with the international regulations within the legal reforms, he said. Mr Purevsuren pointed out that the Mongolia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is attaching a great importance to the preparation works of the UNHRC election, for example, a working group has been set up under leadership of the Ministry's State Secretary by an order of the Premier for taking relevant measures. The UNHRC is a United Nations System inter-governmental body whose 47 member states are responsible for promoting and protecting human rights around the world. Also, the UNHRC is the successor to the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR, herein CHR), and is a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly. The council works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and engages the United Nations' special procedures. In accordance with paragraph 7 of General Assembly resolution 60/251 the Council shall consist of 47 Member States, which shall be elected directly and individually by secret ballot by the majority of the members of the General Assembly. The membership shall be based on equitable geographical distribution, and seats shall be distributed as fol­lows among regional groups: Group of African States (13); Asia-Pacific States (13); Eastern European States (6); Latin American and Caribbean States (8); Western European and other States (7). The members of the Council shall serve for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for immediate re-election after two consecutive terms. Voluntary pledges that Member States have chosen to provide in sup­port of their respective candidacies, in accordance with paragraph 8 of Gen­eral Assembly resolution 60/251, are is­sued as General Assembly documents in all official languages. ^ 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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