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
  22-26.6.15, No. 578  
Startseite / Homepage   Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

Mongolia

^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China, U.S. to kick off annual high-level talks on deepening ties (Xinhua)
2015-06-23
China and the U.S. are set to start their annual high-level talks here on Tuesday to discuss deepening cooperation on strategic and economic issues as well as people-to-people exchange. The seventh China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) will be co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi, special representatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, on behalf of U.S. President Barack Obama. The sixth China-U.S. High-Level Consultation on People-to- People Exchange (CPE) will be co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong and Kerry. The S&ED will cover a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues of common concern, including climate change, interaction in the Asia Pacific, managing differences and sensitive situations, United Nations and multilateral affairs, science and innovation, green ports and ships, as well as fighting illegal trade in wildlife. During the economic dialogue, officials will have in-depth discussions on macro-economic policy and restructuring, trade and investment promotion, and financial market stabilization and reform, including the exchange of "negative lists" on a mutual investment treaty, which outline sectors that are closed to foreign investment. The CPE talks will focus on cooperation in education, science and technology, culture, health, sports, women and youth. Before heading to Washington on Monday, Liu had already visited Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Houston, Texas for a series of meetings and interaction with U.S. officials, athletes, and Chinese students in the U.S.. This year's S&ED and the CPE, which come at a time when there are a few hiccups in bilateral relations, are also expected to pave the way for a successful state visit to the U.S. in September by President Xi. China-U.S. ties have been strained recently over the South China Sea dispute and U.S. allegations about China's hacking of its federal computer networks, which is flatly rejected by Beijing. In the eyes of some U.S. experts, the continuation of high- level China-U.S. communication and meetings despite disputes is a demonstration of maturing bilateral ties based on shared interests. Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Xinhua in an interview that toning down friction will likely be "the most important outcome" from the talks and consultation, as the two sides are working to make President Xi's U.S. visit a success. Robert Daly, director of Kissinger Institute on China and the U. S. at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told Xinhua that there has been an increase in suspicions and accusations between the two sides since Obama's China visit in November 2014, so "it is likely that both nations will want to use the S&ED and CPE to reverse this trend." Signs are also emerging on both sides to tone down their rhetoric to avoid derailing the annual high-level talks and to create a positive atmosphere for Xi's visit. Washington said last week that it has an "unwavering determination" to avoid a military confrontation with Beijing, following China's announcement that its land reclamation projects on some islands in the South China Sea would soon come to an end. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said on Friday that China is ready to work with the U.S. to implement the consensus reached by their leaders, enhance strategic communication, promote mutually beneficial cooperation, properly handle differences, so as to push for new progress in the building of a new model of major power relationship. Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Xinhua that this year's talks "offer the possibility of progress," while cautioning against having expectations for major breakthroughs. Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told reporters Thursday at a news briefing on the China-U.S. talks that the U.S. works to expand areas of practical cooperation with China while seeking to resolve or at least manage their differences. Russel stressed that all these talks will provide the two sides "a really important, regularized platform to strengthen our relationship, to deepen our coordination, to promote cooperation, and to narrow where we can -- at least manage -- our differences." ^ top ^

New Chinese consulate general opens in NE Thailand (Xinhua)
2015-06-23
The third Chinese consulate general in Thailand opened here on Monday, with jurisdiction covering 20 northeastern provinces. The consulate general in Khon Kaen went into operation as China and Thailand are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties, which fully manifested China's aspiration to promote cordial relations with the northeastern part of the kingdom, Chinese ambassador to Thailand Ning Fukui said at the opening ceremony. With Khon Kaen being the center of northeastern Thailand, the new consulate general is expected to further facilitate exchanges between the two countries, Khon Kaen Governor Kamthorn Thawornsathit said. The first two Chinese consulates general in Thailand are located in northern Chiang Mai province and southern Songkhla province, respectively. ^ top ^

China opens new route for Indian pilgrims to Tibet (Xinhua)
2015-06-23
China on Monday opened a new route along the Himalayan Nathu La Pass for pilgrims from India traveling to Tibet, to further promote religious exchanges between the two countries. The first group of 43 Indian nationals entered Tibet Autonomous Region, southwest China, via this pass at 10 a.m., starting a 12-day pilgrimage to the sacred religious sites of Mount Kangrinboqe and Mapam Yumco Lake in Ngari Prefecture, Tibet. Free jackets, backpacks and blankets were provided to the pilgrims by Chinese authorities upon their arrival. "This new route is safer, more convenient and comfortable than the former one," said Dong Mingjun, vice chairman of Tibet regional government, at the pass. It will shorten the pilgrimage time from more than 20 days to about eight, he added. Le Yucheng, the Chinese ambassador to India, said the pass was the result of a consensus reached by both Chinese and Indian leaders when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India in September. It will promote mutual understanding and communication between the peoples of the two countries, he said. Le traveled from New Delhi to Nathu La Pass for the occasion. "We hope to use this opportunity to strengthen strategic mutual trust between China and India, expand cooperation in all fields, promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges, properly handle our divergences, boost common development, and take the bilateral relations of our two countries to a new historical level," Le said. According to Indian media, around 250 pilgrims, in five groups of 50, will travel to Tibet along the new route this year. Among the first group, some pilgrims had dropped out for health reasons. Another 18 groups of 60 pilgrims will undertake the pilgrimage along the old route. Tarun Vijay, president of the Parliamentary Group on India China Friendship, said the new route marked a milestone in the bilateral relationship, and it has global significance. "It is a moment of mutual trust," he said. "We are grateful to President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their efforts." The new route will be an enduring symbol of the people-to-people ties between India and China, said Shrila Datta Kumar, counsellor from the Indian Embassy to China. Amarnath, 70, from Mumbai was among the first group of pilgrims. "It is my first time traveling to Tibet, and probably my last time. I thank the Chinese government for the warm welcome," he said. The Nathu La Pass sits 4,545 meters above sea level and is wedged between Tibet's Yadong County in Xigaze Prefecture, and India's Sikkim State. It was the shortest land pass for trade between China and India, and also the highest altitude land pass for trade. The pass was closed for more than 40 years. It was reopened in 2006, but for trade only. Indian nationals have made the pilgrimage to Tibet every year since 1981. China has welcomed almost 80,000 Indian pilgrims in the past decade alone. The pilgrims traditionally climb over the Qang La Pass, which sits 5,200 meters above sea level on the China-India-Nepal border, to reach their destination. The road is steep and usually covered by snow. Relations between India and China are on a continuous growing path. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited China this May, following Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India last year. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier arrives in Belgrade to advance cooperation with Serbia (Global Times)
2015-06-23
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli arrived here Monday afternoon for a visit aimed at advancing China's practical cooperation with Serbia and other Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs).Top on Zhang's agenda is to implement the consensus China and the 16 CEECs have reached during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visits to the region over the past two years. During Li's 2014 visit to Serbia, Chinese and CEEC government leaders signed the Belgrade Guidelines for China-CEECs cooperation, in which they agreed to strengthen all-round cooperation, including the development of a China-Europe express line consisting of sea routes and land transport systems. China signed a memorandum with Serbia and Hungary in 2013 to jointly build and update the railway between Belgrade and Budapest. In 2014, the three countries and Macedonia signed another agreement to extend the Hungary-Serbia railway into an express transport line that starts from Piraeus port in Greece, runs through Belgrade in Serbia and Skopje in Macedonia and ends in Budapest. The express line will become a convenient route for trade and goods transport between China and Europe. Since Serbia is located at the hub of transport between the East and the West, it has been playing an active role in developing the Hungary-Serbia railway and the China-Europe express line. During his visit to Belgrade, Zhang will meet Serbian leaders to advance the implementation of concrete projects related to the railway and express line. The two sides will also exchange views on advancing China-CEECs cooperation and China-EU relations. ^ top ^

US 'welcomes' China to set rules on global affairs: Biden (SCMP)
2015-06-24
The United States and China must be "honest and direct" about their future ties, and Washington welcomed Beijing at the table to set new rules for global affairs, US Vice-President Joe Biden said yesterday, launching key security and economic talks between the two countries. While striking a cordial tone at the start of the annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Biden said the world's seas must remain "open and protected" to maintain key trade routes. "Nations that discard diplomacy and use coercion and intimidation to settle disputes, or turn a blind eye to aggression of others only invite instability," Biden said. His remarks came against the backdrop of tensions between the two powers on trade, cybersecurity and the South China Sea. China has also locked horns with its neighbours over the disputed waters. Before the start of the dialogue, US Deputy Secretary of Defence Robert Work warned that China was mounting a serious effort to challenge US military superiority in the sky and space, forcing the Pentagon to seek new technologies and systems. Biden said the US and China might not resolve all of their differences during the cabinet-level meetings but should commit to working on them. The two nations had the duty to shape rules in all-important global negotiations, he added. "China needs to be at the table as these new rules are written," he said. "I believe that the future of China's success and global influence is directly tied to the extent to which it acts as a responsible stakeholder. Essential to this is to find new ways to work together even as we seek to manage future competition." About 400 Chinese officials are in Washington for the talks hosted by Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. The Chinese side is being led by Vice-Premier Wang Yang and State Councillor Yang Jiechi. Wang said the US and China must avoid "old paths of confrontation and conflict". China and the US are grappling with a lack of political trust, with Beijing irked by Washington's growing presence in the Asia-Pacific, and the US increasingly concerned about China's rising military might. On Monday, Work said China was "quickly closing the technological gap" in radar-evading aircraft, advanced reconnaissance planes, sophisticated missiles and top-notch electronic warfare equipment. Military experts from Beijing and Taiwan said Work's claims were exaggerated, even though the People's Liberation Army was developing "asymmetrical warfare", including the DF-41 long-range missile. "It's a fact that the PLA is closing some part of its technology gap in the air and space with the US, but I think Work intended to exaggerate the Chinese military's overall development capability," said Professor He Qisong, a defence policy specialist at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. Professor Arthur Ding Shu-fan, an expert on the PLA at the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies in Taipei, said: "The PLA is the strongest opponent in the air and space for the Pentagon … It's normal and necessary for the US to prepare for the worst." ^ top ^

A break with tradition: the key Sino-US meeting that didn't happen (SCMP)
2015-06-24
US President Barack Obama broke with a longstanding precedent last week, failing to meet General Fan Changlong, the vice-chairman of China's powerful Central Military Commission, during his five-day trip to Washington. Fan, a military heavyweight and one of President Xi Jinping's most trusted right-hand men, is at the forefront of talks over territorial claims in the South China Sea. His trip began on June 15, a day after Beijing tested its supersonic nuclear delivery vehicle, which the US calls the "Wu-14". China-based military experts said the test was an attempt by Beijing to underscore its nuclear deterrent in response to Washington's continued interference in China's territorial disputes in the region. It was not clear if the test was linked to Obama's decision not to meet Fan but a senior adviser at a US-based think tank said the White House decided against a meeting, despite the Pentagon recommending that it go ahead. "I asked the same question [why the US president did not meet Fan] to an official from the Pentagon and the answer I got was 'ask the White House'," the adviser said. "I was told that the Pentagon recommended that he meet with Fan Changlong and it was the White House that decided no." It is the first time in two decades that a CMC vice-chairman has not met the US president on an official visit to the United States. US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter hosted an event for Fan at the Pentagon which was attended by few high-ranking military officials and did not feature the customary 19-gun salute. Fan's predecessors, generals Guo Boxiong, Zhang Wannian, Cao Gangchuan and Chi Haotian, all met the sitting US president during official trips. The US think tank adviser said Chinese military officers had seemed hopeful ahead of the visit that Fan and Obama would meet. Peking University international relations professor Jia Qingguo said domestic pressure might have prompted Obama to skip the meeting. "China's reclamation works in the South China Sea have triggered quite a strong backlash in the US. And there is a common public perception that the People's Liberation Army is responsible for the projects," Jia said. "If Obama met Fan he could appear to be acquiescing to China's reclamation works." The White House and China's defence ministry did not respond to requests for comment. China has said that Sino-US military ties will not be affected by diplomatic spats over territory and other core issues, including differences over Taiwan. On April 9 last year, one day before China criticised the US for passing a bill giving the go-ahead for the sale of four second-hand US warships to the island, Xi met then US defence secretary Chuck Hagel and called for a closer military ties with the US to avoid confrontation. The meeting was also a day after Hagel and Defence Minister Chang Wanquan traded fire on various issues. ^ top ^

China, U.S. kick off annual high-level talks on deepening ties (Xinhua)
2015-06-24
China and the United States opened their annual high-level talks here Tuesday to deepen cooperation in strategic and economic issues and further promote people-to-people exchanges. The seventh China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) and the sixth China-U.S. High-Level Consultation on People-to- People Exchange (CPE) will conclude on Wednesday. The S&ED is co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi, special representatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, on behalf of U.S. President Barack Obama. The CPE is co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, a special representative of Xi, and Kerry. Speaking at the opening ceremony, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden stressed the importance of U.S.-China cooperation in dealing with varied issues facing today's world, saying his country, instead of fearing China's rise, wants to see the Asian giant's rise as it could be a significant asset for the region and the whole world. With an eye to the differences between the two sides, Biden said the United States welcomes "healthy and fair competition" from China and believes that whenever possible, China should be included at the table of writing the rules. Kerry said that the U.S. is fully aware that the two countries will not agree on all issues, but "we don't accept that a narrowing of differences is beyond our reach." Liu said that given the complexity of today's global affairs, the domain where both countries should and can cooperate is vast. As long as China and the U.S. respect and take into consideration each other's core interest, adhere to constructive means, and avoid strategic misunderstanding and misjudgment, difference between the two sides will be managed, and their common interests will be maintained, she said. Wang praised the annual China-U.S. high-level talks, which have gained more than 170 achievements in the past decade, for injecting "positive energy" into the bilateral ties. It is the common wish of both sides to achieve a win-win relationship through joint cooperation and avoid the historical trap of zero-sum great power rivalry. The two countries should keep on the path of building a new model of major-country relationship to seek peaceful co-existence despite all the difficulties that they may face on the road ahead, he said. Lew said that the U.S. and China "have an enormous stake in each other's economic performance." As the world's two largest economies, a mutually beneficial economic relationship is of great importance "not only to the prosperity of our own peoples, but to the health and development of the global economy." Yang said that, as the largest developing country and the biggest developed nation, China and the U.S. should stand on the higher ground to look at and deal with the bilateral ties, and stick to the path of pushing forward their cooperation, working together to maintain world peace and security, and helping every nation in the world with its development. This year's S&ED will cover a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues of common concern, including climate change, interaction in the Asia-Pacific region, managing differences and sensitive situations, the United Nations and multilateral affairs, science and innovation, green ports and ships, as well as fighting illegal trade in wildlife. During the economic dialogue, officials will have in-depth discussions on macro-economic policy and restructuring, trade and investment promotion, and financial market stabilization and reform, including the exchange of "negative lists" on a mutual investment treaty, which outline sectors that are closed to foreign investment. The CPE talks will focus on cooperation in education, science and technology, culture, health, sports, women and youth. Before heading to Washington on Monday, Liu had already visited Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Houston, Texas for a series of meetings and interaction with U.S. officials, athletes, college officials, and Chinese students in the United States. This year's S&ED and the CPE, which come at a time when there are a few hiccups in bilateral relations, are also expected to pave the way for Xi's successful state visit to the United States in September. ^ top ^

China, U.S. sign agreement on medical training program (Xinhua)
2015-06-24
An agreement on launching a medical training program in China was signed here Tuesday between China's Ministry of Science and Technology and American Heart Association in order to further boost treatment and awareness of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in both countries. Under the agreement, the two sides will promote cooperation in three areas: CPR training and awareness initiatives, physician exchanges, and cardiopulmonary science engagement opportunities. At the signing ceremony, which was held on the sidelines of the sixth China-U.S. High-Level Consultations on the People-to-people Exchange (CPE), Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong said China and U. S. are both facing the threat of cardiovascular disease, which kills more than 17 million people annually in the world. Bilateral cooperation in research, popularizing preventive measures and informing public of emergency response to a cardiac arrest are therefore crucial to the two peoples, said Liu, co- chair of CPE talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. According to Liu, cooperation on health and science and technology has become an important part of people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States. The two should further such cooperation, she added. Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said: "We are so honored to sign this new cooperative agreement with the People's Republic of China's Ministry of Science and Technology, which represents a momentous step for global health." Welcoming Liu's visit, American Heart Association International Committee Chairman Douglas Boyle said the initiative could save millions of lives in China. "The vast majority of cardiovascular incidents occur in public and in people's homes. So if you've got a broad population trained on how to handle an event like that, how to keep someone alive, it could have a real impact on mortality in China," Boyle said. ^ top ^

Xi eyes "even better" China-Belgium relationship (Xinhua)
2015-06-24
Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with King Philippe of Belgium on Tuesday afternoon, looking forward to "even better" ties between the two nations. "The China-Belgium relationship is at its height after years of smooth development," Xi said during the talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Xi told King Philippe that China values ties with Belgium and regards the country as an important partner in the European Union. The king arrived in China Saturday night for a week-long state visit at Xi's invitation. It is the king's first state visit overseas since he was crowned in July 2013. Xi said China stands ready to maintain close high-level interactions, retain the sound political trust and ensure the general direction of friendship between the two nations. The president made a state visit to Belgium in the spring of 2014, when the two sides decided to upgrade their relations to an all-round partnership of friendship and cooperation. On Tuesday, Xi suggested the two sides boost cooperation in high-end manufacturing, biomedicine, environmental technology and sustainable development. The Chinese government supports capable Chinese companies investing in Belgium and also welcomes Belgian companies to explore the Chinese market, said the president. Xi called for closer China-Belgium cooperation on finance and interconnectivity, hoping that Belgium will back Chinese enterprises' participation in the ambitious Investment Plan for Europe as well as the construction of main corridors in Europe. He proposed the two governments strengthen policy coordination to facilitate people-to-people exchanges. Briefing King Philippe on the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st - Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives, Xi said China welcomes Belgium's participation and will support its accession to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. China and Europe should further advance their partnership, work together to safeguard the international system with the United Nations at the core, combine their development strategies, increase exchanges on structural reform, and step up dialogue. King Philippe lauded the Belt and Road initiatives. He said as a reliable partner of China in Europe, Belgium will act as a bridge to link China and Europe. Belgium will continue to boost cooperation with China, said the king. Expressing his gratitude for China's support for European integration as well as the development of the Eurozone, King Philippe said Belgium will work to align the Investment Plan for Europe to China's Belt and Road initiatives. President Xi and King Philippe also exchanged views on climate change and the situation in the Great Lakes region in Africa. After their talks, President Xi and King Philippe witnessed the signing of bilateral agreements on cooperation in aerospace, customs, science and technology, nuclear fuel, education, as well as cooperation between local governments. Prior to the talks, Xi held a red-carpet ceremony to welcome the visiting king. ^ top ^

China, Serbia, Hungary intensify cooperation on railway deal (Xinhua)
2015-06-24
The preparations for the construction of a Chinese high-speed railway between the capital cities of Serbia and Hungary is underway and on schedule, Xinhua was told by the Serbian Ministry of Transport, Construction and Infrastructure. On a three-day visit of Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli to Serbia which commenced Monday, Serbian minister Zorana Mihajlovic explained that cooperation among the three countries on the several-billion-dollar project had intensified. Mihajlovic said they would discuss the feasibility study and financing for the project of the modernization of the Belgrade-Budapest railway in mid-July. Mihajlovic told Xinhua that the railway was strategically the most important project of cooperation with China, and the first one that involves more than one country from the region of Central and Eastern Europe on a common project. She reminded that the railway from Belgrade to Budapest would be a part of the line that directly links the port city of Piraeus in Greece with at least six to eight Central and Eastern European countries and other Central and Western European countries, as a part of the greater transport route Maritime Silk Road linking the European and Asian continents. Mihajlovic revealed that Serbia, by starting the project, had shown that it "not only welcomes and promotes the Chinese 'Road and Belt' initiative, but has taken direct action in implementing it." The project for the modernization of the Belgrade-Budapest railway was initially agreed on in 2013 at the China-Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries leaders' meeting that took place in Bucharest, while at last year's summit held in Belgrade, China, Hungary and Serbia signed a memorandum of understanding. At that point, Macedonia and Greece both expressed their willingness to partake in the project that is planned to turn Piraeus, the main port of Greece, into a Chinese hub for trade with Europe. The cooperation plan for the construction of the railway was signed in the beginning of this year in Belgrade at the meeting of the Trilateral Group of China, Hungary and Serbia for Traffic and Infrastructure Cooperation, setting dates for certain phases of the project. According to the plan, the construction of the railway should begin by the end of 2015, after the feasibility study and financial model are agreed upon, with the railway scheduled to be fully completed in 2017. The 370 km section of the railway between Belgrade and Budapest will significantly improve the transport of passengers and goods between the two countries, as it will decrease the time of travelling of trains from eight to less than three hours. Once finished, the double track on the route between the Mediterranean and the Danube will enable trains to run as fast as 200 km per hour, and this enables China's land-sea passage to become a new, convenient channel for trade. One of the biggest expected impacts of the project is promoting the economic development of Hungary, Serbia, and other countries along the passage, as well as to deepen China's cooperation with countries in the region, with the hope of creating new jobs and boosting development of industry and railways. ^ top ^

Xi satisfied with development of China-Belgium ties (Xinhua)
2015-06-25
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday voiced his satisfaction with the development of the relationship between China and Belgium. Xi made the remarks during a meeting with King Philippe of Belgium on Wednesday afternoon at Yingtai in the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing. This was the second meeting between Xi and Philippe during the latter's state visit to China. On Tuesday, Xi held talks with the king at the Great Hall of the People. During Wednesday's meeting, Xi spoke highly of the contribution the royal family has made to the bilateral relations. Hailing Philippe's visit, Xi said the two nations are developing steadily toward all-round friendship. "I'm satisfied with the China-Belgium relationship," Xi said, highlighting political trust, two-way trade and people-to-people exchanges. Briefing Philippe on modern China, Xi said China's history, culture, traditions, and national conditions determine that it must follow a path suitable for itself. Xi said China has developed socialism with Chinese characteristics over decades of reform and opening up. As China sticks to the path of peaceful development, it holds the responsibility to promote world peace, stability and development, said the president. Philippe said he is impressed by his visit, during which he has seen great changes and felt the immense potential for Belgium-China cooperation. Earlier on Wednesday, Philippe laid a wreath at the Monument to the People's Heroes in Beijing. Earlier the same day, Xi's wife Peng Liyuan and Queen Mathilde of Belgium visited Beijing Experimental School for the Deaf, and the People's Liberation Army Academy of Art. ^ top ^

'Illegal smuggling routes' exposed after rotting meat from the 1970s seized by Chinese customs (SCMP)
2015-06-25
Smugglers are shipping hundreds of thousands of tonnes of beef from India into Guangxi through Vietnam, exposing a second illegal route into China, news website Thepaper.cn said yesterday. The revelation comes a day after it emerged that frozen meat from the 1970s was being smuggled through Hong Kong and into China. The website said it had uncovered a smuggling route that was shipping the beef into the Vietnamese city of Haiphong. The beef would transit through Mong Cai, also in Vietnam, before finding its way across the border into Guangxi, after which it was served up in hotpot restaurants across the country. This route was in addition to one in which illegal frozen meat was smuggled from the Americas through Hong Kong and Haiphong and onto Guangxi's border city of Dongxing and Guangzhou in Guangdong. Frozen beef is a key ingredient of Chongqing- and Beijing-style hotpot. News of the smuggling routes comes amid a crackdown by Chinese customs across 14 provinces this month that seized more than 100,000 tonnes of frozen chicken, beef, pork and other meat, worth over 3 billion yuan (HK$3.8 billion). More than 20 groups of smugglers have been detained. In one operation, in Changsha, Hunan province, the frozen meat – some of it more than 40 years old – had been smuggled into Guangxi via Hong Kong. A customs investigation in Chongqing, which began last May, found at least 8,130 tonnes of beef smuggled along the route from India had been received by a wholesaler and sold on to hotpot restaurants from June 2013 to last July, Thepaper.cn reported. It said the main suspect, from the mainland, would stand trial along with 16 family members. Another suspect, from Vietnam, was at large. “The beef arriving in Vietnam was treated as re-exported meat, so was charged the minimum tax rate – far below China's level of import tax,” an industry insider was quoted as saying. Professor Cao Binghai, of Chinese Agricultural University, said up to two million tonnes of beef had been smuggled into China in 2012 and 2013. Each kilogram of boneless buffalo meat was worth about 21 to 24 yuan in 2013 when exported from India to Vietnam, but its wholesale price on the mainland at the time was between 56 and 59 yuan per kg, partly due to taxes amounting to 39 per cent. Guangzhou-based food critic Lao Yibo said the muscle fibre of aged frozen meat was darker and meat that had been refrozen appeared watery when served. He recommended diners choose light cuisine and avoid heavily marinated or strongly flavoured hotpots. ^ top ^

China, U.S. agree to deepen cooperation on ocean protection (Xinhua)
2015-06-25
China and the United States on Wednesday praised the huge progress achieved in their cooperation on ocean protection, while agreeing to make new efforts to explore opportunities of deepening such cooperation. The two countries held a special session on ocean protection under the framework of the seventh China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) which started on Tuesday. The meeting was co-chaired by Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Yang lauded the positive contributions by the two great ocean powers to promoting maritime research, development, maintenance and protection, citing the increased maritime policy exchange and practical cooperation, and the fruitful cooperation in the areas of oceanic scientific research, maritime enforcement, maritime security, maritime search and rescue, and sustainable use of maritime resources. Yang expressed the hope that China and the U.S. will build on the progress achieved to turn ocean protection into a new area of growing bilateral cooperation. He called on the two sides to create more channels of communication and increase frequency of dialogues in order to jointly explore ways of conducting practical cooperation in the spheres of maritime ecological civilization construction, oceanic environmental monitoring and protection of fishery resources through sharing experiences and complimenting each other with own advantages. He also suggested the two sides join hands in building a peaceful and safe maritime environment, by increasing the contacts between their maritime enforcement agencies, and elevating the level of cooperation in cracking down on illegal drift net fishing on high seas, conducting maritime humanitary search and rescue, and managing transportation of hazardous materials. The two countries, he added, also need to jointly maintain a fair and reasonable international maritime order, and promote prosperity and sustainable development of ocean, through practical cooperation within the framework of international institutions, such as the United Nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. For his part, Kerry said the U.S. and China, as the two largest economies and maritime powers that lead maritime scientific research, should cooperate to tackle the tough challenges in ocean protection and its sustainable development. They should play the leading role in ocean protection through cooperation, which benefits not only both countries but also the world as a whole. The U.S. is willing to work together with China to expand cooperation in areas of ocean protection and promoting maritime sustainable development, he pledged. ^ top ^

China to announce package of aid for Nepal's post-quake reconstruction (Xinhua)
2015-06-25
China will announce a package of aid plans for Nepal's post-quake reconstruction on Thursday at the International Conference on Nepal's Reconstruction, visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here Wednesday. Wang, who is leading a Chinese government delegation to attend the conference, told his Nepalese counterpart Manhendra Behadur Pandey that as Nepal's true friend, China has stood and will stand with the Nepalese people at a time of difficulty. The Chinese foreign minister again expressed on behalf of the Chinese government his deep sympathy and sincere consolations for the victims of the earthquake which struck the country on April 25. He said China has already sent a government delegation and a team of three experts to Nepal to learn about the damages caused by the earthquake and the needs for reconstruction. China will send an inter-ministerial government delegation to Nepal in the near future to work out a long-term matching plan with their Nepalese counterparts on reconstruction aid, said Wang. He said that China will also actively coordinate with Nepal on the construction of infrastructures such as cross-border highways and border check points to reinforce connectivity links and help develop local economy for the benefit of the local people. The Chinese foreign minister said the post-quake reconstruction is a long-term and huge dimensional work which needs the participation of the international community. He also said political stability will provide a key environment for the success of reconstruction and China hopes that Nepal will smoothly complete its constitutional process. For his part, Pandey expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the support China has been providing to Nepal since the earthquake took place two months ago. He said that the Chinese leaders and the Chinese people extended their helping hands immediately after the earthquake which demonstrated the deep friendship and solidarity between the two countries. He also praised Chinese rescue and relief workers, medical teams and the Chinese Army for their high professionalism, experiences, skills and courage shown in carrying out the humanitarian missions in Nepal. Pandey also recalled that since the two countries established the diplomatic relations 60 years ago, China has always supported Nepal's independence, development, peace and stability. He said Nepal is willing to maintain close high-level exchanges with China and will take care of each other's concern, understand and support each other. Nepal will not allow anybody to engage in any anti-China activities on its soil, he added. ^ top ^

China willing to enhance practical cooperation with Iceland (Xinhua)
2015-06-25
China is willing to enhance practical cooperation with Iceland and promote bilateral relationship between the two countries to a new level, a visiting senior Chinese official has said here. Guo Jinlong, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks during a two-day visit to Iceland. Guo, who wrapped up his visit on Wednesday, said China and Iceland have been developing their relationship with mutual political trust for more than 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relationship between the two countries. China attaches great importance to the relationship with Iceland and is willing to enhance cooperation in practical terms with Iceland, he said. During his visit, Guo met with Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. At his meeting with Guo, Grimsson said the China-Iceland relationship has become a model of friendly relationships between countries in different regions and with different social systems as the two countries have been developing their relationship with frequent high level exchanges and fruitful achievements. Iceland is willing to enhance cooperation with China in the fields including geothermal energy and Arctic affairs, Grimsson added. As the first European country to sign a bilateral free trade agreement with China, Iceland attaches great importance to the relationship with China, said Gunnlaugsson. Iceland is willing to work together with China in deepening exchanges and cooperation in the fields including trade, tourism and new energy, he added. ^ top ^

China urges Abe to take correct attitude toward history (Global Times)
2015-06-25
A Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Wednesday urged Japan's leader to "take a correct attitude toward history and concrete actions to win the trust of its Asian neighbors."Spokesperson Lu Kang's remarks came after Kyodo reported Monday that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may not seek Cabinet approval for his statement to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, as he aims to highlight its personal nature. Lu said Japan's leader should deeply reflect on its history of aggression, adhere to the solemn statements of former leaders and remain on the path of peaceful development. Japan's Asian neighbors, including China, are concerned about the Japanese leader's remarks and attitude on past issues, said Lu. People in Japan are also keeping a close watch, Lu added. ^ top ^

China, US reaffirm commitment to 'avoid military confrontation' in South China Sea (SCMP)
2015-06-26
The Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue has softened tensions between Beijing and Washington ahead of President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States in September, analysts say. "Both [sides] made progress … with tensions in the South China Sea eased as both sides reiterated their will to avoid military confrontation in the region," said Wang Fan, from the China Foreign Affairs University. The improved relations paved the way for Xi's September trip to the US, Wang said. Although the two-day talks achieved few tangible results, both Chinese and US negotiators had realised the value of cooperation over confrontation, the analyst said. "Beijing and Washington … are getting used to working together amid their disagreements, although it will still take time for the two giants to comprehend each other," Wang said. The two nations have pledged to jointly protect the oceans and vowed to step up efforts in combating wildlife trafficking as well as in nuclear non-proliferation. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew also cited significant progress on a long-standing US concern that the renminbi was undervalued against the dollar. Chinese defence spokesman Yang Yujun said the People's Liberation Army was willing to strengthen interaction with the US military in the Asia-Pacific region. Even so, there were signs of tension. US President Barack Obama raised concerns about hacking incidents the US believed were linked to China as well as disputes over the waters in East Asia. "[Obama] urged China to take concrete steps to lower tensions," the White House said. US Secretary of State John Kerry said relations were ascending, but that the hacking cases had harmed US businesses. State Councillor Yang Jiechi said China was ready to cooperate with the US on cybersecurity but urged it to respect the facts. China also pushed back against US criticism of its conduct in the South China Sea, where its building on islands to advance its territorial claims has rattled its Asian neighbours, US allies among them. Renmin University international relations expert Jin Canrong said both countries were sending different messages to their domestic and international audiences. "Both want to [say] it's common for Beijing and Washington to quarrel over some issues," Jin said. "For Beijing, it also wants to remind … countries involved in territorial disputes with China that none of them can fish in the troubled waters of the Sino-US relationship because their bilateral ties will not be affected by the South China Sea issues." ^ top ^

China derails plan for high speed railway through Thailand opting for slower option (SCMP)
2015-06-26
China has decided against a much-hyped plan to build a high-speed railway running through Thailand, and instead opted for a medium-speed alternative that can support cargo transport, Thailand's deputy prime minister said yesterday. Despite reports about issues over the project's funding and possible delays, Pridiyathorn Devakula said construction of the dual-track mid-speed system would likely start in November - although Thai authorities are still weighing funding options. The project - consisting of two lines linking southern China's Kunming city to northeast Thailand's Nong Khai - had been touted as part of Beijing's high-speed railway diplomacy to further project its economic power in the region. Until December, when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Thailand, Chinese state media still referred to the project as a high-speed railway. The decision to build a standard gauge, mid-speed line was unexpected, prompting some to describe it as a setback to China's high-speed railway ambition. Devakula said Thailand was "convinced" by China to go for slower trains. "We invited them to do high-speed [railways], but they chose to do medium speed … because they want to have cargo transport as well," he said in an interview in Hong Kong. "It's a choice of China, not a choice of Thailand." Reports said the two sides had yet to reach an agreement on funding as Thailand considers the interest rate offered by China's Export-Import (Exim) Bank too high. The former Bank of Thailand governor also denied reports Bangkok and Beijing had struck a deal to build a canal that would cut through Kra Isthmus to shorten shipping journeys. Instead, Devakula said his government was mulling a plan to build a pipeline - potentially from the southern Satun province to Song Khla province - to facilitate oil transport to East Asian countries. ^ top ^

China's President Xi Jinping to meet delegation heads at signing of AIIB articles of agreement (SCMP)
2015-06-26
President Xi Jinping is to meet delegation heads from 57 founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in Beijing on Monday for a ceremony to sign the articles of agreement. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said Premier Li Keqiang would issue written remarks for the event. The prospective members of the bank concluded discussions and finalised the articles of agreement for the AIIB after a three-day policy meeting in Singapore last month. The bank should be operational by the end of this year if the majority of members win approval from their own governments for the agreement. The establishment of the bank is part of the president's "One Belt, One Road" initiative, which is aimed at boosting trade and infrastructure links with nations stretching from Asia to Africa and Europe. But there are concerns over whether the bank should adopt strict risk assessment procedures because the developing nations that will apply for funding from it may not be able to repay the loans. European founding members of the bank are calling for the provision of supervisory seats to monitor lending to countries whose economies are in bad shape, a diplomatic source told the South China Morning Post. The countries proposed having the supervisory seats in response to concerns that some borrowers might not be capable of repaying loans and interest on time, the source said. In a commentary on the AIIB published by the official People's Daily yesterday, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said the bank's governance would be of a high standard. He added that the members would soon submit proposals for the bank's first investment projects to ensure "it could get off to a good start". China would hold the biggest share of voting rights, Indonesia's envoy to Beijing told the Post earlier this month. However, the veto power was unlikely to be used, the envoy said. Foreign news agencies have reported that the bank will require a "super majority" of at least 75 per cent of votes to approve significant issues involving its structure, membership, and capital increases. China alone will contribute US$29.78 billion to the capital base of the bank, the reports said. This meant it would hold between 25 to 30 per cent of the total votes, which would be enough to block any major decision, the reports said. ^ top ^

China issues report on U.S. human rights (Xinhua)
2015-06-26
China published a report on the United States' human rights situation on Friday. The report, titled "The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2014," was released by the Information Office of the State Council, China's cabinet, in response to "the 2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" issued by the U.S. State Department on June 25 local time. China's report states that the U.S. made comments on the human rights situations in many countries while showing not a bit of regret for or intention to improve its own terrible human rights record. "The U.S., a self-proclaimed human rights defender, saw no improvements in its existent human rights issues, but reported numerous new problems," it says. While its own human rights situation was increasingly grave, the U.S. violated human rights in other countries in a more brazen manner, and was given more "red cards" in the international human rights field, according to the report. The U.S. was haunted by spreading guns, frequent occurrence of violent crimes, which threatened citizens' civil rights. The excessive use of force by police officers led to many deaths, sparking public outcry, the report says. An unarmed 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, a town in Missouri. After the grand jury of both Missouri and New York decided to bring no charges against the white police officer, massive protests broke out in more than 170 cities nationwide, it cites cn.nytimes.com as saying. "The U.S. used cruel tortures indiscriminately, notably those carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)," it says. To acquire intelligence from suspects of terrorism and extremism, the CIA used brutal methods, such as sleep deprivation, waterboarding, long-term solitary confinement, slamming prisoners against the wall, lashing, death threat and even "rectal rehydration" or rectal feeding, according to the report. "The U.S. is a country with grim problems of racial discrimination, and institutional discrimination against ethnic minorities continued," according to the report. Serious racial bias persisted in the police and justice systems. Minority groups and indigenous people are subject to unfairness in environment, election, health care, housing, education and other fields, it says. In August 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in its concluding observation on the periodic report of the U.S. on the latter's implementation of relevant convention, slammed the U.S. for violating the rights of ethnic minorities, indigenous people, immigrants and other minority groups. Members of racial and ethnic minorities continued to be disproportionately arrested, incarcerated and subjected to harsher sentences, according to the report. "American women and children's rights were not fully protected," it says, adding that women were discriminated at workplaces, and domestic violence was prevalent. The report quotes media reports as saying that 2.1 million American women on average were assaulted by men each year. Three females were murdered by their partner each day, and four females died each day as a result of abuse. Also, "millions of American children were homeless." Three children died each day as a result of abuse. School violence and sex assaults were pervasive and gun shootings happened from time to time, it says. ^ top ^

China urges int'l community to jointly fight cyber terrorism (Xinhua)
2015-06-26
A top Chinese security official Thursday urged the international community to jointly fight against the new security threat of cyber terrorism. It is impossible for any country to fight alone against any kind of terrorist threat, said Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. Speaking at the sixth international meeting of high-ranking security representatives held in Ulan-Ude, capital of Russian's eastern Siberian Republic of Buryatia, Meng called on the international community to enhance international cooperation and exchanges in order to expand common ground and effectively fight against international terrorism. Meng said the Chinese government has carried out a series of legal measures to contain and suppress the propagation of terrorism on the Internet. Noting that international terrorism and radical extremists are currently on the rise, representatives from more than 70 countries and international organizations have agreed to strengthen international cooperation and coordination to effectively fight against newly-emerged and traditional terrorist threats. Also on Thursday, Meng and Russian representatives held the second meeting of institutionalized cooperation in law enforcement and security. As the security situations in the region and the international arena are undergoing profound changes, China and Russia have made fruitful achievements in such fields as anti-terrorism, law enforcement and security, they said. Both sides agreed to expand cooperation in law enforcement and security in order to create a peaceful and stable environment for the all-round cooperation between China and Russia. Meng also held bilateral meetings with representatives of other countries on the sidelines of the international meeting of high-ranking security representatives. ^ top ^

China, Russia vow to boost media cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-06-26
Liu Qibao, head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, met with a senior Russian official Thursday on media cooperation between China and Russia. In a meeting with Alexi Gromov, first deputy head of the Presidential Administration of Russia, Liu said his department is willing to work with the Presidential Administration of Russia on the integrated development of traditional and new media. The two sides should look to the future and aspire to innovate bilateral media cooperation based on the integration and development of new media and traditional media, so that they can have larger say in the world's mass media, said Liu, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee. As Liu was in Russia to attend a China-Russia media forum, he said the forum is a great chance for the two countries to consolidate communication and cooperation in media and other social fields. Noting that Chinese President Xi Jinping, during his visit to Russia in May, decided with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the future path of bilateral relations, Liu expressed the hope that his visit and participation in the media forum could help further implement the consensus reached in the fields of media cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. For his part, Gromov hailed the unprecedented high-level relationship between Russia and China. Frequent meetings of the two countries' leaders helped expand the fields of cooperation, Gromov said, adding that he believes the Russia-China media forum will usher in a new chapter of the two countries' media cooperation. ^ top ^

300 deals reached at China-US dialogue (Global Times)
2015-06-26
The nearly 300 economic and strategic agreements reached between China and the US during the high-level summit in Washington, DC on Wednesday reflect the multifaceted and progressive nature of Sino-US relations amid concerns over strained ties and security issues, said analysts. Among the agreements was a new "negative list" with updated items to be released in early September after President Xi Jinping's upcoming September visit to the US. The list outlines sectors closed to foreign investment, and are part of the negotiations on a Bilateral Investment Treaty already seven years in the making. Agreements reached in this year's Seventh China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) and the Sixth China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange included some 70 items covering economic cooperation, more than 100 on the strategic track, and 119 on cultural exchanges. Speaking at the closing ceremony, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said that during the two-day S&ED talks, the two sides conducted "candid and in-depth exchanges." Both sides discussed how to build a new type of major-country relationship, and to enhance cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region as well as globally, he said. "The number of outcome items and the variety of areas they covered reflect the complexity and multifaceted nature of Sino-US relations, and proves the economic and strategic interdependence of the two countries," Zha Xiaogang, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times. The 'rule-maker' The "negative list" to be reached between the world's two biggest economies has shown that the two countries are forming the core of the new model of major-country relationships, Zha noted, adding that China has evolved from being the "rule-abider" to "rule-maker" in influencing the course of international trade. The two countries pledged to expand cooperation on the landmark agreement on combating climate change reached during Xi's meeting with US President Barack Obama in November 2014, including a five-year extension of the Clean Energy Research Center. New cooperation areas were also discussed for the first time as officials from both countries held a special session on ocean protection under the framework of the dialogue, involving measures to promote maritime research, development, maintenance and protection, to expand cooperation between maritime enforcement agencies from both countries, and to combat illegal and unregulated fishing, among others. The S&ED came at a time of heightened concerns that bilateral ties may have been strained over issues like the South China Sea and the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Zha believes the meeting has offered a platform of communication in clearing up mistrust and misunderstandings so as to prevent the deterioration of bilateral relations. "In areas like climate change, where there is no established order or predominant forces, the two countries can enjoy more space in exploring the rules and mode of cooperation under common interest," noted Zha. For his part, US Treasury secretary Jacob Lew said the US would keep pressing China to move to a market-determined exchange rate, even after Beijing's commitment at the talks to intervene in currency markets only in "disorderly market conditions," reported Reuters. Fundamental issues Meanwhile, experts believe concerns over issues with fundamental differences remain, and that "expecting them to be solved in a two-day meeting is an unrealistic expectation." US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US remained "deeply concerned" about cyber incursions, and that the country has "a strong national interest" in freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi said the two countries should work together on cyber security and called on Washington to be "impartial and objective" when it comes to the South China Sea. "The growing number of agreements this year has proven that the mechanism of the dialogue has matured over the last seven years of development. The meeting this year is also critical in paving the way for Xi's upcoming talk with Obama in which more important and concrete results will be announced," Liu Weidong, an expert on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. But he said long-term differences cannot be solved overnight, as "the purpose of this meeting serves more to seek consensus than to resolve conflicts." "But the meeting is still critical in showing the two countries' active and open attitude," he said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China's unsafe drinking water afflicts 'millions with disease' (SCMP)
2015-06-23
Tens of millions of mainlanders are being poisoned by unsafe levels of fluoride and arsenic in drinking water, despite decades of official efforts to improve supplies, state media say. Elevated fluoride levels were found in the water in more than 1,000 counties across the country at the end of 2013, Oriental Outlook, a magazine affiliated with Xinhua, on Monday quoted a Centre for Disease Control and Prevention expert as saying. Nearly 21 million people suffered diseases caused by excessive exposure, such as skeletal fluorosis - a painful condition that affects bones and joints and which can cripple in severe cases, according to Gao Yanhui, an expert at the centre's National Centre for Endemic Disease Control. Gao said 87 million people were at risk nationwide. The worst-hit areas were in the northern plains, with Henan province the most acutely affected, Gao said. Arsenic poisoning was another concern, with about 600,000 people in 131 counties in about half of the mainland's provinces affected, the report said. Long-term exposure can cause skin problems and lung, bladder, skin and kidney cancer. Excessive iodine intake due to poor drinking water had put 30 million people at risk of goitre, a figure little changed from a decade ago, when nationwide research put the number at 30.98 million. The central government had spent hundreds of billions of yuan over the past decade on improving drinking water in rural areas, but local governments were still short of funds to continue the work, the report said. It pointed to a project to improve well water in Qianan county in Jilin province. A third of the 590,000 yuan (HK$746,000) spent so far had come from the central government, it cited a project management report as saying. Provincial authorities came up with about 37 per cent, while the public covered the remainder. "The serious endemic areas are mostly poverty-stricken areas, where local governments are unable to carry out [work on] prevention and control of endemic diseases," Gao said. "They can only rely on funds from higher levels [of government] for water improvement projects" and the residents were too poor to come up with the financing themselves, Gao said. Another expert in endemic-disease control said water-quality projects often involved a range of government departments, which made efficient management more difficult. Under the existing system, health authorities cannot take the initiative in the projects, while the Ministry of Water Resources - which is responsible for site selection and construction of the projects - lacked geological expertise. "The water resources departments do not have a grasp of the quality of water, and the wells they drill are often substandard," he was quoted as saying. The report did not specify concentration levels for either fluoride or arsenic, but the national standard for fluoride in large-scale centralised supplies is 1mg per litre. The level recommended by the World Health Organisation is 1.5mg/litre. ^ top ^

Is there life in the old dog-eating festival? Chinese activists increasing efforts to stop the trade (SCMP)
2015-06-23
The city of Yulin, notorious for its annual dog meat festival that celebrates the summer solstice, appeared calm on Monday - in contrast to the previous two events, at which animal rights activists clashed with festivalgoers. Dog meat vendors in the city's wet markets kept a low profile, with local authorities ordering them to cover their stall fronts with iron sheets and serve customers through small windows. This was to avoid stoking arguments between the vendors and animal rights activists who had arrived from across the country to protest, according to one activist, "Xijing", who had come from Shaanxi. Local officials had also blocked the road to Dongkou market, one of the city's biggest wet markets, for a short period while reporters were shown around, the activist said. An activist from Guangdong said little had improved - slaughterhouses were merely more hidden, while local government and residents remained hostile to the activists. "Volunteers were harassed, but police ignored our reports," she said. Days earlier, activists from across the country had started to flood into the small city in Guangxi province, to protest against the festival, which kills and serves up thousands of dogs every year. Keeping dogs as pets was once seen as a decadent bourgeois habit, but the practice has become increasingly popular with the Chinese mainland's growing middle class, who are increasing efforts to stop the dog meat trade. Activists from Beijing, Tianjin, Liaoning, Hebei, Henan and Shaanxi gathered in front of the local government headquarters and unfurled banners, before being hustled away. Adam Parascandola, a senior activist from Humane Society International who has spent 20 years protecting animal rights in the United States, said the movement against dog meat made him "hopeful" for an end to the Yulin festival and ultimately a ban on dog meat. "Dogs are treated cruelly, but we see how organised and passionate the activists are," he said. "They are really brave for what they believe in, and this movement against dog meat eating is a movement from within China." ^ top ^

Typhoon Kujira makes landfall in south China (Xinhua)
2015-06-23
Typhoon Kujira, the eighth typhoon of 2015,made landfall in south China's Hainan Province on Monday evening, bringing heavy rain to the drought-hit island. The storm landed in the coastal city of Wanning at 6:50 p.m., packing winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour, said the Hainan Meteorological Service. Kujira weakened into a tropical storm about one hour after its landfall in Hainan. It moved northwestward at a speed of 15 km per hour, with winds of up to 72 km per hour. It is forecast to reach the Beibu Gulf in the wee hours on Tuesday. The island province has evacuated more than 40,000 people, and over 20,000 fishing boats in the province have been called back to harbor. By 7:30 p.m. Monday, 63 flights were canceled at the Meilan International Airport in Haikou, the provincial capital. The Sanya Phoenix International Airport canceled 99 flights, affecting the travel plans of 11,000 passengers. Shipping services and passenger trains on the Qiongzhou Strait, which connects Hainan and Guangdong, were suspended on Monday. High-speed trains between Haikou and Sanya were also halted at 6 p.m. Monday, said railway authorities. All elementary and middle schools in Haikou City will be closed on Tuesday, according to the local government. Strong gales and heavy rains hit the northern, central and eastern parts of the island on Monday, with the precipitation ranging from 50 mm to 150 mm. The rainy weather will continue until Tuesday. "The typhoon did not cause heavy losses as the evacuation was carried out in advance," said Wu Yunfeng, Communist Party chief of Hele Town, where Kujira landed. The timely rain is expected to help ease a prolonged severe drought which has affected 30 percent of the tropical island, causing drinking water shortage for 130,000 people and 119 small reservoirs to dry up. Sanya, a popular tropical tourist destination, was hit by the worst drought since it began meteorological records in 1959. The city's precipitation since May was 90 percent less than normal years. Between 8 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Monday, heavy rains swept the middle area of Sanya with the biggest precipitation of 57 mm, said Ke Weiyao, head of the Sanya Meteorological Bureau. It is forecast the continuous rainfall will alleviate Sanya's drought, he said. Kujira is the first typhoon to hit China this year. It was formed in the South China Sea on Sunday. The National Meteorological Center on Monday afternoon issued a yellow alert for Typhoon Kujira. It forecast storms will hit Sichuan, Shaanxi, Henan, Jiangsu, Anhui and Gansu provinces from Monday to Wednesday. ^ top ^

China unveils plans for V-Day parade (Xinhua)
2015-06-23
China on Tuesday announced plans for this year's celebration of the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War II, including inviting militaries of other countries to participate in a parade on Sept. 3. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, will attend the event and deliver an important speech, an official said at a press conference on Tuesday. At the event, Xi will award medals to veterans and generals who participated in the war and family dependents of the deceased. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. It will be the first time for the country to hold a special parade to commemorate the victory. Japan signed the formal surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, and China celebrated its victory the following day. September 3 was declared Victory Day. ^ top ^

Excess drugs in food, water showing up in rivers, kids' urine (Global Times)
2015-06-23
For years, China has been plagued by the overuse of antibiotics. According to a British economist, China suffers 1 million deaths a year from antibiotic-resistant infections, representing an economic loss of $20 trillion by 2050, AFP reported. Last week, the first ever report outlining the emissions of the world's largest user and producer of antibiotics was released to Chinese media. The report, titled Comprehensive Evaluation of Antibiotics Emission and Fate in the River Basins of China: Source Analysis, Multimedia Modeling, and Linkage to Bacterial Resistance, was published in the US journal Environmental Science and Technology in May. Researchers at the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry based the study on 10 years of field research into China's major rivers. The report found that the total antibiotic usage in China was estimated to be 162,000 tons in 2013, accounting for half of the total usage in the world. Human consumption accounted for about 48 percent, and domestic animals mainly consumed the rest. The average emission densities of antibiotics in East and South China were more than six times higher than those in West China. "The report provides comprehensive data for policymakers in environmental protection, drug administration and health authorities, to help them to control the use of antibiotics. It details the usage and pollution level of different antibiotics," Ying Guangguo, a professor in environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology and head of the research team, told the Global Times. The report studied 36 frequently detected antibiotics in China. The usage for the 36 chemicals was 92,700 tons in 2013. About 53,800 tons entered into rivers. Some 54,000 tons were excreted by humans and animals. Research into China's major rivers found that Dongting Lake in central China received the largest discharge of antibiotics, with a total of 3,440 tons. The Senge Zangbu River located in the west part of Tibet received the lowest antibiotics discharge of 1.18 tons. The Yellow River, Huaihe River and Yangtze River downstream basins received more than 3,000 tons in 2013. Among the 36 antibiotics, amoxicillin, florfenicol, lincomycin, penicillin, and norfloxacin were the top five used in China. Amoxicillin had the largest usage for both humans and animals, the report found. The use of antibiotics in hospitals in developed countries accounts for 10 percent of total prescriptions, but the share in China is up to 50 percent, Xiao Yonghong, deputy director with Institute of Clinical Pharmacology Peking University, told sohu.com. "Apart from overuse in Chinese hospitals, antibiotics are widely used in livestock to lower a risk of illness," Ying said. After use, these antibiotics end up in rivers and fields through wastewater, and then would return to human bodies through aquatic and agricultural products, which form a vicious circle, Ying said. Previous studies have also linked antibiotics exposure to the contaminated environment. A Fudan University study, published in April, found that Chinese children are frequently exposed to antibiotics found in their environment and food, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Researchers tested 1,064 children aged 8 to 11 in Shanghai and Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces for 18 antibiotics, and found that antibiotics were detected in roughly 60 percent of the children's urine. "Taking excessive antibiotics could lead to antibiotics resistance, and pose a great threat to the treatment efficacy of patients with bacteria-related infections," Ying said. The World Health Organization released its first global report on antibiotics resistance in 2014, which said that antibiotic resistance - when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them - is now a major threat to public health. It causes people to be sick for longer and increases the risk of death. A total of 300,000 children in China become deaf through overuse of antibiotics, accounting for 30 to 40 percent of total deaf children, Zhou Xiaoqing, an expert with the Chinese Pharmaceutical Association, told the Global Times [… ]. ^ top ^

40,000 evacuated (Global Times)
2015-06-23
South China's Hainan Province has evacuated more than 40,000 people as the eighth typhoon of 2015, Kujira, is expected to land in southern China on Monday night. More than 20,000 fishing boats in the province were called back to harbor. All elementary and high schools in the provincial capital of Haikou will be closed on Tuesday, according to the local government. The National Meteorological Center on Sunday afternoon issued a blue alert, the lowest level in its four-tier warning system, for Typhoon Kujira. Kujira will be the first typhoon to hit China this year. It formed in the South China Sea on Sunday, and is moving at about 10 kilometers per hour. ^ top ^

China to tighten controls on news commentary TV show hosts and guests (SCMP)
2015-06-24
Mainland authorities say they will tighten controls on TV hosts and guests, and prohibit the use of guest hosts, from July. Many social media users complained yesterday that their favourite dating and singing competitions would suffer, though experts said the true targets of the move were news commentary and talk shows. The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television issued a circular on Monday stating that TV shows should not recruit guests as supporting hosts. The circular added that the administration would “strengthen the education and management of hosts and guests”. “News commentary shows will soon be affected,” said Hong Kong-based political commentator Johnny Lau. “News shows are recorded, so they are already under close inspection. But news commentary shows will likely undergo self-censorship.” Scholars said the announcement was not surprising given President Xi Jinping's tough stance on media. “There has been a consistent policy to tighten media controls on the net as well as off the net. There has been quite a crackdown, even compared to [Xi's] predecessors,” said To Yiu Ming, professor of journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University. TV hosts in China must attain certain qualifications, but the rule does not cover guest hosts, according to a report by China News Service. Many TV programmes invite celebrities or artists to be guest hosts, a practice that could result in improper remarks during live broadcasts, the report said. ^ top ^

14 gangs busted for smuggling frozen meat (China Daily)
2015-06-24
Fourteen gangs involved in the smuggling of frozen meat products that pose huge health risks have been hunted down and the products seized in a recent crackdown, the General Administration of Customs said. Customs officials sealed more than 100,000 metric tons of smuggled frozen meat worth up to 3 billion yuan ($483 million), including frozen chicken wings, beef and pork, the administration said. The crackdown took place in June in 14 provinces and regions. The Changsha Administration of Customs in Hunan province broke up two gangs with 20 members suspected of smuggling frozen meat products on June 1 and seized 800 tons of products worth more than 10 million yuan. It is the largest case involving smuggled frozen meat products in the province's history. "The products fully filled an entire compartment. It was smelly, and I nearly threw up when I opened the door," said Zhang Tao, an administration official. According to Yang Bo, deputy director of the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of the Changsha Administration of Customs, smuggled meat products are not inspected, and this is unsafe because people may get life-threatening illnesses if they eat products that have bacteria and viruses such as bird flu or foot-and-mouth disease. Yang said another problem with smuggled meat is that much of it has expired. Officers from the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region's Administration of Customs found that some of the confiscated smuggled frozen meat is far older than the given expiration dates suggest, with some being more than 40 years old. Experts say that as long as frozen meat shows no signs of thawing, customers can't tell fresh meat from bad meat that is decades old. When smuggled meat is moved under poor conditions or repeatedly thawed-or even refrozen after the meat has already gone bad-the threat it poses will be especially serious. Changsha customs said that high profits have already spurred the creation of an extensive supply chain. Smugglers generally purchase meat for very low prices from foreign countries, and then have it delivered to Hong Kong in refrigerated containers. The products will then be moved to the mainland via Vietnam, with smugglers hiring residents of border areas to move the products to Chinese border cities and then on to Changsha before the products are transported to sites around the country. "To save costs, smugglers often hire ordinary vehicles instead of refrigerated ones. So the meat has often thawed out several times before reaching customers," said Yang, deputy director of the anti-smuggling bureau. The boom in sales of agricultural products on Internet platforms also assists smugglers. Experts called for the establishment of a nationwide supervision network and enhanced controls in border regions to prevent the products from entering China. ^ top ^

China unveils plans for Victory Day parade (China Daily)
2015-06-24
China on Tuesday announced plans for this year's celebration of the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War II, and invited militaries of other countries to participate in a parade at Tian'anmen Square in Beijing on September 3. "It's the first time that foreign troops have been invited to participate. We hope through this year's military parade, history and the future can be connected, China and the world can be connected and the message of peace and development can be sent,” said Qu Rui, deputy director of parade steering group office, at a press conference on Tuesday. It will be China's first parade to mark the victory, with foreign troops and domestic model troops, including the Eighth Route Army, the New Forth Army and the Southern China guerrilla, participating in the parade for the first time, said Qu. To show respect to those who participated and supported the war, the parade will also invite veterans and their descendants. Other Chinese contingent will be made up of soldiers selected from China's seven military regions, navy, air force, the Second Artillery Force of the People's Liberation Army and People's Armed Police, Qu said, adding that a lot of the military equipment will also be displayed for the first time during the parade. Qu said to save time and be efficient, all troops taking part in the parade will receive extensive training three months prior to the parade in the autumn, and they have been gathered at bases and some nearby airfields in Beijing for training. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, will attend the event and deliver a speech. At the event, Xi will award medals to veterans and generals who participated in the war and family dependents of the deceased. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. Japan signed the formal surrender on September 2, 1945, and China celebrated its victory the following day. September 3 was declared Victory Day. ^ top ^

Senior Inner Mongolia official removed from post (Xinhua)
2015-06-24
Han Zhiran, vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region Committee, has been removed from office for "serious discipline violations", the regional CPPCC committee announced on Tuesday. The Standing Committee meeting of the CPPCC National Committee removed Han from the CPPCC National Committee on Wednesday. ^ top ^

China to widen draft security law to cover space, sea and polar interests (SCMP)
2015-06-25
China will add its assets and activities in space, the deep sea and polar regions to its pending national security law, state media said on Wednesday, the latest changes to the sweeping and controversial draft legislation. President Xi Jinping, who heads a new national security commission, has said China's security covered a wide array of areas, including politics, culture, the military, the economy, technology and the environment. But foreign business groups and diplomats have argued that the draft national security law, which could be adopted after a third reading over the next week by China's top legislative committee, was too broad and vague. "Harmful moral standards", for example, would also be handled under the law, state media said after its second reading in April the National People's Congress Standing Committee. China would "peacefully explore and exploit" space, international seabeds and polar regions, and strengthen the security of "activities, assets and other interests" there, the official news agency Xinhua said. It is unclear what the wording of the final law would cover. China insists that its space programme is for peaceful purposes. But the US Defence Department has highlighted its increasing space capabilities, saying it is pursuing aims to keep adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis. China has also sought to become more active in the polar regions, where it claims important research and energy interests. In a separate report, Xinhua said legislators would also review a new draft cybersecurity law. ^ top ^

At least 18 dead in Uygur attack in China's Xinjiang region, says US-based Radio Free Asia (SCMP)
2015-06-25
Ethnic Uygurs attacked police with knives and bombs at a traffic checkpoint in Xinjiang, Radio Free Asia said on Wednesday, with at least 18 people being killed in the attack and police response. The attack occurred at the beginning of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on Monday in the southern city of Kashgar, where tensions between Muslim Uygurs who call the region home and the majority Han Chinese have led to bloodshed in recent years. Hundreds have been killed in violence across the region, blamed by Beijing on Islamist militants. Suspects killed several police officers with knives and bombs after speeding through a traffic checkpoint in a car in Kashgar's Tahtakoruk district, US-based Radio Free Asia said, citing Turghun Memet, an officer at a nearby police station. Armed police responded to the attack and killed 15 suspects "designated as terrorists", Radio Free Asia cited Memet as saying. It said in all between 18 and 28 people were killed, including several bystanders, but that police estimates of the toll varied. Such incidents are often reported in overseas media but not confirmed by Beijing until days later, if ever. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he could not immediately verify the report. "But if it is correct, then the Chinese government has the responsibility to take resolute steps to stop these kinds of violent terror acts, to maintain peace and stability in Xinjiang," Lu said. Kashgar is a frequent scene of unrest. Last year the government blamed Islamist militants for the murder of the imam of China's biggest mosque. Ramadan is a sensitive time. State media and Xinjiang government websites have published official notices again this year demanding Communist Party members, civil servants, students and teachers in particular do not observe Ramadan or fast. Exiled Uygur groups and human rights activists say repressive government policies in Xinjiang, including controls on Islam and Uygur culture, have provoked unrest, a claim that Beijing denies. Last week, a county in southern Xinjiang held a beer festival in what an exiled group called a provocation, as Muslims are not supposed to drink alcohol. The Communist Party says it protects freedom of religion. But it keeps a grip on religious activities and allows only officially recognised institutions to operate. China has around 20 million Muslims, only a portion of whom are Uygur. ^ top ^

Chinese officials to pledge allegiance to Constitution (Global Times)
2015-06-25
Chinese officials, will pledge allegiance to the Constitution when assuming office, according to a draft legal document submitted to China's top legislature Wednesday for deliberation.All officials elected or appointed by people's congresses and their standing committees at both national and local levels, as well as state functionaries appointed by people's governments, courts and procuratorates at all levels should, in the future, take a public oath of allegiance to the Constitution while assuming office, said the draft. While explaining the draft, Han Xiaowu, deputy secretary-general of the 12th NPC Standing Committee said on Wednesday that as the Constitution is the basic law of the country with supreme legal status, authorities, forces, state functionaries must have constitutional awareness, observe constitutional principles, uphold the constitutional spirit and perform their constitutional obligations. "Establishing a system of pledging allegiance to the Constitution through legislation is of profound significance to ensuring loyalty to the Constitution in state functionaries, by observing and safeguarding the Constitution," he said. According to the draft, after they are elected or appointed, state personnel must swear the oath. This includes the president, vice president; chairman, vice chairpersons, secretary-general, all members of NPC Standing Committee; premier, vice premiers, state councilors, ministers, the governor of the People's Bank of China, auditor general of the National Audit Office; chairman, vice chairmen and members of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the People's Republic of China; heads of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate. When state functionaries read the pledge, the right hand should be raised and formed into a fist, and the national flag and emblem should be hung in the hall where the ceremony is held. The oath reads: "I pledge to uphold the Constitution of the PRC, safeguard the Constitution authority, perform obligations given by the Constitution, be committed and honest when performing duties, be allegiant to the country and people, accept supervision and work hard for the great cause of the socialism with Chinese characteristics," according to the draft. Of the 193 countries that have written Constitutions, 177 have stipulated rules on pledging allegiance to the Constitution by state functionaries. The fourth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee decided to establish a system of pledging allegiance to the Constitution in October 2014. The current Constitution was adopted on Dec. 4, 1982, based on the 1954 version. Dec. 4 is China's Constitution Day, which aims to increase awareness of the Constitution. The 15th session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, China's top legislature, began Wednesday afternoon. ^ top ^

One woman's fight against dog eaters (Global Times)
2015-06-25
Yang Xiaoyun, a dog lover from Tianjin, once again created a stir on her arrival in Yulin, the host city of the annual dog meat festival in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Many dog sellers surrounded the 65-year-old woman, scrambling to peddle their dogs to her. During the last festival, Yang, a retired teacher who runs an animal shelter in Tianjin, paid 150,000 yuan ($24,000) for nearly 360 dogs and dozens of cats and saved them from being slaughtered. Since then, she has become famous in Yulin, and many vendors called her ahead of the festival to sell her their animals. This year, due to wide opposition to the festival, the customers in Yulin have become fewer and business has declined. Many dog vendors think selling their dogs to Yang is a good option. Yang also changed her strategy. She chose to pay by weight, instead of by the dog. On June 20, she spent 7,000 yuan for about 30 dogs and 70 cats. She has also realized that setting up banners and holding demonstrations to stop eating dog meat are not effective methods. "I want to spread people's love to dogs by building dog shelters and opening vegetarian restaurants here," Yang said. However, her plan to build a foster home for dogs in Yulin was rejected by local authorities, and she set up a temporary shelter alongside a remote road. Next she will transport the animals back to Tianjin. Since 1995 when her husband passed away, Yang started to adopt homeless dogs. So far, she has raised more than 3,000 dogs in her shelter. To collect money, she sold the house that had been designated for her son to live in after he married. She always appears at major dog rescue activities. Many volunteers support her with donations. But her efforts have also met with controversy. Some animal welfare activists worry that the purchase of the dogs at high prices would encourage some people to make profit by stealing and selling dogs to her. Yang has become more and more vital to the adopted dogs. "The dogs can't live without me. As long as I am alive, I will take good care of them," she said. She has also made arrangements for after her death. Her insistence on animal welfare finally touched the heart of her son, who at first firmly opposed what she was doing. Now her son and daughter-in-law are both involved in raising her dogs. Yang trusts that her son will be her successor and care for the dogs until their last days, and continue her mission of rescuing more dogs. ^ top ^

Landslide causes fishing boats to sink in SW China (Global Times)
2015-06-25
Huge waves triggered by a massive landslide caused fishing and transport boats to capsize on Wednesday evening in a river in Chongqing Municipality, Southwest China. The landslide occurred at 6:40 p.m. on the northern bank of the Daning River, a tributary of the Yangtze River, in Wushan County. Strong waves caused a number of fishing and farming vessels anchored on the southern bank to capsize and broke the anchorage cables of other ships, said an official with the Yangtze River Navigational Affairs Administration. The number of casualties is unknown. Six maritime patrol vessels and a number of salvage ships have been despatched to aid rescue efforts, according to the administration, which is based in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province. Maritime authorities have imposed temporary traffic control measures on waters around the area. ^ top ^

Child traffickers face tougher penalties (China Daily)
2015-06-25
Human traffickers are likely to face tougher penalties, and the list of punishable terrorist activities is set to be expanded, under proposed revisions to the Criminal Law that have been advanced to a second reading by legislators. The ninth draft amendment to the Criminal Law was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Wednesday for further deliberation at the legislature's bimonthly session. The revision to the provision concerning child trafficking aims to increase penalties for those who buy children. Under the modified provision, anyone buying a child would not be able to claim immunity from punishment, but buyers would receive a less severe penalty if they did not abuse the child or attempt to hinder rescue efforts. The amendment represents a big shift from the current situation. Currently, those who buy children are likely to be exempt from all criminal liability. Police rescued more than 13,000 abducted children last year. Nearly an equal number of people involved in human trafficking were punished from 2010 to last year, according to the Supreme People's Court, and more than half received sentences ranging from at least five years in prison to death. More than a dozen deputies to the National People's Congress supported the proposal to increase penalties for buyers to curb the demand for trafficked children. The Ministry of Public Security suggested removing from the Criminal Law the item granting buyers an exemption. The draft amendment contains an expanded list of activities defined as terrorism, a response to nationwide calls for action to combat the problem. The draft says those financing training programs for terrorists should face more than five years in prison in addition to financial penalties and the confiscation of property. Under the current law, these punishments are applied only to those funding terrorist organizations or who perform terrorist activities. Those recruiting and transporting personnel for terrorist organizations, terrorist activities and training programs will face more than five years in prison in serious cases if the draft becomes law. Those who prepare equipment or materials for terrorists or who organize or take part in terrorist training programs should face more than five years in prison in serious cases, the amendment says. The same punishment should be given to nationals who contact overseas terrorist organizations or personnel and to those who plan acts of terror. Additionally, the draft says driving under the influence of drugs should become a punishable offense, with those found guilty having their licenses revoked. Under the current law, a driver who uses drugs is immune from criminal punishment if he or she does not cause an accident. The draft amendment was published in November, and 51,000 suggestions concerning its provisions were received from 15,000 individuals as of Dec 3. ^ top ^

Pollution goals to get rigorous assessments (China Daily)
2015-06-25
China will strengthen supervision of the government's air pollution control efforts and require the timely release of city assessment data, according to the second draft of new regulations. Only 16 of the country's 161 major cities reached the national standards on air quality last year, statistics from the Ministry of Environmental Protection show. The standards require cities to improve assessments of their performance on air pollution and strengthen the role of assessments in achieving short-term pollution abatement goals, according to a report by the legal committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislative body. The draft amendment to the Air Pollution Law, sent to the NPC Standing Committee for a second reading on Wednesday, said the central government will conduct assessments of provincial level governments and those bodies, in turn, will assess their cities and release the results to the public in a timely manner, said Sun Baoshu, deputy head of the committee. City governments must annually report their results in reaching their short-term goals to the local people's congress, an extra step from previous years, the second draft noted. The ministry suspended five cities that failed the environmental assessment process, the first step required for governments to launch projects, after they didn't reach their goals last year, said Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection. As the leading regulation to curb air pollution, the Law on Air Pollution Control and Prevention contains comprehensive measures targeting various sources of contaminants. Exhaust from vessels and vehicles face tougher restrictions in the draft, and ships and vessels will be required to use standard diesel fuel in an effort to cut emissions. China is home to eight of the world's 10 largest ports in terms of cargo handling capacity, and they contribute significantly to pollution in coastal regions, said Xiong Yuehui, head of scientific standards on emissions at the ministry. In 2013, more than 8 percent of the national sulfur dioxide emissions and more than 11 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions, both major airborne pollutants, were from vessels' exhaust, he said. According to the draft, vessels at berth should operate on land-based power provided by the ports. Ports, both new and existing, must be equipped with such power facilities, it said. To cope with the increasing number of vehicles, local governments may impose driving restrictions to lower air pollution, but they must first solicit public opinion, the draft said. ^ top ^

China's government auditors uncover massive misuse of revenue from national lottery ticket sales (SCMP)
2015-06-26
China's government auditor has uncovered systematic and widespread misuse of state lottery funds, across the country, after it found irregularities in about a quarter of the funds it examined. Questions have been raised about the use of 16.9 billion yuan (HK$21 billion), or 25 per cent of its audited public lottery fund in 18 provinces, including fabricated financial records, misappropriation and even the operation of illegal betting branches, the National Audit Office said. Its comments were carried in a report released after the month-long inspection carried out in mid-November and December across the nation. China has two official nationwide lotteries, overseen by the Ministry of Finance. One, set up by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, raises funds for social welfare projects, while the other, organised by the General Administration of Sport, helps fund sports development. Lottery sales have surged more than threefold from 100 billion yuan in 2007 to 320 billion yuan in 2013. Of total sales, 58 per cent goes to prizes, 14 per cent to distribution expenses and 28 per cent to the social welfare, sports and community charity projects that benefit the elderly, disabled and impoverished. According to the report, 65.8 billion yuan of the total lottery sales in the 18 provinces, from 2012 to last October, was sampled for auditing. Of this amount, auditors found more than one in every four dollars of revenue had been misused. Irregularities included 4.3 billion yuan of fabricated financial records, embezzlement and misappropriation of lottery funds, and 9 billion of procurement irregularities and off-the-books accounting. Also included was more than three billion yuan of irregular acquisition of halls and buildings as well as subsidies and expenses for official cars, travel and entertainment. Some lottery agency employees, distributors and civil servants were suspected of economic crimes or of operating illegal betting stations for profit. Other findings included unauthorised online lottery ticket sales, or lottery funds that were spent inefficiently or not at all. The audit report called for strict monitoring of lottery operators and holding lottery managers accountable. According to the report, the audit uncovered more than 90 leads of severe discipline violations, mostly concerning lottery ticket sales and the use of funds, which are being investigated. Several days ago, the online People's Daily cited researchers from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in an unrelated project, as saying that 64 billion yuan out of 104 billion yuan of lottery money had disappeared, raising suspicions of severe corruption in lottery management. ^ top ^

CPC issues document to improve democratic work (Xinhua)
2015-06-26
The general office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Thursday published a document on consultative democracy work. According to the document on strengthening the consultative democracy of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a consultation system will be established involving the CPC, government and CPPCC organizations for certain major issues. Also, if necessary, senior political advisors may be invited to attend meetings of the CPC or governmental authorities on key issues and such authorities should also keep political advisors properly informed to facilitate their work. The document called for intensified efforts by the CPPCC when carrying out democratic supervision. Political advisors should also keep in close contact with the Party and governmental supervisory departments as well as news media. The document said that CPPCC plenary sessions, special symposiums, regular biweekly consultation meetings, among others, needed to be further expanded and improved. Also, the rights and duties of CPPCC members should be made clearer and stricter management will be conducted to ensure members properly practice their duties. The document pledged to enhance the consultation capability of the political advisory body with efforts to promote advisors' political identity, teamwork and competence when conducting research, and ability to listen to and collect public opinions. It also stressed the role of the CPC's leadership and the public's support to promoting the CPPCC's democratic role. The document said socialist consultative democracy was a great creation of the CPC and the Chinese people, and the CPPCC system was an important component of it. "Efforts to improve CPPCC consultative democracy work must adhere to the leadership of the CPC, the development path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the provisions of the Constitution and the CPPCC Charter," it said. ^ top ^

No rest until sweeping victory against drugs, Xi says (China Daily)
2015-06-26
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for more comprehensive and coordinated efforts to combat drugs, vowing that there would be "no rest until a sweeping victory". Xi made the remarks Thursday when meeting groups and individuals who were being honored for their outstanding contributions to the antidrug cause, ahead of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which falls on Friday. During the meeting, Xi expressed respect and thanks to police, workers and volunteers. Premier Li Keqiang also attended the meeting. "Drugs are a menace for society and a significant issue concerning public security. They severely harm health, corrupt will, destroy families, consume wealth, poison society, pollute the social environment, and lead to other crimes," Xi said, underlining that there was a "very arduous" task ahead. "The antidrug work concerns security, prosperity and people's well-being, and a firm opposition to drugs is the routine standpoint of the Party and the government," Xi said, urging all departments to tackle the problem and carry out more effective and resolute measures. Xi said the Communist Party of China (CPC) was confident that it could effectively win the fight against drugs, while underscoring that the campaign mattered to the nation's great rejuvenation. He said the fight required a steadfast mind and solid work and called on all Party and governmental authorities at all levels to strengthen their work in this regard. Also, he called on members of society to support the work. Antidrug awareness should be promoted among people from a younger age, and the education and prevention of drug-related offenses should also be given greater attention, Xi said, calling for efforts to promote healthy lifestyles. A total of 100 model groups, and 100 model individuals received awards for their excellent work. Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun attended the ceremony and outstanding police officers and volunteers gave speeches at the event. ^ top ^

Lawyer in student poison case hands in 7 petitions (China Daily)
2015-06-26
The new lawyer for Lin Senhao, a former university student who was convicted of killing his roommate with poison, handed seven petitions to the nation's highest court on Thursday after the court started reviewing his death sentence. The petitions included requests for holding public hearings during the death sentence review, transferring Lin to a detention center out of Shanghai, and reinvestigating the cause of death. Lin, 29, a former medical student at Fudan University in Shanghai, was sentenced to death in February 2014 for the murder of his roommate and classmate Huang Yang, who died of liver, kidney and lung failure more than two weeks after falling ill. In December, the second trial of the case upheld the death sentence against Lin and the Supreme People's Court started to review the death penalty in May. In the petitions, Xie Tongxiang, Lin's new lawyer, cited some liver disease and legal medical experts and said that Huang died of acute liver disease, rather than poisoning. Xie said the Supreme Court had accepted his petition letters. "It will take them some time to review the letters in the following several days," he said. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Luxembourg scholar explodes myths about Tibet independence (Global Times)
2015-06-26
Germany-based Zambon press has published two books from Luxembourg scholar Albert Ettinger about Tibet - Free Tibet? State, society, and ideology in the real existing Lamaism in September 2014 and Fight for Tibet: history, background and perspectives on an international conflict in March, which have been well received in countries like Germany and Switzerland. In an exclusive interview with the Global Times (GT) on Sunday, Ettinger said his books aim to show readers the real Tibet. GT: As a history major, when did you begin to study the comparison of new and old Tibet, as well as the "fight for Tibet" by the international community? Why did you decide to write the two books? Ettinger: I noticed a book on Tibet in Germany a few years ago, which was sheer propaganda about the Dalai Lama. I was angry to see the Dalai Lama and his disciples trying to poison the minds of youngsters and demonize China. My underlying motivation for writing the two books is my profession as a teacher. I have always believed that the foremost task of a teacher is to help students develop independent and critical thinking skills, and probe into the truth, including suspicion of unreasonable doctrines, so-called sages and saints. GT: Numerous pictures that compare drastic changes in Tibet are used to illustrate the two books. What lies of Tibetan separatists have been exposed through your book? Ettinger: I didn't know where to start. Those lies involve every aspect of new and old Tibet - social and living conditions, the religion and certain historical events. Those stories have different sources, so the Tibetan government-in-exile internalized the myths that already prevailed in Europe. Those lies were made up by the Dalai Lama and his henchmen. For example, ethnic Tibetans existed as an independent group since 127 BC; Tibetans used to live happily and peacefully; they did not need an army or police; China annexed Tibet by military force in 1951; the agreement between the central government and the local government of Tibet for the peaceful liberation of Tibet was forged in 1951; the Dalai Lama fled from Tibet to avoid his pending abduction or murder; neither he nor his brothers were funded by the US; "Tibetan resistance" is non-violent; China attempted to make the Tibetan culture and language perish; China wanted to exterminate the Tibetan people; the sole goal of the Tibetan government-in-exile is to achieve "real autonomy." My books also cited some subtle lies made up by Western Tibet researchers, who claimed that the Dalai Lama was stopped by "Chinese" from reforming the Tibetan society in the 1950s, or considered him a great reformer. GT: In your opinion, how did some Westerners form a narrow view on Tibet? How can the separatist actions of the Dalai Lama group appeal to some Westerners? Western media lack self-examination on their coverage on Tibet issues, and even encouraged the violent actions of some separatists. What's the situation now? Ettinger: There are a few reasons. First, Tibetan myths have been popular in Western culture for a long time. As early as the 1950s and 60s, Western countries published the cartoon Tintin in Tibet (The Adventures of Tintin), the novel The Third Eye and other popular books. These echo the Dalai Lama's exile. At the same time, Hollywood has hopped on the Tibet train. It made movies like Kundun, Seven Years in Tibet and Little Buddha. Another reason is US "soft power." The US government controls a net of lies about the Tibetan government-in-exile. This net not only includes mainstream Western media, but also many NGOs, and the new Democracy Foundation, which is funded by the US government. But all lies will eventually be exposed. More than 20 years ago, Canadian Tibetologist Professor Tom Grunfeld wrote a book, The Making of Modern Tibet, which objectively discussed Tibet's modern history. But this book came under attack by quite a few American journalists. Another important reason is that Western media are terrified of China, a powerful nation on the economic rise. A 2010 report from the Heinrich Böll Stiftung China Foundation pointed out that many media reports are full of clichés that twist China's image, such as saying China "supports hooligan countries," is "the criminal behind climate change," it is a "low producer" and unscrupulously "resource-hungry." Now, through the active publicity of the Chinese government, as well as efforts by Western tourists who have been in China and Western scholars, the reports from Western media about China are relatively becoming more comprehensive. GT: Is the Dalai Lama a pawn which the US and other Western countries use to confront China? Ettinger: Without question. It started when he fled Tibet. Now we know that the separatists in Tibet have been in touch with the US government since the 1950s. The CIA and the Dalai Lama have always held hands. His brother, especially his oldest brother Thubten Jigme Norbu, was recruited by the CIA's "Radio Free Asia." Gyalo Dondrub was recruited as CIA's anti-Communism terrorist. In the 1950s, the Dalai Lama expressed his "support" for China in many articles, demonstrating his "patriotism." Some historians even thought that was from the heart. But in retrospect, I think that was his strategy, deceit in the name of cooperation. Today, Dalai uses the "government-in-exile" and a lasting fight over Tibet to damage China's reputation, and hopes to use the US to weaken China's political and economic status in the world. GT: What are the prospects for the "fight for Tibet?" Some countries in the West used to play the card of Tibet indepenence with great enthusiasm but now it appears they are not as blatant as before. Why? Ettinger: I mentioned in my book that the exile government and its supporters in the US are not after "real autonomy." Within their circles, they consider "Greater Tibet," "East Turkestan," "Manchuria," Inner Mongolia and Communist China separate states. That means some people dream of China breaking into pieces like Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Of course they're daydreaming. It's hard to imagine that Tibet would be separated from China. Only political adventurers, irresponsible daydreamers and lunatics would think that way. Tibet is prospering within a united China. The future of Tibet is riding on support from the central government to improve its economic and social development. The opinions of Tibetans overseas will change as social and economic conditions improve. I'm very confident about that. GT: The Dalai Lama will turn 80 in July. Will they jump at the opportunity to launch a new round of campaign to promote "Tibetan independence?" How should the Chinese government respond? Ettinger: Propaganda against China has never ceased, and it will gain momentum at this moment. I just wrote to the biggest daily newspaper in Luxembourg and warned that the Dalai Lama's birthday will be taken advantage of again. For example, some will whip up lies such as that Tibetan language and culture are being oppressed and so forth. I'm not in a position to advise the Chinese government. In my opinion, the Chinese government should boost its publicity efforts more than at any time in the past. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Tearful Ronny Tong quits as legislator hours after resigning from Civic Party amid rift in Hong Kong's pan-democratic camp (SCMP)
2015-06-23
Moderate pan-democrat Ronny Tong Ka-wah sent shockwaves across Hong Kong's political spectrum yesterday, giving up his directly elected seat in the Legislative Council as well as quitting the party he co-founded nine years ago. The lawmaker's departure from the Civic Party had long been expected because of his more compromising approach to political reform, but his decision to quit Legco came as a shock, exposing how wide the rift within the city's pan-democratic camp has become. Yesterday's drama came less than a week after Legco voted down the government's final package of proposals for the 2017 chief executive election. Tong lamented his allies' failure to come up with a feasible proposal to lobby Beijing, and said it was inappropriate for him to retain his seat in the legislature considering he was elected as a Civic Party member in 2012. Tong sobbed as he bowed in front of the cameras to announce his resignation from Legco, effective on October 1. "I wish to thank everyone who has supported me over the past 11 years," he said. "I apologise for not being able to achieve what I set out to achieve." Tong has been seen as a pragmatist for eschewing confrontation with Beijing in favour of a middle-of the-road approach to democratic reform that often put him at odds with colleagues. The first major reflection of that rift came in 2010 when he opposed the party's leading role in getting pan-democrat lawmakers to resign and trigger a by-election through which they recaptured their seats in what they touted as a de facto referendum on universal suffrage. A barrister by profession and a senior counsel, he was the only pan-democrat who did not join in last year's Occupy protests. In an internal message to colleagues earlier yesterday, Tong said it was the Civic Party's change of values that had driven him to take the "extremely painful decision". "I had hoped, through my effort, to inspire the party [to look beyond] the sternest pro-democracy supporters and try to win over moderate Hongkongers too in order to strengthen the democratic movement," Tong wrote. "Unfortunately after continuous effort throughout these five years, it has proven that it is only my personal political idea that is too far away and unrealistic." After tendering his resignation to Legco President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing and the Civic Party's leadership, Tong insisted he would continue looking for a "middle way" through his new think tank, Path of Democracy. "Taking the middle ground approach doesn't mean you give up the fight for democracy or are being subservient to the central government," he said. But he ruled out running in future elections and recommended young Civic Party member Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu contest his New Territories East seat. While the Civic Party said it respected Tong's decision and intended to field a young member to run in the by-election triggered by his resignation, it's under pressure to put forward a heavyweight such as chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee. The seat is a precious asset for the pan-democrats, who need every vote they can muster to fight the pro-establishment majority in Legco. Bills and motions put forward by lawmakers need support from both geographical and functional constituencies to be passed, and Tong's resignation will make it easier for the pro-establishment camp to get its way. Eu said it was a pity - though not surprising - that Tong had left, adding that the party had taken his criticism very seriously. ^ top ^

Hong Kong pro-establishment lawmakers get tea and sympathy from Beijing's top official after botched reform vote walkout (SCMP)
2015-06-26
Beijing's top representative in Hong Kong last night hailed pro-establishment lawmakers' support for the electoral reform package and did not take them to task for the botched walkout before the vote last week. The news emerged from a “tea gathering” for 40 Beijing loyalists that also saw an unusually warm reception for the media pack. Journalists were allowed into the building in Western district in an unprecedented move, as mainland officials also offered a surprise olive branch to the pan-democrats. Veteran Beijing loyalist Tam Yiu-chung of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong quoted office director Zhang Xiaoming as saying the central government would invite lawmakers to attend a military parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war. The parade is scheduled for September 3 in the capital. “The central government will also invite representatives from different sectors in Hong Kong, including lawmakers, to inspect the development opportunities arising from the country's 'One Belt, One Road' strategic initiative,” Tam said. This offer was seen as an effort to reach out to the pan-democrats after they voted against the Beijing-decreed blueprint for Hong Kong's 2017 chief executive election. New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said they had had “frank exchanges” with Zhang and the discussion proceeded in a “cosy atmosphere”. Zhang's speech was uploaded onto the office's website. In it, he thanked pro-establishment lawmakers for their "hard work and stress" and said the universal suffrage issue was one of the "most lengthy, most controversial, most challenging and most difficult" task in post-handover Hong Kong. The "accident arising from Legco's voting", Zhang said, would not change the "fact that... pro-establishment lawmakers are still the important constructive force for HKSAR to correctly implement one country two systems and the Basic Law". "Although accidents arose from the voting process of the universal suffrage resolution and the lesson is worth learning, the concerted efforts from all sides have yielded generally positive and conducive effect on the work of political reform, with long-lasting impact," Zhang said. He added that as the political reform debate came to an end, Hong Kong should leave aside political arguments and "focus effort on developing the economy, improving the livelihood and facilitating harmony". He ended the speech by citing the lyrics of Below The Lion Rock, by late pop singer Roman Tam, a favourite of many older Hongkongers, to call for differences to be put aside for the pursuit of ideals. It was their first meeting with Beijing's point man in the city since their walkout from the legislature last Thursday – seconds before the historic vote – which led to a crushing 28-8 defeat for the reform package. But the gathering's expected focus last night on the camp's blunder was overshadowed just hours earlier by leaked Whats8App messages that circulated ahead of the botched vote. Rural kingpin Lau Wong-fat – on whose tardiness the walkout was initially blamed – and Liberal Party honorary chairman James Tien Pei-chun – whose party stayed to vote – did not attend. A totally unexpected development was the unprecedented media access to a building usually cloaked in mystery. At around 10pm journalists were allowed into the lobby after strict security checks, and given water and biscuits while waiting for the meeting upstairs to finish. They reported that the lobby was simple, simply decorated, with only tropical plants and traditional Chinese paintings. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg pays a working visit to the United States (Infomongolia)
2015-06-24
Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg is paying a state visit to the United States on June 23-27, 2015. His working visit will start from Washington D.C. During visit in Washington D.C, Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg plans to visit Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center and meet Executive Director of World Bank, Chairman of United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, Leaders of Mongolian Group in the United States Congress and the Head of U.S. House Democracy Partnership as well as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Sue Pritzker. In framework of his visit, PM will deliver a speech at Mongolia-US Business Forum on June 25. Also, PM Ch.Saikhanbileg is to meet authorities of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). Later, Ch.Saikhanbileg will visit the New York Stock Exchange to get acquainted with its activity, and meet Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and to give an interview for “Bloomberg News”. ^ top ^

Asian Development Bank introduces Housing Project to Ulaanbaatar Officials (Infomongolia)
2015-06-25
Asian Development Bank (ADB) has introduced "Affordable and Suitable to Re-planning Housing Project" to authorities of Ulaanbaatar city at discussion held on June 24. The Governor of Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul, Deputy Mayor of Ulaanbaatar City responsible for Construction, Urbanization and Investment issues S.Ochirbat, delegation of ADB and other officials attended the discussion. At the beginning of discussion, Mayor E.Bat-Uul has delivered a opening remarks expressing his appreciation to ADB for supporting UB city development and also for the introduced housing project. The project was introduced in three stages, city development strategy regarding the financial condition of citizens of Ulaanbaar, international experience and current condition in Ulaanbaatar. On June 1, project implementation team, which was jointly created by ADB and Cities Development Initiative for Asia, has started its work, it will end on January, 2016. By May 2016, all required documents for loan agreement will be ready, and by December 2016, authorities of ADB must approve the loan agreement. ^ top ^

World Bank lends 63 million US dollars to Mongolia (Infomongolia)
2015-06-25
World Bank has agreed to lend 63 million US dollar to Mongolia. Minister of Finance J.Erdenebat and World Bank's Country Manager for Mongolia James Anderson have signed the loan agreement. The loan will be used to finance three government projects on improving educational quality, digitalizing health care system and smart government. Minister of Finance J.Erdenebat said: "Our country has been collaborating with World Bank in past 25 years. We are glad that we are cooperating on education, health and smart government projects. I am sure that we will be working together in the future". 27.4 million US dollars will be used for educational quality improvement project, 17.9 million for digital health care project and 17.8 million for smart government project. ^ 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.
 
Page created and hosted by SinOptic Back to the top of the page To SinOptic - Services and Studies on the Chinese World's Homepage