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
  10-14.8.15, No. 583  
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Mongolia

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Switzerland

Switzerland begins public consultations on joining China-led AIIB (Xinhua)
2015-08-12
Switzerland's Federal Council launched on Wednesday public consultations to cement the country's membership with China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a financial institution seeking to foster sustainable development in Asia. This follows the June signing of the Articles of Agreement by Swiss Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann in Beijing. Switzerland is one of 57 prospective founding members, and has demonstrated great interest from the onset as it was amongst the first European countries to enter the AIIB's founding process. According to the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the confederation's stake in the bank's 100 billion U.S. dollars capital stock will be a total of 706,4 million U.S. dollars, to be paid in five annual instalments. Switzerland's voting power (0.8745 percent) will yield more clout than its financial input through the country's basic and founding member votes. SECO also indicated that the confederation will continue to actively take part in the bank's foundation while vying for a seat on the AIIB's Board of Directors. Both Switzerland's development policy and its foreign economic policy are in tune with AIIB plans to finance infrastructure projects in Asia by using its own resources and through public funds and private investment. Particular emphasis will be placed on the areas of transport, energy and water supply, ports, the environment, urban development and logistics, information technologies and telecommunication, as well as rural and agricultural development. SECO mentioned that Switzerland's participation will also enhance economic relations with both China and Asia, with new opportunities expected to arise for Swiss businesses in the region. With the deadline shortened by three weeks to accelerate the launching of the ratification process, the consultations are expected to run until Sept. 2. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China plans legal research centres to boost 'One Belt, One Road' project (SCMP)
2015-08-10
The Supreme People's Court has established a research centre to deal with legal affairs for the "One Belt, One Road" initiative. The centre was inaugurated at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law on Saturday, and the top court will set up similar research centres at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University, and the China University of Political Science and Law, Xinhua reported. "The objective of setting up such research centres is to utilise the experts [at various institutions] in international trade, finance, investment and legal affairs," Liu Jingdong, from the top court, said. "We will step up research on the laws related to the One Belt, One Road initiative, and provide support in commercial and maritime affairs that involve dealing with overseas." The initiative, advocated by President Xi Jinping, is aimed at boosting trade and infrastructure links with countries stretching from Asia to Africa.It follows the signing of the articles of agreement for the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in June. Many see the bank as an attempt by Beijing to strengthen its presence abroad. Beijing is building a team of international law experts. The foreign ministry established an international law committee this year, emphasising its hopes of advancing its interests through treaties and legal provisions. Shi Yinhong, an international affairs professor at Renmin University, said that as Chinese companies became more eager to invest abroad, they were more likely to encounter legal disputes." We need to do some studies on the laws of other nations to help Chinese investors better plan their 'going out' strategy," he said. "More Chinese investors will step up overseas investments under the One Belt, One Road initiative. China has focused its international law research on territorial disputes, but now it needs to broaden the scope." ^ top ^

Chinese vice president attends Singapore's independence anniversary celebration (Xinhua)
2015-08-10
Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao attended the celebration of Singapore's 50th anniversary of independence on Sunday.Li, as a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, met with Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam earlier that day.Li delivered the greeting message from President Xi. In his message, Xi extended congratulations to the Singaporean government and its people, saying China is willing to work together with Singapore to inject new impetus into the growth of Sino- Singaporean relations, so as to promote bilateral relationship to a new level. Noting that the Singaporean government and its people have achieved many great accomplishments since the foundation of the nation, Li said bilateral trade and investment between China and Singapore have also been growing steadily since the establishment of the diplomatic ties between the two countries 25 years ago. Saying that new highlights of cooperation between China and Singapore have been made in areas such as financial cooperation, science, education, human resources as well as social governance, Li said China is willing to further develop bilateral relationship with Singapore from a strategic height and with a long-term perspective. On Singapore's taking-over as the coordinator between China and ASEAN, Li said China is willing to continue promoting a sustained and healthy development of the strategic partnership with ASEAN countries including Singapore. Lee Hsien Loong expressed gratitude to President Xi for sending a special envoy to attend Singapore's independence golden jubilee, saying Singapore is willing to take the opportunity of the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the two countries to maintain the good momentum of development of bilateral relations. He also expressed his hope to implement soon the third government-to-government cooperative project, and to continue work positively on the upgrading of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. He said Singapore, as the coordinator between ASEAN and China, will play a positive role and push forward relations between ASEAN and China constantly. ^ top ^

Beijing's South China Sea island building has polarised Asean nations (SCMP)
2015-08-10
With a two-day late joint communiqué, foreign ministers of Southeast Asian countries have shown not only worries over Beijing's island building in the South China Sea, but also a more polarised regional body that is failing to back up its words with action. In the statement dated August 4, but released only on Thursday night, top diplomats from the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) said land reclamations in the strategic body of waters had "increased tensions" in the region, despite China's protests. But it stopped short of earlier calls by the Philippines and United States for all claimants to adopt Washington's proposal to halt reclamation, construction and militarisation. The delay was a result of wrangling over how strong the wording about China's behaviour should be, diplomats have said. And it reminded some analysts of the non-issuance of such a document in 2012, when Cambodia was in the Asean chair." No Asean chair wants to be another Cambodia," said Xie Yanmei, a senior China analyst at the International Crisis Group. The 2012 failure was widely interpreted to be a result of China revealing its hand to break Asean's unity. It was the only time in the organisation's 48-year history that foreign ministers failed to agree on a joint communiqué. Since then, the regional body had made a consensus to avoid a repeat of the experience, Xie said. Otherwise "it would appear that the organisation would be on the verge of collapse". Yet even with a closing statement, Xie said the organisation had shown limitations in engaging with China over the South China Sea disputes by failing to unite behind actions and expressing only passive concerns."It has criticised the Chinese actions, but it could not criticise China directly," she said. The organisation has never directly named China over its South China Sea activities in the closing statements, released annually at the Asean Regional Forum. The forum allows consultations on security dialogue in the Asia Pacific involving Asean's 10 members and other powers such as China, the US and Japan. China began building artificial islands in the disputed Spratly Islands about two years ago, but attracted international attention only last year. Other claimants, and the US and Japan, have criticised China's actions. The reclamations had made Asean more polarised, said Carl Thayer, an emeritus professor at The University of New South Wales, in Australia. Nations such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, which were less critical of China's role, were now pressing the issue harder, Thayer said." The polarisation is that people who are upset - and there are more of them than before - really press that issue," he said. China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, said at last week's forum that China had stopped building the islands. His ministry said in June that China would stop reclamation soon. But analysts have said Beijing had moved on from reclamation to building infrastructures on the islands. Kang Lin, a researcher at China's National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said Beijing opposed efforts to raise the maritime disputes in a Asean joint communiqué as it was "only an issue with some of the member states, not all of them". Beijing had long refused to engage with Asean on the South China Sea disputes and, instead, said the issue should be settled bilaterally between claimants. However, Kang said Beijing had realised in recent years it was impractical to insist on resolving South China Sea issues bilaterally and had begun to accept negotiating through Asean over some aspects of the dispute. ^ top ^

Interview: HK to play super-connector for China's "Belt and Road": Chief Executive (Xinhua)
2015-08-10
Hong Kong should intensify its role as the "super-connector" linking the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world, and grasp the opportunity of the China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative to boost its economy, said Leung Chun-ying, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR).The SAR government should abandon outdated "positive non- intervention" mentality of economic development amid increasing competition with neighboring economies, said Leung during a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua at Government House, the chief executive's official residence. It was the first time for the chief executive to accept an interview after a universal suffrage motion for the region's constitutional reform was vetoed by opposition lawmakers of the SAR Legislative Council in June. The SAR government has since then pledged to focus on promoting the region's economic development and improving livelihood of the Hong Kong people in the remaining two-year tenure. […] Leung has urged Hong Kong to play a role as "super-connector" between Chinese mainland and the rest of the world, as the region has its unique advantages created by the "One Country, Two Systems" principle. The "super-connector" should act in both ways, according to Leung. On one hand, Hong Kong should continue helping mainland companies with their overseas businesses. On the other hand, the SAR government should pay more attention to attract more foreign investment, talents and technologies to Hong Kong and the mainland. Many economies, according to Leung, have shown great interests in having economic cooperation with the Chinese mainland through Hong Kong. Leung stressed that Hong Kong's such function could not be noticed in its transshipment trade volumes chart. "Many commodities sold by the U.S., Canada or India were shipped directly to the mainland, but their contracts were signed with Hong Kong companies. […] The chief executive also noted that Hong Kong's "super- connector" function are not limited in the economic field, but also works in scientific aspect. Swedish Karolinska Institute, one of the largest and most prestigious medical universities in the world, has decided to set up a research center in Hong Kong, the first of its kind outside Sweden. The University of Chicago and Cornell University have also established cooperative research facilities in Hong Kong. […] So far, the SAR government has set up 11 economic and trade offices overseas. However, Leung noted that there are still some obstacles inside Hong Kong despite government efforts to boost economic development and improve people's livelihood. Leung criticized the filibustering of some opposition lawmakers within the SAR's legislature on many economic and livelihood issues, which has already slowed down Hong Kong's paces of economic development. Speaking of Hong Kong people's livelihood, the chief executive agreed that housing problem is the biggest one among others, as many public polls showed that Hong Kong residents have repeatedly complained about unaffordable housing price and the long queuing time to acquire government's public housing apartments. […] ^ top ^

Chinese envoy calls for objective, just and professional investigation into chemical weapons in Syria (Global Times)
2015-08-10
A Chinese envoy to the United Nations on Friday urged objective, just and professional investigation on the use of chemical weapons in Syria after the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on the issue Friday. "We support objective, just and professional investigation on this incident and bring perpetrators to justice when there is hard evidence," said Liu Jieyi, China's permanent representative to the UN, after the adoption of the resolution to set up an investigative mechanism to identify the perpetrators of deadly chlorine gas attacks in Syria. "China welcomes the council's unanimous adoption of resolution. China's position on chemical weapons is clear and consistent. We resolutely oppose the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances," said Liu. "We express our concern on the incident of using chlorine gas as a weapon within Syria, an incident verified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)."The Chinese diplomat also stressed it is necessary to respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria in the process. The 15-member council reiterates in the resolution that no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer chemical weapons. According to the resolution, within 20 days of adoption, the UN Secretary-General and the Director-General of the OPCW should submit to the Security Council recommendations for the establishment and operation of a UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism to identify the perpetrators. A political settlement is the only way out to resolve this Syrian issue. The international community, especially the Security Council, should stay the course and not waver in the direction of a political settlement, said Liu. China hopes that the resolution, as has been unanimously adopted by the council, will be conducive to forging a consensus of the council on the Syrian issue and giving new impetus to a comprehensive, enduring and proper settlement of the issue through political means at an early date, said Liu. The resolution is the most significant action by the council on the chemical weapons issue in Syria since President Bashar al- Assad's government joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013. ^ top ^

China pledges to support Africa's economic development: envoy (Global Times)
2015-08-10
China rejoices at Africa's promising future and supports the continent in pursuing economic liberation, China's ambassador to Ghana Sun Baohong has said." China rejoices at Africa's promising future and empathized with Africa's difficulties in development. We resolutely support our African brothers in pursuing national independence and political liberation." Looking ahead, China will continue to support African countries in pursuing economic liberation and bring progress and prosperity to their peoples so that Africa's independence is rooted in a more solid and stable footing," Sun remarked. The Chinese ambassador gave this assurance at the official opening of a three-day Economic Ideas Festival on the theme "Ideas To Transform a Rising Africa". Speaking on "Delivering Africa's Development: The Economic and Political Alliances Nexus", Sun expressed the difficulty most African countries faced, adding that China would continue to support them in pursuing programs and policies that would liberate the continent economically." After dozens of years of independence, many African countries cannot attain economic independence with heavy reliance on foreign capital, technology and even trade terms. She observed however that Africa was now changing as there had been significant progress in major areas, thereby offering some level of hope for the continent, and that China would not leave Africa alone to struggle with its own challenges. The three-day festival has representatives from 17 African countries. Among the topics to be discussed are the economics of arts, youth and leadership, participation of youth in economic governance, Africa and opportunities, among others. ^ top ^

FM defends South China Sea claims. Tokyo's gift of planes to Manila 'provokes trouble' (Global Times)
2015-08-10
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi slammed the claims of the Philippines, Japan and US on South China Sea issues before the end of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Kuala Lumpur, the foreign ministry said in a late Thursday statement. Analysts said the rarely-seen profound elaboration of China's stance on the South China Sea issues could help dismiss Western media's misinterpretations and defend China's case. Concerns over the South China Sea have dominated regional meetings this week between Southeast Asia and countries including Japan, China and the US. US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday expressed "serious concern" about the situation in the waters, while Albert del Rosario, Foreign Minister of the Philippines, accused Beijing of "massive" reclamation activities during the Tuesday meeting. "China has the same concern as other countries over freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, as most of China's merchandise is transported via the Sea," the Chinese minister said, adding that freedom of navigation is also very important to China. Wang said that 70 years ago China took back the Nansha and Xisha Islands - where China's land reclamation has encountered opposition, especially from the Philippines - from Japan's illegal occupation. "The naval ships that were used by China to take back the islands were provided by the US, our ally," he noted. "These facts must have been recorded in your respective archives." The Philippines failed to tell the truth when raising the South China Sea issue, according to the statement. Wang pointed out that some countries began to invade and occupy islands and reefs in the 1970s, following reports on oil reserves in the South China Sea, infringing the legal rights and interests of China. He also retorted the claims of the Japanese representatives that all artificial islands and reefs in the South China Sea do not produce legal rights for the owner. "Japan has spent some 10 billion yen ($80 million) on the tiny atoll of Okinotori, building it into a de facto island with cement and steel, and then claimed a right to a continental shelf extending beyond its 200-nautical mile coast boundaries as exclusive economic zone at the United Nations. However, most UN members considered Japan's claim inconceivable and chose to decline the proposal," he argued. "Therefore, Japan should review its own words and deeds before criticizing others. Unlike Japan, China has claimed its right to the South China Sea a long time ago, which does not require enhancement through land reclamation." Wang stressed that China is a victim of the South China Sea issue and that the nation has exercised great restraint to maintain peace and stability in the region. "With sound proof and historical records, the foreign minister has given a thorough introduction of the South China Sea issue, aimed at solving the problems," Liu Feng, a Hainan-based expert on the South China Sea, told the Global Times on Friday. Meanwhile, Japan was reportedly looking to offer three Beechcraft TC-90 King Air planes to the Philippines that could be fitted with basic surface and air surveillance radar, which analysts said might further add to the tensions on the waters. Sources told Reuters that talks within the Japanese government were preliminary and would need to overcome legal hurdles. Japan had yet to formally propose the planes as an alternative to more sophisticated Lockheed Martin P3-C aircraft that Manila wants to track Chinese submarine activity, they added. "The Philippines doesn't have enough aircraft to conduct regular patrols over the South China Sea," one of the sources in Japan said, declining to be identified. Philippine Defense Minister Voltaire Gazmin told Reuters he was unaware of any Japanese plan to supply the aircraft. Top Philippine generals said they were also unaware of any proposal but welcomed the growing security cooperation with Japan. The sources in Japan said radar to monitor surface activity and aircraft could be easily installed on the TC-90 planes if they were transferred. The US military uses Beechcraft King Air 90s in transport roles and to train pilots. "This is another proof of Japan's role in the South China Sea: it has always been provoking trouble deliberately. It also gave patrol ships to the Philippines during the Huangyan Island dispute between China and the Philippines in 2012," Liu said. He warned that Japan may get more deeply involved in the South China Sea issues to divert China's attention from the East China Sea. The Philippines and Japan have conducted two naval exercises in and around the South China Sea in recent months. Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also agreed in June to begin talks on a visiting forces agreement that would open the way for Japan to use bases in the Philippines. ^ top ^

Abe to refer to 'apology' in WWII anniversary remarks (China Daily)
2015-08-10
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will include the words "apology" and "aggression" in his statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, NHK public TV said, an apparent nod to critics who fear he will dilute past apologies. An initial draft did not include the word "apology", some media reports had said, which would likely anger China and South Korea where bitter memories of Japan's sometimes brutal past occupation and colonisation run deep. Abe is juggling conflicting priorities in crafting the statement, expected to be approved by his cabinet one day before the Aug 15 anniversary. He needs to satisfy the desire of close ally the United States to ease tension in East Asia. He also wants to maintain an incipient thaw in ties with China, as he eyes a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping that one close aide said was likely in September. However, the conservative Abe's core supporters want to end what they see as a humiliating cycle of apologies they say distracts from Japan's seven decades of post-war peace. Abe has said he will uphold past statements about the war, including then-premier Tomiichi Murayama's 1995 landmark "heartfelt apology" for Japan's aggression and colonialism. But his previous remarks and stated desire to look to the future have raised concerns he wants to water down those apologies. NHK said a draft of Abe's statement would refer specifically to the Murayama statement's key phrases "apology", "deep remorse", "aggression" and "colonial rule", but the broadcaster did not elaborate on the phrasing. "While it appears that Abe is considering the inclusion of such key words in an attempt to pre-empt criticism both at home and from overseas, it seems possible, perhaps even probable, that he will significantly alter the context in which these words are used from the Murayama statement," said Sophia University political science professor Koichi Nakano. "He might thus try to satisfy both his revisionist base and critics, but he might also simply anger both." South Korean President Park Geun-hye said on Monday she wanted Abe's statement to clearly uphold past cabinets's views on wartime history "to show the Japanese government's mature attitude in trying to make a fresh start in relationships with neighbouring countries, including us." Doubts persist over how Abe will refer to Japan's wartime military aggression, a term he has questioned in the past. In a report last week, his advisers referred to Japan's "aggression" in China after 1931, although two dissenters objected to the term. ^ top ^

WWII parade politicized by West: analysts (Global Times)
2015-08-140
The South Korean government on Sunday denied that the US had asked its President Park Geun-hyu not to attend China's parade to commemorate the end of World War II next month in Beijing. Analysts believe that some Western countries have politicized the commemorative event, which is intended to promote and safeguard world peace. With the parade approaching, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported on Saturday that the US administration has urged Park not to attend the ceremony, fearing it would "send a false message to the world that China has cracked the US-South Korea alliance," citing US government and diplomatic sources. The South Korean government on Sunday denied the claim, saying that the report is not true and "a situation like that would never happen," according to the Yonhap News Agency. The South Korean foreign ministry added that the government has not yet determined whether Park will attend the ceremony. The US has not confirmed who will attend the parade. Analysts said one of the reasons is the US is weighing its alliance with Japan. "The US, as one of the victorious nations of WWII, should be supportive toward commemorative events, but it may have misinterpreted China's military parade as intended to suppress its close ally, Japan. The US attaches more importance to Japan because the country is crucial for the US to implement its diplomatic policy in Asia," Jin Canrong, associate Dean at the School of the International Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times. "A country's national interest decides its attitude toward history," he added. China's military parade, which celebrates the 70th anniversary of victory in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45), is scheduled to take place on September 3 in Beijing. The Chinese government said the ceremony is to ensure China's stance in safeguarding world peace and the postwar order. At least 50 world leaders are on the invitation list. Earlier in July, some Japanese media reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit China in September and may attend the military parade, but Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirmed Wednesday that he has yet to hear from the Japanese side. "The US has been weighing its options. Whether the US will dispatch an envoy to attend the parade and the rank of this envoy will reflect to what degree the US sees the event as a political gesture from China to deter Japan," Jia Qingguo, associate Dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University, told the Global Times. Jia said how other nations see the parade is based on their attitudes toward China's rise as well as their current relations with the country, citing Russia and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which had voiced support for the commemoration. He added that some neighboring countries are concerned that the parade might put pressure on issues such as the South China Sea disputes. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will attend the ceremony, Egypt's top diplomat in China said. Both sides will also discuss trade cooperation during the meeting. The president of the Czech Republic is the first EU leader to confirm attendance at the commemoration. Russia and Mongolia have also reportedly confirmed that their presidents will participate in the ceremony. Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at the Renmin University, told the Global Times that the attendance of the South Korean president would be key for China as South Korea had also suffered under the Japanese during WWII. "By commemorating the victory, we just want to strengthen national cohesion and tell others we are the steadfast power to maintain world peace," he said. ^ top ^

China plans 100 military exercises this year amid increase in territorial disputes with neighbours (SCMP)
2015-08-11
China's military is staging live-fire exercises in the country's west as part of a series of drills involving more than 140,000 troops, state media reported on Tuesday. The “Joint Action-2015D” exercises in the Chengdu Military Region are the first of five such drills involving units from the army, navy, air force, missile corps and other branches of the armed forces, the state-run Xinhua news agency said. The drills are the latest in about 100 joint exercises planned for this year. They began last month, but moved into the live-firing stage on Monday, Xinhua said. The 2.3 million-member People's Liberation Army has stepped-up both the rigour and frequency of training as it emphasises more realistic scenarios for fighting and winning battles around China's periphery. New stress has been placed on exercises integrating different branches of the armed forces, with a special command on joint exercises set up last year. That includes recent live-firing exercises in the South China Sea where China is involved in sharpening territorial disputes with other nations and has embarked on a massive programme of creating islands out of shoals and reefs that could operate as military outposts. An exercise last month also included an assault on a mock-up of the presidential building in Taiwan, the self-governing island republic that mainland China claims as its own territory and has vowed to bring to heel by military force if necessary. Taiwan's Defence Ministry protested against the training exercise, which was broadcast on the PLA's television channel, prompting a Chinese military spokesman to deny that the drill targeted any specific parties. ^ top ^

US senators urge President Obama to press China's President Xi on rights during visit (SCMP)
2015-08-12
Leading American senators have urged United States President Barack Obama to use the visit to Washington next month of President Xi Jinping to take him to task for an “extraordinary assault” on human rights. Ten senators, led by Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Tuesday that Obama should make human rights “a key and public component” of his talks with Xi. “Under President Xi, there has been an extraordinary assault on rule of law and civil society in China”, including the detention or harassment of more than 250 lawyers and activists since July 9, the senators said in a letter to Obama. “We ask that you call publicly and privately for China's immediate release of these detained lawyers and activists, or at the very least, that China grant them due process,” it said. The Senators also criticised Xi's draft law for foreign non-governmental organisations, saying it could force many US NGOs, educational and cultural institutions to pull out of China. “The rise of civil society in China has been one of the only human rights success stories of the past two decades, and it is imperative the US speak up to protect it,” the letter said. It also highlighted denials of visa applications for US journalists, writers and scholars and expressed concern about Xi's plans to introduce a “draconian” anti-terrorism law. The senators said they hoped Obama would press China to respect religious freedom and release Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and other political detainees. The letter said the senators expected Obama and Xi to also discuss China's pursuit of territorial claims in East Asia, recent cyber attacks, economic and trade issues and climate change. “While these issues deserve and full and robust exchange of views, so too do human rights,” they said. Xi is expected to spend about a week in the US in the second half of September. He will hold talks with Obama in Washington and also attend the UN General Assembly. His administration has tightened control over almost every aspect of civil society since 2012, citing national security and stability. Its crackdown on civil society has alarmed Western rights groups and governments. Washington has said it was “deeply concerned” at what appeared to be a systematic pattern of arrests and detentions, but has been accused of subordinating such concerns to economic ties with Beijing. ^ top ^

China and Pakistan sign cooperation agreements worth over 10 billion yuan (Global Times)
2015-08-12
China and Pakistan on Wednesday signed 20 cooperation agreements, worth 10.35 billion yuan (1.6 billion US dollars), and issued the "Karamay Manifesto" on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major project in China's Belt and Road Initiative. More than 300 officials and delegates from companies, think tanks and social organizations witness the signing of the agreements at the closing ceremony of the first China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Forum held in the oil-rich city of Karamay, north Xinjiang. The two-day event featured forums on topics including city-to-city and industrial cooperation, and youth exchange. The two countries pledged to boost bilateral economic development through energy and power projects, and will also cooperate in education and health care. According to the Karamay Manifesto, the CPEC Forum will continue to be held regularly. It praised the significance of the Belt and Road Initiative and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative for the political trust, economic cooperation and cultural exchanges of the countries along the road. The CPEC will link Gwadar Port, Pakistan, with Xinjiang by way of highways, railways as well as pipelines. It is among the six economic corridors crucial to China's Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. ^ top ^

Chinese embassy spokesman refutes U.S. media hype over "Chinese hacker" invasion (Xinhua)
2015-08-13
Groundless accusations and “microphone diplomacy” are not solving any problems, said spokesman of the Chinese embassy in Washington Zhu Haiquan on Monday. Zhu was responding to a NBC report which accused China of trying to invade senior U.S. government officials' private email. “Combating cross-border network hacker attacks needs strengthening cooperation of the international community,” he said. NBC said in the report that “Chinese hackers have been reading the private emails of Obama-administration officials” and "top national security and trade officials" since 2010. However, the Guardian quoted U.S. technology consultant Lauren Weinstein as saying that he was skeptical about the anonymous attribution to China for the attack. "Just about every email address ever published on a web page is subjected to phishing attacks sooner or later these days, " Weinstein said, "If you phish at a few hundred million email addresses, you'll probably suck up a bunch of them from government officials in the process, whether you specifically targeted them or not. " Chinese cybersecurity expert Qin An said the U.S. and China are preparing Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit in September. At this crucial moment, he added, that the U.S. media frequently trumpet about the network security issue seems to attract attention, and the issue may become a major topic during the leaders' meeting. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese military official urges strong army at border (Xinhua)
2015-08-13
A senior Chinese military official urged military forces for border defense to make down-to-earth efforts in following the path to building a strong army. Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the remarks during his inspection tour to military units in southwest China's regions of Chongqing and Tibet. Xu called for strengthened education at the army and efforts to thoroughly clean up the negative influence caused by corrupt former military leaders Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou. Also, he urged better management and control at the borders as well as innovation with ideological work at military forces to shore up the morale of servicemen for border defense. Senior officers and army leaders should strictly observe the political discipline and rules, Xu said, adding that modern ideas and elements should also be employed in the management of the military and the belief and spirit of rule of law should be promoted among the soldiers and officers. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Freed Chinese prisoner uses cartoons to illustrate torture claims (SCMP)
2015-08-10
A man wrongly jailed for murder has commissioned a series of cartoons to illustrate his claims that he was tortured and forced to confess to killing a village official. Liu Renwang, a villager in Zhongliang county in Luliang, Shanxi province, is seeking six million yuan (HK$7.5 million) in compensation from the court that wrongly convicted him, Thepaper.cn reported on Sunday." I still feel frightened whenever I recall my time in jail," he said. "My life was worse than being dead, and I kept thinking of committing suicide." Liu was held by investigators in December 2008 after the deputy director of his village committee was shot dead, the website reported. In August 2010, the Luliang intermediate court found Liu guilty of murder and gave him a suspended death sentence. Liu appealed against the verdict, saying he had been tortured into confessing. The court cleared Liu in a third retrial in December 2013, ruling there was not enough evidence against him. The court's verdict noted that a health check on Liu in January 2009 found he had suffered multiple wounds to his neck, jaw, forehead, nose, wrists and shoulders, the Southern Metropolis News reported. Liu has commissioned a series of cartoons depicting the torture methods he claims to have suffered. The cartoons depict him being hung up, beaten, given electric shocks, locked in a iron cage and burned with scalding water." I want to let people know more about confession by torture," he told Thepaper.cn Mainland laws ban torture in custody and Beijing ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture in 1988, but claims of such treatment persist. The judicial system is often criticised for its lack of independence and prosecutors for using confessions obtained through police torture. Critics say such methods have caused many wrongful convictions. ^ top ^

China rejects billions in investment to protect environment (Xinhua)
2015-08-10
China rejected 17 proposed construction projects involving a total investment of 109 billion yuan (17.6 billion U.S. dollars) for reasons of environmental protection in the first half of 2015, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said Friday. The 17 projects were among 92 examined by the MEP in the first six month, which involved more than 700 billion yuan investment in total. China is improving its environmental impact assessment system. A better system is crucial to protecting the environment and fixing loopholes that allow corruption. According to the MEP, all environmental impact assessment agencies must cut their links to governments at all levels by the end of 2016 to avoid corruption. Moreover, the ministry has launched random inspections of agencies and acted on tip-offs from the public, disqualifying dozens of agencies and engineers. The MEP has speeded up approval of major projects such as railways and irrigation in accordance with the law and regulations. ^ top ^

Beijing to tighten mail security for war anniversary (China Daily)
2015-08-10
Beijing will tighten parcel mail security as the city counts down to the Sept 3 military parade commemorating World War II victory, the State Post Bureau (SPB) said in a statement on Sunday. Every single postal package must be mailed using real names and go through a security check, said SPB chief Ma Junsheng at an internal meeting. Ma asked all departments to increase inspection of delivery companies to ensure postal security in the capital. Neighboring provinces have also been required to strengthen safety supervision for parcels. China has scheduled a series of events to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, culminating in a military parade on Sept 3 in Beijing. The municipal government has adopted other measures, including limiting cars on streets and industrial production, to improve air quality during the celebration. ^ top ^

China's disgraced PLA general Gu Junshan given suspended death sentence for corruption (SCMP)
2015-08-10
Gu Junshan, former deputy logistics chief of the People's Liberation Army, has been given a suspended death sentence with a two-year reprieve by the military court for corruption. Gu, charged with embezzlement, bribery, misuse of state funds and abuse of power, was stripped of his political rights for life as well as his military rank of lieutenant general, Xinhua reported. All his personal property was also seized. The detention of Gu, 58, in 2012 marked the start of the corruption crackdown in the military. The campaign also brought down former Central Military Commission vice-chairmen Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong, two of the most senior military officials to fall. Gu was a close ally of Xu. On the mainland, suspended death sentences are usually commuted to life in jail. This means Gu escaped the death penalty. The military court said Gu gave up information on crimes committed by others, which was a performance of “major meritorious service”. All his illegal gains were also recovered, it said. The two factors resulted in the court's meting out of a more lenient punishment for Gu, the People's Liberation Army Daily reported. The court also said it held Gu's trial behind closed doors as his case involved military secrets. Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said the sentence was more of a political decision. The Xinhua report did not give further details of Gu's crimes, but mainland media have extensively reported on the astonishing amount of wealth the former senior general netted. Gu's riches, stored in one of his ancestral homes in Henan province, filled four trucks and took 20 paramilitary officers two nights to confiscate them all, according to a 2014 report by financial news outlet Caixin. Among the items seized were a pure gold statue of late leader Mao Zedong, a gold wash basin, a model boat made of gold and crates of mao-tai, a pricey Chinese liquor. Gu's two brothers also owned homes next to the family mansion, and the three homes were linked by a more-than-30-metre-long basement stacked with crates of expensive liquor. Most were untouched as Gu had not lived there for years. The corrupt general owned prime real estate and dozens of apartments, each more than 1,800 square feet, around the Second Ring Road of Beijing's inner city, and also pocketed 6 per cent of a 2 billion yuan (HK$2.5 billion) sale of military land in Shanghai, previous reports said. As one of former CMC vice-chairman Xu's closest subordinates, Gu shared his loot with his superior, including giving Xu's daughter a 20 million yuan debit card as a wedding gift. He also sought promotion by bribing Xu, the reports said. A signed commentary published in the People's Liberation Army Daily yesterday said Gu's sentence showcased the Communist Party's “clear-cut attitude and determination to punish corruption according to the law”, and served as a warning to all cadres that “ignoring the law and party discipline will definitely be strictly punished”.  ^ top ^

Public to get a say on nuclear plants: official (Global Times)
2015-08-10
The new nuclear security law will allow the public to have a say on whether a nuclear plant should be built, an official from the National Energy Administration told media on Saturday. The draft nuclear security law will be submitted to China's top legislator for review in the middle of 2016, the China Business Journal newspaper reported Saturday. The law stipulates that the public would participate in planning and approval of the establishment of nuclear plants, according to the report. "If the public disagrees, a nuclear plant will definitely not be built," it cited an unnamed staff at the National Energy Administration as saying. The law would also specify compensation for damages in nuclear accidents, said the report. Local officials and related parties would be invited to visit the existing plants. Information about construction projects will also be posted online, the report noted. The voices from grass-roots on environment and safety evaluation would be heard in the monitoring of nuclear and radiation safety, said Xu Jianping, the chief engineer at a regional branch of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The National People's Congress, China's top legislature, put the nuclear security law onto its legislative agenda in 2013 and a first version of the draft was finished for review by the NPC in 2014, the staff said. China now has a set of regulations and guidelines in accordance with international standards on nuclear safety, but lacks a set of specified laws on nuclear development. The Nuclear Security Law might fill the gap," an unnamed source who reportedly participated in the drafting of the nuclear security law told the eeo.com.cn. A nuclear plant generally takes 15 to 20 years to build and that provides ample time for communication between the government and local residents, the report cited a member of the China Nuclear Society. As of June 2014, China had 19 operating nuclear power units and 29 units under construction, according to the National Nuclear Safety Administration. The 2011 leakage of radioactive material from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan has raised public concerns about nuclear safety in China. A planned CGN nuclear fuel processing project in Guangdong's city of Heshan was cancelled in July due to opposition from local residents, the Xinhua News Agency reported in Aug 2013.  ^ top ^

Authorities require reporting of HIV infections at schools (Xinhua)
2015-08-10
China's health and education authorities on Monday required the country's schools to establish systems to report HIV/AIDS infection cases in students. The National Health and Family Planning Commission and the Ministry of Education said in a joint circular that infections of the virus among young students saw a marked rise in recent years, a sign of problems in education and students' awareness about HIV/AIDS prevention. The two authorities required local health and education agencies to improve awareness at schools and called for establishment of an infection reporting system and regular consultation mechanism to analyze the cause of infections and formulate countermeasures. The circular also urged proper protection of infected students' privacy. Students in secondary schools and older should attend special classes on HIV/AIDS prevention focused on prevention of unsafe behavior as well as sexual responsibility and morality, the circular said. It also pledged financial support for volunteer services. The circular said HIV/AIDS voluntary counselling and testing services should be improved and schools should encourage students with risky behaviors to use the services. ^ top ^

China's health care reform moving slowly amid obstacles (SCMP)
2015-08-10
Li Tiantian, a Chinese doctor turned tech entrepreneur, is a leading light of the country's much-trumpeted health care reform drive. His medical networking platform Dxy.com links two million doctors across China and has attracted funding from tech giants like Tencent. Dxy is exactly what Beijing has said it is looking to support after it pinpointed remote health care, the internet and technology as drivers to solve its health care woes in a five-year roadmap in March. The reality is rather different: Dxy is curbing plans to work with public hospitals to help connect doctors and patients online because of a lack of support by Beijing and obstacles working with China's huge, fragmented public health care sector. “We've heard a lot of good stories from the top – internet-plus, driving force, policy changing – but see nothing happen at the bottom,” Li said. “It's not about market, capital or even tech – these things are already developed very well... rather it's the regulations, laws and systems of support.” Li's position reflects wider obstacles to health care reforms in technology, online drug sales, hospital privatisation and doctors' pay – drivers that are a major lure for investors and firms betting billions of dollars on China opening up a market set to be worth around US$1.3 trillion by 2020. […] China has ramped up its health care reform rhetoric, touting greater access for foreign investors to health care services, a bigger role for technology and pushing drug sales from mostly state-run hospitals towards the retail market. This has helped draw in close to US$30 billion worth of health care merger and acquisition investment so far this year, a fivefold leap from the same period last year, according to Reuters data. But despite the government's longer-term ambitions, industry insiders say reforms are being held up because of technical issues such as crumbling and fragmented IT systems to infighting between regulators and push-back from the state-run firms that dominate the sector – and don't want change […] despite the fast growth of private investment in hospitals, the public sector still dominates around 90 per cent of all patient visits, according to a Deutsche Bank 2015 health care report. Investors cite issues with insurance schemes, access to Chinese doctors and a still tightly controlled market. “With things still not market-led, organisations like ours are facing huge challenges and difficulties,” Hu Lan, president and director of hospital investment firm Amcare Corporation, said at a Shanghai conference in June. Health care spending as a slice of China's gross domestic product also remains small at around 6 per cent in 2013 compared with 17 per cent in the United States, World Health Organisation data show. Reforms to reduce hospitals' reliance on drug sales also faces a revolt from doctors who argue this will remove a key revenue stream at a time when medical staff are overworked, underpaid and often violently abused by angry patients. “Every few days you hear about a doctor being beaten or even killed. This situation is a huge mental burden for doctors,” said Wu Xiaobo a doctor at the Wangjing Hospital in Beijing in a recent viral video campaign for doctors' rights. As for Dxy's Li, his firm now plans to change tack and set up an offline clinic in the eastern city of Hangzhou in Zhejiang province this year to pilot potential health care reforms – outside the state sector. “We were hoping we could leverage changing policy and do something on mobile and digital,” Li said. “We found it's just too slow, so the only way to do it is out on our own.” ^ top ^

Stop meddling in politics: Chinese President Xi Jinping's coded message to Jiang Zemin (SCMP)
2015-08-11
With People's Daily, it's all about reading between the lines and this week some China watchers are seeing a pointed message in the Communist Party mouthpiece aimed at former president Jiang Zemin. A commentary on Monday lambasted unnamed "retired leaders" for clinging to power and causing rifts within the party. It was followed yesterday by an article on the website of the overseas edition chronicling how late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and his archrival Chen Yun worked together to establish a retirement system for party leaders. There was no mention, though, of the "old men" era of politics of the 1980s and 1990s when the so-called Eight Elders held on to the reins of power long after their official retirement. As ever, context is everything, with the articles being published as leaders are believed to be meeting at an informal summit at the seaside resort of Beidaihe to make important national decisions. Several analysts said the articles were a sign of how much President Xi Jinping wanted Jiang, who retired from his last top job in 2004, to stay out of politics. Bo Zhiyue, professor of political science at Victoria University of Wellington, said the message was plain. "Clearly, Xi used People's Daily to send a message to Jiang to stop meddling in politics," Bo said. Warren Sun, professor of Chinese Studies at Monash University, said it was a fresh warning to party elders such as Jiang and ally and former vice-president Zeng Qinghong to stop trying to destabilise the administration. "We can only hope it's not merely for the convenience of the present leadership, but the beginning of a virtually impossible effort to achieve a 'new norm' that formally ends 'old-man politics', and more importantly, creates a more healthy political culture at every level of the gigantic Chinese bureaucracy," Sun said. Steve Tsang, chair of the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham, said Jiang - rather than former premier Zhu Rongji or former president Hu Jintao - was the most influential of the retired leaders. "It is therefore difficult to avoid the conclusion that the message is directed to all interfering elders, including Jiang," Tsang said. "There is no mention of Zhu, who probably was the most exemplary of the retired, or of Hu, who handed over all top offices when his time was up. Jiang did the opposite of what Zhu and Hu did." Xi's much-publicised drive against corruption has ensnared a long list of senior officials, many of whom were Jiang's close allies, including former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, and Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong, both of whom were vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission. But the analysts agreed it did not mean Xi would pursue Jiang any time soon. "It should not be assumed that Xi is now going to purge Jiang. It is more like a shot across the bow to make it clear to Jiang and his followers that Xi is now drawing a line there," Tsang said. ^ top ^

Country's first bishop ordained In 3 years (China Daily)
2015-08-11
The Catholic diocese in Anyang, Henan province, has ordained the country's first Catholic bishop in more than three years-an appointment recognized by the country's religious authorities and the Roman Catholic Church. Father Joseph Zhang Yinlin, 44, was ordained coadjutor bishop of Anyang on Aug 4 in a ceremony attended by more than 1,500 people, including 75 priests and 120 nuns, said Li Jianlin, a spokesman for the Catholic diocese in Henan province. "The Henan diocese has been trying to cultivate younger bishops to preside over its seven subordinate dioceses, since all current bishops are elderly," he said in a phone interview. Zhang was elected as candidate to be coadjutor bishop of Anyang diocese on April 29, and the ceremony was postponed until August "because of the preparation work required," said Li. The event received extensive coverage by Vatican Radio, the voice of the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church. It noted that the ordination was approved by the Vatican. Vatican Radio also noted that the ordination was the first ceremony in three years and the first since the Vatican and China restarted their dialogue in June last year. Zhang said that he would fulfill the responsibility of a coadjutor bishop, and lead the Catholics in the diocese to respect the country's Constitution and safeguard the country's unity and stability. Li said extended efforts from the diocese and close coordination with the authorities contributed to the ordination. "We tried to make ourselves transparent to the authorities, and would invite them to our bimonthly work conferences to let them know what we are doing," he said. He added that for many bishops, the approval from both the Vatican and the government is important. "It would pose a lot a trouble if you are a bishop not recognized by the Vatican," he said. The Henan diocese also has another Vatican-approved candidate for bishop, Father Cosmos Ji Chengyi of the Zhumadian diocese, he said. However, the date for his ordination has not been fixed. "The Zhumadian diocese still does not have a well-maintained church to host the ordination ceremony," he said. "We are still fixing one of the churches as the venue for the ceremony." The Reverend Joseph Zhang Yinlin was ordained a Catholic bishop of Anyang, Henan province, during a ceremony on Aug 4 attended by more than 1,500 people, including 75 priests and 120 nuns. ^ top ^

China jails former Bright Food chief for 18 years for embezzling US$30 million (SCMP)
2015-08-11
A Shanghai court sentenced Wang Zongnan, former chairman of state-owned Bright Food Group, to 18 years in jail for embezzlement and bribery, Xinhua reported on Tuesday. While Wang led state-owned companies Shanghai Friendship Group and Lianhua Supermarket Holdings from 2001 to 2006, he embezzled more than 195 million yuan (US$30.84 million) to set up companies to invest in property for personal gain, Xinhua said in its report on the court proceedings. Wang illegally earned more than 1.2 million yuan, it also said. The court also found Wang accepted more than 2.69 million yuan in bribes, Xinhua said in its report. Wang, who was officially charged last August, was one of China's most high-profile state executives. At Bright Food, Wang helped put the government-owned group on the global map with several acquisitions, including the 2012 deal for a majority stake in British cereal maker Weetabix. Wang's case is an example of the Chinese government's crackdown on corruption. In addition to sentencing Wang to 18 years in prison, the court also seized 1 million yuan in personal assets and ordered Wang to return more than 12 million yuan in illegal income. Wang could not be reached for comment. Shanghai Bright, Shanghai Friendship, now Shanghai Bailian Group, and Lianhua Supermarket did not respond to telephone calls requesting comment. Xinhua's report on the court proceedings said Fosun Group, a subsidiary of Chinese investment company Fosun International, was named by the court. In 2003, Wang's parents bought two villas in Shanghai developed by Fosun at below market prices, Xinhua's report said. The villas, which were bought for 2.08 million yuan in total, were sold for 14.8 million yuan several years later, Xinhua said. The court also found Wang used his position to seek benefits for Fosun Group after Friendship Group set up a joint entity with Shanghai Fosun High Technology (Group), a Fosun subsidiary, Xinhua reported. In an emailed statement on Tuesday, Fosun said it “never sought to inappropriately benefit from cooperation with Friendship Group and never delivered benefits to Wang Zongnan”. Fosun also said it believed the sale price of the villas was appropriately discounted. ^ top ^

China preparing to ordain second bishop amid signs of thaw in ties with Vatican (SCMP)
2015-08-11
China is preparing to ordain a second bishop with the Pope's approval, the spokesman for a Catholic diocese said on Tuesday, a possible sign of easing relations between the Chinese government and the Vatican. The possible ordination in central Henan province of Cosmos Ji Chengyi as bishop of Zhumadian and last week's consecration of Joseph Zhang Yinlin as coadjutor bishop of Anyang follow a strained period between Beijing and Rome since 2011 when the Communist body that governs the church appointed bishops without Vatican approval. China's 8-12 million Catholics are divided into two communities, an official church run by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association answerable to the Communist Party and an underground church that swears allegiance only to the Pope. Zhang was ordained last week as China's first Catholic bishop in more than three years, said Li Jianlin, a priest and spokesman for Henan diocese. He said Zhang and Ji had approval from Rome, although there was no timetable set for Ji's ordination as the church was undergoing “a lot of preparatory work”. “Catholics are thrilled because this is the first time since the founding of Henan province that there has been an ordination ceremony recognised by both sides,” Li said, referring to the approval given by Beijing and the Vatican to Zhang's consecration. Li said the diocese was renovating a church to prepare for Ji's ordination. China's Foreign Ministry and the State Administration for Religious Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The upcoming and previous ordinations were good signs that the Chinese government is more open, said Anthony Lam, a senior researcher at the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong, an organ of the Diocese of Hong Kong. China has not ordained any bishops since Thaddeus Ma Daqin publicly quit the state-sanctioned Catholic Church during his ordination as auxiliary bishop of Shanghai in 2012. The Vatican, which has had no formal diplomatic ties to Beijing since shortly after the Communist Party took power in 1949, has been trying to improve relations with China. The main point of contention between Beijing and the Vatican is which side should have the final say in the appointment of bishops. Another stumbling block is the Holy See's recognition of self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province. Meanwhile, Christians in the eastern province of Zhejiang say authorities have been taking down crosses on churches since last year, creating tension between officials and congregations. ^ top ^

Associate of China's disgraced presidential aide Ling Jihua accused of leaking state secrets (SCMP)
2015-08-12
Another former associate of China's ex-presidential aide Ling Jihua who once worked in the heart of the Communist Party's machine will face prosecution for corruption and leaking party and state secrets, the top anti-graft agency said on Wednesday. Former National Tourism Administration deputy chief Huo Ke, 54, had been expelled from the party, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said, adding that it had handed over evidence to prosecutors for further investigation. Huo was also found to have taken bribes to facilitate personnel reshuffles and business arrangements, the CCDI said. The corruption watchdog announced investigations into Huo in January, at the same time as former senior spy Ma Jian was detained. The investigations into Huo and Ma are believed to be part of a larger probe into Ling, the one-time aide of former president Hu Jintao. Huo was a division head at the Central Committee's General Office until late last year. During his tenure, he came mainly under the leadership of Ling, who was chief of the office. Ling's political career suffered a major setback after his son, Ling Gu, died in a Ferrari car crash in Beijing in 2012. He was sidelined to lead the party's United Front Work Department before being expelled from the party last month and accused of corruption and illegally obtaining party and state secrets. Analysts earlier said the accusation of illegally obtaining - rather than a more serious one of leaking - state secrets could be a leverage to convince Ling's younger brother, Ling Wancheng, to return to the mainland. American media reported last month that Ling Wancheng had fled to the United States with materials that could be of interest to Washington. After Ling was transferred to the United Front Work Department, Huo was moved to take on the role of deputy chief of the National Tourism Administration - an area in which he had no experience. According to Huo's public profile, he had worked at the Beijing military command as a staff technician and later studied journalism at the People's Liberation Army's political academy in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. He was promoted to the party's Secretariat after being a reporter at the Beijing military command's newspaper. The CCDI said Huo had offered bribes to others to boost his career, and that his behaviour had negatively affected the party. On July 31, Ling's successor, President Xi Jinping's chief of staff Li Zhanshu, told the State Archives Administration that the party would "conduct further clean-up work to root out the negative impact from Ling Jihua". "All tasks at the General Office of the party's Central Committee are political," said Li, stressing to cadres the importance staying loyal to the party. ^ top ^

Over 60 missing from NW China landslide (Xinhua)
2015-08-12
Rescuers have dug out four people but more than 60 remain missing after a landslide buried the living quarters of a mining company in Shaanxi Province, northwest China, early Wednesday. All four have been admitted to hospital and in stable conditions. More than 1.3 million cubic meters of earth buried 15 dorms and three houses at around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday at Wuzhou Mining Co. in the mountainous county of Shanyang. Earlier reports put the number missing at 40. Ten people managed to escape by themselves. Zhou Kunlin, one of the 10, said:"I woken up by people shouting about the danger." Zhou said he and several colleagues ran out of the dorm and up the mountain. They were lucky to escape with just minor injuries from the falling stones. "Those who ran down the mountain were buried by the landslide," he said. "Many just had no time, as the landslide buried the area in mere minutes," he added. More than 700 police, firefighters, mining rescuers and paramedics are at the scene. Residents living nearby have been evacuated. Rescue efforts, however, have been hampered by the unstable environment on the surrounding mountain slopes. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have ordered all-out efforts and have warned rescuers to be on guard against secondary disasters. A work team sent by the State Council, China's cabinet, is en route to the site to oversee the search and rescue efforts. Villagers believe excessive mining may be to blame as the region received no rain on Sunday. Shanyang is a vanadium-rich county and several mines are located in the township where the landslide occurred. Residents have often voiced concern about the impact of mining activities on the environment. ^ top ^

China to regulate environment monitoring (Xinhua)
2015-08-12
China will tighten management over environment monitoring agencies in a bid to ensure legitimate, transparent data. Agencies engaged in environment monitoring, both government- and non-governmental entities, must operate within the law, adhere to technical standards and be responsible for the authenticity and accuracy of their data, according to a document released by the State Council on Wednesday. Environmental authorities will seriously punish those breaking rules or falsifying data, it said. Regarding what has been described as "chaotic environmental information" released from different channels and by different standards, the government said it would establish a national environment monitoring network by 2020 for the unified release of environmental data. The Ministry of Environmental Protection will look into local governments involvement in environment monitoring to reduce interference. Some local governments have manipulated environmental data as pollution levels are linked to performance reviews. ^ top ^

Cyber police turn to social media (Global Times)
2015-08-13
A total of 139 official online accounts have been created for provincial or city-level police to help fight cyber crimes, the Ministry of Public Security announced Wednesday. Tasked with Internet inspection, a mission long clouded in obscurity, the accounts, which are on popular forums and social networking services including Weibo and WeChat, are part of a campaign to better communicate with users and ensure online security. Working 24/7, the cyber police teams are obligated to sniff out illegal and harmful information on the Internet, prevent cyber crimes and improper words and deeds online, as well as publish case reports and handle tip-offs. ^ top ^

CPC expands scope of discipline inspections (Xinhua)
2015-08-13
The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Thursday announced a revised regulation on discipline inspections. The rules increase the scope of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) to include heads of leading Party members' groups of higher people's courts and provincial-level procuratorates, leading officials of ministries and key state-owned enterprises and financial firms. In the previous version, the inspections by the CCDI concentrated on leading officials in provincial governments, CPC's provincial-level committees, provincial political advisory bodies and provincial legislature. The new rules were adopted at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in late June. They are the first changes since the regulation was introduced in 2009. The new regulation says inspections will be focus on political rules, Party policies and cliques. Bribery, trading power for personal gain, electoral fraud, buying and selling official posts, and degenerate behavior are also on the radar. Discipline inspection has intensified and has become a major tool to govern the Party in recent years. Officials probed and punished by the CCDI include Wan Qingliang, former Party chief of Guangzhou City in Guangdong Province and Wu Changshun, former vice chairman of the Tianjin Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. ^ top ^

Tragedy raises questions over safety planning (Global Times)
2015-08-14
The explosions in Tianjin may have raised questions over loopholes in the logistics company's safety precautions and the warehouse's location. While Tianjin authorities on Thursday said an investigation into the cause of the explosions is still under investigation, media have reported on questionable practices that may have worsened the disaster, including the company's previous environmental impact assessment, the warehouse's proximity to homes and Tianjin's city planning. […] An environmental impact assessment report obtained by sina.com.cn shows that Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics, a company that handles hazardous materials, turned the over 46,000-square-meter warehouse into a storage facility for dangerous chemicals. The report said that any leakage of chemicals or fire accidents will not cause a "major impact" on the surrounding area or people if appropriate measures will be taken. A loader working for the company said he was not trained to handle dangerous chemicals before the explosions, reported China National Radio. An anonymous insider involved in Tianjin's urban planning said that Tianjin in recent years has overdeveloped the chemical industry, which deviates from its original plan, reported National Business Daily. Ruihai, established in 2011, boasts of over 30 million yuan ($4.69 million) in annual revenue and handles a million tons of cargo every year. It was involved in compressed and liquefied gas (argon and liquefied natural gas), flammable liquids (methyl ethyl ketone, ethyl acetate), flammable solids and matter that would explode when coming in contact with water (sulphur, nitrocellulose, calcium carbide and calcium-silicon) and toxic articles (sodium cyanide). Sodium cyanide found in drains The Beijing News reported that a factory owner said there were at least 700 tons of sodium cyanide stored in the warehouse, and traces of sodium cyanide were found in nearby drains after the blasts. […] Tianjin environmental bureau said all harmful gas indicators had returned to normal as of Thursday from the 17 air quality monitoring stations near the warehouse destroyed by Wednesday night's explosions. "Since the wind is blowing northeast in Tianjin toward the Bohai Sea, we believe the fumes will not reach Beijing," said Wen, Tianjin's environment head. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Help your neighbour, help yourself: Beijing tries to improve its air by cleaning up pollution in nearby Chinese cities (SCMP)
2015-08-13
An old Chinese saying advises people to “sweep the snow from your own door step” and not to worry about others' problems. But Beijing has found it could in fact benefit from helping its neighbours clean up their air. The capital, which has hit a wall in reducing its choking air pollution, has spent 460 million yuan (HK$563 million) on helping its neighbouring cities, Langfang and Baoding in Hebei province, to cut their coal consumption. The money will go towards upgrading large-scale coal-fired boilers and phasing out smaller ones in the two cities, which are among China's top 10 polluted cities, and the move is expected to reduce the cities' coal consumption by 770,000 tonnes this year, according to their local governments. The capital's help rendered to its poorer, more polluted neighbours is only the start of a larger effort as the central government works out an ambitious plan to build Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei into a megacity to address regional development imbalance and worsening air problems. […] Xie said cities should switch from setting pollution-cutting targets to air quality improvement targets. Such targets had proved more effective in developed countries, he said. Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei aim to lower their PM2.5 levels by 25 per cent from 2012 levels by 2017. Beijing mayor Wang Anshun has also vowed to “solve the city's smog problem” by the time it hosts the Winter Olympic Games in 2022. His promise, however, may feel like déjà vu for Beijing residents, as the city's authorities had also pledged to “bring the capital's air quality to a par with cities in developed countries” in time for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Official denies govt forcing Tibetans to wear animal fur (Global Times)
2015-08-11
An official from the Tibet Autonomous Region has denied allegations that they forced Tibetans to wear animal fur at a recent major event, which was alleged to be a deliberate political statement against the Dalai Lama's anti-fur movement. A Sunday report by Radio Free Asia (RFA) quoted a Tibetan living in Belgium as saying that the government of Biru county, in central Tibet, had ordered residents in the region to wear traditional Tibetan attire with fur during a performance at an event to mark the founding of the People's Liberation Army of China on August 1. Zhou Zhanping, head of the Biru county publicity department, told the Global Times that the local government did not issue such an order, and that there were no performances on the August 1 anniversary. The official said the last time local Tibetans wore fur was on July 25 at a local tourism and arts festival. The performers were encouraged to wear traditional clothing during a performance at the festival, he said. Animal fur is often part of their traditional clothing, and was natural for them to use it, he added. Zhou also said that officials never threatened residents that if they did not wear fur, they will be banned from harvesting caterpillar fungi for five years. The RFA report alleged that the local government used that threat as a way to force the Tibetans in the county, since a majority live off selling caterpillar fungi which are highly valued for their purported medicinal benefits. Whether or not Tibetans should continue to wear fur as part of their attire has sparked debate in recent years following a call made by the Dalai Lama during a major religious festival in India in 2006, urging Tibetans to stop wearing animal fur, causing many across Tibet to burn animal skins. In January, controversy surrounding the issue resurfaced after images circulated online showed a number of delegates who appeared to be wearing fur from wild animals as part of their attire during the annual legislative and political advisory sessions in Tibet. The RFA report alleged that local Chinese authorities deliberately defied the Dalaiswit Lama's call by forcing Tibetans to wear fur as "a political show." A Tibet-based expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times that it is common for Tibetans to wear traditional clothing with animal fur during special occasions, and such practices should not be politicized. "Separatist groups and overseas media have always used this traditional practice as an excuse to divide the people in Tibet and rally support," said the expert. "We wear animal fur during important occasions such as weddings or New Year. But young people here are now reluctant to wear fur," a Lhasa resident called Lhadon told the Global Times. Another Tibetan told the Global Times that in recent years, many Tibetans have stopped wearing animal fur because of the growing awareness of animal rights, while some like herself have opted not to wear them also because it was against their religious beliefs. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong privacy chief bemoans legal barriers that stop him from investigating cross-border scams (SCMP)
2015-08-13
Hong Kong's new privacy chief says his hands are tied over an epidemic of telephone scams involving mainland con artists because he has no power to look at cross-border data transactions. Without that power, which is written into law but has remained unimplemented for 20 years, Privacy Commissioner Stephen Wong Kai-yi said the city had to depend on the police to investigate the scams. "In cases where victims' personal data was used but the calls were made outside Hong Kong, it would be difficult for the commission to identify the fraudsters responsible for the calls and investigate the abuse," Wong said in an interview with the South China Morning Post. At present, the commission only has the authority to initiate checks on personal data use within Hong Kong. The commission had received no complaints regarding the phone scams but had been in touch with police with a view to sharing information and offering support, he added. This week, Hong Kong and mainland police set up a joint task force to tackle phone fraud targeting Hongkongers. Police said the victims of the scams had mostly stayed in mainland hotels and patronised entertainment venues where their travel cards must be presented. Fraudsters often tell victims they or their relatives have broken mainland laws before directing them to bogus government websites showing forged arrest warrants and then asking them for money. But it is unknown whether in any cases Hong Kong companies or individuals had sold or leaked data to the mainland fraudsters. Asked if the privacy watchdog would have a role if any Hongkongers were found transferring data in such scams, Wong said the answer was "no", given section 33 of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance was not in effect. That provision prohibits the transfer of personal data to places outside Hong Kong unless one of several stated conditions is met. One such condition would be that the transfer destination was on a list of places with strong data protection laws. The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau has recently said it would take considerable preparation to give effect to the clause. But with industries such as finance increasingly outsourcing data-processing work and rising international privacy concerns stemming from transnational data transfers, it is under pressure to put in place a framework for data protection to keep pace with other regions. Wong said the watchdog would assist the administration in an ongoing business impact assessment. So far no timetable has been specified as to when section 33 will come into force. […]. ^ top ^

Hong Kong sets up commission to probe drinking water incidents (Xinhua)
2015-08-143
Hong Kong's Chief Executive in Council has approved an independent commission to investigate the incidents of excess lead found in drinking water, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Leung Chun-ying said on Thursday. High Court Judge Andrew Chan has been appointed as chairman and commissioner of the Commission of Inquiry, and former ICAC Commissioner and Ombudsman Alan Lai will be the another commissioner, Leung said. The commission is expected to release a report within nine months, and may submit an interim report if necessary, he said. The commission will conduct an in-depth and independent investigation into the incidents of excess lead in public housing' s drinking water, review and evaluate the drinking water's supply regulatory and monitoring system, and make recommendations on drinking water safety. Leung believed the commission will conduct an independent, fair and comprehensive investigation with their qualifications and substantial experience in public service. Leung announced the formation of the commission on July 17, a week after the Housing Department confirmed excessive lead was found in water samples at several Hong Kong housing estates. ^ top ^

 

Economy
China's property market likely to continue recovery, says NDRC (SCMP)
2015-08-10
China's top economic planner said on Monday that the property market was likely to continue to improve in the second half of this year, a good sign for the struggling economy. A year-long slump in the housing market has dragged on the world's second-largest economy, which is widely expected to clock its worst performance in a quarter of a century this year. While home sales and prices have improved in bigger Chinese cities in recent months after a barrage of government support measures, conditions remain weak in smaller cities and a huge overhang of unsold houses is discouraging new investment and construction. “In the second half, the recovery trend in the property market is likely to be sustained, which will create better situation for consumer prices and support factory-gate prices,” the National Development and Reform Commission said on a statement on its website. READ MORE: China's property market climbs for second month in a row Inflation and trade data at the weekend showed domestic demand remained sluggish in July. Annual consumer inflation remained muted at 1.6 per cent despite a surge in pork prices surging, in line with forecasts and slightly higher than June's 1.4 per cent. Producer or factory-gate prices hit their lowest point since late 2009, during the aftermath of the global financial crisis, and have been sliding continuously for more than three years. The price data, along with weak export numbers released at the weekend, have reinforced market expectations that Beijing will have to roll out fresh economic support measures soon if leaders want to meet their 7 per cent growth target for the year. However, the NDRC said it expected consumer prices to stabilise soon and start to pick up in the second half of the year, while declines in producer prices were likely to ease partly due to rising agricultural products' prices and stabilising commodities prices. Chinese leaders are also hoping that increased infrastructure spending will boost activity later this year. ^ top ^

China's central bank devalues the yuan 2 per cent in wake of stock market crash (SCMP)
2015-08-11
China's central bank devalued the yuan on Tuesday, setting the daily mid point yuan trading price a record 1.86 per cent weaker at 6.2298 to the US dollar in the clearest sign yet the government may let the currency soften and aid a stuttering export economy. The government had so far resisted calls from economists to let the currency sink lower as a way to help boost parts of the economy, even as exports crumbled and the country's stock market shrank by 30 per cent. Weekend data revealed an 8.3 per cent year on year decline in China's exports for July. The onshore yuan trading band is tightly controlled. The People's Bank of China set a daily midpoint around which the currency can trade up or down 2 per cent each day. Analysts have said the government wanted the currency stable ahead of possible inclusion into the International Monetary Fund's reserve currency basket. ^ top ^

Bazookas out as China's yuan devaluation sparks fears of regional currency war (SCMP)
2015-08-12
With a dramatic devaluation of the yuan yesterday, Beijing brought out the bazookas in a move that might escalate a regional currency war that it had until now chosen to avoid. The central bank shocked the markets by devaluing the yuan by the most in a day in more than 20 years, setting the daily fixing - the midpoint for the yuan's value against the US dollar - 1.87 per cent lower than Monday's level. The instant devaluation would restore its competitiveness vis-à-vis other Asian currencies such as the Japanese yen and the Korean won that have been weakening over the past year. "Don't think for a moment that the region's activist monetary authorities will absorb this Chinese shift placidly, with the yuan representing a large weight in each and every reference basket," Westpac economist Huw McKay said. Signs of an imminent race to the bottom were evident yesterday as the won fell to its weakest level since June 2012, while the Taiwan dollar dropped to its lowest level in more than five years. The Australian dollar saw its biggest single-day decline in over seven months and the Indian rupee lost the most in two months. […] China is the last major economy to join a low-intensity war of currency weakening in the wake of Japan's decision to allow the yen to soften to make its exports competitive as part of efforts to end two decades of stagnation. While its Asian neighbours have allowed their currencies to slide in varying measures, China kept the yuan steady at about 6.20 to the US dollar, largely because it has been hoping to break into an exclusive club of reserve currencies of the International Monetary Fund. But an IMF report last week indicated that an immediate inclusion was not on the cards and that the multilateral agency would like to see greater capital market reforms, international usage and exchange rate flexibility before letting the yuan in. Beijing's efforts to keep the yuan stable has meant the currency's real effective exchange rate, its inflation-adjusted trade-weighted average value relative to the currencies of the country's trading partners, rose 3 per cent this year and 15 per cent in the past 12 months. DBS economist Nathan Chow said the sharp real rate increase had contributed to sapping economic growth and escalated worries over deflation, forcing Beijing to kick off a devaluation. The euro and the yen have each lost 18 per cent against the US dollar in the past 12 months, making their exports far more competitive. The yuan's devaluation followed poor weekend data showing China's exports were down 8.3 per cent last month and producer prices were into their fourth year of deflation. Joining the reserve currency list could also be an incentive as a more market-oriented yuan would have a higher chance to make it to the high table, Chow said […]. The shock devaluation pushed the US dollar higher, hitting commodity prices and driving crude oil down. With imports to become more expensive for the world's biggest user of energy, metals and grains, traders feared the devaluation could worsen the slump in the commodities market. Gold, however, jumped to a three-week high as investors worried about the risks to the global economy. ^ top ^

China's economic growth falters in July, adding pressure on Beijing for more policy easing (SCMP)
2015-08-12
Growth in China's factory output, investment and retail sales were all weaker than expected in July, adding pressure on Beijing to roll out more measures to prevent a deeper slowdown, days after it shocked markets by devaluing its currency. Nearly all data released for July was weaker than economists had forecast, pointing to further deterioration in the world's second-largest economy. Data for June had fuelled some hopes that activity was stabilising after policymakers unleashed the biggest burst of stimulus since the global financial crisis. “This kind of data will only accentuate the negative outlook that everyone has about the economy," said Louis Kuijs, China economist at Royal Bank of Scotland in Hong Kong. "Many people were expecting an improvement and there is no improvement," Kuijs said. "Things are getting worse rather than getting better. "This kind of data makes it really challenging to achieve the official 7 per cent growth [target] this year." Factory output rose 6 per cent last month from a year earlier, slowing from June's 6.8 per cent rise and hitting a three-month low. Economists had expected a 6.6 per cent rise. Fixed-asset investment disappointed, rising 11.2 per cent in the first seven months against the year-ago period, the weakest pace in nearly 15 years, figures from the National Bureau of Statistics showed yesterday. Markets had expected an 11.5 per cent rise, which would have been a slight improvement from June and put the outlook for the second half of the year on somewhat more solid footing. Property investment growth cooled to 4.3 per cent, the weakest since March 2009, despite a pick-up in housing sales. The investment figure is being closely watched as the government tries to quicken infrastructure spending to shore up growth. Retail sales rose 10.5 per cent last month from the same time last year, slightly below forecasts for 10.6 per cent growth, which would have been even with June's reading. Car sales fell 7.1 per cent even as manufacturers slashed prices. The sluggish activity figures followed disappointing trade and inflation readings earlier this month that showed persistent weakness in the economy despite stimulus measures. The central bank has repeatedly cut interest rates and banks' reserve requirement to boost credit and lower borrowing costs, and further policy easing is expected to avert a sharper slowdown.  ^ top ^

China mulls licensing non-depository lending business (Global Times)
2015-08-12
China is mulling licenses for non-depository lending institutions amid the booming credit market, according to a draft regulation issued by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council on Wednesday. The draft regulation proposed that organizations or individuals not licensed by regulatory authorities should be prohibited from issuing loans. Licensed non-depository lending institutions are not allowed to take deposits in any forms, but should issue loans backed mainly by their equity fund or money raised through bonds, according to the draft. Limited liability companies must have registered capital of no less than 5 million yuan, and share-holding companies no less than 10 million yuan, the draft regulation continued. China's credit market has boomed in recent years, and various non-depository lending institutions have been playing an active role in lending to small and medium sized enterprises, agricultural business and low-income groups. However, a large number of institutions, masquerading as investment consulting firms or investment guarantee companies, are actively lending under lax supervision, leading to many cases of illegal fund-raising. In 2009, a Chinese tycoon, Wu Ying, was sentenced to death for cheating investors out of 380 million yuan (61.1 million US dollars) in private lending scams. Her sentence was eventually commuted to life imprisonment. The draft regulation has been released for public opinion. The public can give their opinions via chinalaw.gov.cn until Sept. 12. ^ top ^

Credit rating agency Standard & Poors praises Chinese yuan devaluation (SCMP)
2015-08-143
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's praised China's devaluation of its currency on Wednesday and says the move does not threaten a currency war. “China's surprise move to allow for more exchange rate flexibility makes good economic sense and is not the start of a currency war or an attempt to jump-start growth,” S&P said. On Tuesday Beijing surprised global financial markets by devaluing its currency the yuan by nearly 2 per cent against the US dollar. A second cut on Wednesday brought reductions this week in the yuan to 3.5 per cent against the dollar to its lowest level in four years. The move to allow more flexible trading “could help maintain the flexibilty of the country's monetary policy as cross-border financial flows increase”, S&P said. The shift is part of an effort to comply with conditions set by the International Monetary Fund to qualify the Chinese currency in the IMF's “special drawing rights” basket. China wants to expand use of the yuan by having it included in the SDR, an international reserve asset that currently comprises four currencies: the dollar, euro, pound and yen. However, the IMF has been pressing China for greater liberalization in the yuan to win membership. S&P rejected arguments that the devaluation was motivated by a desire to boost Chinese exports. “The argument that China is trying to spur growth by weakening its currency to spur exports does not strike us as very convincing,” said Paul Gruenwald, S&P's chief economist for Asia-Pacific. “Exports are more a function of foreign demand, with the exchange rate playing a secondary role. There is no reason for that relationship to have changed.” The IMF praised China's moves this week, with a spokesman calling the shift “a welcome step as it should allow market forces to have a greater role in determining the exchange rate”. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Parliament of Mongolia adopts laws on Fire Arms and Supporting Economic Transparency (Infomongolia)
2015-08-10
At the irregular plenary session of the State Great Khural (Parliament) held on August 07, 2015, it was discussed and ratified two draft laws submitted by Legal and Budget standing committees. The first issue reviewed and adopted was the final reading of the Law on Fire Arms and its affiliated draft laws. The law introduction prepared by Legal Standing Committee for a final reading was introduced by MP Ts.Oyungerel. During the discussion there no proposals and inquiries were forwarded by parliamentarians and the Law on Fire Arms and its affiliated laws were adopted by majority members. The second discussed issue was the final reading of draft Law on “Supporting Economic Transparency” and the law introduction prepared by Budget standing committee for a final reading was read by MP B.Narankhuu. During the discussion, it was agreed to remove a provision No. 4.1.7. “Anti-Corruption Law” and accordingly, some affiliated provisions were also withdrew. After exchanging opinions and positions, the law on "Supporting Economic Transparency" was adopted by majority members of the parliament, reports the Press and Public Relations Department of the State Great Khural. ^ top ^

Mongolia to deploy the Second shift of military servicemen for the “Resolute Support” mission in Afghanistan (Infomongolia)
2015-08-10
The Second shift of Mongolian Armed Forces to participate in the "Resolute Support" mission in Afghanistan. Above one hundred military servicemen of the new shift have paid tribute to the Grand Flag of the Mongolian Armed Forces on August 06, 2015. Vice-Chairman of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces, Major General B.Bayarmagnai, the Chairmen of Strategy Policy Planning and Foreign Cooperation Departments of the Defense Ministry, Colonel G.Saikhanbayar and Brigadier-General Ch. Sosorbaram, as well as other officials and relatives of the peacekeepers attended in the ceremony. Major General B.Bayarmagnai said in his address: “It has been 12 years since Mongolia first participated in peacekeeping operations. During this time, 12,000 troops honorably fulfilled their peacekeeping duties. 95% of servicemen of this shift have direct experience of peacekeeping missions. I want all of you to serve your duties successfully." Colonel G.Saikhanbayar also wished the troops well, and handed a traditional silver bowl and blue "Khadag" (Buddhist silk scaft) to Lieutenant Colonel D.Sukhbat, the commander of the contingent. "Resolute Support" is a NATO-led non-combat, training, advisory, and assistance mission consisting of 12,500 soldiers in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, which began on January 1, 2015. It is a follow-on mission to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which was completed on December 28, 2014. ^ top ^

Parliament of Mongolia adopts Law on Amnesty behind the closed doors (Infomongolia)
2015-08-11
On August 11, 2015, the Legal Standing Committee of the State Great Khural (Parliament of Mongolia) discussed the final reading of the draft Law on Pardon behind the closed doors. At the afternoon plenary session, the final reading of the draft Law on Pardon, which is effective from the date of adoption, was also discussed and ratified behind the closed doors. Consequently, a parliament resolution to form a Commission on Pardons was agreed to consider at the standing committee's meeting. Moreover, if an issue to appoint some members of government is submitted, the Council under Chairman of the Parliament will renew the agenda for this week. ^ top ^

Mongolia and China planning on establishing economic freezone (Montsame)
2015-08-11
On Monday, the Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat presented to the cabinet the works of Mongolia-China working group in charge of studying the matter of establishing a Cross-Border Economic Cooepration Freezone, basing on Zamyn-Uud and Ereen border ports. Establishing such a freezone has been agreed by the Memorandum of Understanding signed during the visit of the Chinese president Xi Jinping to Mongolia, held in August of 2014. The working group has held three meetings and studies the practices of the “Khorgos” crossborder freezone of China and Kazakhstan. They have also taken part in the investors' forums, held in Zamyn-Uud of Mongolia and in Inner Mongolia of China. In 2014, a total of trades worth one billion US dollars, 1.9 million passengers, 522 thousand vehicles and 400 thousand trains crossed Zamyn-Uud port. Taking the fact into account, the working group considered that a base condition for establishing crossborder freezone has been provided in the region. ^ top ^

 

Mrs. Mirjam Eggli
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
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