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
  17-21.8.15, No. 584  
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Foreign Policy

Malaysia says ASEAN ready to forge closer trade ties with China (Xinhua)
2015-08-21
Southeast Asian countries will further strengthen trade relations with China despite present economic challenges and currency fluctuations, a senior Malaysian official said here Thursday. Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed, who chairs the economic ministers' meeting among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this week, said China is a very important player and trading partner to the world, and not just for Malaysia. ASEAN's major trading partners including China is expected to join the meeting later, to discuss ways to strengthen regional economic cooperation. ASEAN, established in 1967, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ^ top ^

Beijing rejects 'hugely irresponsible' speculation that Uygur militants were behind Bangkok bombing (SCMP)
2015-08-20
China has slammed "hugely irresponsible" Thai media reports that Uygur separatists carried out Monday's deadly bomb attack in Bangkok. Beijing's first comments on the bombing, which killed 20 people and injured more than 120, came as Thai authorities said they no longer believed international terrorists were behind the atrocity. "Don't you think it is hugely irresponsible for anyone to draw a conclusion without any evidence?" a spokeswoman for the Chinese embassy told the South China Morning Post yesterday in response to media reports suggesting a "revenge motive" by militants from the troubled Xinjiang region after Thailand deported 109 Uygurs back to China last month. "The Thai authorities are still investigating now; no one should jump to such a conclusion at this stage," she said. Thailand's junta said they suspected at least 10 plotters were involved in the attack on the Erawan Shrine, which was crowded with tourists, but Chinese nationals were not the "direct target". "The security agencies have collaborated with intelligence agencies from a lot of countries and have come to the same preliminary conclusion that the incident is unlikely to be linked to international terrorism," military spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said yesterday in a televised statement. ^ top ^

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Thursday met Igor Sechin, the chief of Russian oil company Rosneft, to discuss energy cooperation (Xinhua)
2015-08-20
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Thursday met Igor Sechin, the chief of Russian oil company Rosneft, to discuss energy cooperation. Zhang said that energy cooperation was an important part of the China-Russia all-round strategic cooperation partnership. He attributed the many breakthroughs in energy cooperation to the direct attention and effort by both heads of state. In 2014, the total volume of oil trade between the two countries topped 33 million tonnes. The East Route of the China-Russia natural gas pipeline is under construction, Zhang said, adding that both sides are actively engaged in talks on other major cooperative projects, including China's acquisition of stakes in the Vankor oil field, Tianjin joint venture refinery plant as well as increasing Russia oil export to China. Sechin, who is also head of the energy and environment board under President Vladimir Putin, said the Russian side was ready to boost oil exploration, pipeline construction, oil refinery, energy equipment and safety cooperation with China. ^ top ^

China's DF-41 long-range nuclear missile 'closer to operational' (SCMP)
2015-08-20
The military has again tested its newest long-range missile in what could mark a big step forward in the PLA's nuclear capabilities. The People's Liberation Army tested the Dongfeng-41 (DF-41) intercontinental ballistic missile, which can carry multiple warheads, on August 6, US website The Washington Free Beacon reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed US defence officials. The DF-41 can hit any US city and is one of China's most powerful nuclear missiles. It was the fourth time the missile had been tested in three years, and a successful test would mean it was closer to becoming operational, the report said. The test was significant because it confirm ed the missile's ability to deploy multiple warheads, the report quoted US defence officials as saying. The website's previous reports on Chinese missile tests were later confirmed by Chinese state media. The Pentagon expected the missile to be ready for deployment as early as this year, the report said. With an estimated range of 12,000km, one missile can carry up to 10 warheads that can separate from the body of the rocket and target individual destinations in the final stage of flight, making defence difficult. The mobile missile could also be transported by road, allowing it to be hidden easily before deployment, the report said. The test comes ahead of a military parade in Beijing next month to commemorate the end of the second world war. […]The PLA launched its last comprehensive test of the missile in December. That test involved MIRVs, or multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, which can hold several warheads. The Second Artillery Corps, the PLA's strategic missile force, also reportedly held at least two other DF-41 tests at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi province in 2013 and 2012. According to the Pentagon's annual report to the US Congress on China's military this year, the Second Artillery Corps has between 50 and 60 ICBMs. The report said the DF-41 was "possibly capable of carrying MIRVs". The Ministry of National Defence could not be reached for comment. At the opening of the National People's Congress in March, General Zhang Haiyang, former political commissar of the Second Artillery Corps, said China should develop nuclear weapons, adding that the PLA "will have greater development and expansion in the next five-year plan". The missile's previous model, the DF-31, was estimated to have a range of 10,000km, allowing it to reach the west coast of the United States and European capitals. ^ top ^

China, Russia to hold joint navy drill in Sea of Japan (Global Times)
2015-08-20
The Chinese and Russian navies are set to hold one of their largest joint exercises on Thursday. The drills, code-named Joint Sea 2015 II, will take place from Thursday to August 28 in the Sea of Japan, Peter the Great Gulf, the sea's largest gulf, and in waters off Clerk Cape. Dispelling speculation from the Western media, analysts said the exercises are defensive in nature and that military cooperation between China and Russia does not intend to challenge the regional status-quo. […] The Xinhua News Agency quoted sources close to the operation as saying that the drills "are not targeted at any third party and are not relevant to regional status-quo." "The joint naval exercises between China and Russia are defensive in nature. The drills are not aimed at challenging the US-Japan Alliance in East Asia. They are very much acts of defense in response to the changing regional situation and the transitioning global order," Yang Cheng, a professor of Russian Studies at the East China Normal University, told the Global Times. […] Wu Dahui, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University, said the security aspect of Sino-Russian relations has not changed in nature. "Ever since the Ukraine Crisis broke out, the West has been saying that Russia and China are growing closer. It is true that there have been substantial improvements in terms of the economy, especially the energy sector. But in terms of security, the very nature of Sino-Russian relations, a strategic and cooperative partnership, has not changed," Wu told the Global Times. Japan agitated The drills may have agitated Japan as Japan's maritime self-defense force allegedly dispatched planes and vessels to film the Chinese warships as they passed through the Tsushima Strait heading to Peter the Great Gulf on Monday. Wang Shaopu, a scholar of Japanese Studies at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said Japan's vigilance over the joint exercises stems from its belief that the security of East Asia should be led by the US-Japan Alliance. He added that this belief is based on a Cold-War mentality and regional security should be built on multilateral cooperation, rather than on military alliance. The two Joint Sea-2015 drills also coincide with Russia's parade in commemoration of the defeat of Nazi Germany on May 9 and China's military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) on September 3. Dispelling speculation that the drills are to show military prowess, Zhang said the naval exercises have no direct links to the parades. According to Xinhua, six ship-borne helicopters, five fixed-wing aircraft, 21 units of amphibious equipment and 200 marines will also join the exercises from the Chinese side. The Russian navy will send 16 surface ships, two submarines, nine units of amphibious equipment and 200 marines to participate in the drills. ^ top ^

US should view 'Fox Hunt' anti-graft operation impartially: ministry (Global Times)
2015-08-20
The Chinese government hoped the US could view China's anti-graft effort of hunting down fugitives that fled the country impartially, following a US report claiming the Obama administration had demanded China to stop its anti-graft operation in the US. "Strengthening cooperation on anti-corruption and hunting down economic fugitives, corrupt officials and huge amounts of State assets is a consensus reached by international leaders during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and G20 Summit," the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Global Times on Wednesday. China attaches great importance to such consensus and has launched a series of cooperation with other countries' leaders and their law enforcement departments based on the law of those countries, the ministry said. "We hope the US could impartially look at China's efforts to cooperate on anti-graft operation and hunt down related suspects and recover assets." The New York Times reported on Sunday that the US government had sent a warning to Chinese officials in recent weeks and demanded a halt to the agents' activities aimed at bringing back suspects who fled China with huge amounts of State assets. It quoted anonymous officials as saying that China's agents were operating covertly in the US and that China had not provided the requested evidence for the US to help hunt down fugitives. However, China in March had said that it had provided a "priority" list to the US of Chinese officials who are suspected of corruption and are believed to have fled to the US, which analysts have hoped to help with repatriation. A Xinhua commentary commented on Monday that the US government made a "regrettable move" by halting China's anti-corruption operation as it is "legitimate and has been approved in a bilateral agreement reached earlier this year," and that "Washington lacks sincerity and has failed to translate its words into action." A total of 680 fugitives suspected of economic crimes have been repatriated to China from overseas as a result of the transnational "Fox Hunt" operation launched from July to December last year. A new operation, codenamed "Sky Net," announced in March, continues the work of "Fox Hunt." ^ top ^

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor gains momentum in Pakistan (Xinhua)
2015-08-19
The Construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is now gaining momentum in Pakistan after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the country in April, companies involved in the massive project said. The CPEC, a 3,000-km network of roads, railways and pipelines linking Kashgar in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and southwest Pakistan's Gwadar Port, is also a major project of China-proposed "Belt and Road" initiative […] The 1.65-billion-dollar Karot hydropower plant, the first investment project of the Silk Road Fund, is being developed by the China Three Gorges Corporation. Construction of the 720 MW project will begin at the end of this year and the plant is expected to be put into operation in 2020. The Port Qasim coal-fired power plant, the first started project in the energy sector under the CPEC framework, is being constructed by Powerchina Resources Limited. The 2.085-billion- dollar project would start operation by the end of 2017. According to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the CPEC projects are very important for power supplies in the country. He said earlier this month when meeting a Chinese delegation that Pakistan would be able to overcome energy crisis with the cooperation of its brotherly neighbor. Tangible progress has also been made in transport infrastructure. China Road and Bridge Corporation told Xinhua that realignment project of the Karakorum Highway (KKH) at Attabad Barrier Lake is going to be completed by the end of this month. Prime Minister Sharif is expected to inaugurate the project. The KKH, the only land route between China and Pakistan, will re-open to traffic after being cut off by a barrier lake for over five years. The Economic Coordination Committee of Pakistan's cabinet said on Aug. 12 that contracts for constructing two other road projects of the CPEC worth 3.5 billion U.S. dollars will be awarded to Chinese companies through bidding. The two projects, 2.6-billion-dollar Karachi-Lahore Motorway and 920-million-dollar Karakoram Highway upgrade Phase-II, are earmarked for early completion under the CPEC framework. Last month Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif inspected the under-construction road network as part of the CPEC. According to the army, 502 km out of the 870-km road network linking the Gwadar Port with the rest of the country have been completed by Frontier Works Origination (FWO). […] For industrial cooperation, the two countries are planning industrial parks. According to local media, the Pakistani government has proposed 29 industrial parks and 21 mineral economic processing zones in all four provinces. A joint working group would decide and identify the industrial parks, said Pakistani Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal, who hailed the CPEC as a "game changer" and a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity for Pakistan. The Pakistani government has shown strong willingness to push forward the construction of the CPEC. […] ^ top ^

Chinese companies create 6,000 jobs in Namibia: ambassador (Xinhua)
2015-08-18
Chinese companies operating in Namibia have created more than 6,000 jobs for locals, Chinese ambassador to Namibia Xin Shunkang has said. Xin said in an interview with Xinhua, that trade between the two countries has been mutually beneficial with Chinese investment contributing to the development of Namibia's industry while Namibia has helped China expand its overseas market. According to the ambassador, there are about 46 Chinese companies operating in Namibia in the formal economy led by Swakop Uranium which is investing 2.5 billion U.S. dollars in the world-class Husab mine. Swakop Uranium is majority owned by the Chinese state-owned China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corp. Besides mining, Chinese companies also invest in other industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and construction. Xin said Namibia has become one of the most important trade partners of China among the African countries. The trade volume between the two countries reached 863 million dollars in 2014 with Namibia exporting 318 million dollars worth of goods to China and importing 545 million dollars worth of products from the Asian economic giant. From January to May 2015, the trade volume between the two countries stood at 286 million dollars, an increase of 0.56 percent compared to the same period last year. Namibia mainly exports ores, nonferrous metal, aquatic products, fur skins and leather products to China while importing textile products, furniture, machinery and electronic items. Trade between the two countries is set to increase after the signing of an agreement earlier this month that allows Namibian beef to enter the Chinese market. Namibia is a world class producer of prime free range beef. ^ top ^

China expresses dissatisfaction over Abe statement (Global Times)
2015-08-17
China's foreign ministry and official media have expressed dissatisfaction over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. "Japan should have made an explicit statement on the nature of the war of militarism and aggression and its responsibility on the wars, made sincere apology to the people of victim countries, and made a clean break with the past of militarist aggression, rather than being evasive on this major issue of principle." foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference on Friday. In a commentary also released Friday, the official Xinhua News Agency said "Abe's watered-down apology fails sincerity test" and that "no real reconciliation in East Asia will be possible so long as Tokyo is viewed as a denier of its past crimes." In a closely watched speech to mark the 70th anniversary of WWII's end on Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he upheld past government apologies for Japan's wartime past. But Chinese analysts said he "had chosen his words in a way to circumvent directly admitting to the world of Japan's wartime aggression." Abe also said that Japan must not allow its future generations to "be predestined to apologize." Ma Sanyi, 90, a war veteran from Hunan Province, central China, said, "We should watch Abe's actions rather than just listening to his words," Xinhua reported. "The Japanese government should admit their false stance on the Diaoyu Islands, refrain from visiting the Yasukuni Shrine and stop revising textbooks to gloss over history," Ma said. Seventy years have passed, and "it is time for Japan to show some real sincerity," Ma said. "The lack of a direct apology for its wartime aggression and colonial rule has caused countries like China to feel skeptical about Abe's sincerity," Liu Jiangyong, vice director of the Modern International Relations Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times. The South Korean President Park Geun-hye has also expressed disappointment by saying that Abe's remarks "left much to be desired." Speaking on Saturday at a ceremony in Seoul, Park called on Abe to reiterate Japan's apologies for abuses during its wartime occupations of neighboring countries. "History can never be covered up. History remains alive through its witnesses' vivid testimony," she said. ^ top ^

China, US hold 19th human rights dialogue (Xinhua)
2015-08-16
China and the United States have held the 19th Human Rights Dialogue in Washington to discuss the human rights situations in both countries and exchanged views in a candid and professional manner, the Chinese delegation said Friday. The two sides exchanged views in depth in a candid and professional manner on the new developments in the human rights situations in both countries, legal and conceptual perspectives of human rights, multifaceted cooperation in the human rights sphere, rights and commitments of the freedom of speech, religious freedom, anti-racism, counterterrorism and fighting violent extremism, among other things, the delegation said in a news release. It was agreed that the dialogue helped enhance mutual understanding on each other's human rights issues. The Chinese delegation stressed at the dialogue that each country should choose its own path of human rights development suiting one's national realities and the demand of its people, which should not be imposed upon by other countries. China and the US should take a comprehensive and objective view on each other's human rights situation and handle their differences in a constructive way through dialogues and cooperation, to facilitate the developing of a new type of major-country relationship between the two countries, said the Chinese delegation. During the talks, the Chinese side pointed out the human rights problems in the US, such as racial discrimination, excessive use of force by police, and the violation of the human rights of other countries through massive surveillance activities. The dialogue was attended by dozens of senior officials from a number of government bureaus, including law enforcement departments. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai also attended the event and made remarks at the opening ceremony on Thursday. The dialogue was co-hosted by Li Junhua, director-general of International Organizations and Conference of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tom Malinowski, US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human rights and Labor. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Xi Jinping's reforms encounter fierce resistance, Chinese state media say (SCMP)
2015-08-21
President Xi Jinping's wide-ranging reform push, covering everything from politics to the military, has come up against "unimaginably" fierce resistance, according to a tersely worded commentary carried by state media on Thursday. In unusually strong language, the article said the reforms were at a critical stage and had encountered immense difficulties, affecting the interests of various groups. "The in-depth reform touches the basic issue of reconfiguring the lifeblood of this enormous economy and is aimed at making it healthier," the article said. "The scale of the resistance is beyond what could have been imagined." The commentary was attributed to "Guoping", an apparent pen name used by state media to comment on major state and Communist Party issues. It appeared in state media including the websites of CCTV and Guangming Daily. Observers said the commentary suggested the reforms had not achieved the desired results and were opposed by various factions. Xu Yaotong, a political science professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the publication came amid concerns the anti-corruption campaign, which had targeted several top military officials and politicians, was waning and that other reforms had attracted opposition. […] He said the resistance could be from any of three powerful groups: retired leaders who wanted to exert influence, cadres whose power had been weakened and civil servants unhappy with austerity rules. The publication comes after a series of People's Daily articles this month criticising retired cadres for continuing to exert influence behind the scenes. It also follows the end of the annual agenda-setting gathering of the party elite in the Hebei seaside resort of Beidaihe. Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said the commentary signalled that "things are not going well". "Obviously they did not reach any consensus at the political activities in Beidaihe. Different groups are pursuing their own ways," he said. "This is a test of the leadership's ability to execute its mission." Zhang said the goal of having the market play a decisive role in the "allocation of resources" was one case of a target that was still a long way off. "The reform has to address politics and the economy at the same time. If the political system does not change, then inertia in the bureaucracy will just send the reform around in circles," he said. Renmin University political science professor Zhang Ming said the reform push had not only failed to deliver results, it might have gone backwards. "There's resistance not just to the reforms, there's other resistance too," he said. ^ top ^

Water at Tianjin blast site contaminated (Global Times)
2015-08-21
Eight out of 42 water quality monitoring sites set up around the Tianjin blast area reported presence of highly-toxic cyanide exceeding the standard, with one site exceeding 356 times the normal level, authorities announced Thursday. Deng Xiaowen, head of Tianjin's environment monitoring center, said at a Thursday press conference that 25 of the 42 water quality monitoring sites set near the blast sites have detected cyanide, and eight found the cyanide content to exceed the normal standard set by the municipal environment authorities for wastewater discharge and surface water quality. Five sites in the offshore area found that the cyanide content was within limit, with no significant change compared with previous records, Deng said. Tian Weiyong, head of the emergency response center with the ministry of environmental protection, said cofferdams have been built to block cyanide-tainted water in the blast zone. Authorities have also closed sewage outlets to the sea and used cement to block all drain outlets at the blast site to avoid pollution of water outside the site. The tainted water will not be discharged if it is not safe to do so, according to Tian. Pollutants have also been found in the 276 air samples collected between Wednesday and Thursday, including toluene, hydrogen cyanide and volatile organic compounds. However, monitoring sites near the explosion area showed that the substances have not exceeded the limit, officials said at the meeting. Meanwhile, local authorities have refuted public speculation about the possible pollution of water with cyanide after a large amount of dead fish were found floating in the upstream of Tianjin Haihe River Thursday. Officials said that sample tests did not detect presence of cyanide. The Global Times reporter on the site found that the dead fish were spread across an area of about 100 meters long and all of the same variety. Some officials at the scene told reporters that the fish is called stickleback and is very sensitive to the environment. Deng said the reasons behind the dead fish will be investigated, adding that this is not the first time dead fish are found in the upstream of the river as the water condition is not suitable for the fish at certain times. […] Gao Donglu, a deputy political commissar with the Beijing Military Region, told the Global Times that the public and media should understand that the dead fish is a type of natural phenomenon and should not read too much into it. […]. ^ top ^

Extortion charges filed against 30 Chinese media execs, workers (Global Times)
2015-08-21
Shanghai prosecutors on Thursday filed charges against 30 people from Chinese media for extortion. Among those charged were Shen Hao, former publisher of 21st Century Business Herald, Liu Dong, former president of 21cbh.com, and Xia Ri, former Money Week publisher, the Xinhua News Agency reported. In September 2014, Shanghai's public security bureau announced on Weibo that they had detained Shen and 21st Century Business Herald general manager Chen Dongyang with the help of police from Guangdong Province. The two were arrested along with the publication's editor-in-chief as well as two sales staff. China Central Television (CCTV) had reported Shen confessed that "as a journalist and media manager, I violated the basic requirements of professional integrity, and I deeply regret breaking my oath to journalism." The Guangdong-based 21st Century Media Co Ltd runs 21st Century Business Herald, Money Week and 21cbh.com, which claims on its website to be "the largest professional media operator in the Chinese financial and business media industry." The publications' licenses were revoked in May, as China's press regulator said that they had forced clients to sign advertisement and service contracts by threatening to publish negative news. Irregular management practices were also found in the 21st Century Business Herald, the press regulator added. Under State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television regulations, which manages the practices of all journalists in China, press credentials will be revoked when media organizations act illegally. Chinese authorities have been cracking down on extortion in the media and paid news articles. Other problems discovered included press cards issued to people who are not journalists, and newspaper websites link to advertisement or public relations agencies. ^ top ^

China cabinet stresses post-blast management, investigation (Xinhua)
2015-08-20
China's cabinet has called for competent post-blast management to "absolutely prevent" major environmental incidents while promising to pin down every one behind the tragic event. "Operations are still in a key phase, and the follow-up management is also extremely complicated and arduous," said a statement released after a meeting of the State Council, the cabinet. The meeting was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. While stressing treatment for the injured, the statement urged authorities concerned to maintain full efforts to identify every person on the missing and victim list. "The most advanced equipment and the most competent professional forces should expand the scope of the search for harmful substances, safely dispose of dangerous goods and conduct safety evaluations and clean surrounding buildings," it said. Last Wednesday night, two explosions destroyed a warehouse in north China's Tianjin Municipality where hundreds of tonnes of toxic chemicals were stored, including roughly 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide. "Major environmental incidents that harm people's health should be absolutely prevented," the statement said, calling for real-time monitoring and timely release of air, water and land data. Firefighters who lost their lives in the disaster will be honored and their families should be given the same compensations. The Tianjin municipal government was told to draft plans to deal with damaged buildings and compensate victims as quickly as possible and publicize information on post-blast management in an accurate and timely manner. "Causes of the accident should be fully investigated, and the liabilities of each individual involved must be pursued," the statement said, citing key aspects such as the certifications for the company's business changes, safety evaluation, environmental assessment and the management of dangerous goods. "Liabilities of those committing dereliction of duty or unruly acts should also be pursued so as to give people satisfying closure," it added. Local government departments across the country were told to strengthen supervision over production safety, food and drugs and other key fields concerning people's lives. Local authorities were told to rectify risks with the "strictest" standards and map out better emergency response plans. ^ top ^

MOE sued for textbooks describing homosexuality as a "disorder" (Xinhua)
2015-08-20
A college student in south China's Guangdong Province is suing the Ministry of Education (MOE) in order to eliminate textbooks describing homosexuality as a "disorder that should be treated". The female college student used the alias Qiu Bai when filing the case to prevent exposure of personal information to the Chinese public, who are largely conservative and sensitive toward homosexuality. Qiu's frustrations began when seeking out answers on her doubts about her sexual orientation at the library. Almost every book she consulted categorized homosexuality as a mental disorder, with some even suggesting electroshock therapy to cure the "disease". On May 14, Qiu applied to the MOE asking them to clarify what regulations are in place to supervise such content. However, her request received no response in the required limit of 15 days. She responded with a lawsuit against the ministry. "Homosexuals are already under great pressure. Additional stigma from textbooks will cause direct harm. The MOE should bear the duty to monitor and supervise such content," Qiu said. Qiu's application has been received by the Beijing Municipal No.1 Intermediate People's Court and is pending further procedure. Textbooks in Guangdong Province are not the only instance of outdated thinking on homosexuality. Roughly 40 percent of 90 textbooks published after 2001 prescribe treating homosexuality as a disorder. Half of the textbooks insist its a disease that can be cured through therapy, according to an investigation by the Gay and Lesbian Campus Association, a non-governmental organization. Medical and scientific organizations worldwide have concluded that homosexuality is not a mental illness but rather a sexual orientation. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from the disorder list from the Sexual Deviancy section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973. The World Health Organization listed homosexuality as a mental illness in 1977, and in 1990, a resolution was adopted to remove it. ^ top ^

China legal chief urges "better environment" for lawyers (Xinhua)
2015-08-20
China needs "a better environment" for lawyers to conduct their work but also more regulation of their practices, senior legal affairs official Meng Jianzhu said at a national meeting on the subject on Thursday. Meng, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said lawyers' rights ordained by the law should be "rightfully fulfilled," citing the examples of reviewing case documents, contacting clients, collecting evidence, and questioning and defending during trials. According to the legal chief, lawyers' opinions should be better respected during investigation, prosecution and hearing. Meanwhile, Meng stressed that lawyers' practices directly influence the public image of the profession, people's belief in rule of law and confidence in social justice, urging them "to obey laws and regulations, stick to facts and exercise cautions in words and deeds." "Judicial workers and lawyers are key components of our socialist legal team, undertaking the task of protecting people's lawful interests, ensuring correct implementation of the law and promoting justice," he said. Meng urged political and legal affairs organs to help establish "a new relationship" between judicial staff and lawyers so that they can "respect, support, supervise, treat each other equally and maintain normal communications and positive interactions." China has about 270,000 lawyers, a number increasing annually at 10 percent for seven consecutive years. The number of law firms has reached 22,000. ^ top ^

Owners of firm that ran Tianjin warehouse used connections to gain their permits (SCMP)
2015-08-20
One of the main controllers of the logistics company at the centre of last week's deadly warehouse blasts in Tianjin has admitted that his father was the city port's former police chief and that he had good connections with the public security and fire services authorities. Dong Shexuan - who was detained by police for his involvement in Ruihai International Logistics, which operated the dangerous-goods warehouse - said he held a 45 per cent stake in the company through his high school classmate and Tianjin public servant Shu Zheng. "I wanted to maintain a low profile because my father worked in [Tianjin Port's] Public Security Bureau, and there would be a negative impact if others knew about it," Xinhua quoted Dong, 34, as saying from the Tianjin No1 Detention Centre. Dong said his father, Dong Peijun, who died from liver cancer in August last year, had been under investigation. Another Ruihai controller, former Sinochem Group senior executive Yu Xuewei, held a 55 per cent stake through his wife's cousin Li Liang. Yu, who worked in Sinochem Tianjin from 1994 to 2012, left the state-owned oil company to form Ruihai with Dong. Yu was familiar with the chemical logistics industry while Dong was well connected with the police and firefighting departments as well as other authorities, Yu told Xinhua. The pair leveraged their connections to obtain the necessary certifications, Xinhua reported. Ruihai even operated for months without a valid permit after its temporary one expired, before it was issued a formal permit in June. "But the operation of the dangerous-substances storage was not affected," Yu said. A safety review of Ruihai conducted last year and obtained by the 21st Century Business Herald said the selection of the warehouse's site was in line with the city's development plan and rules. The review - by 10 people from Zhongbin Haisheng, one of Tianjin's two licensed safety review agencies - concluded Ruihai had "a rather sound safety management system". Zhongbin Haisheng has strong government connections, including with the Tianjin Firefighting Institute, which is under the Ministry of Public Security, the Herald report said. Businesses handling dangerous chemicals are required to site their warehouses at least 1km from public buildings, transport lines or factories. But Ruihai's warehouse in the Binhai New Area was about 600 metres from a residential area, a highway and a light rail line. All were damaged in the massive blasts last Wednesday night. ^ top ^

Courts ordered to report interfering officials (China Daily)
2015-08-20
Chinese courts have been told to record, report and blame officials who interfere in cases or with judicial work, under a new guideline issued by the country's top court on Wednesday. The guideline orders all courts to tackle cases independently, to keep verdicts away from external interference, and to refuse to carry out illegal instructions from any institution or individual, according to the Supreme People's Court. The officials mentioned in the guideline include those working for Party, legislative, administrative, military and procuratorial departments, and leading officers at State-owned enterprises and social organizations, as well as retired officials. If the officials, their relatives or colleagues want to give opinions on a case or interfere in judicial actions by a court, the court must keep all material related to the case and make a record for permanent storage and review under the guideline, which takes effect on Thursday. Every court must also set up a database to log inquiries from officials or external staff members. Their names or titles should be clearly written down along with their place of employment when they give advice for a case. Their opinions should also be recorded. Courts should also make a record of ways in which people advise or comment on the judicial work for a case, such as via e-mail, micro blogs, text messages and by WeChat. When advice or comments are spoken, court officials must note where the discussion has taken place and ask all personnel there to sign confirmation about the discussions. Courts ordered to report interfering officials Under the guideline, grassroots courts should update their databases covering external staff members and analyze inquiries related to these employees every three months before making a report to higher courts. If courts find officials are suspected to have interfered in judgments or with judicial work, which may result in wrongful verdicts, they must report this to the top court. It is the first time that the Supreme People's Court has brought in specific rules to regulate ways of recording and reporting those who interfere in cases, said Cheng Lei, an associate law professor at Renmin University of China. Cheng praised the guideline, saying it will help to avoid cases being "disturbed" by local governments or those wanting to use money to solve disputes. "It will also enforce judicial reforms put forward by the leadership in 2013, ensuring courts' judgments are fair," he said. But Cheng said penalties under the guideline are still limited, as judicial officials will merely be criticized or given disciplinary punishment by a court if they refuse to comply with the guideline. The guideline only says that those who interfere externally will be blamed, but does not clarify specific punishments, he said. ^ top ^

Chinese vice-president Li Yuanchao's former aide sacked for 'corrupting others' (SCMP)
2015-08-17
An associate of China's Vice-President Li Yuanchao was on Friday expelled from the Communist Party for forming political factions and "courting and corrupting other senior cadres". The accusations levelled against Zhao Shaolin, former head of Jiangsu province's party committee secretariat, sparked speculation over whether other senior officials would be implicated. Zhao was a top aide to Li as well as former vice-premier Hui Liangyu when they headed the party in Jiangsu. The "courting and corrupting" accusation, in its official context, is usually used on bribe-paying businessmen and rarely on corrupt cadres. The term was last year used by party mouthpiece People's Daily to describe mafia boss Liu Han, who bribed several senior officials in Sichuan province. Chinese Academy of Governance professor Wang Yukai said the accusations could mean Zhao's case was linked to higher officials. "I believe the term means [Zhao] paid bribes to other officials, even cadres of higher rank than him, so they gave the green light to his son's business," Wang told the South China Morning Post. The disgraced official's son, Zhao Jin, a Tianjin-based real estate developer, allegedly used his government connections to cheat homeowners and intimidate angry buyers, financial news outlet Caixin reported in May. The junior Zhao had close ties with the family of former Hebei party boss Zhou Benshun, who was sacked from the party last month, another financial news outlet, Caijing, said. Zhao Jin's business spanned a large area, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hebei, Shandong and Zhejiang. He was detained in July last year and his father was taken away in October, eight years after he retired. The senior Zhao allegedly joined his son in paying bribes, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said. Zhao Shaolin also "formed cliques and factions within the party" and made public remarks against the party's campaign to increase scrutiny on cadres' discipline, according to the CCDI. Jiangsu has seen three senior officials sacked in the corruption crackdown so far. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing's Sanlitun area faces weekend closure (China Daily)
2015-08-21
Bars, restaurants and cafes around Sanlitun, a popular downtown Beijing area with shopping malls and entertainment venues, will be required to shut down during the coming weekend. Multiple business owners in the area, including in Sanlitun's Courtyard Four and Taikoo Li mall next to Gongti Beilu street, confirmed the temporary closure, saying it was required because of rehearsals for a Sept 3 parade marking the 70th anniversary of victory in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. Gongti Beilu will have traffic restrictions over the weekend. Wang Binghui, who runs Nanjie Bar in Sanlitun, said nearly all bars around Gongti Beilu will be closed to ensure security of the rehearsal during the period. "The Taikoo Li shopping zone, stores and bars in and around the area have been asked to abide by the requirements of traffic restrictions and temporary shutdown. I can understand such inconvenience caused by the rehearsal," Wang said. The Beijing Public Security Bureau has not released information on the traffic restrictions and business closures, and no number was available on how many bars and restaurants will be affected. The manager of The Rug, a restaurant in Courtyard Four, posted a notice on its gate, saying it would be "closed for the grand parade on Saturday and Sunday" and suggesting that visitors go instead to one of its two other branches. "We were told by police and staff for the regional management on Tuesday. We have also told customers who called us to reserve a table not to come during this weekend," said Xia, who only gave his surname, adding that the notice has been posted via the restaurant's micro blog. Li Cuiping, administrative manager of Qmex, a bar and grill next to The Rug, said the shutdown will last from 3 pm on Saturday to 2 pm on Sunday. "We'll be back in business after the restriction, but I think the number of customers at that time may not be as many as before," said Li, who shared the notice via the restaurant's WeChat account. Minh Bui, an Australian woman who has been in the capital for more than a year, said she will detour around the road restrictions or find another place to visit. A French woman studying Chinese in Beijing said: "Just a weekend, I think, is OK." The Beijing authorties announced previously that Tian'anmen Square and the Wangfujing area also will be closed to the public for the parade rehearsal. ^ top ^

Relatives of Sanlitun sword attack victim say she did not know killer (Global Times)
2015-08-18
Family members and friends of Gu Wenqing, the woman killed by a sword-wielding man in Beijing's Sanlitun shopping district last week, denied at the woman's funeral at Dongjiao Funeral Home on Tuesday that the tragedy, in which Gu's French husband was injured, was caused by a love affair. Gu Wendi, the sister of the deceased woman, told the Global Times that her sister and her spouse did not know the suspect, and she also claimed that the killer had been wandering around the busy commercial area with a sword for three days before the stabbing. "The murderer said he hated Americans and asked whether my brother-in-law was an American. My brother-in-law replied that he is French and asked him not to hurt them. But the man stabbed them in the back when they walked past him," said Gu. Zi Xiangdong, spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, told the Global Times that police are investigating the case and he is unable to provide any details. After photos of the deceased, Gu Wenqing, lying bloodied on the ground went viral, online rumors circulated that the murderer was the girl's ex-lover. The victim, a native of Shandong Province, and Mariaud Romain, a former employee of Beijing's French Embassy were stabbed Thursday while walking down Sanlitun Bar Street, near the city's flagship Uniqlo clothing store, according to Gu Wendi. Gu Wenqing died after arriving at the Chaoyang Hospital. Romain was transferred to a normal ward from the Intensive Care Unit on Monday. According to Beijing police, the suspect surnamed Gao, 25, comes from Jilin Province. He was arrested on site. Zhang Weibo, criminal lawyer from Beijing Yingke Law Firm, said that the police will give Gao a psychiatric examination. "If the suspect is diagnosed with a mental illness, he will be sent for compulsory treatment. But if not, he may face the death penalty," Zhang said. ^ top ^

Beijing among most polluted cities for first time this year (China Daily)
2015-08-18
Beijing was among the worst 10 cities in China for air quality in July, the first time this year the capital has dropped so low. Only 35.5 percent of days in the month met the national standard, putting the capital at 65th among the country's 74 major cities. According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection's monthly air quality report on Monday, most of the polluted days registered excessive ozone concentration. Excessive concentrations of ozone can cause respiratory tract irritation, damage to the body's immune system and affect lung function. Health experts strongly suggest that people stay indoors around noon to avoid the worst of such pollution. The maximum concentration in eight hours surpassed the national standard by 58.1 percent, 13.3 percent points higher than the maximum in June, Luo Yi, head of environmental supervision at the ministry, said. The ministry report said six cities in Hebei province, which neighbors Beijing, were among the worst 10 in China for severe air pollution in July, of which the city of Xingtai was the most polluted. Except for the higher ozone concentration, the capital has seen a year-on-year decrease of other major air pollutants. Sulfur dioxide has dropped by 28.6 percent, and PM2.5-particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 2.5 microns-fell by 31.9 percent, the monthly report said. Unlike excessive particulate matter in the air, which makes the days smoggy, excessive ozone concentration can occur under blue skies. Excessive ozone concentration in the air refers to the ozone in the land surface layer, which is mainly generated after complicated photochemical reactions, said Chen Nianliang, a researcher at the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center. Ozone concentration is affected by the excessive emission of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, which are the major pollutants from vehicle exhaust, coal burning and emissions from chemical industries, Chen added. Additionally, strong sunshine and high temperatures speed up photochemical reactions, meaning ozone concentration is at its highest from May to September, he said. It is difficult to take targeted measures to reduce ozone because of its complicated relationship with the other pollutants, he said. The ministry said most of the polluted days in major cities in the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta regions such as Shanghai and Guangzhou were because of excessive ozone concentration. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Moderate inflation gives Shanghai new economic sheen (SCMP)
2015-08-18
Inflation in Shanghai is nearly the highest of any provincial-level economy on the mainland, suggesting consumer spending could help return the financial capital to the top of the heap. The consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.6 per cent year on year in July, one percentage point higher than the national figure, putting it second only to Qinghai province. The city's figure for the first half of the year was slightly lower, at 2.4 per cent compared to a year earlier, but still 1.1 percentage points higher than the national figure. Local officials and economic analysts described Shanghai's consumer inflation as "moderate" and beneficial to the city's economy. Limited inflation pushes consumers to buy goods before prices go further up. Slowing consumer price increases or even falling prices deter shoppers from immediate purchases and dent companies' business activities. "Shanghai's strong consumer spending is in line with the leadership's efforts to reshape the country's economic growth model," Bank of Communications analyst Liu Xuezhi said. "Shanghai is emerging as a pioneer of the mainland's new normal growth." Shanghai, once the crown jewel of the national economy, began to undergo the pain of an economic restructuring amid the global financial crisis in 2008. It shifted focus from manufacturing to services such as finance but at the expense of economic growth. The city's gross domestic product has expanded more slowly than the national figure since 2009, due to less infrastructure construction and weaker manufacturing. It watched as underdeveloped regions grew at a faster clip, bolstered by increasing investment in public works and higher industrial output. Tang Huihao, the chief economist of the Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau, said last month that consumer spending, particularly on household electrical appliances and telecoms gadgets, were among the bright spots of the local economy in the first half. Shanghai residents spent 15.2 billion yuan (HK$18.4 billion) on gadgets between January and June, a rise of 77.7 per cent from a year earlier. "Based on the buoyant retail sales in Shanghai, we have every reason to be bullish on the city's potential for further sustainable growth," said Ray Lu, a director with Hotung Ventures. "The rising demand for technology products and the sophisticated taste for gadgets such as mobile phones are giving venture capitalists much confidence in investing here to tap the mammoth market." Shanghai's CPI in 2012 was half a percentage point higher than the national figure in 2012 and fell to 0.3 of a percentage point below that level in 2013. Last year, the city's CPI rose 2.7 per cent, compared with the national figure of 2 per cent. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet vows to safeguard security during its 50th anniversary celebration (Global Times)
2015-08-18
Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region has called for "resolute" measures to safeguard public security and avoid major and fatal accidents, as the region braces itself to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the region, local media reported. Wu Yingjie, vice secretary of the Communist Party of China Tibet Committee, said at a video conference on Thursday that public support will be sought to safeguard security, and religious activities will be organized in an orderly manner with the strengthened management of temples, the Lhasa-based news site tibet.cn reported Sunday. Authorities will also work to address the rightful demands of petitioners and resolve social disputes, while inspections will be enhanced to prevent fatal accidents leading to large-scale casualties, according to Wu. There is no official announcement of the exact date for anniversary celebrations, which are likely to be held in early September. It will be the first celebrative activity in the region since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, said tibet.cn. The Tibet Armed Police Frontier Corps held an oath-taking rally on July 12, vowing to protect regional stability. The region has been on alert to prevent instability in recent years after riots in Lhasa killed 13 people on March 14, 2008. In February, the region began to offer up to 300,000 yuan ($46,901) to whistle blowers for tips on planning of violent terror attacks including activities of overseas terrorist organizations and their members inside China and spreading of religious extremism and terror-related propaganda, as well as on production, sale and possession of weapons. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

India looks to Hong Kong for direct investment akin to mainland China, consul general says (SCMP)
2015-08-21
India's top diplomat in Hong Kong has called on the business community here to do in his country what it has done in China for 30 years: help transform it into a manufacturing powerhouse. Prashant Agrawal, the Indian consul general to Hong Kong and Macau, spoke in an interview after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government vowed last year to put up US$1 trillion worth of infrastructural projects for overseas ventures as part of its five-year plan. Hong Kong enjoyed an important position in New Delhi's "Look East" policy in spite of the rise of mainland China, Agrawal said. "When mainland China was [opening] up, Hong Kong companies took the lead in setting up factories in the mainland and providing capital. We want them to take the same process in India," Agrawal said. He said India had a "huge requirement for physical infrastructure" such as ports, highways and power plants, as well as the need to modernise the railway system. "These are all areas where companies from Hong Kong have the expertise, skills, experience and capital," he added. With an abundance of capital and technical knowledge, Hong Kong businesses helped transform mainland China, especially the Pearl River Delta, since the country's opening up in the 1980s. India, with 50,000 of its people living in Hong Kong, is currently aiming to follow in China's footsteps to become the world's factory. But the difficulty of doing business there has always been a matter of concern, with the World Bank ranking India at 142 among 189 countries and regions. "We have undertaken a series of reforms to promote ease of doing business in India," Agrawal said. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has already taken measures and has proposed a series of steps including reducing the time to register a business to one day, a single registration of all labour laws and a cut in taxes. Modi's "Make In India" campaign, meanwhile, hopes to attract worldwide investments in manufacturing, Agrawal said. Since April 2000, Hong Kong's total foreign direct investment in India was US$1.21 billion, a fraction of the US$214 billion it had invested worldwide, said Sanjeet Singh, a director of India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry. ^ top ^

Arrests of student Occupy Central activists 'not politically motivated', Hong Kong justice secretary claims (SCMP)
2015-08-20
The justice minister yesterday denied that the decision to arrest student leaders in last year's Occupy protests almost a year after the demonstrations was politically motivated. Four students are facing arrest by appointment as police start to take action against those involved in the storming of the government headquarters before the Occupy protests began. Among them are Joshua Wong Chi-fung, a key leader of Scholarism, and Alex Chow Yong-kang, former chief of the Federation of Students. Both student groups took an active part in the 79-day demonstrations that began on September 28 last year. Wong, a university student, is facing arrest on suspicion of organising and participating in an unauthorised assembly. Chow and two others, current federation chief Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Scholarism member Derek Lam Shun-hin, are to be arrested for participation in the assembly. Explaining why it took nearly a year to initiate the steps for the arrests, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said yesterday the justice department had been dealing with many other cases. Prosecutors "had to handle them one by one," Yuen said during a visit to Beijing yesterday. "I can assure you that our colleagues in the prosecution division and I took no political consideration in initiating prosecution." He maintained that "no one has ever put any political pressure on us." Yuen also said the timing had nothing to do with the District Council elections to be held in November. The justice secretary said that to freely label all legal action against student activists or legislators as "political prosecution" was unfair and would undermine the city's prosecution system. As for the alleged assault on Civic Party member Ken Tsang Kin-chiu by seven police officers during the Occupy protests, Yuen said the department was seeking further legal advice before deciding how to proceed with the case, which he described as "sensitive". ^ top ^

Hong Kong government defends controversial Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront redevelopment plan (SCMP)
2015-08-20
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department is defending a controversial plan to add more shops and attractions to the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront amid opposition from businesses in the area and doubts from a pressure group. The proposed new development, on which the department is collaborating with Avenue of Stars developer New World Development, was filed to the Town Planning Board early last month and is subject to the board's approval at a meeting tomorrow. It includes the construction of three new buildings – a restaurant hub, a film industry exhibition centre and a performance venue – along the promenade and an extension of the Avenue of Stars, which runs along the waterfront. The new development would take three years, according to the application, during which time the waterfront would be closed to the public, although parts would reopen in the second year. That did not sit well with business owners in the area or those who use the waterfront. The board received 337 comments from the public during a three-month consultation period that closed earlier this month, the majority of which objected to the proposal. Business owners feared they would lose customers while some individuals complained that the closure of the promenade would bar people from jogging and walking along it. A director of Woodland Restaurant at the nearby Wing On Plaza wrote to the board to object. […] The avenue was constructed in 2004 at a cost of HK$40 million paid by New World, under an agreement with the government that granted the developer 20 years of operating rights. The department remains the managing authority of the site. In an article published in Ming Pao on Wednesday, Professional Commons policy convenor Albert Lai Kwong-tak criticised the joint proposal, saying it amounted to the government's use of public land to benefit New World. The department said in its statement on Wednesday that said the plan had come about “in an open and fair manner with public interests as the principle” It also reiterated that the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade revitalisation plan is not a property or commercial project. Its aim is to improve waterfront facilities and public space”. Kowloon Shangri-la hotel is among the businesses which submitted a statement of opposition against the plan, saying one of the new buildings would block its harbour view. The hotel is part of the Kerry Group, the controlling shareholder of SCMP Group, which publishes the South China Morning Post. ^ top ^

Imprisoned mainland Chinese 'forced to make scam calls from Southeast Asia', police liaison officer in Hong Kong alleges (SCMP)
2015-08-19
Mainlanders have been lured to Southeast Asia with bogus job offers, held captive and forced to take part in criminal operations persuading people over the telephone to part with their money, an official from Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong says. They are trained to defraud victims by following a script outlining their roles and what to say over the phone, according to Wu Guozhen, the office's deputy head handling police matters. "Some were even locked up for a year and not given any money," Wu said on DBC radio yesterday. "They were not allowed to contact their families." He mentioned two countries, the Philippines and Thailand, where the duped mainlanders were severely restricted in their movements. Their passports and cash were taken away and they were forced to make phone calls every day, he said. Wu was speaking based on two major crackdowns in previous years in which mainland authorities found the swindlers' groups were headed mainly by people from Taiwan. "On September 28 in both 2011 and 2014, we mounted two huge crackdowns on phone scammers on the mainland. Half of those arrested were mainland Chinese, the other half Taiwanese," he said. "Most of the leaders were Taiwanese, who got unknowing mainlanders to conduct scam calls in Southeast Asia. They also got mainlanders to open bank accounts in [mainland] China." When asked if he believed the same modus operandi applied during the latest wave of phone scams, Wu said yes. In the past six weeks, Hongkongers have reported being cheated out of more than HK$180 million by fraudsters claiming to be calling from the liaison office or law enforcement agencies. Victims are usually told they have broken mainland laws and have to prove their willingness to cooperate by transferring money to mainland bank accounts. The liaison office received a deluge of inquiries over the scams last month. Wu said they received 10,400 inquiries from July 19-21 alone. Hong Kong is teaming up with mainland and overseas police agencies to locate the illegal call centres and track down the masterminds, according to police sources. The international collaboration came after investigations indicated the calls were made from mainland China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Macau, the United States and Singapore, they said. […] Wu said the recent sharp rise in phone fraud in Hong Kong could be due to con artists making the city their new "market", having already targeted mainland China and Southeast Asia. He said his office would provide intelligence and technical support to local police. "We will use Interpol's help in solving these crimes," he said. "Cracking down on these multinational chains also requires close cooperation and communication between Hong Kong and the mainland." In the first 14 days of this month, Hongkongers lost a total of HK$56.7 million in 39 cases of phone deception. ^ top ^

Hong Kong's Liberal Party seeks a formal visit to Beijing for talks with top leaders (SCMP)
2015-08-18
The pro-business Liberal Party has expressed a wish to send a formal party delegation to Beijing to hold talks with top leaders. If the visit comes off, it will be the first trip by a formal party delegation since 2006. Liberal Party chairman Felix Chung Kwok-pan told the South China Morning Post that they had mentioned the idea to Beijing but “nothing is confirmed” at this stage. Chung and several senior party members visited Beijing in March and were received by Wang Guangya, director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. Chung at that time quoted Wang as saying the central government recognised his party as “patriotic” and would continue to support its future development. But Chung said they aimed at something bigger this time. “We hope our trip can be like the DAB's,” said Chung, referring to the Beijing visit last month by the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. The DAB delegation, led by party chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king, comprised over 30 members. They held a meeting in the Great Hall of the People with National People's Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang, the top Beijing official in charge of Hong Kong affairs. Zhang also received a delegation of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce last month. Last September, the Federation of Trade Unions and the New People's Party visited Beijing. Both delegations were received by Zhang. The last large-scale Liberal Party delegation to Beijing comprised some 40 members, who were received by then vice-president Zeng Qinghong. Although it is widely regarded as a part of the pro-establishment camp, the Liberal Party has had some conflicts with the Beijing-backed Leung Chun-ying administration. In 2013, then party chairman James Tien Pei-chun refused to toe the government line over its rejection of a free television licence for HKTV, and joined forces with the opposition camp in signing a petition against the decision. In July last year, Tien asked Leung face-to-face in the legislature if he would consider resigning because the government could not operate under his leadership. Three months later, Tien made a similar suggestion that Leung should consider going. That seemed to be the last straw and Tien was stripped by Beijing of his seat in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top advisory body. Tien had been a member for 16 years. Tien was reportedly at odds with the chief executive because Leung defeated his friend and veteran Liberal Party member Henry Tang Ying-yen in the 2012 election for the top post. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Cross-strait tax pact a business boost: officials (Xinhua)
2015-08-18
A new taxation pact between Taiwan and the mainland will save businesses on either side of the Strait billions of New Taiwan dollars a year and provide a powerful boost to the island's revenue, its financial agency said Tuesday. The agreement on avoiding dual taxation will be signed at a meeting between the mainland's Association of Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation in the eastern city of Fuzhou from Aug. 24 to 26, according to the island's Mainland Affairs Council. Taiwanese financial officials say the pact is becoming more and more necessary as cross-strait trade surges. Based on 2011 data, the agreement will save an estimated 3.9 billion new Taiwan dollars (121 million U.S. dollars) and 100 million new Taiwan dollars in taxation for Taiwanese and mainland businesses respectively, and add a net tax revenue increase of 8.1 billion to 13.3 billion new Taiwan dollars for the island. A new taxation pact between Taiwan and the mainland will save businesses on either side of the Strait billions of New Taiwan dollars a year and provide a powerful boost to the island's revenue, its financial agency said Tuesday.The agreement on avoiding dual taxation will be signed at a meeting between the mainland's Association of Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation in the eastern city of Fuzhou from Aug. 24 to 26, according to the island's Mainland Affairs Council. Taiwanese financial officials say the pact is becoming more and more necessary as cross-strait trade surges. Based on 2011 data, the agreement will save an estimated 3.9 billion new Taiwan dollars (121 million U.S. dollars) and 100 million new Taiwan dollars in taxation for Taiwanese and mainland businesses respectively, and add a net tax revenue increase of 8.1 billion to 13.3 billion new Taiwan dollars for the island. A new taxation pact between Taiwan and the mainland will save businesses on either side of the Strait billions of New Taiwan dollars a year and provide a powerful boost to the island's revenue, its financial agency said Tuesday. The agreement on avoiding dual taxation will be signed at a meeting between the mainland's Association of Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation in the eastern city of Fuzhou from Aug. 24 to 26, according to the island's Mainland Affairs Council. Taiwanese financial officials say the pact is becoming more and more necessary as cross-strait trade surges. Based on 2011 data, the agreement will save an estimated 3.9 billion new Taiwan dollars (121 million U.S. dollars) and 100 million new Taiwan dollars in taxation for Taiwanese and mainland businesses respectively, and add a net tax revenue increase of 8.1 billion to 13.3 billion new Taiwan dollars for the island. ^ top ^

China, US hold consultations on Taiwan issue (Xinhua)
2015-08-15
A senior Chinese official on Taiwan affairs on Friday expressed the hope that ties across the Taiwan Strait will stay on the path of peaceful development after the island's elections next year, while reiterating China's strong confidence in dealing with any possible contingencies. In talks with US officials at the State Department and the White House, Zhang Zhijun, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, briefed them on the current situation across the Taiwan Strait and Beijing's principled position on the Taiwan issue. He said that since 2008, the cross-strait ties have been undergoing peaceful development on the common political basis of upholding the "1992 consensus" and opposing Taiwan independence. This trend has been widely endorsed by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait as well as the international community. However, he said, with the island heading toward new elections next year, the cross-strait ties have come to a critical juncture as Taiwan faces two diverging paths ahead: One is to continue to uphold the "1992 consensus" to maintain the peaceful development of the cross-strait ties, while the another is to reverse the historical trend by returning to the old path of seeking independence. A different choice leads to different consequences, Zhang noted, adding that Beijing hopes Taiwan will stick to the path of maintaining the stable and peaceful development of the cross-strait ties on the basis of the "1992 consensus," an agreement reached in 1992 which acknowledges that the Chinese mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China. He stressed that China is capable and confident of dealing with any possible contingencies on the Taiwan issue, because its position of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity is rock solid and unshakable. While lauding the US for adhering to the one-China policy, supporting the peaceful development of the cross-strait ties and opposing Taiwan independence, Zhang stressed that Beijing hopes Washington will stick to the principles of the three Joint Communiques made by the governments of the United States and China, and play a constructive role in maintaining the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait. ^ top ^

 

Economy
Shanghai and Shenzhen stock market pounded, dropping 9 per cent in last two days (SCMP)
2015-08-19
The CSI300 index of Shanghai-Shenzhen large cap stocks finished the morning trade at 3,741.40 point, down 2.196 per cent, or 84.01 points. The Shenzhen Composite closed the morning session at 2,109.66, down 2.98 per cent, or 64.76 points. The NASDAQ-style ChiNext Price Index slips 3.07 per cent, or 76.98 points to trade at 2,427.19. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index finished midday at 23,232.76, down 1.03 per cent or 242.21 points. The China Enterprises Index (H-share index) tracking Hong Kong listed Chinese companies, closed at 10,611.11, down by 1.48 per cent or 158.94 points. “There is a lack of confidence from retail investors. Many of them are probably worried that short positions taken by futures traders over these days will post huge downward pressures to the market,” said Louis Tse, director of VC Brokerage. “There probably has been a fight between 'long and short' positions at the moment, and we will see how things turn out on Friday,” Tse said. “The correction in some sectors seems to be perhaps a bit excessive as the vast majority of stocks are impacted by the overall bearish sentiment,” said Gerry Alfonso, a director with Shenwan Hongyuan Securities. The industrial sector led the losses, with state-owned rolling-stock maker CRRC Corp losing 3.57 per cent to 13.51 yuan. State-owned oil majors also fared worse. Dual listed China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation slid 3.09 per cent to 5.65 yuan. Its shares shed 1.41 per cent in Hong Kong. China recession is now rated the number one “tail risk” by 52 per cent, according to the BofA Merrill Lynch Fund Manager Survey for August. The selling spree has wiped around 5 trillion yuan off the value of the A-share market since last week's closing. ^ top ^

China's central bank sets currency mid-price higher for second consecutive day (SCMP)
2015-08-17
The People's Bank of China set the onshore yuan mid-price at 6.3969 to the dollar on Monday, rising for the second day in a row after the currency's shock devaluation last week roiled world financial markets. The mid-price was set by the PBoC at 6.3975 last Friday. The onshore spot yuan closed at 6.3908 on Friday. The onshore yuan traded by midday at 6.3944 to the dollar, weaker by 0.06 per cent from the 6.3908 close on Friday. Offshore yuan traded at 6.4341 to the dollar, stronger by 0.28 per cent from the close at 6.4519 on Friday. Societe Generale said in its morning call on Monday that "further depreciation is likely on the horizon but given the People's Bank of China's actions late last week, we expect relative stability in the near term." DBS said in its morning report that “the People's Bank of China (PBoC) sought to play down the devaluation as the start of a unilateral depreciation trend for the onshore yuan (CNY) or a currency war." It added that the central bank sought "to make a point that the onshore yuan was a bi-directional exchange rate, both spot USD/CNY and the central parity retreated modestly lower to 6.3912 and 6.3975 respectively. Yet, markets remain unconvinced." ^ top ^

China's financial regulators urged to promote transparency, reduce complexity (SCMP)
2015-08-15
A global financial watchdog has warned mainland regulators to work together more closely, clearly define their roles, and promote transparency to improve risk management in the financial system. "A unifying theme behind the peer review recommendations is the need for closer coordination and information sharing between the authorities to handle a dynamic financial system," said the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the international regulatory body comprised of central banks, in a report on Thursday. It comes as policymakers attempt to stabilise the stock market through a series of interventions that have raised questions over the mainland's complex regulatory structure. The multiple regulatory agencies that oversee stock markets, banks, insurers, capital inflows and outflows, and fiscal and monetary policy, had overly broad mandates and were not joined up, leading them to sometimes pursue policy measures that contradicted one another, the FSB said. The FSB recommended that regulatory agencies review their protocols for sharing information, clarify their mandates, and reduce uncertainty by making more policy and decision-making information public. "Market participants' expectations about the policy stance need to be anchored around a clearly understandable framework in order to avoid turbulence caused by policy uncertainty," the FSB report said. The mainland's regulatory system is under intense scrutiny in the wake of a dramatic stock market sell-off that has seen the main indices fall by about 24 per cent since mid-June. Market participants have said the regulatory response to the crisis was poorly coordinated, heightening uncertainty and contributing to the crash. The FSB, of which China is a member, is tasked with monitoring global systemic risk. China was last reviewed in 2011 and had since made improvements, the FSB noted, adding that it was not alone in having regulatory coordination problems. The Information Office for China's State Council did not respond to a request for comment. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

IRI and US House Democracy Partnership to intensify collaboration with SGK (Montsame)
2015-08-20
On August 20, Secretary-general of the Secretariat of the State Great Khural (Parliament) B.Boldbaatar received delegates from the International Republican Institute and the House Democracy Partnership of the United States House of Representatives. At the beginning of meeting, Secretary-general B.Boldbaatar wished the representatives to have a pleasant visit to Mongolia and briefed about the parliamentary activities. He underlined that the Secretariat of the State Great Khural pays a particular attention to empowering its employees' professional skills while seeking to implement best practices in the world, particularly, to introduce the Congress experiences. Furthermore, the trilateral partnership between the International Republican Institute, House Democracy Partnership and the Secretariat will be intensifying in the future, emphasized B.Boldbaatar. The delegates led by Ms. Ashleigh Whelan, Country Director in Mongolia at International Republican Institute, thanked for a warm reception. At the end of meeting, the sides exchanged views on extending and enhancing collaboration between the offices, reports the Press and Public Relations of the SGK. After this, A.Bakei MP met with the delegations and exchanged opinions on the further cooperation. He asked delegates to share achievements of the HDP program in improving legislative bodies of other countries. ^ top ^

City of London pledges to support establishing int'l financial center here (Montsame)
2015-08-20
On August 20, L.Bold and G.Batkhuu MPs received Sir Paul Judge, Alderman of the City of London. G.Batkhuu MP invited Sir Paul Judge to have a convenient stay in Mongolia and highlighted his satisfaction with the fruitful cooperation between London's international financial center “The City of London” and the Financial Regulatory Committee of Mongolia. In response, Sir Paul thanked the MPs for their time and noted that the United Kingdom was the first western country to establish diplomatic ties with Mongolia, and that the ties have endured for 50 years now. Mentioning that Mongolia is a role model for strengthening its democracy and cherishing rule of law and human rights, he said that the meeting's main purpose is to offer Mongolia a support for establishing an international financial center in Ulaanbaatar. He underlined that Mongolia has not only a rapidly growing economy but also a suitable location. L.Bold MP presented some information on the previous studies completed on establishing such a financial center in Ulaanbaatar, and noted that it will be of great importance in the economic conditions of our country and the region. ^ top ^

Hide-processing and chemical factories to be relocated outside of Ulaanbaatar (Montsame)
2015-08-19
At the Citizens Representatives Khural of Ulaanbaatar meeting, held Tuesday, the Program on developing the ciptal city's industrial and technological parks was adopted. Today, all kinds of industries are running operations in Ulaanbaatar. Being concentrated in Khan-Uul and Songinokhairkhan districts, the livestock secondary products processing factories have been bringing about inconvenience to the citizens' lives in certain ways. Moreover, the industrial waste is a main factor of Ulaanbaatar's air and soil pollution. Therefore, in order to make the industries environmentally friendly, a decision to evacuate the city's processing factories and relocate them into the new industrial parks to be erected in Ulaanbaatar's satellite towns was reflected in the General Guidelines for Capital City Development until 2020, Development Strategy until 2030 and the Strategy for Economic Development of Ulaanbaatar, adopted this year. The decision to relocate the raw-hide processing factories outside of Ulaanbaatar was made by issuing Parliament Resolution no. 74 in 2012. In accordance with the resolution, the relocating procedure must be completed by December 31, 2017. Also, Government Resolution No. 104 of 2011 directs to establish a coal-chemical technology park in Baganuur town, Government Resolution No. 356 of 2014 – the primary processing plants in the valley of Shar Hots, and Government Resolution No. 171 of 2012 – to concentrate construction material factories in the satellite towns of Ulaanbaatar. Since then, three feasibility studies on the industrial and technological parks have been prepared. As the Law on Legal Statuses of Industrial and Technology Parks determines the locations and territories of those parks, state-owned factories named “Emeelt industrial and technology park for light industry”, “Nalaikh industrial and technology park for civil construction” and “Baganuur industrial and technology park” have commenced operations. Investments of MNT 303.4 billion for Emeelt park, MNT 134.9 billion for Nalaikh park, MNT 105.9 billion for Baganuur park have been estimated as required. The feasibility study for Eco-Park, waste recycling plant, is undergoing the preparation phase. Thus, the investment is not yet determined. ^ top ^

Mongolia and India to ink Agreement on Convict-Transfer (Montsame)
2015-08-18
At Monday's regular meeting, the cabinet considered and approved the bill of ratifying the Intergovernmental Agreement between Mongolia and India on Transfer of Convicted persons. The bill is to be presented to the State Great Khural (Parliament). The Convention has been ratified by governments of 47 European Union member states and by 19 non-members, including the USA, Australia and Japan, where our citizens work and study in relatively great numbers. By joining the Convention, Mongolia will exchange convicts with the Convention's member-countries. The Government is collaborating in exchanging the convicted and assisting in the transfer processes with several countries, where Mongolian nationals travel to on purposes of study, work and business, and have come to become subjects to criminal cases. Mongolia has signed bilateral agreements with seven countries so far, which legalized the convict-transferring procedures. As for the countries without any regulations regarding the procedures, it requires some diplomatic measures. The intergovernmental agreement will bring much relief to the diplomatic missions by alleviating their procedures for transferring the convicted national, although there are no Mongolian national currently convicted in India. ^ top ^

Shares of 15 SOEs to be privatized (Monstame)
2015-08-18
On August 17, the cabinet issued a List of fully and partially state-owned legal entities to be privatized and readjusted in 2015-2016. The cabinet was assigned to privatize and readjust some legal entities in 2015-2016 in accordance with the Resolution on general guidelines No. 70 issued this year. The ministers assigned the Committee on State Properties and Erdenes Mongol LLC to manage the implementation of these procedures. Shares of 15 state-owned companies and enterprises will be fully and partially privatized. In specific, 70 percent of shares of the Second, Third and Fourth Thermal Plants, Darkhan Thermal Power Plant and Erdenet Thermal Power Plant, 51 percent of shares of Baganuur Co. and Shivee Ovoo Co., and 34 percent of shares of the Agricultural Exchange will stay in the state ownership, and all state ownership shares of Khotol Cement Plant, Orgil Spring Sanatorium, Film Art University and Auto Impex Company will be privatized. ^ top ^

Parliament to consider ratifying AIIB founding articles (Montsame)
2015-08-18
At its regular meeting on Monday, the cabinet resolved to submit a bill on Mongolia's ratification of the founding articles of agreement for Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping announced the initiative of founding the AIIB during the October 2013 APEK Summit in Bali. He proposed Asian countries, starting with Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to become founding members of the Bank. Mongolia's cabinet considered and approved the issue of becoming one of the founders of AIIB on the regular meeting, held on March 28, 2014. The preparation to establish the Bank has commenced after the finance authorities from the founding countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding in Beijing on October 24, 2014. By becoming a founding member, Mongolia facilitates itself with funding opportunities to keep up sustainable economic growth and the citizen's social development through expanding our infrastructure development and regional network, and with possibilities to strengthen its position in the global economy. The founding members are obliged to raise the AIIB statutory capital of USD 100 billion, according to the deal. Mongolia's contribution of USD 41 million has 0.3013 percent voting power. The contribution to the statutory fund will be delivered within five years through five installments. ^ top ^

D.Ganbat MP makes statement regarding Law on Pardon (Montsame)
2015-08-15
On August 14, Chairman of the standing committee on Legal affairs, MP D.Ganbat gave a comprehensive information to reporters regarding recently approved the Law on Pardon. In his statement, MP D.Ganbat said, the Law of Mongolia on Pardon was adopted by the State Great Khural (Parliament) on August 11, 2015. Persons committed crimes will be exempted from criminal liabilities, defendants from sentences, ones involved in administrative responsibilities from administrative penalties, and the pardons cover those crimes if were acted before 00:00 am of July 2, 2015. Moreover, 29 crimes committed by persons are not subjects to the law such as treason, espionage, assassination, armed riot, sabotage, homicide, kidnappings, human trafficking, illegal obtaining of human blood, tissue and other organs, hostage, rape, terrorism, terrorist financing, illegal manufacture, acquisition, storage, transportation, delivery and trade of narcotic and psychotropic medicines, reports the Press and Public Relations Department of the State Great Khural of Mongolia. ^ top ^

The irregular Plenary Session of the Parliament ends (Infomongolia)
2015-08-14
The irregular plenary session of the State Great Khural (Parliament of Mongolia) commenced on August 03, is ended as scheduled today on August 14, 2015. In his closing speech, Speaker Z.Enkhbold noted, “During this period, the Laws on Fire Arms, Supporting Economic Transparency and Pardon were ratified. In addition, a parliament resolution on Dismissal of some members of the Government was also resolved. The planned amendments to the Law on Violation and renewed draft of the Criminal Law are postponed and will be reviewed at the Autumn session of the Parliament. Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the first Democratic Elections held in Mongolia and the establishment of Parliament with permanent functioning, it is notable that the Law on Pardon was adopted. Nevertheless, the President of Mongolia claimed to issue a veto on the Law on Pardon and thus, it is inevitable to re-call an irregular Plenary Session to consider this issue. In the meantime, six Ministers of Cabinet to be submitted by Prime Minister will be also discussed”, reports the Press and Public Relations Department of the State Great Khural. ^ top ^

Mongolia, Japan and USA mull trilateral foreign minister talks (Montsame)
2015-08-14
The Japan Times reported August 13 that Japan, the United States and Mongolia are considering holding their first trilateral foreign ministerial talks in a bid to tap into Mongolia's close ties with North Korea to settle a host of issues involving Pyongyang, diplomatic sources said Thursday. By drawing Mongolia into a multilateral framework, Japan and the United States hope that Mongolia can play a role in helping resume the stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program and making progress on the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, the sources said. The six-party dialogue, aimed at ending the reclusive country's nuclear ambitions, has been deadlocked since late 2008. The talks involve the two Koreas, Japan, China, the United States and Russia. The three countries intend to hold a meeting of senior diplomats next month to discuss the timing of talks at the foreign ministerial level, the sources said. The step to hold a foreign ministerial meeting among Japan, the United States and Mongolia is in line with an agreement made by the leaders of Japan and Mongolia in 2013 to hold a regular trilateral dialogue with the United States, the sources said. They will work out plans to convene the trilateral foreign ministerial meeting on the fringes of international conferences through 2016, says the Japan Times. During the Mongolia-Korea Economic Forum, held earlier this week, some high officials from the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Korea visited Ulaanbaatar and held meeting at the Mongolia Ministry of Defense concerning the same issue. ^ 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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