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
  21-25.9.15, No. 589  
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DPRK

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Switzerland

China homicide rate equals Switzerland's (Global Times)
2015-09-25
The homicide rate in China in 2014 equals that of Switzerland, a Chinese top security official announced on Wednesday. The rate stayed at 0.7 per 100,000 residents in 2014 in China, Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, was quoted by Southern Metropolis Daily as saying There has been a consistent fall in violent crimes such as rape, abduction, murder and arson, he said. According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Public Security, the number of violent crime cases dropped 15.6 percent in the first quarter of 2015 year-on-year. In 2013, China's homicide rate stood at 0.8 per 100,000 people, the People's Daily reported. Meng, who was speaking during a national working conference on establishing crime prevention and control systems held in Dalian, said the public situation in China was satisfactory overall, given the large country with a huge population and uneven development. Based on the International Homicide Statistics 2015 released by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the homicide rates in Germany and Switzerland remained 0.7 per 100,000 people in 2013 - the latest figure in the homicide statistics, while that in the US was 3.8 per 100,000 people. Honduras witnessed the worst homicide rate - 84.3 per 100,000 residents. "China has been investing a lot in public security prevention and maintenance of social stability," Chen Zhonglin, dean of the Law School at Chongqing University, told the Global Times. "Unlike certain major nations such as the US, China has a much stricter control over firearms and knives, which has reduced the possibilities of violent crimes to a great extent," Chen said. Meng also pointed out that regulations on public security administration need improving due to a lack of "consciousness of risks" and "unclear accountabilities." Citing commercial fraud, online pyramid schemes and invasion of privacy, Meng said that many crimes nowadays are being committed over the Internet. He urged the public security departments to set up "online police stations" and to step up efforts to prevent the spread of rumors, firearm-trafficking and drug-trafficking online. China launched a crackdown on rumors spreading online in recent years as they have impaired the credibility of online media, disrupted normal communication order, and aroused great aversion among the public. In August, the Cyberspace Administration of China accused 50 websites of creating panic by publishing unverified information or letting users spread groundless rumors, including "the blasts killed at least 1,000 people," "shopping malls in Tianjin got looted" and "leadership change in Tianjin government." The police also launched a campaign starting in April to crack down on online drug crimes, and have since solved 14,878 online drug-related violations and captured 32,871 suspects, according to the Ministry of Public Security. Meng called for strengthened supervision over illegal trading on the Internet and combating forged and fake goods. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Future of cyberspace must conform with 'national conditions', Xi Jinping tells top internet execs (SCMP)
2015-09-25
President Xi Jinping pledged to strengthen cyber cooperation with the US as he met global internet heavyweights on the third day of his US state visit, vowing also that China would continue to open up to foreign investment. But he also made plain that cyberspace had to develop in line with the "national conditions of each nation". Xi had a packed day on Wednesday meeting US business leaders and tech executives, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Apple chief executive Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, which is blocked on the mainland. Google executives were absent. Speaking at a China-US internet forum at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington state, Xi said the internet played an increasingly important role in the world's development, and the governance of cyberspace had become a serious concern. "Both China and the US are major countries in the internet sphere," Xi was quoted by state-run Xinhua as saying. "The two countries should carry out talks on cyber issues on the basis of mutual respect and trust." Xi said China advocated open and cooperative cyberspace, but added that "every country should institute its own internet policy in line with its own national conditions". China's chief internet regulator, Lu Wei, told the gathering that China was looking forward to starting a Sino-US digital cooperation plan, supporting companies to enter both markets "fairly", Bloomberg reported. In another conference with business leaders, Xi said China would continue opening up and cut obstacles for foreign companies. Foreign companies have complained of struggling under the weight of China's censorship, saying Beijing's tighter controls on the internet have affected business operations. They are also concerned over rules that may require them to give source code to regulators. Rob Koepp, director of The Economist Corporate Network, said it was true that China, in principle, welcomed foreign direct investment in certain hi-tech and IT sectors."[But] many foreign IT brands already operating in China are remarking that they perceive increased monitoring and interference from government authorities," Koepp said. […] Renmin University finance professor Zhao Xijun said foreign companies had to abide by China's laws and national security requirements when entering Chinese markets. Zhao said China had passed the stage of relying on preferential policies to attract foreign investment. Instead, it should focus on building a fair and regulated market to appeal to overseas investors. […] ^ top ^

Another 'Sky Net' success: US returns woman fugitive to face graft, fraud charges in China (SCMP)
2015-09-24
A Chinese woman who served a prison term in the United States for money laundering was returned to China on Thursday, authorities said, just ahead of a meeting between President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Barack Obama. Kuang Wanfang, who is wanted in a bribery investigation and is the wife of a former official of the state-owned Bank of China, was repatriated following cooperation with US law enforcement officials, China's Supervision Ministry said. Kuang is the second person to be sent back to China from the US since Beijing launched the “Sky Net” campaign in April to bring back people who have fled overseas after being accused of economic crimes. The US lacks an extradition treaty with China and is wary that the country's opaque court system may be unfair to defendants, so it has typically been cautious in turning Chinese nationals over to Beijing, making it a top destination for corrupt Chinese officials. Beijing seeks to change that, and Washington has agreed to cooperate but also demands solid evidence against the accused. Kuang is married to Xu Chaofan, who was involved in a US$485 million fraud case in Guangdong. She and another banker's wife were convicted in 2009 by a federal jury in Las Vegas of helping launder the proceeds and violating immigration laws, including entering the country illegally and gaining US citizenship through fraud. The women each got eight years in prison. Their husbands were also convicted, on charges of racketeering, money laundering and international transportation of stolen property and fraud. The men were jailed 25 years and 22 years respectively. The four lost their appeals in 2013. Another man, Yu Zhendong, was repatriated to China in 2004 on condition he would not be tortured or given the death penalty, which can be applied in the country even for non-violent white-collar crimes. Yu was eventually slapped with 12 years in jail. The supervision ministry said Kuang had been in hiding for 14 years and, upon her return, would face investigation by Guangdong police on graft and bribery charges. It is unclear if the other three would also be repatriated. Last week, the US sent back businessman Yang Jinjun, who is suspected of graft and bribery. His sister, Yang Xiuzhu, has been detained in the US but is seeking political asylum. The woman, formerly a deputy mayor in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, is wanted in China for allegedly embezzling more than US$40 million. ^ top ^

Like: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg marks 'personal milestone' after minute-long chat in Mandarin with Xi Jinping (SCMP)
2015-09-24
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has gushed about his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling it a “personal milestone”, after he spoke in Mandarin to Xi at an event on Wednesday. “On a personal note, this was the first time I've ever spoken with a world leader entirely in a foreign language,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page about the conversation that lasted less than a minute. “I consider that a meaningful personal milestone.” A picture accompanying the post showed Zuckerberg greeting the president. He was in a suit and tie – a rare practice for the internet billionaire. Lu Wei – China's internet tsar, who controls the country's great firewall that blocks Facebook among other foreign websites – stood by the two, wearing a broad smile. “It was an honour to meet President Xi and other leaders,” Zuckerberg's post read, adding that internet users could follow updates of the president's first state visit to the United States on the Facebook page “Xi's US Visit”. Zuckerberg met Xi when the president visited Microsoft's main campus in Redmond, near Seattle, on Wednesday. A Microsoft spokeswoman said that during Xi's meeting there with internet CEOs, the president spoke for only about six minutes and that none of the American business leaders responded. Zuckerberg's post about his brief chat with Xi sparked debate among internet users over China's censorship. “He has already banned your Facebook in China … Why did you meet him,” one user commented. This is not the first time the Facebook founder has shown his admiration for the Chinese president. When he welcomed Lu Wei on a visit to his company's headquarters in December, press photos showed a copy of The Governance of China – a collection of Xi's speeches – on Zuckerberg's desk. The gesture, interpreted as Zuckerberg's effort to court the Chinese government, disappointed and angered activists in China, who had held the social network in high regard for sharing information beyond the tight controls of the country's ruling Communist Party, the Associated Press reported. ”Mr Zuckerberg is either ignorant of China's politics or shameless,” said prominent dissident Hu Jia, who called Lu a top enemy of internet freedom and expressed worry that technology giants such as Facebook were kowtowing to Beijing for their own business interests. “He is an internet genius who should understand the power of technology for social change.” Asked in November about Facebook's blockage in China, Lu said: “The bottom line for foreign internet companies to enter China is they obey Chinese laws and regulations.” They should not harm the country's national interest and the interest of Chinese consumers, the top internet regulator added. ^ top ^

'Just say open sesame': Doors to the Chinese market will always be open to US companies, says Xi Jinping (SCMP)
2015-09-24
Chinese President Xi Jinping has assured American business leaders that the doors to China's market would always open for them – like those of the cave in the classic story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. “It's like Ali Baba – 'open sesame'. Once it's open, it won't be closed,” Xi said. The president was speaking during his meeting on Wednesday with a group of US and Chinese business leaders representing US$3 trillion in market value. Those present included billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Xi also urged more American companies to set up their regional headquarters in China. “We support large American businesses in setting up regional headquarters or research and development centres in China, and encourage more small- and medium-sized companies to expand businesses in China. Meanwhile, China will keep increasing its investment in the United States,” he said. “We will continue to build a law-based business environment, an open environment.” The US-China Business Roundtable was followed by a closed-door event billed as an opportunity for the 30 chief executives present. The CEOs sat in a rectangle around Xi as he spoke, Americans on one side and Chinese on the other. “Chinese companies also hope to see substantive steps by the US to ease restrictions on exports for civilian, hi-tech items to China and create a level playing field for Chinese investment in the US,” Xi said. Chinese corporate leaders at the event, hosted by the Paulson Institute and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, included internet giant Baidu's Robin Li, Tencent's Pony Ma as well as e-commerce giant Alibaba, according to The Washington Post. “China will open up still wider to the outside world,” Xi said through an interpreter. “Without reform, there will be no driving force; without opening up, there will be no progress... There is good news and I believe there will be more good news in the future.” […]To the east of Seattle, at Microsoft's campus in Redmond, China's top internet regulator told US tech executives that both countries must work together on cybersecurity issues, including crime and espionage, addressing one of their most pressing concerns. “We are in the same boat,” said Lu Wei, at the eighth annual meeting of the US-China Internet Industry Forum. “The only choice we have is to cooperate.” In a closed-door session that followed, Lu gave the impression that China and the US were set to reach some kind of agreement on cyberwarfare to ban attacks on infrastructure in peacetime, according a source present, who asked not to be named given the privacy of the meeting. […] ^ top ^

'Obey Chinese law': Xi issues warning to foreign NGOs in China during his US swing as fears of impending crackdown grow (SCMP)
2015-09-24
Chinese President Xi Jinping told American business leaders on Wednesday that foreign organisations in China should “obey Chinese law”, after draft legislation raised fears of a crackdown on overseas groups. China is expected to pass a law this year covering foreign charities, business associations and academic institutions operating in the country. It comes as Beijing clamps down on domestic civil society activists, prompting fears among charity workers that their actions in China will be heavily curtailed. Speaking to business leaders in Seattle in United States, Xi said of foreign NGOs in China: “So long as their activities are beneficial to the Chinese people, we will not restrict or prohibit their operations.” “On their part, foreign NGOs in China need to obey Chinese law and carry out activities in accordance with the law,” he added. Chinese state-run media have in recent months accused foreign NGOs of undermining national security and trying to foment a “colour revolution” against the ruling Communist Party. According to drafts of the law being considered by the Communist-controlled legislature, overseas NGOs will have to “partner” at least one Chinese government department. They will also have to submit “work plans” detailing their activities to Chinese police for approval, among other measures. Overseas charities and business groups have said they believe the law will seriously restrict their operations in China, and the vague wording of its references to “security” has raised fears it could give police wide-ranging discretionary powers. “The draft law is unfriendly to a whole range of activities and to the future of independent civil society,” Isabel Hilton, founder of environmental NGO China Dialogue, wrote in an online commentary in May. The Communist Party under Xi has tightened controls on civil society, jailing dozens of activists and this year detaining five feminists affiliated with an anti-discrimination NGO, while also hauling in more than 130 lawyers for questioning, some of whom have been held for months. ^ top ^

China-Britain economic dialogue fruitful (Xinhua)
2015-09-23
Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai and British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on Monday co-chaired the 7th China-Britain Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD), reaching 53 agreements ranging from nuclear energy, high-speed railway to an expanded currency swap line. The current round of EFD aims to implement the consensus reached by both heads of government last year to pave the way for the meeting between the leaders next month, Ma said. The steady economic growth in China and Britain is a bright spot in a gloomy global economy, said Ma. He called on both countries to enhance cooperation within the G20, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank so as to push forward the coordination on international macro economic policy as well as reforms on global economic governance system. He encouraged both sides to cooperate on trade and investment. Osborne said Britain is looking forward to President Xi's visit next month. Britain has confidence in China's economy and would like to be the most open of China's trading partners among western countries, he said. Britain supports the internationalization of RMB and looks forward to China holding the G20 Presidency in 2016. Britain has approved a guarantee worth up to two billion pounds (3.1 billion U.S. dollars) for Hinkley Point C, paving the way for China to invest in Britain's nuclear industry. The People's Bank of China will issue a RMB denominated central bank note in London in the near future, the first outside of China, said the document. The two sides also agree to extend and expand the RMB/Sterling swap line and to carry out a feasibility study on a stock connect between London and Shanghai. Britain is committed to work with China on the Belt and Road initiative and China is committed to supporting Britain's "Northern Powerhouse." Both sides agree to encourage participation in Britain's HS2 railway project. China was Britain's sixth largest goods export market in 2014, up from 14th in 2013. Britain attracted nearly 12 billion U.S. dollars of Chinese foreign direct investment in 2013, more than France and Germany combined. ^ top ^

Chinese firm joins hands with African telecommunication union to boost ICT (Xinhua)
2015-09-21
Chinese technology firm Huawei and the African Telecommunication Union (ATU) on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at enhancing information and communication technology (ICT) capability and literacy in Africa. Huawei Technologies Kenya Country Manager Dean Yu told a media briefing in Nairobi that his firm will provide technical support to African states to increase their uptake of ICT. "We will leverage our resources in order to introduce the most innovative solutions to Africa," Yu said on the sidelines of the ICT media training workshop. Under the agreement, the Chinese technology giant will share its vast technical know-how in order to spur ICT development on the continent. Huawei has presence in most of the 54 African states where it works closely with telecom firms to expand coverage mobile telephony. "Our aim is to ensure that Africa is able to bridge its digital divide," said the country manager, adding that ICT can be used to improve the efficiency of all sectors of the economy. "There is a positive correlation between level of ICT use and the level of economic development," he added. ATU Secretary General Soumalia Abdoulkarim said that Africa, whose broadband penetration rate stands at approximately ten percent, is the lowest of any region in the world, and Huawei will help African states develop and implement their national broadband strategies. African states have set a goal of achieving universal broadband access by the year 2020. Abdoulkarim said that some countries such as Kenya are leading the continent in broad brand connectivity through national programs. The secretary general urged governments to provide incentive for the private sector to rollout broad band, especially to the rural areas. "Through use of broadband, the education and health sectors can reach the level of developed countries," he said. ^ top ^

Former Chinese tycoon, who fled to Canada then Spain with wife after 200-million-yuan fraud, extradited back to China (SCMP)
2015-09-21
Ding Qingping, who built his fortune on real estate, has been extradited from Spain to China, where he is wanted for fraud totalling more than 200 million yuan (HK$243 million), mainland media reported yesterday. Ding fled China with his wife seven years ago, leaving behind huge debts and an unfinished high-rise in Zhejiang province, the Qianjiang Evening News reported, citing police sources. The couple went to Canada before settling down in Spain, according to the report. Ding started out as a small contractor but became a major player in real estate after launching Zhonggang Group in 2003. The company developed projects in several cities in Zhejiang, including Hangzhou, Ningbo, Yiwu and Jinhua. To raise funds for a new project in Jinhua, Ding secured bank loans worth as much as 200 million yuan and took another 90 million yuan from individual borrowers, the newspaper said. But he was unable to pay the high interest. On September 28, 2008, he sent all his employees on a holiday to Hainan province, took the company's money and boarded a flight from Shanghai to Canada with his wife. In Canada, Ding obtained residency through an immigration investment scheme. But he ran out of money and turned to blackmailing his mistresses based on the mainland. He contacted them and asked to meet him in hotels in Hong Kong and elsewhere where he secretly taped his sexual encounters with them. He then blackmailed them for money, the report said. In 2011, mainland police issued a red notice to Interpol, requesting member countries locate and arrest Ding. He was arrested in Spain in December, the report said. A Spanish court agreed earlier this month to the Chinese authorities' extradition request. ^ top ^

China launches new workhorse 'Long March' rocket with 20 'micro satellites' aboard (SCMP)
2015-09-21
China on Sunday launched a new, smaller type of rocket from its "Long March" family which will be primarily used for carrying satellites aloft, state media reported, as the country races ahead with an ambitious space programme. The Long March 6, a newly developed carrier rocket which uses liquid propellant, took off from a launch base in Shanxi province carrying 20 "micro" satellites, Xinhua said. The white rocket, imprinted with the Chinese flag at the top, climbed into bluish-grey skies, footage aired by CCTV showed. One official suggested the smaller rocket would make China more competitive in the lucrative market for commercial satellite launches. "We believe it will greatly boost the competitiveness of Chinese carrier rockets in the international market," Zhang Weidong, chief designer at the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, told Xinhua. "The new model will also significantly improve our ability to access space." China is launching its own satellites as it continues to build a home-grown navigation system, but also carries out launches for other countries and commercial companies. The rocket was 29.3 metres high, shorter than others actively used in China's space programme, reports said. Long March 6 uses fuel composed of liquid oxygen and kerosene, which is said to be free of toxicity and pollution. State media hailed the achievement, saying the launch marked a record for the number of satellites carried by a Chinese rocket and its first time for the "environmentally-friendly" fuel. The small satellites would be used for "experiments" in technology and new products, CCTV said, but gave no details. China's space programme, which has potential military applications, is shrouded in secrecy. "The separation control for 20 satellites required high accuracy, precision and reliability," Hao Yaofeng, a technician at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre, told CCTV. A 2011 policy paper issued by the State Council, or cabinet, said the Long March 6 would be capable of placing a tonne of payload into orbit at a height of 700 kilometres. State media publicly announced plans for the Long March 6 in 2009, but said at the time the first launch was scheduled for 2013. ^ top ^

China and ASEAN launch cross-border B2B platform (China Daily)
2015-09-20
China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have launched a cross-border Business-to-Business (B2B) platform to further strengthen trade ties. Leaders from chambers of commerce and industry from ASEAN countries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation for a cross-border B2B platform with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), during the 12th China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Saturday. The platform will provide information for enterprises from both sides, including trade matching, overseas financing, logistics, customs clearance, policy sharing and legal assistance. Somyod Tangmeelarp, vice chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said: "The establishment of the China-ASEAN cross-border B2B platform is an example of concerted efforts to encourage trade and investment engagement with the member countries of ASEAN and China in order to create more business connections for this region "It is hoped this platform would facilitate the innovative development of the bilateral economic and trade cooperation and further strengthen the links of trade between China and ASEAN in the years to come". Zaw Min Win, chairman of the Myanmar Industries Association, said bilateral trade between Myanmar and China has tripled in the past 10 years, and China ranks first in Myanmar's border trade with volume reaching $3.199 billion this year, followed by Thailand. He added that in order to further expand the cross-border B2B market, the governments of China and ASEAN countries are encouraged to come up with favorable polices and frameworks. Meanwhile, the associations of commerce and industry in the region should strengthen communication about economy, trade, finance, investment, marketing and technology. Founded in 1967, ASEAN groups Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Brunei and Cambodia. According to CCPIT, the launch of the cross-border e-commerce platform will enrich an upgraded version of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, promote the diversified and innovative development of economic and trade cooperation and strengthen trade ties. At the 11th China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit last year, government officials, representatives from commerce associations and scholars from China and ASEAN countries suggested establishing a diversified cross-border e-commerce platform to promote the healthy development of small- and medium-sized enterprises and strengthen cooperation. ^ top ^

Chinese fugitive repatriated from US 'helped launder money for his sister' who is also wanted by Beijing (SCMP)
2015-09-20
A Chinese fugitive repatriated by the United States is alleged to have set up a company to launder money for his sister, another fugitive now in custody in the US. The repatriation of Yang Jinjun, 57, comes ahead of President Xi Jinping's visit to the US, which begins tomorrow and is likely to feature anti-corruption cooperation high on its agenda. Yang, from Wenzhou, the former general manager and legal representative of Minghe Group, fled China in 2001 amid suspicions of bribery and corruption. He was repatriated on Friday, but his sister Yang Xiuzhu, who fled two years later, remains in the US where she is in custody on immigration charges. Both were on a list of 100 wanted fugitives released by Beijing. Xinhua reported yesterday that Yang Jinjun had turned to his sister, then deputy mayor of Wenzhou, after a business loss in 1996 left him in debt. His sister allegedly asked a real estate developer under the local railway department to transfer 11 million yuan (HK$13million) to her brother's account. A business partner of Yang Jinjun told Xinhua his company was set up to "help Yang Xiuzhu with money laundering". Minghe Group, set up in 1995, covered businesses ranging from metals to electromechanical appliances. Yang Xiuzhu fled China in 2003, after failing to rescue another brother, Yang Guangrong, who was a deputy manager of the real estate developer that transferred the money. He was sentenced to 101/2 in jail in 2004 for receiving bribes. Corruption allegations against Yang Xiuzhu involved a total of 253 million yuan, the city's anti-corruption watchdog said in 2004. She stood trial in the US in June for violating immigra and remains in custody. Yang Jinjun had spent most of his money in the US and led a "destitute life", a source told Xinhua. Before his repatriation he had been in US custody since 2014 on immigration charges. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Tianjin warehouse blasts: Evidence of corruption, says Chinese premier as he vows nobody will be exempt from punishment (SCMP)
2015-09-24
Investigations into a blast at a chemical warehouse in Tianjin that killed 165 people have uncovered evidence of corruption and dereliction of duty on behalf of officials. Those found responsible of such wrongdoing would be held fully accountable, whoever they were, Premier Li Keqiang vowed on Tuesday after hearing from the investigation panel. “Punish those who should be punished, sack those who should be sacked, no exemption for the corrupt,” he said. “Blood should not be shed in vain.” Various departments should learn from the accident and improve industrial safety, he added. In a rare move, the investigation panel is being headed by the Ministry of Public Security – usually such panels are headed by the State Administration of Work Safety. Li's remarks, which came more than a month since the explosions on August 12, coincided with an announcement by local government of compensation plans for homeowners living near the site. However, may of the residents say the plans will not be enough to get their lives back on track. About a week after the blasts the government agreed to buy back about 10,000 homes following repeated protests by owners who blamed lax regulations for their loss. After more than a month of negotiations with owners, Tianjin's Binhai New Area, where the blast took place, yesterday set compensation levels at 10,000 to 14,000 yuan per square metre for seven residential compounds. Apartments would be bought at 1.3 times the total price. “The compensation is only enough for smaller houses. Or we have to buy houses 15km from here, where there are no schools or stores,” said Wu Jiang, an owner refusing to sign the agreement. His house at Harbour City is around 800 metres from the blast site. “The negotiation will be tough but we will hold on,” he said. “I can't afford to lose my lifetime savings.” Average house prices in Binhai New Area climbed more than 12 per cent in September, according to the Bohai Morning Post, making it hard for residents to find a new home nearby. Staying in a rented apartment 30km away, Wu and his wife face a three-hour bus commute to their offices near the explosion site. “I don't know what to do. The problem of settlement haunts me all the time,” Wu said. In defiance of the official compensation plans, some owners sealed their buildings and now guard the gates. “We do this so [repairman sent by the government] can't come in and destroy evidence,” said Wu Guoqiang, an owner at Vanke's Jinyu Lanwan development, close to the explosion site. He believes splashes of unidentified white chemicals and pieces of steel that litter the compound are evidence of damage to their homes. “We want only to buy a house of the same quality,” he said. Xiang Xiulan, who once joined protests against the government, now sits back and watches at most negotiation sessions. “What can ordinary people like me do?” she said. “People are petitioning and looking for lawyers. What help does it do?” Powerless as she feels, she still won't accept the official deal. “Winter is coming. I hope a new solution comes soon.” Others, tired of the negotiations, are ready to accept the deals. “It can cover what I paid for my house. I'll just wait for house prices to drop. They are too high at the moment,” said an owner surnamed Duan. “It's too tiring arguing with the government.” ^ top ^

Unbowed, unbent, unbroken: Chinese rights lawyer speaks out on his torture with an electric baton and years in solitary confinement (SCMP)
2015-09-23
In his first interview in five years, leading Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng said he was tortured with an electric baton to his face and spent three years in solitary confinement during his latest period of detention since 2010. The Nobel Peace Prize nominee also vowed to never leave China despite the hardships and having to live apart from his family. For years, Gao's supporters feared he might perish inside a remote Chinese prison. He survived his prison term. But when he was released in August 2014 from prison to house arrest, the formerly outspoken lawyer could barely walk or speak a full, intelligible sentence, raising concerns that one of the most inspirational figures in China's rights movement had been permanently broken – physically and mentally. “Every time we emerge from the prison alive, it is a defeat for our opponents,” Gao said in a face-to-face interview. Gao, who lives under near-constant guard in Shaanxi province, gave the interview earlier this year on the condition that it not be published or aired for several months, until he could finish the manuscripts of two books and send them safely outside of China for publication, which he now says he has done. He also later sent his manuscripts and gave permission to quote from them. The 51-year-old attorney gained international recognition for his courage defending members of the outlawed spiritual movement Falun Gong and fighting for the land rights of farmers. In and out of detention since 2006, Gao upset authorities in 2010 by publicly denouncing the torture he said he had undergone. In this year's interview and in one of his books, he recounts a new round of torture as well as three years in solitary confinement which he says he survived thanks only to his faith in God and his unwavering hope for China. He also declared his decision not to go into exile outside China, even if that meant being separated from his wife, daughter and son, who are living in the United States. “I thought about giving up and giving my time to my family, but it's the mission God has given me” to stay in China, Gao said. Gao's wife, Geng He, said in California that she does not understand why her husband continues to be kept under house arrest and that she hopes Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama discuss her husband's case when they meet in Washington this week. “I don't understand why the government has to imprison him. He is just a lawyer. His legal profession requires him to help and serve others. Why is he being treated like this?” she said in the city of Cupertino. “He is standing up for greater freedom in China.” One of Gao's two books – yet to be published – predicts that the authoritarian rule under the Communist Party will end in 2017 – a revelation he says he received from God. He also outlines a plan to build up a democratic, modern China after the party's collapse. Much of the book also details inhumane treatment behind bars. The second book is addressed to his son and tells his family's story. Faxed questions to the Chinese ministries of public security, justice and foreign affairs regarding Gao's allegations of torture and his current condition were not answered. Jerome Cohen, a law professor at New York University and an expert on China's legal system, said Gao had become a symbol of the repression of rights lawyers in China and that it was heartening to hear that he had given an interview. “I had worried that Gao had become a forgotten man,” Cohen said. “He was the leading human rights lawyer in China. He was a bold, courageous, outspoken person, and they broke him, they broke him in the cruelest way.” Since his release from Shaya Prison in the far western region of Xinjiang, Gao has been staying with his oldest brother inside a family home in a cave scooped out of a cliff in Gao's native Shaanxi province. He is under watch nearly around the clock. Convicted in 2006 of subversion and sentenced to three years, he was released on probation but was periodically taken away for torture, he said. After his wife and children fled China in January 2009, Gao was secretly detained again by security agents. He briefly resurfaced from state detention in April 2010, when he met his family and gave an interview detailing how he was hooded and beaten. He disappeared the next day. At that time, he was detained again, he said in this year's interview and in his manuscript. In his book he says he endured more torture, including with an electric baton to his face – a moment that he remembers as a near out-of-body experience when he heard his own voice. “Undoubtedly, it was from me. I don't know how to describe it,” Gao wrote. “That sound was almost like a dog howling when its tail is forcibly stepped on by its master. Sometimes it sounded like what a puppy makes when it's hung upside by its tail.” Gao said that during all his years of detention he was able to build up a mental barrier against the physical perception of pain. “This is a special ability I have acquired to allow me to survive difficult times,” Gao said. He was a bold, courageous, outspoken person, and they broke him, they broke him in the cruelest way Jerome Cohen, a law professor at New York University Gao said he was secretly tried in December 2011. It was only then that the government said it was moving Gao to prison, the first time it had acknowledged holding him. He said he was hooded and taken outside for the first time in 21 months in the winter of 2011. “It was the first time I heard a dog bark and that I could breathe fresh air,” he said. After he was moved to a prison in Xinjiang, he was no longer physically beaten for any long stretch of time, but he was confined to a room of eight square metres without windows or ventilation for three years – so long that he said he could not cope with wider spaces upon release. “I found I could not walk at the airport, but I could walk inside the lock-up room,” he said. Gao said that during one period of his three years in the Xinjiang prison, authorities installed a loudspeaker in his cell that sent out propaganda on socialist values for 68 weeks straight. Now out of prison, Gao said he was able to speak daily to his wife and children in California. He said he wanted to be reunited with his family but that he felt he must stay in China. “My wife is suffering, but I can do nothing,” he said. “I understand those persecuted souls who have left China and I am glad for them, but I cannot be among them. I cannot go,” Gao said.  ^ top ^

China Headlines: China initiates new round of reform and opening up (Xinhua)
2015-09-23
Trying to restart a slowing economic growth, China's President Xi Jinping has decided to deepen the reform and open up the country wider to the outside world. "China will stay strongly committed to deepening its reform on all fronts while opening still wider to the outside world," Xi told the Wall Street Journal in a written interview before he departed for an official state visit to the United States on Tuesday. This was the second time in a week that the president reassured the market, that the policies which brought wealth and prosperity to China's people will continue, deeper and wider. Last week, Xi told a room of former U.S. officials and business leaders that China is fully committed to reform and opening up and he hoped they would actively support it. While China and the United States are expecting much from Xi's visit, China-Britain cooperation has born fruit. On Monday, the two countries reached 53 agreements on nuclear energy, high-speed railway, infrastructure among many others at the 7th China-Britain Economic and Financial Dialogue in Beijing. […] The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Belt and Road initiative are among China's efforts to supplement the existing international order and overhaul global governance. The phrase "opening up" frequently appears in policy statements and headlines at a time when China needs to find new sources of growth. During a tumultuous summer, Chinese stocks were hit by repeated plunges and most of economic indicators were soft. Worries arose about whether China can sustain medium-to-high speed growth. Reform and opening up is China's solution. Last week, Xi said opening up and reform will add new impetus and vitality to the economy and provide new room for growth. "China should be committed to attracting foreign investment and expertise, and improve opening-up policies," he said, addressing the 16th Meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform. "The government will not change its policy toward foreign investment, and will protect the lawful interests of foreign-funded companies and provide better services for them," said a statement released after the meeting. China promised to make a national "negative list" by 2018, of sectors which are not fully open to all market entities, both domestic and overseas. Border areas will explore new models of cross-border cooperation and new mechanisms for regional growth. More state-controlled sectors will be opened to private investors and it will be easier for foreigners to apply for permanent residence permits. […] ^ top ^

Chinese local government officials detained over man's death in house fire during land dispute (SCMP)
2015-09-22
Several local officials in eastern China have been detained after a man died in a fire at his village home while defending it from a demolition gang, state media reports. The case underscores continuing violence in the mainland's frequent land disputes. Those suspected of culpability in the death of homeowner Zhang Jimin, 46, had been directly responsible for an urban renewal project in Difang township, in the Shandong provincial city of Linyi, the Xinhua news agency and state broadcaster CCTV reported last Friday. Among those detained were Difang's Communist Party secretary Wei Yunbo and Guan Yansheng, party secretary of the township's Donggu community, Xinhua news agency said. Zhang was burned to death and his house gutted in last week's incident, which followed a prolonged disagreement over the terms of compensation offered for his home. The local authority plans to demolish the homes of more than 700 households in the farmer's village. Mobile phone footage of the incident circulating widely on mainland social media shows what appears to be a group of men throwing stones and gasoline-filled containers into the house, which quickly begins billowing smoke while flames shoot from windows. The use of thugs and strong-arm tactics in housing demolitions is relatively common in China, where local governments are heavily reliant on land sales to top up their coffers. Corrupt officials can pocket generous kickbacks through collusion with real estate developers, giving them even more incentive to force out incalcitrant homeowners. The total number of people detained was not immediately clear. An investigation at the city government level was ordered after the video footage and eyewitness reports raised questions about official claims that Zhang had set the fire himself. Local government officials had denied being at fault over Zhang's death. They claimed that Zhang had earlier bought nine litres of petrol with the intention of killing himself, The Beijing News reported last week. ^ top ^

China Focus: China issues white paper on gender equality, women's development (Xinhua)
2015-09-22
China issued a white paper on gender equality and women's development on Tuesday, providing a comprehensive overview of the country's policies for women and the unremitting efforts made in this regard. Gender equality and women's development in China not only shows the country's own progress, but also constitute a historical contribution made to global equality, development and peace, said the white paper, which was released to mark the 20th anniversary of the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing. As part of the commemoration, UN Women and China will co-host a high-level global leaders' meeting on gender equality and women's empowerment at UN headquarters on Sept. 27, which will be chaired by President Xi Jinping. More than 70 world leaders are expected to make concrete commitments and firm pledges to overcome gender equality gaps. […]The white paper said China has always upheld the constitutional principle of equality between men and women, which is also a basic state policy for promoting progress in the country and society. China fully protects the economic interests of women, promoting women's equal participation in economic development and equal access to the fruits of reform and development, said the white paper. Significant progress has been made in alleviating poverty among women, it said. To create favorable conditions for women's employment and career development, China has also implemented policies to equalize the retirement age for female middle-ranking officials, senior professionals and technicians at state organs and public institutions. The country has pushed policies to facilitate the growth of female scientists and promote equal employment opportunities for female college graduates, it said. China has also improved the level of social security for women, including maternity, old-age, medical, unemployment and work-related injury insurance, according to the paper. […] Maternal and child health services have also become more equitable and accessible in China. The state has worked hard to improve community-level maternal and child health services and managed to provide full life-cycle health services for women, it said. Women's participation in decision making and management has markedly improved in China, according to the white paper. China values the role of women in people's congresses by improving their representation in the ranks of deputies to people's congresses at various levels, it said. A marked improvement has been seen in gender equality in marriages and families in China over the past 20 years. […] In 2014, China established 3,737 legal aid institutions, providing help to 352,000 women. Compared with 2000, the number of legal aid institutions increased by 97.7 percent, and the number of women receiving legal aid increased by 310,000. The country's first anti-domestic violence legislation was reviewed during last month's bimonthly legislative session, which has made various breakthroughs toward bringing the social-cultural taboo under the scrutiny of law. The Chinese government first issued a white paper in 1991, stating Chinese policies on various topics ranging from economy, politics and culture, and has released 96 white papers. ^ top ^

877 investigated for corruption in financial sector (China Daily)
2015-09-22
Chinese prosecutors investigated 877 people in the financial sector for bribery or abuse of power between January 2014 and June 2015, the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) revealed on Wednesday. Nearly 75 percent of them worked in banks, spokesperson Xiao Wei said during a press briefing. The rest were mainly from insurance companies and securities agencies. More than half of the 877 were suspected of taking or giving bribes, according to Xiao. Thirty people were investigated in cases each involving at least 30 million yuan (4.7 million U.S. dollars), and the aggregated value amounted to 2 billion yuan. The SPP also promised to strengthen management of stock brokerages and crack down on insider trading and manipulation of securities and futures markets. Anti-corruption authorities announced on Tuesday that Zhang Yujun, assistant chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, had been removed from office for "severe disciplinary violations" amid wild swings in China's stock markets in recent months. The commission also handed a fine of 553 million yuan to Qingdao Donghai Ever-Trusting Fund, one of five companies and individuals confirmed to have rigged the markets, and said it would confiscate its 184 million yuan of illegal gains. ^ top ^

China needs checks and balances to protect lawyers' rights, say experts (SCMP)
2015-09-22
Measures announced by China's authorities to protect the rights of lawyers and judges will not lead to genuine changes if upholding the Communist Party's interests remains the goal of the legal system, experts say. The absence of punishment and the lack of checks and balances in the judiciary and legal system also contribute towards the ineffectiveness, they say. A set of rules for safeguarding lawyers' rights was jointly announced on Sunday by the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Justice. The rules say a range of lawyers' rights that are often violated, including their access to case files, evidence collection as well as their right to visit their clients, should be respected. The top court said yesterday the power of judges to make independent rulings should be respected and they should be free from interference from the government or individuals. It said judges would also be held responsible for a range of misconduct, including bribe-taking and falsification of evidence. Legal experts say that while the measures are well-intentioned, similar moves have been announced in the past but were ineffective because of the lack of punitive measures and the lack of checks and balances within the system. Lawyer Liang Xiaojun, director at Beijing Daoheng Law Firm, said there was no effective check-and-balance mechanism between the police, prosecution authorities and the judiciary and they often colluded and turned a blind eye to abuses in the system. He also said the sweeping crackdown on rights lawyers and increased media censorship meant no one was holding the authorities accountable. At least 286 lawyers and activists have been targeted in the campaign, rights groups say, and more than 20 remained detained on criminal charges or under "residential surveillance". "The crackdown on lawyers and the muzzling of the media means the real power of check-and-balance has been extinguished," Liang said. Joshua Rosenzweig, a law researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said one of the rules regarding the protection of rights lawyers simply reiterated the existing practice that they should have access to criminal suspects except in sensitive cases related to state security. He said lawyers should have access in all cases. Liang said it would be impossible to have genuine rule of law on the mainland so long as the court system remained controlled by the party and lawyers were supposed to obey it. Last week, the steering group on national reforms, chaired by President Xi Jinping, adopted guidelines on the protection of the legal profession, but a document released after the meeting stressed the country should build up a team of "high-quality lawyers" who support "the leadership of the party and socialist rule of law". "Rules in China are not created with the idea of a rule of law in general. They're intended to discipline and regulate processes that are intended to serve a bigger purpose, which is … to serve the interests of the party," Rosenzweig said. "Rule of law doesn't enter into it." ^ top ^

Chinese state media makes rare report of assault on villagers in land dispute with officials (SCMP)
2015-09-21
Villagers in eastern China were physically assaulted by “urban management officers” while blocking road construction on land that local residents say is illegally occupied, state media reported. The Modern Express newspaper reported on Saturday that villagers in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province were obstructing construction on land which they claimed had not yet been signed over to the government. The newspaper is owned by state news agency Xinhua, and the report circulated widely online on Monday. Urban management officers, known informally as chengguan, are contracted security guards hired by cities and local governments to patrol streets against beggars and unlicensed hawkers. They are often poorly disciplined and detested by ordinary citizens for their heavy-handed ways. A number of high-profile incidents in which people were beaten to death or severely injured have resulted in major protests and even riots in many provinces. Such incidents are rarely reported in official media. Citing a video posted by internet users on Thursday, the report said at least eight men wearing urban management uniforms were seen in a standoff against four villagers. The guards were seen punching two villagers while one was seen smashing his helmet over a villager. It was reported that the local village government transferred land occupation money to villagers' bank accounts without their consent. Villagers did not agree to the compensation and proceeded to block a bulldozer from tearing up 20 hectares of farmland. Illegal land grabs by local officials is a major source of public discontent in China Villager Luo Gonghao told the newspaper that he had been beaten by four officers and claimed that his brother, Luo Gongcheng, was treated in hospital for four rib fractures. A number of officers involved in the conflict were suspended while two villagers were arrested for posting the video online, pending a police investigation. ^ top ^

China prosecutors investigate 140,000 suspects in anti-graft drive (Xinhua)
2015-09-21
Prosecutors handled 110,000 corruption cases, involving 140,000 suspects, from the beginning of 2013 until this August, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP). "Our country has been taking decisive anti-corruption measures since 2013 and made notable achievements in handling corruption cases," said SPP Vice President Sun Qian on Monday at a press conference. A sweeping campaign against corruption and extravagance was launched after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in late 2012 when the new leadership headed by Xi Jinping vowed to crack down on corruption. The campaign is still going strong as discipline inspections routinely uncover misbehaving officials at various levels and pass their cases to judicial organs. According to Sun, an increasing number of senior officials are among the judicial targets. In 2013, eight officials at or above the provincial or ministerial level were under judicial investigation. Last year, the number rose to 28, while the first eight months of 2015 have already seen the fall of 26. Among them were Zhou Yongkang, former Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, who was sentenced to life in prison for graft in June, and Ling Jihua, a former senior political advisor who is still under prosecutors' investigation. ^ top ^

China's legal rights: lawyers win some, lose some (SCMP)
2015-09-20
Lawyers' rights to access case files and visit their clients are protected by a set of regulations issued by Beijing on Sunday. But rather than feel relieved, some lawyers said the regulations also contained restrictions on releasing case details to the public. The regulations say procuratorates and courts should allow defence counsels to read case files, safeguarding their "right to know". But the regulations also prohibit lawyers from releasing information contained in the case files. They say the information must not be used for any purpose other than defending the case. It is common for lawyers on the mainland to release legal documents or court materials to the public to call attention to cases, particularly politically charged ones or proceedings in which law enforcement officials are accused of ignoring due process. It is also common for criminal lawyers to talk publicly about their cases even while a trial is under way. Lawyers argue this lets the public better supervise legal departments and helps ensure they do not interfere in the judicial process. Beijing-based criminal lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said the move to restrict the release of case details was intended to fend off public pressure. "We used to disclose misconduct by the legal departments, some of them very absurd, causing great public outrage," he said. A clause in the regulations that used vague terms such as "important information" could be abused, Liu said. Another new restriction was that lawyers would need approval before reading and copying legal files related to state secrets, Shanghai-based lawyer Si Weijiang said. The regulations say prisons should allow defence counsels to meet defendants. In cases where this cannot happen immediately, prisons must explain the delay and ensure the meeting is arranged within 48 hours. "[The new regulation] will give some help to lawyers defending general cases," Liu said. "But there are still plenty of ways to get around them when it comes to sensitive cases." He said in sensitive cases law departments could resort to residential surveillance of suspects, effectively precluding their lawyer from seeing them. The new regulations did nothing to prevent this, he said. ^ top ^

Children cough blood and animals die as Chinese factory leaks ammonia (SCMP)
2015-09-19
An ammonia leak at a chemical factory in Henan province left at least 20 people ill - five with severe symptoms - the mainland media has reported. A pipeline transporting ammonia at a chemical factory in Shilong district of Pingdingshan city ruptured at around 6.30am yesterday. About 300kg of ammonia leaked for 15 minutes, creating low-hanging white fog around the area, before the factory brought the situation under control, according to an official statement from the district government. It said no ammonia was detected in the air about three hours after the rupture. Photos circulating on social media showed dead dogs, birds and frogs on the ground, and villagers said some children had coughed up blood after inhaling the chemical, according to mainland media. "Around 5.40am, there was suddenly the sound of an explosion. It was very loud," villager Sun Wenzhen was quoted as saying by The Beijing News. After the blast, the white fog began to emerge, covering the village, Sun recalled. "There was a pungent smell. One could tell it was ammonia right away," he said. "Some people passed out and others coughed blood," Sun said, adding that the more than 100 pigs in his farm were foaming at the mouth. Another villager said several children in the village were foaming at the mouth or coughing up blood. "There was a child running past my doorstep, with blood running out of his nose and mouth. My son was so scared [by the sight] and wouldn't stop crying," the villager was quoted as saying. The villager's mother added: "The child was about seven or eight years old. He's from the neighbouring village. He was running, led by his father, with a hand covering his mouth. There were blood stains on his clothes and his hand." She said she had just returned from the hospital and was still feeling dizzy and nauseous. Photos posted by a provincial television broadcaster and circulated on social media showed dead dogs, sparrows and frogs on the ground. Plants had withered and turned yellow. The official statement did not report any deaths, but Sun said a villager in his 70s died after the leak. Another villager said the victim, Zhang Chang, died on the way to hospital. The mainland has a notoriously bad record for industrial and workplace safety. In August, massive explosions at a warehouse storing hazardous chemicals in the northern port city of Tianjin killed 173 people. The warehouse was located within 600 metres of a residential complex. Ten days after the Tianjin blasts, a chemical plant in Shandong province exploded, killing one person and injuring nine others. In 2013, an ammonia leak from an industrial refrigeration plant in Shanghai killed at least 15 people and left another 25 injured. It was later discovered that a cap on a pipe carrying the liquid ammonia had fallen off. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Six runners and a race official suffer heart attacks during Beijing Marathon amid 'unhealthy' pollution (SCMP)
2015-09-21
Six runners and one race official suffered heart attacks during yesterday's Beijing Marathon. One was a 30-year-old man who suddenly passed out just 4km from the finish line of the 42km race. The Legal Evening News said he had regained consciousness after being rushed to hospital. He was one of six runners and one official to have been taken to hospital after suffering heart attacks, The Beijing Times reported. At 10am, shortly after the fastest runners were finishing, the USembassy in Beijing recorded an Air Quality Index level of 175. It classes levels between 151-200 as "unhealthy" and advises people to "reduce prolonged or heavy exertion" during such periods. Some of the runners wore masks as protection. About 30,000 runners took part in this year's event, with the mass of participants so great it took nearly half an hour for all of them to cross the start line, state news agency Xinhua reported. Kenyan Mariko Kipchumba, 41, crossed the line in 2 hours 11 minutes to become the first non-Ethiopian athlete to win the event since 2011. Berhanu Tolcha from Ethiopia came second in 2:11:37, followed by Wirimai Juwawo of Zimbabwe, who finished in 2:14:25. In the women's competition, Ethiopian runner Betelhem Cherenet took the title in 2:27:31. Abebech Bekele from Ethiopia and Sin Yong-sun from North Korea came second and third. The Beijing Marathon, which was first held in 1981, is a Gold Label Road Race certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations and recorded by the Association of International Marathons and Road Races. In last year's event, runners braved chocking smog with the government issuing a blue warning for air pollution. A blue warning means air quality is unsuitable for outdoor activities. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang official slams burqa use, white paper cites economic progress (Global Times)
2015-09-25
Burqa is the "garment of extremism," not ethnic minority costume nor Muslim clothes, a senior government official in Xinjiang said at a press conference of the State Council Information Office on Thursday. "We Uyghur people don't like to see women wear such kinds of clothes either, and by covering the eyes, the burqa represents some kind of backwardness," Shewket Imin, an official of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee of the Communist Party of China, said at the press conference on Thursday, where a white paper on Xinjiang's decades of development was also released. Shewket said there are problems involving people using burqas to hide their identity, citing men who wear female burqas to abduct children. "Wearing burqas is not required to fulfill religious freedom, nor a tradition for Uyghurs or Muslims," Xu Jianying, a research fellow from the Research Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the policy on religious freedom has been implemented together with the policy on ethnic regional autonomy. The democratic reform of the religious system and law-based management of religious affairs have helped the harmonious coexistence among different religions in Xinjiang, read the white paper. Xinjiang currently has 24,800 venues for religious activities, including mosques, churches, Buddhist temples and Taoist temples with 29,300 clerical practitioners, said the white paper. Xinjiang officials have been very supportive with numerous commemorative activities during Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, added Shewket. During Ramadan, Xinjiang authorities offered around 1,000 tons of fresh mutton through nearly 200 sales outlets in 39 counties administered by 11 prefectures and cities, reported the Xinhua News Agency. In the regional capital Urumqi, over 40,000 Muslim residents had meals at the mosque every night. While pursuing the policy of religious freedom and protecting normal religious activity, authorities have worked hard against extremism to ensure peace and security, and effectively prevented the spread of religious extremism, the white paper said. "Religious extremists have taken advantage of religious freedom to twist and politicize some religious doctrines," said Xu. The battle against religious extremists and terrorism is global, which has safeguarded the interests of believers, he added. Li Wei, a security expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that 95 percent of terrorist activities in Xinjiang have been aborted, a significant improvement in anti-terrorism efforts. Li said civilians should not be fooled by propaganda from religious extremists. The central government has invested nearly 1.7 trillion yuan ($266.6 billion) in the region over the past 60 years, and Xinjiang's GDP in 2014 was 115 times higher than in 1955, according to the white paper. Over the past five years, education expenditure has exceeded 250 billion yuan. By 2014, 96.5 percent of the local population had access to radios and 96.9 percent to televisions. ^ top ^

Xinjiang ethnic regional autonomy a success: white paper (Xinhua)
2015-09-24
Xinjiang's modernization and development show successful implementation of China's system of ethnic regional autonomy in the region, according to a white paper issued on Thursday. The paper, focusing on ethnic equality, unity and development in the region, was issued by the State Council Information Office ahead of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Implementing regional autonomy in areas in which ethnic minorities live in concentrated communities is a fundamental of China's political system. It is an appropriate way to handle ethnic issues, the white paper said. The system accords with the situation in China and with the realities in Xinjiang, according to the paper, which also noted that Xinjiang has been the home to people of many Chinese ethnic groups since ancient times. The system acts as "a bulwark to national unification and to the equality, unity and development of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang," it claimed. Xinjiang's economy has developed rapidly over the past six decades, accelerating the region's modernization and laying a solid foundation for improved standard of living and progress in social programs. The region's gross regional product (GRP) increased from 1.2 billion yuan (188.1 million U.S. dollars) in 1955 to 927.3 billion yuan in 2014, a 116-fold increase in real terms while its per-capita GRP rose to 40,648 yuan in 2014 from 241 yuan in 1955, a 23-fold increase in real terms, and a 5.6-percent annual growth. The government is working to optimize the economic structure, local infrastructure is being made more complete, and progress has been made in opening Xinjiang up to the outside world. "Xinjiang has become an information society," the white paper said. The white paper said people of various ethnic groups in the autonomous region have benefited from the fruits of reform and development. Since 2010, Xinjiang has stepped up efforts to improve people's living standards. Over the past six years, expenditure on improving livelihoods accounted for over 70 percent of the region's yearly public spending. In education, schools have admitted more students, with the university and college admission rate growing from 64 percent to 79 percent, bringing Xinjiang to a similar level as the rest of the country in terms of higher education take-up. Bilingual education has also promoted relations among ethnic groups, in addition to improving employment of ethnic minorities, according to the white paper. […] The Chinese government is fully committed to a policy of freedom of religious belief, and this policy has been implemented in Xinjiang, according to the paper. It said Xinjiang has 24,800 religious venues, including mosques, churches, Buddhist and Taoist temples with 29,300 clerical practitioners. Most of the 10 major ethnic groups are followers of Islam, and there are a total of 24,400 mosques with 28,600 clerical personnel in Xinjiang. While religious believers' normal requirements have been satisfied, local authorities have "strengthened management of religious affairs in accordance with the law, firmly curbing religious extremism." […] Over the past 60 years, state financial grants to Xinjiang have totaled almost 1.7 trillion yuan. Central authorities have also been encouraging businesses to invest in Xinjiang, and helping train and provide talent for the region, according to the white paper. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

No one is above the law: Hong Kong's former top judge Andrew Li hits back at Beijing official (SCMP)
2015-09-25
Former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang has spoken out in defence of judicial independence in Hong Kong and called on Beijing to refrain from overriding judgments of the top court. Li, who presided over the judiciary from 1997 to 2010, also rebutted a suggestion from mainland scholars to remove overseas judges from the city's Court of Final Appeal after 2047, arguing their presence should be "a lasting feature". His remarks, in an article written for today's Post, come two weeks after Beijing's liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming stoked worries within legal and political circles by dismissing the notion of separation of powers for the city and claiming the chief executive transcended all three branches of government, including the judiciary. "Under the rule of law, no one, however high his position, is above the law," Li wrote. "In these uncertain times, it is all the more important that the rule of law with an independent judiciary should remain an unshakeable foundation of our society." The former top judge previously objected to the National People's Congress Standing Committee's interpretation of the Basic Law in 1999 that overrode the top court's judgment on right-of-abode cases. "Although it would be legally valid and binding, such an interpretation would have an adverse effect on judicial independence in Hong Kong," he said. But the central authorities were at odds with Hongkongers on this issue, he noted. "I believe that this view is widely shared in Hong Kong. However, my understanding is that it is not shared by the authorities in Beijing. They consider that an interpretation even after a court judgment … should not adversely affect judicial independence in Hong Kong." Paul Shieh Wing-tai SC, former chairman of the Bar Association, echoed Li's concerns. "If the mainland view is based solely on the fact that it is 'in accordance with the law', then I do not agree," Shieh said. "'In accordance with the law' is necessary but not sufficient." As to what might happen to Hong Kong after 2047, Li expected to see the stage being set in the next 10 to 15 years for extensive discussions. "I believe that it will have to be settled in the early 2030s," he wrote. ^ top ^

British envoy to Hong Kong duped by fictitious Chinese firm in 'cash-for-access' probe (SCMP)
2015-09-24
Caroline Wilson, Britain's top envoy in Hong Kong, was mentioned in an inquiry into an undercover "cash-for-access" probe conducted by media in the country, reports said. Two former British foreign secretaries, Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind, offered to use their influence to help a fictitious Chinese company fronted by undercover journalists, who secretly filmed the encounter and first published the story in February. The recording showed Straw stating his daily rate for "doing a speech or something" as the equivalent of nearly HK$60,000. The video was part of a media probe into concerns cash was being offered in exchange for access to lawmakers. But a parliamentary ethics commission recently cleared them of wrongdoing after an investigation. According to The Daily Telegraph newspaper, which said it had seen a complete copy of evidence released by the commission in which the consul general's name was originally redacted, Wilson was approached by Straw to conduct due diligence on what turned out to be a fake Chinese company. Wilson served as a private secretary to Straw in Britain's Foreign Office earlier in her career, and the two reportedly remain close friends. She offered to host the fictitious firm's managing director in a reception at the British consulate in Hong Kong to help "size him up", the paper said. A Foreign Office spokesman told the Telegraph, which took part in the original undercover probe, that it engaged with a wide range of businesses to further British trade and these efforts included "responding to commercial inquiries", "offering general advice" and attending events. Wilson, who attended a public function yesterday morning, offered "no comment". She began her tenure in 2012. In 2013, her residence in luxury high-rise the Opus was criticised as excessive at a time when Britain was facing budget cuts. Not one to shy away from headlines, Wilson raised eyebrows last week with a cheeky Twitter picture taken from a skyscraper overlooking Government House, where the city's chief executive resides, noting the view was “transcending” it. Days earlier, Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government's liaison office here, said Leung Chun-ying enjoyed a “transcendent” position over the legislature and judiciary. ^ top ^

Hong Kong must 'not make trouble' to preserve freedom when 'one country, two systems' expire, warns former financial chief (SCMP)
2015-09-21
Hongkongers must demonstrate that they can contribute to the nation's development or face the loss of core values such as rule of law when Beijing's pledges under the "one country, two systems" principle expire in 2047, a former financial chief warned yesterday. Antony Leung Kam-chung also indicated he saw no threat to press freedom in the city, as newspapers were "criticising" the government every day. His comments, at a high-profile forum yesterday on the city's role in national development, are the latest in a series of interventions by the former official which have stoked speculation he will return to public life as a candidate for chief executive in 2017 Speaking of Beijing's pledge that the city's capitalist system and way of life would remain unchanged for 50 years after the 1997 handover, he said: "If we hope that after 25 or 32 years, in 2047, Hong Kong will remain prosperous and stable, and people can continue to enjoy our core values such as freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law, we must prove that Hong Kong, under the 'one country, two systems' principle, is here to contribute to the country, and not to make trouble." But Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan disagreed, arguing after the forum that the "prosperity and stability of a place hinges on whether there are fair systems in place" rather than on its economic contribution. In a question-and-answer session during the forum, Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing asked whether Leung knew some journalists felt press freedom and free speech were "under threat from Beijing". Lau was booed by fellow attendees at the forum, organised by the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies. One man stood and shouted: "Hong Kong is the freest and the most democratic!" Responding to Lau, Leung said: "Hong Kong still has freedom of press, otherwise the newspapers wouldn't be so fiercely critical of the government every day." After applause, Leung said he hoped the government, politicians and the public could refrain from "looking at problems from an attitude of confrontation and struggle". He added: "Politicians must know … the key to political victory lies with the people's heart. This cannot be achieved by confrontation alone." Leung spoke a week after Beijing's liaison office chief, Zhang Xiaoming, sparked debate by saying the position of chief executive "transcends" the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Zhang faced claims he was redefining key concepts of "one country, two systems". The Law Society said it would "reiterate two fundamental principles deserving the strongest support from the community: the importance of an independent judiciary to the rule of law; and the professionalism and integrity of the judiciary". ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Beijing's switch to smart-card entry for Taiwanese seen by Taipei as downgrading island's status (SCMP)
2015-09-22
The Taiwanese government expressed displeasure yesterday over Beijing's unilateral implementation of a new policy requiring mainland-bound Taiwanese travellers to change their paper travel documents. The island's premier, Mao Chi-kuo, said on the legislative floor that he learned of the implementation date of the new measure in a newspaper rather than through bilateral communication channels. "They owe us an explanation," Mao said. "We hope they will address our concerns and stop hurting the feelings of the Taiwanese people." Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the mainland's National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, revealed in early June that Taiwanese visiting the mainland would no longer need to apply for entry permits for each trip they took there. Instead, they would only need to bring their travel permit, which would then be changed to a smart card that allowed the visitors automatic entry. While Yu did not say when the two new measures would be implemented, the mainland's State Council announced several days later that the visa-free programme would come into force on July 1. It announced last week on its website that the card programme would go into effect yesterday. While Beijing claimed that the two measures were meant to make travel more convenient for mainland-bound Taiwanese travellers, many have doubts about the move as it concerns national security and sovereignty. Critics said the privileged treatment aimed to downgrade Taiwan's status to that of a special administrative region like Hong Kong and Macau, whose residents not need visas to visit the mainland but originally needed travel documents. The travel documents were changed to smart cards in 1999. The design of the card was later adopted for the resident ID cards the mainland government introduced in 2004. ^ top ^

Top political advisor elected head of Chinese council for reunification (Xinhua)
2015-09-21
Yu Zhengsheng, China's top political advisor, was elected chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification (CCPPNR) on Monday. Peace and the one-China principle are the roads to realizing the reunification of China, said Yu, at the ninth conference of the board of directors of the CCPPNR. The mainland will actively promote the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and firmly fight "Taiwan independence", said Yu, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau, and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). He called for compatriots from both sides of the Taiwan Strait and overseas Chinese to work together for reunification. "At this critical stage for cross-Strait relations now, we should have a clear understanding of the whole situation and be confident of the future," he said. More efforts should be made to expand exchanges and create a favorable international environment for the cause, he said. ^ top ^

 

Economy
China inks deals worth $38 billion to buy 300 Boeing jets (SCMP)
2015-09-24
Boeing said Wednesday that Chinese companies have agreed to buy 300 jets and build an aircraft assembly plant in China. The deals, worth about $38 billion, were signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States. China Aviation Supplies Holding Company, ICBC Financial Leasing and China Development Bank Leasing inked the jet purchase agreement after Xi's arrival in Seattle. Boeing said the orders were mostly for its 737 models. The state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China on Tuesday also inked a deal with Boeing to set up a "completion centre" for its 737 airliners. Xi visited Boeing's Paine Field assembly plant during the Seattle leg of his trip before moving on to Washington, D.C., to meet President Barack Obama. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said he saw scope for more 737 work going to China as the company raised production rates of the single-aisle jetliner, but stressed any changes would not come at the expense of jobs in the United States. "As we ramp up capabilities in China, including additional 737-related work, the actions that we'll take are actions that will also allow us to grow jobs here in the US," Muilenburg said at an aerospace conference in Seattle. In a memo to employees on Tuesday, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner said: "I hope [the company's partnership and sales with China] will be a win for Boeing, a win for the Puget Sound, and a win for our stakeholders … [It] will not result in lay-offs or reduce employment for the 737 programme in Washington state." Boeing's finishing facility in China will paint, finish and deliver 737 jetliners. The company's biggest union, the International Association of Machinists, which represents about 35,000 Boeing employees said: "Any shift of aerospace jobs from our bargaining unit or Washington State causes grave concern." The country is expected to add 6,330 new aircraft worth US$950 billion to its commercial fleet by 2034, Boeing said last month in its annual China Current Market Outlook report. The assembly plant would be Boeing's first in China and signals its attempt to match its European rival Airbus's Chinese presence as the two rivals step up their efforts to win more business in the country's lucrative aircraft market. Boeing said the Chinese facility won't reduce employment levels at its plants in Washington state. Muilenburg said Boeing had had operations in China for 42 years and was continuing to invest to expand its capabilities there. "I think it's really important that the collaboration is seen as one that is beneficial to both countries," he said. Muilenburg called Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google "non-traditional" aerospace and defence competitors for their efforts in space, satellites and drones. Boeing, he said, "cannot compete unless we have a global-scale, global diversification strategy - a strategy that accounts for collaboration in all parts of the world," he said. ^ top ^

Chinese factory gauge drops to lowest level since March, 2009 (SCMP)
2015-09-23
A private Chinese manufacturing gauge has fallen to the lowest in 61/2 years, underscoring challenges facing the economy as its old growth engines splutter. A global sell off in riskier assets gained pace after the preliminary Purchasing Managers' Index from Caixin Media and Markit Economics dropped to 47.0 in September. That missed the median estimate of 47.5 in a Bloomberg survey and fell from the final reading of 47.3 in the previous month. Readings remained below 50 since March, indicating contraction. Premier Li Keqiang's expansion target of about 7 per cent for this year is being challenged by a slowdown in manufacturing and exports even as services and consumption show resilience. President Xi Jinping downplayed concern about weakening growth in a speech in Seattle to mark the start of his US trip. The soft PMI “mainly reflected weak external demand,” said Julia Wang, a Hong Kong-based economist with HSBC Holdings. “As China has rolled out a slew of pro-growth measures in the past months, China's domestic demand may have stabilised.” The Shanghai Composite Index was 2.2 per cent lower at 12:56pm local time and the Hang Seng index dropped 4.3 per cent in Hong Kong. The offshore yuan and the Australian dollar both weakened. Futures on shares in the US and Japan, where markets were closed on Wednesday, also tumbled. Wang said she expected more policy support and forecasts another 150 basis points cut in banks' required reserve ratio. She said the Caixin PMI covered firms with more exposure to exports, and indicators in coming months may show that the economy is not as bad as the flash PMI indicates. Readings of output, new orders and employment all declined at a faster rate, according to the survey. “The new leg down in the manufacturing PMI redoubles pressure on the government to allow market forces to guide the yuan weaker against the dollar before year-end,” William Adams, senior international economist at PNC Financial Services Group, wrote in an e-mail. Reflecting the slowdown in China's old-growth drivers, fixed-asset investment rose at the slowest pace in 15 years in the first eight months of 2015 and industrial production trailed analyst estimates last month. Factory shutdowns in Beijing and surrounding provinces ahead of the September 3 military parade in Beijing may also have weighed on the manufacturing sector. For Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who cited concern over China's outlook when explaining her decision not to raise interest rates at this month's policy meeting, more weak numbers could strengthen the case for prudence, Bloomberg economist Tom Orlik wrote in a note. “The Caixin data doesn't fundamentally change the narrative, but more weak numbers between now and the Fed's next meeting at the end of October would obviously add to the case for caution,” Orlik wrote. China's official factory gauge fell to the lowest reading in three years in August. A measure of services fared better, as the economy's new growth drivers help cushion the growth outlook. Alternative indicators, such as data culled from China's most-used search engine, biggest online outlet and main bank-card network, signal a stabilisation in the nation's economy. Still, Nomura Holdings economists say there's downside risk to their gross domestic product growth estimate of 6.9 per cent in the third quarter. “We continue to expect accommodative monetary policy,” with one more 50 basis point cut of banks' reserve requirement ratio in the fourth quarter, economists led by Hong Kong-based Yang Zhao wrote. “We maintain our call for fiscal policy to play a larger role in bolstering growth.” ^ top ^

China top economic planner refutes doubts on growth data authenticity (Xinhua)
2015-09-23
China's top economic planner defended the country's data authenticity on Wednesday in response to assumptions that the government may have distorted growth data to make them look good, saying the claims were either "logically wrong" or "unreliable". Official data showed China's economy expanded 7 percent in the first half of the year, in line with the annual target, but some China pessimists have claimed that real growth was much lower during the period. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in an online statement that doubts about China's data accuracy have been non-stop since the country's reform and opening-up, but those voices have mostly proved ill-founded. The 7-percent rate in the first half of the year was largely in line with forecasts from major domestic and international research centers such as the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and World bank, the statement noted. In a refutation to claims that the GDP rate have been over-stated by one to two percentage points, the NDRC said slumping import prices have only limited impact on China's GDP calculation and the country now relies on the service industry for growth that consumes less global commodities. As for those that drew their lower forecasts from the weak indicators such as power use and rail freights, the NDRC said China's economic structure has undergone significant changes, making such indicators less reflective of economic activities such as the rising service industry, which consumes less energy and requires fewer goods. The service industry contributed to 49.5 percent of GDP growth in the first half of the year, up 6.6 percentage points from the ratio in 2007, the economic planner noted. China's 7-percent expansion was solidly underpinned by stable economic fundamentals such as rising consumption, recovering investments and exports, as well as a steady job market, the NDRC concluded. The latest statement came after another NDRC release on Tuesday that said the Chinese government has plenty of policy room and options to achieve its annual growth target of around 7 percent. With a cooling property market and falling external demand amid tepid global recovery, China's economy has hit a soft patch. In addition, fresh pressure from capital market volatility this summer, currency devaluation in emerging markets and slumping global commodity prices are further muddying growth prospects. In a written interview with Wall Street Journal, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China's economy is still operating within the proper range and will step efforts to shift growth model. "China has the capacity and is in the position to maintain a medium-high growth in the years to come," he said. ^ top ^

Premier urges progress in SOE reforms (Xinhua)
2015-09-20
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has urged state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to press ahead with reforms to unlock vitality. The SOEs are an important foundation for national development but are in urgent need of reforms as languid mechanism and poor management have resulted in declining profits, Premier Li said Friday while presiding over a meeting on SOE reforms. China has about 150,000 SOEs, which hold more than 100 trillion yuan (15.7 trillion U.S dollars) in assets and employ over 30 million people. They posted a 2.3 percent decline in profits in the Jan.-July period. Last Sunday, China issued a guideline to deepen SOE reforms. With the aim of making SOEs more creative and internationally competitive, it pledged measures to modernize SOEs, enhance management of state assets, promote mixed ownership and prevent the erosion of state assets. The premier urged the SOEs to come up with their own supporting policies to ensure the reform ambitions laid out in the guideline will be met. The SOEs must improve their management through market-oriented reforms, such as mixed-ownership reforms and a modern corporate system, Li said. These state firms should improve their competitiveness, press ahead with merge and revamping, and waste no time to deal with "zombie" enterprises that are a burden to the economy, Li said. Li added that innovation and entrepreneurship should play a role in the SOE reforms. "Innovation and entrepreneurship are not only the way for small and medium-enterprises to prosper, they are also crucial for big enterprises, especially the SOEs." The SOEs must proactively take part in international cooperation and competition, the premier said, noting that China's Belt and Road Initiative and other endeavors aimed at international production capacity cooperation present many opportunities. Li also emphasized efforts to "correctly handle" the relationship between the government and the market so that streamlined government administration as well as good services and supervision can nurture a better business climate. ^ top ^

 

DPRK
China urges North Korea not to take provocative action (SCMP)
2015-09-20
China yesterday implicitly urged North Korea to refrain from taking any new action that would heighten regional tensions, on the 10th anniversary of a key agreement reached in multilateral talks in which Pyongyang promised to give up its nuclear ambitions. Foreign Minister Wang Yi's warning at an academic seminar in Beijing comes amid hints by North Korea at its readiness to fire a long-range rocket next month, seen by other countries as a pretext for testing ballistic missile technology banned under UN resolutions. "All parties of the six-party talks are members of the United Nations. We all have a shared responsibility to uphold peace and security on the Korean peninsula and implement UN Security Council resolutions," Wang said. "We must not take any new action that could lead to tensions," Wang said, without directly naming any country. The event was organised by a Chinese government-backed institute to mark the anniversary of the deal struck between the countries in the six-party talks - China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States - on September 19, 2005. In the joint statement issued by the six countries, North Korea committed to "abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes" in exchange for economic assistance and security assurances. The US pledged it had "no intention to attack or invade" North Korea. The document was seen as the first breakthrough in the six-party talks launched in 2003. However, the six-party talks have not been held since December 2008 as a result of disagreements over how to verify North Korea's nuclear activities. Describing the 2005 agreement as "not outdated", Wang said it was time for the six countries to create conditions for an early resumption of the talks. Wang said the joint statement was the best way for resolving issues on the Korean Peninsula. "We call on all parties to take the 10th anniversary of the statement as an opportunity to make a political decision to renew their respective responsibilities and commitments," he told about 100 attendees at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. China remains North Korea's most important ally, but its influence on Pyongyang is waning. Beijing's relations with Pyongyang have been less close since Kim Jong-un took power, especially after the North's third nuclear test in February 2013. China's fresh resolve to denuclearise the peninsula came a week before President Xi Jinping's meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington, where North Korea will be a major topic. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Speaker Z.Enkhbold visiting Russia's Sverdlovsk Oblast (Montsame)
2015-09-24
Chairman of the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia Z.Enkhbold arrived at Sverdlovsk Oblast on September 23. He is on an official visit to the Russian Federation at the invitation of the Chairman of the RF Federal Council V.I.Matvienko. At Sverdlovsk, he was welcomed by the chair of the oblast's legislative assembly L.V.Babushkina, oblast's Minister for Economy and Foreign Affairs A.O.Sobolev, representative of the Russia's foreign ministry to Sverdlovsk A.V.Kharlov and the director of the Ural Federal University named after B.N.Yeltsin, V.A.Koshkarov. In frames of the visit to the region, Speaker Z.Enkhbold will hold meetings with Ms Babushkina, Governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast E.V.Kuivashev, and the chairman of Sverdlovsk government D.V.Pasler. He also intends to leg Ural's Turbine Plant and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Yekaterinburg city. Mr Enkhbold will also revisit the Ural Polytechnic Institute of B.N.Yeltsin's Ural Federal University, where he had studied. ^ top ^

Mongolian People's Party demands the Government to give details on meat export plan (Infomongolia)
2015-09-24
MP S.Byambatsogt, MP J.Batsuuri and MP B.Bat-Erdene of Mongolian People's Party (MPP) has sent an official request letter with five items to Minister for Food and Agriculture on September 23, 2015. They demand Minister of Food and Agriculture R.Burmaa to give full explanation on wide range of questions regarding the meat export at the plenary session of the State Great Khural (Parliament of Mongolia). Mongolian meat export has been declining in past few years. In 2014, meat export was dropped by 1.8 thousand tons; it is 13.2 times lower than 2010. In addition, they want the Government to inform what measures are taken to improve the living conditions of herdsmen who are the main meat producers in Mongolia. Minister R.Burmaa must give full financial details on the meat export plan and the reason why the Government has decided to established state-owned meat factory “Mongol Makh” Cooperation. This year Mongolia has managed to sign deals on meat export with the Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China and the United Arab Emirates after series of talks. ^ top ^

National team to prepare for Mongolia's membership to APEC (Montsame)
2015-09-23
In a scope of the preparation of our country's membership to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a discussion was organized September 23 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, themed “building national capacity to become a member economy of APEC”. Over 30 delegates attended today's discussion from ministries, affiliated agencies and research institutes. Presentations were given for discussion under topics of Mongolia's involvement in economic integration, process of becoming an APEC economy, and opportunities to enhance trade and investment cooperation with Asia-Pacific countries. It was resolved to form a national team to be in charge of the official preparation for Mongolia's membership to APEC. ^ top ^

Mongolian President to attend 70th UNGA (Montsame)
2015-09-23
President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj left for New York on Wednesday to take part on September 25-27 in the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 and the general debate of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly. The President is to give a speech to the Sustainable Development Summit, where Sustainable Development Goals 2030 will be adopted, on September 25. He will also address the discussion under topic “Building efficient and accountable system for ensuring sustainable development” on Day 1. The head of state will address the general debate of the 70th session of the UNGA, express Mongolia's position on the pressing issues on the international arena, foreign policy objectives, priorities, social and economic policies and actions of the Government. Furthermore, President Ts.Elbegdorj intends to participate in special events, including the Forum of Landlocked Developing Countries and events for peacekeeping operations and for women's rights. ^ top ^

EBRD board directors to visit Mongolia (Montsame)
2015-09-21
A delegation of EBRD Board Directors, which comprises representatives of the Bank's shareholders, will visit Mongolia this September 21-25. They will meet key decision-makers, top government and city officials, representatives of the diplomatic and business communities and civil society. They will also visit EBRD clients, including the recently commissioned Senj Sant cement plant; IMC hospital; the Gobi cashmere factory; ice cream maker TESO; Gazar Shim, a canned vegetables producer; and clients in the financial sector, namely Khan Bank, Xac Bank and the microfinance institution, Transcapital. The Directors will also visit the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in the Gobi desert, the second stage of which may be financed by a banking syndicate led by the EBRD and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The delegation will include the host country representative Paul Vlaanderen (Director for the Netherlands, Mongolia, FYR Macedonia, Armenia); Anthony Bartzokas (Director for Greece and Portugal); Heinz Kaufmann (Director for Switzerland, Ukraine, Liechtenstein, Turkmenistan, Serbia, Montenegro, Moldova); Johannes Koskinen (Director for Finland, Norway and Latvia); Enrique Bal (Alternate Director for Spain and Mexico); Gustave Gauquelin (Alternate Director for France); Michel Grilli (Alternate Director for the European Investment Bank, EIB); Makoto Honda (Alternate Director for Japan); Abel Mateus (Alternate Director for Greece and Portugal) and Luyen Tran (Alternate Director for the USA). A senior EBRD staff delegation, led by the Managing Director for Turkey and Central Asia, Natalia Khanjenkova, will also participate in the mission. The EBRD is owned by 64 governments and two intergovernmental institutions: the European Union and the EIB. Shareholders are represented at the EBRD's Board of Directors which oversees the Bank's activities and strategies. Board representatives regularly visit countries of operations to discuss the implementation of EBRD country strategies and investments. The EBRD's latest strategy on Mongolia was approved in June 2013. Its main priorities are diversification, sustainable growth, responsible mining and institutions, and infrastructure and private sector development. The EBRD is currently the largest financial investor in Mongolia with over €1.1 billion invested to date. Nearly all EBRD-financed projects support private sector companies and banks, reports the EBRD. ^ top ^

Agenda for parliamentary autumn session approved (Montsame)
2015-09-21
The Speaker Z.Enkhbold issued Friday a resolution on agenda that will be discussed by the parliamentary autumn session of 2015, and its order. The autumn session will discuss a draft amendment to the law on amnesty on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the first democratic elections and permanent parliament of Mongolia; bills on the 2016 budget, on the 2016 budgets of the Human Development Fund (HDF) and the Social Insurance Fund (SIF); and a draft resolution of parliament on the 2016 basic guidelines on fiscal policy. Other are draft amendments to the laws on the State Great Khural (parliament), on parliamentary session regime; draft laws on development policy, on planning and others; draft new wordings of the laws on performing court decisions, on prosecutorial body, on police service, on crime, on conflicts and on consideration of disputes at the Constitutional Court; and a draft amendment to the law on state service. Bills on joint pension, on trade and related issues, on capital tax and relevant laws, and on the legal status of budget services will be considered as well. In addition, the session will discuss draft new versions of the laws on labor, on family, on combating violence in families; bills on children's protection; a draft new wording of the law on children's rights, relevant to them bills; draft laws on organic foods, on garbage, on monitoring, relevant to them bills; and a draft resolution of parliament on state policy on food and agriculture. Bills, draft resolutions and decisions, submitted by the government and MPs but not included in this list, could be considered by councils. An obligation has been given to B.Boldbaatar, the secretary-general of the Parliamentary Office, and to heads of the Standing committees to ensure a preparation for the discussions. ^ top ^

Refugee crisis in focus at OSCE PA Autumn Session (Montsame)
2015-09-18
The deepening refugee crisis in Europe and the potential of the OSCE and its parliamentarians to help mitigate the situation was the focus of debate on Thursday at the conclusion of the OSCE PA Autumn Session. Dozens of parliamentarians, including from countries of arrival, transit and destination for refugees, addressed the scope and nature of the crisis; exchanged ideas on short- and long-term responses; and underscored the role of parliamentarians in generating the needed political will. “We are now witnessing things that we never thought we would witness,” said Italian parliamentarian Marietta Tidei, the Rapporteur of the OSCE PA's Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment. “People who are fleeing war are being fired on with tear gas… But it is not enough to express anger. We need a common political vision,” she said. Tidei was among multiple parliamentarians who argued that the OSCE and its parliamentary branch, in bringing together representatives of 57 countries, are ideally placed to facilitate the sharing of best practices, to chart commonly agreed policies and to inspire action. Head of Mongolia's Delegation to the OSCE PA Ms Batchimeg Migeddorj said: “Although we are geographically far away, it is painful for us to see this human suffering every day. We understand that this is a complex issue, but the OSCE should send a clear message to the world on how we should deal with this crisis,” Several parliamentarians noted that their connection with constituents would be crucial in generating public support for burden-sharing policies, guarding against xenophobia and educating people on the driving factors behind the refugee crisis. Acting […] In his intervention, OSCE PA Vice-President Peter Bowness (MP, United Kingdom) said, "It is too easy to condemn countries for not responding as we might like them to in an ideal world,” Countries dealing with an influx of refugees require increased administrative support, Bowness said, while emphasizing that “the long-term element is promoting secure and peaceful environments in home countries so that people do not become refugees,” Spanish parliamentarian Ignacio Sanchez Amor, the OSCE PA's Special Representative on OSCE Border Issues, stressed that one immediate way for the OSCE to assist countries in dealing with the crisis is to make its Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe more available to all participating States. The final session of the 2015 Autumn Meeting also featured a presentation by Bold Luvsanvandan, a Member of the Mongolian Delegation to the OSCE PA, on his country's human rights record. United Nations Development Programme Representative Beate Trankmann also addressed the Assembly, focusing on the role of parliaments in promoting the UN's new Sustainable Development Goals. ^ 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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