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
  5-10.10.15, No. 591  
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DPRK

Mongolia

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Switzerland

Taken for a ride: Swiss tourist charged HK$8,000 for taxi journey from Hong Kong airport to hotel in Kowloon (SCMP)
2015-10-06
A Swiss tourist was illegally charged HK$8,000 for a taxi ride from Hong Kong International Airport to a hotel in Hung Hom yesterday, according to police. The taxi fare might set an overcharging record in the city and was about 30 times the usual amount for the journey, a police source said. A typical fare for the 30km trip, which takes less than half an hour, is about HK$250 to HK$300. Previously, unscrupulous taxi drivers illegally charged between HK$1,000 and HK$2,000 for similar journeys, the source said. "It is the first time I have come across a trip from the airport to Kowloon getting charged HK$8,000. It could be a record," said the source, who has more than 20 years' experience in the force. Although the 22-year-old tourist identified only as "Adrian" did not pursue the case, police said the force's traffic unit would follow it up. The man arrived in the city and jumped into a taxi at the airport early yesterday. The case came to light at about 2am after the cab stopped outside the Harbour Plaza Metropolis hotel in Hung Hom, and the passenger paid the fare and left the vehicle. The taxi then drove off. "After he entered the hotel, he became suspicious and alerted hotel staff who helped him call police," a police spokesman said. The tourist reportedly told officers that he had forgotten the taxi's registration number and would soon be leaving Hong Kong so he did not pursue the case, according to police. Another police source said: "This type of misconduct could affect Hong Kong's reputation as a tourist destination. The traffic unit will follow up the case." Figures from the Transport Complaints Unit show there were 351 complaints against taxi drivers about overcharging in the first quarter of this year, down from 396 in the previous quarter. The Transport Department said police, particularly in districts frequented by tourists, implemented pinpointing measures against taxi malpractice on a regular basis. "In encountering any taxi malpractice, such as overcharging, members of the public are strongly encouraged to lodge complaints to the police with details of the incidents, such as date, time, location and taxi registration numbers for investigation," its spokeswoman said. "Police will take prosecution action if there is sufficient evidence." Under the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) regulations, overcharging carries a maximum penalty of a HK$10,000 fine and six months imprisonment. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Leading aircraft manufacturer poised to export new fighter jet (China Daily)
2015-10-09
China's leading aircraft manufacturer is on the verge of exporting its fifth-generation fighter jet, according to industry sources. Aviation Industry Corp of China disclosed the technical specifications of the J-31 Gyrfalcon at an aviation expo even though the plane was still being tested, the sources said. During the four-day Aviation Expo China 2015, a biennial event held in Beijing in mid-September, AVIC also displayed a large-scale model of the J-31. Expo visitors were surprised that the State-owned defense contractor was willing to declassify the J-31's specifications, as it had never previously released such information on military air-craft until they entered mass-production and were ready for export. Analysts said the decision indicates that the corporation wants potential foreign buyers to learn about the plane's capabilities as soon as possible so that it can secure contracts when the jet becomes operational. A source close to AVIC who declined to be named said publication of the aircraft's specifications was aimed at impressing potential buyers. "The earlier the buyers know about the J-31's capabilities, the higher chance AVIC has of taking up a good share of the fifth-generation aircraft market," he told China Daily. "Once the company receives buyers' payments, it can use these to sustain the production line and continue to upgrade the aircraft to win more customers." AVIC executives have never concealed their intentions for the J-31 project. Li Yuhai, deputy general manager of AVIC, told reporters in November, "Since the start of the J-31's development, we have planned to use the plane to end some foreign nations' dominance of the fifth-generation fighter jet. One of its variants will be specifically designed for export." Li was speaking on the sidelines of the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition held in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. Chen Hu, a military expert with the People's Liberation Army, said exporting the J-31 would be a milestone for China's aviation industry because the plane would give AVIC a significant boost in competition with Western defense giants. Xu Bangnian, a professor at the PLA Air Force Command Institute, said he expected international demand for the plane as it appeared to be the only choice for developing countries wanting an affordable fifth-generation stealth aircraft. The only fifth-generation fighter jet available on the market is the United States' Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, but the US will only sell it to its allies. The J-31's maiden flight in October 2012 caused a surprise globally, as few people expected China to develop another fifth-generation fighter jet following the J-20 stealth aircraft, which made its first flight in January 2011. During the past three years, the J-31 has undergone several test flights and some changes have been made to its design. The AVIC specifications show that it has a maximum takeoff weight of 25 metric tons and is designed to be in service for up to 30 years. ^ top ^

China, US set ties 'in right direction' (China Daily)
2015-10-09
China and the United States should push forward the healthy and stable development of bilateral ties by implementing the consensus reached during President Xi Jinping's state visit to the US, State Councilor Yang Jiechi said on Thursday. The two countries' leaders set the China-US relationship heading in the right direction and greatly boosted cooperation on bilateral, regional and global issues during Xi's visit, Yang told visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Beijing. Xi made a state visit to the US at the invitation of US President Barack Obama late last month. The two sides reached important agreements in fields including economics, trade, energy, science and technology, agriculture, law enforcement, cybersecurity and infrastructure. Xi's successful visit to the US has shown to the world that the US and China can enhance meaningful cooperation on a series of important issues, Blinken said. The US would like to work with China to implement the consensus and agreements made during Xi's visit, as well as push forward the development of bilateral ties, he added. Before his trip to China, Blinken visited Japan on Monday and the Republic of Korea from Tuesday to Wednesday. His final stop will be in Shanghai on Friday to meet with government officials, financial experts, entrepreneurs and US government exchange program alumni to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues. According to a news release from the US State Department, Blinken "will discuss the next steps in the US-China engagement and areas for cooperation on global challenges, as well as exchange views on bilateral and regional issues". In a speech on Wednesday, Blinken said in Seoul that the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership does not aim to isolate China, and that Washington welcomes Beijing's participation under the right conditions. "It is not designed to encircle China," Blinken was quoted as saying by the Yonhap News Agency. "If China is interested in pursuing membership and if it is able to meet the standards, we would welcome that." ^ top ^

Beijing on alert for U.S. Navy 'incursion' near artificial islands in South China Sea (SCMP)
2015-10-08
Beijing yesterday expressed concerns that the US Navy was reportedly preparing to send ships "within days" inside the 12 nautical-mile territorial zones China has claimed around its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had long made clear its position on the South China Sea. "We hope the United States can look upon the current situation of the South China Sea from an objective and fair perspective and play a constructive role together with China in keeping the peace and stability in the South China Sea," Hua said. US-based military newspaper Navy Times reported that Washington was leaning towards sending warships to the waters. It said China's reclamation projects had become a growing source of tension and posed serious threats to freedom of navigation. Citing Pentagon officials, the report said the ships would set off "within days" of the mission getting the final approval from the Obama administration. Navy officials said they believed the approval was imminent. The report came as Indonesian newspaper Kompas published an opinion piece by Indonesian security chief Luhut Panjaitan in which he said the country was considering using drones and submarines to strengthen its grip over the Natuna Islands in response to China's growing military presence in the waters, Bloomberg reported. In remarks seen as underscoring the US presence in the sea, a Washington official said yesterday that the US was helping Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries improve law enforcement in the waters "Our cooperation will … ensure the Vietnamese coastguard, like all of the others, has the right equipment to perform its maritime missions," US State Department assistant secretary William Brownfield said. "You need the ability to get out there where the laws are being violated, by illegal fishing, by traffickers, by smugglers, or by those who are stealing national resources." Mainland military experts said the People's Liberation Army Navy would issue warnings and there would not be collisions if foreign military vessels went within the limits. But the PLA was capable of expelling any intruders, they said. "The navy would issue verbal warnings, demanding the US vessels leave," Shanghai-based naval expert Ni Lexiong said. Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, said the navy would send warships to intercept the US vessels if they ignored the warnings. Another source close to the PLA said Beijing had several more "cost-effective" solutions to such a confrontation. "We could scramble drones to expel the vessels, or simply order the Second Artillery Corps to fire from distance," he said. ^ top ^

Fugitive Chinese official Yang Xiuzhu still waiting on US ruling over political asylum bid (SCMP)
2015-10-08
A court in the United States has yet to decide whether or not to grant political asylum to one of China's wanted fugitives, who is being held on immigration charges, an overseas Chinese newspaper reports. Yang Xiuzhu, 69, a former senior official who is wanted by China's anti-graft watchdog on suspicion of corruption, wanted to stop the US repatriating her because she feared she would not get a fair trial back in China, her lawyer said. She appeared in a closed hearing at an immigration court in New York on Monday, the US-based World Journal reported. The hearing was adjourned until November 19. Yang's lawyer, Vlad Kuzmin, told reporters that her younger brother, Yang Shoudi, and her cousin had both been nervous while testifying in court and hesitant about answering questions, and blamed this on pressure they had faced from the Chinese government. Kuzmin said many witnesses had refused to appear in court because they feared their testimonies could affect their relatives living on the mainland. Yang tops the list of 100 wanted fugitives released by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection as a part of the country's sweeping anti-corruption campaign. Although her portrait appears at the top of a list of Chinese economic fugitives released by Chinese law enforcement, it is unclear if this means she is the most-wanted suspect. Yang, a senior official who oversaw construction projects in the booming eastern province of Zhejiang, went into hiding on the mainland after she was sought by anti-corruption investigators before ending up in the US. In May, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement accused Yang of “violating the terms of the visa waiver programme” and had asked the court to deport her. However, Yang has since applied for political asylum and protection under the UN Convention Against Torture, to prevent her being sent back to China, where her lawyer said they feared she would not receive a fair trial. “Her concern is whether her trial in China will be fair considering all the news reports that have been published by the state media", Kuzmin said in reports after her first court appearance in June. “Most of it has been negative. She has already been convicted in the eyes of the media of corruption.” People applying for political asylum must show they have experienced persecution or have a well-founded fear of future persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a certain group. “America is a democratic country, I believe there will be a fair decision,” Kuzmin was quoted as saying by World Journal after Monday's hearing. Yang is also subject to Interpol's red notices, which appeal for the location and arrest of each wanted person and ask member states to extradite them. She has been held in a correctional facility in New Jersey for more than a year and was not granted bail based on fears that she would flee the country. She escaped to the US in 2003 after she was accused of accepting 253 million yuan in bribes. One of her brothers, Yang Jinjun, fled to the US in 2001, was also on China's list of wanted fugitives. He was suspected of bribery and corruption and repatriated by the US in September. ^ top ^

US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal 'not intended to exclude China', says Beijing (SCMP)
2015-10-08
China said on Thursday it did not feel targeted by a US-backed regional trade accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but would evaluate the likely impact comprehensively. China is not among the 12 Pacific Rim countries who have agreed Monday's trade pact, the most ambitious in a generation. The deal faces scepticism from US lawmakers, who can vote it down. The accord includes Australia and Japan among economies worth a combined US$28 trillion. While acknowledging such a pact would inevitably divert some trade and investment away from China, Beijing would assess comprehensively its potential once the official agreements were reached, Gao Hucheng, China's trade minister, said in a interview with state media posted on the ministry's website www.mofcom.gov.cn late on Thursday. “The United States and the TPP members have repeatedly said that TPP does not target China, and it's not intended to deter or exclude China,” Gao was quoted as saying. The global trade pattern would eventually depend on the shifting structures of global industries and the competitive edge of each nation's products, the minister said. Gao said China would push forward regional trade blocks such as RCEP, or Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. RCEP, which comprises the 10-nation ASEAN club plus six others – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand – is a Beijing-backed trade framework that has gained prominence as an alternative to US plans. If approved, the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact would cut trade barriers and set common standards from Vietnam to Canada. It would also furnish a legacy-shaping victory for US President Barack Obama and a political win for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has touted TPP as a way to boost growth in an economy checked by a shrinking population. The agreement has also been pitched as a way to counter China's rising economic and political clout in the region. ^ top ^

Innovation to dominate Merkel's next China visit: German Ambassador (Xinhua)
2015-10-08
German Ambassador to China Michael Clauss said in a recent interview with Xinhua that innovation will be the main topic of discussion for an expected visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to China later this year. "China has the 'Made in China 2025' strategy and Germany has the 'German Industry 4.0' project," said Clauss. "The two countries could cooperate in this field and help raise China's industrial manufacturing to a new level." This year is the Year of China-Germany Innovation Cooperation. "Industry 4.0" is part of Germany's industrial strategy to integrate information technology and conventional manufacturing. "Made in China 2025" is a ten-year national plan to upgrade China from a manufacturing giant into a world manufacturing power. Clauss said huge potential for cooperation remains for Chinese and German businesses as more of them seek international partnerships. "Both foreign companies operating in China and Chinese enterprises could improve productivity through cooperation and competition," he said, adding that he hopes the Chinese government will send more signals on welcoming foreign businesses and opening the Chinese market. Claus said he is not pessimistic about China's current economic slowdown or the recent stock market turmoil. "I believe China's current economic transformation is a difficult process," he said. "But I don't think the Chinese economy will make a 'hard landing.'" ^ top ^

China, U.S. to expand military ties (Xinhua)
2015-10-08
Fang Fenghui, chief of General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Thursday in Beijing, pledging to jointly advance the new type of military relationship between the two countries. Fang said Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama made clear the right direction of the development of bilateral ties in their meeting in late September. Fang said the two sides need to make joint efforts to implement well the consensus reached by the two leaders on the new model of major-country relations, which is based on mutual respect and win-win cooperation, and further advance the new type of military relationship between China and the U.S. In a bid to lay a solid foundation for healthy Sino-U.S. military relations, Fang called for the two countries to seek common ground while effectively managing differences, read each other's strategic intentions correctly and deepen cooperation. Blinken said, in recent years, the United States and China have strengthened mutual trust and the U.S. is ready to work with China to advance collaboration and exchanges on areas including anti-piracy and peace-keeping. ^ top ^

Diaoyu Islands bring China-Japan talks to a stall in discussion to prevent unwanted conflict in East China Sea (SCMP)
2015-10-08
Negotiations on a maritime and air crisis-management mechanism to prevent unwanted conflict in the East China Sea have ground to a halt after China and Japan refused to budge on their disagreement over the sovereignty of a disputed island chain. Given the impasse over whether the communication mechanism should apply to the territorial waters surrounding - and airspace above - the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan, analysts said the thaw in bilateral ties since a landmark summit last year may be losing momentum. President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last November at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing. Photo: Kyodo The governments had hoped to launch the mechanism in the summer after talks resumed following a rare meeting between President Xi Jinping and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe last November. But on Sunday, Chinese negotiators rejected Japan's proposal that the mechanism should not apply to territorial waters and airspace, halting the process again. Analysts said the sticking point was that Tokyo suggested the communication mechanism - involving hotlines and regular consultation between the two militaries and coastguards - should not apply to territorial waters and airspace, thereby excluding the area within 12 nautical miles of the Diaoyu Islands. Beijing insisted otherwise. […] Japan has administrative control over the islands and insists they are an indisputable part of its sovereignty. But China has challenged the status quo by sending ships to areas near the islands that Japan deems territorial waters. The first intrusion was in August 2011, but the frequency has risen since September 2012, when Tokyo nationalised the islands' ownership, says Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The communication mechanism was first floated in 2007 but talks were suspended in 2012 after Tokyo's island purchase. Tensions have since escalated as encounters between the countries' vessels became more common. The risk of unintended conflict heightened after Beijing declared an air defence identification zone that covers the islands - a move seen as a bid to legitimise China's air patrols in the area - in December 2013. Both analysts agreed negotiations would be unlikely to resume any time soon. "The negotiation is not dead but needs to be stimulated by perhaps another summit meeting," Kotani said. Last year's summit was said to have put bilateral ties back on track. But Liang said the relationship would cool again as "China is really upset" by recent events, such as Japan's new national security laws and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that includes Japan but excludes China. ^ top ^

China-Africa Project Hope launches new school constructions in Africa (Xinhua)
2015-10-08
The China-Africa Project Hope on Wednesday launched its second wave of construction of primary schools in five African countries. About 20 schools will be constructed in Zambia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Mozambique and Malawi. Lu Junqing, chairman of the project said during a launch ceremony held here that the open policy initiated by the Chinese government has resulted in many companies enhanced abilities to take more social responsibilities. "There is no any condition attached to the project. This is a kind of pure love. We did so in the past, do it now, and will continue to do so forever," he said. Negotiation works have been completed in the four other countries while in Zambia construction will start after the signing of a memorandum of understanding, he added. China-Africa Project Hope was launched by World Eminent Chinese Business Association, China Youth Development Foundation and TOJOY Happiness Holding Group. In Africa, the project started in 2010 with the construction of 23 hope primary schools in Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda which helped over 10,000 children go into schools. The project's plan is to donate about 1,000 schools across Africa. The chairman said the major donors to the project have been Chinese companies, adding that the first launch of the project received warm response from benevolent Chinese companies that donated to the project because of the long friendship between China and Africa. […] Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming said the project reflects the new trend of Chinese private companies and non-governmental organizations' active participation in the development of China-Africa relations. He said Chinese companies financing the construction of schools in Africa was a testimony that Chinese companies are contributing to the welfare of nations where they operate. "The success of the project could not have been possible without the generosity of Chinese entrepreneurs and we are happy that the project is now in Africa," he said. "Now China-Africa Project Hope enters Zambia for the first time, it reflects not only the healthy and stable development of China-Zambia relations and the continuous development of pragmatic cooperation in the field of education in recent years, but also the good momentum of development of China-Zambia people-to-people friendship," he added. The Zambian Ministry of General Education Spokesperson Hillary Chipango expressed the government's commitment to the project and added that the government was committed to seeing that the project commences as soon as the memorandum of understanding is signed. ^ top ^

China, Japan and South Korea discussions over three-way Peru meeting may boost summit hopes (SCMP)
2015-10-07
Japan, China and South Korea are discussing a possible trilateral meeting of their finance ministers in Peru this week, said Finance Minister Taro Aso – a move that could pave the way for a summit between the countries to soothe strained relations. Aso also said he would hold talks with his Chinese counterpart, Lou Jiwei, on the sidelines of a meeting of Group of 20 finance leaders to be held in Lima this week. “[The two countries] will discuss macro-finance, the economy and financial cooperation,” he told a news conference on Tuesday. On Friday Aso called for China to make its economic management more transparent in order to help the yuan become a global currency. The two men met had met in Beijing in June at the in the Fifth China-Japan Finance Dialogue - a move that reopened talks for economic cooperation after more than a three-year delay due to tensions between the two countries. Aso also said he would tell his G20 counterparts that Japan's economy continued to recover moderately, despite growing signs it might have slipped into recession again. “Japan's economic fundamentals are not bad at all,” said Aso, who will travel to Lima for the G20 and IMF meetings. The economy of Japan contracted during the three months from April to June and is expected to have barely grown or even shrunk again between July and September as slumping demand in China weighs on already sluggish exports and factory output. Japan's central bank, the Bank of Japan, is under pressure to deploy further stimulus to spur growth, although it is thought it will hold off on any action at its rate review this week in the hope that a tightening job market will gradually lift wages and consumption. Aso, when asked whether the central bank ought to ease policy at its rate review this week, said: “Answering that will be tantamount to intervening in monetary policy affairs, which I won't do.” If a trilateral finance ministerial meeting were to be held, it would be the first such talks since May, when financial leaders from the three countries gathered in the sidelines of an Asian Development Bank annual meeting. While discussions will be likely to focus on financial cooperation and economic developments, the meeting could lay the grounds for a possible trilateral summit later this year. Japanese media have reported that China, Japan and South Korea are considering holding their first summit in three years, sometime around November. ^ top ^

It's not checkmate yet: Beijing to counter US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact (SCMP)
2015-10-07
China will seek to quicken the pace of its free-trade negotiations with other Asia-Pacific economies to counter a mammoth Washington-led trade pact in the region, observers say. The United States and 11 other countries that in total make up 40 per cent of the world's economy scored a landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal in Atlanta on Monday. In response, China - presently excluded from the TPP - was expected to push for the conclusion of its Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations by the end of the year, said Peking University professor Wang Yong. Chinese delegates had, during a ministerial meeting in August, called on the negotiating countries - 10 Asean members plus Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand - to "show enough political resolution … to conclude the substantive negotiations" by the end of 2015 to "produce deliverables for the East Asia Summit" in November, according to Xinhua. The top negotiators will gather in South Korea from October 12 to 16 for the RCEP talks. China is also in talks with South Korea and Japan for a separate free-trade agreement. The three countries were discussing a possible trilateral meeting of their finance ministers on the sidelines of a meeting of Group of 20 finance leaders in Peru this week, said Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso. […] Another US-based think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, described the TPP as "a vivid demonstration that the US is determined to compete on the Asian economic playing field" in the wake of "growing Chinese economic power and geopolitical coercion in Asia". Once approved by the member states' lawmakers, the trade pact will reshape industries and change the cost of products by reducing and eliminating tariffs on almost 18,000 categories of goods. Trade diversions could be the cost to China of not joining the pact, said Joshua Meltzer, senior fellow of Brookings Institution. "Countries and businesses will reorient supply chains … to take advantage of the new market access opportunities to be created among TPP members." For their products to qualify for tariff cuts in the pact, countries will also have to source a certain percentage of imports from TPP members, Meltzer said. That could mean countries like Vietnam that used to rely largely on Chinese imports would turn to TPP members instead to benefit from the deal. Wang said the TPP's more immediate impact on China was investment diversion, with investors becoming less confident in the Chinese economy, whose trade growth was already showing signs of slowing. […] China is still far from reaching TPP standards, which include restrictions on favourable treatment granted to state-owned enterprises - the dominating performers in the Chinese market. "If China doesn't join the TPP because its standards prove too high, that may also be a reflection … that China's economic reforms are going to be a problem," Meltzer said. ^ top ^

The Long March to challenging US space power: China's most powerful rocket can now take on America's missile defence system (SCMP)
2015-10-05
China showed the world how far it had come in developing space weapons as it unveiled its new family of space launch vehicles. The first Long March 6 rocket was successfully launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre late last month with a multipayload of 20 small satellites, according to state broadcaster CCTV and the People's Liberation Army's mouthpiece, the PLA Daily. The September 20 launch marked China as the third country with such technology, after Russia and the United States. About a week later, on September 29, the official Science and Technology Daily reported that a Second Artillery Corps battalion had launched a midnight full-flight test of a strategic missile. The test proved that the strategic missile force could now operate the entire chain of the C4ISR – computerised command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance – systems that the US military uses. “The launch of the Long March 6 will definitely help President Xi Jinping increase his bargaining power on security issues when dealing with US President Barack Obama,” said defence policy specialist He Qisong of the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. “The launch will send a message to the US that the PLA now is capable of breaking its ballistic missile defence system in Asia, because … the multipayload technology can also be used on the DF-41 [long-range nuclear missile].” Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said the Long March 6 technology could also be used on the JL-3, China's third-generation nuclear submarine-launched ballistic missile. The DF-41, which the Pentagon has described as China's most powerful weapon, has an estimated 12,000km range and can carry up to 10 warheads. The DF-41 and JL-3 combined could carry up to 20 warheads, hitting as many different targets. The PLA has yet to acknowledge the existence of the DF-41, although US media have cited Pentagon sources as saying Beijing has launched at least four full tests of the missile since 2012. The Long March 6, however, was given extensive coverage by CCTV and the PLA Daily. Hong Kong-based military expert Liang Guoliang said state media reports suggested the PLA was capable of sending 20 reconnaissance satellites to space. The Long March 6 is a liquid-propellant, small-load space launch vehicle developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology and based on the strap-on booster for the Long March 5 family of satellite launch vehicles, which is due to make its first trial flight next year, according to Xinhua. “The successful launch of the Long March 6 plus the advanced C4ISR operations will enhance China's strategic threats to its enemies,” He said. “This means command systems from the PLA's powerful Central Military Commission … to soldiers at the firing point have all been computerised to support the missile battalion to make all-weather, rapid and accurate shots.” ^ top ^

Alleged spies 'sent by Japan's national intelligence agency' to gain intel on China military and North Korea (SCMP)
2915-10-04
Two Japanese citizens arrested in China on suspicion of spying may have been collecting information about Chinese military activities and North Korea for Japan's national intelligence agency, Kyodo reports. In explaining reasons for entering the country to Chinese authorities, the two men suggested that they were collecting information at the request of Japan's Public Security Intelligence Agency, the report said, citing unidentified Japanese and Chinese diplomatic sources. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wednesday that the authorities had arrested the two Japanese "on suspicion of carrying out espionage activities," while Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denied Japan sent spies to China. An official with the Japanese agency, which typically handles threats to Japan's domestic security, said it was is in no position to comment on the matter. The two individuals, detained in May, were civilians, diplomatic sources said. One, a 55-year-old man residing in Kanagawa prefecture, was a North Korean defector and was detained in Liaoning province near Dandong, a border town on the Yalu River facing North Korea, the government source said. The other man, a 51-year-old resident of Aichi prefecture who is a regular traveller to China, was detained near a military facility in Zhejiang province. An earlier report by Kyodo said Chinese authorities seemed to have been "making an excuse to link [the two] to suspected espionage". There has been report that the two could face the death penalty under the mainland's anti-espionage law, but retired major general Xu Guangyu said the two appeared to be lurking around for information and taking pictures and normally would not be sentenced death. Such foreign spies usually served some time in a Chinese prison in China and expelled to their home country following diplomatic negotiations, Xu said. Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military expert, said Chinese authorities were usually aware of espionage activities and made public arrests to intimidate and embarrass a foreign country when their relationship sours. "Usually such spies are repatriated through diplomatic channels," Ni said. In 2005, China expelled two Japanese men for conducting unauthorised surveying and collecting data precise enough for military use. Their equipment was confiscated and they were fined 50,000 yuan (HK$60,000), Chinese media reported. In 2010, four Japanese men were detained for spying on a military base near Shijiazhuang, Hebei province. Three were released and the other was put under house arrest and released a year later. ^ top ^

Is China building first homegrown aircraft carrier? Satellite pics released by Jane's suggest yes (SCMP)
2015-10-01
New satellite images show China may be building its first indigenous aircraft carrier in the northeastern port of Dalian, according to the military magazine IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, which has released the pictures. Little is known about China's aircraft carrier programme, which is a state secret, although Chinese state media have hinted that new vessels are being built. The Pentagon, in a report earlier this year, said Beijing could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years. Taiwan's Defence Ministry, in a report obtained by Reuters last month, said China was building two aircraft carriers that will be the same size as its sole carrier, a 60,000-tonne refurbished Soviet-era ship called the Liaoning. IHS Jane's said the unidentified hull was in an advanced state of construction at a shipyard in Dalian. “While a conclusive identification of the hull as an aircraft carrier cannot be made until work is observed on the upper decks and potential flight deck, the slow pace of assembly and outline suggests a military hull under construction,” it said on Thursday. The dry dock is “associated” with the refit and repair of China's existing carrier, the Liaoning, IHS Jane's said. The ship could also be a new class of amphibious assault ship or helicopter carrier, it added. The Taiwanese report obtained by Reuters said one of the new vessels was being built in Shanghai and the other in Dalian. The Liaoning, a carrier bought from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China, has taken part in military exercises, including in the disputed South China Sea, but is not yet fully operational. Successfully operating the Liaoning is the first step in what some military experts believe will be the deployment of Chinese-built carriers by 2020. ^ top ^

CIA pulled officers from Beijing after massive cybertheft of US federal personnel records (SCMP)
2015-09-30
The CIA pulled a number of officers from the US Embassy in Beijing as a precautionary measure following the massive online theft of personal data of federal employees, current and former US officials said. The move is a concrete impact of the breach, one of two major hacks into Office of Personnel Management computers that were disclosed earlier this year. Officials have privately attributed the hacks to the Chinese government. The theft of documents has been characterised by senior US officials as political espionage intended to identify spies and people who might be recruited as spies or blackmailed to provide useful information. Because the OPM records contained the background checks of State Department employees, officials privately said the Chinese could have compared those records with the list of embassy personnel. Anybody not on that list could be a CIA officer. The CIA's move was meant to safeguard officers whose agency affiliation might be discovered as a result of the hack, said officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. The CIA declined to comment. The disclosure comes as senior defence and intelligence officials on Tuesday tried – not always successfully – to explain to a committee of frustrated lawmakers their policy on deterring foreign governments, such as China, from carrying out cyber-intrusions. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, sought to make a distinction between the OPM hacks and cybertheft of US companies' secrets to benefit another country's industry. What happened in the OPM case, “as egregious as it was,” Clapper said, was not an attack: “Rather, it would be a form of theft or espionage.” And, he said, “we, too, practice cyberespionage and... we're not bad at it”. He suggested that the US would not be wise to seek to punish another country for something its own intelligence services do. “I think it's a good idea to at least think about the old saw about people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks.” That drew a sharp response from Senator John McCain, the committee's chairman: “So it's okay for them to steal our secrets that are most important because we live in a glass house? That is astounding.” Clapper protested that he did not say it was a good thing. “I'm just saying that both nations engage in this,” he said, referring to China and the United States. Several lawmakers were not satisfied with the lack of a punishment for the OPM theft, despite Clapper's explanation. […] In fact, largely because of the concerns that Clapper outlined, it is unlikely that the administration would impose sanctions or retaliate overtly for the OPM intrusions. During the Cold War, Senator Martin Heinrich noted, a foreign agent who was nabbed trying to steal US secrets would be kicked out of the country if he or she had diplomatic cover or thrown in jail otherwise. In the OPM breach, he said, “the US government seems uncertain about what a proportioned response would look like”. The counterintelligence risks of the OPM breach are significant, Clapper said. He noted that the intelligence agencies do not know specifically whose records were taken. But the scale of the compromise – more than 22 million individuals' records breached – “has very serious implications … from the standpoint of the intelligence community and the potential for identifying people” who may be undercover. “Unfortunately,” he said, “this is a gift that's going to keep on giving for years.” ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Family faces 700,000-yuan fine for one-child policy violations (Global Times)
2015-10-09
Concerns over China's family planning policy have resurfaced after a family of nine, including seven children, in Beijing is being fined 700,000 yuan ($110,180), a report said Thursday. The couple in Beijing's Tongzhou district started having children in 1984. By 2004, three boys and four girls have been living in poverty. Apart from the first three children, four have been living without a hukou, China's household registration certificate, because the family has failed to pay the social maintenance fee as a fine for violating the country's family planning policy. According to a document released last year by the local population and family planning commission, the family has to pay a fine of nearly 700,000 yuan for the four children who still have no hukou. The fine was based on the annual income of rural residents in 2012, and also includes an overdue surcharge, reported The Beijing News. Zhang Zelong, the third child who got his hukou in July, told the Global Times that four of the seven have dropped out of school after nine years of compulsory education before they acquired hukou, and the two youngest children who are primary school students may also need to drop out in the future. "Without a good education, I can only find odd jobs in small factories," Zhang said. The hukou is the official record to identify a person in the Chinese mainland and offers the holder social services such as free education, healthcare and other benefits. Hospitals have also refused to treat Zhang's undocumented siblings. Since his younger sister did not have her hukou, she could not get marriage certificate, thus her children will be facing the same problems which have been plaguing the family for years. "My sister got divorced because of this and now she is suffering from depression," Zhang said. "It's quite rare to see six 'black' kids in one family, the parents should be held responsible for that," Hou Dongmin, a professor at the Renmin University of China, told The Beijing News. The newspaper also quoted a local official as saying that the family has been repeatedly informed about the potential penalty, and the local authorities turned a blind eye to the family. ^ top ^

Graft-buster named as head of China's spy agency as anti-corruption watchdog extends its power (SCMP)
2015-10-08
A former senior official at China's top graft-busting agency has been given the highest Communist Party job in state security, mainland media confirmed yesterday, signalling the agency is expanding its power. Hebei-based Yanzhao Metropolis Daily confirmed the move on Thursday when it reported that Chen Wenqing, 55, a former deputy chief of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, toured the Xibaipo Memorial Museum on September 22 in his capacity as party chief of the Ministry of State Security. He remains a member of the commission. Chen is the third CCDI deputy chief to be appointed to take a top job at another state bureau since President Xi Jinping took power more than three years ago. Wang Wei was put in charge of the Three Gorges Dam project in 2013, and Li Yubin was transferred to the All-China Federation of Trade Unions. Political observers said the move indicated that the CCDI was extending its reach as the anti-corruption drive rolled through more sectors and ministries. "This manoeuvre seems like an expansion of power for the central anti-graft agency," Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said. "It's more like the anti-graft system becoming more intertwined with other bureaus." Speculation that Chen would take up the new role began in earnest in April when his name was removed from the commission's leadership list. On his tour of the museum, Chen reportedly watched a video on party history, and said cadres faced difficult conditions during the 1940s. "Conditions were really tough back then, extremely difficult," the Yanzhao Metropolis Daily quoted him saying. "If all young people today had this spirit of working hard under tough conditions, would there be any task that we could not accomplish?" Chen last worked in state security 13 years ago, according to his public profile. Born and raised in Sichuan, Chen rose from a local police officer to be chief of the provincial state security bureau. He was the bureau's head from 1994 to 2002 before becoming the province's chief prosecutor and then the top graft-buster of Fujian province. In 2012, Chen was promoted to be the deputy chief of the CCDI, the youngest person in the role at the time. Under Xi's massive anti-corruption campaign, former deputy minister of state security Ma Jian was detained in January and put under investigation for alleged severe violation of law and discipline, a stock phrase for corruption. Ma is among a series of senior officials to have been brought down by the campaign, including the nation's former security tsar Zhou Yongkang. ^ top ^

China's top auditor says US$45b of construction projects face delays (SCMP)
2015-10-08
Major Chinese construction projects worth about 286.9 billion yuan (US$45.17 billion) are facing delays because of problems such as the slow distribution of funds by local governments, the country's top auditor said on Thursday. Its comments are likely to fan concerns over the effectiveness of China's renewed effort to pump cash into infrastructure to shore up its slowing economy, as it suggests that such investment is taking longer to ripple through. The projects range from railways to housing. Of 815 projects inspected across 29 provinces in August, 193, worth 286.9 billion yuan, were found to be experiencing significant implementation lags owing to a lack of funds or poor initial planning, the National Audit Office said in a report published on its website. Of 333 railway projects currently under construction, 99 were found to have a completion rate of investment – a measure of investment efficiency – of below 50 per cent, while 20 had a completion rate of less than 10 per cent. For instance, two railways running between the cities of Dali, Ruili and Baoshan in southwestern province of Yunnan, had their completion dates pushed from May 2014 to 2019 because of the slow distribution of construction funds, the report said. Similar delays were found in the construction of agricultural water-conservation projects and expressways, while major telecom operators were found to be behind schedule on data centre completions, it said. While the provinces are supposed to invest 12.43 billion yuan into major agricultural water-saving projects this year, only 708 million yuan had so far been invested at the end of July, it added. Beijing plans to channel funds mainly into infrastructure projects to meet this year's 7 per cent economic growth target, sources involved in policy discussions said last month. Some economists believe current growth levels are already much weaker than official data suggest. China's top planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, has approved about 800 billion yuan of railway, port and highway projects so far this year. ^ top ^

Parts of China's Guangdong province still without power and water five days after deadly Typhoon Mujigae (SCMP)
2015-10-08
Parts of western Guangdong were still struggling to restore power and water supplies yesterday, five days after the strongest typhoon in six decades swept through the region. At least 20 people died and hundreds were injured Typhoon Mujigae made landfall on the mainland near Zhanjiang on Sunday afternoon. Key infrastructure in the city's steel industry was destroyed and thousands of people had to be moved to safety. Electricity and water supplies were gradually restored to residents in the city from Wednesday night but parts of the Guangdong's remote west, including Donghai Island and some communities on the Leizhou Peninsula were still without the essential services yesterday. Zhanjiang resident Angela Huang, 30, said she had not had a shower since Mujigae stuck on Sunday. “We are used to typhoons but never used to take it seriously but this time it's really catastrophic. After the typhoon, we walked downstairs and saw cars crushed and flipped over, and shops destroyed. “It's like Godzilla has attacked the city. The streets are like primeval forests covered by toppled trees. “We lit candles at night but there is no water. I haven't had a shower for five days.” Phone lines in parts of the city, including at a five-star hotel, were still being restored yesterday. “I have not heard from my friends in Leizhou or Donghai. They haven't been able to get online yet,” Huang said. Seven people were killed in typhoon-triggered tornadoes in Guangdong province, and seven more died in landslides. Three fishermen died at sea, and four others were still missing. Meanwhile, one person was found dead after a house collapsed during the storm. Two people were killed in the neighbouring province of Guangxi, where more than 400 homes were destroyed. The storm hit Guangdong on Sunday, triggering widespread blackouts, state media said. Winds knocked out power grids along the coast and authorities cancelled dozens of flights and suspended high-speed train services. The province suffered 23.24 billion yuan (HK$28 billion) in losses from the storm, which affected 3.5 million people and damaged 282,700 hectares of farmland. Mujigae also wreaked havoc in Guangxi, affecting more than 1.72 million people. Donghai Island resident Ye Haiguang said wreckage littered much of the island but government rescue workers were nowhere to be seen five days after the typhoon. “Roofs were ripped off homes. Most Baosteel facilities have collapsed or been destroyed. Billboards, electricity poles and everything outside was wiped out. Nothing is left,” Ye said. “Even the elderly people in our village said they had never seen such a strong typhoon.” He said some residents were still without water and power while others had bought generators and were relying on old wells for water. The price of candles and generators had at least doubled. ^ top ^

Governor of China's Fujian province under investigation by anti-corruption watchdog (SCMP)
2015-10-08
Fujian governor Su Shulin is under investigation for disciplinary violations, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said late Wednesday night, using the euphemism for corruption. The statement did not provide further details. Su previously served in the nation's oil sector, the power base of former security tsar Zhou Yongkang. Su appeared in public on September 29, when he visited typhoon-hit Fuzhou. He was vice-president of China National Petroleum Corporation between 2002 and 2006, and moved to Sinopec as chairman from 2007 to 2011, before being named Fujian's governor and deputy Communist Party chief. His time at CNPC overlapped with that of Jiang Jiemin, another former top executive at the company who was named director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission in March 2013. Jiang appeared in a Hubei court on bribery charges in April. A decision has not yet been handed down. A Tianjin court sentenced Zhou to life in jail in June. State-run Xinhua reported that Jiang gave Zhou 731,000 yuan (HK$890,000) in bribes. Their downfall has been the result of a massive anti-corruption drive President Xi Jinping launched when he came to power more than three years ago. In addition to Zhou and Jiang, Ling Jihua, the one time top aide of former president Hu Jintao, was expelled from the party in July and could face criminal proceedings. In August, Su said the corruption of Zhou, Ling, and other senior officials had deep family roots, and cadres had to reflect deeply on the lessons of these cases. ^ top ^

Challenges loom for China's carbon market plan (China Daily)
2015-10-06
China's plan to launch a national emissions trading market in 2017 has injected fresh political energy into talks ahead of December's climate change summit in Paris, but experts say Beijing will have to overcome daunting challenges to develop a successful carbon market. Since it was announced by President Xi Jinping last Friday as part of joint United States-China pledges on climate change, Beijing's push to create the world's biggest carbon market has been met with some scepticism due to the sheer difficulty of the task. "The announcement of the carbon market will strengthen the prospect of China achieving its climate targets... (but) it does not mean its establishment will be without challenges," said Greenpeace East Asia campaigner Li Shuo. "The central government will need to find a way to ensure implementation at the local levels... and ensure the emissions cap is stringent enough to have a meaningful environmental impact," he added. Doubts have also surfaced, for instance, as to whether the Chinese authorities can accurately monitor and verify emissions, allocate permits and develop transparent policies and trading platforms that assure companies they are being treated equally. Corruption is yet another problem. Cap-and-trade schemes work by limiting the amount of pollution businesses can emit and then letting them pay competitive prices for a share of the quota. Firms that do not use up their quota can sell the remainder, while those that need more than their allotment can buy additional permits. China's attempt to put a price on carbon is not entirely new. The world's biggest producer of carbon dioxide has started pilot programmes in seven cities and provinces including Beijing, Tianjin and Chongqing since 2013. But results have been mixed. Unclear rules and inexperienced regulators have led to problems in monitoring emissions and pricing permits. Similar problems plague the faltering 10-year-old emissions trading programme in Europe that has been criticised for giving out permits too easily and failing to change companies' energy behaviour. Experts say China can learn from the experience of Europe and other countries to build a better carbon market, which will cover key Chinese sectors including power generation, iron and steel, chemicals and cement. Its huge transport sector has been left out for now. Dr Lu Xuedu, an adviser on climate change and the carbon market at the Asian Development Bank, said China should take the important step of enacting legislation to pave the basis for the market. "One problem the European market has faced is the lack of a clear legal definition of the long-term value of carbon credits, which has led to the falling price of carbon. So when China establishes its own market, the value of the permits should be clear and protected by law," he said. Getting accurate data for emissions is also crucial to give the market confidence and China should provide more training for regulators and put in place harsh penalties for non-compliance, he added. Still, China's latest move is seen as another breakthrough in environmental cooperation with the US, the world's second biggest polluter, and a stimulus for negotiations on a new global climate change pact in Paris. Implementing a national carbon trading market will also help China meet its goal in a landmark deal with the US last November to ensure that its carbon emissions peak by 2030, the first time Beijing had given a timeline for a peak. […] ^ top ^

China's Great Wall of tourists: Beijing eyes holiday reforms to reduce overcrowding (SCMP)
2015-10-05
More than 750 million trips are expected on the roads and rails this National Day holiday, with the train system already handling more passengers in one day than at the peak of the Lunar New Year rush, transport authorities said. To ease traffic congestion and overcrowding at tourist attractions, a new study by commissioned by the mainland tourism regulator has suggested that Beijing let local governments set their own public holidays. Roughly 12.5 million train journeys were taken on the first day of the holiday - a record for trips on a single day, according to railway operator China Railway. The company expected a 10 per cent yearly increase in the number of train trips taken over the "golden week". The average number of trips made by train during the holiday has already exceeded the number taken on the busiest day of the Lunar New Year travel season, which is dubbed as the world's largest annual human migration. On the highways, more than 650 million journeys are expected to be made over the holiday week. About four in five vehicles on the highways were sedans, the Ministry of Transport said. A study by the China National Tourism Administration, released just before the public holiday, called for a new system to categorise holidays into two levels - national and local. The system would help ease congestion during major holidays, the study said. Under the proposed system, provincial-level administrations would be able to set dates for their own festivals according to local customs and traditions, while the central government would retain the power to set the dates of national holidays. The mainland presently has 11 official national holidays. When a holiday falls on a Thursday, for example, the central government gives people the following Friday off as well and asks them to work on Sunday instead. This means most people are on holiday and hit the road at the same time. The week-long National Day holiday and Lunar New Year break are particularly popular with mainland tourists, millions of whom flock to attractions and shopping districts both at home and abroad. "The current system causes many people to cram all their trips into the same time periods, and this has caused a slew of negative effects, including heavy traffic congestion … a heavy burden on the environment at tourist attractions, and poor quality of experience for the tourists," a tourism official was quoted by Xinhua as saying. The tourism administration said the State Council should come up with concrete proposals and push for the introduction of local holiday legislation. ^ top ^

Exposing shoddy 'tofu': China's eco-research to clean rivers and lakes squandered billions in funds (SCMP)
2015-10-05
The term "tofu projects" was coined years ago to describe poorly built infrastructure that could prove deadly. But anti-corruption investigators have found that the term - first used by Premier Zhu Rongji to describe flood dykes that were as porous as tofu dregs - could equally be used to describe some of the shoddy projects that have been taking place under the guise of the nation's biggest scientific research programmes. One such project that has come especially under the spotlight is the "Special Water Programme" - China's largest ever scientific research fund, launched in 2009 with a pledge of 34 billion yuan (HK$41 billion) over an 11-year period to find technological solutions to clean major rivers and lakes. The fund had promised to breakthrough institutional obstacles, reduce pollution discharged into the waterways, and rehabilitate six major rivers and lakes. Last month, after a series of reports the fund was being misused at local levels over the past few years, the chief engineer of the programme, Meng Wei, was given a warning for oversight. Read more: China's deadly water problem An inspection had found that fake and disreputable research projects had been claiming money from the fund. Meng is also the director of Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, one of the leading institutes of the special programme. A few other executives and researchers also received warnings - the lowest type of administrative punishment in the mainland's bureaucratic system. The irregularities were first spotted by inspectors from the country's top graft-busting body in March. The Ministry of Environmental Protection launched a subsequent investigation, and found several research institutes, an environmental company and an accounting firm were involved in cheating or squandering research funds. Funding approval was given for plagiarised research and to projects not eligible for sponsorship, state media reported. The reports did not put a figure on how much money had been squandered, but the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences was ordered to retract 450,000 yuan it had granted as a "technology service fee" for two institutions. The ministry said it would hand over evidence of criminal violations to prosecutors. This was not the first time the fund had been misused. Last year, Chen Yingxiu, a vice-president at Zhejiang University, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for embezzling 9.45 million yuan from the fund. China Business News reported last year that a mid-term review of the programme found that its funds had been spent on buying microwaves, cleaning air conditioners, covering student tuition, and even paying personal income tax. The latest findings show that poor management can also result in the squandering of public funds dedicated to solving one of the mainland's most pressing environmental issues. "How ridiculous, we've surveyed the country's major rivers over the past decade, without spending a penny from the national fund," said Yang Yong, an independent geologist. The environment ministry's yearly update said nearly 30 per cent of the country's major rivers remained polluted or severely polluted - with 9 per cent unsafe for human contact. And some of the chronic problems in lakes, such as algae outbreaks in summer months, remained severe. ^ top ^

Deadly Guangxi blasts: ease in getting explosives shows major flaw in China's security (SCMP)
2015-10-02
A series of deadly bomb blasts in China this week has shown how easy it is to obtain explosives in the country – exposing a major gap in the mainland's huge security apparatus as the economy slows and anger grows over issues such as corruption and poor public services. In a country where firearms are banned for most people, the bombings in the southwestern city of Liuzhou, in the Guanxi autonomous region, on Wednesday and Thursday, and other places around the country in recent years, demonstrate lax enforcement of rules that control access to bomb-making materials. Private gun ownership is also banned on the mainland, but many thousands of illegal weapons are traded on the black market. The 18 coordinated blasts across Liuzhou, which lies in a relatively obscure part of China, destroyed one whole side of a low-rise residential building, overturned vehicles and sent bricks showering into the street, images carried by state media television and newspapers showed. The explosions killed at least seven people and injured more than 50. The attacks have been blamed on one individual in the city, but such “sudden incidents” – as Beijing refers to them – highlight broader government fears about stability in the world's second-largest economy, with a widening gap between rich and poor and growing anger at corruption and environmental issues. […] The ease with which explosives can be obtained on the mainland was underscored in a court case posted online earlier this year as part of a government transparency drive. In September last year, a court in southwestern China's Yunnan province jailed a man for three years after finding more than 20kg of explosives, almost 100 detonators and 1.5km of fuses at his house. The man, whose surname was given as Ren, told the court he had found it easy to buy the materials by claiming that they were needed for his job, according to the court ruling. In fact, Ren said he had been buying the explosives and storing them at home for the past decade without any problems, even though he seemed to have no violent intent. The government said it was not aware of any motive for this week's attacks in Liuzhou in the southwestern region of Guangxi after ruling out terrorism. The suspect in the bombings, a 33-year-old man identified only by his surname, Wei, had used other people to send the parcel bombs, according to Xinhua news agency. […] Guangxi is home to many mines, which regularly use explosives, and like the rest of China, has numerous firework factories. Last year, police in Liuzhou arrested a father and son who were “unhappy with society and wanted revenge” and blew up trash cans in a public square using home-made firecrackers, injuring a female bystander, state media reported. Property disputes in a country where the government legally owns all land, including the compulsory purchase of properties and farmland, have also led to unruly protests, fights with police, imprisonment and even suicide, and created a major headache for the stability-obsessed ruling Communist Party. […] ^ top ^

 

Beijing

China continues to issue yellow alert for smog (Xinhua)
2015-10-06
China's weather observatory on Tuesday afternoon continued to issue a yellow alert for smog in Beijing and neighboring regions. Smog in Beijing, Tianjin and parts of Hebei, Liaoning and Shandong provinces since Monday may persist, the National Meteorological Center (NMC) said. The smog will be dispersed by a cold front from Wednesday evening, the NMC said. China has a four-tier color-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe weather, followed by orange, yellow and blue. The NMC warns people in the affected areas to reduce outdoor activities. The smog coincides with the week-long National Day holiday, and many tourists are vacationing in Beijing. The Chinese public have become increasingly sensitive to the health hazard. To address public concerns, the government aims to cut the density of inhalable particulate matter by at least 10 percent in major cities by 2017.. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetan medicine to go nationwide (Global Times)
2015-10-09
With the capacity to produce Tibetan medicine, "Sowa Rigpa" in the local dialect, on an industrial scale, Tibetan pharmaceutical firms are set to compete in the wider-Chinese market, according to the local health department. Phurbu Drolma, director of the Tibet Autonomous Region Health and Family-planning Department, said on Thursday that the Tibetan medicine sector had been industrialized. The annual industrial output of Tibetan medicine now exceeds 800 million yuan ($126 million) and 18 Tibetan firms are now certified under the national standard. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

50 dead in Xinjiang coal mine attack as China marks 60th anniversary of region's founding (SCMP)
2015-10-02
At least 50 people died as knife-wielding men attacked a coal mine in Xinjiang last month, according to a media report and the World Uygur Congress. The incident was not reported by state media. The report on the attack came as the region marked the 60th anniversary on Thursday of the establishment of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Attending one of the anniversary events on Wednesday, Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said troops in the region should play a bigger role in fighting separatism, terrorism and extremism. US-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that 50 people, most of them Han Chinese, were killed in the September 18 attack at the Sogan colliery in Aksu prefecture. Most of the victims were migrant workers from rural Sichuan. Among the dead were five police officers. Another 50 were injured, according to the report. […] When police officers arrived on the scene, attackers "rammed their vehicles using trucks loaded down with coal", the report quoted one man from Sichuan as saying. The police blamed knife-wielding separatists, it said. Calls to the Xinjiang government went unanswered. Dilxat Rexit, a spokesman for the Germany-based World Uygur Congress, confirmed the attack took place in Bay Nahiyisi, in Aksu, last month. He said it was the result of Beijing's ethnic policies over the past six decades. The high-profile 60th anniversary events also added to discontent among Uygurs, he said. The colliery, consisting of three separate coal mine shafts, had a six-storey dormitory to house its 300-400 workers - around 90 per cent of whom were Han Chinese, RFA reported. Beijing has said it faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists in Xinjiang, where hundreds have died in violence in recent years. Yu has been in Urumqi at the helm of a 69-member central government delegation attending the anniversary events since Sunday. "Firmly fighting violent terrorist activities should be the priority of our battle at present," Xinhua quoted Yu as saying. Yu, a Politburo Standing Committee member who oversees Xinjiang affairs, also met senior officials from the military district, armed police and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in Urumqi. Yu told a meeting last month that a government-backed aid programme to send professionals to Xinjiang should also aim to curb "terrorism". The programme was previously limited to economic development. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Bomb detonated in Hong Kong, over 500 evacuated (Xinhua)
2015-10-06
A bomb was detonated at the reconstruction site of the Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong, Radio Television Hong Kong reported on Tuesday. At around 4:00 p.m. local time, construction workers found a metal-shelled suspected bomb with dilapidated surface and one meter in length. Firefighters and police officers arrived at the scene and more than 500 people were evacuated. Hong Kong Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel arrived at the scene and detonated the bomb at around 9:00 p.m with no casualties. A Queen Mary Hospital spokesman said the hospital services, including emergency room and inpatient services, maintain normal. ^ top ^

United Front chief Sun Chunlan tells young Hongkongers to love their country and make the most of close ties with China (SCMP)
2015-10-06
The head of the Communist Party's United Front Work Department yesterday met the city's tycoons on her first trip to Hong Kong and called on young people to love their country and be responsible towards it. Sun Chunlan, a Politburo member who succeeded the disgraced Ling Jihua earlier this year, was the first central government official responsible for Hong Kong affairs to visit the city after the pro-democracy sit-ins last year. Her trip also came amid state media's continuing attacks on embattled tycoon Li Ka-shing, accusing him of being "unpatriotic" for offloading his assets on the mainland. A CK Hutchison Holdings spokesman said Li was invited to the breakfast meeting with the tycoons, but he was not in town. His son and deputy chairman of Hutchison, Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, who was present, described the atmosphere at breakfast as good as he again dismissed accusations the conglomerate was withdrawing from the mainland. "We have just started tens of billions of [dollars worth of] investment on a natural gas project," he said. "Our company Husky is teaming up with a mainland company and it is the biggest natural gas project in China." Other tycoons present at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Wan Chai included Henry Cheng Kar-shun, chairman of New World Development; Robert Ng Chee-siong, chairman of Sino Group; Peter Lee Ka-kit, vice-chairman of Henderson Development; and Robert Kuok, chairman of Kerry Group. Kerry Group is the biggest shareholder in SCMP Group, publisher of the South China Morning Post. Meanwhile, in a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war, Sun called on Hongkongers, alongside Taiwanese and Macau people, to deepen their love for their country and seize opportunities afforded by close ties with the motherland. "Young people of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are the future pillars of society," Sun, the former party chief of Tianjin, said. "I hope in the future path of growth, you will have a stronger sense of responsibility and mission to the country's development... and work hard to make the nation rich and powerful." Pro-establishment lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin, of the Federation of Trade Unions, said Sun's visit was "definitely" not related to the upcoming elections, though the department she helmed was responsible for uniting different parties. "Sun is a very high-ranking official … the business sector - especially the big tycoons - would be her target, not the traditional pro-Beijing parties," Wong said, adding that settling disputes for the pro-establishment camp in the district council elections in November would be too trivial for her. ^ top ^

Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang out on bail after court hears misconduct charges over luxury Shenzhen flat rental (SCMP)
2015-10-06
Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday became Hong Kong's highest-ranking official ever to be prosecuted, making a sudden debut appearance in court to face double charges over a three-storey penthouse in Shenzhen. Accompanied by his wife, Tsang, 70, attended Eastern Court to hear two counts of misconduct in public office filed against him. The charges cover his alleged failure to disclose his interests in the penthouse between 2010 and 2012 to various bodies, including the Executive Council, when he was the city's top leader. He is accused of approving a licensing bid by Digital Broadcasting Corporation - a radio station of which penthouse owner Bill Wong Chor-bau is a major shareholder - and of proposing the flat's interior designer for nomination to the city's top honours. Tsang issued a statement declaring he had "a clear conscience" and "every confidence the court will exonerate" him. […] The first charge alleged that between November 2, 2010 and January 20, 2012, Tsang, without reasonable excuse, failed to tell Exco he was in talks with Wong, a major shareholder of Wave Media, to lease the penthouse at East Pacific Garden. Tsang allegedly approved applications by Wong's company - later renamed DBC - for a digital broadcasting licence, the surrender of its AM radio licence, and the appointment of Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung as DBC director and board chairman. Tsang also failed to disclose a sum of 800,000 yuan his wife paid to another company where Wong was a shareholder in November 2010, the court heard. The second charge accuses Tsang of suggesting that interior designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai be nominated under the city's honours and awards system between December 2010 and July 2011. He allegedly did not tell the then permanent secretary for the Chief Executive's Office, Development Bureau and Honours and Non-official Justices of the Peace Selection Committee that Ho was tasked with the flat's design. After the charges were read out, Tsang told Magistrate So Wai-tak twice: "I understand." He was granted HK$100,000 bail on the condition he would inform the court of any change of residence 24 hours beforehand. He was not to interfere with the prosecution's 24 witnesses, So said, and must inform the Independent Commission Against Corruption 24 hours before leaving the city. Tsang will return to Eastern Court on November 13, after which the case is expected to be transferred to the High Court. Reporters began to gather outside the ICAC's North Point offices shortly before noon as news of the prosecution of the former chief executive spread. court on misconduct charges over luxury flat lease […] Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said there were no political considerations in the prosecution decision. Ho's office told the South China Morning Post it had no comment. Wong also declined comment since the legal proceeding had begun, but stressed he had only leased a flat to Tsang. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macau Unesco heritage site under threat as US probes alleged bribery links to estate tycoon (SCMP)
2015-10-07
A former president of the United Nations General Assembly, a billionaire Macau real estate developer and four other people have been charged in connection with what US authorities have described as a wide-ranging corruption scheme. John Ashe, a former U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda who was general assembly president from 2013 to 2014, has been accused in a complaint filed in federal court in New York of taking more than US$1.3 million in bribes from Chinese businessmen, including Macau real estate tycoon, Ng Lap Seng. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who announced the arrests of Ashe and the other defendants, said the investigation could result in more charges as authorities examine whether "corruption is business as usual at the United Nations." The latest charges come as sources in Macau say the probe includes allegations of bribery linked to development projects on or near to Unesco heritage sites. Details of the latest twist in the probe into Ng – an influential businessman with high-level connections in Beijing and Washington – come just days after the chief executive, Fernando Chiu Sai-on, marked the 10th anniversary of the historic centre of Macau being placed on the World Heritage List by admitting there was room for improvement in revitalising historic buildings. "If proven, today's charges will confirm that the cancer of corruption that plagues too many local and state governments infects the United Nations as well," Bharara said. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is "shocked and deeply troubled" by the allegations, said his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric. The U.N. had not previously been informed of the probe, Dujarric said, but would cooperate if contacted. The case followed the Sept. 19 arrest of Ng, 68, and an assistant, Jeff Yin, 29, for falsely claiming that $4.5 million they brought into the United States from China from 2013 to 2015 was meant for gambling or buying art, antiques or real estate. Both men are charged in the latest case. Bharara said authorities continue to examine the funds connected to Ng, who prosecutors say has a $1.8 billion fortune, much of which he earned on developments in Macau. According to the complaint, Ng, through intermediaries, paid Ashe more than $500,000 for telling the U.N. secretary general that a yet-to-be built multibillion-dollar U.N.-sponsored conference center in Macau was needed. The Macau Commission Against Corruption had not responded to questions from the Post by early today (Wednesday) and emailed questions to Ng's US lawyer, Kevin Tung, went unanswered. Separate questions to Unesco headquarters in France and the US Attorney's Office in New York also went unanswered. Ng, who was caught up in a political funding scandal involving former US president Bill Clinton in the 1990s – was arrested just days before President Xi Jinping addressed the UN General Assembly in New York during his recent visit to the US. The businessman is a member of both the National Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and that in Heilongjiang province, and was appointed by Beijing to sit on the preparatory committee overseeing Macau's handover in 1999. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's KMT call meeting to discuss fate of struggling presidential candidate Hung Hsui-chu (SCMP)
2015-10-07
Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang decided on Wednesday afternoon to convene an extraordinary party congress to discuss the fate of its presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu. Hung made a defiant speech on Tuesday vowing to stay in the race, following KMT chairman Eric Chu's public remarks that the party had to consider “the likely success or failure of individuals” and reports that he and senior party officials discussed with Hung several times whether she should drop out of January's presidential election. Emotional supporters of Hung smashed the window of a car in front of the KMT's headquarters, where the party's Central Standing Committee met this afternoon, the United Daily News reported. Twenty-eight of the KMT's thirty-nine standing committee members endorsed a motion to hold a special party national congress later this month to discuss whether the party needed to ditch Hung later this month, the Central News Agency reported, adding that the upcoming party congress would be held as early as next Saturday. A spokesperson said the party congress theme would be consensus building and fostering solidarity of the party in the upcoming election, which also includes the legislature seats. He said Chu had agreed to take responsibility for moving the motion to convene the party congress. Local media reports said calls for Chu to take over from Hung had been high, as this was seen as likely to boost the KMT's chance of securing seats in the legislature. ^ top ^

Unification with China not on agenda, says Taiwanese president (SCMP)
2015-10-02
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said on Thursday the island was not ready to discuss unification with mainland China, sending a firm message to an increasingly assertive Beijing eager to absorb what it considers as a renegade province. Ma, 65, said that, though the economic and social gaps between the proudly democratic island and its giant Communist neighbour were narrowing, their political differences remained wide. “The political situation between the two sides is still very different,” said Ma, speaking on the day Beijing was celebrating its National Day. “I think to discuss matters, such as unification, is not very suitable. Taiwan is not ready.” Although his eight-year presidency has been characterised by warming business ties with the mainland, Ma, who steps down next year due to term limits, repeated how “the time was not yet ripe” for unification talks between the once bitter enemies. His comments underscore how far Taiwan has moved from embracing the mainland following massive protests on the island last year against a cross-strait trade pact and the weakening of Ma's mainland-freindly Kuomintang party. The mainland China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since defeated KMT forces fled to the island in 1949 after losing a civil war to the Communists. Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island of 23 million people back under its control, particularly if it were to make moves towards formal independence. Ma acknowledged the mainland's economy and society had changed dramatically in the past 30 years. “The economy and society are freer than in the past,” he said. “Its stock markets are vibrant. This was rarely seen before.” The mainland is Taiwan's largest trading partner and many Taiwanese tech companies run plants on the mainland. Under Ma, Taiwan has signed a series of trade and economic pacts with Beijing, though there have been no political talks and suspicions persist on both sides. In what was widely seen as a backlash against creeping dependence on the mainland, Ma's Nationalists were trounced in local elections last year and look on course for defeat in the 2016 presidential vote to the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The DPP says it believes only Taiwan's people can decide its future, a stance Beijing interprets as favouring independence. ^ top ^

Taiwan's presidential hopeful refuses to quit amid low support and rumours of KMT replacing her (SCMP)
2015-10-07
Hung Hsiu-chu, the struggling presidential candidate of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang, remained defiant on Tuesday and pledged she will not step down as the party's candidate and will remain in the race right to the end. “I will insist on my original intention to run for president and carry out my promise … even though some party members have tried to persuade me to quit,” Hung told a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Hung's remark came just a few hours after the party's chairman Eric Chu said that the party needed to look at the “likely success or failure of an individual” in the forthcoming presidential election after media reports had suggested it was considering ditching its struggling candidate. Rumours that KMT is planning to replace Hung have been circulating since last week, with one claim saying that the KMT's leadership had suggested that Chu stand for the presidency with Hung as his deputy, only for Hung to insist that he should act as her deputy. “Until this moment, I couldn't believe that [the rumours about me being replaced] were actually true,” Hung told the press conference. She added that she would not accept any enticements to make her withdraw, including the suggestion that she should stand as a vice-presidential candidate and could have her campaign costs paid by the KMT. Hung has to raise all her campaign funds by herself, including public donations, because the KMT leadership has refused to give her financial support after she became the party's sole presidential candidate. Hung is already trailing rival Tsai Ing-wen, the candidate from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, in recent polls carried out with members of the electorate. There were growing concerns within the party that Hung lagged behind not only behind Tsai, but also another candidate, James Soong, of People First Party, a minor opposition party, the Central News Agency reported on Monday. The United Daily News reported on Tuesday that Chu and another senior party official had discussed with Hung the idea of her standing down from the election on three separate occasions in recent weeks. Chu told reporters in Taipei on Tuesday that he and Hung had talked about the reports suggesting she drop out. “May be she doesn't care about her personal success or failure [in her political career],” Chu said. “But as the KMT chairman, I must consider our party's future existence … and I told her that, if necessary, I will take responsibility [for finding a replacement]. “I needed to tell her a truth that, from a grassroots level right up to heavyweights within the party, there are differing opinions and voices concerning her [nomination for presidential election].” However, he refused to say whether he would replace Hung in the election. Chu said the KMT would make a decision about any new nomination only after talks between key members, including President Ma Ying-jeou, Vice-President Wu Den-yih, and the Legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng. Chu added that so far Hung had refused to give up her candidacy, Hung was quoted by CNA as saying on Tuesday: “I cannot think of a reason to quit at the moment.” Rumours that KMT is planning to replace Hung have been circulating since last week, with one claim saying that the KMT's leadership had suggested that Chu stand for the presidency with Hung as his deputy, only for Hung to insist that he should be her deputy. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China launches international payment system (Xinhua)
2015-10-08
The first phase of China International Payment System (CIPS) was officially launched Thursday in Shanghai, a milestone in the internationalization of the Chinese currency, the renminbi or yuan. The system, which provides capital settlement and clearing services for cross-border yuan transactions for financial institutions domestically and abroad, will enhance efficiency and increase global use of the Chinese currency by cutting costs and processing times, said Fan Yifei, vice president of the People's Bank of China, the central bank. Previously, cross-border yuan clearing had to be done either through one of the offshore yuan clearing banks in places like Hong Kong, Singapore and London, or else with the help of a corresponding bank on the Chinese mainland. CIPS will have a significant role in shoring up China's real economy and promoting the "going abroad" strategy of domestic enterprises, said Fan. Developed and administered by the central bank, CIPS enables market participants outside China to clear yuan transactions with their Chinese counterparts directly from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Beijing time during any working day under a coding format in line with international practice. China's yuan became one of the world's top five payment currencies in November 2014, overtaking the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar, according to global transaction services organization SWIFT. China has accelerated the pace of yuan internationalization in recent years. The central bank designated 10 official yuan clearing banks last year, bringing the total to 14 globally that can clear yuan transactions with China. ^ top ^

Adoption of IMF statistical standard a 'milestone': PBC official (Global Times)
2015-10-08
China announced on Thursday that it will adopt the IMF's Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), marking significant progress for the nation's macroeconomic data. With the approval from the State Council, China's cabinet, the People's Bank of China (PBC) Governor Zhou Xiaochuan formally informed IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Tuesday of the decision, the PBC said in a statement posted on its website on Thursday. The PBC, the central bank, said that the adoption of the SDDS is necessary for China's further reform and opening-up, which can improve the transparency, credibility and international comparability of the nation's macroeconomic data. […] On Wednesday, PBC Deputy Governor Yi Gang said China and the IMF have been working together to improve China's statistics for many years, and subscribing to the SDDS is another milestone in the collaboration. "The adoption of the SDDS can play a part in promoting the internationalization of the yuan," Xu Gao, chief economist at China Everbright Securities Co, told the Global Times on Thursday. The move "will prompt China to improve statistical transparency so that other economies and international investors can have a better understanding of China's economic reality and more faith in China," Xu noted. Shao Yu, chief economist at Orient Securities Co, agreed. "China's official macroeconomic data statistics will be more convincing to the international community," Shao told the Global Times Thursday. In Xu's view, the adoption of the SDDS benefits China above all. "China's policymakers can get a better picture of the real economy based on more accurate statistics," Xu said. There have been many doubts among international investors and foreign media about the accuracy of China's economic growth statistics, with many saying that the true figures were lower than the official data indicated. The National Bureau of Statistics said on July 15 that GDP rose 7 percent year-on-year in the first half and China has the ability to achieve its full-year growth target of around 7 percent. A surprisingly sharp devaluation of the yuan in August, which rocked global markets, increased skepticism about China's real economic situation, with some critics alleging the move was intended to boost exports. The National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, on September 23 defended the credibility of the GDP figures, saying the doubts were not based on "strict and sound research". The IMF forecast in its latest report released Tuesday that China's economy will grow 6.8 percent this year and 6.3 percent in 2016, respectively. […] ^ top ^

China's forex reserves continue to fall in September (Xinhua)
2015-10-07
China's foreign exchange reserves fell to 3.51 trillion U.S. dollars at the end of September, the country's central bank announced on Wednesday. The reserves decreased by 43.26 billion U.S. dollars in September, marking the fourth consecutive month of declines, according to the People's Bank of China. But the decrease was not as sharp as in August. The reserves dropped by a record 93.9 billion U.S. dollars in August. The country's gold reserves fell from 61.795 billion U.S. dollars at the end of August to 61.189 billion U.S. dollars at the end of September. China's foreign exchange reserves decreased by 42.5 billion U.S. dollars in July. In the third quarter, forex reserves fell by 179.66 billion U.S. dollars, much more than the 40-billion-U.S.-dollar decrease in the second quarter, marking a fifth consecutive quarterly drop. Fuelled by exports, forex reserves grew for more than a decade before beginning their decline in the third quarter of 2014. China is battling a property downturn, industrial overcapacity, sluggish demand and struggling exports, which dragged growth down to 7 percent for the first half of the year. ^ top ^

China external debt at 1.68 trillion USD in June (Xinhua)
2015-10-02
China's outstanding foreign debt settled at around 1.68 trillion U.S. dollars by the end of June, slightly up by 6.9 billion U.S. dollars from the end of March, data from the country's forex regulator showed. Most of the debt owed to foreign creditors, or around 70 percent of the total foreign debt, resulted from short-term borrowing, as outstanding external debt with a term of one year or less amounted to about 1.17 trillion U.S. dollars, while long- and medium-term outstanding external debt came in at 510 billion U.S. dollars, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a statement on its website. In terms of currency structure, debt denominated in U.S. dollars accounted for 80 percent of the outstanding registered external debt, and that in euros and Japanese yen accounted for 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively. The amount does not include the outstanding external debt of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions or that of Taiwan, SAFE said. ^ top ^

Bank of China launches RMB clearing center in Budapest (Xinhua)
2015-10-02
Bank of China officially launched its Renminbi (RMB) clearing center in Budapest on Friday. The ceremony was attended by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Bank of China Chairman Tian Guoli, Chinese Ambassador to Hungary Duan Jielong, Hungarian national economy minister Mihaly Varga and other dignitaries. Addressing the gathering, Tian pointed to the potential benefits of economic cooperation between China and Hungary. By setting up the clearing center Bank of China hopes to boost trade with Hungary, he said. By this means, enterprises could focus on their products and projects, with less worry about remittance and less remittance costs, Tian said, adding that there is a huge demand on utilization of RMB in investment and trading activities conducted by enterprises in both countries. On his part, Orban underlined Hungary's potential to become the growth center of Central Europe. There is a good reason why China chose Budapest as its regional center, he noted. Orban said that the new center reinforced a win-win alliance and he envisaged the birth of a "new Silk Road" between China and Hungary, and all of Central Europe. The move follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the People's Bank of China and Hungary's central bank in Budapest in June of 2015. This is the first RMB clearing center in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). At this time China is Hungary's biggest non-European Union trading partner and total Chinese investment in Hungary to date amounts to more than 3.5 billion U.S. dollars. Hungary, on its part, is China's top CEE trading partner. Bank of China has operated a subsidiary in Hungary since 2003 and has maintained a full-fledged branch in Budapest since 2014. ^ top ^

 

DPRK
CPC official's visit to N.Korea a good move to maintain dialogue: experts (Global Times)
2015-10-09
A delegation visit, headed by a senior leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC), to North Korea on Friday displays China's friendly and active move to maintain and smooth the communication channel between the two countries, experts said. The CPC delegation led by Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, was invited by the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) to pay an "official" and "friendly" visit and attend activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the WPK, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Cui Zhiying, a professor specializing in South Korea at Tongji University in Shanghai, told the Global Times that Liu's visit shows that China has attached great importance to its relations with North Korea and an understanding that the long-standing friendship between the two nations needs to continue despite twists and turns. Jeong Joon-hee, spokesman of Seoul's Unification Ministry on Monday said that North Korea hopes the exchange can "contribute to easing heightened tension on the peninsula and maintaining stability," the Yonhap News Agency reported. The visit has given rise to expectations in the economic and social sectors. However, Cui cautioned that progress on key issues is not easy to achieve nor can it be easily actualized in one meeting. "Though breakthroughs on nuclear issues are unlikely to be achieved, small scale financial assistance is promising," Jin Qiangyi, director of the Asia Studies Center at Yanbian University in Northeast China's Jilin Province, told the Global Times. Jin said that China and North Korea need to dialogue and Liu's visit can help maintain and smooth the channel, which is especially important in the complicated international situation. China-North Korea relations will not suddenly become perfect nor will it collapse all of a sudden, as the two nations have walked a long path with ups and downs, and neither high expectations nor a dampening tone is a wise mindset when viewing this visit, said a Tuesday commentary published on an official WeChat account managed by the People's Daily. At least 17 Chinese leaders have visited North Korea in the past 25 years, media reports said. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Environmental assessment curriculum for Mongolia prepared (Montsame)
2015-10-07
Vice Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism M.Khurelsukh received October 6 Stefan Hanselmann and O.Batbold from the Integrated Mineral Resources Initiative (IMRI), and a director of “Natural Capital” Co. Yu.Bayanjargal and executive director of the Assessment Union B.Ikhbayar. The guests spoke about newly developed living environment assessment curriculum for Mongolia, based on the studies on other countries' practices. It has been prepared in frames of the IMRI, implemented by the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) and Ministry of Industry of Mongolia and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). They said the unit price of the environmental damage assessment can be 67 Togrog, while it is 0.32 euro in Germany. The curriculum can be used not only in mining, but also in many other fields such as infrastructure, civil construction and urban development. M.Khurelsukh approved the project for being quite “tangible”, and expressed an interest to keep up the cooperation on this. He considered that specialists need to be trained in environmental assessment. ^ top ^

China's Defense Minister to arrive (Montsame)
2015-10-06
Mongolia will receive the Colonel-General Chang Wanquan, the Minister of Defense and a State Councilor of the People's Republic of China on this October 8-10 He has been invited by his Mongolian counterpart Ts.Tsolmon. This has been a year of high-level interactions in the defense sphere for Mongolia, having hosted visits of Under-secretary-general for UN peacekeeping operations Hervé Ladsous, Minister of Defense of Qatar Major General Hamad Bin Ali Al Attiyah, Administrative Vice-Minister of Defense of Japan N.Masanori and Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow. The Colonel-General Chang has been a director of the PLA General Armaments Department and a member of the Central Military Commission of China. He has helped to manage China's space program. From January 2002 to December 2004, he was the chief of staff and a CPC committee member of the PLA Lanzhou Military Region. From December 2004 to September 2007, he was the commander of the PLA Shenyang Military Region. Since September 2007, he has been serving as the director of the PLA General Armaments Department. In October of 2007 he was elected the member of the Central Military Commission. He attained the rank of senior Colonel in 1992, Major General in July of 1997, Lieutenant General in 2003, and Full General in October of 2007. He has been a member of the 16th, 17th and 18th Central Committees. In October of 2012, he was appointed the Minister of National Defense, succeeding General Liang Guanglie. At the first plenary session of the 12th National People's Congress, he was also elected as State Councilor. ^ top ^

Chinese company to execute infrastructure for Eg River Power Plant (Montsame)
2015-10-06
The Cabinet on Monday permitted the Invest Mongolia Agency to conclude a concession agreement with China Gejuba Group Limited on the preliminary work of infrastructure for Eg River Power Plant. Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat was assigned to manage the agreement conclusion in accordance with the regulations. The Group has been selected from a number of bidders who had proposed to build the infrastructure on their own funding. According to the draft agreement, the construction will complete within 13 months, creating more than 500 jobs. China Gejuba Group Ltd. operates in energy, in roads, bridges and dams building, in infrastructure construction. The company had built and commisioned 146.5-km road in Mongolia. It had also executed over 70 percent of the construction of China's Three Gorges Dam, the top in the world in terms of its installed capacity. ^ top ^

Mongolia requested assistance in organizing the 11th ASEM Summit (Infomongolia)
2015-10-06
Mongolia will host 11th ASEM Summit in 2016. On occasion, the National Council responsible for organizations of the 11th ASEM Summit had its meeting on October 02, 2015. At the meeting, the National Council has discussed the required budget for the summit and progress of preparation works. As Mongolia is tackling economic difficulties, the Government had decided to request assistance from five foreign countries. China agreed to provide assistance on required equipment for the translation works, airport and hotel furniture, and South Korea agreed to provide hotel management training and supply some meeting equipment. In addition, the Government of Mongolia has contacted other countries for assistance on security and medical equipment but they have not responded yet. Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg ordered to allocated required amount of money for the road repair works and procurement of vehicles from the state budget. Within preparation works, Ulaanbaatar city administration will run series of repair works in place where delegates will stay and work. ^ top ^

President declares Mongolia's neutrality (Montsame)
2015-09-30
The leader of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj, attending the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, gave speech to the general debate on September 29. “Today, the world has achieved the highest degree of international cooperation in history”, he emphasized. The President suggested that the UN forms a system of rules-norms, laws and institutions that every country agrees to abide by, in exchange for the benefits of peace and stability, in order achieve peace and stability. He highlighted a significance of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals, by describing it as “a roadmap” for humanity for the 15 years to come. “We agreed on urgent targets, on a broad range of economic and social challenges, and on environmental emergencies,” he said. The President also stressed Mongolia's achievements in the last two decades of democracy, saying that Mongolia created “one of the most unique, open, competitive and fair election systems in our region”, having adopted a nationwide electronic voting and biometric voter registration. However, he went on, "corruption is still a big threat". “Yet, in the past 5 years, with transparent, determined, enforceable policies, our country's corruption index dropped one third, according to Transparency International. We will continue to block the menace of corruption head on,” he said. Mongolia has been hosting important international events in the recent years. The most significant one is the 11th ASEM Summit, which will run in Ulaanbaatar next year. “Mongolia will further consolidate and strengthen our peace initiatives and role as mediator”, he noted. Mentioning that Mongolia pursued nuclear-weapon-free status for 23 years, the President said the country has a peaceful, open, multi-pillar foreign policy. “This stance enabled us to declare Mongolia in a state of permanent neutrality”. “Therefore, I kindly ask your sympathy and support for Mongolia's peaceful, open, neutral, and active foreign policy efforts. I am convinced that Mongolia's status of permanent neutrality will contribute to the strengthening of peace, security and development in our region and the world at large”, he stated.
A full speech is available^ 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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