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
  19-23.10.15, No. 593  
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Foreign Policy

Beijing invokes immunity for consulate staff over fatal Cebu shooting (SCMP)
2015-10-23
Beijing invoked diplomatic immunity for its consulate staff in Cebu City in the Philippines who were involved in Wednesday's fatal shooting, local officials said. At least one of the two suspects is also a Chinese diplomat. Consul general Song Ronghua, who was shot in the neck, remained in stable condition yesterday. The two diplomats killed in the attack were the consulate's No 2, Sun Shan, and finance officer Li Hui. An investigator told the South China Morning Post that another, unidentified consular officer was hit by a ricocheting bullet and wounded slightly near the spine. She went to hospital but was released after receiving a tetanus shot. Guo Jing, a visa section consul, and her husband, Li Qingliang, were taken into custody. A senior government official in Manila said the Chinese government had invoked diplomatic immunity. The official, who asked not to be named, said full diplomatic immunity meant "they are immune from arrest, prosecution and detention, under the Vienna Convention". China and the Philippines had also agreed in 2009 to a deal that "broadened the Vienna Convention and granted full immunity even to consular officials of both countries", the source said. The shooting happened soon after nine people from the consulate in Cebu finished lunch in the main dining room celebrating the birthday of new consul general Song on Wednesday, according to an investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the person wasn't authorised to speak publicly on the matter. None of the survivors had agreed to be questioned by the police and the two bodies had not been sent for autopsy because no consent had been given by close kin, the source said. There was no CCTV inside the main dining area, the investigator stressed. Surveillance outside the main dining room recorded a woman running, being shot from behind and falling face down on the floor. Only a portion of a hand holding the gun is visible in the footage. The investigator said a frame-by-frame analysis showed the triggerman was male. The police believe Li was the gunman. Philippines foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement that "the shooting was an extreme act of a relative of a staff of the consulate general". At a regular press briefing in Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying confirmed that two Chinese diplomats had been killed and another injured in a shooting in Cebu. "We are deeply saddened about the incident … and we are still investigating the reasons and situation behind it," Hua said. Professor Niu Zhongjun, of the China Foreign Affairs University, said diplomats formally dispatched by the foreign ministry would be entitled to immunity, regardless of their official position. "The immunity is a form of respect from the receiving country," Niu said. In July, 1982, Tang Jiansheng, a translator at the Chinese embassy in Maputo, Mozambique, killed nine staff with a gun within the embassy compound. He was deported to China and executed. ^ top ^

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe awarded 'China's answer to the Nobel Peace Prize' (SCMP)
2015-10-23
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been awarded “China's alternative” to the Nobel Peace Prize for what the prize committee called his inspired national leadership and service to pan-Africanism. The 91-year-old Mugabe is the latest in a series of critics of the West who have received the Confucius Peace Prize, first awarded in 2010 amid Beijing's anger and resentment over the granting of the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. The award was publicly announced on September 28 and reported by Chinese edition of the Global Times the next day. But the story attracted renewed attention by foreign media and went viral after a story published on Quartz.com Wednesday. Mugabe has “overcome difficulties of all kinds and has strongly committed himself to constructing his nation's political and economic order, while strongly supporting pan-Africanism and African independence,” the committee said in announcing the award. Prior recipients of the prize, granted by a non-governmental committee composed mainly of scholars, include former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Russian President Vladimir Putin. None has come to claim the prize in person. The award was hastily launched by a group of mainland academics with some official backing in 2010. It came after a decision by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize to dissident Chinese writer Liu. But in 2011, the prize hit a snag last year after the Ministry of Culture ordered the former organiser, a cultural NGO affiliated with the ministry, to disband over concerns it was poorly organised. The group later reorganised by registering in Hong Kong instead, which has separate jurisdiction from the mainland. Mugabe, Africa's oldest head of state, is a resilient leader who fought in a guerrilla war, has denounced the West, crushed or co-opted dissent at home and has been in power for 35 years with no clear successor. His selection as head for one year of the 54-member African Union struck some as a poor precedent on a continent where democratic change has struggled for a foothold in many regions. Mugabe is also the rotating chief of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community. Mugabe received only 36 of 76 votes, but was awarded the prize following a meeting of the committee's 13-member review board. Other candidates included Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and South Korean President Park Geun-hye. ^ top ^

Britain backs China's bid for free-trade pact with the European Union (SCMP)
2015-10-23
Britain yesterday threw its weight behind China's effort to reach a free-trade pact with the European Union, as the two countries issued a joint statement during President Xi Jinping's state visit. The two countries called for the launch of a feasibility study for an "ambitious and comprehensive" agreement, marking the latest step by Beijing to counter the impact of a US-led trans-Pacific trade and investment deal. They also called for a study on connecting the stock markets in Shanghai and London, after Britain won China's support for developing the British capital as an offshore yuan market. Britain is also supporting the yuan's inclusion in the "supranational" reserve currency of the International Monetary Fund, provided Beijing meets certain criteria in an upcoming review. The joint statement was in addition to a slew of inked deals aimed at launching a "golden era" between the two nations. Earlier this month, the United States and 11 other countries reached an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which has prompted China to more aggressively seek trade deals to offset its impact. Sun Yongfu, former head of the European Affairs Department at the Ministry of Commerce, said Britain and other EU countries strongly intended to cooperate economically with China. "Cooperation in economy and technology with the EU, as well as under the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative will reduce the pressure of the TPP on China," Sun told the Post. The two sides also agreed to explore infrastructure projects, connecting Britain's plans to revitalise the economy in its north and upgrade infrastructure investment with China's "One Belt" initiative. Such a tie-up would also be in line with Beijing's vision to create opportunities for its own infrastructure development sector by "going overseas". Xi is leading a formal delegation of more than 150 business executives on his first state visit to Britain. Deals covering 150 projects, worth £40 billion (HK$478.6 billion), have been signed, and include nuclear power generation, retail sales, technology, aerospace,arts and culture, and cars and real estate. Chinese investors have diversified in overseas markets, moving away from their traditional reliance on energy and resources. Their recent acquisitions in Britain have focused on property, car manufacturing, transportation and technology, according to Dealogic. China National Travel Service (HK) Group, Ping An Insurance, Taikang Life Insurance, as well as Wanfeng Auto Holding Group and CSR Group have made significant deals this year. Commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said Britain was China's second largest trading partner - and the No 2 investment destination - in the European Union. Inflows of direct investment to Britain from China reached US$12.8 billion at the end of last year, up from US$1.35 billion at the end of 2010. However, the figure remained a small share of China's total outbound direct investment, which rose 14.2 per cent to US$123.1 billion in 2014, very close to the US$128.5 billion foreign investors poured into the country. Official data showed China's outbound direct investment rose 16.5 per cent on a yearly basis to US$87.3 billion in the first three quarters this year, involving 5,162 foreign firms in 150 countries and regions. "We do need each other. China is facing diminishing advantages in many sectors and it will be a trend for them to seek overseas markets. It is not only limited to Britain," said Niu Li, an economist with the State Information Centre. ^ top ^

Nuclear deal takes China's relationship with Britain to a 'new level', say leaders (SCMP)
2015-10-22
After a day of pomp, President Xi Jinping and his British host sealed a multibillion-dollar deal to finance a British nuclear plant. Xi met Prime Minister David Cameron for a summit at noon yesterday at 10 Downing Street, where the two discussed bilateral issues – including the loss of British steel jobs to cheap Chinese exports and human rights – “openly and constructively”, Cameron told reporters afterwards. Cameron said he wanted to make Britain the “partner of choice for China in the West” and that he hoped to take ties to "a new level". “I totally reject the idea that you either have conservation of human rights and steel or you have a strong relationship with China. I want both and we are delivering both,” said Cameron, adding that the nuclear power plant project would use British steel. Xi said in response he wanted to build a global strategic partnership with London. […] Speaking later at a UK-China business summit, Cameron said Britain and China had signed deals “totalling almost 40 billion pounds [US$61 billion]”. Xi assured businessmen that China “would not close the door it has opened” to foreign investments and that there would be no hard landing for the world's second largest economy. The two witnessed the signing of a £6 billion (HK$71 billion) investment into two Chinese-designed nuclear reactors at the Hinkley Point power plant in Somerset. France's state utility company EDF, the owner of the project, announced earlier on the same day that it had reached an agreement with the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corporation, which would hold more than a third of the stake. Cameron described the Hinkley Point agreement as a “historic deal” that would power 6 million homes and create over 25,000 jobs. The project was once supposed to be in service by the end of 2017 but has encountered multiple delays and setbacks. Other deals included a £325 million package of creative and technological partnerships covering the film, television and automobile industries. Earlier, Xi had accompanied Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton to view examples of British-Chinese collaboration and innovation, including low-emission versions of a London black cab, a red London bus and James Bond's favoured Aston Martin car – all of which are due to be developed through deals between the two countries. Xi was expected to visit Huawei Technologies before going to a banquet hosted by the lord mayor and City of London. But China's first major investment in a Western nuclear facility may yet be overshadowed. On Tuesday, EDF announced a three-year delay – to 2020 – to the launch deadline for its next-generation EPR reactor – the model planned for Hinkley Point. That meant Hinkley's scheduled 2025 start-up was “now impossible”, said Steve Thomas, a professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich.“The EPR design is too costly, too financially risky and is unproven,” Thomas said. The first two reactors of this kind began construction in Finland in 2006 and France two years later. Both are yet to go online, beset by cost overruns and technical difficulties. But China is willing to take the risk at Hinkley Point to establish itself as a global supplier of nuclear technologies, said Thomas. “The UK is the only market open to it and participating in Hinkley … If China is to be successful in whatever market there is, it does need a prestigious high profile sale like the UK,” he said, adding that Beijing was also eyeing a China-owned and China-designed nuclear plant in Bradwell after the Hinkley investments. ^ top ^

Australia set to ratify free-trade agreement with China by end of year (SCMP)
2015-10-22
A free-trade agreement between China and Australia will be in place before the end of the year after the Australian opposition dropped its objections to the plan following lengthy negotiations. The deal will now be approved by the Australian Parliament with the support of the centre-left Labor Party, whose misgivings had held up its passage through the legislature. But a Hong Kong-based economics expert said the pact may not have much effect on either economy, adding that China was trying to strike many deals in the region to counter the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was a "great day for Australia", adding the deal was critical for Australian jobs. "We will benefit from China in a way that even the architect of the deal [trade minister Andrew Robb] couldn't have imagined," he said on Facebook. "This is going to be a very big step for Australia." Up to 93 per cent of Australian exports to China will eventually be tariff free under the agreement, while up to 5,000 additional visas a year will be issued for Chinese workers and tourists. The Australian Stock Exchange surged on the news, closing 12.7 points higher, or 0.2 per cent, after being down for the majority of the day. But Professor Li Kui-wai, of City University's department of economics and finance, said the deal might have little effect and was mainly "cash diplomacy". "It's more or less a diplomatic experience just to please both sides and the content, there will be some essence, but it will be pretty superficial," he said. Li said China was working on a large number of free-trade deals in response to the TPP. This is going to be a very big step for Australia PM Malcolm Turnbull "It's more of a diplomatic show," he said. The news of the Australian deal came just four months after the Chinese government signed an agreement with South Korea, following three years of negotiations. The deal between China and Australia was originally struck in November 2014 but had been held up by opposition parties over concerns around its effect on local jobs. John Brumby, the national president of the Australia China Business Council, enthusiastically welcomed the announcement yesterday, saying it would be good for the country. "[The agreement] is overwhelmingly positive for Australia, delivering a platform to take our economic relationship to a new level and providing our businesses with immense competitive advantage in the large and rapidly growing China market," he said. ^ top ^

Chinese hackers tried to breach security at seven US firms since Xi and Obama signed cyber deal, security company says (SCMP)
2015-10-20
Hackers associated with the Chinese government have tried to penetrate at least seven US companies in the three weeks since Washington and Beijing agreed not to spy on each other for commercial reasons, according to a prominent American security firm. CrowdStrike said software it placed at five US technology and two pharmaceutical companies had detected and rebuffed the attacks, which began on September 26. The day before, US President Barack Obama said he and President Xi Jinping had agreed that neither government would knowingly support cybertheft of corporate secrets to support domestic businesses. The agreement stopped short of restricting spying to obtain government secrets, including those held by private contractors. CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch said he believed the hackers who attacked the companies were affiliated with the Chinese government based in part on the servers and software they used. The software included a program known as Derusbi, according to Alperovitch. Other analysts have said Derusbi has turned up in attacks on Virginia defence contractor VAE and health insurer Anthem. Alperovitch said the hackers came from a variety of groups including one CrowdStrike had previously named Deep Panda. The "primary benefits of the intrusion seem clearly aligned to facilitate theft of intellectual property and trade secrets, rather than to conduct traditional, national-security-related intelligence collection," the company said. CrowdStrike, which employs former cyber experts with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency, did not name the corporate victims, citing client confidentiality. It said it detected and thwarted the attacks before any corporate secrets were stolen. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying repeated the government opposed all forms of hacking or stealing commercial secrets. "Internet hacking attacks are marked by their secretive, cross-border nature," she told a daily briefing. CrowdStrike said it had notified the White House of its findings but declined to identify the targeted companies. A senior Obama administration official said the government was aware of the findings but declined to address the company's conclusions. "As we move forward, we will monitor China's cyber activities closely and press China to abide by all of its commitments," said the official who did not want to be named. Another US cybersecurity company, FireEye, said state-sponsored hackers it monitored were still active but it was too soon to say whether their aims had shifted. It was too early to conclude if the activity constituted economic espionage, a FireEye spokesman said. ^ top ^

150 biz leaders accompany Xi on his UK visit (Global Times)
2015-10-20
Chinese President Xi Jinping left Beijing on Monday to kick off his first state visit to the UK with an accompanying delegation of some 150 business leaders. The visit, scheduled from Monday to Friday, is the first state visit to the UK by a Chinese president in 10 years. Expectations are running high of deals in a number of sectors, which can in turn boost bilateral ties, said analysts. Organized by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, the delegation, which covers industries in finance, infrastructure, energy and investment, stands in contrast to the delegation that accompanied Xi during his visit to the US, which featured Internet companies, news portal yicai.com reported, citing London-based anonymous sources. Separately, Downing Street said on Monday that Alibaba founder Jack Ma Yun has been appointed by British Prime Minister David Cameron as a business adviser. Cameron's spokesman said Ma will "provide particular help and advice on how to get small and medium sized British businesses boosting their exports and in particular accessing Chinese markets through platforms like Alibaba." Of the business leaders, He Yu, general manager of China General Nuclear Power Group, and Yu Peigen, deputy general manager of China National Nuclear Corporation, have garnered the most attention as it is highly anticipated that China will announce a deal for a nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset during Xi's visit, the yicai.com report said. Other infrastructure and communications companies in the delegation include China Three Gorges Corporation and Sany Group. However, Chinese high-speed train manufacturer China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) was absent from the delegation, amid media speculation over the announcement of China's investment in the planned HS2 high-speed rail line from London to Manchester. "As the UK struggles to reverse declining economic competitiveness, China's investment in its infrastructure will spur the nation's productivity growth," Qu Bing, a scholar at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times. Chen Feng, chairman of the HNA Group, was also on the list, with the report from yicai.com saying that the group is planning on purchasing most of the stock rights of Manchester Airport. HNA Group refused to comment when reached by the Global Times on Monday, but an anonymous source with Hainan Airlines, which operates under parent company HNA, told the Global Times that the company will unveil new flight routes from China to the UK during Xi's visit. The delegation also includes leaders in the banking industry, with the chairmen of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China and the Construction Bank of China attending, while yicai.com reported that the Construction Bank of China would open a branch in London on Monday. Meanwhile, a Sino-British innovative technology fund with an initial capital of 6 million pounds ($9.29 million) is expected to be set up by founder chairman of ChinaEquity Group, Wang Chaoyong, who will be traveling with Xi along with other heads of investment corporations. Also in the delegation are Geely Group's Chairman Li Shufu and the founder of Chinese battery and electric car maker BYD, Wang Chuanfu, in addition to six company heads from the China Poly Group Corporation, which is involved in the culture, real estate, security and energy sectors. A strategic alliance between BP and China National Petroleum Corporation to develop oil resources is also reportedly possible during the visit, the BBC reported. […] ^ top ^

Harry Potter and the new-age stealth submarines: Chinese researchers create 'cloak of invisibility' (SCMP)
2015-10-19
Two teams of scientists have created new materials to hide submarines from their enemies' underwater sonar systems - one that transforms the vessel into a "chameleon", and the other a prototype of a Harry Potter-like invisibility cloak. The chameleon-like ceramic-type material, created by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, manipulates sound waves that come into contact with it, such as pulses generated by anti-submarine vessels that can identify underwater threats. This ability means sonar operators analysing the submarine's acoustic pattern can be fooled into thinking it is a whale, a huge shoal of fish, or even a friendly submarine. Researchers call such materials "phononic" crystals. In recent years, various forms of phononic crystals have been developed to control, direct and manipulate the transmission of sound in gases, liquids and solids, but they all suffered one limitation. Once created, their physical properties were fixed forever, giving the enemy tracking it the opportunity to trace its acoustic traits. But the Chinese team, led by Professor Zheng Hairong, solved the problem by making it possible to control the crystal's ability to change its acoustic pattern in a way similar to a chameleon changing its colour. In the journal, Physical Review Applied, Zheng's team demonstrated that the new material could change its acoustic properties in different temperatures. Raising the temperature by 20degrees Celsius, for instance, could cause a 20 per cent shift in its sound frequency pattern. Research on phononic crystals has been carried out in many countries because of their potential applications in military and civilian sectors. Earlier this year, researchers in Singapore reported that it was theoretically possible to hide a submarine from sonar detection by coating it with phononic crystals. But a second team of Chinese scientists could be a step ahead thanks to the huge government funding for technologies with military uses. Wu Jiuhui, professor of mechanical engineering at Xian Jiaotong University, said his team had developed the prototype for an "invisibility cloak" for submarines. Its coating material could render a smartphone-sized object undetectable to sonar, even at low frequency. To remain undetected, a submarine not only has to dodge the enemy's active sonar beams, but also prevent its own low-frequency generated sounds, such as its engine or crew members' voices, from reaching an enemy's listening devices. "No submarine nowadays can escape low-frequency detection. [But] our research will change the game of seek-and-hunt in the oceans," Wu said. "The military wants the simplest solution because it will be the most reliable … They may prefer straightforward invisibility, rather than camouflage." ^ top ^

US to soon begin patrols around disputed areas in South China Sea, sources say (SCMP)
2015-10-18
The United States has told nations in Southeast Asia it will send naval vessels soon into what China claims as its territory in the disputed South China Sea, diplomatic sources said on Sunday. The United States was expected to sail warships within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands that China had created in the Spratly Islands in defiance of opposition from other claimants, such as the Philippines and Vietnam, the sources said. The 12-nautical-mile zone delimits territorial seas under a UN convention. Although senior US government officials have hinted at the envisaged naval patrols, conveying the plan to the countries involved through diplomatic channels underscores US President Barack Obama's strong opposition to the Chinese territorial claims. The move is likely to escalate tensions between the two countries. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press conference last week: “We firmly oppose any country using the freedom of navigation and over-flight as an excuse to undermine other countries' sovereignty and security.” The US government earlier this month conveyed its plan for securing the “freedom of navigation” to nations around the disputed waters and sought their understanding of the plan to be carried out soon, without elaborating when, the sources said. Washington has not patrolled within the 12-nautical-mile zones around the Chinese-controlled reefs since 2012, according to a high-ranking US Defence Department official. Although the Obama administration has avoided sending military ships for fear of a possible backlash from Beijing, it decided to do so amid China's continued landfill work and building of facilities in the region. Obama and President Xi Jinping remained apart over the matter during their summit at the White House last month. ^ top ^

'Chinese cyberspies' hack international court's website to fish for enemies in South China Sea dispute (SCMP)
2015-10-16
In the middle of a weeklong hearing on a South China Sea territorial dispute, the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague went offline – reportedly infected with malware by someone in China. The incident happened in July as the Philippines challenged China's claim to more than 80 per cent of the South China Sea – an assertion that Manila said encroached on its exclusive economic zone. Based on an analysis of the software and infrastructure used, the site was infected with malware by someone in China, according to ThreatConnect, a US security company. China did not take part in the Hague hearing. Alongside the increased presence of coastguard and military ships and planes, cyberespionage is emerging as a new front in the wrangling over the South China Sea – an artery for global trade that straddles the Indian and Pacific oceans. Over the past 18 months China has rapidly built on reefs in the area, challenging smaller claimants such as Vietnam and the Philippines. China regularly uses its coastguard and even fishing vessels to warn away the boats of other countries. The disputes have pulled in the US, which patrols the waters in the name of navigational freedom; most recently it has reportedly been considering sailing warships into the 12-nautical-mile exclusion zone around the islands that China is building. “Whenever you see island-dispute issues flare up you also see cyberactivities spike as well,” said Tobias Feakin, director of the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra. “If it is being used in coordination with the prodding that the Chinese do in a physical way, it surely shows you see a strategic advantage in the use of that power.” The smaller economies of Southeast Asia are vulnerable to hacking, given the lack of spending on cyberdefence by some countries that rely on remittances from thousands of their citizens working overseas to propel growth, and a reluctance to report breaches of government security. The one protection may be how dated or incomplete networks are, with a reliance on paper files in some far-flung areas. Southeast Asian governments and companies are 45 per cent more likely to be targeted than the average for the rest of the world, security provider FireEye said in a recent report. While President Xi Jinping agreed last month with President Barack Obama to broad principles to stop the theft of corporate secrets, the yet-to-be-developed rules will cover only the US and China and will not be extended to traditional intelligence collection. […] In The Hague, the Philippines was seeking to enlist international law to deter China's expansion in the South China Sea. Hackers embedded the court of arbitration's webpage on the case with code that infected the computers of visitors to the page, according to ThreatConnect. That left diplomats, lawyers and journalists interested in the case at risk of information theft, plus their wider organisations. […] The website had been unavailable for a short period in July owing to technical problems, Gaelle Chevalier, a case manager at the court of arbitration, adding “We have no information about the cause of the problems.” The Philippine President Benigno Aquino's deputy spokesperson, Abigail Valte, who was at The Hague, said she heard about the attack. “We were surprised,” Valte said. There are other signs of cyberattacks on countries at times of tension with China. When China dragged an exploration oil rig into contested waters last year, it led to deadly anti-China protests in Vietnam and clashes at sea between coastguard boats. There was also an increase in cyberattacks on Vietnamese government targets, CrowdStrike said. Neither China's foreign ministry nor the defence ministry responded to questions about alleged Chinese involvement in the breach of the court of arbitration or Vietnamese government websites. Officials regularly claim China is a victim of cybersecurity breaches and have repeatedly denied being the source of hacking of the US and other countries. The foreign ministry has also argued that its island-building programme in the South China Sea is legitimate because the reefs are its sovereign territory, and that the construction is for peaceful purposes. Vietnam has seen a rise in cyberattacks on government sites with more than 3,000 attacks that have defaced the sites and more than 5,000 malware attacks in the first half of the year, said its information security authority. Hackers were found to have used internet protocol addresses based in countries including China, the US and Russia, the Vietnamese authority said. […] ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China's registration permit overhaul to give migrant workers welfare and education access (SCMP)
2015-10-23
China has passed an ordinance on its nationwide registration permit system to give hundreds of millions of its migrant workers living in cities far from their birthplaces access to welfare services such as compulsory education. The existing system of houshold registration has long been blamed for social instability; even those workers who have lived in adopted cities for many years are not entitled to the same benefits as locals because they do not have a household registration for their new places of residence. Academics said the new system would improve migrant workers' right to basic welfare, including access to schooling, but more would have to be done before those with rural household registrations had the same privileges as their urban counterparts, or those leaving small towns and cities shared the benefits of permanent big-city residents. The official ordinance has yet to be announced, but a draft, sent out for pubic consultation last year, promised residence permit holders who had moved to cities away from their birthplaces for at least six months would be eligible for nine basic public services, such as education and some social benefits. The ordinance is part of the Beijing efforts to reform the household registration system known as the hukou, which it had hoped to complete by 2020. Critics say the existing system has blocked the free flow of talent and urbanisation as many social benefits, such as the entitlement to compulsory education and public social insurance, were tied to the household registration. The residence permit system will allow migrants to become permanent residents if they meet certain requirements, such as staying in adopted cities for a long enough period, or making social insurance payments over a period of years and having a stable job and place of residence. "Extra-large" cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai with populations of many millions, have the strictest requirements. "This is a just a design for the central government; it is up to local governments to come up with their own design to implement the residence permit system," said Lu Jiehua, professor of sociology at Peking University. Lu said the residence permit system was aimed at meeting the demands of more than 250 million migrant workers and eventually give them the same privileges as permanent residents. The draft sets basic principles for all types of cities, but big cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou - with better social resources such as schools, hospitals and social benefits - will make it harder for immigrants to share equal entitlements. "The Ministry of Public Security had hoped that it would be able to set up a new household registration system by 2020, but it now looks very unlikely that the reform will be completed by then," Lu said. ^ top ^

Sins of the father: how China targets children of lawyers and activists as crackdown widens (SCMP)
2015-10-23
Wang Yu had her eyes shut and was panting nervously. The normally spirited lawyer, who has been held incommunicado in police custody for three months, was visibly distressed in footage shown on a state television newscast last Saturday. In a separate shot, her husband Bao Longjun, also detained since July, broke down in tears, clasping his hands over his head. A narrator said Wang fainted while Bao broke down after hearing that their son had been caught after he entered Myanmar earlier this month while trying to flee abroad with the help of two men. However, what the state broadcaster failed to mention was that earlier 16-year-old Bao Zhuoxuan had had his passport confiscated after he and his father were about to board an aircraft to go to Australia, where he was to start school in early July. His mother, a rights lawyer seen as a thorn in the side of the authorities, was taken away hours after she saw them off at the airport. After they were barred from leaving the country, Bao Zhuoxuan was separated from his father and roughly handled by security agents. He was held for two days before he was sent to stay with his grandparents. Later, the police said he could not go abroad and was forbidden from communicating with his parents' friends, lawyers and the media. He has since been living under round-the-clock surveillance. His parents were the first of more than 290 people to be taken away in a sweeping crackdown on rights lawyers and activists since July. They have been placed in “residential surveillance” – a form of solitary detention that can last up to six months – on a charge of “incitement of subversion of state power” and denied visits from lawyers or family. While the crackdown was seen as an effort by the authorities to punish those involved in the rights defence movement, it was not limited to the lawyers and activists themselves. The retaliation has also been extended to their loved ones. Liu Xiaoyuan a partner at the Fengrui law firm that is at the centre of the crackdown, said Bao Zhuoxuan was one of at least three children of the lawyers at his firm who had been barred from going abroad. Several lawyers at Fengrui, including Wang, have been singled out by the state media as belonging to “a criminal gang” for their legal activism. Liu's own 21-year-old son, a university undergraduate, applied for a passport earlier this month in preparation for studying abroad next year, but police told him he would not get one, Liu said. He said the son of another Fengrui lawyer, Yu Hejin, also a university student, was stopped at the airport when travelling to Britain on an exchange visit in August. The 15-year-old son and five-year-old daughter of another lawyer, Li Heping – taken away during the crackdown and still unaccounted for – have also been denied passports, said Wang Qiaoling, Li's wife. She was also detained at a Beijing police station for five hours in early August after her essays were carried by overseas websites. The Chinese authorities have long resorted to collective punishment of the family members of those people regarded by the state as “troublemakers”, but lawyers and family members said the authorities now seemed to be employing the practice more readily, and that the retaliation made a mockery of the party's pledge to “rule the country with law”. “My son is being stripped of his legal rights just because of me,” Liu said. “This is like going back to the Cultural Revolution.” Liu said police had previously been to his wife's office to investigate his family. Wang Qiaoling said she and her children were now living in constant fear. The children were traumatised after they watched police take their father away and raided their home. “I fear every knock on the door… I fear that they will take me away again,” she said. […] Professor Jerome Cohen, a China law expert at New York University, said the Communist Party was still using collective punishment to force prisoners to “confess” to alleged crimes, even though the practice was abolished more than a century ago in the late Qing dynasty (1644-1911). “The authorities evidently think it is an effective tool, since it can transform even the most courageous dissident into the Communist Party's compliant victim,” he said. When veteran journalist Gao Yu was detained on the charge of leaking state secrets abroad last year, the authorities took away her son at the same time. Later, she confessed on state television that she “endangered national interests”. She later reneged, saying that the confession was coerced. She was sentenced to seven years in jail this year. Other cases of collective punishment abound. Liu Xia, the wife of Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, has been under house arrest since he won the award in 2010. Geng Ge, the daughter of rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, was followed to school by security agents and the family was under constant surveillance before the family fled to the US. Zhou Fengsuo, a former Tiananmen pro-democracy movement student leader who planned to take Bao Zhuoxuan to the US embassy in Thailand, said he and others were trying to rescue him from suffocating surveillance in China. He said they had little choice but to smuggle him out of the country as his passport had been confiscated. […] ^ top ^

China begins large water diversion project (China Daily)
2015-10-23
A large water diversion project broke ground on Thursday in Central China's Hubei province, which will benefit nearly 5 million people after completion. The 270-km pipeline, will divert 1.4 billion cubic meters of water each year from Danjiangkou Reservoir to the cities of Xiangyang, Suizhou and Xiaogan in North Hubei. With investment of nearly 18 billion yuan (2.8 billion US dollars), the largest water distribution project in Hubei will take three years and nine months to complete. After completion, it will benefit 4.82 million people and irrigate 310,000 hectares of land as well as industries along the route, said Wang Zhongfa, head of the Hubei Provincial Water Resources Department. A reliable water supply will guarantee urban water supply, ensure grain production, improve the regional environment and with poverty relief efforts, said Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei. Danjiangkou Reservoir is also the source of the middle route of the huge south-to-north water diversion project. The middle route takes water to northern provinces or cities including Beijing and Tianjin. ^ top ^

China's Communist Party tightens grip on dissenting voices, gluttony, improper sexual relations - and golf (SCMP)
2015-10-22
Inappropriate comments about the Communist Party's key policies, vilifying party leaders, and distorting party history could all lead to a member's expulsion from the party, according to Beijing's latest discipline rules. Amendments to the rules - the first since 2003, which were passed at a Politburo meeting in October and issued on Monday - include changes involving political discipline that observers believe are aimed at tightening the party's grip over members. The changes have sparked fears the party is further chipping away at varied opinions. The amendments, effective from next year, ban "inappropriate assessment of major party policy that harms party unity", "vilifying the party and its leaders" and "distorting the history of the party or the military". Golf and gluttony are listed as violations for the first time, too, along with "improper sexual relations". Before, the rules banned only "keeping paramours and committing adultery". "These changes will strengthen in-party governance, and make political discipline more binding," said Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of the Clean Government Centre at Peking University. "They will also better preserve the party's image and authority, and its leaders." The party's anti-graft watchdog, the Central Committee for Discipline Inspection, is paying increasing attention to political discipline - including speeches and the political stance of cadres - in a campaign that had focused mostly on economic corruption. Last week the watchdog issued a statement accusing Zhou Benshun, former party boss of Hebei province, of violating party discipline by "making statements against the party line on major issues". He was sacked from the party over the allegations, and is also suspected of corruption. Yet definitions remain vague. "Carrying out political discipline can mean many things, so it is hard to define [violations]," Zhuang said. Despite the party's rigid propaganda line, some members - mostly scholars, senior executives or retired officials - have still been able to express differing views in occasional opinion pieces they have published or in speeches given at meetings. However, the new rules have sparked fears that even such practices may now be at risk. "[This] means that differing opinions are not allowed in the party," Beijing political commentator Zhang Lifan said. "Party members are about to be deprived of their democratic rights. It's not just the liberals who are no longer allowed to talk, but also Maoists." But the lack of differing views could harm the party. "A top-down Leninist party, with a single voice, may help overthrow an old regime," said Hu Xingdou, a party member and economics expert at Beijing University of Technology. "But facing a market economy and a diverse society, the ruling party needs to respect free minds and individual personality more." The new rules also explicitly ban cadres from forming groups within the party or "in-party clans". Previous rules only banned splitting the party by forming secret groups. ^ top ^

China Focus: New rules separates CPC discipline from law (Xinhua)
2015-10-22
The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has published new rules on clean governance and sanctions for those who violate the Party code of conduct, as the CPC improves the management of its 88 million members. The two new regulations, adopted at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Oct. 12, updated existing rules deemed incompatible with the Party following the launch of its anti-corruption drive. Xie Chuntao, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said some members were not familiar with the Party's rules and code of conduct, resulting in a tenuous relationship with the organization, which is a threat to the very fabric of the CPC. President Xi Jinping once said that power should be restricted by a cage of regulations. He has repeatedly called for revisions to these regulations. The new rules on clean governance, for the first time, are applicable to all CPC members. In stark contrast, the previous rules, which were released in 2010, included 53 articles on behavior that is forbidden, while the new 8-article regulation mainly concerns itself with a moral ethical code that members must abide by. Gao Bo, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, noted that the new rules required officials not only to be honest in politics but also to concentrate on cultivating their own character and running a harmonious family. Party members must separate public and private interests, put the public's interest first, and work selflessly, stated one article. Another required members to champion simplicity and guard against extravagance. The new rules on punishments have been dubbed by many to be the most comprehensive and strictest since the opening up and reform drive began. Ma Huaide, vice president of China University of Political Science and Law, said the biggest problems with the current disciplinary regulations, released in 2013, was that there was no clear boundary between Party discipline and laws. Ma added that nearly half of the disciplinary regulation was identical to the Criminal Law. For instance, the new regulation has deleted articles related to corruption, bribery and dereliction of duty, all of which overlap with the Criminal Law. A statement released after the Oct. 12 meeting said that the revisions uphold the principle that Party discipline is stricter than the law and discipline should be put before the law. The new discipline regulation explicitly lists extravagant eating and drinking and playing golf as violations, which were not included previously. The new regulation also includes content about the forming of inter-Party cliques, defying principles, hiding personal issues that should be reported to the Party, seeking profits for family members and staff with their political powers, among others. The new version of the disciplinary regulation deleted a previous clause about keeping paramours and conducting adultery. This was replaced by a clause saying that "having improper sexual relationship with others," making the regulation stricter. "Some improper sexual relationship may only involve moral rather than legal issues. The previous version left loopholes," said Xie. If the new regulation can be enforced well, it will have a preventative affect, said Xie. The CPC has issued a circular urging government and party organs at all levels to follow the rules and regulations. ^ top ^

Reform-minded Chinese financial official promoted to securities regulator: sources (SCMP)
2015-10-21
The key man behind Shanghai's efforts to transform itself into a global financial centre, has been promoted to the role of vice-chairman of China's securities regulator, two sources with knowledge of the matter said. Observers said the appointment of Fang Xinghai was likely to help the government to further reform the mainland's capital markets. Fang, known as a reformed-minded financial official who also has a PhD in economics from Stanford University, will replace Liu Xinhua at the China Securities Regulatory Commission, the sources said. Liu has exceeded the official retirement age. A source close to the securities regulator said the appointment of Fang, a technocrat with a good understanding of Western financial markets, reflected Beijing's attempt to drastically reform China's domestic securities sector following a recent stock market rout that sparked fears of a financial crisis in the world's second-largest economy. The securities regulator declined to comment on the appointment. Fang was previously a bureau director at the Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, a high-level organisation that advises Communist Party bosses on financial and economic policy. Fang is the second newly-appointed vice chairman of the regulator in recent weeks. Li Chao, formerly vice head of the country's foreign-exchange regulator, was named last month to fill a vacancy left by the retired Zhuang Xinyi. The appointment of Fang as a senior securities regulator is widely believed to have a far-reaching significance because of his reformist outlook and close relationship with China's top leaders. He was the director of the Shanghai Financial Service Office between 2007 and 2013 in charge of drawing up and implementing plans to develop the city into an international financial centre. He and President Xi Jinping briefly worked together in Shanghai when the president was the city's Communist Party chief in 2007. Sources said Fang wrote a letter to the president in early 2013 to express his keen interest in serving the country's financial industry development before he was transferred to the leading group for financial and economic affairs in Beijing. “In the near term, stability will be given top priority,” the source said. “But the new officials are set to bring some big changes in long-term policymaking.” Fang has also worked at the World Bank, China Construction Bank and the Shanghai Stock Exchange. When he was the financial service office director in Shanghai, Fang strongly advocated further liberalising cross-border capital flows through the local and overseas stock exchanges. He was the key official to support the creation of an international board at the Shanghai bourse where foreign corporate giants could raise yuan funds before their shares were traded. The board has yet to be established. Fang is also known to have a close relationship with Zhou Xiaochuan, China's central bank governor. It was Zhou, the then head of China Construction Bank, who invited Fang to return to China in 1998 after he worked for several organisations including the World Bank. ^ top ^

China's wetlands hurt by economic growth: report (China Daily)
2015-10-21
China's rapid economic development is destroying the country's coastal wetlands, according to a report, and environmental experts blamed a lack of public understanding about what wetlands do for the failure to protect them. But the report released by the Paulson Institute on Monday in Beijing also faulted local governments. "Sea reclamation is deemed as the quickest and cheapest way to increase land supply in China's eastern coastal areas," according to the report, and "huge economic returns from reclamation have prompted local governments to 'bypass' regulations issued by the central government." The report was done in partnership with China's State Forestry Administration and the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and was the culmination of 18 months of research conducted by Chinese experts. It said that with a coastline 18,000 km (11,184 miles) long, China is "very vulnerable" to the detrimental effects of climate change and pursuit of economic growth. As a result of rapid urbanization and economic development, wetlands have been reduced by 40,000 hectares a year between 2006 and 2010, an increase of 50 percent between 1950 and 2000, the report said. "The squeaky wheel gets the oil. People care about their health and if people can see the air pollution or people are getting sick because of water pollution, they're going to complain and the government has to respond," said Nancy Karraker, assistant professor of wetland ecology at the University of Rhode Island. "The public by and large doesn't really understand all of the services that coastal wetlands provide." Karraker, who was a professor at the University of Hong Kong, said coastal lands are much more valuable from a residential and business standpoint than any other lands in a country, and thus they have been developed far more rapidly. James Fraser, professor at the department of fish and wildlife conservation at Virginia Tech, echoed similar sentiments, saying that there are competing efforts when it comes to a government's focus on environmental policy. "When you think about it, the shoreline's just a skinny sliver of land - a very tiny, tiny fraction of what we have in our overall land base - and yet there's all kinds of special uses - marine terminals and fishing - so it does make conservation of those areas difficult," he said. The Paulson report said "the strategic value of coastal wastelands in China has yet to be fully recognized by some sectors, and the coastal wetland conservation efforts in China are generally at a low level." About one-fifth of wetland areas have been protected, compared to the overall wetland protection rate nationwide at 43.51 percent, which lags behind that of the US and Europe's, according to the report. "Moreover, much of this protected area falls within 'experimental zones' where the level of protection afforded remains weak," the report said. It recommended that there be more wetland legislation at the national level, and that there be better enforcement so that the appropriate parties are held accountable. Authors of the report called for a comprehensive law enforcement system to be established for the major protected areas, which include wetlands of national importance. The researchers said there were 180 priority conservation areas on the eastern coast. A civilization performance appraisal and accountability system should be established as well, which include compensation for conservation efforts. Here, the authors of the report suggested China adapt projects that were piloted in the US, such as a mitigation bank, which is a wetland that is restored, enhanced, or established to provide compensation for unavoidable impacts made on aquatic resources. ^ top ^

Chinese President Xi Jinping's call for 'socialist arts' sparks fears over creative freedom (SCMP)
2015-10-21
The Communist Party has issued new policy directives to "strengthen and improve the Communist Party's leadership of artistic practices" - raising fears about restrictions on creativity and doubts about Beijing's effectiveness in getting across its ideological message to the public. Monday's move came a year after a landmark speech by President Xi Jinping in which he told authors, actors and artists, including Nobel laureate for literature Mo Yan, that their work should present socialist values and not carry the "stench of money". The new rules were issued days after the release of the full text of Xi's speech in which he urged them to create works that were both artistically outstanding and politically inspiring. During Mao Zedong's historic Yanan talks about literature and art in 1942, the leader said creative ambitions must first serve the people and the revolutionary cause; state media drew comparisons between the two speeches. Monday's rules, passed at a September Politburo meeting, were intended to implement Xi's demands, Xinhua reported. Beijing political commentator Zhang Lifan said the rules could compromise the quality of art. "Great art has always been from individual expression - not a centralised mindset," he said. The directives are seen as imitating Mao's approach to governing the nation's cultural industry, but Xi's approach seems based on what scholars call the "moral high ground" - in contrast with Mao's propaganda tactics, when the line between vulgar and refined wording seemed blurred, as Mao tried to pander to the mostly uneducated masses. "Dog droppings fertilise the field; man's droppings feed the dogs. Doctrines do neither. What good do they do?" Mao said during the Yanan period, historian Gao Hua documented, citing an official document. Party leaders with Soviet backgrounds were labelled doctrinists by Mao, as they received more systematic Marxist education. Such tactics helped the doctrinists to be sidelined by both the party and the public. The new directives said the arts sector should produce more works people liked, but not pander to the markets' low tastes. It said China's cultural industry was under threat from distorted artistic values and vulgar works. "Such efforts go against the principals of communication," said Qiao Mu, a communication expert at Beijing Foreign Studies University. "You can't decide what people like; both refined and vulgar works have markets." Unlike sexual and violent content, which were defined by law, the definition of vulgarity was very subjective, Qiao said. "The times are different. You can't close the door again once it's open … the government may spend lots of money on propaganda, but it can't cleanse what comes from the market." ^ top ^

Top leadership expected to discuss high-level vacancies (China Daily)
2015-10-21
Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd L, back), also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, speaks during a meeting on the 13th five-year plan period (2016-2020) with leading officials from seven regions in east China: Shanghai, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shandong and Zhejiang in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, May 27, 2015.[Photo/Xinhua] China's top leadership is expected to discuss how to fill the high-level vacancies left as a result of the nation's anti-graft campaign, according to political scientists and commentators. They said that apart from discussion of the nation's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), the vacancies and personnel transfers will most likely be on the agenda at next week's leadership meeting. Former high-profile officials or officers including Zhou Yongkang, Ling Jihua, Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou have faced or are under corruption charges or disciplinary investigation. Some individuals who used to seek favors and protection from them have also been removed from their positions and charged with corruption. The fifth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee will be held from Oct 26 to 29 in Beijing. The high-level vacancies include a deputy secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, who serves as an assistant to Wang Qishan, the commission chief and the country's top graft-buster. A director of the State Council Research Office-the most prominent policy advisory group to the central government-is also being sought. Jiang Ming'an, a law professor at Peking University, said the investigation of suspected corrupt officials shows that the country's resolve to fight corruption remains strong. The campaign will continue following the downfall of some high-level officials, Jiang said. Key vacancies and personnel transfers will be a high-light of the upcoming plenary session, Jiang added. There are also vacancies for the Party chief of Tianjin, due to an earlier personnel transfer, and the governorship of Fujian province, after former governor Su Shulin was placed under investigation for suspected serious disciplinary offenses earlier this month. Sun Zhigang, who served as vice-minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, was appointed deputy and acting governor of Guizhou province on Oct 16. Before Sun's appointment, Zhao Kezhi, his predecessor, had been named as the Party chief of Hebei province after Zhou Benshun, the former Party chief in Hebei, was placed under investigation for alleged serious disciplinary offenses. Zhou has since been expelled from the Party and dismissed from public office for offenses including graft. He is widely believed to be an ally of Zhou Yongkang, 72, one of the highest-ranking officials exposed in the anti-corruption campaign, who has been imprisoned for life. Yang Huanning, former vice-minister of public security, was named head of the State Administration of Work Safety on Oct 14 after its former director Yang Dongliang was removed following corruption allegations. Wang Yukai, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said that a Party chief or governor represents a regional image, so it is understandable that it can take time to fill such vacancies. Wang suggested the central government take more time to select candidates and inspect their backgrounds more carefully. ^ top ^

Treat or cheat: Chinese media exposes queer therapies on gay people (China Daily)
2015-10-20
While respect for sexual orientation is wining growing support worldwide, an investigation by Beijing News found that many gay people in China are still seen as being sick and subjected to all kinds of "treatments". In a hutong near Beijing's Caishikou, reporters met a man surnamed Zhong who ran a clinic at a residential house. Taking homosexuality as a result of demonic possession, Zhong ran a dojo-like operation for his "patient", surnamed Chen, with incense burned and spells chanted. Chen was also given a talisman, which was said to be able to "protect him from the devils." Before "doctor Zhong," Chen had resorted to an institution of traditional Chinese medicine. There, a doctor Wang claimed he has a sexual orientation disorder caused by clogged meridians. Chen was charged 530 yuan (about $83) for three tests – on blood pressure, meridians and psychological status. Wang said the whole treatment cost him some 10,000 yuan, citing dozens of cured cases. Wang Linming, head of the acupuncture department at Beijing Chinese Medicine Hospital, said he had never heard of the involvement of TCM in treating homosexuality before, neither did he believe in its effect. Chen was not the only one with differing sexual orientation forced to correct the "error". The Beijing LGBT Center once surveyed 1,600 people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group (LGBT), with one tenth of participants reporting experiences of treatment under family pressure. However, none of the treated has changed their orientation. A man surnamed Lin, who went through electroshock treatment in Shenzhen during 2011, told the newspaper he paid 8,000 yuan for little more than physical and mental suffering. Drawing on her expertise in psychology, Dr Liu Chaoying with Beijing Normal University said the LGBT group needs more respect from society. "Psychiatric help should be based on the needs of the LGBT group," Liu said, "and no one should abuse them or try to change their orientation." In fact, China removed homosexuality from its national criteria of mental disorders in 2000. Last December, a Beijing court ruled in favor of a man who sued a homosexual clinic for misleading propaganda, the first such case in the country. The verdict stated that homosexuality is not a mental disease. ^ top ^

Detained human rights lawyer, Wang Yu, on Chinese state TV informed of 'failed attempt to smuggle son overseas' (SCMP)
2015-10-19
Human rights lawyer Wang Yu and her husband Bao Longjun, who have been detained incommunicado for three months, were shown on state television in a distressed state yesterday, condemning a failed attempt to smuggle their teenage son out of China. But a San Francisco-based family friend, Liang Bo, who was to receive 16-year-old Bao Zhuoxuan in the US, said friends were trying to help the boy escape round-the-clock surveillance and his parents had been misled by the authorities. State broadcaster CCTV yesterday aired footage of the couple, filmed separately, talking emotionally about their son, who was caught after he entered Myanmar earlier this month while trying to flee abroad with the help of two activists. After the plan failed, the boy was taken back to China to stay with his grandparents and is now under 24-hour surveillance, according to Liang. CCTV and Xinhua depicted the incident as an illegal smuggling operation that transferred the boy from Inner Mongolia to Yunnan province then into Myanmar. The plan was to take him to Thailand then to "a Western country". Wang and Bao were the among the first of more than 290 to be taken away in a sweeping crackdown on rights lawyers and activists since July. They have been placed in "residential surveillance" - a form of solitary detention that can last up to six months - on a charge of "incitement of subversion of state power" and have been denied visits from lawyers or family. Analysts say the crackdown is an effort by authorities to discredit the rights defence movement and to deter other lawyers from taking on rights cases. Upon hearing their son had been led illegally across the border, Bao Longjun became emotional and Wang fainted, the narrator said in the CCTV broadcast. "My boy is too young, he is not yet an adult. Regardless of what organisation took him away, it's wrong," Bao said on camera. Another shot showed him breaking down in tears. A shot showed Wang panting heavily, looking fatigued and stressed. In separate footage, she said: "I want to condemn this behaviour, this is very dangerous and it's illegal." "I don't want this to happen again... as his parent, I hope the police can protect him," she continued. "I hope those with ulterior motives will not disturb our child's normal life again." Speaking from San Francisco, Liang noted that Wang and her husband had been kept in isolation for three months and had no access to information outside. She feared that they had been tortured and misled. Liang said she and others were trying to help the boy regain freedom and that Wang and Bao always wanted their son to study abroad. They were detained as Bao and his son were leaving for Australia to start school. "It was a righteous act that we were forced to make," Liang said. ^ top ^

Jailed and refused bail, Chinese investigative journalist detained after exposing high profile corruption scandal (SCMP)
2015-10-19
The detention of respected investigative reporter Liu Wei on suspicion of allegedly illegally obtaining state secrets has sparked concerns among mainland journalists over their work responsibilities and safety. Liu, 37, deputy director of the Guangdong-based Southern Metropolis News, was detained by police in the city of Pingxiang, in Jiangxi province, on October 8, his newspaper confirmed on Friday night. He reportedly "disappeared" at Chengdu airport, in Sichuan province. His newspaper said on Friday that it had contacted Jiangxi police on October 9 to insist Liu had always carried out his normal duties, but a request for him to be bailed was refused. Qiao Mu, dean of Beijing Foreign Studies University's Centre of International Communication Studies, said he feared the detention of journalists could become a widespread crackdown, similar to the recent detentions of numerous lawyers. "Both media professionals and academia are shocked," Qiao said. "It is a sign of further limits on reporting and citizens' rights to know such information." Most reports of Liu's detention were quickly censored on digital platforms on Friday, but only after many journalists had shared the news on social media. Liu's articles, revealing the links between controversial self proclaimed qigong master Wang Lin and celebrities, business people and party cadres, are believed to have led to his detention. His comprehensive coverage of the scandal, which sparked widespread social media discussion, began in 2013 after several celebrities accused Wang of charging exorbitant fees for medical fees and also claim that he had no medical expertise. In July Wang was detained when he was caught up in a kidnapping and murder investigation by Jiangxi police when one of his disciples - a Jiangxi provincial legislator - was found dead. Anonymous sources cited by mainland media claimed Wang had ordered the killing. Soon after Wang's detention, Southern Metropolis News published several documents it said were signed by Wang - allegedly showing he had ordered the surveillance and detention of the dead man - that had been given to Liu by Wang's family. Later, it was revealed the documents handed to Liu were bought from a police officer by Wang's former wife. The officer and Wang's former wife are reported to have been detained since September on suspicion of illegally obtaining state secrets. Liu's detention, after obtaining the documents was typical of many cases, said a source involved in the case, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Journalists often receive documents like this and it's illogical that Liu would have known it was unreasonable for a wife to possess documents signed by her husband," the source said. "If it had happened a few years ago he would not have been held; now we're in an era when it's becoming commonplace to detain journalists." Calls to Pingxiang's public security bureau, which issued the order for Liu's detention, went unanswered yesterday. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing to host high-end platform for leaders (China Daily)
2015-10-23
More than 40 former government heads, global strategists and business leaders from various countries will attend the Second Understanding China Conference from Nov 1 to 3 in Beijing. Since its launch in 2013, the conference has proved a high-end platform for top global intellectuals and business leaders to discuss China's politics, economy, diplomacy and defense. "I expect the world to have a different understanding of China from the conference, because this will generate huge benefits," said Wu Jianmin, executive vice chairman of the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy, and former Chinese Ambassador to France. "Last year, China's economic contribution to the world economic performance was about 30 percent. I believe if we can organize this Understanding China conference, through these face-to-face dialogues, the world will be able to better understand China, and this will help China and the rest of the world as well world economic development," Wu said. According to Wu, 15 former presidents or prime ministers, 20 former ministers and 20 academic and business leaders will be present, including Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico, Nicolas Berggruen, Chinaman of the Berggruen Institute and Reid Hoffman, executive chairman of LinkedIn. Guests will have a chance to conduct face-to-face discussions with Chinese decision makers on issues such as China's 13th Five-Year-Plan and China's economic strategy, China's regional development strategy and global governance. "The timing is specifically chosen after the fifth plenary session of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC, which will mainly talk about issues related to the 13th Five-Year-Plan," Wu said. "As we know the five-year plans are very important strategies in China, the 13th Five-Year-Plan will be of great interest not only in China but also across the international community," he said. The plenary session will be held in Beijing from Oct 26 to 29. ^ top ^

HIV-infected parcels found in Beijing's delivery system (China Daily)
2015-10-22
Beijing's quarantine authority is warning against the mailing of unauthorized dangerous substances through the postal or parcel delivery service after HIV-antigens were found in two regular packages. Zhou Xiaoping, a quarantine officer in charge of air delivery services at Beijing Capital International Airport, said on Wednesday that about 29,400 international parcels and luggage containing dangerous and illegal substances were intercepted at the airport during the first three quarters of this year, a 2.1 percent increase from last year. Among them, around 1,100 pest-infested items were found in parcels and luggage brought to Beijing. A variety of non-Chinese species, including Pratylenchus vulnus, a parasitic worm responsible for root lesion disease in plants, have been detected in the parcels. The haul might be only a fraction of the total number of illegal parcels delivered in China because only 3 percent of regular packages are randomly checked by quarantine officers, she warned. All packages marked as containing restricted items must be quarantined. Quarantine officers and medical experts also said officials should step up efforts to conduct more checks and to educate the public about the importance of quarantine procedures. Two separate parcels containing HIV-antigens, which could lead to HIV infection, were found in regular packages. Seven vials of HIV-antigen and HIV-antibody were also found in a parcel sent to a pharmaceutical business in Tianjin in August. Another parcel with eight vials of blood products and HIV-antigens was being sent to a biological agent company in Beijing in September. Zhou said the parcels were declared as regular chemical products that are exempt from quarantine examination. There were no reports of anyone being injured during interception. "The products are allowed to be delivered through the post or by delivery services under the condition that they go through quarantine procedures and obtain the approval from authorities. Companies and research institutes, with the qualification of managing the substance and with reasonable purpose, will be given the green light." She warned that the wrongly identified parcels would not be given special attention and the substance in them would easily leak out if they are registered under the names of regular substance. She emphasized that these parcels with dangerous substances can only be received by organizations with the capability to dispose them. He Xiong, deputy director at the Beijing Center for Disease Control, said HIV-antigen is widely used in drug and diagnostic agent research and development at biochemical and pharmaceutical companies. If it leaks, it might pollute the environment and endanger human health. He urged border inspection and quarantine authorities to beef up routine checkups to make sure such substances with potential biological risks are packed and transported appropriately. An average of 12,000 deliveries are processed at the airport each day, but only a small percentage of them are selected for quarantine inspection, said Jia Ruixiang, an officer in charge of parcel quarantine examination. Employing up-to-date technology in quarantine and raising the public awareness of the need for honest declaration of parcels should be strengthened, Jia added. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Lawsuits involving elderly and property surge in Shanghai (China Daily)
2015-10-23
The number of lawsuits involving elderly residents has surged in urban Shanghai, especially disputes concerning money, division of property and second marriages. The Shanghai Jing'an District People's Court received 654 cases involving seniors in the first nine months of this year, a nearly 50 percent increase from the same period last year, according to a court report issued ahead of Wednesday's Double Ninth Festival, a traditional celebration of the elderly. Shanghai has more residents age 60 and older than any other Chinese city. The number reached 4.14 million last year, and accounted for nearly 30 percent of the total population. The number of registered residents age 60 and older in the downtown Jing'an district is more than 32 percent of the total population. That percentage ranks first among all the districts in the city. According to the report, nearly 40 percent of the lawsuits involving older adults are disputes over money and property. The soaring price of housing in Shanghai in recent years has contributed to a major increase in property fights. Some children of residents who received cash sums after being moved from old neighborhoods in Jing'an district have sued their parents for an unfair partition of the money or the new apartments into which they were relocated. Remarried seniors who sued for divorce were another cause of the increase in lawsuits. One in three divorce lawsuits received by the court involved remarried elderly, the court said. "A second marriage is often more difficult than the first one as those who remarry do not share a common background of growing up together as a young couple," said Shu Xin, head of the China Marriage and Family Counseling Center. "The objection to a remarriage from children on both sides is another major obstruction. Children usually want their parents to keep their finances separate and prevent future problems, such as division of property after death," said Zhou Huiming, a legal adviser with the Shanghai Retired Employees Administration Committee at the Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions. Yao Xiaojing, an official with the senior tribunal of the Jing'an court, said the court provides resources to assist seniors involved in lawsuits. "We have workers guiding the elderly when they come to the court to register a lawsuit. We can also open a court session at the seniors' homes if they have difficulty in getting around," she said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong street sleepers consider legal action over belongings 'trashed' in government clean-up raid (SCMP)
2015-10-23
Street sleepers whose possessions were thrown away as trash in an early-morning raid by government officials are to take legal action after filing a complaint with the Legislative Council. More than 25 street sleepers say they lost their belongings when teams from the Home Affairs and Food and Environmental Hygiene departments, accompanied by police, turned up with a garbage truck without warning at a subway in Yau Ma Tei on July 31. Some of them met lawmakers on Thursday to make their complaint, and now plan to seek legal aid to launch a court challenge. Ng Wai-tung of the Society for Community Organisation, which is working with the street sleepers, said lawmakers had been in touch with the government over the issue, and it had denied the street sleepers had been blocked from recovering their goods. But Ng said the street sleepers at the subway in Ching Ping Street claimed police officers refused to let them collect their belongings before they were thrown away. Clothes and bedding were dumped, while some lost bank cards and identity documents "We are talking about having their lives' belongings all thrown away like trash," Ng said. "This is a serious lack of respect towards their rights." He has collected accounts of events from 19 street sleepers, including two women. A Home Affairs Department spokeswoman said that although complaints had been received from local residents on hygiene and law and order issues, it was a regular joint cleansing operation for street-sleeper sites, and "not a clearance operation to vacate the subway". She said social workers provided support to street sleepers on the day, and they were allowed to pack their belongings. "After they finished packing, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department contractors started to clean up the subway. Reaching each of the locations with stacked objects, [government officials] kept on reminding the street sleepers to take away their personal belongings and keep them safe," she said. "Drawers and bags left behind were also checked for valuables and personal documents. The government staff did not forbid anyone from taking back their belongings." She added that during the two-hour operation, department staff had allowed sufficient time for street sleepers to clear up. In a similar case in February 2012, the government compensated 17 street sleepers who lost their belongings in a raid in Sham Shui Po. The case dragged on for over nine months, during which two street sleepers died before being able to receive the HK$2,000 payout agreed in an out-of-court settlement. Wong Hung, an associate professor at Chinese University who specialises in community and poverty matters, said the number of street sleepers had increased in the past two years. He put this down to soaring rents and redevelopment of old neighbourhoods, which removed poor-quality but affordable housing. He said the government had failed to tackle the root of the problem, which was deprivation and social exclusion. ^ top ^

Two of four suspects in mainland Chinese tourist's death 'may have left Hong Kong': police (SCMP)
2015-10-21
Two of the four men who allegedly attacked and killed a mainland tourist at a jewellery shop in Hung Hom on Monday may have fled across the border, police sources say. Detectives believe the fugitive pair who helped drag 54-year-old Miao Chunqi out of the store before beating him unconscious could be tour group leaders from the mainland. Hours after the attack, police arrested two other men - one of them from Hong Kong and the other a tour group leader from the mainland. Miao died in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Yau Ma Tei, on Tuesday. The two arrested men - aged 32 and 44 - were jointly charged with manslaughter yesterday and will appear in Kowloon City Court today. Police also arrested two women, aged 32 and 53, for fighting in a public place. They have been released on bail pending further inquiries. Yesterday officers took one of the male suspects - hooded, chained and wearing a black T-shirt and trousers - back to the scene in Man Lok Street, where a blow-up dummy was used to film a reconstruction of events. During a bizarre 30-minute episode, the suspect, who was held on a metal chain leash by a plain-clothes officer, was asked to kick the dummy "victim" while it was held by officers at the entrance to a car park. Miao and a female colleague, Zhang Lixia, 53, were among a group of 19 mainland tourists who arrived from Shenzhen on Sunday. He was allegedly attacked after intervening in a dispute between Zhang and the woman leader of their tour group inside the shop. His death prompted a rare call from the nation's tourism authority for Hong Kong to protect the rights of mainland travellers. Several mainland media outlets covered the death of the tourist, rekindling anti-Hong Kong sentiment online. Global Times, a state-run Beijing-based conservative daily, said the tragedy had reminded many mainlanders about previous anti-mainland behaviour by extreme forces and would "further damage Hong Kong's image in mainlanders' minds". The newspaper said while details of the tragedy - such as whether the beating was led by a mainland gang - remained unclear, the death reflected a "chaotic Hong Kong tourism market and a serious loophole in the rule of law". It noted that following the pro-democracy Occupy movement and anti-parallel trading campaigns, many mainlanders had opted to travel to other Asian destinations instead of "helping maintain Hong Kong's economic prosperity". Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung said the regulatory body had demanded a report from the local travel agent involved, Tian Ma International (Hong Kong) Travel, which so far had refused to comment. Tung met eight members of Miao's family, including his wife, daughter and son-in-law, who arrived in the city last night and checked into a hotel in Yau Ma Tei with the help of the council and Tourism Commission. They were expected to meet police and identify the body today. Tung said they were tired and in poor spirits. ^ top ^

Hong Kong student activist, Joshua Wong joins London protests against President Xi Jinping's visit (SCMP)
2015-10-21
Student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung lead protesters from Hong Kong in opposing London's deepening ties with Beijing, as he attended a human rights rally in the British capital yesterday. Wong's attendance at the rally coincided with President Xi Jinping's first state visit to Britain - during which British Prime Minister David Cameron hopes to secure trade deals with Beijing worth billions of dollars. Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Wong attacked Beijing for breaking its promise on the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that paved the way for the 1997 handover and made provisions for democratic elections in 2017. "Why is the UK seeking further cooperation with the Chinese government when [Beijing] broke its promise on the Joint Declaration?" he asked. "I worry about whether 'one country, two systems' will result in one country, one system. "The new generation is demanding the right of self-determination because we are really afraid that [after 2047] Hong Kong will merge with China and we will not have rule of law, separation of power and freedom of speech." The student activist is in the country to speak at British universities including the Oxford Union, the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies about democratisation in Hong Kong. About 300 protestors representing Hong Kong Overseas Alliance, Amnesty International, Tibetan and Uygur groups, and Falun Gong and Tiananmen Square groups gathered peacefully near Buckingham Palace. Among them was blind dissident Chen Guangcheng and Tiananmen activist Shao Jiang. Competing for space and noise, thousands of pro-Beijing supporters lined The Mall, the road leading up to Buckingham Palace, waving Chinese flags and banners to greet Xi. They were joined by dragon dancers, whose loud drums helped to drown out the noise of the protesters. ^ top ^

Lawmaker proposes amendment to end Hong Kong chief executive's exemption from law on gifts and advantages (SCMP)
2015-10-21
Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan has drafted a private member's bill calling on the government to extend bribery laws to cover gifts and advantages offered to the chief executive. "If it is the government policy to crack down on corruption, how can the chief executive alone be exempted?" Ho said. There is little chance of her bill being passed in the Legislative Council, however, given the dominance of pro-establishment lawmakers. Ho's move comes two weeks after the Independent Commission Against Corruption arrested former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and charged him with misconduct relating to an agreement he struck to lease a penthouse in Shenzhen. But the lack of any legal action in response to Tsang's alleged acceptance of yacht and private jet trips from tycoons prompted renewed calls for Leung to honour his post-election promise to subject himself to the same restrictions on gifts and advantages that apply to all civil servants. Under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, any civil servant who solicits or accepts an advantage without the permission of the chief executive is guilty of an offence. But that means the chief executive himself cannot be covered by the legislation. The government has said any change to the law involves "constitutional, legal and operational implications". It said it would prudently handle recommendations made by a committee led by former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang that it be a criminal offence for the chief executive to solicit or accept any advantage without the permission of a statutory independent committee. Leung has refused to commit to a timetable, backtracking on a promise made in 2012 as chief executive-elect to adopt Li's proposal swiftly. Ho's bill is generally in line with Li's report. But even if it is approved by the government, it is unlikely to be passed in the legislature. Bills proposed by members are subject to so-called split voting, meaning they need a majority among both geographical sector lawmakers, elected by the public at large, and those representing functional constituencies, most of whom are elected by professional and trade groups. Pro-establishment lawmakers are in control of the latter group. "The chief executive is the head of the SAR, so here is the problem. It has something to do with [his] constitutional [role]," said lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. "I'm afraid it's impossible to do it by way of a private member's bill." But the Liberal Party's James Tien Pei-chun, who is not on good terms with Leung despite the party's pro-establishment stance, said he would support the bill as even mainland officials would face prosecution if they were found to be corrupt. ^ top ^

Third parties should be able to fund arbitrations in Hong Kong, Law Reform Commission says (SCMP)
2015-10-20
Third parties should be allowed to put up funding for arbitration cases in Hong Kong even though such arrangements remain illegal in court cases, government advisers have recommended. The Law Reform Commission's proposal makes it the first official body to break the taboo on allowing third parties to take an interest in legal proceedings, amid fears of ambulance-chasing, which refers to lawyers soliciting for clients at a disaster site, and vexatious litigation. The suggestion is seen as a way of promoting arbitration which, together with mediation, has been pushed by the Department of Justice as a way to resolve disputes outside court. "The reform can bring clear benefits … and enhance Hong Kong's competitive position as an international arbitration centre," the commission's subcommittee on third-party funding for arbitration said as it launched a public consultation on its proposal yesterday. Australia, England and the United States already permit parties to arbitration to seek financial support from third parties. "Parties considering whether to resolve their disputes in [Hong Kong] by international arbitration are starting to take into account, among others, the potential financing options available," the subcommittee said. "Clarity and certainty of the relevant law concerning third party funding for arbitration will be desirable." At present, it remains unclear whether the law of champerty and maintenance, which bans third parties from funding a court case in return for an interest in any subsequent payout, applies to arbitration. No court has yet ruled on whether the 700-year-old legal doctrine - long since abolished in many jurisdictions - applies in such cases. Gary Meggitt, director of the Asian Institute of International Financial Law, welcomed the consultation paper and said it would resolve legal uncertainties. Explaining the difference between arbitration and litigation, University of Hong Kong legal scholar Eric Cheung Tat-ming said the former could only be initiated by the agreement of all parties, while litigation "can be forced upon by a party". The subcommittee admitted the move could spark unnecessary arbitration proceedings or give rise to money laundering, while third-party funders could exercise "too great a level of control". But it said it was unlikely to give rise to the kind of "no win, no fee" services seen elsewhere. It said the benefits would outweigh the risks, which could be managed with proper "ethical and financial standards". Whether those standards should be set out in law or in a code of conduct remained open for discussion. Justin D'Agostino, a member of the subcommittee and head of global dispute resolution practice at Herbert Smith Freehills, said Hong Kong was the third most popular place worldwide to settle commercial arbitrations. "Liberalising the funding rules will ensure Hong Kong maintains this leading position," he said. ^ top ^

Toxic water scandal continues: Two more Hong Kong kindergartens report excessive lead-in-water levels (SCMP)
2015-10-20
Lead-tainted water slightly above World Health Organisation standards has been found at two more kindergartens, bringing the total to five institutions. Authorities tested 36 water samples from 21 kindergartens. A spokesman for the Education Bureau said yesterday that a water sample from St Thomas' Catholic Kindergarten in Kwai Tsing contain lead levels of 16 micrograms per litre, while two samples from Yuen Long Church (CCC) Long Ping Estate Chan Kwong Kindergarten recorded levels of 10.2 and 11 mcg/l – slightly above the safe limit of 10 mcg/l set by the WHO. The three lead-tainted water samples were taken from wall-mounted dispensers. According to the two kindergartens, the water from the dispensers was used for drinking by staff and students. The Department of Health will arrange blood tests for 762 students, two pregnant teachers and one lactating teacher. The remaining 33 samples from 19 kindergartens met WHO standards. Up to October 19, the authorities had tested 928 water samples from 381 kindergartens and 21 schools. Excessive lead was found in seven samples from five kindergartens. Government tests have also uncovered excessive lead levels in the water of 11 public housing estates, one private residential development and three primary schools since the scandal broke in July. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's presidential election season shifts into higher gear as KMT's Eric Chu starts campaign (SCMP)
2015-10-20
Less than three months before the January 2016 Taiwan presidential election, the real fight between the three candidates began on Tuesday as the new presidential nominee of the ruling Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT) started his campaign. Speaking on a radio show on Tuesday, KMT Chairman Eric Chu apologised to New Taipei citizens to whom he had previously promised he would not run in the 2016 race, which will be held in conjunction with legislative polls. Chu was nominated by his party to stand in the electoral contest last weekend after the party's highest decision making body rescinded its earlier nomination of Hung Hsiu-chu, the deputy legislative speaker, because of her declining popularity. He began three-months of leave from his job as New Taipei mayor on Tuesday in order to concentrate on his campaign. As Taiwan attaches great importance to Japan and the United States, the island's presidential candidates usually visit these two strategic partners in the run-up to the election. While Tsai Ing-wen, the presidential candidate for the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, has already visited the two countries, Chu said he was also assessing the possibility of doing the same. Kuo Yun-kung, director of the KMT's Department of Overseas Affairs, who is in the US, said that Washington had never stopped inviting the party's presidential candidate to go there for a visit, but the key was time. On relations with China, Chu proposed to strengthen the so-called “1992 consensus” so both sides of the Taiwan Strait could move from maintaining the current peaceful development to creating a win-win situation through bilateral cooperation. The reference is an agreement said to have been reached between the KMT and the Communist Party of China in 1992, which states that there is only one China and that each side can interpret in their own way what that means. […] Pledging to “maintain the status quo” of the Taiwan Strait, Soong said that, if elected, he intended to maintain the status of Taiwan's freedom and democracy, the existence of the Republic of China – the official name of the island, and the self-determination of the Taiwanese people. Owing to public displeasure with the performance of the KMT administration, Soong promised to “change the status quo” of dysfunctional governments, helpless Taiwanese public and economic benefits monopolised by big businesses and cross-strait brokers. Tsai, who has been leading the polls, has also proposed to “maintain the status quo” of the Taiwan Strait, but she has declined to specify how she plans to put her policy into practice. While she had previously declined to explain what she meant by “the status quo”, she has recently defined it as maintaining Taiwan's free and democratic way of life and constitutional system and maintaining peaceful and stable relations across the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan and China have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949. While Taipei still calls itself the Republic of China and claims the mainland as part of its territory, Beijing has long threatened to use force, if necessary, to reunite both sides under the leadership of the People's Republic of China. Despite Tsai's reassurance, many people are worried that cross-strait relations would return to the kind of deadlock seen when the independence-leaning party ruled the island from 2000 to 2008. The party's platform stipulates that its goal is to pursue an independent country named the Republic of Taiwan. Beijing has regarded the “Taiwan independence clause” as a primary roadblock to any possible engagement with the DPP. Official registration for the presidential election is slated for late next month and televised platform presentations or debates are scheduled for December and January. ^ top ^

Beijing urges Brussels not to seek investment talks with Taiwan (China Daily)
2015-10-16
Beijing has urged Brussels not to explore launching negotiations on investment with Taiwan after European Union has shown such intention in a trade policy paper. "We do not object non-official trade and culture exchanges between Taiwan and countries or international entities having diplomatic relations with China, but oppose the development of official ties in any form," Jiang Xiaoyan, spokeswoman of China Mission to EU told reporters on Friday. European Union has shown the intention in a trade policy paper published this week. Beijing and Brussels will soon launch the eighth round of investment talks and hopefully, a joint negotiation text will take shape in the end of this year. Jiang said the Taiwan question involves China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and bears on China's core interests and respect for China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and adherence to the one-China principle has been the EU's long-standing political commitment. "The EU side should bear in mind the overall interests of China-EU relations, earnestly honor its commitment to the one-China principle, deal with Taiwan-related issues with prudence and refrain from having any form of official exchanges or signing any official agreement with the Taiwan authorities," said Jiang. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Chengdu set to become China's next logistics hub (SCMP)
2015-10-22
Chengdu is poised to become be the next logistics hub in China, leveraging its mature logistics infrastructure and prime location to exploit the opportunities thrown up by e-commerce, say experts. A new report by commercial real estate company CBRE says Chengdu is the best city in western China for logistics property investment. "As the strategic intersection of 'one belt, one road' and 'Yangtze River Economic Belt', Chengdu is playing an increasingly important role in the area," the report says. The capital of Sichuan province has established a comprehensive logistics network in the past decade. The city has an express highway that goes all the way to Europe and the fourth busiest airport in China. International warehouse developers such as GLP, Goodman and Prologis have bases in Chengdu, where they have created new logistics parks. With its logistics network and large population, Chengdu is increasingly attracting the booming e-commerce sectors and retailers to build distribution centres. "Rather than its competitor Chongqing, Chengdu's economy is more export-oriented, focusing on retail and trade, and it has a long history of encouraging e-commerce businesses," said an expert from a global logistics property developer who declined to be identified. "There is a lot of potential in Chengdu's logistics market." Chengdu is building an airport to make it the third Chinese city to have two commercial airports, after Beijing and Shanghai. ^ top ^

US Treasury drops view of yuan being 'significantly undervalued (SCMP)
2015-10-21
The US Treasury has dropped its view that the mainland's currency is "significantly undervalued" while saying the forces driving appreciation in the longer term remain and that Beijing needs to allow such strengthening eventually. The yuan remains "below its appropriate medium-term valuation", the department said in its semi-annual report on foreign-exchange policies. The "core factors" that had driven the yuan's appreciation in recent years remained in place, such as a large and growing current-account surplus, and net inflows of foreign direct investment, it said. Even so, the department refrained from characterising the currency as "significantly undervalued", as it had in each foreign-exchange report since May 2012. The Treasury also recognised that with an economic slowdown and stock market volatility, market factors were exerting "downward pressure" on the yuan, though the department called the trend "transitory". The International Monetary Fund, by contrast, adopted the view in May that the yuan was "no longer undervalued". The softer US stance on China's exchange-rate policy came in the first currency report by the Barack Obama administration since the People's Bank of China surprised markets on August 11 with a devaluation that led to the yuan's steepest two-day drop since 1994. The central bank said it would allow market forces to play a greater role in its daily setting of the yuan's reference rate. "There's really very little they can complain about," Axel Merk, president and chief investment officer of Merk Investments in San Francisco, said of the Treasury. "We've moved far beyond what people used to call manipulation." The Treasury said a test would be whether Beijing allowed the yuan to "respond flexibly to appreciation as well as depreciation pressures". The Treasury is required to report to Congress twice a year on international economic conditions and exchange-rate policies. The Treasury must enter direct talks with a country deemed to be manipulating its currency, and also seek redress through the IMF. The last country labelled a manipulator was China, in 1994. A "persistent" weakening of the yuan would be inconsistent with the fundamentals of the economy, PBOC Deputy Governor Yi Gang said at the IMF's annual meeting in Lima, Peru, on October 9. China was committed to making its currency regime more flexible and market-based, he said. China is trying to win IMF approval to join the lender's basket of reserve currencies. A decision is expected by the end of the year. ^ top ^

More gloom than cheer over mixed economic data as China's growth slows to 6.9pc (SCMP)
2015-10-20
China's economy faced a bleak outlook amid mixed data released on Monday - slightly better than expected growth but disappointing investment and output figures - fuelling calls for more intensive policy support to boost economic activity. The third quarter's 6.9 per cent growth in gross domestic product year on year, although higher than the forecast 6.8 per cent, was the worst quarterly performance since 2009 during the global financial crisis. The GDP data buoyed market sentiment - but only temporarily. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.92 per cent shortly after the figure was released, but soon reversed into negative territory, ending down 0.14 per cent at 3,386.70. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index traded weak for most of the course, closing up 0.04 per cent at 23,075.61. National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Sheng Laiyun said downward pressure was here to stay until the mainland completed its economic restructuring. "Deep winter will continue, but the poor data also adds possibilities for intensified stimulus policies," China Merchants Bank economist Liu Dongliang said. Authorities would likely step up fiscal policy, and further cuts in interest rates and banks' reserve ratio would be imposed sooner than expected, Liu said. Fixed-asset investment, a key economic driver, continued to lose momentum, expanding just 10.3 per cent year on year from January to September, marking the slowest growth since 2000. This compared with 10.9 per cent in the first eight months. The pace of investment in railways saw a sharp drop to 1.8 per cent from 9.9 per cent in the first eight months. Industrial output grew 5.7 per cent last month, the lowest growth in six months, according to the statistics bureau. Car output dropped more than 20 per cent for the third straight month, signalling falling demand for durable goods. Electricity consumption, a key indicator of economic activity, fell 0.2 per cent in September. Industrial use of electricity alone fell 2.9 per cent, according to the National Energy Administration. "The overall economic data was weaker than expected, indicating insufficient economic momentum" China International Capital Corporation said. "Property sales slowed last month … Sales and prices of construction materials … have not shown signs that property investment will stabilise." Retail spending was one bright note amid the gloomy data, however, growing 10.9 per cent last month, compared with 10.8 per cent in August. The service sector accounted for 51.4 per cent of GDP in the first three quarters, compared with the industrial sector's 40.6 per cent, the statistics bureau said. GDP expanded 1.8 per cent quarter on quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis, unchanged from the previous three months. The bureau said it had adopted the International Monetary Fund's standards in compiling quarterly GDP data but that the change would not affect year-on-year GDP growth figures. The latest economic data would affect the authorities' setting of the national growth target for the upcoming 13th five-year plan as it was becoming increasingly difficult to achieve 7 per cent annual growth, said Minsheng Securities. The central bank has cut benchmark interest rates five times since November and lowered banks' reserve ratio by at least 200 basis points. Economists have expressed disappointment at the cuts' limited impact on boosting the economy. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

DPRK wants to import meat from Mongolia (Montsame)
2015-10-22
Head of the General Agency for Specialized Inspection (GASI) Sh.Radnaased Wednesday received Mr Chwe Hyo Sen, the Councilor of the Ambassador of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to Mongolia. The latter said his country is willing to import meat and meat products from Mongolia, and discussed with Mr Radnaased issues of veterinary quarantine, hygiene, capability of meat factories. Radnaased expressed a satisfaction with the N.Korea's interest in the meat import and said the GASI is ready to provide the DPRK with all information concerning the above issues. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held official talks with Prime Minister of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg (Infomongolia)
2015-10-22
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held official talks with Mongolian Prime Minister Chimed SAIKHANBILEG on October 22, 2015 during his visit to Mongolia. The two Prime Ministers noted that they are satisfied that Mongolian-Japanese strategic partnership is expanding in all sectors of economy and policy. Further, both parties have exchanged views on wide range of items related to Mongolian and Japanese relations such as technology transfer, plan to increase investment to Mongolia through intensification of relations between Japanese and Mongolian private sectors and development of mutually beneficial economic relations between two countries. Moreover, Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg exchanged views on cooperation on regional and international arena and promised to support each other. In addition, Mongolian government has signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Japanese government on cooperation on Tavan Tolgoi's eastern railroad project. Mongolian Minister for Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren and Japan's Ambassador to Mongolia Takenori Shimizu have signed the documents. Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Ch.Saikhanbileg were present at the signing ceremony. ^ top ^

Minister of Justice visits S.Korea (Montsame)
2015-10-22
Minister of Justice of Mongolia D.Dorligjav paid an official visit to the Republic of Korea this October 19-21. This has become the first interaction for the two countries on justice ministers' level since 2007. The Minister held official talks with his S.Korean counterpart Kim Hyun-woong, and ran meetings with the Ministers of Security and Public Administration and of Government Legislation, and also with a head of the Justice Standing committee of the Korean National Assembly (parliament). During the talks, the two sides exchanged views on the matters on expanding the cooperation in legal sphere, preparing cadres, as well as defending the rights of the Mongolians in S.Korea, alleviation in visa issuance, particularly about issuing allowing more multiple entry visas for Mongolian nationals travelling to S.Korea. The S.Korean side expressed a willingness to cooperate in the legal renovation of Mongolia in a scope of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two Ministries of Justice. D.Dorligjav also legged the National Forensic Studies Institute, Electronic Handcuffs Monitoring Center and a house of correction. He discussed with the authorities a further cooperation in implementing projects on forensic studies, getting technical assistance, sharing practices of the use of electronic handcuffs and introducing S.Korean high tech to the renovation process in the national archives of Mongolia. Moreover, the sides considered a collaboration in ensuring a security during the ASEM Summit, which will run in Ulaanbaatar next year. ^ top ^

Bill presented on ratifying European rules on Transfers of Sentenced Persons (Montsame)
2015-10-20
Head of Cabinet Secretariat S.Bayartsogt MP submitted to the Speaker Z.Enkhbold a bill on ratifying the Convention on Transfers of Sentenced Persons of the European Commission, on October 20. S.Bayartsogt noted that it is time that Mongolia focuses on concluding agreements and on joining related conventions on the transfer of convicts and on legal assistances to those Mongolian nationals who have become subjects to criminal activities abroad, as a number of the Mongolians to study and work overseas increases, he said. Bilateral agreements on the same issue have been signed with South Korea, China, Canada, Russia, Poland, Turkey and Cuba. Mongolia is also a subject to the 1978 Berlin Convention on Transfers of Sentenced Persons, which is currently effective. ^ top ^

Bill on permanent neutrality status submitted (Montsame)
2015-10-20
An advisor to the President on human rights and legal policy Ch.Onorbayar Tuesday submitted to the Speaker Z.Enkhbold a draft law on maintaining the permanent status of neutrality. The bill with 11 clauses in three articles is supposed to contribute to the improvement of the legal basis for ensuring the national security, foreign and defense policies. “Maintaining the status of neutrality will not change the foreign policy of Mongolia but will become a basis for keeping balanced ties with other nations. The bill is fully accorded with the Constitution of Mongolia, the Concept of National Security, the Concept of Foreign Policy, the Fundamentals of Military Policy and other related laws,” Onorbayar said. In conjunction with this bill, a draft resolution of parliament has been formulated to amend the Concept of National Security and the Concept of Foreign Policy. In addition, Mongolia is expected to need to join the 1907 Hague Conventions relative to the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in case of War on Land as well concerning the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Naval War.  ^ top ^

About measures for implementation of human rights recommendation (Montsame)
2015-10-16
A meeting-discussion-training ran Thursday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on realizing recommendations for the human rights status. Co-organized by Mongolia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the “UPR info” international NGO, the UN Permanent Representative Office and the Open Society Forum, the event brought together 70 servants and representatives of all Ministries, related agencies, the Parliamentary Office, the State Supreme Court, the General Prosecutorial Office, the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), NGOs on human rights. The “UPR info” NGO introduced to the gathered essential understanding about regular discussion of human rights status and good experiences of other countries, while the Forum of human rights NGOs presented them proposals on governmental measures for realizing the human rights recommendations, the criteria for evaluating the recommendations' implementation and necessary measures. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it intends to reflect in the governmental action plan the recommendations' works, expected results, measures, terms and concerned services. The Ministry also plans to set up a non-staff committee in charge of controlling the recommendations' implementation, with representation of the NCHR and civil society organizations, and to deploy human rights specialists in all Ministries and agencies. Every member of the United Nations discusses its status of human rights every 4-5 years at the United Nations Council for Human Rights (UNCHR) and takes promises to realize recommendations from other countries. Mongolia discussed its first ever report on human rights in November of 2010, and the second report was discussed successfully in May this year. Within the discussion of the second report, Mongolia accepted 150 recommendations out of 164 offered by 64 countries. ^ top ^

Presidents of Mongolia and Germany made joint statement to press and media (Infomongolia)
2015-10-16
Upon the invitation of the President of Mongolia, Mr. Ts.Elbegdorj, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Joachim Gauck arrived in Ulaanbaatar for a state visit on October 14, 2015. On October 15, following the tete-a-tete meeting and official talks, Presidents of Mongolia and Germany made joint statement to press and media. Statement by the President of Mongolia, Mr. Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ “Your Excellency, Federal President Joachim Gauck, Distinguished guests and representatives of media, Upon my invitation, the Federal President Joachim Gauck is paying a state visit to Mongolia. This visit is coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the first, free, democratic elections held in Mongolia. Allow me to extend my sincere appreciation to the Federal Republic of Germany for supporting and assisting Mongolia's transition to democracy from the early beginning. The bilateral relationship between Mongolia and Germany has been intensifying in the last few weeks. Recently, the Mongolia-German Economic Commission meeting was successfully held. In addition, our working group on establishing a Joint Agreement on Cooperation in mineral resource, industry and technology is hosting its 4th meeting. Also, the Mongolia-German Inter-Governmental consultative meeting on the Partnership Development Policy will took place next Monday. I have just had official talks with His Excellency, Federal President Joachim Gauck and discussed a wide range of issues of mutual relations and partnership. During this visit, an agreement was established between the scientific organizations of the both countries. An important agreement on copper concentrate was signed between a German company and Mongolia's private entities. Both sides have signed agreement on establishing oil and lubricant production plant, which is also very important. It is important that Federal President is to meet with Prime Minister and representatives of business organizations of Mongolia. In the framework of the state visit, Federal President Joachim Gauck is scheduled to visit Mongolia's ancient capital Kharkhorin. At the site of Kharkhorin, an archaeological excavation has been carried out under the auspices of the Presidents of the both countries. Moreover, Federal President Joachim Gauck will visit the German-Mongolian Institute for Resources and Technology. In conclusion, I heartily welcome Your Excellency Mr. President Joachim Gauck to Mongolia. I wish you and your delegation a memorable and successful visit. Thank you." ^ 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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