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
  2-6.11.15, No. 595  
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Foreign Policy

China's President Xi Jinping calls on Vietnam to boost military and maritime ties (SCMP)
2015-11-06
President Xi Jinping called on China and Vietnam to increase military and maritime cooperation as he began a trip to the communist neighbour yesterday, stressing the proper settlement of territorial disputes amid friction in the South China Sea. Xi, the first Chinese president to visit Hanoi in 10 years, said he hoped for a higher-level partnership with Vietnam and pledged to support the rule of its Communist Party as he received a 21-gun salute at the Presidential Palace. Analysts said the grand welcome was a sign Hanoi still needed Beijing to support its long-term political and economic development despite moves by the United States to strengthen its presence in the region. In July, US President Barack Obama pledged to visit Vietnam "soon". In his talks with Vietnam's Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong, Xi raised seven proposals to boost ties between Beijing and Hanoi, and vowed to support Vietnam on the socialist path of development. "The two sides should push for maritime cooperation," he was quoted as saying by state-run CCTV. "Both sides should properly resolve their disputes in maritime issues through mutual consultation, cooperation and development." They should also boost cooperation in military affairs, United Nations peacekeeping, cybersecurity and international affairs. China would increase investment and trade in Vietnam, Xi added. Trong told Xi the two countries should not allow territorial disputes to affect their relations, and neither should increase tensions or militarisation of the South China Sea, Vietnam's foreign ministry said. The two nations signed a series of agreements after the talks between Xi and Trong. China will give one billion yuan (HK$1.22 billion) in development assistance over the next five years to help Vietnam build more schools and hospitals, US$250 million in a preferential loan to a urban railway project in Hanoi, and US$300 million to a highway project in Quang Ninh province. The two sides also signed agreements on the navigation of vessels in the Ka Long River, which connects Guangxi in China to Quang Ninh in Vietnam. Xi's visit comes amid heightening tensions in the South China Sea, after the American vessel USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese man-made island in the Spratly Islands. Vietnam and the Philippines have expressed strong opposition to China's island building in the disputed waters. However, in a move seen as boosting ties, Xi will deliver a speech to the Vietnamese National Assembly today. Ha Huy Thong, deputy director of the Parliament Foreign Relations Committee, expected Xi to use his speech to explain China's stance on its relationship with Vietnam. "The most important thing is that he will talk directly to the members of parliament … channelling [his message] to the Vietnamese constituency they represent," Thong said. Bilateral relations between Beijing and Hanoi plunged to a low point last year following China's deployment of an oil rig near the Paracel Islands in an area Vietnam claims is within its exclusive economic zone. The move sparked anti-China protests in Vietnam. But both sides have been trying to repair ties with high-level contacts over the past months. Trong visited Beijing in April. Zhang Mingliang, a Southeast Asian affairs expert at Jinan University, said it was impossible for either side to make major concessions over the territorial disputes, but both realised the importance of mending ties. "China and Vietnam share communist ideology, with Hanoi being clear that only Beijing will help it to sustain its regime when it is facing challenges like the Jasmine Revolution," he said. Zhang Jie, a regional security expert at the National Institute of International Strategy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Vietnam would not allow anti-China sentiment to rise, and Hanoi would not get too close to Washington. ^ top ^

China's legislature ratifies AIIB agreement (Xinhua)
2015-11-06
China's top legislature on Wednesday ratified the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) agreement, which establishes the legal framework for the bank. Lawmakers voted on the agreement at the closing meeting of the bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee. The ratification is a significant step closer to the AIIB's formal establishment, slated for the end of 2015, as China is the bank's largest shareholder. The China-backed multilateral development institution is tasked with financing infrastructure construction across Asia. Among the bank's 57 prospective founding members, 54 had signed the agreement as of last month, and the other three are expected to sign before the end of this year. All prospective members should have their legislatures ratify the agreement before the end of 2016 to formally become founding members. As long as at least 10 signatories, and no less than 50 percent of the capital contribution, obtain legislative approval, the agreement will become effective, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei told lawmakers. Lou said Myanmar, Singapore and Brunei have received legislative approval, with more than 30 percent in capital contribution. The 60-article agreement outlines the financial share of each founding member as well as rules for policymaking, governance structure, and business and operational systems. The AIIB will promote sustainable development of the Asian economy, create wealth and improve infrastructure connections, Lou said. The bank will cooperate with other multilateral and bilateral development organizations to promote regional cooperation and deal with challenges, according to Lou. The AIIB shows that China is committed to establishing an open, just and transparent international economic governance system, and it will provide a new platform for cooperation among member states, he said. With authorized capital of 100 billion U.S. dollars, the AIIB will invest in sectors including energy, transportation, urban construction and logistics as well as education and health care. Asian members' financial contribution is three times more than non-Asian members. Based on the capital contribution, China holds a voting stake of around 26 percent, the highest of all members. As new members join, all founding members' shares and voting stakes will be "gradually diluted," Lou explained. He said that Jin Liqun, president-designate of the institution and head of the working group to establish the AIIB, will be formally elected AIIB president at the first board of directors' meeting, slated for after the formal establishment of the bank. Jin has held positions with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The AIIB has a three-tier structure -- a board of governors, a board of directors and a management team. Jin earlier said the AIIB will be "lean, clean and green." Lou said the AIIB should be exempted from all taxes and tariffs and the wages of its staff should also be exempted from taxation. Though all state-backed initiatives, the AIIB, the New Development Bank for BRICS countries and the Silk Road Fund will work independently. ^ top ^

China condemns meddling over ASEAN joint statement (Global Times)
2015-11-05
China on Wednesday expressed regret after defense ministers failed to agree on a joint statement at a Southeast Asian summit, reportedly due to disagreement between China and the US over wording related to the South China Sea. Analysts believe that the US action is aimed at splitting the regional nations over political positions, a move that will risk further confrontation with China. China's defense ministry said Wednesday that "some individual countries outside the region ignored the existing consensus and attempted to forcefully add into the declaration contents not discussed during the meeting." The ministry said China has reached a consensus with Malaysia and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the content of the document but certain countries' behavior "totally deviated from the purposes and principles of the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus, and damaged the central and dominating role of ASEAN in the mechanism." The ministry said these individual countries should take full responsibility for the absence of the joint declaration. According to a Reuters report, disagreement between the US and China over how to address the South China Sea issues led to a scrapped joint statement on Wednesday in Subang, Malaysia, after ministers failed to agree on its wording. The US and its allies had pressed for a mention of disputes in the South China Sea in the statement, while China believed such reference should be dropped, Reuters reported. "As a country outside the region, the US wanted to introduce the South China Sea into the joint statement because the US is fully aware that the topic touches on China's national interests," Jin Canrong, vice director of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times Wednesday. The US destroyer USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of Zhubi Reef on October 27, and a defense official said the mission, which lasted a few hours, passed by Meiji Reef, Reuters reported. China claims both reefs as part of its Nansha Islands. The US Navy plans to conduct similar patrols about twice a quarter or "a little more than that" to "remind China and other countries about US rights under international law," a US defense official was quoted anonymously by Reuters as saying on Monday. According to Jin, with cooperation deepening between China and ASEAN countries, the US influence over the region is dwindling. For this reason it tries to contain China by playing up the dispute in the South China Sea. "By allying with countries like the Philippines in the region, the US, as well as Japan, tries to drive a wedge between China and ASEAN countries, aiming to break the countries into different interest groups and complicate the situation," Zha Xiaogang, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times. The meeting, which was first held in 2006 to build a platform to promote regional peace and stability, included defense ministers from the 10 ASEAN members and counterparts from countries such as Australia, China, India, Japan and the US. "The cancellation of the joint statement also shows internal conflicts within the ASEAN," Han Feng, deputy director of the Institute of Asian-Pacific Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said the US intends to create an impression that it is the US, not China, which holds the decisive power over the South China Sea. Zhao believes that if the US continues to play up the issue, it risks further confrontation with China. "It's selfish for the US and its allies to raise the stakes despite the region's security and prosperity. China should make its response through talks within ASEAN countries and reinforce its military influence in the South China Sea," Zha said. ^ top ^

Freedom of navigation a 'nonissue' and 'no excuse for provocations' (China Daily)
2015-11-05
State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Chang Wanquan has said that the so-called freedom of navigation issue in the South China Sea is "a false proposition", and therefore it cannot be taken as "an excuse for provocations". Chang made the remarks after a minority of attending countries attending the third ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday, hyped the navigation freedom concept. The regional situation has witnessed rising tension following the Oct 27 illegal entry by a US warship into waters close to a Chinese reef of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. According to Chang, "more than 100,000 vessels sail through the South China Sea every year, and there is no such thing as a country encountering obstacles, troubles or danger". "Since there is not any issue over navigation freedom in the South China Sea, it should not become a topic for hyping, not to mention an excuse for provocations," Chang said. The meeting gathered defense leaders from all 10 ASEAN countries and eight dialogue partner countries-Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States. However, it failed to issue a joint statement on Wednesday. Reuters reported that "the United States and its allies had pressed for a mention of disputes in the South China Sea in the statement". The Ministry of National Defense's Information Office stated that "stand-alone countries outside the region are completely responsible" for the failure to release the document, without stating the names of the countries or their number. The regional outsiders "have attempted to force contents-which are not within the scope of the meeting's discussions-into the joint declaration", according to the ministry. "China has maintained close coordination and communication with the chairing state Malaysia regarding the draft contents of the joint declaration, and has reached consensus with Malaysia and the rest of the ASEAN countries upon the content of the joint declaration," the ministry said. Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said that Washington has showed hypocrisy on the South China Sea issue. "The US action aims at encouraging countries such as the Philippines to further challenge China on the South China Sea issue," Zhang said. Meanwhile, despite the tension, three Chinese naval ships arrived on Tuesday at United States Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida, for the first time, kicking off a five-day goodwill visit. Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said the visit demonstrates that the PLA Navy is a staunch defender of peace and stability. ^ top ^

France's nuclear-reactor maker Areva open to Chinese funds, says French President Francois Hollande (SCMP)
2015-11-04
French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that France welcomed Chinese investment in its state-owned nuclear-reactor maker Areva, as he wrapped up his two-day trip to China. "We welcome foreign capital in the Areva restructuring. It would not affect our sovereignty," Hollande said in Beijing. On Monday, Areva and the China National Nuclear Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding for possible partnership on nuclear-waste recycling that could be worth €20 billion (HK$171 billion). Hollande said that as China and France had become partners building nuclear plants together in Britain and China, it was natural to have the Chinese in the Areva recapitalisation. Last month, French utility company EDF came to an agreement with Chinese nuclear company CGN to jointly build the Hinkley Point nuclear plants in Britain. Despite the continuous nuclear cooperation, Hollande said his two-day China trip focused more on climate change issues to ensure success in the upcoming UN round of climate talks to be held in Paris next month. Read more: As Hollande heads to China, climate change tops agenda for French president As the world's largest polluter, China will be a key player at the event, in the face of disputes over whether developed or developing countries should bear more of the burden for reducing emissions. In his talks with Hollande, Premier Li Keqiang said China has used up too much energy and resources in its quest for growth, adding that the nation had a "duty to humanity" to clean itself up. More environmentally friendly development would be "obligatory" for China to "promote a restructuring of its national economy", he said. "For a great many years, we consumed too much energy and resources to achieve our development, and this model has since become unsustainable," Li said. In a joint presidential statement on Monday, China agreed that the Paris accord - intended to cap warming at 2 degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels - should include checks for compliance that all nations revise their emission reduction targets every five years. Hollande said this was a "historical" step forward, and one of the positive signals made by China, the world's largest emitter. In particular, he said, China should take on the responsibility to convince the developing world to take part in the mitigation and adaptation. "China has significant influence upon emerging-market countries and the developing countries," Hollande said. As China still sees itself as a developing country, performing the duty would set a benchmark, the French president said, blaming the failure of the 2009 talks on some developing countries' refusal to accept reduction targets. ^ top ^

China, US keep in contact despite rising tension in the South China Sea (SCMP)
2015-11-04
Despite growing tensions over the South China Sea, Beijing and Washington are keeping their lines of communication open, with US Pacific Command chief Admiral Harry Harris and former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger making trips to the Chinese capital. Defence Minister General Chang Wanquan and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter also held talks on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur ahead of the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting in the Malaysian city on Wednesday. Chang said China needed to defend its sovereign territory and there was a bottom line to this, a senior US official recounted. Chang said China's activities in the South China Sea were primarily of benefit to other nations. Disputes over the troubled waters are likely to be raised at the Asean meeting but the US and Japan are not expected to succeed in their push to have a statement from the meeting saying the issues are a major concern. In Beijing yesterday, Harris said the US military would continue to operate wherever international law allowed. "We've been conducting freedom-of-navigation operations all over the world for decades, so no one should be surprised by them," Harris said at a Beijing university, in comments released by the US military. "I truly believe that these routine operations should never be construed as a threat to any nation." Harris' remark came after a Pentagon official said the US Navy planned to conduct regular patrols within 12 nautical miles of China's artificial islands in the South China Sea. The patrols would take place about twice every three months to remind China and other countries about US rights under international law, an American official said. The Wall Street Journal reported that one of the so-called freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea each quarter would be "inside" the Spratly chain. The plans were seen as an extension of the USS Lassen's patrol last week near two artificial islands China has built in the Spratly archipelago. Beijing described the patrol as a serious provocative move to challenge the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit it claims around those islands. In Kuala Lumpur, a joint declaration is expected on Thursday from a meeting between Southeast Asian defence ministers and their counterparts from Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the US. But a draft joint statement being prepared by host Malaysia makes no mention of the South China Sea, according to a source familiar with the discussions. Read more: US, Japan press for statement expressing concerns over disputes in South China Sea at regional defence meeting This is despite concerns among some members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations about the build-up of Chinese and American warships in the disputed waters. Analysts said that even though the US vowed to conduct more patrols, China and the US would try to play down their differences. "Beijing and Washington have reached a consensus to not let their disagreements over the South China Sea lead to any conflict between their forces," Beijing-based retired PLA major general Xu Guangyu said. […] In a sign that shows the continuation of communication between the two nations, President Xi Jinping met a US delegation led by Kissinger on Monday, according to Xinhua. The delegation is in Beijing as part of a gathering of dozens of prominent retired diplomats and officials from both countries. […] ^ top ^

South Korea and Japan discuss South China Sea as trilateral summit with China draws to close (SCMP)
2015-11-02
As Premier Li Keqiang was calling for greater cooperation between young Chinese and Korean entrepreneurs on the final day of his trilateral summit to South Korea the leaders of the host nation and Japan held “constructive” talks about the South China Sea. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raised the South China Sea issue with President Park Geun-hye during a meeting in Seoul on Monday – the first official bilateral summit between the two for more than three years, said Yasuhisa Kawamura, press secretary of Japan's foreign affairs ministry. “The discussion was constructive on the South China Sea [issue],” said Kawamura, without giving details about what was said by the two leaders. “Japan's basic stance on this issue is that …Japan would like to cooperate with the US and South Korea.. in order to preserve an open, liberal, and peaceful ocean,” Kawamura said. Kawamura added that Japan supported the US Navy's sail-by in the disputed waters last week because the move was “in accordance with international law” and the current condition of the South China Sea was a common concern of the international society. His remarks came as Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of US forces in the Pacific, was due to meet Chinese defence officials in Beijing this week during an official visit. Harris is one of the senior officers in charge of the warship USS Lassen, which sparked a rebuke from Beijing after sailing within 12-nautical-miles (22km) of two artificial islands, Mischief and Subi reefs, built by China in the disputed Spratly Islands on October 27. Abe and Park met for one hour and 45 minutes in the Blue House, which included a meeting involving a limited number of high-ranking officials, plus a second larger session, said Kawamura. The South China Sea issue had been raised during the second session, he added. A “substantial proportion” of the talks focused on the matter of so called “comfort women” – including Koreans who were forced to work in wartime military brothels for the Imperial Japanese Army – Kawamura said. Such women are euphemistically known as “comfort women” in Japan. Bilateral ties between the nations have soured because the two governments have failed to reconcile their differences over their wartime history, with the Japanese government failing to meet Korean comfort women's demands for compensation and an apology. Abe accepted that the issue of comfort women had frayed the bilateral relations. Both leaders agreed to speed up director-general-level discussions on the matter with the aim of reaching a conclusion “at an early date”, said the official. […] South Korea has been wary to avoid taking sides in the China-US dispute, saying only that all parties involved should be restrained from actions that could increase tensions. ^ top ^

China's support on climate change 'essential', says French President François Hollande (SCMP)
2015-11-02
French President François Hollande said on Monday that Chinese support was “essential” to reaching an effective deal at the forthcoming climate change conference in Paris, as he began a visit to the Asian giant. Hollande said while in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing that he was seeking “a global and ambitious agreement that will allow global warming to be limited to two degrees”. “The support of the Chinese is essential.” He added: “The fight against global warming is a humanitarian issue – how the planet can be preserved – and it is also an issue of considerable economic importance, of what we call ‘green growth'.” China is the world's largest polluter and will be a key player at the UN conference, which starts on November 30, in the face of disputes over whether developed or developing countries should bear more of the burden for reducing emissions. Talks have largely stalled over the mechanism for following up on commitments by the 195 attending countries: France is calling for a “legally binding” mechanism with a review every five years, while China has ruled out any kind of punitive system. Beijing, which was blamed for scuppering a 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen, has already promised that its carbon dioxide emissions will peak “by around 2030” in a symbolic announcement in June. The French president's trip comes hot on the heels of a similar visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was in China last week hoping to drum up business, which followed President Xi Jinping's state visits to both Britain and the US in the past two months. Several major EU countries including Germany, France and Britain are wooing China in the hope of winning business and becoming hubs for the growing overseas trade of its yuan currency. Hollande is accompanied by around 40 heads of French firms and a number of ministers, visited a Sino-French water treatment company in Chongqing to highlight cooperation in green growth industries. ^ top ^

Armed Chinese fighter jets train over disputed waters in South China Sea in fresh response to United States sail-by (SCMP)
2015-11-02
China's military released photos of navy planes training with missiles in the South China Sea, a move experts say is aimed at protesting the patrol of a US warship in waters Beijing claims to have sovereignty over. The photos, released by the navy's official website on Saturday, showed fighter jets training while armed with missiles. The jets belonged to the South Sea Fleet and the training was carried out from an airstrip in the South China Sea, it said. The navy did not name the airstrip, but military experts said it was on Woody Island in the Paracels. They also said the exercise was Beijing's latest response to the US guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen sailing within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef last Tuesday. Subi Reef - located 600km from Woody Island - is one of seven reefs and rocks in the Spratlys chain on which China has built artificial islands. "Both the defence ministry and foreign ministry have said China would have answers when its sea rights were breached. Such statements need to be followed by real actions," retired Chinese general Xu Guangyu said. "It's a signal China sent to the US that it is serious about its claims. This is the minimum level of response China should have, or it will fail the expectation of its people." Xu believed the training was done on Woody Island, since it was the only airstrip ready for use in the South China Sea, despite a handful of runways under construction. In 2012, China set up the Sansha municipal government on Woody Island, nearly 300km off the coast of Hainan, in a move to further assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea. The municipal government oversees all islands China claims sovereignty over in the region. "China will spare no effort to make assertive gestures, as long as they don't touch the bottom line of military conflicts," military expert Ni Lexiong said. "It's also a warning for US allies in the region, including Australia and Japan. They might follow the example set by the US." US Defence Secretary Ash Carter yesterday said disputes over territory in the South China Sea were causing countries in the region to increase their demand for an American security presence. "The attention to disputed claims in the South China Sea, the prominence of those disputes, is having the effect of causing many countries in the region to want to intensify their security cooperation with the United States," Carter said as he travelled to South Korea. Carter said discussions at an upcoming defence summit in Malaysia would include developments in the South China Sea, "the most notable of which in the last year has been the unprecedented rate of dredging and military activity by China". ^ top ^

Human rights being trampled on under Xi, activists tell Germany's Merkel in Beijing meeting (SCMP)
2015-10-31
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with nine human rights activists and political dissidents during her trip to China, risking the ire of her hosts even as she seeks to cement economic and trade ties with the world's second-biggest economy. Merkel met a group of human rights lawyers, writers and bloggers at the German Embassy in Beijing on Thursday evening, a government official said on the condition of anonymity because the meetings were private. The activists told Merkel that the human-rights situation in China had worsened since President Xi Jinping came to power in November 2012, the official said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses with sports students of the Jinputao school in Xinnacun village in the Baohe district of Hefei, China. Photo: AP Merkel is on a two-day visit to China that's focused on cementing trade ties during which she met Xi. Merkel's decision to meet the activists contrasts to the approach taken by U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who during a September visit to China, signalled Britain would refrain from criticism on human rights and not engage in “megaphone diplomacy.” The U.K. is rebuilding ties with China after Prime Minister David Cameron's 2012 meeting with the Dalai Lama triggered a diplomatic freeze. Cameron hosted Xi for a state visit this month, when he addressed the House of Commons and lodged at Buckingham Palace. He announced more than 30 billion pounds ($46 billion) of investment deals during his stay. Under Xi, China has carried out a nationwide crackdown on dissent and targeted dozens of human rights activists for arrest and harassment, Amnesty International said in July. The same month China's parliament passed a sweeping national security law vowing to “defend the people's democratic dictatorship” and preserve “social tranquility.” ^ top ^

Germany's Angela Merkel backs more favourable ‘market economy status' for China – with certain conditions (SCMP)
2015-10-30
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany, in principle, favoured granting China “market economy status” – a shift that would make it harder for the EU to protect local industry from Chinese competition – but said Beijing still had work to do. The European Union and other World Trade Organisation (WTO) members need to decide whether to grant China “market economy status” (MES) at the end of next year. The WTO recognised when Communist China joined the body in 2001 that local prices were not set by market forces, but expected that 15 years later Beijing would play less of a role in directing the economy. During her two-day visit to China, Merkel said yesterdat that China still had to some work to do before it could be granted MES and the status would also be subject to checks by the European Commission. “Germany supports, in general, China's claim to get the market economy status. At the same time China has to do some homework, for example in the area of public procurement,” Merkel said while visiting Hefei, in Anhui province. “But we want to advance the process – as we want to do that with the EU-China investment agreement,” she added. At a Sino-German business congress in Hefei, Merkel called for better protection of the steel and solar industries against unfair international competition, a complaint some manufacturers make against China. Merkel said the steel sector needed “a certain amount of market protection” as steelmakers have pointed out that environmental regulations differ from country to country, impacting cost advantages. “I also hope that we can extend the rules already in place in the solar energy sector,” she added. China makes 1.6 billion tonnes of steel a year – nearly half the world's output – and experts estimate its mills have about 300 million tonnes worth of excess steelmaking capacity. Premier Li Keqiang, speaking during an appearance with Merkel in Hefei, said Germany and China wanted to come to an agreement by 2016 to stop computer-based industrial espionage. Merkel had said on Thursday that Germany wanted both sides to agree to abstain from industrial espionage. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Despite legal victories, sexism remains common at workplace (Global Times)
2015-11-05
A woman recently came to public attention for winning a gender discrimination case after being denied a delivery driver position. However, the problems facing women looking to enter the workforce are unlikely to change any time soon. Ma Hu's (an assumed name) application was rejected by the Beijing branch of Express Mail Service in October 2014, as they allegedly claimed they had never hired a female driver before and that an industrial law forbids a woman from carrying heavy packages. Shunyi district court in Beijing ruled against the company on October 20, pointing out that the company could not prove that Ma would have had to carry heavy packages regularly and awarded Ma 2,000 yuan ($315). […] Most companies admit they have difficulty with female employees, and their biggest concerns are losses when female workers take maternity leave, according to research by the All-China Women's Federation in 2009. However, such losses should be shouldered by the government, not employees, Lü Xiaoquan, a lawyer from Beijing Zhongze Women's Legal Consultant & Service Center, told the Global Times. In recent years, only four women in China have taken a stand and taken gender discrimination cases to court. "It takes time and courage, but many people are there to help, including me,"said Cao Ju (pseudonym), known as the first woman to sue a company for gender discrimination in China. Ma said that during her two-day trial period with the company her postman colleagues said they have never seen a postwoman before. However, Ma's performance convinced the district manager of the company to make her a job offer, which was blocked by the head office. It takes a longer time for women to deliver packages, especially heavy ones, which leads to customers complaining, and many female delivers resign quickly due to the physical strain, claimed delivery drivers reached by the Global Times. "But they surely deserve a chance if they want to have a try,"one added. […] Huang Rong (pseudonym) was denied a copy-writing position at a school on the grounds of her gender in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province. The school explained that it was cheaper and more convenient for them to hire a man, as the copy-writer would need to accompany their headmasters on business trips, all of whom are male, Huang Rong told the Global Times. Huang and Ma won their cases and both received 2,000 yuan, Cao received 30,000 yuan, while the fourth female plaintiff, Gao is still waiting for a verdict. Employers should choose applicants according to their individual capabilities instead of their gender, and if the job involves heavy labor, employers should test applicant's fitness, said the lawyer Huang Yizhi. According to regulations issued by the State Council in 2012, female workers are forbidden to work in certain physically-intensive jobs, such as mining, and their work hours and load should be limited if they are menstruating, pregnant or lactating. However, the more "protective" laws are created for women, the more employers will perceive female employees as a burden, Huang Yizhi argued. The mindset of legislation should shift from viewing females as a vulnerable group that need protection to respecting them as ordinary individuals that deserve legitimate rights, echoed Lü. What's more, there is currently no legal definition of "gender discrimination" in China, which makes stamping it out very tricky, though China was one of the first signatories to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which has a clear-cut definition on discrimination against women. ^ top ^

Deadline set for hukou revisions (China Daily)
2015-11-05
All provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China will issue plans for the reform of hukou, or household registration, system before the end of this year in a move to promote a reasonable flow of the country's rural population to urban areas and allow them to enjoy equal rights with city dwellers. "Urbanization is a major topic for developing countries, and allowing more migrant workers to become urban residents is a core target for urbanization," Xu Shaoshi, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a news conference hosted by the State Council Information Office. With the cancellation of differences in household registration, Chinese migrant workers will "have access to more public services and enjoy equal rights, including education, career opportunities, medical care, pensions and housing with urban residents across the country", he said. According to Xu, 25 provincial-level entities have introduced hukou reform plans, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong. Other provinces and regions are researching the details and will release them in December. "Local governments will set different household registration thresholds based on their ability to absorb migrant workers and scientifically control people's flow to big cities," said Wu Xianjiang, professor of public order at People's Public Security University of China. Major cities like Shanghai will tighten their management of the flow of people, including with such methods as a point system based on applicants' living and employment conditions, as opposed to some small cities that will lower their thresholds for attracting rural migrants, he said. Xu said that the hukou reform plans will expand migration channels and allow more willing and capable workers to settle in the cities. In addition, the central and local governments will attach great importance to the key issues of speeding up spending, arranging land for city and township construction and increasing infrastructure investments to satisfy the strong expected demand that will come with large numbers flowing to the cities, he said. Since the 1950s, the dual system has divided people into urban and agricultural households, a system under which migrant workers - unlike urban residents - had no access to public resources such as education, medical care and housing. That aroused dissatisfaction about unequal treatment of rural people and city dwellers. Figures provided by the Ministry of Public Security show that there were 749 million permanent residents in the cities last year, including 250 million migrant workers who lived in the cities for more than six months. In a recent proposal for China's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), the nation will deepen hukou reform to allow migrant workers with stable work and skills to settle down in cities with their families and enjoy the same rights of city dwellers. The central government has issued a guideline to phase out the old system, saying the country will set up a modern household registration management system, and a mobile rural population of 100 million people will settle in urban cities alongside city households. ^ top ^

Chinese feminist's online criticism of mainland's family planning policy goes viral: demands for paternity leave, financial support (Society)
2015-11-05
A Chinese feminist's online criticism of the mainland's future family planning policy, which will allow couples to have two children, has gone viral on mainland social media. The microblogger on the Weibo website living in the city of Wuxi, in Jiangsu province – identified only as yangxue800226 – posted a comment on Sunday saying that the Chinese government had not provided a good environment for women to give birth. She also said further policy changes were needed before permitting Chinese couples to have two children. Yangxue800226 suggested introducing changes such as requiring husbands to take paternity leave and having the country pay 50 per cent of the salary and benefits that women were entitled to have while on maternity leave. Her comments have been shared 25,000 times and attracted 13,000 likes and 4,000 comments. Replies to her post have supported her ideas. The plan to end the one-child policy – introduced in 1980 – was approved by the fifth plenum of the Communist Party's 18th Central Committee last Thursday – a decision reported by Xinhua on Tuesday. However, there will be a transition period during which the one-child policy will continue to be enforced until the law has been officially changed. The move comes two years after the authorities began allowing couples in which one parent is an only child to have a second child. The National Health and Family Planning Commission said last Friday that about 90 million couples would be eligible for the two-child policy, which would help cope with an ageing population and weakening traditional family support. A top comment, posted by a user named zhenzhen1027, said: “I think letting men have maternity leave is a good idea; that way, employers won't look down upon female workers and fathers can have greater participation in raising their child.” Another user, fansu233, commented: “Five to 10 years later, when those of you who had higher education become leaders of society, don't forget the passion [for women's rights] you have now – bring about change. “Women bosses give other women more job opportunities, women principals don't favour boys when recruiting students. All these [changes] rely on us.” ^ top ^

China questions dissident who wrote on mass demolition of crosses atop Zhejiang's churches (SCMP)
2015-11-04
A Chinese dissident writer who wrote extensively about the mass demolition of crosses atop churches in Zhejiang province was questioned on Tuesday on suspicion of “inciting subversion of the state”, a friend confirmed. Zan Aizong was on Tuesday taken away briefly and his house raided, according to Zan's friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity. According to the friend, Zan said in a social media post that police had also seized his computer and cellphone. Zan, a Zhejiang-based writer and a member of the Chinese Independent Pen Centre, has been vocal on various human rights issues in China, ranging from the jailing of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo to the massive campaign to demolish crucifixes affixed atop Zhejiang's churches. A Christian and a former journalist, Zan has written extensively on China's house churches – unregistered churches deemed illegal by the state – and urged the government to recognise such churches. The Zhejiang government last year targeted thousands of churches in Wenzhou, known by some as China's Jerusalem, in a massive campaign in the name of “demolishing illegal construction”. China Aid, a religious rights group based in the United States, has counted more than 360 crosses and one church demolished in the province from January to July last year. Police have detained people against the move, including church members and prominent human rights lawyer Zhang Kai, who provided legal counsel for churches in their resistance to the campaign. ^ top ^

Snapshot of China's five-year plan as details revealed of blueprint for nation's development (SCMP)
2015-11-04
China's government has released full details of proposals for the country's social and economic policies for the next five years. A communiqué published by the state-run news agency Xinhua follows a meeting last week of senior members of the Communist Party to discuss the next five-year plan. The proposals include: Finance •Speeding up reforms of the financial system and improving the way it serves China's economy. •Developing an open, transparent and healthy capital market. Continue reforms of the system for issuing and trading stocks and bonds. Ensure the renminbi steadily achieves capital account convertibility. •Join the IMF's basket of reserve currencies and make it become an exchangeable and freely usable currency. Ideology •Strengthen ideological and cultural initiatives online. Cultivate a positive culture on the internet and “cleanse” its environment. Defence •Complete reforms for national defence and the armed forces by 2020. Significant progress should also be made on mechanisation and automation in the armed forces and the use of information technology to build a modern Chinese military system. Environment •Support green and clean production. Continue transforming traditional manufacturing. Develop green financing systems and create green development funds. •Create a national real-time online system for monitoring the environment. •Ban replanting large natural trees in cities. •Ban commercial logging in natural forests •Introduce a strict water resource management system under which the government will draw up reasonable water prices and monitor supplies of underground water. Internet •Help drive the growth of the economy through the use of the internet. Improve internet speeds and decrease fees for going online. Education •Increase the decision-making power of higher education colleges and scientific research institutes. •Establish a modern, vocational education system in which schools form partnerships with businesses and enterprises. Encourage some universities and colleges to become more pragmatic and career-oriented. Rural Development •Cultivate a new class of professional people among farmers and people living in rural areas. Deepen land reform in rural areas. Poverty • Increase investment in poverty reduction from central and provincial governments. Create new financing channels to help reduce poverty. Insurance • Reduce social insurance fees. Pensions •Establish a system of reasonable basic pensions. Expand the channels for using social insurance funds and strengthen risk management and improve returns on investments. Retirement •Gradually increase the share of profits from state-owned enterprises that is paid into the public purse to support social security. Introduce policies to gradually raise the retirement age. Establish career and business annuities as well as commercial endowment insurance. Health •Roll out medical insurance for urban and rural households to cover serious illnesses. Reform payment methods for medical insurance. Medical system •Push on with comprehensive reform of public hospitals. Encourage the private sector to expand health care services. Treat non-profit private hospitals and public hospitals equally. Family planning •Allow every couple to have two children. Population •Establish a national population database and related real-name registration systems. Energy •Build more urban public transport and flood control infrastructure. Transport •Promote new-energy vehicles and manufacturing of electric bikes. ^ top ^

Under new crackdown, sending packages now requires an ID card (Global Times)
2015-11-03
China's State post bureau announced on Monday that it will start a nationwide campaign to crack down on illegal activities by enforcing real-name registration for senders. Starting Monday, the campaign launched by the State Post Bureau of China (SPB), which manages both post offices and private delivery companies, will conduct inspections and implement new rules, in a crackdown that will run until March 2016. The nation's new rules, which took effect on Sunday, require senders to present official ID, especially when sending from a public place, such as hotels or train stations. The rules also stipulate that packages should go through an X-ray machine for a security check. China began to mull a real-name registration policy in the industry after parcels tainted with toxic chemicals killed a man in East China's Shandong Province and poisoned seven others in December 2013. A staff member surnamed Chen working in a post office in Hohhot in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region told the Global Times that senders must take their original ID card to the post office, and showing a photo of their ID card is not acceptable. "The couriers will scan and record your ID information. Senders don't need to worry about personal information being secure. There will be follow-up measures to guarantee the safety of senders' information. For instance, there will be specially-assigned personnel to keep and manage all this information," Chen said. However, many Net users still expressed concern over the leak of personal information in real-name registration. Zhu Hong, an associate professor at the Ningbo Institute of Technology under Zhejiang University, told the Global Times in a previous interview that whether the real-name registration system would hold back packages containing illegal or hazardous goods is not clear. "We can trace the senders now with phone numbers. Registering ID cards might only speed up the process a bit," Zhu said. ^ top ^

Mind the gap: narrowing income divide key to realising Xi Jinping's 'Chinese dream' (SCMP)
2015-10-02
President Xi Jinping's main political agenda to realise the "Chinese dream" will be at stake if his government fails to implement his social policy to narrow social inequality in the next five years, according to analysts. In a document released late last week on the draft 13th five-year plan, the Communist Party's leadership said the focus would be on increasing overall living standards and promoting social welfare. Economists said the policy was an effort to develop a consumption-driven economy, which until recently had relied heavily on the unsustainable model of state-led capital investment and exports to drive growth. "It is the biggest campaign to promote social equality and narrow the income gap since the start of reforms in the early 1980s," said Ma Guoxian, a political economist at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. Ma said the campaign would be a crucial effort by Xi who had put social equality before economic growth in his political agenda. "President Xi's whole political agenda of the Chinese dream and his legacy will entirely based on whether the government can successfully implement his social policy," Ma said. Huang Wenzheng, a demographer and visiting scholar at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management, said the campaign was also an effort to transform the economy away from its over-reliance on state-led infrastructure investment and exports to one mainly driven by domestic consumption. "Through improving social security and promoting social welfare, the government hopes to boost private consumption so that people have to save less and can spend more," Huang said. Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS Securities Asia, said the new five-year plan would target an increase in consumption's share of GDP, supported by policies to promote employment and wage growth, expand social welfare, and further develop the services sector. Decades of capitalistic market economic reforms have resulted in a high degree of income inequality. Xi's Chinese dream aims in part to redress this with its overall goals of "reclaiming national pride" and improving personal well-being. In a communiqué released after last week's closed-door gathering of the party's Central Committee, leaders said the main focus of the next five-year plan would be to promote the overall development of the people and improve social welfare. The plan runs from next year until 2020, when leaders also aim to have doubled the size of the country's GDP and per capita income from 2010 levels in its push to make China a "relatively prosperous society". Wang said the new five-year plan appeared to put greater emphasis on equality, poverty reduction and social welfare, with its targets to lift 70 million people out of poverty by 2020. The party hopes to achieve this with a better minimum wage system, free secondary education for poor children and an expanded social safety net, including expanding pension and serious illness insurance coverage to the whole population. ^ top ^

China's top family planning body says one-child rule must be enforced until new law is passed (SCMP)
2015-11-02
The national birth control agency has lashed out a local subsidiary's decision not to punish couples who conceive a second child before it formally becomes legal to. The National Health and Family Planning Commission declared in a statement that local government agencies should “seriously carry out” the current population law to “maintain good birth order” until the newly announced policy was amended by the National People's Congress, the top legislature. Last Thursday, the ruling Communist Party announced at its fifth plenary that it would end the controversial one-child policy introduced in 1980. All couples will now be allowed to have two children, but it will still be months before the policy change takes effect. The new policy cannot be implemented until the National People's Congress Standing Committee amends the Population and Family Planning Law. Each province will then draft its own implementation plan for local people's congresses to approve and change their family planning laws, usually in the first quarter when they hold their annual sessions. It is up to provincial authorities whether to punish couples who have an extra child in the transition period. Earlier, Zhan Ming, party secretary of the Hunan Health and Family Planning Commission, told the Beijing News that his province would not harshly penalise those who gave birth to a second child after the fifth plenum ended but before the policy was implemented. Despite the national commission's decree, family planning policy is implemented at the provincial level. The different provinces have taken different stances on when the new populations laws should be introduced in practice, as was the case when the central party leadership decided in November, 2013, to allow couples where one parent was a single child to have two children. Anhui province, for example, did not punish couples who would be eligible under the new policy but gave birth before the province officially amended the law. But some other provinces strictly carried out the policy and punished those who had a child in the transition period. The policy change is seen as vital to correcting the affects of a rapidly ageing society and population structure that was grossly skewed in favour of boys. Wang Peian, the commission's deputy director, said the two-child policy would boost the labour force by about 30 million by 2050, helping to stablise economic growth. But, China Business News said expectations might not be easily realised and the policy would only have a limited impact on how many children couples chose to have. Hu Lan, president of hospital investment firm AMCARE Corporation, said the number of births dropped 10 per cent in its private hospitals and 13 per cent at a leading women and children's hospital in Shanghai in the first nine months. ^ top ^

Criminal Law amended to combat terrorist activities (China Daily)
2015-11-02
Five new charges related to terrorism have been added to the Criminal Law in China and took effect on Sunday. The charges-the ninth amendment to this law-have been introduced after top legislators discussed terrorist attacks carried out nationwide in recent years. The new charges are: Preparing a terrorist attack, inciting terrorism, using extremism to break the law, wearing clothing or logos associated with religious extremism, and illegally possessing goods to carry out terrorist activities. Ruan Chuansheng, a criminal lawyer in Shanghai, said the additional charges reflect lawmakers' determination to combat terrorist attacks at the planning stage. "The new charges are a sign that the Criminal Law has become tougher for terrorists and that the fight has moved forward to prevention from cracking down," Ruan said. "It's good to highlight prevention, because it is the core of the legislation. "The amendments concerning clothing and preparation will help to target related crackdowns and show that our legislators have reacted quickly to public concern," the criminal lawyer said. Ma Pinyan, a researcher at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, applauded the new charges, saying they will be help with work to combat terrorism in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The region, home to more than 51 percent of China's Muslim population, has seen several terrorist attacks in recent years, which have spread to other areas of the country. To combat religious extremism in accordance with the law, Xinjiang authorities passed a revised regulation on religious affairs, which took effect in January. This banned people from wearing or forcing others to wear clothing or logos associated with such extremism. But Ma said this local regulation was far from sufficient as administrative methods, such as education, to combat extremists in the past had not worked well. "The key to fighting terrorist attacks is to root the extremists out, so I'm glad to see the revised Criminal Law has highlighted this. The law also provides us with the legal basis to fight extremists, and I believe it will be more effective," he said. ^ top ^

Male rape now a crime after law amended (Global Times)
2015-11-01
Committing sexual assault on men, which was not previously listed as a specific offense under Chinese law, is now a crime after an amendment to the Criminal Law took effect on Sunday. The amendment, adopted by the top legislature in August, stipulates that indecent assault on others, men or women, now carries a maximum sentence of five years behind bars. In the former law, the clause "others" was "women." Up until now, it was difficult to file cases involving male sexual assault In 2010, a security guard sexually abused his male colleague in the employee dormitory. Instead of being charged with sexual assault, the offender was convicted of the lesser charge of intentional injury and sentenced to 12 months in prison. In a case in Luzhou, Southwest China's Sichuan Province last year, a man was robbed and raped by another man. The attacker was never charged with sexual assault, according to media reports. In addition, the revised law repealed the crime of sex with underage prostitutes and reclassified it as rape. Under the previous law, people who have sex with prostitutes less than 14 years old face a maximum of 15 years in prison, while those convicted of raping a child may face the death sentence. ^ top ^

NPC considers law aimed at charity transparency (Xinhua)
2015-10-30
China's top legislature on Friday considered a draft of the country's first charity law, which aims to regulate charities and protect the interests of donors, beneficiaries and volunteers. With the development of philanthropy in China, new problems have emerged in the sector, said Wang Shengming, deputy director of the Committee for Internal and Judicial Affairs of the National People's Congress, while briefing lawmakers at the opening of the top legislature's five-day bimonthly session. Wang told lawmakers a charity law was needed to "boost the vitality of charity organizations and raise awareness of social causes, regulate charity behavior and promote the healthy development of philanthropy." Donations to charity in China have risen from less than 10 billion yuan (1.57 billion U.S. dollars) in 2005 to about 100 billion yuan today, according to Wang. The draft, with 115 articles, says charity organizations should publicize clear information on their operations in order to ensure transparency and credibility. "Charity organizations should disclose their fundraising at least once every three months," the draft says. The reputation of Chinese charities took a hit in 2011 when a woman used social media to claim she managed an organization under the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) and flaunted her wealth and extravagant lifestyle. The incident and ensuing scandals triggered public concern about embezzlement and improper management of charities. The scandal also dealt a major blow to the reputation of the state-owned RCSC and caused a massive drop in donations. The draft law also guarantees volunteers' rights and ensures that charity groups, donors and beneficiaries enjoy taxation favors. It says charity organizations should strengthen internal governance and implement a standard national accounting system. The draft has special stipulations on online fundraising to avoid cyber fraud. Earlier this month, in east China's Anhui Province, Li Juan was seriously bitten by a dog in a kennel owned by her boyfriend, Zhang Hongyu. However, Zhang falsely claimed on the Internet that Li was hurt when trying to save a girl from dogs and raised about 800,000 yuan in donations. Later, media investigations exposed the fraud and police detained Zhang. China had nearly 3,000 registered foundations -- nonprofit groups that manage charitable donations -- as of the end of 2012, up nearly 16 percent year on year, according to official figures. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Diseased meat seized in Guangdong (China Daily)
2015-11-03
Guangdong's police force and the provincial food and drug supervisor are stepping up efforts to crack down on food safety crimes, especially those related to unsafe meat and illegal food additives. During a special action targeting unsafe meat from April to September, 230 criminal cases were solved and 378 suspects were arrested, more than doubling the numbers last year in both categories, according to Peng Hui, deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department. Crashing 155 locations, officers seized more than 60 tons of diseased dead pigs, more than 250 tons of unsafe meat and meat products and 425 tons of frozen meat of unknown origin — possibly smuggled. "The special action has effectively contained the crimes of producing and selling unsafe meat and meat products. But we need to continue the fight, otherwise the big threat to public health will rise again," Peng said at a news conference in Guangzhou on Tuesday. A special action targeting at illegal food additives was launched in October and will last until March, he added. President Xi Jinping demanded strengthened supervision on food and drug safety at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in May, raising the "four strictest" benchmark for food safety — strictest standards, strictest supervision, strictest punishment and strictest accountability. Su Shengfeng, chief inspector at the Guangdong Food and Drug Administration, said the battle against food safety crimes is a prolonged one and asked for more tipoffs from the public. "People with poor awareness of the law are lured by huge profits to produce, smuggle and sell foods that are of shoddy quality or even pose threats to public health, which is why it is difficult to eradicate food safety crimes," Su said at the news conference. "Besides the special crackdowns as deterrents, we increase the cost of breaking the law by putting offenders on a black list and exposing them to the public." Su added that the government plans to increase rewards for public tipoffs, as it is difficult to rely solely on officers to detect the secret locations — usually concealed on the urban fringe in secluded rental housing — where unsafe foods are processed. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetan cultural exchange delegation visits Britain (Xinhua)
2015-11-01
A visiting Tibetan cultural exchange delegation on Saturday wrapped up their four-day visit in Britain, during which the delegates had a wide range of engagements with British officials, scholars and the public. "We are the first Tibetan delegation to arrive in Britain in the wake of Chinese President Xi Jinping's successful state visit last week," said Wang Nengsheng, head of the delegation. The delegates from Tibet held a wide variety of in-depth talks and discussions with British people from different walks of life, helping the latter better understand Tibet's development and progress in areas of economy, society, culture, religion, environment and ecology since the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region 50 years ago, Wang said in a press briefing in London. During their stay in Britain, the delegates met with Asia House CEO Michael Lawrence, the 48 Group Club's Deputy Chairman Keith Bennett, the Economist's China Editor James Miles, Chairman of the London Chinatown Chinese Association Chu Ting Tang, and representatives from British Chinese media organizations. The delegates briefed the British people on current affairs in Tibet, including its economic development, social progress, religious and ethnic affairs, as well as its cultural and ecological preservation. "The Chinese central government has long attached huge importance to the environmental and ecological preservation in Tibet, and through various support and protection programs, Tibetan people's livelihood has also greatly improved," said Pubu Danba, director of the Environmental Protection Office, Bureau of Environmental Protection of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Lobsang Norbu, another delegate, said the religious freedoms in Tibet have been very well respected and protected. "In the past three decades, our country has put a lot of investment in renovating and preserving the religious venues in Tibet, which not only protects the interests of religious people, but also helps carry forward the fine traditional culture in Tibet," added Norbu, who is also deputy director of the Office of Religious Affairs of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The delegation also visited Tibetan expatriates living in Britain, and introduced to them the latest developments in Tibet. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Party boots out Xinjiang editor (Global Times)
2015-11-03
An editor-in-chief of a State-run newspaper in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was expelled from the Party and the post for making "groundless comments" on the nation's major decisions, making him the first Party member punished under new Party rules. Zhao Xinwei, the editor-in-chief of the Urumqi-based Xinjiang Daily, was punished for severely violating political disciplines and rules, said an announcement on the website of Xinjiang's discipline inspection commission on Sunday. Zhao allegedly made "groundless remarks" on some major decisions. He has also published opinions that go against central and local authorities' decisions and acted intentionally against decisions from the central and local CPC commission. A probe from the commission found Zhao's deeds and words were not in accordance with the central and local Party on significant issues including ethnic separatism, terrorism and religious extremism, the announcement said. Cai Zhiqiang, a professor with the Party School of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, told the Global Times that the punishment showed the determination of the CPC to operate with strict discipline and also a zero tolerance attitude on discipline violations. Such decisions and policies are especially significant in Xinjiang, and as a senior official in the media sector, Zhao shouldn't have made public comments recklessly, added Cai. "It is the requirement from Party discipline that Party members should spare no effort to carry out major decisions." The new Party rules issued on October 21 stipulate that punishment will be imposed on those who irresponsibly make comments about national policies that are damaging to Party unity online or in publications and at seminars. Serious violators will be expelled from the Party. Party members who take the liberty to decide or publicly comment on issues that they have no place to, such as issues that should be decided by the CPC Central Committee, will also be subject to punishment, said the regulation. "The fast and effective implementation of Party decisions needs unity and conformity among Party members, whose voices will be heard and collected via multiple channels before major decisions are made," said Ma Senshu, an official of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) during an online interview of CCDI's website on Monday. Some Party members kept silent when asked for suggestions but blathered secretly and after decisions were made, which can bring damage to the Party's unity and also hinder the implementation of Party decisions, Ma said. However, the regulation does not mean that dissenting voices in the Party will be stifled, said Deng Lianfan, an anti-graft expert with the Law Society of Hunan Province. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Legco no-show: anti-bribery debate abandoned because not enough Hong Kong lawmakers show up (SCMP)
2015-11-06
Radical pan-democrat lawmakers forced the legislature to adjourn its meeting yesterday with their repeated calls for quorum counts, which they said was "in revenge" for a decision to curb their filibustering attempts in the Finance Committee. The retaliatory action claimed a rare victim, as Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing was among those absent from the chamber when the 15-minute quorum bell finished ringing. He was discussing some documents and work arrangements with an assistant when the meeting ended because only 34 lawmakers were present - one short of the minimum required. Tsang said: "Those directly responsible were the absentees, including myself … but it is not fair if we only hold them accountable. "I heard that some [lawmakers] were retaliating over the decisions made in the Finance Committee, but I hope they understand that it was Legco working time that was lost, it harmed people's respect for Legco and it damaged the interests of society and people," he added. Last Friday, pan-democrat lawmakers lambasted Finance Committee chairman Chan Kin-por's decision to slash the number of motions allowed on proposals to set up an innovation and technology bureau from more than 1,000 to just 44. Chan later said a cap would be set at 74 motions, but pan-democrats remained unhappy. Since Wednesday, the League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and People Power duo Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen have called for the quorum bell to be rung 18 times. At 11am yesterday, lawmakers finished their speeches on whether to amend the antibribery ordinance to include the chief executive, and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had just started to give her concluding speech when Leung called for a quorum count. The meeting was suspended until next Wednesday as there were only 22 pro-establishment lawmakers and 12 pan-democrats in the chamber. Leung defended his act, saying: "I cannot see any reason why the pro-establishment lawmakers cannot sit here and support the chief secretary." But Chan Kin-por suggested that the radicals were being unreasonable. "Why are we spending so much money on Legco for him to vent his emotions. Why don't we dismiss Legco and spend the money on social welfare?" he said. However, Lam was less critical of the incident. She said she was pleased to be able to attend a ground-breaking ceremony at Ocean Park. "This is my personal stance only; the government is still disappointed about the adjournment," she added. ^ top ^

Hong Kong journalists plead guilty to running illegal publication business in mainland China (SCMP)
2015-11-06
A pair of Hong Kong journalists behind two political affairs magazines have pleaded guilty to running an illegal business in Shenzhen in a case that underlines the legal risks facing reporters who straddle the border. Publisher Wang Jianmin and editor-in-chief Guo Zhongxiao appeared before Nanshan district court yesterday. Prosecutors said their company National Affairs Limited, registered in Hong Kong, had earned HK$7 million through the publication of two magazines, New-Way Monthly and Multiple Face. Both are printed in Hong Kong but copies are sent to eight people on the mainland, all friends of the publisher, the defence said. The mainland audience accounted for 66,000 yuan (HK$80,600) of total revenue, less than half the 150,000 yuan minimum needed to raise the offence to the level of running an illegal business. The prosecution wrongly counted Hong Kong revenue as part of the mainland business to make their case, lawyers argued. Wang, 62, and Guo, 40, are Hong Kong ID holders but were living in Shenzhen when arrested in May. They made weekly, sometimes daily, trips across the border. In his statement to the court, Wang said: "The trial was fair and I'm grateful for the [Communist] Party's and the government's education." Guo said: "We published unverified news and have tarnished the image of the party and the government." Editor Guo Zhongxiao. File Photo Guangdong province's print and broadcast regulator said the magazines were "illegal publications" not registered on the mainland but nevertheless sold to local readers. Wang's wife, who helped send copies of the magazines via the post, as well as a freelance contributor from Henan province also pleaded guilty to operating an illegal business before the same court. Sentencing is expected later. Mainland customs is responsible for overseeing the importation of media and regularly stops books or monthlies that touch on political topics. Chen Haisha, the defence for Wang, argued that under "one country, two systems", publications in Hong Kong should be protected by Hong Kong laws, and the two magazines were legal in Hong Kong. Li Daoyan, Guo's lawyer, argued Guo only edited the magazine and was not involved in the business. "If editing a Hong Kong magazine in Shenzhen is a crime, do all journalists on the mainland who work for overseas news organisations face the same risk?" Mainland authorities have a range of charges they can use to silence Hong Kong media outfits that attract too much notice. Hong Kong publisher Yiu Man-tin, chief editor of the Morning Bell Press, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last year. Yiu was charged with "smuggling ordinary goods". He had published a book by dissident Yu Jie titled China's Godfather, Xi Jinping. Wang joined Yazhou Zhoukan, a magazine in Hong Kong, in the mid-1990s. He left in 2007 and established New-Way Monthly in 2010 and Multiple Face two years later. ^ top ^

Hong Kong pan-democrats fear election clashes with 'umbrella activists' will split pro-democracy vote (SCMP)
2015-11-03
Four major pan-democratic parties say one-third of their 158 candidates running in this month's district council elections are facing challenges from self-proclaimed "umbrella activists" and former party members. The parties fear the clashes will split the pro-democracy vote and so hand victory to pro-establishment rivals. They said the situation was reflected in the fact that many pro-establishment candidates had turned down media invitations to speak at election forums. At a media gathering yesterday, the Democratic Party, Civic Party, Labour Party and the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood issued a list of 46 candidates facing competition from those who claim to share their democratic ideals. "These candidates clashing with us have a lot of other choices," said Democrat Sin Chung-kai, who oversees his party's campaigns. "There are a total of 431 seats, and pan-democrats are contesting less than half … Why don't they challenge the 68 uncontested seats held by the pro-Beijing camp?" The figure did not include new candidates "who have worked in the districts for a long time," Sin said. "We only counted those parachuted into the constituencies." The Democrats are fielding 95 candidates, the most among the four parties. Many candidates have refused to join a system set up among the pan-democratic parties to avoid clashes. They come from several groups including Civic Passion, which has five out of its six candidates running against Democrats. Also refusing to join were Youngspiration and a group whose Chinese name roughly translates as New Youth Group. Five candidates from other groups in clashes are former Democratic Party members. Earlier, Civic Passion leader Wong Yeung-tat said his group saw Democrats as "pro-establishment". Youngspiration said its candidates had been unaware Democrats were running in the same neighbourhoods. The four pan-democratic parties said only one of their candidates - Albert Ho Chun-yan - had had a chance to take on a pro-establishment rival face to face at a forum because so many of them had turned down media invitations to speak. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

What Taiwan's president wants out of his historic summit with Xi Jinping this weekend (SCMP)
2015-11-05
Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou was grilled by the international media on Thursday morning about his historic meeting with Xi Jinping to be held in Singapore this weekend. He was asked a variety of questions including whether he only cared about his own political legacy and was ignoring Taiwan's interests by attending the summit on Saturday. Below are some of the highlights of his press conference: His motives for attending the meeting: Ma said he did not intend the meeting to influence Taiwan's forthcoming presidential election in January and it was also not aimed at enhancing his personal political legacy. “This is not about an election, but is based on the considerations of the happiness of the next generation,” he said. “It is out of the hope of making the first step toward making exchanges between leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Strait a regular occurrence.” Will the meeting change the status quo in Taiwan and move the island towards unification with the mainland? Ma said Taiwan had no plans to change the status quo, which was the “mainstream view in Taiwan” and was backed by all three candidates in the forthcoming presidential poll. “Since maintaining the status quo is the mainstream public opinion [and is beneficial to cross-strait relations], I'll surely speak to Mr Xi about it,” he told reporters. He reiterated that “status quo” meant “no independence, no unification, no use of force” and insisted that the mainland and Taiwan reserved the right to define in their own ways how to define the “One-China” principle. What will be discussed during the Singapore meeting? Ma said he would raise how to reduce hostility between the two sides and how to increase Taiwan's role around the world. “Taiwan has for quite some time encountered no small amount of trouble participating in international events and we frequently hear from the public about this, especially non-governmental organisations,” he said. “Therefore at this Ma-Xi meeting we will raise the issue and hope to come to some agreement about it and allow Taiwan to have an expanded international space.” Ma said they may also discuss a cross-strait trade agreement. What is not on the agenda? Territorial disputes in the South China Sea Why hold the meeting now? Ma said the timing was a result of negotiations, as the two leaders were “very busy”. “Originally I wanted to meet him at Apec [in Manila later this month], but since the other side does not have time there was no other option.” What was the role of the United States in the meeting? Ma said the US was told beforehand about the summit and its government responded very positively as stability in the Taiwan strait was in its interests. Ma said the US did not play any role in setting up the meeting. Do the current arrangements mean the meeting will be held in a dignified way and on an equal footing? The president said he would not mind being addressed as “mister” instead of his official title because he would only address Xi as “mister”, too. He said it would only be undignified if he called Xi by his official title, but the mainland's president did not follow suit. Ma's impressions of Xi: “I haven't met him so I don't have any impression of him. I'll let you know what I think of him after I'm back.” Will there be any secret deals made? Ma said the meeting would be transparent, with “no secret deals or promises” made. Xi and Ma will speak to the press before their meeting on Saturday afternoon and will hold press conference separately afterwards to talk about how the talks went. “We will try our best to be transparent and open and at the same time show dignity and equality,” he said. Will the dialogue between the two sides' leaders continue after a new president assumes office in Taiwan next year? Ma said it depended on the attitude and measures adopted by his successor. “We can't predict who will be president next year, but what I can do is to build the bridge in my term of office so that no matter who takes office he or she will be able to walk on the bridge and cross the river quickly,” he said. Will Ma bring his wife to Singapore? Ma said his wife would not go with him. “It is not that I don't want to bring her along. She doesn't want to go with me,” Ma said. Will he wear the national pin on his jacket as he did at Thursday's press conference? Ma said: “No, if he [Xi] wears his, then it would be embarrassing.” ^ top ^

Ma upbeat over Singapore meeting while "Taiwan independence" supporters face dilemma (Xinhua)
2015-11-05
Ma Ying-jeou, leader of Taiwan, said on Thursday he will try to improve exchange and cooperation, and reduce hostility on certain issues during his meeting with Xi Jinping in Singapore on Saturday. Ma told a press conference he hopes the meeting will be the first step of a regular arrangement in the future. "The meeting will be advantageous for the next generation," he said, adding that it was the result of improving cross-Strait relations and mutual trust in the past seven years. Since 2008, 11 rounds of cross-Strait talks have been held and 23 important agreements signed, including the lifting of bans on direct shipping, air transportation and post in 2008, and the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement in 2010. Cross-Strait interaction has progressed from talks between two non-governmental organizations to meetings between cross-Strait affairs chiefs from both sides. "We can see a pattern. We cannot rule out the possibility of higher-level mechanisms," Ma said. The ultimate purpose is to promote cross-Strait peace and prosperity, consolidate regional stability and improve people's welfare, he said. The mainland has hailed the scheduled meeting "a breakthrough" and "milestone." On Wednesday, Zhang Zhijun, the mainland's Taiwan affairs chief, noted that the decision showed both sides were willing to put aside their differences and respect each other. The meeting will be the first in 66 years since the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan after being defeated in a civil war. At the meeting, Xi and Ma, as "leaders of the two sides of the Strait," will address each other as "Mr." The Singapore meeting is in line with the one-China principle, Zhang said. Although the Xi-Ma meeting has been met with much praise, supporters of "Taiwan independence" are not so impressed. On Wednesday when the meeting was announced, supporters of "Taiwan independence" rallied in front of the island's legislature and Ma's office, protesting the decision and demanding his resignation. A number of opposition politicians also criticized Ma for not notifying the legislature. Some accused him of trying to secure support for the Kuomingtang (KMT) in the 2016 leadership election. Eric Chu, KMT chair, is running for the election. He released a statement saying that previous confrontation across the Strait had cost Taiwan dearly, and the peace of the last few years had benefited the island. Saturday's meeting will be a game changer, but certain political fractions insist on opposing it, leaving questions over where they stand on cross-Strait policies, Chu said. Yok Mu-ming, chair of Taiwan's New Party, wrote in an article published Thursday that the decision to meet Xi was the right call. "China Times," argued in its Thursday report that "Taiwan independence" supporters would loose out if they overreact to the meeting. Interestingly, leaders of the major opposition DPP were quite ambiguous in their response. Although accusing Ma of "narrowing Taiwan's future for the sake of personal political legacy," a day earlier, DPP chair Tsai Ing-wen, who is also running for the 2016 election, told media Thursday that the wider society was not against the meeting, and she cannot rule out the possibility of meeting Xi if elected. DPP secretary-general Joseph Wu also told media on Thursday that DPP will not stop the Xi-Ma meeting or oppose the possible regular meetings of cross-Strait leaders. ^ top ^

Landmark meeting between leaders of mainland China and Taiwan leaves island's ruling KMT party with an electoral puzzle (SCMP)
2015-11-05
The first meeting in 66 years between the leaders of mainland China and Taiwan will do little to change the grim prospects of the island's ruling Kuomintang ahead of presidential and legislative elections in January, analysts believe - but it could hasten the party's decline. With the island's elections on January 16 fast approaching, the Taiwanese opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Wednesday questioned the motives behind the scheduling of the landmark meeting in Singapore of the mainland's President Xi Jinping and Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou on Saturday. But analysts say the meeting is unlikely to reverse the fortunes of the struggling KMT in the elections, with the latest polls showing the party's presidential candidate Eric Chu has only about 20 per cent of the vote. The polls show the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen - widely tipped to become Taiwan's first female president - to be leading by a large margin of more than 40 per cent. James Soong, of People First, has about 15 per cent, according to polls last month in Taiwanese media. Lin Chong-pin, former vice-chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council [MAC], said the summit might increase uncertainty surrounding the election. "If Taiwanese feel that Ma's presentation at the summit is poor, its impact might be worse than the Sunflower movement last year," Lin said. He was referring to the student-led movement to occupy Taiwan's legislature for about a month from mid-March last year in protest against a trade agreement with the mainland. Lin said anti-Beijing sentiment among many young Taiwanese had soared since then because the cross-strait trade agreement benefited only KMT-owned enterprises and families with close links to the ruling party. "It may accelerate the decline of the KMT and force further splits," Lin added. A survey by the National Chengchi University in June showed 60 per cent of people on the island identified themselves as Taiwanese, while only 3 per cent said they were Chinese. More than 10 per cent of respondents had shifted from recognising themselves as both Chinese and Taiwanese to only Taiwanese since Ma was elected as president in 2008. Professor Wang Yeh-lih, a political scientist from National Taiwan University, said even if the meeting went well, it would only help the KMT earn the support of some swing voters, who make up only a small part of the electorate. Andrew Hsia Li-yan, head of Taiwan's MAC, said yesterday that the council had not considered the January elections when negotiating the visit with mainland authorities. "We never considered [the meeting] would influence the election at all, we just believed that the time was ripe," Hsia said, adding that it was aimed at enhancing the cross-strait relationship and keeping it on a long-term path of peaceful development. The meeting is the first by the top leaders of the two sides since the Kuomintang fled to Taiwan in 1949 amid a civil war. Its sudden announcement at midnight on Tuesday surprised many Taiwanese, with some opposition supporters saying the talks amounted to a betrayal. Some critics on social media went further, saying any future meeting between the two leaders would be "a handshake of death". The pro-DPP Liberty Times heavily criticised Ma's decision to meet Xi, while other KMT newspapers were more positive. A few members of the pro-independence Free Taiwan Party gathered outside the legislature yesterday morning to protest. Tsai, the DPP chairwoman, said the meeting was harmful for Taiwan's democracy. "Our people will never allow President Ma to interfere in the future of Taiwan for his own political purpose as his presidency approaches its end. He doesn't have authority to promise things he cannot take responsibility for." ^ top ^

Taiwan says it won't recognise The Hague's decision on disputed South China Sea (SCMP)
2015-11-01
Taipei yesterday lashed out over a decision by The Hague's international arbitration panel to accept a case brought by the Philippines against China over disputed territory in the South China Sea, the island's official Central News Agency reported. The Philippines had not invited Taipei to take part in its arbitration, and the tribunal has not solicited Taiwan's views, the CNA cited a statement issued by the foreign ministry as saying. "Therefore, the arbitration does not affect [Taipei] in any way, and [Taipei] neither recognises nor accepts related awards," the statement said. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Netherlands ruled Thursday it has jurisdiction to hear the case, in which the Philippines argues China's "nine-dash line" territorial claim over South China Sea waters is unlawful under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The statement seemed to indicate the ministry's stronger stance than its initial response a day earlier, when it said Taipei's determination to defend its sovereignty over four island chains in the South China Sea should no be doubted. It said Taiwan was closely following the developments in the case and would take measures as necessary. The Philippines filed the case in 2013 to seek a ruling on its right to exploit South China Sea waters within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone as allowed under the UN convention. Taiwan is taking an interest in the case because it is one of the claimants in the South China Sea. Other claimants include Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, mainland China and Vietnam. Taiwan controls one of the Pratas Islands and one of the largest of the Spratlys - Taiping. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China applies to join European development bank as it bids to increase global financial clout (SCMP)
2015-11-06
China has applied to become a member of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, the lender said, giving Beijing a new way of extending its global influence after its steps to boost trade links with Europe and Asia. The bank's board is expected early next week to recommend approval of China's bid to the bank's shareholders. That group, dominated by G7 governments, is likely to make a final decision in December and, if successful, China would take a small, symbolic but prestigious stake, and the lender would not invest there. Joining the bank would build on initiatives by the world's second-largest economy to thicken trade ties with Europe and Asia, the so-called “One Belt, One Road” plan. “China has made a formal application for membership of the EBRD just a few days ago. This is going to be considered by the board," its acting chief economist Hans Peter Lankes said. “We would expect there to be a mid-December decision on this.” The bank said in May it was ready to cooperate on projects with China and its newly launched Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, or AIIB. A number of European governments decided to become founding members of the Asian bank despite misgivings in the United States, which fears it will effectively expand China's sway at the expense of Western lenders. The European bank was set up by governments in 1991 to support former communist states in eastern Europe, but has expanded its mandate in recent years to parts of North Africa and central Asia, as well as euro zone crisis countries Greece and Cyprus. The bank is owned by 64 countries, the European Union and the European Investment Bank. A bank official said China had initially sounded out the lender about becoming a member back in August and the formal request came after President Xi Jingping visited London last month, where the bank is based. “Why has China made this request? This is clearly something you have to ask the Chinese authorities,” said Lankes. “Is this an area where Europe and China and the EBRD can work on the integration and connectivity of Europe and China? Yes, certainly.” One of the areas most likely to interest China is the European bank's work in neighbouring Kazakhstan where it is set to invest about 1 billion euros (HK$8.4 billion) in the coming years to help extend a new “Silk Road” from Western China into Russia. ^ top ^

China unveils guideline on reforming state-owned asset management (Xinhua)
2015-11-04
The State Council, China's cabinet, unveiled a guideline for reforming management of the country's colossal state-owned assets on Wednesday. The guideline specifies plans to establish investment firms to manage state-owned capital and restructure state-owned enterprises (SOEs). It is a supporting document for another State Council guideline on advancing SOE reforms released in September. China will set up firms in charge of state capital investment and operations either by transferring state equity and budgets to a new company or assigning the tasks to a qualified wholly state-owned enterprise that already exists, according to the guideline. The investment firms can increase the value of state capital by operating equities, conducting value-based management and handling fund movements. They can also optimize the capital's layout through investment and financing, industrial support and capital integration. The country will also eliminate outdated and excessive capacity of SOEs and dispose of inefficient assets. State capital will be removed from some SOEs, while others will be restructured or upgraded on the basis of innovation. The newly distributed state capital will be used in key sectors, major infrastructure projects, strategic industries, key parts of the industrial chain and competitive firms. In the process of establishing investment firms and restructuring SOEs, the government will transfer some state equity into the hands of social security funds, so that proceeds from those equities can be used to make up shortfalls in pension funds, the guideline said. The document stressed the separation of government administration from corporate management, drawing clear lines between state asset regulators, state capital investment firms and individual SOEs. Regulators will not intervene in corporate management of SOEs, and a unified network will be established to publicize information about state capital, the fiscal conditions of SOEs and salaries of SOE management staff. China's state-owned assets have seen increasing profits and become more competitive in past decades, but problems remain, including lack of efficiency, improper regulation and loss of assets, according to the document. ' It said the reforms aim to help the state-owned sector adapt to market developments and increase its vitality, influence and risk resistance. China has about 150,000 SOEs, which hold more than 100 trillion yuan (15.7 trillion US dollars) in assets and employ over 30 million people. However, they posted an 8.2-percent decline in profits in the first three quarters of this year. ^ top ^

Better, faster, stronger: China's new ambitious five-year plan aims to make the nation more efficient (SCMP)
2015-11-04
Higher quality, greater efficiency - these are China's aims for its development over the next five years as it tries to steer its economy along a more innovative path. "We must focus on developing better quality and efficiency, based on innovation," the ruling Communist Party said after its annual policymaking meeting last week. In a draft proposal detailing the country's next five-year plan until 2020, the party said: "We must nurture new incentives for development, optimise the allocation of the labour force, capital, land, technology and management, as well as inspire innovation … to seek new forces that drive development." The paper, released by state-run Xinhua yesterday, was approved by the fifth plenum of the party's 18th Central Committee last Thursday. […] In a speech to last week's plenum, Xi, who is also the party's general secretary, said China's annual economic growth over the next five years should be at least 6.5 per cent. The target was necessary to "realise China's goal of doubling gross domestic product and per capita income by 2020 on the basis of 2010". The president called for quality growth, noting that it would be challenging for the country to meet some institutions' growth forecast of 6 to 7 per cent amid weak global trade and slow expansion in domestic investment and consumption. "China's development should not just be focused on growth pace, but also growth volume, and, more importantly, growth quality," Xi said. Xi is the first party chief to lead the drafting of the paper on the five-year plan, and thus also the first party chief to report to the Central Committee on the plan. It has traditionally been the premier's duty to lead the draft work on the plan. Given the growth target, Hong said, the government would have to continue to rely on capital investment to boost growth. "Help from investment growth will still be needed from time to time to achieve the target, because … the government still has good control [over investment]," he said. In the draft proposal for the five-year plan, the party said efforts were needed to transform the country's growth model, optimise the structure of the industrial sector, promote innovation, step up agricultural modernisation, improve living standards and expand support for the poor, among other goals. The party would improve the income distribution system with the aim of narrowing the income gap and increasing the proportion of the middle-income population in the next five years, according to the document. Underscoring its determination to fight poverty, the party pledged to step up financial support for impoverished areas and accelerate plans to introduce a more comprehensive income tax system, among other measures. China faced difficult challenges in eliminating poverty in its rural areas as it worked towards building a "moderately prosperous society", the paper added. The draft proposal promised to deepen household registration reforms to allow more rural migrant workers to live and work in the cities. It suggested further improving the housing system and stepping up efforts in transforming shanty towns and precarious living conditions in both urban and rural areas. The government will also liberalise competition in the natural gas, electricity, oil and telecommunications sectors, according to the document. ^ top ^

Police arrest China's 'No 1 hedge fund manager' in insider trading investigation (SCMP)
2015-11-03
Police and regulators have had their eyes on Xu Xiang, general manager of Zexi Investment and regarded by many as China's No 1 hedge fund manager, ever since the losses caused by the chaos in mainland stock markets this summer climbed into trillions of dollars. And now they have pounced. Xu and several other executives of Zexi were arrested on Sunday on charges including insider trading and stock market manipulation, Xinhua reported yesterday, citing the Ministry of Public Security. Many had thought Xu was in the clear after an earlier interrogation by regulators over suspicious trades following the boom-to-bust cycle in the A-share market in mid-June. The detention of Xu, whose aura on the mainland is akin to that of Warren Buffett in the West, is the latest crack to appear in the country's securities industry - cracks that have been appearing despite Beijing's efforts to bolster investor confidence. A fund manager said Xu was well-connected with senior government officials and a "cunning" asset manager who could fully take advantage of regulatory loopholes to profit. "It was widely believed that he was safe after being interrogated," the fund manager said. "He understands the rules better than any other fund manager and it should have been difficult for police to spot his illegal behaviour." Zexi's hedge funds recorded at least 140 per cent growth in net asset value this year, making the company controlled by Xu the standout performer in the mainland's securities industry. […] The benchmark indicator jumped nearly 120 per cent between October 2014 and mid-June 2015 before slumping more than 32 per cent in three weeks. Beijing shelled out more than 1 trillion yuan (HK$1.22 trillion) in rescue funds to underpin the falling market, but in vain. In recent months, more than a dozen powerful industry figures including Zhang Yujun, an assistant chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, and Cheng Boming, president of Citic Securities, the mainland's largest brokerage, have been taken away for investigation. Meanwhile, Beijing has placed responsibility for the market rout on a handful of government officials and key market players. Since July, mainland police have been investigating what officials describe as "malicious short-selling". The move is part of a widespread crackdown on market irregularities targeting corrupt regulatory officials and unethical fund managers. In late September, Zexi Investment said it did not even own a stock-index futures account for short selling. Xu's rags-to-riches tale inspired hundreds of securities industry employees in China. After graduating from high school, he turned his attention to stocks in 1993 with an initial investment of 30,000 yuan. Mainland media estimate he is now worth billions of yuan. ^ top ^

C919 unveiled: China trumpets first homegrown jetliner in bid to compete with Boeing, Airbus (SCMP)
2015-11-02
A state-owned manufacturer on Monday unveiled the first plane produced by a Chinese initiative to compete in the market for large passenger jetliners. China is one of the biggest aviation markets but relies on Boeing and Airbus aircraft. The multibillion-dollar effort to create the homegrown C919 jetliner is aimed at clawing back some of the commercial benefits that flow to foreign suppliers. The Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China showed off the first of the twin-engine planes in a ceremony attended by some 4,000 government officials and other guests at a hangar near Shanghai's Pudong International Airport. […] The C919 is one of several initiatives launched by the ruling Communist Party to transform China from the world's low-cost factory into a creator of profitable technology in aviation, clean energy and other fields. The C919, which can seat up to 168 passengers, is meant to compete in the market for single-aisle jets dominated by Airbus's A320 and Boeing's 737. Its manufacturer, known as Comac, says it has received orders from 21 customers for a total of 517 aircraft, mostly from Chinese carriers but also from GE Capital Aviation Services. A separate state-owned company also has developed a smaller regional jet, the ARJ-21, to compete in the market dominated by Brazil's Embraer and Canada's Bombardier. The first two ARJ-21s were delivered last year to a Chinese airline. Most of the C919's critical systems including engines and avionics are being supplied by Western companies or foreign-Chinese joint ventures. Boeing forecasts China's total demand for civilian jetliners over the next two decades at 5,580 planes worth a total of US$780 billion. China's major airlines are state-owned, which gives the Communist Party a captive pool of potential customers that can be ordered to buy the C919. […] However, the C919 is hampered by official requirements that its manufacturer favour components produced in China, unlike competitors who source parts globally, according to Aboulafia. […] Development of the C919 began in 2008. Plans called for a first flight in 2014 and for it to enter service in 2016, but those targets were pushed back due to production delays. The C919 now is due to fly next year and enter service in about 2019. One of the biggest components, the core processing and display system, is being supplied by a joint venture between GE Aviation Systems and AVIC, a state-owned Chinese military contractor. Other suppliers include Honeywell, Rockwell Collins and Hamilton Sunstrand. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Minister L.Purevsuren addresses ASEM FM meeting (Montsame)
2015-11-06
Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren is attending the 12th ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting (ASEM FMM12), which is taking place in Luxembourg November 5-6. He gave a speech themed “Asia-Europe Union&Future of ASEM”. The meeting has been chaired by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and hosted by the Government of Luxembourg. The ASEM FMM 12 is themed "Working Together for a Sustainable and Secure Future". Importance of dialogue in this increasingly globalized world has been advancing day by day. This was and remains the founding goal of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) since it was established 20 years ago. Mr Purevsuren noted. Mongolia attaches great significance to expanding of “hard” and “soft” ties with Asian and European nations and to promoting political, economic, social and cultural cooperation, he added. As for Mongolia, said the FM, it is considers that dialogues can be realized through prioritizing cooperation in 19 certain spheres, "in light of this, Mongolia has hosted a seminar on renewable energy issues", he said. It is only right to involve more scientists, students, non-governmental organizations and other interested stakeholder in these Asia-Europe dialogues, said L.Purevsuren about Mongolia's position. ^ top ^

Minister G.Shiilegdamba arrested (Montsame)
2015-11-05
The incumbent Minister of Health and Sport G.Shiilegdamba was arrested on November 4 by the Corruption Combating Agency (CCA), the news.mn website said that day. The Minister has reportedly been accused of corruption. He has been detained in the 461st unit at the General Authority for Implementing Court Decisions. The CCA has not denied this information. ^ top ^

Seniors proposed MPP and MPRP to form a coalition (Montsame)
2015-11-04
The Mongolian People's Party (MPP)'s chairman M.Enkhbold and the secretary general J.Monkhbat received November 4 a petition from elderly members of MPP and the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), proposing for the two parties to attend the parliamentary election 2016 as a coalition. “More than 60 percent of Mongolia's territory is being operated by foreign companies under mining permits and the state debt has hit its ceiling”, the seniors criticized the current parliament. The petition has been signed by 44 distinguished senior members of the MPP and the MPRP. ^ top ^

Standing committee backs draft general credit agreement consideration (Montsame)
2015-11-04
The parliamentary Standing committee on economy Wednesday focused on a draft general credit agreement of USD one billion, which will be established between the government of Mongolia and the Export-Import Bank of China. Majority of the gathered agreed that the discussion of the draft agreement must be continued and decided to convey their proposals and conclusions to the Standing committee on security and foreign policy. The draft, presented by B.Bolor, the Minister of Finance, to the Standing committee meeting, was finally approved during a bilateral meeting in Beijing on October 28 of 2015 after it had been exchanged three times for consideration and sides had concurred to finance projects on the energy and other sectors. The loan has two-per cent interest per year, the repayment period will be 20 years, where first seven years will be freed from the basic payment. The loan is expected to finance 85% of the each project. Since the discount level is 29%, this loan is considered as a soft loan, in accordance with the law on debt management. The credit agreement is expected to be signed during upcoming this November state visit of the President to China. According to A.Tleikhan MP, the loan will finance projects on construction of the Eg River hydropower station, on augmenting a capability of the thermal power station of Erdenet city, on building over-head voltage lines between Ulaanbaatar and Mandalgobi soum of Dundgobi aimag, on sub-stations, and on constructing a 20km Gachuurt--Nalaikh--Choir road. ^ top ^

Road projects to be executed by loan from China (Montsame)
2015-11-03
Funded by export soft loans by the Government of China, agreements will be concluded with the selected of the listed Chinese companies to build 114 km road between Tosontsengel and Uliastai of Zavkhan aimag, and 129.4 km road between Bayankhongor with Baidrag Bridge of Bayankhongor aimag. The cabinet allowed on Monday the Minister of Road and Transport M.Zorigt to manage the works. The Minister was also assigned to conclude the agreement on consulting for building of Ulaanbaatar-Khoshig Valley Airport (NUBIA) highway. The former Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Wen Jiabao paid a visit here in 2010 and opened a easy-term credit line of USD 500 million. Following the deal, the governments agreed to implement 13 project, funded by the credit. The credit is allowed with 2 percent annual interest and repayment condition of 20 years. The list of projects was issued by Cabinet in 2015, in an annex to the Resolution No 309 on “Project to be realized on credit funding”. As China's Government proposed, the road and construction projects will be executed by the suitable companies, selected from the listed Chinese companies. ^ top ^

Mongolia to dismiss Deputy Ministers (Infomongolia)
2015-11-03
Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg has proposed to take actions against economic difficulties that Mongolian government faces by cutting wages of high officials, administrative workers and Governors, and dismissing unnecessary advisory and assistants of the members of the Parliament and Ministers. According to his proposal, wages of high officials should be reduced by 30 percent, and Governors and administrative workers by 10 percent. However, at the autumn plenary session, where the Parliament is discussing the budget highlights of 2015 and the amendment to Law on Budget for 2016, Prime Minister's proposal faced strong resistance of political parties. At the Cabinet meeting held on November 02, 2015 it was decided to dismiss Deputy Ministers of the current Government despite the protest. These actions are taken as necessary measures to tackle economic crisis in Mongolia, which is likely to continue in 2016. ^ top ^

Mongolian and Turkish joint military exercise "Nomadic Warrior 2015" (Infomongolia)
2015-11-02
Mongolian and Turkish joint military exercise "Nomadic Warrior 2015" successfully concluded on October 31, 2015 after 21 days. It was first held in Turkey in 2006 and 2007 respectively and later was scheduled to be held in 2008 in Mongolia. However, due to certain difficulties Mongolia could not hold the joint military exercise in its territory until 2015. In 2015, Mongolian and Turkish governments could restore the traditional joint military exercise and Turkey will hold its next training in 2016. This year, “Nomadic Warrior 2015” military exercise focused on the Special Forces training. Soldiers of the 084th unit of Mongolian Armed Forces and around 10 troops of Turkish Special Forces have trained together under the command of Lieutenant Colonel B.Khash-Erdene, Commander of 084th unit of Mongolian Armed Forces. Director of Turkish Special Forces training center, Representatives of the Turkish Embassy in Mongolia headed by Ambassador Murat Karagoz, Chief of Staff of the General Purpose Force of Mongolia, Brigadier General B.Amgalanbaatar and other officials have attended the closing ceremony of the joint military exercise. Turkish authorities noted that the joint military exercise was organized successfully and Turkish government is interested in continuing it further. Military cooperation takes important position in Mongolian and Turkish relations. Within the framework of Mongolian and Turkish military cooperation, Mongolian Minister for Defense paid a working visit to Turkey in May 2015. During his visit, Minister Ts.Tsolmon had a meeting with Mr. Ismet Yilmaz, Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Turkey. At the meeting, two sides talked about increasing number of Mongolian officers to be trained in Turkey and military grant to Mongolia from Turkish side, and further development of defense and military relations. ^ 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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