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
  14-18.12.15, No. 601  
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Foreign Policy

China can do more to resolve crisis in Syria and help refugees: Germany (SCMP)
2015-12-14
China can play a bigger role in resolving the crisis in Syria and to help ease the influx of refugees to Europe, Germany's ambassador to China said yesterday. “On Syria, we would welcome a higher Chinese profile to finding a political solution to the conflicts, as well as a greater material contribution to help on the humanitarian side,” Michael Clauss said at a financial forum in Sanya. Clauss said it was in China's interests to have a strong and united Europe, as well as stability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. “Europe is a key trading and technology partner [of China], and the Middle East is China's largest source of energy resources,” he said, adding that both regions are key to China's 'One Belt, One Road' initiatives. In her eighth visit to China in October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with Premier Li Keqiang that there must be a political solution to the conflict in Syria. China's role in the crisis has so far been low profile role but some critics have said that China could do more to resolve it. Clauss said about 1 million refugees had reached Germany and the situation had become a major political concern. “And it doesn't look like it is going to change anytime soon,” he said, expecting more refugees next year. Clauss said China also needed to work with other countries on innovation as it tried to counter slowing growth in its economy. “In particular in the field of manufacturing, innovation has obviously become a key factor. However, China cannot achieve innovation merely on its own, but they need cooperation with the outside world,” he said, adding that Germany and other European countries are world leaders in high technology. But concerns about intellectual property rights protection and equal treatment for foreign companies needed to be addressed, Clauss said. He added that China's had to ensure that its internet systems remained connected to the world as it sought to balance security with openness. ^ top ^

Chinese navy carries out more drills in disputed South China Sea (SCMP)
2015-12-14
China's navy has in recent days carried out more exercises in the disputed South China Sea, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday, calling them routine drills. China claims almost all of the energy-rich waters, through which more than US$5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims. “The People's Liberation Army Navy in recent days organised a fleet to go to relevant seas in the South China Sea, by way of the Western Pacific, to carry out exercises,” the ministry said in a brief statement. “This action is a routine arrangement made in accordance with this year's naval training plan,” it added, without elaborating. State media accounts on the internet have in recent days shown pictures of Chinese ships engaged in live-fire exercises in the area, without saying exactly where they took place. Beijing periodically announces such exercises in the South China Sea, as it tries to demonstrate it is being transparent about its military deployments. Washington has criticised Beijing's building of several artificial islands in the disputed Spratly archipelago, and has conducted sea and air patrols near them. Last month, US B-52 bombers flew near some of the artificial islands and at the end of October a US guided-missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of them. Beijing expressed concern last week about an agreement between the United States and Singapore to deploy a US P8 Poseidon spy plane to the city state, saying the move was aimed at militarising the region. Yue Gang, a retired colonel, said vessels from the North Sea and East Sea fleets had also been stepping up patrols around the disputed waters in recent months as a response to US moves. “In addition to the South Sea fleet, the other fleets need to familiarise themselves on how to respond to US moves, including monitoring US vessels and communicating with them,” Yue said. “And Beijing also wants to keep a balance of strength in the South China Sea when US patrols become more regular.” ^ top ^

Paris climate talks: China goes from back foot to big leap forward in negotiations (SCMP)
2015-12-14
In the final hour before French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was finally able to announce that a Paris climate deal had been sealed, China's top negotiator Xie Zhenhua was there among the small group of delegates and leaders helping to eliminate the last few points of contention. Much was hanging on the outcome, which capped a week in which China seemed to struggle to respond to pressure from a new coalition. But China stepped up its efforts on the last day and soon hailed the agreement – which aims to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius – as a “historic step”. The deal was hailed for bringing all nations on board for a common goal: to peak their carbon emissions as early as possible and strive to reach net-zero emissions in the second half of this century. In the run-up to the conclusion of the deal, several nations expressed reservations. But Xie, together with his Brazilian counterparts, US Secretary of State John Kerry, top US climate negotiator Todd Stern, and United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres, stepped up coordination to ensure the deal was adopted, observers said. “China has always played a constructive role … even at the Copenhagen summit six years ago, which some thought was a failure. Many people later recognised and praised our contributions,” Xie said. The sense of victory was in contrast to the frustration felt earlier in the week, when Chinese officials were baffled by the emergence of a “high-ambition coalition” – a loose alliance of the smallest developing countries and largest economies such as the United States and European Union, and later joined by Brazil, one of the leading developing economies. The coalition did not negotiate as a group, and did not have a big impact in the talks but it did signal a shake-up of the original camps of developed and developing countries. The Chinese delegation appeared to be caught off guard and it was not until two days later that it responded to the group on the record, criticising developed countries for failing to promise deeper emissions cuts. Some climate talks veterans said the Chinese negotiators were more open than a few years ago but still not adept at tactics. China, at a “more comfortable” place this time – with its pledge to peak carbon emissions around 2030 and US$3.1 billion funding for developing countries – appeared to dig in to positions more firmly than many had anticipated, the observers said. Chinese officials did want to secure a robust international climate deal because it could help force much-needed economic restructuring, but often didn't have the flexibility to say anything but “no” to proposals they didn't like. Some delegates admitted that China needed to find a better way to communicate the country's position and improve its international standing. Soon after the climate deal was adopted, both the EU and the US claimed their leadership role in forging the agreement. Wu Changhua, the greater China director of The Climate Group, said climate officials needed more wisdom to realise President Xi Jinping's mission to make China a “responsible major power”. In his address to the summit two weeks ago, Xi said efforts to tackle climate change were a mirror that “makes us consider the future of global governance”. Hong Kong's Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing welcomed the new climate deal, calling it a “historic turning point”. ^ top ^

China, Tajikistan launch currency swap deal (Global Times)
2015-12-13
A ceremony marking the start of a currency swap deal between China's yuan and Tajikistan's somoni was held on Sunday in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. In September, the central banks of China and Tajikistan signed the currency swap agreement, which allowed the two sides to exchange payments in one currency for equivalent amounts in another to facilitate bilateral trade settlements and provide liquidity support to financial markets. The deal, worth 3 billion yuan (around 470 million US dollars), will last for three years and can be extended if both sides agree. The agreement is expected to further boost trade and investment and safeguard regional financial stability, said Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, at the ceremony. China became the second-largest investor and third-largest trade partner of Tajikistan in 2014, customs data showed. ^ top ^

China's Sinopec to build service station on Woody Island in disputed South China Sea (SCMP)
2015-12-15
Chinese oil major Sinopec is building a service station on an island in the South China Sea, as China continues to expand its civilian infrastructure in the disputed waterway, entrenching its reach in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia. The service station and accompanying storage tank on Woody Island in the Paracels will take a year to complete, the company, whose listed flagship is Sinopec, said on its official microblog on Monday. Woody Island has a population of roughly 1,000 and Chinese travel agents began offering five-day cruises to the Paracels, a cluster of close to 40 islets, outcrops and reefs in 2013. The service station and storage tank would satisfy fuel needs in Chinese-controlled islands and reefs in the South China Sea over the next few years, the post said. “Nouveaux riches, go fishing in Sansha, and remember to bring your filling card,” it quipped, referring to an outpost in the South China Sea centred around Woody Island. China took full control of the Paracels in 1974 after a naval showdown with the South Vietnamese, and there have been incidents ever since. Taiwan also claims the Paracels. China claims almost all of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, through which more than US$5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims. The United States has criticised Beijing's building of artificial islands in the disputed Spratly archipelago, south of the Paracels, and has conducted sea and air patrols near them. China's navy has in recent days carried out more exercises in the disputed waterway, the country's defence ministry said on Sunday, calling them routine drills. “The People's Liberation Army Navy in recent days organised a fleet to go to relevant seas in the South China Sea, by way of the Western Pacific, to carry out exercises,” the defence ministry said. ^ top ^

Closer trade ties top China's agenda in Shanghai Cooperation Organisation talks (SCMP)
2015-12-15
Forging closer economic ties topped China's agenda on Monday in a high-level meeting among top officials of countries in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). At the two-day meeting that began on Monday in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China's Silk Road Fund signed an agreement with Kazakhstan's export and investment agency, under which the fund will set aside US$2 billion for industrial capacity cooperation projects between the two countries. The SCO Council of Heads of Government meeting was hosted by Premier Li Keqiang, who is actively seeking closer cooperation with nations along China's “One Belt, One Road” initiative to counter downturn risks. The talks, which included China, Russia, India, Iran, several central Asian countries as well as some international agencies, would discuss cooperation in trade, investment, finance, transport and counter-terrorism, said a Chinese government statement. The SCO – founded in 2001, comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – has extended its economic reach on top of joint efforts to fight terrorism and separatism, the main threats to stability in the region. Some countries within the SCO – such as resource-rich Russia and Kazakhstan, which are heavily reliant on energy exports – have been hit with economic setbacks and currency depreciation this year as oil prices fell to a six-year low. China is also taking pains to implement measures aimed at holding back an economic downturn and revitalising growth. The gloomy global economy has taken its toll on nations in the region. Trade between China and Russia fell 29 per cent in the first 11 months compared with the same period last year, according to the General Administration of Customs. “We need to stand together to tide over difficulties, such as the impact of recession in Russia,” said senior researcher Li Dong, of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. He said one focus of the meeting was to integrate China's “One Belt, One Road” programme with the Russia-initiated Eurasian Economic Union, whose member nations are located primarily in northern Eurasia. “The meeting will be pragmatic, with more efforts to be placed on how to develop economy among member states, which is to eradicate the rooted reason for social instability and rises of terrorism,” Li Dong said. Fighting terrorism was another main focus of the meeting. Li Hui, China's ambassador to Russia, reiterated Beijing's zero-tolerance attitude towards terrorism. China would work with Russia to beef up its crackdown on cross-border and cybercrimes as well as tighten drug controls, Xinhua reported. The SCO meeting followed a summit between China and ­eastern European countries, also hosted by Premier Li, a fortnight ago. Li raised the idea of international industrial capacity cooperation a year ago as a strategy to strengthen Beijing's foothold in the global market after the launch of the “One Road, One Belt” initiative and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He saw progress in such ­cooperation yesterday with the projects announced with ­Kazakhstan. More than 10 joint projects in steel, cement and smelting would kick off next year while a rail project was expected to start by the end of the month, the Chinese government said. ^ top ^

CGN signs nuclear deal with Kazakhstan's Kazatomprom (Xinhua)
2015-12-14
General Nuclear Power Corp. (CGN) announced that it signed an agreement Monday with Kazakhstan's Kazatomprom to jointly build a nuclear fuel assembly plant and mine uranium deposits in the central Asian country. The largest nuclear power supplier in China said the main business terms, and construction and development schedules had been agreed upon with the Kazakh company. CGN gave no further details on either project. Cooperation between the two firms on uranium development and trade and nuclear fuel fabrication was initiated in 2006. The two have a uranium mining joint venture, and CGN also imports nuclear fuel pellets and uranium from Kazatomprom. CGN has 15 nuclear power units in operation, with a total installed capacity of about 16 gigawatts. ^ top ^

Backgrounder: Prime ministers' meeting of SCO (Global Times)
2015-12-14
The 14th prime ministers' meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) opened on Monday in central China's Zhengzhou City. During the two-day meeting, heads of government from the SCO members of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are expected to discuss cooperation in trade, investment, finance, transportation and culture. The regular meeting mechanism among the prime ministers within the SCO framework was established in September 2001. The first meeting, held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, launched the multilateral economic and trade cooperation process among the six member states. On Sept. 23, 2003, the second meeting of SCO prime ministers took place in Beijing, China. Six documents were signed at the end of the meeting, including the program of multilateral trade and economic cooperation of SCO member states, the memorandum on technically launching permanent institutions of the SCO and a joint communique of the prime ministerial meeting. On Sept. 22, 2004, the third meeting held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan agreed that terrorism, separatism and extremism remained the major threats to the security and stability of the region, and called for closer bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the fight against these evil forces. Participants reaffirmed that regional economic cooperation was among the SCO's priorities and they pledged to focus on cooperation projects in energy, transport, telecommunications and agriculture. On Oct. 26, 2005, SCO heads of government held their fourth meeting in Moscow. Leaders agreed to promote cooperation in various fields including infrastructure construction, energy, telecommunications, finance, culture, tourism, science and technology. They also agreed to strengthen strikes against the three evil forces. The fifth prime ministers' meeting was held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on Sept. 15, 2006. The six prime ministers studied the priority of economic cooperation among SCO member states, and proposed specific measures for trade, scientific, social and cultural cooperation. At the sixth meeting, held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 2007, participating leaders exchanged views on how to enhance cooperation in trade, investment, traffic, energy, telecommunications, customs and culture, and reached consensus on improving business environment, pushing for the implementation of connectivity projects and expanding financing channels. On Oct. 30, 2008, the seventh SCO prime ministers' meeting was held in Astana, Kazakhstan. The meeting issued a joint declaration on the status quo of and prospects for the pragmatic cooperation within the organization in politics, economy and trade, culture and other fields. On Oct. 14, 2009, prime ministers from the six SCO members gathered in Beijing. They agreed to facilitate trade, improve port infrastructure construction and enhance capability and efficiency of customs clearance. On Nov. 7, 2010, the ninth SCO prime minister's meeting opened in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Participating leaders discussed coordination among member states in non-resource areas and launched an SCO economic development supervision system and an e-commerce platform. On Nov. 7, 2011, at the 10th meeting in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, SCO government leaders discussed for the first time the establishment of a financing mechanism for joint projects, including special accounts and development banks within the SCO framework. On Dec. 5, 2012, at the 11th meeting in Bishkek, participants signed a draft of documents, including a statement on the SCO Development Fund, a memorandum of cooperation on protecting intellectual property rights, among others. On Nov. 29, 2013, in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, SCO heads of government agreed during the 12th meeting to strengthen dialogue, expand fiscal and financial cooperation, and deepen regional trade and investment collaboration On Dec. 16, 2014, the 13th SCO prime ministers' meeting opened in Astana, Kazakhstan. Leaders decided to make collective efforts to strengthen the competitive edge of their economies, maintain economic stability, enhance investment environment, and expand industrial output. ^ top ^

China pledges to enhance anti-terrorism cooperation with Russia: envoy (Global Times)
2015-12-14
China supports all countries' efforts to safeguard their national security and has pledged to enhance anti-terrorism cooperation with Russia, Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui said. Li made the remarks in a recent interview with Xinhua ahead of a prime ministers' meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to be held Monday and Tuesday in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou. The SCO groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Noting that security and stability are prerequisite to development, Li said law enforcement cooperation among the SCO member countries, particularly anti-terrorism cooperation, has been one of the SCO's core missions. Since its founding in 2001, the bloc has made remarkable achievements in enhancing security and anti-terrorism cooperation, Li added. China will work with Russia to strengthen anti-terrorism cooperation with a zero-tolerance attitude, jointly crack down on cross-border crimes and cyber crimes, and enhance cooperation on drug control, he said. Li reiterated that the SCO is an important platform for the integration of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) framework and the China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt initiative. During their meeting in Moscow in May this year, both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin committed to further strengthening the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, and to the integration of the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative and the EAEU construction. This signaled that China-Russia political mutual trust has reached a new height and brings new opportunities for the development strategies of the two countries, Li said. This year marks the 66th year of the establishment of the China-Russia diplomatic relations. Featuring equal treatment and mutual benefit, caring for each other's interests and concerns, as well as dedication to safeguarding international equity and justice, the China-Russia relations are at their best time in history and have set a good example for international relations, Li said. During the SCO prime ministers' meeting, both sides are expected to seek further cooperation in such fields as finance, agriculture, environmental protection, aeronautics, astronautics, new energy, as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges. In the face of both conventional and unconventional security challenges, all countries should work for new international relations featuring win-win cooperation so as to enjoy respect, security and common development, Li said. ^ top ^

Xi, Obama promise to work together to ensure implementation of Paris climate deal (Global Times)
2015-12-14
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Barack Obama said Monday they are ready to work with each other and other relevant parties to make sure that the historic climate accord reached in Paris will be effectively implemented. In a telephone conversation, Xi noted that the Paris deal, which resulted from concerted efforts of the international community, charts a clear course for global cooperation on fighting climate change from 2020. China, the United States and other relevant parties maintained close coordination and jointly contributed to the success of the UN climate conference in Paris, Xi said, adding that the Paris meeting marked a new starting point in global response to climate change. China is willing to work with the United States and other relevant parties to ensure the implementation of the Paris deal, and effectively expand pragmatic bilateral cooperation in tackling climate change so as to bring more benefits to the two peoples as well as people in other parts of the world, Xi said. China wishes to maintain coordination and cooperation with the US side on major global issues, he added. Obama also applauded the Paris climate deal, saying the United States and China as well as other relevant parties had strengthened coordination and cooperation in their efforts to secure the deal. The US side stands ready to work with China and other relevant parties to make sure that the deal will go into effect and be implemented, Obama said. US-China communication and cooperation over climate change have demonstrated that the two countries can conduct constructive cooperation in a wide range of global affairs, Obama said. ^ top ^

Advanced destroyers boost combat capability of PLA (China Daily)
2015-12-15
The Chinese Navy has commissioned three world-class guided missile destroyers, extensively improving the country's maritime combat capability. The latest of the Type 052D destroyers, the Hefei, was delivered to the South Sea Fleet of the People's Liberation Army Navy on Saturday at a naval base in Sanya, in the island province of Hainan, the PLA Navy said in a statement. Vice-Admiral Wang Dengping, deputy political commissar of the PLA Navy, told those attending the ship's commissioning ceremony that the Hefei is the most advanced destroyer ever built by China. He said its service would significantly enhance the Navy's joint combat capability and play an important role in safeguarding the nation's maritime interests. The first Type 052D destroyer, the Kunming, joined the Navy in March last year, while the second, the Changsha, started active service in August. "All posts on the vessel have been manned by my officers and sailors, since the shipyard technicians who were aboard to help us before the delivery have left," Commander Zhao Yanquan, captain of the Hefei, told China Daily in an exclusive interview on Monday. "My men have familiarized themselves with the advanced equipment and weapons. In the near future, we will focus on training, aiming to make the ship become fully operational within a short period," he said. "Compared with the Wuhan, a Type 052B ship on which I was deputy captain, the new ship is especially stronger in terms of target detection capacity and air defense capability." According to earlier reports by Chinese military news websites, the Type 052D destroyer has a full displacement of nearly 7,000 metric tons and a wide range of weapons, including a single-barrel, 130 mm naval gun, a close-in weapon system, anti-aircraft missiles and surface-to-surface cruise missiles. Adopting a host of cutting-edge technologies, the vessel features a low radar signature, a high information level and a state-of-the-art phased array radar. Cao Weidong, a researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said that compared with other PLA Navy ships, the Type 052D has the best radar capability for detecting more targets at a longer distance; the best data link, which enables a joint operation with other ships or aircraft; and the best missile combination for hitting enemy surface vessels, submarines, aircraft and ground targets. "Its larger displacement means it is able to carry more equipment and weapons, and is powerful enough to protect an aircraft carrier battle group in a long-distance operation," he said. According to Yin Zhuo, director of the PLA Navy's Expert Consultation Committee, China is also developing the Type 055 destroyer, which has a full displacement of around 10,000 tons and can carry more than 100 missiles. ^ top ^

China on IS threat: Could government launch anti-terrorism cooperative in absence of global unified force? (SCMP)
2015-12-16
China on Tuesday vowed to deepen cooperation with Russia and Central Asian nations in their push for greater economic integration amid rising security concerns and slowing growth in the region. Wrapping up a two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Zhengzhou, Henan province, Premier Li Keqiang called for the signing of an anti-extremism treaty, reflecting Beijing's growing concern over the Islamic State militant group's influence. Li also called on the bloc's members to “maintain political security and social stability” in the face of “interwoven conventional and non-conventional security threats” as the countries faced “unprecedented” global challenges. Li Lifan, a researcher with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the bloc's members were facing new challenges in security as terrorism groups went online to recruit, raise funds and plan attacks. Almost every bloc member had seen instances of its citizens joining Islamic State, the researcher said. Once those who had left to fight for the militant group returned to their home countries, they would become a serious threat to national security, he said. “But there is no unified force in the world to counter IS and we haven't seen any such push from the UN. China may hope to launch an anti-terrorism cooperative mechanism under the SCO framework,” Li Lifan said. He Qisong, a professor with the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said Russia was also seeking new allies after crossing Nato in the wake of the Ukraine conflict while China was facing threats from terrorism as its domestic separatists linked up with Islamic State. The SCO meeting did not cover just security cooperation. In a joint statement on Tuesday, the bloc's members said infrastructure construction and capacity investment would take priority in regional economic integration, to help the countries weather global economic headwinds and allow them to explore new patterns of global governance. They also pledged to conduct currency swaps to safeguard against regional financial risks. The moves towards regional economic integration were aimed at increasing investment and consumption. They were also aimed at creating more jobs by, for example, building transport links between member countries, strengthening e-commerce cooperation, and offering funding to projects within the bloc, the joint statement said. CEFC China Energy Company on Tuesday said it had agreed to acquire 51 per cent of a unit of Kazakhstan's state oil and gas company, which mainly owns refinery and fuel assets in Europe. But He, the Shanghai university professor, said the pledges made during the two-day SCO meeting were more form than substance and that progress in regional cooperation remained unsatisfactory. It was important for Russia and the Central Asian nations within the bloc to abide by the contracts they had signed and to take concrete action to show they were truly committed to pushing forward cooperation, He said. “They should act … to show their good faith,” he said. ^ top ^

China, U.S. sign MOU on money laundering and terrorism (Xinhua)
2015-12-18
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) on money laundering and countering terrorist financing has been signed between China and the United States. The MOU was signed between the China Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Center (CAMLMAC) and the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) at a meeting in the United States last week, according to a statement on the website of the People's Bank of China (PBOC) on Tuesday. During the meeting in New York between Dec. 10 and 11, officials from the two sides discussed terrorist financing, risk evaluation and China-U.S. cooperation on money laundering. ^ top ^

China eyes cyber influence (Global Times)
2015-12-16
China will uphold the "opening-up and development" principle as it moves from a country with a large netizen population to a world Internet power, an official in charge of the country's Internet administration said Tuesday in Wuzhen ahead of the World Internet Conference. "China's door will never be shut," Lu Wei, head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, said during the opening ceremony of the expo, "The Light of Internet," in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, which served as a prelude to the Internet conference scheduled from Wednesday to Friday. Lu said that he could feel China is striding forward toward becoming a major Internet power as a result of China's reform and opening-up policy as well as effective management in accordance with the law. "We will actively participate in international exchanges and cooperation on Internet affairs, and learn from the experiences and technological advances of other countries … and push for the opening-up and cooperation of cyberspace to achieve mutual benefit," Lu said. Chinese President Xi Jinping will for the first time deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the conference on Wednesday. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will also speak at the ceremony. In an address to the first conference of the country's Central Leading Group on Cyberspace Affairs, Xi said that the government aims to build China into a "strong Internet power." Leaders of eight countries and more than 2,000 delegates from over 120 countries and regions will participate in the conference in the East China city. Senior officials from the United Nations and executives from Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Lenovo, Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent will also participate in this year's conference with the theme, "An Interconnected World Shared and Governed by All - Building a Community of a Common Future in Cyberspace." Scholars, officials and businessmen will attend a forum on "Internet Plus" on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the prospects of China's financial reform and financial markets. Other forums include one where Internet giants, including Jack Ma of Alibaba, will discuss the prospects of Sino-US exchanges in cyberspace and supervision over the mobile Internet industry. Among the expo's exhibits are the cutting-edge driverless car from Baidu and independent aerostat technology of the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation. Lu said that the inclusiveness and vitality of China's Internet industry have improved people's lives, and also shows the huge potentials in the industry. He added that China's Internet industry will be driven by innovation, coordination, opening-up, sharing and green development. "The conference is significant to China as it will bring more global visions, and will likewise showcase China's rising status and strength in the Internet industry," Fang Xingdong, founder of chinalabs.com, told the Global Times. Meanwhile, analysts said that talks between China and the West on cyber management and sovereignty may also continue during and after the conference, but added that the meeting could help bridge the gap between the two sides. "The world used to be against China's Internet governance. We hope to present our ideas and policies in the conference and gain more understanding. We want to show the world a responsible major Internet power which is also a key world power in using and safeguarding cyberspace," Internet Society of China chairman Wu Hequan said in an interview with The Beijing News. As of June, China had an online population of 668 million, according to official data. Four of the world's top 10 Internet companies are from China. Ranking second in world Internet power, China not only boasts of its achievements but more importantly shoulders greater responsibility as it offers more innovative ideas and vitality to global Internet governance, according to Fang. "No single government can control the Internet. If our government watches over everything, how could there be a boom in Internet companies and netizens?" Fang said, adding that official supervision has also contributed to the industry's prosperity. "China is seeking a consensus on global Internet governance, and what China has achieved can serve as a model for other developing countries," said Qin An, a cyber-security expert from the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy. ^ top ^

Li proposes six platforms for SCO ties (Global Times)
2015-12-16
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday proposed the establishment of six platforms, including security, finance and connectivity for regional cooperation on the second and final day of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Central China's Zhengzhou, Henan Province. It shows that as a regional international association, the SCO seeks more practical approaches to improve regional cooperation and strengthen regional security, analysts said. Li said that aside from focusing on security, economy and civilian exchanges, the SCO should also focus on building six platforms on security, production capability, connectivity, financial cooperation and cooperation on social affairs and improving people's lives. "The SCO has played a leading role in forming regional cooperation in recent years, but it lacks a detailed mechanism to advance cooperation. The proposal of the six platforms offers a specific and practical way to further anti-terrorism and economic cooperation," Sun Zhuangzhi, secretary-general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times. The SCO should cement the existing security cooperation mechanism, accelerate an agreement on border defense cooperation, move toward an anti-extremism pact and support Afghanistan's national reconciliation process, Li said. "Terrorism, extremism and separatism are the main threats to Central Asia's security. The latest situations in the Middle East, such as the rise of the Islamic State, have made it urgent for SCO members to set aside differences and safeguard regional security together," said Zhao Huirong, a research fellow of Central Asian studies at the CASS. To provide a reliable environment, member states should deepen their cooperation, including sharing information, conducting anti-terror drills and joint personnel training, Zhao told the Global Times. In his meeting with Afghanistan's CEO Abdullah Abdullah on Tuesday, Li said that the two countries should strengthen anti-terror and security cooperation, and China will support Afghanistan's peace and reconciliation efforts. Economic growth in Central Asia can in turn allow the region to better deal with security issues, said Sun, adding that every country would benefit from the stable environment. Li said that the SCO should establish a cooperation mechanism on production capacity, and that China is willing to share its mature technology and provide equipment and contracting services. "China's Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank could support the SCO members' infrastructure projects, which have always been hindered by a lack of funds and technology," Zhao said. ^ top ^

Russia's Kaspersky Labs signs deal with China Cyber Security Company as Beijing and Moscow call for end to US domination of internet (SCMP)
2015-12-17
Russian software security giant Kaspersky Lab has formed a strategic partnership with a Chinese state-own company as Beijing and Moscow work more closely in policing their cyberspace. The deal was signed on Wednesday at one of the panel meetings of China's second World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province. Hours before the meeting, President Xi Jinping  gave a keynote speech stressing the need for a new set of global rules on the use of the internet and the importance of respecting cyber-sovereignty. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who also attended the event, supported Xi. At the internet security panel meeting in the afternoon, Eugene Kaspersky – founder of the Russian software security giant that bears his name – signed a deal with the China Cyber Security Company. The two sides did not elaborate on the extent of their cooperation. China and Russia are both accused by Western governments of sponsoring hacker attacks and organised cyberespionage. But experts from the two countries on Wednesday said they were in fact the biggest victims of cybercrimes. They were also concerned that rapid advances in technology would make it increasingly difficult for states to control the flow of information, posing challenges to order and stability. “Now all forms of crime can spread much faster and wider because of the internet. No country is totally safe,” said Liu Xinyun, chief of the Public Security Ministry's cybersecurity department. “The number of internet users in the developing world now accounts for more than half of the internet population. Four out of the top 10 internet firms are Chinese. Yet the basic rules and protocols of the internet are set and controlled by the US. We need new rules and new thinking to reflect the changing reality,” said a Chinese cybersecurity expert who declined to be named. Zhao Wei, another cybersecurity expert and CEO of Beijing Knownsec Information Technology, said China faced cyberattacks “every day”. “The attacks are so sophisticated. We are totally defenceless. I call it the 'god mode' attack,” said Zhao, without explaining who was behind the attacks. After the meeting, he said the attacker was a “state actor”. Zhao said China needed to speed up research and play a part in establishing standards for the next generation of the internet. ^ top ^

China's Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent join hands to promote 'Internet Plus' strategy (SCMP)
2015-12-17
China's three biggest internet conglomerates formed an “Internet-Plus alliance” on Wednesday at the World Internet Conference, the most prominent state internet event. “We will provide new momentum for economy transformation and bear the 'new norm' [of China's slowing economy] together,” said Li Shilin, the alliance's vice-secretary. The term “Internet Plus” has been a catchphrase in China since earlier this year, after the government coined the term to describe the application of internet technology to conventional industries. Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, will chair the alliance, which includes Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, collectively known as BAT. The three firms together dominate China's cyberworld in areas from e-commerce to video streaming and are in fierce competition. The grouping also includes companies, government organisations as well as NGOs, Li said, adding that the alliance's leading organiser was the China International Development fund, which is governed by the State Council. The alliance was announced on Wednesday at the World Internet Conference's internet finance forum, which called for tighter regulation of internet finance and an expansion of internet finance services for the masses. The conference deals not only with technology and business but also governance in cyberspace, which extends to individuals and companies as well as international entities. The event's cybersecurity forum covered more than just security issues. “We respect the netizens' right to communicate and express their needs,” Wang Xiujun, vice-director of the state internet information office, said. “But we should also build a better environment and regulate online activity. Every individual and every organisation should be responsible for their conduct online.” At another forum, titled “Building a Silk Road for Win-Win Cooperation”, International Telecommunications Union secretary general Zhao Houlin said the union planned to use its unique advantages and Beijing's “One Belt, One Ray” initiative to cooperate with other projects in China and help bridge the digital divide in countries along the Silk Road. Jin Liqun, president-elect of the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, said during the same forum that the AIIB supported the setting up of a transparent, multilateral international internet governance system to provide a safe cyberspace for all. “AIIB was born into an era of new information technology, such as big data, cloud computing and the mobile internet. These represent an increasingly widespread and deep integration into an era of global socioeconomic being, Internet-based innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth,” Jin said. He said AIIB staff could also use big data to analyse ways to support the internet sector in different countries. ^ top ^

Double standards: China's push to develop internet for economic gain tempered by strict censorship (SCMP)
2015-121-17
Nothing typifies Beijing's double standard towards new developments more than its approach on the internet. On the one hand, Beijing is relentless in its push to develop the new industry, seeing it as an engine of future growth. On the other, the leadership severely restricts the flow of information and expression of dissent online. That is why the world was watching what next step President Xi Jinping would promise to take as he delivered the keynote speech at the World Internet Conference on Wednesday morning. Before he stood up to address senior executives of global tech firms who gathered in the ancient town of Wuzhen, in Zhejiang, many observers were wondering whether he would push to fortify the Great Firewall or promise to bring it down, brick by brick. Since coming to office, Xi has showed keen interest in developing the industry, paying frequent visits to hi-tech companies, meeting industry executives and delivering speeches on the area. He has also personally taken charge of a new panel overseeing internet security and IT development, through which he apparently hopes to help China's traditional enterprises transform and adapt to the information age. Hao Hong, chief China strategist at Bocom International in Hong Kong, said Xi's attendance and speech at the forum reflected the internet's strategic importance in the country's overall development plan. “The challenge is how to use the internet to better improve China's productivity gains as the population ages and new workforce shrinks,” Hong said. To that end, the government has gone all out to support the internet industry. In his annual state-of-the-union-style work report this year, Premier Li Keqiang introduced the Internet Plus plan concept aimed at fostering growth in traditional industries and regional economies. And in May, the government said it would plough 1.13 trillion yuan (HK$1.3 trillion) over five years to ramp up internet speeds across the country. The internet has become a bigger force in the economy in the past five years, accounting for 7 per cent of the nation's gross domestic product last year, a percentage point higher than that in the US. While internet giants, such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, are banned on the mainland, Chinese online platforms, like messaging service WeChat and online shopping network Taobao have reaped huge rewards in the enormously profitable market. In 2014, the total value by revenue of China's internet sector was 637.73 billion yuan. Market players were watching to see if Xi's address contained any new ideas that would encourage the kind of entrepreneurialism and innovation needed to ensure the growth continues, especially as other parts of the economy face headwinds. For the past few decades, China has relied on exports and capital investment to keep the economy ticking over. But that model is unsustainable and the leaders are looking to the country's 668 million internet users – equivalent to about half the population – as the greatest potential source of consumption-driven expansion. The official enthusiasm for the internet's economic potential is in sharp contrast to the government's fears about its political power. Xi has imposed the strictest censorship on online discussions and launched campaigns to crack down on dissenting opinions. Yang Peidong, postdoctoral fellow at Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore, said that the governing of the online discursive space during Xi's era involved not only censorship, but also the mobilisation of more constructive and proactive tactics, such as guiding public opinion under the catchphrase “positive energy”. “The latter represents a more sophisticated approach compared to censorship, because it seeks to create consensus and identification between the state and netizens,” Yang said. Li Xigen, associate professor at City University's department of Media and Communications, said that while all the attempts to further develop the internet to facilitate information exchange for various purposes was plausible, the blocking of a sizable number of information websites through the internet Great Wall put China back to the starting point. “Free access to information through the internet becomes a challenge to the Chinese leaders when they face a dilemma constantly, to open the internet at the price of losing ground in public opinion or block the internet to guarantee safety through the mainstream media-led party line,” Li said. While the government says its campaigns are designed to eliminate slander and pornography, state censors have often focused on removing information they believe might undermine the Communist Party's credibility and affect social stability. As a result, Freedom House puts China 58th out of 60 countries in its “Freedom on the Net 2013” report, ahead of only Iran and tied with Cuba. The international media freedom group Reporters Without Borders had called for a full boycott of China's hosting of the internet conference, describing China as the world's No 1 “enemy of [the] internet”. […] ^ top ^

No Internet hegemony: Xi (Global Times)
2015-12-17
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called on all nations to respect cyber sovereignty and not engage in "Internet hegemony," while urging complementary cooperation in cyberspace so more people can benefit from the opportunities brought by the Internet. "We should respect each other's right to choose our own development paths and Internet governance models," Xi said at the opening ceremony of the annual World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, East China's Zhejiang Province. "No country should pursue cyber hegemony, interfere in other countries' internal affairs or engage in, connive in or support cyber activities that undermine other countries' national security," he said. Xi said that sovereign equality, one of the basic norms in contemporary international relations enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, should also be applicable to cyberspace. More than 2,000 delegates from over 120 countries and regions are attending the event from Wednesday to Friday, which covers topics ranging from Internet governance and cyber security to e-commerce and cyber culture. This is the second World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, and Xi's first appearance at the event. The president listed "imbalanced development, inadequate rules and inequitable order" as problems and challenges facing the Internet. Xi then urged "reform of global Internet governance," as he noted that all countries should foster "a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace." Huang Rihan, a research fellow with the Maritime Silk Road Institute at Huaqiao University in Fujian Province, told the Global Times that it is necessary for China to propose a new model of Internet governance as it grows to become a "strong Internet power" and it is also part of its responsibilities as a major world power to offer new ideas in governance. There are now two major Internet governance models, one represented by the US, which advocates so-called open and free principles, the other represented by China, which insists on cyber sovereignty, Huang said. "China's experience is based on regulation of cyberspace activities within the rule of law," said Huang. "China insists that the security and freedom of cyberspace can only be guaranteed when order is maintained." "We should respect Internet users' rights to exchange their ideas and express their minds, and we should also build good order in cyberspace in accordance with the law as it will help protect the legitimate rights and interests of all Internet users," Xi said Wednesday, stressing that cyberspace is not "a place beyond the rule of law." […] The more the US emphasizes its concept of "Internet freedom" and tries to bind its national interest with the Internet, said Shen, the more other countries may be forced to adopt regulations on the Internet to protect their own interests. "The Internet should become a real public sphere instead of a tool of the US," he said. Shen added that China should also find a proper way to exercise its cyberspace sovereignty rights to further open up and utilize the Internet. The president also called for efforts to speed up the building of global cyber infrastructure so that more developing countries and their people can share the development opportunities brought by the Internet. "It has brought an opportunity for China's 'Belt and Road' initiative construction, one of whose key focuses is to promote cross-border cable construction to upgrade communication," Huang said. Xi also said that the robust growth of China's Internet has provided a big market for enterprises and business start-ups in all countries, pledging that China will remain open to foreign investment and guarantee foreign companies' legal rights. "Safeguarding the legal rights of foreign-invested businesses will not change," said Xi. "As long as China's laws are respected, we warmly welcome companies and entrepreneurs from all countries to invest in China." With around 670 million users and over 4.13 million websites in China, the Internet and economic and social development have become intrinsically linked, Xi said. ^ top ^

Chinese, Pakistani presidents meet on stronger ties (Global Times)
2015-12-16
President Xi Jinping met with his Pakistani counterpart Mamnoon Hussain Wednesday in the river town of Wuzhen in east China's Zhejiang Province, pledging to promote the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and stronger cooperation in all areas. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the Second World Internet Conference, which began Wednesday and will run until Dec. 18. Xi recalled his state visit to Pakistan in April, during which both countries upgraded ties to an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, and agreed to form a "1+4" cooperation structure with CPEC at the center, with Gwadar Port, transportation infrastructure, energy and industrial cooperation as the four key areas to achieve win-win results. "We are ready to make joint efforts with Pakistan to enrich the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, and explore more substantial cooperation," Xi said. He called for high-level contact between both countries to continue, as well as exchanges among the two governments, parliaments, parties and armed forces. Xi also called for more efforts to build early harvest projects of the CPEC, expand industrial cooperation, cultural and people-to-people exchanges and security cooperation, and to enhance coordination on global and regional affairs. This year is the China-Pakistan Year of Friendly Exchanges, and next year marks the 65th anniversary of diplomatic ties. Hussain expressed gratitude for China's support for Pakistan's economic development and the improvements it has made to its population. Hailing the progress of two-way cooperation in such areas as trade, infrastructure and security, he said the establishment and building of CPEC had achieved satisfactory results. Hussain vowed closer cooperation with China in diversified fields and stronger coordination in global and regional affairs. ^ top ^

China welcomes IAEA's move to close Iran nuclear program probe (China Daily)
2015-12-16
China welcomes the adoption of a resolution by the board members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to close investigations into possible military dimensions to the Iranian nuclear program, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said in a news conference on Wednesday. The IAEA Board of Governors said in the resolution adopted in a meeting on Tuesday that it "notes that all the activities in the Road-map for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran's nuclear programme were implemented in accordance with the agreed schedule and further notes that this closes the Board's consideration of this item". The adoption of the resolution will pave the way for the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Hong said. "China commends the efforts made by the IAEA and Iran for the settlement of the issue," he said. "The preparatory work for implementing the JCPOA is going well as P5+1 and Iran have taken concrete actions to show their political support. The Chinese side stands ready to work with the other parties, act in strict accordance with the JCPOA, and speed up all preparatory work so that the Implementation Day can come at an early date," said the spokesman. ^ top ^

China steps up push for more free-trade pacts to counter US-led TPP (SCMP)
2015-12-18
China has laid out a road map in its quest for free-trade agreements, pledging to reach deals with most of its neighbours and to further open up its own markets. Its guideline, released on Thursday, aimed to create broader FTA markets and achieve closer integration with its “One Belt, One Road” strategy. China aims to grow its trade with FTA partners so that in the near term it at least equals that between China and most developed countries and emerging markets. But it did not give a time frame. China has stepped up its FTA talks to counter the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, which challenges its trade and investment in the region. The US has also embarked on discussions with the European Union on another pact, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. “Countries will be willing to join as long as they can benefit from lower tariffs and costs under the FTAs. They are not a political alliance, nor do they exclude members from entry into other trade treaties,” Renmin University professor Zhao Xijun said. The guideline said Beijing would continue its trial to liberalise its capital account in the four free-trade zones – Shanghai, Tianjin, Fujian and Guangdong – and conduct stress tests for difficult undertakings in the FTA talks to “accumulate experience to prevent and address risks [and] explore the optimal opening model”. It repeated China's pledge to improve its foreign investment environment, which has been criticised for its opaque approval process and tight restrictions to ensure national security. A free-trade pact between China and South Korea will take effect on Sunday, with South Korea doing away with tariffs on 52 per cent of its Chinese imports and China removing taxes on 44 per cent of South Korea's exports. A China-Australia free-trade pact will kick in on the same day. Beijing is holding its ninth FTA negotiations with South Korea and Japan, according to the commerce ministry. At the same time, it is trying to speed up investment treaty talks with the EU, hoping to cement a deal next year. But Beijing is also under US pressure to shorten its negative list of market access and industry protection in its bilateral investment treaty negotiations, Western observers say. China's central bank vice-governor Yi Gang had earlier said a high-quality free-trade network was vital for success in China's “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which seeks to improve cooperation among countries along the ancient Silk Road trade route. “We should strive to set up a big market with BRICS countries, one with emerging economies and one with developing countries,” the guideline read. It also said Beijing would further open up its services sector to encourage the creation of jobs.. ^ top ^

China, Russia open up markets with grain agreements (SCMP)
2015-12-18
Moscow and Beijing have signed agreements on the control of grain quality, which technically open the Chinese market to Russian grain. Russian food safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor and the Chinese government body in charge of quality control signed two food safety documents on Russian wheat, maize, rapeseed, soybean and rice supplies at a ceremony in Beijing. The documents were signed along with other deals during Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's visit to China, the Russian government press service said. These moves will lead to some supplies, but they will be small Yuliya Melano, Russian grain trader The Interfax news agency said the Rosselkhoznadzor head Sergei Dankvert had previously said these agreements would open up the Chinese market for Russian wheat. Russia has been in talks on supplying grain to China for several years. But one Moscow-based trader said the agreements signed on Thursday would make only small volumes of grain from Russia competitive in China. China has agreed to allow Russian wheat supplies only from several Siberian regions - the Altai, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk and Omsk, Rosselkhoznadzor representative Yuliya Melano said. Melano said China had originally asked for wheat supplies in bags only, but Russia has managed to remove this condition. Supplies of corn, rapeseed, soybean and rice are now allowed from Russia's far east regions, including Khabarovsk, Primorsk, Baikal and Amur, she also said. “These moves will lead to some supplies but they will be small,” the Moscow-based trader said. He said that the agreements would provide some additional demand for Russia's grain in Siberia. Russia is currently one of the world's largest wheat exporters to North Africa and the Middle East and its key wheat exporting and producing regions are based in the south of the country. Russia is expected to get a bumper crop of more than 100 million tonnes for the third year in a row in 2016. ^ top ^

China, Russia sign over 30 deals during Medvedev visit (Xinhua)
2015-12-18
China and Russia signed more than 30 cooperation documents in energy, investment, finance, high technology and other areas during the 20th China-Russia Prime Ministers' Regular Meeting on Thursday. Energy giants Sinopec and Rosneft signed an MOU on oil and gas projects in eastern Siberia while CNPC and Gazprom inked an agreement on the design and construction of the cross-border section of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline. China Development Bank and Russia's state corporation Vnesheconombank (VEB) also signed an agreement on a 10 billion yuan (1.56 billion U.S. dollars) loan. "The slew of deals signed between China and Russia is a testimony of a higher level of our relationship, and we are determined to ensure their implementation," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said when meeting the press along with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev. With the sluggish global economic recovery, lower commodity prices and downward pressure for economies, China and Russia have faced common challenges for growth, Li said. "But China and Russia have faced downward pressure on the economy head on," he said, citing increased Chinese commodity imports from Russia and rising bilateral cooperation in energy, equipment, high technology and e-commerce. Both premiers called on the two countries to find new growth engines. China proposed joint efforts to set industrial capacity and equipment manufacturing as new areas to power the economy, urging implementation of key cooperation projects and more cooperation in areas including energy, finance, aviation, agriculture and military technology. Li also proposed carrying out cooperation in oil exploration, development and refineries, and aligning China's development strategies of innovation, mass entrepreneurship and "Made in China 2025" plan with Russia's Development Strategy by 2020. China is willing to work with Russia to join China's Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with the Russian development strategy as well as the Russia-initiated Eurasian Economic Union, Li said. Russia and China have made breakthroughs in agricultural cooperation, Medvedev said, praising cooperation documents signed on quarantine inspection requirements on exporting Russian wheat, corn, rice and soybean to China. Russia hopes to work with China to outline future cooperation and explore new ways and areas for cooperation, Medvedev said, suggesting both sides further practical cooperation in trade and investment, mining resources, oil and gas, nuclear, aerospace, agriculture, finance and military technology. China and Russia agreed to prepare for a successful China-Russia Media Exchange Year in 2016 and 2017. Li and Medvedev called on the media to contribute to the understanding and friendship of the people in the two countries. In a joint communique released after the meeting, the two countries pledged to enhance coordination in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and jointly fight terrorism. They reaffirmed support in political settlement of the Syria issue and the UN's key role. They vowed to maintain peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and play constructive roles in a comprehensive, long-lasting and proper settlement of Iran's nuclear issue, said the communique. Prior to the meeting, Li held a red-carpet ceremony to welcome Medvedev at the Great Hall of the People. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Chinese rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang to stand trial for social media posts criticising Communist Party (SCMP)
2015-12-13
Outspoken lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who once said his life mission was to fight for civil rights, will appear in a Beijing court on Monday in what is widely seen as a political trial. A photograph taken during the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement depicts Pu, who was a 24-year-old history graduate student at the time, wearing a brown paper vest emblazoned with the slogan - “freedom of the press, freedom of assembly”. “Thanks to a mysterious twist of fate, this has become my life's mission,” he said last year, just weeks before he was detained by the police in May. Pu, famed for defending dissidents and rights activists, has been charged with “inciting ethnic hatred” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” He faces a maximum sentence of eight years. Pu, 50, a charismatic, burly figure with a deep, sonorous voice, has taken on many high-profile causes, including defending artist Ai Weiwei and other prominent rights activists, advocating the scrapping of the country's labour camp system and more recently, aiding Communist Party members who had been tortured during corruption investigations. His incrimination is particularly ironic given the lawyer is famed for taking on free speech cases. Pu is accused of posting sarcastic criticisms online of the party and its policies towards ethnic minorities and neighbouring countries. Pu's indictment in May centred on 30 microblog postings made between 2011 and last year, but the list was narrowed down to the content of seven texts at a pretrial meeting in a Beijing court last week. The commentaries were mostly remarks critical of the government's handling of an ethnic conflict in Kunming, Yunnan province, last year and sarcastic comments about two officials. Pu, who suffers chronic illnesses including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, has been detained for 19 months without trial. Human Rights Watch says his treatment “is disturbingly typical of those who try to use peaceful means to challenge injustices by the state”. His associates say the party-controlled judiciary will likely find Pu guilty to make an example of him as a way to warn other rights advocates. Legal scholar Teng Biao, a former colleague of Pu, said his role both as an outspoken human rights lawyer and a government critic plus his popular exposure in the Chinese media have made him a threat in the eyes of the authorities. “He criticised the authorities, defended human rights cases and had a media platform. These have posed a challenge to the government's authority,” Teng said. Many supporters worried about Pu after he posted online criticisms about former security chief Zhou Yongkang in 2013 after he stepped down from power. Before Zhou was investigated for corruption, Pu accused him of violating human rights through his stability-maintenance apparatus. Teng said Pu's trial was the latest in a series of crackdown on lawyers and rights advocates under President Xi Jinping's rule. “The growth of the rights defence movement has made the authorities feel threatened,” he said. Lawyer Zhang Xuezhong said Pu's sentencing was part of the authorities' wider security agenda to restrain the development of the rights defence movement. “They see rights lawyers as a threat,” he said. Last week, Pu told his lawyer that his online remarks were “emotionally charged, sarcastic and even rude sometimes” but insisted that he had done nothing to warrant the charges against him. Amnesty International said Pu's trial was “an act of political persecution in which the authorities are trying to silence an independent voice”. ^ top ^

Dead, detained or missing: China's businessmen and officials are disappearing (SCMP)
2015-12-13
The one-and-half-day disappearance of Shanghai tycoon Guo Guangchang, chairman of Fosun Group, who is sometimes referred to as China's Warren Buffet, comes at a particularly disturbing time for the mainland's richest business figures. The whereabouts of Guo became a guessing game for more than a day, from noon on Thursday until Friday night when Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical announced that Guo was assisting the legal authorities in their investigations. In other words, Guo is not charged with any wrongdoings for now. However, the whereabouts of Guo and when he will be free are still unknown. Investigations are now going on into other mainland business figures. Earlier this month, a high-flying Dalian tycoon associated with disgraced princeling Bo Xilai, Xu Ming, was reported dead of a heart attack while in jail, despite being reported as enjoying an "excellent health and mental condition” just two months before his imprisonment. Xu Xiang, an aggressive private fund manager regarded as China's George Soros, was arrested last month for alleged inside trading, while six of the top eight executives at CITIC Securities, a brokerage house aiming to become China's version of Goldman Sachs, are being held for questioning over possible wrongdoing. […] Earlier this year a series of suicides were linked to the corruption crackdown in China, with four officials jumping to their deaths in as many days. The abrupt downfall of business leaders is nothing new in China. Former entrepreneur Huang Guangyu, once the richest man in China, is still serving a 14-year jail sentence after being convicted of bribery and insider trading. Xu Ming, once a high-flying tycoon with close links to disgraced princeling Bo Xilai, died in prison at the age of 44 on December 4, only months before his scheduled release, despite reportedly being in “excellent health” just two months earlier “A private business tycoon once said, 'In the eyes of a government official, we are nothing but a cockroach',” Feng Lun, chairman of China's privately-owned Vantone Holdings, wrote in a widely circulated article after the death of Xu. “If he wants to kill you, he can; if he wants to keep you alive, he can.” Since President Xi Jinping (習近平) came to power three years ago, he has listed the crackdown on corruption as a priority. Targeting both tigers and flies – high-flying cadres and low-level officials – Xi and his close ally, Wang Qishan, head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, have brought down more than 100 ministerial-level officials and many more businessmen associated with them. In one extreme case, former Sichuan (四川) mining tycoon Liu Han – who ran the Hanlong Group conglomerate and had dealings with Zhou Bin, the son of China's disgraced former security czar, Zhou Yongkang (周永康) – was executed in February after being convicted of charges including murder and running a mafia-style gang. “Now the anti-corruption focus is shifting to the financial industry, a stronghold of interest groups,” said Zhuang Deshui, a governance professor at Beijing's Peking University. “The stock market rout this summer has provided a good chance to uncover those interest groups, and the top leadership is determined to crack down on them and annihilate them.” However, some doubts remain. “There are deep-rooted institutional reasons for China's corruption, but the anti-corruption campaign is like a political movement,” said one government researcher in Beijing, who declined to be named because of fears of facing possible repercussions for speaking about the subject. “It's kind of unfair to punish businessmen since they really have had no choice – every business approval they need requires certain amounts of money to change hands to cement the decision.” In an article published last year, Guo wrote that he was confident about his company and its relationship with the government. “You have to believe that if your company doesn't make mistakes, or act irresponsibly, then the government will leave you alone,” Guo wrote. “Many people have told me that it's very easy for the government to kill a company, no matter how great the company is. I couldn't help asking: if I am behaving myself, then why would the government want to kill me?” Perhaps we are now about to find out if Guo's confidence is well founded. ^ top ^

CPC releases document to intensify political education (Xinhua)
2015-12-14
The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Sunday released a document on Party school work, urging efforts to intensify ideological and political education among its 88 million members. The Party schools' work forms an important part of the CPC's work and the schools play a vital role in improving the Party's ruling capacity, said the document adopted at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Nov. 23. "To realize the goal of building a moderately prosperous society and the Chinese dream of great national rejuvenation, the key is to mould a troop of officials that are as strong as iron in belief, faith, discipline and sense of responsibility," President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said at a two-day meeting on Party schools' word, which closed on Saturday. In the face of fast-changing international situation and an arduous task of reform at home, the CPC's governance is going through unprecedented tests, said an unidentified official with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. The Party schools assume the task of "supplementing calcium and strengthening bones" for Party officials, and the work of Party schools should be strengthened, rather than weakened, the official said. The document noted that the fundamental principle for the Party schools is to adhere to the "right political direction," strictly observe the Party's political discipline, rules and regulations and maintain a high degree of conformity with the CPC Central Committee in ideology and action. It stressed the Party schools should be run in consistent with the CPC belief, and all teaching and research work must be conducted in accordance with decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee. "It is the first time for the CPC to put forward clearly the Party schools' fundamental principle in the document," said the official. "The move is aimed at warning Party schools not to swerve from the "right direction." According to the document, the Party schools should strengthen the education of officials on the CPC's theories, especially the latest achievements in adapting Marxism to Chinese conditions. Party officials should enhance their faith in the country's development path and the CPC's theories through studying Marxism in contemporary China, and learn to link theories with practice. The document specified Party schools' courses on the Party's theories, history, ideals and beliefs. Moreover, the document stressed that special attention should be paid to education on the Party constitution as well as its regulations and disciplines in the work of Party schools at all levels. According to a survey conducted by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), courses on the Party constitution and other rules and regulations provided by Party schools only account for 2.5 percent of the total class hours. The document also pointed out that Party schools should become a leading think tank for both government and the CPC, pushing forward generalization and innovation in theories in the new era, and deepening research on the country's major decisions and plans as well as hot social issues. Senior leaders of the CPC should take the lead in giving lectures to Party school students, and leaders at the levels of province, city and county are required to give at least one lecture in local Party schools every year, according to the document. It is one of the Party's good traditions for its leaders to go to the Party schools to give lessons, and such a practice can ensure the high quality of Party schools' teaching, said the official with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. Xi gave Party school students lessons for 19 times when he served as president of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee from 2007 to 2012. ^ top ^

Campus recruiting prejudices banned (Global Times)
2015-12-14
China's educational authorities recently announced a ban forbidding employers from setting discriminatory requirements on campus recruitment, including restrictions on gender and ethnicity. The Ministry of Education released the notice on its official website on Friday, asking all colleges and universities to improve the work of finding employment for graduates in 2016. The notice reads that employers should not impose limitations on employees' gender, ethnicity or the university from which they graduated. "Adding conditions like gender, marital status or fertility status into job requirements hurts applicants' rights to equal employment. Although the laws and regulations ban any kind of discriminatory information on recruitment advertisements, employers could still reject female applicants in practice," Zhou Hao, a lawyer from the Beijing-based Jia An Law Office, told the Global Times. "Gender discrimination is not uncommon in job hunting. It is a harmful tradition for some employers to think that male employees can bring more economic benefits while female employees' work may be interrupted by childbirth," Wang Jiangsong, a professor at China Institute of Industrial Relations, told the Global Times on Sunday. Wang said that some female prospective workers have little awareness of the discrimination they have to contend with during the job hunt, which makes gender discrimination worse. Although some enterprises choose not to write limitations on gender into hiring requirements, they will ask female applicants about their marital and fertility status in later interviews, Nanjing-based Modern Express reported on December 6. Zhou said that the government needs to introduce more detailed rules and regulations - including punishments for those who violate rights to equal employment - to decrease recruitment discrimination. According to a survey of campus recruitment advertisements posted on job-hunting website zhaopin.com between September 2013 and September 2014, 127 advertisements contained obvious gender discrimination, using phrases such as"males only" or "females only," media outlet sina.com reported in 2014. Industries like manufacturing, trade, wholesale and retail, IT and real estate showed the most gender discrimination, said sina.com. State-owned enterprises and public institutions constitute play a major role in gender discrimination. Xiong Bingqi, a Shanghai-based education expert, stressed the need for forceful supervision of gender discrimination, despite the inclusion of statements against gender discrimination in existing laws, news site chinanews.com reported in 2014. ^ top ^

Officials in northeast admit faking growth numbers (China Daily)
2015-12-13
Several local officials in China's Northeast region sought to explain dramatic economic drops in their areas by admitting they had faked economic data in the past few years to show high growth when the real numbers were much lower, Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday. "If the past data had not been inflated, the current growth figures would not show such a precipitous fall," one official was quoted as saying. The report cited several officials in China's Northeast region who acknowledged they had significantly overstated data ranging from fiscal revenue and household income to GDP. Three years ago Liaoning province's GDP growth was reported at 9.5 percent, but its current figure — over the first three quarters of this year — is just 2.7 percent. Jilin's growth was reported at 12 percent three years ago, but its current rate is 6.3 percent in the same period. The revelation about the inflated figures came as the GDP growth of the three Northeast provinces ranked the lowest nationwide. Guan Yingmin, an official in Heilongjiang province, said local investment figures were inflated by at least 20 percent, which translates to nearly 100 billion yuan ($15.7 billion). Zhao Zhenqi, an official on an economic committee of the Jilin provincial legislature, told Xinhua that combined fixed-asset investment in the province hit 1 trillion yuan. By comparison, total assets of auto manufacturing giant FAW Group, the largest company in the province, was just 240 billion yuan. If the local financial reports were true, some single counties' GDP would have surpassed Hong Kong. An earlier audit by the National Audit Office found one county in Liaoning that reported annual fiscal revenues 127 percent higher than the actual number. The report cited numerous examples of entrenched fraud at the local level, saying it was the result of pressure from higher authorities and local officials' desire for promotion. A staff member in the Jilin provincial finance department, who asked not to be identified, told China Daily that in past years, local officials competed each other to lure external investment projects. They reported the promised investment value, whether it had been achieved or not, as the investment figure. Beneath the Northeast's malaise, economists said, is the rust belt region's failure over the past decade to shift its growth model away from reliance on heavy industry and outside investment. Unlike other regions, it is mired in a past of command economy that seldom inspires entrepreneurship and outward thinking, said Xu Mengbo, an economics professor at Jilin University. "It's difficult to get rid of that history and mentality. Even today, corporate managers still wait for the government to tell them what to do when crisis looms," Xu said. The woes were compounded by officials' inaction, brought on in part by Beijing's anti-corruption campaign, Xu said. Slashing government expenditures weighed on the economy, which is highly dependent on the spending, Xu said. The Jilin staff member said he had been transferred to Shanghai's fiscal bureaucracy and was impressed by its efficiency, openness and transparency. "In terms of management ideas, there was at least 10-year gap," he said. ^ top ^

Courts to improve services for ethnic litigants (China Daily)
2015-12-14
People living in China's ethnic areas will next year benefit from legal services to help them file lawsuits in their local languages, an official with the top court has said. Courts nationwide have been urged to improve services and ease the procedural burden on litigants, while the Supreme People's Court will add multilingual services in ethnic areas by the end of next year, including in the autonomous regions of Tibet, Xinjiang and Guangxi, said Jiang Qibo, a chief judge with the top court. "In ethnic regions, it's difficult to set up legal service platforms in ethnic languages," he said. "We have contacted experts in the industry and the study will take much time, but it aims to ensure accuracy of the services. "The ethnic-language platforms will help litigants who are not fluent in Chinese file lawsuits and mediate disputes before trials. The better the services we provide, the more benefits litigants will get." Litigants will also receive verdicts in their own language, which "can clear barriers in some lawsuits", he added. The top court sent 15 teams to 32 provinces and municipalities in the summer to check whether local authorities were improving services as required. The inspections found that nearly all of the country's more than 3,500 courts had established service platforms, according to the top court. Sixty-two percent had also launched online platforms to allow lawsuits to be filed and tracked at home, while 781 courts had introduced smartphone apps, the top court said. Dong Bingbing, a judge with the Shushan district court in Anhui province, said its online platform had reduced the court's case burden. "Young litigants can now understand lawsuits and make appeals online, which increases our efficiency in case filings." The online platform had also improved communication between litigants and judges by facilitating their ability to share messages and videos, Dong said, adding that the improvements not only allow litigants to understand the court's work, but also improve judicial credibility. ^ top ^

China needs to build 10 more megacities to ease pollution and traffic pressure on Beijing, top planner says (SCMP)
2015-12-14
China needs 10 new megacities – each with top schools, hospitals and corporate headquarters – to ease the strain on Beijing, a top economic planner has said. Public services were simply too concentrated in the capital, which meant more people were flocking there to live, worsening pollution and gridlock, Yang Weimin told a forum in Chongqing on the weekend. Yang, who is the deputy chair of the Central Leading Group on Finance and Economic Affairs, supported the government's urbanisation plan for 2014-2020, calling for megacities to be established in the northeast, central and western areas. But he went a step further, by putting the number of new giant cities needed at 10, and said they should be built within five years. “If company headquarters, top hospitals and the best universities were relocated, the diseases [in Beijing] would be cured and neighbouring areas would have more opportunities,” Yang said. In much the same way that the Yangtze River Delta is anchored by three economic giants – the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, and Shanghai – the less-developed areas in the northeast, centre and west should be rooted in existing key cities. In the west for instance, the anchors could be Chengdu and Chongqing, he said. The new mega cities would shift the focus away from urban centres that had hit saturation point, such as Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province – known as the Jingjinji area and which is already merging into one urban conglomeration. Similarly, the Yangtze and Pearl river deltas had no room left to grow. The mainland has six megacities – Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Chongqing – all with a population of 10 million or more. But troubled by traffic and smog, they are tightening growth and moving some of its facilities to other areas. Beijing has transplanted schools, hospitals and shops to the suburbs and polluting factories and wholesale markets to neighbouring Hebei province in recent years. The municipal government will be next to move, shifting from near the Zhongnanhai compound to the suburban Tongzhou district. However, Sheng Guangyao, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies, said the relocations did not go far enough. Beijing should move its universities and hospitals to Hebei instead of suburbs, to avoid further saturation, he said. But the disparate levels of power held by city and provincial governments had to be addressed if large-scale planning was to be successful. “The synergetic development of a region largely depends on the coordination of different governments, which is especially difficult in the Jingjinji area,” he said. Beijing and Tianjin were both provincial-level municipalities, and adjacent cities were not on an equal footing when came to cooperation. Those cities had to turn to the provincial government, he said. ^ top ^

Chinese court commutes death sentence for Bo Xilai's wife, murderer Gu Kailai (SCMP)
2015-12-15
China took the rare step on Monday of announcing that the suspended death sentences handed down to two high-profile figures had been reduced to life in prison. Commuting such sentences is a routine practice, but highlighting it is unusual. In Beijing, the high court on Monday said that Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced former Politburo member Bo Xilai, had her suspended death penalty reduced to a life sentence following good behaviour. She was found guilty in 2012 of murdering a British businessman in a case that also brought down her husband, triggering one of the biggest political scandals in generations. Former railway minister Liu Zhijun, convicted of bribery and abuse of power in 2013, also saw his sentence similarly reduced, according to media reports. But the Shandong Higher People's Court extended its review for the third time of the wrongful conviction of Nie Shubin, who was executed in 1995 for the rape and murder of a woman in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province. He was 21 when executed and a decade later, another man came forward to admit he carried out the attack. The court cited the complexity of the case in assigning another three months to the review. In Gu's case, the Beijing Higher People's Court reviewed a recommendation by the Yancheng prison, where Gu has been serving time. The court approved the step because she had not committed any crimes during the period and showed remorse. The court handled the recommendation on November 12 and put it up for public feedback for five days online, according to the statement. Under mainland criminal law, a suspended death sentence will be reduced to life in jail if no crimes are committed during the two years of reprieve. But it's rare for the media to make high-profile reports about the process. Gu had followed the code of conduct for prisoners, taken part in educational activities, passed an exam and completed her work assignments, the court said. It reduced Liu's punishments for the same reason. “It is just a procedure that a suspended death penalty can be reduced to a life sentence if no further crimes are committed. The life sentence is likely to be reduced to 25 years in another two years if Liu behaves well,” his lawyer, Qian Lieyang, said. In another case, the Beijing No2 Intermediate People's Court recommended the sentence handed down to Huang Guangyu, founder and former chairman of electrical appliances retailer Gome, be reduced by one year. Huang was sentenced in 2010 to 14 years for bribery, insider trading and illegal business dealings. In 2012, he had 10 months taken off. ^ top ^

Chinese rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang rejects charges in heated trial over social media posts critical of Communist Party (SCMP)
2015-12-15
One of China's most outspoken human rights lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, defended himself in court on Monday, denying that he had incited ethnic hatred or “provoked trouble” by writing microblog commentaries critical of the Communist Party, his lawyer said. The three-hour trial at the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court ended without a verdict, said Pu's lawyer Shang Baojun, although he expected an outcome “very soon”. Pu's trial took place 19 months after he was detained by police. Pu, famed for defending dissidents and rights activists, was detained in May last year after he attended a private seminar to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown. His ordeal is widely seen as a political case to silence him and to warn other rights advocates against speaking up. Pu is charged with “inciting ethnic hatred” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for the content of seven Weibo messages that he posted online between July 2011 and May 2014. He faces up to eight years in jail. Pu's online messages were mostly remarks critical of the government's handling of an ethnic conflict in Kunming, Yunnan province, last year and sarcastic comments about two officials. Shang said Pu admitted in court that his microblog writing style was “sharp, caustic and sometimes vulgar” and was willing to apologise. “[But] he said he didn't think he had incited ethnic hatred or provoked trouble. He had no such intention,” Shang said. He said Pu was not asked whether he admitted to his guilt during the trial. Shang said the 12 audience seats were occupied in court on Monday, but that apart from Pu's wife Meng Qun, he could not identify the others. Security was tight outside the court, with the courthouse cordoned off and scores of police officers and unidentified men rough handling, pushing and shooing away supporters, journalists and foreign diplomats who tried to get near. Several of Pu's supporters were led away by police. American diplomat Dan Biers was pushed away while making a statement near the courthouse. A United States embassy statement called for Pu's release and urged “China to uphold fundamental civil rights and fair trial guarantees”. Dozens of Pu's supporters gathered with banners in front of a residential compound next to the courthouse but were later dispersed by plainclothes security agents. Some supporters chanted: “Pu Zhiqiang, not guilty!” “He is a good lawyer who helped the underprivileged. He should never be convicted,” said Zhang Jie, a petitioner from Jilin province. Another petitioner from Henan province said: “How can he be charged just because of a few words he said?” Eva Pils, China law expert at King's College, London, said Pu's trial was “part of a crackdown on civil society... [and] was clearly related to his free speech advocacy and role as a government critic”. “The authorities have made it clear that they see rights lawyers in particular as enemies of the state... [and] that it treats the human rights movement as a subversive force it aims to annihilate,” she said. Pu's associates say the party-controlled judiciary will likely find him guilty to make an example of Pu as a way to warn other rights advocates. Pu suffers from diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Requests for bail have been rejected by the court. ^ top ^

China's top legislature schedules bimonthly session (Xinhua)
2015-12-15
The top legislature will convene its bimonthly session from Dec. 21 to 27 in Beijing, its chairman and vice chairpersons decided at a meeting on Monday. Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, presided over the meeting. The 18th bimonthly session of this NPC Standing Committee will see the continued review of draft laws covering counterterrorism, domestic violence, a national system of honors, education and charity. Lawmakers will deliberate bills to revise laws on wildlife protection, traditional Chinese medicine and family planning. Legislators will also review bills and reports concerning the fourth annual session by the 12th NPC, medical system reform, local government debt, and the implementation of the law on regional autonomy of ethnic minorities and the law on protecting senior people. During the session, lawmakers will decide whether to ratify a treaty of extradition of sentenced people between China and Iran, and a friendly cooperation treaty between China and Belarus proposed by the State Council. ^ top ^

CPC members required to waive some freedoms (Global Times)
2015-12-15
China's top discipline watchdog reminded Communist Party of China (CPC) members Monday that membership requires voluntarily waiving part of their rights and freedom, a move analysts believe stresses that Party disciplines are stricter than laws. Party members are citizens who shoulder "special political missions" and are bound by strict rules, read an article published on the website of the CPC's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) on Monday. "Ordinary citizens are free to choose their religious belief, while Party members are required to be atheist," Zhang Yaocan, a professor on political science and law at Central China Normal University, told the Global Times. He added that laws do not regulate the lifestyle of ordinary citizens, while Party disciplines impose a higher moral standard on its members, such as the ban on adultery and extravagance. The article explained Party members, especially Party officials, should not only observe laws as much as ordinary citizens do, but also follow disciplines. This is not the first time that the CCDI announced such a requirement. "Senior Party officials need to waive more as they shoulder greater responsibilities," China's top disciplinary inspector Wang Qishan said in an article on People's Daily in November 2014. The difference is the result of the CPC's repeated emphasis that Party disciplines are stricter than the country's laws and regulations. The CCDI's article read that the country's governance starts with Party governance, which needs to be stricter to affirm the leading role and ruling position of the CPC. "Party disciplines are stricter than laws, instead of being equal to laws … The bottom line for ordinary citizens is laws and Party members is different," said the CCDI article. However, stricter requirements do not mean Party members are deprived of freedom, said experts. "For instance, although Party members are banned from making groundless comments on major national and Party policies, they are provided with sufficient channels within the Party to discuss the policies," Jiang Mingan, a law professor at Peking University, told the Global Times. The two sets of Party rules, one on clean governance and the other on sanctions on those who violate the Party code of conduct will be implemented starting next year, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The new rules on punishments have been dubbed by many to be the most comprehensive and strictest since the opening up and reform drive began. ^ top ^

National massacre memorial held (Global Times)
2015-12-14
Sirens blared at 10 am as activities for the second National Memorial Day to commemorate the Nanjing Massacre were held in the capital of East China's Jiangsu province. "When we recall that day, one of the darkest and most painful scenes in our history rises once again before our eyes," Li Jianguo, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said at the Memorial Hall for the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre. He added that China will always remember the massacre. Japanese troops captured Nanjing, then China's capital, on December 13, 1937 and started a campaign of slaughter lasting over a month. More than 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers who had laid down their arms were murdered and over 20,000 women were raped. Li said the memorial shows that all reasonable people cherish peace and that history should be remembered to promote a peaceful future. The memorial is not meant to prolong hatred but to evoke the people's will to cherish and safeguard peace, he said, while warning against attempts in Japan to justify aggression. 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and China's overlapping war against the Japanese. Li said substantial progress has been made since China and Japan normalized relations in 1972. They should "continuously push forward good-neighborly and friendly cooperation and make joint contributions to world peace and human progress," he added. More than 10,000 people gathered outside the Memorial Hall and wore white flowers on their lapels as a symbol of condolence. People from Japan, the US, South Korea, Canada and Serbia also attended the memorial. Stephen Smith, UNESCO chair on Genocide Education, came to the hall for the second time. "Remembrance is the start of education," he said, adding that "we remember the past, so as to teach for the future." Commemorative events were also held in other sites across Nanjing. At a dock where more than 10,000 civilians were killed by Japanese forces, 78-year-old Feng Puqing mourned with 300 others. She said that her uncles and some other relatives were tortured to death by the Japanese. "It is not only a commemoration for the nation, but one for my own family." China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on Sunday held a memorial for Nanjing Massacre victims at the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defense. During the memorial, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying laid a wreath. In February 2014, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress designated December 13 as National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims. ^ top ^

Chinese court accepts NGO lawsuit against Volkswagen China (SCMP)
2015-12-16
A non-governmental organisation said a Chinese court in Tianjin had accepted its lawsuit against Volkswagen China, accusing it of worsening air pollution and breaking product quality laws. China changed environmental laws earlier this year to make it easier for NGOs to sue suspected polluters, and the legal action comes after VW admitted to faking emissions tests overseas. The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation said the court issued a document accepting the case on Thursday. “We have studied the air pollution problems induced by motor vehicles for a while,” Ma Yong, deputy secretary general of the foundation, a semi-official NGO, told the South China Morning Post. “There were other carmakers that had cheated on emissions tests in China. The VW scandal just gave us an opportunity to bring our first public case on air pollution.” A spokeswoman from VW China said in an email that the company paid close attention to the case and its legal department hadn't received the indictment paper from the court yet. In September, the world's second-largest carmaker admitted that it had installed emissions-cheating software on 11 million diesel-engine vehicles distributed worldwide. More than 1,900 made it to the mainland market through the Tianjin-registered importer. Beijing has pressed it to recall the vehicles, but no penalty has been imposed so far. “VW China will update the softwares installed on 1,950 diesel-engine vehicles that were imported into the Chinese market. Once relevant technical solutions are confirmed, we will report them to government authorities and explain them to affected consumers,” VW China's spokeswoman wrote. In its filing made late last month, the foundation said VW China should publicly apologise and be fined for allowing the vehicles into the country. By doing so, it had violated laws on environmental protection and product quality, and worsened air pollution, it alleged. The size of the fines the NGO is seeking has not been disclosed. This is the third reported case of public-interest litigation over air pollution brought by NGOs since revisions to the Environmental Protection Law came into effect in January, according to Friends of Nature, another environmental NGO. “On air pollution cases, it's difficult to collect evidence, unlike water or soil pollution cases where you can collect samples,” said Ge Feng, a legal consultant with Friends of Nature. Ma said most of the information they collected for their lawsuit case came from third-party organisations and environmental experts. This is the third NGO lawsuit successfully filed to mainland courts since January. Friends of Nature sued an aluminium maker over its emissions in a Qingzhen court in Guizhou. In November, the factory was ordered in November to issue an apology and pay legal fees. In March, the All-China Environment Federation filed a lawsuit with a court in Dezhou in Shandong province, seeking compensation of nearly 30 million yuan from a local glass manufacturer over its emissions. The court accepted the case but no decision has been reached yet. ^ top ^

China to spend 93 bln USD relocating 10 million people (Xinhua)
2015-12-15
China will spend 600 billion yuan (about 93 billion U.S. dollars) in the next five years to relocate about 10 million impoverished people, an official said on Tuesday. The investment at all government levels should match the determination of the central government in fighting poverty, Su Guoxia, spokesperson of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, said at a press conference. In 2016, spending on poverty alleviation by the central and provincial governments will increase by a large margin, Su added. Last week, the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council released a poverty alleviation instruction. The document followed a high-profile conference on the issue in Beijing late in November, during which the leadership pledged measures to help lift the country's remaining 70 million poor people out of poverty by 2020. The policy guideline calls for creative ideas and methods to address poverty and accelerating the relocation of poor people living in tough circumstances with fragile ecosystems or prone to natural disasters. Policy banks are supposed to provide favorable long-term loans for the relocation and the central budget should pay 90 percent of the interest, according to the document. Supported by favorable policies and measures, more than 600 million Chinese have escaped poverty in the past three decades, about 70 percent of the total global achievement. At the end of last year, 70 million people in the countryside lived below China's poverty line of 2,300 yuan in annual income by 2010 price standards. ^ top ^

China to adopt credit ratings for food, drug producers (China Daily)
2015-121-16
China Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday that a credit rating system will be introduced into the food and drug industries. The authorities plan to collect information about credit standing of food and drug producers and sellers to prepare a data bank by the end of 2016, according to a guideline released by the administration. The database which contains safety credit ratings of food and drug producers and sellers will be worked out by the end of 2020, the document said. All enterprises in the food and drug industries will be rated as A, B, C or D, respectively, in accordance with a national standard. The rating of C refers to lack of credit worthiness while D means an acute shortage of credit worthiness. According to the guideline, food and drug businesses with bad credit ratings will be harshly punished and such information about their credit standing will be made public in time. ^ top ^

Nine sentenced to death for drug dealing in south China (Xinhua)
2015-12-16
Nine people in a drug trafficking gang in south China's Guangdong Province have been sentenced to death, a court in Huizhou City announced Wednesday. The intermediate people's court in Huizhou sentenced nine to death for making and selling large quantities of drugs, with four of them given a two-year-reprieve. The 29-member gang was accused of making, trafficking, and selling more than 2.6 tonnes of ketamine from October 2013 to May 2014. Police busted the gang's drug-making facilities in Huicheng District of Huizhou City in May 2014, seizing more than 1.2 tonnes of ketamine on site. Another three people were given life sentences, while others in the ring were sentenced to terms from three to 19 years, according to the court. ^ top ^

Activists stand trial for attacking suspected maltreaters of animals (Global Times)
2015-12-17
Six animal rights activists stood trial recently in Shanghai after attacking and force-feeding animal excrement to two people whom the activists believed had maltreated and slaughtered cats. Though they are now out on bail, the activists have been charged in Pudong New Area People's Court with "picking quarrels and provoking trouble," and the verdict is expected to be announced as early as within one week, Fu Xinzhen, an official with the court's publicity department, told the Global Times on Wednesday. The six suspects tricked one male and one female, respectively surnamed Liu and Yi, into following the suspects into a grove of trees on July 30 under the pretense that the suspects were interested in adopting the victims' pets. The suspects believed that Liu and Yi were the torturers of cats shown in a viral video clip. One suspect surnamed Zeng realized that Liu and Yi were not the torturers after talking with them, but Zeng was told by the other five to continue with their planned attack. Another suspect surnamed Xu confessed in court that they still suspected Liu and Yi may have been involved in the mistreatment. Xu said she threw cat litter blended with cat poop onto the female victim's face while another suspect surnamed Cao cut her hair with scissors. Meanwhile, other activists beat up the male victim. Prosecutors pointed out that the suspects also stuffed the victims' mouths with dung. Liu and Yi were medically examined and found to have suffered minor injuries. Fu said four of the suspects who beat Liu and Yi paid a total of 185,000 yuan ($28,500) in damages to the victims. "I feel guilty about the attack. As an animal rights activist, I should protect not only animals, but also human beings," Xu said. ^ top ^

Airpocalypse III: worst smog of the year headed for northern China (SCMP)
2015-12-18
Parts of northern China will be engulfed from Saturday in the worst smog to hit the country this year, the National Meteorological Centre said on Thursday. The forecaster said the smog would persist until Tuesday, and would be worse than the conditions in Beijing between December 6 and 9, which prompted the capital to issue its top red alert for the first time. Visibility in Beijing and neighbouring regions will be down to less than 1km and in some places concentrations of PM2.5 pollutants – those most harmful to human health – will exceed 500 micrograms per cubic meter – 20 times higher than the World Health Organisation's recommended maximum. Beijing has been labouring under severe smog since the end of last month. It endured a particularly heavy five-day stretch from November 27. The smog returned after a brief respite, which led to authorities issuing the red alert and shutting schools and bringing in traffic controls. Beijingers complained of the inconvenience caused by the red alert, and criticised the authorities for failing to curb air pollution. The authorities said coal burning and car emissions were the main sources of pollutants. Residents said they spent a lot of money to buy air purifiers and seek medical treatment. Face masks also condoms in Beijing on online shopping platforms. Earlier this week, Shanghai and parts of the Yangtze River Delta were also blanketed in heavy smog, and a strong cold front from the mainland took airborne pollutants to Taiwan. ^ top ^

Political advisors call for efforts to boost family service (Global Times)
2015-12-18
Political advisors called for efforts to boost the development of family service industry on Thursday in order to increase employment and improve people's livelihood. In a biweekly consultation session presided over by top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng, members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference stressed that home services are closely related to people's life quality and should be given great importance. With increasing income and growing aged population in China, services for the elderly, the disabled and children are booming, the advisors said in the discussion. According to a statement issued after the session, political advisors suggested the government pay more attention and provide more supportive policies for the industry, including tax reductions and personnel training. Businesses in the industry should focus on market demand and non-government groups should also be encouraged to contribute to the sector's development.  ^ top ^

CPC disciplines 6,500 more officials (Global Times)
2015-12-18
The Communist Party of China's (CPC) top anti-graft body announced Thursday that over 6,500 officials were disciplined for violating austerity rules in November, bringing the total this year to 43,200. The officials, including four provincial- and ministerial-level officials, were involved in 4,800 cases, about a fourth of which involved unauthorized allowances and subsidies, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a report on its official website. Illicit gift-giving and receiving, unauthorized use of public vehicles and excessive government spending on receptions were included among the violations. The CCDI has established a monthly reporting system since August 2013 to monitor the implementation of the "eight-point rules," introduced by the CPC to reduce bureaucracy, extravagance, and undesirable work habits.  ^ top ^

Chinese cities cited as models for developing public transportation system
2015-12-18
Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai were cited as models as experts discussed in Istanbul on Thursday how to develop a "reliable" public transportation system in the face of growing urbanization. The participants of a symposium on international transportation technologies highlighted the importance of public transportation systems to cope with fast urbanization around the globe. In most European countries, the urbanization rate is over 70 percent, latest figures show. "Facing with such an immense urbanization growth, experts urged the authorities to find ways to develop reliable public transportation systems based on performance and quality," said Mumin Kahveci, general director of Istanbul Energy, Tramway and Tunnel Directorate (IETT). He drew attention to the environmental sensitivity in creating new public transportation systems. "Hereupon I declare that Turkey will be dedicated to the Paris accord on climate change and do its best in reducing greenhouse gas emission," he said. Former London mayor Kenneth Livingstone encouraged the participants to analyze the cases of Beijing and Shanghai in developing public transportation systems in a functional and fastest way. "I have been very impressed by Beijing and Shanghai mayors by just the way that they take decisions very quickly and push the government to improve the system," Livingstone said, calling on mayors in the world to establish a mechanism that accelerates the decision-making process. He also advised the transportation experts against focusing on building new roads but on creating new ways to encourage people to use public transport. "In fact, by creating new roads you are at the same time attracting more and more cars to the city centers," he explained. As part of the symposium, IETT introduced new thematic buses including a kindergarten bus, a movie bus, an exhibition bus and a nostalgic bus. The symposium, the eighth of its kind, drew more than one hundred mayors, academicians and transportation experts from 10 countries. ^ top ^

China's disabled elderly people to reach 100 mln by mid-century (Global Times)
2015-12-18
The number of elderly people with disabilities or dementia in China will reach 100 million by mid-century when the country's aged population hits its peak, according to an international seminar on long-term care for the elderly. With the number currently approaching 40 million, taking care of these elderly people has become one of the toughest tasks for China's elderly care system, according to the seminar on long-term care for the elderly held here on Wednesday. According to experts at the seminar, a long-term care system can provide disabled elderly people with full service, but such service still has a long way to go in China. "Better developed regions should be encouraged to take the lead in setting up long-term care systems," said Wang Jianjun, an official at a national office on aging. The number of people aged over 65 in China reached 137 million at the end of 2014, accounting for 10.1 percent of the country's population, statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics showed. ^ top ^

10 execs suspected of faking pollution data (China Daily)
2015-12-18
The Chinese police have detained 10 company heads suspected of fabricating pollution data, as the nation extends a crackdown on environment-related crimes. The suspects are from eight companies, including a sewage plant in Dongguan, Guangdong province, and a joint venture invested by Coca-Cola in Gansu province. They are accused of falsifying figures to get pollution treatment subsidies, manipulating environment monitoring results or hindering such monitoring, Zou Shoumin, head of the environment inspection bureau at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said on Thursday. The ministry reported the cases to the police, as it does not have the authority to detain people. Some of the suspects may face criminal lawsuits, the ministry said. Under Chinese law, a person convicted of polluting the environment can receive a prison term up to seven years. To encourage pollution treatment, the Chinese government has offered considerable subsidies. The plant in Dongguan fabricated the volume of pollution it treated, inflating the number to gain an extra 20 million yuan ($3.1 million) in subsidies. It is also suspected of deception by illegally pumping clean water into its sewers to dilute wastewater and make it seem better for water quality tests, the ministry said. The ministry said it has conducted special inspections to uncover environmental fraud since July, and used new technologies to detect wrongdoing, including drone aircraft. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Diversion eases water needs, but Beijing faces shortage (Global Times)
2015-12-13
Water diverted from the Yangtze River has helped ease Beijing's chronic water shortage over the past year, yet the city needs ever more water as well as greater conservation efforts to tackle the issue. Saturday marked the first anniversary of the start of the water diversion through the middle route of the massive south-to-north water diversion project. The project is the largest of its kind at an estimated cost of 500 billion yuan ($77.5 billion). It was officially approved by the State Council, China's cabinet, in 2002, five decades after late Chairman Mao Zedong came up with the idea. The first phase of the middle route is designed to eventually deliver an average of 9.5 billion cubic meters of water each year from the Danjiangkou Reservoir in Central China's Hubei Province to the northern provinces of Hebei and Henan as well as Beijing and Tianjin, benefiting some 100 million people. In the first year, it diverted 2.22 billion cubic meters of water northward, and Beijing took 822 million cubic meters, or more than one third of the total, according to the administration bureau of the project's middle route. The amount is expected to reach 880 million cubic meters by the end of this year, said Sun Guosheng, director of the project's Beijing office. The diverted water provides over 60 percent of Beijing's tap water supply. Meanwhile, per capita water resources in the capital have surged from 100 cubic meters to 150 cubic meters, Sun said. "The project has secured water resources for Beijing while protecting its underground water resources," Sun added. Beijing previously relied heavily on underground water and the excessive exploitation led to decline of underground water levels and subsequent land subsidence in the past years. By the end of November, Beijing exploited 95 million cubic meters less underground water year on year, according to the Beijing Water Authority. Meanwhile, authorities pumped some portion of the diverted water to several over-exploited local water sources to raise the underground water level and improve the ecosystem. As a result, Beijing has seen a slower decline of underground water levels. The underground water level in October this year was 0.33 meters lower than last year while the level in October 2014 was 1.15 meters lower than the previous year. The underground water must be compensated, or otherwise continuous excessive exploitation could lead to disaster, said E Jingping, director of the Office of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project Commission. Treasure water A dry climate and a large population have left Beijing with a severe water shortage. On average, it needs more than 3.6 billion cubic meters of water every year, but its own water resources only amount to 2.1 billion cubic meters a year. Although the city's water shortage has been alleviated this year by the diversion project, it remains one of the main factors hindering the capital's sustainable development, said Sun. Sun said Beijing will need more water from outside in the future as the population rises and city expands. Xu Xinyi, head of the water research institute under Beijing Normal University, said the regions along the central route should boost their water conservation efforts. Apart from conservation, the country should also adjust its industrial structure and limit water-consuming sectors, said Zhang Tong, deputy chief of the Beijing Institute of Water. "As common citizens, we should treasure and conserve water," said Liu Liping, a doctor in Beijing, recalling the clean rivers of her childhood. "Hundreds of thousands of people once living in the water source region have been relocated for the project. We should be grateful and never forget their sacrifice," she said. Water resource experts said that diverting water from more water-rich southern regions will only alleviate Beijing's shortage temporarily, and that in the long run, the capital has to control its population growth as well as restructuring its economy. ^ top ^

Beijing launches Organizing Committee for 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (Xinhua)
2015-12-15
Seven years after hosting the Summer Olympics, the Chinese capital launched the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (Beijing 2022), promising a "fantastic, extraordinary and excellent" Games. Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli addressed the launch ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on Tuesday, saying that "to host a successful Winter Games is China's solemn commitment to the Olympic Family", as well as "an important move to push for the coordinated development" of Beijing and neighboring cities. China aims to create a new economic belt and environment-friendly zone, incorporating the surrounding Hebei Province, and Tianjin, a port city to the capital's southeast. Zhang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said that Chinese leaders attached great importance to the preparation for the Games. Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the organizers to "work harder to host a fantastic, extraordinary and excellent Games". Xi stressed a "green" Olympics and called for a heightened level of city management, broader appeal of winter sports in China, stricter budget control and strengthened supervision. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the 2022 Olympics on July 31 to Beijing, the host to the 2008 Summer Games. Beijing 2022 President Guo Jinlong said the organizers will study the Host City Contract (HCC) and Olympic Agenda 2020 before they map out a detailed task agenda. […] The Olympic chief praised Beijing's efforts to comply with the reformative Olympic Agenda 2020 and expressed his confidence in the organizers. "It is impressive how quickly Beijing embraced Olympic Agenda 2020 - our strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement," he said. "If we continue to work together in this spirit of Olympic Agenda 2020, we can be confident in the success of the Games in 2022," he added. Bach also said that he was "convinced that the organization of the Games is placed in safe hands". As second-time Olympic organizers, Beijing enjoys the legacy from the 2008 Olympics which left the iconic "Bird's Nest" national stadium and the "Water Cube" aquatics center. These stadiums will once again become the Olympic venues in 2022. Eight venues will be built or rebuilt in Zhangjiakou, where most of the snow events will be held. To link the two cities, the construction of a high-speed railway has already begun and will be fully operational in 2019. Another legacy from the 2008 Games is a group of experienced staff who now work for Beijing 2022. However, an open mind to advanced international practices remains with the organizers. "We will enhance the communication with the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee, further cooperate with the International Federations, and listen to their advice on stadium construction, competition arrangement and talent training," Guo said. China is seeking to impress the world not only as a good host but also as a sport power. "We will promote winter sports and develop winter sports industry in a bid to attract 300 million people to ice and snow," said Chinese Olympic Committee President Liu Peng, also Beijing 2022 Executive President. "In terms of competition, we are going to mobilize the resource all over the nation to achieve excellent results," Liu said. The launch ceremony was also attended by Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun and Hebei Governor Zhang Qingwei.. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

China says senior Uygur official killed during raid in Xinjiang (SCMP)
2015-12-14
A senior ethnic Uygur security official was killed in a police raid on a “nest of terrorists”, state media reported on the weekend, giving details on a previously unannounced operation in the far western region of Xinjiang. Hundreds of people have been killed in the past few years in the region which is home to the mainly Muslim Uygur people in violence blamed by the government on Islamist militants seeking an independent state called East Turkestan. In a report on Saturday, People's Daily named the dead official as Maimaitijiang Tuohuniyazi, a deputy head of public security in Aksu, a vast part of western Xinjiang that borders Kyrgyzstan. It said domestic security chief Meng Jianzhu, who is now in Urumqi, offered condolences to Tuohuniyazi's widow, praising him as a brave and selfless man. “To rescue a herder who had been kidnapped by terrorists, he threw himself into the breach, charged into the nest of terrorists and unfortunately heroically sacrificed himself,” the paper said, without giving other details. At least 16 people, including five police officers, were killed in an attack at a colliery in Aksu in September. Security forces later said they had killed 28 “terrorists” involved in that attack. The report said Meng took part in an award ceremony for those involved in tracking down the coal mine attackers. Meng said that over the past year, security services had “obvious successes” in cracking down on terrorism, and had succeeded in stopping “more than 98 per cent” of terror plots in the planning stage. The mainland's battle against the violence in Xinjiang has been hampered by poor intelligence in a part of the country where few officials understand the Uygur language or Islam and the government has had difficulty recruiting Uygur operatives, diplomats and experts say. Meng has said the government needs to improve its intelligence gathering and sharing to better deal with the threat of terrorism. ^ top ^

Natl security chief meets former terrorists in visit to Xinjiang prison (Global Times)
2015-12-15
China's top security official spoke with several former religious extremists serving prison sentences in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region during his trip to the region on Friday and Saturday, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said on Monday. Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, visited the Xinjiang No.1 Prison, where one-third of prisoners are convicted terrorists. During his trip to the prison, Meng talked to a group of prisoners meeting with religious scholars in the facility's classroom. Meng encouraged prisoners to carefully study authentic religious doctrine and share their experiences with more people to help others learn the dangers of religious extremism. According to the MPS website, Meng said that religious extremism deviates from and distorts religious doctrines under the cloak of religion, misleading the public and harming the country. Police at the prison said that although the prisoners with whom Meng spoke were former masterminds of extremist and terrorist groups, they cooperated with the regional government and helped inform the public about the true nature of religious extremism by sharing their experiences and opinions. Meng expressed his gratitude to religious scholars who gave lectures to prisoners and urged judiciary departments to step up education and management of terrorist inmates. Meng's visit to the prison is part of his research and investigation trip to Urumqi, Xinjiang's regional capital. While visiting the police facility at the Urumqi South Railway Station, Meng said that public venues such as railway stations are the weak link in public security. Local police should strengthen defense systems to cope with new features of the security situation, he said. An attack on an Urumqi market on May 22, 2014 killed 31 people and injured 94, and terrorists killed three and injured 79 at an Urumqi railway station on April 30, 2014.. ^ top ^

Xinjiang authorities release photos of suspects in Baicheng coal mine attack (Global Times)
2015-12-16
Xinjiang authorities have released the photos of two lead suspects in the Baicheng attack that allegedly killed 11 citizens and five police officers in September. Photos of Memet Eysa and Musa Toxtiniyaz were shown on a news program on Xinjiang TV on Sunday. An interview with Turghun Memet, another suspect in the attack, was also aired on Sunday. Turghun allegedly turned himself under that advice of his family after being widely hunted by police. On September 18, attackers raided a coal mine in Baicheng county, Aksu prefecture, killing 11 citizens and five police officers, while injuring another 18 people, local media ts.cn reported. Xinjiang police said in November that after a 46-day manhunt, they have eliminated a terror group that was directly controlled by an extremist organization outside of China. Police said that all 28 of the group's members had been killed, with the exception of one terrorist who had turned himself in. ^ top ^

Photos of lead suspects in China's Xinjiang coal mine attack released (SCMP)
2015-12-17
Chinese authorities on Sunday published for the first time photos of two lead suspects believed to be behind a September attack in China's predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang. The September 18 attack on a coal mine in Aksu prefecture's Baicheng county that claimed the lives of 11 civilians and five policemen, was orchestrated by a terrorist group in collaboration with foreign extremists, the official mouthpiece Xinjiang Daily reported in November. A previous report by the US-based Radio Free Asia said the miners were mostly Han migrant workers. The official Xinjiang Television Station on Sunday broadcast news footage on the more-than-50-day police operation to hunt down the suspects. It also posted the pictures of Musa Tohniyaz and Memet Aysatwo, allegedly the masterminds behind the attack. The TV station did not mention the name of the gang nor the whereabouts of the pair. One attacker turned himself in and the rest had all been shot dead by November 12, according to official reports. News footage showed police officers and herders searching for the attackers in the mountains. Some policemen were holding rifles and others were riding horses. Villagers were mostly armed with shovels and rakes. More than 50,000 civilians in the region participated in the “people's war against terrorism” to hunt the attackers, the report said. The prefecture's deputy police chief, Memetjan Tohniyaz, was ambushed and killed by the attackers while protecting herders who were guidinig the search. The footage also showed one of the attackers, Turghun, who turned himself in. Turghun told Xinjiang TV how he joined the gang. “They said we needed to fight jihad, and that dying in jihad would take us to heaven. I was given a knife and told, 'chop and kill these people then you will enter heaven'. Then I killed a man running in front of me,” Turghun said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Elsie Tu funeral: Former Hong Kong leaders Tung Chee-hwa and Donald Tsang to join CY Leung as pallbearers (SCMP)
2015-12-18
The funeral of legendary politician and champion of the underprivileged Elsie Tu, who died at 102 earlier this month, will be held on Sunday with two former and current chief executives of the city among the eight pallbearers. Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa and his successor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen will carry the casket of Tu at Sunday's funeral at Universal Funeral Parlour in Hung Hom at noon, along with the incumbent city chief Leung Chun-ying, according to an announcement from the Elsie Tu Education Fund. It is understood that Tu's funeral will be the first in Hong Kong where both former and the current chief executives are among the pallbearers. A cremation ceremony at the Cape Collinson Crematorium in Chai Wan will be held after the funeral and Tu's ashes will be buried with the remains of her husband Andrew Tu Hsueh-kwei. The English-born lawmaker, social activist and anti-corruption campaigner died of pneumonia at the United Christian Hospital on December 8. During her 64 years in Hong Kong, Tu became a legend, admired by political allies and foes alike for her tireless support of the poor. Elsie Elliott is presented with a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1978 by Sir Murray MacLehose. Photo: SCMP Pictures Born in England in 1913, Tu and her then-husband William Elliot moved to Hong Kong to carry out missionary work in 1951. They divorced soon after. Tu served as a lawmaker from 1988 to 1995, and in the Provisional Legislative Council from 1997 to 1998. The central government's liaison office deputy director Qiu Hong, deputy director of the Basic Law Committee Elsie Leung Oi-sie, and Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing will also pay the final mark of respect to Tu. Tu was dubbed the “real spirit of Hong Kong”by the Mu Kuang English School which she founded with her late second husband Andrew Tu Hsueh-kwei in Kwun Tong in 1954. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Demarcation of Macao's maritime, land zones drafted (Xinhua)
2015-12-16
An executive meeting of the State Council, China's cabinet, on Wednesday passed a draft map of administrative divisions demarcating the maritime and land zones of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR). The draft adjusts Macao's land demarcation and clarifies maritime zones, which will help Macao keep prosperous and stable and realize sustainable economic and social development, according to the meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. There was no clear demarcation of sea zones between Macao and the mainland's Guangdong, and sometimes overlapping jurisdiction has caused problems in fighting crime at sea and navigation safety. According to the draft, an area of 85 square km of sea east and south of Macao is administered by the SAR. The border inspection building is also demarcated under the administration of Macao. The new demarcation will create favorable conditions for moderate diversification in Macao's economy as well as its long-term prosperity and stability, said a spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council. According to the Basic Law of the Macao SAR, the areas within the Macao's administrative division are administered in line with the laws of the SAR. The spokesperson said the central government and Macao SAR will continue implementing "one country, two systems" policy and the Basic Law of Macao SAR. ^ top ^

Macao SAR ready to administer maritime zone effectively (Global Times)
2015-12-18
The Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) government is ready to administer the maritime zone effectively, the Government Spokesperson's Office said. Under a draft map of administrative divisions approved on Wednesday by the State Council, an area of 85 square km of sea east and south of Macao and a border inspection building are to be administered by the Macao SAR. O Lam, head of the Chief Executive's Office, told a press conference on Wednesday night that the administration of maritime zone would be strictly in accordance with the law. Any proposal for land reclamation would be reported to the central government, and there would be no gaming facilities operated in the zone, she said. The official emphasized Macao's respect of the central government's jurisdiction over defense and foreign affairs matters in the maritime zone. An interdepartmental group, led by Chief Executive Chui Sai On, will be set up in charge of planning the further diversified cooperation between Macao and Guangdong province for the enduring prosperity of the region, she said. The Macao SAR government has reached agreements with the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Water Resources, and the State Oceanic Administration to facilitate the access of vessels from the mainland and ensure the navigation safety, according to the official. Head of a joint task group and director of the Macao Marine and Water Bureau Wong Soi Man said three administrative regulations would be issued as well in support of the administration of the maritime zone. Wong Sio Chak, secretary for security and interim director general of the Macao Customs Service, said the SAR government would acquire several patrol boats and expand the maritime patrol team to 190 people. The demarcation of Macao's maritime and land zone will facilitate the Macao SAR government to engage in environmental management near Canal dos Patos, a waterway between Macao and Zhuhai, a city of neighboring Guangdong province, according to Director of the Cartography and Cadastre Bureau Cheong Sio Kei. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

US President Obama's administration due to approve sale of frigates to Taiwan 'this week' (SCMP)
2015-12-16
The Obama administration is expected as soon as this week to authorise the sale of two guided missile frigates to Taiwan, US congressional sources said on Monday, in spite of Beijing's opposition to the deal. “We're expecting an announcement as early as this week,” a Republican congressional aide said. Another congressional aide said the notification from the administration was expected “any time now”. The sale would mark the first time in four years that the United States had shipped arms to Taiwan, the longest gap in such arms sales in nearly four decades. The US Congress believe the process has been held up by the Obama administration's desire to maintain stable working relations with Beijing, which considers Taiwan a renegade province. Some members of the Senate and the House of Representative have been putting pressure on the White House to move forward. The halt of arm sales was also partly because of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's pro-China policy. His Kuomintang party tried not to irritate mainland Chinese especially in his second term in the past four years, according to analysts. “This is positive and helpful towards promoting regional peace and stability,” Taiwanese defence ministry spokesman Major General David Lo said on Tuesday in Taipei, adding that the ministry has not received official notice about the authorisation. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said its position on opposing US arms sales to Taiwan was clear and consistent. Such sales are “interference in China's internal affairs, damage the peaceful development of ties across the Taiwan Strait and Sino-US ties”, he said in Beijing. “We urge the US side to earnestly recognise the high sensitivity and serious harm of weapons sales to Taiwan.” The arm sales come ahead of Taiwan's presidential election next month, in which Tsai Ing-wen, the pro-independence candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party is the front runner in opinion polls. The new arms sale came at a sensitive time but was unlikely to change levels of public support for the presidential candidates, said Li Jiaquan, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Taiwan Studies. “To some extent it is a signal by the Americans to embolden the DPP,” Li said. The Americans did not want to see a war across the Taiwan Strait, but also did not want the mainland's fast-growing military to easily overpower the self-ruled island, Li said. It comes a year after US Congress authorised the sale of up to four Perry-class frigates to the island. Taiwan has said it expects to pay about US$176 million for the two vessels and that it would review its needs before making a decision on two more. ^ top ^

China strongly opposes U.S. arms sale to Taiwan (Xinhua)
2015-12-17
China's Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang on Wednesday summoned Kaye Lee, charge d'affaires of the U.S. embassy in China, and made solemn representations to the United States over its arms sale to Taiwan. Zheng made the statement shortly after the U.S. administration announced a 1.83-billion-U.S.-dollar arms sale package for Taiwan. "Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. China strongly opposes the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan," Zheng said. The arms sale severely goes against international law and the basic norms of international relations, severely goes against the principles in the three China-U.S. joint communiques, and severely harms China's sovereignty and security interests, he said. "To safeguard our national interests, China has decided to take necessary measures, including imposing sanctions against the companies involved in the arms sale," Zheng said. "No one can shake the firm will of the Chinese government and people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to oppose foreign interference," the vice minister said. China urges the United States to abide by the clear commitment it has made in the three joint communiques, revoke the arms sale plan, and stop military contact with Taiwan, so as to avoid bringing further damage to China-U.S. relations and bilateral cooperation in major areas, Zheng added. ^ top ^

Chinese mainland, Taiwan communicating on proposed hotline (Global Times)
2015-12-16
The State Council Taiwan Affairs Office said Wednesday it is actively communicating and consulting with authorities in Taiwan on setting up a hotline for mainland and Taiwan affairs. Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office,said at a press briefing that the office and Taiwan's mainland affairs body are "wasting no time" in handling the matter. The Chinese mainland and Taiwan agreed to set up a hotline between the heads of the Chinese mainland's Taiwan affairs organ and Taiwan's mainland affairs body in a historic meeting between Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore in November. The spokesperson said the hotline would help the two sides increase exchanges and dialogue, and enhance political mutual trust. It would also help resolve various issues between the two sides through consultation on equal footing as well as help manage differences and reduce misjudgments, according to the spokesperson. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Billions in gold tax evaded in Chinese invoice scam: CCTV (SCMP)
2015-12-15
A Shenzhen company used loopholes in bullion trading to help it and downstream companies evade billions of yuan in taxes, state television reported yesterday. In a crackdown on tax fraud by the taxation and public security authorities in Shenzhen, the company, Longhaitong, was discovered to have used 143 invoices to buy 868.8 million yuan (HK$1 billion) in spot gold through members of the Shanghai Gold Exchange, state-run China Central Television reported, without specifying when the transactions occurred. Members of the bullion exchange are allowed to conduct spot gold transactions without having to pay a 17 per cent value-added tax. According to the report, the invoices helped Longhaitong 147.7 million yuan in tax. “The company got the invoices from the Shanghai Gold Exchange and offered these invoices to other companies. And these invoices are for gold VAT [exemptions],” Tong Zhenji, an official with the Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau, was quoted as saying. The company then sold the invoices to companies charging a 6 per cent fee so that these firms, who were not members of the Shanghai Gold Exchange, could also trade gold tax-free, the report said. The report said Longhaitong and other companies could have evaded as much as 6 billion yuan in taxes in total. A Shenzhen public security official said Longhaitong would sell back the gold to the exchange member it had originally bought it through, closing the fake transaction. “It [Longhaitong] just wanted to get the gold invoices, so they had to sell the goods [the gold it bought from the members]. So there were actually no such transactions and the trades were fake,” the official was quoted as saying. The company was making use of the loopholes that some members of Shanghai Gold Exchange might not need the invoices when trading gold, the CCTV report said. Established in 2002, the Shanghai Gold Exchange is the world's largest physical bullion exchange with gold transactions in the first half of this year reached 17,520 tonnes, an increase of 166 per cent from the same period of last year. Silver transactions rose 151 per cent in the first six months from a year ago to 380,000 tonnes. Earlier this year, mainland authorities launched a crackdown against tax evasion by multinationals, implementing new regulations aimed at “unreasonable” payments such as for service and royalties to overseas-related parties. The State Administration of Taxation said tax audit had discovered instances of multinationals on the mainland making unreasonable payments to related parties overseas. ^ top ^

China pinpoints major economic tasks for 2016 (Xinhua)
2015-12-14
The Communist Party of China (CPC) identified major tasks for the government's economic work in 2016, the first year of China's 13th five-year plan, on Monday. The country should expand the effective demand on the housing market by turning more migrant rural workers into urban residents in order to reduce high housing inventory, according to a statement released after a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. China will continue to promote mass entrepreneurship and innovation and reduce costs for companies, including transaction costs, tax burdens, social insurance fees and financial costs, the statement said. ^ top ^

European development bank approves China's application to become shareholder (SCMP)
2015-12-15
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has accepted China as a shareholder, another step forward in Beijing's ambitions to widen its international influence. The green light by the bank's governors announced on Monday gives China a token but symbolic 0.1 per cent stake in the EBRD and a new way of extending its global reach after its recent steps to boost trade links with Europe and Asia. It also gives China – the 65th EBRD shareholder country – another foothold in an international organisation. “China's membership of the EBRD will open up significant further opportunities for sustainable investment by Chinese groups in the regions where the EBRD works,” an EBRD statement said, quoting the bank's president, Suma Chakrabarti. Set up in 1991 to invest in the former Soviet bloc countries of eastern Europe, the EBRD has expanded its reach in recent years. It now invests in Mongolia, Turkey and the economies affected by the Arab Spring, such as Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan. More recently, it added euro-zone crisis countries Greece and Cyprus to its list. Lebanon is also expected to become a member country in the coming days. China, though, will only be providing rather than receiving money with its new membership. It may, however, benefit through EBRD projects in countries such as Kazakhstan that overlap with its “One Belt, One Road” initiative. “Joining in the EBRD will help both sides to share experience on economic transition and development, provide new opportunities for cooperation between China and the countries along the Silk Road,” the People's Bank of China said. China's membership would also provide investment and cooperation opportunities for both sides in areas including central and eastern Europe, the eastern and southern areas of the Mediterranean as well as Central Asia, the PBOC said. The EBRD has also said it would like to do joint work with the new Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Cui Hongjian, head of the China Institute of International Studies' European studies department, said China could learn from the EBRD how to run multinational financial institutions. “The existing finance institutions and instruments are not enough, given its plan to hugely invest in the European countries,” Cui said. Renmin University international relations professor Wang Yiwei said China was raising its profile in the international financial market, and joining the EBRD could promote the internationalisation of the yuan. “Joining the EBRD and working within an existing European mechanism could relieve the EU's concerns that China is challenging its influence,” Wang said. ^ top ^

Report: Layoffs may loom next year (China Daily)
2015-12-17
China's "invisible unemployment" will become more visible next year, a top Chinese think tank's report warned, as it urged the government to allow more unviable State-owned enterprises to go under. Invisible unemployment has been the topic of heated discussion recently. In contrast to outright layoffs, invisible unemployment is the practice by which profit-losing State-owned enterprises adopt a strategy of idling employees while giving them part of their wages. They do so due to pressure from employees as well as from authorities to prevent social unrest. However, the annual economic forecast from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences predicts that because of the glut of capacity in the heavy industry sector, more SOEs in the sector will "inevitably" face restructuring and bankruptcy next year, and lay-offs will increase. "With the export sector encountering difficulties as more labor-intensive companies move abroad, jobs created by the sector will drop. However, the service sector will provide more jobs," the report said. The warning came as Wuhan Iron & Steel Co, a major SOE, reportedly plans to slash 6,000 jobs in three months, while its parent company might cut 11,000 jobs and reduce salaries by 20 percent next year. Wuhan Iron & Steel spokesman Sun Jin said the company is planning a "human resources optimization". The changes will differ from layoffs, since they won't alter workers' "salaries or organizational relationships" with the company, and the company would still fund their insurance and pension plans, Sun said. Analysts said this appears to be a typical "invisible unemployment" case. In the first three quarters, the company had a net loss of 1 billion yuan ($155 million), while the sale of every metric ton of steel incurred a loss of 32 yuan, according to the company's financial report. Zhou Fangsheng, deputy director of the China Enterprise Reform and Development Society, said his recent survey of Northeast China found that the percentage of SOEs losing money is catching up with the level of the late 1990s, the worst period for SOEs, when 39.7 percent faced losses. Many companies have halted or partially ceased production, which has delayed wage payments. The CASS report urged the government to give bankruptcy of SOEs a higher priority next year. Failure to do so will "amplify the risks of market-oriented reform", it warned. ^ top ^

China to further streamline administrative approval (Xinhua)
2015-12-16
China's cabinet, the State Council, decided on Wednesday to further streamline administration by "separating" business licenses from administrative permits to create a more favorable business environment. The pilot reform, which allows some companies to get their businesses running without obtaining administrative permits, will be practiced in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai, said a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. In some areas where the market mechanism is effective and self discipline is well in place, administrative permits will be canceled, said the statement. For the sector of processing trade, administrative permits will be replaced by registration, and companies can start their business activity as soon as they submitted relevant documents to authorities. In some other areas where administrative permits cannot be canceled for the time being, the process will become easier and companies can have their permits immediately after submitting materials, added the statement. On the other hand, for sectors involving public security and environmental protection, administrative approval will get stricter so as to strengthen risk control, the cabinet said. It has been high on the agenda of the government to streamline administration and delegate powers to lower levels with an aim to unleash economic vitality. The State Council agencies have canceled or delegated administrative approval power for 537 items since March 2013, meeting the pledged target of cutting the number of items requiring administrative approval by one-third within the term of this government -- two years ahead of schedule, official data showed. The number of investment projects subject to central government approval is down by 76 percent. In the meeting, the State Council also approved major hydropower and nuclear power projects, vowing to continue developing clean energy to secure steady economic growth. ^ top ^

Fallout from Fed interest rate rise will affect China, Beijing admits, as analysts predict fall in value of yuan (SCMP)
2015-12-18
When the US Federal Reserve entered its rate-hike cycle in 2004, Beijing was unworried about then-Fed chairman Alan Greenspan's decision China was the world's sixth-biggest economy, its financial market was largely closed to the outside world, and the yuan was undervalued. All that has changed in the 11 years since. Now, with the Fed raising interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday – its first in roughly a decade – China can't afford not to concern itself with the fallout. The US interest rate hike also comes ahead of a key meeting by Communist Party leaders to map out economic work for the next year. State-run People's Daily reported yesterday that the Central Economic Work Conference would start today. “In the last Fed rate cycle, China was still in the back seat, watching the Fed move from afar and probably wondering how central banking works,” said Sun Lijian, a finance professor at Fudan University in Shanghai. […] “Almost everyone has been expecting the Fed to act and China's stock investors have been factoring this in for a long time as well,” said Luo Yi, chief analyst at Huatai Securities in Shenzhen. “When it happened, it was quite natural to see China's stock prices rise.” Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said the Fed's move would generate “some direct or indirect impacts” on China's cross-border trade and investment, and the central government was still assessing the possible effects of the move. The Fed rate hike comes as economic growth is set to slow this year to its lowest level in decades, and investment confidence is struggling to recover from the summer's stock market crisis. The share market meltdown saw the Shanghai Composite Index fall below 3,000 in late August from a peak of 5,166 on July 15. These factors did not escape the Fed's notice. In June, it cited market volatility and China's economic slowdown as a reasons for holding off a rate increase. China's economic performance has barely improved in the time since, although the stock market has become less volatile. “The game's first half is over, and China has learned lessons from the past and is ready to get into the second half,” said Ding Zhijie, a dean with the University of International Business and Economics. “The biggest risk for China is a disorderly capital outflow – if it can be managed properly, then there's no big worry.”3. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

Beijing no-show by N Korean leader's hand-picked pop band points to diplomatic rift with China: analysts (SCMP)
2015-12-14
The abrupt cancellation of several concerts in Beijing by North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un's favourite pop band suggested big differences between the two countries over nuclear weapons and political protocol, analysts said yesterday. Even though officials said the two nations would continue exchanges, the cancellation showed ties were deteriorating, the observers said. The Moranbong Band, an all-women group whose members are hand-picked by Kim, and North Korea's State Merited Chorus, left Beijing on Saturday just hours before they were due to take the stage at the National Centre for the Performing Arts. Xinhua said the performance was cancelled because of “communication issues at the working level”. “China attaches high importance to cultural exchanges with North Korea, and is ready to continue to work with it to promote bilateral exchanges and cooperation in culture and all other areas,” the brief report said, without elaborating. The cancellation came two days after Kim said the nation had turned into “a powerful nuclear weapons state ready to detonate an A-bomb and H-bomb”. The concerts had been seen as a sign of better relations between North Korea and its neighbour, ties that had been strained by Pyongyang's nuclear test in 2013. South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed Chinese official as saying that Pyongyang had initially asked that President Xi Jinping or Premier Li Keqiang attend the show. China agreed to send a Politburo member, but then opted for lower-ranking officials. Jilin University international relations professor Sun Xingjie said if the concerts had gone ahead, it would have been hailed as a sign of warming relations but the cancellation suggested ties were on the slide again. “Performances by North Korean groups are never just cultural activities. Senior leaders of at least Politburo Standing Committee level need to be in attendance. It demonstrates mutual political trust by leaders of the two countries,” Sun said. “The Xinhua statement showed Beijing tried to downplay the event as a regular cultural exchange, and thus it would have sent a low-ranking official to minimise its significance. Clearly it is not a perspective shared by North Korea.” Cui Zhiying, from Shanghai's Tongji University, said North Korea's nuclear ambitions ran counter to Beijing's push for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Sun said that if a state leader watched the show it would be interpreted as Beijing tolerating, if not endorsing, North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, contradicting its official stand. ^ top ^

China still keen on North Korea exchanges despite no-show by Kim Jong-un's hand-picked Moranbong girl band (SCMP)
2015-12-14
China wants to keep pushing ahead with cultural exchanges with North Korea, China's Foreign Ministry said on Monday, after an all-female North Korean pop group formed by leader Kim Jong Un abruptly cancelled a Beijing concert and went home. The Moranbong Band was visiting China along with North Korea's State Merited Chorus and was to perform at Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts last Saturday. China's official Xinhua news agency said the performance could not be staged because of “communication issues at the working level”. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing he had nothing to add to the Xinhua report. “China pays great attention to cultural exchanges with North Korea and is willing along with North Korea to keeping pushing cooperation forward on all levels, including cultural exchanges,” Hong said, without elaborating. Speculation has swirled about the reason for the cancellation. On Sunday, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the North Koreans might have cancelled the show after China decided to send a lower-ranking delegation in protest over Kim's apparent claim last week that the North possessed a hydrogen bomb. The Global Times, an influential Chinese tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, in an editorial on Monday called what happened a “glitch” that would not affect China's ties with North Korea, although he admitted the cancellation was “a bit odd”. “Given the strategic relationship between the two, the atmosphere surrounding the show might have a short-term impact, but will not affect the basis of their strategic relations,” the tabloid said, without offering its own explanation for the cancellation. The band is Kim's pet project as he tries to put his personal stamp on North Korean arts, and the short haircuts of the group's young women members are trend-setting in the capital, Pyongyang. The ensemble, whose members were reportedly handpicked by Kim, was formed in 2012, and the China show was to be their first overseas. Chinese media said they were to give three Beijing concerts. There has been no word from North Korea on the band's departure. Their visit was seen as an indication of improving relations between China and its isolated neighbour. China – North Korea's main economic and diplomatic backer – was infuriated in 2013 when Kim ordered the country's third nuclear test. Several subsequent rounds of sabre rattling by North Korea towards South Korea and the United States have also tested China's patience. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia and Japan to boost environmental ties (Montsame)
2015-12-11
Mongolian delegates headed by Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism N.Battsereg have taken part in the meeting dubbed “Climate Change Adaptation: Approaches for National and Local Governments”, on the sidelines of the Minister's participation in the UN Climate Change Conference, being held in Paris.
Environment Minister of Japan Ms Tamayo Murakawa underlined in her speech that Japan is assisting Mongolia in climate change adaptation. After this meeting, initiated by the Ministry of Environment of Japan, the Mongolian Minister N.Battsereg and his Japanese colleague and the cabinet member in charge of nuclear safety Ms Murakawa held a business meeting, touching upon matters on expanding ties in environment protection. ^ top ^

Minister N.Battsereg addresses Climate Change Conference (Montsame)
2015-12-11
Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism of Mongolia N.Battsereg has given speech to the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, taking place in Paris, France. He emphasized the importance of increasing the investment for introduction of high technology and “know how” from the highly developed countries to developing countries, in order to reduce the pace of and to adapt to climate change. Heads of states and ministers in charge of environment from 195 countries have addressed the COP21. The Paris Conference attracted about 50 thousand delegates and 25 thousand representatives of observers. ^ top ^

South Korean Prime Minister to pay an official visit to Mongolia (Infomongolia)
2015-12-11
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Hwang Kyo-ahn will pay an official visit to Mongolia on December 15-17, 2015 at the invitation of Mongolian Premier, Mr. Chimed SAIKHANBILEG. During his visit, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will have official meetings with President Ts.Elbegdorj, Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold and Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg. Mongolia and South Korea plan to sign cooperation agreements in transportation, industry and energy sectors, and exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. The visit coincides with the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and South Korea and also it is the second visit of South Korean Prime Minister to Mongolia since Prime Minister Lee Han-dong's visit 14 years ago in 2001. ^ top ^

Int'l organizations appreciate death penalty abolishment in Mongolia (Montsame)
2015-121-14
Hailing Mongolia's recent abolition of the death penalty, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, commended on Friday the move as a "welcome step in the fight for the human rights of all." This development is very encouraging and a clear example of positive progress in the fight for human rights for all including people convicted of terrible crimes, Zeid said in a statement, in which he added: We must not allow even the most atrocious acts to strip us of our fundamental humanity. According to the High Commissioners Office (OHCHR), Mongolias passage of the law to end the death penalty, which is the result of strong and sustained leadership on the issue, has reaffirmed this essential truth. Last week, Mongolia became the 105th country to abolish the death penalty in law. Another 60 States have moratoria, or have not carried out executions in the last 10 years, says OHCHR. The same day, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Michael Georg Link welcomed the complete abolition of the death penalty in Mongolia. Following a parliamentary vote on 4 December, in favor of a new criminal code that abolishes capital punishment for all crimes, Mongolia has become the 105th country worldwide and the 52nd OSCE participating State to abolish the death penalty in law. “The elimination of executions in Mongolia is a very positive development and an encouraging example of progress made toward the respect for human dignity and integrity in the OSCE region,” said Director Link. “Most of our region now recognizes the inherently cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of the death penalty.” By welcoming the increased number of abolitionist OSCE participating States, Link also called on those states in the OSCE region that still retain capital punishment in law or in practice to consider following Mongolia's example. Participating States have committed to keeping the question of abolishing capital punishment under consideration and exchanging information on its use. In its annual publication The Death Penalty in the OSCE Area: Background Paper, ODIHR provides an update on the status of the death penalty across the region. ^ top ^

Mongolia-OSCE joint committee meets (Montsame)
2015-12-14
Mongolia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) held last Friday its 16th meeting of the joint committee in Brussels, Belgium. Co-chaired by Mr S.Bayartsogt, head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government; and Mr Ugo Astuto, Managing director of the Asia Pacific of the European External Action Service, the joint committee meeting concluded a present situation of the Mongolia-OSCE ties and cooperation, designed prospects of the cooperation and exchanged information on political and socio-economic situations. The parties exchanged views on regional and global issues, human rights, full utilization of “GSP+” tariff preferences granted to Mongolia, introduction of European norms and standards to all sectors of Mongolian social and economic structures, and discussed issues of the technical assistances from European Union in the framework of the upcoming ASEM Summit to be held in Ulaanbaatar in 2016 as well as the ongoing and future projects and programmes. A joint statement regarding matters discussed at the meeting was signed by the sides. Within the joint committee meeting, the sub-committee on trade and investment held a meeting under leadership of Ms A.Ariunaa, deputy director of the Economic cooperation department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and Mr Peter Berz, Head of Unit for relations with Far East of the Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission. ^ top ^

The XVI Session of Mongolia-EU Joint Committee meeting held in Brussels (Infomongolia)
2015-12-14
The 16th Mongolia-EU Joint Committee meeting was successfully held in Brussels, Belgium on December 11, 2015. During this year's meeting, co-chaired by Head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government of Mongolia, Mr. S.Bayartsogt and Mr. Ugo Astuto, Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific of the European External Action Service, the sides discussed the current state of relations between Mongolia and the European Union, outlined the future objectives and exchanged information on political and socio-economic situation. In the framework of the Joint Committee meeting, the Sub-committee on Trade and Investment held a meeting under leadership of Ms. A.Ariunaa, Deputy Director of the Economic Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and Mr. Peter Berz, Head of Unit for Relations with Far East of the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission. The parties exchanged views on regional and global issues, human rights, utilization of “GSP+” tariff preferences granted to Mongolia, introduction of European standards to all sectors of Mongolian social and economic structures, and discussed issues of the technical assistances from the European Union in the framework of the upcoming ASEM Summit to be held in Ulaanbaatar in 2016 as well as the ongoing and future projects and programs. ^ top ^

Prime Minister of South Korea arrives (Montsame)
2015-12-15
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea Mr Hwang Kyo-ahn and accompanying him delegation landed at 4.30 pm on Tuesday at the “Chingis Khaan” international airport to pay an official visit here. The visit of the South Korean Premier will officially start on Wednesday, and the Prime Minister of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg will welcome his counterpart in the State House. During the visit, the Prime Ministers will hold official talks, and cooperation documents will be signed. In addition, the South Korean Premier will be received by Z.Enkhbold, the Chairman of the State Great Khural (parliament). This visit is coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the countries.  ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2015-12-15
The cabinet on Monday approved results of the 19th meeting of the Mongolia-Russia intergovernmental commission for trade, economy, science and technological cooperation, held November 22-24 in Chita, Russia. Then, the Foreign Minister of Mongolia and head of the intergovernmental commission for the Mongolian side L.Purevsuren was obliged to adopt a plan of works by the meeting's agreements and to monitor the implementation. - In connection with adoption of the general administrative law, the cabinet backed draft amendments to some relevant laws, and decided to submit them to parliament. - The cabinet backed a draft concept of a new version of the law on lands for special reservation, and then ordered N.Battsereg, the Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism, to approve the concept and to formulate the draft new version of the law. - A rule on internal audit was approved at the cabinet meeting. Obligations were given to general managers of budgets and the Finance Minister B.Bolor to maintain the rule and to control the rule's implementation. - Passed through state borders with a license, the list of products has included cedar-nuts. - The cabinet discussed and backed a draft cultural exchange intergovernmental programme for 2015-2018 between Mongolia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. An order of the Prime Minister will be issued to authorize the Mongolian Ambassador to North Korea to sign the programme.  ^ top ^

"Mongolia wants to cooperate with S.Korea in green technology" (Montsame)
2015-12-16
On December 16, the President Ts.Elbegdorj received the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea Mr Hwang Kyo-ahn. Mr Elbegdorj said the visit is a proper conclusion to the milestone year for the two countries' diplomatic relations. It is a great deal that, aside from the intergovernmental relations, Mongolian and S.Korean businesses have been establishing new cooperation in the recent years, noted the President. He also offered to intensify bilateral cooperation in information technology, most particularly in green technology industry, by which South Korea tops the world. In reoponse, Mr Hwang Kyo-ahn expressed the President a gratitude for the hospitality and congratulated on the 25th anniversaries of both Mongolia-S.Korea diplomatic relations and of the Mongolian democracy. He wished Mongolia more success in strengthening of the democracy, human rights and rule of law. The Korean Premier expressed a support for the “Ulaanbaatar Dialogue”, initiated by the President Ts.Elbegdorj, and thanked for a support for “Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative” by the S.Korean President Park Geun-hye. Mr Hwang also expressed a willingness to cooperate with Mongolia in contributing to the regional and global peace and security and to the democratic development of the nations. He invited the President to the Republic of Korea in 2016. This was accepted with a pleasure. ^ top ^

Deputy PM participates in SCO meeting in China (Montsame)
2015-12-16
A delegation headed by Ts.Oyunbaatar took part in the 14th meeting of the Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which ran December 14-15 in Zhengzhou of China. The meeting brought together representatives of the SCO members Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, the observers Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Pakistan, and some international organizations. They discussed a present situation of the international and regional economy, the economic and financial cooperation's situation within the SCO, and directions of the further cooperation. At an expanded meeting, Mr Oyunbaatar said Mongolia is interested in taking part in the SCO economic cooperation's and other biggest projects on the infrastructure, considering the SCO as one of the important channels of participating in the regional multilateral cooperation. The participants noted that the global financial and economic crisis is still continuing and emphasized necessities to maintain the social-economic stability, to intensify the cooperation in trade, economy and investments, to introduce progressive technologies in the economic area and to develop the regional transportation sector. ^ top ^

EBRD arranges $1.2 billion syndicated loan for OT mine (Montsame)
2015-12-18
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Tuesday said it has arranged a syndicated loan of US$ 1.221 billion to Oyu Tolgoi LLC, a company established to develop the world's largest undeveloped copper and gold deposit in the South Gobi region of Mongolia. OT is already producing copper from an open pit mine, but more than 80 per cent of its value lies in the proposed underground mine. Once fully operational, the underground mine is expected to provide for up to a third of Mongolia's GDP and contribute to rising standards of living in the country. The EBRD financing is part of a US$ 4.4 billion package put together by international financial institutions, export credit agencies, development banks and commercial banks. OT LLC, the borrower, belongs to Turquoise Hill, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, and Erdenes OT which is owned by the state of Mongolia. Riccardo Puliti, EBRD Managing Director for Energy and Natural Resources, said: “The financial closing we achieved today is key for fostering economic growth in Mongolia. "The sheer size of the project puts Mongolia on the mining map as a main host country for large and globally relevant natural resources projects, opening the way for other similar projects to move forward. "The EBRD is pleased to see the successful completion of the financing and the adoption of best practices in all aspects of the development of this project”. The EBRD is providing US$ 400 million on its own account (A-loan) and the remainder is provided by a syndicate of 15 commercial and development banks (B-loan). It is the largest ever syndicated loan for the EBRD. In parallel, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has arranged an equivalent amount of US$ 1.221 billion under the same A/B structure. The rest of the package comes from lending by export credit agencies, development banks and a tranche by commercial banks covered by the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. EDC, EBRD, IFC and BNP Paribas acted as Initial Mandate Lead Arrangers and Standard Chartered as Initial Lead Arranger. BNP Paribas was the sole bookrunner of the $2.34 billion facilities funded by the commercial banks, together with EBRD and IFC on their respective B-loans. The EBRD has been investing in Mongolia since 2006, and to date has committed over US$ 1 billion to the country's economy. The majority of EBRD projects in Mongolia by number are dedicated to diversification and support private companies in the non-resource sector, particularly in manufacturing and agribusiness. According to the EBRD's current strategy for Mongolia, one of the main challenges for the country is fair, efficient and transparent management of the wealth generated by natural resources and a sustainable development model.  ^ top ^

 

Mrs. Justine Anken
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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