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
  29.2-4.3.16, No. 612  
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Foreign Policy

China's military needs budget increase of 20pc, says general (SCMP)
2016-03-03
The People's Liberation Army needs its budget to grow 20 per cent this year to cover its modernisation and challenges in the South and East China seas, a senior military official says. Lieutenant General Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of Nanjing Military Command, said the army needed hundreds of billions of yuan to cover retirement pay and redundancy compensation for 300,000 personnel who are to lose their jobs in the modernisation drive. “There are more than 200,000 officials and non-commissioned officers among the 300,000 to be laid-off, all of whom need to find jobs for themselves because it's impossible for local governments to [provide so many jobs],” Wang said on the sidelines of the ­Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on Thursday. He said each person laid off in the cuts, announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September, needed to be paid 500,000 yuan (US$76,280 or HK$593,000), in addition to housing allowances. The modernisation drive has also regrouped the PLA's seven military commands, including Wang's former area command of Nanjing, into five theatre commands. Wang said the new system required all personnel to learn the Western concept of C4ISR – computerised command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. “It's a totally new system that we need to catch up with. Training, computers ... all need money,” Wang said, adding the PLA would upgrade to “third generation” weapons by 2020. “But so far many of our troops are still using outdated second generation weapons, while some [advanced equipment] just plays a role as display. “More defence spending is [needed] to turn the PLA into a real modern army that matches China's status as a great power. “The US has 11 aircraft carrier groups, but so far China has only one carrier – the Liaoning – which is only for training.” Wang said Washington's pledge to increase operations in the South China Sea would push China to increase its buildup in the area. The US says China has deployed fighter jets, bombers and surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island in the South China Sea in recent weeks. The navy also appears to be upgrading its capabilities in the East China Sea, where China is in a dispute with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands. PLA personnel had a pay rise in January and senior officials were considering further increases to celebrate the anniversary of the PLA's formation on August 1. These would need to be approved by the National People's Congress, which meets tomorrow. The PLA's budget increased 10.1 per cent last year to 886.9 billion yuan. The US defence budget was US$597 billion that year. ^ top ^

China plans aircraft carrier battlegroups to protect offshore interests (SCMP)
2016-03-03
China is building aircraft carrier battlegroups and plans to deploy them not only in the disputed East and South China seas, but also to protect the country's overseas interests. Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo, who served as a national political adviser and sits on the navy's advisory board on cybersecurity, told the state-run Xinhua News Agency that building aircraft carriers served to “defend China's sovereignty of the islands and reefs, maritime rights and overseas ­interests”. The defence ministry confirmed this year that China was building its second aircraft carrier, its first wholly home-made one. Xinhua mentioned China's growing interests overseas, including the increasing numbers of nationals travelling abroad and its direct investments. It also noted a need to protect overseas ethnic Chinese. “Protecting the economic, political status and occupational safety of overseas Chinese is paramount to safeguarding China's domestic economic development and its reform and opening-up,” Yin said, adding that such protection required strong naval power like aircraft carrier battlegroups. Xinhua said since the opening up programme began in 1980s, overseas Chinese accounted for 60 per cent of total foreign direct investment in China. Xinhua said since the opening up programme began in 1980s, overseas Chinese accounted for 60 per cent of total foreign direct investment in China. With China now having outbound investments in 155 countries and 120 million citizens travelling abroad last year, Yin said aircraft carriers were needed to protect China's overseas assets and its nationals abroad. Yin said China's aircraft carriers were to safeguard its rights and sovereignty, not to invade or threaten its neighbours. China's doctrine of “proactive self-defence” would not change. The Liaoning, China's first and so far only aircraft carrier, has conducted drills in the South China Sea on a few occasions since it was commissioned in 2012. But so far the carrier has been used mainly for training purposes rather than playing any practical combat role. Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military analyst, said Chinese aircraft carriers were unlikely to visit the South China Sea in the near ­future. “Sending aircraft carriers would be a strong diplomatic statement. It is a demonstration of a country's power and strong will to use force,” said Ni. ^ top ^

Search for fugitive officials expands (Global Times)
2016-03-03
China's top disciplinary watchdog announced Wednesday that it will release a second list of Interpol Red Notices in 2016 to intensify its pursuit of fugitives. Local governments are asked to collect information on allegedly corrupt officials, Cai Wei, deputy director of the international cooperation bureau of the Communist Party of China's (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), said during an online interview published on the CCDI official website. Strengthened management of the CCDI's information system will enable authorities to conduct a comprehensive search for the hide-outs of corrupt officials overseas, Cai said. The CCDI will add more wanted people to the Interpol Red Notice, Cai asserted, adding that the commission will take additional measures to hunt fugitives, such as freezing assets and using border control. China released a list of 100 wanted fugitives in April 2015 as it stepped up its worldwide fugitive hunt. Some 60 percent of the fugitives are wanted for corruption and bribery, China News Service reported on Wednesday. In addition to further promoting the operations of "Fox Hunt" and "Sky Net" in 2016, the CCDI is currently conducting a new operation to regulate wrongful passport applications and is holding training classes on overseas fugitive hunting. "This is an effective system to supervise officials, since the exit and entry information of some corrupt officials was unclear," said Huang Feng, head of the Institute for International Criminal Law at Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times on Wednesday. China apprehended 857 fugitives hiding overseas in the "Fox Hunt 2015" campaign against suspected economic criminals, according to the Ministry of Public Security. Cai stressed that China will also strengthen international cooperation with other countries to hunt corrupt officials fleeing overseas. He said China will take more practical action to deepen bilateral cooperation, such as holding conferences with Canada on hunting fugitives, signing memoranda of cooperation with Australia and allowing the China-US Joint Liaison Group Anti-Corruption Working Group to play a bigger role in operations. "The obstacle to bilateral cooperation is that China has not signed extradition treaties with some major countries where most of the allegedly corrupt officials are hiding," Ren Jianming, an anti-corruption expert at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times. While long-held mistrust of and misapprehensions about China's legal system have made some countries hesitant to sign treaties with China, China can seek other cooperation mechanisms with different countries, Ren said. He noted that it is necessary for China to demonstrate its achievements in global manhunts for corrupt individuals at more international meetings to win support from the international community. "Western countries need to learn that the anti-corruption campaign is not a political play, but rather fulfills the promise of the CPC to halt extensive corruption," said Ren. ^ top ^

Envoys' letters over China's laws 'based on Western values' (Global Times)
2016-03-02
Three new or planned laws, including one on counterterrorism, do not indicate a strategic shift in China's opening-up policy, and foreign nations should respect China's efforts to enforce the rule of law, analysts said after five ambassadors jointly voiced concerns over China's new legislation. In a rare joint action, the ambassadors of the US, Canada, Germany and Japan wrote to China, with the EU ambassador also penning a separate letter, to express concern over three new or planned laws, including one on counterterrorism, one on cyber security and one on the management of NGOs, Reuters reported Tuesday, shortly before the start of China's two sessions, the annual meetings of China's top political advisory and legislative bodies. The first letter was dated January 27 and addressed to State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun. The ambassador of the European Union Delegation to China, Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, also sent a letter expressing similar concerns, dated January 28. "We believe the new legislative measures have the potential to impede commerce, stifle innovation, and infringe on China's obligation to protect human rights in accordance with international law," Reuters quoted a letter, co-signed by the four ambassadors, as saying. Western countries actually care more about whether the three laws represent a strategy shift of the government from opening-up to isolation, Jin Canrong, vice-director of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times. Opinions from foreign businesses have been heard during the legislative process of those laws, as China has noticed the connection of their interests to the law, Jin said. He added that such concerns are normal as the Internet and NGOs were only introduced to China 30 years ago, and therefore enjoyed a high level of freedom before appropriate regulation was introduced. […] Four ambassadors said some provisions of the counterterrorism law, which the National People's Congress passed in December, were vague and could create a "climate of uncertainty" among investors, Reuters reported. They did not specify which areas. "To be fair, most of the international treaties and laws in other counties have not clearly defined terrorism," said Zhao. On the draft cyber security law, all five ambassadors were particularly concerned over provisions requiring companies to store data locally and to provide encryption keys, which technology firms worried may impinge on privacy and mean they would have to pass on sensitive intellectual property to the government in the name of security, Reuters reported. Both letters said the draft NGO management law had the potential to hinder academic exchanges and commercial activities, calling them "crucial elements" of their relationships with China. "China's anti-terrorism law is an important move amid the complicated situation against terrorism worldwide," China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday. It is hoped that relevant countries can respect China's judicial sovereignty and view China's legislation activities positively and objectively, Hong added. […] The concerns show that those countries are interpreting and judging China's law with Western values, Yuan Zheng, an expert with the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times. The joint action means these countries are pressuring China to compromise, said experts. However, the concerns are groundless as many countries, including the US, have similar articles in their anti-terrorism legislation, which shows the double-standard held by Western countries on the issue, Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations told the Global Times. The passing of a law specifically addressing counter-terrorism is a timely and necessary move for China to crack down on surging violence that involves the infiltration of the members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement into the country, An Weixing, head of the counter-terrorism bureau of the Ministry of Public Security said in December last year, Beijing-based Legal Daily newspaper reported. ^ top ^

Major world powers team up to pressure China over new laws covering terrorism, cybersecurity and NGOs (SCMP)
2016-03-01
The United States, Canada, Germany, Japan and the European Union have written to China to express concern over three new or planned laws – including one on counterterrorism – in a rare joint bid to pressure Beijing into taking their objections seriously. The US, Canadian, German and Japanese ambassadors signed a letter dated January 27 addressed to State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun, voicing unease about the new counterterrorism law, the draft cybersecurity law, and a draft law on management of foreign NGOs. In what sources said was a coordinated move, the ambassador of the European Union Delegation to China, Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, sent a letter expressing similar concerns, dated January 28. The cybersecurity and counterterrorism laws codify sweeping powers for the government to combat perceived threats, from widespread censorship to heightened control over certain technologies. Critics of the counterterrorism legislation, for one, say it could be interpreted in such a way that even non-violent dissidents could fall within its definition of terrorism. The four ambassadors said areas of the counterterrorism law, which the National People's Congress passed in December, were vague and could create a “climate of uncertainty” among investors. They did not specify which areas. The EU ambassador used the same phrase to describe the law's impact, and both letters expressed an interest in engaging with China as it worked out implementing regulations around the law, to try to mitigate those concerns. China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei, asked about the letters, said all countries were enhancing their efforts to combat terrorism, and that he hoped other countries would respect China's sovereignty. “The counterterrorism law will not affect relevant businesses' normal operations and it will not affect relevant personnel's legitimate interests,” he told a daily news briefing, without elaborating. Guo could not be reached for comment. China's State Council Information Office and Ministry of Public Security did not respond to requests for comment. While countries often give feedback on proposed legislation in China, the rare joint response by several major powers, and coordination with the EU, signals an increased readiness to lend weight of numbers to their argument. It also points to growing frustration that the low-key, individual approach taken in the past may not be working. “While we recognise the need for each country to address its security concerns, we believe the new legislative measures have the potential to impede commerce, stifle innovation, and infringe on China's obligation to protect human rights in accordance with international law,” said a strongly-worded letter co-signed by the four ambassadors. China has defended the new and draft laws, saying such steps, including heightened censorship, were necessary to ensure stability in the country of over 1.3 billion people. The diplomatic push comes as Beijing arguably needs cooperation from the signatories to the letters more than ever. A slowing Chinese economy and fragile markets highlight the importance of foreign investors' confidence. Chinese companies are increasingly looking to get approvals from foreign governments for acquisitions, and the European Union is debating whether to give China “market economy” status. On the draft cybersecurity law, all five ambassadors were particularly concerned by provisions requiring companies to store data locally and to provide encryption keys, which technology firms worried may impinge on privacy and mean they would have to pass on sensitive intellectual property to the government in the name of security. Both letters said the draft NGO management law had the potential to hinder academic exchanges and commercial activities, calling them “crucial elements” of their relationships with China. Critics have said the draft legislation risked choking off NGOs' work by requiring them to get official sponsors and giving broad powers to police to regulate their activities. In the letters, the ambassadors asked China to open both draft laws to another round of public consultations. The US and Canadian embassies in Beijing did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this article. A spokesman for the EU Delegation had no comment. The German embassy declined to comment on the letter. The Japanese embassy said: “We pay attention to Chinese movement over relevant laws or drafts of laws.” The parties to the letters decided to express their concerns together after it became unclear to what degree China was taking their individual input on the laws on board, said a person with knowledge of the matter. […] ^ top ^

China supports early resumption of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva (Global Times)
2016-03-01
China said it supports the intra-Syrian talks to resume in Geneva as early as possible and called for a political solution that takes into account the reasonable concerns of relevant parties, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Tuesday. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said on Monday that the cessation of hostilities reached by the Syrian government and opposition forces is basically holding. China welcomed effective implementation of the ceasefire agreement by the concerned parties, spokesperson Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing. Hong said China hopes relevant parties can implement the UN Security Council 2254 Resolution and the joint communique of the fourth foreign ministers'meeting of the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) in February in Munich to keep the momentum of the ceasefire and cessation of violence. "We hope the international community, especially countries in the region, will play a positive and constructive role," Hong said. Staffan de Mistura, UN special envoy for Syria, said he plans for the peace talks involving various parties in Syria to resume on March 7 in Geneva if the ceasefire holds. The Geneva talks on the Syrian crisis collapsed earlier in February. A political settlement is the fundamental and only solution to the Syrian issue, Hong said, adding that China always believes that violence won't lead to an outcome, while negotiation will give people hope. China called on all parties in Syria to meet each other halfway and seek common ground while narrowing their differences, Hong said. "China is willing to work with the international community to play its due role in promoting a political settlement for the Syrian issue," Hong said. ^ top ^

Analysts downplay impact of China's online publishing rules on foreign investors (Global Times)
2016-03-01
The newly-released rules on online publishing are not likely to impose a sweeping ban on all foreign-invested businesses in China as some had feared, observers said Monday, stressing that the regulation which takes effect on March 10 is aimed at tightening online publishing management and protecting Chinese creative works. Jointly issued by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on February 4, the Regulation for the Management of Online Publishing Services aims to set new guidelines on what content can be published online, and who is qualified for this business. In Article 10, the regulation clearly stipulates that "Chinese-foreign joint ventures, Chinese-foreign cooperative ventures and foreign business units should not engage in online publishing services." It later says that [eligible] online publishing services must seek approval from SARFT before cooperating with the above-mentioned organizations or overseas institutions or individuals. The online publications include images, games, animation and audio recordings and videos, according to the document. The regulations indicate a strong desire from the government to tighten its control over the industry, as well as protect local creative works, said Cui Baoguo, a professor with the School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua University. Though many foreign firms fear the new regulations may deter them from exploring China's large online publication market, some observers believe that it is too early to make any assumptions about the results. "The new regulations don't reveal details about what type of content and which organizations will be affected, as well as how long and how much effort the government will make to enforce it, so its impact on both China's online publication industry and foreign companies' business in China is unpredictable," Zhu Wei, deputy director of the Research Center of Law of Communications at the China University of Political Science and Law told the Global Times. Inquiries to foreign companies Apple, Amazon and image service provider Corbis over the possible impact of the regulation have received no response. Digital forms of books are still readily available on Amazon's Chinese website Amazon.cn. An official from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology told the Global Times on Monday that the new regulations can only be explained by SARFT, which could not be reached as of press time. Starting March 10, the new regulations will replace the Temporary Regulation on the Management of Online Publishing of 2002. "Though much more detailed, the new regulations with a total of 61 articles are not so much different from their 30-article predecessor. The reason why it drew so much attention from foreign media is because of the misinterpretation of its Article 10," Zhu said. Wang Sixin, a media law professor at the Communication University of China said the new regulations do not exclude foreign companies from participating in China's online publication services through cooperation with Chinese online publishers. "It stipulates that only Chinese companies can take the initiative, and the government should have access to supervise the industry," Wang said. "The main purpose is not to suppress foreign companies in China, but to safeguard the nation's ideology." At the opening of the second World Internet Conference in December, 2015, President Xi Jinping said China firmly opposes Internet hegemony, foreign interference in internal affairs and incitement that could threaten national security, adding that the Internet is not beyond the law and it should be ruled in accordance with a country's laws and regulations. […] Though it's unclear what kind of organizations or content will be affected by the new regulations, observers believe that "a clean cut" on foreign companies is very unlikely. According to Wang, the new regulations are unlikely to affect foreign news organizations in China, as most global news outlets are published on servers outside China and are not technically categorized as "online publishers." "The regulation is not a law, but merely a transitional provision. By tradition, the government will issue detailed rules later to better implement the regulations. A clean cut on foreign companies will damage China's international image, as well as its cultural industry," Zhu said. ^ top ^

China wants to hold high-level talks with Japan to improve ties, says envoy (SCMP)
2016-03-01
China is willing to hold talks between State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's key foreign-policy adviser Shotaro Yachi to improve relations between the two nations, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday. Yang is looking forward to holding the next high-level China-Japan political dialogue at an appropriate time this year with Yachi, said Kong Xuanyou, China's assistant foreign minister. He made his comments at the start of talks with deputy foreign minister Shinsuke Sugiyama in Tokyo. Yachi heads the secretariat of Japan's National Security Council. “Foreign Minister Wang Yi intends to maintain necessary communication with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida over important issues of common concerns as top diplomats,” said Kong. Beijing's show of willingness to communicate with Japan comes after it rebuffed Tokyo's efforts to arrange telephone talks between Kishida and Wang following North Korea's fourth nuclear weapons test on January 6. Sugiyama said Japan is due to chair the a summit between Japan, China and South Korea this year. “Our idea is to seek further improvement in relationships through high-level exchanges,” he said. Kong's visit is the first to Japan by a senior Chinese Foreign Ministry official since North Korea's nuclear test. They met to discuss responses to North Korea in the wake of Pyongyang's recent long-range rocket launch and nuclear test. Sugiyama and Kong may also touch on territorial tensions in the South China Sea where Beijing's deployment of an advanced surface-to-air missile system has stoked concerns that it is militarising the region, Japanese officials said. ^ top ^

China, EU sign short stay visa waiver deal for diplomatic passport holders (Xinhua)
2016-03-01
China and the European Union (EU) here on Monday signed a reciprocal short stay visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic passports. This agreement will allow visa free travel to the EU for citizens of China holding a diplomatic passport for stays up to 90 days (within any 180-day period) as well as for EU citizens travelling to China and holding a diplomatic passport or an EU laissez-passer. The agreement will not apply to the United Kingdom and Ireland. And the agreement will provisionally enter into force on the third day following the date of signature. EU Commissioner for Migration, EU Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said ahead of the signing of the agreement that this is an important agreement not only because it is the first international agreement between the EU and China in the field of home affairs but also because it represents an important step towards greater cooperation on issues of mutual concern, especially in the areas of migration and mobility. Yang Yanyi, head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, said at the signing ceremony that the signing of the agreement undoubtedly marks a concrete step in visa facilitation and commits the two sides to work together more closely to broaden and deepen the cooperation, and help further negotiations so as to provide facilitation for the greater public to travel between China and the EU. In the past year, among the 120 million outbound Chinese tourists, 2.5 million paid visits to Europe. Representatives of the European Commission and the Dutch EU Council Presidency also attended the signing ceremony. ^ top ^

China's military is prepared 'to defend sovereignty' in South China Sea: military chief (SCMP)
2016-02-29
China is capable of fighting to defend its sovereignty in the South China Sea, a Chinese military chief has said amid rising tensions in the region. In his first public remarks as commanding officer of the newly-established Southern Theatre Command of the People's Liberation Army, General Wang Jiaocheng saidthe army would be highly vigilant towards any possible security threat in the disputed waters, People's Daily reported yesterday. “The military will be capable of dealing with any security threat. No country will be allowed to use any excuse or action to threaten China's sovereignty and safety,” Wang said. Wang, who previously commanded the Shenyang ­region, said his aim was to “ensure security in border controls and maritime defence”. “But the foremost mission is to safeguard rights and interests in the South China Sea,” he added. The South China Sea is at the centre of territorial disputes ­involving China and countries ­including Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Wang's remarks were published just days after the US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris accused China of “militarising” the South China Sea. Fox News reported recently that China had deployed surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island, also known as Yongxing Island, in the Paracel chain that is claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan. The report was backed by US and Taiwanese officials, though ­Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissed the claims as an attempt by “Western media to create news stories”. General Wang said the PLA had planned for all possible scenarios regarding military risks in the region. Analysts said such planning was necessary given the complexity of the disputes. “Any country in China's position would do this, especially now China is building more military facilities and facing more complicated challenges in the region – such as the possibility that more countries, for example India or Japan, might get involved,” Shanghai-based military analyst Ni Lexiong said. General Wang reiterated his “absolute loyalty” to the party, stressed the importance of winning the “information war” and vowed to build an army that was “courageous and able to fight”. As part of President Xi Jinping's efforts to reform the armed forces into a modern, integrated force, the PLA has replaced its seven military regions with five theatre commands. Wang said the theatre commands were established to deal with the challenges posed by the new international order. The previous system had failed to promote military integration, which had become a “systematic obstacle for the PLA to win wars”. ^ top ^

Will China be lonely in G20 as BRICS bloc diverges? (SCMP)
2016-02-27
Mao Zedong, quoting a Chinese proverb, told his comrades in 1955 that “one good fellow needs three helpers, a bamboo fence needs three stakes”. That's why China has been incubating its own power base through alliances with emerging markets in the Group of 20 leading economies. At the G20 gathering of finance ministers and central bankers in Shanghai, however, the informal BRICS power bloc with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa looked weaker than ever. While China struggles to arrest a deepening economic slowdown and prevent the yuan from sliding too sharply, Russia and Brazil are in recession as commodity prices slump and South Africa is fighting to keep its sovereign rating from falling into junk level. India is the best performer, by far, in terms of economic growth in the group. “The long-term cohesiveness of the BRICS has always been in question,” said Shaun Breslin, a professor of politics and international studies at the University of Warwick. While the five countries may share a common dissatisfaction with the West-dominated global order, it “only provides a rather shallow form of cohesion and integration among the group.” However, BRICS is still important for China. If it is unhappy about something – which are usually annoyances for Moscow or Delhi as well – then China can increase the “collective weight of the voice of dissatisfaction, and showing that it's not just a Chinese agenda”, said Breslin, a leading British scholar on China. Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei yesterday defended the biggest result of BRICS cooperation: a Shanghai-based New Development Bank. Lou told a press conference after the G20 that the lender would help to stimulate global demand and to support economic recovery. […] The New Development Bank, which may rival the World Bank in some aspects, signed agreements with the central and Shanghai city governments yesterday paving the way for its full-scale operation, the lender said in a statement. “The willingness of binding together will be stronger for some members because they are in a kind of crisis,” said Chen Fengying, a senior researcher at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing. “China, on the other hand, isn't regarding this as a burden but a chance to deepen ties.” Brazilian state energy firm Petróleo Brasileiro SA, which is struggling to fix its troubled finances amid crude price fall, said on Friday it obtained a Chinese loan up to $10 billion in exchange for supplying petroleum to Chinese companies. Ravni Thakur, from the Department of East Asian Studies at Delhi University, said BRICS countries “still provide each other a security network that the BRICS bank is meant to cover” and the continuous growth of China and India “will have a positive impact on the others”. It's also a venue for China and India to gain “confidence in their own capacity to emerge as leaders in the community of nations,” Thakur said. While the initial political motive for BRICS, as a counterbalance to Western powers, may be waning, member countries may enter a new phase of seeking more concrete projects to fulfil cooperation pledges, said Zhu Jiejin, an associate professor in international relations at Fudan University in Shanghai. “Member countries are so different from each other, there must be many opportunities to work together, from infrastructure investment to building industrial value chains,” Zhu said. The BRICS summit in India later this year will accompanied by a trade fair, a film festival, and a “BRICS U-17 Football Cup”. While China might not top the teenage football tournament, its economic weight is set to prevail. So, back in Shanghai, even without the usual close followers, China has successfully steered the G20 talks to fit its agenda. The key points on the G20 communique, including no competitive currency devaluation, a more flexible fiscal policy, a boost for infrastructure investment, and a broader use of Special Drawing Rights, serve China's interests while providing no additional requirement for Beijing to actually do anything. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

No sex, drugs, witches or gays: China bans 'morally hazardous' content from TV (SCMP)
2016-03-04
What do teenage romance, extra-marital affairs, reincarnation and homosexuality have in common? They've all been banned from Chinese television dramas. Crime shows that reveal police strategies and tactics have also been banned so that criminals can't use the information to 'up their game'. The government's 'General Principle of Television Drama Production Content', released in December, serves as a “professional guideline” for industry experts, according to Li Jingsheng, chief of television drama under the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. It requires producers to actively produce content advocated by the administration and stay away from prohibited content. Such prohibited content includes storylines seen as promoting superstitions, like spiritual procession, reincarnation and witchcraft. It also includes content deemed as promoting promiscuity, or as pornographic or that displays “abnormal sexual relationships or sexual behaviour” such as homosexuality. TV shows about unhealthy marriages, depicting extra-marital affairs or one night stands, should not be aired on television. Also banned is content seen as morally hazardous to teenagers, such as depictions of teen romances, smoking, drinking alcohol or fighting. Last month, Beijing tightened its muzzle on mainland China's internet after a senior media content watchdog official demanded all online programmes be censored as strictly as traditional television programmes. The move comes amid widespread audience dissatisfaction at the removal or suspension of popular shows on Chinese video streaming sites, pending the approval of the media regulator. Addiction, an online drama depicting gay love – a taboo subject for state media entertainment programmes – was taken offline last week just days after other programmes, including Go Princess Go, were stopped because of excessive sex, violence and controversial content. Many younger mainlanders prefer to watch internet television programmes rather than the state-run channels such as China Central Television, which carry lots of propaganda. ^ top ^

China sets targets for local renewable energy use (China Daily)
2016-03-04
China has set specific targets on non-hydroelectric renewable energy consumption for local governments in a bid to improve its energy structure, according to a guideline released by the National Energy Administration (NEA) on Thursday. By 2020, non-hydroelectric renewable energy should account for between 5 percent and 13 percent of total electricity consumption for provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, according to the guideline. Local energy authorities are also encouraged to set higher targets and offer incentives for local enterprises to produce renewable energy. Power companies, with the exception of some non-fossil energy companies, should produce at least 9 percent of total electricity from non-hydroelectric renewable energy by 2020. China has vowed to increase non-fossil fuel sources for primary energy consumption to 15 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2030. ^ top ^

China's environment ministry unveils restructuring plan aimed at making it more effective (SCMP)
2016-03-03
The mainland's Ministry of Environmental Protection has announced a restructuring that could see the agency shift away from hitting largely meaningless targets towards exercising more comprehensive governance. The streamlining came as the new five-year plan put an emphasis on improving the quality of the environment, the ministry said. With the overhaul, the divisions overseeing pollution prevention and control over total emissions would be reconfigured into three arms tackling air, water and soil pollution, the statement read. Chen Jining, an environmental scientist by training, took over the ministry last year amid expectations he would turn it into one that could effect substantial change. Official statistics show that significant cuts in major air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxygen, as well as major water pollutants, have been achieved since environmental targets became a mandatory part of every five-year plan since 2006. At that time, the target-oriented mechanism was hailed as the solution to curb pollution, with some experts predicting a “turning point” for the mainland's environment was just around the corner. Towards that end, the ministry created the total emission control department in 2010 to oversee meeting the targets. But the system has fallen under increasing criticism as unreliable. Factories would either illegally discharge pollutants by letting treatment facilities sit idle, or local authorities would simply fabricate emission figures, according to some local environmental officials. The problem was compounded by lax supervision and light punishment for violaters. The ministry began to admit to such problems over the past year, saying a better approach to environmental governance was needed and it should respond more quickly to public concerns. “Improvements in environmental quality should be the only gauge for our environmental protection efforts,” Pan Yue, the deputy environmental minister said in an interview with Xinhua last year. The ministry said the current restructuring plan was approved by the central government in February last year, but additional deliberation on the details took another year. “In some sense, the ministry's restructuring would put an end to the old target-based system, as it proved invalid after 10-year practice,” a source said, asking not to be identified. Greenpeace campaigner Li Shuo applauded the move, saying: “This is a move towards the right direction … We hope the dedication of specific departments to address air, water, and soil pollution can strengthen the capacity of environmental regulator and speed up China's process of cleaning up.” ^ top ^

5 things the world is watching at China's biggest political show of the year (SCMP)
2016-03-03
1. Who are the rising stars? Political watchers will be keeping their eyes peeled to spot the rising stars at this year's plenary sessions. The next party congress in 2017 will see five of the Politburo Standing Committee's seven members retire, leaving just President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. Another six members in the 25-man Politburo will also step down next year. The Politburo sets policies and controls legal, executive and administrative appointments; the Politburo Standing Committee – the nation's highest decision-making body – is where power is concentrated. 2. What now for the People's Liberation Army? How has the PLA fared since Beijing restructured the military in a bid to transform it into a modern, integrated force? The PLA has downsized its troops by 300,000 and ditched its decades-old system seven military regions, replacing them with five new theatre commands. Differences are expected to surface among the PLA departments as military personnel adjust to the changes. The sessions will be a rare opportunity to observe the force's morale and synergy, especially as political and geological tensions are mounting. 3. How bad, really, is China's economy? A casual chat with the nation's delegates across the country will shed some light on how the economy in their region is faring. The delegates' answers to questions such as how firms in their region are doing, how their local governments are handling the growing debt issue, and how high property vacancy rates are, will give us an idea of just how well – or badly – the Chinese economy is doing as a whole. 4. Will China launch a stimulus package like its 4 trillion yuan liquidity programme in the wake of the 2008-09 global financial crisis? Remarks of senior officials and economists during the plenary sessions will give indications of the extent of Beijing's willingness and ability to address the economic slowdown. What plans does it have and how far will it go to boost its stalling economy? 5. How are the political elites taking to President Xi Jinping's leadership style and policies? Three years on since he took the helm in late 2012, Xi's strongman style has stood out among other party leaders in the history of collective decision. It will be worth observing whether the political elites feel the need to express their appreciation and loyalty to the party – if not Xi himself – in public. It is also an occasion to see if they are content with the changes over the past three years, such as in terms of ideological control, the army's reforms, the corruption campaign, stricter regulation on party members' behaviours, and whether they believe the “governance by rule of law” principle is being respected. Key dates The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference opens on Thursday, March 3, with chairman Yu Zhengsheng to deliver a report on the top advisory body's work in the past year. The National People's Congress starts on Saturday, March 5, with Premier Li Keqiang scheduled to deliver his government report. The main purpose of the “two sessions” is to endorse the next five-year plan, which aims to double gross domestic product and per capita income from levels a decade earlier. Other key government agencies will hold press conferences throughout the annual meeting, which will close by mid-March. ^ top ^

Mobile HIV testing labs to hit streets in capital (China Daily)
2016-03-03
Mobile HIV-testing vehicles will hit the streets of the capital, providing free tests to young gay men in particular and helping link the needy with follow-up treatment. The first five electric minicars with three seats each were launched at an art exhibition held on Tuesday by the UNAIDS China office and the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention Center to mark Global Zero Discrimination Day, which fell on March 1. They will travel to areas frequented by gay men, such as certain bars, bath houses and parks to reach out to the group for intervention and care, according to Xiao Dong, head of the team, which currently has 15 volunteers. "Some of them speak English, and foreigners are welcome to come for the free tests as well," he added. No ID is required. Oral swab kits are used and give results in 15 minutes, he said. Follow-up counseling and referral to treatment and care will be given to those who test positive. Wu Zunyou, head of the National Center for AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Disease Control and Prevention, welcomed such a pioneering approach, saying "it would help supplement current testing methods and reach out to the susceptible more actively". Currently, China has more than 2,000 government HIV testing and counseling outlets for free tests, but many individuals at risk, particularly gay men, are reluctant to go. According to Wu, the HIV epidemic has been hitting young gay men hard. Last year, among the newly detected HIV cases involving male students aged 15 to 24, nearly 81 percent contracted the virus via gay sex. However, "they are difficult to reach for intervention using current testing strategies", Wu said. Zhao Ke, editor-in-chief of gay magazine Gayspot, said he preferred the latest method, citing easier access. But he said many young gay men turn to mobile apps to find dates, so "mobile technology should be used to reach out to them as well." ^ top ^

China Headlines: China champions "four consciousnesses," conforming with Xi (Xinhua)
2016-03-02
Party officials, lawmakers and media have called for unwavering conformity with top leader Xi Jinping, ahead of the country's major political meetings, known collectively as the "two sessions." Faithfulness to the core leadership of the Party is characterized by staunch loyalty to "the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, [its] General Secretary Xi Jinping as well as to Party theories, guidelines, principles and policies," according to a recent commentary published by Qiushi Journal, the flagship magazine of the CPC Central Committee. It underscored that the "consciousnesses of the ideology, the whole, the core and the line" must be promoted. This concept, dubbed "the four consciousnesses," was raised earlier this year at a high-level meeting of the CPC Central Committee. "The fundamental principle of strengthening consciousness is to follow the ideology, political thinking and deeds of the CPC Central Committee, with Xi as general secretary," Liu Yunshan, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, said at the spring semester opening ceremony for the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. On the day that the Qiushi article was published, Liu remarked that "conforming with 'the line' is a significant political principle," -- it is where the Party's strength and advantages lie. The remarks were made ahead of the annual sessions of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body, and the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature. The two sessions are the most important political events in China, at which political and economic development measures are discussed and key policies adopted, including the new Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). Adherence to the Party line must feature across all processes and aspects of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, the Qiushi article said. All of society must be united by a series of important speeches by Xi on the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, according to the article. The Qiushi article also reflected on the important role the Party's leadership played in leading various development strategies, such as the "Four Comprehensives," the overarching strategy for long-term development. Another strategy -- the five development concepts of innovation, coordination, green development, opening up and sharing -- has guided development policy since it was first raised at a key CPC meeting in October. Both the Four Comprehensives and the five development concepts were developed by Xi and his team. Xie Chuntao, a professor with the CPC Central Committee Party School, said that the CPC had also launched a nationwide campaign among its 87 million members, calling on them "to study the Party code of conduct, to study a series of remarks made by Xi, and to be qualified Party members." "To study, to accept and to resolutely implement, that is the way China will build a moderately prosperous society by 2020," he said. […] China is facing slower growth and trying to shift its economy from a focus on high growth to a more sustainable framework. Xi advocates supply-side structural reform, which will advance economic restructuring by reducing ineffective and low-end supply, and boost productivity by expanding medium-to-high-end supply. Experts say supply-side reform will be a distinctive feature of China's economic policies in 2016 and beyond. Xi's thoughts go far beyond the economic field. His anti-corruption campaign, to strengthen the 87-million-strong CPC, has drawn worldwide attention. The punishment of senior officials including Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai and Ling Jihua for corruption has shown Xi is determined to make the Party cleaner, media have said. Xi also launched China's biggest military reform in decades to make the People's Liberation Army a stronger and more effective fighting force that maintains absolute loyalty to the Party. In the diplomatic sphere, Xi has been advocating a global community of shared future. A series of initiatives including the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank serve to highlight China's image as a responsible and active player in global development. Xi's governance thoughts have been well received overseas, too. "Xi Jinping: The Governance of China," is available in more than 100 countries. Zhang Zhao'an, an NPC deputy from Shanghai Municipality, said allegiance to Xi is a necessity to reach consensus among the entire nation to promote reform and opening-up. […] ^ top ^

'Pull plug on China's televised confessions' urges top political adviser ahead of meeting of country's legislature (SCMP)
2016-03-02
A national political adviser has suggested an end to non-judicial televised confessions just days ahead of the annual assembly of the national legislature and political advisory body, mainland media reported yesterday. Zhu Zhengfu, deputy chairman of the All-China Lawyers Association and a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, criticised televised confessions by suspects before they had gone to trial, Caixin reported. “A confession made on television does not equate to a legitimate confession or carry any indication he or she is guilty,” Zhu was quoted as saying. “If the confession was staged, it does not help protect the rights of the suspect or the justice system.” This comments come after international concern last month over the growing number of people in China appearing to “have been coerced to confess” to crimes on state media. In January, 35-year-old Swedish NGO worker Peter Dahlin confessed on state broadcaster CCTV to violating Chinese law through his activities in China. Zhu suggested an end to televised confessions, if possible. “Even criminal suspects enjoy the right to dignity and no one would make a televised confession without being forced to as part of a deal for a lighter sentence,” he said. Zhu warned the practice would lead to trial by media and give the public the impression that the suspect was guilty. “It would be difficult for the court find the suspect not guilty amid this kind of public opinion,” Zhu said. ^ top ^

LGBT activists call abuse law discriminatory (Global Times)
2016-03-01
Chinese gay rights activists called for the country's first anti-domestic violence law, which took effect on Tuesday, to include those in same-sex relationships, as the law stipulates that both unmarried cohabitants and married couples should be protected. The law passed in late December 2015 states that any form of domestic violence, including psychological abuse, is prohibited, even among unmarried cohabitants. Amid questions about whether the law considers same-sex couples to be unmarried cohabitants, Guo Linmao, a legislative official from the National People's Congress Standing Committee's legal affairs commission, said in December that he had never heard of any case of domestic violence in gay relationships and that same-sex relationships are therefore not covered by the law. Many gay rights activists claimed that the new law may discriminate against gay people. Xiao Tie, executive director of the Beijing LGBT Center, told the Global Times, "Statistics show LGBT groups account for between 3 and 10 percent of the whole population, so the anti-domestic violence law should consider their rights and include them under protection." "We will encourage and help gay victims of domestic violence to file lawsuits promoting the inclusion of same-sex couples in the juridical practice of the anti-domestic violence law," Hu Zhijun, the founder of Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of China, told the Global Times. Hu previously slammed Guo's response in an article published on PFLAG China's official WeChat account, saying that many gay people have suffered from domestic violence but must find a way to help themselves, as they are offered no legal protection. "Why can't gay couples who live together be defined as cohabitants if the Marriage Law does not allow them to register as couples?" he asked. "This is another kind of domestic violence that legislators have imposed on same-sex lovers," he said. In a 2014 survey of domestic violence among lesbians by Common Language - an NGO dedicated to supporting lesbians and bisexuals - 68.97 percent of 419 respondents reported that they had suffered domestic violence, and 49.16 percent said they have been abused by their parents. A total of 42.64 percent of the 401 respondents that had been in gay relationships said they had suffered abuse from a partner. Separately, the court of Beijing's Fangshan district became the first court to approve a protection writ based on the new law with a ruling in the case of a 61-year-old woman surnamed Gu, who has been beaten by her husband for over 30 years, the Beijing-based Legal Mirror reported Tuesday. ^ top ^

'Fair judicial system critical to stop attacks on judges': China to boost security for court officers (SCMP)
2016-03-01
A new directive to protect the personal safety of judges, prosecutors and their families may offer some reassurance to staff but ultimately tensions in the system will only be eased through a fair and credible judicial process, a lawyer said ­on Tuesday. State media reported late on Monday that the Communist Party's Central Politics and Law Commission said it had drafted a directive to protect judicial staff against intimidation and retaliation on the job. The directive would soon be released, the reports said. Under the regulation, police would be allowed to provide security to judicial staff and their families if they were under threat. The security would help judges and prosecutors to better carry out their duties, the commission said. The move comes after Ma Caiyun, 38, a judge in Beijing's Changping District People's Court, was gunned down on Friday by two men angered by Ma's decision in divorce cases. Meng Jianzhu, the party's domestic security chief, responded to the killing by ordering measures put in place to protect judges and their family members. Meng said he was “deeply saddened” by Ma's death and demanded a crackdown on attacks against judges and their family members. “Effective measures must be taken to safeguard the personal safety of judges and their families, their legal rights and the dignity of the law,” Meng was quoted by Thepaper.cn as saying. Ma was a civil court judge in the Huilongguan tribunal, with numerous awards and a record of handling 400 cases a year. The attack on him is the latest of a series of assaults, in some cases fatal, against the profession. Retaliation against judicial staff, including police officers, judges and prosecutors, has been on the rise in recent years. In February last year, a judge presiding over a divorce case in Xinxiang, Henan province, was assaulted at the court's entrance and critically wounded. In November 2014 a judge in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, was assaulted by a woman who lost the right to adopt her six-year-old niece. The worst assault was in Yongzhou in Hunan province in 2010 when three judges were killed and three others seriously wounded by a man armed with a machine gun. The killer had been angered by a verdict in a housing dispute. Wu Youshui, a lawyer with the Zhejiang Bijian Law Firm, said it was not unusual for judges to be insulted and threatened, even in the courtroom, but a protection order was not the solution. Wu, who specialises in financial disputes, said the problem was that in some cases judges could not make independent decisions and could appear to favour one party over the other. “When the public lose confidence in the independence of the legal system and think the judge is biased, they are likely to hold a grudge against the judge if the verdict is not in his or her favour,” Wu said. “The ultimate solution is to ease social discontent as a whole and rebuild the public's confidence in the ... system.” The draft directive detailed punishment for retaliation. When it comes into effect, slander, insults, threats to assault, retaliate or frame judicial staff will punished on the spot. Staff involved in high-risk cases such as those involving terrorism or organised crime would be shielded by anonymity or courtroom security if needed. The personal safety, assets and health of judges and prosecutors would also be protected depending on the risks they took in their professional duties. ^ top ^

Beijing CPC committee vows punishment for Ren Zhiqiang (China Daily)
2016-03-01
A Beijing district committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) pledged severe intraparty penalties for Ren Zhiqiang, a celebrity blogger and property developer whose accounts were closed for allegedly spreading illegal information. The Xicheng district committee of the CPC on Monday issued a circular saying Ren, "as a CPC member, has been releasing illegal information and making inappropriate comments online, resulting in a vile influence and damage to the party image." The committee, where Ren's CPC membership is registered and managed, said it would punish him strictly according to party rules. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), China's top Internet regulator, on Sunday ordered closure of Ren's microblog accounts, accusing him of spreading illegal information. The administration urged celebrity microbloggers and bloggers with huge followings to use their influence correctly, obey the law, accept their due social responsibilities and promote "positive energy." It vowed intensified monitoring and managing of online information and content, saying that it would not allow users of the closed accounts to register again under other names. ^ top ^

Jail for Chinese pastor and wife who opposed Beijing's order to remove crosses from churches (SCMP)
2016-02-28
A Chinese husband and wife who led a Christian congregation that opposed a government campaign to remove crosses atop churches have been given long prison sentences for illegal activities, including corruption and disturbing social order, state media said. A court in eastern Zhejiang province on Friday sentenced pastor Bao Guohua to 14 years in prison and his wife, Xing Wenxiang, to 12 years after concluding that they had illegally organized churchgoers to petition the government and disturb social order, according to the state-run Zhejiang Daily newspaper. The couple also was accused of “tricking” members of its congregation into donating US$336,000 that was spent on cars and other personal purchases while pretending to lead an ascetic lifestyle, the newspaper said. The court sentenced 10 other church members to prison, the report said, without giving details. For the past two years, Zhejiang's Christians, particularly in the coastal city of Wenzhou, home to a large Christian population, have been locked in a bitter dispute with local authorities who have removed hundreds of crosses from churches in the province, saying they violate building codes, or demolished churches altogether. Zhejiang's religious leaders, many of whom lead churches sanctioned by the government, say the attitudes of local authorities have turned sharply negative in recent years as the Christian population grew in number and influence. Several well-known figures who have resisted the government campaign to remove crosses through legal challenges or public denunciations have been targeted with criminal prosecutions. The clash over the Zhejiang Christians' religious rights has been complicated by the fact that they have received help from overseas supporters at a time when the Chinese government is particularly sensitive to what it considers foreign meddling in domestic issues. In the past year, China's government has relentlessly pursued and jailed human rights lawyers that have received training and funding from foreign sources. Zhang Kai, a Beijing-based Christian lawyer who was detained one day before he was due to meet a U.S. envoy in August, was shown on television late Thursday night confessing to organising illegal religious gatherings and undermining China's political system with backing from China Aid, a Texas-based group that has funded the churches' efforts to resist the cross removals. China Aid said in a blog post on Friday that the government action against Bao's church and other Christian leaders amounted to “religious persecution.” Last month, provincial authorities opened a separate corruption probe into the prominent pastor Gu Yuese, who openly spoke out against the government's clampdown on Christian activity. With 10,000 members, Gu's Chongyi church is the largest Protestant congregation in the Chinese-speaking world. ^ top ^

CAC closes 580 'misleading' social media accounts (Global Times)
2016-02-27
China's cyberspace administration authority shut down 580 social media accounts which "misled the public" or "violated regulations," including the accounts of several Internet celebrities, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said on Friday. Some Internet celebrities ignored social responsibilities and abused their influence to publish information that violated the Constitution and damaged the national interest, the CAC claimed. They also allegedly created and circulated rumors and disturbed the social order, according to the CAC website. Among the big Vs, a term which refers to verified Weibo users who have more than 500,000 followers, who have been shut down are famous actor Sun Haiying, an editor of a Henan-based news website hnr.cn and a Beijing art center manager. Sun has been the center of public criticism several times for making "disrespectful" comments about former leader Mao Zedong and for condemning homosexuality. Meanwhile, some public accounts on WeChat that allegedly published false political news in the name of Party departments and military organs, fabricated sensational rumors, promoted superstitions and cults, and spread gambling information have also been shut down or suspended. "Every netizen enjoys freedom of speech when publishing information online, but posting rumors that violate civil rights and harm public interests must be condemned on moral grounds and in accordance with the law," said Jiang Jun, CAC spokesperson. The CAC also dealt with 2,000 rumors relating to transportation, food safety and public policies. In response to recent "inaccurate news stories," including one published on the WeChat account of business magazine Caixin, Jiang called on news providers to follow journalistic ethics. "It's obvious that the negative social impact of fake reports has been worsened by news providers publishing them on their social media accounts," said Jiang. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai property market beset by 'panic buying' on the back of favourable policies (SCMP)
2016-03-01
Shanghai residents are flocking back to government property trading centres to process deals as sentiment improves in the light of favourable policies and expectations rising prices. So many people visited the Baoshan Property Trading Centre that it had to restrict entry and 50 police officers were deployed to keep order. Government-run property trading centres with property trade-related affairs including changes of ownership and other transactions. Each district has its own property trading centre. Since Sunday when the visitors peaked, lines of road barriers have been set up outside the centre to form an area where people can queue before being allowed to enter the office. “The government feared that too many people crowding into the relatively small trading hall will cause accidents, so officers like us who work at other sites were reassigned here these few days,” said an officer who did not want to be named. “Some people arrived as early as 5am.” Shanghai's home market has shown signs of “panic buying”, with some new projects selling out in a day, Shanghai media reported last month. The central government issued several policies in recent months aimed at boosting home sales in smaller cities, including cutting the property transaction tax and lowering down payments. Most of the easing does not apply to top-tier cities such as Shanghai, which is one of only five mainland cities to still enforce strict home purchase restrictions limiting non-permanent residents to buying just one flat. Unlike smaller cities that are facing increasing inventory pressure from a glut of supply, home prices have surged in leading cities like Shenzhen and Shanghai due to their robust economies and population inflows. The centre Baoshan Property Trading Centre was so full of people that staying there for longer than necessary made people feel dizzy, said Yuan Xuejun, who completed the transaction procedures over five hours as a flat seller. […] Shanghai saw home prices rise 15 per cent year on year to a record 37,062 yuan per square metre in January, official data shows. “Panic buying is behind the irrational price surge, as people want to buy before prices rise further,” said Yan Yuejin, Chief Research Officer at E-House R&D Institute in Shanghai. A new round of property investment and speculation is forming, as the stock market is highly volatile and deposit interest rates are at historic lows, Yan said. Yi Xianrong, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said the market boom will probably last six months before prices fall from unreasonably high levels. Not all house trading centres across the city have received a large number of applicants, such as the centres in downtown Jingan District and Putuo District. “Our business volume is going as usual and we don't see many more people,” said an official working at Jingan District House Trading Centre, who declined to give her name. “House prices in our district are already very high and we are a small district with limited home supply, not like in Baoshan.” ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetan monk calls out for independence, sets himself on fire in western China to protest Beijing's rule: report (SCMP)
2016-03-02
A Tibetan Buddhist monk set himself on fire and died in a protest against Chinese rule, in the first such action of its kind this year, a US government-funded radio station said on Wednesday. Kalsang Wangdu self-immolated on Monday afternoon near the Retsokha monastery in western Sichuan province's traditionally Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Kardze, Radio Free Asia reported. It said the monk called out for Tibetan independence while he burned, then died on the way to a hospital in the provincial capital of Chengdu. Tibetan exile sources say at least 114 monks and laypeople have self-immolated over the past five years, with most of them dying. Radio Free Asia puts the number of self-immolations at 144 since 2009. Information from the region, which is largely cut off from the rest of the province by security checkpoints, is extremely hard to obtain, and local officials are reportedly under orders to remain silent about self-immolations. An officer who answered the phone at Kardze police headquarters and gave his surname as Li said no such incident had been reported. “We are now in a period of preserving stability. If such a thing happens, we will make it known to the public,” Li said. Radio Free Asia and other groups also reported that a 16-year-old Tibetan living in India set himself on fire on Monday as a protest, but that he survived. The protests are seen as an extreme expression of the anger and frustration felt by many Tibetans living under heavy-handed Chinese rule. Many protesters also call for the return of the Tibetans' exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against Chinese forces who had occupied the Himalayan region a decade earlier. Tibetan monks and nuns are among the most active opponents of Chinese rule in the region and the strongest proponents of Tibet's independent identity, prompting the authorities to subject them to some of the harshest and most intrusive restrictions. Last year, Tibet's Communist Party chief, Chen Quanguo, demanded that Buddhist monasteries display the national flag as part of efforts to shore up Chinese patriotism. Beijing blames the Dalai Lama and others for inciting the immolations and says it has made vast investments to develop the region's economy and improve quality of life. The Dalai Lama says he is against all violence. ^ top ^

CPC official lauds Panchen Lama's patriotism, contribution (Xinhua)
2016-03-02
Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Sun Chunlan met with the 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu on Tuesday, lauding his patriotism and increasing influence in the Tibetan Buddhism society. Sun, head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, asked the Panchen Lama to make contribution to national unification and ethnic solidarity. Regarding the 20th anniversary of the Panchen Lama's enthronement and his increasing influence within the Tibetan Buddhism society, Sun said it was the result of diligence and commitment to his studies. Sun expressed the hope that the Panchen Lama will follow the instructions of the CPC Central Committee's general secretary Xi Jinping during their meeting in June last year and carry forward the fine tradition of his predecessors. The Panchen Lama said he will bear in mind the care from the CPC Central Committee and the central government as well as Xi's instructions. He vowed to work hard to help "Tibetan Buddhism better incorporated into socialist society" and promote Tibet's prosperity, harmony and stability. ^ top ^

Dalai Lama 'govt' faces growing infighting (Global Times)
2016-03-02
Signs are pointing to growing infighting within the Tibetan "government-in-exile," after a "minister" resigned over the weekend. The race to choose the executive head of the exile government, whose influence has been dwindling with age, has gained more momentum recently, observers noted. Dicki Chhoyang, head of the "Department of Information and International Relations" of the Tibetan "government-in-exile" in Dharamsala, northern India, announced Sunday that she has formally submitted her resignation to "Prime Minister" Lobsang Sangay. "My decision was made after careful deliberation, bearing in mind our collective interests and the significant challenges that lie ahead," read Dicki Chhoyang's statement. Dicki Chhoyang said she will provide more details when the time is right, but Lobsang Sangay said at a press conference that her resignation was prompted by her desire to join the elections, as incumbent "officials" are banned from running. "Dicki Chhoyang's resignation shows that the Tibetan 'government-in-exile' is rearranging its power and the long-running disputes among different factions in the 'government' will further escalate as the elections near," Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference's Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee, told the Global Times on Tuesday. The Tibetan "government-in-exile" is scheduled to hold the second stage of its elections, and the final round of voting will be held on March 20. However, the exile government's election commission has been accused of rigging the vote and its candidates were mired in various scandals, according to tibet.cn, a website affiliated with the Chinese government. In January, a Tibetan camp leader died by suicide reportedly over his dissatisfaction with the exile government's handling of an election rigging case, the website reported. One of the two candidates who will vie for the post of Sikyong, the executive head of the Tibetan "government-in-exile," was allegedly accused of murdering a monk and went on to live with the victim's wife, the website reported. "The exposed scandals exposed the disorder within the Tibetan 'government-in-exile.' Even while they claim to 'fight for a free Tibet,' their real purpose is to seize power for individual interests by splitting our nation," Zhu said. Ulterior motives The candidates differ on whether to support the Dalai Lama's "middle way approach" or to adopt a more violent approach in fighting for Tibet's "independence," said Zhu. But their goal of separating China to gain greater Western support and to control exiled Tibetans remains, Zhu noted. In 2014, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang accused the Dalai Lama of disguising his pursuit of independence by advocating the so-called "middle way" and a "Greater Tibet." Qin Yongzhang, an ethnologist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the Dalai Lama has manipulated the "government-in-exile" to try to separate the Tibet region from China and promote family interests since 2011. In March 2011, the Dalai Lama announced he would relinquish his political leadership role in the Tibetan "government-in-exile." "The Dalai Lama claim of giving up power to strengthen the government's democratic structure is a lie. His real purpose is to have more time to spread his separatist theory and gain support from Western countries," said Zhu. "As the Dalai Lama's health deteriorates and family scandals are exposed, his control and influence on exiled Tibetans may wane. The Dalai Lama, his supporters and government are facing more internal and external crises," said Qin. The Tibetan "government-in-exile" is headed for decay as more people see the Dalai Lama's and other separatists' real motives, said Zhu. More countries are changing their attitude towards the Dalai Lama as the Tibet Autonomous Region enjoys prosperity under the administration of the central government, said Zhu. British Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson refused to meet the Dalai Lama during his visit to the UK in September 2015. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Two senior officials in China's Xinjiang region expelled, to face corruption charges (SCMP)
2016-02-29
China's ruling Communist Party has expelled two senior officials in the violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang for corruption and transferred them to prosecutors, an anti-graft watchdog said. China has jailed dozens of senior officials since President Xi Jinping launched a sweeping campaign against deep-seated graft after assuming office three years ago. The authorities announced in June an investigation over serious discipline violations, a euphemism for corruption, into Alimjan Maimaitiming, 56, a former secretary general in the government of Xinjiang, home to many of China's ethnic Muslim Uygurs. The violations were “extremely severe” and gravely damaged party unity, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said on its website late on Sunday. The suspected crimes ranged from “forming cliques and factions” and opposing investigation to transferring criminal proceeds, destroying evidence, abusing his power and having improper sexual relations, the watchdog said in its statement. Alimjan Maimaitiming's official biography says he is from Cherchen, also known by its Chinese name of Qiemo, in the heavily Uygur deep south of Xinjiang. He was previously editor-in-chief of the official Xinjiang Daily. Also transferred to prosecutors, the anti-graft watchdog said in a separate statement, was the case of Xie Hui, who ran the Xinjiang prison system from 2010 until his promotion in 2013 to be a vice head of the Xinjiang public security bureau. Xie, 53, who was put under investigation in July, seriously violated party discipline and rules for the appointment of officials, besides abusing his power, and receiving “huge sums” from undetermined sources, it said. Hundreds have died in recent years in unrest in Xinjiang, blamed by the government on Islamist militants who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan. However, many rights groups and foreign experts say the root cause of the problems is unhappiness among Uygurs over controls on their religion and culture. China denies any repression in Xinjiang, a resource-rich region on the borders of Central Asia and says it faces a very real terrorist threat. ^ top ^

Newest city to boost Xinjiang stability (China Daily)
2016-02-29
Kunyu has become the newest city in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The city was officially established in Hotan prefecture on Feb 26 and is expected to play a strategic role in maintaining social stability in the region. Kunyu is the administrative headquarters of the 14th division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, founded more than 60 years ago, serves as a stabilizing force in Xinjiang, which faces the constant threat of terrorism. The corps is known for building large-scale modern agriculture enterprises and training local militia in desert and border areas. It is a provincial-level organization that handles all administrative and judicial affairs in areas under its administration. On Saturday, Sun Jinlong, 54, was appointed the corps' new Party chief. Previously, he was deputy Party head of Hunan province. Kunyu covers an area of more than 687 square kilometers. It is now the second-largest city in Hotan prefecture, after Hotan city, which is 78 km away. The State Council, China's highest executive body, approved the application to make Kunyu a county-level city on Jan 7, as part of efforts to implement the central government's decision to support the corps' development in southern Xinjiang. The corps is working on transforming the headquarters of its 14 divisions into cities so they can better contribute to local social stability and development. So far, the company has created nine new cities. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Cyberattacks expected to rise as China-based state-linked hackers target Hong Kong organisations (SCMP)
2016-03-03
Cyberattacks in Hong Kong are expected to rise, according to security experts who have identified at least seven state-linked hacker groups in mainland China that have been targeting organisations in the city since 2014. Bryce Boland, the chief technology officer for Asia-Pacific at cybersecurity company FireEye, said on Thursday that cyberattacks by the hacker groups were likely to increase as political strife in Hong Kong continued. “Political unrest in Hong Kong doesn't sit well with the [Chinese Communist] party,” Boland said. “Hong Kong is a perfect target for advanced attackers. It's a global business hub with simmering political tensions. It's also in close proximity with ... actors with an interest in Hong Kong's political and economic development,” he added. FireEye's intelligence assessment found the seven Chinese hacker groups to be state-linked based on a range of factors, including the targeted victims, information sourced, resources used and forensic evidence from cyberattacks. “During Occupy Central, we saw a big uptick in hacking incidents,” Boland said. “We see a consistent level of attacks against [some Hong Kong organisations] coming from [mainland] China, and we expect that this will continue.” About 43 per cent of FireEye's Hong Kong clients were subject to an advanced attack by hacker groups in the second half of last year, compared to the 15 per cent global average, according to the company's global survey of more than 4,000 clients. It described Chinese hacker groups as a “prolific threat” that tend to focus on diplomatic, military and economic intelligence from governments and private-sector firms. Specific companies targeted are in finance, logistics, media and law. Boland said several Hong Kong government organisations had also been the target of cyberattacks, but he declined to say whether those incidents involved the mainland hacker groups. Michael Chue, FireEye's general manager for Greater China, said Hong Kong lagged behind Singapore, Japan and South Korea in improving cybersecurity. “A majority of Hong Kong organisations use signature-based technology to protect themselves, but that is not good enough against advanced attackers,” Chue said. Signature-based technology is a form of malware detection commonly found in anti-virus software. Michael Gazeley, the managing director at network security firm Network Box, blamed the Hong Kong government for the city's lack of cybersecurity awareness. “The government's current approach is wrong because we need technology to protect Hong Kong, instead of setting up more think tanks, discussions or taxpayer-funded organisations,” Gazeley said. He suggested that the government work closely with established cybersecurity firms to tackle this problem. “We've reached a point where cybersecurity is so important that we actually need to get down to doing something about it instead of just talking about the issue,” he said. Reports of hacking rose 43 per cent last year compared with 2014, according to data released in January by the Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre. Almost 5,000 hacking incidents were reported, with a four-fold increase in website attacks. ^ top ^

Hong Kong copyright bill debate enters final 48 hours after latest compromise bid fails (SCMP)
2016-03-02
Debate on the contentious copyright bill has entered its final 48 hours following failed negotiations between the government and pan-democrats as well as ongoing filibuster attempts on Wednesday. Commerce minister Greg So Kam-leung turned down what pan-democrats called the “last best chance” to resolve the political impasse two days before a self-imposed deadline on Friday, when the government will drop the bill that was first proposed a decade ago if it is not endorsed. “The proposal of [limited fair use] from pan-democrats is ridiculous,” So said. “It was I who first floated this possibility [months ago] but it was rejected.” He was speaking after a brief meeting with three pan-democrats, including the Civic Party's Dennis Kwok and Charles Mok and Kenneth Leung of the Professional Commons. Kwok, in response, lamented So's inability to bridge the gap between copyright owners and internet users throughout months of deadlock. “Isn't it ridiculous given that even So and the government agreed to the proposal in the first place,” he said. Mok questioned whether it would be necessary for the government to satisfy copyright owners in every respect, saying it could have its own mind if it deemed the proposal beneficial to society. “I don't think So can master the art of politics which is about compromise,” he said. Last week, So announced that the government would not pursue the copyright amendment bill any more if lawmakers failed to vote on it by Friday. If so, it would be the government's second failure to update the law in four years, even though pan-democrats recognised that the latest attempt was an improvement. They would have backed the bill had it not been for fierce opposition from internet users who feared the loss of freedom of expression to such an extent that they called the bill “internet Article 23” in reference to the national security provision in the Basic Law. Pan-democrats have since then galvanised support from internet users' concern groups in backing the amendments they proposed, including contract override and fair use. In the last month they proposed a “limited fair use” provision whereby any non-commercial use of copyrighted material should be exempted from criminal liability. But in the face of opposition from copyright owners – made up of film and music industry insiders – the government has been reluctant to accept it. ^ top ^

Powerful people 'threatened' radical Hong Kong localist and his family after Mong Kok riots arrest (SCMP)
2016-03-02
A key figure of localist group Hong Kong Indigenous claims his family has received threats from “powerful people” to make him disappear like Lee Po, the bookseller allegedly spirited to the mainland late last year. Speaking of his experiences since his February 21 arrest over his alleged role in the Mong Kok riot, Ray Wong Toi-yeung said his relatives were contacted by different people through various channels, including by phone and middlemen, in the days after the event. Wong refused to identify the callers but claimed they were not from Hong Kong, did not speak Cantonese and wanted to meet him directly. “These were people with powerful backgrounds. I think everyone can guess who these people are,” he said. “Some of these people succeeded in reaching my family members and in the course of their conversations, there was coercion and cajoling. “They said they'd be able to find me and when they do, they would catch me. They also referred to the case of Mr Lee Po.” Asked why he did not report it to the police, Wong said police “did not have enough power” to investigate such people. Lee, a seller of politically sensitive books, was last seen on December 30. He was later revealed to be in Shenzhen but there was no record of him leaving Hong Kong. Many speculated that Lee was abducted by mainland law enforcement agents in Hong Kong and taken across the border. Lee denied this in a mainland television interview this week. Hong Kong Indigenous' Edward Leung Tin-kei – who came third with more than 15 per cent of the votes in Sunday's New Territories East by-election – said he was not worried about competition from other localist groups in September's Legislative Council elections. The pair would not say if the group would field more than one candidate but Wong stressed he would not be running. Leung hinted at possible coordination with other localist groups in the run-up to the race, but said he was exhausted from the by-election campaign and it was too early to plan his next move. The priority, he said, was legal assistance for activists arrested over the Mong Kok riot by establishing a fund – now “more than HK$1 million” in size – and finishing his university degree. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying congratulated by-election winner Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu of the Civic Party yesterday but stopped short of commenting on the rise of localism. “We know there are grievances in society,” he said. “The government is willing to listen to the views of the public to resolve the problems society is facing.” ^ top ^

Bookseller Lee Po's plan to renounce his UK citizenship could proceed fast, paperwork shows (SCMP)
2016-03-01
Renouncing British citizenship is straightforward – and so is revoking the decision. Missing bookseller Lee Po's declaration that he would cancel his citizenship has put the acquisition and relinquishment of citizenship under a spotlight. If the political books publisher meant what he said, the process would require that he complete little more than a six-page document. It remained unclear whether Lee merely expressed his intentions or had already filed formal paperwork to set the process in motion. In an interview with mainland Chinese media, Lee said he notified Britain that he and his wife had decided to abandon their UK citizenship. Lee's declaration in the video, aired on Monday night, raised scepticism given continuing questions surrounding how and why the bookseller disappeared from Hong Kong in December last year. The cost of renouncing one's citizenship in Britain is HK$2,416. London grants a person over the age of 18 and of full mental capacity the right to “give up” citizenship if the person already holds another nationality or seeks another one. After a renunciation form is signed, documentary evidence including a passport, birth certificate or a letter from another country to state that the person is of a different citizenship is sent back to Britain to be processed. But the UK Home Office allows people to regain their status through multiple channels. The process contains safeguards to ensure that if a person gave up citizenship “for any other reason” beyond the stated requirements, the British Home Secretary could allow him or her to resume citizenship depending on the circumstances. Despite a declaration that one is no longer a British citizen, the decision to renounce could be revoked – at a cost of HK$9,884. The process to reinstate one's UK citizenship is straightforward, unless the person has a declared criminal record. But the Home Office stated applicants must be of “good character” and “not of unsound mind” in their reinstatement. In contrast, the cost for relinquishing one's United States citizenship is HK$18,800 and does not affect a person's American tax liabilities. ^ top ^

MTR told to plan for suspension of Hong Kong-Guangzhou high speed rail link project (SCMP)
2016-03-01
The MTR Corporation has been ordered to map out a plan for the suspension of the ill-fated high-speed rail link to Guangzhou as the government makes a last-ditch attempt to secure extra funding from sceptical lawmakers by end of this month. If the government is eventually forced to put the brakes on the long-delayed and overbudget project because of a deadlock over the additional HK$19.6 billion needed, it will have to pay another HK$233 million per month for the suspension costs. The acting chairman of the Legislative Council's Finance Committee, Chan Kam-lam, said yesterday he was still unsure whether there would be enough time for voting on the funding, even with the extra meetings scheduled this month. “It depends on how many members' motions there are to process,” he said. Chan said a decision to cut short the debate just to meet the deadline would “not be made lightly” and he would stick to council procedures. After an emergency meeting with MTR chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang and other senior management, transport minister Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said yesterday the railway firm needed to submit an execution plan to the government within two weeks detailing the suspension arrangement, including discussions with contractors. Cheung said the government needed to secure the extra funding by the end of March because HK$60 billion out of the original HK$65 billion obtained six years ago would be depleted by then. “We are very worried...We can't control the outcome so we have to prepare for the worst,” Cheung said. “Time is running out now... The government must confirm in March whether it can secure the funding from the Finance Committee. “If not, we need to issue a notice of suspension to MTR which will make the arrangement accordingly.” A Finance Committee meeting descended into chaos last Saturday as pan-democratic lawmakers demanded clarity on a proposed joint immigration checkpoint at the West Kowloon terminus which they fear would breach the “one country, two systems” policy. The government is seeking to add two more committee meetings, on March 12 and 19, to the two already scheduled for March 11 and 18. Cheung urged lawmakers to green light the money to avoid grave consequences affecting the livelihoods of 7,000 workers. The mega project would cost even more if construction was to resume in future, he warned. The government revised the project's final estimated cost last year to HK$84.42 billion from the original HK$65 billion in 2009, pushing the completion date to the autumn of 2018, three years later than originally planned. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan and Japan to discuss orderly fishing near disputed East China Sea islands (SCMP)
2016-03-02
Members of a joint Taiwan-Japan fishery committee started a three-day meeting in Taipei on Wednesday to discuss orderly fishing in waters off a cluster of East China Sea islands claimed by Taiwan and administered by Japan, ahead of the fishing season that starts in April, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said. Peter Tsai, head of the Association of East Asian Relations, which handles Taiwan's ties with Japan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, said the meeting would be focusing on fishing regulations, which have remained an issue since the two sides signed a landmark fisheries pact in April 2013. Some fishermen in Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa want the Japanese government to reduce the size of the area where Taiwanese trawlers are currently allowed to operate. They say that what was agreed upon two years ago did not sufficiently take their interests into account. Tsai said it was his understanding that the Japanese side had not placed the issue on the agenda of this week's meeting. However, if it was brought up, “we will make our utmost efforts to maintain the interests of our fishermen”, he said. The pact allows vessels from both sides to fish in what Japan regards as its exclusive economic zone near the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, known as Tiaoyutai in Taiwan, and as Diaoyu in China, which also claims them. The joint fishery committee, which meets annually, was established in part to pursue any issues left unresolved when the pact was signed, including those relating to fishing near the Senkaku and Yaeyama island groups. During last year's meeting, the two sides decided to amend regulations to allow their respective fishing vessels more time slots and keep “more proper” distance in specified areas. They also agreed to revisit the regulations before the start of the 2016 fishing season. ^ top ^

Tsai's dilemma: should Taiwan's newly elected leader allow the Dalai Lama to visit and risk angering Beijing? (SCMP)
2016-03-01
Taiwan president-elect Tsai Ing-wen's honeymoon period with mainland China could be short-lived if she allows the Dalai Lama to visit the self-ruled democratic island that Beijing claims as its own, two senior political sources said. China regards Tibet's exiled spiritual leader as a separatist and Ma Ying-jeou, the outgoing president who favours closer economic ties with the mainland, refused the Dalai Lama entry several times since his last visit to Taiwan in 2009. On that occasion Ma did allow him in, although he did not meet the 80-year-old. With invitations pending from Buddhist groups that are likely to be renewed after Tsai and her pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party easily won January elections, the incoming leader faces a dilemma, said a Taiwanese source close to the DPP and another with direct knowledge of the matter. “The Dalai Lama could visit as early as around national day,” said the source close to the DPP, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. The Republic of China, Taiwan's official name, marks its national day on October 10. Since sweeping to victory at the polls, Tsai has vowed to seek to maintain the “status quo of peace and stability” with mainland China, Taiwan's biggest trading partner, and Chinese state-run media have noted her pledges. Since the election, Beijing has also warned against any moves towards formal independence and said it would defend its sovereignty. Tsai, who takes office on May 20, must decide whether to let the Dalai Lama in and risk riling Beijing at a time when tensions in the region have already been raised over rival claims to the vital waterways of the South China Sea. The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Communist rule. China has accused him of being a separatist, but the monk says he only wants genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland. Tsai could try and seek a compromise, the sources said, by convincing Beijing to keep dialogue open, rather than stonewalling her, in exchange for allowing the Dalai Lama into Taiwan but not meeting him one-on-one. The DPP said in a statement it was not aware of an invitation for the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan. The Dalai Lama's office in India, where he lives in exile, said: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama has no plans to visit Taiwan at the present time”. China's Taiwan Affairs Office did not respond to a request for comment. The Dalai Lama congratulated Tsai on her “remarkable” victory, according to a statement on the Tibetan spiritual leader's website. “It is indeed encouraging to see how firmly rooted democracy has become in Taiwan,” the Dalai Lama wrote. “It is a model and source of inspiration to those who aspire [to] freedom and accountable leadership.” Beijing and Taipei have been diplomatic and military rivals since their split in 1949 after the Nationalists lost the Chinese civil war and fled to Taiwan. But trade, investment and tourism have blossomed during outgoing Ma's eight-year rule. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's consumer goods industry to grow by $200 billion (China Daily)
2016-03-03
China's consumer goods and services industry will grow by $200 billion by 2020, accounting for about 60 percent of growth in Asia, a report said. In "The future is now: understanding the new Asian consumer", professional services company Accenture estimates that the consumer goods and services industry will grow by as much as $700 billion globally by 2020, with nearly 50 percent, or $340 billion, coming from Asia – specifically China, Indonesia, India, Singapore and Thailand. Consumer packaged goods companies must fully embrace digital commerce or risk losing out to newer industry players in the battle for an estimated $340 billion worth of market growth in Asia Pacific, the report said. If these companies don't take action now, they risk losing out on the new generation of consumers. They must couple traditional models with new ones where consumer engagement is digital and one2one, social influence is perceived to be the trustworthy source and shopping is one click away, said Fabio Vacirca, senior managing director of Accenture's products operating group in Asia Pacific. "The entire sales and marketing ecosystem is changing dramatically on the back of the new generation of consumers and pervasive digital technologies. In Asian markets the change is faster and in many cases it means leapfrogging the traditional models," he says. The report estimates that retail sales across Asia Pacific's booming consumer markets are on course to top $10 trillion by 2018, with approximately one-quarter coming from digital commerce. Despite the heavy influence from e-tailers and online marketplaces, the digital commerce market in the Asia Pacific region remains under-penetrated for consumer packaged goods companies, particularly in the grocery-product category. In addition, using knowledge of consumer preferences and evolving demands, leading distributors in the market, such as Alibaba, have been adapting by reinventing and tailoring offerings to redefine the value chain and make the consumer their focal point. Despite the market seeing some digital transformation by packaged goods companies, it is still not enough for many consumers. Accenture's research shows that consumers are not satisfied with their purchase journeys. Today's top"ask", according to the report, is for a single platform where they can enjoy unique experiences and enable impulse decisions, receive tailored product recommendations and where they are always connected to their favorite brands. This represents an outstanding opportunity for traditional companies to capture the next wave of growth. By focusing on providing stronger digital commerce they can bridge existing gaps in consumers' purchase journeys and provide the seamless shopping experiences they're looking for. ^ top ^

Head of top think tank proposes 'super regulator' after push by Xi (SCMP)
2016-03-03
A top economic think tank has proposed setting up a super regulator overseeing the finance industry, but industry insiders said it would be of more political significance than economic. Chi Fulin, president of the China Institute for Reform and Development and also a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), has submitted a proposal suggesting that the three commissions supervising the mainland's securities, banking and insurance markets be merged. “China should set up a general authority supervising the whole finance system as soon as possible,” his proposal for the CPPCC's annual meeting in Beijing says. “The industries of banking, securities and insurance are overlapping and becoming more interactive with each other as the use of internet becomes wider.” Debate over whether to merge the China Banking Regulatory Commission, China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and China Insurance Regulatory Commission was fuelled by last summer's stock market meltdown. Some scholars also suggested that the mainland's central bank, the People's Bank of China (PBOC), be merged into the super regulator as its leader. Finance regulatory sources said President Xi Jinping had been pushing for the restructuring, but the move might not help to address regulatory difficulties, even though it would create a more centralised decision-making structure […]. Even the CSRC sees different departments in conflict with each other on rule setting, imagine how hard it would be to manage and coordinate a mega regulator.” In November, when delivering blueprint for China's 13th five-year plan, Xi said “recent volatilities on the capital markets” proved the existing finance supervisory structure did not fit the industry's development, and it would have to be reformed to prevent systemic risks. Former PBOC adviser Li Daokui, a professor at Tsinghua University, said on the sidelines of the CPPCC meeting that coordination between the central bank and financial regulators should be improved […]. Zhang Xiaoqiang, a former vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, who used to oversee China's overseas investments, said the merger of the central bank and regulators was “a grand issue” that required “in-depth research”. The mainland stock benchmark rallied more than 130 per cent between September 2014 and mid-June last year, fuelled by formal and informal leveraged buying. But it crashed by more than 40 per cent from the peak in the following two months, leading to public criticism of the CSRC's ability to monitor abnormal market activity and react quickly. Meanwhile, the sharp devaluation of the yuan in mid August and early January, which was accompanied by further stock market volatility, also led to complaints of a lack of communication between the CSRC and PBOC. ^ top ^

China downplays Moody's downgrade of government bond rating from 'stable' to 'negative' (SCMP)
2016-03-03
China downplayed concerns of a hard landing in its economy after Moody's downgraded its outlook on the government bond rating. The move came as China prepared for the annual meetings of its political advisory body and legislature – the “two sessions”. Wang Guoqing, spokesman for the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference which meets today, said China's 6.9 per cent growth in GDP last year “stood head and shoulders above others” in the world – and indicators at the start of the year showed “warmth” in the economy. “The overall economic situation is good, therefore there is no problem of a hard landing,” Wang said yesterday. Doubts about China's economic resilience rose after credit-rating agency Moody's yesterday downgraded its outlook on the government bond rating from “stable” to “negative”. Moody's cited uncertainty over the authorities' capacity to implement economic reforms, rising government debt and falling foreign reserves as the reasons behind the downgrade. The agency also warned it could further downgrade China's rating if it saw a slowing of the reforms needed to support sustainable growth and to protect the government's balance sheet. “Without credible and efficient reforms, China's GDP growth would slow more markedly as a high debt burden ­dampens business investment and demographics turn increasingly unfavourable,” Moody's said. “Government debt would increase more sharply than we currently expect.” China's economy and its financial stability are becoming an increasing concern to the rest of the world following turbulence in the yuan exchange rate, a recent stock market rout and the slowdown in GDP growth to a 25-year low of 6.9 per cent last year. A continuing fall in foreign exchange reserves of US$762 billion over the past 18 months, caused by capital outflows, highlighted policy, currency and growth risks, Moody's said. The agency questioned the ability of the government to implement economic reforms. […] Policymakers' credibility was at risk of being undermined by incomplete implementation or partial reversals of some reforms. “Interventions in the equity and foreign exchange markets over the past year suggest that ensuring financial and economic stability is also an objective, but there is considerable uncertainty about policy priorities,” Moody's said. Yet the agency retained the Aa3 rating on government bonds, noting that the country's sizeable reserves gave it more time to implement reforms and gradually address economic imbalances. State news agency Xinhua called the decision a “misreading”. […] ^ top ^

China's factory activity falls for seventh month amid sluggish demand as economy slows (SCMP)
2016-03-01
China's factory activity shrank for a seventh straight month in February as business conditions in the world's second-largest economy continued to deteriorate amid sluggish demand at home and overseas. The official manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 49 in February, compared with the previous month's reading of 49.4, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday. Economists polled by the Reuters new agency forecast a reading of 49.3. A reading below 50 indicates a contraction in activity and a reading above it suggests expansion. A sub-index of new orders fell to 48.6 in February from 49.5. A new export order index recovered a little to 47.4. Manufacturers, who have been under pressure from falling prices and overcapacity in key sectors, have become more cautious in restocking. Stock market volatility and an unclear outlook on the yuan exchange rate has also put pressure on manufacturers. Analysts also noted that the February's figures could be distorted by the long Lunar New Year holiday as many factories stopped work or scaled back operations. The government has stressed the need for reforms to boost manufacturing competitiveness, but calls have grown for stimulus policies to boost demand. The central bank's reserve requirement ratio cut comes into effect on Tuesday in an attempt to ensure ample liquidity and encourage banks to give out loans. The announcement of the cut on Monday came after central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said last week that China's monetary policy remained prudent and would “ease a bit”. Chinese banks handed out 2.5 trillion yuan (HK$2.97 trillion) in new loans in January, almost triple the level of the previous month, in an attempt to counter slowing growth. However, market watchers have doubted if manufacturers would be willing to take on new debt and expand capacity while external demand was still uncertain. Raymond Yeung Yue-ting, a senior economist at ANZ Banking, said the figures could prompt more government measures to bolster the economy. “Accommodative monetary policy is needed to shore up growth,” Yeung said. He predicted the central bank would further slash bank's reserve requirement ratio to encourage more lending to businesses. Conditions were unlikely to improve for companies in the first half of the year as the government rolls out more proactive fiscal policies to support growth, he said. GDP growth last year slowed to a 25-year low of 6.9 per cent and economists expect the growth to drop to as low as 6.5 per cent this year. The National People's Congress, which opens on Saturday, is expected to approve a larger fiscal deficit this year, providing more room for tax breaks and tax cuts for businesses. This year's GDP target will also be unveiled during the legislative sessions. ^ top ^

China to spend big on cutting coal and steel overcapacity (China Daily)
2016-03-01
The central government will spend 100 billion yuan ($15.25 billion) every year for up to five years to address overcapacity in sectors such as steel and coal, according to a report in Economic Information Daily on Friday. The budget will mainly be used to relocate employees, the report said, citing sources from petrochemical market information provider ICIS and industry insiders. The sources said there will no minimum financial allocation for the coal industry, which had been a topic of speculation previously. Steel and coal have the largest inventories in China, to address this no new projects are being given the go ahead, outdated production facilities are being shut down, and "zombie" companies are being forced to shut. "The steel and coal sectors should take the lead in cutting overcapacity, reducing costs and improving efficiency," Premier Li Keqiang said at a State Council symposium on Wednesday. Including local governments financial share, around 200 billion yuan will be allocated every year to cut excess capacity in the two industries, Shenwan Hongyuan Securities estimates. The coal industry alone will get around 140 billion. 1.8 million employees in the sector will be relocated while 360 million tonnes of outdated production capacity will be removed. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

China hopes for full implementation of UN resolution on DPRK (Xinhua)
2016-03-03
China on Thursday said it hoped the UN Security Council resolution on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) could be fully and seriously implemented, urging parties concerned not to intensify tensions in the Korean Peninsula. In response to the nuclear test and satellite launch by the DPRK, the 15-nation council unanimously adopted a resolution early Wednesday that imposed a raft of sanctions on the DPRK to curb the country's nuclear and missile programs. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing that the sanctions were not an end in themselves, and only dialog and negotiation can fundamentally solve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. The UN Security Council reiterated its demands that the DPRK abandon all nuclear weapons and other nuclear programs as well as weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. Wednesday's resolution includes a ban on all exports from the DPRK of coal, iron, iron ore, gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore and rare earth metals. It also banned the supply of all types of aviation fuel, including rocket fuel, to the DPRK. The sanctions should avoid impacting on the lives of the general population of the DPRK and its humanitarian needs as much as possible, said Hong, noting that is an important part of the resolution. It is clear that the resolution aims to prevent the DPRK from developing its nuclear and missile programs, promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, Hong said. The resolution reiterated that the nuclear issue should be solved through dialogue and negotiation by relevant parities and supported the resumption of the six-party talks, he said. As the chair of the six-party talks, China maintains an objective and fair attitude in approaching how to resume the talks, the spokesperson said. Hong said the Chinese side had proposed parallel tracks, which involve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the replacement of the Korean armistice with a peace agreement. China is willing to discuss the routes and steps of this parallel-track approach with relevant parties, Hong said. At present, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is complex and sensitive, Hong said, urging parties concerned not to intensify tensions. Hong reiterated that China opposed the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), an advanced U.S. missile defense system, in the Korean Peninsula, calling for prudent actions by certain countries. It is reported that the defense ministry of the Republic of Korea (ROK) said on Thursday that the DPRK has fired several short-range projectiles into eastern waters despite the new UN Security Council resolution on Pyongyang. "All parties have a responsibility to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula," Hong said. ^ top ^

China will implement UN Security Council resolution on DPRK if adopted (China Daily)
2016-03-01
China will earnestly implement the UN Security Council sanction resolution on the nuclear test and the satellite launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea if it is adopted, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks in a news conference. He said China believes that it is necessary for the UN Security Council to adopt a new resolution to curb the DPRK's ability to develop nuclear and missile programs. The Foreign Ministry said the resolution should also encourage various parties to work together to get the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue back on the track of dialogue and negotiation as soon as possible and restart the Six-Party Talks. Reuters cited the US mission to the UN as saying that the Security Council plans to vote on Tuesday on a resolution against the DPRK; the Associated Press quoted UN diplomats as saying on Feb 24 that China and the United States had reached agreement on a UN resolution that would impose tougher sanctions on the DPRK. China has said that it supports the UN Security Council in passing a new and strong resolution on the DPRK, but emphasized that the fundamental way to solve the issue should be sought through dialogue and negotiation. ^ top ^

China's thick red media line on what journalists can write about communist ally North Korea (SCMP)
2016-02-28
North Korea's missile launch and nuclear test where shots heard around the world, setting off a torrent of news coverage and analysis about the hermit kingdom. But in China, the tests caused barely a ripple of controversy, with reporters more cautious than ever about covering the country's wayward neighbour. There has long been a red line in the sand about what mainland journalists can write on China's communist ally. That line is drawn by state censors and the press itself, and follows the contours of the complex bilateral relationship, journalists and researchers say. “There have long been restrictions on [reporting] North Korea. We only follow Xinhua, so you basically can't find any [original] reporting on North Korea in our paper,” a reporter with a popular Guangdong newspaper said. The explicit restrictions came from provincial propaganda authorities but self-censorship played a part, the reporter said. The newspaper, as well as many other mainstream media, covered the nuclear test in January and the missile launch earlier this month using reports from central media such as Xinhua and China News Service. […] The diplomat reportedly got drunk at a banquet celebrating Pyongyang's missile launch. The story was not picked up by mainland media but it was circulated on several online forums. Several journalists said the incident, even if verified, would unlikely to make it to print because of its sensitivity. Lee Seong-hyon, a research fellow with the Sejong Institute in South Korea, said the media blackout was sign of Beijing's desire to improve ties with Pyongyang despite growing public wariness in China of tolerating an unpredictable ally. “It doesn't want a specific incident to derail or undermine the Sino-North Korean relationship,” Lee said.“For China, North Korea is a nuisance but not its major threat. China thinks the US is its prime existential threat.” Despite the censorship of mainstream media, information – however unverified – still gets through to the Chinese public via social media platforms, which are less subject to state scrutiny. In an editorial after the missile launch, Global Times said more Chinese people were changing their views on North Korea. “A very important trend is, more and more Chinese no longer see North Korea as a friendly country, and a lot of them consider it a burden to China, some even said it's a 'bad neighbour',” the editorial said. ^ top ^

UN to adopt 'toughest ever' N.Korea sanctions after bomb, rocket tests (Global Times)
2016-02-27
China on Friday said sanctions should not affect the everyday life of North Koreans as the United Nations (UN) Security Council headed toward a vote on a new resolution that would impose the toughest sanctions yet on the country over its nuclear bomb and ballistic missile tests. Addressing a daily briefing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said the UN resolution should aim to prevent the North from developing its nuclear and missile programs, but should not affect the daily lives of local people. The resolution, drafted by the US after negotiations with China, would require UN member states to conduct mandatory inspections of all cargo passing through their territory to or from North Korea to look for illicit goods, Reuters reported. Measures also provide for a ban on exports of coal, iron, gold, titanium and rare-earth minerals from North Korea and would prohibit the supply of aviation fuel, including rocket fuel, according to AFP. US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said the resolution, if adopted, would send "an unambiguous and unyielding message" that there will be consequences for actions of the North, AFP reported Friday. The Security Council decided to impose new measures on North Korea after it carried out its fourth nuclear test on January 6 and test-fired a rocket on February 7. It will be the fifth sets of sanctions on the country since 2006. "The new sanctions may not have a major impact on the North in the short run," Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies under the Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times on Friday. "As the country gradually runs out of supplies and equipment for its research work on nuke tests, Pyongyang will feel more acute pain when the sanctions basically cut off its production and research abilities," Zheng noted. Meanwhile, Pyongyang's staunch determination to get nuclear weapons can be constrained if the US and China can reconcile their positions, since the divergence has aided the nuclear tests of the North in the past, Li Kaisheng, an associate research fellow at the Institute of International Relations at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday. The US should shoulder a bigger role in reaching a final solution to the nuclear issue on the peninsula, which is dependent on negotiation and dialogue, Li noted. In a Thursday speech delivered at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the US, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi emphasized that peace talks are the only feasible solution, as he proposed parallel tracks, which involve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the replacement of the Korean armistice with a peace agreement, according to the foreign ministry website. The parallel-track approach highlights the overriding goal of denuclearizing the peninsula while addressing the concerns of various parties and helping to realize long-lasting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, Hong explained. "The US may be in a dilemma as it wants to take advantage of the nuclear issue to strengthen its presence at Northeast Asia, but it also senses the threat posed by such nuclear tests. It is crucial for the US to open a gate for the North instead of merely pressing Pyongyang with more sanctions, which can only lead to more nuke tests or even a total breakdown in the country," Li Kaisheng said. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

N.Battsereg reports at “Hour of Minister” (Montsame)
2016-03-03
The Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism N.Battsereg MP Thursday reported at the “Hour of Minister” weekly meeting about works of his organization. The Ministry adopted an action plan for implementing national programs on improving waste management and on realizing a green development policy, consolidated data on all surface water sources by 2015, and passed it to the united data on water, he said. In a scope of reducing air pollution, a solution to clean crude coal was tested successfully and has been delivered to 300 families of the city's Khan-Uul district, and a related workshop has been organized, he went on. Area near the Noyon Mountain in Selenge aimag's Mandal soum has been taken under special protection, he added. The Ministry is working out bills on refining the legal landscape for the environmental sector, and plans to submit a proposal to parliament on taking 1.84 million hectares (covering Toson Bumba, Delgerkhaan Mountains and “Tsagaan Deglii” cave) under special protection, he said. Within a related program, 32 thousand hectares of forests will be cleaned, 1,590 thousand hectares will be afforested thanks to money from state and local budgets, the Minister mentioned. In connection with the 11th ASEM Summit, the Ministry is organizing workshops for conference organizers, managers, hotels managers and instructors, he said. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-03-01
The cabinet meeting on March 1 backed a draft amendment to the law on stamp duty. It will be submitted to parliament. - A list of international meetings, forums and measures to be organized in 2016-2018 in Mongolia was approved by the cabinet. - Located in Sukhbaatar district's 7th khoroo (smallest administrative unit in the capital city), a five-storey building, registered under the General Authority of Archive, was transferred to the Marshall Service. - The cabinet backed a draft amendment to the law on natural plants and decided to submit it to parliament. - Head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government S.Bayartsogt highlighted final results of realization of resolutions and governmental decisions by 2015. This report was followed by another one by the Deputy PM Ts.Oyunbaatar about an implementation course of a governmental resolution on approving of a list of projects and measures to be done in 2016 with the state budget money. - A rule of the Regulatory Committee of Energy was reapproved. - The Minister of Finance B.Bolor was authorized to allot money from the governmental reserves for the participation in international forum of geology and mining investors that will run this March 6-9 in Toronto of Canada. Mongolia is supposed to attend a business forum to promote its mining industry and to present its biggest investment projects. - The cabinet approved Mongolia-France intergovernmental agreements on cooperating in the education, culture, sciences and technical spheres, and on implementing a joint scholarship program. - The cabinet backed a Mongolia-Italy intergovernmental agreement on the cooperation in defense sector, and decided to have the PM issue an order on authorizing an official to sign the agreement. - D.Uuriintuya was appointed the head of the Authority of Minerals. - An acting head of the General Agency for Specialized Inspection (GASI) Ts.Sharavdorj was appointed the general inspector of nuclear and radioactive monitoring. ^ top ^

Government repays remaining part of debt to Russia (Montsame)
2016-02-29
Meeting a promise to repay the remaining part of the great debt, the document shows the evidence that the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Mongolia transferred the amount of money, equivalent to 3 million 832 thousand and 515 USD according to today's Central bank rate. “By extinguishing this debt, I believe that many economic opportunities are opening. Please convey my warm gratitude to those who have put their efforts in settling the debt ”, he said. Present were a senior adviser to the Premier B.Delgermaa and an economic adviser at the Russian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar B.B.Dagbain. ^ top ^

Mongolia and China to unite efforts against desertification (Montsame)
2016-02-29
In China with the official visit, Mongolian Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism N.Battsereg has met with colleague, Minister of Environmental Protection Chen Jining. They agreed to cooperate in disposition of chemical waste and in combating the “yellow storms”. Mr Battsereg proposed organizing a consultative meeting between the two Ministries within this year, moreover, it has been agreed to hold an anticipatory meeting in Ulaanbaatar to present the potential cooperation projects. The Mongolian side expressed an interest to attend as an observer the tripartite environment ministerial meeting Japan-China-South Korea, the largest operating mechanism of environmental cooperation in Northeast Asia. Ministers also touched upon the matter on transport and storage of chemical products and waste management. The Mongolian side suggested that China cooerates with us in the disposal of these chemical wastes, in regard to the fact that most of the chemical products used in Mongolia are imported from China. As of 2014, there were over 500 tons of chemical waste stored by Petrochina Dachintamsag LLC and 300 tons--by Zongheutian LLC. Mr Chen Jining expressed a satisfaction with the initiation of the cooperation in environment and with the experience sharing. “The environmental protection is the priority issue for developing countries. As for China, our priority revolves around bio-ecology, specifically, the water issues”, he said. He added that China is ready to cooperate with Mongolia in combating the shared problem of desertification and yellow storms. The sides resolved to launch a 3.9 million CNY worth Monitoring and Evaluation project on Mongolia-China bordering regions' desertification and yellow storms. ^ top ^

FM address opening of reception of UNDP's anniversary (Montsame)
2016-02-26
The Permanent Representative Office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Mongolia Thursday organized a reception on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. Opening remarks were made by the Mongolian FM L.Purevsuren, and by Ms Beate Trankman, the UNDP Resident Representative. The FM said that, for the last 50 years UNDP has been a contributor to global development, and expressed a gratitude to it for the long standing support in Mongolia's achieving social-economic development goals, in particular in strengthening of a good governance, in poverty reduction and in ensuring the environmental sustainability. Purevsuren went on that the Mongolian government will make its cooperation closer with UNDP to successfully implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. ^ top ^

 

Mrs. Laura Scaperrotta
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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