SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  14-18.3.16, No. 614  
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Table of contents

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Switzerland / Mongolia

Dalai Lama's speech in Switzerland 'shows frustration' (China Daily)
2016-03-14
China's top political adviser on ethnic and religious affairs has said he believes the Dalai Lama's recent speech in Geneva was born out of "major frustration" over "increasingly unpopular 'Tibetan Independence' activities". Beijing lodged a strong protest after the Dalai Lama joined other Nobel laureates on Friday at a human rights conference in Switzerland co-sponsored by the United States and Canadian missions. Zhu Weiqun, head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, suggested US support for the event could "deal a new blow to efforts to improve China-US relations". ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China lacks diplomatic talent at global agencies despite its rising international clout (SCMP)
2016-03-18
China needs to expand its pool of diplomatic talent if its growing global clout is to be matched by its presence in international organisations, observers say. China's influence is rising around the world but it still accounts for only a small percentage of staff at international bodies such as the United Nations. Observers say this is partly due to a shortage of Chinese candidates with extensive diplomatic knowledge and experience, despite hundreds of thousands of Chinese studying overseas each year. The central government should take steps to identify and develop a pool of talent, they say. Officials said less than 3 per cent of employees at major international institutions were Chinese. For example, only about 200 of the roughly 10,000 people employed at the World Bank's headquarters and country offices are Chinese, according to a finance ministry source who worked for two years at the lender's Office of the Executive Director for China. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation says it employs about 3,200 people worldwide, but only about 50 are Chinese, according to Niu Dun, China's permanent representative at the agency […]. Niu, a former deputy agriculture minister, said the main problem among Chinese candidates was the lack of professional knowledge. “Even though someone has some diplomatic experience and speaks a foreign language well, it's very difficult if he is incapable of discussing professional problems”. Observers said this was part of the reason why Chinese staff were in entry-level positions at international organisations […].There has been a fourfold increase in the number of Chinese students studying overseas in recent years, dramatically expanding the potential pool of future diplomats and experts to work at international organisations. About 460,000 Chinese students studied abroad in 2014, compared with 114,700 a decade earlier, according to data released by the Ministry of Education. Wang Huiyao, director of the Beijing-based think tank the Centre for China and Globalisation, said the lack of qualified Chinese candidates available to work at international agencies was a serious problem. Wang said one of the big barriers for overseas-trained applicants was passing China's civil service exam. Most Chinese employed at major international bodies are mainland civil servants and the central government hires most of its employees through an annual civil service test and interview. “For overseas returnees, a different knowledge structure makes it hard to pass the test. This should be changed,” Wang said. Wang said the most common way for Chinese people returning to the country to go into government was by first teaching at a university and then impressing the authorities with their academic achievements. “We could have a special test for such people and we should rely more on interviews and other ways in selection,” Wang said. Niu said he was now hiring Chinese students studying in Italy as part-time workers at the UN to cultivate future staff for his office in Rome. “This way these people can deal with agricultural diplomacy while studying at college and when they graduate, if qualified and willing, they can stay for a job here,” he said. ^ top ^

Lancang-Mekong cooperation leaders' meeting to be held in Sanya (Xinhua)
2016-03-17
The first Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) leaders' meeting will be held next week in China's southern city of Sanya, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday. At the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam will attend the meeting on March 23, according to spokesman Lu Kang. The leaders of the six countries will exchange views on promoting the LMC mechanism, strengthening all-round cooperation at the subregional level and advancing regional integration, Lu said. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier meets UNFPA executive director (Xinhua)
2016-03-17
Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong met with Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on Thursday. Liu hailed the long-term practical cooperation between the Chinese government and the UNFPA. She thanked the UNFPA's support to the development of the Chinese population and South-South cooperation. China is willing to enhance cooperation with the UNFPA to achieve the goals relating to health and population in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and increase South-South cooperation in promoting the health of women, children and teenagers as well as the aging population, Liu said. Osotimehin said the UNFPA is ready to work with China in areas like population and family planning and backs China to realize sustainable development and enhance South-South cooperation. ^ top ^

Russian ties strong, but relations with Japan still fragile: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (SCMP)
2016-03-17
China's relations with Russia will not be affected by changes in the international situation or pressure from any third party, Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday. Sino-Japanese relations, however, remained fragile despite signs of improvement, he said. Russia and China have extensively enhanced economic, security and diplomatic ties in recent years as Moscow faces Western sanctions for its unilateral annexation of Crimea. There have been concerns the closer bond could pose a challenge to the Western-led world order. Li told the media after his wrap-up speech following the National People's Congress that China and Russia had a “comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership ” – the highest level in China's diplomatic tier. “The relationship is an all-dimensional one,” he said, adding that President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had met “quite often”. The two leaders met five times last year – the most that Xi met any head of state. Li made the remarks when responding to a Russian journalist's question over whether China's lack of investment in Russia was due to Western countries' sanction and pressure from powers like Washington. “China-Russia relations will not be affected by changes in the international situation, nor will it be pressured by a third party. We will continue to push for the progressive development of China-Russia relations,” Li said. He said ties with Moscow were improving, pointing to China's increased oil imports from Russia, which topped eight million tonnes last year. Although overall trade volume had declined, Li attributed the fall to weaker commodity prices and not any change in relations. “[Due to] the unlucky decline of major commodity prices, our whole export [sector], not only to Russia, was falling,” he said. Trade turnover with Russia fell 27.8 per cent to US$68.07 billion last year, while exports dropped 34.4 per cent. On Sino-Japanese relations, Li said the ties were “not yet solid” and “still fragile,” despite signs of improvement. “We should uphold the consensus in principles on treating historical issues, and demonstrate consistency between words and actions. I don't want to see us retrace our steps again,” he said. Li, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye are to meet this year for a trilateral summit, which was resumed last November after a nearly four-year halt due to tensions among the countries. “As to whether the [trilateral] format will enjoy a smooth development in the future, it's much up to interaction among the three countries,” he said. ^ top ^

Chinese premier calls on US to open markets to China (SCMP)
2016-03-17
Premier Li Keqiang called on the United States to open up its markets to China, saying Beijing would give more access to American investors under a bilateral investment treaty. Addressing the media on Wednesday, Li said the two countries should treat each other in an equal and mutually beneficial way, despite the “sharp differences” on various issues. The underlying direction of US-China ties would not change, irrespective of who won this year's US presidential election, he said. The premier said that with bilateral trade reaching US$560 billion, “the common interests between the two countries far outweigh their differences”. Ties between the US and China have been strained on various fronts over the past few months. US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift warned on Wednesday that if the US lost access to international waters claimed by China in the South China Sea, it would have far-reaching implications, affecting the global economy and international law. Washington has accused Beijing of “militarising” the South China Sea by deploying advanced missiles and fighter jets on islands under China's control. The US has also sent naval vessels near the islands, calling the operations freedom-of-navigation exercises. Six other claimants have territorial claims in the area. The Pentagon plans to base 60 per cent of its naval forces in the Asia-Pacific region and Swift said the US did not expect to ever lose access to the South China Sea. China is also protesting against the US plan to install the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence missile system in South Korea following North Korea's recent nuclear and rocket tests. The US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal signed last month by 12 countries in the ­region – but not China – is also seen as a strategic step in the US “pivot” policy to counter China's growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region. Li said China, with its priority on development, needed a stable neighbourhood and a peaceful international environment, and it would remain a “staunch force” in maintaining global peace. China had no problem with the US' continuous presence in the region because the US had “never left”, Li said. “All countries can work together to improve our cooperation and properly manage differences,” he said. The premier said that as cooperation between China and the US grew, the number of differences could rise butthe role of those differences in the overall China-US relationship would only narrow. He said there were already more than 100 dialogue mechanisms between the two countries to manage differences. “As long as the two sides act in good faith and properly manage their differences, I believe our common interests will further expand,” Li said. ^ top ^

China ramps up offensive against US on human rights record, accusing it of racism and fueling terrorism (SCMP)
2016-03-14
China hit back at the United States over its human rights record on Monday, bringing out government-backed academics to accuse Washington of everything from promoting Islamic State to being a racist plutocracy. China was infuriated last week when the United States and 11 other countries at the United Nations criticised China's crackdown on human rights and its detentions of lawyers and activists. At a press conference arranged by the Cabinet's news department for mostly Chinese reporters, four academics at government-run bodies lambasted the United States for what they said was hypocritical criticism of China and others. Liu Hainian, director of the Human Rights Institution under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, blamed Europe's “refugee wave” on the United States' military involvement in the Middle East which was forcing people to leave their “beautiful homes”. “Think about it: certain extremist groups that now exist, including Islamic State, wasn't it the Americans who first off promoted them from behind?” Liu said. Closer to home, the United States has a terrible problem with racism, with police killing about 1,000 people last year, he added. “Most of those were people of colour,” Liu said. Chang Jian, vice director of the human rights research centre of Tianjin-based Nankai University, said the US electoral system was increasingly controlled by Super PACs, committees well-funded by corporate interests. “There are fewer and fewer opportunities for ordinary people to participate in elections,” he said. Chang made no mention of China's own tightly controlled political system, which has been run by the Communist Party without interruption since the 1949 revolution. Asked about China's record, Chang said he was not there to talk about his own country, but to discuss the United States, although he said China did not shy away from admitting its own problems. He and Liu avoided answering a question about televised broadcasts of confessions by suspects, often those involved in sensitive human rights cases, which have angered the United States and Europe. Liu admitted some websites were “probably” blocked or deleted in China, although said this was done for the sake of protecting the country's young people from pornography, gambling and drugs. “I'm really worried about my grandchildren. I hope they can growth up healthily. This kind of information needs to be removed,” he said. When asked why Chinese media were not allowed to rigorously criticise China's rights record in the same way the US media were able to do in their home country, Liu criticised instead US reporters for their slanted view of China. “Their reports on China are very few and very negative.” ^ top ^

Chinese state councilor meets FBI director (Xinhua)
2016-03-14
Chinese State Councilor Guo Shengkun met with Director of U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey on Monday, pledging to strengthen law enforcement cooperation.
Guo, who is also public security minister,called on the two sides to fully implement the consensus reached by the leaders of two countries, enhance strategic mutual trust and respect each other's core interests to promote building a new model of major-country relationship. The two sides agreed to have more pragmatic cooperation in cyber security and anti-terrorism. ^ top ^

China floats plans for international maritime legal centre (SCMP)
2016-03-14
China will set up an “international maritime judicial centre” as it seeks to project its power at sea and territorial tensions rise with its neighbours. The move was expected to improve Beijing's expertise in legal issues and raise its profile in international arbitration, observers said. Delivering a work report at the National People's Congress on Sunday, Supreme People's Court chief Zhou Qiang said China would improve the work of its maritime courts. Courts across China should work to implement the goal of building the nation into a “maritime power” and the “One Belt, One Road” strategy, he said. “To resolutely defend national sovereignty, maritime rights and interests, and other core interests, we will strengthen our capacity in maritime cases and establish an international maritime judicial centre,” he said. Zhou gave no details about the centre but his report comes as China locks horns with Japan and Southeast Asian neighbours over claims in the East and South China seas. The Philippines has filed a case with an arbitration court in The Hague over the disputes in the South China Sea, and a ruling is expected in May. Beijing has refused to take part in the legal proceedings but the case has prompted calls for China to improve its approach to international law. Experts said the new maritime judicial centre would mainly handle economic cases, rather than public international law, which is at the core of the Philippines' case in The Hague. Maritime lawyer Wang Jing said a Chinese maritime court could arbitrate if, for example, two fishermen – irrespective of their nationality – were involved in a dispute in Chinese-controlled waters in the South China Sea. In his report, Zhou said the Xiamen maritime court's successful mediation in 2014 of a case involving a collision between a Chinese trawler and a Panama-flagged cargo ship near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea demonstrated China's jurisdiction over the region. Japan calls the islands the Senkakus and also claims sovereignty over the area. Zhou said Chinese maritime courts handled 16,000 cases last year. Wang said local maritime courts had handled more cases in recent years because their scope had expanded to cover development of ocean resources, tidal flats and land within a certain range of the shore. But many of these courts were not equipped to handle international cases. A higher level maritime centre would be better able to handle cases with foreign parties, he said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China vows frontier boom (Global Times)
2016-03-18
A new five-year national socioeconomic development plan released Thursday says China vows to further develop and open up its borders, including the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. As an important part of the country's new Silk Road strategic initiative, opening up trade routes linking Central Asia and Southeast Asia will not only improve life and stability in China's less developed border areas, but would also promote regional stability, experts said. The 80-chapter 13th Five Year Plan, passed by the National People's Congress on Wednesday, includes the country's blueprint for the economy, national defense, social security, environmental protection and many other key sectors. One chapter is devoted to the development of ethnic, border and less developed areas. Building infrastructure and the key channels linking to other countries is listed as a major task. The 13th Five-Year Plan outlines ambitions to build Xinjiang as an important gateway to the west, Tibet as the channel to South Asia, Yunnan Province as the channel to Southeast Asia and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region as an international passage to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Tian Yun, director of the China Society of Macroeconomics research center, told the Global Times on Thursday that the 13th Five-Year-Plan attaches greater importance to border areas for it is in line with the needs of the country's Belt and Road initiative. Many places along the borders are transportation junctions and could become platforms to promote "Made in China" to neighboring countries, Tian said. The 13th Five-Year Plan states that China will continue to promote the Belt and Road Initiative by building the China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Central Asia-West Asia, China-Indochina Peninsula, China-Pakistan and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridors, as well as the new Eurasian Land Bridge. The plan listed Xinjiang as a key region for the Belt and Road initiative. Xu Fenglin, deputy director of the administrative committee of the Kashgar's Special Economic Zone, told the Global Times that Kashgar is close to a growing market in Central Asia and will seize the opportunity to develop local economies. "Central Asian countries need funding to develop their infrastructure and industries, and border cities like Kashgar could become platforms for Chinese enterprises to transfer excess production," said Xu. Aside from Xinjiang, Yunnan and Guangxi also play an important role in China's cooperation with Southeast Asia countries, said Tian. "The Maritime Silk Road needs strong cooperation with Asian countries, and since China is calling for building the building of a community of common destiny among Asian countries, it needs to contribute to regional development," Tian said. At a speech before the Boao Forum for Asia Conference 2015 in March 2015, President Xi Jinping said, "Asia is moving toward a community of common destiny and embraces a new future," and Asian countries need to seek a win-win cooperation and common development. […] ^ top ^

China rebuffs Japan-East Timor concern over South China Sea (Xinhua)
2016-03-17
China rebuffed a joint press release by Japan and East Timor that voiced concern over the South China Sea in Beijing on Thursday. "Japan is not eligible to make comments on the South China Sea issue. However, it actively misled the public and smeared China in the international community recently, regardless of basic facts. I want to tell the Japanese side that doing so will be vain. It will only make the Chinese people see clearly some Japanese people's mentality," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang at a regular press briefing. Reports said Japan and East Timor expressed "serious concern over the recent situation in the South China Sea" in a joint press release issued after the meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and East Timorese President Taur Matan Ruak in Tokyo on Tuesday. The two sides also mentioned a South China Sea arbitration filed by the Philippines. "We also hope relevant countries can distinguish right from wrong and be cautious with its words and deeds, not to be taken advantage of by some malicious country for the sake of its own interest," Lu added. The spokesperson also reiterated China's rejection and non-acceptance to the Philippines' arbitration. "We will not accept any unilateral resort to a third-party dispute settlement," he noted. The Philippines, disregarded the agreement already reached with China on solving the South China Sea disputes through bilateral negotiation and consultation, violated the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and misused the arbitration procedure stipulated by UNCLOS. Its so-called unilateral arbitration is illegal and invalid, which has no binding effect on China whatever the result, Lu added. He stressed that the Chinese government always stands for negotiation and consultation to solve territorial disputes and maritime jurisdiction dispute with its neighboring countries. ^ top ^

September start date set for China's first charity law (SCMP)
2016-03-17
The mainland's first charity law was approved by the national ­legislature on Wednesday and is due to come into effect in September. The legislation approved by the National People's Congress lays out details on registration, fundraising and government oversight of charitable groups. It promises tax benefits for charitable activities and tightens scrutiny of such groups' internal management. The regulatory framework is expected to boost public confidence in the sector after a series of scandals. It is also expected to increase donations to needy causes. Despite having the world's second-largest economy, China ranked 144 among 145 countries for charitable behaviour in a survey by non-government organisation Charities Aid Foundation. The legislation retains a controversial ban on donation appeals by individuals. The NPC's legal committee had said such ­appeals were seen as personal ­requests for help rather than ­charity. Instead, individuals can work with registered charities to solicit public donations. Any money or goods contributed must also be managed by the charities, according to the new rules. The legislation sets a cap on annual management fees for charities at no more than 10 per cent of an organisation's income for that year, a clause that was opposed by many experts and non-govermental organisations. In an effort to embrace the internet age, the law stipulates that charities making online ­appeals should do so through their own sites or those designated by civil affairs authorities. Charities that rely on public donations should each year spend the equivalent of at least 70 per cent of the previous year's income or 70 per cent of the average over the previous three years. Donors are also allowed to renege on a donation if their financial status “seriously worsens”. The new law also designates September 5 as Charity Day in China. ^ top ^

China to make gov't affairs more transparent: premier (Xinhua)
2016-03-16
The Chinese government will increase openness of its affairs and respond to public concerns by various means including the Internet and cloud computing, Premier Li Keqiang said Wednesday. "Any information (of government affairs) that can be made public should be released... Openness shall be a standard of practice while the lack of it an exception," Li told a press conference after the conclusion of China's annual parliamentary session. More information needs to be made public if it concerns the issues that involve public interests and balance sheets of public finance, he said. "We should make the government information as easily accessible to our people as one click away." He also promised that the government will upload as much information as possible to the Internet, saying cloud computing technologies would be adopted to supervise how power is used. The government should also make timely response to public concerns, he said. If the people have questions or doubts about certain policies, the government has the duty to make explanations and even revise the policies by drawing reasonable suggestions from the public, he said. Ministers in the State Council, or the cabinet, were asked to be more proactive to talk to the press during the just concluded "two sessions" and answer questions straightforward instead of waving hands and taking a quick leave, he said. "We will continue to welcome the supervision from the public including the media," he said. ^ top ^

In brief: Premier Li Keqiang on China's growth target, US elections, and the future for Hong Kong and Taiwan (SCMP)
2016-03-16
Hong Kong: “I have confidence in a bright future for Hong Kong.” Asked “what's wrong with Hong Kong”, China's Premier Li Keqiang did not touch on the 2017 chief executive election or the Mong Kok riot earlier in January. Hong Kong had to put in its own efforts to develop, Li said. It could also take advantage of mainland China's economic development, he added. “The central government will give full support to any proposals from the SAR government that help maintain Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability and contribute to the well-being of the people of Hong Kong. I have confidence in a bright future for Hong Kong,” he said. “Hong Kong's economic growth of 2.4 per cent last year was not low.”
China's economy: “It's impossible for me to [agree] that China is unable to meet the decided target.” Li said China's pro-growth measures so far, including cuts in interest rates, should not be labelled as quantitative easing. The country's growth was on track, he said. “It's impossible for me to side with you [and agree] that China is unable to meet the decided target,” Li said, when asked if China might fail to meet the growth target. “China's economy will still face small and short-term swings, but if growth falls out a reasonable range, we have innovative macro tools to maintain stability of growth.” While the world's second-largest economy was presently facing difficulties, hopes for it were bigger than those difficulties, the premier said. China had the policy reserves to handle headwinds from the global economic slowdown. “As long as we stick to reform and opening up, China's economy will not see a hard landing,” he said.
Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connect: “We... will try to launch the Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connect programme this year.” Li said: “We are in close communication with the Hong Kong government and will try to launch the Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connect programme this year. Currently, the relevant authorities in mainland China and Hong Kong are in intensive consultation.” The premier added that the stock connect would benefit both parties. Fang Xinghai, a vice-chairman with the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said the link was expected to be launched in the second half of the year. Li also said China would continue to build up a multi-layered capital market, although he did not touch on the strategic emerging board. […]
US election: “No matter who gets into the White House, the underlying trend [of stable Sino-US ties] will not change.” In a polite response to certain China-bashing comments from the United States' presidential candidates, Li said the result of polls would not affect Sino-US relations. “The US election is lively and has caught the attention of many. No matter who gets into the White House, the underlying trend will not change,” he said. “China-US relations have always been moving forward. I believe that is the underlying trend.” Sino-US trade ties had always been “win-win” for both countries, the premier said. “American businessmen know it very clearly in their hearts.” […]
Taiwan: “I remain optimistic about the prospect of cross-strait relations; blood ties cannot be severed.” On Beijing's relations with Taiwan after the Democratic Progressive Party's Tsai Ing-wen won the election late last year, Li said anything could be discussed as long as both sides adhered to the principle of “One China”. “As long as Taiwan adheres to the foundation of the 1992 Consensus and recognises that Taiwan and the mainland belong to the same China, anything can be discussed,” Li said. “I remain optimistic about the prospect of cross-strait relations; blood ties cannot be severed.” Li added that the government had issued a document guaranteeing that preferential policies given to Taiwanese businessmen on mainland China would be maintained. Beijing would introduce more such policies, but the precondition was the Taiwan government had to recognise the “one China” principle and that Taiwan was an inalienable part of China. ^ top ^

Chinese lawmakers approve five-year plan (Xinhua)
2016-03-16
Chinese lawmakers on Wednesday approved the country's economic and social development blueprint for the 2016-2020 period, which sets targeted average annual economic growth of above 6.5 percent in the next five years. ^ top ^

Nine documents to be voted at China's parliamentary session (Xinhua)
2016-03-15
The presidium of the fourth session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), China's national legislature, decided to put nine documents for the vote at the session's closing meeting on Wednesday. Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee and one of the executive chairpersons of the presidium, presided over the third and fourth meetings of the presidium on Tuesday.
Following are the nine documents:
- draft resolution on the government work report;
- draft resolution on the 13th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development (2016-2020);
- draft resolution on the annual national economic and social development plan;
- draft resolution on the government budget;
- draft resolution on the work report of the NPC Standing Committee;
- draft resolution on the work report of the Supreme People's Court;
- draft resolution on the work report of the Supreme People's Procuratorate;
- draft law on charity;
- draft decision on the resignation of an NPC Standing Committee member.
At its third meeting on Tuesday morning, the presidium also approved a report on the motions raised by NPC deputies during the annual session this year. By March 11, nearly 3,000 deputies had raised 462 motions, 442 of which were about legislation, said Xin Chunying, deputy secretary-general of the session, when explaining the report to the presidium. ^ top ^

China eyes progress on public scientific literacy (Xinhua)
2016-03-14
China's State Council, the cabinet, has issued an action plan to improve its citizens' scientific literacy over the 13th five-year-plan period (2016-2020). "Citizens' scientific quality is the foundation on which to build the strategy of innovation-driven development," said the plan publicized Monday. The plan said efforts shall be supported by government and revolve around the theme of conserving energy and resources, protecting the ecological environment, safeguarding safety and health, and promoting innovation. The plan will focus on scientific education and spread of scientific knowledge. It mentioned the urgency of building a comprehensive infrastructure and evaluation system on public scientific literacy. The plan strives to spread knowledge of high and new technologies, green development and healthy living style among the public, particularly teenagers, farmers, urban workers, officials and civil servants. The overall aim is to increase the population's scientific literacy from 6.2 percent in 2015 to above 10 percent in 2020. ^ top ^

Beijing pledges to get tough on state security, raising fears activists and NGOs may suffer (SCMP)
2016-03-14
Beijing has made “cracking down on infiltration and subversion by hostile forces” one of its key priorities after a year that saw convictions for state security offences double, according the nation's top prosecutor's office. In a move that raises concerns that the crackdown on activists and non-governmental organisations will intensify, chief prosecutor Cao Jianming highlighted the fight against terrorism, separatism and extreme religious activities in the Supreme People's Procuratorate's annual report. The procuratorate, as the prosecutors' office is called, would “firmly crack down on attempts by hostile forces to infiltrate and damage the country”, Cao said in the report to the National People's Congress on Sunday. Other priorities included organised crime and extreme violence by individuals, Cao said. In a separate report, Zhou Qiang, the chief of the Supreme People's Court, said the nation's courts would strictly enforce laws on state security and counterterrorism. China last year convicted 1,419 people for threatening state security and taking part in terrorism, Zhou said, almost double the 712 convictions in 2014. The courts also stepped up efforts against criminals who instigated secessionist activities, were involved in terrorist groups or who distributed video and other media about terrorism, he said. Beijing-based lawyer Li Fangping said Cao's stress on hostile forces in his report could signal a greater crackdown on dissidents and rights lawyers regarded by authorities as threats. “Subversive forces is not a legal term,” Li said. “It used to exist only in party documents. [The crackdown] has become more official and thus more intimidating.” Last year saw mass detentions of campaigners and rights lawyers, including Wang Yu. State media reported in January that Swedish NGO worker Peter Dahlin had set up a Hong Kong-registered non-profit organisation with mainland rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang to carry out ­activities that “endanger state security” and to help Wang Yu's teenage son flee abroad. State media said police and other state security bodies “smashed” the “illegal group” and accused it of receiving overseas funding to train and fund “many agents” to carry out “criminal activities that harmed state security”. It did not state which laws they allegedly broke. Cao said prosecutors had spearheaded efforts to prosecute suspects involved in terrorist attacks, and had asked prosecutors in Xinjiang and Tibet to handle security issues. Violence in Xinjiang has claimed hundreds of lives in recent years. Beijing blames the violence on Uygur separatists, but rights groups say the attacks stem from Beijing's repressive policies towards the Turkic-speaking Muslim minority. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Capital investing record sum in major projects (China Daily)
2016-03-16
Beijing will invest a record 262.6 billion yuan ($40.3 billion) in 210 major projects this year, a city official said on Wednesday. Xu Xi, deputy secretary-general of the Beijing Municipal Government, said overall investment in the projects, 95 of which are new, stood at 1.2 trillion yuan. According to the plan, 49 percent of the construction of the new international airport in Daxing district and 12 percent of the high-speed railway connecting Beijing and Zhangjiakou, the two host cities of the 2022 Winter Olympics, will be finished by the end of this year. In addition, nearly 60 percent of projects related to the Beijing municipal administrative center in the city's eastern suburb Tongzhou district will also be completed within nine months. The municipal government will move to the new administrative center at the end of 2017. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet offers nursing home for rural elderly, orphans (China Daily)
2016-03-16
Tsangzhoen cannot believe her luck -- her new home has an elevator, under-floor heating, recreational facilities and, should she need them, there are doctors on-call. With no relatives to take care of her, Tsangzhoen, 69, along with around 300 other retirees from rural southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, were offered rooms in a nursing home community in the regional capital of Lhasa. "I don't have to cook for myself anymore. In the past, especially in winter, I would have to drag my sore body to the cooker just to eat. Now I have doctors to turn to whenever necessary," she explained. Her new home is part of a collective accommodation project launched for orphans and the elderly who have no relatives to take care of. The residents of this home are originally from underdeveloped, rural areas in Tibet. The property, covering an area of six hectares, opened in September 2015. Over the past three years, the regional government has spent nearly 3 billion yuan (461 million U.S. dollars) on 80 new nursing homes for the elderly and 10 orphanages. As of March, more than 11,000 retirees and 5,600 orphans had accepted places at these homes. Residents of this community do not pay any rent. Dorje Tsedrub, vice chair of the regional government, said the project was one of the region's poverty alleviation measures. "The elderly and orphans have enjoyed better living conditions, medical care and education after being provided accommodation at nursing homes and orphanages in towns and cities," he said. Many of the new orphanages, such as one in Shannan Prefecture, accept children from outside the catchment area. Shannan orphanage has nearly 170 homeless children from Nagqu Prefecture where the altitude is high and life is hard. Soinam Rigzin, head of civil affairs bureau of Shannan Prefecture, said all the orphans would be given places at a school nearby. "We eat so well every day, and the teachers are so nice. We don't want to go back," said Tseri, 10, from Bachen County in Nagqu Prefecture. Lawang, chef of the orphanage, said the children were fed a varied, nutritious diet. Having lived in an orphanage himself, Lawang, 27, was keen to give something back, so after graduating from vocational school he pursued a career in care. Dainzin Ngoizhub, an official in charge of social welfare with the regional civil affairs department, said an orphanage in Lhasa had nearly 300 residents that were from Nagqu or Qamdo prefectures, adding that the resettlement had improved their lives. "Everything is fantastic here. I will study hard and do something in return for society," said Gyamatso, 12, from Nagqu who now lives in the orphanage in Lhasa. ^ top ^

Fight against HIV/AIDS in rural Tibetan regions met with mistrust, language barriers (Global Times)
2016-03-15
“Many Tibetans, especially those who cannot speak Putonghua and live in remote areas, do not know what AIDS is, nor do they realize how dangerous it is," Chupal Sangpo, deputy director of a Sichuan-based NGO that is dedicated to helping Tibetans respond to HIV/AIDS, told the Global Times Thursday. For the past eight years, Chupal Sangpo, together with some 300 volunteers, has been disseminating knowledge about HIV/AIDS in the country's major Tibetan regions in Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and the Tibet Autonomous Region. During their work, they say they have found that the number of Tibetans who are HIV-positive has increased year by year. Despite the fact that the local governments have spared no effort on HIV/AIDS education, there are still many Tibetans who have no knowledge of HIV/AIDS and rumors and misinformation are rampant. Volunteers said that this situation has mainly been caused by the language barrier between local officials and Tibetans in rural areas and call for the government to support to their work. […] According to Chupal Sangpo, previously, in some places, when local disease control and prevention centers diagnosed locals as being HIV-positive they failed to explain what that meant, so some local Tibetans believed that HIV is not serious. Although local governments in Tibetan areas have tried to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS, they have often been ineffective as their materials have usually been written in Chinese, rather than in the Tibetan language. […] According to Chupal Sangpo, most HIV-positive Tibetans contract the virus through sex and it has a close relationship with their lifestyle and traditional culture. "Tibetans, especially those living in pasture areas, are open toward sex. However, they are shy to talk about it, and feel embarrassed to get free condoms from the local disease control and prevention centers," said Chupal Sangpo. He said that previously local residents misunderstood the country's family planning policy and refused to use condoms. After some cases of people contracting HIV were revealed, they began to realize the importance of condoms. However, it is very hard for them to buy reliable condoms in remote Tibetan areas as some of the condoms sold are fake or out of date. Moreover, it is also difficult for them to get anti-retroviral drugs in their rural hometowns, even outdated pills which are no longer used in more developed regions. […]To better spread knowledge about HIV/AIDS, Chupal Sangpo and his volunteers have opened a WeChat account and it has garnered over 140,000 followers so far. However, their work ran into objections from the local government. "As we disseminate all the knowledge in Tibetan language, local authorities worried that we may spread illegal information," said Chupal Sangpo. According to the latest reports, the authorities in Aba organized departments at all levels to conduct education activities in December 2015. For example, Zoige county distributed 180 boxes of condoms, 2,400 pieces of literature to the local residents. In April 2015, the Aba authorities monitored sex workers in five counties and helped 69 high-risk people. Separately, health officials in Lhasa recently announced that an HIV diagnosis laboratory will begin operating in 2016. Testing locations will extend coverage to all the city's counties and districts, and a network of HIV testing labs will be strengthened, Phentok, a Lhasa health official, added. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Religious extremism remarkably curbed in Xinjiang: political advisor (Xinhua)
2016-03-14
Xinjiang has made progress in curbing religious extremism with a series of new measures since the second central work conference on Xinjiang in May 2014, a political advisor from the northwest China's region has said. The religious extremism has weakened remarkably in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Nurlan Abdumankin, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said Saturday. Ethnic unity and religious harmony have been significantly promoted in the region, he said at the ongoing annual session of the national political advisory body. The central government should further strengthen coordination between Xinjiang and inland provinces in cracking down on extremism and illegal religious activities, suggested Nurlan Abdumankin, also chairman of the Xinjiang regional political advisory body. He called for cooperation in curbing extremism between China and neighboring countries through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which was founded in 2001 and now has six member states: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. ^ top ^

Support pledged for Xinjiang (China Daily)
2016-03-14
The central government has vowed to give more support to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, as infrastructure construction there plays a vital role in national security and local development. Premier Li Keqiang reaffirmed the additional support on Thursday during a meeting with deputies from Xinjiang to the annual session of the National People's Congress. More policy support from the central government for infrastructure construction work in Xinjiang was the most commonly raised request by deputies during the two-hour, closed-door meeting with the premier. Such requests included more support for building railways connecting southern Xinjiang to more regions around the country, building more electricity programs, and setting up a special fund to support Xinjiang in new types of enterprise. Wu Gang, head of the New Energy Group of Xinjiang, said the region needs more funds from the central government as most State-owned enterprises there are short of capital and need more funding to support the nurturing of small environmentally friendly enterprises. Such companies have been called for during China's economic transition. Xinjiang achieved annual GDP growth of 8.8 percent last year, compared with the national figure of 6.9 percent. It is aiming for 7 percent growth this year. The service sector still comprises less than half of the local economy, while 50.5 percent of national GDP growth was contributed by the sector last year. The premier praised Xinjiang's stable economic performance last year. He said that as the region has long relied on heavy industries and resources that rely on industries, such as oil-related ones, it is "quite something" that the region can maintain stable growth while the country is undergoing an economic transition. He promised that more policy support will be given to Xinjiang in the next five years to maintain a good transportation system, water conservation projects and electricity programs, as regional development has high significance in maintaining national security. While placing a heavy emphasis on infrastructure building, Li stressed that maintaining a stable, safe and harmonious society is the premise for economic development in Xinjiang-China's largest provincial-level region by land area and the most ethnically diversified. Xinjiang is home to 47 ethnic groups and more than 23 million people from such groups. Gulnur Memet, a Xinjiang deputy who joined Thursday's discussion with the premier, met him six years ago when Li last visited the region in 2010. As a teacher, she said she feels that support from the central government is vital to many key sectors in Xinjiang. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong can't go it alone, says Li Ka-shing (SCMP)
2016-03-18
Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing, said the idea of independence from the mainland was far-fetched and the conditions do not exist for the city to go it alone. Speaking to media after his two flagship companies, CK Hutchison and Cheung Kong Property, announced earnings, Li said he did not think most Hong Kong people would support the idea of independence. “I personally, like most Hong Kong people, do not like the idea of independence from the mainland. The idea of independence appears quite far-fetched from reality.” Li had faced the wrath of state media late last year after he sold assets on the mainland, with published commentaries accusing him of abandoning the country, while many unfavourable comments also appeared on social media. His latest remarks came a day after a senior legal official from Beijing had dismissed calls from some in Hong Kong to turn the city into an independent sovereign state in 2047, when the Sino-British Joint Declaration expires. Qiao Xiaoyang, head of the National People's Congress Law Committee and a former Basic Law Committee chairman, said on Wednesday Hong Kong did not have the conditions to ­become independent. Li also highlighted the importance of the relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland. “If Hong Kong did not have China's support, I believe the Hang Seng Index would have dropped at least 50 per cent from the current level, “ Li said. “I believe the central government always wants Hong Kong to do well,” he said. Speaking on the rise of localism, Li said: “Hong Kong has been a part of China since ancient times. If you are a young person, your future wife may be from ­Inner Mongolia or northeast China. Nowadays there is not really much local identity anymore. One country is one country. “Premier Li Keqiang has repeated 'One Country, Two Systems' [during the two sessions]. He did not have to repeatedly say that if they wanted to make a change.” Asked about Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's performance, Li said : “He has tried very hard.” Li also warned Hong Kong's politicians not to harm the city's future. “No matter what political parties you belong to, what political views you have, do not do anything that will harm Hong Kong further,” he said, adding that Hong Kong in some aspects was already behind other countries. ^ top ^

Hong Kong independence 'impossible', says Beijing legal official (SCMP)
2016-03-17
A senior legal official from Beijing has completely dismissed escalating calls from some Hongkongers to turn the Chinese territory into an independent sovereign state in 2047. “It's impossible,” Qiao Xiaoyang, head of the National People's Congress Law Committee, said of the suggestion. “How would it be possible?” Qiao, a former Basic Law Committee chairman, was speaking on the sidelines of the “two sessions” in the capital. The comments came after an article in the latest issue of the University of Hong Kong student magazine Undergrad proposed that Hong Kong become a sovereign state recognised by the UN in 2047. The article argued for the city's independence on the expiry of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which stipulates that Hong Kong should remain unchanged for 50 years after the 1997 handover. “Even though Hong Kong doesn't have the conditions to become independent yet... whether independence is viable or not is not our main concern,” it read. “The main point is whether Hong Kong should become independent.” On Wednesday, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung also poured cold water on the students' suggestion, thought he did add that it was “a good thing to discuss Hong Kong's future development”. “I can't see why 'one country, two systems' needs any changes,” Yuen, an HKU law graduate, said. “The [students] seem to be exploring directions to achieve democracy. “If so, I would suggest … improving along the line of 'one country, two systems'.” Such an approach, he added, would be “more pragmatic” and a “possible” way to turn Hong Kong democratic. Commenting on the subject, executive councillor Bernard Chan offered another legal point. “While the Basic Law does not state whether 'two systems' should be kept in 2047, it does state clearly 'one country' lasts forever,” he said. “The central government would definitely not allow other options.” Chan said trust had to be built with those young people hostile to Beijing, adding: “Students need to better understand the Basic Law.” While he addressed the Undergrad article's proposal a day earlier, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying did not talk about engaging the students, but stressed it was “common sense” that Hong Kong would continue to be a part of China after 2047, as it had always been “since ancient times”. The future of Hong Kong beyond 2047 has become a topic of debate with the rise of anti-mainland sentiment among the city's youth, who say Hong Kong's autonomy has gradually been eroded in the face of China's ever-strengthening political influence. Separately in Hong Kong, the Civic Party also announced its 10th anniversary manifesto, which placed significant emphasis on being “local, autonomous and pluralistic”. The manifesto said the party used to believe dialogue with Beijing would help, but was now disappointed by the implementation of “one country, two systems” that had “begun to go out of shape”, thanks to the “invincible hand of the Chinese authorities”. “Today, as we face the precarious future of this place we call home, we are left with no choice but to stand firmly by our fellow citizens in their struggle to rethink the possibilities of this city,” the manifesto read. It added that the party would take part in civil disobedience if necessary. Reiterating his stance against independence, party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit would not however rule out options being floated by others as he said his party believed in the importance of diversity. ^ top ^

Several young Hong Kong radicals likely to get elected to Legislative Council, says Beijing official (SCMP)
2016-03-15
A top Beijing official in charge of Hong Kong affairs is fully ­prepared to accept the reality of several young radicals winning Legislative Council seats in the September election, but expects them to mature politically over time. Feng Wei, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing, said the central government was also analysing the reasons for the rise of radicalism and the tendency of protesters to resort to violent means to achieve their ends. Instead of a hardline stance that Hong Kong observers feared mainland officials would take, Feng adopted a pragmatic tone throughout an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post. It marked the first interview given to Hong Kong media by a top official in the central government agency handling the city's affairs since the early 1990s. Feng observed that Hong Kong's political arena was witnessing generational change and he expected many young people to appear on the political scene after the Legco election. “We will spot many new faces on TV screens. It will be normal that several radical young people will be returned as lawmakers [in September],” the official said. “Politics is the process of putting theories into practice. Young people participating in politics, including radicals, will gradually mature.” In the Legco by-election last month, localist candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei took many by surprise when he clinched more than 66,000 votes. He came third in the race. Leung has said Hong Kong ­independence is “one of the ­options” for the city, remarks that were made after the Mong Kok riot which his group allegedly had a part in instigating. Feng's overture to radical young activists in Hong Kong is in line with Beijing's more nuanced and softly-softly approach ­towards the city during the “two sessions” of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in the capital over the past week. Instead of only ­denouncing the violence, they ­focused on ­other aspects of city ­governance. Zhang Dejiang, the National People's Congress chairman who oversees Hong Kong ­affairs, told the city's CPPCC deputies two weeks ago that the “one country, two systems” principle would remain unchanged, though he urged the city to safeguard the rule of law. Feng said the central government was “very concerned” about the rise of radicalism and was analysing the reasons behind the ­phenomenon. He said the tendency of resorting to violence was notable in the Mong Kok riot. “Perhaps in a certain period in future, this is a phenomenon which will merit increasingly more of our attention, though this is something we do not want to see,” he said. ^ top ^

Next Hong Kong leader must engage public more, says top Beijing adviser (SCMP)
2016-03-14
CPPCC delegate Anthony Wu says the top-down approach will not work and that the chief executive elected in 2017 must be prepared to talk to people. The person elected to lead Hong Kong next year should be capable of engaging the public more vigorously than the current administration has done, says a local delegate to the inner core of China's top advisory body. He or she should also seek to understand Hong Kong people “from Hong Kong's perspective”, said Anthony Wu Ting-yuk, a Standing Committee member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. In an exclusive interview with the Post, Wu – a supporter of former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, who lost to Leung Chun-ying in the 2012 poll – said the past few years had seen “less than enough” public engagement from the government. READ MORE: Finger points to a second term as Hong Kong CE for Leung Chun-ying Citing the Occupy protests, he recalled visiting camps more than times to talk to protesters face to face – a contrast to most officials who had refrained from such appearances. “The Occupy protest was right downstairs from my office. There was so much inconvenience,” Wu said. “But I did meet the students and doctors in the area, more than 10 times. I understand how they feel and what they think.”A leader should be prepared to talk to the public, said Wu, who when chairman of the Hospital Authority would meet doctors whenever they had a grievance in order to reach a consensus.There has been much media speculation on whether Beijing has in any way signalled whether it backs Leung for a second term next year. Vincent Lo Hong-sui, a CPPCC delegate, has shown support for the chief executive in a television interview while others have adopted a wait-and-see approach.Wu – who is an adviser on medical reforms for mainland China and also a former chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce – stopped short of commenting on Leung's expected re-election bid. He would only say the coming years would be so challenging that a leader with certain qualities would be desirable. “He or she should achieve smooth administration and social harmony, with the ability to see what Hong Kong needs and understand what Hong Kong people want from Hong Kong's perspective,” Wu said. “Engaging with the public is crucial. A top-down approach is impossible,” he said. “Even Premier Li Keqiang asked officials to hear the people's voice.” On the September polls of the Legislative Council, Wu said the new batch of lawmakers who would replace retiring ones should have a clearer vision of Hong Kong's future. “The need to improve the economy is imminent,” he said. “It is time for lawmakers, regardless of their political affiliation, to focus on what is in the long-term interest of the city we call home.” ^ top ^

Beijing should consult with Hong Kong on pulling out of UN torture convention, ex-security chief says (SCMP)
2016-03-14
A former Hong Kong security chief has sparked controversy by suggesting Beijing consult with the SAR on pulling the city out of a UN convention under which it is obliged to offer protection for foreigners who claim they would be tortured if they returned home. Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, a delegate to the National People's Congress, has floated the idea with the central government after calls from pro-establishment politicians to curb what they see as an abuse of the city's asylum application system. Lee, who was secretary for security between 2003 and 2012, said he expected a reply from the NPC Standing Committee within three months. But whether the move that even Lee himself admitted could hurt the city's image would be effective has been called into question. Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, another ex-security chief, noted that dissociation from one legal document would not mean Hong Kong could get out of obligations to protect tortured people as there were other common law principles that allowed claimants to avoid immediate deportation. Rights advocates lambasted Lee's suggestion as short-sighted and as a disregard for human rights that risked hurting the city's international reputation. “Hong Kong's torture claim mechanism has been abused and is causing a burden on its security and finance,” Lee told journalists in Beijing. “The central government should consult with Hong Kong on whether to quit the Convention Against Torture [and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment].” He said many claimants “know how to procrastinate” to stay in the city to claim about HK$3,000 in monthly subsidies. “An increasing number of claimants have participated in criminal activities,” he said, noting that “less than 1 per cent” subsequently qualified for a claim. The current system of screening asylum seekers started in March 2014, with a backlog of 10,922 cases. Some 5,400 people have been screened so far. In January, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Hong Kong would, “if needed”, unilaterally withdraw from the convention signed by 158 of 193 UN member states. He pledged a review of the system dealing with claims for refugee status and asylum. Ip – who was Lee's predecessor – said what Hong Kong should be doing was asking the Foreign Ministry to speak to countries where most of the asylum seekers were coming from in order to plug the flow at the source. Even if the convention which Hong Kong ratified before the 1997 handover ceased to apply, Ip, an executive and legislative councillor, said Hong Kong's Basic Law and two other international treaties would continue to oblige Hong Kong to process torture claims. “The procedural hurdles under the common law system cannot be overcome,” she said. Law Yuk-kai of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor questioned Lee's knowledge of the issue, saying many of the current problems – including the long waiting time for the screening process – stemmed from the flawed system set up during Lee's term as security chief. “That screening mechanism was in the end overturned by the top court,” he said. “If blame should be placed, it should be on his bureau.” ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macao looks to open reform for mainland cooperation (China Daily)
2016-03-14
The 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) has provided a golden opportunity for Macao's sustainable development but also a way for solving problems and exploring new development models, said a political advisor on Saturday. Macao legislative councilor Chui Sai-cheong said the 13th Five-Year Plan supports Macao to build itself as a world center for tourism and leisure as well as a service platform for Chinese and Portuguese-speaking countries' business cooperation. “Building Macao towards a world center for tourism and leisure has been listed as the major task by the government for years,” said Chui. “Every year, around 30 million tourists visit Macao and about two-thirds of them are from mainland.” To promote the tourism cooperation of Macao and the mainland, Chui suggested giving multiple entry permits to mainland tourists travelling between Macao and Hengqin, a coastal island tucked into the southern corner of Zhuhai city in Guangdong province. Chui also suggested allowing Macao's buses to Hengqin for picking up or sending off tourists. Besides tourism, Chui said Macao could play a better role on deepening business cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, and the Belt and Road Initiative. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Low turnout at anti-nuclear rally as Taiwan banks on new leader Tsai Ing-wen's vow to abolish atomic energy use by 2025 (SCMP)
2016-03-14
An annual anti-nuclear rally in Taiwan on Saturday saw a much lower turnout than previous years as president-elect Tsai Ing-wen vowed to abolish the use of atomic energy on the island by 2025. Hundreds of people gathered outside Taipei's Presidential Palace in the rain, many wearing yellow ribbons and stickers bearing the slogans “Say goodbye to nuclear” and “Nuclear go zero”. But the crowd was noticeably smaller than the thousands who joined last year's protest. Organisers chalked up the demonstration's small showing to the Democratic Progressive Party's victory at the polls in January. The DPP has promised, along with a slew of new political parties set to enter parliament, to phase out the use of nuclear energy. “Whether it's the DPP or the New Power Party, those that agree with creating a nuclear-free home have become the majority [in parliament],” Shu-Hsin Tsui, secretary general of Green Citizens' Action Alliance, said. Tsai, who will take office in May, on Saturday reiterated her party's plan to make Taiwan nuclear-free within a decade. “To accomplish this goal, in addition to promoting energy efficiency we need to more importantly adjust the energy mix,” the president-elect wrote in a post on Facebook. The DPP says it will put forward a raft of new energy policies once it takes office, including plans to increase the use of clean energy on the island. Taiwan generates about one-fifth of its energy from three nuclear plants. In 2014, authorities were forced to seal off a nearly completed fourth nuclear plant after public opposition. The DPP has said it has no plans to restart the project. The anti-nuclear rally comes a day after Japan marked the fifth anniversary of a major nuclear disaster when the Fukushima energy plant was hit by a tsunami following an earthquake, knocking out power to its cooling systems and sending reactors into meltdown. Taiwan, like Japan, is prone to frequent quakes as the island lies on a number of fault lines. Protesters on Saturday also called on the government to propose new measures to safely store nuclear waste. “There hasn't been a comprehensive plan to deal with nuclear waste. We need to face this for our children,” said Elvin Wu, 35, who attended the rally with her five-year-old daughter. “If the waste cannot be effectively processed, then we hope that the nuclear plants will be shut down,” she said. ^ top ^

 

Economy

PBOC reportedly drafting tax for FX transactions (China Daily)
2016-03-17
China's central bank has drafted rules for a tax on foreign-exchange transactions in a step to stem speculators, according to Bloomberg News. Known as the "Tobin tax", it is designed to raise the cost for spot currency conversions, and is described by its originator, Nobel-winning economist James Tobin, as "throwing sand in the wheels of speculators". Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that the initial rate may be kept at zero to allow authorities to refine the rules. The People's Bank of China didn't immediately respond to request for comments. Vice-governor Yi Gang has raised the possibility on several previous occasions but did not hint whether it would materialize any time soon. The problem with the "Tobin tax", according to Tommy Ong, managing director for treasury and markets at DBS Hong Kong, is it can't guarantee less volatility in the market since it's difficult to identify if currency trading is due to speculation or the genuine need of companies hedging their foreign-exchange exposure. The news surprised some observers since the PBOC has won an early victory in its defense of the yuan. Expectation of further depreciation eased when central bank data showed last week that the fall in foreign-exchange reserves was much smaller than in January. In Hong Kong, the offshore yuan fell 0.12 percent to 6.5189 per dollar on Wednesday, trading around 12 basis points weaker than in Shanghai. After the worst start to a year in two decades, the yuan has strengthened 1.6 percent since Jan 7. Hedge funds that previously bet against the yuan now are paying a price. According to Bloomberg, at least $562 million of options that pay out if the currency drops below 6.6 per dollar have expired worthless since August. Another $807 million will lapse within three months. "The Chinese government has proved a stronger adversary than many traders anticipated.... Bears now face a difficult choice: They can abandon the trade, or hunker down for what could become a costly waiting game," Bloomberg wrote. PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said at a Saturday news conference that it is difficult for him to predict movement in the exchange rate, but "despite volatility, calm and normalization always follow a period of turmoil". ^ top ^

Miners stage big protest in northern China, demanding pay and job security (SCMP)
2016-03-15
Thousands of miners owed pay and worried about their job security have been protesting in a northeastern town for several days, reflecting the challenges Beijing faces as it tries to streamline the economy and reduce overcapacity. Miners in Shuangyashan, a city in Heilongjiang province on the Russian border, had been demonstrating throughout the weekend, chanting “workers need food” and “down with corrupt criminals”, according to videos posted online. Security officers were out in force on Monday and one shop owner said fewer miners were on the streets. […] The leadership announced last month that about 1.8 million coal and steel workers would probably lose their jobs as it tackled industrial overcapacity and shuttered bloated state-owned firms. The Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group is typical of the expected victims. It's owned by the provincial government and is the source of livelihood for 224,000 people but has little chance of turning a profit. To stay afloat, the provincial government has been pleading with banks to provide credit, and provincial governor Lu Hao has said the group planned to dismiss 50,000 workers in the coming two to three years. A similar demonstration took place in Shanxi province to the south a few days earlier, according to accounts posted on social media. Workers at Tonghua Iron and Steel in Jilin also staged a protest demanding overdue salary. It remains to be seen how local authorities in rust-belt areas manage the economic and social costs of the national restructuring, even with help from Beijing. “Provinces where heavy industry and mining are such a large share of the economy at the moment will be challenged in the coming years,” said Louis Kuijs, chief Asia economist for Oxford Economics in Hong Kong. As growth slowed and fiscal revenue shrank, these communities would bear the brunt of the transition away from obsolete production, Kuijs said. In Shuangyashan, the government issued a statement vowing to “strike firmly” against unrest, such as “blocking state railway lines, disrupting production activities, organising joint actions and picking quarrels”. Workers and residents were cautioned against spreading rumours or “negative information”. At a protest in front of the local mining office building, some workers held banners accusing the governor of “telling lies” to the media gathered for the annual political meetings in Beijing. But Lu said “not a single penny was past due” but later retracted the statement. Premier Li Keqiang has said the government will establish a special fund of 100 billion yuan (US$15.48 billion or HK$120 billion) to ease the lay-off process, and local cadres are already battling for a slice. The national jobless rate was 5.1 per cent in January and February, a slight fall of 0.05 percentage points from the same period a year earlier, state television reported. Industrial production accounts for a smaller share of the economy than the service sector, giving Beijing the chance to start the first steps of what is expected to be a painful journey. “They are serious about moving ahead with industrial restructuring [and] closing the most inefficient capacities,” said Tim Condon, chief economist and head of research at ING Asia in Singapore. Pockets of labour unrest were unlikely to deter Beijing from pursuing a leaner, cleaner model of growth, he said. ^ top ^

China to give green light to ride-hailing firms Uber, Didi Kuaidi (SCMP)
2016-03-15
The mainland is drawing up rules to regulate the fast-growing ride-hailing market, the transport minister said on Monday. But it remains unclear when the regulations would go into ­effect, with Yang Chuantang ­cautioning that the interests of all stakeholders including taxi companies needed to be weighed. “As a new invention, online ride-hailing services have been a good experience for consumers, and welcomed by some passengers. So our solution is to provide a legal way” forward for the industry, Yang said on the sidelines of the annual National People's Congress in Beijing. Despite booming demand, providers have faced intense objections from taxi companies and crackdowns by local governments in parts of the mainland. Their legitimacy has remained a grey area even for market leaders such as Uber and its local rival ­Didi Chuxing. Yang said the ministry was considering a draft set of regulations covering both taxi and private car-hire services. The rules would reflect public opinion received last year, he said, adding the ministry hoped to release them as soon as possible although he did not give a time frame. He admitted accommodating the interests of stakeholders had been difficult. “These interest groups have very complicated and diverse demands and carrying out further reform will require adjustments in their interests,” Yang said. Yang also avoided the question of whether online ride-hailing services were illegal on the mainland. “Different local governments should supervise the ­industry according to the actual situation in their areas based on the present transport policies.” He said heavy spending by the app providers was aimed at gaining market share “within the short term” and were competitively unfair for the taxi industry. “It is unhealthy and cannot be sustained in the long term,” he said. Both Didi and Uber told the South China Morning Post that they were encouraged by Yang's remarks Uber said its spending tactics were in line with industry practice and necessary to attract new users. Players would become competitive as the market matured, it said. Uber's chief executive, Travis Kalanick, said earlier this year that the company burned through more than US$1 billion a year in China. Didi contends it spends less than its rivals to ensure the service remains attractive to customers and a viable career for its 10 million drivers. The company was breaking even in more than half of the 400 cities it covered, according to Didi. Uber is running in about 50 cities and hoped to double that number. According to the draft rules, online ride-hailing firms will be required to be licensed, have their prices guided by the government or decided by market forces, and set up their servers on the mainland. Foreign-invested operators would have to comply with national security laws and obtain telecommunications licences if they offered value-added telecoms services. Yang said the providers would help reform the taxi industry, which has been criticised by the public as monopolistic. Most taxi companies are in the hands of a few government-sanctioned operators. Drivers must pay hefty fees to the operators for a licence. ^ top ^

Higher gear: China's industry ministry predicts competition in 'green' car market to intensify (SCMP)
2016-03-14
China's top industry official on Sunday offered a rosy projection for the growth of environmentally friendly vehicles this year, announcing the new-energy car sector was on track to become the world's biggest. Miao Wei, the minister for industry and information technology, said on the sidelines of the annual session of the legislature that annual sales would more than double in 2016 after strong growth last year. “An increasing number of companies and products are prepared to join in the competition for the new-energy car market,” Miao said. “I believe the industry will continue to grow with upward momentum as the government is also adamant in supporting it with policy incentives.” More than 330,000 “green” cars were sold last year, a more than fourfold increase over the previous year. Beijing has set a target of 5 million new-energy vehicles on the road by 2020, butuntil 2014 sales were weak. The government, as part of its effort to improve environmental protection, spent billions of yuan in subsidies for the purchase of electric, hybrid and fuel-cell cars. It offered other inducements such as free driving permits, lower parking fees and consumption tax exemptions. In Shanghai, a permit for a private car costs about 900,000 yuan (US$138,600 or HK$1.07 million). Miao admitted that despite the strong growth now, two bottlenecks remained. Batteries were still a concern because safety and reliability was a problem. Drivers expected them to power long journeys and have an extended lifespan, he said. He also said more charging stations should be set up to support the expected demand. The ministry said last year some new-energy vehicles that had caught fire had design flaws, and ordered manufacturers to carry out safety tests and report the findings to the regulator. Analysts said the mainland would need to develop a mature electric-vehicle market in the next decade or the environment would continue to worsen. China is the world's largest greenhouse gas contributor, and remains its biggest car market. Deliveries of vehicles for last year increased by 4.7 per cent year on year to 24.6 million units. The United States by comparison saw 17 million units. China is the world's largest greenhouse gas contributor. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

China opposes unilateral sanctions on North Korea (Global Times)
2016-03-18
China expressed its opposition on Thursday to unilateral sanctions against North Korea, saying they could raise tension, after the US imposed new curbs on the country. US President Barack Obama on Wednesday imposed sweeping new sanctions on North Korea intended to further isolate its leadership after recent nuclear and rocket tests. The so-called secondary sanctions threaten to ban anyone who does business with broad swaths of North Korea's economy from the global financial system. They would compel banks to freeze the assets of anyone who breaks the blockade, potentially squeezing out North Korea's business ties. Asked whether China was worried the sanctions could affect "normal" business links between Chinese banks and North Korea, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said this was something China was "paying attention to." At a news briefing in Beijing, Lu reiterated that "China always opposes any country imposing unilateral sanctions" and stressed that the US move could worsen the already "complex and sensitive" situation. "We have clearly stressed many times in meetings with the relevant county that so-called unilateral sanctions imposed by any country should neither affect nor harm China's reasonable interests," Lu said. While China has signed on to tough new UN sanctions against North Korea, it insists that only a resumption of talks can resolve the dispute over the country's nuclear program. ^ top ^

DPRK fires mid-range ballistic missile amid ongoing US-S.Korea war games (Global Times)
2016-03-18
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday fired a medium-range ballistic missile into east waters in what appeared to be a move to respond to the ongoing joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States and tougher-than-ever sanctions on Pyongyang. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying that the missile was launched around 5:55 a.m. local time (2055 Thursday GMT) from the western area of Sukcheon. The missile, fired from a mobile launcher, flew about 800 km before falling off the DPRK's east coast. In consideration of the flying distance, it was believed to have been a Rodong ballistic missile. One more DPRK projectile, estimated to have been a missile, was fired from the same place at around 6:17 a.m., but its trajectory disappeared from a radar screen at an altitude of about 17 km. It was estimated to have been detonated in the air. It was the first time in about two years since March 26, 2014 that Pyongyang fired the Rodong missile, which can target the entire South Korean territory and major cities in Japan as it has a maximum range of about 1,300 km. The missile launch came in an apparent show of force and anger at the ongoing joint annual war games between Seoul and Washington and harsher-than-ever sanctions on the DPRK over its latest nuclear test and rocket launch. UN Security Council unanimously adopted the toughest sanctions in decades toward the DPRK earlier this month as Pyongyang tested what it claimed was its first hydrogen bomb on Jan. 6 and launched a rocket, which was condemned as a disguised test of missile technology, on Feb. 7. Hours after the sanctions adoption, the DPRK fired six rounds of its new 300-mm multiple rocket launchers in protest. The artillery flew about 100-150 km and crashed off the DPRK's east coast. Pyongyang fired two short-range ballistic missiles, estimated to have been Scud missiles, on March 10, three days after the spring war games kicked off. The Key Resolve command post exercise is set to end on Friday, but the Foal Eagle field training exercise will last until April 30. Top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un had ordered tests of a nuclear warhead and ballistic missiles capable of delivering the warhead in a short time to enhance the credibility of its nuclear strike capability, according to the DPRK's KCNA news agency report on Tuesday. Kim also guided a simulated ground test of a re-entry vehicle for technology needed to return a warhead into atmosphere from space to fall down and reach a target on the ground. It is regarded as the last major technology Pyongyang should master to develop a missile hitting the US mainland. In protest against the US-South Korea war games, the DPRK threatened a pre-emptive and offensive nuclear strike against South Korea and the US mainland. ^ top ^

China reaffirms its commitment to North Korea sanctions (SCMP)
2016-03-16
China, North Korea's most important ally, has reaffirmed its commitment to fully implement United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang over its recent nuclear tests and missile launches. The pledge came as the Hermit Kingdom's leader Kim Jong-un said his country would soon conduct more nuclear warhead and missile tests, official media said yesterday. The tests would be in violation of UN sanctions. In a phone conversation with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also called for new talks with North Korea on nuclear disarmament, the ministry said. Since agreeing to the new sanctions, China has redoubled calls for a two-track solution aiming to resolve the nuclear issue while forging a permanent peace agreement to replace the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean war. While China remains North Korea's biggest source of economic help and diplomatic support, it agreed to the new measures out of frustration at Pyongyang's defiance of both previous UN resolutions and Beijing's persistent calls to avoid provocations. The latest tensions began in January, when North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test ­before launching a long-range rocket. “In discussing the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, the two sides agreed that... the sanctions must be fully and completely implemented, while during the process of implementing the resolution, ways be explored into how to restore a means of resolving the peninsula nuclear issue through negotiations,” the foreign ministry said. Kim gave the instruction for the test after extolling what the country's state media described as a warhead's successful simulated atmospheric re-entry. In their phone conversation on Monday, the two ministers also discussed the often-strained relationship between their countries, with Wang urging Japan to make “constructive efforts” to improve ties, the ministry said. Wang told reporters at a news conference last week that he saw “little ground for optimism” in the outlook for China-Japan relations. While giving no specifics other than Japan's “wrong approach to history and other issues”, he accused Japanese leaders and politicians of “making trouble for China at every turn.” Relations between the two neighbours have been generally calm since violent anti-Japanese riots broke out in several Chinese cities in 2012 after Japan nationalised a chain of uninhabited islands claimed by China. Yet, while a brief 2014 meeting between President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe marked a restoration of high-level contacts, ties have since moved at a glacial pace. ^ top ^

China, Japan FMs discuss N.Korea's nuclear tests (Global Times)
2016-03-15
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi held telephone talks with his counterparts in Japan and South Korea over North Korea's nuclear ambitions on Monday night, calling for the restart of talks to resolve the issue. Tensions have surged in the region since the North carried out its fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch last month. The UN Security Council responded to North Korea's moves by imposing tough new sanctions. Wang agreed with Japan's Fumio Kishida and South ­Korea's Yun Byung-se to "fully and comprehensively" ­implement the UN resolution, ­according to statements from the Chinese foreign ministry. The statements stressed that China wants to achieve the ­denuclearization of the ­Korean Peninsula through the Six­Party Talks. Wang also spoke with Kishida - the first direct exchange of words since their meeting in Seoul on November 1 - on how to improve Sino-Japanese ties, with Wang stressing that Japan needs to make some ­constructive efforts. Kishida informed Wang of his intention to visit China at some point in the spring, and the two ministers confirmed that they will cooperate to make necessary diplomatic arrangements, Kyodo News reported. ^ top ^

North Korean submarine 'missing', as Pyongyang threatens South with 'ultra-precision blitzkrieg' (SCMP)
2016-03-14
North Korea said on Saturday its military is ready to pre-emptively attack and “liberate” the South in its latest outburst against the annual joint military drills by the United States and South Korea. In a statement carried through state media, the general staff of the North's Korean People's Army said its frontline units are prepared to strike first if they see signs that American and South Korean troops involved in the drills were attempting to invade the North. The KPA said it will counter the drills by the United States and South Korea it says are aimed at advancing into Pyongyang with plans to “liberate the whole of South Korea including Seoul” and also that it is capable of executing “ultra-precision blitzkrieg” strikes against enemy targets. At the start of the drills on Monday, the North warned of an indiscriminate “pre-emptive nuclear strike of justice” on Washington and Seoul. In response to North's statement, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff called for North Korea to stop its threats and “rash behaviour” and warned that a provocation from the North would result in the destruction of its highest leadership. North Korea has condemned the annual military drills staged by Seoul and Washington in South Korea, calling them preparations for an invasion. The allies say the drills, which this year are described as the biggest ever and follow the North's recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch, are defensive and routine. At the same time, a North Korean submarine is said to be missing. The unknown class of vessel was reportedly operating off the North Korean coast earlier in the week when it disappeared. A South Korean defence ministry said Seoul was investigating the reports. Pentagon officials declined to comment on the matter. The US military had been observing the submarine off the North's eastern coast, CNN said, citing three US officials familiar with the incident. American spy satellites, aircraft and ships have been watching as the North Korean navy searched for the missing sub, the report added. The US is unsure if the missing vessel is adrift or whether it has sunk, CNN reported, but officials believe it suffered a failure during an exercise. The US Naval Institute (USNI) News said the submarine was presumed sunk. “The speculation is that it sank”, an unidentified US official was quoted as telling the USNI News. “The North Koreans have not made an attempt to indicate there is something wrong or that they require help or some type of assistance.” North Korea's navy operates a fleet of some 70 submarines, most of them being rusting diesel submarines that are capable of little more than coastal defence and limited offensive capabilities. But the old, lo-tech submarines still pose substantial threats to South Korean vessels. In 2010, a South Korean corvette was reportedly torpedoed by a North Korean submarine near their sea border. In August last year, Seoul said 70 per cent of the North's total submarine fleet – or around 50 vessels – had left their bases and disappeared from South's military radar, sparking alarm. ^ top ^

North Korea's insistence on a 'peace treaty' aims only to divert attention from its nuclear programme (SCMP)
2016-03-14
Talk about a “peace treaty” for ending the Korean war rests on several contradictions. Foremost is the oft-repeated line that we're still “technically at war”. War means shooting, bombing, killing. The Korean war ended in July 1953 with the signing of a truce or armistice. We've had numerous bloody “incidents” since then, but so far no more real war. So why do people keep insisting on a “peace treaty” to “end” the war that's already ended? The calls have come loudest and longest from North Korea, but how can the North demand a “peace treaty” while spewing forth rhetoric about turning South Korea into “a sea of fire” and sending a nuclear-tipped rocket all the way to Washington DC to destroy the White House? Who, for that matter, should consider a response to demands for a treaty when North Korea won't consider halting its programme for building nuclear warheads and missiles, despite sanctions passed by the UN Security Council with the unanimous support of all members? Sadly, North Korea's demands for a treaty have won the support not only of the Chinese but also of a number of academics and so-called peace groups in the United States and elsewhere. They blame America for its reluctance to enter talks with the North while Pyongyang issues insults and diatribes along with serious threats. Most disheartening, North Korea's pleas for talks about a “peace treaty” are getting through. Diplomats are now saying: “Why not talk about a treaty if we put the nuclear issue on the agenda?” They're suggesting that these talks could “parallel” one another. North Korea's initial response was to say treaty talks could not include the nuclear programmme. But what if Pyongyang agreed to talk about nukes, too? Of course, North Korea would go into the talks with no notion of abandoning its nuclear programme while pressing for the treaty. Equally important, the North Koreans, as a condition for any treaty, would demand the US withdraw virtually all its troops. One can only imagine the North Korean propaganda, as it called for a halt to all military exercises and the closure of US bases. The prospect of such talks is so ridiculous that it's not likely that US President Barack Obama will consider them during the remainder of his term. He would prefer to kick that whole issue down the road and into the hands of his successor. Whoever wins the presidential election in November, we have to hope that the US would not consider talks about a peace treaty without the preconditions that North Korea has already rejected. Abandonment of the North's nuclear programme has to be the first item on any agenda. And South Korea has to have a seat at the table as a full and equal participant and partner. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolei nimmt 500 millionen us-dollar kredit auf (Tageszeitung)
2016-03-17
Bei einem Besuch der Handelskammer der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika in der Mongolei gab Premierminister Saikhanbileg Chimed bekannt, dass die Mongolei einen Kredit in Höhe von 500 Millionen US-Dollar von der Credit Suisse erhält. Am 16.März wurde die erste Rate des Kredits in Höhe von 250 Millionen US-Dollar auf das Konto des Finanzministeriums überwiesen, so Saikhanbileg. Die Zinsen für die ersten Raten werden auf Grund der Vereinbarung LIBOR+6,25% für 5 Jahre betragen. Für die zweite Rate wurde eine Zinsvereinbarung LIBOR+5,75% für 3 Jahre festgelegt. Mit dem Kredit werden höchstwahrscheinlich das Haushaltsdefizit sowie 70 Millionen US-Dollar an Schulden für „Khan Resource“ beglichen. Vor 7 Jahren wurde die Uran-Explorationslizenz der kanadischen Firma „Khan Resource“ in der Provinz Dornod annulliert. Nach der internationalen Gerichtsentscheidung in Paris wurde der mongolische Staat für schuldig erklärt und mit einer Strafe von 106 Millionen US-Dollar belegt. Nach Verhandlungen mit „Khan Resource“ wurde der Betrag auf 70 Millionen US-Dollar reduziert. ^ top ^

UN kick starts response to dzud-affected people (Montsame)
2016-03-16
The United Nations in Mongolia is scaling up its emergency response to address the urgent needs of populations affected by the harsh winter locally known as dzud. These interventions, amounting to $2.4 million, are funded by the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) under the rapid response window. […] Around 60 per cent of Mongolia's 339 district have been in dzud or near-dzud condition since December 2015. […] As of 15 February 2016, an estimated 225,788 people (62,719 herder households or 41 per cent of the total herder population) in 211 districts are impacted by adverse weather conditions, including 28,290 children under age 5 and 3,340 expectant mothers. Out of this, an estimated 11,800 herder households with less than 100 animals who reside in the 98 most dzud affected districts are considered particularly vulnerable. […] “UN assistance supported by CERF is designed to address the most urgent survival and livelihood needs of 4,390 vulnerable herder households affected by the dzud in Mongolia”, says Ms. Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator. […] The response is organized in 4 projects to be provided as a package of complementary time-critical interventions including food aid, nutrition, protection, agriculture, and early recovery. The Protection and the Nutrition sector will deliver a package of food, nutrition and basic relief items to facilitate the survival of the most vulnerable herders. The agriculture component aims to protect livelihoods of vulnerable herders who are dependent on their livestock by minimizing additional loss of animal lives and damage to economic assets through fodder provisions. This will be followed by a cash intervention which will ensure that low income households can buy additional warm clothes, heating and cooking fuels, and other products essential for surviving the extreme winter and isolation. The projects will be implemented in the next six months by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in partnership with NGOs and government authorities. The government of Mongolia has already disbursed much of the Emergency funds allocated from its State Reserve. Mr. Tserendash Oyunbaatar, Deputy Prime Minister and head of State Emergency Commission has welcomed international assistance. The head of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Badral Tuvshin said that he “appreciate(s) the coordination efforts of the United Nations to complement the government's response”. The CERF grant will cover 17% of the $ 14.3 million estimated overall response requirements addressing both immediate life-saving and other mid-term needs in the four sectors. In addition to the support through the CERF mechanism, $ 4.4 million in immediate assistance is urgently needed to reach the most vulnerable herder households in all 98 dzud affected districts. The Humanitarian Country Team will continue working with the government and partners to advocate for more resources to address life-saving needs of the most vulnerable households. ^ top ^

PM about priorities of government and economic situation (Montsame)
2016-03-16
The Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg Wednesday held a meeting with members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia (AmCham Mongolia), giving a report about priorities of the Governmental policy and economic situation. Mr Saikhanbileg noted Mongolia is open to business and investments, and emphasized a role of the USA in expanding the economic cooperation of Mongolia. In 2016, Mongolia was on the 56th place in doing business rate, going up from 76th place of 2015, the Premier said, and pointed out that Mongolia has established the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Japan, and international investors are going to invest USD 4.2 billion to the second phase and construction of underground mine of the Oyu Tolgoi project. He added that Mongolia has formulated its policy on long-term development, and a draft of package laws on tax has been submitted to parliament. The Premier underlined the economic development of Mongolia will be ensured when the investment environment is sustainable in the country. Organized for the third year, the meeting attracted some 70 people including businessmen, officials from the AmCham Mongolia and diplomats of Embassies in Ulaanbaatar. The AmCham is an independent membership-driven organization that seeks to build, strengthen, and protect business between the United States and Mongolia and to actively promote Mongolia as a destination for American investment. The chamber is accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as its official affiliate in Mongolia. Based in Washington, DC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the largest business federation in the world with over 3 million member companies. Such chambers have been established in over 100 countries in the world. ^ 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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