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
  11-15.4.16, No. 618  
Startseite / Homepage   Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

DPRK

Mongolia

^ top ^

 

Switzerland

China, Switzerland seek innovation ties (Global Times)
2016-04-11
China and Switzerland have agreed to build an innovative strategic partnership during the Swiss president's three-day visit to Beijing last week. Chinese President Xi Jinping and his counterpart Johann Schneider-Ammann signed three agreements on occupational safety and scientific cooperation, and cooperation between Switzerland Innovation and the Tsinghua University Science Park. Both sides also reached four new agreements on Sino-Swiss Low Carbon Cities, a project launched in 2013 when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang traveled to Switzerland. Aimed at curbing climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas, the program began in Yantai, a coastal city in East China's Shandong Province, which is the first of 10 Chinese cities working together with the Swiss side. Xi assured Schneider-Ammann of his support to set up innovative platforms for mutual cooperation for enterprises, universities and institutions. He added that Swiss innovation can combine with the Chinese Strategy for Innovation-driven Development. Switzerland is frequently listed among the top innovators in a list of 139 countries, according to the World Economic Forum's ranking of global competitive economies. The Swiss president said education leads to creativity and excellence, that Switzerland has a well-established educational and creative research system, where every Swiss citizen undergoes primary and secondary education, the Beijing News reported. A reliable craftsman needs to be educated, the president said. Diplomatic ties between Switzerland and China date back to 1950 when the nation recognized the Chinese government. In 2013, it became the first European country to sign a bilateral Free Trade Agreement with China. Schneider-Ammann said China remains its third most important trading partner after the European Union and the US. Trade between the two countries reached $44.2 billion last year. But he admitted that some issues on further liberalizing trade need to be tackled. "I am aware that things are not perfect. A complex agreement like this needs a bit of time and experience on all levels to run as smoothly as possible," he said. The biggest issue is how to continue to reduce the customs duties. The president said the ultimate goal of the FTA is to reduce all duties, according to a CCTV report. A day before meeting with Xi, Schneider-Ammann met with Chinese Premiere Li Keqiang and economic and science delegations in Beijing. He also attended several business and innovation-themed meetings in Shanghai on Saturday. ^ top ^

China, Switzerland forge innovative strategic partnership (Xinhua)
2016-04-08
China and Switzerland will establish an innovative strategic partnership to promote common development and prosperity, a joint statement issued on Friday said. The statement was released after the talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann, who is paying a state visit to China from Thursday to Saturday. During the talks, Xi said Switzerland is one of the earliest Western countries establishing diplomatic ties with New China, praising the sound development of China-Switzerland relations in recent years. The two countries have jointly cultivated a cooperative spirit featuring equality, innovation and win-win, the Chinese president said. He said the political foundation of the two countries' innovative strategic partnership lies in adherence to equality, mutual respect, exchanges and mutual learning. He suggested the two sides enhance strategic consultations, increase mutual understanding and trust, and outline major cooperative areas, so as to effectively implement the new partnership. The pioneering and innovative spirit is a distinct feature of China-Switzerland relations, said Xi, calling on the two sides to beef up innovation cooperation on the basis of expanding free trade and financial cooperation. He said the two sides should support the establishment of innovation cooperation platforms and encourage innovative cooperation between businesses, colleges and research institutes. The president suggested the two countries deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in renewable energy, modern eco-agriculture, energy saving and environmental protection, as well as medicine. The Belt and Road Initiative has provided broad space for China-Switzerland cooperation, he said, noting that China is ready to work with Switzerland to enhance cooperation within the framework of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Xi also called on the two sides to create more platforms to facilitate cultural exchanges. China is willing to enhance policy coordination with Switzerland on international affairs and hopes that the two sides will be jointly committed to the peaceful settlement of international and regional conflicts, so as to pool wisdom on global economic and financial governance, said Xi. Xi said Switzerland is one of the first European countries to recognize China's market economy status and the first country in continental Europe to reach an FTA with China. China hopes that Switzerland continues to support the development of China-Europe relationship so as to bring the practical cooperation in various fields to a new level, said Xi. Schneider-Ammann, for his part, said Switzerland and China have maintained good relationship in the principle of mutual respect since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1950. Speaking highly of the rapid development of bilateral cooperation in areas including economy and trade, investment and finance in recent years, Schneider-Ammann said Switzerland is satisfied with the implementation of the FTA and glad that bilateral cooperation has entered a new era of innovative strategic partnership. He expressed the hope to further enhance exchanges and cooperation with China in areas such as science and technology, innovation, environmental protection, finance, culture, education and sports. Switzerland is willing to actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative and the construction of the AIIB, he said. In the joint statement issued after their talks, the two sides agreed that it is in line with the fundamental interests of the two nations and their people to deepen bilateral innovative cooperation, which is of long-term and strategic significance. The two sides should develop their new partnership on the basis of mutual respect and equality, it added. To achieve the objective, the two sides agreed to strengthen high-level exchanges, expand consensus and cement political mutual trust, said the document. The two sides should deepen mutual understanding on each other's choice of development path and accommodate each other's core interests, it said. China respects the positive role played by Switzerland's policy of neutrality in coping with international crisis, and Switzerland reaffirms its adherence to the one-China policy. The two sides appreciated the deepened trade relations since the implementation of the China-Switzerland FTA, which entered into force in July 2014. They also supported the construction of the offshore-yuan market in Zurich of Switzerland, as well as the cooperation on the training of senior management personnel of financial institutions. Switzerland supports China to host the Group of Twenty (G20) Hangzhou summit in September, and China has invited Switzerland to participate in relevant activities. After the talks, the two presidents witnessed the signing of a number of cooperative documents in the areas of vocational safety and health, low-carbon city construction and technological innovation. Prior to the talks, Xi held a welcoming ceremony for Schneider-Ammann at the square outside the East Gate of the Great Hall of the People. Earlier Friday, China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang met with Schneider-Ammann. Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), said the NPC is willing to enhance exchanges and mutual understanding with the Federal Assembly of Switzerland. He called on the two countries' parliaments to strengthen mutual learning in the legislation of intellectual property protection, innovation and entrepreneurship as well as vocational education. ^ top ^

Switzerland: PM's visit deepens bilateral ties (Global Times)
2016-04-07
The Swiss President Johann N. Schneider-Ammann and his delegation visited China from April 7 to 9, according to the Swiss Embassy in Beijing. The delegation, which included representatives from business and academic circles visited Beijing and Shanghai. The purpose of the visit was to deepen the bilateral cooperation between China and Switzerland in the fields of economy, finance, trade and scientific innovation. Sustainable development and human rights were also discussed. Schneider-Ammann also visited the Novartis R&D Center, the China Europe International Business School and attended the opening ceremony of the Swiss Center Shanghai before he headed back to Switzerland. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China, Australia make world first partnership to create innovation hub (Global Times)
2016-04-15
China has teamed up with a leading Australian university to help create a 100 million Australian dollar ($76.87 million) innovation hub to boost research in advanced materials, biotechnology, energy and environmental engineering. The University of New South Wales (UNSW) and leading Chinese companies will develop a Torch Innovation Precinct at the university's campus in Sydney, building on the Ministry of Science and Technology's flagship "Torch" high technology. UNSW international executive director Laurie Pearcey said joining the Torch innovation program was about future proofing of Australia's competitiveness, as China becomes the world's largest investor in research and development. "This is a major shift in the global knowledge economy and Australia must be strategically positioned," Pearcey said in a statement on Friday. "As mining investment contracts and commodity prices cool, Australia has an opportunity to leverage its world-class universities, the tens of thousands of Chinese students studying here and our strong links to Asia to meet the challenges of the ideas boom." The 150 mainland precincts have already successfully driven innovation via its linkages between research organisations, universities and business, generating some 7 percent of GDP, 10 percent of industrial output and 16 percent of export value alone. The Torch Innovation Precinct at UNSW is expected to add more than 1 billion Australian dollars to Australia's economic output within the first decade, according to Deloitte Access Economics. An initial 30 million Australian dollar ($23.06 million) investment has been secured by eight Chinese companies to support the research in advanced materials, biotechnology, energy and environmental engineering at specially built incubator spaces at its Sydney campus. Investment is expected to reach 100 million Australian dollars ($76.87 million), enabling the construction of a purpose built, globally connected innovation precinct by 2025. ^ top ^

China urges US-Philippines military cooperation not to aim at others (Xinhua)
2016-04-15
The Chinese Defense Ministry on Thursday urged the United States and the Philippines not to aim at others and impair others' interests when conducting military cooperation. "The joint patrols between the United States and the Philippines in the South China Sea has led to militarization in the region, which is harmful to regional peace and stability," said a statement of the Chinese Defense Ministry. The statement came after the United States said Thursday it had launched joint South China Sea patrols with the Philippines and that 275 troops and five attack aircraft will remain in the Philippines temporarily. "The Chinese military will pay close attention to the situation, and resolutely defend China's territorial sovereignty and maritime interests," said the statement. The ministry said the United States and the Philippines' strengthening military alliance, increasing frontline military deployment and holding joint military drills with specific targets reflected cold-war mentality. It went against peace and stability in the South China Sea. "We urge the parties concerned to sincerely respect the regional countries' efforts to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea," said the statement. ^ top ^

French president meets Chinese state councilor to boost bilateral ties (Xinhua)
2016-04-14
French President Francois Hollande met on Wednesday with Chinese state councilor Yang Jiechi in Paris to further cement ties and seek ways to broaden bilateral cooperation. During the meeting, Hollande noted the great importance of Sino-French relations as both countries have common objectives and the same interest on global issues such as climate change, counter-terrorism, security and financial stability. France was ready to further improve the cooperation with China in the fields of civil nuclear energy, agricultural products, tourism and culture, and ready to promote investment and trade, said the French president. Hollande said he will attend the G20 summit in Hangzhou, at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Hollande expressed his fully supports to China for organizing this conference. Yang, for his part, stressed that the China-France relations is a priority for China's diplomacy. China is willing to maintain political mutual trust with France, and make efforts to improve the cooperation in new sectors. Yang added that China is ready to maintain close talks with France to implement Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and believes that France would continue to firmly support China to host the G20 Summit in Hangzhou. Yang also met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday. ^ top ^

China issues report on U.S. human rights (Xinhua)
2016-04-14
China published a report on the United States' human rights situation on Thursday. The report, titled "The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2015," was released by the Information Office of the State Council, China's cabinet, in response to "the 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" issued by the U.S. State Department on April 13 local time. China's report says that the United States made comments on the human rights situation in many countries while being tight-lipped about its own terrible human rights record and showing not a bit of intention to reflect on it. In 2015, the United States saw no improvement in its existent human rights issues, but reported numerous new problems, according to the report. "Since the U.S. government refuses to hold up a mirror to look at itself, it has to be done with other people's help," it says. The report states money politics and family politics went from bad to worse in the United States where voters found it hard to express their real volition. Figures cited in the report shows that civil rights were wantonly infringed upon in the United States in 2015 with rampant gun-related crimes and excessive use of force by police. There were a total of 51,675 gun violence incidents in the United States in 2015 as of December 28, leaving 13,136 killed and 26,493 injured. U.S. police shot dead 965 people last year as of December 24. No substantial progress concerning the economic and social rights of U.S. citizens were made, the report says. In 2015, more than 560,000 people nationwide were homeless, and there were still 33 million people in the United States with no healthcare insurance. It also quotes figures to show that the United States continued to trample on human rights in other countries, causing tremendous civilian casualties. From August 2014 to December 2015, the United States launched 3,965 air strikes in Iraq and 2,823 in Syria, causing an estimated number of civilian deaths between 1,695 and 2,239. The report says that the United States' overseas monitoring projects infringed on the privacy of citizens of other countries. The United States had bugged the phones of three French presidents and many other senior French officials, according to the report. Though the United States repeatedly vowed to defend "human rights," it still has not ratified core human rights conventions of the UN, and took an uncooperative attitude towards international human rights issues, says the report. ^ top ^

Beijing summons envoys to protest against G7 statement on sea disputes (SCMP)
2016-04-14
The foreign ministry summoned top diplomatic representatives from the Group of Seven (G7) ­advanced economies to protest against a statement issued by their foreign ministers this week on territorial disputes in the East and South China seas. “We are of the view that the [G7 foreign ministers'] statement has something incorrect and even wrong,” ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Wednesday. “So we have summoned their envoys and made China's stance clear on the issues.” Without naming China, G7 foreign ministers meeting in Hiroshima this week issued a joint statement saying they were “concerned about the situation in the East and South China seas, and emphasise the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes”. “A senior official of one of the G7 countries mentioned that China needed to heed the voice of the G7,” Lu said, adding “they are just trying to amuse themselves” if they thought the statement could put pressure on Beijing. News of Beijing summoning the G7 diplomats came as new satellite images taken by ImageSat International on April 7 and authenticated by US defence officials on Tuesday confirmed the Chinese military has deployed two J-11 fighter jets and bolstered its advanced surface-to-air missile system on Woody Island, or Yongxing Island, the largest of the Paracels in the South China Sea, US Fox News Television reported. Late last year, the People's Liberation Army Navy and the PLA Daily posted photos of J-11s on their websites, showing the aircraft conducting live-fire drills on “a new airstrip” in the South China Sea, which military experts believe is on Yongxing. The satellite photos also show four of the eight surface-to-air HQ-9 missiles first deployed in February as ready to operate on the eastern side of the island, Fox News said. They were supported by a newly installed fire-control radar system, which the Pentagon claimed allowed China to track US fighter jets, bombers and intelligence, the report said. “The J-11 and HQ-9 would form a counter-air defence and attack system for the PLA,” ­Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said. Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said the navy was likely to regularly send a squadron of four jets to Yongxing, just 350km from the South Sea fleet's base in Sanya, Hainan province. Early this year, US intelligence agencies accused China of militarising the region by sending J-11 fighter jets, JH-7 bombers and a HQ-9 missile system to the island. The activity came after the US sent warships near 12 nautical miles of Beijing's artificial islands in the region in October. The Pentagon also said Chinese vessels had increased activities near Scarborough Shoal, or Huangyan, the PLA-controlled islet that both Beijing and Manila claim. Manila said the activity could be a prelude to another Chinese land reclamation project in the area. ^ top ^

Tourism in Xisha Islands reflects China's claim over territories: experts (Global Times)
2016-04-14
A new Chinese cruise ship has sailed towards the Xisha Islands on Wednesday, reflecting China's claim over its territorial waters, Chinese experts said. The Beibu Gulf Star, a cruise ship that can carry around 300 people, departed from the port of Sanya, South China's Hainan Province on Wednesday on its first voyage through the Xisha Islands route, replacing its predecessor Coconut Princess, local media outlet Hinews reported. The cruise service, provided four times a month, allows tourists to visit the Xisha Islands, such as Yinyu and Yagong, and have the opportunity to engage in diving and fishing activities. But they are forbidden from taking away coral reefs, an employee of the China International Travel Agency Hainan Province told the Global Times. A chance to raise the national flag and sing the national anthem on Yinyu Island is also included in the package, according to the company, with prices ranging from 2,880 yuan ($445) to 19,400 yuan for four days and three nights. "The trips are limited to Chinese citizens," the employee said, adding that tourists only need to register their ID cards, but refused to comment on foreign applicants. The first group of 100 tourists was only allowed to sign up after a screening process when the Coconut Princess landed in Xisha Islands on April 28, 2013. Trips made to Xisha Islands topped 2,000 in 2013, the China News Service reported. Such trips combine sightseeing and patriotic education, as tourism is a way to show the civil jurisdiction of the area, Liu Feng, a Hainan-based South China Sea expert, told the Global Times. "Promoting tourism in the Xisha Islands reflects our jurisdiction over the waters," Liu said. Meanwhile, Liu said promoting the Xisha Islands should be based on ecological conservation by strengthening laws, law enforcement and public education. Xiao Jie, the mayor of Sansha and a national representative, told media during the two sessions in March that the air route to the Xisha Islands is scheduled to be finalized this year. ^ top ^

China, Nigeria can join hands in reviving world economy: premier (Xinhua)
2016-04-14
China is willing to join hands with Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, to contribute to regional and world economic recovery and growth, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here on Wednesday. Li told visiting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during a meeting in the Great Hall of the People that the mutual-beneficial cooperation between China and Nigeria has great potential. China's economy is operating in a reasonable range and positive factors are increasing, the premier said, stressing China will strive to overcome difficulties and challenges in order to maintain a medium-high rate of growth. As for ties with Nigeria, Li said that China is ready to help promote the African country's industrialization through enhancing production capacity cooperation, spearheaded by infrastructure projects including railway, highway, and hydropower construction. He also called on the two sides to push forward cooperation in construction of free trade zones, agricultural technology transfer, agricultural investment, aviation, mining and finance. China encourages capable enterprises to invest in Nigeria, the premier said, calling on Nigeria to provide good protection and support for Chinese investment. Praising China's achievement in development and long-term support for Nigeria, Buhari said the Nigerian government is willing to push forward cooperation with China in coastal railway, highway, hydropower construction as well agriculture, mining and manufacturing so as to promote diversification of the country's economy. Buhari is paying a state visit to China from Monday to Friday at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Before meeting with Li, Buhari held talks with Xi on Tuesday and met with top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang on Wednesday. Besides Beijing, Buhari will also visit Shanghai and Guangzhou. Also on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a meeting with Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama in Beijing. The two ministers also attended a celebration of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. ^ top ^

Prosecutors to target overseas illicit assets (China Daily)
2016-04-14
Prosecutors pursuing corrupt officials who have moved overseas with illegally accrued fortunes will start to target the fugitives' assets, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate. The focus on confiscating assets is a new initiative and will be brought in during the coming months. Previously, national prosecutors prioritized bringing corrupt fugitives back to China to stand trial before attempting to confiscate funds that had been collected illegally and transferred abroad. As part of the new action, national prosecutors will strengthen law enforcement cooperation with relevant countries, especially Western destinations, so they can locate and seize illicitly-acquired proceeds. They will also work closely with other authorities to attempt to stop corrupt officials from fleeing the country in the first place. The SPP said prosecutors will enhance communication and conduct joint investigations with relevant countries on some major and individual cases in an attempt to repatriate more corrupt officials for trial. In recent years, the United States, Canada and Australia have become popular destinations for corrupt officials because of the lack of signed bilateral extradition treaties and due to legal differences between those countries and China, according to the Ministry of Public Security. Corrupt officials have transferred billions of yuan of illegally collected money to foreign accounts through money laundering operations or underground banks, the ministry said. Between October 2014 - when the prosecuting departments initiated special actions to target corrupt fugitives - and the end of 2015, prosecutors have brought back 124 suspected corrupt officials from more than 34 countries and regions. The 124 suspects included Li Huabo, a senior official from Poyang county financial department in Jiangxi province, who was returned after four years allegedly on the run in Singapore. Huang Yurong, the former Party chief of Henan province's highway administration bureau, spent 13 years in the US before being brought back to China and pleading guilty to corruption and bribery in December. ^ top ^

World Bank joins AIIB on financing for joint projects (Global Times)
2016-04-14
World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on Wednesday signed the first co-financing framework agreement, paving the way for their cooperation on joint projects this year. The agreement outlines the co-financing parameters of the World Bank and AIIB investment projects, said the World Bank in a statement. In 2016, the AIIB expects to approve about 1.2 billion US dollars in financing, with the World Bank joint projects anticipated to account for a sizable share, said the World Bank. But it did not give details of its share in the co-financed projects. According to the statement, the World Bank and the AIIB are currently discussing nearly one dozen co-financed projects in sectors that include transport, water and energy in Central Asia, South Asia and East Asia. Under the agreement, the World Bank will prepare and supervise the co-financed projects in areas such as procurement, environment and social safeguards. "I am very pleased today to sign this co-financing agreement together with World Bank Group President Kim," AIIB President Jin Liqun said in the statement. "The AIIB is very grateful for the generous and timely support offered by the World Bank Group throughout our establishment process, and we look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with ongoing cooperation in project co-financing and other areas." According to the World Bank, some 1.2 billion people in the world lack access to electricity and 2.4 billion people don't have access to basic sanitation services. "Signing this agreement enables our institutions to finance development projects together, and that is an important first step toward working with a new partner to address the world's huge infrastructure needs," said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. ^ top ^

China calls for more positive demeanor from Japan to boost cooperation (Xinhua)
2016-04-13
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang has called on Japan to take a more positive demeanor to boost economic and trade ties with China while cautiously dealing with sensitive issues. Wang made the comment on Tuesday when meeting with a large Japanese business delegation led by retired Japanese political heavyweight and former speaker of the Japanese House of Representatives Yohei Kono, who now serves as president of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade. "Economic and trade cooperation is an important foundation and engine for China-Japan relations to move forward. Both sides should grasp opportunities to improve the mutually beneficial cooperation," Wang said. "I hope Japan can handle major sensitive issues cautiously and appropriately and promote economic and trade cooperation with China in a more positive demeanor to contribute more to the continual improvement of bilateral relationship," the vice premier told the delegation, most of whom are entrepreneurs. China-Japan relations have soured since the Japanese government's "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands in September 2012. Territorial disputes, along with historical issues, as Japanese right-wing forces attempt to whitewash its militarism in World War II, have hindered the development of bilateral ties. China has repeatedly demanded Japan face up to history and honor its past commitments. Kono, then Chief Cabinet Secretary, acknowledged in a 1993 statement that Japan's government recruited more than 200,000 young women and forced them to serve in military brothels. Former Japanese Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi made the "Murayama Statement" in 1995, which admitted Japan's history of invasion and offered apologies. Also on Tuesday, Wang met with a French business delegation headed by former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, calling for more partnership in exploring third markets. ^ top ^

China boosts security role in Afghanistan to counter growing terrorism threat (SCMP)
2016-04-12
As China watches Afghan peace talks flounder and Islamic militants make inroads in parts of its troubled neighbour, Beijing is taking its most concrete steps yet towards assuming a direct security role in the country. In recent weeks, China has pledged US$70 million in military aid to Afghanistan and proposed a four-nation security bloc including Pakistan and Tajikistan. The partnership – floated by top Chinese general Fang Fenghui and endorsed by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul last month – will see China help coordinate efforts to fight terrorism at its backdoor. The moves signal Beijing's growing concern that nascent peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban could fail, providing a safe haven for Uygur militants or Islamic State-linked fighters who might seek to plot attacks on China. They dovetail with a broader foreign policy revision under President Xi Jinping, who has shown a willingness to expand its security presence in Africa and the Middle East to protect growing overseas Chinese interests. […] It remains unclear how China's proposal would work. Fang, who heads the People's Liberation Army's Joint Staff Department, offered few details about the security bloc when he proposed the idea on February 29. Afghan and Pakistani officials had little to add. Unlike the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – China's existing regional security framework that includes Russia and covers trade issues – the new group would centre on Afghanistan and focus on stemming terrorism. The obstacles are immense: Afghanistan and Pakistan routinely accuse each other of using militants to achieve strategic goals, and Tajikistan has long been tied to Russia's sphere of influence. […] China has joined the United States and Pakistan in seeking to broker talks between Ghani's government and the Taliban, which has made gains as American troops hand over security responsibilities to Afghan forces. Those efforts have produced little to date, mostly due to Taliban infighting following the revelation last year that founder Mullah Omar had died. At the same time, security on the ground is worsening. Groups swearing allegiance to the Islamic State have popped up and the Taliban reportedly control more territory than at any point since 2001, prompting the United States to alter its timetable for withdrawing troops from a conflict that has killed 2,300 American soldiers and cost more than $700 billion. China and Afghanistan share only a 92km border, including the ancient Silk Road trade passage known as the Wakhan Corridor. Yet the proximity to China's Xinjiang region gives it special concern. The Chinese government has blamed members of the region's Uygur Muslim minority for numerous attacks, including one at a train station in southwestern Yunnan province's city of Kunming in 2014 that killed 31 people and injured 141. Ghani cited the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – founded by Uygur militants and accused by China of fomenting unrest in Xinjiang–- among the groups justifying the need for a coordinated anti-terrorism response. Chinese security analysts are also concerned about potential links between Uygur militants and Islamic State fighters. The inclusion of Pakistan and Tajikistan in the bloc suggests that China also worries about Xi's signature “One Belt, One Road” initiative to develop a network of ports, highways, railways and pipelines between Europe and Asia. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor is the plan's US$46 billion flagship project. China is helping train Afghan police and has pledged 2 billion yuan (US$327 million) in economic aid to Kabul through next year. Yet its latest moves go further, said Andrew Small, a research fellow at the Washington-based German Marshall Fund and author of The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia's New Geopolitics. “Military aid and military cooperation with Afghanistan is a step above their previous diplomatic and economic support,” Small said. ^ top ^

Beijing criticizes Manila for building military airport in disputed islands (Global Times)
2016-04-12
China slammed the Philippines on Tuesday for being "hypocritical and inconsistent in word and deed" after reportedly preparing to renovate its military airport at an island in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippines hypocritically claimed to have stopped construction on Zhongye Island while brazenly continuing to upgrade facilities such as an airport on the island, which the Philippines occupies illegally, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a press briefing on Tuesday. Lu's comment comes after media reports on Tuesday said that the Philippines seemed to resume its upgrade of a military airport on Zhongye Island in the South China Sea after the country twice claimed it had halted the airport upgrade in 2014 and 2015. The Philippine air force has carried substantial amounts of materials including stones, sand and gasoline by planes to the island recently, an unnamed source was quoted as saying. Lu added that it exposed the arbitration lodged by the Philippines as political provocation under the cloak of law, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Since the 1970s, the Philippines has illegally occupied some islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands by force, violating international laws including the UN Charter, and the basic norms of international relations. The Philippines engaged in construction work and arming on the islands and reefs it illegally occupied, according to Lu. Lu urged the Philippines to respect China's territorial sovereignty and rights and interests, and abide by international laws including the UN Charter, the basic norms of international relations and the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). In 2013, the Philippines unilaterally filed an arbitration case against China at the Hague tribunal, a move that China considers a violation of the DOC. The Philippine military invited foreign journalists to Zhongye Island in May, which Beijing said that it shows the Philippines was the real rule-breaker, and that its attempt to seize maritime assets of China's Nansha Islands is futile. ^ top ^

China's Great Firewall of web censorship not a trade barrier, says nation's internet regulator (SCMP)
2016-04-11
China's online censorship system protects national security and does not discriminate against foreign companies, the country's internet regulator said after the United States described Beijing's blocking of websites as trade barrier. The office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) wrote in an annual report that over the past year China's web censorship had worsened, presenting a “significant burden” to foreign firms and internet users. China has long operated the world's most sophisticated online censorship mechanism, widely known outside the country as the Great Firewall, although the USTR had not listed it as a trade impediment since 2013, when Xi Jinping became China's president. Last week Chinese web users were blocked from seeing news reports about the leaked “Panama Papers” documents from a law firm in Panama, which say relatives of political figures, including Xi, own offshore firms. State media carried brief reports on the revelations, without mentioning the Chinese political figures. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said that its online censorship did not target specific countries or violate its trade commitments. “The aim of the internet security inspection system is to guarantee the security and controllability of information technology products and services, safeguard user information security, and strengthen market and user confidence,” the CAC said on Friday. “China scrupulously abides by World Trade Organisation principles and its accession protocols, protects foreign enterprises' lawful interests according to law, and creates a fair market environment for them,” the regulator said. Censorship was mainly related to products and services that involve “national security”, it said. Under Xi, the government has implemented an unprecedented tightening of internet controls and sought to codify the policy within the law. The websites for Google's services, Facebook and Twitter, and many top global news websites are inaccessible in China. Officials say web controls help maintain social stability and security amid threats such as terrorism. An editorial in the Global Times, an influential state-run tabloid, said history will judge the Great Firewall positively as it will give China time to develop “soft power and strength” in the face of “Western opinion's interference”. “China has achieved this – it can communicate with the outside world, meanwhile, Western opinions cannot easily penetrate as ideological tools,” the newspaper said on Monday. According to data from the anti-censorship group GreatFire.org, almost a quarter of the hundreds of thousands of web pages, domains, encrypted sites, online searches and IP addresses that it monitors in China were blocked as of early April. That was up from 14 per cent at the time Xi assumed the presidency. Foreign business lobbies complain that Chinese internet restrictions go beyond inconvenience and actually limit business competitiveness. A 2016 survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China showed 79 per cent of its members reported a negative impact on business due to internet censorship. ^ top ^

'All-weather' friends: China, Sri Lanka agree to resume controversial Colombo Port City project (SCMP)
2016-04-11
China and Sri Lanka have vowed to develop an “all-weather” friendship, in a move analysts say is aimed at putting disagreements over infrastructure projects behind them. But some observers believe that despite the pledge, Colombo's new government plans to diversify the country's diplomatic partners and dilute its reliance on Chinese investment. Wrapping up a three-day trip to Beijing yesterday, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Colombo planned legal reforms to encourage foreign investment. He asked China to accept equity in infrastructure projects in return for cancelling some of the US$8 billion Sri Lanka owes Beijing and offered to sell it stakes in Sri Lankan companies. The countries also announced the resumption of a controversial US$1.4 billion project, the Colombo Port City, suspended for more than a year over irregularities in the contract arranged by Sri Lanka's previous administration. “The pledge to develop an all-weather friendship is a gesture to say change of government and politics will not affect the relationship,” said Du Youkang, professor of South Asia studies at Fudan University. Sri Lanka upset Beijing last year when it ordered a review of the project, approved under the administration of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had faced criticism domestically for too heavy a reliance on Chinese investment. Faced with falling foreign reserves, Sri Lanka's new administration under President Maithripala Sirisena, is hoping to boost investment from abroad. Wang Dehua, a professor of South Asian studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Strategic Studies, said China would consider the equity swap. “It allows Chinese companies to have a stake in Sri Lankan companies,” he said. “China is willing to consider different financing options for Sri Lanka.” Srikanth Kondapalli, who teaches Chinese Studies at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, said despite pledges to resume the project, Colombo would not be as “desperate” as before to engage Beijing. He noted protests over Chinese investment and Sri Lanka's push to engage countries such as Japan and India. He said Colombo would not “put all its eggs in one basket”, and was still concerned that China would rely on its own workers for joint projects, meaning there would be no transfer of skills. ^ top ^

China's new Syria envoy praises Russian military mission (SCMP)
2016-04-09
China's first special envoy for the Syrian crisis praised Russia's military role in the war on Friday, and said the international community should work harder together to defeat terrorism in the region. Russia's military intervention in Syria in September helped turn the tide of war in President Bashar al-Assad's favour after months of gains in western Syria by rebel fighters, who were aided by foreign military supplies including US-made anti-tank missiles. While President Vladimir Putin announced last month that “the main part” of Russian armed forces in Syria would start to withdraw, the Russian air force has continued to carry out strikes on targets in the country. Russia says it has targeted Islamic State militants. But rebels on the ground and Western officials say the strikes have mainly targeted moderate rebel groups, including US-trained fighters, not associated with Islamic State. China's special envoy Xie Xiaoyan said Russia's military operations were carried out at the invitation of Syria's government with the aim of striking at domestic extremists. “Russia's anti-terrorist operations in Syria are part of international counterterrorism efforts. Russia's military operations in Syria in the past six months have effectively curbed the spread of extremists and terrorists there. I think this is encouraging progress,” Xie said. Syria regards all rebel groups fighting Assad as terrorists. A new round of peace talks is expected to start soon which have gone hand-in-hand with a cessation of hostilities lasting more than a month, raising the prospect of an end to a war that has killed more than 250,000 people and driven many Syrians from their homes. China has repeatedly urged a political solution. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China formally disbars prominent Chinese rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (SCMP)
2016-04-14
Chinese legal authorities on Thursday struck off a prominent rights lawyer who was handed a suspended sentence last year for writing internet posts the government said incited ethnic hatred, ending his career. Activists have said the three-year suspended sentence for Pu Zhiqiang would serve as a strong reminder to other rights lawyers that the Communist Party, currently engaged in a severe clampdown on dissent, would brook no challenge to its rule. Pu has represented many well-known dissidents, including artist Ai Weiwei and activists of the New Citizens' Movement, a group that has called on Chinese leaders to publicly disclose their wealth, and his case has attracted wide concern in the West. Pu said he had received the formal notification from the Beijing City Judicial Bureau that his lawyer's licence had been revoked. He declined further comment, saying he was not supposed to accept interviews. Calls to the judicial bureau seeking comment went unanswered. Fellow rights lawyer and friend Shang Baojun said the disbarment had been expected since Pu's conviction in December, because a person found guilty of a criminal offence is not allowed to practice law. “Unless one day his conviction is overturned, then he'll never be allowed to practice law again. It's really the end of his career,” Shang said. The charges against Pu were based on seven microblog posts that he had published online, criticising the government's ethnic policy in the troubled western region of Xinjiang and several officials, according to his lawyers. The news of the disbarment comes as the US State Department criticised Beijing's “severe” crackdown against lawyers and law firms handling cases that authorities consider politically sensitive. China has always strongly denied accusations of human rights abuses, saying people like Pu are punished because they break the law and that nobody in China is above the law. China has also criticised the United States for ignoring its own human rights problems, such as racism and police brutality. ^ top ^

El Nino nuisance (Global Times)
2016-04-14
The weather in China has been a tale of two extremes in the past few weeks, with continuous heavy rain in southern China and sustained drought in the north. Observers linked the recent bad weather with the prolonged El Nino phenomenon, which is being boosted by climate change. Experts warned that climate change and radical weather will become more common and powerful in the future, with all countries needing to work to lessen its impact. Southern China including Guangdong, Guizhou, Jiangxi and Hunan provinces have witnessed heavy rainstorms since late March, and the rainfall in many regions has reached double the historical average, according to en.weather.com.cn, a public weather service under the China Meteorological Administration. Shenzhen International Airport issued this year's first red alert on March 22 due to heavy rain, which caused the cancellation of more than 200 flights, stranding 6,000 passengers. Away from the soaked south, the temperature in much of northern China reached nearly 30 C last week, a new high for this year. Due to a shortage of rainfall, provinces such as Henan and Shaanxi are facing drought. Globally, due to El Nino, countries along the Lancang-Mekong River have been hit with droughts since the end of 2015, and China has been discharging water since April to those affected countries. El Nino is the name given to an interaction between the ocean and atmosphere that causes a band of warm water to appear in the east-central Equatorial Pacific, changing temperatures and rainfall in many countries. It occurs one every two to seven years. Yang Fuqiang, a senior advisor on climate and energy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the Global Times that dramatic climate change has aggravated the 2015-16 El Nino. "As climate change grows stronger in the future, China will be among the countries that are hardest hit by its impact," Yang said. China's flood control authorities warned in late March that heavy floods are very likely on the Yangtze River this summer due to the prolonged El Nino effect. The ongoing El Nino, which began in September 2014 and is expected to come to an end in May, is quite similar to the one which triggered the heavy flooding of the Yangtze in 1998 that killed 1,320, the Xinhua News Agency reported. According to Yang, the changing climate has led to a fast increase in temperatures, which could cause changes to the virulence of some bacteria and viruses. "Human health will be threatened by more aggressive bacteria and virus, and we will also encounter some new viruses," Yang said. Worsening climate change also threatens China's scarce water resources, as glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, a vital water catchment area for China's major lakes and rivers, accelerate their meling, Li Yan, head of climate and energy at Greenpeace China, told the Global Times. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau glaciers have shrunk from 53,000 square kilometers to 45,000 square kilometers in the past 30 years, Xinhua reported in 2014. Other negative impacts China may face include increased smog, worse harvests and more severe natural disasters, such as typhoons, experts said. According to Li, climate change is closely linked to human activities after the Industrial Revolution, which led to global warming through the release of greenhouse gases. China, the biggest producer of the most common greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, should shoulder more responsibility in reducing it, experts said. China has taken series of measures to cut coal use and develop clean energy in the past several years, and has closed down about 1,000 coal mines nationwide, media reported. Meanwhile, China needs to plan ahead for increasingly common and stronger radical weather conditions, such as improving the nation's drought resistance capability and using more flood-resistant materials in construction projects, especially in poverty-stricken areas which are the first and hardest hit in disasters, Li said. Experts agree that global climate change needs international cooperation to reduce its impact. Wang Gengchen, a research fellow with the Insitute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times that the signing of the Paris deal on April 22, which mandates a worldwide action plan to limit global warming to 2 C, will significantly help control greenhouse gas emissions all around the world. About 130 countries expressed their support for the deal, according to the UN. "The signing shows that the majority of countries in the world finally agreed that human activities have led to climate change," Wang said. ^ top ^

Same-sex marriage ruling 'unjust': plaintiff (Global Times)
2016-04-14
A 27-year-old man who is the first in China to file a lawsuit to register his same-sex marriage said he will appeal after a local court in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province dismissed his claim on Wednesday. "China's law and regulation on marriage clearly stipulate that the parties in a marriage are a man and a woman, and the registration application filed by the two men obviously does not meet the requirement," the Furong district court in Changsha announced on its website. Sun Wenlin, the plaintiff, told the Global Times that he will appeal the ruling, which he said was "unjust and unfair," as no specific law or regulation bans same-sex marriage in China. "Though the chance of winning is slim, at least we are trying, and it's better than doing nothing," Sun's lawyer Shi Fulong told the Global Times on Wednesday. Shi added that his client will file the application after receiving the court's verdict, which will be formally delivered within 10 days. Sun said that he and his 37-year-old partner will keep fighting, even if the appeal is dismissed. He said they will file their marriage application at the local office every year on June 23, the day they first met, until they are finally legally married. The case was first filed in Furong district court on December 16, 2015 after Sun's marriage registration application was turned down by an official at the Furong bureau of civil affairs, who said that only "one man and one woman" can register as a married couple. The bureau's marriage registration department has not replied to an interview request from the Global Times. Sun's case is the first instance in which someone has sought to secure marriage to a same-sex partner through the courts in China, said Shi, adding that the case is the first step in encouraging the country to include the LGBT community within the scope of the law. Several nongovernmental organizations advocating equal rights for LGBT groups, including Guangzhou-based LGBT Rights Advocacy China and Beijing-based Common Language, told the Global Times on Wednesday that they fully support Sun's appeal, as the voices of the LGBT community need to be heard and addressed. Xu Bin, director of Common Language, noted that many sexual and gender minorities have publicly voiced their rights and have legally fought for them, which is both inspiring and significant because it urges the government and society to treat LGBT people equally and to stop discriminatory actions. An increasing number of people in China seem to be coming to accept homosexuality. An online poll conducted by well-known sexologist Li Yinhe in 2011 found that only 453,373 respondents supported same-sex marriage while 5 million opposed it, online news outlet 163.com reported. But an ongoing poll conducted by the website found that as of press time on Wednesday 73 percent of 23,630 respondents support gay marriage. ^ top ^

China punishes hundreds of officials over vaccine scandal (SCMP)
2016-04-14
Mainland authorities have sacked or demoted 357 officials and arrested 202 suspects in connection with a scandal in Shandong that has prompted fears over the private distribution of vaccines. The central government has also announced the tightening of regulations regarding private market vaccines, and said it intends to bring all vaccines under centralised procurement procedures like vaccines administered under public programmes. The administration has come under fire after it was revealed a 47-year-old woman, charged in connection with illegally traded vaccines, had bought and sold vaccines worth a total of 570 million yuan (HK$684 million) since 2010. The case involved 300 dealers in 24 provinces. The woman was arrested in April last year, but the case was made public only in February. The vaccines – for use by children and adults – had been produced by licensed manufacturers. But the vaccines, some of which were near their expiry date, had not been properly stored or transported at the required cold temperature, raising fears they might be ineffective. A statement from Wednesday's State Council meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang said a total of 192 criminal cases had been established regarding the Shandong vaccine scandal and 202 people had been placed under criminal arrest. Another 357 officials had been removed from their position or demoted and some were to face legal action. The officials were from the national health commission, the China Food and Drug Administration, and 17 provincial and city governments. “Vaccine safety is critical to children's life and health, it is a red line that cannot be messed around with,” China Central Television quoted the State Council as ­saying. The State Council said it would increase punishments, including fines, and ban individuals from operating any vaccine business if they illegally sold or transported vaccines. A spokesman with the National Health and Family Planning Commission added they were working with food and drug administrators to develop a long-term strategy to ban all sales, transport and distribution of vaccines without permits. This included tasking provincial disease prevention and control organisations with the purchase of all vaccines. Distribution to providers would be handled by county-level disease prevention and control organisations. Under the strategy, the source of all vaccines would be traceable in a national database and manufacturers, merchandisers and distributors would all need to provide a full set of permits. The rules would require anyone storing or transporting vaccines to keep full records of temperature conditions. ^ top ^

Chinese scientists edit genes to resist HIV in embryos (Global Times)
2016-04-13
A group of Chinese scientists have revealed that they genetically modified human embryos to make them HIV-resistant, a controversial move that may reignite an ethics debate but otherwise shows China's ambition to take the lead in gene-editing research. Researchers at Guangzhou Medical University in China have altered an immune gene in human embryos using a technique known as CRISPR-Cas9, according to a paper published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics on April 6. "We used flawed embryos that were not viable for fertility treatment," Fan Yong, the paper's lead author, said in a statement sent to the Global Times Tuesday. Fan said the research had been approved by the ethics committee of the Third Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, adding that all the embryos were destroyed after three days. The result of the experiment was only partially successful as only four of the 26 embryos were successfully modified and some embryos showed unplanned mutations. The team's major progress is the use of CRISPR to successfully introduce a precise genetic modification, George Daley, a US stem-cell biologist, was quoted by the journal Nature as saying on Friday. This is the second Chinese team to have sparked global deliberation about the ethics of such experiments. In a research paper published in April 2015, Chinese scientists described how they were able to manipulate the genomes of human embryos for the first time. Huang Junjiu, a gene-function researcher at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, described, along with his team, how they used the CRISPR-Cas9 technique to modify the genomes of embryos obtained from a fertility clinic, AFP reported. "Generally speaking, the technology can be applied to treat all diseases caused by inherited variation, including cancers," Han Bin, director of the National Center for Gene Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), told the Global Times. Critics worry that altering genes this way is a slippery slope that ultimately results in "designer babies." "This is the first step on a path that scientists have carefully mapped out toward the legalization of [genetically modified] babies," David King, of anti-gene manipulation group Human Genetics Alert, was quoted by the Associated Press (AP) as saying in February. However, some scientists argued that the technique applied to non-viable human embryos can be defended ethically. "Such research paves the way to treatment … More importantly, the immature technique is too early for clinical uses … The abnormal embryos in the experiment are unable to grow," Qiu Renzong, the first Chinese laureate for the Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science, told China Science Daily in 2015. […] Fan noted that their and Huang's research has given Chinese scientists a head start in the fierce international competition. Instead of following other countries' stance over those sensitive issues in science, the Chinese government should carefully formulate their own standards and regulations, Han said. Laws and guidelines vary widely across the world about what type of research is allowed on embryos. In the US, research on human embryos cannot be funded by the National Institutes of Health, AP reported. The UK's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, granted its first license for the genetic modification of human embryos in February as part of research into infertility and why miscarriages happen. "We advocate preventing any application of genome editing on the human germline until after a rigorous and thorough evaluation and discussion are undertaken by the global research and ethics communities," the researchers wrote in their paper. […] ^ top ^

Barriers still exist for women to lead in key research (China Daily)
2016-04-13
Women's numbers may have sharply increased on university campuses and in graduate schools in recent years, but they are yet to become a force when it comes to higher studies in science and large government-sponsored research projects. While their growing base number as science students does help, they still have to overcome the 2,000-year-old social bias against women and make smart choices for themselves and their families. The winning solution for women still seems to be in "getting either a good husband or a good assistant", says Li Peng, a woman professor at the School of Life Sciences of Tsinghua University, one of the country's top universities for science and technology. And since that is not covered by government grants or the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), the change has to be brought about by women themselves. The number of women applying for higher science and technology courses has been continuously increasing since the early years of reform and opening-up. In fact, more women than men have been enrolled in general colleges since 2009, according to Ceiea.com, an information website affiliated to Ministry of Education. The dominant numbers of female students expanded from language and arts colleges to business administration and theoretical science schools, and then to engineering and technology majors, or what were referred to as the "monks' community" until the beginning of this century. In 2015, women made up 40 percent of the undergraduate students in Guangzhou-based South China University of Technology. […] According to a white paper on gender equality, published by the State Council, or China's Cabinet, in 2014 women made up 52.1 percent of the undergraduate students, 51.6 percent of the post-graduate students, and 36.9 percent of the PhD candidates in institutions of higher learning. And figures from China Association for Science and Technology show that by the end of 2013, women accounted for nearly 39 percent of the 70 million or so "scientific and technological workers" in the country. At the Shanghai Engineering Center for Microsatellites, one-fourth of the research staff in Jin Feng's department are women. Jin, a specialist in electromagnetic and microwave technologies, says that not many years ago, the department lacked even the basic necessities for women to take up research projects. "Back in the 1970s and 1980s, traveling with a male colleague could be a difficult proposition. Some places did not even have a lavatory for women," Jin said. That, fortunately, is no longer the case. While the material conditions and facilities can improve fast, ideas and habits don't, Jin laments. […] A report published by the Academy of Science of South Africa in October 2015 - arguably the first comprehensive global survey of science academies and gender relations - women account for only 12 percent of the total members in 69 national science academies; their proportion was as low as 6 percent in mathematics and 5 percent in engineering. The national science academies of South American and African countries have the highest percentage of woman members, ranging from 19 percent to 27 percent. European countries and the United States rank in the middle with 10 percent or more woman members. Despite having a large number of female college students and research workers, China is in the lower range in the survey, with a mere 6 percent of its top-level researchers being women. Wang Zhizhen, a biophysicist and member of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences, argues that such a situation prevails not because women are less competent or intellectually less qualified, but because they "tend to be affected more easily by social and cultural factors". In contrast to female students comprising the majority in colleges, Wang says, women account for only 8 to 10 percent of all professors and are leading only 5 percent of the national research projects. It is still difficult, it seems, for China's woman scientists to find both an understanding husband and a supportive environment in the workplace. ^ top ^

Social security payment cuts on way (China Daily)
2016-04-12
China will cut social security payment requirements to lower the burden on businesses, and increase efforts to stabilize employment, Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday. "The government will support various localities, in light of their local conditions, to reduce contributions to the five major insurance programs and housing provident funds," Li said at a forum in Beijing on the national economic situation. He added that this will be conducted "in a step-by-step fashion and under a unified national framework". The five major programs cover endowment, medical insurance, unemployment, employment injuries and maternity insurance. Under the current arrangement, employers must pay just over 39 percent of their payrolls into the five social insurance programs. Li's remarks follow his promise at the end of the national legislative session in March, when he said local governments would be authorized to cut this percentage adequately. No specific measures were announced on Monday, but Li said that a national guideline on the change will be available very soon. Zeng Xiangquan, head of the School of Human Resources at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said China's social insurance programs are among the world's most expensive, meaning excessively heavy burdens for enterprises and workers. "Lowering the percentage is an important way to implement supply-side structural reform," Zeng said. "It aims to relieve the burden on enterprises and local governments." ^ top ^

80 per cent of groundwater in China's major river basins is unsafe for humans, study reveals (SCMP)
2016-04-12
About 80 per cent of groundwater in the mainland's major river basins is unsafe for human contact, a survey by the Ministry of Water Resources has found. The ministry last year tested 2,103 wells in the basins of the Yangtze, Yellow River, Huai River and Hai River, finding that exploitation and pollution from industrial and agricultural emissions were the biggest threats to water standards. The results, which covered 18 provinces, were released on the ministry's website yesterday, the first time it has published water quality information in its monthly update – previously it has included only data such as depth and quantity. While nitrate pollution was a common and major cause of concern, in some regions groundwater was contaminated by toxic heavy metals and organic pollutants, which are more difficult to remove. Nearly half – 47.3 per cent – of wells tested were found to have fifth grade, or “extremely bad”, water quality and about a third had fourth grade, or “bad” water quality. None of the wells had “excellent” water quality. Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said fourth- or fifth-grade groundwater was so polluted it was no longer safe for human ­contact. The severe contamination of shallow groundwater systems was a result of pollution in rivers and lakes from industrial and agricultural emissions, said Ma. The water ministry's finding that about 80 per cent of groundwater nationwide was polluted was significantly higher than the 60 per cent figure released previously by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The environment ministry's data was calculated from nearly 4,900 monitoring sites in 202 ­cities. It was not clear whether the two ministries' monitoring sites overlapped. The difference between the two ministries highlights a chronic problem in the environmental management of the country's water resources – the ministries for land, environment, and water are often in dispute over regulatory ­responsibilities. Critics say the groundwater quality standards are outdated and monitoring is insufficient, suggesting that surveys may not reflect the full scale of ­pollution. For instance, the two-decade old standards do not cover petrochemical pollutants. ^ top ^

China's drinking water not threatened, ministry says (China Daily)
2016-04-12
China's deep underground drinking water sources are safe, an official at the Ministry of Water Resources said on Monday in response to a news report suggesting that more than 80 percent of the water in China's aquifers is too polluted for human consumption. The official, Chen Mingzhong, said monitoring does not show that underground sources of drinking water are threatened, since most of the country's water for human consumption is extracted from deep underground, not near the surface. Monitoring by the ministry shows that 85 percent of the 1,817 groundwater sources used to extract drinking water meets quality standards, and the 33 sources that supply drinking water to cities with a population larger than 500,000 all meet water quality standards, Chen said. Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a non-governmental environmental protection organization, said most cities in China are using water from deep underground - which is not easily contaminated - for drinking. "However, many people in rural areas are still drinking shallow groundwater. Contamination could affect them," he said. Incidents of water contamination have increased over the past several years, with more than 1,700 reported annually. At least 140 million urban people have been affected. According to the report released by the ministry last week, groundwater quality is far from satisfying. Water in one-third of the non-drinking-water wells monitored was classified as Type IV, which is suitable only for industrial or entertainment purposes. Water in 47 percent of the wells was listed as Type V, referring to more polluted water suitable only for agriculture or landscaping. The ministry's report captured public attention after National Business Daily said more than 80 percent of China's groundwater is threatened by pollution. The ministry's finding was based on its monitoring of water in more than 2,100 wells - none of them used for drinking water - in various places in China. The effort began last year. Areas monitored included the Songliao Plain in the northeast, Huang-huai-hai Plain in the north, Jianghan Plain in Central China and basins and plains in the west. Data from the Ministry of Land and Resources show that among 657 Chinese cities, more than 400 were using groundwater for drinking. More than 70 percent of people nationwide drink groundwater. ^ top ^

Chinese transgender man files suit against employer (Global Times)
2016-04-12
China's first labor arbitration case filed by a transgender man was opened Monday in a local arbitration commission in Guiyang, Southwest China's Guizhou Province, amid increasing action by China's sexual and gender minority groups to defend their rights under the law. The defendant, the Guiyang branch of Ciming Checkup - a healthcare company - has agreed to pay the transgender plaintiff, who identified himself as Liu, around 1,600 yuan ($247) in salary and compensation, Liu's lawyer Huang Sha told the Global Times on Monday. Liu, 29, who was born physically female but identifies himself as male, was fired one week after he was hired by Ciming last year. He filed a case with the local arbitration commission on March 7, seeking a week's salary and compensation for financial losses caused by the dismissal. Liu has demanded compensation of 2,643 yuan and a public apology from the company. "I am not doing this only for myself, but also for all those who might face employment discrimination, such as those who are pregnant or disabled," Liu told the Global Times. The arbitration commission's final ruling will be announced by the end of April. Ciming was unavailable for comment as of press time. According to Huang, the company has insisted throughout the arbitration process that they fired Liu because he was not qualified for the job. Quoting the head of Ciming's human resources department, the Xinhua News Agency reported in March that the company fired Liu because they thought he was gay and his sartorial choices were "incompatible" with the company's image. "The arbitration is expected to encourage more people - including but not limited to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community - who face discrimination during their employment to stand up and defend themselves," Xu Bin, the director of Common Language, a Beijing-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) that advocates equal rights for LGBT groups, told the Global Times. Xu also hopes that the arbitration of Liu's case will promote legislation against employment discrimination in China. According to a report published by Chinese nonprofit organization Aibai Culture and Education Center, the LGBT community in China still struggles with social stigma among employers and peers, as many people have yet to accept the group, Xinhua reported. However, more and more LGBT people are seeking legal approaches to raise social awareness and defend their legitimate rights to employment and marriage. In the latest example, a local court in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province will hear the country's first lawsuit on same-sex marriage rights on Wednesday. ^ top ^

Shark sales show laxity in animal protection (Global Times)
2016-04-11
Photos of endangered sharks on sale at a fish market in South China's Hainan Province went viral over the weekend, indicating underperformance in protecting endangered species in the South China Sea. Around 100 scalloped hammerhead sharks, an endangered species, were spotted piled up for sale at a price of 30 yuan ($4.6) per kilogram at a fish market in Sanya, Hainan on Saturday, local media Hinews reported. "It's illegal to kill and trade hammerhead sharks without permission, as China is a signatory to CITES," Xie Yan, who served as director of the China program of the Wildlife Conservation Society from 2005 to 2014, told the Global Times Sunday. The scalloped hammerhead shark, a commercially valuable shark species exploited extensively for its fins, was included in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2013. "Although CITES has listed the hammerhead sharks as an endangered species, their protection may still lack legal basis in China, as sharks are not included in the list of endangered and protected species of China," said Wang Yamin, a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and an assistant professor at Shandong University. Sharks are not the only endangered sea species that are being rampantly poached and sold in China. In 2015, the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) warned of a rise in the poaching of wild coral, saying that it had detained 80 suspects and confiscated red coral worth over 100 million yuan since March 2014. According to the CCG's statement, with a mature, illegal industry covering poaching, procurement, processing and sales, the price of red coral in China has been increasing by 30 percent annually over the past 10 years, while more than 140 vessels used in the red coral trade were impounded. Ocean World, a Beijing-based magazine, said in a 2013 report on its website that more than 100,000 turtles of all species had been killed since 1959 in the South China Sea and five species in China are now facing extinction. Environmental pollution and excessive fishing in recent years means the number of turtles in China has dropped dramatically, with fewer than 2,000 adult green turtles living in the South China Sea, news website thepaper.cn reported in March. "Although China's Wildlife Law has clauses on illegal hunting and trading of endangered species, many frontline law enforcers are not fully aware of the issue, and can't tell the difference between protected species and ordinary sea animals," Wang said, adding that law enforcers should be better educated in the law and zoology. Marine animal protection in China is facing big challenges due to the country's weak law enforcement capacity, Xie said. China currently has over 300,000 power-driven fishing boats, but only some 1,000 law enforcement vessels, so it is hard to make a dent in the illegal marine wildlife trade, Wang said. Despite the fact that endangered animals in Appendix II of CITES are usually listed as class II protected species in China, there is no specific law stipulating this, which may cause problems when it comes to law enforcement, Wang said. "China's current animal protection laws are not really workable, and its compatibility with international laws still needs to be improved," Wang said. China's current Wildlife Law is not fully fit for purpose, as it lacks clear supervision measures and effective punishments for illegal use and management of wild animals, Wang Hongju, deputy head of the Environment Protection and Resources Conservation of the National People's Congress (NPC) was quoted as saying by the Xinhua News Agency in December 2015. A draft to amend the current Wildlife Law was submitted for its first reading at the bimonthly session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee in December 2015, marking the first amendment to the law since it came into force in 1989.  ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang raises reward for valuable terrorism tips to 5 million yuan (Global Times)
2016-04-12
Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has pledged to reward people who provide information on potential terrorist attacks up to 5 million yuan ($772,500), according to the regional government on Monday. Whistle-blowers who give information to the public security department or the commission of political and legal affairs at all levels on schemed attacks, abductions, assassinations, poisoning, blasts and key infrastructure destruction can receive a reward of from 200,000 to 5 million yuan, said the regulation. If the information greatly helps police uncover terrorist plots and successfully aborts them, 5 million yuan is "within reason," Zhang Xiucheng, deputy head of the regional commission of political and legal affairs, told the Global Times on Monday, refusing to disclose more details about the reward criteria. If people report terrorist tendencies in the field affecting social stability, safe production, religion and Internet public opinion, they will receive a reward of less than 200,000 yuan, the regulation added. This is the first provincial regulation focusing on terrorist leads, China Central Television reported. In 2014, Urumqi, the regional capital, introduced a regulation on tips on potential hazards to society, including separatist and illegal religious activities, but the reward was up to 1 million yuan. Compared with the city regulation, the regional one focuses on the consequential clues to planned terrorist attacks, Zhang said. "Considering that only a few local governments formulated such rules, the regulation that covers the whole region has standardized all local regulations and expanded its application sphere," Turgunjan Tursun, a research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. Tursun added that it has also prevented local governments from hesitating to promote similar rules, some of which were removed from their websites soon after being released. In Shaya county, Aksu prefecture, authorities offered a reward of up to 50,000 yuan to local residents who provide information. Such incentives also appeared on the official website of Habahe county, Altay prefecture and a district of Urumqi in 2013. Higher reward offered by the provincial government shows the police attaches greater importance to intelligence collection among the public, as many used to doubt the ability of security agencies to gather information, said Tursun. Most terrorist plots in Xinjiang have been foiled in the planning stage, said a white paper issued by the State Council Information Office in 2015. Xinjiang has recently been the scene of riots and terrorist attacks. The July 2009 riots in Urumqi killed 197, injured over 1,700, and the terrorist attack in Shache county, Kashgar Prefecture in July 2014 claimed 37 lives and injured 13, the Xinhua News Agency reported. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong Occupy co-founder awarded German democracy prize (SCMP)
2016-04-15
Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, a co-founder of the Occupy Central movement, has become the first Chinese to be awarded the Pfarrer-Georg-Fritze Memorial Gift for his 30-year contribution to the democratic movement in Hong Kong. Chu said he hoped the award would give a boost to the city's young people, many of whom were left frustrated after the unprecedented sit-ins in 2014 failed to bear fruit. “The accolade should be bestowed to all Hongkongers,” Chu told the Post on Thursday before he boarded a flight to Germany for the prize ceremony on Sunday. “The award is a recognition of the movement and I hope society will be encouraged and understand that our efforts will not be wasted.” The Pfarrer-George-Fritze Memorial Gift, founded in 1981, is delivered by the Evangelical Church District of Cologne, Germany, every two years to a person or an organisation that had made a special effort in standing up for victims of dictatorship and violence via peaceful means. The panel chose Chu not only for his decades-long devotion to the city's pro-democracy drive but also his efforts in helping dissidents in the wake of the Tiananmen Square bloody crackdown in 1989. In his acceptance speech, Chu planned to raise his worries over the case of the missing Hong Kong booksellers – an incident he said reflected how the city's freedoms were at stake. The 72-year-old pastor said it was meaningless for the authorities to only criticise the growing number of young people who advocate Hong Kong independence. “The people's views are not being listened to right now. [The deadlock] will not be resolved until Beijing shows sincerity to address the problem,” he said. While some new post-Occupy groups have taken a more radical if not violent approach in advocating the democracy drive following the sit-ins, Chu warned violence was not the solution. “Successful social movements around the world have all adopted peaceful means,” he said. “Violence will never beat the force of authority. Only love can reconcile violence.” Sociologist Dr Chan Kin-man – who co-founded Occupy Central with Chu and legal academic Benny Tai Yiu-ting – said he hoped the award would let Hongkongers know that even though the sit-ins failed to alter the Beijing-decreed political reform blueprint, the movement served a valuable purpose. “The outcome of a movement is not simply judged by its impact on immediate policy change, but also whether its spirits managed to sustain … the [Occupy movement] has awakened a whole generation of people,” he said. ^ top ^

Itching to filibuster: radical Hong Kong lawmakers submit nearly 2,000 amendments to halt city's 2016-17 budget (SCMP)
2016-04-14
Radical lawmakers have submitted around 2,000 amendments to filibuster the 2016-17 budget which they claim neglects the needs of the city's disadvantaged while favouring the wealthy. The move came as lawmakers began debating the government blueprint on Wednesday. So far, the Legco secretariat has received 2,169 amendments to this year's budget. The majority came from three radical lawmakers: People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen and League of Social Democrats' “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung. The People Power duo put forward 460 amendments, while Leung submitted 1,500. Albert Chan described the budget this year as “even more unfair than past years”, particularly for low-income earners, and continuing to “favour the wealthy and powerful”. He cited the absence of a public housing rent waiver in the financial blueprint as an example of its imbalance. The People Power lawmakers demanded the government give a HK$10,000 cash handout to all the city's residents as well as set up a fund for a universal pension scheme in light of the city's large fiscal reserves. Despite vowing to delay the bill's passage, the lawmakers conceded their move was unlikely to be effective, saying Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing would likely put an end to their filibustering around May. “It may not be effective but to not protest would be even more shameful,” Albert Chan said. So far, none of the parties in the pan-democratic camp have indicated they would join in the filibustering, with that Democratic Party's Sin Chung-kai stating that his party would not do so. During the budget debate on Wednesday, lawmakers from across the political divide criticised the blueprint for failing to tackle pressing problems in the city. Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan slammed the budget for being the same as previous years, while calling the financial minister “stingy”. Starry Lee Wai-king of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said the budget could have done more to resolve social tensions, but stated her party would still support it. ^ top ^

Mainland China jails activists who supported Hong Kong democracy protests (SCMP)
2016-04-08
Mainland China on Friday sentenced an activist who supported pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong to 4½ years in jail, his lawyer said. Wang Mo was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” by the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court, his lawyer Chen Keyun said. Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong province, just across the border from the former colonial city. Wang was among five people sentenced by mainland courts for the offence on Friday, according to lawyers and activists. The student-led mass rallies in 2014 brought parts of Hong Kong to a standstill for 79 days as residents called for fully free elections for future leaders, but failed to win any concessions from the Hong Kong or central governments. Wang held banners in Guangzhou in support of the protests, as did Xie Wenfei, who overseas activists said received the same sentence in the court. Beijing has tightened control over civil society, detaining or interrogating more than 200 human rights lawyers and activists in what analysts have called one of the biggest crackdowns on dissent in years. Three other activists were jailed for one to four years for inciting subversion in other ways, lawyers said. Liang Qinhui was jailed for 18 months for posting images and messages critical of the leadership and political system online, his lawyer Wu Kuiming said. Xu Zhiqiang, a Buddhist monk also known as Master Shengguan, who has frequently advocated for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown and called on officials to disclose their assets, was jailed for four years in Wuhan, his lawyer said. Huang Jingyi was jailed for two years by the same court. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Beijing has 'legal right' to demand Kenya deport Taiwanese fraud suspects (SCMP)
2016-04-15
Beijing had legal grounds to ask Kenyan authorities to deport Taiwanese fraud suspects to the mainland, legal experts say, but it could have avoided controversy over its handling of the affair by showing more respect and better communication with Taipei. Forty-five Taiwanese, together with 32 mainlanders in Kenya, were sent to the mainland as authorities investigate their alleged ­involvement in phone scams targeting victims on the mainland. The deportations attracted criticism, though legal ­experts said Beijing's handling of the case was supported by international laws. “Despite the fact the crime was committed in Kenya, the victims are in mainland China. Therefore the mainland's jurisdiction is recognised by the territorial principle in international law, in which the state can exercise its jurisdiction based on the nationality of the victims,” Xue Lei, an international law expert at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said. “It is the common handling of transnational criminal cases like this in international law.” His view was echoed by Justin Chen, vice-president of the ­Taipei-based Cross-Strait Policy Association, who said it was natural for Kenya to deport the suspects to the mainland as Nairobi, which has diplomatic ties with Beijing, considered Taiwan part of China. “Kenya and China, both of which are parties of the Palermo Convention, have the obligation to cooperate in [transnational] organised crime,” said Simon Young, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong. “On the other hand, there is no extradition agreement between Taiwan and Kenya.” The Palermo accord was adopted by the United Nations in 2000 with the aim of promoting cross-border cooperation in tackling organised crime. Huang Feng, dean of the Institute for International Criminal Law at Beijing Normal University, told Xinhua on Thursday that Taiwan was never involved in investigating the fraud case. The case was being jointly investigated by the mainland and Kenya. So Beijing had the right to ask Kenya to repatriate the Taiwanese, Huang said. Among the 45 Taiwanese, 23 had been cleared of charges of telecommunications fraud by a court in Kenya. “Just because they have been acquitted in Kenya doesn't mean that they can walk away free from mainland Chinese law,” Xue said. Beijing has also come under criticism for lack of communication with the Taiwanese authorities. “The mainland government has shown no respect for Taiwan, and it is totally unacceptable that the family members still have not been able to see the suspects,” Taichung-based attorney Chen Han-chou said. “This is a basic human right even if they have committed a crime.” ^ top ^

'Indignant' Taiwan to send officials to Beijing to negotiate release of nationals deported from Kenya for alleged phone scam (SCMP)
2016-04-13
Taiwan will send senior officials to negotiate with Beijing authorities over 45 Taiwanese nationals it claims were “abducted” to the mainland from Kenya, the island's mainland affairs chief said on Wednesday. The decision came as Beijing insisted that it had jurisdiction in dealing with the case as the Taiwanese were suspects in a telecommunication fraud case on the mainland. Andrew Hsia Li-yan, chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, told parliament in Taipei that the adminstration of mainland-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou was “extremely indignant” over the case. “We will try our best to group vice-ministerial officials or department heads from the MAC, Justice Ministry, Criminal Police Department, and the Straits Exchange Foundation to go to the mainland in the next two or three days to negotiate with the mainland authorities over the case,” Hsia said. The 45 Taiwanese were among a large group of Chinese arrested in Kenya for alleged involvement in phone scams targeting victims on the mainland. SSWe will try our best to group vice-ministerial officials or department heads... to go to the mainland Andrew Hsia, chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council Eight of the Taiwanese were released after being cleared of charges by a Kenyan court, but were flown to Beijing on Monday, despite protests by Taiwan. On Tuesday, the mainland flew another 37 Taiwanese to Beijing after they were deported by Kenya. Beijing's action has shocked the Taiwanese public and officials, prompting an angry protest by Ma who demanded the immediate return of the Taiwanese. The Kenyan government said the people were in Kenya illegally and were being sent back to where they had come from. But Taiwan says Kenyan police used tear gas to put Taiwanese on plane to mainland China The mainland's Ministry of Public Security said in a statement released by Xinhua said that Kenya had decided to repatriate 32 mainlanders and 45 Taiwanese to the mainland, of whom 10 had already arrived and while the remaining 67 were due to land on Wednesday. The ministry said the Taiwanese had been heavily involved in telecoms fraud on the mainland, causing huge losses, with some victims allegedly killing themselves. The group detained in Kenya had operated out of the capital Nairobi and were suspected of cheating victims out of millions of yuan in nine mainland provinces and cities and would be prosecuted there, it added. Taiwan had been informed of the situation and would invite Taiwan law enforcement officials to visit and discuss how best to tackle such fraud, the ministry said. An Fengshan, spokesman for the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, said Taipei needed to view the case rationally. “I hope the Taiwan side can give more thought to the victims when it looks at this issue,” An told a news conference broadcast on mainland television. Beijing views Taiwan as a renegade province reunificiation, and has not ruled out the use of force to reclaim the island. Defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island in 1949 after the civil war with the Communists who have remained in control in Beijing. Both sides claim to the be the rightful rulers of the whole of China. Only 22 countries recognise Taiwan as the Republic of China, with most, including Kenya, having diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. ^ top ^

Taiwan says it will not join Beijing-led AIIB after rejecting condition that 'violates dignity' (SCMP)
2016-04-13
Taiwan said on Tuesday it would not join the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) because the condition it was set violates the island's dignity and the principal of equality. The decision came after AIIB president Jin Liqun said in a Hong Kong forum on April 7 that if Taiwan wanted to join the bank, it must follow the Hong Kong model in having China's Ministry of Finance apply on its behalf in line with the bank charter. “We cannot accept such a model,” Taiwan's finance minister Chang Sheng-ford told reporters on Tuesday, adding that Taiwan would never join the AIIB under such a condition. “It hurts not only our national dignity, but also violates the principle of dignity.” Taiwan had long-hoped to join the AIIB as one of the founding members last year under the title of “Chinese-Taipei”, but its bid to apply for founding membership was rejected. Mainland officials later said Taiwan was still welcome to join as long as it applied under an appropriate title. Chang said the outgoing government of mainland-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou would not want to join the AIIB under such a model, but it would up to the incoming government of President-elect Tsai Ing-wen to decide whether or not to apply. Tsai, who will assume office on May 20, and her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party have yet to respond to the latest development. Taiwanese media said it was not immediately known if the requirement had anything to do with Beijing stepping up pressure on Tsai, who has vowed to maintain the cross-strait status quo, but also refused to accept the “one China” principle set by Beijing as the basis for future cross-strait talks and exchanges. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

US vows South Korea missile defence deployment 'going to happen'; Washington goads China to do more about North Korea (SCMP)
2016-04-09
Deployment of a new US missile-defence system to South Korea “is going to happen,” US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday, adding that China should do more to counter North Korea's missile development rather than complain about US plans. The United States and South Korea began talks on possible deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system after North Korea tested its fourth nuclear bomb on January 6 and launched a long-range rocket on February 7. China agreed to tough new UN sanctions on North Korea after the tests but has said it is “firmly opposed” to THAAD deployment, arguing that it will undermine its strategic deterrent. Asked at a New York seminar if the deployment would go ahead, Carter replied: “Oh, it's going to happen. It's a necessary thing. It's between us and the South Koreans; it's part of protecting our own forces on the Korean peninsula, and protecting South Korea. “(It) Has nothing to do with the Chinese, and I do wish the Chinese would work with us, or really work bilaterally with North Korea more effectively, although it's easy to say that - dealing with North Korea for anybody is a challenge - at heading off their missile challenge in the first place. “But we need to defend our own people, we need to defend our own allies, and we are going to do that,” Carter told the Council on Foreign Relations. China complains that the THAAD has a range that would extend far beyond the Korean peninsula and into China and deployment of the system would threaten its national security interests and damage regional strategic stability. US officials believe that China, as North Korea's neighbour and only major ally, is best placed to influence the isolated country, although some analysts believe this ability to push for change has waned in recent years. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

“Middle-term program is a basis for friendly relations and cooperation” (Montsame)
2016-04-14
The President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj Thursday received Mr S.V.Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russian Federation, at the “Ikh Tenger” complex. He greeted Mr Lavrov, offering him a snuff bottle, and thanked him for paying the official visit to Mongolia. He said Mongolia keeps friendly relations with neighboring Russia. He also noted that this year will see the 95th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic relations as well as the 400th anniversary of the first Consul of Russia to Mongolia. He is pleased with an establishment of a middle-term program on developing the Mongolia-Russia strategic partnership during Lavrov's visit. This document is a basis for bringing our friendly relations and cooperation into a newer volume. It will open extra opportunities to boost the bilateral ties in economy, finance, law and other spheres, Elbegdorj said. In turn, Mr Lavrov thanked the President for the warm audience in his House, and highlighted a significance of the middle-term program in broadening of the long-term traditional friendly relations. “Our relations are historical ties. We will never forget big assistance of Mongolians rendered to the former Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War,” Mr Lavrov said, then talked about the 95th anniversary of the diplomatic relations, 35th anniversary of the first joint space flight of Mongolia and Russia, 40th anniversary of Mongolian Erdenet city and 400th anniversary of the first Consulate of Russia in Mongolia. The President believes that an initiative on creating an economic corridor of Mongolia, Russia and China will be realized during a forthcoming meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to be held June in Tashkent of Uzbekistan. In response, Mr Lavrov thanked the Mongolian President for initiating the trilateral meeting of the Presidents of the three countries, and said Russia backs the initiative on the economic corridor. ^ top ^

Ch.Saikhanbileg PM meets Russian Foreign Minister (Montsame)
2016-04-14
The Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg Thursday received visiting Mr S.V.Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, in the State House. Mongolia-Russia trade and economic cooperation has gained some achievements recently, the Premier said and thanked the Russian side for supporting the bilateral ties in all sides, and expressed a satisfaction with an establishment of a middle-term programme on developing the strategic partnership. This programme will open a broad chance for the two countries to make their cooperation closer and to expand the economic ties, he underlined. After this the two dignitaries mutually emphasized that a ratification of an agreement on regulating financial responsibilities of Mongolia to Russia opened new opportunities in the bilateral financial and credit cooperation. Mr Saikhanbileg said Mongolia wants to launch SWAP agreement on exchanging currencies between the Central Banks of the two countries and to use national currencies in the bilateral trade. The Premier proposed concluding an intergovernmental agreement on railway transportation of transit freight with soft terms through Russian territories during an upcoming this summer trilateral meeting of the Mongolian, Russian and Chinese Presidents in Tashkent of Uzbekistan. Then he informed the guest about an implementation course of a project on the Eg River hydropower station. The Premier said Russian Buryatia has become a leading retailing region in the country after the visa-free regime came into force, and asked the Russian side to support us in advertising Mongolian goods and in mounting fairs in Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Kyzyl, Chita and Gorno-Altaisk cities, and to provide them with some favorable terms. In response, Mr Lavrov said his country is taking measures for liberation of prices of Mongolian goods when they enter the Russian market, and said he will oblige related officials to take actions for organizing the exhibitions and fairs. Russia will also back Mongolia's initiative on establishing a cooperation memorandum with the Eurasian Economic Union, Lavrov said. Russia intends to establish an intergovernmental agreement on the regional and trans-boundary cooperation, he added. The parties concurred to continue the cooperation in making joint factories and companies more fruitful. Present at the meeting were N.Battsereg, the Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism; D.Zorigt, the Minister of Energy; D.Gankhuyag, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; B.Delgermaa, the Ambassador of Mongolia to Russia; and D.Odkhuu, a director of the Eg River hydropower station.  ^ top ^

Model ASEM Summit to gather reps from 51 countries (Montsame)
2016-04-14
Within the 11th ASEM Summit to be held this July in Ulaanbaatar, its model Summit-2016 will run this July 6-10 in the capital city. It was reported on Thursday at a press conference at the MONTSAME agency's info-center. The Union of Mongolian Youths (UMY) will be the general organizer of the event, other organizers are the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Model Summit is supposed to bring together 150 delegates of 51 countries. The Model ASEM Summit is one of the biggest events for youths ahead of the ASEM Summit, aiming to provide youths with understanding and knowledge about the ASEM Summit and to increase youths' interests in ASEM. A registration of the model Summit's participants will continue until April 17. As of today, 180 students have applied for the event, 20 of them will represent Mongolia. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-04-12
The cabinet meeting on Monday discussed and then backed issues of opening the Embassy in Kyrgyzstan and the Consulates in Elista city of Russian Kalmykia Republic, in Shanghai of China and in Dubai city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These issues will be consulted with a related Standing committee of parliament. - The cabinet discussed a draft amendment to the law on VAT and considered as necessity to submit it to parliament after having reflected in it proposals of Ministers. - The cabinet backed recommendations to be delivered from the Cabinet Secretariat for Government to the presidiums of the Citizens' Representative Khurals (council) of Ulaanbaatar and provinces in connection with a report by S.Bayartsogt, a head of the Cabinet Secretariat, on works done in 2015. - An appendix was amended of a governmental resolution on taking some measures for structures and organization of state organizations and agencies in connection with altering a maximum number of staffers of the General Authority of Customs and Tax. The Minister of Finance B.Bolor was obliged to resolve an extra finance within the 2016 budget. - The cabinet backed an issue of signing the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. An order of the PM will be issued to authorize an official to sign the Paris Agreement after consulting with a related Standing committee of parliament. - In accordance with the cabinet decision, D.Chadraabal was appointed the General Consul of Mongolia to Ulan-Ude city of Russia. Current Consul Ts.Ganbold has been recalled. - The cabinet discussed a draft concept of the law on the public-private partnership and ordered the Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat and Justice Minister D.Dorligjav to approve the concept and formulate the bill. ^ top ^

General plan approved for realizing recommendations of UNHRC (Montsame)
2016-04-12
The cabinet meeting on Monday adopted a general plan for implementing recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for 2016-2019. The second report on human rights situation in Mongolia was reviewed at the 22nd meeting of the UNHRC's working group in May of 2015. As a result, Mongolia accepted 150 recommendations to implement out of 164 offered by the UNHRC members and observers. Very first plan of the recommendations' realization of 2012, classified without categories, determined relevant organs to implement, whereas this year's plan sorts 150 recommendations into 12 groups by contents. Specific measures are reflected in the plan as well. By this, basic guidelines for the recommendations' implementation will become clearer, and the realization will be evaluated easily. Moreover, the civil society monitoring system will be improved over the implementation, and relevant bodies will work out scrutinized plans for recommendations. ^ top ^

Feasibility studies of huge renewable energy project presented (Montsame)
2016-04-11
Mongolia is near to become an exporter of renewable energy. The “Shivee Energy” project is one of the planned governmental projects to be implemented with a purpose of increasing energy production. When the “Shivee Energy” project successfully starts, Mongolia will receive investments of 11 billion US dollars, twice as much as those for “Oyu Tolgoi” project, said D.Zorigt, the Minister of Energy, at a consultative meeting on the project's preliminary feasibility studies and Mongolia-China energy cooperation, which ran April 13 at the “Shangri-La” hotel in Ulaanbaatar. A power station of 9,240 MWT, a wind farm of 2,800 MWT, and a solar energy station of 1,200 MWT will be constructed. Moreover, a 1,300-km long electric overhead lines of 10,000+800 KWT and a mine of exploring 34 million tons of coal a year will be built. All this is to enable Mongolia to export a value-added and ready products, not a raw coal, the Minister emphasized. As estimated, the Shivee Ovoo's deposit, covering 29,500 hectares area and consisting of three parts, has 2,708.0 million tons of coal. Three and a half thous. permanent vacancies will be created, and 20 thousand people will be provided with jobs during an implementation of the project, which is co-managed by a unit of the “Shivee Energy” project unit and the “State Grid” Group of China (State Grid Corporation of China), the Minister said. The gathered for the consultative meeting underlined that it is vital to tackle permission for the project and to ensure a successful realization of the project by improving the correlations of state bodies. Economists emphasized that the related Ministry and its agencies "ought to satisfy the investors' requests for the sake of a good realization of the project". If the Mongolian side makes favorable conditions for the project, the construction is expected to start in 2017. According to the project, the construction will continue for four years, after which Mongolia would become an energy exporter by the year 2020, the Minister said. The consultative meeting gathered authorities of the “State Grid” Group who delivered speeches. ^ top ^

Premier concludes his visit to Hong Kong (Montsame)
2016-04-08
The Prime Minister of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg Friday gave an interview, concluding his visit to Hong Kong, a Special Administration Region of China, and a participation in the 19th Annual Asian Investment Conference (AAIC). Mr Saikhanbileg took part in the 19th AAIC as a general panelist, which took part April 5-8 in Hong Kong with a participation of some 600 high-level delegates, to give details about present situation of economy, financial and fiscal conditions, investments and business environment. Within the AAIC, the PM held meetings with some officials such as Mr Jin Liqun, the first president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), to share views on cooperation issues. The AIIB expressed a readiness to collaborate in the biggest projects on infrastructure in Mongolia. Furthermore, the sides concurred to co-organize an exhibition in Hong Kong to advertise Mongolia-made products and services. "One of the vital actions of the Mongolian government is to let people of Mongolia become owner of wealth from mineral resources and to create a fund of wealth by transmitting the 'Erdenes MGL' LLC into a Singaporean Temasek model. So we met with some investors who can collaborate with Mongolia in this work. The Nobel Fund and the Canada's Pension Fund have an interest in the issue. They proposed to cooperate with our government, in the first turn, in setting up a business-focused board independent from the government. To express my opinion, I gave interviews to CNN Asia, Bloomberg and Credit Suisse TV channels,” Saikhanbileg said. He also said he had exchanged views with Mr Leung Chun-ying, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, on attracting investors and businessmen to Mongolia for boosting innovation and technological spheres in Mongolia. The Hong Kong's side touched upon an issue of double-tax, saying it is possible to hold negotiations on it if investments from Hong Kong increase to Mongolia. The Premier emphasized that a purpose of his visit has been fulfilled successfully. He said investors are still interested in Mongolia, and that Mongolia managed to deliver its message that it is still friendly to foreign investors. ^ top ^

 

Mrs. Mirjam Eggli
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
Page created and hosted by SinOptic Back to the top of the page To SinOptic - Services and Studies on the Chinese World's Homepage