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

Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  2-6.5.16, No. 621  
Startseite / Homepage   Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

DPRK

Mongolia

^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Half of Americans still see China's rise as threat, survey suggests (SCMP)
2016-05-06
Half of Americans still believe China's emergence as a world power is a major threat to the United States, according to a new survey released by the Pew Research Centre on Friday. But Islamic State, refugees fleeing from Iraq and Syria and climate change were all ranked as more worrying in the survey, which polled more than 4,000 United States citizens. In the latest of a series of surveys published by Pew, attitudes towards China remain negative but stable as tensions in the South China Sea continue to pit the two superpowers against each other. “You're talking about people in a country that's used to being number one, that like to be number one and China's clearly challenging that number one position,” said David Zweig, an expert on China and international relations at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. About 55 per cent of United States citizens interviewed in the survey said they wanted the United States to remain the sole military superpower in the world, including 67 per cent of Republican voters. In addition, almost a quarter of interviewees said they saw China as an adversary to the United States, the same number as Russia. Both numbers haven't changed much in recent years, according to Pew. Zweig said a quarter of Americans seeing China as an adversary wasn't unsurprising, but it could be a problem in the future. “It's a problem when people tend not to trust each other, when they see negatives even when there aren't necessarily negatives,” he said. “I think that Chinese clearly believe America wants to contain China's rise... and if you ask a lot of Americans they see China as a bully, as a threat.” Zweig said that according to previous Pew surveys, attitudes to China in the United States had started to sour in 2012 following territorial tensions in the South China Sea and President Xi Jinping taking office. The Pew survey was conducted between April 4 and 19 this year. Fifty per cent of respondents said China's emergence as a world power was a major threat, 80 per cent cited Islamic State as a major fear and 55 per cent said they were threatened by the number of refugees leaving Syria and Iraq. ^ top ^

China says door for dialogue with Philippines always open (Xinhua)
2016-05-06
China said on Thursday the door for dialogue with the Philippines on the South China Sea is always open, refuting the country's argument that bilateral dialogue has come to an end. China and the Philippines have agreed a series of bilateral and multilateral documents to solve the South China Sea disputes through negotiation, but the Philippines abandoned its promises, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei at a daily press briefing. "China's door for dialogue with the Philippines is always open," Hong said. He said the two countries have had close contact and several rounds of consultation on trust, managing disputes and maritime cooperation yet the Philippines has never had any conversation with China on any of its appeals of the arbitration case. "The argument that 'bilateral dialogue has come to an end' is indeed another lie made up by the Philippines," said Hong. He reaffirmed that China is acting entirely in accordance with the law by not accepting nor participating in the arbitration, which was unilaterally initiated by Manila in early 2013 and will be heard by a five-judge tribunal in The Hague. China exercised its right under Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) in 2006 and made a declaration that excludes compulsory arbitration, said Hong. Stressing that the core of China-Philippines disputes on the South China Sea is the Philippines' illegal occupation of islands and reefs of China's Nansha Islands and the two countries' maritime delimitation, Hong said the UNCLOS does not apply to the issue. The Philippines' arbitration, unlawful and illegitimate from the very beginning, is in fact political provocation under the cloak of law, said Hong. China firmly opposes a certain country's taking hostage the international rule of law for its own selfish gains, he said. ^ top ^

China, Russia agree more parliamentary cooperation (Xinhua)
2016-05-06
China and Russia on Thursday agreed to strengthen their parliamentary cooperation to contribute more for the bilateral relations. The pledge was made in the second meeting of the cooperation committee between China's National People's Congress, the top legislative body, and the Russian Federal Council and the State Duma, the upper and lower houses of the Russian parliament. Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, and Sergei Naryshkin, head of the State Duma, co-chaired the meeting at the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing. Zhang said the two sides should take the 15th anniversary of the Sino-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation as an opportunity, carry forward the spirit of equality, mutual trust, mutual support, common prosperity and long-lasting friendship, and create better environment for the development of the bilateral relations. He said legislative bodies of the two countries should continue to support the two peoples to choose their own path of development. The two sides should strengthen cooperation on legislature and supervision to support the two governments to enhance coordination on locality and industrial development policies and plans, help the government solve problems in cooperation, and provide better legal and policy environment, he said. Zhang called on the two sides to give full play to the cooperation committee and increase cultural and people-to-people exchanges. He also urged the two sides to have closer coordination within multilateral frameworks including the BRICS parliamentary forum, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, to jointly safeguard the two countries' common interest, and the peace and stability of the world. Hailing the parliamentary cooperation and exchanges between the two legislative bodies as fruitful, Naryshkin said the Russia-China friendly cooperation is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and two peoples. Naryshkin said the Russian side will well implement the results of the second meeting and strengthen the synergy of the two countries' development strategies, as well as their cultural and people-to-people exchanges and educational cooperation. President Xi Jinping also met with Naryshkin on Thursday afternoon. Naryshkin, who was visiting China from Wednesday to Friday as guest of Zhang, will also go to Shenzhen in south China. ^ top ^

Beijing slams Manila for 'lying' about sea negotiations (Global Times)
2016-05-06
China on Thursday defended the legitimacy of not accepting and participating in the South China Sea arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, calling Manila's claim that it had exhausted all bilateral means a "lie." "The Philippines has never negotiated with China on any item in the arbitration. 'Exhausting all bilateral means' is a lie cooked up by the Philippines," Hong Lei, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said at a press briefing on Thursday, stressing that China's non-acceptance and non-participation in the arbitration case is consistent with law. As early as 2006, China had released a statement on excluding compulsory arbitration as provided in Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Hong said. The two countries have agreed to solve the South China Sea disputes through negotiations as defined in bilateral and multilateral documents, according to Hong. "The door for negotiations is always open to the Philippines," he said. A ruling on a case filed by the Philippines before the International Court of Arbitration at The Hague on its dispute with China over the South China Sea is expected by June, whose results could further complicate the issue, observers said in previous interviews with the Global Times. "The arbitration case initiated by the Philippines, from the very beginning, is illegal and unjustifiable. Its true intention is to politically confront China under the cloak of law," Hong said, and voiced "firm opposition to a certain country's plot to hijack international law for its own selfish gains." "The issue of the South China Sea is being ramped up by those in the US and the UK who accuse China of causing tensions in the region. They proclaim the principle of free navigation and over-flight but in reality their prejudice and partiality will only increase tensions," Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to Britain, wrote in an article to the Times published Wednesday. "The world will see clearly who is making trouble in the South China Sea. These nations should desist from meddling and muddling. Such actions pose a threat to regional stability and world peace," he said. ^ top ^

Illegal fishing targeted in South China Sea (China Daily)
2016-05-06
China will step up law enforcement in the South China Sea to prevent illegal fishing activities and rehabilitate marine resources during the upcoming seasonal ban, an official with the fisheries authority said on Thursday. Zhao Xingwu, head of the Bureau of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture, said on the sidelines of a news conference that enforcement will be jointly conducted by the Chinese Coast Guard and local fishery bureaus. "We will definitely step up law enforcement in the South China Sea to enhance regulation of our fishing vessels. Meanwhile, we will also step up the regulation of foreign ships," he said. Since 1999, China has imposed an annual fishing ban in parts of the South China Sea between May 16 and Aug 1 as part of an effort to protect marine resources in an area under its jurisdiction. The ban covers areas north of the 12th parallel, including Huangyan Island but excluding most of the Nansha Islands. In the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea and East China Sea, the fishing ban falls between June 1 and Sept 1. Yu Xinrong, vice-minister of agriculture, told the news conference that the ministry will roll out a guideline to manage the growth pattern and adjust the structure of the fishing industry, which will make a priority of fostering and protecting fishery resources. Yu said authorities will also seek to reduce the country's fishing capacity and encourage more fishermen to reduce the number of fishing vessels and switch to other trades. The ministry has launched four campaigns targeting fishing nets with small mesh and those that often result in higher percentage of bycatch. Authorities nationwide have so far confiscated about 600,000 pieces of fishing gear that violate regulations, and banned the use of 16,000 unlicensed vessels, the ministry said. China's territorial waters have long been troubled by overfishing. Around 8-9 million tons of fish can be harvested legally in China's territorial waters each year, but the actual amount reaches 13 million tons, according to a report by Economic Daily. Overfishing has resulted in the destruction of spawning sites for some species, reducing stocks in China's coastal areas, as well as leading to a prolonged recession in the sector, especially in the East China Sea, the report said. ^ top ^

Repatriation and recovery targeted to combat graft (China Daily)
2016-05-06
The repatriation of suspects and recovery of illicit money are the focus of the Fox Hunt operation this year aimed at seizing corrupt officials and economic fugitives who flee China. Fox Hunt forms part of the Sky Net campaign led by China's top anti-graft agency, which was launched in 2014. This year's goals were outlined by the Ministry of Public Security on Wednesday. Meng Qingfeng, vice-minister of public security, who is in charge of the operation, asked police departments nationwide to target the right suspects, to work more efficiently and to bring them to justice. The ministry said it will work with the People's Bank of China, the central bank, to launch a special operation to crack down on the illicit transfer of money overseas. It will also help the central government's efforts to root out irregularities in officials' overseas trips. In November, Chinese authorities uncovered the country's biggest underground banking case, involving transactions of more than 410 billion yuan ($64 billion). The ministry says underground banks have been used for laundering money obtained from corruption, online gambling, telecommunications fraud, drugs and terrorism. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the top anti-graft watchdog, announced two weeks ago that it had decided to continue the Sky Net campaign this year. The commission will coordinate the campaign with the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the People's Bank of China, the Organization Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During Fox Hunt 2015, China seized 857 fugitives from April to December hiding in 66 countries and regions, according to the Ministry of Public Security. Huang Feng, a professor of international criminal law at Peking University, said the economic fugitives who flee overseas usually have substantial funds with which to buy properties, and live under assumed names. They can also move between different countries to elude capture, or hire experienced lawyers to exploit legal loopholes to prevent being repatriated, Huang said. It would also be difficult to repatriate suspects who have become citizens of other countries, as their right to live in these countries would be protected and the procedures involved likely to be more complicated, Huang said. In April last year, Interpol's China bureau released a list of 77 men and 23 women wanted worldwide who are suspected of being involved in corruption and economic crimes. The list is part of the Sky Net campaign. ^ top ^

Military means cannot secure settlement to Syria conflict: Chinese envoy (Global Times)
2016-05-05
Military means cannot secure a settlement to the Syrian conflict, and instead it only can cause greater unrest and disaster, said a Chinese envoy here on Wednesday. Liu Jieyi, China's permanent representative to the UN, made the remarks at a Security Council meeting on the situation in Aleppo, a major city in northern Syria where violent fighting has escalated over the past 10 days. The al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and likeminded groups unleashed repetitive large-scale attacks on Syrian military positions in southern Aleppo. The attacks were intensified by shelling on the government-controlled parts of the city, as the rebels in eastern Aleppo were trying to advance into the western part of the city. "In spite of the recent escalation of tensions in some areas in Syria, in most parts of the country, ceasefire has by at large been maintained," Liu noted. The United States and Russia have concluded arrangements to extend nationwide cessation of hostilities to Aleppo. Earlier on Wednesday, the Syrian army confirmed that a 48 hour regime of silence will start in Aleppo as of Thursday. "The international community and parties concerned should immediately adopt effective measures to consolidate the results achieved so far," said Liu. "Members of the International Syrian Support Group should work together and consult as soon as possible on specific measures of controlling the situation that's creating conditions for the advancement of the political process in Syria and expansion of humanitarian relief operation," he added. ^ top ^

Exposure, drills come amid hyped-up South China Sea issue: expert (Global Times)
2016-05-05
Chinese State television has for the first time aired China's construction work on Yongshu Reef in the Nansha Islands. China Central Television (CCTV) on Tuesday released video of construction work on Yongshu Reef as part of a news report on the performances of a Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy song and dance troupe on the reef. Buildings, roads and lighthouses are beginning to take shape, according to the videos. "It is probably the first time that CCTV has publicly released video about the reef," Li Jie, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday, stressing that the construction on the reef falls within China's sovereignty and is aimed at regional peace and stability. In April, a Chinese patrol aircraft landed on the reef to pick up three ill construction workers, a humanitarian mission later questioned by the Pentagon for using a military aircraft instead of a civilian one. China began to reclaim land on Yongshu Reef in August 2014, and several test flights were conducted on an airport in the reef in January, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Meanwhile, a six-vessel flotilla belonging to the PLA navy's South China Sea Fleet on Wednesday left a port in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province for an annual live ammunition drill, which includes simulations of breaking through the blockade of "the enemy" and reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance drills with submarine forces, Xinhua reported. Such exposure on reef construction activities and the drills at this particular time come amid hyped-up South China Sea issues and more involvement from countries outside the region, Li said, adding that the naval exercises are part of "a targeted move to improve the Chinese navy's detection and warning capabilities." The flotilla is scheduled to conduct drills in the South China Sea, East Indian Ocean and West Pacific. The PLA Naval Aviation of the South China Sea Fleet and troops on the Nansha Islands will also participate in the drills, along with troops from the North China Sea Fleet, according to Xinhua, The drills are part of the PLA navy's annual training, Xinhua noted. "The flotilla also includes the newly-built comprehensive depot ship Honghu, which can provide support for sustained combat at sea," Li noted, adding that such capabilities are vital for maritime operations, considering China's vast territorial footprint in the South China Sea. ^ top ^

No thaw but China-Vatican ties 'in positive phase' (SCMP)
2016-05-05
Relations between China and the Catholic Church are “in a positive phase” even if a lasting thaw is not yet in sight, the Vatican's Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said on Wednesday. China is home to tens of millions of Christians, but the Vatican has not had diplomatic relations with Beijing since 1951, two years after the founding of the communist People's Republic. Attempts to restore ties have floundered over Beijing's insistence that the Vatican must give up its recognition of Taiwan and promise not to interfere in religious issues in China. But in February, Pope Francis lavished praise on China in a move widely seen as part of Vatican moves to improve relations, pointedly avoiding any mention of Chinese restrictions on freedom of worship. Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State “Right now we are in a positive phase, there are signs that the two parties have the will to pursue a dialogue and to work together to find solutions to the problem of the presence of the Catholic Church in this huge country,” Parolin, the Vatican's number two, told San Francesco magazine. “Personally, I would dare to say that the prospects are promising and we hope that these seeds will bloom and bear fruit for the good of China and the whole world.” In the end, Pope Francis' 'kowtow diplomacy' towards China will show itself to be smart diplomacy (He acknowledged that the dialogue between China and the Vatican “is a long path, which has known both highs and lows. It is not over yet and it will finish when God wants it to.” San Francesco magazine, run by the Franciscan Order in Assisi in central Italy, will be available in China for the first time at the end of the month. China's ruling Communist Party is suspicious of religion, and some Chinese Christians worship at “underground” churches seeking to avoid government control. ^ top ^

Chinese cops patrol Rome (Global Times)
2016-05-04
Chinese policemen started joint patrols with local police in the Italian cities of Rome and Milan on Monday, a move that observers called a good try at overseas police cooperation, but one that does little to provide better security services for the growing number of Chinese tourists in the Mediterranean country. In each of the two cities, two uniformed Chinese police officers who can speak both Italian and English will conduct patrols in tourist areas for two weeks starting on Monday, the Xinhua News Agency reported. "Chinese police patrols in Italian cities are a positive start for a new form of cooperation on police affairs," Wang Dawei, a professor at the Chinese People's Public Security University, told the Global Times, adding that it can also help boost patriotism among Chinese tourists. Liao Jinrong, director-general of the International Cooperation Department at China's Ministry of Public Security, was quoted by Xinhua as saying that the joint patrols will also help the two countries further understand each other's legal systems. Though praised by Liao as the result of a "very positive collaboration between Chinese and Italian police forces," the joint patrols have also faced questions about their effectiveness in fighting crime. "For Chinese visitors, the two Chinese policemen might only help answer questions and primarily play the role of translators," a Chinese-Italian Rome resident surnamed Liang told the Global Times on Tuesday. "It doesn't seem possible to provide a sense of security to Chinese visitors by only deploying two policemen in a city. What matters the most in ensuring their sense of security in foreign countries is local police," Wu Boxin, a Beijing-based expert on criminal psychology, told the Global Times. Calling the move a good attempt by China to promote overseas police cooperation, Wu noted that there is now greater demand for such cooperation as China's tourism and trade exchanges grow rapidly. Chinese visitors made over 1.5 million trips to Italy in 2014, with the number expected to have climbed to 4 million in 2015, Cristiano Radaelli, special commissioner of the Italian National Agency of Tourism (ENIT), said last year, news site china.com.cn reported. The joint patrol is the first of its kind to be carried out by Chinese police in Europe, Liao said, adding he hopes it will set an example for collaboration on similar initiatives with other European countries. In 2014, Chinese and French police considered conducting joint patrols in Paris in order to handle an increasing number of crimes targeting Chinese visitors, including robberies, an official from the Chinese Embassy in France told the Global Times on Tuesday. However, the joint patrols failed to materialize due to opposition from the French side, said the official. ^ top ^

Navy and ASEAN take part in drill (China Daily)
2016-05-03
Joint 11-day exercise aimed at boosting regional security at sea and combating terrorism The PLA Navy joined countries from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in a maritime exercise on Monday, signaling a further step in recent frequent exchanges with the regional bloc. The missile destroyer Lanzhou from the PLA's South Sea Fleet, carrying a Z9C helicopter and a special operations unit, arrived in Brunei on Sunday for the joint drill under the ASEAN+8 defense ministers' meeting. The 10+8 mechanism refers to the 10-member ASEAN and eight of its partners - China, Russia, the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India. This is the first marine security and anti-terror joint drill staged under the mechanism. Aimed at boosting maritime security and combating terrorism, the drill is scheduled to end on May 12 in Singapore, according to Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian. The destroyer left Sanya, Hainan province, on Thursday and conducted a number of exercises en route. PLA Daily said it took only seven days to prepare the destroyer for the drill. Members of the helicopter group and special operations group, who come from six units, joined the warship on the day it left. Zhu Zhengzhong, the vessel's captain, said, "Several years ago, we spent one or two months to prepare, but now it takes one week at most." He said frequent maritime missions, such as joint drills and anti-piracy tours in the Gulf of Aden, have made the crew confident about such operations. Senior Colonel Lai Minghe, political commissar of the Mission Command Post on the destroyer, said the drill will increase member countries' sharing of maritime information and complete the process of maritime security cooperation. "The attendance of the Lanzhou reflects China's initiative in regional security cooperation," Lai said. The exercise comes as Beijing seeks to broaden mutual understanding and communication with ASEAN countries. A ruling by an international arbitration body in a process launched unilaterally by the Philippines challenging China's territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea is expected within weeks. China has said repeatedly it will neither accept nor take part in the process. During a Southeast Asian tour by Foreign Minister Wang Yi late last month, Brunei, Cambodia and Laos agreed with China that disputes over some of the Nansha Islands and reefs are not an issue between China and ASEAN and should not affect these relations. ^ top ^

China vows open doors for foreign human rights NGOs (Global Times)
2016-04-29
China has promised to keep the doors open to human rights NGOs as the country's top legislature passed its very first law to manage the activities of overseas NGOs. The legislation, coupled with the upcoming enactment of China's first-ever Charity Law, will limit foreign NGOs' influence in certain domestic areas while providing space for domestic NGOs to adapt and survive, analysts said. China welcomes overseas human rights NGOs, Guo Linmao, a legislative official from the National People's Congress (NPC), told a press conference on Thursday, adding that the country will provide favorable conditions and protect their legal rights but will punish any illegal acts according to the law. "As long as overseas NGOs abide by China's laws, they can carry out activities without worry," Guo said, in an effort to dispel concerns from foreign organizations. Although the newly passed law, compared with its second draft, excludes NGOs such as hospitals, schools, research institutes and academic institutions in natural science and engineering from the management scope of police, it will still be applicable to institutions in the social sciences. "In general, China encourages the development of domestic NGOs and the exchanges between them and their foreign counterparts [through such laws], while it wishes to handle some organizations and activities in a more careful manner," He Lijun, a New York-based professor on public administration at Pace University, told the Global Times on Thursday. She also noted that international cooperation is necessary for China's domestic NGOs to grow in a globalized context. The law is expected to come into effect on January 1, 2017. Over 7,000 overseas NGOs mainly in sectors such as environmental protection, science and technology, education and culture have brought useful expertise and funding to the country, said Fu Ying, spokesperson for this year's NPC annual session. Xu Xianming, deputy head of the NPC Law Committee, was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying on Monday that foundations and social service organizations operated by overseas NGOs, which have already registered with the civil affairs department, will be able to continue operating. The Ministry of Public Security and provincial police departments will be responsible for the registration and regulation of overseas NGOs, as stipulated in the previous draft of the legislation. If overseas NGOs plan to operate in China, they shall either directly register with the police or find a Chinese partner to set up cooperation programs that shall be filed with the police, Xinhua reported. Choosing the police instead of civil affairs departments - which manage domestic NGOs to oversee foreign NGOs - shows that China is still conservative about overseas NGOs, even as the country is becoming increasingly open, He Yong, a representative from the Beijing Office of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told the Global Times previously. Chinese authorities are aware and concerned that overseas NGOs can be used by foreign states to promote their objectives and values, or achieve other political agendas. Guo said Thursday that giving the enforcement power to police would help provide more services for overseas NGOs, as the police are also responsible for entry and exit administration as well as managing foreigners' activities in China. In response to the restriction that overseas NGOs are not allowed to raise funds in the Chinese mainland, Guo said that overseas NGOs do not qualify because their representative offices in China are not considered legal entities. China's National People's Congress passed the Charity Law in March to regulate the activities of NGOs, including "banning charity groups and individuals without qualifications from raising money publicly." Despite some of its more controversial articles, analysts said the new Charity Law actually allows for greater accountability for domestic NGO activities. "The Charity Law has expanded the room for various social organizations to develop as it to some extent reduced their barriers to raise funds," He Lijun said. At least China has recognized the variety and significance of NGOs and has gradually pushed forward their development through legislative efforts, she noted. ^ top ^

Chinese president meets Russian foreign minister (Xinhua)
2016-04-29
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is here to attend the fifth foreign ministers' meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and for an official visit. Xi said China attaches great importance to Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to China later this year. "I am looking forward to having an in-depth exchange of views with President Putin on enhancing the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination," Xi told Lavrov at the Great Hall of the People. Xi called on both sides to take the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Sino-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of strategic partnership of coordination, which both fall this year to carry forward the friendship from generation to generation, and cement the political and social foundation of bilateral ties. He encouraged both sides to strengthen the top-down design and strategic guidance of ties, enhance mutual trust and promote pragmatic cooperation on big projects in particular. The two countries should further step up coordination and communication on major international and regional issues and forge ahead with political solutions to these issues, said Xi. He also called on the two countries to enhance cooperation within the framework of the CICA and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Lavrov said Russia is willing to work with China to deepen economic, cultural and people-to-people cooperation and intensify coordination on international and regional issues within multilateral organizations including the United Nations and the SCO. ^ top ^

China, Russia increase joint drills as they deepen defence ties to contain US, their mutual foe (SCMP)
2016-04-29
China and Russia will increase military exercises to strengthen security and defence cooperation amid growing tensions in the ­disputed South China Sea. Russian Defence Minister ­Sergey Shoigu unveiled the plan at a meeting with his visiting ­Chinese counterpart Chang ­Wanquan on Wednesday, Tass news agency reported. “We highly appreciate a high level of Russian-Chinese contact both at the state and defence levels,” Shoigu said. “This year we are going to hold more exercises and events than in past years.” Speaking on the sidelines of an international security conference in Moscow, Shoigu said the two nations would conduct both ground and naval exercises. “Certainly, the aim is to strengthen mutually beneficial relations of partnership,” he said. China was willing to deepen defence and security ties with Russia and to maintain “communication and coordination over regional and international hot-button issues”, including anti-terrorism, Xinhua quoted Chang as saying. Both countries “faced a more complicated situation in the sphere of international security”, which required them “to pull together and join efforts”, he said. Shoigu was cited by Xinhua as saying the deepening comprehensive strategic partnership between Beijing and Moscow would help “safeguard peace and stability of the Eurasian region and the world”. The remarks come as Beijing steps up efforts to lobby support ahead of a key international court ruling on the South China Sea disputes, which is widely expected to go against China. Last week, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov that both nations should join hands to oppose “internationalising” the disputes, referring to the ruling from the Permanent Court of ­Arbitration in The Hague due in late May or early June. China and Russia have intensified military exercises over the past year, including several naval exercises conducted last year. China will host the Joint Sea-2016 naval drill later this year. The strengthened defence ties between the two nations, mainly through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation platform, are widely believed to be aimed at countering the United States' growing military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Professor He Qisong, of the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said deep mistrust remained between Beijing and Moscow because of their conflicting interests. The so-called trust and cooperation between the two powers was largely aimed at Washington, he said. Analysts noted that just a day before meeting Chang, Shoigu also pledged to expand military ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Four Asean nations have rival claims to territory in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, in a speech at the Moscow security conference, Chang highlighted the importance of deepening international cooperation in the global fight against terrorism, which posed daunting challenges to China, Xinhua reported. “To fight against terrorism, a comprehensive approach should be taken through political, diplomatic, economic and cultural means in order to eliminate the root of terror,” he said. Chang also lashed out at double standards and ideological bias in the global anti-terror efforts – an apparent reference to Beijing's displeasure with the US-led coalition that has refused to back its crackdown on Uygur militants or Islamic State-linked fighters in Xinjiang. Chang hailed China's “One Belt, One Road” initiative – an economic strategy aimed at advancing the country's diplomatic and security interests – as an effective way to promote peace and stability throughout the region. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Gansu condemns Koran recitation in kindergarten (Global Times)
2016-05-06
Education authorities in Northwest China's Gansu Province denounced and reiterated a ban on religious activities in schools, following outrage sparked by a viral video showing kindergarten students reciting the Koran. A video posted on Saturday by Sina Weibo user Mo Fu shows dozens of pupils sitting in a bright classroom as one little girl wearing a black headscarf carefully recites the Koran. The Weibo user claimed that the video was filmed in Gansu, angering netizens, many of whom slammed the activity for destroying the children's future and called for government management of the illegal religious activity. Gansu's education bureau released a statement on Wednesday night on its official Sina Weibo account, saying that netizens have strongly condemned the recent viral video showing students reciting the Koran at a kindergarten in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu. In the statement, the bureau noted that it strongly denounces such activities, which it stated harm young people's well-being. An official surnamed Liang from Gansu's education bureau told the Global Times that the office had contacted the Sina Weibo user who posted the video but had not yet confirmed at which kindergarten the video was filmed. The same video, titled "Chinese Young Girl Recites Quran," was uploaded to YouTube in 2014. Some 1.8 million residents in Linxia are religious, and about 1.14 million are Muslim, according to China Ethnic News. Another video posted online in 2013 showed several students wearing headscarves praying at a kindergarten in Linxia's Guanghe county. The bureau's statement also stressed that all religious activities are banned in schools and ordered education departments at all levels to firmly put a stop to such activities. According to the statement, apart from religious schools approved by the government, all schools are banned from holding religious activities, offering religious classes or forcing students to follow any religion. Schools are also forbidden from establishing religious groups. The bureau also stressed that school textbooks should not contain any religious content and students are not allowed to participate in illegal religious organizations and religious activities. Moreover, teachers, especially foreign teachers, are banned from spreading religion at schools. A kindergarten in Liuzhou, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region was shut down by local authorities in July 2015 for using Christian textbooks. ^ top ^

Haikou bureau claims fish die-off in lake was not caused by pollution (Global Times)
2016-05-06
Local authorities in Haikou, South China's Hainan Province said that the over 30 tons of fish found dead in a local lake died from a salinity change, dismissing public doubts about pollution. Piles of dead fish were found floating on Hongcheng Lake in Haikou on Wednesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 tons of dead fish had been salvaged, but many more kept floating to the lake's surface, China News Service (CNS) reported. The dead fish prompted widespread public questions about pollution in the lake, but a notice from Haikou's Oceanic and Fishery Bureau said the fish died of a sudden drop in salinity in the water after they swam up into the Nandu River with the ocean's tide and entered Hongcheng Lake. The dead fish are a type of green-scaled fish that is a saltwater fish, the bureau added, explaining that the fish's blood pressure became higher than the water pressure in the freshwater lake, causing their blood vessels to rupture. Fan Jinghu, a department head of Jinghuan City Environment Service Co in Haikou, told reporters that the company was called after some local residents tried to scoop the fish out of the lake. More than 40 sanitation workers participated in salvaging the dead fish and preventing them from entering the market and ending up in residents' kitchens, according to CNS. A large quantity of dead fish was also found floating in Tianjin's Haihe River in August after two explosions ripped through a warehouse at the city's port where hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals were stored. Local authorities in Tianjin said the fish also died from a salinity change as the saltwater fish swam into the river's fresh water. ^ top ^

PLA's new top-level anti-corruption units swing into action (SCMP)
2016-05-05
China's military has for the first time installed anti-corruption inspection units in its newly restructured departments and theatre commands. The system is modelled on the one established to stamp out graft in civilian government departments and Communist Party organs. The PLA Daily reported on Thursday that the graft inspectors completed two days of training in Beijing on Wednesday. The inspectors will be divided into 10 groups that will fan out to the theatre commands and other departments under the Central Military Commission. The report did not specify how the 10 teams would be divided among the departments and commands, saying only that some of them would oversee several units. The move is the latest push in President Xi Jinping's sweeping campaign to root out deeply ingrained corruption in the People's Liberation Army, the world's largest military. The crackdown has netted scores of officers, including the two of the PLA's former top generals, Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong. Xu and Guo were deputy chairmen of the powerful CMC until their retirement in 2013. Xu died last year. Retired major general Xu Guangyu said the insertion of anti-corruption inspection units in the military “drew on the successful experience” of the corruption crackdown in the party and the civil service. Xu Guangyu said the disciplinary units in the military would be better at cracking down on graft because they would be more active and efficient. The new moves in the military come after the party's top graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, announced in January that it had installed 47 disciplinary inspection units in all central party and state organisations, a total of 139 entities. Similar inspection units have been set up at the provincial level by relevant graft watchdogs. In January, the organisation of the military was completely overhauled. The PLA's previous four general headquarters were disbanded and reformed, and the military's discipline commission, which investigates corruption, became one of 15 new functional departments directly under the CMC. The other major reform was to reorganise the seven military area commands into five new theatre commands. Xi upgraded the military's disciplinary inspection body, once assigned to the General Political Department, into an independent department to grant it greater independence and authority. It is now under the direct oversight of the CMC – together with the other 14 departments – and on the same rank as the new Political Work Department. Xu Qiliang, a vice-chairman of the CMC, called for the inspectors to establish their authority and take advantage of their new standing to fully implement the oversight of officers' political loyalty, power and responsibility, the PLA Daily reported. ^ top ^

China's last Tiananmen Square protests' prisoner to be released in October (SCMP)
2016-05-04
China plans to release the last prisoner known to be held in connection with the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests after nearly three decades in jail, a US-based human rights group said on Tuesday. Miao Deshun, 51, was due to be released in October, the Duihua Foundation said, after serving more than 27 years in prison for his involvement in the mass demonstrations. Miao was originally given a suspended death sentence for arson after he and “four coworkers allegedly threw a basket onto a burning tank”, it said. Commuted to life imprisonment, his prison term was subsequently reduced several times, most recently this year, when authorities shortened it by 11 months for good behaviour. “People who served sentences with him in the 1990s remember him as a very thin man who refused to admit wrongdoing and participate in prison labour”, the foundation said in a statement, noting that he had spent time in solitary confinement and been diagnosed with schizophrenia. In 2013, Duihua said that China had released Jiang Yaqun, then 73 and thought to be the last prisoner convicted of counter-revolutionary offences in relation to the protests. Troops killed hundreds of unarmed civilians during the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Some estimates put the total at more than 1,000. The movement in 1989 happened after the death of the reformist leader Hu Yaobang on April 15, which snowballed into large-scale street protests and a weeks-long sit-in and a hunger strike at Tiananmen Square by students and residents. ^ top ^

Xi slams defiant cliques within Party (Global Times)
2016-05-04
Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to eliminate people who try to defy the ruling foundation of the Communist Party of China (CPC) from within, and who pose a risk to the country's political security. "There are careerists and conspirators in our Party who undermine its governance. We should not bury our heads in the sand and spare them, but must eliminate the problem and deter further violations," said Xi in a speech published in Tuesday's edition of the People's Daily, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Xi said "some officials have been forming cabals and cliques to covertly defy the CPC Central Committee's decisions and policies," and that they "risk compromising the political security of the Party and the country." According to Xi, some officials were found to have sought support and organized private activities to maintain their power, although they knew that they were not on the candidates list when their terms had expired. Some even claimed they will enter Zhongnanhai - the headquarters of the CPC and the State Council - when they are alive and they will die at Babaoshan Cemetery, the final resting place of famous figures, Xi was quoted as saying in his speech. "Xi's speech painted the current state of officialdom, in which some officials, especially high-ranking officials, were found to be pursuing not only financial interests but political ambitions," Li Danyang, a research fellow at the School of Public Administration of Guangzhou-based Jinan University, told the Global Times. Li added that some Chinese officials believe they can only get promoted by "serving the people well," but their political ambitions can be more quickly achieved through close ties with high-ranking officials in such cliques. "The problem is very serious and it will greatly affect public confidence in the ruling Party," said Li. Xi also said that China supports international cooperation in fighting corruption and has asked Western countries not to provide shelter to corrupt officials, adding that they regard these suspects as "cards" in their hands, but have become "hot potatoes." "Previously, Western countries saw corrupt officials as tools to attack China's corruption and human rights record. However, as the country's anti-corruption efforts gain strength, some countries, which have refused to deport the suspects, only end up humiliating themselves," said Li. Xi also vowed to kick out "two-faced" Party members who promised to fight corruption but never reported problems. While CPC members are banned from making groundless comments about the central government, it doesn't mean members cannot criticize the Party, but rather comments on important political issues, liberalism or singing out of tune with the central government are not allowed, Xi added. ^ top ^

Demolition triggers plea to law enforcers (China Daily)
2016-05-03
Law enforcers must carry out their judicial duties strictly in accordance with laws, administrative governance professionals urged on Monday after an official resigned following a demolition case in Haikou, capital of Hainan province. On Sunday, the Haikou government said it had accepted the resignation of Huang Hongru, head of the city's Xiuying district, as he had been negligent in supervising leading administrators to remove illegal houses in Qionghua, a village in Changliu township. The case resulted in serious clashes on Friday and Saturday between law enforcers such as chengguan, or urban patrol officers, and villagers who refused to allow the demolition of their houses. The clashes were announced by the government's Information Office on Monday through its micro blog. The case triggered public outcry after a one-minute video clip of the attack was posted online during the weekend that showed some women and children being hit by demolition workers. The government criticized the attackers, saying officers beating women and children cannot be tolerated. It also said seven of the officers had been administratively detained. But it said the demolition of illegal buildings will continue, as it is part of the province's plan to become an international tourist island. Wang Wanqiong, a criminal lawyer who observed the case during the weekend, said the key is to find the root cause of the conflict and how the attack happened. Yang Weidong, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said, "Law enforcers should not curb violence with violence, no matter how serious the conflict is." A villager surnamed Tan, 44, said he saw a two-floor building torn down on Friday. On April 18, the government posted a notice to villagers, ordering them to remove the illegal buildings before April 26, or they would be demolished. Tan said the demolition workers had not agreed that villagers could remove furniture during the weekend, which had intensified the conflict. Yang suggested that governments think twice when some people refuse to cooperate with them on implementing laws "because some violence could also be attributed to their ignorance in dealing with administrative affairs in their daily work." He added, "When finding someone has put up buildings illegally, it is better for government departments to stop this quickly instead of... tearing down buildings in a violent way." ^ top ^

Communist Party hits China's 'Donald Trump' with probation over 'improper' remarks (SCMP)
2016-05-02
Outspoken tycoon Ren Zhiqiang has been slapped with a year of probation for remarks that ran counter to major Communist Party policies. The party committee in Beijing's Xicheng district said in a notice on Monday that Ren, the former head of Hua Yuan Property, had been placed on probation for seriously violating political discipline. Ren, known as “Cannon Ren” for his outspoken comments, had on several occasions made improper remarks through online platforms such as microblogging site Weibo, according to the notice. It did not specify which of Ren's remarks were said to be improper. The notice said Ren had repeatedly posted comments online that violated the party's “four basic principles”, as well as its policy and direction. Ren's Weibo account was shut down by the internet watchdog after he questioned President Xi Jinping's remarks in February. He had 37 million followers on that account before it was closed. In one post, Ren – who has also been called China's Donald Trump – said that because state media was funded by taxpayers, it should serve the public rather than the party. “When does the people's government turn into the party's government? [Are the media] funded by party membership dues? Don't waste taxpayers' money on things that do not provide them with services.” Outspoken Chinese tycoon comes under fire for attacking Xi Jinping's lecture to the media( The post came after Xi had called on state media to align themselves with the party leadership. Official media were quick to call Ren out on his comments. An editorial on a news website affiliated with the Beijing municipal party committee accused him of spreading “anti-Communist Party” thoughts. Ren's violation of party discipline could amount to challenging the one-party rule as the “four basic principles” stipulate that party members must adhere to the country's socialist path, dictatorship of the proletariat, the party's leadership and the political thoughts of Marxism and Maoism. The penalty is the second most severe that can be dealt to a party member for such an offence. Five types of penalties can be imposed to enforce party discipline – a warning, stern warning, removal from party post, probation within the party and expulsion from the party. Ren's punishment comes after Xi used several events last month to call for greater tolerance of “well-intentioned” criticism online and among the country's intellectuals. During his trip to Anhui province last week, Xi said: “We must trust [our] intellectuals.” Xi said Communist Party and government officials should tolerate dissenting voices from intellectuals, even if some of their “views and criticisms are prejudiced and incorrect”. ^ top ^

China launches probe into Baidu over paid search listings after student dies following cancer treatment sourced online (SCMP)
2016-05-02
China's internet watchdog has set up a task force to investigate the country's biggest search engine Baidu, amid mounting criticism over its prominent placement of sponsored health care providers in its search results. The probe was prompted by an outcry over the death of a 21-year-old man who sought treatment for cancer at a hospital that topped his Baidu search. Critics said Baidu should do more to check the claims made by advertisers who pay for high rankings in online searches. Officials from the Cyberspace Administration of China, health authorities and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce will investigate the firm and the practice. Baidu said last night it welcomed the investigation and would cooperate fully. “The fitness and effectiveness of online information is the responsibility of every internet participant, ­including Baidu. Baidu will fully cooperate with the authorities' ­investigation and accept oversight, leaving no opportunity for false online information and illegal activities,” China News Service quoted Baidu as saying. Wei Zexi, a computer science student living in Shaanxi province, died last month of sarcoma, a rare cancer in soft tissues. Wei used Baidu to search for recommended treatments for his tumours after undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy, mainland news outlet Caixin quoted his parents as saying. He opted for a form of immuno­therapy – a treatment that tries to stimulate the body's immune system to better fight the disease – offered by a hospital run by the Beijing paramilitary police and that came up top in his Baidu search result, Wei said in an ­account of his experience published online. The Second Hospital of the Beijing Armed Police Corps describes its DC-CIK – short for dendritic cells and cytokine-induced killer cells – treatment to tackle tumours as the most advanced technology. It claimed the treatment had been developed by a top university in the United States, which the hospital claimed had cooperated in transferring its expertise to China. The DC-CIK treatment was actually performed by contracted private health-care-service providers in the hospital, according to a statement by the Chinese Non-government Medical Institutions Association published on People's Daily's website. It called on the government to tighten regulation on Baidu's health care advertisements. The effectiveness of immunotherapy in tackling cancer has been questioned by some medical experts. Dr Stephen Chan, an associate professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong's clinical oncology department, said the treatment was still experimental and still undergoing clinical trials and that it should not be used routinely as a standard treatment for cancer. The treatment cost Wei's family more than 200,000 yuan (HK$240,000) and was unsuccessful, with the cancer spreading to his lungs within months. Baidu was strongly criticised in a commentary published by a social media account operated by Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily. The commentary accused the search engine of putting profit ahead of morality. “As a search engine company that occupies a commanding market share in China, Baidu serves as the gateway for most Chinese internet users to search for information. But it is a seemingly open and wide entrance to knowledge that has become choked at the throat by money,” it said. Baidu last week said online marketing revenue rose 19 per cent in the first quarter to 14.9 billion yuan, accounting for 94 per cent of its total revenue. The medical centre where Wei was treated had stopped admitting patients yesterday. ^ top ^

Mother of detained labour activist takes on state media – and forced into hardest decision of her life (SCMP)
2016-05-01
Suing Chinese state media for defamation is an ambitious, probably futile battle. But Chen Wenying, 71, was determined to fight for the reputation of her son, Zeng Feiyang, one of the most influential labour activists in the country. Zeng was detained along with five other high-profile campaigners last December, in one of the biggest blows authorities have struck against the labour rights movement on the mainland, experts say. He had been helping migrant workers pursue back pay and injury claims, but it was a ruse to scam donations, Xinhua and CCTV said, citing the police. He has also been accused of disturbing social order and keeping mistresses. He hasn't been formally charged or given access to his lawyer and is waiting for a court date. “Can you at least tell me when my son can meet a lawyer?” Chen said one day last month when a court official rang to press her to drop the case. “I need an exact date, be it two months or three months... you know denying him a lawyer this long is not right.” The pressure tactics began soon after she filed the lawsuit against the two news outlets early last month. Even her grandsons had been targeted with threats their careers were at stake, she said. One grandson works as a surgeon at a hospital, and authorities had told his supervisor that his career would be in jeopardy if she pressed ahead with the lawsuit. Chen decided for the sake of the family to relent. The police took her ID on Sunday to process a formal withdrawal of the suit. “I'm in a great deal of pain but there is no other choice,” she said. On the mainland, non-governmental organisations offer services for workers that the government-affiliated All-China Federation of Trade Unions fails to provide. But the NGOs remain in a legal grey area as they are denied official registration. The round-up in December had a chilling effect on the NGO sector, said Zhang Zhiru, director of the Shenzhen-based Chunfeng Labour Dispute Centre. “Many have refrained from handling sensitive cases on the front line after the purge, but we are still doing what we believe and shall not adjust our service to bend to the authorities.” According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the mainland had 277 million migrant workers in 2015, but at least 1 per cent were affected by back pay. In 2015, the average amount owed was 9,788 yuan (HK$11,725), up by 2.9 per cent over the previous year. Migrant workers are often the first causalities of the battle under way to shift economic drivers away from investment and manufacturing as global demand for Chinese exports weakens. As growth slows, hitting 6.7 per cent this quarter, factories are shutting down or relocating. State firms producing steel and coal are also struggling to survive as the central government moves to tackle overcapacity. Beijing said in February that the two sectors would shed about 1.8 million workers, who could find it difficult to learn a new skill set. China to shed 1.8 million coal and steel jobs amid moves to rein in industrial overcapacity( In March, tens of thousands of employees of a state coal firm took to the streets in Shuangyashan in Heilongjiang province over back pay. Similar protests have been seen in the mining and steel industries across the nation's rust belt, including in Jilin province, Heilongjiang's Qiqihar, Hebei's Kaiping and Jiangxi's Pingxiang. In one of the latest incidents, workers at Songting Steel in Hebei province gathered outside Qianan city government offices demanding more than seven months of back pay on April 21. In Guangdong, migrant workers are faced with winning social insurance payments before factories collapse or relocate away from the Pearl River Delta. Only 20 per cent of all migrant workers are covered by the social security scheme, despite it being mandatory for all employees under a law that came into effect in 2001. “Covering retirement pension is a long-term concern for first-generation migrant worker without social security,” said Professor Pun Ngai of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Another challenge facing workers is finding enough paid overtime. “It has been harder for workers to find jobs that pay above 3,000 yuan as production orders are depleted,” Pun said. Just two years ago, workers could easily get jobs that paid more than 4,000 yuan with overtime. She said the transition phase between jobs was also becoming longer, going from one week to three months as factories struggle to keep busy. Liu Kaiming, a labour researcher at Shenzhen's Institute of Contemporary Observation, expected labour disputes to be on the rise around the May 1st Labour Day holiday. “There were 1.3 million labour arbitrations recorded last year and the number has been growing steadily by 10 to 15 per cent every year,” Liu said. “The government used to dedicate seven days for the May 1st holiday but it has become a long weekend holiday instead of a day to uphold labour resistance, to tone down its political flavour.” ^ top ^

'We must fully trust intellectuals': China's President Xi Jinping calls for tolerance of dissent (SCMP)
2016-04-30
In a rare move, President and Communist Party chief Xi Jinping has called to embrace intellectuals and tolerate dissenting voices among them. “We must fully trust [our] intellectuals,” Xi told a gathering this week of a group of 70 leading intellectuals, model workers and youth representatives from across the country. The meeting with intellectuals was held on Tuesday in the eastern province of Anhui, where Xi was on an inspection tour. It also marked International Labour Day, which falls on Monday, and Youth Day next Wednesday, state media reported yesterday. Xi's remarks came ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, in which many of the country's intellectuals were persecuted, on May 16. Xi said that party and government officials should tolerate dissenting voices from intellectuals, even if some of their “views and criticisms are prejudiced and incorrect”. He said that officials should not take action or punish intellectuals who criticised the government and its policies. Outspoken Chinese tycoon comes under fire for attacking Xi Jinping's lecture to the media (The remarks are a sharp contrast to some of the authorities' high-handed policies in recent years, including crackdowns on political dissent and human rights activists, clampdowns on academic and press freedomsand increasing ideological controls. Last week during a conference on cyberspace policy he called for greater tolerance of “well-intentioned” criticism online. He urged officials to pay heed to public grievances aired on the internet. The plea was contrary to his administration's imposition of strict censorship of social media, and shutting down of any account airing views deemed out of line. Property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang's social media account was blocked in February after he questioned Xi's demand for state media to pledge absolute loyalty to the party. Xi urged officials to become “true friends of intellectuals,” saying this was a very important task for the party. “[We] must take initiative to seek their views and suggestions on policy making, and [we] must welcome their criticism,” said the president. ^ top ^

Revised regulation tough on sex-selective abortions (China Daily)
2016-04-30
Individuals and organizations that conduct medically inessential prenatal sex discernment or sex-selective abortions will be fined up to 30,000 yuan (about 4,600 US dollars), under a revised regulation taking effect on Sunday. Besides a fine, the government will confiscate their income from such screenings and abortions, which are illegal in China. Those who introduce expectant parents to take up illegal prenatal sex discernment and selective abortion will also face the same punishment, according to the regulation jointly issued by the National Health and Family Planning Commission, the State Administration for Industry & Commerce and the China Food and Drug Administration. The revision to the law aims to tackle China's high gender imbalance, a direct result of pre-birth sex discernment and sex-selective abortions driven by cultural preference for sons. The birth sex ratio stood at 113.51 in 2015, much higher than a normal ratio between 103 and 107, though it has decreased from 121.18 in 2004. In China, legitimate reasons for a hospital conducting a sex-selective abortion include serious genetic disease or deadly threat to the mother's health. It requires at least three senior doctors with a genetics background and clinical experience to decide whether prenatal sex discernment is necessary. If an abortion is necessary, the hospital must report the case to the local health department. Retail pharmacies are not allowed to sell abortion medicines. Under the new regulation, pharmaceutical firms will face a fine between 10,000 and 30,000 yuan for selling ultrasound devices and devices for chromosome identification to unqualified institutions or individuals. Advertisers will also be punished for publishing ads for illegal prenatal sex discernment and selective abortion services. Prevention of illegal prenatal sex discernment and selective abortions will be considered in family planning officials' performance assessments. The government agencies behind the revised regulation welcomed the public to inform on violations, and promised rewards for doing so. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Heavenly road brings the high life to Tibetan Plateau (China Daily)
2016-05-06
It is still chilly on the Tibetan Plateau, but with "lixia" falling on Thursday, the beginning of summer in the Chinese lunisolar calendar, the mouths of local herdsmen are watering. It is the melon season in neighboring Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, fresh fruit is stacked up at the roadside, waiting to be ferried through the Kunlun Mountains and up to the plateau along the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway. "Less than a decade ago, a kilogram of melon could sell for 60 yuan (about $10) on the plateau. Last year the price was just a little over 10 yuan," said Zhang Lei, head of an armed police transport detachment stationed in Ritu county along the highway. National Highway 219 connects Xinjiang and Tibet at an average altitude of over 4,500 meters and is the world's highest road suitable for ordinary vehicles. Originally covered by gravel in 1950s, the 2,340-kilometer highway was almost fully paved by 2013, slashing the travel time between Yecheng county in southern Xinjiang and Ngari prefecture in Tibet from 15 days to just one day, with another day to reach Lhasa. Accidents and fatalities also decreased dramatically. Transport police officer Luo Bing has worked on the highway for over 15 years. There were hardly any asphalted roads at all when he first came to Ritu and now the town has two wide streets filled with restaurants and shops. About 700 kilometers down the highway from Ritu, Song Shibing, chief of a transport police troop, has seen dramatic changes in the lifestyles of local people. Back in 2003, he tried to buy an axe from a herdsman for 100 yuan (several times the price of an axe in a shop), but the herdsman refused his money and brandished an empty 5-liter bottle instead. He wanted diesel. "Money meant almost nothing on the plateau as there was almost nothing for sale," Song said. "Local people usually kept their money in a wooden box under the bed and sometimes dried their moldy old notes in the sun." Since the capacity of the road increased and it became much safer to drive, vegetables, fruit and necessities have arrive on the plateau almost every day. Many herders have taken their money from under their beds and deposited it in a bank. Tuo Jide, a retired armed transport police driver, has run a restaurant in Xihexiu village next to the highway for 17 years. Business has blossomed since the road was improved. "Decades ago, the potholes were deep enough for a yak to hide in," Tuo said. "Drivers did not dare to hit the road without plenty of food and gas in their cars. Vehicles crashed and broke down all the time along the way." With a safe, modern highway, transportation costs from Yecheng to Ngari have fallen by 55 percent, leading to cuts of about 40 percent in the price of commodities in the Tibetan town. Better yet, the number of tourists in Ngari has surged fivefold. "The highway today looks to me like an airport runway - wide, flat and smooth," Tuo said - a heavenly road, indeed. ^ top ^

China denies legitimacy of "election" by so-called Tibetan "government-in-exile" (Xinhua)
2016-05-03
China on Tuesday reiterated that the so-called Tibetan "government-in-exile" has no legitimacy and its "election" is just "political slapstick." Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei made the remarks in response to the "election" held by the separatist political group in India on April 27. He added that the so-called "government-in-exile" is not recognized by any country. As for the claim by the "government-in-exile" that fewer Tibetans-in-exile have gone to India because of hindrance by China's national security department, Hong said "this only reflects the unpopularity of the overseas Tibetan separatist groups." ^ top ^

China starts construction of Tibet's biggest hydropower plant on upper reaches of Yangtze River (SCMP)
2016-04-30
China has started construction of the first hydropower station on the Jinsha River – part of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River – that will supply electricity to the economically well-off regions in the country's east, official media reported. The Suwalong hydro power project at the junction of Mangkam county in Tibet and Batang county in Sichuan (四川) province has a design capacity of 1.2 gigawatts and will be able to generate about 5,400 gigawatt hours of electricity a year when completed in 2021, Xinhua reported. The design capacity is more than double that of the Zangmu hydropower plant, Tibet's largest existing hydro project, which was completed in October on the Yarlung Zongbo river. It is hoped that the 18 billion yuan (HK$21.5 billion) Suwalong dam, could pave the way for other projects in the headwaters of the adjacent Nu (Salween) and Lancang (Mekong) rivers to “fuel development” of hydro power in Tibet, the official website Tibet.cn reported. The Suwalong project will also boost local social and economic development in Tibet, according to the website. Construction of the 112-metre-high dam is expected to start next year. Developed by China Huadian Corp, the Suwalong dam is being built at a time when the weak grid infrastructure and falling demand for electricity has left many hydropower stations lying idle in the mountainous southwest region. More that 20,000 GWh of hydro electricity were not used in Sichuan and Yunnan (雲南) provinces, which neighbour Tibet, in 2014. Energy experts estimated that enough water to generate 40,000 GWh was simply allowed to run through turbines in the region last year. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang college's bilingual classes strengthen job skills, friendship (Xinhua)
2016-05-03
As new graduates prowled an annual job fair at Hotan Teachers College last Friday, Zhang Wenying encouraged them to add fluency in the Uyghur language to their skill sets. Zhang, 29, a bilingual teacher at No. 1 Middle school in Jiya County,Hotan Prefecture in southern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, graduated from the college in 2010. Zhang, who is of Han ethnicity, came from northwest China's Shaanxi Province to Hotan and started learning Uygur at the college in 2007. He now speaks fluent Uygur and teaches Mandarin to Uygur students. China has 56 ethnic groups. The Han are the majority group, and Mandarin is the official and most widely used language. In Xinjiang, however, many locals lack even basic Mandarin. The language barrier not only puts them at a disadvantage in the job market, but also impedes economic development in the region. The autonomous region encourages ethnic minorities to study Mandarin to enhance mutual understanding and open up career opportunities. Learning the Uygur language is also helpful for Han students looking for jobs in southern Xinjiang, where bilingual education is in short supply, according to Zhang. Hotan Prefecture is known for its harsh natural conditions and poverty. Hotan Teachers College had trouble enrolling Han students until it started recruiting them from other provinces and regions in 2005. After more than a decade, the percentage of Han students and teachers at the college has increased from 5.5 percent in 2005 to 25 percent in 2015. Zhang said when he was a college student, his class had 40 students. Twenty-five of them were from outside Xinjiang. After graduation, 35 of his classmates chose to find jobs in Xinjiang. Since 2010, 526 of the college's 583 graduates recruited from other provinces have chosen to stay in Xinjiang. Ababekri Ablet, president of the college, said Han students from inland provinces live, learn and communicate with Uygur students and teachers at the college. "After graduation, they are willing to start their careers here," he said. To boost bilingual education, Hotan Teachers College started offering mixed classes for Han and ethnic minority students in September 2015. So far, the college has 40 such mixed classes, accounting for 29 percent of the total. In the mixed classes, Han students not only have classes with ethnic minority students, but also can live with them in the same dorm. Abliz Hekpar, 21, from Qira County, said he had no Han friends before he entered mixed classes at the college. Living and learning with Han students has helped him improve his Mandarin, he said. Likewise, Han students have also made friends with Uygur students. Every morning, Miao Lanxuan reads aloud in Uygur with the help of her tutor, Aynur Ghulkhazim, another student at the college. Since 2005, the college has encouraged Han students to practice their Uygur in classes every morning, while Uygur students read aloud in Mandarin for Han students. Miao, from Shihezi City in northern Xinjiang, came to study in Hotan last September. She said she hopes to learn Uygur well and make more Uygur friends at the college. "I have four Uygur language classes each week, which is far from enough for me to improve speaking," Miao said."But my tutor did help me a lot. I can practice speaking and also learn grammar from her." Miao also applied to live in a dorm with Uygur students. Miao likes dancing and is good at modern dance, while her roommate, Arazgul Turejan, likes folk dance. They always dance together in the dorm. Thanks to the mixed living and learning environment, Miao said she can speak fluent Uygur and even bargain at local bazaars with a Hotan accent. Cheng Bin, from northwest China's Gansu Province, who is learning Uygur at the college, has developed a friendship with his roommate, Turghun Abduraziq, who comes from neighboring Kashgar Prefecture. Cheng said he cannot forget last winter vacation, when he was invited to stay with Turghun Abduraziq's family for more than 40 days. He was warmly welcomed, and his friend's mother treated him like her own son. Cheng said he will invite Turghun Abduraziq to his hometown during summer vacation. The college will expand enrollment of students from inland provinces in the future to encourage more Han students and teachers to teach, learn and live with Uygur students, said Zhao Ming, secretary of the college's party committee. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Dalai Lama urges Hong Kong not to quit democracy fight, says pro-independence activist after visit (SCMP)
2016-05-05
The Dalai Lama has called on Hongkongers not to give up the fight for democracy, according to Hong Kong Indigenous member Edward Leung Tin-kei who met with the Tibetan spiritual leader in India along with 60 others from the mainland, Macau, Taiwan, Europe and the United States. Leung, who returned to Hong Kong from India on Tuesday, said the Dalai Lama described many mainland activists who fled abroad following the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown as becoming discouraged over time. “His main message was Hongkongers need to be determined and maintain their passion,” Leung said. Leung was in Dharmsala, India, attending the 11th Interethnic Interfaith Leadership Conference held at the Dalai Lama's residence. The gathering was organised by US-based group Initiatives for China. The group aimed to advance “a peaceful transition to democracy in China through truth, understanding, citizen power, and cooperative action”, according to its Facebook page. Leung said he was “inspired” by his meeting with Tibetan activists, who shared their stories of how they fled Tibet. “Their situation is similar to that of Hong Kong,” he said. “They told me [the Seventeen-point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet] made many promises but in the end was all lies.” The Hong Kong Indigenous member, who previously stated his group had no boundaries in its protest methods, said the Tibetan activists tried to persuade him to adopt non-violent means. “Even though our approaches are different… the discussion was very rational,” he said. “This is very different from [the debate] in Hong Kong … which is very polarised.” Leung, however, did not say whether his views on non-violent protests had changed, only stating that the method to be adopted depended on circumstances. The Hong Kong Indigenous member said he spoke to others at the conference on the importance of the city becoming independent. However, Leung said pro-democracy activists from the mainland were sceptical towards the suggestion that Hong Kong be split from China. He said the activists questioned whether other Chinese people would accept an independent Hong Kong and that they asked whether he thought advocating for independence would play into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. Meanwhile, former security minister Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong said on a DBC radio show on Thursday that pro-independence rhetoric only served to destroy mutual trust between Hong Kong and the central government. Lee also criticised members of the pan-democratic camp for expressing “overt” support for independence, which he said was a ploy for them to capture both radical and moderate votes. “The mature [lawmakers] say they are against independence as they don't want to damage Hong Kong Basic Law, but on the other hand they encourage or support … these young people outside their parties,” he said. “They have political considerations and want to win both sides. This to me is a very dangerous tactic.” Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee and former Legislative Council president, said attempts to promote independence had caused mainlanders to become “apathetic” towards Hong Kong. “The country as we all know already faces a lot of national security problems, internationally and internally … and now Hongkongers want independence,” Fan said. “The mere mention of this has made many of our mainland compatriots highly apathetic towards people in Hong Kong.” Fan said the establishment of pro-independence political parties would only heighten Beijing's concerns over national security. ^ top ^

CY Leung claims no plans afoot to reinstate multiple-entry visa scheme for Shenzhen residents (SCMP)
2016-05-03
Hong Kong's top official made clear on Tuesday the government had no plan to reinstate a multiple-entry visa scheme for Shenzhen residents, days after a tourism association quoted him as saying the government was ready to do so if Hongkongers stopped mistreating visitors from the mainland. This was despite the latest government statistics showing the three-day golden week holiday ending Monday saw a 7.1 per cent year-on-year jump in mainland visitors to the city and a 2.5 per cent rise year-on-year overall in tourists. Speaking before the weekly Executive Council meeting, Leung said the Hong Kong government greatly valued the tourism industry's contributions because it comprised up to 5 per cent of the city's gross domestic product and employed a significant number of people. Bring them back: Hong Kong tourist sector urges better services to entice mainland China visitors( “But the government also understands that if we have excessive tourists that will exert pressure on Hong Kong and particularly some districts, affecting their daily life,” he said. Leung added this consideration was why Hong Kong received Beijing's blessing last year to axe a multiple-entry visa scheme for Shenzhen residents. Under the new scheme, Shenzhen residents can only be granted a permit to enter Hong Kong once per week. “We have no preparation, plans or intentions to resume the multiple-entry visa scheme for Shenzhen residents,” Leung said. “In fact, It has helped reduce the number of mainland tourists who engage in parallel trading,” he added. Since the authorities stepped up enforcement action in September 2012, immigration officials have arrested 2,760 mainland visitors for engaging in parallel trading and breaching their conditions of stay. More than 200 were convicted and jailed for up to three months. Last week, Leung allegedly agreed in a meeting with Hong Kong Travel Agent Owners Association president Freddy Yip Hing-ning to ask the central government to resume the multiple-entry scheme and add new mainland cities to the individual visit scheme – provided Hong Kong would “not kick tourists' luggage and engage in other insulting actions”. Yip at first confirmed but then denied the chief executive “made a promise” to make the request on behalf of the city's hard-hit tourist industry. He refused to clarify further. ^ top ^

US aircraft carrier denied entry to Hong Kong, American consulate official says (SCMP)
2016-04-30
Beijing denied a US aircraft carrier permission to make a port call in Hong Kong, a US consulate official says, a rejection that comes amid escalating tensions in the South China Sea. The Chinese Foreign Ministry told the US on Thursday night the visit by the USS John C. Stennis would not be allowed, said the official, who requested anonymity. US defence chief Ash Carter visited the Stennis earlier this month. “[The ministry] needs to approve every ship coming into Hong Kong. [They] said 'no' to the carrier,” the official said, adding the reason for the denial was not clear. In a written reply to the South China Morning Post's inquiry, the ministry said on Friday night that port calls made by US warships and military aircraft were examined on a “case by case basis in accordance with sovereignty principles and specific circumstances”. Carter flew to the nuclear-powered carrier for a two-hour visit on April 15, as it sailed about 100km west of the Philippine island of Luzon. Experts said the move likely irritated Beijing as Carter was accompanied by his Philippine counterpart, Voltaire Gazmin. Last week, the US Pacific Command revealed they had sent six powerful A-10 Thunderbolt aircrafts near the Scarborough Shoal, which China occupies but Manila also claims. The Chinese Defence Ministry had expressed concern over the flight. It's not the first time China has turned down port calls by US warships. During the Thanksgiving holidays in 2007, Beijing rejected the USS Kitty Hawk's visit to Hong Kong after Washington announced an advanced missile deal with Taiwan and US President George W. Bush met the Dalai Lama. However, the Kitty Hawk was allowed to dock in the city five month later in April 2008, as Sino-US military relations returned to normal. The Stennis carrier strike group is currently operating in the South China Sea, where China has territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam and other Asian countries. The consulate said it had originally arranged public tours aboard the Stennis for next Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Cancellation notices had been sent out to invitees, the consulate official said. Meanwhile, the USS Blue Ridge, the Japan-based flagship of the US Seventh Fleet, is in Hong Kong, where it is a regular visitor. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwanese legislators demand tough action against Japan after fishing boat crew detained (SCMP)
2016-05-05
Legislators belonging to Taiwan's Nationalist Party on Thursday demanded that the government take tougher action against Japan, including the use of military force, after a Taiwanese fishing boat and its crew were detained by the Japanese coast guard last month for fishing in the nation's waters. Legislator Liao Kuo-tung told a legislative committee that the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou, belonging to his own party, was “too weak” in handling the matter. “When it [Taiwan] gives an inch, it [Japan] will take a mile,” he said. “We must take stronger action. Only by using military means can we make Japan bow its head.” The Dong Sheng Ji No. 16 was found by Japan's Coast Guard in waters near Okinotori, the southernmost point of Japanese territory, on April 24. It was boarded and its crew members detained. The boat and its crew were released a few days later following negotiations that led to payment of a 6 million yen (HK$438,000) fine. Another KMT lawmaker, Kung Wen-chi, said sending official vessels to protect Taiwanese fishermen in the area was not an act of provocation, but a proper measure aimed at pressuring Japan to come to the negotiating table. “We are not afraid of Japan,” he said. “If you want peace, you should prepare for war.” Legislators of the soon-to-be ruling Democratic Progressive Party advised caution. DPP legislator Kuan Bi-ling criticised the Ma administration for poorly handling the matter. “I hope to see negotiations not confrontations,” she said. “I am totally against using this incident to instigate nationalist ideologies.” Another DPP legislator, Chen Ming-wen, said sending official vessels to adjacent waters, not to mention taking military action, was not a rational move. Chen said the administration should resolve the issue through diplomatic means. It must also help the Taiwanese fishermen reclaim the 6 million yen paid, he said. Since Japan declared its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone around Okinotori in 1996, only three Taiwanese fishing boats, including the Dong Sheng Ji No. 16, have been detained by the Japanese authorities. While the owners of the ships detained in 2005 and last month paid out of their own pockets, Taiwan's representative office in Japan paid on behalf of the owner of another ship detained in 2012. Tsai Ming-yao, secretary general of the Association for East Asian Relations, told the same committee that in addition to continuing negotiations with Japan, government agencies would continue to remind Taiwanese fishermen of the risks they run when fishing in that area. Taiwan could also seek the assistance of a third country, such as the United States, to help resolve the issue. Tsai, however, emphasised that Taiwan would not seek help from mainland China. Ma, who will step down May 20 after ending his second term in office, said last week that Japan's self-declared economic exclusion zone violates the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and proposed that Taiwan and Japan consider seeking international arbitration. Tsai, however, said on Thursday that because Taiwan was not a member of the United Nations, it would be very difficult to bring about. Hsu Yung-ming, a legislator from the New Power Party, a DPP ally, said Ma himself has been inconsistent in his position on Okinotori. While Japan named Okinotori an island in 1931 and declared its exclusion zone in 1996, Hsu said the Taiwan government did and said nothing. Ma called Okinotori an island in 2014, but changed his mind last month and instructed all government agencies to refer to it as “rocks” instead. “I wonder whether it is the personal opinion of President Ma or the official position of the Taiwan government,” Hsu said. If Taiwan and Japan continue to have differences over the status of Okinotori, Hsu said he did not know how they could work out a fisheries pact as the Ma administration has instructed government agencies. ^ top ^

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party condemns latest deportation of Taiwanese to mainland China (SCMP)
2016-05-01
Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has strongly condemned Saturday's deportation of 32 Taiwanese to mainland China from Malaysia on suspicion of telecom fraud as the outgoing Kuomintang administration said Malaysia had acted “under pressure” from Beijing. They were part of 97 people – the others from mainland China – who were escorted by mainland police by a Chinese charter flight flying from Malaysia to Guangzhou on Saturday, Xinhua said, without saying from which city the aircraft departed. Beijing has 'legal right' to demand Kenya deport Taiwanese fraud suspects. The DPP, which will form the next government from May 20, said in a statement that Beijing's “unilateral and tough action” in the latest deportation was “completely unhelpful to cross-strait relations”. It said: “Any of our nationals who commit crime abroad should be escorted back to Taiwan and face trial here.” Saturday's evening's move comes weeks after 45 Taiwanese in Kenya, suspected of being involved in another alleged telecom fraud case, were forcibly deported to mainland China – an incident that also drew protests from Taiwan. Taiwan's KMT cabinet said in a statement on Saturday that it had tried in vain to have the latest 32 Taiwanese suspects sent back to the island, but “under pressure from Beijing”, Malaysia deported the individuals to mainland China on Saturday, without elaborating. 'Indignant' Taiwan to send officials to Beijing to negotiate release of nationals deported from Kenya for alleged phone scam( Xinhua said all 97 people flown to Guangzhou were suspected of being involved in more than 100 scam cases covering at least 20 provinces and cities on the mainland. On April 15 another group of Taiwanese suspected of telecom fraud by Malaysian police and mainland Chinese authorities were deported back to Taiwan from Malaysia and are being held there on suspicion of committing “serious crime”. Beijing has said Taiwanese suspects have been heavily involved in telecoms fraud on mainland China and have caused huge losses. The cases have strained relations between the two sides ahead of the presidential inauguration of Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP on May 20. Beijing sees self-ruled Taiwan as a wayward province to be taken back by force if necessary, particularly if it makes moves toward independence. It wants Tsai to stick to the “one China” policy agreed upon with the outgoing Beijing-friendly KMT government. Since Tsai and the DPP won Taiwan's presidential and parliamentary elections by a landslide in January, Beijing has been stepping up pressure on the self-ruled island. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Minister: Govt guiding reforms via subsidies (Global Times)
2016-05-05
The central government will provide financial support for corporate debt restructuring and training of laid-off workers, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said at the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank's Board of Governors in Frankfurt, Germany, on Tuesday. The Finance Ministry's current priority, Lou said, is assisting China's supply-side reforms and alleviating the fallout from the painful process of shedding overcapacity and piled-up debt. Subsidies will support the restructuring of corporate debt and help train laid-off workers for new jobs as the coal and steel industries see shutdowns or shake-ups, Lou said. He said China has not subsidized coal, though it has been accused by other countries of dumping cheap steel products worldwide and disrupting the global market. Subsidies are also being provided to the country's farmers, supporting tree planting and the use of organic fertilizers to help them shift to sustainable models, he said. China has also stopped subsidizing diesel-fueled fishing boats and public buses, instead shifting money to clean-energy vessels. Lou twice referred to Germany's successful transformation from "the sick man of Europe" to an economic powerhouse in the 2000s, to make his case that reforms incur short-term pain but reap long-term rewards. "Germany seized the opportunity and pushed through structural reforms," he said. "As we all know, if we do not reform, we'll fall off the cliff." In the early 2000s, Germany's economy had gone from being a post-World War II miracle to a laggard in Europe after its bloated social welfare programs and narrow labor rules eroded the country's competitiveness. By 2003, then-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was engaged in an overhaul. In Lou's view, Germany's reform of its social welfare system and improvements in the flexibility of its labor market laid the foundation for the nation's resilience in the face of the global financial crisis. Wei Shangjin, chief economist of the ADB, agreed that money should not be used to shore up unprofitable companies in industries plagued by overcapacity, but rather should facilitate the formation of a "new economy" that includes channeling laid-off workers into other jobs. ^ top ^

Private investment incentives reviewed (China Daily)
2016-05-05
China will conduct a one-month, sweeping examination of a series of incentives encouraging private investment that were designed to boost the role of such investment in the country's economic development. The examination will review implementation of 39 State Council documents released in 2014 that have encouraged social investment in key innovation sectors. It will be conducted throughout May in 18 provinces and regions across China. The review was announced at Wednesday's executive meeting of the State Council, or China's Cabinet, which was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. "Any decline in private investment will affect the vitality of China's economy," Li said. "What's more, private investment is a crucial driving force for the country's private economy, which provides over 80 percent of the country's total employment opportunities," he added. China's economy increased by 6.7 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, within the 6.5 to 7 percent yearly growth target that the government set in March. This has to some extent steadied nerves internationally regarding China's economic performance, after the year began with stock markets tumbling and negative expectations at home and abroad. However, there were concerns because the country's private investment rose in the first quarter by only 5.7 percent, down by 7.9 percentage points compared with the same period last year. The premier called on local governments and ministries to provide support for private investment. "We should not offer umbrellas on sunny days and take them away while it is raining," Li said. While China is going through an economic transition from being an export-oriented economy to one that is consumption-driven, private investment momentum is considered to be a long-term driving force for economic growth. It is also seen as reflecting the private business sector's confidence in the nation's economy. Since 2005, the State Council has been carrying out incentives to encourage private investment. A number of major infrastructure projects that were previously off-limits to private investors were gradually opened up for social investment. Private entrepreneurs can now invest in projects in transportation, energy, water and environmental protection, as well as urban utilities. However, implementation of these incentives has faced various setbacks, such as local red tape and difficulty in getting loans. "What bothered me most is that we private investors are not treated the same as our public counterparts, and we still face too many restrictions," said a private entrepreneur who requested anonymity. The comprehensive examination, which is to be completed by the end of the month, is expected to keep steady the momentum of China's private investment growth. "Problems found during the examination need to be handled appropriately, and a third-party evaluation will be carried out toward the implementation of incentives in encouraging private investment," the premier said. ^ top ^

Government to banks: Increase investment (China Daily)
2016-05-05
The nation's top planning authority pledged on Wednesday to adopt more proactive measures to expand investment in order to sustain the economic recovery. Following the new lending boom in the first quarter, the government will actively encourage commercial banks to issue credit and attract investment from the private sectors in the second and third quarters, when more construction projects are expected to start, according to a statement by the National Development and Reform Commission. Fixed-asset investment surged 10.7 percent year-on-year during the first quarter, as government-led investment in infrastructure construction "played a vital role", the statement said. Official data show that by the end of the first quarter, investment in infrastructure projects reached 1.5 trillion yuan ($230 billion), an increase of 19.6 percent year-on-year. "Thanks to the government's pro-growth measures and efforts made in supply-side structural reforms, progress made since last year has paid off," said Zhao Qinghe, a statistician at the National Bureau of Statistics. "Data for fixed-asset investment in the first quarter indicates a favorable economic outlook." "Although the Purchasing Managers' Index in April dropped slightly to 50.1 from March's 50.2, it is still within a reasonable range," Zhao said. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 reflects contraction. Luo Wenbo, an analyst at Zhongtai Securities, expected that investment in infrastructure projects will continue to grow in the near future, as top leaders have pledged to roll out proactive fiscal policies. Meanwhile, economists said that more efforts are needed to address some of the key challenges to sustain the good start to the year, as downward pressure still exists. Chen Daofu, a researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Council, said more measures must be taken to boost investor confidence, noting that private investment growth, which accounts for 62 percent of fixed-asset investment, increased by only 5.7 percent in the first quarter. "Government-led projects will not play a role to the full extent if private investment does not pick up," Chen said. "The government should provide the necessary incentives and profitable projects to attract private investment to sustain growth." ^ top ^

Land-sale finance can no longer sustain cities (China Daily)
2016-05-04
How can China's hard and long-drawn economic transition be judged from what its cities have done to drive local economic growth? The fact is they have basically done nothing in the past three years. The old practice of funding local development with fiscal revenue from land auctions for housing projects, which people call "land-sale finance", still continues in many cities. There hasn't been a meaningful replacement of the source of local revenue in many cities even though land-sale finance no longer generates as much funds in these times of economic slowdown. Nurturing new growth industries and building new growth drivers, what the central government has envisaged, is happening in only a few cities. Last year's data show some of the most financially powerful cities continue to rely on land-sale finance for more than half of their revenues, as they did in the years immediately following the 2008 global financial crisis when housing development was a speculative game and housing prices were rising rapidly. Such cities include Nanjing, Hefei, Guangzhou, Fuzhou, Foshan, Haikou, Jinan, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Changzhou and Shijiazhuang. Industry experts argue that much of their land-sale finance is unhealthy and unsustainable. The practice may cause more harm than good, according to Hu Zhigang, deputy head of China Real Estate Association. "Flawed incentives" have led to, in some places, the creation of more new housing projects than permitted by real market demand, Hu said. This, in turn, has given rise to "social and environmental problems". The risk of default is on the rise, as a result. Local governments' dependence on land-sale finance is not a smart move to start with. In 2013, a sample survey by the National Audit Office showed it can cover only about 37 percent of the total debts incurred by the local governments. Gao Huiqing, an economist with the State Information Center, commenting on the ongoing economic slowdown, said it is difficult for local governments to generate higher income from land sales. It will be even more difficult in cities with a large unsold housing inventory. Data from the Ministry of Finance show that in 2015 nationwide revenue from land sales declined by 21.6 percent year-on-year to 3.36 trillion yuan ($518.48 billion). "Land-sale revenue can only continue to go down in the future, especially in regions where housing oversupply is more serious," Gao said. "To improve local economic health, governments have to shift their dependence on other industries and services." In regions dependent more on mining and heavy industries, such as the northeastern provinces, "land-sale finance" is fast declining - for example, by 25.7 percent in Dalian and 22.8 in Shenyang, the two largest cities in Liaoning province. An official from the Liaoning provincial development and reform commission said that for northeastern provinces, economic transition is by no means easy. In contrast, cities such as Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, have less difficulty in earning sustainable tax revenue thanks to their larger diversity of industries and stronger innovative power. Xu Shuang, CEO of Shenzhen-based Acumen Robot Intelligence, said the city has for many years provided financial support and a good environment for startups and not many cities in China can offer the same level of benefits to entrepreneurs. Shenzhen's success is hard to copy, Gao said. But governments of other cities should respond more actively to the central government's favorable policies by creating new growth industries. The central government is also mulling imposing property tax, Gao said. If it is made into a law, it will allow local governments to have a recurrent source of revenue, instead of one-time income from land sales. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

US, Korea missile defence talks on despite objections by China, Russia (SCMP)
2016-04-30
The White House on Friday said talks to install a new anti-missile defence system in South Korea would continue in the wake of nuclear arms and missile tests by North Korea despite calls by China and Russia for the United States to back off. The United States and South Korea have begun 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 conducted missile tests. The nuclear test and missile launches violate UN resolutions against North Korea backed by Russia and China. US and South Korean officials have expressed concern the North could attempt a fifth nuclear test in a show of strength ahead of its Workers' Party congress, which begins on May 6. North Korea test-fired what appeared to be two intermediate range ballistic missiles on Thursday, but both failed, according to the US military. On Friday, the White House said it was still in talks with its close ally South Korea and that the system, if installed, would not threaten other countries. “Those discussions are ongoing,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. “That equipment would be oriented toward the threat that is posed by North Korea, not oriented toward China or Russia.” Speaking at joint press briefing with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier on Friday called on the United States to respect “legitimate concerns” of China and Russia over the missile system. “This move goes beyond the defensive needs of the relevant countries. If it is deployed it will directly impact China's and Russia's respective strategic security,” Wang said. “Not only does it threaten the resolution of the peninsula nuclear issue, it quite possibly could pour oil on the fire of an already tense situation, and even destroy strategic equilibrium on the peninsula.” North Korea's actions should not be used as an excuse to make moves that would escalate tensions, especially the US deployment of an anti-missile system, Lavrov said, according to an interpretation in Chinese. North Korea's drive to develop a nuclear weapons capability has angered China, Pyongyang's sole major diplomatic and economic supporter. But Beijing fears THAAD and its radar have a range that would extend into China. Chinese President Xi Jinping has said Beijing would not allow war and chaos to break out on the Korean peninsula. Earnest gave no timing on when talks with South Korea may concluded but added that “the United States is prepared to invest resources in keeping them safe.” North and South Korea remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, rather than a treaty. The North routinely threatens to destroy South Korea and the United States. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

President Elbegdorj meets Commerce Minister of China (Montsame)
2016-05-06
President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj received Thursday Mr Gao Hucheng, the Chinese Minister of Commerce who is on a visit in Ulaanbaatar to co-chair the 14th meeting of the Mongolia-China intergovernmental commission for the trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation. Expressing thanks to the President for an audience, Mr Hucheng said “During the state visit of Xi Jinping, the President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to Mongolia in 2014, the two countries upgraded the level of its partnership from strategic to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership. This has opened a new chapter in the history of the bilateral relations and brought mutual ties on their best moment. I would like to convey warm greetings of the President Xi Jinping to you, Mr President”, he said. Recalling his conversations regarding the bilateral relations and dialogue with the President of China Xi Jinping and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the PRC National People's Congress Zhang Dejiang respectively, President Elbegdorj highlighted that the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement is the most important document signed between the countries in past years. He said it is notable that the relevant Ministries and organizations are making great endeavors in this regard. “I see Mr Hucheng's visit to Mongolia as the visit that will give a great impetus to forwarding the implementation of intergovernmental agreements reached. I believe there will be an opportunity to meet the President of China Xi Jinping during a trilateral meeting of the State Heads of Mongolia, China and Russia on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization /SCO/ Summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in June. I have been reported that documents and agreements to be signed at the meeting are elaborated well,” President said. Mr Elbegdorj added that he hopes the Premier of the PRC State Council Li Keqiang will visit Mongolia during the 11th ASEM Summit to be held this July in Ulaanbaatar, and then conveyed his greetings to Xi Jinping. In turn, Mr Hucheng briefed about the results of the intergovernmental commission meeting which focused on ensuring the implementation of agreements reached during the state visits paid by Xi Jinping to Mongolia in 2014 and Elbegdorj to China in 2015 respectively. “Chinese side is attaching importance to an issue initiated by Mr Elbegdorj concerning meat export of Mongolia to China. By now, a start has been given to importing meat from five western provinces of Mongolia. Besides, China is currently considering a request Mongolia has forwarded on mobilizing the Tianjin port and other ports in northern region of China,” said Hucheng. The intergovernmental commission meeting also touched upon an issue of starting joint research regarding China-Mongolia economic free zone and launching joint projects of lerger scale. ^ top ^

Ambulances to be purchased for ASEM Summit (Montsame)
2016-05-05
The Council (Citizens' Representative Khural) of Ulaanbaatar city has decided to purchase 10 fully-equipped ambulances to be mobilized during the forthcoming 11th ASEM Summit, and an issue regarding exemption of the ambulances from customs tax and VAT has been left open for the consideration of the cabinet. The information was given by S.Lambaa, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Sports, at the 25th regular meeting of the National council for ASEM Summit preparations held Wednesday. After the event ends, the ambulances will be provided to the Ulaanbaatar First Aid Center, he commented. Other decisions made at the meeting covered the budget for preparations for the ASEM Meeting of Senior Officials and the Meeting of Finance Ministers, and outputting symbols and souvenirs for international delegates and liaison officers. The latter will be provided with uniforms. The media and public relations working group made a presentation on domestic TV channels to broadcast the Summit, furnishing of media centers and their services.. ^ top ^

Political parties receive certifications to run for elections (Montsame)
2016-05-04
The General Election Commission (GEC) Wednesday reported that it has registered 11 political parties and three coalitions to run for the forthcoming parliamentary elections after scrutinizing related materials and documents. In accordance with the registration order by the State Supreme Court, the GEC granted certifications entitling to run for elections to the Mongolian People's Party (MPP); Democratic Party (DP); “Sovereignty and Unity” coalition of the Sovereignty and Unity Party and the Mongolian Green Party; Mongolian Conservative United Party (MCUP); “Khaan Choice” coalition of the Development Party and the Mongolian Liberal Party (MLP); Republican Party (RP); Mongolian Social Democratic Party (MSDP); “Freedom Exercising" Party; Civil Movement Party (CMP); Democratic Movement Party (DMP); Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP); Unified Coalition of Patriots of the United Party of Patriots and the Labor Party of Pan-Mongolia; Mongolian Conservative Party (MCP) and “Cherish the People” Party. The GEC has not accepted requests of the National Labor Party (NLP) and the Civil Will-Green Party. Explaining the reason of rejecting their applications, the GEC secretary Ts.Boldsaikhan said the two political parties have not applied all necessary materials and other documents. ^ top ^

L.Purevsuren FM meets French Minister (Montsame)
2016-05-04
The Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs has met with Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, in Paris in scope of his visit to France, the Mongolian MFA published Tuesday. The Ministers discussed issues on a possibility of participation of the President of France Francois Hollande in the forthcoming 11th ASEM Summit this July in UB. Mr Purevsuren noted that France is a Third Neighbor and one of the major partners of Mongolia and added that the Mongolia-France cooperation has been intensifying in the political, economic and cultural spheres. In the light of its goal to diversify its economy, Mongolia aspires to collaborate with France in the agricultural sector, said the Mongolian Minister. In turn, the French Minister Mr Ayrault emphasized the bilateral relations have been developing dynamically and agreed with his Mongolian counterpart about a high significance of the upcoming 11th ASEM Summit. He said the French side believes that bilateral cooperation would progress in the areas of energy, space and other scientific spheres.  ^ top ^

L.Purevsuren FM addresses forum on Mongolian development (Montsame)
2016-05-03
On a visit to France, the Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr L.Purevsuren addressed the 12th forum themed “For Development of Mongolia” which took place on April 30 at the Galeries Lafayette, Paris. In his speech, the Foreign Minister gave details on the governmental policy towards Mongolians nationals residing abroad and programs on World Mongolians and promoting Mongolia abroad. Delegates from Mongolia, France, Great Britain, Italy and Germany delivered reports coming up with new ideas and best practices for introducing in the spheres of tourism, culture, art, architecture, IT and intellectual property of Mongolia. Co-organized by the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Embassy of Mongolia in France, the “Tsakhim ortoo” NGO, the Association of Mongolians in UK and the Council of Mongolians Abroad, the forum brought together over 140 representatives from Mongolia, France, Germany, UK, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Russian, USA and Japan.  ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-05-03
At its meeting on Monday, the cabinet approved the results of the 6th meeting of the Mongolia-Bulgaria intergovernmental commission for the trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation, held April 4-5 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Thus, tasks were given to the Minister of Food and Agriculture to adopt a plan of follow-up actions and ensure its implementation. - The cabinet considered as necessity to submit to parliament a bill on ratifying an intergovernmental agreement on convict exchange to be established between Mongolia and Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. - The cabinet backed joining the Acid Precipitation Monitoring Network in East Asia (EANET), and charged N.Battsereg, the Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism, to allocate necessary funds in the annual budget for the membership fee. The cabinet also resolved in favor of joining the Group on Earth Observations and sending in this regard an application to the organization. - Some governmental functions related to humanitirian affairs will be performed by the Red Cross Society of Mongolia (RCSM). - Head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government S.Bayartsogt presented the results of rural tours of the Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg to Uvs, Bayan-Olgii and Khovd aimags. - 5,000 tons of wheat seeds in reserves will be sold to land farming companies, farmers and entities under specific terms. ^ top ^

Speaker Z.Enkhbold meets parliamentary delegation of Japan (Montsame)
2016-05-03
Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold Monday received a delegation headed by Mr Kazunori Tanaka, member of the House of Representatives (lower house) of Japanese parliament and chairman of the external relations division at the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on a visit here. Thanking the Speaker for an audience, Mr Tanaka emphasized Mongolia is an important partner of Japan with traditional friendly ties, and expressed his satisfaction with broadening of the bilateral relations and cooperation in all spheres since the establishment of strategic partnership ties. Mr Tanaka said it is vital to develop multistage dialogue and to boost the inter-parliamentary ties in order to make implementation of the Mongolia-Japan strategic partnership more effective. The Economic Partnership Agreement to come into force very soon, is a symbol of bilateral relations, said Tanaka and added that he believes the Japan-Mongolia relations and cooperation will expand further. He was impressed with the construction works of a new international airport in Khoshig Valley in Tov aimag. Speaker Enkhbold said he is happy with the visit of the Japanese lawmakers, and underlined that boosting friendly relations and cooperation with Japan is one of the priorities of the Mongolian foreign policy. Mongolia attaches a great importance to the strategic partnership relations with Third Neighbor - Japan, said Enkhbold and acknowledged contributions of Speakers of the Upper and Lower Houses of Japanese parliament; their members; and members of the Japan-Mongolia friendship groups. Mr Enkhbold said the EPA plays a particular role in augmenting reciprocal investment flows, services, products and peopl-to-peopl contacts and in connecting Mongolia to the regional and global markets as well as the economic integration. The agreement will help Mongolia to draw Japanese investments and introduce know-how and to export products to Japan and other markets, he said. Training Mongolian workers in Japan, teaching them Japanese language, high-tech and advanced professions have become common necessities, so Mongolia wants the Japanese side to focus attention on these matters, Mr Enkhbold said. The parties shared views on widening the bilateral relations and cooperation, and other issues. ^ top ^

Credit agreement of 1 billion US dollars signed with India (Montsame)
2016-05-02
A general credit agreement of one billion US dollars was signed by G.Ganbold, the Ambassador of Mongolia to India and by David Rasquinha, the Executive Director of the Exim Bank of India, during the 5th meeting of the Mongolia-India intergovernmental committee for cooperation held on April 28 in New Delhi. The loan will be granted to Mongolia for several infrastructure development projects. The intergovernmental meeting was co-chaired by Mr L.Purevsuren, the Mongolian Foreign Minister and Mr Vijay Kumar Singh, the Indian Union Minister of State for External Affairs. The sides shared views on ongoing actions for expanding the Mongolia-India friendly relations and cooperation in all spheres, regional and international issues of mutual concern. Following the meeting, the Foreign Ministers exchanged credentials on ratifying an intergovernmental agreement on convicts exchange, and then signed a related protocol. ^ 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