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
  30.5-3.6.16, No. 625  
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Switzerland

China seizes oil tanker and detains Swiss trading company employee in tax evasion probe (SCMP)
2016-06-01
China seized an oil tanker and detained several people last month, including one employee of Swiss trading house Gunvor, as part of a probe into suspected tax evasion on imported oil, Chinese and trading industry officials said. Gunvor confirmed its employee had been detained for questioning without naming him. It said it had not been notified of a formal arrest or any charges against its employee. “Gunvor itself has not been formally notified of any investigation involving the company,” a Geneva-based spokesman for the company said. He said that following the detention the company had looked into the activities of its employee and found no wrongdoing. China has stepped up efforts to crack down on fuel smuggling, which has increased after authorities raised consumption taxes on oil products in 2014, creating price gaps between prices abroad and at home. China imports the lion's share of commodities it consumes from many trading houses and has investigated their employees before. Chinese customs views import tax evasion as smuggling. The customs office for Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province in southern China, said it had seized a foreign-flagged tanker and detained several individuals. It said it was investigating suspected smuggling of light cycle oil (LCO), a refinery by-product for diesel blending, without identifying the vessel or the individuals. A senior official at China Changjiang National Shipping Group Corp said that its vessel, the Hong-Kong-flagged CSC Friendship, had been held “to help investigations” of Guangzhou customs. Gunvor said it had delivered oil products aboard Friendship into China on May 10 to 14, but added that “no vessel while under charter by Gunvor has been detained”. “Gunvor's business in China is otherwise ongoing,” it said. Two Chinese industry sources with knowledge of the situation said the detained Gunvor employee was Yin Dikun, managing director of Gunvor Singapore. Gunvor declined to disclose the identity of the employee. It said that following the detention of its Singapore office employee it had appointed Timothy Legge, its chief risk officer, as acting managing director of Gunvor Singapore. Under Chinese customs rules, taxes on fuel imports must be paid by local importers. Gunvor did not say who it sold the cargo to. Zhou Jule, chairman of China Base Ningbo Group, based in eastern city of Ningbo, said his company had been the import agent for the cargo. He said the cargo had been detained as part of a probe and that his staff had been summoned by the Guangzhou customs, but not detained. China Base re-sold the cargo to Twinace Oil, a Guangzhou based fuel dealer, according to Chinese sources with knowledge of the transaction. Twinace declined to comment. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China's foreign minister scolds Canadian journalist for asking question about human rights (SCMP)
2016-06-02
China's visiting foreign minister publicly berated a Canadian journalist on Wednesday for asking a question about his country's human rights record. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said it was “irresponsible” of a journalist from the web outlet IPolitics to ask about human rights and the detention of a Canadian, Kevin Garratt, who is charged with espionage. Wang appeared visibly angry as he delivered the scolding in the lobby of Global Affairs headquarters at a joint news conference with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion. “Your question is full of prejudice and against China.... I don't know where that comes from. This is totally unacceptable,” Wang said through a translator. “Other people don't know better than the Chinese people about the human rights condition in China and it is the Chinese people who are in the best situation, in the best position to have a say about China's human rights situation,” he continued. “So I would like to suggest to you that please don't ask questions in such an irresponsible manner. We welcome goodwill suggestions, but we reject groundless or unwarranted accusations.” The IPolitics question was agreed to by a number of journalists representing several news organisations at the event. Wang asked the journalist if she'd ever been to China. “Do you know that China has lifted more than 600 million people out of poverty? And do you know that China is now the second-largest economy in the world from a very low foundation?... And do you know China has written protection and promotion of human rights into our constitution?” Earlier, in response to the question that offended his counterpart, Dion said he raised Garratt's case with Wang and never misses an opportunity to raise human rights and difficult consular cases. Garratt was indicted by prosecutors in Dandong, a city on the North Korean border where he and his wife ran a popular coffee shop and conducted Christian aid work for North Koreans. He and his wife Julia were arrested in August 2014 by the state security bureau. His wife was later released on bail. Dion said he and Wang had honest and frank conversations on human rights and consular affairs. Wang also met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Wang said he believed Canada and China were headed for a “new Golden Age” in relations, citing Justin's father's establishment of diplomatic relations with China in 1970 and gains made by former liberal prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin. Wang made no mention of former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, whose near-decade in power started on a frosty note when he was accused of snubbing Beijing. Trudeau made positive strides with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his first round of international travel last autumn. The Chinese leader praised the vision of Trudeau's late father, Pierre, for establishing diplomatic relations with the People's Republic in 1970 during a meeting at the G20 in Turkey. ^ top ^

South China Sea tensions set to overshadow annual China-US strategic and economic dialogue (SCMP)
2016-06-02
The fraught relationship between China and the United States will be put to another test soon when top officials meet in Beijing early next month amid heightened tensions in the South China Sea. While the world's two largest economies have a host of tough bilateral and global issues to address, China's escalating maritime disputes with its neighbours, which have plunged regional diplomacy into stormy waters, look set to overshadow the annual strategic and economic dialogue scheduled to start on Monday. Just weeks ahead of a contentious international court ruling on China's expansive claims, the rivalry between Beijing and Washington is on full display, with both sides indulging in the occasional sabre-rattling and antagonistic diplomacy. A heated spat broke out in mid-May over a close encounter between Chinese fighter jets and a US military reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea, which the Pentagon described as “an unsafe intercept”. That followed Beijing's denunciation of a US guided missile destroyer's passage within 12 nautical miles of Fiery Cross Reef, China's largest man-made island in the disputed waters in one of the world's busiest trade routes, in a freedom of navigation operation earlier in the month. Leaders of the Group of Seven leading economies also expressed concerns on Friday over rising maritime tensions in the region without naming China or any other rival claimants by name. With US President Barack Obama leaving office in January and Sino-US ties facing much uncertainty, analysts say both Beijing and Washington may have limited room to manoeuvre in terms of offering concessions on contentious bilateral issues. The priority at this year's talks would, instead, be on containing rising tensions to minimise the likelihood of miscalculations, accidents or serious disruptions in bilateral ties, while also maintaining a robust, high-level communication channel to ensure continued engagement. In the lead-up to the dialogue, senior diplomats and military officers have launched a flurry of bilateral talks in recent weeks aimed at defusing tensions and mending strained ties. A Chinese delegation, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and the assistant chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, Lieutenant General Ma Yiming, held “candid, constructive discussions” on maritime security issues with their US counterparts in Washington on May 19. Senior defence officials from both nations also met in Hawaii last week in a bid to seek consensus on avoiding maritime and airspace security mishaps, according to mainland analysts. […] Daniel Russel, Assistant Secretary of the US State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told a briefing on Tuesday the US would use the occasion to express its concerns, including the South China Sea, China's management law, human rights issues, cyber security and discriminatory regulations against foreign business. Jin said: “While the US is likely to take issue with China on the alleged militarisation of the South China Sea, China certainly wants to expand the scope of bilateral cooperation to manage and control growing strategic competition. It'll be worth it if they can help cool the already tense situation in the South China Sea.” Cross-strait relations, shrouded in uncertainty since the inauguration of new Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen this month, are also likely to be covered in the dialogue. But Zhu Zhiqun said it would not be a dominant topic because “it is too early to tell what cross-strait relations will be like in the years ahead”. Analysts also said this year's dialogue, the eighth and last major bilateral meeting for the Obama administration, needed to take stock of the dialogue mechanism's successes and failures amid uncertainty over its future. “I think both sides will need to work on the question of whether the security and economic dialogue should still exist after the inauguration of a new US president next year,” Zhu Feng said. “As Sino-US relations become increasingly complex, such regular high-level talks should be given even more prominence.” Analysts also agreed that Sino-US ties might face a difficult future. “The US looks set to get tougher on China with both Democratic and Republican party [presidential] nominees Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump pledging hardline approaches towards Beijing,” Jin said. But Tao and Zhu Zhiqun both said they believed that no matter who became the next US president, Beijing and Washington would maintain a similar, high-level communication channel, even though it could be under a different name. “The mainstream view in the US is to stay engaged with China through various channels,” Zhu Zhiqun said. “It will be harmful and counterproductive if the security and economic dialogue mechanism cannot be maintained.” ^ top ^

China strongly condemns terrorist attack in Mali (Xinhua)
2016-06-01
China on Wednesday condemned the terrorist attack in Mali in which a Chinese peacekeeper was killed and four others were injured. According to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying,the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was attacked Wednesday morning. "We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and express our heartfelt sympathy to the wounded and the families of the victims," Hua said. The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council are taking the attack very seriously, Hua said, noting that emergency response and follow-up measures had been launched immediately. As the attack targeted UN peacekeepers, Hua said, it was a terrible, intolerable crime. China strongly condemns the terrorist attack and has asked the Mali government and the UN to investigate the incident immediately, Hua said. Hua reiterated that the Chinese government firmly supports international peace and stability in Africa. At present, more than 2,400 Chinese peacekeepers are operating in seven African task areas including Mali, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hua said. China will continue to participate in international peacekeeping operations and contribute to peace and security in Africa. ^ top ^

Mitsubishi Materials reaches deal over forced Chinese labour during second world war (SCMP)
2016-06-01
Mitsubishi Materials, one of dozens of Japanese companies that used Chinese forced labourers during the second world war, reached a settlement on Wednesday covering thousands of victims that includes compensation and an apology. The deal was signed in Beijing with three former workers representing the company's more than 3,000 Chinese victims of forced labour, Mitsubishi Materials said in a statement. The victims were among about 40,000 Chinese brought to Japan in the early 1940s as forced labourers to make up for a domestic shortage of workers. Many died due to violence and malnutrition amid harsh treatment by the Japanese. Under the settlement, Mitsubishi Materials will pay 100,000 yuan (HK$118,000) to each of the Chinese victims and their families. The victims were forced to work at 10 coal mines operated by Mitsubishi Mining, what Mitsubishi Materials was known as at the time. The company said it would try to locate all of the victims. The company's payments would total 370 million yuan if all of them come forward. At the signing ceremony in Beijing, the company “expressed its sincere apologies regarding its historical responsibility to the former labourers and the apologies were accepted by the three former labourers,” the company's statement said. Mitsubishi Materials also said it would construct memorials at the sites where the company's mines were located and organise commemoration events. The settlement comes two years after several groups representing the victims and their families filed a compensation lawsuit against Mitsubishi Materials. The sides had since negotiated settlements, though one of the groups, representing 37 plaintiffs, has rejected the settlement, according to Japan's Kyodo News agency. Japan's government has long insisted that all wartime compensation issues were settled under the postwar peace treaties, and that China waived its right to pursue compensation under the 1972 treaty with Japan that established diplomatic relations between Beijing and Tokyo. Lawsuits filed in Japan by Chinese and Korean victims of Japanese wartime aggression, including former forced labourers and comfort women, had previously been rejected. Japan's Foreign Ministry acknowledged the country's wartime use of Chinese forced labourers after wartime documents were found in the early 1990s. The settlement announced on Wednesday is the first that Mitsubishi Materials has reached with former forced labourers. At least two other Japanese construction companies – Kajima and Nishimatsu – have taken similar steps to compensate smaller groups of victims. Last year, Mitsubishi Materials apologised for its treatment of former US prisoners of war. ^ top ^

Beijing works on air defence zone in South China Sea (SCMP)
2016-06-01
China is preparing an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea, two years after it announced a similar one in the East China Sea, according to sources close to the People's Liberation Army and a defence report. But one source said the timing of any declaration would ­depend on security conditions in the region, particularly the United States' military presence and diplomatic ties with neighbouring countries. “If the US military keeps making provocative moves to challenge China's sovereignty in the region, it will give Beijing a good opportunity to declare an ADIZ in the South China Sea,” the source said. The revelation came ahead of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, a security forum attended by defence officials from various nations, including Admiral Sun ­Jianguo and US Secretary of ­Defence Ash Carter. Disputes in the South China Sea are expected to head the agenda of the three-day event, which starts on Friday. Top Chinese and US officials will also meet next week for their annual strategic and economic dialogue in Beijing. In a written response to the South China Morning Post on the zone, the defence ministry said it was “the right of a sovereign state” to designate an ADIZ. “Regarding when to declare such a zone, it will depend on whether China is facing security threats from the air, and what the level of the air safety threat is,” the statement said. China set up its first ADIZ in the East China Sea in November 2013 to cover the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan calls the Senkakus. Both countries claim the uninhabited outcrops but Tokyo controls them. The ADIZ triggered a backlash from Japan, South Korea and the US. Tensions between China and neighbours Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines over sovereignty in the South China Sea have risen since Beijing ­embarked on major land reclamation work on disputed islands and reefs in the area. A report in Canada-based Kanwa Defence Review said Beijing had defined the area of the ADIZ in the South China Sea, and the timing of the announcement would be a political decision. The report said the new ADIZ would be based on the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Woody Island and China's seven new artificial islands in Spratly chain, or 200 nautical miles stretches from the islands' baseline. “China's new ADIZ will overlap with the EEZs of Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia, which are also planning their own ADIZs – with US backing – if China ­announced it,” Kanwa editor-in­chief Andrei Chang said. Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military commentator, said the seven artificial islands in the Spratly chain had laid the foundations for China to establish its ­ADIZ in the South China Sea. But Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said there were signs that ­regional tension would ease after Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to Duterte on Monday, saying China hoped “the two sides can work together to bring bilateral relations back on a healthy track”. ^ top ^

PLA admiral to make China's case at security forum (SCMP)
2016-06-01
China will send a senior military official to annual security talks in Singapore this weekend, a meeting which is expected to be dominated by disputes in the South China Sea. Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People's Liberation Army, would lead the delegation at the Shangri-La Dialogue, which runs from Friday to Sunday, the defence ministry said on Tuesday. Sun would deliver a speech and take part in bilateral and multilateral meetings with representatives from other countries, it said. US Defence Secretary Ash Carter will also attend the gathering, according to William Choong, the forum's senior fellow of Asia-Pacific security. The event comes ahead of a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on a case brought by the Philippines that challenges the legality of China's claims in the disputed waters. Choong said the issue would “generate much discussion and debate”. Shi Yinhong, an expert on Sino-US relations at Beijing's Renmin University, said China should expect a “siege” by the US and other Asian countries at the talks. The opposition would be more intense than last year when China had temporarily stopped land reclamation on reefs and atolls and had yet to build many military facilities. “This year China has done a lot to increase military deployment in the South China Sea,” Shi said. At the US Naval Academy last week, Carter criticised China's interception of a US surveillance aircraft about two weeks ago in the region. His comments were seen by China as provocative, according to Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military observer. China was also wary of US moves to ally with the Philippines and Vietnam in an attempt “to form an Asian version of Nato”, he said. Sun was expected to present the views of President Xi Jinping that China “will not make any trouble, but does not fear any trouble”, said Li Jie, a Beijing-based military expert. Li said Beijing would also stress that “if the US or others continues to challenge China's determination to defend its territorial integrity and maritime rights, China will effectively react and firmly strike back”. Sun is in charge of international relations for the People's Liberation Army. He has often spoken on the South China Sea issue, and also represented China at last year's forum. ^ top ^

China seeks to boost security in South Sudan (Xinhua)
2016-06-01
Chinese government on Tuesday donated logistic supplies worth one million US dollars to South Sudan for implementation of security arrangements in the country. Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan Ma Qiang donated the supplies, which included 20 prefab houses, 1,080 military tents, 10,000 boxes of instant food, 4,300 blankets, 2,000 mosquito nets, 50 diesel generators, 10 solar generators, 500 electric fans, and 500 flashlights. Ma said the donation followed a request extended by the government of South Sudan at the end of last year and would help facilitate the transitional security arrangements by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), the body which oversees the implementation of the peace deal and Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC). "I am very glad to see that through the coordination of JMEC and JMCC, a distribution plan of these materials has been made. We hope that a fair and effective distribution of the donation could be carried out to bring those materials to proper areas," Ma said. The Chinese envoy said China will always remain committed as a true friend and sincere partner for the world's youngest nation as Juba embarks on reconstruction. ^ top ^

China supports comfort women files nomination to World Memory (Xinhua)
2016-05-31
China on Tuesday reaffirmed its support for joint efforts in nominating comfort women files to the Memory of the World Register. "As far as we know, some NGOs from countries and regions where comfort women suffered are preparing to jointly nominate the files," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a routine press briefing. "We are supportive of this," she added. The Memory of the World Programme, established in 1992 by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), preserves the world's most important documents. "The enslavement of women was a crime by Japanese militarists during World War II," Hua said, adding that inscribing the files in the UNESCO register will help people everywhere realize the cruelty of war, cherish peace and protect human dignity. Historians estimate that about 200,000 comfort women from China, the Korean Peninsula and Southeast Asia were forced to serve in Japanese military brothels during WWII. ^ top ^

China to provide 10% of UN peacekeeping budget (Global Times)
2016-05-31
China will shoulder one tenth of the budget for UN peacekeeping operations between 2016 and 2018, just behind the US, the UN Peacekeeping chief told the Xinhua News Agency on Sunday. UN's official website said the top three contributors between 2013 and 2015 to UN Peacekeeping Operations were the US (28.38%), Japan (10.83%) and France (7.22%). China was in sixth at 6.64%. Hervé Ladsous, UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, said that China is the second largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and also the largest troop provider of the UN Security Council's five permanent members. In September, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to build a standby peacekeeping force of 8,000 troops. Official data shows up to May 2015, 30,178 peacekeeping officers and soldiers have been sent to peacekeeping operations, the China Youth Daily reported. According to the report, Chinese peacekeepers have renovated and built roads spanning 110,000 kilometers and more than 300 bridges. They have also diffused 9,400 landmines and explosives, shipped 1.1 million tons of materials, completed 450 patrols and 230 convoys, and treated about 149,000 patients. "Chinese units are well-equipped and well-trained," Ladsous said, adding that Chinese peacekeepers are prepared for the tasks and disciplined. He said that in the future, the UN can work with China on peacekeeper training and on bringing in modern equipment to peacekeeping operations. However, since Chinese peacekeepers were mostly assigned to the least developed areas in the world, they regularly faced violence. Apart from gang violence, tensions and fighting among refugees from different ethnic groups or families, often involving large numbers of people and weapons, have also put Chinese peacekeepers in jeopardy. They likewise constantly faced a lack of food and water, according to previous reports. Notwithstanding these challenges, Chinese peacekeepers have a record of "zero repatriations, zero discipline violations and zero battle casualties," which has received praise from the international community, said Xu Naigang, deputy director of the International Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Public Security. ^ top ^

China, Russia vow to seek stronger energy, SMEs cooperation (Xinhua)
2016-05-30
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and his Russian counterpart Arkady Dvorkovich agreed here on Monday to enhance cooperation on energy and between small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The agreement came as the two vice prime ministers co-chaired the 13th meeting of the China-Russia Energy Cooperation Committee and attended the second China-Russia SEMs Forum in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi. During the energy meeting, Zhang spoke highly of the steady development of comprehensive strategic partnership of collaboration between China and Russia under the guidance of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He called for both sides' concerted efforts to make preparations in the field of energy for the upcoming meetings between Xi and Putin. Zhang said the energy cooperation between China and Russia have expanded and deepened with smooth development on energy trade and substantial progress on strategic major energy projects since the 12th meeting of the energy cooperation committee was held in Beijing in November last year. He encouraged both countries to consolidate confidence, further expand areas and models of cooperation so as to jointly build strategic ties of cooperation on energy that benefit both countries and peoples. Echoing Zhang's remarks, Dvorkovich said the comprehensive strategic partnership of collaboration between Russia and China has entered into a new stage. Both countries support each other on key issues concerning sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, said Dvorkovich, adding that this is in line with both sides' fundamental interests and development and Russia is satisfied with it. The deputy prime minister said Russia is ready to work with China to forge ahead bilateral energy cooperation with more outcomes. The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on cooperation in the fields of natural gas, oil, coal, electricity, nuclear energy, technical equipment and renewable energy, reaching broad consensus. After the meeting, Zhang and Dvorkovich signed the protocol of the meeting. Energy cooperation is a core part of China-Russia cooperation. According to statistics released by China's General Administration of Customs, in spite of a sharp decline in overall bilateral trade in 2015, Russia came as the second largest oil supplier to China last year with a volume of 42.43 million metric tons, up 28 percent compared with 2014, when China overtook Germany as Russia's top crude oil consumer. In his address to the SMEs forum, Zhang hailed the important role the SMEs have played in boosting economic growth and improvement of livelihood. Calling SMEs "the driving force" of substantial cooperation between the two countries, Zhang said the cooperation among them enjoys a broad prospect and potential. He called on both sides to promote the steady growth and structure optimization of bilateral trade, create new engines for economic innovation and new areas of cooperation through cooperation among SMEs. Zhang said the Chinese economy has entered into a phase of "new normal," but it is highly resilient and has much potential and ample space to grow. Chinese economic fundamentals remain favorable for long-term growth, he added. China will stick to the reform and opening up policy so as to create a fairer, more transparent, stable and expectable environment for companies from all countries, Zhang said, welcoming Russian companies to invest in China. Dvorkovich, in his address, encouraged enterprises from both countries to take the opportunities of synergizing China's Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union to seek new economic growth points in areas of energy, aviation, telecommunication, ship building, high-speed train, transportation, agriculture and cooperation in neighboring regions. He promised that Russia will step up to lift barriers in the fields including policy access, intellectual property protection and taxation in the hope of creating better condition for both countries' companies. ^ top ^

China 'may need a rethink' as Vietnam moves closer to US (SCMP)
2016-05-30
The stepped-up military ties ­between Vietnam and the United States is a worrying sign to Beijing, even though Hanoi is unlikely to acquire advanced American weapons, analysts say. Some added that Beijing had not anticipated Vietnam would strike such a partnership with Washington, and called on Beijing to adjust its posturing in the South China Sea. Last week, US President Ba­rack Obama lifted a decades-long embargo on lethal arms sales to Hanoi, saying the change would ensure that Vietnam had access to necessary equipment for defence. “What worries Beijing is the prospect of an increasingly close strategic partnership between the US and Vietnam. The lifting of the arms embargo is a poignant symbol of this – and a sign of just how far US-Vietnam ties have come in recent years,” Ashley Townshend, a research fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, said. Townshend said Vietnam was unlikely to become a US ally, but Beijing was worried about where the deepening defence ties ­between the two countries – and between other partners and Washington – might lead. China and Vietnam have ­promoted political and economic connections in recent years, with bilateral trade topping US$60 billion, but ties have soured recently over South China Sea territorial disputes. Phuong Nguyen, an associate fellow with the Southeast Asia Programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said Vietnam was unlikely to turn away from Beijing. But China would scrutinise how US-Vietnam defence ties ­developed, and might need to think twice when handling the disputes, she said. “My understanding is that Beijing believed Vietnam would never go the extra mile to the United States because of political and human rights differences,” Nguyen said. But Hanoi realised it had to ­improve ties with Washington in light of the crisis triggered in 2014 by the deployment of a Chinese oil rig in the disputed waters, which led to massive anti-China protests in Vietnam. Amid the crisis, Hanoi found that its communication mechanisms with Beijing failed to deescalate tension. “Hanoi realises that it cannot tap into any of these mechanisms it has invested so much into building with Beijing,” Nguyen said. Zhang Mingliang, an expert in Southeast Asian affairs at Jinan University, said concerns over China's military presence and construction activities on its artificial islands in the South China Sea had pushed Vietnam towards the US, and it was time for Beijing to reassess its approach with its neighbours. Townshend said Beijing had few options for dealing with Vietnam's pursuit of closer ties with the US, other than using the prospect of lucrative trade and investment deals as a form of leverage. But unless Beijing reined in its conduct in the South China Sea, it was unlikely to alter the region's efforts to side with America to balance China's influence, he said. ^ top ^

China, Bangladesh pledge to boost cooperation (Xinhua)
2016-05-30
China and Bangladesh on Sunday agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation during a meeting between visiting Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan and Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid. Bangladesh and China have long been working closely in various fields and the cooperation has yielded fruitful results, said the Bangladeshi president. Bangladesh has always stood together with China on issues concerning China's core interests and international affairs. The country also firmly supports the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, said Hamid, adding Bangladesh is willing to have sincere collaboration with China as the two countries jointly promote regional prosperity and development. He expressed hope that the two armies would maintain the current positive momentum of cooperation and enhance cooperation and exchanges in all areas and levels so as to contribute to the development of bilateral ties. For his part, the Chinese defense minister said China and Bangladesh has witnessed healthy and stable development in exchanges and cooperation in various fields since the two countries established diplomatic relations 41 years ago. China is willing to work together with relevant countries, including Bangladesh, to actively promote the Belt and Road Initiative and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, to bring tangible development benefits to the people of the countries and advance regional peace and stability, said Chang. Friendly cooperation between the two armies has grown steadily and rapidly in recent years, with frequent high-level visits, continuously deepening pragmatic cooperation and fruitful cooperation on personnel training, the minister said. He expressed hope that the two armies would earnestly implement the important consensus reached between leaders of the two countries and strengthen friendly cooperation to provide strong support and guarantee to bilateral relations. During the meeting, Chang also elaborated on China's position and propositions on the South China Sea issue. The Bangladeshi president said his country firmly supports China's position on the South China Sea issue and believes the disputes should be resolved through direct negotiation and consultation by parties concerned. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Veteran lawyer on quest to reform judicial system from within (Global Times)
2016-06-03
His pink shirt matching his rosy complexion, Chen Youxi, 61, one of the country's most prestigious lawyers, looks far more energetic and younger than his age. While he can make millions of yuan from a single case, this time Chen came a long way from Zhejiang Province to Beijing for a case for free. In his eye, this case is worth his efforts as it brings changes to China's judicial system. On May 7, Lei Yang, 29 and father of a newborn, mysteriously died when he was detained during a police raid on a brothel. His death drew nationwide attention, as many speculated that it was the use of excessive force by police that led to Lei's death. Five policemen involved in the case are now under investigation. "I'm sure Lei Yang's case will have a good outcome. The truth will be brought into the light," Chen told the Global Times in his nonstandard Putonghua, confidently. Sitting at the hall of the Media Center Hotel in Haidian district of Beijing, Chen said that he has recently come "under pressure." His Sina Weibo account, which contains posts concerning Lei Yang, has been blocked. "This is the first time that I have been banned from posting in my career as a lawyer," said Chen. "But I won't confront this ban directly. That will be of no use. I will still focus on what I have to do," he said. Before Lei's case, Chen had gained fame for his work as a defense lawyer in a series of major national cases, including that of Li Zhuang in 2009. The case was a milestone in Chinese legal history as Li, a former criminal lawyer, had been prosecuted for allegedly asking his client to fabricate testimony. Li's client was arrested in Chongqing's anti-mafia campaign when Bo Xilai was Chongqing Party chief. Unlike most lawyers in China, Chen has 16 years' experience holding important positions in the government's judicial organs in Zhejiang Province, including in the public security department, politics and law committee and the province's higher people's court. "Compared with most lawyers, I have a better understanding of how the judicial system works in government. Therefore, I can deal with them better," he said. Chen graduated from Hangzhou University (now known as Zhejiang University) in 1982. Upon graduation, he was chosen as one of 200 young talents and given government positions. Li Qiang, now Zhejiang's governor, was one of them. In his early days, Chen showed promise as a politician, and rapidly rose through the ranks. In his third year after graduation, he became the vice director of the Ninghai county police. A year later he was promoted to the Zhejiang provincial public security department. A year after that, he served as the secretary for Yuan Fanglie, alternate member of the 12th CPC Central Committee, and a year later he became the secretary for the president of Zhejiang Province's higher people's court. "In today's environment, people would think I had to have connections to be promoted so quickly, but I'm just the son of a farmer," he told the Global Times. Chen had set his goal of becoming a department-level cadre by the age of 40, but the 1989 political turmoil upset his plans. His way up the career ladder ended because of his dissidence over how the turmoil should be handled. […] But Chen's tactics have been criticized by some lawyers, who said he was trying to curry favor with the government in order to make money. "These people don't know about me. Money is not what I care about at this stage of my life. What I care about is pushing forward the development of legal construction," he said. Chen has four rules when choosing his cases. The first is that he must believe the client has been wrongly accused. The second is that the case has to have social impact and can help push forward China's legal development, such as Li Zhuang's and Xia Junfeng's case. Xia was a vendor in Shenyang in Liaoning Province who murdered two urban management officials during a conflict in 2009. The third rule is whether the client is in a minority group who needs help. The fourth is it must be lucrative. "Now I make money from being a lawyer for businessmen and then provide free services for poor people," he said. In Lei and Xia's case, he did not charge them any fees. Chen noted that currently, the "fundamental problem" existing in China's judicial system is that "justice is not independent." As a lawyer, he stressed that the bottom line is maintaining "fairness and justice." "I get pressure from the government, lawyers, misunderstanding from society and doubts from some clients. I often feel lonely," he said. Talking about the future, Chen said he "hopes young graduates in law can help realize a long-term vision and can contribute to judicial development."  ^ top ^

Efforts to combat extremism defended (China Daily)
2016-06-02
A government white paper defended on Thursday China's efforts in fighting religious extremism, saying it is a just act to safeguard the fundamental interests of the country and the people. In the name of religion, extremists spread radical and extremist views and use such means to try to establish a theocracy, the paper said. Religious extremism is by nature "anti-human, anti-society, anti-civilization and anti-religion", according to the white paper, titled Freedom of Religious Belief in Xinjiang. It tackles the protection of religious belief in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in seven parts. Religious extremism betrays and distorts religious doctrines, deludes and deceives the public - particularly young people, according to the white paper. It transforms some people into extremists and terrorists, said the document, issued by the State Council Information Office. Under international influences, religious extremism has grown and spread in Xinjiang in recent years. The white paper states that it has become a real danger that undermines national unity and ethnic solidarity, sabotages religious and social harmony, impairs social stability and peace in Xinjiang, and endangers the lives and property of people from all ethnic groups. Religious extremists have planned and carried out a series of severe and violent terrorist attacks in China, killing or injuring religious personnel, believers and other innocent people, according to the white paper. Shewket Imin, an official with the Xinjiang regional committee of the Communist Party of China, said at a news conference that the key to combating extremism lies in local communities, where problems tend to form. Another official attending the news conference was asked about Ilham Tohti - a Uygur teacher imprisoned for life in 2014 for separatism - and said the sentence was based on the facts. Jerla Isamudinhe, vice-governor of the Xinjiang regional government, said, "The judgment did not target any particular ethnic group or religion." The white paper said that normal religious activities in Xinjiang are protected by law, religious organizations are responsible for coordinating internal religious affairs, and the government should not interfere. "No Xinjiang citizen has been punished because of his or her rightful religious beliefs," it said. Xi Yanchun, spokeswoman for the information office, said the religious circle in Xinjiang has played a great role in maintaining regional safety, promoting the local economy and providing better services. ^ top ^

Environment bulletin shows progress in fight against pollution (China Daily)
2016-06-02
China saw environmental improvements last year with large reductions in many airborne pollutants and severely polluted surface water, according to the annual bulletin on national environment quality released on Thursday. However, the report found that 265 of the 338 cities surveyed failed to reached national air quality standards, and more needs to be done to protect underground aquifers. The bulletin, released by the Environmental Protection Ministry, examined all aspects of the nation's environment from air and water quality to farmland and forest coverage and levels of background radiation. It showed a general improvement in air quality last year, with the 74 major cities that were monitored exhibiting a 14.1 percent year-on-year decrease in levels of PM2.5 — fine particulate matter with a diameter less than 2.5 microns that is harmful to health. Among the 338 monitored cities nationwide, 21.4 percent reached the national air quality standards last year, the bulletin said. In 2014, 161 cities were regular conducting air quality monitoring and only 9.9 percent of these reached the national standard, according to the bulletin. Xia Guang, director of the Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, told China Central Television on Thursday that the current action plan against air pollution was working, but more effort was required to help the majority of cities reach national standards. To further control air pollution, the central government has allocated more funds — around 10.7 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in 2015 — to fuel the local governments' efforts in reducing emissions of air pollutants by shutting down heavily polluting companies, for example. Water pollution is another issue. There are 972 surface water monitoring stations in China on 423 waterways, covering 10 of the country's major river basins — including the Yangtze and Yellow rivers. Of these stations, 8.8 percent reported water quality of a standard so poor last year that it could not be used for any purpose, whether for drinking, irrigation or industrial use — this being the bottom tier in the national water quality system, and a 0.4 percent year-on-year reduction on 2014 levels. China plans to expand the number of monitoring stations to 2,767 by the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), the ministry said in March, to further reduce pollution and facilitate efforts to improve water quality. Underground water supplies are another matter. Among the 5,118 subterranean monitoring stations scattered across 202 of the nation's cities, 63.3 percent reported water quality last year in the bottom two tiers of the five-tier national water quality system, the bulletin showed. In 2014, 61.5 percent of the then 4,896 monitoring stations reported water quality that fell into the bottom two tiers. Elsewhere, China saw a 107,300-hectare decrease in farmland last year, with more than 645 million hectares of farmland recorded nationwide. ^ top ^

Chinese police officer probed over death in custody of man held after visiting massage parlour (SCMP)
2016-06-02
Five people, including at least one Chinese police officer, are being investigated over the mysterious death of a 29-year-old well-educated environmentalist while in custody after being detained after visiting a foot massage parlour in early May. Lei Yang's unexplained death on May 7 has sparked a national outcry. Beijing's Changping district prosecution department completed a preliminary investigation a few days ago into the death of Lei, who had been held by local police on suspicion of soliciting prostitutes, according to the official Weibo account of Beijing's procuratorate. The department said it had concluded that the case met the conditions for further a investigation. On Wednesday the procuratorate's website said five people, including a police officer, were to be investigated over Lei's unexplained death. Lei, a graduate of the prestigious Renmin University in Beijing, who worked for an environmental organisation affiliated with the mainland government, was detained after being intercepted by a number of plainclothes officers before being found dead while in a custody on May 7. The outcry over his death led to days of online calls by lawyers and internet users demanding an inquiry to find out if his death was a result of torture by police while in custody. In the face of the mounting public pressure, Lei's case was assigned to the fourth branch of the Beijing municipal prosecution department to carry out an investigation, the procuratorate's Weibo message said. Its website added: “On June 1, the fourth branch of the municipal prosecution department in Beijing decided to investigate a total of five people, including a police officer with the surname Jia, based at the Dongxiaokuo police substation in the Changping district police bureau, before informing relatives of Lei in accordance with relevant procedures.” The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau has pledged to continue cooperating with the prosecution department's investigation. Meanwhile, Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun has vowed to boost the public's sense of safety and satisfaction by cracking down on various crimes to address outstanding problems following complaints made during a conference attended by high-ranking police officers, the ministry's official website reported. “[We must] handle cases involving any police officer who has been found to have committed mistakes in the line of duty to ensure they strictly abide by relevant laws, instead of protecting them illicitly and covering them up,” Guo said. ^ top ^

We've suffered 27 years of state terror, Chinese mothers of Tiananmen victims say ahead of anniversary (SCMP)
2016-06-01
Mothers of some of those killed in China's crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement say they have lived through 27 years of state-led “terror and suffocation” and vow to continue pushing for the truth ahead of this weekend's anniversary of the events. An open letter signed by 131 members of the Tiananmen Mothers and published by the overseas advocacy group Human Rights in China said victims' families had endured constant harassment and intimidation by security services for pursuing justice for their loved ones. “For us, family members of the victims' families, it has been 27 years of [state] terror and suffocation,” the letter said. “For 27 years, the police have been the ones who have dealt with us,” it said, listing a string of measures including electronic snooping and surveillance of family members, fabricated accusations and intimidation. “All these actions undoubtedly desecrate the souls of those who perished in [the crackdown] and insult the honour of the living,” the letter said. Yet, the women said they were convinced their campaign would eventually produce a full and objective reckoning of the events. The letter condemns the government for apathy, accusing Beijing of ignoring pleas by family members and wiping out public memory of the movement and the bloody crackdown on the night of June 3-4, 1989. The government insists it was necessary to send in troops and tanks to quell what it has labelled a violent uprising. The letter was partially prompted by tightening security following the death of Jiang Peikun, husband of Ding Zilin, one of the most prominent Tiananmen mothers, said Yin Min, a fellow member. They have been forbidden to visit Ding since April 22, Yin said. Ding, whose 17-year-old son Jiang Jielian died in the crackdown, declined to be interviewed when reached by phone on Wednesday. As the face of the group, she has been subject to the most severe restrictions. “It feels that there's no end in sight. We are all at ages where death can happen any day, and we'd like to see the truth revealed and justice upheld while we are still alive,” said Yin, whose 19-year-old son, Ye Weihang, was also killed. We believe we have the obligation and the right to tell the public how we have lived those 27 years and to urge the government to take action,” Yin said. Another Tiananmen mother, Zhang Xianling, said she remained optimistic. “Isn't there a report that someone has lived to 105? I think I will live to the day when justice comes,” said Zhang, who lost her 19-year-old son Xu Jue. Each year's anniversary brings a tightening of restrictive measures, with family members confined to their homes or forced to leave Beijing. Ignored by the state-controlled media, they are forbidden from publicly commemorating the deaths of their loved ones. Even private events linked to the crackdown are banned, and overseas rights groups have reported that police hauled away at least three pro-democracy activists who attended a commemorative dinner in a Beijing home ahead of the anniversary. Despite such threats, the letter expressed faith that justice would eventually come. “We use our immense maternal love to declare publicly to future generations: do not succumb to brute force, confront all evil forces with courage, and justice will prevail,” the letter read. ^ top ^

President Xi says China faces major science, technology 'bottleneck' (China Daily)
2016-06-01
Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that the country faces a major science and technology (S&T) bottleneck and a big gap in innovation capacity. "The situation that our country is under others' control in core technologies of key fields has not changed fundamentally, and the country's S&T foundation remains weak," Xi said at a Monday S&T conference. In his speech, which was made public in full on Tuesday, Xi set the target of China becoming a leading power in S&T by the middle of this century. "Currently, the state needs the strategic support of science and technology more urgently than any other time in the past," said Xi. He noted that China is highly dependent on the import of high-end new materials and patented medicines, and China is advancing research in deep sea and space exploration. They are among a number of strategic areas in urgent need of breakthroughs. The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has outlined scientific and technological strategies until the year 2030, he noted. He encouraged scientists and technicians to respond to major strategic demands, strive to advance research into core technologies and move to the world's S&T "high ground." Stressing the reform of S&T management, Xi called for strengthened consultation for decision making and high-level S&T think-tanks. Besides, major S&T decision-making should be conducted according to a constituted mechanism, rather than officials' whims, Xi said, adding that S&T experts should no longer have to follow their superiors' orders. Xi called for a national technological innovation center with support from enterprises, and highlighted the role of enterprises in S&T innovation as "major players in innovation decision-making, research and development as well as the translation of lab results to production." He called for a sound environment for S&T personnel. China has the world's largest army of S&T workers, which makes world-level research possible, the president noted. Scientists should not be rushed for the sake of "making progress" and constrained by rigid systems, he said. Monday's conference conflates the national conference on S&T innovation, the biennial conferences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), and the national congress of the China Association for Science and Technology. Xi recalled that in January 1956, Mao Zedong and other state leaders heard reports from chief CAS scientists on sci-tech development at home and abroad, and then the CPC Central Committee initiated the call of "marching toward science." At the national science congress in 1978, Deng Xiaoping made the important remarks that science and technology are productive forces, ushering in a "spring" for the country's science circles. In 1995, addressing the national conference on science and technology, Jiang Zemin called on the nation to implement the strategy of rejuvenating the nation by promoting science and education. In 2006, Hu Jintao deployed the implementation of the country's middle and long-term program for sci-tech development from 2006 to 2020, and mobilized the whole nation to build an innovation-oriented country during a national conference on science and technology. In 2012, China's top leaders called for the country to become more innovative in science and technology and to integrate science and technology with social and economic development while attending the national conference on science and technology innovation. During Monday's meeting, Xi said intellectual property rights must be better protected, and a distribution policy whereby knowledge has greater value should be implemented. He listed examples of such distribution policies such as raising profits that scientists and researchers get from translating lab results to industrial production, and offering innovators various incentives including stocks, options and bonuses. ^ top ^

60,000 orphans in China receive free health insurance (Xinhua)
2016-06-01
More than 60,000 orphans were granted free health insurance on Wednesday in honor of the Children's Day. The children, including Tibetans from the plateau province of Qinghai, are the latest beneficiaries of a Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) and China Children Insurance Foundation (CCIF) program launched in July 2009. "The insurance contract will take effect today. It's the best gift our organization can offer to the children. And we hope more people can join us to help them," said CCIF managing director Heidi Hu. The insurance, which is covered by donations and lasts for at least 12 months, is for underprivileged children and MCA-registered orphans. More than 440,000 orphans have benefited from the program since it began, according to Hu. CCIF has already issued more than 1.2 million insurance contracts for orphans from 24 provincial regions. Each child is insured for 100,000 yuan (15,180 U.S. dollars) at a premium of 50 yuan (7.59 U.S. dollars) per year to cover the cost of treating 12 critical illnesses, including malignant tumors and conditions requiring organ or stem cell transplants. Mei, a 17-year-old diabetic from the eastern province of Shandong, survived serious complications from the disease in March. She received insurance last year, when she was 16, the upper age limit to receive orphan benefits in China.8 "Mei's mother died after giving birth to her, and her father died in a car accident several years later. She is taken care of by her elder sister and relatives. But when it comes to such a serious disease, the family can't afford the treatment and we're glad to help," said Hu. Officially, China has more than 570,000 orphans. However, the actual number is believed to be much higher, as those living in remote areas or who have relocated to cities with migrant worker relatives may not be counted. "We still have a long way to go," said Hu, adding there is hope for more funding from a growing number of small donors who give to the charity program via online payment platforms. Previously, donations were mainly from large enterprises. Nearly 80 percent of donations last year came from online charity donation platforms, and CCIF has raised some 20 million yuan (3.03 million U.S. dollars) since 2009 through online fundraising, she said. ^ top ^

Chinese court expected to uphold five-year jail term for rights lawyer (SCMP)
2016-05-31
A provincial high court is expected to uphold a five-year jail term handed down to a former human rights lawyer after it heard an appeal related to his conviction for “inciting subversion of state power”, his lawyer said on Tuesday. The Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court sentenced Tang Jingling, 45, in January – along with two other activists, Yuan Chaoyang and Wang Qingying, who were jailed for 3½ years and 2½ years, respectively. The Guangdong Higher People's Court was due to issue its verdict on Tuesday after both Yuan and Wang appealed against the intermediate court's decision. Tang had refused to lodge any appeal against the January verdict because he considered the system “an unjust court serving an autocracy”, his lawyer, Ge Yongxi, said. But Tang's case was included in the appeal hearing that reviewed the verdicts against the other two men because the charges against all three activists were closely linked. However, Ge said he did not know the outcome of the appeal. “The clerk at the provincial high court was already there with the written [appeal] verdict,” Ge said after meeting his client at a Guangzhou detention centre. “But he would not hand it to Tang in my presence.” Ge said he was sure the original ruling would be upheld. “It is impossible for the Guangdong Higher People's Court to make an independent, just ruling,” he said. “Therefore we don't think there will be any change in the result of such a political case. The original verdict is bound to be upheld, without doubt.” He also said there would be no hearing to announce the result of the appeal. Instead, a written verdict would be handed directly to Tang and the other two activists. Ge also accused the Guangdong court of breaching criminal procedure law by not questioning Tang during the appeal hearing. “The [court's] explanation was that because Tang did not file any appeal, it was unnecessary to interrogate him [again],” Ge said. “But this is a distorted understanding of the law, which requires interrogation, even if there is no actual hearing.” Tang, Yuan and Wang were detained for more than a year ­before facing trial last July. The charges against them were upgraded from “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” in ­mid-2014 to “inciting subversion of state power”. The three activists were among more than 300 signatories of Charter 08, a manifesto published on December 10, 2008, calling for changes such as an end to one-party rule, the creation of an independent legal system and freedom of expression. Tang, originally from Hubei province, has been a prominent advocate of non-violent civil disobedience for the past two decades. According to the original verdict, Tang was expected to remain in prison until April 29, 2019. ^ top ^

Husband of Chinese legal assistant detained for a year 'worried for her safety' (SCMP)
2016-05-31
The husband of a 25-year-old assistant to a Chinese rights lawyer has expressed worries about her well-being almost a year after she was detained in Tianjin. Zhao Wei, an assistant to lawyer Li Heping, was arrested for “subversion of state power” in early January after being detained since July 10 last year. “We haven't seen her since she was taken away for almost a year. Neither have the lawyers who are representing her,” You Minglei, her husband, told the South China Morning Post. He was worried for her safety, he said, as rampant incidents of harassment in police custody are widely circulated on social media. “We're likely to visit her after June 4 [the anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre],” You said. In early July last year, police launched a series of operations in at least 23 provinces, regions or municipalities, which led to detention of more than 100 lawyers, rights activists, petitioners and their relatives. Zhao was among seven lawyers or legal assistants of Fengrui Law Firm in Beijing, who were put under investigation, after police searched the firm in Beijing on July 10. The move was condemned by human rights groups. ^ top ^

After China's one-child policy relaxed, fertility clinics see rush of older parents hoping to conceive (SCMP)
2016-05-29
Beijing's decision to allow all married couples to have two children is driving a surge in demand for fertility treatment among older women, putting heavy pressure on clinics and breaking down past sensitivities, and even shame, about the issue. The rise in in-vitro fertilisation points to the deferred dreams of many parents who long wanted a second child, but were prevented by a strict population control policy in place for more than 30 years. That, in turn, is shifting prevailing attitudes on the mainland regarding fertility treatments – formerly a matter of such sensitivity that couples were reluctant to tell even their parents or other family members that they were having trouble conceiving. “More and more women are coming to ask to have their second child,” said Dr Liu Jiaen, who runs a private hospital in Beijing treating infertility through IVF, in which an egg and sperm are combined in a laboratory dish and the resulting embryo transferred to a woman's uterus. Liu estimated that the numbers of women coming to him for IVF had risen by 20 per cent since the relaxation of the policy, which came into effect at the start of the year. Before, the average age of his patients was about 35. Now most of them were older than 40 and some of the women were fast approaching 50, he said. “They have a very low chance to get pregnant so they are in a hurry. They really want to have a child as soon as possible,” he said. Chen Yun is 39 and was in the hospital waiting to have the procedure for the first time. She and her husband already have a seven-year-old son and their families are encouraging them to have a second child. “We are coming to the end of our childbearing years. It may be difficult for me to get pregnant naturally because my husband's sperm may have a problem, so we want to resolve this problem through IVF,” she said. Chen said she hoped having a brother or sister would make their son happier, more responsible and less self-absorbed. “We had siblings when we were children. I had a younger sister and we felt very happy when playing together,” she said. “Now that every couple has one child, two generations – parents and grandparents – take care of the child. They give the only child too much attention.” If her son has a younger brother or sister to look out for, he may not “think too much about himself like a little emperor,” Chen said. Over the past two decades, IVF technology has developed rapidly in China, where about 10 per cent of couples are estimated to need the procedure to conceive. In 2014, 700,000 women had IVF treatments, according to the health commission's Women's and Children's Department, which said in a statement that demand for all types of fertility treatment had risen following the policy relaxation, including the use of traditional Chinese medicine. “Currently, fertility centres at renowned medical organisations in Beijing and Shanghai and others are under increased pressure for treatments,” the department said. Previously, the mainland limited most urban couples to one child and rural couples to two if their first was a girl. There were exceptions for ethnic minorities, and city dwellers could break the policy if they were willing to pay a fee calculated at several times a household's annual income. While authorities credit the policy introduced in 1979 with preventing 400 million extra births, many demographers argue the fertility rate would have fallen anyway as China's economy developed and education levels rose. Intended to curb a surging population, the policy has been blamed for skewing China's demographics by reducing the size of the future workforce at a time when children and society face increasing demands from the growing ranks of the elderly. It also inflated the ratio of boys to girls as girl fetuses were selectively aborted, while compelling many women to have forced abortions or give up their second children for adoption, leaving many families devastated. The National Health and Family Planning Commission said in November that 90 million women would become eligible to have a second child following the policy change. Authorities expect that will add 30 million people to the country's labour force by 2050. Those projections could be overly optimistic since many younger Chinese see small families as ideal and would be reluctant to take on the cost of raising a second child. When the policy was changed in 2013 to allow two children for families in which at least one parent was an only child, it spurred fewer births than authorities expected. Also under pressure are the mainland's sperm banks, which already suffer shortages owing to a reluctance to donate among young men unwilling to father children they won't know or fearing their offspring may turn up at their door one day despite donor confidentiality. “The relaxing of the one-child policy certainly gave an impetus to the demand for sperm as more women, usually aged around or above 35, came for assistance,” said Zhang Xinzong, director of the Guangdong Sperm Bank in southern China. Calls have also gone out for a loosening of China's adoption law, which currently states that only couples with no children can adopt, while also allowing couples with one child to adopt a disabled child or an orphan. The Ministry of Civil Affairs didn't respond to a question on whether the law would be changed, and it couldn't say whether the number of couples seeking adoption had risen since the policy change. It said there were 109,000 children available for adoption in the custody of governmental institutions, 90 per cent of whom were disabled and 60 per cent severely disabled. Zhang Mingsuo, a professor at Zhengzhou's University's School of Public Administration, said few couples were willing to adopt disabled children “because they worry about the possible heavy medical expense”. ^ top ^

Three Communist Party cadres receive promotions crucial to China's power transitions next year (SCMP)
2016-05-29
About 18 months away from the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party, three cadres with links to the top leadership ­recently received important promotions, including two being named provincial governors. The appointments were crucial to next year's power transition, midway through the present term of President Xi Jinping (習近平) and Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), and the appointees all stood a good chance of being promoted further during the party congress, said Chen Daoyin, an associate professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law“. The year before Xi's second term [as party general secretary] starts is crucial for cadres' ­appointments and could be seen as a prelude for next year's reshuffle,” he said. “The appointments would look too rushed if they were made next year.” To the surprise of some, Lin Duo, considered a protege of the party's anticorruption chief Wang Qishan, was appointed governor of Gansu (甘肅) province in April. The appointment of Lin, 60, was unusual as he has never worked in the western province, nor has he been a governor of any province. Lin's ­appointment, which made him a provincial cadre, effectively postponed his retirement for five years until 2021. Lin was Wang's subordinate during his four-year stint in the Beijing city government. Lin again reported to Wang in 2014, when Lin oversaw the provincial anticorruption body of Liaoning (遼寧) province. Wang has been head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's top anticorruption body, since 2012. The previous governor of Gansu, Liu Weiping, is still two years shy of retirement for his level and was named deputy principal of the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a position with very limited political power. Meanwhile, Hu Heping, 54, was also promoted in April as governor of Xi's home province of Shaanxi (陝西), his third new position in 21/2 years. The appointment makes Hu, with a doctorate of civil engineering from the University of Tokyo, the country's second youngest provincial ­governor. Hu's career in Shaanxi started as late as last April, a year and a half after he entered politics. For more than 10 years, Hu was a Tsinghua University colleague of Chen Xi, who is now the first ranking deputy director of the Communist Party's powerful organisation department, which oversees cadres' appointments at vice-ministerial level or above. Chen was Xi's classmate and roommate at college. Xi's former subordinate, Wang Xiaohong, now Beijing's police chief, was appointed deputy public security minister earlier this month. Wang was Xi's former subordinate during the president's entire stint in Fujian (福建) province. Wang, 57, began his career in Fujian, where he remained until August 2013. During that time, Wang held various positions such as director of the Minhou county public ­security bureau and director of the Fuzhou (福州) public security ­bureau. He later became the ­police chief of Xiamen (廈門) ­before moving to Henan (河南) province. He was appointed city police chief of Beijing last March. The Ministry of Public Security has seen major personnel movements since Xi came to power. Four of the seven deputy ministers have been appointed since 2012. “Whoever holds power will trust those with common experience,” Chen said. “The Ministry of Public Security is responsible for political safety and its absolute loyalty must be guaranteed.” The ministry was once heavily influenced by Zhou Yongkang (周永康), the party's former security tsar and Xi's political foe. Zhou was jailed for corruption and abuse of power last year. The 19th party congress, which will see a major power reshuffle at the the top of the party, is scheduled for autumn next year. Five of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the party's top decision-making body, will reach retirement age. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet expands protection of sky burial (China Daily)
2016-06-02
Tibet will increase its spending on the protection and maintenance of the region's sky burial sites, it's department of civil affairs said. The regional government will invest 165 million yuan ($25 million) this year on 47 sky burial sites, most of them close to religious buildings. Each site will be assigned up to 5 million yuan, which will finance repairs and protection work, according to the department. Sky burial is a Tibetan and Mongolian custom which the bodies of the dead are fed to predatory birds, in place of cremation, so that their souls may ascend to heaven. Aiming to create a proper environment for sky burials and respect tradition, the regional Department of Civil Affairs proposed to the central government that financial support be offered for sky burial sites. Under the proposal, the region would move to improve 256 key sites in five years. "We will renovate 100 sites using subsidies from the central government," said Tenzin Ngodrub, deputy director of the social welfare and social affairs office of the department. "Our goal is to respect this unique custom and to make it more convenient for residents to practice the ritual." Tenzin explained that the local authorities want to make participation more convenient by improving roads to the sites, and outfitting locations with useful facilities, including buildings for religious activities, stoves and garbage bins. The authorities are also mulling legislation covering sky burials, Tenzin said. Pawo Samtenling Nunnery, which was built about 400 years ago in Qonggyai county, was one of the first beneficiaries of the program. It is expected to act as a blueprint, said Champa Drolkar, a principal nun at the nunnery. The nunnery has a 1.4 kilometer fenced-off enclosure with around 100 vultures, as well as two dedicated rooms for mourners to rest and for the bodies to await sky burial. In addition, a waste storage tank was installed for burial waste. "A fence alone is not enough to prevent wild dogs from entering the site," said Sonam Rigzin, head of the civil affairs bureau at Shannan city, which administers Qonggyai county. At least one body is handled each day, sometimes three or four. A dozen nuns take turns to help with the ceremony. They participate in a rotation, with two taking part at a time. They chant sutras for the deceased, summon the vultures and clear the burial waste, said Champa Drolkar. Resident Namgyal, 68, said he hopes to be laid to rest in the traditional way. "The protection of sky burial sites is very important," he said. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang has 24,800 venues for various religions: white paper (China Daily)
2016-06-02
There are 24,800 venues for religious activities in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, with 29,300 clerical personnel, a government document revealed on Thursday. Among them, there are about 24,400 mosques housing 29,000 clerical personnel, according to a white paper titled Freedom of Religious Belief in Xinjiang, published by the State Council Information Office. The venues also include 59 Buddhist temples, 227 Protestant churches or meeting grounds, and 26 Catholic churches or meeting grounds. One Taoist temple and three Orthodox churches or meeting grounds are also in operation in the region, the white paper said. Xinjiang also has eight religious colleges, including the Xinjiang Islamic Institute and Xinjiang Islamic School, it said. "The Xinjiang government attaches equal importance to administration and services. While legally administrating religious affairs, it endeavors to satisfy believers' normal religious requirements," it read. The training of clerical personnel has been strengthened, said the document, mentioning that the State Administration for Religious Affairs has facilitated the training of more than 500 clerical personnel on Islamic scripture interpretation for Xinjiang since 2001. Channels for believers to gain religious knowledge have been expanded. Religious classics and books have been translated and published, including the Koran and Selections from Al-Sahih Muhammad Ibn-Ismail al-Bukhari, in the Uygur, Han Chinese, Kazak and Kirgiz languages. From 2014 to 2015, Xinjiang has distributed 43 Islamic publications in different languages of minority ethnic groups, totaling over one million copies, the white paper said. Religious classics on Buddhism and Christianity are also published and distributed. Besides, the Xinjiang Islamic Association publishes the magazine Xinjiang Muslims in the Uygur, Han Chinese and Kazak languages, providing free copies to mosques and clerical personnel. It has also opened the "Xinjiang Muslims" website in the Uygur and Han Chinese languages. Religious organizations also hold training classes on religious knowledge and etiquette for believers, according to the white paper. ^ top ^

White paper stresses religious independence, self-management against "foreign domination" (Xinhua)
2016-06-02
China upholds the principle of independence and self-management in religious undertakings and foreign organizations and individuals must not interfere, a white paper said here Thursday. The white paper titled Freedom of Religious Belief in Xinjiang, published by the State Council Information Office, said China's religious undertakings are run by its own religious groups, personnel or citizens, and that the country's religious affairs or organizations are "not subject to any foreign domination." Foreigners must abide by Chinese laws and regulations when participating in religious activities within Chinese territory and must not interfere in China's religious affairs, it read. "As a provincial-level administrative region of China, Xinjiang sticks to the principle of independence and self-management in terms of its religious affairs," it said. It went on to say that the Chinese government resolutely opposes the politicization of religious matters and any other country's interference in China's internal affairs in the name of religion. "China... will never allow any foreign organization or individual to interfere with China' s religious affairs," the white paper said. ^ top ^

Xinjiang to relocate over 26,000 rural poor in 2016 (China Daily)
2016-05-30
Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region plans to relocate over 26,000 people from poor regions this year, at a cost of more than 1.5 billion yuan ($230 million). Xinjiang regional development and reform commission plans to move 7,692 families scattered across 463 villages as part of a promise to help 200,000 people find new homes by 2020. During the past five years, 1.74 million people in Xinjiang were lifted out of poverty and the poor population has been more than halved to 15 percent. Xinjiang aims to help its remaining 2.61 million poor residents out of poverty by the end of 2020. ^ top ^

Xinjiang's first foreign bank branch enter hi-tech zone (China Daily)
2016-05-29
The Urumqi State High-tech Zone (New District) in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Habib Bank Ltd (HBL) of Pakistan signed a contract on Thursday for a branch in the zone, which will be the region's first headquarters and branch of a foreign bank. At the signing ceremony, Deputy Mayor of Urumqi Gao Feng delivered a speech, saying that as all-round financial cooperation is essential to economic growth in the context of economic globalization the HBL Urumqi Branch, which is also the bank's first business institution in China, will be of great significance in boosting the "China-Pakistan Economic Corridor" (CPEC) and the economy of Xinjiang -- the core of the "Silk Road Economic Belt'. He promised the city's full support to the bank with favorable conditions and quality services. Gao noted that becoming an international financial center is a key element of the zones innovative development, and requires restructuring of industries and shifting of growth patterns. The new branch will help the zone achieve that goal by broadening international funding, enhancing cooperation with south Asian countries, and realizing cross-border RMB settlements. The zone will continue advancing the modern financial services industry in a good investment environment, said Gao. He expressed his hope that the two countries will enjoy mutual development and long-lasting friendship, and that the bank and the Urumqi zone will make profits together through trust to serve development of the CPEC. Farhan Talib, head of the HBL's Beijing representative office, responded that the HBL has benefited from President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan and China's CPEC system, and said that it will strengthen financial cooperation with Xinjiang, especially in growing Urumqi into an international city and the Urumqi high-tech zone into an international financial center. In recent years, the Urumqi high-tech zone has adjusted its development priority to favor the financial industry, while keeping up advances in high-tech industries. In addition to branches of 16 banks including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, the Bank of China, and the China Construction Bank, the zone has attracted more than 400 financial institutions handling equity investment, such as the Xinjiang equity trading center (first of its kind in Northwest China), the Xinjiang mineral resources trading center (Xinjiang's only corporate mining service center), Xinjiang Jinlian Reloan Co (Xinjiang's first financial investment firm sponsored by the region's State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission), and Shenwan Hongyuan Group Co (Xinjiang's largest listed company in 2015). HBL, established in 1947, is the largest private bank in Pakistan, with 1,600 branches, 1,700 ATMs, and over 9 million clients in the country. It has set up 67 foreign branches, subsidiaries and affiliates in 28 countries and regions, including major financial centers such as London, New York, Brussels, Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong. The biggest shareholder of HBL is the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development in Switzerland (51 percent). By the end of 2014, HBL owned 18.36 billion dollars in assets. Farhan and Hao Jianmin, head of the zone, signed the contract with Shu Pucheng, member of the zone's standing committee, chairing the ceremony. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hundreds of Hongkongers march to remember June 4 Tiananmen crackdown on pro-democracy (SCMP)
2016-05-29
The turnout of the annual march commemorating the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 has dropped by half this year amid a rising localist sentiment in Hong Kong. Only 1,500 Hongkongers have joined the march from Wanchai to the Beijing's liaison office in Western District on Sunday, according to the organisers, comparing to the 3,000 last year. Police put the figures at 780 at the protest's peak. Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, denied the drive in pressing Beijing to admit the wrongdoing 27 years ago had lost appeal, especially from Hongkongers. The alliance has been organising the march and candlelight vigil in Victoria Park since 1990. “We are satisfied with the turnout, which has its ups and downs in the previous years,” said Tsoi, adding he had seen even fewer participants in the past and believed the upcoming vigil would be a better indicator of public support. The drop came amid a growing rift between the younger generation and the Hong Kong Alliance. The student unions of the city's universities would boycott the annual candlelight vigil in Victoria Park next Saturday as they disagree with one of the organisers' key demands – “to build a democratic China”, with some student leaders said the commemoration should come to an end. The march yesterday was apparently dominated by the middle-aged, but young social work students from Shue Yan University and Baptist University did stand out to show the public they did not side with the views of student leaders. “The June 4 incident is not just a matter concerning China but one of the most brutal crackdowns in recent years. Hong Kong should not steer clear of it,” Lui Chun-yin, of the Shue Yan University, said. His university's student-run editorial board had earlier attacked the Hong Kong Alliance, calling its leaders “pimps and bawds in a brothel”. Miss Ng, a 21-year-old student at Hong Kong Design Institute, also said it was critical to continue the drive. “The authority is trying to hide this piece of history,” she said. “Our power [to demand Beijing admitting the wrongdoing] would be greater if we stay united.” Old citizens who have insisted joining the march for more than two decades also acknowledged the importance of remembering what happened in Beijing 27 years ago. Lai Luen-sing, 84, said the students had the right to argue otherwise, but the evil deeds committed by the Communist Party should never be forgotten. “Even the 1989 student movement has been vindicated, we still need to commemorate it,” Lai said. Mr Lee, a 48-year-old accountant, said he would still join the vigil although it was “a bit ritualistic” as it was important “to show China and the world there is still a group of people who have not forgotten what happened [in Tiananmen Square].” ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Cyberattack on Taiwan's ruling party pinned on hackers from Chinese mainland (SCMP)
2016-06-02
Hackers on the Chinese mainland were likely to be behind an attack on the website of Taiwan's ruling party, a US-based security firm said on Thursday, as the island warns of growing cyber threats. Cross-strait relations have turned increasingly frosty since Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen of the mainland-sceptic Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won elections in January and took office last month, with Beijing wary that the new government may seek independence. The island has been self-ruling since the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war – but Beijing still sees it as part of its territory. The party's website came under attack in early April, redirecting visitors to a fake website, California-based FireEye said in a statement. The tactic was one often used by mainland hackers, it said. Administrators fixed the problem the next day but the website was compromised again a few days later, suggesting the site is being monitored, according to the statement. “FireEye believes this operation likely reflects continued efforts by China-based cyber-espionage operators to collect intelligence related to the DPP as it moves Taiwan away from [mainland-friendly] policies,” it said. The Taiwanese government has raised concerns that its websites frequently fall prey to mainland hackers. Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation and Communication said in a report to a legislative committee last month that the scale of cyberattacks on the island was “near warfare”. It added the most active hackers were from the mainland and had infiltrated the island's systems including defence, air traffic, and communication. The defence ministry said it would establish a “cyber army”, one of the policies put forth by Tsai during her campaign. ^ top ^

Taiwan's former president Ma Ying-jeou to make landmark visit to Hong Kong (SCMP)
2016-06-02
Taiwan's former president Ma Ying-jeou is planning to visit Hong Kong this month, a trip that would make him the most senior ex-leader from the island to come to the city since 1949. In what will be his first public appearance outside Taiwan since leaving office on May 20, Ma said he was invited as a keynote speaker for this year's presentation of the Society of Publishers in Asia (Sopa) awards. “I got the invitation in January and after thinking it over, I decided to attend the event in order to increase international society's understanding of Taiwan,” Ma said outside his home in Taipei on Wednesday. Ma's office said he would speak about cross-strait ties during his time as the island's leader between 2008 and 2016. “The former president will share his thoughts about cross-strait ties, the significance of the historic November meeting with his mainland counterpart Xi Jinping, East Asian relations, and the increasing tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea,” a spokeswoman from his office said. Ma is due to attend the awards ceremony and dinner on June 15. The spokeswoman said Ma would take a Taipei-based China Airlines late afternoon flight to Hong Kong and return by the last flight that day to avoid “malicious speculation” about his Hong Kong visit. Ma would not take part in any other activities while in Hong Kong, she said. Ma, of the mainland-friendly Kuomintang, also said that except for the host and members of Sopa, he had no plan to meet anybody in the city, including his daughter who lives with her husband in Hong Kong. Presidents of mainland China and Taiwan to have first official meeting since 1949: Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou head to Singapore( The Presidential Office said Ma sent in his request to visit Hong Kong on Wednesday. “The paperwork is still under way,” Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang said. A presidential official said that as the newly retired president, Ma needed the office's consent to make trips abroad over the next three years under the law governing senior officials' access to classified government documents and secrets. “But as long as he is not going to mainland China, there should not be a problem for him to get ­approval,” the official said. Ma's office said he was applying for a Hong Kong visa. Asked if Ma would be granted a visa, the Hong Kong Immigration Department said it would not comment on any individual case. “In handling each entry application, the department will, in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong and prevailing immigration policies and having regard to the circumstances pertaining to each application, decide whether the application will be approved,” the department said Ma was born in Hong Kong in 1950. He last visited the city in February 2001 in his capacity as mayor of Taipei. ^ top ^

Beijing expresses dissatisfaction after Taiwan's new President Tsai Ing-wen swaps 'consensus' for 'historic fact' (SCMP)
2016-05-30
The mainland's top agency ­dealing with Taiwan affairs has ­expressed dissatisfaction with the inaugural speech of the island's new president, Tsai Ing-wen, after she shunned mention of the term “1992 consensus”. The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council demanded that Tsai – the island's first woman president who was sworn in yesterday morning – take appropriate steps to prove her sincerity in maintaining cross-strait relations. “Tsai made no concrete proposal for ensuring the peaceful and stable growth of cross-strait relations,” the office said in a statement. “This [her speech] is an incomplete test answer... The Taiwan authorities must give an explicit answer with concrete actions to all these major questions and face the test of history.” The Communist Party's official People's Daily said in a commentary that the mainland's stance on sovereignty had not changed, and that the anti-secession law passed by the National People's Congress in 2005 was still an effective legal tool to contain Taiwanese independence. In her inaugural speech, Tsai avoided explicitly mentioning the word “consensus”, saying instead that she respected the “historic fact” that a meeting took place in 1992, during which Taiwan and the mainland sought common ground and tried to set aside their differences. “I respect this historic fact,” Tsai said. “Based on such existing realities and political foundations, the stable and peaceful development of the cross-strait relationship must be continuously promoted.” The consensus refers to the understanding struck between unofficial representatives of Beijing and Taipei that there is only “one China” but that each side can have its own interpretation of what constitutes “China”. The Beijing-friendly Kuomintang government under the leadership of former president Ma Ying-jeou had since 2008 supported the consensus, while Tsai's independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, which won a landslide victory over the KMT in January's poll, has all along refused to endorse it. In her speech yesterday, Tsai said that in 1992, two institutions representing each side across the Taiwan Strait, through communication and negotiation, arrived at various joint acknowledgements. This was done in the spirit of mutual understanding and a political attitude of seeking common ground while setting aside differences, she said. But Hu Shiqing, an expert at the Taiwan Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, pointed out that “the ['historic fact' of the] meeting” and the “consensus” were two different things. “Acknowledging the consensus is a precondition of the development of cross-strait ties... Tsai's speech failed to address the problem [of whether she acknowledges the 1992 consensus],” Hu said. Tsai pledged that her government would handle cross-strait affairs in accordance with the constitution of the Republic of China – Taiwan's official name – which includes the “one China” concept. She also said her government would abide by the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area containing the concept that both Taiwan and the mainland are treated as areas under one China before reunification. She called for Taipei and Beijing to “set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides”. Her administration would “work to maintain peace and stability” in cross-strait ties in line with the Taiwan's constitution, but it must also respect the “democratic principle and prevalent will” of the 23 million people on the island, she said. On the complex security situation in the Asia-Pacific region, Tsai admitted that cross-strait relations had become an integral part of building regional peace and collective security. Analysts said it remained to be seen if Beijing would opt for cooperation and dialogue with Taipei, given that Tsai hoped to use the term “1992 historic fact” to replace the “1992 consensus”. They said Beijing might not be satisfied, but it could accept what she said in the end. “By mentioning the ROC constitution and the Taiwan and mainland areas, it is hard for Beijing to say that she is violating the one-China principle,” said Alexander Wang Chieh-cheng, a professor of strategic and American studies at Tamkang University. Tsai also pledged to “safeguard the sovereignty and territory of the Republic of China” and deal with problems rising in the East China Sea and South China Sea by proposing a dispute settlement system to enable joint development in those areas. Some DPP members have said there is no need for Tsai's government to pay attention to the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, which are claimed by Japan and Taiwan, or the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, claimed in part or wholly by Taipei, Beijing, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam. Tsai also said her government would pursue an economic model for sustainable development based on innovation, employment and equitable distribution. The American Institute in Taiwan said the US looked forward to working with the new Tsai administration. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

North Korean envoy tells Xi Jinping nation will not scrap its nuclear programme (SCMP)
2016-06-01
A North Korean envoy has told China's President Xi Jinping that his nation will continue to develop its nuclear programme. Ri Su-yong, a vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, told Xi on Wednesday in Beijing that Pyongyang's policy of developing its nuclear programme and economy together remained unchanged, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported. China has been angered by North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and relations between the traditional allies have been rocky for several years. Despite Ri's reference to North Korea's dual-track policy, the meeting at the Great Hall of the People was held in “a friendly atmosphere”, according to the North Korean report. Chinese official media reports about the meeting on Wednesday, which marked Xi's first talks in three years with a senior North Korean officials in Beijing, did not touch on Ri's remarks about the country's dual-track policy on nuclear weapons and its economy. The state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as telling the envoy that China would work with North Korea to safeguard, consolidate and ­develop the two nation's friendship. China also hoped all parties ­involved in the North Korean ­nuclear issue would exercise ­restraint to better aid communication, Xinhua quoted Xi as telling Ri, a former North Korean foreign minister. Analysts said the meeting was a significant development in the improvement of relations between the two nations. “The meeting sent out a positive signal that both countries are actively seeking to improve bilateral relations,” said Yu Shaohua, director of the Department for Asia-Pacific ­Security and Cooperation at the China Institute of International Studies. Ties have suffered since the North carried out a fourth nuclear test in January and followed it up with a long-range rocket launch in February. In response, China joined the rest of the United ­Nations Security Council in backing tough sanctions. Yu said the two countries' differences over the North's nuclear programme would take time to resolve. Xi has never met the North's leader Kim Jong-un, but sent a message to ­congratulate him on his election as ruling party chairman at a congress last month. Beijing did not send an envoy to the political gathering, but the Pyongyang ­delegation was due to brief Chinese officials on the meeting. Xi said the visit suggested Kim attached great importance to ties between the parties, as well as the two nations. Yu said it was a tradition for China and North Korea to update each other after a major party congress. “Although it is a bit late … both sides have placed a high emphasis on developing bilateral relations,” she said. Daniel Russel, the top American diplomat for East Asia, said on Tuesday that high-level talks between the US and China in Beijing next week would provide an ­opportunity to “game out” how to ­pressure the North to agree to negotiations on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. “That's not unconditional surrender. That's a reasonable and consistent objective of ours. We have a vastly improved chance of getting that with China's full ­cooperation,” Russel said. “The outcome that we're looking for is North Korean agreement to negotiate the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.” China is the only major ally of the reclusive North and is estimated to provide up to 90 per cent of its energy imports, 80 per cent of its consumer goods and 45 per cent of its food, according to the US-based Council on Foreign Relations. Although Beijing was angered by Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests, the Chinese leadership has been reluctant to take tougher action – for example by shutting their shared border – out of concern the country could collapse or fall into civil strife. ^ top ^

Parties must focus on Korean Peninsula stability, ministry says (China Daily)
2016-06-01
The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged all concerned parties to "jointly champion regional peace and stability" on the Korean Peninsula after Seoul said the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had launched a missile earlier in the day. An official at the Republic of Korea's defense ministry told Xinhua news agency on the phone that the DPRK tried to test-fire an unidentified missile at about 5:20 am local time from the Wonsan area on its east coast. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a Tuesday news conference in Beijing that the United Nations Security Council has made clear its response to the DPRK ballistic missile issue. Currently, the situation is "of great complexity and sensitivity" and it is hoped that all the concerned parties should "jointly champion the regional peace and stability", Hua added. The DPRK test-launched three Musudan missiles this year, two on April 28 and one on April 15, but all of the three test-firings were believed to have failed as the missiles exploded in mid-air or crashed in water several seconds after blast-off. The April 15 launch was the DPRK's first known test-firing of the intermediate-range ballistic missile. Pyongyang has allegedly deployed the Musudan missiles since 2007. ^ top ^

Top North Korean official makes surprise visit to China, with talks expected to focus on economic ties (SCMP)
2016-05-31
A top North Korean official made an unexpected visit to Beijing on Tuesday in an apparent attempt by Pyongyang to mend frayed ties with its powerful neighbour, Japanese media reported. China is North Korea's largest trading partner and has been its key diplomatic protector for decades, but ties have been strained recently by Pyongyang's internationally condemned nuclear test programme, with Beijing supporting UN sanctions against its isolated neighbour. Ri Su-yong, vice-chairman of the North's ruling Workers' Party, arrived in Beijing to brief Chinese officials on a once-in-a-generation party congress held earlier this month, Kyodo news reported. The lack of any official Chinese representation at the congress – which cemented leader Kim Jong-un's grip on power – was viewed as a sign of friction between the two nations. During a regular press conference, China's Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Hua Chunying declined to confirm Ri's visit, but said North Korea remained an important neighbour, and China hoped to develop “normal and friendly relations” with the country. The visit came as South Korea said on Tuesday that the North had failed in what was believed to be an attempted launch of a powerful new medium-range missile. United Nations' resolutions ban North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology, though it regularly fires short-range missiles into the sea off its east coast. China's official Xinhua news agency said Ri, a former foreign minister, would visit for three days as part of a delegation. Experts said Ri's visit came as no surprise as the North has been eager to improve ties with China, especially in economic areas. “Economic development has been North Korea's priority as signalled in the recent Workers' Party congress … North Korea is likely to discuss increasing economic cooperation with China,” said Li Dunqiu, an expert in Korean studies at Zhejiang University. The visit showed Pyongyang still felt relations with China were important, which could open up possibilities for negotiations over denuclearisation, Li said. “But we should not overestimate China's influence over North Korea,” he said, adding the US remained an important player in the issue. Better ties with Beijing would depend on whether North Korea was willing to step back from its nuclear development, said Lu Chao, director of the Border Studies Institute at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences in the northeastern province that borders North Korea. Ri is the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit China since last year when Kim Jong-un's close aide Choe Ryong-hae attended a military parade in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in the second world war, Kyodo reported. ^ top ^

EU adopts new restrictions on trade against DPRK (Xinhua)
2016-05-29
The European Union (EU) in Brussels on Friday adopted additional restrictive measures against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on trade, financial services, investment and transport. According to a press release issued by the Council of the EU, these measures complement and reinforce the sanctions regime imposed by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. In the trade sector, additional measures include prohibition of the import of petroleum products and luxury goods from the DPRK, prohibition of the supply, sale or transfer to the DPRK of additional items, materials, equipment relating to dual-use goods and technology and ban on any public financial support for trade with the DPRK. In the financial sector, the new measures are prohibition of transfers of funds to and from the DPRK, unless for certain predefined purposes and authorized in advance. In terms of investment, it includes prohibition of all investment by the DPRK in the EU; prohibition of investment by EU nationals or entities in the mining, refining and chemical industries sectors as well as in any entities engaged in the DPRK's "illegal" programs. In the transport sector, it includes prohibition on any aircraft operated by DPRK carriers or originating from the DPRK from landing in, taking off or overflying EU territory; prohibition on any vessel owned, operated or crewed by the DPRK from entering EU ports. EU restrictive measures against the DPRK were introduced on Dec. 22, 2006. According to the EU side, the existing EU measures implement all UNSC resolutions adopted after the DPRK's nuclear tests and launches using ballistic missile technology. Prohibitions on the export and import of arms, goods and technology that could contribute to nuclear, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, and other restrictions in the financial, trade and transport sectors were already in force. On March 5, 2016, the Council transposed a first set of measures under UNSC resolution 2270 by adding 16 persons and 12 entities to the list of those subject to travel restrictions and asset freeze. On May 19, 2016, the Council brought the total number of persons subject to EU restrictive measures against the DPRK to 66 and the number of entities to 42. The UNSC unanimously adopted resolution 2270 on the DPRK on March 2 of this year. ^ top ^

DPRK warns South Korea not to cross maritime demarcation line (Xinhua)
2016-05-29
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Saturday warned the South Korean military not to intrude into the DPRK waters north of the maritime demarcation line, otherwise they would face direct fire from the DPRK army. In a notice sent to the South Korean authorities, the General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA) blamed the South Korean navy for sending several ships into the DPRK waters and then firing rocket gun shells at an unarmed DPRK ferryboat on Friday morning. The notice was carried by the official news agency KCNA. "This reckless military provocation was evidently prompted by a premeditated sinister plot to bedevil the north-south relations and further aggravate the tension on the Korean Peninsula," the KCNA said. The General Staff threatened that the DPRK army will open fire directly at any warships from South Korea without prior warning, if they intrude a slightest bit into the DPRK water territories north of the maritime demarcation line. On Friday, the Supreme Command of the KPA said in a report that three speedboats and a vessel from South Korea sailed 6.4 km across the maritime demarcation line into the DPRK waters four times and refused to return, and later fired several rocket gun shells against an unarmed ferryboat of the DPRK. The report said that "the situation in those waters is inching to the unpredictable extreme phase." Earlier on the same day, South Korean media quoted the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) as saying that a patrol boat and a fishing boat from the DPRK returned to the north after crossing the Northern Limit Line after the South Korean military fired warning shots. The Northern Limit Line, or NLL, is a disputed maritime demarcation line in the Yellow Sea between the DPRK and South Korea. As the DPRK has never officially recognized the NLL, navies of the two countries patrol the area regularly. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

UN development assistance to continue until 2021 (Montsame)
2016-06-03
UN Development Assistant Framework (UNDAF) for 2017-2021 for Mongolia was signed on Friday by L.Purevsuren, the Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Beate Trankmann, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Mongolia. This document reflects the UN assistance and support for Mongolia, projects and programs to be implemented by the UN in Mongolia. The implementation ways, expected results and the realization monitoring are elaborated in the document as well. The UNDAF is designed to support Mongolia in translating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the objectives of the Sustainable Development Vision-2030 (SDV) of Mongolia into actions. It is a result of the intensive consultations with participation from different national stakeholders including line ministries and civil society. The GoM and the UN Country Team in Mongolia, pledge to foster cooperation, coordination and partnership, in order to implement this UNDAF”, Minister Purevsuren acknowledged during the official ceremony. UN Resident Coordinator Beate Trankmann highlighted that “the new UNDAF is an excellent opportunity for the UN system to facilitate an early take off of the SDGs in Mongolia and closely align its support behind the core aspirations of the SDV. The SDGs are ambitious and complex and require all of us including the UN to think and do development differently. We will need to work across sectors and groups in an all-of society effort. And we will need to find new ways of partnerships with the private sector as an engine of job creation and innovation and with the government to create new financing models for development,” In accordance with the new UNDAF, the UN will give the developmental assistance of USD 79 million to Mongolia over a five-year period to promote inclusive growth and sustainable management of natural resources, to enhance equitable access to quality social services, and to foster voice and accountability. In the scope of the development assistance, specific projects and programs will be co-implemented by the government of Mongolia and the UN system organizations in Mongolia. ^ top ^

Mongolia and Iran reach several agreements (Montsame)
2016-06-03
State Secretary of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs D.Gankhuyag held Friday an official meeting with Ebrahim Rahimpour, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran on Asia-Pacific Affairs who is on a visit here. At the meeting, the parties talked about possible ways for fostering bilateral political relations and forwarding the cooperation in trade, economy, investment, culture, education and science and shared views on regional and international issues of mutual concern. The sides focused on studies of historical sources related to the Ilkhanate and its history and culture and then touched upon issues regarding agricultural products trading, exporting Mongolian meat and meat products to Iran, combining efforst in combating desertification, learning Iranian experiences in the mining and oil industries and training Mongolian students in Iran. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-06-02
At its meeting on Monday, the cabinet obliged the Minister of Labor to reapprove a composition and rule of the National Council of Vocational Training. - The cabinet discussed a draft intergovernmental agreement between Mongolia and the USA on providing a land for use by the US Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, and then authorized D.Gankhuyag, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia. - Head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government S.Bayartsogt presented to the cabinet results of monitoring over the implementation of national programs in 2015. - The cabinet decided to submit to parliament a bill on auto-road, in reflecting proposals from Ministers. - In accordance with a cabinet decision, A.Erdenetuya was appointed the State Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Sport. ^ top ^

Complex project on Booroljuut coal mine and power plant commences (Montsame)
2016-06-02
Prime Minister Ch Saikhanbileg addressed a ceremony on Tuesday in the State House for signing contracts on investment in the “Booroljuut” coal mine and energy purchase from power plant. To be established between the government of Mongolia and investors, the documents were signed by D.Zorigt, the Mongolian Minister of Energy; D.Bayasgalan, CEO of the “Bodi International” LLC; Shing Yuming, CEO of the Power China Resources company; and B.Amarmend, Executive director of the “Tsetsens Mining and Energy” LLC. “Signing of the Booroljuut project's investment contract shows a clear evidence that Mongolia has come back to business and investments are rising again in Mongolia,” the Prime Minister said at the signing ceremony. According to the feasibility, the thermal power plant with the capability of 600 MWT will have 70 km overhead electric lines, while the coal mine will exploit 3 million tons of coal a year. “This project will open the electricity and money flows into Mongolia. Having huge resources of energy, Mongolia is improving the legal condition for making investments” the Premier said. Located 120 km far from Ulaanbaatar city, the “Booroljuut” coal mine and power plant have many advantages in terms of location, infrastructural condition and ecology. It is expected that the power plant will produce 1.6 billion KWT/h which is about 30 per cent of total consumption of energy by 2019. The production will be increasing to 3.2 billion KWT/h from 2022.  ^ top ^

Parliament Speaker to visit Japan (Montsame)
2016-05-31
Chairman of the State Great Khural Z.Enkhbold will pay a working visit to Japan on June 1-3. In the scope of the forthcoming visit, Z.Enkhbold will hold meetings with Tadamori Oshima, the Speaker of the House of Representatives; Masaaki Yamazaki, the President of the House of Councillors of Japan's parliament; and Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan. He will attend a ceremony of signing a cooperation memorandum to be established between the Mongolian Ministry of Labor, and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Welfare. This document will enable both countries to reach a certain agreement on sending labor force to Japan and involving Mongolians in vocational training in Japan. As of today, some 1,500 practitioners from Mongolia are working in Japan. In addition, the Speaker will witness a signing of a cooperation of memorandum on supporting the clean coal technologies exchange to be established between the Mining Ministry of Mongolia and the Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The memorandum will allow countries to focus joint efforts on enhancing clean coal technologies share, promoting joint researches and implementing coal-to-gas and coke briquette production projects. As a part of his visit, the Speaker will get familiar with the “Nakaso” thermal power plant which introduced the technology of integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC). He will also visit the “Prime Polymer” company in Chiba Prefecture, and then will meet Mongolian practitioners in the Shibasaki factory in Saitama Prefecture as well. The Speaker will be accompanied by G.Bayarsaikhan, the Minister of Labor; R.Jigjid, the Minister of Mining; Ts.Buyantsogtoo, B.Bayarsaikhan, advisors to the Speaker; and other officials. ^ top ^

U.S. Secretary of State to visit (Montsame)
2016-05-31
The US Secretary of State John Kerry will pay an official visit to Mongolia on June 5, 2016. In frames of the visit, the Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren and the US Secretary of State John Kerry will hold official talks to exchange views on the Mongolia-USA relations and cooperation, regional and international issues. In accordance with the visiting program, John Kerry will pay courtesy call on state and governmental leaders of Mongolia. He plans to meet representatives of Mongolian young leaders as well. ^ top ^

Mongolia to collaborate with Germany in environmental sphere (Montsame)
2016-05-29
Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism N.Battsereg; and head of the Ministry's Department of Pure Technologies G.Nyamdavaa met Thursday with business delegates of Saarland State of Germany, who are taking part in the “Expo Mongolia 2016” trade fair in Ulaanbaatar. The Minister said the hosted in UB for the 4th year Expo Mongolia-2016 enables foreign investors to get familiar with Mongolia and to seek cooperation opportunities with their Mongolian counterparts. The sides expressed their willingness to launch cooperation in environmental reclamation after mining exploration, saving biological diversity, sustainable development of forestry and utilization of underground heat sources. N.Battsereg pointed out that the Mongolian Ministry plans to hold a joint workshop on environmental reclamation after mining and re-forestation in collaboration with the German Ministry in September of 2016. The sides agreed to co-organize a symposium on renewable energy in 2017. ^ 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.
 
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