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
  13-17.6.16, No. 627  
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Foreign Policy

Ahead of ruling, China collects historical 'proof' overseas that backs its claim in South China Sea (SCMP)
2016-06-17
China has long argued that historical documents prove the legitimacy of its claim to the South China Sea, but mainland researchers have also been looking overseas for supporting evidence. Researchers from Yunnan University and Iran's Tehran University have studied 50 Persian maps dating from the 10th to 17th centuries and translated the script into modern languages, including English and Chinese, according to China News Services. Professor Yao Jide, head of the Chinese side, said the maps mark the region as the “Sea of China” or “Bay of China”, with some land masses labelled “islands of China”. Yao Jide, Yunnan University, describing ancient Persian maps backing China's claims Yao's team said the maps served as “third party” evidence of China's historical activities in the region. “Those maps have unquestionable authority among all maps of their time,” Yao was quoted as saying. A researcher at Renmin University in Beijing, Chen Xiaochen, dug out a journal published by the Japanese government in 1938, which put the contested Spratly Islands under the administration of Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Taiwan was a Japanese colony at the time and handed back to China after the end of the second world war, hence it owned the Spratlys, Chen argued. Meanwhile, Chinese ambassadors and diplomats have been lobbying across the globe for support for Beijing's position that the dispute should be resolved through bilateral talks, and claims to have found wide backing in Africa. China-led international platform including the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation have also reportedly put nations in Central Asia and the Middle East in Beijing's corner. “A just cause gains great support,” said foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang. Reporters from state media such as Xinhua and People's Daily have also been interviewing politicians and legal experts in Brazil, Thailand, Bulgaria, Pakistan and even the Philippines to collect comments supporting Beijing on the South China Sea issue. But with little support emanating from the West, even silence has been viewed positively – German Chancellor Angela Merkel avoided the topic during her recent visit to China, a move state media hailed as a “triumph” for Beijing. ^ top ^

India looks to China's technology for making clouds rain (China Daily)
2016-06-17
China is in talks with India on the transfer of cloud-seeding technology. In the first such engagement between the Asian giants, a team of scientists and officials from Beijing, Shanghai and East China's Anhui province, were recently in Maharashtra to discuss weather conditions with the government of the western Indian state, parts of which have experienced severe droughts over the past two years. The Chinese team's days-long tour concluded on June 2. If the discussions are successful, Chinese experts would provide training to officials of the Indian Meteorological Department on their latest cloud-seeding technology, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter. One of the sources had earlier described it as an "exploratory visit by the Chinese side to discuss with relevant Indian authorities how to go about it". The training is expected to be given on procedures to seed clouds successfully, the source said. The training is aimed at inducing rain over Maharashtra's Marathwada region in the summer of 2017 if needed, the source said. While summer rains have arrived this year in India, the region has been traditionally vulnerable to drought. The sources spoke to China Daily on condition of anonymity. An official in the China Meteorological Administration said that arrangements are still in progress. The development follows a meeting between Han Zheng, Shanghai's top official, and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, in the Indian state's capital of Mumbai in early May. Han, who is also a Communist Party of China Politburo member, had asked Fadnavis if China could do anything for drought relief in Maharashtra, one of the sources said. Monsoons and temperatures nearing 50 C have triggered many agrarian crises in India, with poor farmers being hit the hardest. Indian media said in April that the Maharashtra government would begin cloud-seeding experiments in June and continue through August - the period of summer monsoons. China started to use cloud-seeding technology in 1958, and today has one of the most advanced systems in the world. ^ top ^

SCO expected to embrace new members in upcoming Tashkent summit (Global Times)
2016-06-16
The heads of state from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries are expected to take India and Pakistan to the next stage in a process of attaining full membership at a two-day summit to be held in late June. If so, the SCO will move a step closer in expanding its membership. Inclusion of India and Pakistan in the SCO membership was first approved at the SCO summit held in Ufa in Russia last year. At the Meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers held last month, the ministers adopted a memorandum of obligation on granting the two membership and submitted it to the Tashkent Summit for approval. So the summit to be held in Tashkent will be a key stage for the final decision. During the Ufa summit, the organization also accepted Belarus as an observer state, and Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal as dialogue partners. Such moves, regarded as the most important organizational reform since the SCO's establishment, will help improve its international status, and benefit its long-term development. Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Li Huilai said in a press conference Wednesday that China, as a member of the SCO, welcomes membership applications from all qualified nations willing to join the organization. China will also work with other members to study on relevant application based on legal documents on membership expansion, he pledged. The organization is now assessing applications for dialogue partner status from five more nations, Rashid Olimov, General Secretary of the SCO, told Russian news agency ITAR-TASS in a recent interview. The SCO currently has six member states - China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, with Belarus, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers, and Turkey, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal as dialogue partners. ^ top ^

China urges US not to interfere in domestic affairs on Tibet issues (Global Times)
2016-06-16
China on Thursday reminded the United States to maintain the overall bilateral relationship, and urged it to refrain from interfering in China's domestic affairs, such as Tibet-related issues. US President Barack Obama held a closed-door meeting with the 14th Dalai Lama at the White House Wednesday. "Tibet affairs are China's domestic affairs and no foreign country has the right to interfere," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a daily news briefing. Lu said the 14th Dalai Lama was not a purely religious figure, but a political exile who has long engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the guise of religion, and the essence of his "middle way" approach is "Tibet independence." The meeting goes against the United States' acknowledgement that Tibet is an inseparable part of Chinese territory and its rejection of "Tibet independence" and anti-China separatist activities, Lu said. Such a meeting constitutes interference into China's internal affairs and harms China-US mutual trust and cooperation, Lu said. It is reported that when meeting with the Dalai Lama, Obama emphasized his strong support for the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions. The Chinese people are best qualified to speak on the situation in Tibet, Lu said, noting that Tibet has witnessed brilliant achievements in its economic and social development since its peaceful liberation. "These facts won't be denied by anyone without political bias," he added. "If one compares Tibet's religious and cultural condition before its peaceful liberation with the development after its peaceful liberation, anyone who has an objective attitude will draw the correct conclusion," Lu said. The determination of the Chinese government and people to safeguard national sovereignty and unity is unshakable, Lu said, adding that any attempt to harm China's stability and unity will not succeed. ^ top ^

ASEAN confusion shows disunity over South China Sea row (SCMP)
2016-06-16
Beijing's Southeast Asian neighbours have apparently failed to form a unified stance on the South China Sea disputes in the lead-up to a key international court ruling over China's claims, analysts said. The latest confusion ­surrounding the meeting of top diplomats from China and the ­Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which ended in Yunnan on Tuesday, laid bare the disunity within the ­10-member bloc over how to deal with an increasingly assertive China amid heightened tensions. Analysts said it also showed Asean nations were apparently ­divided over where to stand on the impending ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in a case brought by the Philippines against China. Observers said the Malaysian foreign ministry released an Asean communiqué at the end of the two-day event expressing “serious concerns” over recent developments in the sea without naming China. But the strongly worded statement was retracted hours later because ­“urgent amendments” were ­required. No revised communiqué has been released so far, according to the Asean secretariat. But Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam have issued their own statement. Beijing's envoy to Malaysia Huang Huikang said on Monday that Malaysia had handled the disputes in a friendly and proper way. An Asean diplomat said the confusing development was mainly due to a lack of consensus over the maritime disputes. Some nations were apparently reluctant about the final wording of the proposed statement, the diplomat said. He said it was unusual for such meetings to end without any joint statement. “They [China and Asean] have had difficulty in coming up with a joint communiqué or statement among the 11 nations during this particular meeting,” he said. Huang Jing, a Sino-US relations expert at the National University of Singapore, said the retracted statement was mostly likely a working draft representing the views of some Asean members. “It is an open secret that Asean is not unified over the maritime disputes and there have been heated debates among members over how to handle this contentious issue,” Huang said. He said it made sense that the statement was rescinded because “the South China Sea issue has the potential to tear the bloc apart”. Pang Zhongying, of Renmin University in Beijing, said it was in the interests of Asean to play down their internal differences. “As trade ties between China and Asean are growing rapidly, many Asean nations may choose [to avoid] further antagonising Beijing [or undermining] the bloc by making public their disagreements,” he said. Ashley Townshend, a research fellow at the University of ­Sydney, and Carlyle Thayer, an emeritus professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy, said the retracted ­statement mirrored past Asean statements and was not particularly harsh on China. “It did not signal a firmer or more unified Asean position against China, nor did it provide direct support for the Philippines or for the binding nature of the upcoming tribunal's ruling,” Townshend said. “The only significant point about the statement was that it was issued, prematurely it seems, on Chinese soil.” Thayer said the failure of ­Singapore's foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan to appear at a press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on ­Tuesday, which had been viewed by many as a slap in the face for Beijing, may have also been ­exaggerated. Thayer said the meeting had run over schedule by five hours. But both Thayer and Pang said Beijing, embarrassed by the initial Asean statement, may have also intervened. ^ top ^

Chinese spy ship shadows US, Japanese, Indian naval drill in Western Pacific (SCMP)
2016-06-15
A Chinese observation ship shadowed the powerful US aircraft carrier, John C. Stennis, in the Western Pacific on Wednesday, a Japanese official said, joining warships from Japan and India in drills close to waters Beijing considers its backyard. The show of American naval power comes as Japan and the United States worry Beijing will look to extend its influence into the Western Pacific with submarines and surface vessels as it pushes its territorial claims in the neighbouring South China Sea. Beijing views access to the Pacific as vital both as a supply line to the rest of the world's oceans and for the projection of its naval power. The 100,000 tonne Stennis, which carries F-18 fighter jets, joined nine other naval ships including a Japanese helicopter carrier and Indian frigates in seas off the Japanese Okinawan island chain. Submarine hunting patrol planes launched from bases in Japan are also taking part in the joint annual exercise dubbed Malabar. The Stennis, which has been followed by the Chinese ship since patrolling in the South China Sea, will sail apart from the other ships, acting as a “decoy” to draw it away from the eight-day naval exercise, a Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force officer said, declining to be identified because he was not authorised to talk to the media. Blocking China's unfettered access to the Western Pacific are the 200 islands stretching from Japan's main islands through the East China Sea to within 100 km of Taiwan. Japan is fortifying those islands with radar stations and anti-ship missile batteries. By joining the drill Japan is deepening alliances it hopes will help counter growing Chinese power. Tensions between Beijing and Tokyo recently jumped after a Chinese warship for the first time sailed within 38km of contested islands in the East China Sea. The outcrops known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China lie 220km northeast of Taiwan. Wary of China's more assertive maritime role in the region, the US Navy's Third Fleet plans to send more ships to East Asia to work alongside the Japan-based Seventh Fleet, a US official said on Tuesday. For India, the gathering is an chance to put on a show of force close to China's eastern seaboard and signal its displeasure at increased Chinese naval activity in the Indian Ocean. India sent its naval contingent of four ships on a tour through the South China Sea with stops in the Philippines and Vietnam on their way to the exercise. ^ top ^

Chinese political prisoner freed from Australian jail eight years early after wife got cancer and child died (SCMP)
2016-06-15
An Australian businessman jailed in China on bribery and embezzlement charges before being sent home to serve out his sentence was released on Wednesday on compassionate grounds. Matthew Ng, who worked for travel services group Et-China in the southern city of Guangzhou, was jailed for 13 years in 2011 in a case that drew top level interest in Canberra. Chinese media at the time said the case related to Ng's role in Et-China's battle with a government-owned travel company for control of domestic travel agency GZL. In 2014 Ng, who denied the charges, became the first Australian to benefit from a prisoner-swap deal between the two countries. Australia's department of foreign affairs has previously warned that any early release could negatively affect future cases, but Justice Minister Michael Keenan said there were “exceptional circumstances”. “Mr Ng applied for early release from prison based on his exceptional family circumstances,” he said. “I am satisfied exceptional circumstances exist to justify Mr Ng's early release from prison.” Since he was jailed, Ng's wife Niki Chow has been diagnosed with breast cancer and one of his four children has reportedly died. Ng's lawyer Tom Lennox told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last week his client was Australia's first Chinese political prisoner. “A fair description of Matthew can be as Australia's first Chinese political prisoner – that is, the subject of a state-imposed sanction whereby your liberty is denied for circumstances that would not constitute a crime on any reasonable test,” he said. Ng's arrest came just months after four employees of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, including Australian passport-holder Stern Hu, were jailed in China on bribery and trade secrets charges. Hu's trial strained relations between Beijing and Canberra, and stoked concerns among foreign investors about the rule of law in China, Australia's top trading partner. ^ top ^

Obama meeting Dalai Lama in move sure to anger China (SCMP)
2016-06-15
President Barack Obama will meet the Dalai Lama at the White House on Wednesday, in a move likely to enrage China, which sees the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader as a separatist. Obama's official schedule indicated that the pair, who have met before several times, would talk behind closed doors in the Map Room at 10:15 am (10:15 pm HK time)). The president usually speaks with dignitaries in the Oval Office. They last met in the same room in February 2014, though they have had encounters since. Beijing has routinely accused Washington of meddling in its domestic affairs after such encounters. China says the Dalai Lama is seeking to split Tibet from the rest of China and calls him a “wolf in sheep's clothing.” But the spiritual leader has pressed more for Tibetan autonomy rather than outright independence. Beijing vigorously lobbies against foreign leaders meeting the Dalai Lama “in any form.” Many Tibetans say China in turn is repressing their Buddhist religion and culture, and preventing them from benefiting from the region's economic development. Since becoming president, Obama has made a “pivot to Asia” a cornerstone of his foreign policy. Although the meeting will certainly draw China's ire, the concrete consequences remain unclear. The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959 after a failed uprising in Tibet. ^ top ^

China-US cyber talks progress (Global Times)
2016-06-15
China and the US have agreed to establish a hotline mechanism to deal with cybercrimes, as the second round of cyber security talks between the two countries began Tuesday in Beijing. The two sides also agreed to jointly release a list of achievements and will hold the third round of cyber security talks in Washington DC later this year. During Tuesday's talks, both sides exchanged views on various topics, including information sharing on cybercrimes and cooperation on cyber security. Chinese Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun, who co-chaired the two-day talks with US officials, said strengthening cooperation on cyber security serves the interests of both countries as well as the world. Guo said progress has been made in cyber security since Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama met last year. The two countries signed an anti-hacking accord in September last year, pledging that neither country would knowingly carry out hacking for commercial advantages. US Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Suzanne Spaulding said, "We look forward to discussing the commitments we made with regard to not engaging in IP theft of trade secrets and confidential business information." "A key element of the agreement is information sharing and establishing mechanisms," she told reporters, adding that the two sides had been setting up email addresses to share information. A source told the Global Times that China recently made 20 inquiries to the US, asking them to help investigate phishing websites posing as Chinese banks. Tsinghua University professor Shen Yang told the Global Times that since September 2015, China and the US have been pushing forward cyber security talks with "rare efficiency." Shen believes that the two countries have reached some consensus in the process and have tried to manage their differences, and that the situation has improved from where misjudgment is likely to take place to resolving the issues through dialogue. Cyber security has long been an irritant between the two sides. China withdrew from a working group in 2014 to protest the US indictment of five Chinese military officers, accusing them of hacking into US companies. Wang Yongqing, the secretary-general of China's Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai and US Ambassador to China Max Baucus also attended the talks. ^ top ^

China elected to UN economic, social council (Xinhua)
2016-06-15
China and other countries on Tuesday were elected to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the coordinating body for the economic and social work of UN agencies and funds. China won 182 votes out of a total of 185 votes casted in the Asia and Pacific group in the election. Other elected ECOSOC members in the group are Tajikstan, United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Korea. The winners require two thirds majority of the votes in relevant groups. Other winners included Azerbaijan, Benin, Bosnia, Britain, Cameroon, Colombia, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Venezuela. ECOSOC is the principal UN organ to coordinate the economic, social and related work of the United Nations and the specialized agencies and institutions. It has 54 members, who serve for three-year terms. ^ top ^

Chinese forced labor to sue Japanese gov't after Mitsubishi apology (Global Times)
2016-06-14
Chinese labor forced to work for Japan during World War II will now continue lawsuits against the Japanese government after Mitsubishi Materials Corp reached an agreement to apologize and pay compensation. Kan Cuihua, representing her 96-year-old father Kan Shun, and two other forced laborers signed an agreement in Beijing on June 1 with Mitsubishi, one of dozens of Japanese companies that used conscripted Chinese laborers. Under the settlement, Chinese who were forced to work at coal mines and other facilities in Japan will receive an apology and individual payments of 100,000 yuan ($15,196). It also applies to families of workers who have died, making an estimated 3,765 in total. Kan said her father was moved to tears by the company's decision after more than two decades of difficult court cases and appeals. But he insists that the Japanese government should also apologize because Chinese laborers were above all the victims of Japanese government persecution. After he was brought to Japan and forced to work in coalmines in 1944, Kan endured humiliation and torture that still haunts him today, said his daughter from her home in Tangshan City of Hebei Province. Pan Guoping, a lawyer for the alliance of groups representing forced laborers, said legal action against the Japanese government is meant to pressure it to face history and bring fairness and justice to Chinese victims. "We still wish the Japanese government could learn from Germany and set up fund to provide compensation to forced labor," he said. About 40,000 Chinese were sent to Japan in the early 1940s as forced laborers to make up for a domestic labor shortage. Many died due to violence and malnutrition amid harsh treatment. Beginning in the 1990s, Chinese forced laborers began bringing lawsuits to Japanese courts to ask for an apology and compensation, but all cases failed. In March 2014, survivors took action against both the Japanese government and companies in a Tangshan court. ^ top ^

Spotlight: Xi's upcoming trip to CEE countries, Central Asia to boost Belt & Road Initiative (Xinhua)
2016-06-14
Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming trip to Central and Eastern European Countries (CEE) and Central Asia from June 17 to 24 is expected to significantly boost the Belt and Road Initiative. During his trip to CEE countries as well as Central Asia, two key regions under the framework of the initiative, Xi will pay state visits to Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan from June 17 to 22, and attend the 16th meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent on June 23 and 24. The visits are also seen as a fresh move to enhance regional and international cooperation as the SCO member states are expecting new proposals from China on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of its establishment. The trip to CEE countries comes within three months after Xi's last one, or his first visit to the Czech Republic as China's head of state and his first multilateral diplomatic trip in 2016. Such frequent visits to countries in the region demonstrate the great significance of bilateral cooperation in efforts by both sides to shape regional and state diplomacy. Liu Zuokui, an expert from the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believed that promoting bilateral cooperation with Serbia and Poland will "play an exemplary and positive role in propelling China-CEE relations." In 2009, Serbia became the first CEE country to establish a strategic partnership with China. In September last year, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic brought along a column of soldiers to attend China's landmark parade marking the 70th anniversary of the World Anti-Fascist War victory. Increasing political mutual trust and accelerating cooperation over recent years have worked to usher in another occasion to further bilateral ties, Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Li Manchang said. Poland, among the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with new China, elevated the bilateral relationship to a strategic partnership in 2011. Poland remains China's largest trading partner in Central and Eastern Europe, while China is Poland's largest trading partner in Asia as well as its third-largest importer. As the third leg of Xi's upcoming trip after Serbia and Poland, Uzbekistan has witnessed rapid development in its relations with China since the establishment of a bilateral strategic partnership in 2012, boosted by many mutual visits and meetings by the leaders. During the visits, Xi is scheduled to meet heads of state and attend signing ceremonies for cooperation agreements in such fields as energy, finance, infrastructure construction, technology and tourism. Marking the 15th anniversary of its establishment, the SCO summit this year is expected to have a significant and positive influence on its growth, said Chen Yurong, a director at the China Institute of International Studies. Currently, the SCO needs to make its "two wheels" run well, she said. Regarding security cooperation under the SCO framework, combating the "three evil forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism remains an urgent task for all. In the meantime, increasing economic cooperation is necessary for member states currently under the pressure of an economic slowdown. A Kazakh political analyst at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University said that at the upcoming SCO summit, "many countries hope China can work to bring them out of difficulties," since "China is an important driving force for the SCO development as well as a major engine of the world economy." Apart from discussing SCO future plans, member states are expected to approve at the summit a memorandum for India and Pakistan to join the organization, a key step closer to their SCO membership. Leaders from China, Russia and Mongolia will hold their third tripartite conference on the sidelines of the summit to be held in Tashkent. Xi's trip is expected to focus on the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, given the relevance of the countries for the initiative, and importance of the SCO as a platform to dovetail China's Silk Road Economic Belt Initiative with Russia's aspiration under the Eurasian Economic Union framework. During the state visits, Xi is expected discuss new measures with leaders of Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan. The three countries were among the first to respond to China's Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi during his 2013 trips to Central Asia and Southeast Asia. They also have a strong desire to cooperate with China. At present, Serbia is pushing forward a re-industrialization strategy,trying to attract more foreign investment, while Poland, as the sole member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in the region, hopes to provide a gateway for China to enter Europe. As for Uzbekistan, whose economy relies mainly on energy and agriculture, there is great potential for capacity cooperation with China. ^ top ^

China advocates for complete prohibition of nuclear weapons (Xinhua)
2016-06-14
China is committed to taking the path of peaceful development and advocates for complete prohibition and thorough destruction of the nuclear weapons, China's Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said here on Monday. In the 20-year anniversary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT) in UN headquarter in Vienna, Li said China has made commitment on no-first-use of nuclear weapons and has unconditionally undertaken not to use or threat to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states and nuclear free-zones. "China is committed to taking the path of peaceful development and advocates for complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons," Li stressed. As one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has always been promoting the peaceful use of the nuclear energy, voting to support the non-proliferation regime, playing a key role in resolving the Iranian nuclear issue and other nuclear related issues in the past years. "We should consolidate the political foundation of the entry-into-force of the treaty. Only common security can eradicate the root causes of the existence and proliferation," Li said. CTBT is seen as a key part of the non-proliferation regime in the international norm, which would monitor and prohibit the nuclear test worldwide, and China has always been promoting the entry-into-force of the treaty. "We should solidify the institutional guarantee of the entry-into-force of the Treaty," Li noted. To facilitate the CTBT, the preparation mission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty organization has built monitor station all over the world to monitor possible nuclear explosion, but more work should be done to facilitate the entry into force of the treaty. ^ top ^

IOM welcomes China's application for membership, considering it as "crucial" (Xinhua)
2016-06-13
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Monday welcomed China's application for its membership, saying that it is "crucial" for the organization's global significance. IOM Director General William Lacy Swing on Monday met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao who delivered a letter of application for membership in IOM. "China's membership in IOM is crucial towards growing the organization's global significance," Swing said after the meeting. During the meeting, Swing also discussed global migration and the migrant situation in Europe, as well as preparations for the upcoming UN Summit on large-scale movements of migrants and refugees on September 19. Wang expressed China's recognition of the IOM's role and contributions in managing migration worldwide, stressing three areas for future cooperation with the IOM: capacity building and regional border management, disaster prevention and integration of migrants. IOM was born in 1951 out of the chaos and displacement of Western Europe following the Second World War. From its roots as an operational logistics agency, it has broadened its scope to become the leading international agency working with governments and civil society to advance the understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration, and uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants. ^ top ^

China urges EU to abandon anti-dumping criteria (Xinhua)
2016-06-13
State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Monday called on the European Union to stop basing its anti-dumping investigations into Chinese goods on the "surrogate country system." Yang made the comments when meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is accompanying German Chancellor Angela Merkel on her ninth trip to China and for the China-Germany intergovernmental consultation on Monday morning. "The EU should deliver on its obligations -- as stipulated in article 15 of the protocols for China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 -- to ensure the healthy development of trade ties," Yang said. Yang was referring to the surrogate country system, a term used by the EU in anti-dumping investigations, under which production costs in a third country are used to calculate the value of products from non-market economies. The system should be abandoned by Dec. 11, 2016, under an agreement signed when China joined the WTO. However, the European Parliament said in a non-binding resolution last month that China had failed to meet the five EU criteria that define a market economyoperation with China in all fields. The consultation mechanism, established in 2011, aims to coordinate and enhance cooperation between China and Germany. More than 20 ministers and vice ministers from both sides, thus, Chinese exports should be treated in a "non-standard way." Yang said deepening cooperation between China and Germany will serve the two countries' interests as well as China-Europe relations and the world at large. He said China is ready to work with Germany to make the G20 Hangzhou summit in September a success. Steinmeier said Germany is willing to use the intergovernmental consultation as an opportunity to deepen co are expected to attend this year's session. ^ top ^

Chinese TV reporter accuses US embassy van of hit-and-run (SCMP)
2016-06-13
Beijing police are investigating claims that a vehicle belonging to the US embassy was involved in a hit-and-run incident. A van belonging to the embassy was involved in a crash with a car at a busy junction on the capital's Third Ring Road on Wednesday, during the evening rush hour, traffic police confirmed on Sunday. The owner of the car, Chen Lin, a reporter for Phoenix TV, said that after hitting her car, the driver of the van ignored her protests and drove away from the scene. “I got out of my car and tried to stop the van but was dragged dozens of metres into the traffic. I was badly hurt but it just drove off,” Chen wrote on her microblog. “A policeman told me the ­driver probably had diplomatic immunity and we could not do anything about it even on our own territory.” Beijing traffic police said a staff member had been sent to deal with the incident and had been in touch with the embassy. The US embassy said the case was being handled through “the normal process”. Foreigners who qualify for ­diplomatic immunity are exempt from vehicle inspections or personal interrogation by the police. However, their driving licences can still be withheld if they are found responsible for an accident. Zhou Shijian, a senior researcher of international relations at Tsinghua University, said diplomats could not be held legally liable for some incidents due to diplomatic immunity. “For example, they do not pay fines for traffic offences,” he told news website Thepaper.cn. He said diplomatic immunity did not mean diplomats were not restricted by law, adding victims could take grievances to court. “If the matter is serious, the maximum form of censure is to expel the diplomat, which is a severe punishment that will affect bilateral relations. Diplomats who are expelled usually face punishment in their home countries,” he said. The incident has prompted discussion online. “Diplomatic immunity is a powerful tool,” said one internet user. “But I don't think the driver of the embassy vehicle is necessarily a diplomat. Maybe he is a driver hired by the embassy.” ^ top ^

German Chancellor Merkel to raise EU fears over Beijing's new NGO law and steel production during China visit (SCMP)
2016-06-12
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will raise concerns over a new Chinese law on non-governmental organisations and about steel production during her visit to China, which starts on Sunday. Merkel, who is making her ninth trip to China as chancellor, said in her weekly video message on Saturday that she would call for the work of political foundations and other groups “not to be too negatively influenced” by the new law. The legislation takes effect next year and will put foreign NGOs under direct police supervision and require them to state where their money comes from and how it is spent. Merkel said in the message that she also planned to raise the issue of China's massive steel production “because it is currently a difficult situation for all European [Union] member states”. She will be in Beijing with about 20 German company executives and preside over the fourth round of intergovernmental talks between Asia and Europe's biggest economies. Carsten Spohr, chief executive of the German airline Lufthansa, will reportedly accompany Merkel and try to seal a joint venture with Air China, as the carrier looks for increased access to the mainland. More than 20 ministers and deputy ministers from both sides would take part in the talks, Xinhua reported. 'Difficult to predict': German ambassador on China's bid for market economy status with EU( Merkel – who will also visit the Liaoning provincial capital of Shenyang, which last year signed a cooperation agreement with Siemens, the German multinational conglomerate, to build an industrial production site – will arrive in Beijing after Germany has been involved in efforts to thwart a Chinese company's bid for industrial robot maker Kuka. She has had to face growing pressure at home to protect Kuka, which she views as a model firm combining digital technology and Germany's industrial strengths. Officials in Berlin are reported to have met Till Reuter, Kuka's chief executive, to discuss alternative offers after May's €4.6 billion (US$5.2 billion) bid by Midea, China's biggest home appliance maker. Insa Ewert, a research fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies, said Merkel would certainly want to discuss China's steel overcapacity, even though Beijing had agreed last week to cut steel production at the strategic and economic dialogue between China and the US. “The current steel crisis affects vital parts of the German economy, especially large German steel producers such as ThyssenKrupp and Salzgitter,” she said. A recent business confidence survey by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China found that “a significant 41 per cent of European companies are now re-evaluating their China operations” owing to the country's slow progress in opening up its economy to foreign business. […] For China, one of the main goals of Merkel's trip will be to get her to back its push for the coveted World Trade Organisation market economy status. In May EU lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected any loosening of the bloc's trade defences against China without reforms of its economy, including a reduction in state influence over business. The EU will discuss whether to grant China market economy status in December – something Beijing says is its right 15 years after joining the WTO. On her visit to China last year, Merkel said Germany backed, in general, China's claim for market economy status, but it still “has to do some homework”. China's overcapacity problems complicate EU vote on market economy status: business group( Beijing has been actively lobbying for support to try to change the opinion of EU lawmakers, following the May vote, before the December deadline. However, Stanzel warned that China's aggressive lobbying might lead to adverse effect. “If China continues, as in recent weeks, to threaten Europeans with a trade war, rather than to try to negotiate, it can also be expected that China will fail to win Germany's support,” she said. Wu Yikang, chairman of the Shanghai Institute for European Studies, said: “China has high hopes about Germany as it has the most authoritative voice in the European Union.” Merkel was expected to explain Germany's stance on the issue during her visit, Wu said. Cui Hongjian, director of European studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said: “Neither side wants trade ties to be affected by the [issue of] market economy status. “China and Germany have established a basis for deep cooperation and strong mutual trust, [so] the two sides will be able to have open and honest discussions.” Concerns have also have arisen over whether the EU will become a more active player in the South China Sea after the French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's recent call for European navies to have a “regular and visible” presence in the area, which is an essential trade route to Germany and other European countries. However, Alexandr Burilkov, another research fellow at the German institute, said Berlin was unlikely to follow France's call. “The Germans have always been sceptical about French adventurism, and are loath to upset economic cooperation for an issue that Berlin believes can be ultimately resolved peacefully between all parties,” he said. “Furthermore, there is little support elsewhere in the EU for anything more than a token commitment,” he added. Ewert said a range of other issues would also be discussed during Merkel's visit, including issues of cybersecurity and industrial espionage, as well as enhancing cooperation in technological innovation under Germany's Industry 4.0 strategy and the Chinese version of Made in China 2025 strategy. Stanzel said that the Group of 20 agenda, intellectual property rights and how Germany companies would participate in China's “One Belt, One Road” initiative were also likely to be touched upon. Both Wu and Cui said joint investment by China and Germany in Africa might also be discussed. ^ top ^

Germany vows closer G20, peacekeeping cooperation with China (Xinhua)
2016-06-12
Visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel said here on Sunday that her country stands ready to have closer cooperation with China in hosting the G20 summit and in peacekeeping in Mali. The pledge came as Merkel started her ninth trip to China since she took office in 2005. Delivering a speech in the university of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, she said that Germany will be working closely with China, the host of this year's G20 summit, on the ambitious goals and rich agenda for the event. Germany will host the 2017 G20 summit. Germany welcomes China's bigger role in international organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Merkel said, adding that China should also accept responsibilities in proportion to its economic power. She proposed that the two countries deepen cooperation in crisis management, such as disaster relief in Afghanistan and peacekeeping in Mali. "We are especially willing to cooperate with China in Mali where Germany has our own footprints," she said. On June 1, a Chinese member of a United Nations mission in the western African country was killed and four others were injured in an attack. On Sunday, Merkel received an honorary doctorate in Beijing from Nanjing University, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country. During her three-day trip, the German leader is scheduled to co-chair a bilateral consultation with Chinese leader. The China-Germany intergovernmental consultation, established in 2011, is a dialogue mechanism aimed at coordinating and enhancing cooperation between the two countries. More than 20 ministers and vice ministers from both sides are expected to attend this year's session. The relationship between China and Germany, the world's second and fourth largest economies, has witnessed a rapid development with frequent high-level exchanges.In March, German President Joachim Gauck visited China, strengthening political mutual trust. China has said that a closer bilateral coordination in both global and regional affairs are expected to serve the fundamental interests of both countries and benefit the China-EU relations and promote peace and prosperity in the world at large. Merkel will also visit Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province. ^ top ^

South Korea sends military vessels to repel Chinese boats near disputed sea boundary (SCMP)
2016-06-10
South Korean military vessels started an operation on Friday to repel Chinese fishing boats illegally harvesting prized blue crabs from an area near Seoul's disputed sea boundary with North Korea. The four naval and marines boats were in neutral waters around South Korea's Ganghwa island to chase away about 10 Chinese boats. The operation was approved by the United Nations Command that governs the zone where fishing activity is prohibited, said an official from Seoul's defence ministry, who didn't want to be named, citing office rules. The governments of China and North Korea were notified about the operation before it started, the ministry official said. The official refused to say how the vessels were planning to repel the ships, or provide further details about the operation. The operation came days after South Korean fishermen towed away two Chinese fishing boats catching crabs south of the sea boundary with North Korea and handed them over to local South Korean authorities. North Korea said in response that South Korean fishing and naval vessels had invaded their territory. Seoul has called for Beijing to employ tougher measures against Chinese boats illegally fishing in South Korea-controlled waters, which has caused bad feelings between the neighbours in recent years. South Korean authorities seized about 600 Chinese ships last year for illegal fishing and more than 100 this year as of May, most from waters off the western coast of South Korea, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. China expressed anger in October 2014 when the South Korean coastguard shot and killed the captain of a Chinese fishing vessel who had violently resisted the inspection of his ship for suspected illegal fishing. In 2011, a South Korean coastguard officer was killed in a clash with Chinese fishermen in South Korean waters. The waters off the Korean Peninsula's western coast have also seen violent clashes between the rival Koreas because Pyongyang doesn't recognise the sea boundary unilaterally drawn by the American-led United Nations command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean war. North Korea last month threatened to fire without warning at South Korean warships if they crossed into its waters, a day after the South's navy fired warning shots to chase away two North Korean ships that briefly crossed the boundary. The countries have also fought three bloody naval skirmishes in the area since 1999. ^ top ^

Navy sailing near Diaoyu 'legitimate' (China Daily)
2016-06-10
The Defense Ministry on Thursday refuted Japan's protest over Chinese warships sailing close to the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. "The Diaoyu Islands and its affiliated islands are China's inherent territory. The sailing of Chinese warships through waters under its own jurisdiction is reasonable and legitimate," the ministry said in a statement released on its official Weibo account. The statement came after Japan said on Thursday a Chinese frigate sailed within 38 kms of the Diaoyu Islands shortly after midnight. The Chinese frigate stayed in the waters around the islands for about an hour before sailing toward the Chinese coast. It was confirmed by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force's destroyer Setogiri, which was keeping watch on the frigate, Japan's newspaper Asahi Shimbun said. Japan's Vice-Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki summoned Cheng Yonghua, the Chinese ambassador in Tokyo, at around 2 am to "express serious concern", the Japanese government said in a statement. Three Russian naval vessels were also spotted sailing close to the islands at around the same time as the Chinese warship. While Chinese coast guard vessels routinely patrol the area, it was the first time a Chinese warship was spotted, Japanese officials said, according to The Associated Press. Sino-Japanese relations plunged after Tokyo's illegal "nationalization" of China's Diaoyu Islands in September 2012. Tokyo's ongoing attempts to meddle in the South China Sea are making things worse. Lyu Yaodong, an expert on Japanese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it is quite normal for China to assert sovereignty over its own territories, whether by sending a coast guard vessel or a naval ship. "Japan should not hype up the situation and intensify tensions unreasonably," Lyu said. Da Zhigang, director of the institute of northeast Asian studies at Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said Tokyo making a fuss of the case demonstrated its sense of crisis over its illegal control of China's Diaoyu Islands. "China is justified to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests," Da said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Chinese cities urged to act faster, go farther than nation states in acting on Paris climate change deal (SCMP)
2016-06-17
The world's metropolises should act faster and go farther than nation states in acting upon the historic Paris climate change agreement – and more Chinese cities should join the global network of megacities committed to emission cuts, Paris' deputy mayor said on Thursday. “Cities are important because they can move quicker and go farther than states,” said Patrick Krugman, deputy mayor of the French capital, where a landmark deal to lower greenhouse gas emissions was signed by 195 countries last December. He was speaking on the sidelines of a low carbon city forum in Shenzhen. Krugman said that while most signatory countries were still in the process of ratifying the climate pact, major cities around the world shouldn't wait to spring into action. “For cities, it's time for action, not celebration,” he said. The deal, which saw countries set their individual emission reduction goals as part of a global effort to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius, will come into effect only once 55 countries representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions ratify it domestically. France ratified the agreement on Wednesday, becoming the first major nation to do so, following ratification by 17 small countries representing less than 1 per cent of global emissions. Krugman said the member cities of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership group, a network of the world's megacities taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that currently has 83 members, were “already making all the commitments of the Paris agreement real before 2020”, when the agreement is supposed to kick in for states. “What we are now doing in the frame of the C40, is taking the Paris agreement into action before it's taken into action by the states,” he said. “By 2030, most of the biggest metropolis around the world will have made it real for their cities to reduce the carbon emissions by 30 to 40 per cent,” he said. Hong Kong and six mainland cities – Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Dalian and Chengdu – are full members of the C40, with Dalian and Chengdu joining this month. Beijing and Shanghai are observing cities, a status sparing the two from handing over their emissions data to the network. “The expansion in China is the biggest and the most important for the C40 network…China is of course, due to the size of its metropolises, is very important for C40,” Krugman said. He said the fact that Beijing and Shanghai had not yet become full members was “only due to administrative processes” within the two cities. “For what I can tell you, on the C40 side, welcoming Chinese cities is a priority and China is of course the land of expansion for C40. This is very clear,” he said. ^ top ^

China to massively increase accuracy of its GPS rival, with benefits for smartphone users... and the military (SCMP)
2016-06-17
China is to massively increase the accuracy of its home-produced satellite navigation system and one of its uses will be improved intelligence gathering in the South China Sea, according to a government official. Tests of the upgraded system will be carried out at the end of the year. A simple form of the Beidou system is installed on many Chinese-made smartphones. A more complex and accurate version of the system is already used by China's government for intelligence gathering. Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office, told a news briefing on Thursday that the current accuracy of the system was about 10 metres for mobile phones, but this would be massively improved for all systems and would benefit civilians users and the government and military. “It will be a change from 10 metres, to decimetres, to centimetres,” Ran said. This equates to a several hundred-fold increase in accuracy. “For example, if we hail a cab with a mobile phone with such accuracy, we don't need to tell the driver where we stand, because the car will arrive directly at our feet,” he said. Ran admitted that Beidou lagged far behind other nation's system such as GPS developed in the US, but the improvements would make it much more effective. The system was primarily built to meet China's strategic needs and could be used to gather intelligence amid the nation's territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Ran said. Unlike other satellite navigation systems such as GPS, Beidou can be used directly for intelligence gathering. A Beidou terminal on the ground can communicate with satellites to receive instructions or send out information, using a special channel controlled by system operators in Beijing. Most Chinese lighthouses, military facilities and tens of thousands of fishing boats in the South China Sea have been equipped with Beidou terminals to strengthen the Chinese government's control of the region, according to Ran. A lighthouse, for instance, can record and identify each vessel passing nearby and relay any sensitive information to Beijing. Beidou also allows the government to know the whereabouts of tens of thousands of fishing boats and take prompt action if they encounter problems in disputed waters. The government of Hong Kong, according to Ran, was in “close contact” with Beijing to bring the Beidou system to Hong Kong and initial applications had already started. “The Hong Kong government has requested technological exchange and application training for the system, including the construction of testing and evaluation facilities,” he said. “We will include Hong Kong as part of China in our overall plan for construction and application,” Ran said. More than a third of smart phones exported from China in the first quarter this year were installed with Beidou terminal chips, which has prompted some security concerns overseas. Some users worried that a Beidou smartphone would allow the Chinese authorities to locate and monitor the exact whereabouts of a user. But a mainland security expert said that most Beidou chips on smartphones did not have the function to communicate directly with a satellite. “The communication channel has limited bandwidth. Only selected users will have access to the service,” said the expert, who asked not to be named. “A satellite link also requires special antenna and a large power source, which cannot be packed into an ordinary smartphone,” he said. The construction of the Beidou system, which started in 2000, will be completed by 2020 and will operate nearly 40 satellites. Like GPS, an existing higher accuracy Beidou service has been restricted to government and military users. The improved military-level accuracy of Beidou will also become available to the public, according to Ran. He also said China was in contact with several international organisations and many countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran about using Beidou. The International Maritime Organisation has approved the system on seafaring vessels and the International Civil Aviation Organisation was also reviewing the safety and feasibility of installing Beidou on planes, according to Ran. ^ top ^

China's environmental policies making positive impact: science report (Xinhua)
2016-06-17
A new paper, involving an international team of 3,000 researchers, reveals that China's environmental policies are making clear positive impacts. "China has gone further than any other country," said Gretchen Daily, professor of Environmental Science at Stanford and senior author of the paper. "In the face of deepening environmental crisis, China has become very ambitious and innovative in its new conservation science and policies and has implemented them on a breathtaking scale." The paper, titled "Improvements in ecosystem services from investments in natural capital," is published in the June 17 issue of journal Science, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The research team used InVEST, a software suite designed by the Natural Capital Project for evaluating economic and environmental tradeoffs, to assess China's conservation efforts from 2000-2010 by analyzing data from satellites, soil samples, biodiversity surveys, meteorology, hydrological studies and other types of field surveys. It leads to discovery that the country's conservation policies improved key ecosystem services such as soil retention, water supply, carbon sequestration and sand storm prevention on a country-wide scale. "The hope is that this can bring about a transformation in the way people think of and account for the values of nature," said Daily, who is a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and co-director of the Natural Capital Project. Officials in China began considering significant environmental reform following a series of natural disasters in the late 1990s that were exacerbated by human activities, the researchers noted. By 2000, China developed the Natural Forest Conservation Program and the Sloping Land Conversion Program, which costed 50 billion U.S. dollars over 10 years and was designed to reduce natural disaster risks by restoring forest and grassland, while also improving life conditions for 120 million poverty-stricken farmers. Such investments can have big payoffs, said Steve Polasky, Fesler-Lampert Professor of Ecological/Environmental Economics at University of Minnesota and a co-author of the report. "Restoring forests and grasslands can reduce flooding and sandstorms, which has large benefits for the people downstream and downwind." Much of China's success can be traced to how officials incorporate assessments of the state of ecosystems and their economic values to society into decision-making processes. This approach, Daily said, is applicable anywhere on planet Earth. For instance, forests, wetlands and other heavily vegetated places play a key role in regulating the flow of water and its quality, but these are under constant threat of conversion to farming or settlement. "China is using science to identify and define the priority areas for protection or restoration in order to improve water security in a way that anybody could apply," she said. Likewise, sand storms are a significant problem in some Chinese cities and are the result of deforestation and dry conditions. The researchers identify the areas that should be restored to mitigate storms, and which forested areas are at future risk of contributing to sand storms, and should thus be protected. The science can inform society's choices, Daily said, but it can't make the final call. Research can quantify the benefits a particular area can provide if it were used to grow food or reforested to prevent floods, but ultimately it will be up to policymakers to decide, both for that region and where the decision falls within a set of national priorities. There are still areas where China needs improvement, Daily said. Although the country has the highest rate of reforestation in the world, many of the newly planted trees are not native to the regions. These plantings are a pragmatic short-term answer to rebuilding forests efficiently, quickly and inexpensively, but don't fare as well in the long term. This provides a basic infrastructure for wildlife, but biodiversity continues to worsen, and will do so until there is a more natural landscape. The researchers noted that the report didn't examine other significant challenges, such as air quality and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. These will require interventions beyond ecosystem restoration alone. "To realize the dream of becoming the ecological civilization of the 21st century, China needs more innovation in approaches to securing both nature and human well-being," Daily said. "This is humanity's grand challenge -- and while China is only in the first phases of transformation, its efforts are inspiring adaptation and adoption of their approaches in other countries worldwide," she said. ^ top ^

Natl flag flown at all religious sites in Zhejiang's Lanxi (Global Times)
2016-06-17
Chinese national flags have been raised at all 69 religious sites in the city of Lanxi in East China's Zhejiang Province in order to "have patriotism guide the devotion to religions," the provincial religious committee said Wednesday. As of Monday, all 69 religious sites in Lanxi - including Christian churches and Buddhist temples - had put up Chinese national flags. In addition, the venues are required to hold a national flag-raising ceremony at every important festival and holiday to "enhance patriotic education," according to a statement posted on the official website of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of Zhejiang Province on Wednesday. "Patriotism and devotion to religion are required by each religious group itself, which should be expressed explicitly. Raising the national flag is one way to demonstrate that," Yan Kejia, the director of the Institute of Religious Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday. Numerous netizens on Sina Weibo questioned whether it is appropriate to raise the national flag at religious sites, with some saying they believe it violates the principle of the separation of politics and religion. A religious studies expert at the Central Institute of Socialism who asked for anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday that Chinese law stipulates that politics and religion should not interfere with each other, but the national flag represents the country, not politics. "Besides, hanging flags does not intervene in the freedom of religious activities," the expert said. The government of Zhejiang's Pingyang county on Monday denied a rumor that churches in its jurisdiction have been required to raise national flags and establish offices run by the Communist Party of China. The national flag was raised at 30 religious sites in Huangshi, Central China's Hubei Province in May 2015, according to a report on the website of the State Administration for Religious Affairs. "Christians are citizens in the first place. Both patriotism and devotion to religion are their obligations," said Xu Chengxiang, head of the Christian Council in Huangshi. Addressing a conference on religion that concluded on April 23, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to fully implement the Party's policy of religious freedom, manage religious affairs in line with laws and retain the principles of religious independence and self-administration, the Xinhua News Agency reported. ^ top ^

China seeks to open judiciary to lawyers and scholars (SCMP)
2016-06-16
China will recruit experienced ­lawyers from private practices as law drafters, prosecutors and judges as part of Beijing's attempt to improve its judiciary. But some legal scholars and lawyers said political influence and remuneration remained ­concerns, despite recent reforms in these areas. According to a document posted on the internet this week, which was confirmed by a number of lawyers who have seen it, the central government has instructed the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission and judicial authorities at all levels across the nation to formalise the recruitment of law drafters, judges and prosecutors. Qualifying lawyers and legal scholars must be Communist Party members and have practised or researched law for no less than five years and have a good reputation, according to the document. Candidates must be of good character and uphold principals of openness and fairness. The new policy follows a pilot scheme set up in March by the ­Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate to recruit lawyers and legal academics as judges and prosecutors during what they called “a year of critical judicial reform”. Similar moves were announced in recent years but failed to generate a significant impact, according to critics who questioned whether the latest move would ensure that private legal practitioners could thrive in a judiciary that regards judges as little more than civil servants. In mainland China, judges are required to toe the party line and judgments are usually deliberated among a committee that is sensitive to political influences. This is despite the Supreme People's Court last year prohibiting local government and cadres from ­intervening in judgments. A pilot scheme was launched last year to lift judges' remuneration by 43 per cent in selected jurisdictions such as Shanghai. Veteran lawyer Wang Cailiang, the deputy director of the administrative law committee of the All China Lawyers Association, said the policy was “a positive step” to attract talent from the private sector as the judiciary was brought up to international standards. But Wang was not convinced real change would come about this time. “The document does not spell out how private lawyers or legal academics will be officially ranked and remunerated once they are hired by a system that would convert them into civil ­servants,” Wang said. “The legal education that lawyers receive gives them a different perspective to judges raised within the party where judgments are often deliberated among a judging committee prone to political influence,” he said. Lawyers accustomed to independent thinking might find it hard to fit into a system that requires judges to toe the party line. Renowned lawyer Si Weijiang said similar moves in the past were seriously implemented. “Those with a real commitment to serve as judges would want to rule independently but it is impossible in reality,” Si said. ^ top ^

Son and wife of China's jailed ex-security tsar found guilty of taking bribes (SCMP)
2016-06-16
Both the son and wife of former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, the most senior official sacked for corruption in modern China, have been found guilty of taking bribes and handed jail terms, according to official media. Zhou Bin, the 44-year-old elder son of the disgraced former Politburo Standing Committee member, was imprisoned for 18 years and fined 350 million yuan (HK$412 million) by the Yichang Intermediate People's Court in Hubei province on Wednesday, state broadcaster CCTV reported. He was convicted of taking more than 222 million yuan in bribes, in concert with his father and others, and had used his father's position to obtain the payments, it said. Zhou was also found guilty of involvement in the trade of prohibited goods, which had severely disrupted market order. In a separate hearing, the same court sentenced Zhou's second wife, Jia Xiaoye, 46, to nine years' jail for bribery, according to a statement on the court's social media account. Jia, a former CCTV employee, had used the influence of others to procure the money and was fined 1 million yuan, it said. The amount she accepted was not specified, nor the date of her trial. Both Zhou Bin and Jia said they would not appeal. Sources told the South China Morning Post in early 2014 that the junior Zhou and Jia had established an entertainment production company that might have enjoyed preferential treatment by CCTV. The son and wife appeared in a video that was used as evidence at the trial of the former minister last year, according to Xinhua. Zhou became the Communist Party's security chief and one of nine members of the decision-making Politburo Standing Committee in 2007. He retired from all official positions in 2012 and was placed under investigation soon after. He was convicted of taking bribes, abuse of power and intentionally leaking state secrets at a secret trial. The verdict was announced last June, after the proceedings had ended, and he was sentenced to life in prison. The trial was not open to the public because state secrets were involved, according to the People's Intermediate Court of Tianjin, where his trial was heard. Last month Ling Jihua, once a top aide of former president Hu Jintao, was charged with corruption, abuse of power and illegally obtaining state secrets. Ling's wife is also a former employee of CCTV. Jia's trial was unusual in that legal authorities have imposed a fine without disclosing the amount of bribes involved, said Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan. It appeared the authorities wanted to wind up the Zhou affair as quickly as possible, he said. “Zhou also decided not to appeal when he received a life sentence last year,” he said. “It's likely he reached a compromise with the authorities, in exchange for a light penalty for his wife.” ^ top ^

Beijing court accepts lesbian student's case against MOE over textbooks (Global Times)
2016-06-15
A local court in Beijing accepted a lesbian student's case against the Ministry of Education (MOE) over textbooks that describe of homosexuality as a "psychological disorder" on Tuesday. Qiu Bai (pseudonym), a junior student at Sun Yat-sen University in South China's Guangdong Province, filed a case with the Beijing First Intermediate People's Court against the MOE after the ministry refused her request for an administrative review of the textbooks' content on May 20. Qiu filed her request after the ministry failed to reply to her initial complaint about the homophobic content of the textbooks. The MOE responded in a letter by saying that Qiu's request "has nothing to do with her own interests." Qiu has argued that as a student, whether the information in her textbooks is correct or not is directly related to her interests. This is the third time Qiu has sued the MOE over the textbooks' content. She dropped her first case after a meeting with representatives from the ministry, as she thought her voice had been heard. The second case was rejected by a local court. "The best result is that the ministry could help remove such textbooks from the market, but I will not drop the case this time," Qiu told the Global Times on Wednesday. Qiu is not the only LGBT person to have sued a government body over alleged discrimination. In September 2015, Fan Popo, a gay film director, sued the government for removing his LGBT-themed movies from video-streaming sites. ^ top ^

Misery endures for Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, 'freed' after three years in solitary confinement (SCMP)
2016-06-15
A prominent human rights lawyer has been kept under house arrest and denied medical care since his release two years ago, his ­daughter said in Hong Kong ­yesterday. Gao Zhisheng, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was under house arrest in a remote village in Shaanxi province, where he lives with his brother, and was not permitted to leave the courtyard of their home, said Geng Ge. Gao, 52, could eat only liquid foods because of the poor ­condition of his teeth and he had not been allowed to visit a dentist, said Geng, 23. She was in the city to present her father's latest book, Stand Up China 2017 – China's Hope: What I Learned During Five Years as a Political Prisoner. The family has been living apart, with Geng and her mother living in the United States, while Gao remains on the mainland, she said. She had not seen her father in seven years and communication remained difficult, she said. Their last conversation, which took place about six weeks ago, was possible only because the guards happened to stray from their post, she said. Gao rose to international prominence for defending members of the banned Falun Gong sect and fighting for farmers' land rights. He has been in and out of detention since 2006, but in 2010, he angered authorities by publicly denouncing the torture he said he had undergone. He was jailed for three years in 2011 for “instigating subversion of the state” and was released in August 2014. He spent those three years in solitary confinement, according to his book, the manuscript of which was smuggled out of the mainland. In the book, Gao details the physical abuse he endured while in custody. He was tortured with an electric baton held to his face and was forced to wear a blindfold when he needed to use the toilet. On one occasion, when he was being deprived of sleep and forced to stand, whenever he faltered his knees were struck. Whenever he showered, no fewer than six guards would watch him, he said. He was also forbidden to talk. Geng He, Gao's wife, said when he was released he had lost about 23kg and could barely eat or talk. In his book, Gao predicts the rule of the Communist Party will end in 2017 – a revelation he says he received from God. He outlines a plan to build up a democratic China after the party's collapse. After being freed in 2014, he said he deeply missed his family, but chose to remain in China in the hope of someday playing a role in changing the country. “At the very beginning, I did not totally understand. I ­wondered why our father couldn't be with us,” said his daughter, sobbing. “But... after some time, I came to think of his decision as truly great. He loves the Chinese people so much that he put his family in second place. I think that what he thinks is very, very great, so I am very proud of it.” Geng Ge said her father was prepared to face possible retaliation after publishing the book. “He is ready physically and mentally,” she said. “And he told us: 'I hope you can be ready'.” ^ top ^

China hails human rights progress (Global Times)
2016-06-15
China has achieved extraordinary progress during the past four years to implement its second action plan on human rights, including progress on religious freedom and social welfare in areas troubled by religious extremists and separatists, a government report revealed Tuesday. "The freedom of religious belief is fully guaranteed and the rights and interests of ethnic minorities were effectively protected in China," said a report reviewing China's work plan on human rights from 2012 to 2015, released by the State Council Information Office on Tuesday. China launched the National Human Rights Action Plan (2012-2015) in June 2012, the second of its kind, following a similar plan for 2009 to 2010. Experts said that progress in improving livelihood and satisfying spiritual needs of those in areas such as western China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Tibet Autonomous Region was substantial, despite foreign accusations of "government suppression." For a long time, people have criticized Tibet and Xinjiang for their religious freedom situation and also people's livelihood, but practical progress that has helped residents support their beliefs and living standards was unprecedented in scope, but often ignored, said experts. From 2011 to 2015, 200 million yuan ($30 million) was spent on renovating and expanding religious facilities in Tibet, and the Tibet College of Buddhism has so far trained nearly 2,000 monks and nuns and opened several branches, said the review. "The progress on facilities and staff are the basics to safeguarding religious freedom. Almost all Tibetans are religious, so monks are needed for many rituals like weddings and funerals," Penpa Lhamo, deputy head of the contemporary studies institute of the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. For Muslims, the State Council established the mechanism of the inter-ministerial joint meeting on pilgrimages, said the report. Xinjiang will send an additional 352 Muslim pilgrims to join more than 3,000 others to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for this year's hajj. Local governments are working out measures to support the pilgrims' accommodations, meals and transportation, an official with Xinjiang's pilgrimage office told the Global Times. Separately, religious workers are now fully covered by social security programs in China. By 2013, 96.5 percent had medical insurance and 89.6 percent had pension schemes. China's financial and policy support in the two regions is not only in religious sites and activity, but also in improving people's livelihood, said local experts. In Tibet, social security efforts, including the issue of bank cards for farmers and herdsmen to receive over 80 kinds of government subsidiaries, are unprecedented, Tanor, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday. By the end of 2015, there were 405 projects to support education in Tibet, with funding totaling 938 million yuan. The projects provided training to 6,829 people and 3,585 people moved to Tibet to support them, the report said. Xinjiang's local government has made social development its first priority, with over 70 percent of government funds spent on education, employment, social security and the environment, Turgunjan Tursun, a research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Apart from this progress, China is still "underway" in human rights development, as the country is still struggling with problems involving medical care, education, old age care, food and drug safety, income distribution and the environment, Jiang Jianguo, head of the State Council Information Office said Tuesday. China's work plans show the country attaches great importance to human rights, an issue that is closely related with its people's lives and China's national image, Zhang Xiaoling, director of the human rights research center of the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, told the Global Times. More importantly, the document stressed that all members of society, including those in a weak position, should also enjoy the fruits of China's development amid the enlarging wealth gap, said Zhang. Right to education: Between 2012 and 2015, the government budgeted 34.6 billion yuan to help nearly 90 percent of relocated children of migrant workers go to school in cities. Poverty relief: The number of rural dwellers in poverty dropped from 98.9 million in 2012 to 55.8 million in 2015. Re-education through labor: In December 2013, the re-education through labor system was abolished. Death penalty: In August 2015, a new amendment to the Criminal Law abolished the death penalty for nine crimes, reducing the number of crimes where the death penalty is applicable from 55 to 46. Rights of the person: The supervision against extortion of confession by torture and other illegal acts have been strengthened. Between 2012 and 2015, prosecutorial organs made 869,775 remedial proposals on illegal acts during criminal investigations. ^ top ^

Former senior banker convicted of corruption dies in custody in China (SCMP)
2016-06-14
A former senior banker in China convicted of corruption has died in custody and his family has requested an autopsy because the cause of his death is unclear, mainland media reported. Tao Liming, 62, the former president of the Postal Savings Bank of China, died in custody on June 1, according to the news outlet Caixin. The Shanghai-based news website Thepaper.cn cited Tao's lawyer Gao Zicheng as saying that the former banker died of a heart attack. Gao also confirmed that Tao's family has demanded an autopsy. Tao was charged with taking bribes, embezzlement and other offences in June 2014. He pleaded guilty at a court hearing in Henan in 2014, Caixin said, citing bank officials and regulators. Gao was quoted as saying by Thepapjinger.cn that Tao was jailed for life by a court in December last year, but he had been appealing against the sentence. Tao was initially arrested in December 2012 on suspicion of illegal fund raising, according to an announcement made by the savings bank. The Communist Party's anti-corruption body placed him under a disciplinary system equivalent to house arrest for Communist Party members the same year. The banking regulator granted the savings bank a licence to operate in 2007, with ambitions of transforming it into a giant retail bank. ^ top ^

China's graft watchdog calls for trials in absentia to strengthen (SCMP)
2016-06-14
China's top anti-graft watchdog has called for fugitive officials suspected of corruption to be tried in absentia. Setting up trials in absentia – criminal proceedings in court in which the suspect is not physically present – would help China to better cooperate with other countries in hunting suspects, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said on its website on Monday. China is actively seeking international cooperation in hunting down fugitive officials who have fled the country since the launch of President Xi Jinping's nationwide graft crackdown in 2012. But Western countries have been reluctant to help in repatriating suspects, citing fears over China's legal system and mistreatment of criminal suspects. Beijing has said it will push for anti-corruption efforts to be high on the agenda when it hosts this year's G20 summit in September. The mainland's criminal law does not cover trials in absentia. But in the past few years, academics and media commentators have called for such procedures to boost anti-corruption efforts. China was often asked to submit evidence or statements from a court ruling when it asked other countries to help in repatriating fugitives, Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of the Clean Government Centre at Peking University, said. “With trials in absentia, China would be able to establish the suspect's status as a criminal,” he said. Setting up the trials, commonly used in other countries, would help China to better cooperate with other countries when seeking extraditions, he said. Li Danyang, a research fellow at the Beijing-based Beihang University, said the plan would institutionalise anti-graft efforts, and boost China's credibility when asking other countries to cooperate. ^ top ^

Court accepts suit of gay man forced into psychiatric care (Global Times)
2016-06-14
A local court in Central China's Henan Province on Monday accepted a lawsuit filed by a gay man against a mental hospital after he was forcibly hospitalized for 19 days to receive treatment for a sexual preference disorder. Yu Hu (pseudonym), 37, was forced into care at the Second People's Hospital of Zhumadian by his family members on October 8 after he filed for divorce from his wife, according to a press release sent to the Global Times. He was then hospitalized for 19 days, during which time he was made to receive injections and take medicines such as antidepressants. "They did it simply because I am gay," Yu was quoted as saying in a press release. "I don't know how many other people have been treated like this. They must be held accountable." Yu was rescued from the hospital on October 26 by local police, who had been alerted to his plight by a gay rights activist. Accusing the hospital of violating his personal freedom, Yu demanded an apology and compensation of 10,000 yuan ($1,520). Huang Rui, Yu's lawyer, told the Global Times, "The personal freedom of Chinese citizens is protected by law and cannot be infringed upon by hospitals or one's family members." The third version of the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders, released in 2001, removed homosexuality and bisexuality from the list of disorders, following the lead of the 1980 US Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Although homosexuality and bisexuality have been removed from lists of mental disorders, a few clinics in several cities were still found to claim to be capable of "curing" homosexuality, said Huang. ^ top ^

Zhejiang official denies making churches fly natl flag, set up CPC offices (Global Times)
2016-06-14
The government of Pingyang county in East China's Zhejiang Province on Monday denied a rumor that churches in the region have been required to raise national flags and establish offices run by the Communist Party of China (CPC). Hong Kong-based news portal on.cc reported Friday that the government of Pingyang county in the city of Wenzhou demanded that each church in its jurisdiction raise a national flag on its rooftop and set up a Party office to control and supervise its affairs. However, an official surnamed Fan from the publicity department of Pingyang county told the Global Times on Monday the government is aware of the report, but further investigation has found it to be false. "They are just making up the claim," said Fan, adding that the Pingyang government always complies with national policies on religion. Addressing a conference on religion that concluded on April 23, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to fully implement the CPC's policy of religious freedom, manage religious affairs in line with laws, retain the principle of religious independence and self-administration and help religions adapt to socialist society. "We heard about the rumors last year, but we have not received a notice yet," a member of Yitang Christ Church in Pingyang county told the Global Times on the condition of anonymity on Monday. However, a member of Nanmen Christ Church told the Global Times that the rumor was true, though he refused to provide more details. The removal of some unauthorized churches and crosses in Zhejiang - especially in the city of Wenzhou - since 2014 has incited discontent among both the clergy and church members and has triggered a series of reports in Western media. The rapid development of Protestantism and Catholicism in the region over the past few years led to the mushrooming of church buildings. However, some of the structures did not adhere to the blueprints filed with local authorities and exceeded floor area limits established by land use regulations. According to Yitang Christ Church, the removal of crosses from church buildings is part of the "three revise and one demolition" campaign, which aims to hasten urbanization and "build a more beautiful Zhejiang." The campaign allows the demolition and renovation of whatever buildings officials there consider to be dangerous, many of which are churches. "We have always obeyed the regulations and laws," said the Yitang Christ Church member, adding that almost all the crosses in churches in Zhejiang Province had been removed between 2014 and 2015. In April 2014, hundreds of Christians gathered outside Sanjiang Church in Yongjia county, Wenzhou to protest a demolition order against the structure, but the church was ultimately torn down. The government claimed that the size of the church, which covered an area of over 7,000 square meters, severely breached urban construction standards. More than half of the nearly 4,000 Christian churches in Zhejiang lack a license to operate, including a property ownership certificate, the Xinhua News Agency reported. ^ top ^

China stresses protection for lawyers' rights (Xinhua)
2016-06-13
China has issued a document stressing protection for lawyers' rights to practice and improved regulations on practice. "Lawyers are an important force in implementing the rule of law in China," said a guideline released Monday by the general offices of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, China's cabinet. Mechanisms that ensure defense opinions of lawyers are taken seriously in investigation, prosecution and trials as well as guaranteed judicial remedies for infringements upon lawyers' rights should be improved, the document said. According to the guideline, lawyers should be engaged as legal advisors in government, Party and public organizations through government purchases of services. Regulations on lawyers' and law firms' practice and industry-wide standards should be improved, and punishments for violators should be clarified, said the document, adding that a record-keeping system for wrongdoing should be established. Lawyers should uphold the leadership of the CPC and socialist rule of law, the guideline said. China encourages lawyers to actively take part in legal drafting and pro bono legal services and to hold posts in international legal organizations, it said. ^ top ^

Trousergate: Chinese lawyer left half naked after police ripped his clothes in court rejects official apology (SCMP)
2016-06-10
A Chinese lawyer who made global ­headlines after photographs emerged showing him with his trousers in tatters after allegedly being assaulted by court policemen, has refused to accept an ­official apology and offer of ­compensation. Wu Liangshu left the Qingxiu district court in Nanning, Guangxi province, last Friday claiming he had been beaten by three court policemen in the presence of two judges and one other official after his request to file a case was rejected. The clash began when Wu refused to hand over his mobile phone for inspection by the court's police, who suspected he had used the phone to record a conversation with court officials in its petition office. Photographs of Wu outside the court, showing the wounds on his hands, his shirt unbuttoned and his underpants showing through his ripped trousers, went viral online, and made headlines in Western media. Last weekend about 1,000 mainland lawyers signed a petition that condemned the attack on Wu, calling it “barbaric and a violent abuse of power”. However, an investigation task force, which was set up by the city government following the uproar, found Wu was “not subjected to intentional physical assault”. Citing court surveillance footage taken at the time of the incident, it attributed the clash to “an abuse of constraining measures”. It also suggested the court should issue an apology to Wu and offer him compensation for the loss of his phone. This led to the head of the court making an apology to Wu on Wednesday – nearly a week after the incident – as well as offering him a new ­mobile phone and 2,000 yuan (HK$2,365) in cash as ­compensation. However, Wu said on Thursday he had rejected the apology and offer because the court ­policemen had not been dealt with according to the law. “Wu was being strangled by one of the police officers while the others tried to take his mobile phone, which was in the pockets of his trousers,” said a statement prepared by Wu's lawyers, which cited the surveillance footage. “He was forced to the ground, screaming for his life, but they continued to rip his trousers off him [to get the phone]. “One of the police officers stamped on his chest with his right foot and continued to rip his trousers until the phone flew out of his pocket,” the statement said. It added that Wu had wanted to call the police emergency hotline, other lawyers, his law firm and even family members, to say what had happened, but had been banned by the court from doing so. “The surveillance video clearly shows that Wu was subjected to harsh treatment by the court, which led to a violent assault by court police, which is also an abuse of constraining measures,” the statement added. “Over the years, the central government has repeatedly instructed judicial departments to protect the rights of lawyers and yet we experienced such unfair treatment in Guangxi. “It is a hostile environment in which to practise [law], and we strongly urge Guangxi judicial departments to learn from this lesson and adhere to protecting the rights of lawyers,” the statement said. ^ top ^

Fears mount for health of Chinese activist Guo Feixiong entering 40th day of hunger strike (SCMP)
2016-06-10
Fears are mounting for the health of rights activist Guo Feixiong whose weight has dropped by a third since he started a hunger strike in jail 40 days ago. Guo's siblings are said to have been pressured into silence by security officials. Guangzhou-based lawyer Sui Muqing, the activist's former legal representative, said Guo was in dire health from the action he began on May 9 in protest against the treatment of political prisoners. “The hunger strike is ongoing but his weight dropped from about 75kg when he was first locked up to less than 52kg now,” Sui said. “His collarbones are clearly visible, and the authorities have been threatening his brother and sister from speaking to the outside world about his condition,” Sui added. When Guo started the strike, he said his jailors had shaved his head, filmed him being rectally probed and ordered him to “squat like a bug” in front of any guard. He demanded Chinese President Xi Jinping reform the constitution to push for democracy, abolish torture by electric shock in prisons, improve treatment of political prisoners and make the government abide by UN rights conventions. In an interview with the South China Morning Post this week, Guo's 54-year-old sister Yang Maoping, a doctor, refused to disclose the state of her brother's health. “I can't discuss that with you,” Yang said, weeping. “I'll do my best to persuade him to stop the hunger strike.” Guo's elder brother visited him this week, but was unavailable for comment. Guo, 49, has gone on hunger strike twice before – for 59 days when he was jailed nearly 10 years ago and for 25 days at Guangzhou's Tianhe detention centre in 2013. His real name is Yang Maodong. He was arrested after a week-long peaceful demonstration against censorship outside the liberal Southern Weekly in Guangzhou in January 2013 and detained until November last year, when he was sentenced to six years for “gathering crowds to disturb the social order”. Last month, Yang Maoping said Guo had been passing and coughing blood and had been denied proper medical care. On May 4, Guo's supporters started an online movement to take turns at going without food. They had done so more than 300 times since then, said Wu Yuhua, Guo's friend and a coordinator of the movement. “More than 30 participants have also been subjected to various levels of harassment. Five were recently detained,” Wu said. “Guo's will is undoubtedly strong as steel, but we are not sure how long he can last in his current state of health.” Guo was jailed in 2006 after the publication of a book that exposed official corruption in Shenyang, Liaoning province. On his release, in 2011, he told his sister he had been tortured in jail with ­electric batons. He was detained and beaten in 2005 and 2006 after helping residents in Taishi village, Guangdong, in an attempt to unseat ­corrupt local officials. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Airport blast suspect gambled money away (Global Times)
2016-06-14
The suspect in the Shanghai airport explosion had a large amount of gambling debt, said police on Monday. Zhou Xingbai, 29, from Tongren city in Southwest China's Guizhou province, became a migrant worker in 2006 when he finished middle school, police said. He has allegedly been addicted to online gambling since 2014, squandering his savings and living in heavy debt. Zhou wrote on his WeChat account that he owed many people money, and was going to do something "very crazy," which would definitely cost his life. He allegedly left Kunshan of east China's Jiangsu province at 7:34 am Sunday by coach. At Shanghai Pudong International Airport, he allegedly threw a homemade explosive device in beer bottle at a check-in counter in Terminal 2 at 2:26 pm. Police found explosive used to make firecrackers in Zhou's house. Four passengers, including a Philippine national, were injured by flying glass, and a few flights were affected. Zhou cut his throat with a knife at the airport, but was taken to hospital for medical treatment. ^ top ^

Explosion strikes Shanghai airport (Global Times)
2016-06-13
The explosion of a homemade incendiary device rocked Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Sunday afternoon, injuring three people, while the suspect tried to commit suicide. The unidentified man, who is around 30 years old, threw an explosive device made out of a beer bottle at the check-in counters in Terminal 2 of Pudong International Airport at 2:26 pm on Sunday, causing an explosion, the Shanghai Police said on their official Sina Weibo account. Pudong District People's Hospital announced that four people injured in the explosion are being treated at the hospital's facilities, including the suspect, who was "seriously wounded. "The suspect cut his neck with a knife at the scene and is currently receiving emergency treatment, according to police. The other three injured people, including a Philippine citizen, are in stable condition. News site Shanghai Observer reported that the airport has raised its security level to require each bag entering the terminal buildings to undergo security checks. No official authorities have confirmed the motivation behind the suspect's actions. An eyewitness who asked for anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday that a young man in white at the check-in counter of Thai Airways threw a bottle-like explosive emitting smoke and flames at the check-in counter of Philippine Airlines. "It was so horrible to experience such an event. I'm so horrified that my legs cannot stop trembling," the witness said. The passenger added that her flight, which was scheduled to take off at 4 pm, was still delayed at 6 pm. "The explosion occurred before the first security checkpoint, so the security forces can hardly be blamed for failing to prevent it," Wu Shaozhong, an intelligence expert from the People's Public Security University, told the Global Times on Sunday. "Such events cannot be avoided completely by simply adding security checkpoints, because criminals can always commit a crime before the first checkpoint, and they can study the process and features of security checks in order to achieve their goals," Wu said. The last similar attack in China took place on July 20, 2013, when an explosion occurred outside the arrivals exit at Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital International Airport, injuring only the bomber. A wheelchair-bound man, identified as Ji Zhongxing of East China's Shandong Province, set off the homemade explosive device. Ji was charged with setting off explosives and was sentenced to six years in jail in October 2013, the Xinhua News Agency reported. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Five years since landmark protests, Chinese village stirs again
2016-06-16
Residents of an eastern Guangdong village are to demonstrate over what they say is illegally grabbed land – nearly five years after a similar protest drew international attention. Villagers in Wukan claim a variety of individuals, companies and property developers have stolen communal land, possibly with political backing, and say they will stage a protest next week. The issue has been simmering since their demonstrations in 2011, which involved a months-long stand-off between the defiant villagers and the authorities. The 2011 protest ended when the provincial government agreed to allow the villagers to directly elect their administrators, but Guangdong's Communist Party boss Hu Chunhua might find the latest action more difficult to solve. Documents signed by the Wukan village administration, including a letter seeking approval to petition and a draft speech aimed at villagers, began to surface on the internet this week. The draft speech, by Lin Zuluan, a 72-year-old village party secretary who was directly elected, says the people of Wukan are preparing to sacrifice more than they did in 2011. “Over the past four plus years, the sky of Wukan has lingered in darkness before dawn,” Lin's speech says. “The people of Wukan paid a tremendous price [in 2011] but we are prepared to pay some more. “Just make sure we comply with laws and regulations in the [demonstration] which you have demanded to address land ­problems and tackle the inaction of local governments over the past [five] years.” In an apparent move to distance himself from his family to protect them from reprisals, Lin has said he will divorce his wife and transfer his property to her. Beijing-based political analyst Zhang Lifan said: “This is the last cry in utter helplessness. To petition on your knees, begging officials no longer works.” Eroded by years of corruption, the village made international headlines in September 2011 for demonstrating against the Donghai township and Lufeng city governments. The protests saw residents clash with police, block village entrances and declare a new self-ruled village administration. The protests lasted three months before the provincial government offered to allow villagers to elect their own leaders. Since then, a steady drip of elected village leaders have either resigned or been imprisoned on corruption charges – while the land disputes remain unresolved. “This has frustrated villagers – that's why we see locals planning to take their grievances to the streets again,” Zhang said. Zhang said Hu faced a difficult period ahead of next year's Communist Party congress, where politicians will jockey for position. “This is a critical test for Hu's career – can he keep the top leadership and the grassroots happy?” Zhang said. ^ top ^

Senior official found hanged at home; homicide ruled out (China Daily)
2016-06-14
A senior official was found hanged on Sunday at his home in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, local media reported. Police confirmed the death of Liu Xiaohua, deputy secretary-general of the Communist Party of China's Guangdong Provincial Committee, and ruled out the possibility of homicide. No further details were revealed. Guangdong's top anti-graft body declined to comment. Senior official found hanged at home; homicide ruled out Before being appointed to what would be his final post in March, Liu was deputy Party chief and mayor of Heyuan until 2011 when he became Party chief of Zhanjiang, a port city in Guangdong, and director of the city's People's Congress. Liu's apparent suicide came as Guangdong's top anti-graft body expanded its investigation of officials suspected of corruption in the southern province, one of the country's economic powerhouses. "Anti-corruption is a long-term and tough task in Guangdong and anti-graft bodies across the province will never lower their vigilance," said Huang Xianyao, Party chief of the Guangdong provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection, during a work conference in Guangzhou last week. Huang urged anti-graft officials to do what they can to ensure clean and honest government operations to serve the province's economic development. Earlier this month, Qian Fangli, chairwoman of the Zhuhai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and Liu Baihong, deputy mayor of Qingyuan, were put under investigation for suspected violations of Party discipline and accepting bribes. ^ top ^

Man with HIV wants job back (Global Times)
2016-06-13
Proceedings in China's labor arbitration case addressing job discrimination against an HIV-positive individual opened in a court in South China's Guangdong Province on Sunday. The 27-year-old plaintiff, Ah Ming (pseudonym), filed a case against his employer - a public institution in Guangzhou - with the local labor dispute arbitration committee in April after he was told to leave his job when he was found to be HIV positive during a physical exam. "I want to go back to my work, and my health condition allows me to handle my work right now," Ah Ming told the Global Times on Sunday. Ah Ming had worked for the institution for three years as a contract worker and was applying for a permanent job there, which requires a physical examination. After the physical, Ah Ming was told that the provincial employment regulations for public institutions do not allow people who are HIV positive to be employed. His employer also suspended him from work and asked him to rest at home, citing regulations on prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. "The Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases... excludes HIV carriers from those needing to be treated in quarantine," Qiu Hengyu, Ah Ming's attorney, told the Global Times. "The employer's decision to suspend Ah Ming from work has violated the law," Qiu said. Citing the Rules on AIDS Prevention and Treatment, Qiu pointed out that the marriage, employment, medical treatment and education rights and interests of those living with HIV and AIDS are protected by law. "Government agencies and public institutions should not expressly discriminate against an employee while the government is advocating employment equality," Qiu noted. He added that the result of the arbitration will be announced within 60 days. However, Ah Ming's employer said the health requirements for his post are stricter, since his duty is to use primarily glass tools to inspect and test products that will be "directly sold to and eaten by consumers," news site thepaper.cn reported on Sunday. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet denies textbook sinicization (SCMP)
2016-06-17
Education authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region have denied reports that Chinese would replace Tibetan as the language to be used for primary school mathematics textbooks. "The education department does not plan [to replace the Tibetan version of textbooks], so such reports are groundless," Zhu Yun, deputy head of the department, told the Global Times on Thursday. The Tibet Education Department said primary schools in the region can choose either version with the same content, Tibet-based website China Tibet News reported Wednesday. The department reportedly plans to replace all Tibetan math textbooks with Chinese language ones to "boost learning efficiency," saying that "the procedures will become complicated if [schools] adopt Tibetan language textbooks," according to Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Wednesday. We have a team that translates, writes and edits the Tibetan version of math textbooks, so the excuse that Tibetan textbooks are more difficult to make is not true, Zhu said. Every year, over 3,500 primary and secondary textbooks in ethnic minority languages are published, with more than 100 million copies printed in Tibet, according to the Assessment Report on the Implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012-15) released on Tuesday. Some 99 percent of schools in Tibet have undergone bilingual education from preschool to higher education, with 97 percent of students in Tibet receiving such a program, the Tibet Daily reported in July 2015. "In urban areas where there's a greater mix of ethnic groups, it's normal for more courses to be taught in Chinese, while in rural areas, courses taught in Tibetan are the standard," Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at Minzu University of China and an expert on Tibet, told the Global Times. "However, bilingual education faces some obstacles, such as the lack of bilingual teachers," said Lian Xiangmin, an expert at the China Tibetology Research Center. Dekang Champa, a Tibet official, blamed the drop in the enrollment rate to the adoption of other ethnic languages in exams while students were taught in Tibetan, according to RFA. Xiong explained that according to the policy, students in Tibet, as well as other ethnic areas, can choose to take college entrance exams in Chinese or ethnic languages. The ones who take the Tibetan exam have the chance to receive higher education taught in Tibetan, which will help the ethnic minority group cultivate their own abilities. Some parents choose to send their children to schools where most courses are taught in Chinese, so that the students will have a better chance to attend first-tier universities and even study abroad, Xiong added.^ top ^

W.China education gets boost (Global Times)
2016-06-16
China vowed on Wednesday to further boost education in its central and western regions, particularly Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Tibet Autonomous Region. Experts said the promised expansion in the exchange of educational resources between Han and minority ethnic areas will allow students to receive a more balanced education. The General Office of the State Council on Saturday released a guideline on boosting the development of education in central and western regions, stressing the improvement of efforts to set up secondary school classes for ethnic minority students from Tibet and Xinjiang in other regions of China. "Students in Tibet and Xinjiang classes [in other areas] not only receive a better education and rich experience, but they also bring different values to their families and communities," Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at Minzu University of China, told the Global Times. "We may have greater chances to attend first-tier universities, so many parents hope that we can be enrolled in Tibetan classes," a former student of a Tibetan class who asked for anonymity told the Global Times, adding that a majority of Tibetan students in those classes eventually returned to Tibet to work after completing their education. The guideline also announced that 30,000 teachers from other areas of China would be dispatched to work in Tibet and Xinjiang by 2020, displacing over 90 percent of local science teachers, who will receive off-the-job training. "The lack of high-quality bilingual teachers is an obstacle for basic education in Xinjiang," Li Xiaoxia, director of the Institute of Sociology under the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "Different languages, climates and customs also discourage teachers from other parts of China from going to those areas," Xiong noted. "Xinjiang has rolled out bilingual training programs for local teachers and has tried to attract teachers from other parts of China, which is a long-term process," Li said, adding that, as in provinces throughout the country, there is an imbalance in the distribution of educational resources between rural and urban areas in Xinjiang. The State Council's guideline also stated that China will offer more higher education opportunities to students from ethnic areas. Students in Tibet have been provided the chance to study at high schools in other parts of China since 1985. Currently, 21 Chinese provinces and cities offer classes for students from Tibet. A similar program for Xinjiang students was set up in 2000, allowing junior middle school students from Xinjiang, mostly ethnic Uyghurs, to study in cities throughout eastern China, the Xinhua News Agency reported. In 2015, 37,000 students from Xinjiang studied in 93 schools in 45 cities in eastern China. More than 95 percent of the students in the program went on to attend university and returned to work in Xinjiang between 2004 and 2015, according to the regional education department. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Bookseller Lam Wing-kee reveals explosive details of his mainland China detention, claims Lee Po told him he was 'taken away from Hong Kong' (SCMP)
2016-06-17
One of the five Causeway Bay booksellers who went missing last year and turned up in mainland custody blew the lid on Thursday on what happened to them, revealing that he had been kidnapped at the border and put through eight months of mental torture. “It can happen to you too,” Lam Wing-kee warned Hongkongers as he revealed that he had met one of his previously missing associates, Lee Po, on Thursday who told him he had also been ­abducted in Hong Kong. Lam described in explosive detail how he was taken away, blindfolded and handcuffed by a special task force while crossing the border to Shenzhen last ­October. Two days after quietly returning home and asking local police to drop their missing person investigation into his case, the 61-year-old Hongkonger was defiant, breaking a silence that had been maintained by three of his colleagues who were earlier allowed to leave by mainland authorities. The Causeway Bay Books store manager said he had decided to risk his personal safety in speaking out because this was a matter that jeopardised the “one country, two systems” policy under which Hong Kong is ­governed. “This is not just about me. This is about the freedom of Hong Kong people. The Chinese government has forced Hong Kong people into a dead end,” Lam said, his fists clenched. “I am not worried about my personal safety. I have no plan to go to the mainland again. We Hong Kong people are all in the same boat. It can happen to you, too, if I don't speak up.” Asked if he was scared there could be a repeat, he replied it was up to whether the Hong Kong ­government could take care of its people. The mysterious disappearances of the five men involved in selling books full of gossip about China's leaders began in October last year. Gui Minhai vanished first from Pattaya in Thailand. Lam, Cheung Chi-ping and Lui Por went missing while on the mainland. Lee Po disappeared from Hong Kong in December. All five eventually surfaced on the mainland, appearing on state media to claim they had gone there voluntarily. Gui has since been accused of ordering his associates, including Lam, to deliver about 4,000 banned books across the border since October 2014. On Thursday, Lam said he was crossing the border to visit his girlfriend in Shenzhen on October 24 when he was intercepted by mainland officers. “The next day... I was handcuffed and blindfolded. They even put a cap on me. After 13 to 14 hours on a train, I arrived in Ningbo city [Zhejiang province],” he recalled. Gui was paraded on state television in January, claiming he had surrendered voluntarily over a 2004 drink-driving incident in Ningbo. Lam said the people who detained him had forced him to sign a form in which he agreed not to inform his family of his situation, and that he would not hire a lawyer. He signed it as he had no ­option. His interrogators asked him why he had been smuggling banned books into the mainland and accused him of breaking the law, which he rejected. The interrogators showed him a list of 500 to 600 mainland customers to whom the bookstore had delivered material. The list was given to the interrogators by Lee Po, he was told. Lam also revealed that when he appeared on state television, he was made to read from a script he was given. He said he was released because the interrogators wanted him to bring back a hard disk ­containing more information about the bookstore's mainland customers. The Hong Kong government would only say police were seeking more information from Lam, and that it would be unacceptable for any law enforcement work to be carried out in the city without official permission. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taipei rejects former Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou's request to visit Hong Kong (SCMP)
2016-06-13
Taiwanese authorities have ­rejected a request by former ­president Ma Ying-jeou to visit Hong Kong to attend an award presentation dinner of the Society of Publishers in Asia (Sopa). The island's Presidential ­Office cited several reasons, including that Ma had only recently left office, that the request was made at very short notice, the “sensitivity” of Hong Kong, and the lack of security ­cooperation with the territory. The office said Ma could always take part in the event via video conference. Ma had hoped to attend Wednesday's dinner, where he was to speak on cross-strait and East Asian relations. SSAt such short notice, it is unlikely that the new government could discover what kind of classified information he'd accessed Presidential spokesman Alex Huang But presidential spokesman Alex Huang on Sunday said it was not appropriate for Ma to visit Hong Kong at this time. “As Ma submitted his request just 13 days after he left office, at such short notice, it is unlikely that the new government could discover what kind of classified information he'd accessed and whether he had returned all those documents and completed clearance procedures,” Huang said. He said there was no precedent of cooperation between Hong Kong and Taiwan's security bureau, making “risk control difficult”. According to Taiwan's Classified National Security Information Protection Act, former government officials with access to classified information are subject to travel restrictions for three years after leaving office. Ma left office on May 20 after his mainland-friendly Kuomintang lost the presidential race to Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party. Ma is the first former president to apply for a visit outside Taiwan since the act was introduced in 2003. If approved, he would have been the first former leader of ­Taiwan to visit Hong Kong since 1949. Ma's office expressed regret over the decision. A spokeswoman said it showed “not only disrespect to the former leader, but damages Taiwan's democratic image in the world”. KMT vice-chairman Hau Lung-bin said the decision showed “a lack of self-confidence and goodwill” from Tsai. Lin Chuan-chung, a researcher at Taiwan's Academia Sinica, said the Hong Kong visit could have been a first step for a political comeback by Ma. “He hopes to take over from [former Taiwan premier] Lien Chan to broker cross-strait relations, as evident by his meeting with President Xi Jinping in Singapore in November,” Lin said. The ruling was applauded by the pro-independence camp and DPP lawmakers, who said Ma planned to promote the “1992 consensus” and “one China” principle. Tsai did not acknowledge the 1992 consensus in her inauguration speech, leading Beijing to question her pledge to uphold the cross-strait status quo. The consensus refers to an understanding reached at a meeting in Hong Kong in 1992 where Beijing and Taipei agreed that there is only “one China” but each side can have its own interpretation of what “China” stands for. Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said the consensus should be upheld and Taiwanese independence must be opposed. Yang Lixian, deputy secretary of the National Society of Taiwan Studies in Beijing, said the decision was aimed at the mainland. “If the destination was the US or Japan, would she [Tsai] reject it? If Tsai really hopes to improve relations with the mainland, she should have dealt with this in a different way,” Yang said. Sopa said a video link would be arranged for Ma to address the dinner. “We are disappointed that Mr Ma cannot be with us in person,” Sopa editorial committee chairwoman SK Witcher said. ^ top ^

Top political advisor [Yu Zhengsheng] stresses 1992 Consensus, deepening exchanges (Xinhua)
2016-06-12
Top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng stressed adherence to the political foundation of the 1992 Consensus to ensure the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties, and the maintenance of peace and stability, at the opening ceremony of the eighth Straits Forum in Xiamen Sunday. Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said that as long as this political foundation is upheld, cross-Strait relations will enjoy a prosperous future, adding that secessionist activities seeking "Taiwan independence" must be firmly opposed and contained. Yu said that he had met representatives from the mainland and Taiwan prior to the conference, and they commended the achievements made during the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, but expressed concern for the future. Representatives strongly supported the maintenance and peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, peace and stability, Yu said, adding that it was the common wish of compatriots on the two sides. During his speech, Yu also said the mainland highly valued proposals from Taiwan compatriots suggesting easier travel to and around the mainland, and it will put forward measures as soon as possible. Yu also conveyed greetings from Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, to attendees of the forum, particularly compatriots from Taiwan. Yu said expanded and improved people-to-people exchanges were needed to maintain the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties. "The more complicated cross-Strait ties become, the more we need to deepen people-to-people exchanges," Yu said, proposing more activities for people from both sides. With continued efforts, Yu believes that cross-Strait people-to-people exchanges will become the "anchor" to ensure peaceful development of ties, as well as the "sails" to drive compatriots across the Strait into a better future. Meanwhile, stressing the role of the younger generation, Yu expressed hope that they could become good friends who understand each other and build careers together, as well as emerge as the driving force to propel and maintain the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties. Working toward the goals of peaceful development of cross-Strait ties also needs firm faith and engagement of compatriots from both the mainland and Taiwan, Yu said. As long as they unite in the endeavor, "there is no insurmountable mountain for cross-Strait relations." The mainland will continue to improve its policies to facilitate Taiwan compatriots to work and live on the mainland, Yu said. The mainland will also support mainland-based Taiwan businesses in restructuring and in participating in the "Belt and Road" initiative, as well as promote integrated development of industries from the two sides, according to Yu's speech. Moreover, the mainland will build more platforms for young people from Taiwan to study, work and start up businesses here, Yu said, adding it will encourage cross-Strait scientific and technological research and development, and cross-Strait academic exchanges. Jason Hu, vice chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) Party, also attended the forum, and voiced his hope that cross-Strait people-to-people exchanges be strengthened. ^ top ^

 

Economy

IMF official warns of debt risk (China Daily)
2016-06-15
China 'making progress' in economic transition, but high corporate borrowing could spell trouble China is making progress on its economic rebalancing, but rising corporate debt could pose risks to growth in the medium and long term if the debt problem isn't solved, a senior official at the International Monetary Fund suggested in Beijing on Tuesday. "China is making progress in many dimensions on its transition to a sustainable growth path, and the near-term outlook has turned more buoyant due to recent policy support," said David Lipton, the IMF's first deputy managing director, after a discussion with top Chinese officials and regulators in the financial sector. Lipton said the moderate slowdown in China's growth in the first quarter is a natural result of the country's necessary transition, and it's good enough compared with many other economies. Addressing recent depreciation pressure on the renminbi that sparked concerns of global investors, Lipton said the exchange rate is becoming "more flexible and market-based" as there has been substantial liberalization of financial markets. Lipton said the government should achieve an effective floating range within the next couple of years. What it needs to be concerned about to ensure medium-to-high growth in the long run is the risk of rising debt, Lipton said. "The corporate debt load, which is at 145 percent of GDP, though still manageable, is high and rising fast," Lipton said, adding that China needed a comprehensive plan and concrete action - especially for State-owned enterprises - to avoid serious problems in the long run. His observations were in line with those of Chinese authorities who have been aware of the challenges. An unidentified "authoritative figure" who published an article in People's Daily earlier in May said that soaring debt levels could trigger a "systemic" financial crisis if efforts are too weak. China has since launched a series of initiatives to whittle back the bad debt sitting on bank balance sheets, including securitization and debt-for-equity swaps. Facing possible vulnerabilities, officials have adopted plans designed to settle growth at a sustainable level. Zhang Tao, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, speaking at a financial forum in Shanghai on Sunday, signaled a willingness to let zombie companies die and let the market decide which ones should be shut down. Li Pumin, spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission, pledged on Tuesday to take more steps to address excess capacity in the coal and steel sectors in an effort to spur restructuring. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

China to ban export of more dual-use goods to North Korea (SCMP)
2016-06-14
China's Ministry of Commerce released a list of goods banned for export to North Korea on Tuesday, saying the items could be used to build weapons of mass destruction. The list of dual-use goods, or products that have both civilian and military use, comes after the United Nations nuclear watchdog said North Korea appeared to have reopened a plant to produce plutonium from spent fuel of a reactor central to its banned atomic weapons drive. The ministry said on its website that the list was meant to comply with the requirements of a round of UN sanctions imposed in March in response to a North Korean nuclear test in January. The new list adds to a much longer Chinese list of banned goods released in 2013 after the North carried out its third nuclear test that year. Analysts said at the time the 2013 list was a positive sign that China was working to implement UN sanctions targeting the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. The new list names dozens of banned items including magnetic materials, high-strength metals, chemical fibers, and laser-welding equipment. It also lists about a dozen chemicals that could be used in producing “chemical warfare agents”. The banned goods could be used in nuclear, biological or chemical weapons development, the ministry said. But China has declined in the past to give a full list of items banned for export to North Korea, which UN monitors have said makes it difficult to assess how strictly China is implementing sanctions. China remains North Korea's largest trading partner and sole major ally. Chinese analysts have regularly expressed concern that North Korea could collapse in chaos if Beijing's policies become too harsh. Reclusive North Korea rattled nerves this year by carrying out a fourth nuclear test in January and a satellite launch in February. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

ASEM Consultative meeting on food security approaching (Montsame)
2016-06-16
One of the side events of the forthcoming 11th ASEM Summit, a consultative meeting on food security will be held on June 20-21 in Ulaanbaatar. A press conference on the consultative meeting's preparations and agenda was called at the MONTSAME agency's info-center by M.Tsengeg, director of the MFA Department of European and American Affairs; and B.Binderiya, head of the External Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The consultative meeting will be attended by representatives from public and non-governmental organizations engaged in the agricultural industry of 17 countries, Embassies and Consulates in Mongolia, and 11 international organizations including the European Union (EU) that are implementing projects and programs on agriculture and food. To be held under three main topics--the food supply in Asian and European regions; trade, transportation and logistics of foods; and climate change impact on food safety, the meeting is set to contribute to improving food supply in ASEM members by accelerating food production, promoting the public-private-partnership (PPP) and regulating effectively the national and regional policy on foods. The consultative meeting will be resulted in releasing recommendations and conclusion that are to be summed up and presented at a pertinent debate of the 11th ASEM Summit scheduled on July 15-16 in Ulaanbaatar. ^ top ^

240 international observers to work during parliamentary elections (Montsame)
2016-06-16
Next parliamentary elections are due on June 29. Four countries, along with Konrad-Adenauer Foundation, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and Asian Network for Free Elections have submitted their requests to appoint more than 240 observers during elections and obtained the accreditations from the National Election Committee of Mongolia. Among them is an OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) team of more than 180 observers from over 20 countries. These observers, coming from USA, Austria, Germany, Italy, Iceland, Canada, Russia, South Korea, Romania, Finland and France, will make short- and long-term observations throughout all election processes, from preparations to election results. ^ top ^

3rd int'l conference begins on UB Dialogue on Security in Northeast Asia (Montsame)
2016-06-16
The 3rd international conference on Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Security in Northeast Asia was launched in Ulaanbaatar by the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Institute of Strategy Studies at the National Security Council (NSC). The two-day conference brought together some 150 people including scholars and researchers from Russia, China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, India, USA, Germany, Great Britain, France and Australia, the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Mongolian nongovernment organizations and private institutions. They are addressing issues on the present state of Northeast Asian security, challeengs, approaches to building the mutual understanding and trust in regional countries and promoting the economic cooperation in Northeast Asia, and sharing experiences in environmental protection in the region and disaster management. Topics regarding the regional security, present economic situation, tendency and environmental sector, is covered in reports by Choi Kan Il, the section head of the Institute of American Studies at the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Lee San Hyong, deputy director of the Sejong Institute of South Korea; Jenny Town, the Assistant Director of the US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS); Elena Boekova, a chief researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences; and other scholars. ^ top ^

President partakes in Mongolia-Myanmar business forum (Montsame)
2016-06-16
In frames of his working visit to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj took part in the Mongolia-Myanmar business forum on June 15. He expressed in the opening remarks his satisfaction with the activated development of bilateral relations and intensified interaction between businesses in the recent years. The president noted that there is abundance of opportunities for Mongolia and Myanmar to collectively strive for growth and to exchange practices, given many similarities in history, culture and natural resources. Mongolia will always be open to share its experiences and lessons of developing democracy and human rights and improving rule of law and justice, he said. President Ts.Elbegdorj mentioned about the Law on Future Generation /Sovereign Wealth Fund, with a purpose to save the share of mining revenue for the next generations, the importance of exporting value-added final products and privatization of properties. Underlining the development of industry and animal husbandry, he said that cooperation of the two countries in these sectors are crucial. Also, he added that a favorable environment has been established for the two nations to develop tourism cooperation. The President concluded his speech by wishing success in the further works of the business forum organizers and participants. After this, President Ts.Elbegdorj legged the National Museum of Myanmar in Naypyidaw, and signed the honored guest book. ^ top ^

UB City favors cooperation with Germany on waste treatment (Montsame)
2016-06-15
Deputy mayor of Ulaanbaatar in charge of green development T.Bat-Erdene and the general manager of the capital city B.Badral are paying a visit to Germany, upon support of the Nexus Project on Integrated Resource Management in Asian Cities. On the sidelines of their visit, they were presented with latest technologies of hard waste recycling and waste water treatment on IFAT 2016 annual fair. T.Bat-Erdene and B.Badral got au fait with the operations of mini water treatment facility of Germany's Bergmann Company, sanitary pumping vacuum technology of Bilfinger and technology for processing waste clay by Ultrawaves, and discussed about possible cooperation with the management of these high-tech companies. ^ top ^

President Ts.Elbegdorj arrives in Myanmar (Montsame)
2016-06-15
President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj arrived Wednesday morning in Naypyidaw city for a working visit to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. At the Naypyidaw's international airport, the President was welcomed by T.Togsbilguun, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Myanmar; Ohn Win, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation; Aung Lynn, the Permanent Secretary of the Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs; KoKo Naing, the director-general of the Foreign Ministry Division of Protocol; and Kyaw Zeya, the director of the Foreign Ministry's Political Division. During the visit which is hosted in frames of the 60th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic relations, the Mongolian President will hold official talks with his Myanmar counterpart Htin Kyaw, and will meet Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar; Kyaw Win, the Minister of Planning and Finance; Ohn Win, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation; and Kyaw Kyaw Maung, the Governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar. ^ top ^

UB Dialogue Scientific Conference on NEA Security approaching (Montsame)
2016-06-14
Strategy and Research Institute of the National Security Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia are organizing the third “Ulaanbaatar Dialogue (UBD)” scientific conference on June 16 and 17 here to bring together 150 delegates from Russia, China, USA, India, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Germany, France, Australia and Mongolia. The annual scientific conference on the events being held in the margin of the “Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Secutiry” initiative by the President Ts.Elbegdorj. At the third meeting, a series of discussions will run among the scholars and researchers on the current situation of security in the Northeast Asia, challenges, actual steps towards building regional understanding and mutual trust, and promoting the regional economic ties. The sides will be exchanging views on the environmental protection and disaster management cooperation for the first time. Having friendly relations with all countries in Northeast Asia, Mongolia is fully capable of making contributions to mastering challenges of the regional security by means of negogiations and diplomatic approaches. In consideration of this, the regional experts are committed to upgrading the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue to the level of independent conference of specialists of the region. It is intended that the representatives of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Ministries would be taking active part in the UBD scientific conferences, in order to mobilize the initiatives of scientists and researchers on the regional level. ^ top ^

Nat'l consumer price index increasing (Montsame)
2016-06-14
In May 2016, the national consumer price index (CPI) increased by 0.1% compared to the previous month, by 3.3% from end of 2015 and by 1.8% against the previous year. The annual increase of 1.8% was mainly due to increases of 1.3 percentage points (69.8%) in education and 0.5 percentage points (26.3 percent) in clothing, footwear and cloth. The CPI increase of 3.3 against end of 2015 was mainly caused by an increase of 14.0% in foods, drinks and water prices. In May of 2016, the CPI declined by 0.1-1.5% in Orkhon, Uvs, Darkhan-Uul, Sukhbaatar, Gobi-Altai and Khovsgol aimags against April, and it was stable in Khentii and Ovorkhangai aimags. CPI went up by 0.1-1.1% in other 13 aimags in the period. In the capital city, the CPI increased by 0.1% against April 2016, by 3.2% against end of 2015, and by 1.8% against the same period of the previous year. Prices of 8.2% of 329 kinds of goods in the consumer basket increased in May 2016 against April, prices of 4.6%--declined and prices of 87.3%--were stable.  ^ top ^

External trade turnover declining (Montsame)
2016-06-14
In the first five months of this year, external trade turnover reached USD 2,946.7 million after the trade performed with 123 countries, of which USD 1,774.6 was made up by exports, while USD 1,172.0 million by imports. Total external trade turnover decreased by USD 369.7 million or 11.1%. Exports decreased by USD 94.7 million or 5.1%, while imports--by USD 275.0 million or 19.0% compared to same period of the previous year. External trade balance had a surplus of USD 422.3 million in the first five months of 2015, and it was USD 602.6 million in the first five months of this year. Exports of mineral products, precious, semi-precious stones and metals amounted to 86.2% of the total export, while imports of mineral products, machines, tools, electric facilities, vehicles and their spare parts--51.9% of the total import. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-06-13
The cabinet meeting tasked Monday the Defense Minister and the Finance Minister to allocate a sum of MNT 5 billion in the 2016 budget adjustment for covering pensions of servicemen who retired between 2013 and 2016 and to give single-benefit allowance for military officers and servicemen. - The cabinet reviewed a draft intergovernmental agreement between Mongolia and Laos on utilizing lands and buildings for the diplomatic missions in both countries. An ordinance of the Prime Minister will be issued to authorize L.Galbadrakh, the Ambassador of Mongolia to Laos, to sign the intergovernmental agreement. - The cabinet decided to submit to parliament draft amendments to the 108th parliamentary resolution of 2015 on some actions following up the 2016 budget law adoption with an aim to implement the 2012-2016 governmental action program. - The Minister of Finance B.Bolor was authorized to allot funds from the governmental reserve to organize an international conference on Security in Northeast Asia as well as the “Energy Network of Northeast Asian Countries' Experts” international workshop which will be held in this year in frames of the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue initiative. ^ top ^

Cabinet approves draft Mongolia-Russia-China transport agreement (Montsame)
2016-06-13
Draft intergovernmental agreement on “Performing International Transports through Asian Road Network” between Governments of Mongolia, Russian Federation and People's Republic of China was backed by Cabinet this Monday. The draft is subjected to consent by the corresponding standing committee of the State Great Khural (Parliament). The agreement sets out a package of required legal regulations for supporting the development of trade and transport of neighboring and other third countries, alleviating trade and transport, ensuring coordination between transportation types, promoting cooperation in transport, and full obersvance of standards and recommendations of related international institutions in collaborative manners and under common regulations. Once signed, the agreement will open a new exit for Mongolian transport to reach the third and the global markets. ^ top ^

OSCE concludes anti-corruption needs assessment mission in Mongolia (Montsame)
2016-06-13
A three-day national anti-corruption needs assessment mission conducted by the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, upon invitation of Mongolia's Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC), concluded was concluded on June 10 in Ulaanbaatar, the OSCE website published. In the scope of the visit some 30 officials representing the IAAC, the Prosecutor General's Office, the Department Against Economic Crimes of the National Police Authority, Transparency International Mongolia, the Mongolian Business Council, the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the World Bank residence office discussed the country's legal, regulatory and institutional anti-corruption infrastructure and identified recommendations for improvement and potential follow-up activities. “While corruption remains among key challenges for Mongolia, we are impressed with the quality and determination of the IAAC leadership and staff to retain its independent status, design and implement efficient policies to prevent and combat corruption in all its forms,” said Andrei Muntean, Senior Economic Officer at the OSCE Secretariat. Acting Director General of the IAAC, Tseesuren Nyamdorj, added: “The IAAC works systematically towards implementing Mongolia's adopted anti-corruption legislation. We stand ready to launch our co-operation with the OSCE and implement joint activities that were agreed upon during this mission as we expect them to enhance our capacities.” The mission concluded with a multi-stakeholder OSCE-led round table discussion focusing on improving and strengthening the mandate and independence of the IAAC, the role of the judiciary, effectiveness of law enforcement authorities and the engagements of civil society and the private sector. Thematic exchanges revealed the need to better regulate political party financing, strengthen the capacity of relevant authorities to collect, assess and investigate assets and income disclosure of public officials, better regulate public procurement processes and strengthen anti-money laundering and stolen asset recovery efforts. Key messages of the recently published OSCE Handbook on Combating Corruption were also presented to the audience. This national scoping mission is one in a series of such missions to 8 participating States conducted by the OCEEA since January 2016. These missions offer a platform to engage in open and productive dialogue with relevant authorities on issues of their concern in the area of good governance aiming the design of the OSCE-led capacity building activities. ^ top ^

President Ts.Elbegdorj to visit Myanmar (Montsame)
2016-06-13
President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj will pay a working visit to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar on June 14-16 in frames of the 60th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic relations.
During his visit, the Mongolian President will hold official talks with his Myanmar counterpart Htin Kyaw, and will meet Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar; Kyaw Win, the Minister of Planning and Finance; Ohn Win, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation; and Kyaw Kyaw Maung, the Governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar. A workshop entitled “Management of effective exploitation of natural resources-2” and a Mongolia-Myanmar business meeting will be organized during the visit. The upcoming business meeting is important for studying business and investment environment in both countries, connecting business people between the countries and opening a new market for Mongolian businessmen. The sides will exchange views on stimulating the Mongolia-Myanmar friendly relations and cooperation, consolidating political trust and ties between public organizations, developing bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, mining and other sectors as well as bilateral and international cooperation issues. ^ top ^

Foreign Minister meets UN Under Secretary-General (Montsame)
2016-06-10
Foreign Minister of Mongolia L.Purevsuren held Friday a meeting with visiting Shamshad Akhtar, Under-Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Secretary of UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific. At the meeting, the Foreign Minister thanked the Executive Secretary for coming to Mongolia to attend the ASEM Finance Ministers' Meeting, and noted that the outcome of the Meeting is to contribute to the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda. L.Purevsuren expressed his gratitude for the enduring support and cooperation UN ESCAP devotes to Mongolia in achieving socio-economic development, especially infrastructure development and promoting the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries. The Foreign Minister underlined importance of the Executive Secretary's visit to Mongolia, as this year marks the 55th Anniversary of Mongolia's membership to UN. Moreover, they exchanged views on further cooperation in accomplishing sustainable development goals, as well as regional and North East Asia subregional joint projects and programs in the areas of energy, science and technology. ^ 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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