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
  27.6-1.7.16, No. 629  
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Foreign Policy

Italian police, Chinese workers clash in Florence (Global Times)
2016-07-01
Clashes broke out Wednesday between Italian police and Chinese nationals during a health inspection at a textile factory in Florence, Italy, the Consulate-General of China in Florence confirmed to the Global Times Thursday. Police arrested two Chinese factory workers. A total seven were injured in the clashes, including three Chinese workers and four law officers, La Repubblica reported. The report said that during a routine inspection to the factory, police officers encountered uncooperative overseas Chinese, and clashed with an elderly man carrying a baby, which angered the Chinese and led to a standoff. Video published on the paper's website showed hundreds of Chinese nationals gathering and shouting "protest the use of violence." But the video showed the crowd throwing stones, cans, bottles and other objects at riot police. Members of the Chinese community said that the baby's grandfather was trying to leave the factory with the baby but was stopped. When asked for his ID, he became aggressive and a physical altercation occurred, the paper reported. The Consulate-General said they immediately contacted the Italian police and the local Chinese community, urging the police to be civilized in law enforcement to protect the Chinese nationals' legitimate rights and interests, and to quickly settle the incident. The Consulate-General said the clashes happened Wednesday afternoon (local time), when Italian police inspected a factory in Florence's Sesto Fiorentino district, adding that the conflict ended after 7 pm. However, some people began to gather at the factory at 8:30 pm, but were dispersed by local police. Further investigation is underway, according to the Consulate-General. ^ top ^

China risks 'outlaw' status if it rejects South China Sea ruling, says chief lawyer (SCMP)
2016-06-30
An international ruling next month is expected to deprive China of any legal basis for its claim to most of the South China Sea, and Beijing risks being seen as an “outlaw state” unless it respects the outcome, the Philippines' chief lawyer in the case said on Wednesday. In an interview with Reuters, veteran Washington attorney Paul Reichler expressed confidence that the Permanent Court of Arbitration, based in The Hague, would rule in Manila's favour on July 12 in a highly charged case against Beijing, which rejects the tribunal's jurisdiction and says it will ignore the ruling. The Philippines, a close USally, is contesting China's historical claim to about 90 per cent of the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. Several Southeast Asian states have overlapping claims in the sea, and the dispute has sparked concerns of a military confrontation that could disrupt global trade. Reichler, who heads Manila's legal team in the 3-1/2-year-old case, said he was not privy to the ruling and did not expect to be informed until the last minute. But he had little doubt that Manila would win the legal argument, matching the consensus in Washington and most major foreign capitals. “We are confident we will have success on the merits,” said Reichler, who called the case potentially one of the most far-reaching to be decided by the court. He spoke just hours after the court announced the date for its ruling. China bases its South China Sea claim on a “Nine Dash line” stretching deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia and covering hundreds of disputed islands and reefs, rich fishing grounds and oil and gas deposits. Reichler said a ruling against Beijing “would deprive China of any legal basis for making such a claim.” Manila argues that China's claim violates the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and restricts its rights to exploit resources and fishing areas within its exclusive economic zone. On Wednesday, China said Manila's approach flouted international law and Beijing would not accept any third-party decision on the issue. Reichler said for China to reject the ruling meant it had “essentially declared themselves an outlaw state” that did not respect the rule of law. Reichler is an international lawyer with a reputation for representing small countries against big powers, including a 1980s case by Nicaragua that accused the United States of funding right-wing Contra rebels against a left-wing government. Amid rising tensions in the South China Sea, Reichler said “nobody wants or should even contemplate the use of force.” He predicted China would face pressure to abide by the ruling from other rival claimants, including Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. “It may be that in time... the Chinese will come to realise that they have more to lose than to gain from creating a chaotic, lawless situation,” he said. China has accused the United States of “hyping” the dispute and has warned that complaints would snap back on its critics. But it has largely avoided specific threats of how it might respond to the ruling. US officials are worried China may declare an air defense identification zone in the South China Sea, as it did in the East China Sea in 2013, and by stepping up its building and fortification of artificial islands. They say the US response to such moves could include accelerated “freedom-of-navigation” patrols by US warships and overflights by US aircraft as well as increased defence aid to regional countries. ^ top ^

Erdogan says to meet Putin at G20 summit in China (Xinhua)
2016-06-30
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China, local NTV reported Thursday. The remarks came one day after a telephone conversation between the two leaders. "We have held a helpful discussion over the telephone," Erdogan said late Wednesday during an iftar dinner at the presidential complex in Ankara. He added that two leaders decided to hold more comprehensive negotiations on the sidelines of the forthcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou, China in September. As a first step, Turkey and Russia will take measures on the tourism area, Erdogan said. Erdogan and Putin voiced their determination to revive mutual relationship and fight terrorism over the telephone Wednesday. Both emphasized the importance of normalizing relations, according to a statement issued by the Turkish Presidency after the telephone conversation. Relations between Ankara and Moscow soured after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet on Nov. 24, 2015, over alleged airspace violations, prompting a series of sanctions from the Russian side. ^ top ^

China, Saudi Arabia vow to enhance economic cooperation (Global Times)
2016-06-30
Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli met with newly-appointed Saudi Arabian Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid al-Falih in Beijing on Thursday, pledging to further enhance bilateral economic cooperation. Calling Saudi Arabia a "major partner" in the Gulf and Middle East, Zhang said China is willing to maintain the sound momentum of high-level exchanges and better synergize the Belt and Road Initiative with Saudi Arabia's Economic Vision 2030. President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Saudi Arabia in January, reaching consensus on various issues with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. During that visit, the two countries announced a comprehensive strategic partnership and set up a high-level committee to guide and coordinate cooperation. Zhang said China is ready to work with Saudi Arabia to prepare for the first meeting of high-level committee, and boost coordination in international and regional affairs. Al-Falih, who was here to attend the G20 Energy Ministerial Meeting on Wednesday in Beijing, said Saudi Arabia is implementing the consensus reached between the two leaders. He said his country is preparing for the first meeting of the high-level committee, vowing to further deepen ties in areas including energy and investment. Also on Thursday, State Councilor Yang Jiechi met with Al-Falih, calling on both sides to strengthen cooperation on energy, capacity production, infrastructure construction and the hi-tech sector. Al-Falih was named energy minister in early May as part of a cabinet reshuffle to meet the requirements of the oil-rich kingdom's economic vision. ^ top ^

Chinese WWII slave workers reject Mitsubishi Materials settlement deal (Xinhua)
2016-06-30
Sixty-three people who were forced into labor during World War II and their representatives filed a lawsuit in Beijing Wednesday, rejecting Mitsubishi Materials' settlement deal. The victims, including 48 new plaintiffs from Shanghai Municipality and Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Liaoning, Jilin provinces and 15 who filed the same lawsuit in 2014, demanded a proper apology and compensation from Mitsubishi Materials on Wednesday at Beijing First Intermediate People's Court. "We refuse to accept the Japanese company's reconciliation deal," said 91-year-old Liu Shili, who was forced to work for a year at a coal mine operated by Mitsubishi Mining Corp., as Mitsubishi Materials was known at the time. "We will use the law to hold the Japanese accountable for their wartime crimes and fight for our rights." Most of the forced laborers have already passed but their families fight on in their memory. "The settlement deal is unfair to my late father and thousands of other victims like him," said Pan Ying, whose father Pan Jingxiu had been suing the Japanese company for 20 years. Mitsubishi Materials Corp. was one of dozens of Japanese companies that forced Chinese to work during World War II. Earlier this month, the company offered 100,000 yuan (15,000 U.S. dollars) to each of the Chinese victims and their families. The deal was signed in Beijing with three former workers representing the company's more than 3,000 Chinese victims of forced labor. Pan said the settlement was unacceptable. "We demand real compensation, and will carry on our battle with the support of our country and our legal aid team." Around 40,000 Chinese were forced to work in Japan during the war. Of these slave workers, nearly 7,000 died in Japan. Only nine have survived until today. Thirty-five Japanese companies are believed to have been involved in forced labor from 1937 to 1945, when Japan invaded China. ^ top ^

Obama's anti-hacking deal with Xi is reducing Chinese incursions, US official says (SCMP)
2016-06-29
US President Barack Obama's agreement with China over cyber espionage seems to be making a dent in hacking attacks from the country, according to a top Justice Department official. Government agencies and cybersecurity companies are actively assessing Chinese hacking attacks, and “it seems like generally people have seen a change in activity,” Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, who oversees the Justice Department's national security division, said on Tuesday. “There's a debate as to how long-lasting that might be, but there has been a change,” Carlin said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. In September, China's President Xi Jinping and Obama reached an agreement pledging that they wouldn't condone hacking to steal commercial secrets. Carlin cited a report this month from FireEye Inc that showed attacks from known Chinese hacking groups with a connection to state interests have dropped more than 80 per cent since August. Current cyber threats are “blended”, with hackers who might act on behalf of a group but also for their own profit, Carlin said. There also hackers with links to a state but not carrying out “a state action,” he said. “Be it in Russia or China or other countries,” Carlin said, someone who has access to hacking tools for their daily work can “use those tools corruptly during nighttime hours to do a hack.” That has raised questions about whether China is effectively farming out hacking to harder-to-track contractors who provide a level of deniability to the government, according to people involved in the investigation of incidents involving China. US investigators have improved on their ability to attribute the identities of hackers, but finding out their motives will be a “growing challenge,” Carlin said. The government still needs to work on better sharing cybersecurity threats with the private sector and vice versa, Carlin said. “There's still a mentality of 'blame the victim' when it comes to a hack,” Carlin said. “Internally, companies wrestle with, 'How much damage am I going to do to my shareholders or stock price if I come forward, because then I have this public humiliation of having been a victim.'” ^ top ^

Law-abusing tribunal to issue award on South China Sea arbitration (Xinhua)
2016-06-29
An arbitral tribunal with widely contested jurisdiction will issue an award on July 12 on the South China Sea case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague said on Wednesday. "The Tribunal will issue its Award on Tuesday, 12 July 2016 at approximately 11 A.M.," the PCA, acting as the registry of the tribunal, said in a press release. "The Award will first be issued via e-mail to the Parties, along with an accompanying Press Release containing a summary of the Award," it said. China has refused to participate in the proceedings and declared that it will never recognize the verdict, stressing that the tribunal has no jurisdiction because the case is in essence related to territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation. Beijing has pointed out that territorial issues are not subject to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and that as early as in 2006 it declared -- in line with UNCLOS -- to exclude disputes concerning maritime delimitation from mandatory dispute-settlement procedures. Some 30 countries have also filed declarations of this kind. After the PCA set date for the issuance of the final award, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case and the relevant subject-matter, and that it should not have heard the case or rendered the award. "The Philippines' unilateral initiation of arbitration breaches international law," he said late Wednesday. "With regard to territorial issues and maritime delimitation disputes, China does not accept any means of third party dispute settlement or any solution imposed on China," he stressed. The government of outgoing Philippine President Benigno Aquino III filed the arbitration against China in 2013, despite the agreement his country had reached with China on resolving their South China Sea disputes through bilateral negotiations. Although Manila asserted that its submissions do not concern territorial sovereignty or maritime delimitation, the Philippine Foreign Ministry, a day after launching the arbitration, described the purpose of the case as to "protect our country's territory and oceanic area" and vowed not to "give up our country's sovereignty." The tribunal failed to see that the Philippines' self-defeating claims were in fact over sovereignty, Michael Sheng-ti Gau, a professor of international law from China's Taiwan, said Sunday at a seminar in The Hague. "The court should deal with the real issues of admissibility and jurisdiction existing in all the claims of the Philippines," he added. Also speaking at the event, Abraham Sofaer, a former legal adviser to the U.S. State Department, said the tribunal's ruling "will broadly undermine the potential utility of international adjudication." "The real-world consequences of the Philippine case have already been seriously adverse to the interests of all parties, and are likely to get even worse," said the international law expert, who also served as a U.S. federal judge. Meanwhile, Beijing, whose stance on the arbitration case has drawn support from dozens of countries and international organizations, insists that the South China Sea issue should be resolved through negotiations and consultations between the directly involved parties. Noting that whatever the verdict might be, it would not help ease tensions in the disputed waters, Pemmaraju Sreenivasa Rao, a former chairman of the UN International Law Commission, said at the seminar that peaceful negotiation is the best solution. "Negotiation is the only best method for this kind of disputes, particularly with so many difficult features coming from a long background and history," added Rao, a participant in the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea from 1973 to 1982, which led to the adoption of UNCLOS. Many in the Philippines share this view. Earlier this month, Rosario Manalo, a former Philippine foreign affairs under-secretary for international economic relations, said the best thing for both the Philippines and China is to "sit down and talk." ^ top ^

Top Chinese envoy visits Vietnam as tension looms before South China Sea court ruling (SCMP)
2016-06-27
China's top diplomat arrived in Vietnam on Monday for a scheduled meeting to strengthen historically close relations, at a time when ties are strained by squabbles over the South China Sea. The trip by State Councillor Yang Jiechi, who outranks the foreign minister, comes amid a Chinese public relations blitz to try to discredit a looming verdict by an international tribunal that could aggravate tensions if it undermines Beijing's vast claims to waters extending far into Southeast Asia. Yang was due to co-chair a “steering committee” that aims to strengthen ties and ward-off disputes. He will make courtesy calls on the Vietnamese leadership later on Monday. “We're glad to realise that the two nations' relationship over time continues its positive development, despite some existing problems that need to be solved,” Vietnam's Foreign Minister and deputy premier Pham Binh Minh said after greeting Yang. China has said at least 47 countries have offered support for its refusal to recognise a high-profile case brought by the Philippines in 2013 to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. A senior US official last week voiced scepticism about that claim. Chinese diplomats have written editorials in regional newspapers denouncing the Philippine case, which seeks clarification of parts of United Nations maritime law and is seen as a bold challenge, with scope for repercussions. Experts say it is unlikely Yang would seek a sympathetic ear from Vietnam, which has trust issues with China and has recently grown closer to the Philippines. Though Vietnam is not part of the Hague case, it stands to benefit from a positive ruling for Manila and has echoed its opposition to China's fortification of artificial islands, the conduct of its coastguard and perceived intrusions into Vietnam's exclusive economic zone. China, Vietnam vow to boost military ties amid strained relations over South China Sea( Ha Hoang Hop, a Vietnamese academic who has advised the government, said there was “no hidden agenda” behind Yang's visit and there were no compromises to be made over the South China Sea. Vietnam backs latest US challenge to Beijing's sovereignty in South China Sea, say analysts The Hague ruling is expected in the coming months and there are concerns in the US about how China could react should the verdict not work in its favour. China and the US have accused each other of trying to militarise a shipping route vital to the stability of the global economy. ^ top ^

China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin slam US missile shields (SCMP)
2016-06-27
China and Russia criticised the United States and its ­allies for “unilateral deployment of anti-missile systems all over the world” and vowed a joint effort to strengthen global strategic ­stability. The two countries issued several joint statements, ranging from international laws to cybersecurity, on Saturday, following Russian President Vladimir ­Putin's state visit to China. Both sides voiced concern over increasing “negative factors” affecting global stability. “Some countries and military-political alliances seek decisive advantages in military... technology, so as to serve their own interests through use of or threatening the use of force in international affairs,” President Xi Jinping and Putin said in a joint statement. They said this had resulted in a build up of military power that was out of control and had shaken global stability. They called on countries to refrain from moves that might be seen by other states as threats to their national security and force them to take countermeasures such as military buildups, or establishing and expanding military-political alliances, to restore the balance. They also called on nations to strictly abide by the norms of international law. They criticised the deployment of anti-missile systems in Europe and Asia as being done under false pretences. They specifically opposed the deployment of the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defence system in Europe and the possible deployment of the Terminal High ­Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) in northeast Asia, which they said ­severely infringed upon the strategic security interests of countries in the region. “[The deployment of ­anti-missile systems] is non-constructive and has negatively ­affected the global and regional strategic balance, stability and security,” Xinhua cited the statement as saying. The US claims THAAD is ­intended only to target and intercept North Korea missiles. Yue Gang, a retired colonel, said the statements signalled the countries' ambition in boosting their positions in the world order. “China used to play the supporting role in cooperation with the US… It is now joining hands with Russia in playing a more ­important role in global governance,” he said. Putin's visit has brought more than 30 trade deals in areas such as energy, infrastructure, technology and innovation. The deals involve the sale of stakes in Russian projects to Chinese firms, an oil supply contract and joint investments in petrochemical projects in Russia. Rosneft, Russia's top oil ­producer, agreed with China ­National Chemical Corporation that ChemChina would take a 40 per cent stake in Rosneft's planned petrochemical complex VNHK in the far east of Russia. Ian Ivory, a China-Russia observer, said the nature of the two countries' trade ties was largely politically driven. “For China this means a continued projection of its soft-power and influence into Russia and Central Asia, in alignment with its overall [One Belt, One Road] strategy,” he said. “For Russia, this means badly needed investment and cross-border trading activity to alleviate some of the pain felt from Western sanctions and the sharp drop in the oil price.” ^ top ^

China says AIIB will have better understanding of developing world's needs than other international development banks (SCMP)
2016-06-26
The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will be different from institutions like the World Bank because it has a greater understanding of the developing world's needs, officials said on Sunday at its first annual meeting. President Xi Jinping proposed the bank two years ago and it began operations in January, with 57 founding member countries and US$100 billion in committed capital, which it plans to invest in projects across the region. China-led AIIB ready to help soothe Brexit stresses The AIIB, which intends to invest US$1.2 billion this year, has said it is aiming to meet international standards of governance, although some members say there is still work to be done. Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said on the final day of the bank's inaugural annual meeting that the AIIB needed to find its niche. “The AIIB needs to establish its comparative advantage relative to existing multilateral development banks like the World Bank,” Lou said. “Compared with the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and other multilateral development banks, the AIIB's advantage lies in its keener understanding of the successful experience and lessons of developing countries' years of development.” EU lender vows no compromise on joint projects with China-led bank The AIIB's board approved its first four deals worth US$509 million on Friday, with three projects co-financed with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the United Kingdom Department for International Development and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The co-financed projects are a slum renovation in Indonesia and highway construction in Pakistan and Tajikistan. A power grid upgrade project in Bangladesh will be solely AIIB financed. AIIB President Jin Liqun said it was the focus on infrastructure that specifically marked out the bank as different and that they were committed to the concept of international best practice. “The question is, how do you define international best practice? I will not agree to anything which could be considered international best practice unless this kind best practice incorporates the development experience of China and many countries in Asia and elsewhere over the last three or four decades,” Jin said. AIIB and World Bank reach deal on joint projects, as China-led lender prepares to approve US$1.2 billion of funds this year “So our bank would like to have the development experience, the so-called international best practice, reflecting the experience of China, India [and] so many countries in Asia. So we should have a different model of development.” The AIIB is also looking to expand its numbers this year and will take applications for new members through to the end of September. ^ top ^

China-led AIIB ready to help soothe Brexit stresses (SCMP)
2016-06-26
The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank can join forces with its international peers to help smooth out any ­volatility and uncertainties following Britain's decision to leave the European Union, a top official said on Saturday. Yoo Il-ho, South Korea's ­Finance Minister and a member of AIIB's board of governors, said at the opening ceremony of the first annual meeting of the board of governors in Beijing on Saturday that financial markets had reacted “with shock” to Britain's decision. “It is a blow to those who believe in global integration” and “the global financial market is facing greater uncertainty and volatility”, Yoo said. But the bank “can help with the new situation”, he said. Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, said on Friday at the International Monetary Fund in Washington: “This is a quite a critical time point because all economists and financial sectors are paying attention to the Brexit, so you need a lot of study, and also global cooperation to deal with the potential impact.” “The People's Bank of China has been closely monitoring the development of Britain's referendum and trying our best to have a good preparation,” he said, speaking in English. “We especially emphasised enhancing the coordination…with the International Monetary Fund and relevant central banks and other authorities, to safeguard the financial market stability and global economy.” Separately, AIIB president Jin Liqun said Britain's decision would not affect its status as a member of the bank. A senior executive of another multinational development bank at the meeting told the Sunday Morning Post that Brexit had become a hot topic. “Everyone is discussing Brexit here. It will have long-term impact on the overall financing system,” the executive said. Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli also called on the lender to form closer partnerships with existing multinational development banks, such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. But Yoo said the AIIB needed to improve its organisation and refine polices if it wanted to seek such closer ties. “The roles of management and the board should be more clearly defined based on the bank's Articles of Agreement,” ­Yoo said. The bank needed to demonstrate best practice and “put in place a strong operating platform and policies governing the institution”, he said. Finance Minister Lou Jiwei, who is chairman of ­AIIB's board of governors, said the bank would start procedures to accept new members soon after the annual meeting, and he hoped that they would be able to officially join early next year. So far there are 24 potential applicants to join the bank's existing 57 members, including Hong Kong and Canada. The AIIB also announced that its board of directors on Friday had approved its first four funding projects, worth a total of US$509 million, in power, transport and urban ­investment in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Tajikistan. Three of the projects are to be jointly funded by other multilateral development banks – the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. AIIB will take the lead only in the Bangladesh project to upgrade a power distribution system with a loan of US$165 million. Jin said the bank aimed to “play the role of a catalyst” to mobilise private financing to ease spending pressure of the sovereign governments in infrastructure development. He said the directors had also approved a special fund to support members with project preparations. The fund will start its operations this autumn, with China as the first donor of US$50 million. “Our financial position is robust and will be increasingly stronger,” Jin said. “We expect to bring additional projects to the board in the second half of the year and are working on the pipeline for 2017,” he said in his report to the board after the opening ceremony. The bank is targeting a total of US$1.2 billion of infrastructure projects this year. ^ top ^

China, UN work on building peacekeeping standby force (Xinhua)
2016-06-25
China and the United Nations have started working further towards establishing a Chinese peacekeeping standby force, the Military Staff Committee of the Chinese Mission to the UN told Xinhua on Friday. To follow through on China's pledge to establish a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops, a working group from the Peacekeeping Office of China's Defense Ministry paid a visit to the UN headquarters from June 20-24, according to a statement made by the committee. UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operation Herve Ladsous and UN Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare met the working group respectively, according to the committee. Speaking highly of China's contributions to UN peacekeeping, Ladsous and Khare said the well-equipped Chinese peacekeeping troops are a reliable force in UN peacekeeping operations and they look forward to a greater role played by China in UN peacekeeping, said the statement. They also expressed their condolences to the Chinese peacekeeper who died in a recent attack against UN peacekeeping mission in Mali and also to those injured in the attack, it added. UN statistics show that China has currently deployed more than 3,000 peacekeepers to UN peacekeeping missions worldwide and is the largest troop contributor among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. China is also the second largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Corruption fight set to headline Chinese president's Communist Party anniversary address (SCMP)
2016-07-01
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to underscore his resolve to fight rampant corruption in a speech on Friday morning marking the Communist Party's 95th anniversary, according to mainland observers. In response to public discontent over a slew of economic, social and environmental woes, Xi is also expected to stress the need for his hallmark “supply-side reforms” in another bid to rally support for structural changes in the country's sluggish economy. Despite much-touted achievements in Xi's sweeping crackdown on corrupt officials, which snared a long list of high-ranking “tigers” and lowly “flies”, Xi and his top anti-graft aide Wang Qishan have admitted that there is little room for complacency, given the scale of corruption within the party. Analysts warned that the party's legitimacy was hanging on the success of the anti-graft drive, which Xi launched after taking office in late 2012. “The party has reached a point where its legitimacy and more importantly, its very existence are at stake,” said Professor Wang Yukai, from the Chinese Academy of Governance. Both Wang and academy colleague Professor Zhu Lijia, said the party was grappling with a more complex and challenging global and domestic environment compared with four years ago. “The world has changed a lot since Xi took office,” Zhu said, adding that the uphill battle to rein in corruption and cope with China's slowing growth, compounded by growing international scepticism over the country's rising clout, posed greater risks to the party's rule. “That's why the party has rolled out one education campaign after another in a bid to seek unity among the more than 87 million party members and rally public support,” Zhu said. As with previous years, Beijing has unleashed a propaganda blitz ahead of the party's anniversary. State media have published numerous articles over the past few weeks, bragging about the party's achievements over the past nine decades and its ability to escape the dynastic cycle of rise and fall repeated throughout the ages. Citing Singapore as an example, party mouthpiece People's Daily insisted in an article this week that the single-party system was fully equipped to tackle corruption and build a clean government. But analysts doubt the effectiveness of such top-down media campaigns. Legitimacy is the underlying theme of this year's commemorations, analysts say, but it is a politically sensitive word and Xi may not utter it his speech. That's despite Wang Qishan, head of the party's anti-graft watchdog, breaking a long-standing taboo by openly discussing the issue last year. “The party's legitimacy arises from history and is determined by popular support. It is the people's choice,” he said. Beijing-based political analyst Zhang Lifan said Xi would try to use his speech to justify one-party rule and burnish his own achievements while tightening his grip on power in the lead-up to next year's leadership reshuffle. “Xi may want to use the propaganda machine as well as his speech to disseminate his messages to the Chinese public that the party under his rule is capable of meeting all sorts of challenges both at home and abroad,” Zhang said. “But unfortunately, such distorted media campaigns, which rarely mention the [party's] grave errors and countless man-made disasters, such as the Cultural Revolution and persistent power struggles, is too late to help ease widespread public dissatisfaction and disillusion.” Zhang also said Xi's anti-graft drive and personnel changes over the past few days were largely warning shots to his opponents against political manoeuvring ahead of the party congress. ^ top ^

Chinese police arrested over mysterious death in custody of young Beijing father (SCMP)
2016-07-01
Beijing prosecutors formally arrested a police officer and an auxiliary policeman on Thursday over the mysterious death of a young father that ignited a national outcry over alleged police brutality. The No 4 Branch of the Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate also said an autopsy showed that environmental scientist Lei Yang, 29, suffocated on his gastric fluid, countering police claims that he died of a heart attack. Lei, a graduate of prestigious Renmin University, was taken into police custody after visiting a foot massage parlour on May 7. According to police, he was arrested at about 9.15pm for allegedly soliciting prostitutes and taken to a police station in Changping district. About 50 minutes later he was rushed to a nearby hospital, showing no signs of life. Police claimed Lei resisted arrest. A prostitute also told state television that he had used her services. Mainland media cited witnesses as saying Lei was chased by plain-clothes officers and fought with them at the scene of the arrest. But Lei's family said he was at home that night until he went to the airport to pick up a relative at about 9pm. He could not be contacted after he left home. The family disputed the police account, saying the police refused to let them take photos of Lei's body, which had extensive injuries. His family and former university classmates demanded an independent autopsy. “Police officers handling the case behaved inappropriately while enforcing the law,” the prosecutor's statement said. It alleged that a deputy police chief of Changping's Dongxiao­kou police branch and another auxiliary police officer took lead roles in the “inappropriate acts”, accusing both of obstruction of justice after Lei's death. Both officers were formally arrested for suspected dereliction of duty, the prosecutor said. The death of Lei, the father of a newborn girl, prompted nationwide debate about alleged police abuses of power, piling pressure on the authorities to hold the officers who handled Lei's case ­accountable. Earlier this month, five people including the police officer, were put under investigation. ^ top ^

China's smog knocks 25 months off life expectancy: International Energy Agency (SCMP)
2016-06-30
A report by the International Energy Agency estimates severe air pollution from the energy sector has shortened life expectancy in China by an average 25 months. It estimates 97 per cent of Chinese people are exposed to ­concentrations of PM2.5 – the tiny particles most hazardous to health – that are above World Health Organisation guidelines. Every year, about one million premature deaths in the country could be linked to outdoor air pollution, according to the agency's first study on air pollution. It said household pollution – mainly from people burning organic matter to cook and using low-quality fossil fuels to heat homes – was killing 1.2 million Chinese every year. Globally, air pollution had become a major public health crisis, causing 6.5 million premature deaths each year. “This is not a mistake, it is a crime,” Fatih Birol, the agency's executive director, said in Beijing yesterday. He said the energy sector had to take greater action to curb emissions. While the government had made efforts to address pollution, the number of premature deaths could still increase due to the country's ageing population, which was more vulnerable to its effects, Birol said. Birol said the IEA had identified inexpensive strategies that could halve pollutant emissions globally. For instance, a 7 per cent increase in energy investment could help cut deaths by three million in rural areas around the world by ending the practice of burning organic matter and kerosene at home. The report estimates that by curbing pollution from industry, heavy vehicles, and home cooking – among other measures – the life expectancy of Chinese people could increase 15 months by 2040. Zou Ji, vice-director of the National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, said China needed to make clean-up efforts more cost effective. “The government has promised several trillion to clean up the air – policy makers need to make sure taxpayers' money is spent effectively,” he said. ^ top ^

Poverty funds worth $130m wasted: auditor (Global Times)
2016-06-30
More than 870 million yuan ($130.9 million) of China's poverty alleviation fund had been either left idle for more than a year or wasted, the country's top auditor said Wednesday, which experts attributed to the authorities' increasing supervision of the use of State funds and a crackdown on corruption. Auditors examined the use of poverty relief funds in 40 counties in 17 provinces, involving 5 billion yuan and 3,046 projects, Liu Jiayi, head of the National Audit Office (NAO), said while briefing lawmakers on the audit of the central government's 2015 budget, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday. Of the audited money, 843 million yuan, or 17 percent, was left unused for more than a year, including some left untouched for 15 years, according to Liu. Around 27 million yuan was wasted on 29 abandoned or unsatisfactory poverty relief projects, according to an audit report that Liu submitted to an ongoing bi-monthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for deliberation. The previous problem of the misuse of poverty relief funds has turned to wasting the budget or leaving it idle, because of stricter supervision and punishment, Ren Jianming an anti-corruption expert at Beihang University in Beijing told the Global Times on Wednesday. "Facing pressure from the ongoing anti-corruption campaign, some local governments or departments dare not put the funds into poverty relief projects because they fear being caught," Ren added. The report also said 151 million yuan had been fraudulently obtained, for instance, through falsified contracts, or used for purposes other than helping the poor. In some cases, governments failed to provide money to poor families in most need of it, the report showed. "Deliberately misusing the budget is corruption, a trade between money and power," Zhang Xixian, a professor at the Party School of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, told the Global Times, adding that in many cases, the more undeveloped a region is, the more corruption exists, because the execution and supervision system is poorly regulated. "More targeted identification of poor households and poverty relief under open and democrat supervision are also necessary to avoid the problems found in the audit," Zhang said. The audit report said that the management of the "three public consumptions" and conference expenses in some departments is poorly regulated. The budgets and expenditure of all government bodies at or above the county level for receptions, vehicles and overseas trips, are known as "the three public consumptions." China's State Council has required provincial-level governments to disclose information on "the three public consumptions" since 2013. The audit report said the General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Education had abused the three public consumptions, according to the NAO's official website. "Abusing, wasting and embezzling public funds usually involves big amounts of money, and would lead to public outcry," Zhang noted. According to the audit report last year, the three public consumptions have been declining in the past years. "The State Council is managing the reduction in the public consumptions, and require that consumptions are itemized, which makes controlling and supervising the use of money easier and clearer," Ren said. The auditors also revealed inefficient use of scientific research budgets because of a poor management system. Meanwhile, 10 central enterprises investigated in the audit, including Sinopec and China Southern Airlines, were found to have falsified their business performance. Ren said the reports should be more detailed and transparent to better supervise the government agencies. ^ top ^

22 sentenced for sale of 5,000 kg of tainted dog meat in Jiangsu (Global Times)
2016-06-30
A total of 22 people have been sentenced to up to eight years in prison for making and selling more than 5,000 kilograms of tainted dog meat, the People's Procuratorate of Rugao in East China's Jiangsu Province announced Tuesday. Since November 2015, Rugao prosecutors have investigated 14 cases regarding poisoned food, which involved over 5,000 kilograms of poisoned dog meat, 11,000 poisoned birds and 500 kilograms of hazardous chemicals. Rugao police nabbed Lao Gan (pseudonym) in November 2015 for purchasing 7,000 kilograms of poisoned dog meat before tracking down another five people who bought half of the meat and sold it to restaurants in the outskirts of cities in Anhui, Shandong and Jiangsu provinces. Local police also caught eight men for killing and selling over 11,000 poisoned birds, most of which were sold to restaurants in Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces. Any tainted meat should be kept away from people's tables to ensure food safety, but there are some loopholes in the supervision of the origins of the food served in some restaurants, Fan Zhihong, a professor at the School of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering at China Agricultural University, told the Global Times. The People's Procuratorate of Rugao also said on its official website that it is difficult for authorities to identify tainted meat cases because food safety supervision bureaus usually only perform small spot checks on restaurants and few consumers are willing to file reports. Fan said that unlike pork, beef and mutton, which typically come from large-scale farming, most dog meat comes from unknown sources, and ill-intentioned people may inject chemicals into the meat to preserve it during transportation. According to Sichuan-based Boai Animal Protection Center, China's lack of strict quarantine and inspection of the dog meat production chain contributes to many consumers' refusal to eat dog meat. ^ top ^

China tackles poverty by resettling rural villagers (China Daily)
2016-06-30
Chen Zeping and his wife have lived for decades in a rundown, brick-and-clay house in an impoverished village in mountainous Jinzhai county, eking out a living with odd jobs. The couple's annual net income is less than 2,800 yuan ($431) on average, and Chen, 56, must travel a long distance from Dawan village to Huashi township to find temporary laboring jobs. Jinzhai, in East China's Anhui province, once an important Red Army revolutionary base, is among the country's poorest counties. More than 12 percent of the population, or 83,400 residents, are considered impoverished. On a recent visit, President Xi Jinping took both a long flight and drive before arriving in Jinzhai, then still needed another hour to reach Chen's village. But this is about to change as Chen and others will soon move to a newly built community with better transportation infrastructure and apartments paid for by the government. "Life and work will be much easier then," Chen told the President. China's top leaders have made poverty alleviation an important goal in the country's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). China tackles poverty by resettling rural villagers Migration and resettlement are expected to play important roles in improving rural residents' living conditions. Over the next five years, 10 million of the country's 70 million poorer people will be resettled. The program is expected to cost 600 billion yuan. "Migration and resettlement alone are still not enough to keep poverty alleviation sustainable," said Shen Xiaoyu, an official at the China Development Bank's Anhui branch who helped the Lu'an city government with poverty alleviation last year. Li Shoufang, 54, who described herself a "left-behind woman", is among those targeted by the poverty alleviation work. She had been living on 0.2 hectares of mountainous forest land with a green tea garden in rural Dushan township in the city's Yu'an district. "Earnings from farming have been very limited, so my husband and unmarried daughter had to migrate to the provincial capital for work," Li said. Last year, Li gave the family farmland to a newly created agriculture development company in exchange for annual rent of about 3,450 yuan. She is now paid 60 yuan each day for fieldwork. Several kilometers away, a new apartment community will be completed in a few months. Li will then give up her current dilapidated dwelling and move into the new community of 835 families and 3,573 people. Yu'an district plans to build 10 such communities to resettle 5,512 households, 2,146 of which are poor families. The projects will require a total investment of 2 billion yuan. ^ top ^

China's powerful internet tsar steps aside as another of Xi Jinping's close allies to take over (SCMP)
2016-06-29
The mainland's internet tsar – the official in charge of overseeing cybersecurity and online censorship – has stepped aside. Lu Wei, the first director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, will be succeeded by his deputy Xu Lin, Xinhua reported yesterday, confirming a South China Morning Post exclusive. It is unclear if Lu, 56, will get a new appointment in addition to his present role as a deputy head of the Communist Party's Central Publicity Department. Officials were briefed on the matter on Tuesday evening, a source said. Xu was Shanghai's publicity chief before he was appointed Lu's deputy in July last year. Xu is regarded as one of President Xi Jinping's key supporters, having worked with him as a standing committee member of Shanghai's Communist Party when Xi was its chief. Xi moved to Beijing in late 2007. Lu, also seen as a close ally of Xi, was listed by Time magazine in 2015 as one of the world's 100 most influential people. Jon Huntsman, a former US ambassador to China, wrote in the magazine: “As China aspires to become a global cyberpower, Lu could hold the keys to its future, determining whether there will be sufficient oxygen for the 21st century. Almost half of China's 1.4 billion population is online.” Lu, a controversial figure, oversaw the tightening of online controls during his tenure as China's top internet regulator – a position he had held since 2013, when the office was set up. Under his watch, the government launched a massive ­campaign to clamp down on what it said were rumour mongers. This coincided with the hunting down of a couple of opinion leaders on criminal charges ­ranging from ­illegal business operations to ­obscene acts. In 2014, Xi set up a leading group on cybersecurity, which he chairs. Lu's department became responsible for the daily operation of the group. Qiao Mu, a communications professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said there would be continuity after Lu's departure. “The Cyberspace Administration of China is an agency that implements decisions made from above... The change of its director does not suggest softening of China's internet policy.” ^ top ^

China's internet authorities tighten grip with new rules to control app market (SCMP)
2016-06-28
Internet authorities are tightening their grip on the rapidly growing app market, with new rules demanding that all app providers on the mainland adopt real-name registration for users and keep their user activity logs for 60 days. The new rules from the Cyberspace Administration of China also aim to rein in excessive access of users' personal data by app providers. The new regulation applies to the provision of “information services through mobile internet apps as well as app store services on the Chinese mainland”. It is unclear if the new regulation would affect overseas users of Chinese apps. The administration said the regulation, which will take effect from August 1, was introduced to curb the dissemination of “illegal information” and violations of users' rights through mobile apps. “Lawbreakers exploit a handful of apps to disseminate violent, terrorist, obscene and pornographic information and rumours against the law,” an unnamed CAC official said in a statement on the agency's website. The administration estimated there were more than four million apps available through online stores on the mainland. According to research firm Analysys International, WeChat, QQ, Alipay, Taobao and Tencent Video were among the most popular last month in terms of number of ­active users. Alibaba, which operates Alipay and Taobao, owns the South China Morning Post. Under the new regulation, users will still be allowed to adopt a public alias but not before registering their real identities with the app providers. App providers must verify those identities by mobile phone numbers or other means. Providers should issue warnings, restrict access, suspend updates or shut down accounts of users who publish “illegal information” and content. App store operators, meanwhile, will be required to vet the apps' security and compliance with the law. App providers will also need the explicit consent of users to gain access to their geographic ­location and contact list, record video and audio through their mobile devices, or activate or bundle unnecessary functions with their services. Beauty app founder Qi Shudan said the regulation would likely have a bigger impact on apps that had many commenters. “It will have little effect on apps of our kind that are only for business and commerce,” Qi said. A Guangzhou-based app operator, who refused to be named, said the rule on activity logs was a warning to “all internet users not to make improper comments on social or political issues because every word you type will be ­recorded and handed in to the authorities”. “Many users like to comment on social and political news on live-streaming and news apps. Now they will need to think twice before making any comment that authorities could claim spurred public scares or rumours,” he said. “Such rules only put further limits on freedom of speech.” The authorities have ramped up online real-name registration since last year, implementing it for instant messaging services, Twitter-like microblogs, online forums and other websites. On Monday, a controversial cybersecurity bill was also presented to the national legislature for a second reading. ^ top ^

China's Communist Party journal editor hangs himself because of political infighting: report (SCMP)
2016-06-28
The deputy editor of the Chinese Communist Party's top theoretical journal has committed suicide, reports said, sending speculation swirling over political infighting, freedom of thought and corruption. Zhu Tiezhi, 56, a well-known essayist on party theories and the deputy editor-in-chief of Qiushi – ”Seeking Truth” – hanged himself in the magazine's garage, Chinese media reported. Citing an unnamed friend, Chinese media group Caixin said he had been depressed by ideological disputes in recent years between reformists and increasingly vocal conservative academics. If the ruling party cannot solve real problems “ideological debates would become empty talk to undermine the mutual trust between the party, the government it leads and the people”, it quoted one of Zhu's articles as reading. Under China's President Xi Jinping, authorities have tightened the space for debate both within the party and in wider society. Zhu believed a scholar must preserve his integrity, independent way of thinking and unique views, the report cited the friend saying. But “that concern does not sit well with the party's call for all members and cadres to unite behind the party lines”, Caixin said. People.cn, a news website run by the party's mouthpiece the People's Daily, carried a brief report on Sunday about Zhu's death, without elaborating on the cause. The report was widely picked up by other Chinese media, but most had been taken down by Tuesday. Overseas Chinese media reports speculated that Zhu killed himself partly due to links with Ling Jihua, a fallen former aide to Xi's presidential predecessor Hu Jintao. Ling faces charges of accepting bribes and illegally obtaining state secrets. Qiushi published a 4,000-word article by Ling in December 2014 – about two weeks before his fall – that quoted Xi at least 16 times in a last-ditch attempt to showcase loyalty and beg for mercy, the reports said. Ling may have influenced Zhu to expedite the publication by the journal, which is normally extremely selective, they said. The Party's anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, in October blasted Qiushi for “slack political censoring on the publication of some articles” and improperly manipulating the editing process to publish writings by friends.  ^ top ^

131 poisoned by E.China chemical leak (Xinhua)
2016-06-28
A diketene leak at a chemical plant in east China's Shandong Province has resulted in 131 people being hospitalized, local authorities said Tuesday. Some 30 kg of diketene leaked on June 21 from Beichen Biotechnology Co., Ltd. in Shenxian County. As of 6 p.m. on Monday, 131 locals, including 43 children, had been admitted to hospital. According to the county government, 11 people had checked out by Tuesday morning, and those who remain in hospital were stable. A preliminary investigation shows that the leakage was caused by negligence. Officials with the county's environmental bureau said the company has been ordered to close permanently. ^ top ^

Chinese city puts plans for waste-burning plant on hold as protesters take to the streets (SCMP)
2016-06-27
The mayor of a city in central China made a rare public address calling for calm after thousands of people protested against a waste incineration project over fears it would damage the environment and residents' health. The city of Xiantao, in Hubei province, said on Sunday it would suspend the project but protests continued on Monday. Photos posted on social media, which could not be verified by Reuters, showed dozens of riot police on the march. “We urge the people of the city to be peaceful and rational, and not to believe rumours, not to organise, join in, or be bystanders at illegal gatherings,” mayor Zhou Wenxia said in the video, which was carried by state media. About 10,000 people protested in Xiantao on Sunday, state-backed Global Times reported, citing a resident, even after the local government said on Sunday morning it planned to suspend the project. Another resident told Reuters by phone on Monday that the protests continued, and several protesters were injured in clashes with riot police. “There are hundreds of police here because of the demonstrations,” the resident said. In a statement on its official microblog, the city government called on residents to refrain from taking “extreme actions” and spreading rumours. A city public security official said using text messages and the internet to organise “illegal gatherings” and demonstrations was prohibited, Xinhua reported. Zhou added that protesters continued to engage in “irrational actions” by gathering in public despite the suspension of the project. A Xiantao official said that the planned plant's emissions of dioxin, a toxic compound, would have been in line with European Union standards, state media reported. Chemical plants have sparked numerous protests across China in recent years, underscoring public fears about choking smog and environmental degradation, which have been costs of the country's rapid economic growth. Last June, thousands protested in Jinshan, about 60km from China's commercial hub of Shanghai, against plans to build a chemical plant. ^ top ^

School textbooks call girls having premarital sex 'cheap' (Global Times)
2016-06-27
A sex education textbook issued to high schools in Jiangxi Province was accused of calling girls who have premarital sex cheap, triggering a public debate of gender inequality. Xiao Chuwu (pseudonym), a high school teacher in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, took to Weibo on Wednesday to quote a passage from High School Sex Education that says girls are "degraded" by premarital sex. "Premarital sex has a tremendous negative psychological and physical impact on girls," reads the book by 21st Century Publishing Group. "Girls do not increase the love they receive from boys by sacrificing their bodies, but rather are seen as 'degraded' by their 'conquerors,'" the book continues. "As a result, sexual relations can cause women to lose love." Xiao's post drew a lot of attention. "Sex education is supposed to protect teenagers, not intimidate or insult them," wrote a Sina Weibo user. "The press should name itself 'The 18th Century Publishing Group," said another. The 21st Century Publishing Group said the wording is not insulting to women and pointed out that words like "degraded" appear in quotes. A total of 2,000 copies of the book have been issued to high school seniors in Jiangxi since 2004. Local c0-publisher Jiangxi Higher Education Press claimed they stopped issuing the book in 2006. Both publishers vowed to "make appropriate edits," the Legal Mirror reported Friday. ^ top ^

China releases search engine regulation following Baidu scandal (Xinhua)
2016-06-25
China's Internet regulator publicized a regulation Saturday on search engines, ordering search providers to ensure objective, fair and authoritative search results. Search providers must improve censorship and remove any illegal content, according to the regulation released by the Cyberspace Administration of China. All paid-for search results must be labeled clearly and checks on advertisers should be improved, according to the regulation. There should also be a limit on the number of paid-for results on a single page. Moreover, the practice of blocking negative content concerning advertisers has been banned. The regulation came after an investigation into Baidu, which was criticized for influencing the treatment choice of a late cancer patient, Wei Zexi, by presenting misguiding medical information. Wei, 22, died after undergoing a controversial cancer treatment at a Beijing hospital, which the Wei family found through Baidu search. "Search service providers should be aware of their social responsibility [...] they must provide objective, fair and authoritative search results to netizens," the CAC was quoted as saying later in a statement. Paid listing were not distinguishable from normal search results, which could mislead users, the administration said. It has been reported that some medical organizations, which paid for search results, were unqualified or had forged certificates. "The content of some search results was found to be rumors, pornographic, violent or related to terrorism," according to CAC. Web directories must have a channel to receive complaints and compensate for any damages caused to users, but the regulation did not elaborate on this aspect. Earlier this month, CAC asked Baidu to improve its paid-for listings model and to rank the search results mainly according to credibility rather than price-tags. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing offers residency for skilled tech workers (China Daily)
2016-06-29
Beijing will allow some skilled workers from home and abroad to obtain permanent residence by accumulating points based on skills, employment history and education credentials. Foreign workers at startups or who are hired by companies in Zhongguancun Technology Park in Beijing could be granted a Chinese green card if they meet the bar set by a merit-based point system. Nonlocal Chinese citizens, on the other hand, may be able to obtain permanent residence in Beijing, according to a document released on Monday by the Beijing government. Beijing will give priority to what it calls "innovative and entrepreneurial talent", which includes startups with a certain level of investment, investors and investment companies, high-tech companies and market leaders in the cultural industry. Previously, Beijing residency for nonlocal citizens could only be obtained through a limited number of employers, mainly government or related agencies and State-owned enterprises, or other channels supported by policy. Permanent residency has long been a headache for many outsiders who want to migrate and live in Beijing. For foreigners, the country's permanent residency permits have been considered one of the most difficult in the world to obtain. For nonlocal Chinese citizens, the situation is the same. Among all the cities and provinces, getting registered in Beijing is the most difficult. Wang Yukai, a professor of public administration at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said that in the past skilled workers could only move from place to place if they met certain requirements, making it difficult for people to work where they are needed most. Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, has called for years for removing the residency barrier for skilled workers. "With China developing quickly, we should not only focus on high-end talent but also on leading, innovative talent that has potential to change the game in the future," Wang said. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Wukan village chief accused of toxic track graft (SCMP)
2016-06-25
Authorities in the eastern Guangdong city of Shanwei say the Communist Party secretary of Wukan village, Lin Zuluan, received 80,000 yuan (HK$93,700) in kickbacks from the construction of a school running track. However, villagers are continuing to protest, demanding the release of the village chief, who had been at the centre of protests over land seizures. State broadcaster China Central Television reported that the authorities had confirmed on Friday an internet posting accusing 70-year-old Lin, also known as Lin Zulian, of receiving 80,000 yuan from a 420,000 yuan synthetic running track project at the village's school. Shanwei city government press office director Shi Shuoyan said the investigation had confirmed accusations in the internet posting and Lin had also confessed. To ensure pupils' health, the city's education authority had ordered the school to stop using the synthetic running track and samples had been sent to a state-appointed laboratory for testing, CCTV reported, adding that the parties involved should be dealt with severely if the track was confirmed to be toxic. The local government released a video of Lin in detention early this week in which he confessed to taking “huge kickbacks in contracting and procurement projects”, without specifying the nature of the projects. Friday's accusation came in the wake of safety concerns about school running tracks across the mainland. CCTV aired an investigative report this week about toxic industrial waste being used as a raw material for synthetic tracks at schools in Beijing, following reports in the past few months of children falling ill after being exposed to school running tracks. However, Wukan villagers and some internet users said they were not convinced by the latest allegation against Lin, who won a rare open election in 2012 following a stand-off with the government. One internet user said it was as convincing as saying Lin was “conspiring with aliens from other planets to exterminate earth”. Meanwhile, villagers continued to protest for the sixth day since Lin's arrest in the early hours of last Saturday, saying he was innocent and calling for his release. His wife has not received formal notification of his arrest from the authorities and the family's attempts to hire lawyers have been repeatedly blocked by authorities in Shanwei, Lufeng and Guangzhou. Lawyer Ge Yongxi, from Guangzhou, was forced to refund retainer fees on Wednesday. Another lawyer, Yu Pinjian from Guangxi, said on Thursday that he had been blocked on his way to Lufeng, which is part of Shanwei. Lin's sons were said to have appointed lawyer Wei Rujiu but Lufeng prosecutors prevented him from meeting Lin on Thursday, saying “Lin himself refuses to hire a lawyer”, according to a Wukan villagers' internet chatroom. A handwritten statement circulated online on Friday bearing Lin's signature said he “fully trusted the authorities to handle the case with justice” and would not require a lawyer. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetan director hospitalized during custody (Global Times)
2016-06-30
Police in Northwest China's Qinghai Province confirmed Wednesday that award-winning ethnic Tibetan film director Pema Tseden has been hospitalized for hypertension and hyperglycemia after being detained for a dispute over luggage at the airport in the provincial capital, Xining. On Saturday evening, Tseden broke into the arrival lobby at the airport in Xining to look for luggage he had forgotten when he left the airport earlier that day. According to a statement sent by the Department of Public Security of Qinghai Province to the Global Times on Wednesday, Tseden had a row with security staffers after he ignored their promises to search for his luggage and their attempts to dissuade him from breaking into the area, and the security staff later called the police. Tseden was taken into custody on Sunday morning and was detained for five days for disturbing public order after a preliminary physical examination in the hospital showed no signs that he was unfit for detention, according to the statement. Pema Tseden, best known for the films Tharlo and Old Dog, is China's first director to make films entirely in the Tibetan language. His work has won many prizes at home. Tseden's detention has made a splash online, attracting expressions of grave concern from the Chinese film industry and coverage from Western media outlets like AFP and Reuters. "He felt dizzy, with chest distress and numb fingers on Monday while in police custody … and was found to have deep scars and bruises all over his body," self-proclaimed indie filmmaker Derge Tsering said on his Sina Weibo account. "Pema Tseden was detained and felt under the weather … We call on the police to release the details about the quarrel and detention, fearing there may have been violent enforcement of the law," China Film Directors' Guild said in a statement on its official Sina Weibo account on Wednesday. In the statement sent to the Global Times, the police explained that the three abrasions on Tseden's wrists were caused by handcuffs. "He refused to cooperate with the police when they were taking him away from the airport," the statement said. On Monday morning, he was diagnosed with hypertension and hyperglycemia in the hospital without any other symptoms, after he claimed that he felt dizzy and had chest pain, according to the police. Doctors suggested hospitalizing him.The police added that Tseden agreed to resume his detention after recovering. "If the filmmaker were Han Chinese and had gained less popularity, the detention would not have attracted such immense attention," an expert in ethnology and anthropology told the Global Times on conditional of anonymity. "It is irresponsible for foreign media to over-interpret and hype up run-of-the-mill detentions of Chinese citizens and thereby complicate the Tibetan question," he said. Pema Tseden could not be reached by the Global Times for comment as of press time. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang rolls out credit policy for the poor (Xinhua)
2016-06-29
The Xinjiang regional people's government has started offering small loans to the poor and encouraging people to start their own businesses. Xinjiang will offer a maximum of 50,000 yuan (about 7,540 U.S. dollars) for every impoverished household, free of mortgage or guarantee, said Wang Yanlou, deputy director of the regional Finance Department on Wednesday. Applicants can obtain the loans a week after they apply, and they may reapply after three years, he said. The regional government has ordered lower governments to establish a special fund to support the new credit policy, he said. About 2.61 million people in Xinjiang -- less than 10 percent of the region's population -- live in poverty. A shortage of funds is a major obstacle, Wang said. "Banks usually demand guarantees or mortgageable assets, thus barring a great number of people from getting the money they need," he said. Most impoverished households have nothing to mortgage and cannot find anyone to vouch for them. "We want to use the loans to encourage people to start their own businesses and find proper means for living," he said. For Amatgang Sidiq, a 38-year-old sheep farmer in Akto county of Xinjiang, the loan can help him raise more livestock. He suffered a great loss during a steep fall in sheep prices in 2014. He had spent almost his life's savings on a new house, which was left half-built after his sheep business collapsed. "The bank refused me any loans because I have no house to mortgage. The new loan program is just what I need," he said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong police to deploy 2,000 officers amid jitters over 'black mask' rally outside Beijing's liaison office (SCMP)
2016-06-30
Jitters over security prompted by a separatist call for a “black-mask protest'' outside Beijing's headquarters in Hong Kong will see more than 2,000 police deployed on Friday as the city marks the 19th anniversary of its return to Chinese sovereignty. As many as 100,000 people are expected to take part in the annual July 1 march organised by the Civil Human Rights Front – an umbrella group of pro-democracy organisations. However, as political tensions continue to simmer in the wake of 2014's Occupy protests and violent disturbances in Mong Kok earlier this year, police concerns are focused on a planned protest by so-called “localists” – a small but vociferous assortment of people who advocate varying degrees of political independence for Hong Kong — outside Beijing's liaison office in Western. Police called on protest organisers, who have called on people to wear black masks and clothing, to contact them as soon as possible, warning police “will take swift action” against anyone who threatens public order. Localist groups are shunning the traditional – much bigger – July 1 march, the theme of which will be a call for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to step down, trashing it as a symbolic, ritualistic waste of time. The Civil Human Rights Front event will see thousands march from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to the government's headquarters in Admiralty. This year's event will take on added significance with the front's rally being led by bookseller Lam Wing-kee, who made ­explosive revelations about his months-long detention on the mainland, raising questions about the government's ability to protect Hong Kong people from the reach of the mainland's security apparatus. Three localist groups, the Hong Kong National Party, Hong Kong Indigenous and Youngspiration, have dismissed the demonstration as a “meaningless ritual” and are urging people to protest outside the liaison office. The convenor of Youngspiration, Baggio Leung Chung-hang, said they could not agree with the front's call for Leung Chun-ying to resign. “We believe the bookseller saga worries Hong Kong people more,” the activist said. It was understood they would not seek police approval for their action as they regard it as an act of civil disobedience. In a post on its Facebook page, the National Party, which advocates Hong Kong's independence, said the rally would be “a black bloc protest against the Chinese invasion of Hong Kong” The post says: “Black bloc is a tactic for protests in which participants wear black clothing and masks in a bid to conceal their identities and avoid prosecution by making it difficult to distinguish between participants.” Hong Kong Island police senior superintendent Tse Kwok-wai said: “The police will not tolerate any illegal act”. “In the event of any... act that [constitutes] a breach of the peace, the police will take swift action to prevent public safety and order from being compromised.” About 1,700 officers, mostly from the Police Tactical Unit, will fan out to monitor the march from Victoria Park to Admiralty and the protest outside Beijing's liaison office, according to sources. It is understood another 500 officers would be on standby in police stations and police headquarters and would be sent out in case of unrest, they said. One source said crime squad officers would also be present along the march's route and at the protest in Western. Another source said police would enhance stop-and-search operations to stop radical protesters from carrying offensive weapons.  ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan, Japan to discuss fishing rights, maritime cooperation (SCMP)
2016-07-01
Taiwanese and Japanese officials will meet in Taipei next month to discuss fishing near Okinotori, the southernmost point of Japanese territory, the island's foreign ministry said on Thursday. Tsai Ming-yao, secretary general of the Association of East Asian Relations, the Taiwanese body in charge of ties with Japan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, told a press conference that the two sides would hold the first round of official talks to discuss the establishment of a mechanism to cooperate on maritime affairs. Issues both sides agreed to place on the agenda include fishing near Okinotori, protection of the maritime environment, emergency rescue and scientific research. Both sides also agreed to add other issues that both agree on to the agenda. Tsai said the Taiwanese side hoped the meeting could be held once a year or more if necessary. As details of the meeting are still being arranged, Tsai only said that it would be held in Taipei at the end of July. A diplomatic insider involved in the negotiations but who was not authorised to speak to the media said the meeting would be held on July 28. A Taiwanese fishing boat and its crew members were detained in April for fishing in Japan's self-declared exclusive economic zone near Okinotori, an uninhabited atoll in the Western Pacific 1,700km south of Tokyo. The boat and its crew were released a few days later after negotiations that led to the payment of a fine to the Japanese side. Taiwan argues Taiwanese fishermen should be allowed to conduct fishing activities in the area, which it considers international waters. ^ top ^

Mainland blames Taiwan for suspension of communication mechanism (Global Times)
2016-06-30
Taiwan should take full responsibility for the suspension of the communication mechanism between the Chinese mainland and the island, a mainland spokesperson said on Wednesday. Taiwan's current administration has failed to recognize the 1992 Consensus which endorses the one-China principle after May 20, shaking the political foundation for cross-Strait interaction, said An Fengshan, spokesperson for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office at a press conference. The suspended communication mechanisms include both the regular mechanism between cross-Strait affairs departments and the consultation mechanism between the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF). Both operated on the basis of the 1992 Consensus, An said. "The peaceful development of cross-Strait ties since 2008 did not come out of the blue," he added. The mainland has not changed its stance, An said. "It was Taiwan which changed the situation." The key to ensuring negotiations and contact is whether the SEF will be authorized to confirm adherence to the consensus, An said. "On such a fundamental question, ambiguity is unacceptable," An said. Communication mechanisms between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan have been suspended over Taiwan's current administration's failure to recognize the 1992 Consensus, An made the remarks on Saturday when asked to comment on Taiwan's protests against Cambodia's recent decision to deport Taiwanese telecom fraud suspects to the Chinese mainland. He said the lawful crackdown on telecom fraud and protection of fraud victims are "perfectly justified, and are supported by people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits." Since the suspension of the communication mechanisms, many Taipei officials are worried that this summer's Shanghai-Taipei City Forum might be affected, Taiwan-based China Times reported on Tuesday. Even if the Shanghai-Taipei Forum proceeds, it will be small in scale and at low level, with no breakthrough, a member of the Taipei City Council, told the China Times. The Shanghai-Taipei City Forum has been held annually by the two cities since 2010 to promote communication, and it is scheduled to be held in Taiwan in July or August this year. ^ top ^

Chinese mainland stops communication mechanism with Taiwan (Global Times)
2016-06-27
Communication mechanisms between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan is currently in suspension over the failure to recognize the 1992 Consensus by Taiwan's current administration, a mainland spokesman said Saturday. An Fengshan, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, made the remarks when asked to comment on Taiwan's protests against Cambodia's recent escort of Taiwanese telecom fraud suspects to the Chinese mainland. The Taiwan side has failed to recognize the 1992 Consensus which endorses the one-China principle after May 20, and cross-Strait contact and communication mechanisms have thus been suspended, An said. He said lawful crack down on telecom frauds and protection of fraud victims are "perfectly justified, and are supported by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait." ^ top ^

Taiwan 'to test-fire missiles in US' in move likely to upset Beijing (SCMP)
2016-06-27
Taiwan plans to test-fire its newest anti-missile system for the first time in the United States in July, a defence source and media reports said on Monday. The test of the US-made Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system would be launched at the White Sands Missile Range, in New Mexico, in early July, a defence ministry source said, in a move likely to irk Beijing even though it was arranged before the island's new president Tsai Ing-wen took office. According to the source, the test will be conducted in the US to avoid Beijing collecting information about it, and due to space restrictions in Taiwan. The American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy, would not comment on the test, which was also reported in Taiwan's Liberty Times newspaper. Despite having no official diplomatic ties with Taipei after recognising Beijing in 1979, the US is still Taiwan's greatest ally and main arms supplier. The missile system was purchased in 2008 and the test was approved by the US last year, according to the Liberty Times. Taiwan bought the new PAC-3 – a system designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles near the end of their trajectory – as part of a US$6.5 billion arms sale by the US in 2008, which infuriated Beijing at the time. The Taiwanese missile unit involved in the July drill will fire two missiles to intercept a missile launched by the US military, which simulates an incoming mainland Chinese ballistic missile, the Liberty Times reported. Japan has also tested the PAC-3 on US soil. Beijing insists self-ruling Taiwan is part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war. According to Taiwan's defence ministry there are 1,500 Chinese missiles aimed at the island. ^ top ^

Taiwan's not-so-young new cabinet hits one snag after another (SCMP)
2016-06-27
First it was a snub by Beijing when Taipei was forced to take part in the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer in late-May under the “one-China principle”. Days later came a fist-fighting opposition party occupying the legislature podium to protest against what it alleged was the selling out of the island's interests to the United States. And, as if the worse had come to the worst, Taiwan's main international airport – its gateway to the world – was inundated by a flash flood earlier this month, delaying more than 200 flights and stranding 30,000 passengers amid power outages. Four key reasons Kuomintang lost the Taiwan election Taiwan's new cabinet has hit snag after snag in the month since Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in as the island's first woman leader on May 20. Analysts say tough challenges are inevitable for Tsai's team, given the growing pressure from Beijing and an unfriendly opposition party at home, plus public expectations of the new administration to turn around the island's sagging economy. Tsai, whose independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party won a crushing victory over the mainland-friendly Kuomintang in January's presidential and parliament elections, had hoped to staff her team with young and capable officials. But she has ended up with a team that includes a number of “experienced” veterans, after what local media claimed was a lack of interest in government posts by younger potential candidates. Tsai's Cabinet – headed by 64-year-old former finance minister Lin Chuan – is collectively three years older than the Liu Chao-shiuan cabinet dubbed “the-thousand-year-old team” when it was formed by Tsai's predecessor Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT when he took office in 2008. Lin, to the bewilderment of the public, appointed a 57-year-old civil engineering academic, Lee Shih-kung – who has no experience in industry – as the economics minister. Even Lee himself called the appointment a “big surprise”. To be a credible opposition, Taiwan's KMT must put its house in order Assuming his post on May 20, Lee told reporters that the new government would seek to reopen talks with Beijing if any of the 23 agreements signed by the two sides in the past eight years were found to be unacceptable and in need of adjustment. His comment was criticised by the KMT as a departure from Tsai's campaign promises that she would uphold agreements already signed with the mainland. “They have offered the KMT handy ammunition to attack Tsai's team,” said Wang Kung-yi, professor of international relations and strategic studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan. Analysts said that unlike the former KMT administration, which was able to maintain warm relations with Beijing by embracing the 1992 consensus, Tsai's cabinet had to deal with pressure from Beijing due to Tsai's failure to acknowledge the consensus and the one-China principle in her inauguration speech. Beijing cuts Ma-era cross-strait communication channel with Taiwan “This explains why Tsai opted for the appointments of three KMT-related officials as ministers of foreign, defence and mainland affairs,” said Shih Cheng-feng, a professor of indigenous studies at National Dong Hwa University in Taiwan. Beijing has said acceptance of the 1992 consensus is a prerequisite for the two side to continue talking. It refers to an understanding reached at a meeting in Hong Kong in 1992 that allows the two sides to continue their dialogue so long as they agree there was only one China, though each can have its own interpretation of what that China stands for. But Foreign Minister David Lee recently risked provoking Beijing by saying his ministry would expand the island's campaign to take part in United Nations activities, and indeed would regard it as a major goal and task. Local media said the 66-year-old seasoned diplomat was appointed foreign minister because of his familiarity with US affairs, experience that would help Tsai seek closer cooperation with Washington to counter Beijing. Taiwan's president leaves on first official trip overseas to visit allies in Central and Latin America Lee recently arranged for Tsai to visit Panama and Paraguay, two of Taiwan's allies in Central and South America, to cement ties in the face of growing pressure from Beijing, which has slowed down exchanges with Taiwan and forced the island to attend the WHA as an observer. He also helped cover up a slip of the tongue by Defence Minister Feng Shih-kuan, who had said his ministry was shipping 40,000 rounds of ammunition for 40mm guns to the Taiwan-controlled Taiping island in the South China Sea. At a legislature session earlier this month, the 70-year-old Feng told lawmakers that the ammunition would be shipped to Taiping island between late June and early July, a comment that drew concern from the United States, which viewed the move as stoking tensions in the region. Lee said his ministry explained to Washington that Feng's comment was a “verbal mistake”. Taipei won't recognise Beijing's South China Sea air defence zone, says Taiwanese defence minister Analysts said Tsai chose Katherine Chang as head of the Mainland Affairs Council in a bid to use Chang's relations with the KMT to assure Beijing that Tsai would stick to her pledge of maintaining the cross-strait status quo. But they said Beijing was unlikely to buy this. Chang, 63, a seasoned diplomat who has worked for previous KMT administrations though has no political affiliation, admitted to the legislature on June 7 that she had yet to interact with her mainland counterpart Zhang Zhijun, of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, since she took office on May 20. The institutionalised communication channel between the two sides has been suspended by Beijing since Tsai's refusal to acknowledge the 1992 consensus. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Li to open investment door wider (China Daily)
2016-06-29
Premier Li Keqiang promised wider market access for foreign investment and intensified efforts to tackle financial risks when he addressed a roomful of corporate executives in Tianjin on Tuesday. "The participation of foreign firms is needed in China's efforts to push economic transformation and upgrading through reform and innovation, and to realize healthy and sustainable growth," Li said. He was taking part in a question-and-answer session on the sidelines of the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also known as the Summer Davos. Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, a California-based company, asked Li about the biggest challenges facing the Chinese economy. The premier said these included impeding the county's reform and transition, where foreign businesses can play a role. He said foreign technology and managerial expertise will help Chinese companies and the country's industrial upgrading. Li said the country will further ease market access for foreign investment and it is committed to building an environment for fair competition. He did not specify the areas for more relaxed access, but at the opening of the Summer Davos on Monday, Li said the country would open the service and general manufacturing sectors wider and treat Chinese and foreign companies equally. "China has the biggest potential for investment and should become the world's most appealing destination for investment," he said. Li added that despite difficulties or even friction that foreign investors may experience when doing business in China, the vast majority of these companies could earn a high return on investment. "Vast majority means possibly 99 percent (of them)," Li said. He thanked KPMG for its support and expertise in improving China's accounting system. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

Xi urges caution on U.S. missile system in ROK (Xinhua)
2016-06-29
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday urged the Republic of Korea (ROK) to address China's reasonable security concerns and "cautiously and appropriately" handle the U.S. plan to deploy its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in the country. Xi made the remarks as he met with visiting ROK Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn in Beijing. China and the ROK should continue to work for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, work together to maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula, and push relevant parties to solve problems through dialogue and consultation, said the president. Hwang said that the ROK is willing to maintain close communication with China about the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and relevant affairs. Invited by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Hwang is visiting China from June 26 to 30. During the visit, Hwang attended the 10th Summer Davos Forum in Tianjin. Praising the development of their strategic cooperative partnership, Xi called on the two countries to properly implement the consensus he and ROK President Park Geun-hye reached to constantly push forward bilateral ties. The two sides should strengthen the leading role of high-level contact and enhance political mutual trust through consultation and dialogue, said the Chinese president. Xi urged the two countries to integrate China's Belt and Road Initiative with the ROK's Eurasia Initiative to create new bright spots for cooperation. Both countries should properly implement their Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and deepen fiscal and financial cooperation, Xi added. He also called on the two sides to enhance people-to-people exchanges to consolidate a foundation for bilateral relations. The ROK stands ready to continue close bilateral high-level contact, Hwang said, noting the country wants to forge stronger economic ties with China through the FTA. The ROK is willing to coordinate the Eurasia Initiative and the Belt and Road Initiative as well as strengthen bilateral collaboration in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), he stressed. Hwang also highlighted the role of people-to-people ties in ROK-China relations. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

International observers: Orderly election day, competitive campaign did not offset impact of late election law changes on Mongolia's democratic development (Montsame)
2016-06-30
Election day was orderly and followed a competitive campaign. This, however, did not offset the impact of late fundamental changes to election laws on Mongolia's democratic development, the international observers concluded in a preliminary statement released today. While the June 29 parliamentary elections were highly contested and freedoms of assembly and association were respected, restrictive campaign provisions, coupled with the media's subservience to political interests, limited impartial and comprehensive information available to voters, the statement says. We were pleased to see that voting took place in a calm and peaceful manner. This was a genuinely competitive contest, with high turnout and no certainty as to which party would win. We applaud the fact Mongolia is a functioning democracy,” said Laima Liucija Andrikiene, Head of the European Parliament delegation. “There were, however, some elements which cause concern, including significant last minute changes to the election laws, which, among other things, prevented 150,000 Mongolian citizens living outside the country, including diplomats, from voting.” The observers said the consolidation of election legislation into a new law adopted on 25 December 2015, following an inclusive process, was a positive development toward establishing a cohesive electoral framework. However, changes in May 2016 – from a mixed electoral system to a solely majoritarian one, establishing 76 single-mandate constituencies and approving their boundaries – were introduced by parliament in a process that lacked transparency, public consultation and adherence to established criteria, the observers said. This resulted in profound population discrepancies among constituencies. A total of 498 candidates, including 69 independents, was registered in a process that was largely inclusive and provided voters with a range of political choices. Contrary to OSCE commitments and other international obligations, however, there are disproportionate restrictions on candidacy rights, the statement says. While there was general confidence in the accuracy and inclusiveness of the voting register, the May changes to the election laws also effectively disenfranchised 150,000 citizens living abroad for the parliamentary elections. “For an election to be meaningful, voters first have to be offered a genuine choice, and voters were given that choice here. That choice also has to be between candidates competing on a level playing field and who have equal access to independent media to explain their platforms. In this, there is still work to do,” said Ambassador Audrey Glover, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR long-term election observation mission. “Elections are about voters, and the main problem for voters was understanding the significant last-minute changes to election laws, which affected the rules of the game profoundly and raised questions about political motivation.” Despite undue campaign restrictions, the freedoms of assembly and association were respected and candidates were generally able to convey their messages to the electorate. At times the lines were blurred between parties and the administration at both the national and local levels, the observers said. There were multiple instances of alleged vote-buying, which resulted in a number of formal complaints and the deregistration of two candidates. The GEC received some 50 pre-election complaints. Courts reviewed 21 cases regarding candidate registration, and the police handled more than 1,000 campaign-related complaints. Although legislation clarifies the complaints and appeals process to some extent, a general lack of formalization and transparency in the process within the election administration and the protracted handling of disputes in courts undermined the right to effective remedy. The media offered extensive election coverage, but abandoned their journalistic role, for the most part simply granting direct access to the politicians. Paid political advertisements and free airtime overshadowed editorial content, and campaign material prepared by political parties was also included in news programming, undercutting the credibility of the media. Consequently, voters were deprived of independent and analytical reporting, the observers said. In preparation for election day, the General Election Commission met key operational deadlines and fulfilled its mandate, At the same time, the observers said, it lacked transparency and accountability to stakeholders, diminishing trust in the credibility of the process. The testing of vote counting machines was conducted professionally by the Commission in the presence of stakeholders and, to address concerns over the machines' accuracy and integrity, the law was amended stipulate that up to 50 per cent of polling stations would be subject to manual recounts. The procedures stipulating the manual re-count, however, were only finalized two days prior to the elections. All parties and coalitions complied with the 20 per cent gender quota provided for by law, and 26 per cent of contestants were women. There were, however, no women candidates in more than one third of the constituencies. While there is only one woman member of the General Election Commission, women were better represented in lower-level election commissions. Overall, women remain underrepresented in political life. Election day proceeded in an orderly manner in most of the country and, while the right to vote was respected, the secrecy of the votes was a notable exception to the overall positive assessment of voting, mostly as a result of significant procedural errors or omissions. A number of civil society organizations monitored the pre-election environment, including campaign finance and the media, and issued timely statements highlighting key shortcomings. ^ top ^

“MPP will live up to people's trust” (Montsame)
2016-06-29
Mongolian People's Party (MPP) has secured overwhelming majority of seats in the parliament according to the preliminary results of the parliamentary and local elections, stated MPP Chairman M.Enkhbold to the press in the party building at around 1.30 am, June 30. MPP candidates won in 63 constituencies out of total 76. Also, the party's candidates in citizens' representatives khural elections claimed victory in all provinces, except for Zavkhan, he highlighted. He extended gratitude to the citizens and their voters for placing such a high trust on them. “We realize the great responsibility behind your trust. It is right to underline that our party will justify your trust, by putting all efforts in restoring the economic growth and social wellbeing, and improving prestige on international arena”, noted M.Enkhbold. At the end of his statement, he also thanked the members of MPP and electioneerers who worked during election campaign. ^ top ^

SDC: Tackling poverty in Mongolia through support to vegetable production (Montsame)
2016-06-27
With more than 63,000 predominantly small-scale vegetable growers throughout Mongolia, the vegetable sector has become vital in poverty alleviation and as a source of healthy food for an increasingly urbanized population.b The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) believes that providing support for increased and diversified production, storage, processing, marketing and consumption, as well as a conducive legal framework, will benefit both rural households' livelihoods and the national economy. SDC's new Inclusive and Sustainable Vegetable Production and Marketing Project, launched in April 2016, will work with vegetable farmers mainly in the central region of Mongolia including the suburbs of Ulaanbaatar city, providing them with greater knowledge and higher-quality seeds through collaboration with national agricultural institutions and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-06-28
At the cabinet meeting held Monday, L.Purevsuren, the Minister of Foreign Affairs presented results of the Mongolian President's participation in the 16th Meeting of Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization /SCO/ as an observer and in the trilateral meeting of heads of state of Mongolia, China and Russia. Then he was assigned to submit it to the National Security Council (NSC). -In presenting results of his working visit to Japan on May 30-31, the Foreign Minister was charged to approve a plan of follow-up actions and to make certain its implementation. - G.Bayarsaikhan, the Minister of Labor presented to cabinet members results of his working visit to Japan on May 16-18. - A cabinet decision was made to award cash prize of MNT 9 million to a 4th grade student of the College Music and Choreography, B.Jambalbayarnyam who took 3rd place in the 58th Kocian Violin Competition held in the Czech Republic. ^ top ^

President addresses SCO meeting
2016-06-24
On June 24, President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj addressed the meeting of the Council of heads of member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The Mongolian President extended congratulation on the 15th anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and thanked his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov for successful organization of the SCO Summit. He also congratulated India and Pakistan for stepping onto the road to becoming full members of the organization which is conducive to enhancing SCO both political and economic potential and giving SCO more energy to cope with regional challenges and problems. Over 12 years, Mongolia has taken active part in SCO meetings of all levels stating its willingness to participate in SCO multilateral economic cooperation. In view of this, Mongolia considers building a cooperation mechanism between SCO member states, observers and partners is important. The Mongolian part finds “6+5” meeting of national coordinators of SCO member states and observers as an important mechanism for promoting interactions between them. For this, Mongolia is proposing to hold the mechanism on regular basis. Ts.Elbegdorj noted that SCO development strategy until 2025 which was adopted in Ufa last year, has shaped SCO development prospects for the next decade. Mongolia welcomes the strategic document which ensures consolidation of real cooperation between SCO and observer states and their participation in project activities. Mutually beneficial collaboration of the countries comes to be a vital pillar for ensuring regional security and stability. Mongolia gives priorities to promoting cooperation within SCO in the fields of infrastructure, trade, economy, agriculture, environment and combating natural disasters, said the President. With a huge transit transport potential Mongolia is establishing with its neighbors agreements which are essential in this area. There are opportunities to combine efforts in studying feasibilities for constructing oil and gas pipelines as well as road constructions through the territory of Mongolia. On June 23, Mongolia, Russia and China held a top level meeting to reach trilateral cooperation agreement. Signed by the three partiers the Program on building trilateral economic corridor was an important step towards creating a new cooperation dimensions through coordinating regional multilateral cooperation, particularly, SCO, Eurasian economic union, Mongolian Steppe Road and Chinese Silk Road Economic Belt initiatives. In informing that leads-up to the ASEM Summit to be held in Ulaanbaatar on July 15-16 and to celebration of the 20th anniversary of ASEM are underway, the Mongolian President thanked SCO members, observers and partners for providing their support in organizing the upcoming event and wished them to take active part in it. ^ top ^

Mongolia-China-Russian economic corridor to be built (Montsame)
2016-06-24
On June 23, a tripartite meeting of leaders of Mongolia, China and Russia was held for the third time in Tashkent city, Uzbekistan on sidelines of the 16th Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit. The first ever meeting of the state heads of the three countries took place at initiative of President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj in September 2014 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and the second meeting was hosted in July 2015 in Ufa city, Russia. This time, the leaders of the three states made a point on actions the sides plan to carry out in near future. President of China noted that following their meeting in Ufa, a roadmap was adopted for developing trilateral cooperation for mid-term prospective, which is being actively implemented by related ministries, local authorities and companies of the three countries. The sides are effectively coordinating projects in the fields of trade, economy, humanitarian links, transit transport, tourism and sports. Positive results are vivid. The current meeting will be resulted in signing an essential cooperation document which is a program on building economic corridor, highlighted Mr Xi Jinping. In his turn, President of Russia V.Putin noted “Traditional friendly relations link Russia with China and Mongolia. A program has been designed on building the economic corridor between Russia, China and Mongolia as a step towards delivering Ufa agreements. It aims at significant stimulation of border relations through launching over 30 tripartite investment projects. ” Russian side found perspective a Mongolian idea to establish a joint investment projecting center which will serve to work out new proposals on cooperation in the areas of transport, building communications and electricity lines, and energy supply routes. Thereby, President Putin made an emphasis on infrastructural initiatives. In particular, Russian business is ready to engage in modernization of the Ulaanbaatar railways in order to increase its carrying capacity up to 100 million tons of freight per year. V. Putin stressed that further facilitation of customs procedures will be conducive to enhancing trade relations between the three countries, including border ties. An agreement on mutual recognition of results of customs checks which was signed same day in presence of the three leaders serves this purpose. The Russian President also touched upon a range of issues concerning energy supply to Mongolia, cooperation in the tourism sector, promoting academic exchange and highlighted that trilateral partnership has a good potential in many fields to be used for prosperity of our nations. President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj touched upon implementation of the program on building economic corridor. Thereby, he proposed choosing ready for implementation projects out of 32 projects and seeking their financial sources. Taking into consideration that the parties were agree to create a mechanism of investment center, he suggested making it happen within 2016. Secondly, in frames of stimulation of cooperation in the fields of roads and transport, Mongolia proposed holding consultations of transport ministries of the three countries on regular basis, which are real mechanism for forwarding railway projects. It is planned to hold the third meeting in August-September in Ulaanbaatar with a view to discuss the pressing issues. Thirdly, trilateral cooperation priorities shall be identified. Our cooperation cannot be restricted only with economic corridor, transport and customs matters. Regional cooperation is one of the priorities. We are principally backing Chinese ideas on developing cooperation of eastern regions of Mongolia, Russia and China. Mongolian side is ready to further designating a corresponding cooperation roadmap. Mongolia considers possible to develop trilateral cooperation in the areas of agriculture, prevention and combating of disasters and their aftermaths. The President of Mongolia wished to hold a trilateral summit in Ulaanbaatar in order to stimulate our cooperation and expressed a confidence that the trilateral mutually beneficial collaboration will make a great contribution to the development of not only our countries, but also the region as a whole. President Xi Jinping said the sides have to forward trilateral cooperation on the basis of interlocking Chinese initiative Economic belt Silk Road, Russian strategies on building transeurasian corridor and Mongolian initiative Steppe Road. Emphasizing responsible implementation of the program on building economic corridor, President Xi Jinping forwarded proposals related to possibilities of creating trilateral zone, making focus on constructing infrastructure, border trade, industrialization, tourism, humanitarian ties, combining efforts in the industrial sphere and promoting subregional cooperation in the interests of developing border regions of the three countries. ^ top ^

Development Bank of Mongolia becomes partner of SCO Interbank Consortium (Montsame)
2016-06-24
Mongolia's Development Bank became a partner of the Interbank Consortium of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO IBC) according to a decision made at a meeting of the SCO IBC Council in Tashkent June 23. During the meeting, chaired by Uzbekistan's National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity, the Council members also discussed the elaboration of the SCO IBC development strategy for 2017-2021, more active cooperation with the Silk Road Foundation, and the cooperation with international financial organizations operating in the SCO area. Kazakhstan's Development Bank was elected the bank-chairman of SCO IBC for 2016-2017. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization Interbank Consortium (SCO IBC) was established on October 26, 2005 under a decision made by the Council of Heads of SCO Member States. The IBC incorporates the following SCO member states' authorized banks and credit institutions: Kazakhstan's Development Bank, China State Development Bank, Kyrgyzstan's RSK Bank, Russia's State Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs, Tajikistan's State Savings Bank Amonatbonk and Uzbekistan's National Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs, reports trend.az. ^ 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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