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
  8-12.8.16, No. 634  
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Foreign Policy

China, U.S. officials downplay anti-trade rhetoric (Xinhua)
2016-08-12
Against the backdrop of rising anti-trade sentiment around the world, many government officials and businessmen from both China and the U.S. still believed that trade and investment could benefit people from both countries, and called for further understanding and interaction between the two countries. "If you address the focus of anti-trade, you show them ways how trade is good, positive and productive, and creates... higher paying jobs, creates more opportunities, enables people to be innovative," Michael Stack, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, told Xinhua, at an event held by China General Chamber of Commerce-U.S.A. Stack described the presidential campaign rhetoric about China as "sensational." China and the U.S. do have different views in some areas, but both countries can continue communication to clarify the differences and find common ground for cooperation, he said. As long as the China-U.S. relationship is fair and benefiting both countries, it's a strong relationship both sides can keep working on, said Stack. Zhang Qiyue, Chinese consul general in New York, also called on both countries to understand and interact more with each other. A strong and healthy relationship can not only benefit people from both countries, but also contributes stability and development to the world, said Zhang at the event. Protectionism in the United States is rising, especially in the presidential election year, Xu Chen, president of the Bank of China U.S.A, told Xinhua. But he emphasized that presidential nominees' actions were worth more attention than their rhetoric. In regard to the rising anti-trade sentiment, Xu said that globalization boosted economy around the world, but did leave some people behind. He suggested improving social safety net to help those affected by the globalization. With China's economic restructuring going forward, more and more Chinese companies showed great enthusiasm in investing in the United States. Data from the U.S. Commerce Department showed that Chinese investment was the fastest-growing source of foreign direct investment in the United States in 2014. Chinese investment in the U.S. not only created jobs for local economy but also contributed millions of reinvestment to the U.S. market. In 2013, U.S. affiliates of Chinese-owned firms employed over 37,000 U.S. workers, and invested 449 million U.S. dollars in research and development, said the Commerce Department. Despite rising Chinese investment in the U.S., Chinese companies are still facing some obstacles, such as frequent national security reviews by the U.S., complicated and uncoordinated policies by U.S. federal government departments, said Xu. Xu called on companies and government agencies from China and the U.S. to communicate more and build trust to clear these hurdles. ^ top ^

Russia engages with China on THAAD (Global Times)
2016-08-12
China and Russia are discussing a proposal to prevent the further escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the Russian ambassador told media, which experts say indicates that the two countries are growing closer in the face of the deployment of a US missile defense system that has altered the fragile geopolitical balance in Northeast Asia. The Russian Embassy in Beijing confirmed the proposal with the Global Times on Thursday, adding that it was mentioned by Russian Ambassador Andrey Denisov in an interview with Russian media. China's foreign ministry has yet to confirm the existence of a joint proposal. No other details have been released, but Denisov told Russian newspaper Izvestia that Russia believes the US and South Korea should at least control the scale of their joint military drills if they cannot cancel the exercises. He said tensions have escalated to a severe level and Russia believes measures should be taken to at least prevent it from further deteriorating, Izvestia reported Thursday. Russia suggested the US, Japan and South Korea re-evaluate the threat level of North Korean military capabilities, which they could be exaggerating, Denisov told Izvestia. "The deployment of the THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense) system is driving China and Russia to move closer to each other to counter pressure from the US and the unstable factors on the Korean Peninsula," Wu Enyuan, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. Wu said it is too early to say whether the situation would slide into "a new Cold War," but the THAAD deployment has broken the fragile strategic balance in the geopolitically volatile Northeast Asian region. "It raises the possibility of confrontation to a new level, with the US, South Korea and Japan on one side and China, Russia and North Korea on the other. If anything happens, conflicts are likely to spill beyond the Korean Peninsula," he noted. South Korea declared last month it had agreed to deploy the controversial US missile defense system as a countermeasure against North Korean weapons tests, drawing strong criticism from China and Russia. The THAAD system, when implemented with the AN/TPY-2 long-range radar, is capable of spying on activities in neighboring countries' territory. It also dampens China's strategic nuclear missile deterrence capacity, a key part of China's national security. "China could always increase the number of its nuclear weapons and improve their performance to rebuild the strategic balance between China and the US ruined by the THAAD deployment," Wu Riqiang, an international affairs scholar at the Renmin University of China, wrote to the Global Times on Thursday. "However, through this process, Sino-South Korean relations will be seriously damaged." THAAD in Japan? Meanwhile, the Japanese Defense Ministry is inclined to hasten efforts to deploy a THAAD battery in the wake of North Korea's recent missile launches, Chosun Ilbo quoted NHK as saying. A North Korean Rodong missile fell into Japan's exclusive economic zone on August 3. "We cannot eliminate the possibility of another THAAD deployment in Japan in the future. However, by releasing the news at this time, Japan wishes to kill two birds with one stone - to show its support for the US deployment in South Korea and to test China's and Russia's response to its own purchase of a THAAD battery," Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday. Wu Enyuan said that with THAAD deployments in South Korea and Japan, US moves will be interpreted as an attempt to forge an "Asian NATO." The THAAD deployment has damaged mutual trust between China and South Korea, and China and the US. On Thursday, US Missile Defense Agency director James D. Syring said in South Korea that the THAAD deployment is strictly meant to protect South Korea and will not be used against China. He added that THAAD in the Korean Peninsula will not be part of the US' wider missile defense network, the Korean Herald reported. But analysts said China is unconvinced by the statement alone. China is deeply suspicious that the US' pivot to Asia strategy is aimed at containing it. "The key to resolving issues on the Korean Peninsula rests on the US. If the US is willing to extend an olive branch to North Korea like it did to Iran, tensions would be eased in a week. Neither China nor Russia holds such a huge sway on North Korea," Da said. ^ top ^

Dialogue agreed as fishing season starts (China Daily)
2016-08-12
Beijing and Tokyo made a preliminary agreement on Wednesday that they will discuss the issue of a rising number of Chinese ships monitoring fishing in waters near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua and Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, reached the agreement when they met at the headquarters of the LDP, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported. Nikai told reporters after the meeting that Cheng said there are rich fishing resources in the sea near the Diaoyu Islands, and Chinese fishermen have "caught a good harvest". Cheng visited the LDP headquarters to congratulate Nikai on his inauguration as secretary-general. "Nikai, who has communication channels with high-ranking Chinese officials, is seen as a figure friendly to China," Kyodo said. Japan has been nervous about the Chinese ships that are accompanying fishing vessels in that area, warning that relations were "deteriorating badly". Cheng has been summoned by the Japanese Foreign Ministry several times since Aug 5, while Japan has protested to China through various channels since then. The number of Chinese coast guard ships around the Diaoyu Islands rose to 13 on Tuesday, according to the Japanese coast guard - a record number since China started sending ships to the region in September 2012 after Japan "nationalized" the islands. Cheng responded that it is "natural" for the ships to operate in Chinese territory. According to The Associated Press, Cheng said on Tuesday that the increase in China's fleet was to oversee the increased activity of Chinese fishing boats. Fishing season in the East China Sea has begun since Aug 1. The Japanese coast guard on Thursday spotted more than 200 Chinese fishing ships in waters near the Diaoyu Islands, where both Chinese and Japanese fishing ships are allowed to operate, according to an agreement between the countries. Xu Jingbo, bureau chief of Japan's Asia News Agency in Tokyo, said in his blog that Cheng's remarks revealed that the Chinese government ships were actually there to administer the large number of fishing vessels that rushed to the East China Sea since the fishing season started to avoid incidents. "It seems that Japan did not know, or ignored, this important fact," Xu said. ^ top ^

China confirms fishing boat crash near Diaoyu Islands (Xinhua)
2016-08-11
Six crew members of a sunken Chinese fishing boat saved by Japan have been handed over to China, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed late Thursday night. China is continuing searching for others still missing, spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a statement. A Chinese fishing boat sank after colliding with a Greek cargo ship in the East China Sea Thursday morning, said the Foreign Ministry quoting an announcement by the China Coast Guard and China Maritime Search and Rescue Center. The crash occurred in waters about 70 kilometers northwest of China's Diaoyu Islands, according to reports. Both China and Japan sent out government ships for rescue work. "China appreciates Japan's cooperation and humanitarian spirit displayed in the rescue operation," she said. ^ top ^

China's new scholarship to sponsor students from Belt & Road Initiative nations (Xinhua)
2016-08-11
The central government will establish a Belt and Road scholarship, which will sponsor students from countries along the routes to study in China, according to an action plan publicized Thursday. The scholarship will sponsor 10,000 foreign students each year over the next five years, according to an action plan on education cooperation, published by the Ministry of Education. In the next three years, the government will also sponsor 2,500 Chinese students to study in Belt and Road initiative nations each year, according to the document. The Belt and Road initiative refers to the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. It will be a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes. The action plan also listed projects that would see the joint founding of schools and training for teachers and other professionals. ^ top ^

MoD slams US for Sino-Russian drill comments (Global Times)
2016-08-11
China said Wednesday increasing US military deployment in the region causes provocation, in response to a senior US Navy official's criticism of next month's planned Sino-Russian naval exercises in the South China Sea next month. "The drill is routine between China and Russia, and does not target any third party," the Ministry of National Defense told the Global Times Wednesday. On the contrary, the rise in US military deployment in the South China Sea on so-called freedom of navigation missions provokes China politically and militarily, sabotaging regional peace and stability, according to the department. The joint drill's location is not conducive to "increasing regional stability," US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift was quoted by the Associated Press as saying on Tuesday. "There are other places those exercises could have been conducted," Swift said, adding that he was confident the US Navy would continue to sail close to China's islands in what are called freedom of navigation missions. The drill will consolidate and develop the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, deepen pragmatic and friendly cooperation between the two militaries, and enhance the capabilities of the two navies to jointly deal with maritime security threats, defense ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said last month. ^ top ^

US backs Japan in row over Chinese ships sailing close to disputed islands in East China Sea (SCMP)
2016-08-11
The United States has expressed opposition to any attempt to undermine Japan's administration of a group islands in the East China Sea after Chinese government ships sailed close by despite repeated protests by Tokyo. “We oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan's administration of the Senkaku Islands,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said at a press briefing on Wednesday. Trudeau reaffirmed the US position that Washington does not take sides on the issue of the sovereignty on the islands, but they fall under the Japan-US security treaty, meaning the United States will defend Japan in the event of any emergency over the territory, which Beijing claims and calls the Diaoyu. “The Senkaku Islands have been under Japanese administration since the reversion of Okinawa in 1972. They fall within the scope of Article Five of the 1960 US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security,” she said. Seven Chinese government vessels and over 200 fishing vessels had been spotted operating in the zone just beyond Japanese waters around the islands by Wednesday afternoon, according to Japanese Coast Guard officials. “We are in close communication with the Japanese as allies and are also concerned about the increase of Chinese coastguard vessels in the vicinity of the islands,” Trudeau said. China, which maintains the islands have been its territory since ancient times, says it is a matter of course that Chinese vessels operate in waters near their country's jurisdiction. ^ top ^

China dissatisfied with EU statement on conviction of Chinese citizens on charges of state subversion (Xinhua)
2016-08-10
The Chinese Mission to the European Union (EU) here on Wednesday expressed its strong dissatisfaction over a statement issued recently by the European External Action Service (EEAS) on the conviction of Chinese Citizens on charges of state subversion. "China enshrines the principle of rule of law. In China, all people are equal before the law. Anyone who breaks the law shall be brought to justice, regardless of his/her occupation," said a spokesperson when responding to the statement issued on Aug. 5 by the EU side. The spokesperson said that China's judicial authorities handle cases in accordance with the law, while protecting every legitimate right of the suspects, noting that as proved by sufficient evidences, the persons in the case mentioned by the EEAS' statement have violated the Chinese law, and they have acknowledged that in public. "By making irresponsible accusation against the normal operation of Chinese judicial authorities, the EU actually goes against the spirit of the rule of law. The EU's statement constitutes serious intervention into China's judicial sovereignty. The Chinese side is firmly opposed to and will not accept this kind of accusation," said the spokesperson. "We urge the EU side to stop meddling in China's judicial sovereignty and domestic affairs, and to work with China to ensure the healthy development of China-EU relations," said the Chinese side. ^ top ^

Chinese-built railways in Africa become model of cooperation: FM (Xinhua)
2016-08-10
Railway lines built by Chinese firms in African countries are becoming a model of China-Africa cooperation in industrial capacity, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during his visit to Kenya on Wednesday. Wang cited the Nairobi-Mombasa railway line as an example during a joint press conference with his Kenyan counterpart Amina Mohamed after their talks and a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta. The railway line, funded by China and being built by a Chinese company, will run from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to the capital Nairobi, and a new deal has been signed to extend it to the country's western border. Construction of the modern rail is being carried out in line with Chinese standards with Chinese equipment being used, Wang said. "Once completed next year, it will be one of the railway lines with the highest standard, quality and cost effectiveness in Africa," he said. Wang said the railway suited the requirements for Kenya's development and was part of the fruits of China-Kenya cooperation. Construction of the railway line has created more than 40,000 jobs for locals, with some 20,000 local employees having received training in related skills. It has contributed to about 1.5 percent of Kenya's gross domestic product (GDP), Wang said. Along the railway, fourteen wildlife passes have been designed to address concerns over the animals' free movement, he added. Wang said the Chinese-built railway lines had established themselves in many African countries, citing those in Nigeria and Angola and one linking Addis Ababa with the port of Djibouti. The Chinese-built railway lines were also entering countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America, he said, adding that Chinese standards and Chinese equipment were gaining recognition in more and more countries. ^ top ^

Hinkley Point "test of mutual trust" between Britain, China: ambassador (Xinhua)
2016-08-10
The Chinese-British relationship is at a crucial historical juncture and mutual trust should be treasured even more, Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming said Tuesday. "If Britain's openness is a condition for bilateral cooperation, then mutual trust is the very foundation on which this is built," Liu wrote in a signed article published Tuesday by the Financial Times. Last month, the British government announced it would delay the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant program until autumn to review the proposed project in southwest England. Liu said "clarification" is needed on several basic facts regarding the project, noting that "nuclear power is central to UK energy policy aimed at meeting the country's long-term needs." "Hinkley Point is not the result of some whimsical idea or rushed decision; it is the considered outcome of a mutually beneficial tripartite partnership between Britain, France and China," the diplomat stressed. Before the three parties reached the agreement, it had gone through research, verification and approval by the authorities in Britain and France as well as the European Commission, Liu added. "There have also been extensive and thorough discussions by all involved and in the media regarding the project's cost-effectiveness, its timeline and the safety of the technology," he continued. The ambassador also pointed to the strengths of the China General Nuclear Power Corporation. "This is a partner with world-class technology, the necessary financial resources and rich experience in the management and operation of nuclear plants," he said. On security, Liu wrote: "The UK has a state of the art supervision regime and legal system" and its regulatory authorities are "experienced and adequately resourced" to ensure the safety of nuclear plants. "The three Hinkley Point partners are members of the International Atomic Energy Agency," he said. "So, the French and Chinese partners are subjecting themselves to both international and British standards." Liu pointed out that multinational cooperation is accepted practice across the globe in building nuclear plants and many of China's nuclear reactors are built in cooperation with the U.S., Canadian, French and Russian companies. "Thanks to the safeguards of international standards, there has never been a concern that foreign companies might control China's nuclear reactors," he explained. "The rapid progress of China's nuclear power industry is proof of the success of international cooperation." The ambassador stressed that the Chinese-British relationship is "at a crucial historical juncture" and mutual trust should be treasured even more. "I hope the UK will keep its door open to China and that the British government will continue to support Hinkley Point -- and come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed smoothly," he wrote. "As long as both sides cherish what has been achieved and continue to expand and deepen our cooperation across the board, bilateral relations will maintain their strong momentum and work for the well being of both the Chinese and British people," the diplomat concluded. ^ top ^

US warship visit 'eases tensions' (Global Times)
2016-08-10
Chinese experts said the first visit on Monday by a US warship to China since the arbitration court ruled on the South China Sea issue is a sign of easing Sino-US relations. The missile destroyer USS Benfold held signals exercises with the Chinese Navy after arriving in a port in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province, and the Chinese side held a reception on the ship, according to the Associated Press. "This port visit is a tremendous opportunity to build relationships between sailors based on shared interests and perspectives," Benfold commander Justin Harts said in a statement released on the US Navy's official website Sunday. The visit, which comes on the heels of China's participation in the Rim of the Pacific 2016 maritime exercises, is a sign the two countries are willing to control disparities and actively push the relationship between navies forward, Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times on Monday. The AP report said Harts refused to comment on the disputes in the South China Sea. Having military exchanges with China also benefits the US, that's why it continues conducting such activities despite calls in the US to punish China for its rejection of the South China Sea ruling, Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Monday. China rejected last month's ruling on the South China Sea by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and refused to take part in the arbitration. It has strongly criticized US involvement in the case. Wu said that China develops its military to safeguard its sovereignty and interests, while the US wants to contain China with help from its allies, but the two sides need to maintain relatively stable relations to avoid accidental military conflicts. Liu Feng, an expert on Chinese maritime issues, told the Global Times both China and the US have strengths on the South China Sea issue - China is geographically closer to the region and enjoys greater economic influence, while the US has a political, military and diplomatic edge. Chinese and American troops and officials will visit the Benfold, conduct professional exchanges and participate in sports activities, an insider told the Global Times on Tuesday, adding that the two sides will hold joint exercises, including maritime search and rescue drills. ^ top ^

S.Korean lawmakers cancel press conference after THAAD talks in Beijing (Global Times)
2016-08-10
Six South Korean lawmakers, in Beijing to discuss the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) missile system with a Chinese think tank, abruptly canceled a scheduled press conference Tuesday in the wake of the meeting. The sudden cancelation may show caution from the lawmakers and the extreme sensitivity of the issue, after South Korean President Park Geun-hye, politicians and members of the public had called them "traitors" or "flunkies for China," observers said. The lawmakers were led by Kim Young-ho, a member of the South Korean National Assembly's Security and Public Administration Committee, and are from the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea (MPK). They met with scholars from the Pangoal Institution in western Beijing for three hours on Tuesday morning to discuss issues surrounding the controversial missile deployment, which China strongly opposes. The meeting was planned to be open to journalists and have a Q&A session, but it ended up behind closed doors, and instead of the promised press conference, a joint statement was issued, saying only that the two sides had deep and frank communication on issues affecting Sino-South Korean ties. The lawmakers, who arrived on Monday and are expected to leave Wednesday, did not meet with Chinese officials. Kim Byung-wook, one of the lawmakers, told reporters upon arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport that "we have come here to study with those who are interested in issues related to establishing peace and order in Northeast Asia, including North Korea's denuclearization, and make mutual exchanges," Yonhap News Agency reported Monday. The visit comes as tensions between the two nations rise in the wake of Seoul's July decision to deploy the THAAD system in South Korea by the end of 2017. China has repeatedly lodged strong protests against the decision, citing the missile system's threat to China and the region's strategic security interests, as well as the negative impact on the process for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Although the Chinese government has not imposed any official sanctions following the announcement of the THAAD deployment, public calls to boycott South Korean pop stars and products have been growing in China, with the tourist and entertainment sectors already showing signs of impact. Domestic pressures: The South Korea public remains divided over the THAAD deployment. Koo Jaryong, chief correspondent of South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo, told the Global Times that some 40 percent of people are against it, although for varying reasons. But the visit to Beijing by MPK politicians also received strong opposition. After arriving in Beijing, many South Korean protestors held banners with the word "traitors" to protest the visit, according to a South Korean journalist who is following the group's trip. Following Monday's criticism of the lawmakers as "sympathizing with the opinions of China as well as North Korea," Park on Tuesday targeted the opposition again, saying criticism over the THAAD deployment is not only stirring up the public, but is also risking people's lives under the threat of North Korea's nuclear weapons and rockets. The New York Times reported on Monday that Park's governing Saenuri Party called the six lawmakers "flunkies for China." Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Shanghai-based Fudan University told the Global Times that it is not helpful for Park to use such negative language as it won't improve relations between Beijing and Seoul. "China's anti-THAAD position and tough response to South Korea has made several South Korean politicians consider engaging with China over the issue. This is better than putting off the problem," Zheng said. The South Korean government has tried to paint the anti-THAAD protesters as "traitors receiving support from foreign forces" to damage its political opposition in the run-up to next year's general election, as currently, the opposition holds the majority in parliament, Lü Chao, an expert in Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. Lü said he believes the caution after the meeting was caused by pressure the lawmakers received from their own country. "Park's administration is trying to use THAAD to push China to impose heavier sanctions against North Korea, and many South Korean scholars are trying to convince China that the fundamental reason for the THAAD deployment is North Korea's nuclear weapons," Lü said. However, Lü said that the deployment, in addition to damaging China's national security, may provoke Pyongyang even further. He lauded the six lawmakers for coming and trying to establish a dialogue, despite the strong opposition from home. ^ top ^

China building aircraft hangars on disputed islands in South China Sea, says US think tank (SCMP)
2016-08-09
China appears to be building reinforced aircraft hangars on reclaimed islands it controls in a disputed area of the South China Sea, according to a US think tank. Satellite photographs taken in late July show the construction of hangars on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly chain of islands and some have already been completed, according to a report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Although no military aircraft have been spotted, each of the three small islands would soon have enough hangar space for 24 fighter jets, plus three to four larger planes, the think tank said. China has built up the three reefs to become the largest man-made land masses in the Spratlys, each with a runway more than 3,000 metres long. The hangars, in three different sizes, could accommodate any plane used by China's air force, the think tank said. ' These include the J-11 and Su-30 fighters, H-6 bombers, the H-6U refuelling tanker and the air force's largest aircrafts –the Y-20 and Il-76 transport planes. All the hangars showed signs of structural strengthening, the think tank said. China has tested the airstrips with civilian aircraft, but has not deployed military planes except for one transport aircraft that briefly landed at Fiery Cross Reef in April to pick up three sick workers. “Except for a brief visit by a military transport plane to Fiery Cross Reef earlier this year, there is no evidence that Beijing has deployed military aircraft to these outposts,” the report said. “But the rapid construction of reinforced hangars at all three features indicates that this is likely to change.” Other facilities have also been built on the reefs in recent months, according to the think tank. A statement from China's Ministry of Defence said construction work on the reefs was “multi-purposed and comprehensive”. “Apart from meeting necessary military defence needs, [the facilities] will serve more for various civilian purposes,” the statement said. ' Beijing-based naval researcher Li Jie said the hangars were necessary for long-term aircraft deployment and operation, as well as ground logistics and maintenance. “Building supporting facilities should be part of the original plan,” he said. The images were taken less than two weeks after an international tribunal in The Hague ruled China's nine-dash line, which demarcates Beijing claims to most of the South China Sea, has no legal basis. The tribunal also declared that China's construction work on Mischief Reef violated the Philippines' sovereignty rights. Beijing refused to take part in the hearings, saying the tribunal had no legal jurisdiction. China has been sending air force planes to conduct “normalised” patrols over the disputed islands in recent weeks. Other countries with claims in the South China Sea include Vietnam and Malaysia. ^ top ^

Tokyo warns Beijing over Chinese maritime push near Diaoyu Islands (SCMP)
2016-08-09
Tensions between China and Japan flared on Tuesday as Tokyo's top diplomat warned Beijing's envoy that Chinese activity near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea could worsen ties “markedly”. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida summoned Chinese ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua to protest against China's deployment of a record number of government vessels to disputed waters near the Senkakus, known as the Diaoyus in China. Observers said the developments would pose a threat to bilateral ties, and could put security in Northeast Asia at risk. Kishida told Cheng that the environment surrounding Sino-Japanese ties was deteriorating markedly, and China had tried to change the status quo unilaterally, Reuters reported. After the meeting, Cheng said he told Kishida the islands were an integral part of China's territory and the dispute should be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue. “I told him that... it is natural that Chinese ships conduct activity in the waters in question,” he said. “I also told him both countries need to work on dialogue through diplomatic channels so as not to make things more complicated.” On Monday, 15 Chinese ships were spotted near the islands, after some 230 Chinese fishing boats and seven coastguard ships – four apparently armed – sailed into the waters on Saturday. Analysts said the move suggested China was taking a harder line in response to what it perceived as pressure and interference from Japan in South China Sea disputes. Japan has called on China to abide by an international tribunal ruling last month that dismissed Beijing's “nine-dash line” claim over much of the South China Sea. The case was lodged by the Philippines but Japan is locked in territorial disputes with China over the East China Sea. Lian Degui, a Japanese studies specialist at Shanghai International Studies University, said Japan accused China of not following international law to pressure Beijing into making concessions on the East China Sea. “But such efforts will only make China take a tougher stand … China will not give in Japanese pressure,” Lian said. Huang Dahui, director of Renmin University's East Asia Studies Centre, said ties between the two countries would continue to worsen, presenting further diplomatic challenges to China. Huang said that at a special legislative session next month the Japanese government, led by the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was likely to revise its constitution to allow a more active military because of the threat posed by China. “Abe is also likely to step up his efforts … and use international meetings to spread the idea of the China threat,” he said. Abe is expected in China next month for a Group of 20 summit, where he might meet President Xi Jinping. Tokyo aimed for high-level talks with Beijing, Kyodo reported, citing a Japanese government source. “But with the current strained relations, such meetings would be mere formality,” Huang said. ^ top ^

New lab will explore South China Sea resources (China Daily)
2016-08-09
China will open a laboratory in Hainan province in November that will focus on the use of marine resources in the South China Sea, a provincial official said. The State Key Laboratory of Marine Resources Utilization in the South China Sea, initiated by the Hainan Science and Technology Department and Hainan University, must finish recruitment for the research team before operations officially begin, said Shi Yiyun, head of the department. The laboratory will study how to use marine bio-resources, new materials and marine mineral resources as well as how to resourcefully use marine information, Shi told China Daily. It will also focus on the use of marine organisms for medical purposes and ways to protect the marine ecology, he said. With the help of the laboratory, China will make better use of marine resources in the South China Sea and cultivate more marine talent, he added. Li Jianbao, head the laboratory and also president of Hainan University, said that the facility will be built into a key national laboratory to provide support in both technology and talent for China's South China Sea strategy. "There will be around 40 researchers in the laboratory, but we are going to select 24 first from relative areas within the university, and introduce talent from home and abroad later," said Chen Yongjun, deputy director of the laboratory. The laboratory, with a planned five-year operation, will receive 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) annually from Hainan's provincial government for construction, daily operations, research projects and talent recruitment. "The laboratory will be application-oriented, which fits the nation's strategies for the Belt and Road Initiative and the South China Sea, and it surely will play an important role in using the marine resources of the South China Sea," said Huang Bangqin, a professor of marine biology at Xiamen University's Environment and Ecology College. Huang said the laboratory will also have a positive effect on China's exercising sovereignty rights in the South China Sea. "Because only when we know better about the South China Sea can we better safeguard our nation's rights," he said. ^ top ^

China's US$1.4 trillion 'One Belt, One Road' set to make bigger impact than US' Marshall Plan to rebuild post-war Europe (SCMP)
2016-08-08
China's ambition to revive an ancient trading route stretching from Asia to Europe could leave an economic legacy bigger than the Marshall Plan or the European Union's enlargement, according to a new analysis. Dubbed “One Belt, One Road”, the plan to build rail, highways and ports will embolden China's soft-power status by spreading economic prosperity during a time of heightened political uncertainty in both the United States and European Union, according to Stephen L. Jen, chief executive officer at Eurizon SLJ Capital, who estimates a value of US$1.4 trillion for the project. It will also boost trading links and help internationalise the yuan as banks open branches along the route, according to Jen. China's one belt, one road plan covers more than half of the population, 75 per cent of energy resources and 40 per cent of world's GDP( “This is a quintessential example of a geopolitical event that will likely be consequential for the global economy and the balance of political power in the long run,” said Jen, a former International Monetary Fund economist. Reaching from east to west, the Silk Road Economic Belt will extend to Europe through Central Asia and the Maritime Silk Road will link sea lanes to Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. While China's authorities aren't calling their Silk Road a new Marshall Plan, that's not stopping comparisons with the US effort to rebuild western Europe after the second world war. China's one belt, one road initiative set to transform economy by connecting with trading partners along ancient Silk Road( With the potential to touch on 64 countries, 4.4 billion people and around 40 per cent of the global economy, Jen estimates that the “One Belt, One Road” project will be 12 times bigger in absolute dollar terms than the Marshall Plan. China may spend as much as 9 per cent of gross domestic product – about double the US' boost to post-war Europe in those terms. “The 'One Belt, One Road' project, in terms of its size, could be multiple times larger and more ambitious than the Marshall Plan or the European enlargement,” said Jen. INFOGRAPHIC: How One Belt, One Road will give China's developing neighbours easier access to Chinese-made products( It's not all upside. Undertaking an expansive plan like this one will inevitably run the risk of corruption, project delays and local opposition. Chinese-backed projects have frequently run into trouble before, especially in Africa, and there's no guarantee that potential recipient nations will put up their hand for the aid. In addition, resurrecting the trading route will need funding during a time of slowing growth and rising bad loans in the nation's banks. Sending money abroad when it's needed at home may not have an enduring appeal. Huge potential gains of China's 'One Belt, One Road' are worth the risks( Still, at least China has a plan. “The fact that this is a 30-40 year plan is remarkable as China is the only country with any long-term development plan, and this underscores the policy long-termism in China, in contrast to the dominance of policy short-termism in much of the West,” Jen said. And that's a win-win for soft power. “The 'One Belt, One Road' project could be a huge PR exercise that could win over government and public support in these countries,” he said. ^ top ^

Arabic world keen on more cultural exchanges with China (Xinhua)
2016-08-06
Arab League's Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) expects further cultural cooperation in more fields between China and the Arabic world, the organization's general director said on Friday. Abdullah Hamed Muhareb, General Director of the ALECSO, said the organization's objective is to spread its culture to the world, praising China as a country with a distinguished culture, which makes China a cultural power. Muhareb appreciated China's efforts for cultural communications with Arabic countries, saying by the means of the culture and the dialogue, the two parts could share their cultures and reach a better understanding. Establishing a culture and education center in China specialized on Arabic language teaching is one of ALESCO's priority projects, in order to make a direct access for the Chinese youth to the Arabic culture, said Muhareb. The restoration of the historical monuments is a new field in which China, with its well-known expertise, could help Arabic countries where many historical sites are in damage, he stressed. Muhareb also showed his concerns over the neglect of education in some Arabic countries during past three decades, which leads to radical ideas and some young people could not judge the wrong and the right. "The education system must be renovated and upgraded from the training of teachers to the method of teaching," concluded Muhared, adding a viable, solid and revolutionary education system in the Arabic countries could help them to share the universal values of human beings. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Prospective judges to get more scrutiny (China Daily)
2016-08-12
Top court moves to improve case hearings by drawing from ranks of experienced lawyers. The Supreme People's Court said it will more thoroughly research the backgrounds and abilities of lawyers seeking to be judges, in a move to support a rule on the selection of judges that was adopted in June by the central leadership. The rule says selecting judges, prosecutors and legislators from the ranks of lawyers should be encouraged because lawyers effectively combine judicial theory and practice. It also clarifies that some lawyers cannot be judges, including those whose spouses or children have moved overseas, those with criminal records or those who have committed disciplinary violations. The top court said on Thursday that its department that selects judges has studied the rule since it was published, saying it will continue to work on building a strong, competent legal community. "We've smoothed exchanges between judges, lawyers and law professors over the past decade to increase communication and identify talent," said a department official who asked not to be named. In 2006, for example, 15 law professionals and lawyers were named to serve as judges under the top court after a public selection process. An additional three, including an attorney, started working under the highest judicial chamber in 2014, the official said. He said a more rigorous selection process in researching judicial candidates will be followed under the new rule. "We've established a special committee to test a candidate's legal knowledge and his or her understanding of judicial policies at the beginning," he said. "Then, we will research the background of the candidate and his or her family to make sure they are not people who could influence the court," he said. All procedures in the selection process will be conducted transparently, he added. Bi Yuqian, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law, applauded the rule and said the measures should be extended across the country. "Judges should be people with rich experience in solving disputes, but now most of them go to work after graduating from law school. In other words, they lack practical legal experience. That is a lawyer's big advantage," Bi said. Selecting judges from the ranks of lawyers follows the practice in many countries, including Britain and the United States, he said, adding that this will help courts improve the quality of hearings. "It's reasonable that lawyers whose spouses or children have moved overseas be barred from serving as judges," he said, because it's hard to tell whether they transferred property or did other things that would call their ethics into question from litigants. But Cheng Yi, a Beijing lawyer, said the goal of drawing more lawyers to the judicial bench may not be practical, "because lawyers tend to prefer tackling cases they are interested in, rather than taking every case allocated in a court." China has almost 300,000 lawyers and about 200,000 judges. ^ top ^

Beijing brings in strict new migration policy to cut city's population (SCMP)
2016-08-12
Beijing yesterday issued strict migration rules to keep the city's population in check. Under a system similar to ones adopted in other megacities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou, a migrant will be graded according to their contributions to the city and qualifications such as education or age. He or she cannot obtain permanent residency, which is tied to a series of social benefits that migrants do not get, without gaining enough grades. To begin with, a non-Beijing Chinese resident must be formally employed and paying into local social security funds, including pension, health care and housing, for seven years continuously before he or she “is qualified to apply”. Meanwhile, an applicant has to have a temporary Beijing residence in hand, have no criminal record and be below retirement age. Permanent residency in China's top cities such as Beijing and Shanghai allows easier access to better education, health care and pensions, but is often beyond reach for most migrant workers and even some professionals because of rigid control and tedious paperwork requirements. A permanent household registration, known as a hukou, in Beijing has become even harder to obtain in recent years as the government tries to shrink the crowded capital by shutting down wholesale markets, closing polluting and labour-intensive factories and even ordering the Beijing municipal government apparatus to relocate to a new town about 30km away from downtown. Under the latest rules, to take effect from the beginning of next year, migrants are also encouraged to move to the suburbs. They can earn extra grades if they choose to relocate from downtown to suburban areas, and double the grades if they move both their job and home there. Educational background and awards in national-level competitions in technology, culture and entrepreneurship are most valued. A PhD can gain 37 grades, and someone who wins a national award can be rewarded with up to 12 grades. The number of grades that would finally make a resident a Beijinger was to be determined based on the city's population control target each year, the document said. ' This meant the city government would set a specific line for each year and pick those above the line, said Sheng Guangyao, a researcher from the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “I don't think many people will be given the status in the first years after the policy is adopted – 10,000 to 20,000 at most, I would say.” “From the perspective of a citizen, such controls are unreasonable, but in terms of the issues megacities are facing now, there's no alternative,” he said. While China is encouraging rural migrant workers to become urban residents in small cities as a way to clear up property inventories, the paths to migration to top-tier Chinese cities are getting narrower. Guangzhou issued hukou to merely 5,000 migrants last year. In Shanghai, which introduced a similar scheme in 2009, about 26,000 people had gained a local hukou by the end of last year, mayor Yang Xiong told a press conference. Amid rising living costs and stricter population control measures, the number of migrants in Shanghai declined for the first time last year, falling by 150,000. ^ top ^

Chinese lawmaker seeks 130m yuan compensation from police for 'illegal' detention (SCMP)
2016-08-11
A lawmaker in northwest China is claiming 130 million yuan (HK$150 million) from a local police department as compensation for being “illegally” detained for 13 days, according to mainland media reports. Hu Xufeng, 36, a member of the People's Congress of Shangnan county, Shaanxi province, claimed the unusually high level of compensation because his detention caused “destructive damage” to his business, he told news portal Thepaper.cn. “There was a financial dispute between me and Xue Yanhe, a policeman with Yanan's National Security Brigade,” he said of his detention in 2013. “The city's police department treated it as a criminal case and locked me up for 13 days.” Hu is chairman of the Shaanxi Honoring Industrial Group, which operates in many areas including construction, media, hotels and electronics. He was arrested for suspected fraud by police in Yanan, a neighbouring city, where Xue was a policeman, after he failed to repay a 4 million yuan debt to Xue on time in 2012, Hu said. He could not pay the debt because he had been very ill and was short of cash, he said. Hu was arrested in Shangnan in August 2013. The detention was changed to residential surveillance in a hotel in Yanan two days after Hu was arrested. He had to sell group properties at a low price to pay the urgent debt, and was released on bail two days after he repaid Xue. Hu's position as a congress member guaranteed legal immunity until the local legislature approved his detention. SS[The case] ruined my reputation, my business partners are gone and it caused me huge loss Hu Xufeng The People's Congress of Shangqiu County filed a letter in November 2013 to protest what they described as the “illegal detention” of Hu. The letter said the congress would protect Hu's legal rights if the unlawful practice was not corrected in time, and the Yanan police terminated Hu's bail status two days later. The official police notice said the bail was lifted because “Hu was found to be a member of the Shangnan People's Congress after the bail started”. However, Hu claimed he repeatedly emphasised his membership in the local legislature. Xue was investigated by the Yanan police department regarding the case in 2013 and was fired in December. The case against Hu was dismissed in December 2015. Hu said he suffered greatly because of the detention and filed the claim for 130 million yuan compensation. “[The case] ruined my reputation, my business partners are gone and it caused me huge loss,” he said. “I want them to know how seriously this case affected me.” ^ top ^

G20 summit in China "couldn't have come at a better time" -- Chilean diplomat (Xinhua)
2016-08-11
A G20 summit to be hosted by the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September "couldn't have come at a better time," Chile's Ambassador to China Jorge Heine has said. In an article published on Wednesday in Chilean daily La Tercera, the top diplomat stressed the relevance of the group of the "world's leading economies, which represent 85 percent of global GDP, 80 percent of international trade and 65 percent of the world population." The G20, which is meeting amid a global economic slowdown, was established in 2008 amid a global financial crisis, "and played a key role in containing its worst impacts," said Heine, underscoring the timeliness of the upcoming summit. Since then, "it has emerged as an important forum that brings the leaders of developed and emerging economies together around a single table," said Heine. China's hosting of the summit, he said, is significant for two main reasons. "This is the first time that China is serving as host, confirming the country's increasingly central role on the diplomatic circuit," Heine said. In addition, choosing to hold the event in east China's Hangzhou, instead of one of the country's larger, more economically developed cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, neatly encapsulates the message the Asian giant wants to send to the rest of the world. "China is betting on innovation as a springboard for growth and development in coming years, and Hangzhou, an ancient imperial capital, is a great center of innovation. Among other things, it is home to the headquarters of Alibaba, the e-commerce giant," said Heine. In fact, Jack Ma, its founder and president, is set "to play a starring role at the summit," which is taking place under the banner "Towards an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy." According to Heine, conventional wisdom held that BRICS, the bloc of emerging economies formed in the early 2000s by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, was no more than a flash in the pan, and the Western economies would continue to be the central axis around which global finance and the world economy would spin. However, "Brexit (Britain's decision to exit the European Union) and the protectionist and populist tendencies we see emerging in the United States and Europe show the error of this point of view," said the ambassador. "The reality is that the world increasingly depends on the emerging economies, especially the Asian giants China and India," Heine said, adding foreign affairs expert and author Gideon Rachman highlights this trend in his recent book "Easternization: War and Peace in the Asian Century." Between 1995 and 2005, international trade grew 6 percent a year, double the rate of global gross domestic product (GDP). But from 2012 to 2015, trade growth has failed to surpass 3 percent, noted Heine, adding that China is well-placed to spearhead the global drive to turn around the slowdown. "China, one of the economies that have most benefited from globalization, is in a privileged position to promote an agenda of this type. It is about promoting innovation, increases in productivity, and a more open world economy," said Heine. "If there is one thing the world does not need, it is to listen to the siren song of protectionism, which is heard so often these days in some developed countries," he added. At the Sept.4-5 summit, Heine said, "China has the great opportunity to show its capacity to lead in the governance of the world economy." ^ top ^

163,000 punished for discipline violations in H1 (Xinhua)
2016-08-11
The Communist Party of China's (CPC) top discipline watchdog said Thursday that 163,000 people were punished for violating Party and political discipline in the first half of 2016. Officials at various levels were punished, including 41 at provincial and ministerial levels, as well as 96,000 others from rural areas and enterprises, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a statement. In 2015, 336,000 people across the country received punishment due to breach of Party and political discipline, with 14,000 suspected of criminal activity turned over to the judiciary, the CCDI said. ^ top ^

Nuclear fuel plant on hold in eastern China after thousands protest (SCMP)
2016-08-10
The authorities in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, have suspended plans to build a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant after several days of street protests against the project. Observers said the decision could put other nuclear projects under greater public scrutiny, and urged backers of similar schemes to improve transparency. The Lianyungang city government announced the halt in a one-sentence statement issued early Wednesday morning. “The government has decided to suspend preliminary work on site selection for the nuclear recycling project,” the statement said. It came after thousands of protesters launched a series of street demonstrations from Saturday, protesting about the potential radiation risks and the alleged lack of transparency in the decision-making process for the project. Residents used social media platforms to question the process but the comments were soon deleted by censors. “What if there is any radiation leakage? Why does the government want to make a decision on such a big issue on its own, a decision that will affect future generations?” they asked. China National Nuclear Corporation planned to use technology supplied by French firm Areva to develop the spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. The companies previously said construction would start in 2020 and be completed by 2030, but had not settled on a site. The process has been shrouded in secrecy, with Lianyungang residents discovering that their city could be the site for the plant after the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence announced in a press release that a deputy head visited the city on July 26 and claimed “much progress has been made on site selection”. ' The Lianyungang city government issued a statement on Sunday to try to calm the public, saying the plans were still at an early stage and no location had been confirmed. Sporadic protests continued on Monday and Tuesday, with video footage posted online showing police mobilised to protect the city government's office building from protesters. Xiamen University energy policy specialist Lin Boqiang said the plan was shelved as a result of a lack of transparency and communication by the government and state-owned nuclear companies. “Public concerns can be contagious and spill over to other cities, as has been the case with various incinerator and PX [chemical] projects,” he said. Public concerns can be contagious and spill over to other cities Xiamen University energy policy specialist Lin Boqiang Many local governments have been forced to scrap plans for such projects after public protests over health and safety concerns. A series of deadly blasts at industrial sites over the years has only worsened public fears and deepened distrust of government. “China's PX industry suffered a severe setback. If the developers of nuclear projects do not learn a lesson, they could be faced with similar problems in future,” Lin said. China is the world's most active builder of nuclear power plants. It has 32 reactors in operation, 22 under construction and more planned. The government has also spent heavily to build up its ability to produce nuclear fuel and process the waste. ^ top ^

Chinese official urges to 'sinicize' religion, fight foreign hostile forces (Global Times)
2016-08-10
A senior Chinese religious administration official urged that religion be "sinicized" to avoid hostile foreign forces' attempts to alter China's ideology and political system through the use of religion, and called on believers to fight religious extremism. Some Western countries distort China's religious situation in the name of "religious human rights," and foreign hostile forces use religion to infiltrate China, Wang Zuoan, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, wrote in the Study Times. "The three evil forces - terrorism, extremism and separatism - try to spread extreme thoughts and incite terrorist activities in China … Authorities should not sit back on religious issues since it will lead to serious consequences," Wang said in the article, citing the Dalai Lama group of using religion to split China. Wang noted that "sinicized religion" is an effective way to fight foreign hostile forces and he appealed to religious groups and believers to uphold the Party's leadership and the socialist system, safeguard the unity of Han and ethnic minorities and social stability, and serve the national interest. He also said the government protects religious freedom and manages religious affairs according to law. In its 2016 annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom claims China's religious freedom has recently deteriorated, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said "the Chinese government fully respects and protects its citizens' right to religious worship based on law." ^ top ^

China to spend 430 billion yuan on cleaning up its water supply (SCMP)
2016-08-09
China plans to spend a total of 430 billion yuan (HK$499 billion) on some 4,800 separate projects to improve the quality of its water supplies, the environment ministry said on Monday. The Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a notice on its website that the central government had already allocated 13 billion yuan for this year, which would be used mainly to improve urban drinking water and prevent pollution in China's major rivers. The notice did not give a time frame for the projects. China is spending heavily to improve the quality of its water supply as it tries to reverse the damage done by unregulated chemical run-offs, untreated wastewater and the excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers. Nearly two-thirds of its underground water and a third of its surface water is deemed unsuitable for human contact, according to a survey published last year. ' To tackle water pollution, there would also be an incentive system that would reward provinces for completing projects on time and cut funding to those regions that failed to spend their allocations, the ministry said. China has struggled to create the incentives to persuade local governments to build water treatment plants, which are expensive but have a limited impact on local economic growth. Fears stemming from Beijing's crackdown on corruption have also slowed local infrastructure spending. ^ top ^

South-north diversion project alleviates Beijing summer water shortage (Global Times)
2016-08-09
China's south-to-north water diversion project has supplied 3.45 million cubic meters of water daily to Beijing so far this year, 24 percent more than the daily volume over the same period in 2015, helping to alleviate pressure on the capital's water supply during peak usage in summer. The daily volume of water that the project brought to Beijing increased from 2.78 million cubic meters in 2015 to 3.45 million cubic meters over the same period in 2016, the Beijing Daily reported Sunday. A total of 1.5 billion cubic meters of water has now been transferred to the city since the project was first launched in December 2014. With the help of the project, Beijing's daily water supply has increased to 3.72 million cubic meters, enough to meet citizens' needs during the peak demand in summer, an official from Beijing Water Authority told the Beijing Daily. However, the project has not been able to completely solve Beijing's water shortage, so the city is facilitating more projects to ensure a sufficient water supply, including promoting the usage of reprocessed waste water, said the official, who also appealed to citizens to save water. The south-to-north water diversion project draws water from China's longest river, the Yangtze, and reroutes it along eastern, middle and western routes to supply dry areas in the north. The diversion project now provides 70 percent of Beijing's water supply. According to the project's construction committee, more than 200 million cubic meters of water diverted from the south has been stored in Beijing's four reservoirs, including the Miyun Reservoir, Beijing's largest, according to the Beijing Daily. According to the Xinhua News Agency, the project is the world's largest of its kind at an estimated cost of 500 billion yuan ($77.4 billion). It was officially approved by the State Council in 2002. ^ top ^

Activists in profile: four faces of the Chinese rights movement (SCMP)
216-08-06
The Tianjin No 2 Intermediate People's Court this week convicted four rights advocates of subverting state power in the first trials to flow from last year's nationwide crackdown on legal activists. The defendants came from very different backgrounds, ranging from a former classmate of Politburo member and Guangdong Communist Party chief Hu Chunhua to a small-time vendor. HU SHIGEN: Hu Shigen, 61, a veteran activist and underground Christian church leader, was jailed for seven years on Wednesday for subversion. He was born into a poor family near Nanchang in Jiangxi. After the Cultural Revolution, Hu studied Chinese language at Peking University alongside Hu Chunhua, would later become a political rising star under former president Hu Jintao. Hu Shigen became a teacher at a language college in Beijing after he graduated and was quickly promoted to vice-departmental chairman. But his quiet life in academia was disrupted by the student-led pro-democracy movement in 1989. Two years after the protests, which ended in bloodshed in Tiananmen Square, Hu founded the Chinese Free Democratic Party, which was later declared by the government to be the biggest “counter-revolutionary ring” since 1989. In the months leading up to the third anniversary of the crackdown, Hu and others planned to distribute fliers in Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan on June 4 to protest against the bloodshed. But the plan was leaked and Hu was arrested as “the principal organiser of a counter-revolutionary ring”. He was jailed for 20 years and released after 16 years. Hu was taken away by the police on his way to a church gathering during last year's crackdown. “He took all the blame,” brother Hu Shuigen said. “He would rather accept another 20 years in jail than put others in trouble.” ZHOU SHIFENG: Zhou Shifeng, 51, set up the Fengrui law firm in Beijing in 2007, some 12 years after he began practising law. The firm was at the centre of last year's sweeping crackdown on rights activists and lawyers. Not much is known about his personal life and most of his close colleagues were also arrested. Some turned against him after they were released, making accusations about him either online or in publicly broadcast confessions. In 2008, Zhou represented victims in the baby milk powder scandal in which 300,000 children fell ill after consuming melamine-contaminated infant formula. Six died from kidney failure. Under Zhou's directorship, Fengrui took on many politically sensitive cases involving several outspoken dissidents, including artist Ai Weiwei, blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and ethnic Uygur scholar Ilham Tohti. Zhou's final case involved Zhang Miao, a news assistant for the German weekly Die Zeit, who was detained for nine months after helping the magazine cover the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong. Liu Xiaoyuan, Zhou's former colleague at Fengrui, described Zhou as a “passionate, warm-hearted, generous and upright” person. “He's very easy-going. When members of disadvantaged groups came to the office for legal advice, he always welcomed them warmly and bought them meals, irrespective of whether they were appointing our firm to represent their cases,” Liu said. ZHAI YANMIN: Rights advocate Zhai Yanmin, 55, was not well known before he was given a suspended three-year jail sentence for subversion this week. Wife Liu Ermin said Zhai's life changed two years ago when he started going to churches and helping petitioners get access to lawyers so they could seek justice. The work took up so much of his time that Zhai often did not have time for his business selling traditional Chinese medicine and medical appliances in Beijing. Zhai was taken away by the authorities in June last year and it took Liu six months to find out where he was held. She was barred from attending his court hearing on Tuesday. “I don't believe a single word of what he said in [the court],” she said, after seeing footage of the trial. “They're not the words my husband would use. He was the kindest man and has never done anything that his conscience wouldn't approve of in our 20-something years of marriage.” GOU HONGGUO: Businessman Gou Hongguo, 55, would still be living comfortably with his wife and one-year-old son if he had not helped the less privileged in society. But the Christian felt that he could not sit back while others did not have basics such as education, health care and retirement benefits. Gou's wife, Fan Lili, said her husband had neither political ambitions nor a grudge against the government, but had a natural desire to help others, especially those at “the bottom tier of society”. Fan said Gou was a very responsible person who would stand up for victims of injustice. “The accusations [against Gou] were ridiculous. I respect my husband's choice and what he did [for the petitioners],” Fan said from her home in Shanxi province. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang issues China's first local counterterrorism law (Global Times)
2016-08-05
The regional government of Xinjiang unveiled China's first local counterterrorism law Friday. Based on China's Counterterrorism Law, passed in December 2015, the regional law details and supplements the national law in defining terror activities and terrorists, security precautions, intelligence, investigations, countermeasures and punishment. The local rules, which feature measures to implement the nation's Counterterrorism Law in the region and contain 61 items in 10 chapters, took effect Aug. 1. The legislative commission of the regional people's congress said the new measures stress that religious extremism is the ideological basis of terrorism and must be prevented and punished. Nayim Yasen, head of the standing committee of the regional legislature, said Xinjiang, as the main battlefield in China's war against terrorism, has gained experience in combating terrorism in recent years, ensuring the practicality and effectiveness of the new law. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Campaign for Hong Kong independence shifts to secondary schools, with creation of 'localist' concern groups (SCMP)
2016-08-10
The campaign for Hong Kong independence has extended to secondary schools, with students from at least 14 schools setting up “localist” concern groups, prompting the Education Bureau to warn such causes would be banned on campus. The rhetoric that seemed to be growing among undergraduate unions across the city seemed to have had an effect on younger students as a 60-member group called “Studentlocalism” mounted a call to action on its Facebook page earlier this week. The group, which was founded in April with a stated mission to get the city prepared when the time came for self-determination, appeared to be gearing up for the opening of the school year. “In the coming days, Studentlocalism will continue to increase [the number of] its street booths to promote independence,” the group wrote on Facebook. “We have also started contacting different secondary student unions which support independence to foster more cooperation.” The group called on supporters to run for the student unions in their respective schools when the new term begins in September in a bid to bring “the independence voice” to campuses. It did not respond to questions from the Post. As of yesterday, pupils from 14 secondary schools had echoed Studentlocalism's call to set up their own concern groups in their schools, including Wah Yan College on Hong Kong Island and Ying Wa College. ' Mak Tak-cheung, vice-principal of Ying Wa College, said students would need to talk to teachers if they wanted to set up booths for promotional purposes at school. “We will listen to their plan and decide... if it's appropriate or if it goes against the school and the Education Bureau's policies,” Mak said. Ting Wing-hing, principal of Po Leung Kuk Centenary Li Shiu Chung Memorial College, which has one concern group, said he would learn more from the students in September. “I want the school to be a place for pupils to learn about knowledge, skills and moral character... [It should not be] a political battleground,” he said. Why Hong Kong independence, localism, nativism and recolonisation worry mainland China (A spokesman for the Education Bureau told the Post that “no pro-independence advocacy or activities should appear in schools... and any organisation which serves to promote independence must be banned.”) This latest turn in the burgeoning localist movement came as a survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong's student union found that 61 per cent of those polled would vote for the city's independence, up from 37 per cent two years ago. Students involved with union magazine Undergrad interviewed 385 students via an online questionnaire from June to July as part of a regular poll on students' political views. It found that 43 per cent of the students believed in Beijing's “one country, two systems” policy as the most suitable political framework for the city – a decline of 25 percentage points compared to the result two years ago. The survey also found that 41 per cent said independence was the best system for Hong Kong, compared to 15 per cent in 2014. If a vote on independence was held tomorrow, 61 per cent said they would vote in favour of it, even if Beijing did not recognise it. The poll was conducted against a backdrop of the storm sparked by election officials' disqualification of HKU student Edward Leung Tin-kei and five other localists from the Legislative Council elections in September because of their pro-independence stance. Asked which political figure could represent them, 71.7 per cent said no one could. Leung came top among those who chose a politician, at 9.9 per cent. Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said to counter the rise of pro-independence sentiment, opinion leaders, teachers and respected educators, such as university presidents, should express their views. “The government should also try to improve the social atmosphere by being more inclusive and creating more dialogue,” he said. ^ top ^

Hongkong Post's deadline forcing candidates to censor campaign material (SCMP)
2016-08-10
Two pro-independence candidates have accused Hongkong Post of strong-arming them into censoring their campaign material in order to have leaflets posted on time. Chan Chak-to and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang told the Post that they had to censor their leaflets in order to meet Hongkong Post's submission deadline of Friday, August 12, for all candidates' material. The pair said they removed any “sensitive” text in order to avoid approval delays, meet the deadline and have their leaflets delivered by polling day on September 4. It comes after six pro-independence advocates were disqualified from the September elections, a decision widely criticised as unlawful. Candidate for Kowloon East, Chan Chak-to met the post office's deadline and had his leaflet approved on Monday – five days after he submitted the two-page document for approval. “Speech bans and electoral bans cannot stop the flow of ideas,” his final leaflet read. “My political belief is — —.” In the leaflet, Chan criticised the Electoral Affairs Commission for “suppressing freedom of speech and exercising political censorship”. Chan said he had printed another set of hand-outs to be given to voters in the streets, which will detail his complete platform. The hand-outs will state: “Independence is the only way for Hongkongers to have a say over Hong Kong.” “I had every reason to believe the post office would give me trouble if I gave them the complete version,” Chan said yesterday. “If they were going to withhold approval in order to seek legal advice, ask me to amend the document and then force me to go back and forth, I definitely wouldn't be able to get them printed and prepared before the deadline.” Hongkong Post is responsible for delivering Legco candidates' materials to registered voters. It has employed the help of the Electoral Affairs Commission to assist with sensitive wording in some localist candidates' leaflets. The commission sought legal advice from the department of justice in those cases. Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang, standing in New Territories East for the disqualified high-profile independence advocate Edward Leung Tin-kei, said he also removed any sensitive phrases before submitting to Hongkong Post in order to have his leaflet approved by Tuesday. He asked voters to refer to his website or street booths for his full platform. The post office has so far refused to deliver leaflets from Nathan Law Kwun-chung, a student leader of Occupy Central now running for Hong Kong Island, after it deemed the phrasing a violation of the Basic Law. ^ top ^

Hong Kong can deal with it': Academic says city can resolve issue of independence advocates being barred from Legco elections (SCMP)
2016-08-09
The controversy over Hong Kong independence advocates being kicked off the ballot in Legislative Council elections is unlikely to prompt an interpretation of the Basic Law by the nation's top legislature, according to a leading mainland expert on the city's affairs. Qi Pengfei, director of Renmin University's research centre on Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, said the row over the disqualifications could be resolved by the Hong Kong legal system. But he said on Tuesday that enacting national security legislation would be an urgent task for whoever becomes chief executive next year. “At this moment, I don't see the need for the National People's Congress Standing Committee to make an interpretation of the Basic Law,” he said. Qi's comments came a day after Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung stressed the government had no plan to ask the Standing Committee to interpret the law and head off a looming legal battle. Election officials disqualified Edward Leung Tin-kei of the Hong Kong Indigenous, Hong Kong National Party convenor Chan Ho-tin and four other localists because of their pro-independence stances. Critics said the disqualifications amounted to political screening. ' Leung and Chan vowed to submit election petitions challenging the rejection. Over the past few days, the legal sector and pan-democrats have expressed fears that the Standing Committee would invoke its power to interpret the Basic Law to make sure independence advocates would be kept permanently out of Legco. A mainland legal expert familiar with the Basic Law, who declined to be named, said the application of electoral law in Hong Kong – not the Basic Law – was at issue. “Generally speaking, the Standing Committee does not interpret the laws of Hong Kong,” the expert said. But Qi said restarting the electoral reform process and enacting laws to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law to prohibit sedition or Hong Kong independence would be two “unavoidable tasks for the administration whose tenure starts next year.” “Existing laws in Hong Kong are unable to address advocacy for independence in a comprehensive and thorough manner,” the academic said. Speaking on RTHK on Tuesday morning, Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies – the central government's top think tank on Hong Kong – said the central and local governments were behind returning officers' decisions to disqualify localists from the elections. Watch: Edward Leung announces he is banned from polls “How many people in Hong Kong really believe those returning officers made all the decisions and took action on their own? ” he asked. ' Lau stressed that if independence advocates were elected, the city's internal political order, as well as its relationship with Beijing, would be seriously affected. “If the central government does not suppress the pro-independence ideas right now, it would become a big trouble for it in the future,” he said. ^ top ^

Cheung Chau resident seeks judicial review over Hong Kong election disqualification powers (SCMP)
2016-08-06
A Cheung Chau resident known for his track record of legal challenges against the government argued in his latest bid for a judicial review that the Electoral Affairs Commission had applied double standards in allowing pro-establishment heavyweight Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee to run, but not supporters of Hong Kong independence. Former civil servant Kwok Cheuk-kin wrote in the writ he filed on Friday that Ip, who was director of immigration in the sunset years of colonial rule, once swore allegiance to the British government. He argued that it could mean Ip, who has been given the green light to run for a seat on Hong Kong Island, would not be upholding the values of the People's Republic. The legal challenge follows controversy over the statutory role of the commission's returning officers, one of whom disqualified localist candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei despite his last-minute announcement that he was distancing himself from a pro-independence stance. Returning officer Cora Ho Lai-sheung disqualified Leung on the ground that she did not believe Leung's change of heart, prompting critics to question whether an officer had the legal power to rule on a candidate's sincerity. Kwok wrote in the court document that Ip was allowed to run despite the earlier vow she made to the colonial government. The writ filed against commission chairman Barnabas Fung Wah asked the court to declare the election body had erred in “using one's words to incriminate” and “executing laws selectively” when the commission disqualified Leung and other candidates. Speaking to the Post, Kwok said he did not support independence, and even if Leung were to be qualified, he would not vote for him. “But that's not for the commission to decide. I should be able to make my own decision free of commission screening,” he said. Ip said Kwok was “factually incorrect” over taking an oath. “You don't have to undertake any oath as director of immigration,” she said. She added that she had renounced her British citizenship in 1996, meaning she had given up her right of abode in the UK. The disqualified candidates, who either support independence or want Hong Kong returned to British rule, are Leung, Nakade Hitsujiko, Yeung Ke-cheong, Alice Lai Yi-man, Chan Kwok-keung and Chan Ho-tin of the Hong Kong National Party, which organised what was dubbed as “the first pro-independence rally in Hong Kong” on Friday night. Ip, chairwoman of the New People's Party, will be competing on Hong Kong Island against Path of Democracy's Gary Wong Chi-him, Christopher Lau Gar-hung of People Power, the Labour Party's Cyd Ho Sau-lan, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong's Cheung Kwok-kwan, Civic Passion's Cheng Kam-mun, Demosisto's Nathan Law Kwun-chung, the Democratic Party's Ted Hui Chi-fung, the Civic Party's Tanya Chan, the Federation of Trade Unions' Kwok Wai-keung and independent candidates Chim Pui-chung, Shum Chee-chiu, Ricky Wong Wai-kay, Chui Chi-kin and Paul Zimmerman. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's new envoy to Singapore resigns over drink-driving scandal (SCMP)
2016-08-09
Taiwan's new representative to Singapore, Antonio Chiang, resigned from his post on Tuesday after he was arrested for drink driving hours after being sworn in for his new position last week. In a statement, Chiang said “I feel sorry and have no one to blame but myself”, adding that he had tendered his resignation to Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen and Foreign Minister David Lee. Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang said the president respected Chiang's decision and would appoint a new representative. Chiang, 72, was arrested for drink driving in Taipei shortly after being sworn in as Taiwan's envoy to Singapore last Tuesday. His blood alcohol concentration was 0.27 per cent. The legal limit for driving in Taiwan is 0.05 per cent. Chiang apologised “for causing trouble for the Presidential Office and Foreign Ministry”. He said he was examining his actions, adding that they were wrong. Despite the fact that Chiang was specially appointed by Tsai, the Presidential Office distanced itself from the incident and remained low-key, reiterating that Chiang should not have been driving under the influence of alcohol and that he had set a very “bad example”. Describing the incident as “unfortunate,” the foreign ministry said on Monday that the incident was a “personal affair” and that Chiang had already apologised to the ministry and the public. It had also said the envoy was preparing to take up his new position as planned after the Taipei Prosecutors Office decided to defer prosecution for a year if Chiang paid NT$60,000 (US$1,900) in fines for endangering public safety. But the incident irked many, especially anti-drink-driving groups, which have been pressuring Chiang to resign or calling for Tsai to replace him. Describing Chiang as “shameful”, Chen Min-hsiang, director general of Taiwan Against Drunk Driving, urged Tsai to run the country with a new approach and begin with replacing Chiang. “We hope the government will have zero tolerance for drink driving by its officials,” she said. Chen, who lost her daughter to drink driving, said driving under the influence of alcohol was a serious matter and that no one, especially government officials, should take a chance with drink driving and instead should show respect for human life. ^ top ^

Mainland urges Taiwan to make efforts for resuming cross-Strait communication (Xinhua)
2016-08-09
A Chinese mainland spokesperson said on Monday that Taiwan should make concrete efforts for the resumption of cross-Strait communication. Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), was responding to a question about protests from Taiwan's mainland affairs authority against five Taiwanese fraud suspects being brought back in police custody from Kenya to the Chinese mainland on Monday along with 35 suspects from the Chinese mainland. Another 36 suspects in another group were brought back in police custody in April and have been formally arrested. They allegedly swindled more than 26 million yuan from mainland residents. With all victims and main body of evidence in the mainland, the case is best dealt with on the mainland, Ma said. Due to Taiwan authorities' failure to endorse the 1992 Consensus embodying the one-China principle, the cross-Strait communication and negotiation mechanism has come to a standstill. ^ top ^

Taiwan protests Kenya's 'extralegal' deportation of nationals to mainland China (SCMP)
2016-08-08
Taiwan on Monday strongly protested the move to deport five Taiwanese nationals to mainland China, despite an acquittal ruling by a Kenyan court and a court order stating they should have been sent to Taiwan. The island's Foreign Ministry lodged a protest to the Kenyan government on Monday, saying it expressed regret that Nairobi had bowed to Beijing's pressure and forcibly sent the five Taiwanese nationals, who were found not guilty of committing internet fraud, to mainland China, despite a Kenyan court order that said they should be sent to Taiwan. Taiwan's top agency in charge of relations with the mainland, the Mainland Affairs Council, has urged Beijing through “various communication channels” to jointly establish rules governing cross-border crimes committed by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Before such principles are established, the council said the mainland should continue the practices established by both sides over the years and send the five to Taiwan for further investigation. However, “Beijing ignored the Kenyan court ruling and defied the court order to send the five suspects to Taiwan”, the council said in a statement. “We have expressed deep regret and lodged a strong protest to the Chinese authorities,” it said. Beijing's move not only disregarded the long-term cooperation practice between the two sides, but also ignored Taiwan's repeated requests to send the five Taiwanese nationals home, it added. “It has seriously hurt the feelings of the Taiwanese people,” it said. The council said it would continue to negotiate with Beijing on the safe return of the five and urged Chinese authorities to continue dialogue to effectively combat cross-border crimes. Communications between Taiwan and the mainland have been suspended since May when President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, which has historically been more sceptical of closer ties with China, took office. Since Tsai was elected president in January, Beijing has pressured countries where Taiwanese suspects have been charged with defrauding Internet users in China to send them to the mainland. In April, 45 Taiwanese were forcibly put on a plane to the mainland in defiance of a Kenyan court order and despite the Taiwanese government's efforts to bring them home. Human Rights Watch has condemned Beijing for its involvement in what it called the extralegal deportations of Taiwanese nationals. It said images of the deportees getting off a plane with black hoods over their heads and shackles around their hands, as well as the subsequent broadcast of some of their “confessions”, offered “little reassurance that they will enjoy any resemblance of a fair trial”. The latest five Taiwanese are part of the same case. Amnesty International has urged Kenyan authorities to respect the due process of the law and refrain from deporting Taiwanese nationals to China, where it said they face a real risk of human rights violations. Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949. Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

Training for fake N. Korean defectors questioned (Global Times)
2016-08-09
Several Korean ethnic minorities and experts have questioned South Korean media reports of training sessions that could help the minorities get fake identities as North Korea defectors for them to seek asylum. An ethnic Korean surnamed Li who lives in Beijing's Wangjing area told the Global Times that she has never heard of any course to help them disguise as North Korea defectors, nor did she find any related information on social media or online forum popular among ethnic Koreans. South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported on August 2 that two training courses were offered in Wangjing, one of the biggest Korean towns in China, to help Chinese citizens get acquainted with North Korea, get fake documents, fabricate escape stories and go through the asylum process in some European countries. The report added the primary clients are ethnic Koreans from China's Northeast region who can speak Korean. Several ethnic Koreans living in Wangjing also echoed Li's words. However, Li said it may be hard for them to find information about the training courses since "it's illegal," and the organizers "may be low profile and on guard." Lü Chao, an expert on Korean Studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that it is very difficult for a Chinese person to fake his or her identity through a training course, since it is easy to tell the difference between a North Korean and an ethnic Korean from their physical appearance and accent, and it is also hard to fool European governments. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

“Good” programs cancelled by new cabinet, considered illegally financed (Montsame)
2016-08-11
On the grounds of breaching of the Law on Budget Stability and Law on Debt Management, the new incumbent government have cancelled the “Good Herder”, “Good Student”, “Good Yard” and “Good Stock” programs. The “Good” programs were launched last April, with no trace of their funding reflected in the 2016 State Budget. The MPP cabinet considers these illegal programs have been commenced by the previous ruling power in order to gain more votes in the parliamentary election, and exposed that MNT 596 billion has been spent for these programs' implementations. ^ top ^

Mongolia has 30-day visa-waiver to Malta and Croatia (Montsame)
2016-08-11
The Intergovernmental Agreements of Mongolia with the Republic of Malta and the Republic of Croatia was approved by the cabinet on August 10. In the accordance, holders of diplomatic and official passports will enjoy visa-free travels between Mongolia and Malta and Mongolia and Croatia within 30 days. ^ top ^

Deputy PM receives Turkish Ambassador (Montsame)
2016-08-11
At the meeting, held Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh Thanked the Ambassador for sending a congratulatory note on the occasion of his re-appointment to the office of the Deputy Premier. He also noted that the Ambassador has made huge contribution in the prosperity of the relations between Mongolia and Turkey. The Deputy PM highlighted the successful implementations of joint projects in infrastructure, the environment and many other sectors, and expressed gratitude for the fact that 300 of the total of some 800 Mongolian students studying in Turkey are living there on Turkish government scholarships. In the margin of intergovernmental agreement, more than 400 projects have been financed by some USD 30 million from the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), underlined Mr Karagoz. The sides spoke highly of the importance of expanding ties in tourism, trade, agriculture, health and education. They also expressed confidence and expectation for mutually-beneficial decisions in the result of the 7th Meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission, to be held this year in Mongolia. ^ top ^

UB City and ADB sign agreement on “Establishing the Future Cities Program” implementation (Montsame)
2016-08-11
On August 11. the Administration of the Ulaanbaatar City and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) established a Memorandum of Understanding on implementing Establishing the Future Cities Program. The MoU was signed by the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold and the Country Director of ADB for Mongolia Yolanda Fernandez Lommen. Establishing the Future Cities in the Asia and Pacific Region is a technical assistance program, being realized in five Asian countries. In its scope, small projects aiming at promoting the Smart Ulaanbaatar program, improving local financing mechanism, and introducing international platform for endorsing infrastructural investment to Mongolia. Mayor S.Batbold extended gratitude to the ADB for its consistent collaboration in the UB's vital problems such as air and soil pollution, public transport and many others. “ADB has become one of the key partners of the UB City in the recent years”, he noted. ^ top ^

Three vice ministers appointed (Montsame)
2016-08-11
At the regular meeting of cabinet on Wednesday, the ministers finalized appointment of three vice ministers and of directors of nine agencies. J.Saule was appointed the Vice Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, B.Battsetseg- the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Sh.Lkhamsuren- the Vice Minister of Construction and Urban Development. State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs D.Gankhuyag was dismissed in connection with his appointment to a different office. Acting directors were named for the National Development Agency, The Agency for Policy Management of State Property, the General Taxation Authority, the State Registration and Intellectual Property Authority, the Authority for Physical Culture and Sports, the Minerals and Petroleum Authority, the General Agency for Specialized Inspection, and the General Auhtority for Labor and Welfare Services. ^ top ^

Next Int'l Mongolian Studies Conference to commence this month (Montsame)
2016-08-10
The 11th Annual International Mongolian Studies Conference is to take place on August 15-18 in Ulaanbaatar, the center of Mongolian Studies of the world, said the Chief of Staff of the President's Office, Mr P.Tsagaan at a press conference on Monday. The conference, being organized under the auspices of the President of Mongolia, is attracting some 400 scholars from 29 countries. Discussions will run under five topics: “Mongolian language and speech studies”, “Mongolian history”, “Mongolian literature and criticism”, “Mongolian socio-economic studies” and “Mongolia's International Relations Studies”. Present at the press conference were, Vice Minister of Education, Culture, Sciences and Sports Yo.Otgonbayar, First Deputy President of the Academy of Sciences D.Regdel, Secretary General of the International Association for Mongol Studies D.Tumurtogoo and Secretary of the National Council on Mongol Studies D.Zayabaatar. ^ top ^

MCC to invest in water reserve programs in Mongolia (Montsame)
2016-08-10
The visiting delegation from the Millennium Challenge Corporation have met with the Prime Minister and the leaders of the Ministry of the Environment and Tourism. Delegates, headed by the Regional Deputy Vice President for Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America in the Millennium Challenge Corporation's Department of Compact Operations, Ms Fatema Z.Sumar, were welcomed by the Minister of the Environment and Tourism of Mongolia D.Oyunkhorol on August 9. They informed that the MCC have decided to implement a comprehensive program for water sector of Mongolia on the funding of the second Compact Operations in Mongolia, and presented the proposals for three projects respectively on water distribution, improving water reserves and water usage. If realized, the projects will result in improved flow of River Tuul, increased overall water reserve and renovation of water treatment plant, said the delegates. The Minister applauded the initiatives of the MCC, and requested to direct certain part of the investment to treating the soil pollution of Ulaanbaatar. Professional organizations have put some studies together on the impact of the common use of wooden toilets in the ger-areas of Ulaanbaatar on the underground water reserve. The MCC accepted this request. At the end of this meeting, Minister D.Oyunkhorol pledged to set up a working group to give update and necessary information from Mongolian side to forward the commencement of the second compact. ^ top ^

Prime Minister welcomes Ambassador of China (Montsame)
2016-08-10
Prime Minister J.Erdenebat received Ambassador of China to Mongolia Xing Haiming at the latter's request, on August 8. The Ambassador conveyed the greetings of the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Keqiang to the Mongolian PM and noted that the head of Chinese Government invited his counterpart to pay a visit. PM J.Erdenebat applauded Xing Haiming's valuable contribution in consolidating and promoting the Mongolia-China comprehensive strategic partnership, and noted that the new incumbent government is aiming to increase the frequency of high level bilateral interactions, and to accelerate the measures for forwarding the ties in trade, economy, mining, infrastructure and social sectors. For instance, the expected signing of Memorandum of Understanding on strengthening investment and industrial cooperation, and reviving the operation of the Mongolia-China Council on Minerals, Energy and Infrastructure. At the end of this meeting, the PM J.Erdenebat responded to the greetings of Chinese PM Li Keqiang, and expressed his satisfaction with the exchange of views on wide range of issues on bilateral ties between Mongolia and China. ^ top ^

Premier receives US Ambassador (Montsame)
2016-08-10
Head of Government of Mongolia, Mr J.Erdenebat received August 9 the Ambassador of the USA to Mongolia, Ms Jennifer Zimdahl Galt at her request, The sides exchanged opinions on the current state of Mongolia-US ties. The USA is an important “third neighbor” for Mongolia, noted the PM and added that the incumbent government is attaching greater importance in the intensification of Mongolia-US comprehensive partnership, in specific, the cooperation in trade and investment. He also emphasized the significance of consolidating the ties in politics, defense, education and culture, as well as the people-to-people ties. Mongolia is a key partner for the USA in the Northeast Asian region, mentioned Ms Galt and noted that the US Secretary of State John Kerry, during his visit to Mongolia last June, reminded of the US' consistent support for Mongolia's democratic progress. She also pledged her contribution in economic diversification processes in Mongolia. ^ top ^

China, Mongolia hold 9th defense consultation (Xinhua)
2016-08-09
The Ninth Sino-Mongolian Defense and Security Consultation was held here Tuesday, focusing on exchanges of views on military cooperation between the two countries. The dialogue was co-chaired by Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of China's Central Military Commission, and Bat-Ochir Batsaikhan, state secretary of Mongolia's Ministry of Defense. Both sides exchanged views on relations and practical cooperation between the two militaries, the regional security situation and other issues of common concern. Sun said that the two countries are good friends that share a long border and that the Chinese military will maintain high-level contacts with the Mongolian side, and strengthen cooperation with Mongolia in military training, peacekeeping and border defense. Batsaikhan expressed satisfaction with the smooth development of bilateral relations and the continuous progress made in practical military cooperation between the two countries. He said he expected more communication and contacts between the two militaries. Both sides agreed that the Sino-Mongolian Defense and Security Consultation mechanism plays an important role in enhancing strategic communication and practical cooperation, and will contribute to safeguarding regional security. Mongolian Defense Minister Badmaanyambuugiin Bat-Erdene and Dulamsurengiin Davaa, chief of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces, also met with Sun on Tuesday. ^ top ^

Mongolia and Russia to boost transport cooperation (Montsame)
2016-08-08
Minister of Road and Transport Development D.Ganbat received the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia I.K.Azizov on August 5. The sides exchanged views on the current state and future perspectives of the cooperation between Mongolia and Russia in transport sector. Transport cooperation plays a key role in the successful development of economic ties, emphasized the Minister. He also stressed the significance of the Program on Creating an Economic Corridor between Mongolia, China and Russia and close cooperation with the neighbor in the north in realizing transit transport measures, for Mongolia is a landlocked country. He also requested the Russian side to show support for the test transit transport in route of Tianjin-Ulaanbaatar-Ulan-Ude, to be conducted August 13-25. The Ambassador, in response, highlighted that the proposals, which have been put together by the Minister, are shaping the areas of cooperation in the near future. He promised to convey these requests and cooperation proposals to the Russian Ministry of Transport and the railway authorities. ^ top ^

UB Mayor forms Department for Youth Development (Montsame)
2016-08-08
A revised structure and composition of the UB City Government was adopted last week. The new Mayor S.Batbold noted that his office pursued a principle of increasing the number of jobs and promoting employment in the four years to come. The vacancies of Deputy Mayors have been reduced from 6 to 4. They will be mainly in charge of the Reduction of Unemployment and Poverty, Ger-Area Development and Social policy, Infrastructure Development, and of Green Development and Reduction of Air Pollution. In regard to the fact that young people aged 16-35 make up 34% of the total population of Ulaanbaatar, the Mayor has decided to set up a Department for Development of the Youth. Another new department of the City Government is the Department for Industry and Innovation. The City Government has set a goal to have at least one person in each household get a job. ^ top ^

 

Ms. Annina Burri
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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