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
  15-19.8.16, No. 635  
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Foreign Policy

China, Myanmar agree to solve suspended dam issue (Global Times)
2016-08-19
China and Myanmar agreed on Thursday to enhance cooperation between energy departments to find a proper solution to the suspended Myitsone Dam project. The agreement came during talks between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, who started a five-day official visit to China on Wednesday. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters after the talks, held at the Great Hall of the People, that Suu Kyi said Myanmar's new government has decided to set up an investigation committee to find a solution to the Myitsone Dam issue that is in both countries' interests. Li called on the two sides to properly promote major projects including the Myitsone Dam and the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline to improve infrastructure construction and connectivity, according to Liu. The Myitsone Dam is jointly funded by China and Myanmar, but was suspended by the Myanmar government in 2011. Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw decided a week ago to form a new commission for reviewing all proposed hydropower projects on the Irrawaddy River, including the Myitsone Dam. Although the move does not necessarily lead to a final resumption of the project, it is a positive signal that the new leadership in Naypyidaw is handling its relations with Beijing in a prudent and pragmatic manner, analysts said. Suu Kyi is the first Myanmar leader to visit China since the Southeast Asian nation's new government was formed in late March. She visited China in June 2015 as chair of the National League for Democracy (NLD). "Choosing China as the first country to visit outside ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) after taking office as the State Counsellor shows the high importance you and the Myanmar government have attached to relations with China," Li said to Suu Kyi at the beginning of the talks. Expressing China's appreciation, Li spoke highly of the deep "pauk phaw" ("fraternal" in the Myanmar language) friendship between the two countries and said he hopes the visit will help drive development of bilateral ties. During the talks, Li said China and Myanmar have always respected each other and treated each other as equals on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. China supports Myanmar's choice of development path and its efforts to promote national reconciliation, economic growth and well-being, Li said. "We are willing to work with Myanmar to consolidate political trust and strengthen communication and cooperation in various fields to promote bilateral ties in the new era," said the premier. The pragmatic cooperation between China and Myanmar aims to benefit the people of two countries and gain win-win results, he said, noting that China is ready to integrate development strategies with Myanmar and plan cooperation in key areas. He called on the two countries to boost cooperation in the economy, trade and agriculture, and to expand exchanges in culture, education and health. Echoing Li's remarks, Suu Kyi said the Myanmar-China friendship has a strong foundation among the public. The new government highly values ties with China and is committed to consolidating bilateral relations, said Suu Kyi, who is also foreign minister. Myanmar is willing to maintain high-level contacts with China, enhance political mutual trust, promote energy cooperation, expand exchanges in border trade, agriculture, health, education and other areas, maintain stability in border regions and boost people-to-people ties to realize common development, she said. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the China-ASEAN dialogue relationship. Li said China supports the building of the ASEAN community and values Myanmar's role as an important member of the association. China is ready to cooperate to create a closer China-ASEAN community of shared destiny, he said. Suu Kyi said Myanmar wants to promote continued development between ASEAN and China. After the talks, the two governments signed an agreement on bilateral economic and technological cooperation and an exchange of feasibility research notes for the Kunlong Bridge in Myanmar. The two leaders witnessed the signing ceremony. Prior to the talks, Li held a welcoming ceremony for Suu Kyi in the north lobby of the Great Hall of the People. ^ top ^

United States' first 'smart' nuclear bomb signals new arms race with China and Russia: analysts (SCMP)
2016-08-18
Washington's green light for a new generation of steerable and smart tactical nuclear weapons may signal the start of a new US nuclear arms race with China and Russia, military analysts say. Russia and China are believed to have been developing similar weapons for decades, but Chinese experts are apparently keen to learn the lessons of the former Soviet Union's failed attempt to keep up with the United States in the cold war. Tactical nuclear weapons, known as non-strategic nuclear weapons, are designed to support naval, land and air forces in areas close to friendly forces and perhaps even on contested friendly territory. The new US weapon, the B61-12, is America's first guided, or “smart” nuclear bomb. It weighs 350kg and can penetrate fortified structures several metres underground. Unlike banned weapons of mass destruction, the B61-12 is designed to be carried by high-speed stealth fighter jets to hit targets precisely with limited damage to structures and lives nearby. Song Zhongping, a retired instructor for the People's Liberation Army's former strategic missile force, said one of China's main challenges was the carrier vehicle. “Like many other nuclear powers, China started developing similar tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) many years ago. It has had nuclear technology for decades,” Song said. “The main difficulties China's TNW development faces now are how to increase precision and what kinds of carriers the mini-weapons will use.” Song said China's technology lagged the US and Russia, but he declined to give details of the types Beijing was developing. The US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration announced early this month that the B61-12 had completed a four-year development and testing phase and was in production engineering. Full-scale production was expected to get under way in 2020. US President Barack Obama announced that 180 of the weapons would be deployed in five European countries, despite appeals last month from 10 senators urging restraint on nuclear weapons spending. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the reports that the US was getting ready to produce the B61-12, except that the Kremlin was still assessing its threat. But Senator Viktor Ozerov, of the Russian Federation Council's Defence and Security Committee, warned that the country's nuclear specialists would “carefully study the level of threat and take measures to minimise it, if needed”, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported. Professor Jonathan Holslag, head of research at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, said the B61-12 “increased America's options to carry out strikes against potential adversaries like China, Russia, and Iran”. “The B61-12 has to be seen in this context ... to have more escalation possibilities in between a conventional war and a nuclear Armageddon,” Holslag said. “We are already in a nuclear arms race, not of the magnitude of the cold war ... Contrary to the cold war, it is not the size of the weapon stocks that matter, but its survivability and accuracy.” Shanghai-based military expert Ni Lexiong said America's announcement to develop the controversial bomb suggested the Pentagon was preparing for potential regional conflicts, such on the Korean peninsula with North Korea, or even in the South China Sea with China. “It's rare for the US to announce the deployment of such a controversial weapon. It's possible the US is going to use the B61-12 in case there is a regional conflict,” Ni said. “But I don't exclude the possibility that the US wants to increase its nuclear deterrence by announcing such a shocking project. It's such a costly project.” Both Ni and Song said they believed China would not follow in Moscow's footsteps in keeping up with the US in the arms race as Beijing still remembered the lessons learned from the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union collapsed after engaging in a costly and destructive arms race with the United States while its military worked to suppress anti-communist elements and extend its power in eastern Europe. “Beijing still sticks to the rule left by Mao Zedong that 'China should develop and own nuclear weapons, but no need to keep so many… [just] enough to cause deterrence,” Ni said. The B61-12 weapon has been dubbed the most expensive US nuclear bomb, costing about US$11 billion for 400 bombs. It is at the heart of an ongoing modernisation of America's nuclear arms, projected to cost US$1 trillion over the next 30 years. Holslag said the production of the super bomb would be limited by the huge cost. ^ top ^

Rising China-N. Korea trade nothing to do with THAAD: experts (Global Times)
2016-08-19
The increase in trade between China and North Korea shows the need to expand economic development in cross-border areas and has nothing to do with the THAAD deployment in South Korea, Chinese experts said. The experts were responding to foreign media reports on China's reaction to the plan of South Korea and the US. Some South Koreans and Japanese have criticized China for reducing UN sanctions against North Korea over the THAAD deployment, as data from China's General Administration of Customs shows that total trade volume between China and North Korea in June reached $503 million, a 9 percent increase from the same period last year. The Yonhap News Agency reported that Chinese companies resumed doing business with the North after hearing "that Seoul-Beijing relations have taken a turn for the worse over the THAAD issue." Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun published an article on Saturday, saying China should not break international sanctions against North Korea over "self-serving reasons." Zhang Liangui, a professor on Korean Peninsula issues at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, told the Global Times on Thursday that China opposes South Korea's THAAD deployment as well as North Korea's nuclear program since both will affect China's security, and "China will not do any trade-offs." China has banned coal, iron ore, gold, rare earths and several other raw mineral imports from North Korea, and selling jet fuel to North Korea is prohibited. Following the UN Security Council's resolutions, the embargo immediately took effect, China's Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website in April. Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday that bilateral trade is largely fueled by border trading and exports of building materials. "The border trade has become increasingly important in Northeast China amid the economic downturn compared to the past few years. And North Korea has a greater demand for building materials from China to support a new round of urbanization in Pyongyang," Lü said. Lü stressed that residents near the two countries' border normally trade daily necessities and foodstuff, and individual transactions reach no more than 8,000 yuan ($1,200), which do not affect UN sanctions. ^ top ^

Cargo train services launched between Xi'an and Warsaw (Xinhua)
2016-08-18
A cargo train carrying 41 containers on Thursday departed from Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, to the Polish capital Warsaw. The 9,048-km route passes through Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus, and cuts the transit time from 42 days by sea to 12 days, at only one fifth the cost by air, said Han Song, an official with Xi'an City. The outbound train service will run once a week, he said. ^ top ^

Vietnam attaches importance to relationship with China: PM (Xinhua)
2016-08-18
Vietnam attached great importance to the relationship with China, said Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. At the meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Hong Xiaoyong in capital Hanoi on Wednesday, Phuc said Vietnam is willing to join hands with China in strengthening the traditional friendship, enhancing political trust, and promoting mutual beneficial cooperation. The Vietnamese government chief said he will make efforts to promote practical cooperation between Vietnam and China in various fields for greater progress. Hong Xiaoyong, for his part, said maintaining and developing bilateral friendship relations between China and Vietnam are fundamental and long-term interests of the two countries. Chinese Communist Party and government will work together with Vietnamese side to further enhance political trust, and promote practical cooperation to a new height, Hong said, expressing the hope that Phuc will contribute positively to the development of bilateral cooperation between China and Vietnam during his tenure as Vietnamese prime minister. ^ top ^

Malaysian PM highlights China's role in Malaysia's continued development (Xinhua)
2016-08-18
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Thursday the country's foreign policy should be about building partnerships that benefit the country and the people, highlighting bilateral relationship between China and Malaysia as the one that "have borne tangible results." Najib, who came to power in 2009, made the remarks while speaking at the launch of the Biennial Conference of the Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) in Kuala Lumpur. "Since 2009, for instance, trade between Malaysia and China has been growing at over 10 percent a year, and our many joint ventures -- both those that are already underway and those we have planned -- will play a huge part in Malaysia's continued development," said Najib. It is estimated that more than 1,000 delegates from Commonwealth member countries have taken part in the conference, which will last till Saturday. CAPAM was established in 1994 to facilitate the sharing of information and best practices between public administrations of Commonwealth countries, in addition to promoting good governance in the government. In 2014, Malaysia was entrusted to head CAPAM. ^ top ^

China-ASEAN Expo to be held in September in south China (Xinhua)
2016-08-18
The 13th China-ASEAN Expo will be held from Sept. 11 to 14 in the southern city of Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, local authorities announced Thursday. More than 2,000 companies will attend the expo, said Wang Lei, secretary-general of the expo. Exhibition halls will be established for Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, he said. Initiated in 2004, the expo is an important platform to promote trade and relations between China and ASEAN. China is ASEAN's largest trade partner, and ASEAN has been China's third largest partner since 2010. Mutual trade volume was nearly 472 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, data showed. Founded in 1967 in Thailand, ASEAN is made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ^ top ^

Myanmar to launch single-stop inspection at borders with China, Thailand (Xinhua)
2016-08-18
Myanmar will deploy single-stop inspections at border gates with neighboring countries of China and Thailand to prevent illegal trade, official media reported Thursday. Minister of Commerce Than Myint told the House of Nationalities that discussion are underway with the two neighbor countries for the move. The system is aimed at preventing illegal trade and boosting the country's revenue collected from border trade, he said, adding that work is underway to set up customs checkpoints for border trade complete with X-ray machines to inspect containers. He warned that unscrupulous businessmen and corrupt staff in illegal trade activities in border trade would be punished. The ministry revealed that goods worth more than 52 billion kyats (about 43.77 million U.S. dollars) were seized and inedible food worth more than 2.5 billion kyats were destroyed over the last three years until operation of previous mobile inspection teams were shut down in December last year.  ^ top ^

Spotlight: Chinese diplomat calls on Japanese youth to adopt all-encompassing view of world history (Xinhua)
2016-08-18
In a statement made at the Conference on Disarmament (CD), China's Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs Fu Cong has called upon Japan and its younger generation to adopt an all-encompassing view of world history so that the suffering of all nations including China's can be remembered accordingly. While recalling the nuclear strikes that hit Japan in August 1945 is essential, so is remembering the misery endured by other states during World War II, Fu said in the statement which was published Wednesday on the website of China's permanent mission to the UN at Geneva. "World War II was the darkest page in the annals of mankind, with the nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki being part of the tragedy," Fu remarked in the statement, which was delivered Tuesday at the CD's plenary session. "To view the nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki outside the wider context of World War II would very likely lead to a mistaken conclusion," he warned. The statement followed a speech delivered by a Japanese high-school student, one of 22 who made the trip from Japan to attend the third and final part of this year's CD session. Fu highlighted that some 100 million soldiers and civilians, of which 35 million were recorded in China alone and 27 million in the Soviet Union, perished across the world as a result of the World War II. In light of this, the ambassador reminded that all tragedies, including those perpetrated by Japan's notorious military, are central to the world's holistic understanding of the War. "During the War, a certain country, in violation of international law, had used biological and chemical weapons, killing or maiming several million soldiers and civilians in China," Fu reminded. "Commemorating the sufferings endured by the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki while ignoring the much greater sufferings inflicted on the people of other Asian countries will inevitably result in a skewed view of history," he said. The diplomat called upon nations to adopt a panoramic approach to world history to gain a more accurate understanding of what took place in that dark period. This is also essential in the quest for peace and stability, as well as the ability of countries to draw important lessons from the past, he said. "During the War, the people of most Asian countries, Japan included, were victims of fascist militarism," Fu said. "The purpose of remembering history is not to renew hatred, but to draw lessons from it, to guard against a revival of harmful ideas such as militarism and to prevent the tragedy of war from repeating," he noted. The official encouraged Japan and its younger generation to deepen its knowledge of the war by reading more history books, in so doing covering facts not included in the nation's curriculum. Established in 1979, the Conference on Disarmament is the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community. The Conference on Disarmament counts 65 member states. ^ top ^

Xi calls for advancing Belt and Road Initiative (Xinhua)
2016-08-18
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for steady advance of the country's Belt and Road Initiative to benefit people along the routes. The Belt and Road Initiative should help promote policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and mutual understanding among the people, Xi said at a symposium on the initiative held in Beijing. Priority areas for the initiative include building a platform to advance cooperation as well as a green, healthy, intelligent and peaceful Silk Road, Xi said. The conference was also attended by Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, National Development and Reform Commission's head Xu Shaoshi, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Communist Party chiefs of Fujian, Xinjiang, Guangdong and Shaanxi, as well as experts from think tanks. The initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, refers to building a Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes. Xi said more than 100 countries and international organizations have participated in the Belt and Road Initiative. China has signed agreements with more than 30 countries along the routes to jointly build the Belt and Road, and more than 20 countries have teamed up with China in industrial cooperation. The progress and results of the Belt and Road Initiative have been greater than expected, Xi noted. The Belt and Road can be seen as an opportunity to promote transnational interconnection, improve trade and investment cooperation, advance cooperation in international capacity and equipment manufacturing to rebalance and stabilize the world economy, said Xi. Against the backdrop of a sluggish global economy, the initiative will help stabilize the world economy through industrial capacity cooperation between China and countries along the routes, to advance their industrialization and modernization, as well as improve their infrastructure, Xi said. Xi stressed that more specific Belt and Road policies should be worked out and major support should be focused on strategic projects including facilities cooperation, energy resource use and core technology research and development. Domestic enterprises are encouraged to invest in countries along the Belt and Road and countries along the routes are welcome to do business in China, Xi said. Xi also advocated financial innovation and cooperation in building the Belt and Road, adding the initiative should include a stable, sustainable and risk-controllable financial security system. The Belt and Road Initiative should also be integrated with China's regional development plans such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development plan and the Yangtze River economic zone development plan, Xi said. More efforts should be spent on pilot projects to generate benefits as early as possible, he added. ^ top ^

US Army chief visits China amid missile system tensions (SCMP)
2016-08-16
The US Army chief of staff was visiting China on Tuesday amid tensions over American ally South Korea's decision to deploy a powerful missile defence system and territorial disputes in the South China Sea. General Mark Milley was due to meet on Tuesday with his Chinese counterpart and other senior People's Liberation Army leaders to discuss issues of concern and “identify ways to deepen practical cooperation in areas of mutual interest while also constructively managing differences,” the US Army said in a news release. Milley would also visit the PLA's Academy of Military Science to exchange views with faculty and students. China has stridently objected to a decision to base the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, or THAAD, system south of the South Korean capital Seoul, believing its X-Band radar is intended to track missiles inside China. The United States says the system is intended to destroy potential North Korean missiles. Chinese state media have published daily attacks against the US and South Korea, and China has cancelled events involving South Korean entertainers. China also appears to be withholding support at the United Nations for condemnation of North Korea's missile programmes. Milley's visit also came amid friction following an international arbitration panel's ruling last month that invalidated China's claim to virtually the entire South China Sea. China angrily rejected the verdict and has vowed to continue developing man-made islands that the US said had exacerbated tensions in the strategically crucial region. Highlighting the issue, the interior minister of Taiwan, one of the six governments to claim territory in the South China Sea, planned to travel to Taiping Island where it maintains a garrison. The visit is “aimed at understanding climate change issues as well as underscoring Taiwan's sovereignty,” the official Central News Agency quoted Taiwanese officials as saying. Tensions have also spiked in recent days between China and Japan over a chain of uninhabited islands controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing. Japan last week called in the Chinese ambassador to protest over a large increase in the number of Chinese coast guard and fishing ships operating in waters surrounding the islands, called the Senkakus by Japan and the Diaoyus by China. Following his Beijing meetings, Milley will travel to South Korea to meet with US Army troops and hold discussions with Korean military leaders on the THAAD deployment and other issues. He will then travel on to another key US ally and Chinese rival, Japan. ^ top ^

Chinese military to provide 'aid and training assistance' to Syrian government (SCMP)
2016-08-16
The Chinese military will provide aid and training assistance to the Syrian government, as a Chinese military envoy agreed with Syrian defence minister in Damascus on Sunday. The latest move is another step taken by Beijing to strengthen engagement in the Middle East. Beijing appointed Xie Xiaoyan, its former ambassador to Iran, as its special envoy to Syria in March. The Chinese military delegation to Syria, headed by rear admiral Guan Youfei, director of international cooperation at the Central Military Commission, met Fahd Jassem al-Freij, Syrian vice prime minister and minister of defence, Xinhua reported on Tuesday. “They reached consensus on enhancing personnel training, and Chinese military offering humanitarian aid to Syria,” the Xinhua report said without given more details. Al-Freij thanked the Chinese government and military for their help, while Guan said the Chinese military was willing to continue exchanges and cooperation with the Syrian military. Guan also met Lieutenant General Sergei Chvarkov, chief of the Russian centre for reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria on Monday. ^ top ^

China, Japan, South Korea's foreign ministers to 'meet next week' in first Tokyo gathering in 5 years (SCMP)
2016-08-17
China, Japan and South Korea's foreign ministers are planning to hold talks next week in Tokyo, Japanese government sources said on Wednesday, aimed at paving the way for a leaders' meeting next month. The three countries are looking to hold the ministerial meeting on August 23 and 24, the first such gathering to be held in Japan in more than five years. The ministers are expected to discuss North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile development programmes, the sources said. The ministers are also likely to commit to strengthening economic cooperation, including negotiations towards finalising a three-nation free trade agreement. Japan's ties with China and South Korea have been under strain in recent years due to territorial disputes and allegations that it has not sufficiently atoned for atrocities carried out during the second world war. The talks could serve as a springboard for a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit next month in Hangzhou, China, the sources said. Abe and Xi have held just two one-to-one meetings since both took power in 2012. The visit to Japan by China's Wang Yi will be the first by a Chinese foreign minister under Xi's leadership. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida plans to hold separate talks with Wang and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se next week, the sources said. Kishida is likely to encourage Beijing to exercise restraint following the repeated sailing of Chinese government vessels into waters near the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which China also claims. Kishida is expected to convey to Yun Tokyo's desire to further mend ties with South Korea following an agreement in December last year on women who were forced to work in brothels for the Japanese military before and during the second world war. The South Korean government launched a foundation last month in the wake of the agreement to support former “comfort women”. Kishida called late last month for the three-nation ministerial talks to be held in Japan before the end of the year. ^ top ^

China's experts cautiously optimistic on Trump's anti-terror outlook (Global Times)
2016-08-17
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's proposed anti-terrorism policy could smoothen China-US ties, but the US "double standard" on its definition of terrorism may still hinder cooperation, analysts said. Trump outlined his anti-terror-themed foreign policy on Monday, proposing that any country which shares the goal of fighting "radical Islamic terrorism" will be deemed a US ally, USA Today reported. Trump also said on Monday that his administration will "aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cut off their funding, expand intelligence sharing, and use cyber warfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting." "Trump's foreign policy, which centers around fighting what he calls 'radical Islamic terrorism,' will to some extent ease the current sour China-US ties," Liu Weidong, a researcher at the Institute of American Studies of the China Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "China and the US share a lot in common on fighting terrorism and Trump's policy seems to shift from the present focus on competition between major powers, which mainly targets China to anti-terrorism, " Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times. However, it appears impossible for the US to give up its "double standard" in defining terrorism at home and abroad for political reasons, which may cast a shadow on sharing terror-related intelligence with China, said Liu. Liu also said political divisions in the US Congress will not subside if Trump wins in November, and he will face grave challenges and resistance from political opponents and may not fully implement his policy. Trump promised to introduce extreme ideological vetting for all immigrants and visitors to the US to fight "radical Islamic terrorism," and to temporarily suspend immigration from areas that have a "history of exporting terrorism." Liu and Xin both agreed that Trump's immigration policy will have little to do with China. ^ top ^

China, ASEAN hasten talks to avoid maritime conflicts (Global Times)
2016-08-17
China and ASEAN member countries have agreed to hasten consultations on the South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC), approving two documents on how to deal with unplanned encounters and maritime emergencies in disputed waters. Analysts said the documents show progress made by China and ASEAN to contain potential conflicts. Senior diplomats from China and 10 ASEAN states convened on Tuesday at the 13th Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in Manzhouli, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The two documents are guidelines on the establishment of the senior officials' hotline platform in response to maritime emergencies and a joint statement on applications of the Code for Unplanned Encounters (CUEs) in the South China Sea. The documents will be made public in September at the ASEAN Summit after the final approval from leaders of the 11 countries. The vice foreign ministers have also agreed to speed up consultations on the COC. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said a draft COC framework will be completed by mid-2017 if it goes without any hitches. The 13th SOM is the first such meeting since the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled against China's claims within the nine-dash line. It is the third such meeting since April, and has exceeded the norm of two SOMs per year. Permanent Secretary of the Singapore Foreign Ministry Chee Wee Kiong said at the meeting on Tuesday that the number of SOMs this year demonstrates ASEAN's commitment to the DOC. "[The number of SOMs this year] shows ASEAN and China are more aware that they hold the key to solving the South China Sea issues, given the increasingly complicated situation, especially interference from outside forces," said Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, who co-chaired the 13th SOM with Chee. Liu did not reply to a question from the Global Times on whether a timetable exists for Philippine special envoy Fidel Ramos to visit the Chinese mainland. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying last week welcomed Ramos to visit the Chinese mainland. Ramos also said the Philippines wants formal negotiations with China to explore pathways to peace and cooperation after meeting with former Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying in Hong Kong. Liu urged Singapore not to get involved in the maritime disputes. "Singapore is not involved in the South China Sea disputes. We hope Singapore could play a bigger role in promoting China-ASEAN cooperation as long as it does not interfere in the disputes," Liu said. ^ top ^

Diplomats vow progress on code of conduct (China Daily)
2016-08-17
China and ASEAN made several breakthroughs on the South China Sea issue on Tuesday, including vowing to finish a framework by the middle of next year for a code of conduct for the sea. Senior diplomats also approved a guideline for a China and ASEAN hotline for use during maritime emergencies and a joint declaration that the Conduct for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, which was signed by more than 20 Pacific nations in 2014, applies to the South China Sea. Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin co-chaired the 13th senior officials' meeting on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. He told a joint news conference that documents about the hotline and the conduct for unplanned encounters will be presented to the meeting of leaders from China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, scheduled for early September, for final approval. "There is another achievement - we reached broad consensus on pushing forward the negotiations on a code of conduct for the South China Sea," Liu said. "All sides agreed to raise the frequency of the negotiations in a situation without interference, and seek to finish a draft framework of the COC by the middle of next year." The senior officials' meeting has been held twice a year since 2011, but this is the third meeting held this year. "We held the conference more frequently than in previous years," Liu told reporters after the meeting. "It shows that as the situation in the South China Sea is getting more and more complicated, especially with the interference of external forces, ASEAN countries and China have realized that we have to grasp the key to the South China Sea issue in our own hand." He said the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, signed in 2002, provides an effective platform for properly handling disputes through negotiation and cooperation. Jia Duqiang, a senior researcher in Southeast Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Tuesday's achievements are "an important step" in China's relations with ASEAN. "The frequent meetings between China and the ASEAN countries this year is a good thing - it shows that we both have the willingness to keep the key in our hand," Jia said. Wang Xiaopeng, a researcher with CASS, said the ASEAN countries are willing to work with China, which has interests intertwined with those of its regional neighbors. ^ top ^

Nepal's new gov't committed to China-friendly policy: envoy (Xinhua)
2016-08-16
The new government of Nepal will continue a friendly and cooperative policy toward China, said Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara on Tuesday. Mahara made the remarks as special envoy of new Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Mahara, who is on a two-day visit to China, said that both the new government and Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal attach great importance to relations with China. Presenting a letter from the Nepalese leader to the Chinese leader, Mahara said Nepal-China relations have a solid foundation, and a friendly policy toward China is the consensus of the government and the public. Nepal will adhere to the one-China policy and work with China to forge ahead with projects agreed on by the previous government and China, said Mahara, who is also minister of finance. Wang welcomed Mahara's visit as a special envoy shortly after the formation of the new government in Nepal on August 3. Hailing their time-tested bilateral relations, Wang said no matter what changes take place in the international situation or Nepal's domestic situation, China-Nepal friendship, mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation will remain unchanged. Wang said that China is willing to work with Nepal's new government to implement the consensus between leaders of the two countries and deepen cooperation in areas including connectivity, transportation, free trade agreements, post-disaster reconstruction and energy. China looks forward to seeing a united Nepal to promote peace, stability and development in the country. Top of the Document ^ top ^

Busting 7 myths about the G20 summit in Hangzhou (SCMP)
2016-08-15
As next month's G20 summit draws near, rumours have been going around about just how much money the government has sunk into preparing Hangzhou for the global forum and the extent to which the city has gone to welcome international leaders. These speculations reflect residents' concerns about how the important event might cause disruption to their daily lives and routines. Officials have come out to dispel the rumours that have been spreading about the summit, which will take place in Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang province, on September 4 and 5. Here are seven myths that have been busted. 1. The government has budgeted a whopping 160 billion yuan (HK$187 billion) for the G20 summit in Hangzhou This is not true. Officials say Hangzhou's public budget this year is only some 123 billion yuan, so the actual amount set aside for the G20 event is definitely lower than that. 2. Each security officer at the G20 summit will receive a 100,000 yuan subsidy Not true, say officials and police officers. It is security officers' basic responsibility to ensure public safety, the officers say. 3. Restaurants, markets and even pharmacies will all be closed during the summit Restaurant owners and shopkeepers say they have not received any orders for them to suspend business during the event. 4. All bus stations and highways will be closed, and trucks will be banned from entering Zhejiang province Some special measures will indeed be implemented during the G20 to control the flow of traffic. But most bus stations and highways will remain open. 5. A truck driver carrying 20 unopened bottles of mineral water was made to open and take a sip from each bottle as all liquids must be checked during the summit Officials say that while security officers will examine liquids during their checks, this will be done at the people's convenience and in a manner that does not affect order. 6. Annual vehicle inspections will be suspended or delayed No, according to Hangzhou's traffic police. Annual vehicle inspections will go on as normal. 7. All delivery of parcels will come to a halt during the summit This is not true. Officials say delivery of parcels will only be delayed as each parcel has to be more carefully inspected before it is delivered. ^ top ^

US, Japan tighten ties 'to contain China' (China Daily)
2016-08-13
A leading think tank has responded to growing US and Japan military ties and what it described as their strategy of trying to contain China. The report, jointly written by departments of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, is the fifth by the nongovernment think tank the China Strategic Culture Promotion Association since 2012. Tokyo and Washington revised their military ties in 2015 under the Guidelines for Japan-US Defense Cooperation, which revealed "the intention of a closer Japan-US alliance to contain the rise of China", the think tank said. Japan's defense budget for 2015 hit a record high of 5.19 trillion yen ($51 billion), which included a supplementary budget of 211 billion yen for the 2014 fiscal year. The think tank also concluded that "by taking advantage of the US open engagement in disputes in the South China Sea", Japan is trying to "muddy the waters" in the region and is making a "military return" in Southeast Asia. Luo Yuan, vice-president of the association, said part of the reason Japan is increasingly interfering in the South China Sea is that it wants to strengthen its alliance with the US. The think tank cited the 2016 Defense Budget Proposal submitted by the administration of US President Barack Obama, saying that more than 30 percent of it was allocated to the US Navy. By June 30 last year, the think tank said, the US military had more than 1.3 million personnel on active duty and had deployed more than 154,000 troops in the Asia-Pacific region. Besides continuing to strengthen ties with traditional allies such as Japan and the Philippines, the US was expanding and deepening relations with India and Vietnam in 2015, the think tank said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China's top legislature schedules bi-monthly session (Global Times)
2016-08-17
The top legislature of China will convene its bi-monthly session from Aug. 29 to Sept. 3, according to a statement issued after a chairpersons' meeting Wednesday. Attendees of Wednesday's meeting, which was chaired by Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), suggested that at the upcoming 22nd session of the 12th NPC Standing Committee, legislators should deliberate on draft laws on national defense transportation, the movie industry, and traditional Chinese medicine. Legislators will also study and discuss proposals, including a review of the draft amendments to the law on foreign-invested companies, the law on protection of marine environment, and the proposal to review and ratify the Paris Agreement. Also, legislators will consider reports on national economic and social development, budget implementation, reform and development of higher learning, among others. ^ top ^

Former editors of liberal Chinese magazine sue government after being forced out in takeover (SCMP)
2016-08-17
The ousted editors of a liberal Chinese magazine are suing the government in an effort to wrest back control of one of the country's best-known political journals. A lawyer representing seven high-level editors of Yanhuang Chunqiu, Ding Xikui, said former members of staff are seeking damages after the Ministry of Culture last month forcibly replaced top executives, seized the magazine's offices and published an issue under their names. The struggle for the journal's reins comes at a time when President Xi Jinping's administration is quashing dissent and revisionist voices. Although the magazine's former staff and supporters do not believe the publication has an independent future, the plaintiffs are hoping to shut it down altogether to prevent authorities from releasing more issues without their consent. Outside the courthouse on Tuesday, deputy editor Wang Yanjun held a copy of what he called the “fake” August issue put out by the Ministry of Culture and decried its new editorial direction. The magazine's new leaders convened a meeting this week that sought contributions from well-known neo-Maoist and nationalist writers that horrified the old guard, he said. “It's diametrically opposite to the spirit of our magazine,” Wang said. Wang said seven of them were also suing the two new editors, Hao Qingjun and Jia Leilei, demanding they return the magazine to its former staff and saying its current operations were illegal. “They hijacked our official website, cracked the password, and are publishing their own illegal views there,” Wang said. Hao declined to comment, while contact details for Jia were not available. The court did not answer calls seeking comment. The Chinese National Academy of Arts, which is technically in charge of the magazine, also did not answer calls. Founded in 1991 by senior members of the Communist Party's liberal wing, Yanhuang Chunqiu amassed a following by examining sensitive historical periods such as the Cultural Revolution and advocating gradual political loosening. The magazine has clashed with censors on numerous occasions but has survived until now, thanks to behind-the-scenes support from its sympathisers, including high-ranking military officials. Its contributors have tangled with the authorities on several occasions in the past year alone as China's political climate has grown more restrictive. Separately, Hong Zhenkuai, a former editor at the magazine, lost an appeal against a June court case in which he was told to publicly apologise for two articles written in 2013 questioning the details of a well-known story about Communist soldiers fighting the Japanese in the second world war. Hong said he would not apologise and that he had defamed nobody. “My articles exposed the truth about a period of history,” he said. “I did nothing illegal.” Calls to the Beijing court which heard the appeal went unanswered. The office of the lawyer who represented the plaintiffs, Zhao Xiaolu, said Zhao was not accepting media interviews. Hong had been sued by relatives of the surviving soldiers. In the story, five soldiers jumped off a cliff so the Japanese could not take them alive, although two of them lived. Hong had expressed doubt about how many Japanese the Chinese soldiers killed, how the two survived and where the cliff is. Communist Party history is a sensitive subject in China as so much of its legitimacy rests on its position as claiming great historical achievements, such as leading China to victory over Japan during the second world war. ^ top ^

Chinese gov't takes steps to maintain steady trade growth (Xinhua)
2016-08-16
China will reinforce existing policies and streamline administrative procedures to steady foreign trade growth, the government announced Tuesday. Tuesday's State Council meeting, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, focused on key problems concerning trade policy implementation and measures needed to address them. During the meeting, while acknowledging the economy's outstanding performance in the first half of this year, Li pointed out that the sluggish global outlook and weak overseas demand have undermined increased efforts to shore up China's trade volume. Rising domestic manufacturing costs also have consequences for China's imports and exports. A series of policies has been released by the Chinese government since 2013 to encourage the steady growth of foreign trade, and China has remained the world's largest nation in terms of trading goods in recent years. Yet due to the impacts of the world financial crisis as well as faltering global growth, China's foreign trade growth has started to lose momentum. "We should enhance steady growth both in exports and imports to advance the country's industrial upgrading to attract new foreign investment on top of the foreign investment already in the Chinese market," Li said. "An increase in this year's imports could bring higher exports next year," he added. An evaluation was done recently on the implementation of these policies to see how well they have boosted China's foreign trade. The evaluation was mainly overseen by the Ministry of Commerce, China's National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance. The evaluation revealed that while existing measures have contributed substantially to promoting China's trade growth via financial support measures such as tax reduction and encouraging new types of trade such as e-commerce, there are still certain problems. High financing costs for companies remain a major obstacle in maintaining trade growth. Other problems include sluggish trade policy implementation as well as outdated management methods. A third-party evaluation was conducted by the Development Research Center (DRC) of the State Council in July, through field research in enterprises in nine cities. The evaluation report shows China's trade faces combined headwinds caused by the in-depth adjustment of the global economy plus China's economic transition. Besides problems such as high financing costs for enterprises, the DRC evaluation reveals some other problem affecting trade growth. For example, officials are not sufficiently aware of the problems encountered during these policy implementations. Also, while domestic labor costs continue to increase, the country has not managed to firmly establish its competence in technology, branding and marketing in the global market. In some areas, existing policies need to be updated to accommodate a larger variety of foreign trade businesses. Statistics from China customs show that in the first half of 2016, China's foreign trade stood at 11.13 trillion yuan (1.7 trillion U.S. dollars), a drop of 3.3 percent year-on-year while exports amounted to 6.4 trillion yuan (0.98 trillion dollars), down by 2.1 percent. Imports decreased by 4.7 percent to 4.73 trillion yuan (0.72 trillion dollars) but the country's trade surplus increased by 5.9 percent to 1.67 trillion yuan (0.25 trillion dollars). Li highlighted the importance of further opening up various sectors to market competition. He also required related government departments to enhance efforts to provide greater efficiency in facilitating customs clearance and financing channels. More measures will be introduced to ensure a steady growth of China's foreign trade after the meeting. First, detailed adjustments will be made to existing polices to better facilitate foreign trade development and better streamline procedures in trade gateways. Second, financial institutions are encouraged to provide more financial and credit support to enterprises with substantial business profit, and export credit insurance will cover a wider range. Third, procedures for tax reimbursement for exports will be made more efficient, and unnecessary costs in harbors and shipping will be reduced, creating a fair market for competition. Fourth, policies will be further adjusted to facilitate new types of trade, such as cross-border e-commerce. Fifth, bilateral investment will be further encouraged to boost foreign trade by promoting the country's Belt and Road Initiative as well as international cooperation on production capacity. "China is now deeply integrated with the world economy, and our international competitiveness will be better enhanced through opening up," Li said. "China has opened its door to the world. The door will be never closed again, and will be opened even wider." ^ top ^

Vice premier urges development, use of quantum communication technology (Xinhua)
2016-08-16
Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong called for speeding up development and application of quantum communication technology following the successful launch of the world's first quantum satellite on Tuesday. Liu called the launch of the domestically developed satellite, Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), "an important step forward in China's space science" and said it is significant for enhancing the country's competitiveness and information security. Urging universities, research institutions and enterprises to further coordinate efforts, she stressed completing the satellite's in-orbit testing and experiments, securing the satellite's in-orbit operations and data analysis, as well as putting quantum communication technology to practical use. Liu also underscored speeding up development and use of satellite data, as well as the transfer of core technology. She watched the launch of QUESS via video in Beijing, and congratulated all those involved in developing the satellite. QUESS will conduct in-orbit experiments on quantum key distribution, quantum entanglement distribution, and quantum teleportation, among others. ^ top ^

Has China failed to learn the lessons of deadly Tianjin explosions? (SCMP)
2016-08-12
Seen from afar, the excavators filling two huge pits in an empty swathe of land in the Binhai New Area of Tianjin (天津) look like toys. It's easy to imagine they are being driven by surgeons, trying to close a gaping wound on the surface of the earth. It was here that around midnight on August 12, 2015, a series of blasts at the Ruihai International Logistics chemical warehouse sparked an inferno that claimed 173 lives and injured nearly 800. Among the dead were 115 firemen and police officers, called to fight one of the worst industrial accidents in China's history. ' Hundreds of tonnes of dangerous chemicals had been illegally stored at the warehouse, helping to create a toxic cocktail that burnt through buildings with ease, leaving deformed shipping containers and melting hundreds of cars as it went. By the time the last flames were extinguished, thousands of homes had been ruined, many stained with blood. The nightmare in Tianjin exposed a catalogue of errors in chemical management – from corruption, negligence and regulatory loopholes to poor emergency response practices – and raised particular concerns given China's rise to overtake the United States as the world's largest producer and consumer of chemicals. ' Yet one year later, environmental groups say the country has made little improvement, even backtracking in some areas. In July, a regulation that kept a tight rein on chemical producers, users and transporters was scrapped as part of a nationwide campaign to cut bureaucratic red tape. And, while relocating and compensating the thousands who lost homes has progressed speedily, complaints have been rife and aspects of the clean-up are stalling. Tianjin municipal government failed to meet a deadline it set itself last year – to turn the site into an ecological park by the end of July – as treating the contamination proved more difficult than expected. Warehouses at the blast site had been storing more than 700 tonnes of highly toxic sodium cyanide – a fact authorities did not acknowledge until two days after the blasts – and the chemical contaminated soil and groundwater beyond the area of the explosion. Today, two pools built near the blast site hold cyanide-contaminated water, surrounded by boards warning the public not to get close. In August last year, Tianjin promised all the contaminated soil would all be dug up and sent for treatment, but there has been no official update since. ' A Southern Weekly report in July said a subsidiary of Tianjin Eco-City Investment & Development would remove more than 470,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil, but did not outline how it would be treated. Calls to the company went unanswered. Residents who lived through the disaster are worried. “I never cared much about the chemicals before, after all, who could imagine there was such huge danger lurking near my home?” said a biology teacher at a nearby middle school who lives 800 metres from the blast site. Glass smashed by the shockwave of the blast had injured her, but only slightly so she feels lucky. After renovating her home in February, she decided to move back. “Now I am more alert to the chemicals,” she said. She is not alone. An elderly man at a residential compound damaged in the blasts said he worries about what the trucks are carrying as they pass his building. “There is no way to find out, as always,” he said. “The government never tells the truth.” He fears the environment is not safe for his newborn granddaughter. ' They have reason to be concerned. Critical loopholes remain in China's management of the 3,000-odd chemicals officially classified as dangerous, according to Feng Qian, a Greenpeace campaigner. “The Tianjin blasts were a wake-up call that the country desperately needs to build a holistic approach to supervision that covers every link – from how chemicals are produced to their transportation, storage and use – and takes into account their impact on the environment and public health,” she said. “But one year on, there are signs the governments is back-pedalling on managing dangerous chemicals, especially with the recent scrapping of a crucial environmental regulation that requires [companies to register] any chemicals they might deal with,” said Feng. Under the regulation, companies had to detail to environmental authorities the types, quantities, and toxicities of dangerous chemicals they were producing, using or transporting, as well as their emergency response measures. The regulation took effect in 2012, but the environment ministry scrapped it in July to cut red tape. Without a new policy in its place, the loophole was getting bigger, Feng said. She said the efforts of safety supervision authorities to introduce legislation had been too fixed on the manufacturing process rather than the overall picture. Meanwhile, a study by a Shanghai-based environmental group that surveyed government transparency regarding dangerous chemicals in 31 provinces, found only Zhejiang ( 浙江 ) was fully sharing information with the public. ' Twenty-five provinces and municipalities – including Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin – refused to do so citing security concerns. Such poor transparency can exacerbate problems when accidents occur, as seen in Tianjin. The central government launched nationwide safety checks on companies dealing with dangerous chemicals following the Tianjin blasts, yet since then there have been at least ten fires or explosions in chemical-related accidents, killing at least 12 and injuring more than 40. These all took place in economically well-off industrial cities, such as Tianjin, Nanjing (南京), Wuhan ( 武漢 ) and Hangzhou ( 杭州 ), and occurred both in warehouses and during transportation – two explosions on a highway and one on a boat near port. Earlier this year, 500 teenagers reported health problems in a soil pollution scandal in Jiangsu ( 江蘇 ) province's Changzhou (常州) city. Their problems are thought to be caused by the contaminated soil at the former site of three chemical plants. Such incidents have added to calls for greater government transparency on chemicals, so that public groups can help supervise the industry. Whether those calls are being heard is unclear. Feng said Tianjin authorities had failed to release a mid-term environment monitoring report regarding the blast site, despite being required to do so following a State Council investigation report published in February. “This is especially important given local authorities are building new kindergartens and schools to lure residents back,” she said. “Beyond Tianjin, too much needs to be done for a sound and safe management system for chemicals, especially as China is such an active user and producer,” said Feng. “It is too early to close the case.” ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing clamps down on news portals, ordering round the clock monitoring (SCMP)
2016-08-19
Beijing has tightened control over online news websites, ordering editors-in-chief to take full responsibility for any wrong­doings and implementing around the clock monitoring, state media reported on Thursday. At a meeting of more than 60 representatives from central and regional news portals, major commercial websites and professional associations, as well as experts and scholars, the powerful Cyberspace Administration of China listed several new demands on mainland websites regarding management responsibility, Xinhua reported. Editors-in-chief of the portals will be held responsible for the direction of content, and the creation, production and dissemination of news. All such websites must ensure there were staff to check around the clock that the new requirements were being implemented, Xinhua said. The measures came within a month of the sacking of Wang Yongzhi, editor-in-chief of the online news department of Tencent, the Shenzhen-based internet giant, after one of its reports mistakenly ran a headline saying that Chinese President Xi Jinping had given “an important speech in a furious manner”, rather than “delivered an important speech”. The error came on the Communist Party's 95th anniversary on July 1. The mistake was generally regarded as a typo rather than a deliberate act by someone. Xinhua quoted minutes from the meeting, stressing that: “With little doubt, the dissemination of information throught the internet will lose its order and the situation will deteriorate, leaving things in chaos, or even threatening state security, social stability and the fundamental interests of the people, when websites solely focus on catching eyeballs and stealing the spotlight in a despicable way, in a bid to pursue economic return.” Participants who oversee Tencent Wexin, Sina Weibo, Baidu.com, Sohu.com and the website of People's Daily “pledged to stick to relevant laws and regulations, while complying with the newly rolled out measures,” Xinhua reported. Xu Lin, considered a close ally of Xi, was named the new director of the Cyberspace Administration of China on June 29, replacing the founding director Lu Wei. The reshuffle came after a spate of errors about politically sensitive topics made their way online, including the publication of a petition letter from online news outlet Wujie in March demanding that Xi step down. Xu worked with Xi as a standing committee member of Shanghai's party when the latter was its chief. Xi moved to Beijing in late 2007. ^ top ^

Beijing police get green light to use weapons to protect doctors from attackers in hospitals (SCMP)
2016-08-16
The Beijing municipal government has authorised police to use weapons if necessary to defend medical staff from violent attacks, state media reported. Police in Beijing will be allowed to use their weapons to defend medical staff from violent attacks, state media reported. Officials announced the move as they launched year-long crackdown on hospital violence, mainly by disgruntled patients or their relatives, which in more serious cases doctors and nurses have been seriously injured or even killed. The attacks have taken a toll on the profession. Faced with constant risks to their personal safety, morale among medical staff on the mainland has reached rock-bottom, and fewer high school graduates are choosing careers in medicine and health care. Although the central government launched a campaign against hospital violence three years ago after a patient stabbed a doctor to death in Wenzhou, one of first such incidents, crimes involving medical disputes are still common in hospitals across the country. At the end of June, the National Health and Family Planning Commission and eight central government departments issued a circular outlining new measures that local governments should implement to tackle the problem. Police in Beijing were instructed to respond swiftly to calls for assistance from hospitals and to stop the attacks “decisively” – with weapons if necessary – China Central Television reported on Monday. Surveillance equipment must be installed in public areas at mid- to higher level hospitals across the city. An adequate number of police officers must be stationed in emergency departments, where most conflicts occur. Hospitals' own security staff will be increased and trained to apprehend violent suspects quickly. The judicial department, according to the circular, has been told not to delay dealing with cases involving attacks on medical staff or disturbing order at hospitals. The courts must not show leniency when delivering verdicts. Hospitals should to pay special attention to “key groups of people”, including those who are drunk, are prone to make trouble or become violent, or have violent mental disorders. Another circular, issued by central authorities in March, banned medical institutions from paying compensation to patients in medical disputes before they went to mediation or a verdict was reached. In the past many hospitals paid tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of yuan to patients after they and their families rioted at hospitals. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Top political advisor warns of foreign influence on Tibetan Buddhism (Xinhua)
2016-08-14
Chinese top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng has called on religious figures in Tibet to resist the influence of foreign forces, to ensure stability in the autonomous region. Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, was in Qamdo, Tibet on Friday and Saturday, where he visited businesses, hospitals, and lamaseries. At Galden Jampaling Monastery, Yu urged religious figures in Tibet to carry forward their patriotic traditions and guide their followers in the region to safeguard national and ethnic unity. He called on local authorities to defend the religious freedom of all ethnic groups. Authorities should protect monasteries and ensure a normal religious life for adherents. Work should support "representative personages of Tibetan Buddhism to interpret religious doctrines in line with socialist core values, and help Tibetan Buddhism better adapt to socialist society," he said. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

China tests new hardware in Xinjiang counterterror exercise (SCMP)
2016-08-16
China has tested 21 new pieces of security equipment, including drones, during a counterterrorism exercise in the western region of Xinjiang, state media said on Tuesday, as it strengthens its presence in the violence-prone area. Hundreds of people have been killed during the past few years in resource-rich Xinjiang, strategically located on the borders of central Asia, in violence between the Muslim Uygur people who call the region home and the ethnic majority Han. The government has blamed the unrest on Islamist militants, although rights groups and exiles say anger at Beijing's controls on the religion and culture of Uygurs is more to blame for the unrest. China denies any repression in Xinjiang. The five-day exercise took place around the cities of Kasghar, Hotan and Aksu, the People's Liberation Army Daily reported. Southern parts of Xinjiang are deep in the Uygur heartland and at the forefront of China's security efforts. The official Xinhua news agency said the exercises involved more than 3,000 people and were part of efforts to combat “violent terrorist attacks ... based on the current security situation in southern Xinjiang”. The equipment tested included assault helicopters and all-terrain assault vehicles, Xinhua said. “The exercise strengthened the country's anti-terrorism system and examined the battle capability of antiterror equipment,” it said. “The exercise also examined the force's ability to carry out missions in complicated circumstances such as in cold mountainous regions, desert and residential areas.” Xinjiang has generally been quiet this year, with no major attacks or other violent incidents reported. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

'Can't help think there might be some conspiracy': 17 Hong Kong arts groups disqualified from voting in Legco polls (SCMP)
2016-08-19
At least 17 arts or culture groups have been told they are disqualified from voting in the coming Legislative Council elections, partly because they have been struck off a statutory list of voters after being inactive for too long. The Registration and Electoral Office has allowed the affected groups until next Monday to prove their eligibility otherwise they will not be able to vote in the September 4 elections. The issue centres on the sports, performing arts, culture and publication functional constituency and came to light after the updated list of “specified organisations” under the Hong Kong Arts Development Council was published in the Government Gazette last week. About 17 groups are affected, according to the office. The Legco seat represents one of the 29 functional constituencies in the legislature, where 35 lawmakers will be returned through the elections. Different voting systems apply to different functional constituencies. Some operate a corporate voting system, some an individual one. Others, such as the sports, performing arts, culture and publication sector, adopt a mix of both corporate and individual votes. Under the Legislative Council Ordinance, arts and culture bodies on the council's list of voters, or which have received grants or sponsorship from the council, are qualified as electors in the functional constituency. Among the 17 affected arts groups is STRA. Its operator Clara Cheung said: “I think that is absurd. We have two more weeks to go before the elections and the electoral office suddenly wrote to me saying STRA is disqualified as a voter.” She said her group had not organised any shows for the past three years and thus had been removed from the council's list. “I can't say they are wrong but one can't help but think there might be some conspiracy behind it,” said Cheung, who is a supporter of musician and pro-democracy candidate Adrian Chow Pok-yin. Cheung's group has received grants from the council, so she said she would try to register again. She also operates another arts group, C&G Artpartment, which remains a valid elector in the functional constituency. A spokesman for the Registration and Electoral Office said it had only followed established practice in dealing with changes to the status of the electors. “In line with the arrangements in previous Legislative Council election years, after the publication of the final register of electors, if the [office] receives updated information from specified bodies that there are changes to the electors' registration qualifications rendering them no longer eligible to vote … the [office] will issue letters to the electors concerned and remind them they may not be eligible to register in the relevant functional constituency,” the spokesman said. “If they are disqualified from voting in the election but still vote on polling day, they may contravene the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance.” Chow said it would be difficult to put together an election campaign if the 17 affected arts bodies were not made publicly known, and he appealed to the office to release their names. “As a candidate, how can I arrange my campaign if I do not know who my electors are?” Chow said. His rival, incumbent legislator Ma Fung-kwok, said he would raise the issue with the government and ask the electoral authorities to allow more time for the affected arts groups to sort out their eligibility. Ma won the seat with 1,106 votes in the last election in 2012, which amounted to 65.4 per cent of the vote. ^ top ^

British consul general: Hong Kong's 'one country, two systems' has worked 'incredibly well' since 1997 handover to China (SCMP)
2016-08-18
Britain's highest-ranking official in Hong Kong said on Thursday that “one country, two systems” had worked “incredibly well” and any “small challenges” between the city and the mainland could be overcome. The comments from Caroline Wilson, the British Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau, came during a Facebook Live session where she responded to questions and comments from the public. The diplomat, who has served as consulate to Hong Kong and Macau since September 2012, is preparing to conclude her four-year post before returning home. When asked during the session if the UK would take back control of Hong Kong, she said: “This is an easy one because no, the UK will not take back Hong Kong. “We thought about this long and hard 30, 40 or 50 years ago, the fact is that Hong Kong's place is firmly within the People's Republic of China under the 'one country, two systems' framework, which has on the whole worked incredibly well in the 20 years since the handover. “In any place, there are challenges. I am absolutely confident that Hong Kong and China will overcome any small challenges and Hong Kong will continue to prosper and flourish.” A second Facebook user asked whether Wilson thought Hong Kong would have improved trade if it returned to UK rule. But she re-emphasised she thought the “one country, two systems” framework would be more beneficial to Hong Kong. “What we think is good feng shui and good for business is actually again to have very strong ties with Hong Kong as a special administrative region part of the People's Republic of China,” she said. “We have very strong ties now with China as well as with Hong Kong, I am delighted to say, and those are going to continue going forward.” James Sung Lap-kung, political analyst at City University, said it appeared the British Consulate was keen to distance itself from the localist movement ahead of the upcoming Legco elections. “Obviously the independence of Hong Kong is the main issue, as is the self-determination of localists,” he said. “The UK is getting some political pressure from the so-called localist groups in asking the UK to help them achieve independence. In that sense, it is good for the consul to say something before the election, that the 'one country, two systems' is right. The problem for the localists is that the UK has no interest in taking back power in Hong Kong.” Sung also said that the consulate might be hesitant to appear sympathetic to the localists' cause in light of the efforts by Prime Minister Theresa May to placate the Chinese government over the stalled Hinkley Point nuclear power station deal. There have been tensions over the HK$180 billion deal after UK spies suggested Chinese investment in its nuclear power could threaten national security. Dr Chung Kim-wah, assistant professor of politics at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, agreed that the British consul general's comments reflected her reluctance to jeopardise the UK's relationship with mainland China. “In the past few years, the British government is more concerned with its relationship with mainland China,” he said. “What the consul general said was realistic and practical. She said it in order to avoid offending China.” During Ms Wilson's discussion, there were also questions about British National Overseas (BNO) passports, the possibility of same sex marriages for British nationals in Hong Kong, and the implications of Brexit for the city. Ms Wilson emphasised Hongkongers could only successfully apply for BNO status before the 1997 handover, and it was no longer possible to do so. Later, Ms Wilson, who has been a strong supporter of Hong Kong's LGBT community, said that Brits wanting to enter into a same-sex marriage could not do so in Hong Kong because they were still subject to the laws of the SAR. “I can't honestly report that we have had any progress,” she said. “But we have been working very hard at it. We can only conduct these ceremonies if there is no objection from the host government and unfortunately the host government is not happy and has objected to us conducting same-sex marriages. So it's an issue we are going to continue pursuing.” Ms Wilson is a Cambridge graduate and barrister who previously served as minister counsellor and director of UK Trade and Investment Russia. Her office could not confirm her final working day in Hong Kong to the South China Morning Post today but it is expected she will complete her tenure next month. ^ top ^

Language gap: lack of Cantonese may be holding back Hong Kong-based Beijing officials in understanding local sentiment (SCMP)
2016-08-18
Pro-Beijing political heavyweight Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai has said the recent tense relations between the mainland and Hong Kong are partly due to Hong Kong-based mainland envoys' lack of proficiency in Cantonese, which prevents them from having a comprehensive understanding of the social sentiment here. Fan also urged the government to look into why some young people support Hong Kong independence and not just criticise them. Fan, the city's sole deputy on the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, made the comment in a live online interview with Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing on Wednesday. The interview was part of a series under the “Hong Kong Vision Project” run by the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute, of which Tsang is a vice-chairman. On the extent of the impact of independence calls on the implementation of Beijing's “one country two systems” policy, Fan said: “It depends on how much the leaders of the central government understand Hong Kong. “You have to live in Hong Kong to know about Hong Kong, not only staying at home alone, but going out to feel the social sentiment,” said Fan, who added many mainland envoys here, like those from Beijing's liaison office, only spoke Putonghua. “You need to feel how [Hong Kong] people feel. You need to feel and understand what makes them happy and what makes them unhappy. But first of all, you need to speak Cantonese, otherwise it will be very difficult.” She also said she appreciated many young people felt frustrated because they did not think Hong Kong had good prospects, partly as a result of globalisation. “You are not competing with your neighbours now. You compete with others elsewhere in the world.” But she warned that making Hong Kong break away from China was not a way out. “If they succeed [in achieving Hong Kong independence], it will sentence Hong Kong to death. And of course they will also not be able to survive. But unfortunately, millions of other innocent people will also become victims. “But we need to understand the young people and why they have such ideas. If you just criticise them and say no to this and that, they won't listen. “You need to express your views in such a way that they feel comfortable to listen. No one will listen to you if you use the wrong way,” said Fan, who served as Legislative Council president from the 1997 handover until 2008, when she was succeeded by Tsang. She said she hoped the chief executive could be a good middleman in conveying the views of both the Beijing leaders and Hong Kong people to each other. ^ top ^

Hong Kong chamber members criticise incumbent representative for not attending all election forums (SCMP)
2016-08-17
A group of Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce members have criticised their incumbent Legislative Council representative, Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, for refusing to take part in all election forums. In a statement released on Wednesday, the 40 members, who are owners of small and medium enterprises, said they were unhappy that no debates between the candidates in the commercial sector had yet taken place. “In light of the current economic difficulties and polarisation in society, we truly hope to be able to compare the two candidates' views on controversial matters,” the statement read. The Legislative Council election in the functional constituency is featuring a contest for the first time since 2008. It pits Lam against Joseph Chan Ho-lim of the Liberal Party. The initiator of the statement, who would only be identified as Choy, said participating in election forums is the most basic duty of any candidates. “How can we expect [Lam] to be able to debate with other legislators if he doesn't even want to participate in debates within our sector,” Choy said. “If he continues to refuse to attend any election forums, I will definitely not vote for him.” Chan said some of his rival's decisions in the past were at odds with the chamber's stance. “I think he owes us an explanation,” Chan said. “If he wants to be re-elected, he should at least tell us what he has done in the past four years.” RTHK has arranged a debate for the sector on Thursday, but since Lam has refused to attend, Chan said it would instead be turned into an interview with him. In a written response, Lam said he was disappointed that some people were smearing him. “I hope the election will be conducted ethically,” he said. The Business and Professionals Alliance incumbent added that he would attend a town hall meeting hosted by the chamber, where each candidate will explain his election platform separately. But there will not be any direct debate between the candidates. ^ top ^

Hong Kong NGO calls for ban on “independence” forces in schools (Global Times)
2016-08-15
A Hong Kong-based NGO on Sunday called for a ban against any person or group that promotes "Hong Kong independence" or opposes the regional government's policies in schools, in a bid to prevent the spread of wrong ideas which would undermine the region. The Hong Kong Academy of School Managers, established in 2015 and composed of Hong Kong school managers at all levels, published a statement on its official website which says it has recently found some people from the educational field who instigated or organized teams in schools to challenge the regional government system and promote "Hong Kong independence." The statement said some members claimed they want to encourage students to discuss social issues and that schools should not restrict them from expressing their views. However, they intend to "plant the seeds of separating China and opposing the Basic Law at schools," and the academy firmly opposes such acts, read the statement. An official publication of Hong Kong University Students' Union, Undergrade, continued to promote "Hong Kong independence" and called for an "effective and continuing" fight against the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong-based Takungpao reported. The journal once published a cover story in February 2014, calling for Hong Kong self-determination and issued a special edition on Hong Kong democracy and independence in September, in which an article compares Hong Kong to Singapore and estimates the number of conscripts and arms it can gather. Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in his third policy address in January 2015 that residents should remain vigilant to calls for independence, and he singled out Undergrade. A commentary published in Ming Pao on Thursday said that some "Hong Kong independence" organizations have penetrated middle schools, which reminded people of the Middle East, where youths were recruited and sent to the battlefield. The academy's statement also called for all school managers to take precautions and require educational authorities to strictly deal with those who violate regulations to prevent the wrong ideas from being spread at schools which undermine Hong Kong. ^ top ^

Dragging the ICAC into a conspiracy theory harms all of Hong Kong (SCMP)
2016-08-15
The ICAC's reputation has taken a hit recently. But rather than outside political interference, it's opportunistic critics and politicians who are to blame. The Independent Commission Against Corruption suffered a series of management mishaps last month. The seismic changes at the top are significant and newsworthy but such internal management and personnel shake-ups happen at any large organisation. But the “hate Leung Chun-ying” camp immediately seized on the personnel changes to politicise them. In late July, the anti-graft agency announced that Ricky Yau Shu-chun, the acting head of its powerful operations department, was quitting, only to issue a second statement hours later that Yau would stay in his job after all. The public relations fiasco followed the controversial departure of the ICAC's first female head of operations, Rebecca Li Bo-lan. The city's rumour mills went into high gear, linking her resignation to alleged soft-pedalling of an ongoing investigation into a HK$50 million deal between Leung and Australian engineering firm UGL. Critics have offered no evidence to link the two events, their dissatisfaction stemming from the probe being ongoing instead of laying charges against Leung. For surely that is the only outcome acceptable to the “hate CY” crowd and the only conclusion that would vindicate the ICAC's credibility in their eyes. Adding fuel to the fire, Project Citizens Foundation and Hong Kong 2020, the pro-democracy think tank headed by former chief secretary Anson Fang On-sang, organised a forum called “Assault on the ICAC and the Rule of Law?” They might as well get rid of the question mark in the title. No wonder former ICAC commissioner Bertrand de Speville, who took part in the forum, confessed fears that he was stepping into a hornets' nest. He came to the defence of the agency, saying it was highly unlikely outside interference was at play in Li's departure. His defence followed that of the ICAC Retired Officers Association. These former officers have nothing to gain and no political agenda to sell other than the ICAC's reputation and independence. Leung's HK$50 million payment deserves a public accounting. So let the ICAC get on with its probe and stop second-guessing it. Attempts by those who want to bring down Leung and discredit his administration by any means, including casting doubt on the ICAC, do serious harm not only to the agency, but to Hong Kong itself. ^ top ^

Pro-Beijing newspaper reporter allegedly involved in scuffle with Hong Kong localist Edward Leung (SCMP)
2016-08-15
A man reportedly working for a pro-Beijing newspaper in the city called the police on Sunday night after he was seen fighting with localist leader Edward Leung Tin-kei, who said he was being stalked. Leung said in an interview with the Post on Monday that he would not comment on the fight, saying: “I am waiting to be arrested, maybe tonight or tomorrow, so I can't comment on the case.” “But I can tell you I have been followed for more than a month,” Leung said. “I can't go home nor go out with my friends and girlfriend. I have no privacy.” In a six-minute video clip that went viral on Sunday, the man was seen having a heated verbal exchange involving foul language and violence with Leung of Hong Kong Indigenous inside Tai Koo MTR station on Saturday night. A woman next to the man was seen recording the incident on her phone. The man was heard in the clip saying he was taking action for a living. When Leung, who was recently disqualified as a candidate for next month's Legislative Council elections, tried to use his mobile phone to record the incident, the man was seen throwing Leung's device to the ground. Two MTR employees tried to separate the pair, but they clashed again. The man finally walked off. Police were alerted at about 11.50pm on Saturday night, but the man and Leung had left when officers arrived. ' An immediate online search was launched for the man. Pictures of him working as a photographer, as well as his family members, were posted online. In a twist of the saga on Sunday night, the 42-year-old man reported the incident to Chai Wan police station, claiming he had been assaulted by another man. A police spokesman said the case was being taken as fighting in a public place.No one has been arrested. Pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao ran a front page story on Monday with an account of the events, alleging that Leung had stalked, provoked and hit a journalist from the newspaper's investigative reporting team. According to the article, the journalist approached Leung in Causeway Bay on Saturday night to seek comments on an article revealing that he lived in a serviced apartment and led a “luxurious” lifestyle, even though Leung had claimed he did not have a job or a degree. Leung refused to answer his questions. The article claims that the two bumped into each other three hours later at Tai Koo MTR station. It went on to say that although the journalist had purposely tried to avoid Leung, the activist allegedly rushed forward to elbow the journalist, hurled insults at him and continued to hit him until he started to bleed. The article did not name the journalist involved, but cited information that a 42-year-old man surnamed Lo had filed a police report regarding the incident on Sunday night. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macau revises electoral law to fight corruption, but doubts raised over effectiveness (SCMP)
2016-08-13
As Hong Kong prepares for legislative elections next month, neighbouring Macau this week approved a revised electoral law but not without triggering a chorus of criticism. Some members of Macau's Legislative Assembly expressed discontent the legislation did not include a timetable for universal suffrage, while others called it a “gag law” more suitable for dictatorships like North Korea's. The government argued the changes it introduced were meant to enhance transparency. Macau Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan Hoi-fan said on Tuesday the amendments aimed to ensure that the election process would be conducted with integrity and fairness. Macau chief executive Fernando Chui faces protests over mainland university cash( Lawmaker Jose Pereira Coutinho, one of four lawmakers who voted against the proposal, told the Post that fighting corruption in the electoral process “should not mean diminishing fundamental rights such as freedom of expression”. The new law is designed to stem electoral offences and focuses on the work of the electoral commission and candidate requirements. Its specifics are currently being discussed and are to be voted on in the coming months. SSThis would be normal in places like North Korea Jose Pereira Coutinho, Macau lawmaker It stipulates that those who wish to campaign for a candidate must register in advance and that campaign activities must be declared 25 days before they take place. “This would be normal in places like North Korea,” Coutinho said, adding the new law would add bureaucracy to the electoral process. “The intention is to limit freedom of speech of certain lists that influence and mobilise people during the campaign period,” he said. Lists of candidates, instead of political parties, are typically formed for elections in Macau. ' If the legislation remains as the government proposes, those who wish to stand for election must pay a security deposit of 25,000 MOP. Previously, no fee existed. Coutinho said the requirements would be ineffectual against corruption. Instead, he said, “they should look into those who offer dinners, campaign inside casinos and distribute discounts for supermarkets”. Macau rocked as former top prosecutor held over multi-million dollar corruption racket( Pro-democracy lawmakers Au Kam-san and Ng Kuok-cheong criticised the legislation for lacking a timetable to achieve universal suffrage and for not proposing that a greater number of lawmakers be elected by universal suffrage. Jason Chao Teng-hei, president of the pro-democracy New Macau Association, described the overall direction of the law as good but failing to implement measures that could effectively crack down on electoral fraud. Hong Kong's electoral commission is losing credibility through inconsistent handling of localist candidates( “Associations that receive public money and corporations, without exception, should not be allowed to enrol as campaign supporters,” he said. Eilo Yu Wing-yat, an associate professor at the University of Macau's government and public administration department, was also sceptical. “I don't think it will be a big help [in combating electoral fraud] as it will depend on the ability of government agencies to enforce the law,” he said. Multimedia – Macau: The rise and fall of an empire?( Electoral laws in the former Portuguese enclave were last revised in 2012. At that time, the size of the chief executive's electoral college went from 300 to 400 members. In addition, 2012 saw the introduction of two more seats for both directly and indirectly elected legislators. Eligible voters in Macau can directly elect 14 of the legislature's 33 lawmakers. Of the remaining lawmakers, 12 are indirectly elected and seven are appointed by the chief executive. Macau's next legislative elections are scheduled to be held in September next year. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Official blames Taiwan for mechanism breakdown (Global Times)
2016-08-19
A Taiwan Affairs official said Thursday the island is largely to blame for the suspension of the communication mechanism between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, chinanews.com reported. Zhang Zhijun, head of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office (SCTAO), said the communication mechanism between the SCTAO and Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council as well as the consultation and negotiations mechanism between the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation have been suspended, which have affected relations across the Taiwan Straits. Zhang made the remarks during an interview with the media in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province. "At present, it is impossible for the two sides to communicate, negotiate or reach any agreement on any issue, which is causing inconvenience with regard to sensitive topics," said Zhang, adding "the Chinese mainland is blameless for the breakdown of the communication mechanism," Zhang noted. The Chinese mainland's policy toward Taiwan will not change with a change in its administration, said Zhang, stressing that Taiwan's administration has failed to recognize the 1992 Consensus or to identify with the one-China principle. However, economic cooperation across the Straits continues, Zhang said, adding he hopes cultural and personnel exchanges will be expanded despite the current political situation. ^ top ^

President Tsai Ing-wen 'losing control' of Taiwan's pro-independence camp (SCMP)
2016-08-15
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is facing what analysts view as the biggest challenge to her authority since taking office after she reluctantly withdrew her nominations for the top posts in the island's judiciary. Political observers said the harsh criticism Tsai had endured from supporters and the withdrawal of the nominations were a sign she was losing control of the pro-independence or “green” camp in Taiwanese politics. All this comes as a new poll released on Monday shows Tsai's approval rating slipping below 50 per cent for the first time since she took office in May. Tsai announced on Sunday that she was withdrawing her nominations of Hsieh Wen-ting and Lin Jin-fang for president and vice-president of the Judicial Yuan due to “unfair accusations levelled against the two”. Hsieh, who heads the Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission, and Lin, the secretary general of the Judicial Yuan, have come under fire from the green camp since Tsai nominated the two in July. Civic groups and members of the legal community, especially those identified with the green camp, allege that Hsieh, a veteran judicial official who served during the martial-law era of the 1970s, colluded with the then-authoritarian KMT government in silencing dissent. They also criticised Lin, describing her as highly conservative and alleging that she had plagiarised other people's work. On Sunday, both Hsieh and Lin said they did not want the posts because of the accusations, prompting Tsai to withdraw the nominations. Analysts said the withdrawal was the result of Tsai losing her popularity, thereby allowing the hardcore pro-independence camp to challenge her authority. Since taking office in May, Tsai has faced a host of challenges at home and abroad. These include a flood that crippled the island's main airport, a strike by flight attendants, labour disputes over a five-day work week and a ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague that classifies Taiping Island in the South China Sea as a rock, meaning Taiwan can no longer claim an exclusive economic zone around it. ' More recently, Tsai was forced under public pressure to allow Antonio Chiang, whom she had named as Taiwan's envoy to Singapore, to tender his resignation after he was caught drink driving before assuming his post. The latest opinion poll released by the private Taiwan Indicators Survey Research on Monday showed that 49.2 per cent of the public found Tsai trustworthy and that 45.5 per cent were satisfied with her performance, a drop of 6.6 and 4.7 percentage points respectively compared to a similar survey in July. It was the first time Tsai's trustworthiness or approval rating fell to below 50 per cent. “Tsai will soon have been in office for 100 days and many opinion poll results, including two conducted by pro-green institutions, have shown her approval rating falling,” said Lo Chih-chiang, a former presidential spokesman under ex-president Ma Ying-jeou. While the poll results were generally blamed on Tsai's poor crisis management of cross-strait, diplomatic and domestic issues, the results from the pro-green institutions pointed to dissatisfaction with her failed judicial nominations, Lo added. He said this showed that Tsai was losing control of the green camp, which could continue to challenge her policies, including her strategy of maintaining the cross-strait status quo. Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu, however, said withdrawing the nominations would not hurt Tsai's image or weaken her authority. Professor Chen Fang-ming of the graduate institute of Taiwan literature at National Chengchi University said withdrawing the nominations showed that Tsai was willing to heed public voices. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

How a North Korean defector's poems were considered 'more grievous than murder' (SCMP)
2016-08-15
To hear North Korean defector Do Myung-hak tell it, his fall from grace as a poet to that of a political prisoner was down to nothing more than his passion for his countrymen and a betraying friend. Do, 52, who said he could not help but feel constant sorrow for his fellow citizens before he fled to South Korea, was locked up because he privately wrote about struggles in the North and showed it to a close friend, who, in a cinema-like twist, turned out to be a spy for the authoritarian regime. He was in Hong Kong over the weekend for the North Korea Human Rights Film Festival, held by the city's North Korean Defectors Concern group, as part of its wider effort to raise local awareness of the issue. The festival showcased three films: Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story, about a Japanese girl who was abducted by North Korea when she was 13; 48m, about the life-or-death distance defectors have to travel when they try to flee the country; and Victory, about 24 defectors seeking justice at the United Nations. While in town, Do weighed in on the role Hong Kong could play in light of the recent escape of North Korean defector Jong Yol Ri in the city. He called on local residents to help publicise the issue on the mainland, which some have criticised for sending defectors home to face torture and execution. “It became a topic for Hongkongers to talk about ... which in turn opened a window of opportunity,” he said through an interpreter. “It has prompted them to find out why [defectors] do what they do, why they would go to the South Korean consulate and why they wish to leave North Korea.” Jong Yol Ri, a North Korean national, sneaked away from his group at the 57th International Mathematical Olympiad at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on July 16 and found refuge at the South Korean consulate. Do hopes the incident and film festival may lead Hongkongers to better understand the challenges faced by defectors. “From there, let's see whether Hong Kong, as part of China, can spread its concern and curiosity over the border, so that people in the mainland are interested in finding out more about it too,” he said. Do also hopes public opinion will stop Beijing repatriating defectors and instead treat them as refugees as in countries such as Thailand, where defectors may choose their next stop. This was an important point, he said, because almost all defectors would have to go through China before fleeing to another country. Although he fled more than a decade ago, the poet still remembers vividly how he was betrayed and jailed in 2004 for three years. Do said he dreamed about being a poet when he was little, thinking it was a respectable profession. He worked hard towards his goal and eventually achieved it. He attended Kim II Sung University, which happens to be the alma mater of National People's Congress Standing Committee chairman Zhang Dejiang. But his idealism was shattered. “In North Korea, you don't get to write whatever you like as poets do in other countries,” he said, noting that each of his works was subjected to seven levels of state review before publication. Two of his poems that were critical of then Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il's government landed him years of interrogation and ensnared his friends and family. One of the poems was about the day-to-day struggles of ordinary North Koreans, whom Do described as heavily burdened, both physically and mentally. The other told of the grim truth that, regardless of how nutritiously deprived they were, men still had to serve in the army. Even those who were only able to see out of one eye were not exempt.“The commander would say you only need one eye to take aim anyway,” he said, recreating the gesture of firing a gun. He claimed he did not originally intend to circulate the poems. However, he changed his mind while having a drink with a friend who was a photographer and whom he considered a confidante. The friend turned out to be a government spy, and years of questioning followed over a politically sensitive offence that Do described as “more grievous than murder”. He said the authorities worried that his thoughts would spread. He was released from detention in 2006 after the interrogation of his friends and family yielded nothing. The authorities became increasingly worried they would have to take the blame if they failed to find anything, so they decided to shift the blame to the informant, accusing him of feeding them incorrect information. Do, concluding his future in North Korea was bleak and fearful that the state would go after him again, decided to flee. He subsequently smuggled his wife and son out of the country. In his new life, the former poet works in South Korea as a writer and playwright to promote North Korean human rights. ^ top ^

China to limit operations of North Korean airline after forced landing (SCMP)
2016-08-17
China will limit the operations of North Korean carrier Air Koryo after one of its aircraft made an emergency landing in the northeastern city of Shenyang last month. The plane, a Russian-built Tupolev TU-204-300, was flying to Beijing from Pyongyang when it made a forced landing in Shenyang because of smoke in the cabin. The plane landed safely and there were no casualties. China's civil aviation regulator said in a statement on Wednesday that an investigation had found that the smoke had come from a call button located under a luggage rack. The regulator said the incident highlighted three problems that the carrier now had to fix: improving its training on how to handle such incidents; improving its communications with air traffic control; and upgrading its aircraft maintenance. The airline also needed to offer better training on handling burst tyres, engine fires, emergency decompression and traffic-collision-avoidance system warnings, the regulator added. China would take “corresponding measures to limit operations” for Air Koryo, it said, without giving details. An official reached by telephone at the airline's Beijing office said she was unaware of the situation. She declined to comment further. Most of Air Koryo's scheduled international flights are to China. It also flies to Russia's Far East. Independent ratings website Skytrax lists Air Koryo as the world's only one-star airline for poor quality standards, though it does not measure safety. Few North Koreans are allowed to travel outside their isolated country. The North Korean state-owned airline uses a small number of mainly Russian-built Tupolev aircraft on international flights but older, Soviet-era aircraft are flown within the country. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-08-18
The cabinet decided on Wednesday to allot money from the governmental reserve for giving incentives to those emergency servicemen who worked at scenes of disasters, for expenses of abolishing spread of livestock diseases and for giving shelters to families that lost their houses due to natural disasters. - A financing will be placed in a clarification of the 2016 budget in order to complete constructions of paved-roads in routes Ondorkhaan--Choibalsan (143 km), Tosontsengel--Uliastai (67 km), Tsakhir--Tosontsengel (127.1 km) and Bulgan--Uyench--Khovd (60 km). - An obligation was given to the Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs to monitor implementation of decisions on administrative actions. ^ top ^

IFC interested in cooperation in water treatment, solar energy, public transport (Montsame)
2016-08-18
Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, Mr S.Batbold welcomed in his office on Thursday, the Head of Asia Infrastructure and Natural Resources Department at International Finance Corporation (IFC), Mr Hyun Chan-Cho. The Mayor sounded his interest in cooperating with the IFC in infrastructure development, building housing apartments, creating workplaces, improving governance and the citizens' participation. “Your expertise and investment is highly valuable in solving the urgent problem facing Ulaanbaatar”, he said. In response, Mr Hyun said that the IFC is interested in collaboration in water treatment, solar energy usage and development of public transport. Moreover, because the private companies offer numerous projects on solar energy and water treatment, “we would like to advise you to improve Public and Private Partnership”, he said. ^ top ^

PM: Investors, international partners were aware of the economic situation of Mongolia (Montsame)
2016-08-18
Prime Minister of Mongolia, Mr J.Erdenebat received today (August 18) IMF Country Director for Mongolia, Mr Neil Saker and the Deputy Division Chief of the IMF Asia and Pacific Department, Dr Koshy Mathai, along with other officials. Dr Mathai congratulated the MPP (Mongolian People's Party) for forming the new cabinet in such a short period of time. “This is a proper beginning to inform the people about the actual financial and budget performance of the country and to unify the budgets that were under separate managements for years”, he noted and advised to keep up the good work with more correct solutions. The delegation of IMF has arrived in Mongolia for a short trip here to have insights to what perspectives do the Mongolian leaders have about the solutions to the current economic difficulties. Also, the IMF would set up and send an extended working group to Mongolia in case the Government deems the collaboration is necessary, said Dr Mathai. The IMF officials highlighted that limitation by commercial bank on the US dollar withdrawal is burdening the already worsening MNT/USD rates. PM J.Erdenebat noted that the international financial organizations and foreign investors were already aware of the true situation of Mongolia's economy, and the latest statement by the Finance Minister was an official announcement to the citizens. August is the peak period in each year for US dollar demand in Mongolia, however, this year's USD rate increase exceeded the expectations, having brought businesses with USD loans into difficult circumstances, he said. ^ top ^

Introducing Top 5 victories of 2016 parliamentary elections (Montsame)
2016-08-17
The Mongolian People's Party (MPP), the largest and the oldest political party of Mongolia, concluded recent parliamentary elections held on June 29 with the strong victory by winning 65 seats out of 76 seats. Since 1992, when Mongolia ratified its new Constitution since democratic changes in the country, MPP has garnered victories in most of parliamentary elections except those in 1996 and 2012. The top five runners who got the highest votes in their respective constituencies are Delgersaikhan Borkhuu (68.9%), Davaasuren Tserenpil (63.7%), Tserenbat Namsrai (58.2%), Enkhbold Miyegombo (58.2%) and Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai (52.8%), among whom Oyun-Erdene, Alumni of John Kennedy School (Harvard University), is one of the youngest Members of Parliament of Mongolia. At the present moment, the Parliament is deliberating the nominations for new Cabinet members which are accompanied with high expectations and strong demands from the general public to create “professional” Cabinet which would be competent to restore worsening socio-economic situation in the country. ^ top ^

Ambassador of China works in Uvs aimag (Montsame)
2016-08-17
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China Xin Haiming is working in Uvs aimag. In scope of the visit, the Chinese delegation comprised 16 officials have been received by authorities of the aimag, holding a meeting to discuss issues of cooperating in agriculture, trade and socio-economic sectors. As results of the visit, Uvs aimag has created opportunities for exporting to China raw meat, sea-buckthorn, its products and to collaborate with China in infrastructure and health sectors. Within the tour, the China's delegates will head for Zavkhan aimag. ^ top ^

Mongolia and Russia to boost emergency cooperation (Montsame)
2016-08-16
Deputy Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh welcomed at his office the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Mongolia I.K.Azizov on August 16. The latter congratulated Mr Khurelsukh on being appointed the Deputy PM and conveyed the greetings to him from the Russian Deputy Premier. The sides exchanged opinions on security and free-zone related cooperation. In specific, the dignitaries considered promoting development of Altanbulag Free Zone, providing the Russian companies with more favorable business environment there, and alleviation of border and custom procedures. They unanimously agreed that it is necessary for the sides to boost collaboration in emergency, in connection with the increased frequency of natural calamities and number of deaths. Deputy PM U.Khurelsukh underlined that his efforts are being put to realize the frameworks reflected in the Medium-term Program on Implementing the Strategic Partnership. For instance, the emergency council is prioritizing the intended establishment on early identification of epidemic outbreaks near the borders, early prevention, immediate exchange of information and conduction of quarantines. ^ top ^

Peace Corps director visits Mongolia to celebrate 25th anniversary (Montsame)
2016-08-17
Peace Corps director Carrie Hessler-Radelet joined U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia Jennifer Zimdahl Galt at the swearing in of Mongolia's newest cohort of volunteers on Saturday, the US Embassy website published Monday. The ceremony took place at Mongolia's National Opera Theater during a celebration honoring 25 years of partnership between Mongolia and Peace Corps. “We are so proud to continue our important partnership with this beautiful country,” Director Hessler-Radelet said during the ceremony. “Through the service of our Peace Corps Volunteers--and the collaboration of their Mongolian counterparts, host families, community members, friends, and supporters-- the hearts of our two nations have been forever connected.” In addition to U.S. Ambassador Galt, Vice Foreign Minister B. Battsetseg, and other distinguished guests attended the 25th Anniversary Celebration. During the event, Ambassador Galt swore in 46 volunteers who will be working as English Education and Community Development volunteers throughout Mongolia. They are the 27th group of volunteers to serve in Mongolia since the program was founded in 1991. Over 1,225 Volunteers have worked in Mongolia in the areas of community and youth development initiatives, health education, economic development and teaching English as a foreign language. The celebration took place during Director Hessler-Radelet's first trip to Mongolia as Director. During the trip, she has met with government officials including President Ts.Elbegdorj and visited Peace Corps volunteers in their communities. About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. ^ top ^

Mongolia conducts trades with 136 countries (Montsame)
2016-08-15
According to the National Statistics Office, Mongolia has traded with 136 countries in the first seven months of 2016, reaching trade turnover of four billion and 374.2 million USD. Exports makes up USD 2.5416 billion, while imports make up 1.8326 billion. The trade turnover decreased by USD 647.4 million or 12.9 %, in specific, the imports went down by 376.2 million or 17.0 %, and the exports- by 271.2 million or 9.6 %, compared with the same period of the previous year. Trade balance surplus stood at USD 604 million in the same period of 2015, and it has increased by USD 105 million against that period, reaching USD 709.0 million. ^ top ^

Mongolia-Japan project on microorganisms will continue (Montsame)
2016-08-12
Minister of the Environment and Tourism, Ms D.Oyunkhorol received Wednesday the President of the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE) of Japan, Mr Tatsumi Takashi. The NITE's Biological Resource Center along with the Institute of Biology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences have been implementing the project on Ecology, Types and Utilization of Microorganisms of Mongolia for the past decade. As a result of the project study, a list of microorganisms of Mongolia has been developed and the researchers found that there are over 8,000 types of microorganisms. The project leaders asked the Ministry to show more support on the continuity of this project. The project implementation in Mongolia is led by Ando Katsuhiko, the Director of Biotechnology Development Center of the NITE. Minister D.Oyunkhorol pledged her and the ministry's support for the project and close collaboration. The National Program of Activities for Conservation of Biological Species was adopted by the Government of Mongolia in 1996, and renewed in 2015. “It is important to maintain the policy continuity and coordination between ministries, agencies, academic institutes, local administrations, NGOs, companies and individuals, in order for the program to be successfully observed”, noted the Minister. The sides also exchanged opinions on reflecting the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity in the collective agreement between the research institutes. The observation of responsibilities before the international agreements and conventions on the environmental issues are different in countries, depending on their financial ability and human capacity. However, the realization of three fundamental conventions of the Uniter Nations – the conventions on climates change, biodiversity and desertification – are relatively well conducted in Mongolia. ^ top ^

 

Ms. Annina Burri
Embassy of Switzerland
 

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