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
  5-9.9.16, No. 638  
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Foreign Policy

'No officials sent, no response given': China snubs security meeting in South Korea amid missile shield row (SCMP)
2016-09-08
China has shunned a security dialogue in Seoul amid a row over South Korea's decision to host a US missile defence system. Hwang Jae-ho, an adviser for the Seoul Defence Dialogue, said the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system could be the reason China did not send officials to the event which ends on Friday. Beijing objects to the deployment of the anti-missile system saying its radar would allow the United States to peer deep into China's backyard. Seoul and Washington argue the system is needed to counter security threats posed by North Korea. Although several mainland researchers are attending the forum, the lack of participation by Chinese officials signalled Beijing would maintain a hard line over the issue, Hwang said. China has taken part in the dialogue since 2014, joining defence officials from dozens of countries and organisations to discuss regional security. This round of talks covers North Korea's ballistic missile launches as well as maritime disputes involving the US, China and Japan. The Chinese defence ministry usually replies to the invitation a few days before the talks begin, but no response has been given to South Korea. Last year, Major General Xue Guoan headed a six-person delegation, including Colonel Lu Yin and Zhang Tuosheng, director of research and a senior fellow at the China Foundation for International Strategic Studies. Three Chinese scholars are taking part this year – law expert Zhang Xinjun from Tsinghua University, international relations expert Shi Yinhong from Renmin University, and US affairs expert Teng Jianqun from the China Institute of International Studies. During the Group of 20 summit in Hangzhou on Monday, President Xi Jinping reiterated China's opposition to the THAAD system in talks with his South Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye. A Xinhua commentary said the deployment would lead to a “new arms race”, echoing Russia's view. The system, with radars that cover 4,000km, is capable of viewing Chinese operations over the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea in greater detail. Lee Kyu-tae, an expert on geopolitics at South Korea's Catholic Kwandong University, said the THAAD deployment was triggering a trilateral power game. “No official and no responses from China for the security dialogue should not be interpreted as freezing relations between China and South Korea. Rather, it's a sign that China wants South Korea to give in,” Lee said. “But facing threats from the North, South Korea has no alternatives except to rely on the US.” Hwang added: “If South Korea wants to thaw the freezing relations with China, it has to make diplomatic efforts.” ^ top ^

War of words: China rebukes US and Japan over South China Sea as summit wraps up in Laos (SCMP)
2016-09-08
China lashed out at the United States and Japan on Thursday, accusing the two allies of trying to foment discord between Beijing and its Southeast Asian neighbours over lingering tensions in the South China Sea. The accusation by Chinese vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin came after the East Asia Summit in Vientiane ended without reprimanding China on its assertiveness in the waters, actions that have strained ties with its neighbours. After the summit, Liu praised the 10-strong Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes four rival claimants, for showing restraint and willingness to find solutions to the disputes. “A total of 16 out of 18 nations, including all Asean member nations, supported the joint efforts by China and Asean to push ahead with negotiations on the code of conduct on the South China Sea,” he said. “Only two nations mentioned the international arbitration ruling and insisted the ruling should be binding and implemented,” Liu said, without naming the US or Japan. He was referring the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague's dismissal in July of Beijing's expansionist claims over much of the South China Sea. US President Barack Obama raised the ruling during his talks in Laos over the past few days. “I recognise this raises tensions but I also look forward to discussing how we can constructively move forward together to lower tensions and promote diplomacy and regional stability,” Obama said. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also singled out China and expressed “serious concerns” about Beijing's increasingly muscular claims in the waters. But after their annual summit on Tuesday and Wednesday, Asean leaders held off on naming China or mentioning its rapid island-building in the area, widely seen as the source of the tension. In a joint statement, the Asean leaders said their summit “took note” of the concerns expressed by some leaders on land reclamation and escalation of activity in the area, which had eroded trust, increased tensions and could undermine peacein the region. Analysts said that although Beijing was reluctant to see the maritime disputes being discussed widely at the summit, the outcome was acceptable because China was not reprimanded. National University of Singapore Professor Huang Jing said Asean refrained from siding with the US and Japan because it did not want to embarrass China over the arbitration ruling, which Beijing saw as a sweeping setback. “I think Asean realised that regional peace and stability should be their priority and their cooperation and dialogue with China is essential to finding a solution to the maritime dispute,” he said. ^ top ^

China, ASEAN sign sea protocol (Global Times)
2016-09-08
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders on Wednesday avoided any official mention of the South China Sea arbitration ruling at a summit in Laos, as China and ASEAN adopted two documents on dealing with unplanned encounters and maritime emergencies in disputed waters. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attended the 19th China-ASEAN leaders' meeting Wednesday as both sides celebrated the 25th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations. The two sides adopted a set of guidelines for their senior diplomats' hotline in addressing emergencies at sea, and released a joint statement declaring that they agree to implement the Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES). The two documents will establish ground rules for emergencies, a step forward by China and ASEAN to contain potential conflicts. The South China Sea arbitration ruling was not officially mentioned at the China-ASEAN Summit, though the topic of maritime disputes was discussed. China and ASEAN reaffirmed their respect of freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea under principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The two sides also agreed to resolve territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, and through negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned. China and ASEAN also released two joint statements on the leaders' meeting and on bilateral production capacity cooperation. The statement on the leaders' meeting includes ASEAN's reaffirmation that China's development is an important opportunity for the region. Both sides agreed to commit to further deepening and expanding mutually-beneficial economic cooperation, including the full and effective implementation of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) and Protocol to Amend the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation. Meanwhile, as the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits wrapped up on Wednesday, a chairman's statement was released. Like the joint communiqué by ASEAN Foreign Ministers in July, the statement stops short of mentioning the South China Sea arbitration ruling while urging intensified efforts to start negotiations on the South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC). Huangyan photos Meanwhile, hours before the 29th ASEAN Summit, the Philippine defense department released photographs and a map showing what it said was an increased number of Chinese vessels near Huangyan Island. Photos acquired by the Global Times were said to be dated September 3, and included the location's coordinates. "We have reason to believe that their presence is a precursor to building activities on the shoal," Philippine defense department spokesman Arsenio Andolong told AFP. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday that there had been no change to the situation around Huangyan Island. "I can tell you that there has not been any change to the Huangyan Island situation. China has also not taken new actions," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing in Beijing. At a press briefing hosted by Philippine presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella and communication chief Martin Andanar Wednesday in Vientiane, Abella said the photographs were distributed to show that the Philippines is "aware of any and all movements in the area." When asked whether they are seeking a clarification from China, Abella said "backdoor talks" exist. Reuters reported that the release of the photos was ordered by the Philippines' defense secretary, who is currently in Vientiane to attend the ASEAN Summit. Abella and Andanar reiterated Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's stance to resolve the South China Sea dispute with a "soft landing." The Philippines is not the only country which created waves during Wednesday's meetings. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told ASEAN leaders at Wednesday's ASEAN-Japan Summit that Japan is seriously concerned with the South China Sea issue while updating the leaders on the East China Sea issue, according to a briefing by foreign press secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura. Kawamura told the Global Times that Abe did not bring up the South China Sea issue at the ASEAN Plus Three Summit attended by China, Japan and South Korea as it was not the appropriate venue. He added that Abe will discuss the issue at Thursday's East Asia Summit, which will also be attended by US President Barack Obama. Obama meets Duterte Philippine officials said Duterte has met informally with President Barack Obama in a holding room before attending a gala dinner at the ASEAN Summit, the AP reported. The brief meeting Wednesday night took a little sting out of the soured relations caused by Duterte's intemperate language in referring to Obama earlier this week. That caused Obama to cancel a formal meeting scheduled for Tuesday. Philippine Foreign Secretary Pefecto Yasay told reporters, "I am confirming that they met," the report said ^ top ^

G20 party is over, but who's tracking if world leaders will walk the talk? (SCMP)
2016-09-06
The G20 leaders rolled out a raft of visions and promises in a communique as they wrapped up the two-day summit in Hangzhou on Monday, but how G20 can shake off its reputation as a talking shop remains a major challenge. The G20 summit ended with few surprises in its main communique after a meeting dotted with bilateral tensions and even ground-level spats despite months of meticulous planning. The communique issued on Monday night promises structural reforms, better international financial governance, policy cooperation, finding new areas of growth such as innovations and green finance and, most important of all, a pledge that members would act decisively. “Once we agree, we will deliver,” it said. In his opening speech, President Xi Jinping has also called on the G20 leaders to “avoid empty talk”. However, analysts said world leaders' hands are tied by domestic problems. “After all, with the US and Europe so distracted and Russia hijacked by mean-minded nationalism, China is about the only power that has the diplomatic scope and capital to bring different kinds of international coalitions together,” Kerry Brown, a Chinese studies specialist at King's College in London, said. Compared with the increasingly anachronistic Group of Seven (G7), the G20 is more inclusive and representative of the world economy. But the fact that the 20 rich and emerging economies are loosely organised and have vastly different political systems and levels of development makes it far more difficult to reach consensus. G20 leaders find common ground on currency as curtain comes down on Hangzhou summit( “The G20 shares the fundamental fault of the United Nations General Assembly,” said Gordon Chang, a professor of history at Stanford University. “The composition of each is too diverse to make meaningful action possible.” The joint statements and resolutions unveiled at the end of G20 meetings are usually aspirational, and not at all binding. There is also no tracking system. For example, on curbing protectionism, Monday's communique said the countries should communicate the benefits of trade and open markets to the public effectively and “accompanied by appropriate domestic policies to ensure that benefits are widely distributed”. On green finance, countries can adopt the principles on a voluntary basis, while the Enhanced Structural Reform Agenda to integrate strategies for growth and structural economic reform endorsed in the communique is not binding. Previous unmet goals set by the G20 have on occasions been shovelled aside. At the G20 summit in Brisbane in 2014, leaders agreed to boost global economic growth by an additional 2 percentage points by 2018, but an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development report released this year cast doubt on their ability to reach that target. Finance minister Lou Jiwei told a G20 press conference in July that “it was a bit awkward” for G20 ministers to review the process because the target itself was unclear. “It's talking about 'extra', but what's the basis? What's the baseline? So, if the benchmark is changing, the meaning of 'extra' will change,” he said. The Toronto summit in June 2010 urged advanced economies to implement austerity measures, with the proposals later blamed for retarding growth. Brown said that over the years, G20 meetings had too often been about image, not substance. Jean-Pierre Cabestan, director of government and international studies at Hong Kong Baptist University, also cautioned against expecting too much because “such world meetings are, first of all, photo opportunities”. He said the main value of the G20 summit was to “allow world leaders to meet more frequently and sort out current or burning issues in bilateral tête-à-têtes, rather than addressing in a holistic manner the vast problems of the planet”. Steve Tsang, a senior fellow at the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, said the real question was how to define success. “I do not think the G20 in Hangzhou can reshape the landscape of international politics,” he said, referring to speculation that China hoped to challenge the dominance of the Group of Seven industrialised nations in world affairs. “I also do not see the G20 being the kind of meeting that can resolve the really difficult issues we are facing, such as the war and refugee problems in Syria, the terrorist threats from ISIS, global economic challenges that may come out of Brexit (Britain's vote to quit the European Union) and South China Sea maritime disputes,” Tsang said. While China repeatedly said it wanted to make this G20 summit different, it remains to be seen if China will be able to deliver on its promises, given its slowing economy and growing nationalism, which has antagonised neighbouring countries, fuelling regional tensions. “Brexit, (US Republican presidential candidate Donald) Trump, and all the other uncertainties will make China even more edgy,” Brown said. “It wants the developed world to be nice and stable and predictable, not falling apart, as it risks doing at the moment. In that sense, China remains an oddly parasitical and dependent power, underneath all the loud, bold noise of its diplomacy at the moment.” ^ top ^

China ready to enhance exchanges with International Court of Justice (Xinhua)
2016-09-06
Legal official Meng Jianzhu said Monday that China was willing to improve exchanges with the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Meng, when speaking with visiting ICJ president Ronny Abraham, lauded the United Nations' ICJ for helping to resolve international disputes since it was established 70 years ago. Meng, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, called on both sides to enhance mutual understanding, learn from each other's experience in building the rule of law, and deepen judicial cooperation. Abraham pledged to enhance cooperation to promote the rule of law in international relations. ^ top ^

Kyrgyzstan identifies organizers, perpetrators of terrorist attack on Chinese embassy (Xinhua)
2016-09-06
The State Committee for National Security of Kyrgyzstan has identified the organizers and perpetrators of the terrorist attack on the Chinese embassy in capital Bishkek last week. The committee's press service said Tuesday the attack on Aug. 30 was organized by Uighur terrorist groups active in Syria and affiliated with the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group, while the suicide bomber was a member of the terrorist organization East Turkistan Islamic Movement. The Chinese Embassy in Kyrgyzstan experienced a suicide car bombing attack in the morning of Aug.30, in which the lone assailant was killed and five others were injured, in addition to serious material damage. The attacker detonated an improvised explosive device inside the car after the vehicle rammed through the western gates of the embassy. ^ top ^

How regional tensions stole China's spotlight at G20 (SCMP)
2016-09-06
China's bid to show itself as a responsible and able global economic leader at the Group of 20 (G20) summit has been overshadowed by awkward bilateral issues, suggesting a bumpy road ahead for Beijing in extending its influence in the world. From unprecedented security measures in the host city of Hangzhou to a spectacular gala performance at the scenic West Lake, China spared no effort to put on a flawless event. The goal was to display the country as an emerging power, and to help promote the global economic agenda that President Xi Jinping has been selling to world leaders – finding the right prescription to revive economic growth as well as cross-border trade and investment. However, as the world is not in crisis mode and China's proposals are aimed at long-term prospects, a lot of attention at the G20 has been instead diverted to bilateral issues. These include whether Xi and US President Barack Obama can narrow their countries' gaping differences over the South China Sea and cybersecurity, if China and South Korea can repair ties in the wake of Seoul's decision to deploy an anti-missile system, and whether Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe can ease tensions over the East China Sea. Other issues that are stealing China's spotlight include efforts towards peace talks to end the war in Syria and North Korea's latest missile launch. “The G20 leaders' summit is a rubber stamp, endorsing agreements already reached at ministerial levels,” said Ding Yifan, a senior fellow at the Institute of World Development under the State Council's Development Research Centre. “It is also a good venue for bilateral exchanges on the sidelines, and many sides are trying to take advantage of this.” China sees the danger of these distractions. The authorities have told domestic media to focus coverage on multilateral achievements at the G20 talks, and to play down troublesome bilateral issues, according to two media sources who were briefed about the guideline but who declined to be named. Still, Xi has managed to get what he wanted from the G20 summit – at least on paper. The final communique accepted many of the president's proposals on how to revive the global economy, including enhanced policy coordination in fiscal, monetary and structural reform, the improvement of the multilateral trade system, strong cross-border infrastructure spending and the reform of global financial governance. All of these measures fit nicely with China's own domestic economic strategy, its One Belt, One Road infrastructure scheme, and the country's desire for its currency to play a bigger role in the global monetary system. “Every country has the right to talk about things that it cares about,” said He Maochun, an economic diplomacy researcher at Tsinghua University. “But China, as the summit host, has to be selective.” The Hangzhou summit was “not about security or regional disputes”, He added. However, the broader political and economic context cannot help but affect the G20 bloc as a global governance mechanism, despite China trying hard to keep divisive issues off the table. Tom Bernes, the former executive director with the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a think tank, said that the summit in Hangzhou was “overshadowed by the lack of political strength of most leaders of the G20”. He pointed to the fact that Obama is leaving office in a few months, and that many European leaders are facing elections at home. For China, its troubled relations with South Korea and its disputes over the South China Sea have already gained attention at the G20 summit. And these issues are also sure to surface at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, which will open in Vientiane, Laos on Tuesday – the day after the party ends in Hangzhou. Jia Qingguo, a professor and dean at the School of International Studies at Peking University, said the South China Sea disputes and the anti-missile system would pop up in Vientiane. “China is seeking cooperation, not confrontation, at the G20, but the ASEAN summit will be dominated by disputed issues,” he said. ^ top ^

World's top 20 economies not doing enough to fight climate change, says consortium of think tanks (SCMP)
2016-09-05
G20 countries are not doing enough to mitigate climate change and must work harder, climate experts urged in Beijing as leaders of the world's 20 major economies gathered in Hangzhou. The Group of 20 (G20) economies must ratchet up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, shift away from investment in coal towards renewable energy and reduce fossil fuel subsidies. Current pledges made by the 20 countries, which account for 75 per cent of global carbon emissions, fall far short of a target set by last year's Paris Agreement to keep the rise in average global temperature “well below 2 degrees Celsius”, said a report by Climate Transparency, a consortium of think tanks. Experts in the consortium also urged G20 leaders to use the international forum as a complementary platform to the 195-nation United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to lock in progress made at last year's Paris conference. “The G20 has proven that it can be nimble and take action on economic issues, so we're looking to these countries to do the same for the climate,” said Alvaro Umana, the former environment and energy minister of Costa Rica who is co-chair of Climate Transparency. As the host of the G20 gathering, China is trying to instil dynamism into the cause by ratifying the Paris Agreement just days before the summit. It is also promoting green finance at the Hangzhou summit so that environmentally friendly projects have easier access funding through loans and bonds. Gerd Leipold, a former executive director of Greenpeace International also with the climate consortium, said: “For the group of 20 countries, climate change is increasingly as much an economic issue as an environmental and ethical problem.” The political differences on climate change issues have also been greatly reduced compared with 2009, when emerging and industrialised nations disagreed widely on who should bear the brunt of emission reductions. “Years ago, countries like China and India did not like climate change issues to be discussed outside the UN framework, but after the surprisingly good outcome from Paris, UNFCCC is very keen to broaden the venues for discussions to make the Paris Agreement a reality,” Leipold said. Jiang Kejun, a senior researcher at the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission, said China should make good use of the G20 presidency to establish its leadership on climate change issues. Unlike a few years ago, China is already gaining an upper hand at the international negotiations. “Meanwhile, our research shows that the G20 will actually become beneficiaries of a quicker transition from a brown economy [referring to carbon-intensive growth] to a green one, by owning most of the green and low-carbon technology that is key to addressing global warming,” Jiang said. According to Climate Transparency's research, the 20 countries' energy-related greenhouse gas emissions rose by 56 per cent between 1990 and 2013, although that growth has flatlined in the past two years, due in large part to China's stalled growth in coal consumption. The G20's current commitments to the Paris Agreement will see the group shaving 15 per cent from their projected carbon emissions by 2030, which was “far from sufficient” to stop global temperatures rising by more than 2 degrees, Climate Transparency said. The consortium calculated that the G20 emission cuts would need to be six times greater than their current pledges to achieve that goal. ^ top ^

THAAD could spur conflicts (Global Times)
2016-09-06
President Xi Jinping expressed China's opposition to South Korean President Park Geun-hye on the US deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea on Monday, saying "it could intensify conflicts." During his meeting with Park on Monday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, Xi reaffirmed China's commitment to achieving denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, safeguarding the peace and stability of the peninsula, and solving relevant issues through dialogue and consultations, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Xi also expressed his concern over the THAAD system, saying that "mishandling the issue is not conducive to strategic stability in the region, and could intensify conflicts," Xinhua reported. On Monday, South Korea's defense ministry said North Korea test-fired three ballistic missiles into eastern waters ahead of the country's National Day, Xinhua reported. China's foreign ministry did not directly blame North Korea for the missile launch at a daily briefing on Monday. However, the ministry called parties involved to avoid any action that will deteriorate the situation, as the current situation of the peninsula is "complicated and sensitive." "North Korea chose to launch the missile at this time in an attempt to interfere in the discussions about North Korea at the G20 summit," Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at the Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times. Apart from monitoring missiles from North Korea, the THAAD could expand South Korea's surveillance range to China and Russia and pose a serious threat to the two countries, experts said. Although South Korea claimed it will reduce the surveillance range so it won't affect neighboring countries, it cannot decide unilaterally as the system will be controlled by US forces in South Korea, said Jin Qiangyi, director of the Asia Studies Center at Yanbian University. The deployment of THAAD is a way the South has chosen to protect itself from the North, which constantly conducts nuclear tests and launches missiles, said Jin. However, from a long-term perspective, the deployment of THAAD will even break the strategic balance in East Asia, especially between China and the US, and Russia and the US, which will pose a severe threat to regional security, said Zheng. Solving the THAAD issue depends on negotiations mainly between China and the US, but the US doesn't appear to be making any concessions, said Jin, adding that the issue might become more uncertain as Park's term will soon end. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping tells Japanese PM Shinzo Abe that it's time to move forward (SCMP)
2016-09-05
President Xi Jinping told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday that China and Japan should “put aside disruptions” to make their bilateral ties back to normal track. The two leaders are having their first one-on-one talk in 17 months on the sidelines of G20 summit on Monday evening, amid rising tension over the territorial disputes. Both nations agreed to step up dialogues on all levels, and build communication mechanism in air and sea between their militaries, Abe said after the talks. “I made our position very clear on the East and South China Sea issues to President Xi,” he said. “For East China Sea, we should strengthen dialogue and consultation to maintain the stabiity and make it a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.” But Abe said he will discuss with Southeast Asian nations on applying rule of law on the South China Sea - a move which will dismay Beijing. In the meeting, Xi said the two nations should propel their relations back on the track of normal development as soon as possible, Xinhua reported. Relations between the two sides are having turbulences, and at the stage that risks deterioration if not on an improving track. “Both sides should be more responsible and alerted to build on positive momentum and remove negative factors,” he said, adding that Japan has to be cautious in the South China Sea disputes. Maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas and wartime history are among the key differences for the nations to address, and North Korea's launch of three ballistic missiles towards Japan on Monday is also mentioned in their talks. The previous two meetings between the two leaders were also on the sideline of multilateral events, one at an APEC meeting in November 2014 and the other at an Asia-Africa summit in April 2015. Abe also met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at similar occasions, but the leaders of the world's number two and number three economies have not officially visited each other since 2011. In recent months, Tokyo has strongly criticised Beijing's assertive activities in the South China Sea and the coastguards of both countries had a confrontation in the waters near the Diaoyus last month. The Japanese, however, have been actively seeking a meeting between their leaders. Last week, Abe sent Shotaro Yachi to Beijing as his representative. The meeting will relieve the current tension, experts said, but how much it will aid the relationship is questionable. The competition and differences between the two cannot be solved by one short meeting, but “through a face to face talk Abe may get a better idea how firmly China stands on the core interests and accordingly adjusts his policies”, said Jiang Yuechun, a former diplomat to Japan and now a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies. “With great expectation comes great disappointment,” said Liu Jiangyong, a professor who specialises in Japanese studies at Tsinghua University. Previous meetings with Abe were often followed by a visit to the Yasukuni shrine or a standoff near the Diaoyus, Liu said. “It looks like the Japanese side only wants the meeting itself, for the meeting's sake, not an actual improvement of the relationship,” Liu said. The East Asia Summit in Laos, which opens on Tuesday, will be a chance to examine the relationship, as both Li and Abe will attend. “We can wait and see if Abe raises the South China Sea issue and tries to turn the ASEAN countries against China, as the Japanese government has been doing a lot,” Liu said. ^ top ^

Little real progress seen in Xi's sit-down with Obama (SCMP)
2016-09-05
Despite the ratification of a landmark climate-change deal on the eve of the Group of 20 (G20) summit, the presidents of China and the US made little headway on easing tensions between the world's top two economies. The talks between Xi Jinping and Barack Obama laid bare the discord and growing animosity over a range of trade and security disputes, observers said. Intriguingly, statements made separately late on Saturday night by the White House and the Chinese foreign ministry both described the meeting between Xi and Obama as “candid”, which in diplomatic language is a synonym for tough talks with few results. “Obama's candid talk with Xi is poorly timed, as it will have next to no effect,” said Steve Tsang, a senior fellow at the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham. “Xi knows Obama is on his way out and will just wait him out or essentially ignore what Obama might have said,” he said. Shi Yinhong, director of the Centre for American Studies at Renmin University in Beijing, said that although the two leaders touched on some 20 bilateral, regional and global issues, there was little progress. “Nor did they ease their tough stances on the South China Sea disputes,” Shi added. Xi and Obama spoke about the recent international tribunal's ruling on the South China Sea disputes, according to a White House statement. Beijing saw the ruling, which denied its territorial claims, as a major sore point. Pang Zhongying, another analyst at Renmin University, said that despite tough talk on maritime security and human rights, Obama appeared more obsessed with his diplomatic legacy, notably on climate change. “Apparently, the best China and the US can achieve at the moment is to agree to disagree on almost all the major bilateral issues,” he said. Despite their differences, both leaders clearly understood the importance of the China-US relationship, analysts noted. “The fact that Xi, who obviously has a very tight schedule during the G20, still allocated much more time to talk to Obama shows Xi still gives top priority to his ties with Obama,” Pang said. In return, Obama tried hard not to embarrass his host and spoke highly of his talks with Xi. “The bilateral discussions that we had yesterday were extremely productive and continue to point to big areas of cooperation,” he said yesterday. Instead, Obama may choose to confront China at the upcoming summit involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to be held in Laos from Tuesday, where Obama and his allies are expected to jointly raise the South China Sea disputes. Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) will attend. Analysts agreed that the tension between the two powers would remain a growing trend in the coming months. Tao Wenzhao, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said there was an understanding between China and the US to maintain relatively stable relations for the last five months of Obama's presidency. The two nations will continue to remain at odds over a range of issues including maritime disputes and cyber security. “The only consensus is that the two countries do not want to go to war because of the South China Sea disputes,” Tao said. Analysts also said the climate-change announcement was clearly aimed at glossing over their deep-rooted tensions, which suited both Xi and Obama. Shi said that while the announcement of an agreement was only a move to “reconfirm” their previous commitments, “the atmosphere would have been even worse without such a step”. Tsang also said the ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which was not a bilateral issue, was “the key element of Beijing's plan to project the global perception of its successful leadership of the G20 summit in Hangzhou”. “How well it will be implemented will take a long time to be proven, one way or the other, but the announcement gave China a guaranteed diplomatic success.” ^ top ^

Why tensions are inevitable on China's New Silk Road (SCMP)
2016-09-03
China today boasts one of the most capable foreign services in the world. I have learned to appreciate its young diplomats as remarkably diligent, perceptive, and acculturated. Yet, even those bright officials struggle with an increasingly pressing challenge: to reconcile China's promise of mutually beneficial foreign relations with a reality of unequal economic partnerships. China's New Silk Road, also known as One Belt, One Road, is set to make that problem much worse as it is, in reality, not much more than a guise for a very aggressive export policy that will inevitably spark new tensions. A careful review of dozens of policy papers recently issued by various government departments affirms the need for an open world market and for China to cement stable economic relations with its partners. But it is impossible to comprehend how this can be squared with some of the other statements. The general argument of the Chinese government seems to be that the world is in for more trouble, that protectionism looms, and that it has to act more vigorously to preserve the world market as a safety valve for its own congested economy. The promotion of exports of manufactured goods remains key. For all China's promises about rebalancing, its economy has become only more imbalanced. Last year, the trade surplus hit a record of US$293 billion. This trade surplus represents as much as 42 per cent of production in the manufacturing sector and the dependency of factories on exports continues to increase. The New Silk Road has to help China siphon off some of this glut. In one of its notes, the industry ministry vows to defend China's international market share in labour-intensive manufacturing, given the millions of unskilled workers at home. One paper calculates the 20,000km of new railways in the framework of the New Silk Road could create demand for as much as 85 million tons of Chinese steel. China also seeks to increase its market share in high-tech areas, like automobiles, planes, and renewable energy. In that regard, the New Silk Road is all about penetrating markets, overcoming possible trade barriers, and supporting national companies to develop better brands and distribution chains. A relatively new aspiration is to boost exports of services. Thus far, services have mostly catered to China's domestic market, but as investment in infrastructure is slowing down, firms in the sectors of construction, railway development, electricity, and telecommunications need to conquer markets overseas. China also seeks to break through in so-called new services, like finance, shipping, and airlines. Even if it already had large companies in shipping, like COSCO, the aim in this cluster is to support traditional freighting with business services: engineering, brokerage, maritime legal services and insurance, and “to compete with today's leaders of London, Singapore and Hong Kong”. The government is aware, however, that this push for exports has to coincide with the promotion of certain imports, of tourist services, for instance, and of raw materials. The objective remains to have more imported energy supplied by Chinese firms. The government also wants to secure minerals. It vows to map “the metallogenic belt” along the New Silk Road and highlights the need to control foreign iron ore mines. Japan, for example, covers 50 per cent of its iron imports with equity ores, thus ensuring production by Japanese firms, whereas the equivalent figure is 8 per cent for China. Those aspirations will make it impossible for China and its partners to build truly mutually beneficial partnerships. Out of the 34 countries along the New Silk Road, 30 already record a trade deficit. Those countries see their roles increasingly defined as raw material suppliers, which is not very convenient as global commodity prices plummet. As much as 78 per cent of the growth of Chinese imports from Silk Road countries since 2008 consisted of raw materials. To developing countries that seek to create more manufacturing jobs, the New Silk Road does not necessarily come as a blessing either. China provides loans for roads, but real investment in manufacturing remains very small. Only five per cent of China's foreign investments are sunk into the manufacturing sector. The new imbalances resulting from the New Silk Road will thus come as an even more taxing test to the agility of China's diplomacy. Thus far, China has mollified some of its partners with the promise of more gains, but with the gap between promises and reality growing, that may no longer be so easy. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Shaoshan marks Mao's death (Global Times)
2016-09-09
Thousands of visitors from all parts of China made a pilgrimage to Shaoshan, the birthplace of Mao Zedong in Hunan Province, on Thursday to pay homage to their beloved leader. Discussions on Mao's life and achievements have been held among devotees in the past few days to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of the founding father of the People's Republic of China, which falls on Friday. Despite Western focus on Mao's mistakes, especially for starting the devastating Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the Chinese government still recognizes and highlights his undeniable role in creating a new China from his errors. While the mainstream public also considers Mao a great leader, within the certain limitations of his time, experts warned of the existence of extreme views about him - some still worship him as a god and try to right all his wrongs, others ignore whatever positive legacy he left. In the Mao Zedong Bronze Statue Square at the center of Shaoshan's scenic center, dozens of memorial flower baskets, sent by visitors from across the country, were placed in front of the 6-meter-tall Mao statue, which depicts the former leader during the founding ceremony of the PRC in October 1949. Many visitors laid flowers, walked around the statue or even knelt to pray to him. Zhang Zhigang, a 70-year-old army veteran from Changsha, Hunan Province who, with a group of retirees, all wearing red Chairman Mao badges pinned to their chests, presented a flower basket at the statue. "Mao Zedong helped lift millions of Chinese out of poverty. Without him, China would never have become what it is today," he said. Ma Zhi'an, a 66-year-old man from Jiangsu Province who had been an "educated youth" sent to the countryside, said he had visited Shaoshan often, and had come this time to pay tribute on the anniversary. Mao's devotees like Ma share typical dissatisfaction about the fast-changing society since China started to adopt market economy elements three decades ago. "Nowadays, farmers and workers are poorly paid, which is unfair. Only Mao Zedong thought can help solve the increasing wealth gap in today's China," he said. Some older people attribute growing reports about corruption to the country's opening-up and reform policies, with a sense of nostalgia about Mao's era. Other provinces and cities also are holding ceremonies and events this week, including Beijing, Tangshan in North China's Hebei Province and Shangri-la in Southwest China's Yunnan Province. Mixed views Sima Nan, a well-known left-wing commentator, told the Global Times that commemorating Mao is very common in China, and not only among those who suffered the pains of the massive layoffs in State-owned enterprises during the early days of reform, but also officials, entrepreneurs and overseas Chinese. "When Mao left this world 40 years ago, he gave the Chinese people a powerful country with the atomic bomb, satellites and permanent membership in the UN Security Council," Sima said. "A modernized China can never be built without Mao's contributions." Shen Guiping, a professor at the Central Institute of Socialism, said Mao's greatest contribution was his tough methods to create a much more equal society, which was the foundation for the country's successful opening-up and modernization. "However, in Mao's era, there were some mistakes that we should not repeat," Shen said, adding that students' education was ruined during the Cultural Revolution when they were busy with political campaigns and smashing a lot of cultural heritage as Red Guards. Despite popular foreign depictions of Mao as a ruthless strongman who brought China into chaos, the Chinese government still upholds his positive legacy and his indelible role in the history of the Communist Party of China. "Mao is a great patriot and national hero, and a great man who led the Chinese people to change the destiny of the country," Chinese President and the leader of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping said at a seminar on December 26, 2013 to mark the 120th anniversary of Mao's birth. The authorities also repeatedly warned about some people's attempts to smear the past of the Party, as well as Mao's role. Experts said the tendency of some people to go to the other extreme, trying to deify everything about Mao and consider things in the market economy as "capitalist evils," is also worth paying attention to. Utopia and Red Song Society, two Chinese websites that gather leftist activists, on Thursday both ran a story attacking Alibaba's plan to run an Alcohol Festival on Friday to promote the sale of liquor. "Only those soulless counterrevolutionaries and traitors celebrate the day of the passing of the Chinese people's great leader Chairman Mao, what on earth are you doing, Ma Yun?" said the article, calling out the name of the founder of China's largest e-commerce platform. ^ top ^

Political advisors discuss protection of natural conservation zones (Xinhua)
2016-09-09
China's political advisors discussed the establishment and management of natural conservation zones at a biweekly meeting Thursday. Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, presided over the meeting. China established its first natural conservation zone in 1956. Currently China is still at a stage of rapid urbanization and industrialization, facing much environment pressure and problems in managing natural conservation zones, according to the political advisors. The political advisors said protection is the first principle in the management of natural conservation zones. They suggested moderately exploiting natural resources while improving protection of these zones, balancing economic development and environment protection. They proposed piloting a program of national parks and increasing financial compensation for damages from construction projects. Strict law enforcement to ban any development activities in forbidden natural areas was also suggested. Suggestions were also raised on the protection of marine and aquatic organism, calling for protecting the source of China's major rivers, including the Yangtze River and Yellow River, through legislation. ^ top ^

China to ban religious profiteering (Xinhua)
2016-09-08
China is amending a religious affairs regulation to ban personal profiteering from religions. Religious groups, institutes of education and sites are all non-profit, and no individuals or organizations should divide up, occupy or embezzle their property and revenue, according to a draft amendment to the 2004 regulation, released Wednesday by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council for soliciting public opinion until Oct. 7. No organizations and individuals are entitled to ownership nor rights of use of religious venues if they donate money to build the venues, and they may not gain "economic benefits" from the venues, the draft amendment reads. The amendment was made to "ensure citizen's religious freedom, safeguard religious and social harmony and regulate religious affairs." In tourist resorts featuring religious activities, buildings should be subject to the style and environment of the religious activity venues. Authorities should coordinate the interests of the venues and resorts, protecting normal religious activities and the rights of religious staff and believers. Religious groups are allowed to accept donations from overseas individuals and organizations, based on relevant regulations and without any conditions attached, it said, but donations exceeding 100,000 yuan (about 15,000 U.S. dollars) must be reported to local authorities for approval. Any unapproved acceptance of donations from home or overseas will be punished. Those who, without authorization, organize believers to pay homage, receive training or attend meetings and other activities overseas will be fined from 20,000 to 200,000 yuan, and may be held criminally responsible. The draft also reiterates that it is illegal to preach, hold religious activities, or establish religious organs or sites in schools. ^ top ^

China ramps up security as Wukan village chief Lin Zuluan jailed, fined for bribery (SCMP)
2016-09-08
The elected leader of a Guangdong village that made headlines for anticorruption protests five years ago, was sentenced on Thursday to more than three years in jail and fined 200,000 yuan (HK$233,000) for taking bribes. Lin Zuluan, 70, pleaded guilty to two corruption charges in the Chancheng district court in Foshan,Southcn.com, a provincial online portal, reported. Lin was found guilty of taking more than 440,000 yuan in bribes in relation to building projects in Wukan and 150,000 yuan in kickbacks in other deals on behalf of the village committee, according to the report. The court found Lin not guilty of a separate charge of rigging bids for official contracts. Upset by the verdict, Lin's family said they felt cheated by the “injustice” of the trial. They said they had cooperated with the authorities and thought Lin would get a suspended sentence. Residents of Wukan have been staging symbolic daily protests in the village since the day after Lin was detained in June. After the verdict, they said they would demonstrate twice a day. Five years since landmark protests, Chinese village stirs again A relative said the trial was “non-transparent”, “unfair” and “unjust”. “The court had 30 seats for the public. Twenty of these were occupied by outsiders chosen at random by the court, five were reserved for appointed village members, and rest went to three family members and the two state security agents watching us,” the relative said. He said the entire village committee took the kickbacks so Lin should not take all the blame. “It was also unfair and illegal for the court to refuse to let us hire our own lawyers,” he said. Lin was represented by two government-appointed lawyers. The trial was conducted amid tight security in and around the court, including road blocks by special police with dogs. One court employee said colleagues not directly involved in the trial were told to take the day off. Uniformed and plain clothes police patrolled an area of about 1km around the court. The court's main entrances were blocked and outsiders, including civilians who wanted to enter the court for other matters were turned away. Security for Lin's trial was far tighter than that for the subversion trial of Guangzhou rights lawyer Tang Jingling earlier this year. During Tang's trial, civilians and court officials were still allowed to enter the courthouse while reporters were only barred within 10 metres of the building. A shop owner said the road blocks for Lin's trial began on Wednesday night. “What is all this? I've never seen anything like this before,” she said. Zhuhai-based social worker Zhen Jianghua was taken away from his home by police on Wednesday night for a second time this week, for allegedly “provoking illegal demonstrations” after his recent visits to Wukan. A prominent Guangzhou-based rights activist who was barred from entering the court said he was shocked by the security measures. “This was to prevent his supporters from attending the trial of their directly elected village chief who was accused of corruption,” he said. Lin had been planning a speech in June to rally support for a new round of petitions over unresolved land disputes, which villagers said had been stalled by officials. But police took him away before he could make the speech. Wukan made headlines five years ago after staging a series of defiant protests against land seizures and alleged corruption. The protests in 2011 ended with the provincial government backing down and allowing villagers to directly elect their own officials. ^ top ^

Climate change in East Asia caused by China's air pollution, study reveals... because it's making goods for the West (SCMP)
2016-09-08
The air pollution China generates in producing goods for Western consumers is changing the climate in East Asia, a recent study shows. But the “world factory's” reliance on coal and lack of pollution control technologies also contributes to its high emissions, scientists say. A paper by researchers in China, the United States and Britain said the climate impact caused by manufacturing activities related to exports from developing countries in East Asia is greater than that caused by domestic consumption. China is the largest manufacturer and the largest exporter in the region. Manufacturing-led development has caused massive environmental problems in countries such as China and India. Particles in the air, known as aerosols, have been blamed for causing Beijing's notorious smog. The minuscule particles generated by burning coal or oil are slowly changing the temperature and rain patterns of East Asia, said Peking University scientist Lin Jintai, who co-led the study. The climate impact is driven by consumption in western Europe and North America, according to the study published in Nature Geoscience this week. Compared with greenhouse gases, the culprit of global warming, aerosol particles remain in the atmosphere for a shorter period of time, and their climate effects are the strongest in the regions where they are emitted, the study said. The study shows that export-related air pollution has a cooling effect in East Asia, masking the region from some of the impact from global warming, said Steven Davis, a scientist at the University of California, Irvine, who participated in the study. But the pollution may also bring undesirable weather patterns, he said in an email. “As developing countries are doing most of the production, they are exposed to higher pollution and stronger climate effects,” Lin said. “But some of the effects will spread to other regions as well.” Lin said the next step was to study the scope and magnitude of climate changes caused by global trade. A 2014 study co-led by Davis found that 17 to 36 per cent of China's emissions, depending on the type of pollutants, were related to the manufacture of goods exported to other countries. A major part of this comes from the country's coal-fired plants. In 2007, 75 per cent of China's primary energy was supplied by coal, the highest level among major energy-consuming nations. In the United States and Europe, where factories were subject to strict environmental laws, producers usually had cleaning facilities on their smokestacks to scrub out aerosols, Davis said. “China is increasingly requiring such pollution control technologies, but there is still a lot of room for progress,” he said. After more than three decades of unbridled growth, Beijing is battling severe pollution across the nation by reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and tightening environmental regulations. A revised environmental protection law came into effect this year to give Chinese authorities more powers to punish polluting firms and individuals. Hu Bingqing, a scientist at Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, said industrial restructuring was the most effective way to combat pollution, as the nation now hosted some of the most polluting sectors, such as steel, glass and chemical manufacturing. A large amount of what is produced is for domestic use. China consumed about 700 million tonnes of crude steel in 2015, compared to the 112 million tonnes it shipped overseas. The country is also the world's top consumer of chemicals and cement. ^ top ^

Vice Premier calls for intelligent manufacturing (Xinhua)
2016-09-08
Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai has called for greater efforts to boost the country's intelligent manufacturing and improve competitiveness in the manufacturing industry. During a tour to southern China's Guangdong Province Wednesday to Thursday, Ma visited a series of high-end manufacturers, information technology businesses, and intelligent equipment manufacturers. He said significant progress had been made since the introduction of the "Made in China 2025" initiative last year. The "Made in China 2025" initiative is a 10-year national plan designed to transform China from a manufacturing giant into a high-tech manufacturing power. Robots and high-end computer controlled machine tools are among 10 key fields listed in the initiative. Ma stressed innovation and cooperation in the industry, stating that firms and universities should make breakthroughs in core technology as soon as possible. He called for the building of a standardized intelligent manufacturing system, developing of software and hardware, and training of personnel. Greater efforts should be made to upgrade traditional manufacturing and to establish smart factories, he said. Ma also called for integration of the Internet and the manufacturing industry, to move the sector up the value chain. ^ top ^

Cabinet appoints, removes officials (Xinhua)
2016-09-08
The State Council, China's cabinet, has appointed several new senior officials, according to a circular issued on Thursday. Li Shuming was named deputy head of the State Forestry Administration; Xuan Changneng was appointed China Securities Regulator Commission chairman's assistant; Zhou Changkui was nominated as deputy head of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs. The State Council also named Shi Qingfeng and Lin Shanqing deputy heads of the State Oceanic Administration, replacing Chen Lianzeng and Zhang Hongsheng. Zhong Zhihua will replace Pei Gang as the president of Tongji University, Shanghai. Meanwhile, the cabinet decided that Feng Fei will no longer hold the post of vice minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and removed Xia Yong from the post of deputy head of the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council. ^ top ^

Mental compensation stipulated in miscarriages of justice (Xinhua)
2016-09-07
China's top legal authorities have for the first time clearly stipulated that victims of miscarriages of justice have the right to compensation for mental anguish. The Supreme People's Court (SPC) on Wednesday revealed a judicial explanation saying that compensation applications can be filed in non-criminal cases where people have been wrongfully subjected to law enforcement. To redress judicial infringement, the court and its staff should eliminate ill effects, rehabilitate reputations and extend formal apologies to victims. For mishandled cases which result in serious harm, the judiciary should apologize and pay compensation for mental suffering. Those who have had their assets illegally frozen or sold off by the court can also ask for compensation. ^ top ^

Chinese government decides to strengthen weak links in crucial fields (Xinhua)
2016-09-06
The Chinese government has decided to strengthen weak links in crucial fields including poverty alleviation, infrastructure, post-disaster water conservancy control and development of new growth engines. The decision, which is intended to achieve more balanced and effective development and provide driving force for the supply-side structural reform, was adopted Monday at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. At the meeting, Premier Li heard a report by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on the country's efforts in improving key weak links as well as measures to be taken down the road. "The key to expanding demands and creating a proper context for China's structural reform is to improve its own weak areas," Li said, "China is still a developing country with huge development gaps among regions and also between rural and urban areas. We need to work hard to expand effective investment and make stronger efforts in improving weak links." Improving the country's weak links is one of the major tasks set for the country's 13th Five-Year Plan for national socioeconomic development (2016-2020), and was raised during the Central Economic Conference in Beijing last December. Speaking at the meeting, Li pointed out that reducing excess capacity, lowering corporate cost and improving weak links for better livelihood of the people will be the government's core tasks in 2016, in the process of maintaining economic growth within a proper range. It also plays a indispensable role in China's structural reform. "Currently we are still under pressure on maintaining stable economic growth and creating jobs, and our achievements in the first half of this year did not come easily," Li said. China's economy grew by 6.7 percent in the first half of 2016, within the targeted range between 6.5 percent to 7 percent. Yet the country still needs more efforts to improve the country's weak links such as infrastructure and poverty alleviation. As decided at the Monday meeting, further measures will be taken in the following areas. First, on poverty alleviation. Efforts will be made to lift 10 million people out of poverty by the end of 2016. Second, hydro engineering and urban water logging prevention infrastructures will be better enhanced, especially in areas that were flooded this summer, and another 10 new flood prevention projects will be started this year. Third, infrastructure building will step further, with a total of 800 billion yuan (about 120 billion U.S. dollars) to be invested in railway construction, and construction of over 2,000 kilometers of underground pipelines will commence this year. Public facilities for the elderly will also be improved. Further support will also be offered in developing agriculture, technological and equipment upgrading as well as nurturing new economic driving forces. The government is expected to play a leading role in strengthening these area of weakness, while more market access will be open to private investors. Areas such as civil airport operation, telecommunication, oil-gas exploration are to be open to private investors. Li stressed that such efforts need to be implemented with clear focus on critical infrastructure projects as well as accelerating institutional reforms to create a good environment for improving weak links. Financing as well as ways to attract foreign investment will also be innovated. The meeting urges all departments to come up with a clear time line. "We need to better intensify both positive and negative incentives to generate enthusiasm from all departments," Li said, "Meanwhile, lawful rights of all market players must be protected, and harsher penalties are necessary for governments who fail their duties." ^ top ^

China says it has caught third of 100 most wanted graft suspects who fled overseas (SCMP)
2016-09-06
China has bought back to the country one-third of those on its top 100 list of most wanted corruption suspects who have fled overseas, the ruling Communist Party's top graft-buster said on Tuesday. China issued the list in 2014 of people subject to an Interpol “red notice”, the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant. Since then, 33 of those people have been caught, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a short statement. Over the past two years since setting up a team to chase graft suspects across the globe, the body has returned to China 1,915 people from more than 70 countries, along with 7.47 billion yuan (HK$8.7 billion), it said. It provided no other details. China has been trying to get increased international cooperation to hunt down suspected corrupt officials who have fled overseas since President Xi Jinping began a war against deeply rooted graft almost four years ago. Western countries, however, have been reluctant to help or to sign extradition treaties not wanting to send people back to a country where rights groups say mistreatment of criminal suspects remains a problem. They also complain China is unwilling to provide proof of their crimes. China has instead turned to persuasion to get people back from countries like Canada and the United States where many graft suspects have gone. Separately, the commission said that G20 countries who had just finished a summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou had agreed to set up a research centre in China to look at the issue of returning corrupt officials and their assets. The G20 communique said the research centre would “be operated in line with international norms”. Deputy head of the commission's international cooperation department Cai Wei said the research centre would help China's global efforts to fight corruption. Despite China's public commitment to fighting graft internationally, China suspended an international anti-corruption task force earlier this year after taking over the G20 presidency because Chinese companies declined to participate. ^ top ^

What happened to the billions of yuan seized in China's anti-graft campaign? (SCMP)
2016-09-04
In February 1980, Wang Shouxin, the party secretary of a local fossil fuel company in Heilongjiang, was executed on the same day she was convicted of bribery to the tune of 530,000 yuan (HK$615,000). Her show trial, billed as the largest corruption case since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, took place in a stadium filled with more than 5,000 people and was faithfully documented by reporters and photographers. To put the scale of her offence in context, the average monthly salary of a worker was around 50 yuan. Since then, thanks to reforms and the open-door policy, the Chinese economy has grown exponentially – and along with it the brazenness and greed of corrupt officials. They have gone from extracting bribes worth millions in the 1990s and tens of millions in the first decade of this century to hundreds of millions of yuan today. The higher the official's rank, the bigger the bribes. According to state media, since President Xi Jinping (習近平) launched his anti-graft campaign in late 2012, about 37 officials with the rank of deputy government minister or above have been convicted of corruption. Together, their cases account for 3 billion yuan's worth of bribes. Bai Enpei, the former party secretary of Yunnan ( 雲南 ), has the dubious honour of having taken the most – about 250 million yuan, according to public records. Xi's campaign targeting both “tigers and flies” – powerful leaders and lowly bureaucrats – has netted thousands of officials, so the total sum of bribes runs at least into several tens of billions of yuan, if not hundreds of billions. Exact figures are hard to come by, but an official from the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a rare interview last year that the anti-graft watchdog alone had confiscated a total of 20.1 billion yuan from corrupt officials between late 2012 and June last year. That is in addition to the bribes later documented and confiscated by courts. Although mainlanders have long lost the capacity to feel shocked by the amount of bribes each official has accumulated, there has been a rising chorus of voices on the internet demanding more transparency over how the money was seized and, more importantly, what has happened to it since. Confusion over this stems partly from the mainland's extraordinary systems to investigate corrupt officials and track and document their assets. Usually, an anti-graft probe is initiated and overseen by the CCDI, which employs extra-legal means to detain and question officials suspected of corruption for as long as is needed, until investigators are satisfied with the evidence. Moreover, the CCDI appears to have carte blanche to determine and confiscate any suspected illicit gains before turning the suspect, along with the selected evidence, to prosecutors for a criminal trial. This helps explain why the value of bribes determined in court is often much smaller than the amount previously reported in official media, causing disbelief and dismay among ordinary mainlanders. For instance, Zhou Yongkang ( 周永康 ), formerly the mainland's security tsar, was convicted partly on bribery charges relating to 129.77 million yuan while his son, Zhou Bin, was convicted of accepting 124 million yuan in bribes. The combined amount, though staggering by any standard, is still much less than the tens of billions they were reported to have received. In the interview in July last year, which was under-reported, the CCDI official for the first time tried to explain the whereabouts of the confiscated bribes. She said most of the cash was handed over directly to the state treasury after the trials and if the bribes were in the form of properties or expensive paintings they were auctioned off first. In addition, some money went to the victims if they could be found. The courts reportedly followed similar rules. Since the interview, the amounts seized by the CCDI are likely only to have grown, particularly given the high-profile multi-agency campaign it is leading to hunt down corrupt officials who have fled overseas. The money repatriated from abroad reportedly runs into several billions of yuan. Given the rising public interest in these ever-expanding sums of confiscated money, there is an urgent need for the authorities to improve the disclosure mechanism to better inform the public about how the money is used – rather than just giving bland excuses that the money simply went to the state treasury. Some suggest the officials should release regular updates on the money seized and, more importantly, consider putting the money to better use by setting up funds or charities to help the poor and disadvantaged. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Ideas will disappear if they are false, Donald Tsang says in comments on Hong Kong independence (SCMP)
2016-09-09
The former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen for the first time has chimed in on the discourse over the city's independence, saying ideas would “automatically disappear” if they were not genuine. He also said the biggest challenge the city faced was the expression of “extreme” views with the loss of neutral or middle ground politics, but believed Hongkongers were “clever” and would make wise choices about their long-term interests. “Some things, if true, cannot be eliminated no matter how hard you try; some things that are false or insubstantial, you don't have to do anything and they will automatically disappear,” Tsang told local newspaper AM730 in the second part of an interview. Tsang – a devout Catholic – also referred to the spread of Christianity two millennia ago as an example of a “truth” thatgrew from a belief held by a small Jewish sect into one of the world's dominant religions. “It's like how people saw Christianity 2,000 years ago … At the time, an elder from the Jewish faith said: 'There's no need to worry, we see a lot of cults springing up, no need to mind it. After a while [they] will disappear on [their] own',” he said. “If it is really the truth, you won't be able to suppress it, so by the same token, you can relax when looking at this problem [of Hong Kong independence].” Tsang agreed that more communication and exchanges between political groups and the government were necessary but said it would be easier to achieve if centrists were not being “pulled to extreme positions”. “When politically neutral and centrist positions continue to tear away … communication becomes more and more difficult. I think this is the challenge society faces.” Tsang, who has kept himself under the radar since he left office in 2012 amid a controversy over junkets and a subsequent probe by graft-busters, said it would not be fair for him to compare or comment on his successor Leung Chun-ying's performance as decisions were made based on the political context of the time. Tsang said that some of his achievements in office included having the ability to navigate the political environment of his time and putting in place policies such as minimum wage and public transport fare concessions for the elderly. Tsang, 71, who has been charged with two counts of misconduct in public office related to a plan to rent a three-storey penthouse in Shenzhen, will face trial in January. The former chief executive, who was the financial secretary before the 1997 handover, said Hong Kong's future development depended on the mainland, and missing out on opportunities offered by the growth of the mainland economy and its move towards a more open and internationalised route would be “very bad”. He linked Hongkongers' recent apathy towards mainlanders to a history of spending more than a hundred years apart and called for more mutual tolerance. “What I feel is that the tolerance the mainland has towards us is higher than the tolerance the few of us have towards mainlanders – this is something that worries me.” ^ top ^

Afraid to go home since election day, 'king of votes' Eddie Chu seeks police aid over death threats (SCMP)
2016-09-08
Eddie Chu Hoi-dick is seeking police assistance over “imminent” death threats he has received against himself and his family since he was elected as a lawmaker. Accompanied by a lawyer, New Territories West's “king of votes” arrived at police headquarters in Wan Chai at about 1pm to make a report. He has also sent a letter to Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying and Police Commander Stephen Lo Wai-chung requesting assistance. “There have been threats against me and my family since I ran for Legco,” Chu, 38, said. “The threats have dramatically escalated since I was elected.” “The death threat to me is imminent,” he added. Chu also said he had sought advice from a close protection specialist. He and his wife and daughter have not gone home since election day due to fear for their personal safety. “Now a lawmaker elected by 84,121 people is unable to go home and is threatened because of his political views,” he continued. “This is a direct attack on the rule of law. There will be outrage among my voters.” But Chu refrained from revealing details of the threats, saying disclosure at this stage would prejudice police investigation. Two other newly elected localists, Lau Siu-lai and Nathan Law Kwun-chung, as well as re-elected lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Occupy Central student leader Joshua Wong Chi-Fung were at the scene to show their support. They and a dozen supporters chanted: “Down with political violence! Je suis Chu Hoi-dick!” The independent candidate bagged 84,121 votes in New Territories West, the highest number obtained by any candidate in all five geographical constituencies. Over the years, Chu has fought a lone battle against rural forces, being a vocal critic of land abuse and exploitation of the small-house policy by rural landlords and developers. On Monday, Chu revealed that he was tailed by a white car which waited outside his home on election day. He then also said he had in May received a phone call from a village head, who asked him to stop digging into the issue over a brownfield site at Wang Chau, Yuen Long, where the government had abandoned a public housing project due to opposition from the rural gentry. ^ top ^

Unusual move: Hong Kong's anti-corruption watchdog invites lawmakers to headquarters
2016-09-08
In a rare gesture, all 70 members of the new Legislative Council have been invited to visit the city's anti-graft watchdog and meet its chief before the new council term starts next month. Veteran pan-democrat Leung Yiu-chung, who has been a lawmaker for 20 years, said it was the first time that such a meeting was held before the start of a Legco term. Leung believes that it could be partly because some of his allies were involved in controversies regarding declarations of interest. In June, Independent Commission Against Corruption investigators arrested League of Social Democrats legislator “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung over an undeclared HK$250,000 payment from media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying. According to a picture posted on Facebook by Democratic Party lawmaker-elect Lam Cheuk-ting, lawmakers received a letter from ICAC commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu, inviting them to visit the ICAC's headquarters on September 23. “We are organising this activity to introduce our anti-corruption laws and latest strategies to the new term of lawmakers... On that day, the commission's departmental chiefs and myself will host a meeting, a tour of the building, and a dialogue with other director-rank officers,” the letter reads. A spokesman for the ICAC said: “Inviting all members of the new-term Legco to visit the ICAC aims to foster better mutual understanding and communications. Moreover, they can be briefed of the latest development of the commission's anti-corruption work.” Twenty-six out of the 70 lawmakers in the next term are newcomers. Lam, a former ICAC investigator, said the meeting would be unrelated to the interest-declaration saga. “It is just a PR event, but I will go because many of my supporters want me to ask Peh about the commission's controversies,” Lam told the Post. He was referring to a crisis triggered by the removal of Rebecca Li Bo-lan as acting head of the anti-corruption agency's powerful investigative unit. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has distanced himself from the affair, amid speculation that Li was removed over an investigation into his receipt of HK$50 million from Australian firm UGL. Leung Yiu-chung told the Post that he will not attend the meeting because there is “no need”. ^ top ^

'Beijing trio' electoral threat allegations must be investigated by Hong Kong, says justice minister (SCMP)
2016-09-08
It is the government's job to follow up on allegations of electoral corruption even if it took place outside Hong Kong, the city's justice minister said on Thursday morning. Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung SC was speaking a day after Liberal Party's Ken Chow Wing-kan made the explosive revelation that he had dropped out of the Legislative Council polls last month after “three people from Beijing” threatened him in Shenzhen. They allegedly told him to withdraw from the poll to improve the chances of other pro-Beijing candidates. Chow said he had been asked to quit the race on three other occasions in Hong Kong since mid-July, with two of those incidents involving two “friends working for mainland organisations in Hong Kong”. Chow reported his case to the city's anti-graft watchdog, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, on Tuesday, but said he “did not think there is much the ICAC can do. It is outside its jurisdiction. The people are from Beijing”. Speaking before leaving Hong Kong for Chongqing on Thursday morning, Yuen said: “Even though it is difficult, if we believe there is evidence showing behaviour which might involve electoral corruption, I believe that the Hong Kong government is responsible, and it is necessary for us to follow up, so that our election can be free from graft.” “I think the ICAC is following up. If some of the events took place outside Hong Kong, it will make the investigation harder, but it does not mean that we will not continue to follow up,” he added. But Yuen's promises failed to impress Chow. “[ICAC] can follow up if it was done by Hong Kong people outside the city, but if it involved mainland officers, can Hong Kong officers arrest them?” Chow asked on a Commercial Radio programme on Thursday morning. “They cannot do so if it is an official act of officers from outside Hong Kong,” he added. Dismissing Chow's doubts, Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun and lawmaker-elect Lam Cheuk-ting said the Hong Kong and mainland governments must look into Chow's account. Lam, a former ICAC investigator, said that criminal acts by mainland officers, “if proven to be true, are not a matter of diplomacy. Diplomats enjoy diplomatic immunity, but mainland officers do not enjoy diplomatic immunity in Hong Kong”. He added that according to the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance, it is illegal for anyone to do anything, either in Hong Kong or outside the city, to force someone to withdraw from an election. Lawmaker To said: “President Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed in recent months that the 'one country, two systems' principle will not change or swerve... So I think the central government must look into this matter because if this is true, it contravenes the principle of 'one country, two systems' and the Basic Law's Article 22 (which states that no mainland authorities can meddle in Hong Kong's affairs).” On Yuen's remarks on Thursday morning, To said the minister was only giving “a model answer”. “What matters is whether anything is achieved... The government must demonstrate its determination to give people confidence,” he added. As for the man at the centre of the issue, when asked if the “friends” he mentioned worked for Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, Chow said he did not want to name any organisation. The liaison office could not be reached for comment. On Wednesday, outgoing Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, cast doubt on Chow's claims. “Where is the logic for persuading someone with around zero popularity to quit an election?” he asked. According to pre-election polls, Chow was on track to capture no more than 1 per cent of the votes in the nine-seat constituency. But Chow countered: “I won about 1,900 votes in the [Yuen Long] district council election last year, and in Tin Shui Wai alone, I have people cavassing for votes for me in 11 public housing estates and six subsidised housing estates.” ^ top ^

HK may face bumpy future as radicals join LegCo (Global Times)
2016-09-08
Observers have cautioned that Hong Kong may face a bumpy future after the anti-establishment camp, especially younger candidates who advocate greater autonomy or even independence, seized more seats than in the previous term in elections to the region's Legislative Council (LegCo). The council was already plagued by filibusters and if these delaying tactics continue given the bigger presence of more radical anti-establishment lawmakers, it could further cast a shadow on the region's future economy and politics, said the experts. The anti-establishment camp won 29 of the 70 seats in the legislature, with 23 pan-democrats and six localists. The pro-establishment camp took 41 seats, down from the 43 they won in the 2012 election, Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po reported, citing the final election results released Monday. Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told a press conference on Tuesday that he would soon start communicating with the new LegCo members, and would arrange for them to visit the Chinese mainland to learn more about the nation's development and Hong Kong policies. The new LegCo members include 23-year-old Nathan Law Kwun-chung, a student leader of the Hong Kong Occupy protest, and Yau Wai-ching from Youngspiration and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick from Land Justice League who support "self-determination." Law said he would not be afraid of conflict in the council, Lianhe Zaobao quoted him as saying. The central government issued a statement on Monday, noting that certain candidates were publicly advocating for "Hong Kong independence," which is absolutely unacceptable. Barriers to interaction The election result could bring barriers to future interactions between the central government and Hong Kong, and Hong Kong may end up lagging behind the rest of the country, Tian Feilong, assistant professor at Beijing-based Beihang University and an expert on Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "I can't imagine the future situation. The local government will have to listen to the LegCo, which will have almost half the seats from the anti-establishment camp, no matter if it's for legislation or funding," Choy So-yuk, a former legislator and member of DAB, a major pro-establishment party in Hong Kong, told the Global Times. It won't only make officials' lives and careers difficult, but the lives and welfare of the people would worsen as well, Choy said. "I'm very worried." The members who support Hong Kong independence would form a challenging camp that for sure would discuss this topic in the council and seek to obstruct other political arrangements with the central government, Tian said. "If Hong Kong continues to stay in this fever of localism and over-politicization, and won't calm down to think about its own identity and economy, it would be highly likely that relations between Hong Kong and the mainland will get worse, and they will lose development opportunities in the 'Belt and Road' initiative," Tian noted. Political priority Some 2.2 million Hong Kong residents voted in the 2016 LegCo election, accounting for 58 percent of the population, the highest in history. "This historic number of people who voted shows how sharp the conflict is and how severe the problem is, as many people are concerned about politics nowadays in Hong Kong," Zhang Dinghuai, deputy director of the Center for Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macao at Shenzhen University, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "Hong Kong is transforming from economy-priority to democracy-and-politics-priority, especially for the young generation, who hope to promote the Western democratic ideology through protests and win positions in the LegCo," said Queena Fan, a Hong Kong resident who has lived there for seven years. "Hong Kong is an international metropolis that relies on tertiary industries, I think it should be more tolerant," Wang Tanqing, who comes from the Chinese mainland and lives in Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Wednesday. ^ top ^

Oath to uphold Hong Kong's Basic Law will prove problematic for newly elected localists (SCMP)
2016-09-07
At least two localists who won seats in the legislature have said they will come up with their own distinct ways of taking the oath next month. Candidates who won in the general election will be sworn into office at the first Legislative Council meeting on October 12. According to the law, Legco members are required to swear to uphold the Basic Law, which might be a sticky issue with the six localist lawmakers-elect. Youngspiration's Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang, who is sympathetic towards the idea of Hong Kong independence, said he would wear some distinctive accessories and make symbolic gestures to show his disagreement with the oath. “I would like to insert 'I vow to you, Hong Kong People' to my oath of office script,” he said. Demosisto's Nathan Law Kwun-chung, another legislator-elect who advocates self-determination for the city, said he would learn from legislators from other countries when taking his oath. “When it comes to the parts that they don't agree with, they might make some gestures to show the public that they were not sincere,” he said. Back in 2004, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung was the first legislator to say additional lines, such as “vindicate June 4”, while he was being sworn in. Meanwhile, Law and Leung said they would also filibuster, should they deem it necessary. Leung said during a radio programme that rushing to occupy the Legco chairman's seat was another way he would consider blocking the government, adding that he would try to enter the term “Hong Kong independence” for discussion in the chamber. “We will stick to our principles and there is no bottom line for our fighting method in the Legco,” he said. The Demosisto leader told the Post that he was not afraid of physical confrontation in the legislature. “But more importantly I think there should be greater coordination between the civil society and legislators,” he said. “If we only protest in the legislature, [the government] can simply resolve it by dragging the issue out.” Democracy Groundwork's Lau Siu-lai, another legislator-elect who is an advocate for self-determination, said in addition to filibustering, she would also move motions in the legislature on issues that suit her platform. “By moving motions, on issues such as universal pension, it would lead greater public discussion,” she said. ^ top ^

'We will cooperate with friends and allies': Canada's Trudeau when asked about Hong Kong polls results (SCMP)
2016-09-06
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said human rights issues were addressed “fully and frankly” when he met Chinese leaders over the past week. Speaking to an audience at a luncheon on Tuesday in Hong Kong – a day after the city learned its Legislative Council elections results – Trudeau declined to comment on the rise of localist lawmakers. He would only say that Canada would cooperate with friends and allies. The Canadian leader was on a two-day visit, which began with a trip to the Sai Wan War Cemetery to commemorate fallen members of the Canadian army who fought against the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong in 1941. Trudeau then met with Hong Kong's wealthiest man Li Ka-shing before attending a luncheon in Admiralty, ahead of a brief meeting with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying later in the afternoon. Asked at the luncheon about how, as a leader of a Western democracy, he balanced human rights with business, Trudeau said he would not use the word “balance”, which implied a sense of trade-off. “I talked about the challenges [including] consular cases, rule of law, governance, corruption,” the prime minister said. International relations experts have raised concern about whether Trudeau would shy away from sensitive human rights issues as Canada was eager to increase trade with China. Trudeau stressed that his discussion on human rights with China was conducted in a “thoughtful, respectful and constructive” manner. CBC News reported Trudeau met Li Ka-shing, chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings, at Li's office in Central, and the pair discussed Canada's ties with China, Hong Kong, and Asia in general. The Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement between Hong Kong and Canada also took effect on Tuesday. Under it, the two sides undertake to “provide investors of the other side with fair, equitable and non-discriminatory treatment of investments”, according to the Hong Kong government. Earlier in the day, Trudeau paid his respects to those killed during the second world war and interred at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Sai Wan War Cemetery in Chai Wan, the military burial ground for most Commonwealth and Allied troops. The prime minister greeted a band of veterans including 96-year-old Peter Choi, chairman of the World War II Veterans' Association. Trudeau is scheduled to leave Hong Kong on Wednesday. ^ top ^

Middle-class voters turned out in big numbers for localists in Hong Kong Legislative Council polls, analysis shows (SCMP)
2016-09-06
Six localists grabbed a substantial portion of middle-class neighbourhood votes to win Sunday's Legislative Council elections, according to a study of the results by the South China Morning Post. Commentators and winners suggested various reasons for the trend, including election strategies and disillusionment with the pan-democrats' track record in recent years. Middle-class voters on Hong Kong Island appear to have taken to a shine to Nathan Law Kwun-chung, chairman of the post-Occupy youth activist group Demosisto, as nine out of 10 polling stations that provided him with the most votes were set up in private residential estates. Although Law had the backing of voters across his constituency, much of his support came from Eastern district. A polling station in Heng Fa Chuen in Chai Wan, a large private housing estate, provided him with 1,177 votes. Another 1,074 votes came through a nearby station in the Yue Wan public housing estate. Law, who at 23 is the youngest lawmaker in the history of the legislature, also received significant support from a station near Kornhill Gardens in Quarry Bay. Explaining his popularity with the middle class, Law said: “They are more likely to have received Westernised education and so might have a better understanding of what democracy is about.” The pro-democracy activist said Eastern district was one of his targets for heavy campaigning. In Kowloon West, Democracy Groundwork's Lau Siu-lai and Youngspiration's Yau Wai-ching shared many strongholds, with their 10 biggest vote clusters from polling stations in Hung Hom, Kowloon City and Yau Ma Tei. Many of the polling centres where the duo performed best were in the vicinity of private residential developments, such as Jubilant Place in Kowloon City, Whampoa Garden and Royal Peninsula in Hung Hom. Lau won more than 20 per cent of her votes in middle-class areas. She was most popular in the neighbourhood around the Yaumati Catholic Primary School polling station, where she won 1,329 votes. Lau said while her platform covered grass-roots issues such as demands for a universal pension scheme, her strategy might also have secured her strong support among the middle class. “I don't have a very resourceful party backing me so I can only rely on the internet for promotion, which I think tends to reach more middle-class voters,” she said. As for Yau, her strongest support base was in Whampoa Garden, which netted her 829 votes. In last year's district council elections, the Youngspiration candidate narrowly lost to pro-Beijing lawmaker Dr Priscilla Leung Mei-fun in Whampoa East. Veteran activist Eddie Chu Hoi-dick was the biggest winner among the localists, bagging a whopping 84,121 votes in New Territories West. His strongest support base was in the Pat Heung village area, where his group Land Justice League has engaged in extensive grass-roots work. He won 1,256 votes there. Six out of 10 polling stations that gave him the best results were in private residential areas around Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun and Tin Shui Wai. Only two of the localist winners – Civic Passion's Cheng Chung-tai and Youngspiration's Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang – had more public than private housing estate polling stations in their top 10 performing areas. Seven of Baggio Leung's top 10 polling stations were also in the neighbourhoods that coughed up the most number of votes for Hong Kong Indigenous candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei in the February by-election. He managed to hold on to Edward Leung's support base after he had to step in because the latter was disqualified over his pro-independence credentials. Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung was not surprised that the localist winners had so much middle-class backing. “Traditionally, pro-democracy candidates perform better in middle-class areas, while the pro-establishment camp usually does better in public housing estates,” he said. “That's because to win votes in public housing estates, it requires very strong grass-roots networking.” ^ top ^

Beijing takes firm stance opposing HK agitators (China Daily)
2016-09-06
Beijing underscored its "resolute opposition" to any form of "Hong Kong independence" activities, either within or outside of the special administrative region's Legislative Council, an official statement said on Monday. The statement, issued by the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, noted that certain organizations and candidates were publicly advocating "Hong Kong independence", capitalizing on the exposure afforded to them because of the LegCo election, which was held on Sunday. The statement reiterated that "Hong Kong independence" is against the Constitution of China, the Basic Law and relevant laws of the Hong Kong SAR, that it was a threat to China's sovereignty and security, damages the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and is counter to the fundamental interests of Hong Kong citizens. "We firmly support the Hong Kong SAR government to mete out penalties according to law," the statement said. The term of office of the newly-elected LegCo members will begin on Oct. 1. ^ top ^

Missing Hong Kong bookseller's daughter told it is 'not safe' to travel to Asia (SCMP)
2016-09-02
The daughter of one of five missing Hong Kong booksellers who were found detained on the mainland has said she has been told it is not safe to travel to Asia. Angela Gui, 22, who is studying in Britain, said she has not been in touch with her family in China since her father Gui Minhai, a Swedish national, disappeared from his home in Pattaya, Thailand in October last year, before resurfacing on the mainland and making confessions on state TV. Gui, 51, was one of five booksellers operating in the city whose disappearances sparked widespread speculation that they had been abducted by mainland agents acting illegally. Gui's daughter told British newspaper the Guardian that Swedish police advised her not to travel to Asia. “[This] is very difficult for me,” she told the paper. “I am concerned not only for myself but for my family. I may not be allowed into China if I tried to visit. I have not been in touch with my family in Asia since this happened because of concerns for their safety.” Gui said she had been given information by the Swedish embassy in Beijing, who last saw her father in March. She said she believed her father was held without charge in his hometown of Ningbo. Gui said she would like the Swedish authorities to be more proactive in securing her father's release. She said she planned to launch a website campaigning for her father's release soon. Three of Gui Minhai's colleagues, Lam Wing-kee, Cheung Chi-ping and Lui Por, went missing on the mainland in October last year, while another, Lee Po, disappeared from Hong Kong. The four have all been released either on the mainland or have returned to Hong Kong. One of them, Lam Wing-kee, spoke out in June about being abducted by mainland authorities and detained on the mainland. ^ top ^

Reports of irregularities and influencing tarnish Hong Kong Legco vote (SCMP)
2016-09-04
When Chan Sin-yee presented her ID card to a polling officer yesterday hoping to cast her first ever vote in a Legislative Council election, she was shocked to see her name already crossed out in red. She was told there could be three possibilities: she had voted already (which she insisted was not the case), an officer had mistakenly crossed out her name, or, in the worst scenario, someone claiming to be her had appeared earlier at the Yan Chai Hospital Wong Wha San Secondary School polling station. “I feel helpless and angry,” Chan, a University of Hong Kong student, said. “I argued for half an hour to cast a ballot, but was told I could only take a tendered ballot, meaning it would not be counted tonight.” Chan was not alone in reporting irregularities in a poll seen as the most critical in Hong Kong's postcolonial polity, with the Electoral Affairs Commission reporting to have received more than 1,000 complaints on election day. Kevin Law, 38, complained to police after he was similarly told his name had been crossed out. “It is an erosion of my civil right,” Law said at the Raimondi College polling station on Robinson Road. Some voters also found themselves unable to vote in the super seats – a functional constituency supposed to apply automatically to any eligible voter not registered in any other trade-based seat. The five so-called super seats are contested by district councillors and returned by 3.5 million registered voters who are permitted to cast a second vote in the trade-based constituency in addition to the geographical constituencies. “But I found out I had only one vote when I arrived at the polling station,” a man who would only identify himself as Cheung told the Post. “The officer told me I did not register for the super seat. “They gave me a form and said I could vote in four years' time.” The government introduced super seats in 2012 and they did not require registration. On his Facebook account, another user reported his father had a similar experience. “We requested to see evidence that he willingly gave up the status as a super seat voter. We waited four hours but no one called us back,” he wrote. Natalie Fong Yuet-mei, a New Territories West voter, said she was given a ballot paper for the geographical constituency, but not for the super seat with staff saying her name was not in the records. She said she moved house in 2014, but had updated her address with the electoral office. “The candidate of my choice could lose because I couldn't give him my vote today,” Fong said. “I can't help thinking whether this is a conspiracy. This is not the first time the government has organised an election and it has never happened,” he said. The election was also beset by accusations of voters being influenced, with claims of the elderly being ferried to polling stations from their homes under instruction of who to vote for. The Social Workers' General Union claimed that staff at the Shun Yan Elderly Centre had said as residents filed onto a bus: “These two are smart enough. Let them go.” Speaking in Cantonese and Putonghua, they told the elderly to vote for Ann Chiang Lai-wan and Starry Lee Wai-king, both of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan lodges protest after Armenia deports Taiwanese fraud suspects to mainland China (SCMP)
2016-09-08
Taiwan's government has lodged a protest after the Armenian government deported 78 Taiwanese suspected of telecom fraud to mainland China, the latest flare-up in tensions between Beijing and Taipei over such deportations. Taiwan has been angered by several incidents this year in which countries around the world, including Kenya, Cambodia and Malaysia, have deported Taiwanese wanted on fraud charges back to the mainland rather than to Taiwan. Mainland China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and most countries have diplomatic ties with Beijing rather than Taipei and officially recognise that the island is part of China. The state-run news agency Xinhua said late on Wednesday that Armenian police had deported 129 Chinese telecom fraud suspects, including 78 from Taiwan to China. The suspects were arrested when Armenian police raided six locations on August 20, seizing a large amount of equipment including computers and smart phones, Xinhua said. China's Public Security Ministry sent a team to Armenia to deal with the issue on August 26, the report added. Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, the island's top mainland China policymaking body, said it had expressed deep regret and a strong protest to Beijing at the move. The mainland has said previously it has a right to extradite these people as they are suspected of defrauding Chinese nationals and have caused great distress and harm. Xinhua said the Armenia-based fraudsters “had been falsely presenting themselves as law enforcement officers to extort money from people on the Chinese mainland through telephone calls”. They cheated people out of more than 7 million yuan (HK$8.1 million), it added. Beijing has informed Taiwan about the case, Xinhua said. ^ top ^

Japan and Taiwan cooperate over Tokyo raid on drugs ring (SCMP)
2016-09-06
Japanese law enforcement authorities said on Monday they seized more than 150kg of stimulants several weeks ago and have arrested three Taiwanese suspects in the case. Officials from the Organised Crime Control Bureau of the Tokyo metropolitan police and Tokyo customs officers said 154kg of stimulants with a street value of ¥10.7 billion (HK$800 million) were seized in the case in late July. They said the drugs had been hidden in 216 cardboard boxes containing LED lights that were transported to Japan by a cargo ship that originated in Guangzhou, China. After the ship docked at the Port of Tokyo, the drugs were transported to a warehouse in the city of Kisarazu in Chiba prefecture. On July 24, three Taiwanese were arrested after they were caught transporting 5kg of the stimulants from the same warehouse. The rest of the drugs were seized from the warehouse and the suspects' apartment. Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau said in a statement on Monday that it had cooperated with Japan in the case. The bureau said it learned last December that a group of suspected international drug traffickers were smuggling amphetamine to Japan and Taiwan from a third country by various means and that Japanese gang members had come to Taiwan on several occasions to meet with their Taiwanese suspects. It said it asked its Japanese counterpart for assistance and the two sides began exchanging intelligence. They subsequently learned the drug traffickers were smuggling amphetamine to Taiwan and Japan by concealing it in shipping containers. A search of containers by the Japanese police in Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures on July 24 turned up a total of 173kg of amphetamine and police also arrested four Taiwanese nationals suspected of being recruited by a Japanese gang, the bureau said. It estimated that the drugs seized had a street value of ¥12.1 billion The Japanese side did not mention the case of containers searched in Kanagawa prefecture, nor the arrest of a fourth Taiwanese. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Growth follows 144-hour visa-free policy (China Daily)
2016-09-08
A 144-hour visa-free entry policy, which allows greater flexibility for foreigners who come to Shanghai and nearby provinces, has boosted the number of inbound tourists in the Yangtze River Delta. The Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection said that as of Sept 1, more than 18,000 foreign tourists this year had taken advantage of the policy to enter Shanghai for a short stay - 60 percent more than in 2015. Since Jan 30, when China enacted the expanded visa-free policy, eligible visitors or businesspeople traveling in the Yangtze River Delta area - Shanghai, Hangzhou or Nanjing - automatically qualify for 144 hours for business or simply to explore the region. Visitors from 51 countries can enjoy the policy, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. In the past, Shanghai and other important mainland tourism destinations only offered a 72-hour visa-free stay for inbound foreign visitors. Travel industry insiders say the average stay of foreign visitors is around 102 hours. Growth follows 144-hour visa-free policy "I think it is a useful policy for travelers who pass by Shanghai for a short stop then leave for another country. I've recommended it to some of my friends back in Canada who plan to take a trip to Asia," said Naeim Mahdavi, a Canadian teacher working at the High School Affiliated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University. With 144 hours and an enlarged region that includes Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, more foreign tourists will take advantage of the convenience, Mahdavi said. Industry insiders all attribute the growth to a rebound in inbound tourism in China. In the first half of this year, just under 68 million visits were paid by overseas visitors, a jump of 3.8 percent year-on-year. Visits by foreigners reached 13.47 million, a 9 percent increase. Liu Simin, vice-president of the tourism branch of the China Society for Futures Studies, said China should take a more active approach in exploring tourism resources in addition to ancient cultural history and natural landscapes. "Decades have passed, but the most popular tourism destinations haven't changed. We should provide something more besides the Great Wall, the Palace Museum and the Summer Palace," he said. "China is too big for one trip. We should provide a friendly environment so that visitors will come for a second or third trip, and even recommend China to their friends and relatives." "And this means China needs a new way of introducing itself and a foreign-friendly environment for inbound tourists," he added. ^ top ^

Global business leaders seek opportunities at Xi'an summit (Xinhua)
2016-09-06
Business leaders from "Belt and Road" countries and international organizations gathered in northwest Chinese city of Xi'an Tuesday to deepen both understanding and cooperation. Government representatives from 52 countries and regions including Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Greece, diplomats in China, commerce chamber chairs and entrepreneurs, altogether more than 500 delegates, attended the opening ceremony of the 2016 Xi'an Silk Road Business Summit and SRCIC Cooperation & Development Conference. Wang Jinzhen, vice chairman of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said the Belt and Road is a long-term systematic project that requires both cooperation between countries and participation of business associations and non-government institutions. The summit will discuss an "Internet Silk Road", a cross-border financial services platform, a key cities cooperation platform and a capital exchange mechanism under the framework of Belt and Road, said Hu Heping, governor of northwest China's Shaanxi Province. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

China rescues two injured DPRK sailors (Xinhua)
2016-09-08
Chinese maritime authorities came to the aid of two sailors on a cargo vessel who suffered burns when their ship caught fire off the coast of east China's Shandong Province. The maritime search and rescue center of Weihai City received an emergency call at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, from Tanzania-registered cargo vessel "Jin Long," some 17 nautical miles southeast of Shidao, Weihai. The center immediately dispatched a rescue vessel with medical staff on board, said the Weihai Maritime Safety Administration. At around 1 p.m., the two injured sailors, both nationals of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), were transferred to shore and taken to the Shidao People's Hospital for treatment. They are in stable condition, said the administration. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Domestic violence to be handled as felony (Montsame)
2016-09-08
The cabinet, on the regular meeting of Wednesday, considered the draft new version of the Law on Combat against Domestic Violence and decided to submit to Parliament. The law has been revised, outlining that domestic violence will be considered as felony and will be imposed criminal responsibilities. When adopted, the law will provide legal grounds of domestic violence prevention, early investigations, interception and safety of victims. ^ top ^

Conference of Asian Scientists on green development to round up (Montsame)
2016-09-08
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia is hosting the “Role of Scientific Field in the Green Growth” international scientific conference these days at the Ministry's Hall of Consensus. The meeting is being organized on Wednesday in Ulaanbaatar, by the Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia (AASSA), Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Education, Culture, Sciences and Sports. The Association affiliates 34 scientific institutions of more than 30 countries. It was established in 2012 to promote cooperation between scholars and scientists. The Mongolian Academy of Sciences is an active member of this association, having its president as the member of Board of AASSA. The scientific conference is to bring together over 60 scholars from Mongolia, South Korea, Russia, China, Nepal, Bangladesh and Iran, and will consider 15 scientific papers. The meeting will complete today. ^ top ^

Ulaanbaatar and Hohhot to boost ties (Montsame)
2016-09-08
The Chairman of the Citizens' Representatives Khural of Ulaanbaatar, Mr Ts.Sandui and the Chairman of the Standing committee of the People's Representatives House of Hohhot of Chinese Inner Mongolia, Mr Yong Gonghe signed a Memorandum of Understanding on expanding cooperation, on September 5. This year is marking the 25th anniversary of sisterhood ties between the two cities. In accordance with the MoU, the cities will upgrade ties in economy, education, culture, tourism and other fields. Recalling the attendance of the Mayor of Hohhot at the Northeast Asian Mayors' Forum, held in Ulaanbaatar, Mr Ts.Sandui confirmed the UB Mayor S.Batbold is paying a visit to Hohhot this year. ^ top ^

“Mongolia is attracting foreign investments and reviving its economy” (Montsame)
2016-09-08
The government of Mongolia is focusing on reviving economy and attracting foreign investments as the governmental actions priority, said J.Erdenebat, the Prime Minister of Mongolia at a courtesy call he paid Thursday on Geoff Regan, the Speaker of the House of Commons (lower house) of the Canadian Parliament on an official visit to Mongolia. The Premier said the Mongolia-Canada relations and cooperation have been expanding year by year in all spheres, and emphasized that the investment and economic sectors are the major spheres of bilateral bilateral relations, therefore are contributing to their deepening. “Canada is one of the Third Neighbors of Mongolia and is an important partner in North America. So, Mongolia aspires to progress the ties on a comprehensive partnership level,” the Premier underlined. He added that the Mongolia-Canada intergovernmental agreement on promotion and protection of investments established today will open Mongolia's door broader to Canadian investors. “Canada is leading today among other counties by the size of investments made to Mongolia. I thank Canada for rendering official developmental assistance to Mongolia on behalf of the government. I will focus my attention to making the Canadian aid more fruitful and adequate,” he said. J.Erdenebat PM then expressed the willingness to learn Canadian experiences in boosting important sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, renewable energy, finance, environmentally-friendly industries, science, technology, education, health, tourism and green development. The Canadian Speaker believes that the intergovernmental agreement will contribute to broadening bilateral cooperation, and thanked the Mongolian government for taking actions to create a favorable condition for foreign investors. ^ top ^

Visits of state leaders to Mongolia reviewed (Montsame)
2016-09-07
The cabinet discussed results of visits paid by Park Geun-hye, the President of the Republic of Korea; Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan; Li Keqiang, the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China; Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; and Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore to Mongolia. Related Ministers were tasked to take immediate actions for realizing agreements reached during the visits. For example, the Minister of Construction and Urban Development was obliged to exploit some part of non-refundable aid of CNY 350 million to be given from China for re-planning of ger areas in Ulaanbaatar city. It was agreed during the visit of Li Keqiang. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-09-07
The cabinet meeting held Wednesday approved strategy of actions strategy and organizational chart of nine Ministries except the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Justice and Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sport. - A government decision was made to allot money from the government reserves to mark the 100th anniversary of Tsedenbal Yumjaa, an outstanding political and social figure, who served as the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Mongolian People's Party. - The cabinet approved a rule of the state ownership representation in parastatal legal subjects. This rule reflects requirements for those people representing state ownership, their duties and rights. - The cabinet discussed a draft Mongolia-Canada agreement on promotion and joint protection of investments. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was authorized to establish the agreement with Canada. ^ top ^

Non-communicable disease rate has greater impact on country's growth, than imagined (Montsame)
2016-09-06
Head of the Parliament Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education and Sciences L.Enkh-Amgalan MP received September 5 the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Mongolia, Dr Soe Nyunt U and a joint team of the United Nations specialized agencies. The UN members have agreed on the fact that the key factors of the major development problems in most countries are the rate of noncommunicable diseases, socio-economic growth and poverty. Therefroe, the team intends to launch a program on the combat against and prevention of noncommunicable diseases in Mongolia between September 7 and 11. The team is to complete studies and economic estimations on the intended frameworks for attracting investment and raising the policymakers' awareness to early detection and prevention of noncommunicable diseases, Dr Soe informed the hosts it is the second visit for the team members to Mongolia, succeeding their research on the rate of Hepatitis B and C infections in Mongolia. “We formed this team in 2013 in order to support the UN activities. Noncommunicable diseases are divided in major parts, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, airway disease and diabetes. These diseases are mainly caused by substance abuses, unhealthy diet and lack movement”, noted Dr Nick Banatvala, Senior Adviser to the Assistant Director General, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, WHO. According to last year's studies, Mongolia has increasing death rate caused by noncommunicable diseases and it is evident that the death rate is affecting economic difficulties. Especially, the 34 percent premature death in the population aged below 70 years is a critical indication. The major cause (43%) of the premature death was cardiovascular diseases, the main factor of which was smoking. Some 48% of Mongolian men smoke, which is a relatively higher rate of smoking compared with other countries. Also, 40% of men and a quarter of women has hypertension. Mongolia leads the Asian countries by obesity. The problem of noncommunicable diseases is not only a health sector concern, but also one of the governance and administration, highlighted Dr Nadia Rasheed, Team Leader for HIV, Health&Development of the UNDP. Mr L.Enkh-Amgalan MP expressed gratitude for the team visit to Mongolia and underlined their visit found an important timing being coincided with the development of four-year action plan of the Government of Mongolia. Objectives are included in the 2016-2020 action plan for compiling a nationwide program on combat against noncommunicable diseases, which comprises involving greater number of people in the early detection, diagnosis, treatment and care. The Government has set a goal to double the financing for the health sector, noted the MP. L.Enkh-Amgalan MP pledged the Standing committee's support for the activities of the joint team in Mongolia. ^ top ^

Eighth forum on trilateral trade and economic cooperation held (Montsame)
2016-09-06
A delegation headed by D.Tsogtbaatar MP participated in the 8th Forum of Mongolia-Russia-China Cooperation in Trade and Economy held on September 2-4 in Erenhot, Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China. At the opening of the forum, D.Tsogtbaatar MP sounded a message from the Mongolian President, ahead of B.Battsetseg, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs who delivered a speech, emphasizing that developing the equal and friendly cooperation with neighboring Russia and China is one of the priorities of the Mongolian foreign policy. She said Mongolia is thankful to China for hosting the annual meeting with an aim to boost the trilateral relations and cooperation, and welcomed successful realization of some works agreed by the countries. Mentioning that a list of 32 projects have been approved after the three countries' Presidents concurred a program on setting up an economic corridor, the Vice FM said these projects reflect a number of works to create a trans-boundary network of railway and auto-roads, to intensify the cooperation in transit transportation, to render customs tax advantages to Mongolian export products and to abolish non-tariff hurdles. As a democratic country that is geographically located in a connecting area of east and west, cherishing peace and having independent and multilateral foreign policy, the Mongolian government adheres to a position in contribution to the political stability, the continuity of foreign policy and a progress of the regional and international development. She added that Mongolia maintains a state policy which cherishes its interests, respects the neighboring countries and boost the win-win cooperation. B.Battsetseg believes that the trilateral forum will significantly contribute to developing the collaboration of border regions, bringing it into a new level and opening new opportunities for companies to create new markets and partnership. In scope of the forum, the Mongolian delegation was received by Yun Guangzhong, Deputy Head of Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region; Wang Jinzhen, the Vice Chairman of the Council of China's Foreign Trade; and Luo Qing, chairman of the Party Committee of Erehot. The Mongolian side appreciated actions of the trilateral forum, and then asked the China's side to make activities of the customs, quarantine and inspection authorities quicker in order to boost the Mongolia-China trade and economic cooperation, to support businessmen, to provide them with discounts and to resolve some problems faced to them in the commercial area of Erenhot. Following the meeting, the delegation legged the Consulate of Mongolia in Erenhot and visited the forum's exhibition halls and a commercial zone. This year's forum brought together representatives of some 100 companies advertising their products and services. ^ top ^

ADB intends to accelerate BRT project on public transport (Montsame)
2016-09-05
Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city S.Batbold exchanged views on an investment program on developing public transportation of the capital city and a project on bus rapid transit (BRT) when he met Monday with Robert Gayle, director of the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Northeast Asian division of transportation. The project and program on the public transport development of Ulaanbaatar are being co-implemented by the ADB and Ulaanbaatar city's administration. Although the sides signed a document on starting the project in 2014, the implementation course is running slowly, so the ADB intends to accelerate the project and program's realization in near future, Robert Gayle said. He added that the ADB aspires to commission the first corridor of the BRT in UB by next year. The Mayor said the Ulaanbaatar administration will provide all conditions for implementing the project because the public transport is a critical issue in Ulaanbaatar which is the most populous city in Mongolia. He added that Ulaanbaatar wants to carry out a joint research on planning routes and stations of the public transport, correlating it with the BRT project. In response, Robert Gayle reported that a three-day workshop on empowering the public transport development will be held late October, and it will present a policy document concerning the public transport of UB. The sides expressed their willingness to collaborate in accomplishing the BRT project which will bring a progress the capital city's public transport. ^ top ^

President vetoes parliamentary resolution on withdrawing bills (Montsame)
2016-09-05
On Monday, the President of Mongolia, Ts.Elbegdorj vetoed the 26th parliamentary resolution on withdrawing draft laws on criminal procedure, on law enforcement actions, on the prosecutorial organ, on performance of court decisions and on combating family violence. This resolution was sent to the Presidential Office on August 31, 2016. “The law on the parliamentary session rules has a clause pointing out certain reasons for withdrawing bills such as in case of a non-standard formulation or issuing bills and parliamentary decisions on certain matters is unnecessary. As for these bills, they are considered as adopted laws in accordance with the 24th article of the law on parliamentary session rules. Withdrawing these already approved bills under the parliamentary resolution violates the principle of respecting laws and might create a wrong practice shaking the continuity of the state. So, the President of Mongolia put a veto over whole clauses of the parliamentary resolution pursuant to the Constitution of Mongolia, the laws on the President of Mongolia and on the parliamentary session rules,” said Elbegdorj and urged the parliament to heed the veto. ^ top ^

 

Ms. Annina Burri
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
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