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
  12-16.9.16, No. 639  
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Foreign Policy

Li to attend UN General Assembly (China Daily)
2016-09-15
Premier Li Keqiang is expected to announce a raft of "pragmatic moves" supporting the United Nations in addressing global challenges when he attends the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, a senior diplomat said in Beijing on Wednesday. During his stay in New York from Sunday to Wednesday, the premier is also scheduled to meet with representatives of various US organizations, exchanging views on developing relations between the world's two largest economies, Vice-Foreign Minister Li Baodong told a news conference. After the UN's annual meeting, he will fly to Canada and Cuba, on a trip expected to end on Sept 28. While details of Li's schedule in New York were not released, he is expected to join the annual general debate and a UN high-level meeting on refugees and migrants, according to the UN General Assembly agenda. The UN General Assembly opened its 71st session on Tuesday with a focus on joint global efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, a blueprint for eradicating poverty and hunger, promoting equality, and protecting the environment for the years leading up to 2030. The first action plan for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was formulated at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou this month. China has been a staunch supporter of UN causes and hopes the annual session of the UN will result in a convergence of efforts in fighting global challenges such as terrorism, the refugee and immigration crises, cyberspace security and spread of infectious diseases. At the UN headquarters, the premier is likely to expound on China's standpoints on world order, global governance, and peace and development, and announce a range of measures in support of the UN in dealing with the global challenges, the vice-minister said. Peter Thomson, president of the General Assembly, said it had been heartening to observe the sincerity with which governments and national planning agencies have begun integrating the 2030 Agenda into national processes. ^ top ^

China, India vow to advance cooperation among BRICS nations (Xinhua)
2016-09-15
China and Inida pledged on Thursday to further promote cooperation among the BRICS nations, and discussed issues such as cyber security, energy security and anti-terrorism. When attending the 6th meeting of BRICS senior representatives on security issues, Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi said that leaders of BRICS nations reached consensus on furthering BRICS cooperation when they met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China's eastern city of Hangzhou earlier this month. China is ready to make joint efforts with other BRICS nations to make the upcoming BRICS summit in India's Goa a success and inject new dynamism into the BRICS cooperation, he added. As the BRICS' chairman next year, China will make good preparations for the BRICS summit and meetings of senior representatives on security and foreign ministers of BRICS nations, said Yang. When meeting representatives from BRICS nations for the security meeting, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the BRICS nations are playing an increasingly constructive role in international affairs. He expressed his belief that the BRICS summit in Goa could yield practical results and cement friendly relations among the BRICS nations so as to enhance the influence of developing countries and emerging economies. The BRICS nations group Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Also on Thursday, Chinese State Councilor Yang met with Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. The Chinese state councilor said development of bilateral ties between the two countries have maintained good momentum. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Modi held talks at the G20 summit in Hangzhou, setting the direction for the development of bilateral ties for the next phase, Yang said. "China is willing to join hands with India to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, deepen mutual political trust, expand pragmatic cooperation and friendly exchanges, and properly handle sensitive issues in order to push forward the development of bilateral ties in the right direction and promote Asia's development and prosperity." Yang said BRICS has witnessed 10 years of fruitful cooperation among its member states, and China will fully support India's efforts to host the BRICS summit in Goa successfully. For his part, Doval said as neighbors and the largest developing countries in the world, India and China have great potential for cooperation. India is willing to boost political communication, expand pragmatic cooperation and promote cooperation and coordination with China within the framework of G20 and BRICS so as to press ahead with common development and safeguard common interests of the two countries. ^ top ^

Russia-China drills to strengthen regional stability: Russian foreign ministry (Xinhua)
2016-09-15
The on-going Russian-Chinese naval drills in the South China Sea should help strengthen stability in the region rather than destabilize it, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday. "We believe that all actions which take place there must be pondered, balanced and not add instability, but rather work on strengthening stability and mutual understanding to solve conflicts," spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a weekly briefing in Moscow. The "Joint Sea 2016" drill, running from Sept. 13 to 19, features navy surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, marines and amphibious armored equipment. The Russian Navy has sent three surface ships, two supply ships, two helicopters, 96 marines, as well as amphibious armored equipment to participate in the drills. The Chinese forces participating in the drills include a total of 10 vessels, including destroyers, frigates, landing ships, supply ships and submarines, as well as 11 fixed-wing aircraft, eight helicopters and 160 marines, according to the Chinese Ministry of National Defense. Wang Hai, Chinese chief director of the exercise and deputy commander of the Chinese Navy, said the joint drill is "a strategic measure" and a concrete action to promote the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership and will deepen cooperation between the two militaries, especially the two navies. The drill will highlight combat, digitization and standardization to promote naval cooperation. U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Monday that Washington hoped the exercises "take place in accordance with international law and don't do anything to raise tensions." Zhang Junshe, senior research fellow of the Military and Academic Institute of the Chinese Navy, said the joint exercise is "essentially defensive and totally different from the island landing and retaking drills that a few countries engage in year after year in the west pacific region against an imaginary enemy." ^ top ^

China, Japan agree to speed up negotiations on air, maritime contact mechanism (Xinhua)
2016-09-15
China and Japan reached an agreement on speeding up the negotiation process on the air and maritime contact mechanism between the defense ministries of the two countries in the fifth round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs held here on Wednesday and Thursday. The two sides agreed to devote themselves to safeguarding the peace and stability in the East China Sea. They also agreed to hold the sixth round of expert panel consultations as soon as possible and continue to push forward the exchanges between the defense ministries of the two countries. China's Ministry of Public Security and the Japan Coast Guard will continue cooperation in cracking down on transnational crimes, including smuggling, human smuggling and drug trafficking. The China Coast Guard and the Japan Coast Guard agreed to give full play to the role of the existing contact mechanism and strengthen their exchange of information and personnel. The two sides exchanged views on their sea-related policies and laws and agreed to continue carrying out dialogues in this regard. They agreed to launch as early as possible a platform for carrying out dialogues between experts of the two countries on management of marine rubbish and to conduct a joint investigation on marine rubbish in 2017. The two sides affirmed the importance of an early signing of a bilateral maritime search and rescue agreement and agreed to maintain communication in this regard. They also exchanged views on the principle of consensus on East China Sea issues and agreed in principle to hold the six round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs in China within the year. The China-Japan high-level consultations on maritime affairs were set up in January, 2012, with the first round of talks held in May of the same year in Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province. ^ top ^

Just empty talk? Philippines' Duterte is playing China off against US on arms purchases, analysts say (SCMP)
2016-09-15
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte may have said he wants to buy arms from China, but he is simply playing China off against the United States rather than presenting a realistic plan, analysts say. And the fallout from an international tribunal ruling on the South China Sea is far from over, they added. Duterte told military officers in Manila on Tuesday that he would not allow government forces to conduct joint patrols of disputed waters near the South China Sea with foreign powers, and that he was considering acquiring defence equipment from Russia and China. Last week, he said he wanted all American special forces out of the southern Philippines, where they have been advising local troops battling Muslim extremists, but the US said no official order was received. The acid-tongued Duterte has had an uneasy relationship with the US recently and is also trying to mend ties with China frayed by the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which ruled against China's territorial claims to the South China Sea. Oh Ei-sun, a senior fellow with the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said Duterte's expressed wish to buy Chinese arms could not be interpreted clearly while debate on the international tribunal ruling continues. “What Duterte is doing is to play the US off against China and vice versa, to hopefully achieve the greatest benefits for the Philippines,” Oh said. “In this regard, he could afford to be more 'severe' and 'colourful' against the US, which considers the Philippines to be an important pillar for its rebalancing policy and is thus more restrained in its responses to Duterte's outbursts, than to China, which typically does not take foreign impoliteness or diplomatic slights too lightly. “I think what Duterte is really looking for is better weapons sales terms from the US.” Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, a Chinese government think tank, said Duterte was testing the US while hoping for greater benefits, especially military goods, even though what he said was unrealistic. “The Mutual Defence Treaty between the US and the Philippines is a legally binding document approved by the Philippine Supreme Court and a few words from Duterte cannot stop that deep military engagement with the US, which obviously wants to maintain and even boost its geopolitical sway in the region,” Wu said. “China also may not sell weapons to the Philippines as Duterte wishesdue to a lack of mutual trust. And it would be embarrassing if the Philippines used Chinese warships to fight against China.” Military observer Zhou Chenming said the Philippines was neither brave nor powerful enough to split from the US. Therefore, he said, Duterte's proposal to buy arms from China was mere posturing to please Beijing, which was infuriated by the Hague ruling on the South China Sea, rather than a realistic plan. “Also, compatibility problems hinder Chinese arms sale to the Philippines, as the latter is accustomed to US-style weaponry, which is totally different from Chinese designs and production,” Zhou said. Ties between the Philippines and China have been strained since the Philippines applied for a ruling on the South China Sea from the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Filipino fishermen have also complained of harassment by Chinese government vessels near the Scarborough Shoal. Oh, from Singapore, said the oral proposal to buy Chinese weapons could not be seen as a symbol that disputes in the South China Sea were over, as “even if the Philippines does not insist upon the ruling, other Southeast Asian countries would still do so. Similarly, the South China Sea situation is calmer at the moment, but will likely flare up as soon as any claimant acts rashly.” Wu said the ruling could not be easily ignored by the Philippines because the US and Japan would not allow it to do so, as both viewed it as an excuse to contain Chinese assertiveness in the important waterway. Duterte is famous for his outspokenness. He referred to US President Barack Obama as a “son of a whore” last week and, less than a month earlier, he addressed the Chinese presence in the disputed waters. “I guarantee to them (China), if you enter here, it will be bloody,” he said. “And we will not give it to them easily. It will be the bones of our soldiers, you can include mine.” Oh said: “We can hardly discern the seriousness or real effect of what Duterte blurts out in colourful language on an almost daily basis, only to be typically diluted or explained away by other Philippine officials a short while later. Their flippantly contradictory nature frankly does not inspire confidence in their logical implementation.” ^ top ^

All aboard for 'One Belt, One Road'? Afghanistan freight train trip one stop in China's bigger drive (SCMP)
2016-09-13
When a Chinese train pulled into a station in northern Afghanistan late last month, it did more than deliver a load of textiles and freight. The vehicle and its cargo had completed a 13-day, 7,000km trip to Hairatan via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, signalling China's renewed efforts to unite the region through its transport and infrastructure plan called “One Belt, One Road”. The strategy, floated by President Xi Jinping in 2013, is gaining momentum while Washington's New Silk Road initiative, proposed by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in 2011, is going nowhere. China's ambassador to Afghanistan, Yao Jing, was on hand as the train arrived and described the journey as symbolic of Beijing and Kabul's shared goal to deepen their “strategic” partnership, according to a statement on the embassy's website. But just like the train's zigzag route, business between the two countries does not follow a straight line. The two countries share a border but are not linked by paved roads or rail lines. As a result, Chinese exports to Afghanistan amounted to just roughly US$400 million in 2014, or about 5 per cent of the value of the goods China exports to Pakistan. Analysts say the “One Belt, One Road” could go a long way to changing that state of trade. The arrival of the train could also signal China's stronger willingness to flex its power in the region. China has traditionally been wary of military involvement in Afghanistan, despite its concerns that Afghanistan could serve as a refuge and training base for Uygur militia seeking independence of Xinjiang. “[The train's arrival] may indicate China is willing to playing an active role in post-war reconstruction, economically and even politically, in Afghanistan,” Peking University international relations professor Wang Lian said. “Over the long run, a stable, or a pro-Beijing Afghanistan will offer a safe corridor for China to extend its reach to Europe in its One Belt One Road programme.” Beijing has over the last years sought to broker peace in its neighbour, holding talks in the Chinese capital with Taliban delegates. China invited a Taliban delegation to Beijing in July to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, where the insurgent movement was still fighting the Western-backed government in Kabul, Reuters reported. Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan also thanked the head of the Afghan army for Kabul's support against what Beijing brands an extremist group when Afghan army chief of general staff Qadam Shah Shaheem visited China this summer. New trade links such as railway lines could offer more leverage for Beijing to influence Kabul and the region. But Chu Yin, an associate professor with University of International Relations in Beijing, questioned the profitability of running such transregional cargo lines, since most of the ones in China were heavily subsidised by local governments. “There is not enough freight volume from both destinations and Chinese products would lose their price advantage by rail transport compared with marine route costs. The transregional railways need to be consolidated,” he said. ^ top ^

China supports two-step approach within Nuclear Suppliers Group to explore non-discriminatory formula (Xinhua)
2016-09-13
China and India held a fresh round of arms control consultation in New Delhi Tuesday. The consultation was co-chaired by Wang Qun, Director-General of Arms Control Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and Amandeep Singh Gill, Joint Secretary for Disarmament and International Security of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. The two sides exchanged views on issues of common concern in this field. On the question of non-NPT states' participation in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), given that it is an issue of major concern to India, China, for its part, shared with India the recent developments as it sees within the Group in relation to the question. China also shared with India its principled positions and views on the above question. In the meantime, China listened to and had the inputs from India on this issue, and indicated that it will bring such views and inputs back to the Group for its consideration. China hopes the above inputs will help facilitate the relevant discussions within the Group. The two sides realized that the question of the non-NPT states' participation is, in essence, a multilateral issue, and can only be subject to multilateral solution by the Group. Bilateral exchanges should serve to facilitate the relevant discussions within the Group. China pointed out that the issue of the non-NPT states' participation in the NSG raises new questions for the Group under the new circumstances, and the crux of the above question is how to address the gap between the existing policies and practices of the non-NPT states and the existing international non-proliferation rules and norms based on the NPT as the cornerstone. China wishes to see early commencement of an open and transparent inter-governmental process to undertake, in accordance with the mandate adopted by the NSG at its Seoul Plenary meeting, a comprehensive and thorough study on the question of the non-NPT states' participation in the NSG in various aspects. China has hitherto not yet taken a position on any country-specific membership in the category of the non-NPT states. And China supports the notion of two-step approach within the Group to address the above question, i.e., at the first stage, to explore and reach agreement on a non-discriminatory formula applicable to all the non-NPT states, and to proceed to take up country-specific membership issues at the second stage. China, for its part, expressed its readiness to actively participate in the above process within the Group. The two sides also had in-depth discussions on issues related to cyber security and the work of the Conference on Disarmament. The two sides believed that the consultation is positive, candid, pragmatic and constructive. The two sides expressed the wish to intensify their exchanges on the relevant issues. They also agreed to hold the next round of consultation in China in due course, to be decided through diplomatic channels. ^ top ^

China to work with others in improving international standards: Xi (Xinhua)
2016-09-12
Chinese President Xi Jinping said the country is willing to cooperate with other countries on improving international standards. China will proactively implement a strategy on standardization to make standards drive innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, Xi said in a congratulatory letter to the 39th General Assembly of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The opening ceremony of the meeting was held in Beijing on Monday. International standards provide specifications for products, services and systems to ensure quality, safety and efficiency. Xi said that amid deepening globalization, standardization plays an increasingly important role in facilitating trade, boosting industrial development and technological innovation, and improving social governance. China is willing to deepen cooperation with other countries and enhance exchanges to improve the international standards system, he noted. Founded in 1947, ISO is the world's largest developer and publisher of international standards. It has published over 21,000 international standards covering almost every aspect of technology and manufacturing. Xi said international standards form the technological basis of the global governance system and international economic and trade cooperation. As the world's most authoritative organization for publishing international standards, ISO's publications have global recognition. He called on the meeting participants to consider how standardization should play a positive role in improving global governance and promoting sustainable development. The 39th General Assembly of the ISO is being held in Beijing from Sept. 9 to 14. Nearly 700 delegates from 163 ISO members and more than 20 regional and international organizations are attending the meeting. ^ top ^

Has Beijing really 'turned the page' on South China Sea ruling? (SCMP)
2016-09-09
Beijing appeared triumphant on Thursday after a regional summit concluded in Laos without adopting a draft statement on the South China Sea disputes. State media, including Global Times, a tabloid controlled by the official People's Daily, on Friday described it as a diplomatic win for China while a senior diplomat declared that “the page had been turned over” regarding the July 12 ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague that rebuked China's historic claims in the South China Sea. Speaking at the conclusion of the East Asia Summit in Vientiane, deputy foreign minister Liu Zhenmin sounded particularly relieved that none of Southeast Asian nations brought up the international arbitration ruling, which dealt a sweeping blow to Beijing's expansive claims over much of the disputed waters. But diplomatic observers cautioned against such upbeat assessments and pointed out that China has actually been subject to mounting pressure in Laos from the United States and Japan, who both insisted repeatedly over the past few days that the ruling at the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague must be binding. Even Liu admitted that the South China Sea disputes, which had rarely been touched upon in the previous summits, had become a major topic this year. It was, at best, a respite in long-running tensions between China and its Southeast Asian neighbours and the ruling has become a new starting point for China's rival claimants to move forward, analysts said. They also warned that it was not in Beijing's interest to play up the deep-rooted division among the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which has yet again prevented the 10-member grouping reaching a consensus over how to deal with a increasingly assertive China. “I agree that Beijing scored a small victory in avoiding a rebuke by the summit delegates as a whole,” said Jay Batongbacal, a law professor at the University of the Philippines. “But Asean-China relations turning a new page does not necessarily mean that things will turn out the way China expects.” Analysts noted that Asean nations had extensive discussions on the maritime disputes during the summit and issued a veiled criticism of China in a joint statement on Wednesday. While China was able to dodge continuing public and open criticism, it would only “ease tensions superficially but not necessarily narrow the differences between disputing States”, Batongbacal said. “The US and Japanese statements reflect Asean sentiments and act as surrogate voices to their fundamental positions,” he said. It is an open secret that Cambodia and Laos, which rely heavily on mainland investment, refused to scold Beijing while many other Asean nations are also reluctant to take a tougher stance on China, which is Asean's top trade partner. Bonnie Glaser, of the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said that although Beijing would like to put behind the tribunal ruling once and for all, it is a historical decision that will shape many countries' policies in future. “Just because the ruling wasn't mentioned in the Asean joint statement doesn't mean that the members are willing to ignore it,” she said. Analysts also said despite their willingness to defuse tensions, it remained challenging for China and its rival claimants, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, to break the diplomatic impasse. Huang Jing, of the National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said the negotiations between Asean and China over the code of conduct, which started in 2002, may also prove challenging. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Government to boost integration with internet (China Daily)
2016-09-15
China is stepping up in improving government services via the Internet Plus and aims to set up a nationwide internet-based government service system by the end of 2020, according to a new State Council guideline. The guideline was approved at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. Internet Plus, proposed by Premier Li, refers to applying the internet and other information technology resources to conventional industries to foster new industries and businesses. "We are now living in the age of internet. Using internet tools to facilitate public services is an important step in accelerating the internet as the fastest and most convenient way for the government to interact and provide services for people," the premier said. Li brought up the idea of improving government services and information transparency via the Internet Plus in his Government Work Report in March. Streamlining government functions has stood high on the government's agenda since 2013. "The internet will not only provide people with more accessible public services, but will also help the government to improve its management via various ways," Li said. The guideline was drafted based on field research across eight provinces. Inconsistencies were noticed in promoting internet-based public services in many regions. A lack of government information-sharing, regulation inconsistencies and limited online public services were identified as some of the most common problems. And some regions had scarcely got started with the job. The guideline sets the goal that central and regional departments will establish an open and integrated internet platform by the end of 2017 that is interconnected across administrative levels. It aims to build a nationwide Internet Plus Government Services System by the end of 2020. The integration of government services with the internet can reduce governments' expenses and speed application and approval processes for the public, thus boosting efficiency by offering online services, said Ma Liang, an associate professor of public management at Renmin University of China. ^ top ^

SCMP reporter among five Hong Kong journalists detained, questioned by Chinese police in Wukan crackdown (SCMP)
2016-09-15
A South China Morning Post reporter was among five Hong Kong journalists detained and questioned by local authorities in Wukan, Guangdong province, on Wednesday night. The journalists had been interviewing villagers involved in a violent protest that saw tear gas and rubber bullets fired at residents. The Post is highly concerned about the incident and condemn the detention of journalists. The reporter was released around 2am on Thursday morning and returned to Hong Kong unharmed. Our reporter and two other Hong Kong journalists from another publication were invited by a resident to a villager's house for an interview on Wednesday. Around 9.30pm, two dozen unidentified men broke into the house and pushed the Post reporter to the ground, accusing him and others of stealing. The owner of the house was also subdued by the assailants, who did not show any documentation throughout the incident. The other two Hong Kong journalists later told the Post reporter that one of them was punched in the stomach by the assailants and another one slapped twice in the face. The three journalists were then taken to a local police station where they were joined by two more Hong Kong reporters from another publication. They were questioned separately by Lufeng government officials, who accused them of “illegal” reporting and breaching police cordon. The Post journalist, who has proper journalist credentials issued by Beijing authorising him to work on the mainland, was released after questioning. While he did not sign any document, other Hong Kong reporters were said to have been asked to sign a “confession letter” agreeing not to return. Some of them were reportedly beaten. We could not verify the information. After the Post reporter's release at around 2am, he was escorted by two Lufeng government officials back to the border of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Journalists Association said in a statement issued on Thursday morning that it “strongly condemns Chinese public security officers' violent treatment against the Hong Kong journalists”. The association called on the Hong Kong government to look into the matter and take effective measures to protect the rights and safety of Hong Kong journalists working on the mainland. The Hong Kong News Executives' Association also “strongly condemns” the violence, urging relevant authorities to pay attention to and ensure journalists' safety. In its statement, the new executives' association said it would write to the liaison office and the Hong Kong government to demand their attention on the incident and would also relay its concerns to the central government. ^ top ^

Police step up manhunt for Wukan protesters, but governor denies crackdown (SCMP)
2016-09-15
Security officers continued their manhunt for protesters in Wukan in Guangdong province following a violent stand-off that saw tear gas and rubber bullets fired at residents, according to locals. Few residents ventured outdoors on Wednesday as paramilitary officers equipped with shields and helmets marched in formation and stood guard on every corner. Guangdong's governor denied a crackdown had occurred in Wukan, where residents have staged a years-long campaign against illegal land seizures. “There was no such crackdown,” Governor Zhu Xiaodan told a press conference on cross-border collaboration attended by Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in Guangzhou. The violence erupted early on Tuesday following pre-dawn raids by officers seeking to arrest 13 suspects accused of disrupting public order after protests in support of jailed village leader Lin Zu-luan. Residents fought back with bricks as officers fired rubber bullets and lobbed tear gas canisters into lanes. The clashes quieted down by 10am only to flare up in the afternoon as more than 1,000 police stormed the centre of Wukan. By nightfall, dozens of people had been detained. Locals on Thursday said the atmosphere was the most tense they had witnessed. Traffic in and out of the area had been stopped, people checked at entry points, new surveillance cameras installed near the village plaza, and door-to-door searches continued for five wanted residents. The previous reward for tip-offs about their whereabouts was raised from 100,000 yuan (HK$116,000) to 150,000 yuan. One of the wanted suspects is Yang Shaoji, the brother of Lin's wife, Yang Zhen. Lin was jailed last week on corruption charges but locals say his confession was forced and politically motivated. Villagers said they had to trek kilometres over fields to buy food secretly as supplies were running low because of the lockdown. Some villagers also complained they were unable to unite with family members even during the Mid-Autumn Festival as they were blocked by police from entering the village. “I believe they are still searching for demonstrators and trying to drive out journalists,” said a villager in his 20s who gave his surname as Wu. The arrests continued in the afternoon. Twin brothers in their 20s as well as a disabled woman were taken away, with locals describing it as a “payback time” by police. “She couldn't even throw a stone. All she did was hold the banner and she had to have someone push her wheelchair from behind as she did that,” said a villager surnamed Li, also in his 20s. “I'm already numb after seeing so many arrests on [Tuesday] afternoon,” Li said. Villagers said those arrested on Tuesday night had been beaten by police during detention. In Lufeng, which administers Wukan, police said two people had been arrested for fabricating facts over the “illegal gathering”. ^ top ^

The rot at the top exposing deep flaws in China's legislative system (SCMP)
2016-09-15
Every March, thousands of national lawmakers gather in the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing to hear the premier report on the state of the nation, to review state plans, and to vote for state leaders if it happens to be an “election year”. The National People's Congress is China's biggest political show, lasting two weeks and drawing legislators from all corners of the country. The NPC is supposed to be a display of “democracy” but late on Tuesday state-run Xinhua announced that 45 members of the body, or about half of the deputies from Liaoning province, had bribed their way into the top legislature. It is the biggest scandal to hit the Chinese legislative system since 1949 in terms of both the number and political level of the people involved. It also exposes the flaws of the people's deputy system, which Beijing repeatedly claims is central to its model of “socialist democracy”. Beijing clings to the people's congress system under the Communist Party's rule as its argument against Western, multi-party democracy and direct election of government leaders. It insists that the system suits the needs of its people and operates well. But Renmin University political scientist Zhang Ming said the election fraud in Liaoning was unlikely to be a lone case because the practice of vote buying was widespread across the country. “I think [the fraud in Liaoning] has been exposed as a warning to other provinces, but it won't be effective, because fraud is inevitable – the election system itself is at fault,” Zhang said. Beijing-based political analyst Zhang Lifan agreed. “It is the lack of transparency and openness in the NPC's election system that created the preconditions for vote buying and trading in power for money,” he said. NPC Standing Committee chairman Zhang Dejiang, who is also No 3 in the ruling Politburo, said the scandal was “a challenge to China's socialist democratic politics” and “touched the bottom line of the Chinese socialism system and the rule of the party”. The dismissal of national lawmakers comes as the party gears up for its major leadership reshuffle in autumn next year. Chen Daoyin, an associate professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said the exposure of the fraud was part of President Xi Jinping's plans to shake up power and bring cadres into line ahead of the 19th party congress. “After the 19th party congress, the NPC will approve the appointment of senior government officials at its plenum the following March... [Xi] cannot allow anything to go wrong even during the ceremonial process. There has to be absolute control,” he said. Liaoning, a northeastern rust-belt province home to 46 million people, is in deep economic and political trouble. It was the only mainland province that reported economic contraction for the first half of this year, and companies owned by its local governments are publicly defaulting on debts. Liaoning's former party boss, Wang Min, has also been detained as part of a graft investigation. According to Xinhua, 523 provincial lawmakers in Liaoning helped rig elections that sent 45 of their colleagues to the national legislature. Since then, half of the provincial people's congress' standing committee have been disqualified as a result of the scandal, rendering it inoperable. However, the political impact of the fraud could go far beyond the party congress. It raises a fundamental question over whether the mainland's political institutions, which were adopted in the mid-1950s, can properly function in a rapidly changing economy. The NPC is repeatedly criticised as a club of money and power instead of a house representing interests of the general public. Businesspeople and officials alike are eager to become deputies because the position confers influence, connections and even protection against police detention. The ranks of the NPC's roughly 3,000 deputies are stuffed with local government officials, state enterprise managers and the wealthy elite. “The NPC has become a club for senior officials and top executives,” Zhang Ming said. “If you don't get in, you can't mingle with the others. It is a symbol of status and position.” Other scandals have afflicted the people's congress system. In 2013, 518 of 529 members of the Hengyang people's congress in Hunan province were found to taken bribes to vote to sent deputies to the provincial legislature. In the Liaoning case, most of the 45 members are bosses of government-linked businesses. They include former Lingyuan Iron and Steel chairman Zhang Zhenyong; former Liaoning Tongda Huajin Chemicals chairman Liu Yunwen; and Zhang Yukun, chairwoman of Shengjing Bank. Despite its importance under the national constitution, the NPC is still largely a rubber-stamp legislature endorsing party. Its Standing Committee, however, which oversees day-to-day operations, is moving towards a professional lawmaking body. ^ top ^

Five facts about China's Tiangong 2 space lab as nation counts down to its launch tonight (SCMP)
2016-09-15
China's Tiangong 2 – the country's second experimental space laboratory – will be launched on Thursday night. The space lab, set for launch just after 10pm, will support China's longest manned space mission as Beijing steps up competition in the global space race. We fill you in on the details about the Tiangong 2. The Tiangong 2 is being launched on the evening of the Mid-Autumn Festival The space lab will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert. China has invited scientists from Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Pakistan and the European Space Agency to watch the launch on the site in Inner Mongolia. On Wednesday afternoon, propellant was injected into the Long March 2F carrier rocket, which will send the lab into space. The rocket is now sitting in the middle of the 105.52-metre launch tower. The public will get full view of the rocket after the structures around it are removed at 9.30pm, according to state media. The Tiangong 2 bears a similar appearance than its predecessor Tiangong 1, which was launched in 2011. Tiangong 2 will dock with the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft next month The Shenzhou 11 spacecraft will carry two astronauts into space in mid-to-late October and dock with the lab. The docking will take place in an orbit at an altitude of 393km, where China's planned space station will be running. Chinese spacecraft previously carried out docking in a 343-km orbit. Before next month's docking, scientists will test the Tiangong 2's energy and communication systems to prepare it for hosting astronauts. The lab will also carry out several space experiments. Astronauts will spend 30 days in Tiangong 2 on China's longest manned mission After a three-day trip in the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft, two astronauts will live in the space lab for a month. The Tiangong 2, who is equipped with exercise and entertainment facilities, provides a comfortable environment for the astronauts. It will be China's longest manned mission since the Shenzhou 10's 15-day mission in 2013. More than 40 studies will be conducted in the space lab, including space medical research, new material development and fundamental physics studies. Astronauts will also run technical tests related to building and operating a space station. One project, developed in collaboration with French scientists, will study the human cardiovascular functions in weightless condition. The Tiangong 2 will release a nanosatellite to support its operation and take photos of the lab and the spacecraft. Astronauts will run experiments designed by secondary school students in Hong Kong The astronauts will conduct studies based on three award-winning space-science projects from a 2015 competition at Hong Kong secondary schools. The top project, from pupils at Shun Tak Fraternal Association Yung Yau College, studies porous membranes in zero gravity, according to the Productivity Council, which sponsored the contest. An experiment designed at Christian and Missionary Alliance Sun Kei Secondary School will look at how silkworms transform in the environment of space, and a team at Po Leung Kuk Laws Foundation College designed a study on the oscillation of a double pendulum. The astronauts will film the procedure and send the footage back to earth. The Tiangong 2 will carry the world's most accurate clock The lab is equipped with 14 space instruments including the world's accurate time piece. The Cold Atomic Clock in Space (Cacs) recently developed by researchers in Shanghai can easily be lifted by two people and would fit comfortably in the boot of a car. It would lose only a second in one billion years – more accurate than the present champion clock from the United States, which loses a second in 300 million years. Another instrument, the Gamma-ray Burst Polarimeter (Polar), developed in collaboration with the European Space Agency, is capable of studying the most powerful explosions in the universe. And remote sensing devices in the lab are expected to support China's climate change research. ^ top ^

Playing by WTO rules... China defends grain subsidies against US allegations (SCMP)
2016-09-14
China's rice, wheat and corn subsidies are in line with WTO rules, Beijing's commerce ministry said after Washington launched legal action against what it says are “unfair” trade incentives worth US$100 billion. The United States alleges that China, the world's largest producer of wheat and rice, doled out “market price support” for the grains above levels agreed at the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation, making Chinese farmers more globally competitive. Beijing's commerce ministry said it had received the US request for consultations under the WTO dispute settlement mechanism but insisted its policy was legal. “Agriculture is a fundamental industry in any country and is key to the economic interests of the mass of agricultural producers,” an unnamed commerce ministry official said in a statement posted late on Tuesday. Government support for the sector was a “common international practice”, the official said. US officials say China has been paying higher subsidy levels than the internationally agreed 8.5 per cent above reference prices for grain commodities. US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that “if China is willing to operate a WTO-consistent trade regime”, US farm exports to China could rise above their current US$20 billion a year level, accounting for 200,000 US jobs. Many of those jobs are in states like Iowa and Kansas which, due to peculiarities of the US electoral system, have an outsized role in deciding presidential elections. The 2016 election race has seen Republican and Democratic presidential candidates take a much more protectionist line on trade and China has been the target of particularly tough campaign rhetoric. The latest dispute marked the 14th WTO case launched against China since US President Barack Obama took office, and Washington has won every case that has been decided. “China has always respected WTO rules, consistently supported Chinese agricultural production and development in ways in line with the rules and maintained the international trading system of farm products,” the official added quoted in the commerce ministry statement said. ^ top ^

Commentary: Clean elections crucial to advancing China's rule of law (Xinhua)
2016-09-14
China's top legislature on Tuesday confirmed the disqualification of 45 deputies for their involvement in electoral fraud, a move showcasing the central leadership's resolve to root out corruption, strictly govern the Communist Party of China (CPC) and enhance the rule of law. This development came as a fresh round of elections has started to reshuffle government leaders and legislators at local levels, sending a stern warning to anyone with the idea of winning through fraudulent means. The 45 deputies to the National People's Congress, elected from the Liaoning Provincial People's Congress, committed vote buying and bribery during the election in 2013. The electoral fraud, the first of its kind to have taken place at the provincial level since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, seriously violated the Party's discipline, state laws, as well as political discipline and rules. It also severely breached organizational discipline and sabotaged the electoral systems of the Party and the people's congress system. With the disqualification of the 45 deputies, the central leadership has demonstrated its zero tolerance toward vote buying and firm commitment to fighting corruption. Any violation of Party discipline and state laws, no matter who is involved, or how many are involved, will be dealt with in a thorough manner, and the guilty will be given no leniency. Maintaining a "high voltage" crackdown on electoral fraud will help safeguard the people's congress system, which is China's basic political system. The people's congress system is a fundamental institutional arrangement that integrates the principles of upholding the Party's leadership, the people being masters of the country and implementing the rule of law. The people's congress electoral system constitutes an important part of the country's socialist democracy and rule of law. Whether the election is fair or not directly decides whether citizens' rights to elect and to be elected are respected, and whether lawmakers at various levels can truly represent the people's interests. Vote buying, a blatant challenge to the people's congress system and socialist democracy, must be eradicated. Starting this year, a new round of elections will reshuffle legislators and government leaders at the township and county levels, involving more than 900 million voters nationwide. Holding clean and fair elections will be vital for upholding the political development path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, reinforcing the CPC's governing status and safeguarding the people's rights as masters of their country. ^ top ^

CCDI strengthens fight against mooncake bribes (Global Times)
2016-09-14
China's top graft buster is stepping up the fight against holiday corruption with a website allowing the public to report mooncake-related abuses on Tuesday, as China gets ready to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival on Thursday. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on September 8 unveiled a new platform on its website, encouraging the public to report excessive spending by officials during the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival holiday (September 15-17) and the National Day holiday (October 1-7). Beginning Thursday, the CCDI will reveal violators' names. Members of the public can go to the CCDI website or use its mobile applications to report officials who hold banquets or travel using public expenses, as well as those who give or receive lavish gifts during the holidays, the commission's announcement said. Amid China's nationwide anti-corruption campaign, official gift-giving is banned, and mooncakes - often seen as a hidden form of bribery - have been targeted since 2013. Sales of high-end mooncakes plunged thereafter, news site cnr.cn previously reported. Unlike previous years, the disciplinary authority released warning signs very early. State- owned news organization such as the Xinhua News Agency and People's Daily published commentaries warning against the practice in July. Huang Shuxian, vice secretary of the CCDI, on August 31 ordered the continued "cranking up of pressure" to snuff out extravagance and other undesirable work styles, especially as the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays approach, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Huang said the crackdown is a "major political task" and called for intensified supervision against undesirable work styles such as formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance, urging stern penalties for transgressors. "It is a tradition for Chinese people to hold banquets and give gifts on festivals, such as mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which has created opportunities for many officials to receive bribes," Zhang Xixian, a professor at the Party School of the CPC, told the Global Times on Tuesday. However, Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of the Research Center for Government Integrity Building at Peking University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that anti-graft work should be institutionalized and legalized in order to avoid the pitfalls of a temporary campaign. In 2012, a box of two mooncakes made of pure gold sold for 42,900 yuan ($6,423), raising public suspicions of corruption. Citizens called upon the government to use the sale in its anti-corruption investigations to trace both the mooncakes' buyers and recipients, according to Xinhua. The Global Times learned on Tuesday that typical mooncake gift boxes currently being sold in a Jingkelong supermarket in Beijing were priced between 60 yuan and 400 yuan each. ^ top ^

Hubei Communist Party boss Li Hongzhong named Tianjin chief ahead of Chinese power reshuffle (SCMP)
2016-09-14
Hubei provincial party secretary Li Hongzhong has been appointed Tianjin's party chief – making him a strong contender to become a member of the ruling Communist Party's Politburo in the upcoming power reshuffle. Li, 60, the former party chief of Shenzhen, was named the municipal party secretary in Tianjin, succeeding Huang Xingguo, who was the acting party head for almost two years and also mayor of the northern municipality, Xinhua reported on Tuesday. A major reshuffle is expected at the party's national congress, due to be held in autumn next year. The announcement came after days of speculation, following Huang's detention as part of a party probe, because whoever gains the job will be seen as a new political rising star as President Xi Jinping appoints his favoured candidates to key posts before the congress. Most party chiefs of Tianjin have been given a seat on the powerful Politburo since the mid 1980s. Beijing-based political analyst Zhang Lifan said that Li was still young compared with his rivals for further promotions. “Li has a good chance of landing a Politburo membership next year according to his latest appointment,” said Zhang, adding: “But uncertainty is out there, especially when there is still a year to go before the party congress.” Li's predecessor Huang was placed under investigation on suspicion of serious violation of party discipline – a euphemism for corruption – by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on Saturday. Huang was formally removed on Tuesday from his posts of Tianjin's acting party boss and mayor, Tuesday's announcement said. Li has previously made several gestures to publicly show his allegiance to Xi. He was among the first few regional party bosses who publicly pushed forward the formal naming of President Xi Jinping as the “core” of the party early this year. Li also grabbed the headlines in 2010, when he was governor of Hubei province, at that year's annual meeting of the National People's Congress, when he criticised a state media reporter and seized her digital recorder when she asked him to comment on an issue involving the rape of a young woman by local officials in the city of Shishou, which was under Li's control. Li, a former secretary to Li Tieying, a former member of the Politburo, refused to make any public apology over his controversial actions, despite repeated demands by hundreds of journalists and editors from China and abroad. Six out of seven party chiefs in Tianjin secured membership to the party's Politburo sooner or later over the past three decades ahead of Li's appointment. The only exception was Gao Dezhan, who was the forestry minister and a full member of the party's Central Committee at the time. Gao took the vacancy left by Tan Shaowen who died in February 1993, a few months after being named a Politburo member in late 1992. ^ top ^

China struggles to find economic and ecological balance along Yangtze (SCMP)
2016-09-13
Mainland authorities have published a much-delayed state plan for areas along the Yangtze River, reflecting Beijing's struggle to balance the ecology and economy along the country's longest river. The 6,300km Yangtze and the area it passes through has suffered serious environmental degradation in recent years from huge dams disrupting flows, overuse of water resources, species extinction, and the dumping of waste into the waterway. That's on top of the many chemical and industrial complexes that line its banks. Despite good intentions, the Development Plan for the Yangtze Economic Belt, published last week, offered few viable action plans to address the daunting problems, analysts said. For example, the plan the river's role as a “golden waterway” even though water transport of goods is already an outdated choice for most businesses. It takes about 10 days for a container to reach Shanghai port from Chongqing by the river, compared with a couple of days by road or rail. So much so that Chongqing, a key city on the upper reaches of the Yangtze, is trying to develop land routes that connect to European ports and skip the Yangtze. In another example, the state plan proposes that labour-intensive and processing businesses in rich downstream areas should be relocated to poorer upstream areas – a policy that again raised eyebrows for some researchers. Luo Jianhua, secretary general of the China Environment Chamber of Commerce, warned that pollution risks could move upwards in the Yangtze as well-off cities on the lower reaches closed down polluting factories. In general, while highlighting the need to protect the environment along the Yangtze, the plan also stresses the need of “urbanisation” by developing small cities and towns surrounding Shanghai, Wuhan and Chongqing, the three major hubs along the river. First aired by premier Li Keqiang in his government work report in 2014, the Yangtze economic belt concept, a designated area covering 20 per cent of China's territory and over 40 per cent of its population, was expected to rectify disparate development levels in riverside areas and generate new growth for China's slowing economy. Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, urged local government officials to place top priority on the environment. In a meeting with local cadres along the waterway and some ministers in January, Xi told them to “work together for major protection, instead of carrying out major development”. Until now, the Yangtze economic belt plan has still focused on developing the river as a transport route, with plans to build more ports to spur industrial upgrades and urbanisation. On the environmental side, the plan wants at least 75 per cent of rivers and lakes along the belt to have good water quality by official standards by 2020 and a “thoroughly improved” ecosystem by 2030. However, it will be an ongoing struggle for China to achieve both its economic and ecological ambitions along the river. Xiao Jincheng, a researcher affiliated with the National Development and Reform Commission, wrote in an essay in April that, while China may become more prudent in mega-projects like the Three Gorges Dam, the Yangtze would still see more industrial projects on its banks as “industrial development does not necessarily bring excessive pollution”. ^ top ^

China to 'tighten up' on illegally obtained evidence, protect criminal suspects' rights (SCMP)
2016-09-12
China has tightened judicial procedures against illegally obtained evidence and upheld the presumption of innocence, state media said on Monday, as the country seeks to combat perceptions of human rights violations within Communist Party-run courts. UN experts have pressed the government about deaths in custody and persistent allegations that torture, especially of political prisoners, is rife in police stations and prisons. Chinese officials acknowledge that while illegally obtained evidence and forced self-incrimination of detainees is banned, it still has work to do to eliminate torture. Nonetheless, the government consistently rejects any criticism of its human rights record, saying it adheres to the rule of law. Judicial authorities have “put in place a system to exclude unlawful evidence and protect the legitimate rights and interests of criminal suspects”, the Xinhua state news agency reported, citing the State Council Information Office in a white paper it published on legal protection for human rights. “China has revised its Criminal Procedure Law and implemented principles, including 'in dubio pro reo',” Xinhua said, using the Latin term that generally refers to the presumption of innocence. The Ministry of Public Security issued regulations two years ago for fitting interrogation rooms and detention centres with audio and video recording equipment to prevent misconduct such as “extorting confessions by torture and obtaining evidence through illegal means”. Other recent reforms include the enacting of China's first anti-domestic violence law, Xinhua said. The steps to improve legal procedures comes as President Xi Jinping's administration has tightened control over civil society, citing a need to boost national security and stability. Dozens of lawyers and activists have been swept up in a crackdown on dissent since July last year and many have been tried and convicted on subversion charges, which are commonly levelled against critics of the Communist Party. International rights groups have labelled the trials of the activists in party-controlled courts unfair and politically motivated, and foreign governments, including the United States, have called for their release. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Chinese guest house fined in anti-terrorism crackdown after it fails to register guests' personal details (SCMP)
2016-09-09
Shenzhen police have imposed their first hefty fine of 100,000 yuan (HK$116,000) on a guest house that failed to register guests' personal information, which broke China's anti-terrorism law, mainland media reports. The guest house, which was not identified, was fined after failing to check and register guests' personal information before allowing them to check in on several occasions, the Shenzhen Evening News reported. The owner of the guest house faced a separate fine of 1,000 yuan. China's tough anti-terrorism law came into effect on January 1, 2016. It states that hotels and other premises that provide accommodation, but fail to check the identity of guests, or allow guests to stay despite refusing to provide their personal information, will be subject to a fine up to 500,000 yuan. Managers of such premises could be fined up to 100,000 yuan. In July, Shenzhen police were investigating reports of smuggling when they discovered that the guest house had not registered the identity of some suspects involved in the case. The newspaper reported that the practice had continued for a while. News of the fine was also published on the website of the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department. Shenzhen police ordered hundreds of landlords to attend a meeting on Thursday to inform them of the significance of checking and reporting their tenants' identities, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported. On August 24, police in Shenzhen, near the border with Hong Kong, temporarily sealed off a house that had been rented out, and fined its owners 6,500 yuan for not registering and reporting the personal details of a tenant, who was a suspect in a series of burglaries across neighbouring provinces, the report said. In Shenzhen, landlords are also required to report the personal information of all non-Shenzhen tenants to the government or they will face fines. Since the law took effect, the anti-terrorism law has led to several fines being imposed as police tightened up security checks on the personal information of hotel guests in the run-up to international conferences on the mainland, including this month's G20 summit in Hangzhou. People working for mail companies, express delivery firms, hotels, and public transportation operators that failed to check the information of customers also face the risk of being fined, as well as mainland media that fabricated stories about acts of terrorism, or broadcasts clips showing terrorism, the Legal Daily reported in July. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

China Exclusive: Tibetan medicine wins global recognition (Xinhua)
2016-09-14
Attendees of the first international forum on traditional Tibetan medicine gathered in Lhasa, Tibet, Tuesday to share ideas and celebrate the 100th anniversary of a Tibetan hospital. Men-Tsee-Khang, also known as Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute, was founded in 1916. It was formally named Tibet Autonomous Region Hospital of Traditional Tibetan Medicine in 1980. Tibetan medicine, or Sowa Rigpa in Tibetan, is over 2,000 years old. It has absorbed influences from traditional Chinese, Indian and Arabic medicine. Similar to traditional Chinese medicine and in sharp contrast to biomedicine, Tibetan medicine, which is mainly practiced in Tibet and the Himalayan region, uses herbs, minerals and sometimes insects and animals to treat afflictions. It is particularly well known for its digestive, cardiovascular, and rheumatoid treatments. Tibetan medicine can be traced back to its roots in the region's monasteries and, even to this day, many of the most renowned doctors are often high monks. It uses a patient's urine to diagnose ailments, as the color, foam, smell and sediment of urine can help with diagnosis and inform treatment plans. Stephan Kloos, a researcher at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, said Men-Tsee-Khang had been crucial to the development of Tibetan medicine, as generations of Tibetan medics had passed through its doors. "Tibetan medicine as we know it today has absorbed medical knowledge from China, India and Persia to create something unique from the sum of its parts," he said. "Its very strength, resilience and dynamism derive from the centuries of exchanges between practitioners and scholars from diverse backgrounds," he added. Damdinsuren Natsagdorj, professor at Otoch Manramba University of Mongolia, said that Mongolian and Tibetan practitioners had been studying in each other's countries for more than a thousand years. "There is a very close relationship between traditional Mongolian medicine and Tibetan medicine." "Many people around the world are studying Tibetan medicine, which means it is prospering," he said. Tibetan medicine was added to China's intangible cultural heritage list in 2006. The ancient practice has also won the support of the World Health Organization, according to Natsagdorj. At the Tibetan Medicine Committee's annual conference in August, Harvard University's Janet Gyatso expressed her amazement and optimism about the development of Tibetan medicine. Vincanne Adams, from UCSF School of Medicine, said the biggest challenge is exposing Western medics to Tibetan medical theory, which is very hard to explain in a Western context. More should be done to promote Tibetan medicine on the international stage and to attract students to this branch of medicine, she added. Tawni Tidwell, a PhD candidate at the anthropology department of Emory University, said Tibetan medicine is not only concerned with the body but also the mind, which "is needed in the world [today]." "Tibetan medicine has treatments for afflictions that western medicine does not understand," he said. "As more new and complicated diseases emerge that Western medicine cannot treat -- chronic diseases particularly -- Tibetan medicine could take a [leading] role," Kloos said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Sexism is all around us in Hong Kong (SCMP)
2016-09-16
Despite its veneer of modernity, Hong Kong is still deeply sexist in many ways. Some recent pay surveys make for depressing reading as the gender pay gap has actually got worse. According to a new Oxfam study, among those living below the poverty line in the past 15 years, women now earn on average only 60 per cent of the amount men make. This is down from 67 per cent in 2001. A report released last year by the Census and Statistics Department found that in general, men earn a mean monthly salary of HK$15,000, which is HK$2,500 more than that of women. This gap has widened by about HK$500 since 2011. Government is one of the few employment sectors where gender pay equality is more or less achieved. Given the levels of sexism in society, it's hardly surprising women get the short end of the stick, and not just in earnings. The new Miss Hong Kong, Crystal Fung Ying-ying, found herself in a maelstrom this week when netizens dug up some of her old social media posts. She turned out to have been a big supporter of the Occupy protests, and wrote some angry online posts against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, often using swear words. She is, after all, a fresh graduate of the University of Hong Kong, a hotbed of student activism in recent years. Here we have a beauty pageant winner who doesn't just want world peace. But many people think it's unladylike and she should be disqualified. Meanwhile, an offensive cosmetics commercial has been airing almost nightly on television. The opening line: What does a woman want? Simple, she just wants to be more beautiful than all the other women around her. Then there are those endless ads for wedding services, where the central message is that being married to a handsome and, most of all, wealthy guy is the fulfilment of a woman's life purpose. Even populist politicians set bad examples. Ousted lawmaker Wong Yuk-man blasted localist election rival Yau Wai-ching for being ignorant and relying on being cute. Funnily enough, she was elected and he was not. With such pervasive ideas that women don't need to work or don't deserve to take up important jobs like being a lawmaker, it's inevitable many take home a smaller pay cheque. ^ top ^

Hong Kong's new localist legislators snub October 1 festivities, calling it just 'the national day of a neighbouring country' (SCMP)
2016-09-14
Newly elected localist legislators have snubbed an invitation from the government to a National Day reception next month, with one even vowing to stage a protest at the venue. The invitation was seen as a move by the government to test the water on its future working relationship with the six localists, who have pledged to advocate self-determination for Hong Kong when the principle of “one country, two systems” expires in 2047. The Home Affairs Department sent out invitations to the incoming legislators earlier this week for the reception, which takes place every year on October 1. Polytechnic University lecturer and Civic Passion member Cheng Chung-tai, who was elected to a seat in New Territories West, said he would skip the event. “[October 1] is just the national day of China and has little to do with Hong Kong,” he said. Cheng did not regard the invitation as an olive branch from the government and instead argued the administration should not exercise “political screening” in handing out such invitations. “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, of the League of Social Democrats, was for the first time not invited last year, and has yet to receive an invitation for next month's event. A government spokeswoman said she would not comment on the guest list. Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, of the localist group Youngspiration – two new legislators who once personally backed the notion of Hong Kong independence – said they would not attend the reception, saying it celebrated “the national day of a neighbouring country”. Occupy movement and student leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who is president of the party Demosisto, told Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao he would make use of the invitation to protest at the venue. Newcomers Shiu Ka-chun and Yiu Chung-yim, who were elected by the social welfare sector and architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sector respectively, also turned down the invitation, with the latter describing the occasion as “a waste of time with nothing to celebrate”. In stark contrast, all seven lawmakers with the Democratic Party have decided to show up, after an internal meeting held on Wednesday. “We will attend and adopt our own means to reflect the public's opinions to the SAR government and other attendees,” Lam Cheuk-ting said, though he refused to disclose any details. Polytechnic University political scientist Dr Chung Kim-wah said it was a matter of courtesy to invite all lawmakers to the ceremony as the legislature is part of constitutional government. But he said it was little surprise the localists would be lukewarm towards the occasion. “They need to account for their voters and it would be very hard for them to soften their stance immediately,” Chung said. ^ top ^

Time in Beijing gives Hong Kong's former home affairs secretary 'new perspective' (SCMP)
2016-09-13
Hong Kong's former home affairs chief has said he has spent four months in Beijing learning to see the city's affairs from a new perspective. Tsang Tak-sing, who was replaced as secretary for home affairs last July in an unexpected move by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, made a rare appearance on a new radio programme hosted by his elder brother Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, the outgoing Legislative Council president. In a pre-recorded interview, which was aired on Commercial Radio on Monday, the former minister said he had learnt a lot by living in the country's capital from March to early July after leaving the cabinet. “I have adopted a different perspective to study Hong Kong affairs,” the younger Tsang told his brother on programme Jasper's POV. “I have also learnt some new insights on issues... such as how the country should proceed in future.” When asked whether he had met any Beijing officials during his stay in the capital, Tsang Tak-sing, a former left-leaning journalist, dismissed the question and said he had instead spent his time observing the lives of ordinary people. That included the wide usage of smartphone apps as well as the now extended railway network, he said. The emergence of the middle class in Beijing was also in contrast to what he witnessed when he first visited the capital with his family in 1971, he said. Last July, Leung executed his biggest cabinet reshuffle to replace Tsang Tak-sing with Lau Kong-wah, who was then the undersecretary for constitutional and mainland affairs. The abrupt reshuffle has fueled tension between the chief executive and Jasper Tsang, who had criticised “government sources” for spreading rumours that his younger brother was ousted due to his “poor performance”. ^ top ^

Will the real education lawmaker please stand up? Hong Kong minister sends congratulatory letter to wrong Legco winner (SCMP)
2016-09-13
It's been a week since a new batch of legislators were elected, but it seems the city's education minister hasn't fully wrapped his head around the news yet. Eddie Ng Hak-kim mistakenly congratulated Leung Yiu-chung for being re-elected in the education sector. Leung, of the Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre, actually secured 303,457 votes to win one of the five “super seats” chosen by the 3.47 million electors who do not have a vote in the functional constituencies. “In the previous Legislative Council term, you have provided a lot of suggestions on education issues through your participation in the education panel. I want to thank you for all your policy suggestions,” Ng wrote in a letter to Leung. “In the new legislative term, I hope to continue to work with you and other legislators for the well-being of students.” Leung posted the letter on his Facebook page. In his response to the blunder, Leung reminded Ng that he was elected through the citywide election. “I have no intention of replacing Ip Kin-yuen,” he said, referring to the actual education sector lawmaker. But Leung added that he had been a teacher for many years and was greatly concerned with educational issues. “I would definitely be willing to discuss education policies with the government.” Shortly after Leung posted the photo of Ng's letter, Ip clarified on his social media page that he had received a correct congratulatory letter from the education minister. “This may be the first time the public has paid so much attention to a letter by Ng Hak-kim,” Ip joked on his Facebook page. The Education Bureau said the mistake was a “misprint” and apologised to Leung. “We will send another letter to pass on our congratulations,” the bureau said. ^ top ^

Legco vote result insightful for Beijing ahead of Hong Kong chief executive race, think tank says (SCMP)
2016-09-10
The results of the recent Legislative Council elections will allow mainland authorities to better understand Hongkongers' dissatisfaction towards the government but might have little bearing on who the city's next chief executive would be, the vice-president of a top Beijing think tank said. Lau Siu-kai of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau studies believed the rise of radical localists showed there were more voters unhappy with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying than were upset by the pro-democracy camp. But he said it was difficult to speculate whether the result would dim Leung's chances of leading the city for another term. “When it comes to considering the next chief executive, the central government has a lot to consider,” Lai said on an RTHK radio programme on Saturday morning. “The election result would be a reference point and allow the central government to understand Hongkongers' sentiments.” “But in recent years, it seems the Chinese central government is more actively defending its core values, such as its sovereignty,” he continued. “When it comes to electing the CE in Hong Kong, the Chinese central government might put the nation's interests first, before those of Hong Kong.” Lau disagreed with Leung's earlier comments that voters would not support lawmakers who had used filibustering tactics and that candidates against Leung's re-election had failed. Rather, he said the support given to six successful localist candidates showed that voters wanted more radical people in Legco as they were not pleased with the government. “First, more young people came out to vote,” Lau said. “Second, the middle class is becoming more radicalised.” He said the traditional pro-democracy camp did not lose support, citing the success of the Civic Party and Democratic Party. Meanwhile, People Power revealed Saturday its chairwoman Erica Yuen Mi-ming had stepped down as party leader. Yuen conceded the party's Legco results were poor and said she had not effectively promoted its agenda. Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, the party's sole lawmaker, will serve as acting chairman until it elects a new leader next month. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Typhoon leaves several dead, dozens injured in Taiwan and mainland (SCMP)
2016-09-16
A powerful typhoon has swept into Fujian after moving past Taiwan, leaving at least two dead, a third missing and dozens injured. Mainland state media reported that one person was dead and one missing from Typhoon Meranti, which shattered windows in tall buildings and disrupted water supplies. Taiwan's Central News Agency said one person was killed and 44 were injured on the island by the storm. It said Meranti knocked out power in almost a million homes and water in more than 700,000. Meteorologists downgraded Meranti from a super typhoon to a tropical storm and said they expected it to fade further as it moved north. Meranti battered the southeastern mainland with heavy winds and torrential rain, cutting power, ripping up trees and smashing windows. The typhoon, packing winds of 170km/h, made landfall around 3am near the city of Xiamen in Fujian province before heading inland, state media said. Images from Xiamen showed flooded streets, uprooted trees and traffic signs torn from their posts by the violent winds. Xinhua described the storm as the most powerful to hit the province in at least 67 years, with meteorological records only going back to 1949. Local media described windows broken by flying roof tiles, fragments littering pavements and water supplies cut. Schools and many businesses were already shut for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Xiamen's utility providers said there had been power outages in most of the city, which is home to some 3.5 million people. Train services were disrupted throughout Fujian province, as well as in neighbouring Jiangxi province. Officials had earlier urged people to stay at home and ordered ships to return to port as Meranti bore down on the mainland, having lashed Taiwan on Wednesday. A 58-year-old Taiwanese fisherman died when he fell into the water after a vessel broke from its anchor. Most of the other injuries were caused by falling objects. Thousands of others were forced to flee their homes and around 350,000 households were still without power as of yesterday morning. At the peak of the storm, more than one million households lost power. The island was also bracing for the possible impact of another tropical storm, Typhoon Malakas, which was forecast to sweep past Taiwan's east coast on Friday. ^ top ^

China warns Taiwan not to allow visit by Dalai Lama (SCMP)
2016-09-14
Beijing on Wednesday warned Taipei not to allow exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to visit, after a high-profile Taiwanese legislator invited him to the island, a trip that would worsen already poor cross-strait ties. Beijing regards the 80-year-old monk as a separatist. Taiwan's former president, Ma Ying-jeou, who favoured close economic ties with the mainland, refused the Dalai Lama entry several times after his last visit to Taiwan in 2009. On that occasion, Ma allowed him in but did not meet him. Taiwan's new president, Tsai Ing-wen, elected in January, has not said whether the government would allow a visit by the Dalai Lama, who congratulated Tsai on her “remarkable” victory. Freddy Lim, one of Taiwan's most famous heavy-metal singers and an outspoken critic of Beijing, who was elected to parliament in January, invited the Dalai Lama when he met him in India last week. Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, said on Wednesday that the Dalai Lama “wears religious clothes to carry out separatist activities”. “The intention of some forces in Taiwan [is] to collude with separatists seeking Tibet independence and to create disturbances that will have a severe impact on relations across the Taiwan Strait,” Ma said. “We firmly oppose any form of visit.” Lim's assistant, Kenny Chang, said the Dalai Lama was highly respected in Taiwan. “Lim is inviting him to visit Taiwan to share his ideas and religious philosophy,” Chang said. On Tuesday, Taiwanese Foreign Minister David Lee told lawmakers that if the Dalai Lama decided to come, the ministry would review the matter carefully, media reported. A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said: “If he submits his [visa] application, our government will handle it based on relevant rules”. She did not elaborate. Beijing is suspicious of Tsai and her pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, even as Tsai insists she wants to maintain peace with the mainland. In June, the mainland stopped a communication mechanism with Taiwan because of the refusal of its government to recognise the “1992 consensus” over the “one China” principle, and relations have continued to deteriorate. Tenzin Taklha, an aide to the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, the seat of a Tibetan government in exile, declined to comment when reached by telephone. The Dalai Lama, who is visiting Europe, says he wants genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland. ^ top ^

Former Taiwanese diplomat to be elected head of Taipei's top cross-strait negotiator (SCMP)
2016-09-12
Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation is set to elect a former diplomat to head the quasi-official agency, responsible for negotiating with the mainland China, on Monday afternoon. The foundation's board members will hold a provisional meeting to elect new members, including Tien Hung-mao as chairman and Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chang Tien-chin as the vice-chairman, who will then be appointed by Tien to double as the secretary general. Monday's meeting was organised after President Tsai Ing-wen named Tien as the only candidate for the position on August 31. The position has been left vacant for nearly four months since Tsai, of the Democratic Progressive Party, took office in May – a sign the president, who leads a party that traditionally has been sceptical of closer ties with the mainland China, has had a hard time finding the right person to carry out her China policy and be accepted by Beijing. Tien, 77, was recruited by the former DPP administration, which ruled the island from 2000 to 2008, first as foreign minister and then de facto ambassador to Britain. While some questioned his credentials, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang was quick to defend him. Huang said Tien had “devoted himself to [mainland] China studies when he was pursuing an advanced degree while teaching in the United States” and that he is “intimately familiar with the developments in [mainland] China.” Huang also praised Tien for his dedication to “promoting Taiwan's participation in the international community” and “playing a role in the democratisation of Taiwan”. Seeking to placate his critics, Tien recently told a radio interview that he had experienced meeting then-Communist Party general secretary Jiang Zemin in Beijing in 1993. They had discussed that year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, and he had asked Beijing to refrain from opposing the attendance of then-Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui. Tien said he believed his meeting with Jiang would help his work at the SEF. However, Beijing has made it clear that the key to cross-strait ties lies in the recognition of the “1992 consensus”, rather than who occupies the position. The “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit understanding, reportedly reached that year by Taiwan's then-ruling Kuomintang and the Communist Party, that there is only one China, with each side free to interpret what “China” means. While Tsai does not recognise the “1992 consensus”, she recognises the “1992 talks”, at which she said both sides “arrived at various joint acknowledgements and understandings” in the spirit of “a political attitude of seeking common ground while setting aside differences”. Dissatisfied with her “incomplete test answer”, mainland China's agency responsible for ties with Taiwan announced in June that the official communications channel between the two sides had been suspended. Many are curious whether Tsai will authorise Tien to complete the unfinished answer sheet on her behalf. Following Tien's inauguration, he will immediately face two tests. Taiwan's participation in the 39th International Civil Aviation Organisation assembly, which will be held in Montreal, Canada from September 27 to October 7, is one issue. Taipei has urged Beijing to negotiate the matter so it can attend the triennial event this year. During former President Ma Ying-jeou's presidency, Taipei was invited to attend the assembly for the first time in 2013 as “a guest” following a proposal by Beijing. The other test at hand is Taiwan's participation in the leaders' summit of the APEC forum in Lima, Peru from November 19 to 20. Taipei is hoping Beijing will not oppose Tsai's selection of her proxy to attend the annual event. ^ top ^

Taiwan looks south to find economic answer to cross-strait bind (SCMP)
2016-09-13
Taiwan's new administration has one big hope for its NT$4.2 billion (HK$1 billion) bet to forge stronger ties with 18 markets, mostly in Southeast Asia. President Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party is banking on her “New Southbound Policy” to ease the island's reliance on the mainland amid severe strains in cross-strait relations since Tsai came to office in May. Her idea is to strengthen Taiwan's long-term links with Southeast Asia, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand. But while diversifying the island's overseas markets was a worthwhile pursuit, observers questioned if it would work fast enough to make up for the loss in cross-strait business that was already being felt on the island. The policy was a key plank in Tsai's campaign platform in January's presidential election. The new administration is urgently trying to reduce economic reliance on the mainland because Beijing has cut cross-strait communication over Tsai's unwillingness to recognise the “1992 consensus”. The consensus is an understanding on both sides of the Taiwan Strait that there is only “one China” but each side has its own interpretation of what constitutes “China”. Beijing insists it must be the foundation of any dialogue. In the months since Tsai's inauguration, some sectors of the economy have begun to feel the pinch. For example, the number of mainland visitors to Taiwan has fallen 22 per cent since Tsai took office in May. The island is in the grip of a broader downturn. It has posted three consecutive quarters of contraction since last year. It expanded 0.7 per cent in the second quarter from a year earlier, but the recovery remains fragile. Private consumption, which accounts for about half of the economy, slowed in the second quarter while investment contracted further, according to official data. Analysts said the policy should go some way to addressing the island's economic woes. “It will at least help us market our products in Southeast Asian nations, including Cambodia and Malaysia,” said Vincent Chou, chief information officer of Geosat, a leading supplier of drones. Chou said there was growing overseas demand for Geosat's products in the region in agriculture, geological surveys and topographical assessments in the aftermath of earthquakes. Jeff Lin Chien-fu, president of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, said Taiwan had a big edge over Asean countries in industries such as medicine and electronics, so the policy should help ease the island's economic plight. He said Taiwan should explore markets in India and Asean countries for its high value-added industries and services. “Asean countries are developing and have great infrastructure needs,” Lin said. But it was more important for Taiwan to maintain amiable relations with the mainland, which had close ties with those countries, Lin said. Philip Yang, president of the Taiwan Association of International Relations, said time was of the essence. “The question is whether the Taiwanese public can wait long for the policy to bear fruit, given Taiwan is already hurting from the cross-strait stalemate.” ^ top ^

Abuse of power? Row raised over Taiwan Palace Museum director's move to Beijing shortly after rule change (SCMP)
2016-09-10
A job offer to Taiwan's former Palace Museum director inviting her to become an advisor to Beijing's own Palace Museum, has sparked a row on the island. Hong Kong-born Feng Ming-chu, 66, recently took up the offer with the Beijing museum, with which she had worked closely with during her four-year stint as the Taiwan museum's director. Her move comes less than four months after her resignation from the Taiwan museum in May, following a transfer of power when the Democratic Progessive Party's Tsai Ing-wen took office as the self-ruled island's new leader. “What she did would hurt [Taiwan's] interests,” DPP legislator Ho Hsin-chun said on Friday, adding that she was concerned Feng might leak the museum's security deployment details and other secrets. Under Taiwanese law, former government officials are required, for a period of time ranging between three months and three years after leaving their post, to obtain approval from the agencies they previously worked for before visiting mainland China. The time frame that Feng, who was considered a government official in her former role as Taiwan's Palace Museum director, was subjected to was only three months. As a result, she did not require the museum's approval before leaving for the mainland. But DPP legislator Lo Chih-cheng said Feng had herself changed the museum's regulations from three years to just three months shortly before she stepped down in May. “This is ridiculous; what she did was an abuse of power,” Lo said. In a statement, the museum said that under the present regulations, Feng was not required to obtain its approval as she had already left her post more than three months ago. But it also noted that the regulations were changed by Feng, who in April approved the time frame to be altered from three years to one year, and on May 13 signed another document to change that period to just three months instead. “We hope she will keep classified information and protect the museum's interests,” the statement said. In response, Feng said the Beijing post she has taken on is an unpaid honorary position and that the Beijing museum had also invited two world-class scholars to serve as advisors to its research institute. Opposition Kuomintang legislators said that as long as Feng had abided by the rules, she had done no wrong in accepting the honorary role. “After all, there is no border in terms of culture,” KMT legislator Chen Chao-ming said. Feng, who worked for the Taiwan museum for 38 years, has previously been criticised by the ruling independence-leaning DPP for cooperating too closely with the Beijing museum. Many treasures and artefacts in the island's museum today were from the Beijing museum. Late KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek had brought them over to Taiwan shortly before civil war ended in 1949. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Li says higher standards key to manufacturing upgrade (China Daily)
2016-09-15
Premier Li Keqiang vowed on Wednesday to improve the competitiveness and quality of China's manufacturing sector by adopting more international standards. The premier made the vow while meeting more than 600 delegates to the 39th General Assembly of International Organization for Standardization, which opened on Monday in Beijing. China is an ISO founding member, and Beijing is hosting the event for the second time in 17 years. China has become the largest producer of goods while maintaining more than 100,000 governmental standards and more than 1 million corporate standards, Li said. "We are looking at improving the competitiveness of China's manufacturing sector and will promote the deep integration of 'Made in China 2025' with standardization work," Premier Li said. The country has attached top priority to standardization work and must improve the quality of supplies and advance industrial upgrading based on higher international standards to achieve medium and high-speed growth, he said. Amid economic transformation, more standards should be created for new technologies and industries to unleash more resources and opportunities for new economic momentum, Li said. His speech was in line with the State Council's campaign to raise standards and quality for products made by Chinese producers. In April, an executive meeting of the State Council set a target to adopt more than 90 percent of international standards for domestic equipment manufacturing by 2020 in key sectors, especially robots, advanced rail transportation equipment, agricultural machinery and high-performance medical equipment. The target is 20 percentage points higher than the current 70 percent of international standards that China has adopted and transferred for domestic manufacturing industries, an aim set in 2003 and accomplished before 2008. Huang Qunhui, director of the Institute of Industrial Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said domestic producers should follow international standards when making traditional and new products, which will spontaneously boost their competitiveness in domestic and overseas markets. ^ top ^

China Focus: G20 Hangzhou blueprint to unleash global growth potential (Xinhua)
2016-09-14
At a factory belonging to Hangzhou Wahaha Group, the beverage company's self-developed robots are busy loading pallets with products. Founded in 1987 in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, the firm has invested heavily in technology. It has been involved in industrial robotic research and development since 2011. The company had 30 robots on its factory floors by the end of 2015, and another 100 will be installed this year. "From receiving orders, to quality control and payment, so many procedures have been digitalized, cutting labor and improving efficiency," chairman Zong Qinghou said. Technology will support the sustainable development of enterprises, said Zong. The company is currently expanding its business scope from beverages to health products and equipment manufacturing. Companies like Wahaha are ready for the favorable policies promised by the government, after leaders at the Group of 20 summit, which was held in Hangzhou on Sept 4-5, agreed to improve mid-to-long term growth potential through innovative growth. According to the G20 Blueprint on Innovative Growth, adopted at the event, it was agreed that governments should strive to create favorable environments for creativity and development, and entrepreneurship, and science and technology should be supported as they would lead to innovative growth and job creation. Cao Yuanzheng, chief economist with the Bank of China, said that in the past eight years, slow economic recovery after the 2008 financial crisis has highlighted the necessity to shift from fiscal and monetary measures to innovation. The economic growth cycle is closely related to scientific breakthroughs. "Scientific revolution, which creates new industries and new products, can change the way we produce and live, hence, it has the potential to fuel long-term economic growth," he said. Huang Wei, researcher on global governance with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, agreed that the world economy needs structural reform to overcome development obstacles and unleash growth impetus. "To stimulate innovation, governments should create a favorable environment through structural reform," Cao said. Structural reform was also discussed during the G20 summit. According to the G20 Blueprint on Innovative Growth, nine priority areas of structural reform were identified: the promoting of trade and investment openness; advancing labor market reform, educational attainment and skills; encouraging innovation; improving infrastructure; promoting fiscal reform; promoting competition and an enabling environment; improving and strengthening the financial system; enhancing environmental stainability; promoting inclusive growth. Meanwhile, 48 guiding principles for these priority areas were endorsed by G20 members. Additionally, a common set of core indicators, comprising policy and outcome elements, was also endorsed to help monitor and assess the progress and effectiveness of G20 members' structural reform measures as well as their ability to address structural challenges. "On the basis of the nine priority areas, different countries can choose their priorities according to their own national conditions," said Huang Wei. "The indicators evaluate countries' economic performances in different aspects, which will push countries to come up with effective reform measures," she said, adding that the system will likely deliver results later this year. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

China's environment unaffected by DPRK nuclear test (Xinhua)
2016-09-14
The nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on September 9 has not affected China's environment, according to the country's environmental watchdog. The DPRK announced the success of its nuclear warhead test September 9, the fifth by the country since 2006. On the day of the test, the Ministry of Environmental Protection launched its second-highest level of emergency response to monitor radiation levels along the country's northeast border. Readings over the past six days showed that radiation was within the normal range. The ministry terminated its emergency response on Wednesday morning, but said it would continue monitoring the situation. ^ top ^

Controversial Chinese teaser for film on Korean war revives debate on China's role in the deadly conflict (SCMP)
2016-09-14
A teaser for a patriotic film that features Chinese veterans of the Korean war has ignited controversy in China and revived debate over the country's controversial role in the deadly conflict six decades ago. It has also triggered calls on Chinese social media to boycott My War, by Hong Kong director Oxide Pang and due to premiere on Thursday, as some internet users said the film treated poorly historical facts of the war that killed hundreds of thousands of soldiers from China and more from the two Koreas, which remain divided and hostile to each other. The two-minute teaser shows a group of elderly Chinese tourists on a bus in Seoul as a young Korean tour guide welcomes them on their first trip to South Korea's capital city. An old lady interrupts, telling the guide they had visited before in the past. “Lady, we came here before, about 60 years ago,” an old man says. “We held the Chinese flag and came here,” another man explains. The tour guide, wearing traditional Korean dress, looks puzzled, asking how they would hold the Chinese flag in Seoul. The tourists tell the guide she will realise how they did so after she sees My War. “Resist US aggression and aid Korea, protect our home and defend our country,” the tourists chant at the end of the teaser. The slogan is widely used in Communist propaganda to describe China's role in coming to North Korea's aid in 1950, resulting in the deaths of between 149,000 and 400,000 Chinese soldiers. “I will not watch My War,” Lin Qi, a history professor at Harbin Normal University, posted on his Weibo microblog. “As more historical facts are revealed, people are becoming increasingly aware of the cruelty of that war and its hurt to the nations and people involved.” “It seems that we don't have a bottom line when promoting patriotism,” posted an online commenter. “Imagine this – if a group of senior Japanese tourists came to Nanjing and told a Chinese tour guide that they came here more than 70 years ago holding the flag of the rising sun during the Nanking Massacre, what would you think? “The actors in the My War teaser cheerfully talk about a period of history that was humiliating and disastrous for South Koreans,” the commenter continues. Pang, who made his name in horror films, has since tried to distance himself from the teaser. “The content of the promotion video is of no relevance to the film,” he posted on his Weibo microblog on Monday. “The film expresses the cruelty of war and people's complex emotions from separation and reunion.” The film, which stars mainland Chinese actors Liu Ye and Wang Luodan as well as Taiwanese actor Tony Yang, tells love stories of young Chinese soldiers from the People's Volunteer Army who flooded the Korean peninsula to aid China's northern ally in early 1950s. Beijing has been reluctant to declassify documents that may look into its decision to cross the border to rush to Pyongyang's aid in 1950, a move portrayed in the Chinese official view as a necessary intervention to protect China from US aggression. It is widely believed it was Beijing's intervention that saved the North Korean regime from collapse at the time. However, questions about that decision have grown in recent years as Beijing's relations with North Korea, an ally once described by Mao Zedong as being “as close as lips and teeth”, takes on a new complexity after a series of nuclear tests by the regime of Kim Jong-un. The present leader is the grandson of Kim Il-sung, the leader of North Korea when the war began. North Korea's tests also confront Beijing with a strategic dilemma – despite strong opposition from Beijing, South Korea has agreed to deploy a US-backed advanced anti-missile system to protect itself from missile threats from the North, and signs have emerged that Seoul is moving closer to the Washington-Tokyo alliance, rather than Beijing, in the face of a more rebellious Pyongyang. “The impact of [Beijing's] decision to step into the war is clear now,” Zhao Hu, a Beijing-based lawyer, wrote on his microblog. “We can see a nation has been divided into the North and the South, and countless Chinese died while benefiting three generations of [North Korea's Kim] family. Are we still proud of that?” ^ top ^

Beijing gives Pyongyang a blast over nuclear test (SCMP)
2016-09-11
Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui said a nuclear test carried out by North Korea is “not conducive to the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula”. Zhang made the remarks in a meeting on Saturday with North Korea's ambassador to China, Ji Jae-ryong. Zhang said it was China's “firm and consistent” stance to realise denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula, maintain regional peace and stability and resolve problems through dialogue and consultation. North Korea's continuing nuclear-weapons development and nuclear tests ran counter to the expectations of the international community, escalated tensions on the peninsula and were not conducive to peace and stability there, he was quoted by Xinhua as saying. China had earlier called on North Korea to refrain from actions that might heighten tensions, and to move back in the direction of denuclearisation. North Korean state-run television reported early on Friday that the country had exploded a nuclear warhead in a test. It was Pyongyang's fifth nuclear test and followed the previous one by eight months. China's Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Friday expressing firm opposition to the test. Observers said it would put China at a disadvantage in its calls for South Korea not to deploy the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD). 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 that the system is needed to counter security threats posed by North Korea. Analysts also said China was unlikely to take very strong action against Pyongyang, with which it has close ties dating back to the cold war. China fears that stricter measures against North Korea, such as cutting off provisions of oil and food, would lead to millions of refugees flocking across the border. The collapse of the regime could also put soldiers from South Korea and its US ally on China's border. ^ top ^

North Korea's 5th nuclear test prompts US call for more sanctions (SCMP)
2016-09-10
North Korea conducted its fifth and biggest nuclear test on Friday and said it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile, ratcheting up a threat that rivals and the United Nations have been powerless to contain. The blast, on the 68th anniversary of North Korea's founding, drew a fresh wave of global condemnation. The United States said it would work with partners to impose new sanctions, and called on China to use its influence as North Korea's main ally to pressure Pyongyang to end its nuclear programme. Under 32-year-old third-generation leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has sped up development of its nuclear and missile programmes, despite UN. sanctions that were tightened in March and have further isolated the impoverished country. The United Nations Security Council was set to discuss the latest test and whether the 15-member body should punish North Korea with more sanctions at a meeting on Friday, diplomats said. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged the 15-member group to remain united and take action that would “urgently break this accelerating spiral of escalation.” US President Barack Obama said after speaking by telephone with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that they had agreed to work with the Security Council and other powers to vigorously enforce existing measures against North Korea and to take “additional significant steps, including new sanctions.” US Defense Secretary Ash Carter called for a redoubling of international pressure on North Korea and singled out the role he said China should play. “It's China's responsibility,” he told a news conference during a visit to Norway. “China has and shares an important responsibility for this development and has an important responsibility to reverse it.” China said it was resolutely opposed to the test and urged Pyongyang to stop taking any actions that would worsen the situation. It said it would lodge a protest with the North Korean embassy in Beijing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying would not be drawn, however, on whether China would support tougher sanctions against its neighbour. South Korea's Park said Kim was showing “maniacal recklessness” in completely ignoring the world's call to abandon his pursuit of nuclear weapons. Russia, the European Union, NATO, Germany and Britain also condemned the test. US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States remained open to “credible and authentic” talks on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but added that North Korea had shown it would not be a credible negotiating partner. Six-party talks on the issue involving North and South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and China stalled in 2008. North Korea, which labels the South and the United States as its main enemies, said its “scientists and technicians carried out a nuclear explosion test for the judgment of the power of a nuclear warhead,” according to its official KCNA news agency. It said the test proved North Korea was capable of mounting a nuclear warhead on a medium-range ballistic missile, which it last tested on Monday when Obama and other world leaders were gathered in China for a G20 summit. Pyongyang's claims of being able to miniaturise a nuclear warhead have never been independently verified. Its continued testing in defiance of sanctions presents a challenge to Obama in the final months of his presidency and could become a factor in the US presidential election in November, and a headache to be inherited by whoever wins. “Sanctions have already been imposed on almost everything possible, so the policy is at an impasse,” said Tadashi Kimiya, a University of Tokyo professor specialising in Korean issues. “In reality, the means by which the United States, South Korea and Japan can put pressure on North Korea have reached their limits,” he said. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolian Embassy holds meeting in Beijing on freedom of speech (Montsame)
2016-09-15
The Mongolian Embassy to China and Globe International Center NGO organized a diplomatic meeting about freedom of speech on September 12, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Representatives of diplomatic missions of Switzerland, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Austria, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Croatia, Romania, Denmark and Kyrgyzstan, and from the permanent representatives of the European Union and the UNESCO in Beijing took part in the meeting. Minister counsellor of the Mongolian Embassy to China T.Battsetseg and specialist at the permanent representative of the UNESCO Robert Parua gave speeches. Afterwards, the leader of Globe International Center Kh.Naranjargal gave detailed information on the recommendations about the freedom of speech from the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council, and the status of recommendations' observation. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-09-15
At the cabinet's regular meeting on September 14, Minister of Finance B.Choijilsuren presented the draft of Government Budget for 2017, as assigned. -The cabinet members also decided to submit their proposals to T.Ayursaikhan MP to the bill on the Rights of Customers. -Minister of Road and Transport Development D.Ganbat presented about the pending establishment of a the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation with the People's Government House of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China on implementation of the Project on Railroad Base Construction at Shiveekhuren border checkpoint. -The cabinet resolved to enforce the Rule on Origins of Imported Goods from January 1 of 2017. -The composition of the National Council on Science and Technology was approved. ^ top ^

Ambassador to China presents credentials (Montsame)
2016-09-15
The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia, Mr D.Gankhuyag, formerly the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented the letter of credence to the President of the People's Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping on September 14. The Ambassador conveyed the greetings of Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj and discussed with Xi Jinping about the further development of Mongolia-China bilateral ties and Mongolia-China-Russia tri-partite cooperation. Chairman of the PRC Xi Jinping responded to the greetings of President Ts.Elbegdorj and advised Ambassador D.Gankhuyag to have close contact with related Chinese authorities on the bilateral and trilateral relations. ^ top ^

Mongolian chairs of international cooperation mechanism appointed (Montsame)
2016-09-15
At its regular meeting on Wednesday, the cabinet revised the compositions of the Mongolian chairmanship in the cooperation mechanisms with foreign countries, such as the Intergovernmental Commissions, Roundtable Meetings and other multilateral committees. Mongolian government is operating a total of 38 cooperation mechanisms with the governments of foreign countries. ^ top ^

Government decides to rescind regulation to promote herders (Montsame)
2016-09-15
The cabinet, atits regular meeting on September 14, decided to cancel the Regulation on Hide and Leader Production and Sales, for the period between October 1 of 2016 and August 1 of 2017. Specialists have calculated that this might allow the herders to improve their income, as the leather and hide exports will spike. Since the adoption of the Regulation in 2013, Mongolia stopped exporting unprocessed sheep hides. As of September 14, a sheep hide costs MNT 500, a goat hide—MNT 2,000 and a horse hide – MNT 30,000. The regulation aims at encouraging the national tannery through imposing strict standards on export-oriented hide and leather. However, it has resulted in plummeting price of raw hide. The national consumers' demand is met only by 40% of all raw hides produced. ^ top ^

Government proffering to ban offshore activities for high-rank officials (Montsame)
2016-09-15
On September 14, the cabinet reviewed the concept of draft amendments to the Law on Coordinating Public and Personal Interests in Public Services and Preventing from Conflicts of Interests. Then, the Minister of Justice and Domestic Affairs was assigned to reflect the cabinet members' suggestions to the draft and submit bill to the Parliament. The draft amendments provided for that an official, who is obliged to submit annual income statement to the Government, cannot open bank accounts, deposit and establish legal entities in offshore platforms while running for public office or on duty. ^ top ^

President's visit to Cuba to commence on September 15 (Montsame)
2016-09-14
Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the “information hour” press briefing on Tuesday and officially announced the President of Mongolia is to pay an official visit to the Republic of Cuba on September 15-18, and is to attend the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 19-24. President Ts.Elbegdorj is to give a speech, expressing Mongolia's position on the global issues. He will be visiting Philadelphia, USA, on September 23. Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil also informed on September 13 about the signing of the Agreement on promotion and protection of investments between Mongolia and Canada, during the official visit of Geoff Regan, the Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, to Mongolia at the invitation of the Speaker of Mongolia M.Enkhbold. The Foreign Minister will take part in the UNGA High-Level Meeting for the 30th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development, the 7th Ministerial Meeting on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the Ministerial Meeting of the Landlocked Developing Countries and the Meeting of the Governing Council of the Community of Democracies. ^ top ^

Northern Railways LLC asks Government to help resolve problem (Montsame)
2016-09-14
Prime Minister J.Erdenebat met with the Chairman of the Board of Northern Railways LLC David Paull on September 14. The Premier expressed gratitude for the company's plan to make a major investment in the regional mining, land farming and tourism sectors. The Northern Railways LLC is a daughter company of Australia's Aspire Mining Ltd., and is licensed to implement a project on base construction for 547 km railroad connecting Ovoot and Erdenet. The Northern Railways is carrying out the Erdenet-Ovoot Railroad Project for 30 years on build-operate-transfer contract. Mr Paull thanked the Government's for support, and informed that the company is seeking financing from the Development bank of China and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, as the project is a part of the Mongolia-Russia-China Economic Corridor. The engineering studies are underway, and the construction is intended to commence in 2017, he said. Mr Paull asked the Premier to help resolve the issue of consilience of roads, which have been holding the progress back for more than a year. ^ top ^

State leaders pay tribute to victims of political repression (Montsame)
2016-09-12
Twenty years have passed since Mongolia began marking the Day of Victims of Political Repression in 1996. On September 10, 2016, President Ts.Elbegdorj, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat and Speaker of the State Great Khural M.Enkhbold, along with the representatives of state agencies, armed forces, public organizations, civil societies, as well as the families and relatives of the politically repressed have laid wreaths to the Monument to the Victims of Political Repression. Leader of the NGO named “Children of Executed Victims of Political Repressions” and researcher D.Dashdavaa said: “The mass repression began with the false political charges against the generals of Mongolian militia, who took part in the liberation of Niislel Khuree (a former name of Ulaanbaatar), from July of 1921. Afterwards, 15 people in 1922 and 14 in 1924 were shot dead. The political repression has reached its peak between 1930 and 1940, having arrested 20% and executing 15% of the total male population. Such brutality has never occurred in any other country than Mongolia”. There were about 40 thousand children left behind after their parents' arrest and seizure of property. Today, only fewer than 500 of them are alive and are all aged above 80. “Women have also been victimized during repression”, said O.Tserennadmid, granddaughter of Jambyn Lkhumbe. Among the fallen female victims of repression were, the governor of a khoshuu (district) in Khentii province D.Dungarjid, the princess of Chinggis Khaan's “Golden Lineage” and second queen of Bogd Khaan N.Genenpil, and General G.Demid's wife B.Navchaa, she added. ^ top ^

European standards to be introduced in road and transportation sectors (Montsame)
2016-09-09
B.Tsogtgerel, the Vice Minister of Road and Transportation Development met Thursday a delegation led by Oldrzych Zaychek, the first secretary of the Czech Embassy in Mongolia. The sides exchanged views on upgrading Mongolian auto transport logistics by using Czech practices and on European standard projects for improving the auto traffic control. At the meeting, the Vice Minister said Mongolia intends to cooperate with the Czech Republic in bringing the road and transportation sectors into a new level in frames of certain projects on traffic control stations accorded with European standards and on establishing mobile laboratories of technical examination facilities and tools. The Czech delegation appreciated outcomes of a visit to the Czech Republic paid by authorities of the National Center for Auto Road, and hopes that the above projects will be realized successfully within the cooperation. ^ 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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