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
  26-30.9.16, No. 641  
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Switzerland

China, Africa co-host meeting on sustainable development in Geneva (Xinhua)
2016-09-24
China and African countries on Friday co-hosted a meeting on "The realization of economic, social and cultural rights through the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" in Geneva during the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council. Ma Zhaoxu, China's permanent representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stressed on the meeting that the international community should take the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as an opportunity to eliminate obstacles to development and provide the necessary condition and solid foundation for the full realization of economic, social and cultural rights for all. Saying that eradication of poverty and hunger should be at the core of the agenda, Ma noted that China expect to lift all the remaining rural residents living below the current poverty line out of poverty by 2020. "We will realize ahead of schedule sustainable development targets related to hunger and poverty eradication, women and children's health care, and housing security," he said. Stressing that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development outlined a great vision for national development and international development cooperation, Ma added that efforts should be made to improve global economic governance and strengthen the representation and voice of developing countries in international economic governance. "Development is vital to the promotion and protection of human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights," he said. Ambassador Jean-Marie Ehouzou, African Union permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, permanent representative of South Africa to the UN in Geneva, as well as representatives from other countries and UN bodies were present as panelists at Friday's meeting, which was also attended by other diplomats, NGOs, experts and scholars. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Troubled waters: Beijing's 'anger' lurks beneath surface of Singapore-Global Times South China Sea row (SCMP)
2016-09-30
A surprise war of words between Singapore's ambassador to China and the editor-in-chief of a nationalistic Chinese tabloid over a report on the city state's stand on the South China Sea underscored Beijing's deep disappointment towards Singapore on the maritime issue, Chinese analysts said on Thursday. The row erupted after Global Times ran a story last week claiming that Singapore insisted on including content that endorsed the Philippines' position on an international arbitration ruling on claims to the South China Sea in the final document of the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Venezuela earlier this month. The report in the English-language newspaper affiliated with Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily prompted Singapore's ambassador to China, Stanley Loh, to issue two open letters this week to the tabloid's editor-in-chief Hu Xijin. Loh said the report's suggestion that Singapore was seeking to air the issue in international forums was “false and unfounded”, insisting the move was a collective act by the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Chinese foreign ministry also later waded into the fray, blaming an unspecified “individual nation” for stirring up tensions over the South China Sea dispute by insisting on including South China Sea issues in the final document of the NAM summit. Hu Bo, a researcher at Peking University's Institute of Ocean Research, said the governments of both China and Singapore cared about saving the other's “face” and rarely aired arguments in the open, despite major disagreements over national positions and policies. “The spat between Loh and Hu will certainly have a negative impact on Singapore's reputation among the Chinese people,” Hu said. Zhang Mingliang, a Southeast Asia expert at Jinan University in Guangzhou, said he was also surprised that the Singaporean envoy responded publicly to the tabloid's report, which is know for its hawkish stance. Xu Liping, senior researcher on Southeast Asia studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China expected Singapore to be a neutral mediator between China and the countries of Asean, and did not want to see disputes over the South China Sea raised in a multilateral platform like the Non-Aligned Movement Summit. And that was why China was so angry over Singapore's active moves in broaching such a sensitive topic, Xu said. “If Singapore does not adjust its policies, I am afraid the bilateral relations will deteriorate,” Xu said. “Singapore should think twice about its security cooperation especially with the United States, and strike a better balance between China and US.” 'Global Times didn't have journalists at summit', says Singapore ambassador as row escalates over South China Sea report Yesterday, the overseas edition of People's Daily also published an online commentary, saying Singapore “has obviously taken sides over South China Sea issues, while emphasising it does not”. The commentary follows Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's joint press conference in Tokyo on Wednesday with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, in which both said they had discussed the South China Sea disputes. Lee said Singapore “does not take sides on the competing territorial claims”, but it does have “key interests to protect”. Those interests included freedom of navigation and overflight as well as “rule-based regional and international order”. Kyodo news agency reported that the two prime ministers agreed on the importance of the rule of law and collaboration in the international community in dealing with the situation in the South China Sea. ^ top ^

China to host major defense forum (Global Times)
2016-09-30
China will host a major defense and military forum in Beijing from October 10-12. The Xiangshan forum, co-hosted by the Chinese Association for Military Science and the China Institute for International Strategic Studies, will be held in Beijing from October 10 to 12. Defense ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun Thursday told a daily press briefing that the 7th Xiangshan Forum will be attended by defense and military leaders from over 60 countries, and by more than 100 Chinese and foreign representatives of international organizations, former government and military dignitaries and renowned academics and scholars. "Besides Asian countries, more countries from Europe, Africa and the South Pacific will be attending this year," Yang said. The theme of the forum is to Strengthen Security Dialogue and Cooperation, and Build a New Type of International Relations. Delegates will exchange views on such issues as the military's role in global governance, maritime security cooperation, the threat of international terrorism and countermeasures, the ministry said on June 30. "Military departments and military leaders from different countries will engage in extensive multilateral communications during the forum," Yang said, adding that China had invited neighboring countries, and that South Korea would attend. ^ top ^

China, U.S. organizations, companies form innovation alliance (Xinhua)
2016-09-30
Organizations and companies from China and the United States have agreed to build a Sino-U.S. innovation park in Baishishan, one of China's innovation parks in the northern province of Hebei. At the China-U.S. Innovation High-Level Forum held at the park on Wednesday and Thursday, Mitchell Stanley, chairman of the board of trustees of the National Center for Sustainable Development; Gongping Yeh, president of the Global Innovation Center; managers of Baishishan and five entrepreneurs from China and the U.S. signed the agreement. ENFOS, a San Mateo-based company that collects environmental data, will have its first Chinese branch in the Baishishan park to help deal with local smog. Around 300 people from the government, NGOs and companies attended the forum on cooperation in innovation and investment. Jin Xiaoming, head of international cooperation department of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), said the U.S. and China face common challenges in climate change, environmental protection, energy safety, food security and major diseases, which should be dealt with together. "History has proven that innovation promotes social progress, and we should tackle these challenges together," he said. The MOST and Hebei provincial government are among the sponsors of the forum. ^ top ^

Contact mechanism with Japan urged (Global Times)
2016-09-29
About 600 Chinese and Japanese representatives from various sectors agreed Wednesday that it is imperative to establish an air and maritime contact mechanism as soon as possible, as well as urge the two governments to deal calmly with security disputes. The 12th Beijing-Tokyo Forum was held from Tuesday to Wednesday in Tokyo, Japan to discuss "key issues affecting bilateral relations in an effort to enhance ties and bridge differences," the Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday. According to a statement on the forum's website, both sides believe the countries should correctly deal with the conflicts in the military security area and strengthen communication and dialogue across multiple channels. Both sides suggested the maritime and air liaison mechanism should be launched as soon as possible, which will increase mutual trust. The forum, jointly organized by China International Publishing Group (CIPG) and Japanese think tank Genron Non-Profit Organization, shows that both sides are making efforts to keep channels open and explore ways to mend ties as relations between China and Japan have sunk to their lowest point in the past few decades, analysts said. According to the statement, the two sides reached five consensuses on how to carry on cooperation in politics, the economy, security assurance, media and people-to-people exchanges. It is the third time the forum has issued consensuses - the first was in 2012, when Sino-Japanese ties were strained over the Diaoyu Islands, and the second in 2014, the 10th anniversary of the forum, according to a Genron official. Both sides stressed that "the two countries have already started discussing how to initiate cooperation in various areas based on the consensus reached by leaders from the two countries at the G20 summit in Hangzhou." The forum will also launch an expert-level security dialogue mechanism, Japan's Kyodo News reported. Civil society lead "China and Japan are at an impasse for the first time since 1945," Kyodo cited former Japanese Ambassador to China Yuji Miyamoto as saying at the closing conference of the forum. Miyamoto noted that it was very important for Chinese and Japanese experts to exchange ideas through dialogue. Wang Chong, deputy secretary general of Beijing-based think tank the Charhar Institute, agreed, saying that China and Japan still have extensive economic cooperation. "Japan needs China's market, and China needs Japan's technology in environmental protection, robotics and other high-tech industries," Wang said, adding that good civil and economic communications help create a better environment for bilateral ties. Hu Lingyuan, a professor at the Japanese Research Center of Shanghai-based Fudan University said he doubts that civil society-level communication can radically impact the deadlocked Sino-Japanese ties. "[Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe constantly pushes the China threat theory and promotes nationalism to win domestic support for constitutional amendments," Hu said. Although the Japanese government had made some movements to promote civil-level communication, like relaxing visa regulations for Chinese visitors, it is only to advance economic interests rather than from a willingness to improve bilateral ties, Hu noted. Tourism highs Data from the Japanese statistics and tourist bureaus showed that over 730,000 Chinese people traveled to Japan in July, a record high. In 2015, Chinese travelers spent 3 trillion yen ($29.8 billion) in the country, an increase of 70 percent on 2014. However, the number of Japanese inbound to China has been stable in the past few years, according to people.cn. "The Japanese government and media share a huge responsibility in advocating negative images of China to Japanese people," Liu Qing, president of the Institute of the Asia-Pacific region, told the Global Times. According to a yearly survey released before the forum, 71.9 percent of Japanese respondents believe bilateral ties were currently in a "very bad" or "bad" situation and 66.6 percent say that the situation was due to territorial disputes while 35.4 percent think that the obstacle was maritime resource conflicts. Minister Jiang Jianguo of China's State Council Information Office called on Japan not to meddle in the South China Sea at the forum, Kyodo reported. "Japan's excessive concern about the South China Sea issue is out of many countries' expectations, making these countries reflect on what kind of role it would play after the normalization of Japan," Liu said. "Decades after the war, Chinese people are trying to forgive and tolerate the Japanese and understand their culture, but the Japanese government is still portraying China as an enemy. They need some self-reflection," he said. ^ top ^

China-Europe seminar on human rights opens (Xinhua)
2016-09-28
A two-day China-Europe seminar on human rights opened Wednesday in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, centered around the theme of protecting the rights of ethnic minorities. Cui Yuying, deputy director of China's State Council Information Office, said China's human rights cause has continued to improve with the launch of a set of new governance strategies since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. She briefed the seminar on China's successful human rights cause and China's achievements in protecting the rights of ethnic minorities. China has established the principle of equal treatment of all ethnic groups, and members of all ethnic groups have participated in managing national affairs at the constitutional, legal and institutional levels. [The country has also taken a set of measures to ensure the equal rights of ethnic minorities in terms of politics, economy, culture, language, customs and religious beliefs, Cui said. Hopefully, scholars from China and Europe can make use of the platform offered by the seminar to further deepen their communication, enhance mutual trust and upgrade practical cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, she said. Pierre Bercis, chairman of the French New Human Rights Association, said it is important to respect the rights of cultural and religious diversity when protecting the basic rights of ethnic minorities. He also called on countries to go against hegemonism in the cultural sphere. Tom Zwart, head of the Netherlands School of Human Rights Research of Utrecht University, said China has made historical contributions to the development of the international human rights cause, especially in terms of promoting compatibility between religion and society. Sponsored by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and organized by the Institute of Human Rights of Southwest University of Political Science and Law, the seminar attracted over 50 experts from China and Europe. ^ top ^

Cybersecurity, terrorism, trade and nuclear threats... why US presidential debate couldn't ignore China (SCMP)
2016-09-28
China featured much more prominently in first US presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton compared with the last two elections. It wasn't long after Republican candidate Trump began to talk before he started attacking China for causing the United States' economic woes. “You look at what China's doing to our country in terms of making our product, they're devaluing their currency and there's nobody in our government to fight them... They're using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing,” Trump said. While usage of the word “China” was mostly restricted to discussions about trade and debt in the US' previous presidential election debates, this was expanded to areas including cybersecurity, terrorism and nuclear threats during the debate that took place on Monday night, US time. In Monday's debate, both Trump and Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton mentioned China 12 times on topics covering trade, the internet, Iran, North Korea as well as US infrastructure. In 2012 at the first such debate between then candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the word “China” featured just three times as Romney spoke. Obama did not mention China at all. In 2008 during the debate between Obama and John McCain, China featured five times as the candidates discussed the country as a US debt holder and potential collaborator in imposing sanctions against Iran. On Monday night, Trump accused China of conducting trade unfairly and taking away jobs from America. “Our country is in deep trouble, and we don't know what we're doing, when it comes to devaluation, all countries all over the world, especially China – they're the best ever at it. What they are doing to us is a very, very sad thing,” Trump said. He also said China should solve the North Korea nuclear crisis. “At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can't take anything off the table. Because you look at some of these countries. You look at North Korea, we're doing nothing there. China should solve that problem for us. China should go into North Korea. China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea,” he said. Clinton mentioned China on three occasions. Pledging to be tough against possible cyberattacks on America, she said: “Whether it's Russia, China, Iran, or anybody else, the United States has much greater capacity. And we are not going to sit idly by and permit state actors to go after our information, our private sector information or our public sector information.” In addressing climate change at one point, Clinton said: “Donald Trump thinks climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.” “I did not, I do not say that,” Trump replied. But US media soon found a 2012 tweet from the Trump camp claiming that the concept of global warming had been created by the Chinese in order to hurt the competitiveness of the US manufacturing industry. Not all mention of China was negative, however. Trump praised China's airports to demonstrate the lag in infrastructure in the US. “You land at Laguardia, Newark, L.A.X., and you come in from Dubai and Qatar, you come in from China, you see these incredible airports, we've become a third-world country,” he said. Analysts say Trump's heavy criticism of China at the debate may not necessarily turn into policies if he wins the election in November. “Donald Trump has not yet thought out what his China policy would be to that level of detail. He does not have well thought out ideas on China,” said Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre based in Tsinghua University in Beijing. “He was simply using China as an example to make his broader points about his views that the US has taken on too heavy an international burden and has had a weak international economic and trade policy.” Yuan Zheng, an expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Science's Institute of American Studies, said the China bashing during the US presidential debate was neither new nor unexpected. Rather, it reflected the close interaction between the two countries over the years, he said. China and the US are each other's second-biggest trading partner. Yuan added that although Clinton appeared more reserved in attacking China during the debate, this did not mean she would continue to do so as the campaign progresses. She would likely give in to public criticism or anti-China sentiments in the US if the public demanded from her a stronger stance towards China, he said. The fact that China featured much more prominently than before in the US presidential debate showed Beijing would face enormous challenges in dealing with the new US president no matter who won the election, said Zhang Yuquan, an international relations expert from Sun Yat-sun University in Guangzhou. “A Trump president would bring uncertainty in Sino-US relations, while the China policy from Clinton as president would be more consistent. But no matter who wins at last, China will face huge challenges from the next US president, because Trump will be tough on trade issues with China, and Clinton will further strengthen ties with Asian allies such as Japan and the Philippines to counter China's geopolitical sway in the region, Zhang said. The US debate also sparked a buzz among those internet users in China. While some Chinese internet users were angered by the candidates' comments about China, others were glad to see China playing a larger role in the election closely watched around the world. “Our great China is affecting the US election. I feel kind of proud,” a Weibo user going by the name of Yuhanxuange commented on a Global Times post about Trump's China bashing. “It shows the power of China cannot be ignored,” said another user called Huamuxiaoyang. ^ top ^

Spotlight: Highlights from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visits to UN headquarters, Canada, Cuba (SCMP)
2016-09-27
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is set to land in Beijing on Wednesday after a fruitful foreign trip, during which he attended the 71st session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and paid official visits to Canada and Cuba. The trip marked several "firsts," namely Li's first appearance at the UN General Assembly, the first held annual dialogue between a Chinese premier and a Canadian prime minister, and the first official visit to Cuba by a Chinese premier in 56 years since the two countries established diplomatic ties. Li presented Chinese solutions to various global challenges and bolstered ties with both Canada and Cuba, experts observed. HIGHLIGHTS OF KEY RESULTS, PROPOSALS AT UN HEADQUARTERS The Chinese premier concluded his visit to the UN headquarters, which included attending the UN General Assembly, and conferences on refugees, immigration and on sustainable development. His New York tour also displayed China's outlook for China-U.S. relations while assuring the world of China's determination to maintain steady economic growth and seek greater integration with the global economy. During his UN meetings, Li pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to help solve the most pressing challenges facing the world from refugee and migration issues to the fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. On the sidelines of the conferences, Li met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and held talks with leaders of the United States, France, New Zealand and Pakistan. The topics of the talks ranged from the issue of development and climate change, to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, China's continuous support for the United Nations, its Charter, and its role in international affairs and safeguarding world peace and development. The global economic recovery and China's engagement with other countries through the Belt and Road Initiative were also discussed. Meanwhile, the Chinese premier interacted with American business circles, prominent personalities and media, including former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. HIGHLIGHTS OF VISIT TO CANADA After New York, Li wrapped up a visit to Canada with a string of promising outcomes. The Chinese and Canadian sides issued a joint statement in Ottawa listing 29 important agreements. In solidifying a new chapter in their strategic partnership, the two sides held the successful inaugural meeting of their Annual Dialogue between the Chinese premier and the Canadian prime minister. They announced the goal of doubling bilateral trade by 2025 based on 2015 statistics. China and Canada acknowledged the interconnected nature of the two economies and the untapped potential of the China-Canada economic and commercial relationship, and agreed to launch exploratory discussions for a possible China-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA). "Signing an FTA with Canada will be a challenge for China as it will have to bear greater pressure than the developed countries," Li said at a business forum in Montreal. "However, China is willing to engage in FTA talks with Canada to press the low-end domestic enterprises to move up the ladder." The two governments also agreed to cooperate in third-party markets in order to encourage and support enterprises of both countries to pursue opportunities in those markets. During his stay in the North American country, Li visited the renowned Canadian ice hockey team Montreal Canadiens, and dropped the first puck at a training match. Accompanied by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Li traveled to the Bell Centre, where the two leaders were briefed about the history of the club, which was founded in 1909 and has won 24 National Hockey League championships. Li said he was pleased to experience Canada's national sport together with Trudeau in Montreal, the cradle of ice hockey. HIGHLIGHTS OF VISIT TO CUBA During the first official visit to Cuba by a Chinese premier, the two countries signed more than 20 cooperation agreements covering a wide range of areas. Many experts said the trip has helped boost economic cooperation between Havana and Beijing and promote the Cuba-China comprehensive strategic partnership, while turning a new page in the relations between the two traditionally friendly nations after they established diplomatic ties 56 years ago. When meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana, Li pledged to further promote bilateral ties through further high-level exchanges and boosting economic cooperation. Hailing the progress made in relations, Li said China has firmly adhered to the policy of friendly ties, supported Cuba in following a socialist path and promoted bilateral pragmatic cooperation. China stands ready to deepen economic ties and work closely with Cuba on international affairs so as to push forward bilateral ties, said Li. Cuban state media paid close attention to Premier Li's visit,highlighted his visit to Havana with photos and reports. Ordinary also Cubans had plenty to say about the visit. "Cuba's relations with China have been very stable for many years," said Mario Hernandez, a 58-year-old worker. "I think this visit will be very important for Cuba because it will reaffirm economic, political and social links with Beijing." ^ top ^

China strengthens scientific cooperation with countries along Belt and Road (Global Times)
2016-09-27
China has signed cooperative agreements on science and technology with 49 countries along the Belt and Road route. Such an achievement has fully leveraged the role of science, technology and innovation in the country's Belt and Road Initiative, an official said on Sept. 25. At a symposium on scientific cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative, Vice Minister of Science and Technology Yin Hejun told media that scientific innovation would be a crucial cooperative area for China and other countries along the Belt and Road route, Thepaper.cn reported. "Scientific innovation is playing a positive role in the Belt and Road Initiative, and has already achieved great results. China has now built bonds of cooperation with 158 countries and regions. Among these, China has signed cooperative agreements on science and technology with 49 countries along the Belt and Road route, and has launched a series of science and technology partnership programs," Yin said at the symposium. According to Yin, China invested 1.4 trillion RMB ($210 billion) in scientific research in 2015, ranking second in the world. Expenses for the sake of scientific research reached 2.1 percent of the country's GDP, with 77 percent of the investment made by enterprises. "The Belt and Road Initiative has raised an urgent need for strengthening scientific and technological cooperation. China and countries along the [Silk Road] have a lot in common, and the future of their scientific cooperation is bright," Yin added. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China promises cooperation with United Nations on human rights (SCMP)
2016-09-30
China will cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council, a body it has had testy relations with over the years, and invite its representatives to visit the country as appropriate, the government said in a policy paper on Thursday. President Xi Jinping's administration has tightened control over civil society, citing a need to boost security and stability, in what activists say is the most sweeping crackdown on dissent in decades, with dozens jailed. China frequently faces censure at the U.N. rights body, and has refused to allow in some U.N.-appointed envoys. Others have complained that when they are allowed to visit the government interferes with their work and blocks access to interviewees. China's latest National Human Rights Action Plan, which runs to 2020, promises that China “will cooperate with the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council”. This includes “answering letters from it, inviting, as appropriate, representatives of the body to visit China, and continuing to recommend Chinese experts for posts in the Special Procedures”, said the paper, released by the official Xinhua news agency. “China will conduct exchanges and cooperation with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, and hold dialogues on human rights with relevant countries on the basis of equality and mutual respect,” it added. China will also offer developing countries assistance in the human rights field, the paper said. China frequently says that it does not believe the issue of human rights should be politicised, and has for example rejected efforts by the United Nations to investigate alleged rights abuses in reclusive North Korea, which has close ties with China. Reuters reported last year that Beijing was using intimidation tactics at the rights council, based in Geneva, to silence critics there. China routinely rejects foreign criticism of its rights record, and says that guaranteeing things like the right to education and freedom from hunger, where it has been very successful, show its commitment to a more broader definition of human rights. Particular opprobrium has been directed at China's treatment of ethnic minorities, especially in restive Tibet and Xinjiang. The paper said China would put more efforts into prioritising the development of minority areas and protect their “lawful rights and interests”. It did admit some problems, though. “The rule of law in safeguarding human rights needs to be further promoted and more efforts are required to realise higher levels of human rights protection,” the paper said. ^ top ^

China publishes new action plan on human rights (Global Times)
2016-09-29
The Chinese government on Thursday published its third national action plan on human rights protection, addressing challenges and promising to improve people's standard of living and quality of life. The National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2016-2020), released by the State Council Information Office (SCIO), follows the previous two which covered 2009-2010 and 2012-2015 periods. According to the new action plan, the period from 2016 to 2020 is a decisive stage for China to build a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way. Although China's human rights protection has moved up to a new level, problems remain, including those closely related to the people's vital interests, the plan said. The rule of law in safeguarding human rights needs to be further promoted and more efforts are required to realize higher levels of human rights protection, it said. In an interview with Xinhua, an official of the SCIO said the action plan synchronizes with the country's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), with the protection of human rights running in parallel with economic and social development over the next five years. The action plan vows more resources and policy support for rural, remote and under-developed areas and aims to ensure equal access to public services, said the official. In the coming five years, the Chinese government will combine human rights with economic, political, cultural and social progress, ecological protection and Party building and adhere to the people-centered development approach, according to the action plan. China will put the protection of people's rights to subsistence and development in the first place and take people's well-being and all-round development as both the starting point and ultimate goal of China's human rights work, it said. The joint meeting mechanism as well as supervision and assessment will be improved to ensure the implementation of the action plan, it said. GUARANTEEING CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS "Law-based governance shall be advanced, judicial protection of human rights strengthened and orderly civil participation in political affairs expanded to effectively protect the people's civil and political rights," the action plan said. In the plan, China promises to expand citizens' rights to know through various channels, and increase means of their participation in social governance. China will give more space to public opinion, increase ways of expression, improve supervision system for the operation of power, and protect citizens' rights of free expression in accordance with the law, the action plan said. PROTECTING RIGHTS FOR SPECIFIC GROUPS The action plan highlighted measures to protect the lawful rights and interests of ethnic minorities, women, children, elderly people and the disabled. The state will prioritize the development of ethnic minorities, and respect and protect their rights. Objectives set in the National Program for Women's Development (2011-2020) is expected to be realized to eliminate gender discrimination, improve the environment for women's development and protect the legitimate rights and interests of women. The level of social security and basic public services for the disabled will be raised, and efforts will be made to bring them more opportunities to participate in social life on an equal footing, the action plan said. STRESSING ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS The action plan stressed to implement the strictest possible system of environmental protection, addressing environmental problems including air, water and soil pollution. By 2020, the ratio of days with good air quality in cities above the prefecture level shall exceed 80 percent and the total emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitric oxides drop by 15 percent. In a move to curb water pollution, by 2020, the chemical oxygen demand amount and total emission of ammonia nitrogen shall drop by 10 percent, and excessive exploitation of groundwater shall be brought under strict control. The action plan also urged to protect marine resources and environment, and upgrade the energy structure, it said. BOOSTING INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGES China will continue to fulfill its obligations to the international human rights conventions, and actively conduct international exchanges and cooperation in the field of human rights, said the action plan. "China shall fully participate in the work of the UN's human rights mechanisms, and promote the United Nations Human Rights Council and other mechanisms to attach equal importance to economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights, and function in a fair, objective and non-selective manner," it read. In the plan, China will increase consultation and cooperation on human rights with the other four BRICS members (Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa), developing countries and the G77 (group of developing nations). China will also participate in regional and sub-regional activities on human rights, such as the Informal Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Seminar on Human Rights, the action plan added. ^ top ^

Time to shuffle the deck: season of political personnel changes in China's Communist Party goes up a gear (SCMP)
2016-09-28
The opening in late October of the Chinese Communist Party's key sixth plenum – or assembly meeting of all members – is the latest session of the Central Committee's current tenure and signifies the start of Beijing's five-yearly political reshuffle season, lasting until the 18th party congress late next year. A series of personnel changes at the provincial level are already underway in the lead up to a major reshuffle at the apex of the party at the next party congress, which will see the replacement of five of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee. At least once a year, about 370 members and alternates of the Central Committee meet in the military-run Jinxi Hotel, in Beijing – arguably the safest and most exclusive hotel in China – to discuss personnel appointments, state policies and party affairs. Here we take a closer look at the background to these assembly meetings. What are these plenary sessions? The plenums refer to the meetings attended by members of the CPC's Central Committee, which exercises the power of the National Congress of the CPC. These sessions are held at least once a year until the convening of the next party congress. Conventionally, seven plenary sessions are held during the five-year tenure of each Central Committee. Who are the participants? Since they are plenary sessions, all members of the CPC's Central Committee – including the 200-or-so full members and the several dozen alternative members – are supposed to be present. As a result of President Xi Jinping's sweeping anti-corruption crackdown, nine full members of the CPC's Central Committee and 13 alternative members have been netted since the 18th party congress – exceeding the total number of downfalls of all the full and alternative members in the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th Central Committees of the CPC. What are the general functions of each plenary session? First Plenum Held right after the end of the five-yearly full national congress, the newly elected Central Committee will in turn generate the 25-strong Politburo and the innermost Politburo Standing Committee members, which have seven people in the current session, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. Second Plenum Proposes the list of candidates for the leadership personnel of the government and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body for the National People's Congress to ratify. Usually happens before the “two sessions” – the joint plenary meetings of the NPC and CPPCC. Third Plenum It was at the third plenum in 1978 that former leader Deng Xiaoping announced the Reform and Opening Up policy, which spearheaded major market-oriented reforms and opened China's door to the outside world. Thereafter, subsequent party leaders' first third plenum are usually viewed as the most important plenum where they would table their major political or economic reforms agenda. Fourth Plenum This discusses how to improve the CPC's governing capacity. The last fourth plenum, held in October 2014, focused on the rule of law. Fifth Plenum Usually dedicated to discussions about the government's five-year plans, to be finally approved at the next year's national legislature plenary. Sixth Plenum Discusses improvements in the general morality of society and the CPC, in addition to cultural reforms. This is the most important plenary session in the run-up to the massive leadership reshuffle during the party congress in the autumn of the following year. Seventh Plenum Usually convenes shortly before the party's national congress and discusses the draft Politburo's work report to be presented at the congress. ^ top ^

'Catch it all on video': China's police urged to record law enforcement process (SCMP)
2016-09-28
Chinese police have been urged to videotape all interactions with the public as part of a bigger push to standardise and update law enforcement. The Ministry of Public Security also recommended better training for officers in evidence collection and equipment used in the line of duty, Xinhua reported on Wednesday. The directive from the ministry comes after national outcries over deaths in custody and forced confessions, and as the Communist Party promotes its slogan of “rule by law”. But lawyers doubted the new rules would be effective. The directive was approved four months ago by the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms, which called for standardisation of law enforcement. To reduce the risk of forced confessions, it called for anybody involved in obtaining wrongful convictions to be held liable with no statute of limitations, Xinhua reported. Standards for excluding evidence obtained illegally should be further clarified, it said. To make the system more transparent, it also said information on individual cases should be made available on police websites, except for cases related to state security. The directive follows the release earlier this month of a separate document from the ministry, the supreme court and the top prosecutor setting out how police officers could use posts from personal blogs and social media, and obtain email records and other electronic information as evidence in criminal cases. In another attempt to update procedures, the ministry announced in July that the public could record the actions of police officers on duty as long as officers were not stopped from doing their jobs. It also rolled out new protocols for officers handling criminal, public order and traffic incidents. Mainland Chinese police have long been accused of forcing confessions from and using violence against suspects. The death in custody in May of Beijing environmental scientist Lei Yang just 50 minutes after he was approached by plainclothes officers for an identification check in his neighbourhood caused national outrage. Police said Lei died of a heart attack, but an autopsy report this month said he suffocated on gastric fluid. Lawyers said the big problem was how the rules were enforced. “I'm extremely pessimistic about the implementation based on my experience, but it should still be encouraged as it conforms more to the 'rule by law' spirit,” veteran lawyer Mo Shaoping said. “It's not good regulations that China lacks, but the proper implementation of these regulations.” Lawyer Wang Zhenyu said police could easily work around the protocol allowing the public to record officers. “It could be easily abused by the police,” Wang said. “They can define any action as interfering with police action.” ^ top ^

China cracks down on religious cult (Xinhua)
2016-09-27
Prison terms have been handed down to several members of the Mentuhui (Disciples Sect) cult for organizing a cult and causing deaths, according to the central leading group for the prevention and handling of cult-related activities on Tuesday. The Mentuhui cult with tens of thousands of followers has spread pseudoscience and evil thought under the guise of Christianity, according to the leading group. Classified as a cult by the Chinese government in the 1990s, the Mentuhui also illegally collected money. Yao Xiangzhi, 35, a cult member, was sentenced for causing the death of a cult member surnamed Xu, who suffered from schizophrenia. Xu was denied freedom as well as food and drink for a week, while other cult members prayed for his recovery in June 2015 in Jianli County, central China's Hubei Province. Yao, who only completed primary school, was sentenced to three years for organizing and taking advantage of a cult and causing death. She is currently serving her prison sentence in the provincial capital of Wuhan. "It is a sham to treat any illness by praying to expel evil spirits," said a cult member surnamed Shi, who suffers from serious rheumatism. The cult accumulated more than 40 million yuan (about six million U.S. dollars) between 2011 and 2014 through donations and businesses including supermarkets, according to Yu Shaochao, deputy police chief of Yunxi county, also Hubei Province. The cult never deposited money in banks but kept cash in the hands of its leaders, who often took the money for their personal use, said Yu. "The Mentuhui is an evil cult that has distorted the Bible and cheated the public," said Xu Tao, a religion scholar from Wuhan University. Xu said the government should let religious people play a role in fighting cults, as they are most sensitive to various cults and can help wipe out them in the early stage. ^ top ^

President Xi expects strong, modern rocket force (China Daily)
2016-09-27
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday instructed the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force to continue to build itself into a strong and modern rocket force. Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and also chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the remarks during an inspection of the PLA Rocket Force, as he congratulated the first PLA Rocket Force Party congress. He described the force as a "core of strategic deterrence, a strategic buttress to the country's position as a major power, and a cornerstone on which to build national security." The PLA Rocket Force was established at the end of last year, part of a wider military structural reform drive. Xi conferred the military flag on the Rocket Force at its inauguration ceremony held in Beijing on Dec. 31, 2015. Amid the changing international situation and major challenges to national security, the Rocket Force has played an "irreplaceable" role in containing war threats, ensuring a secure and favorable strategic posture for China, as well as maintaining global strategic balance and stability, said Xi. Xi urged the Rocket Force to increase its sense of crisis and strengthen its strategic ability so as to provide a safe strategic security environment for the nation. New breakthroughs should be made in enhancing the troop's strategic containment capacity, combat preparedness and application of strategy, Xi noted. Xi asked the Rocket Force to follow the Party's absolute leadership, maintain a high degree of consistency with the CPC Central Committee and follow the command of CPC Central Committee and the CMC. He also told Party organizations to promote institutional innovation and strengthen their creativity, cohesion and combat capacity, urging them to improve the way talents are recruited and used. In addition, Xi asked for unrelenting efforts when building a clean and honest army and wiping out corruption. He also said education and supervision for leading officials should be strengthened. ^ top ^

Chinese law firms face punishment under amended rules if lawyers exert pressure on judicial authorities (SCMP)
2016-09-25
Mainland law firms whose lawyers exert pressure on judicial authorities could face penalties including revocation of the firms' licences, according to recently amended regulations by the Ministry of Justice. The amendment, which will come into effect in November, is seen as another move to silence lawyers critical of the authorities as Beijing wraps up a campaign to crack down on rights lawyers that began last July. The crackdown is known as the 709 incident, referring to the date of the first detentions, and more than 300 rights lawyers and activists have been detained, sentenced or questioned since then. Four were sentenced last month to jail terms ranging from three to seven years on subversion charges, in the first trials originating from the campaign. The latest amended regulations on law firms include new items that hold firms responsible if their lawyers make “misleading and distorting comments” about cases, or “provoke discontent towards the party”. Firms are also liable for punishment if their lawyers sign petitions, file open letters or hold legal forums to discuss cases to “exert pressure on” or “attack” judicial departments. Amid widespread criticism of the fairness of China's judiciary bodies, lawyers, legal scholars and activists have repeatedly drawn public attention to controversial cases through such means. For example, in the case of Nie Shubin, referred to by some as China's Shawshank Redemption, a retrial was granted after years of efforts by legal scholars and lawyers. The Supreme People's Court decided this June to rehear the case, 21 years after Nie was found guilty and executed. The case was highly controversial as a suspect caught for another crime confessed that he had committed the murder Nie was found guilty of, years after Nie's execution. Lawyers are concerned their firms could be fined or have their licences revoked if they continue such efforts after the new regulations are implemented. The amendment provides new legal grounds for the authorities to limit discussions by lawyers on controversial cases, said veteran criminal lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan. “Judicial departments and lawyers' associations have asked lawyers to refrain from such discussions, but there was no legal grounds to do so then,” Liu said. “There's no clear standard of what defines distortion of facts,” said Liu of an article in the regulation that bans “hyping up cases”. “But it surely aims at limiting the voice of lawyers.” Zhou Shifeng, director of the Fengrui Law Firm, was accused of “hyping up sensitive cases” and “provoking discontent towards the government” in his August trial, both actions that are banned under the latest regulations. Zhou and his firm were at the centre of the 709 crackdown. The Beijing firm employed nearly 100 lawyers at its peak and has handled many sensitive cases. It represented victims of melamine-contaminated infant formula in 2008, dissident artist Ai Weiwei, blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and ethnic Uygur scholar Ilham Tohti. The amended regulation also states that supporting the leadership of the Communist Party and the socialist legal system is the fundamental goal of all law firms. ^ top ^

The Chinese vote-rigging scandals that raise the question: Why? (SCMP)
2016-09-25
When 3,000 of China's most influential people gathered at the Great Hall of the People in March 2013 for the pageant known as the National People's Congress to approve a new set-up of state leadership, the world already knew Xi Jinping would be “elected” state president, Li Keqiang premier, Zhang Dejiang parliamentary chief, etc. While the NPC is constitutionally charged with as much power as its ilk in the West, China's communist authoritarian rule ensures the party decides everything, and parliament rubber-stamps such decisions. But however ceremonial, seats in parliament are still highly sought-after in a corrupt political market, as evidenced by a massive recent vote-rigging scandal. Last week, the NPC Standing Committee expelled 45 legislators from the northeastern Liaoning province for bribes and vote-buying. The purge has also seen 523 deputies in the provincial legislature resign or be disqualified, including 38 of 62 members of its standing committee. But Liaoning is not the first, or even biggest, scandal. Some 518 of 529 members of the Hengyang city-level people's congress in Hunan province were found to have taken bribes to elect delegates to the provincial legislature in 2013. Chinese people can only directly vote for people's delegates at township and county level. Delegates to the NPC are elected by provincial people's congresses – and the candidate list is dictated by the provincial party committee. Collective corruption has been increasing year after year, and it has spread from government agencies to the judicial authority, army and to the legislative bodies. One can understand how buying promotions in the army and government has been popular, as holders can affect policymaking and allocating money. But selling the powerless position of congress delegate prompts the question of why people pay – and risk getting caught – just to get a job sitting on their hands. And what would be the return on investment? Being a congress delegate represents social status and influence, in a highly hierarchical society. Chinese respect for authority also helps explain why so many people are mad about such symbolic titles, whether at the NPC or the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Under the patron-client political culture, a higher status means wider connections, and being a congress delegate helps facilitate corrupt transactions as delegates get access to people with actual power. Such status can help people form business and political connections. These can be used to promote one's own businesses, or to benefit from a middleman role in someone else's deal. The annual NPC session in Beijing is an excellent occasion for networking with others from China's political and business elites. All the most senior Chinese officials and VIPs attend. The latest vote-buying fraud is just the most egregious manifestation of the corrupt prevailing norms and culture, which are routine in daily life and social activities. While President Xi's ongoing anti-graft campaign has jailed a large number of corrupt officials, it treats only the symptoms and fails to deal with the underlying disease. The corruption culture, derived from both ancient and modern authoritarian systems, has been permeating throughout every corner of the society for eons. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

China to set up no-coal zones in cities around Beijing to tackle hazardous smog (SCMP)
2016-09-29
China will set up a no-coal zone in cities around Beijing next year in efforts to tackle the capital's hazardous smog. The ban, if effectively enforced, could reduce the region's air pollution, but more has to be done in other areas, especially by steelmakers, experts say. Starting from November 2017, factories as well as households in 18 districts and towns in Hebei province would not be allowed to burn coal or build new power generators powered by petroleum coke, Xinhua reported. However, the restriction will not cover coal-fired electricity generators and centralised heating in the 7,148 square kilometres area, the report said. Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, has been the centre of China's efforts to combat pollution as the home of seven of the country's 10 smoggiest cities. More than one million households in the villages of the future no-coal zone still use coal-fuelled heating units, which has led to severe air pollution problems, according to Hebei government's official website. To replace coal consumption with cleaner fuels, the provincial government will provide allowances for villages to pay for electricity and natural gas, as well as upgrade their heating systems. Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said the new move could reduce air pollution by replacing coal-fired boilers with more efficient coal-fired electricity. However, he said the ban on household coal-fuelling heating might not be easy to enforce because some people would still opt for cheap coal, even after they received allowances. The clean-energy zone also failed to cover cities where most of Hebei's heavily-polluting steelmakers were located, Ma said. “To set up a no-coal zone can reduce some pollution in the region,” he said. “It is an important step, but many more steps need to be taken to solve the problem.” The central government has grown increasingly concerned by the notorious smog problems in and around Beijing, which have caused public discontent and tarnished the image of the country's political centre. Various methods have been taken to make the sky blue in the capital. In February, the city announced a plan to develop a network of “ventilation corridors” to help disperse smog. Air quality in the capital usually grows worse in autumn and winter. Beijing considers classifying worst smog events as natural disasters On Sunday, Beijing authorities issued a yellow alert for poor air quality and said the smog had ushered in the start of the pollution season. ^ top ^

China to build deepest, largest high-speed rail station at Great Wall in Beijing (SCMP)
2016-09-29
China will build the world's deepest and largest high-speed railway station at a popular section of the country's Great Wall, as part of its preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics, state media reported on Thursday. The station will be at Badaling, the most visited section of the Great Wall, which lies about 80km northwest of Beijing. The site received 30,000 tourists in just one day during the Lunar New Year holiday week, according to the China National Tourism Administration. “The Badaling station will be located 102 metres below the surface, with an underground construction area of 36,000 square metres, equal to five standard soccer fields, making it the deepest and largest high-speed railway station in the world,” Chen Bin, director in charge of construction for China Railway No 5 Engineering Group, told People's Daily. The station will sit along a railway network that will link the cities of Beijing and Zhangjiakou, which will host the Winter Olympics. The Badaling station will run through mountains under the Great Wall, and will require the use of advanced explosion technologies to ensure that the Unesco World Heritage Site will not be affected, the railway group said. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangdong rights activists get 'lighter than expected' sentences as defiant detainee's fate hangs in balance (SCMP)
2016-09-27
Three leading Guangdong labour rights activists were given suspended sentences of up to three years in prison for “disturbing public order”, one of their lawyers said on Monday. Zeng Feiyang, director of the Guangdong Panyu Migrant Worker Centre, was sentenced to three years with a four-year reprieve. Zhu Xiaomei and Tang Jian, who are also centre members, were given sentences of 18 months with two-year reprieves. “This is lighter than we expected, as Zeng could have been sentenced to up to seven years,” said Lai Shengqi, a lawyer representing Zeng. “So this is the best outcome my client and his family could hope for.” The fate of Meng Han, who also worked with Zeng, is still undecided. Unlike the other three, he has refused to confess, which he had said in a letter would be “betraying his conscience”. Prosecutors had ordered Meng's case to be reinvestigated until the end of this month, and would set his court date then, according to Yan Xin, Meng's lawyer. “He is not a candidate for reprieve, due to a previous conviction for disturbing public order that saw him jailed for nine months in 2013,” Yan said. According to Meng's long-term girlfriend, who did not want to be named, he refused to confess even though his parents had been subjected to an attack by armed thugs in Zhongshan, who vandalised their door and forced them to relocate to another city. Zeng made a confession to police in June after his son and wife were used to pressure him, according to sources close to the family. “The family was told that Zeng could go home after the trial if they cooperated with authorities, including remaining low profile,” one of the sources said. The trial was held at a public security base with a heavy police presence. Over the years, Zeng has become one of the mainland's most prominent labour activists, helping migrant workers in the Pearl and Yangtse river deltas. He was arrested with other activists in December for “gathering a crowd and disturbing public order” in one of the worst crackdowns on labour rights seen in the country for decades. Zeng was not allowed to meet a lawyer for at least six months after his arrest, according to his parents. They said they were going to sue state media in April for smearing their son's character, but were pressured by authorities to give up that pursuit or see the careers of Zeng's nephews sabotaged. According to the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin, Zeng's rights centre had a good reputation among workers and was able on occasion to facilitate talks between employers, employees and local government officials. At the Lide shoe factory in Guangzhou, Zeng's centre helped workers win 100 million yuan (HK$116 million) in compensation in a dispute over relocation costs and social insurance payments, the Hong Kong group said. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

China hopes 'beautiful game' and Tibet's first soccer club can ease troubled region's lingering tensions (SCMP)
2016-09-28
Beijing is hopeful that “the beautiful game” of soccer and Lhasa FC, Tibet's first club, will help to soothe lingering tensions between Tibetans and Han, the ethnic majority in China. Officials hope the highest club in China, established in 2015, can break down barriers in the mountainous region, where relations with Beijing have sometimes been strained since its “peaceful liberation” in 1951. “In the club today, there's no discrimination,” said Luosang Sanzhu, the team's Tibetan midfielder, while practising on the manicured pitch, his great shirt soaked in sweat. “The atmosphere is great.” Luosang, 29, a former gym teacher has emerged as one of the leading lights in the team, which face an unusual headache when recruiting players. At 3,700 metres above sea-level, altitude sickness is a constant hazard for non-Tibetans – and is deterring Han players from joining. “Recruiting them is difficult,” club president Cidan Duoji, an ethnic Tibetan said. “They think that it's dangerous to play football here because of altitude sickness.” Native Tibetans have adapted over generations to the lack of oxygen at high altitudes, which can cause headaches, vomiting, insomnia, or fatigue, and makes playing sports difficult for outsiders. Consequently, only 10 per cent of Lhasa FC's squad are Han, although members of the ethnic group are numerous elsewhere in the regional capital, which sits on the Tibetan Plateau. “Lhasa FC... is a place of cultural exchange for the two communities,” said Cidan, surrounded by the club's red mascots. “We want to show that Tibet can also be a place for sports,” he added. The club's stadium may be one of the most remote in China, but it is also among the most picturesque, with its main stand facing the snowy peaks of the Himalayas. The tranquil setting belies a troubled past. Beijing reaffirmed control over Tibet in 1951 after four decades of de facto independence for the Himalayan territory. Since then, many ethnically Han immigrants – the country's largest group by far – have moved to Tibet, where they remain a minority. In 2008, demonstrations by Tibetan monks in Lhasa degenerated into deadly violence targeting Hans before being quelled. Many Tibetans accuse Beijing of exerting heavy control over their Buddhist religion, diluting their culture, and exploiting natural resources at the expense of the environment. Although Lhasa FC's team lack diversity on the pitch, the hope is that having a club in a national league will make Tibetans feel more integrated into China. Lhasa FC currently play in China's amateur league, the country's fourth-tier football competition and a world away from the moneyed Chinese Super League with its millionaire players and tycoon owners. While Luosang earns 5,000 yuan (US$750) a month as part of the team, which is a good salary in Tibet, Super League clubs have spent a collective €$400 million (US$450 million) buying players this year. Nevertheless, Cidan is bullish – perhaps hoping that Lhasa's altitude will give his team an advantage in home games. “We hope to reach the Chinese Super League and even beat Guangzhou Evergrande!” he said, referring to the five-time defending champions and double Asian title-holders. Soccer arrived in Tibet at the beginning of the 20th century with the British army, but before Lhasa FC's founding the vast region was bereft of clubs. “Football is booming now, with a growing number of competitions organised every year,” Luosang said. Beijing has previously used sport as a political tool, including the “ping pong diplomacy” of the 1970s and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where China showcased its newfound economic might. China is also embracing soccer like never before, with President Xi Jinping heading a drive to host and even win the World Cup – a tall order for a country that is now only 78th in the world rankings of Fifa – the sports international governing body – sandwiched between Saint Kitts and Nevis and Guatemala. Overseas or exiled Tibetans have also looked to the sport as a way to promote their cause. Last year, a women's team of India-based Tibetans played Chinese university students at a tournament in Berlin. And a “Tibet national team” not affiliated with Fifa and supported by the self-declared Tibetan government in exile – which resides in India and opposes Beijing's rule – has played dozens of matches against other non-recognised teams since 2001. Their results have been mixed, with losses of 1-4 to Greenland, 0-22 to Provence, and 0-5 to Gibraltar, but a 12-2 victory over Western Sahara. Just like China's top clubs, such as Guangzhou Evergrande and Jiangsu Suning, Lhasa FC have a corporate founder: the Tibet-based state-owned enterprise Pureland, which sells local specialities including traditional medicines and mineral water. “But running a club in Tibet is economically risky,” sports columnist Jin Shan said. “The region has few developed cities, and the football market is still small. “In short, the return on investment is far from guaranteed.” ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Package of deals signed at China-Eurasia Expo (Xinhua)
2016-09-24
A number of agreements were signed halfway through the China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. A total of 15 telecom operators from eight countries signed a cooperation deal at the fifth China-Eurasia Expo, pledging to enhance interconnectivity in telecommunications and jointly build an "information expressway." Chen Lidong, an official with China's Ministry of Information Technology, said that the "information expressway" will advance the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. Also at the expo, lawyers from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong set up a legal service association. A technology company from Xinjiang signed a deal with UnionPay International and a commercial bank in Kazakhstan for cross-border payment service. Delegates from 57 countries and regions and six global organizations attended the expo, along with 3,500 professional purchasers, organizers said. The expo will conclude on Sunday. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong pan-democrat and localist election candidates trump rivals on social media, study finds (SCMP)
2016-09-29
Pan-democratic and localist candidates outperformed their pro-establishment rivals in the number of fans on Facebook pages and engagement with their fans during the Legislative Council election campaign, a study has found. Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, who won the greatest number of votes in the geographical constituencies, stood out among candidates in the number of fans on his Facebook page. The study was conducted by Dr Brian Fong Chi-hang, associate director of the Academy of Hong Kong Studies at the Education University. He presented the findings at a seminar at the Tai Po university on Wednesday. The total number of fans on Facebook pages set up by pan-democratic and localist candidates was nearly 1.03 million, five times the number on social media platforms operated by their pro-establishment rivals. Fong's research team downloaded and analysed data from candidates' Facebook pages from July 16, when the nomination period started, until polling day on September 4. The study is the most comprehensive analysis of the impact of election-related data on social media platforms. The growth in the number of fans on localist candidates' Facebook pages was the most impressive among all aspirants, with Eddie Chu taking the top slot by scoring an increase of 225 per cent after July 16. Chu, who became “king of votes” after bagging 84,121 votes in New Territories West, was followed by fellow localists Lau Siu-lai and Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who were returned in Kowloon West and Hong Kong Island respectively. In terms of posts written by candidates, Civic Passion's Cheng Kam-mun was the most diligent. He wrote a total of 664 posts, or 13 posts per day, during the campaign period. Lau Siu-lai came second with 462 posts. Fans of pan-democratic and localist candidates wrote nearly three million posts on their pages, compared with about 630,000 on the pages of pro-establishment candidates. “However, the correlation between the number of fans, fans' engagement and the votes they eventually won is not statistically significant,” Fong said. “Eddie Chu is an exception.” Cheng lost on Hong Kong Island with 22,555 votes. Francis Lee Lap-fung, a professor in Chinese University's school of journalism and communication, said his own study indicated that the correlation between the number of Facebook fans, “likes” and votes eventually won by newcomers was more statistically significant than for incumbents. Fong said factors such as voter identification with political parties and candidates' image should also be taken into account in analysing the prospects of candidates in elections. Meanwhile, Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said his analysis of votes in Legco election polling stations across the city showed the New People's Party won the biggest vote share in upper and middle-class neighbourhoods. The party, led by pro-establishment heavyweight Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, won more than 22 per cent of votes in polling stations close to luxury properties, compared with 9.3 per cent bagged by the Civic Party, whose core members are professionals. “The Civic Party was the best performer in upper and middle-class areas in the 2012 Legco elections,” Choy said. “The reversal of fortune for the Civic Party and the New People's Party may be an indication that some middle-class voters have become conservative in the wake of political polarisation in the past few years.” ^ top ^

'Understandable' for Beijing's liaison office to be concerned about who becomes next Legco president, Andrew Leung says (SCMP)
2016-09-29
The man tipped to lead the Legislative Council said on Thursday that it was “understandable” for mainland officials to be concerned about who lands the job. The remarks from Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen provided yet another signal of the pro-establishment camp's readiness to acknowledge the involvement of the Beijing government liaison office in the city's politics. “As the central government's office in Hong Kong, it is understandable that the liaison office is concerned about [who will become Legco president],” Leung said before a small-group meeting with major pro-Beijing parties. The behind-the-scenes involvement by mainland officials has been criticised by pro-democracy politicians, who said the former had no role to play in the city's political matters under the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution. Thursday's meeting focused on who would succeed Jasper Tsang Yok-sing as head of Legco. Leung, of the Business and Professionals Alliance, claimed he was the favourite among his pro-establishment allies, adding that he would seek their support next week. This was despite his suitability for the legislature's top job being questioned by rivals, who said his status as an unelected functional constituency lawmaker meant he lacked a mandate from the public. Martin Liao Cheung-kong, the commerce lawmaker newly appointed as the convenor of the camp, said no choice had been made yet. “It will be discussed in a general meeting of the 40 pro-establishment lawmakers on Monday,” he said. The pro-democracy camp, with 30 lawmakers, will not be able to challenge the choice if the pro-establishment camp comes up with only one candidate. ^ top ^

Top Hong Kong court to decide if ban on resigned lawmakers standing in by-elections is unconstitutional (SCMP)
2016-09-29
Hong Kong's top court will consider next year whether lawmakers who resign can re-enter the legislature through by-election under the Basic Law, despite concerns about the court's interference in such a highly political matter. On Thursday, the Court of Final Appeal gave its permission for an appeal filed by Cheung Chau resident Kwok Cheuk-kin to go ahead next June over his claim against a controversial ban on resigned lawmakers' standing at by-elections. The court said the issue involved a question of public importance and so will pursue it. The top judges were responding to Kwok, who has regularly challenged the government's decisions in the past, who claims that an amendment made in 2012 to the Legislative Council Ordinance was inconsistent with Article 26 of the Basic Law which guarantees the right of Hong Kong permanent residents to stand for election “in accordance with law” and Article 21 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance which gives that right “without reasonable restrictions”. The amendment was made after five then legislators from the Civic Party and League of Social Democrats – Tanya Chan Suk-chong, Albert Chan Wai-yip, Alan Leong Kah-kit, Leung Kwok-hung and Wong Yuk-man – resigned en masse from each of the city's five geographical constituencies to trigger a de facto referendum in 2010 to prompt what they called a “referendum” on the political reform proposal that the government was tabling for discussion at the time. As other political parties did not contest the polls, all five were voted back into office. But turnout was a record-low of 17 per cent. Kwok's first judicial challenge against the ban was dismissed by the Court of First Instance in 2014. The lower court said that the amendment served a legitimate aim – to ensure a fair and effective electoral system. On Thursday, barrister Hectar Pun Hei SC, for Kwok, argued that blanket prohibition, without valid reasons being given in each case, was “unconstitutional”. The top court judges asked whether allowing resigned lawmakers to join by-elections would be prone to abuse, the lawyer said: “The work of the Legislative Council has not been affected.” The judges questioned whether the Basic Law right to stand for election also covers holding a referendum that pursues political purposes. The government argued that the replacement mechanism in question complies with the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. Barrister Johnny Mok SC, representing the government, said lawmakers who resigned with a political motive and participated in a subsequent by-election were abusing their rights. Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li stated that it would be difficult to draw the line at determining whether by-elections triggered by lawmakers' resignations would constitute abuse. “[The decision] is best left to the executive and the legislative branches,” Ma said, adding that the court should not be involved in politics. But after deliberation, judges concluded that the ban would lead to a question of public importance. The court will examine the issue on June 20. In response, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, responsible for the matter, said it would not comment since the case had already entered judicial proceedings. The Department of Justice also declined to comment on the lawsuit. ^ top ^

Hong Kong Occupy activists deliver upbeat message at second anniversary rally (SCMP)
2016-09-28
Yellow umbrellas, pro-democracy banners and street booths reappeared in Admiralty as about 1,000 people commemorated the second anniversary of the Occupy movement. A rally was held on Tim Mei Avenue on Wednesday evening, and many leaders of the pro-democracy movement returned to the site protesters occupied for 79 days. Benny Tai Yiu-ting, one of the trio who launched the Occupy Central campaign, told the crowd not to forget what brought them to Admiralty two years ago. “Two years ago, we came here to fight for democracy in Hong Kong,” he said. Tai noted that since the Legislative Council elections on September 4, in which several Occupy activists were elected, he could see hope for the future of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement. Another Occupy organiser, Dr Chan Kin-man, hit back at claims that the movement was a failure. “Even if we cannot change the system immediately, if the movement provided more momentum for the fight for democracy, then it's not a failure,” he said. Demosisto's Nathan Law Kwun-chung, one of the student leaders who was elected, said that since the first anniversary of the movement he had noticed that Hongkongers were regaining their confidence and energy in fighting for democratic change. Student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung called on participants not to give up the fight for democracy. “We have experienced a lot of frustrations, but this does not mean we have to back down,” he said. Amid the speeches, some activists also printed T-shirts and made handicrafts that symbolised the movement. At 5.58pm, participants marked the moment riot police fired tear gas at protesters with a three-minute silence. Tsoi Yee-chun, a 16-year-old student, said he came to the rally with hopes of encouraging more Hongkongers to speak out against injustice in the city. “I also came to reflect on how we can build a more equal society,” he said. Wong Wai-kwan, 35, said he felt the nature of political discussions in Hong Kong had improved since the Occupy movement. The social worker had brought his daughter, who was born during the civil disobedience movement. “My biggest wish is for my daughter to have real universal suffrage when she grows up,” he said. Earlier on Wednesday morning, League of Social Democrats member Tsang Kin-shing said his group had placed a six-metre-long yellow banner bearing the familiar Hong Kong slogan “I want real universal suffrage” on the hillside opposite Lei Ye House on the Lei Yue Mun estate. But firemen quickly took it down. ^ top ^

Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee gets his life back as police end 24-hour protection (SCMP)
2016-09-27
Police have withdrawn round-the-clock protection for bookseller Lam Wing-kee as the Causeway Bay Books founder says he wants to live a normal life. Lam, one of five booksellers who disappeared last year and turned up in mainland custody, has made explosive claims about how he was kidnapped while crossing the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. In an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post on Tuesday, Lam said he asked police to stop offering him protection at a safe house arranged by the force about a month ago and that the protection was withdrawn two weeks later. “Police acceded to my request after its risk assessment found there would be no problem to stop the round-the-clock protection for me,” he said, expressing his gratitude to officers. The force gave Lam a phone and had been in contact daily to make sure he was safe. Starting from this week they would only be in touch once a week. In a sign that his life is returning to normal, Lam will attend a ceremony outside government headquarters in Admiralty on Wednesday to commemorate the second anniversary of the Occupy Central protests. He also plans to take part in events like the annual July 1 march to make his voice heard. Lam accepted a police offer to protect him in early July after claiming he had been tailed six times since returning to the city in June. “I can't live a normal life under round-the-clock protection. I had to stay at the flat all the time and so I don't have the freedom to walk around,” he said. “Now that the incident [abduction] has started to die down, I want to live a normal life again.” Since the force started offering him protection at an undisclosed location, Lam said he had only gone out to meet friends two or three times. He had to make a request to the force a week in advance before he was allowed to leave the safe house. Looking ahead, Lam said he actively took part in social movements and urged other Hongkongers to do the same. “I will do what every Hongkonger should do, and that is to come out at times of injustice,” he said. “I will come out and fulfil my responsibility as a Hong Kong citizen because I have a responsibility to help the next generation. “One or two years later, I hope that Hong Kong will still be a place where we can all enjoy the freedom of speech.” The disappearances of the booksellers sparked fears that they were kidnapped by mainland agents because their bookstore mainly sold and published in books critical of the Chinese Communist Party. After returning to Hong Kong, Lam revealed that he was kidnapped by agents from a “central special investigative unit” after crossing the border into Shenzhen last October. He said he was first taken, blindfolded and handcuffed, by train from Shenzhen to Ningbonear Shanghai. In Ningbo, he was detained in a facility where he was watched around the clock, he said. In April, Lam was transferred to Shaoguan, Guangdong, where he had to stay in a hotel. Lam, who told the Post in an interview in July that he would leave Hong Kong if his family members and friends got into trouble because of him, said he would stay in Hong Kong as the city was relatively free and safe. ^ top ^

Police investigate planning papers of firm linked to Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying (SCMP)
2016-09-27
Police are expected to collect stacks of documents from town planners for investigation after a controversial plan by a firm linked to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to build 1,600 flats on Lantau Island was alleged to have included more than eight fake supporting submissions. The probe came after Leung on Tuesday sidestepped questions on reports he once suggested adding more flats to a Discovery Bay project proposed by HKR International. HKR is a client of surveyors DTZ Japan, of which Leung is a shareholder. Islands district councillor Amy Yung Wing-sheung, who opposed the plan, found her name and details used to voice support for HKR's plan to build the 1,601 flats by rezoning land. She said some of the submissions even used her office's fax number. The same happened to a number of residents who objected to the project, she said. “I think that is a very serious fraud case,” said Yung, who reported the details to police last month. Police told Yung yesterday they would get bundles of papers from the Town Planning Board. By last night, no one had been arrested. A police source said officers were looking into whether other personal details were used in submissions. “It is going to be a lengthy inquiry because it is complicated,” the source said. Yung urged Leung to give “a direct answer” on whether he had intervened in the project. Yesterday Leung said the government had been looking for ways to ease the housing shortage, but avoided the specific issue. “We have always been studying how to build on the undeveloped lands – be it in Lantau Island or other places in Hong Kong,” he said. “It is a normal practice [for the government] to study how to raise the development density on lands which have already been developed.” The controversy was revived recently after news website HK01 claimed Leung had once suggested, at a senior government meeting, raising the development density of the area and even helping HKR to rezone the land. The latest proposal HKR gave to the Town Planning Board had suggested rezoning two plots of land from a petrol station, staff quarters and other specific uses to residential use. The board is expected to discuss the plan in November. Leung's office refused to address Post inquiries for clarification on whether his alleged move would constitute a conflict of interests, saying he had “nothing to add”. Leung claimed last year he had “transferred the shares of a relevant company to a trust”. ^ top ^

Manila to ask Beijing to legitimise status of up to 200,000 domestic workers illegally on mainland (SCMP)
2016-09-25
The Philippines' new labour and employment minister will visit China next month to push for allowing Filipinos to work legally as domestic workers on the mainland, revealing that up to 200,000 of them are currently working there illegally. Speaking in Hong Kong on Sunday, Silvestre Bello described the number of Filipino domestic helpers working illegally across the border as “alarming”, as he revealed plans to ask Beijing to legalise their status. “I intend to pursue my plan to visit China, maybe Beijing, and talk to the authorities on how to legitimise the stay of our overseas workers and at the same time look at the possibilities of bringing in more workers under legitimate circumstances,” the minister said. “After my visit to Oslo, I may join our president [Rodrigo Duterte] who earlier intimated to me his intention to visit China,” he added. “So it could be the end of October, unless he decides to go first to Saudi Arabia.” While the Hong Kong government has for many years fully opened the door to maids from the Philippines, Indonesia and other countries, the mainland has a different policy. It was only in July last year that Shanghai started to allow foreign residents to legally hire domestic helpers from overseas – Chinese citizens are not permitted to employ them. Only five maids had reportedly been approved to work in Shanghai by the end of last year. And it is only since last month that expatriates, including people from Hong Kong and Taiwan, have been allowed to hire foreign domestic workers in Guangdong. With the mainland's affluent middle class and wealthy citizens seeking hired help at home, a worker at a Shanghai agency told the Post he had heard of cases of better-off mainlanders employing maids from overseas. “Filipino maids are popular with some better-off mainland families because they want to give their children an English-speaking environment at home,” he said. “Compared to local [mainland] babysitters, they are more hard-working and more stable. They won't need to take holidays during Lunar New Year.” It costs about 8,000 to 10,000 yuan a month to hire a foreign maid, he said. Minister Bello said he believed the Chinese government was resistant to opening up the market because that would mean fewer job opportunities for mainlanders who work as domestic helpers. But he countered that the market in the mainland was big enough to accommodate the Filipino maids already working there. He suspected that many of them were misled by employment agencies into thinking they could work as English teachers on the mainland. Teresa Liu Tsui-lan, managing director of Technic Employment Service Centre, said Filipinos were able to work on the mainland through employment agencies engaging in the illegal business, foreign firms allowed to hire foreigners as staff, and some Hong Kong families who hire maids in the city and pass them on to relatives across the border. “The agencies make more than HK$10,000 placing a maid for a mainland client,” Liu said. Meanwhile, Bello quoted his Hong Kong counterpart Matthew Cheung Kin-chung as telling him after a Friday meeting that the city would consider sparing maids from high-rise window-cleaning duties after several plunged to their deaths this year. But Cheung said on Sunday: “A ban is not easy to implement, and also you have to remember, to look at the practical side of the issue. The more immediate thing to do is to educate, promote and remind everybody concerned, the employers and employees that you have to be careful.” ^ top ^

Winning formula: 'one country, two systems' best option for Hong Kong, EU envoy says (SCMP)
2016-09-26
“One country, two systems” rather than self-determination is the best political formula for the future of Hong Kong, the European Union's new envoy in Hong Kong says. Carmen Cano de Lasala also believes that steps should be taken to move forward electoral reform given the recent record high turnout in the Legislative Council elections showing Hongkongers are keen to take part in political life. “I'd like to underline we will continue to support and monitor the implementation of 'one country, two systems', which is key to the prosperity and development of Hong Kong,” Cano said in her first media interview since arriving in the city on September 1. She told the Post that monitoring how the principle operated would be her first priority, and that the EU shared the fundamental elements behind the guiding principles of Hong Kong, including an independent judiciary, the rule of law, freedom of expression, transparency, and fighting against corruption. In April, the EU issued a highly critical annual report on the city, attacking Beijing for its role in the missing booksellers case. It said the case was “the most serious challenge” to “one country, two systems” and raised serious concerns about respect for human rights. Five publishers in the city who produced books critical of mainland leaders disappeared one after another from October last year before resurfacing months later amid claims that mainland Chinese agents had abducted them. “Now it's a moment to rebuild trust,” Cano said. But as to whether the EU would support Hongkongers' right to self-determination, as advocated by some newly elected lawmakers, the diplomat said: “I have already mentioned 'one country, two systems' and we also subscribe to the 'one China' policy. Our position is very clear.” It was important for governments everywhere to pay attention to the new generations, she added. Her comment came after the new United States consul general in the city, Kurt Tong, stated a similar position on Thursday with his remark that the city was “definitely a part of China”. Cano, a Spanish national, has worked in Beijing for nine and a half years, firstly as counsellor in charge of political and cultural affairs in the Spanish embassy from 2006 to 2010. Then she became deputy head and then acting head of the EU's delegation in China and Mongolia. Arriving in town three days before the Legislative Council elections, she said she was impressed by the record voter turnout of 58 per cent and that steps should be taken to move forward electoral reform for full democracy through constructive debate. She had yet to meet Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the newly elected legislators. Asked to comment on Beijing's dislike of foreign governments making remarks about Hong Kong's political situation, she replied: “Part of our diplomatic work is to follow the political situation so that we can explain to our capitals and we can better understand what's going on. “It can contribute to bridging differences. The political situation also impacts on the economy... So I think that shouldn't be a problem. We follow the political situation according to the lines I mentioned to you. Nobody should be worried or concerned about that.” ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's EVA Air hits turbulence over Typhoon Megi flights (SCMP)
2016-09-30
Taiwan's EVA Air has come under fire for its controversial decision to take off and land its planes while the island was under the strong influence of Typhoon Megi, which killed at least five people and injured 622 others on Tuesday. More than 400 international flights were cancelled as Megi, packing winds of up to 160km/h, swept into Taiwan. But 30 of EVA's 45 flights, including those earlier diverted to Hong Kong and Okinawa, took off and landed in strong wind and rain in what local media and online commenters criticised as reckless and risky moves. “Many airlines already suspended their flights, but EVA Air had no fear of the typhoon and even managed to take off and land its planes at the airport,” SET Taiwan cable television reported. “This is crazy,” the report said. Passengers also cried foul, some saying they wished they had never boarded the planes. “I told them I wanted to take back my baggage, but they wouldn't allow me to do so,” one female passenger told SET after reportedly spending hours waiting for her flight to land. Another passenger wrote on her Facebook account: “Many people threw up and two even passed out.” She described the rocking motion of the plane as it tried to land in the strong wind. The passenger said she was trying to write her will using her cellphone but because the flight was so bumpy she kept hitting the wrong keys and typing the wrong words. “Many were crying... it was terrifying,” she wrote in her posts, which also showed a plane ticket with her name and the date of the flight. EVA defended its decision to continue the flights. “Flight safety has always been our top priority,” it said, adding it decided to fly after carefully checking the weather conditions and various standards listed by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. “All flights flying that day operated under circumstances of no safety risks and in line with aviation standards,” it said. But the CAA said yesterday it would investigate whether EVA followed all safety procedures and regulations. Former pilot Yu Hao-wei said in addition to required standards of visibility, whether a plane could land safely depended on crosswind speeds. “If it does not exceed the limit and if the airport remains open, a pilot can choose whether to land or not,” he said. ^ top ^

Mainland urges Taiwan to safeguard Diaoyu Islands, South China Sea (Xinhua)
2016-09-28
A Chinese mainland spokesperson on Wednesday urged people across the Taiwan Strait to safeguard the Diaoyu Islands and the South China Sea as the Chinese nation's ancestral possessions. Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, made the remarks when answering a question concerning former Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou's words at a regular press conference. Ma Ying-jeou said that the Diaoyu Islands and islands in the South China Sea are China's inherent territory, and Japan's territorial claims are acts of theft. Ma Ying-jeou also noted that peace is the highest value for cross-Strait relations and will bring prosperity. Ma Xiaoguang said that the mainland hopes to maintain peaceful development of relations across the Strait. Since 2008, the two sides have followed a path of peaceful development based on the 1992 Consensus. The new Taiwan administration must make a clear response to the common political foundation for the two sides to continue the path, Ma Xiaoguang added. ^ top ^

Trade between Chinese mainland, Taiwan drops 9.8pc year on year in first seven months (SCMP)
2016-09-24
Trade volume between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan reached US$95.55 billion in the first seven months of 2016, down 9.8 per cent year on year, according to the latest figures from the mainland's Ministry of Commerce. Mainland exports to Taiwan totaled US$22.57 billion from January to July, a 12.7 per cent year-on-year drop, while the island's exports to the mainland grossed US$72.98 billion, a decrease of 8.8 per cent from the same period a year earlier. Taiwan is currently the seventh-largest trading partner of the Chinese mainland. A total of 2,051 projects funded wholly or partly with funds from Taiwan were approved on the mainland during the seven months, up 32.2 per cent. By the end of July, the Chinese mainland had 97,349 Taiwan-backed projects, and the mainland's actual use of Taiwanese capital stood at US$64.04 billion, or 3.7 per cent of the total overseas capital. Concerns over the development of business ties between the mainland and Taiwan were triggered after Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party became Taiwan's president in May. Tsai refused to acknowledge the “1992 consensus” – a tacit understanding on the cross-strait relationship reached in a 1992 meeting of representatives from both sides. Taiwan tourism industry representatives took to the streets of Taipei earlier this month to press the government to tackle the decline in the number of mainland Chinese visitors. The demonstration was the first to be organised by the island's tourism industry since a ban on mainland Chinese visitors to Taiwan was partially lifted in 2008, after then president Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang was first elected on a platform of seeking friendlier ties with Beijing. The number of mainland visitors to Taiwan for both tourism and business then quadrupled, from 1 million in 2008 to 4 million last year, amid improved bilateral ties. However, relations with Beijing have stalled since Tsai took office in May. Statistics show the number of mainland tourists dropped by 15 per cent in July from the same period a year earlier. Taipei also expressed dismay that Beijing has blocked it from participating in international agencies. On Friday, Taiwan said it had not been invited to the assembly meeting of a United Nations aviation agency. But Beijing said the upholding of the “One China” principle is a prerequisite for Taiwan to participate in international bodies.  ^ top ^

Sorry, you're not invited: UN aviation agency snubs Taiwan in sign of pressure from Beijing (SCMP)
2016-09-23
Taiwan has not been invited to the assembly meeting of a United Nations aviation agency, the latest sign of the pressure Beijing is bringing to bear on the new independence-leaning government of the self-ruled island it views as a renegade province. Diplomatically-isolated Taiwan is not a member of the UN, which recognises Beijing. Mainland China, in turn, sees wayward Taiwan as fit to be taken back by force if necessary, particularly if it makes moves toward independence. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) said arrangements for the assembly, scheduled from September 27 to October 7 in Montreal, Canada, did not follow the pattern ahead of a previous such meeting in 2013, when Beijing had asked for Taiwan to be invited. “ICAO follows the United Nations' 'One China' policy,” the agency's communications chief, Anthony Philbin, said in an email. “While arrangements had been made for their attendance at the last (38th) session of the assembly, there are no such arrangements for this one.” Taiwan's foreign ministry and presidential office are expected to issue statements on the matter later on Friday. Beijing's foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment. Beijing's refusal to let Taiwan attend the meeting is politically symbolic. It comes as the mainland pressures Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to concede to Beijing's cherished 'one China' principle, which implies Taiwan is a part of China. Since May, when Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party, which traditionally favours independence from China, took power, Beijing has suspended official communication channels with Taiwan, despite the island's request to maintain dialogue. Rapprochement between the mainland and Taiwan in the previous eight years, when the island's government was run by the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang, has started to fade under the DPP. After Tsai's January election win, Beijing resumed ties in March with the small west African state of Gambia, a former ally of Taiwan, signalling an end to an unofficial diplomatic truce. ^ top ^

Taiwanese 'double agent' jailed for 18 years after decade of spying for mainland China (SCMP)
2016-09-23
A Taiwanese court has sentenced a former intelligence officer to 18 years in prison for reportedly working as a double agent and spying for mainland China as relations worsen with Beijing. Major Wang Tsung-wu was sentenced on Thursday by Taiwan's High Court after being convicted of engaging in espionage as well as violating national intelligence and security laws. The court provided no further details, citing national security restrictions. Local media reported how Wang was allegedly turned by the mainland when he was sent there as an undercover agent for Taiwan's Military Intelligence Bureau around 20 years ago. He spied for Beijing for more than a decade, reports said. Wang was recruited by the mainland in 1995 and leaked confidential information before he retired in 2005. A retired colonel, Lin Han, also helped collect intelligence.. Lin had travelled to Singapore and Malaysia to meet mainland intelligence and passed on information about the identities of the Taiwan bureau's officers and their missions, Taipei-based Liberty Times reported. Wang was paid about US$96,000 while Lin received about US$76,000 for the information they passed, it added. Lin received a six-year jail term for violating national intelligence law, the High Court said. Both men can appeal against the ruling. It is the latest in a string of espionage cases and comes as ties between Taiwan and the mainland turn increasingly frosty since Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May. Taiwan and the mainland have spied on each other ever since they split in 1949 at the end of a civil war. Beijing still regards the self-ruled island as part of its territory awaiting reunification – by force if necessary. In 2011, an army general who headed an intelligence unit was sentenced to life for spying for the mainland, in one of Taiwan's worst espionage scandals. That sentence came despite a rapprochement between Taiwan and the mainland under then-president Ma Ying-jeou of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party. Earlier this year a mainland Chinese man was jailed for four years for recruiting a former major-general and other local military officers to spy for Beijing. The major-general received a sentence of two years and 10 months. ^ top ^

1st LD-Writethru: One-China policy prerequisite for Taiwan to participate in int'l activity (Xinhua)
2016-09-23
A prerequisite for Taiwan to participate in any international activity is adherence to the one-China policy, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Friday. Spokesperson Lu Kang's remarks came after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN organization, decided not to invite Taiwan to its assembly in Canada. Only sovereign states have the right to participate in institutions and activities within the UN framework, Lu said. Taiwan, as an inalienable part of China, has no right to participate in the ICAO assembly, he added. On the same day, spokesman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office Ma Xiaoguang said that Taiwan cannot participate in the ICAO assembly because the island's current Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus, which lays out the one-China principle. Ma said the mainland has a clear and consistent stance toward Taiwan's participation in activities held by international organizations: A proper arrangement based on the one-China principle must be made through cross-Strait consultation. Taiwan's civil aviation authorities were invited to send staff as non-voting delegates to the ICAO Assembly's 38th session in 2013. Ma said that was a special arrangement, made through consultation, and against the backdrop of amicable development of cross-Strait relations on the understanding that both sides adhere to the 1992 Consensus. Ma pointed out that the Taiwan side has always enjoyed access to data and information on international aviation security. The spokesman went on to say, "The DPP administration bears full responsibility for this situation." The DPP administration should reflect on why the Taiwan side was able to attend the 2013 ICAO Assembly and today cannot, rather than misleading the public by laying unwarranted blame on the mainland, Ma said. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's economic path debate rages on (Global Times)
2016-09-27
A two decade-long debate between two prominent Chinese economists on whether China should continue a government-backed industrial development model has gained new momentum, as the world's second-largest economy undergoes structural changes in the midst of slower economic growth. Former World Bank chief economist Justin Lin Yifu said the government's industrial development plan has helped bring the Chinese economy to where it is today, and that such policies should continue. Zhang Weiying, a professor at Peking University's prestigious Guanghua School of Management, said he believes the success of the Chinese economy is primarily due to the opening-up that let the market play a larger role, adding that China should scrap industrial policies and let the market play an even larger role. Though the debate between the two economists goes back to 1995 with their views remaining essentially the same, it has attracted much attention lately from media, economists and officials, because of the concerns and uncertainty surrounding the future of China's economy, observers said, noting that such debates are likely to have an impact on the economy at this critical time. "There is nothing new in their debate, but it's again in the spotlight because of China's economic conditions and the public's unease over their future," said Tian Yun, director of the China Society of Macroeconomics Research Center, told the Global Times on Monday. That unease is largely rooted in the housing bubble and surging government debt, especially on the local level, according to Tian, adding that these issues have even led some to bring up "the China collapse theory" again, though such a theory has "no basis." "People are searching for answers in times of uncertainty, and at this stage in the Chinese economy, it is natural that such discussions gain renewed attention," Tian said. In an article attributed to Lin that has been circulating on social media, Lin said that though he believes government industrial policies boosted growth, a "double-track" reform path is best going forward - one that keeps favorable policies to support certain industries, while maintaining stable growth. In response, Zhang, in an article published by the Nanfang Weekly on Sunday, continued to make the case against government industrial development policies, saying economic development must rely on entrepreneurs because they would make judgments and decisions, in the face of an uncertain world, that are "new, unpredictable and not found in existing data." Making adjustments Gao Liankui, a professor at the Department of Economics of the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Monday that having such a discussion is a "very positive thing," which brings more perspectives to the debate and help officials set the most "feasible and promising" path for the Chinese economy. Gao is in line with Lin's view that industrial development policies are necessary to steer industry in the right path. Top economic officials have taken note of the debate. At a briefing on September 14, Zhao Chenxin, National Development and Reform Commission spokesperson, said industrial development policies have played a "positive role" in areas such as economic growth and structural adjustments, and is the "key guarantee" for domestic industries to thrive. Zhao also said adjustment will be made to the country's industrial development policies to accommodate "the new normal," saying current policies face "remarkable challenges" that need to be urgently addressed. Though there have been many opposing views over the path forward, they generally agree that the Chinese economy faces difficulties that need to be addressed, according to Tian. "While discussions are important, actions speak louder. It's not enough to just talk about it, we have to move the reform agenda [under the 13th Five-Year Plan] forward," Tian said. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

China probes firms suspected of NK sanction violations (Global Times)
2016-09-30
The US is investigating a number of Chinese companies for suspected breaches of sanctions on North Korea, as China steps up efforts to crack down on violators. Daniel Russel, senior US diplomat for East Asia, was quoted by Reuters as saying that although China had agreed to a tough round of UN sanctions, there was much more it could be doing to ensure the proper implementation of existing sanctions and by agreeing to new steps. "We recognize that changing Chinese behavior is a prerequisite for changing North Korea's behavior," Russel said. It's the US' latest move to tighten the noose around violators of UN sanctions, after the US Treasury Department said Monday that it was slapping sanctions on Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Company for using proxy companies to violate sanctions on North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that China has faithfully implemented UN Resolution 2270, especially on intensifying checks on any exports of military-related products, suspending financial services and cutting off aircraft fuel supplies to North Korea since March. UN Resolution 2270 is the toughest sanction on North Korea so far. "However some companies located on the border have relations with North Korea. They may evade the sanctions for financial gain. And the Chinese government is cracking down on these violators, Lü said. Lioaning's public security department announced on its official Sina Weibo on September 15 that they have placed Dandong Hongxiang and its executives under investigation for "serious economic crimes involving trade activities." It is unfair to imply that China has not fully implemented UN sanctions since March, and the US should not blame China because the sanctions have little effect on stopping further North Korean nuclear tests, Lü said. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Tuesday that any person or company found breaching UN regulations will be punished, and, if necessary, China will cooperate with other countries on this on the basis of mutual respect and equality. Geng also noted that China opposes any country which uses domestic laws to carry out "long-arm jurisdiction" against Chinese entities or individuals. Jin Qiangyi, director of the Asia Studies Center at Yanbian University, told the Global Times on Thursday that local governments of border areas are in a dilemma since border trade has become one of their main businesses, and that the central government should provide support to enforce the sanctions. No halt The US has also urged the UN Security Council to address a provision that allows China to import coal and iron ore from North Korea. Washington suspects this has influenced the sanctions' economic leverage against the North, AP reported on Wednesday. The Nikkei Asian Review reported that coal accounts for nearly 40 percent of Pyongyang's trade with China. Imports of gold, iron ore and coal from North Korea have recently dropped but not halted in deference to the North Koreans' livelihood, Jin said Jin noted that major ports in Shandong and Liaoning that used to import coal from North Korea report limited coal imports from that country in recent months. The Korea Herald reported that China's exports to North Korea show a drop of 27.6 percent to $193 million in July from the same period in 2015. And China's imports from North Korea dropped by 5 percent from a year ago at $227 million. "China will also fulfill its international obligations if the UN tightens sanctions on the North after its largest explosion this month. But any sanctions should be under the UN framework since any unilateral activity or threat of the use of force especially from the US may deteriorate the situation on the Korean Peninsula," said Lü. Four days after North Korea's fifth nuclear weapons test on September 9, the US Air Force responded with a show of force to the North, flying two powerful, supersonic B-1 bombers over South Korea, according to CNN. US patience toward North Korea has dwindled, and the international community should not count on economic sanctions without a subsequent response, Jin said, adding that all concerned parties should work together to come up with more practical measures. ^ top ^

China says its mineral trade with DPRK accords with UN resolutions (Xinhua)
2016-09-29
The current mineral resources trade between China and the DPRK accords with relevant UN Security Council resolutions and China's domestic laws, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Thursday. It was reported that Daniel Russel, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, said on Wednesday that China's purchases of coal and other economic activities have created a lifeline for the DPRK that reduces the impact of global sanctions. Spokesperson Geng Shuang reiterated that China is opposed to the DPRK developing nuclear weapons and is committed to realizing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. "This position is consistent and clear," Geng said at a press conference. China is a responsible country and has faithfully implemented relevant UN Security Council resolutions and honored its international obligations in non-proliferation, Geng said. "These efforts are clear for all to see," Geng said. The cause and crux of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue do not rest with China, and the core of the issue is the conflict between the DPRK and the United States. The United States should take due responsibility to play a constructive role in solving the issue, Geng said, noting that China will continue to make unremitting efforts for proper settlement. The Chinese side urges all parties to keep in mind the big picture and make genuine efforts for achieving denuclearization, peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, Geng said. In response to recent reports that the United States is investigating a number of Chinese companies for suspected breaches of the sanctions against the DPRK, Geng said any misconduct by any enterprise or individual, once found and confirmed, will be dealt with seriously. We stand ready to cooperate with relevant countries in this process on the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment, the spokesperson said. If any country tries to exercise "long-arm jurisdiction" by enforcing its domestic laws over Chinese enterprises and individuals, we are firmly opposed to that, Geng said. ^ top ^

North Korean defector left Hong Kong over weekend, not weeks ago as first reported (SCMP)
2016-09-28
A North Korean defector left Hong Kong to seek refuge in South Korea over the weekend – not weeks ago as earlier reported – according to a news agency which captured the student's life inside the South Korean consulate in the city before he left. The news agency FactWire cited a source as saying that Jong Yol-ri played electronic games during his final days at the consulate, where he had sought refuge. Images and video clips were taken by FactWire over several days in late August, contradicting previous reports that the 18-year-old student had safely arrived in a third country in the middle of that month. The news agency quoted sources saying Jong left Hong Kong for South Korea over the weekend, capping a two-month stay in the city. The South Korean consulate has never confirmed it was assisting Jong and did not respond to the Post's inquiries on Wednesday. The Hong Kong government also said it had no information to provide regarding the report. The video clips showed Jong on multiple occasions standing at the window of a brightly-lit room inside the consulate, which is located at Far East Finance Centre in Admiralty. In one clip, he is smiling and appears to be talking to someone. In others, he is shown eating, tidying up his clothes and cleaning his room. Another clip shows him hanging up a shirt as if he is preparing to wear it later. The agency said Jong was provided with electronic games to help him pass the time. Before his defection in July, the student was in town to attend a maths competition with his five teammates and was staying at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where the annual event was held. He is the first North Korean known to defect in Hong Kong since the city's handover to China in 1997. During his stay here, both uniformed and plainclothes police were stationed at the consulate's building in Admiralty. The report, citing sources, said Jong was put in a conference room at the start of his stay, and was watched by South Korean officials round the clock, including during meal times and at bedtime. He needed to leave the room to use a public toilet near the consulate's visa department, meaning he was easily visible to consulate visitors. An Jae-su, an official from the South Korean embassy in Beijing, reportedly came to Hong Kong in August to meet local security officials as well as Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff based in the city. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-09-29
The Cabinet resolved on Wednesday to submit the bill on ratifying the Financial Cooperation Agreement between the Governments of Mongolia and the Republic of Austria to the State Great Khural for immediate discussion. The funds of EUR 40 million from the 18-year soft loan is to be allocated for projects on drinking water source in rural areas, health and sanitation, waste management, water treatment, traffic safety, railroad, education, government training center and social care. A decision was made to deploy a project unit with purposes of launching major projects such as the on Oil refinery plant and the Project on Coal Gasification Plant. The Ministers reviewed the concept of bill on Genetic Pool of Livestock, and approved the document. ^ top ^

Cabinet to submit bill to ban offshore properties for high government officials (Montsame)
2016-09-29
The Cabinet considered the heated discoveries of offshore bank accounts and private entities under the name of government high-ranking officials are affecting the people's confidence in the public services. Therefore, at its regular meeting of September 28, the cabinet discussed the draft amendments to the Law on Adjustment and Prevention of Conflict of Interest in the Public Service, and resolved to submit the bill to the State Great Khural (Parliament). The bill sets out a provision, which bans the government officials, who are obliged to submit annual income statement to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), to own bank accounts and private entities in offshore regions. According to the latest statistics, a total of 13,140 companies with investments from 110 countries have been registered in Mongolia, of which 920 companies or 7.0 percent have investments from offshore regions. Between 1990 and 2015, a total of USD 14.2 billion of foreign investment entered Mongolia. Offshore investments constituted USD 10.8 billion or 76 percent. ^ top ^

Combating Gender-Based Violence in Mongolia project launches (gogoMongolia)
2016-09-28
In the past six years, 95 lives were lost because of violence (in Mongolia), stressed Yo.Enkhjargal, the director of the National Centre Against Violence at the opening ceremony for the launch of UN and SDC joint “Combating Gender-Based Violence” project on September 28. The ceremony was opened by the speeches of Minister of Justice and Domestic Affairs S.Byambatsogt and UN Population Fund Representative Naomi Kitahara, who also signed and formalized the project document. Markus Waldvogel, Country Director of SDC in Mongolia and Naomi Kitahara signed the contributions agreement to the project on June 24. Gender based violence (GBV) and particularly domestic violence (DV), is a serious and life-threatening human rights violation prevalent in Mongolia today. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) expressed concern “(At) the high prevalence of violence against women, in particular domestic and sexual violence, (and) at the lack of statistical information on violence against women.” According to the statistics of the General Police Authority, nearly 88.3% of victims of domestic violence are women, and 40% of them are young women aged 15-34, who are more unlikely to report. In addition, eighty people lost their lives, and 3,299 people were injured due to domestic violence in the last 5 years. In 2015, there were 1,356 cases of domestic violence registered and the number of domestic violence cases reported to the police increased by 26.0 percent from the same period of the previous years The project aims to tackle GBV/DV in Mongolia by: 1) gathering data countrywide on the current state of GBV/DV and its root causes; 2) raising awareness of GBV/DV to help encourage a more sensitive public and responsive decision-makers; and 3) improving and expanding response mechanisms for survivors of GBV/DV. The Project implementation partners include three Government Ministries, namely the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection, and the Ministry of Health and Sports; Government agencies such as the National Registration Statistics Office, General Police Authority and the National Committee on Gender Equality; and partner NGOs. ^ top ^

Protest Vote (gogoMongolia)
2016-09-28
Although first held democratic elections as long ago as 1991, older people continued to support and vote for the Mongolian People's Party (prior to 2010, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party). But this year, we had protest vote in that the youth also voted for the MPP. The Democratic Party that been in government gave its explanation for the failure. But a survey of people from both the capital city and rural areas shows the following reasons: 1.the non-democratic ruler of the Democratic Party 2.lack of realistic choice; and 3.effective black PR campaign. Each of these reasons is further explained below. 1. The biggest reason why Democratic Party failed in the elections was cited as the non-democratic ruler of the Democratic Party. Here we are talking about the former Speaker of Parliament. His autocratic and authoritarian style became a matter of concern for Mongolia and Mongolians. Here are some examples of how he was a non-democratic speaker. 1. He cut off the microphone when a Parliament member speaking within his allotted time and he explained that the reason why he cut off the microphones was that 'I don't like what you are talking about', or 'I do not understand what you are speaking about' etc. This happened more than just once. He discriminated against a parliament member based on his rural and non-mainstream dialect. These are just some examples. There are many other examples of his unpopular behavior and this is one of the biggest reasons why the Democratic Party failed. Former Speaker of the Parliament Z.Enkhbold 2. Prime Minister Saikhanbileg called a referendum on 31 January 2015. There were 2 choices: 1. We have to move forward by making decisions about mega-projects such as Oyutolgoi; or 2. save costs and use austerity to improve the financial situation. The referendum continued for 4 days, but was flawed. First, at that time the population of Mongolia had just reached 3 million, but the PM said that he has sent the referendum election message to a total of 3.3 million voters. People were able to vote by SMS messages, and therefore this means one person could vote several times. Even non Mongolian citizens and children, who are not entitled to participate in national referendums, voted. Second, only 12% of the population voted and 5% of the population voted for option 1. If it was a valid referendum, by Mongolian Constitutional Law there is a threshold of 50% of the population. Third, no kind of audit or observation was undertaken by civil society groups. Former Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg Overall, the populace determined that the PM did not give them realistic choices - they did not want to choose between the two options, rather they wanted to choose a combination of the two or perhaps even a third way to solve the problem. Further, notwithstanding that the result of the referendum was to move forward by being decisive about big projects, the Democratic Party's own internal conflicts of interest between its factions stymied any advancement on such projects even when they were in power. As a result, these big projects have not progressed even till today. 3. Our capital city and some rural areas developed rapidly for in the 4 years when the Democratic Party ruled the country. Thus many people really support and are proud of the Democratic Party. But their adversaries had an effective black PR campaign, judging the Democratic Party on its debt record. If we divide the total debt that Mongolia has now, every man has more than MNT 10 million in debt, approximately equivalent to USD 5,000. The opposition claimed (to great effect) that it was crazy that even newborn babies have debt. As a result, the majority of the population turned against the Democratic Party, ignoring the development that has taken place in the last 4 years when Democratic Party was in power. In the latest news, Mongolia's national debt has reached a total of USD 14,824,369,000. It is true that we cannot do anything without money, and therefore if we want to develop our country and we do not have money, we must borrow from others. When people asked about the efficient spending of the loan proceeds, it was difficult to find a positive answer. On other hand, it is true that the Democratic Party was not thrifty with Mongolia's money. Thus, Mongolians protested against the Democratic Party by voting for the Mongolian People's Party. In the last election, the Mongolian People's Party won 85.5% of the Parliamentary vote giving it 65 seats out of 76. Even the previous Prime Minister and Speaker failed to win their constituency, and so the Democratic Party now has only 11.8% of the current Parliament. This is a reaction to how Mongolians felt with the Democratic Party's non-democratic ruler and its messy political situation with too many conflicts of interest between its factions. Mongolia will have rural local body election in less than a month. But the Democratic Party has not convened its National Consultative Committee in the time since its previous election failure. So, political experts say that it appears that the Democratic Party will fail again. On the other hand, the Mongolian People's party have already passed some regulations and decisions that is differ from what they promised before the election. For example, they are discussing whether to spend USD 2.5 million on dog contraception. They are also discussing tax reform, retirement benefits and whether to discontinue the subsidised mortgage programme. If their actions are not consistent with the Action Plan that they submitted to Parliament, this could lead Mongolia to yet another protest vote in 2020. Only time will tell. ^ top ^

International IDEA and Mongolian Election Committee to work on handbook for IT Use in Elections (Montsame)
2016-09-28
On Tuesday, members of the State Great Khural and heads of the parliamentary Standing committees on State Structure and on Environment, Food and Agriculture N.Enkhbold and Ts.Garamjav received a delegation from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). Head of the delegation and IDEA Senior official Adhi Aman informed that the institute comes up with a cooperation proposal for the Mongolian Election Committee on developing a handbook on use of information technology in elections. Mongolia has been elected the chair of the International IDEA for 2016, thus committed to share its democratic experiences with other countries. In this spirit, the visiting delegation is holding a roundtable meeting on the IT use during elections on September 28. Mongolia joined the International IDEA in 2011, and was elected to the Administrative Council in 2013. As the chair for 2016, Mongolia hosted the annual meeting of the council at home under the theme: “Learning from democratic transitions in Asia and the Pacific” on August 25 and 26. ^ top ^

Mongolian and US Senior Military Leaders assemble during Non-Lethal Weapons Seminar (Montsame)
2016-09-27
After 12 days of instruction and hands-on training, the Non-Lethal Weapons Executive Seminar 2016 came to an end with the closing ceremony during the leadership seminar on September 23. Service members from the Mongolian Armed Forces, Mongolian National Police Department and U.S. Marines with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force, as well as representatives from 18 nations across the Indo-Asia-Pacific, participated in NOLES. This year marked the 15th iteration of the exercise. NOLES is a regularly scheduled U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific field training exercise and leadership seminar hosted annually by various nations. NOLES 2016 consisted of a field training exercise, or FTX, from September 12-21 and a three-day leadership seminar from September 21-23. The exercise promotes awareness and effective use of non-lethal weapons to maintain order during civil unrest. During the FTX, service members learned different tactics consisting of Taser and oleoresin capsicum exposure, mechanical advantage control holds techniques, non-lethal munitions and live fire and riot-control techniques. “The FTX is a bilateral piece of NOLES, where we exchange tactics, techniques and procedures with the host nation [Mongolia],” said Larry Brown, non-lethal weapons liaison officer, Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate from Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. During the seminar portion, senior leaders from various nations participated in several briefs consisting of human rights laws, cultural awareness, non-lethal technology and two practice scenarios. During the scenarios, leaders formed groups where they applied non-lethal tactics and weapons to approach different situations. “During the seminar, we educate and inform [leadership] with the help of the FTX to demonstrate capabilities and conduct briefings that educate on legal aspects and media incorporation, and conclude [NOLES] with scenarios on how they can incorporate non-lethal weapons,” Brown said. “You could see the active participation in the scenarios. I think that everybody gets a lot out of it when they learn from their partners from other countries.” Next year's NOLES will take place in the country of Sri Lanka. Brown explained it will probably include a medical capability portion as well as a Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate demonstration of new technology and capabilities within the non-lethal spectrum, reported the US Marine Corps on Monday. ^ top ^

Premier urges to revise PSA with Petro China (Montsame)
2016-09-26
During his working tour in Dornod aimag, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat visited the 21st area of Petro China Dachin Tamsag company. The company drilled 980 holes last year out of which 926 are operated. Over 734 thousand tons of oil has been extracted so far this year, out of the planned 1.3 million tons for 2016. “Heavy investments are required for the drilling process takes a lontg time and the low output is yielded. These factors as well as the oil price (USD 43), are the main reason of the low performance of this project”, explained the company leaders. As of the end of 2015, the Petro China Dachin Tamsag has allocated USD 518 million in tax to the Mongolian Government budget and USD 719 million – to the Chinese Government budget, in compliance with the product sharing agreement. Prime Minister J.Erdenebat reaffirmed the Government is working for ensuring favorable environment for the investors, and reminded that investors need to fully observe their obligations before the Mongolian laws and regulations. The PM highlighted the necessity for the company to train Mongolian professionals and increase the number of Mongolian workers in the company. The product sharing agreement need to be revised in accordance with the recent legal changes, he added. ^ top ^

Ts. Elbegdorj and Ban Ki-moon discusses enhancing Mongolia's role on international arena (gogo Mongolia)
2016-09-23
The Mongolian President and the UN Secretary General had an official meeting on September 22. Mr Ban Ki-moon extended gratitude and expressed high recognition of Mongolia's constant commitment and dedication to the UN-organized actions for peace and universal prosperity. He also congratulated Mongolia for realizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals at home and for ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Moreover, the UN leader extended thanks to the people of Mongolia for the continuing contributions to the UN Peacekeeping actions. The President, Mr Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj underlined that Mongolia takes its responsibility and commitment seriously to the multilateral dialogues and collective discussion for finding solutions for the global issue, and implementations of the SDGs, the Paris Agreement and other international documents, and pledged further dedication and efforts on these matters. The sides continued their meeting by discussion about the current state and improvement of Mongolia's involvement in the UN-oriented and international cooperation, and some urgent global issues. After this, the Mongolian President legged the Permanent Representatives Office of Mongolia to the UN and met with representatives of Mongolian nationals living in New York. ^ 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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