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
  3-7.10.16, No. 642  
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Switzerland

UNDP, SDC, State Great Khural formalize Strengthening Self-Governance Project (Montsame)
2016-10-03
A document on the Capacity Strengthening of Local Self-Governing Bodies Project was signed today by the Speaker of Parliament, Mr M.Enkhbold, the Resident Coordinator of the UN Development Programme, Ms Beate Trankmann and the Deputy Director of Cooperation Mongolia of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperaiton (SDC), Ms Gabriella Spirli. Funded by UNDP and SDC, the project is charted to strengthen organizational capacity of the Citizens' Representatives Khurals (local council), improve local administrations' legal grounds, build a permanent mechanism of practicing the national capacity building program for elected representatives and enhance the capability of the Parliament Secretariat of implementing the Law on Legal Documents. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Central, Eastern Europe key to Belt and Road Initiative: senior CPC official (Xinhua)
2016-10-06
Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Liu Yunshan said on Thursday that Central and Eastern Europe is a key region for building the Belt and Road Initiative and a priority area in China's external exchanges and cooperation. Liu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the comment when addressing the opening ceremony of the China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) Political Parties Dialogue, the first of its kind within the China-CEECs cooperation mechanism, dubbed as the 16+1 framework. "The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and advocated by the Chinese government, is a major move for China's opening-up on all fronts, fits in line with the theme of peace and development, and accords with the internal need of all countries to accelerate development. It will present more development opportunities to the world and open up more space for coordinated development of China and CEECs," Liu said. Over the past three years, the Belt and Road Initiative has increasingly become a new driver of global economic recovery, a new bond for exchanges between Asian and European civilizations and a new platform for improving global governance, he said. "It has been proved that jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative helps boost prosperity and regional economic cooperation among countries along the Belt and Road, enhance exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations and promote world peace and development," Liu said. He called on China and CEECs to respect each other, enhance political mutual trust, maintain close high-level exchanges, implement consultation and dialogue mechanisms and consolidate traditional friendship to lay a solid political groundwork for deepening consultation. Liu urged both sides to pursue win-win outcomes and synergize development strategies by promoting policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people ties, bringing about a new win-win situation featuring aligned development, mutually reinforcing growth and integrated interests. He said both sides need to focus on major projects in priority areas of infrastructure connectivity, industrial cooperation, materializing some key projects at a faster pace to bring more tangible benefits to all countries, adding that people-to-people and cultural exchanges and friendship among the people should be strengthened. Political parties in China and the CEECs enjoy a long history of interaction and it is their shared responsibility to make good use of the "16+1" cooperation platform and advance the Belt and Road Initiative to release the potential for cooperation, Liu said. Political parties should shoulder the responsibility of strengthening political guidance and consolidating strategic mutual trust, conduct candid dialogue on major issues concerning the Belt and Road Initiative and the "16+1" cooperation and translate the political dialogue outcomes into government policies, Liu said. "We should build consensus among political parties and coordinate operations, focus on common interests and resolve differences and disputes through dialogue and consultation," Liu said, adding that political parties have the responsibility of increasing understanding between the peoples and translating cooperation vision into tangible benefits to the peoples. The CEECs leaders, including Viktor Orban, president of Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Alliance and Prime Minister of Hungary, Vojtech Filip, leader of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia and vice president of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, thanked the CPC for creating the dialogue platform for political parties to discuss development strategy, overcoming ideological and geographical differences. The Belt and Road Initiative is a grand peaceful proposal to promote cooperation and win-win development. The initiative, rooted in China's profound philosophy and culture and love for peace, will guide the Europe-China relations for the coming decades and enable both sides to contribute to world peace, security and development, the CEECs representatives said. They said political parties in the CEECs were delighted to engage in building the Belt and Road Initiative and are willing to work with the CPC to play a politically guiding role to lead the think tanks, civil organizations and the public to implement the initiative and make efforts for the peace and prosperity of China, the CEECs as well as the world. Liu arrived in Budapest earlier Wednesday for a two-day official good-will visit to Hungary. Liu is taking on an Asia-Europe tour, which took him to Mongolia and Greece ahead of Budapest. ^ top ^

China-made locomotives run along Africa's first electric railway (Xinhua)
2016-10-06
Three heat-resistant locomotives tailor-made for Ethiopia have been put to use on Africa's first electric rail line. The locomotives, designed and manufactured by CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co. Ltd., have gone through a series of tests on the line linking Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, with Djibouti City, capital of the Republic of Djibouti. The line runs through a plateau and desert region and is very demanding technically. "Thermostability is particularly important as in summer the temperature can be as high as 50 degrees Celsius, along with huge day-night and seasonal temperature differences," said technical expert Kang Mingming with CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive. He said the locomotives have been put to use in Ethiopia on Thursday local time for passenger transportation. Thirty-two locomotives for cargo transportation, each with a power of 7,200 kilowatt, will be delivered soon. Once put to use, these locomotives will significantly improve Ethiopia's cargo transportation efficiency and trade cooperation with neighboring countries, said Kang. The trunk line across East Africa is 752.7 km long and cost four billion U.S. dollars. Trains can travel at a designed speed of 120 km per hour.  ^ top ^

Clinton more popular than Trump in China, Pew survey finds (SCMP)
2016-10-05
A survey released on Wednesday found that Hillary Clinton is better liked than Donald Trump in China, where the US presidential election – and the criticisms both candidates have made of Chinese policy – have generated intense attention. Clinton was seen favourably by 37 per cent of respondents in a survey in mainland China conducted by the Washington, DC-based Pew Research Centre, while just 22 per cent saw Trump favourably. At the same time, 35 per cent of respondents saw Clinton unfavourably, while 40 per cent had an unfavourable impression of Trump. The survey found that Chinese interest in the United States comes with strong scepticism. More than 80 per cent of respondents said they considered the US to be a threat to China. While the Pew survey has no bearing on the US election, it offers a rare glimpse of the opinions of ordinary Chinese, whose views can be hard to discern due to China's censorship of the media and social media channels. US President Barack Obama was seen favourably by 52 per cent of respondents, up from 31 per cent in a similar survey in 2013 but still below 62 per cent shortly after he took office in 2009. The next president will have to work with China on several important fronts. On issues like climate change, both countries have found some common ground and jointly announced last month that they would join an international agreement to cut carbon emissions. On others, like the South China Sea and North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, Beijing and Washington are deeply divided. Chinese state broadcaster CCTV provides selective and largely sporadic coverage of the US presidential election. But ever-growing numbers of Chinese tourists, immigrants and students are travelling to the US and seeking information about the country on the internet. Pew's survey was conducted between April 6 and May 8 and included in-person interviews with more than 3,100 Chinese. Pew said it had a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points. Participants were asked how much confidence they had in Obama, Clinton and Trump to “do the right thing regarding world affairs”. Clinton has a longer history of engagement with China than Trump, dating back more than two decades to her famous 1995 speech in Beijing in which the then-first lady declared that “human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights”. As secretary of state, Clinton oversaw the American “pivot” to the Pacific, a hallmark of Obama's foreign policy that has been derided by China. Trump has made some of his signature clothing line in China and boasted during the campaign of his dealings with Chinese businessmen. But he has repeatedly blamed China for the loss of American jobs and accused China of cheating at global trade. His campaign website says he would use “every lawful presidential power” to punish China if it “does not stop its illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets.” Renmin University political science professor Zhang Ming, who was not involved in the Pew survey, said he had found opinions varied widely on the two candidates, depending in large part on how people felt about China itself. “Some Chinese agree with government policies, so they hope the candidate who wins the election will be friendly towards China,” Zhang said. “Some people may want the new president to interfere in some issues in China if they disagree with government policy.” ^ top ^

China-Europe forum opens in Athens for better East-West cultural understanding (Xinhua)
2016-10-04
As the China-Europe Civilization Dialogue opened Monday in the Greek capital of Athens, the international community expects that the East and the West can work together even closer to face their common challenges and make the world a better place for all mankind. The forum, the first of its kind, is titled "China-Europe: Cultural dialogues in Greece," and was hosted at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Held in the cradle of the Western civilization, the event, co-sponsored by the Chinese and Creek culture ministries of Greece, as well as the Chinese embassy in Greece, seeks to lay the foundation for a much broader and deeper cultural understanding between China and Europe. "Greece and Europe need to learn more about China, and the latter needs to learn more about Greece and Europe," Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki, secretary general of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports said in his opening speech. Both the Chinese and Greek side as well as European experts who addressed the event underscored the significance of enhancing cultural ties between the East and the West to help advance collaboration on all other fields. "I believe this dialogue can help further promote China-EU partnership," Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee said, addressing the event as keynote speaker. "We need to replace the clash of civilizations with the harmony of civilizations," he said, outlining China's plan, which includes the strengthening of cultural exchanges. Greek Culture Minister Aristides Baltas said in his speech that the debt ridden Greece is working hard to restore its place in the world, and the forum is highly appreciated as more of a vote of confidence by the Chinese government and people in the potential of his country. "In this course we want to cultivate all the old friendships and cooperation and at the same time to launch new friendships... It is fortunate that our Chinese friends chose Greece as the first country to launch their dialogue with Europe," he said. Cultural dialogue helps build bridges to ease frictions in the political and economic field and collaborate to resolve common problems, many speakers agreed. "We need to expand our cooperation to tackle common challenges. This is why we need cross-cultural dialogue. We need to learn from each other," Huang Ping, director of the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, said. "The problems the entire world faces today are not only economic. They are first of all I would say problems of values therefore cultural," Konstantinos Tsoukalas, president of the Hellenic Cultural Foundation, told Xinhua. "In this sense I believe there is no better start to promote dialogue regarding the future of our world than the dialogue between the two great civilizations," he said. Monday also marks the 150th opening anniversary of the museum. Following a tour to the museum, accompanied by Baltas and Speaker of the Greek parliament Nikos Voutsis, Liu also visited the New Acropolis Museum. Later in the day, the senior Chinese official attended a special concert, which was held to celebrate the "dialogue between the two great civilizations." ^ top ^

Afghanistan's man at UN urges China to put pressure on Pakistan over terrorism (SCMP)
2016-10-03
Afghanistan's UN ambassador says Pakistan is providing a safe haven for terrorists, such as the Taliban, and has called on China to assert its influence and dissuade Islamabad from supporting militant groups in the region. Mahmoud Saikal said neighbouring Pakistan's support of terrorists was the root cause of unrest in Afghanistan. “Most terrorist activities [in Afghanistan] have links to Pakistan,” he said. “The question is not about the Taliban. The question is about the forces behind the Taliban. Who is providing the safe havens and logistic support to the Taliban?” Pakistan has allegedly been closely associated with the Taliban since its birth in the mid-1990s. The Afghan government has accused Pakistan of financing the Islamist group, an allegation Pakistani authorities deny. Former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan in May. Osama bin Laden, the founder and head of the Islamist group al-Qaeda, which was behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, was killed in Pakistan in May 2011. Saikal said the Pakistani military, by supplying arms to terrorist groups and allowing them to establish bases in its territory, had used the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other proxies to wage an undeclared war against its regional rival India. Afghanistan had thus been a victim to the complex and often hostile relationship between its two neighbours, he said. “On a daily basis, we lose about 30 to 40 people in Afghanistan because of violence, extremism, abuse and terrorism, with the majority of them civilians. “It's a matter of circles within Pakistan, which use the Taliban as a proxy for their misguided strategic interests. So this is why we need to deal with the issue at its core and not deal with the consequences of it,” Saikal said. China has also suffered from the spread of terrorism in the region. Unrest in northwestern China's Xinjiang region is blamed by Beijing on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a separatist group founded by militant Uygurs. The group has created major headaches for the Communist Party, and China has long been concerned that the unrest in Afghanistan would spill over into Xinjiang. “Almost all members of ETIM who have left China have gone to Pakistan,” Saikal said. “They have received training in Pakistan and have been trying hard to return to China to cause trouble. “China should tell its strategic partner, Pakistan, to stop receiving members of ETIM, to stop their activities there, and stop their training there.” Since December, China, Afghanistan, the United States and Pakistan have been working for reconciliation in Afghanistan as members of what has been dubbed the “quadrilateral coordination group”. “China has been an active member,” Saikal said. “We feel that China is working hard. But so far, we see no sign of a paradigm shift on the part of Pakistan. “We appeal to China to continue its efforts.” In March, Taliban insurgents rejected an offer of peace talks from the Afghan government. The possibility of peace talks appeared to become even less likely after Mansour's death in May. US army General John Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, said in early September that the Taliban controlled more than 10 per cent of the Afghan population and was battling the government for control of at least another 20 per cent. Saikal said the quadrilateral coordination group, with the full participation of China, “needs to work harder” at achieving a breakthrough – in particular, by influencing the terror groups' major sponsor, Pakistan. “China has soft power,” Saikal said. “That image of soft power could be tarnished if you have a strategic partner who believes in the use of violence in the pursuit of political objectives. “We have seen China has its own way of influencing [international affairs] but we have yet to see the Chinese way of influencing Pakistan.” China has in recent years tried to act as a mediator in Afghanistan's peace process, hosting several secret meetings between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The latest was reportedly held in Beijing in July. But Beijing's close relationship with Islamabad has led to scepticism over the extent of China's engagement, and whether China would push Pakistan hard enough to achieve a major breakthrough. While the deadlock continues, Afghanistan has continued to draw support from the international community. The Afghan envoy said military equipment from countries including China, the US, Turkey and other Nato members as well as India and Russia had beefed up the defensive capabilities of Afghan forces. With better equipment, Afghan forces successfully resisted a major attack by the Taliban during the spring and summer in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, and also inflicted heavy losses on the Taliban, Saikal said. Despite the continuing violence, Saikal said Afghanistan had been working hard on efforts to rebuild the country, thanks to the support from the international community, including Beijing. In early September, the first-ever cargo train from China arrived in northern Afghanistan's Hairatan port, about 450km north of Kabul. Saikal said the cargo train – which now runs twice a month but could turn into a weekly passage for both cargo and tourists in the near future – would open up a new trade route between China and Afghanistan. “We feel that there is a potential for increasing the trade volume that is a lot higher than the existing half a billion [US] dollars,” Saikal said. “The bulk of [the existing bilateral trade] is Chinese imports to Afghanistan, and [the level of] our exports is very small. So we hope that we can bring a balance to our trade,” Saikal said. He added that the Chinese market could soon receive Afghan exports of marble, dried and fresh fruits, carpets and saffron – the world's most expensive spice. A large part of China's engagement in Afghanistan has seen it investing in tapping the country's mineral resources, which are estimated to have a value of about US$1 trillion. A Chinese government-backed mining company spent US$3 billion on a copper mine project in Mes Aynak, an ancient Buddhist city. But the lack of any comprehensive railway network to transport the metal out of the landlocked country has posed a huge challenge to developing the project further. When Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani first visited China in 2014, Beijing promised to support his nation's infrastructure plan by providing expertise and funds to help Afghanistan build roads and gas and water pipelines across the country. China has also provided funds for Afghanistan to build 10,000 residential units in Kabul to accommodate the massive flow of the nation's refugee returnees in recent years. “Around 60 to 65 per cent of the houses you see in Kabul are informal because we have seen such a massive return [of refugees],” Saikal said. “It's impossible for any government to provide housing for such a big number of people. “So this is why providing affordable housing for our people is important.” With an improved infrastructure network, Saikal said Afghanistan hoped to capitalise on its geographic location and abundance of natural resources to turn itself into a “trade and transit roundabout” connecting central Asia, South Asia, the Far East and the Middle East, and to play an active role in China's One Belt, One Road initiative. This refers to Beijing's development strategy to revive the land and maritime Silk Roads dating back to the days of Marco Polo. The ”belt” in the plan refers to a vast area in Eurasia, and “road” stands for the sea route that links China's coastal cities to Africa and the Mediterranean, passing key ports in Southeast Asia and the Suez Canal. However, the Afghan envoy also reiterated the importance of finally attaining stability in war-torn Afghanistan. “For the success of Chinese diplomacy in the region, and for the success of the One Belt, One Road initiative of China, we need a secure region,” Saikal said. ^ top ^

Pope Francis hails 'good' relations with China after getting gift from Xi Jinping (SCMP)
2016-10-03
Pope Francis says the Vatican's relations with Beijing are “good” and that he has just received a present from President Xi Jinping, a gesture observers saw as a sign the momentum of Beijing-Vatican ties is running high. The pope, speaking aboard the papal plane while flying home from Azerbaijan on Sunday, said Xi had just sent him the gift via a delegation that had attended a Vatican conference. Working groups were now “slowly” discussing relations, which were severed after the communist takeover in China, Pope Francis added. “They're talking slowly, but slow things are good. Things that move fast aren't good,” the pontiff said, adding: “The Chinese people have my highest esteem.” He also said the Vatican Museums had just held an exhibition in China and that Beijing was due to hold one in the Vatican. International relations analysts said the giving of a gift showed that relations between Beijing and the Vatican had reached a historic peak. “They have bridged the key disagreement over appointment of bishops. Building diplomatic ties is just a matter of time,” said Professor Edward I-hsin Chen at Taiwan's Tamkang University. In August, the head of Hong Kong's Catholic Church revealed that the Vatican and Beijing had reached an initial agreement on the appointment of Catholic bishops in mainland China in an effort to secure a breakthrough in bilateral ties. Cardinal John Tong Hon said Beijing was now willing to reach an understanding with the Vatican on the appointment of bishops on the mainland, to seek a mutually acceptable plan. Under the initial agreement, the pope would choose from a list of candidates recommended by a conference comprising bishops from the open and underground churches. Citing the “Vietnam model”, Tong said the practice of appointing bishops could be adjusted to what was feasible in the local situation. Under the model agreed by the Vatican and Hanoi in 2011, the nomination of bishops follows procedures approved by both the Vatican and the Vietnamese government. Deteriorating ties between Beijing and Taipei's new pro-independence government had helped fuel Beijing's effort to court the Vatican, the only European state with official diplomatic ties to Taipei, Chen said. “Beijing already used the Gambia as an example to show they won't worry about Taiwan's diplomacy under the new DPP government,” he said. Almost three years after the African country cut its ties with Taipei, Beijing built full diplomatic relations with the Gambia this March. Chen's remark was echoed by Jiang Shixue of the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “There was a diplomatic truce [between Beijing and Taipei] during Ma Ying-jeou's presidency, but cross-strait relations have been more uncertain since [President Tsai Ing-wen] was sworn in,” Jiang said. “[Xi's] sending the gift says a lot about the warming ties [with the Vatican].” The Vatican severed diplomatic ties with Beijing in 1951, two years after the communists came to power. Beijing oversees more than 12 million Catholics through the party-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Beijing-Vatican relations have been strained by conflicts over the appointment of Catholic bishops and the Vatican's diplomatic relations with Taiwan. With Pope Francis' support, Beijing and the Vatican restarted a political dialogue in June 2014. The pope also outlined his 2017 travel plans, saying he would visit Portugal next year and was “almost sure” he would go to India and Bangladesh. It was still undecided where in Africa he would visit and whether Colombia's peace accord was certain enough to enable a papal visit. The pope's travel schedule is complicated by the fact that next year is already full of appointments with visiting bishops, whose visits this year were put off due to the pope's Holy Year of Mercy, which ends in November. ^ top ^

Chinese defence adviser turns up heat on Singapore over South China Sea row (SCMP)
2016-10-02
Beijing should impose sanctions and retaliate against Singapore to make the city state “pay the price for seriously damaging China's interests”, an influential Chinese defence adviser told state radio. The remarks by Professor Jin Yinan came amid stern criticism by China over Singapore's reported insistence on including content that backed 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 early last month. But Jin, former director of the strategic research institute at the PLA's National Defence University, turned up the heat further late on Thursday, accusing Singapore of taking an active role in turning the South China Sea dispute into an international issue in recent years. He said Singapore had advised Washington on the matter and stirred up conflicts between the US and China, according to an interview with state-owned China National Radio. “It's inevitable for China to strike back at Singapore, and not just on the public opinion front,” Jin was quoted as saying. “Since Singapore has gone thus far, we have got to do something, be it retaliation or sanction. We must express our discontent.” Jin confirmed to the South China Morning Post he had talked to CNR on Thursday and criticised Singapore, but he refused to detail what measures China might take to punish the country. Jin has been China's representative at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security forum in Singapore, for the past two years. In his interview with the broadcaster, he put forward several examples that he said showed Singapore was involved in escalating the South China Sea issue to the international level, which had harmed China's national interests. He said Singaporean Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong devoted his entire one-hour speech at last year's Shangri-La Dialogue to the matter. “What's the full name of the Shangri-La Dialogue? Is it the Asia Security Summit? There are so many topics about Asian security, including unbalanced development, pollution, environment, climate, terrorism, racial problems... But all the problems were ignored and the focus was just on China's South China Sea disputes,” Jin was quoted as saying. “Who set up such a main topic? Jin said the Singaporean government, which jointly organised the forum with British think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies, had played the key role in sending the disputes to the top of the agenda. The PLA major general also criticised late Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, saying he had given advice to US President Barack Obama, that caused Washington to turn its “pivot to Asia” into “the rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific”. He said the senior Lee had lost Beijing's respect. “We understand [Singapore] has to survive among big countries,” Jin said. “But now Singapore is not seeking balance among big countries – it is playing big countries off against each other... this is playing with fire.” The Singaporean embassy in Beijing and the country's consulate in Hong Kong did not respond to requests for comment before publication time. In the interview, Jin highlighted the strategic value of Singapore's Changi Naval Base to the US military, saying it was the reason America called Singapore the US navy's “third anchor” in the Asia-Pacific region, after Japan and Australia. Jin also questioned whether Singapore was remaining neutral between China and the United States. By opening the base, Singapore was helping the US to establish a presence in an area crucial to China's oil imports. “Singapore claims it is a non-aligned country and its Changi Naval Base is an open port. But why don't you invite the Chinese navy to berth at it?” State media have in recent days joined in criticising Singapore's stance in South China Sea disputes after a war of words between Singapore's ambassador to China Stanley Loh and Hu Xijing, the editor-in-chief of Global Times, which reported on the NAM summit. Singapore said the request at the summit was raised by all Asean members. ^ top ^

Duterte to visit China in coming weeks, in sign alliances may be shifting in East Asia (SCMP)
2016-10-02
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte travels to China this month on a visit that could redraw alliances in East Asia after his incendiary comments about the United States and active courting of Washington's chief rivals. The friendly relationship between the Philippines and the United States has been one of the pillars of Washington's strategic military rebalance to Asia under US President Barack Obama. But the alliance has been under strain since Duterte came to power three months ago and chafed at US criticism of his bloody war on drugs, which has led to the killing of more than 3,100 alleged drug users and dealers by police and vigilantes. He has insulted Obama and then made it clear the Philippines would pursue a much more independent foreign policy than it has in the past. That has included the Philippines extending an olive branch to China, despite the two countries being locked for years in a bitter territorial dispute in the South China Sea. Duterte has also spoken of reaching out to Russia. “Ever since President Duterte took office, China and Philippines have been engaging in friendly interactions, which have yielded a series of positive results,” said Zhao Jianhua, the Chinese ambassador to Manila, at a Chinese National Day reception at the embassy this week. “The clouds are fading away. The sun is rising over the horizon, and will shine beautifully on the new chapter of bilateral relations,” Zhao said. Duterte plans to visit Beijing from October 19-21, and hold talks with both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Diplomatic and business sources in Manila have said he will be accompanied by about two dozen businessmen, which could lead to deals being forged that could underpin any improved bilateral ties. But key to a successful visit will be an understanding of how to approach the dispute over the South China Sea. Beijing has angrily rejected a decision by an international court in July that ruled China's claims to the waterway were invalid, after a case was brought by the Philippines. Duterte wants China to abide by the ruling and allow access to the Scarborough Shoal, a traditional fishing ground for Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese fishermen. But he has not insisted on the ruling being implemented and said he would like to negotiate on the row. “Duterte giving us face means we have to rethink our policy,” a source with ties to China's leadership and the military said. “We have to reciprocate his courtesy.” Getting Filipino fishermen access to the Scarborough Shoal would be a major win for Duterte and add to his already sky-high domestic popularity. According to a recent survey, he has a record high approval rating of 92 per cent even as he faces international opprobrium for the killings. “When Duterte visits China next month, his agenda will focus on trade, investments and fishery cooperation with China, including access to Scarborough,” a Philippines foreign ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Zha Daojiong, an international relations professor at Peking University, said a deal over renewed Philippines access to Scarborough Shoal could be expected at the visit. But he said it would be a verbal rather than written agreement to avoid formally acknowledging the international court's ruling, which upheld the historic fishing rights of both states. “There's many ways this meeting could be productive... even if there is likely to be some caution on both sides,” Zha said. Officially, Beijing has yet to confirm Duterte's visit, but the foreign ministry has said it welcomes a visit by him at an early date. The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the Communist Party's official People's Daily, said in an editorial last week it could lead to a new chapter in ties. “A new, positive interaction between China and the Philippines, starkly different from the Aquino era, may be unveiled,” it said, referring to the previous Philippines president, Benigno Aquino. “Duterte shows stark differences from his predecessor in diplomacy and style. He seems to prefer more balanced diplomatic relations with other countries rather than being too reliant on the US.” Duterte has this month struck at the heart of ties with the United States by saying the two countries would not hold any joint naval patrols during his six-year tenure and calling for the withdrawal of US special forces stationed in the restive south of the country. On Friday, he outraged Jewish groups by appearing to compare himself to Adolf Hitler, which could heap more pressure on Washington to publicly turn against him. Despite the uncertainty, U.S. officials have maintained that all remains well. “As it has been for decades, our alliance with the Philippines is ironclad,” Defence Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday, speaking to American sailors aboard the USS Carl Vinson at its home port in San Diego. But analysts think damage has already been done. “Officials in Washington must now be seriously worried about the trajectory of US-Philippine relations,” said Ian Storey, a South China Sea expert at Singapore's ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute. “Especially military-to-military issues such as joint exercises and US access to Philippine bases, and whether Duterte will try and cut a deal with Beijing over the South China Sea that will allow China to advance its maritime claims.” ^ top ^

China and Britain sign deal for giant Hinkley nuclear plant, defying wave of controversy (SCMP)
2016-09-30
The contract for a French-Chinese consortium to build Britain's first nuclear plant in a generation was signed on Thursday at a low-key ceremony, after a string of controversies threatened to scupper the huge deal. The British government had delayed agreement over concerns about China's involvement, while there were also questions about how the French state-owned power giant EDF would fund the construction of Hinkley Point. The contracts marked “a significant step forward for a new era of nuclear power in the UK”, Britain's business minister Greg Clark said in a statement after the signing, which was also attended by French and Chinese officials. Britain finally gave the go-ahead earlier this month for the £18 billion (HK$ 180 billion) complex, which is expected to provide 7 per cent of the country's power needs, but it set conditions for the deal. The government has said EDF cannot cede majority control of the project and wants more scrutiny over national security concerns for future projects. EDF's board gave its go-ahead on Tuesday for the project in Somerset, southwest England, which will not be operational until 2025. China has a one-third stake in the project and analysts had warned that Britain could have jeopardised relations with the world's second-largest economy if it scrapped the deal. Critics said it could give China the power to turn off the lights. Jean-Bernard Levy, chief executive of the French state-owned power company EDF, said this month that the move “relaunches nuclear power in Europe”. He said Thursday's ceremony marked a “milestone for those who have worked for so long” on the project. The British government has said the plant's construction will create 26,000 jobs and “a huge boost to the economy”. Following the signing ceremony French energy company Areva announced it had won subcontracts related to Hinkley Point worth more than €5 billion (HK$43.46 billion). Areva said the contracts included the delivery of the two nuclear steam supply systems, fuel supply, and safety at the plant, with work due to start in the early 2020s. One of Downing Street's prime concerns was over the security implications of allowing China to take such a large stake in a critical infrastructure project. Beijing's state-run China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN), the Chinese investor in Hinkley Point, was also set to take the lead in the Bradwell power station project in Essex in southeast England. Olivia Gippner, a fellow in EU-China relations at the London School of Economics, said the framework was aimed at China but “by introducing a general national security test rather than focusing only on Chinese investment, this is a very diplomatic solution”. Chinese state media earlier this month had also welcomed the approval, but accused Britain of suffering from “China-phobia”. “Let us hope that London quits its China-phobia and works with Beijing to ensure the project's smooth development,” the Xinhua news agency said in a signed commentary. CGN is set to finance £6 billion of the cost of the Hinkley Point plant, with EDF providing the remaining £12 billion. Critics have focused on an electricity price guarantee to be paid to EDF of £92.5 for every megawatt hour of power produced by Hinkley for the next 35 years, rising with inflation, despite falling energy prices. The project is strongly opposed by environmentalists. “The UK government is about to sign away billions of pounds of billpayers' money to a project bedevilled by legal, financial and technical hurdles,” said John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK. “Theresa May cannot build a 21st-century industrial strategy around an outdated, dodgy, and ludicrously expensive technology,” he said. ^ top ^

South Korea announces new site for US missile shield as ties with Beijing worsen over Chinese fishermen's deaths (SCMP)
2016-09-30
South Korea's announcement on Friday of the final site of a US-built antiballistic missile system drew firm opposition in Beijing and a vow to take “necessary measures” to counter the shield. Analysts said Beijing's opposition to the deployment was unlikely to waver. Adding to the tension, three Chinese fishermen were killed on Thursday after South Korean coastguards threw flares and stun grenades as they boarded their boat, Yonhap reported. South Korea's defence ministry said the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system, or THAAD, would be located at a golf course 18km north of the Seongju county centre by next year. The initial plan was to set up the system at the Seongsan anti-aircraft missile base in Seongju, 296km southeast of Seoul. But the move was met with strong protests by residents over potential health risks that the THAAD radar system posed. The new site sits 680 metres above sea level – about 300m higher than the initial base – and is also farther away from residential areas, which could allay health concerns, Yonhap reported. In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said THAAD's deployment on the Korean peninsula would not “resolve security issues... nor will it help realise denuclearisation and maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula”. “[The deployment] will hurt the strategic and security interests of the countries involved and undermine the strategic balance in the region,” he said. “China firmly opposes it and we will take necessary measures to maintain the strategic balance.” On Thursday, defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said China “means what it says” when it said it would consider countermeasures to THAAD. Seoul has insisted that the defence system is purely to protect itself from North Korea's missile threats, but Beijing sees it as a danger to its national interests, allowing a US-backed anti-missile system into the region. Song Zhongping, a retired instructor with the People's Liberation Army's former strategic missile force, said Seoul would not fall under THAAD's missile interceptor range. “The deployment of THAAD in Seongju suggests the US will set up one more new military base in South Korea. It will become America's new wedge strategy to counter China's rise,” Song said. Jilin University professor Wang Sheng said Yang's message was “clear that Beijing has been considering cultural, political and military sanctions in the past three months”. “Beijing has been waiting for Seoul to change its mind because of the close ties in the past but when expectations are high, the disappointment is higher,” Wang said. Lee Kyu-tae, a geopolitical expert from South Korea's Catholic Kwandong University, said it would not be wise for Beijing to launch large-scale retaliation against South Korea. “This would hardly change Seoul's policy over THAAD... It would... trigger a backlash from the South Korean public over their views about China,” Lee said. Li Kaisheng, from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said Beijing was unlikely to risk criticism over tough sanctions against Seoul while the international focus was on the region. “In the context of the fifth nuclear test by North Korea, the geopolitical focus is now shifting to the Korean peninsula,” Li said. “So it is unlikely China will take very tough action in response.” Meanwhile, three Chinese fishermen were killed on Thursday as the 102-tonne Chinese vessel “S” was sailing in South Korean waters about 70km southwest of Hong Island near the southwestern city of Mokpo at about 9.45am when coastguard officials ordered it to stop, Yonhap said. Fourteen coastguard officers boarded the boat to carry out an inspection, but the Chinese crew locked the steering house and engine room. The officers then threw three flares and sound bombs as they broke the windows of the steering house, Yonhap reported. Three of the fishermen were found lying unconscious inside the engine room at about noon when the officers broke into the room. Chinese consular officials have visited the coastguard office in Mokpo to demand a thorough investigation. Wang Sheng, professor of international politics at Jilin University, said the incident would further complicate relations between Beijing and Seoul at such a sensitive time. “Fishing disputes are a perennial problem between China and South Korea and it remains unknown if it was an intentional act to provoke trouble or just an accident,” Wang said. “But given present tensions between the two nations, such incidents should have been avoided to reduce negative impact.” ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Midnight bans and rehab centres on the cards for China's underage gamers (SCMP)
2016-10-07
Children in China could be banned from playing online games after midnight under draft national regulations designed to combat internet addiction. The rules, released by the Cyberspace Administration of China last week, also call on schools to work with “institutions” to help rehabilitate young internet addicts, raising concerns about the risks to children at “boot camp” treatment centres. If the regulations go into effect, web game developers would have to block minors from playing online games from midnight to 8am. Anybody under the age of 18 would also have to register for the games with their ID, and the information would be stored on the game operator's servers. The games should be designed to deter young people from becoming addicted and software developed to detect under-age users. The draft rules are open to public feedback until the end of the month. The regulations are the latest official effort to stop young people from spending too much time on online games. In 2007, the authorities issued a notice requiring all internet game operators to install systems to prevent addiction, such as deducting points from young players if they spend more than three hours on a game. Three years later, to stop teens from registering to play under fake adult IDs, the authorities ordered game companies to verify identity numbers with a database provided by the Ministry of Public Security. Su Jun, a Shanghai-based senior web game developer, said the proposed regulations could make a slight dent in gaming companies' revenue. “If the 'no gaming after midnight' rule comes into effect, it might affect the industry,” Su said. “There is usually a period after midnight when we see a large number of players, and some of them are teenagers.” According to the China Internet Network Information Centre, 23 per cent of China's internet users were aged below 19, as of June 2016, with the total number of mainland internet users reaching 750 million. Military-style “boot camps” promoting themselves as treatment centres for internet addiction have flourished in China. Some reportedly use extreme methods such as electric shocks and other physical punishment to wean clients off online games. Lawyer Wang Qiushi said he feared the regulations would lead to more of the boot camps. “This is a disaster for Chinese teenagers,” Wang said. “More such boot camps might emerge after the passage of this regulation. “It will encourage more people to get into the 'business'.” Yue Xiaodong, a City University of Hong Kong psychologist who has studied internet addiction in China, said the problem used to be a serious social issue but was waning. “Such regulations should have come out a long time ago,” Yue said. “Now the smartphone is replacing computers as the new cause of addiction. It will become a major social issue if we don't pay attention.” He said urban teenagers tended to spend a long time using social media and playing games with cellphones, and some of the restrictions in the regulations should apply to mobile gaming companies. ^ top ^

China's vote-buying scandal: are laws passed by fraudulently elected legislators still valid? (SCMP)
2016-10-07
The Chinese northeast province of Liaoning is facing an unprecedented legislative crisis in the aftermath of the dismissal of hundreds of lawmakers in a vote-buying scandal, sources say. The Communist Party's discipline watchdog in the province is also feeling the squeeze, having to draft in legions of personnel from other agencies to cope with the flood of corruption investigations. “At least two disciplinary staff from my department have been temporarily transferred to work for them,” a mid-level official in Shenyang said, adding that his office was one of many across the province supplying personnel to help with the probes. The turmoil follows a special meeting last month of the country's top legislature at which the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress decided to expel 45 national legislators from Liaoning elected in 2013. The committee also announced that 454 of Liaoning's 612 lawmakers at the provincial level were dismissed for buying their way into the local legislature. According to Xinhua, NPC Standing Committee chairman Zhang Dejiang told the meeting that the Liaoning electoral fraud “challenged the bottom line of the Chinese political system, and a zero-tolerance approach will be taken towards any offences in elections”. With two-thirds of the provincial lawmakers disqualified and the provincial body rendered inoperable without a standing committee quorum, sources said question marks had risen over the validity of laws and regulations enacted by the Liaoning legislature in the last few years. “Nobody knows how to deal with the laws and regulations enacted by the provincial legislature since early 2013,” a former Liaoning provincial lawmaker said late last month. “The National People's Congress is handling this hot potato for the time being.” The source said it was very likely that the central authorities would let the issue go as if it had never happened. “Handling the case strictly in accordance with the law is the last choice for the central authorities because it is too complicated and has never happened before”, he said. Peking University law professor Zhang Qianfan said if the lawmakers were unqualified from the start, the laws and regulations they enacted over the past 3½ years should also be revoked. But the professor also said that in a practical sense, it might not matter who sat in the legislature's seats. “Given that the people's congress is more or less a rubber stamp, the decisions over the years might have turned out to be the same, even if you had swapped the original hundreds of provincial legislators with another batch of lawmakers,” Zhang Qianfan said. “Some decisions may not be made by the legislators themselves. They are only required to give procedural approvals to what is tabled by the Communist Party or the government, which decides things in a real sense.” ^ top ^

Is Beijing's growing power threatened by foreign influence and conflict? Chinese people seem to think so (SCMP)
2016-10-06
Most Chinese people recognise China's growing prominence on the world stage but have also become more wary of “foreign influence” and potential military conflict from simmering territorial disputes, a survey has found. In the poll published on Wednesday by the US-based Pew Research Centre, three-quarters of mainland Chinese respondents said they believed China was now playing a more important role in the world than it was 10 years ago. Only 10 per cent thought otherwise. Over the past decade, China has surpassed Japan to become the world's second-largest economy. It has also become increasingly assertive in foreign affairs and is challenging the geopolitical balance of power in the region. But the country's growing economic might and rising aspirations has also caused some unease among its own people. “Such self-confidence about China's international stature coexists with some degree of anxiety and a general tendency to look inward more than outward,” the Pew report said. Though they expressed satisfaction with China's presence on the world stage, more than half of the Chinese respondents believed the country should focus on its own problems. Only 22 per cent believed China should help other nations. More than three-quarters thought their way of life needed to be protected from foreign influence – 13 percentage points up from 2002. About 80 per cent of those aged at least 50 believed the Chinese way of life had to be protected. Beijing has repeatedly warned its people against foreign influence – in particular the infiltration of “western anti-China forces” – in all aspects of society, ranging from religious communities, non-government organisations, rights activists and lawyers as well as university campuses. The survey found that in terms of global threats, Chinese people were most concerned about the US, surpassing their concerns about global economic instability, climate change and Islamic State. In the survey, 45 per cent of respondents saw US power and influence as a major threat to China, compared with 39 per cent in the same survey in 2013. About 52 per cent of them believed the United States was trying to stop China from becoming an equal with the US. Despite the perceived threat, half of the respondents still gave America a favourable rating, while 44 per cent rated it negatively Six in every 10 Chinese people polled expressed concern that territorial disputes between Beijing and neighbouring countries could lead to military conflict. China has been embroiled in a range of such disputes with its Asean neighbours in the South China Sea. Its long-running conflict with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, or Senkakus as they are known in Japanese, in the East China Sea has also affected bilateral ties. Beijing has responded to these disputes with increasing sabre-rattling as well as bigger and more frequent military drills near the contested regions. For instance, the air force sent an unusually large fleet of fighter jets and bombers through the Miyako Strait near Japan's Okinawa Island in the Western Pacific for exercises last month. The drill came after Japan's new defence minister vowed to step up military presence in the South China Sea in joint training patrols with the US. The Pew survey was conducted between April 6 and May 8 through face-to-face interviews with more than 3,100 Chinese citizens. ^ top ^

How hard is it for an ordinary Chinese citizen to get elected into the legislature? (SCMP)
2016-10-06
Like many others who sought to run as independents in China's county and district legislature elections this year, factory worker Liu Mingxue saw his candidacy rejected in the northwestern province of Gansu, even though he followed every procedure required by law. Liu was also taken away by police on June 20 – county election day – for questioning about his assistant, and not released until 12 hours later. Liu, 55, hoped to be elected so he could help more than 1,000 fellow workers at a local chemical factory lobby for better welfare, which the company's bosses, two of whom won seats in the election, had refused. His chief campaign assistant, Qu Mingxue, was arrested for sabotaging the election after he campaigned for Liu on social media. “We were never optimistic about getting elected,” Liu said. “Usually it's the designated candidates that win... but I was surprised they detained [Qu] on such a charge.” The National People's Congress, China's legislature, has come under closer scrutiny than ever before after 45 of its members, all from Liaoning province, were sacked last month after the worst vote-rigging scandal in the history of the People's Republic of China. Although seen by many as a rubber-stamp institution, the almost 3,000 seats in the NPC seats are still highly sought-after. The scandal broke at a delicate time, with China conducting elections for lawmakers at the county and district level in an electoral process that will ultimately decide who makes it to the NPC. While most NPC deputies implicated in the Liaoning scandal are from the business community, ordinary citizens trying to practise their constitutional rights find the system of rigid control impenetrable. Liu had hoped to become a lawmaker for Yongjing county. Mainlanders can only vote for lawmakers at county and district elections – with lawmakers at higher levels elected by the lawmakers one level down. Those living in rural villages can also elect their local government heads, while government heads at higher levels are elected by lawmakers at the same level. In many cases there is only one candidate for each position. NPC members stand for re-election every five years, with elections for lower-level lawmakers beginning around two years ahead of each NPC election. Despite the widespread criticism of the NPC, many aspiring independent candidates at the lowest level believe it remains the only viable way to push for changes without directly challenging the Communist Party's monopoly on power. “It's a very important path and almost the only path to build democracy,” said Xiong Wei, an independent scholar on China's legal system. “Oppression of potential candidates is to be expected... but there's still a lot that can be done within the current system.” Xiong, who tried to stand in a district election in Beijing five years ago, said lawmakers at the county and district level were entitled to file challenges, propose the dismissal of low-level government officials and approve their nominations. Hopes were high ahead of the county and district elections in 2011, when aspiring candidates including writers, scholars, university students and even petitioners tried to run. Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, had been launched two years earlier and potential candidates, some with millions of online followers, used it in their campaigns. However, no internet opinion leaders made it onto the final list of candidates. They were all screened out by election committees. Xiong, who spoke for more than 20,000 migrant workers, or more than 90 per cent of the eligible voters in his constituency, was one of those rejected. So was Qiao Mu, a communications professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, although his student campaigners continued to support him despite coming under pressure not to do so. Such results were expected by Yao Lifa, who was removed from the list of candidates for a district election in Qianjiang, Hubei province, in 1998 but still managed to win a seat after persuading 1,706 voters to write his name on the ballot. “Democratic elections are inconsistent with the current political system, where all cadres are decided by the party,” he said. “But I don't think the trend towards free elections is reversible in the long term.” Yao's restrained optimism was echoed by Xiong, who recalled occasional cases where independent candidates had won seats in county or district elections. “Even activists who led petitions in Henan could win. They are all people the government doesn't like,” said Xiong, who has decided to stand for election again this year. “A single spark can start a prairie fire.” One such winner in 2011 was Guo Huojia, a leading activist against illegal land grabs in Foshan, Guangdong province, who made it through the candidate screening and was elected a lawmaker in his district with close to 5,000 votes. The reality for most independents is not as encouraging, however. Liu's campaign assistant was released in late July, one month after the election, when the police dropped the charge against him. A disheartened Liu said he now lacked the energy to stand for election again. Many opinion leaders who ran active campaigns five years ago have remained largely silent during the new round of elections. Critical writers such as Li Chengpeng and Xia Shang, who relied heavily on their Weibo accounts to campaign, have had their accounts deleted in the interim. Liang Shuxin, a prominent charity volunteer who aimed to “speak for the less well-off”, did not make the candidate list five years ago, either. Even though he was a Communist Party member with mild political opinions, Liang was still seen as a troublemaker. Liang said all of his referees came under pressure from the authorities and many quit supporting him. “It's impossible for me to run this year,” Liang wrote on his verified social media account in June. “I have a family now and I'm not as passionate and fearless as I was.” ^ top ^

Local governments attempt to cool overheated property market (Xinhua)
2016-10-05
China's local governments are introducing new policies to rein in soaring housing prices by preventing property speculation. In the last week, a total of twelve cities including Beijing, Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Tianjin have restricted buyer qualifications, limited purchase amounts or raised down payments. Beijing on Friday raised the down payment for first-time buyers from 30 percent to 35 percent. The deposit for second home purchases must now be at least 50 percent. Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province, on Saturday decreed that the price of any property must remain unchanged for six months after registration. Rising property prices have been generating many headlines. Prices in megacities like Beijing and Tianjin have soared in the past two months, fuelling talk of a property bubble. The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development on Monday said that 45 property developers or agents were being investigated for stoking speculation through false advertisements, rumors and breaches of presale rules. Prices in 100 major Chinese cities rose 14.9 percent in the first nine months of 2016, with August and September seeing record month-on-month growth of more than 2 percent, according to the China Index Academy (CIA), a private property research institute. Shrinking profits in the real economy and expectations of yuan devaluation have led to capital flooding into the property market, the CIA pointed out. Local government policy focuses on balancing supply and demand to stabilize prices and market expectations, said Liu Hongyu of Tsinghua University. Liao Junping of Sun Yat-sen University suggested that the housing supply and related infrastructure should be increased in hot-spot cities, while Liu suggested that local governments disclose their land supply plans for the next few years and act accordingly. Shenzhen saw the biggest price rises this year and on Tuesday announced that 137 hectares of building land would be made available as soon as possible. However, the national picture is uneven. Outside of big cities, prices are at best flat and inventories high. Property market management should be specific to local market conditions, Liao said, with hot-spot cities focused on keeping prices stable and guarding against bubble risks while smaller cities and towns should reduce the number of unsold homes. While mortgages have grown fast in 2016, overall household debt is still low, therefore local solutions are better than broad monetary tightening, according to HSBC. ^ top ^

From slogans to stories, CPC strives to reach more people (Xinhua)
2016-10-04
Zhou Fuchen, 67, a Communist Party of China (CPC) member, was as surprised as anyone to see an advert for the CPC on TV. Debuting just days ahead of the CPC's 95 anniversary in June, the Party's first-ever public-service advert, "Who am I", featured CPC members from all walks of life. The one-minute clip begin with, "Who am I? What kind of person am I?" Then on screen is a teacher turning off the lights at the end of the day; a street worker cleaning the roads in the early hours; a surgeon falling asleep in the corridor after leaving the operating theater; and a police officer directing traffic while a thunderstorm rages around him. The video ends with, "I'm the Communist Party of China. I'm always by your side." "Telling fresh stories instead using dry slogans is a complete departure from the traditional Party publicity approach. Not to mention it is a TV advertisement," said Zhou, who had worked in the Party publicity department of a Beijing-based state-owned enterprise for over a decade before retiring in 2009. "As far as I am concerned, the actions of the ordinary Party members in the video speak louder than hundreds of words," Zhou added. After the ad was shared online, millions of people, not just Party members like Zhou, lauded the CPC's advert for reaching more Chinese people, especially the younger generation. "The ad reminded me of my chemistry teacher in high school, who has always been responsible and patient and wanted to help us be better people," said college student "lunuohuhu" on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. Foreign observers, too, appreciated the new video, saying it was well done and effective. "Telling China's story via videos is important," Jerrold Green, president and CEO of the Pacific Council on International Policy, told Xinhua. Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, agreed with Green. "The production quality is high and it presents a sympathetic, human face of the Party," Daly said in an interview with Xinhua. CHANGING FOCUS However, the success of this political promo did not surprise domestic Party watchers. Experts agreed that with a history spanning almost a century, it was high time for the CPC to figure out how to communicate with ordinary Chinese and the world -- to highlight what it really is and what it has done. "The Party should have its voice heard and, more importantly, understood and remembered by the audience," said Xin Ming, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. "Who am I" resonated with a great majority of the Chinese audience. "The CPC's publicity campaigns used to concentrate on the great leaders or famous people, while seldom touching upon the lives of ordinary people, this was an outdated approach," said Liu Dongchao, with the Chinese Academy of Governance. The video follows other creative approaches to promotion. At the beginning of 2014, a three-minute video titled "The Communist Party of China is with you along the way" explained the "Chinese Dream", a concept put forward by the central leadership, by relating it to the individual dreams of ordinary Chinese. UNORTHODOX TOOLS Targeting younger viewers, the CPC has also released a series of animated raps to promote itself and its policies. Some were translated into English to expand their reach internationally. In October last year, a English-language rap animation was released, which featured chirpy, colorful animated characters singing about the thirteenth Five Year Plan, or the "shisanwu." "The CPC has changed its approach to publicity to suit the age of social media and the interests of young generation, which should be applauded as progress," Liu said. However, not everyone is enamored with these "unorthodox pieces." The only foreigners who think about Chinese domestic political issues think about them seriously, and their views aren't swayed by cartoons, Daly said. Echoing Daly's view, Xin noted that it is always the content, not the form, that determines the effectiveness of promotion. "The Party should think about what kind of message is suitable for its audience, whether they are at home or around the globe," Xin said. ^ top ^

Popular website for Chinese intellectuals pulled offline (SCMP)
2016-10-03
A website popular with Chinese intellectuals became inaccessible on the weekend, with its operator saying yesterday he had no idea whether it would go back online. Consensus Net, or Gongshi Web, a digital platform founded in September 2009 to carry reports and analysis by both left- and right-wing scholars on topics including history, politics and economics, went offline on Saturday. A notice on the site said it was suspended for an upgrade. Zhou Zhixing, founder of Consensus Net and a well-connected publisher and political commentator, said the website had not been shut down by the authorities, but he was uncertain about its future. “It's hard to predict what will happen in the future but, up to this moment, there is no order to stop the operation of the website,” he said. Zhou said he had no idea when the website would reopen. The suspension of Consensus Net comes several months after a massive reshuffle of management at Beijing-based outspoken political magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu, which sparked concern about the stifling of liberal voices in mainland publications. In addition to the website, Consensus Media Group, of which Zhou is the CEO, publishes two magazines – Leaders and Financial Digest. Leaders stopped publication a couple of months ago. With its slogan of “Seeking consensus in the era of great change” and its stated core values of truthful reporting and insightful analysis, Consensus Media Group characterised itself as a media organisation that examined topics ranging from politics, the military, ideology and culture to economics. It aimed to “facilitate communications, achieve consensus and promote further harmonious development of modern Chinese society”. A Beijing-based academic who declined to be identified said intellectuals on the mainland were losing their space to make their opinions public as the authorities tightened their grip. ^ top ^

Premier calls for further reform (Xinhua)
2016-10-02
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday called for further reform to break institutional bottlenecks hindering economic development and social justice. Li made the remarks one day ahead of China's National Day on Oct. 1, when addressing a reception at the Great Hall of the People to mark Saturday's 67th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Chinese President Xi Jinping, together with other senior leaders including Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli, as well as some 1,200 people from home and abroad attended the reception. Li, on behalf of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, first extended greetings to all Chinese and expressed gratitude to foreign friends who had contributed to China's development. He said China has undergone significant changes over the past 67 years, particularly in the wake of the reform and opening up drive in the 1970s. In 2016, the country has managed to sustain moderate growth in overall demands while promoting supply-side structural reforms, and maintained economic stability while optimizing its economic structure, Li said. National development has been matched with improvement in people's well-being, the premier continued, citing the hosting of the G20 Hangzhou summit and China's medal rushes in the Rio Olympics and Paralympics as more reasons to be proud. Looking forward, he said economic development should be China's central mission. Efforts should be made to maintain medium- to high-speed economic growth while elevating its innovative capacities and developing medium and high-end sectors, Li said. Authorities should work to increase people's incomes, and boost social welfare, enhance environmental protection and food safety, to boost the Chinese public's senses of accomplishment, satisfaction and security, and lift more people from poverty. They must also comprehensively promote the rule of law, and create a level playing field to allow for equal competition among all market entities, and provide equal and accessible public services for all, Li said. "We must further open up, promote the Belt and Road initiative and facilitate international production capacity cooperation," the premier said. Li went on to say that the Chinese government will remain faithful to the "one country, two systems" policy in Hong Kong and Macao affairs, and allow the two special administrative regions to play their roles in China's modernization. Regarding ties across the Taiwan Strait, Li said the Chinese mainland will continue to uphold the one-China principle, adhere to the 1992 Consensus, and oppose all forms of "Taiwan independence," to protect and promote peaceful development of cross-Strait ties, he said. "We will follow an independent foreign policy of peace, firmly protect our national core interests, and join forces with all other countries to forge a community of common destiny and interests," Li added, calling for stepped-up efforts to turn the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation into reality. ^ top ^

China marks Martyrs' Day, end of Long March at Tiananmen Square (Xinhua)
2016-09-30
Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior leaders attended a ceremony Friday at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing to honor and remember deceased national heroes on the Martyrs' Day. This year is also the 80th anniversary of the victory of the Long March, a famous military maneuver carried out by the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army of the Communist Party of China from 1934 to 1936. Veterans, family members of martyrs and representatives of all walks of life gathered at the Monument to the People's Heroes at the Tiananmen Square to mark the country's third Martyrs' Day on the eve of the National Day. The leaders and other participants in the event will present flowers to the people's heroes. Martyrs, as defined by the government, are "people who sacrificed their lives for national independence and prosperity, as well as the welfare of the people in modern times, or after First Opium War (1840-1842)." It is estimated that China has about 20 million martyrs. China's legislature approved Sept. 30 as the Martyrs' Day in 2014, to commemorate those who lost their lives fighting for national causes. ^ top ^

China's President Xi Jinping faces his biggest political test (SCMP)
2016-09-30
After taking less than four years to consolidate his image as China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong and emerging as a world leader as host of the recent G20 summit in Hangzhou, President Xi Jinping might be more confident about pursuing his ambitious national rejuvenation programme as he officiates at National Day celebrations marking the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic. But Xi still faces the most crucial test of his political career at a Communist Party Central Committee plenum in late October that will decide the agenda for next year's 19th party congress, at which Xi, also the party's general secretary, is expected to clearly define his political ambitions and the road map to the power succession at the party's 20th congress five years later, in 2022. Xi also faces an uphill battle to reinvigorate the world's second-biggest economy, which is in the grip of a persistent slowdown, and avoid what economists call the “middle income trap” – a failure to catch up with the per capita wealth of the world's richest countries. In July, the party's decision-making Politburo announced that the sixth plenum would focus on party building, with an agenda centred on the internal political conduct of leading party institutions and cadres, especially members of the Central Committee, its Politburo and the innermost Politburo Standing Committee. But analysts said Xi would also use the party conclave to kick-start his preparations for a revamp of the leadership at the 19th party congress next year, when a large number of top officials are expected to retire. After 67 years in power, China's Communist Party is striving to outdo the former Soviet Union's 74 years of communist rule. But before it does so it will face another accession battle, a process that since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 has often descended into a bloody and merciless internal power struggle. In the past four years, Xi has used anti-graft and moral rectification campaigns to arrest declining confidence in the government and trust in the party and to consolidate his personal power base. Analysts expect Xi to adjust his priorities at the plenary session as the 19th party congress will see five of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee – all except Xi and Premier Li Keqiang – step down after reaching the compulsory retirement age of 68. Another six members of the 25-member Politburo will also step down for the same reason. That will leave the remaining 12 Politburo members, excluding Xi and Li, to compete for five vacancies on the Politburo Standing Committee, and about 250 Central Committee members to contest 11 Politburo seats, assuming the number of members in both bodies is not changed. Steve Tsang, from the school of contemporary Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham in Britain, said Xi would use the 19th party congress to clearly define the direction of changes during his rule, with this month's plenum paving the way for that agenda. “Xi will also use the conclave to put in place as clearly as possible what the succession will look like at the 20th [party] congress, including whether he can put himself in the position of calling the shots after 2022,” Tsang said. Analysts said that while Xi's formal titles gave him the image of China's most powerful leader since Mao, it was questionable whether he had amassed sufficient effective power to dictate the succession arrangements and policy direction to be agreed at the 19th party congress, in contrast to late party patriarch Deng Xiaoping, who lacked the titles but was able to get his way on such matters. Zhang Lifan, a party historian formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Xi, 64, faced an undercurrent of strong resistance within the leadership and the party establishment after gaining little respect from factions across the political spectrum. “He faces strong resistance within the establishment due to all his controversial policies and so many people are just waiting for him to make a mistake,” Zhang said. Highlighting Xi's controversial policies and his leftist political stance, Renmin University political scientist Zhang Ming said: “China's political future has never been as uncertain as it is today as there is such a great mess within the party leadership.” Tsang said that whether Xi would be able to rid the top echelon of his critics by the 19th congress remained to be seen. In the past few years, Xi has made progress in the promotion of China's global status and his own image as a world leader. Hosting the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations in Hangzhou in early September gave him a unique opportunity to project his personal image on the world stage and boost China's status as a world leader. Xi has also received international acclaim for diplomatic initiatives such as his One Belt, One Road development strategy and the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. His formal ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change on the eve of the G20 summit, alongside US counterpart Barack Obama, has also been hailed. China has committed to cutting carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product by between 60 per cent and 65 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030. But his “neighbourhood diplomacy” has suffered serious setbacks, with Beijing's relations with the major regional players – Japan, South Korea, India and Australia – and most of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations deteriorating in the past year. A landmark ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on July 12 that denied China's claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea – a “core national interest” according to Beijing – was the biggest diplomatic failure in more than six decades of communist rule and one whose effects will be felt for years to come. The court ruled unanimously in favour of the Philippines, against Chinese claims to huge swathes of the strategically important waterway. Such tensions suggest widespread suspicion and distrust among neighbouring countries over China's rise and a reluctance to accept a Chinese leadership role. Xi sees maintaining the party's hold on power as his chief accomplishment, with his “Chinese dream” of national rejuvenation at the top of his political agenda. That involves the “two centenary goals” of building a moderately prosperous society by the time the party celebrates its 100th birthday in 2021, and creating a prosperous and advanced economy by the time the People's Republic turns 100 in 2049. But Xi faces serious challenges in achieving smooth economic and social transitions. After decades of phenomenal, double-digit growth, the Chinese economy has slowed significantly and persistently in recent years, with all the headline data indicating that what was once the world's fastest-growing major economy has lost momentum. All the major indicators of economic activity have weakened in the past two years. Among the challenges have been a bearish stock market following last year's near-panic-driven declines, falling exports due to weak external demand, continuous downward pressure on the currency and outflows of foreign exchange reserves and, worst of all, high and rising levels of debt. If Xi cannot reverse the stubborn slowdown in economic growth, more doubts will surface about his ability to realise the first centenary goal and make progress towards the second. The government also faces a test of its political will to reform the country's state-owned enterprises (SOEs), something central to any hope of transition from a state-dominated command economy to one mainly driven by market forces. That will also decide whether it can avoid what economists call the “middle income trap” – a term first coined by the World Bank 10 years ago to describe the failure of many East Asian and Latin American economies to make further progress. Xi's ability to steer the economy clear of such a trap will determine whether he can achieve his dream of “national rejuvenation”. Economists say there has been no major market reform breakthrough in the past three years, even though the party launched an ambitious programme at a plenum in late 2013. In the past two years, the government has actually consolidated SOEs' positions in the economy through mergers, expanding their size and market share in some industries, rather than meeting market expectations of further privatisation. There has also been only slow progress in the most difficult areas of financial and monetary reform: capital account openness and the marketisation of the exchange rate and interest rates. Analysts agree that China will only be able to realise its dream of modernisation when the leadership can overcome obstacles to market-oriented reform of state capitalism and the political restructuring of its system of one-party rule. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Second-class citizens: Beijing offers residency certificate to migrants, but equality is still far away (SCMP)
2016-10-03
Beijing officially instituted a residency system last weekend for the city's huge number of migrants, giving them the right to public services and social benefits – at least in theory. Observers hailed the system as a step towards the elimination of household registration, so that all city residents had equal rights, but said it would take a very long time to achieve that goal. Over the weekend, migrant workers and temporary residents lined up at 346 police stations across the capital to apply for the new residency certificate, but many of them were turned back after failing to meet the complicated requirements. For instance, only about one third of applicants had their applications accepted at a police station in Xicheng district on Saturday morning, Beijing Youth Daily reported. Many of the migrants were rejected because their temporary residential permits – their certificates under the old residency system – had expired. A woman who has lived in Beijing for more than 20 years had been renewing her temporary residential permits every year, but it became expired late last month. She was told to apply for a residence registration card at her neighbourhood committee office and would have to wait for six months before she became eligible to apply for the new residence certificate, the report said. The new certificate requires applicants to provide proof – in the form of a valid temporary residential permit or residence registration card – that they have been living in the city for more than six months. To speed up the application process, an online registration platform would be set up within two months, allowing applicants to file forms online before going to the stations to complete the rest of the procedure, police authorities said. Beijing's move is part of a bid to align itself with a new national regulation that takes effect on January 1. There are about eight million migrants living, working or studying in the capital, alongside nearly 14 million people with Beijing citizenship. The new system offers a residency certificate to the migrants, allowing them to enjoy basic public services and conveniences and to be considered for becoming a Beijing citizen under the city's point system. However, the requirements for becoming a citizen under the point system are still very demanding. And the gap between Beijing citizens and holders of the residency certificate remains wide. All residents will be able to access public hospitals, but not everyone has public medical insurance to cover their medical costs Medical insurance in the city is open only to Beijing residents and people who work in Beijing. Citizens, for example, can also be admitted to a public primary school in the vicinity of their residence; Beijing residents still need as many as 30 certificates to prove they are eligible. “The residency system is a middle ground before a complete scrapping of the household registration system,” said Zhu Lijia, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance. “But in reality, local governments vary in financial capabilities and their policies are different. Some are better than others.” Achieving the right balance is also difficult. The capital wants to cap its total population at 23 million by 2020, mainly by targeting those who are not urban elites. Factories and wholesale markets are being moved out. “The residency system is the start of a household registration reform and people should apply for it because of the social benefits, such as applying for government-subsidised housing,” said Lu Jiehua, a professor of sociology at Peking University. But Lu warned that the system was as much about gathering information on migrants as it was about providing public services to them. “The residency permit, which is acquired from the public security authority, should not be used as a means to control the population,” he said. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Countering Dalai Lama influence is China's top ethnic priority in Tibet (SCMP)
2016-09-30
China will make countering the Dalai Lama's influence the “highest priority” in its work on ethnic affairs in Tibet, the region's Communist Party boss says while vowing to uproot the monk's “separatist and subversive” activities. Beijing has said its Communist troops peacefully liberated Tibet in 1950 and regards the 80-year-old, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Buddhist monk as a separatist. The self-exiled Dalai Lama says he merely seeks genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland. China's Foreign Ministry expressed anger and threatened countermeasures in September after the Tibetan spiritual leader spoke at the European Parliament in France. “First, we must deepen the struggle against the Dalai Lama clique, make it the highest priority in carrying out our ethnic affairs, and the long-term mission of strengthening ethnic unity,” Tibet party secretary Wu Yingjie said in a speech published on Friday in the official Tibet Daily. “[We must] thoroughly expose the reactionary nature of the 14th Dalai Lama, crack down on separatist and subversive activities, and strive to eliminate at their roots harmful elements that damage ethnic unity,” Wu said. Public veneration of the Dalai Lama, who fled China in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, is prohibited in Tibet, although in private, many Tibetans revere the monk and display his picture. Identifying the effort to crack down on his influence the top task in the region's ethnic affairs suggests Wu will ratchet up the government's already hardline approach in the devoutly Buddhist region, which is prone to anti-Chinese unrest. Wu was appointed Tibet's top official in late August, and has vowed stronger criticism of the Dalai Lama. The government rejects criticism from rights groups and exiles who accuse it of trampling on the religious and cultural rights of the Tibetan people, saying instead that its rule has brought prosperity to a once-backward region. Nonetheless, China faces no shortage of problems in the region, including those stemming from poverty, language barriers, and development that has at times clashed with a traditional herding lifestyle. Tibetans, one of China's 56 officially recognised minority groups, are guaranteed legal protection for their languages and cultures. But they are often marginalised and treated with suspicion by Beijing, which views them as potential separatists. Officials see ethnic affairs work, such as improving Putonghua proficiency among minorities, as key to ensuring national cohesion and creating economic opportunity. There has been resistance to greater Putonghua education in schools in Tibet, with people fearing the government wants to culturally assimilate them. The government denies that. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Push China to ensure rights of Hongkongers are protected, US officials urged (SCMP)
2016-10-07
The US congressional commission on China has urged its administration officials to press the Chinese government on safeguarding the rights and freedoms of Hongkongers as the city faces a renewed threat of interference from the mainland authorities. In its latest annual report on human rights and rule of law conditions in China, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China has particularly highlighted the worrying case of the five missing booksellers, who were allegedly abducted by mainland agents last year for publishing and selling books critical of the Chinese Communist Party. “The growing influence of the Chinese central government and Communist Party and suspected activity by Chinese authorities in Hong Kong – notably the disappearance, alleged abduction, and detention in mainland China of five Hong Kong booksellers – raised fears regarding Hong Kong's autonomy within China as guaranteed under the 'one country, two systems' policy enshrined in the Basic Law, which prohibits mainland Chinese authorities from interfering in Hong Kong's internal affairs,” the reportread. The Hong Kong government issued a press release in response to the report late Friday night advising foreign legislatures not to interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong. “Since the return to the Motherland, the HKSAR has been exercising a high degree of autonomy and 'Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong' in accordance with the Basic Law,” the statement added. “This demonstrates the successful implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle, which is widely recognised by the international communities.” The US Congress and administration were also asked by the commission to raise the booksellers' case in meetings with Hong Kong and Chinese officials, particularly regarding the legal status, conditions and whereabouts of Gui Minhai, the only bookseller who has yet to be freed. They should also urge Beijing and Hong Kong authorities to restart the electoral reform process in order to allow voters to return their city's leader and lawmakers via general universal suffrage. The commission also mentioned the government's move to require all Legislative Council aspirants to sign a pledge affirming Hong Kong is “an inalienable part of China”, a move regarded by many as political vetting. The city's administration eventually disqualified six pro-independent contenders from the race. The report said Hong Kong had witnessed a decline in press freedom, due to government restrictions, violence against journalists and pressure on reporters and editors from media ownership. The US Congress, it stated, should consider ways to “express the important connection between maintaining a free press, a vibrant civil society, an independent judiciary, and transparent governance in Hong Kong and the mutual interests shared by the US and China in maintaining Hong Kong as a centre of business and finance in Asia”. ^ top ^

Interpretation on Hong Kong independence is unnecessary: former justice minister Elsie Leung says (SCMP)
2016-10-07
With localists bent on a radical agenda among Hong Kong's newly elected lawmakers due to be sworn in next week, a former justice minister has ruled out the need for Beijing to step in and reinterpret the Basic Law, as the city has enough legal firepower under its mini-constitution to take on calls for independence. Elsie Leung Oi-sie, currently vice-chairwoman of the Basic Law Committee under the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said it would be better to handle the issue locally than take the politically sensitive and problematic route. “We have not seen any behaviour by the newly elected lawmakers or members of the public that renders interpretation of any Basic Law provision necessary,” Leung said in the first Legco Review show on RTHK hosted by former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. She added: “I hope these matters can be resolved locally.” Seven localists demanding self-determination for the city's future were elected as lawmakers last month, with the high number of votes they secured underscoring a new wave of political thinking among the city's youth. One of them, Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang of Youngspiration, has already vowed to add the term “Hong Kong independence” in future legislative bills to broaden the scope of public discussion. Elsie Leung's remarks are seen as a reflection that Beijing is not considering reinterpretation as a course of action. “Leung is authoritative and well-trusted by Beijing,” Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said. “However, the pressure is mounting on the next chief executive to enact national security legislation under Basic Law Article 23, especially as Macau has already done so.” The government previously introduced anti-subversion legislation in 2002, but was eventually forced to shelve the plan after 500,000 people took to the streets in protest in 2003. This ultimately led to the resignation of former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. Localists promoting self-determination believe Hongkongers should have a say on the post-2047 political system upon the expiry of the 50-year promise to keep Hong Kong's autonomy unchanged under the “one country, two systems” policy guaranteed by the Basic Law. Leung said whether two systems would remain “is not the key question” as long as China continued to be the sovereign state. When Tsang challenged her projection, pointing out that Hongkongers were concerned about being forced to embrace China's socialist system, Leung said it would depend on what happened in the coming 30 years. “I agree with [the call for] more powers and democracy, but not for independence or self-determination,” she said. Pro-independence calls rose to prominence after a failed bid to implement universal suffrage in 2014. Leung called for discussion between different camps in the legislature before the government could roll out a new plan acceptable to most lawmakers. As for the next chief executive to be chosen in March, she said it “would not be an easy job”, because apart from commitment to Beijing and Hong Kong, the right candidate would also need to be “passionate” and “do everything based on social well-being”. Declining to elaborate on Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's performance, she said: “Let's not criticise C.Y. He is [doing] his job now.” She said “many people” would be capable of achieving social unity. ^ top ^

Thailand's warning to Joshua Wong: video speech will be cut off if you criticise Beijing or reveal details of detention (SCMP)
2016-10-07
Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung was barred from talking about his 12-hour detention at the airport in Bangkok, inciting the Thai people or even criticising Beijing during a video conference with a Thai university on Thursday evening. The student leader, who had been invited by a top Bangkok university to speak at a political forum, was deported from Thailand on Wednesday after being told he was on a blacklist. He ended up giving his speech via a 30-minute video call starting at about 7.30pm in Thailand. In a front-page article on the Bangkok Post website, Wong was said to have been told by Thai officials that he could not share details of his detention or make negative comments about Beijing, or the video connection would be cut. The article said Wong in the end “agreed” to talk only about his personal life and what political changes Hong Kong went through after the handover, as well as the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement in 2014, in which he played an integral part. The forum, titled “October 6: Chula looks to the future”, was part of Chulalongkorn University's commemoration of a deadly massacre of student protesters 40 years ago. Thai immigration officials stopped Wong on arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport late Tuesday evening before detaining him in a holding cell and putting him back on a flight to Hong Kong 12 hours later. Prime Minister and junta leader Prayuth Chan-o-cha later confirmed Chan's deportation was at the Chinese government's request. On a radio programme on Thursday, Wong demanded Hong Kong officials respond to the “blacklisting” of Hong Kong residents by foreign governments. The Demosisto secretary-general said that while a country had every right to deny entry to anyone it wished, to do so on the grounds of a foreign blacklisting was “incomprehensible”. ^ top ^

Former Hong Kong leader calls for unprecedented meeting with 200 local advisers to Beijing over chief executive race (SCMP)
2016-10-05
With less than six months to go before Hong Kong chooses a new leader, former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa on Tuesday reflected the high stakes involved by taking the unprecedented step of inviting about 200 local delegates to China's top political advisory body to discuss plans for the coming election. The move was widely seen as a sign that Beijing is not leaving anything to chance, even among its staunchest loyalists, given how close the race may be in March. The gathering was held at Beijing's liaison office in Western district amid continuing signs of disunity in the pro-establishment camp and the pan-democrats' vow to secure a bigger say by winning up to 300 seats on the 1,200-strong Election Committee, which will pick the city's next leader. No clear signal about the leadership race emerged from the meeting, although a source who attended said the delegates were told Beijing would like them to “play an active role in Hong Kong affairs, and take into account the city's big picture”. On Monday, former finance minister Antony Leung Kam-chung said Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, widely tipped to be a possible challenger to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying if he seeks re-election, could “unite Hong Kong”. Professor Lau Siu-kai, a local delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told the Post it was the first time for Tung, a CPPCC vice-chairman, to invite all Hong Kong delegates for a meeting to discuss plans for the leadership race. Tung, now an elder statesman, is regarded as a key supporter of Leung Chun-ying, having appointed him as convenor of his cabinet, the Executive Council, in 1999, and backed him for the top job during the 2012 race. CPPCC standing committee member Chan Wing-kee said the hour-long meeting only dealt with the selection process among about 200 delegates to pick their 51 representatives on the Election Committee. The four-sector committee comprises the city's business elite, professionals, unionists and politicians. The poll for its members is scheduled for December 11. “We agreed that our 51 representatives will be decided by internal consultation... and priority will be given to the more senior delegates and standing committee members,” Chan said. That means the 51 shortlisted candidates will be returned uncontested as committee members. Leung was a member of the CPPCC standing committee before his election as chief executive in March 2012. He was narrowly returned as one of the 55 CPPCC representatives on the committee in December 2011. Only six of Leung's colleagues on the CPPCC nominated him for the chief executive race, compared with 35 who endorsed his rival Henry Tang Ying-yen. It was understood that some of them did not vote for Leung in the poll. Some delegates sought to play down the significance of Tung's role, claiming they had received an invitation from the liaison office, or that Tung had chaired similar meetings in the past. But Chinese University political scientist Dr Ma Ngok and a second source familiar with Beijing's preparations for the Election Committee polls said it reflected Beijing's anxiety about losing control. “The pro-establishment camp has been disunited, and Beijing could be worried about its less preferred delegates winning [on December 11],” Ma said. ^ top ^

DAB urges Hong Kong government to mend ties before first Legislative Council meeting (SCMP)
2016-10-05
The city's largest Beijing-friendly party has urged the Hong Kong government to mend ties with the legislature ahead of the first Legislative Council meeting next week. The call came as the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong met Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to provide suggestions for the 2017 policy address and budget. “The public hopes relations between the government and the legislature can improve in the new Legco term,” party chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king said. Former Hong Kong leader calls for unprecedented meeting with 200 local advisers to Beijing over chief executive race( “In order to achieve this, we believe the administration needs to lead the way by increasing communications [with various parties] and build a platform for Hong Kong society to communicate with the central government.” Lee said she hoped the Chief Executive would help set up opportunities for legislators of the new term to visit the mainland and meet with Beijing officials. ' By the end of the last Legco term, three bills – the medical registration amendment bill, the fire services bill and the private columbaria bill – had lapsed due to filibustering over a proposal to reform the Medical Council. The DAB requested all three bills be tabled again in the legislature as soon as possible, after the new Legco term begins. The party also called for a controversial clause in the city's official pension scheme to be resolved. Last Thursday, Leung promised to tackle the offsetting mechanism in the Mandatory Provident Fund within the remaining months of his current term after meeting with the Federation of Trade Unions. The mechanism allows employers to settle severance and long service payments using employees' MPF savings. Lee said while they did not discuss in detail how the problem would be resolved, she said the government was committed to dealing with it. Among the 58 proposals the party put forward to the administration, the DAB also called on the government to increase land supply and public housing in the city. The DAB requested the government to set up a new platform to find ways to increase land supply in the city. “While the current term of government doesn't have a lot of time left, we believe the government can start implementing some of our suggestions if they are willing to do so,” Lee said. ^ top ^

Hong Kong's dilemma: as population ages, our politics becomes more infantile (SCMP)
2016-10-03
Here are some interesting and disturbing facts about Hong Kong. Our economy and society are ageing, but our city's politics is getting younger. We are giving “the generation gap” a whole new meaning, with all the societal and political problems that come with it. According to a projection by the Census and Statistics Department, more than 30 per cent of our population – or one in three people – will be aged 65 or older by 2041. In 2003, only 12 per cent were older than 65. This is a scary thought, because it implies other negative trends that are extremely difficult to reverse. Among these are a shrinking labour force, and declining economic growth and productivity. Many developed economies are facing similar problems. Chief among them is Japan, a country where adult diapers outsell the baby varieties. Hong Kong has been luckier than many such economies, which have been experiencing a productivity slump since the start of this century. Hong Kong's productivity has not only been maintained since the 1997 return to Chinese sovereignty, but actually picked up slightly for a few years. That's testimony to our resilience and diligence, despite unfavourable wage and working conditions and an inadequate social safety net. But however tough our workforce, it cannot reverse – at most it can slow down – the adverse population and economic trends working against us. There are possible ways to address such declines. Among these are immigration from the mainland and further economic integration with it. While more immigrants may come from overseas, the majority must necessarily come from the mainland. And while we may diversify our economy, trade and business with the mainland must remain dominant. Geography alone dictates these invariants. Yet, all these have been rejected – unrealistically – by a vocal minority. Such resentments and rejection have been the driving force behind our increasingly youthful and immoderate politics. The average age of our new legislature has, for the first time, dropped below 50. Student activism has reached all our universities. Even local schools, hitherto apolitical, have been radicalised. Of the more than 500 secondary schools in the city, about 10 per cent now have a localist chapter advocating varying degrees of autonomy or independence. Unless our politics matures, literally to age with experience, we will face irreversible decline. ^ top ^

How Hong Kong's Legislative Council chooses its leader (SCMP)
2016-10-03
Election of the Legislative Council president Article 71 of the Basic Law stipulates that the Legco president is elected by and from among members. The coming election will be held at the first council meeting of the term on October 12, and candidates will attend a special forum beforehand to address questions from other members. The member present who has the longest continuous service in the council and is not nominated for the office will preside at the election. This means pan-democrat Leung Yiu-chung, of the Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre, will chair the meeting as the member who tops the list, Democratic Party's James To Kun-sun, is representing the democratic caucus in the race. Members will pick the winner via secret ballots, and the president elected should hold office until the council dissolves at the end of the four-year term or when it is dissolved under the Basic Law. Duties of the Legco president Article 72 of the Basic Law spells out the various duties of the president, which include: Preside over all council meetings; Decide on the agenda and the time of the meetings; Call special sessions during the recess and emergency sessions on the request of the chief executive; Exercises other powers and functions as prescribed in the Legco rules of procedure. Former Legco presidents and their term of office Prior to the handover: Sir John Joseph Swaine, an appointed member, non-partisan (1993–1995) Andrew Wong Wang-fat, a directly elected member, non-partisan (1995–1997) After the handover: Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a directly elected member, Beijing-friendly independent (1998–2008) Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, a directly elected member, from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress (2008–2016) ^ top ^

National Day: Hong Kong leader says city must 'safeguard' beneficial 'one country, two systems' arrangement (SCMP)
2016-10-02
Hong Kong officials celebrated National Day on Saturday with a call for residents to uphold “one country, two systems”, as local youths challenged the city's political status quo. Delivering his final October 1 speech in his current term, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying described the guiding political principle as the “most beneficial and most practical arrangement” for Hongkongers. “It is necessary for everyone in the community to safeguard 'one country, two systems',” Leung said. Amid the rise of localism as shown in the Legislative Council election results last month, Leung said the kinship between Hong Kong and the mainland was deep, adding that 21,000 marriages registered in Hong Kong in 2013 involved a mainland spouse – making 38 per cent of the city's marriages that year. “The [Hong Kong] government has always encouraged young people to learn more about the country,” Leung added. Young people took to the stage to perform at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, where the reception was held. But outside, all eight universities saw impromptu displays of banners printed with “Hong Kong Independence”, defying authorities with demands for the city to split from the mainland. The banners hung outside major university buildings were later removed. The Hong Kong National Party, a pro-independence group led by youngsters, admitted it gave the banners to students, but insisted the students took the initiative to put them up. Professor Lau Siu-kai of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a mainland think tank, said: “I believe the central government will be unhappy about [displaying these banners on National Day].” The pro-independence movement in the city, Lau added, was mainly limited to young people. Last month, seven lawmakers proposing self-determination were elected to the Legislative Council. Another issue that stole the limelight of the event celebrating the birth of the People's Republic 67 years ago was the election of the chief executive next year. When he left the venue, Leung refused to say whether he was planning to seek re-election. This came just days after he sent a legal letter to the Apple Daily newspaper, accusing it of defaming him with “malicious” intent to stop him from exercising his legal right to seek re-election. Two of his potential rivals, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, were seen chatting with and toasting guests at the reception. Early showers in the city added inconvenience to officials attending an outdoor flag-raising ceremony. The head of Beijing's liaison office, Zhang Xiaoming, put down his umbrella as the national anthem started, prompting others, including Leung's wife, to do the same despite the downpour. A spectator at the event, Yu Hong, 57, from Beijing, said the ceremony reflected the bond between China and Hong Kong. “I love Hong Kong. [This ceremony] shows how friendly we are with Hong Kong,” he said. The weather later turned fine, allowing the celebratory fireworks display to proceed over Victoria Harbour in the evening. In a commentary dedicated to National Day, state-run agency Xinhua put the bridge from Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai on a par with the G20 summit in Hangzhou, space laboratory Tiangong-2 and the national high-speed rail network as four “earth-shattering” events since the start of the year. It described the bridge – the Hong Kong part of which is facing construction delays – as a new record for the country in extending its reach like never before. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Beijing 'unshakeable' on 'one China' principle as Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen refuses to bow to pressure (SCMP)
2016-10-06
The mainland is determined to safeguard national sovereignty and the “one China” principle, a Beijing official has claimed after Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday that the island would not bow to pressure from the mainland. An Fengshan, a spokesman for the mainland Taiwan Affairs Office – responding to Tsai's comments in an interview with The Wall Street Journal – said that the “1992 consensus” is unshakable. “Our position is steadfast on opposing any 'Taiwan independence' activities,” An said. “No forces nor anybody should underestimate the resolution of more than 1.3 billion people on the mainland,” An said. Relations between mainland and Taiwan have deteriorated since Tsai, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party become the island's president. She has refused to acknowledge the “1992 consensus” – a tacit understanding reached between the Chinese Communist Party and Taiwan's then-ruling Kuomintang leadership that there was one China, although either side was free to interpret what that meant. Beijing has given a furious response to Tsai, cutting down cross-strait exchanges and snubbing Taiwan's international presence. Taiwan was denied official participation in a meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organisation – a decision believed to reflect pressure from Beijing. Tsai told the Journal that the island's economic ties with the mainland had become increasingly competitive rather than complementary, adding that Taipei would neither budge under political pressure from Beijing nor revert to a confrontational attitude towards it. “Recently, mainland China seems to have gone back to the old path of suppression and dividing [Taiwan society],” Tsai said. Alexander Huang Chieh-cheng, a professor of strategic studies at Taiwan's Tamkang University, said Taiwan was being “choked in its throat” as it was squeezed out of international participation. “Taiwan's participation in international health or aviation agency is seen by the Taiwanese people as reasonable pursuit, and should not be politicised,” Huang said. Huang said Tsai had remained restrained in her attitude towards Beijing, and that her emphasis that Taiwan would not “revert to its old path of confrontation” was to provide reassurance to the international society, including its ally the US, that Taiwan was not a “trouble maker”. Hu Benliang, a researcher at the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Tsai's remarks had reflected “inconsistency” in her approach to cross-strait relations. “Although [Tsai] said she wanted to maintain interaction with the mainland, she would not acknowledge the 1992 consensus, and shirk the responsibility on the mainland,” he said. “Now, the mainland has an overwhelming advantage over Taiwan and is in control [of Taiwan's room for international participation].” ^ top ^

Taiwan's pick for Apec summit voices hope of meeting Xi Jinping in Peru (SCMP)
2016-10-06
Taiwan's pick to attend next month's Apec summit said on Thursday that he hoped to meet President Xi Jinping at the gathering in Peru. James Soong Chu-yu, chairman of the opposition People First Party and a supporter of the “one China” principle, was chosen by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to represent the island at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum's meeting in Lima. Taiwan's head of government does not attend the summit due to opposition from Beijing and instead sends senior economic officials as proxies. By custom, Beijing has the final say over the selection. But Soong appeared confident he would be permitted to attend, saying he “has the opportunity” to meet Xi at the November 19-20 talks. Soong said he wanted to convey the Taiwanese people's collective will to jointly create peace and prosperity with their mainland counterparts and the international community. He stressed that cross-strait relations were a process of communication and persuasion. Both sides must sit down and work out a practical policy they found acceptable. Beijing has refused to engage the Tsai administration, saying she must first acknowledge the “1992 consensus”. The consensus holds that both sides agree there is only “one China” but that each has its own interpretation of what that means. “If [mainland] China still finds me unacceptable, is there any hope for the future development of cross-strait relations?” Soong said. An Fengshan, a spokesman for the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, said the “1992 consensus” was unshakeable. ^ top ^

Taiwan will neither give in to pressure nor resume confrontation with Beijing, says Tsai Ing-wen (SCMP)
2016-10-05
Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen said the island's economic ties with the mainland had become increasingly competitive rather than complementary, adding that Taipei would neither budge under political pressure from Beijing nor revert to a confrontational attitude towards it. Tsai, who is also chairwoman of the ruling, independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, also said Taiwan paid close attention to “how the mainland handles Hong Kong people's pursuit of democracy, freedom and human rights”, according to a transcript released by the presidential office of Tsai's video interview with the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Relations across the Taiwan Strait have been particularly strained since Tsai's inauguration in May, which Beijing blames on Tsai's failure to explicitly acknowledge the “1992 consensus” reached between the Chinese Communist Party and Taiwan's then-ruling Kuomintang leadership that there was one China, though either side was free to interpret what that meant. Since then, cross-strait ties have deteriorated as Beijing cut off official contact and exchanges with Taiwan, reportedly exerted pressure on international organisations and individual countries to shun Taiwan, and stemmed the flow of mainland tourists to the island. “Recently, mainland China seems to have gone back to the old path of suppression and dividing [Taiwan society],” Tsai said, citing the recent case of Taiwan being denied participation at a recent meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal, a decision believed to be made under pressure from Beijing. “[I] hope mainland China does not misinterpret or misjudge the current situation, or think that it can make Taiwanese bow to pressure. In a democratic society, this kind of pressure is felt by all,” Tsai said. Taiwan and the mainland have remained split since 1949 when the Kuomintang lost the Chinese civil war and retreated to the island. Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade Chinese province that will be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary. “We will not bow to pressure, but neither are we planning or willing to revert to the old path of confrontation,” she said. The Taiwan leader also called for resumption of direct talks with mainland authorities, but insisted that such talks should not be based on “preconditions”. Beijing has for years been forging its bonds with the island through economic ties, leveraging on the vast Taiwanese business investments on the mainland. But Tsai said even economic ties had became “increasingly competitive”, saying Taiwanese products and services were being replaced by “mainland counterparts”. Regarding the South China Sea, where both Beijing and Taipei laid territorial claims inherited from the pre-1949 Kuomintang regime, Tsai said Taiwan's claim conformed with international law and that it supported consultations between a small number of countries to settle the disputes. She also said that whoever was elected the next US president, ties between Taiwan and the US would remain intact. Meanwhile, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said it was closely monitoring warming ties between the Vatican and Beijing amid concerns that the normalisation of the Holy See's relations with the mainland might come at the expense of its ties with Taiwan. The Vatican is the only remaining sovereign state in Europe to maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan. “[We are] aware of the dialogue and related developments between the Holy See and mainland China; it is closely monitoring the situation,” the ministry said in a letter today responding to an inquiry by the South China Morning Post about Taiwanese Vice President Chen Chien-jen's visit to the Holy See in early September. Pope Francis said last week that the discussions over possible resumption of diplomatic ties between Beijing and the Holy See were progressing “slowly” but in a “good ” direction, after receiving a present from Chinese President Xi Jinping sent via a Chinese delegation that had attended a Vatican conference. ^ top ^

To secure seat at world table, Taiwan pushes past Beijing but tactic seen as risky (SCMP)
2016-10-04
Taiwan's latest strategy of seeking a global presence while bypassing mainland moves to thwart it seem to have gained some success. A delegation from the island held bilateral talks with a dozen countries on the sidelines of the latest triennial International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly in Canada, despite being blocking from official participation. However, analysts said it remained to be seen whether such a strategy would be effective when Taipei attempted to attend November's United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Morocco and an Interpol convention in Indonesia. Taiwan was able to attend the previous meeting of the ICAO – a specialised UN agency that manages the administration and governance of international civil aviation standards and practices – as a “special guest” three years ago. However, it was not invited this year – likely because of pressure from Beijing. Nevertheless, the government of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party still sent a delegation to the event. Ho Shu-ping, deputy director of Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration, returned to Taiwan on Monday after a six-day visit to Montreal, where the ICAO held its meeting. Ho's seven-member delegation attracted wide sympathy for not being able to attend. “Thanks to the support of countries friendly to us, we were able to hold talks with relevant authorities and those in charge of aviation affairs,” she told reporters after returning home. She said the delegation had “sensed warm support” from these countries and they “all agree that aviation safety is without borders and believe that flight safety should never be affected by any factors – including politics”. When Taiwan last participated in 2013, then-president Ma Ying-jeou of the mainland-friendly Kuomintang was employing a policy of engaging with Beijing. At the time Beijing said Taiwan had been invited because Ma's government had acknowledged the “1992 consensus”. This is a tacit understanding reached in 1992 that allows the sides to hold talks as long as they both support the “one-China” principle, while each can have its own interpretation of what China stands for. Ma's successor, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, has refused to acknowledge the consensus and called for talks with Beijing over the participation issue, but Beijing has said that without the acknowledgement, there would be no talks. Tsai issued a letter to her DPP members in September saying “we must do all we can to resist the Chinese pressure and develop relations with other countries”. Wang Kung-yi, professor of international relations at Tamkang University in Taiwan, said this was the reason Tsai sent a delegation to Montreal. However, he said such a strategy could not solve the root of the problem. Trying to increase Taiwan's global presence would be tantamount to the island becoming an official part of international society, which Beijing would not allow, he said. Former DPP legislator Lin Cho-shui said the Tsai government needed to carefully evaluate which international organisations Taipei needed to participate in, so it could avoid wasting effort in trying to attend global events where rejection would serve only to humiliate the island. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

US and China 'in talks to restrict North Korea's energy trade' after fifth nuclear test (SCMP)
2016-10-05
The United States and China are locked in negotiations over curbing North Korea's energy trade in response to its fifth nuclear test September, according to four diplomats from United Nations Security Council countries with direct knowledge of the talks. The world's two biggest economies – both of which can veto any resolution – are discussing restrictions on North Korea's trade in coal, iron ore and crude oil, according to the diplomats, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Other nations also considering separate sanctions against North Korea once the Security Council acts, the diplomats said. The US and its allies are seeking to further tighten sanctions against Kim Jong-un's regime to prod him into abandoning a pursuit of nuclear weapons that has only intensified in recent years, with the latest test coming on September 9. The measures stand little chance of success without support from China, which has kept its neighbour from collapsing to avoid both a humanitarian crisis and the presence of American and South Korean troops on its border. “The US wants to strangle North Korea, but is asking China to be the executioner,” said Shi Yongming, an associate research fellow at the Foreign Ministry-run China Institute of International Studies. China's foreign ministry confirmed on Tuesday that was in “negotiations with relevant parties” on North Korea without responding to questions on details, including whether restrictions on energy were under discussion. It said the Security Council should take further actions which are “conducive to solving the nuclear problem on the peninsula and maintaining peace and stability”. The foreign ministry added that it opposed unilateral sanctions against North Korea and defended its record in enforcing past Security Council resolutions. It vowed “serious punitive actions” against companies or individuals that violate those resolutions. “We're willing to cooperate with relevant countries under the condition of mutual respect and on equal footing, but at the same time oppose any country's so-called long-arm management of Chinese entities or individuals according to its internal laws,” the foreign ministry said. China accounts for more than 70 per cent of North Korea's trade and provides most of its food and energy supplies, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Data from China's General Administration of Customs shows that imports of North Korean coal and iron ore increased from January to August compared with the same period in 2015. Information on crude oil was unavailable. In March the UN passed its toughest sanctions yet against Kim's regime, but a loophole allows it to trade goods needed for “livelihood“ or emergencies. China currently allows imports of coal and iron ore – both banned items under the UN sanctions list – from the North if the resources are not related to Pyongyang's nuclear project. The response to North Korea's latest nuclear test is “moving fast, or at least fast by normal Security Council standards”, Britain's ambassador, Matthew Rycroft, said on Tuesday, without giving further details. While Beijing may consider some new restrictions on North Korean commodities, a ban on energy trade would lead to the regime's collapse, Shi said. It was more likely that China would agree to a more detailed sanctions lists – particularly goods that could be used for both military and civilian purposes, he said. “A shut-down of trade in essential resources like crude oil and coal would not be possible,“ Shi said. Last week, the US Justice Department sanctioned the Chinese company Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development for acting on behalf of a North Korean bank that the US and UN had said provided financial services in support of weapons of mass destruction proliferators. The public security department in China's northeastern Liaoning province said last month on its official Weibo account that it had placed Dandong Hongxiang and its bosses under investigation for “serious economic crimes involved in trade activities”. The company is based on the China-North Korea border in Liaoning's Dandong city. Targeting smaller companies such as Dandong Hongxiang would “alarm the others of the dangers of trading with North Korea”, said Go Myung-hyun, research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. “China is worried of a possible sudden collapse of the North Korean economy when North-China trade is cut, so there could be a compromise such as letting the North trade coal and iron ore with China only to some extent, compared with the previous year.” The US has already issued a warning to China, and a lawmaker introduced a bill that would block North Korea from accessing the global banking system. “It would also be useful if Chinese banks and companies understood dealing with North Korean companies is going to be risky,” Ambassador Daniel Fried, the US State Department's coordinator for sanctions policy, told a Senate subcommittee in September. Hwang Jae-ho, an expert on Northeast Asian regional security at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, said it was possible that Beijing might reach a consensus with Washington to impose further sanctions on Pyongyang. However, the scope of any new sanctions might be limited as a result of the US deployment of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea, which China regards as a security threat. “The real problem lies in how severe the sanction is,” Hwang said. “I do not think a THAAD-infuriated China would impose a strict sanction this time, because North Korea is a card China could use against US.” Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for stronger sanctions. However, Russia is more lukewarm about economic penalties while still calling for a Security Council response. “The Security Council's goal must be to resolve the problem, not just take steps that benefit one or another group of countries,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on September 29. “So the decision to be adopted by the Security Council should be proportionate and meet the required task.” ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-10-06
On Wednesday, the cabinet appointed B.Bayarsaikhan the State Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sport, D.Ochirbat the State Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Z.Mendsaikhan the State Secretary of the Ministry of Energy. The majority of cabinet members also backed in principle the draft amendments, initiated by Kh.Bolorchuluun MP, to the laws on Food and Food Security. The cabinet allowed Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil to exchange notes with the Government of Japan on visa waiver regime for diplomatic passport holders. The resolution on establishing “Mongolia-Kuwait Environmental Protection Center” self-funded venture was approved by the cabinet. The Center will work in fields of conserving rare wildlife and flora species and prevention water, soil and air pollution. ^ top ^

UNICEF to earmark USD 26.8 million for Mongolian children (Montsame)
2016-10-05
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil received Tuesday Resident Representative of the UN Children's Fund Roberto Benes. They deliberated ways of implementing the Country Programme of UNICEF to launch next year in Mongolia. The Minister recommended the Fund to cooperate with the authorities on upgrading pre-school education, improving access to kindergartens and drinking water supply for school children. The UNICEF approved the Country Programme of 2017-2021 for Mongolia on September 14. In this context, USD 26.8 million projects are designed on children's health, growth, educational environment and child protection. ^ top ^

Mongolia's first satellite “Mazaalai” to be launched in 2017 (Montsame)
2016-10-05
The first-ever satellite owned by Mongolia wich is named after the Mongolian Gobi bear – Mazaalai, and is expected to be sent off to the space in the spring of 2017, said the members of Birds Project team during their meeting with the Deputy PM U.Khurelsukh on Wednesday. Scholars from Mongolia, Ghana, Japan, Bangladesh and Nigeria are working together to make this come true. Due to the fluctuation of foreign exchange rate the project required MNT 100 million of extra cost. The Government of Mongolia have decided to reflect the cost in the 2017 government budget. Having a satellite brings many advantages, said the Deputy PM, such as the ability to conduct independent space studies, capture the geographic picture of Mongolia and develop more accurate maps and better prevention of natural disasters, noted the Deputy PM and head of emergency affairs of Mongolia. The team members shared their plan to launch the second satellite in 2019. ^ top ^

Germany's Olsberg proposes cooperation in reducing air pollution (Montsame)
2016-10-04
The Deputy Mayor of Ulaanbaatar responsible for green development and air pollution J.Batbayasgalan received October 4 Director of Germany-based Olsberg Company Ralf Kersting. Olsberg has some 400 years of experience in manufacturing furnaces and heating equipment. Mr Kersting made an introduction to one of the company's newest products – a heating equipment suited for the weather conditions of Mongolia and for Ger (nomad's dwelling). The equipment accumulates heat during nighttime, when the heating tariff can be discounted, and releases or keeps the heat for 24 hours. This can be a great contribution to reducing Ulaanbaatar's air pollution, which is a pressing problem facing Mongolia's biggest urban center. However, the nighttime tariff of electric power must be reduced, says Mr Kersting. Deputy Mayor J.Batbayasgalan said the UB City governance is making efforts in creating proper legal grounds for reducing air pollution and introducing latest technologies. The sides arranged a meeting to elaborate the details of the proposal. ^ top ^

Autumn session of State Great Khural commences (gogoMongolia)
2016-10-03
Today on October 3, 2016, the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia has commenced its Autumn plenary session that usually continues until February 1st. The president of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj has attended the opening ceremony of autumn plenary session. Speaker of the Parliament M.Enkhbold delivered opening remarks. He emphasized an importance of straightforward and honest mindset, without politicizing, when it comes to solving the country's critical financial problems. It is vital in the current circumstances to recover the economic and financial well-being through re-defining the macroeconomic adjustments, promote private sector by all available means and attracting more foreign investment, he said. The speaker also noted it is the very time for the major projects to be forwarded. As the major factors of depreciated confidence of foreign investors, the Speaker underlined bureaucracy in the public service, political pressure, legal instability, misunderstanding and lack of single window system. He also addressed the upcoming local elections of citizens' representatives Khurals (councils) and wished people success in their wintering preparations. Following party groups in the State Great Khural held meetings. After that, sub-working group of Legal Standing Committee discussed revised draft law against family violation and affiliated other drafts. ^ top ^

President Ts.Elbegdorj welcomes Liu Yunshan (Montsame)
2016-10-03
Mr Liu Yunshan, the First-ranked Secretary of the Central Secretariat of the Communist Party of China, paid a courtesy call on Mr Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, the President of Mongolia, on Saturday. Mr Liu noted in the beginning of the meeting that his visit aims at launching implementations of actions following up the deals and agreements, negotiated during the recent high-level visits between the two countries. President Ts.Elbegdorj remarked three points in regard of the visit of one of the top leaders of Chinese Communist Party. At first, the President underlined the composition of the State Great Khural (Parliament) has been changed considerably and the cabinet has been formed with a new composition. However, he wished to highlight, the policies and actions in the relations with China will stand. Relations between the political parties will be essential in defining the cooperation for the next four years. Secondly, it was agreed by the leaders of China, Russia and Mongolia at the Tashkent meeting to hold the next tri-partite meeting in Ulaanbaatar. “We appreciate Chinese President Xi Jinping's pledge of support. The Mongolian side is planning to host this meeting around May of 2017”, said Mr Elbegdorj. At last, the President asserted the signing of agreement on establishing an economic corridor, which happened during the Tashkent tri-partite meeting, and that Mongolia's proposals regarding this agreement see eye to eye with China's initiatives. What is left is transforming the decisions into reality, the President concluded. Mr Liu Yunshan responded with gratitude for the importance Mongolia attaches to the relations with the People's Republic of China, and said the Communist Party of China also prioritizes the ties with Mongolia. Thanks to the mutual efforts, he said, the bilateral relations have been endergoing the most prosperous stages in their relationship. While appreciating the results of the three time tri-partite meeting of the heads of state, Mr Liu promised to devote efforts in realizing the deals. ^ top ^

China, Mongolia agree to cement comprehensive partnership (Xinhua)
2016-10-02
Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Liu Yunshan met separately with Mongolian president and prime minister on Saturday, signalling a strong desire on both sides to cement ties in a comprehensive manner. Liu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, started his visit to Ulan Bator Saturday morning. In his meeting with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Liu first conveyed greetings and best regards from Chinese President Xi Jinping. During the state visit by President Xi in 2014, the two countries upgraded their bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership and the bilateral ties have since entered a new stage. The momentum should be cherished and maintained, said Liu. "My visit is to implement the agreements made by top leaders of the two countries, help increase mutual understanding and promote cooperation in a bid to push forward the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership," said Liu. Liu stressed that China highly values its relations with Mongolia and regards its ties with Mongolia as an important part of its neighborhood diplomacy. Respecting each other's core interests lays the political foundation for the healthy and stable development of China-Mongolia relations, said Liu, adding that China respects Mongolia's state sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, as well as the development path chosen by the Mongolian people. China appreciates Mongolia's stance of upholding the one-China policy, Liu said. China hopes the two sides will further strengthen political trust, jointly work for better connectivity along the border, enhance cooperation on ports, industrial capacity, and investment, among others, and maintain close coordination on major regional and global issues so as to safeguard common interests. China is also willing to enhance coordination with Mongolia within the framework of the United Nations and it welcomes the Mongolian side to play a positive role in international and regional affairs. For his Part, Elbegdorj said Mongolia will unswervingly pursue a friendly policy towards China, and continue to deepen political mutual trust and substantial cooperation with China in various fields. While during his meeting with Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat, Liu proposed that the two countries deepen exchanges at all levels, work for new progress on major projects, tap their economic complementarity and create a stable and better investment environment. China encourages cooperation with Mongolia in supporting the Silk Road Fund under the Belt and Road Initiative, said Liu. Erdenebat spoke highly of the long-term Mongolia-China friendly cooperation, saying Mongolia will actively participate in China's proposals like the Belt and Road Initiative, interconnectivity and production capacity cooperation. The Mongolian side appreciates China's consistent assistance, and will advance cooperation with China in such areas as mineral resources, infrastructure, currency-swap, farm produce processing and cross-border transportation, said Erdenebat. Earlier, Liu also met with Chairman of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) Miyegombo Enkhbold, discussing party-to-party and cultural exchanges. Enkhbold is also chairman of the State Great Hural, Mongolia's parliament. On the same day, Liu also attended a launch ceremony of a joint cultural program, which introduces Chinese TV dramas to Mongolia. ^ top ^

Spotlight: Belt-Road Initiative to guide China-Mongolia win-win cooperation (Xinhua)
2016-10-02
The China-proposed Belt-Road Initiative, which is highly consistent with Mongolia's Steppe Road program, will guide the win-win cooperation between the two countries. The Belt-Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. It brings together countries in Asia, Europe and Africa via overland and maritime networks. The Steppe Road program is designed to boost the Mongolian economy through transborder transportation. It includes infrastructure improvement, such as a new highway to link Russia and China, an electric railway extension of the existing Mongolian railway system and the building of an oil and gas pipeline through Mongolian territory linking Russia and China. ALIGNMENT WITH MONGOLIA'S PROGRAM In a meeting with Chairman of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) Miyegombo Enkhbold during his visit to Mongolia, senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Liu Yunshan on Saturday called for the implementation of the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries, saying the two sides should boost mutually beneficial trade cooperation and closely align China's Belt-Road Initiative with Mongolia's Steppe Road program. During the visit of Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj to China in November 2015, the two countries issued a statement in which both sides said they would actively promote signing a treaty on aligning China's Belt-Road initiative with Mongolia's Steppe Road plan. In his first official visit to Mongolia in July, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the two neighbors are economically complementary to each other and new opportunities in deepening bilateral cooperation have become available. China stands ready to align its Belt-Road Initiative with Mongolia's Steppe Road program and will start a feasibility study on a free trade pact with Mongolia, Li said. Li also said China is ready to make new progress with Mongolia in such fields as the processing of farm and pasture products, housing and infrastructure. He suggested the two sides strengthen financial cooperation and expand the currency-swap scale. Erdenebat said Mongolia will advance cooperation with China in such fields as agriculture, livestock farming, energy, minerals and infrastructure. Erdenebat welcomed more investment from Chinese firms, adding that Mongolia is positive with starting the feasibility study of a free trade pact with China. HELPING REVITALIZE MONGOLIAN ECONOMY Mongolia, a country of 3 million people with an economy of 12 billion U.S. dollars in size, is facing the worst economic crisis since 2009. The new government led by the ruling MPP is trying to win investor confidence, cut government spending and find solutions to its mounting foreign debt. The Belt-Road Initiative is expected to help Mongolia overcome the crisis, as many see China -- Mongolia's largest foreign investor and trading partner -- as a major source of foreign direct investment and the largest "market" for its products and services. "If we can become a part of the Chinese Belt-Road Initiative, receive Chinese technology and know-how, push forward large projects and utilize our geographic advantage, it is not difficult to overcome the crisis," said Banzragch Munkhtuul, director of the Mongolian newspaper Mongolyn Medee. She said that Mongolia's geographic advantage of locating between Russia and China offers it a chance to boost transit trade, logistics and transportation between these two countries. About two weeks ago, China's National Development and Reform Commission unveiled the guideline of a China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor focusing on seven areas, the first of its kind for multilateral cooperation within the framework of the Belt-Road Initiative. Mongolian Ambassador to China Tsedenjav Sukhbaatar said that the plan to build the economic corridor is a milestone in history and Mongolia is planning to develop special foreign investment zones to attract investment. Mongolian economists and public figures believe the Belt-Road Initiative will offer more export opportunities for Mongolia to boost its logistics and transportation between China and other countries through its territory. They say Mongolia has abundant raw materials and mineral resources such as coal, copper and iron ores needed by China, which serves as the basis for mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries. Meanwhile, they realize that it is imperative for Mongolia to get rid of heavy dependence on the mining industry and explore new sources of economic growth. The Belt-Road Initiative is expected to bring new opportunities for the development in areas such as the mining industry, agriculture, stock farming, light industry, tourism and construction of free trade areas. For instance, Mongolia boasts 73 million heads of livestock farmed by about 200,000 herder households in the vast countryside. Currently, the country's agricultural products lack market access and the government wants to sell them to big consumer markets including China, according to Mongolian media. However, the country's poor infrastructure and ineffective veterinarian and vaccination services have proven to be a big trade barrier.H Within the framework of the Belt-Road Initiative, these herders face a better prospect of transporting their meat and dairy products to China in a better and fresh condition, media reports said. ^ 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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