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
  10-13.10.16, No. 643  
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Switzerland

China slams rights award for separatist teacher Tohti (Global Times)
2016-10-13
China on Wednesday expressed strong dissatisfaction with the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders going to Chinese separatist teacher Ilham Tohti. Tohti, who was sentenced to life for separatist activities in 2014, was given the accolade on Tuesday by rights groups in Geneva, Switzerland. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said evidence proves Tohti's criminal activities. "While being a teacher, he called terrorists and extremists 'heroes,' and deluded and coerced people to go abroad and engage in East Turkistan separatist activities," Geng said. Tohti had planned and organized separatist criminal activities, he added. Geng said his trial strictly adhered to Chinese law, adding China's internal affairs and judicial sovereignty cannot be interfered with. Stressing that Tohti's case has nothing to do with human rights, Geng said what he did was "to justify terrorist acts, divide the nation and incite hatred, which is intolerable for any country." UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein attended the award ceremony. Geng said the attendance of the senior UN official "severely goes against the principles and purposes of the UN Charter" and "interferes in China's domestic affairs." ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Hague ruling off Duterte's agenda for China trip (SCMP)
2016-10-13
Philippine President Rodrigo ­Duterte is not expected to raise an international tribunal ruling over the disputed South China Sea during his trip to Beijing next week, according to the head of a Chinese government-affiliated think tank who met Duterte's special envoy in Hong Kong two months ago. Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said the two sides were likely to issue a joint statement covering other issues in the disputed waters. China's foreign ministry confirmed on Wednesday that Duterte would meet President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang during the visit on October 18-21. “Xi and Duterte will discuss improving bilateral ties, deepening cooperation and international and regional issues of common concern,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. “China hopes the visit will help the two nations strengthen political trust, deepen cooperation, continue friendship, properly handle disputes, and put bilateral relations back on the right track of sound and stable development.” Wu, who met Duterte's envoy and former Philippine president Fidel Ramos during a fence-mending trip in Hong Kong in ­August, told the South China Morning Post yesterday that ­Duterte's visit was meant to put bilateral ties back on track after the fallout from the Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling in July that dismissed China's claim to most of the disputed waters. The case was brought before the tribunal in The Hague by ­Manila. “The Philippine side should be well aware before the visit that they need to set aside the South China Sea issue because it is obvious that they cannot come to China to raise the arbitration case,” Wu said. “[Both sides] may reach some consensus on the South China Sea, including on cooperation, a crisis management mechanism and fisheries. “There maybe a joint statement at the end of the visit, including on the South China Sea.” Wu said that in return the Philippines would like to receive funding from the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Chinese support to develop its outdated infrastructure, and be able to promote Philippine tourism and agricultural products. Duterte will be accompanied on the trip to China by a delegation of about 250 Philippine business executives, underscoring Manila's desire to revive economic ties with Beijing, according to Reuters. Li Mingjiang, an associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of international studies in Singapore, said that even if Duterte did not raise the tribunal ruling during his visit, it did not mean Manila was giving up its South China Sea claims. “To a large extent, dropping the subject does not mean the Philippines will give up its sovereignty claim, but rather it's a way of diluting the consequences of the South China Sea ruling and mending frayed ties with China,” Li said. Analysts said Duterte's visit was well timed to negotiate a bilateral crisis management mechanism to reduce risks at sea and discuss joint fishing farms in disputed waters near the Scarborough Shoal. “The mechanism would probably include routine meetings and a hotline respectively set up between the defence and foreign ministries, and discussion of ways to tackle unexpected encounters at sea, ” said Song Junying, a Southeast Asia affairs expert from the China Institute of International Studies. Duterte's Beijing visit comes as the Philippines is increasingly shifting its focus away from the United States. “It is doubtful Duterte will scrap bilateral cooperation and the alliance with the US altogether, but he may be willing to recalibrate the parameters of existing cooperation as part of a grand bargain with China,” said Richard Heydarian, assistant professor of international affairs at De La Salle University in Manila. Wu also said the Philippines-US alliance had been in place for decades and it was unlikely some rhetoric and a presidential trip to China would topple that. ^ top ^

Sino-Thai friendship can weather a royal succession, analysts say (SCMP)
2016-10-13
The Thai royal family has a long history with China, and King Bhumibol Adulyadej has met most Chinese leaders since Beijing and Bangkok re-established diplomatic ties in the late 1970s. Ascending to the throne in 1946, the American-born King Bhumibol was one of the few foreign heads of state that late leader Deng Xiaoping met soon after he regained power in November 1978, after the Cultural Revolution. Deng paid his first visit to Southeast Asia, and Thailand was first stop before Singapore and Malaysia. During the five-day visit, Deng held talks with King Bhumibol in his palace and was later invited to attend the ordination ceremony hosted by the king for the crown prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn, then 26 years old. Deng accepted the invitation and was the one who handed the crown prince a saffron robe – a move Chinese state media later said had won Deng “the heart of people in Thailand”, where most of the population practise Buddhism. Though the king rarely travels abroad, he has met almost every top Chinese leader that has visited his country since bilateral relations resumed in 1975. In 1999, then Chinese president Jiang Zemin paid a state visit to Thailand at the invitation of the king and queen, who hosted a welcome ceremony at the airport and a state banquet in the Grand Palace for Jiang and his wife Wang Yeping. In 2001, the king met Zhu Rongji, then Chinese premier, in the summer palace in Hua Hin, Thailand's royal seaside resort. The king also meet then vice-president Hu Jintao in 2000 and then vice-president Xi Jinping in 2011. King Bhumibol has been widely praised for his efforts to improve conditions for rural Thais, and he expressed to the Chinese leaders his interest in China's progress in agricultural development and water conservancy. At the centre of the Indo-Chinese peninsula in Southeast Asia, Thailand is of strategic importance to big powers. A long-term treaty ally with the United States, Thailand was suspicious of communist China in the cold war years of the 1950s to the early 1970s, said Dr Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. “For good reason at the time, the threat of communist expansionism from both China and the Soviet Union was an existential danger to Thailand's military and monarchy,” he said. But bilateral ties, boosted mainly by economic cooperation, have been solid since the normalisation of ties, particularly in the past over two decades of China's economic rise. One “most vivid symbol”, said Pongsudhirak, was the role of Princess Sirindhorn, the second daughter of King Bhumibol. She speaks fluent Chinese and visits the country regularly, and among the Thai royal family members she is seen as closest to China. The princess studied at China's prestigious Peking University, and was named by Beijing as a “people's friendship ambassador” for her efforts to boost exchanges between the two nations. During a visit to China last year, the princess told Chinese media that she once read the Thai version of Mao Zedong's “little red book”, and was a fan of Sichuan cuisine. Maha Vajiralongkorn, who was designated as crown prince and heir-apparent by King Bhumibol in 1972, is less familiar in China. He has visited Beijing twice – in the early spring of 1987 when he was welcomed at a ceremonial reception hosted by then vice-premier Wan Li in Beijing, and again in 1992 when he led a delegation to China. The prince's daughter, Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, had training in badminton in Guangzhou in 2002 before she represented Thailand in the sport at the Southeast Asian Games in 2005, when she shared a team gold. One thing keeping Sino-Thai relations warm is the fact that Chinese ancestry is common to Thais in all walks of life, including the royal family. In a lecture to the Asia Society in Hong Kong in 2012, Princess Sirindhorn said her family followed some Chinese traditions, like paying respect to ancestors at the Lunar New Year. Zhou Fangzhi, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Thai royal family had traditionally maintained a friendly relationship with China, and the king's influence was mainly felt in domestic rather than diplomatic matters. Therefore, Beijing had few reasons to worry about a possible succession, Zhou said. Bangkok also had a history of balancing its diplomacy among major powers, Zhou said, particularly between the US and China, which meant it was unlikely to side too closely with either. Compared with other nations in Southeast Asia like Vietnam – which shares a similar Communist ideology but is ensnared in maritime disputes with China – Sino-Thai relations appear to be more stable. The construction of a billion-dollar Sino-Thai rail project is set to restart by the end of this year, and the two countries held a joint military exercise last month. Zhou noted that Thailand was the only country in Southeast Asia that had no historic disputes with China, and that Bangkok was neutral on South China Sea issues. “Given the prosperous economic cooperation, it is unlikely we will see any significant change in bilateral ties, even if the king changes,” he said. ^ top ^

Why Cambodia is pinning its hopes on Chinese president's visit (SCMP)
2016-10-12
Along the outskirts of Phnom Penh rice farmers have it tough. Prices have dropped by a third since August with targets of a million tons in exports failing to materialise, hurting producers like Path Chanthorn. “Life is difficult. I borrowed from the bank to buy soil, seed and fertiliser,” the 47-year-old father of three said. “Then we lost all the rice and the family has no income.” His plight has not been helped by late rains which have flooded his fields and upset planting for this country's two million rice farmers who are now pinning their hopes on a two-day visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping ( 習近平 ). He lands here on Thursday. Prime Minister Hun Sen and his long-ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) have asked China for US$300 million in emergency aid and Asia's longest serving leader also wants to see a lift in two-way trade to US$5 billion next year from US$4 billion in 2015. He has also asked Xi to open the Chinese market to Cambodian-grown bananas in addition to doubling imports of rice from a current 200,000 tons a year, and loans for construction of rice mills, kilns and warehouses needed to reach government export targets. “Compared to six months ago, one year ago and two years ago the price just keeps falling. It's falling every year by 30 or 40 per cent,” Path Chanthorn added. “There is no money and no food just some leftover rice that we cook.” Cambodia exported 538,096 tons of rice last year amid falling prices. Prices have dropped again, from US$250 a ton in August to a recent US$193 a ton. That came after a sharp deterioration in the Chinese economy, substantial falls in commodity prices and fears a construction bubble in the capital is about to burst, which have increased the pressure on Hun Sen, who remains mindful of elections next June and a fall in his popularity. His resolute support for Chinese foreign policy, particularly in the South China Sea, has won him admirers in Beijing over recent years and their financial backing. But this diplomatic alliance has caused a great deal of anger among neighbours, particularly Hanoi, opposed to China's maritime ambitions. Cambodian officials were stung by recent figures which showed Vietnamese-approved foreign direct investment coming into their country had dropped to virtually zero in the first six months of this year while overall foreign investment fell 43 per cent over the same period. That has increased Cambodia's dependency on Beijing's largesse and Hun Sen is hoping to sign around 28 agreements and protocols with Xi. Chief among them is fast-tracking a price purchasing pact and the fresh loan agreement. “There is an element of this trip that will be about Cambodia receiving one of its largest financial supporters, like the old emperor,” said CL Consulting analyst Billy Chia-Lung Tai. “I would not be surprised – in fact I would expect – more aid packages will be announced during the visit.” Exact figures are not available but according to the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace China has invested about US$10 billion in this country since it launched its “go global” policy in 2001. A further US$13 billion is promised. Phnom Penh picked-up US$600 million and a big thank you from Xi in July after Cambodia scored a diplomatic coup by forcing Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members to water down its statement on the South China Sea dispute during its annual summit. Importantly the statement omitted Beijing's defeat in the international courts after Manila sought a ruling over Beijing's claims in its sovereign waters, heartening other claimants; Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. “From China's perspective this is money well spent, to have a willing and loyal subordinate partner in Southeast Asia, all for the cost of a few roads and other development projects,” said Chia-Lung Tai. “Why not?” However, a recently elected Rodrigo Duterte could change that. He is patching up ties with Beijing and shifting his country's allegiance away from the United States and the West and that could undermine Cambodia's role as China's chief ally in Southeast Asia. Chia-Lung Tai added Duterte seemed to be warming up to China by choosing not to openly confront China on the maritime dispute, sidelining it for further discussion at a later date. “The South China Sea issue will continue to be a barrier in any meaningful political dialogue between the two countries in the long term,” he said. “China would perhaps still feel that they want to foster support from countries like Cambodia to maintain a strong alliance within Southeast Asia.” Hun Sen is turning on the pomp and ceremony for Xi's visit. Security is expected to be tighter than the operations mounted three years ago, when Phnom Penh played host to Asean, with 7,000 military and security personnel expected to be deployed. Analysts also said Hun Sen was favouring China as a potential role model for a future Cambodia built on foreign aid and investment which he insists does not come with strings attached. He has often criticised Western governments for tying aid and investment to human rights issues. “This type of economic progress, without having to sacrifice control in politics, would be very attractive to Hun Sen,” Chia-Lung Tai said. It's also the type of aid which can't come quick enough for Path Chanthorn, whose flooded fields have been overun by rats and insects. He has taken one daughter out of school and she now works in a factory with his wife to help pay off the family's debts. “We've cut spending but every month we struggle to pay the bank,” he said. “The income from the rice does not even cover the interest.” ^ top ^

China urges Australia to be cautious on S. China sea issue (Xinhua)
2016-10-12
China on Wednesday urged Australia to be cautious in word and actions regarding the South China Sea issue. Vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission Fan Changlong made the remarks during a meeting with Mark Binskin, chief of the Australian Defence Force, and Dennis Richardson, secretary of Australia's Department of Defence, who were in Beijing for the 19th China-Australia Defence Strategic Dialogue. Hailing the success of the defense strategic dialogue mechanism, Fan said the two militaries have made frequent high-level exchanges and deepened cooperation in areas including joint military drills. China hopes to push forward the healthy and stable development of bilateral military ties, he said. Binskin and Richardson told Fan that Australia is willing to enhance communication and expand military cooperation with China. ^ top ^

China urges ROK to calmly handle boat clash (Xinhua)
2016-10-12
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday responded to a clash between a Chinese fishing boat and a Republic of Korea (ROK) coast guard boat by urging the ROK to handle the dispute in an objective and calm manner and maintain the legitimate interests of Chinese fishermen. Spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks in response to a question regarding an ROK media report that said the assistant ROK foreign minister had summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest the ramming and sinking of the ROK patrol vessel by the Chinese fishing boat. Geng said the ROK's claim is not tenable, adding there is no legal basis for the ROK coast guard boat to carry out law enforcement operations in the waters where the clash occurred. "Based on the geographical coordinates provided by the ROK, the clash happened at 37 degrees, 23 minutes and 06 seconds north latitude and 123 degrees, 58 minutes and 56 seconds east longitude, an area where, according to the China-ROK fishery agreement, both countries may maintain their existing fishing activities," Geng said. China has lodged serious representations to the ROK and demanded the country handle the incident calmly and rationally, he said at a routine press briefing. Calling fishery cooperation an important part of China-ROK ties, Geng said disputes and problems are inevitable as their cooperation grows. It is essential for both sides to enhance coordination, keep calm and operate in accordance with the bilateral fishery agreement and consensus, he added. ^ top ^

Xiangshan Forum reaches consensus on maritime security (Xinhua)
2016-10-12
The seventh Xiangshan Forum concluded in Beijing on Wednesday, with attendees from 59 countries and five international organizations reaching consensus on maritime security, among other issues. About 500 defense officials and scholars gathered to discuss global security cooperation at the forum. Cai Yingting, president of the PLA Academy of Military Science, said consensus had been reached on five aspects, when delivering his concluding speech. Maritime disputes should be handled by directly involved parties through consultations and negotiations in line with the UN Charter and the international law and with respect to historical facts, according to the consensus reached at the forum. Maritime activities should be more regulated and crisis control boosted under a regional multilateral security framework. Cooperation in navigation escort missions, humanitarian assistance, pirate crackdowns and maritime anti-terror operations will be enhanced to safeguard harmonious and stable maritime order in the Asia-Pacific area, according to the consensus reached at the forum. Attendees agreed to heighten coordination on various security mechanisms and to build a model of security governance characteristic of the Asia-Pacific region through the Asian approach that values mutual respect, seeking consensus through consultations and taking care of the degree of comfort of all sides. Participants also agreed to prevent and fight all forms of terrorism, avoiding politicizing the matter or applying "double standards." The consensus reached by the forum also covered global governance and building a new type of international relations featuring cooperation and and mutually beneficial arrangements. The forum was launched by a Chinese academic association in 2006 and has been held every two years since 2006. Since 2015, China has invited more foreign defense officials and scholars to the forum and upgraded it to an annual event. ^ top ^

China and Russia close ranks against US missile-defence system (SCMP)
2016-10-12
Chinese and Russian defence officials on Tuesday blasted Washington's plans to deploy a missile defence system, saying it would prompt a new arms race. The officials said Beijing and Moscow would conduct another joint computer-simulated missile-defence exercise next year in response to proposed US deployments in Northeast Asia and Europe. The two countries held their first such drill in May. Chinese deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department, Admiral Sun Jianguo, and Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov spoke to the media on the sidelines of the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing. It is China's alternative to the annual Asian Security Summit, or Shangari-La Dialogue, in Singapore. Senior officers from both countries used the press conference to argue that Beijing and Moscow would be harmed by the American defence systems in Europe and Asia. Major General Cai Jun criticised plans by Washington and Seoul to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in South Korea. Cai said the deployment would “further strengthen unilateralism and the tendency to use or threaten to use force in the Asia-Pacific region”, forcing other countries to adapt to the risks and thus “causing a vicious circle”. “[This] will not only jeopardise regional stability, but also spark an arms race and even expand to outer space.” Russia's Lieutenant General Viktor Poznikhir said US plans for missile defence systems in Europe and South Korea were presumptuous and arrogant. “The US uses other countries' territory to protect its national security, as all [missile defence] systems are controlled by the Pentagon, which has the right to decide who needs to be defended, and when to defend,” he said. “Whole populations in Europe and Asia-Pacific are becoming a human shield for the unpredictable US missile defence moves.” Both sides criticised Washington for withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002, to allow the US to further develop its ABM systems, and said this decision had forced China and Russia to launch their joint computer-simulated drills. “The Sino-Russia joint anti-missile drill has enhanced our armies' joint operational combat capability,” Cai said. Beijing-based analyst Li Jie said China and Russia had been forced to cooperate by aggressive US missile-defence expansion. “The deployment of THAAD in South Korea means Washington is going to use China as its front line for its missile defence system,” he said. US plans for a European missile defence shield would similarly turn Russia's neighbours, Poland and Romania, into US defence bases, he said. ^ top ^

Xi's visit to advance ties in South Asia (China Daily)
2016-10-11
President will meet with leaders of BRICS countries during summit President Xi Jinping's upcoming trip to Cambodia, Bangladesh and India will be "an important diplomatic activity" aimed at boosting ties with South Asia, a senior diplomat said on Monday. Kong Xuanyou, assistant foreign minister, said at a news conference in Beijing that it will be the first state visit of a Chinese president to Bangladesh in 30 years. It will also be Xi's first visit to Cambodia since becoming China's top leader in late 2012. Xi will make state visits to Cambodia and Bangladesh on Thursday and Friday, according to the Foreign Ministry, and then fly to Goa, India, for the Eighth BRICS Summit over the weekend. "Bangladesh is China's important partner in the South Asian and the Indian Ocean region, and the visit will be a milestone for the China-Bangladesh relationship," he said. During Xi's visits, China will sign a number of cooperative documents with Cambodia and Bangladesh regarding the Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, which focuses on improving infrastructure and boosting interconnection, Kong said. Xi already visited some South Asian countries, including India and Sri Lanka, in 2014 and Pakistan last year. Li Baodong, vice-foreign minister, said the BRICS Summit in India is expected to boost confidence in global economic growth. "Through this meeting, China expects to send a positive signal of higher confidence," he said. China also hopes to raise the influence of BRICS members and developing countries in international affairs, to safeguard peace and stability, he added. During the summit, Xi will meet in bilateral talks with leaders from other BRICS members, including Russia's President Vladimir Putin and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to reach consensus on global governance, Li said. Jiang Jingkui, director of the Center of South Asian Studies at Peking University, said that the South Asian region, which is not a traditional focus for China, has become increasingly important in recent years, especially after China put forward the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013. "To some extent, the South Asian region is also one of China's backyards," he said, adding that northern South Asia is a key part of the (Silk Road Economic) Belt and southern South Asia of the (21st Century Maritime Silk) Road. Bangladesh has been eager to advance the China-India-Myanmar-Bangladesh economic corridor, and Xi's visit will bring more practical cooperative results for the two countries, Jiang said. Jin Yong, deputy head of the Communication University of China's School of Foreign Studies, said that the large South Asian population means huge market potential for China, an important prospect given the current global economic sluggishness. Densely populated Bangladesh has more than 150 million people, while India has the world's second-largest population, he said. Many Chinese textile companies have moved their factories from South China to Bangladesh to save labor costs, and such cooperation has bound the economies of the two countries more tightly, he added. ^ top ^

China reiterates support for Sudan to achieve peace, stability (Xinhua)
2016-10-11
China reiterated Monday that it will continue its support for Sudan's efforts to achieve peace, stability, development and national unity. "China and Sudan enjoy deeply-rooted ties. China will, as always, support Sudan's efforts to achieve peace, stability, development and national unity," said Li Chengwen, China's special representative to the Sudan's national dialogue conference, which closed in the capital Khartoum on Monday. Li also noted that China will join the Sudanese government and all Sudanese political parties to seek solutions to the country's crises through dialogue and negotiations. Sudan's national dialogue conference on Monday approved a final document following deliberations that lasted about a year. Representatives of the political parties, armed groups and civil society organizations signed the document before it was handed to the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who chaired the concluding session. The presidents of Egypt, Mauritania, Uganda and Chad also attended the session. The final document, covering principles of rule, public freedoms, identity, peace, unity, economy and external relations, will provide the basis of the country's permanent constitution. In January 2014, al-Bashir declared an initiative calling on the opposition parties and the armed groups to join a national dialogue to end the country's crises. The sessions of the dialogue kicked off in October 2015 in a bid to resolve the country's political and social issues, with the participation of a number of Sudanese political parties, civil society organizations and some Darfur armed groups. However, major political parties and armed movements refused to participate in the conference, including the Revolutionary Front Alliance, which brings together the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM)/northern sector and major Darfur armed movements. Darfur armed groups and the SPLM/northern sector insist that a preparatory conference should be held, according to decisions of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council, to bring together all the Sudanese political forces to agree on procedures to initiate an equitable dialogue with the government, a demand that the Sudanese government rejects. ^ top ^

China's Belt and Road Initiative offers opportunities for Europe: former German ambassador to China (Global Times)
2016-10-08
China's Belt and Road Initiative would in particular offer great opportunities for Europe, said Michael Schaefer, former German ambassador to China, in a recent interview with German media Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten. The Belt and Road Initiative launched by China is a good example of the strategic thinking and action of the Chinese people, said Schaefer, adding it is linked to the old trade routes between China and Europe, and is an inclusive project. "That means, any state, if it wishes to, can actively participate in the development of the initiative and its implementation," he said. Europe should not obstruct this initiative by implying it has a hegemonic purpose, but should take the offer of China seriously and test it through concrete cooperation, he said. In view of the European Union's current negotiations on free trade agreements with Canada (CETA) and the United States (TTIP), he warned against taking free trade agreements as geostrategic instruments against China and the other BRICS states. Europe does not need isolation but integration into the global markets, he added. Schaefer said the international community in the 21st century would become a multipolar one. A trade policy against the BRICS states, apart from China, which also include Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa, will not benefit anyone. "We must try to build new structures of global governance on the foundations of the existing international legal system, not against but with the new creative powers," he said. "I am deeply convinced that the chances of a peaceful coexistence with China and other new global actors are far greater than the danger of being ousted by these new powers," Schaefer noted. In an innovative form of transregional cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative could be seen as an offer to create the basis for cooperation among equals which may lead to a real balance of interests, he said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Convicted Chinese protest leader renounces bribery confession after getting heavy sentence (SCMP)
2016-10-12
The chief of a Guangdong village that made headlines five years ago over land protests on Wednesday renounced his confession to taking bribes. Former Wukan village chief Lin Zuluan withdrew his confession during a hearing into his appeal against a 37-month sentence and 200,000 yuan (HK$230,000) fine handed down last month by a Chancheng district court in Foshan. In his trial last month, Lin confessed to taking 600,000 yuan in bribes and kickbacks in relation to building projects in Wukan and other deals on behalf of the village committee. Wednesday's hearing in the Foshan Intermediate People's Court ended just before noon but a verdict was not given, according to sources close to Lin's family. A final decision could be delivered next week. A legal source close to the family said the court notified the relatives of the appeal hearing just days before it was scheduled. “Lin is fighting against the sentence handed down in the trial as some of the accusations against him were untrue. His words in the trial were all staged,” the source said.“It is highly unlikely he will be exonerated and we are hoping his sentence will not be increased.” The source said Lin filed the appeal in a last-ditch effort to fight for justice. His family said they felt cheated by Guangdong authorities when Lin received a heavy sentence even though he agreed to cooperate with the government by confessing to charges. After the trial last month, one of Lin's three sons said the family was expecting to see Lin at home in time for the Mid-Autumn Festival because they were under the impression Lin would be shown leniency in return for confessing to the charges against him. The police presence outside the Foshan court was not as heavy as that at Lin's trial last month. But the authorities sealed off the main road leading to the court from the previous evening. Plainclothes and uniformed police officers guarded side entrances. When approached by reporters, court officials at one gate said all seats in the courtroom were ­reserved. Reporters were asked to present their identification but were denied entry. A policeman said Lin was in good shape and that his health was not grounds for concern. According to a statement on the Foshan court's website, Lin sought an appeal against the charges and the sentence handed down after the trial on September 8 despite saying initially that he would not do so. The statement said the city's procuratorate also disputed the sentence, claiming it was too short. A verdict would be handed down on a separate date, the court said, adding that the appeal hearing was attended by members of Lin's family, journalists and the public. ^ top ^

Chinese lawyers call for justice minister's dismissal over 'unlawful rules that violate rights' (SCMP)
2016-10-12
More than 40 Chinese lawyers on the mainland called for the dismissal of the Minister of Justice in a petition sent to the State Council and the National People's Congress on Monday. They cited a series of regulations issued by the ministry, which they said were unlawful and had severely violated lawyers' rights. “In recent years, the Ministry of Justice, headed by Wu Aiying, has introduced several regulations that seriously violated the constitution and the law, beefed up the ministry's power and severely infringed upon the lawful rights of lawyers and law firms, while burdening them with extra obligations,” they said in the petition letter signed by 44 lawyers and 375 members of the public. The move comes amid a growing backlash from the Chinese legal community against a controversial amendment to regulations on law firms issued by the ministry in late September – which is among the provisions that the petition wants revoked. The new regulations, to be put into force in November, are seen by rights groups as a further attempt to silence lawyers critical of the authorities during what they have described as “the worst crackdown” on human rights in two decades. Beijing carried out a sweeping crackdown on rights lawyers that began in July 2015, which saw more than 300 rights lawyers and activists detained, sentenced or questioned. Four were jailed in August for between three to seven years on subversion charges in the first trials arising from the campaign. Despite the crackdown having a big impact on the legal community, it does not appear to have deterred lawyers from coming forward to protest against these new amendments. A total of 168 lawyers had already signed and sent a petition to the State Council over the weekend, demanding that the amended regulations on law firms be revoked. They said the changes went “against the rights and freedoms of speech, of the press, peaceable assembly and protest enshrined by the constitution”. Cheng Hai, a Beijing-based lawyer who initiated and drafted the petition calling for Ai's removal, said the new provisions were “legally groundless” and a “gruesome violation” of the constitution and law. The provisions stipulate that law firms will face punishment if their lawyers write open letters, sign petitions or organise forums to “exert pressure on” and “attack” judicial authorities. The firms would also be held responsible if their lawyers organised any form of protest or gathering outside offices of state organs, or “provoke discontent towards the Communist Party and the government”. Cheng said: “The only group of citizens in China that are prohibited by law from disseminating remarks that harm the reputation of the country, organising or participating in anti-state assemblies and protests are civil servants, according to the Civil Servant Law. “The law has no such restriction on other citizens.” The petition also demands the revocation of three other provisions that are being issued concerning the annual assessment of law firms, the firms' practising certificate and the punishment of unlawful acts on lawyers and their firms. “The ministry of justice is in charge of judicial administration and the management of lawyers and therefore should all the more safeguard the proper implementation of law,” Cheng said. “But it has exceeded its authority and made regulations to control lawyers that go against the law. “To establish rule by law, it is crucial that the authorities should themselves abide by the law. In China, the problem of violation of law by authorities is very severe, and the key is the lack of supervision. “Relying on internal supervision of the government and the party is far from enough. We need more people, especially the public, to supervise. And this is what we are trying to do with the petition,” he said. ^ top ^

Xi urges strengthened, innovative social governance for "safe China" (Xinhua)
2016-10-12
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for strengthened and innovative social governance, stressing the need to improve systems to prevent and forecast risk. Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks in a prepared statement about the country's social management that was released Wednesday. The statement was delivered by Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, at a national conference on public security governance held on October 10 and 11. "More efforts should be made to build a safe China at a higher level and further enhance people's sense of security," Xi said. According to Xi, people working in political and legal affairs and comprehensive social governance have focused on dealing with outstanding problems and innovating social governance methods in recent years, achieving greater results. Stressing integrated and open governance efforts among various departments, Xi urged a focus on the rule of law and technological innovation and "a heightened capacity to forecast and prevent all kinds of risks." The president urged Party committees and governments at all levels to pay great attention to the work of social governance and highlight the responsibility of leading officials to ensure safety and development at the local level. ^ top ^

New rules reduce conviction errors (China Daily)
2016-10-12
National guideline expected to improve the handling of evidence and lead to fairer trials Judicial experts welcomed a new national guideline on criminal procedure reform this week, hoping it will contribute to reducing wrongful convictions. While judicial reforms have been ongoing in China, the milestone, 21-clause guide highlights the reforms in all courts through greater standardization in the process of handling cases. The guideline puts greater emphasis on the role of trials and how evidence is handled. Police, prosecutors and judges have to pay more attention to the quality of fact-finding and identifying evidence, "which is a big change in dealing with a case and will effectively protect the rights of defendants and improve impartiality of judgments," Renmin University of China law professor Li Fenfei said on Tuesday. The guideline, issued by the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, along with the ministries of public security, state security and justice, has stirred lots of interest in the legal community since it was released on Monday. "In the past, we focused more on the investigation, but now the guideline asks every judicial worker to consider court trials as the judicial core," Li said. "In other words, how evidence is used has become crucial and will lead or guide judicial workers in handling a case." Shanghai criminal lawyer Ruan Chuansheng said, "The legality of evidence collection is a crucial point in making a fair decision and avoiding wrongful convictions." Ruan said he was glad to see the document highlight the requirement for no punishment to be applied in doubtful cases. Ruan, a legal worker for more than 10 years, said he also is happy to see the document say that "interrogations should be improved to prevent forced confessions, and authorities may not oblige suspects to incriminate themselves". It also for the first time advocates a system to review the legality of interrogations in big or influential cases. "The requirements will guide the behavior of police officers in investigations and reduce mistakes and flaws in following procedures," he said. "Justice is not only based on judges. It also relies on legal investigation and prosecution. When each legal body strictly regulates itself and reduces miscarriages, justice is not far away." Courts, prosecutors and police must cooperate in ensuring that innocent people are not wrongly convicted, he added. Bian Jianlin, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said reforms in criminal procedures came after a series of wrongful convictions in China, which harmed judicial credibility and triggered social outrage. One high-profile wrongful judgment was the execution of teenager Hugjilitu in Inner Mongolia. He was found guilty of rape and murder in 1996 and put to death. But he was declared innocent in December 2014, years after he was wrongfully convicted. "The change will also strengthen lawyers' role in cases," said Wang Wanqiong, a criminal lawyer whose client Chen Man was declared innocent this year after being wrongfully jailed for 23 years. Wang also called for more specific rules on how to punish those who violate the guidelines. "We urgently need a rule with teeth. We must punish mistakes to let legal insiders realize how crucial it is to abide by criminal procedures and avoid torture in interrogations," she added. ^ top ^

China's government tries again to stop forced confessions through torture (SCMP)
2016-10-10
Suspects must not be forced into confessing crimes and any evidence collected in this way should be excluded from legal cases, the Chinese government said on Monday in its latest effort to try and stamp out the widespread practice. China has long tried to eliminate a problem that regularly attracts international condemnation and has put a brake on Beijing's efforts to extradite corruption suspects that have fled to Western countries. A joint statement issued by the Supreme Court, state prosecutor, public security, state security and justice ministries said the use of violence, threats or other illegal methods to obtain evidence or confessions must end. “If [an] investigating organs' collection of material and documentary evidence does not accord with the legally set process, it could seriously affect justice,” it said. “Prevent forced confessions, and do not force any person to verify their crimes,” the document, released by Xinhua said. All interviews with suspects must be recorded and evidence extracted under torture would be ruled inadmissible, it said. This is not the first time China has tried to eliminate the use of torture and forced confessions in its legal system, with the Supreme Court making similar comments in 2013. Rights advocates have long called on Beijing to better safeguard the rights of the accused. Coercing confessions through torture and other means is a persistent practice, with some defendants in high-profile cases confessing to crimes in public before trials have taken place. Several defendants caught up in an ongoing crackdown on human rights lawyers have appeared on state television confessing to details of their crimes. While it has been impossible to verify whether these televised confessions were made under duress, the practice has drawn concern from rights groups and Western capitals. Torture has also been a problem in the ruling Communist Party's own internal judicial system, laid bare in a 2013 case in which six interrogators were jailed over the drowning of a detained man, Yu Qiyi, who died after being repeatedly dunked in a bucket of ice-cold water. ^ top ^

Top legislator calls for civil code with Chinese characteristics (Xinhua)
2016-10-10
China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang on Monday called for a civil code that is scientific and embodies Chinese characteristics. Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, made the remarks at a symposium on drafting the general rules of China's Civil Code. In June, a draft of rules stipulating the Civil Code's basic principles was submitted to the NPC Standing Committee for a first reading, marking the start of the legislative procedure of codification. Compiling the code and formulating the general rules must "uphold the Communist Party's leadership, adhere to the right political direction and stick to the socialist rule of law to ensure that the code reflects the Party's positions, the spirit of the Constitution and the people's will," said Zhang. He said the work should focus on "showcasing the socialist nature of the state and Chinese characteristics," stressing the importance of being confident in China's political system and culture. The code should be suitable to the nation's conditions and conducive to solving the practical problems of the time, helping boost development and good governance, Zhang added. The top legislator also underscored the notion of "governing for the people" and people-centered development in the codification process. "The protection of legal rights of civil subjects must be strengthened through improving the civil law system," he said. Zhang called on legislators to carry forward the socialist core values and the essence of Chinese traditional culture while compiling the code. China should learn from, rather than blindly copy, the best practices of other countries in promoting the rule of law, Zhang added. ^ top ^

Xi stresses Internet innovation, security (Xinhua)
2016-10-09
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, has called for more independent innovation in the Internet and information technology, as well as enhanced cyberspace security. Xi made the remarks Sunday afternoon at a study session attended by members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. He called for the construction of a safe and controllable information technology system, and for major breakthroughs in the fields of high-performance computing, mobile communication, quantum communication, core chips and operating systems. At the meeting, Xi said the digital economy should play a greater role in pushing forward economic development and that the country's Internet management and cyberspace security defense should also be enhanced. The Internet and information technology should be better used to advance social governance, Xi said, calling for a greater voice from China in setting the rules of the Internet, as well as greater efforts to build China into an Internet power. At the session, Wei Shaojun, director of the Institute of Microelectronics at Tsinghua University, gave a lecture on China's strategy on developing Internet power. Noting that the Internet and information technology are developing rapidly and increasingly integrated with society, Xi warned of the gap between China and the world's frontiers in relevant fields. "We should work with solidarity in mind, improve our knowledge and strengthen strategic planning," he said. Xi said Internet and information technology is a "highland" of global technological innovation and a magnet for research and development investment around the world. He called on relevant industries in China to concentrate on developing core technologies and enhancing security defence measures for key information infrastructure. Xi called for greater investment in information infrastructure, increased integration of the Internet and the real economy, and better development of the digital economy, so as to create new space for economic growth. Given the rising power of the Internet in mobilizing people, Xi said that efforts should be made to ensure that "positive energy," which means bright and patriotic information, circulates in cyberspace. As Internet-based communication highlights interaction, first-hand experience and sharing, it should be used to give voice to the public, to benefit their livelihood and address their concerns, Xi said. Efforts should be made to uphold cyber security, as well as to safeguard the integrity, safety and reliability of Internet data, Xi said. Development of the Internet has also prompted social governance to shift from pure government supervision to greater emphasis on coordinated governance across society, Xi said, calling for the building of a national center of big data to promote coordinated management across different administerial levels, regions, departments and businesses. The Internet should be used to encourage scientific decision-making by governments, as well as to enhance social governance and efficient public services, Xi said. Xi stressed the importance of confidently safeguarding the sovereignty of China's cyberspace and explicitly expressing China's assertions. He also asked officials at all levels to learn, understand and use the Internet. "Officials, particularly the high-ranking ones, cannot work efficiently without Internet know-how or proper understanding of the Internet," Xi said. Officials should build up their understanding of the rules of the Internet, be more capable of guiding public opinion on the Internet, lead information technology development and guarantee cyber security, Xi said. ^ top ^

Explosion and fire erupt at Chinese oil refinery (SCMP)
2016-10-09
A fire erupted and set off an explosion at an oil refinery on in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing in Jiangsu province on Sunday afternoon, according to the city's fire department. The explosion occurred at about 1.51pm at a plant in Qixia district owned by China Petrochemical subsidiary Jinling Petrochemical. The company said on its official WeChat account that the incident did not cause any injuries, or trigger any other environmental damage. But Jiangsu Radio reported there was “a pungent smell” in the air. Photos posted on social media websites showed black smoke rising from the plant and witnesses said they heard two huge blasts. In 2008, residents raised concerns about safety risks from the oil refinery and an associated plant producing paraxylene, a chemical used to make plastic bottles and polyester clothing. Qixia district, in northern Nanjing, is home to at least 10 universities and colleges. Greenpeace East Asia said that between January and August, China reported 232 chemical-related incidents, killing 199 people and injuring 400 others. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Rare protest in Beijing appears to involve disgruntled soldiers (SCMP)
2016-10-11
More than 1,000 protesters gathered in front of China's defence ministry on Tuesday, the latest apparent demonstration by soldiers as the world's largest standing military modernises and downsizes. The protesters stood for several hours in front of the Bayi building in central Beijing, home of the Ministry of National Defence. Many wore green fatigues bearing the hammer-and-sickle logo of the Communist Party. The purpose of their demonstration was unclear. Protesters declined to be interviewed and censors blocked searches on social media about retired soldiers or the defence ministry. Hundreds of police and plainclothes security officers surrounded the protesters, hemming them in with buses and police vehicles. While Chinese authorities routinely suppress discussions about the military and soldiers' issues, one human-rights activist, Huang Qi, said that veterans had staged more than 50 protests this year alone. However, demonstrations on such a large scale are extremely rare in the centre of the heavily policed capital. Two demonstrators said they were veterans who wanted the government to address military pensions, but they did not want to discuss the issue with foreign media. The protesters declined to give their names. Liu Feiyue, editor of the website Minsheng Guancha, which monitors civil rights issues, said he was told by retired soldiers that other ex-soldiers were present. “They protested because they don't have a job now after serving a long period of time in the army, some for a dozen years,” Liu said. “They are asking for employment.” China's armed forces are undergoing a large-scale modernisation to become a nimble organisation that can better handle conflicts at sea and in the air. Those measures have gained pace as China builds up its presence in the South China and East China seas amid territorial disputes. President Xi Jinping announced last year that the 2.3-million-strong People's Liberation Army would cut 300,000 personnel but little has been said about the cost or where the surplus troops would go. Veterans have staged sit-ins and protests for several years over low or absent pensions and an inability to find work outside the military. It wasn't clear if anyone had been arrested on Tuesday. Local police did not respond to faxed questions, and no one answered the phone at the press office of the defence ministry. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

China's new rules for Xinjiang ban parents from encouraging or forcing children into religion (SCMP)
2016-10-12
Parents and guardians in China's heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang who encourage or force their children into religious activities will be reported to police, the government said on Wednesday while unveiling new education rules. Hundreds of people have died in recent years in Xinjiang, the far western home to the Muslim Uygur people, in unrest blamed by Beijing on Islamist militants and separatists, though rights groups say the violence is more a reaction to repressive Chinese policies. The government strongly denies committing any abuses in Xinjiang and insists the legal, cultural and religious rights of the Uygur people are fully protected. While China officially guarantees freedom of religion, minors are not supposed to participate in religious activity and authorities have cracked down on underground Muslim religious schools, or madrassas, in Xinjiang in recent years. New education rules, to come into effect on November 1 and carried by the official Xinjiang Daily, say parents or guardians cannot “organise, lure or force minors into attending religious activities”. Neither should they promote extremist beliefs in children, nor force them to dress in extremist clothing or other symbols, the newspaper said, echoing the tone of previous rules against beards for men or head coverings for women. “Any group or person has the right to stop these kinds of behaviours and report them to the public security authorities,” the government said in the rules. The rules also ban any form of religious activity in schools. If parents are unable to properly guide their children away from harmful extremist or terrorist ways and they cannot continue to study at their existing schools, they can apply to have their children sent to specialist schools to “receive rectification”, the rules state. Schools must guide students away from separatism and extremism, to create an environment that “esteems science, seeks the truth, refuses ignorance [and] opposes superstition”. Many Uygurs resent restrictions on their culture and religion, and complain they are denied economic opportunities amid an influx of majority Han Chinese into Xinjiang. China has locked up Uygurs who have campaigned for better treatment of their people, the most prominent being economics professor Ilham Tohti, jailed for life in 2014 on separatism charges. He was awarded a prestigious annual human rights award on Tuesday, drawing an angry response from Beijing, which said he was a criminal who praised terrorists. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Declaration of war as Hong Kong's newly elected lawmakers plunge opening session into chaos (SCMP)
2016-10-13
Hong Kong's newly elected legislature descended into chaos and open war yesterday with localists brandishing “Hong Kong is not China” protest banners at their swearing-in ceremony while a pro-establishment stalwart was elected president after being taken to task over his British nationality. Three localist and pan-democratic lawmakers' oaths were declared invalid after they modified the words and insulted China, plunging the Legislative Council into uncertainty and setting the stage for political acrimony that threatens the elected body that keeps a check on the city's government with unprecedented paralysis. Yesterday's chaos signalled a tumultuous four-year term ahead for the new Legco, and the prospect of frequent clashes with the government, while the new president, with his credibility under attack, looked set to struggle to control localist lawmakers openly challenging China's sovereignty over Hong Kong. The drama began with the oath-taking session of the 70 lawmakers turning into a platform for some of them to trumpet their aspirations, ranging from sustainable development to self-determination for the city. Youngspiration's Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, along with Edward Yiu Chung-yim of the Professionals Guild, had their oaths declared invalid by Legco secretary-general Kenneth Chen Wei-on, who ruled that the trio could not vote in the subsequent election of their president. “There's a clear double standard,” Leung complained, referring to Chen's decision in 2012 to allow a lawmaker to vote for the president despite problems with his oath taking. The trio said they would seek legal advice on their next step, while Yiu planned to re-take his oath in the next council meeting. The drama in the chamber saw activist-turned-lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and another localist rush to occupy the podium just as the swearing-in ceremony ended. They demanded Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, running for Legco president, explain his British nationality status, which forced an adjournment of the meeting. The Business and Professionals Alliance lawmaker, who applied to renounce his British citizenship only after he was returned uncontested to his functional constituency seat, was forced to give a quick press briefing to explain himself. He said he had yet to receive the official certificate, which was being mailed to him by the UK Home Office. At around 5pm, as the council was still debating whether the election should be deferred, the industrial-sector legislator announced he had just received the “declaration of renunciation” and showed it to the press. The democratic camp was not convinced, raising suspicion that while giving up his nationality, leung might still be holding on to his right of abode. The Basic Law requires him to renounce both to be Legco president. The debate was halted when pan-democratic veteran Leung Yiu-chung refused to chair the election proceedings as the senior most next in line, saying even he himself was not convinced of Leung's eligibility. He was replaced by real-sector representative Abraham Razack, who stopped the Youngspiration duo from participating as Andrew Leung was elected president 38-0 while the opposition camp walked out and two localists clashing with security guards. ^ top ^

New radicals, bigger headaches for CY Leung: five things to look out for in Hong Kong's new Legco (SCMP)
2016-10-12
As the new four-year Legislative Council term officially starts today, we focus on five things new and unique among the 70 lawmakers. Among them are 26 new faces. Some have embarked on the controversial path of pushing for self-determination and independence for Hong Kong, forsaking the “one country, two systems” model that governs the city's ties with China. And perhaps most unsettling for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, few of them are supportive of him seeking re-election in March. 1. New radicals, new agenda Six localists have been elected to the legislature, turning a new chapter in Hong Kong's political history where advocates of Hong Kong independence plan to make use of the platform to promote an agenda deemed toxic by Beijing. Occupy Movement student leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung, an ally of the movement's most prominent face Joshua Wong Chi-fung, has already proven himself a mature orator after his election victory, say observers who have seen him in action. At 23, he also happens to be the youngest lawmaker to be elected to Legco. Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang of Youngspiration seems ready to recruit as his assistant Edward Leung Tin-kei, arguably the first independence fighter deemed the poster boy for the cause among the young generation when he garnered more than 66,000 votes in a by-election. Leung was disqualified by the government from running in the recent election for his pro-independence stand. For these young people, it is not a matter of whether the sensitive agenda not uncommon among postcolonial polities will be pursued in Hong Kong's legislature – it is a matter of how. 2. New faces making waves online... not always for the right reasons Eunice Yung Hoi-yan: The New People's Party newbie has been widely mocked by netizens for her comments about parallel traders, the liaison office and even the Legco conference schedule. Even Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, the party chairwoman, concluded that her debating skills were weak. Yau Wai-ching: Netizens are eagerly looking forward to more controversial and juicy remarks from the 25-year-old Youngspiration lawmaker after she lamented how people did not have “enough space to shag” in a crowded city like Hong Kong last week. Roy Kwong Chun-yu: His fondness for punctuation in his romance novels is a never-ending subject of online satire, but the Democratic Party lawmaker grabbed an exclamation mark-worthy 490,000 votes, the highest count ever for a legislative candidate in Hong Kong's history. A question mark now hangs over whether his performance can live up to his level of electoral support. Wilson Or Chong-shing: The lawmaker from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress has yet to offer a satisfactory response on why he did not declare his educational background on his Legco page, after media found no record of him studying at Nottingham Trent University, an institution from which he had earlier claimed he obtained a master's degree. 3. Pan-democrats could get a role Another focus is how many chairmanships will go to pan-democrats among the Legco' many panels and subcommittees. James To Kun-sun, the most senior pan-democrat lawmaker, earlier announced that the camp would no longer negotiate with pro-establishment lawmakers over who got what panel chairmanship, criticising them for giving too few seats to the camp that won more votes from the public. “We will field lawmakers to vie for chairmanships in all panels and committees,” he said. Whether that will result in any gains remains to be seen. 4. A new, less amiable, Legco head? Succeeding a popular Legco president like Jasper Tsang Yok-sing is no easy task. The pro-establishment camp, which has the say on who gets the job, is poised to send Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen into the hot seat. But Leung won in an unopposed functional constituency, arousing furore not only among pan-democrats, but also New People's Party's Michael Tien Puk-sun, who had wanted to run for the job and called in vain for a primary election among pro-establishment candidates. In a move to impress opponents who chided him for his hardline approach, Leung had this to say to those who think he lacks amiable facial expressions: “Maybe I should get plastic surgery in Korea.” 5. A bigger headache for CY Leung In just five months the city will elect its next chief executive. The incumbent, Leung Chun-ying,and his government have not had an easy relationship with lawmakers. Not only are the pan-democrats and localists opposed to his leadership, several pro-establishment lawmakers have also grown more critical of him. Chief among them are the Liberal Party lawmakers, whose election platform featured the slogan “ABC” – Anyone But CY. Ip, the New People's Party chairwoman who is a member of Leung's Executive Council, also said there was “no reason” she would not consider joining the race, despite admitting there were difficulties. The localists, all of whom were leaders of the Occupy protests of 2014, are also no fans of Leung. The expectation is that very little will get done until the CE race. Expect drama, antics and filibustering to contribute to a bigger headache for Leung than with the previous Legco. ^ top ^

Andrew Leung becomes president of Hong Kong Legco after dispute over British nationality (SCMP)
2016-10-12
Pro-establishment legislator Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen became the new Legislative Council president on Wednesday evening, after pushing the vote ahead by presenting a copy of a declaration confirming he had given up his British nationality. After multiple adjournments, moving the meeting to another room and swapping the chair of the election, Leung won the race by 38 votes to democratic camp nominee James To Kun-sun's zero. There were also three blank votes. Just before the vote, most of the pan-democrats tore up their ballot papers and stormed out of the meeting room. Localists Yau Wai-ching, Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and architecture representative Edward Yiu Chung-yim were barred from entering the meeting room as their oaths had been rejected in the morning. Leung, of the Business and Professionals Alliance, had been under pressure from pan-democratic and localist legislators to produce the paper, as they said they could not otherwise be sure Leung had renounced his British nationality. The Basic Law ­requires the Legco president be a Chinese citizen with no right of abode in any foreign country. On Wednesday morning, before the session began, Leung allowed other Legco members to examine two letters from the UK government saying he had registered to renounce his British nationality. But his opponents were not satisfied with the documents. They questioned why Leung did not have the official declaration of renunciation on hand. Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said: “I myself also have a declaration of renunciation [of British nationality]… Shouldn't we wait until Leung has the declaration?” “The pro-establishment camp should learn a lesson,” activist-turned-legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick said. “They should not have chosen a functional constituency lawmaker to be president. If they had opted for a directly elected lawmaker, no nationality issue would arise.” Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said it was understandable that Legco members wanted to see the true document. But she said she was convinced Leung was eligible for the presidency after reading the British Home Office's letters. Around two hours into the debate in the afternoon, Leung, who had been absent from the chamber since the lunch break, announced: “My document has arrived and it's now in the antechamber. Colleagues can take a look.” Leung opened the letter in front of the press, showing the original copy of the letter with a stamp from the Home Office dated September 30. Some pan-democrats and localists were still dissatisfied. Tanya Chan of the Civic Party said the declaration did not say Leung would definitely lose his right of abode when he gave up his British nationality. “It only says 'may' when it comes to whether he would lose his right of abode in the UK”, she said. But Leung maintained that he only had right of abode in Hong Kong. ^ top ^

New Hong Kong lawmakers warned they risk losing their seats if they fail to take oath properly (SCMP)
2016-10-11
Facing the prospect of symbolic protests by Hong Kong's newly elected localist lawmakers being sworn in on Wednesday, the government has warned that those who refuse to take their oath properly may lose their Legislative Council seats. “Legislators must take their oath in a manner and form that is lawful,” the government cautioned in a statement released on the eve of the first meeting of the new Legco. Article 104 of the Basic Law requires oath-taking lawmakers to swear to uphold the Basic Law as well as allegiance to Hong Kong as a special administrative region. At least two of the six localists, who have called for Hong Kong independence or self-determination, have spoken of plans to get round the rules by working their pro-independence calls into the wording of the oath. On Tuesday, the government stressed that lawmakers' oath-taking was a “constitutional requirement” and the form of the oath was prescribed by the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance. “If a member swears his or her oath in a manner or form that is inconsistent with the ordinance... the oath offends the Basic Law and will therefore be unlawful and of no legal effect,” the statement read. “Any person who declines or neglects to take an oath duly requested which he or she is required to take shall vacate office or be disqualified from entering it.” Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang, a newly elected lawmaker from localist group Youngspiration, remained defiant. He said he planned to get round the rules by ways that could satisfy the mini-constitution while not compromising his position. But fellow localist Eddie Chu Hoi-dick said he would most probably take the oath in a proper way. “I don't think it's important to make a fuss over the oath,” he said. Incoming lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the government-friendly Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said she would raise the issue with the Legco secretariat if anyone failed to meet the oath-taking requirement. Pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao reported on Tuesday that Beijing could resort to an interpretation of the Basic Law if Hong Kong's courts failed to make a ruling on lawsuits arising from lawmakers' failure to take their oath properly. “No one should underestimate the central government's determination in getting rid of 'Hong Kong independence',” the report quoted an “authoritative source” as saying. But a source familiar with the government's position said the localists were expected to exercise restraint, otherwise they would not be able to assume office. “Officials are more worried about localists calling for Hong Kong independence or self-determination at [future] Legco meetings,” the source said. The Basic Law states that lawmakers are immune from legal action for statements made in Legco meetings. ^ top ^

Pro-Beijing party showing cracks in leadership as vice-chairman criticises Regina Ip's 'conflicting' roles (SCMP)
2016-10-10
A leadership brouhaha appears to be brewing in the pro-government New People's Party (NPP), with its vice-chairman Michael Tien voicing his discontent publicly over his party boss' post in the Executive Council. Tien said that there was a possible conflict of interest for Regina Ip – as an executive councillor, she has to support government policies, and at the same time, as an elected legislator, she also has to take on the role of a government watchdog. “People may be confused. Who does the New People's Party represent? Is it a government party or what?” Tien asked. “It is a problem for the long-term development of the party,” he told the South China Morning Post on Sunday. Ip was appointed to the Executive Council – Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's cabinet – in 2012. At that time, she was already the chairwoman of the New People's Party. Tien said that this had always been his view and that he had no intention of targeting Ip, who he said was aware of his stance over the issue. Democratic Alliance for Betterment and Progress of Hongkong (DAB) chairman Starry Lee was an executive councillor but she quit earlier this year – a year after she became the party chairman, citing the need to allocate more time for party affairs. Ip said that she disagreed with Tien that a party leader's Exco membership curbs the development of a party. “All pro-establishment parties have had leading members sitting in Exco. Exco membership helps a party expand its influence on the government, and improves party members' access to the senior echelon of government,” she said. Ip also noted that Tien might be upset that she did not support his call to use “secret ballots” for the nomination of the pro-establishment camp's candidate for the Legco president post. The camp eventually endorsed Andrew Leung Kwan-Yuen, chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, to take on the pan-democratic camp's representative James To Kun-sun in the election to be held on Wednesday. “We never discussed this proposal within the NPP. Such a nomination by “secret ballot” would be a radical departure from well-established practices, and needs to be thoroughly debated within the pro-establishment camp before it could be adopted.” She said that such a debate was not possible as only around 27 legislators from the pro-establishment camp were present at the meeting last Monday. Ip was one of the pro-establishment lawmakers who seconded Leung to contest the Legco presidency. Tien would not comment on whether he and Ip would part ways, but admitted that they seldom talked to each other because both were very busy. ^ top ^

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong asks Beijing deputy at heated talk: will you follow up on what happened to me in Thailand? (SCMP)
2016-10-09
A Hong Kong executive councillor has drawn fire at a forum after claiming activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung was “not deprived of his rights” when he was detained in Bangkok for hours last week. Ip Kwok-him also said he would not follow up on Wong's case in his capacity as a local deputy of the National People's Congress, China's legislature, because in his view Thailand was “only exercising its immigration policy”. “I think people understand why Wong was banned from entering the country,” Ip said, in an apparent reference to the student's leading role in the pro-democracy Occupy protests in 2014. Wong arrived in Thailand on Wednesday to deliver a speech on democracy to students. But his visit coincided with the 40th anniversary of a deadly government crackdown in Bangkok, and the 19 year old was denied entry, detained for 12 hours and sent back to Hong Kong that day. Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was quoted as saying on Wednesday that “officials there [in China] have requested to take [Wong] back. It's Chinese officials' business”. Two days later, Hong Kong's justice minister Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung blamed “differences in translation” for confusion over whether the Thai leader had admitted Beijing's role in stopping Wong. In a heated debate on RTHK's City Forum yesterday, Wong said Hong Kong security minister Lai Tung-kwok should explain how a Hong Kong passport holder should be treated by foreign authorities. Directing a question to Ip, Wong said: “I was detained in a 50 sq ft cell for 12 hours, and I was not allowed to call a lawyer, my family or the Hong Kong Immigration Department... will you follow up on the matter as an NPC deputy?” Ip replied: “No, because different countries have their immigration arrangements... I don't think they were depriving you of your rights.” Pro-establishment lawmaker and lawyer Paul Tse Wai-chun also weighed in. “Mr Wong, I hope you can learn a lesson and stop being so arrogant,” he said. “On a recent trip to Hawaii, I spent more than an hour answering immigration officers' questions because I have an Iranian visa and had visited the Muslim country,” he added. Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, also appearing on the programme, rejected the arguments of the pro-Beijing pair. “Now I understand why Hongkongers dislike NPC deputies so much,” he said. “I think Beijing should look into whether any official told Bangkok to deny Wong from entering Thailand.” In light of the Thai prime minister's remarks, Yuen said there was a subsequent statement from a junta spokesman that denied the involvement of foreign governments. That description of the sequence, however, was wrong, according to two Thai journalists the Post contacted on Saturday. At 1pm on Wednesday in Bangkok – some 80 minutes after Wong was escorted to a Hong Kong-bound plane at 11.40am –a Thai government spokesman released a statement denying the role of foreign governments. Prayuth made his comments at 3.15pm, the journalists said. A Hong Kong justice department spokeswoman, presented with the journalists' account on Saturday, said Yuen acted on the basis of information made available to him. Asked if Prayuth's comments would require Yuen to follow up with mainland authorities, the spokeswoman insisted the Thai spokesman's statement “remained the position of the Thai government”. ^ top ^

Hong Kong independence advocate Edward Leung files legal petition over Legco elections ban (SCMP)
2016-10-07
Hong Kong independence advocate Edward Leung Tin-kei, whose candidacy in New Territories East in last month's Legislative Council elections was disqualified, is challenging the constitutionality of the government's decision about a month after the polls. In a petition filed at the High Court on Friday, Leung claimed the decision was “unconstitutional” and amounted to “an unreasonable restriction” on his rights to be elected under the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance. Outside court, Leung said he expected the hearing would start a year from now. “I have no idea how long it will last,” he said. “It will be a long battle.” Yet he was confident of success. “Nine out of 10 people with legal knowledge would think I'd win,” he said, adding if the court ruled in his favour within two to three years a by-election might be possible. University of Hong Kong legal scholar Eric Cheung Tat-ming said a by-election in New Territories East would be very likely if the court found Leung eligible to stand in the elections. Still, Leung said mainland authorities could exert their influence. “We have to face the reality that the Beijing government is able to interpret the Basic Law once again in order to deny any candidates who support Hong Kong independence.” He said he did not want to answer whether he still supported independence as the topic “had given him enough trouble”. But he admitted he had discussed policies with Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang, the newly elected lawmaker for New Territories East from localist political group Youngspiration. The Hong Kong Indigenous leader's candidacy was invalidated by the Electoral Affairs Commission in August on the grounds that he advocated that Hong Kong split from China. The decision came despite Leung's making a U-turn from his previous stance. He even signed a “confirmation form” from the commission reinforcing his acceptance of Hong Kong's status as an inalienable part of China. In his petition, Leung challenges the Electoral Affairs Commission's legal right to decide or enquire whether he was being genuine in signing the declaration in his nomination form. “The decision constitutes a material irregularity in that the outcome of the New Territories East election might have been affected by it,” Leung said in his petition. Leung is asking the court to determine whether the candidates for his constituency declared by the returning officer to be elected were “duly elected”. Responsible returning officer Cora Ho Lai-sheung of the commission was named a co-defendant along with all nine elected lawmakers in the geographical constituency. They included Lam Cheuk-ting, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Elizabeth Quat and Eunice Yung Hoi-yan. Lam, representing the Democratic Party, said he respected Leung's legal right to pursue his claim. “We will wait for the court's ruling,” he told the Post. Leung was one of six Legco aspirants barred from running in the elections held last month. He lodged a judicial review against the Electoral Affairs Commission on July 25, claiming the returning officers had no right to decide on the validity of his nomination. But the High Court on July 27 refused to immediately hear his legal challenge to the controversial new electoral rule. Hong Kong National Party convenor Chan Ho-tin, the first aspirant disqualified from the polls over his pro-independence stance, earlier mounted a legal challenge against the government decision. The first of the group to pursue a claim against the Electoral Affairs Commission, Chan filed a separate petition on September 9 to ask the High Court to determine whether the winners of New Territories West, the geographical constituency he sought to contest, had been duly elected. He asked the court to declare their victories void if it judged they had not been. Other rejected candidates included the Democratic Progressive Party's Yeung Ke-cheong and independence advocate Nakade Hitsujiko. Former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said he did not think Leung's legal action would affect the legislature's operations.“We have an established legal system and procedure to deal with any demands raised by anyone... including election petitions,” he said. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macao people can make the city a better place: Premier Li (Xinhua)
2016-10-12
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday met with some 150 representatives from all walks of life in Macao, calling on the Macao people to work harder to make the city a better place. Li praised Macao's outstanding achievements in recent years, saying they prove the strong vitality of the "one country, two systems" principle and crediting the Special Administrative Region (SAR) government's administration in accordance with the law and the hard work of Macao's citizens. "The central government fully acknowledges this," the premier said. Li called on Macao to meet the requirements set by President Xi Jinping during an inspection tour in 2014. The central government hopes Macao will continue to adhere to the "one country, two systems" principle, as well as to "Macao people administering Macao," a high degree of autonomy and the Basic Law, Li said. "I hope Macao citizens love both the motherland and their own city and will be open-minded and united and forge ahead to make Macao a better place," the premier said. Li said the central government will continue to support Macao's development and has formulated 19 new supportive measures to promote a more diversified economy and sustainable development in Macao. These measures include backing Macao in developing tourism, conventions and exhibitions, establishing a renminbi clearing center for Portuguese-speaking countries, developing cross-border e-commerce, smart city building, technological innovation, health care and the marine economy. Li urged the SAR government to continue to put the people first, make scientific policies, and give top priority to people's well-being. He also encouraged people from all sectors to focus on major issues in the development of Macao and support the local government to administer in line with the law. After the event, Li met with officials in charge of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Macao SAR government as well as from the liaison office of the central government in Macao and heads of major Chinese-funded enterprises there. Speaking at the airport as he left Macao later Wednesday morning, Li said the three-day tour fulfilled his expectations and he is confident Macao will have a more promising future through opening up to the world and integrating with the mainland. ^ top ^

Chinese premier Li Keqiang reveals slew of plans to tighten ties with developing world (SCMP)
2016-10-12
Chinese premier Li Keqiang unveiled a raft of measures aimed at cementing Beijing's connection to the developing world as he continued with his visit to Macau on Tuesday, pressing the flesh with ordinary people in the world's most cash-rich gaming hub. The premier, who has been in the former Portuguese enclave since Monday and will leave on Wednesday morning, unveiled an array of measures as he spoke to leaders of the world's Portuguese-speaking nations at a two-day conference in Macau on Tuesday. The initiatives included substantial investments in education, health and infrastructure programmes across the African continent, in Asia and South America. They also included moves which will see Macau play an increasingly important link role to the world's Portuguese-speaking nations – among them Brazil, Angola and Mozambique – in which China has invested heavily in recent years. Li told the fifth Macau Forum yesterday: “Last year, trade volume between China and Portuguese-speaking countries was nearly US$100 billion (HK$776 billion). China has become one of the most important trading partners for Portuguese-speaking countries. “The current international political and economic situation is undergoing profound changes... China is willing to work with the Portuguese-speaking countries to jointly build more solid economic and trade relations.” Li's comments followed a series of meetings with senior figures from governments across the Portuguese-speaking world and came as he visited a number of historic sites in Macau and met many members of the public. The day was also marked by a series of protests over Li's visit in Macau. A pro-democracy organisation, the New Macau Association, said it was deeply concerned over what it claimed was the escalation of the abuse of power by the Macau authorities during Li's visit. It condemned what it described as the escalation of a disregard for the rule of the law, in reference to the denial of entry and detention of a number of Hong Kong activists and lawmakers, adding that it would be making information on the situation available to the United Nations. Li, who was on his first visit to the former Portuguese enclave, was expected to leave on Wednesday morning. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

'KMT leader to meet Xi Jinping' ahead of annual talks with Communist Party (SCMP)
2016-10-13
Leaders of Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang and the mainland's Communist Party are expected to meet next month in Beijing in their first talks since the KMT lost January's presidential election. Hung Hsiu-chu, who became the KMT's first chairwoman in March, would meet Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping on November 1 before the two parties held their annual meeting over the following two days, a source close to the KMT said. “Hung will travel to Nanjing on October 30 and pay respects to late KMT leader Dr Sun Yat-sen at his mausoleum the next day before heading to Beijing on November 1,” the source said. After talks with Xi, Hung would take part in a cross-strait forum between the two parties on November 2-3 before returning to Taiwan the next day, he said. The source said Xi and Hung would focus on cross-strait peace, economic development and civilian exchanges in their talks. “Hung may touch on the KMT party asset issue if Xi is interested,” the source said, referring to a probe by the government of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party into the KMT's alleged ill-gotten assets. The DPP's Tsai Ing-wen took power with a landslide victory in January's election. The KMT has criticised her government's investigation into the KMT's assets as a political witch-hunt. The assets include those obtained by the KMT since it set up a government in Taiwan after its defeat by the Communists in the civil war in 1949. Losing the assets could affect the KMT's chances of regaining power. The KMT mended fences with the Communist Party after former KMT chairman Lien Chan made an ice-breaking trip to the mainland in 2005 and held a historic meeting with former president Hu Jintao. The November 2-3 meeting will be the 11th since the two parties started their first cross-strait forum in 2006. According to the KMT, the forum this year will be rebadged as the Cross-Strait Peace Development Forum – it used to be the Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum. “We hope that through the forum, our two sides can come up with proposals to maintain peace and the stable development of the two sides,” the KMT said. Some 200 people from Taiwan and the mainland will take part in the event to discuss ways to promote economic and cultural exchanges now the DPP is in government in Taiwan. ^ top ^

Mainland opposes foreign intervention in Taiwan's participation in Interpol activities (Xinhua)
2016-10-12
The Chinese mainland strongly opposes foreign intervention regarding Taiwan's participation in the activities of international organizations, said a mainland spokesman on Wednesday. An Fengshan, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, made the comments when responding a question regarding Taiwan reportedly applying for participation in the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) General Assembly this year. The Taiwan issue is China's domestic affair, and China has always handled issues relating to Taiwan's participation in the activities of international organizations in line with the one-China principle, An said. An also said that Taiwan's participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings should be in line with the relevant memorandum of understanding. The Chinese mainland has been "quite clear about the issue," An said. ^ top ^

Mainland spokesman tells Taiwan: no room for obscurity (Xinhua)
2016-10-12
A mainland spokesman for Taiwan affairs on Wednesday said there is "absolutely no room for obscurity over [...] the political basis and nature of ties between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan." An Fengshan, a spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, made the remarks at a regular press conference in Beijing. He was referring to the 1992 Consensus, the political basis of cross-Strait relations, which affirms that both sides of the Strait belong to one China. He said the Taiwanese authorities must be clear about this "fundamental" issue, adding that all the "play of words" and procrastination would not help circumvent it. "Adherence to the 1992 Consensus is key to the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties," An said. He went on to say that Taiwanese leaders' "correct understanding of the nature of cross-Strait ties" is the mainland's "touchstone for their so-called goodwill." "Goodwill should be demonstrated with action, not words," he continued. An said China's national reunification is a "historical inevitability as the Chinese nation marches toward its great rejuvenation." "Both the Chinese mainland and Taiwan belong to the one same China," he said, adding that cross-Strait ties are not "country-to-country-type" relations. As for longstanding political differences between the two sides, An said the settlement should not be put off "from one generation to another," but should be dealt with through cross-Strait consultation under the one-China principle. He said correct decisions must be made on key issues concerning the future of both side of the Taiwan Strait and their people. The ball is now in the court of the Taiwanese authorities who must "either choose to sit down for talks, or choose confrontation," he said. ^ top ^

'Ball in Beijing's court': Taiwan's Tsai repeats call for cross-strait talks (SCMP)
2016-10-11
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen used her first National Day address on Monday to again pledge to maintain peaceful ties with the mainland and call for a resumption in cross-strait talks. Analysts said Tsai was trying to pass the ball back to Beijing but, without explicit recognition of the “1992 consensus” and its “one China” principle, it was unlikely the stalemate would end. Beijing has stressed the need for the consensus since Tsai, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, succeeded Ma Ying-jeou of the mainland-friendly Kuomintang as president in May. The consensus is an understanding reached by the two sides in 1992 for continued talks based on the understanding there is only one China, but each can have its own understanding of what that China stands for. An Fengshan, from the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, said that as long as Tsai could “recognise the historical fact of the 1992 consensus and its core meaning [one China], the two sides can hold talks on an equal basis”. “Otherwise, it is to incite cross-strait confrontation and cut the economic, social and cultural links between the two sides,” An said after the address. While repeating her inauguration promise to maintain consistent, predictable and sustainable ties with the mainland, Tsai said her “pledges will not change, nor her goodwill, but we will not bow to pressure nor will we revert to the old path of confrontation”. “We respect the historical fact that in 1992 the two institutions representing each side across the strait held a meeting” that led to over 20 years of cross-strait interactions and talks, she said. Analysts said that while Beijing considered the “1992 consensus” a bottom line, it was unacceptable to DPP members, especially those in the hard-core pro-independence camp. “Basically, the historic meeting and the [Taiwanese] constitution as well as the Taiwan and mainland areas mentioned by Tsai represent her goodwill, and it is unlikely she can go further,” Shih Cheng-feng, from National Dong Hua University, said. Liao Da-chi, a political science professor at National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung, said Tsai had modified her position – instead of having no prerequisite for talks, she now welcomed dialogue as long as it was appropriate for people on both sides of the strait. Addressing more the 10,000 people yesterday, Tsai said “anything can be included for discussion, as long as it is conducive to the development of cross-strait peace and the welfare of people on both sides”. Liu Guoshen, director of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, said there was nothing new in Tsai's address – she had said the same things on various occasions, including in two recent newspaper interviews. “This could be what she wanted to suggest – that there would be no surprise and no challenge from her,” Liu said. “But if she wants to talk, she needs to address the issue of what the two sides of the Taiwan Strait stand for,” he said. Tung Li-wen, a professor of public security at Central Police University in Taiwan, said Tsai's offer to hold talks put the ball back in Beijing's court. Chang Wu-ueh, head of the China studies institute at Tamkang University in Taiwan, said the cross-strait situation would continue for some time because leaders of the two sides were focused on domestic issues. Beijing has suspended talks and other official channels of communication with Tsai's government since June in what was seen as a move to pressure Tsai into accepting the 1992 consensus. Relations between the two sides had been bitter since the end of a civil war in 1949, but warmed when the KMT's Ma became president in 2008 and adopted a policy to engage Beijing and support the 1992 consensus. ^ top ^

'Japan's Abe has goodwill towards Taiwan': island to start talks with Tokyo on maritime issues (SCMP)
2016-10-07
Taiwan is to launch talks with Japan on maritime cooperation, including on fisheries and search and rescue, the island's President Tsai Ing-wen said, part of a push to deepen ties with Asia's second-largest economy. China regards Taiwan as a wayward province, to be taken back by force if necessary, and is likely to disapprove of it building ties with Japan, especially when China is suspicious of Japan forging closer maritime cooperation in Southeast Asia. “In the near future, we will jointly open the Taiwan-Japan maritime affairs cooperation dialogue,” Tsai told Japan's Yomiuru Shimbun newspaper. “We don't rule out it could take place this month,” she said, according to a transcript of the interview, issued by Tsai's office on Friday. Media interviews by Taiwanese presidents are often used as a way for the diplomatically isolated, self-ruled island to state positions to a wider audience. Tsai, like her predecessors, is constrained from travelling to other countries, most of which have official relations with China and recognise its “one China” principle. Tsai leads the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party and she took power in May after an election win, raising suspicion in Beijing. Tsai said she looked forward to cooperating with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to strengthen relations and promote regional stability. “From Taiwan's perspective, Prime Minister Abe is someone we are quite familiar with over a long period of time. We also understand that he has goodwill toward Taiwan,” she said. For Japan, building ties with Taiwan could risk its relations with Beijing, which are already strained by arguments over their wartime history and a territorial dispute in the East China Sea. China is also suspicious of Japanese moves to help the Philippines and Vietnam develop their maritime security. Both are in disputes with China over rival claims in the South China Sea. Tsai called on Beijing to talk, saying that immediately after she took power on May 20, China appeared to be “relatively rational and calm” in handling matters with Taiwan. “But we have seen China reverting to past practice of exerting pressure on Taiwan to obtain a political position,” she said. “We will have patience but we hope the other side can show more wisdom.” Taiwan has been self-ruled since Nationalists defeated in China's civil war fled there in 1949. Beijing is particularly sensitive of any hint of a move by the island towards independence. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Officials told to stop fake data (China Daily)
2016-10-12
Top officials on Tuesday stressed the need to "prevent and punish" fake government statistics, an issue that has led some skeptics to question whether manipulated data masks the country's actual economic conditions. A meeting of a top Party reform group, chaired by President Xi Jinping, said officials must strengthen supervision over fraudulent data and ensure independent investigation and reporting over statistics, organizations and personnel. "Independently ensure that supervision authorities are not infringed upon, ensure that all types of cases of manufactured statistics are inspected in a timely and effective manner, ensure statistics are truthful, accurate, complete and timely," the group told officials, according to Xinhua News Agency. "Prevent and punish counterfeit statistics" according to law and Party discipline, it said without specifying the types of data or specific agencies. The main economic indicators, such as gross domestic product from local governments, routinely hew close to official targets, which has led some analysts to question their accuracy. The National Bureau of Statistics has defended its data in the past, saying that critics did not fully understand the accounting methods that China uses and that authorities continuously refine the accuracy of figures. A series of proposals were also passed at Tuesday's meeting, such as measures to boost the development of the mobile internet, enhance the protection of the country's rivers and lakes, improve work safety and open up the elderly care market to attract more private investment.^ top ^

China's economy better than expected: Premier Li (Xinhua)
2016-10-11
China's economy has fared better than expected so far this year, Premier Li Keqiang said Tuesday, citing the increase of new jobs and contribution of domestic consumption and the service industry to overall economic growth. "On the whole, the economy this year, especially in the third quarter (Q3), is better than expected," said Li while addressing the opening of a cooperation conference between China and Portuguese-speaking countries in Macao. China's economy in Q3 not only continued the growth momentum in the first half of this year, but also featured some positive changes, said Li, adding that China was fully capable of maintaining medium to high speed growth. Consumption and the service sector contributed more to economic growth and some important indices, which had previously weakened or declined, were stabilizing and becoming positive, said the premier. Industrial growth, corporate profits and investment, especially private investment, were also stabilizing and recovering, said Li, who started a three-day inspection visit of Macao Special Administrative Region on Monday. In the first nine months, China created more than 10 million jobs in cities and towns, with the urban surveyed unemployment rate in 31 big cities coming in at less than 5 percent in September, the first time in recent years, said the premier. China created more than 13 million new jobs in cities and towns annually in the past three years despite the economic slowdown. China's economy still faces downward pressure and, to keep it stable, China will accelerate supply-side structural reform while maintaining aggregate demand, Li added. The premier called for an objective and comprehensive view of China's debts and property market. China's debt risks are controllable as the government debt ratio is relatively low among the world's major economies and local government debts mainly take the form of investment with returns, he said. China's housing demand will continue to increase as urbanization forges ahead, he said. The government will take effective measures to promote steady and healthy development of the property market in accordance with national conditions and features of cities, according to the premier. "We are confident and capable of realizing the major targets for economic and social development this year and are determined to hold on to the bottom line of avoiding systematic and regional financial risks," he said. He cited measures such as administration reforms and booming mass innovation and startups nationwide that show the great potential in the economy. "We are fully capable of maintaining a medium-high speed of growth and moving to medium-high level of development," said Li. China's economy grew 6.7 percent in the first half of the year, within the government's target range of 6.5-7 percent for 2016. Over the next five years, China's total imports are expected to reach 8 trillion U.S. dollars, with total outbound investment of 720 billion dollars and more than 600 million outbound travels, which means huge business opportunities for companies from all countries, including Portuguese-speaking nations, according to Li. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

Consider people's livelihood in imposing NK sanctions: experts (Global Times)
2016-10-12
Analysts defended China's coal imports from North Korea on Tuesday, saying the well-being of the North Korean people, who are still suffering from the aftermath of severe floods, should be considered when sanctions against the regime are carried out. Lü Chao, a research fellow from the Institute of China's Borderland History and Geography Studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that China is keeping its mineral trade with North Korea out of humanitarian concerns. Lü's opinion was echoed by Li Shaode, head of the Center for East Asian Studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, who said that coal is the largest commodity being exported, which affects North Koreans' livelihood. North Koreans' lives have worsened since the floods occured in September, on top of the existing sanctions, said Li. China imported 1.53 million tons of coal from North Korea in April, 35 percent lower than March, while August imports from North Korea had risen to a record-high of 2.47 million tons. US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Russel said in September that China's purchases of coal and other economic activities have created a lifeline for North Korea that reduces the impact of global sanctions, reported the Xinhua News Agency. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power told reporters in Seoul that the US will use all its political influence in a bid to gain support from all UN Security Council members to adopt "the strongest possible resolution" to heighten pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear arms and missile programs, Japan's Kyodo News reported Tuesday. "We cannot affect the well-being and the humanitarian needs, and we also need to urge various parties to reduce tensions," Chinese UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi told Reuters on Saturday regarding discussions on the new draft resolution with the US, following North Korea's fifth and so far largest nuclear test in September. In March, UN Security Council banned the 193 UN member states from importing North Korean coal, iron and iron ore unless such transactions are for "livelihood purposes," and would not be generating revenue for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs following its fourth nuclear test in January, said Reuters. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

IMF to send team here (Montsame)
2016-10-13
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) sending a working group here on October 20, to assess the current state of economy. A delegation headed by the Governor of the Bank of Mongolia took part in the annual meeting of IMF and the World Bank Group, held last week in Washington D.C. The delegates have met the leaders of IMF and WB and discussed the economic difficulties facing Mongolia. ^ top ^

Liver doctors want to form professional council under ministry (Montsame)
2016-10-12
The State Secretary and some high officials of the Health Ministry received today representatives of “Whole Liver Mongolia” (Eleg Buten Mongol) program, Onom Foundation and the Hepatology Society of Mongolia. The guests made a request to form a professional council of liver doctors and work with the Ministry. They also expressed their gratitude for reflecting the program in the general guidelines of the government, and noted it will be a huge contribution for the citizens' health if the government covers the costs of Hepatitis C diagnosis, treatment and basic pharmaceutical drugs. State Secretary D.Ochirbat pledged support for activities of the civil societies and NGOs, working for the public wellbeing. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-10-12
At its regular meeting, held on Tuesday, the cabinet approved the List of Projects and Programs to be carried out under concession agreements in 2017 in the educational sector, and the Programme of Action for Strategic and Structural Changes in the Cabinet Office. The Ministers resolved to submit the cabinet review of the results of President's visit to the Republic of Cuba and attendance to the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly to the National Security Commission. ^ top ^

104 policy actions to be realized in 2017 (Montsame)
2016-10-12
The cabinet considered Tuesday draft general guidelines for socio-economic development of Mongolia for 2017, and resolved to submit it to the Parliament upon reflecting the cabinet members' proposals. The draft provides for 104 policy actions to be implemented in the coming year and which require a total of MNT 5.5 trillion. Of the sum MNT 352.2 billion is envisioned to allocate from the Government Budget, MNT 933.6 billion from foreign financial sources, MNT 4.1 trillion from private sector investment and MNT 117.8 billion from other sources. ^ top ^

Mongolia and Turkey to cooperate in landscaping and ground water source
2016-10-12
Minister of Environment and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol proposed Turkey to cooperate with Mongolia in green facilities and improving ground water sources during her meeting with the Turkish Ambassador Murat Karagoz. The Ambassador noted the sides will be signing a cooperation memorandum in the approximate future, and expressed willingness to share good practices with Mongolians. The Minister extended thanks for Turkey's participation in the International Silk Road Conference on Nomadic Tourism and Sustainable Cities, taking place in Ulaanbaatar. Ms Oyunkhorol also conveyed invitations to Turkey Ministers of culture, tourism, environment and urban development and forestry and water management to pay visits to Mongolia. ^ top ^

Parliament session takes break (Montsame)
2016-10-11
This autumn's parliament session is taking a break to resume after the elections of the citizens' representatives khurals in districts of Ulaanbaatar and localities. Although the State Great Khural is discussing the government budget draft, such a decision was made due to insufficient quorum for most lawmakers are in rural areas for local election campaigns, the source says. ^ top ^

Mongolia & China launching feasibility study of Mazaalai (Gobi Bear) conservation project (Montsame)
2016-10-11
A protocol has been signed on feasibility study for the Project on Conservation of Endangered Mazaalai Species of Mongolia. A proposal on implementation of such a project was forwarded by the government of Mongolia to the Chinese side. Nine specialists from China conducted a research on ways of improving the living environment for Mazaalai between September 28 and October 10 at the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area. The research will help set the starting point for the feasibility study. The project will greatly contribute to saving the species of Gobi Bear, which has a population of only 28, said the Vice Minister of Environment and Tourism Ts.Batbayar. The Mazaalai was inscribed in the List of Endangered Species in 2010. Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, Mr Yang Qingdong said: "Mazaalai is a precious treasure of Mongolia. Therefore, it is crucial to save these animals. However, the works face serious problems regarding the natural habitat of the species. The Embassy will put all efforts in realizing this project". Director of the Environmental and Natural Resource Management Department of the Ministry D.Davaasamba and the Secretary of Trade and Economic Affairs of the Chinese Embassy Liu Jiefen signed the protocol. ^ top ^

Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet, Darkhan join UN's “Making Cities Resilient” (Montsame)
2016-10-10
On October 10, the three largest urban centers of Mongolia – Capital City Ulaanbaatar as well as Erdenet and Darkhan – joined the “Making Cities Resilient” campaign by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Present were, Deputy PM U.Khurelsukh, Resident Coordinator of UNDP Beate Trankmann and other related officials. The campaign is now joined by 3,368 cities from the five continents. In past two years, over 6,600 accidents were reported in the capital city of Mongolia and more than 800 in Darkhan city and Orkhon province, which are 30 times more in Ulaanbaatar compared to that in other parts of the country, and twice in Darkhan-Uul and Orkhon provinces. Reducing risks of disasters, ensuring safety and building resilience to calamities and accidents in urban centers has become a significant matter for municipal and local administrations of Mongolia, where 80 percent of the total population live in the cities. ^ top ^

Head of government to pay official visit to Japan (Montsame)
2016-10-10
Prime Minister J.Erdenebat will pay an official visit to Japan on October 12-15. He is to have official talks with his Japanese counterpart, Mr Shinzo Abe to conform the contents and line of actions, to be realized in frames of the Mongolia-Japan Strategic Partnership. The Premier will also pay courtesy calls on the Speaker of House of Representatives of the National Diet of Japan, Mr Tadori Oshima, and Speaker of House of Councillors, Mr Chuichi Date. Mr Erdenebat is set to attend the Mongolia-Japan Trade and Investment Forum to give insight into the investment environment and business opportunities in Mongolia. ^ top ^

US Ambassador welcomed by State Secretary of Foreign Affairs (Montsame)
2016-10-07
Mr. D. Davaasuren, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, met with H.E. Mrs. Jennifer Galt, the Ambassador of the Untitled State of America to Mongolia. The sides exchanged views on the current state of bilateral relations, as well as opportunities for further cooperation. The State Secretary highlighted that Mongolia has been attaching a great importance to its relations with the United States, and emphasized a significance of dynamic collaboration towards deepening bilateral economic cooperation. The parties also discussed the lead-ups to celebrating the 30th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the USA next year. While congratulating Mr.D.Davaasuren on his appointment the State Secretary and wishing success, Ambassador Galt expressed her pleasure to work with a career diplomat, who used to deal with the issues of Mongolia and the United States relations and made his own contribution towards strengthening bilateral cooperation, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ^ 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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