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
  24-28.10.16, No. 645  
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Foreign Policy

Politics be damned, Chinese and Indian economies are closer than ever before (SCMP)
2016-10-28
The run-up to this Diwali, India's festival of lights, has witnessed an unusual social media campaign to boycott Chinese-made products. In the wake of China's continued support for Pakistan, the campaign has also found support from some sections of India's political establishment. While there is hardly any reliable data on the impact of this campaign on India's actual imports from China, there is enough data to indicate that the fortunes of the two Asian giants are entwined far deeper than ever before. A terror attack on an Indian army base last month by militants based in Pakistan has drawn China into the volatile politics of South Asia as China is seen as a steadfast ally of Pakistan. A Mint analysis shows Indian stocks have increasingly begun moving in tandem with Chinese markets while India's dependence on China for technology-heavy imports has been rising sharply. It is certainly possible for India to reduce trade with its largest trading partner (even if that entails a steep price for the country) but the force of financial contagion is unlikely to spare India when Chinese markets tumble. As the chart below illustrates, the Indian and Chinese stock markets have been increasingly moving in tandem in the wake of the financial crash of 2008. Since that year, the correlation between Indian stocks markets and their Chinese counterparts has increased. In purchasing power parity terms (at constant 2011 prices), China has already surpassed the US as the largest economy of the world, latest World Bank data shows, and it is little surprise that the fortunes of other major economies of the world are increasingly getting tied to China. A Chinese economic shock can thus have serious spillover effects on other economies, especially on Asian markets such as India. The spillovers can occur in several ways. For instance, any devaluation in the Chinese yuan will hurt the export competitiveness of many of the Asia-Pacific economies, which can lead to adverse reaction in the respective countries' stock markets. This is what happened in August 2015 when China sharply devalued its currency, triggering losses in global equities. In the one month since the devaluation, China's equity benchmark fell around 20 per cent and India's fell by around 10 per cent. China's outsized share in the market for many commodities (especially metals) lends it another lever through which it influences the global economy. Any fluctuations or expected fluctuations in Chinese economic fortunes has an immediate and decisive impact on global commodity markets. When China faces an overcapacity in its steel and aluminium sectors, India faces a deluge of those products, which hurt domestic producers. It is perhaps not surprising that India's infrastructure and metal stocks have a greater correlation with Chinese equity indices than other stocks, as the chart below shows. A prolonged Chinese slowdown might also create opportunities for India, as it can step in to replace China as the factory of the world. India being a commodity importer is also likely to benefit from any prolonged fall in commodity prices. But any sharp fluctuation in the fortunes of the Chinese economy is unlikely to leave the Indian economy, or for that matter, any major economy unscathed. While India might benefit in the long run from such a slowdown, the immediate aftermath of a Chinese meltdown will be tumultuous even for India. A recent paper by researchers at the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) shows that the financial markets in the Asia-Pacific region, including India, are increasingly being influenced by movements in Chinese markets. The then governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan, had voiced similar concerns in May, when he remarked that “financial market losses in China can heighten the risk premia that industrial country investors will charge for investing in our region (Asia-Pacific), and the result could be capital outflows”. The latest World Economic Outlook report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also suggests that spillovers from China into financial markets across the world might increase in the days ahead as China eases capital-account restrictions and deepens its financial linkages with the rest of the world. While a Chinese hard landing may please the hearts of the boycott-China brigade, their joy might be short-lived as any turbulence in the Chinese market is likely to have unpleasant repercussions on Indian stocks, BIS and IMF researchers suggest. The boycott-China group is, perhaps, also unaware of the profound dependence of the Indian economy on Chinese imports, especially in high-technology imports. Trade data also show that India's ambition to be the factory of the world is unlikely to materialise without Chinese imports. As the chart below illustrates, many of our factories run on imports from China. Of all the capital goods imported by India last year, 42 per cent came from China while 14 per cent of imported industrial raw materials were sourced from China. Even if it does not enjoy the economic clout of the US yet, China today has become too big to ignore. It is impossible to escape its influence, either in finance or in trade. Engaging China is of course going to be a major challenge in the days ahead but knee-jerk calls for boycotts and protectionism may end up being self-defeating. Whether such calls come from social media campaigns or industry lobby groups, they often tend to hurt the Indian economy. Just consider the policy of putting in a minimum import price (MIP) to protect Indian steel manufacturers from cheap Chinese imports. At first glance, the policy appears ”nationalistic”. But when one considers the impact on the overall economy, it appears pointless and even counterproductive. In fact, Reuters reported in August that the MIP regime for steel has hit engineering firms especially hard. The report noted that these mostly small- to mid-sized companies together account for almost a fifth of India's merchandise exports. Hence a policy designed to protect Indian manufacturers of steel against cheap Chinese imports has possibly ended up hurting those firms that account for a substantial chunk of India's export earnings. It shouldn't surprise anyone if the biggest losers of the boycott-Chinese-goods-for-Diwali campaign are Indian traders left with unsold stocks rather than Chinese firms which produced them.” ^ top ^

China finishes hull of first domestically built aircraft carrier (SCMP)
2016-10-28
China has completed assembly of its first domestically made aircraft carrier and design work on the vessel was finished, the defence ministry said on Thursday. Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said workers were also installing equipment on the carrier, without giving further details. China confirmed earlier this year that it was building the carrier, its second after the People's Liberation Army commissioned the Liaoning – a renovated former Soviet vessel – four years ago. The new vessel is widely seen as part of China's push to expand its naval capacity amid rising challenges over the disputed East and South China seas, and to protect its growing overseas interests. Beijing has been tight-lipped about the carrier's construction, though military observers said they expected the design of the new vessel to closely follow that of the Liaoning. When asked in August whether the construction was almost finished, Wu only said that it was going smoothly. Also on Thursday, Wu criticised an article by US Defence Secretary Ash Carter as “full of pride and prejudice against China”. In the November-December issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Carter said China's “coercive actions” were the reasons behind “contentious and long-running regional disputes, particularly at sea”. Describing the US' role as “supplying oxygen” for Asia-Pacific's security, Carter pledged to continue to “devote resources to new capabilities critical to the rebalance”, including increasing the number of military ships, submarines, advanced bombers and other tools to develop “a principled security network”. Wu said the US' growing military presence in Asia Pacific, including sending warships to patrol “China-owned” islets, “would never gain 'balance' but could led to 'unbalance' in the region”. “From North Korea to Vietnam, from Iraq to Libya, did the US Army supply oxygen or smoke?” Wu said. “We hope some Americans will... look at themselves before blaming other nations.” ^ top ^

New Zealand Trade Minister to raise trade issues in China (Global Times)
2016-10-28
New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay will travel to Beijing and Hong Kong next week for talks on trade issues with Chinese counterparts. McClay said in a statement Friday he would have "a brief trade-related program" in Beijing. New Zealand is seeking to upgrade the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with China, which was signed in 2008. McClay has said more than once that New Zealand is asking China to lift dairy tariffs, which are not due to come off for another six years under the original agreement. In the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, McClay would meet with the Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung. "I welcome the opportunity to meet with my counterparts in Hong Kong, and exchange views on regional developments and our many shared interests," said McClay. Hong Kong was New Zealand's 15th largest trading partner with two-way trade worth 1.6 billion NZ dollars (1.14 billion US dollars) and a growing source of investment into New Zealand. The New Zealand-Hong Kong, China Closer Economic Partnership agreement, an FTA between New Zealand and Hong Kong, came into effect in 2011. ^ top ^

China holds first anti-terrorism drills with Saudi Arabian special forces (SCMP)
2016-10-27
Special forces from China and Saudi Arabia have held their first joint anti-terrorism drills, state media reported on Thursday, China's latest effort to expand security ties with countries in the Middle East and its Muslim neighbours. China says its companies and citizens face a growing threat from terrorism as its global footprint expands and the government has been getting more involved diplomatically in trouble spots in areas such as the Middle East. President Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia early this year, vowing to expand security cooperation and oppose terrorism. Twenty-five people from each side took part in training over two weeks from October 10 focused on anti-terrorism combat skills and tactics near China's southwestern city of Chongqing, the People's Liberation Army Daily said. “This joint anti-terrorism training is directed at raising the two militaries' ability to combat terrorism and non-traditional security threats,” the paper said. Chinese officials have long been concerned that instability in Afghanistan will spill over into China's western region of Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uygur people. Hundreds of people have died there in recent years in unrest the government blames on militant separatists. The authorities in bordering Kyrgyzstan said a suicide bomb attack on the Chinese embassy in the Kyrgyz capital in August was ordered by Uygur militants active in Syria. In the face of such threats, China in August set up an anti-terrorism alliance with neighbours Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, which all border Xinjiang. From October 20 to October 24, more than 400 troops from China and Tajikistan held joint anti-terrorism drills along the remote mountainous Tajik border with Afghanistan, Chinese media reported on Tuesday. Afghan officials observed the exercises, which included hostage rescue and combat training. Human rights groups say violence in Xinjiang is more a reaction to repressive government policies and limits on Uygurs' religious freedoms, accusations the government denies. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of Uygurs have fled the unrest and travelled clandestinely via Southeast Asia to Turkey. China says some of them then end up joining militants in Iraq and Syria. ^ top ^

Malaysian PM to visit China next week (Global Times)
2016-10-27
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will pay an official visit to China from Oct. 31 to Nov. 6 at the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang, a spokesperson said on Thursday. President Xi Jinping and top legislator Zhang Dejiang will meet with Najib, and Premier Li will hold talks with him, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a regular news briefing. Leaders of the two countries will exchange views on bilateral ties and issues of mutual concern and witness the signing of cooperation documents, Lu said. Hailing Malaysia as an important partner for China, Lu said bilateral relations have maintained healthy, stable and rapid growth, as evidenced by frequent high-level exchanges, fruitful cooperation in trade, investment and finance and increasing people-to-people exchanges. China and Malaysia attach great importance to the upcoming visit, the third for Najib as prime minister, Lu said. "China believes Prime Minister Najib's visit will further enhance bilateral strategic trust, deepen our friendship and advance the comprehensive strategic partnership," the spokesperson added. ^ top ^

Duterte's remarks in Japan accord with his words in Beijing: Chinese FM (Xinhua)
2016-10-27
China said on Thursday that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's recent remarks during his visit to Japan accord with the consensus he reached with Chinese leaders during his China visit last week. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang made the remarks in response to a question regarding Japanese media reports saying Japan and the Philippines reached agreement during Duterte's visit on respecting an international arbitration tribunal ruling over the South China Sea. Lu said China and the Philippines reached consensus during Duterte's state visit to China, and both agreed to focus on cooperation, put aside their differences and bring the South China Sea issue back to the correct track of bilateral negotiation and consultation. "The consensus has been made clear in the statements of the meetings of the two countries' leaders, their talks as well as in the China-Philippines joint statement," Lu said at a routine press briefing. The consensus meets the common interests of the two countries and peoples and helps regional peace and stability, he added. Currently, the situation in the South China Sea is moving in a positive direction, with joint efforts from concerned parties, including China and the Philippines, Lu said, citing their efforts to properly settle the issue through dialogue. "If some countries still have unrealistic illusions, it's better to give up (the illusions) as early as possible," Lu said. ^ top ^

Feature: British Red Arrows debut in China (Xinhua)
2016-10-27
Complete synchronicity - down to every breath. That's the key to the stunning aerial displays put on by the Britain's legendary Red Arrows - officially known as the Royal Air Force (RAF) Aerobatic Team. The Red Arrows arrived in China for their first ever visit on Oct. 22 and they are scheduled to perform at the 11th annual Airshow China, in Zhuhai, south China's Guangdong Province, in the first week of November. Hammerhead breaks, slalom and rollback maneuvers - the nine-strong squad of Hawk T1 jets are promising a dazzling display for the milestone event, Squadron Leader David Montenegro said at the Smart Talk which was organized by British Council in Beijing on Tuesday. Montenegro, the leader of one of the world's most recognizable display teams, said the 25-minute show would see the jets fly as close as six-feet apart at more than 400 miles an hour. The pilots must concentrate on timing. "Only when you put yourself in the right position, can you be in complete synchronicity with the other pilots," he said. "I will tell you every single turn, roll and loop." Precision is essential and extensive practice is necessary to be in the right position: "We even breathe carefully to calculate times." Established in 1964, the Red Arrows have since completed more than 4,700 displays in 56 countries. They often perform at major, national occasions, such as the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The team includes 109 ground crew and support staff: specialists in avionics and dyes, weapons technicians, photographers, logistics and transport experts, mechanical engineers, and survival equipment fitters. Montenegro is primarily responsible for all aspects of the displays, from running the training program and creating the routines to leading the team on the ground and in the air. But even he admits to making mistakes. "Everyone has an element of the human error, but my mistakes are evident to the team," he said. "I have to give the team confidence to follow me. I have to build up trust up with my team." Two or three new pilots join the Red Arrows each year, succeeding those who finish their tours. Typically, they spend three years with the team before returning to other duties. Each candidate must have years of dedication, training and exceptional service as an RAF jet pilot and a front-line, operational tour of duty under their belt. The Hawk T1 - at 11.9 meters long with a 9.4-meter wingspan - entered service with the Red Arrows in 1980. It has a maximum altitude of 48,000 feet, with a thrust of 5,200 pounds powered by twin shaft turbofan Rolls-Royce engines. Montenegro said Red Arrows don't seek to compete with other aerobatic teams as there are so few teams around. "Science, technology and aviation is a global language," he said. "I think we speak the same language with other pilots." ^ top ^

China, U.S. to hold joint military drill (Xinhua)
2016-10-27
Chinese and U.S. armies will stage a joint military drill featuring rescue and disaster alleviation in southwest China from Nov. 13 to 18, China's military spokesperson Wu Qian told a press briefing on Thursday. A total of 134 land forces from the Southern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army and 89 from U.S. Pacific forces will take part in the drill at a training base in the Southern Theater Command in Kunming, Yunnan Province. The drill will be carried out in line with the consensus reached by the two armed forces, and the participants will undertake humanitarian rescue and disaster reduction operations at high altitude, Wu said. The spokesperson also confirmed salary rises for Chinese servicemen, saying it would inspire them to perform their duties better. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy calls on U.S. to repeal embargo against Cuba at early date (Xinhua)
2016-10-27
A Chinese envoy on Wednesday called on the United States to repeal its policies of embargo against Cuba at an early date and develop normal state-to-state relations with Cuba. Liu Jieyi, China's permanent representative to the UN, made the appeal ahead of a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution urging an end to U.S. embargo on Cuba. The General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to adopt the resolution with the United States abstaining for the first time in 25 years. It is the 25th time that the UN General Assembly has adopted such a resolution. This year, there is a change in vote of the United States since it voted against in the past 24 votes. "China has noticed the measures taken by the United States to ease the limits regarding Cuba in commerce, trade and tourism and hopes that the United States and Cuba continue to work towards the normalization of their relations," said Liu. Liu said in current world, countries should work on the basis of equality and seek common development through win-win cooperation. "Under such circumstances, the United States should immediately end its economic embargo and sanctions on Cuba," he added. Washington decreed the blockade against Havana officially on Feb. 3, 1962, following the intensification of the political differences that emerged between the U.S. and the fledgling socialist government led by Fidel Castro. Full diplomatic ties were restored between the United States and Cuba as an agreement to resume normal relations took effect on July 20, 2015. However, the United States has not repealed the embargo yet. Liu said China always stands for respect for the right of countries to freely choose their social systems and paths towards development, and China opposes unilateral sanctions against other countries by military, political, economic or any other means. "We hope that the United States will comprehensively repeal its policies of embargo against Cuba at an early date and develop normal state-to-state relations with Cuba in accordance with the purposes of United Nations Charter and basic norms governing international relations," he added. ^ top ^

China, US in 'advanced talks' to return five major corruption suspects to mainland: report (SCMP)
2016-10-26
China and the United States are in “advanced negotiations” on returning to China five of its most wanted corruption suspects who have fled to the US, a state-run newspaper said on Wednesday. China has vowed to pursue an overseas search dubbed Operation Fox Hunt for corrupt officials and business executives who have fled abroad, and their assets, part of President Xi Jinping's war on deep-seated corruption. It has been pushing for extradition treaties, but Western countries have been reluctant to help, not wanting to send people to a country where rights groups say mistreatment of suspects is a concern. The English-language China Daily, citing a senior unidentified official at the ruling Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said China and the United States had speeded up talks on the return of the five. “We will offer relevant evidence to our US counterparts in a timely manner and leave for the US at a proper time to conduct a joint investigation with our counterparts,” the official said. “We are in advanced negotiations with the US to speed up the process for the fugitives' return.” The paper said the five included Yang Xiuzhu, a former deputy mayor of Wenzhou in the booming eastern province of Zhejiang and Xu Chaofan, a former Bank of China regional director in the southern province of Guangdong. The newspaper did not identify the three others and made no mention of Ling Wancheng, the brother of a disgraced one-time aide to former President Hu Jintao, who is also in the United States. China has said previously it is talking with the United States about Ling. Media reported this year that US officials had debriefed Ling who had provided nuclear secrets as well as personal information about Chinese leaders. His lawyer said in February that Ling denied handing over state secrets. The unidentified official told the China Daily that China and the United States are in “advanced negotiations” to sign an agreement on “sharing confiscated assets”. The United States, Canada and Australia are among the places that graft suspects have fled to. Governments in those countries have insisted China goes through a proper legal process if it wants suspects back. China has upset other countries by sending investigators to track corruption fugitives down without their knowledge. “It is necessary to offer solid evidence to US judicial officials and to make sure Chinese law enforcement officials are well-versed in U.S. and international law,” justice ministry official Zhang Xiaoming told the China Daily. ^ top ^

China stresses support for UN 45 years after restoration of lawful seat (Xinhua)
2016-10-25
China made a fresh pledge Tuesday to support the United Nations in playing a central role in international affairs 45 years after the restoration of its lawful seat in the UN. State Councilor Yang Jiechi, speaking at a reception to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the epoch-making event, said China will continue to work with the UN and all other countries to advance peace and development for mankind. In 1971, the 26th Session of the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758 with an overwhelming majority and decided to restore the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the UN. "This historic decision signified a notable enhancement of the universality, representativeness and authority of the UN and forces for peace and development, marking a new stage in China's diplomatic engagement with the world," Yang said. For 45 years, China has contributed to world peace, been a facilitator of global development, a proponent of the international order and a supporter of the UN cause, he said. Yang reaffirmed that China will stick to the path of peaceful and common development and multilateralism. "China will continue to support the UN in playing a central role in international affairs and take an active part in UN activities in the various fields of security, development, human rights, social affairs, legal affairs, arms control and disarmament," Yang said. Earlier Tuesday, at a commemoration symposium in Beijing, UN Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman said he appreciated China's support for the work of the UN, adding that the implementation of decisions by the UN requires robust political leadership, which China has already shown. Thanks to China, sustainable development was incorporated into the G20 growth agenda for the first time in 2016, and the Belt and Road Initiative will aid south-south cooperation on the UN agenda, Feltman said. ^ top ^

US likely to increase patrols off disputed South China Sea islands after 'pivot to Asia' hits choppy waters, experts say (SCMP)
2016-10-25
The US is likely to intensify military activities in the South China Sea following last week's navy patrol off the disputed Paracel Islands to reassure allies after setbacks to its “pivot to Asia” policy, analysts said. The region is highly likely to see frequent US warships or military planes conducting “freedom of navigation” operations off the Paracel and Spratly Islands in the coming months, they said. The USS Decatur patrolled close to the Woody and Triton Islands of the Paracels last Friday and was warned off and shadowed by three Chinese destroyers until it left Chinese controlled waters. Beijing and Manila had issued a joint statement earlier in the day announcing they would negotiate over territorial disputes. Relations between the two nations have been strained since an international tribunal in The Hague ruled in July there was no legal basis for China's claims to much of the South China Sea. The case was bought by rival claimant the Philippines. The country's President Rodrigo Duterte visited Beijing last week to help mend ties and announced his “separation” from the United States. “The US has lost a pivot in the region as the Philippines has changed its foreign policy and stopped confronting China,” said Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military observer. “To control the damage to its hegemony and reassure allies, the US could not just sit there and do nothing.” As long as the pivot Asia policy remains in force, Washington will keep exercising military power in the region, according to Hu Bo, a researcher at the Institute of Ocean Research at Peking University. Li Jie, a researcher at Beijing's Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said the US was also likely to enlist the help of other countries and territories with claims to the South China Sea to confront China. Apart from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to the disputed waters. Indonesia says it has no territorial dispute with China, but the two countries do have overlapping waters. The Philippines shift in policy towards Beijing may provide a precedent to other Asean countries, according to Ni. Vietnam's prime minister also visited Beijing last month while a Chinese naval fleet docked at Vietnam's Cam Rhan Bay port over the weekend. Malaysia's prime minister will visit Beijing next week. “Without a pawn to move, the US will have to get its own hands dirty,” said Li. “They will have to prove they will not leave the region.” The US will probably get his allies such as Japan and Australia to join operations in the region later, Ni added. Whether the repeating US “freedom of navigation” challenges to China's “excessive claims” will raise tensions in the South China Sea would very much depend on China's response, according to Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. “If China chooses to challenge these operations tensions will rise. If China merely protests then I don't think they will significantly up the ante in the South China Sea,” he said. The latest operation by a US Navy vessel was different from the previous three last October, January and May as it did not enter the 12-nautical mile territorial limit of the two islands that are controlled by Beijing but also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, although it crossed a territorial baseline announced by Beijing. This showed neither of the two wanted to engage in a direct military clash, but both wanted to show a tough gesture, said Ni. China will respond to US challenges by expanding its presence and reinforcing defences on the islands and in future encounters the Chinese navy will adopt a tough posture but handle the mission carefully and with restraint, said Li. “It's like the old saying, keep competing, but never break off,” said Li. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

People's Daily stresses strict Party governance (Xinhua)
2016-10-28
The People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC), has stressed the importance of comprehensive and strict governance of the Party. Hailing that comprehensive and strict governance of the Party is a common aspiration of the entire Party, an editorial of the newspaper said such Party governance efforts are of great significance for the CPC with 88 million members. A key meeting of the CPC has called on all its members to "closely unite around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core." The call was included in a communique released Thursday after the sixth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which was held from Monday to Thursday. The meeting also approved two documents on the discipline of the Party, including the norms of political life within the Party under the new situation and a regulation on intra-Party supervision. The editorial noted that the core leadership is of great importance to a country and a political party. It said the two documents approved at the meeting have integrated both the Party's past experience, fine traditions and innovations. It further called on the entire Party to comprehensively implement the Party's key policies and to prepare for next year's 19th CPC National Congress. The editorial will be published Friday. ^ top ^

Chinese Communist Party expands Xi Jinping's political power, anointing him 'core' leader (SCMP)
2016-10-28
The Communist Party elevated President Xi Jinping's political status on Thursday, referring to him as the “core” of its leadership ahead of the party's five-yearly congress late next year. The higher status gives Xi greater influence over reshuffles of the top ranks at the gathering. A communique released on Thursday after the end of the Central Committee's four-day sixth plenum in Beijing also said the party's national congress would be held “in the second half of 2017 in Beijing”, marking the start of the formal preparations for the meeting. In addition, the plenum adopted two new sets of regulations governing the conduct of senior cadres – guiding principles for political life within the party “under new circumstances”, and revisions to trial regulations on party internal supervision. The communique said the party called on all members to “closely unite around [its] Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core”, state-run Xinhua reported. Analysts said the “core of the leadership” often represented the power of final approval or veto. The term “core” was used by late leader Deng Xiaoping in 1989 to describe Mao Zedong, himself and his successor Jiang Zemin. From the early 1990s, various top-level documents and state media reports referred to Jiang as the “core”, a title that eluded Jiang's successor and Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao. During Hu's decade-long term as party chief, he was only referred to as the “general secretary” of the leadership, and in practice he was the “first among equals” with the other eight Politburo Standing Committee members. With his new core status, Xi is expected to play a more dominant role in orchestrating next year's reshuffles – a sharp contrast to Hu's position 10 years ago. Next year's congress will see the election of more than 300 full members and alternate Central Committee members. Up to 11 seats on the 25-strong Politburo will also be vacated, including up to five members of the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee who are expected to retire. Unlike the official title “general secretary”, the term “core” and its powers are not defined by party regulations. Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said the new reference meant Xi was guaranteed to have unchallenged authority in the party. “It means Xi has the final veto power. It's the official crowning of his real power,” Zhang said. “It also means the end of the last 'core', Jiang Zemin. There can't be two cores in the party.” Jiang, 90, is widely believed to have exercised influence in mainland politics since his official retirement in 2004 and has been seen in public recently. But Zhang said Xi's crowning moment also comes with uncertainties. “It's unclear if all senior leaders will obey him and it would mean more responsibility for him, including the downward economic pressure and rising social conflicts,” he said. The communiqué also singled out members of the Central Committee, the Politburo and the innermost Politburo Standing Committee as the prime targets for the new conduct rules, making it clear that senior cadres would be judged on whether they toed the line on party positions. “Senior cadres must not fudge their stand on fundamental matters, must not waiver on their political stance, must not be affected by incorrect ideology,” it said. It said no organisation or individual was above party discipline and the party strictly forbade anyone from bargaining with the party or disobeying its decisions. To stem corruption, the party would address election fraud and end the buying and selling of official posts and vote rigging. Leading officials were banned from using their positions to seek benefits for friends and family, it said. On the party's internal political life, the statement said the party would unswervingly continue its collective leadership system and the senior leadership had to consult party members on major policies. The communique said a Central Committee full member and three alternate members had been expelled from the party, while two alternate members had been promoted to full members. ^ top ^

China has world's most skewed sex ratio at birth – again (SCMP)
2016-10-27
The mainland has recorded the world's most imbalanced sex ratio at birth for the second consecutive year, and the country has slipped in its ranking for overall gender equality, a report shows. The study by the World Economic Forum also pointed to the risks a country faced if a serious sex imbalance was combined with a rapidly ageing population. The “Global Gender Gap Report” measures gaps between women and men in health, education, economic participation and opportunity, and political empowerment. On the mainland, a traditional preference for boys has encouraged selective abortions that resulted in 115 boys born for every 100 girls from 1994. It peaked nationally in 2004 with 121.2 boys born for every 100 girls, and some provinces have seen the ratio climb as high as 130. But the figure has been falling for the last seven years and stood at 113.5 last year. Liang Zhongtang, a demographer at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the figures for the sex ratio at birth did not paint a full picture of the population. His research found that beginning in the 1980s when the one-child policy came into force, some parents who had a second child who was a girl simply did not tell the authorities. These children were not initially recorded in the census but would be included in official figures later in life as they grew older and required social services, such as health care or education. “This explained why the skewed sex ratio at birth was adjusted by an older age group later,” Liang said. He said it would be difficult to know with precision the actual sex ratio at birth or for the nation to attain a normal level, which is about 107 boys to every 100 girls, unless the birth control policy was completely scrapped. On January 1, the government ended the one-child policy and allowed all parents to have two children. In terms of gender equality, the nation ranked 99 out of 144 countries, down from 91 last year, the report said. A wide gap also exists in education levels of men and women on the mainland. China was 119 in terms of secondary school attainment, behind countries including Singapore, South Korea and Ghana. The nation fell one place to 74 in the measure of political power women wielded, with less than a quarter of legislative seats held by women and only 12 per cent of ministerial-level officials being women. The nation performs better in the number of women in the workplace, and the report points to a high participation rate of women in company ownership. Advancing gender equality could bring tremendous economic benefits to a country, the report's authors wrote. One estimate suggests the nation could see a US$2.5 trillion increase in gross domestic product by 2020 if it closed the gender gap, according to the report. Iceland, Finland and Norway took the top three places in this year's global gender equality ranking. In East Asia, China ranks below Singapore and Indonesia but above Japan and South Korea. ^ top ^

Chinese officials questioned after cotton wool shoved in equipment to monitor air pollution: report (SCMP)
2016-10-25
Three environmental officials in northern China have been questioned by the police after air quality tests were allegedly doctored by putting cotton wool in the sampling equipment to filter out impurities, according to a newspaper report. One official in Xian in Shaanxi province is also accused of manipulating air pollution data stored in a computer, the Huashang Daily reported. Environmental protection officials around China are under pressure to take measures to improve air quality after the central government announced two years ago that it had “declared war on pollution”. The allegations of fiddling test results have been made against the director of the Chang'an bureau of Xian's environmental protection agency, plus the director and deputy director of the air sampling station in the district, according to the report. The director of the air sampling station sneaked into the station several times to manipulate data on computer after the station moved to part of the Xian University of Posts and Telecommunications, the newspaper said. The centre is also overseen by the China National Environmental Monitoring Centre and officials became suspicious after a sudden improvement in the quality of the data. Surveillance footage shot at the Xian monitoring centre was also allegedly deleted as staff knew the watchdog would be visiting, according to the article. A source with knowledge of the matter was quoted as saying that the director of the station may have feared punishment because of the poor quality of the data collected. Measures taken to ensure the accuracy of air quality monitoring include sending data immediately to the national environmental monitoring centre. Monitoring devices are also programmed to detect abnormal results and watchdogs visit sampling centres without advance warning to carry out checks, an employee at the Xian Environmental Protection Agency was quoted as saying. More than one million Chinese people died from illnesses linked to air pollution in 2012, according to figures from the World Health Organisation. The Chinese government has been stepping up its efforts to improve air quality in recent years, including setting up a no-coal zone in cities around Beijing next year in an effort to tackle the capital's notorious smog. ^ top ^

Wife of detained Chinese rights lawyer appeals as bid to sue government-appointed representatives rejected (SCMP)
2016-10-25
The wife of detained Chinese rights lawyer Li Heping has appealed against a Tianjin court's decision on Monday to reject her application to sue the government-appointed lawyers representing her husband. Wang Qiaoling said she had issued an appeal immediately after the ruling was made. “The court accepted my appeal request to review the court's decision rejecting my initial application to sue government appointed lawyers,” she told the South China Morning Post. Wang, who wants to sue two Tianjin-based lawyers Wen Zhisheng and Guo Ming, appointed by the government to represent her husband, said: “What's next could involve waiting around and other procedural matters, but we might still end up with nothing. We just have to wait and see.” Li was detained along with about 300 other human rights activists and lawyers as part of a massive government crackdown – launched from last July to September across the country to tighten its grip on civil society – commonly known as the “709 crackdown” after the date of the first arrests on July 9. Although most of those detained have since been released, the 709 crackdown drew international criticism of violations over legal and justice procedures, including denying detainees access to defence lawyers appointed by family members for more than a year. Earlier this year, Wang and Yuan Shanshan, who is married to another detained lawyer, Xie Yanyi, discovered that the government had assigned them lawyers. However, the authorities had refused to provide the families with any information, such as the names of the lawyers, until August this year, Wang said. This led the duo to file lawsuits against the government appointed lawyers. They argued that it was a violation of legal procedure for the authorities to have denied their husbands access to defence lawyers hired by family members and also for the government to have appointed the men lawyers without the consent of family members. Yuan's case had been rejected by a court in August. The two wives are not alone in having concerns about the representation of their detained husbands. Li Wenzu, who is married to another detained lawyer, Wang Quanzhang, was told earlier this year that her husband had indicated he did not require any legal representation, but Li said she doubted the decision. Professor Chen Guiqiu, who is married to detained lawyer Xie Yang, is in the process of blocking a lawyer in Changsha, who is obtaining approval from the authorities to represent her husband in court without her consent. In August a court in Tianjin wrapped up the first series of hearings involving 709 detainees by handing out a three-year suspended sentence to Christian activist Gou Hongguo. Earlier, the court jailed Zhou Shifeng, the director of a Beijing law firm, for seven years after he was convicted of subversion. Hu Shigen, the head of an underground church, was given a 7 1/2-year jail term, and activist Zhai Yanmin received a three-year jail sentence, suspended for four years. ^ top ^

Jail terms, confessions and anti-graft TV... how China ensures a trouble-free top Communist Party meeting (SCMP)
2016-10-26
Eight disgraced senior party officials were thrown behind bars and more made high-profile confessions on state television in the Communist Party's effort to build momentum for a key four-day meeting that ends on Thursday. The sixth plenum – the Communist Party Central Committee's most important meeting ahead of next year's major leadership reshuffle – is focused on imposing stricter rules and codes of conduct on cadres, especially senior officials. Since the dates of the plenum were officially announced at a Politburo meeting in late September, the party has spared no effort in preparing the political and public atmosphere ahead of the meeting. Analysts said such moves aimed to further establish President Xi Jinping's authority and discourage any attempts by the meeting's participants to challenge the consensus on plenum issues. In the past three weeks, eight former ministerial-level officials have received prison sentences in quick succession. This is the most intense sentencing flurry of “tigers” – or high-ranking officials – since Xi launched his harsh anti-corruption campaign nearly four years ago. “The sentencing in relatively major, influential cases like these is surely of political sensitivity and significance,” Chen Daoyin, a political scientist at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said. “Therefore, completing the judicial process in cases of provincial-level officials at such a time is definitely not a coincidence, but an intentional arrangement for the sixth plenum, like offering a sacrifice before a battle.” The eight officials were tried by different courts at different times, with former Guangzhou party chief Wan Qingliang the first to stand trial in December, and former Yunnan party boss Bai Enpei the most recent, in June. Zhuang Deshui, an anti-corruption expert at Peking University, said the sentencing spell was to clear obstacles for the sixth plenum, especially those from political opponents, to ensure the meeting proceeded smoothly. “In particular, [it] can help consensus to be reached faster and better on important decisions that are controversial and avoid disputes,” he said. “Although the central leadership has basically taken control of the political situation, disputes may still exist within the party on some specific political measures.” Meanwhile, more fallen tigers, including some sentenced in recent weeks, have been repenting on state television since October 17 in an eight-part series on the anti-corruption campaign jointly produced by CCTV and the party's top disciplinary watchdog. The series, Always on the Road, aired daily, with the last part broadcast yesterday. It offered details of high-profile graft cases, including those of close aides or associates of some of the biggest cadres snared in the crackdown. Renmin University political scientist Zhang Ming said the broadcasts were meant to show the achievements of the anti-corruption crackdown and inspire awe in officials to cement Xi's authority. “Xi has been consolidating power all along, but it seems like so far his authority is not yet enough. He has not achieved many real political achievements and graft busting is probably one of the few – hence the high-profile display of the corruption crackdown results,” Zhang said. Chen from the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law agreed. He said the series was aired with great fanfare to put psychological pressure on members of the Central Committee attending the plenum. “It has a deterrent effect,” he said. During the plenum, the more than 300 full members and alternates of the Central Committee will consider two important party internal regulations – one lays out the guiding principles for political life within the party “under new circumstances” and the other is a revision to a trial regulation on internal supervision of the party. Both regulations have put senior officials in their crosshairs, with the principles for political life clearly stating that the main targets are Central Committee members, Politburo members and Politburo Standing Committee members – the groups to which participants of the plenum belong. “There is no doubt the two regulations will be passed, but there must be quite some bargaining involved in the process, therefore some pressure is needed,” Chen said. ^ top ^

What is the Chinese Communist Party's 'sixth plenum' and why does it matter? (SCMP)
2016-10-24
Top Communist Party leaders are gathering at a heavily guarded hotel in Beijing for four days, starting on Monday. The meeting is the “sixth plenum”, the sixth time the roughly 370 full and alternate members of the party's present Central Committee have met since late 2012. Over the past three decades, sixth plenums have focused on ideology and “party building”, and this time those attending are expected to discuss stricter internal supervision of the organisation. While it may not sound as agenda setting as the five-year plan discussions of the fifth plenums, history suggests it would be unwise to underestimate the importance of this meeting. For example, it was at the sixth plenum of the 11th party congress in 1981 that the party laid down its official verdict on the Cultural Revolution – the decade-long political and social upheaval that devastated China in the 1960s and 1970s. So why does this year's plenum matter? ● It's the most important meeting before the party congress late next year The meeting this week signals the start of Beijing's five-yearly political reshuffle season, which will last until the next party congress. Five of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the party's most powerful body, will be replaced at the 2017 congress if the informal retirement age of 68 still holds. Full Central Committee members will also be in contention for another six seats on the 25-strong Politburo. Regional party chiefs and government heads are already being reshuffled to pave way for the major personnel moves to come. ● It could offer signals about the upcoming leadership reshuffle Speculation has been brewing over whether President Xi Jinping will defy the party's unofficial retirement rules. For instance, China-watchers are keen to see if Wang Qishan, the party's top graft-buster and Xi's right-hand man, will stay on the Politburo Standing Committee for one more term, even though he will be 69 by the time of next year's party congress. If the rule was waived for Wang, it would set a precedent and possibly allow Xi to ignore the rule himself and stay on for a third term after the 20th party congress in 2022. ● It is expected to further establish Xi's authority The plenum is an important chance for Xi to bolster his authority ahead of the party congress next year. In the lead-up to this week's meeting, the party touted its political achievements in fighting corruption front, airing an eight-part documentary on the subject on state broadcaster CCTV. Another official outlet, People's Tribune, also stressed the need for Xi to be given “core” leadership status. Citing a survey, it claimed the public believed Xi was a strongman leader – like Mao Zedong – who was competent to lead the historic mission of China's rejuvenation. Analysts said an official statement issued after the plenum might shed light on whether Xi would be referred to in a new way that could point to higher political stature. ● It is expected to focus on the last of Xi's “Four Comprehensives” The theme of the sixth plenum is “governing the party in a strict manner”, the last point in Xi's major political theory for governing China. The “Four Comprehensives”, put forward in 2014, was heavily promoted by state media ahead of the national parliamentary session in March 2015. The Four Comprehensives are to comprehensively build a moderately prosperous society; comprehensively deepen reform; comprehensively govern the nation according to law; comprehensively strictly govern the party. The first three “comprehensives” were discussed at previous plenums. The sixth plenum, with its focus on the last comprehensive, sets the groundwork for the theory to be developed into a guiding party principle and enshrined in its constitution. This was the case with the “Scientific Outlook on Development” of Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao, and former president Jiang Zemin's “Three Represents” theory. ^ top ^

China issues guidelines on implementing 13th 5-year plan (Xinhua)
2016-10-24
The Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council have issued guidelines on the implementation of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) for economic and social development. The guidelines urged appropriate handling of the relationship between the government and the market, mobilizing the enthusiasm of both central and local governments, coordinating priorities with overall development and strengthening the leading and restrictive role of the plan during the period. Relevant departments should be clear about their own targets and tasks, leaders' responsibilities should be stressed, coordination be strengthened and social organizations' role highlighted. While implementing the plan, priorities should be set on major obligatory targets, which should be broken down and allocated to local governments before October 2016. The guidelines also required accelerated implementation of major projects and launching of major reform policies. The 25 key indicators of the plan should be included in the national economic planner's annual plan index system, and sub-plans and regional plans should be issued and implemented before the end of this year. A spatial planning system should be established in order to promote the appropriate developing and efficient use of land space. To this end, good public opinion, dynamic market environment and the rule of law should be guaranteed, according to the guidelines. Dynamic monitoring, annual and middle-term evaluations as well as flexible adjustment mechanism should be introduced. Supervision from the National People's Congress and the public, among others, will be enhanced, said the guidelines. ^ top ^

Vice premier highlights food safety supervision (Xinhua)
2016-10-23
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang has urged local governments to strengthen supervision on farm product quality and food safety. China has gained some experience from a nationwide pilot program starting from 2014, which encouraged good models on promoting food safety at city levels and on high-quality farm product at counties, he said at a two-day national meeting ended here on Saturday. Wang urged expansion of the pilot program, and stressed the need to formulate a nationwide supervision system in this respect. Governments should try to improve efficiency of supervision taking advantage of modern information technology, Wang said. More efforts should be made in dealing with prominent problems including abuse of food additives and excessive pesticide residues in agricultural products, Wang added. ^ top ^

Commentary: CPC leadership key to China's success (Xinhua)
2016-10-23
China's success lies in the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and sticking to and improving CPC leadership is the country's foundation. The 18th CPC Central Committee will convene its sixth plenary session from Oct. 24 to 27 to review key issues involving political life within the Party and intra-Party supervision. The session will include discussion of critical issues in CPC governance and formulating strategic plans for Party building. Only by upholding the CPC as its core leadership and managing the Party can China withstand challenges, overcome difficulties and achieve the "two centenary goals" and the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the CPC leadership has pledged to unswervingly promote comprehensive and strict Party governance, including an "eight-point" guidelines against bureaucracy and extravagance, inspections of central and local governments, and a "mass line" campaign launched to bridge the gaps between officials and the public. From 2013 to September 2016, disciplinary inspectors have filed more than one million cases and meted out punishment to more than one million people. All these measures have greatly updated the work style of the Party and governments, and have earned the trust and support of the people, which are crucial to ruling a country and dealing with government affairs. A recent television program has showcased China's anti-corruption achievements, and the program shows that China should always promote building a clean government and fighting corruption. The CPC should solve intra-Party issues and increase self-purification and self-improvement abilities of party members to create conditions for strict Party governance. Strictly running the CPC should start with governing political life within the Party, and the upcoming session will stipulate a regulation on political life within the Party under the new situation. Basic norms have long been set for CPC members, including seeking truth from facts, combining theory and practice, maintaining close ties with the masses, carrying out criticism and self-criticism, upholding the system of democratic centralism and observing Party discipline. The CPC now needs to stipulate new criteria during the session to strengthen its advantages. At the session, the committee will also revise the intra-Party supervision regulation to offer scientific and effective supervision, which, along with the regulation on political life within the Party, will act as a solid support. Enhancing intra-Party supervision is a requirement for a Marxist political party, and intra-Party supervision will drive supervision in other areas to provide a powerful guarantee for strict Party governance. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

The Xi-era Shanghai talent leaping up the Chinese Communist Party's job ladder (SCMP)
2016-10-27
Shanghai-based officials continue to show their influence on the national political stage through several senior appointments unveiled ahead of the Communist Party's five-yearly leadership reshuffle late next year. Despite President Xi Jinping spending less than a year as party chief of Shanghai, several of his colleagues from that era have been promoted to key jobs in the last few months after rising from modest positions. Since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, Shanghai has been the talent pool of senior officials in the party. Such figures range from Chen Yun, a Shanghai native and the second most powerful man in the party in the Deng Xiaoping era, to former president Jiang, who spent most of his career in the city. Shanghai is also regarded as a power base of former president Jiang Zemin, who continues to wield influence on the national political stage. Like Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, where Xi spent much of his career, the financial hub has become another source of senior officials for the president. Chen Hao, 62, was catapulted from the relative obscurity of a deputy chief of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions to become vice-governor and then governor of Yunnan province in 2014, two years after Xi became the Communist Party's general secretary. In June, Chen was named the province's party chief, an appointment all the more unusual because he is neither a full nor alternate member of the party's Central Committee, putting him outside the top 300 or so members. In the 15 years leading up to Chen's appointment, all those who filled Yunnan's top job were already Central Committee members when they took over the position. Chen was one of seven deputy chairs at Shanghai's municipal legislature during Xi's stint in the city nine years ago. Xi took over Shanghai's helm after party boss Chen Liangyu fell from grace in a corruption investigation. Shanghai native Du Jiahao was parachuted into the key province of Hunan in 2013, coming in from the cold of Heilongjiang where he was sent in 2007 in the aftermath of Chen Liangyu's downfall. Du, 61, was governor of Hunan before taking over as provincial party chief in August from Xu Shousheng, who stepped aside two years before the official retirement age. Xi and Du crossed paths in Shanghai when Du was party boss of Pudong district. Unlike Chen Hao, Du is an alternate member of the Central Committee but his predecessors over the past two decades were all full members before taking on the job. Hunan party chief is also a springboard for higher office, with Zhang Chunxian going on to become a Politburo member and Zhou Qiang becoming the country's top judge. The third of the rapid-rising trio is Xu Lin, 53, who was promoted to become the top internet regulator in June. Xu was a low-ranking civil affairs official in Shanghai in 2007 but two months after Xi's arrival, he advanced to membership of the party's Standing Committee in the city. Nine months after that, he was the party chief of Pudong district. By 2013, Xu was Shanghai's propaganda chief. He was reassigned as deputy director of the Cyberspace Administration of China last year, paving his way to take the role of overseeing the internet. But, Xu, too, is not yet on the Central Committee. All three promotions come in the lead-up to the party's five-yearly national congress next year, when the Central Committee will undergo a major reshuffle. Up to 11 seats in the 25-strong Politburo will also be vacated, including up to five in the Politburo Standing Committee. Chen Hao, Du and Xu are among the front runners to become full Central Committee members. They also add to Shanghai's long-standing, influential role in national politics. ^ top ^

Shanghai private schools warned to focus more on official subjects, including ideology (SCMP)
2016-10-26
Shanghai's education authority has warned local private schools not to focus on international curriculums at the expense of officially designated subjects, including ideology. The move comes as many Chinese parents increasingly choose a Western education for their children. Last week, the city's municipal education commission met the heads of more than 20 private schools catering to students aged six to 15, who by Chinese law must take compulsory classes in moral and political education classes. It banned the schools from teaching international subjects without them being combined with the “basic curriculum” developed by the central authorities, according to the minutes of the meeting later circulated on the internet. The minutes were later confirmed by local education workers. Although not a new requirement, some researchers and parents regard the warning as a reiteration of the importance of officially designated subjects on moral and political education because many private schools have cancelled such classes. Private schools offering international courses are growing in popularity in major cities such as Shanghai as an increasing number of parents choose to send their children to study abroad before they start university. While students at private schools need not pay for compulsory education, they usually charge fees totalling many thousands of yuan each semester. Many of these schools adopt international curriculums to attract Chinese pupils and deviate from the mainstream curriculum that includes ideology, as well as other subjects such as Chinese, mathematics and history. China's official curriculum requires primary and junior middle school pupils to study the subject of morality and rule of law, which covers mainly socialist values and politics. Xiong Bingqi, deputy head of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, said it was common for private schools to focus more on international curriculums because they believed this helped pupils perform better than those attending public schools and led to them being more sought after by parents. “These school are doing quite well – their pupils are either able to apply for oversea schools or adapt well to domestic examinations,” Xiong said. “It's just that some schools might have quit teaching the moral or ideology subjects.” Yang Yi, the mother of a teenager at Shanghai's United International School, a popular private school in the city, said that instead of her daughter studying morality and rule of law, she was taught how to handle social issues from a psychological perspective. “However, I recently heard that some pupils are required to recite moral slogans, just as we did during our time at school,” she said. “I guess the schools are aware of the rules and are now preparing for inspections [by the education authority].” Last week's meeting also called for all foreign investment to be stopped at these private schools, which are permitted to receive only domestic funding – prompting speculation that officials are further tightening controls over international courses preferred by parents in Shanghai and other megacities. The commission included a list of these rules in a statement on its official Weibo webpage in response to heated public discussions surrounding the meeting, saying it was merely trying to standardise the governance of private schools in accordance with existing policies. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Hydropower plans in Tibet won't impact downstream water supply – official (SCMP)
2016-10-27
Plans to build big hydropower stations in Tibet are designed to meet growing domestic demand for electricity and will not have a major impact on the ecosystem or on downstream water supplies, a senior government official said on Wednesday. Tibet could become the country's biggest hydropower generator, with its rivers capable of carrying a total capacity of 140 gigawatts, around a quarter of the national total potential capacity, according to official estimates. The mainland started commercial operations last year of the Zangmu hydropower facility, the biggest so far built in Tibet, and began building another plant in Shigatse earlier this year, also on the river Yarlung Tsangpo, the upstream section of the transboundary Brahmaputra. “Our hydropower development in Tibet falls under the country's broad sector planning and meets strict standards. They will not have much impact on the environment, or any impact on downstream water supplies,” Tang Haizhou, vice-chairman of the autonomous region, said. India and other downstream countries such as Vietnam have long expressed concern that China's upstream dams could disrupt their water supplies. Fresh concerns arose at the start of this month when Xinhua reported that a tributary of the Yarlung Tsangpo had been blocked for the construction of the 4.95 billion yuan (HK$5.66 billion) Laiho hydropower project, due to go into full operation in 2019. The 2,900km Brahmaputra flows southeast from Tibet through the Himalayas into northeast India's Arunachal Pradesh state before entering Bangladesh and merging with the lower section of the Ganges, before it empties into the Bay of Bengal. “The amount of water dammed is tiny compared to the total net river flows [in Tibet],” Tang said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

I'd have joined Occupy protests in my youth, new Hong Kong chief executive candidate declares (SCMP)
2016-10-28
The ex-judge running for Hong Kong's top job says he would have joined the city's Occupy protests if he were “50 years younger”, claiming teenagers thought their peers would look down on them if they did not join. Woo Kwok-hing also dismissed as “laughable” Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's suggestion that a change in Hong Kong's leadership might not solve the city's problems. Commenting on the pro-democracy Occupy movement of 2014 that failed to gain concessions from Beijing, Woo sought to explain why many teenagers took part. “You'd lose face if your peers asked if you went and you said you didn't,” he said on RTHK on Friday, a day after he launched his bid for Hong Kong's top job. Woo, 70, added he would have joined the movement if he were 50 years younger, saying he held radical views in his youth. He said the movement appealed even to those without a real ideal because there were “tents, free food, and chatting throughout the night”. Woo conceded he did not completely understand today's young people and would like to hear from them directly what led to their disappointment. Restarting the political reform process with an “honest” account of Hongkongers' voices, he said, was the only policy goal he was so far committed to. The former judge also took aim at Leung's remarks on Thursday. The chief executive said a new administration would not necessarily be able to tackle issues like housing and calls for the city's independence. He called Leung's contention “laughable”. “Without a change, the problems will forever be unresolved,” Woo said on Commercial Radio on Friday. “If we know that [Leung] has been wrong but we don't change [the leadership], then it will continue to be the same.” He said it was a principle of democracy to change the person in power if he proved dissatisfactory. “If it weren't for Leung Chun-ying being in power I wouldn't be running for chief executive right now,” he added. When asked if his candidacy posed a threat to the chief executive ambitions of Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, Woo admitted they might draw upon a similar base of support. But he would not say if he would eventually quit the race in order to help Tsang get elected. Woo added he found the city's daily immigration quota allowing 150 mainlanders to reunite with their family members in Hong Kong “very strange” and pledged to review the arrangement if elected. The policy has been cited by localists as a source of the city's “mainlandisation”. ^ top ^

Legco lunacy a valuable lesson for our students (SCMP)
2016-10-28
An alliance of school principals has expressed worries that the behaviour of public figures and social divisions are having a negative impact on young people and have created a huge challenge for educators. In a public statement, the group said some political parties and politicians showed no self-respect or respect for others. They shouted and insulted others, twisted facts, carried out personal attacks and created an extremely negative public climate. The educators said the quality of public debate and policymaking needed to improve and public figures should serve as role models for young pupils. They also called the Legislative Council a “solemn and august” place, which should not be used for political theatre and struggles. I am not sure Legco has ever been solemn and august. But it's now the perfect place for sycophants and malcontents. The personality and political clashes within it are a direct reflection of the deep cracks and pathologies in our society. I suspect many young people have an intuitive understanding of the nature of such conflicts. It's pointless to tell lawmakers to behave themselves. Actors have to act; politicians appeal to their base by playing up political struggles and conflicts. We all know things will only get worse, much worse, from here on. What's a teacher to do? Well, use a little creativity and turn controversial topics into teaching tools. Admirably, another group of senior educators has declared the need for teachers to help students discuss such minefields as localism and independence in a rational and informed manner. This is despite the stupid warnings from the chief executive and education minister against teachers advocating independence, essentially discouraging them from even talking about it. A good educator would have no difficulty guiding a discussion on the oath-taking controversy in Legco, the storming of the Legco chamber by localists, filibustering and the paralysis of our legislature. These are all rich live topics for political science. From Plato to Confucius, dialogue and questions and answers between teachers and students have always been the most effective education tools. Our politicians will never be good role models, but they do provide very useful teaching material. If the world is all stable and peaceful and everyone is happy, do we need educators? It's precisely in dark and dangerous times that they prove their worth – or worthlessness. ^ top ^

Actor who played Edward Snowden makes video appeal to help Hong Kong asylum seekers (SCMP)
2016-10-27
The actor who played Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone's film about the US intelligence whistle-blower launched a video Thursday describing the plight of the Hong Kong asylum seekers who sheltered the former NSA contractor in the city in 2013 and calling for donations to help them. Joseph Gordon-Levitt said in the video released at around 2am local time that Snowden “hid in a sort of unlikely place” while in Hong Kong. “He hid with a handful of refugees” from Sri Lanka and the Philippines, the actor said in the two-and-a-half minute video. “These four people and their families really put themselves at risk in order to help Snowden when he really needed help.” Gordon-Levitt, who played the title role in Oliver Stone's Snowden, said that while the former US intelligence contractor was able to get out of Hong Kong “these four folks and their families are still there and they're actually living in a really tough situation”. Last month it emerged that a Filipino family as well as a family and a man from Sri Lanka helped Snowden when he was in the city in 2013. Snowden had just fled his native United States and revealed classified documents showing mass online surveillance conducted by the US and other governments. He was granted asylum in Russia, where he still lives. In his video, Gordon-Levitt described life as a refugee in Hong Kong as “really difficult... They don't have enough support themselves, but they're also legally not allowed to work. And if they went home they would face way worse situations”. At the end of the video, the actor and filmmaker called for donations for the Hong Kong-based asylum seekers who helped Snowden, mentioning a fundraising campaign that aims to raise 100,000 euros. Gordon-Levitt said he was going to make a donation, but did not say how much. “For those of us who are really grateful for what Snowden did for our country and really for the whole world, I think this would be a nice way of saying thanks,” he said. The online campaign that started on October 5 had raised 16,156 euros (HK$136,622) as of 4pm Thursday. Earlier this month, the Sunday Morning Post reported that Snowden, journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras donated US$20,000 to the asylum seekers who sheltered the former NSA contractor in the city. Robert Tibbo, Snowden's lawyer in Hong Kong, said the asylum seekers have faced several difficulties. The Canadian barrister said the International Social Service, entrusted by Hong Kong authorities to provide assistance locally to asylum seekers, has refused to fulfil their basic needs. He said that when Filipino Vanessa Rodel asked for support to move to a new flat, the social services organisation asked her about the help she gave Snowden. “Vanessa moved to a new place on October 4 and none of that has been paid by the International Social Service,” Tibbo said. “They refused to pay for her deposit and the advanced one month rent. They were very clear on that.” Rodel and her daughter used to live in a subdivided flat adjacent to a brothel, he added. “In my view a four-year old girl and an adult woman should not be exposed to a sex trade business made at their door in a subdivided flat,” he continued. “ISS-HK should have intervened to protect the little girl and the family. But they have done the opposite.” Tibbo said the organisation was later willing to assist Rodel, but “at this stage they are not paying anything”. Earlier this month, an ISS-HK spokeswoman told the Post that it did not withhold assistance. “We would like to reassure that we have been offering accommodation, food, clothing and toiletries, transportation, utilities assistance (electricity and gas) to Ms Rodel since she signed a contract with us till now,” the spokeswoman said. Tibbo added that ISS-HK “has provided some assistance, but it refused to pay the full rent and the full electricity bills and it still does not provide enough food” to the other individuals who supported Snowden. ^ top ^

Delays in approving HPV vaccines in mainland China force women to seek shots in Hong Kong (SCMP)
2016-10-27
Delays in approvals on the Chinese mainland for HPV vaccines are prompting thousands women and girls to head across the border to Hong Kong for shots. Ming Gefan, who manages the Shenzhen branch of MJ HK Health Screening Centre in Guangdong province and helps mainland customers book appointments to take the shots in Hong Kong, said she noticed an uptick in demand for protection against human papillomavirus after the mainland gave regulatory approval earlier this year for Cervarix, a vaccine that guards against the virus. But while Cervarix was the only HPV vaccine approved for sale on the mainland, it would be taken off shelves in the United States by its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, due to weak demand, news outlet Fierce Pharma reported last week. Cervarix, which protects against two HPV strains that account for 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases, was approved by the China Food and Drug Administration in July and not expected to go on sale there until next year. An unidentified spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline was quoted as saying the company decided to stop supplying Cervarix in the US due to weak demand. HPV is sexually transmissible and infection is the leading cause of cervical cancer, the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide according to the World Health Organisation. There are many strains of HPV, with some strains producing warts on various parts of the body. Gardasil and Gardasil 9, produced by Merck and which protect against four strains and nine strains of HPV respectively that account for 90 per cent of cervical cancer cases – is also available in the US but not on the mainland. Shanghai-based Thepaper.cn quoted Merck as saying the company was still seeking regulatory approval from the Chinese authorities. Questions sent to GSK and the drug administration were not immediately answered. About 50 countries have added HPV vaccines to their national immunisation programme, but the mainland has been relatively late in doing so. Ming said many mainlanders learned of the vaccine on the internet. “Those with a progressive mindset are going to take the vaccine shot, especially after China approved Cervarix,” she said. “They go to Hong Kong to choose the vaccine that offers wider protection, against four strains of HPV or even nine strains.” Ming said the Hong Kong clinic regularly gave 5,000 HPV shots a month and up to 300 injections on busy days. The youngest client was nine years old and the oldest a woman in her 70s. Not all came from Guangdong province, with some making the journey from as far away as Inner Mongolia, she said. A previous GSK statement said cervical cancer was the second most common cancer among Chinese women aged 15 to 44, with an estimated 130,000 new cases seen every year. Research shows that early treatment can prevent up to 80 per cent of cases. ^ top ^

National People's Congress might step in to interpret Basic Law if oath-taking case ends up in Court of Final Appeal, scholar warns (SCMP)
2016-10-26
The National People's Congress might eventually have to interpret the Basic Law if the case involving the swearing in of two localist lawmakers ended up in the Court of Final Appeal, a Hong Kong academic warned. Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, also said on Wednesday that the new Legislative Council president would offend Beijing if he let duo retake their oaths. The scholar's comments came after Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen decided on Tuesday to delay the swearing-in of the two localists, making a de facto U-turn on his earlier plan for the two to take a fresh oath. But the pair – Youngspiration's Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching – have vowed to force their way into the meeting nonetheless. During their first oath-taking on October 12, the duo pledged loyalty to “the Hong Kong nation” and pronounced China as “Chee-na”, similar to the derogatory “Shina” used by Japan during the second world war. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying then mounted a court challenge to ban the duo from retaking their vows. Andrew Leung said administration of the oaths for the pair would be deferred until the Court of First Instance had ruled on the judicial review. The hearing is set for November 3. Speaking on a RTHK programme on Wednesday morning, Lau said that the Legco president's reversal was a “painful” decision made to strike a balance between the demands of the pro-establishment camp and the opposition forces, and “deliver the least harm”. Pro-establishment lawmakers have threatened to walk out again on Wednesday to protest any move to allow the pair to swear in. “If he did not change the decision, he would offend Beijing, the SAR government, all pro-establishment lawmakers and the public will,” Lau said. The scholar said he did not rule out the possibility that Beijing would come forward if the situation escalated to an extent that posed a threat to national security. “The SAR government would definitely appeal to a higher court if it lost the judicial review in the Court of First Instance.” “There is no question that the government will ask the court to request an interpretation of the Basic Law by the National People's Congress Standing Committee by then,” he added. ^ top ^

Hong Kong waiter jailed four years over cheating bid in District Council elections (SCMP)
2016-10-26
A waiter accused of cheating during the District Council elections last year – by offering money to localist parties to take on pan-democrat contenders under the instructions of someone said to be a mainland official – was jailed for four years on Wednesday. Passing sentence on Cheng Wing-kin, District Court judge Pang Chung-ping noted that Cheng attempted to not only tamper with one constituency, but also tried to convince a number of individuals to take part in various districts – offering up to HK$250,000 to those willing to run in constituencies deemed critical. “The court has repeatedly stressed fairness and impartiality [to be] the elements of a corruption-free election,” Pang said, calling the crime “extremely serious”. He said these crimes would damage voters' confidence and result in bad influence in the long term for Hong Kong's democratic development. “To protect the integrity of [polls], the court would have to hand down a deterrent sentence on those who cheat in elections,” he said. Cheng, 31, offered localist groups more than HK$850,000 for them to win 200 votes in specified constituencies in the District Council elections last November, in an apparent bid to pit them against pan-democratic candidates. His former girlfriend testified earlier that Cheng worked for a Putonghua-speaking “Boss Li”, whom he thought was from Beijing's United Front Work Department. He denied six counts of engaging in corrupt conduct in elections, in that he offered funding of between HK$150,000 and HK$200,000 last summer to five individuals, including Youngspiration lawmaker Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang. None of them took the money. The constituencies targeted included Lai Kok in Sham Shui Po, where long-time councillor Frederick Fung Kin-kee lost his seat in a heated race. Leung, who is barred temporarily from retaking his oath, publicised a recording of his meeting with Cheng and unveiled the waiter's plot. Cheng, also an online radio host, claimed during the trial that he was gathering information for a programme. But the judge found him dishonest and asked why he had not made any recordings. Cheng is also convicted over an extra count of conspiracy to engage in corrupt conduct with renovation worker Ku Ka-ho, 32, founder of political group All People Spontaneous, and merchant Chan Kin-loong. Ku and Chan, 37, were sentenced to 30 and 28 months respectively for the HK$36,000 pocketed by the latter. ^ top ^

Explained: walkouts and oath-taking controversy at start of Legco term (SCMP)
2016-10-26
What's happened in the past two weeks? On October 12 at the opening of the new Legco term, lawmakers took centre stage and declared the standard oath to be formally inducted to the chamber. Youngspiration's Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching decided to alter their oaths and instead pledged allegiance to “the Hong Kong nation”, referring to the sovereign state as “Chee-na”, a variation of the derogatory “Shina” used by Japan for China during the second world war. They also produced a banner that read “Hong Kong is not China”. They had their oaths declared invalid by Legco secretary-general Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen. Leung later said he would allow them to re-take their oaths properly if they wrote to him to do so. But a day before the second meeting on October 19, the government filed an emergency lawsuit arguing that the pair be disqualified immediately. The court struck down a request for an injunction but allowed the judicial review case to be heard on November 3 over the Legco president's decision to allow a second chance for them. Outside the chamber, voices criticising the pair grew louder as groups demanded they issue an apology for insulting China and Chinese people with their derogatory remarks. The pair dug their heels in, insisting they had done nothing wrong. On the day of the second meeting however, pro-establishment lawmakers staged a walkout, causing the meeting to be aborted as a result of a lack of quorum. What will likely happen at the third meeting on Wednesday? Andrew Leung yesterday decided to delay the swearing-in of the two localists, making a de facto U-turn on his earlier agreement for the two to take a fresh oath. The reversal took place after pro-establishment lawmakers threatened to walk out again to protest any move to allow the pair to swear in. Leung and Yau have vowed to force their way into the meeting nonetheless, saying the president has no right to delay their oath-taking. What are the legal arguments for continuing with or suspending their oath-taking? The Court of First Instance has ruled against the government's request for an injunction of the oath-taking, meaning there is no immediate legal ground for suspending the process. Lawyers for the Legco president argued in court that to refuse them from taking a fresh oath could deprive democratically elected lawmakers of their constitutional duties, constituting “disastrous” results once the move faced a legal challenge. But at the hearing, Johnny Mok Shiu-luen SC, representing the government argued that the Basic Law provision on oath-taking in Article 104 was intended to put emphasis on China's sovereignty. “These people are sending a message to the world and also to the public that we can function as a member of Legco without pledging allegiance to the HKSAR of the People's Republic of China,” he said. To allow them to take the oath again, Mok added, would “create a state of confusion as to what is the meaning of the further acts undertaken”, which could include initiating bills or giving speeches in Legco. Legco president Leung has cited Article 72 of the Basic Law which allows the Legco president to decide on the agenda. He is using this Article to reshuffle the agenda and defer the oath-taking to a later stage. This is so, even though according to Rule 18 of Legco's rules of procedures, oath-taking is designated as the first priority of the order of Legco's business. Earlier, before Leung decided to defer the oath-taking, pro-government lawmakers were mulling the possibility of invoking Rule 91, by which a lawmaker can, with the president's consent, table a motion suspending a Rule (in this case, Rule 18), so the president does not need to deal with the duo's oath first. ^ top ^

District council votes against suspending controversial Wang Chau housing project (SCMP)
2016-10-25
Yuen Long district council on Tuesday voted against suspending the Wang Chau building project, which the government controversially dropped two phases of after meetings with rural leaders. But the administration's decision over the site continued to anger councillors from both sides of the political divide. In 2014 the council passed the plan to build 4,000 public flats on the heavily vegetated green belt site. But many councillors have said the government never told them about the plan to build 13,000 more in two other phases on the site, leading them to make an uninformed decision. It transpired this year that the government had set aside those two phases, on a brownfield plot – degraded agricultural land currently home to car parks, container storage and recycling yards – after informal meetings with powerful rural leaders in 2013. Zachary Wong Wai-yin, a Democratic Party district councillor, said the government also misled the council by saying the green belt development would only affect about 20 houses. The government said later that at least 180 households would be displaced. “We were misled by wrong statistics to make an unjustified decision,” said Wong. Wong Wai-shun, of the New People's Party, said the government should learn a lesson from subsequent outrage over the informal meetings. “[The meetings] were not open, were unjustified and unfair,” he said. “It was such selective consultation that led some councillors to be uninformed.” Representatives from the Housing Department said the government decided to prioritise the green belt development because it needed less work. The non-binding motion to restart consultation on the two plans as a whole was rejected, with five voting for, nine against and seven abstaining. Around 10 rural representatives on the council did not attend the meeting, including Tsang Shu-wo, who controlled a large car park on the brownfield site. Leung Fuk-yuen, chair of rural affairs consultative body Shap Pat Heung Rural Committee, said if the public criticised informal meetings with rural representatives as collusion, there was no point in further discussions on New Territories development plans. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan, Japan to hold talks over maritime, fishing dispute (SCMP)
2016-10-27
Taiwan and Japan will begin the first round of negotiations next week to set up a mechanism for cooperation on maritime affairs near Okinotori, the southernmost point of Japanese territory. The talks will be held in Tokyo on Monday, the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry said. The talks, aimed at addressing maritime problems that have developed over the years between Taiwan and Japan, will cover issues including emergency rescue, scientific research and fishing near Okinotori, Foreign Minister David Lee told reporters on Thursday. The two sides had initially agreed to meet in Taipei on July 28, shortly after President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May, but the meeting was postponed because Taiwan wanted more time to prepare. Lee said Taiwan's short-term goal on fisheries was to “at least let our fishermen continue fishing in what Japan considers its exclusive economic zone around Okinotori”. Taiwan hopes the meeting could be held once a year, or more often if necessary. The foreign minister later announced in a statement that the Taiwan delegation would be headed by Tsai Ming-yao, secretary general of the Association of East Asian Relations, the Taiwanese body in charge of ties with Japan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations. The association's chairman, Chiou I-jen, will also attend the talks as an adviser as Taiwan's government attaches great importance to the issue, the statement said. “We hope both sides could establish a sound communication channel and close relationship of cooperation on maritime affairs based on reciprocity and mutual trust,” it added. A Taiwanese fishing boat and its crew members were detained for fishing in Japan's self-declared exclusive economic zone near Okinotori in April. The boat and its crew were released a few days later following negotiations that led to the payment of a fine. Taiwan argues that Taiwanese fishermen should be allowed to fish in the area, which it considers international waters. The Tsai administration takes a different position from that of her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou's administration on the legal status of Okinotori. The Ma government saw the outcropping in the Pacific as rocks and not an island, a distinction that would disqualify Japan from entitlement to a 200-nautical mile economic exclusion zone around Okinotori under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Tsai administration, however, said in late May that it “does not hold any specific position” on its status and that it is up to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to decide whether Okinotori qualifies as islands or rocks. ^ top ^

Taiwan's cross-strait export of phone scams 'no good for island', former president says (SCMP)
2016-10-27
Taiwan has exported a highly undesirable “service” to the mainland – telecoms fraud, according to the island's former leader. In a lecture in Taipei on Tuesday, former president Ma Ying- jeou said Taiwanese fraud rings helped train mainland telecoms scammers to swindle money from victims also from the mainland. “This is no good for Taiwan, to export such a service,” he told a packed auditorium at Soochow University. Ma said almost everyone in Taiwan had received calls from phone fraudsters “but since the mainland started cracking down on telecoms scammers, the rate of phone fraud dropped almost immediately”. Ma, who was invited by the university to speak on cross-border crimes committed by people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait, said the two sides must work together to stamp out the criminal activity. “However, since the transfer of power on May 20, the mainland has no longer worked with Taiwan because of political factors,” he said, referring to Beijing's suspension of communications with President Tsai Ing-wen's new government. Tsai, of the independence- leaning Democratic Progressive Party, beat the mainland-friendly Kuomintang in January's presidential election. She has refused to explicitly acknowledge the “1992 consensus” and its one-China principle, which Beijing insists on as a political foundation if the two sides are to continue talks and exchanges. Ma said that because of the suspension, there was not much that could be done by the Mainland Affairs Council – Taiwan's top mainland policy planning body – or its proxy – the Straits Exchange Foundation. “Therefore, the two agencies must find ways to break the ice under a peaceful and rational basis,” he said. During Ma's tenure, Taiwan and the mainland signed an agreement in 2009 to jointly fight cross-strait crimes. Telecoms fraud, once rampant in Taiwan, was one of the crimes the sides teamed up to combat. According to local media, many Taiwanese scammers began setting up fraud operations outside Taiwan from 2010, first in Southeast Asia and later in East Africa, and recruited mainlanders to help run them. In recent years, the mainland has been fighting a tough battle against a wave of telecoms fraud that has inflicted billions of dollars in financial losses on mainland victims. Beijing has accused Taipei of failing to impose tough penalties, with fraudsters caught abroad and deported back to Taiwan often serving no more than a year of jail time or going free when courts rule there is a “lack of evidence”. ^ top ^

Taiwan may try to tempt mainland Chinese tourists with longer-stay visas as visitor numbers take hit from strained ties (SCMP)
2016-10-27
Tourism authorities in Taiwan might propose extending the maximum stay of mainland visitors as worsening cross-strait ties continue to hurt the island's tourism sector, Central News Agency reported yesterday. People working in the tourism industry had been urging the government to allow mainland travellers coming under the Individual Visit Scheme to stay for as long as 30 days, the report said. Residents of 47 mainland cities can spend up to 15 days on the island per visit. Travel industry asks Taiwan's government to tackle fall in mainland Chinese tourists since President Tsai Ing-wen took office Tourism officials said they would also review measures to make it easier for mainlanders – the largest source of tourists for Taiwan – to obtain tourist visas. The number of mainland visitors to Taiwan has fallen sharply since the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party came to power in May. About 215,000 mainland tourists visited Taiwan in September – a 37.8 per cent decline compared with the same period last year, CNA reported. From October 1 to 18 – traditionally a popular season for mainland tourists – Taiwan saw 95,000 mainland tourists, a year-on-year fall of 47.8 per cent. A cross-strait visit by the head of the opposition Kuomintang starting Sunday was unlikely to help the ailing industry, analysts said. KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu is expected to discuss cross-strait economic development and civilian exchanges with President Xi Jinping on November 1. The number of mainland tourists to Taiwan quadrupled from 2008 to 2015 when Taiwan was ruled by the Beijing-friendly KMT. The travel industry is worried by its dwindling income since President Tsai Ing-wen's election win. In her first National Day speech as president, she did not commit to the “1992 consensus”, deemed by Beijing a precondition of resuming bilateral talks, which states Taiwan is a part of China. Hu Lingwei, a Taiwan affairs specialist at the Shanghai Institute of East Asian Studies, said Beijing had stopped encouraging its people to travel to Taiwan because of the cross-strait strains, and the mainland would not change its mind just because of Hung's visit this week. “The political trust between the KMT and the Communist Party is already established,” Hu said. “The key is whether the DPP will show a shift in attitude.” ^ top ^

CPC, KMT leaders meeting significant for cross-Strait ties: spokesperson (Xinhua)
2016-10-26
A meeting between the leaders of the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang (KMT) party will be significant for safeguarding the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, a Chinese mainland spokesperson said Wednesday. An Fengshan, spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, made the remarks in regard to the upcoming visit of Hung Hsiu-chu, leader of the KMT in Taiwan. Hung is scheduled to lead a delegation to visit the mainland from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3, the mainland-based office said Monday. Under the current situation, interaction between the two parties and efforts to consolidate common political ground will have a positive impact on keeping peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, An said. There have been many meetings between leaders of the two parties in the past. In 2005 when cross-Strait ties were at a critical moment, the heads of the two parties held a "historic meeting" confirming their adherence to the 1992 Consensus, which affirms the one-China principle and opposes "Taiwan independence." An said the agreement to regularly communicate made at that meeting pointed to a "bright road" for the cross-Strait ties to develop. Since then, the two parties have maintained communication, which has contributed to peaceful relations, the spokesperson said. An said the two parties and both sides of the Taiwan Strait have opened a new chapter in the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties and have made a series of achievements since 2008. Those achievements were possible because the two sides established common political ground by upholding the 1992 Consensus and opposing "Taiwan independence." An pointed out that it is crucial for both parties to maintain sound communication to ensure the development of peaceful cross-Strait relations. ^ top ^

Beijing blasts Taipei over 'meddling in Hong Kong affairs' (SCMP)
2016-10-25
Beijing has criticised Taiwan for intervening in Hong Kong's affairs while warning the island's separatists that they would never divide the territory from China even if they teamed with up with the city's localist activists. The comments came after two localist Hong Kong lawmakers, Youngspiration's Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, whose swearing-in oaths for the Legislative Council were invalidated earlier this month, called for the territory to “insulate” itself from the mainland during a seminar in Taipei on Hong Kong's localist movement. Taiwanese officials also said last week that they would closely watch the oath-taking row. An Fengshan, spokesman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said Beijing was “highly concerned” about Taiwan intervening in Hong Kong's affairs. “We resolutely oppose Taiwan authorities intervening in Hong Kong's implementation of 'one country, two systems',” An said. He said collusion between Taiwan and Hong Kong independence advocates in their attempts to divide the country's unity would never succeed, and that they would be opposed by compatriots across the Taiwan Strait as well as of Hong Kong. Chiu Chui-cheng, a deputy chief of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, was quoted by the United Daily News as saying on Thursday that both Leung and Yau were popularly elected with popular mandates, and called on Beijing and Hong Kong to respect public opinion and fully implement “one country, two systems”. Chiu said the MAC would follow closely Leung and Yau's oath-taking row. The Hong Kong government responded by telling Taiwan to stay out its affairs. The MAC said later it did not intend to intervene in Hong Kong's affairs, but would observe its implementation of “one country, two systems” as it was “a common concern to international society, including Taiwan”. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

China mulls building bridges to assist North Korea's flood-hit areas (SCMP)
2016-10-26
China is considering building temporary floating bridges to transport relief goods to areas of North Korea hit by severe flooding, an official said on Wednesday. “This is a humanitarian relief operation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing, when asked about a North Korean media report a day earlier saying that officials from the two countries discussed in Pyongyang issues related to building “new bridges” in their border areas. The heavy rains caused the Tumen River, which runs between the two neighbouring countries, to overflow, leaving hundreds of people dead or missing in North Korea's northeastern areas. As the areas' infrastructure has been severely damaged and at the request of North Korea, China is planning to build the bridges on the river to facilitate the passage of relief supplies, Lu said. Lu stressed that China, as a neighbour of North Korea and a “major responsible country”, believes the construction is part of its humanitarian obligations. Lu's remarks came as Chinese Foreign Vice-Minister Liu Zhenmin is visiting North Korea for the third meeting of a joint border commission in Pyongyang. Liu and his North Korean counterpart Pak Myong-guk attended the meeting, which was also joined by officials of public security, environmental protection, transport, water conservancy, national defence and port affairs from the two countries, state-run Xinhua reported. The two sides reviewed the implementation of the agreement on the border management system since the second meeting and had an in-depth exchange of opinion on law enforcement and control of the border, cross-border infrastructure, cooperation in border regions and ports opening, where consensus was reached. Pyongyang appreciated the assistance given by the Chinese in relief efforts after the flooding of the Tumen River and post-disaster reconstruction. The two sides expressed their willingness to continue to make good use of the joint commission mechanism and strengthen communication and collaboration to jointly safeguard peace and stability of the border areas. They also exchanged views on other issues concerning bilateral relations. Liu was accompanied on the trip – the first known visit since February by a high-ranking Chinese official – by more than 10 Chinese officials. He arrived in Pyongyang a day after a two-day closed-door meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between former US diplomats and senior Pyongyang officials. The meeting was confirmed by South Korean and US governments. Relations between Beijing and Pyongyang face uncertainty with China expressing dismay over North Korea's nuclear programme. ^ top ^

China, DPRK hold 3rd meeting of joint border commission (Xinhua)
2016-10-26
China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Wednesday wrapped up the third meeting of a joint border commission in Pyongyang. The two sides reviewed the implementation of the agreement on the border management system since the second meeting and had an in-depth exchange of opinion on law enforcement and control of the border, cross-border infrastructure, cooperation in border regions and ports opening, where consensus was made. The DPRK side appreciated the assistance given by the Chinese side in relief efforts after the flooding of the Tumen River and post-disaster reconstruction. The two sides expressed their willingness to continue to make good use of the joint commission mechanism and strengthen communication and collaboration to jointly safeguard peace and stability of the border areas. They also exchanged views on other issues concerning bilateral relations. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong Guk attended the meeting. Present at the meeting were officials of public security, environmental protection, transport, water conservancy, national defense and port affairs from the two countries. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese official visits North Korea, suggesting ties unaffected by Pyongyang's nuclear tests (SCMP)
2016-10-25
China's deputy foreign minister Liu Zhenmin arrived in North Korea's capital on Monday, suggesting that diplomatic contacts between the two neighbouring countries remain unaffected by Pyongyang's continued nuclear and missile development activities. The Chinese delegation of more than 10 officials led by Liu arrived at Pyongyang's international airport on Monday. This is the first known visit by a high-ranking Chinese diplomat since February, when the country's top nuclear envoy, Wu Dawei, travelled to Pyongyang. The Chinese delegation is in North Korea to attend a meeting of the two countries' border joint committee, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency said, without elaborating what issues would be addressed. In addition to being in charge of China's relations with other Asian countries, Liu's areas of responsibility include boundary and maritime affairs. The main purpose of the visit may be unrelated to North Korea's nuclear issue. But it comes as members of the UN Security Council negotiate on how best to punish North Korea for its fifth nuclear test in September. Amid swirling speculation that North Korea may conduct its sixth nuclear test or go ahead with another satellite launch using banned ballistic missile technology, it would be little wonder if Liu asked about Pyongyang's real intentions during his trip. The United States and its allies, including Japan and South Korea, have urged China, North Korea's most important ally, to play a bigger role in reining in its nuclear ambitions. But China has said numerous times that it does not hold the key to resolving the nuclear issue, but rather the US and the North Korea should resolve each other's concerns. Liu's arrival comes a day before the 66th anniversary of the Chinese volunteer army's participation in the Korean War. It remains to be seen whether the Chinese delegation will mark the anniversary together with North Koreans. ^ top ^

China encourages dialogue between US,DPRK (Xinhua)
2016-10-24
China encourages dialogue and engagement in whatever forms as long as it facilitates getting the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue back on the negotiation track, said the Chinese foreign ministry Monday. Spokesperson Lu Kang made the remarks when asked to comment on the unofficial talks held between the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from Oct. 21 to 22 in Kuala Lumpur. "We have noticed relevant reports," said Lu, adding that the origin, crux and essence of the DPRK nuclear issue is the country's conflicts with the United States. Participants at the closed door talks included DPRK deputy Foreign Minister Han Song-Ryol and Robert Gallucci, who served as US chief negotiator with the DPRK in the 1990s. The meeting came after DPRK conducted its fifth nuclear test in September. China has consistently encouraged the relevant sides to hold talks and engage with one another, so as to increase the possibility that the peninsular nuclear issue can be solved peacefully and appropriately, Lu said. ^ top ^

China's coal imports from North Korea fall amid calls for tougher sanctions over nuclear tests (SCMP)
2016-10-24
China's coal imports from North Korea in September fell by more than a quarter from August, customs data showed, after a push from the United States last month to punish North Korea for its recent nuclear test with a tougher ban on its coal exports. Data from the General Administration of Customs released on Monday showed China imported 1.8 million tonnes of anthracite coal from North Korea last month. That was 27 per cent below the 2.465 million tonnes imported in August, which was the highest since at least the start of 2016. Anthracite is a high-grade hard coal that Chinese buyers use mainly for steel and ceramic manufacture, as well as for blending with other coal types to burn to generate power. China announced in April it would ban North Korean coal imports to comply with the UN sanctions on the country, although it made exemptions for deliveries intended for “livelihood purposes”. North Korea carried out its fifth and largest nuclear test in September. The September imports were up two per cent from the same time a year ago. For the first nine months of 2016, North Korea provided about 13 per cent of China's total coal imports, data showed. China's total coal imports surged 20 per cent from a year ago last month after government-enforced closures of mines continued to tighten domestic supplies, raising prices and forcing utilities to source more foreign feedstock. Indonesian imports in September to the world's top coal producer and consumer climbed 65.6 per cent from a year earlier to 3.74 million tonnes, although purchases from top supplier Australia eased to 5.86 million tonnes, down 4.5 per cent from a year ago. Imports from Mongolia in September rose 187 per cent year-on-year to 2.74 million tonnes. North Korea's anthracite typically trades through Dandong, in northeast China near the China-North Korean border, and also through ports in the eastern provinces of Shandong and Jiangsu, according to traders familiar with the trade. Dandong authorities have imposed some curbs on North Korean coal since around April, according to Liu Dongna, a coal expert with Sublime China Information and another coal trader who previously dealt with North Korean coal. China is North Korea's closest ally and largest trading partner. It has become increasingly critical of the North's nuclear programme, but prizes stability on the Korean peninsula. China's North Korean coal imports in April fell 35 per cent from March to 1.53 million tonnes after the UN sanctions were adopted. But they rose through to August. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

“Regaining investors' confidence is top priority for this Government” (Montsame)
2016-10-28
Head of the incumbent Government J.Erdenebat along with the cabinet members called a press conference on Thursday to report about the key actions taken by the Government in the first 100 days in power. The population of Mongolia reached three million four thousand and two hundred by today, the Premier started his statement. In the past 100 days, Mongolia welcomed 28,938 newborns, said Mr J.Erdenebat. He continued his speech about the newly launched “Paid Mothers” programme, which is offering monthly child care allowances to mothers with children aged 0-3 years. The government has also resolved to allow cash aid to single parents with three or more children. The government is pursuing “more of us means more power” principle, he went on. Amidst the economic recession, the cabinet has revised 2016 Government Budget and the 2017 Government Budget assumptions in such a short period of time, along with the program for overcoming the economic difficulties and ensuring sustainble economic growth, to the Parliament. In the past 100 days, tax accounts of 3,993 entities have been re-opened to enable them to compensate the social insurance and income tax payables. The cabinet has also presented draft amendments to the law on companies' income tax, designing tax discounts for companies with annual sales income of less than MNT 1.5 billion. The economy faces numerous challenges as the foreign investments decline and businesses slow down. To restore the lost reputation of Mongolian economy is the top priority of this government, noted the Prime Minister. Therefore, the cabinet has set up a Council in charge of receiving and responding to the complaints and proposals of investors. In order to practicing tangible support for livelihoods of families, especially, of students, the government directed the universities not to raise the tuition fee, and has established the Educational Loan Fund, which is capable of allowing tuition fee loans to 70 thousand students studying in tertiary education institutions. This government decided to resume the mortgage loan for housing apartments, with an annual interest rate of 8% and pre-payment that will depend on the size of the apartment. In its first 100 days of operation, the Ministry of Health could decrease the retail price of the Harvoni medication for the patients with Hepatitis C, and launched the Whole Liver Mongolia Programme. The government is bearing all expenses of Mongolian citizens, who require the treatment of hemodialysis in the public hospitals. Upon completing his statement, the Prime Minister answered questions from reporters. ^ top ^

Mongolbank and World Bank officials cooperating on bill drafting (Montsame)
2016-10-27
Member of the State Great Khural B.Undarmaa received delegates from the Bank of Mongolia and the World Bank representatives led by the Country Manager James Anderson on Wednesday. The latter talked about a bill on National Payment System, to be submitted to the Parliament next year. The short introduction to the proposed bill was presented by the central bank officials. When adopted, the law will require making amendments to several other laws. This will allow building an integrated system throughout the country and will benefit to the banking and finance organizations. The World Bank is rendering technical assistance in preparing of the bill, said Mr James Anderson and added the cooperation will continue until 2020. B.Undarmaa MP extended a gratitude to the World Bank for the technical assistance and noted the bill should aim at achieving stable economic growth. ^ top ^

Ban Ki Moon congratulates on 55 years of successful partnership (Montsame)
2016-10-27
The 55th anniversary of Mongolians of officially joining the peoples of the United Nations befalls on this day. Mr Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General dedicated a congratulatory message to Mongolians on this occasion on October 21. It reads: “It is a great pleasure to congratulate the Government and people of Mongolia on the 55th anniversary of Mongolia's membership of the United Nations. Our partnership began when United Nations agencies first became engaged in Mongolia in the early 1960s. Today, 11 United Nations Funds, Agencies and Programmes are present in the country, working to support sustainable development and improve the lives of all Mongolians. Mongolia has been active in promoting all three pillars of the UN's work: human rights, peace and security and sustainable development. On human rights, I commend the leaders and people of Mongolia for their commitment to a democratic vision for their country, which will support efforts to fight poverty and promote dignity, justice, peace and prosperity. Mongolia's commitment to global peace and security is demonstrated by the deployment of more than 900 Mongolian troops to six UN peace operations. Mongolia has declared itself a nuclear-weapon-free zone, and has contributed to regional trust-building by facilitating dialogue with neighbouring countries. And Mongolia has made a strong start on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, by integrating the 17 Sustainable Development Goals into its national development plan. I also thank Mongolia for the prompt ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change. My visit to Mongolia in 2009 was truly memorable. I hope the natural beauty and traditional culture of Mongolia will be maintained along with peace and prosperity for many years to come. Congratulations on 55 years of successful partnership! We look forward to even stronger relations in the years ahead”. ^ top ^

Parliament discussing tax discount for small companies (Montsame)
2016-10-27
The Parliament is running the first reading of the draft amendments to the Law on Income Tax on Entities on October 27. The amendments suggest reducing the tax rate for companies with annual sales income of less than MNT 1.5 billion, by 90 percent. Thereby, this applies to the companies engaged in food, clothing, textile and construction materials productions, land-farming and animal husbandry. When adopted, the amendments will enable these companies to enjoy the tax discount between 1 January 2017 and 1 January 2021. The conclusion by the corresponding standing committee was introduced by Ts.Davaasuren MP. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-10-26
At today's regular meeting, the cabinet discussed issues regarding the law enforcement, bills for pensioners and heard presentations by the Ministry of Justice. Additionally, the ministers approved the Plan of actions to be taken for implementing the Government Program of Actions. The Plan has 383 objectives under 4 principal goals concerning social, economic, environmental and governance visions. -The cabinet resolved to submit the draft program on overcoming the economic difficulties and stabilization to the Parliament, after reflecting the recommendations from the cabinet members. -The draft amendments to the Law on Customs Tariffs and Taxes will be submitted to the parliament. -The cabinet also approved the draft Cooperation MoU between Mongolia and the UNESCO for 2016-2021, and the Intergovernmental Agreement between Mongolia and Canada on Protecting and Promoting Investments. -The ministers discussed and principally backed the issue of joining the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement, and decided to consoliate with the corresponding standing committee of the State Great Khural. ^ top ^

Bill to be presented in favor of pensioners (Montsame)
2016-10-26
In considering the draft revised law on allowing additional benefits and discounts for seniors, the cabinet decided to submit it to the State Great Khural (Parliament). Regardless of the current economic situation, the law initiators have worked out the draft with a vision to ensure wellbeing and comfort of the elder citizens, to provide them more opportunities to pass down their knowledge and experiences to the younger generations and to enable them to take active parts in the social life. The government provided for the allowance of Longevity Grant for the elders, aged above 65 in its program of actions. The new wording of the law allocates MNT 750 million of budget for encouraging the senior citizens' participation in policymaking, allowing broader access to public services, organizing workshops on personal development, and providing clearer and accessible information on pensioner-related actions by the government. ^ top ^

Cabinet focuses on economic transparency law observance (Montsame)
2016-10-26
At the regular meeting of the Cabinet, held on Wednesday, the Minister of Finance, B.Choijilsuren reported about the course of the implementation of the Law on Glass Account (Economic Transparency). The related line ministers and budget managers were assigned to organize internal audits on the enforcement of the Glass Account Law, make sure its observance in due way, and to impose corresponding responsibilities on the officials, who have failed to do. Chairman of the State Property Policy and Adjustment Department Ts.Nyam-Osor was tasked to improve monitoring of the law implementation. The cabinet directed the heads of all levels of budget organizations the Glass Account Law applies to, to keep updating their information on their websites. ^ top ^

Over 1,500 households receive access to electricity (Montsame)
2016-10-25
In the last three months, 1,562 households in Ulaanbaatar were connected to power grids. According to a survey, the capital city numbers more than 10 thousand households that still do not have access to electricity. MNT 2.0 billion has been allocated for this purpose by the Regulatory Committee on Energy and the Ulaanbaatar Power Grid System state-owned company, in compliance with the Ministerial Order issued on August 26, 2016. The new power grid installations were executed between September 5 and October 3, reports the Ministry of Energy. ^ top ^

Polling in soums completes (Montsame)
2016-10-24
Candidates from the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) to the khurals citizens' representatives of soums (rural administrative units) are dominating by winning in 215 soums, while the candidates from the Democratic Party (DP) have attained the majority of votes in 87 soums. Mongolia has a total of 331 soums. The preliminary results of the polling was announced today by the General Election Committee. The additional polling ended on October 23, with the final voter turnout of 63.2 percent on average for 21 provinces and 60.1 percent on the national level. Coalitions of DP and the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) claimed victory in 11 soums of Tov (Central) provinces, while the independent candidates secured seats in the citizens' khurals of nine soums of Dundgovi province. ^ top ^

UNWTO encourages Mongolia to become the heart of world nomadic tourism (Montsame)
2016-10-24
Minister of Environment and Green Development D.Oyunkhorol noted “Mongolia will be the heart of nomadic tourism” at today's press statement in the light of the Government's first 100 days. One of the key actions, taken in the last three months, is the International Silk Road Conference hosted in Ulaanbaatar, she added. The United Nations World Tourism Organization has pledged its support in establishing a Center for Nomadic Tourism and encouraged Mongolia to become the center of world nomadic tourism and the regional leader. This is the very time for Mongolia to promote tourism growth, the Minister went on. The government will put more effort to raise the number of employees in tourism - the waste-free industry - from 50 thousand to 100 thousand, she said. It is of high importance for Mongolia's tourism to foster infrastructural development in Khentii, the birthplace of Chinggis Khaan, she said and added a tourism complex is planned to be built in Dadal soum of Khentii province in this spirit. She also stated that the Ministry is making endeavors to resume the Air Pollution Fund's function, having this issue and the draft budget of MNT 5.0 billion reflected in the government budget assumptions for 2017. Working groups have been set up to handle environmental pollution problems around Onon and Balj rivers of Khentii, Orkhon river of Arkhangai and Eroo river of Selenge province, and pertinent decisions have been made to intervene mining operations near these rivers, Ms Oyunkhorol noted. Regarding the dried up Lake Ganga of Sukhbaatar province, she said the main cause of the incident was connected to the climate change, especially, overheat. The Lake has been recovering thanks to the prompt measures, including the building up of fences around the springs that feed the lake and evacuation of livestock herding families near the lake's water sources. According to the high-ranking officials, the Ministry has been preparing a bill on environmental rehabilitation for submission to the Parliament. ^ top ^

Specialized Inspection Agency, US Department of Energy cooperating in nuclear safety (Montsame)
2016-10-24
The Chairman of the General Agency for Specialized Inspection, G.Sugarbat received Friday US Department of Energy delegates. The sides exchanged opinions on the implementation of a project on detection and response to illicit radioactive materials. The project has been ongoing in Mongolia since 2008 under seven stages of actions, having resulted in 82 radioactive monitoring equipment installations at 15 border checkpoints. The hand gadgets have been supplied for detection of radioactive materials, and about 300 personnel from the General Agency for Specialized Inspection, Border Protection Office of Specialized Inspection, General Authority for Border Protection and the General Authority for Customs, have received training. Mr Sugarbat made certain requests on supply of apparels and gadgets, and organizing training on safe transport of detected nuclear generator to the headquarters. The US Energy Department delegates promised to convey his requests to their department and underlined an importance of promptness in information sharing system. ^ 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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