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
  31.10-4.11.16, No. 646
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Foreign Policy

Information sharing key to capturing corrupt officials (China Daily)
2016-11-04
Information sharing has played a key role in bringing back corrupt officials who fled abroad to avoid trial, Ding Guping, director of the anti-corruption bureau at the Shanghai People's Procuratorate, said on Thursday. Anti-graft officers have analyzed big data collected from various sources to learn about the movements of suspects, Ding said during a media briefing on the hunt for such fugitives since the launch of operation "Sky Net" in March last year. Sky Net was launched by the Chinese government, aimed at tracking down corrupt officials hiding abroad and confiscating their ill-gotten assets. A total of eight corrupt officials have been brought back to face trial from six countries - the United States, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Japan and Singapore - and more than 15 million yuan ($2.22 million) in illegal funds has been seized, according to the bureau. Information sharing key to capturing corrupt officials Ding said it cooperated with the police department, the state security bureau and the immigration inspection authority to obtain information, such as conversation and transaction records from popular messaging app WeChat and mobile payment service Alipay. Cai Guozhen, deputy director of the bureau's central office, said people always leave traces of their daily lives, which are recorded on surveillance cameras in buildings, on roads and in convenient stores, and through purchases they make. "The key is how to integrate the information," he said. Ding said anti-graft officers formulated a specific plan for each case after analyzing such information. For example, Sun Jin, former general manager of the sales department of a futures commission company in Shanghai, who fled to the US in the 1990s after being suspected of embezzlement of public funds, became a US citizen and changed his name and identity. However, through big data investigation and tracking, anti-graft officers determined his identity and captured him when he checked in at a Shanghai hotel using his US passport. Big data analysis also helped officers to track down Liang Kaifeng, a high-ranking official at a Shanghai-based State-owned enterprise specializing in papermaking. Liang was suspected of taking bribes and fled to the US, but was identified on a flight from the US to Shanghai in May. Cai said 21 corrupt officials from Shanghai who fled the country have not been captured, and most of them are in hiding in the US, Canada and Australia. He said it is difficult to bring them back from such countries due to a lack of bilateral extradition treaties and differences in laws, but added that it will become less difficult with increased international cooperation. "Consensus was reached on anti-corruption cooperation to help bring fugitives back to their home country during the G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, in September. The group's first anti-graft research center was set up in Beijing recently," he added. ^ top ^

Essence of limiting China's investment in Germany is investment protectionism: Chinese diplomat (Xinhua)
2016-11-04
The essence of some German politicians' argument to limit China's investment in Germany is some kind of investment protectionism, which will damage Germany's opening up image and investment environment, according to a top Chinese diplomat. Wang Weidong, commercial counselor of the Chinese embassy in Germany, made the statement in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua. Wang expressed his concern about the recent reassessment of Chinese company's takeover bid of German chip equipment maker Aixtron by the German Ministry of Economy, saying the government interference will add unpredictable changes to the mutually beneficial cooperation between companies from China and Germany. According to some German media reports, the German Ministry of Economy is working to revise the law and to strengthen the review of foreign investment, so that the governments of European Union members can prevent non-EU capitals from acquiring domestic enterprises in certain circumstances. Meanwhile, some German politicians said recently that China limits foreign investment and warned that core interest of European industry should be protected from threats of unfair competition. Wang said that all these statements take no consideration that China is still a developing country and China has made great progress in opening up its market. These statements, also not the fair and objective reflection of the Sino-German economic and trade relations and the real situation of Chinese investment in Germany, will finally damage Germany's opening up image and investment environment, Wang stressed. China has been in the WTO for 15 years, who seriously fulfills its WTO commitments, expands its market access and gradually eliminates foreign investment restrictions. More than 8,200 German enterprises have their investment in China. However, only 2,000 Chinese enterprises have so far invested in Germany. By August 2016, China's direct investment in Germany totaled 7.85 billion dollars, less than 30 percent of Germany's total investment in China, Wang added. According to a report of German Federal Bank in May 2016, China's direct investment stock only accounted for 0.3 percent of the total foreign investment in Germany. "Opening up Chinese market is a gradual process, Germany should not, on the one hand, call for more opening up, but, on the other hand, set up barriers to China's investment. Such kind of protectionism tendency will bring no success to Germany and Europe," Wang reminded. Wang pointed out that German enterprises have made big profits in the last over 30 years since China's reform and opening up. The German side should treat the cooperation with China from a strategic and long-term perspective to achieve mutual benefits and a win-win situation. Wang reiterated at the end that China and Germany should join hands in boycotting all forms of protectionism and create a relaxed political atmosphere for mutually beneficial cooperation between enterprises. ^ top ^

China, Australia sign MOU on anti-money laundering information sharing (Xinhua)
2016-11-04
China and Australia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on sharing information on money laundering, terrorist financing and other crimes, said the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday. The MOU was signed on Tuesday in Beijing between Chinese Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Center (CAMLMAC) and Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying at a routine press briefing. The MOU will enable cooperation between the two countries on the collection, analysis and exchange of crime-related financial information. This is the 41st cooperation agreement CAMLMAC signed with counterparts overseas, Hua said. The MOU was signed during Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan's China visit. ^ top ^

Li seeks to boost SCO ties (Global Times)
2016-11-04
China stands ready to work with other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to boost regional trade and facilitate investment, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at the 15th SCO prime ministers' meeting in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday. After Chinese President Xi Jinping summed up the preliminary progress made over the last three years for the One Belt and One Road initiative when he attended the 16th SCO Council of Heads of State meeting in June, Li is further promoting the implementation of the initiative in Eurasia, Sun Zhuangzhi, secretary-general of the SCO Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. Kyrgyzstan is the first leg of Li's eight-day, four-nation visit, which will also take him to Kazakhstan, Latvia and Russia. China and Kyrgyzstan should beef up production capacity cooperation as well as collaboration on major infrastructure projects, Li said during his meeting with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev Wednesday. The two sides should also promote the development of two-way trade and investment, while boosting regional inter-connectivity, safety and stability, so as to build a favorable environment for the realization of their common development, Li said. With strong aspirations for broader practical cooperation from both sides, Kyrgyzstan is willing to work with China to establish a consensus and strengthen cooperation in such fields as traffic, information, communication and finance, Atambayev said. Kyrgyzstan is also willing to carry forward the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway project and highway projects in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sooronbay Jeenbekov said Thursday during a meeting with Li. "Kyrgyzstan highly expects the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway project to be built in a bid to boost its economy," He Weiwen, an executive council member at the China Society for the WTO, told the Global Times, noting that difficulties remain in terms of geographic feasibility and funds. There was also an emphasis on production capacity cooperation as the Kyrgyz government wants to follow Kazakhstan's example, which has already started joint energy development projects with China, Li Ziguo, an SCO expert at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times. China is Kyrgyzstan's biggest trading partner and source of imports. Chinese imports account for 30 percent of the Central Asian country's total, and reached US$962 million between January and August, a 70 percent increase on the same period in 2015. Border defense cooperation Against a sluggish global economy and the complicated regional situation, China and Kyrgyzstan also need to tap their potential, be innovative and promote cooperation in security law enforcement, Li Keqiang said. He asked SCO members to further strengthen their cooperation and boost security with the construction of regional anti-terrorism institutions and mechanisms. A suicide bomber struck the Chinese embassy in Bishkek in late August, injuring five embassy staff. Li visited the embassy upon arriving in the Kyrgyz capital. China will urge Kyrgyzstan and other SCO members to raise border defense cooperation to joint law enforcement, Li Ziguo said. "Since Central Asia faces the risk of fleeing Islamic State members once terrorist groups are smashed [in Iran and Syria], coupled with unremitting turbulence in Afghanistan, it is urgent that the SCO upgrades cooperation to the level of joint law enforcement," he said. The five SCO member states - China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - signed a border defense cooperation agreement in July. However, "Countries often differ on the identification of terrorists, how to prevent infiltration of terrorism and capture criminals," Li Ziguo said. Economic synergy Premier Li called for more efforts to promote the coordination and alignment of the economic development strategies of SCO members, citing the growing synergy between the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) as an example. The EEU is composed of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. The Belt and Road Initiative comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and aspires to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes. After the Sino-Russian joint statement to integrate the two projects, which had been competing, was signed in May, the SCO found it more pressing to re-identify its economic role in the region, Li Ziguo said. On boosting trade, the Chinese premier said China is open to establishing an SCO free-trade zone and is willing to conduct the relevant feasibility studies, so as to work toward a more comprehensive, closer and more efficient regional economic cooperation framework. Li left Bishkek and arrived in Kazakhstan Thursday. ^ top ^

Though small in number, Chinese American voters gain attention in presidential election (SCMP)
2016-11-04
Jack Wang Zhengxian had always voted for the Democratic Party since he emigrated from China to the United States 30 years ago. Today, however, he is an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate. As one of 6,000 members of the nationwide campaign “Chinese Americans for Trump”, Wang helped organise state-level events in North Carolina in support of the candidate who, according to a poll, won the hearts of just one in 10 Chinese American voters. “In the past I did not fully understand why I backed the Democrats,” Wang said. He changed his allegiance after Democrats opposed a state law that banned transsexual people from choosing toilets based on their gender identification. As the fastest growing racial group in the US according to census data, Asian American voters are gaining media and academic attention in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, which will take place on Tuesday. Despite the relatively small number of Chinese Americans, analysts say all minority groups could potentially serve as a critical mass in a tightly fought race such as the current one between Trump and Hillary Clinton. This is even more remarkable in North Carolina, a swing state that US analysts call a “make or break” site for Trump and Clinton. Both candidates are scheduled to arrive in the state on Friday to canvass votes, indicating the unusually crucial status the state yields in the race. Pro-Trump Chinese American supporters have aroused much talk on social media both in the US and in China. On Sunday a plane was hired to fly over North Carolina pulling a banner that read: “NC Chinese Americans For Trump”. Wang likened the mentality of Trump supporters to the reverence showed to Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution. But as far as polling results are concerned, Trump's failed to take off, scoring only 11 per cent support among Chinese Americans, compared to Clinton's 52 per cent, according to a poll by National Asian American Survey released in early October. There is no new survey to gauge how the renewed FBI probe on Clinton's email, which come to light this week, may have affected the preference of American Chinese voters. “There is no data that I have seen that supports the idea that Chinese American voters are more drawn to Trump,” said Professor Taeku Lee, a political scientist at University of California, Berkeley, who studies Asian American voters and compiled the popularity poll. While Wang said the Chinese American population in North Carolina was too small to make a difference, Nevada, another swing state, appeared more upbeat, with Asian American community leaders expecting to influence where the six electoral college votes will go. “Both parties are reaching out to the Asian community now for the first time here in Nevada,” said Marc Matsuo, associate director of the Asian Community Development Council. “I think the Asian population will make a difference in this election.” Nevada has the fastest growing Asian American population in the US – accounting for 8.3 per cent of the population. Trump returned to Nevada at the end of October to hold his second rally in the month to shore up support in the state. US Vice-President Joe Biden also held a rally on Saturday to campaign for Clinton. In the last few weeks leading up to election day, both Clinton and Trump have run full page adverts in Chinese in local newspaper the Las Vegas Chinese Daily News. “This is a testimonial [of political parties reaching out to Asian Americans] because never before have they paid so much attention to us,” said Gloria T. Caoile, political director of the Asian Pacific American Labour Alliance, which has offices in both Washington DC and Nevada. “I'm not saying there is not more to be done. But this has been a giant leap,” she said. The population of Asian Americans grew by almost half between 2000 and 2010, creating up to 600,000 new voters in the last few presidential elections, according to a study conducted by Lee, of UC Berkeley. “Chinese Americans only make up a small proportion of the total population, so our votes don't count that much for politicians, and subsequently our interests seem insignificant to them in policymaking,” said Gary Chen, a cardiologist. Howard Chen, an investment consultant who attended a Trump rally in New York, said the community should unite and participate in politics. “The older generations of Chinese immigrants are too passive and marginalised, [while] the Chinese American politicians do not necessarily represent common Chinese people,” he said. Raymond Shen, who is a pro-Clinton operative in North Carolina, said while Chinese Americans had little sway over the presidential election, there is still much to do in lobbying politicians in lower level offices. “Chinese Americans actively hold fundraisers and forums for candidates” for such offices, Shen said, moments before he attended a fundraiser for Roy Cooper, the Democrat vying to become governor of his state. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping seeks 'cooperation' as Razak Najib takes swipe at West (SCMP)
2016-11-03
President Xi Jinping called on China and Malaysia to deepen mutual political trust and economic cooperation on Thursday. In his talks with visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Xi called on the two nations to mutually understand each other on issues of major concern, without giving specifics. “China and Malaysia should maintain high-level exchanges, enhance political trust, and continuously understand and support the big issues of each other's major concern,” Xi was quoted as saying by the state-run CCTV. Xi also said China welcomed Malaysia's participation in the One Belt, One Road initiatives – China ambitious infrastructure and trade initiative connecting countries in Asia with Europe and Africa. The talks between Xi and Najib came after the two nations signed 14 deals worth US$34.25 billion on Tuesday, vowing to boost defence, economic and trade cooperation. Malaysia agreed to buy four Chinese naval vessels known as littoral mission ships, which was one of the 14 deals spanning port construction, gas pipelines and water desalination plants. Kuala Lumpur and Beijing also signed the framework for the US$13.1 billion East Coast Railway Line (ECRL) project on Tuesday, which will be China's single largest investment in Malaysia. Najib strengthened ties with China after its ties with US were soured after the US Justice Department filed a lawsuit implicating Najib in a money-laundering scandal. He has denied any wrongdoing. Najib is the third national leader from an Asean country to visit Beijing after Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xhan Phuc in September and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte last month, who said Manila would “realign” with China and “separate” from the US. While drawing closer to China, Najib implicitly attacked the West by penning an article in the official China Daily that larger countries should treat smaller countries fairly and former colonial powers should not lecture nations they once exploited on their internal affairs. Najib also toned down in the controversial South China Sea dispute, in which Malaysia is also a rival claimant. “When it comes to the South China Sea, we firmly believe that overlapping territorial and maritime disputes should be managed calmly and rationally through dialogue, in accordance with the rule of law and peaceful negotiations,” he said in the article. Najib has been a on a six-day official visit to China since Monday. Beijing is spearheading efforts to win over Asean nations as the US faces setbacks in its “pivot to Asia” strategy. ^ top ^

German EU commissioner who called Chinese 'slitty-eyed' apologises for derogatory remarks (SCMP)
2016-11-03
EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger apologised on Thursday for derogatory remarks about Chinese people, whom he dubbed “slitty eyes” in a speech last month. “I can now see that the words I used have created bad feelings and may even have hurt people. This was not my intention and I would like to apologise for any remark that was not as respectful as it should have been,” Oettinger said in a statement. China voiced its disdain on Wednesday over his remarks, saying they revealed “a baffling sense of superiority entrenched in some Western politicians”. A video that emerged on YouTube showed Oettinger addressing a business audience using the German words for “slitty eyes” and “chiselers” to refer to Chinese people. Oettinger, commissioner for the EU digital economy who was last week named to take on the budget portfolio as well, went on to make disparaging remarks about women, gay marriage and Belgian politicians. In Thursday's statement, he did not refer to any specific remarks and said his intention had been to give Germany a “wake-up call” over China's increasing power and a debilitating political correctness at home which stymied an effective response. “I have great respect for the dynamics of the Chinese economy – China is a partner and a tough competitor,” he said. Oettinger also said that remarks about the Belgian region of Wallonia, which held up the signing of a landmark EU-Canada trade deal for several weeks, had been misquoted. “Let me add here that I regret that some of my remarks were misquoted regarding Wallonia, which is not only historically an important European region, but actively contributes to the cultural and political diversity of Europe,” he said in the statement. ^ top ^

Chinese, Russian deputy PMs vow to further promote bilateral cooperation (Xinhua)
2016-11-03
Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and Russian Deputy Prime Minster Dmitry Rogozin met here Wednesday on bilateral cooperation, and both sides vowed to continue making joint efforts to promote China-Russia relations. At the 20th meeting of the Joint Commission for the Regular Prime Ministers' Meetings of China and Russia, Wang said Chinese President Xi Jinping has met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin four times this year, reaching broad consensus on deepening the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination under new circumstances, which has served as the guideline for bilateral cooperation. This meeting, Wang said, was aimed at carrying out the consensus, summarizing the achievements made by the joint commission this year, and preparing for the upcoming 21st Regular Prime Ministers' Meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Russia's second-largest city of St. Petersburg. As this year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the joint commission, said Wang, the commission has contributed to the progressive development of all-round cooperation between China and Russia, which have built up mutual trust in all sincerity based on mutual benefits. Meanwhile, Wang called for more joint efforts to consolidate the favorable trend in bilateral trade and further tap the potential in this regard in order to boost cooperation in strategic projects. Rogozin, for his part, said that it is Russia's consistent foreign policy priority to further promote its partnership with China, as the two sides have supported each other in areas of core interests such as sovereignty, territory and security. With a host of agreements clinched at the meeting in the fields of industry, nuclear energy, aviation and outer space, agriculture, finance, environmental protection as well as cross-border transport, Rogozin urged the joint commission to play a stronger role in advancing relevant cooperation. ^ top ^

China calls for fighting drugs, terrorism with Myanmar (Xinhua)
2016-11-02
China is willing to enhance cooperation with Myanmar in areas including anti-terrorism and drug prohibition, said Guo Shengkun, a Chinese State Councilor, on Wednesday. Guo, Public Security Minister, made the remarks when meeting with Myanmar's Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, in Beijing. "China hopes to work with Myanmar in maintaining security and stability of both the China-Myanmar border and the Mekong area," said Guo. He also called for pushing forward the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership. Min Aung Hlaing said Myanmar is willing to enhance communication and deepen cooperation with China. ^ top ^

High-level Sino-US talks 'to keep ties stable over last months of Obama's term' (SCMP)
2016-11-02
A top Chinese diplomat on Wednesday held talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice on expanding cooperation between the two world powers, just ahead of the US presidential election. Analysts said the meeting between State Councillor Yang Jiechi and the US officials in Washington showed that Beijing was concerned over possible changes to relations after next week's election, and it was an effort to keep ties stable until the new US administration took power in January. In the talks, Yang said the two nations had to maintain high-level communication and minimise their differences, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry. US National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the two sides “reviewed progress in bringing about a more durable, stable and productive bilateral relationship”. The administration of US President Barack Obama has forged cooperation with Beijing on issues such as climate change. But as Obama enters his final months in office, there are signs of strain in relations amid tensions in the South China Sea and provocations by Chinese ally North Korea. US officials said the low-key meeting was probably the last opportunity for extended discussions with Yang before a new US administration took office. Yang is a familiar figure in Washington, having also served as China's foreign minister and an ambassador to the US. Shi Yinhong, an international affairs analyst at Renmin University, said Beijing was concerned that the foreign policy directions of the two US presidential candidates – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – were unclear. “China hopes to put Sino-US ties on a stable track during the remaining months of the Obama administration. Hopefully, it will lay some ground for their bilateral ties for the next US administration,” he said. “There will not be any breakthrough on Sino-US relations during the next few months, but it is hoped that tensions over the South and East China seas and the Korean Peninsula will not escalate,” he added. Zhao Lei, an American affairs analyst from the Central Party School, said the meeting indicated that both sides were serious about the relationship. “No matter who wins the election, Sino-US ties will still make an impact on the world,” he said. US State Department spokesman John Kirby pushed back on Tuesday against perceptions that the US was losing friends in Asia. We have nothing to fear from nations establishing better... relationships with China,” he said. ^ top ^

China, Malaysia pledge to narrow differences on South China Sea (SCMP)
2016-11-01
China and Malaysia vowed to deepen cooperation on the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday as Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak met Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing. Li called on Malaysia and China to further consolidate their relationship, especially when it came to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as part of China's efforts to win over member nations of the bloc. “China would like to enhance communication and cooperation with Malaysia to further develop China-Asean relations,” Li was quoted as saying by state-run CCTV. Najib said he believed his visit would bring bilateral ties between the two nations to a “new high”. Malaysia had also agreed to buy four Chinese naval vessels, according to a report by Malaysian state media. The vessels are known as littoral mission ships, and are small craft that operate close to shore. Two would be built in China and two in Malaysia, according to the report after the meeting between Li and Najib. A number of other deals were signed between the two countries, including a memo of understanding on defence cooperation. Asked for details on the defence arrangement, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said the two countries were “focusing on naval cooperation”, and that the deal “marks a big event in our bilateral ties”. Najib is the third Asean leader to visit China recently, after Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xhan Phuc and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Singapore is currently the coordinator between China and Asean, but ties between Beijing and the city state are strained by the South China Sea disputes. Chinese media have accused Singapore of playing up the maritime tensions in regional meetings, and officials in Beijing have said that Singapore should stay out of the disputes because it is not a claimant state. “It is impossible for Singapore to become the mediator between China and Asean nations, especially in the South China Sea disputes, because it has a close relationship with the United States,” Du Jifeng, an analyst at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said. “China and Malaysia both need each other, as China seeks a messenger in Asean in the South China Sea issues and Najib, who's trapped in domestic political difficulty, is finding external help to consolidate his power base.” The deal on defence cooperation signalled that Malaysia wanted to have closer military-to-military relations with China, Du added. The two nations also signed the framework for the US$13.1 billion East Coast Railway Line, which will be China's largest investment in Malaysia to date. Najib is on a six-day visit to China, and is expected to meet President Xi Jinping on Thursday. The visit comes amid strained ties between Malaysia and the US after the Justice Department filed lawsuits linked to a money-laundering investigation at state-owned investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad. ^ top ^

China's priests wary of Vatican's Beijing olive branch (SCMP)
2016-11-01
Secret talks between the Vatican and Beijing are raising hopes of a “historic” rapprochement after six decades of estrangement, but some Chinese clergy fear that Rome will accept a communist stranglehold over the country's Catholics. Since becoming head of the Holy See in 2013, Pope Francis has tried to improve relations with the Chinese government in the hope of reconnecting with Catholics in China who are divided between two denominations, loyal to either Rome or Beijing. But opponents – among them the respected Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen – say the agreement risks abandoning loyal believers and amounts to a deal with the devil. Since January, Chinese and Vatican officials have met at least four times, including in Rome, to try and resolve the delicate issue of the appointment of bishops – the heart of the dispute. Each side has long insisted that it should have the final say on the issue – the Vatican as God's representative on Earth, and the Communist party as the final arbiter on all issues in China. “We're hoping for a very important, historic agreement that we've been waiting for for nearly 70 years,” said Jeroom Heyndrickx, a Belgian priest who has been involved with Chinese Catholics since the 1950s and is closely following the discussions. “A Chinese delegation will head to Rome at the beginning of November for a last round of negotiations,” said Heyndrickx, acting director of the Ferdinand Verbiest Institute in Leuven, which studies Catholicism in China. China and the Vatican have not had diplomatic relations since 1951. The country's roughly 12 million Catholics are divided between the government-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), whose clergy are chosen by the Communist Party – but sometimes accepted by Rome – and an unofficial church where bishops named by the Vatican are not recognised by Beijing, but sometimes tolerated. But earlier this year the pope sent greetings to Chinese President Xi Jinping and said he was an admirer of Chinese civilisation. Xi responded in September with a gift of a silk print of an 8th-century stele – a nearly three-metre tall carved stone tablet – from Xi'an, the earliest known trace of Christianity in China. The agreement is currently expected to see the Vatican recognise four out of the eight CPCA bishops it does not currently acknowledge, according to Heyndrickx. Beijing could also name two new bishops in Shanxi and Sichuan provinces with Rome's blessing. The two would also agree on how to select future bishops. “Rome could accept a situation in which the final nomination is made by the pope,” Heyndrickx added. But it was not clear whether the Vatican would have a choice of candidates. Crucially, the agreement will not address the 30 bishops consecrated by Rome but rejected by Beijing. “Their fate will certainly not be resolved in the near future,” Heyndrickx said. Even if Beijing agreed to recognise them, he predicted, “I am convinced that they would refuse to join the Patriotic Association.” Chinese Catholics are divided over the prospect of an agreement, with Zen – who spent seven years teaching in the official church in the 1990s – the most high-profile opponent. The Chinese Communist party is officially atheist and Zen said of the CPCA: “They don't believe in God, they don't understand what is the church. They only have political considerations.” He contrasted the Pope's approach with that of his predecessor John Paul II, who lived under both Nazi and Communist rule in Poland and played a key role in the advent of democracy in eastern Europe. “Communism is a terrible totalitarian regime and people who haven't experienced that find difficulty to understand that,” Zen told AFP from Hong Kong. The pope, he said, “wants to make peace with everybody, that's very good, but sometimes I think the reality is cruel”. For Francesco Sisci, a researcher at Renmin University who has been following Vatican issues for decades, the split in the Catholic church in China is more than political. “The Catholic church is split between factions that hate each other,” he said. “In the same area, you have two bishops rivalling for power, for money.” Zen described the CPCA's members as “puppets of the government” who have profited from their positions. If Rome recognised it, he added, Beijing could feel emboldened to “eliminate” the underground church, whose members would be left “desperate”. Vatican authorities “say they hope that by this agreement, the people may live their faith peacefully,” Zen said. “But if there is no freedom, there is no peace.” ^ top ^

China to promote international human rights cooperation (Xinhua)
2016-10-31
China will push exchanges and cooperation in human rights with other countries as a UN Human Rights Council member, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Monday. The UN General Assembly on Friday elected China and other 13 countries to the UN Human Rights Council for a three-year term starting Jan. 1, 2017. China, a current member of the council, was re-elected winning 180 votes. The others elected were Tunisia, South Africa, Rwanda, Egypt, Japan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Croatia, Cuba, Brazil, the United States and the United Kingdom. The re-election reflects the international community's acknowledgement of China's human rights development and its participation in international cooperation in the area, Hua said at a news briefing. China will use the re-election to deliver its international human rights obligations, vigorously encourage exchanges and cooperation in human rights and make a greater contribution to the international human rights cause, Hua said.@ The Human Rights Council is the main UN intergovernmental body for protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. It was established by the General Assembly in 2006 to replace the 60-year-old UN Commission on Human Rights. ^ top ^

China may have left Scarborough Shoal in 'sign of warming ties' (SCMP)
2016-10-29
The reported departure of Chinese vessels from the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea was a sign of further warming bilateral ties between Beijing and Manila, analysts said. The Philippines and the United States are verifying whether Chinese coastguard ships have indeed left the shoal. US Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told reporters in Beijing yesterday that any withdrawal from the shoal, even if it were a product of bilateral negotiations with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who had recently distanced himself from the US, “would be a positive development” welcomed by Washington. Philippine defence chief Delfin Lorenzana announced on Friday that Philippine fishermen could access the shoal unimpeded for the first time in four years, but he added the report has to be validated. Lorenzana said the Philippine Air Force planned aerial surveillance of the shoal, which is located 250km west of the Philippines main island of Luzon, as early as today to assess the situation. The shoal, which is called Huangyan Island by China, is claimed by both sides. But Chinese experts said Beijing had deliberately prevented mention of a “Philippines fishing permit” in its joint statement with Manila during Duterte's state visit to Beijing earlier this month because it wanted to avoid “any possible misinterpretation from the outside world that China had made any concession over the South China Sea issues”. “Opening fishing access could not be permanent and formal, and it's too early to say how future bilateral ties will develop, as it's just the beginning,” said Du Jifeng, a Southeast Asian affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Maritime experts in Beijing said both China and the Philippines were attempting to find a way out of the fishing rights controversy, which has been a key issue ever since Manila first accused Beijing of blocking Filipino fishermen from entering the shoal's rich fishing grounds in 2013. “After Duterte's visit, both sides seemed to have reached a certain mutual understanding to dilute the tension in the region,” Du said. Li Jie, a Beijing-based military observer, said that while both sides were trying to find a proper solution to the fishing rights disputes, these were also related to sovereignty rights and would take time to resolve. Instead of simply blocking Filipino fishermen from the shoal, Beijing now wanted to explore whether allowing the fishermen to return could be a way to lower tensions, mainland experts said. There had been speculation ahead of Duterte's visit to Beijing whether he would raise the issue with his Chinese counterparts. Duterte later confirmed that fishing rights in the shoal were included in “private talks” and that he would “leave it to Chinese authorities” to decide how to proceed. The issue was not mentioned in the joint statement issued after his meeting with President Xi Jinping. China took effective control of the tiny, uninhabited shoal in 2012, after a tense stand-off with Philippine vessels. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Launch of China's most powerful rocket helps Beijing close gap with US (SCMP)
2016-11-04
China has launched the most powerful space rocket it has ever built from a base on southern Hainan Island. The Long March CZ-5 blasted off from the Wenchang space launch base at 8:43pm on Thursday. It means China has finally developed rockets of equal power to those currently used by the US space programme. The CZ-5 belongs to a new generation of rockets that will be used in China's future space projects. It will be deployed during lunar and Mars exploration programmes, with a mission to the Red Planet likely to be launched as early as in four years' time, according to the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily. The CZ-5 can lift 25 tonnes of cargo into lower earth orbit, similar to the performance of the Delta IV Heavy, the most powerful launch vehicle in the US space fleet. The arrival of the CZ-5 means the gap between China and the US in space has narrowed from decades to years and the game will change profoundly from now on, according to several space analysts. The US has built more powerful rockets in the past, including the Saturn V, the largest rocket ever flown in human history, but they have all been retired, allowing China, which has suffered severe delays in its large rocket project, to slowly catch up. James Clay Moltz, a professor at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California, said the importance of the rocket to China was huge. The rocket and later versions boosted by even more powerful engines will allow China to match the US in operating large-scale, high performance spy satellites and global military communication satellites, as well as attempting to put up a full-sized space station, land humans on the moon or send robotic rovers to Mars. “The CZ-5's success would mark a big step forward in China's ability to put heavy payloads into orbit, both civilian and military,” he said. Moltz also predicted there would now be an increase in competition in space between China and the US. “The United States has an even larger rocket likely to come on-line soon, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, which will have twice the power of the CZ-5,” he said. “Nasa's SLS rocket, with its first launch scheduled in late 2018, will be even larger. China hopes to match it with its planned CZ-9 booster. So the competition for the next five years is already well underway.” Chinese leaders have given the nation's space programmes a high priority, with rapidly increasing investment, and the government has used previous US accomplishments, such as the Saturn V rocket, as a yardstick to gauge China's own achievements in space. But levels of funding for the US space programme are far less certain, with neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump outlining a clear vision for future space exploration in their presidential campaigns. James Lewis, a senior vice-president at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, cautioned against any talk of greater competition in space between the two nations. “I don't think there is a space race between China and the US, if only because the US doesn't think it is in a race. The US political leadership doesn't care about space exploration.” Dr Morris Jones, a space expert based in Australia, said the CZ-5 was critical to China's major goals in space flight. “Without the Long March 5, there can be no space station. There can be no large robot missions to the moon or to Mars,” he said. “Every space mission starts with a rocket launch. No other rocket in China's fleet matches the power of Long March 5.” The development of the CZ-5 has been fraught with difficulties and the first launch comes after years of delays, but it also signals the maturity of China's space programme, according to Jones. “Large, complex rockets like Long March 5 always face development problems and delays. It's critical that China did not rush the rocket into flight before it was ready,” he said. “Simply manufacturing and transporting such a large rocket is challenging and requires changes from the way smaller rockets are handled.” A huge gap between China and the US in space flight has been present for decades. When the Apollo missions sent American astronauts to the moon, China was just about to launch its first satellite. When the construction of the International Space Station led by the US neared completion, China was putting its first astronaut in orbit. The launch of the CZ-5, however, may change the situation. “China will greatly narrow the gap between its own space programme and its major competitors if it can successfully operate this rocket,” said Jones. “The lack of a rocket of this class has been a large gap in China's space capabilities.” ^ top ^

Dissident artist Ai Weiwei 'surprised, confused' by Chinese people's support for Donald Trump (SCMP)
2016-11-04
Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei said in New York on Wednesday that he is confused by how many Chinese people – both on the mainland and those that have emigrated to the United States – are fans of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. He also said that the winner of the November 8 election – either Trump or his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton – should not to give up raising human rights issues when dealing with China. “Some of the people in China were human rights defenders,” said Ai as he gave a talk before Saturday's opening of his new show in the city, “Laundromat”, featuring cast-off belongings collected from a refugee camp. “But here many of them openly talk about how much they love Trump. I can't understand it,” he said, adding that their craving for power and conservatism appeared to him to be a “phenomenon”. “A lot of Chinese people love Russia's [leader President] Putin. They also love strong leaders.” During his presidential campaign Trump has constantly accused China of “stealing jobs” and manipulating its currency, the yuan, and he has also threatened to launch a trade war. On the other hand he has previously described the Tiananmen democracy protest in 1989 as a “riot”. Ai offered some China policy advice to the next US president, calling on Washington to maintain good relations with Beijing. However, he said that it would be a mistake for the new US president to negotiate further economic ties with China at the expense of human rights and other universal values because it would cost America the respect of the world. “There is no excuse for sacrificing any of these values – not to mention human rights – and not to defend all of these values,” Ai said. He also criticised what he said was the lack of such universally shared values in China. He recalled the time in 2011 when he was arrested and interrogated by the Chinese authorities and held in detention for 81 days over allegations of “economic crimes”. He claimed the rule of law did not exist in the country. Ai also said there was “no room” or “no space” that allowed artists to touch on political issues. He said that despite China having a large population of 1.3 billion people, the nation had no real “people” because of the lack of freedom of speech. “If there is no voice, there are no people,” he said. “Nobody feels secure. The problem is that in society, nobody trusts anybody, nobody believes in anybody. That is a real problem.” Ai was also asked about Hong Kong's struggle for democracy under the “One country two systems” and how the international community could be of help. The artist, who openly expressed his support for the “umbrella movement” in 2014, said nobody understood the situation and its urgency better than the Hong Kong people themselves. “Of course you can ask for other people's help, but I don't really believe that,” Ai said. “It takes an individual or a group or any geographical location – small or large – to make their voice be heard, and come out [with] some kind [of] resolution. There is no other way. It doesn't come [from] anywhere else.” He added: “I think everybody has to defend, has to fight, has to really make their own voice be heard. And that's all.” ^ top ^

China eases land transfer rules to spur larger, more efficient farms (SCMP)
2016-11-03
China has relaxed rules to allow farmers to transfer their land rights to help promote more efficient, large-scale farms, amid an exodus of farm workers to the cities. The authorities on Sunday recommended separating various rights to rural land, which they say would improve land circulation, increase farmers' incomes, and contribute to the development of modern agriculture. China's Agriculture Minister Han Changfu told a news conference on Thursday that the separation of rural land ownership rights, contracted rights and operating rights is a key reform step. “This helps guide the orderly transfer of land operating rights and lays a system foundation for appropriate-scale agricultural operations in development and modern agriculture,” he said. The step would help improve land and labour efficiency in the farm sector, he said, but farmers would not be forced to transfer their land rights. Farmland in China is collectively owned and farmers only have the right to contract and use the land. Many rural migrant workers have leased out their land to those who stay in the countryside or to commercial entities. More than 30 per cent of rural land has already been leased to others to operate, Han said. Chinese farmers still cannot sell their land rights freely and the lack of clear rights makes many farmers vulnerable to land grabs by local administrations for development. A programme to issue certificates confirming rights to land has covered 60 per cent of farmland. Han said the guidelines would also better protect the rights of those that lease and operate the land from farmers, helping to encourage more investment in more efficient and productive agriculture. The priority for the world's most populous country is to ensure enough land and rural labour to maintain food security. Land reform and household registration are two key issues if China is to succeed in its plan to get 100 million migrants to settle in cities by 2020. China's leaders aim for 60 per cent of the population of almost 1.4 billion to be living in cities by 2020, turning millions of rural dwellers into consumers who could be a driving force for the world's second-largest economy. ^ top ^

New Communist Party rules call on top Chinese cadres to inform on each other (SCMP)
2016-11-03
The Communist Party issued two sets of guidelines and regulations tightening its grip on cadres' political conduct on Wednesday, calling on members of the decision-making Central Committee to report on each other's discipline violations. Party chief Xi Jinping explained the new rules by saying that senior cadres, including members of the Politburo Standing Committee, should take the lead in setting a good example of political conduct. The documents were adopted during the Central Committee's sixth plenum, which wrapped up last week. One set of the documents covers cadres' political conduct; the other dictates internal party supervision. “Members of the Central Committee should strictly abide by political discipline and rules,” one of the documents said, adding that any Central Committee members who failed to adhere to the rules should be reported to the party's central authority. There are more than 350 full and alternate members in the party's powerful Central Committee, including most of the cadres above the ministerial or provincial level. “To report on members of the Politburo, submit a letter under [your] real name to the Standing Committees of the Politburo or the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection,” the document said. It added that internal party supervision had to be strengthened, preventing discipline problems from worsening and leading to prosecution. In his explanation, Xi said he had asked ideology chief Liu Yunshan and anti-graft chief Wang Qishan to start preparing the new regulations as early as January 2014. A group was formed this February to draft the two documents, Xi said. He personally chaired the drafting team while Liu and Wang served as deputies, he added. Xi also lashed out at political cliques, saying former officials, including ex-security tsar Zhou Yongkang, had serious political problems. The guiding principles on political conduct urged cadres to uphold the ideal of communism and the authority of the central leadership of the party. “Only the central leadership of the party are entitled to decide on and interpret key nationwide policies,” it said. If cadres had opinions that differed from the central leadership on key policies, they could voice their disagreement, as long as they made sure to “implement those decisions resolutely”. The rules also urged the National People's Congress, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the supreme court and the supreme prosecutors' offices to report to the central party leadership before making important decisions. The rules explicitly ban cadres from seeking special privilege for their family or friends, who were not allowed to interfere with the cadres' work. Any violations of this policy were to be reported. Since Xi's rise to the top of the party in 2012, he has chaired three drafting teams for key documents passed at the party's annual plenums. These included documents on reforms, rule by law and suggestions for the 13th five-year plan. Under previous leaders, a handful of Standing Committee members took turns heading the teams that drafted such important documents. ^ top ^

Call for tougher dioxin limits after carcinogen found in hairy crabs exported to Hong Kong (SCMP)
2016-11-03
An independent food safety researcher has called on authorities in the Chinese mainland to impose tough limits on dioxin contamination of water and soil, following the detection of the carcinogen in Jiangsu hairy crabs sold in Hong Kong. Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety said on Tuesday it found excessive dioxin levels in two of five hairy crab samples from two mainland farms it tested. One sample had 11.7 picograms of the contaminant per gram and the other 40.3 picograms, well above the safe level of 6.5 picograms. A Jiangsu quarantine bureau official said the bureau had suspended export clearances for the two farms and a task force had been set up to test water and product samples, Xinhua reported. Sun Xingliang, director of the Wanqing crab farm in Wujiang, one of the two involved, said the crabs exported by his company were all tested for pesticide residue and heavy metals, but not dioxins. “It's the first time that my company's product has been accused of dioxin contamination in 16 years of exporting. I have no idea what a dioxin is,” Sun said. Dioxins are a group of chemicals commonly formed as by-products of industrial combustion and chemical processes, such as manufacturing of chemicals, pesticides, steel and paints, and waste incineration. They are fat-soluble and not easily broken down. They can accumulate in the human body through intake of animal derived food, and can cause cancer and damage the reproductive and immune systems. Sun said the company's crabs, farmed at Lake Tai, were also exported to Singapore, Taiwan, and Macau, and he was worried the Hong Kong findings could affect those markets as well. He also said the mainland's inspection and quarantine authorities had “intervened” and would organise testing. Mao Da, a director of the Rock Environment and Energy Institute, an independent think tank, said the two mainland companies were also victims of polluters and lax monitoring. “The mainland's food safety standards do not refer to dioxin levels. So it is possible that hairy crabs sold on the mainland are also tainted with dioxin,” said Mao, who has done extensive research on dioxin pollution in China. Mao said dioxins tended to accumulate in soil, or lake and river sediment, so it was not surprising that the contaminants were detected in crabs bred in Lake Tai, which is located in a highly industrialised area. A study conducted by Mao's organisation earlier this year found dangerous levels of dioxins – by European standards –in free-range chicken eggs produced close to waste incinerators and other industrial hot spots in six mainland areas, including Shenzhen, Beijing and Wuhan. In February, Nature-affiliated magazine Scientific Reports published a study led by Lanzhou University Professor Ma Jianmin that found people on the mainland were facing a growing risk of cancer from dioxins due to changes in dietary patterns and rising emissions. The risk rose from 0.2 per cent in 1980 to 1.2 per cent in 2009, the study found. Public awareness of the health effects of dioxins has triggered protests against waste incinerator projects on the mainland, but environmental authorities have failed to set safety limits for the contaminant. ^ top ^

China's spy chief set to step down to take on senior role on Hong Kong and Taiwan affairs advisory panel (SCMP)
2016-11-02
China's security chief Geng Huichang will likely step down soon from his position after being appointed to a senior role on an advisory panel for Hong Kong and Taiwan affairs. Geng, the minister of state security, was on Tuesday named deputy director of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee's panel on Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Overseas Chinese affairs, Xinhua reported. The CPPCC is China's top political advisory body. The advisory role for Geng, who has reached the retirement age of 65, was announced alongside new appointments for two other senior officials. Cai Fuchao, former head of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, was named deputy director of the CPPCC committee for education, science, culture and health, and Liu Peng, former director of State General Administration of Sports, was named deputy director of the CPPCC foreign affairs committee. Cai and Liu officially retired in recent weeks, according to Chinese media reports. Geng's retirement has yet to be made official. Geng's new role is expected to pave the way for Chen Wenqing, the Ministry of State Security's Communist Party committee head, to eventually take up the job as minister. The ministry is among China's most opaque government agencies. It has no official website. Geng became spy chief in 2007 and also doubled as the ministry's party head. He handed over the party role to Chen – a former police chief and disciplinary official – last year. The Hebei native, who was born in 1951, previously served as deputy director of the China International Cultural Exchange Centre and vice-minister of state security. ^ top ^

Will China's 'core' leader Xi Jinping now turn attention to economic reform? (SCMP)
2016-11-01
A big question mark hanging over the future of the Chinese economy will soon be cleared up: is Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping an old-style hardliner who views absolute power as an end in itself or a reformist who sees the consolidation of power as a necessary step towards meaningful reform? With a key party meeting last week recognising Xi as the “core” of the party leadership – acknowledgement of his undisputed authority – fingers are once again crossed that he will use his status as China's most powerful leader in decades to kick-start much-delayed economic liberalisation, with reforms targeting areas ranging from the fiscal system to land ownership. Since becoming party chief four years ago, Xi has promised a long list of “supply-side structural reforms” for the world's second-biggest economy, including defusing a debt bomb, reducing pollution and phasing out obsolete industrial facilities. But China's economic imbalances have worsened on his watch, with rising levels of debt, persistent pollution and property price bubbles emerging in major cities. One theory is that vested interests – ministries, local authorities and state-owned enterprises – have been hindering Beijing's reform ambitions and that Xi will be able to use the boost to his authority to smash through that resistance. Liaoning, the only Chinese province to report economic contraction in the first half of this year, was also the scene of a massive vote-rigging scandal in the local legislature, while Hebei, the steel-producing province surrounding Beijing, only half-heartedly followed Xi's instructions under former provincial party boss Zhou Benshun, who has been expelled from the party and is awaiting trial on graft charges. Deng Maosheng, a government researcher who participated in the drafting the communique issued by the party Central Committee's sixth plenum last week, told a press briefing in Beijing on Monday that Xi's new status in the party “will become a strong force to drive reforms”. “The intensified central power will no doubt help the enforcement of policies and reforms,” Deng said. Tim Condon, head of Asian research at ING in Singapore, concurs. “The elevation of President Xi is expected to enable him to overcome resistance to the supply side structural reform agenda,” he said. While fighting corruption has become a hallmark of Xi's rule in the past four years, key economic reforms have been slow to emerge. Rural land ownership reform, which would give farmers greater say over their land, has stalled, hindering China's urbanisation drive. Fiscal revenue reform has been limited, with local governments still relying on land sales deals for income. And the pledge to break up state-owned monopolies appears to have gone into reverse. That's all prompted growing suspicion about China's liberalisation trajectory and raised doubts about whether an authoritarian regime under a strongman ruler will ever be truly willing to give up control over economic matters. Andrew Collier, managing director of Orient Capital Research, said Xi was “fighting a rearguard battle against princelings and other forces in China in his bid to restructure ailing state firms and make the economy more efficient”. “Xi's new title as a 'core' leader strengthens his hand against those contesting his economic restructuring plans,” Collier said. “However, it's not clear that even with his increasing power Xi will be able to resolve these knotty economic problems.” Yuan Gangming, a Tsinghua University economist, said the “core” title was recognition of Xi's power, and did not represent new empowerment. Xi already had enough power to push through necessary reforms because he headed various central leading groups governing everything from national security to “comprehensively deepening reforms”. Yuan said Xi had “shown his muscle in fighting against corruption and achieved unimaginably remarkable results”. “It should not be too hard for him to press ahead with the economic reforms, which are not 'hard bones' at all compared with the difficulty of the anti-corruption battle,” said Yuan, who used to work for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “However, the risk is that a regime with highly concentrated power is prone to make policy choices which are incorrect.” Arthur Kroeber, an economist with Gavekal Dragonomics, said the direction of economic policy under Xi had been confusing, but two themes had been consistent: resistance to the occasional downturns that were intrinsic to well-functioning markets, and advocacy of a continued central role for the state. “So far as we can tell, these are Xi's own core views, not tactical stances taken because he lacks the authority to implement change,” Kroeber wrote in a research note.” Xi's position seems to be that economic reform is fine, so long as it creates no volatility and no diminution in state control.” Because of that, Kroeber said, “there are few signs that Xi is an economic reformer at heart”. Yuan said that by being in a paramount position, with all the levers of power in his hand, Xi would have to bear direct responsibility if reforms failed or showed no progress. “And the risk of little progress is high as the regime lacks a democratic decision-making and rectification mechanism,” he said. ^ top ^

Whistle blowing, confessions and showing remorse... how China's corrupt officials try to get lighter sentences (SCMP)
2016-11-01
Corrupt Chinese officials may earn lighter sentences by blowing the whistle on fellow officials, confessing to their crimes or even crying and wailing in court, a criminal defence lawyer known for representing disgraced senior officials has revealed. Xu Lanting, who represented former presidential aide Ling Jihua, said in an interview with the Beijing Times that fallen officials often exposed the crimes of fellow officials in the hope of more lenient sentences. “If what they expose of others is verified to be true, they will be considered to have “made a contribution'… which allows them to be given a lighter sentence according to law,” Xu was quoted as saying in the article published on Monday. Xu, 55, is known for representing senior corrupt officials. Apart from Ling, he has defended a number of other “tigers”, including Li Zhi, former deputy chief of Xinjiang's people's congress; and Shen Peiping, former vice-governor of Yunnan province. Ling, the one-time top aide to former president Hu Jintao, was in July sentenced to life in jail for accepting more than 77 million yuan (HK$88 million) in bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets and abusing his power. In announcing the verdict, the Tianjin No 1 Intermediate Court said Ling's guilty plea was taken into account in his sentencing. About 100 senior party officials have been netted in an ongoing anti-corruption crackdown launched by President Xi Jinping after he rose to power almost four years ago. Only around one-third of them have been sentenced so far. Xu said another way for defendants to have their punishment reduced was to confess to crimes that hadn't been uncovered by the agencies handling their cases. “Therefore, making a contribution and confessing one's crime is the first thing we lawyers consider when we defend [our clients],” he said. Dramatic exhibitions of remorse in court – often featured on China's state broadcaster's prime-time newscasts – could also affect sentencing, Xu said. “Crying, wailing, confessing and repenting in court is one element to be considered when giving a lighter sentence. Confessing is [better] than denying, therefore, it will definitely be reflected in the measurement of penalty,” he said. Xu added that the officials were not merely “acting out” their regret. “Many defendants are also sincere in showing repentance …They also said so outside of court, such as that they are sorry to the party, to the country and to their family,” he said. ^ top ^

Top legislature mulls draft laws on cybersecurity, nuclear safety (Xinhua)
2016-11-01
China's top legislature on Monday started its bimonthly session to review draft laws, amendments and bills, including a draft law on cybersecurity, a draft law on nuclear safety and an amendment to the surveying and mapping law. Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, presided over the opening meeting. The draft cybersecurity law, tabled for a third reading, allows police and other law enforcers to take measures, including the freezing of assets, against overseas individuals or organizations that "attack, intrude, interfere with or sabotage the nation's key information infrastructure." The new draft suggests better protective measures for important industries, including public communications and information services, energy, transportation, finance and e-government services. A draft nuclear safety law was submitted to legislators for its first reading on Monday. The draft specifies safety standards for nuclear facilities; emergency planning and response systems; and rules for information disclosure. It also details the responsibilities of staff and supervisory bodies, and sanctions for those who fail in their duties. The top legislature is considering amending the surveying and mapping law to improve the management of China's geological data. According to the revised draft, submitted for its first reading, sources of geological information must be better managed, adding that measures should be taken to better integrate the various sources of geological data and improve the way in which they are shared and used. The top legislature is considering amending a 2003 law that supports small and medium-sized businesses, for the first time. The draft aims to realize equal rights, rules and opportunities for all firms, offering favored tax policies and the easing of financing procedures for small and micro-businesses. The top legislature is also considering amendments to 12 laws, including the law on foreign trade, with aims to streamline administrative approval in several fields. Moreover, legislators are considering expanding the Red Cross societies' duties in the donation of stem cells and organs, and improving information transparency by amending the law on the Red Cross Society. A draft law on the promotion of the film industry was submitted to legislators for a third reading, proposing harsher punishment for filmmakers who forge ticket earnings. The top legislature continued to review the draft general rules of the civil code after a first reading in June, proposing to better protect citizens' personal information and improve the safeguarding of juvenile rights. Draft amendments to the private education law, marine environment law, and law on ensuring public cultural service were also deliberated by legislators at the meeting. Legislators also reviewed a bill on a China-Tajikistan extradition treaty, a bill on a judicial assistance treaty between China and Sri Lanka, and a bill on the adjustment of China's 2016 central budget. A report on Zhang Dejiang's September visit to four countries -- Israel, Palestine, Finland and France -- and a report on reviewing the qualifications of certain NPC deputies were also deliberated. ^ top ^

China specifies efforts to improve government affairs transparency (Xinhua)
2016-10-31
Chinese government will implement rules more specifically to improve government information transparency, calling for more public participation in policy making and better sharing of information. A new guideline, which specifies a set of requirements on government affairs transparency, was approved on Monday during the State Council's executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. "Government affairs transparency is vital to transforming government functions," Li said. "And we need better efforts in improving government affairs transparency." The new guideline is a set of specific rules and requirements on improving government affairs transparency through stages of policy making, implementation, information regulation, public services as well as keeping the public informed. It designates that by the end of 2017, government at all levels should set up a system that allows attendance from the public at government meetings, especially attendance from the press, stakeholders, and experts. It requires that policy documents, especially those that may impose or result in a crucial impact on people's lives, need feedback from the public before they are issued. It also requires government at all levels to set up a specified catalog for types of documents that ought to be publicized by the end of 2018, while adjustment will be constantly required on such catalogs. Li pointed out that government should work hard in building a comprehensive platform for public services and government resource sharing so as to enhance policy interpretation, while giving a prompt reply to public concerns. More adequate and prompt interpretation on State Council level policies are required, according to the new guideline. Government departments in charge of drafting particular policies should give a full interpretation when such policies are issued. Systematic approaches are also required for government at all levels in giving prompt reply to public concern. "Through efforts in improving government transparency, we work to make our government more service-oriented and provide more convenience for those starting business," Li said. The new guideline calls for a clearer and defined responsibility across all government departments in government information sharing and transparency so that work will be further enhanced. Meanwhile, a third-party evaluation will also be introduced on evaluating how well the above measures are implemented. The government has been making comprehensive efforts on improving public information sharing and government affairs transparency, especially since 2013. The State Council has just approved another guideline on improving government services via the internet across the country in September, an effort that helps with government information sharing. "Ensuring government affairs transparency is a duty for government departments at all levels," Li stressed. "For policies that may exert a big influence on the market as well as people's livelihood in particular, government should inform the public of these policies promptly. Otherwise, any delay may fail market expectations, and thus have an ill effect on economy as well as public confidence in the government." "Especially in cases of public emergency, related departments should take the initiative in sharing information with the public and answering concerns from the media, and take responsibilities where possible," Li added. ^ top ^

Why becoming the 'core' matters for China's communist leaders (SCMP)
2016-10-29
In China's world of opaque and delicate leadership status, holding a top party post does not necessarily signify authority. But being labelled “core” – a non-official title denoting a higher political status – is critical. Four years after becoming the Chinese Communist Party's general secretary, Chinese President Xi Jinping was anointed as the “core” of the party's leadership on Thursday at the end of the Central Committee's four-day sixth plenum in Beijing. This sent a strong message that his authority is beyond challenge within the party that has ruled China for 67 years. Here we take a brief look at history of some China's communist leaders and their relationship between their titles and status. Mao Zedong Mao never called himself the “core” of the party leadership when he was alive, but Mao, after ruthless purges of his potential challengers and opponents within the party, was hailed as the Great Helmsman, the Red Sun and the “great saviour of the people”. He was credited as “the core of the first generation of collective leadership” by Deng Xiaoping in 1989. Hua Guofeng Hua, Mao's hand-picked successor, rose to power in 1976 after Mao's death and assumed the chairmanship at the party's central committee and the military commission. But Hua was sidelined in 1978 and his short-lived rule of China is recognised only as a transition period from the first generation to the second generation of the leadership. He was never recognised as the “core” of the party leadership. Deng Xiaoping Deng is the core of the second generation of the communist leadership, although Deng shared power with other powerful old guards,called the Eight Great Eminent Officials, or Eight Elders. Deng's influence lasted into his final days even though he did not have any official position at the time. Chen Yun, one of the Eight Elders, credited Deng in 1989 as being the core of the central party leadership and the general architect of the reform and opening up of the mainland. This view has been widely cited ever since. Deng's successor, Jiang Zemin, assumed the title of “core” with Deng's blessing. Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang Hu was the party's general secretary from 1980 to 1987, while Zhao was the general secretary from 1987 up until China's 1989 crackdown against the Tiananmen Square democracy protests. Following the crackdown, Zhao was then placed under house arrest, where he remained for 15 years until his death in 2005. Hu and Zhao assumed top party posts under the close watch of party elders led by Deng, but neither of them was ever recognised as a core of the leadership. Jiang Zeming The former Shanghai party boss unexpectedly replaced Zhao as general secretary of the Central Committee in the aftermath of the Tiananmen crackdown. Deng was quoted on various occasions as saying it was the elders' duty to cultivate a third-generation leadership with younger candidates. When handing over the highest military commander's post to Jiang in 1989, Deng cemented Jiang's core status by saying “I believe it is the right choice to establish the central party leadership with Comrade Jiang as the core”. But Jiang started to promote his “core” role only after Deng's death in 1997. Hu Jintao Xi's predecessor never enjoyed the “core” title in official documents during or after his rule of China. When Jiang officially gave up his post on the Politburo Standing Committee and general secretary to make way for the “fourth generation” of leadership, headed by Hu in 2002, he was widely believed to be pulling strings behind the scene through his protégés in the leadership. Jiang also retained his chairmanship of the Central Military Commission until 2004. Hu, at best, was “the first among equals” in the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee and was always addressed as “the central leadership with Hu Jintao as the general secretary”. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Chinese presidential ally named new acting mayor of Beijing (SCMP)
2016-10-31
A deputy director of the Communist Party's Central National Security Commission was appointed as the acting mayor of Beijing on Monday, according to mainland media reports. The appointment of Cai Qi was announced by Beijing party chief Guo Jinlong, Beijing Daily reported, confirming a South China Morning Post report about Cai's move on Sunday. “Cai has strong political sensitivity and is loyal to the party,” Guo was quoted as saying. Guo praised Cai for having a broad range of experience, including his term on the commission, a body founded in 2013 and chaired by President Xi Jinping. The report was the first official confirmation of Cai's role at the commission. Cai will take over from Wang Anshun, who is rumoured to be moving to the State Council's Development Research Centre. Cai's political career has overlapped Xi's. Before being promoted to commission deputy director in 2014, Cai spent nearly 15 years in Zhejiang – first as deputy party secretary of Quzhou, then as mayor of the provincial capital, Hangzhou, before becoming provincial deputy governor. Cai, born in Youxi county, Fujian province, worked for 11 years in his hometown. Fujian was also a power base for Xi. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

The British forgery at the heart of India and China's Tibetan border dispute (SCMP)
2016-11-01
There is an awkward – and for Tibetans, melancholy – back story to India's employment of VIP visits by the US ambassador and the Dalai Lama to assert its sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh. Recently US Ambassador Richard Verma visited the town of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, the region in northeastern India whose sovereignty has been contested by the People's Republic of China for over half a century. In line with US foreign policy priorities, Ambassador Verma was giving China a public poke in the nose and a boost to India. At the same time, the US was endorsing one of the most belaboured and discredited exercises in imperial mapmaking – the McMahon Line – and an instance of great power betrayal – the alienation of Tawang. The McMahon Line, drawn at the behest of the British Raj in 1914, has been adopted by the Indian government as the definitive statement of its border with China in the northeast, although the line has never been accepted by any Chinese government. It was drawn by Henry McMahon and accepted by representatives of the Tibetan government in bilateral discussions that were contemporaneous but separate from the abortive tripartite British/Tibetan/Chinese negotiations on the Simla Convention. Since the objective of the Simla discussions was to compel Chinese toleration of a special relationship between the British government and a Tibetan government characterised as subject to Chinese “suzerainty”, eventual Chinese buy-in to the convention and the boundary arrangements was deemed essential and the convention, unratified by China, was seen as imperfect. Britain withheld publication of the Simla Convention with the notation, “The convention was initialled and sealed on July 3, 1914. As this convention was not signed and ratified by all three parties, the current Chinese government does not consider itself bound by the terms of this convention.” Maps drawn by McMahon with the portentous red line and initialed by the Tibetan representatives were also left unpublished as British diplomats lobbied fruitlessly for decades for the Chinese to return to negotiations. Then, in 1935, Olaf Caroe, a senior official of the Raj, decided to retaliate against Tibetan (not Chinese) authorities who had arrested a British botanist cum spy, Frank Kingdon-Ward, in the town of Tawang. Although Tawang was Tibetan-administered, Caroe checked the archives and confirmed that Tibetan negotiators had accepted the placement of Tawang south of the McMahon map in the aftermath of the Simla discussions. Henry McMahon To solidify the British claim to Tawang, Caroe decided to arrange for the publication of the Simla Convention adding a misleading notation that the Simla Convention discussions had included negotiation of border demarcation. In an indication that Caroe knew he was pulling a fast one, he did not publish a supplement to the existing record, Aitchison's A Collection of Treaties and Sanads 1929 edition; instead he had a spuriously backdated 1929 edition printed and arranged for the 160 copies of the true 1929 edition in libraries around the world to be replaced and destroyed. The subterfuge was only discovered in the 1960s when a researcher discovered a surviving copy of the authentic edition at Harvard University. Thanks to Caroe's rebooting of the Simla narrative, the “McMahon Line” first appeared on an official Survey of India map in 1937, twenty-three years after McMahon drew it. Caroe also successfully lobbied British commercial atlas publishers such as Bartholomew's and The Times to include the lines on their maps. Despite its questionable provenance, much of modern Indian public opinion regards the McMahon Line as an immutable expression of India's sovereign rights. The US buttressed the Indian position in 1962, at a time when US Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith was eager to exploit the shock of the war with China to wean India away from its non-aligned/anti-American stance. Galbraith lobbied President Kennedy over the stated concerns of the State Department and the vociferous objections of the KMT government of Taiwan to affirm the McMahon Line, and received approval to state: “The McMahon Line is the accepted international border and is sanctioned by modern usage. Accordingly we regard it as the northern border of the [North East Frontier Agency] region.” Galbraith's third-party declaration was legally irrelevant and, as documents seized by the Chinese in the Potala Palace and records subsequently unsealed in London revealed, factually incorrect. Galbraith's assertion became passé in US diplomacy for the next 50 years. But it resurfaced in 2012 with the upswing of relations with India and the chill with China, and served the basis for the US ambassador reported statement to Indian media that the McMahon Line was the legitimate border between India and China. Another turn of the wheel came in April 2016, as the US Consul General in Kolkata, Craig L Hall, assured the governor of Arunachal Pradesh that the US regarded it as an integral part of India. And then came Ambassador Verma's visit to Arunachal Pradesh and Tawang. As for Tawang, it is indisputably Tibetan in culture, religion, and history and, indeed, is one of the great monastery towns of Tibetan Buddhism and birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. It also straddles an important trade route as a gateway between the Tibetan plateau and the Indian plains and was therefore doomed to become a pawn in the Great Game. The Raj coveted Tawang for its strategic significance well before Olaf Caroe and, indeed, grudging Tibetan acquiescence to alienation of Tawang was a key price tag for the British-Tibetan alliance at Simla. The Tibetan government continued to administer Tawang throughout the Raj and, after it gave up on the Simla Convention, for a time renewed its formal claims on the town. In 1938 the British went as far as budgeting the cost of occupying Tawang, expelling both Tibetan officials and the lamas of the monastery, and implementing British rule. The Tawang issue was forcibly resolved in 1951 when an Indian force overthrew monastic rule and seized the town. However, it remains a cultural and political touchstone for Tibetan Buddhism. The current Dalai Lama, who sheltered at Tawang when he first entered Indian-controlled territory upon fleeing the People's Republic of China in 1959, generously patronises the monastery. Until 2008, he resisted Indian pressure to accept Tawang as “part of India”. Today, open acquiescence to the permanent alienation of Tawang to India is sine qua non for the Dalai Lama and for anti-China Tibetan activists. When the Dalai Lama pays his next visit to Tawang in March 2017, he will, in common with all Tibetan sojourners in India, do so under official permission from the central government to enter the “Protected Area” of Arunachal Pradesh as a foreign guest. So, the American ambassador went to a stolen town to endorse an illegal boundary consecrated by a blatant forgery. Just another day in the Great Game. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

How new Xinjiang party boss became front runner in race to be one of China's most powerful men (SCMP)
2016-10-30
The new Communist Party chief in Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo, is strongly tipped to join the party's Politburo next year as a result of his strong ties with Premier Li Keqiang and five years of hardline rule in his previous post in Tibet, which won him the trust of party general secretary Xi Jinping. Chen, 60, is well placed in the race for promotion to the decision-making Politburo because age has become a key criteria for political advancement and retirement. Since 2002, the so-called “seven up and eight down” rule has allowed cadres who are 67 or younger at the time of a party congress to remain in or enter the Politburo, while those aged 68 or older have been pushed into retirement. If the rule still holds and the number of Politburo seats remains at 25, 11 elderly Politburo members will have to step down at the party's 19th national congress, which is scheduled to be held in autumn next year. Chen, long viewed as a close ally of Li, will be a front runner for one of the vacancies thanks to his work experience and tough stance in dealing with religious and ethnic issues in Tibet. He worked closely with Li for six years in Henan province, beginning with his appointment as Li's deputy when Li was made acting governor of the central province in 1998. Then, in 2000, Chen was made a member of the party's provincial standing committee. In 2003, a year after Li was promoted to Henan party secretary, Chen became his deputy in the party's provincial committee. After serving as deputy party chief of Henan for 6½ years, Chen was promoted to acting governor of the neighbouring province of Hebei in late 2009, when he was 54. Then, in 2011, after 18 months as Hebei's acting governor and governor, he was named party head of Tibet. In his first meeting with senior cadres in the autonomous region, Chen promised the authorities would bar the “Dalai clique” from intervening in the selection of the next Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader. Buddhists in Tibet believe that each Dalai Lama is the reincarnation of his predecessor. Beijing views the current Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in Dharamsala, India, after fleeing Tibet in 1959, as a separatist, and Chen told the cadres the battle against his clique would be long-lasting and intense. Whenever Chen visited schools in the region or penned articles for the party magazine he underscored the importance of “feeling the party's benevolence, listening to the party's words and following the party's path”, while also urging people to distance themselves from the Dalai Lama. Chen served as the top party official in Tibet for almost five years and in the eyes of top leadership in Beijing one of his key merits in that time was his role in the purging and punishment of officials deemed to be hidden supporters of the Dalai Lama. State media reports said that in 2014 at least 15 regional officials were found to have participated in the illegal, underground Tibetan independence movement, provided intelligence to the Dalai clique or otherwise assisted activities that posed a threat to national security. Chen's hardline policies in Tibet appear to have won him Xi's trust and confidence. At the party Central Committee's Sixth Tibet Work Forum in August last year, Xi stressed that political correctness was the overriding priority in the appointment of officials, saying that anybody with split loyalties had to be eliminated from the ranks of party officials and members. Apart from resolutely toeing the party line, Chen has also pulled out all stops to show his loyalty to Xi and was among the 20 or so regional party secretaries who early this year publicly supported the characterisation of Xi as the “core” of the party leadership. At the annual meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing in March, each delegate from Tibet wore two badges: one featuring Xi and his four predecessors – Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao – and the other featuring Xi alone. Pundits interpreted it as a successful political show choreographed by Chen to explicitly convey his allegiance to Xi. Chen's heavy-handed rule in Tibet and his loyalty to the party's top leader was rewarded in August with his transfer to Xinjiang as party secretary, replacing Zhang Chunxian who had been criticised for using “soft tactics” in ruling the restive northwestern region. As the only current regional party chief to have played leading roles in four separate provinces and regions – Henan, Hebei, Tibet and Xinjiang – Chen has a clear advantage over other Politburo contenders. Bo Zhiyue, a professor of Chinese politics at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, said Chen's appointment as party boss of Xinjiang had sent out a clear signal that he was destined for promotion to the Politburo at next year's party congress. “Judging by Chen's work experience, he is relatively closer to Li,” Bo said. “But this doesn't mean that he boasts no ties with Xi.” ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Lock them up: localist thugs have brought things to a new low with their mindless violence (SCMP)
2016-11-04
When I was a reporter, I had many occasions to interact with Legislative Council staff. Its security personnel were and still are the most courteous and helpful people around. Indeed, they are more like caretakers than security officers. Journalists have always had a good rapport with them. They have a ready smile and greet the more familiar among us by name. We joke and chit-chat while waiting for important people to show up and give sound bites. That is also why they are ill-equipped to handle people like Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang of the separatist group Youngspiration and their thuggish friends. As a result, six security guards were injured in the mayhem on Wednesday. At least two of the guards are long-serving and I recognise them. Anticipating trouble, the Legco president moved the meeting from the main chamber to a conference room. Yau and Leung promised in front of cameras not to gatecrash the meeting, then promptly tried to force their way in with the help of hooligans the pair identified as their Legco assistants. They pushed and shouted obscenities at the female security staff. The six guards were injured in the confrontation. Given the level of violence they faced, those who were injured should seek compensation. Also there will be no end to such disturbances unless Legco steps up security and brings in the police to deal with those localist thugs. What has happened is the logical outcome of the antics of radicals like “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Raymond Wong Yuk-man with the screaming and throwing of objects in the Legco chamber. Baggio Leung and Yau are taking such disturbances and chaos to the next level. All the while, pan-democratic politicians like those from the Civic Party have been encouraging them to do their worst. Well, their actions reached a new low on Wednesday. Now, some pan-dems are trying to distance themselves from the pair, saying the incident and injuries were “regrettable”, but they have yet to criticise them. If those thugs are really assistants of the two, it means we taxpayers have been paying them. We have seen their faces on television. Police should arrest those responsible for causing public disorder. It's not separatism we have to worry about; that will always be a non-starter. Rather, it's localist-inspired hooliganism in the heart of our legislature. ^ top ^

Courting controversy in Hong Kong over the Legislative Council oath-taking fiasco (SCMP)
2016-11-04
The bitter controversy over the potential disqualification of localist lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching turned into a full-blown court battle on Thursday, as top lawyers for three parties – the duo, the government and the Legislative Council president – argued their cases. The day in court not only addressed the specific acts of the Youngspiration pair and how they insulted China, but even turned into an intellectual debate. The lawyers clashed over to what extent the doctrine of separation of powers existed in Hong Kong, and whether and to what extent judges should interfere in the affairs of the legislature. Despite the case centring on the Basic Law and allegiance to China, English and Australian legal precedents were cited – some dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Benjamin Yu SC, counsel for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung: Interpretation of the Basic Law It is the stance of the Hong Kong government that the issues in question could and should be resolved within the SAR judicial system. The SAR government did not ask the National People's Congress Standing Committee to interpret the Basic Law and was seeking confirmation from Beijing about the move reported in the media. The media reported that a University of Hong Kong academic said in unfounded speculation that because the Hong Kong government had no confidence in the court, it had sought the NPCSC interpretation. That was furthest from the truth. Oath taking is a constitutional requirement Basic Law Article 104 states that Legco members must, when assuming office, “swear to uphold the Basic Law of the HKSAR of the People's Republic of China and swear allegiance to the HKSAR of the People's Republic of China” in accordance with the law. The requirement of Article 104 was transparently obvious and was a “mandatory constitutional obligation” imposed on all lawmakers-elect. The upholding of the Basic Law and the acceptance of the fact that the HKSAR is an inalienable part of China was fundamental to the person being allowed to assume office. Section 19 of the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance requires a legislator to take the Legislative Council oath as soon as possible after the start of his term of office. The oath to be taken is prescribed. Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang declined or neglected to take the Legco oath There was no doubt that the pair declined or neglected to take the Legco oath after each of them had been “duly requested” to do so. Non-compliance should result in the lawmakers vacating their office under section 21 of the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance. The constitutional relationship between the HKSAR and China was precisely the focus of deliberate challenge and ridicule by Leung and Yau, who used the term “Hong Kong nation”, deliberately mispronounced China as “Geen-na” or “Shee-na” and displayed a banner bearing the words “Hong Kong is not China”. Leung also crossed his index and middle fingers, which could only mean, in context, that he was lying or at least was not sincere in taking the oath. Yau went to the extreme of using an “f” word to replace the word “Republic”. The inevitable inference was she was showing contempt for China, while respect for the country was absolutely fundamental to the “one country, two systems” concept in the Basic Law. The conduct of Leung and Yau was plainly a rehearsed, calculated and coordinated attempt to advocate Hong Kong's independence from China. The Legco president has no right to administer the oath to Leung and Yau a second time The failure of Leung and Yau was not due to any inadvertence, mistake or genuine misunderstanding, so there was no reason whey they should be afforded a further chance to take the oath. If a person declined to take the oath after he was asked to do so, his or her office becomes vacant. If the office is vacated, the president does not have the power to administer the oath again Should the court follow the principle of non-intervention (in legislative affairs) and separation of powers? The separation of powers enjoyed in Hong Kong is different from that in the US, Australian and British models. In Hong Kong, the Basic Law and not Legco is supreme. The case is not concerned with the internal workings of Legco like filibustering, but Article 104 of the Basic Law. The court has to protect Article 104. The principle of non-intervention cannot override Article 104. The localists should not be immune from legal action because immunity as provided for by the Basic Law covers only statements, not their oath taking. Their freedom of speech is also not an issue because the question is whether they took the oath properly. Should the chief executive initiate the legal action or should he rely on the justice secretary as the Legislative Council Ordinance states? There is a duty under Articles 2 and 48 of the Basic Law for the Hong Kong government to be responsible for the implementation of the Basic Law. The chief executive has a special obligation in ensuring compliance. Hectar Pun Hei SC for Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Philip Dykes SC for Yau Wai-ching The court has no power to interfere with the Legco president's decision [1884 UK case in which court refused to interfere with a resolution of the House of Commons that restrained MP Charles Bradlaugh from taking the oath] Yau Wai-ching's case resembled the facts of the Bradlaugh case in the UK. It is determinative of the issue of privilege and exclusive cognizance. After MP Charles Bradlaugh had been harried in the courts for presuming to vote when he had not been sworn in, he applied to the speaker of the house to be given the opportunity to take the oath. Other members objected because in earlier litigation he had made it clear that, as an atheist, he would not regard himself bound by the oath. Members voted to exclude him from the house. Bradlaugh sought a declaration that his exclusion was unlawful and that the serjeant-at-arms should be restrained from stopping him from returning and taking the oath. The issue of taking the oath, although a statutory requirement and not just a procedural issue, as in this case, was held to be “a matter relating to the internal management of the procedure of the House of Commons” so that the court “had no power to interfere”. The judges said “what is said or done within the walls of parliament cannot be inquired into in a court of law. The jurisdiction of the houses over their members is absolute and exclusive. The House of Commons has the exclusive power of interpreting the statute”. The court should refuse to declare the Legco president's decision void and to restrain Baggio Leung from taking the Legco oath afresh based on the president's decision. Chapter 4 of the Basic Law provides for lawmakers' immunity from legal action. Article 78, a “neglected” clause in the mini-constitution, provides for their freedom to access the Legco chamber. The oath-taking acts of the localists, even if considered “misbehaviour” subject to disqualification under Article 79 of the Basic Law, still had to be handled by a Legco procedure. In many ways non-compliance with legal procedures when making laws under the Basic Law can be regarded as a more weighty constitutional issue than whether the Legco president was right or wrong when he decided to allow Yau Wai-ching another chance to take the oath. The court should not lose sight of its role The courts will only encroach on matters which would appear to be subject to legislative privilege only in the clearest cases where the court can say with a great degree of confidence that the immunity or privilege had been displaced a Basic Law right. The government's interpretation of the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance goes completely against the constitutional grain of the Basic Law. It would be unimaginable if the court was to look at the merits in each case to decide whether an oath was valid. That will make the judge very busy. That is simply not workable. There is no question of automatic vacation of a lawmaker's office A lawmaker has to resign to vacate his office. You have to do something to vacate your office. The Basic Law provides for a separation of powers The oath-taking controversy should be resolved by the Legislative Council itself through a political process rather than a judicial process. The issue must stay inside Legco. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying wrongly put his name on the case The law says only the secretary for justice shall represent the government in court proceedings involving Legco. The chief executive's participation in the case meant extra taxpayers' money would be spent on the matter. A person suing in his personal capacity made no reference as to whether he was an elector in the constituency... but [Leung Chun-ying] still sued in the capacity of an elector. The chief executive lives on Hong Kong Island but Leung and Yau were elected in New Territories East and Kowloon West constituencies respectively. Jat Sew-tong SC, counsel for Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen: Judicial review against the Legco president misconceived The Legco president was not connected with and did not condone the actions of Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching in their oath-taking. He was unnecessarily brought into the hearing as a respondent, giving the wrong impression that the executive branch intended to exert pressure on the legislature. The government should avoid any action of political sensitivity, but its counsel had yet to address this point. The Legco president has the power to decide whether to let Leung and Yau retake the oath Article 72 of the Basic Law gives the Legco president the constitutional duty to preside over meetings, decide on the agenda of meetings and exercise other powers as prescribed in the Legco rules of procedure. “Presiding over meetings” meant he could exercise orderly, fair and proper control over such gatherings, including making the decision on who was allowed to attend, participate in and vote at meetings. It therefore followed that the Legco president had the power to decide whether a member had validly taken the oath and was entitled to attend a meeting. While the government argued that Leung and Yau had declined to take the oath and therefore should be disqualified under section 21 of the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance, the Legco president should not be concerned with the ordinance because ultimately, he already had a constitutional duty under Article 72 of the Basic Law to make decisions. Furthermore, it would be a very serious matter to hold under the ordinance that an elected Legco member had vacated his or her office because they declined or neglected their oath. Irreparable damage might be caused by any decision to disqualify them – not only to the elected members, but also to Legco as a whole and the community at large. Given the potentially serious consequences that might follow if the Legco president's decision was found to be wrong [in court], the better course to chart would be to allow them to retake the oath. If they demonstrated by conduct that they were not prepared to take the oath properly once again, the Legco president would then have more solid grounds to decide they had declined to take the oath. Even if a lawmaker had “become a murderer”, it would still require a two-thirds majority of votes in Legco to disqualify him or her, in accordance with Article 79 of the Basic Law. Government is self-contradictory It was contradictory for the government's counsel to assert that the president was not a final arbiter in the matter on the one hand, and still be obliged to make a decision to invalidate the duo's vows on the other. ^ top ^

Hong Kong government has not been told if Beijing will intervene to ban pro-independence lawmakers (SCMP)
2016-11-04
The Hong Kong government has not received word from Beijing that it is intervening in the oath-taking row to disqualify two pro-independence lawmakers despite such a move being widely reported in the media, the chief executive's lawyers told the High Court on Thursday. The counsel also asked for a speeded-up ruling by the court, which retired after a full-day hearing on a judicial review sought by the government in a bid to ban the duo and hold by-elections for their seats. Even as the case was heard, a mainland Chinese expert who advises Beijing on Hong Kong affairs but who declined to be named, told the Post that the mainland's top legislative body was expected to deliver its ruling on Monday. The case centres on a judicial review to disqualify Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching because they used derogatory language to insult China during their oath-taking three weeks ago while pledging allegiance to “the Hong Kong nation”. They have been barred by the Legco president from attending meetings but insist they have the right to remain in the chamber as duly elected lawmakers. Benjamin Yu SC said the government “has not requested” the National People's Congress Standing Committee to exercise its power to interpret the Basic Law. “The HKSAR government has sought confirmation from the Central People's Government as to these reported matters,” Yu read. “Up to this moment, the Hong Kong government has not received any confirmation from the [central government].” He would inform the court as soon as possible if his client received any confirmation, he added, asking the court to hear the case “irrespective” of the reported matters. Under the Basic Law, Hong Kong enjoys judicial independence and local courts should seek a ruling from Beijing only over affairs the central government is responsible for or which pertain to its relationship with Hong Kong. The localists' lawyers argued on Thursday that the matter should rest entirely within the legislature because of the separation of powers enjoyed in the city. Philip Dykes SC, for Yau, said any “misbehaviour” of lawmakers would be subject to political process, not a judicial process, as they can be disqualified on a vote passed by two-thirds of lawmakers present under Article 79 of the Basic Law. But Yu countered that the separation of powers was subject to the “constitutional requirement” of lawmakers taking the oath as prescribed by the law under Article 104 of the Basic Law. Article 104 says lawmakers must, in taking their oaths, uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to Hong Kong as part of the People's Republic of China. Judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung said he would deliver his ruling “as soon as practicable”. After Yu suggested he make a ruling first and hand down a judgment later, Au said he would “think about it”. In Beijing, Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Elsie Leung Oi-sie declined to tell the Post if the body met on Thursday, saying that she did not want to be interviewed. It was announced on Thursday that the Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission would hold a press conference on Monday, after the Standing Committee voted on several legislative amendments. The expert who expected the ruling on the oath-taking to be delivered then said it would be better if Beijing's interpretation of the Basic Law could pre-empt the court's ruling if the outcome was the government losing. Otherwise, “the shock would be bigger if an interpretation is made after the Hong Kong government loses in the judicial review.” But the chairwoman of the city's Bar Association, Winnie Tam Wan-chi, warned this would deprive local courts of a chance to adjudicate and damage the judicial system. ^ top ^

CY Leung panned by democratic camp for questioning creation of panel to probe UGL deal (SCMP)
2016-11-02
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying came under fire from the democratic camp after he questioned the setting up of a special committee in the legislature tasked with investigating his receipt of a HK$50 million payment from Australian firm UGL. Accountancy sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung, who put forward a motion to launch the inquiry, claimed the Hong Kong leader had attempted to interfere in the affairs of the Legislative Council. But unionist lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin said the chief executive's riposte was justified, adding that the investigation was “an attack driven by political motives”. Earlier yesterday, Kenneth Leung's petition was passed after 27 fellow Legco members in the democratic camp gave their support. In response, the chief executive reiterated his argument that the Legco of the previous term had carried out “various thorough discussions” on the agreement signed between him and the firm, and that two previous motions to initiate a similar probe had been voted down in November 2014. The Chief Executive's Office claimed in a statement that the deal in question was “simply a non-compete arrangement” which aimed to ensure that Leung, after resigning as the Asia-Pacific director of property consultancy firm DTZ at the time, would not move to a competitor or poach any people from DTZ. “Such an agreement is a standard business arrangement,” the statement read. It added that DTZ was fully aware of the deal and that it was not a secret contract. The office also rejected the allegation that the city's leader had failed to make the receipt of the payment public. The chief executive had, upon assumption of office in 2012, declared his assets in accordance with the law, it asserted. “Therefore, the current term Legco need not and should not set up a select committee to inquire into the matter,” the office said. But Kenneth Leung argued that the probe was needed. The lawmaker also claimed the city's leader had interfered in the legislature's affairs. “He is not in a position to do so,” he told the South China Morning Post. “It's not for [Leung Chun-ying] to determine whether it was a secret deal or not,” the lawmaker added. He planned to get former board members of DTZ to testify in the Legco. Yet the move was questioned by the pro-establishment camp. Wong said the setting up of the select committee was an example of political manoeuvring. “It's a right move for Leung [Chun-ying] to issue a statement to clarify his position,” Wong said. As long as the committee was allowed to carry out the inquiry, there would be no question of interference, he added. But he also noted that the committee lacked the special investigative powers under the Legislative Council Powers and Privileges Ordinance to look into the matter. “Its effectiveness is questionable,” he said. ^ top ^

HKU Council defends recent decision to dismiss vote-buying allegations (SCMP)
2016-11-02
The University of Hong Kong Council took a 2012 High Court judgement into consideration judgement when it decided to dismiss vote-buying allegations against a postgraduate student, who was recently elected to the body. It comes after the university's students' union, academic staff association and alumni concern group submitted a joint statement, with around 4,860 signatures, calling on the council to investigate the suspected bribery. Earlier in the month, Michael Mo Kwan-tai, a contender in the race for the postgraduate council seat, filed a complaint with the Independent Commission Against Corruption claiming incumbent candidate Printa Zhu Ke had bribed voters. Mo alleged mainland-born Zhu, who eventually won the election by 654 votes ahead of Mo's 410 votes, offered virtual “red packets” containing money to voters via the messaging app WeChat. But Zhu denied Mo's allegations, saying the WeChat group he was sending the “red packets” to were university graduates who had no right to vote in the election. Zhu said the “red packets” contained an average of 80 fen (almost HK$1) and were meant to be a token of thanks to people who had helped him in his campaign. Through an email to students, staff and alumni from the school's registrar, council chairman Arthur Li Kwok-cheung said the council had considered Zhu's explanation that “it was not his intention to bribe any person into voting for him and in this respect he referred to the insignificant value (about RMB 0.80) offered through the 'Red Packet' by way of justification”. Li also said the council took note of the High Court's judgement in the case of the Secretary for Justice versus Mandy Tam Heung-man in 2012, which stated that the nature and value of any advantage could be taken into account when assessing whether it was offered as an inducement to vote. Tam, who was a candidate in the accountancy functional constituency of the 2008 Legislative Council Elections, was charged with offering an advantage as an inducement to vote after she organised a tea gathering for accountants just two days before the election during which a talk on a certification was provided for free. Tam was eventually acquitted after the magistrate decided that, albeit an advantage was offered to the audience who (at least many of them) were electors, she only intended to exploit the opportunity of the tea gathering to promote herself as a candidate and did not intend to offer the talk as an inducement. “Factors, such as whether the respondent thought that anyone could be induced to vote for him [Zhu] by the offer of such a small amount of money, are linked to intention and could be considered,” Li said. The chairman said it was recommended at the council meeting that the University's election regulations be reviewed to provide further guidance to future candidates in light of this experience. Mo criticised the council for making a “political decision” on a legal matter, adding that he would seek to lodge a police report after his complaint with the ICAC was rejected. Mo said the ICAC had told him the matter was not under its jurisdiction. ^ top ^

Innocence lost in the dirty fight to choose Hong Kong's chief executive (SCMP)
2016-11-01
So who do you want as your next chief executive? Let's rephrase that. Who do you think Beijing wants as your next chief executive? The affable, straight-talking but inexperienced retired judge Woo Kwok-hing? Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, who gave us food trucks and defined the middle class as people who like coffee and French movies? Legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who mocked Tsang as a failed finance chief? Or Leung Chun-ying, whose polarising trait has overshadowed his achievements as chief executive? I've interviewed all four on television. You can't help but like Woo. He has a raw innocence the others lack. But is that a political shield or an Achilles heel? Soft-spoken and unassuming, Tsang is the perennial pessimist who doles out one-off sweeteners but stuffs huge surpluses into our overflowing public purse for a rainy day. He can't see the downpour for the rain. Ip is the makeover woman. Reviled for championing Article 23 legislation while security chief and mocked for her hairstyle, she returned from an American sojourn a softer woman more in tune with ordinary people. But is the makeover a mask as many suspect? Leung's Achilles heel is not just a single heel but his whole character. Honesty requires acknowledgement that he has achieved much more than his predecessors to improve livelihoods. But he has let his combative character get the better of him, allowing adversaries to define him as Hong Kong's most loathed leader. Hong Kong's most loved leader, many would say, was governor Chris Patten. But a time gap of over 20 years makes comparisons meaningless. Patten's colonial Hong Kong was not Leung's Hong Kong of one country, two systems. We were more innocent then. Perhaps it was good we didn't get to choose Patten or his predecessors. Maybe we lost our innocence in the fight to get to choose our leader. What if Beijing just sent us a governor? Who knows, maybe we'd go back to the way we were, even rediscover our lost Lion Rock spirit. But choose we must, through a 1,200-member election committee. The opposition saw to that by torpedoing one person, one vote. Who should we choose? Woo, Tsang, and Ip will likely serve only one term, given their age. Leung will be the only post-handover leader to serve two full terms if re-elected. Maybe that will be his strongest pitch to Beijing, where face is everything. ^ top ^

People's Liberation Army holds military drill in Hong Kong's New Territories (SCMP)
2016-10-31
The Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army staged a military drill in the New Territories on Monday morning involving sea, land and air forces. For the second consecutive year, the full-scale drill was open to invited guests. The 45-minute drill at Castle Peak Firing Range in Tuen Mun simulated a scenario in which an armed force had occupied the army's bases around Castle Peak and attempted to infiltrate Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. The drill involved special forces, artillery, a navy ship, air power, tanks, mortars, helicopters and anti-armour rockets. First they launched rockets at “enemy” bases, which were marked by white circles on a hillside. Helicopters then fired missiles at the targets, followed by tanks and ground troops. The forces also simulated the rescue of injured soldiers. Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok, Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung, Commissioner of Customs and Excise Roy Tang Yun-kwong and several legislators were among hundreds of people in attendance. New People's Party lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun said it was necessary to hold PLA drills locally because Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China and drills should not just happen on the mainland. He said: “It is definitely beneficial to have drills in Hong Kong because it can let Hongkongers know the level of [China's] military power. It is definitely necessary to enhance our identity as Chinese.” It was understood the drill involved drones for the first time, as well as the long-distance Hongjian 73 anti-tank guided missile. It came amid a rising pro-independence sentiment in the city. The Hong Kong government has taken the unprecedented step of a legal attempt to disqualify two pro-independence lawmakers for breaking the Basic Law during their swearing-in last month. During the session, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, both of Youngspiration, pronounced China as “Chee-na”, which sounded like a derogatory term for China. Legislative Council chairman Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen banned them from retaking the oath or attending meetings until the Court of First Instance rules on the judicial review on Thursday. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

New cross-Strait exchange programs announced (Xinhua)
2016-11-04
Over 40 cross-Strait exchange programs for 2017 were announced Thursday at the closing ceremony of a forum on the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations held in Beijing. The programs covered various fields, including innovation and entrepreneurship, sports and film. At the forum, which kicked off on Wednesday and was jointly hosted by 20 non-governmental organizations from across the Taiwan Strait, more than 200 participants from the mainland and Taiwan discussed politics, economy, culture, society and youth. Attendees called on people from both sides of the Strait to adhere to the 1992 Consensus, which they say is the basis for consolidating political mutual trust across the Strait, oppose "Taiwan independence" and safeguard peace and stability of cross-Strait relations. Taiwan and the mainland should enhance economic cooperation to address the common challenges faced by the two sides, said discussion participants, urging Taiwan authorities to lift restrictions on mainland investment and take opportunities provided by the Belt and Road Initiative to boost the economy. The attendees also agreed that people-to-people exchanges across the Strait should be expanded and deepened amid the suspension of communication mechanisms between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping warns Communist Party would be 'overthrown' if Taiwan's independence push left unchecked (SCMP)
2016-11-04
Mainland China's Communist Party would be overthrown by the people if it failed to properly deal with Taiwanese pro-independence, President Xi Jinping told the head of the Kuomintang party in Beijing this week, according to the self-ruled island's media. The reports, including by United Daily News, quoted unidentified sources who attended the meeting on Tuesday as saying Xi said Beijing's opposition to Taiwanese independence was “based on the prospect of the great rejuvenation of the China nation”. “From the position of Chinese people's nationalism, 1.3 billion people on the mainland would not agree to Taiwan's formal independence,” Xi was quoted as saying by the Daily News. “The Communist Party would be overthrown by the people if the pro-independence issue was not dealt with.” Beijing “would not let other international forces intervene” should Taiwan declare independence, Xi reportedly told KMT leader Hung Hsiu-chu. A member of the delegation contacted by the South China Morning Post refused to confirm or deny the accuracy of the reports, only saying Xi's words reflected that Beijing did not want to see cross-strait relations descend into chaos and create unrest. “The most important goal is to avoid social unrest. And Taiwanese can only enjoy life and development in peaceful times,” he said. Beijing cut off official communication with the island after the independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen, from the Democratic Progressive Party, took office earlier this year and refused to explicitly endorse the 1992 consensus, an agreement made that year by the semi-official organisations across the strait to adopt the “one-China” principle. It was an understanding that there is only “one China”, but each side would have its own interpretation of what constitutes “China”. Xi was scheduled to deliver a 15-minute speech, but he made additional remarks and spoke for 30 minutes, according to the report. Hung told reporters after the meeting that she asked Xi to consider giving more room for Taiwan to participate in international diplomatic gatherings, to which he responded “there will be no hurdle if the one-China position is respected”. Zhang Zhijun, director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, warned the island against following the path taken by former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian, whose push for independence brought the two sides to “the verge of war”, according to an article he wrote in Xinhua. But Beijing would continue to work for the benefit of Taiwanese people, he said. Zhang Wensheng, a professor at the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University, said Xi's remarks underscored the importance the party attached to safeguarding territorial integrity. Failure to do so would lose it support among the Chinese people. Zhang said the article was a clear warning that seeking independence would leave Beijing no other option but to wage war. ^ top ^

Xi-Hung meeting vital to cross-Strait relations: mainland official (Xinhua)
2016-11-03
The Chinese mainland's Taiwan affairs chief on Wednesday hailed a meeting between the leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Kuomintang (KMT) Party in Taiwan. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, met with KMT leader Hung Hsiu-chu and her delegation in Beijing on Tuesday. In a signed article published on Wednesday, Zhang Zhijun, head of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said the Xi-Hung meeting is vital to exchanges between the two parties and the development of cross-Strait ties. Xi's proposals on cross-Strait relationship will guide the development of the ties under the new situation, Zhang wrote. Xi's remarks recognized the contribution by the KMT and the CPC in cross-Strait peaceful development, showcasing the mainland's will to deepen CPC-KMT exchanges and boost cross-Strait ties, Zhang said. Xi pointed out the right direction for the development of cross-Strait relationship, and voiced resolution and confidence in defeating attempts of seeking "Taiwan independence," Zhang noted in the article. In his remarks, Xi also stressed the mainland's unchanged policies of serving the people on both sides of the Strait, as he called on two parties to promote the integrated social and economic development across the Strait, and promised continued efforts to benefit Taiwan compatriots, Zhang added. ^ top ^

Time to resume talks, Taiwanese president tells the mainland (SCMP)
2016-11-03
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen has called on the mainland to resume talks with the island to ensure peaceful cross-strait relations. Tsai made the call on Wednesday, a day after mainland President Xi Jinping demanded that Taiwan adhere to the “1992 consensus” to maintain the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and exchanges. The consensus is an understanding that there is only “one China”, though each side has its own interpretation of what constitutes “China”. Tsai, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has refused to publicly accept the consensus, and cross-strait relations have cooled since she took office in May. Although Tsai has acknowledged there was such a meeting in 1992 at which both sides preserved their differences to seek common ground, Beijing suspended talks with Taipei in June. Calling for the mainland to respect the mainstream opinion in Taiwan, Tsai was quoted by the island's Presidential Office in a statement as saying, “We hope the Beijing authorities can recognise the strong belief in a democratic system among the Taiwanese people.” “Both sides should make greater efforts to promote exchanges and dialogue that are constructive and build peaceful and stable cross-strait relations that are persistent,” she added. Tsai also called on the mainland to recognise the existence of the Republic of China – Taiwan's official title — and the strong belief in the democratic system shared by the Taiwanese people. On Tuesday, Xi pledged resolute opposition to forces supporting Taiwanese independence and their activities, and suggested that the mainland's Communist Party and Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang should discuss the possibility of ending cross-strait hostility and reach a peace pact on the basis of the one-China principle While the DPP and pro-independence lawmakers heaped scorn on Kuomintang chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu for trying to “sell out” Taiwan by bringing up a peace pact in talks with Xi on her visit to Beijing, local academics said Xi intended to use his talks with Hung to tell the Tsai administration she must adhere to the consensus and the one-China principle. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Tax weighs down 87 per cent of China's business owners, survey finds (SCMP)
2016-11-04
The mainland needs to thoroughly reform its tax system to help invigorate crucial private sector employment and inject new momentum into the nation's economic growth, says new research. A report published on Thursday by Beijing-based Unirule Institute of Economics, which investigated surveyed 113 small and medium-sized private firms across 12 industries and four provinces, found 87 per cent of entrepreneurs complained about a high tax burden. Their concerns suggest the structural tax cut campaign is largely failing to meet expectations and there is still plenty of room to reduce the non-tax burden. “China needs to examine its 20-year-old proactive tax policy,” said Li Weiguang, a professor at Tianjin University of Finance and Economics and the co-author of the report. The macro tax burden, or the tax-to-gross domestic product ratio, ranges from 30-40 per cent on the mainland, but this does not include expenditures such as on employee's social security payments and government surcharges. “The national tax policy and economic growth have a clear negative correlation as seen from the data in the past 37 years,” said Li, calling for a full-scale tax cut. Private firms, despite stubborn financing difficulties and market entry bottlenecks, face an increasing financial burden. They contributed 51.4 per cent of the national tax revenue in 2014, compared with 39.3 per cent a decade ago, the report said. The proportion paid by state-owned enterprises fell by 10.3 percentage points, to 29.3 per cent, while foreign-funded firms saw the level decline by 1.8 percentage points, to 19.2 per cent. “The high tax burden could be the last straw to send private firms into bankruptcy,” Unirule economist Zhang Shuguang warned. The mainland has pinned hopes on private investment – usually accounting for 60 per cent of total fixed-asset investment – to help stabilise growth. But the January to September growth figure stood at 2.5 per cent – much lower than the 8.2 per cent increase seen for all fixed-asset investment at the national level.^ top ^

 

DPRK

China offers US$3 million in humanitarian aid to flood-hit North Korea (SCMP)
2016-11-02
China on Wednesday announced a US$3 million relief package to North Korea to help it deal with flooding earlier this year that left hundreds dead. The Commerce Ministry has offered the emergency cash to North Korea's northeastern areas for humanitarian aid and reconstruction projects. The flooding along the Tumen River, which runs between the two countries, has left about 70,000 homeless. It was triggered by Typhoon Lionrock, which swept through North Hamgyong and Ryanggang provinces two months ago. The aid announcement comes as North Korea and international organisations are finding it difficult to secure enough funds for disaster stricken areas, mainly due to political concerns stemming from Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme. The ministry said the aid provision was decided following a request from North Korea. It is unclear if this is an additional aid programme as North Korea's official media already reported in late September that China's government had decided to provide relief goods to the devastated areas. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said late last month that the country was considering building temporary floating bridges on the river to transport relief goods to north Hamgyong province. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies renewed its call on Saturday for more funds for tens of thousands of North Koreans in the region still in need of help. Patrick Fuller, the federation's communications manager for the Asia-Pacific region, told a press conference in Beijing that it was disappointing that only 25 per cent of its US$15.5 million emergency appeal, launched on September 21, has been raised so far. After finishing a two-week mission in North Korea, during which he visited the areas in the province, Fuller said the disaster was a humanitarian tragedy and urged the international community to put politics aside to help those affected before winter's chill sets in. North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on September 9, in defiance of multiple international warnings, while its ordinary people were suffering from the flooding. UN Security Council members have been negotiating on how best to punish North Korea for the nuclear test, its second this year. North Korea has also repeatedly test fired ballistic missiles. North Korea is preparing to launch another intermediate range missile, which has a potential range of between 2,500 and 4,000km, in the next 24 to 72 hours, Fox News reported, citing US officials. ^ top ^

China should tighten sanctions and halt coal imports from North Korea, says US envoy (SCMP)
2016-10-29
A senior US official has urged Beijing to work with Washington to close a loophole on North Korean coal imports that the US believes has been critical to propping up the isolated country's finances. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Beijing ahead of talks with Chinese officials that Chinese coal imports from North Korea contributed to US$1 billion in revenue for Pyongyang last year. Blinken's remarks were made as the trade ministers of South Korea, Japan and China expressed concerns at a meeting in Tokyo on Saturday over trade protectionism which they said has been increasing globally and promised to take joint action against it. The ministers agreed to maintain their countries' free trade stance unchanged to promote steady global growth, a statement from South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said after the meeting, which was the 11th of its kind. The statement made by South Korea, Japan and China did not detail what joint response the three countries planned to make against trade protectionism. The US has been seeking new UN sanctions to stymie North Korea's economy and force leader Kim Jong -un into abandoning his nuclear and missile programmes. North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and 24 missile tests this year, demonstrating its progress toward its stated goal of being able to strike the US with nuclear-tipped weapons. China remains the North's only ally and a vital source of hard currency the regime needs for weapons development. An estimated 90 per cent of North Korea's trade passes through China. Beijing agreed in April to halt coal and mineral imports as part of new UN sanctions against the North, but carved out a humanitarian exemption, saying it would still buy coal if the sales are proven to support the livelihood of the North Korean people. Blinken told reporters that China's imports have in fact gone up. “Their approach has been that the trade in coal is allowed unless you can demonstrate that it goes to the weapons programme,” Blinken said, calling it a reversal of the premise of the humanitarian clause. The US and China share a commitment to denuclearising North Korea, but efforts to cooperate have been strained this year by South Korea's decision to deploy an advanced US missile defence system, the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence, or THAAD, to detect incoming strikes from the North. The move deeply angered China, which says the radars have a secondary motive of allowing the US to peer deep into Chinese territory and undermine its security. Blinken reiterated yesterday that the anti-missile system was not directed at China and was a defence against North Korea. He also downplayed the friction with Beijing over THAAD as a factor in new sanctions talks. “My own sense is that has not affected the discussions in New York,” he said. “To the contrary, I think showing that we are dead serious about defending our security and that of our allies and partners, and we'll take any step necessary to do that, will hopefully motivate China to work with us.” ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

ADB and UNICEF sign cooperation agreement to improve water, sanitation and hygiene in schools (gogoMongolia)
2016-11-03
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) signed a cooperation agreement to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in schools and dormitories located in rural remote areas of the western region of Mongolia. This operational cooperation seeks to expand and sustain WASH in schools and dormitories to be supported under the ADB-administered Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) grant for Improving School Dormitory Environment for Primary Students in Western Region Project and a WASH program by UNICEF. “ADB and UNICEF have, in recent years, initiated a partnership for improving WASH in schools and dormitories in Mongolia,” said Yolanda Fernandez Lommen, ADB's Country Director in Mongolia. “Poor condition in schools and dormitories has been one of the critical barriers to ensuring equal access to quality education in rural remote areas. By working together, we can use our comparative strengths and develop innovative solutions in remote rural areas where access to water supply, sewerage, and heating remains a challenge.” “Improving sanitation and hygiene practices for children, their parents and teachers is a priority area for UNICEF's work in Mongolia,” said Roberto Benes, UNICEF Mongolia Representative. ”By partnering with ADB we will maximize potential to ensure that children in remote areas have equitable, sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation services in their schools and dormitories, thus, improving their health and learning performance too.” As part of the cooperation, ADB and UNICEF will support the repair, installation, operations and maintenance of WASH facilities that meet the minimum requirements set by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports and the Ministry of Health in 2015. ADB and UNICEF will also develop and disseminate knowledge and build local capacity for better designing, planning and maintaining WASH facilities in schools and dormitories and for promoting hygiene, safe drinking water, and sanitation. ADB approvals in Mongolia amounted to $297.5 million in 2015, including 4 sovereign loans for $275 million, 2 project grants for $6 million, and 17 technical assistance grants for $16.5 million. ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion. UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child and works in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF Mongolia and its work visit: www.unicef.mn ^ top ^

ICF workshop “Sound Management of Natural Resources continues in Bishkek (Montsame)
2016-11-03
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Cooperation Fund of Mongolia, the Oslo Center of Norway and the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI) is holding the third session of the Sound Management of Natural Resources: The State's Role in the Resource Sector workshop series in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The International Cooperation Fund of Mongolia has been collaborating with the new democracies such as Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and East Timor in strengthening democracy and good governance and sharing its own good practices of the transition to free market economy and democratic system. The first two sessions of workshop series were held in March in Ulaanbaatar and in June in Naypyidaw. The third session in Bishkek attracted more than 60 delegates, including the Minister of Petroleum of East Timor A.Pires, Minister of Planning and Finance of Myanmar U Maung Maung Win, deputy head of the Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources of Kyrgyzstan Ulanbek Riskulov, and Mongolian officials from the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry and private companies. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-11-03
The cabinet of ministers, at its regular meeting on Wednesday, reviewed the results of a Prime Minister's official visit to Japan, paid between October 12 and 15, and resolved to submit them to the National Security Council. -The ministers recognized the visit one step forward to increasing the frequency of high-level interactions and dialogues, strengthening the mutual trust, expanding strategic partnership and upgrading economic ties with new contents. -The cabinet authorized Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil to hold negotiations with the Chinese side on the terms of proposed intergovernmental agreement on tour groups' travel around the Mongolia-China borderline areas. ^ top ^

Nat'l Folk Song and Dance Ensemble becomes The Grand Theatre (Montsame)
2016-11-03
The National Folk Song and Dance Ensemble has a history of more than seven decades. It is time to walk in line with the other global organizations by having a similar legal status, say professional artists. When the ensemble is developed into a grand theatre, wider opportunities would open up for artists through promoting many genres of ethnic folklores of Mongolia, exploiting fully repertory and advancing its foreign relations and cooperation. The proposal was backed by the cabinet on the regular meeting of November 2. The National Folk Song and Dance Ensemble was established in 1945 with a name “Bureau of Entertainment and Concerts”, with a total of 62 personnel, including 19 singers, 27 musicians and 13 dancers, along with the managers and directors. The organization has been gradually enlarged into a collective with more than 190 personnel. ^ top ^

North Korean laborers keep seeking jobs in Mongolia (gogoMongolia)
2016-11-02
North Korea is seeking ways to export its workers to Mongolia as the central Asian country is recruiting foreign laborers to work at its mines, a U.S. broadcaster, monitored here, said Wednesday. "(As far as I know), the North Korean authorities recently set up ways to make use of its workforce, and keeps trying to make contacts with the Mongolian side," the Radio Free Asia (RFA) cited a Mongolian construction official as saying over the phone. As Mongolia is currently recruiting foreign laborers as miners, North Korea workers are likely to aggressively apply, the official said. The mining work will go on full scale in March next year, he added. Mongolia began to hire North Korean workers en masse in 2008, and such employment peaked with 5,000 in 2013. At present, however, the number of North Korean workers working in Mongolia has decreased to some 1,000 due to an economic slump that hit the central Asian nation in 2014. More than 50,000 North Koreans are believed to be forced to work overseas, mainly in China and Russia, sending substantial amounts of their salaries to the Pyongyang regime. The North reportedly earns more than USD 200 million per year through labor exports, Yonhap reports. ^ top ^

Government bans advertisement and procurement of organ donation (Montsame)
2016-11-03
The cabinet considered and approved the concept of draft new wording of the Law on Donors. when adopted, the revised law will encourage conducting organ transplant operations in Mongolia to reduce outflow of money abroad, promote deceased organ donation and protect live donors. It sets out prohibition of advertisement of organ donation and procurement between donors and patients, which will prevent human trafficking. The law was adopted in 2000, and amended in 2012. ^ top ^

Speaker M.Enkhbold receives Tibetan parliament delegates (Montsame)
2016-11-01
Chairman of the State Great Khural (Parliament) M.Enkhbold received delegates from Tibet, headed by Mr Byambadash, Vice Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, on October 31. This is the first parliament-level visit from Tibet to Mongolia, noted the Speaker. He also applauded the growth of ties between Mongolia and Tibet, the two peoples that have long-standing cultural bonds from the ancient times, in all spheres including politics, society and people-to-people contacts. The Speaker noted the relations with the People's Republic of China, our neighbor in the South, is one of top priorities of the Mongolia's foreign policy. One of the most successful areas of Mongolia-China bilateral ties is the relations between the legislatures, he added. The head of the guest delegation, Mr Byambadash thanked Speaker M.Enkhbold for his time. Mr Byambadash highlighted “The future of Tibet looks bright, as a goal is pursued towards building a prosperous society by 2020 under the leadership of Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party. Mongolia will continue to maintain its policy, which views Tibet as an integral part of China, noted the Speaker and wished the Tibetan Vice Chairman a success in his endeavours for future development of Tibet. Present were, L.Enkh-Amgalan, B.Saranchimeg and L.Bold MPs, head of the Committee on Ethnic Groups, Religion and Immigrants under the People's Congress of the Tibetan Autonomous Region Tungaa, deputies of the National People's Congress of China Yondon and Jamiyannyam. ^ top ^

Nine facts of Chinggis Khaan (gogoMongolia)
2016-10-31
Mongol Empire established by the Chinggis Khaan and his following Kings was the second largest contiguous land empire in history which covered 33 million hectares of land from Korean Peninsula to Hungary. At that time, 100 million countries were being ruled under the leadership of Mongol Empire including China, Iraq, Iran and Central Asian countries which were the developed and the most populous. IKH ZASAG LAW (YASSA) Chinggis Khaan approved Ikh Zasag Law (Great Administration) in order to enforce discipline in Mongol Empire and strictly complied with the law. He prohibited stealing, lying and adultery while he upheld freedom of belief. The Ikh Zasag Law was the success key of Mongol Empire. INEXHAUSTIBLE & INEXCUSABLE FIGHTER After the death of his father, Temuujin and his family overcame the lethal and hard fights for survival. When he was only 10 years-old, he fought with his older half-brother for the power of the eldest male in the family and Temuujin killed him with bows and arrows. Campaign to unite scattered tribes of the steppe is considered to be started from that moment. PROMINENT MILITARY LEADER Chinggis Khaan was prominent military leader. Many cases remain that he won their enemies with unexpected tricky method. All Mongols were horsemanship, they drive horse with their two feet and their hands become free to shoot by bow and arrow. DIPLOMACY DEVELOPER Chinggis Khaan prefers coexistence of harmony and peace. He declared the inviolable rights of official messengers and representatives to the world. MYSTERIOUS Chinggis Khaan had never allowed to paint his portrait. His first portrait was painted after his death. His descendants and servants buried his body in a very mysterious way. They held major ceremony in four other places in order to hide the exact place where he was finally buried. ENJOYER OF BEAUTY After the victory of war, Mongols were used to align the prisoner women and girls in front of the king, princes and generals. At first, the King choose the women that he liked the most and leave others to his princes and outstanding soldiers. Some historical sources said that Chinggis Khaan had more than 40 concubines. But Chinggis Khan had total of six queens. DESCENDANTS 0.5 percent men in the world`s population is the direct descendants of Chinggis Khaan. In other words, total of 16 million people are the direct descendants of Chinggis Khaan. Scientists estimated that number of indirect descendants of Chinggis Khan reached nearly 800 million people. DEVELOPER OF THE WORLD Development and conquest of Mongol Empire has made significant contribution to the development of the world`s economy and trade. Mongols developed the improvement of courier post and diplomatic messenger. Some ascribe that Europeans was frightened of Mongolian conquest and started to unite which laid the foundation of current European Union. HOW DID THE CHINGGIS KHAAN DIE? Reason for his death is the most mysterious thing of his life. The most popular myth is that he died from injury because of he fell off a horse. There are also some common options, of him dying of a sickness and arrow wound in his legs. Another one is that he was poisoned or murdered by Chinese princess. However, Chinggis Khaan successfully concealed his peaceful place to sleep forever. Scientists assume that he is buried somewhere close to the Burhan Haldun Mountain in Hentii Aimag. ^ top ^

Police department to collaborate with US (Montsame)
2016-10-28
First Deputy Chief of the General Police Department Colonel P.Batbaatar has received delegates of the Office of National Drug Control Policy of the US Department of State and the International Developmenht Law Organization (IDLO). Present were also, the project coordinator of IDLO in Mongolia D.Oyunchimeg. Since last February, 5 officials from the police department have received training on police actions against domestic violence in the frameworks of the IDLO project. The project continues to train 70 more police officers on prevention and combating drug trafficking and domestic violence. For this, the Colonel has extended gratitude on behalf of the staff of the police department. ^ top ^

Minister of Finance submits Program on Overcoming Economic Difficulties and Stabilization (Montsame)
2016-10-28
With a view to tackle economic and financial challenges the country is confronted with, the Minister of Finance, Mr B.Choijilsuren presented the draft of the above program along with other bills concerning the current economic condition. The program sets out more than 60 policy measures to be taken for stabilizing the macroeconomic conditions, mid-term economic restructuring, securing sustainable growth and alleviating debt pressure. It is calculated that the actual growth will reach 3.0 percent in 2017, through stabilizing the macroeconomic condition by ensuring the compliance between monetary and budgetary policies and increasing flow of foreign exchange. Furthermore, the program authors strived for reaching 5.1 percent economic growth in 2018 and 7.1 percent in 2019 through reducing the transportation costs of the mining industry and improving the competitiveness of the export-oriented goods with better infrastructure and increasing export from non-extractive sectors. The full accomplishment of all measures provided for in the program will enable increasing growth of the processing industry by 6.3 percent in 2017-2019 and by more than 10 percent starting from 2019, and creating about 20 thousand jobs each year between 2017 and 2019 and attaining less than 8.0 percent unemployment by the end of 2019, according to the introductory note. The program envisions that the exports will reach USD 5.4 billion and imports – USD 5.5 billion, in connection with the increased demand for constructions, and will result in a total trade turnover of USD 10.9 billion in 2019. If implemented fully, the program will help increasing the annual direct foreign investment to USD 2.0-3.0 billion, relieving the balance of payment pressure and attaining positive balance in the medium term, as well as strengthening national currency rate against foreign ones. ^ 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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