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
  7-11.11.16, No. 647  
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Switzerland

Switzerland: New consulate general to open in Chengdu (Global Times)
2016-11-06
As part of the government's efforts to promote business between China and Switzerland and further boost Sino-Swiss bilateral relations, Switzerland is opening a consulate general in Chengdu, Sichuan Province in November. Frank Eggmann was appointed the consul general. The new consulate general will focus on the economy, trade, innovation and tourism. An official opening ceremony will take place in early 2017. It will be Switzerland's fifth official representation in China. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou in Guangdong Province and Hong Kong also have a consulate general. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

With election of Trump, 'curtain has fallen' over Sino-US cooperation over climate (SCMP)
2016-11-11
The election of Donald Trump as US president could effectively put an end to the honeymoon period of Sino-US cooperation on climate change, which saw the world's two largest carbon emitters formally join the Paris accord. Mainland experts said that although Trump's victory was unlikely to derail China's domestic energy and climate policies, the era of cooperation between the two nations on keeping the global temperature rise to within a safe limit was over. “The curtain has fallen with Trump's election today,” Wu Changhua, former China director of the Climate Group, said. “It is a heavy blow to the Paris Agreement, which has just entered into force. Now we'll need to draft a new script for global climate leadership.” More than 100 countries, including the United States, have formally joined the pact, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help vulnerable countries adapt to rising seas, intensifying heat waves, desertification and other effects of a warming planet. It limits global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Obama made climate change a policy priority and his three summits with President Xi Jinping during his term injected momentum into turning the Paris deal into reality. China's top negotiator Xie Zhenhua has called on Trump to “take policy stances that conform with global trends” and said China would honour its climate pledge with no strings attached. Zou Ji, a veteran climate negotiator and deputy director of China's National Climate Change Strategy Research and International Cooperation Centre, said tackling environmental issues would no longer be a “highlight” of relations between the two sides and implementation of the Paris deal would probably take a back seat. China should look for other areas in energy over which the two sides could cooperate under a Trump presidency, Zou said. The pessimism among Chinese climate advocates extends to activists at the annual UN climate conference in Marrakesh, Morocco. May Boeve, leader of the 350.org environmental group, called the election a “disaster”. “Trump will try and slam the brakes on climate action, which means we need to throw all of our weight on the accelerator,” Boeve said. “In the United States, the climate movement will put everything on the line to protect the progress we've made and continue to push for bold action.” The president-elect has made himself an enemy of environmentalists by calling global warming a “hoax” created by China to contain the US, extolling the resurgent fossil fuel industry in the US, and pledging in May to “cancel” the Paris deal. Though it remains to be seen whether Trump's campaign rhetoric will translate into actual policies, the president-elect has reportedly picked Mryon Ebell, one of the best-known climate sceptics, to lead the US Environmental Protection Agency, deepening concern among green advocates. The Paris Agreement – which does not make national reduction targets legally binding – was designed so the US could adopt it without congressional approval. US President Obama could use his administrative power to “accept” the treaty to bring the US on board, according to an article penned by Chai Qimin, a senior researcher from the same national climate centre as Zou's. Even if Trump does not begin the complex legal procedures to officially withdraw from the accord, he could still refuse to abide by the commitments through domestic legislation that runs counter to the deal, amounting to a “substantive leave” of the global agreement. Refusing to inject promised climate funding would also threaten the welfare of most vulnerable countries – small island states and the least developed nations. ^ top ^

US pivot to Asia 'likely to continue on smaller scale' under Trump (SCMP)
2016-11-11
The new administration of Donald Trump will not repudiate the US “pivot to Asia” strategy, and it may even strengthen the country's military capacity and presence around the world, according to the president-elect's top military advisers. The implications of Trump's foreign and defence policy remain to be seen, but some observers have said that a Trump administration might provide strategic opportunities for China to extend its presence in Asia. In an opinion piece published in the South China Morning Post on Thursday, James Woolsey, a senior adviser to Trump on national security, said the new administration would need to reverse defence budget cuts and make sure the US was still the leading military force in the world. “The US sees itself as the holder of the balance of power in Asia and is likely to remain quite determined to protect its allies against Chinese overreach,” Woolsey, who served as CIA director under president Bill Clinton, writes. “China should realise that our reflexes in Asia are not driven by territorial ambitions.” Two other defence advisers to the Trump campaign, Senator Jeff Sessions who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Congressman Randy Forbes, chairman of a subcommittee on sea power, told Defence News that Trump's plan would still involve some kind of “Pacific pivot”, but that “the US can't just put all of its eggs in one basket”. Sessions, who has been widely tipped as secretary of defence in the new administration, revealed that Trump wanted to upgrade the US military by adding 60,000 troops and building more advanced warships, including cruisers, destroyers and submarines. In order to make this security plan more feasible, Forbes said that Trump and his defence advisers were going to have “an international defence strategy that is driven by the Pentagon and not by the political National Security Council”. Forbes said this meant the incoming president's defence policy could be more “hawkish” than that of his predecessor, Barack Obama. In his campaign rhetoric, Trump insisted that US allies in the Asia-Pacific region must pay their “fair share” of their national security expenses. However, Sessions said that it was not easy to work out what exactly these allies should spend their money on, and that they could rest assured that Trump's administration would continue the US strategic partnership with them. Military observers outside the United States said that they believed Trump would not completely reverse the current US policy towards Asia, because his decisions would ultimately have to be guided by the country's national interests. “President Trump probably will not repudiate the pivot, but he is not likely to embrace, much less highlight, that policy either,” Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow for defence and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, said. “His approach won't be an isolationist policy, but it will be a more restrained and nationalist policy.” Dr Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy, a research associate at the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, said that despite Trump's erratic election rhetoric, the incoming president would likely appoint a seasoned and experienced individual to his team to take care of defence issues. “Individuals play important roles in shaping policies, but certainly national interest is of utmost importance. “Democratic institutions will temper Trump's rhetoric,” he said. “You may expect a repackaging and rebranding of foreign policies in a nuanced way. In his victory speech, Mr Trump talked about common ground and partnership,” Chaturvedy added. “I am optimistic about Trump's engagement with Asia.” However, Shi Yinhong, a specialist on Sino-US relations at Beijing's Renmin University, said Trump's election would bring “danger to the world we have been familiar with”. “A weakened and very disorganised West will give China many strategic opportunities, but also make China's economic difficulties graver at this economically difficult time. It will also make China even more assertive on the strategic front when prudence has already declined.” ^ top ^

US opposition to AIIB 'strategic mistake', says senior Trump adviser (SCMP)
2016-11-10
A top adviser to US president-elect Donald Trump has lashed out at the Obama administration's opposition to China's economic diplomacy, especially the decision to stay away from the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. In an opinion piece in the South China Morning Post on Friday, James Woolsey, a senior adviser to Trump on national security and intelligence, called Washington's spurning of the China-led multilateral lender “a strategic mistake” and expected a “much warmer” response from Trump to President Xi Jinping's “One Belt, One Road” initiative. The United States and Japan are the only two G7 countries that have not signed up to be AIIB members, a move viewed by Beijing as a sign of Washington's mistrust of the Chinese government and its ambition to exert bigger regional influence. Analysts said that if Trump backed US membership of the AIIB and endorsed China's efforts to revive trade routes along the ancient Silk Road, it would be a big sign of goodwill from Washington to Beijing to pave the way for future agreements. Wang Huiyao, a director at the Centre for China and Globalisation, a think tank in Beijing, said: “China can invite the United States to join the AIIB after Trump's inauguration.” Wang also said a Trump presidency was not necessarily bad for Sino-US economic ties despite his China-bashing rhetoric on the campaign trail. Former Chinese vice-commerce minister Wei Jianguo agreed, saying that while Trump labelled China a currency manipulator and threatened trade wars, he might have a more open attitude towards China-backed institutions and investment programmes. Wei, now a deputy director of the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, said that if Trump embraced the AIIB, more trade and investment deals could flow between the two economies. “There is huge potential for cooperation between China and the US,” Wei said. Analysts said Beijing would also be relieved if Trump followed through on a vow to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a Pacific Rim trade agreement that includes the US, Japan, Australia and Vietnam but not China. The TPP is the economic centrepiece of the Obama administration's “pivot to Asia” and Beijing sees it as a push to weaken China's role in the global trade system. Zhang Zhexin, from the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said the end of the TPP would expand Beijing's room to advance its own schemes. “If the US is not committed to regional trade deals, China will find a new chance to push forward its own trade deals, bilateral agreements as well as the 'One Belt, One Road' strategy,” Zhang said. “The US' economic leadership in the world would be questioned, offering additional room for China to deepen its economic ties with Asia-Pacific countries.” Daiwa Capital Markets economists Kevin Lai and Olivia Xia said that if Trump aborted the TPP, China could avoid the risks of “being shut out of a massive trade deal”. But it could also delay much-needed reforms in China. “Without the threat from the TPP, China could continue to support inefficient state-owned enterprises to strengthen the state control and impose local-content requirements on multinational companies to keep jobs in China,” they said. Analysts also warned that competition between the US and China for influence would continue on the economic front. “Even if Trump kills the TPP … it doesn't mean the US will pull out from Asia,” Liu Weidong, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, said. “The US is giving up a particular trade arrangement, but it will not give up its economic interests in Asia.” ^ top ^

Top Chinese police official chosen as Interpol head (SCMP)
2016-11-10
A top Chinese public security official was elected president of the international police cooperation organisation Interpol on Thursday, a move observers said could boost China's efforts to repatriate fugitive corrupt officials. But human rights watchers voiced concern that China could use the world's biggest law enforcement agency to its advantage to pursue dissidents abroad. Meng Hongwei, a vice-minister for public security, was chosen to head the agency at its general assembly in Bali, Indonesia. Meng, 63, the first Chinese to hold the post, has headed Interpol's National Central Bureau for China since he became a deputy public security minister in 2004. Observers said Meng's election could help Beijing in its high-profile pursuit of corrupt, fugitive officials, an effort stepped up in recent years as part of President Xi Jinping's unprecedented crackdown on corruption. Since China launched the international manhunt “Operation Fox Hunt” in 2014, more than 2,000 economic fugitives have been brought back to China, including 342 former officials. University of Hong Kong assistant professor Zhu Jiangnan said Meng's presidency could help improve China's links with other countries, potentially resulting in more repatriations of fugitives. “China needs more international cooperation, such as information, data and manpower sharing, to successfully catch fugitives overseas,” Zhu said. Meng vowed to work with all of Interpol's member states to make it a “stronger platform for global police cooperation” and improve regional and global police coordination, Xinhua reported. Zunyou Zhou, a senior researcher at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, agreed that Meng's new job would aid China in its hunt for fugitives. But the “biggest hurdle” was still the absence of formal extradition treaties between China and Western countries, especially the United States. “The Chinese government has to convince these countries that the corruption suspects, if repatriated, can receive a fair trial,” Zhou said. Human rights watchers warned that China could also abuse the platform to hunt down overseas dissidents. “It's worrying since China has in the past misused the Interpol system by issuing red notices against Uygur human rights activists – such as Dolkun Isa,” Amnesty International China researcher William Nee said. “It's also potentially worrying because China has stepped up its efforts to return dissidents living abroad in countries such as Thailand.” Isa is an exiled activist from Xinjiang and was granted refugee status by Germany, where he now lives and works as the executive chairman of the Munich-based World Uygur Congress. He was put on a list of Uygur “terrorists” by China in 2003 and is subject to an Interpol red notice at the request of Beijing ^ top ^

China urges Japan to responsibly deal with comfort women issue (Xinhua)
2016-11-10
A Foreign Ministry spokesman on Thursday urged Japan to deal with comfort women issue responsibly. The conscription of "comfort women" was a grave crime against humanity committed by the Japanese military during World War II, said spokesman Lu Kang at a daily press briefing. According to Japanese media reports, surviving "comfort women" from the Republic of Korea (ROK), the Philippines, Indonesia and East Timor called on the Japanese government last Friday to make a formal apology and offer compensation to victims, while rejecting a December agreement between Japan and the ROK that was intended to permanently settle the issue. One agreement can not completely settle the issue, they said, calling for a solution acceptable to all victims in all countries. They also demanded that the matter be included in Japanese textbooks and that the victims be compensated. China has taken note of those reports, said Lu, adding that China's position on the issue is clear and consistent. "We have always urged the Japanese side to face up to and reflect on its history of aggression, draw lessons from history, deal with relevant issues with a responsible attitude and win trust from its Asian neighbors and the international community." Lu hoped that the Japanese side would teach its citizens accurate history, ensure they have a comprehensive and objective understanding of the history and never allow the tragedies to repeat. ^ top ^

China says EU's proposed anti-dumping rules disappointing (Xinhua)
2016-11-10
The EU's proposed anti-dumping regulations do not conform to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, according to a Ministry of Commerce official. China appreciated the European Commission's proposal to abolish its "non-market economy" list but was disappointed it had introduced a "market distortions" clause, which is another way to extend current "analogue country" methodology, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang said at a press conference Thursday. Shen's comments came after the European Commission proposed new methodology to determine whether manufacturers from countries including China, are dumping products. The move comes one month before the expiration of some provisions under Article 15 of the Protocol on China's accession to the WTO, due on December 11. The expiration would require WTO members to end the so-called "analogue country" methodology under which price data in a third country is used to calculate the value of products from a non-market economy country. Shen urged the EU to completely end the "analogue country" methodology and ensure that its new standards are "fair, reasonable and transparent." ^ top ^

Xi calls for strong, modern military logistics (Xinhua)
2016-11-10
President Xi Jinping has called for the building of strong and modern logistics forces that will guarantee the realization of the Chinese dream as well as the dream of a strong army. Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the remarks at a CMC meeting on logistics held from Wednesday to Thursday. Xi praised the logistics forces' contributions to the country's revolution, construction and reform periods, urging logistics staff to strengthen a sense of responsibility to achieve "leapfrog development" and secure a foundation for the construction of a leading military. "As the international military competition situation experiences profound changes, and national interests and military missions develop, logistical construction is becoming an increasingly crucial factor that affects wins or losses in battle... and occupies a key place in the development of the Party, the country and the military," Xi noted. "We must build a logistics force in which everything exists for fighting a war. It must always remain true to the fundamental purpose of helping win a war," Xi said. Stressing strategic planning and guidance, Xi called for more efforts to research logistics theories and innovation while solving problems that hold back logistics development. The president urged Party committees and military commanders at all levels to attach great importance to military logistics work, with a focus on the reform of logistics policies and optimization of structures and distribution. Xi called for scientific and economic management of logistics work, urging military funds and resources to be subjected to centralized and unified management, allocation and use. According to Xi, more efforts should be made to use state-level resources and enlist the help of local governments as well as social groups and individuals to develop a series of innovation projects that cater to both military and civilian uses. Since the CPC's 18th National Congress in late 2012, Xi has attached great importance to logistics work. Xi met with attendees of a PLA meeting on logistics in November 2013. In September 2016, Xi conferred flags to joint logistics units as the CMC established a joint logistics support force. Xi asked logistics staff to push forward their work in line with the requirements of comprehensive and strict Party governance. Xi also called for efforts to prioritize ideological and political construction and remain determined in fighting corruption in the army and clearing up the bad influence of Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou. The president urged the military to stay clear-minded and safeguard the authority of the CPC Central Committee and the command of the CPC Central Committee and the CMC, asking them to strengthen intra-Party supervision. Xi also urged efforts to build strong logistics forces by fostering high-quality talent. CMC vice chairmen Fan Changlong and Xu Qiliang attended the meeting. ^ top ^

Nepali PM stresses on collaborative development projects among China, Nepal and India (Xinhua)
2016-11-10
Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said on Wednesday that collaborative development projects under the framework of the trans Himalayan cooperation among China, Nepal and India can be mutually beneficial for all the three countries. Addressing a seminar entitled "Trans-Himalayan Cooperation beyond Trilateral Discourse" organised by the National Development Institute in Kathmandu, the Nepali prime minister said that Nepal can serve as an important transit corridor between China and India. "To realize that role for Nepal, and indeed to resurrect that role of Nepal, we need to invest in infrastructures --build multilane highways and railways that can join the big economic giants of north and south," he said, adding "A huge amount of capital needs to be injected to build such infrastructures. Countries of the trans-Himalayan area especially India and China can cooperate to invest in such projects of infrastructure build-ups." The prime minister also said that the prospect of proposed concept of trilateral cooperation has received positive response from leaders of China, Nepal and India. "Few weeks ago in Goa of India, I held meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping where I reiterated the necessity of trilateral cooperation." The prime minister praised China and India's policies to give priorities to their immediate neighbourhood. "India has been pursuing 'neighbourhood first' policy. And, China's neighbourhood policy or peripheral diplomacy is gaining traction. Similarly, maintaining harmonious relations with the neighbourhood remains our priority. This commonality of approach is a huge opportunity for us," he added. "China's one Belt and one Road Initiative along with Silk Route Fund can be a helpful framework to invest in trans-Himalayan infrastructures in China, Nepal and India," he said adding "Similarly, the BRICS Bank (New Development Bank) can be another source of funding for such infrastructures." Meanwhile, Nepal's Former Foreign Minister Dr. Bhesh Bahadur Thapa said that the enhanced trilateral cooperation among China, Nepal and India is an opportunity for all the three countries in the changed global context. During the one-day seminar, foreign affairs experts from China, Nepal and India talked about the challenges and opportunities of the trans Himalayan cooperation among the three countries. ^ top ^

Chinese police to extradite two fugitives from France in second repatriation (SCMP)
2016-11-09
Chinese police will extradite two fugitives from France in the second repatriation since the two countries signed an extradition treaty that came into effect in 2015, state media reported on Wednesday. Two Chinese suspects, both private businesswomen, “are accused of fraud and using illegal means to raise funds”, the official China Daily said, citing an unnamed official from the Ministry of Public Security. The suspects are expected to be sent back after China negotiates an agreement with France over sharing their assets, the newspaper said. One fugitive is a businesswoman named Feng Jinfang, while the other one was unnamed in the article. The newspaper did not state how much the two women's assets are worth. China has asked the French authorities to help with the extradition and says it will serve as an example for other cases in Western countries, according to the official. Chinese police repatriated a fugitive surnamed Chen from France in September, the first case since the extradition treaty came into effect. Chen was accused of taking public funds of more than 20 million yuan ($2.95 million) without authorisation. China has been pushing for increased international cooperation in its campaign to track down and repatriate corrupt officials and other citizens who moved assets overseas, often to avoid being caught in President Xi Jinping's war against graft that began when he took office almost four years ago. Western countries besides France have so far proved reluctant to sign extradition treaties with China as rights groups say that the country does not meet international standards for the just treatment of criminals and often provides inadequate proof for crimes when sentencing. ^ top ^

China and Russia draw closer with raft of deals covering nuclear power, energy and border co-operation (SCMP)
2016-11-09
China and Russia agreed to step up cooperation on nuclear energy and border development during an official visit by Premier Li Keqiang. But analysts tempered their enthusiasm for the deals by saying the significance would depend on the speed of implementation. Li arrived in St Petersburg on Sunday for a four-day official visit and met Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday, and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. “In the context of fragile world economic recovery and slowing global trade growth, China and Russia should further give full play to their complementary advantages, so as to add new vitality into each other's development, revitalisation, and economic transformation and upgrade,” Li said. The two sides signed agreements spanning trade, energy, military and technical cooperation, as well as construction of nuclear power plants. Russia would construct new plants in China, with the first scheduled to begin operation by 2018, according to a statement by the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation. The two sides would develop floating nuclear power facilities and “fast-neutron” reactors, a fourth-generation technology, TASS news agency reported. The two sides expanded cooperation over energy, with Gazprom and Rosneft signing deals with their Chinese counterparts. China and Russia will also establish a joint commission to coordinate development in Russia's Far East and Baikal region and northeast China. China and Russia would also expand transport ties, cross-border infrastructure and logistics, within the framework of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, according to the communiqué. But experts remained cautious over the significance of the raft of deals, saying the test would come with implementation. “Economic cooperation between China and Russia has been bolstered for years and it's now on a steady track,” said Tian Chunsheng, a Russian affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Science. “China and Russia have stepped up cooperation in the energy industry but actual progress in implementation is very slow.” She added: “What we should now focus on is not how many new deals are signed, but how many deals can be really implemented, as China and Russia are facing many economic development challenges such as reducing overcapacity and economic restructuring.” China is Russia's biggest trading partner and an important source of foreign investment, while Russia is one of China's main suppliers of energy and advanced technology. “Russia is of huge strategic importance to China for it's an indispensable participant in China's Silk Road economic belt. If China fails to get support from Russia, China's economic initiatives would probably encounter problems,” said Yang Cheng, an expert on Russian affairs at East China Normal University. Russia is the last stop of Li's eight-day Eurasia trip. ^ top ^

New Philippine ambassador says China is complying with arbitration ruling (SCMP)
2016-11-09
By letting Philippine fishermen return to the disputed Scarborough Shoal, China was complying with an international arbitral ruling, just without acknowledging it, Manila's incoming ambassador to Beijing said on Tuesday. Jose Santiago Santa Romana, an academic and political appointee of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, said Beijing's end to its blockade of the South China Sea shoal meant it was essentially following the July award by the tribunal in The Hague – a ruling China refused to recognise. Filipino fishermen say that since Duterte returned from his high-profile visit to repair ties with China last month, the Chinese coastguard has largely left them alone. “China is now complying with the arbitration court's ruling, that's what our American lawyer is saying,” he told Filipino businessmen at a forum, referring to Paul Reichler, the chief legal counsel for the Philippines in the case it lodged in 2013. “China has insisted sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal but promised to do something about our fishermen when the president raised the issue.” The remarks by Santa Romana, a scholar who specialises in China, may not be to Beijing's liking given its disdain for the tribunal. It has bristled at calls by Western countries to comply with the award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which it called a “law-abusing tribunal”, a “farce” and a “puppet” of external forces. China claims most of the energy-rich waters through which about US$5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims. The tribunal ruled in favour of the Philippines in numerous areas, saying China's “nine-dash line” denoting its maritime sovereignty claims has no basis. It also declared the Scarborough Shoal a traditional fishing ground that all claimants were entitled to exploit. The ambassador-designate said the Scarborough Shoal was discussed at length when he joined a team led by former Philippine president Fidel Ramos to meet “old friends” in Hong Kong in August with a view to breaking the ice with China. “China has made a commitment that it will not reclaim the shoal, preserving it as a marine sanctuary, so it is not allowing even Chinese fishermen to fish inside the lagoon,” he said, referring to what was discussed. “The two countries should now work out some rules of engagement between our two coastguards to avoid a repeat of the stand-off.” When asked last week about the Scarborough Shoal, China's foreign ministry last week said the situation “has not changed and will not change”. ^ top ^

China urges U.S. to respect Philippines' independent foreign policy (Xinhua)
2016-11-07
China on Monday urged the United States to respect the Philippines' right to an independent foreign policy. U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel told a news briefing in Washington last Thursday that he saw no evidence that President Rodrigo Duterte is backing away from the legal decision rendered by the tribunal on South China Sea, nor would he expect any Philippine leader to find it in their own best interests to do so. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said it is very interesting to see other countries repeatedly explain the position of the Philippines. "To precisely understand the position of the Philippines, we should listen to what the Philippine leaders have said," he said at a daily press briefing. President Duterte's recent remarks and actions have shown to the world what is best for the long-term and fundamental interests of Filipinos, he said. Lu said that President Duterte has stated on several occasions that he does not like others taking it upon themselves to make decisions for him, for instance, explaining the Philippines' position on behalf of the Philippine government. ^ top ^

Vatican denounces Chinese priest's self-ordination as bishop (SCMP)
2016-11-07
The Vatican on Monday denounced the decision of a priest in China's underground Catholic Church to be ordained bishop without the pope's approval. The statement was an apparent move by the Vatican to defuse tensions with China as negotiations proceed on reaching an overall agreement on bishop nominations. The Reverend Dong Guanhua of Hebei announced his ordination in September and offered to ordain others without the pope's mandate. The move, however, was immediately condemned by other clergy of the underground church, the Vatican-affiliated AsiaNews missionary news agency reported. On Monday, the Vatican press office said the Holy See had not authorised any such ordinations and that, if true, they would constitute a “grave” crime in church law. While saying it had no confirmation of Dong's decision, the Vatican stressed that any such ordination without papal mandate was illegal even when done for “particular personal beliefs”. China has an estimated 12 million Catholics, millions of whom worship in independent congregations outside the control of the Communist Party's Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Priests who reject party control run the risk of severe punishment. Starting under Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican sought to unite all Chinese Catholics under its wing, but it has been stymied in particular over the nomination of bishops. It is a sensitive topic for both: China considers the Holy See's insistence on nominating bishops an infringement on its sovereignty, while the Vatican insists on the right to name successors to Christ's original apostles. Pope Francis has said the two sides have resumed working groups on the issue and that he is “optimistic” for an agreement. But he has said it will take time. AsiaNews, which closely covers the underground church in China, has expressed concern about the purported deal and the plight of underground Catholics who feel betrayed by any rapprochement that compromises their religious freedom. In a recent post, the agency's editor, the Reverend Bernardo Cervellera, said that that sense of desperation within the underground community prompted Dong's ordination. ^ top ^

Asia in 3 minutes: From more Malaysian anger at Najib over 1MDB to another major US acquisition for China's Wang Jianlin (SCMP)
2016-11-04
Malaysia PM Najib rapped for taking 1MDB-linked stepson on China trip Malaysia's opposition politicians have lashed out at Prime Minister Najib Razak after pictures showed his stepson, who is implicated in a massive embezzlement scam, accompanied him on an official trip to China. Images posted on Twitter showed Riza Aziz leaving Najib's official aeroplane after it arrived in Beijing. The US Justice Department said in lawsuits filed in July that more than US$200 million was funnelled to Riza from the 1MDB state investment fund that Najib founded. WHAT NEXT? “Not only do we have to bear [the cost] of the expensive jet, but now [Najib] is bringing his stepson, whom the whole world is looking for in relation to 1MDB monies,” opposition lawmaker Rafizi Ramli was quoted as telling parliament. Members of the public were equally displeased. “FBI, hurry! Go capture him!” said one online posting. Another said: “Scandalous and outrageous. Aren't the Najibs ashamed of themselves?” 'Mission accomplished', Philippine peace envoy Ramos steps down Former Philippines president Fidel Ramos has quit his job as special envoy to China, his aides said. His specific task was to try to repair ties soured by a squabble with Beijing over disputed territory. “He has done his job,” a Ramos aide said. “President [Rodrigo] Duterte has visited Beijing and our fishermen are back in the disputed Scarborough Shoal [which China calls Huangyan Island]. He has accomplished his mission.” Ramos, an 88-year-old statesman widely respected in a country he led from 1992 to 1998, was quoted by GMA News Online as saying his China role had only been to “break the ice”. WHAT NEXT? Ramos has been a supporter of Duterte but recently criticised the maverick leader. In a newspaper column, he described Duterte's first 100 days in office as a “huge disappointment and let-down”, a view in contrast with popular opinion. As Duterte left for Beijing, Ramos was quoted as saying: “I still consider myself a part of the Duterte team whether they like it or not.” A Ramos aide said the resignation had nothing to do with his view on Duterte. “Please, do not put meaning into this, he remains a team Philippines player,” the aide said. Thai government in big-money measures in support of rice farmers Thailand's military government has rolled out a series of rescue packages in a bid to help the country's rice farmers. The junta has announced measures worth at least 59.28 billion baht (HK$13.1 billion) aimed at curbing market supply and stabilising falling rice prices. The measures are seen as efforts to ensure a smooth transition following the death of much-loved King Bhumibol Adulyadej and to maintain stability ahead of a 2017 general election. WHAT NEXT? It didn't take long for people to point out the aid is almost identical to the controversial subsidy scheme used by former prime ministers Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother Thaksin to – critics claim – ensure their victory in elections. Yingluck was even impeached for her role in the “cash for votes” arrangement. When Yingluck's government ran out of money, angry rice farmers blocked roads across parts of the country. With the military government anxious to head off a confrontation with the farmers, it's unlikely to fall behind on its payments. Indian police shoot escaped prisoners, then admit they had been unarmed Police shot dead eight suspected Islamists after they escaped from a high-security jail in the city of Bhopal, in India's Madhya Pradesh state. The men had slit the throat of a prison guard and climbed over the walls using knotted bedsheets. They were members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India. They were eventually tracked down and cornered. “We asked them to surrender but they tried to break the police cordon,” Yogesh Choudhary, Bhopal's inspector general of police, said. “They were unarmed but … we had to shoot them.” WHAT NEXT? Police are under pressure to explain the killings after footage emerged that appeared to show one of the men being shot while incapacitated. Police later claimed the men had knives and makeshift pistols and fired on officers. Another video appeared to show the escapees with their hands up and asking to speak to the officers. Opposition parties have called for an investigation into the deaths of the men, who were awaiting trial on charges including explosives offences, plotting to kill public officials and robbery. “People … must know how terrorists with such a record were able to escape from such a high-security jail and within hours be caught and shot dead,” said Congress party member Kamal Nath. New MH370 analysis suggests no one was at controls during crash A technical report released by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which leads the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, seems to support the theory investigators have long favoured: that no one was at the controls of the Boeing 777 when it ran out of fuel and crashed in a remote patch of the Indian Ocean off the west of Australia on March 8, 2014. Most of the 239 people on board the aircraft that vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing were Chinese nationals. WHAT NEXT? Critics have been pushing an alternative theory that someone was still controlling the plane at the end of its flight, tripling in size the possible area where it could have crashed and complicating the already hugely complex and expensive effort to find it. The new report shows that the latest analysis of satellite data is consistent with the original theory. It also said that an analysis of a wing flap that washed ashore in Tanzania indicates the flap was probably not deployed when it broke off. A pilot would typically extend the flaps during a controlled ditching. Billionaire Wang bags Dick Clark Productions for US$1 Billion Billionaire Wang Jianlin's Dalian Wanda Group has agreed to pay US$1 billion for Golden Globe Awards producer Dick Clark Productions, adding a US television industry asset to the Chinese tycoon's expanding sports and entertainment empire. The purchase will be Wanda's first entry into television production, Wang's entertainment, real estate and finance conglomerate said. Wanda said it plans to keep all of the Santa Monica, California-based company's management. WHAT NEXT? The deal gives Wanda control of the company's music and film awards programmes as well as well-known American TV shows such as American Bandstand and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. Wang has been snapping up Hollywood assets and making alliances, agreeing in September to collaborate on film projects with Sony's film unit and Legendary Entertainment for US$3.5 billion early this year. “Obtaining top television production rights brings about complementary and coordinated development for Wanda's current focuses on the film, tourism and sports industries,” Wanda said. However, the Dick Clark deal still requires regulatory approval in the US. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Chinese vice premier presses local governments on poverty relief (Xinhua)
2016-11-11
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang on Thursday urged local governments to solve major problems unveiled in the latest round of poverty-relief inspections. Wang, also head of the State Council Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development, was briefed on the nationwide inspection, which started last month to find both good practices and problems in poverty relief. Replicable measures adopted by local governments should be summarized and rolled out around the country, he said. Meanwhile, the country must strive to find a solution to major problems found during the inspection, including formalism, inaccuracy and the inability of some poor people to support themselves, Wang said. The government should pressure local governments, which should take responsibility to ensure earnest implementation of the country's poverty-relief measures, he said. As of the end of 2015, China still had 55.75 million people living in poverty. It plans to lift all of its poor out of poverty by 2020. ^ top ^

China begins new anti-graft inspection (Xinhua)
2016-10-11
Anti-graft teams have been deployed in 19 provincial-level regions or agencies to uncover corruption, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC) said in a statement Thursday. The inspection, the third round this year, will target 27 Party organizations, including those of the Party Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, the China International Publishing Group and the Guangming Daily, it said, adding that anti-graft teams will be sent to all agencies by Nov. 15. Graft-busters will also reexamine Beijing and Chongqing municipalities, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Gansu Province, which had been examined in a previous round of checks, to ensure the effects of the inspections last. The CPC began routinely sending teams to oversee the performance of officials in 2003, and the practice was formally written into the Party's Constitution five years later. ^ top ^

China Focus: Election of delegates fundamental to CPC national congress: CPC authority (Xinhua)
2016-11-10
The Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has highlighted the significance of the election of delegates to the Party's 19th National Congress in an interview with Xinhua. The department said that the 19th CPC National Congress will not only take stock of work done in the five years leading up to the meeting, but also set a future direction for the Party and the state, as well as elect new central leadership. Electing capable delegates to the 19th CPC National Congress is crucial to a successful national congress, as the political integrity, capability and the overall mix of delegates have direct bearing on the quality of consultation and decision making, it added. During the congress, delegates will hear and examine reports from the CPC Central Committee and the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), express the voices of Party members and the general public, discuss and decide on major issues of the Party, as well as elect a new central committee of the CPC and a new CCDI. Election of delegates to the 19th CPC National Congress is an important approach and format for Party members to execute democratic rights and participate in intra-Party political life, in line with the principle of democratic centralism, according to the department. In electing delegates, priority will be placed on the political soundness of candidates. "Candidates' beliefs, political integrity and moral qualities should be emphasized," the department said. All candidates will be subject to anti-graft screening to prevent any questionable candidate being nominated, it added. The quota of delegates from the front line of workers, farmers and professionals will be increased; and model workers, farmers and professionals will be recommended for election, according to the department. Also, the election will feature a strong emphasis on discipline and rules, and a zero-tolerance attitude will be adopted against breaches of disciplines and rules, the department said, adding that the election fraud cases in Liaoning Province, Hengyang in Hunan Province, and Nanchong in Sichuan province should be used to alert people against misconduct. Moreover, intra-Party democracy must be carried forward with all grassroot Party organizations and members mobilized to recommend and nominate candidates. The Central Committee of the CPC on Wednesday released guidelines for the election of delegates to the Party's 19th National Congress, marking the beginning of the election process. A total of 2,300 delegates will be elected by 40 electoral units across the country, according to the guidelines. The total number of delegates has increased by 30 compared to the number of delegates elected to the 18th CPC National Congress, mainly because CPC membership has increased over the past five years, and the Party wants to include more delegates from the front line of workers, farmers and professionals, the department said. The CPC now has more than 88 million members across the country. To better reflect views of Party members and cement public support for the Party, the CPC has increased the quota of delegates from the front line and lowered that of leading CPC officials in the election, according to the department. Delegates should come from various sectors, such as the economy, science and technology, national defense, and education, as well as from different regional levels, including village, county, city and province, the department said. Women and those from ethnic groups should take up a proper proportion of the delegates, it added. Model workers, farmers and professionals should be recommended for election, especially excellent Party members making outstanding contribution to reforms, technological innovation and poverty alleviation, said the department. ^ top ^

Tug of war over China's founding father Sun Yat-sen as Communist Party celebrates his legacy (SCMP)
2016-11-10
China's ruling party is marking the 150th birthday this week of the man who ended millennia of imperial rule by trumpeting republican revolutionary Sun Yat-sen as a proto-Communist and a symbol of unification with Taiwan. Commemorative stamps have been issued in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China to honour the Western-educated doctor who railed against the Qing dynasty and whose 1911 revolution toppled the empire. The Republic of China he founded still controls Taiwan, where its leaders fled after Mao Zedong's forces won the country's civil war in 1949 and set up the People's Republic. President Xi Jinping highlighted their shared heritage earlier this month when the leader of Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) nationalist party – founded by Sun – visited. “Mr Sun was a great patriot, and his loudest slogan of all was to call to rejuvenate China,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as saying. But the Kuomintang was ousted from power in Taipei at the ballot box earlier this year by the Democratic Progressive Party, on a wave of popular scepticism over ties with Beijing. And Sun is remembered very differently from Beijing's version by some scholars and overseas Chinese, who say that the cosmopolitan, Christian, republican physician would hardly be a supporter of the Communist Party today. Sun was “once a student leader who plotted against the then millennia old dynastic regime”, Hong Kong University medical school dean Gabriel Leung said in a speech, comparing his activism to student-led protests against Beijing in the city. Born in southern China 150 years ago on Saturday, Sun was educated in Hawaii and Hong Kong, then a British colony, where he was inspired by republican ideals to organise for the overthrow of the Qing empire. But his tenure as the republic's first president lasted less than three months and the country quickly descended into chaos and conflict between rival warlords. He died in 1925. For decades Sun has been revered in Taiwan as the “father of the nation”, devoted to the revival of China and the development of democracy. On the mainland, though, he is designated a pioneer of revolution and the Maoist regime, according to Taiwanese academic Ren Songlin, accusing the Communist Party of using him as a “puppet”. “When it needs to, it just shakes the rattle a bit; when it doesn't need him, it tosses him away,” Ren told an anniversary event in the United States. At the memorial hall in Sun Yat-sen's birthplace of Zhongshan – a city renamed in his honour – guides shepherd dozens of young students in army fatigues through the exhibits, while elderly couples and families peer into rooms holding his former desk and bathtub. Cai Yuanxing, a retired civil servant from Beijing, said he had bought commemorative stamps and coins, adding that people “worshipped” Sun because he “made Chinese people open their eyes”. Other visitors praised him for liberating China but said his work was not done. “If not for him we would still be wearing queues,” factory manager Thomas Zheng said, referring to the pigtails the Manchu Qing obliged Han Chinese to grow. “His only regret was he couldn't make China united,” he added, echoing the official line. Sun's vision was not for Western-style democracy but a system that “suited China's national circumstances”, he said. “In fact, Chinese people believe that Taiwan's democracy is just a joke... If you mechanically copy Western democracy, China will return to the beginning of the republican era – in a word, chaos.” On the island itself, the state's glorification of Sun is being increasingly rejected by a younger generation who have grown up with a sense of Taiwanese identity. In 2014 a radical independence group pulled down a statue to him in the southern city of Tainan. “To Taiwan's pro-independence people he is a non-native historical figure who represents unification ideology,” Huang Ko-wu, research fellow at the Academia Sinica's Institute of Modern History in Taipei told AFP. As such, using him to promote unification was not “persuasive”, he said. “History cannot resolve real political issues.” ^ top ^

China begins selecting delegates for Communist Party Congress (SCMP)
2016-11-10
Hours before Donald Trump's surprise victory in the US presidential election on Wednesday, Beijing announced guidelines for arguably the most important election in China in five years. A statement from the party's Central Committee said the election of delegates for the 19th party congress to be held next year had started. The delegates will vote on who will serve in the party's top leadership for a five-year term. Among the criteria for selection, political loyalty appeared to be key. “[They] must firmly insist on the ideals of communism, and [have] self-confidence in the Chinese socialist path and theories,” a spokesman for the Central Organisation Department told Xinhua. “[They] must firmly implement the policies of the party … and remain highly consistent with the party's central leadership with comrade Xi Jinping as the core in mind and action.” A total of 2,300 delegates will be elected by 40 electoral units spread across the country and the voting will be completed by June next year, according to the statement from the Central Committee. The 40 electoral units come from 31 cities and provinces plus other constituencies covering areas such as the military and state-owned enterprises. The delegates will meet during the second half of next year to vote for more than 350 full and alternate members of the Central Committee. They in turn will elect members of the 25-strong Politburo and its Standing Committee, as well as the general secretary, a position Xi is likely to retain for at least another five-year term. The elections come amid concern for political loyalty at a level unseen in decades. A party plenum last month warned that some former senior cadres had tried to form their own factions and were involved in conspiracies to seize important positions. Speculation has been mounting that the party's anti-graft chief Wang Qishan, 68, who is also a Politburo Standing Committee member, will remain in power, after a senior party researcher said rules on retirement age were only “folklore”. The comment also raised concern over whether other officials in the Politburo, including Xi, will stay in office after reaching retirement age in 2022. In that case, Xi would not have to finalise his successor before his second term started next year, as his predecessors have done since the 1990s. Traditionally, the party chief-in-waiting spends at least five years in the Standing Committee before the official crowning. The statement also urged caution against vote-rigging after the top legislature announced in September it had discovered vote-buying among national lawmakers, and expelled 45 national legislators from Liaoning province who were elected in 2013. ^ top ^

Chinese warehouse chief gets suspended death sentence over 2015 Tianjin blast that killed 173 (SCMP)
2016-11-10
A Chinese court on Wednesday gave the head of a logistics company a suspended death sentence over a massive explosion at a chemical warehouse in Tianjin in 2015 which killed 173 people, most of them firefighters and police officers. Tianjin's No 2 Intermediate Court ruled that Yu Xuewei, chairman of Ruihai International Logistics, paid bribes to obtain permission to illegally store more than 49,000 tonnes of sodium cyanide and other highly toxic chemicals at the company's warehouse in the city's port area between 2013 and 2015. Such sentences are usually commuted to life in prison after two years. Various other Tianjin courts gave lesser sentences to 48 other people. They included 25 local government officials and workers accused of dereliction of duty, abuse of power and bribe taking, 12 other Ruihai employees accused of taking part in the scheme and 11 employees of a company that provided false certificates supporting the company's operations. In a video shown on state broadcaster CCTV, Yu told the judges that he regretted his actions and would not appeal. “I want to use this opportunity to apologise to those who died and were hurt in the blasts and their families, as well as all the citizens of the nation,” Yu said. A series of blasts ripped through the industrial Binhai New Area in Tianjin's port area late on August 12 2015 causing one of China's deadliest industrial accidents in recent years. The resulting investigation was directly overseen by the Cabinet. Investigators found that the first blast was triggered when stocks of nitrocellulose, a flammable compound used as a binding agent with medical applications and as an ingredient of lacquer, became too dry and caught fire in the August heat. The flames then spread to illegal stores of the combustible fertiliser ammonium nitrate, triggering a series of blasts that flattened the warehouse, destroyed an adjacent area of land storing vehicles and caused extensive damage to neighbouring residential buildings. The dead included 99 firefighters and 11 police officers, who were not informed of the presence of the 800 tonnes of ammonium nitrate. Another 798 people were injured, largely because Ruihai illegally built its warehouse too close to their apartments. The blasts contaminated the air, water, and soil in the immediate area, but did not affect the environmental quality of the ocean bay on which Tianjin sits, the investigators said. ^ top ^

Why does China's choking smog persist despite Beijing's clean-up efforts?(SCMP)
2016-11-09
Beijing residents and their neighbours in Hebei province and Tianjin awoke to another round of smog on Wednesday – and the choking air pollution will only get worse this weekend, meteorological officials warn. They forecast on Tuesday that the heavy pollution would remain across the region for a week until a cold front cleared away the smog on November 16. At noon on Wednesday, Beijing's air quality index reading was at 220 – far above the heathy level of 25 for daily exposure stipulated by the World Health Organisation – meaning the air was severely polluted and unsuitable for outdoor activities. The dire warning came only two days after northern China was blanketed in thick smog last weekend, forcing the cancellation of several hundred flights to and from cities including Beijing. Authorities said more than 30 cities in six provinces would be affected by the latest smog outbreak, which they described as “rare” – in terms of its severity and the area affected – compared with other smog cases over the past four years. So far this year, public complaints about air pollution problems seem to have waned – at least on mainland social media platforms. However, one question remains unanswered: why – despite government pledges and heavy investment spent on dealing with the continuing problem – does the smog keep returning? Beijing set up an air pollution clean-up fund of 760 billion yuan in 2014, with its then-mayor Wang Anshun promising that the city's smog problem will be solved by 2017. Yet as the end of 2016 approaches, environmental authorities are forecasting that northern China will face more severe smog problems this winter than usual. They said the influence of stable atmospheric conditions would prevent pollutants from being dispersed by El Nino. El Nino is an abnormal warming of waters in the equatorial Pacific that occurs once every three to four years, typically in December. Its effects can include the reversal of wind patterns across the Pacific, drought in Australasia, and unseasonal heavy rain in South America. Chai Fahe, former deputy head of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, admitted the huge quantity of pollutants that were emitted into the atmosphere remained the main cause of severe smog. The problem is often compounded when there is little wind or rainfall. Vehicle exhaust fumes, emissions from factories, and the burning of biomass and coal – especially the burning of coal by rural households for heating during winter – are listed as major causes of the pollution. The Ministry of Environmental Protection has blamed local authorities in several northeastern cities for failing to launch emergency responses when smog has formed. It has also asked foundries, cement factories and brick kilns to reduce production until March. However, the frequent appearance of choking air pollution appears to point to one major problem: the implementation of clean-up measures involving factories, households and vehicles is often poor – sometimes non-existent - and local supervision is lax. Local governments have reportedly falsified their environmental monitoring data to impress the central leadership as officials are now also rated for their achievements in protecting the environment. Meanwhile, Hebei province has punished 487 officials, including four at senior levels, for abusing their power or failing their supervision responsibilities on environmental protection. According to an official statement yesterday, the officials, who were at government agencies or state-owned companies, either granted approval for polluting projects that should not have been put online, forged documents to keep outdated plants in operation, or allowed the construction of new plants without the proper permits. ^ top ^

China Focus: President Xi talks with astronauts in space (Xinhua)
2016-11-09
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday talked with the two astronauts in the space lab Tiangong-2, at the command center of China's manned space program in Beijing. The two astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, embarked on their 33-day journey, the longest mission in the country's manned space program to date, onboard the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft on Oct. 17. They entered Tiangong-2 on Oct. 19. Xi expressed his sincere greetings to the two astronauts on behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the State Council, the Central Military Commission, and people of all ethnic groups in the country. "You have lived in space for more than half a month, and this is the third manned space mission Comrade Haipeng has undertaken and the first time for Comrade Chen Dong to enter space," Xi said during the video call. "All the Chinese people care about you very much." Responding to Xi's inquiries about their work, health and living conditions, Jing, commander of the crew, said they felt very well and were working as scheduled. Jing told the president that they could even watch the China Central Television (CCTV) evening news bulletin, or "Xinwen Lianbo," in space. "China's manned space program has reached a new height. Chinese astronauts now enjoy better working and living conditions in space. We feel very proud of our great motherland," Jing said. Chen said he had adapted to the zero-gravity environment in space, and his daily life and work there was normal. He vowed to work harder and fulfill the remaining tasks. Xi said he was delighted to learn the astronauts were in good condition, speaking highly of their coordinated efforts in facing difficulties. The president said he hoped the two astronauts would keep up the good work through close cooperation and careful operation, so as to complete their mission. Shenzhou-11, China's sixth manned spacecraft, was launched on Oct. 17 from northwest China's Gobi Desert. It approached Tiangong-2, which was launched into space on Sept. 15, and automatically docked with the space lab on Oct. 19. The mission aims to transport personnel and materials between Earth and Tiangong-2, and test the ability to successfully meet, dock and return. Other objectives include aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments and in-orbit maintenance. Before the talk, Jing and Chen carried out an in-orbit maintenance test using man-robotics coordination, the first ever such test in space. ^ top ^

Guideline sets out measures to oversee judicial personnel (China Daily)
2016-11-09
A guideline to establish a system of disciplinary measures for judicial personnel has been issued, a move designed to address violations of law and dereliction of duty among judges and prosecutors. The document, published on the website of the Supreme People's Court on Tuesday, provides experimental guiding principles to courts and procuratorates at all levels across the country as a means to address errors, incompetence and dereliction of duty among judges and prosecutors. A means to file grievances for those being investigated for alleged misconduct or wrongdoings was also stipulated in the document. A committee on judicial discipline is required to be set up at courts and procuratorates at the provincial level as well as in autonomous regions and municipalities. The office of the committee will be set up at the high people's courts and procurator-ates at the provincial level. The decision on misconduct cases, including dereliction of duty, must be made by more than two-thirds of all members of the committee. Judges and prosecutors determined to be deliberately making wrong decisions in court cases that have brought severe consequences will face disciplinary measures. Punishments include suspension, deferred promotion, removal from their posts, resignation and termination of employment. "The decision to set up a committee on judicial discipline is of great significance in preventing judiciary power being misused," said Jiang Ming'an, a law professor of the Constitution and administrative law at Peking University. Jiang said more-detailed regulations should be made regarding the punishment of judiciary personnel who are guilty of misconduct. "For example, the criterion for 'major mistakes' made by judges and prosecutors should be more specific. The consequences brought by such mistakes, therefore, need to be narrowed down, too." The committee on judicial discipline was set up in Qinghai province on Wednesday last week. It is comprised of 15 members including one director and four deputy directors. The need for an accountability system for judicial personnel has become more urgent as a few wrong court rulings had been exposed in the past couple of years. In the latest case, 27 judiciary staff were punished in January for a wrong decision that resulted in the execution of an innocent teenager in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in April 1996. Hugjiltu, the teenager, was executed for murder and rape, but was declared innocent in December 2014, when it was announced that he was wrongfully convicted. ^ top ^

China pushes through cybersecurity law despite foreign business fears (SCMP)
2016-11-07
China has adopted a controversial cybersecurity law to tighten control over the internet, triggering concerns from foreign businesses and rights organisations. The law was passed yesterday by the standing committee of the national legislature and will come into effect in June next year. “China is an internet power and as one of the countries that faces the greatest internet security risks, it urgently needs to establish and perfect network security legal systems,” committee official Yang Heqing said. Contentious provisions include demands that “operators of critical information infrastructure” store personal information and important business data in China, provide unspecified “technical support” to security agencies and pass national security reviews. Those critical areas include information services, transport and finance. Firms that store or provide internet data overseas without approval could have their business suspended or shut down and their business licenses revoked. They are also required by law to provide technical support and assistance to police and national security agencies “safeguarding national security and investigating crimes”. The demands have raised concern within foreign companies that they would have to hand over intellectual property or open back doors in products to operate in China. James Zimmerman, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said the law was a step backwards for innovation in China and would do little to improve security. Broad restrictions on the flow of cross-border data provided no security benefits but would create barriers to Chinese and foreign companies operating in industries where data needed to be shared internationally, Zimmerman said. Jacob Parker, vice-president of China operations of the US-China Business Council, said the council was concerned the definition of “critical information infrastructure operators” had expanded from previous drafts and could be widened further. He said this related directly to the types of data and information that needed to be localised in China. Members feared they could be required to disclose source code or adopt domestic encryption standards that had not been reviewed by international encryption review bodies, he said. “All these implications go far beyond foreign companies in China. It affects all players in the market,” Parker said. The European Chamber of Commerce said the overall lack of transparency over the last year surrounding the significant and wide-reaching legislation had created much uncertainty and negativity in the business environment. Human Rights Watch said elements of the law, such as criminalising the use of the internet to “damage national unity”, would further restrict online freedom. “Despite widespread international concern from corporations and rights advocates for more than a year, Chinese authorities pressed ahead with this restrictive law without making meaningful changes,” Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Ikea restaurant becomes home away from home for Shanghai's elderly (SCMP)
2016-11-07
For almost a decade, hundreds of senior citizens flocked every Tuesday and Thursday to the Xuhui district outlet in Shanghai of Swedish furniture giant Ikea. They gathered in the store's restaurant to chat, taking up seats throughout the day but rarely buying anything from the menu. They brought their own food and made the most of the bottomless cups of coffee. They took seats from genuine restaurant patrons and reportedly brawled. But last month the company clamped down, announcing that the restaurant would only admit people who had bought food there. The decision made international headlines and prompted a public debate about whether the social needs of the city's rapidly ageing population were being addressed. The greying of Shanghai's population became noticeable in the late 1970s when at least 10 per cent of the residents were aged 60 or above. By the end of last year, that proportion had risen to 30 per cent, or 4.36 million of the city's 14.4 million permanent residents, according to the municipal statistics bureau. The rate is double the national average. The ageing trend is only expected to continue. Forecasters suggest there will be at least five million people aged over 60 in 2018 and 5.4 million in 2020. The number of octogenarians is also expected to rise, according to a blueprint on the causes of ageing released by the municipal government in September. Zhang Xiaoyi, a public management professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said the city was focused on meeting the physical needs of the elderly but the authorities tended to neglect their spiritual needs, an issue brought to the surface by the gatherings at Ikea. “The conflict between Ikea and Shanghai's senior citizens suggests that the elderly have multilayered demands,” Zhang said. “They have material needs but also want to socialise and enjoy leisure activities.” But Shanghai, like many other mainland cities, is scrambling to meet even the basic needs for care, struggling to build affordable nursing homes and hire auxiliary workers to take care of elderly residents. Although there are 6.7 million beds at elderly residential centres across the mainland – meeting the central government's target of providing 30 beds for every 1,000 old people – the cost of most of these beds is beyond the means of typical pensioners. Only a small number of government-run nursing homes charge fees that are considered affordable by the general public, but their waiting lists are so long that many old people have to wait for years before can take up places. To help with social activities, Shanghai authorities have built hundreds of community education institutions, and thousands of sports venues and cultural activity centres. But 72-year-old widow Zhou Qinli said she preferred the warmth of the furniture store. “I think there is only one place in Shanghai – the Ikea restaurant – that provides a convenient location and cosy indoor environment for us old people to get together and chat,” Zhou said. She said she went to Ikea once a week over the past few years to meet dozens of her elderly friends. Zhou said they did not like visiting parks because gatherings held outside were often affected by the weather. People could stay at other restaurants, such as KFC or McDonald's, without buying food but the outlets were are not as big as Ikea's restaurant. Some people have continued to meet at the furniture store since the new rule on food came in, paying about 10 yuan (HK$11.5)for a bread item and then sitting there the whole day. Zhou said she needed to go out to meet her friends because she had nothing else to do and nobody to talk to at home. “I don't like watching TV and I think it will also hurt my eyes,” she said. “If I don't have any [social] activities, I will develop Alzheimer's disease.” She has been single for the past 20 years since the death of her husband. Two of her three children lived abroad and the remaining one was so busy with his job that he returned home late at night, she said. “No one understands the spiritual distress of us old people,” Zhou said. “Only the elderly understand each other – that it's a joyful occasion for us to get together. We talk about a lot of things, including what medicines to take when we are sick.” Another Shanghai resident Bao Shuying, 68, said the authorities should build more indoor venues and offer a greater variety of activities for pensioners to enjoy during their spare time. “We don't want to pay [for a place to meet],” she said. “We don't have large pensions and we have been living frugally life for our whole life.” Ren Yuan, a demographer at Shanghai's Fudan University, said the country's ageing population was posing tough challenges for the central government. The authorities were finding it difficult to provide services to match the various demands of the increasing number of elderly people. “The provision of public facilities where old people can relax and socialise is generally not included in urban planning,” he said. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Patriotic education for Tibet's 'Living Buddhas' (SCMP)
2016-11-07
Beijing has sent Tibetan “living Buddhas” to historic sites of the Communist Party, including the hometown of late leader Mao Zedong, for patriotic education sessions, according to mainland media reports. Some 20 living Buddhas took part in the sessions, in which they vowed allegiance to the central government, according to Tibet.cn, the region's major news portal, on Saturday. “I feel that our country is wealthy and powerful. It's a socialist new China built by numerous martyrs,” said living Buddha Jedrung from Chamdo of the one-week session. “We should make contributions to guide our religion to fit the socialist society.” The session, which ended on October 28, took the Tibetan holy men to Jinggangshan in Jiangxi province, where the Communist Party once set up its own military base, and Shaoshan county, Mao's hometown. The living Buddhas were also shown around a defence technology academy, to see “the latest development of the country in defence, industry and economy”, the report said. There are more than 1,000 living Tibetan Buddhas on the mainland, according to Beijing's official database, which was launched in January. The October session was aimed at training some of the recently incarnated, including the fifth living Buddha Dezhub Jambai Gaisanggyaco, who was born in 2005. A picture with the article showed him dedicating a khata, a scarf used by Tibetans to show gratitude and hospitality, to the bronze statute of the atheist Mao in the former leader's hometown. It was under Mao's watch that Beijing went ahead with violent land reforms in Tibetan areas of Sichuan and Gansu provinces in the 1950s. The move fuelled tensions between the Communist regime and the Tibetan government, which recognised Beijing's sovereignty in 1951 but still retained control over its army. The escalating tensions ultimately caused a military clash in 1957 and the exile of the 14th Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, who was then a deputy in the National People's Congress. The Dalai Lama was later labelled by Beijing as a separatist seeking independence for Tibet, while he insisted he only wanted genuine autonomy. The training sessions were held by the United Front Work Department, an agency under the party that manages relations with non-party elites. Such sessions have been held for Tibetan living Buddhas before, and cover topics including religion, ethnicity and political education, according to the report. Similar sessions have also been held for Christians, Taoists and Muslims on the mainland. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang invests heavily to improve life of border people (Global Times)
2016-11-06
Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has poured over 600 million yuan ($88.8 million) this year to improve the living conditions of people at border area as part of the region's poverty alleviation efforts. The fund has been used to subsidize border residents and frontier guardians, improve the ecology of the border area, and build or upgrade their living facilities, such as kitchens, toilets and biogas pits, said an official with the regional poverty alleviation office. Since June, the region has tripled the frontier guardian subsidy to 800 yuan at plain area and 1,000 yuan at plateau area. It has built 20,000 biogas pits and renovated 30,000 toilets, 24,000 kitchens, 70,000 yards for poverty-stricken households and increased a grassland area of 5,800 hectares in recent years at border area. Xinjiang has China's longest boundary line. Half of the region's 34 border counties and cities are under the poverty line. Thanks to government efforts, 265,000 border people shook off poverty from 2014 to 2015, however, there are still 560,000 people living under poverty line at Xinjiang's border area as of the end of 2015. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Beijing's 'decree' on oaths a warning to Hong Kong government (SCMP)
2016-11-11
More sabre rattling from Beijing? Besides Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, 13 other legislators may lose their seats because of their improper oath-taking. That's according to Wang Zhenmin, legal department head of Beijing's liaison office. If that's the case, it means removing half the pan-democratic camp from the Legislative Council. While the prospect is no doubt appealing to Beijing, is it realistic? If Beijing wants to declare war, it might as well kick out all the pan-democrats and localists from the legislature. The legal and political consequences would be just as dire whether you remove 15 or all 30 of them. Beijing should quit while it's still ahead. The latest interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on the oath-taking of principal officials may be controversial. But it is probably tolerated by many Hong Kong people, who have been genuinely turned off by the offensive and mindless antics of Leung and Yau. There is no dispute that the NPC interpretation will apply to both lawmakers-elect. But with the other 13, it would be impossible to justify on any reasonable legal or political ground. Whether they swore only once or had to do it a second time, their oaths have been accepted by the Legco president and secretary-general. Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei claims the NPC interpretation is retroactive, and so is applicable to them. But the original text of the NPC judgment says nothing about it being retroactive. As a barrister friend has pointed out, there is no such thing as retroactivity in common law, and Article 8 of the Basic Law guarantees the continuity of the common law after China resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997. My guess is that Beijing isn't trying to remove those lawmakers at this time. Its warnings are directed not so much at them as at the Hong Kong government. Chen Zuoer, former deputy director of Beijing's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, has blasted local prosecutors and judges for “not living up to people's expectations” in defending breaches of national security and making it “almost cost-free to oppose and commit crimes against Beijing”. As examples, he cited the storming of the PLA barracks in late 2013, the Occupy protests of 2014 and the Mong Kok riot earlier this year. In other words, if you don't do your job, we will do it for you. ^ top ^

Disqualify Legco pair regardless of Beijing's ruling, Hong Kong government lawyers argue (SCMP)
2016-11-10
Two localist lawmakers embroiled in an oath-taking saga should be disqualified irrespective of the controversial Basic Law interpretation Beijing announced on Monday, barristers for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying have written to a Hong Kong court. Youngspiration lawmakers-elect Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang found themselves at the centre of a full-frontal war last month, in a legal bid lodged by the Hong Kong government upset about the choice of words the pair used during the Legislative Council's oath-taking ceremony on October 12. They pronounced the country in a manner deemed as an insult to China. The judicial challenge – the government's bid to strip the lawmakers of their titles – prompted the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress to issue an interpretation of Basic Law Article 104 on Monday even before a ruling by the High Court. The interpretation stated lawmakers must be “sincere” in taking their oaths of office and that those who do not comply face instant disqualification. In light of the new interpretation, Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung, presiding over the chief executive's judicial challenge, contacted all the parties' legal representatives advising that they could supply further arguments by Thursday. In new court documents the Post obtained on Thursday, legal representatives for the chief executive and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung wrote to the High Court that the outcome of whether the two lawmakers should be stripped of their positions “is the same with or without referring to the terms” of the interpretation. Lawyers for the two lawmakers-elect countered that Beijing's ruling was an interpretation of local law in disguise, akin to a Basic Law amendment and thus requiring various parties' consent – something they argued had been absent in the case. In the documents, the government reiterated its original argument that the pair had “declined or neglected” to take the oath on October 12. Under the Oath and Declaration Ordinance, they wrote, Yau and Leung should immediately lose their seats by “operation of law”. The government's lawyers added that “this court is of course bound to follow the Standing Committee's Interpretation of Basic Law Article 104”. Philip Dykes SC and his legal team, for Yau, hit back, countering that part of Beijing's interpretation reaffirmed their position. Beijing's interpretation said the oath had to be taken before “the person who is responsible under the law for its administration,” which Dykes stipulated was Legco's clerk and its president. But neither Legco official had made a decision to rule that Yau and Leung had declined and neglected the oath, he said. For this reason, the court should not intervene, he said, adding: “It is no business of this court.” Hectar Pun SC, for Baggio Leung, added that, after Secretary General of the Secretariat Kenneth Chen Wei-on was unsuccessful in administering the pair's oaths, he only declared the oaths invalid. Pun said Chen did not rule that the two had declined to take their oaths. Beijing's interpretation, Pun said, had not changed the city's “well-established and constitutionally entrenched” principle of non-intervention by which courts are reluctant to intervene in Legco affairs. The lawyer added that if the court weighed in it could open a floodgate, allowing any elector to legally challenge the oath of any Legco member. “This cannot be right,” Pun said. The court developments on Thursday came amid several judicial reviews being filed against other lawmakers such as Lau Siu-lai, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung. Like Dykes, Pun concluded that Beijing's interpretation amounted to an “amendment” and, as such, had to be addressed by Basic Law Article 159, which states that any amendment to the mini-constitution is to be initiated locally after obtaining the consent of two-thirds of Hong Kong's deputies to the National People's Congress, two-thirds of all Legco members, and the city's chief executive. Dykes added that the interpretation, while concerning the Basic Law, appeared to take aim at the local Oath and Declaration Ordinance. He said the intervention went against Article 158. “The court has jurisdiction over acts of the Standing Committee if they are inconsistent with the Basic Law,” he said. Meanwhile, Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen in submitted documents argued that Beijing's interpretation did not involve his position. Some in Hong Kong have blasted Beijing's intervention as giving new meaning to Article 104 and exerting pressure on the local judiciary, which is promised autonomy under the principle of “one country, two systems”. However, mainland officials, keen to stem calls in Hong Kong for independence and self-determination, said they did not need a local court to step in prior to issuing an interpretation. Chen Zuoer, former deputy director of Beijing's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, also lambasted the city's prosecution and judiciary on Wednesday, accusing them of “not living up to the people's expectations” in defending breaches of national security and making it “almost cost-free to oppose and commit crimes against Beijing”. ^ top ^

'Impossible' for Hong Kong chief executive to last 10 years in office, HKU pollster says, citing Trump win in US (SCMP)
2016-11-10
Donald Trump's unexpected victory in the US presidential election reflect a global desire for change, which could serve as a signal for Hong Kong's coming chief executive election, a veteran pollster said. Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, who heads the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme, said it would be “impossible” for a Hong Kong chief executive to complete 10 years in office, or two terms. “Even in such an open and democratic country as the US, eight years is already difficult [for a president], let alone 10 years in the Hong Kong system,” Chung said while speaking on a Commercial Radio programme on Thursday morning. “History and data tell us that, whether it is the elections in the US or Taiwan, people have a strong desire for change,” he said. Chung said Trump's victory was fuelled by a trust crisis in the US, where many Americans who had lost faith and confidence in the government were looking for change, just as they were prior to Barack Obama's election in 2008. He added that since a law prohibiting a US president from being elected for a third term was enacted in 1951, it was very rare that the same political party would succeed in holding on to the presidency after eight years. “Under this new system, it has happened only once – when former President Ronald Reagan was succeeded by [fellow Republican] George H. W. Bush,” Chung said. He added that despite Obama's popularity as president, voters may have leaned towards Trump because Hillary Clinton was not an exceptional candidate either. Chung also pointed out how it was unprecedented in Hong Kong for a chief executive to complete two full terms in office. Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong's first chief executive since the 1997 handover, and his successor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen were both unable to complete 10 years in office despite being successfully elected for a second term. “If any chief executive wants to have the support of the people, they should aim to finish their work within five years' time or pass it on to the next candidate,” Chung said. “It would be a disaster if Leung Chun-ying were able to complete 10 years in office given his popularity.” Leung, as incumbent chief executive, has yet to confirm whether he will seek a second term. High-profile retired judge Woo Kwok-hing has been the only person so far to throw his hat into the ring, while financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has been widely tipped as a potential contender. Trump won the US presidential race after clinching a majority of the 538 electoral college votes on Wednesday, while Clinton was ahead of Trump in the popular vote by a slight margin of 47.7 per cent against 47.5 per cent. ^ top ^

Carrie Lam opposes probe on CY Leung's role in ICAC controversy, claims ignorance of UGL fee issue (SCMP)
2016-11-09
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is opposing a motion to probe the role of the chief executive in a personnel controversy of the city's graft-buster, saying she “has not been informed” of an earlier investigation of her boss that allegedly led to the saga. She was referring to the receipt of HK$50 million by Leung Chun-ying from a foreign firm, which was probed by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Lam's remarks raised eyebrows among pan-democrats, who were left questioning whether she was playing around with words or simply denying there was a probe. But a source close to the ICAC told the Post that the operations department had looked into the matter once the complaints were received, and the investigation was ongoing. The Legislative Council today continues a debate about whether to set up a select committee to examine the removal of Rebecca Li Bo-lan, a top investigator of the ICAC. Moving the motion, Democratic Party's Lam Cheuk-ting said there was suspicion about whether Li's departure was linked to the chief executive, whose receipt of the payment from Australian firm UGL was investigated when Li was at the helm of operations. “We want to know whether Leung Chun-ying abused his power and interfered into the ICAC's work,” the lawmaker said. But Lam dismissed the Democrat's remarks as “speculation”. “ICAC never said the issue is being investigated,” she said. “I'd like to confirm that I haven't been informed the ICAC is conducting such an investigation.” However, a surprised Claudia Mo Man-ching from the Civic Party said “nobody denied” there was a case, when she and other lawmakers spoke to ICAC officials in an off-the-record meeting in September. In July, Li, acting head of the ICAC's powerful investigative unit, was removed from her position by commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu, less than a year after her appointment. The chief executive distanced himself from the affair. The ICAC received complaints about Leung's UGL payments from three pan-democratic parties back in October 9, 2014. The Department of Justice then authorised the director of public prosecutions, Keith Yeung Ka-hung, to handle the matter. The ICAC said it would seek advice from the department at the time. Some complainants said they have yet to hear from the ICAC, while NeoDemocrats' Li Sai-hung told Cable TV that ICAC took a statement from him but did not inform him if the probe had ended. ^ top ^

Hundreds of Hong Kong lawyers in silent march against Beijing oath ruling (SCMP)
2016-11-09
Hundreds joined a silent march by the legal profession on Tuesday night in protest against the intervention by Beijing in a controversial oath-taking case, claiming it harms judicial independence. However a Basic Law adviser to Beijing said it was up to a local court to decide whether the mainland ruling banning pro-independence lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching was retrospective and posed a legal challenge for more pan-democrat lawmakers over the way oaths were taken. March organiser and legal-sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok said more than 2,000 people joined the protest Police put the turnout at 1,700. It was the fourth silent march staged by lawyers against Beijing's intervention in the judicial system since the handover in 1997. Leading the march were senior counsel including Martin Lee Chu-ming, Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, Graham Harris, Alan Leong Kah-kit and solicitor John Clancey. Denis Chang, second on the Bar list, was also there. Lee said the latest interpretation, the fifth of its kind since the handover, was “the worst” of all. “It is like a tank crashing into Hong Kong's legal system,” Lee, a member of the Basic Law Drafting Committee in the 1980s, said. “It is not an interpretation of the Basic Law – it is an amendment of Hong Kong law.” On Monday, the National People's Congress Standing Committee issued its interpretation of Basic Law Article 104, ruling that lawmakers must be “sincere” and read the prescribed oath “completely, accurately and solemnly”. Those who do not comply face instant disqualification. The lawyers say the ruling pre-empted a local court, which had heard arguments – and is yet to give a decision – over a judicial review sought by the government to disqualify the two localists who insulted China while taking their oaths last month. Some marchers said they did not agree with the localists, and had joined the rally to defend the city's legal system. Bar Association chairwoman Winnie Tam Wan-chi, who had said the interpretation was not necessarily a bad thing, was not present. However, after the ruling was issued, the Bar expressed “deep regret” at the interpretation, which it said would “do more harm than good”. The Law Society said Beijing should “exercise restraint” in invoking its power to interpret the Basic Law because frequently doing so would give the impression that judicial independence was being undermined. Meanwhile, Basic Law Committee member and University of Hong Kong professor Albert Chen Hung-yee said it was up to the court to decide whether the Beijing ruling had retrospective effect, because the text did not touch on the issue. Chen noted that committee chairman Li Fei said he would respect the city's common law principles when asked about whether it was retrospective. There are concerns over whether the ruling can be applied retrospectively, because some loyalists are calling for the disqualification of other lawmakers who had their first oaths rejected last month. ^ top ^

China asks relevant countries not to support "Hong Kong independence" forces (Xinhua)
2016-11-08
China on Tuesday asked relevant countries to be cautious with their words and actions, and not to offer any support to forces advocating "Hong Kong independence." Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang made the remarks at a regular briefing when commenting on reports saying that Britain on Monday said that it recognized the right of China's National People's Congress Standing Committee to interpret the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR and expressed concern on recent developments in Hong Kong's Legislative Council (LegCo) and the timing of the interpretation. The spokesperson of the U.S. State Department had said it was "disappointed" by recent developments concerning the LegCo. Lu said that the heinous move by forces advocating "Hong Kong independence," attempting to split the country and publicly seeking external support was the biggest threat to the "one country, two systems". On Monday, China's top legislature adopted an interpretation to Article 104 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), clarifying the implications and requirements of the oaths taken by legislators-elect. Lu said that Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, and its affairs fall within China's domestic domain. The adoption of the interpretation was a move made by China's top legislature to exercise its lawful right endowed by the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR and to fulfill its constitutional responsibility. "It is completely within China's sovereignty and other countries have no right to interfere." He said, "We demand all relevant countries to honor their open commitments, mind their own words and deeds, not interfere in Hong Kong's domestic affairs nor give support to 'Hong Kong independence' forces." ^ top ^

Disappearance of Hong Kong booksellers 'has dealt huge blow to publishers of sensitive books' (SCMP)
2016-11-05
The disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers later found to have been detained on the mainland has dealt a great blow to city publishers who sell politically sensitive books that are banned across the border, an influential publisher says. The rare comments from Bao Pu, founder of New Century Press, a publisher of banned books, came as freedom of speech advocacy group PEN America released a 71-page report on Saturday on the missing booksellers associated with a bookstore in Causeway Bay under the Mighty Current publishing company. The report, which looks into the case's timeline, political background and aftermath of the saga, says the case has created an atmosphere of uncertainty among other similar publishers, making them less willing to publish banned books. It called for the international community to press mainland China into stopping questionable detentions. “[The case] has dealt a huge blow to publishers based in Hong Kong,” Bao, who rarely speaks publically, said. “Many readers from the mainland have stopped buying these books because they cannot bring the books across the border any more. Our businesses have dropped by a lot.” Speaking after the report's launching press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, Bao, a PEN member and son of Bao Tong, policy secretary to deposed Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, said he would continue to publish books in Hong Kong. “You need to accept risks to do publishing,” Bao said. “I believe the level of risk is still acceptable in Hong Kong.” Bao said he had been communicating with China's General Administration of Press and Publication “on different levels”, although he did not know the detailed identity of those who spoke to him. Angela Gui, daughter of Gui Minhai, the only one of the five booksellers yet to be released by mainland authorities, appeared during the press conference via pre-recorded video. She said she could not attend in person because she was advised not to travel to Asia for safety reasons. “[The report] is the most comprehensive piece of information on the Causeway Bay bookstore disappearances to date,” Gui said. “I sincerely hope that it will be used to affect change.” The elder Gui, a Swedish national, disappeared from his home in Pattaya, Thailand, in October last year, before resurfacing on the mainland and making confessions on state TV. Three of Gui's colleagues – Lam Wing-kee, Cheung Chi-ping and Lui Por – went missing on the mainland in the same month, while another, Lee Po, a British citizen, disappeared from Hong Kong. All four have either been released on the mainland or returned to Hong Kong. The disappearance of the five sparked widespread speculation that they had been abducted by mainland agents acting illegally, as Lee's travel documents were found in Hong Kong after he had been detained by mainland authorities. The report urged the British and Swedish governments, as well as the United Nations, to publicly condemn China, press Beijing to release Gui and commit to high-level engagement with China on human rights issues. Lam Wing-kee, who also spoke at the conference, said a series of events, including Beijing's looming interpretation of the Basic Law to stop two localist lawmakers from taking their seats, showed that the Hong Kong government had been reduced to Beijing's pawn and that the central government wanted to control the city as soon as possible. He called for Hongkongers to take to the streets on Sunday to voice their opposition to Beijing's interference. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's ruling party urges Beijing to respect Hong Kong's democratic aspirations (SCMP)
2016-11-09
Taiwan's independence-leaning ruling party on Wednesday called on Beijing's leaders to listen to the democratic aspirations of people in Hong Kong and to respect the rights of pro-independence representatives. The yellow logo of Hong Kong's “Umbrella Movement” featured on the Democratic Progressive Party's Facebook page on Wednesday as its spokesman Yang Chia-liang urged the Beijing and Hong Kong governments to respect and protect legislators' interests. “It's worrying if the appointment of legislators is deprived under the name of country, which will impact to Hong Kong's hard-won democratic and judicial independence,” Yang said. Beijing's parliament, the National People's Congress, had on Monday issued an interpretation of Hong Kong's mini-constitution, or Basic Law, which effectively barred two pro-independence lawmakers from taking their oaths of office. The move marked Beijing's most direct intervention in the city's legal and political system since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule under a “one country, two systems” agreement that ensured its freedoms, including a separate legal system. Beijing, however, has ultimate control and some Hong Kong people fear it is increasingly interfering to head off dissent. “The government of Beijing and Hong Kong should listen to the aspirations of the people of Hong Kong eager to practice democracy,” Yang said. He added that the DPP and the people of Taiwan were paying close attention to how Beijing handled “the problem in Hong Kong” and supported the right of Hong Kong people to choose their representatives by democratic means. The DPP's comments are bound to rile Beijing, which deems Taiwan a wayward province that is part of the mainland and to be taken back by force if necessary. Beijing stopped official communication with self-ruled Taiwan after the DPP's leader, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, refused to acknowledge the “one China” principle. The principle is an understanding struck in 1992 between Beijing and Taiwan's then ruling Kuomintang that there is only “one China”, but that each side would have its own interpretation of what constitutes “China”. ^ top ^

Mainland tells Taiwan not to undermine Hong Kong's stability (Xinhua)
2016-11-08
A Chinese mainland spokesman on Tuesday called on Taiwan to stop comments and conduct that undermine prosperity and stability in Hong Kong. Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, made the remarks in response to a question about comments made by a Taiwan official who expressed "concerns" for Hong Kong after the interpretation of the Hong Kong Basic Law. "We resolutely oppose Taiwan pointing fingers on the issue, confusing right and wrong, and intentionally making misleading comments," Ma said, calling on relevant parties in Taiwan to stop all comments or conduct that affect the "one country, two systems" principle, and prosperity and stability in Hong Kong. The National People's Congress Standing Committee on Monday adopted an interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Ma said the top legislature and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council have made explanations and statements on the interpretation, which was issued in accordance with the Basic Law. ^ top ^

Top political advisor urges entrepreneurs to boost cross-Strait ties (Xinhua)
2016-11-08
Top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng on Monday called on entrepreneurs from both the Chinese mainland and Taiwan to contribute to advancing cross-Strait relations and opposing "Taiwan independence." Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks at the 2016 Zijinshan Summit for Entrepreneurs across the Taiwan Strait. The peaceful development of cross-Strait relations is faced with severe challenges, because Taiwan authorities refuse to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus centering on the one-China principle, the political foundation for cross-Strait relations, Yu said. Because of this, cross-Strait communication and consultation mechanisms have come to a halt and the interests and emotions of people on both sides have been hurt, triggering widespread worries from both sides of the Strait, Yu said. Yu proposed cross-Strait cooperation to cope with changes in global economy, saying that Taiwan compatriots who support the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations will be the first to be able to share the Chinese mainland's development opportunities. He called for innovation in pursing cross-Strait industries cooperation and creation of conditions to improve the wellbeing of common people and youth on both sides of the Strait. Yu asked entrepreneurs across the Strait to uphold the 1992 Consensus, oppose "Taiwan independence", and safeguard the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties. The Zijinshan Summit was first held in 2008. ^ top ^

Taiwan 'deeply unhappy' after Interpol snubs request to attend general assembly meeting (SCMP)
2016-11-06
Taiwan expressed its deep regret and discontent on Saturday after Interpol rejected its request to attend the police organisation's general assembly meeting this week, Central News Agency reported. The island's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said having no access to the information of Interpol – or International Criminal Police Organisation – was posing a challenge to Taiwan's crime-fighting operations, especially since cross-border crime is becoming a serious problem amid the trend of globalisation. However, Taipei would continue to work closely with the United States and other like-minded countries to promote Taiwan's participation in Interpol in the hope it could be included in the global network for public security protection, CNA quoted the ministry as saying. Taiwan was forced to withdraw from Interpol in 1984 when mainland China joined the organisation. For the first time in 32 years, Taipei applied to Interpol in October to participate as an observer at its 85th annual general assembly, which runs from Monday until Friday in Bali, Indonesia. In response, both Interpol President Mireille Ballestrazzi and Secretary-General Jürgen Stock have written separately to Commissioner Liu Po-liang, of Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau, stating its decision to turn down Taipei's application, the ministry said. The ministry stressed that Taiwan's bid to participate in the Interpol general assembly did not involve politics, but was intended to facilitate cooperation with the police of other countries and contribute to global efforts against organised crime, cybercrime, cross-border crime and terrorism. It urged Interpol to deal with Taiwan's case positively and pragmatically based on the need to maintain global security. Considering the need for security maintenance during the 2017 Universiade in Taipei, the ministry has also requested Interpol allow Taiwan to access the I-24/7 global police communications system and the Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database. The ministry, meanwhile, expressed its appreciation to the US for supporting Taiwan's Interpol participation. Both the US Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill in March requiring the US Secretary of State to develop a strategy to obtain observer status for Taiwan in Interpol. The bill was then signed into law by US President Barack Obama. ^ top ^

Getting too cosy with Taiwan's KMT could backfire for Beijing (SCMP)
2016-11-05
Tuesday's meeting between China's President Xi Jinping and Taiwan's Kuomintang chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu suggested that Beijing would continue to pin its hopes on the island's main opposition to be its proxy in the fight against Taiwanese independence. It is the most important interaction across the Taiwan Strait since Xi met then president Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore late last year, in a historic summit which set the tone for future cross-strait relations. The latest meeting came amid cooling relations with Taiwan's government. Beijing cut off communication and exchanges with Taipei after the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party leader Tsai Ing-wen became president in May. Economically, Beijing cut off some business exchanges and mainland tourist visits. Diplomatically, it sought to isolate the island even further by having its representatives barred from international gatherings. And politically, Beijing wanted to use the high-profile meeting to publicly snub the DPP government, pressuring Tsai to recognise the 1992 consensus, which states there is “one China”, but allows each side to have their own interpretation of “one China”. Despite being bitter foes during the civil war, the KMT and China's ruling Communist Party have found common cause in recent years to oppose Taiwan's independence and embrace closer economic ties. The KMT also aims to bolster its claim as the only party in Taiwan that can manage cross-strait relations. The KMT is divided over its China policy. Many say its overreliance on cross-strait relations have cost it dearly, as during the 2014 Sunflower Movement and its landslide defeat in 2016 elections. Some say the Ma-Xi summit helped spark the DPP's return to power. Within the party, Hung is seen as the standard-bearer for the party's more conservative wing. The majority of party centrists and liberals – who'd rather pursue reform and localisation than improve cross-strait relations – might not accept her policy. Some members suspect Hung revised the party platform in order to please Xi, thereby adding weight to her political status, which could help her run for a new term in July. Many KMT members are unconvinced over the impact of the recent meeting on the party's standing. The party's legislative caucus has openly questioned Hung's eagerness to meet Xi, especially after she orchestrated the change to the party's policy platform. On September 4, the KMT national congress adopted a new policy platform that included “deepening” the 1992 consensus and exploring possibilities for signing a peace pact with Beijing. Taiwanese public and media also generally remain critical of the meeting. They question the legitimacy of Hung as Taiwan's representative in high-level talks and her claim to seek a peace accord with the mainland, without any authorisation from the ruling government. Public opinion will be a decisive factor if the KMT is to return to power any time soon. The promotion of any major policy on cross-strait ties must first of all get a public consensus. Beijing should seriously review its tactics, or its pro-KMT policy will only have the effect of further alienating the main opposition from the Taiwanese public and pushing Taiwan further away from mainland China. And Beijing should also understand that, under Taiwan's democratic system, only the elected government is the legitimate representative of the public and authorised to forge any agreements with it on behalf of the Taiwanese people ^ top ^

 

Economy

Is China ready to make the great leap forward to set global trade rules? (SCMP)
2016-11-07
In the 15 years since joining the World Trade Organisation, China has leaped from six to two in the world's economic rankings and become the globe's biggest trading nation. Now China is seeking to match that economic might with a greater say over the rules underpinning the trading system, challenging the dominance of the United States and Europe. It is forging its own cross-border trade deals, backing the creation of new financial institutions and pressing ahead with major initiatives. But it still has some way to go before it can realise its goal, observers say. China's ambitions were voiced late last month by Long Yongtu, China's chief negotiator for its WTO entry. Long told a forum in Beijing organised by the Centre for China and Globalisation that China could now be a “rule maker” instead of a “rule follower” in trade-related areas like international investment, online business and climate change. “Doubtlessly, China should become one of the leaders in global trade and investment rule-making,” he said. That followed President Xi Jinping's declaration in January that China was the world's standard-bearer for free trade and investment and could “lead world development trends”. The free-trade message was also one that China reinforced during its presidency of the Group of 20 this year. In seeking to take centre stage, China is stepping into a role increasingly vacated by the West, where anti-globalisation sentiment and protectionism is on the rise. Former vice foreign minister He Yafei said there was a lack of momentum among Western trading nations to advance the WTO system. “The global trade regime centred on the WTO has been rejected by western developed countries,” He said. “They lack the interest or political incentives to move the system forward, and that's why we are seeing mushrooming regional trade talks.” Those regional efforts include US attempts to rally Asian partners around the Trans-Pacific Partnership and European countries around the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership pact. US President Barack Obama is struggling to persuade Congress to ratify the TPP while TTIP talks have stalled over concerns from France and Germany that the pact would harm their economies. The two main US presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are also not advocates of the deals. In the meantime, China has sought to expand its influence beyond its borders through Xi's aggressive promotion of the One Belt, One Road strategy – an attempt to revive two ancient trading routes to Africa and Europe – and the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a multilateral lender along the lines of the World Bank. Beijing has also sought to promote a series of free-trade deals. But it would take a great leap for China to become a rule-setting power. For a start, Beijing has failed to honour many of the promises it made during WTO entry talks, prompting the US and EU to hold off on granting it market economy status. China has also failed to reach a bilateral investment treaty with the US despite 29 marathon rounds of talks. The main sticking point is US dissatisfaction with a long list of investment areas that would be off-limits to US players in China. Former senior commerce ministry official Sun Yongfu said a similar agreement with the EU did not proceed “as quickly as expected by leaders on both sides” because China was not prepared to meet the higher proposed standards on labour, the environment and human rights. Tu Xinquan, director of the China Institute for WTO Studies with the University of International Business and Economics, said China had been aggressive promoting free trade abroad but was not making much progress in freeing up the domestic market. “China should become a leading force in the free trade system … but to be a leader, one has to shoulder responsibilities and pay costs,” Tu said. “China still needs to prepare for it.” ^ top ^

 

DPRK

N. Korean leader guides firing drill on front-line islet (Yonhap)
2016-11-11
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has inspected an artillery unit stationed on an island bordering South Korea and ordered a firing drill on the spot, the North's state-run newswire reported Friday. Kim stressed the need to train soldiers there as "indomitable fighters" during a visit to the artillery detachment on Mahap island, said the Korean Central News Agency, which did not elaborate on when the visit was made. North Korean news outlets usually report its leader's activities one day after they are made. Mahap is a border island, just 18 kilometers from South Korea's northernmost Baengnyeong Island in the West Sea. During the visit, Kim mounted an observation post to be briefed on a firepower strike plan and combat readiness, the agency said. Kim, in particular, made a surprise order to soldiers to strike a designated target, and guided a live shell firing drill, according to the agency. Kim's latest inspection came only two days after he made another military visit, which the news agency reported, where he instructed soldiers to raise their combat readiness. Experts say Kim's military inspections just before and after the U.S. election are designed to make his presence known. ^ top ^

N.K. vows not to give up nuclear weapons as Trump elected new U.S. president (The Korea Herald)
2016-11-10
Pyongyang warned Thursday the incoming Donald Trump administration will face a bigger challenge of dealing with a "nuclear-armed" North Korea. In a commentary released a day after Trump was elected president, the North's official media reaffirmed the communist country will not give up its nuclear weapons program. "Washington's hope for North Korea's denuclearization is an outdated illusion," the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party, said. The newspaper condemned U.S. President Barack Obama's "strategic patience" policy with North Korea, saying the policy has only left bigger burdens to his successor as Pyongyang has become a nuclear state. The U.S. focuses on applying pressure and sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear and missile provocations, saying that Pyongyang should first show sincere commitment to denuclearization if dialogue is to proceed. North Korea has claimed that it needs to develop and maintain a nuclear arsenal as a deterrence against what it calls Washington's hostile policy toward Pyongyang. Trump has not clearly unveiled his vision for the North Korean policy, but he expressed his willingness to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during his election campaign period. In June, North Korea's propaganda website hailed Trump's claim that South Korea should pay more for the upkeep of American troops on its soil. Experts said that North Korea may refrain from conducting another nuclear test or launching a long-range rocket until it can gauge the direction of Trump's North Korea policy. "North Korea would seek to have dialogue with Washington as long as the next U.S. administration does not take a hawkish stance toward the North's nuclear issue," said Kim Dong-yup, a professor at the Institute for Far East Studies of Kyungnam University. There had been speculation that the North could conduct nuclear or missile tests around U.S. Election Day, but the repressive regime did not take such a step. But some analysts said that North Korea would push ahead with nuclear and missile provocations around its key anniversaries in December. Dec. 17 marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-il, father of the current leader Kim Jong-un. The country's incumbent leader will also mark the fifth anniversary of him assuming the supreme commandership of the military on Dec. 30. "North Korea may conduct a nuclear or missile test around Kim Jong-un's 33rd birthday, which falls on Jan. 8," said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute. A source familiar with North Korean affairs said that North Korea is likely to make provocative acts as it will need to hone nuclear and missile technology, and wants to take an upper hand ahead of possible talks with Washington. "Next year will be the prime time for the North's leader to maximize the personality cult of his family lineage," the source said. "The climate is favorable to the North's provocations." North Korea conducted two nuclear tests this year alone following its detonation of nuke devices in 2006, 2009 and 2013. Pyongyang also launched a long-range rocket in February, which outside experts viewed as a covert test to check its long-range ballistic missile technology. An official at Seoul's unification ministry said Tuesday that North Korea would not feel safe about the results of the U.S. election as Washington is surely to place top priority on its security whoever wins the White House. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2016-11-10
At its regular meeting on Wednesday, the cabinet backed a draft Intergovernmental Visa Waiver Agreement for Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports between Mongolia and the Republic of Lithuania. In accordance with the document, the bearers of such passports of both countries will be able to enjoy visa-free travel for 90 or less days. -The cabinet amended the regulation on the nonpermanent council for protection of the rights of people with disabilities. The council will work from now on under the direct administration of the Prime Minister. -Majority of the cabinet members deemed the amendments to the Law on Land Ownership of Mongolian Citizen proposed by Ts.Garamjav and N.Oyundari contradict several provisions of the Constitution and other laws of Mongolia. --At the regular meeting, draft amendments to the Laws on Fire Arms, Driver's insurance and Breaches, as well as the regulation on implementation of the Law on Police Services were considered. ^ top ^

Mongolia-China Council on Minerals, Energy and Infrastructure formed (Montsame)
2016-11-10
The cabinet approved the composition of Mongolia-China Joint Council on Mineral Resources, Energy and Infrastructure. The Deputy Prime Minister will chair the Mongolian side of the council. The first meeting is scheduled in Beijing next month. The related ministers will develop guidance the Mongolian part will adhere to at negotiations and the agenda as a whole. ^ top ^

5 percent quota set for foreign employees (Montsame)
2016-11-10
The cabinet set a quota for foreign nationals to be employed by entities in Mongolia for 2017, on November 9. Thus, the total number of foreign employees in an organization or company is to not exceed 5 percent of its total staff. The company or organization will seek pertinent permits from the Department of Labor and Welfare Services, when the number of foreign workers do not exceed 50 percent of the allowed quota. Otherwise, the employer should submit request to the government. As of October of 2016, a total of 11,072 foreign nationals are employed in Mongolia, which represents 33 percent decrease compared to last year. The Employment Fund accumulated MNT 43 billion in 2015. As of the end of October, MNT 12 billion was accumulated out of the supposed MNT 37.8 billion for this year. ^ top ^

Parliament to receive and consider 259 bills in four years (Montsame)
2016-11-10
The cabinet discussed a draft parliamentary resolution on adopting the guidelines for improving the quality of legislations of Mongolia until 2020, and resolved to submit it to the Parliament. In accordance with the draft, a total of 259 draft laws and 16 draft parliamentary resolutions will be worked out and presented to the State Great Khural (Parliament). Thereby, a list of legislative acts has been designed based on proposals the cabinet received from 43 corresponding. As far as bills and resolutions authors are concerned, 238 bills will be initiated by the cabinet, 17 -by lawmakers and four -- by the President. ^ top ^

Budget Standing Committee discusses an economic overview of the next three years (The UB Post)
2016-11-09
During Tuesday's meeting of the Budget Standing Committee (BSC), MPs reviewed the first discussion of 2017's state budget framework and an overview of the budget from 2018 to 2019. They approved a proposal put forwarded by a task force working on the budget drafts. The final decision of the task force included expected percentages of revenue and expenditure against GDP. Revenue is expected to be 23.3 percent of GDP in 2017, 23.8 in 2018, and 23.7 in 2019. Limits on expenditure will be 32.3 percent of GDP in 2017, 31.3 in 2018, and 29.2 in 2019. MP Battumur will present Parliament with proposals and conclusions from the first discussion by the BSC. Members of the BSC voted on bills submitted with the draft of the 2017 state budget and the 2017 budget for the Social Insurance Fund, as well as amendments to laws on pensions, Cabinet's special fund, senior welfare, labor, the rights of people with disabilities, child welfare, childcare, court administration, mineral resources, enterprise certification, banknote tax, investment, and public service. They also approved Parliament's resolution to review the salaries of prosecutors, members, and the head of the Constitutional Court, and to privatize state assets in 2016. At the end of the meeting, Head of the BSC Ch.Khurelbaatar asked Minister of Finance B.Choiljilsuren to specify when projects concerning Oyu Tolgoi, Tavan Tolgoi, and Gatsuurt will be launched, in an effort to better manage revenue in 2017. B.Choiljilsuren said that the megaprojects will begin implementation in 2017. ^ top ^

Mongolian permanent rep to UN delivers speech on HRC meeting (Montsame)
2016-11-09
On 4 November 2016, H.E. Mr. Sukhbold Sukhee, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the UN, made a statement at the 41st Plenary Meeting of the UNGA 71 on Report of the Human Rights Council (HRC). In the beginning of his speech, Ambassador S.Sukhbold commended resolutions and decisions delivered by HRC this year to address human rights issues. Moreover, the tenth anniversary of HRC celebrated this year served as an opportunity to reflect on the Council's achievements and challenges, assess lessons learned, and prescribe necessary changes toward a stronger and more effective institution. Permanent Representative also underlined that in 2016, Mongolia served first year of its HRC membership. As a new member of the Council, Mongolia is focusing on a number of priority issues such as ensuring gender equality, protecting the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities, fighting human trafficking in all its forms, fighting racial and gender discrimination, abolishing the death penalty, promoting freedom of opinion and expression, and promoting freedom of assembly and association. While concluding, Permanent Representative S.Sukhbold expressed his belief that the HRC's working methods and efficiency will be further improved and will stay a solid platform for enhanced and open discussion on global human rights challenges as in the last decade, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ^ top ^

Coldest winter in 100 years awaits (gogoMongolia)
2016-11-09
The German meteorologist Dominik Jung said the 2016-2017 winter season promises to be “unusually cold” ever recorded in last 100 years. The Mongolian Research Institute for Hydrology and Meteorology agrees with the European scholar and warns Mongolia is also expecting such a winter. Mongolia have seen the harshest winters in the Year of the Monkey, according to the Lunar Calendar, which also befalls this winter. The wintering preparations in rural areas has been reported as sufficient. Young herders make up 70 percent of all livestock herding community of Mongolia. At the national level, herders prepared this fall 284 thousand tons of hay or 24 percent of necessary hay for wintering. Emergency storages of provinces and soums hold 3,722 tons of hay and 504 tons of fodder. To overcome the harsh winter without or minimum loss, Mongolia needs a reserve of 1.2 million tons of hay and 100 thousand tons of animal fodder, reports olloo.mn. ^ top ^

Mongolia, China foreign ministries hold 18th consular meeting (Montsame)
2016-11-08
The Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and China held the 18th consular meeting in Ulaanbaatar on November 7. The annual consular consultations addresses consular affairs including protection of nationals' interests and rights as well as institutional cooperation. The meeting was chaired by the Director of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ch.Ariunbold and the Minister Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mr Yang Qingdong. The sides focused on a broad range of issues concerning bilateral consular relations, protection of nationals' interests and rights, employment and cooperation between affiliated organizations, and determined the further joint actions. ^ top ^

Mongolia to receive 40 million-euro loan from Austrian Government (gogoMongolia)
2016-11-04
Friday session of State Great Khural has commenced with the attendance of 52.6 percent. The Government is set to discuss the approval of financing agreement of export development project, established between the World Bank's International Development Association and the Government of Mongolia as well as Financial Cooperation Agreement between the Government of Mongolia and Republic of Austria. Mongolia signed Financial Cooperation Agreement with Austrian Government in June, 2016. In regards, Mongolia will receive 40 million-euro soft loans from Austrian Government with 18 years repayment period. The soft loan will be funded to local water supply, health and social security sectors. ^ top ^

UN backs Mongolia-initiated resolution on eradicating illiteracy (Montsame)
2016-11-04
Mongolia-proposed a draft resolution on education of literacy was approved at the plenary session of the 71st UNGA Third Committee, held November 3. United Nations' 101 member states agreed to be the co-authors of the resolution. Despite the decades of universal efforts on improving literacy throughout the world, there are over 760 million illiterate adults, and some 250 million of the total of 650 million children of age of primary school are living under a condition without an access to education of literacy, says the introduction to the document. The issue of literacy education was included as a separate article in the Sustainable Development Goals beyond 2015. The revised resolution on education of literacy outlines an importance of joint commitment to and investment from all parties in implementation of the Global Alliance for Literacy and the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity. The essence of the resolution is that it raises concern about the education of literacy for those children, who are from the vulnerable groups, rural regions and living under conditions of humanitarian crises. Mongolia was recorded to have 98.4 percent literacy rate in 2015. ^ 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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