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
  12-16.12.16, No. 651  
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Switzerland

Masters champ Danny Willett chips in at UBS charity golf event for Operation Santa Claus (SCMP)
2016-12-14
Masters champion Danny Willett was among those who showed up on Friday to support a golf-themed Christmas charity challenge in the city organised by UBS. The 29-year-old golf star, who is only the second Englishman to win the Masters, was on hand to mark UBS' Hole-in-One charity challenge – part of its sponsorship of this year's UBS Hong Kong Open. The charity event, held from Thursday to Sunday, was also part of the bank's support for Operation Santa Claus (OSC), a joint charity campaign held by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, which raises money for 23 local beneficiaries. Prize money totalling US$10,000 was up for grabs for the first golfer to achieve a hole-in-one on the 144-yard 12th hole at Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling, with UBS matching that amount in a donation to the campaign. Willett and other professional golfers tried their hand on the course, but no one hit the shot. UBS donated the prize money to OSC. Amy Lo, head of UBS wealth management and greater China and country head for UBS in Hong Kong, said the company was proud to sponsor the tournament and contribute to OSC. She said that since last year UBS had been collaborating with some of the beneficiaries, advising them on how to promote their services. “With all the money we've raised, we said we wanted to do something different, so last year with OSC, we started the non-governmental organisation mentorship programme,” she said. “And this year we continued with it; I'm so happy that we have a number of our executive committee members as well as our division head participating in this.” Lo said the bank was able to support even more of the city's underprivileged by providing NGOs with training programmes. “I've been getting very good feedback from the NGOs,” she said. “They really find our coaching useful, specifically in terms of how to market themselves. That is credit to all those who have contributed. “If we can help all these NGOs, it will be much more effective given the limited resources we have in the community. We can help even more of the needy.” On Friday, some UBS staff also donned fancy dress outfits at work as part of their fundraising activities for the campaign. Founded in 1988, OSC has raised more than HK$250 million for more than 230 charitable projects. New beneficiaries this year include FHL Adventure Education Centre, Yes We Do Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Outward Bound Trust of Hong Kong and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. ^ top ^

Switzerland, China should jointly voice opposition to protectionism: Chinese FM (Xinhua)
2016-12-13
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday said that both Switzerland and China should jointly voice their opposition to protectionism, and actively explore more efforts to safeguard the world's free trade mechanism. Meeting with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann on Monday, Wang said that the two sides should play their respective advantages so as to provide a new impetus to the world economic growth. The Chinese foreign minister paid an official visit to Switzerland from Dec. 10 to 12 at the invitation of his Swiss counterpart Didier Burkhalter. Calling Switzerland an important cooperation partner of China in Europe, Wang said China has long considered that its ties with Switzerland takes the lead in the development of China-Europe relations. Earlier in April this year, during the state visit of Schneider-Ammann to China, both countries confirmed to establish an innovative strategic partnership, the first of its kind China has ever developed with a foreign country. The Sino-Swiss relations have become a successful win-win model for different social systems, different stages of development and different sizes of countries in terms of peaceful coexistence and cooperation, Wang said. He added that in the future China is willing to strengthen high-level exchanges with the Swiss side, and deepen all-round cooperation in various fields. During their talks, Schneider-Ammann spoke about the initial effects of the free-trade agreement with China and noted that there had been a promising increase in Swiss exports to the Chinese market since the agreement's entry into force. According to the latest figures provided by the Swiss government, in the economic domain, China is Switzerland's biggest trading partner in Asia. During the visit, Wang also met with Swiss Federal Councillor and Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter on Monday and discussed bilateral relations and issues of common concern. He also met with the top officials of the United Nations Office at Geneva, the World Health Organization and the International Olympic Committee. ^ top ^

Chinese, Swiss leaders look to upgrade free trade partnership (China Daily)
2016-12-13
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday that he has agreed with Swiss leaders that China and Switzerland are determined to upgrade their free trade partnership and oppose any form of protectionism. "Facing a global situation which features the rise of conflicts, wars and uncertainties, China and Switzerland are determined to make our ties as stabilizing factor in international relations," Wang told reporters when he wrapped up two-day visit in Switzerland. "While the trends of protectionism are picking up, we will take advantage of the chance to upgrade our free trade partnership to send active signals over maintaining the global trade system." On Monday, Wang met the President of the Swiss Confederation, Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, who will be replaced by Doris Leuthard from the beginning of 2017. Both visited China in 2016. Wang has also held talks with his Swiss counterpart Didier Burkhalter, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday. The talks happened after the foreign minister's Sunday meetings with Michael Moller, director-general of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympics Committee based in Lausanne. Regarding to the rise of protectionism, Wang recalled that Switzerland was the first country in the West to recognize China's market economy status. Currently, up to 100 countries have done so while some members of World Trade Organization, including the United States and Japan, have refused to do so. Wang made the comments as China's 15-year transitional period of World Trade Organization accession expired on Sunday. The WTO accession protocol stipulates that after the transitional period, China should be given full market economy status when dumping prices of exports are calculated. Schneider-Ammann said Switzerland attached great importance to the Sino-Swiss relationship and his country has benefited greatly from China's development over the previous decades. "The Sino-Swiss relationship is excellent and both sides have implemented fruitful cooperation in various areas," said Schneider-Ammann. "I hope both sides will substantially implement the innovation strategic partnership and jointly maintain the free trade system." Schneider-Ammann paid a state visit to China in April and entered into agreement with President Xi Jinping to set up strategic partnership of innovation. During the meeting, Switzerland also became an observer country in the partnership between China and sixteen Central and East European countries. When meeting Wang on Monday, Didier Burkhalter, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs said China and Switzerland have set examples on how to establish a win-win partnership by ironing out differences in political and social systems. "Swiss side is willing to deepen cooperation with China to explore innovation and maintain the global free trade system," said Burkhalter. Burkhalter added that his country will also work closely with China in various multilateral areas to become stabilizing factors of the complicated global situation. ^ top ^

Foreign Minister discusses energy security with OSCE Secretary General (gogoMongolia)
2016-12-12
On the sidelines of his participation in the 23rd Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Ts.Munkh-Orgil met with his counterparts from Hungary, Switzerland, Belaurs, Poland, Austria, Germany, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Georgia, in Hamburg, Germany. Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil invited Mr Peter Szijjarto, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, to the ceremony for launching the “Biocombinat” state-run industry modernization project with assistance of the Government of the Republic of Hungary, to take place in January. The Mongolian FM conveyed Mongolia's proposal on adding the quota of Hungarian government scholarships for Mongolian students and training agricultural professionals for the additional quota. The Hungarian FM confirmed that it is possible and the sides agreed on signing a Memorandum of Understanding on the cooperation by the end of 2016. Mr Munkh-Orgil also said Mongolia is interested in involving Hungarian companies in technological modernization and constructions at the sewage treatment facility of Ulaanbaatar, and agreed on studying the feasibilities for resolving financing with loan from Hungarian Ex-Im Bank. During the meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation D.Burkhalter, the sides agreed on formalizing an intergovernmental visa waiver agreement for diplomatic passport holders. Studying possibilities for freeing ordinary passport bearers from visa was also concerted. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia extended gratitude for the fact that the issue of continuation of the development aid to Mongolia through the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development has been discussed by the Swiss parliament. As for the meeting with the Polish FM Witold Waszczykowski, the latter said the Polish government is taking efforts for re-opening its embassy in Mongolia. The sides agreed to restore the regular mechanism for economic cooperation and to attach more importance to the implementation of projects with export loans from Poland, as well as on promoting the Department of Mongolian studies in the Warsaw University. Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil congratulated Mr S.Kurz, the Austrian FM, on Austria's victory in the election for chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2017. They discussed about the priorities Austria is assuming as the chair of OSCE and ways of effective utiliziation of Austrian Government's soft loan to Mongolia. FM Ts.Munkh-Orgil asked his counterpart to resolve the social insurance issues of the Mongolian nationals, who are returning home after studying and working in Austria and Poland. The foreign ministers of Mongolia and Belarus concerted exchanging high-level visits in 2017 in order to broaden the bilateral economic ties. The Belarusian FM pledged support the Eurasian Economic Union's Committee meeting for an issue of forming a research team on establishing Free Trade Agreement between Mongolia and the EEU. Mr Munkh-Orgil exchanged opinions with Mr F.Steinmeier, the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, on widening bilateral economic cooperation and wished success to Mr Steinmeier as he is running for president of Germany, in the election to take place early 2017. With the OSCE Secretary General, Mr Lamberto Zannier, the FM Ts.Munkh-Orgil discussed about strengthening the law enforcement of Mongolia and energy security and put forward a request to employing Mongolian representatives for the OSCE.  ^ top ^

China's FM to visit Switzerland (Xinhua)
2016-12-09
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi will pay an official visit to Switzerland from December 10 to 12 at the invitation of his Swiss counterpart Didier Burkhalter. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang made the announcement at a routine news briefing Friday. During his visit, Wang will meet with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann and Burkhalter in Berne, and discuss bilateral relations and issues of common concern, Lu said. Wang will also visit Geneva and have meetings with leaders of the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the International Olympic Committee. Calling Switzerland an important cooperation partner of China in Europe, Lu said that the China-Switzerland relations played a leading role for the development of China-Europe relations. Cooperation between China and Switzerland boasted solid foundation and big potentials, Lu added. During the state visit of Schneider-Ammann to China in April, the two countries established an innovative strategic partnership. "This maps out the new direction for bilateral pragmatic cooperation. China is willing to make joint efforts with Switzerland to boost bilateral ties and cooperations," Lu said. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Satellite images 'show Beijing has built weapons on all its artificial islands in South China Sea' (SCMP)
2016-12-16
China appears to have installed weapons on all seven of the artificial islands it built in the South China Sea, according to satellite images released by a US-based think tank, suggesting Beijing may be stepping up preparation for conflict in the disputed waters. China has repeatedly promised it will not militarise the man-made islands and yesterday said its construction activities were legitimate. “The necessary military facilities are mainly for self-defence. It is legitimate,” the defence ministry said in a statement posted online. “When someone is flexing muscles at your doorstep, wouldn't you prepare a slingshot?” The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in the US said it had been tracking for months construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly Islands, where China has already built military-length airstrips. Satellite images captured in November of Hughes and Gaven reefs showed what appeared to be anti-aircraft guns and what were likely to be close-in weapons systems for protection against cruise missile strikes, the centre said. Michael McDevitt, a retired admiral with the Centre for Naval Analyses in the United States, said the images gave “every impression of being a land-based attempt to put close-in weapon systems that you'd normally find on a naval ship on a concrete superstructure”. The hexagonal shape might be more resistant to cruise missile damage, he said. Song Zhongping, a military commentator for Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite Television, said the hexagonal structures were part of the PLA's military facilities to defend the security of the artificial islands. “There are long airstrips for both military and civilian aircraft on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs, so it's necessary for China to build military defensive facilities such as radar and missile systems,” Song said. AMTI said the installations would likely provide backup for a defensive umbrella consisting of the deployment of mobile surface-to-air missile platforms such as the HQ-9 system, which has already been deployed to Woody Island in the Paracels, farther to the north. But experts differ on how such moves could affect the region. Cortez Cooper, of the RAND Corporation in the US, said the question was “what military capability these additional assets mean for the People's Liberation Army in a contingency or a crisis”. Collin Koh Swee Lean, a maritime security expert at Nanyang Technology University in Singapore, said the facilities could enhance Beijing's physical control over the South China Sea. But “these moves would only be useful in times of peace, but practically of little utility if a full-scale shooting war breaks out”. AMTI director Greg Poling said it appeared China was militarising the disputed waters. “The Chinese can argue that it's only for defensive purposes, but if you are building giant anti-aircraft gun and [close-in weapons systems] emplacements, it means that you are prepping for a future conflict,” he said. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang hinted that the US, which has carried out patrols near the islands, was the nation engaging in militarisation. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy calls for strengthened int'l cooperation on WMD non-proliferation (Xinhua)
2016-12-16
A Chinese envoy Thursday called on the international community to strengthen cooperation and form synergy to prevent weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from falling into hands of terrorists. Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, made the appeal at a UN Security Council debate on WMD non-proliferation. Wu said solutions need to be found to peacefully address regional hotspot proliferation problems by political and diplomatic means, and there is also a need to establish a complete international norm on non-proliferation. He also noted the international community needs to properly handle the relationship between non-proliferation and peaceful use, while ensuring the right of all countries, especially developing countries to use and share relevant science and technology peacefully. At the meeting, the Security Council adopted a resolution recalling that all states shall take effective measures to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. It also requests all states to implement fully and effectively the resolution 1540 which established legally binding obligations on all UN member states to act against WMD proliferation. UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson warned that non-state actors already have the capacity to abuse cyber technologies to create mass disruption. "The nightmare scenario of a hack on a nuclear power plant causing uncontrolled release of ionizing radiation is growing," he ntoed. Eliasson also noted that the Security Council has a role to play in holding those that use chemical or other inhumane weapons accountable. "We must take advantage of every opportunity to strengthen our collective defences," he added. ^ top ^

Chinese, French FMs hold phone talks over ties, one-China principle (Xinhua)
2016-12-15
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday held a telephone conversation with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault on bilateral ties and the one-China principle. In the phone call, Wang said China, which views France as a significant strategic partner, is willing to work with it to make earnest efforts to respect and accommodate each other's core interests and to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, so as to promote the in-depth development of the China-France comprehensive strategic partnership. Appreciating Ayrault's unequivocal position on the one-China principle in his recent remarks, Wang stressed that the Taiwan issue concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Wang said the one-China principle is the prerequisite and basis for other countries to develop their relations with China and that when it comes to this vital issue of right or wrong, no country can be an exception. Ayrault reiterated that the France-China relations are based on mutual trust and mutual benefit and that the one-China principle is related to international and regional peace and stability, to which France attaches great importance and will continue to play a positive role on the matter. The two sides also exchanged views on deepening cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. ^ top ^

Trump administration will move toward better U.S.-China relations: Kissinger (Xinhua)
2016-12-15
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Wednesday expressed optimism over U.S.-China relations in the upcoming Trump administration. "When a new president examines the national interest of the United States, he will come to a conclusion that a good relationship with China is an important element," he told an event co-hosted by China's Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business and the Committee of 100, a nonpartisan organization. The U.S.-China relationship has been conducted through eight administrations in a very similar way, said the 93-year-old veteran diplomat. It's "the one bi-partisan foreign policy that we conducted" since the normalization of U.S.-China relations. Kissinger expressed optimism over U.S.-China cooperation -- instead of confrontation -- in the new administration. "In the beginning of an administration, it's possible that many different points of view are expressed... I hope that the cooperative way will prevail." Kissinger warned about the danger of a confrontational approach, saying "if China and America are in conflict, the whole world will be divided." Kissinger was secretary of state under the Nixon administration and a crucial figure in the establishment of China-U.S. diplomatic ties in 1979.

China Focus: Chongqing's China-Europe trains on fast track (Xinhua)
2016-12-15
Every day, trains full of laptops, electronics and auto parts depart the remote village of Tuanjiecun for Europe. For five years, trains have delivered laptops for Hewlett-Packard, car window regulators for Brose and semi-conductors for AT&S, from Chongqing Municipality, southwest China, to Europe. Since the trains started in March 2011, there has been a business boom in the mountain city. According to Chongqing Logistics City, Chongqing imported more than 2,000 cars on the international rail network in the past two years. Six years ago the city was struggling to attract businesses, which mostly centered on China's coastal areas where convenient shipping and air transport converge. "Before 2011 we had to wait for business to come because we did not have much of a transport advantage, even though labor was cheap," said Guo Jian, director at Chongqing Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology. "But with the launch of the trains, we got more deals because train transport costs are only about one-fifth of air, and one-third faster than sea." As prices along the eastern seaboard rose, industries began to move inland. In 2010 Hewlett-Packard established a computer production line in Chongqing, seeking government help to launch a rail network to transport products overseas, said Yang Liqiong, director of the Logistics Coordination Office under the municipal government. "That was when the China-Europe rail network was launched," she said. Following the footsteps of Hewlett-Packard, other brands such as Acer, Toshiba and Apple's major supplier Foxconn set up bases in Chongqing to take advantage of the rail line. "The China-Europe rail network saves at least 30 days compared with shipping by sea," said Chen Wei, vice president of Chongqing's auto-maker Lifan Group, Russia's top Chinese auto brand in sales for five years. "It saves us about 5 million U.S. dollars each year." The railway has been great for business in Chongqing, with laptop, mobile phone and automobile sales soaring. According to the local government, 41 of 42 major categories of laptop components can now be made in Chongqing, and tens of millions of laptops are transported abroad through the railway and Yangtze River every year. Chongqing's automobile sales exceeded 3 million last year, making it the second biggest auto-making base in the world after Detroit in the United States. "The auto industry in Chongqing has really benefited from the China-Europe railway," said Yang Liqiong, the Logistics Coordination Office director. "Each year, carmakers need to import a large number of auto parts from around the world, and the network provides a highly efficient and safe way." In June a coffee trade center opened in the city. Within two weeks, the center inked deals with more than 200 domestic and foreign companies, including Louis Dreyfus of France. "Chongqing is not a coffee production base and has very limited coffee consumption, but it is close to China's biggest coffee production base in Yunnan," said Sun Zheng, a manager at the center. "With the China-Europe railway, we can not only export Yunnan coffee to Europe, but also become a transport hub for coffee from Southeast Asia to Europe." The municipal government plans to make Chongqing China's biggest, and the world's third biggest, coffee trade center, with trade expected to exceed 100 billion yuan (14 billion U.S. dollars). "The rail network not only provides a major channel for goods but is also a magnet for global capital, resources, skills and talent," said Luo Shuquan, Chongqing Logistics City chairman. Despite fast development, problems stand in the way, including different standards of goods transported between China and other countries. "We are trying to negotiate with other countries in dealing with such issues," said Yang Liqiong. "We will try to connect major industries in the world via the network." ^ top ^

PLA air force vows to continue training and patrols over East and South China seas (SCMP)
2016-12-15
The mainland Chinese air force said on Thursday it would continue training and patrols in the air space over the East and South China seas, following recently intensified drills that have rattled Taiwan and Japan. The People's Liberation Army air force would keep training and patrolling the air space in accordance with its schedule, spokesman Shen Jinke said. In a statement posted on the PLA air force microblog, Shen said his remark was in response to recent reports from Taiwan and overseas media about the mainland's H-6K nuclear bombers flying over waterways near Taiwan and through the Bashi Channel and Japan's Miyako Strait. Such flights have became more frequent since a telephone call between Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen and US president-elect Donald Trump on December 2, which broke a norm since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taipei in 1979. Shen said such flights are “regular and legal training and patrol missions” to defend China's sovereignty in the region. “The drill and patrol missions in the East and South China seas are regular, legitimate and responsible military activities that reflect the Chinese air force's mission and duties in the region,” Shen was quoted as saying, adding that the air force would continue conducting similar flights according to its established plans. He said the PLA air force is a strategic troop, so its training goal should meet national interests. “Actual combat training will enhance the air force's ability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as defend China's space and sky security and development interests,” he said. Beijing considers self-ruled Taiwan to be a renegade province and wants it to be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary. ^ top ^

China calls for mutual respect from South Korea on 'security interests' (SCMP)
2016-12-15
The Ministry of National Defence has called for China and South Korea to “respect each other's security interests” after media reports that China ignored a request by a South Korean naval ship to visit Shandong province. In a post on its website on Thursday, the ministry said it attached great importance to developing military-to-military relations with South Korea and was willing to carry out exchanges and cooperation in defence. The statement came as media outlets, including Arirang News, cited the South Korean navy as saying one of its ships received no response to a request for entry to the port of Qingdao. The South Korean government has reportedly labelled the incident as a “punishment” for its planned deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile system. Beijing and Moscow both strongly object to the deployment, saying the system's powerful radar could be used to spy on them. China's ambassador to South Korea has also said that THAAD's installation would destroy the bilateral relationship in “an instant”. South Korean media have reported that some China-South Korea business deals have been put on hold without explanation and Beijing has hinted that even cultural imports such as K-pop may suffer if THAAD goes ahead. Beijing has not confirmed any sanctions against South Korea. In April, China denied a request for a US carrier strike group led by the USS John C. Stennis to visit Hong Kong. The foreign ministry did not give a reason for the refusal but observers said it could be to punish the United States for its position challenging what it viewed as excessive maritime claims by China to the South China Sea. ^ top ^

Will warmer ties between US and Russia leave China out in the cold? (SCMP)
2016-12-15
Beijing is closely watching for any diplomatic fallout from warmer ties between Washington and Moscow with the nomination of oil executive Rex Tillerson as US secretary of state. As ExxonMobil's chief executive, Tillerson gained extensive experience in Russia and forged close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin went so far as to give Tillerson a top state honour in 2013 for his work in “strengthening cooperation in the energy sector”. If Tillerson's appointment did mark the start of a new era in relations between the Kremlin and the White House, Moscow would have less incentive to compromise with Beijing, especially in central Asia, where both Russia and China were showing greater interest, observers said. But analysts also said less confrontation between the world's two biggest military powers would “bring a more stable global security environment”, which would not be bad news for China. Shi Ze, a specialist in Russian affairs at the China Institute of International Studies, said Tillerson “knows Russia's top leadership well and is familiar with the country's investment environment and policies”. Russia's energy sector, which has struggled under tough Western sanctions since Moscow's annexation of Crimea in 2014, could be among the first to feel any thaw, Shi said. ExxonMobil's operations in Russia are only a small part of its global production but it has formed a joint venture with Russian oil giant Rosneft to explore fossil fuels in the Arctic. “Picking someone with wide connections in Russia would help to boost economic cooperation, especially when ExxonMobil has been involved in gas and oil projects in Russia,” Shi said. But analysts also cautioned that Trump's courtship of the Kremlin could be part of a bigger game to counterbalance the rise of China. China and Russia have grown closer in the last few years but they are also competing for influence in Central Asia, with both nations investing in the region's energy sector. “The rapprochement between China and Russia in the past three years is very much based on Russia's international isolation and the strategic pressure China faces in the western Pacific,” said Yun Sun, senior associate with the East Asia programme at the Stimson Centre in Washington. “If now Russia's international standing improves, it will have less incentive to continue compromising with China. And China will have less leverage in dealing with Russia.” Wu Xinbo, director of Fudan University's Centre for American Studies, agreed that China risked losing influence over Russia if Moscow's ties with Washington were less fraught. “If the economic sanctions were lifted, Russia would not have to depend on China, strategically and economically,” Wu said. “And from Russia's perspective, the incentive to develop its ties with China could decrease.” Nevertheless, it is still unclear how much Tillerson's links with Russia could help bridge the deep distrust between Washington and Moscow. Russia and the US found common ground on nuclear weapons and Afghanistan under former US president George W Bush and his successor, Barack Obama, but divisions persisted on various fronts, including the wars in Georgia in 2008 and Syria. “Putin will make no concession on core matters like Crimea, Ukraine and even in Syria,” Wu said. “Given the West's deep distrust of Putin, it's hard to say how fast relations could be reset.” Oh Ei Sun, an international affairs specialist at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, said less confrontation between Moscow and Washington could bring “fresh air” to global security, but the impact on Asia would be limited. Shi agreed, saying the two powers had to work together on global security, counterterrorism, nuclear non-proliferation and Syria. ^ top ^

Chinese commander urges Myanmar to manage conflict to prevent harm to Chinese citizens (SCMP)
2016-12-14
A leading Chinese military official has urged Myanmar to properly handle its domestic conflicts to prevent harming Chinese citizens on the border again. The request was made by People's Liberation Army Western Theatre Commander General Zhao Zongqi, who led a delegation to Myanmar two weeks after the outbreak of the latest north Myanmar conflict, according to the Chinese Defence Ministry. Zhao met with Soe Win, deputy commander-in-chief of the Tatmadaw, or Myanmar Armed Forces, and Tun Tun Naung, chief of Myanmar's No.1 Special Operations Bureau, during his Myanmar visit from Sunday to Wednesday. The conflict in northern Myanmar had hurt Chinese border citizens, which deeply concerned the Chinese government, Zhao said. Beijing hoped Myanmar would tighten its border control, prevent stray bullets and maintain a peaceful border with China, he said. Myanmar responded that it would manage its internal situation, keep a peaceful border region and avoid causing harm to Chinese citizens. During conflict between north Myanmar rebel militia and government forces in late November, a stray bullet injured a Chinese citizen and a bomb fell near a refugee camp in Manghai county, Yunnan province. More than 3,000 Myanmar refugees fled their homes and sought shelter from the fighting in Chinese territory. The conflict in Myanmar is a series of ongoing insurgencies that began after the country became independent from the United Kingdom in 1948. It has been described as one of the world's longest-running civil wars, and has spilled over into Chinese territory many times. Last year, five Chinese nationals were killed and eight wounded when bombs were dropped in Chinese territory near the border by a Myanmese aircraft. Although Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanamese de facto leader, made the peace process the top priority for her administration, deep-rooted ethnic problems have made the prospects for an end to violence dim. ^ top ^

Chinese activist warns Donald Trump in open letter on Twitter: 'feminists are watching you' (SCMP)
2016-12-14
A prominent Chinese feminist has sent an open letter to US president-elect Donald Trump, warning him of his “straight man cancer” – a Chinese term for misogynism – and saying he will one day have to answer for his lewd comments about women. Zheng Churan, nicknamed “Big Rabbit”, was one of the “Feminist Five” – five women who were detained in Beijing last year on the eve of International Women's Day for planning to distribute leaflets warning of sexual harassment on public transportation. They were released on bail after a month's detention but remain under close surveillance. “Sent letter to @realDonaldTrump, 10,899 Chinese vote 10 top 'straight-man-cancer behaviors'”, Zheng wrote in a posting on her Twitter account Tuesday, with a photo of her holding a letter and a sign in front of a mailbox. “Hey Trump, feminists are watching you,” the sign reads. “The staff at the post office was a little shocked when they saw me fill in Trump's name as the recipient of the letter,” said Zheng, who currently lives in Shenzhen. She said she gave the address as Trump Tower. In a posting on messaging app Wechat, Zheng said she initiated a poll in November, surveying her 2,000 Wechat followers, who are mostly female, on their definitions of “straight man cancer”, a Chinese internet slang term that equals “male chauvinism”. She received more than 10,000 replies in a month, after which she selected the top 10 actions seen to best define “straight man cancer” by respondents, from the 20 candidates she and other netizens had proposed earlier. “I wanted to initiate the poll after reading the news that Harvard University had suspended its men's soccer team for the remainder of the season because of lewd sexual comments made about members of the women's soccer team,” Zheng said. “I wanted to let those little brats see how we girls can fight back.” She then decided to send the poll results to Trump, who was shown making lewd comments and using vulgar terms to talk about women in a 2005 video and is often portrayed as a misogynist, to let him know “people who look down on women will have to be responsible for the insulting and sexist comments they made one day”. “Although we are far away in China, we have seen the news reports of you being constantly involved in gender discrimination and thus we want to send you the poll results showing how a male chauvinist, or straight man cancer patient (sic), would look.” Zheng wrote in her letter to Trump. She posted the letter, written in Chinese and translated into English, in her WeChat post. Five young vocal Chinese feminists, including Zheng, were arrested during an unprecedented crackdown on feminists in March last year, after they planned a protest across multiple cities aimed at bringing an end to sexual harassment on public transport. The late Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong praised women as holding up “half the sky” and played an important part in the communist rise to power. In the early years of the People's Republic of China, women's rights saw huge advances. However, gender discrimination still exists in China and starts even before birth. The Chinese mainland recorded the world's most imbalanced sex ratio at birth for the second consecutive year, and slipped in its ranking for overall gender equality, a study by the World Economic Forum this year shows. In terms of gender equality, the nation ranked 99 out of 144 countries, down from 91 last year, the report said. A wide gap also exists in the education levels of men and women on the mainland. China ranked 119th in terms of secondary school attainment, behind countries that include Singapore, South Korea and Ghana. ^ top ^

Ratification of AIIB "most noteworthy" resolution: Philippine Senate (Xinhua)
2016-12-14
The Philippine Senate viewed the ratification of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as the "most noteworthy" resolution it adopted as the congress adjourned its session on Wednesday. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said Senate Resolution No. 33, pertaining to the ratification of Articles of Agreement of AIIB, is one of the 33 resolutions that the Senate approved since July 25 when the 17th Congress started. Regular sessions will resume on Jan. 16, 2017. Pimentel said the confirmation of AIIB's Articles of Agreement provided "the government access to more sources of funding so we can usher in a golden age of infrastructure for the Philippines." The AIIB is a multilateral lending institution aimed at promoting economic development in Asia. The AIIB's 57 members include China, India, Russia, France, Germany and Britain among others. The Philippines signed the Articles of Agreement on Dec. 31, 2015, in Beijing. ^ top ^

China says summit with Japan, ROK should come at "appropriate time" (Xinhua)
2016-12-13
China said Tuesday that the trilateral summit with Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) should be held at "an appropriate time" after Japan, the rotating chair, postponed the meeting until 2017. Japan had been trying to hold the annual trilateral summit in December, but it was uncertain if scandal-hit ROK President Park Geun-hye could attend. "Due to various circumstances, we will rearrange it and hold it in Japan at a suitable time next year," Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday. "China is engaged in close communication about the summit with Japan," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a news briefing. "The trilateral summit should be held at an appropriate time and under proper conditions for the three parties, and should achieve positive outcomes," Geng said. Geng reiterated that China attaches great importance to trilateral cooperation with Japan and the ROK and is ready to work closely with the two countries. China wants to keep improving trilateral cooperation and ensure its healthy, stable and sustainable growth, the spokesperson said. China, Japan and the ROK have hosted regular trilateral summits since 2008, except for a three-and-half-year suspension starting in May 2012, due to regional tensions. The sixth China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting was held in Seoul in November last year. ^ top ^

New documentary on Tokyo Trials to air in China (Xinhua)
2016-12-13
A new three-episode documentary providing rare footage of the Tokyo Trials will began airing on Tuesday, China's National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Tokyo Trials, when the Allied Forces tried Japanese war criminals at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo after World War II. The proceedings played an important part in shaping the postwar Asia-Pacific order. Some rare footage, including witnesses testimony, and war criminals defending themselves in court are to be broadcast for the first time in China. In one episode, US missionary John Gillespie Magee, one of the key witnesses, is seen giving testimony. "It was unbelievably terrible," Magee said as he recalled witnessing hundreds of civilians slaughtered by Japanese troops in a school in the Chinese city of Nanjing in 1937. The mass killing is also known as Nanjing Massacre, when over 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers were killed in six weeks after the city fell to the Imperial Japanese Army. In February 2014, China's top legislature designated Dec. 13 as National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims. The documentary, produced by Copyright Assets Management Center of SMG & Shanghai Audio-Visual Archives, was edited from 182 clips of over 28 hours' footage. "We've found footage of the witnesses taken from various angels. It was surprising they had put so many cameras in court," said Zhu Xiaoqian, director of the documentary. The new series will be broadcast in English with Mandarin subtitles. Two other versions, in Chinese and Japanese respectively, are also to be released. ^ top ^

China, Japan agree on early launch of air, maritime contact system (Xinhua)
2016-12-10
China and Japan have agreed to work for the creation of an air and maritime contact system between their defense ministries as early as possible. The agreement was reached during the sixth round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs between the two countries's various departments, held from Wednesday to Friday in China's southern city of Haikou. They also agreed to hold the first meeting of expert discussions on marine pollution before March 2017, and expand information exchanges to jointly crack down on transnational crimes such as smuggling and drug trafficking. The two sides pledged to beef up cooperation on fisheries management and sign a marine search and rescue agreement as early as possible. China and Japan also exchanged views on the East China Sea issue and agreed to hold the seventh round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs in Japan in the first half of next year. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Chinese police confirm they detained rights activist, says lawyer (SCMP)
2016-12-15
Chinese police detained a prominent human rights campaigner for allegedly trying to buy train tickets using other people's identification cards, his lawyer said on Thursday. Jiang Tianyong's family also said they last heard from him on November 21 when the activist was in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. He left Beijing, possibly to visit his friend Xie Yang, who had been arrested in a crackdown on rights lawyers and activists that began in July last year, Jiang's lawyer Qin Chenshou said. United Nations special rapporteur on human rights Philip Alston said last week he was concerned that Jiang's disappearance was a “reprisal” for a meeting they held in August. The US State Department has also pressed for information about Jiang's whereabouts. Qin said police in Changsha told him on Wednesday that Jiang was put under administrative detention for nine days, beginning November 22. He was detained because he used other people's identification cards to buy more than 20 train tickets, Qin quoted police as saying. Jiang should have been released by December 1, but his family still had not seen him. They did not know whether he was still being held or was again taken into custody after his release. Qin said neither he nor the family had received any written notice about the detention. An officer at the city's police station said he had no idea about the case and hung up. People must show their identification when buying train tickets on the mainland. Qin said it would not be surprising if Jiang had used IDs belonging to family members to buy a ticket. “Using his own ID, Jiang might not have been able to buy the tickets and take a trip at will,” Qin said. Jiang's wife, Jin Bianling, said she last received a message from him on November 21 saying he had bought a ticket for a late-night train to Beijing. From her home in California, Jin said police on December 4 raided a Beijing flat that Jiang sometimes used and took away personal items. They also entered his brother's Beijing flat and took away the tenant, she said. Jiang was a lawyer before being disbarred in 2009 but continued his activism, most recently helping to publicise the plight of nearly two dozen lawyers arrested in the crackdown. He was also detained and beaten by police as part of his past human rights work involving some of the mainland's most sensitive cases, including that of blind activist Chen Guangcheng and followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual group. ^ top ^

China 'must prepare for the worst' in Trump era of climate and energy policy (SCMP)
2016-12-15
China must prepare for the worst on US climate and energy policy, a mainland analyst said on Wednesday as Donald Trump named an oil executive to be the next US secretary of state. The US president-elect's proposal to appoint ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson as the top US diplomat followed Trump's nomination of climate sceptic Scott Pruitt to head the US Environmental Protection Agency. The decision is expected to stall US President Barack Obama's signature climate legacy, the Clean Power Bill. Trump's transition team have also asked the Department of Energy to give names of individuals involved in international climate negotiations. Tillerson's nomination was “almost certain” to be a boost to the US fossil fuels sector, veteran climate policy watcher Wu Changhua said. “So far, Tillerson is the only person in the Trump team who has publicly admitted links between human activities and global climate change,” Wu said. “Yet the oil and gas sectors' return to glory under the Trump administration looks unavoidable, which will also deal a heavy blow to the development of renewables.” Under Tillerson, ExxonMobil, the world's biggest public oil company, declared support for the Paris Agreement, the global deal reached last year to combat dangerous temperature rises. Wu said Trump's team was probably still considering its position on climate change, with Trump's daughter, Ivanka, meeting Al Gore, a campaigner for action on global warming, earlier this month. Peking University international relations professor Zhang Haibin said that amid all the uncertainties of Trump's climate policies, it was time for China to analyse various possible scenarios and prepare responses to manage risks. “For instance, the worst scenario could be Trump will withdraw from the UN climate architecture altogether, or he would prefer to remain in the global climate deal but not seriously deliver on its pledges,” Zhang said. “It makes more sense for China to have clear thoughts on how it will respond to each scenario, and remain flexible to minimise the risks in an age of uncertainties.” Wu and Zhang agreed that the active Sino-US cooperation on climate under Obama would end with Trump. Wu said the two countries would also likely to have common business interests in fossil fuels. “The US may see China as a market for oil and gas, and even for clean coal technology as an answer to China's air pollution problems,” she said. “If this turns out to be the case, such collaboration between world's two largest carbon polluters would definitely not be a positive signal for the world.” ^ top ^

Commentary: Why political education matters to college students (Xinhua)
2016-12-14
Ideological work should be integrated with higher education, while adherence to the Party's leadership should be consolidated in universities, Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a two-day meeting last week. Why does the central leadership put so much focus on college students' political education? All around the world, higher education shoulders the major responsibility for educating those that create a country's development, and is a key factor in realizing national potential, and so it must be guided on the correct political path. China's unique history, culture and national conditions have dictated the development path for higher education and colleges, featuring socialism with Chinese characteristics. China did not just randomly chose its current ideology and political system. Rather, it is a result of laborious endeavor of trial and error. History has told the Chinese that denying the leadership of the CPC and socialism leads to chaos and stagnation. China cannot simply copy another country's political system or teach students in an identical way to the west. In a time of great change and swift transition, college students can sometimes get confused, lost and even go astray due to a lack of clear faith and determination. Teaching Marxist theory in universities help students lay an ideological foundation in their lives. Their moral characteristics and human qualities enhanced during learning can enable them to develop both ability and integrity. Moreover, Chinese political education, stressing socialism and the Party's leadership, does not mean China is going to limit academic freedom in universities. Instead, it will help students to form an independent and conscientious world view to tell apart decayed ideas, and absorb fine culture and thought from around the world. All students should be educated about development trends in China and the world at large, and bear a sense of historical mission to integrate their own ideals and pursuits into the cause of the nation. ^ top ^

China issues regulation to advance rule of law (Xinhua)
2016-12-14
The central authority of China has issued a regulation for Party and government chiefs to advance the rule of law. The regulation was issued by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the General Office of the State Council. The regulation, which applies to chiefs of committees of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and governments at the county level and above, is aimed at implementing efforts by the central authority in building a rule-of-law country. These Party and governments chiefs have primary responsibility for advancing the rule of law, said the regulation, urging them to adhere to the Party's leadership and the supremacy of the Constitutions and laws, rather than substituting the law with their own words and placing their own power above the law. It urges Party and government chiefs to advance publicity and education of rule of law, in a bid to foster a more favorable atmosphere for a rule of law society. The regulation calls for advancing the transparency of government affairs. The regulation went into effect on Nov. 30, 2016. ^ top ^

Another political 'dark horse' emerges among China's new generation of governors (SCMP)
2016-12-14
A 54-year-old Chinese official has been named the provincial governor of Jilin, which shares a border of nearly 1,500km with North Korea, becoming the latest dark horse to emerge among China's new generation of governors. Liu Guozhong, who had been Sichuan's deputy Communist Party chief for just 10 months, has been quickly promoted again as the acting governor of Jilin, Xinhua reported. The top legislature in Jilin formally approved Liu as the provincial vice-governor and acting governor on Monday, the report said. A day before the Jilin provincial people's congress endorsed him, Liu also assumed the post of deputy party secretary, succeeding Jiang Chaoliang who was promoted to party chief of Hubei province last month. The new appointment for Liu, 54, brings him closer to his home province of Heilongjiang, which borders Jilin. It will also make him the fifth youngest regional government chief in the country before long. The four incumbent provincial governors younger than Liu are 50-year-old Lu Hao in Heilongjiang, 52-year-old Li Guoying in Anhui, 54-year-old Hu Heping in Shaanxi and 54-year-old Yin Li in Sichuan. Liu is widely regarded as a protégé of Ji Bingxuan, currently a vice-chairman of the National People's Congress. Liu worked as secretary general of the party's Heilongjiang provincial committee and reported to provincial party boss Ji from 2008 to 2011. Meanwhile, Ruan Chengfa, the former party boss of Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, has been promoted to deputy party secretary of Yunnan province. The appointment gives him a strong chance of being advanced to provincial governor soon, People's Daily reported on Sunday. ^ top ^

Xi vows to reinforce traditional family values (Global Times)
2016-12-14
After China awarded 300 families from across the nation who epitomize family values and virtues at a ceremony in Beijing on Monday, experts said that the government and the Communist Party of China (CPC) are aiming to reshape the country's societal values and spread virtue. Chinese President Xi Jinping at the ceremony on Monday called for efforts to enhance virtue and civility in Chinese families and make them "an important foundation" for national development, progress and social harmony, the Xinhua News Agency reported. People from all walks of life should work for "a new trend toward socialist family values" featuring love for the nation, family and one another, devotion to progress and kindness, and mutual growth and sharing, Xi said when meeting with attendees at a Beijing ceremony to honor model families from across the nation, Xinhua reported. According to Xinhua, Monday's ceremony was the first of its kind to honor model families selected nationwide. The 300 model families were awarded for displaying characteristics of patriotism, observation of law, ethics, harmony, honesty, professional spirit, thrift and commitment to public welfare. The families were first chosen by local governments, then the names were released to the public, and finally, after being evaluated, the 300 were chosen. Han Shiguo and his wife Zhang Ming, both primary school teachers from Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, went to Kashgar in Xinjiang twice to support local education. During their trip, they not only taught the children, but also trained local Uyghur teachers to improve local teachers' teaching skills. After returning to Shenzhen, they donated 139,200 yuan ($20,168) to Kashgar for educational purposes. Another recipient of the honor is Liu Ying, who lives with her husband in Xuchang, Henan Province. Liu's husband Li Yunzhi has three sets of parents, because Li was raised by foster parents after his birth parents divorced and remarried. Liu told her husband that she would like to treat all six parents as if they were her own, and in the past three decades, all of them were very happy with their daughter-in-law. Melted into the blood According to Xinhua, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said the Chinese nation has always valued the family. "Traditional family values have been engraved on the minds and melted into the blood of the Chinese people," Xi said. Zhi Zhenfeng, a legal expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times on Tuesday that with the ongoing urbanization and modernization, nontraditional families, such as single parents, empty-nesters, DINK (Dual Income, No Kids) families and homosexual families have presented new challenges for traditional values. "Stressing familial virtues and awarding model families is intended to reinforce the foundation of virtue across the whole of modern Chinese society," Zhi said. On Friday, Xi called for "ruling the country based on both law and virtue" at a group study attended by members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Xinhua reported. Zhi said that China is not like other countries as the government and the Party also have a responsibility to build and guard virtues and values, because in a multi-party political system, the parties only care about votes and promoting virtue comes from religions. "In China, we have only one ruling party, the CPC, and it will always govern China, so it has to bear responsibility for virtues and values," Zhi said, and since the CPC is a party that represents the fundamental interests of the masses all the time, Party members and officials also need high moral standards, otherwise, the law is useless. ^ top ^

China's internet censors crack down on news portal over US election coverage (SCMP)
2016-12-13
China's internet censors have penalised a leading news portal for its “unauthorised” news reporting, which sources said was linked to its live coverage of last month's US presidential election. The Cyberspace Administration of Beijing said on its Wechat public account that it had “summoned” the editor-in-chief of iFeng.com, owned by Phoenix TV in Hong Kong, over the website's “serious violations of laws and regulations”. The portal's alleged offences include “gathering news information and editing news headlines”, using journalists before they had been officially accredited by the authorities, and providing an online news service without a proper licence from China's media watchdog. While the administration did not list specific offences, sources close to the matter told the South China Morning Post that iFeng.com was censured because it provided live coverage of the US presidential election, during which Beijing imposed strict censorship. While most Chinese websites complied with the restrictions, iFeng.com provided live coverage from its journalist in Washington. Three sections of the website containing a substantial amount of this coverage were shut down, the Beijing Youth Daily reported on Tuesday. Phoenix New Media, citing iFeng's chief editor Zou Ming, said in an email to the South China Morning Post that the company would comply with Chinese laws when it operated on the mainland. “IFeng respects and understands the guidance from related government departments on our content,” the email quoted Zou as saying. Zou added that the closure of three sections of the website had little impact on its overall content. China, which ranked 176 out of 180 countries in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters without Borders, has developed one of the world's most extensive and intrusive systems for controlling the internet. It has a long list of published and secret regulations, an army of online censors and its increasingly sophisticated “Great Firewall” to keep unwanted information off limits to the country's 680 million Web users. China has a very strict registration system for journalists, who must be accredited by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television before they can report “legally”. So far, only 14 websites run directly by official media like Xinhua and People's Daily are licensed to have their own accredited journalists. The government refuses to accredit employees from China's leading news portals, including Sina.com, Netease.com and QQ.com, as journalists even though the portals attract hundreds of millions of viewers. These websites are only permitted to republish news reports from accredited media, so they often operate in grey areas by editing and repackaging online material and even writing their own stories. The crackdown on iFeng.com raises the question of whether such grey-area operations, with their very limited freedom, will continue to be tolerated. The censors gave no indication if the crackdown would extend beyond iFeng.com to other websites. It is clear, however, that Beijing is stepping up its censorship of the country's booming internet media, with dozens of news portals, social media channels and live-streaming sites being disciplined in recent months. After new regulations for online live streaming came into effect on December 1, more than 1,000 accounts were suspended. In July, Beijing shut down a group of news channels on prominent websites Sina.com, 163.com and Sohu.com. The cyberspace authority said iFeng.com's coverage caused “extremely negative impacts” and that “iFeng must carefully study the spirit of [President] Xi Jinping's important speech on internet information and stick to the right political direction”. One of the three sections closed at iFeng was “Serious News”, which billed itself as produced by the “best investigative team” at iFeng, and covered sensitive topics like forced demolition, corruption and sexual harassment. In November, it published an investigative piece about a petitioner who died after being forced into a vehicle and abused for 81 hours. The story was later removed from the channel. ^ top ^

Masked pollution protesters in China held briefly by police (SCMP)
2016-12-13
Police in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu stepped up security amid mounting public complaints about smog, after briefly taking away eight mask-wearing protesters for questioning on Sunday night. The protest came as pollution problems worsen in China, forcing the government to be extremely sensitive about social unrest over environmental issues. The demonstrators were artists staging a brief sit-in after a mass protest over the pollution – planned for the weekend – was pre-empted by police. Police had closed the square where it was to be held. Photographs and posts on social media by the artists' friends and relatives showed that they were taken away from a busy shopping area in Chengdu, Sichuan province, where they had been sitting in a row for about 10 minutes with their masks on. They were taken to a nearby police station and released a few hours later, according to the posts. The city's Tianfu Square, where the mass weekend protest had been planned, was still closed on Monday, with parked police cars and officers preventing people from entering. The capital of Sichuan province has experienced severe smog during the past week, but city authorities have issued only a yellow alert – the lowest in a three-tier system. This led to public suspicions that the authorities were trying to cover up the seriousness of the problem. The smog had cleared up on Monday and a result of growing winds. Chengdu city government said yesterday that it would “wage a war” to tackle the problem of pollution. It also launched a media campaign publicising official pollution-control efforts. University students received notices on their mobile phones banning them from wearing masks or sharing smog-related articles on social media. Many locals blame the Pengzhou petrochemical project, 40km from the centre of Chengdu, for the city's worsening air quality over the past few years. The project triggered widespread criticism during its preparation stage and fierce local protests when construction of the plant began in 2013. Police also detained one man for sharing photos that purportedly showed a huge crowd protesting about the smog, but it was actually taken in 2012, the Global Times reported. There have been protests about industrial projects in mainland cities, but mass demonstrations about smog are rare, even in the hard-hit Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area. ^ top ^

Mystery Communist Party commission 'may expand role in China's national security' (SCMP)
2016-12-11
A little-known commission chaired by President Xi Jinping could be poised to take an even bigger role in state security with the leadership's call for centralised oversight in the area, according to a mainland analyst. The push came amid uncertainties in Beijing's ties with Washington and challenges to cross-strait affairs, an analyst said. It also reflected a lack of trust in the Ministry of State Security, another said. In a meeting on Friday, the Communist Party's Politburo endorsed a directive for a “comprehensive approach to national security”, a phrase first aired by Xi at the Central National Security Commission's initial – and only – meeting, in April 2014, more than a year after the body was founded. The commission's main task was to protect the nation's sovereignty, security and developing interests, the Politburo said, according to Xinhua. Apart from Xi, the other known commission members are two vice-chairmen – Premier Li Keqiang and National People's Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang. Cai Qi was head of its general office until he became acting mayor of Beijing. But no official reports have detailed its structure or composition, aside from saying Xi was the chairman. Li Wei, an anti-terrorism researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, said the commission was still a party organ that lacked the legal footing to be a state body. The directive was aimed at clearing the way for the commission to take up a key role in managing state security. “As the commission for the time being is nothing more than a party organ, the central authority has to seek a legal foundation for it and go through some legal procedures ahead of making it a state organ. That's why the Politburo meeting has underlined the importance of setting up a state security system,” Li said. Li said the Politburo did not want national security to be the result of separate decisions by various ministries overseeing foreign affairs, the military, public security and the economy. He said the Politburo's directive came amid a possible shift in international relations, with Donald Trump about to be sworn in as US president. Trump held a protocol-busting phone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen earlier this month, which Beijing viewed as an affront to the one-China principle. Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said Beijing was not yet satisfied with progress on national security. “Beijing has tried to put many areas under the leadership of the security commission, but the construction and adjustment seem to be still under way,” he said. The push to introduce a more streamlined approach came amid a wider clean-up of the Ministry of State Security, launched when Xi rose to power. “It shows the leadership does not trust the ministry, and they won't until they make sure it's in the full control of their trusted people,” he said. ^ top ^

Xi calls for more thought control on China's campuses (SCMP)
2016-12-10
President Xi Jinping has called for allegiance to the Communist Party from colleges and universities, the latest effort by Beijing to tighten ideological control over education. Universities and colleges would be the “stronghold of the party's leadership”, Xi told the country's top cadres on Thursday, urging increased ideological guidance for post-secondary students. Tertiary educational institutes were responsible for educating the next generation of communist leaders, and they should “firmly uphold the correct political direction”, Xi said at the meeting held in Beijing, which was attended by dozens of senior officials from various central government departments. Xi's remarks are part of an ongoing ideological campaign in academia. A year ago, then minister of education Yuan Guiren declared Western values “not suitable for class”, causing an outcry at home and concern overseas. The two-day meeting on ideological and political work at the mainland's universities and colleges, which concluded yesterday, was attended by academic officials as well as by Xi and three other members of the party's innermost Politburo Standing Committee. Other senior officials outside of education and propaganda departments also attended, underscoring the importance attached to the meeting. The party should “make political education more interesting and focused for students”, Xi said. “Courses of all kinds should be in the same direction as political courses.” The party bosses at several key universities also attended the meeting, and pledged renewed loyalty to the party. Chen Xu, party chief at the prestigious Tsinghua University, was quoted by China Education Daily as saying that instructors' political stances would be made central to their performance evaluations, and that faculty and department party committees would routinely report on the political thoughts of young lecturers. A party official from the Guangdong-based South China Normal University told Xi that it had built a database to track and analyse political opinions of more than 2 million college students in the province. A professor with the Beijing Institute of Technology said that it planned to introduce electronic games to make political education more appealing, and raise the political awareness of its students “subliminally”, the website of People's Daily reported yesterday. Chen Daoyin, a political scientist at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said that Xi's remarks came after years of ineffective political indoctrination of college students, adding that Western theories had long dominated the social sciences. “Almost all [mainland] universities have an institute for Marxism, but they turn out to be very ineffective,” Chen said. “Students mostly find them repellent, and I think Beijing knows it, too.” Colleges were told not to talk about Western ideas, including freedom of speech and the separation of political powers, in 2013, Chen said. “Beijing is trying to make its political ideas genuinely accepted by the students, but I think that can't be forced,” he added. ^ top ^

Salman Rushdie leads World Human Rights Day protest for Chinese writers (SCMP)
2016-12-10
More than 100 authors from around the world signed a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday – Human Rights Day – to urge an immediate end to China's “worsening crackdown” on rights, a global writers group said. Since he came to power in 2012, Xi has overseen a crackdown on dissent, with hundreds of lawyers, activists and academics detained and dozens jailed. His ruling Communist party tolerates no opposition to its rule. Newspapers, websites, and other broadcast and print media are strictly controlled. An army of censors patrols social media and many Western news websites are blocked. “China and the rest of the world can only be enriched by these opinions and voices,” said the letter, organised by the London-based PEN International writers association, which advocates for free speech. “We therefore urge the Chinese authorities to release the writers, journalists, and activists who are languishing in jail or kept under house arrest for the crime of speaking freely and expressing their opinions.” Signed by writers including Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Nobel laureate JM Coetzee, the letter mentioned imprisoned Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo, currently serving an 11-year sentence for “subversion”, and his wife Liu Xia, who remains under house arrest. It also referenced, among others, scholar Ilham Tohti, who is serving a life sentence for “separatism” for his criticism of Beijing's policies towards the mostly Muslim Uygur minority. Over a dozen members or honorary members of the organisation's China-focused chapter, the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, were currently imprisoned or persecuted, it stated. “The enforced silence of these friends and colleagues is deafening, and the disappearance of their voices has left a world worse off for this egregious injustice and loss,” the letter said. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing issues 2016's first red alert for air pollution after forecasting six days of 'severe smog' (SCMP)
2016-12-15
Beijing municipal government has issued this year's first red alert for air pollution on Thursday – effective from Friday evening – after severe smog was forecast to blanket large areas of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, Henan and Shandong provinces in northern China until next Wednesday night. From 8pm on Friday, the owners of private cars will be allowed to drive on Beijing's road only on alternate days – depending on whether the number plate of their vehicles has an odd or even number – which will mean only half the usual number of cars will be in use. Environmental authorities warned the latest period of severe smog lasting six days would be the worst experienced this year and affect more than 20 cities. The red alert is the highest warning level out of the country's four-tier system, which triggers the limits on the use of cars and the temporary shutdown or reduced production at factories. The alert comes as Beijing residents enjoyed clear blue skies on Thursday. Other cities and provinces have yet to issue an air pollution alert, although about a third of Beijing's small particles of pollution causing smog have been found to have been transmitted from nearby regions. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said that the air quality in 74 mainland cities had worsened in November, compared with the same month the year before. The average levels of PM2.5 – the finest pollutant particles, or particulate matter, smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter which can cause the greatest harm to public health – rose 7.4 per cent to 58 micrograms per cubic metre. The average concentrations of PM2.5 rose to 102 micrograms per cubic metre in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area – a sharp increase of 8.5 per cent compared with the year earlier. The World Health Organisation recommends average 24-hour exposure to PM2.5 at 25 or below. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Secret files: untold story of CIA covert operations in Tibet (Global Times/ Sputniknews)
2016-12-15
The publication of the US' secret intelligence documents on the CIA covert operations in Tibet back in 1998 came like a clap of thunder in a clear sky. The declassified memoranda shed light on Washington's interference on China's domestic affairs since the later 1950s and the Dalai Lama's cooperation with the CIA. The controversy sparked recently by US President-elect Donald Trump's tough remarks regarding the "One China" policy and the rumors of his potential meeting with the 14th Dalai Lama has turned the spotlight on the US-China relationship. However, Trump's move has come as no surprise given Washington's long record of covert activities aimed against Beijing. In the end of the 1990s the US State Department declassified and published a set of documents on Washington's foreign policy toward Tibet — the People's Republic of China's autonomous region. Among diplomatic correspondence and reports a curious document was discovered — a secret memorandum written by the US State Department on January 9, 1964 and intended for the Special Activities Division (SAD), CIA. Speaking to Sputnik Chinese, Russian historian and publicist Dmitry Verkhoturov shed light on the forgotten story of the CIA's interference in China's domestic affairs back in the 1960s. Verkhoturov calls attention to the fact that although the memorandum looks like a pretty standard document, the draft budget for the financial support of Tibetan separatists for FY 1964, attached to the memorandum, deserves special attention. At the same time, the draft budget read that the US State Department allocated $180,000 as a subsidy to the 14th Dalai Lama, who lived in exile in India following the Tibetan Uprising of 1959. The publication of the declassified historical documents prompted a great deal of confusion among the Dalai Lama's supporters, discouraged by the fact that their spiritual leader took money from the CIA. "The documents, published last month by the State Department, illustrate the historical background of the situation in Tibet today, in which China continues to accuse the Dalai Lama of being an agent of foreign forces seeking to separate Tibet from China," the media outlet added. To "dispel" the Dalai Lama supporters' doubts, the representatives of the Tibetan leader claimed in an interview with The New York Times on October 2, 1998 that "the subsidy earmarked for the Dalai Lama was spent on setting up offices in Geneva and New York and on international lobbying." However, the devil is in the detail. Verkhoturov emphasizes that the denial was intended for those unfamiliar with the documents and facts. The documents say that in 1963 the CIA allocated considerable funds for the Dalai Lama's entourage in Dharamsala, India, where his residence was located. There were no offices at Geneva and New York at the time. Furthermore, soon the role of the CIA in the 1959 Tibetan Uprising and the formation of the government in exile also surfaced. The US government viewed Tibet as a potential bulwark against China since 1949, when Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong declared the creation of the People's Republic of China (PRC). According to Memorandum for the 303 Committee (1968), the so-called CIA Tibetan program was partially initiated in 1956 "with the cognizance of the Committee, is based on US Government commitments made to the Dalai Lama in 1951 and 1956." The declassified memorandum stated that in September 1958 the 303 Committee approved the "CIA covert support to Tibetan resistance" — just a year before the all-out uprising in the region erupted. According to the publicist, the Dalai Lama's exile opened the door to the CIA's covert program aimed at recruiting and training the Tibetan leader's followers and supporters in reconnaissance operations, sabotage, guerilla tactics, data encoding and radio operator skills. According to some estimates, about 170-240 Tibetans had undergone this special training. Verkhoturov believes that this spy activity could have targeted China's nuclear program and the country's first nuclear tests on October 16, 1964. However, China's Cultural Revolution — a sociopolitical movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 until 1976 — dealt a heavy blow to the Tibetan spy network and eventually brought an end to the espionage activity in the region. As a result, the budget of the CIA's Tibetan program decreased to $1,165,000 in 1968. According to Jonathan Mirsky, a historian of China, the CIA program finally ended with President Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972. Still, in the early 1970s the CIA continued to allocate funds directly to the Dalai Lama, however, the amount of these subsidies remains shrouded in secrecy. ^ top ^

Tibet documents of late U.S. diplomat published (Xinhua)
2016-12-11
A senior U.S. diplomat in China in the early 1900s insisted that Tibet was an integral part of China and should obey the central government. A bilingual edition of William W. Rockhill papers related to Tibet has been published by China Intercontinental Press, the publisher said Sunday. The scholar-diplomat served as the minister of legation of the United States in China, the highest U.S. diplomatic representative to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), from 1905 to 1909. The book has many documents relating to Rockhill and Tibet. In addition to his Tibetan travels and studies, it includes important archives and documents about the 13th Dalai Lama's requesting an audience with Emperor Guangxu, China's penultimate emperor; and Empress Dowager Cixi, Guangxu's aunt, in Beijing in 1908. The book also contains diplomatic telegraphs, letters, minutes of talks, government documents, newspaper clippings, manuscripts and diaries, the publisher said. Rockhill traveled to Tibet twice and was a renowned Tibetologist. He explicitly expressed this view in his correspondence with U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and declared his standpoint to the 13th Dalai Lama on behalf of the U.S. government. The book is in Chinese and English. ^ top ^

Reports: Tibetan sets himself on fire in western China (SCMP)
2016-12-09
A Tibetan man has set himself on fire in western China in what appears to be the latest such radical protest against Beijing's rule, a US government-backed radio station and a rights monitoring group report. The unidentified man set himself alight on a road outside the town of Machu in a traditionally Tibetan area of Gansu province at around 7pm on Thursday, Radio Free Asia and London-based Free Tibet reported. Police arrived shortly after and took the man away and there was no immediate word on his condition, the reports said. A man who answered the phone at a regional police station hung up immediately after the caller asked for information. Calls to other government offices rang unanswered. While information from the isolated area is incomplete, the incident is believed to bring to at least 146 the number of Tibetans who have self-immolated in recent years, about 125 of whom have died, according to monitoring groups. Eyewitnesses have been quoted as saying that many of those who self-immolated cried out for Tibetan independence or prayed for the return of the Dalai Lama. Tibet's Buddhist leader fled Tibet in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against government forces. While Beijing says Tibet has been part of China for more than seven centuries, some Tibetans say they were essentially independent for most of that time. Thursday's self-immolation was the first known to have occurred since either March or May. The protests are seen as an extreme expression of the anger and frustration felt by many Tibetans – both laypeople and members of the Buddhist clergy – living under the heavy-handed rule of Beijing. In a new book on such self-immolations, Tibetan writer and rights activist Tsering Woeser describes them as forming a “broad protest movement that continues to this day”. “Because no other method is available for Tibetans to voice their protests, and because only the horror of self-immolation is able to capture the attention of the world, it has become the choice of the bravest protesters in Tibet,” Woeser wrote in Tibet on Fire: Self-Immolations Against Chinese Rule. The Dalai Lama, who Beijing accuses of seeking independence for Tibet, generally avoids making comments about the self-immolations. But in 2012, he told The Hindu newspaper: “The reality is that if I say something positive, then the Chinese immediately blame me. If I say something negative, then the family members of those people feel very sad.” ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Passports taken, more police... New party boss Chen Quanguo acts to tame Xinjiang with methods used in Tibet (SCMP)
2016-12-12
Just three months after former Tibet party boss Chen Quanguo took up his new post in Xinjiang, the far western frontier is implementing new security and surveillance measures – policies its Tibetan neighbours to the south are only too familiar with. Since October, residents in many parts of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, both the predominantly Muslim Uygurs and the Han, have been told to hand over their passports to local police for safekeeping, according to police notices circulating online and residents' complaints on social media. Those wishing to travel abroad had to first seek permission from the authorities before reclaiming their passports, the notices said. In addition, to strengthen everyday policing, a sprawling net of “convenience police stations” has been built across cities and rural areas, with government websites and official media boasting of their opening. These one- or two-storey concrete structures are stocked with wheelchairs, first aid kits, repair tools, umbrellas and even phone chargers for public use. They also come equipped with surveillance cameras and guards on 24-hour “seamless” patrols and can be quickly turned into checkpoints if needed. Urumqi alone, the built area of which only covers 339 sq km, is expected to have 949 such stations, according to a website affiliated with the city government. With the extra manpower required to staff the new stations, many cities and counties have advertised for auxiliary police officers – often seeking to recruit hundreds at a time. Ordinary families have also been mobilised to help with social and security control. In a small village on the outskirts of Kashgar, China's westernmost city, a “double-linked household management system” recently went into operation. Households were divided into groups of 10 to watch over each other for security and poverty alleviation — hence the “double” in the description. The aim was to foster community supervision of potential security threats, religious extremism and “targeted individuals” on watch lists, as well as providing help and economic support, state-run news site China.com.cn reported. These policies all resemble those enacted in neighbouring Tibet, where Chen ruled for five years before being appointed the party chief of Xinjiang at the end of August. Authorities in the Tibet autonomous region have ordered the recall of all ordinary passports held by residents since 2012, the year after Chen assumed office on the high plateau. In the regional capital Lhasa, 156 convenience police stations were built in recent years, with the closest two only 15 metres apart from each other. Across Tibet, 81,140 units of double-linked households have been formed, covering more than three million residents. Officials in Xinjiang are now actively looking to Tibet for lessons in social management. A team of Xinjiang officials paid a week-long visit to Lhasa and Nyingchi in September to learn about their social management, including the double-linked household system, official media reported. James Leibold, an expert on China's ethnic issues at La Trobe University in Australia, said that, by his count, Chen had pioneered at least six major policy initiatives aimed at maintaining stability in Tibet and was now bringing his methods to Xinjiang. “Chen Quanguo seems to be a real innovator, no doubt that's why he's been rewarded with a post in Xinjiang, which is considered a very difficult post. He's seen as being quite effective,” Leibold said. Chen's two predecessors leapfrogged from the position of Xinjiang party chief to seats in the 25-strong Politburo, the party's second-most-powerful body. The ramping up of security and surveillance in Xinjiang dates back to 2009, when Uygur riots in Urumqi led to the deaths of about 200 people. It had intensified since President Xi Jinping came to power four years ago, but increased even further under Chen, Leibold said. “His predecessor Zhang Chunxian was criticised – although I think largely due to factional infighting – for being soft on security issues. But everybody seems to agree that Chen is an iron-fisted ruler. And it seems like since he came to power he has stuck at that. He's putting his policy initiatives' sole emphasis on security,” Leibold said. Increasing party-state security and control could be quite effective in the short term on a superficial level, Leibold said, pointing to the sharp decline in the number of self immolations and the absence of any major outbreaks of violence in Tibet in recent years. But he warned that deeper penetration of party-state control into the daily lives of residents in frontier regions could also instil resentment in some families and individuals. “What happens when you bottle up resentment and sow the seeds of division in a rapidly changing society? Either people change their behaviour and adapt – I'm sure many people might – or sometimes they strike back, become more radicalised and lash out. Most of the acts of terror that have occurred in the past few years are acts of desperation. Some people have been pushed to extremes; these are their final acts.” Leibold said it would be difficult to predict the outcome of Chen's measures in Xinjiang because a wide range of drivers affect ethnic tension. Economic incentives, in particular, should not be underestimated because, for many families, pragmatism is most important. Some of the security policies come with a carrot-and-stick approach. In the double-linked household system, for instance, families will be appraised annually and those identified as having done a good job will be rewarded. In Tibet, children from “progressive” double-linked families receive 10 extra points on their university entrance exams. This gives them an edge over their peers in the fierce competition for university education, deemed a crucial way – and for many poor families the only way – to improve their livelihoods and economic status. Barry Sautman, an expert on Chinese ethnic politics at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said repressive measures were unlikely to end the ethnic conflict in Xinjiang, but other measures Chen was taking might have more effect. “There are some indications that he has not only these hard policies, but also some soft policies, mainly involving anti-poverty measures,” Sautman said, citing as an example Chen's recent vow to eliminate poverty in Xinjiang by 2020 and raise income levels substantially. The administration of Xi Jinping pledged to eliminate poverty by 2020 in its latest five year plan, and Xinjiang's 2.6 million impoverished residents must be included. Some other soft approaches Chen had adopted included ethnic bonding programmes, Sautman said, in which civil servants – both Uygur and Han – were required to form bonds with ethnic minority families by visiting them regularly and interacting closely with them to gain a better understanding of the Uygur culture. Sautman said the situation in Xinjiang should be viewed in the context of the international situation, where the typical approach of many governments to quell ethnic tension was some combination of hard and soft tactics, as was being done in Xinjiang. “In the case of Xinjiang, there is some attempted balance between repression on one hand and attempts to win over people through various concrete means that involve both economic rewards and an attitude of greater friendliness,” he said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong chief executive hopefuls to face mock public vote ahead of March election (SCMP)
2016-12-16
The co-founder of the Occupy civil-disobedience movement, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, confirmed that a mock public vote on the city's next chief executive will be held ahead of the election in March. The news came on Thursday as New People's Party's Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee resigned from her Executive Council post and declared her bid for the city's top job. Former judge Woo Kwok-hing was the first to declare his intention to run. Meanwhile, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, who resigned earlier this week, is understood to be preparing to join the race while Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said she will reconsider running. Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Norman Chan Tak-lam, seen as a dark horse, on Thursday declined to comment on whether he planned to run. Tai, an academic from the University of Hong Kong and member of the Election Committee, which will select the next Chief Executive in March, said he was working with HKU pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu to establish the mock public vote. The vote will operate similar to the one held prior to the 2012 chief executive election. “In that political climate [in 2012], over 200,000 people voted,” Tai said on RTHK. “Following the umbrella [movement], I believe more people will have an impetus to come out and express their thoughts in the chief executive election.” Tai said they were also discussing a mock civic recommendation exercise, which would gauge the popularity of candidates. He added it would be up to Election Committee members to decide whether they wanted to use the results of the exercise as reference. The exercise, floated by Civic Party's Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, suggested that aspirants canvass in public for general votes. Pan-democratic members of the committee would then automatically nominate an aspirant who can acquire the support of at least 50,000 citizens. Chief executive hopefuls must first secure 150 nominations from the Election Committee before being allowed to run. They need 601 votes to win. In response to the idea of civic recommendation, Woo said he was interested, and aimed to gain sufficient public support to secure the pan-democrats' nomination. “In fact that'll be easier for me than looking around for nominations, because many people I meet in the streets say they back me.” Woo's comments came a day after he announced his election platform, which prioritised political reform. He vowed to broaden the electoral roll of the Election Committee from 250,000 to one million voters, and then to three million over the next two terms of government to cover all eligible voters. But pan-democrats said the plan lacked detail and did not equate to universal suffrage. The pan-democratic camp won an influential 326 out of 1,194 seats on the Election Committee, but has yet to reach a consensus on who to endorse. The camp will meet on Saturday to find common ground. Meanwhile, former lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun, who kept his seat in the Election Committee's commercial (first) subsector in Sunday's election, said Woo did not stand much of a chance as he had been outside of political circles for a decade. “As a judge, your job is to listen to what the plaintiff and defence have to say and make a judgement. You don't have or need a support base … your ability to govern is bound to be quite limited,” Tien said. He added the business sector was inclined to support John Tsang Chun-wah as he was best positioned to heal the divide in society and could communicate with pan-democrats. He said however that Tsang would also have to make clear to pan-democrats, and those more inclined to support welfare-minded Carrie Lam, that he would be prepared to loosen his grip on the purse strings if he became the city's leader. ^ top ^

Forget political reform, let's focus on making people's lives better (SCMP)
2016-12-16
Woo Kwok-hing wants to relaunch political reform if he becomes the next chief executive. Henry Tang Ying-yen, the former chief secretary and loser in the last chief executive race, counsels against it. For once, Tang is right. When there is no prospect of a compromise between two opposing sides, it's time to let sleeping dogs lie. Few people believe Woo, a retired judge and so far the only declared candidate, has a real shot at the top job. His proposal to achieve universal suffrage is a non-starter. He wants 10 years, or two chief executive terms, to achieve a kind of electoral college to include most voters as members. That's too long for the pan-dems and too open for the central government. Still, Woo has served a useful purpose by questioning what to do with democratic reform after the government's failed reform package last year. It's clear that so long as Xi Jinping remains president, the central government will take a hard line towards democratic development in Hong Kong. This means it will not depart significantly from the so-called 831 restrictive framework it has laid down for reform, one that has proved to be completely unacceptable to the pan-dems. We are, therefore, locked in a stalemate. Neither rolling in the tanks for Beijing nor starting a revolution for independence is a real option. Short of an existentially threatening crisis, the status quo, however unpleasant, looks set to continue. It behoves us to make the best of it. So Tang is advising what outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was trying to do until his administration became bogged down in the doomed political reform process in the past two years. That is to focus on the economy and livelihood issues. Leung had tried to delay dealing with the reform for as long as possible. But because the National People's Congress had approved 2017 as a possible date for universal suffrage, he had to introduce a reform package, however flawed. But we don't have to deal with political reform anymore – not for a while anyway. Nor do we have the political talent or leadership from the pan-democratic and establishment camps to address it. Instead I would suggest: rein in the rich, grow the middle class and help the poor. If not all three, two out of three ain't bad. ^ top ^

Inspired by family and determined for success, but Carrie Lam keeps Hong Kong guessing (SCMP)
2016-12-15
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's candidacy for the city's top job remained unknown on Thursday even after she gave a speech in which she praised her family for inspiring her determination for success. The government No.2, a likely strong candidate for the chief executive position, gave the rare insight into her family, but remained tight-lipped on her intentions while speaking at an awards ceremony at the Asia Society Hong Kong Centre in Admiralty, which she was invited to by Hang Lung Properties tycoon Ronnie Chan Chi-chung. “Ronnie just talked about probability, but my mathematician husband always tells me: 'In life, you don't talk about probability, you think about infinity',” Lam told the room full of students. She said mathematics was a hot topic at her family dinner table, as her two sons were also enthusiasts of the subject. It is understood her husband and one of her sons live and work in Beijing. While she admitted she was often “alien” to the conversation, their words inspired her. “Mathematics training can teach rationality, creativity, and determination, which are virtues all dearly cherished by the people of Hong Kong,” she said. “While rationality underpins mutual respect and social harmony, creativity is the driving force behind progress. “Determination keeps us going in times of difficulties. The process of solving a mathematical problem, or any problem in life for that matter can be rough and tough – success only comes to those who persevere and stay in the game until the end. I would say that Hong Kong people have been well-trained in this regard,” she added. Last Saturday, Lam made a U-turn by stating she would “reconsider” running for chief executive in the March election. It came after Leung Chun-ying announced he would not seek a second term due to family reasons. Two factors Lam said she was considering were whether the current government's policies could be continued and whether her family would support her. While she has to yet to publicly announce her decision, Lam has in recent days expressed her differences with potential rival, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah. While Tsang is known to subscribe to the small government principle, Lam in her speeches called for action to “improve the capitalist system”. ^ top ^

Beijing likely to delay approval of Hong Kong finance chief's resignation amid trust issues, says academic (SCMP)
2016-12-14
A mainland legal expert expects Beijing to process Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah's resignation cautiously as it does not have full trust in him. Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University's law school in Beijing, said he did not think the central government would approve the finance chief's resignation quickly, although the chance of deliberate procrastination or disapproval was slim. How long it takes for Beijing to approve Tsang's resignation, which is necessary before he can kick off his campaign for the top job, is seen as the litmus test of Beijing's trust in the official. On Monday, Tsang tendered his resignation but stopped short of confirming whether he would run for the city's top job. It took Beijing two days to approve Henry Tang Ying-yen's resignation in September 2011, and eight days for Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's in 2005. A source familiar with Beijing's handling of previous chief executive elections said it would be a signal of Beijing's reservations about Tsang's bid if it took more than a week to give the green light. “Tsang lacks experience in interacting with the central government on issues like political reform,” Tian said. The mainland academic added that the central government did not have full trust in Tsang because of his history of serving as last colonial governor Chris Patten's private secretary and his many years living in the US. “I believe the central government will spend some time holding discussions with Tsang and even suggesting alternatives for him, such as recommending him for key posts in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank or other international monetary organisations,” Tian said. The bank is a China-led international financial institution created to offer finance for infrastructure projects as part of China's “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Tian considered Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who said on Saturday she would reconsider whether to contest the election, as Beijing's first-choice candidate because of its trust in her and her experience in public administration. “The central government should respect Tsang's right to run in the election. If Tsang doesn't accept other alternatives and is determined to run in the election, the central government should approve his resignation in accordance with procedures,” Tian said. Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-keung, who is acting financial secretary after Tsang went on leave after tendering his resignation, said he and his colleagues would do their best in drafting the budget scheduled to be unveiled in February. Tian said the significant advance made by the pan-democratic camp in Sunday's Election Committee polls may have a bearing on Beijing's handling of Tsang's resignation. The pan-democratic camp grabbed a record 326, –or more than a quarter – of the 1,194 seats on the Election Committee, which will pick the next chief executive in March. Although still a minority, the pan-democrats won enough seats to possibly sway the election result because a chief executive candidate must secure at least 601 votes to win. Another 221 winners in the Election Committee polls, mostly from the business sector, nominated Henry Tang in the 2012 chief executive race. Among the three potential pro-establishment candidates, Tsang is seen as the likeliest to win the backing of the pan-democrats and business sector. “The central government would only want two pro-establishment candidates to join the race to ensure the risks are manageable,” he said. New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, another pro-establishment aspirant, is expected to announce her run on Thursday. Tsang has identified Hopewell Centre in Wan Chai as his election office, but a source familiar with the development said he could not sign the tenancy agreement at this stage as he was awaiting Beijing's approval of his resignation. “The election return form, which declares expenses for the chief executive election, must be signed by the candidate,” the source said in explaining why he cannot yet formally rent an office. ^ top ^

Youngspiration pair's appeal to focus on Hong Kong core values and question Legco independence (SCMP)
2016-12-14
Ousted pro-independence lawmakers at the centre of a political firestorm over improper oath-taking on Wednesday said their final appeal against their disqualification from the legislature would focus on the city's “core values”. After announcing Tuesday they would take their case to the Court of Final Appeal, Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang said their appeal would question the validity of a Beijing interpretation of the Basic Law, the city's separation of power from the mainland, Legco's independence and the legitimacy of elections. They added their case would take into account the possibility of the Court of Final Appeal seeking intervention from Beijing. Yau and Baggio Leung's controversial oaths on October 12 prompted a government legal challenge and later an interpretation of the Basic Law from the National People's Congress Standing Committee, which made improper oath-taking an offence punishable by disqualification. They were disqualified by the Court of First Instance last month and their seats were declared vacant on December 5. The government has since launched similar court challenges against pro-democracy legislators Nathan Law Kwun-chung, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu Chung-yim. Yau said winning the appeal could help “block loopholes the government had created”. “But even if we win the case, the problem has yet to be solved and in the end, we would have to go back to the streets,” she said. But the Youngspiration pair's appeal may still fail to materialise, after they revealed they had only raised HK$440,000 of the HK$1.6 million needed to cover the court's security costs. They have until December 28 to raise the funds, which would ensure their case is heard. Addressing media on Wednesday, the pair were confronted by a handful of protesters, who hurled abuse. “Japanese dog. Betrayer,” the protesters shouted. Police said they had no power to round up protesters. Separately, a retired Hong Kong civil servant known for his legal challenges against the government asked the court to order all Legco lawmakers to retake their oaths in accordance with the form prescribed by the mainland NPCSC to show respect for their country. In a judicial review application filed at the High Court, Cheung Chau resident Kwok Cheuk-kin claimed Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen and secretary general Kenneth Chen Wei-on had failed in their duties to ensure legislators were sworn in properly in October. It was Kwok's third judicial review application concerning Hong Kong's oath-taking saga. On November 21, he claimed lawmakers Lo Wai-kwok and Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee could not be truthful when taking their oath to serve Hong Kong and Beijing. On November 11, he urged the court to declare the oaths of pro-establishment lawmakers Ann Chiang Lai-wan, Abraham Razack and Wong Ting-kwong invalid. ^ top ^

Hong Kong government seeks views on whether rules should be tightened on election opinion polls (SCMP)
2016-12-14
The constitutional affairs bureau is inviting lawmakers' view on whether to tighten the rules on exit and opinion polls for Legislative Council elections, after concerns were raised over whether the surveys were being used “unfairly”. Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai urged the government to handle the matter cautiously, warning that too much control on polls would hinder pro-democracy candidates' election campaigns. In the run-up to the Legco election on September 4, political groups and scholars from both sides of the political divide, including University of Hong Kong law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, monitored the popularity of candidates based on opinion polls and gave advice on how voters should cast their ballots in a strategic manner. After the poll, some high-profile losers blamed Tai's “ThunderGo” programme for misleading and swaying voters through its advice. Pan-democrats also suspected the pro-Beijing camp obtained exit poll results unlawfully before polling closed to help with their campaigns – an accusation denied by Beijing loyalists. In a paper submitted to Legco on Tuesday, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau invited lawmakers' views on three issues concerning the Legco elections – whether to loosen controls on the use of social media, whether to tighten the rules on exit and opinion surveys and whether to introduce a cooling-off period on or before polling day. The bureau said there was now no cooling-off period in Hong Kong because the government did not want to undermine “the atmosphere for the election and the voting desire of electors”, but lawmakers could reconsider the issue given that Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Singapore had such an arrangement. The bureau also asked lawmakers to give their views on whether statements by individuals on the internet and social media should be exempted from being considered as election advertisements. On election surveys, the paper stated that some lawmakers “suggested that the government should review the relevant legislation with a view to curbing the use of election survey results to allocate or canvass votes in an unfair manner during the poll”. Wu said while it was a good idea to introduce a cooling-off period, he was worried that survey rules might be tightened. “The pan-democrats tried to counter the pro-establishment bloc's campaign and mobilise voters by making good use of information obtained from opinion polls,” he said. “But now the bureau is obviously targeting programmes such as 'ThunderGo'.” Bureau officials will discussed the issues in Legco's constitutional affairs panel on the coming Monday. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Japan's casinos unlikely to draw Chinese (Global Times)
2016-12-15
The legalization of Japan's casinos is unlikely to attract too many Chinese mainland tourists, who prefer Macao, a place easier for them to visit, said experts and staff from Macao's gambling industry. Japan's parliament passed a law on Thursday to legalize casinos, ending 15 years of political debate and opening the way for projects that combine high-stakes gambling with hotels, shopping and conference space, Reuters reported. The report said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling party and smaller parties supported the bill to help stimulate the economy and tourism. It's an "unprecedented" move by Abe " to stimulate Japan's economy, Gao Hong, deputy director with the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "But the effect is hard to predict, as making use of such a vicious activity to drive the economy of a country may have opposite effects." The public has been skeptical of the bill, too. According to a survey conducted by the NHK, 44 percent of respondents opposed the bill, with only 12 percent supporting it and 34 percent undecided, The Japan Times reported. For years, Japanese businesses and tax authorities have watched enviously as vast sums have poured into places like Macao and Singapore, which have built sparkling casino resorts catering to international gamblers, especially those from China, The New York Times said on Wednesday. Gao said the move is unlikely to divert Chinese mainland gamblers from Macao to Japan because of the language difficulty, adding that Macao's casinos have become more mature over the years. Echoing Gao, Amanda Lee, an employee from a lottery company from Macao, told the Global Times that "the majority of tourists in Macao come from the Chinese mainland, and it is easier for them to go to Macao than Japan because of the ease of entry." According to data released by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau of the Macao Special Administrative Region, gambling revenues in November alone amounted to 18.8 billion patacas ($2.4 billion). However, Joseph Tung Yao-chung, head of Hong Kong's Travel Industry Council, told the Global Times that the legalization of Japan's casino will attract more Hong Kong visitors. "Japan is Hong Kong people's primary choice for overseas travel," said Tung, explaining that although Macao is relatively closer to Hong Kong, Japan can provide more choices. As few as three casinos could generate nearly $10 billion in net profit annually for Japan, the Daiwa Research Institute estimated, equivalent to 0.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, Reuters reported. Moreover, gaming executives said that casinos will not be in operation until 2022-23 at the earliest. Fresh legislation is needed within a year to set out details on regulation, tax rates and dealing with social ills such as gambling addiction and organized crime. ^ top ^

Philippine officials accused of extorting 'fugitive' gaming tycoon Jack Lam Yin-lok (SCMP)
2016-12-14
In a new twist to the intrigue surrounding Jack Lam Yin-lok, the “fugitive” Macau gaming tycoon has apparently gone from accused graft perpetrator to victim of an extortion plot involving senior members of the Philippine immigration service. More than two weeks after Lam, chairman of Hong Kong-listed company Jimei International, left the Philippines and President Rodrigo Duterte issued a warrant for his arrest, it emerged that the country's Bureau of Immigration opened an investigation into two of its own officials. Bureau deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles have been accused of extorting 50 million pesos out of Lam to secure the release of hundreds of Chinese nationals who were arrested for working illegally for an online gaming operation at one of the tycoon's casino resorts. Yesterday, however, the two officials called a press conference in Manila and claimed the were being set up. They displayed bundles of cash they said was seized as part of a sting operation and was to be used to substantiate bribery allegations against Lam and others at a later date. The latest developments – widely reported in the Philippine media – came just days after Duterte said Lam could return if he paid back taxes and renegotiated his contract to run casino resorts in the country. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Lam – one of the biggest casino junket operators in Macau – on November 29, five days after he left the country for an unknown destination. His Philippine casino operations have been shut down pending the conclusion of various investigations now under way. Tough-talking Duterte said people close to Lam had approached him earlier this week to put out “feelers'' over his return. Philippine media reported that Duterte would consider a jail-free return if Lam paid back taxes and agreed to renegotiate his contract with the government-owned Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation. Under the contract, which Lam was granted by Duterte's predecessor, the casino owner was reportedly granted a very lenient 1 per cent tax rate, well below the 10 per cent rate imposed on other operators. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Beijing says interference with one-China principle would 'seriously' impact on peace (SCMP)
2016-12-14
China's Taiwan Affairs Office said on Wednesday that any interference with or damage to the one-China principle would have a serious impact on peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. US president-elect Donald Trump said on Sunday the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of “one China”, further upsetting Beijing which was already angered by Trump's earlier telephone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. The issue is highly sensitive for Beijing, which considers Taiwan a renegade province, and expressed “serious concern” about Trump's remarks. An Fengshan, a spokesman for the mainland's policymaking Taiwan Affairs Office, told a regular news conference that the Taiwan issue was about China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. “Upholding the one-China principle is the political basis of developing China-US relations, and is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he said. “If this basis is interfered with or damaged then the healthy, stable development of China-US relations is out of the question, and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait will be seriously impacted,” An added. Beijing is deeply suspicious of Tsai and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party, believing they want to push for the island's formal independence, a red line for Beijing. It has repeatedly warned that the hard-won peace and stability across the narrow strait that separates them could be affected by any moves towards independence. “I think the facts tell these people that Taiwan independence is a dead end,” An said. ^ top ^

Trump and Taiwan: is the president-elect a blessing or a curse? (SCMP)
2016-12-14
Lawmakers from Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party are torn over the possibility of the US abandoning the one-China policy, seeing in it both an opportunity to develop global ties and the risk of a backlash from Beijing. But observers warn that the government of President Tsai Ing-wen must beware of becoming the bargaining chip of incoming US president Donald Trump. Trump sent shockwaves through the US and on both sides of the Taiwan Strait by saying on Sunday that he didn't know why Washington had to adhere to the one-China policy. Legislator Tsai Shih-ying of the independence-leaning DPP said Taiwan should not have been constrained by the one-China policy from developing more substantive ties with the United States. “Over the years, many countries have used the one-China policy to deal with Taiwan, and what Trump said could represent a chance for us to get rid of this spell,” he said, adding that this could help Taiwan develop more ties with other countries. However, Shen Fu-hsiung, a former DPP legislator who is now a political commentator, said Trump appeared to be using the self-ruled island as a bargaining chip in order to try to get concessions from Beijing. “But for the mainland side to concede, such a possibility is slim,” he said, adding that Tsai would be wise to create some goodwill in Beijing to help defuse the current situation. “On the one hand, she should say thanks for the support from America, and on the other hand she should firmly say that cross-strait issues must be peacefully resolved by the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,” he said. Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province, and has warned other countries against forging ties with the island. Trump first increased cross-strait tensions earlier this month by having a phone conversation with Tsai that broke four decades of US diplomatic decorum. Tang Shao-cheng, a specialist in cross-strait relations from National Chengchi University in Taipei, said Taiwan was at risk of being hurt by a tough gesture from the mainland. “Tsai is going to visit Central America next month, and it remains to be seen if Beijing will boost its efforts to establish ties with nations that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan,” he said. “If the mainland reduced imports from Taiwan, the livelihood of Taiwan would be significantly affected.” Philip Yang, head of the Taipei-based Association of International Relations, noted that although Trump said he fully understood the one-China policy, he actually did not see its essence – that it is the only principle under which Beijing will have any dealings that involve Taiwan. Yang said other Asian nations were closely watching the development of the issue, because a serious dispute between Washington and Beijing would create regional instability. However, Zhao Hong, a senior visiting fellow who specialises in Southeast Asian studies at Singapore's ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, said that countries in the region were not as worried about a worsening of relations between Taipei and Beijing. “It seems Southeast Asian countries do not worry about it. Taiwan is an extremely sensitive topic for Beijing, and it is one of China's core interests,” Zhao said. “Even if Southeast Asian countries were used by Trump as a bargaining chip when negotiating with Beijing, the stakes would not be as high as a Taiwan chip.” ^ top ^

Taipei keeps quiet about Trump's one-China remarks (SCMP)
2016-12-13
A cautious Taiwanese government on Monday declined to comment on the politically explosive question by US president-elect Donald Trump about why Washington had to be bound by the one-China policy. Both the Presidential Office and the foreign ministry in Taiwan were tight-lipped about Trump's remarks. The Mainland Affairs Council, which is responsible for cross-strait affairs, simply reiterated the stance of the administration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen that cross-strait and US-Taiwan ties are equally important. Trump's questioning, made on Sunday, sent political shock waves through the US and Taiwan, with the comments coming soon after he broke decades of diplomatic decorum by having a phone conversation with Tsai. Media in Taiwan reported prominently about Trump's remarks, saying that they could put Taiwan in a dangerous position between two feuding great powers. Lawmakers in both the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party and the main opposition Kuomintang remained relatively cautious. “What Trump said could be a knife with two sharp blades,” said Lo Chih-cheng, a DPP legislator and the director of its international affairs. “For Trump, he could either accept the one-China policy or not, strictly depending on what he wants from Beijing.” KMT legislator Johnny Chiang said Trump was taking a “strictly business” approach. “He is using all the bargaining chips he has in an attempt to force the other side to talk about certain issues he wants to talk about,” Chiang said. He added that in the short term, Taiwan might feel its importance had been increased, but that the island would eventually be hurt by the ensuing political and economic bargaining between Washington and Beijing. However, Hsu Yung-ming, a legislator for the pro-independence New Power Party, said it was time for the Tsai government to decide if it should stick to its policy of maintaining the cross-strait status quo. “The government should see this as a challenge and a new opportunity,” said Hsu, a former political science professor. He said that with cross-strait ties deadlocked, the Tsai government should evaluate whether Trump means what he has hinted at – that he was ready to change the US relationship with Taiwan. Tsai says she wants to maintain the cross-strait status quo, but has refused to formally accept the one-China principle that Beijing insists is the sole political basis for the two sides to continue exchanges and talks. Tsai Ming-yen, a professor of international politics at National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan, said it remained to be seen whether Trump really wanted to change US policy towards the mainland or Taiwan. “Before he is inaugurated on January 20, Trump is still a private citizen and can comment on what he wants,” the academic said. “But the Tsai government must take note of his using the Taiwan issue as a bargaining chip.” He said the government also needed to consider the possibility that Beijing might put further pressure on Taiwan because of Trump's actions. ^ top ^

Taiwan reports China air force conducting long-range military exercises in nearby waters (SCMP)
2016-12-11
Chinese military aircraft flew over waterways near Taiwan on Saturday as part of long-range exercises, Taiwan said, the first such flights since a telephone call between Taiwan's leader and US president-elect Donald Trump irked China. China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own and has never renounced the use of force to take back what it deems a wayward province. Trump's call with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen on December 2 was the first between a US president-elect or president and a Taiwan leader since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition to China from Taiwan in 1979. China lodged a diplomatic protest over the call and blamed Taiwan for what it called a “petty” move. But there was no indication the exercise by its military aircraft was a response to the telephone call. The Chinese jets flew north to south and entered the Miyako Strait around Japan's southern islands as well as the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan, but did not enter Taiwan's air defence identification zone, Taiwan's defence ministry said in a statement. Japan sent out two of its fighter jets in response to the Chinese flight, China's defence ministry said. The two Japanese F-15 fighter jets flew over the Miyako Strait and conducted “close range interference” and fired decoy flares, “jeopardising the security of Chinese aircraft and pilots”, ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said in a statement on his ministry's website. Yang said China had grave concerns and lodged a protest over the behaviour of the Japanese aircraft during what he called “routine” drills in international waters. “The behaviour of the Japanese military aircraft was dangerous, unprofessional and damaged freedom of navigation and overflight under international law,” he said. “Our jet fighters did not obstruct the flight of the Chinese planes. Nothing extraordinary happened,” a spokesman for Japan's Self-Defence Force said on Saturday. China's drills, lasting for about four hours, involved more than 10 aircraft, including four electronic surveillance planes that flew through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines, Taiwan said. China, which has in recent years become more assertive in the western Pacific and South China Sea, has carried out similar exercises in the area since September. The Chinese air force has described the exercises as part of regular, annual drills which accord with international law and practice. ^ top ^

Second-class citizen? Taiwanese lawyer feels the island's people get little respect in mainland China (SCMP)
2016-12-10
Chen Ming-Tsung, 39, was born in Miaoli county in Taiwan and came to the mainland in 2005. Trained in Taiwanese and mainland law, Chen worked for a Taiwanese manufacturer in southern China and later taught at a university in Nanjing. He is ambivalent about his time on the mainland – while he loves the dynamic atmosphere he also feels that Taiwanese like himself are viewed as second-class citizens. After failing to obtain funding for a research project, Chen returned to Taiwan while he waits for another job opportunity to arise on the mainland. When did you move to the mainland? At the time I worked for Well Shin Technology, which makes electrical power cords and cables. In 2005, they stationed me as a legal adviser in Dongguan [an industrial city in Guangdong province where many Taiwanese businesses are located]. Before coming to the mainland, all I really wanted was a stable career in Taiwan. But by then the relatively developed eastern coastal area was full of people from the inland who had flocked to the cities to seek their fortune. The situation was very similar to Taiwan in the 1980s when everyone was working overtime almost every day. How was your first job there? I worked at Well Shin until 2007. At the time, the mainland legal system was far from perfect. It was not a place ruled by law. Some companies did not sign contracts with their employees and their regulations were incomplete. So there were lots of labour disputes. One time, a security guard at Well Shin beat an employee so badly that the victim was left in a vegetative state. The company had not signed a contract with him, so he was uninsured. His uncle petitioned on his behalf and Well Shin spent almost three years reaching a settlement. Because of my profession, I had to deal with my company's mainland managers, local officials and other legal specialists. But they often questioned my ability, asking, “Do you understand Chinese law?” or, “Can you solve legal problems in China?” It sounded to me like humiliation. I have a law degree from Taiwan but I got no respect. I was trained to solve all kinds of legal issues, and even if I did not have enough knowledge of Chinese law at the time, I was able to pick it up very quickly. What's the difference between mainland and Taiwanese law? Compared with Taiwan's legal system, the mainland still has much room to improve, especially in public and procedural law. But business and labour laws on the mainland are nowmore advanced than those in Taiwan, maybe because the mainland economy is much more developed than Taiwan at present. Why did you go on to pursue a law degree on the mainland? Because I planned to pursue a longer career on the mainland. I studied law at Soochow University in Jiangsu and earned my Juris Doctor degree in 2013. After graduating, I became an associate professor at Nanjing University of Technology. During those three years, I felt the atmosphere at mainland universities was conservative and the activities were not very lively. How was university teaching? I originally thought the university might be a freer environment but it turned out to be quite different. Beijing always says it welcomes Taiwanese to work in China, but the manner in which even trivial matters are handled makes us feel the opposite. I somehow always feel that Taiwanese are not welcome in China, and we encounter all kinds of obstructions. For example, I could not publish academic articles or apply for research funds simply because I was Taiwanese. in 2015, I applied to conduct research on marriages between Taiwanese and mainlanders, and the problems they encounter, but failed – to my surprise, the research topic was given to another mainland teacher. I originally thought I would surely succeed because I'm from Taiwan and know cross-strait issues far better than other mainland teachers. But that rejection made me wonder if my Taiwanese identity made the authorities think I was not politically correct enough to do this research topic. What's more, my academic articles published in Taiwan journals were not recognised by my university, which put me in an inferior position when competing with other professors. We Taiwanese are treated as foreigners on the mainland. So I could only have a basic salary but couldn't enjoy welfare benefits offered to mainland teachers such as housing allowances and retirement insurance. What's your attitude towards mainlanders in general? Compared to Taiwanese, I feel mainlanders are inhibited. When I ask for directions in a new city, most people just walk away before I finish my question. Others might offer an answer, but it turns out to be incorrect. Maybe such reactions are a kind of self-protection, but it makes me feel that people in that city are unfriendly. Most Taiwanese, however, will give you proper directions or even show you the way themselves. Have you considered becoming a mainland citizen? I haven't really thought about it but I think it's very difficult for Taiwanese to completely integrate into mainland society, even though we speak the same language and share the same cultural traditions. Beijing says repeatedly that people on both sides of the strait belong to one family, but we are not treated as equals – for example, we are not allowed to join the Chinese Communist Party despite our qualifications. I'm open to having a mainland girlfriend but there are not so many differences between being a Taiwan citizen or a mainland citizen, at least for me. And being a Taiwan citizen does have some advantages – for example, many more countries are visa-free for Taiwanese than for mainlanders. Would you return to the mainland again for work? Sure. I like to work on the mainland, because I think it's more suitable for developing a career. Taiwan is a place for older people. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Why is China so afraid of US Fed's interest rate increase? (SCMP)
2016-12-15
Chinese authorities are putting on a brave face about possible interest rate increase by the US Federal Reserve on Wednesday, but it is probably the worst-kept secret in Beijing that the nation's policymakers are anxiously watching the fallout from the Fed's much anticipated decision. The Fed is tipped to raise interest rates at the end of its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. Beijing has a good reason to be nervous because of happened to China after the Fed's last interest rate rise on December 16, 2015 – its first increase for nine years – even though it can be argued that the Fed's 0.25 per cent rise was not the only reason for what happened next... 1. Yuan depreciation against US dollar deepened The Chinese yuan's depreciation against the US dollar noticeably accelerated after the Fed rate rise, even though the depreciation process had started as early as 2014 – in tandem with talks by Fed officials about the possibility of the US central bank tapering, or gradually reducing, its securities purchases. While China's own missteps – including the surprising devaluation of the yuan by nearly 2 per cent in August 2015 – also contributed to renminbi weakening, the Fed's December 16 rate rise clearly worsened China's capital flight and quickened the pace of the yuan's depreciation. The fall of yuan against the dollar on the offshore market was faster than on the onshore market, forcing Beijing to act to squeeze liquidity in the offshore yuan market. The yuan has depreciated about 6 per cent against the US dollar since the last Fed rate move. 2. China forex reserves shrank quickly China's foreign exchange reserves dropped by a record high of US$107.9 billion in December 2015 when the Fed raised US interest rates. The reserves dropped by another US$99.4 billion in January 2016. The depletion of China's reserves slowed in the spring and summer, partly because the Fed had held the dollar policy rate unchanged and also because Beijing worked hard to sooth concerns about the country's economic and financial health. But the fall in China's reserves has been gaining speed again in recent weeks. The fall in reserves in November was the largest single monthly fall since January. 3. China's stock market plunged In the trading days after last December's Fed rate rise, China's stock market kept falling despite Beijing's efforts to support stock prices with public funds. The stock price fall was so bad that it prompted the China Securities Regulatory Commission – the stock market watchdog already under heavy pressure after a summer rout of stocks – to hastily launch a circuit breaker mechanism after the New Year. The new mechanism triggered massive sell-offs and Beijing had to withdraw it after only four days of operation. Xiao Gang, the CSRC chairman, then stepped down. The Shanghai stock market benchmark index lost about 25 per cent of its value in the six weeks following the Fed's rate rise. Up to now the index still remains 10 per cent lower than its level when the Fed decided to act. 4. Beijing started to reverse capital account opening process Over the past year the Chinese government has tightened controls over capital outflows, making it more difficult for mainland companies to obtain foreign exchange. According to unpublished rules seen by the South China Morning Post, China has also enhanced its regulatory examination of outbound remittances and halted approval for large overseas investment deals. The yuan's ambition to become a global currency has met some setbacks as offshore yuan markets have become smaller and less active, and the desire to use yuan in trade payments and settlements has weakened. ^ top ^

Communist Party mouthpiece quotes China Daily as 'foreign media' to reassure public over slowing economy (SCMP)
2016-12-14
Just how far will the Communist Party's propaganda machine go to reassure its people that the Chinese economy is heading towards a glorious future, despite losing growth momentum? Using its mouthpiece to quote another official state media as “foreign media” to back the economy seems to be a new yardstick. Wednesday's front page of the top party mouthpiece People's Daily quoted “foreign media” to help boost confidence in the “new normal” of China's slower economic growth, but the line was actually taken from the China Daily, an official English-language state-run newspaper. The quoted line said: “Unlike the so-called new normal of jobless recovery in many Western countries after the 2008 global financial crisis, Chinese policymakers have adopted the phrase to define a crucial development stage toward the fulfilment of the country's two centennial goals: building a moderately well-off society by 2021 and becoming a fully developed nation by 2049.” Whether the words “foreign media” were used to deliberately cover up the source, or simply an editorial accident are not known. The People's Daily article, a long piece hailing the “new status, new position and new stage” of its economy, attributed the line to an unidentified “foreign media”. Yet the line was translated word-for-word from a China Daily report in English, published under the “China Watch” section on the website of British newspaper The Daily Telegraph in April 2015. On the webpage, a declaration in capital letters, high above the article's headline, said: “This content is produced and published by China Daily, People's Republic of China, which takes sole responsibility for its contents.” The section is part of Beijing's global soft power push to insert or even embed propaganda materials into foreign publications via various cooperation and partnership deals. The China Watch supplement is a sponsorship deal that allows the Telegraph to carry articles from China Daily in its newspaper and also online, according to The Guardian newspaper in Britain. It is also circulated with The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal in the United States, The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, Le Figaro in France and several other newspapers around the world, according to a China Watch article. In a bid to improve its international image, China has aggressively beefed up propaganda abroad and invested heavily in the state media's foreign-language divisions, which target foreign readers and audiences. Apart from the Telegraph's cooperation with the China Daily, British news website Mail Online has teamed up with the People's Daily, swapping up to 40 stories a week, the Guardian reported. The Communist Party has long had a love-hate relationship with Western media. It blames Western media for misrepresenting China and giving the country a negative, distorted image overseas. Most foreign media websites are blocked in China. ^ top ^

Ethnic regions see economic growth (China Daily)
2016-12-14
Economic growth in regions inhabited by ethnic groups in China has been faster than the rest of the country in the past few years, but poverty alleviation remains a long-term challenge, according to a report released on Tuesday. The gross domestic product growth rate of the country's five ethnic autonomous regions - Xinjiang Uygur, Tibet, Ningxia Hui, Inner Mongolia and Guangxi Zhuang - and of the three provinces inhabited by many ethnic groups - Yunnan, Guizhou and Qinghai - was above the national average in 2015, which was 6.9 percent. However, the GDP per capita in these areas is still quite low. Such levels in all these provinces and regions, except Inner Mongolia, is below the national average, according to the 2016 Annual Report on Development of Ethnic Minorities in China by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Of all 592 national-level target counties for poverty alleviation, 263, or 44.4 percent, are in ethnic autonomous areas. Poverty stricken residents account for 12.1 percent of the rural population in these eight provinces and regions, well above the national average, which is 5.7 percent. "With the nation's economic growth slowing down, poverty alleviation in ethnic areas remains a challenge and is crucial for the development of the regions in the long run," said Wang Yanzhong, chief editor of the report and director of CASS' Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology. While the national average illiteracy rate of those older than 15 was 7.4 percent in 2014, the rate in ethnic areas was higher. Tibet had the highest illiteracy rate - almost 40 percent - with the rate for the female population in the region hitting 48 percent, it said. By 2014, the central government had invested more than 1.4 billion yuan ($202 million) in the development of villages with ethnic features, protecting ethnic culture while fostering industries promoting local specialties, the report said. However, some village buildings have been reconstructed under a unified style to attract tourists, losing their original value, it said. It added that a small population is a challenge that many ethnic groups face in inheriting and promoting intangible cultural heritage. ^ top ^

China gives itself an 'A' on economic report card (SCMP)
2016-12-13
The central government has met nearly all of its self-appointed economic “key performance indicators” for 2016, ranging from the headline gross domestic product growth rate to reductions in steel and coal capacity. But congratulations, if any, are muted. The indicators showed stability and improvement – economic growth stood at 6.7 per cent for the first, second and third quarters, ensuring Beijing will achieve minimum full-year growth of 6.5 per cent. Meanwhile, deflation in producer prices that had persisted for more than four years ended in September, while the traditional growth engines of industrial production, investment and exports were back to comfortable levels. Beijing has declared victory on other tasks. Xu Kunlin, a senior official at the National Development and Reform Commission, told state television that Beijing had reached its targets of phasing out 45 million tonnes of steel production capacity and 250 million tonnes of coal capacity “ahead of schedule”. ' Shi Yaobin, a vice-finance minister, claimed the country was on track to reduce the tax burden for businesses by at least 500 billion yuan (HK$560 billion) in 2016 through value-added tax reform. Investors, however, are pulling money out of China as pressure continues to mount on the yuan to weaken. The benchmark stock market index is still below the level at the start of the year, after investor confidence was shattered by a sharp fall in the summer. “Stability is a big policy consideration as China will face many risks next year” such as continuous capital outflows following a likely US Federal Reserve rate increase, said Zhao Yang, chief China economist at Nomura. The central bank would face a harder balancing act in 2017 as it pursued a slew of different, sometimes conflicting, economic objectives, Zhao said. “The central bank will face complicated challenges – it needs to stabilise growth, curb property asset bubbles, prevent the yuan from depreciating sharply while keeping a lid on capital outflows,” Zhao said. “Some of these goals conflict with each other.” It is in this economic context that the leadership, headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang will enter the final year of their first five-year term. They are expected to convene top cadres at the annual economic work conference this week to chart out economic policy directions for 2017. Meanwhile, the statistics agency is scheduled to release industrial production, investment and consumption data for November, which are likely to point to a stabilisation in the economy. However, any recovery could be short-lived. “China has been maintaining a modest stimulus policy mode, and there's no real improvement in economic structure,” said Steven Zhang, chief economist at Morgan Stanley Huaxin Securities. “China is still relying on real estate investment and infrastructure spending to drive growth. “Growth will again face downward pressure starting from the second quarter next year,” he said. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

China suspends North Korean coal imports for three weeks in line with UN sanctions (SCMP)
2016-12-11
China announced on Saturday that it was suspending coal imports from North Korea for three weeks, in line with the latest United Nations sanctions against the hermit state. “After the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2321... China is suspending North Korean coal imports,” the government said in a statement. The three-week suspension starts on Sunday and ends on December 31, according to the statement. The Security Council passed the resolution on the international sanctions against Pyongyang on November 30 in the wake of the North's September 9 nuclear test. It limits North Korea's coal exports next year to 7.5 million tonnes, or just over US$400 million, down 62 per cent on 2015. The cap represents a fraction of the North's current annual exports to China, the isolated country's sole ally and its main provider of trade and aid. China imported 1.8 million tonnes of coal worth US$101 million from North Korea in October alone, according to the most recent figures available on the Chinese Customs website. The volume was up nearly 40 per cent year-on-year. Under previous sanctions, the Security Council authorised the purchase of coal from North Korea provided revenues were not used to finance Pyongyang's nuclear programme. However, the UN did not specify any assessment criteria, which allowed Beijing to increase its imports considerably while saying it was acting in good faith. Between March and October, 24.8 million tonnes of coal was imported, three times the annual limit now allowed by the UN. Although Beijing has traditionally protected Pyongyang diplomatically, believing that Kim Jong-un's regime is preferable to its collapse, it has grown frustrated by its neighbour's defiance. Last week, China's chief negotiator on Pyongyang's nuclear programme, Wu Dawei, said China remained opposed to unilateral sanctions against North Korea taken without the approval of the UN Security Council. Wu said in a meeting with South Korean officials on Friday that the six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear programmes that had been stalled since 2009 should be resumed. The talks involved North and South Korea, China, the United States, Japan and Russia. “The Chinese side opposes the imposition of sanctions taken outside the framework of the Security Council resolution 2321,” Wu was quoted as saying by the foreign ministry. China also demands that South Korea “give weight to China's concerns” about the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile system, which is intended to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, Wu said, according to the ministry. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Cabinet reviews diplomatic affairs and economic development projects (The UB Post)
2016-12-16
During Cabinet's weekly Wednesday meeting, its ministers discussed the closure and opening of diplomatic missions, agriculture programs, traffic regulations, and establishing a petroleum refinery. Cabinet members approved Parliament's resolution to close the Mongolian embassies in Brazil and Indonesia; the general consulate in Osaka, Japan; and the consular office in Hulunbuir, China. A final review of the closure of the diplomatic missions will be discussed in Parliament. During the meeting, Foreign Affairs Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil stated that there are 27 Mongolian citizens living in Brazil and 25 Mongolians living in Indonesia. Foreign trade of two million USD takes place between Mongolia and Brazil, and trade of 12 million USD takes place between Mongolia and Indonesia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is putting forward the proposal to close the embassies as part of the government's spending cuts. Cabinet members also approved a proposal to transition Mongolia's general consulate in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to an embassy; to open a new consular office in Shanghai, China, relocating Hulunbuir's consular staff; to extend the three-year missions for Mongolian diplomats working abroad to four-year missions; and to review the salary structure for diplomats working abroad once every three years. Prime Minister J.Erdenebat instructed the ministers to prepare a draft on making the Khalkh Gol region an environmentally friendly, export promoting, intensive agricultural zone. Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry P.Sergelen has been instructed to repeal orders concerning illegal land granting issues in the proposed Khalkh Gol trade zone that are currently under legislative review. Amendments to the Traffic Code were reviewed by Cabinet, and the ministers agreed to revisit a section stating that an individual who is found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol without a valid driver's license will be fined 384,000 MNT to 768,000 MNT and required to serve a seven to 30-day prison sentence. The Prime Minister instructed state authorities to improve and expedite the implementation of foreign loans and aid. The 2017 state budget outlines 117 projects and programs being funded by over 857 billion MNT in foreign loans and aid. Cabinet approved kicking off projects and programs with feasibility studies and blueprints completed, focusing on effectively implementing projects and monitoring their progress. Prime Minister J.Erdenebat instructed the Minister of Finance and other ministers to negotiate with Export-Import Bank of India to finance the establishment of a petroleum refining factory funded by the one billion USD loan facility being offered by India to Mongolia. According to preliminary studies, after the factory is completed, net income of 43 million USD per year is expected to be generated to recoup investment expenditure in eight to ten years. ^ top ^

Speaker of Parliament M.Enkhbold on a working visit to Russia (The UB Post)
2016-12-16
Speaker of Parliament and Chairman of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) M.Enkhbold is paying a working visit to Russia from December 14 to 16. Chairman of the Supreme Council of the United Russia Political Party (URP) Boris Vyacheslavovich Gryzlov received Chairman M.Enkhbold to discuss cooperation between their two parties. Chairman Gryzlov pointed out that the URP and MPP should focus on implementing over 30 projects in roads, transport, energy, and communications under the program to establish an economic corridor between Mongolia, Russia, and China. He also noted that trade turnover between the two countries has to increase, despite being six times greater than it was in 2000. Speaker M.Enkhbold said that collaboration between the two parties is of great importance to taking legislative and economic cooperation to a greater level and for taking advantage of the opportunities Mongolia and Russia have for economic growth. At the end of their meeting, M.Enkhbold and Gryzlov signed a cooperation document on behalf of their parties. Speaker M.Enkhbold also visited Moscow Power Engineering Institute (MPEI), and he presented Rector of the MPEI Nikolay Rogalev with the Order of the Polar Star, one of Mongolia's highest state honors. The Order of the Polar Star was bestowed by President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj to honor Rogalev for his work to enable over 300 Mongolian energy sector specialists to study at MPEI. During the Speaker's visit, CEO of Development Bank of Mongolia B.Batbayar and Andrei Ivanov of Russia's Sberbank signed a memorandum of understanding to pursue Sberbank's investment in economic and trade projects being carried out between the two countries. During his visit to Moscow, Speaker M.Enkhbold will met with Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Volodin and Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia Valentina Matviyenko to exchange views on relations and cooperation between the two countries. ^ top ^

Housing Price Index for old apartments drops by 7.8 percent (gogo Mongolia)
2016-12-16
Following is the public report on results of the “Housing Price Index” (HPI) research conducted independently by Tenkhleg Zuuch LLC at the request of Mongol Bank for November 2016. The research shows that the general index of housing price was at 0.8 percent in November 2016. It shows a decline by 0.3 percent compared to the previous month. The general index dropped by 4.4% compared to the starting period, and by 5.5 % compared to the same month in previous year. Below are the Price index indicators classified by new and old houses. The new house price index was at 15.7 percent. There is no change compared to the previous month. The index dropped by 2.8% compared to an earlier period of this year, and by 3.3% compared to the same month in previous year. The old house price index was at 8.1 percent. This shows a decline by 0.8 percent compared to the previous month. The index dropped by 6.7% compared to the earlier period of this year, and by 7.8 % compared to the same month in previous year. HPI was calculated by applying Hedonic regression methods and the calculation was based on the information available for 4938 old and new houses supplied for sale at the real estate market of Ulaanbaatar for the particular month, reports the Bank of Mongolia. ^ top ^

Indian loan will be funded to oil refinery (gogo Mongolia)
2016-12-15
Within the framework of general loan agreement between Mongolian government and Export-Import bank of Republic of India for the issuance of US$ 1 billion loan, oil refinery will be built in Sainshand soum of Dornogobi aimag, Mongolia. Total investment of the project is US$ 1 billion, of which •US$ 0.7 billion for oil refinary, •US$ 264 million for oil pipelins. The oil refinary is projected to earn net profit of US$ 43 million annually from its annual sales of US$ 1.2 billion and planned to recover its investment in 8-10 years. The oil refinery will process US$ 1.5 million oil annually and produce 560 thousand tons of gasoline, 670 tons of diesel fuel,107 thousand tons of liquefied petroleum gas and other products that meet the standards of Euro 4, 5. After establishment of the oil refinery, oil product import will be decreased by US$ 1 billion and currency outflow decreases by 20 percent, and the dollar by 18-25. GDP is expected to be risen by 10 percent while processing industry to be doubled. ^ top ^

Cabinet backs re-forming internal troops (Montsame)
2016-12-15
The Law on Internal Troops, adopted in 1995, was repealed on January 16, 2014. With this, the functions of the internal troops were transferred to the police force. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Justice and Domestic Affairs claims that it is indispesanble to re-form the internal troops with a compact structure and contingent and to ensure its self-sufficiency. A draft law on internal troops were worked in consideration of the fact that the special functions of the internal troops are required for protection of state and public properties of particular importance, settle public chaos when necessary, protection of citizens and state properties in times of civil disorders, conducting of special operations against terror attack, and enforcement of quarantines during the natural calamities, disasters, wildfires and outbreaks of epidemic diseases of humans and animals. The internal forces will be able to utilize kangaroo carriers, all-terrain vehicles, other vehicles equipped with special instruments and weapons, according to the bill. ^ top ^

Fire units to be set up in some soums (Montsame)
2016-12-15
At its regular meeting on Wednesday, the cabinet decided to establish fire units in Khalkh Gol soum of Dornod province, and in Gurvan tes and Khanbogd soums of Omnogobi aimag in consideration of high risk of fires. Also, a rescue team will be formed in Tumentsogt soum of Sukhbaatar province. Preparation works will be provided in 2017 to launch the units in 2018. ^ top ^

Development Bank of Mongolia and Sberbank of Russia sign MoU (Montsame)
2016-12-15
On the sidelines of his official visit to the Russian Federation, Speaker M.Enkhbold handed Mongolian State Order – the Polar Star – to the leaders of the Moscow Power Engineering Institute on December 14. The Russian institute has been awarded with the Polar Star order pursuant to a decree of the Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj, in recognition of its valuable contribution to training professional cadres for the Mongolian energy sector. More than 300 Mongolians have graduated from the MPEI, some 20 of whom defended academic degrees and 150 received postgraduate training. For this reason, the Polar Star order is being bestowed for the MPEI on occasion of the 95th jubilee of establishing diplomatic ties with Russia, explained Mr Enkhbold. On the same day, the Development Bank of Mongolia and the SberBank of Russia inked a Memorandum of Understanding. The document was signed by B.Batbayar, the DB director, and A.Ivanov, Director of SberBank. The Chairman of the State Great Khural, Mr M.Enkhbold is to meet V.A.Vasiliev, the Deputy Chairman of the State Duma and head of the United Russia faction in the State Duma, V.V.Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma, and V.I.Matviyenko, Chairwoman of the Federal Council. ^ top ^

Khalkh Gol agricultural zone issues discussed (Montsame)
2016-12-15
At its regular meeting held on Wednesday, the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, P.Sergelen has reported to the cabinet on some measures taken towards establishing the Khalkh Gol agricultural zone. Afterwards, related Ministers were tasked to provide preparation works including development of a program on establishing and developing Khalkh Gol as an environmentally friendly, export-oriented agricultural zone with intensive farming and to ensure its implementation, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. The cabinet also charged Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry P.Sergelen to cancel illegal decisions on land allocations in the Khalkh Gol agricultural zone in accordance with relevant laws. ^ top ^

Ts.Zorig re-appointed Chief Judge (Montsame)
2016-12-14
In accordance with the Decree No. 159 of the President of Mongolia issued on December 5, Zorig Tsevegmid was re-appointed the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Mongolia. He will hold the office for six more years, pursuant to the Law. He was first appointed to be the Chief Judge in 2010. The ceremony for presenting the presidential decree took place on Wednesday at the office of the Supreme Court. The decree was presented by the Chief of Staff of the President's Office, Mr Ts.Bayarsaikhan. ^ top ^

Race for the Democratic Party chairmanship kicks off (The UB Post)
2016-12-13
One of the critical decisions made by the 1,210 attendees of the Democratic Party's Sixth Congress held last week was to elect a new party chairman through votes from all members of the Democratic Party (DP). An election commission consisting of 30 DP members was set up, made up of one representative from each of Mongolia's 21 provinces and Ulaanbaatar's nine districts. Member of the National Consultative Council of the DP and former Mayor of Khentii Province J.Oyunbaatar is leading the commission. On Monday, General Secretary of the DP L.Erkhembayar and Head of the Election Commission J.Oyunbaatar held a briefing about the chairmanship election. General Secretary L.Erkhembayar stated that candidate registration for the election will be carried out from December 12 to 4:00 p.m. on December 17. The election will be held on January 29, 2017. J.Oyunbaatar noted that the election commission has set up 339 5-member election sub-commissions to organize the election in districts, provinces, and soums. During the briefing, L.Erkhembayar noted that election campaigns were going to start on December 21, carried out for 40 days, and that a debate between the candidates will be scheduled during the campaign. L.Erkhembayar said, “The DP has also started its new membership registration throughout Mongolia, and all members of the DP who have registered and paid their membership dues are eligible to vote in the January 29 election.” Observers believe that MPs D.Erdenebat, S.Erdene, L.Bold, and J.Batzandan; former Head of the Office of the President P.Tsagaan; former Member of Parliament and Minister of Education, Culture, and Science L.Gantumur; and former parliamentarian G.Batkhuu will run for party chairman. ^ top ^

Tripartite agreement on international transport to boost trade cooperation signed (The UB Post)
2016-12-11
Mongolian Minister of Roads and Transportation D.Ganbat, Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Nikolay Asaul, and Vice Minister of Transport of the People's Republic of China Liu Xiaoming signed the Intergovernmental Agreement on International Road Transport along the Asian Highway Network during the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Ministerial Conference on Transportation, which was held in Moscow, from December 5 to 9. Minister D.Ganbat stressed that the agreement is of significant importance to increasing trade turnover. He thanked Russian Deputy Minister Asaul for successfully organizing the meeting of the transportation ministers of ESCAP. He also noted that the signing of the agreement was the first agreement signed in the framework of an agreement to establish an economic corridor between Mongolia, Russia, and China. The Mongolian Minister of Roads and Transportation thanked Chinese Vice-Minister of Transport Liu for signing the agreement representing the Government of China. He added that he hopes the three countries will successfully work together to implement railway and highway megaprojects under the agreement on establishing an economic corridor between the three countries.The three countries have negotiated on the agreement for three years, and ESCAP provided technical assistance for formulating the agreement. Minister D.Ganbat expressed his appreciation to Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Shamshad Akhtar for her great efforts and contributions, on behalf of himself and the Government of Mongolia. He said, “ESCAP has led us, promoting and facilitating our collaboration, and contributing to today's achievement.” ^ top ^

Mining Industry officials meet with delegations from China Shenhua (gogoMongolia)
2016-12-09
Mining and Heavy Industry Ministry officials today received delegations from China Shenhua Energy Company Limited. During the meeting, China Shenhua proposed to commence Tavantolgoi`s power station, railway construction and mining projects at the same time. Previously, China Shenhua has expressed incentives to invest in Tavantolgoi coal deposit. The company has won the bid, announced by the previous government, establishing a consortium agreement jointly with the Energy Resource LLC and Japanese Sumitomo Corporation. According to the consortium agreement, China Shenhua has announced to invest US$ 4 billion to Tavantolgoi coal deposit. However, a working group, led by MP L.Erdenechimeg deferred the agreement, noting that the agreement would result in significant loss to our country. Following, due to the coal price drop on international market, the negotiations on the agreement have been halted. China Shenhua expressed incentives to invest Tavantolgoi coal deposit after the establishment of new Government of Mongolia, led by Prime Minister J.Erdenebat. Mongolia is to violate the recommendations, approved by the National Security Commission, if Shenhua Group operate alone in Tavan Tolgoi group deposits​. Because China plays important role in the foreign trade and foreign investment of the country. Meanwhile, the recommendations, approved by the National Security Commission does not support too much dependence on foreign countries. ^ 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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