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

Press review, if not selected: all SinOptic
  20-24.2.17, No. 660  
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DPRK

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Switzerland

Switzerland open to ensure success of Beijing Winter Olympics (China Daily)
2017-02-20
Switzerland, with its rich experiences in winter sports, could cooperate with China to ensure the success of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, said Swiss officials. Roger Schnegg, director of Swiss Olympic committee, told China Daily in Beijing that as the nation where the International Olympics Committee is headquartered, Switzerland has played a leading role in winter sports as well as many other areas. "We are the global leader in winter sports. We are the global leader in sustainable tourism and hospitality services. We are the global leader in innovation and clean technology. That's overall, not only in winter," he said. He was on a three-day visit to China last week with more than 40 representatives from 14 Swiss companies, associations and institutes. The delegation members visited Chongli in North China's Hebei province where the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games will be held. During the visit, the representatives met with people from Chinese government and companies to discuss cooperation issues for the winter sports. A memorandum of understanding was also signed to establish friendly cities between the Swiss tourism resort Verbier and Chongli. Calling President Xi Jinping's trip to Switzerland last month a historical visit, Swiss Ambassador to China Jean-Jacques de Dardel said that the bilateral relations are in a "golden age". The ambassador also expressed optimism toward the winter sports cooperation between the two countries. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said last month that he was "sure" the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games would be a success. The remarks were made during Xi's historic visit to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. "Before we had talks last evening and today, I always said we are very confident about the success of these Winter Games. Now, after his visit, I would say we are sure it will be a success," Bach told reporters after he met with President Xi at the Lausanne-based Olympic Museum on Jan 18. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Trump furiously attacks China as top dog in currency manipulation (SCMP)
2017-02-24
President Donald Trump declared China the “grand champions” of currency manipulation on Thursday, just hours after his new Treasury secretary pledged a more methodical approach to analysing Beijing's foreign exchange practises. In an exclusive interview, Trump said he has not “held back” in his assessment that China manipulates its yuan currency, despite not acting on a campaign promise to declare it a currency manipulator on his first day in office. “Well they, I think they're grand champions at manipulation of currency. So I haven't held back,” Trump said. “We'll see what happens.” During his presidential campaign Trump frequently accused China of keeping its currency artificially low against the dollar to make Chinese exports cheaper, “stealing” American manufacturing jobs. But Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday he was not ready to pass judgment on China's currency practises. Asked if the US Treasury was planning to name China a currency manipulator any time soon, Mnuchin said he would follow its normal process of analysing the currency practises of major US trading partners. The Treasury is required to publish a report on these practises on April 15 and October 15 each year. “We have a process within Treasury where we go through and look at currency manipulation across the board. We'll go through that process. We'll do that as we have in the past,” Mnuchin said in his first televised interview since formally taking over the department last week. “We're not making any judgments until we go continue that process.” A formal declaration that China or any other country manipulates its currency requires the US Treasury to seek negotiations to resolve the situation, a process that could end in punitive tariffs on the offender's goods. The US Treasury designated Taiwan and South Korea as currency manipulators in 1988, the year that Congress enacted the currency review law. China was the last country to get the designation, in 1994. The current situation is complicated because China's central bank has spent billions of dollars in foreign exchange reserves in the past year to prop up the yuan to counter capital outflows. The International Monetary Fund said last year that the yuan's value was broadly in line with its economic fundamentals. The US Treasury also said in its last currency report in October that its view of China's external imbalances had improved somewhat. Trump's pronouncements about the yuan could also complicate matters for Mnuchin as he prepares for his first meeting next month with his Group of 20 finance minister counterparts in Baden Baden, Germany. ^ top ^

Beijing seeks 'positive energy' in S. China Sea (China Daily)
2017-02-24
China urges countries outside of the South China Sea region to stop stirring threats of war and tension in the region, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday. Ren Guoqiang, 47, who debuted as the ministry's spokesman at its first news conference of the year, said China was monitoring the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group, which entered the South China Sea on Saturday. It was the first patrol by a US carrier in the region since US President Donald Trump took office. "We hope the US can sincerely respect the sovereignty and security interests of countries in the region, as well as the efforts they have made toward regional peace and stability," Ren said. "We will also respect other nations' freedom of passage and flight through the region so long as they adhere to international law." The situation in the South China Sea is becoming peaceful and stable, Ren said. "Countries outside of the region shouldn't purposefully stir threats of war or tension, but should inject positive energy into this good development." As for China-US ties, "a healthy Sino-US military relation adheres to the basic interests of the two nations' people, as well as being beneficial for peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region and the world," he said. "It needs China and the US to jointly maintain it. We hope both sides can work together, strengthen communication, avoid misunderstandings and push forward military relations on the right track." Liang Fang, a professor at National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army, said China should "calmly observe and respond carefully" to the situation. "The US is reinstating its military presence in the region as a bargaining chip with China," she said. "The US will continue its Asian rebalancing effort, and China has to be ready for anything." Teng Jianqun, a senior US studies researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said the US has to accept the fact that the balance of power is shifting in the region. "The US flexing its muscles doesn't bring peace. It only makes the situation even more complicated, especially when China and ASEAN countries are on the verge of signing a code of conduct for the South China Sea," he said. At Thursday's news conference, Ren also denied a media report that China had sent troops to the border area adjacent to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea after the reported death of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un. "The report is a complete fabrication," he said. ^ top ^

US patrols are militarizing S.China Sea (Global Times)
2017-02-23
On Tuesday, Reuters quoted two anonymous US officials as saying that China had nearly finished building almost two dozen military structures on artificial islands in the South China Sea. According to the report, the structures on the Zhubi Reef, the Meiji Reef and the Yongshu Reef appear to be 20 meters long and 10 meters high with retractable roofs. US intelligence officials believe that those would be used to deploy long-range surface-to-air missiles. At about the same time, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, commander of US 7th Fleet, claimed that "Unequivocally, we're prepared to fight if necessary." Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, noted on Wednesday that "We will cooperate where we can but we will be ready to confront where we must." For the moment, US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is on patrol in the South China Sea. China-US relations are at a very sensitive period. Some US analysts believe China's militarization in the South China Sea is a test on how US President Donald Trump will response. But they failed to mention whether the US aircraft carrier's presence in the waters and the condescending remarks of US generals have encouraged Beijing to deploy weapons on the Nansha Islands. Aren't US carrier groups' constant patrols in the South China Sea the most prominent militarization in the waters? Aren't the public statements made by the US military, that all its moves were done to warn China, direct military threats? Washington hopes Beijing would grin and bear it. Well, excuse me, China is not that docile. The South China Sea is quiet now. China, the Philippines and Vietnam have eased their disputes and agreed to cooperate. Negotiations over a Code of Conduct (COC) in the waters are progressing. The ASEAN indicated that a deal over the COC is expected within the year, and that China is optimistic. As long as the US does not carry out provocative moves in the waters, the South China Sea will be peaceful. If the US military insists on showing that it is capable of taming the China Dragon, they are bound to see all kinds of advanced Chinese weapons as well as other military deployments on the islands. The South China Sea is not the Caribbean. It is not a place for the US to behave recklessly. US generals said they are ready to fight when necessary. The People's Liberation Army is also making preparations. When diplomats make efforts for peaceful and friendly ties with other nations, it is believed that the Chinese army is always on the alert. Washington has a global military presence. How can China's deployment of defense facilities on its own islands be treated as a threat? ^ top ^

China strongly opposes ROK's deployment of THAAD (Global Times)
2017-02-24
China's military on Thursday voiced strong objections to the Republic of Korea (ROK)'s deployment of an advanced US missile defense system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). The move by the United States and the ROK will gravely undermine the regional strategic balance and the strategic security interests of countries in the region, including China and Russia, said Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense at a routine press conference. Ren said China hopes the ROK side will value the achievements in the military ties between the PLA and the ROK army, and cautiously handle issues that directly concern China's strategic security interests. Chinese armed forces will make the necessary preparations and resolutely safeguard the nation's security. The Nanhai fleet on Feb. 10 departed from a military port in south China's Sanya City for a high-seas training mission. In addition to the South China Sea, the mission will pass through the east Indian Ocean for training to improve Chinese navy's ability in international escorting, anti-terror and anti-piracy, said Ren. The spokesperson also answered questions about the US aircraft carrier strike group patrolling the South China Sea. The group, including Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, began routine operations in the South China Sea on Feb. 19. China hopes the United States would do what is good for peace and stability in the South China Sea, said Ren. China always respects freedom of navigation and overflight of all countries in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, and hopes the United States will respect the sovereignty and security of concerned countries. Ren said China wished enhanced communications between the two armies and to push forward bilateral ties. ^ top ^

China to synergize development strategies with Italy (Global Times)
2017-02-23
China is willing to synergize development strategies with Italy to promote a balanced growth of trade and investment, Premier Li Keqiang said here Thursday. Li's remarks came as he met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Li called on both countries to make mid- and long-term development plans, enhance exchanges of innovation policies as well as cooperation on research and development. He also suggested both countries explore cooperation in third markets and expand the number of overseas students and interns. China hopes Italy can be an active role in ensuring the EU fulfills its obligations under the Protocol on China's Accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Li said. Mattarella, who is on a state visit to China from Tuesday to Sunday, said Italy and China share a broad consensus and enjoy great potential for cooperation. Italy is ready to work with China to enhance high-level exchanges, make new economic cooperation action plan and explore cooperation in areas of infrastructure construction, science and technology, environmental protection, innovation and increase bilateral trade and investment. He said he hopes the bilateral ties can reach a new level around 2020 when Italy and China will celebrate 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties. Italy is willing to play an active role in EU-China relations, he added. During the talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mattarella on Wednesday, the two agreed to develop China-Italy ties from a strategic and long-term perspective and advance the relationship to a higher level. The two also witnessed the signing of cooperation documents in culture, science, education, health, trade and innovation. Also on Thursday, top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang met with Mattarella. Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said the top priority for both countries' legislative bodies is to implement the consensus reached by the two presidents. Mattarella said Italy supports cooperation between the two legislative bodies and would like to actively participate in the Belt and Road development. ^ top ^

China hopes BRICS summit to achieve four objectives: State Councilor (Xinhua)
2017-02-23
China put forward four objectives that it believes can be achieved at the ninth BRICS leaders' summit, said State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Thursday. Yang made the remarks at the First Sherpa Meeting of the summit that opened on the same day in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province. BRICS groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The BRIC cooperative mechanism was established in 2006. According to Yang, the 2017 BRICS Summit will be held on Sept. 3-5 in Xiamen in east China's Fujian Province. The theme of this year's event is "BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future." President Xi Jinping hopes to work with other BRICS leaders to ensure the meeting is a success, said Yang. Yang said China expects the Xiamen BRICS summit will promote members strengthening solidarity and collaboration, and improving global governance; deepening pragmatic cooperation to achieve mutual benefit; increasing people-to-people exchanges, and enhancing public support; and strengthening institutional mechanism and improving cooperation platform, which are the four objectives. China is confident that the BRICS cooperation will progress to a new level and become a globally influential platform for South-South cooperation, said Yang. Cooperation among the emerging-market bloc will push forward the establishment of a more fair and rational international order, he added. Yang said BRICS has become a driving force, promoting global economic growth, improving global governance, and pushing forward democracy in international relations, he noted. Facing a complicated and volatile international situation, BRICS nations should remain confidant and work together to cope with challenges and seize the opportunities for common development, said Yang. He voiced confidence that the Xiamen BRICS summit would result in positive outcomes and create a brighter future for BRICS nations. The First BRICS Sherpa Meeting runs from Thursday to Friday to prepare for the BRICS leaders' summit in September. The meeting attracted more than 100 participants, including coordinators from all sides, foreign diplomats, and representatives from the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB). ^ top ^

Visits boost China-EU ties (Global Times)
2017-02-23
The recent visits of leaders of European Union (EU) member states show that China-EU ties are sound and jointly sustained, said Chinese experts, but challenges remain and require greater dedication. Italian President Sergio Mattarella began his state visit to China on Tuesday at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. His 6-day trip will take him to Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, and Xi'an in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province. His visit to Xi'an, the start of the ancient Silk Road, is widely considered as a sign of his interest in and support for China's One Belt, One Road Initiative. French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve also kicked off his 3-day official visit to China on Tuesday. Besides meeting top Chinese officials, he also delivered a speech at Peking University and visited Wuhan in Central China's Hubei Province, which enjoys deep ties with French companies. "Many EU countries, including Italy and France, are experiencing political turmoil. The visits of EU heads of state to China prove that despite domestic uncertainties, the EU considers China a very important power in the world, and is interested in cooperating with China," Francesco Sisci, an Italian scholar and a senior researcher at the Center of European Studies of the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times. Under a stable development momentum, China-EU ties are not going to change. But efforts are still needed to enhance the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides to achieve concrete improvements, said Jiang Shixue, deputy director of the Institute for European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "It is widely recognized by European countries that the Belt and Road Initiative would provide a new avenue for China and the EU to engage in closer economic cooperation. Though opinions vary, Europeans generally welcome the initiative," Jiang told the Global Times. US President Donald Trump has challenged US-EU ties since his campaign. He has hailed Brexit and criticized EU's immigration policy. He indicated that he would withdraw support from Europe and called for greater European contributions to NATO, which has provoked strong opposition from EU leaders. Elections will be held in Europe this year, marked by the rise of populism, and conservative forces from several countries have threatened to split from the EU. However, the current pro-establishment leaders from key EU countries, like Germany and France, are strongly defending globalization and free trade policies, which are being challenged by the Trump administration. In his speech at Peking University, Cazeneuve said he will discuss with his Chinese counterparts ways to develop better China-EU relations with Brexit in mind, and called for joint efforts from China and France to enhance bilateral ties to confront the rise of protectionism, according to a report by the China Youth Daily on Wednesday. Jiang said he does not expect fundamental changes in US-Europe ties despite serious differences. On the other hand, he warned that China-EU relations still face obstacles and challenges because of different systems, values and conflicting views on various issues. "Some people I met who work for the European Parliament mistakenly believe that China's strategy toward EU is to 'divide and rule,' especially with China's cooperation with 16 central and eastern European countries," said Jiang. The EU has launched an investigation into the feasibility of a Hungary-Serbia railway, which is supported by China and a showcase of the Belt and Road Initiative. "The EU has an ambivalent view of China's investments. On one hand, it needs China's cooperation on capital and construction. On the other hand, it's concerned that China will interfere with the EU on infrastructure projects," Cui Hongjian, director of the China Institute of International Studies' Department of European Studies, told the Global Times. China and EU may hold this year's annual summit earlier than in previous years. "For the first time, last year's China-EU summit failed to come up with a joint declaration due to conflicting views on China's market economy status and the South China Sea disputes," said Jiang. "But this year, under new circumstances, the two sides will be committed to reaching a consensus." ^ top ^

China, India hold strategic dialogue in Beijing (Global Times)
2017-02-22
China and India exchanged their views frankly during a strategic dialogue held in Beijing on Wednesday, but experts said that their disputes on specific issues, including India's bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and antiterrorism, will persist. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and Indian Foreign Secretary Subramanyam Jaishankar co-chaired a dialogue on Wednesday, exchanging ideas on some "friction points," including the problem of India's application to join the NSG, the Xinhua News Agency reported. This is the first strategic dialogue since Narendra Modi became Indian Prime Minister in 2014. India blames China for blocking it from the NSG, but aside from China, many NSG members including Brazil, Austria, New Zealand, Ireland and Turkey are also opposed to India's bid citing the fact that India has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang was quoted by Xinhua as saying that frictions between China and India "are not bilateral but multilateral." Apart from the NSG dispute, China and India still clash in other fields, including the understanding on counter-terrorism and free trade, Lin Minwang, an expert on South Asian studies and a professor at the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "India always wants to portray Pakistan as a 'supporter of terrorism' in the international community, which makes it easier for the country to link counter-terrorism issue to Sino-Pakistani relationship and blame China's support to Pakistan for some issues," Lin said, adding that India does not understand the significance of Sino-Pakistani friendship. Additionally, trade is also a problem between both sides. "India's trade deficit with China is increasing since many of China's products meet the needs of the Indian market, such as small household appliances," Lin said. India should understand that free trade is a dynamic process and China has also suffered from huge trade deficits with other countries at the beginning of its reform and opening-up, Lin said. Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi met with Jaishankar on Tuesday before the strategic dialogue, calling for stronger ties between the two neighbors, according to a press release posted on Chinese foreign ministry's official website. ^ top ^

China finishing buildings that may house missiles in South China Sea, say US officials (SCMP)
2017-02-22
China, in an early test of US President Donald Trump, is nearly finished building almost two dozen structures on artificial islands in the South China Sea that appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles, two US officials said. The development is likely to raise questions about whether and how the United States will respond, given its vows to take a tough line on China in the South China Sea. China claims almost all of its waters, which carries a third of the world's maritime traffic. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims. Trump's administration has called China's island building in the South China Sea illegal. Building the concrete structures with retractable roofs on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs, part of the Spratly Islands chain where China already has built military length airstrips, could be considered a military escalation, the US officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It is not like the Chinese to build anything in the South China Sea just to build it and these structures resemble others that house SAM batteries, so the logical conclusion is that's what they are for,” said a US intelligence official. Another official said the structures appeared to be 20 metres long and 10 metres high. A Pentagon spokesman said the United States remained committed to non-militarisation in the South China Sea and urged all claimants to take actions consistent with international law. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised China's ire in his Senate confirmation hearing last month when he said Beijing should be denied access to the islands it is building in the South China Sea. Tillerson subsequently softened his language and Trump further reduced tensions by pledging to honour the long-standing US “One China” policy in a February 10 telephone call with President Xi Jinping. Greg Poling, a South China Sea expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said in a December report that China apparently had installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the islands it has built in the South China Sea. The officials said the new structures were likely to house surface-to-air missiles that would expand China's air defence umbrella over the islands. They did not give a time line on when they believed China would deploy missiles on the islands. “It certainly raises the tension,” Poling said. “The Chinese have got good at these steady increases in their capabilities.” The Philippines said Southeast Asian countries said on Tuesday that China's installation of weapons in the South China Sea was very unsettling and have urged dialogue to stop an escalation of recent developments. Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay did not say what provoked the concern, but said the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations hoped China and the United States would ensure peace and stability. The US intelligence official said the structures did not pose a significant military threat to American forces in the region, given their visibility and vulnerability. Building them appeared to be more of a political test of how the Trump administration would respond, he said. “The logical response would also be political – something that should not lead to military escalation in a vital strategic area,” the official said. Chas Freeman, a China expert and former assistant secretary of defence, said he was inclined to view such installations as serving a military purpose, bolstering China's claims against those of other nations, rather than a political signal to the United States. “There is a tendency here in Washington to imagine that it's all about us, but we are not a claimant in the South China Sea,” Freeman said. “We are not going to challenge China's possession of any of these land features in my judgment. If that's going to happen, it's going to be done by the Vietnamese, or the Filipinos or the Malaysians, who are the three counterclaimants of note.” He said it was an “unfortunate, but not [an] unpredictable development”. Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month that China's building of islands and putting military assets on them was “akin to Russia's taking Crimea” from Ukraine. He softened his language in his written responses to follow-up questions, saying that in the event of an unspecified “contingency”, the United States and its allies “must be capable of limiting China's access to and use of” those islands to pose a threat. ^ top ^

China not blocking India's entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group, says Foreign Ministry (China Daily)
2017-02-22
China is willing to enhance strategic communication with India and expand practical cooperation to further develop bilateral ties, State Councilor Yang Jiechi said on Tuesday. Yang made the remarks while meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar at the Zhongnanhai compound in Beijing. Jaishankar is visiting China to attend the China-India Strategic Dialogue, a mechanism set up last year to create greater engagement between the nations. China is willing to make joint efforts with India to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and to maintain high-level exchanges, he said. Jaishankar said India would like to enhance dialogue and communication with China in all areas, expand bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and push forward progress in bilateral ties. The two sides also exchanged views on issues of joint concern, including international relations. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, trade and the economy will top Jaishankar's discussions with Chinese officials. China is India's biggest trading partner outside the European Union. Chinese investment in India grew by 7.5 percent in 2016, to $1.06 billion. India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group was also likely on the discussion list during the strategic dialogue, according to Indian media reports. The 45-member NSG, founded in 1975, controls global trade in nuclear technology. On Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular news conference that China deems India's application for NSG membership as a "multilateral issue". The NSG members need first to reach consensus on the criteria for entry into the group by countries that have not signed the non-proliferation treaty, and then move forward with discussions of specific cases, he said. "Apart from India, other non-NPT state parties are also making applications. Our position on those applications is consistent," he added. Jiang Jingkui, director of the Center for South Asian Studies at Peking University, said some Indian media outlets have accused China of intentionally blocking India's entry into the NSG, which "is wrong". "Signing the NPT is a must for countries that apply for entry of NSG, but India has not signed the NPT yet,"he said, adding that China is just sticking to the principle, not targeting India. ^ top ^

French PM speaks on unity with China during official visit (China Daily)
2017-02-22
Cooperation between China and France plays a very important role in world peace and security, French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in Beijing on Tuesday while beginning his official visit to China. Cazeneuve delivered a speech at Peking University that morning. He said both countries have an important role to play on a multilateral level, citing the benefits gained during the Paris Climate Conference held in 2015. "This shows what we can contribute to the world when China and France work together," he said. The prime minister also encouraged Chinese companies to invest in France, adding that France is creating a favorable environment for foreign investment. China and France, which established diplomatic ties in 1964, have been cooperating closely in civilian nuclear power. They are working together on developing a nuclear plant project in Hinkley Point, Britain. The two countries also have strong cooperation in the aviation industry. An Airbus China A330 completion and delivery center, which is being constructed in North China's Tianjin, will deliver its first A330 jet to France in September. Cazeneuve also encouraged more Chinese students to study in France, and said his country is taking measures to keep facilitating visa procedures to attract Chinese tourists. ^ top ^

China, Britain hold security dialogue, agree to strengthen cooperation (Global Times)
2017-02-19
China and Britain held their second high-level security dialogue here on Friday, with both sides agreeing to strengthen cooperation in security and law enforcement. The dialogue was co-chaired by Wang Yongqing, secretary-general of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, and Mark Lyall Grant, national security advisor to the British prime minister. During the dialogue, the two sides exchanged views on the fight against terrorism, extremism, organized crime and the protection of cyber security. Chinese and British delegates also discussed international and regional security issues of common concern, and have reached important consensus on cooperation in fields such as fighting terrorist threats, cyber terrorism, human trafficking, telecommunication fraud, financial crimes and pursuing escapees. The two sides fully recognized the cooperative achievements since the first security dialogue, which was held last June. They agreed that facing the grim and complicated international security situation, China and Britain should further implement the important consensus reached by the Chinese and British leaders on deepening cooperation in security and law enforcement. China and Britain should expand their cooperative areas and enrich their cooperative style, so as to build a "golden age" for law enforcement and security cooperation, the delegates said. The dialogue was an implementation of the China-UK Joint Declaration on Building a Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century issued in October 2015 and is of great significance for mutual security cooperation. ^ top ^

New US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin makes phone calls to Chinese economic officials (SCMP)
2017-02-19
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has highlighted the need of a strong but balanced economic relationship between the world's largest two economies in phone calls with China's top economic officials, according to the US Treasury Department. The Chinese official news agency did not elaborate on the calls other than to say the Vice Premier Wang Yang had spoken to Mnuchin, at the request of the Americans, and that the two exchanged opinions on issues including Sino-US economic cooperation. The US Treasury Department said Mnuchin made separate calls to Liu He, the head of the office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs; Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, and Finance Minister Xiao Jie. “In each of these calls, Secretary Mnuchin underscored that he looked forward to fostering strong US-China engagement during his tenure. The secretary emphasised the importance of achieving a more balanced bilateral economic relationship going forward,” the statement said. “He conveyed his commitment to working with the Chinese leadership on a comprehensive set of economic, financial, trade and investment, and illicit finance issues, in bilateral and multilateral forums.” Mnuchin, who helped draw up Donald Trump's economic agenda during the presidential campaign, was sworn in as Treasury secretary on Monday. He then phoned counterparts in the UK Germany and Japan before calling the Chinese officials. During his presidential campaign, Trump accused China of manipulating its currency to gain a trade surplus over the US, and threatened to launch 45 per cent punitive tariffs on Chinese exports. He pledged to reverse the US trade deficit and pressed manufacturers to move production back to the US to create more jobs. Fang Xinghai, a vice chairman of the Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission, said at a forum yesterday that Trump had softened his tone toward China but Fang warned against placing too much hope in bilateral economic ties advancing rapidly. Fang said that while China had economic tools to constrain the US, it should continue to open up to win support from the US business community. “The secretary commended Vice Premier Wang for the critical role that he has played as a partner in managing the bilateral economic relationship and expressed his desire to work closely together”, the Treasury statement said. Intergovernment contact between China and the US stepped up following a phone call between Trump and Xi last week. Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his US counterpart Rex Tillerson yesterday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 ministers' meeting in Bonn, Germany, marking the first high-level face-to-face Sino-US encounter in Trump's administration. ^ top ^

China, US agree to work for greater development of relations (China Daily)
2017-02-18
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his US counterpart Rex Tillerson agreed in Bonn on Friday that the two countries should work together for greater development of bilateral relations during US President Donald Trump's term. Wang and Tillerson met on the sidelines of the foreign ministers meeting of the Group of Twenty (G20) to exchange views on bilateral ties and issues of mutual concerns. The meeting is the first of its kind since Tillerson assumed office. Wang said the recent telephone conversation between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Trump had great significance. During the conversation, Wang said the US side had made it clear that it would continue to honor the one-China policy and the two leaders agreed that China and the United States could be great partners and should promote greater development of their bilateral relationship from a new starting point. This key consensus has safeguarded the political basis of Sino-US relations, charted the course of the relationship in the new era and created the necessary pre-conditions for the two nations to engage in strategic cooperation on bilateral, regional and global issues, Wang noted. Wang said that China and the United States, both shouldering the responsibilities of securing world stability and enhancing global prosperity, had more common interests than disputes. China is ready to work with the US side to implement the consensus reached between President Xi and President Trump, and move their bilateral relationship forward in the direction that features no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, Wang said. He said the two sides should increase communication, enhance trust, handle differences properly and deepen cooperation in a bid to ensure greater development of bilateral relations during Trump's presidency, bring tangible interests to the two countries' peoples and make more contributions to world peace and prosperity. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Village head elections marred by corruption, local tyrants abusing their position (Global Times)
2017-02-23
Chinese netizens were surprised to learn that a village chief candidate surnamed Dai, from Tiantai county, East China's Zhejiang Province, was banned from running in the local election because he tried to attract votes by giving 100 yuan ($14.5) each to 60 villagers. Many people argued his punishment was too harsh as 100 yuan is not a big money and cannot "buy" voters. However, the local disciplinary authorities deemed that Dai should be disqualified as any kind of cash gift counts as a "bribe" in this context, regardless of its size. "Bribing voters will greatly damage democracy and Dai may be copied by others. If [we] did not stop it, it would influence future elections," a village official was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying. Dai was detained for seven days and fined 500 yuan on February 6, said Xinhua. This incident has once again brought corruption in grass-roots elections into the spotlight. Experts pointed out that combating bribery in village elections is of great importance to the nationwide anti-graft campaign, and more importantly it is an effective way to defeat local bullies and clannish politics. The principle that villagers should directly elect their village's leaders was introduced in 1988's Village Committee Organization Law. As of 2008, almost every Chinese village has a village committee, a self-management organization made up of local villagers. More than 95 percent of these village committees have held direct elections. However media reports and posts on online forums have for years revealed foul play in elections for village heads including bribery and a multitude of other dirty tricks to win votes. Several villagers across the country reached by the Global Times on Wednesday said that village head candidates are usually those who have a close relationship with senior local officials or those from a "powerful family." Bribery is an open secret and has been totally normalized. A villager surnamed Yao from Longyan, East China's Fujian Province said that years ago, a village chief candidate offered her money to come back from a city to vote him. While she did not come back, she asked her mother to vote for the candidate and was given 150 yuan. A villager surnamed Jin from Zhenjiang, East China's Jiangsu Province said that the cost of winning an election is less than 100,000 yuan but any expenditure can be recouped through the opportunities for graft on offer. Jin admitted that he did not know any of the candidates and he has never seen the poll results. Yao revealed that some big "clans" usually compete for the post but she has never heard of anyone going to the authorities about the bribery. "If someone attempted to blow the whistle, they may be cursed by the other villagers, as elections are a kind of win-win cooperation," said Yao. "As China's village is 'a society of acquaintances' and its economic development has relied on big families for years, it is very hard to implement policies from the central government and villagers usually don't think much about supervision," Du Zhizhou, an anti-corruption expert from Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times. "China should enhance its education of villagers on the dangers of bribery in elections. For instance, it could lead to the creation of village tyrants and eventually harm their own interests. Representative cases should be spread widely to encourage them to actively file a report. Moreover, the government should strengthen its protection of whistle-blowers," said Du. In January, China's top prosecutors issued several guidelines to crack down on village tyrants and clan domination to promote the rule of law and safeguard stability in rural areas. The guideline severely criticized village tyrants for manipulating elections, inciting violence and oppressing villagers, while pledging that prosecutors at all levels would target the people who protect them. In 2013, Liu Huimin, former village chief of Qilizhuang village, North China's Hebei Province, was sentenced to death for embezzling over 70 million yuan of public funds, beating up villagers, destroying farmland and blackmailing construction firms. "It is not unusual to see some village heads, who cannot resist the temptation of wealth and power, turn into tyrants. Its also common that tyrants helped by some authorities of higher levels, sneak their way into a position of power. Therefore, apart from encouraging tip-offs, the country could also set up a blacklist, which forbids officials who have protected tyrants from being promoted," said Du. Du added that higher authorities could hire law enforcement from other cities to guarantee the transparency of elections and encourage local officials to curb village tyrants by including the achievement as an important index for their promotion. ^ top ^

China top political advisors meet (Xinhua)
2017-02-23
The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee on Thursday held a meeting of its chairman and vice chairpersons. Attendees heard a report on preparations for the Fifth Session of the 12th CPPCC National Committee, an annual session scheduled for early March. Presiding over the meeting, Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, urged political advisors to think and act in line with the requirements of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core. Yu also stressed the importance of implementing the CPC's anti-extravagance rules at the upcoming session. The CPPCC is a mechanism of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC. It consists of figures from Chinese society who are willing to serve in the think tank for the government, legislative and judicial ^ top ^

Ex-Taiwan affairs cadre gets the axe from top Chinese advisory body (SCMP)
2017-02-23
A former senior mainland Chinese official responsible for Taiwan affairs was removed from the country's top advisory body, state media reported on Thursday. Sources said Zheng Lizhong's removal from the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference could be a sign that he may be implicated in “economic crimes”, a common euphemism for corruption. Zheng is a former executive vice-director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office. He is also the vice-director of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, a post he has held since 2008. In its main news programme last night, state-run CCTV reported that Zheng's removal was approved at a CPPCC meeting chaired by its head, Yu Zhengsheng. The report did not give a reason for Zheng's departure but sources said it might be related to Zheng's “economic problem”. A source said Zheng had close ties with Taiwanese businessmen on the mainland, and had been under investigation for several months. Another source said Zheng was responsible for the mainland's economic concessions towards Taiwan. Those policies have been criticised for mainly benefiting mainland-friendly politicians on Taiwan but not the general public of the self-ruled island. Zheng, 65, was a Fujian native. He was a awarded a master's degree in economics from Jilin University, and spent most of his career in Fujian. He visited Taiwan more than 30 times, and was seen as a rising star on track to possibly heading the TAO. On one trip to the island in 2008, supporters of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party accused him of setting up a trap of reunification. He is fluent in the Hokkien dialect and was also responsible for negotiating cross-strait affairs. Kao Koong-lian, former secretary general of the Straits Exchange Foundation in Taiwan, once described Zheng as a “respectable negotiator”. President Xi Jinping launched a massive anti-corruption campaign after coming to power more than four years ago. The anti-graft drive has netted numerous one-time high-fliers, including former security tsar Zhou Yongkang and ex-presidential aide Ling Jihua. A source familiar with cross-strait ties said more than a dozen officials from the Taiwan Affairs Office were being monitored for suspected corruption, including taking bribes from Taiwanese businessmen. The announcement of Zheng's removal comes a day after former TAO deputy director Gong Qinggai stood trial in Henan province for graft. Prosecutors allege Gong took advantage of his authority during his postings in Fujian province to help various entities and individuals acquire land and obtain government subsidies. Moreover, he either requested or accepted bribes valued at 53.53 million yuan (HK$60 million) directly or through his family. In a final statement to the court, Gong pleaded guilty and expressed remorse. The court has adjourned to decide on the verdict. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced in January last year that Gong was under investigation for suspected disciplinary violations. ^ top ^

China to improve court transparency (Xinhua)
2017-02-22
The Supreme People's Court Wednesday released a revised regulation on digital trial recording to improve transparency in court proceedings. The whole process of all trials should be recorded via both audio and video, and voice recognition used in court text records, the document said, adding that unauthorized recording by individuals is illegal. According to the document, courts nationwide should upload in-court audio and video recordings on online platforms devoted to judicial information disclosure for involved parties and lawyers to consult. The regulation will take effect on March 1. ^ top ^

China to start anti-graft inspections in universities (Xinhua)
2017-02-22
China will send anti-corruption inspectors to centrally-administrated universities, discipline authority of the Communist Party of China (CPC) announced Wednesday. The new inspections will scrutinize Party committees of 29 universities, including Peking University, Tsinghua University, Beijing Normal University and Nanjing University, according to a statement released after a Wednesday meeting before the launch of the 12th round of inspections. Inspection teams will re-examine the work of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as well as provinces of Jilin, Yunnan and Shaanxi. The new round of inspections will also cover the Office of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs, State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, China Railway Corporation and China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. Attending the meeting, Wang Qishan, who heads an inspection leadership group of the CPC Central Committee, called for better problem-finding inspections. The meeting urged inspectors to not only listen to what the Party officials say, but also watch what they do during inspections, and stressed that judgements should be made on the basis of people's comments on the work of Party committees. Inspections should focus on rules implementation and discipline in elections and official selection to ensure a clean political environment, the statement said. More flexible measures should be introduced in the inspection mechanism to expose and prevent corruption within discipline authorities, it added. ^ top ^

Courts told to ignore illegal evidence (SCMP)
2017-02-22
China's top court has told every court nationwide to strictly exclude evidence collected illegally, in an effort to reduce wrongful convictions and protect human rights. "When we looked back at wrongful cases corrected over the past few years, we found the mistakes were attributable to our undeveloped legal awareness, as well as improper legal procedures while tackling the cases," said Dai Changlin, a member of the trial committee at the Supreme People's Court. A guideline released on Tuesday ordered courts at all levels to find suspects innocent when evidence is insufficient to prove their guilt, and to not accept evidence that is obtained illegally. The guideline stipulates that courts should review the legality of evidence before hearing a case and they are not allowed to continue with cases if evidence has been collected in an improper manner. "For example, evidence won't be accepted if it is obtained by torture," Dai said. The guideline also asks judges to review interrogation videos and audio that are provided as evidence, adding that they must exclude those that are damaged or edited by investigators or prosecutors. Dai confirmed some defendants in high-profile wrongful cases, such as Nie Shubin, were tortured during interrogations. Nie, who was wrongly convicted and executed for rape and murder in North China's Hebei province more than 20 years ago, was exonerated in December. "We should sentence those who commit real crimes, but for defendants where the evidence cannot prove their guilt, we must free them," Dai said. The guideline is to uphold justice, as well as to protect human rights, he added. Wang Ling, a judicial official at the top court's publicity department, said they will disclose examples of whether the guideline is being fully enforced in a timely manner. Ji Chunwei, a criminal lawyer in Guangdong province, applauded the guideline, describing it as a significant step to reduce wrongful convictions. Procedures are regarded as a way of achieving justice, "so not handling a case in accordance with procedures will harm justice", he said. "Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done," he added. ^ top ^

Beijing targets unsafe sex among men in HIV campaign but obstacles remain (SCMP)
2017-02-20
Beijing aims to spread safe sex awareness among men at risk of contracting HIV as part of its wider push to tackle the spread of the disease. Critics say, however, any campaign should address the discrimination that patients face in seeking medical care. In a plan released by the State Council on stopping the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the government vowed to have 90 per cent of the high risk population educated about the disease, and lower the mother-to-child transmission to 4 per cent. The plan, released last month, also aims to lower the rate of infection arising from unsafe sex among men, or MSM, by 10 per cent by the end of 2020. Sexual transmission accounts for 94 per cent of HIV infections on the mainland. The rate of male homosexual transmission has increased from 2.5 per cent of all contractions in 2006 to 28 per cent of the 96,000 new infected cases recorded in the first nine months of 2016, according to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Jing Jun, a professor and director of Tsinghua University's Aids policy research institute, said transmissions among gay males were “spiking”, and that one in 10 men who had sex with men aged between 25 and 55 in the mainland's big cities were HIV carriers. Only about half of gay men in Beijing used condoms consistently, according to a study published in the Chinese Medical Journal in 2016. “As opposed to infections through drugs and prostitution, safe sex among men is not something you can put into law. It will only work with the cooperation of gay groups,” Jing said. Homosexuality is still considered taboo in mainland society, even though people are more open to discussing it. Chen Zhiwei, founding director of the Aids Institute at the University of Hong Kong, said the growing proportion of MSM among the Aids population was a global trend and that China was recording worrying statistics. “MSM infection is where the real epidemic is. It is the major problem for China in its public health policies today,” Chen said. Despite acknowledging that provincial authorities had begun discussions with local gay rights groups and other non-governmental organisations to address the issue, Chen agreed that “overall acceptance [of homosexuals] is a challenge”. Xiao Dong, a spokesman for the NGO China Rainbow Health Organisation, said raising health awareness among high-risk groups was difficult as the government had not done enough to counter the social stigma against HIV patients. Xiao's group has launched 13 campaigns on the mainland to get in touch with Aids patients whose medical treatments were delayed, or who had been turned away by medical institutions when they learned of their infection. Even though the government has ordered hospitals to treat HIV patients as ordinary patients, Xiao said they were often shunted around different hospital departments. “Most often they will end up in the department of infectious diseases, even if they were suffering from bone fracture, which is completely unrelated to their HIV-positive status,” he said. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Switzerland's denial of 'Tibet' nationality a blow to separatists (Global Times)
2017-02-18
The "Tibetan-in-exile" community in Switzerland has found it more difficult to obtain an official identification of Tibetan refugee since Berne revised its immigration policy and asked those Tibetans to change their nationality to China in July 2016. Swiss media said recently that the approval rate for this group of asylum seekers fell to 50.2 percent at the end of November while the rate in 2015 ranged from 65 to 85 percent. Switzerland, for a long time, has allowed Tibetans to identify themselves as the citizens of "Tibet" or "Stateless." Switzerland has more than 4,000 Tibetans, the largest "Tibetan-in-exile" group in Europe, and is a major base for Tibetan separatists on the continent. Some activists would fly to places in Europe where important Chinese officials may visit. As a small European country, Switzerland has a high profile as human rights advocate and has accepted some "Tibetans-in-exile," which Beijing recognizes as separatists, claiming to promote human rights. Now, some European countries including Switzerland are now reviewing their alleged role as human rights defenders in light of their divergent policies on the refugee crisis. In reality, the humanitarian model the Western world created has been dwindling. As the international order changes, it seems inevitable for Berne to review and adjust its policies. In the short term, the EU would be more inclined to adhere to more conservative policies by sticking to political correctness and be the defender of traditional values against the political changes in the US and Britain. Berne's denial of recognizing the "Tibet" nationality has no doubt dealt a blow to Tibetan separatists, as well as the so-called "government-in-exile" led by the 14th Dalai Lama. Since the influence of the separatists is declining, some Western countries will have to rethink how they would play the Tibet card to pressure Beijing once the Buddhist monk is gone. In the past, European countries have taken in refugees from some socialist countries like Vietnam to achieve political objectives after World War II. Rather than identifying them as political, economic or war refugees, these countries used them as political instrument to exert pressure on other nations. At the present, economic refugees are recognized as illegal immigrants and many war refugees from countries like Pakistan and Iraq, as well as the Balkan region, have been expatriated. Berne refusing labeling the "Tibetan-in-exile" as from "Tibet" or as refugees is a result of the positive Sino-Swiss diplomatic cooperation. Berne must have realized it has more to gain from a strong bilateral relationship with Beijing rather than supporting the Tibetan separatists. In January, Chinese President Xi Jinping defended globalization at the Davos forum during his official visit to Switzerland, which, together with China, is one of the major beneficiaries from globalization. Once Berne learns that it has a common vision with Beijing, it would certainly support China in its pro-globalization efforts, despite the Tibet question. Western politicians used to play the Dalai Lama card to show off their ideological superiority. But, nowadays, the issue could be used to offset China's clout in the international community. Apart from toning down the Dalai Lama issues, Beijing should work on finding other solutions while making efforts to better integrate China's minority groups as the Tibet question wouldn't vanish upon Dalai Lama's demise. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

China stages another mass show of military force in restive Xinjiang (SCMP)
2017-02-19
Chinese security forces have staged another mass anti-terror rally in the restive far western region of Xinjiang, parading hundreds of armed men through the streets of the regional capital Urumqi in a show of force after an uptick in violence. Hundreds have died in Xinjiang in the past few years, mostly in unrest between the Muslim Uygur people, who call the region home, and the ethnic majority Han Chinese. Beijing blames the unrest on Islamist militants. The Xinjiang government's news website on Saturday showed pictures of hundreds of gun-toting police and soldiers standing in front of a government building shouting pledges to defeat terror, and lines of armoured vehicles driving though the streets. ' Xinjiang deputy party secretary Zhu Hailun said the Urumqi rally, following on from ones in Kashgar and Hotan in Xinjiang's Uygur heartland in the region's deep south, were a sign of “real action” to deepen the fight against terror. Militants and extremists would be “smashed and destroyed”, Zhu said. The official Xinjiang Daily on Sunday quoted Zhu as saying at the Saturday rally that no effort would be spared in this regard. “With guns by our bodies, knives unsheathed, fists out and hands extended, we must use thunderous power to strike hard against terrorist activities,” Zhu said. After a period of relative calm, there has been a rise in violence in recent weeks, particularly in the region's south. ' On Tuesday, three knife-wielding attackers killed five people and injured another five in Pishan county before themselves being shot dead in Hotan prefecture. In December, five people were killed when attackers drove a vehicle into a government building and police shot dead what authorities described as three terror suspects last month. The government has blamed much of the unrest on separatist Islamist militants, though rights groups and exiles say anger at tightening Chinese controls on the religion and culture of Muslim Uygurs is more to blame. China routinely denies any repression in Xinjiang. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Regina Ip says Beijing offered her top jobs to quit Hong Kong leadership race (SCMP)
2017-02-23
Chief executive contender Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee has spoken out against “insecure” leaders in Beijing, saying she has rejected offers of top appointments to national bodies in exchange for dropping out of Hong Kong's leadership race. The pro-establishment lawmaker also criticised her election rival, former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, describing her as “Regina Ip” from a decade ago who thought everything she did was right. “[Lam] was like what I was some 10 years ago,” Ip said in an interview with Cable TV, referring to her own deep unpopularity when she stepped down as security chief in 2003. “[She] always fights with those who hold different opinions as she has spent too long in the administration and hears only one side of voices – just like how I was before.” Ip, who has secured only about 20 votes so far from the Election Committee that will pick the city's leader next month, is facing an uphill battle to get the 150 nominations required by next Wednesday to enter the race. Her situation contrasts sharply with that of Lam, once Ip's subordinate, and now the leading contender who already has double the nominations she needs. The underdog said it was rare for Beijing to express its strong preference for a candidate before the nomination stage, seeing it as a screening out of other aspirants. “The central government is insecure,” Ip said, suggesting Beijing was worried she would take votes away from Lam. “I think it would bring no good to the governance of the next administration if it is perceived that a candidate could only win the race because of the strong backing from the central government.” Ip also said someone claiming to have close relations with Beijing had offered to compensate her if she quit the race. “They said I do not necessarily need to stay in Hong Kong if I want to serve the city as they could offer me posts at the National People's Congress or the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.even very top positions. “But I want no consolation prize.” SSI want no consolation prize Regina Ip, chief executive aspirant In December, Ip said Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, had once asked her to be the Legislative Council president. She dismissed it as a signal from Beijing that she was not the favoured candidate, she said at the time. The New People's Party chief also hit out at Lam's leadership style, criticising her former colleague for distancing herself earlier from the government's unpopular education policy and arguing that the chief secretary was not the boss of all ministers. Ip disagreed: “It would greatly affect the morale of subordinates if the boss bears no responsibility.” Ip, who will be 71 during the next city leadership election in 2022, did not rule out a comeback. ^ top ^

Some 33,000 gather in support of Hong Kong officers jailed for beating up Occupy protester Ken Tsang (SCMP)
2017-02-22
Hong Kong witnessed one of the most significant mass demonstrations in its history last night when 33,000 serving and former police officers held a show of support for colleagues who were jailed for assaulting an activist during the 2014 Occupy protests. The mass rally, held on a soccer pitch at the Police Sports and Recreation Club in Mong Kok, was described by one officer in attendance as “the largest-ever single gathering of police officers the world has ever seen”. The last time the city's police were involved in a such a large-scale display of discontent was almost half a century ago, in the bad old days of the 1970s. That was when thousands of officers took to the streets to protest against the setting up of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. However, last night's show of discontent – which was closed to the media – stood in stark contrast to the often ill-tempered nature of the 1970s protests. The massed ranks of mostly former police officers were out to register – with a disciplined dignity – their condemnation of what they believe to be the harsh and unjust treatment of seven colleagues by the city's judicial system. The remarkable scenes, with many turning up in white as a mark of solidarity, followed the jailing for two years of seven officers for assaulting Occupy activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, 41. The sentencing sparked an outpouring of condemnation by police officers and sections of the public, who complained that the courts were being far more lenient by comparison with Occupy protesters who broke the law. Another officer at the rally, which included a significant number of family members of serving and ex-police officers, said: “This is not a protest against the courts or Hong Kong's judicial system, nor an attempt to undermine the rule of law. “It is a deep and heartfelt expression of genuine support for our colleagues and their families, who we feel have been unfairly treated and whose actions came out of a time of highly charged political emotion and stress.” Prominent among those who made an appearance was former security minister Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, now a candidate for the city' top job, along with National People's Congress deputy Maria Tam, who took to the stage and addressed the crowd, calling for assistance for the families of the seven jailed officers. Other personalities attending included lawmakers Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, Elizabeth Quat and Junius Ho Kwan-yiu. Despite Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung's sympathy for the jailed officers and earlier plea for public understanding of their predicament, none of the force' s top brass turned up. It is believed that only serving officers up to the rank of chief superintendent took part. The Post had earlier been told that at least one former assistant commissioner would attend, but this could not be confirmed last night. The huge turnout threatens to escalate an already significant chorus of criticism aimed at District Court Judge David Dufton and the judiciary as a whole. Asked if the top brass were also in attendance, an officer at the meeting said: “No only up to Chief Superintendent level.” The jailed officers, whose careers appear to be over, are: Chief Inspector Wong Cho-shing, 50; Senior Inspector Lau Cheuk-ngai, 31; Detective Sergeant Pak Wing-bun, 43; Constable Lau Hing-pui, 39; and detective constables Wong Wai-ho, 38, Chan Siu-tan, 33, and Kwan Ka-ho, 33. All denied assaulting Tsang, a social worker, in a dark corner of Tamar Park, Admiralty, on the night of October 15, 2014, at the height of the pro-democracy protests. But they were found guilty on one joint count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, with Chan also convicted of common assault. A TV news crew filmed the attack, which, when aired at the time, sparked outrage. The seven officers last night remained behind bars in the city's maximum security Stanley Prison. Joe Chan Cho-kwong, chairman of the Junior Police Officers' Association, said he was surprised by the number of people who showed up at the gathering. He said his association and three other police staff associations – the Superintendents' Association, the Police Inspectors' Association and the Overseas Inspectors' Association – would write to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying urging legislation that would ban insulting acts against public officers on duty. “We hope that all public officers would not be insulted in the future and the laws would not be just for the police, but for all public officers,” Chan said. He expected it would be difficult to legislate, but said the government should strive to do something. In response to the gathering, a police spokesman said force management understood the event had been organised by two concerned staff associations to report on what they had done to help their seven colleagues. The spokesman added that management would continue to work with the associations to help the seven and their families. He said the force would have an open mind on any new laws or measures that could ensure effective law enforcement. ^ top ^

Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang taken to hospital while in custody (SCMP)
2017-02-20
Disgraced former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen became Hong Kong's first leader to spend a night in custody, as he was remanded ahead of sentencing tomorrow, when he is almost certain to be jailed for misconduct in office. In a stunning reversal of fortune, Tsang, 72, swapped his suit and trademark bow tie for a prison jumpsuit last night after a judge sent him to the maximum security Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre and indicated a suspended sentence was unlikely. But at about 9.25pm, he was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital's custodial ward, in chains, after complaining of feeling unwell. Tomorrow the former head of the city's government will find out his punishment on one count of misconduct, which carries a maximum seven-year sentence. On Friday, Tsang became the highest-ranked leader in the city's history to be convicted at a criminal trial, when a nine-member jury found him guilty of deliberately concealing a conflict of interest. Tsang approved three applications from radio broadcaster Wave Media between 2010 and 2012, while he was negotiating the lease of a Shenzhen penthouse with businessman Bill Wong Cho-bau, a major shareholder of the station. While he beat another misconduct charge, Tsang will face a retrial over a third count of accepting an advantage, after the jury failed to reach a verdict on it, although a date has not been set. The bribery charge alleges that Tsang accepted HK$3.35 million worth of refurbishment work on the three-storey Shenzhen penthouse as a reward for granting the applications. More than 100 reporters and photographers jostled for position around Tsang as he entered the High Court with Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, his wife of almost 50 years. The media pack later blocked the prison van carrying Tsang as it tried to leave. At the hearing yesterday afternoon, Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai indicated Tsang could expect a prison sentence, saying it was “highly unlikely” he would get a suspended jail term. Hong Kong judges have the option to suspend a sentence for up to three years, during which time offenders can avoid jail as long as they do not commit any offence. Tsang's defence counsel, Clare Montgomery QC, argued for a suspended sentence and a short prison term, asking the judge to take into account Tsang's lack of “morally questionable motive” and the fact that his approval of the Wave Media applications was justified. The defence noted the “outpouring of letters” in support of Tsang from both his political allies and opponents, including former ministers Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and John Tsang Chun-wah, who are both running to be the next chief executive. “His has been a life devoted to public service and the people of Hong Kong,” Montgomery said. “The reality is, there can be very few people who have served Hong Kong for longer or with greater distinction. “Mr Tsang must now serve the rest of his life out with the knowledge that his reputation has been ruined and his legacy shattered.” She urged the judge to show “compassion”, saying the trial had already been a “considerable ordeal” for Tsang and his family, and had led to a significant deterioration in both his mental and physical health. Her client was also worried that others could be put off pursuing a career in public service, she said.“That is something that will live with him and be a punishment whatever your lordship does to him in terms of sentence,” she said. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Beijing calls landmark Taiwan protests part of China's liberation struggle (SCMP)
2017-02-22
Taiwanese authorities have remained mum over remarks by an official from the Chinese mainland that the pro-independence forces on the island had tried to hijack the commemoration of a 1947 massacre to promote their own agenda. It has also appeared lukewarm over Beijing's plan to hold a series of activities next week to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the “228 Incident,” as it is known in Taiwan. An Fengshan, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said the “228 Incident” was a “just action” by people in Taiwan against dictatorship and to fight for their basic rights. “It is part of the Chinese people's liberation struggle,” An said yesterday. “For a long time, this incident has been used by certain Taiwan independence forces for ulterior motives,” he added. In past elections, the DPP has often invoked the impression of “mainlanders taking advantage of Taiwanese natives,” citing the 228 incident as proof. At least 28,000 people, mostly local natives, were killed during the suppression of riots that started on February 28, 1947 – two years before the Nationalist forces on the mainland were defeated by the Chinese Communists and retreated to the island where it set up an interim government. Hsueh Hua-yuan, chairman of the 228 Memorial Foundation, however, criticised the mainland for trying to use the Taiwanese incident as a political tool. “Beijing should promote freedom and democracy at home instead,” he said. As for the claim that pro-independence forces had tried to make political gains from the incident, Hsueh said very few Chinese Communist Party members took part in the incident. “They didn't play a crucial role,” Hsueh said, adding the event marked the Taiwanese struggle for autonomy and resistance to an oppressive regime. Sun Yang-ming, vice-president of the KMT-affiliated National Policy Foundation, said the Communist's role was before the uprising, and the Taiwanese activist Hsieh Hsueh-hung rallied dissidents, including intellectuals and communists, to resist the local KMT regime of Chen Yi. He said that many people were fed up by the high-handed policies of Chen Yi, which allowed the Chinese Communist Party to absorb a number of Taiwanese communist members. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Demand heating up for migrant workers (China Daily)
2017-02-20
"Spacious rooms with air conditioner, Wi-Fi and hot shower 24 hours a day." They are selling points you might read in an apartment rental ad. But, instead, this was part of a recruitment poster for migrant workers at a job fair this month in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Posters at other booths promised free meals, apartments for couples and the guarantee of a place at a school for any children, in addition to a competitive salary and healthcare. The use of such incentives has become the norm at job fairs, as employers struggle to attract workers amid a tighter labor shortage. In terms of recruitment, "many large private enterprises are now behaving like State-owned enterprises in the 1950s and '60s", said Gan Mantang, a sociology professor at Fuzhou University in Fujian province. "They're offering good, free accommodation and help with their children's education, as well as providing some recreational activities. "If they don't do this, it'll be difficult to recruit anyone in today's ultracompetitive labor market," added Gan, the author of Migrant Workers Are Changing China. Only five years ago, many migrant workers endured cramped, often unhygienic dormitories, and long periods away from their families. The job fair in Nanning on Feb 7 attracted 550 companies looking for 100,000 workers. One booth was for Antoni International, a cotton processor in Foshan, Guangdong province. Lu Jieling, head of its workers union, said 80 percent of its employees are migrant workers. Many had quit before Spring Festival, so workers were needed quickly. Antoni was offering 4,000 to 8,000 yuan ($583 to $1,167) a month, 20-square-meter studio apartments for couples, and help with school admissions. The only requirements were that workers needed to be 18 to 45 years old, healthy and have "no bad addiction". Lu said former employees had been promised a 1,500 yuan bonus if they returned to work after Spring Festival. The challenges facing employers largely stem from the fact younger migrant workers are more demanding than previous generations. While a decent salary was once all that mattered, now quality of life counts. "The shortage is of high-quality young people with a relatively good education," said Li Guoxiang, a researcher with the China Academy of Social Sciences, who added that companies realize it has become more economical to retain employees than to train new recruits every year. Large cities in eastern China are still the preferred option for young migrant workers because of higher salaries there, with many now moving with their families. Li said, the movement of factories to less developed areas and poverty relief efforts are attracting older workers who want to return home. Tianrui Electronics, which makes electronic components and instruments in Tianmen, Hubei province, is struggling to find workers under age 35 with good eyesight. Shi Yanjun, a company manager, has attended two big job fairs this year, including one held in a township. Just 20 people showed an interest, he said, and "very few young people visited either job fair". ^ top ^

 

DPRK

China will take 'necessary measures' in event of regime collapse in N Korea, says defence official (SCMP)
2017-02-23
China will take the “necessary measures” to safeguard national security in the event of the collapse of the neighbouring North Korean regime, a defence official said on Thursday. The recent assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother Kim Jong-nam has sparked renewed concerns over the stability of Pyongyang and the possibility of a collapse of the reclusive regime. Beijing – long seen as the guarantor of Pyongyang's security – has stayed largely silent on the incident. But in a sign of its growing frustration with Pyongyang and as part of efforts to increase pressure on the regime over its latest missile test earlier this month, China announced last week it would suspend all imports of coal from North Korea for the rest of the year, depriving the country of a crucial source of foreign capital. Asked whether China had a contingency plan for a North Korean collapse, defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said Beijing has maintained its usual policy towards Pyongyang, and urged the “relevant parties to refrain from any actions that will escalate tensions”. “We are resolute in safeguarding the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula, sticking to the objective of denuclearization and to resolving disputes through dialogue and consultation,”Ren said on Thursday. “The Chinese military will take the necessary measures, according to the need that arises in the security environment, to safeguard national security and sovereignty,” he said. Ren denied recent reports that China had sent troops to the border between China and North Korea after Kim Jong-nam's death to prevent potential large-scale refugee crossings. Beijing has often been criticised by US President Donald Trump for not doing enough to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear development. The latest missile test has reaffirmed South Korea's resolve to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD), a US-developed anti-ballistic missile system, following North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January last year. South Korea's acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, said on Monday the deployment could not be delayed in the face of the growing nuclear missile threat from the North, despite Beijing's hostility to the move, Reuters reported. Beijing has strongly protested deployment of THAAD, arguing that the system is not targeted to prevent an attack from North Korea, but could be used to spy on Chinese missile flight tests. Ren at the defence ministry yesterday reiterated China's opposition to THAAD, saying China would “take all necessary measures to safeguard its national security and sovereignty”. ^ top ^

Pyongyang claims death of DPRK citizen "conspiratorial racket" by S. Korea (Global Times)
2017-02-23
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Thursday said the death of a DPRK citizen at Kuala Lumpur last week was an "anti-DPRK conspiratorial racket" launched by South Korea. The DPRK also blamed the Malaysian side for showing unfriendly attitude when handling the case, the official news agency KCNA reported. A spokesman for the Korean Jurists Committee said the autopsy was unnecessary as the death had been confirmed as the one due to heart stroke and the deceased man carried a diplomatic passport, according to the KCNA. The incident was "undisguised encroachment upon the sovereignty of the DPRK, a wanton human rights abuse and an act contrary to human ethics and morality," said the unnamed spokesman in a statement. The spokesman claimed that South Korea "worked out the scenario" and released false reports that the man was poisoned to death. "It is regretful that only Malaysia is denying such fact," he added. The spokesman also criticized the Malaysian side for conducting an autopsy without any prior agreement with the DPRK or its presence, in disregard of the just demand from the DPRK and international law. "Malaysia is obliged to hand his body to the DPRK side as it made an autopsy and forensic examination of it in an illegal and immoral manner," the statement said, adding that this proves Malaysia is to politicize the transfer of the body (to the DPRK) in disregard of international law and morality and attain "a sinister purpose." The victim, whom the Malaysian authorities claimed as Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of the DPRK top leader Kim Jong Un, was murdered in Kuala Lumpur last week. Malaysian police had detained a total of four suspects following the death of the 46-year-old man on Feb. 13 after being attacked by two women at a Kuala Lumpur airport, but later released one of them, a male from Malaysia. ^ top ^

China, US vow to address North Korea nuclear threat (SCMP)
2017-02-22
China and the United States have agreed on the need to address the nuclear threat posed by North Korea after a phone call between Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday. The call came after Tillerson met China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi for talks at the G20 ministerial meeting in Bonn, Germany, last week. A statement released by the US State Department said Tillerson and Yang affirmed the importance of a constructive relationship between the two nations. The two sides also “agreed on the need to address the threat that North Korea poses to regional stability”, the statement added. US President Donald Trump has previously criticised China for not doing enough to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme. China this week suspended all coal imports from North Korea as part of efforts to enforce United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang. Tillerson and Wang also discussed economics and trade, potential cooperation on counterterrorism, law enforcement and international crime, the statement said. Yang was quoted by the state-run Xinhua news agency as saying that the two countries have reached consensus over safeguarding the “political foundation” of their relationship after a phone call between President Xi Jinping and President Trump earlier this month. Trump angered China after a protocol-breaking phone call with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen last year. China protested and said the Taiwan issue was the “political foundation” of ties between Beijing and Washington. Trump later told President Xi during their telephone call that the US was committed to the one-China principle. Beijing considers self-governed Taiwan a breakaway Chinese province. Yang was quoted as saying during his conversation with Tillerson that he hoped both countries would work according to “the essence of the two leaders' conversation” and would strengthen high-level exchanges and interactions at all levels between China and the US. There was no reference to South China Sea in both statements from the two countries. Tillerson has previously criticised China's military buildup in the disputed waters and pledged to block China's access to islands in the South China Sea. ^ top ^

Resuming NK talks depends on efforts from all parties: FM (Global Times)
2017-02-19
China cannot go it alone in trying to get Pyongyang back to the negotiating table over the nuclear issue, and while it can mediate, both Washington and Pyongyang should think about accommodating each other's positions, experts said. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said at the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Germany on Friday, in reference to the Korean Peninsula nuclear crisis, "there is still a chance of resuming negotiations; the hope for peace still exists." Wang said that China will uphold the UN Security Council-led sanctions, but also stressed that all parties should not give up the fight to resume negotiations. Since the Six-Party Talks were halted in 2009, the situation has been in a vicious circle with repeated "nuclear tests and sanctions," Wang said. The Chinese foreign ministry said that Wang reiterated this message when he met with South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se on the sidelines of the Munich conference on Saturday. The Six-Party Talks, involving China, North Korea, the US, South Korea, Russia and Japan, were a multilateral mechanism aimed at solving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. The talks began in 2003 and stalled in December 2008, with Pyongyang quitting the process in 2009. Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that "Wang's statement shows China has the will and determination to solve the problem peacefully," adding that it is "also a response to the US." US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday urged China to "use all available tools" to moderate North Korea's behavior which will further destabilize regional peace after the latest missile test by Pyongyang, when he met Wang in Munich, Tillerson's spokesman Mark Toner said. Since the US urges China to use all available tools, China believes there is no tool better than multilateral negotiations, Jin said. "Unlike the US, China doesn't have multiple choices for a solution. Apart from negotiations, the US finds regime change, internal collapse and military strikes all acceptable, but China will not risk other measures which might bring military conflict, especially so close to our borders," Jin noted. "Subjectively, we can see there is the possibility of resuming the Six-Party Talks. New US President Donald Trump wants to change his predecessor's policy [of strategic patience] and has the will to solve the problem, rather than simply ignore North Korea's desire," said Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences. There will be a power shift in South Korea in mid-year, with hard-liners not so popular as before, Lü said. "Pragmatic, dovish political groups and politicians are increasingly popular, such as Moon Jae-in, the Democratic United Party's candidate for president," he said. Jin said he feels that the sanctions will be effective in making Pyongyang think twice about its behavior, especially the coal sanctions, which normally form about 20 percent of the country's exports to China. From Sunday, China banned all imports of coal from North Korea. As for Russia and Japan, their basic claims on the issue have not changed, and they will support a resumption in talks if other parties do, Lü said. Any international response to the recent missile launch should be made jointly within the UN framework or the Six-Party Talks, and "unilateral actions" will only ratchet up the already high tensions, Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian upper house of parliament, was quoted by the RIA Novosti agency as saying on Sunday. "Objectively, the resumption of Six-Party Talks is not very likely now. It needs cooperation and compromise from both the US and North Korea," said Wang Junsheng, a research fellow on Korean studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "North Korea wants everyone to acknowledge it as a nuclear state, but the US needs North Korea to abandon its nuclear program and won't guarantee not to use military options to solve the problem," he noted. ^ top ^

Speculation over China's import ban on North Korea coal unfounded (SCMP)
2017-02-20
The Chinese Commerce Ministry and General Administration of Customs announced Saturday that China would suspend all imports of coal from North Korea starting February 19 until the end of 2017 to implement UN Resolution 2321. Last month, China released a new list of items banned for export to North Korea and the decree is unprecedented. About 40 percent of North Korea's foreign currency is said to be earned from coal exports to China. Therefore, China's latest decision is considered very powerful. Coming after the death of Kim Jong-nam, some Western analysts hold it is "a response to the assassination incident." Scholars interviewed by the Global Times all agreed that the speculation is ludicrous. For one thing, there is still no conclusion about who is responsible for Kim's death. For another, Kim Jong-nam as a "political card" of Beijing doesn't conform to the logic of contemporary Chinese diplomacy. China's decision to cease coal imports from North Korea demonstrates that the international community has moved closer in sanctioning Pyongyang, which will find it much more difficult to break sanctions by creating confrontations among big powers. The international community will never allow North Korea to possess nuclear weapons. Pyongyang should be conscious of this reality. Pyongyang so far has displayed a confrontational stance that it would not abandon its nuclear weapons in any eventuality. The sharp confrontation will last and all parties involved will suffer losses. Obviously, North Korea will suffer the most. Its nuclear weapon program undoubtedly impairs North Korea's national security. It has made the North the most unsafe country in the world. Strategists tend to believe that with the advancement of North Korea's nuclear and missile technology, a military clash between the US, South Korea and the North will eventually break out. The possession of nuclear weapons is more likely to bring conflict to North Korea rather than help it avoid war. Even if North Korea is able to produce nuclear weapons that can be used for actual combat, it will be unlikely to form a deterrent. All the great powers do not believe North Korea dare launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike, as it cannot afford the subsequent devastating retaliation. International society won't yield to its rudimentary nuclear missile technology, which puts Pyongyang at a disadvantage in confronting the UN Security Council resolutions. When two countries have a huge gap in the strength of conventional forces, the weaker side is unable to deter the other by developing nuclear weapons. Some countries, including Ukraine and Kazakhstan, abandoned their nuclear weapon ambitions after the disintegration of the former Soviet Union because they realized nuclear weapons are of no use to them. If the current confrontation drags on, North Korea's isolation may last for decades, which could become the source of a variety of political risks. Pyongyang needs to think carefully about whether nuclearization is beneficial to it or not. Despite participating in UN sanctions, Chinese society's friendship to the North remains unchanged. Chinese sanctions only target at its nuclear weapon program, and we are firmly opposed to Seoul's political fantasy against Pyongyang. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Civic engagement in democracy discussed (Montsame)
2017-02-22
On February 21, Tuesday, an academic conference under the theme 'Development of Democracy – Citizen Participation' was co-organized by Presidential Office, Civic Engagement Project of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), National Legal Institute and School of Law of National University in the Citizen Chamber of State House. The conference was chaired by Ch.Unurbayar, Human Rights and Legal Policy Advisor to President, and addressed a crucial agenda concerning democracy and civic engagement. Presentations were given under themes such as 'Representative democracy, challenges', 'Direct democracy and citizen participation', 'Nature of Mongolian democracy, concerning issues', 'Citizens' initiative rights on local level', 'Political party and engagement of civil society', 'Realization of right to lodge complaints to public organizations and officer', 'Freedom to demonstration' and 'Role of human rights organizations in democracy'. In his closing speech, Ch.Unurbayar appreciated all the presentations given, and added his perspective. The presentations will be compiled for publishing, he informed. ^ top ^

Foreign Affairs Minister visits China to expand political and economic cooperation (UB Post)
2017-02-21
Foreign Affairs Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil visited China on February 20 and 21, at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. During Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil's meeting with Minister Wang Yi, held on February 20, the pair discussed possible areas for further cooperation between the two countries and exchanged views on global and regional issues. The sides agreed to organize a state visit by Mongolian Prime Minister to China and the second meeting of the Mongolian Parliament and China's National People's Congress cooperative mechanism. They also agreed to host the first meeting of Mongolian and Chinese Cooperative Council on mineral, energy, and infrastructure cooperation as soon as possible. To strengthen the legal and regulatory environment for cooperation between the two countries, the ministers also agreed to establish a new agreement on Mongolian and Chinese border sanitation and to sign a memorandum of cooperation and an agreement on roads and transportation cooperation. Both sides emphasized that the two countries will take measures to increase export on mining products, and beef and mutton from Mongolia to China. Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister noted that China has signed an agreement on Mongolia's route to the sea through Chinese territory. Minister Wang Yi stated that China will support Mongolia through bilateral and multilateral aid channels to overcome economic challenges facing Mongolians and stressed that he hopes Mongolia will maintain its fast growing economic development by dealing with its economic difficulties quickly. He said that China is ready to postpone a date to negotiate the currency swap deal between the two countries. As a part of his visit to China, Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil met with Vice President of the People's Republic of China Li Yuanchao and China's Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng to discuss legislature and economic cooperation between the two nations. During the meeting, the Chinese Vice President stressed that Mongolian Foreign Affairs Minister's visit is of significant importance to strengthening political mutual trust and expanding cooperation between the two countries. The Mongolian Foreign Affairs Minister highlighted that developing friendly relations with China is a key piece of Mongolia's foreign policy and Mongolia is focusing on developing its comprehensive strategic partnership with China. At the end of their meeting, Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil invited Vice President Li Yuanchao to pay an official visit to Mongolia at his convenience. During Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil's meeting with China's Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng, the two pair discussed to speed up the implementation of agreements that have been reached. The agreement specifies to organize a meeting of the Mongolia-China Intergovernmental Commission's working groups, accelerate work on China-Mongolia cross border economic cooperation zone, speed up the implementation of projects funded through Chinese soft loans and non-refundable aids, and to collaborate with the Silk Road Fund and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on holding seminars and trainings. Minister Hucheng stated that China is ready to collaborate with Mongolia to boost mutual economic and financial cooperation during challenging economic times. ^ top ^

IMF to give loan with floating interest rate of 2 per cent (Montsame)
2017-02-20
Soft loan to be given to Mongolia from the International Monetary Fund will have less than 2 per cent interest and the interest will be calculated with a floating interest rate. The Government of Mongolia and Bank of Mongolia have reached a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund on three-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program for USD 440 million and the parties called a press conference on February 19. IMF staff-team leader Koshy Mathai provided the above mentioned fact when answering journalists' questions. Loan term will be 10 years as loan repayment term of the Extended Fund Facility program is much longer than 'Standby' program. USD440 million will be allotted over three years as well as repayment will be made in scheduled time, not at once. “The authorities intend directly to boost economic activity and prospects by attracting new investment to major mines, and by implementing an array of structural reforms to promote economic diversification and improve competitiveness, especially in the agriculture and tourism fields. The broad range of reforms envisaged under the program have been developed in close collaboration with the World Bank and ADB. The authorities' adjustment and structural reform program, supported by the large package of external financing, is expected to stabilize the economy and lay the basis for sustainable, inclusive and long-term growth” he stated. ^ top ^

Parents planning to hold third protest against air pollution (gogo Mongolia)
2017-02-17
Parents against air pollution NGO planning to hold the third protest if officials do not respond to their application before Feb 25th. At the first demonstration that was held on Dec 26th, 2016, over 4000 Mongolian parents gathered at the Sukhbaatar Square to raise their voices against air pollution and collected more than 2700 applications. Irate parents submitted their applications to the Head of Application Standind Committee D.Sarangerel. Later on Jan 28th, 2017, about 10,00 demonstrators gathered at Sukhbaatar square to protest against air pollution and collected signatures for the application. Following the Parents against air pollution NGO submitted demand again to President of Mongolia and City Mayor, promising to demonstrate again if the Government of Mongolia and City Governor`s Office won`t respond to their application. However Parents against air pollution NGO have not received respond from the Government of Mongolia.
To the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj:
1.Be active and innovative on the improvements of legal framework committed to air pollution.
2.Attend the session of State Great Khural and discuss the issue immediately.
3.Reduce the number of vehicles used for official use of the Office of President by 40 percent prior to presidential election.
To the City Mayor, Su.Batbold:
1.Lead the campaign to install air purifier in all state-owned kindergartens, schools, and hospitals of Ulaanbaatar city.
2.Install 15 new air quality stations in Ulaanbaatar city.
3.Reduce the number of vehicles used for official use of the Capital City Governor's Office, the district governors and other state authorities and service entities by 15 percent within this year.
4.Regularly report the implementing works on reducing air pollution to the public every two weeks via the media. ^ top ^

Ms. Corinne Estermann
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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