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
  19-23.6.17, No. 675  
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Foreign Policy

Trump, China defy sceptics with stable ties, but will it last? (SCMP)
2017-06-22
At their first face-to-face meeting earlier this year, US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a new four-part dialogue framework to succeed the now-defunct Strategic and Economic Dialogue between their two countries. The first major iteration of that meeting – the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue – has just concluded in Washington. The dialogue roughly amounted to what is commonly described as a “two-plus-two” format, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defence James Mattis representing the United States, and State Councillor Yang Jiechi leading the Chinese side, flanked by the chief of the People's Liberation Army's joint staff department, General Fang Fenghui. Ahead of the dialogue, Tillerson had testified at a US Budget hearing about the state of the US-China relationship. He presented a forward looking view of the big questions surrounding the world's two superpowers. He underlined three major areas of strategic uncertainty that would continue to bedevil the US-China relationship: the sustainability of the 'one-China' policy, the North Korean question, and China's behaviour in the South China Sea. In the lead-up to the security dialogue, the North Korea question was once again thrust to the top of the agenda, not least due to the death of Otto Warmbier, a US citizen who was released from North Korean captivity in a comatose state. North Korea had also, since Trump and Xi met, introduced a new intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of striking Guam and a new a “ultra-precision” Scud missile. Kim Jong-un has also directed the Pukkuksong-2 medium-range ballistic missile into mass production and declared initial operating capability for a new surface-to-air missile system. North Korea additionally displayed a new coastal defence cruise missile launcher. The day before the dialogue, Trump sought to set the mood by taking to Twitter, as he is known to do, to note that while he “greatly appreciate[d] the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea”, things had “not worked out.” The implication was clear: Trump was seeking to signal to General Fang and State Councillor Yang that the time had come for serious sanctions enforcement against North Korea. Despite Trump's move on social media, Tillerson, at the conclusion of the dialogue, emphasised that all the US did was communicate its seriousness on this issue to the Chinese. The two sides did agree that firms within their jurisdictions should “not do business” with sanctioned North Korean entities – a positive development. On the South China Sea, the dialogue appears to have been underwhelming, representing something like a reversion to the mean on US-China tension over the issues coming after the Trump administration authorised its first freedom of navigation operation in the region in late May and Mattis delivered forceful remarks on the subject at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore earlier this month. In fact, Tillerson was quite charitable to the Chinese position on the matter, telling the press that China had “committed to resolve their disputes peacefully and in accordance with recognised principles of international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea”. This was a particularly surprising utterance from the top US diplomat given Beijing's refusal to acknowledge the validity of the now near year-old ruling by a five-judge tribunal at the Hague on the South China Sea, which found various Chinese claims, including the so-called 'nine-dash line', invalid under the UN convention. Still, Tillerson noted that the two sides had “frank exchanges”. Yet, for all his concessions to Beijing on the South China Sea, Tillerson did point out that he took Beijing to task over its human rights record in a “candid” manner – a first from an administration that has largely shirked US normative leadership in the area. Neither Tillerson nor Mattis suggested that anything regarding Taiwan or the United States' “One- China” policy had come up during the dialogue. This was despite Tillerson's testimony earlier in June that the sustainability of the One China' policy “for the next 50 years” was part of ongoing US-China discussions. The issue came to a head during the presidential transition when Trump received am unprecedented phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Analysts also expect the administration to announce a new arms package for Taipei sometime this summer. China's sensitivities on Taiwan remain amply clear and the topic does not appear to be on the agenda. The inaugural Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, in the end, appears not to have resulted in any dramatic outcomes. Despite the high-level participation, the forum served primarily to reiterate priorities for both Beijing and Washington, with neither side walking away with major takeaways. On North Korea, the South China Sea and other issues, the two sides will maintain divergent interests and policies. What remains remarkably positive is the ability of both sides to maintain a relatively stable and cooperative relationship, despite expectations to the contrary among many observers earlier this year following Trump's inauguration. The question going forward will be if that momentum will last or if these perennial questions that underlie and strain the US-China relationship with reach a slow boil, injecting the relationship with new turbulence. ^ top ^

US man may face execution, accused of sending secrets to Chinese spies with illicit communications device (SCMP)
2017-06-23
Former US agent Kevin Mallory was allegedly caught with undeclared stacks of cash after a trip to Shanghai, where he is accused of meeting suspected Chinese spies who gave him secret device to send documents. A Virginia man who was caught with stacks of cash in his carry-on bag after a trip to China may face execution in the US after he was charged Thursday with transmitting top-secret documents to an apparent Chinese agent using an illicit communications device. Kevin Mallory, 60, of Leesburg was arrested Thursday and made an initial appearance in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. The self-employed consultant who speaks fluent Mandarin is charged under the federal Espionage Act and could face life in prison, or, if certain conditions are met, the death penalty, prosecutor John Gibbs said at Mallory's initial appearance. Court records indicate that Mallory was an Army veteran and worked as a special agent for the Diplomatic Security Service at the US State Department from 1987 to 1990. Since 1990, he has worked for a variety of government agencies and defence contractors, according to the affidavit. He held a Top Secret security clearance until he left government service in 2012. According to the affidavit, Mallory traveled to Shanghai in April, and was interviewed by Customs agents at O'Hare Airport in Chicago after he failed to declare US$16,500 in cash found in two carry-on bags. The FBI interviewed him the next month, and he admitted that he met with two people from a Chinese think-tank, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, that he now believed were Chinese intelligence agents. He said they had given him a special communications device for transmitting documents. According to the affidavit, Mallory told the FBI agents that the only documents he transferred were two unclassified “white papers” he had written on US policy matters, for which he said he was paid US$25,000. But FBI agents searched the device and found other documents and messages that Mallory thought had been deleted, according to the affidavit. In one message, Mallory wrote to a suspected Chinese agent, “your object is to gain information, and my object is to be paid”. The agent responded, “my current object is to make sure your security and to try to reimburse you.” According to the affidavit, the Chinese officers were encouraging Mallory to resume working for the government so that he could obtain “a position of access.” An analysis of the documents on the device found four classified documents, including three with a Top Secret classification. Indeed, according to the affidavit, the Chinese agent asked Mallory in one of the messages found on the device why there was blacked-out information on the top and bottom of certain pages. Mallory responded that the black was to cross out the Top Secret designations on the page. But he assured the agent that the information was valuable. “Unless read in detail, it appeared like a simple note,” he wrote. Mallory, wearing a gray tank top and black Army athletic shorts, requested a court-appointed lawyer at his initial appearance. He was ordered held pending a detention hearing scheduled for Friday afternoon. The FBI was at his suburban Leesburg home, about 65km west of Washington, much of Thursday executing a search warrant. Dana Boente, acting assistant attorney general for national security and the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, where the case will be prosecuted, said in a statement that the charges “should send a message to anyone who would consider violating the public's trust and compromising our national security by disclosing classified information.” Geremy Kamens, the federal public defender appointed to represent Mallory, did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment. ^ top ^

Chinese public criticizes calls from UN to take refugees (Global Times)
2017-06-22
Calls for the Chinese government to do more to accept refugees into the country have met with waves of criticism among the public who cite Europe's immigration crisis and China's lack of ability as major reasons. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) sent out a Weibo post on Tuesday, World Refugee Day, after a charity event, paying respect to a total of 65.6 million people globally who are forced to be homeless as well as people who support and are concerned about refugees. A comment critical of the UNHCR's call has been reposted over 80,000 times. The top comments under that Weibo post are all critical. One read, "stop creating an atmosphere that we should accept refugees, it's revolting. If we don't have that kind of national prowess, we shouldn't randomly receive refugees." "There are still a lot of Chinese people who live in poverty and can't pay for medical bills. Shouldn't we solve our own problems first?" reads another. In recent years, there have been many calls for China to do more to show responsibility as a big country, including on the refugee issue. "By any measure this is an unacceptable number, and it speaks louder than ever to the need for solidarity and common purpose in preventing and resolving crises, and ensuring together that the world's refugees, internally displaced and asylum seekers are properly protected and cared for while solutions are pursued," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in a press release sent by the Beijing office to the Global Times. "We have to do better for these people. For a world in conflict, what is needed is determination and courage, not fear." On whether China should openly welcome refugees, the Communist Youth League wrote a public article on WeChat on Thursday, saying that the refugee problem was not caused by China and the Chinese government has constantly been providing humanitarian aid, as well as being willing to keep communicating with Western countries, and the core solution to the refugee problem is to keep these regions developing and stable. The view is shared by many. The core arguments are that China is still developing itself, has its own issues and is unable to take on more burden. Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said that the reason Chinese society has reacted so vehemently to this issue is because the advantageous policies enjoyed by foreigners in China is harming Chinese society. "Refugees' impact in a host country is stronger than normal foreigners who enter and exit a place. The refugee crisis in Europe since 2015 has provided a destructive example for the world," he said. He said if refugees from regions with unstable politics and bad safety records come to China in increasing numbers, it's a lot of pressure on China's safety and even stability. At the end of 2016, there were 317,923 persons of concern in China, according to UNHCR statistics. The category is an umbrella term for refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless persons and others. The biggest group among these is some 300,000 Indo-Chinese from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, who came in the early 1980s and are ethnically Chinese, the UN said. China is a party to two international refugee pacts - the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol. As there is no national legislation for refugees in China, the UNHCR is responsible for screening the status of asylum seekers and identifying durable solutions for refugees. The Chinese government just gives residential registrations. Liu Yiqiang, executive director at the Chinese Initiative on International Law, told the Global Times that he believes China could do more on the issue. "As the second-largest economy in the world, we have the potential to do more in resolving this global crisis, as Chinese leaders have expressed on various occasions. I understand that public opinion is against hosting refugees in China. However, that is not the only thing [and not even the most needed] we as a nation can do for ordinary refugees," he said. At a conference at the UN's headquarters in New York last September, Premier Li Keqiang spoke on the refugee issue, saying China has always held the issue in high regard and actively participated in solving the problem. ^ top ^

Top Chinese general cuts short Vietnam trip amid South China Sea tensions (SCMP)
2017-06-22
One of China's top military leaders reportedly cut short his visit to Vietnam earlier this month, a move seen as the latest sign of Beijing's anger about Vietnamese activity in the South China Sea. General Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, met with senior officials in Vietnam on Sunday, as part of a trip that began on June 12 and also took him to Spain and Finland. In Vietnam, Fan met Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong, President Tran Dai Quang, Prime Minister Bguyen Xuan Phuc and Defence Minister Ngo Xuan Lich. But a meeting about border defence was cancelled by the Chinese side “for reasons related to working arrangements”, the defence ministry said in a statement. The first such meeting took place in 2014, and was part of attempts to build mutual trust to ease tensions over their territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a press briefing on Thursday that those tensions had calmed down. “We hope the countries involved can avoid complicating the situation by taking unilateral action in the disputed waters," he said. Observers said the cancellation of the meeting reflected Beijing's frustration with Hanoi's efforts to exploit oil reserves in disputed areas, and its moves closer to Japan. Earlier this month, Japan's coastguard and its Vietnamese counterpart had their first joint exercise. It simulated an operation to thwart illegal fishing in the South China Sea, and showed the two sides' intentions to increase security cooperation. Vietnam is also attempting to exploit oil deposits near the Spratly Islands, where a Chinese fishing boat rammed the cables from a Vietnamese oil exploration vessel in May 2011. “One direct reason leading to the cutting short of Fan's visit might be because Beijing sees Vietnam as breaking its promises about not exploiting oil in disputed areas in the South China Sea,” Wu Shicun, president of the Chinese-government-affiliated National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said. “Vietnam has also recently been engaging more with the United States and Japan.” In his talk with Defence Minister Lich, Fan said China and Vietnam had to maintain communications to contain South China Sea tensions. Beijing claims a large part of the disputed sea, parts of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. An international tribunal ruling initiated by the Philippines rejected Beijing's claims in the waters last June. Officials contacts between China and the Philippines were severely affected after Manila took the dispute to the tribunal. But ties between the two nations have improved since then. Zhang Mingliang, a Southeast Asian affairs specialist from Jinan University, said the cancellation of the meeting earlier this month might further strain the ties between the two nations. “It will hurt bilateral relations, erode mutual trust and make the two countries more suspicious of each other,” Zhang said. “Now China and Vietnam are in a paradox. On the official front, the two governments are pushing hard to build better relations, but unofficially people in both countries are holding an increasingly negative attitude towards each other.” ^ top ^

Will Europe turn to China in era of Trump? (Global Times)
2017-06-22
For historians, it is always attractive to search for turning points in history - a moment that symbolizes and encapsulates a new trend or direction. Many thought they witnessed exactly such a moment when Chinese President Xi Jinping carried the banner of free trade and fighting climate change at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in January. Appalled by Donald Trump's rejection of the global consensus on climate change and his isolationist rhetoric, Europeans suddenly found themselves outside their traditional value system when thinking about global problems. With the US pursuing a destructive and inward-looking policy, is China picking up the banner of solving the world's most pressing issues as Europe's new partner? Or, in the words of a WEF delegate, German economist Klaus Schwab, "Particularly today, in a world marked by great uncertainty and volatility, the international community is looking to China." Moreover, the recent visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Europe has clearly been an unusually high-profile event. Are we witnessing a realignment of Europe's strategic direction in favor of China? Clearly, China's continued commitment to the Paris Climate Accord is greatly appreciated in Europe. When talking about the vital issues of trade, though, a much closer examination of the facts is necessary. The Trump presidency certainly has reinvigorated the EU's trading agenda - but so far mainly with China's regional rivals. Brussels and Tokyo are envisioning a trade deal by the end of 2017, while the European Parliament recently called for a further deepening of trade relations in the context of the existing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea. Moreover, while the finished text of the FTA with Vietnam is currently legally reviewed as part of the ratification process, negotiations with Australia are about to begin. China-EU trade relations, in the meantime, remain stuck in disagreements over steel subsidies and market entry requirements. Consider security. In order to effectively tackle Islamic State (IS) terrorism and the refugee problem stemming from war-torn Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, the powers Europe primarily engages with are Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US. An EU-China alliance would also not effectively address Europe's second hotspot, the Ukraine crisis. Here, nobody realistically expects that Beijing would bring sufficient pressure to bear on Moscow to return Crimea to Ukraine and pull its troops out of the Donbas. Despite the visible tensions during the NATO summit in May, the alliance and its transatlantic component remain the cornerstone for tackling security for Europe - be it through troop deployments in the Baltic States or through the US-led anti-IS coalition. Third, the strong institutional and personal links that bind Europe and the US together cannot be ignored. It would be next to impossible even for the US president to destroy the bonds that support the transatlantic political relationship, namely decades-long student exchanges, NGO cooperation or family ties. In this context, it is more likely that we are witnessing a bad weather period in the relationship that will give way as soon as Trump leaves office. In the meantime, the European Union might very well do some serious soul searching in the security sphere and consider substantially integrating its defense capabilities and cooperating much more closely in terms of intelligence sharing as well as inter-military defense planning. There is of course potential for increased EU-China cooperation - for example by building local infrastructure and helping African states provide services to their citizens. These longer-term approaches could prevent migration movements toward Europe in the future. As mentioned, Europe will be interested in cooperating in renewable energy and climate-friendly technologies while its companies will certainly have an eye on profiting from Chinese investments in the context of Beijing's widely publicized Belt and Road initiative. The main benefit for China in the context of the current transatlantic woes between Europe and the US is therefore rather in the mental sphere. Even if Beijing might not gain a new ally in the EU, China will gain confidence in its chosen path internally and internationally. It will take time for Europe and the US to again begin doing the same. ^ top ^

China invites Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner to Beijing, sources say (SCMP)
2017-06-20
China has invited US President Donald Trump's daughter and son-in-law to visit later this year, according to people familiar with the matter, in the latest sign of the first family's growing influence over foreign affairs.  Details of the possible trip by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, both of whom have official jobs in the White House, were still under discussion, according to a US official and a Chinese official who asked not to be identified. The visit might also help prepare for a trip by the president himself, said the Chinese official, who asked not be identified disclosing plans that haven't been announced. Kushner and Ivanka Trump hosted the US's newly sworn-in ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, for an introductory dinner on Sunday at the Trump Hotel in Washington, according to the US official, who asked not to be identified confirming a meeting that hasn't been made public. The former Iowa governor, who has known Chinese President Xi Jinping since the 1980s, is expected to depart on Friday and arrive in China next week after meetings in Honolulu. The discussions highlight Trump's reliance on the couple to manage some of the US's thorniest issues. Neither Ivanka Trump, 35, who has been an executive in her father's company and started her own fashion line, or Kushner, a 36-year-old property tycoon, has any prior government experience. Kushner will to travel to the Middle East this week to push for a Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. He also visited Iraq in April. Kushner's family business has been criticised over its use of a visa programme to woo wealthy Chinese with green cards in exchange for investing in US projects. The real estate company has seen talks for three major projects quashed, including negotiations with China's Anbang Insurance Group to refinance the family's marquee Manhattan office tower. Ivanka Trump and Kushner's invitation followed a verbal offer from Xi during his trip to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, the Chinese official said. The timing would depend in part on the date of the Communist Party's twice-a-decade leadership reshuffle, which might also affect planning for any Trump visit, the official said. ^ top ^

German ambassador to China calls for release of pope-chosen bishop (SCMP)
2017-06-20
The German ambassador to China called on authorities on Tuesday to end the apparent confinement of a Catholic bishop and said he was concerned by proposed changes to the country's rules governing religion.  Ambassador Michael Clauss said in a statement posted on the embassy's website that Shao Zhumin appears to have been forced by authorities to move to unknown locations four times over the past year. Shao, who was recognised as a bishop by the pope but not by Beijing, now appears to be confined to his home. “His full freedom of movement should be restored,” Clauss said in the statement. Shao was appointed in September by the Vatican as bishop in the Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, which has a large Christian community. Ever since the officially atheistic communist state cut relations with the Holy See in the 1950s, the Vatican and Beijing have been at loggerheads over who has the right to name bishops in China and other issues governing the church. The Vatican-affiliated AsiaNews website, which closely covers the underground church in China, reported that police had taken Shao away on May 18. Last week, Shao was spotted arriving back at Wenzhou airport, accompanied by government officers who then drove him to an unknown location, AsiaNews reported on Monday. It said his disappearance was believed to be part of an attempt to persuade him to join the Communist Party-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. A woman who answered the phone at Wenzhou's police headquarters declined to respond to questions about Shao's case. An officer in charge of the Catholic Affairs division at the Wenzhou City Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs referred calls to the propaganda department of Wenzhou's Communist Party Committee, where no one answered. China's government has long had an uneasy relationship with Christianity, particularly when it comes to the pope's right to make decisions about canonical matters inside the country. In recent years, authorities in Zhejiang have removed hundreds of crosses and other outward symbols of the Christian faith, saying they violated building codes. Christian associations denounced the campaign as unconstitutional and humiliating. China has an estimated 12 million Catholics, many of whom worship in non-state sanctioned congregations that often overlap with the government-recognised church. Clauss also expressed concern about “a number of new rules” in a draft regulation on religious affairs, without specifying them. “If unchanged, they could place further restrictions on the right to freedom of religion and belief,” the ambassador said. The proposed amendments made public in September have alarmed activists, who say they aim to suppress all unofficial religious activities. They include a clause that says religious sites should meet the requirements of urban planning, a clause that some observers have said is vague and could provide a legal basis for the removal of religious symbols such as crosses. ^ top ^

Xi encourages BRICS countries (China Daily)
2017-06-20
The BRICS countries should push forward with international order to develop in a more fair and reasonable direction, President Xi Jinping said on Monday, while also calling for joint efforts to create a new golden decade for the BRICS bloc. The BRICS members-Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa-each face similar tasks of maintaining stability of development, Xi said while meeting with the emerging nations' foreign ministers in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. "Facing the current chaotic and complicated international situation, the BRICS countries should let your voices be heard," Xi told the ministers. China is the rotating chair country of the BRICS group this year. The BRICS summit will be held in the coastal city of Xiamen, Fujian province, on Sept 3 to 5. Xi called on the BRICS members to carry out the spirit of win-win cooperation, continue to focus on development and firmly adhere to the multilateralism principle and basic norms for international relations. "The BRICS cooperation mechanism has existed for 10 years, and I don't think the color of the BRICS has faded. We will have the new golden decade, and we should have such expectations and confidence," he said. Cooperation among BRICS nations is an innovative practice that has surpassed the outdated mentality of political and military allies, and built the partnership with mutual trust and benefits, Xi said. The ministers expressed gratitude toward China's work as rotating leader of BRICS. They agreed that BRICS members should enhance coordination and cooperation to jointly face various global challenges. The BRICS mechanism should serve as an engine of cooperation among emerging countries and developing nations, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a news conference after the meeting of the five foreign ministers. "The BRICS mechanism does belong not only to the five nations, but also to all emerging market countries and developing nations," Wang said. According to a joint statement issued after the meeting, BRICS countries expect to hold a dialogue meeting between emerging market countries and developing ones during the BRICS summit in September. In the statement, the ministers urged all countries to implement the Paris Agreement under the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. "There is one climate, and, for future generations, we must employ every effort at our disposal to reverse the effects of climate change," South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said at the news conference. The five countries also deplored continued terrorist attacks, including in some BRICS countries. The ministers reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, to make it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of developing countries. They committed to strengthening cooperation among BRICS within the UN and other multilateral institutions through regular meetings among their permanent representatives in New York, Geneva and Vienna. Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said BRICS cooperation has the vitality and potential to promote global economic growth and has contributed more than half the world's GDP. ^ top ^

China-CEEC "16+1 cooperation" mechanism fruitful: Chinese vice premier (Xinhua)
2017-06-19
Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong said here on Monday that the mechanism of "16+1 cooperation" between China and the Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) is fruitful, and has shown strong vitality since its establishment five years ago. Liu made the remarks while attending the opening ceremony of the third CEEC-China health ministers' forum in Budapest along with Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen. Chinese President Xi Jinping has pointed out that China sees the 16+1 cooperation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries as an important gateway to incorporate the Belt and Road Initiative into the European economic circle, Liu noted. She said China is accelerating the construction of a healthier China, and CEE countries are the link of cooperation between Asia and Europe. Deepening the health cooperation between China and CEE countries will not only help to meet global health challenges, but also promote Sino-EU cooperation and the construction of a "healthy silk Road," Liu said. Liu added that over the past two years, the 16+1 health cooperation mechanism has become more mature, featuring multi-regional exchanges and that the level of cooperation became gradually deeper, in several areas. She expressed hope that China and CEE countries will continue to align their policies and deepen pragmatic cooperation in health areas, creating a new situation in China-CEE countries to make greater contributions to the health and well-being of all people and to building a community of common destiny. During the forum, the Budapest Declaration of the third CEEC-China health ministers' forum was launched. ^ top ^

Preventing Sino-EU dialogue rights groups' way of slamming Chinese govt: experts (Global Times)
2017-06-19
Seven human rights organizations on Monday urged the European Union to cancel its human rights dialogue with China, which experts said is one of the ways used to attack the Chinese government and its human rights cause. The European Union should cancel its human rights dialogue with China and suspend such exchanges until the meetings can bring genuine human rights progress, seven human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights in China and Human Rights Watch said on Monday. The next EU-China human rights dialogue is scheduled on Thursday and Friday in Brussels. "The EU has demonstrated no intention, compassion, or strategic vision in stemming the tide of human rights abuses in China," Human Rights Watch said, citing Sophie Richardson, China's director at Human Rights Watch. The request comes after Greece blocked an EU statement at the United Nations criticizing China's human rights record, calling it "unconstructive criticism of China." "Those organizations have always kept a close watch on the old problems in China's history, and new ones as the country developed. They have never responded positively to the country's changes and progress and always attempt to define the country based on a minority view," Li Daojun, a professor at the Law School Research Center for Human Rights of Shandong University, told the Global Times. "Preventing the human rights dialogue is their way of making their presence felt, a customary tactic to attack the Chinese government," Li said. China has achieved great success in protecting human rights, but it admits local governments still need to reflect on their problems, Li explained. The human rights dialogue is not a tribunal for the EU to judge China's human rights cause, but serves as a platform for all countries to communicate, research, analyze and provide valuable solutions to accelerate the development of global human rights, Li added. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at Monday's press conference that China has always maintained that countries should discuss human rights issues based on mutual respect, rather than use human rights issues to interfere in others' internal affairs. ^ top ^

China to pursue peace talks to promote settlement of Syria conflict: envoy (China Daily)
2017-06-18
China has been keeping in touch with concerned parties in Syria in order to achieve a political settlement to the country's long-standing conflict through peace negotiations, a Chinese envoy said here on Saturday. China has kept in touch with all concerned parties in Syria, aiming to restore peace and stability through peace talks, said Xie Xiaoyan, special envoy of the Chinese government on the Syrian issue, at a news briefing in the Chinese embassy in Damascus. "We are in touch with the Syrian government, the opposition, the regional countries, and other powers that are either directly, or indirectly, involved in the Syrian issue, and this is our advantage in mediation," he said. With regard to the political reconciliation process, Xie stressed China's commitment to promoting peace talks and implementing the achievements in Syria. China hopes that involved parties in Syria will achieve reconciliation and eventually form a national reconciliation government, he said. Meanwhile, the envoy pointed out that China has been providing humanitarian assistance within its capacity. China has provided Syria and some other countries in the region with around 680 million yuan (100 million U.S. dollars) of humanitarian aid, including cash, medical equipment, medicine, and food to help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people, he said. Xie stressed that terrorism is the common enemy of the whole world, and Syrian factions, regional countries and the international community should be united in counter-terrorism efforts without employing double standards. Speaking of the deal on de-escalation zones, which went into force in Syria last month and largely helped curb violence in some areas, the envoy said the involved parties had reached a consensus on the establishment of de-escalation zones in the last round of peace talks held in Astana, which was an important step towards resolving Syrian crisis. Xie voiced hope that the concerned parties would nail details of the agreement as soon as possible to bring it into effect. There is no quick solution to the Syrian issue, Xie noted, stressing that all parties should understand each other and make joint efforts to maintain the momentum of the peace talks. "China has patience and confidence to advance settlement of the Syrian issue on the right track through concrete work, so that the crisis could gradually ease before it is finally resolved," he said. During his visit to Damascus on Saturday, Xie exchanged views with Syrian officials on bilateral relations, as well as regional and international issues of common concern. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China drafts law to ban 'rampant abuse' of its national anthem, March of the Volunteers (SCMP)
2017-06-22
Anyone who “abuses” China's national anthem could soon face more than two weeks' detention. Chinese lawmakers are studying the first draft of legislation to punish abuses of the country's national anthem, state media reported. The draft laws would ban people from playing the March of the Volunteers at events such as funerals or as background music in public places, which lawmakers argue reduce the anthem's dignity. Malicious revisions to the lyrics or derogatory performances may also be punished under the proposed legislation by up to 15 days in detention. The legislation also bars use of the anthem in advertisements and any official recordings should only be produced by government-approved organisations. The draft law was unveiled on Thursday and discussed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's legislature. Shen Chunyao, head of legislative affairs for the committee, said the measures were of great significance to maintain national dignity and promote patriotism, according to a statement on the committee's website. There should be a standard version of the anthem and the legislation would help stamp out improper behaviour while it is sung, Shen was quoted as saying. Yu Hai, a conductor for the People's Liberation Army who has been calling for legislation to protect the national anthem, said disrespect and abuse of the composition has been rampant. “Some people even revised it into 'mistress' song', or 'stock investment song',” he was quoted as saying by the Beijing Youth Daily on its social media platform. “I noticed that many college students today can't write down the lyrics and some pupils totally misunderstand it... there are even boos when it's played in public,” said Yu. Hong Kong's football governing body was fined by Fifa in 2015 after local football fans booed during the anthem ahead of World Cup qualifiers. Similar scenes were repeated in another match between Hong Kong and North Korea in November last year when fans chanted “We are Hong Kong!” before the national anthem. Watch: Local soccer fans chant 'We are Hong Kong!' during China national anthem before EAFF game against North Korea( The need for a standard version of the March of the Volunteers was also urgent because it was sometimes played incorrectly during state leaders' visits overseas, said Yu, who is also delegate to China's main political advisory body. More than 10 versions of the anthem are used at present, he said. A Venezuelan military band gave an out-of-tune rendition of the Chinese national anthem when the country's president welcomed China's head of state, Xi Jinping, during his visit to the South American nation three years ago. The March of the Volunteers was first written as a poem by the playwright Tian Han in the 1930s. It was later set to music for the theme song to a patriotic movie. The song was first used as the national anthem in 1949. A new set of lyrics highlighting Mao Zedong and the Communist Party were later added to the tune. Original verses were reinstated to the lyrics in 1982. ^ top ^

China orders websites to remove unlicensed multimedia content about politics and public affairs (Global Times)
2017-06-22
China's media watchdog on Thursday announced it is requiring several websites, including Sina Weibo and AcFun, to shut down its multimedia content for failing to obtain a license and for broadcasting negative social commentaries. A statement published on the website of China's TV and film watchdog said that some websites, including Sina Weibo, AcFun, ifeng.com, did not obtain the administration's license on audio-visual services, and ran content about politics and public affairs against government rules, as well as other content providing negative commentary. Sina Weibo announced late Thursday that users without the license are not allowed to upload audio-visual content, while other video services remain unaffected. The website added that it will enhance the management of multimedia content and further regulate other video services. "It is another government move to strengthen its control on politics and social affairs on the Internet. The regulation will not shut down all their video content, but only to better regulate the Internet and further promote the country's reform," Luo Ping, a media expert with the Communication University of China, told the Global Times. In February, Pear Video, an online platform that produces short videos, was ordered to make changes after producing "exclusive" political news content without a license to publish original content online, make broadcasts and circulate videos. Weibo has about 340 million monthly active users, while AcFun is one of China's major providers of cartoons and anime. ^ top ^

China Focus: China considers changes to public interest litigation rules (Xinhua)
2017-06-22
China has drafted amendments to the administrative and civil procedure laws to allow prosecutors to institute public interest litigation. The draft amendments were given a first reading at the bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, which opened Thursday. Prosecutors are to be allowed to file an administrative lawsuit for abuse of power or nonfeasance in cases concerning protection of environment and resources, food and drug safety, preservation of state assets, and transfer of state-owned land use rights, according to the draft. They may also file civil lawsuits against any act that compromises public rights and interest in cases related to protection of environment and resources, as well as food and drug safety. These areas have a direct bearing on national and public interest, said procurator-general Cao Jianming while explaining the draft amendments to lawmakers. The draft amendment to the Administrative Procedure Law stipulates that prosecutors should make suggestions to government departments and push them to fulfil duties before taking them to court. In July 2015, the Supreme People's Procuratorate began a two-year pilot program allowing prosecutors in 13 provincial divisions to institute public interest litigation in administrative and civil cases. By the end of May 2017, procuratorates had handled 7,886 public interest lawsuits and filed 934 cases in the pilot reform. In 4,358 cases, administrative departments took the initiative to correct the wrongdoings. In all the cases that eventually went to the court, judges have ruled in 222 cases, all in favor of the prosecutors. Prosecutors in the pilot areas helped restore 128,000 hectares of arable lands, forests, wetlands and grasslands, urging more than 1,400 companies to rectify their behavior, and retrieved state assets worth 6.5 billion yuan (950 million U.S. dollars) in the past two years. The practice of engaging prosecutors in public interest litigation has proven to be feasible, and is of great significance to promote rule of law and improve the socialist judicial system with Chinese characteristics, said Cao. "Prosecutors push government departments to perform their duties lawfully by making suggestions before filing a public interest lawsuit against them, which will promote the law-based administration of government," Cao said. Prosecutors' engagement in public interest litigation will safeguard the authority and credibility of law enforcement, he added. Public interest litigation is fairly new in China. For years plaintiffs have been strictly confined to citizens, corporations, and organizations whose interests are directly related to a lawsuit. An amendment to the Civil Procedure Law in 2012 first allowed agencies or organizations to bring litigation against those who undermined public welfare by polluting or infringing on consumers' interests, which was considered a major step forward in creating a public interest litigation system in China. The revision to the Environmental Protection Law in April 2014 continued the process, allowing environmental organizations to institute public interest litigation. Engaging prosecutors in public interest litigation was included in a comprehensive legal reform plan adopted at the fourth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee in 2014. ^ top ^

Draft intelligence law highlights citizen's legal rights protection (Xinhua)
2017-06-22
Lawmakers Thursday deliberated a draft national intelligence law that contains measures to protect the legal rights and interests of individuals and organizations. The draft was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for the second reading at the start of its bi-monthly session. China will protect and honor individuals and organizations who support or coordinate with national intelligence staff, and award those who have made "great contributions" to national intelligence work, it stated. The draft stipulated that national intelligence agencies and their staff are not allowed to take advantage of their positions to seek personal benefits, and anyone found to have done so will be held accountable in accordance with the law. In addition, national intelligence agencies should help individuals and organizations report information to intelligence authorities, while those who attempt to deceive (the public) in the name of national intelligence interest may face criminal charges, it said. A national intelligence law is needed to improve national intelligence work and safeguard national security, lawmakers agreed. The law was first read and deliberated at the top legislature's bi-monthly session in December 2016. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping moves to further consolidate power with pick for committee secretariat's post (SCMP)
2017-06-21
Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken another step towards consolidating power by appointing a member of the top party echelon to a secretariat position in a newly formed committee. Xi held the first plenary meeting of the Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development, a group Xi created in January to foster military and civilian capacity integration, on Tuesday, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Xi is the chairman, and three other Politburo standing committee members – Li Keqiang, Liu Yunshan and Zhang Gaoli – are vice chairmen. However, Zhang, a vice premier and No.7 on the standing committee, is also the director of the general affairs office for the commission. Zhang's position represents a departure from past practice since such posts often are taken by a lower ranking individual, usually a state councillor. It is also unusual for a member of the party's highest decision-making body to take on a secretariat's position. The move also signals a downgrade of Zhang, because in theory, the general secretary of a party is just “the first among equals” in the Politburo standing committee. According to footage of the meeting broadcast by Chinese state television network CCTV, other members of the commission included six Politburo members: Vice Premier Ma Kai, Xi's top advisor Wang Huning, top law-enforcement official Meng Jianzhu, Xi's right-hand man Li Zhanshu and both vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission – Xu Qiliang and Fan Changlong. The commission's purpose is to ensure that China's military needs are met by the nation's industrial base. “Integrated military and civilian development is a major achievement of China's long-term coordinated development of economic and national defence construction,” Xi was quoted by official Xinhua as saying. “It is also a major decision concerning national development and overall security, and a major measure to deal with complicated security threats and gain national strategic advantages.” This commission is just the latest group created by Xi to cement his grip on power. Since taking power four and half years ago, Xi already has made himself the most powerful China leader in decades by having sweeping control over the party, the state, the military and the economy. In October last year, he took on the title of “core” leader of the Communist Party, placing him among strong men like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. A key power reshuffling meeting taking place later this year will decide a new China leadership lineup. Xi has made at least a dozen titles for himself, including roles as head of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms, the Central National Security Commission, the Central Leading Group for Internet Security and Information, and the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs. ^ top ^

China moving toward fully developed credit systems (Global Times)
2017-06-20
Currently, in our society, the lack of credibility is still a very serious issue, which is an objective fact that we must face up to. At the same time, we should also recognize the progress and achievements in construction of credit systems. In fact, our country has already made some important and positive progress in credit building over the years. First, the whole of society has reached a high degree of awareness of the need to establish and improve the social credit system. After 10 years of exploration and practice, China's social credit system is regarded as the basic system for a socialist market economy and an effective economic governance mechanism. From the leaders to the general public, the whole of society now attaches importance to social credit construction. Currently the level of national emphasis on the credit system is unprecedented. The government has adopted the national social credit system construction plan; it has also introduced five State-level documents on credibility construction within the last year, and has basically finished the top-down design of the social credit system. Second, some great progress has been made in basic key areas. Various levels of government have done a lot of work in the construction of the credit system, especially after the introduction of the layout plan in 2014. Our country has established a unified social credit code system, as a basis for corporate and individual credit records in different departments and regions to be shared in the future. Meanwhile, the private sector has also established a corporate credit information publicity system, as well as a joint punishment system to curb dishonesty and a joint encouragement system to reward honesty. On the whole, there has emerged a basic system. Although these systems are still under constant exploration, the effects have already been shown. For instance, under the joint punishment system for dishonesty, once someone is on the blacklist, they will not be able to take high-speed trains or make plane journeys. Given this inconvenience, 10 percent of people on the list started to pay back the money they owed spontaneously. This shows the system is starting to work. Third, the industrial credit system is also making steady progress. With help from the Ministry of Commerce and other departments, the majority of China's State-level trade associations and other self-disciplined organizations are starting to evaluate the credit of the member enterprises and to construct the credit system. This has massively improved industrial credit governance. Fourth, the enterprise credit management system is increasingly complete. Many companies are beginning to establish a credit management system, covering compliance, recruitment, customer management, contract performance and credit commitments. With more and more external restraint on corporate credit, it would be very inconvenient for the companies not to establish a credit system. Meanwhile, in order to adapt to the development of the credit economy, enterprises also need to establish credit risk systems to prevent credit risks. ^ top ^

Activist 'still recovering from torture' inflicted in Chinese prison (SCMP)
2017-06-19
Six months after being released from two-and-a-half years behind bars, former teacher and rights activist Wang Qingying says he is still recovering from the torture inflicted on him while he was custody. And in the past few months, hundreds of mainland lawyers have signed an online petition calling on Beijing to investigate torture claims made by more than a dozen recently released rights lawyers and activists, who were detained in a massive crackdown in 2015. Critics and rights groups said that despite China ratifying the UN Convention against Torture in 1988, physical abuse was still common against people in police custody and in detention centres. They called on Beijing to properly investigate the problem. The ministries of public security and justice, which manage detention centres and prisons, did not reply to faxed questions about torture allegations. Wang, who was arrested in 2014 along with former rights lawyer Tang Jingling and activist Yuan Chaoyang in Guangzhou, recalled how he was abused by investigators from the beginning. “On the first day, Guangzhou security agents forced a water pipe into my rear end after a house search for evidence, with both male and female policemen mocking me on the scene. “I was often given only mouthfuls of water a day … I was tied to a chair [and] had to relieve myself in one pair of pants for eight days in a row,” Wang said at his home in Guangzhou, adding that he had been repeatedly beaten. He still cannot sit properly and makes frequent trips to the toilet. He said he was afflicted with paranoia by the time he was released in November. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group said at least 15 people detained in the 2015 crackdown had reported in person or via family members that they were tortured in jail. The prisoners, some of whom had been released on probation, said they were subjected to abuse that included beatings, the forced feeding of medication, sleep deprivation and prolonged periods in restraining devices. Fan Lili – the wife of Christian activist Gou Hongguo, who was sentenced by a Tianjin court to a three-year jail term with a three-year suspension last year – said Guo was force-fed medication from the first day of his arrest in Beijing on July 10, 2015. The medication was meant to “treat high blood pressure and correct digestive function”, according to Fan. “Everyday began with four pills in the morning – one red and three white– and two white ones in the evening. The quantity may have been adjusted from time to time,” Fan said. Authorities have disputed some torture allegations. In May, the police department in Changsha, Hunan province, released a video of a detained former rights lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, denying claims that he was being tortured in custody. However, the police rejected eight requests by his lawyers to visit him. Dr Sophie Richardson, China Director of Human Rights Watch, said torture allegations should be properly investigated and prosecuted. “Although the Chinese government has since 2009 adopted measures to curb torture by police, those have not gone far enough to combat abuses,” Richardson said. She also urged Chinese authorities to allow the presence of suspects' lawyers during interrogations and to hold police accountable for abuse. William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International, said the persistence of torture in China was entrenched. “This should also be seen in the wider context of the government taking other horrific measures to get people to confess: putting lawyers and activists in [home] incommunicado detention that the UN has told China to get rid of, putting extreme pressure on family members of the detained to confess or simply harassing them, and subjecting the detainees to forced televised confessions,” Nee said. Dr Teng Biao, a legal scholar living in exile, said “there's no sign of easing” of the practice of torture on the mainland. “Torture in China is institutional, rather than an individual practice of certain law enforcement officers,” Teng said. ^ top ^

Inspection reveals weakening Party leadership, corruption risks in universities (SCMP)
2017-06-16
Discipline inspectors sent by central authorities have found problems such as weakened Party leadership and corruption risks in some Chinese universities. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) said in a statement Friday that the 12th round of inspections of 14 universities including Peking, Tsinghua, Zhejiang and Xi'an Jiaotong universities found that the CPC leadership in these institutions has weakened. CPC committees in these universities have not done sufficient work to act as the core in leading their universities, the statement said, criticizing some universities that failed to thoroughly implement the Party's major education policies and others that just did a perfunctory job. Inspectors found that Party committees in some universities did not carry out serious intra-Party political life and their Party building activities have also been weakened. Leading officials of some universities did not faithfully report their personal information, and some had violated rules by running businesses, according to the statement. The statement also criticized problems of nepotism and faking personal information documents. Moreover, the inspection exposed that most of the universities failed to strictly observe the Party's eight-point anti-extravagance rules, noting violations such as misusing public funds on overseas trips and receptions as well as using public vehicles for private purposes. The statement further noted corruption risks in many universities. Such risks may occur in the fields such as university-run businesses, infrastructure construction, asset management, and use of research funding, it said. "Some university resources have been used to seek illicit benefits, and some officials and workers have traded their power for personal interests," the statement said. The inspectors have told the Party committees of the concerned universities to improve their political awareness, strengthen Party building, and enhance supervision of corruption-prone sectors. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

US university fails to teach students correct history of Tibet (Global Times)
2017-06-20
The University of California San Diego (UCSD) invited the 14th Dalai Lama to address the graduating students at commencement recently. The Dalai Lama has long been active in anti-China separatist activities under the guise of religion, but UCSD, to the dismay of Chinese students, called the political figure in exile "a man of peace." Inviting a separatist to a graduation ceremony is not a responsible educational behavior. The person behind the invitation was campus Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, an Indian American. Obviously, Khosla has put much effort into glossing over the Dalai Lama, attempting to shape the exiled separatist into a Nelson Mandela-like figure. As the head of one of the top research universities in the world, Khosla should respect history and offer students the true picture of Tibet, but regrettably he utilizes freedom of speech to veil his intentions to support Tibet independence. Some Chinese overseas students have been making efforts to introduce the history of Tibet and the Dalai Lama's political intentions to their American peers, but faced political prejudice. This, evidently, reflects the bias in US educational institutes. Many local students of UCSD have never been to China, don't understand the Chinese language, and have little knowledge of the geographic location of Tibet, let alone the region's history. This reflects the failure of the university's historical education, and is also a reason why Khosla's "ignorance" goes without a hitch in the university. How can students cultivated in such an environment learn how to communicate with China? This is a concern for us. Khosla must bear the consequences for this. The present-day China is no longer merely a listener to the US. The first China-US Diplomatic and Security Dialogue kicks off on Wednesday in Washington. China and the US now are on an equal footing regarding mutual dialogue. An influx of Chinese students have gone to the US for study in order to make better contributions to China's development, while it's an inevitable trend that an increasing number of US students will have to deal with China in future. Future US development is inseparable from China. If the history education the American students receive remains outdated and full of imperial perspectives, what these American students will encounter in the future is foreseeable. Don't naively believe that China will acquiesce to the chancellor of UCSD. His support for Tibet independence will affect his personal and the university's exchanges with China. Chinese universities will take cooperative programs with it into prudent reconsideration. It's suggested that relevant Chinese authorities not issue visas to the chancellor and not recognize diplomas or degree certificates issued by the university in China. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Meet incoming Hong Kong leader's hand-picked executive team (and this time there are a few surprises) (SCMP)
2017-06-23
A day after unveiling no-surprise cabinet, Hong Kong's leader-in-waiting Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor introduced several new faces to her top executive body, including a moderate pan-democrat and a finance heavyweight. The appointment of non-official members to the Executive Council on Thursday contrasted with the chief executive-elect's cabinet announcement, which was said to contain no surprises as all but one minister were either inherited from predecessor Leung Chun-ying's team or recruited from the civil service. Exco, comprising the principal ministers and 16 non-official members, works with the chief executive to improve policies that have been discussed in policy bureaus to ensure successful passage in the Legislative Council. The members work on the principles of confidentiality and collective responsibility. If the chief executive does not accept a majority opinion from Exco, he has to put the specific reasons on record. Incumbent Exco member Bernard Chan, also the head of Lam's campaign office, has been elevated to convenor of the top government decision-making body. Lam also broke away from Leung's practice of not appointing pan-democrats to Exco by picking former lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah. Tong quit the Civic Party in 2015 and later founded middle-of-the-road think tank Path of Democracy. Finance heavyweight Joseph Yam Chi-kwong, former chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, is another newcomer, while Laura Cha Shih May-lung, who chairs the Financial Services Department Council, will remain. Lam earlier dubbed Chan, Yam and Cha as the trio that she could rely upon on when it came to financial affairs. New People's Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who quit Exco last year to join the chief executive race, will also make a comeback, backtracking on an earlier pledge. Ip, who had failed to garner sufficient nominations to run for the top post, had once said that she was not interested in joining Exco as a non-official member or becoming chief secretary. Asked about her decision to return, Ip said: “I did not go to ask to be appointed. [Carrie Lam] invited me to join, so I accepted the invitation.” She said she had consulted her party and hoped her Exco membership would help expand NPP's influence at the higher levels of government. “For a political party, it cannot confine its role to only barking, biting, attacking the government,” Ip said, adding that she appreciated that as an Exco member, she needed to support the government's policies. Legislator Wong Kwok-kin will succeed Cheng Yiu-tong as the Beijing-friendly Federation of Trade Unions' representative in Exco. Another new face is Lam Ching-choi, head of NGO Haven of Hope Christian Service. He is chairman of the government's Elderly Commission. Lawmaker Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, a key member of Lam's campaign, and ex-legislator Ip Kwok-him will represent the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, alongside Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung and Kenneth Lau Ip-keung of the Business and Professionals Alliance. Lau is also chairman of rural body Heung Yee Kuk. Meanwhile, Martin Liao Cheung-kong, the convenor of the pro-establishment camp; the Liberal Party's Tommy Cheung Yu-yan; and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing chairman Chow Chung-kong will remain. Two trusted allies of the outgoing chief executive – Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung and Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun – will also stay on. Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said of his former party colleague's appointment: “I am not sure why Ronny Tong was appointed. But if [Carrie Lam] wants to enhance communication with the pan-democrats [with Tong's appointment], I'd like to say that Tong cannot represent the pan-democrats. When he quit the Civic Party, he said he would seek a third road.” Yeung also questioned if there would be a conflict of roles with so many legislators appointed to Exco, where members are supposed to hold collective responsibility for government decisions and to support government policies. “I doubt that those lawmakers can continue to perform the role of monitoring the government in their role as elected public representatives,” Yeung said. In response to Yeung's remarks, Tong said: “My task is not to represent anyone but to give a different perspective to the administration and act as a bridge. Whether I can do that depends on whether anyone is willing to cross that bridge.” Another new appointee, FTU's Wong Kwok-kin, said he appreciated the need for collective responsibility for Exco members. “But that does not mean I have to toe the government line when there is voting in Legco,” Wong said when asked if he would support controversial labour policies on issues such as standard working hours if they were put to a vote in Legco after being endorsed by Exco. As the chief executive is barred from having any party affiliation and thus does not have a solid supporting base in the legislature, it is common practice for the leader to name representatives from different parties to Exco in a bid to ensure that bills and policies will be approved in the Legislative Council.

Full list of non-official Exco members
Convenor:
Bernard Chan, president, Asia Financial Holdings
Members:
Ronny Tong Ka-wah, barrister, former Civic Party lawmaker, convenor of Path of Democracy*
Joseph Yam Chi-kwong, former Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive*
Lam Ching-choi, Elderly Commission chairman*
Laura Cha Shih May-lung, independent non-executive director of HSBC, former China Securities Regulatory Commission vice-chairman
Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, University of Hong Kong council chairman, former education minister
Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, former government official and director of Leung Chun-ying's election campaign
Chow Chung-kong, chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing
From pro-establishment parties:
Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, New People's Party chairwoman
Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker*
Ip Kwok-him, former DAB lawmaker
Wong Kwok-kin, Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker*
Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, Business and Professionals Alliance lawmaker
Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, Heung Yee Kuk chairman*
Martin Liao Cheung-kong, Legco pro-establishment camp convenor
Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, Liberal Party chairman. ^ top ^

Basic Law 're-education' urged by Beijing's former top man in Hong Kong (SCMP)
2017-06-22
Beijing's top man in Hong Kong during the city's handover to China two decades ago has urged “re-education” for citizens in constitutional matters and greater emphasis on their obligations to the country.  Zhou Nan, former director of the official Xinhua News Agency's Hong Kong branch – Beijing's de facto embassy before 1997 – said the city's implementation of the Basic Law had “not been comprehensive enough”. “There should be re-education in the Basic Law,” Zhou told reporters in Beijing, suggesting that original instructional efforts had placed “too much emphasis on 'two systems' while largely ignoring 'one country', causing quite some confusion among the public”. He was speaking a week before Hong Kong marks 20 years under Chinese rule on July 1. Under Beijing's commitment to the “one country, two systems” policy, the city is guaranteed a high degree of autonomy. While critics complain that Hong Kong's freedoms have been eroded due to Beijing's interference in the city's affairs, state leaders have been alarmed at the emergence of independence advocacy and stressed the need for national identity and pride, especially among the city's youth. “It hurts my heart to hear Hong Kong youth claiming they are not Chinese,” Zhou said. “But I don't blame the young people. I think it has more to do with 150 years of colonial rule and education.” Zhou, a former deputy foreign minister who played a prominent role in the 1980s in negotiations with Britain over Hong Kong's future, said Beijing would not soften its stance to gain wider political support in the city. “We must uphold a clear-cut stance. As Mao put it, unity gained with compromise dies quickly,” he said, quoting the late Chinese leader who had argued that courting allies with compromise showed weakness and impaired political dominance. Zhou alluded to the controversy last year, when two newly elected localist lawmakers were disqualified for distorting their oaths with anti-China slogans, in arguing that support for Beijing had grown in the former British colony. China's top legislature controversially stepped in to interpret the mini-constitution and make such conduct punishable by disqualification. “After the National People's Congress interpreted the Basic Law last year, we won considerable support from the middle.” But the move triggered an outcry among Hong Kong's legal community, which raised concerns about judicial independence being compromised. Zhou said he believed Beijing would not leave the city to decide everything on its own, describing it as a “convenient” base that could be used by the West to subvert Chinese sovereignty. “There are lots of anti-mainland publications in Hong Kong, and mainland tourists are the main target audience,” he said. “It seems quite obvious to me what their purpose is.” When asked about Beijing's plans for Hong Kong after 2047, when the 50 years of one country, two systems promised by Beijing expires, Zhou said changes in the central government's policy towards the city were possible. “The problem is whether 'one country, two systems' will be adjusted. That will depend on China's development. But [the fact] that Hong Kong is part of China will not change, be it 3047 or 4047,” he said. ^ top ^

Mainland, HKSAR sign arrangement in matrimonial cases to promote mutual legal assistance (Xinhua)
2017-06-20
China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) and the Department of Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) signed here on Tuesday an arrangement on reciprocal recognition and enforcement of civil judgments in matrimonial and family cases, marking a new milestone in promoting mutual legal assistance between the two places. The Arrangement on Reciprocal Recognition and Enforcement of Civil Judgments in Matrimonial and Family Cases by the Courts of the Mainland and of the HKSAR (the Arrangement), which aims to ensure that parties in the HKSAR and the Mainland can enforce relevant civil judgments in matrimonial and family cases through a clear and effective legal regime, was signed by the SPC Executive Vice President Shen Deyong and the HKSAR Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Shen said that after taking effect, the Arrangement can bring more tangible benefits to people in the two places by remarkably reducing the burden of multiplicity of suits on the one hand, and further enhance judicial mutual trust between the two places on the other, Shen said. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary for Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the signing can be seen as another significant effort to implement and enrich the principle of "one country, two systems" in the form of legal documents, he said, expressing hope that legal profession in the two places continue to uphold the principle of "one country, two systems," scrupulously observe the Constitution and the Basic Law, and work for an overall system of mutual legal assistance. Yuen said that the negotiation and signing of the Arrangement once again demonstrates that the differences between the two places' legal systems are no obstacle to cooperation, if both sides can foster mutual understanding and mutual respect in accordance with the spirit of the "one country, two systems" policy. "Not only is the signing of the Arrangement today an important milestone in the context of mutual legal assistance between the two places, it is also the most recent example of the successful implementation of the Basic Law," he said. In view of factors including the rising number of cross-boundary marriages and the increasing proportion of families having assets in both the Mainland and Hong Kong, different sectors in the two places generally agree that there is a pressing need to make an arrangement on reciprocal recognition and enforcement of civil judgments in matrimonial and family cases, Yuen said. He added that such an arrangement can provide clearer legal protection for relevant family members, especially underage children, when problems arise from such marriages, and the parties' legal rights will not be prejudiced by cross-boundary factors or differences between the two legal systems. The Arrangement will cover orders on individual identity and relationships, maintenance orders, custody orders in respect of children and protection orders in cases involving domestic violence. After the signing ceremony, local legislative procedure will be commenced so as to implement the Arrangement. Yuen said that the mutual legal assistance between the two places in civil and commercial matters entered a new stage in March last year when the SPC signed minutes with the Department of Justice agreeing to actively take forward works on three aspects, including the Arrangement on Mutual Taking of Evidence in Civil and Commercial Matters signed in December last year, as well as the Arrangement signed on Tuesday. "In order to expand the scope of recognition and enforcement of judgements on civil and commercial matters, we will study the feasibility of using a framework arrangement to further cover different types of court judgments on civil and commercial matters," he added. Yuen pointed out that there are differences between the legal and judicial systems of Hong Kong and those of the Mainland, but that does not mean that there cannot be effective mutual legal assistance. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan soothed by US arms sales support after Panama picks Beijing over Taipei (SCMP)
2017-06-16
Taiwan has welcomed calls by lawmakers in the United States for the Trump administration to speed up arms sales to the island. The calls came after the central American nation Panama announced this week that it was switching ties from Taipei to Beijing, dealing a political blow to the island. The Taiwanese authorities, including the foreign ministry and the Mainland Affairs Council, have expressed appreciation for the call for speedier arms sales made by members of the US House of Representatives during a meeting on US-Taiwan ties. They see it as a timely boost as Beijing tries to woo away the island's allies. But analysts said the gesture of support and recent remarks by the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis were more aimed at boosting confidence levels in Taiwan rather than signalling concrete measures to help the island. Ed Royce, the chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the hearing in Washington on Thursday: “I remain concerned about successive administrations' delays in arms sales notification for Taiwan, which have needlessly dragged out the arms sales process.” Royce said he hoped to see regular notifications in the future and looked forward to the announcement of new sales this year. US President Donald Trump is crafting a big new arms package this year for Taiwan, which may include advanced rocket systems and anti-ship missiles, unnamed US officials told the Reuters news agency in March. Previous reports said the package could be larger than the US$1.8 billion arms sales authorised by former US president Barack Obama at the end of his administration in December 2015, the first US arms deal to the island in four years. Tillerson said on Wednesday the Trump administration was committed to the Taiwan Relations Act, which underscores the US supply of defence equipment to the island. Mattis also said in his opening remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum held in Singapore earlier this month that his department remained steadfastly committed to working with Taiwan to provide the defence equipment it needs. Christine Hsueh, director of North American affairs at Taiwan's foreign ministry, called the remarks by the senior US officials and congressmen “rather positive”, indicating the Trump administration has “high intention to abide by its security commitment for Taiwan”. Chiu Chui-cheng, the vice-chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, said he hoped the US would continue to supply arms to Taiwan in line with the Taiwan Relations Act. “Our President Tsai Ing-wen has many times called on the US side to supply appropriate arms for Taiwan in an effort to maintain cross-strait and regional stability,” he said. “It is the obligation for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to maintain cross-strait and regional stability and we hope Beijing can seek to resolve our disputes through dialogue.” Beijing has suspended talks and any exchanges with Taipei since Tsai from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May last year. She has refused to accept the 1992 consensus – an agreement between the mainland and Taiwan which states that there is only one China, but each side can have its own interpretation of what that means. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway Chinese province. To step up pressure on Tsai's government, Beijing has wooed away the island's allies, including Panama and the African state of Sao Tome and Principe in December last year. Beijing has also warned the US and other countries against selling arms to Taiwan and previous American munitions sales to the island have been met with strong protests from the mainland. Rupert Hammond-Chambers, the president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, recommended at the meeting in Washington on Thursday that Trump invite Taiwan to become a partner in the procurement process for the F-35 stealth fighter programme, while simultaneously integrating Taiwan's industry into the aircraft's supply chain. Taiwan analysts said the remarks from Tillerson and Mattis were not a firm signal that the Trump administration would soon confirm new US arms sales to Taiwan. “It can only show that the voice of support for Taiwan is strong, but further discussion of the arms package between Taipei and Washington are still needed,” said Andrew Yang, a former defence minister in Taiwan and the secretary general of the China Council of Advanced Policy Studies. Yang said the two sides were likely to discuss the arms package next month. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

North Korea still a sticking point after China-US dialogue (SCMP)
2017-06-23
Washington's frustration with Beijing over the handling of North Korea is poised to grow, as senior officials from the two nations did not make much headway on reining in Pyongyang after wrapping up high-level talks. While Beijing reiterated its compliance with UN resolutions amid allegations on Thursday about Chinese companies helping North Korea evade international sanctions, both sides appear to have failed to reach a consensus on getting tougher on the North. They also had “direct and candid” discussions on other issues, such as combating global terrorism and China's human rights record, but US Secretary of Defence James Mattis admitted after the one-day talks in Washington that there remained “disconnects” between the two sides over issues including the South China Sea. The diplomatic and security dialogue was attended by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Mattis, and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Central Military Commission vice-chairman General Fang Fenghui. Frustration was growing in the administration of US President Donald Trump that China had not done enough to help the US pile pressure on North Korea, Bonnie Glaser of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said. Speaking at a joint briefing with Tillerson, Mattis echoed Trump, who said in a tweet that China's efforts on North Korea had “not worked out”. Noting that both sides agreed that “our companies should not do business with any UN-designated North Korean entities in accordance with these [UN] resolutions”, Tillerson said Beijing had “diplomatic responsibility” to exert pressure on Pyongyang. A statement from the Chinese foreign ministry said Yang had reiterated Beijing's stance during the talks that denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula must be resolved through dialogue, and called on the US to stop military drills targeting Pyongyang. It reaffirmed its opposition to a controversial deployment of a US anti-missile system in South Korea, just days ahead of President Moon Jae-in's visit to Washington next week. Tillerson's remarks laid bare the discord between China and the US on how to handle North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, observers said. The Trump administration was preparing to sanction Chinese firms that facilitated money laundering and other illicit activities by North Korea, Glaser said. “If Beijing doesn't work much more actively to stop these activities, and also take other measures such as reducing crude oil exports, I think that there is likely to be more friction between the US and China over North Korea,” she said. The US had also provided China with a list of people or bodies that allegedly support Pyongyang's missile and nuclear weapons network, Tillerson told a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week. Heather Nauert, a US State Department spokeswoman, declined to comment on whether China had agreed to curb trading by the groups on the list. Zhang Liangui, of the Central Party School in Beijing, said Tillerson's message towards China was unusually harsh. “It showed Washington understands, albeit reluctantly, its campaign to exert 'maximum pressure' on North Korea stands little chance of success if China continues to oppose or stall such an effort,” Zhang said. “I think Tillerson wants to increase pressure on Beijing by indicating that when such peaceful means are exhausted, military options will [be] considered. “China is in an awkward position at the moment because its proposal has long been explicitly rejected by both North Korea and the US. Beijing has yet to put forward an alternative plan detailing what options it has if North Korea refuses to return to the negotiating table,” he said. ^ top ^

US, China agree to stop firms from doing business with North Korea over nuclear threat, Tillerson says (SCMP)
2017-06-22
China and the US held high-level security talks on Wednesday and called on North Korea to halt its missile and nuclear programme, despite US President Donald Trump's tweeted claim a day earlier that Beijing's efforts to rein in Pyongyang have “not worked out”. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at a press conference after the talks that the US has made a commitment to hold North Korea accountable for multiple violations of UN Security Council resolutions that “explicitly prohibited its nuclear weapon and missile programme”. “We both agreed that our companies should not do business with any UN-designated North Korean entities in accordance with these resolutions,” Tillerson said. China restated its position that the Korean peninsula should be denuclearised, but added that the issue should be resolved through dialogue, according to a statement released by the Chinese embassy in the US. The statement also restated China's opposition to the deployment of a US developed anti-missile shield in South Korea. Tillerson reiterated the Trump administration's argument that China has the “diplomatic responsibility to exert pressure greater to prevent further escalation in the region”. The two nations' inaugural diplomatic and security dialogue in Washington came as tension in the Korean peninsula has risen after Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American student held by North Korea for nearly 18 months, died six days after returning to the US on June 13. During the joint press conference with Tillerson, US Defence Secretary James Mattis accused North Korea of being “beyond any kind of understanding of law and order and humanity”. He added that Trump's sentiments in his Twitter post represented “American people's frustrations with the [North Korean] regime [which] provokes and provokes, and basically plays outside the rules”. Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday that China's efforts to bring a resolution to the North Korea crisis had “not worked out”, adding: “At least I know China tried!” Mattis said the US and China both reaffirmed that the North Korean nuclear and missile programme was an urgent threat and both pledged a strong commitment to cooperate on the shared goal of denuclearising the Korean peninsula. “Meanwhile we will take necessary actions to defend ourselves and our allies,” he said. Tillerson said he was unable to provide an update on the status of the other three Americans currently held in North Korea. Abraham Denmark, former US deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia, who stepped down in January, said: “It is only a matter of time before the president realises that China is not going to solve this problem.” Denmark added that additional sanctions from the US, including against Chinese companies with alleged links with North Korea, were “certainly possible”. The Trump administration has also provided China with a list of people or bodies that allegedly support Pyongyang's missile and nuclear weapons network, which Beijing needs to take action against, Tillerson told a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week. A Chinese-based company, Mingzheng International Trading, is accused of laundering money on behalf of the Foreign Trade Bank, a North Korean lender subject to sanctions, the US Attorney's office in the District of Columbia said last Thursday. Heather Nauert, a US State Department spokeswoman, declined to comment after the US press conference on whether China had agreed to curb the cited Chinese groups' trading with North Korea. Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a security policy focused think tank in Washington, said: “Frustration is growing in the administration that China is not [doing] enough in this regard.” Glaser added that if Beijing does not work more actively to stop these activities or take other measures such as reducing crude oil exports, there was likely to be more friction between the US and China over North Korea. In signs reflecting the two nations tensions over China's more assertive claims in the South China Sea, Tillerson said the US opposed the “militarisation” of disputed waters in the region and “excessive maritime claims unsupported by international law”. The US would “uphold the freedom of navigation and overflight”, he said. China called on the US not to take sides over the disputes and respect China's territorial sovereignty, the Chinese embassy statement said. ^ top ^

US could be tougher on NK after Warmbier's death (Global Times)
2017-06-20
The death of US student Otto Warmbier a few days after his medical evacuation from North Korea may escalate tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, and this could lead to increased US pressure on China to impose more sanctions on the regime, analysts said. Warmbier, 22, a student at the University of Virginia, died a week after returning home from North Korea in a coma-like state. He was arrested in North Korea in January 2016 for trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel wall, and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in March 2016. North Korea said that it had released Warmbier "on humanitarian grounds," claiming he had contracted botulism, a rare illness that causes paralysis, and was given a sleeping pill that led to his coma. His family said he was subjected to "awful torturous mistreatment," the BBC reported. US doctors said he appeared to have suffered from respiratory arrest leading to severe brain damage and had no signs of botulism. US President Donald Trump condemned North Korea in a statement on Tuesday, saying that Warmbier's death had deepened his administration's resolve "to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency." Pyongyang is still holding three US citizens, all of Korean descent. "The incident may push Trump to end the US policy of strategic patience and take tougher measures against North Korea. The US used to pressure North Korea via China and did not want to interfere directly too much. But it may turn to direct pressure in the near future, including armed attacks after this incident," Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times. Jin Canrong, associate dean of the Department of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, said that the incident comes at a very bad time for any kind of positive interaction between the US and North Korea, and the US may instead opt for military action. The US flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday in a show of force against North Korea, The New York Times cited a South Korean officials as saying. Zheng said he also expects the US to put more pressure on China for specific sanctions against North Korea, including on trade, travel and issues related to defectors. He added that China's travel agencies offering tours to North Korea might be the first to be affected. Young Pioneer Tours, a travel agency based in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province which took Warmbier into North Korea, said in a statement on Tuesday that it will no longer be organizing tours for US citizens to North Korea as "the assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high." The agency is operated largely by expats and describes North Korea as "probably one of the safest places on Earth to visit." Beijing-based travel agency Koryo Tours, which also provides trips to North Korea, said on its website on Tuesday that "we hope that everyone inside and outside of North Korea comes to know the full and true story of what happened to Otto." The incident may also lead other countries to stand by the US and bring more global sanctions, Zheng said, noting that "during the summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Trump in late June, it's possible that South Korea will follow the US and impose sanctions." However, Lü Chao, an expert on Korean Studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, called for restraint from all parties, urging the US to lodge its appeal in legal ways and North Korea to shoulder the responsibility for Warmbier's death and adopt a "correct attitude" to revealing the truth to the student's family. Warmbier's death has also brought sympathy and anger from Chinese citizens. Reports about the student's death on Sina Weibo have received millions of comments. Many Net users slammed North Korea's tyranny and claimed that they will not go to such a "horrible country." ^ top ^

Donald Trump blames 'brutal' North Korea for death of American student Otto Warmbier (SCMP)
2017-06-20
Otto Warmbier, the US student released in a coma last week after nearly 18 months in detention in North Korea, died on Monday, leading President Donald Trump to decry the “brutal regime” in Pyongyang. The 22-year-old was medically evacuated to the United States on Tuesday last week, suffering from severe brain damage. He died six days later surrounded by relatives in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. “The awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible,” the family said in a statement announcing Warmbier's death. The young man was on a tourist trip when he was arrested and sentenced in March last year to 15 years hard labour for stealing a political poster from a North Korean hotel, a punishment the United States decried as far out of proportion to his alleged crime. Trump lashed out at Pyongyang following news of his death, voicing compassion for his family. “It's a brutal regime,” he said during a White House event. “Bad things happened but at least we got him home to his parents.” In a separate written statement, Trump said, “Otto's fate deepens my Administration's determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.” “The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.” Earlier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for the release of other Americans being held by Pyongyang: “We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier's unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained.” ' Doctors last week revealed that Warmbier had suffered severe neurological injuries, and described him as being in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness”, opening his eyes and blinking, but showing no signs of understanding language or of being aware of his surroundings. His family said on Monday that he first appeared anguished when he first arrived home, but died “at peace”, Kim Jong-un's government claimed Warmbier fell into a coma soon after he was sentenced last year, saying the college student had contracted botulism and been given a sleeping pill. Medical tests carried out last week in the United States offered no conclusive evidence as to the cause of his neurological injuries, and no evidence of a prior botulism infection. Warmbier's doctors said he had suffered extensive tissue loss in all regions of his brain, but showed no signs of physical trauma. They said that given his young age, Warmbier's severe brain injury was most likely caused by cardiopulmonary arrest cutting the blood supply to the brain. Warmbier's release came amid mounting tensions with Washington following a series of missile tests by Pyongyang, focusing attention on an arms buildup that Pentagon chief James Mattis has dubbed “a clear and present danger to all”. The young man's death also brought attention to North Korea's human rights record. A Washington-based charity tied Warmbier's fate to many others “starved, tortured, brutalised and killed in North Korea's political prison camps”. “Millions of unknown North Koreans are subjected to the brutality of the Kim regime,” the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea said in a statement. Warmbier's father, Fred, lashed out at North Korea last week, telling a news conference, “there is no excuse for any civilised nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long”. In a statement on Monday, Warmbier's family said it believed the young man had found a peace of sorts after being flown home. “When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable – almost anguished,” it said. “Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed – he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.” Three more US citizens are currently being held by North Korea. Two were teachers at a Pyongyang university funded by overseas Christian groups, and the third a Korean-American pastor who was accused of espionage for the South. The harsher tone adopted by the US following Warmbier's death may get support from China, North Korea's closest ally. “Pyongyang's gross human rights violations will further deteriorate the strategic credit quality of North Korea as an asset for China that has occurred under the Kim Jong-un government,” said Thomas Byrne, president of the New York-based Korea Society. Tomorrow, Tillerson and Mattis will welcome State Councillor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, the PLA's chief of staff, to the State Department. Susan Thornton, the US acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said this first edition of the new “US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue” would focus on North Korea. “We continue to urge China to exert its unique leverage as North Korea's largest trading partner, including by fully implementing all UN Security Council sanctions,” she said, referring to efforts to halt Pyongyang's nuclear programme. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Unemployed rate decreased to 9.1 percent (Montsame)
2017-06-22
The unemployment rate of Mongolia reached an all time high of 11.6 percent in the first quarter of 2016 with 143 thousand unemployed people. Within the framework of the Government's policies on improving livelihoods and restoring the economy through creation of jobs, multiple job creating projects and programs have been implemented. As a result, the unemployed rate has reduced down to 9.1 percent with 115 thousand unemployed people in the first quarter of 2017.  Specifically, in order to promote light industry through agriculture, USD 420 thousand worth of low-interest rate loans were granted to 10 major national manufacturers, such as “Gobi” JSC, “Denimon” textiles, “Khan-Brand” milk factory, “Mongolian Cattle” meat factory and “Zurgaan Khoshuu” pig farm. These national brands are expected to create more than 1800 jobs and 40 percent of them will be for women. Presently, three Mongolian companies are aiming to establish co-branding agreement with world-renowned brands by the fourth quarter of 2020. ^ top ^

Campaign donation for S.Ganbaatar under investigation (UB Post)
2017-06-22
A short video is being shared on social media that appears to capture Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party presidential candidate S.Ganbaatar meeting with a Korean speaker about a donation of 50 million KRW for his election campaign. Bayanzurkh District resident N.Baasanjargal and an NGO claim that they have filed a request with district's General Election Commission (GEC) to investigate whether or not S.Ganbaatar accepted a donation from a South Korean national. The GEC does not have the authority to review reported violations of the Election Law, so the police and state prosecutor will review the claim. Senior GEC official D.Bat-Erdene stated that South Korean citizen Yoo Wan Soo confirmed that he donated 50 million KRW to S,Ganbaatar's election campaign, and that the GEC has submitted a report to the National Policy Agency of Mongolia. If investigators find that S.Ganbaatar received a donation from a foreigner, he will be disqualified from the presidential race. ^ top ^

Rio Tinto in search of next Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia
2017-06-22
Mining giant Rio Tinto and its Canadian affiliate Turquoise Hill are once again exploring Mongolia's metals-rich Gobi desert, following the country's renewed efforts to attract foreign investment, said www.mining.com. Last month, the landlocked country bordering China and Russia decided to open more than one-fifth of its territory for mining exploration, hoping to shore up its finances following an International Monetary Fund-led bailout. Mongolia's renewed efforts to attract foreign investment it's bearing its first fruits. Since mining accounts for around 25% of Mongolia's GDP and more than 80%of exports, experts believe that increasing mining exploration could potentially raise the Asian nation's GDP and economic security. Mongolia also revoked a controversial banking law that would have required companies including Rio Tinto — the country's biggest investor — to funnel all sales revenues from foreign investment projects through local banks and proposed the wider exploration area. "I can confirm that we have an exploration drilling programme in licenses outside of the Oyu Tolgoi licenses," Turquoise Hill spokesperson Tony Shaffer told Reuters Tuesday. The Rio-controlled firm holds a 66% stake in the Oyu Tolgoi project. The Mongolian government owns the rest. While Oyu Tolgoi is the country's highest profile mining operation, Mongolia hosts a number of other copper, gold and coal mines and projects, including Canada's Erdene Resource Development, the company that literally struck gold earlier this year after finding its new gold project was richer than previously thought. Australian explorer Xanadu Mines is also among the established companies in Mongolia, with its underway Kharmagtai copper-gold project, south-east of Ulaanbaatar, returning exceptional results in the first months of this year. ^ top ^

Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security concludes (Montsame)
2017-06-16
The fourth Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security, an international conference took place on June 15 and 16. Foreign Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil made a briefing on the result of the conference for the media. Foreign Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil said “The conference discussed Northeast Asian cooperation on energy and the issues concerning water. Water is becoming foremost issue in the world. Just a few days ago, the Security Council of United Nations has discussed water issues for the first time. Therefore, we agreed to further discuss the issue”. Within the framework of the conference, the current states of Mongolian foreign policy and socio-economy, as well as its resolutions were presented. Mongolia stated its readiness to cooperate with other countries regarding the Economic Corridor developing between Mongolia, People's Republic of China and Russian Federation. According to the Foreign Minister, the conference had a significant importance in maintaining security in Northeast Asia and promoting Mongolia to the world. ^ 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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