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
  24-28.7.17, No. 680  
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Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China, Russia complete phase one joint naval drills in Baltic Sea (Global Times)
2017-07-28
Chinese and Russian navies completed exercises in the first stage of the ongoing joint military drills code-named "Joint Sea 2017" on Thursday. The missile destroyer "Hefei" and missile frigate "Yuncheng" of the Chinese fleet docked at the Lieutenant Schmidt Quai in the Russian city of St.Petersburg in the afternoon local time, following an intensive two-day naval drill in the Baltic Sea. During the drill, two tactical assault groups, consisting of mixed warships from the Chinese and Russian fleets, conducted a string of joint exercises, including ship-to-sea firing by secondary guns, air defense, landing and inspection, maritime search and rescue, dry cargo replenishment and shipwreck relief. On Wednesday,the participating fleets from the two countries held a farewell ceremony in the southeastern waters of the Baltic Sea before parting ways and continuing their respective voyages. Navies from both countries are scheduled to attend a parade here in celebration of Russia's Navy Day on Sunday. The Joint Sea 2017 drills, held from July 21 to 28, focus on carrying out joint rescue missions and ensuring maritime economic activities, during which the two navies are expected to strengthen the ability to cope with maritime threats and coordinate joint actions, as well as promote their friendship and mutual trust. ^ top ^

China border stance firm (Global Times)
2017-07-27
Beijing will not compromise with India's visiting national security adviser, and the only way to resolve the current standoff is for India to unilaterally withdraw its troops from Chinese territory, experts said. The seventh meeting of BRICS senior representatives on security issues is being held in Beijing on Thursday and Friday. Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi will chair the meeting, while South African Minister of State Security David Mahlobo, Brazilian Institutional Security Minister Sergio Etchegoyen, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval have confirmed their attendance. Doval arrived on Wednesday and "is expected to hold talks with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on the ongoing Sikkim standoff," New Delhi TV reported. However, China has made very clear its precondition of "meaningful dialogue," which is that Indian troops should withdraw from Chinese territory in the Doklam Plateau, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said. "China's position will not change and the Indian government and media should better abandon the illusion of using force to bully China into a compromise," Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. If India refuses to withdraw its troops from Doklam, then the meeting would not be "meaningful" and China is also unlikely to further clarify its redline or even deliver an ultimatum to India, because we still want to offer India a chance for a peaceful solution, said Lin Minwang, a professor at Fudan University's Center for South Asian Studies. But, unfortunately, India believes it is offering an opportunity to us for a peaceful solution, Lin added. Indian Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj earlier said that both India and China need to pull back their troops for any talks to begin. "This is the redline New Delhi has set for a possible conversation" between Doval and Yang when they meet in Beijing, the Indian Express reported. "There is no way China can accept this. The Doklam Plateau is Chinese territory, something also India acknowledges. So, how can we withdraw our troops from our own territory after Indian troops have crossed the border?" Hu asked. "The China-India border tension will not dominate the meeting in Beijing because this is a regular meeting between BRICS countries rather than an emergency multilateral meeting on the border tension. As the host, we also need to consider other BRICS guests and discuss other important issues," Hu said. Lu said at the press conference that the meeting will focus on global governance, counter-terrorism, Internet security, energy security, major global and regional issues, as well as national security and development. Lu said China hopes the meeting can further protect common interests, promote political and security cooperation among BRICS countries, strengthen the cohesion and influence of BRICS and help prepare for the BRICS summit in Xiamen in September. "India's behavior is like 'blackmail' to some extent as it knows China will hold the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which is a key political event," Jin Canrong, associate dean of the Department of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times. He noted that China's strategic priority is its eastern coast and the Asian-Pacific region rather than the western border areas. So, China's military presence in the west is less than India's, Jin said. India believes China does not want to start a conflict with the outside world, and therefore it believes it can use force to provoke China and win the compromise it wants, Jin said. "However, India's 'blackmail' will fail. Although China's military deployment is less, its quality is superior to India's, and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has the ability to deploy more troops from other provinces to the border area in Tibet. China has nothing to be afraid of even if the situation requires a military solution," Hu said. India's behavior has also failed to win the support of other countries, including major powers like the US, Russia, the EU and Japan, which shows that its international influence is not as strong as it thinks, Hu added. ^ top ^

China releases four of six Japanese detained for 'illegal surveying' (Global Times)
2017-07-27
Chinese authorities said Thursday that four of the six Japanese citizens detained in March for "illegal activities" have been released. Two others are still being held for accusations of stealing China's classified information and breaking the country's security law and counter-espionage law, officials said. Hua Chunying, spokesperson for China's foreign ministry, said at a press conference on May 22 that China had investigated six Japanese citizens under suspicion of illegal activities and had notified the Japanese consulate in China in accordance with the China-Japan Consular Agreement. The six Japanese were either employed by NC Geophysical Survey Co. or He Yuan Hot Spring Development Consultant Co. The two still under investigation are the heads of the two companies. Officials said the six had conducted illegal surveying activities in Penglai, East China's Shandong Province and Wuzhi Mountain in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province in March, without any official registration, qualification or permit. They were found with radioactive gamma measuring devices in violation of China's Surveying and Mapping Law and Mineral Resources Law, officials said. Investigations show that the two companies had conducted illegal surveys in China more than 30 times in the past 10 years. One of the company's head had illegally surveyed Mount Huangshan in March 2016. The suspect told authorities he was "searching for hot springs." Investigators discovered classified materials on the suspects' laptops, USB drives and other devices, including more than 80 maps. Two of the suspects are accused of stealing and holding China's classified information, the officials said. ^ top ^

Chinese NGOs exert increasing influence in Africa (Global Times)
2017-07-27
Every year, Wang Ke, CEO of a Beijing-based communication company, spends a big chunk of his time and money in Zimbabwe. There, he holds another identity - founder of a Chinese NGO which is dedicated to preserving local wildlife as well as alleviating poverty. Founded in 2015, Wang's NGO brings advanced equipment to the African country to monitor a vast wildlife park and help locals track down poachers. "Many people criticize the Chinese for smuggling wildlife out of Africa. I want to prove to them that we do care about wildlife and can shoulder the responsibility to protect it," he told the Global Times. "But while we are doing the good deeds there, we are still facing mistrust and lack of understanding both within and outside China, as well as competition from Western NGOs," he added. Li Xiaoyun, a professor at China Agricultural University, told the Global Times that more and more Chinese NGOs are working in Africa and China is witnessing the third wave of overseas expansion which is led by NGOs. "The overseas expansion of Chinese NGOs is an important part of globalization and it represents the third wave of China going global," he said. The first wave occurred between the 1950s and 1970s and was dominated by government actions to help "third world" countries. The second wave started in the 1980s when Chinese businesspeople began to go overseas, Li elaborated. "In Africa where the government is weak, the position of NGOs is very important … Compared with Western NGOs, Chinese NGOs can provide a selective experience for Africa," he said. In March, Deng Fei, founder of the "Free Lunch for Children" charity campaign, revealed on his Sina Weibo that the campaign was expanding to Africa. Its first 1 million yuan project was dedicated to children in Kenya. The campaign helps rural children avail healthy lunch. While most of Deng's posts on Weibo have few comments, this particular post drew a lot of attention. Many Netizens argued why he was spending money on African children while many Chinese children were starving. Some even said that they wanted to withdraw their donations if the money was sent to Africa. Deng responded to some of the comments, emphasizing that the domestic donations are used in China. The money for the African project comes from Beijing-based NGO Pearl Humanitarian Rescue Institution and in the future he will raise donations overseas to support projects outside China, he said. Wang said that it's not uncommon to meet backlash from some Chinese people. "This can't be called a problem. The most important thing is you think clearly what you should and must do," he said. Besides, Wang is also facing mistrust from African people and competition from some Western NGOs. "Western NGOs have been active in Africa for decades, while we are newcomers. Some of them think we are there to undercut their work," said Wang. Once, local authorities told Wang that a Western NGO had accused them of smuggling elephants to China in the name of protecting wildlife. That NGO even provided authorities a photo of Wang's plane. "The ironic thing is that the plane in their photo is too small for an elephant," he said. Wang's team also has to overcome the mistrust of locals. Some of them told Wang directly that they thought his NGO won't stay there for a long time and was there just for "image promotion." Compared with Western NGOs, local people's recognition of Chinese NGOs is generally low, according to Wang. This, he said, is due to a lack of understanding. The West had colonized Africa long ago and the locals are immersed in Western culture. "While many don't like the West, they still consider the West to be superior. In comparison, they have limited knowledge of China. So they hold a prudent attitude towards us," he said. […]. Li Yinuo is director for China office at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation has established partnerships with China's Ministry of Commerce to carry out pilot projects in Africa on public health and agricultural solutions. She said a major obstacle is the lack of understanding of China's development and aid model. "What China has done in Africa is quite different from what is portrayed in the Western media, but there is few channels for the world to know about China's development assistance in Africa," she said. Compared with most NGOs who spend lots of energy writing papers, Chinese are doing more practical things, according to Wang. "It's their way of doing things," Wang said. "But there are lessons we can learn from our Western counterparts. It's undeniable they have more in-depth understanding of Africa and they have more experience." Wang is hoping that more Chinese NGOs can join them in spreading their charitable activities to Africa. "China, the world's second-largest economy, should have the number of NGOs to match that status. We should shoulder more global responsibilities," he said. In his eye, this isn't about "improving the country's image," but about doing the right things that Chinese culture also advocates. At present, most of the money comes from Wang's own pocket. In two years, he has spent millions of yuan. He told the Global Times that Chinese enterprises and government like to make donations to local people directly instead of donating to an NGO which can help supervise how the money is spent, a model he hopes to change. Another problem with Chinese NGOs going to Africa is that in China there is a lack of special talents who have good command of local language and culture. For Chinese followers, Wang suggests that they should get accustomed to African way of doing things, such as, the low speed of the government. ^ top ^

China, Russia pledge coordination on strategic security (Xinhua)
2017-07-26
China and Russia agreed to strengthen communication and coordination as the two sides Wednesday held the 13th round of strategic security consultation in Beijing. The consultation was co-chaired by Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev. Hailing the strong momentum of bilateral ties as "their best in history," Yang called on the two sides to further enhance strategic mutual trust and coordination, promote cooperation in security, and strengthen support on issues of each other's core interest. During Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Russia early this month, Xi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signed a joint statement on deepening the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination. "The two sides should implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, promote bilateral ties, safeguard their common strategic security interests," Yang said. "Promoting the two countries' comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is a priority in Russia's diplomacy," Patrushev said, pledging more cooperation with China in strategic security and further coordination in international affairs. The two sides also agreed to strengthen coordination for the success of the seventh meeting of BRICS High Representatives for Security Issues, which will be held in Beijing Thursday to Friday. Yang will chair the meeting, which will be attended by senior representatives on security issues from BRICS countries, including Patrushev. ^ top ^

Philippine President Duterte vows for closer relations with China (Xinhua)
2017-07-26
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pledged on Tuesday that his country is to build stronger bilateral relations with China. "The Philippines attaches great importance to China's status and influence in the world, and is willing to build stronger relations with China," Duterte said in his meeting with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Duterte said the Philippines highly appreciates the support China extends to his country and the role China plays in his country's nation building, especially China's support to combat terrorism. Duterte expressed his satisfaction with the development of the bilateral ties between the two countries, saying the Philippines is willing to deepen cooperation with China in all sectors so as to benefit the two countries and their peoples. Wang reiterated that China unswervingly supports Philippine's independent foreign policy. Wang recalled that bilateral relations between China and the Philippines have fully improved under the guidance of the leaders of the two countries, saying improvement in relations has brought tangible benefits to the two peoples. "Facts speak louder. For neighbors, dialogue is better than confrontation, cooperation is better than friction. History will show that we have made a right choice," Wang said. ^ top ^

Organizations praise China's progress in organ donation (Global Times)
2017-07-26
In an unprecedented move, four top international health organizations expressed their appreciation for China's efforts in organ donation and transplantation reform, and also their expectations for more engagement from the country to global governance in the sector. The acknowledgment was expressed in a letter sent to Huang Jiefu, a former Chinese vice-minister of health and current head of the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee, ahead of the upcoming national conference on organ transplantation next week. The letter that was disclosed to media on Wednesday said that China's reform of its organ donation and transplantation program is "ethically proper," which experts and officials hailed as a powerful response to the criticism and skepticism the country has faced for years. Organ transplantation is now operating in the open after China banned the use of organs donated by executed prisoners in 2015 and made voluntary donation the only legitimate source of organs for transplants, Huang said. The letter also shows China's model of building an open, transparent and fair organ donation and distribution system is acknowledged by international society, Huang added. "The acknowledgment from the four organizations is historic, as this is the first time they jointly expressed a crystal clear and positive appreciation of China's progress on organ transplant reform," Wang Haibo, head of the China Organ Transplant Response System, told the Global Times. The letter was signed by heads and senior officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), The Transplantation Society (TTS) and the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group (DICG), four of the most influential societies in promoting global ethical practices in organ transplantation. Prominent representatives from the four organizations will attend the organ transplantation conference in August in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan Province. Officials from the four organizations, including Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of PAS, are expected to deliver speeches during the conference. The conference comes months after Chinese representatives, including Huang and Wang, were invited for the first time to the PAS Global Summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism at the Vatican in February. The acceptance from international organ transplant bodies is due to China's efforts to introduce its progress and reform to the world, including to those who hold a skeptical or even hostile attitude toward China's organ transplantation systems, Huang said. "We need to keep our friends close, and our enemies closer," he said. Though China's reform has been accepted by the majority in the international organ transplant community, including the TTS, which previously banned Chinese physicians from presenting their findings at international congresses, the country still faces fabricated stories of "harvesting organs from living people." The Irish Times reported on July 7 that investigative writer Ethan Gutmann alleged that China has a $8-9 billion transplant industry and remains "in business as usual." Calling such reports "self-deceiving, mean and ridiculous," Huang said that there will always be rumors as there's political purpose to be fed, while the acceptance from influential organizations and China's progress itself are the best response. Huang also emphasized that "It takes a good blacksmith to make good steel." Despite the successful development, China's new system of organ transplantation is only two years old and still in its infancy, he noted. It is expected that China will be performing the largest number of organ transplantation surgeries in the world by 2020, said Huang, adding that the China model, which features strong government engagement, and legal and administrative support, as well as a strong humanitarian spirit, are widely praised internationally. When asked whether China will play a leadership role in global governance of organ transplantation, Huang said China is willing to be a "head" rather than a "leader." China will contribute to global governance on organ transplantation as a responsible big country, with the rest of the member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) to disseminate and implement WHO guiding principles on organ transplantation globally. According to Huang, the four organizations also expressed hope that China would contribute more to global governance of organ transplantation to establish a WHO task force. This was initiated by Huang and Wang on behalf of China during the PAS summit in 2017, based on the memorandum of understanding for health cooperation signed between China and WHO under the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the WHO in January. ^ top ^

China offers to mediate Djibouti-Eritrea border row as it expands military presence in Africa (SCMP)
2017-07-25
China has offered to mediate in the lingering border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea, weeks after its fleet began to sail to its first overseas base in the Horn of Africa. Kuang Weilin, the Chinese Ambassador to the African Union, suggested that China will consider sending troops to the border between the two East African countries, the Associated Press reported on Monday. Kuang stressed that Beijing was ready to help with mediation, if requested. The Djibouti-Eritrea border friction over Dumeira Mountain and Dumeira Island recently escalated as Qatar, a significant and influential investor in both countries and the only mediator between them, withdrew its peacekeeping forces in the area following its diplomatic crisis with other Gulf nations. While China is becoming an increasingly important trading partner and investor for the African continent, it has begun to have a military presence in line with its diplomatic and economic offensive. As China's trade and investment quickly expands in Africa, Beijing has a growing interest in ensuring the region's peace and stability. “Wherever Chinese interests go, means and tools to protect them should follow,” said Zhang Hongming, an African studies expert at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The country this month installed its first military base abroad in Djibouti. The global economic giant was following the steps of countries such as France, the United States and Japan. Approximately 400 personnel are expected to be part of the force. China has said the base has only logistical objectives and no defense aims. In particular, the facility has been presented as a support base for anti-piracy, peacekeeping and UN humanitarian missions in Africa and West Asia. Shu Zhan, the former Chinese ambassador to Eritrea, told the South China Morning Post that China's intention to mediate in the border issue has no connection with the Djibouti port and signals no change in China's longstanding non-interference policy. “The disputes over Dumeira Mountain have been recurring, and China have been mediating in it for long time, mostly through the mechanism of the African Union,” Shu said. “I don't see much difference this time.” But direct military intervention is still not an option, Shu said. “If China would send a peacekeeping force there, everything would strictly follow three principles – authorised by the United Nations, requested by the African Union, and agreed by both parties. “The Chinese navy in the Djibouti port is there to protect the international trade route in the waters, and the peacekeepers, if any, are ground forces to carry out UN missions to avoid conflict. They are completely different forces,” Shu said. He added that China would only protect its interests through diplomatic and cooperative efforts. “China would not do anything that is like a colonialist,” Shu said. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy urges unity of Syria, political solution to crisis (Global Times)
2017-07-23
Chinese Special Envoy for Syria Xie Xiaoyan on Saturday urged all parties to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis and avoid a division of the country. After meeting with Syrian and Iranian officials recently in his mediation effort, Xie told Xinhua that the two countries had emphasized that Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be preserved while settling the six-year-long crisis. "China agrees with them on this point," he said. During his visit to Iran on July 20-23, the envoy held meetings with Iranian officials and experts, and exchanged views with them on how to solve the Syrian crisis. "Iran is an important country in the Middle East which has a significant and unique influence on the Syrian issue," he said. Xie said China has never changed its stance that the Syrian crisis must be solved politically, and meanwhile, other issues, including political negotiations, ceasefire, humanitarian crisis and counter-terrorism, should be taken into full account. The establishment of de-escalation zones was an important achievement of the recent Astana talks, the fifth round of peace talks on the Syrian crisis, held on July 12-15 in the Kazakhstan capital, he said. It showed that the international community started to take actions to ease tensions, and promote new thinking and ideas for the political settlement of the crisis, Xie said. China has provided humanitarian aid worth 680 million yuan (about 100.5 million US dollars) for the Syrian people through various channels, he said. Xie stressed that all parties shall respect the principle of self-determination in the political process of the Syrian issue, namely, to let the Syrian people decide their own future. The Syrian crisis began in 2011 with demonstrations against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and escalated into armed conflicts with the involvement of regional and Western powers. A number of peace initiatives have been launched, but little headway has been made until now. A new round of peace talks will be convened in early September in Geneva. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China has reached a turning point in its history, Xi says (SCMP)
2017-07-28
Officials in the top ranks of the party, government and military were summoned this week to Beijing for a two-day seminar to study President Xi Jinping's speeches and to gear up for a key, once-every-five-years Communist Party congress this autumn. The preparatory meeting, which ended on Thursday, came just days before an annual gathering of incumbent and retired party leaders in the seaside resort of Beidaihe, where they will seek consensus on major decisions for the 19th party congress. The autumn congress will see a major shake-up of the party's leadership – from the Central Committee to the Politburo and its Standing Committee - and inaugurate a second five-year term for Xi. At the seminar, Xi told the officials that the last five years had been “extraordinary” for China and that the country had reached a historic turning point. “Over the five years, the party's central leadership … solved many challenging problems [the party] wanted to solve for a long time but couldn't, and achieved many things it wanted to achieve in the past but didn't manage to achieve,” he said. “The Chinese nation … has achieved the historic leap of rising to our feet, getting rich and getting powerful.” Chen Daoyin, an associate professor at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said Xi's remarks were a signal that he had placed himself on par with late leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. “Mao's era of founding the modern communist China was when the Chinese nation rose to its feet, and Deng's reform and opening up policies helped the economy take off, and Xi sees himself as bringing China all the way to becoming powerful. Now it is his era,” Chen said. Xi also put great emphasis at the meeting on the development of the party's guiding theories, calling for the party to “unceasingly expand its horizon on theories and make new summaries”. Xi is widely expected to have his political theory written into the party constitution at the autumn congress like his predecessors, adding to the party's ever-expanding “guiding ideology”. He may even see his name enshrined in an ideological banner term, in the same way Mao left behind “Mao Zedong Thought”. Analysts said the meeting was also a call for senior officials to pledge political loyalty to Xi as the congress approached. Many of the officials at the seminar would attend the 19th party congress as delegates and cast votes, Chen said. “They will have to be politically reliable and choose the right team,” he said. Wu Qiang, a former politics lecturer at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said the strictly arranged and controlled seminar served as a warning to all officials to toe the line. “Every official is supposed to declare his or her position and pledge loyalty after the session. The leaders need to make sure the voting result [at the congress] won't look embarrassing,” he said. As the party enters the final preparation stage for the congress, the country's propaganda apparatus has also stepped up efforts to burnish Xi's image and further cement his authority. A 10-episode documentary series on state-run CCTV extolling Xi's ideas and achievements in pushing for reforms aired its last episode on Wednesday as the seminar began. The series, Carrying Reform through to the End, painted Xi as a reformer and covered a wide range of topics, including economic, judicial and military reforms and the environment. ^ top ^

Pollution action plan detailed (China Daily)
2017-07-28
China spelled out details of its initiative to ban imports of polluting garbage, issuing an action plan on Thursday that increases the limits on the types and amounts of the waste. The central government has approved the action plan, to be completed by the end of 2019, that bans imports of foreign waste and improves the domestic recycling industry. China will stop accepting shipments of various types of plastics, unsorted paper, textiles and vanadium slag by the end of this year. The list of banned items will likely grow longer as more types of solid waste are added, a State Council statement indicates. "China will step up the fight against solid waste smuggling to keep foreign garbage from getting into the country," it added. On July 18, China notified the World Trade Organization of the ban on imports of 24 types of solid waste that will take effect by the end of this year. Agencies involved in solid-waste imports and management, such as environmental protection bureaus and the General Administration of Customs, will take tough measures against illegal activities, such as smuggling and processing solid waste, the central government said. The focus will be on scrap plastic and paper, electronic waste and used textiles. China also will revise management regulations on imported solid waste by the end of next year, which will further cut the number of ports that can accept shipments. In addition to the restrictions on importing solid waste, China intends to boost the domestic recycling business. By 2020, the amount of solid waste recycled in China will increase to 350 million metric tons, from 246 million tons in 2015. Since the 1980s, China has imported some solid waste-such as paper, plastic and some scrap metals-as raw materials, Guo Jing, director of international cooperation at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said last week. But large amounts of dirty or hazardous waste have been mixed in with imported solid waste, boosting the profits for those involved. This has contaminated the environment, but the ban will protect the environment as well as the public's health, the ministry said on Thursday. Many domestic companies process imported solid waste and discharge excessive and illegal pollutants, the ministry said, increasing the pressure for cleanup measures to clear away the resultant increased air, water and soil pollution. In a monthlong inspection, which began on July 1, the ministry's inspectors have found massive problems at processing companies. Of the 1,729 companies visited by Sunday, violations, including excessive discharges, were found at 1,037 of them. Many other countries, such as Vietnam and Indonesia, also have restrictions on imported solid waste, the ministry said. ^ top ^

Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei to offer 144 hours visa-free (China Daily)
2017-07-28
The cities of Beijing and Tianjin, along with Hebei province, will allow 144-hour visa-free entry for nationals from certain countries and regions by the end of 2017, a vice-mayor of Beijing said on Thursday. The move is part of the nation's long-term commitment to modernize and upgrade its service industry. Cheng Hong, a vice-mayor of Beijing, said the policy will extend the visa-free time for travelers from some countries who want to visit the three areas. Currently, the maximum stay in Beijing and Tianjin is 72 hours. The policy adjustment will facilitate "the free circulation of resources" in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Cheng said. In 2016, Shanghai, joined by Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, took the lead in permitting 144-hour visa-free entry, which gave foreign visitors from 51 countries and regions more than enough time to travel or attend conferences in the region. Cheng made the remarks at a news conference on a comprehensive pilot plan, which the State Council promulgated in late July, to further open up the capital's service industry. Under the plan, the local authorities will reduce investment restrictions in major service sectors, including aviation, culture and arts, publication, banks, legal services, tourism and medical research and development. By streamlining regulations, Beijing expects to offer one-stop service to foreign investors considering the capital by the end of this year. Foreign investors who intend to set up a business in the city are now required to obtain about 15 licenses and certificates issued by 11 departments. The materials include an administrative license, information collection and management filings. "Within this year, they will just need one single license," Chen said. "By sharing repeated basic information among different departments and making the registration procedures available online, the whole process will only take five working days." For years, China has been working to shift its economy toward a growth model based on consumption, services and innovation. Describing Beijing as a testing ground for the nationwide opening-up of the service sector, Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce, said: "We can expect new progress and breakthroughs in easing market access, speeding up institutional reform and establishing supportive systems for the sector." In 2016, China's service sector accounted for 51.6 percent of the country's gross domestic product, up 1.4 percentage points from a year earlier, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. For Beijing alone, the added value of its service sector was around $292 billion in the same period. ^ top ^

Why Xi Jinping must tackle the myth of princeling legitimacy to rule China (SCMP)
2017-07-27
The 19th congress of the Communist Party of China will be held later this year. Most observers are interested in personnel changes in making predictions about China's future. But for President Xi Jinping (習近平), that future hinges on the success of no less than China's cultural restoration. Xi has never liked the phrase popular in the West: “the rise of China”. He prefers “China's restoration”, to explain the country's spectacular rise after a free fall following the Opium Wars. His idea is to restore “Confucian legitimacy” – that is, the populist concept of the “mandate of heaven” – and repair the ruling machinery badly damaged by widespread official corruption in the past decades. Whether or not Xi succeeds in handling various aspects of this restoration project, such as the “China Dream” campaign and the anti-West ideological campaign, will determine the future of China after the upcoming party congress. The idea of the China Dream is not original, for generations of modern Chinese have been pursuing a similar goal. But what is new is Xi's method of doing so with the help of traditional values, while previous generations had defined the dream as a modernising, and hence an anti-Confucian, project. Xi's approach apparently comes from the extreme fear of political disorder, a nightmare deeply rooted in his personal experience. Confucian political theory stresses stability and social order. Unlike his predecessors, who played cautiously during the initial period of power consolidation, Xi immediately launched an anti-corruption campaign, cleansing the party machine with the promise of a good and clean government, and hence of a “restoration” of traditional values. By all accounts, Xi possesses a polarising thought pattern due to his unique life experience. He is a dreamer, a born-again red “princeling”, an amateur historian, and an insufficient scholar on Confucianism. A survivor from a tender age, he has developed the temperament of a cautious man. But as a rehabilitated red princeling, he is often over-confident in dealing with crisis, even at the risk of abandoning political acumen for adventurism. SSThe current regime has turned away from ideology, leaving self-preservation as the only purpose of the state Of course, China is a big country, stability and order have to be the top priority for anyone to rule. The Chinese party-state is designed for control, and therefore it should not be surprising that it does not behave like a normal state. Most Western observers are interested in how China may become democratic, after having allegedly become capitalist. But China is not a capitalist country. The Chinese leadership never hesitates to insist that it is a “socialist market economy”, which means a socialist economy in which market mechanisms are adopted to a great degree, and a market economy with extensive state controls. The Chinese state has two absolute priorities: the perpetuation of the regime itself, and the protection of the country's territorial integrity. China under Mao Zedong (毛澤東) was a state with an ideological mission. Mao was prepared to defend this ideology to the extent of even destroying the party apparatus itself when he thought it might be deviating from its true purpose. The current regime, by contrast, has turned away from ideology, leaving self-preservation as the only purpose of the state. This has in effect served to weaken the party-state's legitimacy, despite its success in economic development. The regime relies on two main strategies to preserve itself: purchasing legitimacy in the eyes of the people, and keeping down anything that can threaten the state's hold on power. This requires a delicate balance that is becoming increasingly difficult for the regime to maintain. For now, the Chinese state still has the capacity to support its goals, despite challenges both at home and abroad. But the long-term prospects of the regime are not bright. First, most party-states have a hopelessly ugly public presentation and struggle to overcome public distrust. Secondly, China's integration with the outside world has eroded the state's ability to maintain control; public consensus within China is increasingly formed by the internet and other media. SSA tiny group of intellectual charlatans and sycophants, very much like Rasputin... have taken over the media So far, the party propaganda machine has damaged Xi's reputation, rather than enhanced his status. It has given rise to an eerie and precarious political atmosphere, in which a tiny group of intellectual charlatans and sycophants, very much like Rasputin in the last years of the Romanov empire, have taken over the media. They have been using the Cultural Revolution language of the 1960s to help strengthen a 21st century leader's personal authority, while the majority of real scholars, intellectuals and party rank and file prefer to stay away, totally disgusted by them. This campaign to establish Xi's absolute authority via the method of Mao reflects a misreading of history, and it is built upon the precarious foundation of the myth of princeling legitimacy to rule, as even in traditional China, descendants of emperors had no automatic claim to legitimacy to rule. Furthermore, the anti-corruption campaign seems to have created more challenges. Modern China's debate on republicanism, after the demise of dynastic legitimacy, has focused on the question “who represents the moral centre of the state”? This is a true Confucian debate on legitimacy. The biggest danger to the anti-corruption campaign comes not from the cornered and desperate amoral officials, the “tigers”, but from the undercurrent that could shift popular perceptions about the moral centre of the state. The lack of transparency about the plans to catch the tigers, on who will fill these vacated power positions and where the confiscated funds go, has led to much speculation. Even the party rank and file is now showing dissatisfaction with the political centre, and it is increasingly hard for the leadership to inspire confidence. Worse, the arrogant behaviour of the red princelings – who claim they are not interested in money-grabbing, yet continue to build huge business empires through their unique access to bank loans – is undermining the credibility of the cultural restoration project. Does the leadership treat princelings differently from ordinary citizens? If it does, the political backlash will be seismic. The success or failure of the anti-corruption campaign ultimately depends on the establishment of a serious rule of law procedure and greater political openness, leading to some form of political pluralism compatible with the Confucian tradition. In conclusion, in today's China, the economic slowdown, demographic crisis, official corruption and foreign policies are the four major challenges to Communist legitimacy. These challenges can only be dealt with effectively through collective efforts, both within the party and society. If Xi fails to launch serious political reforms at the 19th Party Congress, the marriage between tradition and a nasty alien culture will render his cultural restoration campaign unsustainable. ^ top ^

China stages high-profile naval drill off Korean peninsula (SCMP)
2017-07-27
China is flexing its military muscle in a high-profile naval exercise in the Yellow Sea, off the western coast of the Korean peninsula, days ahead of the PLA's 90th anniversary. Beijing has so far released scant information about the three-day live-fire drill, which is expected to last through Saturday, but analysts say it is also aimed at demonstrating China's resolve amid heightened tensions over North Korea's nuclear provocations. The PLA Navy's North Sea Fleet and the Shandong Maritime Safety Administration announced in the past two days that the central part of the Yellow Sea would be cordoned off to all marine traffic from Thursday for military purposes. An area of about 40,000 square kilometres off the coastal city of Qingdao, where the North Sea Fleet is headquartered, was expected to be affected by the drill, which would involve live ammunition, Weihai Evening Post reported on Wednesday. Military experts said the drill was part of celebrations marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army, which falls on August 1. Beijing has yet to unveil details of the celebrations, but sources familiar with the matter told the South China Morning Post that President Xi Jinping would go to Asia's largest military training base in Zhurihe, Inner Mongolia to watch war games involving cyberwarfare, special troops and army aviation. “It's very likely linked to the 90th anniversary. It's more of a show of military might to [demonstrate] the recent PLA achievements,” said Collin Koh, a maritime security expert from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. Analysts also believed the drill was designed to send a warning to both Pyongyang and Washington as concerns grow over North Korea's accelerated nuclear and missile programme. Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military affairs commentator, said the drill would send “a very subtle message to North Korea” as the defiant hermit nation refused to give up its nuclear ambitions despite US threats of a military strike. The US and Australian governments have said they believe Pyongyang could be preparing for another intercontinental ballistic missile test to be conducted within days. Ni said the naval drill could also be sending a message to the US at a time when tensions have resurfaced over a slew of issues including the South China Sea dispute. “The US has been quite active in the region recently,” he said, citing its joint naval exercises with Japan and India and recent maritime and airspace patrols in disputed waters of the East China Sea and South China Sea. Two Chinese fighter jets intercepted a US Navy surveillance plane over the East China Sea at the weekend. Zhou Chenming, a military observer, said Russian ships may join the exercise in the Yellow Sea, in a sign of closer Sino-Russian military and security ties. Shi Yinhong, an international relations specialist from Renmin University, agreed that Beijing and Moscow appeared to be edging closer as Washington threatened tougher sanctions against North Korea and Russia. “Russian-US relations were strained over Moscow's annexation of Crimea and ties between China and the US have been frayed in recent weeks. This is the fundamental reason behind the growing military ties between China and Russia,” he said. China, which has been conducting joint sea exercises with Russia since 2011, is conducting its first naval drill in the Baltic Sea alongside Russian warships. Meanwhile, State Councillor Yang Jiechi vowed to boost strategic cooperation and military ties with Russia on Wednesday at a bilateral strategy and security dialogue in Beijing. China's defence ministry could not be reached for comment. ^ top ^

China Exclusive: Fugitive Guo Wengui's lies exposed (Xinhua)
2017-07-26
More proof has been given that Guo Wengui, one of China's most-wanted fugitives, has used fabricated and distorted information to mislead the public, this time attacking the reputation of a company manager. Guo made claims via overseas media outlets and online video platforms that Yao Qing, general manger of GI Technologies (Beijing) Co.,Ltd, was the relative of a senior Chinese official and controlled more than 10 companies, opened bank accounts in different countries, and had over 160 billion U.S. dollars in cash, with a bank and an oil firm under his name. "Guo's fabricated claims have brought negative impacts on myself, my family, friends and company," said Yao. "It's necessary to make this known to the public, and we reserve the right to use legal means to hold Guo accountable." Guo, the "actual controlling shareholder" of Beijing Pangu Investment and Beijing Zenith Holdings, fled China under suspicion of multiple crimes in August 2014 and is currently listed under an Interpol "red notice" for wanted fugitives. According to a statement released by GI Technologies on October 13, 2016, the day he was appointed general manager of the company, Yao was born in 1977, holds Chinese nationality and graduated from East China University of Political Science and Law. Yao said he had lived in rural areas of Nanhui District, now known as Pudong New Area, in Shanghai until he went to university to study law in 1996. After graduation, Yao was employed by a private enterprise in Shanghai. Yao's identity information was confirmed by Li Yan, an employee of GI Technologies, who studied in the same high school as Yao. "Yao is from Shanghai. We know his background and he has nothing to do with senior leaders, or huge amounts of assets. What Guo said about him is ridiculous," Li said. Yao established a Shanghai-based credit risk consulting firm named Weicheng in 2004, and began working in the asset management industry in 2007. Gao Huaixue, the actual controlling shareholder of GI Technologies, said her company started business in non-performing asset management and disposition in recent years, and then engaged Yao as a professional manager. Guo's fabricated "relationship tree" showed that Yao had controlled shares of more than 10 companies, however, these companies actually just had business with GI Technologies. Of the companies, one engaged in petrol engineering technology was acquired by GI Technologies in 2015 and merged with another company in 2016. However, the new company failed to provide such resources and cooperation was ended by the end of 2016. In 2017, the new company was finally closed. "In Guo's logic, companies that have business with me actually belong to me together with all their assets. Thus, my assets will be unlimited. Such logic is ridiculous," said Yao. Guo claimed that "Yao turned state-owned enterprises into his own" through his work dealing with non-performing assets. "Our company dealt with non-performing assets mainly in private enterprises and helped them gain profit through measures including acquisition and asset reconfiguration," Yao said. "There are no grounds for these claims of embezzling state assets." "Yao has no shares in GI Technologies, a listed company. Shareholders' information is publicized online by law," Gao said. "I am the controlling shareholder of the company, and my shares are my own, not Yao's," she said. According to Chinese police, Guo's "relationship tree" was fabricated by Chen Xiangjun, a 43-year-old jobless man from Leizhou, Guangdong Province. Chen offered Guo fake information in exchange for money. Chen confessed that he had created the "relationship tree", which was later falsified by Guo. Chen said that he had received 50,000 yuan (7,404 U.S. dollars) from Guo in payment for fake business data. Chen also said that he later found out that Yao was an employee of the company with no shares. "Guo's fabrication and vicious words have greatly impacted the my reputation, as well as that of the company, executives and employers, and I express my strong outrage at this," said Yao. Gao, who is currently abroad, said that "if the company has suffered from Guo's rumors, we will not rule out taking legal measures to safeguard our legitimate rights." ^ top ^

Missing human rights lawyer 'in good health in Tianjin facility' (SCMP)
2017-07-26
Human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang – who had not been seen or heard from since he was detained in a crackdown two years ago – is in good health in a Tianjin facility, according to a lawyer who claims to have visited him. While Wang's wife, Li Wenzu, was relieved to know where he was, she said she was angry that he had been detained without trial since July 10, 2015. Tianjin prosecutors told Li early this year that Wang had been indicted on charges of “inciting subversion of state power”, but there had been no information about any trial since then. Wang's relatives as well as lawyers and international human rights groups have repeatedly appealed to the Chinese authorities for his release and for information on his well-being. He had also been denied access to lawyers. However, Zhejiang-based lawyer Chen Youxi on Wednesday announced on social media that he had met Wang in a Tianjin detention facility and that he was in good health. “I met him in person and he is doing well physically and mentally,” Chen later told the South China Morning Post. But Li remains worried about her husband, saying that lawyers appointed by the family had not been allowed to see Wang. “This is some sort of confirmation [that he is still alive], but I am very worried about his health and whether he's been tortured,” Li said. In a statement issued late on Tuesday, Li said she had been approached by two lawyers in the past 10 days who claimed to have met Wang. “My lawyers have tried their best to gain access to Wang in over 40 attempts over the past two years but they've been barred by the authorities,” Li said. “I'm very angry and do not wish to be approached by any more government-appointed lawyers.” Chen said on social media that he was informed by the Tianjin judicial authorities on July 12 that Wang had requested Chen as his lawyer. He said he arrived the next day and met Wang, but the detained rights lawyer changed his mind and decided to defend himself instead. The post included an appointment letter purportedly signed by Wang and a photo of Chen posing outside the Tianjin No 2 Detention Centre. Wang has represented a number of defendants in rights cases including Jiangsu-based Falun Gong practitioner Zhu Yanian in 2013. He has said he was assaulted by police in Heilongjiang province in 2014 during a rally for other lawyers who had been beaten and persecuted at a detention centre in the city of Jiamusi. Some 300 lawyers, legal assistants and dissidents were detained in a crackdown on legal activists that began on July 9, 2015. Most of them were released but nine were convicted and at least five, including Wang, are still in custody without trial, according to the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group. ^ top ^

156 overseas NGOs register in China since new law took effect (Global Times)
2017-07-26
Some 156 overseas NGOs have registered in the Chinese mainland since a new law took effect this year, government data has shown. Many overseas NGOs expressed that they are so far pleased with the registration service delivered by China's Ministry of Public Security, claiming that the process has been smooth. According to data revealed on online platform ngo.mps.gov.cn, launched by the Ministry of Public Security, 156 NGOs from outside the Chinese mainland have successfully registered with police authorities across the country, while 54 such organizations have established representative offices in Beijing. Some 189 temporary activities by overseas NGOs have been approved, with clear information on when and where such activities will be held. China's new law on overseas NGOs took effect on January 1, stipulating that overseas NGOs had to secure approval from Chinese authorities before they could operate on the Chinese mainland. "On average, more than a dozen NGOs successfully complete their registration with us each month, and the number is steadily rising," Duan Jianqiang, a police liaison officer at the NGO management office of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, told the Global Times Tuesday. On June 30, the office granted registration certificates and certificates for chief delegates to 15 NGOs. The list includes the Ford Foundation from the US, ClientEarth from the UK, and the Korean Film Council from South Korea. A Chinese office administration manager surnamed Liang at the Korean Film Council, who was in charge of the organization's registration, told the Global Times that the whole process was surprisingly smooth, and during the two-month period it took to prepare documentation, the Beijing police delivered "personal and courteous service." "They would call us to provide guidance and to follow up the procedure patiently," Liang said, adding that such great service from the MPS department makes the Korean NGO feel more recognized and appreciated than before. Police authorities continue to facilitate the organizations' operation in many fields after the registration, even streamlining the visa renewal process for the overseas chief representatives. The certificate specially issued for their chief delegates can be used directly for applying for Chinese work permits, and not only will the certificate holder be treated as a foreign expert for the work permit application, but they can also get the application done in the office building on the first floor, Duan said. "The officers were very supportive during the fast registration process and with the chief delegate certificate, I could renew my work visa here in no more than three weeks," Lim Jeong-hee, the chief delegate of the Korea Copyright Commission told the Global Times. Lim said she was very appreciative of the convenient visa policy, as her family is also here with her in Beijing and their family visas depend on hers. The management office also provides special document for overseas NGOs for their banking needs in a bid to shorten their waiting time in financial institutions, said Duan. "We set no hoops at all for NGOs to jump through, as the handbook for the registration process is on the MPS website, the NGO registration WeChat account is in both English and Chinese, and the officers in the NGO management office are here to provide their best services," Duan said. He said many NGOs have given them silk banners with thank you messages, adding that there are so many of these banners that the office has no place to hang them. For those with complete documents, there is always a green light and no hassles at all on the police side, Duan stressed. ^ top ^

Tragedy of Liu Xiaobo shows why China is not Mandela's South Africa (SCMP)
2017-07-25
Liu Xiaobo's (劉曉波) story is a tragic one, both for himself and for China. While none can doubt the Nobel Peace laureate's sincerity and devotion in pushing for democracy and human rights in China, which led to his predicament, as a scholar, he – like many vocal dissidents of the past three decades – was misled by his illusory but honest belief that his sincerity could change the one-party dictatorship regime. Liu had been in and out of prison or compulsory confinement for 10 years after being involved in the 1989 pro-democracy movement. He was last arrested in December 2008, for co-authoring “Charter 08”, in which he criticised the system, saying, despite the reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), “there are laws but there is no rule of law. There is a Constitution but no constitutional governance”. Charter 08 told of the people's right to choose their government and key civil servants, and officials of all levels, through elections. Based on such democratic principles, it called for “abolishing the provisions in the current Constitution that are not in conformity with the principle that sovereignty resides in the people”. The principles outlined in Charter 08 are commonplace in any liberal democracy, yet, to Beijing, advocating them amounts to subversion, as one of the four cardinal principles – as well as the most important one enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution – is the leadership of the Communist Party, which is also the legal basis for one-party dictatorship in China. The tragedy of Liu was his belief that China's one-party rule could be changed peacefully through his sincerity and the efforts of those in China who believe in the universality of Western democratic values. The People's Republic was established by the Chinese Communist Party through armed struggle. Its confidence in seeing itself as the only party given the mandate to rule came from its victory in the people's liberation war against the Kuomintang, hence its firm belief that the Chinese people had chosen it to lead China. The monopoly of its one-party rule was thus written with confidence into the Chinese Constitution as one of the unshakeable principles. Notwithstanding policy mistakes, sometimes almost fatal, made in first 30 years of the People's Republic, such confidence has persisted and is reaffirmed by the remarkable achievement in the transformation of Chinese society and the economic development of recent years. Faith in one-party rule was further boosted by the doctrine of “Three Confidences”, namely “confident in our chosen path, confident in our guiding theories, and confident in our political system”, heralded in 2012 by then party general secretary and China's president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤). Current president and party general secretary Xi Jinping (習近平) last year added a fourth: “confident in our culture”. The “Three Confidences” echoed the three cardinal principles enshrined in the Constitution – adhering to the socialist road with Chinese characteristics, Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong (毛澤東) Thought, and the people's democratic dictatorship – in addition to the unshakeable principle of the party's leadership. A commentary in The Guardian in December 2010, shortly after Liu was awarded the Peace Prize, said it was “a prize for politics of certain kind” and noted a Nobel Institute director's remark that the Norwegian Nobel Committee most often selected “those who had spoken out... against the Communist dictators in Moscow and the dictators in Beijing”. Liu was selected for his peaceful call to China to abandon one-party rule; for the same reason, he was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power”. The one-party dictatorship knows well that the way it dealt with Liu's call in the past, and the way it deals with his supporters' call after his death, will have far-reaching impact on the party, as well as on the people of China. The tragic end of Liu is a reminder of the inconvenient truth that China is not 1993 peace laureate Nelson Mandela's apartheid South Africa, nor is China 1991 laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's Myanmar, ruled by a military junta struggling under prolonged sanctions imposed by the West. Democracy of any kind that is close to Western-style liberal democracy is not likely to take root in China in the foreseeable future. ^ top ^

Purges and party propaganda: China's lively streaming sites get back behind the communist line (SCMP)
2017-07-25
China's popular and lucrative video-streaming websites are censoring their content and offering Communist Party propaganda as they brace for even tighter controls on the internet. Video and live-streaming sites have been a major target of Beijing's sweeping efforts to “clean up” the internet, with more than 70 shut down and more than 50 million users comments pulled since January, according to official figures. Other sites have withdrawn material to comply with Beijing's demand to promote “socialist values”. Earlier this month, nearly all foreign films and TV shows on two popular YouTube-style sites were suddenly taken offline. Management of Bilibili, one of the two websites, said on the weekend that the decision to remove the content was “completely self-censorship”. “The government has put forward some requirements for online video content,” chairman Chen Rui said on Sunday. “I think Bilibili has developed to a certain stage, and needs to review and clean up its content.” Chen, whose platform has more than 150 million active users, said videos that failed the review would not reappear on the site, without specifying the terms of the assessments. Last month, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television singled out animated video website AcFun for hosting programmes that “propagate negative remarks”. AcFun responded with an abject apology on Weibo, saying it accepts the authority's criticism and punishment. The website said it would eliminate videos and comments that were obscene, violent or otherwise violated regulations. “[We] promote socialist harmonious values in the form of animation, which is beloved by young people,” AcFun said. Other platforms are also toeing the party line by offering themselves as a way to reach the young generation. Top live-streaming site Douyu set up a party committee last month, with online hosts broadcasting party propaganda online. During a live-streaming session last week, a woman host dressed in Red Army uniform filmed herself buying Mao Zedong badges at a gift shop. “The internet celebrity party committee is not a publicity stunt,” state-run Workers' Daily, quoted Yuan Gang, the company's party secretary, as saying. “In the future, we need more support from the [Communist Party's] Organisation Department, the Propaganda Department and the internet regulator.” Beijing's online clampdown has also included the roll-out of the highly restrictive Cybersecurity Law, suspension of celebrity gossip social media accounts, and the closure of virtual private networks used to skirt the “Great Firewall”. ^ top ^

PLA exhibition kicks off (Global Times)
2017-07-24
An exhibition celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) opened in Beijing, presenting a review of the PLA's history and showing China's increasing military prowess through images and models of some of the country's most advanced military equipment. Organized in chronological order from the Nanchang Uprising on August 1, 1927 - viewed as the beginning of the Communist Party of China (CPC) leading armed strikes against the Kuomintang - to this year, the exhibition is divided into eight parts covering major military events during the past nine decades. President Xi Jinping and the six other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee visited the exhibition at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution on Friday. A straw hat belonging to former CPC leader Mao Zedong in Gutian in 1929 and a pistol used by former PLA veteran Zhu De in the Nanchang Uprising and other events are among the most valuable exhibits at the show. Over 1,000 photos and 1,300 historical items are on display at the exhibition, which covers an area of 4,800 square meters. Some 100 relics were shown to the public for the first time, Huang Yibing, the deputy curator of the museum, told the Xinhua News Agency on Saturday. Among them were recently collected items, such as the diaries of Zhou Baozhong (1902-64), leader of the Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army (later combined into the PLA), while some were exhibits rarely shown before, such as the marshal uniforms belonging to PLA founding fathers and senior commanders including Marshal Zhu De and Marshal Peng Dehuai. Modern technology has been applied to make the exhibition more interesting and interactive. By scanning the QR code beside the exhibits, visitors can instantly get the exhibit's audio introduction on their phone, while major war scenes such as the Battle of Jinzhou, which took place in 1948 between the PLA and the Kuomintang military during the civil war, have been restored with the aid of 3D technology and projection, attracting visitors to explore more. "It's an exciting show," a Beijing-based visitor surnamed Liu, waiting while her 2-year-old son played inside the war experience zone, told the Global Times on Sunday. "I want my child to learn more about PLA history, so I brought him along." "I was most impressed by the history of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression," a 60-year-old visitor who requested anonymity told the Global Times. "This is a history that none of us should ever forget." Apart from the precious items, the exhibition also showcases the development process of the PLA's equipment over the decades through models of the aircraft carrier and naval fleet, and real weapons like rifles, pistols, machine guns and grenades. Outside the venue stand two lines of China's modern military equipment, including the J-10 fighter jet, a Z-10 attack helicopter, ZTZ-99 major battle tank and DF-31A missile launching vehicle, among others. "Ten years ago, the military museum in Beijing also held a large-scale exhibition, but the current exhibition includes many commissioned weapons and equipment and covers all services of the PLA, especially the DF-31A missile which is a strategic weapon," Song Zhongping, a military expert who has served in the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times. "The transparency that the PLA shows through this exhibition is unprecedented, and this reflects the PLA's confidence and the fast development of China's military power. Weapons like the DF-31A and DF-26 missiles and ZTZ-99 tank are not only China's most advanced weapons, but also rank among the top in the world," Song said. "However, while the fast military development provides confidence for the PLA, the lack of real combat experience is also a fact. Most of these weapons have not been tested in real war yet, but it doesn't mean the PLA is afraid of real combat. Currently, we can collect real combat experience and data through observing our weapons sold to other countries," Song said. The exhibition will officially open to the public on Thursday. ^ top ^

China releases Yangzte environmental protection plan (China Daily)
2017-07-23
The Chinese government has released an environmental protection plan covering the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the latest move to protect the country's longest river from pollution. The plan was jointly released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Water Resources. It places an upper limit on the usage of water resources along the belt, said Zhao Yingmin, vice-minister of environmental protection. An ecological "red line" will be put in place to protect and restore the environment of key areas, Zhao said. This is in line with government guidelines issued earlier this year on a nationwide ecological "red line" strategy that will place certain regions under mandatory and rigorous protection. Water quality management will be based on a "bottom line" system to strengthen controls on pollution along the belt, especially at drinking water sources, according to Zhao. The plan also demands improved responses to environmental emergencies and closer regional coordination, he said. Stretching from Southwest China's Yunnan province to Shanghai, the Yangtze River Economic Belt covers nine provinces and two municipalities in an area of 2.05 million square kilometers. In 2014, China made developing the economic belt a national strategy. The move was expected to boost development in riverside regions and provide new growth stimuli for China's slowing economy. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

China urges Botswana to respect China's interests after African nation allows Dalai Lama to visit (Global Times)
2017-07-26
China has urged Botswana to respect China's core interests and make correct decisions on Tibetan issues, after the African country said it will allow the Dalai Lama to visit next month. "Tibetan issues are related to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told reporters at a regular press conference on Wednesday. AFP reported that Botswana confirmed it would allow the Dalai Lama to visit next month as "a foreign dignitary." Botswana expects China to "respect our sovereign decision on this matter," Botswana Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi told lawmakers on Tuesday, because "the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries is at the core of China's foreign policy," AFP reported. Lu responded on Wednesday, saying "China doesn't interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, but it shouldn't tolerate other countries which do things that harm China's core interests." ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Joint checkpoint deal opens door for Beijing to quash protests on Hong Kong soil, Basic Law drafter warns (SCMP)
2017-07-28
Two drafters of Hong Kong's mini-constitution locked horns yesterday over the legal basis of a controversial joint checkpoint for the cross-border express rail link as a third judicial challenge was lodged against it. The government announced on Tuesday that a joint immigration checkpoint would be set up at the West Kowloon terminus of the high-speed rail link to Guangzhou, with officers from across the border enjoying almost full jurisdiction in a quarter of the complex leased to the mainland. Officials said the plan would not breach the Basic Law because the leased zone would be regarded as outside the city's boundary and the leasing could be done through Article 20 of the city's mini-constitution, which stipulates that Beijing can grant Hong Kong power that it does not already have. Two Basic Law drafters argued in a radio programme on Thursday over whether the plan was legally sound. Founding Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming, a barrister who sat on the committee that drafted the Basic Law, said the intention of Article 20 was to grant the city more powers, not to give it the power to castrate itself. He said the arrangement could set a precedent for the Hong Kong and central governments to easily invoke the same legal arguments in future to tackle difficult situations, such as a repeat of the Occupy movement of 2014. “With a mutual agreement through Article 20, the occupied area can be rented to the mainland on a short one-week lease, and for that week Hong Kong laws will not apply,” he said. “It means Hong Kong people will not be protected by Hong Kong laws, including the Basic Law,” Lee said. But pro-Beijing member of the Basic Law drafting committee, Maria Tam Wai-chu, dismissed such fears as a big “what if” and pointed out that there was a complete legal basis for the leasing arrangement. Tam, also a barrister, countered that she could not see Lee's scenario happening and that the government “would never out-of-the-blue just lease land to the mainland to use”. “The Hong Kong port areas will still be subject to Hong Kong laws. Only the non-Hong Kong area will be under mainland law,” she said. Apart from Article 20, Tam pointed out that under Article 7 of the Basic Law, the territory's land and natural resources were by default “state property”. Meanwhile, activist Tsang Kin-shing filed a judicial review in the High Court, questioning the government's attempt to link the deal to the arrangement for the existing Hong Kong-run port area in Shenzhen Bay. The challenge came just a day after two similar legal challenges were mounted. Tsang argued that the arrangement breached almost 20 articles in the Basic Law, as well as several clauses in the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance. Justice secretary Rimsky Yuen kwok-keung said on Wednesday that he welcomed any legal challenges to the government's decision. To dispel speculation a similar arrangement for Airport Express travellers in the city might be introduced in the future, officials said on a government Facebook page on Thursday its only plans for such a set-up were for the West Kowloon terminus. It called the speculation groundless.^ top ^

Joint Hong Kong-mainland China checkpoint given go-ahead despite legal fears (SCMP)
2017-07-26
National laws will be enforced on Hong Kong's soil for the first time under a controversial plan approved by the city's government on Tuesday to lease to mainland authorities a quarter of the West Kowloon terminus of the high-speed rail link to Guangzhou. Top officials denied ceding Hong Kong territory to authorities from across the border as they tried to ease concerns about jurisdictional uncertainties, while critics called it a violation of the city's mini-constitution, the Basic Law. The so-called co-location proposal endorsed by the Executive Council will allow mainland officers to exercise nearly full jurisdiction – criminal and civil – in the 105,000 square metre designated port area. Top officials had a simple answer for critics warning that this would violate Article 18 of the Basic Law that states mainland laws cannot be enforced in Hong Kong territory. “We do not think Article 18 would apply because... the mainland port area would be regarded as outside the territorial boundary of Hong Kong,” Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said. Opposition lawmakers remained unconvinced, vowing to go all out to block the arrangement for the HK$84.4 billion Hong Kong section of the express rail link, which is scheduled to open in the third quarter of next year. At least one judicial review would be launched against the co-location plan, a source said. The arrangement will grant mainland authorities full control of the area leased to them, including specific zones on two levels for border clearance, as well as all platforms and trains. Only six specified exemptions will be handled under local laws, including civil disputes between passengers or between travellers and the railway operator. The government pledged to consult the Legislative Council before China's top legislature, the National People's Congress, officially endorses the arrangement, which will then enable Hong Kong to enact local legislation to take it forward. Yuen dismissed the notion of ceding Hong Kong land, insisting the local government had fought for the city's interests. “The implementation of a co-location arrangement is neither a directive nor an order by the central people's government,” Yuen said. He also rejected concerns about Hongkongers' rights and freedoms being curbed under the deal when asked what would happen, for example, if a local resident was stopped at the mainland port area for wearing a T-shirt with a political message that would normally not be allowed across the border. The passenger would still have to go through border clearance procedures even if immigration facilities were kept separate, Yuen said, adding that the administration was “quite confident” about fending off legal challenges. Six alternative proposals, including on-board immigration clearance and amending the Basic Law, were studied by the two sides and rejected. A government source said the need for nearly full mainland jurisdiction in the leased area, beyond the immigration and quarantine aspects originally discussed, was to avoid legal uncertainties and loopholes due to “overlapping jurisdictions”. Opposition pan-democrats put up a united front to oppose the deal. “Pan-democratic lawmakers will try their utmost to prevent this law from passing through Legco,” camp convenor James To Kun-sun said. “Because this law would ultimately damage the principle of 'one country, two systems', Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and protection for Hong Kong people.” Basic Law Committee member Albert Chen Hung-yee, a University of Hong Kong legal scholar, said the idea was “innovative” and would not violate the mini-constitution, as the authorisation would come from the NPC. Tian Feilong, of the semi-official think tank Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, described it as an exceptional arrangement even for mainland China, as only a special administrative region such as Hong Kong would require a land lease with a sovereign state for such a project. Speaking before the Executive Council meeting, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor admitted the issue was a hot potato, but called on Hongkongers to view the matter in an objective and pragmatic way, saying the new administration would work hard to lobby the public.^ top ^

 

Macau

Macau billionaire Ng Lap-seng is convicted of bribery and laundering in UN corruption case (SCMP)
2017-07-28
A Chinese billionaire who wanted to build a United Nations centre in Macau was convicted at his bribery trial on Thursday. The verdict was returned in Manhattan federal court against Ng Lap-seng, one of China's richest men. Ng was convicted of bribery, conspiracy and money laundering charges. Prosecutors presented evidence that Ng from 2010 to 2015 bribed two UN ambassadors with hundreds of thousands of dollars to support his project to build a UN conference centre, but defence lawyers contended that Ng only paid money when he was asked to spend it to speed the project along. A prosecutor earlier this week had urged the jury to convict Ng, saying he bribed two United Nations ambassadors so he could build a UN facility in China that would be as big as the one in New York, a claim a defence attorney dismissed as “a big zero”. “The defendant Ng Lap-seng corrupted the United Nations,” Assistant US Attorney Janis Echenberg told the federal court jury on Tuesday during closings at a trial that kept Ng confined under 24-hour guard in a luxury Manhattan apartment for the last two years. She said the 69-year-old Ng paid millions of dollars to two UN ambassadors over a five-year period to clear away red tape so he could build a conference centre in Macau that would be the “Geneva of Asia”, where tens of thousands of people would spend money at his hotel, a marina, a condominium complex, a heliport and a shopping centre. Echenberg said it was a project that would bring Ng and his family “fame and more fortune”. “Brick by brick, bribe by bribe, the defendant built the path that he thought would build his legacy,” she said. Defence attorney Tai Park raised his voice repeatedly as he derided the prosecution as “frankly outrageous”. “It falls by its own weight,” he said. “It's a big zero.” Park reread aloud parts of a UN Task Force report that he said proved there were no rules or prohibition against the kind of private-public partnership that Ng had forged with the UN and its ambassadors to build a multibillion-dollar facility that would serve developing nations. He blamed the ambassadors, former UN General Assembly President John Ashe and suspended Dominican Republic Ambassador Francis Lorenzo, for abusing their relationships with Ng. “Mr Ng literally threw his money in every direction he was asked,” Park said. Ashe, who died last year in an accident at home, had asked Ng to rescue him in 2014 with a US$200,000 donation to pay for a concert after another person who was supposed to finance the event backed out, Park said. He said a US$20,000-per-month salary paid to Lorenzo was for his job as president of a media organisation meant to benefit developing nations. Echenberg said if there was any doubt about why Ng was paying Lorenzo a lot of money it was eliminated in December 2012, when he promised him an extra US$30,000 monthly to speed approval of the Macau centre. The prosecutor said Lorenzo's testimony was so damaging that Park spent six days on cross-examination. “You know he's guilty just by the testimony of ambassador Lorenzo,” she said. Lorenzo, who pleaded guilty to accepting and paying bribes, remains free on bail pending sentencing. ^ top ^

Policymakers to consider whether to end Air Macau's privileged position after 2020 (SCMP)
2017-07-23
Macau's policymakers will soon consider whether to end Air Macau's privileged position as the sole home airline. Whether a second home airline is created may become clearer at the end of the month when the territory's civil aviation regulator receives an interim report from consultants on the future development of the industry in the former Portuguese enclave. The government will decide whether to keep the status quo or not after Air Macau's franchise runs out in 2020. The general trend in aviation was to liberalise the aviation sector, said Chinese University aviation policy expert Dr Law Cheung-kwok, who is not involved in putting together the report. “I would advocate for the liberalisation of the number of airlines and other supporting services in aviation operations in Macau,” Law said. “As Air Macau is mainly controlled by Air China and is also a partner of Cathay Pacific, the fact there is only one airline that has a dominant market position in Hong Kong and Macau suggests there should be a more liberalised regime for the operation of new airlines in Macau,” he said. Macau's civil aviation authority said it would study the “pros and cons” of the final report once it is submitted by the consultants at the end of the year. The timing means Pansy Ho Chiu-king, chairwoman of Shun Tak Holdings and daughter of gaming tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, may be tempted to make a third attempt to launch an airline. Her first bid to set up a Macau budget airline collapsed in 2004. She then attempted to create another, Jetstar Hong Kong, with backing from Australian flag carrier Qantas and China Eastern, but it failed to secure regulatory approval from Hong Kong in 2015. Shenzhen and Macau flight paths could clash if Hong Kong gets third runway, study finds( The billionaire businesswoman sparked intrigue after she told The Australian newspaper last month about the possibility of relaunching Jetstar Hong Kong. “I think it might have been the wrong timing and I believe there might still be opportunities,” Ho told the newspaper of the past failure to get the budget airline off the ground. “I believe there will be opportunities about, simply because the whole region where we are operating out of is also evolving,” she added. A Shun Tak Holdings spokeswoman said it had nothing to say about Ho's comments. An industry executive who was close to an earlier initiative to start a Macau budget airline, suggested an opportunity to obtain a new licence was nearing. The source put the spotlight on the territory's aviation monopoly. “There is a play. If you want to start an airline in 2020, you would want to start laying the groundwork now – even if you weren't ready to come out publicly,” he said. Also citing the monopoly on Macau's airport ground handling services, he added: “If you can break the various monopolies and you get the political pull to say Macau should no longer have an exclusive airline licence regime since Air Macau had 25 years to get its act together, it would allow Macau and the Greater Bay Area to not fall further behind other Asian centres of [low-cost carrier] activity.” A source close to Pansy Ho, who was not authorised to speak publicly, was cryptic about the future when asked about a possible “play” on the Air Macau franchise. “You have tried to connect the dots, but that is not coming from her and I cannot say yes or no at this moment,” the source said. The Post understands Ho's enthusiasm stems from Beijing's backing of the Greater Bay Area development plan, bringing together Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong. However Qantas, which controls the Jetstar brand, has repeatedly ruled out a revival of its failed budget airline offshoot in Hong Kong. “Time has moved on and we have moved on,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce told the Post earlier this year. “We don't see that as something we would be interested in going back to and revisiting.” Jetstar's sister airlines in Singapore, Vietnam and Japan still manage to fly up to several times a day to Hong Kong without having a base in the city. The boss of Australia's national airline said while the business venture would have been “great”, Hong Kong's airport was now close to full, making it impossible for a new airline to launch new flights and expand quickly. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Warning for China as electronics giant Foxconn plugs into US incentives (SCMP)
2017-07-28
The decision by electronics giant Foxconn to spend US$10 billion building a flat-panel screen plant in the United States won't revive US manufacturing but it is a warning for China, analysts said. Foxconn, the Taiwan-headquartered assembler of iPhones and iPads, still has plans to expand in mainland China – it announced in December it would plough US$8.8 billion into a new plant in Guangzhou. It remains one of the biggest private employers in the country, with about a million workers from Zhengzhou to Chongqing. But its announcement on Thursday of a high-profile greenfield investment plan for a site in Wisconsin is a blow for China, where authorities have been concerned about the country's ability to continue to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). At a leadership meeting earlier this month, President Xi Jinping said the government should create a “stable, fair, transparent and predictable” environment for foreign businesses operating in China, once the darling of global investors. Rising costs, red tape and an end to incentives are eating away at China's attractiveness as a destination for investors, with FDI falling 0.1 per cent in the first half compared to a year earlier. Contractual FDI into Shanghai fell 47.1 per cent in the first half, its biggest half-yearly drop in inflows since 2010. On Thursday, Yang Weimin, a vice-minister in the Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, the ruling Communist Party's economic policy decisionmaking body, said stabilising investment from the private sector and foreign investors would be a key priority for Beijing in the second half. ING greater China economist Iris Pang said one of the big concerns for foreign investors in China was how to remit profits to home due to Beijing's draconian curbs on outbound payments. Another long-term fear was “they could be kicked out from their Chinese joint venture after the Chinese partners grasped their technologies”. Pang also said automation technology had greatly cut the reliance of big manufacturers like Foxconn on masses of employees, making China's labour-cost advantages less relevant. US President Donald Trump hailed Foxconn's decision as a sign that his policies were working. “This is a great day today for American manufacturing and American workers and for everybody who believes in the concept, in the label, Made in the USA,” Trump said. Part of the allure the US is the big incentives on offer for investers. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker said Foxconn would receive US$3 billion in tax breaks and other subsidies from the state over the next 15 years. However, it's not lights out for foreign business in China. Shen Jianguang, chief economist at Mizuho Securities Asia, said the US would not have much impact on China's FDI and there still was not a serious offshore shift in labour-intensive industries from China. “China still has the supply chains, good infrastructure and a big market,” Shen said. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

North Korean official accuses UN of refusing to discuss alternatives to sanctions (SCMP)
2017-07-27
North Korea has slammed UN Security Council resolutions meant to restrict the country's trade and international financial ties and accused Secretary General Antonio Guterres of ignoring multiple requests from Pyongyang to consider alternatives. North Korean deputy permanent representative to the UN Kim In-ryong said Guterres has not responded to requests to convene an “international forum of legal experts” to discuss the legal justification for UN sanctions implemented and tightened in recent years – most recently in November 2016. The Security Council's resolutions are meant to stop Pyongyang's nuclear detonations and missile tests, a programme analysts say is meant to develop nuclear weapons. The body has issued a series of resolutions since 2006, after six-nation talks involving North Korea, China, the US, Japan, South Korea and Russia broke down. Kim's delegation has also sent several petitions to the UN Security Council seeking an emergency meeting to discuss joint military exercises conducted by the US and South Korea. “However, as everybody witnessed, the UN secretariat turned its back to our fair requests, and rather picked a quarrel only with our legitimate exercise of the right to self-defence against the US nuclear threats and blackmail,” Kim said, reading from a prepared statement. The Security Council has held two emergency meetings in as many weeks to discuss the North Korean military's most recent missile tests. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, backed by her Japanese and South Korean counterparts, is calling for additional measures aimed at isolating North Korea and on May 16 asked for consensus on ways to punish countries that flout existing resolutions. North Korea characterises its missile tests as “part of normal procedures to bolster the military capabilities for self-defence and a process that has to be gone through for deployment”, Kim said on Friday. Haley and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have ruled out any negotiation with North Korea until its government takes verifiable steps to freeze its weapons programme. ^ top ^

North Korea making 'alarming progress' and could strike US with nuclear-capable ICBM by end of 2018 (SCMP)
2017-07-26
North Korea will be able to field a reliable, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile as early as next year, US officials have concluded in a confidential assessment that dramatically shrinks the timeline for when Pyongyang could strike North American cities with atomic weapons. The new assessment by the Pentagon's Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), which shaves a full two years off the consensus forecast for North Korea's ICBM programme, was prompted by recent missile tests showing surprising technical advances by the country's weapons scientists, at a pace beyond which many analysts believed was possible for the isolated communist regime. The US projection closely mirrors revised predictions by South Korean intelligence officials, who also have watched with growing alarm as North Korea has appeared to master key technologies needed to launch a warhead toward targets thousands of miles away. The finding further increases the pressure on US and Asian leaders to halt North Korea's progress before it can threaten the world with nuclear-tipped missiles. US President Donald Trump, during his visit to Poland earlier this month, vowed to confront Pyongyang “very strongly” to stop its missile advances. The DIA has concluded that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be able to produce a “reliable, nuclear-capable ICBM” programme some time in 2018, meaning that by next year the programme will have advanced from prototype to assembly line, according to officials familiar with the document. Already, the aggressive testing regime put in place in recent months has allowed North Korea to validate its basic designs, putting it within a few months of starting industrial production, the officials said. The DIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to address any classified assessments. But Scott Bray, ODNI's national intelligence manager for East Asia, said in a statement: “North Korea's recent test of an intercontinental range ballistic missile – which was not a surprise to the intelligence community – is one of the milestones that we have expected would help refine our timeline and judgments on the threats that Kim Jong-un poses to the continental US. “This test, and its impact on our assessments, highlight the threat that North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes pose to the United States, to our allies in the region, and to the whole world. The intelligence community is closely monitoring the expanding threat from North Korea.” One of the few remaining technical hurdles is the challenge of atmospheric “re-entry” – the ability to design a missile that can pass through the upper atmosphere without damage to the warhead. Long regarded as a formidable technological barrier for impoverished North Korea, that milestone could be reached, beginning with new tests expected to take place within days, US analysts said. US officials have detected signs North Korea is making final preparations for testing a new re-entry vehicle, perhaps as early as Thursday, a North Korean national holiday marking the end of the Korean war. “They're on track to do that, essentially this week,” said a US official familiar with the intelligence report who, like others, insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive military assessments. North Korea has not yet demonstrated an ability to build a miniaturised nuclear warhead that could be carried by one of its missiles. Officials there last year displayed a sphere-shaped device the regime described as a miniaturised warhead, but there as been no public confirmation that this milestone has been achieved. Preparations reportedly have been under way for several months for what would be the country's sixth underground atomic test. The last one, in September, had an estimated yield of 20 to 30 kilotons, more than double the explosive force of any previous test. North Korea startled the world earlier this month with its successful July 4 test of a missile capable of striking parts of Alaska – the first such missile with proven intercontinental range. The launch of a two-stage “Hwasong-14” missile was the latest in a series of tests in recent months that have revealed startlingly rapid advances across a number of technical fields, from mastery of solid-fuel technology to the launch of the first submarine-based missile, current and former intelligence officials and weapons experts said. “There has been alarming progress,” said Joseph De Trani, the former mission manager for North Korea for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a former special envoy for negotiations with Pyongyang. “In the last year they have gained capabilities that they didn't have, including ones that we thought they would not have been able to obtain for years.” The July 4 missile test also caught South Korea's intelligence service off guard, prompting a hasty revision of forecasts, according to South Korean lawmakers who have received closed-door briefings. “The speed of North Korea's ICBM missile development is faster than the South Korean Defence Ministry expected,” said lawmaker Lee Cheol-hee, of the left-wing Minjoo party, who attended an intelligence committee briefing after the July 4 test. The South Korean government, which is actively trying to engage the regime in Pyongyang, has declined to call the most recent test a success. North Korea still has not proved it has mastered some of the steps needed to build a reliable ICBM, most notably the re-entry vehicle, Lee said. Still, officials across the political spectrum acknowledged that North Korea is rapidly gaining ground. “Now they are approaching the final stage of being a nuclear power and the owner of an ICBM,” said Cha Du-hyeong, who served as an adviser to conservative former president Lee Myung-bak. US spy agencies have detected multiple signals that North Korea is preparing to test a re-entry vehicle. Analysts believe that the July 4 test was intended to demonstrate range – the ability of its new two-stage ICBM prototype to reach altitude and distance milestones – while the new launch will seek to validate engineering features designed to protect the warhead as it passes through the upper atmosphere and then is delivered to a distant target. The latest designs appear to cobble together older systems – including portions of a missile frame used to launch satellites into orbit – with a more advanced engine that North Korea began testing earlier this year. Much of the technology is based on old Soviet-era designs that have been reworked by what US experts describe as an increasingly capable cadre of home-grown engineers, goaded along by a leadership that has pursued nuclear weapons and delivery systems with single-minded zeal. Kim vowed in January to successfully test a nuclear-capable ICBM in 2017, achieving a long-sought goal that North Koreans believe will serve as the ultimate deterrent against threats to the communist regime's survival. At the time, the US intelligence community's formal assessment still held that a credible ICBM threat would not emerge until 2020 at the earliest. “North Korea's timeline moved faster than we expected,” said the US official familiar with the new DIA assessment. “We weren't expecting an ICBM test in July.” Former US officials and weapons experts said a successful test of a nuclear-capable ICBM would dramatically raise the stakes in the North Korean crisis, putting new pressure on North Korea's neighbours and increasing the risk of miscalculation. “The danger is that decision time and warning is greatly reduced when North Korea has the weapons, and that escalation can happen quickly,” said Jon Wolfsthal, senior director for arms control and non-proliferation with the Obama administration's National Security Council. The spectre of a nuclear-armed, ICBM-capable Kim “takes the risk to a new level but does not change the nature of the threat we have faced for some time,” Wolfsthal said. “We have to deter North Korea from ever using any nuclear weapons and make clear that any move to use these weapons is suicide.” ^ top ^

US praises progress with China on N.Korea (Global Times)
2017-07-26
The US is making progress in talks with China on imposing new UN sanctions on Pyongyang over its latest missile test, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said. The US gave China a draft resolution nearly three weeks ago to impose stronger sanctions on North Korea over the July 4 missile launch. Haley had been aiming for a vote by the 15-member Security Council within weeks, senior diplomats said. "We're constantly in touch with China... Things are moving but it's still too early to tell how far they'll move," Haley said on Tuesday, adding that she was pleased with China's initial response to the US proposal because it showed "seriousness." "We know that China's been sharing and negotiating with Russia, so as long as they are doing that, we're going to continue to watch this closely to make sure it is a strong resolution," she told reporters. China's UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi told reporters, "We are making progress, it requires time, but we're working very hard." Speaking in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said any UN moves should help ensure peace, stability and denuclearization. "All sides need to maintain pressure, and also work hard to ease the tense situation on the peninsula as soon as possible, creating a beneficial environment and atmosphere for resuming contacts and talks," Lu told a daily news briefing. The US and Russia have waged rival campaigns at the Security Council over the type of ballistic missile fired by North Korea. Western powers have said it was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), while Russia said the missile fired was only medium-range. North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs and the Security Council has ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear weapon tests and two long-range missile launches. When asked how long Washington was willing to negotiate with China at the UN before deciding to impose its own secondary sanctions, Haley said, "We're making progress... We're going to see what the situation is." China's Ambassador to Washington Cui Tiankai said on Tuesday that Beijing objected to secondary sanctions. In June, the US blacklisted two Chinese citizens and a shipping company for helping North Korea's missile programs. "Such actions are unacceptable. They have severely impaired China-US cooperation on the Korean nuclear issue, and give rise to more questions about the true intention of the US," he told the Institute for China-America Studies in Washington. ^ top ^

North Koreans entering into China illegally not refugees: FM spokesperson (Global Times)
2017-07-24
China said on Monday that it had properly handled the issue of some North Koreans illegally entering the country, saying "those who enter illegally cannot be categorized as refugees." "The North Koreans who illegally trespassed into China are not refugees. They broke China's law and entered the country in an illegal manner," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a daily briefing on Monday. The Chinese government has properly handled the issues related to the illegal entry of North Koreans in accordance with China's law, international law and the principle of humanitarianism, according to Lu. The remarks came after Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, said Friday that he was "alarmed" by the alleged increase of repatriations of North Koreans from China, AFP reported. "We urge UN's human rights mechanism to abide by the principles in the UN Charter and relevant people to fulfill their duties in a fair and objective manner," said Lu. "We also urge it to respect the normal law enforcement of China's judicial organizations," Lu added. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

UNDP, SDC and Parliament hold a project board meeting (Montsame)
2017-07-28
The 'Strengthening of Local Self-Governing Bodies in Mongolia' project is being-co-implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Mongolian Parliament. N.Enkhbold, Head of Parliamentary Standing committee on State Structure opened the meeting which addressed a report on project operations in the first half of 2017, and revision to the project operations in 2017. In the first half of 2017, a memorandum of understanding has been signed with the Academy of Governance within the scope of an objective to institutionalize national training programmes for local elected representatives. Members of local Citizens' Representative Khurals will be attending capacity-building training programmes. Moreover, the Cabinet Secretariat will be in charge of running the www.khural.mn website of Citizens' Representative Khurals. Then, Ts.Tsolmon, Secretary-General of Parliamentary Office briefed the meeting attendees about revisions to the project operations which became, according to him, necessary after some changes made to project finance. The revision proposal was given a nod by the board members. UNDP Resident Coordinator Beate Trankmann, SDC Director Gabriella Spirli and corresponding Mongolian officials were present at the meeting. ^ top ^

7th roundtable meeting between central banks of Mongolia and China being held (Montsame)
2017-07-27
During the meeting, the central banks of both countries are expected to present their monetary policies and are discussing issues of exchange of currency. On July 6, the Bank of Mongolia extended the CNY 15 billion swap agreement with the People's Bank of China to 2020. The economic cooperation of the two countries is further expanding. But the bilateral trade is mostly conducted using US Dollar. Therefore, the Deputy Governor of BoM B.Lkhagvasuren signified the importance of swap agreement on using MNT and CNY for bilateral trade. Mr. B.Lkhagvasuren said “Mongolia has used 70 percent of the CNY 15 billion. But China has only spent MNT 500 million. Therefore, it is important to focus on increasing the usage of MNT in China. Presently, 12 Mongolian banks are cooperating with Chinese banks. Bank of China and ICBC Bank of China have their representative offices in Mongolia and haven't officially opened a branch. We don't have regulations for foreign banks to open a branch in Mongolia. Legal reforms are currently in process in our country and discussions on Law on Development Bank of Mongolia started taking place during the Parliament's spring session. And a draft law on Commercial Banks will be discussed soon.” ^ top ^

Extreme drought hits third of Mongolian territory (The UB Post)
2017-07-27
Approximately 34 percent of the country has been hit with severe drought, according to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry. In addition, the ministry reported that 43 percent of the country is experiencing a moderate drought, while only 23 percent of land has been designated as having no drought (normal status). Despite efforts to alleviate dryness, including weather modification operations to produce rain, the drought is expected to intensify, reports the Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment. The institute also warned that the drought in the agricultural province of Selenge and in the northern part of Sukhbaatar Province has reached dangerous levels. The large number of wildfires spreading across the country has been in part caused by people, but officials say the drought is making the situation even worse. The National Emergency Management Agency has been actively fighting wildfires and has recently reported that the majority of wildfires have been put out. In order to maintain the security of livestock for the coming winter, the ministry has planned to prepare 30,800 tons of fodder and 11,700 tons of forage. Herders are preparing 1.2 million tons of feed, 36,000 tons of straw, and 141,900 tons of salt lick. However, due to lack of land to harvest hay as a result of drought, the ministry has observed a surge in the price of animal feed. In response, Cabinet recently temporarily banned the export of all feed and forage. In 2015, the completion of forage preparation nationwide was at 82 percent, while that number dropped to 60 percent in 2016. Preliminary statistics show that around 66 million livestock will need feed for winter. ^ top ^

EU to open Delegation to Mongolia (Gogo Mongolia)
2017-07-25
The European Union will, following a decision by Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, open a Delegation to Mongolia. With its new Delegation in Ulaanbaatar, the EU will have a total of 140 Delegations around the world. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The European Union is delivering on a promise to open a fully-fledged delegation in Mongolia – a democratic country strategically located between China and Russia and an important partner for us. I have visited Mongolia three times, the first in 1998 and most recently in 2016. The wonderful progress of this country and its development deserves our warmest congratulations, and certainly merits a full-time European Union presence." The High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini said: "Mongolia has an important role in a complex region, with a unique geostrategic position. This Delegation represents an investment for the European Union in view of strengthening our relationship with Mongolia, and a commitment to the people of the country. Soon we will also conclude* our new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which is a further demonstration of the importance we place on developing our close ties." The decision by the High Representative/Vice President follows the agreement of the Commission and the Council of the European Union and will be implemented in the course of 2017. The decision to open a Delegation in Ulaanbaatar underscores the significant progress that has been made in developing EU-Mongolia relations. The establishment of an EU Delegation in Ulaanbaatar will allow both sides to step up their political dialogue and cooperation and will pave the way for the further strengthening of the partnership. ^ top ^

Mongolian and Chinese delegates agree on promoting “Tea Road tourism” (Montsame)
2017-07-25
The Tea Road, a joint project of Mongolia, China and Russia for promoting tourism, has been chosen as a priority project to be implemented in frames of the three countries' cooperation under the Agreement on Establishing Economic Corridor. The project was also discussed during the Second Ministerial Meeting for Tourism of Mongolia, Russia and China, took place on June 21 in Ulan-Ude, Russia. “Khukh Mongolyn Udurlug” event, with an aim to promote the Tea Road Project, was held last weekend in Ulaanbaatar, attracting about 400 delegates from China. The sides exchanged ideas on enhancing tourism along Tea Road through promoting the Tea Road tourism brand. In the ancient times, Tea Road used to be another trade route to connect the three neighboring nations. Now it passes through 10 cities of Mongolia, Russia and China. During the event, delegates agreed on appointing the Third Ministerial Meeting for Tourism in Ulaanbaatar. ^ top ^

President Kh.Battulga hopes to develop IT cooperation with India (The UB Post)
2017-07-21
On July 20, President Kh.Battulga met with Ambassador of India to Mongolia Suresh Babu to discuss information technology and economic cooperation between the two countries. During the meeting, the sides highlighted that the two nations have significantly developed their cooperation in defense, security, education, and information technology in recent years. President Kh.Battulga underlined that developing information technology will be of great strategic importance to Mongolia, a landlocked country, and outlined his focus on developing the information technology sector in Mongolia. Kh.Battulga emphasized that a loan of 20 million USD that has been announced by India during the Mongolian President's visit to India eight years ago has been delayed, so spending this loan to develop information technology in Mongolia and to educate Mongolian specialists in information technology in India will be of significant importance. The President noted that he wants to establish an overseas branch of the Indian Institute of Technology, a leading Indian information technology university, in Ulaanbaatar, and asked the Indian Ambassador to convey his proposal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ambassador Babu stated that during Narendra Modi's visit to Mongolia in 2015, he agreed to establish a joint information technology center in Ulaanbaatar, and noted that the embassy is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office to actualize the initiative. The Indian Ambassador noted that as the President of India chairs the board of directors of Indian information technology sector, and highlighted that the presidents of the two countries have the opportunity to work together on developing information technology. He added that cooperating in cyber security is important for developing information technology cooperation between the two countries. President Kh.Battulga stated that the two countries have successfully developed their political cooperation for many years, but development of economic cooperation between the countries have been weak, and he proposed that establishing an Indian trade center in Ulaanbaatar could help increase trade turnover between the two countries. Kh.Battulga added that combining an Indian offer to launch a direct flight between Ulaanbaatar and Delhi and his offer to establish an India's trade center in Ulaanbaatar would be of great importance to increasing economic cooperation between the two countries. ^ top ^

 

Mr. Giordano Felli
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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