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
  28.8-1.9.17, No. 685  
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Foreign Policy

Chinese-Canadian trespasser was 'trying to steal secrets' when US tech firm's CEO discovered him in conference room (SCMP)
2017-09-01
A dual citizen of China and Canada has been arrested and charged with trying to steal trade secrets from a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of robotic surgical products by trespassing at its headquarters. Kevin Dong Liu, who authorities said claimed to be a patent lawyer with a Beijing-based law firm when he was questioned about what he was doing at Medrobotics Corp, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in Boston federal court on Thursday. The 44-year-old man was charged with one count of attempting to steal trade secrets and one count of attempting to intentionally access a computer without authorisation. A federal magistrate judge ordered Liu held without bail pending a hearing on Wednesday. Neither his lawyer nor Medrobotics responded to requests for comment. The case comes amid heightened concern about Chinese theft of US trade secrets. US President Donald Trump earlier this month authorised an inquiry into China's alleged theft of intellectual property. Liu was arrested on Monday by police in Raynham, Massachusetts, after the chief executive of privately held Medrobotics discovered Liu in a company conference room as he was leaving for the night, according to charging documents. The chief executive was not identified by name in court papers, but Medrobotics says its Chief Executive Officer is Samuel Straface. Liu, who had three laptop computers open, claimed to be there to meet company officials, including the chief executive himself, when in fact no such meetings were planned, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent said in an affidavit. Liu showed him an online biography that stated that he led the intellectual property practice in medical device, biotech, and other hi-tech areas for a Beijing-based law firm, the affidavit said. He gave inconsistent answers when questioned by police about how he got into the building, which is secured 24 hours a day and requires a key card to gain entrance, court papers said. He also told them he was from Montreal and produced a Chinese passport for identification, according to the affidavit. "The police found Liu's further conversation convoluted and vague," it said. The FBI later confiscated from Liu a collection of electronic equipment that the agent said could be used to acquire or store data belonging to Medrobotics. Medrobotics' chief executive told authorities that for 10 years, people from China have been trying to develop business relationships with the company, though it has no intention of doing business with Chinese firms, according to court papers. ^ top ^

Five things to watch out for at the BRICS nations summit in China (SCMP)
2017-09-01
China and India's leaders will meet this weekend at a BRICS nation summit days after the two nations ended a military standoff in a border area high in the Himalayas. The BRICS countries – Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa – are a grouping of the some of the world's major emerging economies, which account for about 23 per cent of the world's economy and 43 per cent of its population. Leaders of the nations will converge on the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen for the bloc's ninth summit between Sunday and Tuesday. Here are some of the big issues to look out for. 1. Will the border row affect Sino-Indian relations? In the aftermath of near three-month stand-off between Chinese and Indian troops on the Doklam plateau, all eyes will be on President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to see if the dispute has impaired their ability to work together and forge new agreements. Before troops from both sides withdrew from the disputed area of the border, there was even talk that Modi would skip the BRICS summit. He is coming and the event will allow the two leaders' first face-to-face discussions since the border dispute broke out in June. 2. Can the summit help revitalize economic growth among its members? The BRICS nations have experienced economic slowdowns in recent years. Brazil is dealing with economic depression and political divisions amid corruptions scandals, South Africa faces a recession and bids to oust its prime mister and Russia has suffered under sanctions and weak oil prices. China, meanwhile is managing an economic slowdown while preparing for a major reshuffle among its leadership. The BRICS grouping's primary aim is to ensure that more nations have a say in the institutions that govern global trade and the economy, according to Luiz Pinto, joint fellow at the Brookings Doha Centre and Qatar University. The summit may showcase new financial cooperation agreements and economic projects. It may also bolster BRICS' proposals intended to counter the influence of Western-dominated institutions, such as the World Bank. 3. Will China and BRICS nations take on a greater role as world leaders? The group may partly fill the vacuum left by the United States as President Donald Trump pursues policies leaning towards economic isolationism. Moves to increase BRICS nations' leadership role will probably be largely driven by China, according to analysts. This is partly because its economy is massively larger than some other members, such as South Africa and Russia. BRICS could be placed "in a more formidable position to bolster their collective leadership position", political economist Simon Freemantle wrote in a Standard Bank report. 4. Will BRICS nations continue to pursue sustainable development projects and goals? The group's New Development Bank approved US$1.4 billion in loans for four sustainable development projects in China, India, and Russia ahead of the summit. The bank has so far approved US$4 billion in loans for infrastructure and similar development projects and is expected to approve billions more in the following few years, according to analysts. With the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, BRICS may also demonstrate its climate commitments at the summit, Freemantle wrote in his report. 5. Are more countries likely to join the group? The leaders of five other developing nations will attend the summit – Tajikistan, Egypt, Mexico, Guinea and Thailand. China has for months advocated a "BRICS Plus" approach to potentially expand the bloc's influence with more member countries. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said Beijing wants to broaden the discussion to include non-BRICS countries, to meet "the common aspirations of emerging markets and developing countries". More countries taking part in the summit could signal the inclusion of additional BRICS members, which would "inestimably bolster the importance, representativeness and clout of the grouping", according to Freemantle. ^ top ^

China, Tajikistan agree to forge comprehensive strategic partnership (Xinhua)
2017-09-01
Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon here on Thursday, agreeing to establish comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. Applauding Tajikistan's support for the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi said both sides should synergize the Belt and Road Initiative with Tajikistan's national development strategy for the period up to 2030. The two countries should cooperate more in transportation, energy, ports and network infrastructure development to improve all-round connectivity, Xi said. The Chinese president suggested both sides break new ground in agriculture, industrial capacity cooperation and scientific innovation. Xi encouraged Tajikistan to establish links with Chinese financial institutions, the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, saying China is willing to work with Tajikistan to facilitate trade and investment. As countries with great ancient civilization, China and Tajikistan can have more exchanges in culture, education and youth, according to Xi. As rotating chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), China will work with Tajikistan for SCO progress in politics, the economy, security, culture cooperation and external exchanges, Xi said. He said the SCO members should intensify partnerships in security, connectivity and trade, and foster an integrated development in the region. Rahmon described China as a "good neighbor, partner and brother" and praised the close cooperation in politics, culture, trade and investment. Tajikistan backs the Silk Road Economic Belt and will work with China to expand partnership in finance, agriculture, water resources, energy and mining, among others, Rahmon said. He said Tajikistan looks forward to more coordination with China in regional and international affairs and more cooperation in law enforcement and security. Rahmon said his country will give full support for China's work as rotating chair of the SCO. After the talks, the two heads of state signed a joint statement on establishing comprehensive strategic partnership. China and Tajikistan agreed to jointly launch cross-border railway, road and natural gas pipeline projects, and explore cooperation in wind and solar energy, according to the joint statement. Both sides will better share intelligence to fight the "evil forces" of terrorism, extremism and separatism, as well as cybercrime, drug smuggling and transnational organized crime, the joint statement said. Tajikistan follows the one-China policy, opposes any form of Taiwan independence and supports the Chinese government's effort to achieve national reunification, it said. The two presidents also witnessed the signing of a series of cooperation documents, including a bilateral cooperation plan, and agreements on science, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, human resources and media. Prior to the talks, Xi held a red-carpet welcome ceremony for Rahmon at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Also on Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Zhang Dejiang met with Rahmon respectively. Rahmon is paying a state visit to China from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 at the invitation of Xi. He will also attend the Dialogue of Emerging Markets and Developing Countries in Xiamen, a coastal city in southeastern China's Fujian Province. ^ top ^

BRICS: Towards New Horizons of Strategic Partnership: Putin (Xinhua)
2017-09-01
The 9th BRICS Summit will be held in Xiamen, China, on September 4 and 5. I consider it important in this regard to present Russia's approaches to cooperation within the framework of this large and respected association and to share my views on the future of our further cooperation. I would like to begin by expressing our appreciation of China's significant contribution as this year's chair of the organisation, which has allowed the BRICS countries as a group to move forward in all the key areas of our partnership, including politics, the economy and culture. Moreover, the group of five has greatly strengthened its global standing. It is important that our group's activities are based on the principles of equality, respect for one another's opinions and consensus. Within BRICS, nothing is ever forced on anyone. When the approaches of its members do not coincide, we work patiently and carefully to coordinate them. This open and trust-based atmosphere is conducive to the successful implementation of our tasks. Russia highly values the multifaceted cooperation that has developed within BRICS. Our countries' constructive cooperation on the international arena is aimed at creating a fair multipolar world and equal development conditions for all. Russia stands for closer coordination of the BRICS countries' foreign policies, primarily at the UN and G20, as well as other international organisations. It is clear that only the combined efforts of all countries can help bring about global stability and find solutions to many acute conflicts, including those in the Middle East. I would like to say that it was largely thanks to the efforts of Russia and other concerned countries that conditions have been created to improve the situation in Syria. We have delivered a powerful blow to the terrorists and laid the groundwork for launching the movement towards a political settlement and the return of the Syrian people to peace. However, the fight against terrorists in Syria and other countries and regions must continue. Russia calls for going over from debates to the practical creation of a broad counterterrorism front based on international law and led by the UN. Naturally, we highly appreciate the support and assistance of our BRICS partners in this respect. I have to say a few words about the situation on the Korean Peninsula, where tensions have grown recently and the situation is balancing on the brink of a large-scale conflict. Russia believes that the policy of putting pressure on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear missile programme is misguided and futile. The region's problems should only be settled through a direct dialogue of all the parties concerned without any preconditions. Provocations, pressure and militarist and insulting rhetoric are a dead-end road. Russia and China have created a roadmap for a settlement on the Korean Peninsula that is designed to promote the gradual easing of tensions and the creation of a mechanism for lasting peace and security. Russia also calls for promoting the interaction of the BRICS countries in the area of global information security. We propose joining our efforts to create a legal basis for cooperation and subsequently to draft and adopt universal rules of responsible behaviour of states in this sphere. A major step towards this goal would be the signing of an intergovernmental BRICS agreement on international information security. I would like to point out that on Russia's initiative a BRICS Strategy for Economic Partnership was adopted at the Ufa Summit in 2015 and is being successfully implemented. We hope to be able to discuss new large-scale cooperation tasks in trade and investment and industrial cooperation at the Xiamen Summit. Russia is interested in promoting economic cooperation within the BRICS format. Considerable practical achievements have been recently reported in this area, primarily the launch of the New Development Bank (NDB). It has approved seven investment projects in the BRICS countries worth around $1.5 billion. This year, the NDB is to approve a second package of investment projects worth $2.5-$3 billion in total. I am convinced that their implementation will not only be a boost to our economies but will also promote integration between our countries. Russia shares the BRICS countries' concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies. We will also work towards a more balanced distribution of quotas and voting shares within the IMF and the World Bank. I am confident that the BRICS countries will continue to act in a consolidated manner against protectionism and new barriers in global trade. We value the BRICS countries' consensus on this issue, which allows us to more consistently advocate the foundations of an open, equal and mutually beneficial multilateral trade system and to strengthen the role of the WTO as the key regulator in international trade. Russia's initiative on the development of cooperation among the BRICS countries' antimonopoly agencies is aimed at creating effective mechanisms to encourage healthy competition. The goal is to create a package of cooperation measures to work against the restrictive business practices of large multinational corporations and trans-border violations of competition rules. I would like to draw your attention to Russia's initiative on the establishment of a BRICS Energy Research Platform. We believe that this would enable us to coordinate our information, analysis and research activities in the interests of the five BRICS countries and would ultimately facilitate the implementation of joint energy investment projects. Another priority is to build up our cooperation in the area of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). We believe that we should integrate the national SMEs' online resources for placing crosslinks and other commercial information and for exchanging data on reliable partners. Russia is advocating the Women and the Economy public-private dialogue. This initiative provides for holding regular debates by members of the BRICS countries' business and expert communities, women's associations and government agencies. The first such meeting was held in Novosibirsk on July 4, 2017, on the sidelines of the First International Women's Congress of the SCO and BRICS Member States. Another related idea is to create a BRICS Women's Business Club as a network of professional interaction between women in business through a specialised online information resource. Our other priorities include cooperation in science, technology, innovations and cutting edge medicine. Our countries have a big potential in this respect that comprises a solid and mutually complementary research base, unique technical achievements, skilled personnel and huge markets for science-intensive products. We propose discussing at the upcoming summit a package of measures to reduce the threat of infectious diseases and to create new medicines to prevent and fight epidemics. I believe our cooperation in the humanitarian sphere has excellent prospects. While working to implement the BRICS Intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Culture, we hope that our partners will take part in the New Wave and New Wave Junior international contests of young pop singers. We have also advanced the initiative to create a joint television network of the BRICS countries. Russia stands for strengthening the BRICS countries' partnership in politics, the economy, culture and other areas. We are ready to continue working jointly with our colleagues to promote democracy and to strengthen the healthy elements of international relations based firmly on international law. I am convinced that the Xiamen Summit will help invigorate our countries' efforts towards finding solutions to the challenges of the 21st century and will propel cooperation within BRICS to a higher level. I wholeheartedly wish health and success to your readers and to all people in the BRICS countries. ^ top ^

China to strengthen patrolling, defense of Dong Lang (Xinhua)
2017-08-31
China's armed forces will strengthen patrolling and defense of the Dong Lang (Doklam) area to resolutely safeguard the country's sovereign security, a military spokesperson said Thursday. China's military has paid close attention to the situation and taken emergency measures to reinforce border controls since the Dong Lang incident occurred, said Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, at a press conference. "Chinese troops resolutely maintain the country's territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights," he said, adding that they have also used military diplomacy and border contact channels to promote the proper resolution of the issue. On June 18, more than 270 armed Indian troops with two bulldozers crossed the boundary into Dong Lang in Chinese sovereign territory to obstruct infrastructure construction. China on Monday confirmed that India had withdrawn personnel and equipment from Dong Lang after a military stand-off lasting more than two months. ^ top ^

Chinese military made multiple attempts to negotiate with India to end stand-off, ministry says (SCMP)
2017-08-31
China's defence ministry said on Thursday it made multiple attempts to negotiate with India during their protracted stand-off in the Himalayas through military and border defence channels. Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang also told reporters in Beijing that China would boost patrols in the disputed region and would continue to make road building plans "taking into consideration various factors". The two countries on Monday ended a face-off on the remote Doklam plateau that began in mid-June when China began building a road in the disputed area close to Bhutan. "Not in a single moment have we forgotten our responsibility of safeguarding the motherland and upholding peace," Ren said. "Not in a single moment have we relented in our targeted preparation for military struggle." Ren said that during the stand-off, the Chinese military had put emergency response measures into action, stepped up border patrols and made deployments to ensure combat readiness. Efforts to communicate with the Indian military had played an important role in ending the 70-day face-off, he said. "The Chinese side will continue to strengthen patrols in the Donglang area," Ren said, using the Chinese name for Doklam. "In the future, we will continue to make plans for infrastructure construction, taking into consideration various factors including the weather conditions." Ren also defended China's roadworks, saying they were needed to "better guard our border and improve the living and working conditions of the military and civilians in the area". Details are sketchy as to how the worst border dispute between the two countries in more than three decades came to an end. India's foreign ministry on Monday announced an "expeditious disengagement" of troops from Doklam after agreement was reached between the two sides. China's foreign ministry meanwhile said it was pleased that "trespassing Indian personnel have all pulled back to the Indian side of the boundary" but would not confirm whether China had stopped the roadworks. Instead, its spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: "We will consider various factors such as weather conditions when formulating infrastructure plans." Ren on Thursday also dismissed as "pure fabrication" reports that China had provided a subsidised loan to India in exchange for a troop withdrawal. "We have checked with the related authorities within the government and such reports are pure fabrication," he said. When asked whether an annual China-India military exercise would be held as usual this year, Ren said only that the two nations needed to improve strategic communications to avoid miscalculations. ^ top ^

Even with Modi back on board, China will find it hard to keep emerging markets club together (SCMP)
2017-08-31
The confirmation that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will show up in the coastal city of Xiamen next week has cleared a major obstacle to a "successful" BRICS leader summit – an event that China has been preparing for months to showcase its global influence. However, a ceremonial summit may not heal deep cracks in the club of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The member countries' economic and social differences as well as their varying diplomatic priorities will continue to test whether the group can stand as a new bloc to challenge the dominance of rich democracies, led by US, Germany and UK, in the global order, analysts said. While China, with an economy bigger than the rest of the four combined, is trying to paint the bloc as an engine for global growth or even globalisation, the group's fragility was laid bare in a tense border stand-off between China and India in the Himalayas, which was only resolved days before the summit. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a press conference on Wednesday that Beijing hopes New Delhi can "learn lessons" from the recent Doklam stand-off, a sign that rivalry between China and India still flare up again inside the small group. The original term of BRIC was coined by Jim O'Neill in 2001 when he was the head of global economic research for Goldman Sachs. Like other catchy phrases used by Wall Street to woo investors and the public – such as MINT, which refers to Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey, and PIGS, a term referring to the troubled countries of Portugal, Italy (or sometimes Ireland), Greece, and Spain during the European sovereign debt crisis – it contains little geopolitical or institutional meaning. Then the global financial crisis, starting from 2007, hit developed economies hard and the emerging countries of China, Brazil and India felt they need a bigger voice in global governance. At the G8 summit Hokkaido, Japan, in early 2008, China was invited as a guest but felt it was being sidelined or even insulted at the event, forcing Beijing to seek a new platform to exert its influence, diplomatic sources later told the South China Morning Post. The solution it came up with was G20 and the BRIC club. Unlike other international blocs such as the Commonwealth, ASEAN or European Union, BRICS members shared no common historical or cultural backgrounds, no common vision and little economic integration. What the members shared was a resentment towards Western dominance over global affairs. South Africa was invited to join in 2010 so that Africa would have a voice in the club, which represented emerging markets. China – which is the largest trading partner for 120 other countries – is the single most important member. It is a major trading partner for the other four BRICS. Buts its combined trade turnover with India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa was less than half of China's trade with the United States in 2016, according to data complied by UN Comtrade. If China is taken out, the trade flows between the rest four are much less significant. For instance, Brazil accounted for less than 1 per cent of India's trade, and less than 2 per cent of Russia's exports went to India and only 0.6 per cent to Brazil. "BRICS is a limited framework that is showing more cracks over time. Coined to describe a group of emerging economies, the concept has been stretched well beyond its original meaning," said Jonathan Hillman, a fellow at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Hillman said there was"more competition than cooperation" among some of the BRICS members and the economic component to the bloc has been proved less impressive than previously thought. To beef up the cooperation, a New Development Bank has been created in Shanghai modelled on the World Bank. The five countries have also agreed to set up a US$100 billion foreign exchange reserve pool with US$41 billion provided by China, a mechanism that could potentially take over some of the market support functions performed by the International Monetary Fund. The BRICS concept fell out of favour among the investment community after Goldman Sachs quietly shut its BRICS-themed fund in 2015. By then it had lost nearly 90 per cent of its value compared with its peak five years earlier. However, Beijing is trying to keep the idea alive on the geopolitical stage by holding ministerial meetings, signing papers promoting cooperation and making one speech after another that the BRICS are entering a golden decade. The zenith will be the leaders' summit in Xiamen. It will be the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping has hosted the BRICS summit since he became the country's leader. Xi spent three years in the city as a vice mayor in late 1980s as he started his ascent to the highest office. Xi will welcome Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, South African President Jacob Zuma and Brazilian President Michel Temer to the event. In addition, China has also invited the leaders of Thailand, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Guinea and Mexico to Xiamen, a gesture that China is open to the idea of expanding the club. At the sidelines of the summit, Xi is scheduled to meet Putin, their fourth meeting this year. They will discuss a wide range of issues such as bilateral ties, China's Belt and Road Initiative and Russia's Eurasia Economic Union, according to Moscow's ambassador to Beijing, Andrey Denisov. He said Russia is interested in taking part in transport infrastructure projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, while he also admitted that Russia has not fully met China's expectations in terms of economic cooperation. "Russia is just at the start of reindustrialisation and has a long way to go to adjust its economic structure. We'd better be objective towards China-Russia economic cooperation and not put too much hope in it," said Cheng Yijun, a Russia expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Beijing's pursuit of a flawless event is a key reason behind the decision to end the border row with India in the Himalayas – at least for now, analysts said. Harsh Pant, a professor of international relations at King's College London, said the resolution to the stand-off was "absolutely" in response to the upcoming BRICS summit. "If any country was under pressure, it was China, not India," said Pant. He Wenping, an Africa and Asia researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think-tank in Beijing, said China has a bigger picture to pursue under the BRICS framework. "We can't call off the meetings just because we have conflicts. We need to find common interests and be forward-looking," the researcher said. She added that there was still a major opportunity for China to seek support from the other BRICS on issues such as fighting pollution and climate change. Lin Minwang, an expert on South Asia with Fudan University in Shanghai, said China should be cautious about potential competition with India in the future and should carefully select cooperation projects. There is an overlap between the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which was founded by China, Russia and four former Soviet republics and which India subsequently joined. The Shanghai organisation has been expanding areas from regional security to economic cooperation, Lin said. China, the world's second biggest economy, still defines itself a developing and emerging market and is not willing to sit at a table reserved for rich industrialised countries, forcing itself to stick to a club that looks increasingly wobbly. "But institutions rarely die. More often, they fade away, losing influence even as meetings continue out of habit. A decade from now, I expect we'll be talking less about BRICS and more about regional economic arrangement," Hillman with CSIS said. ^ top ^

China, Africa step up renewable energy cooperation (Global Times)
2017-08-31
Cooperation between China and Africa has seen remarkable progress in renewable energy, showing the determination of developing countries to harness the huge potential of clean energy and combat climate change. China-Africa Renewable Energy Cooperation and Innovation Alliance, a coalition of financing institutions, smart grid providers and core manufacturers, on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cooperation with Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). "Africa has the highest potential for renewable energy, but the least access to it," said Seyni Nafo, chairman of AREI endorsed by the African Union Assembly. The MOU will enable the two parties to cooperate in renewable energy generation in Africa, with Chinese smart grid providers and core renewable energy manufacturers providing technological and financial support. Pilot projects include helping build micro-grids in some African households and villages, in combination with large-scale power construction. As part of China's technology transfer efforts advocated by the United Nations Development Program, the move is expected to better deploy and distribute renewable energy technology in Africa. The MOU indicates a shared vision to combat climate change and to promote sustainable development, as renewable energy is expected to function as a central pillar of China-Africa cooperation on climate issues, Nafo said. ^ top ^

Commentary: Chinese leaving Africa? If true, no need for concern (Xinhua)
2017-08-31
In 2011, the BBC published a documentary on Chinese migrants in Africa, titled "The Chinese Are Coming." Barely six years later, Western media such as the Financial Times and Quartz now say the Chinese are leaving, alleging that overseas Chinese are returning from the continent after low commodity prices have devalued African economies. The influx of Chinese in Africa since the early 2000s has been linked to booming trade ties and the strategy of Chinese companies to "go overseas." But without reliable statistics, it remains debatable to categorically say migration has peaked and the trend has started to reverse. Western media appears to have drawn this conclusion by combining the decline of trade figures with the frustrations of migrants about the business environment -- from weak currencies to exorbitant taxes and fees. Chinese have been settling on the continent since Chinese ships first arrived at East African shores in the 15th century. They have remained for six centuries through good times and bad. Small ethnic Chinese communities have existed over 100 years in some African countries. Since 2000, the number of Chinese migrants in Africa has risen dramatically and has been estimated at over 1 million for some years. Even if a tiny fraction of these Chinese have packed up and left this time, there should be no concern. A decline in the number of small businessmen is a sign that China-Africa economic engagement is entering new phase. Early Chinese construction projects in Africa did involve a substantial number of Chinese laborers. But over the years, the African work-force has gradually gained the skills required and adapted to Chinese work systems. A trend can be seen in Chinese companies hiring more local workers. The shift makes business sense. Hiring Chinese to work overseas is more expensive than ever, with higher wages, away-from-home allowances, food, accommodation, insurance, transportation costs... just to name a few. Across the continent, Africans typically fill more than 85 percent of the jobs on labor-intensive projects. And they are not only laborers and technicians, more are becoming managers and consultants. Other than construction workers, small retailers were also said to be leaving. But on the other hand, African businessmen have been living in major Chinese trading hubs, such as Guangzhou and Yiwu, for some time and are able to order made-in-China products themselves. This serves as evidence that African business communities have benefited from the economic engagement and they have learned enough to outperform the immigrants. Nowadays Chinese entrepreneurs are encouraged to instead invest in more sophisticated sectors where they hold a comparative advantage. Retail has lost its appeal. Those who are still in the sector have seen profits dive. It is time to pack up and do something else. It is also worthy to note that Chinese migrants have been lured to return due to opportunities in China, rather than being forced to leave due to sluggish economic growth in Africa. Fuqing, in east China's Fujian Province, has likely produced more emigrants than other places in China. For centuries, residents of the coastal villages surrounded by hills took dangerous voyages at sea to find better places to live. But the Internet revolution, along with improvements in rural infrastructure, has become a game changer. People in remote villages can easily find buyers via e-commerce apps and websites. A modern logistics network also aids the movement of goods. It is not just about trade. Villagers can have access to quality healthcare and education and take part in other economic activities through online collaboration. As China is continuously exploring new economic drivers, Africa stands a good chance of benefiting. Chinese e-commerce guru Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba Group, made his first visit to Africa in July, centering on empowering young African entrepreneurs. Alibaba will arm African youth with skills required for e-commerce, and the company's mobile payment subsidiary Ant Financial is expanding to the continent. When launching Alipay in South Africa, company executives said they saw "big potential in Africa." Global consultancy firm McKinsey last year issued a report titled "Lions on the Move II," which said that despite a dip in growth in a few oil exporting countries, Africa's long-term fundamentals are strong and there are substantial market and investment opportunities on the table. The continent is seeing a massive urbanization process and will have a larger working-age population than either China or India by 2034. Another McKinsey report dedicated to China-Africa partnerships said Chinese companies in Africa - about 90 percent of which are private companies - could be earning revenue worth 440 billion U.S. dollars by 2025, up from 180 billion today. New opportunities lie in technology, housing, farming, financial services, transportation and logistics. People from Fuqing, or Fujian Province at large, have long been known for their business acumen. It is hard to imagine that they would choose to leave after being on the ground for some years. Maybe it is just a pause before they find the right sector and dive back in. ^ top ^

South Korea names new ambassador to China amid rift over THAAD missile deployment (SCMP)
2017-08-30
South Korea has named a former lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party as its new ambassador to China. Noh Young-min was named top envoy to Beijing while foreign policy expert Lee Su-hoon was named ambassador to Japan. Cho Yoon-je, an international trade expert who had previously served as South Korea's ambassador to Britain, will become South Korea's new envoy to the United States, the Blue House said in a statement. Noh, the new ambassador to China, served as chief of staff for President Moon Jae-in during the 2012 presidential election, in which Moon was defeated by his predecessor Park Geun-hye. Park has been impeached and is standing trial for corruption. Noh's appointment comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula and testy relations between Beijing and Seoul. With geopolitical tensions rising, China has tightened the economic screws on both Koreas - on the North for firing missiles, and on the South for deploying a shield to stop them. Last year, South Korea agreed to deploy a US missile defence system to counter threats from North Korea. China objected that the system's radar would be capable of penetrating its territory, sparking negative popular sentiment towards Korean goods and services. South Korea deployed two units of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system earlier this year and is expected to put in place the remaining four units in the coming weeks. One way Beijing expressed its unhappiness with the THAAD missile shield was by imposing a ban in March of package tours of Chinese visitors to South Korea. That's translated into 2.3 million fewer Chinese tourists in the five months through July, versus the same period last year. Sales of Korean vehicles in China have slumped this year as consumer sentiment mirrored that of the government over the missile shield. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

CPC expected to convene 19th National Congress on Oct. 18 (Xinhua)
2017-09-01
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is expected to convene on Oct. 18 in Beijing. The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee decided at a meeting on Thursday to submit the proposal on the schedule to the seventh plenary meeting of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which will be held on Oct. 11. The Political Bureau meeting was presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. The 19th CPC National Congress will review the Party's work over the past five years and summarize precious experiences that the Party has gained from the historical process of uniting and leading people of all ethnic groups to carry on and advance socialism with Chinese characteristics under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi at the core since the 18th CPC National Congress. It will thoroughly examine the current international and domestic situation, and take into account the new requirements for the development of the Party and the country as well as new expectations from the people. The congress will draw out guidelines and policies that respond to the call of the times, according to the meeting. A new CPC Central Committee and a new Central Commission for Discipline Inspection will be elected at the congress. ^ top ^

CPC concludes latest round of inspections: CCDI (Xinhua)
2017-08-31
The 12th round of inspections led by the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee concluded Wednesday, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the CPC said. The conclusion was confirmed when the details of the rectifications of the Party committees of 15 units, including Peking University, were published on the CCDI website. The inspections, which kicked off in the first half of the year, covered provincial CPC organizations, central CPC and government organs, major state-owned enterprises and centrally-administered universities. In June, the CCDI issued a statement exposing problems discovered in the inspections. On Aug. 25, the CCDI started to publish the rectifications, concluding on Wednesday. The end of the 12th round of inspections marks the conclusion of the inspections led by the 18th CPC Central Committee, as the term of the 18th Committee ends soon. The 19th CPC National Congress will be held in Beijing later this year. ^ top ^

Poor poverty relief results can stymie official careers (Global Times)
2017-08-31
China has set a stricter accountability system to evaluate officials' performance on poverty alleviation, punishing officials who fail to accomplish missions or barring them from promotion. It is a move that experts said shows the central government's resolve to eliminate extreme poverty before 2020. The State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development conducted a national evaluation of officials' performance in poverty relief work in 2016, and asked the senior officials of four provinces with poor poverty alleviation performances to have meetings with the office, according to a report from the State Council Tuesday. The results of the evaluation will be submitted to the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) as an important reference on the evaluation of provincial Party and government heads, Liu Yongfu, director of the leading office, said in a report on poverty relief work on Tuesday. "The State Council has always put much effort into poverty relief. The government work reports in the past four years all promised to lift at least 10 million people out of poverty," Liu said, adding that 775,000 officials have been sent to impoverished areas to work in poverty relief. "Poverty alleviation work has become one of the core policies since the 18th National Congress of the CPC [in 2012]. And 2017 is a crucial year as the remaining pockets of poverty are more difficult to tackle - impoverished people living in remote areas and areas of resource scarcity," Du Xiaoshan, a researcher at the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. China has set 2020 as the target year to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society, which requires the eradication of extreme poverty. From 1978 to 2016, about 730 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty. As of the end of 2016, there were 43.35 million Chinese living below the country's poverty line of a 2,300 yuan ($349) annual income abased on 2010 prices, accounting for about 3 percent of China's population. Liu said in the report on Tuesday that problems have recently emerged, as some areas announced they had eradicated extreme poverty despite having failed to reach the required standards on education, medical care and housing. People were therefore likely to sink back into poverty when follow-up policies lag behind after they have been relocated. China plans to relocate 3.4 million people from poverty-stricken communities to more developed areas in 2017, the National Development and Reform Commission announced in February. These people will be relocated from areas with scarce resources to new areas where housing, infrastructure and public services are developed for them to start new life. "A stricter evaluation process, including accountability of officials, has been introduced to push the poverty alleviation efforts," Wang Sangui, a professor at the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development of Renmin University of China, who specializes in rural poverty studies, told the Global Times. A total of 12 Party organizations and 49 officials have been held accountable and 22 were disciplined for their poor performance in poverty relief work in the Qianxinan Buyei and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in Southwest China's Guizhou Province. "Tougher evaluation systems for officials will push them to conduct door-to-door surveys of low income families, making targeted measures and encouraging these people to work together with the government to overcome poverty," Wang said, adding that the engagement of low income families is crucial for sustainable poverty relief work around China. Not allowing promotions or job changes for officials working in impoverished areas is another policy to curb bureaucracy and encourage officials to implement poverty alleviation policies, Du said. He noted that all these efforts to monitor officials reveal the government's resolve to eradicate extreme poverty. ^ top ^

"Red Notice" fugitive returns to China (Xinhua)
2017-08-31
Liu Changkai, one of China's most wanted fugitives, has returned to China and turned himself in to the police, the anti-corruption authority said Monday. Liu, 56, a former president of Beijing Liyuan Driving School, fled overseas in October 1999 after being accused of fraud, according to a statement released by the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. In April 2015, Interpol issued a "red notice" for 100 corruption fugitives wanted by China. Many of the fugitives were former government staff or employees of state-owned enterprises. Liu is the 44th on the list to have returned. Liu's return, once again, is a warning for other fugitives and proves there is no safe haven overseas, according to the statement. ^ top ^

Poor Putonghua pronunciation a concern for Hong Kong as national anthem law looms, pro-Beijing politician says (SCMP)
2017-08-31
Hongkongers' poor pronunciation of Putonghua could be a concern in light of a proposed mainland law to curb disrespect for the national anthem that is also set to be applied in the city, a local deputy to China's top legislature has said. Michael Tien Puk-sun said it was therefore important to state clearly how the city would interpret the national anthem law. Concerns were raised earlier this week after reports that the executive body of the National People's Congress would officially propose inserting the national anthem law into Annexe III of the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution, at its bimonthly meeting in October. At the heart of the anxieties was whether the city would be subject to the same severity of punishment as cities on the mainland, which has different standards for guaranteeing individual rights and freedoms. Speaking on a radio programme on Thursday, Tien said pronunciation issues could prove thorny when enacting the law. "You know how we Hongkongers speak Putonghua ... I don't know why, but somehow when those who have Cantonese as their mother tongue speak Putonghua, the effect is quite negative," he said. Tien noted that if one intentionally mispronounces, then it would be classified as abuse. But he questioned how a person who unintentionally mispronounces would be judged. As such, he said there was a need to state clearly how the law should be interpreted in Hong Kong. In November last year, retired civil servant Kwok Cheuk-kin asked the High Court to declare pro-establishment lawmaker Ann Chiang Lai-wan's oath last year invalid after media reports criticised her pronunciation and intonation, with "nation" sounding like "fruit" and the phrase "taking oath" sounding like "sour oath". Tien, who founded pro-Beijing political party Roundtable, claimed it was difficult to gauge whether a person's behaviour was respectful and solemn while singing the national anthem. "Some people interpret solemn as looking at the national flag while singing the national anthem," he said. "If you're looking everywhere during the playing of the national anthem, you're not paying attention, but does that mean you're not solemn?" ' Tien added that the city, as a former British colony, had not seriously discussed such matters in the past, underscoring the need now to clearly explain the law. He believed a large number of people would have to be present during sporting events to monitor whether the law was being violated. Hong Kong made headlines in 2015 after hundreds of its football fans booed during the Chinese national anthem ahead of a World Cup qualifier between the city's team and the national team. ^ top ^

China highlights importance of vocation schools (Xinhua)
2017-08-31
The Ministry of Education (MOE) Wednesday announced China now has a total of 12,300 vocational schools with over 26.8 million enrolled students, highlighting the importance of the education system. Vocational schools nationwide have set up nearly 1,000 majors and 100,000 vocational training courses, recruiting an average of 9.3 million students each year, said Wang Jiping, an official with the MOE. "China has established a vocational education system with Chinese characteristics, offering skills training for nearly all areas of the national economy," said Wang. China has been highlighting the importance of vocational education in recent years, underlining its growing role in industrial upgrading, job creation and poverty alleviation. In 2016, China's central government allocated 92.7 billion yuan (about 14.1 billion U.S. dollars) to local governments to support elementary and vocational education. ^ top ^

Xi's remarks on eradicating extreme poverty made public (Xinhua)
2017-08-31
Xinhua News Agency Thursday published the full text of remarks made by Chinese President Xi Jinping when presiding over a symposium on poverty relief held in north China's Shanxi Province on June 23. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, reiterated the need for joint efforts and precise measures to eradicate extreme poverty. Areas suffering from abject poverty face the toughest job in poverty alleviation, Xi said. There must be better support and more effective measures, Xi told the symposium. China has set a target to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, including complete eradication of poverty. The task becomes more difficult as the process nears its end. "As long as we pay great attention, think correctly, take effective measures and work in a down-to-earth way, abject poverty is absolutely conquerable," Xi said. Xi raised a series of requirements on advancing the poverty alleviation effort in areas plagued by extreme poverty. He said these areas must also meet the national target on eradicating poverty by 2020. Meanwhile, they need to be realistic in setting goals. Local governments should take the lead in poverty relief with financial capital playing a coordinating role, Xi said, noting that newly added poverty relief funds will primarily be used in the most impoverished areas. He said China must gather its forces nationwide to ensure the coverage of public services, infrastructure and basic medical services in these areas. The president promised more residents living in extremely harsh natural environments will receive assistance to relocate, job posts such as forest rangers in ecologically vulnerable regions will be increased, and assistance will be stepped up for those who became impoverished due to medical reasons. Impoverished areas should improve their economic development model by focusing on industries that will benefit the poor, such as specialty agriculture, labor-intensive manufacturing and services, Xi said. He also asked developed regions in the country's east and state entities to increase their assistance to the most impoverished areas, and encouraged the participation of the wider society. Poverty relief in these areas should focus on empowering and stimulating the people and helping them develop basic job skills in non-agricultural industries, he said. Local authorities should be strict and honest with poverty relief schedules and achievements, he said, adding that China will implement a strict evaluation system and insist on an annual reporting and supervision mechanism. The full text of Xi's remarks will also be carried in Friday's Qiushi Journal, the flagship magazine of the CPC Central Committee. ^ top ^

23 dead, 12 missing in SW China landslide (Xinhua)
2017-08-30
The death toll from a landslide in southwest China's Guizhou Province Monday morning has risen to 23, with 12 still missing, rescuers said Wednesday. As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, rescuers had pulled 31 people out of the debris, 23 of whom were already dead, according to the rescuers at the scene. Among the eight injured, seven are being treated in hospital, though their injuries are not life threatening. More than 2,000 people had been mobilized to search for the missing, rescuers said. The landslide occurred at about 10:40 a.m. Monday in Zhangjiawan Township, Nayong County, affecting 34 households. More than 600,000 cubic meters of rock and mud fell for 200 meters before hitting a village. The province has seen continuous rainstorms over the past week as a result of two recent typhoons. ^ top ^

Universities establish depts to strengthen teachers' ideology (Global Times)
2017-08-30
Universities affiliated with Communist Party of China (CPC)have established departments devoted to strengthening teachers' ideology and political consciousness. According to recent reports by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the CPC,several universities including Zhejiang University, the Central University of Finance and Economics, and China Agricultural University have established "Party committee teacher departments." The commission didn't mention whether the prestigious Tsinghua University has set up such department but it said the school "will build a teacher development center, guide new teachers as well as scale up workshops for young teachers on both Marxist theory and university culture." The CCDI recently reported the outcome of its inspections of 29 universities across the country from February to April, thepaper.cn reported. The Party committee teacher department in Peking University was set up in 2015 and others at intuitions such as Central South University and Southwest Jiaotong University were established recently. The Global Times found Party committee teacher departments in many universities have been set up as part of human resources departments and are also often led by the same personnel. For example, Liang Qi, the head of HR at Shanghai Jiao Tong University also heads its Party committee teacher department, the university reported on its website in May. The Party committee teacher department of Central South University is headed by Chen Yuru, who is also the head of HR, its website reported on August 16. ^ top ^

Chinese government urged to teach minorities standardised form of language to help fight poverty (SCMP)
2017-08-26
Not enough effort is being put into teaching China's ethnic minorities Putonghua during Beijing's fight to eradicate poverty, a top adviser to the government said on Saturday. Chinese president Xi Jinping has declared war on poverty, and instructed local governments to eliminate impoverishment to create a "moderately well-off society" by the beginning of 2021, in time for the centenary of the ruling Communist Party. While regional authorities have introduced out supportive policies, funds and programmes in China's poorest regions, they are failing to teach ethnic minority groups enough Putonghua, Zhu Weiqun, said in an article in the state-backed Global Times newspaper. Efforts to teach minority peoples Putonghua are "not up to scratch" in various places, said Zhu, who is head of the minorities and religions committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body. "I regularly come across low level cadres who with great effort use a mouthful of dialect to talk about their poverty alleviation plans without realising that dealing with their own deficiencies in speaking Mandarin [as Putonghua is also known] is an urgent task," he said. China promotes the use of standardised Putonghua, based on the dialect of Beijing, and encourages ethnic minorities to learn the official language in a bid to improve unity in multi-ethnic areas of the country. But there has been resistance to the push for standardisation in regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang, where Tibetans and Uygurs, a Turkic-speaking mostly Muslim minority, often consider language integral to their cultural identity. Beijing denies that Putonghua promotion damages minority culture, arguing that learning the official language gives minorities greater opportunities for work and schooling. Zhu said in the article that communication issues with workers from Xinjiang could cause a "vicious cycle" when companies group the workers together hindering their ability to work with others. Over 70 per cent of the population speaks Putonghua, but levels of fluency in west China are 20 per cent lower than in the east, with only 40 per cent of people able to speak the official language in some rural areas, Zhu said. He added that using a standardised form of the language to alleviate poverty, and using poverty alleviation to promote the language "does not only have an economic importance, but also has a deep political importance". ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing hutong clean-up threatens independent art space, forcing it to hide behind a brick wall in the hope of surviving crackdown (SCMP)
2017-08-26
A well-known independent art space has sealed itself behind a brick wall in the hope that it can survive Beijing's crackdown on unauthorised establishments in the quiet hutong that has been its home since 2008. The Beijing government has allowed shops, bars, restaurants and other private ventures to operate in the city's hutongs, or alleys, since the 1980s. But two years ago authorities began notifying landlords that such businesses had engaged in the "illegal breaking up or drilling of holes" in hutong walls, and have been bricking up shopfronts and removing advertising in the name of urban beautification, heritage preservation and the discouragement of illegal structures. The campaign coincides with the government's goal of reducing the population in central Beijing by 15 per cent, to 23 million, by 2020. In June, such official notices began to appear on the walls near the Arrow Factory art space, a diminutive, 15 square metre exhibition venue for conceptual art in the Arrow Factory – Jianchang in Chinese – hutong. The historic alley is next to the site of China's former imperial university and was where students practised archery. Today, it is popular with Beijingers and tourists alike for its quirky mix of grocers, arts and craft shops, independent cafes, and the tap room of craft beer maker Arrow Factory Brewing. As nearby businesses began seeing their front entrances blocked by the dreaded walls of red brick, Arrow Factory art space happened to be preparing its next art installation that would conceal its "shopfront". Called "Fences", artist Yang Zhenzhong's project replaced the glass front doors with a wall painted the same grey as the rest of the building, leaving only a gap for a small, barred window sealed by a two-way mirror. A surveillance camera hidden inside captures life along the alley and is as surreptitious as its host venue, wrapped as it is in a Harry Potter-style invisibility cloak. Rania Ho, one of the three independent curators who founded the art space in 2008, says "Fences" could be seen as a reaction to Beijing's sudden clampdown on hutong establishments, as well as a convenient disguise that hopefully will allow the venue to stay on. They have bricked up the "illegal" glass facade in line with the official directive while retaining control over the material and the look of the place, she says. The art space is now in a holding pattern along with other establishments that have refused to move out. "Some businesses have stayed open behind their brick walls. Their customers have to go in through the back door and they cannot advertise their presence. Nobody knows how long they can go on for," Ho says. The Arrow Factory art space has always been a risky venture. It set out to be an alternative to China's highly commercialised contemporary art scene, and its non-profit nature puts a limit on its resources and scale, which may explain why it has managed to survive despite not having an official licence and not submitting its exhibitions to the censors – a common requirement under China's tightly patrolled cultural policy. Despite its unobtrusive presence, it has built up a solid reputation in the region's art circles for hosting thought-provoking installations with a mix of young and established names such as Zhang Peili, Lin Yilin and Hong Kong's own Xyza Cruz Bacani. Its low-key presence may not be enough to save it from Beijing's urban policy, but Ho remains hopeful. "We are waiting to see if this will just blow over. We hope we can at least make it to our 10th anniversary next year," she says. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Chinese delegation introduces Tibet's latest development in Australia (Global Times)
2017-08-31
A Chinese Tibetan cultural exchange delegation has visited Canberra and briefed government officials, think-tanks and the Australian press about the latest development of China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The delegation met with Australian government officials on Wednesday. During the meeting, Australian officials said China's development is of great importance to Australia. Australian officials also spoke highly of the friendly relations between the two countries and the two peoples, expressing their readiness to boost cooperation and exchange with China's Tibet Autonomous Region in the fields of agriculture, science and technology as well as tourism. While meeting with scholars from the National Library of Australia and the journalists from Australia's mainstream media, the Chinese delegation introduced them, with series of statistics, the achievements Tibet Autonomous Region has scored in the past more than 50 years, including socio-economic development, protection of cultural heritage and use of the Tibetan language, among others. With regard to the Tibet-related issues raised by the Australian side, Wang Yanwen, head of the delegation and associate inspector of the Department of Human Rights of China's State Council Information Office, stressed that Tibet has been part of China since ancient times. She said the Chinese government is firmly opposed to any interference in China's internal affairs as well as any activity that undermines peace under the pretext of religion and human rights. Wang also stressed that the Chinese government is especially against certain international forces colluding with the Dalai Lama clique to engage in anti-China separatist activities. The delegation's visit to Australia aims to introduce the current development of Tibet, especially good and stable life of local people, Wang said, noting that the two countries should respect each other and oppose irresponsible remarks on Tibet. The Australian side also had a discussion with the Chinese delegation on the development of human rights in Tibet. Wang said the Chinese government always attaches great importance to the rights and interests of the Tibetan people and respects the Tibetan culture and religion. She highlighted that the rights to subsistence and development are the primary, basic human rights, citing the great improvement of people's living standard in the autonomous region as the most notable achievement. Wang told Xinhua that she believed that the delegation's visit would help Australians better understand Tibet. She also expected more Australians to visit Tibet and witness Tibet's rapid development in person. The Australians scholars and journalists said they hoped to have a comprehensive and objective understanding of Tibet through more visits by such Chinese cultural exchange delegations rather than biased media reports. The Chinese delegation will also tour Auckland, New Zealand. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Muslims in China's restive Xinjiang region 'happiest in world', says government official (SCMP)
2017-08-25
Muslims living in China's far western region of Xinjiang are the happiest in the world and people should not believe the lies spread by extremists and their Western supporters, a senior official wrote on Friday in an unusually strongly worded piece. Hundreds of people have been killed in Xinjiang in the past few years in violence between Uygurs, a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language, and ethnic majority Han Chinese, blamed by Beijing on Islamist extremists. Rights groups and Uygur exiles say the unrest is more a product of Uygur frustration at Chinese controls on their culture and religion. China denies any repression. Writing in the official Xinjiang Daily, the region's deputy foreign publicity director, Ailiti Saliyev, said Xinjiang was stable, harmonious, prosperous, open and modern. Visitors see this for themselves when they visit, subverting the impression created in Western media of the opposite, he added. "Many people say from the bottom of their heart: 'The happiest Muslims in the world live in Xinjiang'," he wrote. The problem stems from the "evil collusion" between extremists and "hostile Western forces", the official added, without offering any names. "They coordinate with hostile Western forces to wantonly spread rumours, misrepresent, vilify and besmirch Xinjiang in the overseas media," he added. Extremists unfairly accuse the government of trying to annihilate the Uygur language and culture with development projects and promotion of bilingual education and of seeking to ban religion with measures to ensure people's safety, he said. They also laud criminal elements as "warriors resisting the oppression of the Han Chinese government" and "the mother of the Uygurs", the official added, a reference to Uygur leader Rebiya Kadeer, once a successful businesswoman who now lives in exile in the United States. Groups overseas who claim to speak for Uygurs are nothing more than "running dogs and pawns" of the same hostile Western forces, the official said, adding his mission as a Uygur himself is to tell the real facts about Xinjiang to the world. "Xinjiang's image will brook no distortion," he wrote. While foreign reporters can easily visit Xinjiang, unlike Tibet which requires special permission, the government keeps a close watch on their movements, making interference free reporting hard. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Jailed Hong Kong student activist Alex Chow lodges final appeal (SCMP)
2017-09-01
One of the three Hong Kong student activists jailed for storming the government headquarters in a prelude to the Occupy movement in 2014 lodged his final appeal on Thursday. Alex Chow Yong-kang, who is currently serving his seven-month jail term after prosecutors succeeded in securing tougher sentences for the trio, had filed an application, according to a spokesman from the Department of Justice. "The department received on August 31, 2017, [Chow's] notice of motion, asking the Court of Appeal to show that the determination of the [present] case involves a point of law of great and general importance," the spokesman said. The notice was written to the appeal court, which has to grant Chow the go-ahead to take his case further to the city's Court of Final Appeal, based on the city's Court of Final Appeal Ordinance. For permission to be granted, he must either show that the appeal entails important legal arguments, or that "substantial and grave" injustice was involved. But should the appeal court reject him, Chow can still proceed to the top court by submitting another request. His solicitor confirmed the appeal application, saying that the team was scrambling to polish further details, and it would be confined to Chow's sentence. The jailing of Chow, together with two other student leaders, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Joshua Wong Chi-fung, has sparked controversy, including a protest march attended by thousands earlier this month, with many questioning the city's judicial independence. Chow, a former secretary general of the Federation of Students, played a key role as one of the leaders in the 2014 Occupy protests. On August 17, he was jailed along with Wong and Law by an appeal court. The trio received prison terms of between six and eight months. While Chow and Wong were convicted of taking part in an unlawful assembly, Law was found guilty of inciting others. They were among protesters who stormed the forecourt of the government headquarters on September 26, 2014, in a prelude to the 79-day Occupy protests which unfolded two days later. Before their recent sentencing, a lower court had earlier convicted the trio but spared them from jail, stating that a more understanding approach should be adopted towards young people fighting for their ideals. But the Department of Justice said the community service and suspended sentence imposed would send a wrong message to the public, and pushed for a deterrent sentence, resulting in their current jail terms. ^ top ^

Will the protest movement in Hong Kong be tamed by the jailing of Occupy trio? (SCMP)
2017-09-01
Braving the scorching sun, tens of thousands of Hongkongers poured into the city's busiest districts two Sundays ago, holding their umbrellas up high. For that brief afternoon, it felt like Occupy all over again. While yellow was the colour of choice back then and the umbrellas were there to thwart tear gas and pepper spray, this time they were out in all shades to beat the heat. Police estimated the turnout to be about 22,000, the largest since Occupy in 2014 – the mother of all protests in Hong Kong. The blanket of bright brollies floating its way through the streets was just the morale booster that the pro-democracy movement needed three years after Occupy not only failed to achieve universal suffrage, but also now that it continues to extract a price from its participants. Earlier that week, the courts jailed three young activists behind the Occupy demonstrations – Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Alex Chow Yong-kang and Nathan Law Kwun-chung – for six to eight months, sparking condemnation of their treatment and giving rise to the Sunday protest. Their jailing marked the government's second successful bid to secure prison terms for activists involved in protests. For many, the turnout that Sunday showed how uneasy questions about the city's political future could still be tapped upon, amid a well of unhappiness lying beneath the current state of calm. Until then, the movement had been feeling lost and helpless, according to pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick. "Many people have suggested protests are of no use in recent years as they argued even the 2014 movement had failed to achieve anything," Chu said in a Facebook live session two days after the protest, discussing the movement's way forward with his followers online. Such negative sentiment had led to a low turnout for previous recent marches, he said. More than that, the city's pro-democracy movement has been reeling from one setback after another, some of which critics say were self-inflicted. Some of its lawmakers' antics at their swearing-in ceremonies prompted a stern rebuke from the Chinese central government. Last November, Beijing intervened to issue an interpretation of the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution, on how oath-taking for seats in the legislature ought to be conducted. In one fell swoop, the ruling effectively removed two pro-independence activists from the Legislative Council. The government then went after others deemed to have sullied their oaths and succeeded in its legal bid to unseat four more popularly returned lawmakers. That included the now jailed Law, veteran activist "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu Chung-yim. The government's plan to establish a joint immigration and customs checkpoint with mainland Chinese authorities at the West Kowloon terminus of a new cross-border railway, which would allow mainland laws to be enforced in Hong Kong, would appear to be a cause worth taking up for the pro-democracy bloc. And as it sets about mobilising support, the jailing of the three young activists has given it a much-needed shot in the arm. "There is nothing specific they hope to fight for this time ... they just hope to stop the falling domino effect," the activist-turned-lawmaker Chu said of the newly stirred up anxieties. "This is a fundamental change in mentality ... they have a feeling that they should not let [the city] collapse further." Avery Ng Man-yuen, chairman of the League of Social Democrats, also said the turnout had shown "some Hongkongers had started to ditch the negative thinking and believe again that protest perhaps still has its value". But two weeks on, it remains to be seen whether they can gain momentum from the protest. It will not be an easy task. In recent years, the camp has grown more fragmented. Where before the division was between traditional and more radical democrats, a third crack has opened up with the rise of localists and pro-independence activists – the intellectual and emotional detritus of the Occupy movement. However, Ng expressed confidence the divisions could be healed. For instance, he said, even the moderate pan-democrats were willing to help the jailed activists and others awaiting trial, all regarded to be more localist in their orientation. "We all agree unity is of utmost importance now," he said. Ng said the different blocs should put aside differences and map out a set of common goals in the wake of the ruling. "We should avoid giving the public the impression that the camp is fragmented. The solidarity would boost their confidence in direct action," he said. His call was echoed by Hong Kong Indigenous spokesperson Edward Leung Tin-kei, an iconic face of the pro-independence movement in Hong Kong who is facing charges of rioting and incitement to riot for his alleged role in the Mong Kok unrest during Lunar New Year last year. Previously, several pan-democratic parties condemned the violent methods adopted in the Mong Kok riot, while Leung's camp has a history of attacking the former for being too moderate and failing to achieve anything in their decades-long democracy fight. But Leung won applause from the crowd during the Sunday march as he took to the stage. "It was the 'useless' protests I attended before which gave me the determination to join the civil movement," he told the crowd, adding that the protesters charged over their involvement in the Mong Kok unrest were not spies of Beijing, as claimed by some naysayers. Instead, their fates were intertwined with the whole bloc, Leung said. Indeed, sources said the different factions were reaching out to one another to explore ways to build a common platform, but initiators declined to reveal details. But political scientist Dr Ma Ngok was not hopeful. He said while short-term unity in the camp would emerge as "the crowd has no appetite for finger-pointing" in the wake of the jailings, a key obstacle remained unresolved. "That is, how to take the movement forward," Ma, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said. "It is the same core question that has been troubling the camp for three years." The bloc, Ma said, had yet to come up with alternatives apart from organising protests against a regime not known for compromise and a legislature dominated by pro-establishment lawmakers. He said while the jailings definitely angered Hongkongers and moved more of them to take to the streets, they would hardly bring about a fundamental change. Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow are in jail because Hong Kong law demands it( But the pro-democracy camp is hobbled by a more practical problem. Its ranks are being depleted, as more than 100 of them are facing prosecution over their participation in different protests, according to former student leader Lester Shum. Among them, nine core leaders of the Occupy movement, including co-founders Benny Tai Yiu-ting, are facing various charges such as conspiracy to commit public nuisance. The court will conduct a pre-trial hearing for their cases in September. The ruling handed down to the Occupy trio also holds implications for future protests, as lawyers said the lower courts – which used to value young defendants' ideals – would have to follow the Court of Appeal's "deterrence" principle in handing down future sentences. That means actions in the past which used to attract punitive measures of community service orders or rehabilitation could now possibly land activists in jail. Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun, a former law dean of the University of Hong Kong, agreed that the Court of Appeal had adopted a narrow definition of "peaceful protests" in the judgment. "It is fair to say that the law only protects peaceful assembly," Chan said. "The problem is that in applying the principle, the court seems to suggest that the slightest amount of conflict or reasonable foreseeability of a risk of violence would turn an assembly into a non-peaceful one." But he stressed the issue might now be sub judice as the activists would take the case to appeal. Professor Michael Davis, a human rights law expert formerly with the University of Hong Kong, feared the harsh sentences would harm civil society. "The punishment [for the Occupy trio] is too harsh and will trigger a deterrent effect ... in exercising free speech," he said. "Hong Kong relies greatly on civil society's willingness to defend core values. If people are deterred [from speaking up], that is a loss." Politically speaking, the judgment has also dealt a heavy blow to Demosisto, a young political party founded by Occupy student leaders. The ruling has effectively banned Joshua Wong and Nathan Law – the two most famous faces of the party – from contesting the next Legco elections in 2020, as anyone jailed for more than three months is banned from seeking elected office for five years. It has stymied the development of the budding party, which will have to find substitutes with the same pulling power and charisma. Shum, a former student leader who co-led the Occupy movement, painted an even more pessimistic picture when asked if he would run in future elections. "Is entering Legco still a feasible way forward for the progressive pan-democrats?" he said, worrying the government would again exhaust means to unseat any lawmaker deemed unacceptable by them following their earlier successful attempts. But for Eddie Chu, whether the harsh ruling would deter people from taking part in protests was a "secondary question". He said the pro-democracy camp should instead focus on strengthening its networks in the community, connecting with their voters and those who took to the streets, in their daily lives through different projects – such as with a waste recycling movement he had been working on. "Mobilising people to join protests is not enough. We need to get the supporters to be more involved in the circle or else we will be in a very passive position," he said. "[The pro-democracy camp] has been neglecting such organising work in the past and I would say there is huge room for us to work on this." Dr Paul Chang, an associate professor of sociology at Harvard University, said there was a cycle to protest movements, as reflected in the South Korean democracy movement, which went on in peaks and troughs for 40 years. "In the Korea case, one thing that broke this feeling of helplessness was a shocking incident, such as a worker or student being killed by the government. The arrest of [Wong, Law and Chow] may not have been able to produce this level of shock because of the length of the sentences, or because they went through a 'court process'," Chang said. "I am not advocating that anyone gets killed of course, but shock is what is usually needed to wake up a sleeping population." A long spell of economic recession can also bring the public mood to a point at which people feel there is nothing left to do but protest again, he said. For now, the bloc is putting on a brave front, choosing to believe their future is far from bleak, despite the lack of coherence in their cause and the new parameters of protest defined by the recent jailings. Friends of the jailed activists have set up Facebook pages to link the public with those behind bars, exchanging information through the platform and calling on each other not to give up the fight. In their latest burst of campaigning, Demosisto uploaded a video on Saturday in which popular actor Gregory Wong Chung-yiu, a close friend of Law, called on Hongkongers to lend their support to the young people and their struggle. Occupy Central co-founder Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, 73, who will face a pre-trial hearing next month, said he believed the jailed trio would become an inspiration to many. "It is painful – but we should not be let down by the ruling and instead should be as determined as those in prison," he said. "The flame will keep burning." Ng said he felt galvanised by people's passion and the generous donations they had given at street booths he set up at past protests. Echoing that view, 24-year-old Shum said: "The jailed activists will definitely instil positive energy in the democracy movement if imprisonment still cannot bring them down." ^ top ^

Hong Kong democracy? Perhaps it's time for some soul-searching (SCMP)
2017-09-01
Reflecting on his first year in the legislature, independent lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick said the Hong Kong democracy movement is going nowhere because it lacks effective leadership. He is right. Not only that, but many of the moderate parties are losing key members and becoming ineffective. Among these are the Democratic Party, the Labour Party, the Civic Party and Path of Democracy, led by Executive Council member Ronny Tong Ka-wah. The stage has been left to the most radical, extreme or immature activists. Elected pro-democracy lawmakers are in danger of being replaceable or interchangeable, Chu told the Economic Journal, unless they show leadership in pushing the democracy movement forward. One of the more intelligent opposition legislators, Chu is that rare politician who is willing to ­re-examine the political movement that he has supported and to acknowledge its problems. The reasons for the increasingly radical politics in Hong Kong are multiple and complex. The opposition attributes this as a response to the tightening control the central government has exercised over the city in recent years as well as the Hong Kong government being unresponsive and incompetent. That may be true, up to a point. But the opposition itself cannot escape blame. If it had more effective and credible leaders, localist miscreants such as Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching would never have made it into the Legislative Council. And that would have spared us a major political crisis. Indeed, both the central and Hong Kong governments probably would prefer the opposition to have an effective leadership, so they would know who to call when they pick up the phone. At the moment, the opposition is like, to borrow a phrase from Sun Yat-sen, loose sand, with no cohesion. This means they can't articulate a positive political agenda going forward. The result is predictable. They can only object and nitpick about anything the government does, whether it's about the national anthem law, immigration and customs arrangements at the West Kowloon high-speed railway terminus, or national education. The opposition is caught in a bind. That's why Chu asks how much Hong Kong people really want democracy. It may be, he said, most just want their existing freedoms and way of life to continue. Like Chu, regardless of our political stance, we can all do with a bit of soul-searching. ^ top ^

Here's what lies ahead for Hong Kong after the 19th Party Congress (SCMP)
2017-08-31
My father was a China watcher. In 1970, that consisted of recognising which faces overlooked the National Day parade from the balcony on the Gate of Heavenly Peace. It was the only way to divine Chinese political and economic policy. Today we have a savvy population, modern communications, a lot more news and a lot more noise - but it is easier to find out which faces are on the snakes and ladders of Communist Party politics. It is a special time for China watchers who still have to guess when the most important meeting of the year happens – usually when President Xi Jinping drops off the news. A couple of weeks ago, the leaders dipped their toes in the sea at Beidaihe to play musical chairs with the next leadership. The 19th Party Congress is almost upon us, where the new leaders for the next five years will be paraded. It is a little like a papal election but where the smoke coming up the chimney is always white – there is never any public discord. It is hard to recall how much the political landscape has changed since the 18th Congress. President Xi has emerged as the core leader, adept at using the Party machinery to face down his opponents. This congress is different for, although we are in the middle of a 10-year leadership cycle, many of the top leadership Council are going to pass the retirement age – though the hot money is betting that this will be honoured selectively. The latest changeover will elevate a younger crop of central leaders. Only last month, Chongqing boss and Politburo member, Sun Zhengcai, was removed on a discipline charge and replaced with a trusted protégé, Chen Miner. Premier Li Keqiang's star burned bright for a while but the speculation is that even he might be moved "upstairs". The new generation has been forged in an age of relative peace, stability, liberalisation and economic development; in a word, success. This might breed complacency, arrogance, invincibility - and loyalty to Xi. So Xi's priorities are likely to give us a guide to China's future policies. His acute political antennae led to the aggressive anti-graft campaign targeting tigers and flies. The Communist Party was being undermined by the greed of those in charge. Conveniently, the campaign also enabled tigers who were natural political opponents of Xi, to be purged. Xi has also promoted nationalism through the "China Dream" – which has Trumpian overtones of "Making China Great Again". The people will support you if you can share a common enemy. The "anthem law" proposals will jail violators deemed not to be respectfully singing the "March of the Volunteers". I used to sing it in university in Beijing and it is a lusty tune - difficult not to sing heartily. Xi has sought to tighten foreign influences from entering China, whether religious, social, cultural or commercial. The government actively supports Chinese enterprises like Baidu and WeChat in China by keeping foreign competition out – though this penalises Chinese brands from gaining a foothold overseas. Xi has extended China's international influence through the One Belt One Road initiative by generously seeding costly investments for (as seen by Concorde and the Channel Tunnel) the most exciting and important infrastructure projects rarely have a commercial rate of return. China's military build-up will also be influential with naval bases likely to be established overseas, supported by more carrier task forces. Yet the complacent assumption is that if the politics is right, the economy will look after itself. Reform of the state sector, and the introduction of competition, and bankruptcy and commercial laws are becoming urgent if China's wealth is not going to flow down the debt plughole. Hong Kong is an irritant nonconformist – but it is the nation's financial capital. It is a money source, for credible global capital raising, so it cannot be too disturbed. Yet the political imperative means that Hong Kong is already an unsafe place for errant billionaires and booksellers. The national security law will eventually be enacted. Hong Kong's rule of law will then blur on the edges but it will have to remain intact for non-political cases. We will have to get used to living with the uncertainty that brings. We will need to follow the example of the Russian oligarchs. China will make Hong Kong rich – if we stay out of politics. That is probably going to be easier for Hong Kong than for China. A clash of cultures means that is not going to be as easy as it sounds. ^ top ^

Court finally releases English version of judgment that jailed Hong Kong activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow (SCMP)
2017-08-30
A Hong Kong court has released the English version of the judgment that sent three prominent democracy activists to prison, a full two weeks after judges handed down the controversial sentences. The new document lays out the judges' reasoning as they gave Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang between six and eight months in jail, and records one of the judges' warning that the trio's actions were symptoms of "an unhealthy wind blowing" in the city. The ruling had until this week only been available in Chinese, and not in the bilingual city's other official language, English. On August 17, the Court of Appeal jailed Wong, Law and Chow for their roles in a storming of government headquarters in Admiralty on September 26, 2014. The trio were key leaders of the 2014 Occupy protests, which shifted into full gear two days after the storming. The sentences sparked worries and debate over the city's judicial independence, because the higher court overturned a lower court's more lenient sentences after government lawyers pushed for harsher punishments. The new translation may help with that debate; lawyers in the city have long called on the public to focus on the reasoning in judgments before criticising judges. Not all court judgments are readily available in both of the city's official languages. University of Hong Kong principal law lecturer Eric Cheung Tat-ming said courts needed to make important judgments available in both Chinese and English, but that there was no standard practice on translation. Normally, cases involving important legal principles would be translated, barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said, though there was no guarantee that would happen quickly, because the scale of the task depends on the judgment's length and complexity. Criminal defence lawyer Jonathan Midgley said that does not affect litigants in practice. "In a Chinese trial, the only people who need the judgment urgently will be the Chinese-speaking defendant and Chinese-speaking legal team who must consider an appeal," he said. Encapsulating the strong words of Court of Final Appeal vice-president Wally Yeung Chun-kuen, one of the presiding judges, the judiciary's newly available English version of the Occupy trio's judgment reads: "In recent years, an unhealthy wind has been blowing in Hong Kong." Yeung said: "Some people, on the pretext of pursuing their ideals or freely exercising their rights conferred by law, have acted wantonly in an unlawful manner. "Not only do they refuse to admit their law-breaking activities are wrong, but they even go as far as regarding such activities as a source of honour and pride." ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan looks to clean up its act on money laundering (SCMP)
2017-08-31
After Taiwan's state-run Mega Financial Holding Co was fined US$180 million by US authorities for lax enforcement of anti-money-laundering rules at its New York branch, the bank started a rigorous training programme for its staff. Now, like Mega Financial, companies across Taiwan are working to get staff and systems up to speed after the island passed laws to meet international standards on combating money laundering and was taken off a watch list by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG). "Unfortunately, Taiwan has earned a name for itself as a paradise for money laundering," Deputy Justice Minister Tsai Pi-chung said. Money laundering and cybercrime connections to Taiwan, which is also in the process of pushing through a cyber security bill, have grabbed global headlines. Some money from the US$170 million cyber heist of India's Union Bank of India was transferred through Taiwan's Bank SinoPac. An international crime ring used malware to steal US$2.6 million from the ATMs of Taiwan's First Bank. Taiwan was one of the six most targeted countries of the Wannacry ransomware attack earlier this year, according to security company Avast. Since 2011, 800 people from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan have been deported from Cambodia on suspicion of telecoms fraud. Following its fine in the US, Mega Financial said cleaning up its act was a top priority. US authorities had said the Mega branch had been "indifferent" to the risks associated with transactions involving Panama, a high-risk area for money laundering. "What happened at our New York branch was just terrible," said Robert Tsai, a senior executive vice-president, referring to the fine and ensuing scandal. "Half of our 6,000 clerks have been certified with anti-money-laundering training. How each of our branches implements the rules and ensures proper training is the top priority for our business." To gain international confidence in its anti-money-laundering measures, Taiwan will have to demonstrate it is putting the laws into practice. The APG will review Taiwan in 2018. "The visit will focus on how effectively Taiwan will have actually implemented the anti-money-laundering rules," said Liang Hung-lieh, partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers Taiwan. "The APG's on-site review will be new to most of the assessed, including banks, non-bank financial institutions and in particular non-financial institutions such as lawyers, public certified accountants and other professional service providers." Under the anti-money-laundering laws, these financial professionals will be required to report suspicious transactions, including bank transfers exceeding NT$500,000 (US$16,600). They will have to determine where the money came from, provide details about the client and report that to Taiwan's newly established Anti-Money Laundering Office. These are similar to regulations that countries that have signed up to global anti-money-laundering rules overseen by the Financial Action Task Force have adopted. The cost to companies of implementing the new rules may be significant as they put processes, workers and data systems in place. "There's a lot of extra work for them to do now, such as determining the identities of their clients' beneficiaries," said an official with the Financial Supervisory Commission, the island's financial regulator. He declined to be identified in the absence of permission to speak to the media. "They don't yet know exactly what they have to do, and to what extent, to be considered compliant with the new regulations. They're going to need some time to digest all of these new rules," he said. The potential costs and increased difficulty of getting transactions done under the new rules worry those in the property market, said Wong Jui-chi, the spokesman for Taiwan's Chinese Association of Real Estate brokers, while emphasising that his industry intends to fully comply with the regulations. "The property market is already in a bad shape and these new rules will make things worse by making the process of real estate transactions more complicated. More or less everyone in our industry is complaining about it," he said. ^ top ^

 

Economy

World's fastest-growing housing markets were in Toronto, Reykjavik, and ...... Wuxi? (SCMP)
2017-09-01
Twenty one of the world's 50 fastest growing housing markets, based on price, are in China, according to a latest report, rekindling fears the domestic sector is overheating as money continues to pour into bricks and mortar. Complied by research house Hurun Report, the study highlights growth in global home prices in the 12 months to June 30, with 42 of the 50 cities under the spotlight from 12 countries it examined, being hit with price rises of more that 10 per cent in the period. The five cities to suffer the fastest growing prices were Toronto, Reykjavík, Wuxi, Hong Kong and Zhengzhou, the provincial capital of Henan Province. Six Chinese cities were named in top 10, while that total of 21 makes the country the most listed, followed by the US (Seattle, Orlando, Dallas, Denver, New York, Sacramento and Miami), Germany (Berlin, Hanover, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg), Canada (Toronto, Hamilton, Victoria and Vancouver), Australia (Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra), Ireland and New Zealand with 2 cities each. Maybe surprisingly, the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi – around 140 kilometres or a 2-hour drive, west of Shanghai – overtook Hong Kong, recently dubbed "the world's most expensive housing market", to become the Chinese city so see the highest growth in home prices, as it is much less known than other major population centres such as Beijing and Shanghai.. Wuxi, in the southern Chinese province of Jiangsu, borders two other large cities, Changzhou to the west and Suzhou to the east, and saw a 22. 9 per cent rise in prices in the period, exceeding Hong Kong's 20.8 per cent rise, according to Hurun Report, which is best-known for its rankings of the richest people in China. The other four Chinese cities in top 10 are Zhengzhou, the capital of east-central China's Henan province (+20.2 per cent), Changsha in Hunan province (+18.5 per cent), Guangzhou (+17.9 per cent) in Guangdong province and Shijiazhuang (+16.1 per cent) in Hebei. "Global asset allocation is one of the biggest trends now for China's high-net-worth individuals, led by real estate," said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report. Jinan, Hefei, Wuhan, Xiamen, Hangzhou, Xi'an, Fuzhou, Nanjing, Tianjin, Nanning, Chongqing, Beijing, Qingdao, Nanchang and Shanghai are those ranked outside the top 10 but also among the top 50, said the report. David Hong, ‎head of research at E-house (China) Enterprise Group, however, suggested the rise in Wuxi's property prices "could be just temporary". "It could be [a case of] some high-end projects being opened there during the period which pushed up the increase in housing prices, or just that people who could not invest in properties in bigger cities due to government restrictions, have shifted their focus to smaller ones." ^ top ^

Sharjah government plans to issue yuan bond in China, sources say (SCMP)
2017-08-31
The government of the emirate of Sharjah plans to issue a yuan-denominated bond in China, which could make it the first Middle East issuer in the Chinese interbank bond market, according to sources familiar with the matter. Sharjah, one of the seven members of the United Arab Emirates, is in the process of applying to issue the instrument, known as a panda bond, said the sources, who declined to be named as the matter is not yet public. The size of the planned issue was not known, and the government of Sharjah declined to comment. Gulf governments and companies have boosted bond issuance over the past year because low oil prices have pushed state budgets into deficit and tightened liquidity in their banking systems. To encourage greater global use of the yuan and diversify funding sources for its belt and road trade route connecting China by land and sea to Europe, Beijing is keen to attract more foreign issuers of bonds. Its interbank bond market is the third largest after the United States and Japan. Sharjah is a relatively frequent issuer in the international debt markets, having sold US$750 million of 10-year sukuk in 2014 and $500 million of five-year sukuk in January last year. Other governments and companies in the Gulf are also weighing possible panda bond issues. Saudi Arabia's Vice-Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammed al-Tuwaijri said last week that Riyadh was willing to consider funding itself partly in yuan to cover its budget deficit and major investment projects. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is talking to governments and state-linked entities in the Gulf that are interested in issuing yuan-denominated bonds in China, a senior executive at ICBC, China's largest bank, said earlier this week. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

Beijing warns on peninsula woes: Not 'at our doorstep' (China Daily)
2017-09-01
China expects parties involved in the ongoing tensions on the Korean Peninsula to make rational and sensible choices and won't allow anyone to make trouble its doorstep, the Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry said on Thursday. "The current tensions are not screenplays or computer games, but an actual incident that determines the safety of the peoples on the peninsula and the peace in the entire region," Hua Chunying said at a news briefing in Beijing. She said China insists that sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea must be carried out within the framework of resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council. China strongly opposes the "long-arm jurisdiction" through which some countries want to use their domestic laws on the entities or individuals of another country. "Previous experiences have shown that problems would not be completely solved if the international community depended only on pressure and sanctions," Hua said. Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, also said on Thursday that China does not think military means should be an option for the peninsula, calling for calm and restraint to avoid escalations. He said the military will never allow anyone to make trouble "at our doorstep" and will not tolerate armed conflict or chaos on the peninsula. Hua said that the fundamental reason behind the complicated problems on the peninsula lies in the lack of trust between the DPRK and the United States, and the lack of trust between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea. Only through dialogue to address their security concerns could these nations find solutions to peacefully resolve problems, she said. China has proposed the "dual suspension" approach - that Pyongyang halts its nuclear and missile activities while Washington and Seoul cease their massive military drills - to break the deadlock. "The pity is that some nations have been deliberately ignoring the UN's requirement on dialogue, keeping their eyes on pressure and sanctions. They make trouble and jeopardize China's efforts on dialogue and peaceful solutions and when tensions arise, and they pass the buck and blame others," Hua said. "Such behaviors are destructive to addressing the Korean Peninsula issues." The DPRK fired an intermediate-range missile that flew over Japan on Tuesday. It said on Wednesday the launch was a first step to military action to "contain" the US territory of Guam after US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that "all options are on the table". ^ top ^

China says sanctions against DPRK must be within framework of UN Security Council (Global Times)
2017-08-31
China said Wednesday sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) must be within the framework of the UN Security Council. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's remarks came after the UN Security Council released a president's statement, which strongly condemned Monday's missile launch by the DPRK as well as several launches Friday. "The Security Council expresses its grave concern that the DPRK is, by conducting such a launch over Japan as well as its recent actions and public statements, deliberately undermining regional peace and stability and has caused grave security concerns around the world," said the statement. Noting the statement reflects the consensus of the international community, Hua said, "China is opposed to any unilateral sanction or long-arm jurisdiction in accordance with one country's domestic law." Hua said China hopes all parties will implement Security Council resolutions earnestly, comprehensively and completely. When asked about China's communication and coordination with Russia on the issue, Hua said China and Russia share the same goal, which was, by and large shared by all other permanent members of the UN Security Council and the whole international community. It's only that some countries may differ on specific approaches to realize the goal at this stage, she said. China is willing to continue coordination and cooperation with Russia, to maintain peace and stability in the region and around the world, she added. ^ top ^

The fishy side of China's ban on North Korean imports(SCMP)
2017-08-31
Tonnes of North Korean seafood are being smuggled into China every night despite the imposition of new UN sanctions a fortnight ago and a resulting Chinese crackdown on the trade, sources on the border have told the South China Morning Post. "We've been experiencing an unprecedented, extremely harsh time since the marine police started to bar us from importing seafood from the North Korean side as a result of the sanctions on seafood trading," said the boss of one trading firm based in Dandong, Liaoning, which is separated from North Korea by the Yalu River. The boss, surnamed Li, said his company had been importing marine products caught by North Korean fishermen for years and could not afford to stop. Beijing backed new, more severe UN sanctions imposed on North Korea on August 15 which banned North Korean exports of seafood, iron and iron ore in retaliation for Pyongyang's repeated nuclear weapon and intercontinental ballistic missile tests. Li, a tanned fisherman-turned-trader in his 50s, told the Post that Chinese marine police patrols in the waters traversed by the small Chinese cargo ships on four-hour voyages to and from a North Korean trade zone had stopped 90 per cent of local imports of North Korean seafood. "But rather than patrolling the waters around the clock, the [Chinese] marine police get off duty in the evening, giving up to 10 ships from a similar number of trading companies ways to sneak to the North Korean trade zone during the evening high tide and load up with seafood before returning to Dandong in the small hours," he said. Li said that in past years, between 80 and 100 ships would make the trip each day in the peak season around the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on October 4 this year, each carrying dozens of tonnes of North Korean seafood. That was when traders could make lucrative profits, he said, with larger crabs loaded with eggs able to be sold to wholesalers for up to 280 yuan (US$42) a kilogram. At present, they were paying the North Koreans 20 yuan a kilogram and selling them to wholesalers for 60 yuan. Dandong, in eastern Liaoning, previously accounted for about 70 per cent of the trade between China and North Korea. Li said the traders were facing huge losses because they had already paid 100,000 yuan in bribes to North Korean police for each ship and also paid the ship captain 70,000 yuan a year and each of his five crewmen 50,000 yuan a year. He said some had even spent tens of thousands of yuan buying fishing vessels for North Korean partners, who repaid them in seafood. "Apart from that, we give large amounts of clean water, wine, cigarettes, lighters, playing cards and batteries to the North Korean fishermen for free, although we pay them with US dollars each time," Li said. Because it was a low season for cross-border trade at the moment, Li said each ship was currently loaded with no more than 1,800 kilograms of crabs, along with hundreds of kilograms of clams and conches. In a wet market in Dandong's central Baoshan district, vendors selling crabs for 80 yuan a kilogram said they had bought them from wholesalers in Donggang, 40km downstream. On Tuesday afternoon, many barrels of crabs could be seen being unloaded from a truck at the Donggang wholesale seafood market. When asked where were the seafood had come from, a middle-aged woman busy marking down the weight of each basket of crabs said: "Some of the seafood sold here is raised by farming. Others by catching. As all Chinese fishermen are banned from fishing before September, all the crabs and clams and the like are imported from North Korea for the time being." Li said almost all the seafood in Chinese waters had been exhausted as a result of overfishing, while the relatively cold and less salty water in the North Korean part of the Yellow Sea meant crabs, clams and conches caught there tasted better than those from other waters, and that was why they were so popular in China. ^ top ^

On North Korea, Trump declares 'talking is not the answer' - but his defence chief Mattis swiftly disagrees (SCMP)
2017-08-31
President Donald Trump on Wednesday declared "talking is not the answer" to the tense stand-off with North Korea over its nuclear missile development, but his defence chief swiftly asserted that diplomatic options remain and Russia demanded US restraint. Trump's comment, a day after Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile over Japan that drew UN and other international condemnation, renewed his tough rhetoric toward reclusive, nuclear-armed and increasingly isolated North Korea. "The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years," tweeted Trump. "Talking is not the answer!" When asked by reporters just hours later if the United States was out of diplomatic solutions with North Korea amid rising tensions after a series of missile tests by Pyongyang, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis replied: "No." "We are never out of diplomatic solutions," Mattis said before a meeting with his South Korean counterpart at the Pentagon. "We continue to work together, and the minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations and our interests." Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke by telephone with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and urged the United States to refrain from any military action on the Korean peninsula that would be "fraught with unpredictable consequences," Russia's Foreign Ministry said. Trump, who has vowed not to let North Korea develop nuclear missiles that can hit the mainland United States, had said on Tuesday "all options are on the table," a veiled reference to military force. Lavrov also said Russia, which wields veto power on the UN Security Council, believed any further sanctions on North Korea would be counterproductive, it added. Japan urged fresh sanctions. In Geneva, US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood said discussions were under way among world powers on what kind of further sanctions could be imposed. North Korea said the launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Tuesday was to counter US and South Korean military drills and was a first step in military action in the Pacific on "containing" the US island territory of Guam. The 15-member UN Security Council on Tuesday condemned the firing of the missile over Japan as "outrageous," and demanded that North Korea halt its weapons programme but the US-drafted statement did not threaten new sanctions. Trump's mention of payments to North Korea appeared to be a reference to previous US aid to Pyongyang. A US Congressional Research Service report said that between 1995 and 2008, the United States provided North Korea with more than US$1.3 billion in assistance, mostly for food and energy. The aid was part of a nuclear deal that North Korea later violated. The latest tweet by the Republican US president drew criticism from some quarters in Washington. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy wrote on Twitter that it was perhaps the "most dangerous, irresponsible tweet of his entire Presidency". Mattis and Tillerson have emphasised finding a diplomatic solution on North Korea, and have used softer tones than Trump on this and other matters. For example, days after Trump vowed on August 8 to unleash "fire and fury" against North Korea if it threatened the United States, the two wrote a Wall Street Journal commentary assuring Pyongyang that "The US has no interest in regime change or accelerated reunification of Korea." North Korea had threatened to fire four missiles into the sea near Guam, home to a major US military presence, after Trump's "fire and fury" remark. The Pentagon's Missile Defence Agency and the crew of the guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones conducted a "complex missile defence flight test" off Hawaii early on Wednesday, resulting in the intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile target, the agency said. The agency's director, Lieutenant General Sam Greaves, called the test "a key milestone" in giving US Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence ships an enhanced capability, but did not mention North Korea. The United States and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. North Korea routinely says it will never give up its weapons programmes, calling them necessary to counter perceived American hostility. North Korea has conducted numerous ballistic missile tests in defiance of UN sanctions, but firing a projectile over mainland Japan was a rare and provocative move. Japan pushed the United States on Wednesday to propose new UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea, which diplomats said could target the country's labourers working abroad, oil supply and textile exports. Diplomats expected resistance from Russia and fellow veto-wielding power China, particularly given new measures were only recently imposed after Pyongyang staged two long-range missile launches in July. Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke by telephone and confirmed their "continuing, close cooperation" regarding Pyongyang's latest launch, the White House said. Speaking during a visit to the Japanese city of Osaka, British Prime Minister Theresa May called on China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, to put more pressure on North Korea, echoing Trump's view. Asked about her comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that some "relevant sides," when it comes to sanctions, "storm to the front, but when it comes to pushing for peace they hide at the very back." ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Left-turn ban lifted (Gogo Mongolia)
2017-08-31
On Aug 31, City Mayor S.Batbold canceled the left turn ban on seven intersections of Peace avenue due to it has not achieved the main goal to reduce traffic congestion. Thus, drivers are able to turn left on seven intersections of Ulaanbaatar city`s main road (from Eastern central intersection to the Western central intersection which lays 3.6 km) starting 6 a.m tomorrow (Sep 1). Today police will tear down the road signs prohibited the left-turning. On Aug 15, left turns are banned based on a one-year study conducted by a working group and total of MNT 14 million (USD 5.7 thousand) was spent for the ban. In addition, City Mayor introduced measures to be undertaken to reduce traffic congestion. •City administrative staffs to use public transportation once in a week •Delivery trucks (electric devices, furniture etc..) to take part in traffic only from 9 p.m to 7 a.m •Private schools to offer bus for their students •Move state service organizations to rural areas of the city such as Yarmag, Dejiin 1000 •Prohibit establishing university in Ulaanbaatar city •Move Mining School of the University of Science and Technology to Erdenet city and to move Agronomist School of the University of Agriculture to Darkhan aimag. Further City Mayor criticised state officials who use their office cars to ferry their children to school and back. He added that private schools must lower their bus service tariff. ^ top ^

Mongolia-U.S-Japan joint statement released (Montsame)
2017-08-31
The participants underscored the importance of the Mongolia-U.S.-Japan trilateral meeting, launched in 2015, as a foundational mechanism allowing Mongolia and two of its "third neighbors"--Japan and the United States--to exchange views on regional and multilateral cooperation and economic integration. The 2017 trilateral meeting addressed issues of shared concern. The three countries expressed their grave concern over the regional and global threat posed by North Korea's continued development of nuclear and ballistic missile technology, especially in light of the August 29 ballistic missile launch over Japan. Noting the threat that such provocations pose to regional stability, they called on Pyongyang to immediately cease its destabilizing actions and to fully comply with its international obligations and commitments under all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) and its commitment under the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks in order to achieve a peaceful resolution to rising international tensions and the shared goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. The three countries called on all UN member states to fully implement all UNSCRs, especially the newer provisions of UNSCR 2371. The three countries emphasized the importance of an immediate resolution of abductions. The three countries also reinforced the importance of international law and standards as the foundation of peaceful, productive relations between countries. Moreover, they pledged to promote increased trilateral cooperation at the United Nations and other international organizations. The participants also affirmed their shared intent to promote trilateral and multilateral security and defense cooperation. Japan and the United States expressed their great appreciation for Mongolia's contributions to UN peacekeeping operations and continued stability operations in conflict zones worldwide. Mutually beneficial economic development remains a key theme in the trilateral relationship. The three countries discussed opportunities to increase trade and make Mongolia's business and investment climate increasingly attractive to Japanese and U.S. firms, particularly through improved transparency and predictability. In order to enhance foreign investors' trust and reinvigorate the Mongolian economy, Japan and the United States expressed their hope Mongolia would fully implement its arrangement with the IMF. Japan and the United States noted Mongolia's natural competitive advantage in the agricultural sector and welcomed exploring opportunities to work with Mongolia to achieve its renewable energy goals. ^ top ^

 

Mr. Valentin Jeanneret
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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